Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kuala Lumpur Is A Rude City....

In fact, KL is third from the bottom in a list of 36 cities in the world, according to a survey by New York-based magazine Reader's Digest.  We beat Mumbai (right at the bottom) and Bucharest.

The most courteous is New York, followed by Zurich and Toronto.

The magazine said it was not a scientific survey. Researchers were sent to the cities where they tested people on 3 things:

• whether people in front of them would hold the door open for them as they walked into public buildings 20 times. 

• whether sales assistants said thank you after they'd bought small items from 20 stor.

•  whether anyone would help pick up papers they'd dropped from a folder in 20 busy locations.

Are the findings fair? Some people may think not. I mean you may not say New York and courteousness in the same breath. Then again, we're being too presumptuous. People are courteous in New York. They are not rude. they do have the time to hold the door for you, help you with all the papers that you've dropped on the street, and say thank you. 

No need to really wonder. The first thing you'd notice when you land on American soil is their greetings of "how're you doing?" and "have a nice day". Yes, even after 9/11. It's ingrained in them.
Never mind whether they mean it or not, or sincere about it. As long as they're not rude.

I don't know whether I'd use the same criteria to gauge rudeness or courteousness.

If you read the conclusion of the study, you'll see that the more prosperous the city, the more courteous the people.

I have my own conclusion of Kuala Lumpur's ranking. The Reader's Digest researchers did not bump into people true KLites.

Could it be because of THIS?

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Downside of Removing Car Taxes

This article by SM Nasarudin SM Nasimuddin was published in the New Sunday Times on July 29, 2012.


THE Malaysian automotive market's recovery continued last month with a year-on-year 35 per cent increase in volume to 50,067 units. June was the second straight month of growth in the industry, which had been in decline for the first four months of the year.
More importantly, the total industry volume (TIV) for the first half was 1.35 per cent higher than the corresponding period last year. A big factor in the higher volume in May has been the resumption of production at Thailand's automotive plants which were affected by the devastating floods last year.
Thailand's auto industry revival, which follows Japan's post-tsunami recovery in the industry, has been contributing positively to the global automotive market. Several reports noted that global auto sales last month reached 41.5 million units, up 5.9 per cent from the same period a year earlier. Toyota Motor Corp has also reclaimed its position as the world's largest car maker.
Back home, of late, there has been plenty of debate on approved permits and the reduction of taxes for cars. While much of this debate has taken a political tone, one thing cannot be denied: car prices in Malaysia are higher than many other countries as a result of the high taxes.
Naza Group has benefited from affirmative action policies put in place by the government through its New Economic Policy. With the support from the government, Naza now employs about 4,000 people directly, and double that figure indirectly through vendors. In terms of manpower management, our academy in Gurun, Kedah, trains staff in technical and management courses. We have been improving corporate governance to ensure transparency. Key performance indicators have been set so we can measure and improve our performance in all areas.
In the course of expanding over the years, we have come in contact with several auto makers from Europe, North America and South Korea. We've learnt from the best practices of our principals, applying these to the Malaysian market successfully and they are now encouraging us to enter into markets which are underserved. It's encouraging to look back and see how we've progressed from being an auto trader to the franchisee of several brands, to a manufacturer and exporter.
More than 35,000 lives are directly affected by what we do. We contribute to consumer spending, business investment in the country and the automotive trade balance through exports. All these are factors which affect the country's gross domestic product. We can't run away from the fact that people have abused the system, but it would not be accurate to say that the system failed in the case of legitimate businesses which resulted in job creation, domestic business investment and exports.
It is true that lower car prices would increase the disposable incomes of car owners and lower their debts. Higher disposable incomes would increase private consumption, which in turn would boost the gross domestic product.
Unfortunately, one key point that seems to be missing in the debate is the effects an immediate, outright removal of car taxes would have on resale values.
Here's an example: consumer A purchases a car for RM80,000 with 90 per cent (RM72,000) of the payment made through a hire purchase loan. A month later, taxes on all cars are reduced and that same car is now priced at RM50,000. As a result, the resale value of the car has plummeted but the amount owed to the bank remains the same. As such, should A decide to sell his car and buy a new car, he would still have to fork out an extra RM22,000 to pay off his debt. He would most likely put off selling his car.
This scenario transpired the last time car taxes were reduced in 2006. As a consequence of the lower taxes, the used car market tanked and brought down the sale of new vehicles. The TIV in 2006 fell 11 per cent to 490,768 units. In 2007, it contracted by a further 0.7 per cent to 487,176 units.
It took two years for the market to correct itself. It is important to note that this was the effect of a minor reduction in car taxes. Imagine what the effects would be if there is an immediate, outright removal of car taxes.
Many say that the biggest losers in 2006 and 2007 were the automotive companies but I believe the real losers were the consumers, many of whom inevitably had to come up with extra cash to pay off their loans to sell their cars. Ultimately, while a debate on reducing car taxes is much welcomed, there are a lot of questions that need to be addressed and the consequences of such measures must be taken into consideration so as not to hurt Malaysian consumers.

