Weekly Commentaries on the Happenings in Malaysia (latest at the bottom)

The images you see on top are the reflections of how I feel at times reading on what is happening daily in this country.   

So beginning from 1st November 2011, I will make some commentaries on the happenings in the country. I am quite sure I am going to offend some people, but who the **** cares!! Nobody seems to care anymore. The level of empathy in this country is so alarming, that you would think that people in this country has become zombies!!

And in light of the freedom to speak freely that seems to be prevalent these days, I shall speak (or write in this case), without fear or favour. And I hope everyone will defend my right to speak, as Voltaire said “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Funny thing is he never said those words, but everyone said he did. What Voltaire actually said was “Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too” from Voltaire’s Essay on Tolerance – that certainly doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. The misquote actually comes from a 1907 book called Friends of Voltaire, by Evelyn Beatrice Hall.

     December 2011 Commentaries (click left)

        January 2012 Commentaries (click left)

        February 2012 Commentaries (click left)

        March 2012 Commentaries (click left)

 

November 2011 Commentaries

1st November 2011

This week I am looking at two headlines that appeared last weekend (29th and 30th October 2011) in the Star. One of the topics is probably the favourite of many Malaysians nowadays besides politics, education. However I will start with the one on Saturday.

“Time to trim the fat, Malaysia”

The article starts with, “Malaysians are the fattest in Southeast Asia and the Health Ministry is determined to lose that “honour”. Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid said Malaysia has the highest number of obese citizens in the region.”

Hmmmm, is she referring to someone with an almost similar name, but happen to be the most powerful person in the country?? Women are real bitchy, aren’t they??

But seriously, how not to expect us Malaysians not to be obese (I think I have not reached that level yet), when there are plenty of food around. On top of that we have been conditioned from young that when you see food, eat!!!! Just go to any open house during the festivities, food is never enough for the people attending the open houses, but the leftovers on the plates are enough to feed a small African country!!! Or just go to any Ramadan Buffet at the hotels. How packed it is and one third of the people there are the ones not fasting!!! See how everyone piles the plate with food and then only eat about half of it!!! I am sure if someone is to properly study the eating habits of Malaysians, we will be in the Guinness Book of Records, as the country with the highest amount of leftovers during functions that serve food, in particular open houses!!! Now you know why I rarely go to open houses and almost never go to Ramadan Buffet!!! It’s like the feeding station at the zoo!!!

Anyway back to the subject of obesity, we are being compared to countries in the region, most of which are poorer than us, and Singapore. Common la, Singaporeans are so “kiasu”, that everyone wants to have a perfect body!!! Just go to any of those fitness centres in Singapore after working hours. They are as packed as the Singapore MRT trains!!! And who founded True Fitness (that fitness centre chain that I know some of you are members of)?? A Singaporean!!!! You will never find a fitness centre chain founded by Malaysians. But you will find plenty of food chains founded by Malaysian, not only serving Nasi Kandar, but also Chinese food, and even Western food!! And if those don’t take our fancy, we try to be more “health conscious” by opening a chain that only does bread!!! If one were to add up all these chains, it would not be surprising to find that the total would exceed the McDonalds and KFCs of the world!!!

Let’s face it, we are just a nation of food lovers. We can be moderate in many things, but when it comes to food, the word just doesn’t exist!!!

So, Yang Berhormat, good luck to you in your endevour in trying to reduce 30% of the weight of those classified as obese nationwide.

“DPM: It will be chaotic”

The article starts with “The situation will be kucar-kacir (chaotic) if parents are given the option to decide if they want their children taught in Bahasa Malaysia or English in the learning of Science and Mathematics in school, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said”.

I know this topic is driving many Malaysian parents up the wall. So I am going to drive them up the walls even further!!

I am not a parent, so my views are less bias (I think).

To me the issue is not the language. As someone once mentioned, the Japanese and the Germans do not teach their children in English when it comes to teaching Science or Mathematics. In fact everything in school is in Japanese or German. Yes, Malaysia is multi-cultural, but then so is many countries nowadays. So stop with that argument!

The issue is the education system and the schooling environment that was created by the politicians and to some extent the parents themselves.

