Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Isa For Bagan Pinang

Now that the Umno leadership has chosen former Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Isa Samad as the Bagan Pinang by-election candidate, the question of candidacy is closed. No more speculations.

Shouting, criticising and lamenting will not help the party in the by-election.

Isa's tainted record in the party will be fodder for the opposition. That's for sure. But whether this will be the cause for Barisan Nasional's reduced majority in the forthcoming by-election remains to be seen, if at all, it will be reduced.

Other factors are in play -- the non-Malay votes, for instance. And in particular the Indian vote.

What can be seen is that Umno grassroots leaders had been rooting for Isa because he is a popular figure in the constituency. They feel that he is the man to lead the BN to victory. Other Umno leaders believe otherwise. Picking Isa as a candidate sends the wrong signal -- that Umno condones corruption. This is not in tandem with Umno's process of reforming itself.
His candidacy does not do much for Umno in the bigger scheme of things, naysayers and sceptics echo.

From the word go, speculations were rife that either Isa or his son, Najib would be picked.

The question that followed was : Is there nobody else?

Looks like this is a clear case of failure on the part of Teluk Kemang Umno in grooming younger and credible leaders.

Surely there are other potential candidates. No? Well, no.

Anyway, what's done is done. Isa is the candidate. Surely the party leadership must have thought hard about it, weighing the pros and cons.
Besides, the local Umno leaders have vouched for him.

So, BN and in particular Umno leaders have got to give him their fullest backing.

I'm not sure if Isa,who is Teluk Kemang Umno division chief, needs their backing to win, seeing that he is supposed to be popular in the constituency.

What he needs is some kind of acknowledgement from his own colleagues that he has paid his dues. That his candidacy is valid and that he has the right to be there.

But that's another story. Perhaps for another day.

Right now, the challenge for the BN in Bagan Pinang is to increase the majority. As have been said by so many people, any less, would be a moral defeat.

Read Isa's promise.....

*The Bagan Pinang by-election is scheduled to be held on Oct 10.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Got The Money To Make Movies But....

...where are the movies?

I remember those days when our local film makers lamented the dearth of funding for movie projects. Though I always thought that you'd never really need a big budget to make a film. And good films at that. You can see many cases in point here -- as proven by our talented independent film-makers. So proud of them.

But I am not proud of some individuals who were given the Malaysian Film Develoment Corporation (Finas) feature film loans, shouted about their projects...and nothing came out of them.

Check out NST's Reel Time.

These loans are meant to help local film-makers and to boost the local film industry.

I'm not sure what happened to these movie projects such as Aduh Saliha (The Cameracrew Productions).

According to the report, the project (in 2007), to be directed by M. Nasir, would have seen Mawi's acting debut alongside newcomer Puteri Sarah Liyana.

Shooting had already taken place in Sabah for several weeks but it was inexplicably halted.
Mawi's second movie, Jin Notti, is making waves in cinemas. But there's no news on Aduh Saliha.

Then, there's The Chini (Raffi Hussein Corporation), an ambitious film project on the legendary dragon of the Chini Lake was launched in August 2003 at its namesake.

In this case, Raffi Hussein, who was also the director, died before production could begin.

And then there's Mat Kilau (Lagenda Studios), about the legendary Malay warrior. It was to feature newcomers Mohd Hairulnizam and Maslina Omar.

It wa launched last February with the usual fanfare. It was to be directed by Rodzee A. Razak. The producer announced that the film would cost RM10 million, the second most expensive film after Puteri Gunung Ledang.

Nothing has been heard of it since.

Mek Ani (Wan's Production), to be produced by Wan Noraini Wan Noh launched the project about the life of a Makyong dancer in July last year.

She said the film could become Malaysia's first entry in the Academy Awards.

The RM4 million project never took off.

The film shoot, set to be directed by Arieef Karmahani with Zulhuzaimi and newcomer Sharina Ahmad Hadzimdan as main stars, has been postponed several times.

I'm not sure what's going on, why these projects were not completed or never took off, or if they have and are completed, never got to see the light of day.

But it sure ain't right.

So, it's over to you, FINAS, to find out what happened.

Friday, September 25, 2009

We So Need Our Mobile Phones...

...and without them, we will die. An exaggeration. But you know what I mean.

Yesterday, for instance. Life was at a standstill for a lot of people -- specifically Celcom users, when connection was disrupted for some 12 hours. (HERE's why)

Anyway, a survey conducted across 11 countries found that mobile phones are now so much a part of our lives, and that we cannot leave home without them.
The survey by global market research company Synovate In:fact conducted in June this year with over 8,000 urban mobile phone owners in Malaysia, Canada, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, United Kingdom and the United States found that 75% said they never leave home without it.

The survey, which was released in early September, also found that 36% go as far to say they cannot live without their mobile phones.

In Malaysia, two-thirds of the 800 respondents said they never leave home without their mobile phones, while 62% admitted that they even sleep with their mobile phones close by. And half of the respondents said they get excited whenever their phone rings or beeps for a message.


Also, the t
he survey touched on the impact of text messaging (or SMS) in the respondents' lives. While mobile phones undoubtedly have become an essential tool for communications, they have also evolved into a tool for break ups.

Twenty-three percent of the respondents from the Philippines admitted that break ups are easier done via SMS followed closely behind by Russians and Malaysians (22% respectively).

