Misdirection of Dress Codes


(If you ask me, this is a better video to watch for the first time visitors to Malaysia and Asha Gill is lovely as usual)

I was flying in to Malaysia just the other day and yes, I was flying on MAS. It was kind of painful to see the good, hardworking people in MAS facing some uncertainty as MAS undergoes a major restructuring. But that did not stopped the stewardess on my flight from ensuring that service was and always first class.

As we were starting to descend, the onboard entertainment system was switched off and a short video on KLIA and Malaysia were shown for the benefit of the first time visitors to the country. It was not the usual video (starring Asha Gill which is many times better) but a different one. It often happens, just as I watch a video of the good things of the country – the good places to visit, the people from different background of culture, race and religion and of course, the food – I would have tears on my eyes. This time, it was no exception either. I simply love my “tanahair” no matter how long I am out of the country.

As I watched the video, something was not right. The scene is duty free shops in KLIA and the narrator mentions “items found in no other part of the world”. The next scene once this statement completes is a picture of Star Buck. Items found in no other part of the world, eh? It must have crossed the family from Australia who was sitting in front of me. They were smiling when they saw this.

Anyway, the landing was perfect and throughout the immigration & customs, it was breeze too. When I got home, the family had gone out so I took a quick shower and after an easy meal, I went to sleep only to be rudely awaken a couple of hours later by my daughter. Yup, I was back home already.

Interesting, “home” is undergoing some form of transformation as well. And I am not talking about the latest scandal to hit Najib administration – the one that was committed outside the country and one that got the Australian police in action. Nothing at moved on the biggest scandal of the century in this country, so this news was a welcome change indeed (already the IGP was quick to clear those involved from any form of CBT).

No, I am talking about the silly, petty hoo-haa on the recent misdirection of enforcing the dress codes

And it probably started with this:-

A double gold medal winning gymnast has been accused of breaking strict Islamic dress code by performing in a ‘revealing’ leotard at a top international event.

Malaysian double gold medallist Farah Ann Abdul Hadi has been slammed by some in the majority Muslim nation for her outfit.

Thousands have taken to social media to express their support for Ms Abdul Hadi after the controversy emerged while she competed at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

(Source)

Things somehow quiet down after the Sultan of Selangor himself slammed the critics of her attire and praised Farah for her win:-

Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah fully backs national artistic gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi and has expressed disapproval at those who picked on her attire during the 28th SEA Games in Singapore.

In his congratulatory letter to Farah, Sultan Sharafuddin said her achievement had made the whole country, including Selangor, proud.

The Sultan, as quoted by local daily The Star said in his letter, “Criticising your attire should be the last matter in the minds of those who commented negatively on social media.

He added, “They should be celebrating your achievements for Malaysia and Selangor.”

In his letter, the Selangor ruler said that he hoped Farah would not take the comments of narrow-minded people to heart and continue to strive to be the best in her field.

(Source)

Then more of dress code mishaps started to trickle in , starting with the famed Sarong-gate at JPJ office:-

A woman had a shock at a Road Transport Department (JPJ) office when she was forced to wear a sarong or be refused service.

(Source)

Interestingly soon after the incident went viral on the net, they were quick to admit that there was no such rule and they went too far with this and issued an apology. At least they admitted it was the wrong thing to do.

Then we had the visitor barred from seeing her father who was admitted in the hospital at a local hospital and in the end, she was forced to wear a towel to see him:-

In a third incident at public institutions here, a woman has come forward alleging that she was forbidden from entering the Sungai Buloh Hospital here recently because she was dressed in shorts.

In her Facebook post accessible to the public that is being shared on social media, the woman who goes by the moniker Nisha Daddygal said she was then forced to borrow a towel to cover up her legs before she was allowed to visit her father who had been warded there.

(Source)

Just imagine if this was an emergency and in the wee hours of the morning. And once again, there was a public apology and the hospital administrators informed that it was just a misunderstanding on the guidelines and a newly joined security guard to be blamed.

Then we had the ultimate dress code incident – of all places, at an international airport:-

Blogger Wilson Ng wrote about his experience at KLIA’s Baggage Services Lost and Found area, where he was forced to don long black pants and shoes because the knee-length pink shorts and sandals he was wearing was deemed inappropriate.

Ng who had gone to pick up his luggage which he had accidentally left at the baggage carousel following a trip to Taipei was denied entry by a security officer at the enquiry counter who told him to go home and change because there is a dress code to enter the KLIA building and the lost and found baggage office.

(Source)

Public apology was then duly rendered and MAHB stated that it has investigated the matter and found it to be due to miscommunication on the implementation of a policy pertaining to the issuance of visitor passes at the airport.

Wrong dress code incidents since I was back is unlikely to be small mistake, oversight or “opps, they misunderstood the instructions”. We never had these problems in the past – so why now and why so frequent in recent weeks?

Then one guy opened his mouth:-

Non-Muslims should dress more “appropriately” in public places out of “respect” for Muslims who will sin upon seeing people, including non-Muslims, who do not cover their “aurat”, Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria said amid the controversy surrounding conservative dress codes enforced at government departments.

“Even when we wear properly but we see other people who show their ‘aurat’, it is haram,” Harussani told Malay Mail Online yesterday.

“They should show respect for Muslims and dress more appropriately; they cannot be showing their thighs. It is not wrong for them to dress how they like, but they must be considerate because when we bump into them at public places and see this, it is considered haram for us (Muslims),” the conservative cleric added.

(Source)

Perhaps that explains why Marina Mahathir is having a tough time shopping for a good Baju Melayu for the upcoming hari raya – she calls it the Arab Colonialism. But then again, I too stopped wearing jippa some years ago already – it is more on the change of fashion, environment and preference, I guess.

But then, it seems like things were getting out of hand and it was not big surprise when ex-civil servants and lawyers commented back as follows:-

Former high-ranking civil servants and lawyers have blamed the recent spate of strict enforcement of dress codes at government buildings on the intolerant attitude of certain “holier-than-thou” Muslims imposing their Islamic values on Malaysians of other faiths.

