Thursday, December 29, 2005

Can we have a better deal for women in 2006?

I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.

That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil - that is the gift of God.
(Ecclesiastes 3 :12-13)

The year 2005 is coming to an end. What could I wish for Malaysians in 2006? I guess, as a Malaysian woman, I would like to wish for fairness and a better deal for our womenfolk, and oh yes, more respect from our male parliamentarians and legislators if it's not asking too much.

It seems to me like some Malaysian male politicians from the ruling party do not have much respect for our womenfolk going by the kind of crass and demeaning jokes and remarks frequently directed at us and our female representatives in Parliament. And the latest Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2005 is another step backwards for our Muslim sisters who, even prior to the introduction of this discriminating law, have consistently bore the brunt and suffering inflicted upon them by their men who have managed to manipulate every single avenue available to them legally to absolve themselves of their responsibilities. Such laws do nothing to protect married Muslim women from abuses and neglect if their husbands choose to abandon them for someone else. And now, they stand to be impoverished further with the passing of this Bill. I mean, women have always been labelled the weaker sex, that we need more protection, hopefully from the stronger sex. And some pertinent aspects of this Bill clearly works against the interests of women. Does all this make any sense at all?

I am perplexed as to how such a Bill could have even been drafted and approved in the first place. Obviously, the people behind the drafting must have been an all-male ensemble. That the 12 women senators objected vehemently but ultimately had to vote for it also speaks volumes as to the sort of system we currently have in our country. Can a 92% BN majority, mostly male, be conscientiously good for society as a whole, as seen from this case? Come on, where is the sense of justice and fairplay? Our country is putting its Muslim womenfolk in a gravely compromised situation. Have our men conveniently forgotten that much as it gives them increased liberty, that the price being paid might just be equally exerted upon their mothers, sisters and daughters? Or do they just don't care at all?

It is just so condescending the way this Bill has been forcefully pushed (or should I say shoved) through (down the necks of all the Muslim women in this country). I feel so sorry for my fellow Malaysian sisters. In these closing days of the year 2005, I pray hard that sheer decency will prevail and that what is so wrong about this Bill will be put right soon. A delay in action is almost certainly an act of gross injustice to those affected by it. The men who have the means to change things will most certainly eat, drink and be merry in ushering the coming new year but hopefully, they will also not forget that they have a duty to "do good" by their Muslim sisters in the spirit of fairness and kindness. Have a Happy New Year and Have a Heart.


Monday, December 26, 2005

Remembering Tsunami 2004

I hope you had a happy Christmas and enjoyed your long weekend. In the midst of celebrating the end of 2005 and all the merry making and toasting to each other's good health and good fortune for the coming new year, let us spare a thought and prayer for those who perished in the Tsunami tragedy on 26 December 2004. And for those who survived but lost their family members, their home and livelihood, let us also not forget to remember that there is still so much that needs to be done to help them to pick up the pieces and move forward and rebuild a better future for themselves and their remaining loved ones.


Friday, December 23, 2005

Wishing You A Merry Christmas

If someone is addicted to leftovers, can he quit cold Turkey?

To all my friends and readers of this Blog,
may you and your family be blessed with good health,
joy and happiness during this holiday season.
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Getting Sex Education Off The Ground

Well, it's now officially made known to the public the decision by our Education Ministry to introduce sex education as reported here, here and here. The real surprise is that it is not only for school kids but for kindergartners, university & college students and even mature adults as well. I suppose it is a good move although it will be interesting to see how they are going to disseminate sex lessons to those who are already out of the formal education system. We shall have to wait awhile to see what it's all about when the whole thing is finalized next February.

Be that as it may, such a move by our MOE is long overdue considering the many forms of social ills that we have seen in our society insidiously building up over the years. Hopefully, with proper guidance and crucial information being made available to everyone in an open manner, we may be able to avoid incidences like what was being reported in the papers today. An 18 year old girl and her 24 year old boyfriend reportedly threw their new-born baby girl from the roof-top of a 4-storey shophouse in Kuching. We really do not know why they did such an awful thing but it is really the height of ignorance for this young couple to think that by killing the baby, they could get on with their lives with their conscience intact. A precious life is lost, a young couple will now have to pay the price for their crime, their families will be shocked and possibly stigmatised by it, their friends and all those who witnessed the gruesome scene will have to live with the awful memory of this mindless act. Could all these have been avoided?