Infidelity and The World of Cybersex

(source : TheSun)

More than half of people who engage in cybersex are married or in a serious relationship, according to new research from Swinburne University of Technology, Australia.

The findings of a new study into cybersex participants, conducted by Swinburne doctoral candidate Marcus Squirrell, will be presented at the Australian Psychological Society conference in Darwin next week.

For the study Squirrell surveyed over 1300 internet users who regularly frequented online sex, fetish and swinging sites to engage in online sexual activities – ranging from downloading erotic pictures and chatting online to using webcams to interact with others.

He found that 55% of respondents were either married or classified themselves as ‘in a committed relationship’. He also found that 65% of respondents had met someone offline after engaging in cybersex with them online.

According to Squirrell, many people can benefit from using the internet for sexual activity. But for some participants, particularly those in relationships, it can become problematic and damage their ‘real life’ interactions.

“For many people, chat-lines can provide a vehicle for exploring their sexuality in a safe environment, which may increase their sense of social and emotional connectedness to their community,” he said.

“But for some people their use of the internet for cybersex becomes unmanageable and their behaviour takes on an obsessive and compulsive flavour,” he said.

“These people are putting so much energy into cybersex – in some cases up to 10 hours per day – that it is detracting from their relationship with their partner. It can also adversely affect other areas of their lives, such as their education and employment.”

The Swinburne study also found that cybersex participants are mostly male, well educated and with an average age of 41 years.

According to Squirrell, cybersex addiction is a growing phenomenon in Australia, with more people seeking treatment than ever before.

He hopes that the findings of this study will give psychologists a better understanding of the psychological characteristics of cybersex participants, to enable best-practice treatment.

The 44th Annual Australian Psychological Society conference will be held in Darwin from Sept 30 to Oct 4, 2009.

Marcus Squirrel runs a Melbourne-based psychological practice, specialising in cybersex addiction. For more information visit

I'll Be A Good Girl...

...is what Beyonce Knowles will be when she performs in Bukit Jalil on Oct 25.
According to the concert organizer, "all parties have come to an amicable understanding."

Beyonce will observe all Malaysian regulations governing foreign acts which means that she will not be wearing provocative and skimpy outfits in her concert.

In fact, she'll be wearing a "jubah". Kidding. I'm kidding.

Read the NST report here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The (Self-Proclaimed) Malay Prophet....

Whatever that means. What in heaven's name is a Malay prophet?

The first time I read about this self-proclaimed Malay prophet, I almost choked.

Ashaari -- eat your heart out. Here's one that has upped you.

Malay prophet indeed. How anyone can buy this one is beyond me.

But, there are suckers among us.

Anyway, he is Abdul Kahar Ahmad.

Today, the 59 year-old father of six, changed his plea to guilty at a Syariah High Court in Shah Alam..

He faced five charges under the Selangor Syariah Criminal Enatcment for proclaiming himself as a prophet for the Malays, conducting deviationist teachings, violating the Selangor Mufti’s order, blasphemy and spreading false belief.

He was accused of committing the offences at No. 44, Jalan Bunga Ros, Kampung Kemensah in Hulu Klang between May 19 and June 23, 2005.

He was brought to the court from Sungai Buloh prison Thursday for a mention to extend his detention until the hearing on Oct 7.

But his counsel Musa Awang told the court that he wanted to change his plea.

The court subsequentlty fixed Oct 2 to hear submissions from the prosecution and for Musa to deliver his mitigation.

Musa asked the court for the accused to be released on bail as Abdul Kahar had been spending Hari Raya Adilfitri in the prison.

He said five of Abdul Kahar’s children and a relative, with two of them being civil servants, had offered to be his sureties.

However, Syariah chief prosecutor Abdul Shukor Abd Hamid objected and said the court did not want to take the risk of the accused not turning up again as he had a record of being absent from court.

Judge Abu Zaky Mohamamad allowed bail at RM2,000 in two sureties who has to be Grade C civil servants for each charge, totalling RM10,000.

He failed to post bail and had to return to prison.

Abdul Kahar claimed trial in Aug 2005 when he was charged with the five offences but over the past four years, he had allegedly preached deviationist “Kahar Ahmad teachings” and played hide-and-seek with the law.

On Sept 16, Abdul Kahar was arrested by a team of Selangor Religious Department enforcement officers in Sungai Long, Kajang, at 9.45am and brought the court the following day.

(source: The Star online)

Also read the NST's report HERE.

Beyonce Is Just Too Sexy For Malaysia

That's what Pas Youth thinks. And they have a point about her being sexy. But Malaysia can handle her booty-liciousness. Perhaps Pas Youth, can't.

I think Beyonce is hot and sexy. But just because she is, does not mean that we should not let her perform.

Pas Youth says it is not against entertainment, but is just objecting to this American superstar's concert here because of her sexy attire and seductive dancing.

Its vice chief Ahmad Sabki told the News Straits Times yesterday that Pas Youth is unhappy with the trend of bringing in Western groups to Malaysia.

"We know that these groups are not suitable for our Malaysian culture. Their appearance and attire are against our Eastern identity."

He said even if Beyonce were to dress in a jubah (Muslim attire), she was still known for her "sexy image".

"We are against Western entertainment that promotes hedonism. We do not want our youths to be misled.

"We have in the past objected to Indonesian dangdut artiste Inul Daratista performing in Malaysia as she is also well known for her sexy gyrations."

