2018 – Things So Far


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(Miracle do happen! Karma do exist! For the first time in history, the opposition will form the Federal Government and take extra states compared to the last elections. It’s is time to clean up the nation and enforce the rule of law. Photo source: NSTP)

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Preamble

I can’t believe that I last blogged back in September 2017 – time does flies fast when one is not looking

Well, it is not that I had lost interest in blogging (I still do drafts now and then but don’t have the time to complete them) but I found that given the very little time that I have apart from work & family, typing on issues and events over the social media & instant messages (Facebook, Twitter and the countless Whatsapp Groups) is more convenient (just hit the “Share” button and your message gets through) compared to blogging which takes time as I tend to do more research and review the drafts over and over again.

Another reason was that the politics in this country was becoming more absurd and lack of any logic that it was pointless to discuss on it at length. The real battle was waged in the social medias and it made a lot of sense for anyone who is supporting the opposition to join them there and share and create the awareness of their points, arguments and speeches to others (especially for those who are still undecided or don’t care about the state of the nation).

But considering one of the main reason for me to blog was to improve my language (and my “penmanship”) and I have been slacking (very much) on this lately, it is time me to seriously look into blogging on a more regular basis. The real challenge would be to find time to do it on a regular basis but I am kind of inspired by Pakatan Harapan’s win in the General Elections and the volume of work that Tun Dr M is doing after taking up his place as the Prime Minister.

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Going into the year 2018 started with tragedies

First was this:-

A 15-year-old boy died when a chair, thrown from an upper floor of a block of People’s Housing Programme (PPR) apartments in Pantai Dalam, struck his head on Monday night.

The victim, identified as S. Satiswaran, a Form Three student of SMK La Salle in Petaling Jaya, was accompanying his mother, 45, who had just finished grocery shopping.

When they were about to enter their apartment block at about 8.30pm, an office chair, believed to have been thrown from one of the upper floors, crashed down and struck Sathiwaran.

(Source)

The other was this:-

‘This is not a suicide, this is a murder!’ the Malaysian Tamilar Kural (MTL) president thundered on Thursday, following the death of a 14-year-old schoolgirl who died after being in a coma since Jan 24.

David Marshel slammed what he called inaction by the Education Department and the police for not investigating a teacher who had accused the girl of stealing her iPhone last week – a charge the girl vehemently denied.

The Form Two girl passed away at the Seberang Jaya Hospital at 3.30am on Thursday, prompting David to demand that police take action against the teacher and her husband for allegedly threatening and striking the student, to the point that she attempted suicide at her home last week.

(Source)

And the year 2018 was also the year when we learned that 2 of our close relatives was diagnosed with cancer – one is my aunt, very tough lady with breast cancer (undergoing treatment and seems to be holding off) and another, my father-in-law’s elder brother (who we call Uncle) with throat cancer.

When we got the news that the uncle will not last long and the doctor had informed the family that there is nothing much they can do (he probably had days to live), my grandmother got in touch with me and asked me whether I could drive her to see him in Taiping before it was too late.

Despite of my busy schedule, there was no way I could say no to the old tough lady and so we packed up and drive up North to the uncle’s house with my wife & mum tagging along. We reached late and I thought my grandmother would be tired from the long journey and would like to rest first at my father-in-law’s house. But she said no, she was not tired – let’s visit the uncle first no matter how late it is and then think of rest (namely dinner) later. The mood in the uncle’s house was sombre and depressing and despite the late hours, there were plenty of people still awake in the house. No one had the mood to sleep. My grandmother met the uncle in his room, he was half awake from strong medication and blessed him before we left the house. The very next morning, we got news that he had passed away in his sleep.

Yes, beginning of the year was indeed depressing and full of tragedies

2018 was also the year when the country would be having it’s General Elections and the news on the ground was not good. It seems to favor the current Prime Minister Najib – he seems to be untouchable and despite Tun Dr M joining up with the oppositions under the same umbrella known as “Pakatan Harapan”, the chances of Najib winning another General Elections was indeed high. PAS who opted out from Pakatan Harapan remained the thorn in the bush with its leaders working closely with UMNO to frustrate the Pakatan Harapan’s chances in the upcoming General Elections.

