Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Face as a Blank Canvas

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Thirty-one-year-old Mimi Choi is a Vancouver-based make-up artist who creates mind-blowing optical illusions on herself.
Never using Photoshop for any of her pictures, Choi creates the illusions using only her makeup skills to achieve everything from quadrupling eyes to slicing her head in half.
“My face is a blank canvas where I can practice my art”, Choi explains.
Using a black eyeliner to give the effect of negative space, she has also severed her arm to show lemon flesh and transformed her hand into a piece of prawn sushi.
Often spending up to five hours on an artwork, Choi aims to use her Instagram to champion the benefits of releasing your creativity through any and every possible outlet.
“I hope that my strange creativity can inspire people to think outside the box", Choi writes on Instagram. She writes about having struggled with anxiety and panic attacks, expressing the liberating value of imagination in her work.
Painting, highlighting and contouring through these inventive experimentations, Choi's creations are in every way jaw dropping.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Raja Bomoh's Pure Drama Confession

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After so many well-publicized rituals, the self-proclaimed "Raja Bomoh" finally saw the error of his ways and supposedly repented.
He had admitted that his offbeat actions that involved the use of "bamboo binoculars" and coconuts to apparently help solve some of the “puzzling” events that occurred in Malaysia, including the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 – were nothing more than staged shows. Ibrahim Mat Zin himself described them as pure drama.
But only after he was arrested in Segamat, Johor on April 21 and charged in the Syariah Court on Tuesday – under Section 7 (a) of the Syariah Criminal Offenses (Federal Territories) Act 1997 (Act 559) for insulting Islam or bringing Islam into disrepute.
He, of course, pleaded guilty.
Additionally, he promised not to repeat his "viral" antics that had caused embarrassment to the country.
But that was not all.
At the office of the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (JAWI) yesterday, Ibrahim claimed he was instructed by certain individuals to perform the bizarre capers but that he was unable to reveal their identities.
And he even renounced the "Raja Bomoh Sedunia" title.
Only in Malaysia!

I received this birthday card, specially made with love from Kashveena:

Thank you very much!

PAS are One with UMNO

The DAP on Sunday called on Malaysian voters NOT to consider PAS as an opposition party, but as an ally of the ruling BN (read, UMNO) in the upcoming 14th General Election.
Their FT chairmperson Tan Kok Wai said people should not be misled into believing there would be a three-cornered fight if a constituency sees a race between candidates from PAS, BN and a Pakatan Harapan party.
He explained that PAS are not a real opposition party because the party had already allied themselves with Najib Razak and UMNO.
His take on this relationship was different: “If there is a PAS candidate, an UMNO candidate and a candidate from Pakatan Harapan, then that’s still a one-on-one race, not a three-cornered fight”.
Meaning, PAS + UMNO vs PH = 1 vs 1.
On Monday, 1MDB declared at the London Stock Exchange that Abu Dhabi-based International Petroleum Investment Company are to receive $602,725,000 by July 31 and a further $602,725,000 by December 31 – as their debt settlement with Abu Dhabi-based International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC).
1MDB and Malaysia’s MoF Inc (Minister of Finance Incorporated) also undertook to assume responsibility for all future interest and principal payments on the two bonds issued by 1MDB that were guaranteed by both 1MDB and IPIC, the announcement added.
On the same day too, 1MDB confirmed the proposed payments as part of arbitration proceedings between the two parties before the London Court of International Arbitration.
Najib Razak must clarify – where is the money coming from? Are taxpayers’ money being used to pay off IPIC?
Malaysians need to know. We want to know. We demand an answer!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Donald Trump's Mental Health in Question

Some psychiatrists are claiming that their President (left) is “paranoid and delusional” and, therefore, he is not fit to lead the US of A.

Twenty-five of them had met at Yale University on April 20, 2017 to discuss evidence questioning Donald Trump's mental health.

John Gartner, a practicing psychotherapist who advised psychiatric residents at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, said: “We have an ethical responsibility to warn the public about Trump's dangerous mental illness”.

Bandy Lee, assistant clinical professor in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, said: “As some prominent psychiatrists have noted, [Trump’s mental health] is the elephant in the room. I think the public is really starting to catch on and widely talk about this now”.

James Gilligan, a psychiatrist and professor at New York University, said he had worked with some of the “most dangerous people in society”, including murderers and rapists – but that he was convinced by the “dangerousness” of Trump.