He regretted that the media had portrayed Pas as a conservative
party that seeks to ban entertainment.

Beyonce will be performing at
the national stadium in Bukit Jalil at 8pm on Sunday (Oct 25). It is part of her "Beyonce I Am ..." world live tour.

She was scheduled to perform in Malaysia in 2007 but gave Kuala Lumpur a miss and performed in Jakarta instead.

(source: NST)

Oh dear, oh dear. This happens every time a foreign artiste or group has a scheduled concert in this country.

Pas Youth probably feels that it has a responsibility to keep Malaysia safe from undesirable foreign elements. Just fulfilling its role as an Islamic party.
But Pas Youth cannot be deciding what kind of entertainment Malaysians should and should not have.
Pas Youth has got to stop this. Tak payah-lah nak fikir-fikir pasal ni semua.

Malaysians are not unfamiliar with Beyonce, or other foreign artistes -- sexy or otherwise. They are on TV (MTV and channel V), and in other forms of media, including Youtube.

So, yes, TV has a profound influence on viewers. And that is why you see our kids all dress up like Beyonce.


Besides, this is not your average concert.
Tickets for the concert are so expensive. The cheapest is RM93 and the priciest RM583.

Oh, by the way. Beyonce does not go around topless (as in the photo) -- in case you're wondering. Not on stage, nor off. That's just for a photoshoot.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The RM50m Demand Is Extortionate, Says Johor Royal Family

Last week, Tunku Nadzimuddin of Negeri Sembilan told a Press conference that he was viciously attacked by the Raja Muda of Johor, Tunku Ismail in October, 2008.

The incident occured in a hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

(Refresh your memory HERE)

Tunku Nadzimuddin held the Press conference because he and his family felt that the police were dragging their feet in the matter. And he wanted a closure.

During the Press conference, his mother, Tunku Dara Naquiah was asked to confirm whether the family had demanded RM100 million from the Johor royal family to settle the matter.

She denied this but said that a "lawyer-to-lawyer" letter was sent, asking for RM50 million.

The Malay Mail has a story today, quoting sources, that the Johor royal family found the RM50m to be extortionate.

It also said that "Tunku Ismail would counter every claim" made during last Friday's Press conference lby Tunku Nadzimuddin.

Read Rocky's Bru posting HERE

And the Malay Mail report HERE.

Ad do read Halimah Said's take on the royal brawl in her blog Ninitalk.

Looks to me like the whole d**n thing started out as a typical "clubbing misunderstanding". Should've been sorted out easily. But then, I was not there so it's easy for me to say it.
Perhaps, the players are not your typical run-of-the-mill types.
I am not making any judgment here. Except to say that RM50 million is so over the top...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

"Don't Interfere!" Samy Vellu Tells Tun Dr M

Former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad spoke his mind, as he usually does and said that Isa Samad would be a wrong choice as Barisan Naional candidate for Bagan Pinang (state by-election).

Now....what is wrong with that?
Someone else will say that Isa is the right choice.

The Tun is entitled to his opinion. And that does not qualify as "interfering" in BN affairs.
He is after all, a former BN chairman. He is not telling the PM (Najib Razak) or the DPM (Muhyidddin Yassin) to listen to him.

And Dr M does not expect either of them to listen to him.

Looks like there will be more of this kind of remarks from the MIC supreme leader, specially dedicated to Dr M.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Salam Aidilfitri

How quickly time flies. It feels like yesterday that I was typing these words of Eid greetings. Another Raya, another celebration.
As we get older, we feel blessed to be able to celebrate yet another Eid with our loved ones.

So, today, I wish my Muslim brothers and sisters a blessed Eid.

Have a splendid Aidilfitri, everyone.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Rehabilitating Mat Rempits

The Government will embark on a new programme to rehabilitate illegal motorcyle racers or Mat Rempit to turn them into useful members of society instead of simply meting out punishment against them, said Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Najib said the pilot project to be launched next January as part of the Permata Negara programme would target youths aged between 18 and 25 years who were involved in such activities and posed a high risk in terms of social problems.

He said the Government decided to use the softer approach after finding that putting the youths behind bars for “minor offences” had the potential of making the problem worse when they mingled with, and were influenced by, hardcore criminals in prison.

“The aim is not to penalise the offenders but to find ways to rehabilitate them so they can become useful, successful and confident members of the public.

Read the rest of the story here....

I hope that the government can really find ways to rehabilitate these rempits...

Al-Kisah Dua Orang Anak Raja....

By now, you would know about a prince from Negri Sembilan accusing a Johor prince of viciously attacking him with a gun.

The incident allegedly took place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Jalan Sultan Ismail, in Kuala Lumpur in the wee hours of Oct 25 last year.

The accuser is 37 year-old Tunku Nadzimuddin Tunku Mud­zaffar, a grandson of the late Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negri Sembilan. And the accused is the Raja Muda of Johor Tunku Ismail.

Yesterday (Thursday, Sept 17 -- and some 11 months later), Tunku Nadzimuddin decided to hold a press conference during which he alleged that the police were too slow in acting on his report.

With him were his parents -Tunku Datuk Mudzaffar Tunku Mustapha and Tunku Dara Naquiah Tuanku Ja'afar - his wife Nur Azini MohdKamal, his uncle Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja’afar and friend Shamshud Dhuha.

