Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Celebrating Teachers of Today & Yesterday

My children love listening to yarns about my school days. They always listen in rapt attention when the topic of my school days crop up.

Sometimes I get the sense that they envy me. They tell me that it must have been such an exciting and stimulating and mostly fun time at school for me back then. It sure was. But I tell them that there was a lot of learning in case they think it's all a picnic.

For one thing --  the friends that I made back then are still in touch with me and we meet in our reunions..

My intimate knowledge of school in the 90s came about when my own kids started primary school.

I think it was a shock for me to see a different school environment & life as well as the syllabi of the subjects offered.
Have times changed, I thought.
Of course, everything was in Malay.
It meant that I wasn't able to help them with maths & science. And even the Bahasa Malaysia at standard 5 was incredibly complicated to me. I realised it was not about the proficiency of your BM but how you answered the questions. There seemed to be a format of some sort.
And then, Sports Day was so downplayed that it did not matter whether or not you participated in it. In fact, sports day was an internal affair. There were several years that I didn't know the school was having a sports day because parents were not invited.
The annual school concerts too. Tame  & general lame. I know that in secondary school, the main item was the school choir performance.

How different it was in my time. But that is just my children's school. Other schools might have had less conservative principals ...  

In secondary school (at least in my children's), English Literature was not offered because there was no teacher for that subject. So my children had to take external classes for it.

But, well, that is a story for another.

For now, I shall rattle some names -  Mrs Wong, Mrs Podesta, Mrs Rahim, Mrs SH Tan and Mrs OK Chan.. These are my primary school class teachers. I know one name I cannot remember. And in the list, only one teacher I despised.  And we shall leave it at that.

Our school principals (Assunta Primary had 2 sessions) were Miss Chow and Sister Ellyn.  I remember Miss Chow as a dignified and an elegant person and was so in awe of her. She never taught me, though.
Sister Ellyn taught us music, I think.

In secondary school, there were Mrs Chng, Mrs Lau, Mrs Siva, Mrs Raj, Miss Thomas, Mrs Simmons, Cik Tek, Puan Siti Hawa, Mrs Thambyrajah, Mrs Wong & Miss Sze Tho.

And of course, the larger than life -- Sister Enda Ryan, our secondary school principal.

In case you think they spoilt us silly -- no... they did not. They were firm as you can imagine a teacher should be. They were strict when they needed to be which was most times but I never remembered them as cruel or brutal or  whatever.

So, here's a BIG THANK YOU to them all...

I can't begin to tell you how fun school was those days. A lot of learning, a lot of playing, a lot of activities for our concert & sports as well extra-curricular.

I was active in sports and dance. Because it was "public knowledge" in school that I was a ballet student, I was always picked for dance performances for our sports day and annual concerts.

It shaped me monumentally.

Although I don't play any sports now, I am passionate about fitness. And of course,  no one can keep away from dance & dancing.

I can talk endlessly about teachers of my time, in my school.  I'm sure there are horror stories that I ever one about. Today, you know of horror teacher stories because there is the internet and social media. There are many more good and dedicated teachers.

I can go on and on ... so I'll stop here.

Let me just say - HAPPY TEACHERS' DAY.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

When Will This Sinister & Evil Exploitation of Children Stop?

Harian Metro has the story of two senior citizens - a husband and wife - arrested for suspected human trafficking - of children.
They allegedly used minors to sell stuff and collect money.

Here's the link -

This is not something new. We all know and many of us have witnessed children going around commercial areas in residential estates selling calendars, religious books, ointments and the lot.

They all look like students wearing songbook and they will either tell you where they're from or show you proof of identity.

They go to restaurants that allow them in and go from table to table -- much like how the blind of "visually-challenged" men who are aided by healthy ladies in tudung do so selling packets of tissue paper.

There are also boys in baju Melayu who have set up permanent operating sites  - a table with a a donation box for orphanages, religious schools et al - outside banks .

These 2 senior citizens are not alone in their (alleged) crime. If it's true they're exploiting children, they're likely the less evil in this nefarious and sinister industry.

