When On A Mission…


At the airport

(My favorite shot – taken when I am at departure gate, coming back home. It is also means mission completed successfully and I have 1 less thing to worry once I am back)

Hold on for a second whilst I l take a moment to dust off the dust from this blog.

Damn, is that been that long since we last met? My sincere apology to all those who drop by this blog to hear my usual rants. When one is in a mission, time is premium. We will only have “x” amount of hours in a day and there are times when I had gone to the bed without shower or changing clothes. To put it summarily, I love blogging very much but I love sleeping off my tiredness after a hard day at work even more. For now, I have no choice but to leave this blog to continue to collect dust but it does not mean it will be the end of my blogging – I assure you. At least for the next few months.

But before that…

I am still away on work assignment and sometimes it feels like I am in a war zone with me leading a small platoon of highly specialised soldiers on a mission deep in the enemy’s territory, eating our rations on the move and sleeping out on the dirt with our fingers firmly on the trigger of our automatic assault rifles. Ya, I can almost taste it in the air. And it was reality when I was in the middle east a few years with my morning pick up consisted of a four wheel drive and a solider with a fully loaded AK 47 for security. And homecoming after such “mission” is simply sweet – no moment is more memorable than seeing my kids and hugging them and then going off to sleep on my own bed.

And since I have not been at home so much this year (and last few months last year), I try to spent as much time as possible at home. The feeling to date has been very much rewarding. A trip to the beach is on my “must do” list and I know just the place to go – one with a view facing the sea and a good spicy nasi lemak in the morning for breakfast.

Oh did I mentioned that when I was about to go back to Malaysia the last time around, my car had problem – it refused to start bringing the bad memories when the car immobiliser had problems and I had to fork out almost RM900 for the repairs. This time it was less painful – the battery was dead and I only had to change the batteries. It was overdue anyway. Tires would be the next in the list – since I bought the car, I am still using the same tires although it has numerous hole patch works and it is getting noisier too. The superb Michelins again? You see, other than seeing my kids, the other thing that gives me the satisfaction is driving my car around. The last thing I need to have problems with the car, if you get my drift.

One new country ventured last year and I may be venturing into 2 new countries this year with an even more challenging assignments. If given the choice, I wish (should be able to) to keep the same “platoon” for the next mission. It has been a winning team for the past few missions. I thank them for being a very proactive team and one takes their work very serious and yet still have time to make good jokes at wee hours.

More missions abroad this year only means more sleepless nights and plenty of junk food and coffee. So I do expect my body and mind to take a considerable beating this year and since I am not getting any younger, I just hope that there will be some room for recovery from the madness. Perhaps it is high time for me to finally agree to my wife’s request to take her to spa with me joining her (damn, I could use a good massage to my knees and to my right feet).

On the country front, the petrol prices have been down but I have not been around long for me to enjoy them. And with GST set to start soon, I doubt things will get cheaper to buy and use – no thanks to the short sighted and dumb politicians at the control.

And speaking of politicians, if you had read the news, Anwar have been found guilty by the Federal Court today and will be spending 5 years behind bars. If you ask me, it is not necessarily be a bad thing for Pakatan. It is not the end of the story. To some who support the opposition, Anwar has been nothing more than a liability – his Kajang Move (one of the dumbest move to date) some how validated that point.

With Anwar out of the way, perhaps there will be greater improvement within PKR and thus Pakatan. It will be interesting to see how things forms up in the next general elections. At the end of the day, we just need a Government that dislikes corruption and wastage of taxpayers and do not practise double standards.

If it is related to the politicians and the ways they take the country and its people for a ride, we can talk about it all day long and one can still have plenty to talk about and this can go on and on. So let’s keep our cool and teach them a lesson they will never forget in the next general elections. The opposition have been at it in the last 2 general elections and they have been eating up the votes from the Government bit by bit.

Anyway coming back to blogging, I wish I could do better and whenever I started to type previously, funny thing happens – I dozed off and filled up the pages with invalid words. So, please bear with me for the time being. I have also been taking less photos when overseas – the Sony Xperia has a good camera but most of the time, I forget that it has one. In the meantime, please be free to roam around my previous posts. I will do up new ones when I am off the mission.

Will see you soon….

When the Mind Goes AWOL


I did not check but this probably one of the longest gap when it comes to blogging.