Tunku Nadzimuddin told the Malay Mail that he called for the Press conference because he wanted a closure to the matter.

Tunku Dara Naquiah was asked to confirm whether the family had demanded fromTunku Ismail's family RM100million settlement. She denied this.

"My son's life is priceless", she said.

But she did admit that the law firm representing the family had sent a “lawyer to lawyer” letter of demand, dated Dec 10, 2008, seeking compensation of RM50 million but that letter was never responded to.

Here's an excerpt from a news report:

Tunku Nadzimuddin said Tunku Ismail put a gun to his head and hit him repeatedly for “unknown reasons” in the early hours of Oct 25 last year.

He was at a club called Heritage Mansion with his then girlfriend and now wife Nur Azini Kamal, 32, to meet his friends on the night of Oct 24.

Tunku Nadzimuddin, an institutional clients manager for MAAKL Mutual Bhd was having a “time-out” after undergoing treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Just after 1am, a scuffle broke out and a bottle landed on one of his friends’ head.

Subsequently, he was contacted by a man who claimed to be Tunku Ismail.

Tunku Nadzimuddin said the other party wanted to apologise and asked him to go to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Jalan Sultan Ismail.

As the group waited at the lobby, Tunku Nadzimuddin claimed that some of them were forced into a lift.

Once they were inside the lift, Tunku Nadzimuddin claimed that Tunku Ismail, who was armed with a gun, hit him on the head and face.

Tunku Ismail was also holding the gun in a threatening manner at his head. One of Tunku Nadzimuddin's friend who was also in the lift was allegedly assaulted until he lost consciousness.

The lift stopped on the 25th floor and they were forced into a room where his unconscious friend was left lying the floor. They were said to have been held captive for 45 minutes.

Very serious allegations.
But we're hearing just one side of the story. I've been told another version which was very different. Didn't happen the way the Negri prince said.
Anyway, let's wait for what Tunku Ismail has to say. I believe the Johor royal family will tell their side of the story after Aidilfitri.

But RM50 million?

Do read these:

*RM50 million battle royale - NST

*"Tunku Nadzimuddin: I just want this to end"- The Malay Mail

*RM50million demand ignored: Negri royal family claims A-G suggested out-of-court settlement- The Malay Mail

*Royal Brawl Out In the Open - The Star

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tun Dr M: "I'd Be Sad If It Was Umno......"

Dr Mahathir Mohamad told Bernama that he was neither angry nor sad by the "slipper" insult hurled at him by an MIC member.

Here's the Bernama report:

The former Prime Minister said Thursday he did not feel anything by it and added: "Nothing would have happened to me."

Instead he would have felt angry and saddened if such an insult had been made by Umno members.

"This is not the first time I have been insulted. People might have forgotten how Umno leaders had insulted me. Nazri (Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz) and the previous menteri besar of Kedah wanted me expelled from Umno.

"However, then no one gave any reaction. No one dared to say anything," he said.

On Sunday, during the MIC's annual-general assembly that was held at the Putra World Trade Centre here, the deputy chief of MIC's Paya Besar division in Pahang, M. Sukumaran had made a suggestion that "a garland of slippers" be hung around a potrait of Dr Mahathir at Umno's headquarters there to show MIC's dissatisfaction over alleged interference by the former prime minister in MIC's affairs.

However, this time the action drew flak from all around, from political leaders, non-governmental organisations and the general public.

"Suddenly I have become popular. Everyone is defending me. As I said... previously when I was insulted, asked to be expelled from Umno no one showed any reaction. Why the reaction now?," he asked.

"Then no one defended me. At least not openly. Some did on the quiet but the big names dared not," he said, adding that he was saddened that people from his own party and who sat with him in his cabinet had resorted to such action.

It was insults from Umno people that hurt him and that this one from the MIC member was just like "pouring water on a duck's back", he said.

"I have been with Umno since its formation (except for short spells when he was expelled and when he resigned as a member). The people who talked bad about me weren't even born yet," he said.

Noordin Mat Top Killed In Police Raid

According to Reuters, Indonesia's most wanted Islamist militant, Noordin Mohammad Top, was killed in a police shoot-out in Central Java on Thursday.

Malaysian-born Top, who set up a violent splinter group of regional militant network Jemaah Islamiah, was widely considered the mastermind of the bomb attacks on two luxury hotels in Jakarta in July, as well as other attacks in Bali and in Jakarta, which have killed scores of Westerners and Indonesians.

Continue reading...

Also read Bernama's report HERE .

Suhakam Wants Remaining Nine ISA Detainees Released

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) wants the Home Ministry to release the remaining nine Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees at the Kamunting Detention Centre in Taiping.

Suhakam vice chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun said the commission felt, all the ISA detainees can be released while a Thailand and Pakistan national charged with falsifying documents, can be charged in an open court.

"There are only nine detainees left in the centre and from the total, only four are Malaysians.

"We met and had a dialogue with eight of the detainees today...those charged for falsifying documents should be charged in court and given a chance to defend themselves," he told reporters here Thursday after visiting the Taiping Prison and Kamunting with Suhakam commissioner Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam and a number of officers.

He added that they could not meet the ninth detainee, the longest serving ISA detainee in the camp (seven years), as he had isolated himself in a toilet, believed to be due to depression.

Simon said since Suhakam was formed in 2000, the commission had for the first time been involved in steps to review the ISA and make recommendations to the Home Ministry.

