Would You Believe It?


spoon-boy

(Still remember the “no spoon” scene in The Matrix? You understand the meaning of the scene? I had always thought of it as something not real and yet you see it with your own eyes. Image source: Matrix Fans)

I was reading this one morning last week:-

A consultant for a township in Kuala Nerus, Terengganu under fire for planting a RM180,000 tree has explained that the cost had also included its transportation from Brazil. Zaini Ibrahim, director of Perunding Irzi Sdn Bhd that is the lead consultant for the project, also said that the second Ceiba chodatii tree also known as silk floss tree, will be planted at another entry point to Bandar Baru Kuala Nerus.

“There is no mention of the tree in the contract. What was made known were two iconic landmarks,” Zaini was quoted saying by The Star daily in a report today.

The contractor thought the tree would be a great landmark and he went out of his way to choose the type of the tree.” Zaini said the rest of the 100-hectare land would be planted with local trees and plants.

(Source)

I think they spent almost half a million ringgit for the “iconic landmark”

The State Government said that they did not use the taxpayers money and so also the Public Works Department. Both had denied use of taxpayers money since the news went viral.

But if you think about it and ask yourself this question – does it make sense that a contractor who is doing a commercial business would spend half a million ringgit (mind you, not a small quantum) and bring trees all the way from Brazil and does not get paid anything for the expenses?

Perhaps they have factored that in the overall cost – which means the contract had been inflated to include the expensive trees. Perhaps they had managed to save enough in the contract and instead of returning the saving back to the taxpayers, they decided to spend it on expensive trees. Or maybe they had misinterpreted the requirements but had screwed the execution – then it is too bad, they should not be paid anything.

Anyway, if you ask me, the whole story does not add up – just the story of an elusive Arab prince giving away billions of ringgit to some politician as a donation. That’s bending the spoon a bit too far.

Then we have this “hey look, it is cheaper compared to XYZ country!” statement from one honorable Minister:-

The recent increase in petrol price should not be made an excuse for traders to increase prices of their goods, Minister of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism (MDTCC) Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said today.

He said that despite the increase, the fuel price in Malaysia is still the lowest in Southeast Asia, with the exception of Brunei.

Malaysia is among 15 countries with the cheapest fuel price among 180 countries in the world, he said in his speech at a Chinese New Year dinner organised by Giant Supermarket for the less affordable Chinese community here tonight

(Source)

Reduction of subsidies is good in the long run and there are other things that we need to focus on – read here for details

However to say that despite the increase in the petrol price, there should not be any increase of price of goods is ridiculous. Wasn’t the honorable Minister aware of the past incidents of goods price hike because the price of raw materials like petrol, sugar, flour, etc had gone up? Of course, it is now made worst with the introduction of GST and even the smallest of the small traders started to sell things at an insane price.

The comparing of “price” with other countries should stop – there are some who will simply compare the price as if it is an apple to apple comparison but easily ignores all other factors such as availability of raw material, location, currency foreign exchange, population demand, level of income & living standards, etc. And oh yes, how educated and informed politicians in managing the affairs of the country..

Rest assured that with the increase of petrol price, some of the traders either having no other choice (due to increase of transportation cost) or on purpose (using high petrol price as an excuse) will increase prices of their goods. There is no escape about this. And if the Government keep reducing the petrol subsidies, the petrol price will keep increasing and so does the price of goods (and even services).

So what the Government intends to do about it? Instead of just saying that the traders should not raise prices, can the Government be more proactive with increased actions and change of policies such as these?

1. Stricter enforcement against unscrupulous price increase?
2. Setting aside the key goods as controlled item?
3. Reduction of direct and indirect taxes (GST is one) to offset the increase in price?

But please never say because the price of petrol goes up, it will not have a cascading effect on other items that dependent on the price of petrol. The cost transportation is not going to remain the same with high petrol price. It is akin to sweeping the problem under the carpet – you don’t see it any more but the problem remains unresolved.

