Thursday, January 31, 2019

Celebrating Nasi Lemak

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the rich, fragrant, and spicy dish, known as Nasi Lemak. 

The dish – considered the national dish of Malaysia and widely eaten year-round – is what many Malaysians start their day with. 

I am very Malaysian and I take my nasi lemak very seriously! And sharing with you that nasi lemak is best accompanied with Coca-Cola! 

Although the name translates from Malay as “rich rice” (a reference to the coconut milk included in the recipe) there is another origin story for the name. 

According to legend, the daughter of a widow named Mak Kuntum accidentally spilled coconut milk into the rice pot. “What did you cook?” Mak asked and her daughter answered. "Nasi le, Mak!" (Rice, mother!) 

There are many variations of the dish across the multi-ethnic melting pot of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and other indigenous and imported cultures, but the fundamental recipe – featured in today’s video Doodle – is rice cooked with santan (or coconut milk) and flavored with pandan leaf and galangal root, served with ikan bilis (fried anchovies), crispy peanuts (skin on), sliced cucumber, hard-boiled egg, and sambal (hot sauce) or a splash of tamarind juice, with an optional piece of fried chicken or beef rendang on the side. 

In fact, nasi lemak is so popular it’s also eaten for lunch and dinner, too! 

The 40-second video titled “Celebrating Nasi Lemak” featured the preparation of the ubiquitous dish:

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Deloitte Malaysia Fined RM2.2 Million

The Securities Commission Malaysia has reprimanded and fined Deloitte PLT RM2.2 million for four breaches related to the RM2.4 billion Sukuk Murabahah program issued by Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd (BMSB) in 2014. 

The commission said it found the breaches committed by Deloitte serious in nature, as they had failed to discharge their statutory obligations. 

The commission said Deloitte were the statutory auditor for BMSB and 1MDB Real Estate Sdn Bhd (1MDB RE) for the financial years ended March 31, 2015 to 2016. 

1MDB RE, now known as TRX City Sdn Bhd, were one of the third-party security providers of the sukuk program and the immediate holding company of BMSB. 1MDB were the holding company of 1MDB RE and BMSB. 

The then Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee chairperson Nur Jazlan Mohamed had maintained stoically that the former prime minister’s son, Nizar Najib was not a part of the Deloitte & Co team that audited 1MDB when he cleared the firm of an alleged conflict of interest (Malay Mail Online, June 10, 2015). 

Methinks, we should re-visit and re-look this.

World Speech Day – Kuala Lumpur has grown big and assumed mega proportions. Seventy speaking slots have been snapped up in just 3 days and now, we have added another 70!

It's going to be a spectacular speech marathon!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Najib Razak Accumulates a Total 42 Criminal Charges

Former Prime Minister Najib Razak was charged in the High Court here Monday on three additional charges involving money laundering totalling RM47 million, five years ago. He has now accumulated a total of 42 criminal charges. 

Outstanding film and television performances of 2018 were honoured at the 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday. 

Bohemian Rhapsody’s Rami Malek (left) won the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role. 

And Black Panther for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture. 

I was back at the NAWEM Toastmasters meeting yesterday. 

It wasn’t a happy meeting for me because my CC #10 speech “Failing is Not an Option” was given the thumbs-down by my evaluator, DTM Andal Krishnan. And that means, I will have to repeat the speech! She certainly brooked no nonsense!

My only consolation was the loh sang that was on the menu. At least Celina Joseph lessened the pain somewhat!

Piggy Wares for the Lunar New Year

I came across this FMT article today featuring a Muslim couple, Adam Baderun and Yuslina Badrum who is trading at the Riverson Walk bazaar at Kota Kinabalu Times Square in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. 

What’s so special is that they are hawking a variety of laser-cut items specially designed for the Lunar New Year. Key chains, pins and bookmarks are carefully arranged in rows. 

But perhaps the most eye-catching sight of all are the figurines of pigs, in conjunction with the Chinese zodiac animal being celebrated this year. 

The pig is considered unclean by the predominant Malay-Muslim community, but this Sabahan couple has no problem selling the figurines, nor do their customers seem fazed by the sight of tudung-clad Yuslina hawking her piggy wares. 

Yuslina, nicknamed Yus, is of Kadazan-Sungai descent. 

Yus, a secondary school teacher, doesn’t understand the fuss over the animal in semenanjung Malaysia. She says if people truly understand their religion, they won’t get upset over trivial matters. 

“For me, there is no issue (selling pig figurines)”, she said. “Pigs and dogs are God’s creation as well”. 

And she added: “You’d be surprised how much we can learn and understand about other people’s culture if we promote tolerance”. 