We feel ISA need to be replaced with a new law that can specifically deal with offences that threaten the security of the nation, but it will take time, and we have asked the government to review the ISA so that it will not be misused or misinterpreted," he said.

Meanwhile, Siva said since Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak became the Prime Minister, many changes had taken place and as a result only nine detainees remained at the centre, the lowest in the history.

Siva added that Suhakam was also satisfied with the conditions at the Taiping prison. - BERNAMA

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Laila's First Eid With Husband After ......

...more than seven years. That is such a long time.

Laila is the wife of ex-ISA detainee Mat Sah Mohd Satray, one of the five detainees released yesterday.
He was in Kamunting for 7 years 3 months.

This is what she wrote in her blog Merah Hitam.

"Tiada siapa yang akan faham bagaimanakah perasaan keluarga dan dan mangsa ISA dalam situasi begini. 7 tahun yang berlalu tak akan dapat di ganti kembali dengan mudah....namun kami akan cuba menyesuaikan diri dengan suasana baru ,menerima seseorang yang telah 7 tahun dipisahkan dari kami." -

The others are:

 Abdullah Daud (who was detained for 7½ years);
 Ahmad Kamil Md Hanapiah (two years and four months);
 Mohd Nasir Ismail @Hassan (two years and fourmonths); and,
 Muhammad Amir Md Hanapiah (two years and four months).

There are now nine detainees left in the Kamunting detention centre near Taiping.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, announcing their release yesterday, said that the five were found to have responded positively to rehabilitation efforts and felt remorse for their past actions.

I am just so happy for Laila and her children....and the families of all the other detainees.

My dad was detained for about 5 years. And that felt like eternity. Mat Sah was in for more than 7 years.
Alhamdulillah syukur..., is all I can say.

*Since Najib Razak took office as PM in April, 29 detainees have been released.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesdays With Me

Just a very short posting today, as we are nearing Aidilfitri.
Gosh! Just four or five days more.
I still remeber Kak Ton telling us just before Ramadhan that our Mee Rebus Tuesday would resume after Hari Raya.
And now, we're talking about when to start buying the ingredients for our Raya fare.

I know the days are passing by so quickly. But I know too well that the last two days before Syawal, will be very very slow.
You can feel, nay, hear, the seconds ticking away.
And the fasting really gets to you.

It's always like that.

And I am so missing Adel, wondering how he will be celebrating Raya.


He has started classes, so in a way, he will not be pre-occupied with thinking about lontong, ketupat, lodeh, sambal goreng, serunding, ayam goreng pedas.....

He did not know anyone there when he arrived. It's not like when I was in Boston. My friend, Hawa, Salleh and Yunos were already there, waiting for me at the airport.

When Abang Med arrived in Canberra, (arwah) Kak Piah and Abang Zul were at the airport.
Abang Zul was doing his Masters at the Australian National University.

Kak Ton met familiar faces when she arrived in Athens, Ohio.

And, well...Kak Olin knew so many people in London when she first arrived there years ago.
I think anyone would know a lot of people in London.

Canada is so far away.

Sure, sure...we have real-time communication now. That, of course, eases the ache and the pain.

It's the thought of his physical being in an unfamilar environment to celebrate a festive day he's known all his life.

But I worry too much.

Perhaps, it is better that he doesn't know any familiar faces in that unfamiliar land.
It is after all a new adventure and a new journey for him. A whole new experience. He will overcome. And he will savour the newness. (But not too much, eh, Adel!)

Adel, like most people, would instinctively adjust.

Besides, Adel, as with most McDonald generation (Malaysian) kids, does not crave for nasi and sambal belacan, the way we did when we were overseas those days when the world was not so borderless.

He's so fine with pasta, BigMac and Burger King. And halal restaurants abound in foreign lands now.

Heck, by next Raya, he'd probably be regaling me about how fantastic his Canadian Eid celebration is....

I should be happy about that.

Anyway, until next Tuesday, here's wishing everyone Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Maaf Zahir dan Batin!

Meme: Save Yvonne's Sight

I have never met Yvonne. And that is my loss. I have read about her, though.

And after knowing what this courageous 22 year-old has gone and is going through, I really feel so so small. So humbled by her struggle.

Yvonne Foong discovered she had a rare genetic disease at 16.

Doctors told her she had neurofibromatosis type 2 that causes benign tumours to grow in her brain, spine and along her peripheral nerves. The disease is incurable.

Yvonne has survived several surgeries to remove tumours - one on her spine and the rest on her brain. She is now semi-paralysed on her face, deaf, partially blind, has poor balance and a stiff right leg.

Yvonne who blogs (www.yvonnefoong.com) and is the author of I’m Not Sick, Just A Bit Unwell, (picture), has been raising money on her own to pay for her operations.

Right now she needs to undergo yet another surgery.

Marina tagged me for "Save Yvonne's Sight".

Marina says Yvonne is losing her eyesight. The operation is due in December and once again she needs to raise funds for it. The cost of the surgery is USD44,000 (RM154,770) and the cost of her hospital stay for two weeks is USD915 or RM3219.

"She has already raised RM10,000 of this but obviously still has a long way to go. She's hoping to raise the rest by republishing her book I'm Not Sick, Just A Little Bit Unwell in English and Chinese.The books are now available in Malaysian bookshops and from her website store. She is also selling T-shirts at bazaars and via her web site store. You can read about her surgery and donate to her fund here."