Expensive trees but no taxpayers involved?

Increase in petrol price but no increase in price of goods?

Sometimes don’t you feel like you are living a Matrix, right?

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Trump’s Immigration Ban


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(The omission was too glaring and that simply add to the unfairness of the whole affair. Image source: http://www.slate.com)

Well, it finally happened – that “The Apprentice” guy, Donald Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States of America on 20th January 2017.

So it was not a big surprise when he decided to “shake” things down once he had officially taken office – he have been talking about throughout his election campaign. And that includes his promise to build the wall against Mexico (funding aside) and stopping people from certain countries entering the country.

President Trump on Friday closed the nation’s borders to refugees from around the world, ordering that families fleeing the slaughter in Syria be indefinitely blocked from entering the United States, and temporarily suspending immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries.

The executive order suspends the entry of refugees into the United States for 120 days and directs officials to determine additional screening ”to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States.”

The order also stops the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely, and bars entry into the United States for 90 days from seven predominantly Muslim countries linked to concerns about terrorism. Those countries are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

(Source)

The funny part of the whole affair is that the Iranian Government seems to be very upset that they have been listed under the list of countries to be banned from entering the US. It is funny because the Iranian Government had always perceived US as the Great Satan. So if the Great Satan is stopping your people from entering it’s Hell, why you get upset? Anyway it is just something for your thoughts.

Noticeably there were some countries missing from the immigration ban.

US-based researcher Arif Jamal argues that President Donald Trump cannot defeat radical Islam by excluding Saudi Arabia and Pakistan from his contentious move barring US entry to people from some Muslim nations.

On the contrary, all major terrorist groups that have attacked the United States and other Western countries over the past couple of decades – from al Qaeda to the Taliban to the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) – can trace their roots back to Sunni-led countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Qatar. But conspicuously these countries didn’t make the list.

(Source)

Well, I can see where Trump is coming from and how the recent terrorist attacks in Europe may have shaped this policy. After all, before he signed off the order, he did called the German Chancellor Angela Merkel ‘insane’ for her immigration decisions. But are the ban valid?

Mail Online has analysed all the terrorist attacks in Europe, including Turkey, since 9/11.

No individuals from five of the countries on the list – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – had been linked to any terrorist attacks in Europe in the last 15 years, although some could be linked to Islamist bases and training camps in Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

Raffaello Pantucci, a counter-terrorism expert at the Royal United Services Institute in London, told Mail Online: ‘Most terrorist attacks in America are carried out by Americans.

(Source)

terrorist-list-malaysia

(In this 2011 Department of Homeland Security report, Malaysia is listed as a “Specially Designated Country”. SDC are countries that have shown a tendency to promote, produce or protect terrorist organisations or their members. Image source: OutSyed The Box)

We can breathe in relief that Malaysia is not in the immediate Trump’s list of banned countries. However it may change if we do not keep extremism in check.

Police neutralised 14 attempted terrorist attacks in 2016

Malaysians were given a reality check when the first ever Islamic State-orchestrated attack hit Malaysian soil on June 28 when a hand grenade was hurled at an entertainment outlet in Puchong, resulting in eight people injured.

However, Malaysians know little about the behind-the-scene pre-emptive actions taken by the police that foiled at least 14 planned terror attacks in Malaysia by IS militants, said a senior anti-terrorism official.

Security officials were reluctant to share details of the attempted attacks due to the sensitive nature of the information.

(Source)

Kudos to the police for their hard work and diligence in crushing terrorist attacks in this country. However the headlines “Police neutralised 14 attempted terrorist attacks in 2016” is very worrying. Who knows the number of terrorist attacks that did not take place because of a lost opportunity or the terrorists changed their mind at the last minute or they have a different objective & location to terrorise.

