A Long, Long Way from Pluto


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

One would be the NASA spacecraft New Horizons

NHHopkinsPoster_posterSize

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source)

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

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

And finally, the discovery of Earth 2.0

earth 20 large

(Image source: NASA)

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

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

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

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

(Source)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Whack The Wrongdoers Hard, Please!


Read these first:-

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(Here lies the problem – some people have no sense of responsibility whatsoever just because they are spending money that does not belong to them and they know that if they can waste the taxpayers money without any care or prudence, they will not be punished even if it was reported by the Auditor General. Image source: http://tarpon.wordpress.com)

I guess those who had voted for the Barang Naik (BN) politicians in the last general election must be regretting their decision now. You know, somehow, “I told you so” just doesn’t quite say it, ah? Already there are multiple news in the net on how some people in disguise of “consultants” have been taking the Government and the taxpayers for a ride but there have been only silence and inaction on the part of these politicians. The obvious ones are these:-

Hazmi sits at the top of the pyramid of greed and takes a 10% on each program cost

Under him, he has several assistants to identify runners to identify those contractors and suppliers with the right license or kepala (heading) to be main contractors or suppliers or just a mere front. At the assistants, runners, and front contractors and suppliers level, they rake in a cumulative of 20% of the program’s budget. The balance is likely to be for the real contractors and manufacturers doing the work.

To get themselves paid, Hazmi’s assistants take care of the payment but it is not paid direct but only to the front. The money due to the real contractors and suppliers is released by the front companies after deducting for everyone’s cut. It means there are paper trails everywhere. Hazmi designed the budget for programs to be usually few ringgit short of RM5,000 or RM100,000. Above that, the control system is stringent and manipulable.

If this does not make your blood boil, we do not know what else.

(Source)

And this:-

Two DAP lawmakers want the Education Ministry to explain why it spent RM20 million hiring a private consultant to prepare the National Education Blueprint when it could have been done by “capable personnel” within the government.

Describing the RM20 million as a complete waste of taxpayers’ money, Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming and Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari said the management consultant, McKinsey and Co, should not have been hired as the company was a general management consultant and did not specialise in education.

(Source)

And timing could not be better to dig up more crap from current Government’s total lack of transparency, enforcement and punishment of the wrongdoers. It has become a sheer wastage of taxpayers fund on a regular basis. The recent publication of the Auditor-General’s report was nothing new and only adds to the “good name” of the current Government. If the half-past six politicians are still under a delusion that everything is still OK in the Bolehland and they can sleep in peace at night, let me tell you that the AG’s report is very, very damaging. A responsible Government would have come in the open to admit the findings and announce strong measures to curtail them. Politicians who care about this nation will not sleep until they had made enough noise for the wrong doers to be caught and punished and existing laws & procedures tighten to avoid a repetition in the future. Unfortunately, in reality (and predictably), nothing have been said till now and everything being kept as hush, probably hoping the taxpayers and the opposition will soon forget about the findings.

The malpractices highlighted in the Auditor-General’s report keep repeating because of inadequate planning in procurement, poor drafting of specifications and lack of monitoring and evaluation, said Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas).

To address this, Ideas chief executive officer Wan Saiful Wan Jan has suggested that curbing political interference and using open tender systems would help in plugging the inefficiencies in government procurement which has resulted in millions of ringgit being wasted.

He cited examples in the 2012 AG report which had resulted in wasteful spending, such as the 20 wall clocks which were bought by for RM3,810 each when it cost RM100 each and the three A4 size scanners bought for RM14,760 each which was supposed to cost RM200 each.

He said Ideas was now conducting a study on transparency in how government agencies and department carry out their procurement. “These problems are repeated because there are inadequate procurement planning, poor drafting of specifications, insufficient use of competitive tenders and lack of monitoring and evaluation.

(Source)

Shouldn’t inadequate planning in procurement, poor drafting of specifications and lack of monitoring and evaluation which have been highlighted many times before in the past AG reports been resolved by now? Don’t each Government departments have some kind of operation guide and standard operating procedures? Don’t they have their internal audit processes to follow and meet? Don’t tell me that we are going to pay millions to some foreign consultants to propose the same thing? And if nothing been done in the past, then what difference it makes now? As long we don’t see the wrong doers and those mismanaged millions of taxpayers’ money punished and held accountable, we going to have the same problems reported year in, year out.

