Thursday, January 23, 2020

Schools in Singapore take reactive & proactive meaasures in the wake of the Wuhan Virus outbreak

You just have to give it to them-lah, the school authorities in Singapore.
They ain't taking any chances.
Here's a CNA report
SINGAPORE: Schools in Singapore issued a notice to parents on Thursday (Jan 23), announcing precautionary measures to safeguard students' well-being in light of the Wuhan virus outbreak. 
In the notice sent via the Parents Gateway app, which allows schools to update parents on programmes and activities, the school cited among its measures the "collection of your child/ward's travel declarations over the Chinese New Year weekend" indicated as Jan 24 to Jan 28. 
"The details submitted are accessible only by authorised personnel and facilitate health measures to be taken in the event of heightened concerns after the holidays," the note added. 
In a Facebook post on Wednesday night, Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung said the ministry, schools and institutes of higher learning have established measures to ensure the safety of students and staff since the major SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in 2003. 
“We stand ready to activate them if the situation requires it,” Mr Ong wrote. 

Wuhan Virus Outbreak -: Singapore forms task force

Preparing for the inevitable

SINGAPORE: Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Wednesday (Jan 22) that he will co-chair a multi-ministerial task force to deal with the "eventuality" of the Wuhan virus on Singapore's shores. 
He will lead the committee with Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong.
"It is inevitable that we will see an imported case sooner or later," said Mr Gan, adding that this is because of the evolving situation and the high volume of traffic in and out of Singapore. 
He was speaking to reporters after an update from the Ministry of Health (MOH) on the Wuhan virus situation. Three more suspected cases have been identified in Singapore and are undergoing testing.
The task force will have its first meeting on Thursday, Mr Gan said. 
He added that it is important for the Government to understand the situation because there are "a lot" of unknowns.
 "I think it's better for us to preempt some of these potential risks and do what we can to mitigate the risk," he said.
Measures introduced have to be proportional to the situation, but because the situation is evolving quickly, response has to be quick, he said.
"I think having a task force set up already will allow us to mount a very quick response, depending on the development of situation," he said.
When asked whether the Government foresees the Wuhan virus to be as serious as the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak of the early 2000s, Mr Gan said that given that many features of the new coronavirus are unknown.
"It is better for us to take precautions, and to ensure that we protect Singaporeans," he said.
Mr Wong, who also spoke to reporters, said that he will play a coordinating role among ministries like the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Manpower. 
While the lead agency is MOH, the situation goes beyond one agency, and requires a whole-of-government and even whole-of-Singapore response, Mr Wong said, adding that the task force was set up in consultation with Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Read more from CNA HERE

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

When can we make this happen here? Plastic-free aisles in supermarkets

First plastic-free aisle is an example for other supermarkets to follow

There is no logic in wrapping perishable food in indestructible plastic, say campaigners hailing today’s launch in Amsterdam

Today the world’s first plastic-free aisle was launched in Amsterdam by environmental campaign group A Plastic Planet and Dutch supermarket Ekoplaza. The aisle enables shoppers to choose from 700 everyday products that are free from plastic packaging. Before the end of the year, Ekoplaza plans to roll the plastic-free aisle out across each of its 74 stores.

Plastic packaging has no place in food and drink. 
There is no logical basis for wrapping something as perishable as food with something as indestructible as plastic.
 With recycled plastics today accounting for just 6% of total plastics demand in Europe, it’s clear that we cannot recycle our way out of the plastic problem. 
Food and drink plastic packaging does not belong in a circular economy given that it is difficult to reclaim, is easily contaminated, and all too often proves valueless.
The grocery retail sector accounts for more than 40% of all plastic packaging. 
Plastic-free aisles make sound commercial sense, with a Populus poll last year revealing that 91% of Britons back the measure.
Plastic has replaced so many forms of packaging that consumers wanting to reduce their plastic footprint at the moment find it impossible to do so.
We agree with A Plastic Planet that a plastic-free aisle will help consumers to reduce their own single-use plastic mountain. 
We call on supermarkets across Europe to follow Ekoplaza’s example without delay. - The Guardian

Monday, February 19, 2018

We won't cry for you, America

Because we're so tired.

This letter below was written by a Canadian.

Dear America:
I can't feel bad for you anymore. I am so tired of wasting "thoughts and prayers" on your destructive society. I am tired of watching you spew hate at other races, religions and cultures while you are the ones who are dangerous. You are the ones who are killing each other.

