Saturday, July 29, 2006

Happy Merdeka! Now, go fly your flag!

You know our National Day or Hari Kemerdekaan is just round the corner when you get the following message (reminder? threat?) from the government in the mainstream paper:-

The STAR, Saturday 29 July 2006 (page N16)


KUALA LUMPUR: Corporate organisations and rich homes in the Klang Valley have been told to fly the Jalur Gemilang during the National Day celebrations or "someone may pay them a surprise visit."

"Last year, many corporate buildings and well-heeled buildings and well-heeled houses failed to raise the flag. But this year, we are going to take action," said National Day organising committee chairman Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.

"Even though the action is only by means of turning up at their doorsteps to enquire why they have failed to display the flag, it can be humiliating for them," he told reporters after the committee met the respective state secretaries at the Malaysia Handicraft Complex here yesterday.

"If the committee members receive any information on corporation organisations and well-heeled houses failing to raise the national flag during the one-month celebration, they will not hesitate to take action," added Dr Rais, who is Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister.

There was no reason for Malaysians not to fly the Jalur Gemilang as a show of patriotism, he said, adding that all state representatives were also told to encourage villagers and Felda settlers to fly the national flag. ...

(Emphasis in bold is mine.)


Tsk, tsk ...

I distinctly remember talking about this obsession with forcing our people to fly the national flag each time the subject of organizing the Merdeka Day celebrations crop up. In my maiden post on this blog titled Merdeka 48 and our "batik" society a year ago, I wrote:-

" ... Today's major newspapers, as usual, carry lovely colourful pictures of the parade and the multi-racial crowd mingling peacefully and waving the requisite flags.

It seems to me that the papers took great pains to interview as many non-bumiputra revellers just so to show that these people are REALLY patriotic, in spite of what is actually happening in our country. Why the need to show proof?

I guess it is because year in and year out, we have a Minister of Information who had to scold and chide the public for not displaying our Jalur Gemilang in our houses, cars, offices, what nots. Seems to me that, just as it is with our society which paid great value on appearances as proof of your religious and moral convictions, the same goes to our BIG BROTHER that you are less patriotic if you do not fly the national flag come Merdeka Day.

Never mind that some of the biggest flag fliers are tax defaulters, corruptors, racists, etc."


Nothing much has changed since last year, eh?

But I guess Big Brother is getting serious about this issue. So serious that they will even take the time and trouble to pay you a visit and maybe, if you're lucky, present you with a complimentary flag so that you will have no excuse whatsoever of not hoisting one out of your window during Merdeka month.

Don't you think this is utterly pathetic?

I don't know about you, but such public pronouncements embarrass me as a Malaysian citizen.

What is the worth of this "show" of loyalty if it is obtained through force and subtle threats? Similarly, what is the worth of our "show" of unity if it is also obtained through doctored images and cowed subservience?

At the end of the day, we will be left wondering exactly how many of those flag fliers did it out of their own free will.

So sad.


Friday, July 28, 2006

Blogcom service #1 - Article 11, Federal Constitution of Malaysia

This is not exactly my first blogger community service message but I think from now on, it is appropriate to publicly offer my support to fellow Malaysian bloggers who wish to disseminate community messages via my blog.

This blogcom service no. 1 is in support of an e-mail I received from Lucia Lai on the matter pertaining to Article 11 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.

Many fellow Malaysian bloggers as well as on-line publications like Malaysiakini and Malaysia-today have written and commented extensively about this subject, which is why I shall not repeat it here. In fact, Lucia is actively pursuing it in her blog and you can get much information there on the current status of the matter.

I am re-producing below the message which I have been asked to spread. You can read the rest of it here.


(Last Update as at 27 July 2006 : Next Update will have materials from JB Forum)

Press Statement : Kenyataan Akhbar

26 July 2006 by Article 11

Press Statement

26 July 2006 by HAKAM

President : Malik Imtiaz

Press Statements

24 & 26 July by Centre for Public Policy Studies

Chairman : Tan Sri Ramon Ravaratnam

26 July 2006 Front Page Star and Page 2 NST

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Star 23rd July 2006

NST 23rd July 2006

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x


Week: 15-21 May 2006

You may wish to contact us at


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Guy in the Glass

The Guy In The Glass

When you get what you want in your struggle for pelf,
And the world makes you King for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that guy has to say.

For it isn't your Father or Mother or Wife,
Who judgement upon you must pass.
The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the guy staring back from the glass.