You can also help by sending on this meme. If you do, please follow these meme rules:

1. Create a blog entry titled "Meme: Save Yvonne's Sight"

2. List three things you love to see. Add in the picture of Yvonne's book cover. The URL is http://www.yvonnefoong.com/images/banner/my-story.jpg

3. End with the line, "Yvonne Foong is in danger of losing her eyesight thanks to neurofibromatosis (NF). Please find out how you can help her by visiting her blog at http://www.yvonnefoong.com."

4. Tag 5 blog friends. Be sure to copy the rules, OK?

5. If you have a Facebook account, please check out Ellen's new invention, a "feme" pronounced FEEM, a meme designed for Facebook here. And if you want to blog about NF, that would be great too!

The three things I love to see are:

1. my children, nieces and nephews

2. the ocean

3. clear blue skies

I'm tagging the following blogger friends to ask them to help out:

1. Tok Mommy

2. Maverick

3. Fauziah

4. Shanghai Fish

5. Tony Yew

Yvonne Foong is in danger of losing her eyesight thanks to neurofibromatosis (NF). Please find out how you can help her by visiting her blog at http://www.yvonnefoong.com.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Burgeoning "Gated" Communities In the Klang Valley

I get the sneaking suspicion that before long we would be seeing every road in housing estates "closed" and manned by security guards.

Due to rising crime in neighbourhoods, residents fear for their safety and haveresorted to having security guards man the entrances and exits of the roads in their housing estates.

It used to be a few roads in a few housing estates or neighbourhoods. Now you see more and more pockets in housing areas with roads closed and manned by security guards.

Roads in these neighbourhoods are allowed to be closed, if about 90 per cent of the residents affected approve of the plan.

The police, it seems, are all for it. This is what I am unhappy about, and I'll tell you why.

But, first let me say that I do understand people's fear about intruders in their homes, and in broad daylight in some cases. Their family's safety is paramount.
The fear is real. It happened to your neighbour so you worry. A police report was lodged. But, before any arrests were made, another neighbour fell victim.

Now, I think it is okay to close up minor roads or cul-de-sacs that are hardly ever used by anyone else other than the residents. But if it is a major neighbourhood road, I think it is not fair to other residents.

These roads do not belong to the residents. they are public roads. The residents are not paying for the roads.

Yet, I fully understand their predicament. I am not trivialising their predicament, nor their safety.

The first time I got somewhat infuriated was some 10 years ago when residents around Jalan Setiapuspa (where Jakes Charbroiled Steak restaurant is located), "closed" up the road, disallowing people to park their cars on the embankments.
I thought it was not right.

Some years later, residents along Jalan Taman Pantai had the road closed. The road is a through road which I frequently used (and still do) to get home from Bangsar.

But, it was (and still is) closed from midnight to 6am. I thought that was ok.

I think people are really desperate and are left with little choice when it comes to safeguard their homes and families because they have given up on the police to take care of security and safety in their neighbourhoods.

But closing up their roads --- where and when will it end?

Here is where I am most unhappy with the police who should have the security and safety of neighbourhoods as their priority. Agreeing to roads being closed up certainly makes life a lot easier for them, I reckon. Perhaps, they're short on manpower.

You see, nothing much ever happens in all our neighbourhoods -- except for (day & night) burglary, robbery and snatchthefts. You see what I mean.

Last year, in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, houses along the same road were broken into -- within a short span of time apart.

I'm sure you have your own story to tell.

Now that the Home Ministry has worked to beef up the police with more voluntary personnel, let's hope that the police have more than enough officers and men to patrol our friendly neighbourhoods, and increase police presence.
Surely, now, keeping the neighbourhood safe, can be high on their agenda.

We cannot let our neighbourhoods turn into "no-drive zones".

Besides, when it has come to residents having to resort to closing up their neighbourhood roads and paying security companies to man them, it really reflects poorly on our police force.

It reminds me of private housing areas in some third world countries where political instability and sky-rocketing crime rates (among others) make it necessary to have guards at the gate.

Anyway, right now, the only ones happy about the current state of affairs, are the "syarikat-syarikat keselamatan".

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Ganyang Malaysia In The Streets Of Jakarta

The Jakarta Post has reported that a group of Indonesians, calling themselves "Relawan Ganyang Malaysia" is walking the streets of Jakarta, hunting for Malaysians.

It is not certain whether this is the same group, "Benteng Demokrasi Rakyat" (BENDERA) that reportedly threatened to use bamboo spikes on Malaysians along a Jakarta street and had demanded passers-by to show proof of their nationality.

Our Malaysian students there are afraid to go out and for their safety.

It's heartening to know that Indonesian police have acted to protect the safety of Malaysians in the republic.

Here's part of the NST report (sourcing from the Jakarta Post website)

On Tuesday (Sept 9), members of “Relawan Ganyang Malaysia”, an activist group,
had conducted a raid on a street in Central Jakarta in a hunt for Malaysians.
The Jakarta Post website reported that the hunt, from 10am, was ended by police at 1pm.
The group - consisting some 40 activists - had been stopping and asking pedestrians, motorcyclists and those in cars to show their identity cards and passports to
identify themselves.
However, no Malaysian citizens were caught in the raid.
The report said two Malaysian-made cars passing the road were almost seized by the activists.
Activist Aji Kusuma was quoted by Jakarta Post as saying that the raid was aimed at showing that they were infuriated by the Indonesian government’s slow response in confronting Malaysia.
He said the group might continue its action for a couple of days.
“We will evaluate our action today before we plan the next rally. It could be at the Malaysian embassy.
“Indeed, we didn’t get any Malaysians today. But I think our action has sent a clear signal to the government. If they keep ignoring our demands, just wait for our next action,” he said.

