All in the name of Religion Part 2


Read these first

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The issue of religion in this country has been a very sticky issue especially when it comes to issues relating to Muslims and Non Muslims.

One such case is the issue of implementing hudud – it will be interesting to see how this works out the non Muslim component political parties of the Government with the upcoming RUU 355 which will be presented by the Government in Parliament. There is already voices of dissenting to the proposed changes from MCA, MIC and component political parties from East Malaysia but let’s see how these guys will actually react when the changes actually tabled in Parliament. If you ask me, the whole thing about RUU 355 looks more politicial than religion.

Another has been the unilateral conversion of children in a marriage where one parent converts to Islam – a case in point has been the case of Indira Gandhi, a case that gone all the way up to the Federal Court for decision. The husband convert already gone into hiding with one of the children and remains missing despite mounting court orders. I am not sure what that achieves other than causing high distress and bad experience for the children. In the end, the family remains disunited and parents at each other’s throats and time wasted at the courts.

Of course, there are others that is considered “out of this world” such as building tombstone in a school. It does not matter if 80% of the students in the school is not Muslim or if there is no consent from the parents & teachers. But it does a great concern when we try mixing religion & politics into our schools. It would have been a different story if the same parties had build a science lab or an astronomy observatory for the students. I don’t see how we can achieve high income nation status with building tombstones and not science labs. We sure need to make a reality check on what we need to present as educational item for the young minds.

Anyway as I said, the issue of religion in this country has been a very sticky issue and it will be so in the coming years. Now that leads me to a very interesting news recently relating to my fellow Hindus for Thaipusam.

A group of vigilantes behind the Facebook page called the “Thaipusam Spraying Group”, have threatened to use aerosol spray paint on women, including those who wear the saree (Indian traditional dress for women) with their backs exposed.

Accompanying the warning were pictures of saree blouse designs that the group deemed inappropriate. “Advance Warning to Hindu Female Patrons coming to Thaipusam festival, beware of being sprayed with Aerosol paint if found inappropriately dressed”, said the group in its “about the page” column.

Federal police Corporate Communications Head ACP Asmawati Ahmad told FMT the post could be considered a crime, punishable under Section 507 of the Penal Code for criminal intimidation, or Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act for improper use of network facilities or network services. “So don’t taint a religious event by doing things that can disrupt public harmony and peace,” she advised.

The post was published last week, and at the time of publication, the group had close to 150 members. A Facebook user by the name of Henry Barnabas, who allegedly created the page, wrote on his personal Facebook page that the post was meant to protect the “ritual and culture” of Hindus.

“Let’s spread the positive message through this group, so they will also get knowledge and respect the meaning of Thaipusam. “Most youngsters these days don’t know our history. Thaipusam for them is just to be glamorous, dancing, etc. Let’s bring some awareness among the youth and the upcoming generation,” he said.

Barnabas also called for his followers to make the post viral, saying that women today were behaving like “call girls”. “Who to blame? Boys trying to protect girls but girls behaving like call girls and at the end of the day, when they are in trouble they will blame the guys.”

(Source)

I can’t recall when was the last time I visited Batu Caves (even worse, Batu Caves during Thaipusam) but if I am not mistaken it was couple years ago when I attended someone’s wedding at the wedding hall in the temple grounds or when we had to shave my daughter’s head during prayers. I don’t know which is which. The massive crowd, lack of parking space, the heaps of rubbish, the issue of safety, my own reflection of religion – I don’t know which of these reasons that made me to shun Batu Caves during Thaipusam. I guess, I rather pray in a more conducive manner.

So when I heard of the “Thaipusam Spraying Group”, I admit I had mixed feelings. On one hand I was concerned that someone is trying to force their set of religious values onto others by means of violence (even though it may be limited to spraying), something seems to be rare when it comes to Indians – we even had people with short pants coming to temples for prayers in the past (how about naked Sandhus during Kumbh Mela, one of the most important Hindu event in India?), so what is so wrong with some sarees with modern designs?

