Chennai Floods & Prepping


Read these first:-

I am still on hiatus, hopefully not for long

Chennai-flood-EPS

(Image source: http://www.newindianexpress.com)

Let’s talk about prepping which is another key aspect of this blog (the other is how Malaysians drive on the road and of course politics) and on the recent disaster in Chennai, India.

The 2015 South Indian floods resulted from heavy rainfall during the annual northeast monsoon in November–December 2015. They affected the Coromandel Coast region of the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, and the union territory of Puducherry, with Tamil Nadu and the city of Chennai particularly hard-hit.

More than 400 people were killed and over 1.8 million people were displaced. With estimates of damages and losses ranging from over ₹20000 crore (US$3 billion) to ₹100000 crore (US$15 billion), the floods are the costliest to have occurred in 2015, and are among the costliest natural disasters of the year. The flooding has been attributed to the El Niño phenomenon during the El Niño year of 2015.

(Source)

I have friends, colleagues and distant relatives who are working and staying in Chennai and I know they have been badly hit by the flood.

For past 3-4 days of flooding, they had no electricity, running water, access to cooked food & drinking water, access to ATM and petrol and in some serious cases, even a place to stay. There had been reports of scores of people who had made it to the high grounds with just the clothes that they had wearing. They lost everything. It was a wreck to see small kids among those camped out waiting for the flood water to recede. An ideal doomsday scenario. And it is not over yet, the massive cleanup and getting back to the daily routine before the tragedy will take time and a lot of money and resources.

One cannot deny that Malaysia too is facing similar scenario on a daily basis but where credit is due and perhaps because we have been dealing yearly flooding since day 1, the response time and pre-flood emergency preparations by Malaysian Government seems to be much better than of the Tamil Nadu State Government.

Several flood mitigation initiatives have been undertaken by the various agencies, particularly the Department of Irrigation and Drainage, under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Among such projects are the construction of flood plains, cantilever walls, tidal barrages, tidal gates, river channels and levees, pumping stations, debris removal systems, monsoon drains, retention and detention ponds, and dams.

The most high-profile mega project was the Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART) in Kuala Lumpur. Several forecasting warning system also exist to predict flooding instances, such as flood maps, telemetric rainfall stations, telemetric water level stations, manual stick gauges, flood warning boards, flood sirens, weather radar, satellites, and real-time flood forecasting warning systems.

(Source : Centre for Public Policy Studies)

At the end of the day, it is all about preparation, preparation and preparation and a good sense of paranoia (yes believe in Murphy’s law)

And talking about prepping for flood, it is crucial to have a good pre-flood planning and there must be at least 1 bug-out-bag prepped upfront before the flood and be ready with all the essential items.

The American Red Cross suggest these items to be available – packed and ready to go in case one need to evacuate the home:-

Water—at least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day
Food—at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
Flashlight
Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
Extra batteries
First Aid kit
Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
Multi-purpose tool
Sanitation and personal hygiene items
Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, deed/lease to home, birth certificates, insurance policies)
Cell phone with chargers
Family and emergency contact information
Extra cash
Emergency blanket
Map(s) of the area
Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
Tools/supplies for securing your home
Extra set of car keys and house keys
Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
Rain gear
Insect repellent and sunscreen
Camera for photos of damage

(Source)

hdcc_map_floods

(Future of global flooding – it is not going to end there. Source)

And that had me thinking on how early prepping could have made some difference in the aftermath of the worst flooding that Chennai had faced. Let’s list out the immediate concerns of the Chennai flood victims and then go back and see what they could have done or rather need to do for the next on-slaught of a similar flooding in the coming years.

1. Lack of Shelter

If there is risk of flooding, the first rule of risk management recommends risk avoidance and if not possible, at least some sense of risk mitigation. If possible, ensure the house is sitting on high grounds (not necessarily be on top of hills) or at least the foundation is higher than the rest.