Adam said all of the items at their stall are made in their own shop in Penampang using laser cut technology. When asked about their experience of selling the figurines, he said it is a non-issue in Sabah. 

“In the peninsula, the very mention of babi or pig will raise red flags. But for us, we know our faith. Selling the icons will not shake our beliefs. We don’t consume the meat, and the items are just art”. 

He stressed: “It’s not our place to look down on other people’s culture. In Sabah, we live in a multiracial and multi-religious setting, and we tolerate each other. We learn to appreciate our respective beliefs”. 

Adam is an aircraft technician. His father is from Perak and his mother hails from Selangor, but both have been living in Sabah for over 40 years now. 

“My parents have no problem with us selling the pig icons”, he told FMT. “They have been here for so long and have learned how tolerant a society Sabah is”. 

But the lessons on respect, tolerance and harmony that Adam learned came from his wife, Yus. He and Yus, both 32 now, got married in 2013. 

“My wife’s family consists of Muslims and non-Muslims. That’s where I effectively learned about tolerance and understanding the beliefs of others”, he said. 

Adam and Yus said the pig figurines have been a hit among their customers. 

In the past, they have also sold items commemorating Easter and Christmas, including decorative pieces inscribed with Bible verses. 

It’s all about investing the time and effort to understand each other – we are Malaysians, after all.

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Reds Confront the Yellows

The red scarves say they are defending democracy and opposing violence. Image credit: Reuters

"Don't touch my republic" this red scarf protester declared. Image credit: AFP 

Across France, about 69,000 people took part in the eleventh consecutive weekend of yellow-vest (gilets jaunes) protests the interior ministry said. 

But now, a group calling itself the red scarves has held a march in Paris to counter weeks of anti-government protests by the yellow-vest movement. 

The "foulards rouges" are demanding an end to the violence witnessed at yellow-vest rallies. 

Note: The gilets jaunes movement grew out of fuel tax protests in November. It now embraces wider discontent with President Emmanuel Macron and has supposedly seen some of the most serious street violence in Paris since 1968. 

But the weeks of TV footage showing clashes with riot police and damage to public monuments have triggered a counter-movement and the red scarves now have about 21,000 followers on Facebook. More than 10,000 people took part in Sunday's march, Le Figaro reported. 

Just as quickly, a crack has appeared among the red scarves. One side is supportive of Macron and the other side does not. Laurent Soulié has rallied supporters on Facebook to back the president, RFI reported. And the other side, supposedly under Alex Brun, insisted the foulards rouges were "an apolitical citizens' movement". 

I can see that this whole situation will become very messy. 

Saturday’s match between Celtic and Hamilton Academical saw the former winning 3-0. Three different scorers, i.e. Callum McGregor (40), Ryan Christie (77) and Scott Sinclair (87) and the three goals helped their team move three points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Hyperinflation Curses Venezuela

Inflation has spiked in Venezuela, making it difficult for people to afford basic essentials. Image credit: Getty Images

It is sometimes difficult to fathom how inflation impacts ordinary people’s lives. Many of us wouldn't know unless it hits us in the pocket. 

I thought the photo above helps us to appreciate the devastating effects of inflation. 

In Venezuela’s case, it is already labelled hyperinflation – and for Venezuelans, it is causing untold hardships in their day-to-day lives. 

The country once boasted Latin America's richest economy – boosted by the biggest oil reserves on the planet. But under former president Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013, and current President Nicolás Maduro, corruption, mismanagement and high levels of debt have seen the country's economy collapse. 

Chávez took advantage of the oil boom in the 2000s to borrow heavily and government spending soared. Then, during Maduro's first term in office, the Venezuelan economy went into freefall. Many blamed him for worsening the country's decline. And of course, plummeting oil prices in 2016 compounded the oil-dependent country's crisis.

According to BBC News, it highlighted a study by the opposition-controlled National Assembly which said that the annual inflation rate reached 1,300,000% in the 12 months to November 2018. 

By the end of last year, prices were doubling every 19 days on average. This has left many Venezuelans struggling to afford important household items such as food and toiletries.

Some Venezuelans have turned to charity for food.  Image credit: Getty Images

On Thursday, I was at the Ireka Toastmasters meeting, after receiving a call for help. I was needed as a speech evaluator.

Ireka were fortunate because my Fonterra Brands Malaysia Toastmasters meeting was cancelled just a day before. Sigh, these days, club meetings are not what I've come to expect!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Pakatan Harapan Lose in Cameron Highlands

Barisan Nasional retained their hold on Cameron Highlands today, unbroken ever since the parliamentary seat was created in 2003. 

Their political greenhorn candidate Ramli Mohd Nor was declared the winner of the by-election with a handsome 3,238-vote majority over his closest rival from PH, M Manogaran.