It is not a secret (and the world knows this too) that there are plenty of Malaysians in Syria fighting for the ISIS and they have threatened to unleash the same acts of terrorism in this country. News of ISIS sympathizers or agents being caught by the police have become a norm these days.

Then we have people like Zakir Naik who is on the run from his home country, coming into this country freely and doing public sermons.

Fugitive televangelist Dr Zakir Naik will be delivering a Friday sermon in Perlis on February 10, according to a poster shared by the state’s mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin yesterday

Last month, Dr Zakir visited a private Islamic-centric university in Shah Alam, Selangor, which is also under investigation for radical teachings after two students were arrested on suspicion of being Islamic State recruits planning a terror attack locally.

Although a fugitive in India, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said the controversial Islamic preacher is free to travel in Malaysia because he is not on the terror list here.

He has been reported by several Indian newspapers to be on the run to avoid prosecution in India.

The Salafist preacher has also been banned from several countries like Bangladesh, Canada and the UK.

(Source)

Frankly speaking, there is nothing wrong in bringing foreign speakers for sermons and religion functions. And I say that it does not only happens for Muslims but also other religions. In fact, we have Hindu gurus and priests, Buddhist monks and Christian preachers (some of them super rich) coming to this country on a regular basis and devotees signs up for such sermons / religion talks months upfront. Religion is a very big and profitable business nowadays. So I don’t really see a fuss and the logic of my fellow Malaysians questioning foreigners coming to the country for sermons. Sometimes it is good to get out from our comfort zone and get a different perspective of religion from outside experts aka holy men.

But when you have someone who is not only banned and wanted for links with terrorism in other countries (including Bangladesh – a Muslim majority country), one need to exercise great caution.

Just watch this talk by Zakir Naik who questions the propagation of faith (in forms of allowing places of religion to be built) by non Muslims. This kind of talk does not fit a multi racial, religion model country like Malaysia. In fact, it works against it and makes one Malaysian to look at fellow Malaysians as a threat due to different faith & beliefs. It sows the seeds of disunity and intolerance. We need more avenues to unite us and not foreigners who will disunite us even more.

In this video, using a very bad example of a maths teacher, he claims that only in his own religion, the computation is correct i.e. 2 + 2 = 4 whilst all other religion will compute wrongly. But does it really happens that way? All religion teaches one to be tolerant and exercising good behaviors. To shoot down other’s religion does not necessarily elevates your own religion – I have always said this.

Every religion have their share of extremism as well but it does not mean it is wrong (or evil). At the end of the day, it all depends on how you use religion in your daily life and religion is something that should be personal and ends there. So it is not right to say that “I am right, you are wrong” when it comes to something personal. In fact, the more you talk bad about others, it will back fire and will cause others to look at religion as something intolerant, rigid and enforces compulsion when it should be the other around. And if you claim that others have failed religion, why then they have a very prosperous and matured society? It is the same case where Iranians for ages have labelled the US as the Great Satan but get upset when the same Great Satan closes its doors.

We already have “funny but disbelief” incidents such as the protest that forced a church to take down a sign of cross back in 2015 (the excuse for the protest – the cross will confuse Muslims). Are you saying that Muslims in this country had never seen a cross before and all the sudden, one fine morning, they wake up and seeing it for the first time and it will confuse them? It sounds dumb, right? But interestingly, that is very premise that smooth talking preachers like Zakir Naik is doing in his talks and whilst the implications may not be so obvious but the outcome can be very grave indeed.

And then we also have a spew of misinformation and made up facts (yes, it called fiction) that is used rather sparingly to justify his talk on religion. Watch this video where Naik attacks Darwin and the notion of evolution and he simply wrongly quotes or uses wrong facts to show that he is correct (which is not the case):-

For someone who is not familiar with Darwinism or even have a good command of the English language, Zakir may sound like a God send angel with good information at his finger tips. Perhaps this is why at one point of time, Darwin’s book on the evolution was actually got banned? I don’t know. It is not a secret that science and religion is like water and oil – it does not mix that well but at the point when wrong information is used to justify someone interpretation of religion, it is dangerous and irresponsible.