He's the feller to please, never mind all the rest,
For he's with you clear up to the end,
And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the guy in the glass is your friend.

You may be like Jack Horner and "chisel" a plum,
And think you're a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you're only a bum
If you can't look him straight in the eye.

You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you've cheated the guy in the glass.

Dale Wimbrow


"The Guy In The Glass" poem has been the subject of much confusion and some distortion, and is rarely properly attributed.

This poem was in fact written in 1934 by American writer Peter 'Dale' Wimbrow (1895-1954), and was first published in The American Magazine in May that year.

Wimbrow submitted the poem in response to the magazine's request for its readers to submit answers to an 18 year-old man's question as to , "... why an ambitious young man should be honest ...".

Thereafter the published poem seemingly went 'wild', so to speak, as great literary works sometimes do.

Subsequent distorted versions commonly change the title to "The Man In the Glass", or "The Man In The Mirror", and many versions alter the word "pelf" in the first line to "self" believing the word "pelf" to be a misprint.

Pelf in fact means money or wealth, usually ill-gotten, derived from Old French pelfe and pelfre, meaning reward gained from plunder or contest or achievements, probably related to the same roots as the word pilfer.

If you refer to the Guy In The Glass poem, please use the correct words, and attribute it properly, to Dale Wimbrow, 1934. This is the correct version. It's about honesty of course, and more than this, the poem provides a philosophy for living a life of integrity and value.

More information and history about The Guy In The Glass poem is available at


Saturday, July 22, 2006

UMNO vs Pak Lah?

I am concerned, after reading the letter written by Din Merican to Dr Bakri Musa which was posted on the latter's website here where in the following paragraph towards the end of the letter, he made a disturbing remark:-

" ... I am told from fairly reliable sources that there is apparently considerable pressure for Abdullah to step down before the next UMNO General Assembly in September 2006. May be they will gave him a face-saving way out, in the usual Asian tradition. They will ask him to step down and reward him with a Tunship together with a bundle of cash. That would definitely be cheaper considering the damage he has already inflicted on the economy. Look at the ringgit and the mounting losses in KLSE since he took office from his illustrious predecessor. It is not likely that the Prime Minister would give up power that easily since those close to him would be affected in the same way that Tun Mahathir’s supporters are now experiencing." (the bolded words are mine.)

Please read the full text of the letter on Dr Bakri's website for a clearer picture of the contents therein.

I wonder how bad the true situation is for Pak Lah given that there is now an insinuation that within the ranks of UMNO itself, there is a clear attempt to oust him.

Could this possibly happen?

My concern is this:- If Pak Lah indeed ended up being a one-term Prime Minister, is this good or bad news for Malaysians?

Personally, I am not hopeful that any other person who may currently be in the running for the post of PM in the event that Pak Lah does vacate his position would be a better deal for Malaysia.

Pak Lah, for all his weaknesses, had outlined the best agenda so far for all of us. The only thing lacking is his ability to implement them with the stamp of authority needed to push things through in this country.

I may not be a fan of Dr M but one thing I do admire about the old man is his determination to see through his plans, come what may. That man can move mountains if he so put his mind to it, never mind the fact that his modus operandi can sometimes be downright appalling. But you definitely won't see Dr M hee-hawing over any issue that crops up and casting a less than desirable impact on the image of the country and the government under his rule.

The reason why I think Din Merican's observation is pertinent revealed itself when Pak Lah finally came out in the open to deny Khairy's influence on his decision-making process.

You can read the press reports covered by all the English mainstream papers here.

And lo and behold, the very next day, UMNO information chief, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib made a public statement that UMNO will back Pak Lah.

In the context of the above two public declarations, something tells me that Din Merican's statement is not to be taken lightly.

Yes, Dr M is back. And he has indicated in no uncertain terms that the game is still on.

Seeing that Pak Lah is keeping mum on the furore surrounding the UPM fracas and another display of open defiance by The Youth & Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said to go ahead with the proposed sports centre project in London despite public objections, he indeed has much on his plate to ponder on top of all the other troubling stuff that is steadily piling up.

Certainly, I'm not looking forward to what's coming next.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A hiatus

For some reason, I have not been in the mood to update my blog.

I don't know how long this feeling will last. In a way it is funny. I started my first post in the beginning of September 2005 and I have less than 2 months to my first anniversary!

Am I surprised? Yes and no.