I am tired of watching killing after killing then seeing gun wagging, egotistical Americans yell obnoxiously about how the cure for this problem is more guns.

The rest of the civilized world is collectively shaking their head. The rest of the world does not sell automatic rifles to citizens off the street. The rest of the world does not shoot up high schools, churches, country music festivals. The rest of the world does not open fire in Elementary schools. Everybody "cares" Nobody acts. 

And so I can't think about or pray for you anymore. All those thoughts and prayers for the 273rd time this year. Because that's how many shootings America has had since January 1, 2017. I can't waste my prayers on a society that refuses to change. I cannot feel bad for a place that refuses to acknowledge its self destruction.

You fill yourselves with hate that is fueled by fear and misunderstanding of anybody who isn't you. You support banning people from your country. You cheer for a wall to separate you. You refuse to see that the real problem, the real villain, is you.

My family just returned from a trip to the U.S. My daughter loved the warmth and the beaches. She asked me why we couldn't live there. As we drove by billboard after billboard advertising where one could purchase themselves a new gun, and as I listened to racial slurs be used in every day conversation by locals, and as I listened to your President refer to white supremacists as "very good people" and football, players kneeling for your anthem as "sons of bitches", I struggled to find the words to explain to my six year old that we will never live there because I would never want my children to think that any of these things are acceptable, let alone normal.

America's obsession with guns is so fascinating to me, because never in my 31 years has it ever occurred to me to purchase one. But what we need is more guns. Because if we all have guns, we can shoot the shooter.

But guns don't kill people. People kill people.

When does it stop? when does it sink in? People with guns kill people. In the 273 mass shootings that have occurred in 2017, exactly how many were stopped by a person on the street with a license to carry a weapon? You and your handgun are no match for an automatic rifle on the 32nd floor of a hotel. The answer is to control the sale of firearms. Why is it that everyone can see this but you?
People who cannot purchase guns do not massacre schools. People who cannot purchase guns do not mow down six and seven-year old children and their teachers in a time frame of about fifteen minuets. People who cannot purchase guns do not murder fifty-eight people and injure 515. The rest of the world is screaming this at you and you refuse to see the problem because you refuse to take responsibility.

So why is it that 6,880 people have died from gunshot wounds this year and America is still not taking the guns? Why is is that 6,880 people have been killed in one year, and you have yet to lose your privilege?

Why is it that you are more concerned about your "right to bear arms" than you are about the mother whose children never come home? I'm sorry America, but I can't pray for you anymore. I am exhausted and you are not changing. And according to history, you never will change. And it will get worse and worse. And our prayers do nothing.

Clarenville, Nfld”

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Asia's Women Billionnaires

This article (The Economist) is the second of a two-part series on women billionaires and philanthropy, focusing on Asia.

Over half of the world's self-made women billionaires come from Asia-Pacific. And their slice of the pie is increasing

Women make up only a small percentage of top philanthropists in Asia, but their influence is disproportionately large as they transform the nature of philanthropy itself.

In terms of sheer numbers, female philanthropists in Asia lag behind their male peers. Out of the 40 donors listed on the Forbes Heroes of Philanthropy list in 2017, only six are women.

1 On this year’s Hurun index of China’s top 100 philanthropists just 16 are women, compared with an average of 24% in global rankings.

