Air Bags & Road Taxes


Read these first:-

(Go buy a Proton instead – compared to a “more value for money” brands like Honda, Toyota, Nissan, BMW, Proton is using airbags from Autoliv from Sweden which does not have the same problem as Takata from Japan and is more reliable. Image source: LA Times)

One particular night a few weeks ago, I was driving back from work – the weather was good and the traffic was not so bad.

In front of me, a fairly new Toyota Vios – it has the rear lights working and I did not suspect anything. Then I noticed something amiss. Whenever the traffic slows down, I don’t see any brake lights lighting up from the Toyota Vios. Both the main brake lights and the third brake light were not working. So, when this driver slams his brakes and if you are at the back and you been driving too close, you will not know that the car in front had slowed down – you will likely to rear-end the idiot in front.

Considering the worst case scenario, I kept my distance before deciding that I cannot continue to play Russian roulette with the driver in front. I would never know when he will hit his brakes and I will be rear-ending him. I decided to overtake the driver and once I had gone ahead of him, I saw a middle aged man behind the wheels driving around without any care about other road users. It is obvious that he did not give a damn about the condition of his car too.

Don’t these people check their equipment before they head out? I periodically will check my lights – brake, indicators and fog lights even though the same is done by the mechanics whenever I sent the car for its periodic service.

It is a fact that there are way too many morons driving around with “defective” indicators – even for brand new cars (read my post on this). Defective brake lights are a bit rarer but then again, this is not the first time I see cars with faulty brake lights – they don’t seems to care if the traffic behind them would be alerted and to stop in time. It is another case of “Tidak Apa” which is very famous among Malaysians. Another case that compounds the sickness of this attitude is where the same lazy Malaysians wait till the last seconds before they act on it. You have seen this before – income tax submission, paying fines, changing to the new identification card, etc.

Case of “Tidak Apa” – that was the first thing that came in my mind when I read that the new Minister of Transport (bless the good man) decided to tackle this nuisance:-

Vehicle owners affected by the recall of faulty Takata airbags will not be able to renew their road tax until a replacement has been made, said Anthony Loke Siew Fook.

The Transport Minister said the new directive will take effect next Monday (June 4), adding that all affected vehicle owners must obtain a certificate from their respective car dealership to prove that they have changed their airbags.

Loke said that car companies involved in the global mandatory recall of Takata airbags must submit a list of vehicles which haven’t replace their airbags to the Road Transport Department (JPJ).

“We will input the list of all vehicles that have not changed their airbags into our system. I have also directed JPJ not to renew the road tax of these vehicles unless they replaced their airbags.

(Source)

In case you have kept your head in the ground, people have died from these faulty airbags and yet some people have been sitting on this time bomb as if it will not affect them. I know for certain Toyota and Honda had been making announcements after announcements and sending thousands of letters & notices and yet there are still plenty of the jokers still driving around with faulty airbags, waiting to blow and take half of their face off. Of course, they had their excuses – the service center had run out of replacement airbags, they had sold off the car to another (so it is no more their problem) or they have moved to another address (so they are not aware of the letters and notices).

For this, I have to say “Come on lah! The issue of recalls due to faulty airbag supplied by Takata is not something new”.

In fact, the issue with defective airbag was first raised back in 2013 and Takata eventually went bankrupt:-

In 2013, a series of deaths and injuries associated with defective Takata airbag inflators had led Takata to initially recall 3.6 million cars equipped with such airbags. Further fatalities caused by the airbags have led the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to order an ongoing, nationwide recall of more than 42 million cars, the largest automotive recall in U.S. history.

(Source)

The idea of stopping people from renewing their road tax until they get their faulty airbag fixed is the best idea that the authorities had implemented. Thank God we voted in the Pakatan Harapan government and we got new Ministers who at least think before acting. Of course, this idea of stopping people from renewing their road tax until they get their faulty airbag fixed did not go well for some people (I have to assume that it must be the same people who do things at the very last minute).

Interestingly the Minister is aware that some people are not happy with the decision – they say that this move is unfair and it slaps them that Pakatan Harapan government is the same in form as the previous BN government.