There are bigger crooks who have amassed wealth from their despicable exploitation of children. 

What do we do as a community?

Many Muslims are aware of this exploitation. Yet, they buy the items from these kids or make donations.

If this is all a scam, then this scam will continue and made to perpetuate because there's a market of "customers". 

This has been going on for more than 20 years. At least in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.
Most of the boys say they are from Kedah.

Why has it been allowed to go on for this long?
Your guess is as good as mine. 

And why do people keep on buying items from these boys or make donations to their tabung?
Simple: Pity, compassion and a sense of humanity.
What if these boys are legit, they ask themselves.
And if they're not, punishment will come from Him.

For what they see before them, they give.

And this humanity is what is being exploited by the evil syndicate masters.

This has been allowed to go on for far to long. 
The longer this goes on, the more difficult it is to tackle.

It is whether you want to, or not.

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Malaysian in Trump's America

HERE I am in Trump country. That of President-elect Donald J Trump.
After today, he will be known as President Trump — rivaled by none of his predecessors in the way he had run his campaign.
But wait a minute. This is California. Southern California, to be exact, where a lot of people look like me.
e is “kinda rejected here”, said a tanned Californian in t-shirt and bermudas. Only in these parts do folks wear summer clothes in winter.
Winter is warm by temperate standards in this state.
This is my fifth visit here in the last two years since my daughter, Shaira Nur, enrolled at a university to continue her American Degree program.
When we first arrived here in January 2015, there was very little going on in the run-up to to the US  presidential election campaign.  There was, of course, the usual buzz, the nascent excitement. There was also not more than the regular hype when I returned in the summer of that year.
By winter last year, the gubernatorial and state legislative elections were going on. There was no spectre of Trump descending on American federal politics at that point.
Things were picking up when I was back home in Malaysia and by the time I was back in the summer, Trump had won the GOP presidency nomination in an election that was just so incredibly bruising to his fellow Republican candidates and Americans at large.
I was back home when he won the US presidency.
I had no interest in the man until his Republican presidential candidacy. I had watched how awful a person he was in the face-off with the other candidates. And his vilification of minority groups and immigrants. Man, was he a mean SOB.
It worsened during his “Make America Great Again” election campaign which was decidedly hateful, racially inflammatory and divisive. By this time, I despaired. How did this maniacal, out-of-control and horrid guy make it this far? It didn’t help that  the majority of his supporters seemed to be white Americans – disenfranchised, angry, bitter, racist, bigoted and all that is ugly.
Worse when Muslims, immigrants, people of colour and other minority groups were targets of violent acts by right-wing Americans claiming to be his supporters.
I despaired because I saw America going back to those dark times of racism and bigotry. Regressing and retrogressing big time. I wondered what was wrong with America? Hasn’t history taught them anything? Weren’t they supposed to have come a long way?
Of course, it should not matter as, hey, it’s America’s problem. But I have a daughter studying here. She is Muslim and a foreigner – two things Trump had inspired Americans to hate in his campaign. And I am a regular visitor by now. Will I be stopped at Immigration the next time?
However, as it turned out, not everything was despairing because not everyone was happy with the outcome. America was in shock as many were in disbelief. His victory had sparked protests across the nation. Among them were by students of California State University Fullerton (CSUF) where my daughter is enrolled.
Also, California is a blue state and happily Democrat.
You don’t have to be an American to know that there had never been an election quite like the 2016 presidential election. I have good memories of President Barack Obama’s unprecedented, ground-breaking and historic election into office. It was to be celebrated. The euphoria was contagious.
So today will be the 58th inauguration of Trump and Michael R Pence as president and vice president respectively. On record as the most controversial inauguration in American history
The President-elect and Flotus-to-be, Melania are already in Washington DC. Celebration has started.
These last few weeks, the buzz has been about the inauguration or rather, the planned mammoth protests against the inauguration and, more significantly the boycott by nearly 60 House Democrats.
Some of the Democrat lawmakers had decided much earlier to not attend the inauguration as a message of protest against Trump’s politics of hate and divisiveness.
But what got the number ballooning was Trump’s insulting and what was deemed as an utterly disrespectful response on Twitter to a statement by America’s deeply respected civil rights icon, Atlanta congressman John Lewis.
Lewis, had told NBC in an interview that he was not attending the inauguration as he saw Trump’s presidency to be illegitimate.
The Democrat from Georgia reasoned that Russian interference helped get Trump elected and destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.
In his typical style, the President-elect responded: “Congressman Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results.”
“All talk, talk talk – no action, no results. Sad” he tweeted.
John Lewis, one of the original Freedom Riders, is famously known for his participation in the 1965 march in Selma, Alabama where he was beaten by police. That day is remembered as “Bloody Sunday”.
Trump’s response riled up so many House Democrats who decided to join the boycott of  the inauguration ceremony. Many expressed their disgust and dismay on Twitter.
Many felt it was so wrong particularly as his attacks were on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr Day.
Judy Chu, Representative of Pasadena, California’s  27th District in the US,  made this point clear when she was interviewed on ABC about her decision.
In her statement that she issued on Twitter earlier, she said her decision to not attend was not made lightly. It was taken after much thought.
“While I do not question the legitimacy of Mr Trump’s election, I do object to his treatment of other Americans, particularly those who disagree with him. In a diverse democracy like ours, patriotic dissent is vital. That is why the values of pluralism, grievance, and criticism are enshrined in the 1st Amendment’s protections of religion, speech and press – all three of which have been targets of the President-elect.”
Chu said Trump’s personal attacks on Lewis were “just the latest example of behaviour unbefitting a president”.
“I, like millions of other Americans , will choose not to attend the inauguration of President Trump. Instead, I will continue to focus on my efforts to ensure a more just and equal country for ourselves and future generations of all Americans – regardless of race, religion. ethnicity or orientation”.
Many of the House Democrats boycotting the inauguration said that they accept Trump’s election and his presidency.
But, they are not celebrating it.
And that, to me, is a decent explanation.
Today President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will witness his successor sworn into office on the West Front of the State Capitol.
The new 45th Potus has promised everyone there a fantastic time.
So. here I am back in Trump country.
But thankfully in an overwhelmingly blue State where a lot of people look like me and where many do not accept Trump’s presidency. And where the winter is warm like a cool summer.
(For The Mole - Friday Jan 20 2017)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Australian tax authorities bully Malaysian Timber Tycoon. He Sues Aussie Government