And there was the issue of redelineation by the Election Commission that seems to be favoring the ruling political party and moving voters based on ethnic background.

Malaysia’s ongoing redelineation exercise is unconstitutional and will create a Parliament that is extremely unrepresentative of Malaysia’s people, no matter who wins, because it is severely flawed in two main ways: it either creates malapportionment, which is the manipulation of electorate size where one person’s votes become worth up to 3-4 times the votes of another person in a different constituency; or causes gerrymandering, which is the manipulation of electorate composition to the advantage of one party; or both.

Schedule 13 of Malaysia’s Constitution specifically prohibits malapportionment and gerrymandering of electoral boundaries, making the redelineation exercise unconstitutional.

(Source)

Of course, the same was echoed in the Economist’s article title “Malaysia’s PM is about to steal an election” and this did not help to calm things down. Pakatan was looking for another defeat and Malaysians a lost of opportunity to make things right.

Cost of living was on the increase too, no thanks to GST and other factors (such as Ringgit exchange rate, wide mismanagement, weak oil price, etc). We seem to be spending more and more for a smaller size of sundry goods on the monthly basis. At times vegetables were more expensive than chicken or fish. Eating out had become a luxury adventure and we hardly travel these days. And in the recent months, more businesses were closing down and this has direct impact on the national unemployment stats and income from taxation.

SOME companies have shut down because of the goods and services tax (GST), says Second Finance Minister Johari Abdul Ghani. Johari did not disclose details as the matter is still under investigation.

The Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia told The Malaysian Insight on October 20 that GST has caused many Malay businesses to close shop.

Its vice-president, Norsyahrin Hamidon, said the chamber has yet to obtain the exact number of members who had to close shop due to GST.

(Source)

And of course, this was before outcome of the General Elections when the country seemed to be going into the dark ages. It was running on the basis of “cash is king” and those who walk along the corridors of powers were untouchable and cannot be criticized whilst the wastages & the other nonsense continued.

Then on 9th May 2018, a miracle happened….

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M.S. Viswanathan: 1928 – 2015


MS Viswanathan at Kaviyarasu Kannadasan Vizha 2014

(Before AR Rahman and Illayaraja, there was only one great musician and that was MSV. Image source)

CHENNAI: Legendary music composer and singer M S Viswanathan, who had been critically ill for the past few days, passed away at a private hospital in Chennai in the early hours of Tuesday. He was 87.

The music maestro was admitted to the intensive care unit of Fortis Malar Hospitals on June 27 with breathing difficulty and his condition had been worsening ever since.

Hospital sources said he had been suffering from age-related ailments and had lost his memory. Though the hospital said in a statement last Monday that he was on the road to recovery, his situation took a turn for the worse a couple of days ago.

“He passed away at 4.15am,” said hospital sources.

M S Viswanathan (fondly called MSV) composed songs for more than 1,200 films in Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu. In Tamil, he composed songs for films like Billa, Nalai Namathe, Urmai Kural and Sirithu Vazha Vendum.

(Source)

Off to a Funeral


mas

(No matter what, Malaysia remains where my heart and soul lies at the end of the day. And nothing kicks starts the notion than flying on the national carrier whilst having hot delicious nasi lemak for company)

Somehow it was great to fly back on MAS – for a couple of things.

One, it was good to hear safety announcements in Bahasa Malaysia again. Two, they served nasi lemak for lunch which was a sure sign that we are heading back home. And one of the first things that I did once I am back home was to catch up on my sleep. I could not help it – I even doze off whilst I was having conversations. Having a weekend and then thereafter the CNY holidays was just perfect to catch up on a break.

So I thought…

I was made “aware” of a distinct relative who was admitted to hospital in a serious condition. And last weekend, the dreadful news came. The relative had passed away. Being a distinct relative, there was always an option for me to simply opt out from going for the funeral. Further, the funeral was taking place in Johore – a place that was considered “quite far away” to drive (although it was almost the same distance and time to drive up North). The one that nails the urge for not going is that the funeral was taking place on a Sunday (I was working on Monday)

But there was 3 reasons that was prompted me to attend this funeral. First, despite it being a funeral of a distinct relative but he was somehow linked with other relatives who are closer to me. And there will be questions raised in the next family gathering. I had some obligations to them. Second, my father in law who is staying up in Taiping is taking the bus (yes the bus – we did not know, otherwise we would have picked him up half way) all the way to Johore for the same funeral. If he can take the bus and travel for 8-9 hours, then what’s stopping us with cars half way through from attending the same funeral, right? And third, the deceased had the same (well, almost) age as me (and brother in laws). Somehow, that made me to decided to go for the funeral.