It was also a case of little Napoleons trying to be “more pious than the Pope”, they said. They added that it was time Putrajaya put a stop to this moral policing, saying the leadership must take a firm stand against those who abused the rights of the people seeking services at government departments. They also said Cuepacs, the umbrella group of civil service unions, had no business endorsing such actions.

(Source)

Even the Old Man noticed the stupidity in enforcing the silly dress code and commented:-

Malaysia is now sliding backwards and is acting like Saudi Arabia in its zeal to impose a dress code on the public, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed said today.

He said it was a person’s right to wear shorts in public, and, “as long as they aren’t naked”, they should be allowed to enter a government building or hospital. “In government offices, certainly there is a dress code. But that is an office matter.

“Public matters are different. We shouldn’t be telling others what to do, they aren’t Muslim,” he told a press conference after a buka puasa event with Perkasa in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur.

He said dress codes in government buildings should only apply to its staff, and not visitors, especially those who are not Muslim.‎ “We are now sliding backwards. Soon, not only shorts will be an issue. If a woman leaves a house without a burqa, it will be considered wrong.

(Source)

If you ask me, as far as I could remember, Malaysians have generally dressed well and they know their limits when they are in the public areas (although there are some exception to this but they are in the smallish minority).

And one wearing shorts or skirts that is knee level is nothing compared to some Mat Salleh backpackers who come to this country wearing nothing but T-shirts that looks like rags from our mamak stalls and very short, shorts. Some even looks unwashed for weeks. And yet we welcome them with open arms and a very big smile. It is not like they have committed high treason wearing short pants. It is just how they dress themselves as they backpack to this part of the world and there is nothing wrong with it.

angkorwat dress code

(No doubt there must be some sense of protocols and dress code in place when one visits Government departments for official business, temples and even one’s home even in other countries. One cannot be wearing their sleeping dress or be half naked when they are there on official businesses or when they are on holy grounds. Image source: http://www.happinessplunge.com)

In the 1980s when me and group of friends from my neighborhood decided to attend the Open House at Istana Negara, our parents made sure that we are dressed well and wore proper shoes (we wore our finest on that day). And I also remember whilst we were waiting in the long queue to see the King, a policeman stopped a man in front and informed that he could not meet the King as he was wearing a sandal seemed extreme but even back then, we understood that there was minimal adherence to protocols.

And couple years ago when we are at resort’s swimming pool, the life guard on duty barred couple of guests from entering the swimming pool because they did not have their swimming attires on (they only had t-shirts and short pants). There is places when one cannot simply walk in wearing just any clothes.

But whilst one can understand the minimal need for protocols, it does not make any sense to impose the same for a visitor who is visiting a patient or a passenger looking for a lost luggage. And even if one goes by the arguments of the Perak Mufti that the non-Muslims must show respect to the Muslims by dressing properly, one must remember that:-

1. Respect is a mutual thing – it cannot be forced upon by rules and regulations. And respect should not be limited to just wearing the right clothes. There are many other aspect of respect that can be done without the need to force another to wear a different clothes

2. Wearing shorts or skirts that shows the knee is nothing new in this multi racial country. Even our police used to be in khaki shorts many years ago (still remember?). And I even saw a number of Muslims wearing short pants when they were at a local hypermarket after they had opened fast couple days ago. Even at night, it was terribly warm. Why now it had become a big issue? Why a show of knees can shake up one’s faith on God? If someone gets all too excited by seeing the knees, then something is not right with that person.

3. And we are not expected to “cover up” from head to toe in this hot, humid environment. There must be a reason why people in the Middle East historically cover themselves up in the first place (and it had nothing to do with religion) but please don’t expect us to be idiots and cover up under the Malaysian weather and end up with foul stinky sweat and smell at the end of the day.

4. And more importantly, there are more pressing issues facing the individuals, society and the country than what one wears to a Government office. Someone who just wears sandals, shorts and t-shirts but hard-working, earns his money from legal means and is good to his family, friends and neighbors is thousand time better than someone who may wear that seems to be conforming to one’s faith but living off from dubious means of income, spread lies, hatred and confusion.

Petrol price just went up and recent survey shows that all not well with the implementation of GST and the Government is stuck with scandals – one after another and the implications on the country’s economy is dreadful especially after what we saw happened with Greece. Are we becoming the next Greece in this part of the world – the question may not be if but when? And yet, some people hardly moved by the fact that MARA overpaid RM66 million more for some property in Australia and sees no wrong done on this. No one had even offered to tender their resignation on this.

And if these silly trends are left unchecked, don’t be surprised if one day, these same people who is very very much afraid of short pants and low skirts places a menacing guard at the entrance to check the color of your underwear and if it is not to their color of liking (or brand), you are forced to go back and change them before you are allowed in to do your official business.

Vision 2020: Within our Sight?


1mdb_after

(The Old Man’s war path with the current Prime Minister, Najib may wins the support from a good number of Malaysians who simply tired with the “wayang kulit” in the issue of 1MDB but then again, didn’t the Old Man had his hands in allowing the seeds of mismanagement, wastage and misdirection of priorities to take hold when he was the PM for 22 years? Food for thought. Image source: Jebat Must Die)

I have mentioned this in several of my blog posts that it is going impossible for us to achieve the developed nation status by year 2020 but when it comes from the horse’s mouth, it does sound pretty obvious, doesn’t it?

Malaysia will not be able to achieve Vision 2020 and become a developed country within the next five years because it lacked leadership and had misplaced priorities, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said

He added that even if the country earned high-income status, it would not be developed if cost of living remained high as Malaysians would have low purchasing power.

He said the government should instead focus on improving education, increasing productivity and salaries, while keeping costs low.

“The leader plays a very big role too. If the leader doesn’t understand and cannot resolve the problems the country faces, then it is doubtful progress can be made. A leader is a leader because he has more ideas than his followers,” said Dr Mahathir.

He said a good leader would strive to maintain peace and stability, and would not hesitate to restrict the freedom of the people to achieve this.

(Source)

Before we go further, let’s run through some definitions – what really constitutes a developed nation?