UMNO had a clever strategy of course. They knew outside of urban areas, there are still large pockets of voters who will identify with candidates based on race and religion. So the choice of an Orang Asli who is a Muslim is a no-brainer. And to make it palatable to those who have no wish to be associated with corrupt UMNO, they picked a non-party member. With PAS on board – that would almost guarantee them enough votes to secure a win.

And if we analysed the GE14 results for this particular seat, it would already tell us that PH would find it challenging to win. Last year, the percentage of votes obtained by BN (MIC) is 10,307 (40.7%), PAS 3,587 (14.2%) and PH 9,710 (38.3% ). And BN (MIC) won by 597 votes. 

If PH had believed they could turn the tide, then they are still politically naive. 

Everybody seems to be saying that the BN victory is a reflection of Malaysians’ general dissatisfaction with the PH government. That seems to be the general sentiment but make no mistake, that particularly refers to Malaysians who had voted for PH.

After nearly nine months in Putrajaya, their achievements are only moving at a snail's pace and their missteps are glaringly embarrassing. There's no reason for Malaysians to sing the praises of Pakatan Harapan because they did little and they fulfilled little. They are just small-time politicians with small minds and small aspirations. 

PH should remember they are in power because Malaysians wanted change. And just as strongly, we wanted to kick out UMNO.

And the fact that the thieves are still running free and Najib Razak, for one, is emboldened by the government’s inability to corral him. In fact, he is unceasingly mocking the government and with impunity. 

The PH government that we have are not equipped to change the country. They are nothing more than poor-quality replacements. 

I was with a company of Toastmasters for a loh sang (Prosperity Toss) dinner at the Hakka Boa Seafood Restaurant in Jalan USJ21/5 in Subang Jaya, Selangor – and when somebody mentioned PH were trailing in the Cameron Highlands by-election, nobody batted an eyelid. They were not disconcerted nor dismayed nor disturbed. That's how dismissive we all were about the PH government. 

This by-election loss should serve as a wake-up call for PH – but maybe not. 

I think they’re too stupid to know they have been out-manoeuvred and they have only themselves to blame. And the fact that more and more Malaysians are getting pissed off with PH.

In the Scottish Premiership match on Wednesday, Celtic trounced St Mirren 4-0. The scorers were Oliver Burke (11, 55), Scott Sinclair (18) and Timothy Weah (86). Celtic have moved a point clear in the table.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Ilham Predict BN Victory in Cameron Highlands

Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional flags line a road in Cameron Highlands, January 24, 2019. Picture by Farhan Najib

Barisan Nasional are expected to win the Cameron Highlands by-election by a good margin, independent pollster Ilham Centre said today. 

Their executive director Azlan Zainal said a victory in Cameron Highlands will prove the effectiveness of the UMNO-PAS cohabitation. Yet, we all know that this partnership had been a flop in the Sungai Kandis, Seri Setia, Port Dickson, and Balakong by-elections last year. 

What UMNO-PAS did with red-hot aggressiveness was to plant fear amongst Malay-Muslims that Pakatan Harapan would jeopardise Malay rights and undermine Islam, And the latter’s defensiveness and weakness in handling Malay-Muslim issues didn’t help matters at all. 

And he also attributed victory to Najib Razak (far left) who had campaigned in Felda settlements and Orang Asli villages in Jelai, which Azlan said was met with exuberant excitement by the residents. 

“Many were overjoyed to see him visit their villages. As a former prime minister and Pahang native, Najib's aura is still felt by the locals, with his ongoing court cases appearing to have no impact there”, he explained earnestly. 

Azlan suggested a shift in Orang Asli support from BN to PH – but it is too miniscule to make a difference and so it wouldn’t affect the by-election outcome. PH would need 30 percent of their votes to win.

And of course, the polling date, which takes place tomorrow, is not going to benefit PH. Azlan said its relative nearness to the Lunar New Year festive period – which is likely to yield a low voter turnout from the Chinese and Indian communities – makes it harder for outstation voters to return and cast their ballot. 

Ilham Centre's study was conducted on a face-to-face basis from Tuesday to Thursday this week in which they polled 402 respondents in the constituency, covering all racial, gender, age and locality segmentations. 

We can only hope that Azlan is wrong.

On Wednesday, I attended the Zuellig Pharma Shah Alam Toastmasters meeting where I was given a speaking opportunity.

Of course, I gladly accepted it and so, I delivered my CC #4 titled Sleepless. I was the sole speaker, by the way.

And a newbie, Beng Hsuen similarly took the opportunity to evaluate me. She's got both courage and confidence! And she did well.