It was time for planning for the one day trip to South and it was similar to the trip to the East Coast but with a small difference. We going to use my car as I am going to do most of the driving. It was a good opportunity to test the new tires. And to ensure it is going to be a fast drive down South and back, we decided to leave the ladies & kids at home (we already anticipating massive traffic jam on the way back, so it is best to leave the ladies and the children at home). In the car, would be me and 2 of my brother in laws (one is the substitute driver and another is our navigator – he had been to the house once)

The plan was finalised on Saturday evening (it took some time on the phone with various parties to finalise who was going and who was staying). My brother in law would pick up his wife and his daughter and another of the brother in law in the morning and meet me at my house. He would leave his car and drop his wife & daughter at my house (my wife and my kids will be around to keep them company).

map

(The trip down South – frankly the time and distance was similar to the trip up North but somehow it was less tiring. Perhaps it was because it has been almost 15 years since I made the trip to South)

We suppose to leave from my house (since it is nearer to the South compared to our 2 houses) at 5 am. I woke up at 4 am and by 4.45 am was all ready for the trip. I had even double checked the car and parked it outside the porch so that my brother in law can park his car easily. I also set the GPS coordinates and locked in the destination. At 5 am, he was no where to be seen. He finally showed up at almost 5.30 am – it was still good as my deadline remained 6 am (assuming we have a 4 hours to drive). The three guys finally left at about 5.45 am.

The journey to Johore was rather a pleasant one and surprisingly is not tiring compared to the trip up North. I hardly fell asleep along the way despite waking up earlier than usual. My new tires, Michelin XM2 was holding well and was quiet all the way. I had checked the route before hand (thanks, Google Map) and had decided to only use the GPS once we had reached the exit of the highway. No speeding on the highway and I maintain to the left lanes whenever possible. We made 1 pit stop at Pagoh for breakfast (a sorry looking nasi lemak with un-reasonable price was waiting for us). Quick breakfast and we were back on the highway and there was still more than 100 km to go before we reach the deceased’s house. Traffic was still sparse and it remained a smooth drive. It took us less than 4 hours including pit stop.

Using GPS is a must when venturing into an unfamiliar place and it was the case here too when we reached the house without getting lost. An uncle of mine who was not using GPS, got lost 4 times in the same area before finally finding the house. Fearing that there will be a big crowd later, we parked the car on the main road, some distance from the house but where I can still see the car from the house. We noticed a large tent outside the house which affirmed that we are at the right place. No familiar faces at the tent in front of the house, so we walked into the house. The coffin was in the middle of the house, surrounded by grieving family members. We said our condolences and prayers and headed back to the tent outside the house. The smell of chemicals inside the house was overwhelming and I started to feel dizzy.

Sitting under the tent outside the house with my brother in law (my father in law joined us soon after – he was tired after an almost 9 hours of traveling by bus) and with a fresh breeze, my head started to get clearer. Not many people have arrived despite the scheduled time for the deceased body was suppose to be taken to the crematorium. It suppose to be at 10 am but soon 10.30 am and 11 am had passed and soon it was showing 11.30 am. I looked at my brother in law and he looked at me – we suppose to leave at 11.30 am if we are going to make it home early. My brother in law went and talked to one of the relatives on the “status” – apparently there were some delay and we have to wait at least another 2 hours for the final ceremony (it actually took longer than that). I don’t blame them – no one prepares for a funeral upfront.

Wait for another 2 hours?