You see, I was amongst the second batch when they stopped the English medium and everything was taught in Malay. If they had continued having the English medium schools, I am very sure that my parents would have put me in the English medium schools, because they were both educated in the English medium schools. I started reading the New Straits Times when I was five. Ok la, I only read the cartoons!!! But that was the environment I was in.

But what is even more important is the education system and the schooling environment.

We may claim to be multi-cultural, but nothing is multi-cultural except during open houses!!! And look at the schools, many are dominated by a single culture!!!

I had the advantage of going to a “missionary school”, St. Michael’s in Ipoh (very multi-cultural) and then two years in boarding school (SMSAH in Jenan, Kedah, and 95% Malay) before going to my spiritual “kampong” in England (he he). I used to be able to speak a smattering of Cantonese. Ok la, mainly the bad words!!! But still, the environment in the multi-cultural school gave me a good understanding of every culture and a better appreciation of every culture. This is where nurture wins over nature, in the argument of which is better, nature or nurture.

When I was in St. Michael’s, though the lessons were officially conducted in Malay (a struggle for some teachers as they were trained in the English medium), they did very well, and both languages were used in class. And outside of class we mixed freely with everyone irrespective of race. Do you see that nowadays??? Even though the missionary schools are still around, just go to these schools. You’ll see that the Malay students speaking only Malay and mixing only with the Malays, the Chinese students speaking only Chinese and mixing only with the Chinese and the Indians (the ones that don’t try to be English), speaking only Indians and mixing only with the Indians!! And even sadder, even the teachers are like that!!! So where’s the multi-culturalism????

And stop blaming the fact that the political parties are divided by racial lines. Please remember that the race based political parties were there when English medium schools were around, and produced many of the leaders then from the different races.

Race should never be an issue. And there is no such thing as a Malaysian race. Race is genetic. You are born with it. Nothing you do can change your race. If you are born black you are still a Black-American, and if you are born Asian, you are still an Asian-American. So to those of you who worship the US of A so much, think again!!

It is not what we are born as that matter, but how we treat others!!! And in Malaysia today we treat others based on their races, not based on who they are!!! That’s the real problem!!! And everybody is guilty!!! Not just the government, the political parties but we as Malaysians are at fault!!! We let ourselves be prejudiced!!!

I have more non-Malay friends when I was in school. I did not know what it meant to be a Bumiputra until I went to boarding school, and it baffled me. But at the same time, I also realized that the Malay students are not that dumb after all. You see when I was in St. Michael’s, I was the only Malay that constantly top my class in Mathematics, baffling my Chinese Mathematics teacher that he once even asked me whether I am half-Chinese!!! I am not, I am English mah!!! But I also thought it strange that my other Malay classmates were not that great in Mathematics. But when I went to boarding school where the students are 95% Malay, I was shocked to find many Malay students there who were much better than me in Mathematics, and these guys came from the “kampungs”! I was one of the few from a major city. Ipoh was a major city then!!! Well, it was the town with the most number of Mercedez Benz outside of Germany at that time that the city of Stuttgard (eh, did I spelt that write?) and Mercedez Benz decided to donate the big Mercedez logo that you see when you are approaching Ipoh.

So back to the medium of education, as I said it is not the language that matters, it is the system and the environment. And right now, the system sucks and the environment is even worse!!

What is wrong with Malaysian education now cannot be solved by either having Mathematics and Science taught in English or having them taught in everyone’s mother tongue. It is the system, and it is society that needs to be fixed!!!

And to the Yang Berhormat Deputy Prime Minister (who has no respect to the rights of members of the KLGCC!), let me ask you this simple question, was it chaotic during your student days when students had the choice of either going to a Malay or English medium school? 

8th November 2011

Only in my second week, and I have so much to write. I am truly enjoying this. First up, “Seksualiti Merdeka”.

“Festival Banned”

The headline screamed in the Star on Friday, 4th November 2011. This is intriguing, I thought. We have reached that level now, that even a festival is being banned in Malaysia? So I thought!! Then I saw the sub-headline, “Police move against Seksualiti Merdeka sparks heated debate between groups”. Hmmmm, I better get into this. I love heated debates.

Again, let’s look at it objectively, with no bias, no religious arguments, no prejudice, and look at both sides of the coin.

If you ask me, both the police and the organisers are at fault.