(SM Nasarudin is Naza Group of Companies joint executive chairman.)

Monday, July 23, 2012

RM180million For Indian Entrepreneurs

Okay. So people will say that this is an election bribe. So what. You can call it whatever. Bagi bising, tak bagi bising.

MIC chief G. Palanivel will be managing this special government allocation.

Let bygones be bygones so I shan't go into MIC's failure in helping the Indian community..
Palanivel, as MIC chief is supposed to open a new book for the MIC and the Indian community in Malaysia.
This special allocation for Indian entrepreneurs is the latest of a slew of funds and allocations for the community.

I'm all for that. Let's hope Palanivel manages it well and, as he has said, "to ensure that genuine and deserving Indian entrepreneurs have access to finance to grow their business."

Saturday, July 21, 2012

High Tech Toilets In The City

I haven't used any of these high-tech toilets that the Kuala Lumpur City Hall installed in some parts of the city, in particular along the streets.

It seems these toilets are under-used because people just don't know how to use them or are daunted by the fancy-schmancy look.

What a waste of money! Good intentions but if people don't use them, what's the point.

I'm not surprised if people feel a little scared going into these cubicles.
Did City Hall carry a survey or study before installing these toilets? These are new things the people have got to get used to. The should be "educated" on how to use these things.

Read the story here:

AUTOMATIC Street Toilets (ATS), which are set up in populous areas, are under-used because they're considered too high-tech by city folk and tourists alike.
City Hall director-general Datuk Salleh Yusup said the council will intensify the promotion of the toilets to get more people to use these facilities.

"The one in Bukit Bintang, for example, which is a high density area, has a low usage rate.

"It is frustrating to learn that people are not using the toilets because one can use it for 15 minutes for only 20 sen. "I think people are afraid of the high-tech features of the toilet.

"We intend to change their thinking so that more will  use the toilets," he said.

Salleh said this after launching a one-day Cleanliness and Toilet Safety seminar at Menara DBKL 1 in Jalan Raja Laut recently.

"Cleanliness not only mirrors a  person's attitude, but also that of the   society. We are always working towards achieving better cleanliness in public areas, including our public toilets.

"Clean toilets in shopping complexes, restaurants, hotels and petrol stations will definitely  draw people back to these places."

"We want local and foreign tourists to not only take home fond memories of our tourist attractions such as the Petronas Twin Towers, but also sing praises of our clean toilets," said Salleh.
There are 20 units of ATS, which are disabled-friendly, in various parts of the city such as Jalan Conlay, Jalan Medan Pasar, Taman Tasik Titiwangsa, Jalan Pudu and Bangsar.

In an ATS, there are two cubicles with one squatting toilet and  the other a modern water closet.   

