Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bridge Tragedy: 22 Children Feared Perished

This is really so sad. I feel so sad.

And angry...

How could this have happened?

My prayers for them all.....

UPDATE - Thursday Oct 29 2009

The bodies of the 2 missing girls have been found.
M. Devatharshini’s body was found by a search and rescue team from Rela at about 11.30pm on Wednesday (Oct 28) , the body of V. Divyashree, 12, was recovered at about 9.25am the following day (Oct 29) by a team from the army.

My heartfelt condolences to the families of the three children who perished in the tragedy.


19 alive, one died and 2 missing.

Please God...let them be ok.


Twenty two pupils, aged between 10 and 12, were believed to have drowned after they were swept away by strong currents when they fell into the Kampar river in Perak (Monday) last night. As of 5am this morning, none of them have been found.

They were among 298 other pupils who were part of a four-day motivational programme comprising 60 schools from the Kinta Selatan district.

The children were in the midst of crossing a 30m hanging bridge, to get across Sungai Kampar, when the bridge suddenly collapsed.

Thirty of the pupils were crossing the bridge when it gave way and 22 of them plunged into the river, while the rest managed to escape to safety.

Continue reading here...

MCA Farce

My very dear friend, Kee Thuan Chye -- whom I have known since God-knows-when -- texted me this morning, reminding me to read his commentary in The Sun today about the crisis in the MCA.

I think I should reproduce it here -- without his permission. Thanks, TC....and hope you don't mind.

No cheers for Farce of the Year
Kee Thuan Chye

SURE, "politics is the art of the possible" – especially if it involves politicians who can change their tune overnight. That’s why it has been possible for Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek to suddenly become friends again after a year of fierce animosity between them.

The art of the possible also works with politicians who can forget about scruples and put on a show. Nothing exhibits this more clearly than the outwardly awkward reconciliation between these enemies last Thursday. For added value, the would-be usurper of the presidency, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, was also dragged into the act, a seemingly reluctant performer at that. So too was Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha, who had until now kept a dignified low profile.

It was a show that could easily have given the Goons of that famous British TV comedy a run for their asininity. I laughed so much, I had to call it the Most Laughable Farce of the Year, and nominate Ong, Chua and the supporting players for Best Comic Ensemble.

Who in their right mind would give much credence to this quick-glue patch-up that is aimed at reunifying the MCA? From reports, Ong had to leave the press conference room for 10 minutes to bring Liow and Kong in. Scriptwriters would have their imagination fired up by what transpired in those 10 minutes. They would be wondering, too, about what might be simmering behind those counterfeit smiles flashed for the media cameras. The tears of a clown? The resentment of facing a checkmate?

Scriptwriters would also be wondering if there was an unseen hand behind this sudden volte-face on the part of Ong and Chua since both have said that the prime minister gave them his blessing to get back together. Was this an example of deus ex machina, a la Aristotle? Who is the deus ("god" in Latin)? Are these four men in actuality wayang kulit characters putting on a show at the command of their puppet-master?

Sorry, I got carried away with the dramatic possibilities. I actually meant to ask: Where is the concern for integrity in this latest episode of the MCA saga? At what level is the moral quotient of these men who purport to lead the MCA? How is the MCA going to be credible in the eyes of the Chinese community – let’s not even consider the wider Malaysian public – when what its leaders have done must force us to suspend our disbelief?

Besides, how workable is this hasty marriage of inconvenience between Ong and Chua likely to be?


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Trouble In Paradise...

I meant -- Crisis in Pas.

Pas mursyidul am Nik Aziz Nik Mat has suggested that a special/extraordinary general meeting be held to "have a new mandate" for the party leadership.

The Tok Guru is basically unhappy with party president Abdul Hadi Awang and his deputy Nasharuddin Mat Isa as well Dr Hasan Ali and Mustafa Ali, for cavorting with Umno -- that very sinful party.

He wrote in his blog www.tokgurublog.com on the need for a such a meeting just like Umno and MCA had to resolve issues that needed to be decided, once and for all.

