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…

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The War on Perception


Perception is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical or chemical stimulation of the sense organs. For example, vision involves light striking the retina of the eye, smell is mediated by odour molecules, and hearing involves pressure waves. Perception is not the passive receipt of these signals, but is shaped by learning, memory, expectation, and attention (Source: Wikipedia)

(Interesting and well made advertisements on how not to judge someone / something too quickly. However not all can be subjected to these kind of presumptions – some politicians are dumb to the core)

Last week have been an interesting week…

After several times my wife complained requested me to take a look at the bathroom sink that was leaking water (something that I had tried to fix twice but nothing changed), I decided to do it professionally. Actually my wife wanted me to engage our usual handy-man to come and fix it. I know that those guys will easily charge me RM200 – RM300 for the job, so I told her to hold on to her horses for one final time and let me fix the leak for good this time. And this time I did not rush like the previous 2 times and there was no shortcuts as well. I took my time – took off the sink from the hook, unscrewed the pipes and checked the damage on the hooks & the screws that was holding it. This time I measured everything twice too.

The problem was the wall hook that held the sink – portion of the wall was broken and one of the screw was even broken and that caused the wall hook to be loose. Somehow this was expected after years of use & abuse. This needed to be fix. I had some leftover cement from other DIY projects, so I saved up on “plastering” the damaged wall. I got new screws and added wall plugs to ensure a stronger hold of the wall hooks. And to be extra sure, I barred anyone from using the bathroom until the cement really dried. I even washed the sink and replaced the pipe head. And I tested the hook for the final time before I placed back the sink on the hook. It held well and the leak had finally stopped. The only mystery after all the hard, sweaty work doing up the sink was a leftover pipe screw. Somewhere I missed screwing this back when I fixed the pipes back but since nothing was leaking, I had nothing to worry. Issued solved and it only cost me RM40 (RM38 was for the pipe head).

Moving on a broader spectrum issue – the other interesting news last week had been on DAP. Surprisingly they seems to be in the limelight almost on daily basis (for the wrong reasons) and that got me a bit curious.

In the past, when one needs a distraction from the real issues, one of the easy way out would be to blame it on the “other guys”. Sometimes it is the non-Malays, the non-Muslims, some dumb architecture (still remember the cross like shape on a roof of a house?) and of course, the “Chinese based” opposition political party. Still remember how at one point, they claimed that the RM2.6 billion donation was given by the Jews for DAP?

In my opinion, of the many political parties out there and the quality of politicians, DAP probably stands the best chance when it comes to fair representation of what’s right and wrong in this country, quality of politicians and the seriousness of issues raised. Next in the long run would be PKR although they have been shooting in the leg too many times with dumb decisions. Composition wise, yes, there are more Chinese and Indians in DAP than the Malays but does it really matter if we all want to be treated equal as Malaysians? Despite some shortcomings in the past and mind you, not all in DAP are angels, DAP as whole had been idealistic, rationale, consistent, focused and strive to put the national interests ahead of race and religion which makes it an attractive package for the younger generation.

But given the continuous bad press on DAP and coupled with the allegations that they are out to trap and cheat the Malays, I think DAP need to do more on the battlefront of perception in this country. This could be one of the factor why DAP have been lacking, to some extent, the right aura to attract a wider participation from the Malays. After all, Malays have more options, both at the ruling side and the opposition to pick their battles front and the last thing they may want to pick is a Chinese dominant political party. There is always the fear that the Malay rights and their community grievousness may be drown by other issues.

Let’s analyse some of the allegations made on DAP over the past weeks – some of these allegations are nothing new but it keeps resurfacing over & over again like a broken record:-

DAP – Anti Islam & Anti Malay

DAP can no longer afford to ignore efforts by rivals to portray it as anti-Islam and Malay after a recent survey found the campaign to be gaining traction, said Lim Kit Siang.

Results of the IDE survey showed that DAP was viewed as anti-Malay and Islam, particularly by members of the Malay community in rural areas where they party is traditionally weakest and rivals Umno and PAS, strongest.

Over two thirds of respondents also considered DAP to be a racist party that was concerned only about the interests of the Chinese community.