A Christmas Story

The story is told of an old Scottish fisherman who was having afternoon tea with some friends in a little tearoom by the sea. As he was describing some of this fishing exploits, his hand accidentally knocked over his cup of tea. An ugly, brown tea stain appeared on the freshly whitewashed wall beside him.

"Never mind about the stain," said a friend as he rose from his chair and drew from his pocket a brown crayon. There emerged from that ugly, brown tea stain a magnificent stag with antlers spread and back arched. The friend of the fisherman was one of England's most famous painter.

Life is full of ugly tea stains that splash against whitewashed walls. Reality often seems to be more obstacle than opportunity, more pain than pleasure, more chaos than calm, more hurt than happiness, more tension than tenderness. ... We can take the chaos and be calm, take the tensions and be tender, take the hurts and be content, take the obstacles and build opportunities. If you keep your faith, there is no end to the possibilities.

(Some parts extracted from an article by Ruth Senter)


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Creepy Crawlies Crispies

One of the interesting sights at the Chiangmai Sunday Night Market is the vast array of food available there. Apart from the usual scene of hawkers dishing out hot & quick meals, I saw trays of deep-fried insects such as crickets, silkworm cocoons, grasshoppers and some other unidentifiable critters being sold as snacks. No, I didn't pop any of these stuff into my mouth, not because I think they aren't edible but because I have a deep phobia towards creepy crawly things, even if they are dead and deep-fried. And despite patiently waiting for about 5 minutes hanging around the stall hoping to see someone actually buy and eat them, no one did. What a let-down ...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

More Pictures from Maetamann Rafting & Elephant Camp

These are some more pictures taken from the Maetamann Rafting & Elephant Camp in Chiangmai, Thailand. After we were done with the elephant ride, we proceeded to take another ride on a bullock cart down to the riverside. (Hmm ... perhaps Mr Vellu will be most pleased if we revived this primitive means of transportation in Malaysia.) It was a short ride, nothing spectacular really. However, at the riverside, we were in for another wonderful experience of taking a leisurely ride on top of a bamboo raft down the river. The journey was smooth, except for the occasional small rapids which caused the river water to splash over the raft, soaking our feet in the process. Luckily for us, we were seated on a bench about 8 inches above the water level. A light cool breeze blew over our faces as we meander slowly down the river, soaking in the tranquil and calm, almost zen like atmosphere. And I noticed too that there are no mosquitoes, flies or stinking smell hovering in the air. There are however the odd sight of rubbish hanging on higher branches of trees above ground, much like clothes being hung out to dry, a reminder of how high the waters rose during the last rainy season which caused widespread flooding in and around Chiangmai.


Elephant Rides in Chiangmai

If you have never ever had a ride on the back of an elephant before, and you happen to be in Chiangmai, you might like to give it a try. But first and foremost, you need a strong arm to hold on to the sidebars because you certainly do not want to slip off your bench while the elephant is negotiating slopes and turns along the winding jungle trail. I enjoyed the unique experience very much although I found some difficulty keeping my bum firmly on the seat. I kept sliding off each time the elephant dips and had to hold on tight to the sidebars. It didn't help that I kept my feet off the elephant's back because I did not feel comfortable stepping on the poor animal's back for support. The 20 minutes ride was made more interesting by the picturesque scenery along the trail and the shouts of "whoops and whoa" from fellow travellers in the elephant convoy. I'm amazed by how well the Thais have mastered the art of training elephants, which are basically wild animals. Apart from amazing feats performed by the elephants ala circus-style, one particularly clever elephant even managed to produce a painting of a tree with leaves and flowers by clutching a paintbrush in his trunk and gingerly draw onto a white canvas. I took the above picture while we were crossing a river half way through the ride at the Maetamann Rafting and Elephant Camp in Chiangmai, Thailand. I will post some more pictures in the next entry.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A short break