Now looking back at President Trump’s decision to ban entry to a selected immigrants, it may sound harsh and cruel and unfair but think again, that itself should make others to wake up and look at the cause of the ban in the first place. And if it is unfair, then what are the other countries around the world is going to do about it? No Middle East country have come out in the open and made the commitment to take in the refugees and other immigrants in the droves – perhaps they should look into it now (they are nearer too). And talking about terrorism, banning entry is just one of the short term solution although it is a bad solution if implemented blindly and in general. They should have a proper solution in place and allow people are genuinely in need of help whilst identifying and stopping red flags and potential sleeper agents at their tracks.

One cannot run away from this – not at this age of human civilization.

Saree Ke Fall Se


This song that has been humming in my head for past 1 week.

First watch the making of the song video (from the movie R..Rajkumar, music by Pritam) and then the song video itself (it has almost 58 million views todate and counting!!). A classic Prabhu Deva dance moves (if you remember the weird but funny moves from his earlier Tamil movies) and great acting from the loveable and a spot-on chemistry by Shahid Kapoor & Sonakshi Sinha.

P.s. This song made the desert to be so colorful and beautiful and I like the instances of bass guitar streaming on the second part of the chorus. Simply superb!

The making of:-

The final copy (ignore Salman Khan’s ad at the start):-

With that, wishing all a great weekend ahead and Gong Xi Fatt Choy & happy holidays for all those are celebrating Chinese New Year. Please always use your indicators when you want to change lanes and look out for traffic before switching lanes – especially with rainy days these days.

Wiper Scare & Kapchai Ban


Read these

wipers-signs-of-wear

(Things to keep an eye for – failing wipers. Image source: http://www.kempenfeltauto.com)

It has been raining cats and dogs lately…

It was raining heavily when I went to work one fine morning – I predicted an increased traffic jam due to the rain and a couple of morons speeding and changing lane without any indicators during the heavy rain. I switched on the wipers and immediately I noticed something not right. It was squeaking and as the wipers goes up and down, it started to bend considerably. Damn, something indeed was not right. And half way as I was nearing my kid’s school, one of the wiper bent and dislocated. I now left with only one working wiper and it also started to bend. I know that wipers was due for a replacement but I did not expect it to be too soon and too obvious. It was still raining but I could not use the wipers – so I slowed down and drive with extra caution. It was too late to drive back home as I was nearer office by then and I managed to reach it without any incidents.

Lunch time, I had only 1 mission – to get the wipers replaced. I headed to a workshop near to office and picked silicon blade wipers. It was not cheap though but at least the wipers were new. The mechanic was fast to replace them but he took the wrong size as when I tried the wipers on, both wipers got entangled and got stuck. He quickly replaced the wiper to a lower size and it looked well (it did not get entangled this time around).

That evening, it started to rain again but this time, I was very confident – I had brand new wipers. I happily switched it on but then noticed, it was not wiping effectively – as if the blades was not touching the windscreen in some places. There was a loud squeaking noise as well. I was pissed off and was cursing the workshop for selling a defective wipers. I intended to reach home first and then head to the nearest hypermarket to buy new wipers (I was ready to go to workshop next day to make noise and get my money back). And as I was driving back in the heavy rain, only using the wipers when I had no other choice, I noticed that some kind of strip hanging from the tip of the wiper. Was the silicon coming apart? I could not see for sure.

I reached home and in the rain, I checked the wipers and soon felt relived – the mechanic who replaced the wipers had forgotten to strip away the protective plastic from the silicon blades and that was what making the squeaking noise and unlevel wiping. Once the plastic strip was removed, I had a very effective and silent wipers. Phew!

Anyway, that ended rather nicely – it has not been a cheap month for me when it came to fixing my car to the best level of driving. I have a phobia whenever I hear some funny noise from the car these days, especially after the accident last year.