Off the internet, it means this:-

While there is no one, set definition of a developed economy it typically refers to a country with a relatively high level of economic growth and security. Some of the most common criteria for evaluating a country’s degree of development are per capita income or gross domestic product (GDP), level of industrialization, general standard of living and the amount of widespread infrastructure. Increasingly other non-economic factors are included in evaluating an economy or country’s degree of development, such as the Human Development Index (HDI) which reflects relative degrees of education, literacy and health.

(Source)

So, if one goes by the definition by the book, what Najib is doing is not far off from the “known criteria” of a developed country. But is this what was defined when the Old Man came up with his Vision 2020 back in 1991? Does achieving a developed nation is just a matter of terminology and status?

When it was initialized, where credit where it is due – it was a brilliant vision. The Old Man’s Vision 2020 encompasses 9 strategic challenges that Malaysia must overcome to achieve a developed nation status. The question is after almost 25 years in the making, how far we have come in overcoming those challenges with just another 5 more years to go?

1. The challenges of establishing a united Malaysian nation with a sense of common and shared destiny. This must be a nation at peace with itself, territorially and ethnically integrated, living in harmony and full and fair partnership, made up of one ‘Bangsa Malaysia‘ with political loyalty and dedication to the nation.

Have we matured enough to call ourselves Bangsa Malaysia? 1Malaysia slogan by Najib when he became the PM was highly tempting. But the fact is we are still segregated by race, culture, religion and even political affiliation. We still have Malaysians calling fellow Malaysians as “pendatang” (including the Old Man himself at one point) and whether you agree to it or not, I guess it all depends on your audience. Forget what the politicians may say or do, let’s go to the lower strung of society and see if this transformation into a Bangsa Malaysia.

How many of us can speak in the same language, namely the national language and speak it right and without any mistakes or slang? How many of us think ourselves as Bangsa Malaysia and not as a Malay, Chinese, Indian or others? And if race is not an issue, then what about difference in religion? Mentally we have not come to a point that we are thinking like a Bangsa Malaysia. We can’t speak well in the national language, what more going a level up at the nation level.

This will be a challenge that can be overcome by a concerted change in race based policies, fair treatment and abolishment of race based political parties.

2. The challenge of creating a psychologically liberated, secure, and developed Malaysian Society with faith and confidence in itself, justifiably proud of what it is, of what it has accomplished, robust enough to face all manner of adversity. This Malaysian Society must be distinguished by the pursuit of excellence, fully aware of all its potentials, psychologically subservient to none, and respected by the peoples of other nations.

Frankly speaking, we have made great strides in this area. We decided to bold enough to reduce the ruling Government’s majority in the Parliament and were brave enough to let 3 states to be run by the oppositions (each for PAS, PKR and DAP) and they have proved that it is not the end of the world once they have taken over the state administration. Whilst initially there was plenty of silly mistakes and bad decisions, the end result has been a state government that has been performing on par (if not better) with the rest of the states run by the ruling coalition.

And we have credit this change mainly to the power of the internet – especially blogs, facebook and tweets. And once where there was only the mainstream media for the people to get the information, now the information is at their finger tips and it is uncensored and allows for one to see views from both side of the spectrum.

Of course the opposition uniting within the common framework (despite the on-going feud between PAS & DAP) and the Government shooting themselves in the leg helped to accelerate the change.

3. The challenge we have always faced is that of fostering and developing a mature democratic society, practising a form of mature consensual, community-oriented Malaysian democracy that can be a model for many developing countries.

A model for many developing countries? We are still far away from the notion of a matured democratic society which became more apparent after the opposition won in a larger number and held on 4 states after the general election. Then the Perak fiasco happened and all hell broke loose. What happened thereafter was an utter shame to the whole democratic process.

Democratic society also means upholding the notion of human rights and freedom of speech. Whilst one would agree that there is no such thing as an absolute freedom of speech, a differentiating opinion on the way the Government runs the country should not treated in the same manner as sedition for say, wanting to remove a cross from a church which if it is not controlled could have gotten much worse.

4. The fourth is the challenge of establishing a fully moral and ethical society, whose citizens are strong in religious and spiritual values and imbued with the highest of ethical standards.

We may become more religious in recent years but has it been imbued with the highest ethical standards? We see a cross on a building and we become a rude mob who insist that the cross on the building will influence others and cause them to change religion. We have become extremists and now insist that the legal system now need to be split into 2 with 2 different set of rules imposed on the people who don’t share the same beliefs. Now we even having terrorists cells in the country wanting to impose Islamic rules by force.

5. The challenge that we have always faced is the challenge of establishing a matured, liberal and tolerant society in which Malaysians of all colours and creeds are free to practise and profess their customs, cultures and religious beliefs and yet feeling that they belong to one nation.

As I have mentioned before, religion should be something personal and not something to be imposed onto others by force. After all, religion and way of life under it can be highly subjective and this can be opened for abuse by those who have ulterior motive, less intelligent on the actual teaching of the religion and think that their views overrides anyone’s else views. One such statement is this where one can say that “non-Muslims that the Federal Constitution allows Muslims to convert anybody, whereas non-Muslims may only spread their teachings among themselves and not to Muslims”. This is the kind of thinking that leads to sleepless nights to people like Indira Gandhi. Such instances remains unresolved.

6. The challenge of establishing a scientific and progressive society, a society that is innovative and forward-looking, one that is not only a consumer of technology but also a contributor to the scientific and technological civilisation of the future.

The key word here has been “scientific” but we have been flip-flopping on what medium we suppose to teach Science and Mathematics for past few years and it is not helping the country one bit to be pushing the students to be struggling to learn the subjects in Bahasa when the lingual-franca of Science and Mathematics has always been English. And it is sad that after all the effort, time and money spent of grooming local scientists, we are getting surprises like this.

Where is the next generation of scientists, researchers, astronomers and space travelers? Despite this, there is still some of sense of hope and people who care on this. We have the right ingredients but we lack the required spark and interest.

One have to remember that no country in the world that had focused more on religion and gave overwhelming precedent to it compared to science and technology have ever reached the status of a developed nation. Correct me if I am wrong here.

7. The challenge is the challenge of establishing a fully caring society and a caring culture, a social system in which society will come before self, in which the welfare of the people will revolve not around the state or the individual but around a strong and resilient family system.