Although few in number, Asia’s female philanthropists are acquiring some prominent additions to their ranks and are marking some new milestones. In May this year Zhonghui You, the founder of Shenzhen Seaskyland Technologies, an educational software company, added her name to the list of the 169 billionaires worldwide who have agreed to give away more than half their fortune to good causes. In doing so, Ms You became the first self-made woman in China to sign the Giving Pledge, an initiative of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.
“I think I can set an example to my peers and hopefully inspire others to pay attention and get involved,” explains Ms You. Her appeal to give more, and to do so publicly, is aimed at the billionaires who have benefited from Asia’s rapid economic growth in the past few decades, particularly in China. More crucially, it is a signal to a particular group to come forward: Asia’s wealthy women.
In March 2017 Forbes released its latest list of the world’s self-made female billionaires. Of the 56 women on the list, 29 come from Asia-Pacific, and of the 15 newcomers to the rankings 13 come from China, Hong Kong, Vietnam or Japan. They also hold an increasing slice of the pie. According to Boston Consulting Group, women held roughly one-third of global private wealth in 2015. It expects this share to rise by 11% a year in Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan), compared with a global average of 7%.
Does this herald a surge in philanthropy in Asia? Women’s wealth is growing alongside Asia’s nascent philanthropic sector. As noted by the Ash Centre for Democratic Governance and Innovation, part of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in China alone donations from the top 100 philanthropists more than tripled between 2010 and 2016, from US$1.3bn to US$4.6bn.
Like Ms You, other female role models are starting to emerge. Japan’s Yoshiko Shinohara, who joined the ranks of self-made female billionaires in 2017, established the Yoshiko Shinohara Memorial Foundation in 2014, which grants scholarships to students in nursing and social work programmes. Particularly in China—from where the vast majority of Asia’s self-made women billionaires originates—these home-grown examples are an important milestone, according to Zhenyao Wang, president of the China Global Philanthropy Institute (CGPI), an organisation dedicated to advancing philanthropy in China, which has 50 female members. “[Previously] China learned a lot about philanthropy from the outside world, from the UK, US and Hong Kong,” he says. “But that is changing. Now, as Chinese became wealthier, they look to and respect China’s history of philanthropists.”
One example is Qiaonv He, number 30 on the Forbes list. Worth an estimated US$1.8bn, the founder of Beijing Orient Landscape, a landscape architecture firm, made headlines in 2015 when she donated Rmb2.9bn (US$450m) in corporate stock to her Beijing Qiaonv Foundation for environmental causes. She was the first female philanthropist to donate more than Rmb1bn.
The channels these women billionaires are choosing for their philanthropy are diverse. Worth more than US$1bn, Ms You has tried several approaches to giving her money away, including via foundations, one-off gifts, impact investments and supporting social enterprises. While many give to charitable causes, a small percentage have established foundations for their philanthropic pursuits, such as Ms Shinohara and India’s Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the founder of Biocon Limited. Just under 30% of Asian women billionaires on the Forbes list have a foundation, compared with more than 80% of American women on the list. “I am inclined to pursue a philanthropic foundation approach in the future,” Ms You adds.

The sector’s underdevelopment means there is significant scope to shape future giving. “These are mostly successful business people, so when they think about philanthropy, they’re also more strategic,” says Yinuo Li, China office director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “[They] want to get one-on-one in terms of how to give, how to establish foundations and how to set a strategy for the foundation.”
Mistrust of non-governmental organisations (NGOs)—and too few NGOs to give to—means that many donors are left adopting a do-it-yourself approach. “Lots of foundations end up becoming implementing foundations,” says Ms Li. “They pick an area and hire people to [execute projects], rather than give grants.”
Despite their limited number, these women are making an outsized difference by focusing on changing the nature of philanthropic giving itself. In China, in particular, they are focusing their attention on funding worthy projects in support of government initiatives and nudging policy reforms, thereby facilitating philanthropic activities.
Women “helped change policy and push government reform, by donating in co-operation with the government,” claims Mr Wang of the CGPI. As an example he cites Whitney Duan, founder of the Great Ocean Group, whose Kaifeng Foundation is one of the backers of the East-West Philanthropy Forum designed to convene US and Chinese donors and government representatives to discuss social issues such as climate change, for example.
Moreover, says Mr Wang, female philanthropists are bringing a more constructive tone to funding projects in co-operation with government. “[Women] don’t just criticise,” he says.
Still, more needs to be done to raise awareness of philanthropy, including organising events among female entrepreneurs that promote giving and encouraging more links between women in Asia and other parts of the world to share information and provide mentoring, according to Ms You.
Broader development of the philanthropic industry would help billionaires of both sexes, too, says Ms Li. “Most people are good at doing business, but professionals with experience running foundations are in short supply.”
It is clear that Asia’s self-made billionaires have the development of the industry in their sights, and women will also be at the wheel. For her part, Ms You hopes her advocacy will aid both specific causes and philanthropy in general. “My happiness derives from this personal mission,” she says.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