These claims, in turn, had drawn scolding comments from some in the psychiatric establishment, who said they violated the American Psychiatric Association’s “Goldwater rule” – which states psychiatrists are not to give professional opinions on people they have not personally examined.

Not surprisingly, they had also been condemned by some Republicans – one of whom was Connecticut Republican Party chairperson JR Romano, who accused the group of “throwing ethical standards out the window because they cannot accept the election results”.

Responding to the criticisms, Dr Gartner said: “This notion that you need to personally interview someone to form a diagnosis actually doesn’t make a whole lotta sense. For one thing, research shows that the psychiatric interview is the least statistical reliable way to make a diagnosis”.

A spokesperson for Yale University told UK’s The Independent the Goldwater rule had been abided but that the organizer was "troubled" by the "silencing of debate".

Last weekend, a troop of Toastmasters went to Sunway University to spend two days with 53 Peneraju students. Sunway TES hosted the Toastmasters’ Youth Leadership Program and Liquid Gold Advanced Toastmasters Club conducted it. Successfully, if I may add.

In fact, we tweaked the program and made it even more effective. Believe it or not, we saw real transformation! 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Maldivian Blogger Stabbed to Death

Twenty-nine-year-old Yameen Rasheed, who used his Daily Panic blog to poke fun at politicians, has been stabbed to death in Male – the third media figure to be targeted in the Indian ocean archipelago in the past five years.
The blogger was found early on Sunday in the stairwell of his apartment building in the Maldivian capital with multiple stab wounds to his neck and chest. He died shortly after being taken to hospital, family members said.
An IT professional by trade, Yameen maintained the blog in his spare time, writing that he aimed to report “the unfiltered truth, the sickening facts, the gruesome details, and – because this is the Maldives – the painfully obvious”.
He was arrested along with scores of others and imprisoned for three weeks in 2015 after taking part in an anti-government rally in the capital.
Zaheena Rasheed, a friend and the editor of the Maldives Independent news website said he was often abused for being a “secularist with an agenda” – though his writing focused on social justice, government incompetence, corruption and waste.
The blogger had been relentlessly asking questions over the disappearance in August 2014 of Ahmed Rilwan, a journalist with the Minivan News whose whereabouts remain unknown.
Another blogger, Ismail Rasheed, also known as Hilath, was stabbed and wounded by an unidentified attacker in 2012. And not to mention, Afrasheem Ali, an MP whose Islamic scholarship had reportedly angered religious hardliners in the country, was murdered the same year.
Celtic beat Rangers 2-0 yesterday to set up a Scottish Cup final against Aberdeen and the chance to complete a domestic treble.
Callum McGregor's superbly placed finish in the eleventh minute put the Scotish Premiership champions ahead and then Scott Sinclair squeezed in a penalty in the fifty-first minute after Rangers' James Tavernier fouled Leigh Griffiths.
In an EPL match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace, the former lost 1-2 to the latter.
Liverpool seem to nearly always struggle badly against teams from the wrong end of the EPL. The Reds are just not good enough! Sigh!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bringing Back English-medium Schools in Sabah

Yesterday, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan (right) proposed that English-medium government schools in Sabah be re-established.
The Kota Belud MP said the suggestion is a proactive measure to produce human capital that is more productive and more competitive.
"By mastering the language, Sabah will be able to 'speed up' pursuit of reducing the development gap between the state and those in the peninsular”, he explained.
Is he saying that English proficiency is now urgently needed for Sabah to develop and that Malay-medium education has been less than successful?
It’s not just Sabah that should have English-medium schools but the whole country. 
On Wednesday and Thursday last week, I was at the Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur in Jalan Sultan Ismail in KL for a MAPSA (Malaysian Association of Professional Secretaries and Administrators) event – the AdminPro Summit 2017.



