Mixing Cows & Coconuts


Read these first:-

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(It does not matter if you are breaking it for fun or for a deep sense of devotion but it is high time we reconsider breaking up coconuts in insane numbers on public roads. Imagine driving your car over this minefield and you will understand why we need to reconsider this. God, I am sure, is happy with breaking of one coconut. It is the substance that counts and not the form. Image: http://www.demotix.com)

No one had say it better on why schools should not be used for slaughtering animals than Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, the chairperson of Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) and it makes a lot of sense too:-

1. The school as a venue for animal slaughter is highly inappropriate as students become unwilling spectators whether or not they are invited to watch. While some may be able to stomach the procedure there will also be some who may be traumatised by even the cry of an animal before it is slaughtered. Children are sensitive lest we forget. Incidentally, religious officials continue to gently remind worshippers that the photographs of slaughters being taken at mosques and suraus are not to be indiscriminately publicised as it may induce trauma to the faint-hearted;

2. School grounds are ill-equipped for any type of slaughter in particular the drainage and sanitary system to ensure the proper extermination of blood, carcass, waste products and odour, which in turn if not adequately disposed of, may result in an unhygienic condition;

3. Also comes into question is the area where the animal is tied down which must be secure to ensure the safety of the students at all times as animals have been known to come loose, run free and hurt bystanders especially children who have slower reflexes than adults;

4. It is not necessarily an issue about religious sensitivities as even Muslim parents are enraged. However, it can be educational if students are prepared and willing to witness the slaughter of an animal in a proper manner best carried out at a licensed slaughter house where facilities are available to ensure a high standard of hygiene. A visit can be arranged to a slaughter house as a school activity instead; and

5. Principals by failing to communicate clearly with parents and students on the purpose of conducting such a practice without considering its cause and resulting effect of such an action in the first place allows matters to be thrown out of context.

(Source)

I have always maintained that schools should be used as a place of national unity and learning and not for anything else (namely politics and religion). On the latest issue above, well some may argues that it is nothing spectacular – slaughtering animals during festive seasons is nothing new. I am sure that everyone agrees that the issue at hand is not whether can slaughter cows or not (I have seen slaughtering of goats and chickens in some temples in a grander scale) or whether it has “offended” the non-Muslims. The issue at hand is whether it is right to be slaughtering animals in a school and whether it is the right thing to do during school hours. I am sure everyone agrees that there is a proper place and time for everything.

Is it right to expose young children to the cruelty of slaughtering a living animal and the “bloody” mess left thereafter? Is a school even designed to cater slaughtering of animals. Some years ago, some of my neighbors got together and organised similar slaughtering of animals. The only place available was the children’s playground. The problem was after the slaughtering and after the blood and the bits of carcass had spill over on the grass, it was not easy to clean (despite the best effort from the neighbors). For some days the smell alone was enough to keep kids from the playground (thankfully a couple days of heavy rain did the trick). But it was a lesson well learned – the open slaughtering stopped and these days, I guess the neighbors do it at a mosque where it was easier clean things up. Even if there is no other place suitable for slaughtering the cows, couldn’t this been done after school hours?

But having said that and since the issue was raised, it has kind of opened up the Pandora’s box or rather the question – what about other religion or cultural rites that may frighten small kids (like the pierced kavadi during Thaipusam) or may pose danger and unhygienic like the massive coconut breaking on public streets mainly during Thaipusam and open burning of those large incense sticks during Chinese festivals. While some of us may argue that is is not the same thing, we need to accept that it is a good question and it is something we should ponder seriously.

I am not sure if seeing anyone with pierced kavadis during Thaipusam is an issue as it is only done near to the temple (sometimes it is not only frightens small kids but also adults who are not used to seeing one) but they may have a good point there with the massive coconut breaking on public roads. But before that, here’s the reason why Hindus break coconut in case some of you are wondering – there are many version of the reason but the simplest would be this:-

Coconut represents the human head. The ego resides in the head. A tantric who has gained mastery over senses, literally cuts off his head as a sign of submission of ego. In Sathwik/Vedic mode of worship, coconut is used instead to depict the same. In either ways, the acts signify surrender of ego and submission to God’s will.