On the other hand, it was comical since there are worse things happening during Thaipusam than some pretty ladies wearing a designer saree – how about starting with cleanliness of the temple area in the first place?

Yes I agree that there should be minimal standards when it comes to devotees coming to places of religion (no one will accept anyone walking in naked to pray unless of course it is a Sandhu, right?) but I don’t think sarees with some designs is so degrading and causes high tension at places of religion. Seriously guys, the notion of pushing down one’s religious throat with force and violence need to stop. Religion as I mentioned before, in my opinion is something personal and it is just between you and Him. This is also why I prefer morality compared to religion any time, any day.

The last thing we need in this country is moral policing vigilantes that makes threats and causes apprehension on others. So calm down everyone, designer sarees will not cause the end of the world and we do have other priorities in life. So please have great days ahead.

Out with 2016, In with 2017


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(Close your eyes and think for a second – are we doing the right things? Are we saying the right things? Are we putting ourselves in others shoes? Image source: http://www.coolnsmart.com)

The year 2016 came to a close with a bang – an accident!!

Couple of days before the end of 2016, on my last working day for the year, I got up as usual at about 6.45 am (because of school holidays) and at about 7.30 am, I left the house with a relaxed mind. The roads were clear and I was looking forward on the long holidays for the new year and thereafter. My son had orientation day on the last day of the year and I was looking forward to that as well.

As how I have passed the toll plaza in the same manner I had passed them in the last 10 years or so, I arrived at the toll plaza with almost a clear traffic. It was evident that a lot of people was on leave. I almost reached the toll booth when suddenly I noticed another car from my right. It happened in just seconds – I had no time to slam the brakes or even press the horn. I only managed to twist the steering to the left before the car came in the front of me, slamming on the front of my car with a loud crashing sound. I knew that I had a bad accident. The good thing was the engine was still running, the airbag was not triggered (means the damage was not so bad) and more importantly I was safe & did not have any injuries other than my pride and a minor headache.

Reeling from shock, I came out of the car to inspect the damage – the bumper was almost fell off and the right side of my car’s front fender was badly mangled. The hood was dented and badly scratched. The radiator’s coolant reservoir broke and lying on the road. The headlights were still working but the plastic cover was broken in thousand pieces. The mud guard was half covering the tire and making it hard to move the car. The other car did not fared better. After a brief chat (basically accusing each other in a very gentlemen manner), we had to move our cars to the side of the highway and wait for the tow trucks. Good thing the traffic was still low and I had no problem driving another 50 meters with the bumper half scrapping the road.

To cut the story short, me and the other driver discussed further and finally decided that the other driver will pay for the cost of repair. There was a reason why he could not bring his car to the police station to report the accident (no reasons given) and considering that I can expect my car to be repaired earlier (like within a week compared to 3 – 4 weeks if under insurance claim), I agreed to his proposal. I only had 2 conditions that he agreed in writing – no cost whatsoever to me and all parts must be original & new. He agreed and by 11 am, my car was towed to his friend’s workshop for initial assessment of the damage and to start the necessary repair works. And the other driver kept his promise – my car was repaired within a week and the parts were new & original. By the time I got the car back, it looked almost brand new. Even the drive and handling did not deteriorate despite the accident.

Perhaps I could consider this a bad closure in 2016 but a good start in 2017, so personally for me things was not so bad but we are still a long way from a good start for this country as whole, don’t you think so?

With the “Ringgit” not doing so well at the currency exchange and the cost of living spiralling up, 2017 is going to be a big challenge for many of the middle class families in this country including your truly. Early indications of the high cost of living was very evident when I headed over to my kids’ school end of last year and noticed that the school fees somehow had tripled compared to the previous years and this is even before the official start of school semester. But for good measures, I have decided to increase the daily allowance for my kids – I have a strong feeling that the school canteen is not going to sell cheap to the students in the coming months. Work wise, it will be an interesting year for me as I have added content management under my portfolio. It is a bit like doing “blogging” for the company on a daily basis. And that itself may inspire me to find enough time and space to kick-start my personal blog and maintain it on a more regular basis (I say may as even this first post for 2017 took more than a week to be drafted and posted).

