Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Lighten up

A doctor came to see a patient, a very ill woman.

He entered the room and after five minutes he was out.

He asked the husband who was waiting there, "Give me a cockscrew!" The husband was a little worried why a cockscrew should be needed.

But then, the doctor came out again after five minutes, perspiring, and he said, "Now, give me a screwdriver!"

The husband got very excited, but still kept silent - because the doctor knows what to do.

After another five minutes, the doctor was back again and he asked for a chisel and hammer. Then it was too much for the distraught husband who could not stand it any longer and he said, "What is wrong with my wife?"

The doctor said, "I don't know yet, because I have not been able to open my bag!"


Saturday, February 25, 2006

Reclaim the joy of going to school

The commentary by VK Chin in The Star yesterday caught my eye, the subject title being "Don't burden pupils with too many subjects".

This is not the first time that the subject of schoolkids being increasingly burdened by a lack of clear policy direction by our Education Ministry has been brought to the attention of the public. Each year at the beginning of the school calendar, parents and a small group of people in the healthcare industry repeated their calls for a review into the current syllabus where primary school children are being burdened with a bagful of textbooks and workbooks which put a huge strain on the posture of the growing kids.

But does anyone care to listen and actually DO something about it? The Education Ministry seems to be suffering from major impotence in finding a solution to lighten the schoolbags.

These days, there is not much joy in going to school anymore. It is a place where kids spend all day studying and when it's time to go home, they bring back loads of homework which sometimes took up the rest of the day just to finish. Is it any wonder most kids hate school these days?

A Suhakam report on primary education revealed an alarmingly high dropout rate among male primary schoolkids. The report showed that in 2003, 10,695 male pupils dropped out of primary school of which:-

5,111 stayed away when they were in Year 2,
925 in Year 3,
26 in Year 4,
3,366 in Year 5, and
a staggering 6,925 in Year 6!

When asked why this trend of dropping out from primary school is more confined to male pupils, Suhakam commissioner Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said it was because the Malaysian education system is more academic in nature. He said,

"We focus and emphasise more on academic achievements and boys are usually inclined for other hard activities. There have been instances when a female teacher is supposed to supervise boys playing football. Obviously, the teacher being female would not show the same interest in the game as a male teacher would and when the teacher does not show interest, the boys lose interest too."

Similarly, VK Chin in his Star commentary also cautioned the Government to think carefully before introducing new school subjects in order not to overload the present education system. This is because various interest groups have tried to push their pet projects to be part of the school syllabus, ranging from the recent suggestion of teaching road safety to curb the rising number of road fatalities each year to environment, consumerism and awareness of vices such as smoking and drinking.

No one seems to realise that "what is sadly lacking is the number of periods for physical education which has taken a backseat in many primary and secondary schools as principals and teachers seem more interested in improving their pupils' academic standard. ...

Actually, there are many primary schools with less than 2 periods of physical education per week, which surely is vastly inadequate. The focus is always academic with little time for physical activities to strengthen their bodies.

This is an area that the ministry should look into, to ensure that all pupils be strong not only mentally but physically, too.

There are already too many subjects being taught and adding more will be too taxing for the children.

While we wish our children to do well academically we also do not want them to end up with health problems later on in life due to lack of exercise."

A reader of Malaysiakini wrote an interesting letter here pointing out that our pressure cooker education system will blow up. That is really not very far from the truth of the matter.

Just to give you an example of what it is like for a Year 6 school student studying for the UPSR (Primary School Assessment Test) examination this year had to go through in a Chinese vernacular school in Negri Sembilan:-

He wakes up at about 5:30 am to get ready for school because he must be in class before 7 am when the teacher comes in to supervise the morning reading session.

Classes officially starts from 7:20am to 10:00am.
He gets a 30-minute break at about 10:00 am.
Classes resume from 10:30am to 1:30pm.
He gets a 30-minute break for lunch.
Classes resume from 2:00pm to 4:30pm.

By the time he reached home, it is already past 5:00pm and he has yet some unfinished homework to complete before he can call it a day.

The above schedule applies from Monday to Friday, with the exception on Wednesday when he gets to go home at 1:30pm (the only normal school hours day he gets in a week).

On Tuesday, the day stretched to 5:00pm.

On Saturday, he has to return to school for extra tuition from 8:00am to 11:30 am.

Can we honestly say that the long hours spent studying in school almost 6 days a week is good for a 12 year old?

Someone who is familiar with the national school system can probably enlighten us as to whether their Year 6 students undergo a similar routine. I am rather doubtful though.

Frankly, I think it is a terrible burden for these kids to have to go through such a punishing schedule just so that they can score as many "A" as they can for the glory of their school and their parents. But that is the reality of vernacular schools and if you choose to put your kids in these schools, you have not much choice but to play by their rules just like the way they enforced the "crewcut for boys and short hair below the collar-line for girls" rule. Take it or leave it. Of course, most people do take it grudgingly because they'd rather suffer these rules than opt for national schools (which is another controversial subject for another day).