In Chennai, whilst it is not possible for someone to look for hills to build houses but the other option available is staying in multi storey building. However even though those who had more than 1 floor of occupied space spared better but without electricity and running water, staying out longer would not been feasible

2. Lack of Food & Drinking Water

With most shops flooded, no running water and access roads blocked, many have to make do with whatever food they managed to salvage. Interestingly there was a piece in the news where the flood victims had no water to drink but alcohol selling shops up and running and having a booming business. In times of dire, it was astounding to know that alcohol is readily available than drinking water which means the liquor sellers were far more efficient than the state government.

To make things worse, shops that had food and water for sale, started selling them for exorbitant price.

And that means in the future, the residents must get ready with their bug out bag stocked with drinking water for at least 48 hours.

3. Lack of Money / Access to ATM

When disaster strikes, resources will be scare and limited and there will be people will to kill others to get access to these limited resources. And those who have that limited resources – shelter, food, water, medicines, transportation, etc will definitely take advantage of the situation (and they did in Chennai, big time).

Having money at hand will be a big, big advantage

4. Lack of Clothes for Change

Imagine this – your house is flooded and you had to abandon it to high grounds. You only managed to grab a few items before it becomes too late. You make it to high ground and you are wet, tired and cold and it is dark outside. And it starts to rain again and it does so for the next 2-3 days.

Trust me, having a change of clean, dry clothes goes a long way to comfort you and somehow replenish you spiritually for days ahead.

5. Lost of Important Documents

One rule that I enforce in the house is that all import documents are properly filed with a plastic cover and when the time comes to leave the house due to an emergency, we know where the documents are and easier to grab and leave. Having important documents especially identification documents is crucial especially aftermath when one need to get back on the routine.

6. Lack of Means of Transportation

The key advise here is to keep track of the news & updates on the weather and the local happenings. This is one reason why I am religiously watch the news first thing in the morning and before going to bed and ensure I get updates from other sources.

I am not sure if early warning was given before it was too late to do anything.

There were reports of people not getting sufficient warning and they only had minutes before it was too late to do anything. Scores of tourists from Malaysia were stranded in Chennai and missed their flights out from the country. Another aspect of transportation is the lack of fuel for the car / motorcycle. With the flood, there is a complete shutdown of the petrol stations around the city and even if they are opened, they don’t have the supply replenished in time. It is time to ensure that there is enough fuel in the vehicles at any one time and workout the alternate route and mode of transportation when roads are closed.

7. Lack of Communication

Even if you have a working telecommunications line working, if your phone battery is dead, you are back to square one and you know how power hungry smartphones are. A dead phone may even end up dangerous option if you are unable to call for help. And with family members separated, it is important to inform others where you are now and whether you are safe or not and if you need any help. Spare battery and power banks are life savers in this modern age and some power banks even now comes with option to charge using solar energy.

Now Chennai is getting back on its feet and there is a massive clean up before things can go back to routine (of course with a lot of finger pointing politically). The same in Malaysia – until today victims of flood is the East Coast still struggling and have not gone back to home. But the reality of things is this – such massive flood is not going to end and with a drastic change in the global weather over the past years, it is only a start.

It is time for preparation – this is not the end of things for sure

Advertisements

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…

It’s the Jews, Damn It!!!


11834808_500311580147364_4479942025667390252_o

(Bullshit!!!! The Old Man’s reaction when he heard that some mysterious donors from the Middle East had donated some USD700 million (RM2.6 billion ringgit) into Najib’s  personal account and the reason for the donation had been spiraling down into realms of stupidity and absurd. Poster source: Suara Rakyat)

One way or another, I was expecting someone to pull in the Jews into the picture. Doesn’t it been the case whenever things gets screwed big time. I was right and this time they included DAP for the ride as well.

Seriously I am not sure what is more pathetic in this country – a minister making dumb statements or a dumb politician appointed as a minister. The second pathetic thing is there is equally dumb crowd listening to the dumb statements and agreeing with it. Seriously, just how low and dumb you can be was the question that I had in my mind when I read this:-

Online catcalls and jeers erupted today after Umno members in Johor were given the latest reason for a RM2.6 billion “donation” to Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts. It was to fight the DAP, “which is funded by Jews”, at the 2013 elections, they were told.