You sense his quiet desperation at the goings-on, and the shenanigans of Hadi and his circle of supporters in holding clandestine meetings with Umno sinners.

Hadi and gang are pro-Umno, to put it plainly. While Husam Musa is part of the Erdogan group who are pro-Anwar Ibrahim.

The Tok Guru was not amused, to put it mildly, when he got wind of the sinister "unity" talks between the Hadi team, and Umno leaders.

The Tok Guru considers them - Hadi and gang -- problematic leaders and thorns in the Pas' flesh, who will lead the party astray.

Some people say the Tok Guru himself is faced with opposition within Kelantan Pas, who want him to retire after 19 years as Kelantan menteri besar.

Nik Aziz said, in his blog, that there is a strong need for a change of the major players in the Pas leadership.

This can be a preparation for the next general election, he remarked.

" We must take steps similar to Umno and MCA to settle their internal problems. Our issue is with two or three problematic leaders."

Here's an excerpt from his posting:

"Tidak boleh jadi ni, kita duk “ghok-ghak” (kacau) begini. Orang boleh terima atau tak boleh terima, bawa ke Muktamar Khaslah; senang cerita.

Biar tentu sah, nak ikut yang mana. Kita nak kekal yang mana dan buang yang mana.

Dengan Muktamar Khas yang boleh menjelaskan dan memutuskan banyak perkara ini, puak-puak atas pagar yang membuat swing votes dan mempengaruhi keputusan pilihanraya juga akan berpuas hati samada nak swing atau tak nak swing lagi kerana mereka sudah dijelaskan oleh keputusan Muktamar Khas berkenaan.

Mereka jelas. Biarlah kita ambil mandat baru sekali lagi. Mesyuarat biar ringkas;ambil sehari penuh atau dua hari penuh misalnya tetapi prosesnya mesti ringkas, dan keputusannya adil, telus, tepat, terus dan jelas. Undi perlulah sulit dan dilakukan di atas kertas .

Untuk kali ini, saya dengan kuat merasakan bahawa perlu ada perubahan dalam pemain-pemain penting yang menduduki kerusi kepimpinan PAS diperingkat pusat. Kalau nak kata ini persiapan ke arah PRU ke 13 pun, kata gi lah. Dan memang betul begitulah.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The 2010 Budget Speech

A lot of good and great things in the budget.

If you missed any part of it....the PM's speech will be carried in full in all the newspapers (mainstream) and also online.

Like I said... (of course, you are welcome to disagree), a lot of good and great things, especially allocations for the urban poor.

Well....just don't screw up. We know how, in the past (and possibly present time) corrupt government officers screwed up allocations for low-cost housing, -- big time! Not on!

So...don't screw up!

Of Non-performing, Corrupt Civil Servants..

The Auditor-General's report, I can tell you, never fails to reveal all the misuse and abuse of public funds, the inefficiency and ineptness of administration and management, in the various government agencies and departments.

Year in, year out -- it is the same thing. It is unbelievable that the same things are being revealed, exposed, year in, year out.

Almost 30 years ago, as a rookie (reporter) at the NST, I was given an assignment -- which was to work on the AG's report.

I read with shock, all the misuses, abuses...yada yada yada..

You'd think that over the years, the report will give us pleasant surprises.

Well, nope. Same old same old. Like it's copy-pasting with variations and adjustments.

Of course, the AG report highlights all the wrong in government service and administration. So, it should not be misconstrued that all is not well in government management and administration.
There has been vast improvement in public service, that's without a doubt.

Still, reports of a serious lack of accountability, transparency and responsibility in the management of funds in our country's public and government-linked agencies, are shocking.
It is unacceptable that in this day and age, these negative elements in public service still exist.
Haven't we move on, move ahead?
No.. I don't mean to bigger misuse and abuse!

Will it be better, next year? (I dare ask)

The 21st century, and we're still having the same old problems in these agencies.

Say what? performance first?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

MCA Crisis -- Come Together...

MCA president Ong Tee Keat had met with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to brief him on the party crisis.