Well, I'll be, mate!
Here's an interesting story. Scary too.
Thick twice, nay, many times, before buying property in Australia. There are some nasty Aussies there.

A Sarawakian timber tycoon is suing the Australian government over their decision to force him to pay taxes amounting to AUD50m.
Daylight robbery and bullying a Malaysian, I say.
Read Rocky's Bru take:

Seeking justice in Malaysia. Wikipedia insists that kangaroo courts did not have its origins in Australia, where kangaroos come from. If that's baffling to me I can't imagine what Sarawak-born Malaysian businessman Hii Yii Ann might be thinking. Hii, 56, is fighting a decision by the Australian courts about his tax residency status that could rob him of AUD50 million!

Hii, a Malaysian passport holder who has never applied to be an Australian resident, says he's submitted to the Australian authorities documented proof that he is a Malaysian taxpayer and has never lived anywhere near long enough in Australia to be deemed the country's "tax resident". Yet, the Australian court deemed that he had denounced his Malaysian tax residency status and, therefore, owed whatever he had earned to the Australian Tax Office.

The rest of the posting HERE

Here's is The Mole report by  Zaidi Azmi
KUALA LUMPUR – November 15, 2016: A Malaysian timber tycoon is suing the Australian government for tax assessment amounting to millions of dollars in relation to income earned outside of the country.
Sarawak-born businessman Hii Yii An got into a tangle with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) after the latter changed his tax residency status to that of the country in December 2013.
This consequently led to Hii being accused of tax evasion totalling AUD$49, 774, 128.20 for the assessment years of 2001 to 2009.
Hii’s lead counsel, Datuk Alvin John, maintained that his client had never abandoned his Malaysian domicile, adding that Hii had been declaring his tax deductions throughout the said years.
“The ATO should have contacted Malaysian authorities before imposing the decision on him,” said John.
He further argued that the ATO had imposed extra-territorial jurisdiction on his client and that Australian taxation laws thus cannot be applied to Hii.
Australian law says that any person who lives in Australia for over six months or has chosen the country as his home needs to pay world tax (based on earnings outside the country).
“But he has never continuously lived that long in Australia,” said John, adding that Hii only makes short visits to Australia to see his children and check on his investments.
On why Hii decided to bring the matter to a Malaysian court, John explained that matters concerning Hii’s domicile can only be determined by the Malaysian government.
“In its defence, the Australian government is  invoking a sovereign state immunity but this immunity is not absolute.
“When you falsely claim revenue from a foreign citizen, that citizen has the right of recourse and can initiate legal action either at the international level or in his home country,” said John.
However, if the Australian government refuses to accept a ruling favourable to Hii, Alvin pledged to take the case to the International Court of Justice.
The other defendants are the commissioner and deputy commissioner of the ATO.
Today’s case management was before deputy registrar Noorasyikin Sahat. The next will be on December 6.

Monday, November 14, 2016

"Farewell, America"

This is an article  from Moyers & Company
By Neal Gabler
America died on Nov. 8, 2016, not with a bang or a whimper, but at its own hand via electoral suicide. We the people chose a man who has shredded our values, our morals, our compassion, our tolerance, our decency, our sense of common purpose, our very identity — all the things that, however tenuously, made a nation out of a country.
Whatever place we now live in is not the same place it was on Nov. 7. No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on Nov. 7, they will now look at us differently. We are likely to be a pariah country. And we are lost for it. As I surveyed the ruin of that country this gray Wednesday morning, I found weary consolation in W.H. Auden’s poem, September 1, 1939, which concludes:
Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.”