Working 7 days a week including working up to 10 at night on the weekdays sure pulls the energy from the mind. Somehow, I still force myself to take a late night shower (I have tried but I could not bring myself to bed without a shower…it simply feels too “sticky”) and sometimes put the clothes for washing. Then it is off to the bed and wake up again at about 6.30 am (without alarm) after the alarm goes off at 5.45 am, 5.50 am and 6.00 am (I am rarely aware of the time I switch off the alarm on 3 separate occasions).

I went back home for a couple of days just before Father’s Day. My kids were waiting for me at the front door as I got down from the taxi. First to hear was my youngest’s voice calling me loud and the next is my son rushing to open the front gate. They were indeed very excited to see me back (although it was for a few days). We slept very late that night with my son having tonnes of story to tell (as usual) with the youngest chipping in with her own baby language and jumping on my stomach as she often do. When I falling off to sleep, she even passed me her favorite blanket. My wife had a list of her own for me starting with the washing machine which have been giving some trouble (I almost smiled when I heard the washing machine mentioned).

Yes, I missed my car too. My wife had forgotten to get it washed before I came back but it did not matter much. Driving for that few days and despite being stuck in traffic jam did not deter me from having a great time driving. Ya, Malaysian drivers are still one of the worst kind out there and pesky motorcyclists remains the parasites of the road but some how it was different for that few days. Perhaps after almost a month of being driven around from the workplace and to the apartment and judging on how others drive the car made me miss my own driving. Perhaps.

I miss the good old Malaysian food as well (and yes, that includes my wife’s cooking). Somehow the limau panas tasted better than ever and it did not cost me a bomb for me to have a good healthy lunch with plenty of vegetables. A far cry now where a simple nasi campur have plenty of rice and chicken but almost non existing vegetables and it cost as much as dining in 5 star hotel. But I found the perfect place to dine (yes, it is still expensive) but somehow healthier than the other more premium looking place. This is one reason why home is still the best place to be.

It was a short break indeed and soon it was time to fly back for the overseas assignment.

FD

The night before I flew back overseas was great. We had a good dinner and a quick shopping for the essentials. My son had wanted to buy a rabbit (he knows the right time to ask me) but there was no time to go to the pet shop. I told him that we will revisit this once I am back. My son knew that I was flying out the next morning and I saw sadness in his face but my daughter was still too young to understand things (the same happened to my son when he was small to a point that he thought I worked at the airport). And that night, my son presented me with his “Father’s Day” wish card which was lovely and very touching indeed. He always have something to say that leaves me speechless and it was the same case this time around.

This morning, I had a good conversation with an elderly gentleman taxi driver (he was 72 years old but drives perfectly) who had served in the Air Force back in the 1960s and at once was attached to the Royal Malaysian Air Force. When he heard that I was from Malaysia, his first question was this – “What had happened to Malaysia? From a country that had a good chance to be one of the powerful country in the region, it had turned into a country that full of crime, corruption and going down the drain”. I kept my silence. Not that I am not angry with a foreigner speaking badly of my beloved country but because I saw in the old man’s eyes, he was very disappointed. He was sincere. He knows the nonsense that the so-called leaders are doing on a regular basis (in case you don’t realised by now, the country is running on auto pilot on a very regular basis and has come to a point, had become a heaven for terrorists from all around the world and religion extremists). There was some truth in what he said. Just like the old man who is a foreigner, we are asking the same question.

Oh, never mind. No point talking about it now. The only way we can clean the house proper is through the elections. I don’t see the logic of the corrupt, the extremists and the short-minded ones to be continued to be voted in to rule this country. There will come a day when the corrupt, the lazy and the selfish are caught, stripped naked and lashed by the millions on public grounds. We seems to have more bad things lining up compared to good things and this gets amplified when one is abroad where there is more unity among the people, extreme view of race & religion is non-existence, very strict control & enforcement at the borders to keep the foreign criminals & scammers away (we on the other hand are welcoming them with open arms) and there a general direction and accountability from the local politicians (I say “general” because politicians from matter from which country, era or background will never be angels).

That’s all for now, hopefully I can write something next week but for now, I am squeezing all available free time on catching up on sleep.

Bersih 2.0: Reform Cause Torpedoed?