I met fellow Toastmasters and among them were Melvin Tan, Stephen Fernando and Simon Soh.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Quota Policy Insults the Malays

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On Wednesday, Khairy Jamaluddin showed his hypocrisy when he spoke to Indian youths at a dialogue session.
The Youth and Sports Minister had agreed with a participant who questioned the quota policy favoring Malay students for university places.
“We should start seeing this quota (system) as something that is a bit insulting, that we need a quota to get somewhere”, Khairy said.
“Just as there is a perception of discrimination amongst other communities, we also feel that maybe we are not that good, because other communities are saying that, ‘Hey, you are here only because of the quota’”, he continued.
“I want the Malay community to compete on a level playing field”, he emphasized.
You and I know that he didn’t mean it at all. He was just trying to make himself look good in front of a non-Malay audience. He wouldn’t dare say it in front of his UMNO crowd! 
Besides, it is not just about university places but it involves also entry into the civil service, housing, qualification for small business loans and corporate equity.
Ibrahim Ali from Malay pressure group Perkasa promptly rebuked Khairy, saying that the UMNO Youth leader should resign if he thinks the government’s quota policy is an insult to the Malay community.
Just one day after Khairy’s remarks, the Perkasa president said the quota system was provided for in the Federal Constitution, and that abolishing the said policy would undermine national security.
And he alluded that if it happens, there will be violence. He warned: “It will create extremism, terrorism, if they are not treated well”.
Today, an UMNO Supreme Council member rejected any suggestion that the quota system is insulting to the Malay community. According to Sohaimi Shahadan, as reported by Malay daily Sinar Harian, he declared that “as ‘masters’ on our own land, Bumiputeras or Malays indeed deserves to enjoy the privileges at all times…”
What started as a means to supposedly address social disparity among the Malays and the non-Malays has now turned into a sacred right for one segment of the population. This is Malaysia.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Google Translate Songs with Anne Hathaway

Check out The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon and in this particular segment, featuring Anne Hathaway. Both took turns to sing songs – after running the lyrics through Google Translate. Enjoy!
Yesterday, the UK Parliament voted by 522 to 13 in favor of Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to hold an early national election.
The country is not due to hold a national election until 2020 but May said on Tuesday she wanted to bring that forward to June 08 this year in order to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations with the European Union.
And yesterday too, I was back in Shah Alam for the Zuellig Pharma Toastmasters meeting – where again, I evaluated two CC speeches.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Still No Closure for MH370

The baffling mystery that surrounds the disappearance of the vanished MH370 is still no closer to a closure.

The Malaysia Airlines flight  went missing in March 2014 with 239 passengers and crew on board, most of them China citizens, en route to Beijing from the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.
On Monday, The Australian reported that ATSB chief commissioner Greg Hood invoked the Transport Safety Investigation Act to prevent the release of any information pertaining to its search for the missing plane. In fact, he had threatened employees who leaked any details related to MH370 to the public or a court with a two-year jail sentence.
Hood used the statute to reject a plea from the families of the Chinese passengers who perished on MH370 that he grant a Freedom of Information request from The Australian – with the families claiming failure to do so makes Australia complicit in a cover-up by the Malaysian government.
The documents sought from ATSB are the opinions of international experts, including from American and British air crash agencies, Boeing, aerospace group Thales, and British satellite group Inmarsat, about satellite data that automatically tracked the course of MH370.
It is said that some Australian Transport Safety Bureau officers are having second thoughts about the agency’s official line that MH370’s pilots were unconscious or dead at the end of the flight.
In February, ATSB general manager for strategic capability Colin McNamara had refused The Australian’s original FOI request, claiming release of the said information could “cause damage to the international relations of the commonwealth”.
Stop playing politics!!!
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Dzulkifli Ahmad (left) made a call to have corruption and power abuse declared as the country's ‘public enemy No. 1’.
“The time has come for all parties to be up in arms to address this as it has become a national issue", he had urged on Monday.
He reiterated that every untoward incident in the country was linked closely to corruption and power abuse – and this is detrimental to the image of the nation. Whether drug trafficking, human trafficking, leakages in government funds, gambling, financial fraud, prostitution and turf wars.
He forgot to mention 1MDB.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Two Monkeys in Parliament