Considering that the general elections may be conducted soon this year (if one follows the rumors lately), it will be challenging for the country as whole – do expect an increase of the unexpected and the dumbest statements & actions by our local “heroes”. On the other hand, the attempts to sweep the 1MDB fiasco under the carpet, well remains futile – not when a couple of bankers have jailed in Singapore and more will be booked in the coming weeks. Things are not right in this country at the moment and there is no clear plan from the leaders of this country to hold the bull by the horns and tackle the real issues. It will be a monumental effort to make the change at the top immediately but we need to start to start somewhere from the bottom. Just look at the majority of us – how many of us demand the highest quality of services and products and takes steps to provide highest quality of services and products. How many of us act and say things that reflects one’s embrace of rule of law and high morals.

It will take time, I know and different people adhere to different standards of morality and adherence to the law. But can we start at the lowest level of standards?

Let me give you an example – couple days ago, I was coming back from work and it was late at night. At the traffic light, a motorcyclist overtook me and waited in from of me. His rear lights was not working and he had a pillion rider with him and she was holding a baby. Now seeing families with babies on motorcycles is not new but the rider risking himself, his wife and his baby by riding in the dark is not acceptable. How much it takes to change a bulb? And lately I am seeing more bikes and cars with faulty rear lights. Another example that is a pain the neck and it does not cost a thing to get it rectified, is not putting up the indicators when changing lanes. What need to be done for these arrogant people to start putting on the indicators when they want to change the lane? What it will take to recognise what some politicians say or do is dumb, dangerous and is outright lie and voice the disapproval of it? Does it really need one to think and do irrationally when it comes to the issue of race & religion – two simple tools that is often used by politicians and politically charged NGOs?

I am sure that all agrees that the whole system needs a complete overhaul and the longer we drag our feet, the longer we deem low standards as acceptable., the longer we don’t voice our dissatisfaction and say wrong is wrong, the longer we will see this country deteriorates to the worst level. We need to start to make things right and we need to start with ourselves first. We lack the urgency and priority to look at things and see which of it needs our attention the most. In short, we need to shed the “tidak-apa” attitude and start demanding things to be accountable.

That should be our one and only resolution for the new year…

The “Persatuan”


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(The familiar facade of almost every residential areas in this country.  But setting this up and running it on a regular basis is not easy. Image source: TheStar)

I guess it is high time I stop apologizing for not doing up my blog post and I did consider ending the good old days of blogging for once and for all. But then again, I might come in here occasionally to pen down my thoughts and latest happenings.

Seriously I have been busy spending more time for myself – playing games on my smartphone (what else?), spending more precious time with my kids (I love it when my kid sits on me and ask me to read her a story) and whenever possible for that extra hour of sleep and exercise. There have been another development this year and that is quickly turning into my pet project as well – my involvement with the Resident’s Association (RA) or in Bahasa Malaysia, known as “Persatuan Penduduk“.

Still remember back in 2009 when I first talked about the RA?

Things had dragged on for couple more years until one day in 2014, I received a notice in my post box that another group of residents from the same residential area had decided to form a RA. I wondered what happened to the old RA as this will be another competing RA for the same group of residents.

A meeting was held one fine Sunday morning to explain to the residents and formalise the RA. Having nothing to lose (I was watching a dumb show on TV anyway), I went for the meeting and here it was explained what is the difference between old and new RA. Apparently the old RA was not a registered organisation and these new group of residents decided to set up a proper RA which is registered with the ROS, has a proper constitution, registration of members and have a proper committee members to manage the RA. And guess what, I was one of the committee member that got elected on that day – not that I had some special skills that can assist the RA but rather I was the only Indian chap who braved enough to show up at the meeting. So when it was time to pick a multi-race committee members, the slot for an Indian was obvious – all eyes was on me.