According to the IDE, efforts to vilify DAP accelerated following the breakup of the Pakatan Rakyat pact, with former ally PAS adding its efforts to Umno’s in attacking the secular party using religious issues.

(Source)

Threat to Malay Unity

Cheras Umno chief Syed Ali Alhabshee today warned aspiring Malay politicians against being “trapped into becoming DAP’s tool for splitting the Malays”.

He said these Malays were so eager to become members of parliament after the next general election that they had disregarded the importance of ensuring Malay unity.

He said the “racist DAP” would make “all kinds of promises” to the Malays in an attempt to ensure the success of its programme to topple Umno.

(Source)

Lost of Malay Political Power

Lim Kit Siang demanded today that Datuk Seri Najib Razak and propagandists from Umno explain how the Malays would lose political power entirely to the DAP if the ruling party were to lose the next general election.

“Surely Najib and Umno propagandists are not insinuating that the Malays in the country are simpletons, who have no intelligence or capability, that despite comprising some 60 per cent of the population in Malaysia and being the majority voters in 70 per cent of the parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia… the Malays can lose political power to the Chinese — especially with a decreasing Chinese population as compared to the Malays?” Lim asked.

(Source)

Internal Resistance to Change

Explaining at a forum here, Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming claimed that even within the party, many members have been against the idea of increasing DAP’s Malay membership and this has created a conundrum for the Chinese-dominated party.

“The dilemma is, there are many leaders who want DAP to add Malay and Bumiputera members from Sabah and Sarawak. It’s a good strategy to reduce the chauvinist views of the party. But when this was raised, members themselves were uneasy with the proposal that DAP wants 50 per cent to be Malays and Bumiputeras.

“We want to reduce that perception. We want to increase the membership but there is internal resistance,” he said during the Pakatan Harapan forum titled “Can the opposition party win the Malay votes during GE14?” last night.

(Source)

In this country where race and religion had been used as a ready excuse to distract the nation from greater & pressing issues, it is very easy to label a largely non Malay and non Muslim political party as anti Malay and anti Islam.

Yes, DAP had voiced out against the call to implement an Islamic State in this country and they are dead centre against the implementation of PAS’ hudud. But does that makes them as anti Malay / anti Islam? Think about it again. The notion of an Islamic State had been controversial, more often when there are people who claims that our fore-fathers had always intended this country to be one of a secular with Islam as the official religion instead of a straight-forward Islamic State.

The late Karpal Singh argued the same and so did the first Prime Minister.

On the occasion of Malaysia’s first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman’s 80th birthday, he stated in the 9 February 1983 edition of the newspaper The Star that the “country has a multi-racial population with various beliefs. Malaysia must continue as a secular State with Islam as the official religion”.

In the same issue of The Star, Abdul Rahman was supported by the third Malaysian Prime Minister, Hussein Onn, who stated that the “nation can still be functional as a secular state with Islam as the official religion.”

(Source)

And this,

Citing historical documents such as the Alliance Memorandum submitted to the Reid Commission in 1956, and the white paper issued by the British government in June 1957, the council pointed out there was no historical document to contradict the fact that Malaysia was intended to be a secular state.

The Alliance Memorandum was jointly submitted by Umno, MCA and MIC to the Reid Commission and specifically stated that they wanted a secular state, although the religion of the state was to be Islam.

(Source)

And talking about hudud, it is a fact that the opposition to hudud did not come from DAP alone. MCA was against hudud as well and so did a good number of Muslims in this country. Most times, the opposition to hudud has not on the issue of concept but rather on the issue of implementation. Further there is the unsettled question of why the need to introduce 2 types of laws in a secular country? Why we cannot simply improve the existing laws and move on? And if indeed DAP is anti Islam, then why more have been done for the Muslims under the DAP lead Penang State Government? They could have maintained the status quo or even reduced allocations / support for the Muslims but they did not.

Probably the best statement came from a PAS politician who said this:-

He said DAP’s opposition to hudud was based on constitutional arguments and declared that the party had never been antagonistic towards Muslims or Islam, citing its support for flood victims in Kelantan, nearly all of whom are Muslims. He pointed out that the help included the repair of mosques and prayer halls.

