Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Snubbed for the world to see

I find it strange that our Prime Minister, being the numero uno of the ruling government, has so far graciously ignored the glaring fact that he has been repeatedly snubbed and contradicted by countless "small fries" in open defiance and wilful disobedience, often making him look like a complete idiot in the news media.

The latest decision by the PM to set up an independent body to investigate the "ear-squatgate" incident is another prime example of how he resolved the problem of wilful defiance by the Deputy IGP in refusing to carry out his specific instructions.

But my question is, what is he going to do with all those people who, for reasons best known to themselves, just simply refuse to carry out the Big Boss's instructions? Pak Lah is beginning to look like a Captain losing control of his ship and allowing the sailors to determine the direction of the port they are heading to. Kind of like a quiet mutiny going on in the background. First it started with the cook serving the Captain fish instead of the chicken he wanted, pretty soon it went spiralling downhill so fast the Captain was still wondering what was going on when he was tossed out of the ship into the high seas!

All these incidents and more beg the question of how effective a leader we have in Pak Lah. There is no more need to be Mr Nice Guy now that he is tasked with steering our country away from the gross excesses of the past administration. Things could move at a greater speed on course towards the intended destination when a firm guiding hand and no nonsense approach is emphasized as the key to reform.

I would like to give another analogy here. Have you, as an employee, ever worked in a company where the Boss is too friendly to the staff, where rules can be broken with no dire consequences, and every day that the Boss is out of the office is party time for all and sundry? What kind of employees tend to stick around in this type of company? Do you think this sort of leadership style is good for human development and success for the company in the long run?


Sunday, November 27, 2005

It's the witch-hunt season II

It's the witch-hunt season II as evidenced from today's report on the latest Nude Video Clip Fiasco.

I have my own reservations on the way Malaysian authorities tend to react to embarrassing situations when exposed to the public or literally "caught with their pants down" in this case. That the instinct to deflect from the issue at large and go into defensive mode in response to public outrage and indignation speak volumes about the mentality and ingrained culture of those in authority which more or less contributes to much of the malaise and deep-rooted problems affecting our country and its society at large.

Is this the sort of response with jives with the call by our Prime Minister to promote integrity and moral uprightness among Malaysians so that we can truly advance towards the idealistic "first world mentality" to go with our "first world infrastructure"? I am at a loss for words.

Incidentally, I also wonder what happened to the first "witch-hunt" of this year involving the Customs Department?


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Rumble in the Theatre Room

I read the unbelievable report about a cardiac-thoracic surgeon and a medical officer trading blows in the middle of a surgery inside the operating theatre of the UMMC (University Malaya Medical Centre) recently.

That the surgeon slapped the female M.O. with his blood-tainted gloved hand is outrageous. And the M.O.'s slap back in retaliation and breaking the surgeon's spectacles in the process is equally dramatic and horrifying. I wonder how the said surgeon could continue with the surgery with the right frame of mind and concentration, not to mention his lack of eye focus with the loss of his spectacles. Unbelievable and downright unacceptable behaviour from two learned professionals tasked with saving lives!

I know doctors are human too but surely we have a right to expect them to exercise the highest degree of professionalism and ethics during a crucial procedure where human lives are at stake, much like what we expect from pilots? If they are in any way emotionally troubled and unable to handle the pressure of the job expected of them, then they should be professional enough not to go ahead with the task assigned to them and endanger the live(s) of those placed in their hands.

A hospital committee of inquiry has been set up to hear the case next week. Perhaps our Health Ministry should also conduct an inquiry into this case and at the same time, find out whether there are other such similar cases of doctors losing control in an O.T. No patient should feel less than assured that he/she is in safe hands while under the knife of a surgeon and at the same time, no supporting staff in an O.T. should have occasion to feel threatened with real or perceived harm while performing their tasks.

Good grief!


Friday, November 18, 2005

Finally, sex education for our school kids.

I read with great interest that Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil has finalised a proposal for the inclusion of sex education into our school syllabus to the Education Ministry for approval, adding that she hoped that it can be introduced as early as next year.(!)

