Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Scotland Declares Climate Emergency

Last month the Scottish National Party's MSPs had joined other parties in voting against a Scottish Greens motion calling for parliament to declare a climate emergency. 

This month, they changed their minds. 

On Sunday, Nicola Sturgeon (left) announced: “…I met some of the young climate change campaigners who’ve gone on strike from school to raise awareness of their cause. They want governments around the world to declare a climate emergency. They say that’s what the science tells us, and they are right. 

Today, as first minister of Scotland, I am declaring that there is a climate emergency and Scotland will live up to our responsibility to tackle it”. 

She said the pronouncement was “a public promise” to act on global warming – and I say, it is a timely response to a world that is on the brink of climatic calamity. 

Already at least 90 councils across the UK have proclaimed a climate emergency and pledged to work to limit damage to the environment. 

MPs in Westminster will vote on whether to follow suit tomorrow, after Labour forced a Commons debate on the issue following mass protests over political inaction on the crisis. 

The declaration of a climate emergency is one of the key demands of environmental campaigners including the Extinction Rebellion movement, which paralyzed parts of London with protests in the last fortnight. 

Scottish Greens MSP Mark Ruskell (left), the party's climate spokesperson, while welcoming the SNP's "dramatic u-turn" on the issue said "actions speak louder than words". 

He added: “Declaring a climate emergency is about more than posing for pictures with climate strikers, it’s about ditching policies that are destroying the planet and investing in the jobs and technologies of tomorrow, today”.

He’s right – an acknowledgement of a "climate emergency" may just be that. An acknowledgement. And that's it. 

Right now, we want a commitment to specific action – and it helps if countries seriously work towards being carbon-neutral as soon as possible. 

The UK has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990s levels by 2050. But campaigners and climate scientists warn this would not be enough to avert environmental catastrophe, with Extinction Rebellion demanding the UK government commit to zero carbon emissions by 2025.

All I know is – it’s time to take action! 

Yesterday, I caught this posting on Facebook. 

Safura Atan had written: “Congratulations to Shah Alam Toastmasters Club #shahalamtmc members, especially dedicated to Victor Ong DTM, for clinching the Presidential Distinguished Club Award…” 

It is heart-warming when the president of your Toastmasters club acknowledges your contributions. Thank you!

Give the PH Government More Time

Like many Malaysians, I have been critical of the Pakatan Harapan government. 

Our grouses are fodder for postings on social media and conversations in coffeeshops and pubs and just about anywhere we congregate. Besides, we are Malaysians and so, we are really good at griping. 

Still, we must remind ourselves not to go overboard – granted that to chide, censure and chastise is fine – as a much-needed outlet to vent our frustrations. 

And it is easy to stumble onto a rich vein of complaints that allow us to point the finger at PH. Whether it is to do with the non-fulfillment of election pledges, the slow pace of reforms, the fact that Najib Razak is still not behind bars, the cost of living that persists in spiraling, the vicious escalation of the vexatious menace manifested by racial and religious bigotry, the upsetting U-turns and I can go on and on. 

But Bersatu's Muhyiddin Yassin (right) was spot-on when he said Sunday, PH couldn’t fulfill their promises because they inherited an ‘almost bankrupt’ government. 

That was specifically to address the matter of the election promises – but really, what he meant was that we should give the government more time. 

It shouldn’t be that difficult – after all, we could tolerate BN for sixty-one years. What’s a couple more years, right? 

Najib Razak (left) used every trick in the book to delay and/or postpone his day in court. And when that didn’t work, he filed objections. He is desperate. 

The reason is simple. If he is found guilty, it will have a major impact on other upcoming trials – and it won’t just involve him. 

His latest attempt was to challenge the charges against him in the trial over SRC International Sdn Bhd’s RM42 million as being “defective in form and substance” and that it is an abuse of court process. 

Najib is pathetic and pitiful and yes, fiendish. 

Yesterday, High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali dismissed the said application – and his trial continues.

The testimony provided by the twenty-first prosecution witness, AmBank Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R Uma Devi (right) and related news reports have prompted Malay Mail Online to flesh out the labyrinthine maze of bank transactions and money transfers that linked SRC International to Najib Razak:

There’s no escape, Najib!