I hope I will find something interesting to tell you when I come back. Thanks for the kind words, my friends! Believe me, you put a smile on my face when you drop by.

See you later!


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

An apple a day

STARVE a fever, FEED a cold ...

What if you have both a fever AND a cold?


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Is Pak Lah sprinting towards his last lap?

I was doing quite a bit of reading in fellow bloggers' websites and just now when I was at my cyber-friend HJ Angus' blog, I made a comment which I would like to share with my readers here.

Lately, we have seen many incidents which would not have escaped the attention of our Prime Minster, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi or more affectionately known as Pak Lah.

From various troubles with the police force, the mismanagement by state agencies to the embarrassing public dressing-down given by the former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, we can pretty much guessed that Pak Lah has reason to be more than a little worried that his credibility as well as reputation has taken a huge beating.

Well, you can't possibly expect to achieve a momentous election victory of almost 92% voters' confidence without the ensuing burden of living up to their expectations of you making good all your election promises and bravado sloganeerings, can you?

And how much more time does he have to prove himself the worthy crown holder?

By the looks of it, if the good old doctor does not succeed in striking him down with further attacks and deadly tactical moves soon, in all probability the trusted civil service as well as the wakil rakyat will provide the finishing touch.

A quick and cursory look at what has been going on within the civil service departments and all the combined efforts of the little and big Napoleans and you will get the picture.

We can hand it in to these guys to do him in when all else fails.

After all, they have ample experience in stirring up anger and disgust among the rakyat (read: voters) by their sheer stupidity, or is it all a calculated move in brilliant disguise?

Such a pity.

After the first 12 months of honeymoon, followed by the next 12 months of feeling around and finally some signs of actually waking up to the huge responsibilities of the job in hand, will he be able to muster enough strength to sprint the last lap towards the finishing line?

Or will he find, to his utter regret, that during his slumber, he did not see the many obstacles thrown into his path by all those Napoleans determined to trip him up and see him fall flat on his face?

He'd probably be left wondering how he could have missed seeing all those potholes and oilslicks dotted in front of him.

Such a shame indeed. He was such a hero back in 2004. Now, even if he isn't yet a Zero, he is coming quite close to it.

How did he let it all turn so sour so quick?


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Brave Nades continues to flog the dead horse (or is it possum?)

A few days ago, I asked the question:- Will they pay attention to a Sultan?

Yesterday, R. Nadeswaran in his Citizen Nades column with The SUN made the following remarks:-

"Did we send a group of people who are incompetent to represent the interests of the people or did we send those who are experts at political apple polishing and defending their political masters, however wrong they are?

They seem to have forgotten that the key issue is the people's money, which is being dished out like Christmas presents by Santa Claus. The PAC has been entrusted with safeguarding public expenditure, and here we have a group that does not seem to care where and how the money is disbursed."

It's been a 365 days long season of merriment for these merrymen and no one wants the party to stop, if they can help it. I wondered whether even a Sultan can break it up since everyone is now keen to adopt the "elegant silence" method of dealing with controversies.

But Mr Nades is not letting up, instead he is trying to strike the iron while it's still hot. Yeah - three cheers to Citizen Nades!

In his No Punches Pulled column in The SUN today, he said:-

"... The Star said Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah has ordered newly-appointed Petaling Jaya Mayor Datuk Ahmad Termizi Puteh to explain why the city council is dragging its feet in stopping the excessive number of illegal billboards.

The Sultan, the newspaper said, also wants to find out more about the mounting complaints from the public and press reports about the proliferation of billboards in the city.

But will the mayor or the councillors of the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) be bothered about the Sultan's remarks?

Not likely, because they are little emperors who believe they are untouchable. Otherwise, would they have acted in contempt of law and procedures over the years?

No, they care two-hoots about comments and criticism. If they were really concerned, they would have replied and rebutted each and every word that had been written in this column.

No, it is their God-given right to play deaf, dumb and blind and they played the role of little Napoleans to the hilt.

Even the Prime Minister's gentle advice - facilitate, don't frustrate - does not exist in their minds. ..."

Do you agree that Mr Nades deserves more than THREE CHEERS for speaking up tirelessly on behalf of the rakyat, again and again?

I salute this man for not throwing in his towel despite the huge odds stacked against him in demanding transparency and accountability from our public servants. Yes, ... servants, not lords, emperors, napoleans, tai-kors, big boss or bullies.

It matters not one bit what sort of slogan Pak Lah churns out every now and then.