(One reason to ban kapchais in this country. Image source: http://meuzangelo.blogspot.com)

Recently there was a very interesting piece of development when it comes to pesky motorcyclists in this country:-

The government is considering banning underbone motorcycles, known locally as the “kap chai”, from entering Kuala Lumpur as part of its effort to reduce carbon emission.

Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Mansor was quoted by The Star as saying that the government may prohibit these motorcycles and other commuters from driving into the capital city once public transportation reaches a more reasonable price.

“During the day, the population (in the city) increases to between five and seven million because workers commute to work,” he said at the launch of the Kibar Bendera Wilayah Persekutuan campaign on Sunday (Jan 15).

“Many cities do not allow ‘kap chai’ to come in. But studies have shown that a lot of people still need them because they are poor and can’t afford [other modes of transport] as their salaries are low.

“Once cheaper public transport is available, we will be looking at the possibility of not allowing ‘kap chai’ motorcycles into the city,” he added

(Source)

And of course, there was immediate opposition to that idea:-

The government’s proposal to ban underbone motorcycles in Kuala Lumpur could burden low-income earners who are already under pressure from rising living costs, employers’ and workers’ groups warned.

Criticising the idea as “ridiculous”, associations like The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) and the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) said the proposal would push traveling costs up for the bottom 40 per cent of income earners, most of whom rely on small capacity bikes to commute to work.

They said fuel costs for the bike, popularly called “kap chais”, are much cheaper than current public transportation fees, which can go up to RM10 a day. In contrast, someone who uses a “kap chai” will only need to pay RM7 for a full tank of fuel, which can give the bike at least five days worth of travelling.

(Source)

And it seems that there was a major impact on the businesses as well:-

Putrajaya’s proposal to bar the kapcai (small motorcycles) from entering Kuala Lumpur will cause a significant decline in the sale of motorcycles in the country.

“The ban will have negative effects on the motorcycle industry, which sees more than 500,000 motorcycles registered each year,” said PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil in a statement today.

Fahmi called the proposal “nonsensical and irresponsible”, coming as it did in a time of economic decline.

(Source)

Before I put down my take on the proposed ban (the idea have been shelved anyway), let me emphasize that I was a biker once and I rode a “kapchai” bike too. I rode second handed Honda Cub (one of the best bike around) and the iconic Yamaha RXZ before I decided to buy a new bike. Main reason for that is because I used to ride pillion on my brother’s bike but he gets so tense up when I ask him to slow down and follow the rules. It was time for me to get my own bike and ride like a big biker. I rode a small bike but I had tear-proof jacket, leather gloves and a good, branded helmet. I opted for a Malaysian made Modenas because firstly it was cheap and secondly the bike shop was just next to the house which makes service easy but due to some problem with the Modenas dealer (he was half bankrupt and my deposit got stuck), I changed my option to a Yamaha Y110SS which was stylish, very dependable (even though it was on 2 stroke) and fast (I preferred Yamaha 125ZR but it was too expensive and was “hot” with bike thieves). And the reason for me using kapchai was because that was one of the cheapest mode of transportation that I could afford without taking the bus (petrol last me almost a week) and riding a kapchai in KL was the best way to avoid the crazy traffic jam in the city. So I do understand the situation from a biker’s point of view.

But over the years, seeing the number of deaths on the road and being menace to other road users, I do think that kapchai’s should be banned.

It should be banned not because of the nonsense excuse of controlling the emission (car, truck and bus emissions are even worse) but because of the number of traffic rule offences incurred by these kapchai riders. Too many bikes on the road are of poor condition too. Never passes a day without me seeing a bike without lights at the front and back – endangering themselves and their pillion riders. The worse of the worse are those sending their kids to school in the morning without any helmet or having more than one pillion rider including babies. And breaking the law is the signature of most (I say most) kapchai riders – you name it, they do it – riding without helmet, riding against the traffic, changing lanes without any signals, running traffic lights, illegal racing and doing stunts on public roads (aka as Mat Rempits). Kapchai is also the preferred mode of transportation of snatch thieves as it is easy for them to make a getaway.