I hope to see the day when our children can reclaim their childhood so that when they grow up and look back upon this period in their lives, it is filled with memories of a carefree period when school is a place they enjoyed going to. It may be far better to teach primary school children how to be a good and conscientious citizen who know how to take good care of public property, to abhor littering and vandalism, to practise good hygiene and good manners and most of all, to respect their elders and their friends and to be mindful and gracious when interacting with people who are different from them, whether by the colour of their skin or religious beliefs.

If we are able to teach young children how to be a model citizen, it will go a long way towards moulding them into the kind of adults we wish for in our society. Certainly that is the aspiration of our PM who's wish is to see each and every citizen of this country developing first class mentality and social graces to go with the first class infrastructure that we have already spent so much money to put in place. But the pursuit of mere academic excellence has resulted in most people pushing aside the need to develop other soft values which makes a person more wholesome and more well-rounded. And in the process, we have created an ugly, selfish and materialistic society where each person cares only for the well-being of himself or his own community to the detriment of others.

Sometimes it is amusing to note that while more developed countries in the West are putting more emphasis on the importance of developing and nurturing a high Emotional Quotient (EQ) as a mark of a civilised society as well as recognising that an individual with a high EQ has a better chance of success in his career, we in Malaysia still regard a high IQ (Intelligence Quotient) as a prerequisite for success in life. That's rather archaic and sadly, a reflection of the minds of our bureaucrats who run the Ministry of Education and directly responsible for the quality of our future generation of leaders.

Sad indeed when you see the reality of what is going on in our country and what is happening in our schools these days.

While the Ministry has admitted that our teachers are currently overworked and stressed out in a less than ideal work environment in a news report published today, perhaps they should also make a serious effort to unburden our kids and do away with an examination-oriented school syllabus. This way, teachers and students will not have to suffer the yearly pressure of producing excellent academic results to meet the expectations of misguided principals and parents.

So what is it exactly that is making our Ministry of Education so terribly uninspired?


Friday, February 24, 2006

Congratulations, Citizen Nades!

I am delighted to post this congratulatory message here following a special tribute by BSDRA (Bandar Sri Damansara Residents Association) to Mr R. Nadeswaran, theSUN's deputy editor (special reporting desk) for his admirable role as a watchdog for civic society.

The association's deputy president, R. Ravindran, praised Nades for his examplary contributions and courage towards building a better society for the benefit of all Malaysians. Apart from an award which was presented to Nades by the Subang Jaya MP Tan Sr Dr. K.S. Nijhar, BSDRA also penned a poem titled "Tribute to Citizen Nades":-

He is loud to those who find him as trouble,
He is a friend to those silent majority,
He is a guide to many who are lost in a jungle of bureaucracy,
He is a saviour to many who are caught in the realms of corruption,
He is a mentor to many budding social workers, journalists and many more,
He walked the streets of KL with handcuffs to show us all what is apathy!
He is potent to all the sleeping councils and councillors
He is a gentleman to those who work with him and mix with him
He is a crusader of efficiency, anti-corruption, cleanliness, care and empathy
He is none other than CITIZEN NADES to all those who never miss his column in theSUN!
We are deeply and truly gratified by your continuous zest and courage to create an efficient Malaysia.

BSDRA salutes you, sir!


A touched Nades said, "I am very honoured and I am humbled by this award. I will continue to write for a better society. I will continue to live up to your expectations. On a sad note, all of our efforts have been brought to naught last Friday by a Federal Court ruling which says the local council has absolutely no liability for their mistakes. They are protected because they provided services."

We too are saddened by the judgment of the Federal Court.

Yes, the struggle continues but for the moment, let us join BSDRA in saluting Citizen Nades for doing a great job and letting him know that his tireless effort is well appreciated.

He is indeed an exceptionally patriotic Malaysian who truly walk his talk. Unfortunately, his good deeds have not been recognised nor appreciated by those who can really make things better for all of us. That is the harsh reality we face each day in this great country.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Chicken scare

The next time you push a shopping cart down a supermarket aisle, do remember to WASH your hands before you touch your face or pick up something to put into your mouth.

A study conducted in South Korea revealed that shopping cart handles are the most bacteria-infested items among some commonly used objects, carrying some 1,100 colony forming units of bacteria per 10 sq cm (1.55 sq inches)!

Whether it is the common flu bug or the dreaded mutated bird flu bug that you definitely don't want in your system, it would be safer to just treat the cart handles the way you do toilet door knobs - scrub your hands with soap and water after contact each time.

This is especially important considering the worldwide fear over the possibility of the current bird flu scare turning into something more sinister. Whether the infected birds are dead or alive, we have been advised to be extra careful after coming into contact with them.