What are you expecting the police to do? Police reports were made by people. Sit there and wait until the Prime Minister comes back from his Haj trip??? They are only doing what comes naturally to them. Someone makes a police report, they investigate. If they are not comfortable with it, ban it! Simple! You don’t need to be a genius to do that!!!

Hello, these people are not paid a lot of money, and yet they are expected to be clean, independent, and fair. Try being a traffic policeman and having to stand in the hot sun and raging rain, and direct the traffic, for a measly RM800 a month!! If you investigate the politicians belonging to the opposition parties, you are accused of taking instructions from the governing party. If you investigate politicians from the ruling party, “just for show only lah!!!” I hear many of you saying. And what jobs can you get with only a Grade 3 SPM??? Collecting the rubbish that we Malaysians are so fond of throwing???

I am not trying to defend the police. Far from it. In fact I think they over-reacted, as usual. The right thing to do would have been to talk to the organisers first. Find out what this event is all about. And if it is true that the event is to help the sexually marginalized (and not some kind of orgy! Then I would go!!!), then perhaps ask the organisers to change the theme, so as not to provoke those with strong religious views. The strange thing is, the “festival” has been going on for years, and was even opened by Marina Mahathir once. So why suddenly over-react? Must have been the theme for this year!

And PAS, as usual, is making a lot of noise about it. They are even going after Elton John’s concert, and the concert isn’t called “The Elton John’s Gay Tour in Malaysia”. I wish I can afford the ticket, and I am not gay and I am very sure that I am not going to turn gay after watching him perform!! PAS will only support you if you are a sexual deviant and part of the opposition!!! That’s why they are a political party!! There’s no such thing as principle!!!

And the organisers, what do you expect when you call your event, Seksualiti Merdeka, Queer Without Fear!!! Show some respect la! And I am not talking about just the Muslims, but also the Christians, Buddhist and Hindus. You expect people to respect your belief, but then you don’t want to respect other people’s beliefs!!! Duh!!!! We still live in a conservative society and with strong religious beliefs.

And then you start defending yourselves by saying “It’s not even a gay parade”!!! And just because you have Datuk Ambiga supporting you, you can just do anything. Let’s provoke and challenge everyone, the police, the government, the political parties, and the public!!! She’s a lawyer, what do you expect? (Sorry to my lawyer friends) This is a woman who wants to get involved in politics, and then said she doesn’t think that she will be joining the fray at the next election because politic is so dirty in this country!!! Duh!!! Doesn’t she read the international magazines that cover the US political scenes??? How racist people are in the US now after electing a black man with a Muslim name as President!!! Politics has always been dirty?? Everywhere in the world and for as long as the earth has ever existed!!! No balls (well, anatomically yes, but you know what I mean)!!!

I am not against gays or lesbians or bi-sexuals, neither am I their supporters. I even have friends during my university days who are gay, lesbian, anarchist, communist, or just plain anti-establishment. I don’t discriminate, and I don’t have prejudices. And they know that I am a Muslim, though I wasn’t that good a Muslim then la. But we respect each other’s belief!!! Common sense!!! Duh!!! To me everyone has to answer to GOD for his choices and beliefs. Not to me or society.

Respect for one another is such a simple thing, but the state of our society today has proven that we are not able to do even that!!! Every day we demonstrate it. No respect for other motorists, no respect for your neighbours, no respect for your colleagues at work. Even the Deputy Prime Minister showed it on Deepavali day when he showed no respect to the members of KLGCC (including me) when he just cut in in front of all of us so that he can play golf after stuffing his face with “muruku” at one of the open houses!!!

So to all my dear friends, go and get the Aretha Franklin record or CD or illegal MP3 (like me) and sing it,  R.E.S.P.E.C.T!!! Easy, right??? All of you can spell, right???

 

“A class of her own”

Nicol claims her record sixth world title in emphatic style”

In today’s toxic, fractious and polarized (again, nothing to do with polar bears, ok!!) environment of our society, the above headline could not have made me more proud to be a Malaysian.

This is a story of a Chindian Malaysian, who was born gifted (nature), and then brought up and coached (nurture) in such a manner to turn her into the world greatest female squash player of all time, and maybe one day the greatest squash player, male or female, of all time!! This is huge, folks!!!

No doubt this lady was born with a gift (just like my other fellow Capricorn, Tiger Woods), but it was the nurturing that turned her into what she is today.