And it should not be banned on in the city but rather banned nationwide – in the cities, towns, small towns, residential areas, etc. You may ask what happens to the motorbike manufacturers and distributors? Push for sale for bigger capacity bikes – yes, it will be more expensive but in the end, there will be enough demands to meet up the loss. 250cc bikes which was out of reach during my time is actually cheaper nowadays. You can get a KTM Duke 250 for less than RM20,000 or a Benelli TNT 250 for less than RM15,000. And with bigger bikes, push for proper safety gears to be worn by riders & pillion riders (jacket, gloves, boots, etc). Not cheap I agree but we need to move from a small bike nation to a bigger bike nation mentality eventually.

Interestingly the same notion was made in a letter to The Sun:-

REPORTS of opposition to the proposal to ban small motorcycles from Kuala Lumpur are off-target. On the contrary, such a ban will be welcomed by those who live and work in the city. Let me explain.

First, nobody feels safe when motorcyclists are around except the motorcyclists themselves. Even drivers of four-wheel vehicles are harassed and forced to brake suddenly to avoid hitting them.

Second, traffic rules seemingly do not apply to motorcyclists. They ignore traffic lights, no-entry signs and other rules, perhaps because they can evade the law so easily.

Third, many pedestrians are menaced by motorcyclists who ride on the walkways. I have not seen a motorcyclist booked for this offence.

Fourth, snatch thieves love the motorcycle as it best suits their modus operandi.

Fifth, pollution. Random comments are made that all vehicles pollute and motorcycles are not the worst culprits. That needs to be proven. One needs to look not only at the vehicle size but also their numbers, and the noise.

Surprisingly, I have seen no reports on urban pollution in Malaysia. As a rapidly urbanising society, Malaysians need to know how healthy the air is.

To understand the situation at street level those involved should take public transport for a day. Personal experience would be a far more impactful experience than third-party stories.

There are other reasons that argue against small motorcycles on city streets, including comparative costs. While petrol consumption may be low, there are repair and parking costs, which would make the bus cheaper.

(Source)

Do I need to say more – who knows once we start to ban the small kapchais, the incidents of Mat Rempit and snatch thieves may just go down. Just a wishful thought – who knows, right?

Damn, I Hate Cats!


WARNING: Cat lovers, walk away right now…you may not like this post

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(Cats are evil indeed. Image source: http://www.debate.org)

One of the joy of moving a new house many years ago was the chance to do up a garden.

It was a joy because we used to stay in apartments which does not enough space for a garden (I mean a proper garden where we can dig in and plant things). So when I had the chance to buy a house of my own, I had great ideas on what I wanted to do with my garden, starting with beautiful carpet grass. And when my dad retired and looking for a hobby to spend his time at home, he took up gardening. And he was good at it too – a mango tree at the front, several types of flowering plants and he would spend hours running through the carpet grass to look for weeds. At one point, carpet grass was clean and trimmed and was wonderful to walk on.

And then evil descended at my neighborhood…

I am not sure how they came – maybe an UFO dropped them off in the middle of the night or perhaps the ground opened up and they came out from the hell underground. Soon one fine morning, there were 4-5 cats at our neighborhood. At first, they kept themselves close to other houses and don’t wonder around. Soon they started their nuisance – at first by sleeping on the middle of the road. I lost count of the times cars had to slow down or slam their brakes to avoid those cats. And one day, when I opened the front door, I saw one of the cats sleeping under my car in the porch. I shoo-ed it away but it did not go off immediately. It stood up and gave me the stare. You know about the “stare” right? The stare that seems to be showing me the middle fingers and telling me to f-off and leave the Lord of the Land alone. The stare that implies that humans were born just to serve the cats. When I was pretending to kick the cat so that it will move, the Satan stood it’s ground and only left rather casually.