Well, that was our cue to take a “walk” to our car and head back home. Since there was a funeral, there were no “good-byes” and “see you later”. We quietly walked to my car – good thing it was parked far away and near to the house, otherwise our “early” departure would have been very noticeable.

traffic

(When things slows down on the highway, just make sure the car has enough petrol and the bladder empty. It was good that the traffic was moving despite the heavy traffic)

We had to head back to the highway, so GPS came in handy again. But before we do that, a short pit stop for fuel and use of bathroom was necessary. As I drove out, I misjudged a junction and took the wrong road. Thankfully the GPS was quick to recompute the route and in fact came out with a route with less traffic (so we could “fly” towards the highway). Soon, we found the toll plaza but it was not the NS toll booth (we mistakenly thought it was the NS toll). It was actually the 2nd Link Expressway. There was no lane for cash but instead all need Touch N Go for access. The problem was I left my TNG card at home and my brother in law did not have one either. Cars started to pill up behind us and when I thought we had a big problem at hand, I remember I had the Tesco loyalty card in my wallet and that came with TNG feature. It even had enough credit for the toll. We were saved!!

It was not long before we reached the actual NS highway and initially the traffic flow was good. We managed to clock 110 km/h most of the route. But once reached Negri Sembilan, the traffic started to crawl. R&R was packed full with cars as well. We made our pit stop at Ayer Keroh for fuel and a very late lunch. We could not find a parking spot but at further up front, we managed to find a spot and had an excellent nasi lemak with a good portion of chicken. There was long queue at the petrol station as well. Then it was back to the crawl on the highway. We finally reached home almost at 8 pm and despite being stuck with traffic jam most of the way (no thanks to road works and a couple of broke down express buses).

Despite I drove to and fro such a distance, all in one day, surprisingly I was not feeling that tired or sleepy. And after the late evening shower, I was still feeling fresh to drive to restaurant near the house for dinner.

Robin Williams: 1951 – 2014


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(That funny man from Mork & Mindy will always be remembered. His role in Good Will Hunting however was a total depart from his usual fare and one class up. Image source: http://toptenfilmz.com)

I had never expected this

Oscar-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams has been found dead at his home in California from suspected suicide, police said Monday.

A statement from the Marin County Sheriff’s Department said the 63-year-old funnyman was found shortly before midday at his home in Tiburon, northern California.

“At this time, the Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia,” the statement said.

The veteran actor’s publicist said the Good Will Hunting star he had been battling depression prior to his death.

(Source)

Coming back to Robin Williams, the why would why but then again, depression does make strong willed man to do crazy things. I should know, a situation that we were in once and still keeping an eye on this. However being one of the funniest man around, little we were aware that he has been battling depression. It is a silent killer.

Talking about Robin Williams, I will forever loved his roles in the Mork & Mindy (of course!) and other movies like Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Mrs. Doubtfire and Jumanji.

I loved his role in Good Will Hunting the most. He should have done more serious roles like this. Should have. He will be missed.

When We Look the Other Way…


cctv

(The CCTV grab above, which shows a toddler being led by a man out of Kota Raya Komplex, could possibly be the last moment Siti Soffea Emelda was seen alive. The image was taken by police from the shopping centre located in Puduraya on the day Soffea was abducted by the man and hours later found dead with her head severed on the bank of Klang River. Image source: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/)

When I am abroad on work assignment, things are pretty much of a routine – wake up early in the morning, take a couple slices of bread to fill the stomach for the morning rush (until it is time for lunch), take the cab to work place and work until night, came back to the apartment dead tired with just enough energy to take shower, a bit of food as dinner and perhaps putting the dirty clothes into the washing machine and go to sleep. I hardy have time to blog even when the Big Boss celebrated his birthday couple days ago and I only managed to wish him through the phone.

Then I read this and I was speechless and got very, very angry:-

A CCTV footage purportedly showing two-year-old Siti Soffea Emelda Abdullah being abducted at the Kota Raya shopping complex has gone viral.

In the video, the suspect was seen trying to lure her away. The CCTV footage in the complex later showed the man walking away with Siti Soffea. The man was said to have abducted and beheaded the toddler with a ceramic tile on Thursday before jumping into the river in an attempt to escape.

Police found the body of the man in the Klang River near Jalan Tun Sambanthan, bringing a closure to the case. The body was found floating in the river near Bandar Sunway here on Saturday. A police source said that witnesses of the incident had already identified the suspect through photos and police are studying the CCTV footage.
Police believed the suspect, who was in his late 30s, was released from prison recently and had previous criminal records, mostly drug-related.