He also said DAP had, “in many cases,” given its full support to the cause of Islamic education in Selangor and Penang. “DAP is committed to the Federal Constitution, which means that they accept that Islam is the religion of the federation and they have never challenged that,” he added.

(Source)

Another mantra that is often use to demonise DAP is that the Malays will lose power if they vote for DAP, a “Chinese” political party. A fictional scenario comes to mind at this point.

Well, as Uncle Lim had rightfully mentioned – it is impossible for that to happen. And mathematically DAP have a disadvantage too – it does not have the numbers or seats to win enough to be in power alone. And that is why they need the coalition partners of PKR and now PAN (Parti Amanah Negara) who is made off ex-PAS members to even make a dent against the stronger & well-oiled Barisan Nasional. DAP had hardly contested against UMNO in a predominately Malay areas (they only had 2 such encounters in the last general elections and 2 seats is nothing to shout about) and history have shown that DAP cannot force others in the loose coalition of DAP-PKR-PAS/PAN to follow whatever that DAP have decided – still remember PKR’s Kajang Move and their choice for Selangor MB? In the end, PAS showed their middle finger to both DAP & PKR.

And remember, PKR and PAN has overwhelming membership from the Malay community (although PKR is another multi-racial party to watch out, very closely) and they can make the necessary check and balance if in the wildest assumption that DAP decided to make things harder for the Malays. DAP knows this too – even with their strong belief of “Malaysian Malaysia“, with almost 60% of the electoral consist of Malay votes – anything to upset the community would be a political suicide for DAP.

And don’t you think that it is a irony that these allegations of DAP will curtail the political powers of the Malays comes from the very people who have used the notion of race and fight for Malay powers to leech the power and richness from the community?

Moving on Malay unity and the reason why Malays are joining DAP – it seems to be nothing but a cast of fear for potential Malays from joining DAP. Think about it for second. Seriously, how much of Malay unity is needed as oppose to the fight against corruption, unfair & double standards of law that is currently impacting all class of Malaysians? Why there has not been any “Red Shirt” rallies for abuse of power and mismanagement of public funds which impacts the Malays themselves? Comically, we have seen a bigger riot in support of a phone thief.

And don’t you think that it is an insult to say that aspiring young Malay politicians joined DAP for the sole reason of wanting to be members of parliament? Have you talked to them and asked why they joined DAP? There are very brilliant, energetic and young Malay politicians in DAP and frankly speaking, it is a brilliant move both for the young politicians and DAP itself. There will come a time when they will do their best for the country if given the right opportunity. Even the national laureate Datuk A. Samad Said is a DAP member and he was 80 years old when he joined last year. Is he another power hungry politicians seeking for high power and status?

The allegations of resistance to new membership is something factual and one that needs to be contained and quickly resolved if DAP do truly want to be a multi racial party that it wants others to see. Change is something that will happen and so does resistance to change. It depends on its leaders and members on how fast they want the change to be. And trust me, they don’t have the luxury of time. Malaysia’s economy and political rule has been on the slide for some time now – something that is made worse by global oil price and scandals & mismanagement back home.

Thus the window for change is shrinking fast and the members must be open to receive more members from other community. After all, at the end of the day, they are Malaysians too and they are on the same boat & path as the rest of us. And if the resistance persisted, then there is no difference of some politicians demonising the non-Malays to garner free support from the Malays. And even worse, all the incorrect statements of DAP namely it is a Chinese party and is anti Malay may end up to be true.

DAP need to strive on 2 main perceptions that is even more damaging that the so-called of claims of it’s being anti Malay or anti Islam – one that there is no hope for the Malays in DAP and that it is merely using the Malays for it’s own survival and two that the DAP members themselves are not ready for a greater participation and membership of the Malays in the party and the call for more Malay members is a sham. Address these 2 incorrect perceptions on a greater scale and over time, this itself will address the distorted picture that DAP is anti Malay and anti Islam.

DAP need to change and truly represent themselves as multi-race and multi-religion before they can call themselves to do better at the national level. After all, no matter what our race, religion, culture or political beliefs are but in the end, we are all in the same boat.