Malaysians now have to deal with this threat after it was reported in the papers the appearance of H5N1 virus in Kuala Lumpur. Apparently, our authorities suspected fighting cocks smuggled in from neighbouring countries probably transmitted the bird flu virus that struck down more than 80 chickens over the past 10 days in Kampung Pasir Wardieburn off Jalan Genting-Klang in Setapak.

As a measure of precaution, the Health Ministry has decided that chickens within a radius of 1.5km from the village will be culled while those within a 10km radius will be placed under surveillance. This is on top of the 495 birds (chickens, ducks and others) and 270 bird eggs that were culled, destroyed and buried yesterday in an empty plot of land near the village. We have been pretty lucky that so far, no human cases have been reported in the country.

But how far will our luck carry us?

Incidentally, is anyone out there worried about how our current unregulated practise of mushrooming bird-hotels in towns and commercial areas for the lucrative birdnest market is going to have an impact on the health of our people living and working nearby?

It is not just the chickens and ducks that our authorities should be worried about.


1. What happened at Kampung Pasir Wardieburn. (The NST) (The Star)
2. Some assurances and comforting words on safety of cooked chicken meat and eggs. (The NST)
3. Why Paul Ewald thinks a global pandemic will not happen. (The NST)
4. Indonesia records new death from bird flu (The Star)


Monday, February 20, 2006

First national public toilet design competition, a secret Salayang doesn't know

What's this?

Our Deputy Prime Minister is going to announce the winner of the First Public Toilet Design Competition organised by the Housing & Local Govt Ministry together with the Works Ministry this coming Friday at the launch of the Quality Restroom Association of Malaysia at Berjaya Times Square.

There will be cash prizes offered to the 9 winners in the 3 categories, namely stand-alone public toilets, toilets in eatery shops and toilets in shopping centres.

The competition which was the brainchild of our DPM attracted 94 entries, of which 41 were short-listed.

Deputy Housing & Local Govt Minister Datuk Robert Lau said, "Many of the entries are impressive."

Housing & Local Govt Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting as well as other ministers and state executive councillors nationwide will be among the event's 500 guests.


This news item must be pretty enlightening to this man.

Does this mean that the honourable toilet inspectors of Selayang were NOT AWARE of this competition?

Does this also mean to say that Kohilan Pillay went all the way to South Africa to check out their toilets unaware that back home we already have a national competition going to solve our public toilet problem?

So this brings us back to the real reason for the dubious "lawatan sambil belajar" trip undertaken by the Selayang councillors & dept heads. So this also means that the "toilet checks" were probably a nice little excuse dreamt up by someone truly ignorant?

Duh ... I hope all the 14 Selayang MPS councillors and 10 dept heads concerned will be at Berjaya Times Square this coming Friday to give us rate-payers some serious ANSWERS.


I like this kampung boy

I have known him since my halcyon schoolgirl days. Not personally, of course, although it would be nice to have an opportunity to shake his hands and say hello. He's one local celebrity I still admire today, years after I first read his funny cartoons. Yes, I'm talking about Lat or Datuk Mohd Nor Khalid, his real moniker.

And it is nice to know that he is still popular, not just ala "jaguh kampung" but a real talent recognised internationally by those who appreciate his brand of humour, a very honest depiction of the culture and way of life in days gone by.

Flipping through some of his collection of works, I am at once struck by how much our country and society have changed over a short span of 50 years. Most of the scenes he captured were reminiscent of the vibrant era of the 60s and 70s, those "P.Ramlee" days that the young and old alike can still sample on national TV sometimes.

And what a seemingly tolerant society we had back then, of funfairs, joget girls, BB park, tight kebayas, cheongsams and sexy saris. Lat does not shy away from making fun of the familiar traits typical of the local Malay, Chinese, Indian and Punjabi communities in those days. Even the "orang putih" and other Eastern nationalities like the "orang Jepun" were not spared - they were caricatured the way the local folks generally perceived them to be, rightly or wrongly. And no one seems to take public offence. It was all jolly good fun, even if the truth about us can be somewhat embarrassing.

But the same cannot be said today. We have too many hang-ups. People, not just in Malaysia but all over the world, seem to put a lot of emphasis on political correctness in the things we say or do in public. It is dangerous to try to be funny in these troubling times, post 9-11, as has been demonstrated in the furore caused by one particular caricature, here in Malaysia and elsewhere.

Maybe newspapers should give more attention to cartoonists like Lat - he could show the world a thing or two about racial harmony and tolerance.

And maybe we too need to feature Lat prominently in our mass media again - just to remind us how we can project ourselves as we were in the good ol' days - one happy multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious Malaysian family.

We have a Tourism Malaysian envoy, maybe we can also appoint Lat as our National Unity spokesperson. Then perhaps Prof. Emeritus Datuk Khoo Kay Kim will not feel like a "lonely bridge builder".