For the period of 2014-2016, I was not that active in the RA namely because I was stationed overseas during these times but when I was back home, I tried to help out whenever possible. We did probably the best Raya celebration (with superb food that the ladies managed to cook up) that the residents had in recent years.

Moving forward to beginning of 2016, the RA had their final AGM to pick new committee members for the period of 2016-2018 and this time, there was a couple more Indian chaps in the group, so I did not end up as the obvious choice. But seeing how residents wanting to help the RA but don’t want to be committee members themselves, I decided to volunteer this time around. Everyone was pointing at others instead of volunteering and seeing the mayhem for a moment, I opened my mouth and I ended up in the committee again. Of course the new committee members will take up more prominent role and I had decided on a more supporting role considering how I am tied up with work these days (it was the same with the previous committee).

I did mention previously in this blog that the topic of leadership have always fascinated me. And in every work or venture that I had signed up, I always look for opportunity (even the smallish) to learn. Same thing with RA this time around – with more interaction with other residents on common issues have improved command of language, I am less shy now to meet up with other people and share my leadership skills with some of the new committee members. And I am learning a lot more from other committee members who are more experienced in their line of work (we have 2 engineers as well in the group), the way they analyze the issues and the way they deal with people. One guy impressed me more than others on the subject of communication & persuasion seeing how he managed to drive up the RA membership to almost 90% now. And people in the neighborhood getting to know me (and me to them) as well – which is a good thing assuming I need their help one fine day.

Things have been interesting though – to see things from a non-commercial and educational point of view.

But then again, running an association that involves residents from multi-racial, multi-religion backgrounds has not been a smooth sailing as well. Payment for security guards had been a pain in the neck for long – from a few who are deeply concerned with the security of their families and homes to the dumb idiots who enjoy the security on the expense of others. In the last 2 years, the payment trend has been a roller coaster ride – from a good payment to hire 5 guards to almost none by end of last year. In the end, when it was not enough to hire the guards, the previous RA committee decided to stop the security services and told the residents to watch their back on their own. A couple of months later early this year and after 6 break-ins happened (2 when the residents were still in the house), the residents kind of woke up and got busy pushing the RA for security guards again.

The new RA committee in 2016 decided to go one step ahead with road closures, boom gates and fencing and this time (maybe due to the break-ins) and a better quality of security service, there is much more support from the residents this time around – almost 80% payment for first month alone and drive for new membership skyrocketed too with almost 88% of the residents joined in as the RA members. The trick is to keep up the momentum for the next 2 years or so. And to ensure residents are well informed of the RA plans (and also to pressure those who have been running behind on security payments), all of the members are added into a resident’s chat group. Peer pressure do work wonders sometime. And of course, there will be that small selfish group of morons who will always work against the wishes of the majority and they will often end up being the trouble makers. It takes time, some sense of arm twisting and anger of other residents to keep these trouble makers at bay.

This should keep me pretty much occupied for next 2 years until of course, I am away on overseas assignments.

In the Year of the Monkey


Frankly speaking, I had Part 2 in mind (had half way drafted the content) but over time, the passion for one subject fades away and another subject grabs of one’s attention.

Read these first:-

 

(One good way to damage the sidewalls but modern tires is designed to absorb such sudden shocks)

Last month – on the month of the CNY – had proved to be a rather very expensive month for me as an owner of a car.

Firstly I accidentally scrapped my left back tire against the kerb and caused a small portion of the tire sidewall to be sliced off. I know for fact that whilst you can abuse the main tread and still drive safely, the same cannot be said for the sidewall. And it was painful because the tire was still new – barely a year since I last changed it. I took it to 2 different tire shops – the first one looked at it and said it was nothing to worry. The mechanic went back into the shop, brought back a bottle of super-glue and simply glued the sliced piece of the sidewall back into the tire. Feeling unconvinced, I went back to the shop where I first changed the tires a year ago. Unfortunately there were too many cars at the tire shop and the mechanics were busy. I managed to convince one of the them to check the tires. He came over and very lazily said it was nothing to worry as well.