An Uncaring Heartless MBPJ

By Nuraina Samad
(The Mole - October 9, 2017)
Here’s why. The security post was installed at the top end of Jalan 16/7 four years ago to protect the safety and security of residents living along Jalan 16/7, lorong 16/7A, 7B and 7C. There had been a spate of violent snatch thefts and armed burglaries in the neighbourhood during a stretch prior to that.
There are 39 houses in the neighbourhood which is one of the oldest in Petaling Jaya. Jalan 16/7 is part of Section 16 that stretches from the area bordering Universiti Malaya (the other side of Jalan Dato Abu Bakar or Jalan 16/1) to Jalan 16/7 and including the hilly area behind Phileo Damansara. The roads are named old-school style – numerical with an alphabet to denote lanes or cul-de-sacs – from Jalan 16/1 to 16/20.
Most of the houses in Section16 are double-storey detached. Section 16 opened in the early 60s with the first few detached houses built in the area across from SMK Sultan Abdul Samad and behind Masjid Kolej Islam, both located along Jalan University.
Like most other parts of Section 16, the neighbourhood of 16/7 comprise senior citizens most of whom are retirees and former senior civil servants. They are long-time residents, some having lived in the area since the late 60s.
So, imagine when some of them became victims of armed burglaries and robberies. They understood that there was just so much the police could do. So, they decided to meet to discuss a course of action to protect their safety and security.
A committee was formed and a decision to install a small gate at one end of Jalan 16/7 and a security post at the other that would be in operation from midnight to 6am.
The process took about a year with residents meeting representatives of the local police and MBPJ for approval and the district land office to obtain a TOL for the area on which the security post would be installed.
More than 80 per cent of residents consented to the security installation.
So, for four years, there was peace. No sleepless nights. Residents felt reassured of their safety.
And then one day on Oct 3, the residents committee received that contentious directive from MBPJ. No prior notice. No decency at all.
It seems a set of new guidelines on security for residential areas has been enforced and Jalan 16/7 security installation is in violation of these guidelines. The council’s letter to the committee stated that the security post at Jalan 16/7 is on reserved drainage site and that the security installed is for a “micro guarded community”.
Shouldn’t the MBPJ have engaged the committee to discuss an alternative plan whatever it may be?  None whatsoever. It’s just wham bam and take it down.
Should the the guidelines not have a retrospective effect on Jalan 16/7 security installation? Besides, these are guidelines. They are not the law.
And then the residents committee was reminded of a complaint a newbie neighbour had made a few months ago against the security post that he described to be an “eyesore” that was built too close to the gate of his house.
It is understood that in response, the committee pointed out to this newbie that the original location of the gate of his home is on Jalan 16/6. The original homeowner had relocated the gate to face Jalan 16/7.
It is not certain whether or not that complaint had anything to do with council’s decision.
The residents had gone through a tedious process of making sure everything was done lawfully. They hold a Temporary Occupation Licence (TOL) for the itsy bitsy site on which the security post stands. The MBPJ, of course, can legally take down the post. But what does it say of a council that would do that without engaging the residents. And on an issue of security and safety to boot?
As for the MBPJ’s contention of a “micro guarded community” — this is where the council officers should “turun padang” and inspect the area. A macro security to serve the larger community of Section16 is simply impractical and in fact, impossibles because of the location of Jalan 16/7. Because of the physical lay-out of Section 16 itself. It is an old area not meant to be a massive guarded community. The roads and lanes are narrow except for the main road that is Jalan 16/6 that connects Jalan Dato Abu Bakar to Jalan 17/1.
Logically and this is no rocket science – why would residents in, say Jalan 16/20 that is on the hilly side of section 16 way the other side, need to give their consent to a security installation for residents in Jalan 16/7?
You see, much can be achieved in an engagement, in discussions between MBPJ and the residents. Surely.
Clearly, MBPJ’s decision was rash, unjustified and smacked of arrogance and a show of might and bully.
On Friday, the residents held a meeting in the presence of Bukit Gasing assemblyman Rajiv Rishyakaran who told them that the security post will remain where it is pending a decision by the MBPJ.
The Jalan 16/7 residents are retired senior citizens who, it should be mentioned, decided to not take up the government allocation of RM10,00 for RAs to set up security features because they figured – “just a post and a gate and a monthly fee for our safety, for us all to have restful sleep and let that allocation be for another RA that may really need it.”
They had asked for very little from MBPJ – just a consideration for their safety and security.
The MBPJ saw it fit to take away that sense of safety that they had enjoyed the past four years. The MBPJ had clearly shown that they care not for the safety nor the welfare of these residents.
Or had the MBPJ been negligent in issuing their directive. Or did they bungle?
So, straight to the point. A heartless bullying council that has no interest of this community at heart.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

PM Lee Hsien Loong Explains the Siblng "feud"

All eyes on the island republic,
Maju lah Singapura.
Undoubtedly, well-handled by PM Lee under such circumstances.