(Source)

Breaking the coconut is usually done within the compound of the temple and sometimes in front of the house (provided there is no cars parked in the vicinity) but doing the same on public road may need to be reconsidered. Yes they have been doing it for a long time now. Yes, it is a core part of the Hindu rites. Yes, it may not be related to the incident of slaughtering animals in schools. However does it makes any difference if we break one coconut in the temple and 100 coconuts on public streets as far as religion is concerned? I don’t think there is a difference. Other than an unnecessary waste of money, it poses unnecessary danger to road users – despite the pieces of coconut may get cleaned after the rites, there still may be some sharp pieces of the coconut shell that can cause serious damage to vehicles. Further, have you smelt coconut water after a few days left under the hot sun?

As I had said, there is a proper place and time for everything. No one is stopping you from breaking coconuts and no one is saying that you cannot break 1,000 coconuts but let’s confine to temples or house compounds. In the meantime, let’s focus on what is more important in schools – educating the future generation and making them the star of the country. Use the schools for the actual purpose it was built and pour all your time and energy for the same reasons. If we simply insist of doing what we want to do without any consideration to others, it is going to be a tough time in Malaysia for everyone.

Have a good Deepavali shopping this weekend…

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When Service Really Sucks!


Don’t mind me, it has been sometime since I bitched about service at a restaurant or is it is because it is the weekend again.

Read these first:-

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(I have walked off from restaurants couple of times before when there was no service or when my orders delivered late but it was a bit hard difficult to do the same when you have a family in tow. Image source: http://www.insightwithpassion.co.uk)

I did not realise that eating sushis for lunch (which was excellent and my son had a good run on the available choices) can make you really hungry later in the evening.

When we came back home, it was just nice for a quiet afternoon nap. And some hours later, my wife and my son was soon feeling hungry again. But since we were going off to see one of our aunty who were not well, we decided to go for dinner on the way later. Just then my mom and my sisters had came back from their Deepavali shopping and since my wife had not cooked anything for dinner, they asked if we can “tapau” some food back.

Someone mentioned thosai and the Indian restaurant just near the house where we once had our usual fare of good thosai, roti naan and roti canai did crossed my mind. However the problem is that their level of service is nothing to shout about – its sucked big time (a norm in some restaurants). You actually need to remind the morons at the restaurant several times on your orders and I have kind of had avoided going to the restaurant for some time. Which was unfortunate because the place is clean, the food is great and the price of food is quite reasonable. It is also quite near to the house and have plenty of parking spots near to the restaurant. These days we pick on another Indian restaurant couple kilometers away where their service is better. Unfortunately it is far from where the aunty resides and since my son now had started to complain that he is really hungry and could not wait another minute more, I had to make the dreaded decision – to head to that nearest restaurant where service is known to be bad. My wife tried to protest but since my son’s complaint had become louder, she kept quiet, hoping for the best.

As we pulled in to the parking spot in front of the restaurant, we could see that the restaurant was packed – the reason was due to another restaurant nearby (with the same level of service that sucks) had closed for the day and its patrons had decided to eat in this restaurant. I looked at my wife and told her that it looks like we need to wait longer for the food. That did not go well with my son but somehow he understood the situation. Despite the crowd, we found empty seats. Trays, plates and cups from the previous patrons left on the table. We took our seats and I immediately waved my hands asking the waiter to clean the table but no one came. One guy passed our table and only remarked “wait”. We understood that the restaurant had more patrons than usual and it will be slow. Sensing that someone will come over later to clean, we decided to wait for the table to be cleaned. But then on the other side, another group of patrons had left and to my irk, the waiter who told us to wait, was soon got busy clearing the plates and cups whilst the same remained on our table.