The new explanation came soon after Umno vice-president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had told members of Sri Gading Umno that the Middle Eastern donor had wanted to ensure Malaysia remained a Sunni country through an election victory for the Barisan Nasional and Umno in 2013.

After Zahid’s speech, division leader Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said the donor had feared that Jewish influences would permeate the country through the DAP and destroy the “Islamic government” led by Barisan Nasional and because Najib was seen to be a great Muslim leader in the region.

“If we had lost, DAP would be in power. DAP with its Jewish funding would control this country. Based on that, our Muslim friends in the Middle East could see the Jewish threat through DAP,” said Aziz, who is deputy transport minister in Najib’s cabinet.

“The Islamic government would be overthrown, and that would harm the struggle to promote Islam throughout the world,” Aziz said, according to Malaysian Insider.

Aziz said he was confused why Malays had questioned the donation. “Haven’t you ever given donations? It is encouraged in Islam. The more you donate, the more rewards (pahala) you get,” he said.

He said Umno was the only party that could stop the Jews from taking over the country through the DAP. “Believe me, if the foreigners succeed in splitting us apart, there will be no more Malay party strong enough to fight DAP, which is based on and funded by the Jews,” Aziz was quoted as saying.

(Source)

The whole country is now seeing stupidity on the grandest scale – just to cover up the corruption, abuse of power and total ignorant of rule of law. And of course, to ensure uneducated and die-hard party workers from questioning the party leaders on their acts, their loyalty is now questioned. And if that fails, the usual mantra of threats to the Malay dominance and the official religion of Islam is brought into the picture to divert the attention of the nation. What does RM2.6 billion into a politician’s personal account and hiding the reason & the source got to do with upholding Islam?

First there was allegation that some of the 1MDB’s money went into Najib’s personal account (let’s not even venture to the mismanagement and high debts of 1MDB)

At first they denied it, they said it is a fake and Najib is not an idiot to put the money in his personal account.

Then it was found to be true and Najib remained silent despite the speculations on the money were flying left, right and centre

It is a donation, said the MACC but no explanation was given why the money was donated in the first place and why it has to go went into someone personal account

Then an idiot came up with the reason that it was donated by the Saudis for Malaysia’s fight against ISIS. Then this was proven to be wrong when it was shown that the money went into the personal account before ISIS became a threat.

Then someone mentioned that the money came from UMNO‘s supporters (in the Middle East?) for the party’s funding for the general election. Once again, there were doubts because the Deputy Prime Minister had no knowledge of this donation and why it had to go into the personal account and not to the party’s account. And even so, this is a serious breach of the election laws

And now comes another idiotic reason for the donation – it is to fight DAP who is funded by the Jews

Noticed how the reason for the RM2.6 billion “donation” keeps changing on a daily basis and yet the real reason for the donation remain illusive? As at now, no one had even sued WSJ or Sarawak Report or even The Edge for the allegations – if true the allegations are false and fake? They banned The Edge for no good reason and tried to block the access to Sarawak Report. They hardly caused a ripple with WSJ on the proposed legal suits. And at one point, these jokers even wanted to form a task force to investigate the funding for political parties but it seemed to be focused on the funding for the opposition parties and not themselves. They acted as if they did not do anything wrong and innocent to the core.

Now they are saying that the RM2.6 billion is to fight the DAP who are funded by the Jews. Why does the Jews are targeting the Sunnis and not the Shiahs – you all know how tense things are between the Jews and the Iranians? And why it has to be limited to general elections and why DAP is not under police investigations IF DAP is indeed being funded by the Jews? And what does Middle Eastern donor intend to gain from ensuring Malaysia remained a Sunni country? And how DAP is now linked to the Jews when in the past, they were heavily promoted by the establishment as being closely linked to the communist?

Ok never mind, for argument sake, let’s assume that DAP indeed being funded by the Jews, does it really need RM2.6 billion to counter and fight them?