The source said the man had worked as a parking attendant near the Kota Raya shopping complex in Kuala Lumpur where the girl was abducted. Siti Soffea was with her mother Siti Salmy Suib, 32, who left the toddler with her friends as she needed to use the toilet on the fourth floor of the complex at about 3pm on Thursday. When she came back about five minutes later, Siti Soffea was not with her friends.

They searched the building but could not find her. Siti Salmy only learnt of what had happened to her daughter when police tracked her down and alerted her later that night.

(Source)

A young kid abducted in day broad light and no one took notice of it until it was way too late. I do not know how filthy this society had come to be – from being the usual “tak apa” attitude to murderous monsters who prey on little innocent children. When this will even stop? In this case, the mother alone cannot be faulted for losing her kid. What happened to her friends who were entrusted to keep an eye on the kid when the mother had to use the bathroom? High on drugs? What happened to the security guard who saw the young girl forcibly pulled by the stranger but opted to do nothing? It is not part of his job scope? Has human life had become that cheap for everyone when they could have done something and opted to do nothing?

As a father to 2 young kids, I am very angry with this whole tragedy. We have been losing kids (some like the Sathiskumar who went missing into thin air or William Yau who got down from the car and later found to be dead) on a regular basis. And no matter who we try to lay our blame on others – the parents (there are super sized morons who do not deserve to have any kids), the suspects (a big surprise on how the long arm of the law does not do much to keep them away from society), the society (who usually chooses to look the other way until it is too late – the famed tak apa attitude) and even the Government (who have plenty of time talking cock when it comes to dirty politics but have not demonstrated a sense of some intelligence in protecting the society), at the end of the day, it is the young innocent children that get the raw deal.

Let’s admit that everyone of us is guilty in one way or another to this tragedy (forget about the Home Minster coming to the rescue – the past few interviews and statements made by him simply reinforces the notion that we all have been dumb enough to continue to allow certain morons to hold public office and these morons have no shame whatsoever demonstrating their lack of good judgement & intelligence on what matters more when it comes to good governance). As a Home Minister, he should stay at home and save a lot of trouble and embarrassment to the country.

What I am afraid of is that we have too many of these tragedies of having missing and dead children and one day, we may find ourselves waking up and deciding that missing or dead children is a norm in this country. Can we stop this nonsense right here, right now  before that happens?

Karpal Singh: 1940 – 2014


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(He may have said many things but he have always been consistent and highly principled and that earns the respect and admiration. Image source: Malaysiakini)

From theStar:-

Bukit Gelugor MP and veteran DAP leader Karpal Singh died in an accident near Gua Tempurung here early Thursday. The prominent lawyer and his assistant, C Michael, died on the scene. His son Ramkarpal and the car’s driver, C Selvam, were injured in the 1am incident. Their bodies have been brought to Kampar Hospital. The Toyota Alphard in which Karpal and the three were in had collided with a lorry. Karpal was on his way to Penang to attend a court case.

A great loss to DAP and Pakatan Rakyat indeed!

RIP, The Tiger of Jelutong

Larry Hagman: 1931 – 2012


(The character itself is an icon and there was no other better to play the role than Larry Hagman. Image source: Wikipedia)

From CNN:-

Actor Larry Hagman, who created one of television’s iconic villains with the treacherous J.R. Ewing of “Dallas,” died Friday, according to a family statement. He was 81. Hagman died at a Dallas hospital of complications from cancer, said the statement posted on Hagman’s official web site early Saturday.

“Larry was back in his beloved Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved most,” it said. “Larry’s family and close friends had joined him in Dallas for the Thanksgiving holiday.

When he passed, he was surrounded by loved ones. It was a peaceful passing, just as he had wished for. The family requests privacy at this time.”

“Dallas” was an iconic TV show back in 1980s and the main role in the series was the ruthless J R Ewing played by Larry Hagman. But back then Dallas was heavy stuff for us kids although my parents watch them often. For us, we prefer the funnier side of Larry in the sitcom “I Dream Of Jeannie” which was more entertaining and funny.