State-of-the-art sensors automatically trigger water, soap and the hand-dryer upon use.

The sensors also activate  flushing  after  use,  while the toilet seats are  automatically cleaned as well.

A buzzer will ring a minute before the 15 minutes  are up, and   the user is required to slot in another 20 sen if he or she wants to continue using the toilet.  

In the seminar, participants were told that a toilet monitoring committee will be formed by City Hall to help owners and managers of premises learn how to keep their toilets clean.

The committee, to be led by the council's Health and Environment Department, will also be made up of officers from various other departments such as Landscape and Recreation, Building Maintenance, Building Management and Urban Design.

City Hall Health and Environment Department director Dr Hayati Abdullah said in its pilot exercise, the committee will monitor the level of cleanliness and suggest ways to upgrade the toilets at three high density areas.

"The areas are Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Jalan Bukit Bintang and Bangsar Baru. We will look into the toilets in a holistic manner, from  its design and safety to its fixtures.

"Through this, we hope to reduce complaints  about unsatisfactory conditions of toilets and thus improve our image," she said, adding that the number of areas to be monitored will be expanded after the pilot exercise.

The committee will come into effect before October when City Hall's annual Clean Toilets Competition is organised.

The seminar was attended by 400 participants comprising  representatives from restaurants and hawker centres, Alam Flora, the Federal Territories Restaurant and Hawkers Association, and the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation.

Among the topics discussed were universal designs for disabled-friendly toilets, and the role of non-governmental organisations in clean toilet campaigns.

Also present at the launch of the seminar was City Hall deputy director-general (socio-economy development) Datuk Amin Nordin Abd Aziz.

(source: NST Streets)

Hishammuddin Forms Team to Fight Crime Against Women and Children

 The family of 12-year-old Dutch boy Nayati Moodliar, who was kidnapped in June, has been roped in to fight crime.
His father, Shamelin, will be part of a special team under the Home Ministry to give his input on violence against women and children.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the team will comprise non-governmental organisations (NGO), bloggers and other interested parties.
"Anyone who feel they can contribute no matter how big or small are also welcomed to this team," he told a press conference here on Saturday.
He had earlier chaired a meeting with the various police chiefs in Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya at the Dang Wangi district police headquarters.
Nayati was on his way to Mont Kiara International school near his home on April 27 when he was abducted by two men in a black car.
He was released at the Sungai Buloh rest and recreation area on May 3.
Three men have been charged for the abduction.
(source: The Star)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ya Ramadhan....

Saya mengucapkan Selamat Berpuasa...

Have a glorious and blessed Ramadhan, everyone!

(jangan lupa bangun sahur.....)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bukit Kiara To Remain Green Lung

Well..that was what they all said back in the mid 90s. Not all of us have short memory, That was when residents in Taman Tun Dr Ismail fought to retain and preserve Bukit Kiara as a green lung reserve. These residents were fighting powerful developers and the Kuala Lumpur City Hall.

And that was something I could not understand -- fighting City Hall to preserve the environment,.
And I still cannot understand.

It was not an easy battle. There will be more, I am sure.

And that is why I hate most developers and am always suspicious and mistrusting of local councils.

It's all about the money. Greed.

Here's the latest on Bukit Kiara in The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Clearing works being done at the Bukit Kiara public park in Kuala Lumpur are to ensure it stays a green lung reserve.
Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung said the national landscape agency was building a perimeter fencing to protect the park from illegal encroachment.
“They have to clear a path to bring the equipment and material for the fencing and that is why we can see some activities going on there,” he said at a press conference after visiting The Star Property Fair 2012 here yesterday.