The Victorian Muslims of Britain

Here's an interesting article with names that I've come across in my readings. An eye-opener for some people, I am sure.
I've posted the full article minus the pictures. Click here to go there.
By Josef O'Shea
London, UK - When Londoners elected Sadiq Khan as mayor of their city, it sparked fresh debate about the place of Islam and Muslims in Britain.
Khan became one of the most popular Muslim politicians in Europe when he won 57 percent of the votes in London's mayoral election as his Conservative opponent, Zac Goldsmith, faced accusations of running a divisive campaign.
Today, Britain has a large and diverse Muslim population with just over 2.7 million Muslims living in England and Wales. 
In the late Victorian era, Britain presided over a vast empire in the East, which included millions of Muslims. When some of the most privileged sons and daughters of that empire embraced Islam, it was met less with hostility than mild curiosity and slight bemusement. 
In 1913, the Daily Mirror newspaper responded to Lord Headley's conversion in a story headlined "Irish peer turns to Islam".

"That the lure of Eastern religions is affecting an increasing number of Europeans, is again shown by the announcement that Lord Headley, an Irish peer, who spent many years in India, has become a convert to Islam," the article stated.
Like Headley, many of the early British converts to the religion were young aristocrats or the children of the mercantile elite. Some were explorers, intellectuals and high-ranking officials of empire who had worked and lived in Muslim lands under British colonial rule.
The stories of these converts, says Professor Humayun Ansari of Royal Holloway, University of London, reflect the turbulent times in which they lived, as well as the profound questions that were being raised about religion and the nature and origins of humanity. 
"There was the carnage and chaos of the First World War, the suffragette movement, the questioning of imperialism and the right of the British and other Western empires to rule over vast numbers of people," says Ansari. "In many ways, [those who converted] were living in a very troubled world. In Britain's wars in Sudan and Afghanistan, and later Europe, they saw terrible slaughter, with armies and governments on all sides claiming God was with them.
"They had experienced what they saw as the peace, the spirituality and simplicity of Islamic societies, and it appealed greatly to them," Ansari adds.
These stories point to an era when Islam could be seen in a far different light in the West than it often is today. These scholars, travellers and spiritual explorers could, in what were times of great upheaval and conflict, look to the East and see in the Islamic faith a religion which one convert, Lord Headley, characterised as being of "peace, brotherhood and universal values".
They may be figures of a now distant era. But their personal journeys and their quests to understand Islam and the East reveal how questions and conflicts we may see as unique to our times were, in fact, being raised over a century ago. 
Here are the stories of some of Britain's Victorian Muslims: 

William Quilliam (1856-1932)

One of the first high-profile converts was William (later Abdullah) Quilliam, the son of a prominent Methodist preacher and watch-making magnate in Liverpool. Born a Methodist in 1856, Quilliam converted to Islam in the early 1880s. He had travelled from his native England to Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria when he was 17, seeking a warmer climate to aid his recovery from an illness.
Quilliam became fascinated with the Islamic faith and immersed himself in studying it. He converted in Morocco, returned to Liverpool and began promoting the faith under his adopted name, Abdullah Quilliam. 
Still in his 20s and a qualified solicitor, Quilliam founded the first mosque in Britain, which opened on Christmas Day 1889 in Liverpool and, in 1894, he was named leader of Britain's Muslims by the last Ottoman caliph, Sultan Abdul Hamid II. Quilliam wrote books aimed at introducing the Islamic faith to British people, even sending a copy to Queen Victoria, who is reported to have enjoyed it and asked for several copies for her children.
Quilliam died in London in 1932 and was buried in Brookwood Cemetery, near Woking, which has a large Muslim burial ground and is also the final resting place of other prominent Anglo-Muslims.

Lady Evelyn Cobbold (1867-1963) 