I was losing my patience – why they don’t clean tables where patrons are still waiting? They can’t be that dumb, right? We understand if they are busy with patrons who came before us. I waved to another waiter and he only came after I had raised my voice. He cleared the plates and cups but left his rag cloth on the table without cleaning the table. He left us rather abruptly to take order from another table. We saw another waiter but he seemed busy chit-chatting with the cook. The restaurant was crowded and the workers were very busy no doubt but it looked like they were not interested taking our orders. To make things worse, they were entertaining patrons who came in after us. If they are too busy with the existing patrons, I completely understand their situation and I will patiently wait for our turn. But seeing patrons who came after us getting their orders done did struck the right cord with me.

I had enough of the nonsense – I somehow regretted coming over to this restaurant in the first place. I should have just listened to my instinct and go to our usual place for our dinner. Never mind the traffic or the distance or my son saying that he is very hungry. I told my wife in a loud voice that if no one come over and take our order in the next minute, we are walking out from here – I did not realise I was loud but I guess I was rather annoyed with the level service. It was loud enough to be heard by the patrons near to where we were seated. Despite the need to disappoint my son who was complaining, we decided to have dinner at our usual place. It seemed this restaurant was “rich” enough to turn away customers.

Just when we was about to walk out and head to our usual restaurant, the earlier waiter then came back and asked us on our orders. His rag cloth was still on the table. My wife was about to tell her order when I stopped her. I looked at the waiter rather annoyingly and told him to clean the table first. We kept quiet until the table was really cleaned. Only after he had properly cleaned the table, we gave him our orders, expecting another round of waiting for the order to come (somehow I regretted this decision). But it was not the case. The food came without much delays – probably because I was keeping an eye on the waiter and the kitchen. Or perhaps the waiter knows that if the food was delayed or if patrons who came after us got their food first, we would have just walked out (it is not the first time I have done that).

Lesson well learned – 1. no point giving some people a second chance. Some people does not know what a good service means and take things for granted 2. just follow instinct and go to places known for good food and good service and 3. simply walk out if service turns out to be bad

Lost At Sea Too


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One for the weekend – Cartoonist Zunar says it all with this brilliant piece. He has missed a couple more brains. Cartoon source: Zunar / Malaysiakini

Whack The Wrongdoers Hard, Please!


Read these first:-

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(Here lies the problem – some people have no sense of responsibility whatsoever just because they are spending money that does not belong to them and they know that if they can waste the taxpayers money without any care or prudence, they will not be punished even if it was reported by the Auditor General. Image source: http://tarpon.wordpress.com)

I guess those who had voted for the Barang Naik (BN) politicians in the last general election must be regretting their decision now. You know, somehow, “I told you so” just doesn’t quite say it, ah? Already there are multiple news in the net on how some people in disguise of “consultants” have been taking the Government and the taxpayers for a ride but there have been only silence and inaction on the part of these politicians. The obvious ones are these:-

Hazmi sits at the top of the pyramid of greed and takes a 10% on each program cost

Under him, he has several assistants to identify runners to identify those contractors and suppliers with the right license or kepala (heading) to be main contractors or suppliers or just a mere front. At the assistants, runners, and front contractors and suppliers level, they rake in a cumulative of 20% of the program’s budget. The balance is likely to be for the real contractors and manufacturers doing the work.

To get themselves paid, Hazmi’s assistants take care of the payment but it is not paid direct but only to the front. The money due to the real contractors and suppliers is released by the front companies after deducting for everyone’s cut. It means there are paper trails everywhere. Hazmi designed the budget for programs to be usually few ringgit short of RM5,000 or RM100,000. Above that, the control system is stringent and manipulable.

If this does not make your blood boil, we do not know what else.

(Source)

And this:-

Two DAP lawmakers want the Education Ministry to explain why it spent RM20 million hiring a private consultant to prepare the National Education Blueprint when it could have been done by “capable personnel” within the government.