How many times have we heard of Malaysian athletes being sent abroad to train, only to come back with their tails between their legs, and of all the things, they complained about the weather and food!!! Despite having been based in the Netherlands (that land below sea level and could drown anytime), she not only thrived, but yesterday broke the record held by her mentor and coach, Sarah Fitzgerald, by winning her sixth world female squash championship!! Since turning professional in 2000 (at the young age of 17!), she has won 56 WISPA (World Squash Professional Association) titles, an average of 5 titles a year. No one has ever done that!!!

On Saturday, fittingly, she was inducted into the World Squash Hall of Fame. I salute you, Datuk Nicol David!!

So, what does this prove? Simple, Malaysians can achieve whatever they want if they really put their mind to it. It is all about hard work, about dedication and the right attitude. As Sir Winston Churchill said, “Attitude is everything”. In the 11 years that she has been on the professional circuit, she has lost a quite a few matches, most of the time unexpectedly. But never once has she blamed anyone. It is always about how she needs to learn about her defeat and continue to improve herself. A very alien concept to most Malaysians, especially Malaysian athletes!!

How many times have we lamented about the state of sports in the country? Probably as much as how we lamented about the state of education in the country. Professional football (what professional football?), field hockey (we once were fourth in the Junior World Cup, and one of my so-called friends who is now in the top echelon of the corporate world was in that team), badminton (other than Lee Chong Wei, and perhaps the Sidek brothers), all these sports are in dire straits!! And why, because we Malaysians just do not have the right attitude anymore. Simple!!! Imagine, we actually introduced Sepak Takraw to the world, and we are not even World Champion once!!! Not only we get thrashed by Thailand on a regular basis, some of the national players have even been caught for consuming recreational drugs!!!

Attitude!!!!!!!!

You don’t need to be a country with a large population or with very well-oiled sports machinery to produce world champions. Look at Cuba (with Javier Sotomayor, the greatest male high jumper of all time), or Romania (with Nadia Comaneci, the first perfect score in gymnastics), it is all about nurturing your athletes. Just as we are failing in nurturing our young ones today in the schools, we have failed to nurture our athletes to be the best that they can be.

Just look at Nicol. She has to be based in Amsterdam (the city where everyone can smoke pot freely!), and trained by an Australian. If she had remained in Malaysia, I seriously doubt that she will be where she is now!

Just look at our young graduates. I have in my life interviewed many young graduates, and almost always, I find the local graduates wanting!!! Not that they are not smart enough to get into universities, and graduate, but they just do not have the confidence, and the right ATTITUDE!!! I once interviewed a local graduate and when I asked him why he applied for the job, his answer was, My sister told me to apply”!!! And this is a university graduate, with an upper 2nd class degree! He could not articulate why he wanted to be in the capital market, other than “I hear a lot of people make a lot of money in the stock market”!!! I really felt like punching his face!!

How on earth are we going to be a “High Income Nation” if we continue producing this kind of rubbish from our local universities?? It is the system, folks!!! The system is ineffective, it is corrupt of ideas, and it simply does not work!!

Oh, well, in the meantime, all we can do is bask in the once in a lifetime glory of people like Nicol David, until society (and the powers that be) finally realised what have gone wrong.

The other day, I read in the local paper, that maybe we are going through a “paradigm shift”. You got to be kidding me!! Paradigm shift, my foot!!

“PPTN defaulters just can’t be bothered”

I know I am breaking my quota of two commentaries per week, but when I was saw the above headline in NST today, 8th November 2011, I just have to say something.

Why? Because the issue affects a lot of Malaysian students, and the government has to be more serious in tackling the problem of collecting the loans from those that have completed their studies.

Billions of ringgit have been disbursed over the years, and yet billions have remain unpaid. As of September this year, RM41.6 billion has been disbursed. Out of the RM6.2 billion that need to be collected, only RM3.74 billion has been collected, a shocking 60%. The CFO’s amongst you out there would know that if collection is only 60%, you are in trouble. By normal accounting standards, some of the amount would have been classified as bad debt, and some may have to be written off. Of course, the government does not practice normal accounting standards!! That’s why they are the government!!! That is our money folks!! Well, your money, since I don’t pay income tax now. Why am I not paying income tax, I hear!!! Because I am not working. Duh!!!

The headline itself says it all. “Can’t be bothered”!!!! Attitude!!!!