Malaysians generally as far as I can remember have been a very caring, compassionate and very kind people. We are very forgiving as well. Otherwise the dead woods, the dumb of the dumb and the corrupt & wasteful characters in the Government would have long taken out from the system. They instead get recycled into the same or similar positions where the nonsense remains untouched.

So what is needed here is NOT a welfare state or a state that bends too much in making subsidies and welfare based on race but instead it should be on level of poverty & income. After all, there is poverty in all level of a Malaysian society irregardless of race, culture and religion.

8. The challenge of ensuring an economically just society. This is a society in which there is a fair and equitable distribution of the wealth of the nation, in which there is full partnership in economic progress. Such a society cannot be in place so long as there is the identification of race with economic function, and the identification of economic backwardness with race.

Such a society cannot be in place so long as there is the identification of race with economic function, and the identification of economic backwardness with race. That means dismantling the race based economic policies as such the New Economic Policy which officially ended in 1990 but had lived on under different names.

9. The challenge is the challenge of establishing a prosperous society, with an economy that is fully competitive, dynamic, robust and resilient.

(Source)

Old Man may be saying a lot of things here but to cut to the chase, we will not achieve a developed country mainly because we have not created an environment that promotes open thinking, right to question what is not right and have taken several giant steps backwards of Science and Mathematics. And emphasizing on religion as the back bone of the nation direction does not help is steering the nation towards Vision 2020 either. We even had that silly cross protest as recent as this year. And there are other serious implications from the over-subscribing of Islamisation in this country.

If we indeed want to measure ourselves and the nation from a religion point of view (in that how religious we are), then we need to define out loud what it means to be “developed”.

But I agree that economy alone does not constitutes a country as being a developed country. There must also be substantial personal development on all grounds. There should be a greater enforcement of the law of the land without any biasness or favor. It should also be about promoting fairness and togetherness where Malaysians are treated in equal terms and strive towards a single goal.

We are only fooling ourselves if we think that we will be a developed nation in the next 5 years. But that does not mean we can never be a developed nation. After all, we have all the right ingredients – a good mix of people from various backgrounds (race, religion and culture), natural resources, sufficient land mass and situated in the right place where commerce moves from west to east and almost little natural disasters other than probably flooding (and now earthquakes) and yet, we are missing the key drive to manage it in the right way.

Part of the blame should fall on the Government as they makes and enforce the policies and manage the public spending that have a big impact on the nation. But part of the blame should fall on us too – too long we have been under the umbrella of “first class infrastructure, 3rd class mentality”. No longer should be the case. We need to be the driving force for change and making sure that we think, do and act like citizens of a developed nation. We have to think beyond the limited boundaries of race, religion and culture.

Do You Listen To Your Car?


Screw on tire2

(The thing that you do not want to see sticking out from your tires)

Before I start, I was not meaning “listen” in this sense

Couple weeks ago, we suppose to make a trip to Kuantan to visit an elderly aunty who was not feeling well. And to ensure we don’t inconvenient the relatives (who I know don’t have much space in their house), I even booked hotel rooms for the family. It was long holidays too, so I decided to set the time to depart from the house during the non-peak hours so that we will reach Kuantan without getting caught in the massive traffic that was expected. But at the last minute, I could not go due to an “emergency” at work place and we had to get a replacement for me (since I was the designated driver for the trip). We looked around but everyone already had plans for the long holidays.

In the end, my sister volunteered (or rather was strongly persuaded to take over). At first she said wanted to use her car instead of mine for the journey which made sense but after a second thought, she decided to use my car instead. After all it was more spacious and more comfortable for that long journey to Kuantan. The main reason why she decided to use my car was because she said she had to pump air into her back right tire on weekly basis and she suspected something not right with the tire. But she has yet to bring the car to the mechanic for a proper check-up. So, not wanting to take any risk of the whole family stranded by the road side on their way to Kuantan or worse, losing control of the car near Genting, it was better to take my car instead – after all, it had 4 brand new tires and the car just completed its periodic service and I had high confidence on the reliability of the car.

With my car not available, I decided to use my sister’s car for work instead and almost immediately I noticed a loud sound from the back tires. I had to pull over and check. And when I pump air into the tires, the right back tire was indeed had much less air than the rest of the tires (for normal wear and tear, the air should be reducing almost the same pace on all tires. If one reduces more than the rest, it’s time to bring the tire for check-up). I know there was a leak somewhere but I could not pin point the source. Much later, when my sister took the car for service, there was indeed a leak from an old puncture. Good thing we made the correct decision by not using her car for the long trip.

Then last night as I was driving past the toll booth, there was a faint “thud, thud, thud” sound. I rolled down the window and as I drive past the road barriers (where the sound would bounce back and it will clearer to hear), there was no mistake of the “thud, thud, thud” sound. The last time I heard that sound was when there a screw firmly lodged on the tire.

Now I am hearing the same sound again. I just shook my head in despair and slowly moved to the left lane. No point being a “hero” on the highway with one flat tire. I kept driving slower until I cleared the highway and entered a commercial area. I parked my car and took a quick look at the tires. I did not notice any screws or nails but then again, checking by the road side with poor light conditions did not help either. The sound was still there. So to minimize the option of having a flat tire before I reach home (where I can jack up the car and have a better look), I drove to the nearest petrol station and pumped air on all tires. One thing I noticed was that there was no drastic reduction of air. That was strange because if there was a screw or nail, there would have a considerable lost of air to one of the tires compared to the other tires. Something was not right. In fact the tire that I thought had a puncture had almost nil lost of air.

Not taking any chances, I continued driving slow, taking the back lanes where there was a less traffic and where it is easier to stop by the road side. It took longer time than usual but I somehow made it home in one piece. First thing to do after I had parked the car in the porch was to take the torchlight and make a more thorough inspection of the tires. Then I found the culprit – a small stone wedged in the middle of the tire and that made sense. I had the same problem when I changed the tires to Michelin couple years ago as well. It has a wider grooves than other make – it makes an excellent tires on wet roads but it easily picks up small stones. Some how I don’t have the same problem with Continental or Goodyear tires. This is the last time I am going to use the Michelin tires. And to be sure, I drove around the residential area after removing the stone and there was no longer the “thud, thud, thud” sound.