Describing the RM20 million as a complete waste of taxpayers’ money, Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming and Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari said the management consultant, McKinsey and Co, should not have been hired as the company was a general management consultant and did not specialise in education.

(Source)

And timing could not be better to dig up more crap from current Government’s total lack of transparency, enforcement and punishment of the wrongdoers. It has become a sheer wastage of taxpayers fund on a regular basis. The recent publication of the Auditor-General’s report was nothing new and only adds to the “good name” of the current Government. If the half-past six politicians are still under a delusion that everything is still OK in the Bolehland and they can sleep in peace at night, let me tell you that the AG’s report is very, very damaging. A responsible Government would have come in the open to admit the findings and announce strong measures to curtail them. Politicians who care about this nation will not sleep until they had made enough noise for the wrong doers to be caught and punished and existing laws & procedures tighten to avoid a repetition in the future. Unfortunately, in reality (and predictably), nothing have been said till now and everything being kept as hush, probably hoping the taxpayers and the opposition will soon forget about the findings.

The malpractices highlighted in the Auditor-General’s report keep repeating because of inadequate planning in procurement, poor drafting of specifications and lack of monitoring and evaluation, said Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas).

To address this, Ideas chief executive officer Wan Saiful Wan Jan has suggested that curbing political interference and using open tender systems would help in plugging the inefficiencies in government procurement which has resulted in millions of ringgit being wasted.

He cited examples in the 2012 AG report which had resulted in wasteful spending, such as the 20 wall clocks which were bought by for RM3,810 each when it cost RM100 each and the three A4 size scanners bought for RM14,760 each which was supposed to cost RM200 each.

He said Ideas was now conducting a study on transparency in how government agencies and department carry out their procurement. “These problems are repeated because there are inadequate procurement planning, poor drafting of specifications, insufficient use of competitive tenders and lack of monitoring and evaluation.

(Source)

Shouldn’t inadequate planning in procurement, poor drafting of specifications and lack of monitoring and evaluation which have been highlighted many times before in the past AG reports been resolved by now? Don’t each Government departments have some kind of operation guide and standard operating procedures? Don’t they have their internal audit processes to follow and meet? Don’t tell me that we are going to pay millions to some foreign consultants to propose the same thing? And if nothing been done in the past, then what difference it makes now? As long we don’t see the wrong doers and those mismanaged millions of taxpayers’ money punished and held accountable, we going to have the same problems reported year in, year out.

To add further, Malaysia have now been named as the most corrupt country in the world – I am sure some thick skinned politicians would have been very happy with this kind of achievements (they probably have dismissed it as an opposition tactics instead of seriously looking into the possible truth). However it was not a big surprise though – it was just a matter of time before we got that title. The sooner the Government wakes up from its slumber sleep, it is better for the rest of us.

Despite Malaysia’s high-profile anti-corruption crusade, half of the corporate executives surveyed by a global corruption watchdog believe that competitors have obtained business in the country through bribery.

Transparency International said Malaysia scored worst in the 2012 Bribe Payers Survey. It asked nearly 3,000 executives from 30 countries whether they had lost a contract in the past year because competitors paid a bribe, and in Malaysia, 50% of them said ‘yes’. Second on the dubious honor roll was Mexico, which was at 48%.

(Source)

And this is where race based NGOs such as Perkasa show their sheer ignorance and dumbness. They jump like their balls been run over by a steamroller when common Malaysians question the need to prolong race based policies and “giveaways” in the name of “empowering” the community economy, knowing very well that such policies have been manipulated to enrich a few and their cronies in past and continues to this day. But the same NGOs had said nothing or jumped in protest when millions is wasted by lack of enforcement and corruption – doesn’t the same community set to lose a lot more if such leakage is not stopped and the wrong-doers are not booked to stop the repeated wastage? Or are they simply going to ignore this just because those who cause such leakages and do nothing to curtail the leakages are from the same community? It looks like that is the case many times over. No wonder whatever they say and do does not carry any sense of creditability and is a total waste of space.