I will be out of the country for the next few days and since I'm not going to carry my laptop with me, I shall probably miss a few days' worth of local news and goings-on in the country as well as in the blogosphere. Hopefully, I will not miss any sensational news during this brief interlude. This will also be a good time to give my kaypohchee alter-ego a rest from all the excitement that's been happening lately. You won't miss me, will ya? ;)


Another debate on vernacular education

John Lee put forth the following question in Mack Zulkifli's blog:-

"[...) what are your thoughts on mother tongue education? Do you support the government's move of teaching science and maths in English? Do you believe vernacular schools might be detrimental to national unity?"

Mack invited his readers to comment on the above question and I put in my 2-cents worth on this issue which, on second thought, I decided to reproduce below in my own blog.

Our current education system is all vernacular based, and lets not kid ourselves into saying that the National Schools are not actually Malay vernacular schools. If you want to do away with mother tongue education, the only way is to have the whole syllabus in a language which does not "belong" to any one of the main race groups in Malaysia, meaning Malay, Chinese and Tamil. So that leaves only the English-type school, unless of course you want to use French, or Japanese? And why not English? When no one has a claim to superiority and one-upmanship in the language to be used in education (and everything else in this country), then we are all level, truly Malaysian. There will cease to be an emotional race-related link in formulating a better system for the education of our young and future generation. But are we prepared to accept that English is still the global language and that we cannot continue to use the excuse of not giving it due importance because it reminds us of the bad old colonial days? So, we continue to ignore global challenges and the borderless world that is creeping up on us so long as we insist that we can survive and do very well cocooned in our own kampung, and thank you but no thanks, we don't need to venture out beyond our own shores and kow-tow to foreign culture & languages. That is exactly the defensive stand we are taking now. Learning vernacular languages ought to be optional. But learning and getting a proper education in a language which will fit you in nicely in a globalised environment is not optional. We are not living in treetops, speaking monkey languages only we ourselves understand but no one else is interested in. And do you not agree too that when Malaysians of different races interact in English, we tend to forget that we are Malay, Chinese, Indian or lain-lain? We become Malaysians. And that is one good reason to re-introduce English back into our lives and society. Same thing happens everywhere else in this world. No one cares which race you are from so long as they can understand you, from Russia to Rome or India to Egypt. And what language do you think you need to use in all these countries? Melayu, Cina or Tamil?


Contemplation (2)

"And one of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and colors; most surely there are signs in this for the learned."

-Surah 30:22


Anak Merdeka's Goonies Award 2005

Grand Prize Award Winner
Category: (Ugly) Malaysian of the Year 2005
Hishamuddin Hussein

Other Winners
Category: Man in the Mirror Award
Mahathir Mohamad

Category: Kereta Lembu Award
S. Samy Vellu

Category: Malaysian Motor Show Award
Rafidah Aziz

Category: Shortime Achievement Award
Khir Toyo

(There are, of course, lots more deserving award winners for many other categories,
considering that this has been a bumper year for foul-ups and slip-ups,
but I will leave it to other bloggers and readers to come up with their own lists.
There's no need to vote for the Monkey Award of the Year, though,
... we ALL know who is the winner, hehe)


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Year-end Nostalgia

I wonder as I wander
Out under the sky
Why do people I care about
Always have to die?

Are you happy where you are,
Wherever that may be?
I wonder as I wander
Do you still think of me?

Is it nice up there in heaven?
For I know you made it there.
Are the clouds made out of marshmallows?
Do you know I still care?

I look up at the winter sky
And shed a single tear.
I think of all the days gone by,
I'll always hold you dear.

I wonder as I wander
Out under the sky
Why do people I care about
Always have to die?