Ya, ya still on Bersih 2.0 rally but this is the last one, I promise…

(The famed stand-off between the peaceful protestors and police who bend on breaking up the rally at whatever the cost. Poster source: Mob’s Crib)

It has been interesting reading everyone’s post rally experiences, opinions and suggestions over Bersih 2.0’s recent rally and there have been gems such as these:-

The iconic image of Bersih 2.0 was refreshing; that of its leader Ambiga Sreenivasan, former Bar Council President, serenely leaving the Istana after an audience with the King. The symbolism could not be overstated, for the Najib Administration had earlier declared her organization illegal! Only those retarded would miss the message, and they are precisely the types we are dealing with here. (Source)

And this

The police formed a human barricade, arms crossed, and barbed wire at the entrance of the road just a short distance from the Stadium. A. Samad Said came and talked with the policemen. Such a frail man, but so strong. We sang Negaraku … and we sang it from the heart. (Source)

And more here, here and here and I must say that it has been very inspiring indeed.

But then on the other side of the coin, there has been more than a handful of blogs that had questioned the legality of the rally and its negative impact on the country (it was no surprise that some of these blogs are run by well known pro BN, pro Najib bloggers). There are also others who claim that the sanctity and independence of the rally has been hijacked by politicians for their own political mileage. Yes, it is possible but then again, where do we mark the line between ordinary Malaysians who want to see positive change to a corrupt system and politicians who may or may not have hidden agendas. Then there is the question of why one needs a street rally to give the demands to the King when the organizers could have slip it in when they met the King, days before the rally (this one probably needs another detailed analysis on the need for publicity in order to make the maximum impact on the cause but not now).

Then I read Aizuddin Danian’s post titled “How Bersih torpedoed the cause of electoral reforms?” Aizuddin Danian had always made sense in his blog and it worth the read all the time. Aizuddin Danian makes 3 points as to why Bersih torpedoed the cause of electoral reforms:-

1. 50,000 people do not make the majority. As with any large demonstration, they do make a hell of a noise, enough for the international Press to take notice, enough for the nation to be talking for weeks over the issue. But, it is still a relatively small number. How many people who between now and the date of GE13 will change their minds again for whatever reason that might come up. It’s too soon still to tell if the primary impact of the rally yesterday will hold true till the next time voters are asked to visit the polls

2. The rally yesterday was illegal. As much as the Opposition say they want the rule of law to prevail, it seems rather convenient that when the rule of law goes against them, they choose to ignore it, then cry foul when the authorities enforce it. When Bersih asked for the rickety Stadium Merdeka of 30k capacity to be the venue of their 50-100k rally, what would have been the responsible thing to do? It’s almost as though the request for such a small venue was made in bad faith, calculated to be denied so that Bersih could regain the moral high ground after losing some during the King’s surprise intervention.

3. For the Government to agree to the 8 electoral reforms (several of which have absolutely nothing to do with the elections but are more political in nature, some of which the Opposition themselves can’t claim to be free of, see PKR’s recently concluded internal “elections”), would set a dangerous precedent for the future. The moment any Government allows itself to be blackmailed (“do this or else we take to the streets”), it legitimizes the strategy of the mob. Get the mob onto the streets and the Government will give in. That’s just wrong, no matter how valid the demands

As I said, Aizuddin Danian had always made sense and he is entitled to his points, no doubt but here’s why I don’t think Bersih had torpedoed the cause of electoral reforms.

“….50,000 people do not make the majority…”

1. To tell you the truth, we will never know how many Malaysians really backed Bersih 2.0 (at least by actively going down to the streets for rally on 9th July 2011), not with the daily demonization that Government has been spilling on the Government controlled medias and the various threats that has been aimed at potential rally participants for many weeks now by the Government, the police, ruling political party members, that ball-less clown and some martial art Mahaguru. So, if despite all that you get 50,000 on the street, it can be considered as simply amazing and cannot be considered as a small number. Especially when we have also not included those passive supporters of Bersih who did not go down to the streets but agree on the purpose of the rally.

And there is this issue of people shouting at the rallies in support of the oppositions but doing something else when it comes to the actual voting day. It is not new and we have seen it happening at every general election. It is something that Bersih organizer has to work on even though the rally has now ended. They have to be consistent and ensure continued awareness of the election process weaknesses and the need for reforms.

Please don’t wait for Bersih 3.0. Yes, it may be still too soon to tell if Bersih 2.0 has made the positive impact but if nothing is done to keep up the notion of changes for free and fair elections, you can expect the process to remain unchanged for the next general election as well. The ball is in Bersih 2.0’s court now on this matter.