He plainly said this:-

“If they want to complain about me making their lives troublesome by having to go through a tedious process, let them do so. I would rather be complained at than visit another victim of an accident that could have been avoided in the first place,” he said

(Source)

I strongly agree with the Minister –further the previous BN minister did not do much to force this safety initiative on the defective air-bag replacement through.

Another argument is that the car manufacturers did not have enough Takata replacement air-bags despite the urgency. It is possible in the past but it is up to the car owners to keep pressing the car companies to keep enough stock and ensure their defective airbag replaced.

Just like any other defective parts in the car that impacts your personal safety – if your local car service center says that they don’t have the parts now, do you wait and consider the matter as solved? Or it will continue to bug you every second and you will look for another service center that may has the part? And even if they don’t have stock in place, it does not mean one should take a seat back and wait for someone to lay the red carpet, do they?

That’s why I would say that the Hons Minister’s idea of using the road tax renewal as a mean of enforcement tools to force the defective air bag as soon as possible is a brilliant one. Moving forward, I think it should be extended to those vehicles with defective brake lights too.

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Bootloops, Internet & Shitty Service Center


(A short break from a post on MH370 – we are still hopeful of finding the wreck and getting to the bottom of the reason why the plane went missing. Looking at the various flip-flop statements coming out from the politicians, there is little doubt why countries like China is whacking Malaysia left right and center and now we have the criminals from the South of Philippines kidnapping tourists from Sabah under the very nose of ESSCOM. Another case of someone sleeping on the job?)

It happened once when I still had my trusted N8 and not surprisingly it has happened again

Well, it started with this:-

Swedish developer Knowit Mobile already has a number of Xperia Themes in the Google Play Store. It has now released seven more, which includes three freebies. You won’t find these themes through Sony Select right now, so you’ll have to go direct to the Google Play Store. You will find links to the Play Store and pictures of each of the new themes below.

(Source)

You know me, I soon get bored with the existing themes and seeing one that seemed to be custom made for Xperia (and seemed to be endorsed by Sony and it is in Google Play), this new set of themes looked very tempting.

snow

(I love the icons at the bottom – it was a very cool theme but unfortunately with a hidden time bomb. Image source: Google Play)

However I then made 2 mistakes.

Mistake No. 1 – Changing the standard Xperia themes to something else when the standard themes are already working well and perfectly. Why fix something when it is not broken, eh?

Mistake No. 2 – Not reading further into the post above and read the readers comments. Otherwise I would have discovered that there is something wrong with this theme.

I had installed some of the themes and it was working well until one fine morning, I noticed there was still one theme I have not installed – Winter Snow. It looked great too. It looked alright when I installed the theme and nothing looked out of the ordinary as I navigated the various functions on my phone with the new theme installed. I have installed plenty of apps before but nothing wrong have happened.

Anyway after the new theme installed, I just placed my phone on the side and continued with my work. A couple of minutes later, I noticed something from the corner of my eyes – the phone was restarting. I don’t know why it restarted. It usually happens when there is a major upgrade but there was none for the day. I waited for it to restart but something was not right – it restarts and then half way, it stops and restarts again. This goes on and on. I know then I was in trouble. And I know that the new theme must be screwing things up and thus I had to uninstall it.

For a moment, I panicked and was cursing myself. I quickly checked on the internet on how to stop this insane restart and how to do a hard reset or start on a safe mode. No matter how many times I press on the power on and the volume down (with different sequences), nothing changed. After a couple of attempts unsuccessfully, I gave up. The only choice left was to bring it to the Sony authorized service center. I checked on Sony’s website – the nearest one was either at KLCC or Mid Valley. Then I noticed there was another service center near Sunway (their out-sourced authorized service center). I decided to try my luck there as it was nearer – I urgently needed my phone to make calls and at the moment, I only had a faulty phone that was booting in a loop and could not be shut off (it was getting warmer too).

I rushed to the nearest service center  and noticed that there was only 1 customer at the waiting area. I saw one lady at the counter and so I walked over and showed my phone to the lady at the counter. She was lazily looked at my phone and then looked at me. What she said next made me speechless for a moment – they don’t handle smartphones. Apparently they handle all other items made by Sony but not smartphones (but that was not what I saw on the Sony’s website). I thought she was pulling a fast one on me. I insisted that she call a technician and take a look nonetheless. She reverted that even they assist me on this, it will take 1 – 2 months for the phone to be fixed.