Sometimes a dose of feel-good factor, some good-natured jabs at each other's neurosis and a gentle reminder not to take ourselves and each other too literally and too seriously can do a world of good to remind us that we are all ultimately brothers and sisters of the human race in these difficult times. Good cartoons like good medicine given in the right dosage can be healthful. Lat has demonstrated that amply by his wide appeal to all his fans regardless of race or religion.


Saturday, February 18, 2006

The comical antics of ex-AP Queen

It was just the wrong shampoo, that's all.

She just lurvs the attention, doesn't she?

Put her in front of the mikes, the flashing cameras and a horde of journalists around and there she goes again, frothing at the mouth.

God, how could she missed it?

That arrogant speech was just what everyone was waiting to hear from her! It was an invitation to a tight slap across the face from you-know-who.

Everyone knows who her "god"father is at this moment. No need to gloat for the whole world to see.

But remember how she incurred the wrath of her previous "father" not so long ago? Some priceless snippets from the past taken from this Bernama archive:-

"Jangan ada sesiapa yang mengandaikan bahawa saya bersikap kurang ajar terhadap Tun. Oh Tuhan! Mereka tidak memahami diri saya, mereka benar-benar tidak memahami saya," katanya.

"(Wujud) sesetengah salah faham bahawa saya bersikap kurang ajar terhadap Tun. Demi Tuhan, itu tidak benar! Saya tidak boleh bersikap kurang ajar terhadap Tun, saya menyifatkannya sebagai seorang tokoh bapa ... Ingat tak bahawa sayalah antara yang pertama berteriak apabila beliau (Dr Mahathir) mahu mengundurkan diri...sehingga kasut saya tertanggal?" katanya ketika cuba mengingatkan keadaan semasa Dr Mahathir mengumumkan hasratnya untuk mengundurkan diri sebagai perdana menteri ketika Perhimpunan Agung UMNO 2002 di sini."

"Saya pegang Quran O.K?. Saya tak reti cakap main-main, hipokrit tak mahu. Saya percayai tuhan, kamu tahu."

That was the time we saw her in tears.

And now what? For her over-confidence in assuming that she is still in charge of the AP issue as reported in the news yesterday, Pak Lah has come out with a clear statement today which can best be described as a clear slap in the face.

Yep - sad to say this but she really deserved it, didn't she? That's the price of arrogance.

And not to mention insulting Pak Lah by implying that she stayed on in her post because God said so.

How dumb can she get?

For some nice headline pictures of this controversy, click this link to Jeff's website. For an amusing take on this issue, check out this howler.


Friday, February 17, 2006

Are you socially sensitive?

When it comes to respecting other people's faith and religious beliefs, we Malaysians like to think that we are, for the most part, a tolerant society by virtue of the fact that we all manage to live harmoniously in our multi-religious and multi-cultural society made up of various races with different beliefs and ideologies.

Some local politicians like to create the illusion that we have the best model in this world in these troubling times and all credit should go to the ruling government for the peace and prosperity that we presumably enjoy at this moment.

I'm not going to argue about this.

Instead, I am going to quote Datin T.D. Ampikaipakan, who writes regularly in The STAR under her column WINNING WAYS. Her article today is very thought-provoking and since the link has not been put up yet in the web version of the paper, I will reproduce it here so that it can reach a wider audience.

She said (among other things) in her article titled "Respecting another's faith":-

Sensitivity is not the prerogative of one religion or race. We all must learn to understand how to live with each other without making someone feel small about his/her beliefs and practices.

There are so many issues that offend and upset people. Again, many of us are not sure how to behave when we deal with or are invited or entertained by people of different faiths.

Look at the following issues. How would you react if you were put in that spot?

  1. If you were travelling abroad, would you insist that people who are dining with you not eat any of the food that is taboo to you? If you were the host, would you refrain from serving food that is taboo to your guest?
  2. You are invited for dinner by your boss and his wife. They are non-meat eaters. They had fish for dinner but you ordered a steak. Did you offend them? Was it rude of you to eat meat in front of non-meat eaters?
  3. If you do not drink alcohol and you are the host, would you allow your business guests to have alcohol with their meal? If you are the guest and you do not drink, would you be offended if your host ordered a soft drink for you and then had a glass of wine himself?
  4. If you best friend of a different faith has passed away, would you go to his/her place of worship for his/her final journey? If your religion does not allow you (a woman) to go to the place of burial or crematorium, would you still go to the burial ground?
  5. If you are married to a person of a different faith, would you accommodate the religious beliefs of your in-laws which are alien to yours? If your child were to marry someone of a different faith, would you participate in the wedding ceremonies of a different faith?
  6. You are an animal rights activitist and you go for a dinner where they serve venison. You are offended. What would you do?
  7. You are sharing a room with your colleague on a business trip. You pray every day and wish to continue this routine. What would you do?
  8. You are not a religious person and when religious beliefs and practices are discussed, you often remain silent. One day, someone asks for your opinion. What will you say?
  9. Friends who visit you during Christmas brings presents for you and your children. You do not celebrate Christmas. Would you have brought presents for them too?
What are your answers to the above?