And over the years, there have been many types of sounds emitting from the car and I have made mental note of what sound means what problem.

Once there was an intermittent sound of something knocking against the interior of the car. I stopped the car and double checked and noticed that the passenger side seat belt was twisted and the metal part of the belt was hitting against the side of the car whenever I am changing lanes. Low tire pressure usually give a growling sound and although it is not a bad thing but it still dangerous to drive around (especially when cornering) and obviously it is fuel inefficient. And there is the usual “trrrrrr” sound which comes from the USB stick – the cover of the USB stick vibrates and makes that “trrrrrr” sound. And in my previous car, there is a sound of plastic being flipped around and that comes from the plastic covering inside the doors and the sound comes from the sound vibration of the speakers. Another is the whining sound when closing the doors – this indicates lack of lubrication on the door. And if one drives the older Proton models, the squeaky noise is part and parcel of driving a national car. The newer models don’t have that problem to some extent – they are well built and the NVH insulation is quite good.

The thing is, I make a point to listen to the car every morning as I am leaving the house and does the same before I leave the office. The sound of the engine, the sound of the tires and any other sound that is out of place. If something sounds out of place, always stop and check. The last thing you want to do is to have trouble when you are flying at 110 km/h. And early morning is the best time to listen to the sounds – it quiet (which makes it easier to listen things) and there are no other cars and if there are any strange sounds, home is just nearby. The sound that I fear the most is of course the “thud, thud, thud” sound. It has caused me more headaches than any “other sounds” over the years.

There are times when the car actually talks to you and if you listen to it closely, you can understand it’s language. And here’s a quick guide for more sounds that could indicate problems to your car (another is here). That takes the surprise element out from the equation and makes driving a bit more safer and economical. Well, do you do the same? Have you listened to your car lately?

Snippets – 15 May 2015


myvi

(It is indeed a tragic when an infant dies due to another road user who cared less of the safety of others but other than feeling sad & saying our condolences, what we are doing to ensure another person does not dies in the same manner? Image source: the Net)

Couple days ago, we celebrated Mother’s Day in a big way, thanks to my cousin who organised it. We grouped all the “Moms” to a corner and had the oldest – my grandmother (my mom’s mom) to cut the cake. It was memorable to see the grand lady leading the pack of moms in the celebration.

And whilst the ladies had their own activities, the guys had their own – drinking cold ice beer whilst catching up on the latest news on work, economy, politics, travel and on other times we had been drinking. It was something that I missed in recent times especially when everyone been so busy with their own family and work. I lost count of the cans of beer that I had but it was one of the few nights that I really had a good night sleep. And I did not have any hang-overs in the morning as well. I felt very fresh and was all ready to go to work.

And I think everyone deserves a good night sleep with the confidence that the country is in safe hands. Unfortunately it is not. The truth is the country is in a big bloody mess and we have a Prime Minister who is not only clueless but also thinks that a few show of support from his usual ball carriers means the whole country is squarely behind him. There was a big hoo-haa when Tabung Haji bought over the 1MDB’s land for a value that is much higher than what 1MDB paid for. But that is still fine, property price over time and with improvements made on the land, the price may have appreciated. But that is not why people got pissed off in the first place.

The real reason why people got pissed off was the fact that the people who was involved denied it at first until the evidences started to appear on the internet. Have they forgotten, these days, information flies faster than speed of sound and all information is available at one’s finger tips.

Anyway, as I had said, the country is in a big bloody mess and politicians are still trying to hide the crap under the carpet. And one is going to indulge the many reporting on 1MDB recently, it is going to be a never ending story. And despite the reporting and promises to “get to the bottom” of it, no one been caught and brought in for questioning. Even the fat guy is less worried and is on a shopping spree (hopefully with his own personal money)

One just hope that my fellow Malaysian will still remember this when it comes to the next general election. No matter what kind of “I help you, you help me” promise of better roads, sacks of rice, new schools, donations, new bridge or new houses pledged, it should be the last time that we want to allow something similar to happen again. It will take probably years to clean up the current mess.

Let come back on something that worth a good read and in a way inspirational – thanks this post:-

At the primary school level, up to UPSR, the Tamil schools are scoring the highest grades for science and mathematics. They are even beating the Chinese schools. They have left the sekolah kebangsaan behind. (Sekolah agama, sekolah pondok semua tak payah sebut lah ok.)

And now the Tamil schools are getting into the top league in the UPSR exams. As an example, for 2014 the SRJK (Tamil) Taman Tun Aminah in Johor Bharu produced the best UPSR results in Malaysia. 43 students scored straight 7-A’s and another 43 students scored 7-B’s. Another Tamil school in Johor the SRJKT Masai has also been hitting the big leagues in the UPSR.

(Source)

Whilst I admire and respect the good people behind ASTI (they are doing the right things at the right rime), the fact is there is still an imbalance of how we educate our kids as whole.

Tamil schools despite their shortcomings in terms of logistics and space is doing well due to their teachers and school administrators. And I am sure every types of schools have their own elite accomplishments and directions. For that, I salute them. It is not easy to achieve those things when your hands are tied. But in the end, it does not and will never represent unity. We are still segregating kids by the race, language and perhaps how much money their parents have in their pockets.

Of course, politicians and national policies plays a big role here. But they can only do so much. The other one third need to come from the schools & teachers themselves (as how the Tamil schools have been doing remarkably) whilst the remaining one third is from the parents. Failed to do your duties in any one of them and you will end up with a kid that weak in the command of the language (the one and only English) and subjects that matters most in the new millennium- Science and Mathematics.

No idiot is going to allow you to fly to Mars based on your qualifications in religion (we already having weird revelations in that area). We need more rationale and scientific thinkers in our society.

Then we had the tragic incident of the 2 MYVI drivers who have been “allegedly” racing and ended up causing an accident that killed an infant and her two parents. Whilst the MYVI driver have been hauled up for investigations and will probably be charged for causing death from reckless and dangerous driving which may see the driver jailed between two and 10 years, and be fined between RM5,000 and RM20,000 if found guilty, here’s the sickening part of the whole affair – there is no effective way of booking the drivers who speed on the road.