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Nanyang Siang Pau found itself in hot soup over its cartoon on the RUU35i5 issue and portraying the PAS president and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia as monkeys.
The monkey with the “songkok” was labelled ‘speaker’ and the other one with a “serban” – “Hadi Awang”.
The Nanyang cartoon with the caption “Monkeys playing tricks”, with the word “tricks” referencing to the said Bill – showed the “Hadi” monkey offering the RUU355 “hot potato” to the “Pandikar” monkey, who leapt off the tree saying, “Keep it for next time”, as a troop of monkeys below got into a fight fest.
It was published in the newspaper two days after Abdul Hadi Awang tabled his Private Member’s Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) on April 06, 2017.
Of course the Chinese daily had just as quickly apologized and hurriedly deleted the lampoon.
Predictably, PAS Youth and Muslim NGOs staged a noisy protest outside the Chinese-language newspaper’s office. The police too wanted to get involved in this monkey business and they promptly announced they would launch an investigation, with the Inspector-General of Police sternly warning the media against publishing “sensitive” cartoons.
Aiyah, what's the big deal? Mocking the RUU355 debacle that had witnessed a fifth tabling of Hadi’s Syariah Bill – which seeks to enhance punishments – without resulting in any debate and vote, thanks to Najib Razak’s manipulative handiwork DID NOT even qualify as an itsy-bitsy teenie-weenie deal lah. This is more like a circus act featuring two performing primates.
And for everybody’s info, the newspaper cartoon did not insult Islam! It merely took a jibe at the way Hadi’s Bill had been politicized since it first appeared in Parliament’s Order Paper in April 2015. Hello, a piece of legislation cannot be equated to a religion.
Why the brouhaha over a caricature when Hadi himself had called the DAP a piece of “shit”? Play fair lah.
After all, it is Hadi’s right to give names as he chooses even if it makes him sound severely stupid!
Why can’t we allow people to say whatever they want, as long as they do not advocate physical harm? Why can’t we allow for diversity of thought and opinion? Seriously, why do we take things so seriously?
If Nanyang Siang Pau must be guilty – it is simply for ridiculing monkeys! Now that is rude!


And on Thursday, artist activist Fahmi Reza uploaded a caricature of Abdul Hadi Awang as an ape on Facebook, tearing up the published cartoon that had depicted him as a monkey.
It was his way of protesting against PAS for their hypocrisy as well as telling us his right of freedom of expression.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Religious Controls Rife in Malaysia

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Malaysia continues to strictly control religious practices, with an annual study grouping it together with other Muslim-majority countries practicing “very high” restrictions, such as Saudi Arabia, Brunei, and Turkey.
The study, published on Tuesday by US-based think tank Pew Research Center, found that Malaysia’s religious controls worsened in 2015, scoring 8.0 out of 10 points on the Government Restriction Index compared to 7.0 the previous year.
Topping the 2015 list was Egypt, China, Iran and Russia, followed by Uzbekistan and Malaysia which shared the same score. A total of 198 countries were surveyed in the study.
Pew said government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion increased in 2015; the first time it has done so in three years.
“The increase in government restrictions was linked to a surge in government harassment and use of force against religious groups, two of the specific indicators used to measure government restrictions on religion in the analysis”, said the report, referring to the global situation.
The GRI comprises 20 measures of restrictions, including efforts by government to ban particular faiths, prohibit conversion, limit preaching or giving preferential treatment to one or more religious groups.
Malaysia was also placed in the “high” group on the Social Hostilities Index, which measures acts of religious hostility by private individuals, organizations or groups in society.
The two indices were based on international reports on religious freedom from the United States, European and UN bodies, and independent NGOs across the world.
In the Scottish Premiership game on Sunday, Celtic drew 2-2 with Ross County. The former are now unbeaten in 40 domestic games this season.
And on the same day too, this EPL match between Liverpool and West Brom saw the Reds beat the Baggies 1-0.
Roberto Firmino headed in the only goal (45+1) and Liverpool return to third place with this win in an uneventful game.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Compassion Flees

At the Petaling Jaya Magistrates' Court on Thursday, Yew Kah Sin pleaded guilty to attempted suicide by slashing her left wrist and right hand with a knife. She ended up in a hospital and received 30 stitches for her effort.
Magistrate Salamiah Salleh said suicide was not a solution, no matter how much pressure a person faced. She then imposed a RM2,000 fine on the unemployed 24-year-old woman.
Compassion seems to have fled in this particular case.
Yet, we must not forget the alternative argument. As Susanna Kaysen (“Girl, Interrupted”) said: “Suicide is a form of murder – premeditated murder. It isn't something you do the first time you think of doing it. It takes getting used to. And you need the means, the opportunity, the motive. A successful suicide demands good organization and a cool head, both of which are usually incompatible with the suicidal state of mind”.
In fact, another news item had highlighted that a total of 122 suicide cases have been reported in Selangor between January to December last year.
This alarming number of cases was documented by the Criminal Investigation Department of Selangor Police Contingent Headquarters and shared with Subang Jaya assemblyperson Hannah Yeoh.
Citing records obtained from IPD Subang Jaya, Yeoh said 65 suicide cases were reported in Subang Jaya between 2011 and 2015. What troubled her even more was the fact that there are many more cases that go unreported or get ruled as sudden death upon the family’s request.
When she initiated a suicide awareness campaign in her constituency, the outcome was a 30 percent increase in calls to Befrienders from Subang Jaya residents.
We really need to appreciate how precious life is!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Like a Thief in the Night