“I don’t care if Umno leaders want to show their stupidity but do not fool the rakyat and think that Malaysians have no brains to think,” he added.

He said if what Aziz had said was true, the matter would have been exposed during the GE13 campaign period by Umno propagandists to “destroy” DAP and not revealed some 27 months later.

“For the record, DAP only faced Umno in two parliamentary seats –Gelang Patah in Johor and Sepanggar in Sabah in GE13.

“Did Umno need RM2.6 billion to fight DAP in those two parliamentary seats?

Altogether, DAP had contested in 51 out of 222 seats. Even if DAP had won all 51, there was no way we could have formed the government on our own,” Loke said.

(Source)

The ringgit have been taking heavy beating in the past few months and impact on this on the national economy is not going to be easy. Imports are going to be too expensive and don’t be surprised if soon Malaysian are going to pay through their noses for basic goods.

Some civil servants investigating the dubious transactions have been terminated, transferred and have been investigated themselves. Where is the independence of the enforcement agencies and their rightful powers under the law? The rule of law have indeed been turned upside down.

The proposed vote of no confidence and the up-coming Bersih 4 is now seemed to be a threat to the whole process of democracy when it is absolute legal and permitted under the law. Malaysians who simply want the truthful answer and accountability are simply looked upon as the enemy of the state. Didn’t the same thing happened in Perak?

And the fact that money have been received from some donors from the Middle East (a fact that has not been denied, yet) and that was used in the last general elections (to fight the DAP or to ensure BN stays in power) sound so incorrect. It clearly means that a foreign country is meddling and influencing the outcome of the election. This is a real threat to the democracy process in this country.

And the last thing that is making things worse are statements justifying the RM2.6 billion that is getting dumber and dumber by the days.

Please stop taking Malaysians for a ride and tell us the truth.

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.

Sarawak Report Expose on 1MDB


1mdb-01

(A 42 billion time bomb that had already exploded on everyone’s face but a lot of people in this country are not aware of the blast – no thanks to a sneaky fat guy and a clueless PM. Until today, I am lost why they put billions of taxpayers money in Cayman Island unless it is meant for some shady deal. Infographic source: http://poskod.my/cheat-sheets/10-things-know-1mdb/)

In a country where the police chief can take action based on tweets and Facebook postings, there is only eerie silence by the police, MACC, Bank Negara and the pro-Government politicians on the largest scandal expose by Sarawak Report on the 1MDB

And if you have missed the story, the crux of the expose has been this:-

Together with London’s Sunday Times newspaper, Sarawak Report has completed an in-depth investigation into the trail of the missing billions at the heart of Malaysia’s 1MDB (One Malaysia Development Berhad) financial scandal.

We have obtained access to thousands of documents and emails relating to transactions by 1MDB, including its initial joint venture with the little known oil company PetroSaudi International from 2009.

What the documents establish is that, in spite of copious official denials, the entire joint venture project was conceived, managed and driven through by the Prime Minister’s associate and family friend the party-loving billionaire tycoon, Jho Low.

The documents also prove that the USD$700 million so-called “loan” that was supposedly repaid to PetroSaudi as part of the joint venture agreement, was in fact directed into the Swiss bank account of a company called Good Star, which is controlled by Jho Low.

That money was then partly used to buy out Taib Mahmud’s UBG bank in Sarawak at a very advantageous price for the chief minister and his family, who had been failing to get a deal on the open market.

PetroSaudi had agreed to act as “a front” for Jho Low on such deals, according to the documents, and it was a subsidiary of PetroSaudi International registered in the Seychelles, which bought UBG, using money siphoned from 1MDB.

(Source)

USD700 million of taxpayers went to someone’s personal pockets and 1MDB continues to bleed. And it did not stop there. Then almost on the same day, The Edge had this story on 1MDB:-

From 2009 to 2014, 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) initial US$1 billion was shuffled and swapped around, in an apparent bid to avoid scrutiny by its string of external auditors, The Edge Malaysia reported.