My experience with cats in the past has not been a pleasant one. When I was small, we only had fish and even dogs as pets but never cats. My old neighbor had a cat but the whole house smelled funny and the whole family (my neighbor) seemed to exist just to serve the cat. The cat goes and comes whenever it want and there was nothing that the neighbor could do about it. Then we rarely had any encounter with cats when we moved to apartments (we don’t have any encounter with rats too).

Many many years after that, we were at the shopping mall and my wife and my son wanted to have fried chicken for lunch and we headed towards the nearest KFC. We sat down and was just about tuck-in our meal when I saw an ugly, sick looking cat inside the restaurant, walking around diners’ tables looking for scraps. I was very angry of the fact that the KFC staff allowed a stray cat in and worse, did not do anything of clearing the cat from the premise. It went to the table where another family was having their meal and the stray cat started to get into their nerves and one of the guy gave a good kick and the cat went flying. Someone from another table commented that the cat was “innocent” and does not deserve such punishment. Another retorted that there should not be any stray animals in the premise in the first place and threaten to report the premise to the authorities. That “woke up” KFC staff and soon one of the staff came over and grab that cat and took it out (I hoped that he washed his hands before handling the food after that).

This is one key reason why we try to avoid some of the Malay restaurants that has great dishes but marred by presence of cats – no wrong assumptions here – we have experienced more than once. Some years ago, as my friend was having her meal, a stray cat (which was a resident in the restaurant) came over, jumped on the table and try to steal the fish from my friend’s plate!! And when we complained, the only response from the restaurant owner was “kesian kucing itu, mungkin dia dah lapar” (pity the cat, guess it is hungry now). Mind you that cats can be very persistent when they need you throw down a good portion of the fish from your plate and to them on the floor. We were surprised with the response from the restaurant owner – he did not see the problem of his cats stealing food from his customers. Needless to say, we walked out and boycotted the restaurant ever since. So these days, one of the first thing we check when we walk into a restaurant is to see if there are any cats around.

Anyway back to my garden and the Satan at the neighborhood. One day, I noticed something on my fine, beautiful carpet grass – cat’s poop!!

Damn, the culprit was nowhere to be seen but I had a good idea “who” it was. I would have skinned the cat alive if it has remained there. The poop attracted flies and it was messy & smelly too. We quickly put some sand over the poop to stop the smell and the flies. Later my wife scooped it (sorry dear) and threw it away. Thinking that it is a one-off incident, we let our guards down but it happened again and at the same spot too. This time, the Satan was seen leaving just moment before we could get close to it. It stopped for a moment and looked at me for a moment before leaving. Ya, it gave me the stare as well. My hatred to cats multiplied many times over immediately because we have small kids at home and I know how dangerous cat’s poop can be.

Cat poop could give you a fatal disease

Remember that T. gondii parasite? Normally, it doesn’t do anything to harm those humans whose brains it calls home (well, except make you love cats) because your immune system knows how to handle it. However, for those people whose immune systems can’t handle it, exposure to the parasite can cause a disease called toxoplasmosis. It can either give you mild flu-like symptoms, mental disorders like schizophrenia and depression, or kill you.

Feline feces are true safe havens for T. gondii, so you can contract toxoplasmosis by cleaning up your cat’s sh*t.

(Source)

Further analysis shows:-

People usually contract T. gondii in two ways — by eating the undercooked flesh of infected animals or through contact with cat feces.

The parasite causes a disease called toxoplasmosis. Most people experience mild flu-like symptoms before it goes into a chronic and dormant phase. But the disease can be fatal in people with weakened immune systems and in fetuses, which can be infected through the mother. This is why women are advised to avoid contact with cat litter boxes while pregnant.