I have no details of their meeting but I imagine Najib must have asked Ong to get his and the MCA's act together and resolve the crisis, OR ELSE.

Unity, a unified MCA -- seem to be the buzzwords in Ong's and (former deputy president) Dr Chua Soi Lek's plan to resolve all issues confronting the party's leadership.

Ong called for a press conference at Wisma MCA in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon.

MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and his former deputy Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek have agreed to work together as a team to unite the party.

At a press conference, Dr Chua said he would work with Ong without any pre-conditions.

This "coming together" is in urgent response to members' fed-upness with the leaders. How many more EGMs just to resolve this?

Members have sent strong signals that they want the crisis resolved or...
They want some assurance from the party leadership of real effort to resolve the crisis that is not doing any good to the party, or the Chinese community.

So, this (Ong-Chua coming together) is going to be the real deal....

Ong said at the press conference:

“I will reach out to all leaders and strive to form an all-inclusive MCA that will include all factions and personalities who can contribute as a team.

“With a unified MCA, the leaders can now re-focus their attention on strengthening the party to regain the confidence and trust of the Chinese community and Malaysians in general,” he said.

To be updated...

Meanwhile read this.

and Ti Lian Ker's Come 2gether MCA Leaders!


MCA has a lot of work to do to convince its members and the Chinese community that, yes...this is the real deal, that both Ong, Dr Chua and the party's top leaders are serious about putting aside their differences to chart that road for a unified MCA.

It maybe the real deal, but to whom and for whom?

It goes without saying that members want the crisis to be resolved. The EGM was to have resolved that. That, I'm sure has not escaped anyone's attention.

A lot of work is one thing...but for sure, members want to see sincerity and genuine-ness in this effort.
There has been too much acrimony, bitterness that has caused further divisiveness in an already weakened party. Continuing without any attempt/effort to resolve the crisis, thus to save the party, is at the party's own peril.

Unless, everyone has a short memory, then it will be an easy path ahead. But, look at the delegates who have voted not to have both Ong and Dr Chua in the party. They are going to scrutinize every move the party leaders make.

Some issues are still unresolved -- Dr Chua's application to the ROS for reinstatement as deputy president. Will he now withdraw his application?

So, yes. This coming together, this greater unity plan, this bury the hatchet, this forgive and forget -- is encouraging.

You can tell your members that you're not greedy, not power-hungry, that it's all for the sake of party and the community.

But you know they're not blind, nor are they deaf. They are just waiting to see if this is for real.

So, good luck, I say!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Want A Kindle...

Doesn't everyone else?

It must be one of the most revolutionary inventions of the 21st century. It is something we imagined that the world would, one day, have and Voila! it's been around since 2007 (in the US). This month, a new version of Kindle is made available in Asia.

Super cool, or what!

Someone wrote about it. So, do read this by W Scott Thompson.

I cannot assume everyone knows what Kindle is.

It's an electronic device developed by Amazon.com subsidiary Lab126 for reading e-books and other digital media.

Here's the info from Wiki.

And on Amazaon.Com.

That said, I suppose I have to keep up with the times. Reading books using an electronic device needs getting used to, I'm sure.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Working The Old Brain...

Going by the hours I put in working on my computer/laptop, including surfing the internet for information and suchlike, I'd say my brain is in tip-top functioning condition.

Here's why -- and it's not my own biased opinion.

LOS ANGELES: Web surfing boosts the brain function of middle-aged and seniors with little Internet experience, say scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), according to China's Xinhua news agency.

"We found that, for older people with minimal experience, performing Internet searches for even a relatively short period of time can change brain activity patterns and enhance function," said study author Dr. Gary Small, professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.

Dr Small and his team selected 24 volunteers between the ages of 55 and 78. Half of the participants had Internet experience, while the other half had very little experience.

Continue reading here....

Monday, October 19, 2009

No Beyonce Show This Sunday...

R&B mega artiste Beyonce Knowles’ concert this Sunday ain't happening, folks.

It has now been postponed to a later date. No details yet.

According to a Press release issued by the concert promoter Marctensia Entertainment, a new date for the concert will be announced at a later. Don't know when later, though.