She asked me to go to KLCC instead and she gave me a number to call. That was not acceptable and I persisted for someone OTHER than her (one look at her told me that she is not a tech savvy) to give my faulty phone a look but nothing moved. Ya, you can call it Mistake No. 3.  It had all the element of “tidak apa” written on the wall. So I decided that there was no point talking to this lady at the counter and try my luck with the service center at KLCC over the weekends. That means a couple of days without my smartphone but it looks like I had no other choice.

I was angry for wasting my time with the so-called service center and feeling very frustrated, I went back to the internet, hoping that someone out there, some where in the world would have faced the same problem and managed to find a workable solution. Another trip to the Sony Mobile website for trouble shooting and tips however did not do anything to resolve the problem. I was back to square one and the phone was getting even warmer by now. I was beginning to get worry and Yoda’s statement on the dark side of the force echoed in my mind – “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering”? I was suffering indeed.

I tried a different key words in the Google Search and then something positive showed up:-

Hi, speak from Brazil.

I’m here to warn you guys that the themes of Sony, those new (cute) themes simple put our Xperia SP to bootloop, don’t use them in any circumstances.

I’ve made a lot of test in the firmware 12.1.0.266 and when i put any of those damn themes and turn off my phone, it just enter in bootloop mode when i try to turn it on again.

Then i have to use SUS to recovery phone.

I’ll repeat

DO NOT USE THE NEW THEMES IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
UNFORTUNATELY SONY MESSED UP OUT PHONE.

just want to warn you guys, sorry about the English.

(Source)

At last a light at the end of the tunnel!

The only way available now was using the SUS program (Sony Update Service) but that would erase all data & installed programs at the same time. Between the phone kept booting up unsuccessfully and causing me to miss my calls and SMSes & leaving with no other choice but to take time to go to the Sony service center at KLCC and me losing the data in the phone, I decided to go for the latter.

I downloaded and then powered up SUS and there was some moments before SUS were able to detect the phone (I misread the steps provided by SUS and cause the phone not detected). Then it took about 5 minutes for SUS to download Android 4.3 for Xperia SP and installed it. My phone then recovered and able to boot normally. It was missing all my phone contacts, apps and SMS logs – 2 of it (contacts & SMS logs) were easily restored using my earlier backup using Sony PC Companion. The apps on the hand will take some time to be updated to the level before I hit the problem in the morning. But at the end of the day, the phone was back to normal and I need not go to KLCC.

The internet is indeed a great place to look for information and tips and saves a whole load of trouble with the service centers. The solution on the internet solves my boot loop problem in less than 10 minutes – a far cry from the 1 – 2 months that the lady mentioned to me.

MH370: Time to Reassess the Shortcomings


4077633935_e8b98a72fe_o

(Substitute the chill beer, wine and other liquors on a board with locally made, sugar high cendol and a plane is guaranteed not to crash into the sea – so says a joker in Malaysia. Perhaps he is right but then again this is not the right time and the place to say these things. Some people just don’t get it, do they? Image source: http://www.infoway.co)

The fate of the missing plane has somehow been determined – more or less. We can only say our deepest condolences to the families of the crew and passengers of MH370 and hope they would find some kind of closure and peace over the lost of their loved ones. MH370 will be remembered.

Despite this affirmation after 4 weeks into the incident, this however does not mean it would be the end – we still have the daunting task of finding the MH370’s black box. As one Australian commander had said, it is not an issue of finding the needle in a haystack but rather it is an issue of finding the haystack first. And once this is found (no doubt will be with great difficulty), we will still a long way to go before we can determine with surgical certainty on what had really happened to MH370. It’s our solemn duty to ensure that we get down to the actual reason for the MH370 deviating from its original flight path and ending up in the Indian Ocean. It’s strange that a plane that was heading north ended up deep south for no good reason.

Having said this, we should not also lose sight of the existing weaknesses that need to be addressed to avoid a similar incident in the near future. And over the last few weeks, other than the need to relook into how we can improve on crisis management, there have been calls to relook into beef up the security and control at airports:-

Has Malaysia paid a high price with its Third World standards and attitude towards security and asset management issues, was the question posed by a veteran newsman when commenting on the missing Malaysia Airlines Beijing-bound flight MH370.