Some studies have shown that mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, depression and anxiety are more common in people with toxoplasmosis, while others have suggested that the disease can influence a person’s levels of aggression, extroversion and risk-taking, the researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden pointed out.

(Source)

We had to stop the cats from entering the house compound but no matter what we do to block their entrance, they always able to come back and mess up the whole place and leaving silently. And when I back from work and find them lying on the lazily and does not move even after my car is very near to them and after I had honked them, running them over with my car did cross my mind. Just think about it – my tires crossing over the cat’s soft stomach and causing the guts to burst open and the Satan ends being a nuisance. A very simple solution, right? However at the last moment before my tires connects with the soft stomach of the cat, I always change my mind and slams the brake and avoid the cats all together. The Satan lives another day to mess up the garden. Ya, damn me.

Perhaps I am being too soft with the Satan. The time had come for me to be a hard cold killer. The time had come to take extreme measures which also included violence (lots of violence if possible). We started off with sharp spikes that we hope that “once bitten, twice shy”, the cats will remind themselves not to enter the war zone unless they want to commit hara-kiri. The sharp pikes – anyway it is not real spikes but rather plastic spikes – I got a few of them from those Japanese themed supermarkets that sells items to stop cats & birds from messing up home gardens. We laid them around the grass randomly, hoping that the Satanic cats will step on them, rather painfully and will remember not to return back to the same place. We were so wrong!!

Couple of days later, there was a load of fresh cat’s poop on the small space of grass that was NOT covered by the plastic spikes. Somehow the Satan have found a loophole or rather, a way around the minefield. I can imagine that it must have taken them several missions to find the way through or maybe they just saw the easy way through from Day 1. Time to reconsider the strategy to stop the Satan from messing up the garden but since it will take time to do the research, we decided to just cover up the place with large wood boards temporarily whilst we look for permanent and feasible solution (laying metal spikes and animal traps that will maim the cats for live did cross my mind)

However laying wood boards, in a way stopped the Satan from visiting the favorite pooping spot. But that also meant we lose the garden and the nice carpet grass that we have painfully cared, forever. I was sad and angry at the same time. Sad for the grass, angry on the cats. Considering that these cats at the neighborhood could be stray cats (means it does not belong to anyone), I decided on another step as well – lodging a complaint with the local council to catch these stray cats. I even posted the photos of the Satan roaming at the neighborhood. They came and search for cats (not sure if they tried hard enough) but they replied that they did not find any cats and went off. It was surprise because those cats was indeed went missing for a few days before making their appearances back to be a nuisance.

Then we learned another trick from another neighbor who also had problems with the cats and basically wiped out her garden full of flowers and vegetables, not to mention leaving a loadful of poops. Short of basically coming out with samurai swords to basically skin the cats alive, she discovered another thing that cats hate and cause them to stay away – black garbage bags. The only downside of using garbage bags is that when it rains, it tends to collect rainwater – a potential breeding place for mosquitoes. We rearranged the wood boards, covered some areas with the spikes and other places with garbage bag (we keep a close eye on the pools of rainwater after it is rains “cats” and dogs).

It has been several weeks since the Satan last made the visit to my house and there is no more of cat poops to handle. The garden – the beautiful garden with it’s nice carpet grass is gone. Now my garden looks more like a construction area and that looks ugly too. My dad suggested we replace the grass with pebbles and transform the garden into a Zen garden instead. I still see the cats around and in front of my house, often staring at me with a strange, angry look. I sometimes catch them gathering in front of the house (no poops though) and I would immediately shoo them away – most will run away except one or two cats who won’t budge an inch. Instead they would just stare at me and seems to tell me to “f-off”. But because I don’t have them pooping in my garden (or whatever that is left of the garden), there is some peace in the world for now. But that does not means I hate less the cats now – my hate remains unchanged – they have destroyed my garden, I am not going to forgive them for that.

The battle won, the war is still on-going…

All in the name of Religion Part 2


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source)

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

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

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

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

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