Food for thought indeed.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

This is one strange woman

When I read what Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil had to say about the controversy surrounding the proposed amendments to the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Act 2005 here and here, I was somewhat confused but did not want to blog about it because of this particular sentence that was mentioned here by Jamaah Islah Malaysia women’s chief Dr Harlina Halizah Siraj:-

“The low level of legal literacy among women here also needs to be addressed so that they will be more sensitive to new developments and not be easily fooled by any parties.”

and more importantly this:-

“Those who have been critical of the Bill only exposed their ignorance of the Sources of the Islamic Law, Priorities of the Islamic Law and the Cardinal Principles of the Islamic Law.

“Any criticism and comments on Syariah should only be made by parties who are well versed with the sources of Syariah, namely the Quran, the Hadiths (Authentic Traditions of the Prophet), Ijma’ (Consensus), Qiyas (Analogy) and other secondary sources of Islamic jurisprudence”.

Obviously, since I am a non-Muslim, by implication of the above statement, I really do not have any right to voice my opinion on this issue. Perhaps I should also feel ashamed for daring to do so in an earlier posting here. That was the whole point of this not-so-subtle chiding, wasn't it?

But clearly, there are others who share my sentiments and some one from the Muslim community felt similarly confused and offended enough to write to Malaysiakini here and another letter here from a fellow non-Muslim.

So, what gives, Datuk Seri Shahrizat?


Yong Tau Fu time

This is one minor festival that I have almost forgotten about.

I was actually reminded of it during Chap Goh Meh dinner by my mother-in-law. For the Chinese Hakkas, the 20th of the first lunar month is supposed to be the day when the sky apparently has a hole which we mortals perform some rituals to "patch" it up.

In Hakka lingo, it is "bu tien chon" or "patching up the sky" day. This year, it coincides with the 17th of February, on Friday.

I don't know much of it - maybe prayers are offered and the usual feast laid out for the deities.

But what I do remember most is the "yong-tau-fu" or "stuffed tofu" meal that was always served on this day. So when my M-I-L brought up this subject at the dinner table the other day, I got all nostalgic again.

I remembered how my dad never missed celebrating this occasion by making lots of his famous "yong-tau-fu". It is true that my dad's "yong-tau-fu" was the best - heartily endorsed by all who had the good fortune to taste it and verily declared a culinary masterpiece by admirers of his cooking skills. Yes, he was such a good cook that long after he was gone, it is almost always the subject of food that invariably got his loved ones thinking about him and feeling the emptiness left behind by his absence.

I used to wonder why dad made such a big deal out of this relatively unknown festival outside of the Hakka community, until I found out some interesting trivia here.

Apparently, this day is also supposedly the birthday of Shen Tai, the distributor of wealth. Shen Tai was a devoted disciple of the Goddess of Mercy (Guan Yin).

And don't ask me why the "yong tau fu" became the symbolic food for this day. I can only guess that maybe it was the act of stuffing the meaty fillings into the pockets of "tau-fu" or "tofu", somewhat symbolic to "patching up the holes in the sky".

And since it is always good to have some blessings of wealth in the new year, maybe I will have a big meal of "yong tau fu" this Friday.

Incidentally, the 26th day of the first lunar month (23rd February this year) is the Festival of God of Money. Perhaps I should also celebrate this day by buying 4-ekor. I might just get lucky and be rewarded for remembering and celebrating the birthday of Shen Tai, the distributor of wealth.

This is another link to some Chinese festivals you never knew existed.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Saying one thing and doing another

I'm amazed by some people.

In the Metro section of The Star today, the Selangor MB made the following proclamation:-

there will be no more unnecessary events and dinners, no more functions at luxury hotels - not at the public's expense anyway.

This was in response to the developed State's audited reports which showed financial losses largely due to:-

dishonesty, expenditure exceeding allocation and purchases made without following correct procedure.

He further said:-

To strengthen financial accountability, it is our collective duty to ensure that every sen collected from the public is spent judiciously, economically, expertly and effectively without wastage.

Such noble words indeed.

Do you really think with the above admirable position of the MB, the MBSA's proposed Europe trip is going to hang in the balance?

Not from the tone of the MBSA corporate dept director Asmah Mohd Zain who admitted that there was indeed a plan for the annual overseas trip this year although the details have yet to be finalised. After all, they do need to get the "permission from the state authority" for the 40 or so heads of dept, senior officers and councillors to go on the week-long trip.

And I presume the state authority who will finally give the green light would be the MB who has called for a "cut in govt spending" today. I wonder how much this will cost the rate-payers, assuming that the State govt found an economical and judicious way to justify every sen spent on this yet another "lawatan sambil belajar" trip.