In its March 2-8 issue, the business weekly provides a timeline of how the government-owned strategic investment fund disguised the money trail of its initial US$1 billion for five years, raising the question of whether 1MDB is as profitable as it claims to be, or is merely rich on paper

By August 1, the money in the Caymans had grown to US$2.33 billion, and in November and December, 1MDB announced it had redeemed the entire amount.

However, instead of repatriating the money home, 1MDB president Arul Kanda Kandasamy said the December redemption of US$1.11 billion would be kept offshore as a currency hedge, while the first redemption would be “substantially utilised” for a separate settlement agreement on a different project.

“What can be surmised from the events of the last five years is that 1MDB kept entering into deftly structured transactions timed to avoid vigorous scrutiny by its external auditors about the money,” The Edge said.

(Source)

Whether it was a case of sheer recklessness or blatant corruption and fraud or simply a case of bad business decision, one thing that is clear – the allegations and evidence that has been presented by Sarawak Report cannot be taken lightly. There is overwhelming notion of fraud, corruption and mismanagement of public funds written all over it.

And already search for scapegoats have started:-

It appears that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has begun the process of trying to wash PM Najib’s hands clean of what may turn out to be the biggest political and financial scandal in recent Malaysian history, according to analyst Shahbudin Husin.

Tied to that process may be a search for a scapegoat, he writes in a blog entry that indicates his belief that the 1MDB controversy is close to reaching a climax.

(Source)

Given the kind of damage that has made by Sarawak Report’s expose, it is apparent that Najib and his Government cannot remain silent. The more they remained silent, the more crystallize the allegations will be. And finally, probably given the pressure within his Government and outside, the PM has now directed the Auditor-General to vet the 1MDB’s accounts. He even goes on to say something interesting (and probably a concept that is rather alien in this country) – “If any wrongdoing is proven, the law will be enforced without exception”.

Let’s talk on Auditor-General’s reporting in the past. How effective it has been to 1. curtail and avoid similar incidents of wastage & abuse in future and 2. in booking the culprits of wastage and abuses? Since the PM is asking the AG to check 1MDB’s account, we also want to know if the Government would be serious in taking actions if there are some findings by the AG?

Back in 2014, Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam wrote this:-

Unfortunately these management weaknesses and the consequent wastage of public funds continue to stubbornly persist. This is happening despite the Auditor General’s previous exhortations, to improve our standards of good governance.

In this first installment of the Report for 2013, it appears that 283 spending related issues were raised as for the first 4 months, which is well over the 256 spending issues raised by the AG, for the whole of 2012!

This trend is alarming and must be dealt with very seriously!

The Auditor General has to his credit now made 109 new recommendations for improvement in financial management. But the rakyat will ask what will be done with them? Will these recommendations be ignored and will mismanagement and financial wastage continue regardless?

Hence should not the PAC recommend tougher action and even name and shame these recalcitrant Ministries which are responsible for the loss of hard earned public funds?

(Source)

Transparency International Malaysia in 2013 said “It will also make a mockery of the Government, when the Auditor-General’s reports are not being taken seriously after it has identified the shortcomings within the administration” (Source)

And Tony Pua from Pakatan echoes the same:-

“While welcoming the investigation on 1MDB’s financials, Pua said the report should also include, but not be limited to the following:

• Auditing and identifying the redemption trail of the investments in Cayman Islands and the whereabout of its proceeds;

• Auditing and identifying the exact investment holding, true value and whereabouts of RM13.39 billion of “Level 3 Assets” identified in the March 2014 Financial Report;

• Confirming if 1MDB had attempted to borrow RM2 billion from local tycoon Ananda Krishnan to repay its debt and determine 1MDB’s cashflow shortage to meet its RM42 billion debt obligations as well as contract commitments which is likely to require a government bailout;

• Confirming if all historical emails in the 1MDB mail server were “wiped out” in December last year, as claimed by the Sarawak Report.

Pua said the Auditor-General should also conduct a forensic audit of 1MDB with the assistance of professional forensic auditors “to uncover any financial shenanigans in the company particularly in the light of (the) expose by the Sarawak Report and the mind-boggling PetroSaudi transactions from 2009 to 2012” and explained the same had been done in the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal in 2009.