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!!”

Malaysia: Leading vs Managing


It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. —Nelson Mandela

I almost forgot I had a blog…seriously

Politics (not to mention our currency) have take a good beating in the last few weeks and all sign on the wall does not seems to say it is all well in the Bolehland. The country is facing a serious lack of leadership if you have not noticed this by now.

Leadership has always been my favorite subject mainly because it is fascinating to see how some ordinary people found that special will, power and determination to bring a group of people, company and even a nation from the brink of disaster or crisis and remained a beacon of hope and inspiration to others. Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and even our own Tunku Abdul Rahman are just some of the leaders that we can read from the history pages but there are many leaders in the corporate world, politics and community that have done things that simply amazing.

It is also my favorite subject because in my daily working life, I have to take up the role of a leader and thus expected to make good decisions that a good leader is expected to be. Then again, I am also expected to both lead and manage – we will come to the differences in a short while. Some are simply natural born leaders – such as one of my ex-bosses. Some are trained to be leaders but still struggling to find the right foot hold on the idea of leadership.

As I said, the country is facing a serious lack of leadership if you have not noticed this by now.

I am not talking about the Prime Minister remaining to be defiant on the question of RM2.6 billion “donation” and acts like nothing wrong had happened. It was rather comical AND embarrassing when Malaysia hosted the International Anti-Corruption Conference last September and it did not take long for the participants (Transparency International Chief Jose Ugaz in particular) to whack the Prime Minister on the RM2.6 billion donation.

Tunku Abdul Rahman was known as the Father of the Nation and marked his leadership with getting independence for this great nation. Tun Abdul Razak was the Father of Development (the famed FELDA was established under his premiership). Hussein Onn was the Father of National Unity and finally Dr M was the real architect in modernising the country. And despite all the shortcomings, the Old Man did come up with a proper vision for the future – Vision 2020.

After Dr M, the country’s leadership took a back seat and the deterioration started with Pak Lah. Other than nice to hear slogans such as “work with me, don’t work for me” and “1Malaysia” nothing much change yet to be seen over the horizon. The bigger question will then be – are we running out of good leaders to lead this country? And secondly, can we get one in before it is too late? And who do we need the most at this juncture when the economy is not doing that well – good leaders or good managers?

And mind you that leadership and management are 2 different things but as usual as I often find out, the line between the 2 is often blurred.

Leadership and management must go hand in hand. They are not the same thing. But they are necessarily linked, and complementary. Any effort to separate the two is likely to cause more problems than it solves.

Still, much ink has been spent delineating the differences. The manager’s job is to plan, organize and coordinate. The leader’s job is to inspire and motivate.

In his 1989 book “On Becoming a Leader,” Warren Bennis composed a list of the differences:

– The manager administers; the leader innovates.
– The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.
– The manager maintains; the leader develops.
– The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.
– The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
– The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.
– The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.
– The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon.
– The manager imitates; the leader originates.
– The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.
– The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.
– The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

Perhaps there was a time when the calling of the manager and that of the leader could be separated. A foreman in an industrial-era factory probably didn’t have to give much thought to what he was producing or to the people who were producing it. His or her job was to follow orders, organize the work, assign the right people to the necessary tasks, coordinate the results, and ensure the job got done as ordered. The focus was on efficiency.

(Source)

To be frank, there is no short of managers in this country especially when it comes to politics. We have some of the most brilliant minds in public service and the private sectors. That is almost guaranteed. We can manage things well, sometimes too well. Ever heard the notion of “first class infrastructure, third class mentality”? Yup, that’s Malaysia right there.

However, recently there is a feeling of stagnancy (and no thanks to the dreadful haze) and the feeling is all over the place – the economy, people, education, environment, etc. Increasingly we are looking at 2 faced leaders who says one thing and do another. We had rallies but it ended up making things worse and hardly helping the country as whole. Leadership, it is missing now.

Until next time…

A Long, Long Way from Pluto


We have passed the half way of this year and considering what we have gone through so far, one hopes that the year would end sooner than expected. But before that, when it comes to the topic of science and space, 3 things would have made the year 2015 very sweet indeed.