The official press statement by Beyonce’s artiste management company, Music World, will be released later THIS WEEK.

The decision for a postponement, it seems, was made solely by the artiste “and has nothing to do with other external reasons,” (the Press release states).

Those who wish to have their refunds can do so at the Ticket Axcess head office in Petaling Jaya from Oct 26 to Nov 14.

For more details, please contact Axcess (03-7711 5000) or visit www.axcess.com.my


Hmmm...looks like Ms Knowles finally understood what the dress code is about.

Celebrate Malaysia Day!

September 16 will be a public holiday from next year.

That's Malaysia Day.

This was announced by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Read Azmi Anshar's commentary -- "A New Love Story That Has Taken 46 Years to Bloom" in the NST.

What I'd like to know now is whether our brethren in Sabah and Sarawak will now lift those little visit/work restrictions for their saudara-saudara from Semenanjung.

Kalau tidak, mana boleh ......

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Happy Deepavali!

To my Hindu friends and everyone else -- have a glorious Deepavali

Friday, October 16, 2009

Privatising NSTP

MEDIA Prima, Malaysia’s leading media group, plans to privatise The New Straits Times Press through a share swap to create one of the largest media groups in the country.
Media Prima will also raise RM150 million through a bond issue to finance working capital and investments, the company said in a statement today.
The 1-for-1 share exchange comes with one free new warrant for every five offer shares accepted.
Media Prima currently owns 43 per cent of NSTP, Malaysia’s oldest and largest newspaper publisher.
The merged companies are expected to generate over RM1 billion in annual revenue, with net profit exceeding RM140 million. - Reuters

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A "New" Umno -- No Easy Journey Ahead

After this, Umno begins its radical transformation to be more transparent, inclusive and democratic.

Great new beginning. A rough journey. Too many warlords.

No looking back.

With the amendments of the party constitution in place, even the president's position is anyone's for the taking. Okay. Not just anyone, but almost anyone who fulfils a minimum requirement.

The new reformed Umno will be dynamic. Relevant.

No longer arrogant, obsolete, tired.

Now. the hard part.

Convincing the rakyat.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Umno General Assembly -- And Beyond

If all goes well at the Umno general assembly this week, according to the leadership's grand plan -- then it will be a new Umno that emerges.

For sure, the party under Datuk Seri Najib Razak will represent a new era for Umno as it goes through a process of dynamic transformation and reform.

Not just talk. But the real deal.

The Umno general assembly which kicks off with the joint opening of the Wanita, Pemuda and Puteri general meetings this evening, is the second to be held this year.

Last year's assembly was held in March this year because of the postponement of the party elections due to the holding of the 12th general election in march 2008.

Also, during this assembly, a special assembly will be held to debate amendments to the party constitution. If endorsed by the delegates, Umno elections will be more democratic, open and transparent.

The special assembly will decide whether or not to accept the proposal to do away with the quota system in the election of candidates for top party posts.

Thsi will provide a wider spectrum in the choice and selection of candidates -- even for the presidency. But, some conditions are put in place regarding eligibility.

Besides, it is expected to reduce the "warlord-ism" that is so widespread in the party and the reason many Malays are loath to join Umno.

Umno leaders and members are probably on a high -- from the Barisan Nasional's victory in Bagan Pinang over the weekend. Feeling high-er still, must surely be its candidate Isa Samad who can now put the controversy surrounding his candidacy behind him now.

He can now tell his critics to go fly kite.

Whether or not he is a "new inspiration to Umno's struggles", as Najib put is, is something else.

This evening, deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin delivered his keynote address at the joint opening of the Wanita, Pemuda and Puteri assemblies.

He spoke on the importance of being united in thinking, action, intention and objective -- in Umno, for the much-needed and much-desired transformation and reform of the party.

He has given these movements a KPI to boost their membership, in preparation for the next general election.

The top Umno leadership so desire transformation and reform. Change and rejuvenation. The grassroots in the party must want it too.