(Poem by Hilary Begleiter)

My dad suffered from kidney failure and was on dialysis treatment for more than 7 years before succumbing to heart failure in October 1996. I did not have a chance to say goodbye to him, something I deeply regret to this day. I still miss him after all these years and it is not true that time heals the pain of losing a person you loved so dear. Each year-end brings fresh memories of him because he used to cook up a storm for us during the winter-solstice festival held around 22nd/23rd of December. These days, the festival has lost much of its appeal to me simply because its never the same without dad's specialty dishes of braised duck, "Tung-Po" meat and "Fried abacus yam" laced with a good dose of humour at the dinner table. Never one to complain of his hardship, he was a kind and generous man to all who knew him. But to me, he was simply my beloved dad, who gave me his unconditional love, support and devotion and in the process, taught me the important lesson of not taking things and the ups and downs of my life too seriously. I love you Papa, and I miss you terribly.

If you wish to know more about the history behind the Chinese Traditional Celebration of the Winter Solstice Festival, you may log on to here.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Thought for the Day (2)

Fresh milk is often slow to curdle;
so sinful actions do not always bring immediate results.
Sinful actions are more like coals of fire that are hidden in the ashes
and keep on smouldering, finally causing a greater fire.

- The Teaching of Buddha


The trumpet blows forth, yet again

This is a nice attempt by the YB Menteri Besar to (again!) remind us all that Selangor is now officially the first developed state of Malaysia. Err ... how come no one else is following suit ah?? You mean to say all the other Menteris Besar do not want their respective states to be developed meh? Or is it because you guys are "semua-not-okay" and "semua tak boleh"? Duh ...


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Something's brewing for this man

Of late, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, ertswhile MP, member of the Cabinet, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department and Chairman of the Dewan Rakyat's Human Rights Caucus appeared to be a changed man. And why not? It augurs well for everybody to have a BN MP bold enough to speak up for the good of the people, to get down to real and proper business and being busy enough not to waste his precious time conducting only monkey business. Maybe some of his recalcitrant colleagues would want to take a cue from him and spruce up their own image with the rakyat by making better use of their position and time as elected representatives. Goodness knows we need more Members of Parliament with the balls to carry out our Prime Minister's election promises.

Today's news focus on Nazri has given this guy a fresh opportunity to clean up his image and re-brand himself as the good guy to watch out for in the generally not so good reputation of BN MPs. He is wily enough to know who's backing he needs the most to continue doing a good job, by reminding us that "... having to toe the official line has been his biggest challenge since joining the Government. ... And he is certain that he can continue to help the people as long as he does not get any ticking off from Abdullah."

That's a pretty smart move from someone who not too long ago was almost near the bottom of the heap in the political hierarchy. Lets hope he will continue to be careful in his steps and not spoil it all by getting a foot stuck in his mouth, especially in the sensitive issue of racial politics. It is not everyday that one gets a second chance in the fickle world of politics and so far, this is as good as it gets for Nazri.


Thought for the Day (1)

When government accepts responsibility for people, then people no longer take responsibility for themselves.

- George Pataki


December leaves

December is a month that never fails to evoke mixed feelings in me. It is mostly a hectic month, as if we are all trying to squeeze in as much fun and activities into these final 31 days of the year before we bid it goodbye and also to make the most of the remaining school holidays with the kids at home before the new term starts.

And of course, December is synonymous with the Yuletide celebrations, the parties and the feasting whether you are a Christian or not. If you think Christmas in Malaysia is celebrated only by the Christian folks, you are very wrong indeed. I believe that it is a very multi-racial celebration here in Malaysia. Maybe it has something to do with all the commercialism associated with it. To the non-Christians, Christmastime is one more big excuse to dress up, exchange gifts, get together with friends and family, eat to your heart's content or party the night away, whichever is your fancy.

Actually, I kinda like the festive air that comes with Christmas celebrations in the big cities here. This is the time when I especially enjoy going to the shopping malls. There's the feel-good music in the air, lots of bright coloured fake Christmas trees done up spectacularly with all the trimmings and twinkling lights, the tinsel and the ribbons adorning almost all shop windows, and the occasional guy dressed up as Santa. Never mind that the fake snow and absurd suggestions of a White Christmas in tropical Malaysia being put up by some advertisers seems really really silly to me. At least it made me smile, eh? And I get to hum along Bing Crosby's mesmerizing voice singing "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas ..."