(Source)

And thanks to the good people in Sarawak report, things have started to pick up pace despite it is not a new issue and the troubled 1MDB & the dubious way of handling the matter by people linked with 1MDB has been in the mainstream news for some time now.

And with the expose, the calls for accountability and transparency have not been louder, clearer and more direct to Najib:-

He notes that there have been reports that 1MDB will be wound up. “Oh, my God! For six years we’ve been told that everything was safe and fine. And now, suddenly, there’ll be a winding up?”

But Ariff says he figures it’ll take months before the Auditor-General can complete his task because of the mountains of documents involved. “What’s worse, much computer data have been destroyed.”

He notes that another Umno leader has alleged that there’s a political conspiracy behind the attacks on 1MDB and he discloses that the allegation came even as he was writing his article.

“If it were true that there’s a political agenda, it would be justifiable because the objective would be to expose a government that has made it possible for abuse and corruption to happen, in fact given a licence for them to happen.”

“In all these six years, it’s not public funds that the government has been protecting, but thieves and robbers.”

(Source)

Now there are talks of dismantling 1MDB and dissolve it thereafter. It may depends on the outcome of the AG report. The question is whether we will be calling the fat guy in for questioning and squeeze the truth from him on the shady USD700 million transfer? And since the PM is also the Finance Minister and this owns 1MDB, accountability and thereafter his resignation if wrongdoings are proven? Sarawak Report claims that all historical emails have been wiped out – so what is left to investigate if more evidence have been tampered with?

We do not want another PKFZ fiasco where the biggest losers at the end of the day is the taxpayers.

Land of Dumb & Dumber


dumb

(Never mind the movie, it seems like there are way too many of dumb people in this country. Image source: The Net)

It was rather “funny” to hear the old man to say this:-

“Malaysians are stupid. They don’t know how to manage aviation,” Dr Mahathir was quoted by news portal Malaysiakini as saying in comments over Christoph Mueller’s appointment as chief executive officer-designate of Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAS NewCo).

Those responsible for the losses of the ailing national carrier were now trying to make things right, he said.

(Source)

Does that mean we are smarter in all other areas? If you think we do, you still have a long way to go.

Now read this – it’s a long read but enough to make any true blue Malaysian’s blood boil with rage:-

In 2008, a boisterous young man by the name of Jho Low Taek, a Penang-born Wharton grad with a taste for Cristal champagne and Broadway blondes, approached Malaysia’s Terengganu state government with a proposal to use the state’s authority to sell RM10 billion (US$2.87 billion) in bonds to start a state-backed investment fund.

That proposal has led to what Tony Pua, a Democratic Action Party lawmaker, has called “the mother of the mother of the mother of all scandals in the history of Malaysia.”

That might be one mother too many, but Pua is not alone, with critics of what is now called 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, coming from outside the opposition as well. It is certain that the proposed Terengganu Investment Authority has metastasized into a mess that can properly be called huge and has put Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s tattered reputation on the line yet again. Much of the story has been detailed in two Malaysian publications, The Edge and the online news portal Malaysiakini’s business unit, Kinibiz.

Najib, the head of the 1MDB advisory board, has faced a barrage of questions from opposition lawmakers in Parliament for weeks and an attack on his own flank from former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his allies, including former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin, over what can only be regarded as an astonishing level of mismanagement.

The question was why Malaysia needed another government-backed investment fund in the first place, especially one dreamed up by a young friend of the PM’s family. It has Khazanah Nasional Bhd., the 23-year-old investment holding arm that manages Malaysia’s assets and makes strategic investments, and the Employee Provident Fund, which also invests employee pension funds. Both are creatures of the Ministry of Finance.