“…the rally yesterday was illegal…”

2. To say that the rally was illegal without due consideration on the Government’s response on the rally would be unfair to the organizers. The power to determine the legality of the rally unfortunately had fallen on the Government and it is simply convenient (and beneficial) for them to label the rally as illegal. We need to first consider if due consideration has been given to the permit application. We cannot ignore the fact that Bersih did attempted several times to obtain police permit. Public order and safety was cited as the overriding factor to deny the application.

This may been valid but the very nature of the Government of strongly opposing Bersih 2.0 from day 1 seems to paint a picture that decision may have been made in a rush and without any viable option for Bersih. If indeed public order and safety was the overriding factor to deem the rally as illegal, then what did police do to allow the rally to proceed whilst ensuring public order and safety remained intact? Was there any suggestion given to Bersih 2.0 (discounting the last minute ditch to offer police permit if the rally was held in PR led state)? Did they provide Bersih 2.0 with a list of rally conditions such as limiting number of people allowed to rally, setting a predetermined location where it is easier for the police to control the crowd and specific time for rally to start & end?

As I recall, there was none, to an extent, after meeting with the King, Bersih 2.0 had to even ask the police to dictate the route of the rally but it was rejected outright as well. Other than simply denying permit which now makes the rally to be illegal, there was no serious attempt to allow Malaysian to have peaceful rally and present their demand to the Government.

The idea of having the rally in a stadium was made only after Najib opened his mouth and implied that police permit would be granted if the rally was held in a stadium. He did not say which stadium but the option of having it in Stadium Merdeka somehow made bloody sense. It is iconic and it is where Proclamation of Independence was done. It was a perfect choice. And once again, the Government and the police could have dictated the number of protestors allowed inside the stadium and work together with Bersih 2.0 organizers to enforce it. But in the end, this did not happen as well. Despite opening his mouth and making the offer for the rally to be held in a stadium, the Government then backtracked and used the police as the front to delay any kind of rallies from taking place.

“…set a dangerous precedent for the future…”

3. Before we can say that by accepting the demands, it sets a dangerous precedent and allows the Government to be blackmailed, we must first consider what the demands are. Were those demands is something critical and more importantly reasonable?

Let’s look at the demands by Bersih 2.0 and see whether it passes the simple test of reasonableness. Did Bersih 2.0 demanded for a statue of Anwar’s grandfather to be erected in the middle of the city? No, that would have been highly unreasonable and the Government would have been in their rights to refuse to such demands outright. Or did Bersih 2.0 request that RM1 million compensation to be paid to each Malaysian like how Hindraf did several years ago? No, because that means good taxpayers money to be wasted on something unsubstantiated and worthless. So, what were the Bersih 2.0’s demands and whether those demands reasonable?

Let’s recap the demands once again:-

1. Clean the electoral roll
2. Reform postal ballot
3. Use of indelible ink
4. Minimum 21 days campaign period
5. Free and fair access to media
6. Strengthen public institutions
7. Stop corruption
8. Stop dirty politics

Take a good look at the list and close your eyes and think – are those demand reasonable or unreasonable. If the demands are reasonable, then why it is not implemented earlier and why when another party highlights the weaknesses and improvements, it is considered as blackmailing the Government? Why the refusal to review the demands without any due consideration? No doubt some of the proposed reforms is political in nature but in Malaysia where fine line of processes being independence from influence of politics is often blurred, reforms (political in nature or not) is still needed for a better Malaysia. The Government simply needs to find the political will to make the changes – if not all, part of them.

Of course, the ruling political party has their reasons not to make the changes to the election process – the loopholes favors them in certain ways, hence the public rally by Bersih 2.0 with plenty of participation from the opposition political parties. And we are not talking about violent mob running loose on the streets with sole aim to create uneasiness and trail of destruction. We are talking about ordinary Malaysians on a peaceful rally requesting for the reforms of the electoral. In that sense, it is not wrong considering how valid the demands are.