But December also is the time for me to contemplate events of years past. To think of all the people who have come and gone in our lives, to be nostalgic and to try to forgive and move on past events that have brought hurt and tears, whether intentional or otherwise. It is also the time when I think of all the lovely and cherished memories of people I have loved and lost and to say a prayer of thanks for all the good times that we have had and to be grateful for their presence in my life, even though I lament their absence and wished that I could have had more time with them. And that inevitably leads me to take stock of my priorities in this life and appreciate the relationships that I still have in the present moment.

As the days get closer to the new year, I do get more melancholic with the realization that the years seems to be whizzing by. I'm barely able to just catch hold of it, pin it down, seize the moments and make them precious enough to add to my storage of good memories. Maybe I need to run faster next year to catch up with Father Time. I'm feeling pretty left behind, still a child within but the reflection in the mirror is someone I barely recognizes. When and how did I grow up so fast?


Friday, December 09, 2005

My Morning Cuppa

Its a wet wet morning when I woke up today. But its nice and cozy in my humble abode. And I made myself a warm cup of rose milk tea to start my day. Its pretty easy and worth your while if you like your tea with a fragrant twist to it. Just mix a packet of Boh Tea 3-in-1 in very hot water, add about 10 rose buds (you might want to rinse the flowers first), let it steep a minute and voila! A fragrant cup of milky drink to perk up your day. Sometimes, I substitute the rose buds with half a teaspoon of lavender, which does wonders to calm frazzled nerves on hectic days. And oh, by the way, you may want to scoop up the flowers and discard them before you enjoy your drink. Have a nice day today!


A Sea of Faces in Orchard Road

I had occasion to travel down south last weekend, and since I'm already so near, I thought I'd just pop over the causeway to have a look at what the island looks like since the late 1980s. Yep, I know it's a pretty long time since the last visit considering Singapore is so near. I don't know why really since I've made trips to places so much further during the interim period.

Well, Singapore is still Singapore and I did not notice any drastic changes, ... maybe more high-rise buildings? It could also be because both our countries and the faces of its people are so similar in many ways that I tend not to notice that I am actually in foreign shores. The one thing that always pulls me back to that reality though is when I see their policemen on the streets and at the customs checkpoint, the mostly Chinese faces in blue uniforms. That's something we rarely see back home. The Chinese faces in police uniform, I mean.

I didn't visit any of the usual tourist haunts but I did go to Orchard Road at night though. Hey ... isn't that what Tourism Singapore's advertisement inevitably shout about come the month of December? The Christmas Lights at Orchard Road lah, a must see for all those who step foot into Singapore at this time of the year. So I went there to check out what the fuss was all about and came away with a deep impression of this place. No, its not the decorative lights, great shopping or great food. It's the mass of people who congregate there at nightfall. So many people, of different colours, different sizes and shapes, different languages, different smells, ... all walking up and down the streets, standing around street corners, traffic light junctions, sidewalks. They're everywhere, jostling for space. Where did all these people come from? I have a mental picture of hundreds and hundreds of people, looking like tiny little ants, spilling out from all those condominium blocks and office buildings after 5pm, all heading in one direction to ... Orchard Road, presumably the only place to hang out and to be seen in Singapore.

It was a most interesting scene, and one that will remain etched in my memory for a while to come whenever I think of Singapore.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Contemplation (1)

"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong."
(1 Cor. 1:27)


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Blame Game

The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) of our BN MPs have kicked in (again!). That is why I am not at all surprised that the Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Noh Omar, himself a controversial figure in the "ear-squat nude video clip fiasco", have now shifted the focus of attention to the DAP and kick-started the blame game by his following remarks:-

"The DAP became the hero. It blew up the issue ... The MCA handled it with good intentions, not like the DAP, which had painted a bad picture of the police even before a proper investigation could be carried out."