This ought to be really embarrassing because in today's The SUN, it was further revealed by Citizen Nades that Selangor Executive Council members have been provided with "infra-red cameras costing thousands of ringgit, a flak jacket, and perhaps allowances" so that they can help "improve services within local councils" by taking photographs of clogged drains, potholes and illegal dumpsites as evidence of inaction towards public complaints.

I suppose they really DO need such expensive high-tech cameras to go with their high-society lifestyle in the exclusive gated Exco Village, all courtesy of the residents of the developed state. But duplicating a job function by spying and reporting on someone for not doing his or her job? These Exco members must have lots of free time on their hands and nothing better to do.

Is it any wonder why the State govt's audited reports showed financial loss?

As a fellow blogger says, "Cakap Tak Serupa Bikin".

Update: This is another public opinion of a disgusted rate-payer against the "Little Napoleans" of local councils.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Much Ado About Nothing

So, what's the big deal anyway?

I caught our PM just now on RTM1 announcing some minor changes to his cabinet line-up and sorry to disappoint you, YB Lim Kit Siang, but it was an anti-climax, don't you agree?

It would have been mildly entertaining if Mr Vellu had his post re-designated since he seems to be facing a lot of stress lately in his day job as the Works Minister. At least, he won't need to make a goose of himself ranting on national TV about some people complaining about his ministry to TV stations.

Like Mr Vellu, some people in positions of power are starting to feel the heat from the intense public scrutiny lately. They are now running to the Boss to complain about a series of bad publicity in the media over certain hot issues. I just feel that it's a simple case of "siapa makan cili dia yang rasa pedas". What's there to worry if you are "bersih, cekap dan amanah"?

Actually, although the AP issue remain unresolved, I am not surprised to see that International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz has been retained in the new Cabinet. To be fair, I have to concur with the PM that she has done quite a good job in her ministerial post and it would be a great injustice to use the AP fiasco against her in considering her position in the Cabinet.

I don't know - who else could possibly do a better job heading MITI at this moment, from the pool of available candidates to choose from? It does seem like Rafidah has made herself indispensable in this respect, and she probably deserve the recognition for pouring her heart and soul into her work. Can't say the same for some of her male counterparts in the Cabinet. For the most part, some of these guys just sleep-walked through their entire term of service.

Time to get on with the business of running this country and making good all the pre and post election promises.

And oh yeah! Happy Valentine's day to Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz. The gomen still loves you!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

I still love you, Malaysia

I hope that this will never happen to me or my kids, ... leaving Malaysia because I had to.


No Let Up (Selayang Pt 3)

In an update on the matter concerning local councils, Citizen Nades wrote a heartfelt article today in The SUN and I'm glad that I can get a link to it here.

In his "No Punches Pulled" column titled "People's action can be catalyst to evoke change", Nades' words evoke a strong feeling of helplessness in the following lines:-

What has been achieved despite exposing all the misdeeds and the nonsense that is taking place?

Does anyone care? Do those in authority take appropriate action against the wrongdoers? ...

Are we all fighting a lost cause? Have the powers-that-be become immune to the criticism heaped on them? Have they adopted a "I'll do what I like and no one can question me" attitude?

I have to say, the answer to the above questions posed by Nades must surely be obvious to all who have bothered to observe the goings-on in local councils around the country.

Consider the following truth:-

The annual reports put out by the Auditor-General are catalogues of shame - they outline excesses, sometimes bordering on criminality, but sad to say, no action is taken against the perpetrators who cause financial loss and sometimes, line their pockets with the people's hard-earned money.

So what do we do? What can the rakyat do to change things?

Every four years or so, we get to cast our votes to effect change but what do we get? Instead of sending a strong message to the ruling government that we are unhappy, what these people get instead is a resounding show of support and approval of their method of governance. That's a whole 92% support from voters in the past election.

Is it any wonder that we have inadvertently put in place all these "warlords and little emperors" with a huge stamp of approval from the ballot box?

It is very sad indeed but ultimately, the truth is that we get what we deserve because we made our choice and it is that choice which we have to put up with now.

So, for those who never bothered to register as voters, are you happy with the way our country is being governed? Are you happy with the service that you get from your local councils?

If you are not, please do get off the fence and register yourself as a voter and take the trouble to queue up and cast your vote in the next election. You have to believe that it is worth your time and trouble because your efforts will collectively be the "catalyst to evoke change".

The young generation must galvanise themselves to turn things around and steer our country towards positive changes. We cannot afford to see our country continue to be run the way as it has been for the past thirty years. In Nades' words:-

We have witnessed with disgust, pain and a deep sense of anguish the rapid and continuing erosion of the civil service.

The developments over the past months which have been highlighted in the media represent the fatal blows to all the concepts that we hold dear in the administration of the government and which the PM has been advocating.