The strong participation of Pakatan Rakyat politicians in Bersih 2.0 somehow had clouded the NGO’s thrust for electoral reforms. That I must agree. It however does not mean that electoral process has been too perfect and does not need of any reforms. It does and Bersih 2.0’s demands should form the basis of reforms that the Government and the Election Commission should be considering to ensure that the people’s votes are properly translated to electing the right people to the Parliament and State Assemblies and these elected politicians do their job in the interest of the country and people instead for themselves and the political party that they belonged to. The fact that the Opposition had won some seats should never be used as the yardstick to gauge the how free and fair our elections been.

All we asked for due consideration on something that should been done a long, long time ago. That is all.

Reviews Outsourced


(Image source: http://fabe-lous.blogspot.com)

I started blogging in 2005 – it seems to be “in” thing back then

I started blogging mainly because I wanted an avenue to put my thoughts in writing and improve on my mastery of English (I am still trying). And along the way, I have picked something on presentation, html and coding. Blogging also became a mean of communication between me and my wife when I had to travel overseas.

Then one day, I took a step back and had a hard look at my blog. Surely it was not a specialized blog – it had too many things in it, often driven by my mood, news of the day or simply, the country I was in. I often bring along my camera wherever I go and over the years, my photo collection has been growing too. I have put up some of the photos in the main blog but often it is presented as the “side story” and in smaller resolutions. I had to have a dedicated site for the photos. So, a year later my photo blog was born. It was going great for sometime – yes it has been sometime since I last update it but at least, my blogging on photos will be focused on dedicated site instead of cluttering in my already multi-themed posts main blog.

And over the years, a few more blogs have born (some remains stagnant now) – mainly because I wanted to write on certain things but I do not want it to be mixed up in my main blog posts.

Since I need to travel often and sometimes I end up going to places where there is no entertainment or cable TV (or beer), I often had to bring my own “entertainment” to keep my sanity up (it is either that or bring along a captivating computer games). And traveling also means I spend most of my free time watching movies – mostly via cable TV or when that is not possible, from cheap DVDs and movie files. It is one of the best ways to kill time – watching a good movie is almost as good as reading a good book, almost. And in the last few months, I have noticed that my collection of music, movies, documentaries and animations have been slowly growing too. And it is easier these days to transport it from a “space hungry” discs into a small file that can be stored away in an external hard disc instead of in a cabinet.

And out of the many, on the contrary I have done a very few reviews in my main blog. Reasons for this is rather simple – 1. There is already less time for me to do write-ups for more critical issues (like this) for the main blog, what more on posts on a lesser critical posts like movie reviews, and 2. While I like the diversity in my blog posts, given the number of the movie I watched during my free time, I do not want the main blog to be dominated by movie reviews alone.

Clearly I was running behind on my reviews especially when there are some unknown movies simply that blow you away. But faced with the same dilemma that I had with my photos, I don’t want to have too many movie reviews to clog up my main blog, it was clear that I need to “outsource” again – this time to a dedicated site for English movie reviews (includes others like documentaries, animations and concerts) and another for Tamil movie reviews.

To kick things up, head over here for review on the movie Buried (2010) and here for review on Tamil movie Vaanam (2011)

I hope to do up more reviews soon, now that there is a better place to do up the reviews as compared to previous time and also to distract the focus from the headache that one had when had to content with the issues facing the country and the future generation. And with an unexpected “break” in my daily routines this month, it gives good opportunity to catch up my previous “should have done, should have watched” reviews. Comments and suggestions on the review sites are always welcomed, of course.

Theme Headache


(Image source: http://www.netfirms.com/blog/)

Regular visitors to this blog must be wondering on the question – why the theme of the blog keeps changing?

To tell you the truth, I am rather unsettled with the existing templates from WordPress (either that or I am lost for blog content) – there are good ones there but somehow there are always some kind shortcomings in those themes.

The size of the side bar is too large, the content size too small, the font is not right or too ugly, the quote area is not standard, the background colour is too dark or too light and sometimes the layout is just not right – side bar at the bottom instead on the side.

So bear with me until I run through the existing templates and find the right one for me to sit on.

On Break


(Good thing I brought tripod for the camera – sunset by the seaside is simply too beautiful to be missed – higher resolution here)

It has been a relaxing weekend for me and the family – a quick trip to sea side resort, good food and revival of upgrade work for my car (major works on this have been planned and hope to complete in 1 month time) before finishing my short break in Malaysia and fly again.

Blogging will take a rest too – now that I have installed couple of new games in my laptop, I am itching to click on the game icon rather than on the blog icon.