I hunt for that affirming flame.
This generally has been called the “hate election” because everyone professed to hate both candidates. It turned out to be the hate election because, and let’s not mince words, of the hatefulness of the electorate. In the years to come, we will brace for the violence, the anger, the racism, the misogyny, the xenophobia, the nativism, the white sense of grievance that will undoubtedly be unleashed now that we have destroyed the values that have bWe all knew these hatreds lurked under the thinnest veneer of civility. That civility finally is gone. In its absence, we may realize just how imperative that politesse was. It is the way we managed to coexist.
If there is a single sentence that characterizes the election, it is this: “He says the things I’m thinking.” That may be what is so terrifying. Who knew that so many tens of millions of white Americans were thinking unconscionable things about their fellow Americans? Who knew that tens of millions of white men felt so emasculated by women and challenged by minorities? Who knew that after years of seeming progress on race and gender, tens of millions of white Americans lived in seething resentment, waiting for a demagogue to arrive who would legitimize their worst selves and channel them into political power? Perhaps we had been living in a fool’s paradise. Now we aren’t.
This country has survived a civil war, two world wars, and a great depression. There are many who say we will survive this, too. Maybe we will, but we won’t survive unscathed. We know too much about each other to heal. No more can we pretend that we are exceptional or good or progressive or united. We are none of those things. Nor can we pretend that democracy works and that elections have more or less happy endings. Democracy only functions when its participants abide by certain conventions, certain codes of conduct and a respect for the process.
The virus that kills democracy is extremism because extremism disables those codes. Republicans have disrespected the process for decades. They have regarded any Democratic president as illegitimate. They have proudly boasted of preventing popularly elected Democrats from effecting policy and have asserted that only Republicans have the right to determine the nation’s course. They have worked tirelessly to make sure that the government cannot govern and to redefine the purpose of government as prevention rather than effectuation. In short, they haven’t believed in democracy for a long time, and the media never called them out on it.
Democracy can’t cope with extremism. Only violence and time can defeat it. The first is unacceptable, the second takes too long. Though Trump is an extremist, I have a feeling that he will be a very popular president and one likely to be re-elected by a substantial margin, no matter what he does or fails to do. That’s because ever since the days of Ronald Reagan, rhetoric has obviated action, speechifying has superseded governing.
Trump was absolutely correct when he bragged that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and his supporters wouldn’t care. It was a dictator’s ugly vaunt, but one that recognized this election never was about policy or economics or the “right path/wrong path,” or even values. It was about venting. So long as Trump vented their grievances, his all-white supporters didn’t care about anything else. He is smart enough to know that won’t change in the presidency. In fact, it is only likely to intensify. White America, Trump’s America, just wants to hear its anger bellowed. This is one time when the Bully Pulpit will be literal.
The media can’t be let off the hook for enabling an authoritarian to get to the White House. Long before he considered a presidential run, he was a media creation — a regular in the gossip pages, a photo on magazine covers, the bankrupt (morally and otherwise) mogul who hired and fired on The Apprentice. When he ran, the media treated him not as a candidate, but as a celebrity, and so treated him differently from ordinary pols. The media gave him free publicity, trumpeted his shenanigans, blasted out his tweets, allowed him to phone in his interviews, fell into his traps and generally kowtowed until they suddenly discovered that this joke could actually become president.
Just as Trump has shredded our values, our nation and our democracy, he has shredded the media. In this, as in his politics, he is only the latest avatar of a process that began long before his candidacy. Just as the sainted Ronald Reagan created an unbridgeable chasm between rich and poor that the Republicans would later exploit against Democrats, conservatives delegitimized mainstream journalism so that they could fill the vacuum.