Yes, the need for a clean-up of the entire machinery is urgent, like it must have been done yesterday. ...

It is you the people who can act as a catalyst to bring about change.

Instead of being silent spectators to the wrong-doings, it is time for you to act. You have to stand up and be counted. You have to, in no uncertain terms, state that you would not accept mediocrity.

If you don't act, don't blame anyone for it, especially the media ...

That is the most heartfelt message I have read in a long time.

Can everyone who has regular contact with the young eligible voters, such as those in NGOs, volunteer groups, clubs, associations ... any place where young people gather to exchange ideas and socialise, ignite the spark of interest to participate in discussions about the goings-on in our country, specifically on social-political matters which would have an impact on our society and our quality of life?

We need to engage our young minds to take an interest in the direction our country is heading, because ultimately, if we don't, we will find that we are helpless in the face of political, social and religious issues which get worked up into a full-blown crisis by manipulative sections of our society who know how to ride roughshod over the silent majority. And we WILL pay the price of apathy.

For once, let the voice of the decent folks be heard - loud and clear!

Archived articles on local councils:-
Citizen Nades on They foul up but rakyat pays
Citizen Nades on MPPJ Draft Local Plan forgery
Citizen Nades on Dying for some answers on ACA probe
Citizen Nades on A-G has spilled the beans, now what?
Citizen Nades on A Glimmer of Hope
Goh Ban Lee on Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP)
Goh Ban Lee on Local Govts get loud wake-up call
Goh Ban Lee on All powerful local Govt
Goh Ban Lee on MPPP 2006 budget increase
Gon Ban Lee's open letter to Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, Minister of Housing & Local Government


Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Honourable Toilet Inspectors (Selayang pt 2)


Imagine spending RM10,500 to go to Mauritius and South Africa to look at toilets!

Councillor A. Kohilan Pillay a.k.a. Cleanliness Committee Chairman of Selayang Municipal Council proudly proclaimed, on his return from his "lawatan sambil belajar" trip:-

"I saw 12 public toilets and they were really clean."


I'm mighty glad that he did not fly all the way there to puke at their public toilets. *Phew*

And he reminded the public that:-

"This was an important trip. Not main-main!"

Oooh ... this stinks.

Perhaps he is implying that Citizen Nades "bermain-main" when he wrote in the SUN today:-

"... Well, Kohilan should visit public toilets in some shopping centres in Kuala Lumpur and he could have learnt more. ...

... MPS wants to have an exchange programme with Port Louis. But what on earth can they learn from their counterparts? Filing letters from disgruntled residents? Ignoring queries from bosses? Delaying payment to contractors?

But look at the brighter (councillors') side - on the pretext of reciprocating the visits, they can continue to go on an overseas holiday paid by someone else. ..."

Oh my foot! Did you hear that, YB Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik?

Your guy has hardly recovered from jet-lag and he is already salivating at the prospects of returning there on a regular basis:-

"Selayang and Port Louis agreed to an exchange programme where councillors from both councils will spend sojourns in each other's country."

I wonder if A. Kohilan Pillay is representative of the kind of talents that Gerakan attracts and retains on its stable.

But let me tell you how I feel about this as a tax-payer. I would like A. Kohilan Pillay (and all the rest of the councillors) to know that I work hard to pay the government my tax ringgit and I am not amused at all to see my hard-earned money being frittered away in such a frivolous manner.

Look here, don't play-play with my tax money!

As Citizen Nades said earlier, local elections can put a stop to the gravy trains.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Turning the Heat on Selayang councilmen

First, it was PAC Chairman Datuk Shahrir Samad hitting out at the 14 Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) councillors and 10 department heads for going on a RM240,000 trip to Mauritius, as well as to Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa, funded by the council "in advance" (whatever that means, at the end of the day).

He summed it up best in the following manner:-

"Councillors and local authorities must have a sense of accountability to the voters in their municipalities, and not think that because they are appointed by the Mentri Besar, they are only answerable to him." ...

"As members, leaders and representatives of the ruling party, they are answerable to their voters and residents living in the local authority. They must show and explain how the study visit is going to benefit the voters."


"Their conscience should tell them if what they had done was indeed beneficial in any way to the people they are serving."


Since when has "accountability" and "conscience" been the criteria for holders of public offices as well as some Members of Parliament from our Ruling Party?

The Selayang council is under the auspices of the developed state of Selangor Darul Ehsan, right?

Should not the MB of the only developed state of the country be held "accountable" too?

Or is it that his conscience is telling him that his boys deserve to be rewarded for all the hard work they do to keep him in office? Never mind that the rewards ultimately came from the pockets of tax-payers.

Read what the SUN has to say about this in its editorial here.

And today, Citizen Nades came up with a very scathing piece in his Opinion page, but unfortunately I am not able to put up a link to it as it has yet to appear in the web version of the SUN.