As expected, the MP from Kinabatangan (yes, the infamous Datuk Bung Mokhtar) could not resist jumping into the bandwagon and have his say as well (as usual). He went a step further by accusing the DAP of having "an agenda to destroy the country's economy by exposing the case." Harsh accusations indeed. Must've spent many hours consulting with their respective spin doctors to come up with this latest idea.

I think this blame game started first with our Deputy IGP calling for an investigation into the identity of the person who took the offensive video clip, and threatening to charge the culprit instead of the policewoman caught in the act of executing the offensive punishment as well as those who gave her the orders. I wonder if anyone realised that after all the uproar over this first spin had died down, we STILL do not know the identity of the video-taker and all those who are directly involved in the offensive act.

And then, the attention was duly shifted to Teresa Kok, the DAP MP who first brought up the matter into public knowledge by showing the video clip from her notebook to some MPs outside the Dewan Rakyat. A Malay daily quoted a lawyer, Jamil Mohamed Shafie as saying that action could be taken against Kok under section 292 of the Penal Code, which stated that those who showed pornographic material to the public can be imprisoned for three years or fined RM10,000 or both. This is an outrageous attempt by interested parties to pull the wool over the eyes of the public clamouring for police reform as a result of the worldwide exposure given to this shameful incident. It was so ridiculous that the suggestion was shot down immediately by another BN MP. You can read a commentary by blogger carboncopy on this not-so-clever spin here. So now, we have this latest attempt to divert the public's attention again from the real problem being brought out into the open by the video clip. Obviously, we are deliberately being misled into missing the forest for the trees.

This is another thought that crossed my mind. In the list of those who may have a claim to being hurt by this event, I wonder who is pitching for the right to top the list?

The police force, for being exposed? (pun intended)
The Deputy IGP, for not following the PM's orders, thereby embarrassing himself with the setting up of an independent commission by the PM to investigate the matter?
The Deputy Minister for being caught telling a lie, and subsequently getting a public reprimand from the PM?
The Chinese government, for being humiliated by a foreign country's treatment of its people?
The Malaysian government, for having to eat humble pie because of the act of a few bad apples within the public service?
Innocent foreigners, who have personally experienced the ugly side of our law enforcement, initially afraid to voice their grievances but are now slowly coming out into the open?
The Malaysian business sector, both public and private, for possible economic fallout due to negative press reports about our country's rumoured racial profiling tendencies being circulated worldwide?
The decent men and women of our country, who are concerned about human rights and their right to protect themselves from being subjected to arbitrary rules & regulations by our law enforcers?
The opposition leaders, NGOs and other civil rights movements who are concerned that the freedom of speech in this country is being curbed by those who sought to use legislations to hide their sins?
The media, who are being blamed as part of the game for the blundering acts of our govt representatives?
And finally, the minority local communities who have for years accused the force of subjecting them to unfair treatment while in detention for offences which were ultimately never proven in a court of law.

These guys will continue to spin and spin until the water gets murkier and murkier, hoping that as is usually the case, the issue will eventually die a natural death with the dearth of news coverage in the mainstream media. And in the end, no one gets any wiser from this shameful event, until the next idiot comes along and puts the country back into the front pages again.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

NEW! Firefox 1.5 free download

This is a news item I gleaned from today's The Star In.Tech page 17 which I want to share with readers of this blog.

New Firefox on the prowl
A new version of Firefox, the Internet browser that is cutting into the dominance of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, was released last week.
According to the non-profit Mozilla Foundation, which distributes the open-source browser, Firefox 1.5 offers enhanced security and privacy features, improved pop-up blocking, faster load times and automatic update capability.
"It's going to render your webpages faster, and the automatic update feature will make sure your browser is always up to date," said Mike Schroepfer, Mozilla's vice-president of products.
"As a user you will notice the difference with this new version."
The new browser is available for download at and its launch coincides with a marketing campaign to increase its penetration from 11% of web surfers, versus 85% of Microsoft's browser.

Well, I have tried it this morning and so far, I'm pretty impressed with the speed. I'm looking forward to getting more useful stuff from this new browser.