Read the NST front-page report HERE.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tuesdays With Me

"I am fine. Canada is awesome and campus is amazing," Adel replied, in his facebook wall to Shaira the other day.

Aah...modern day communication tool. The best 21st century invention.

Well. I'm happy that Adel is settling in well in Canada. It's better that he finds Canada awesome than to hate it and everything about it.

"But does that mean you're not ever coming home?", I asked. A little mischief there trying to put him on a guilt trip.

He didn't reply. But in a facebook messge to Kak Ton, he said he will come home after graduation and present me with a daughter-in-law and a grandchild.

And, of course, I know he was joking. Still, I'd have to have a little chat with my young man.

Adel has always been full of positivity and optimism. I hope this will put him in good stead as he begins a new journey, a new experience in this foreign land...which, as it turns out, does not seem so foreign to Adel, after all.
Must be his life-long exposure to TV, movies and every imaginable media tool. In this day and age, nothing should be so foreign to anyone anymore.

Adel was still home during the first week of Ramadan. He left for Canada on the ninth day (early Sunday morning of Aug 30).

As we were sitting in the TV room enjoying quiet moments, he said: "Mummy will be okay when I'm away?"

Of course, I'd be ok, I told him. I should be the one worried about him. And during Ramadan, I am concerned about how he'd be breaking fast and whether he'd be able to have his "sahur" meals at all.

I asked him in his facebook wall how he was celebrating Shawal.

"There is a mosque near my area...."

Everytime I break my fast, and everytime I sahur, I think of my son,

I know I shouldn;t because, well, he is a big boy.

For the first time (in all ramadan), I gave the bazaar a miss. I have not gone to any. Not once. Not even on weekends.
It's because of the swine flu, for sure. Better safe than sorry.
You know how crowded these places are.
Instead, I buy my buka fare at our neighbourhood restaurant.

But even during previous Ramadans. I'd usually buy one or two types of kuih, Adel's favourite yong taufoo and otak-otak, and for Shaira, ikan bakar. I'd get for myself and the maid, laksa kedah or laksa penang. I'd also get ayam percik (for sahur).
Actually, it's not so much the buying and spending, but just walking past the stalls that's fun. Just taking in the smells and sounds. I loved it.

The strange thing is, though, I don't mind at all not going this year.

Besides, Adel used to accompany me to the bazaars on weekends or when he was not at school or college.

I'd better get used to him not being around.

As I have said. We're already into our third week of Ramadan.

Sungguh cepat masa berlalu.

And before I know it, I'd be celebrating Adel's return home. With or without menantu and cucu.

Meanwhile, I hope I'll be able to hold back my tears on the eve of Syawal when the Takbir begins to resonate...

No Discussion On Indonesian Maid Salary Hike

Looks like the Malaysian-Indonesian joint working committee did not discuss the issue of revising the salary for Indonesian maids working in Malaysia.

Last week, Indonesian media reports said that Indonesia would demand that Indonesian maids in Malaysia be paid a minimum of RM800 in monthly salary.

Many Malaysians, naturally disagreed, saying that that was way too steep.

I agree. Way too steep for unskilled workers whose food and accomodation and everything else, are taken care of by their employers.

What needs to be done is ensuring that these maids are not exploited.

Anyway, Human Resources Minister Dr S. Subramaniam said yesterday that the issue had not been officially raised by the Indonesians but if it was brought up, Malaysia would look into it.

And, I would urge Malaysia to not "melatah" and respond (favourably) so swiftly to the Indonesian demand.

I think, Indonesia is "playing" with us. What with the media hyped-up and whipped-up anger towards Malaysia in the republic, I'm not surprised this RM800 came about.

Anyway, the RM800 is not happening because the two countries had already agreed that the salary scale for the maids was to be determined by market forces under the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between Malaysia and Indonesia.

So, any variations on the salary would necessitate a re-negotiation of the MoU.

In Jakarta on Saturday, officials from the ministry and the Home Ministry held discussions with their Indonesian counterparts on foreign workers, especially the maid issue.

Dr Subramaniam said they they discussed the Indonesian agency fee structure as well as the day off for the maids.

He said the single day off would only take effect after the amendments to the Labour Act 1955 are passed at the next Parliament sitting and gazzetted.

(source: The Star)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Khalid Shelves Temple Relocation Plan

I wasn't there but according to news reports the dialogue session between Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim with Sect 23 residents of Shah Alam over the relocation of a temple turned unruly.

Residents shouted and booed at him and Shah Alam mayor Mazalan Md Noor as they tried to explain.

So, nothing was resolved. Khalid decided to shelve (temprarily) the relocation of the temple. But he said the state government is looking for more suitable sites to relocate the temple.