But deep down, I was not happy or feeling safe, driving around with a sliced sidewall. As far I can remember, I never had damaged sidewalls before this and this was the first time I encountered this. It was time to do some goggling on the net and find out from the experts out there if I am feeling worried for nothing. Unfortunately for me, it looked like I had a very unique situation and generally most experts do not suggest driving around with a damaged sidewall (mine was not damaged but sliced). A few days had passed and for a moment I had forgotten that I was driving around with a sliced + patched up sidewall but that notion of not feeling safe kept bugging me, more so when I have my kids in the car. And one day, somewhere in a motoring forum, I finally read what I was looking for – someone had commented that no amount of money saved can come close to the safety of the people in the car.

That caused my mind to be made up but I had to wait for few more days as most of the shops were closed for CNY. But once the shops were opened, I headed to the nearest shop and talked to the owner. He too said that the tire were still driveable but the point is, the sidewall strength is compromised. So one need to be very careful when driving. I pondered on his statement – I do drive fast in the morning and I am the one who send my youngest to school in the morning. I could not imagine the carnage if the tire decides to blow out.

I decided to change the tires and considering the old tires were still new, the owner decided to give good discount for my new tires. But lesson well learned and I have now become more careful and patience when I am driving – another sidewall damage is the last thing I want.

It was not the only problem I had with the car and interestingly I only discovered this second problem by chance. My wife wanted me to check her car engine bay and to check the water level. Since I was doing that, I decided to check my car as well. When I opened the engine bay, I noticed that black oil splashed all over the place. I have seen this before – the engine gasket worn out and the engine oil was leaking. I had the same problem once with my old car. That probably explains the loss of power when I am driving to work in the morning.

Good thing was my car’s scheduled service was coming up and despite a last minute call to the service centre, I managed to get an early appointment at about 8.30 am. I don’t want the leak to continue and damage other components. At the service centre, despite making appointment at 8.30 am, I had to wait for other cars (from previous days) to be done first and only at 10.30 am, the car was brought into the service bay. I knew the mechanic from previous visits, so standing next to him whilst he worked on my car was not a problem and he was also explaining on what he was doing. The engine oil was indeed leaking and it was time to replace the sealants and cleanup of the leaked oil.

Another cost to the car so soon after I had changed the tires. It was another costly affair but once again, it was necessary. The service took almost 3 hours to complete (partly because they had to order some of the parts) and as I chatting away with the mechanic, he asked me if I had changed the timing belt. It was time to change based on the mileage but as I checked my car service records, I don’t see any indication of the manufacturer had changed the timing belt but I can guarantee that I have adhered to the service schedule to the dot.

And I was very tempted to allow the mechanic to proceed to change the timing belt. I decided to call the other service centre to check their records and was relieved when they confirmed that the timing belt had been changed and I had nothing else to worry. The car is back to it’s perfect state and it is great to be driving again, feeling safe and confident and with a set of good music in the background, the morning traffic was not so bad and somehow and surprisingly I can find a sense of calmness to allow the morning queue jumpers, road hoggers and other morons on the road to do what they do and don’t get angry so easily (unlike the previous time).

Two incidents involving the car and it burned my pockets very badly but the fact is that no amount of money can replace one’s life and that should be the case all the time.

Being a Mean, Angry Hulk in 2016!


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(One of the best scene from the Avengers – Hulk vs a God and guess who won. I watched this scene probably hundred times and I never got bored with it. Image source: http://reactiongifs.me)

It was “bang” leaving 2015 – we all watched the new Star Wars movie and we all loved it from the start to the end.

But ever since the start of a “new” year, hardly been a time when I was not in an “angry” mode. Don’t get me wrong – I am not angry with anyone in particular but now schools have started and parents rushing to send their kids to school and then rush to work, way too many idiots have sprout out and had made things worse.