Former New Straits Times editor-in-chief Datuk A. Kadir Jasin said that while waiting for news on the missing MH370, it cannot be denied that the control and security checks at Malaysian airports, including the Kuala Lumpur International Airport can be said to be “relaxed” compared with those in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

“Is this the repercussion for the corruption, abuse of power and negligence which have reportedly happened repeatedly in KLIA?” he asked in his latest blog posting, adding his voice to the growing criticism over poor airport security at the country’s main gateway.

(Source)

As angry as Kadir Jasin may be, one cannot dismiss the fact that the 2 Iranians had easy ride out from KLIA on fake passports and this does raises some serious questions on the security and controls in our airports. Even if the 2 Iranians had come in legitimately (using Iranian passport), then why no red flags raised when they exited on fake passports? Why didn’t the system showed the Immigration officers that no one had entered using the fake passport (for them to exit with the same passport)? Is because our immigration system does not keep track of passports details coming in and out OR is it because some one had been careless and failed to check this important fact?

MACC seemed to have an answer:-

“However, we did find that the Iranians managed to slip through due to the policy of speeding up the clearance of foreign visitors. “We recommend that the government gives more weight to security to prevent such instances instead of giving priority to customer oriented service,” he said during a briefing session on “Is MACC Credible?” at Wisma Bernama, here Monday.

He added that it was quite impossible for Immigration to check all passports against Interpol’s system which lists more than 40 million missing passports in a short time.

(Source)

Unfortunately, it is not a good answer as this also means criminals, terrorists and other parasites of the society have an easy way in and out of the country. And in MH370, we were dealing with Iranians. What about the string of the so-called Nigerian students who come to this country for nothing but scams and drug peddling? It seems to be on the rise too. When we going to ban these parasite “students” outright from coming to this country and contributing to the crime statistics? When another plane goes missing? When there have been a massive shootout in public over a failed drug deals?

And then there is an issue of the failure of the Malaysian military to properly track and intercept a commercial plane that had deviated from its flight path. This issue has been a big question for many people.

The Time reports:-

The world wants to know how a rogue Boeing 777 can fly at will over Malaysia without military jets being scrambled. “Clearly they had let an unidentified aircraft pass through Malaysian sovereign territory without bothering to identify it; not something they were happy to admit,” writes aviation consultant David Learmount, who had previously decried “a chaotic lack of coordination between the Malaysian agencies.”

The Malaysian military spotted the missing jet passing through three military radars over the country’s far northeast, before it headed out over the Strait of Malacca. But despite its erratic behaviour, the American-made F-18s and F-5 fighters on alert at Butterworth Air Force base sat idle. Had the jets been scrambled, the world would have been saved a massive and extraordinary search operation.

“There was clearly a significant failure of response on behalf of the Malaysian Air Force. There’s no real way around it and you might imagine heads would roll for that,” says Anthony Davis, Bangkok-based analyst for defence-and-security-intelligence firm IHS-Jane.

(Source)

And this:-

According to the NYT report, a four-person air force crew based in Butterworth watching for intrusions into the country’s airspace either did not notice or failed to report a blip on their defensive radar and air traffic radar that was moving steadily across the country from east to west, heading right towards them.

Even the crews at two other radar installations at Kota Baru did not designate the blip as an unknown intruder, while the jetliner continued to fly across the country without anyone watching or alerting a superior or the national defence command, despite the fact that the radar contact’s flight path did not correspond to any filed flight plan.

And as a result, combat aircraft never scrambled to investigate.

(Source)

Once again, the question is whether it is a failure of the system or the people behind the system? And it cast a dark shadow on the integrity of our air defence system and tracking of what flying in and out of the country (never say that Malaysia is immune to attacks like the 9/11, not after we had the Sulu intrusion in the past).

Then RMAF responded with this:-

In revealing this today, Deputy Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Bakri said the air force decided to ignore the radar signal because the aircraft was categorised as non-hostile in nature.

“We thought the aircraft was non-hostile, we assumed it was a directive of the control tower that had directed the plane to turn back,” he told the Dewan Rakyat today.

Many have pointed out that a telephone call from the military to the air traffic control on that morning could have alerted the tragedy, saved lives and millions of ringgit used for the search and rescue operations. The civilian air traffic control was also faulted for not raising the alarm when the aircraft went missing off its radar.