It was an Open Letter to the Selayang Municipal Council written "for and on behalf of disgruntled and disgusted ratepayers of Selayang" titled "Welcome home, heroes of Selayang."

I think some of the interesting parts of the letter deserve to be reproduced here:-


Dear senior officials, president and councillors of the Selayang Municipal Council.

... The deep-sea fishing must have been great. How many marlins did you land in Mauritius? And what about the golf? They have some great golf courses, including one on a private island.

... We heard you never got to meet the councillors of the Port Louis Municipal Council. If you had, you would have learnt about how they work for the people. They would have told you how the people threw out the previous lot in an election because they did not deliver what the people wanted.

You would have been embarrassed to tell them that you never have to face the electorate to be in office. Perhaps you were shy to admit that you are occupying your council seats because of political patronage.

By the way, did you buy enough cenderamata or cenderahati for your political masters? They would merajuk if you did not bring any. After all, your existence is at their mercy.

And don't forget that some of them have moved to their new abodes in the Exco Villa in Shah Alam. Surely, a replica boat from Mauritius would sit quite prettily in their living rooms!

In Cape Town, did you manage that meeting with the municipal manager of the metropolitan municipality, Dr Amos Mgoqi? ... according to your schedule, you had six days in Cape Town. The meeting with the Dr Mgoqi would not have taken an hour. So, what else did you do?

The five-star Arabella Sheraton Grand Hotel (and it costs USD240 a night) where you stayed is in an excellent location - Cape Town's foreshore and most of the rooms and suites, with their fully glazed facade offer floor to ceiling views of the city.

One of you should have stayed in the Presidential Suite (USD1600 a night) overlooking Cape Town, which has its own sauna, fireplace, surround-sound entertainment lounge, study, fully-serviced kitchen and continuous butler service.

No, we never expected you to be locked up in your hotel rooms and we are sure you would have used the hotel's water taxi via the Roggebaai Canal to go to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront where there's plenty of shopping.

You would have gone up the Table Mountain or visited the nearby Blaauwklippen Vineyards. But please do not cut any hills in Templer's Park near Rawang to replicate the Table Mountain.

One of your councillors, Kohilan Pillay was quoted as saying that you were interested in looking at "investment opportunities." ...

By the way, we think that the word "investment" should not feature in the trip because it may anger some people. ... Rafidah Aziz and MIDA are spending large sums of money to attract foreign investment and by you wanting to invest in South Africa, it may be counter-productive.

By the way, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo himself has led several such missions overseas. Avoid the duplication, unless of course, you are unhappy with the progress made by these two personalities.

Having enjoyed your trip, can you please tell us more about how you plan to re-coup the RM240,000 that you have spent. ...

More importantly, how did your conscience allow you to take a holiday when services at the municipality are not up to the mark?

It is said that you don't respond to rate-payers' complaints and even ignore letters and reminders from the Housing and Local Government Ministry.

Under these circumstances, it is true that councillors and council presidents are little emperors. It is said that Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned, but all of you collectively did better - you were busy trying to hook a marlin or listen to the sounds of coins dropping into a machine when the administration of Selayang township was turning into shambles.

Now that you are back home, have a good rest, stop worrying about repaying the loan and plan for the next lawatan sambil belajar.


Well folks, I hope you enjoyed reading (parts of) this very entertaining letter as much as I did.

Ah ... I just can't get enough of Citizen Nades!


Monday, February 06, 2006

Botakgate - a Ho and a Hum

Somehow, Pak Lah's non-commital answer to the Botakgate furore is not going to soothe the raw nerves generated by the high-handedness of our men in blue. In particular, this line of reasoning by the PM:-

"If they find that all procedures were followed accordingly, then there is no problem. Then all we can say is maybe there is something wrong with the rules. We cannot blame someone for following the rules." (NST 6 Feb 2006)

Yeah ... he's shifting his feet and trying to dispense justice and fairness to all.

But what if someone is manipulating the rules to inflict shame and humiliation on unsuspecting targets?

Will that be no problem at all? Semua OK?

How CAN ?? You think people are so stupid ah ??

Talking about stupidity ...

Let's see ... this is another strange case of the Boss and his underling crossing swords (or is it keris?) in the media today:-

Abdullah called on everyone to stop harping on the proposed formation of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission.

"I have stated previously that the matter is being handled by the Attorney-General. Whatever action that is taken would be done with the intention of improving the police force." (NST, 6 Feb 2006)

Now, our YB Education Minister apparently has a problem with throwing his support behind his Boss:-

"Umno Youth was also not likely to support the setting up of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission." (The Star 6 Feb 2006)

Oops ... maybe YB Education Minister is trying to make himself popular with the police force considering that the men in blue have openly opposed the setting up of the Commission.

Whatever the reason, it sure makes the Boss look like a stupid fool because he just could not stop his own people and the civil servants under his administration from harping on and on about this matter.


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