Can it be true? I am especially glad someone has finally been brave enough to acknowledge that our nation's young are in dire need of serious sex education in view of the many cases of unwed teenage mothers, abandoned babies, infanticide and rise in sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS, and that one way to tackle this problem is to educate these kids while they are still in school.

I am hopeful that both ministries will work together to come up with a really good and honest syllabus so as to make the whole sex education subject truly informative and useful. Let's not make the mistake of skirting around the topics that seriously need to be openly discussed, lest it makes a mockery of the subject itself. This being the 21st century and the age of the internet, our kids do need to know more facts and if we fail to provide them with correct information, you can bet the curious ones will find a way to know more, often with dire consequences.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Dehumanising voters in political decisions

At the Pahang State Assembly sitting held yesterday, a BN backbencher (Dr Nasharuddin Zainuddin - Tg Lumpur) wanted to know whether the state government has a policy to help opposition-held constituencies to which the deputy MB Datuk Tan Aminuddin Ishak said no, but added: "If you want to help the opposition, you can do so."

To me, that suggestion is loaded with sarcasm. It implies that if any BN leaders were to help the rakyat to obtain development funds in opposition-held constituencies (say to upgrade a road or facilitate electricity and water supply connection to rural areas or even repair a dilapidated school), it also means that they are "helping" the opposition.

Is this fair to the rakyat who all pay taxes to the government of Malaysia, irrespective of who you voted for at the ballot box? Did the BN government conveniently forgot that in an opposition-held constituency, it does not mean that every single rakyat of that constituency voted for the opposition? So those who voted for BN deserves to be punished along with the rest of the "anti-government" voters? I guess politics can harden some people and make them less compassionate towards the suffering of their fellow human brothers and sisters.

I am watching with interest the Pengkalan Pasir By-Election which will be held on 6 December 2005. It will say alot about how the people there felt post-GE 2004 and 2 years after the euphoria of Pak Lah's big win and what's been happening in the country since then.


Monday, November 14, 2005

Open up the "tudung" discussion

I read the open letter by Sisters in Islam published in The Sun today (p.18 Feature & Letters titled "Don't enforce dress code on women undergraduates"), giving yet another perspective on the controversial "tudung" issue. This letter follows another commentary also published in The Sun on the same issue here.

The SIS letter was most impressive given that it was a non-judgmental opinion on this issue from the point of view of a Muslim women's rights group. These days, issues touching on the sensitivities of Malay Muslims and their Islamic practices in Malaysia has been much politicised and it is very refreshing to read that there are Muslims out there who are honest enough to declare that "... the climate of discussion on Islam in this country has left non-Muslim minorities with very few options. Many non-Muslim Malaysians therefore defer to the coercive will of the Muslim majority, while those who challenge this coercive will usually face varying levels of ostracism and public humiliation."

How very true and how very brave of SIS to raise the deep concerns of the minority communities in Malaysia. The fact of the matter is that although Malaysia is a secular country, non-Muslims are sometimes made to feel like they are increasingly under siege from the overzealous religionists bent on pushing forward their own personal agendas in the name of Islam. It is now considered politically incorrect for the minorities to complain publicly anymore. And it would be political suicide for any member of BN component parties representing the minority groups to raise a similar protest in public.

Thank you for being brave, Sisters in Islam, and for being good sisters to all your fellow Malaysians, irrespective of their race or religion. You deserve my highest respect for promoting the teachings of Islam on a platform of moderation and compassion.


A Lesson in Beijing

During the winter season in China, it is very common to see street vendors selling all sorts of local food such as Mongolian BBQ meats, beancurds, spring rolls, fried cakes and sweets along their "pasar-malam" type food streets.

The above picture was taken along the famous Wang Fu Jing street in Beijing and this vendor is selling the famous winter specialty of skewed fresh fruits candy (called "Tanghulu" in Mandarin). Actually, they are cut fresh fruits like strawberries, plum, kiwi, mandarin oranges and pineapples skewed on wooden sticks and dipped into melted sugar and left to freeze in the wintry air. The result are these very appetizing looking sticks of candied fruits with frozen hard flat candy stuck on them.