Still remember AES? Still remember the bunch of morons from the opposition who made so much noise that the Government decided to hold back the wider implementation of AES? The end result of this – death of an infant.

And if the Government promises a better enforcement (as they usually do whenever they have dead bodies on the road), save the trouble – it is not going to happen. They have been saying the same thing on the express buses and motorcyclists without helmet & license but nothing have changed so drastically.

We need to cut to the chase and implement measures that will see a stricter enforcement of the traffic laws and stick on the implementation even if there are unreasonable “noises” questioning the need for such measures. We need to make Malaysian roads safer than ever. After all aren’t we among the top 25 most dangerous countries in the world for road users. It is something we should not be proud off.

Yup, It’s Getting Weirder


Parking

(Some things are not weird like the way people like to park their cars, it is just a result of people not taking the time and care to do the right things)

It must be the insane weather, I am very sure – it has been raining cats & dogs for past weeks and yet it feels like one is sitting in a sauna at night. My daughter fared worse, despite having 2 fans and occasionally the air-conditioner switched on, she was sweating like she had just done a 10 km marathon.

Or perhaps it is something we have been drinking (or sniffing), I don’t know. Perhaps it was due to our overzealous with being the righteous one that some of us can see the end is near. Whatever the reason maybe, things are just getting weirder in this country.

Just the other day, I was at Tesco and I decided to go the customer service counter as I wanted to load up. I saw a foreigner at the counter topping up his prepaid and he was paying the RM10 top up with shillings, mostly with 10 & 20 cents. As if the rest of us have plenty of time to spare, I waited for the guy behind the counter to take his time to count the money. Then I noticed an African lady standing next to me and then jumping queue, she asked the staff at the counter on how to apply for a Tesco loyalty card.

It was weird when the staff asked this lady (who was obviously a foreigner) in Bahasa Malaysia on what she wanted. The lady was confused and did not understand the question (for obvious reason, duh). She explained in English and yet the staff at the counter keep talking back to her in Bahasa Malaysia. Of course, watching this from the side, I was wondering myself what the fuck is happening. That was very weird indeed. One should be color blind to race but one cannot be that blind.

Things were getting weird indeed. So, it was not a big surprise when earlier, the whole nation was reading this nonsense in the headlines:-

A group of about 50 residents staged a peaceful protest against a new church in Taman Medan fearing proselytization after the church’s congregation had put up a cross on the building.

The Star Online reported that the group had gathered at the church at about 10am earlier today while Sunday mass was going on, claiming that putting up a cross in a Malay-majority area challenged Islam and could influence young Muslims

(Source)

And soon after this incident, there was plenty of hoo-haa and blah-blah and by now, this has become an old trivial story. Of course something like this bound to happen when you mix religion, politics and a good dose of stupidity into the grinder and end up with a messy outcome.

Think of the 2 main arguments put forward by the mob?

One that the church has a cross on its wall and the other is that it will “easily” influence young Muslims. I dare not venture into further latter argument that one can easily be influenced by either the other religions / beliefs / arguments making more sense OR their understanding, embrace and thoughts of their own present religion is so bloody shaky that seeing an image on a wall will change your belief in seconds. Pick a reason and go back to your corner. I mean no one stopping you from being outraged if others challenged you in your beliefs but come on, you need to be fair and reasonable too.

unity-pendant-3

(Symbols are nothing new in religion – each of them have its own meaning, history and place. Image source: http://www.stevemcswain.com)

Let’s relook into the former – that a church has a cross on its wall and that is so wrong. Well, that must have been one of the many dumbest statements that politicians that had made so far this year. What is a church without its cross? What is a Hindu temple without the notable OM symbol? Or a Buddhist temple without the famed Swastika? And of course, what is a mosque without the moon & the star? Interestingly we had walked on this very same path almost 10 years ago when some group contented that a cross on cookies a threat to Islam. It looks like we did not matured enough after all these years.

And whilst it has generated quite amount of comments on this issue, one that stood out with the right strike on the nail has to be this from Fake Malaysia News:-

“I think Christians are well aware it is forbidden to go around proselytizing to Muslims,” said an onlooker, “but they need to take more responsibility for their activities and ensure their churches are clearly marked.”

“If only there was some kind of Christian symbol they could display on the Church to warn Muslims so that they stay away!”

(Source)

Then we had more weird things happening at the famed tourist spot in the city. We had a rather unexpected public strip tease over a meal:-

The Sabah woman who stripped to avoid paying for her meal in Petaling Street on Thursday was high on syabu and had no recollection of what she did. The 32-year-old woman has since been identified as a model and beauty pageant contestant who had appeared on TV reality programmes.

The woman claimed she did not remember her strip tease at the restaurant and strutting down belligerently along Petaling Street, said Dang Wangi OCPD Assistant Commissioner Zainol Samah said yesterday.

(Source)

At first, I was thinking it was a foreigner who may not feel shame going topless in public (maybe she was feeling hot under the weather) but interestingly with the power of the internet at one’s finger tips, it was not long before someone sent me the woman’s school days and past modelling photos. A good looking lady who could have held the world in her hands but some how ended on the wrong side of the law and high on drugs. It’s a pity indeed and perhaps one of the many tragic stories in this country .

Of course nothing beats the scale of weirdness that surrounds the political world in this country. Never mind the on-going spate between Dr M and Najib which has been rather one sided – Dr M shooting off all the valid questions but only to get the minions responding back with bizarre responses. There has been only been too many implication of misadventures under Najib’s administrations from the over paid consultants, too frequent overseas trips, rather over lavish lifestyle and expenditures and the list seems to be continuing. And the silence by the PM remains an indication that not all things are going all too well.

And now it is getting worse with the latest expose from Sarawak Report (the localised wikileaks and one that have been digging up a lot of information):-

Investigators into the Malaysian development fund 1MDB’s 2009 joint venture with the company PetroSaudi International have concluded that the partnership lied to its banks and Bank Negara Malaysia.

The papers in Sarawak Report’s possession show that the investigators have identified at least three separate occasions on which these and other transgressions were made, which appear worthy of prosecution.