Chor was accompanied by Star Publications (M) Bhd chief executive officer and managing director Ho Kay Tat and executive director Tan Sri Kamal Hashim.
Bukit Kiara Park is very popular with residents of Taman Tun Dr Ismail and Desa Hartamas, and each day hundreds of people walk up and down the hill for exercise amidst a lush forest.
Residents had expressed concern that the clearing works were a prelude to commercial development.
Expressing his appreciation to The Star for highlighting the matter, Chor assured the public that the Bukit Kiara park area, covering some 189ha, will be maintained as a green lung.
To stress the point, Chor said the Government wanted Measat to move its satellite equipment out of the park and had offered the company a new location.
Once that is done, the area will be fully maintained as a public park and more will be done to enrich the flora and fauna, he said.
“Once they move out, we can then gazette the green lung as a public park to be called Big Scale Public Park,” he said.
On the invitation to join the Save Bukit Kiara Walk tomorrow, Chor said he was unable to attend but would be happy to receive the memorandum from the residents.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Keeping Safe Is Everyone's Concern And Responsibility...

We're all so spooked now with new cases of snatch thefts and daylight robberies happening in places we had always thought to be safe - where we do our shopping and bring our families.

In the recent spate of cases, the victims were all women.

It's not just that these things have been happening far too often, but the way the crimes were committed -- vicious.

The level of violence that accompanied the crime is frightening -- in most cases the victims were either attacked viciously and later died, or left for dead.

 In a couple of cases, the victims escaped. In one, she survived a vicious attack.

So what do we do? We've got lots of advice from so many "experts".

Take martial arts, carry with you pepper spray, make sure you have your keys out before you enter your car, look around before you enter the parking area of the mall, shopping centre etc, make sure you don't park near a van.

In short, always be alert and stay safe.

Frankly, women have always been alert and always try to stay safe, in their car, in their home, in the mall.

But criminals commit their acts anywhere and everywhere to a point that we have been made to believe that "nowhere is safe" not even in our own homes.

That is a terrifying thought.  We feel that we are under siege.

A high-ranking police officer recently - in the wake of attacks in mall - advised women not to park their cars in dark places. 

"Stay away from dark areas" was his advice. 

Now, I'd like to tell him that women for a very long time now have been doing that. We stay away from dark and dangerous places.

In all those reported cases in the mall, the women were attacked in brightly-lit areas. 

Anyway, most everyone I talked to has a story to tell. A grim, gruesome story.

 I'd just like to share with you a column I wrote in the New Straits Times that was published on Saturday, June 16 2012.


SOMETIME in 1982, I was robbed and abducted in my own car at gunpoint by a man, somewhere in my neighbourhood of Section 16, Petaling Jaya.

Fortunately, I was unharmed only because the perpetrator just wanted my purse containing cash, and to get the hell out of the area. He dumped me, unwittingly, near my house.

 I was relieved but still shaken by the ordeal. The following day, the police found my grey Mazda 323 in a light industrial area near Section 13, Petaling Jaya, minus my work jacket and my Olivetti typewriter -- both items essential for my Parliament assignment. It was a crime waiting to happen in what was otherwise a safe neighbourhood.

The abduction (newspapers screamed "Reporter Abducted") took place about 9pm in front of a row of shops. The parking area was dimly lit but that never frightened me because there were always people around. That particular evening, though, it was quite desolate.

Since that episode, I decided to psyche myself at all levels. I consulted experts and read tonnes of material on crime prevention and on what you should do when you fall victim to robbery or sexual assault.
The advent of the phenomenal cell phone changed the way we live our lives. It was a useful tool. That telephone number of my neighbourhood police station has been stored in my cell phone since. Well, thank God for cell phones.

In a changing world, we continue to be confronted with new sets of problems. So my eagerness and interest never waned. When I posted on my Facebook a news item about 25-year-old Chin Xin Ci who was abducted by two men at the car park of the Curve Shopping Centre but fought them off and escaped, someone asked "can't the police do something about this?".

She was putting her shopping bags onto the rear seat of her car when one of the attackers slammed the door on her.

I understand the commenter's concern but the police cannot be at car parks of shopping complexes all the time. The police after all cannot be everywhere although that would be so ideal.
Ensuring a safe and secure environment is the job of the management of these establishments.