It was Lady Evelyn, later Zainab, Cobbold who was one of the last of the aristocratic Victorians to convert. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1867, the daughter of the 7th Earl of Dunmore, Lady Evelyn seemed equally at home in the fashionable salons of Mayfair and Paris as in remote camps in the Libyan Desert. She was a noted sportswoman, a deerstalker and a crack shot.
In 1933, at the age of 65, she announced her conversion and became the first Western woman to make the Hajj pilgrimage. She penned a bestselling book, Pilgrimage to Mecca, detailing her experience. 
When she died in 1963 at the age of 96, she left instructions that her gravestone, on a hill in remote Inverness in Scotland, bear the words: "Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth." 
She spent much of her childhood in Algiers and Cairo, where she was raised with Muslim nannies, and later wrote about how she felt to be Muslim from as early as she could remember, but only decided to profess her faith during a personal audience with the Pope. She recounted the meeting in Pilgrimage To Mecca: 
"Some years went by, and I happened to be in Rome staying with some Italian friends when my host asked if I would like to visit the Pope. Of course, I was thrilled. When His Holiness suddenly addressed me, asking if I was a Catholic, I was taken aback for a moment and then replied that I was a Muslim. What possessed me I don't pretend to know, as I had not given a thought to Islam for many years. A match was lit, and I then and there determined to read up and study the faith."  

Rowland Allanson-Winn, 5th Baron Headley (1855-1935) 

Rowland Allanson-Winn, better known as Lord Headley, would have been the first Muslim to sit in the House of Lords had he taken the position due to him when he became the 5th Baron Headley in 1913. That same year, instead, he converted to Islam and became Shaikh Rahmatullah al-Farooq. One year later, in 1914, Lord Headley headed the British Muslim Society.
Born in London in 1855 and educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, Lord Headley had been brought up as a Protestant before studying Roman Catholicism while living on the family's ancestral estate in Ireland. An accomplished engineer, early pioneer of martial arts, traveller and journalist, the Anglo-Irish aristocrat was considered a Victorian Renaissance man. He first encountered Islam in Kashmir in the mid-1890s while working for the British Raj in India.
He came to see Islam as a religion of tolerance and studied the faith in England with his mentor, the prominent Indian lawyer and Islamic scholar Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, before World War I.
Lord Headley was, by all accounts, an eccentric. One contemporary profile published in Time Magazine described him as "a man of many parts, a champion middleweight boxer in his day at Cambridge, a distinguished globe-trotter, an editor and excellent raconteur".
He was also one of the earliest exponents of what we know today as martial arts. In 1890, Lord Headley co-wrote one of the earliest manuals on self-defence called Broad-sword and Singlestick, before going on to write one of the first modern guides to boxing.
He made the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in 1923.
As he lay dying in England in June 1935, he scribbled a note to his son, his final request being that he be buried in an Islamic cemetery.

Marmaduke Pickthall (1875-1936)

Muhammed Marmaduke Pickthall was an English scholar, born to an Anglican clergyman. Before converting, Pickthall travelled widely, studying and working across India and the Middle East.
He was also a successful novelist, counting D H Lawrence, H G Wells and E M Forster among his admirers. He converted to Islam in 1917 and went on to publish a modern English translation of the Quran, which was later authorised by the famous Azhar University in Cairo and which remains a standard work to this day. When he published his translation, the Times Literary Supplement praised the work as "a great literary achievement". 
In the foreword to his translation, which he titled The Meanings of the Glorious Quran, Pickthall wrote: ... The Quran cannot be translated ....The book is here rendered almost literally and every effort has been made to choose befitting language. But the result is not the Glorious Quran, that inimitable symphony, the very sounds of which move men to tears and ecstasy. It is only an attempt to present the meaning of the Quran and peradventure something of the charm in English. It can never take the place of the Quran in Arabic, nor is it meant to do so ...."
As a schoolboy at Harrow Public School, Pickthall was a classmate and friend of Winston Churchill. A gifted linguist, he mastered several languages, including Arabic, and came to see himself as no longer an Englishman, but a Muslim "of the East". 
He died in Cornwall in 1936 and was buried in the Muslim cemetery at Brookwood in Surrey, England. - Al Jazeera

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Lee & Lee & Lee

Well, well, well.
What's been happening in our southern neighbour?

I really don't know what to make of this family feud in the Lee family. Lee being Lee Kuan Yew - Singapore's ex PM & Senior Minister and father of sitting PM Hsien Loong.

Hate to get "involved" in other people's affairs. But hey, this is Singapore's PM & his siblings. The two siblings posted their 6-page statement on Facebook early this morning for all to see.

It is a public statement.

Washing dirty linen in public? Some people will say it's sibling rivalry. Some people will sum it up and say it's all about greed.

Whatever.  But it sure got my attention.

Titled "What has happened to Lee Kuan Yew's values?", their angst is actually a long-running dispute over the demolition of their father's house at 38 Oxley Road.