(Source)

If these news are false, it is strange why 1MDB have not sued Sarawak Report for the matter and put a lid on all these uneasiness for once and for all? If we have been living in another country, well, never mind let’s not go there. For now, let’s just blame the weather for all things going weird in this country.

Next Stop: The Red Planet?


Read these as well:-

Given the state of the country as at now, you can safely say that when we celebrate the year 2020, this country would not have achieved the status of a “developed country”. So Dr M’s Vision 2020 will remain a vision and will not become a reality, at least in 2020.

For one, religion had taken precedent in key areas of the country and have caused a mismatch of priorities. Instead of us busy with human resource development and preparing the country for a “developed” status, we are busy on which law to use and how holy or religious one must be. And I saw this in play when I went to a shopping complex one fine day and decided to drop by a bookstore as my son wanted to buy a science book. We walked around and realised that there was more books on religion than on science and mathematics. I was hardly surprised – there were more people at the religion book section than at the science & mathematics book section.

Vision 2020 is also doomed to be nothing but fancy slogan because we still place high importance on racial based policies (we still calling ourselves as Malay, Chinese, Indian, etc instead of Malaysian) and on cheap politics. But come year 2020, all is not all lost though. Year 2020 would mark the start of activities that would eventually place humans on the planet Mars by year 2026.

Imagine a human colony on another planet and we don’t have to look another 100 – 200 years for that. We will see that in the next 10 years and it is very exciting news indeed. The company that is taking the exploration one step ahead is Mars One – is a non-profit organization based in the Netherlands that has put forward plans to land the first humans on Mars and establish a permanent human colony there by 2027.

NA_384397_MADD_mars

(It may not look much now but imagine a lot more people on the surface and with high end technology which allows them to come back to the Earth and back to Mars again? Image source: Mars One)

It may sound far fetching at first and Mars One have been on the receiving end of many as nothing but a scam. Some even question the USD6 billion budget of sending humans to Mars but remember India sent its spacecraft to Mars for mere USD73 million. But think of the feasibility. Think of the possibility.

Mars One lists out the mission feasibility of a human colony in Mars in the following manner:-

Permanent settlement

The Mars One crews consist of people that want to settle on Mars. Absence of a return mission reduces the mission infrastructure radically. No return vehicle, return propellant or the systems to produce the propellant locally are required. Permanent settlement also reduces the required technology development; vehicles that can take off from Mars and return to Earth are currently unavailable and untested. Since the vehicle returning to Earth and the accompanying systems are mission critical for a return mission, they will also require backups adding to the infrastructure that needs to be delivered to Mars. More importantly, to attain a somewhat acceptable risk level, the return mission would need to be tested in a complete unmanned return trip before the first crew even departs the Earth. Even after a full test of the return system is successfully performed, the risk for a crew that will ride the first return rocket would be very high: 126 rockets launched from Earth since 1990 failed to deliver their payloads in the correct orbit.

Permanent settlement also solved the challenge of the astronauts entering into Earth’s atmosphere after having spent about two years in reduced or zero gravity environments.

Use of In-Situ resources

Mars has resources that can be used for a sustainable settlement. Water is present in the soil and can be made available to the settlement for hygiene, drinking, and farming. It is also the source of oxygen generated through electrolysis. Nitrogen and Argon in the Martian atmosphere can be mined to be the inert part of the atmosphere inside the habitat. Martian soil will cover the outpost to block cosmic radiation. Carbon dioxide can be taken from the atmosphere if the plants take in more than the humans expel.
The systems to mine water from the soil and to mine Nitrogen, Argon, and Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere have never been tested in space. Mars is however not space because there is gravity and a thin atmosphere. Additionally, the processes are all more than 100 years old. The water can be collected from the soil by breaking up the soil with a drill and harvesting the resulting debris. Argon and Nitrogen can be collected from the atmosphere by removing the Carbon dioxide through a phase change.

Solar panels

The Sun is a reliable, robust, and plentiful energy source. Using solar panels is the best choice for Mars One since it takes away the requirement to develop and launch a nuclear reactor, thereby saving time and money while avoiding the risks and concerns of the use of a nuclear power source.
Thin film solar (photovoltaic) panels will power the Mars One settlement. These are less efficient than those more commonly used in aerospace, but have the advantage of being extremely light, and are thus easily transportable. The first settlement will install approximately 3000 square meters of power generating surface area.

Existing technology

No new major developments or inventions are needed to make the mission plan a reality. Established suppliers can build each stage of Mars One mission plan. While most of the components required are not immediately available with the exact specifications, there is no need for radical modifications to the current component designs.

Every effort was made to design the mission with as little complexity as possible. The choice to send permanent settlers removes the need for a heavy lift launch vehicle, which does not currently exist. Permanent settlement makes the landing module small enough to land with current technology. A pressurized rover will not be sent to Mars until large enough rockets exists. No water recycling in the transit habitat will be present because the trip to Mars takes only 210 days. Instead, all required water is stored in tanks that also function as radiation shielding. Storage of waste that is not easily recycled is available in the settlement until more technology is available.

(Source)

And just look at the number of people who shown interest in the Mars One project:-

Mars One applicants come from over 140 countries; the largest numbers are from the United States (24%), India (10%), China (6%), Brazil (5%), Great Britain (4%), Canada (4%), Russia (4%), Mexico (4%), Philippines (2%), Spain (2%), Colombia (2%), Argentina (2%), Australia (1%), France (1%), Turkey (1%), Chile (1%), Ukraine (1%), Peru (1%), Germany (1%), Italy (1%) and Poland (1%).

(Source)

The first 3 nations are well known for their eagerness and competition in space exploration. Out of the three, US and India already have rovers and space crafts orbiting Mars. And I am pretty sure the Chinese will do so soon as well although these guys are busy exploring the moon (hmmm, they know something we don’t?). And Malaysia is involved in Mars One in 2 areas – our own Angkasawan, Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor is an ambassador for Mars One and three brave explorers from Malaysia including a woman.