One would be the NASA spacecraft New Horizons

NHHopkinsPoster_posterSize

(Poster source: http://www.theplanetstoday.com/)

The spacecraft which had reached the planet Pluto (yes, it is a planet) is now one of the fastest man made craft with relative velocity of 49,600 km/h – the record is still held by Voyager 1, currently traveling at 61,720 km/h relative to the Sun. And frankly speaking Pluto never looked so beautiful before this and with radio signals taking four and a half hours to travel between the spacecraft and Earth, the spacecraft can only transmit data at 1 to 2 Kbps, which means that the transmission of all data (for last 10 years) will require sixteen months (source: Wikipedia).

And that 16 months is only on the download of data and not excluding the months, even years of data analysis. And if you had watched the documentary on New Horizons, the journey to Pluto is no small feat either – the journey itself took almost 10 years (to be more accurate – 9 years, 5 months and 25 days) and a journey of 7.5 billion kilometers and avoiding the various mechanical and debris that could have disabled the spacecraft on the spot.

This mission was a big success indeed and that is not the end of the story

Gladman said the chance of it visiting a third object after that is “pretty slim” as the density of objects in the Kuiper Belt falls off further away from the sun. However, there is one last thing scientists hope New Horizons will explore — one of the boundaries of the solar system.

The boundary of the heliosphere is where the sun’s magnetic field and solar winds lose their power. New Horizons is expected to reach that boundary in about 20 years, with a much more complete set of instruments than the Voyager 1 spacecraft did when it hit the edge of the heliosphere in 2013. While many of Voyager’s instruments had failed by that point, Green says, New Horizons’ instruments are “very healthy” and are expected to be able to take very good measurements of the solar wind as it exits the heliosphere.

(Source)

The next thing that is going to make this year really, really sweet is the next installment of the Star Wars and one that brings back very familiar faces (we will miss Master Yoda though).

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is expected to hit the local cinemas sometime in December 2015. It is set 30 years after the events in the Return of the Jedi. I am huge fan of Star Wars franchise and even though I missed watching the original movies in cinema, I made sure I watched them again when George Lucas released them again – the special edition ones. I lost count the number of times I watched the first Star Wars movie – probably more than 50 times over the years. And I have done the same for all installment of Star Wars movies todate. It is going to be the same coming December.

And finally, the discovery of Earth 2.0

earth 20 large

(Image source: NASA)

With more discoveries that we expect to make in the near future and planned man journey to Mars, we are going to have very interesting time sending spacecrafts and understanding of the universe.

Scientists on the hunt for extraterrestrial life have discovered “the closest twin to Earth” outside the solar system, NASA announced on Thursday.

Working off four years’ worth of data from the Kepler space telescope, researchers from NASA, the Seti Institute and several universities announced the new exoplanet along with 12 possible “habitable” other exoplanets and 500 new candidates in total. The new planet, named Kepler 452b, is “the closest twin to Earth, or the Earth 2.0 that we’ve found so far in the dataset”, said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for Nasa’s mission directorate.

The research suggests 452b has five times the mass of Earth, is about 1.5bn years older, and has a gravity about twice as powerful as our own. About 1,400 light years away, Kepler 452b orbits a star similar to our sun, and at about the same distances as Earth orbits the sun, meaning it has a similar length year and exists in the “habitable zone” where liquid water can exist on a planet.

(Source)

I too have been traveling lately but I did not miss catching up on the latest on the scandal involving Najib & his wife (yes, the one who admitted that the account that had RM2 million belonged to her). Some politicians are claiming that it is nothing but attempts to bring down a democratically elected government. But seriously think about all the nonsense that the current government have done when it comes to management of taxpayers money and you will seriously doubt it’s innocence.

To be frank, there have been too many smoking guns – from Sarawak Report, the Edge, WSJ, opposition politicians and even from the Task Force themselves and one cannot simply ignore it. After all, despite of all the very damaging expose, Najib or his wife have yet to bring any civil suit against Sarawak Report, the Edge or WSJ. The request for information on the WSJ was rebuked by WSJ by asking the lawyer acting for Najib to go and read themselves the articles which they say is “self explanatory”. One only have to say “ouchhh!!”. There was plenty of psychological warfare at both ends and to some extent it did create plenty of confusion. There were even 2 bankruptees in the picture.