Monday, April 29, 2019

TMJ Needles Mahathir Mohamad (Again)

Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim just loves to needle Mahathir Mohamad (left). 

On Wednesday night, he was caught on video saying that the prime minister should be substituted when some Johor Darul Ta’zim football club supporters had urged him to replace the team’s coach Benjamin Mora. 

“Instead of changing Mora, it’s better to change the prime minister”, Tunku Ismail (right) had said. 

On Sunday, Mahathir retorted that only the rakyat, and not the Malay royals, has the power to change the prime minister. 

“He thinks he is a big person ("orang besar") but he is actually a small person. If he can vote, then topple me through the ballot box”, the prime minister challenged the prince. 

And for good measure, Mahathir reminded Tunku Ismail – better known as TMJ (Tengku Mahkota Johor) – that history has shown his own position as the crown prince can be changed. Touché. 

Criticisms against TMJ inevitably followed. 

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (right) pointed out that he had quit as president of the Football Association of Malaysia after just a year. 

“If want to take care of FAM also is so difficult that you have to quit… imagine the responsibility of a prime minister who sincerely wants to heal our beloved nation”, Syed Saddiq had posted on Instagram. 

Veteran politician Bersatu's Rais Yatim (left) opined that Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim had made excessive remarks about politics. His advice: “If (Tunku Ismail) wants to talk politics, please register to join a political party”. 

He said the realms of royalty and politics are different. “Do not mix them up in accordance with the whims of a prince. Chaos will result”, counseled Rais, a former law minister and former menteri besar of Negeri Sembilan. 

“Stop the innuendo about wanting the prime minister to be changed”, said Rais in a posting on Twitter yesterday. “That is the right of the ordinary people”. 

Methinks, TMJ has crossed the red line.

Avengers: Endgame – the 22nd offering in the Marvel Studios superhero franchise – made box office history by taking a record-breaking $1.2 billion in global ticket sales in its opening run. The Disney blockbuster has become the fastest film ever to break the $1 billion barrier, doing so in just five days.

Since Wednesday, its opening takings smashed the previous global debut record of $640 million set by last year's Avengers: Infinity War.

Tensions Boil Over in Johor

Tension between Johor royalty and Pakatan Harapan has been brewing since the latter took over the Federal Government in May last year. 

To make matters worse, allegations are rife that the Johor palace are interfering in the state government. 

I have no wish to elaborate – but suffice to say, we had witnessed a change in Menteri Besar and a tweaking of the state executive council members. 

This was in spite of the prime minister (left) stating on Wednesday – it was not the first time he said it – that it is the government of the day which decide who becomes the MB and the excos. 

And the Sultan, according to Mahathir Mohamad, is a constitutional monarch who will endorse the appointment in line with parliamentary democracy and the Federal Constitution. 

It did not help matters that the Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim (right), had in response posted excerpts of the Constitution on the rights and powers of Rulers on his Facebook page  and regrettably, these were taken out of context.

He forgets that Malaysians (including the Malay rulers) are to abide by the country’s Federal Constitution – and it was agreed that Malaya (and later Malaysia) would be a democracy where the people would choose its government. Surely, he must know that absolute monarchy is long gone from our shores.

But on Thursday, Sultan Ibrahim (left) out of the blue had urged all parties to set aside any disagreements, especially regarding the relationship between the state and Federal government and even offered to have a mature discussion to resolve matters. 

There was also this mischievous rumor that Muhyiddin Yassin who is a Johorean – and who has a very close relationship with the Johor royals – had back-stabbed his boss Mahathir. 

Intriguingly, after the Sultan offered the olive branch, Muhyiddin found vent in a no-nonsense outburst. 

The Bersatu president (left) said while the sultan’s gesture was appreciated, the Johor Palace must also admit to their role in the hostilities with Putrajaya. 

He said: “As a Johorean, as a federal minister in the Cabinet, this does not put me at ease at all. We must be bold enough. The Sultan also has to agree that certain things have been done by him that created some feelings of uneasiness when it comes to matters of state”. 

Muhyiddin who is also Home Minister issued a stern reminder to the Johor Palace: “That has to stop. It is not that he (Johor Sultan) cannot interfere in the management of the state, but interfering in the running of the governance of the state must not be continued”. Coming from an obedient former Menteri Besar of Johor from 1986 to 1995, Muhyiddin’s flare-up against the royal house raised many eyebrows. 