                                              Dr Lee Wei Ling & Lee Hsien Yang

It seems, Hsien Loong's younger brother, Lee Hsien Yang and sister, Dr Lee Wei Ling want it to be demolished as requested by their late father.

They've also accused their brother of of having a personal agenda that is driving his political ambitions and have drawn in Ho Ching, Hsien Loong's wife.

This morning Hsien Loong responded, expressing his disappointment and sadness over the statement that is "publicising private family matters".
"I am deeply saddened by the unfortunate allegations that they have made. Ho Ching and I deny these allegations, especially the absurd claim that I have political ambitions for my son.," said Mr Lee, in response to a six-page public statement issued by his siblings on Wednesday (June 14).
Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang had said in their statement that they had lost confidence in their brother, PM Lee.
Titled "What has happened to Lee Kuan Yew's values?", their statement centres around the long-running dispute over the demolition of their father's house at 38 Oxley Road.
                                                             PM Lee Hsien Loong
In response, PM Lee said: "While siblings may have differences, I believe that any such differences should stay in the family. Since my father's passing in March 2015, as the eldest son I have tried my best to resolve the issues among us within the family, out of respect for our parents."
He said his siblings' statement "has hurt our father's legacy".
In their statement, Hsien Yang and Wei Ling said they felt closely monitored and fear the use of organs of state against them and Hsien Yang's wife, Suet Fern.
The situation is such that Hsien Yang felt compelled to leave Singapore "for the foreseeable future".
The two siblings allege, among others, that since their father's death on March 23, 2015, there have been changes in Singapore that do not reflect what the late Mr Lee stood for.
The two siblings are joint executors and trustees of the estate of the late Mr Lee.
In their statement, they reiterated their father's wish that the house be demolished upon his passing, and said Hsien Loong and his wife  had opposed this wish as "the preservation of the house would enhance his political capital".
The two siblings alleged that preserving the house would allow their brother "and his family to inherit a tangible monument to Lee Kuan Yew's authority".
The two siblings also alleged that "based on our interactions", PM Lee and his wife harbour political ambitions for their son, Hongyi.
Hsien Loong called this an "absurd claim" and denied that he had any such ambitions for his son.
 "I will do my utmost to continue to do right by my parents. At the same time, I will continue serving Singaporeans honestly and to the best of my ability. In particular that means upholding meritocracy, which is a fundamental value of our society."
The statement from the siblings came 1½ years after Dr Lee,  Hsien Yang, and PM Lee issued a joint statement in December 2015 saying the brothers had each agreed to donate half the value of 38 Oxley Road to charities named in their father's obituary notice.
Dr Lee and Hsien Yang had said they would like to honour their father's wish for the house to be demolished after Dr Lee ceases to live in it.
Hsien Loong had said he had recused himself from all government decisions involving the house and, in his personal capacity, would also like to see this wish honoured.
He ended his response: "As my siblings know, I am presently overseas on leave with my family. I will consider this matter further after I return this weekend."
This is it so far. But, you and I know that's not the end.
It's just the beginning.

Maju lah Singapura!

You Go, MACC!

You'd know by now that the Malaysian Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has been pretty busy these past few months.

The latest is the Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) case. Not an easy one this case. 

The alleged improprieties that warranted MACC investigations aside, the damn case is all about boardroom tussle. That seems to be something everyone recognises.
What a shame that it has got to that.

Meanwhile, MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki was quoted to have said that FGV"s two key figures may be called up to assist in investigations. They are FGV chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad and chief executive officer Datuk Zakaria Arshad .

He also said another 50 people would also be asked to assist.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razk has appointed Pemandu Associates CEO Datuk Seri Idris Jala as an independent party to establish the facts of the case behind the FGV controversy.

Last Saturday, Najib said in appointing Idris said it was important for all parties to establish the facts of the case in the FGV boardroom tussle as that was the best way for them to seek a solution that would bring the company forward.

Felda chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad will be briefing Najib today on the issue.
Shahrir has expressed confidence that the issue could be resolved before Raya.

A real shame that this is happening to Felda - a rural resettlement agency that has grown into an economic powerhouse.
Back to MACC -- I say, you're doing a good job!

You Didn't Know About Volvo's Long History in Malaysia?

Hans, a writer of saw it fit to tell the Volvo Malaysian story in response to a 
a report by The Star on June 12, 2017 quoting Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan, Second Minister of International Trade and Industry as saying that locally-assembled Volvo cars will arrive in Malaysia by 2022, to be produced at Proton’s Tanjung Malim plant.