I first came across these delights on the Discovery Travel & Adventure programme on ASTRO and when I saw them on display during my trip to Beijing last December, I just could not resist the temptation! They really look very delicious. So, I did the human thing and ignored my tour guide's warning about consuming street food sold by hawkers in China and bought myself two sticks of it (I was that greedy, okay?). Guess what? They tasted as delicious as they looked. And I finished them up, sticky mess and all (yummy...).

The next day though, I paid dearly for my indiscretion. It was a real nightmarish case of food poisoning with the whole works of purging and vomitting. For the next 3 days, I dared not venture too far away from the toilet. And that effectively put an end to whatever fun I was having for the remaining days of my holiday.

It was a tough lesson for me. On the one hand, I regretted not being able to enjoy some of the places of interest because I was just too sick and tired to walk. On the other hand, I DID get to taste those forbidden fruits and they were truly every bit as good as I imagined them to be. Would I do such a thing again? Nah ...


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Have you seen this boy?

"From: Denny Hoo Hui Chang
Sent: Wednesday, November 09, 2005 5:40 pm
Subject: FW: missing school boy
Importance: High
Should you have any further enquiry, please don’t hesitate to contact me, thanks.
Have a nice day.
Regards,Denny Hoo
Network Administrator
DID : 607 – 597 8451
H/P : 012 – 771 7776"

I am helping my blog friend H J Angus to spread the above message that a 13 year-old schoolboy from Batu Pahat, Johor has been missing since 19/10/2005 and his parents are desperately looking for news of his whereabouts. If anyone saw him please contact : 012 723 5120. More details can be had at http://malaysiawatch.blogspot.com. Thanks!


Saturday, November 12, 2005

Malaysian Chinese Wedding Dinners

Have you ever been invited to a Chinese wedding dinner in Malaysia? What was your experience like? Personally, I always view these invitations as a treat to being insulted by the host.

10 times out of 10 invitations I have graced, be they at posh hotels or Chinese restaurants, the first dish was not served until at least one hour past the appointed time. And the host had the temerity to state in the wedding invitation card that dinner starts at 7:00pm SHARP.

Maybe it was just ME, but I make it a point to arrive early as a gesture of respect to the host. Sadly, I always came away feeling that the host concerned did not bother to reciprocate but instead found it acceptable to make me sit and wait for my dinner (which incidentally I paid for with the requisite big "angpow") way past the polite hour.

I had the misfortune of gracing one particular wedding of a Datuk at a posh hotel in KL last year and the dinner started TWO hours late at 9pm all because a prominent guest saw it fit to make a grand late entrance. It was certainly the height of rudeness but who cares, right? I almost fell asleep when the first dish was served. By the time everything was over, I reached home way past midnight, silently cursing the host for his lack of courtesy. Come to think of it, it's not very good "feng-shui" to have people cursing you on your auspicious day, isn't it? Am I the only cursing that night? I don't think so.

Nowadays, I dread receiving wedding invitations and frankly, will only attend if I absolutely could not feign a good excuse. Otherwise, I rather just send an angpow over and have dinner at my own expense at my own sweet time. I know these wedding dinners will always start late but I just could not bring myself to be tardy. So, when I do go to one, I made sure that I filled my stomach first and then brace myself for a long night. And cross my fingers that I get good company at the dinner table.

I have not even started telling you about the ear-shattering loud sound system blaring off-key karaoke singers engaged to torture the guests during the whole waiting process.


Friday, November 11, 2005

Camel face

Have you ever seen a camel up-close? These animals actually have a pleasant smiling face! This beauty here looks as if she's enjoying life.


A Can of Worms

The 5-day work week implemented under Pak Lah's administration has certainly opened up a can of worms, the latest being the demand by the teachers' unions that they too want their weekends off. Our keris-waving Education Minister nows appeals to the unions to adopt a flexible attitude and even hinted at the possibility of compensating them with a special allowance for working on Saturdays.