Mozzie Scare

Yesterday evening, as I was getting ready for dinner, I caught a whiff of smoke coming in through the windows. The instant the familiar smell hit my nose, I knew that there must have been a dengue case reported in my neighbourhood. And true enough, the local council guys soon came into view with their fogging machines, covering the entire area with a blanket of hazy smoke-filled insecticide.

The strange thing though is that these guys just made their rounds along the inner roads surrounding our housing area. I opened my front doors wide expecting them to come into the house to do a quick fogging in the hope that the nasty mozzies would not have a chance of hiding in my house but surprise, surprise, those guys never came by! They just whizzed by my house and in the process did a pretty good job fogging my garden area. Now I'm left wondering (and worried) if the aedes mosquitoes, having been fogged out of their hiding place outside, have not in turn sought refuge INSIDE my house which is relatively fog-free.

My neighbour confirmed that someone indeed had been struck down by dengue fever about 300m from our houses. J, my 9 year-old, who has been playing basketball earlier in the garden with the family dog has a few fresh mosquito bites around her legs and arms. Now I'm truly worried and wished those damn foggers had taken the time to come round and do a thorough fogging inside my house.

Mosquitoes are such an unavoidable pest in a tropical country like Malaysia. We keep our houses and compound clean to prevent possible breeding grounds, and yet they are everywhere, especially so if there are lots of greenery around. How do we keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from the dangers posed by the aedes mosquitoes? After all, they do fly around, away from their original breeding ground, right? I'm praying hard that there won't be anymore dengue cases in my neighbourhood. Right now, I'm really spooked.


Monday, December 05, 2005

Rediscovering Langkawi & Loving It

I haven't been to Langkawi for ages. The last time I was there was back in 1996, I think. So when I had the opportunity to visit again recently, I really looked forward to the trip, if only to see how much the island had changed.

Langkawi has indeed changed a lot and all for the better. I enjoyed my short trip so much that I wished I had been able to stay on longer to explore the island. The cable-car ride to the top of the highest mountain was very memorable, not least because it was quite a thrilling steep ride up. For some, it was a harrowing experience because it was REALLY steep going up. But the view at the top was simply gorgeous and my only regret was that I could not take a leisurely journey down on foot along the well-laid out tracks because it started to rain heavily soon after.

Then, there's the Telaga Air Panas where entrance to the hot spring was pleasantly free-of-charge. And it felt really good to dip your tired feet into the available buckets filled with the hot spring water flowing from the wells. Traditional foot massages are also available for those who are game to give it a try, but you will have to pay a small charge for it.

Another worthy visit was the museum which houses Dr Mahathir's various treasures and gifts collected during his 22 years in office as our Prime Minister. Some of the precious gifts are really astounding, especially those from heads of states of foreign countries. Some are simply mind-boggling, like the one leather bag made from a whole uncut piece of baby crocodile skin with the crocodile head hanging in front functioning as the flap of the bag! You can easily spend half a day browsing through the huge collection and learn so much about foreign culture and handicrafts at the same time.

Also, there's so much more to see at the Mahsuri tomb now compared to in 1996. The above picture was taken inside the newly designed enclave housing the tomb and various artifacts. I even managed to catch a "live" stage performance enacting the tragedy of Mahsuri which lasted a good hour. The only strange thing about this show is that the dialogue was understandably in Malay but there were no subtitles in English for the benefit of foreign tourists. I could see that most of the tourists who watched the show with me could not enjoy it as much as we did, which is a real pity.

Langkawi remains a charming and unspoilt island, only with so much better infrastructure and well-managed tourist attractions, thanks in no small part to Dr Mahathir. Now, if only AirAsia would start to offer discounted rates of RM19.99 to Langkawi so that I can go back again soon. I heard that there's a great place for diving and snorkelling activities where you get to see magnificent corals and marine life in all its natural glory.

(Postscript: I've found a link here on some recommended food joints in Langkawi. Hope the prospective traveller will find it informative!)