(Source)

Now that is out in the open, it is unsettling to know that the military assume things (some commentators mentioned being lazy) when they detect something out of the ordinary. And there seems to be a massive breakdown of escalations when the DCA failed to contact the plane.

Moving on, here’s one to turn your stomach around and puke in disguise:-

Amid the frantic search for the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370, a pro-government Islamic talk-show host has drawn up a list of lessons to be learnt from this saga, including the advice that female flight attendants be allowed to don the hijab. Ridhuan, in the Sinar Harian column, also urged Malaysia Airlines not to imitate Western values and suggested the airline stopped serving liquor on its flights.

“Those who ask for liquor are those who are used to drinking. Distract them with more nutritious local food like cendol and such,” said Ridhuan, referring to the sweet coconut milk dessert.

(Source)

Frankly speaking, I don’t know whether this supersedes the Bomoh coconut clown show at KLIA in this crisis but thing for sure, it by far most, this has to be one of the dumbest statement coming from a fellow Malaysian. Then again, there’s nothing new from this Chinese who tries too hard to be a Malay.

One would just hope that the foreign media does not pick up this little bit of insult and turn it around for another round of laughter at the expense of the missing crew, passengers and the country as whole. It is dangerous too as he now implies that the plane had crashed only because the airline had served liquors and female flight attendants not wearing to the “right” uniform. Has he forgotten that the iconic current uniform itself is a modern manifestation of the baju kebaya, itself is part of the Malay traditional dress? On the case of liquor, no one is forcing anyone in the plane to take them – it is just part of the service. Just fly Emirates (the largest airline in the Middle East) and you will know.

Didn’t I say that this has to be one of the dumbest statement coming from a fellow Malaysian, did I? The joker is barking on the wrong side of the tree.

Let’s focus on what is more important in respect to the tragedy and have some courtesy and due respect to all those who had perish in this tragedy and hope we make amend on shortcomings without any delays so that the nation will not face another tragedy at this scale.

The “Tidak Apa” Syndrome


To those who are not familiar with this expression, “tidak apa” may mean many things but for me it is loosely translated as “don’t care attitude”. Instead of saying that it is something unique to this country, I would rather say that it is the sick curse in this country. Some people are simply don’t care on their services, the work they do, the quality of products that they produce and on the impact of their shoddy work and attitude on others.

Let’s focus on the quality of goods – the reason for this post this week.

Quality of goods that we have in this country, generally is acceptable provided we are willing to pay the high price for it. There are several occasions when I had bought certain things, it had turned to be poorly made item. Quality control still lacking – either the manufacturer does not have the right quality control processes in place (are they that ignorant?) or they don’t take the trouble to pay that extra money or effort to produce high quality products. You go to any car workshop and when asked for the quality parts, they will usually quote parts from Japan (and sometimes from the US or Germany) but rarely from Malaysia. Parts from Malaysia is usually for those who want to buy things cheap and willing to compromise on quality, so they say and often there is some truth to it. This is the general state of the impression on Malaysian made goods and its quality although in recent years, quite number of manufacturers (such as Proton with their Preve’ model) and distributors have buck up on the level of quality considerably.

Here’s my case at hand:-

1

(Exhibit No 1 – Nano water filter that is made in or with Korean technology and conforms to international standards and member of a number of water quality associations as displayed on the box. Look at the condition of the sealant at the bottom and it is well made)

2

(Exhibit No 2 – the same nano water filter but distributed by a local company with no information as to where it is made and whether it conforms to any standards and it is not hard to see why. Look at the condition of the filter and you may wonder why this has not been rectified before it is sold to the public – lack of quality is too obvious)

I buy water filters for my portable water filters and I usually buy in a bigger numbers as I usually change the filters on a regular basis. Stocking up water filters is also part of my prepping strategy. The first image at the top is what I expect a good water filter should look like and the second image is a water filter distributed by a local distributor. You can see difference in quality immediately and since lately the hypermarket that I usually go to had stocked up only the locally distributed water filters and stop selling the one I usually buy (I seriously do not know why), for that instance I had no choice but use the local distributor’s filter despite the obvious lack of quality and being sold for the same price as the better quality made ones. At the end, it does not really do the job (and is a health hazard) no thanks to the shoddy quality of the sealant and I replaced it within the same day (and dispose off the water filtered). Money and time wasted – so I made my case with the place where I bought the filters and I was assured that the matter would be brought to the attention of the manufacturer. Whether things will change or not, I am not sure but I would not be buying any items from the same distributor until I see a real improvement of quality. But if this “tidak apa” attitude continues, rest assured that locally made products will be looked with grave suspicion.