So, now Malaysians not only have to deal with less productivity from our civil servants but an increase in govt expenditures as well. That seems to sum up very well the direction we are heading under Pak Lah's administration. Malaysia BOLEH!

Picture: Koala - a marsupial native to Australia that sleeps most of the time and wakes up only to eat.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Fancy some Hongkie Nuts?

An Aussie acquaintance had a good laugh when I mentioned that it is quite common for us to refer to Hong Kong people as the "Hongkies". He did not quite belief me at first and I was puzzled as to why it would seem so hilarious to him.

The answer is in the picture above. In Australia, these nuts are common-place and they are called "Hongkies". I think they are not edible. Now you know what a "Hongkie Nut" is!


Badges of Honour or Shame Tactics?

A campaign has been initiated to kick-start the anti-corruption drive within the police force.

Today's The Star newspaper carried a report which says that all police personnel must now wear button badges with the words "Saya anti-rasuah" (I'm against graft) or face the wrath of the top brass.

On tope of that, four types of banners and stickers were also provided for all state and district police contingents to be displayed prominently on their police vehicles and workplace. These include:-

(1) Polis Bermaruah Tanpa Rasuah
(2) Jangan Memberi Dan Menerima Rasuah
(3) Rasuah Polis? Anda Akan Didakwa
(4) Rasuah Membawa Padah

I am all for it.

If we can't instil moral values on our people that corruption is bad, hopefully they would be ashamed of themselves if they were to accept bribes while wearing the "Saya anti-rasuah" badge prominently on their breast pocket for the giver to see. Certainly if an officer has a sticker bearing the words "Polis Bermaruah Tanpa Rasuah" on his vehicle, he risks bringing shame to the whole force and his family if caught taking bribes and thereby making a very public statement that he is a "Polis Tanpa Maruah".

Hopefully, we will see more efforts being taken to clean up our public services and improve the delivery system for the ultimate good of our nation and its people.


Like my pictures?

I enjoy photography and having a good digital camera has certainly given a boost to my interest in indulging this hobby of mine. At least, I can erase my mistakes without having to spend a small fortune on film negatives & printing costs!

All the pictures you see on this blog are the works of yours truly. I hope you like them as much as I do. I would have liked to share more with you on this blog but I have yet to figure out how to do it. So for the time being, its piecemeal basis. Here's one more for you! It's taken from an apartment balcony in Perth during my recent holiday. (Note the rainbow!)


UM - University of Mediocrity?

Did you read Citizen Nades' opinion in The Sun here about how Universiti Malaya tried to cover-up their shameful fall from grace as they dropped 80 notches from last year's THES ranking to land at number 169 out of 200 top universities of the world? The accompanying photograph of their "Tahniah" billboard and another one featuring our PM's face is nothing but embarrassing. Well, maybe only to those of us who knows a bad thing when we see it ...

While you are reading the said article, you might also find it interesting to get a first-hand knowledge from the same scribe on the secretive workings of the ACA.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

What's the difference between Dr M and Pak Lah?

I would like to share an interesting article written by Dr Bakri Musa here where he likened Dr M's leadership qualities to that of a jet fighter pilot and Pak Lah's style as a school bus driver.

Dr Bakri has been known to be highly critical of Dr M's leadership over the years that he ruled the country as Prime Minister. His first published book was titled "The Malay Dilemma Revisited", a response to Dr M's controversial book "The Malay Dilemma".


Standard water rates - a fair proposal?

Chief Minister of Penang Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon rightly raised his concern that it will not be fair to consumers in Penang if water rates go up as a result of standardisation of tariffs throughout the country, as proposed under the Water Services Industry Bill and National Water Services Commission Bill to be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat by our Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik.

No consumer in their right mind would be happy if they find that their rates go up as a result of the Bills. Personally, I would like to see all states emulate Penang's efficiency in managing their water supply. If Penang could supply their water at 31 sen for the first 1000 litres for domestic users, why can't other states follow the same rate? Why should I pay 60% more than Penangites for the same poor quality of water that I get from my taps? Surely the proposed Bills are not an excuse to raise rates? It makes more sense to set a reasonable ceiling rate and allow individual states to offer a lower rate if they are able to manage their costs efficiently. Already we are bracing for TNB to raise their electricity tariffs.