Like Mr Nades said in his closing paragraph of today's article:-

"So, when will all government departments and agencies answer the clarion call by the PM for openness?

So, how and where the money goes is only known to those who receive and spend it.

That speaks volumes for the country's first fully developed state and the country's latest city."

Well said.

Let us all now wait for an "elegant response" from the jokers.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Would it be different if he had his way?

Let's see.

If the Customs Department had indeed "closed one eye" to the request of Jasin MP Datuk Mohd Said Yusof on the timber matter, would he have kept his peace?

If the Customs Department did reserve and sold to him cheaply, a confiscated Mercedes Benz that he said he wanted, would he have snitched on them?

At least, he's not afraid to own up to wanting a share of the gravy.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

About Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp is one of my all time favourite actors, which is why I am looking forward to the upcoming release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

In a rare clean-cut appearance as J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland (2004)

As the wacky Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

I enjoyed so many of his movies, and the one I liked the most is his role in the 1993 beautiful drama, What's Eating Gilbert Grape. He made a great impression on me, not least because he looked so young and handsome in it. That movie also introduced me to Leonardo diCaprio as an unknown teenager but even back then, Leo proved himself to be a darn good actor.

When Chocolat came out in 2000, he played the part of a gypsy named Roux opposite Juliette Binoche. That movie was also a favourite and in some way, it's like a first (understated) glimpse of what we were to see of Depp as a crazy pirate in the 2003 blockbuster.

His personal life could be the subject of a movie itself but I guess it is a testimony of his strength of character that he had managed to lived through those troubling years and establish himself as a credible and respected actor along with settling down to a domesticated life with partner Vanessa Paradis and daughter Lily-Rose (7) and son John Christopher (4).

It is amazing how a wild boy like Depp could turn out so well in the end. I hope to see more of his films in the years to come. And hopefully too, he will continue to enjoy much success in both his personal and professional life.

If he's a fruit, I'd say he is LUSCIOUS ...


We reap what we sow - the case of the unemployable local graduates

From The SUN today:-

70% of grads from public institutions jobless
B.Suresh Ram

KUALA LUMPUR: Some 70% of public universities and institutes of higher learning graduates in the country are unemployed.

This is in contrast with 26% for private institutions of higher learning and 34% for foreign graduates.

Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Bakar revealed the figures today (July 3, 2006) in reply to a question from Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timor).

He said the ministry had taken several steps, including the establishment of the graduates' retraining training scheme as well as providing feedback to the Higher Education and the Education Ministries, to ensure courses are in line with those required by the job market.

To the original question by Tan Sri Dr Ting Chew Peh (BN-Gopeng), Abdul Rahman said 20,217 graduates registered with the ministry's Job Clearing System were still unemployed as at June 12.

The breakdown showed:-
  • UiTM 3,278 (16.2%) - highest number of employed graduates
  • UUM 1,532 (7.6%)
  • private institutions of higher learning 1,217 (6%)
  • UTM 1,147(5.7%)
  • UKM 971 (4.8%)
  • UPM 919 (4.5%)
  • other public institutions of higher learning 840 (4.2%)
  • UM 531 (2.6%)
  • USM 505 (2.5%)
  • UMS 371 (1.8%)
  • UIA 358 (1.8%)
  • foreign graduates 342 (1.7%)
  • Unimas 174 (0.9%)
  • UPSI 39 (0.2%)
  • Others 7,993 (39.5%)
Abdul Rahman said the breakdown according to job sector showed ICT with the highest number of unemployed graduates with 3,942 (19.5%) yet to find jobs.

This is followed by:-
  • Business Administration with 2,714 (13.4%)
  • Accountancy 1,923 (9.5%)
  • Electric/Electronic and Telecommunication engineers 1,229 (6.1%)
  • Human Resources Management 1,022 (5.1%)
  • Civil Engineers 983 (4.9%)
  • Mechanical/Mechatronic Engineers 884 (4.4%)
  • Literature Social Science 843 (4.2%)
  • Pure Science 770 (3.8%)
  • Financial/banking/insurance/investment/property 613 (3%)
  • Office technology Management/Information management/Library Management 552 (2.7%)
  • Architecture/Building/Quantity Surveying/ land surveying 540 (2.7%)
  • Applied Science 533 (2.6%)
  • Economy 440 (2.2%)
  • Agriculture/Forestry, Fisheries/Environment 401 (2%)
  • Others 2,828 (13.9%).
Abdul Rahman said apart from the job clearing system, other measures had also been taken by the government to reduce the number of unemployed graduates in the country.