And that is not the end of “tidak apa” attitude that I recently encountered.  One good place to see the “tidak apa” attitude at work on a regular basis is on Malaysian roads. It does not take long to see idiots changing lanes without indicating and jumping queues without any care of the rest of the motorists patiently waiting in line for their turn. And there is the mother of “tidak apa” attitude when you see a motorcyclist – not the one riding 250cc and above bikes but rather those 100cc – 150 cc puny bikes. A sudden change of lane, riding without any helmets (or license) and against the traffic by these bikers is nothing new and I have written a number of posts on this.

Just a couple days ago, I saw a black Audi driver (plate number WJJ ****) on the fast lane of the highway just after Seremban and was blocking an ambulance on its path. The weather was bad and despite the ambulance blaring siren and strobe lights (a clear cut sign of emergency), the idiot behind the wheels of the black Audi simply drove on the same lane as if he owed the road. Breaking the law and endangering the patient in the ambulance seemed to be last thing in the Audi driver’s mind. I just hope that one day when his loved ones (or himself) is in the ambulance, he will know how precious time is and the need for the ambulance to have its way without an idiot with a “tidak apa” attitude blocking its way.

Then the next day when we went to one of the fast food restaurant (which should have a better customer service than this), we were rudely reminded that despite that the restaurant is part of a global franchise and carries a well known brand, it is at the end of the day is manned by Malaysians with the usual “tidak apa” attitude. We went on a “working day” and before the normal lunch time so naturally the restaurant was not full but we had to wait for our tables to be cleared (it was only cleared when we came over). We ordered our food and we managed to get most of it but not the forks and spoons. We had to call one of the staff twice to remind on this and only then we got the utensils (whilst our food was getting cold). We did not get all of the food that we ordered so once again we need to remind the staff. Then I guessed that the staff do not understand English – which explains the blur look when I asked for the forks and spoons. And we were not the only one faced this problem. When I went to counter to pay, one of the customer was complaining very loudly and remarked that she had not seen service this bad in such restaurant. Instead of apologizing or assuring the customer that they will look into the quality of service, the lady behind the counter (the manager seems to be missing despite the loud voice of the customer) kept quiet and maintain her “tidak apa” look, making customer (and me) irritated even more.

The same “tidak apa” attitude is probably what causes the blatant waste of public funds as reported in the AG’s report on almost yearly basis. No one seemed to care that the money that they waste does not even belongs to them and the fact that they are expected to be responsible for the expenditures does not move them for the better. To make things even worse, the Government maintains the same “tidak apa” gesture towards the wrongdoers – remember the Home Minister supporting the lost at sea comment? By not whacking the wrongdoers, they actually condones the waste of public funds and corrupt way of doing business.

And speaking about the ‘tidak apa” attitude at Government level, it’s high time we relook into the “dump the dumb politicians” call. The next general election may be years away but it does not mean that we can close one eye (and ears) whenever an idiot takes the center stage and makes a fool of this nation & its people (never mind if he makes a fool of himself outside his official stature). After all, if a politician can come out and say that the recent increase of the price of sugar due to *cough* motherly concern on the people’s health and sex drive and not because failure to control expenses or because some one had screwed up the sugar import deal, something is not right (even for a die hard pejuang bangsa dan agama). But that is fine in a way – we don’t expect politicians to change their skin overnight (maybe except when elections are around the corner when they turn Santa Claus left right and center) and in Malaysia in particular, expecting them to be charged & punished for wrongdoings but we cannot continue with our own “tidak apa” attitude too. For start, for those who have not register yourself to vote (and probably don’t care which clown runs the country), try do something about it – go and register yourself to vote and then exercise the right to vote someone more credible. The country belongs to all and each one of us have a great responsibility one way or another in making sure it does not goes down the drain.

Think about it for a second…