I wonder how the low and medium income wage earners are going to cope with the shrinking of their Ringgit brought about by increasing costs of living. Pretty soon, there wouldn't be much left to feed their families after all the bills and housing & car loans have been paid. Will we see a rise in crime as a result of people not being able to make ends meet?


Stop being prudish about sex education

I still don't understand why our Ministry of Education is so prudish when it comes to incorporating proper sex education into our school curriculum. Today's news report concerning a global sex survey carried out by Durex on 5,409 Malaysians aged between 16 to 55 this year showed some very surprising results. I certainly didn't expect to read that Malaysians are starting to have sex earlier, and the average age for losing their virginity is 19. That is certainly food for thought for our religious authorities and self-appointed moral guardians of the public out there.

Has it got anything to do with the lack of a systematic approach to educating our young about sex? We need to get past the "birds and the bees" method of old where our teachers practically squirm in their seats trying to explain the process of procreation to sniggering kids. Admittedly, some of them did such a bad job that it would have been better that they did not broach the subject in the first place. The kids almost always ended up more confused than before they started. And that is when the kids come up with their own theories, some of which generously dished up by equally ignorant friends.

Maybe our MOE can collaborate with our Ministry of Health to start a programme whereby a group of teachers especially trained to provide proper sex education and counselling can go around to all the secondary schools in our country on a rotation basis. And to avoid potential problems, male teachers can conduct classes for groups of boys and female teachers will be assigned to teach the girls. These sessions will also be a good opportunity for the school kids to ask questions and get some real answers and guidance in handling their sexual curiosity as well as understanding the process of sexual maturation experienced by teenagers.

We have to face the reality that with internet access, our government can no longer control what our young ones are exposed to. By having a proper and systematic approach to sex education in our schools, hopefully we can teach our young to be responsible for their actions and perhaps avoid the unfortunate incidences of baby dumping and infanticide that is happening in this country. And considering that almost 4 out of 10 Malaysians surveyed admitted engaging in unprotected sex without knowing their partner's sexual history, is it any wonder that rising cases of AIDS in our country is a serious problem that needs urgent attention?


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Walking the Talk - are cabinet members heading in the same direction as our PM?

Our Prime Minister has always advocated fairness and tolerance towards all Malaysians irrespective of their race or religion, foremost being his declaration that he is the Prime Minister of ALL Malaysians. I do not doubt his sincerity at all.

However, it is common knowledge on the ground that most of his colleagues within his own component party do not share his idealism. The reality is that much of what we see around us and read about in the daily news contradict the man who is supposed to be the leader of the pack. And this is indeed a very sad reflection of his leadership because it can only be surmised that he must be incredibly soft or unworthy of respect from his colleagues that even junior officers or middle-rank bureaucrats can get away with making decisions which blatantly goes against his policy announcements.

Take for instance our Prime Minister's constant reminders to everyone of the need to be tolerant and respectful of the sensitivities of all Malaysians especially when it touches on the issue of race, religion and culture of our people. However, every now and then, we read in the press certain utterings and certain actions which goes against the good faith as promised by our PM.

For example, we have Members of Parliament who find it appropriate to refer to our Indian friends in derogatory terms (the "K" word), overzealous administrators of public institutions who insist that non-Muslim women must wear the "tudung" at a public university (IIU) and when entering Parliament's chambers, and also by one infamous elected leader who insinuated that people who do not fast are perceived to be lesser beings. All these things and more does nothing at all to promote goodwill among Malay Muslims and non-Muslims, what more encouraging acceptance, tolerance and respect towards each other's differences.