Kerana Politik, Bang....

 Kota Baru - Seorang warga tua Yahaya Ibrahim, 78, menafikan menceraikan isterinya disebabkan perbezaan fahaman politik.

Beliau  sebaliknya mendakwa, menceraikan  Che Hasnah Che Ahmad, 61, seorang guru agama, kerana bekas isteri nya telah sesat akibat tidak mengamalkan ajaran Islam.

Yahaya bagaimanapun berhasrat untuk rujuk tetapi dengan syarat wanita itu mesti kembali kepada ajaran Islam.

"Cerai bukan sebab politik tapi dia sudah sesat. Ia bukan setakat solat lima waktu tetapi banyak aspek yang menyesatkan.

"Saya cerai sebab dia tidak ikut cara Islam seperti ajaran Nabi Muhammad SAW, seperti yang dikehendaki oleh Allah," katanya di sini hari ini.

Ketika diajukan soalan apakah yang dilakukan oleh bekas isterinya itu yang bercanggah dengan ajaran Islam, Yahaya bagaimanapun enggan mengulas.

Che Hasnah pula telah menafikan sekeras2nya tuduhan bekas suami beliau.

 "Saya seorang guru agama, mengajar al-Quran dan saya mengerjakan solat. Semua ajaran agama Islam saya lakukan kecuali satu perkara sahaja iaitu tidak menyertai parti Pas".
Beliau terkejut dan sedih dengan tuduhan bekas suaminya.

Menurut Che Hasnah, selama 14 tahun mereka hidup bersama, suaminya tidak pernah langsung menegur amalan agamanya, sebaliknya tuduhan itu hanya timbul ketika hendak diceraikan.

Katanya, mereka juga tidak pernah bertengkar dalam perkara lain kecuali bersangkut-paut dengan Pas dan masa itu suaminya cuba mematahkan apa sahaja hujahnya.

"Tidak pernah bergaduh langsung. Kalau bertengkar pun sebab politik, itu pun kerana dia suka sangat 'berceramah', jadi saya pun bagilah pendapat.

"Tetapi dia tidak pernah terima pendapat saya. Dia mahu kita sahaja terima apa pun diperkatakannya," kata Che Hasnah yang mengajar al-Quran kepada lebih 100 murid di rumahnya di Kampung Chabang Tiga, Chetok, Pasir Mas setiap hari.

Sementara itu, ketika diberitahu mengenai hasrat bekas suaminya yang mahu rujuk jika dia kembali kepada ajaran Islam, Che Hasnah menolak kerana hatinya sudah tawar.

"Saya tak nak kalau dia rujuk sebab lebih senang tinggal seorang diri daripada asyik bertengkar pasal parti, kecualilah jika dia tidak lagi memaksa saya menyokong Pas.

"Tidak payahlah paksa saya. Kalau tidak paksa tidak apa, saya boleh terima. Tetapi bila paksa memang saya sudah tutup, biarlah saya hidup sendirian," katanya.

(sumber: Utusan Malaysia)

Hello Suaram ....

Here's the who's who in Suaram  in case you didn't know.

A couple of them I know personally.

Of the 16 members, nine are politicians (exco members) from PKR, PSM and DAP. The remaining eight are not but are known to be pro-opposition.

That's ok if that's what Suaram is and wants to be. It's a free country.
But don't call yourself or claim to be anything else but....

And don't you mind what others call you..

Monday, July 09, 2012

Passing Of An Icon - Al Fatehah Azah Aziz (1928-2012)

One by one they leave us.

Azah Aziz, cultural expert, cultural icon or activist as some have called her, -  passed away today. She was 84.

She was wife of Royal Professor Ungku Aziz and mother of Bank Negara Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz.