However, the fact that Najib & Rosmah neither denied that the accounts belonged to them or took swift legal actions, this seemed to imply that the allegations may not just be allegations. One just hopes that the investigators are hard at work to bring to bring out the truth. After all, no one is above the law.

And the latest expose came from The Edge and the media statement from the publishers of the The Edge nails the aspiration of the people who are tired with the rampant daylight robbery and abuse of taxpayers money & trust. Read the main report here

And for those people who like to use the Non Malays (especially the Chinese) as the bogeyman for all things wrong in this country, you need to re-read the media statement again and again to know that it does not matter if you are a Malay, Chinese, Indian or others, we are all in the same boat and in the same situation. We can close one eye to it and wait for it to come back and bite us on the back or take proactive action and this includes reading and getting all information in place and when the time comes to pick the right people, make your vote count for the right reasons.

And as expected, the reaction from the Government was lame and predictable. A number of people who had reported and questioned on the dealing have been barred from leaving the country and possibly under investigations themselves, possibly for conspiring to topple a democratically elected government under section 124 of the Penal Code. And The Edge now faces 3 months suspension for reporting on the 1MDB:-

A letter from KDN stated that the two publications’ reporting of 1MDB were “prejudicial or likely to be prejudicial to public order, security or likely to alarm public opinion or is likely to be prejudicial to public and national interest”.

Failure to stop publication for three months will result in the withdrawal of the publishing permits, the KDN letter said. The Edge Media Group publisher and chief executive officer Ho Kay Tat expressed disappointment with KDN’s decision.

“We don’t see how exposing the scam to cheat the people of Malaysia of billions of ringgit can be construed as being detrimental to public and national interest,” said Ho. “This is nothing more than a move to shut us down in order to shut us up.”

(Source)

One have to wonder how one topples a democratically elected government or prejudicial to public order & security to by exposing what went wrong and who did wrong. Which is of the two the bigger evil – this needs to be answered.

And that reminded me of the movie “Sivaji The Boss” which I saw back in 2007 and saw again last week on my flight back. The opening scene is the hero is led to the prison by the police and with the face hidden and amidst huge protest from the public and anger from corrupt politicians & businessmen. In the prison cell, the man in the next cell asks why the hero is in the prison. He ask if the hero had murdered anyone or whether he had cheated the public or whether he had taken sex movies and released them in the internet. The hero will say no to all three suggestion. The man then ask why he is in prison then. The hero will say that he had try to do good for the public. The man then says that the hero deserves to be in prison.

We are going through the same predicament and one just hopes that Malaysians have a clear mind on what need to be done for the country and clean up the system from down to top and not be influenced or involved in cheap politics by people with wrong agenda and purpose. One case stupidity in play was the recent riot at Low Yat. It had nothing to do with race but a small incident of crime unfortunately turned into a major fiasco.

We already missed to boat for a developed nation by the year 2020. It probably will take another 50 years to make this dream to come true.

We already placed the wrong priorities on learning Mathematics and Science by not teaching them in English

We already thinking very little on national unity and the riot at Low Yat simply enforces that notion that people in this country remains divided on petty things

We already ranked up one of the biggest financial scandals in the country’s history and yet no one had resigned or made accountable (despite arrests and travel bans)

This country and its people deserves something much better than the sickening and cheap politics and scandals after scandals. We as humans are making good ways in science and space and this year alone, we had made big leaps in this area. But unfortunately we had hardly moved from our narrow minds in this country. There is a rule of law in this country and adherence to good governance and uploading of fair treatments for all. We may have lost out in picking the right people to administer this country in the last general elections but it should not stop us from making the right decisions in the next one. The country’s good name have taken a good beating in the last 2 years and it has seen it’s share of tragedy which included lost of 2 planes. It’s time to make things right and put things in order.

Vision 2020: Within our Sight?


1mdb_after

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source)

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

Off the internet, it means this:-

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

(Source)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source)

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

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

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

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

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