To add further, Malaysia have now been named as the most corrupt country in the world – I am sure some thick skinned politicians would have been very happy with this kind of achievements (they probably have dismissed it as an opposition tactics instead of seriously looking into the possible truth). However it was not a big surprise though – it was just a matter of time before we got that title. The sooner the Government wakes up from its slumber sleep, it is better for the rest of us.

Despite Malaysia’s high-profile anti-corruption crusade, half of the corporate executives surveyed by a global corruption watchdog believe that competitors have obtained business in the country through bribery.

Transparency International said Malaysia scored worst in the 2012 Bribe Payers Survey. It asked nearly 3,000 executives from 30 countries whether they had lost a contract in the past year because competitors paid a bribe, and in Malaysia, 50% of them said ‘yes’. Second on the dubious honor roll was Mexico, which was at 48%.

(Source)

And this is where race based NGOs such as Perkasa show their sheer ignorance and dumbness. They jump like their balls been run over by a steamroller when common Malaysians question the need to prolong race based policies and “giveaways” in the name of “empowering” the community economy, knowing very well that such policies have been manipulated to enrich a few and their cronies in past and continues to this day. But the same NGOs had said nothing or jumped in protest when millions is wasted by lack of enforcement and corruption – doesn’t the same community set to lose a lot more if such leakage is not stopped and the wrong-doers are not booked to stop the repeated wastage? Or are they simply going to ignore this just because those who cause such leakages and do nothing to curtail the leakages are from the same community? It looks like that is the case many times over. No wonder whatever they say and do does not carry any sense of creditability and is a total waste of space.

And when the AG report bring the crap into the open, instead of accepting the hard cold fact and whack the wrong doers hard & ensuring that this will be the last time such incident happens, sadly, some politicians (never mind if they are dumb enough to be caught on video supporting criminal gangs and admission of breach of rule of law) now tries to even justify the wrong doing:-

On Friday, when asked by the press about the firearms mysteriously missing from the police armory, as discovered by the Auditor-Genera, Zahid was quick to pitch himself as the champion and defender of the ‘maligned’ police force.

Insisting that the weapons ‘lost’ by the police were due to human error and not foul play, Zahid rather high-handedly forbade any more discussion on the matter. He even picked on and publicly berated a reporter to emphasize his point.

“I think this is ridiculous behavior from a minister. It is blatantly self-serving. As the Home Minister, the police have to answer to Zahid in many matters but who is he to forgive their wrongdoings. Firstly, this was reported by the Auditor-General, not fabricated by the Opposition. Secondly, have the police carried out an internal probe, why are the findings not released,” Opposition MP for Batu Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.

(Source)

And it seems like the whole of the Government seems powerless (no thanks to their own shortcomings) to bring about the drastic measures needed to stop the rot for once and for all:-

The Auditor-General’s report for 2012 is alarming. And this is so not only because it exposed huge wastage committed by government departments last year, but also because nothing seems to have changed all these many years.

Year after year, the A-G tells us of cases of improper payment; of purchases made at astronomical prices; of unreasonable project delays; of poor asset management; of non-adherence to procedures, etc, etc. But year after year, nothing is done to address the shortcomings.

It seems as if our civil service just continues to plod on, continues to waste, continues to be inefficient, continues to make corrupt transactions. And the overriding controller – i.e. the Government – just lets it be.

The Government knows from the A-G’s reports that corruption is rife in the civil service, but it probably realises it doesn’t have the moral standing to haul in the culprits. After all, the civil servants are following the example of the country’s leadership. And since the Government has also not shown itself to be accountable for a lot of things, how can we stop the rot?

Worse, our civil servants seem to have acquired a tidak apa mindset because the money that is being wasted, that it being improperly used, that is going into the pockets of some of them, is not theirs. When I was in school, we used to characterise such an attitude with the jeering taunt: “You think this is your grandfather’s money ah?” It’s still applicable here and now.