The Terengganu Sultan, Mizan Zainal Abidin, had misgivings over the plan by Jho Low, as he calls himself, so the 27-year-old Low went to the parents of a friend he had made among Malaysia’s privileged elite in the UK. While anti-colonial rhetoric still spews at home, Malaysia’s wealthy have always known where to send their scions. Jho Low was at the exclusive 450-year-old Harrow, with his friend Riza Aziz at nearby 150-year-old Haileybury, which trained English youth for service in India. Riza’s mother is Rosmah Mansor, Najib’s second wife.

Thus the proposed Terengganu Investment Authority metamorphosed into 1Malaysia Development Bhd., also under the Ministry of Finance. Today 1MDB has accumulated debt of RM36.25 billion (US$10.4 billion) that is only covered by repeated accounting upgrading of the value of property handed to it at a knock-down price by the government to get it started – a 196-hectare former air force base near the center of Kuala Lumpur.

In recent months, the government, in an attempt to build up the fund so it can be listed, has strong-armed at least three no-bid contracts for 1MDB to build coal-fired and solar power plants. One of those power plants, in Port Dickson near Malacca, was awarded to 1MDB despite a lower bid from a joint venture of YTL International Bhd and SIPP, partly owned by the Sultan of Johor, who is said to have been enraged by the loss and is demanding privately that SIPP be given its own no-bid contract for another plant.

Although its dealings are opaque, sources in Kuala Lumpur believe it was Jho Low, previously regarded as a savvy investor despite his tender years, who drove 1MDB into disaster. Although the chairman of the Board of Directors is Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, who holds the high-ranking honorific of tan sri, he is regarded as a figurehead and many of 1MDB’s major decisions have Low’s fingerprints on them

Low, who has accompanied Rosmah on forays to New York to meet celebrities including Lionel Ritchie and Paris Hilton, landing in the pages of the New York Post, involved 1MDB in backing his failed 2011 bid to buy three prestigious London hotels – Claridge’s, the Connaught and The Berkeley, according to documents filed in the Chancery Division of the UK’s Royal Courts of Justice.

A Los Angeles law firm accused the government of Malaysia, without mentioning 1MDB, of racketeering in funding the phenomenally successful movie The Wolf of Wall Street, an Oscar-nominated picture starring Leonardo DeCaprio and co-produced by Riza Aziz, Rosmah’s son. How that might have been done is unclear. The lawyers for a Los Angeles plaintiff who sued over the rights to the movie refused to elaborate, citing lawyer-client privilege. But in the case of the Claridge’s campaign, 1MDB issued guarantee letters saying the fund would stand behind the purchase. Presumably that meant Malaysia’s sovereign fund would cover any losses accrued if the sale failed.

The fund loaned RM7.2 billion to finance oil exploration for another chum out of that rarefied London ex-colonial society – Tarek Essam Ahmad Obaid, a London playboy said to be a grandson of the Saudi Sheikh Obaid, one of the kingdom’s most senior grandees. Tarek met Jho Low a few months before the deal for the loan was consummated, according to Clare Rewcastle Brown, a former BBC reporter who has followed the 1MDB affair closely. Tarek is the founder and chief executive of PetroSaudi International, Ltd. Despite its pretentious website there is little information on PetroSaudi, which was only incorporated three years before the entry of 1MDB. The money, to be loaned at 8.75 percent, has disappeared.

What 1MDB has not done is make enough money to cover its huge debt, although determining anything is difficult because no up-to-date accounts have been filed.

“I was the finance head for oil companies before I entered politics,” Rafizi Ramli, strategic director and secretary-general of the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat, told Asia Sentinel. “Nobody I knew had ever come across PetroSaudi before. We tried to check what it was. It was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. While it is normal for financial investors to enter into ventures, how could a government commit such a huge sum of money with a greenhorn company with no known track record, incorporated in a haven for dodgy money, in an industry where capital risk is so huge?”

When the bid to explore for oil collapsed, the money appears to have been invested in speculative yen forex deals, insiders told Rafizi. Forex trading is not for amateurs. By early 2012, it began to appear that the money had altogether disappeared, according to Tony Pua. 1MDB was having trouble filing its financial reports, a signal that something was wrong. When 1MDB said the funds had been moved into a fund in the Cayman Islands, its managers refused to say who was managing the money.