SPACE: India Mars mission

(It’s only cost USD70 million to launch a space craft to the Red Planet. Trim down the money spent on wars, religion conflict and corruption and you can send hundreds of the space craft to many part of the solar system. Image source: engtechmag.wordpress.com)

Mars One is an one way trip as there is no way (presently) to bring the space explorer back. The environment is harsh and there is no guarantee, despite the mission feasibility, that the colony will succeed, especially when the next human civilization is million kilometers away (230,000,000 km to be exact) and in case of emergency, one cannot simply dial up 999 and ask for help. Rescue mission if it is to be done, will take months to prepare and execute and by then, any rescue mission would have been redundant.

Mars One itself can go bankrupt and may not be able to bring the next set of explorers to add to the colony. Anything can happen. After all, it took a lot of research, time, risk and money to send man to the moon, so what more another planet and that too for one way trip. But there are good reasons to make this trio to Mars, namely:-

To give our kids new Hope, careers and Dreams — beyond merely surviving in a world of growing terrorism, more “police state” responses, with increasing resource and energy scarcity ultimately leading to endless global wars

By finally opening up unlimited solar system resources — be it exotic fuels, new planetary minerals or endless solar energy – dramatically alter the “have not” competition between the First and Third Worlds here on Earth … the ultimate source of increasing global terrorism

By greatly accelerating these radical technologies — from “black” energy systems and propulsion to autonomous robotics, from desktop “super computers” to their ultra-broad band communications (essential to conducting “routine operations” on the Moon and Beyond) – dramatically accelerate overall national and global productivity, with startling increases in GNP and GWP

By federally subsidizing the creation of a whole new generation of consumer industries — through pioneering a literal “Second age of Space” — dramatically increase the historical “return on investment” from past NASA spending … from 23 to one to more than 100-to-one; thus, for every billion dollars invested in this New Space Program, over a hundred billion will return to the national and world economy

By finally providing accessible new sources of raw materials and energy “off planet,” processed in lunar and orbital industrial facilities, naturally reverse over a century of planetary degradation and pollution … including global warming

By accelerating fundamental solar system exploration with human beings, return equally fundamental, radical scientific information – ranging from comparative planetary data which will assist preservation of the Earth’s environment through new space installations, to answers to the origin of the human race itself

(Source)

Yes, money and human resource is important but aren’t we been busy wasting them on wars, corruption and wastage as well. Save up on those and you will plenty for the science exploration, I am sure.

Many of us, including myself are from the generation that grew with science fiction movies like Star Wars and Star Trek. Still remember ” to boldly go where no man has gone before”? It is in our nature to explore and find new worlds and the more we explore, the more we will push the boundaries of technology, science and human endeavor. And there is the prospect of rich natural resources that could be mined for humans (there was even plan to start a mining colony in the moon).

For those reasons alone, Mars One mission should succeed.

Upholding Dharma


It is a short one for this week but it has something that our country (and its good citizen) have been lacking in some areas and should be revisited. It is also something that I have been pondering on a personal basis.

Let me start with a simple case study:-

There is a junction near the housing area where a quiet number of the residents would take to make a u-turn to go to the housing area. Well, that fine as it is quite convenient for the residents. The only problem is there is a clear sign that says no u-turn is allowed. Despite this sign board and sometimes the inconvenient (and danger) posed to other road users, the residents continue to make u-turns instead of driving a bit more further and make u-turn. It may sound trivial but perhaps the residents may not be aware, they are breaking traffic law on daily basis.

The notion of dharma comes to my mind. The concept of dharma may mean many things to different people and religion. It may even have different name in different part of the world and culture. In Hinduism, dharma signifies behaviors that are considered to be in accord with rta, the order that makes life and universe possible, and includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and ‘‘right way of living’’ (Wikipedia)

Before anyone accuse me of being holier than holy (ha ha), let me assure you that it has nothing to do with religion but rather a way of life, doing the right things (as oppose to doing the things right) and ensuring that we do not hurt others out of greed, anger and of course, stupidity. You can find a variant of this in every modern society, culture and religion. Morality is one aspect of it but then the question may arise – what is right for me may not be right for you. That I agree with you. But there simpler acid test for this – be guided by the existing laws and society norms.

It can simple as following the traffic rules – don’t make illegal u-turns is one example, not driving on the wrong side of the road, put on the indicators when changing lane, wear a helmet when riding a motorbike and so on. And to something more complex like managing the country in the best interest of it’s citizen. There is no law written down to managing the country in the best interest of the citizen, of course.

This is where the society norms comes in place. No society wants to be governed by greedy, dumb, wasteful, dictator alike government – unless we are in a failing states like Zimbabwe or North Korea (but not Iran as the US wants us to believe). But we are not, we are far from countries like that. We will come across many instances of doing the right things in a day if you keep an eye and ears on it.

Asking people to do the right thing is nothing new concept. It is an age old concept.

I first came across the word “dharma” when I went to India for the first time and bought the Mahabharata from a local book store there. It was on sale (most things were) and the language used in the book was not so complicated to follow (I had to do something to kill time when the ladies were out for their shopping).

The dharma is mentioned a few times in Mahabharata which itself been called the story of dharma:-

Mahabharata is one of the oldest epics of our country, nay the world. It shows how dharma and karma govern our lives. Dharma is what is the right thing to do at a given time or situation. Dharma is based on wisdom, insight and human values. Dharma has many meanings and many dimensions as well – duty, truth, non-violence (ahimsa paramo dharma) and others. It is well said that “dharmo rakshita rakshata” – dharma protects he who follows dharma. However, if you do not follow dharma, you have to reap the consequences. That is karma – you reap what you sow, sooner or later.

(Source)

Failure to uphold the dharma will eventually attract bad karma. That’s universal – if you don’t do the right things, the consequences will not be good as well. If you don’t follow the traffic rules, you may get into an accident (or cause others to get into an accident).

The same with running this country. If you don’t govern the country well, it will not prosper and developed. And so. You may have heard variations of it – Murphy’s law, Newton’s 3rd law of motion, blah, blah

Knowing what is the right to do is one thing, doing it without fail is another:-

Doing right always is a very difficult task. Many a times we do not know what is dharma, what is not. Even though we know, unless it is a very usual habit of following it, at times of great stress it is impossible to follow the path of Dharma.

(Source)

In order to do thing on a constant basis, it takes high discipline and of course practice but more importantly there must be an acceptance that doing the right things should precede doing things right. It has to be habitual as well.