Survey the views of private sector employers, is this such a surprise?

The answer you will most certainly get is, NO!


We REAP what we SOW.

The failure of our public education system is symptomatic of what is also happening to our civil service. It will take a herculean effort and massive mindset change to reverse the decline that has steadily eroded the respectability of both institutions in the eyes of the public.

No, it is not about merely throwing more money at this problem. That is just an excuse to distract the mind from the real issues and at the same time, make a quick buck out of the sorry situation.

It is about being HONEST with ourselves about why we have ended up with such a mess.

It is about doing the right thing for the survival of the very thing you have been championing all along.

You have done just the opposite. It has been a slow, agonising, strangling and choking way to love your people to death.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Will they pay attention to a Sultan?

Citizen Nades has shouted himself hoarse over the billboards issue in Petaling Jaya, amongst others equally exasperating stuff like the still unresolved funeral parlour case.

The local city council pretended to be deaf. The Mentri Besar of Selangor Maju pretended to be deaf and blind. Even a direct appeal to the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) did not yield any desired results. Can you blame the poor man for almost wanting to throw in his towel?

So now, we have the Sultan himself stepping in to demand some answers to all the questions raised by the residents. For starters, we have this from The Star frontpage news today:-

City of billboards: SULTAN steps in

SHAH ALAM: The Sultan of Selangor is upset that Petaling Jaya, which attained city status less than three weeks ago, has claimed the title of “Billboard City.”

Squeezed into its 97 sq km are some 800 billboards, of which only 282 have been issued permits.

And Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah has ordered newly-appointed Petaling Jaya Mayor Datuk Ahmad Termizi Puteh to explain why the city council is dragging its feet in stopping the excessive number of illegal billboards.

The Sultan also wants to find out more about the mounting complaints from the public and press reports about the proliferation of billboards in the city.

His personal aide Kelvin Ong said the Sultan was surprised by the huge number of billboards in the city.

“The Tuanku wants to know whether these reports are true and why there is such a huge number of illegal billboards. He wants to know what the council is doing about criticism that Petaling Jaya has become a city of billboards.

“He also wants to emphasise the importance of accountability, transparency, good governance and credibility of the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) to the Datuk Bandar as the city is barely a month old,” he told The Star in a telephone interview from London.

The Sultan, who is in London, is expected to call up Ahmad Termizi and other officials when he returns home.

Ong said the Sultan had been closely monitoring press reports on the issue and was concerned.

The billboard issue, which included a privatisation proposal to a consortium for 15 years to cover billboard advertising, had sparked protests from city residents.

However, last week Ahmad Termizi said that the council had scrapped the proposal in May and that no agreement had been signed. He admitted that the council had received the proposal but had not gone to the stage of approving it.

When told that his statement was contradictory to what was contained in the minutes of a previous meeting on the issue, he said the agreement stated was only in principle and that the council had not gone through the proposal at that time.

The plan has been opposed by the All PJ Pro Action Committee, which claimed that the privatisation of billboards was unacceptable and could be illegal as there was no provision for it under the Local Government Act 1976.

The proposal was also opposed by the Real Estate Federation Malaysia, Real Estate and Housing Developers Association of Malaysia, Selangor branch, and the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia.

The groups had questioned the condition imposed by the consortium to prohibit property owners from putting up advertisements on their own properties, which would affect many colleges and shopping complexes.

Another hot issue was the allegation that MBPJ had imposed a minimum donation of RM10,000 to the MBPJ Football Club before contractors could apply for advertisement billboard approvals from the council.

It has been reported that the Registrar of Societies has no record of such a football club, while residents who checked the council's summarised accounts from 2000 to 2004 could not find evidence of the club's monies or revenue from billboard advertising.

The MBPJ has reportedly said that the MBPJ Football Club accounts were not for public scrutiny as the club was a separate entity and there was no need for residents to check.


We may never see the likes of Citizen M being bothered about PJ residents or local council issues.

But it is certainly heartening to read that His Majesty the Sultan of Selangor being concerned enough to take up the matter which no one else in authority wants to tackle.

Remember the fiasco when the Selangor MB said "Semuanya OK" in reference to the massive rape of the greenery surrounding the Bukit Cahaya Seri Alam Agricultural Park?

Do you know what is going on there now?


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