Bernama pic
Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Friday that the BN alliance is ready for the fourteenth General Election.
Najib, who is also BN chairperson and UMNO president, said intensive preparations had been and were being carried out by his party as well as the component parties.
And he sounded a clear warning to the opposition – that he is confident of outright victory.
He had trumpeted: “GE14 can be held this year or next year. Whether this year or next year, we will still win. We have sharpened the sword”.
Damn cocky, isn’t he?
A day later, Najib made a clarion call on all pro-government social media activists to go on the offensive in cyberspace to defend the government and help BN retain Putrajaya.
"We have long been in defensive mode. Enough. It is now time to attack!" he said in a post on his blog titled "2017 Social Media Activists Assembly".
GE14 is approaching – and Najib has given the order to fire at Pakatan Harapan, signaling his stubborn desire to stay put in Putrajaya.
The opposition coalition better get their act together; otherwise Najib, like a thief in the night, will steal the election again.
And Malaysians end up as losers!   

Friday, April 14, 2017

Embedded Political Messages in X-Men Gold

The X-Men series touches on mutants who are persecuted by society

The 'QS 5:51' is a reference to a passage in the Quran

In this panel, the numbers "212" referenced a significant political date in Jakarta, Indonesia
All pics credit to

Marvel Comics made an apology when one of their illustrators made hidden hints to an ongoing political blowup in Indonesia. 
The imagery included by Indonesian Muslim Ardian Syaf, a freelance contributor to Marvel, was called "bigoted" and he was accused of "spreading hatred" by social media users. Some even saw anti-Semitic sentiment in his artwork.
The maiden issue of Marvel's latest X-Men Gold series was released in early April 2017. Marvel had since said they will take the offending references out of subsequent print editions, as well as take disciplinary action.
The said artist had spoken to Indonesian media following the controversy, saying while he was expressing a political view, he was not trying to spread hate.
The two politically-charged mentions in the comic:
The first reference was spotted on metallic Russian mutant Colossus, who wears an innocent-looking T-shirt during a baseball game. The shirt has the words 'QS 5:51' on it – a reference to a passage in the Quran interpreted by some to mean that Muslims should not appoint Jews and Christians as their leader.
The number 51 also appeared elsewhere throughout the issue, further referencing the passage.
The reason this is controversial is because it is widely seen as a reference to the case against the governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (widely known as Ahok). Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent, is currently on trial for blasphemy.
He has angered hard-core Muslims after he referenced the passage while campaigning last year. The prosecution says he insulted Islam but Purnama insisted his comments were aimed at politicians "incorrectly" using the Quranic verse to make a case against his re-election.
The second reference came in a panel scene involving mutant and X-Men leader Kitty Pryde, who was seen addressing a crowd on the street. The number "212" is written on a wall in this scene.
Many readers noted its significance – the largest-ever street protest organized by hardline Muslim demonstrators against Purnama took place on December 02, 2016 (hence 2-12 for 2 December). 
Ardian Syaf had previously confessed to participating in this rally.
Marvel had already distanced themselves from the above mischief and issued the following statement: "The mentioned artwork was inserted without knowledge behind its reported meanings. These implied references do not reflect the views of the writer, editors or anyone else at Marvel and are in direct opposition of the inclusiveness of Marvel Comics and what the X-Men have stood for since their creation".
The X-Men are mutants who tackle bigotry as they fight for equality and peace with humans.
Illustrator Gary Choo, who previously worked on Marvel artwork and covers, said planting political opinions and ideals into comics isn't something new.
"Politics should continue to find its way into comic books", he told the BBC. "But for what Marvel represents, this episode definitely did not fit into Marvel's storytelling".
On Thursday, I was at the lunch-time meeting of the Ireka Toastmasters Club. I was a Speech Evaluator.

And in the evening, I was in Shah Alam for the Zuellig Pharma Toastmasters meeting and where I evaluated two CC speeches.