More than a year have passed since the last general election. Whether or not the tide is changing in favour of Umno, at least, remains to be seen. There are positive signs. But Najib and Muhyiddin cannot go it "alone" on this difficult journey to win back support, massively lost in March 8 last year.

Umno members must give their support too. Umno must change and reform and it must be seen to do so.

If Umno members and grassroots leaders remain apathetic, contented and detached that they abdicate their duty to help strenthen the party, they will only lose one thing -- the next general election.

Monday, October 12, 2009

And the Guy Won -- BIG

Isa Samad helped the Barisan Nasional retain the Bagan Pinang state seat. By a bigger majority, this time.

He defeated PAS’ Zulkefly Mohamad Omar with a majority of 5,435 votes. Isa got 8,013 votes against his opponent's 2,578.

In last year's general election, former BN assemblyman Azman Mohammad Noor obtained a 2,333-vote majority.

Azman's death last month necessitated the by-election.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Everybody Deserves A Second Chance...

We all believe in second chances.

The Prime Minister Najib Razak -- in a nutshell -- feels the same way about former Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Isa Abdul Samad. The guy deserves a second chance because he has paid his dues.

More importantly, the people of Bagan Pinang want him and accept him. He can serve the constituency effectively. He is popular and he can retain the state constituency for the Barisan Nasional.

I hear the rumblings already. That while Isa can help win the by-election, Umno's choice of him as Bagan Pinang candidate will be counterproductive in the run-up to PRU13.

You win the battle but you lose the war.

That's true too. But then again.....

Anyway, do we all really believe in second chances?

Do you?

Paris In Autumn - Hari Raya Open House

Actress Michelle Yeoh and her fiance, Jean Todd.

Engineering students from Normandy : Quah Li Shern, 21,
Tee Yilie, 22 and Wong Kok Choong, 22

Look who's here? Constance Haslam.

Students "mobbed" Mukhriz Mahathir.

Mukhriz arriving at Pavillon Davphine with his wife, Norzieta.

Malaysian students from across France came to Pavillon
Davphine in Paris to listen to what the Prime Minister had to say.

Arlida Abdullah, 23 (engineering), Sharifah Norazihan Syed Yasin, 22
(Telecom Network) and Nurul Nadhirah Abdullah, 23 (electrical engineering).

Aaah...bored Malaysian journalists...

Malaysia's prospective French language teachers : Pamela
Lanyau, 20, Atiqa Saleh, 20, Shakila Zaki, 21 and Ain Izzaty
Alias, 20,

I am always fascinated by people who are fluent in foreign languages. To be able to speak languages other than your own, is quite amazing.

Whenever I meet Malaysian students overseas, in countries where English is not the native language, I feel a sense of pride.

These students are usually majoring in engineering, biotechnology and some science fields.

On Sunday (Oct 4), I attended a gathering of Malaysian students at Pavillon Davphine in Paris. They came from across France -- Nice, Bordeaux, Normandy to name a few -- to meet Prime Minister Najib Razak.

As I entered the premises, I could hear the students chatting away -- in Malay, English and French.

I had a chat with some of them. These kids are smart. It's no picnic learning hard stuff in French.

After a session with the Prime Minister, a 1Malaysia Hari Raya open house was held. The organisers prepared food for some 1,000 people.

And, oh, actress Michelle Yeoh and her fiance Jean Todd, were at the open house. They came to give support to the PM's 1Malaysia.
Of course, she got "mobbed". But she's a good sport. So was Monsieur Todd.

I also met an old friend -- Constance Haslam, formerly of RTM. She's been living in Paris with her husband, for some 9 years.

Paris In Autumn

Rocky texted me: "Anything different about Paris?".

"Like what?" I asked.

"The buildings, the people...the air?"

Hmm...actually I can't tell. Perhaps, more and more Parisians speak English and are not loath to do so.

Parisians and tourists queuing up to get into the Louis Vuitton store.

Great coffee anywhere in Paris...

Are they any friendlier than the last time I was in the city.

Oh. Some things don't change.

But I love the baguette and coffee....

Not the exchange rate, though. The euro is killing me.