Muhyiddin had shown he has balls after all! Or maybe he had to – he needed to prove his loyalty to Mahathir and Bersatu. 

And so far, there is only silence from the other side.

Yesterday's game between Burnley and Manchester City saw the latter chalked up another 3 points when they beat the former 1-0. There was no miracle. 

And Manchester City are two victories from winning the English Premier League.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

I Support Burnley for Liverpool's Sake

Today, I support Burnley against Manchester City. 

For Liverpool’s sake. 

I believe in miracles.

Something sinister is afoot. 

It appears that Najib Razak’s lackey is marshaling support from among the royal houses, that much is clear. 

Lokman Adam had announced on social media yesterday, that the crown princes of Johor, Selangor, Pahang and another “mystery” prince would make an appearance to his “teh tarik” session in Malacca tomorrow – where the public is invited to join the event and stating that they could take “seflies” with the princes.

The Selangor Royal Office promptly denied the involvement of the Raja Muda Selangor Tengku Amir Shah Sultan Sharafuddin Idris. 

In a statement, Tengku Amir’s private secretary, Saidatul Asyikin Muhammad Johar, said the prince had never agreed to join the “Santai Teh Tarik” event. 

Saidatul also urged the rakyat not to be easily influenced by false information. An image of the poster, with the word “palsu” (fake) across it, was posted on the Selangor Royal Office social media pages.

Instagram pic

And according to a site called twentytwo13.com, Pahang’s Tengku Hassanal of Pahang was reported to have said he was not involved.

UMNO are putting the royals on dangerous ground with their political antics. For sure, they are playing with fire.

On Saturday, Celtic grabbed a narrow 1-0 win over Kilmarnock and move within one point of the Scottish Premiership title.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Gorillas Pose For Wefies

Mountain gorillas (left) at Virunga National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site in the Democratic Republic of Congo were in the news. 

For your info, the mountain gorilla (Scientific name: Gorilla beringei beringei) is one of two subspecies of the eastern gorilla (Gorilla beringei) and it is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. 

And Virunga is not only Africa’s oldest national park but it is also Africa’s most biodiverse national park, spanning tropical forests, snow-peaked mountains and active volcanoes. It is also home to a rare population of about 1,000 mountain gorillas – with other wild populations elsewhere in the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. 

But its location in eastern DRC means these primates and the rangers who protect and care for them are constantly at risk. 

Virunga’s management has had to take extraordinary measures to keep its inhabitants and visitors safe from the sporadic fighting in the region – protecting them with a highly trained guard of elite rangers and sniffer dogs, as well as working closely with communities surrounding the park. 

Check out the “gorilla wefie” that went viral after it was shared by Mathieu Shamavu, the park ranger who captured it on his phone:

Shamavu who said he was checking his phone when he noticed Ndakazi and Ndeze, two orphaned gorillas mimicking his movements, and so he took a picture with them. These two females were orphaned 12 years ago when their families were killed by poachers. 

The park, which relies on private visitor donations, used its “gorilla wefie” moment in the spotlight to help raise funds, reaching its $50,000 (£39,000) target to mark Earth Day on April 22nd. 

Virunga has 600 dedicated rangers and two of them, Shamavu and Patrick Sadiki snapped the heart-warming series of wefies with the gorillas:

For more info, visit Virunga @ https://virunga.org 
To donate & Help! @ https://virunga.org/donate

On Friday, Liverpool once again put the pressure back on Manchester City as they returned to the top of the Premier League with an emphatic 5-0 win over Huddersfield Town at Anfield. 

Jurgen Klopp's side are now two points clear of the reigning champions, who have a game in hand.

A dominant display – and the goal rush came after only fifteen seconds when Naby Keita swept a close-range effort into the bottom left corner from Mohamed Salah's pass to record the Reds' quickest goal in a Premier League match. 

It was also Liverpool's 100th goal in all competitions this term, and they doubled their lead when Sadio Mane glanced Andrew Robertson's superb cross into the bottom right corner in the twenty-third minute. 