Take this morning example, there was 2 incidents of close calls between my car and another. One is after I had dropped off my kid to her kiddies, I was driving on straight road until a junction. An idiot turned to join the main lane but despite the idiot driving a small car, his turning radius unfortunately cut into my lane and that was without any warning. I high-beamed him and press my horn as well and quickly checked on my right and managed to avoid an accident with this idiot. Now here’s why I call this idiot an idiot – he was not happy I high-beamed him and started to tail-gate me. I was in disbelief but I kept my cool – I know he is not the first moron I am going to encounter this morning. After all, they do come in all shapes and sizes.

The next one happened after I wriggled out from the massive traffic jam just after the toll plaza and this was another junction. The idiot did not put up any indicators to join the main lane but somehow I was casual about it. But then it was a mistake. Just as he cut in front of me, I then noticed that the idiot was actually busy with his phone (or tab – I could not see but he was playing something on his lap). He drove slower, occasionally looking up, leaving a big gap in front and when came to another junction, he suddenly slammed his brakes and decided to change lane (the idiot has missed his turn as he was too busy with phone). It was clear that he was not focusing on his driving and the heavy traffic around him and busy with his phone. I managed to pass him and I was so pissed off that I wound down the window and showed him the finger – something I have not done for years now.

The first week of 2016 have passed and I already have turned into a mean, angry Hulk and I am not going to turn back into Bruce Banner anytime soon.

We all have walked into 2016 and despite the promise of a fresh start for the year, don’t you think there is still a very bitter feeling that nothing have changed and if we don’t do something about it, it is going to get worse?

Just look at the bullshits that had been thrown to us last year and we need to be angry when goods and services that is provided to us is way below our minimum expectations. Don’t you feel like telling the Hulk in you – “Hulk, Smash!!”?

The year 2016 has to be an Angry Year for all Malaysians and this anger at the end of the day must translate into real action (another Bersih-like street protests perhaps, registering and more importantly voting in the next election definitely, writing to spread the facts and educating others maybe, etc).

Close your eyes and think about it – there are plenty of reasons for being Angry in 2016. Let’s take a few, shall we? I know it is the tip of the iceberg!

We need to be angry on 1MDB for accumulating billions of debts through their nose and at the end of the day, sells off national assets to foreign companies. The Prime Minister and his minions are celebrating that 1MDB is in it’s way to recovery but that is not the point. Who or what caused the huge debts in the first place and why they have not been booked for high treason? Why we have not seen the fat guy in the news?

Arul Kanda has done it again. This time all the so called ‘success’ in selling off the national assets just to pay off the billions of loans they could not repay was quickly negated by their Chinese buyer merely 4 days after the ‘big announcement’. Again and again, 1MDB is exposed as a dishonest company whose words cannot be trusted.

But in the case of 1MDB, they asked people to be with them and to support them as they sell off all the crown jewels just to keep afloat. We would have expected 1MDB to pay off their debts via their profits. But at the end of the day, they had mismanaged their debts, caught themselves in financial distress, unable to fulfil all their original objectives when they set up the company, forced to admit that the company is a failure with the business model being too idealistic but, eventually had shamelessly telling the public that the process of selling off national assets just to pay off their debts is a success!

(Source)

Aren’t you angry on the rising cost of living in Malaysia? Whilst I am understand that the Government at the end of day need to remove some of the subsidies to have a more resilient economy and I support the removal of subsidies, the rush to do something and then once the arse get kicked, come out with the hands up and say that there is nothing one can do to fix the situation is simply tragic.

Still remember a Minister who said after GST, the price of goods will go down and it is best for the economy? Last year, I bought fruit juice in those small containers for RM1.20 (after the introduction of GST. It was RM0.90 before that) and moving into 2016, the lady behind the counter charged me RM1.50 for same brand fruit juice. Which Einstein said price of goods will go down after GST again?

The simplistic notion that GST is better than Sales and Service Tax (SST), all because the tax rate is lower is simply wrong. At 6%, GST may seem lower than the 10% SST, but GST is a multi-level tax, that taxes the whole supply chain whereas SST taxes the end-consumer alone.