Bernama, quoting a  close family member, said she passed away due to old age and a stroke at about 10am
Her remains were buried at the Bukit Kiara Muslim cemetery, here, after Asar prayers.
Among those present at the funeral were former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, Azah's family members and close friends.
Earlier, Azah's remains were taken to Masjid Saidina Abu Bakar As-Sidiq in Bangsar for prayers. 

We, now the older journalists, remember her simply as Kak Azah because that was how she wanted us to call her.

Those days when we were young journalists, Kak Azah was a household name. Still is, though I'm not too sure if young Malaysians know her.

I was a little girl when I first met her  (sometime in the early 60s) at the Straits Times office at Pudu Road. There were times Bapak would take us to his office. Among those we'd meet was Kak Azah, though I don't remember calling her by any name. She was just this nice beautiful lady at the Straits Times office.

 She'd often "tegur" us.. She'd also ask about Mak, stuff like that. I remember she was always in a baju kurung.

I remember later on, Bapak and Mak would take us Hari Raya visiting  to her house - (with Ungku Aziz and Zeti) - near the EPF building (I think) in Petaling Jaya.

Kak Azah was also a journalist for some 20 years during which she was president of the Women Journalists Association of Malaysia (Pertama).

After retiring from journalism, she devoted her time to promoting Malay culture, tradition and heritage.

When I began my journalism career, I got to meet her quite often  during "cultural" assignments.

She would be invited to talk about Malay tradition and culture, in particular Malay traditional costumes. Indeed, no one was more passionate about the promotion  Malay traditional wear than Kak Azah.

 An excerpt in The Star report on the publication of her book "Rupa & Gaya: Busana Melayu", in 2006:

"Over the years, Kak Azah (as the niece of Dato’ Onn Jaafar, founding father of Umno is addressed by friends) has travelled throughout Malaysia and the region. In the process, she has amassed one of the best private collections of Malay world fabrics and costumes, rivalling those kept in the country’s best museums.
A lifetime spent collecting these textiles and garments has given Kak Azah a deep insight into the world of Malay culture.

Kak Azah  had also written many other books that touch on the essence of Malay traditions. Among them are "Adik Comel", "Adik Sayang", "Ibu", "Keluarga Kita", "O'Bangau dan Burung Kenek Kenek", " Kenangan Budi", "Pantun-Pantun Melayu "and "Taman Seni".

An excerpt from the Sunday Mail (2004):
 "In 1949, Azah started her first job at the Social Welfare Department in Johor Baru, as a Field Officer, before she moved to Singapore to follow her husband, who was assigned as a lecturer at University Malaya. It was here Azah took up a secretarial job at the Malay Studies Department.
   While working at the university, Azah developed an interest in writing and literature. Her exposure to Malay literature came purely by chance when she worked with Za'aba, the famous Malay scholar.
   It was during this period of self-education that she began to develop her life-long passion for traditional costumes and jewellery.
  Later, Azah became the secretary to the New Straits Times Editor-in- Chief, Leslie Hoffman. He introduced journalism to Azah, to which she dedicated more than two decades of her career. Azah headed the Woman's column in Berita Harian, which was formerly headed by her mother.
    Her experience in journalism enriched her life. In 1973, Azah joined Utusan Melayu as editor and later, became a consultant to a women's magazine.

 Azah left her journalistic career to pursue her passion for Malay culture and traditions. She serves on several government advisory councils, such as the Malaysian Handicraft Development Board and the National Film Development Board. She was also a board member of the Tun Abdul Razak Foundation.
   In 1992, she was awarded Tokoh Wanita Johor and on August 1, 1994, Azah was chosen as Karyawan by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. In October of the same year, Azah was one of the five women bestowed the AVON - Tan Sri Fatimah 1994 Women of Distinction Award.
    In May 2001, public relations consultancy, Prestige Communications Sdn Bhd, appointed Azah as its chairman."

Kak Azah had been somewhat low profile in the last few years. I understand that in the last few months, she had not been well.

We have lost an icon. A treasure.

Rest In Peace. Al Fatehah!