Note: Langkawi will be featured in a travel documentary programme hosted by the RSN channel's HOT SPOTS which will be broadcast in 100 affiliated stations across America. Hopefully, more people from around the world would come and see for themselves the beauty and charm of our own island of legendary magical enchantment.


Congratulations Nicol David!

What a girl! Nicol David has done our country proud by her latest achievement in the world of squash. She is now officially the World Open Squash Champion after her latest win in Hong Kong. This is on top of her equally impressive win at the British Open Championship last October. When the December rankings list are out, Nicol David will be the World No. 1 female squash player. Truly amazing.

She is only 22 years old and her success is testimony to her grit and determination to realise her personal goals and dreams. She did it without much fanfare and fuss from our govt sporting officials. Let us hope she will continue to reach greater heights with quiet and purposeful support from those who value her contributions to our nation. And when the time is right, I hope our country will give her due recognition for the role she played in putting Malaysia on the world's map of sporting excellence.

Nicol, you are a great role model for young Malaysians. Bravo!

(Picture of Nicol taken from:


That was quick work!

Further to the arms heist incident, our men in blue did a great job by recovering all the stolen firearms before any harm was done to society. Kudos to all those who have worked hard and smart to solve the case. Let us pray that such a serious security breach will not occur again in our country.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

Oh No! Another Police Arms Heist

I am alarmed at today's report that a break-in resulting in the theft of 21 guns and some 500 bullets from the police armoury have occurred at the General Operations Force (GOF) Camp (9th Battalion) in Kubang Badak, Kuala Terengganu early yesterday.

The fact that the thieves had not been able to take away a cache of M16 and Heckler & Koch MP5 assault rifles and flare grenades is small comfort.

This latest security breach is the third incident of arms heist since the year 2000 when in July of that year, 15 members of the deviant Al-Ma'unah group broke into the Territorial Army's 304th battalion camp in Grik and carted away 116 weapons and ammunition resulting in the tragedy that subsequently unfolded in Sauk.

This latest incident is another damper to the morale of the police force, coming hot on the heels of the recent scandals which have negatively affected their image and reputation. I can't help but feel concerned about what the thieves intended to do with the stolen weapons. There's too much violence going on around the world and it is going to be tough work for our police officers to keep our country safe and peaceful from all the terrorists, deviationists and criminals lurking out there. Already they are under all sorts of pressure from the people and government due to the actions of a few bad hats. Let us all hope that the good cops within the force will be inspired to turn around the negativity affecting their profession and lead by example in showing Malaysians and the whole world that they can and will do their utmost to shoulder their job responsibilities to the highest level of professionalism and integrity for the good of our country and society, irregardless of the snide remarks being hurled in their direction during these turbulent days.


Friday, December 02, 2005

Reward for marrying single mums??

This is by far the most stupid thing I have ever read about this year, coming from one of our elected leaders from the ruling party.


MEN who take single mothers as wives should be given monetary reward, a Backbencher proposed yesterday. Datuk Idris Harun (BN-Tangga Batu) said the Government should give men who marry single mothers with children "some kind of incentive" for their good deed. He made the suggestion during debate on the 2006 Budget at committee stage.

Pray tell, are you doing yourself some personal favours here, YB Datuk from Tangga Batu?

Read more about this absurd suggestion here. And oh yeah ... money talks, all the time, in Bolehland.


Our Politicians Need To Be More Patriotic

People define patriotism in many different ways but most politicians in this country tend to have a very skewed definition of the word "patriotic". For the most part, they will claim that you are patriotic if you support their political party, their actions and their rule of law.

For me, all I want from my leader is for him or her to be truly patriotic and do what is only right and good for my beloved Malaysia. This may include but not limited to protecting its land and natural resources from being plundered by greedy people, by keeping the country safe and secure for its citizens and visitors alike, by ensuring that the distribution of the country's wealth and opportunities are fair and equitable for everyone, especially the poor and the needy, and by ensuring good governance to uphold law and order with only the best and morally fit people being appointed to positions of power and authority.

We cannot claim to be patriotic if our actions or inactions do more harm than good to our country and to our people, whether individually or collectively. What is your definition of patriotism?


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