The Star story is HERE

Friday, September 04, 2009

A Year Ago Today

Today is the first anniversary of Bapak's passing. He breathed his last after Asar on September 4, 2008. The day fell on a Thursday and the fourth day of Ramadan. (Alhamdulillah)


Indonesia Demands RM800 A Month For Their Maids

When Indonesian and Malaysian ministers sit down at a bilateral meeting Saturday (Sept 5), an issue they will be discussing is Indonesian maids. More specifically, their salary.

According to Indonesian media reports, Indonesia will demand a minimum monthly salary of RM800 for its domestic helpers.

Kompas online quoted remarks made by Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia Da’i Bachtiar during a breaking of fast with some 400 Indonesian migrant workers at his office in Kuala Lumpur Thursday.

He said maids received RM400-500 per month, but since March 2009, their wages had been raised to RM600 per month under an extended employment period.

Any Malaysian employer wishing to have their domestic helpers’ employment extended for another year or two, will be obliged to pay their domestic helpers at least RM600 a month.

"Otherwise we will not extend their work contracts," the one-time Indonesian chief of police was quoted to have said.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tuesdays With Bapak

Why is it that we become reflective of certain events, and people long gone, during Ramadan?

I remember when I was younger, and Kak Piah, Kak Ton, Abang Med or Kak Olin was abroad, Mak would say at the start of Ramadan : "Dah setahun kakak awak (or abang) di Canberra (or Sydney, Ohio or London)".

Ramadan would always be the time when Mak would make that point. It was her way of saying it out loud, that she missed her children and Ramadan gave her that perfect excuse and timing to do so. And that it was okay for her to display a little bit of emotion.

After Mak passed away, we'd feel it the first day of Ramadan, that she was gone "for a year". We'd start reflecting and reminiscing about Mak and what she would usually be doing during Ramadan.

"Eh...baru puasa lepas Mak ada, ya?" we'd reflect. Oh, we'd always do a great job of reminiscing.

It was the same with Kak Piah and Kak Eda. The first Ramadan without them brought that tinge of sadness and loss.

This time last year, Ramadan arrived as Bapak lay gravely ill.

He was admitted to the Pantai Hospital's ICU the week before Ramadan.

It seems like yesterday that we were going through the roller-coaster of those 12 days at the hospital, waiting anxiously to see signs that Bapak would make it through.

He died on the fourth day of the blessed month.

The sadness, the grief and the hollowness have not quite gone away. They remain fresh. Busy work schedules are a distraction. A panacea, even.

This time last year, I was doing my own thing. Thankfully. As I was able to be at the hospital when I was needed or when I needed to be.

Memories of Bapak's last days are crystal clear. I've learnt to store them somewhere deep inside. There are times, as I indulge in a little reverie, I play them, like a film but where I could pick the scenes at will.

I don't know why I want to remember those moments. Perhaps, to remind me that he is no more. That he is gone. Or, simply to remember.

Throughout our time at the hospital, our buka puasa was either in one of the guest rooms at the ICU, or at the cafeteria.

Because he died during Ramadan, we spent "buka puasa" together (in our section 16 family home where our youngest sibling, Nina, now lives with her family)), opting not to accept invitations outside.

Aidilfitri celebration was subdued. Friends and relatives visited during the first two weeks of Raya but we did not hold the customary open house for Bapak's close friends.

Bapak's final days were not all that I remember, of course.

Now that Bapak's gone, memories of our Ramadan childhood come flooding back.

Those days, there were no neighbourhood "pasar Ramadan". The only "real" one was in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur.

Weekdays, Mak would make her signature kuih kosui, ondeh-ondeh or kuih lopis. Mak would also prepare Bapak's (and of course, our) favourite dishes -- bamia, soto ayam, laksa johor, mee siam or mee rebus as a special dish (in addition to rice and other dishes) -- spread throughout Ramadan.

Bapak never bought dishes for buka puasa. He'd buy certain kuih, and only on weekends.

That's when we'd accompany him on that long drive to Kampung Baru. Something we'd always look forward to every Ramadan.

Pasar ramadan in Kampung Baru was not as massive as it is now. It was manageable then (in the 70s). We could find a very decent parking space not too far from the rows of stalls.

We'd start from the first stall and make our way to the end. We would drool just looking at the delicious and delectable kuih. Bapak was a load of fun. He'd tell us that we could buy anything we wanted but when we made our pick, he'd playfully discourage us, saying that the kuih did not look nice, the colour's too bright yada yada yada. He'd end up buying what he liked. Which was actually a good thing because we'd end up with a delicious fare. Which were always the same kuih-muih.

The visits to Kampung Baru stopped after Bapak was detained (under the ISA)
By the time he was released (some five years later), the Kampung Baru appeal was no longer there for him, nor for us. Besides, it was also when pasar ramadan began mushrooming in local neighbourhoods which was a good thing although it took a while for these "pasars" to be like Kampung Baru's.

The ones in Section 14, and then Section 16 (Petaling Jaya) became his regular Ramadan bazaar.
Then, it was our turn to take Bapak to these places.

Later on, old age forced Bapak to remain very much indoors.

It's a Ramadan ago that Bapak was with us. And left us. (Al Fatihah).

How time flies. Ever so quickly.

But Ramadan will be Ramadan as we celebrate its glory and blessings with the ones we have and are with us.

And it is always during Ramadan that we feel the most that sense of loss of our loved ones who have left us. Al Fatihah.

But we will always remember them...Amin.

Selamat Berpuasa!