(Source)

I say this again and I have said it many times before – if the Government feel that they need to increase the taxes and reduces the subsidies just to ensure that they have enough to keep the country going, that is fine and fair. But what is the point of the people need to pay more of everything if the blatant waste and mismanagement by the Government itself on the other hand remains high and continues to bleed the nation of its resources. After all, if unnecessary expenses are not curtailed (spending RM3,810 for a RM100 clock for example), the Government will have no choice but to reduce the various subsidies, borrow more money and keep taxes high. At the end of the day, the rot must stop. The “tidak apa” attitude must stop. The blatant wastage of taxpayers’ money must stop. The super unbelievable leniency on the wrong doers must stop. The day of hiring thirsty vampires to guard our blood banks must stop.

Those who commit wastage and corrupt must be charged with criminal breach of trust, bank accounts frozen, their property seized and they are made to spent a good number of their years behind bars. Investigations on the paper trails must be made so that all those involved one way or another are caught and punished. Those politicians who allow (by action, omission or sheer stupidness) this to continue to happen must face the same consequences. Punish the wrong-doers at both ends without any fear or mercy. Malaysia does not need these traitors running the show – we are becoming champions of the world for wrong reasons. The AG have done a very good job highlighting the shortcomings in managing taxpayers funds. The only thing that is needed now is a change of attitude and political will power to take out the cane and start whacking the wrong doers hard so that the rest will be more careful when dealing with taxpayers money. If this failed, then it is evident that the Government itself have failed the trust of the people and is corrupt to the core and thus, must be removed in the next general election.

Can this be done now and without the “ifs and buts”?

The unexpected “Christmas Gift” from MAS to “MAS”


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(MAS in the good old days when we were proud call it as our national carrier – Picture source: www.Airline.net)
Christmas was early in MAS; at least it was in the MAS Chairman’s office with a gift of RM1.5 million worth paintings to adorn his office walls

At times when MAS is increasing it’s airfare due to escalating expenses and keep posting huge losses, the last thing that we would expected from them is a RM1.5 million expenditure for some paintings. “Good” excuses were given by the Deputy Transport Minister of course – “maintain the stature of the place” and “the money came under MAS’ current expenditure”. He must been an idiot to utter the said excuses and expect people to buy it (sorry to say idiot but there is no other logical explanation). We won’t buy it of course but I can bet that some clowns in Parliament would with their eyes closed and open arms.

I wonder what kind of “benefit” the painting will give if it is placed in the MAS chairman’s office? MAS chairman Datuk Dr Munir Majid who has been in the news for coming up with some “drastic measures” to cut down cost, seems to pleasure him with a little luxury, a luxury of RM1.5 million. Oh course, we forget on the other “lame” reason given that it is part of the current expenditure. I suppose that the other unnecessary expense that is bogging down MAS is also part of the current expenditure? Way to go, MAS. At this rate, you will bleed yourself (and the nation) to death faster.

I admit that in the end it is a corporate decision of course – they can spend on whatever they want to spend but when the rakyat’s money is pumped into the company indirectly to keep it afloat, this is certainly going to raise our eyebrows. It demands a full accountability. If MAS had given RM1.5 million worth of air-tickets like what Air Asia have done, it would have been a better publicity to the carrier than just 3 paintings hanging in the Chairman’s office. The rakyat at least could have enjoyed something in return and propelled to support the carrier further.

Lim Kit Siang in his blog informed that Munir and Idris Jala told the Parliament that MAS is considering selling the paintings. Note the word – “considering”. If the allegations in MGGPillai are true, the resale value of the paintings may not even fetch couple of thousands of ringgit, it may even just cost RM300. That is a shortfall of almost RM1.2 million, down the drain. Lim Kit Siang asks who is going to bear the cost on the shortfall. Munir? Very unlikely! The rakyat? You are right on there.

So, is the RM1.5 millions is just a tip of iceberg or more “Christmas Gifts” are on their way for Munir and his gang in MAS?

Read the allegations on how MAS is wasting rakyat’s money with Munir’s free for all expenditure and Chris Andrews appointment at MGGPillai at here and here. . Fact or fiction? Judge it for yourself and you are left to wonder whether the Deputy Transport Minister is telling the truth to the Parliament?

(Filed under Del.icio.us Tag: Governance)