Ong also said that Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co (which owns Volvo Car as well as half of Proton Holdings) plans to make Malaysia as the Swedish car maker’s export hub for the ASEAN region.

Hans also mentioned another report by The Star that Volvo plans to use Malaysia as its base to penetrate the 620 million population ASEAN region in a big way.
The fact is, Hans, Volvo already has a sophisticated, export-capable plant in Malaysia, and Malaysia-assembled Volvos have been here since 1968. 
I am sure the younger generation of Malaysians are not aware of this. I'm surprised Ong doesn't know this.
Well here’s the problem: Volvo does have a sophisticated, export-capable plant in Malaysia, and Malaysia-assembled Volvos have been here since 1968. No need to wait until 2022 because Malaysia has been operating as Volvo’s regional hub for ASEAN since 2012.
Earlier this year, prior to Geely’s deal with Proton, Volvo Car Malaysia had already announced that its Malaysian plant will be expanding its export destinations to include Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and even Taiwan. This is on top of the company’s existing export operations to Thailand.
The oversight is quite embarrassing because the Swedes have long history of supporting Malaysia’s automotive industry.
Volvo was the first car company to establish a vehicle assembly plant in Malaysia and is one of the few brands that export finished vehicles from Malaysia.
Not only that, the plant in Malaysia was Volvo’s first outside of Sweden and until today, Malaysia is the only country outside of Sweden to assemble that XC90. Not just any XC90, but the most sophisticated plug-in hybrid variant that produces 407 PS of power - the Inscription trimmed XC90 T8 model! Not even Volvo plants in Belgium or China gets the honour!
Here’s a brief overview of the relationship between Volvo and Malaysia.
In the early ‘60s, Malaysia embarked on an ambitious plant to diversify its economic base to reduce the country’s reliance on agricultural produce, by establishing heavy industries. An important substitution policy was implemented and taxes were imposed on imported products.
At that time, our little country in South East Asia was only known for rubber trees, tin mining and little else. When we announced to the world that we want to establish a car industry, not many took us seriously but the egalitarian Swedes at Volvo were the first to raise their hands, and said that they will help us and teach us.
Volvo was the first car company to setup a vehicle assembly plant in Malaysia. Located in Shah Alam, the plant was then known as Swedish Motor Assemblies and the first Malaysia-assembled Volvo rolled off the plant in early 1968, a Volvo 144S sedan.
The British, Germans and Japanese came slightly later – Inchcape Motor’s Assembly Services plant opposite Volvo’s facility was setup in 1968. It assembled for several European brands before switching to produce Toyota vehicles exclusively.
The same year also saw Oriental Assemblers’ in Johor Bahru assembling Honda vehicles, before it was transferred to Honda Malaysia’s plant in Pegoh, Melaka in 2003.
By 1976, Nissan vehicles were being put together at the Tan Chong Motor Assemblies plant in Segambut. For a short period of time before Segambut plant was ready, Nissan vehicles were actually assembled in Swedish Motor Assemblies alongside Volvos.   
Back in 2012, Volvo Car was not in the best of health. The new generation of SPA platform 90-series and 60-series cars developed with Geely's money have yet to reach the market. Volvo had a plant in both Thailand and Malaysia and as their sales volume were very low, they had to choose to keep only one plant. In a very surprising move, the Swedes chose Malaysia over Thailand.
Today, the manufacturing facility is now known as Volvo Car Manufacturing (formerly known as Swedish Motor Assemblies). It’s a wholly owned subsidiary of the Sweden’s Volvo Car Group.
The plant might be very old but Volvo has invested RM20 million to upgrade the plant to accommodate Volvo’s latest SPA platform and plug-in hybrid technology. This does not include the investments made earlier. In 2013, it became the first car plant in Malaysia to introduce laser welding, for the V40.   
Currently, the plant produces the V40, S60, XC60 (outgoing generation), XC90. The S90 and V90 are currently imported but plans are underway to locally-assemble them later.
We hope the oversight, by a MITI minister nonetheless, will be overlooked by Volvo’s decision makers at Gothenburg and Hangzhou, because the rest of us Malaysians are truly grateful for Volvo’s contribution to Malaysia.
We should also point out that neither the Volvo Car Group nor its owner Zhejiang Geely has said anything about assembling Volvo vehicles at Proton's Tanjung Malim plant. These comments came only from the Malaysian government.