With GST, everything is taxed unless specifically mentioned as being exempted, while SST only allows tax for items that are stated as taxable. See the difference?

GST has a wider reach, allowing the government to draw in more income at all levels of society.
The notion that all products would be cheaper by 4% is false, because this line of thinking does not take into account the multilevel nature of the GST taxation structure.

(Source)

And as if nothing worse had not happened, I was reading this in 2016:-

Malaysians should stop whining about their living costs, Umno’s Datuk Ahmad Maslan said today, adding that there was no country in the world where it would decrease.

The deputy minister of international trade and industry said Malaysians should instead change their attitude and learn to supplement their income to deal with a costlier lifestyle.

(Source)

Seriously, Sherlock?

Then again, I was not surprised – this was the same guy who asked the country to take 2nd job to supplement their income and cook their own food to avoid GST. Great and we have him in a Ministerial post.

And still remember the “donation” that some sick Arab donated to our Prime Minister for…err…for what again? Have they solved the mystery by now? There was one reason given one after another but all that did not hold water. Yup, one time they even tied up the Jews with DAP. Remember that joke?

And then in December last year, WSJ (yes the same WSJ that the Prime Minister said is going to sue their pants off  – many moons have passed and he have yet to sue them) reported this:-

The funds, Mr. Najib said, weren’t used for his personal enrichment. Instead, they were channelled to politicians or into spending on projects aimed at helping the ruling party win elections in 2013, he said, according to a cabinet minister who was present.

“I took the money to spend for us,” the minister quoted Mr. Najib as saying.

It still isn’t clear where the $700 million came from or where it went. But a six-month Wall Street Journal examination revealed that public entities spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a massive patronage machine to help ensure Mr. Najib’s United Malays National Organization stayed in power. The payments, while legal, represented a new milestone in Malaysia’s freewheeling electoral system, according to ruling-party officials.

Mr. Najib declined multiple interview requests. He has denied wrongdoing or taking money for personal gain, while defending 1MDB spending as good for Malaysia. He hasn’t explained where the $700 million in his accounts came from or how it was used.

Senior UMNO politicians have said the money was a political donation from an unnamed Middle East donor. Malaysia’s anticorruption agency has defended Mr. Najib’s right to use personal accounts for political transfers, which isn’t illegal under Malaysian law.

(Source)

To be frank, the fact that the source of the money remains a mystery itself poses a great risk to the national security. If it is from a Middle East donor as what the politicians have been saying, what is the ulterior motive for this? The Middle East is not exactly a peaceful place to be in right now. So what we suppose to in return for the very generous favor? But then again, look at the other possible source – one from WSJ – that the money came from taxpayers via various organisations linked to 1MDB and it went into a politician’s personal accounts. Doesn’t that smacks the notion of corruption, misuse of money, mismanagement, blah, blah right in the face? And yet, there are people in this country who had accepted this and sleeping well at nights. Strange indeed.

So doesn’t make a lot of sense that Malaysians in general should be and remained angry at the nonsense that had been thrown at us last year? One idiotic statement from a politician – “Hulk! Smash!!”. One more lavish expenditure by the politicians and their wives – “Hulk! Smash!!”. Any attempt to sweep the fact of corruption under the carpet – “Hulk! Smash!!”. And this anger must persist until the next general elections.

After all, Malaysians are known to forget things after some time. Throw a silly bone like a cross on a roof of house and the whole country forgets the USD700 million that went into a politician’s pockets. Race and religion remains our Achilles’ heel, our curse, our fate and all you need for some moron to raise something racial or religions, the rest of the country drops their pants and runs in the wrong direction. Wake up people – there are issues bigger than a design that looks like a cross. So remain mean and angry and accept nothing less than high quality goods and services and strive to vote out the people who are running the show for their self benefit and not the country.

And remember – “Hulk! Smash!!”

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.

Off to a Funeral


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(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.