Salah then lobbed Terriers' goalkeeper Jonas Lossl on the stroke of half-time to deliver a third after running on to Trent Alexander-Arnold's ball forward. 

After the break, Mane headed in his second from Jordan Henderson's cross in the sixty-sixth minute – this was followed seventeen minutes later when his Egyptian team-mate converted from another Robertson delivery – and capping a fine team performance. 

Liverpool with 91 points have now amassed more points than Arsenal's unbeaten "Invincibles" team of 2003-04 and have 12 points more than the Manchester United treble-winning team of 1998-99.

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Power of the Infinity Gauntlet

I just tried googling the word Thanos and when the results showed, I clicked on the Infinity Gauntlet icon (left) which caused it to 'snap'. And when it did, my Google Search result page played a little animation that turned half of all the search results to 'dust'. 

A really neat trick! Of course, this is in relation to the much-talked-about events at the end of Avengers: Infinity War where the Mad Titan Thanos (right) successfully completes the Infinity Gauntlet and snaps his fingers – and eliminating fifty percent of all living beings in existence.

If you had watched the movie, you probably already know this. But in the unlikely event you haven't, please, please give it a watch! 

And unlike the events of Infinity War, you can actually bring back all your dusted search results by simply clicking on the same Infinity Gauntlet icon. When you do that, it looks like the gauntlet activates the Time Stone and everything fades back into existence. 

That should prompt you to go and watch Avengers: Endgame.

Even without this neat little trick, you should still watch this Disney movie. It’s almost impossible to escape the epic hype surrounding the biggest superhero movie of this year! 

The Sri Lanka bombings are still in the news. 

On Wednesday, the death toll supposedly rose to 359, with more than 500 people wounded. Additionally, Police had detained 60 people in connection with the bloody attacks. 

Two days later, Sri Lanka revised down the death toll from Sunday's blasts by more than 100, to "about 253". It blamed a calculation error. Huh? 

Their head of health services told Reuters news agency there had been so many body parts it was "difficult to give a precise figure". 

According to the health ministry, all autopsies were completed on Thursday and it transpired that some victims had been counted more than once. 

BBC World Service South Asia editor Jill McGivering said the revised figure came as the government are struggling to restore their credibility – amid criticisms of their apparent failure to respond to intelligence warnings before the bloodbath. 

They’re also battling to counter fake news swirling around the crisis – and this sudden dramatic revision is unlikely to put the government in good light. 

Anyway, President Maithripala Sirisena had come out to say that Sri Lankan intelligence services believed around 130 suspects linked to the Islamic State group were in the country and that police are hunting 70 who are still at large. 

On Tuesday, IS had already claimed responsibility for the Easter Sunday carnage, although they had not provided direct evidence of their involvement.

The statement came after an unconfirmed video posted to social media by an affiliated group strongly suggested that the Islamic State was behind the bombings. 

Pakatan Harapan's Approval Down to 39 Percent

According to independent pollster Merdeka Center, public approval for the Pakatan Harapan government has plunged to just 39 percent – this represents a marked decline compared to the 67 percent recorded in August 2018. 

And if we believe the findings, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s personal popularity stands at 46 percent – also a massive drop from 71 percent he enjoyed in August. 

I don't think anybody is too surprised by this.

It’s not so much that Pakatan Harapan are a failure – but that they don’t know how to manage the rakyat’s expectations. Already, they had cleverly conjured election promises that until today, remain unfulfilled, many of them anyway. 

And it’s kind of ironic. BN could conveniently forget about their own promises after winning but PH don’t have the same luxury. 

I suppose it is because PH had campaigned on a platform of hope – for a better Malaysia, for all. 

And Malaysians don’t see it yet. 

But we have to endure the tomfoolery of Bersatu ministers – Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and Maszlee Malik immediately come to mind. Not to forget the bickering that is rampant in PKR that is preventing them from doing anything meaningful. Amanah of course, remain mediocre most times. And DAP continue to be the favored scapegoat for all the ills of Malay society and they can't do anything about it  seemingly suffering from a self-induced paralysis syndrome. 

It is time, PH take the bull by the horns. Stop pussyfooting around. Change the narrative because this country needs an overhaul. 

Clearly, PH must find back their courage. If they can convince Malaysians to overthrow the 61-year-old Barisan Nasional in GE14 – why can’t they bring real reformasi to Malaysia? Why?