That is why an editorial comment by The Star headlined "Let's not cover up the tudung issue" is timely given the way things are getting out of hand lately. I guess non-Muslims are really getting tired of such petty stuff being replayed over and over again by these unrepentant recalcitrants. Ever since we had been treated to the ridiculous public spectacle of our "keris-waving" Education Minister and UMNO Youth Chief, we have seen an unabated stream of antics being served up to further antagonise the minority communities. I wonder if these leaders and their cohorts from the majority party realise that it is starting to get real offensive and perhaps they should be mindful that the minority communities have also played a crucial role in voting them into their current positions of power. Is this the sort of payback being dished out to all those minority communities who have remained loyal to Barisan Nasional?

We had so positively and enthusiastically looked forward to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's leadership following his unprecedented victory at the 2004 polls. Two years down the road, we are left wondering when the real action will begin, or if it will ever take off from the drawing board already covered with dust. Surely he could not be such a "lame duck" as some critics have unflatteringly labelled him. But here we are, still holding our breathe for the day he would spring into action and prove to us that we have not misplaced our faith and trust in him. Is the day of reckoning going to be revealed to us with a new cabinet line-up soon? Dare we hope that he has recovered from his personal setbacks and am now ready and willing to take up the challenge of making good all the lofty promises he had made to the electorate?

Our Prime Minister is rightly the most powerful person in this country by virtue of the undeniable huge support he received from the public. All that he needs to do is to exercise that power and deliver to us all that has been promised and more. He must have the confidence that the people's power is behind him and that for the first time in more than 20 years, virtually all Malaysians are supportive of their Prime Minister. Failing to seize this advantageous moment and make the most of it is incomprehensible to all. To fail to deliver the goods is inexcusable. It would be like waking up to a huge hangover after a long night of blissful slumber only to realise that the nightmare has just begun.


Monday, November 07, 2005

Of MyKad and My Religion

So much bad press has been written in our local newspapers about our NRD staff and their inefficiency and insensitivity towards non-Muslims applying for the MyKad. The most glaring recent incident concerns an unfortunate elderly Chinese Buddhist who died but her funeral service arrangements had to be delayed for days because her MyKad recorded her as a Muslim. Her bereaved family had to endure unnecessary hassle and paperwork to sort out the bungling created by the NRD.

And yesterday's news once again highlighted the same mischief committed by the NRD against Mr Bulbir Singh, a respected Juvenile Court Advisor and very obviously a non-Muslim. It seems that there are just too many cases of such unacceptable errors that it really makes the public wonder whether there is an element of sabotage by certain quarters within the department rather than mere technical problems with the data as claimed by NRD director-general Datuk Mohd Abdul Halim Muhammad. I wonder if such problems affects only the non-Muslims?

It has been argued many times that non-Muslims should not be compelled to have their religion recorded into the MyKad because it is quite common for some people to profess a different religion from that which is stated in their birth certificate once they have reached adulthood. And religion is a very personal matter for the non-Muslims and there are quite a huge number who do not identify strongly with one particular religion but were made to choose one to input into the MyKad simply because it is not acceptable to the NRD otherwise. Personally, I come from a Buddhist background but I am not averse to saying my prayers in a Buddhist temple, a Christian church, a Hindu temple and likewise showing my respect when prayers are heard from suraus and mosques. To me, GOD is Almighty regardless of which religion one professes. Why should the state insist on pigeonholing me into a category if I am not comfortable with such a labelling even if I have nothing against any of them?

I am of course writing this from the view-point of a non-Muslim and therefore it is my opinion that the non-Muslims should be free to decide whether they wish to have their religion recorded into the MyKad and that the NRD officers should accept that if a mature applicant of sound mind says that he professes a certain religion and wants it recorded thus, he should not be made to produce whatever proof or declaration to that effect. And if the same person changes his religion later, he should be able to amend the MyKad without too much hassle. That is only right in a democratic and multi-religious country like Malaysia.

Perhaps one of the reasons why so many people are still hesitant to apply for the MyKad could be due to the lack of faith in the NRD. And the most recent breach of security concerning tampered MyKads being used by illegal immigrants does warrant a serious re-look into the overall process by the NRD. For me, I guess I will hold on to my old Identity Card a little longer while the NRD sorts out it problems. Seems to me the present card is not as "smart" as it is made out to be.


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