Today, Pua said, the entire operation appears to be built on debt, although with audited financial reports delayed it is impossible to say for sure. Its managers are seeking to cover the losses through additional borrowings and money raisings, including a US$4.75 billion one engineered by Goldman Sachs, the international investment bank, that cost 1MDB 10 percent of the offering, a phenomenal amount for “commissions, fees and expenses” according to the prospectus. By comparison, Tenaga Nasional, the state-owned energy utility, paid a 2 percent fee on a US$300 million money raising. SMBC Aviation Capital, which leases jets to Malaysian Airlines, paid 0.5 percent on a US$1 billion capital raising. The fees paid to Goldman worked out at US$1.54 billion, Pua said.

The fund today is betting its future on becoming the country’s biggest power producer and a global energy player. It acquired a string of overpriced independent power producers from the Genting gambling interests and Ananda Khrishnan, the country’s richest businessman and an UMNO crony, for RM11 billion to generate cash flow, at what were astounding valuations. Indeed, within six months, the fund’s auditors wrote off RM1.2 billion of the valuation because they were so overpriced.

“Because they were desperate to borrow to cover the acquisitions, they had to pay higher interest rates,” Pua said. “And because they were desperate, they paid Goldman crazy fees to arrange the loans.”

On top of the enormous interest burden from the debt, it turns out that the cash flow from the IPPs is so small that it was barely enough to cover the interest, let alone pay back the RM15 billion principal.

With the hole from the initial failed loan to PetroSaudi, and the vast debt from the IPP purchases, 1MDB is now trying to list to raise US$10 billion from the market. But in order to write a credible prospectus for the listing, it requires strong financials. 1MDB’s financials do not come anywhere near credible enough to assure potential investors of future cash flow.

The government has stepped in to extend the contracts for the IPPs, which were supposed to end after their contract periods ended. That is still not enough. The government then tendered a contract to build the coal-fired plant in Port Dickson. Critics charge the contract was unnecessary, that Tenaga Nasional, the state-owned utility, had the experience and capital to build the plant itself. The tender turned out to be a fiasco, with the YTL-SIPP consortium coming in with a lower bid, only to be disqualified on what many critics have said was a technicality.

Since then, the government has awarded three contracts to 1MDB, the other two without the potential embarrassment of a tender process. But critics point out that 1MDB has never built anything and is mainly relying on the expertise of Tenaga Nasional. The bid for a 50 megawatt solar power plant project in Kedah in the north of the country is to be the largest solar plant in Malaysia despite the fact there is no guaranteed offtake, that prices for solar, even though they have fallen sharply, still exceed that of conventional plants, and that Malaysians are going to end up paying more for their electricity.

All of these moves are an attempt to rescue 1MDB and give it the potential to demonstrate income to investors. So on the advice of a 27-year-old neophyte and friend of the prime minister’s family, the country has created a state-backed investment fund, got itself involved in a series of businesses it knew nothing about, put the country’s sovereign backing behind a private hotel bid and a Hollywood movie, run up a vast amount of debt, and now is seeking to bail itself out via preferential contracts to build electrical plants with expertise so far it doesn’t have. The critics expect that this is going to cost Malaysia’s taxpayers and ratepayers a considerable amount of money.

(Source)

When we first heard that 1MDB had “parked” RM7 billion of our money in the Cayman Islands, that made many of us to question the reasons why a Government linked company have to invest in dubious ways. And when reports of losses started to trickle in, it seemed like our fears came true.

And now, it seemed that it has only gone downhill. So it is a wonder why major investigations have not been launched into 1MDB’s affairs and if mismanagement, scams and gross negligence  indeed exist, why we are not going after these guys and revoking their passport and bring them down to be answerable for their dubious ways of doing business and for the huge losses?

Instead we foolishly spending considerable time, money and resources to go after this joker:-

Alvin-Tan-featured

(The country’s no 1 enemy, so according to some stupid in this country. Image source: Cilisos)

Now you see why Dr M is calling Malaysians stupid?