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Man Tax

Handsome Her, a vegan café that opened its doors in August 2017 on Sydney Road, Brunswick in Victoria, Australia charges male customers 18 percent more than women. 

The pricing differential is to reflect the gender pay gap with the funds surrendered to charity.

Described on the cafe’s Facebook page as a “man tax”, the premium was only meant to run for one week each month, but was made permanent after the publicity led to an increase in customers “asking to pay” – or so the owners claimed.

The Melbourne-based eatery caused an online and media storm when a photograph of a chalkboard outside the cafe explaining its “man tax” and women priority seating hit Twitter

While some praised the idea, others railed on social media that this was “reverse sexism” and did little to tackle inequality for both sexes. 

I reckon co-owners Alexandra O’Brien and partner Tessa Plueckhahn couldn’t take the heat – and, therefore, decided to shut the business down for good as of Sunday, April 28. 

"The way the world responded showed us how fragile masculinity is and solidified the necessity for us to confront and dismantle patriarchy", the duo declared. 

"We were just one little tiny shop on Sydney Rd that was trying to carve out a swathe of space to prioritize women and women's issues, and suddenly we became the punching bag of Melbourne and the internet", they moaned. 

The cafe’s loyal fans expressed their disappointment at news of the closure. 

“So sad to see u go. U were my favorite eatery since u opened. U have created a safe space for all [sic]”, wrote one person. 

However, not all of the comments are supportive of the cafe. 

On Instagram, where the cafe has also posted about its impending shutdown, one person called the owners “horrible people”, writing: “I’m glad such a bigoted and hateful business is getting shut down. Last I checked, sex discrimination was illegal”. 

Whether we agree or not, the decision belongs to the couple. It's their business to decide on their business.

This evening, I was in Sunway Mentari in Bandar Sunway, Selangor to attend the maiden meeting of the “Kelab Pidato Perdana” Toastmasters Club. 

Although, we were only a small group of five – it was almost a full-blown meeting, complete with Table Topics, project speeches and evaluations. 

I was the Timekeeper as well as a Table Topics speaker and I delivered a CC#2 speech titled “Cabaran Ku” (My Challenge). 

The whole meeting was conducted in Malay.

Nearly RM3.3 Million Diverted to 2 Platinum Credit Cards

The Kuala Lumpur High Court was told yesterday that nearly RM3.3 million was diverted from one of Najib Razak’s AmBank accounts (No. 2112022011880 AmPrivate Banking 1-MY) to two Platinum credit cards. 

AmBank Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R Uma Devi had testified that the bank had transferred RM449,586.95 from Najib’s account to pay to a Visa credit card and another RM2,833,147.21 was credited to a Mastercard credit card – on instruction from former SRC International director and CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil. 

She had revealed that Najib had previously issued a letter of instruction to the bank to authorize Nik Faisal to manage his AmBank accounts. 

Uma Devi may not have named who the credit cards belonged to – but at the start of the SRC International trial, Attorney General Tommy Thomas had, among other things, said that prosecutors intend to provide evidence that in December 2014, Najib’s credit card was charged $130,625 (RM4539,176) for expenses made at fashion store Chanel in Honolulu, Hawaii in the US. 

Thomas did not specify the account number for the alleged credit card transaction – and it is unknown if it is related to the two credit cards mentioned above. But you get my drift.

Anyway, it is clear that somebody – you know who they are – had been splurging money that didn’t belong to them in the first place. 

My faith in Manchester United was misplaced. I had looked to them for a favor yesterday but they proved to be a big disappointment, having lost 0-2 to Manchester City. Indeed, the  balance of power in Manchester had shifted so emphatically that I fear it is permanent.

Liverpool must now respond at home to Huddersfield Town at Anfield on Friday, while Citizens travel to Burnley on Sunday. We must fight tooth and nail and still pray just as hard.

Yesterday, I was at the Subang Toastmasters meeting – and thanks to Vice President Education Michael Pua, I was offered a speaking slot. 

I delivered a CC #5 speech titled “Voiceless” – besides being tasked to evaluate another project speaker. My evaluator Lee Hui Kean gave helpful feedback – and it showed I can still improve!