Retiring conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes complained that after years of bashing from the right wing, the mainstream media no longer could perform their function as reporters, observers, fact dispensers, and even truth tellers, and he said we needed them. Like Goebbels before them, conservatives understood that they had to create their own facts, their own truths, their own reality. They have done so, and in so doing effectively destroyed the very idea of objectivity. Trump can lie constantly only because white America has accepted an Orwellian sense of truth — the truth pulled inside out.
With Trump’s election, I think that the ideal of an objective, truthful journalism is dead, never to be revived. Like Nixon and Sarah Palin before him, Trump ran against the media, boomeranging off the public’s contempt for the press. He ran against what he regarded as media elitism and bias, and he ran on the idea that the press disdained working-class white America. Among the many now-widening divides in the country, this is a big one, the divide between the media and working-class whites, because it creates a Wild West of information – a media ecology in which nothing can be believed except what you already believe.
With the mainstream media so delegitimized — a delegitimization for which they bear a good deal of blame, not having had the courage to take on lies and expose false equivalencies — they have very little role to play going forward in our politics. I suspect most of them will surrender to Trumpism — if they were able to normalize Trump as a candidate, they will no doubt normalize him as president. Cable news may even welcome him as a continuous entertainment and ratings booster. And in any case, like Reagan, he is bulletproof. The media cannot touch him, even if they wanted to. Presumably, there will be some courageous guerillas in the mainstream press, a kind of Resistance, who will try to fact-check him. But there will be few of them, and they will be whistling in the wind. Trump, like all dictators, is his own truth.
What’s more, Trump already has promised to take his war on the press into courtrooms and the halls of Congress. He wants to loosen libel protections, and he has threatened Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos of Amazon with an antitrust suit. Individual journalists have reason to fear him as well. He has already singled out NBC’s Katy Tur, perhaps the best of the television reporters, so that she needed the Secret Service to escort her from one of his rallies. Jewish journalists who have criticized Trump have been subjected to vicious anti-Semitism and intimidation from the alt-right. For the press, this is likely to be the new normal in an America in which white supremacists, neo-Nazi militias, racists, sexists, homophobes and anti-Semites have been legitimized by a new president who “says what I’m thinking.” It will be open season.
This converts the media from reporters to targets, and they have little recourse. Still, if anyone points the way forward, it may be New York Times columnist David Brooks. Brooks is no paragon. He always had seemed to willfully neglect modern Republicanism’s incipient fascism (now no longer incipient), and he was an apologist for conservative self-enrichment and bigotry. But this campaign season, Brooks pretty much dispensed with politics. He seemed to have arrived at the conclusion that no good could possibly come of any of this and retreated into spirituality. What Brooks promoted were values of mutual respect, a bolder sense of civic engagement, an emphasis on community and neighborhood, and overall a belief in trickle-up decency rather than trickle-down economics. He is not hopeful, but he hasn’t lost all hope.
For those of us now languishing in despair, this may be a prescription for rejuvenation. We have lost the country, but by refocusing, we may have gained our own little patch of the world and, more granularly, our own family. For journalists, Brooks may show how political reporting, which, as I said, is likely to be irrelevant in the Trump age, might yield to a broader moral context in which one considers the effect that policy, strategy and governance have not only on our physical and economic well-being but also on our spiritual well-being. In a society that is likely to be fractious and odious, we need a national conversation on values. The media could help start it.
But the disempowered media may have one more role to fill: They must bear witness. Many years from now, future generations will need to know what happened to us and how it happened. They will need to know how disgruntled white Americans, full of self-righteous indignation, found a way to take back a country they felt they were entitled to and which they believed had been lost. They will need to know about the ugliness and evil that destroyed us as a nation after great men like Lincoln and Roosevelt guided us through previous crises and kept our values intact. They will need to know, and they will need a vigorous, engaged, moral media to tell them. They will also need us.
We are not living for ourselves anymore in this country. Now we are living for history.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