And when the AG report bring the crap into the open, instead of accepting the hard cold fact and whack the wrong doers hard & ensuring that this will be the last time such incident happens, sadly, some politicians (never mind if they are dumb enough to be caught on video supporting criminal gangs and admission of breach of rule of law) now tries to even justify the wrong doing:-

On Friday, when asked by the press about the firearms mysteriously missing from the police armory, as discovered by the Auditor-Genera, Zahid was quick to pitch himself as the champion and defender of the ‘maligned’ police force.

Insisting that the weapons ‘lost’ by the police were due to human error and not foul play, Zahid rather high-handedly forbade any more discussion on the matter. He even picked on and publicly berated a reporter to emphasize his point.

“I think this is ridiculous behavior from a minister. It is blatantly self-serving. As the Home Minister, the police have to answer to Zahid in many matters but who is he to forgive their wrongdoings. Firstly, this was reported by the Auditor-General, not fabricated by the Opposition. Secondly, have the police carried out an internal probe, why are the findings not released,” Opposition MP for Batu Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.

(Source)

And it seems like the whole of the Government seems powerless (no thanks to their own shortcomings) to bring about the drastic measures needed to stop the rot for once and for all:-

The Auditor-General’s report for 2012 is alarming. And this is so not only because it exposed huge wastage committed by government departments last year, but also because nothing seems to have changed all these many years.

Year after year, the A-G tells us of cases of improper payment; of purchases made at astronomical prices; of unreasonable project delays; of poor asset management; of non-adherence to procedures, etc, etc. But year after year, nothing is done to address the shortcomings.

It seems as if our civil service just continues to plod on, continues to waste, continues to be inefficient, continues to make corrupt transactions. And the overriding controller – i.e. the Government – just lets it be.

The Government knows from the A-G’s reports that corruption is rife in the civil service, but it probably realises it doesn’t have the moral standing to haul in the culprits. After all, the civil servants are following the example of the country’s leadership. And since the Government has also not shown itself to be accountable for a lot of things, how can we stop the rot?

Worse, our civil servants seem to have acquired a tidak apa mindset because the money that is being wasted, that it being improperly used, that is going into the pockets of some of them, is not theirs. When I was in school, we used to characterise such an attitude with the jeering taunt: “You think this is your grandfather’s money ah?” It’s still applicable here and now.

(Source)

I say this again and I have said it many times before – if the Government feel that they need to increase the taxes and reduces the subsidies just to ensure that they have enough to keep the country going, that is fine and fair. But what is the point of the people need to pay more of everything if the blatant waste and mismanagement by the Government itself on the other hand remains high and continues to bleed the nation of its resources. After all, if unnecessary expenses are not curtailed (spending RM3,810 for a RM100 clock for example), the Government will have no choice but to reduce the various subsidies, borrow more money and keep taxes high. At the end of the day, the rot must stop. The “tidak apa” attitude must stop. The blatant wastage of taxpayers’ money must stop. The super unbelievable leniency on the wrong doers must stop. The day of hiring thirsty vampires to guard our blood banks must stop.

Those who commit wastage and corrupt must be charged with criminal breach of trust, bank accounts frozen, their property seized and they are made to spent a good number of their years behind bars. Investigations on the paper trails must be made so that all those involved one way or another are caught and punished. Those politicians who allow (by action, omission or sheer stupidness) this to continue to happen must face the same consequences. Punish the wrong-doers at both ends without any fear or mercy. Malaysia does not need these traitors running the show – we are becoming champions of the world for wrong reasons. The AG have done a very good job highlighting the shortcomings in managing taxpayers funds. The only thing that is needed now is a change of attitude and political will power to take out the cane and start whacking the wrong doers hard so that the rest will be more careful when dealing with taxpayers money. If this failed, then it is evident that the Government itself have failed the trust of the people and is corrupt to the core and thus, must be removed in the next general election.

Can this be done now and without the “ifs and buts”?