They're Hoarding Cooking Oil, So Report Them

My friend complained on Facebook that a store near her home somewhere in Puchong had run out of cooking oil.
She posted a photo of empty racks & shelves where bottles of cooking are usually placed.

Of course the rants started coming in her comment box.

How could this be happening?  Someone demanded an explanation.

The government should do something about it.

Okay. Her's the thing. It should not be happening. And yes the government - the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives & Consumers Ministry should do something, provided YOU report or complain to them so that they can send the enforcement team to that store or supermarket.

The store, mini market  or supermarket, you see, must be hoarding their supply.


In stores and minimarkets in my neighbourhood, there is NO problem of supply.

So, do your part.

Anyway...talking about complain -- well, here's something from SeaDemon explaining again to whiners what the issue of cooking oil increase is all about.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

It's Terribly Orange in America : President Trump

My previous posting on what to call Bill Clinton is well, overtaken by the fact that the new POTUS is Donald Trump.
Don't know whether I want to laugh or cry. But oh for good reason.

Anyway, this is an article by the New Yorker.

An American Tragedy

By David Remnick

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. 

Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy. On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy.

 It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety.

There are, inevitably, miseries to come: an increasingly reactionary Supreme Court; an emboldened right-wing Congress; a President whose disdain for women and minorities, civil liberties and scientific fact, to say nothing of simple decency, has been repeatedly demonstrated. 

Trump is vulgarity unbounded, a knowledge-free national leader who will not only set markets tumbling but will strike fear into the hearts of the vulnerable, the weak, and, above all, the many varieties of Other whom he has so deeply insulted. The African-American Other. The Hispanic Other. The female Other. The Jewish and Muslim Other. 

The most hopeful way to look at this grievous event—and it’s a stretch—is that this election and the years to follow will be a test of the strength, or the fragility, of American institutions. It will be a test of our seriousness and resolve.

Early on Election Day, the polls held out cause for concern, but they provided sufficiently promising news for Democrats in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, and even Florida that there was every reason to think about celebrating the fulfillment of Seneca Falls, the election of the first woman to the White House. 

Potential victories in states like Georgia disappeared, little more than a week ago, with the F.B.I. director’s heedless and damaging letter to Congress about reopening his investigation and the reappearance of damaging buzzwords like “e-mails,” “Anthony Weiner,” and “fifteen-year-old girl.”

But the odds were still with Hillary Clinton.

Continue reading HERE