And at the end of the day, who suffers? Future students, especially those from the low income family who would be deprived of higher educations because the government has gone bankrupt and could no longer provide the loans.

Why are these loan defaulters so irresponsible?? Many of them have secured good-paying jobs. They can even afford cars, and some even have families, and houses, and can afford to go for holidays abroad (well, may be difficult now that their passports have been blacklisted, but even then only a few weeks ago it was reported that there are loopholes when they want to go abroad!)

A few years ago, I recall seeing my brother’s name in the list of defaulters in the local paper. I flipped and immediately called my mother. Thankfully, I was told that my brother had started repaying the loan. Otherwise I probably would have disowned him!!

I just cannot fathom the attitude of these people. Ungrateful buggers, if you ask me!! This is the only government facility I know that everyone, irrespective of race, is treated equally. And yet these people have no responsibility whatsoever.

And why is the government so poor at collections? I know it is a stupid question to ask! Duh (at me)!!

Maybe the government should start behaving like banks. You know how bankers can be real assholes when they want to be (sorry to my banker friends!).

But the fact is, if something serious is not done, it will only get worse. Do you know that RM41.6 billion (the amount disbursed) is equivalent to about 9% of the Malaysian economy!!! It is not that we are not spending enough on education, it is because we are wasting the money spent, on lousy education system and irresponsible students!!

PAY UP IDIOTS!!!!

15th November 2011

“Junket Games” – 9th November 2011, Star

“It’s holiday time again for officials”

It’s the SEA Games (what games?) again, and this time it is the turn of our Indonesian neighbours to host the games.

Despite being an avid sports fan, I have not followed the Games for many years.

Why??

One, the Games has become so irrelevant, since it is more an opportunity for the host to bring tourists into the country, not so much a test for the best athletes. So every two years, a South East Asian country (and member of ASEAN) will use the event to show how “rich” the country is, how beautiful the country is, and how corrupt the country is. This, year apparently, the treasurer of the ruling party in Indonesia pocketed USD3 million of bribes from contractors building the Games’ venues and ran to Columbia! And Indonesia is apparently spending more than USD200 million on the Games!!!

Two, hosts sometime go to the extent of “cheating” to the point of making sure that only sports that they do well in are included and bias refereeing (especially in the subjective sports like rhythmic gymnastics; is that even a sport?) have become so rampant. Did anyone see the headline at the sports page in the NST on 9th November 2011? “You’re not allowed here”. Apparently the Malaysian football coach (who was wearing the Malaysian jersey; idiot!!!) was asked to leave the VIP area during the opening match between Indonesia (the host) and Cambodia, and sit with the thugs that called themselves Indonesian football supporters. That’s tantamount to asking the coach to commit “hara kiri”. What’s the big deal, Indonesia? Malaysia is ranked 151 out of 203 in the world!!! And by having the Malaysian coach at the match is going to mean certain thrashing for Indonesia? And Indonesia is ranked 140!!! There’s nothing worse than watching two losers trying to outdo each other. Pathetic!!!

Three, let’s face it, the standards of the athletes are so poor in some sports that medals in these sports are nothing to be proud of. This is just an event for losers to see who is the best amongst the losers! Many of the athletes are not even Asian standard, let alone World standard.

Four, there are enough truly international sporting events all year round (with real international standards), that watching the games is just not exciting enough. Just switch on the many sports channels on Astro.

And every two years we have to put up with this mediocre event just to satisfy some sports officials over-inflated egos. Let’s not go into the state of sports management in the country. I will not have enough space on my host-server! Suffice to say that other than the associations involved in squash and ten-pin bowling, the rest of the associations are nothing more than political platforms for lousy politicians or something to keep some members of the royal families busy!

The headlines above are simply classic and reflective of the sports bureaucrats in this country.

861 athletes and officials (the largest ever for an overseas sports assignment) are going to Jakarta to participate in the 26th Games, and out of that, 261 are officials, 1 official for every 2.33 athletes!!!

On top of that, there will also be 338 classified as others, of which 59 are VIPs and 279 observers. To observe what? And out of the 481 medals (out of 542 in total) that Malaysia will be contesting, we are only targeting 40 to 45 gold medals!!! And the cost? RM49,000 to RM55,000 per medal!!! That’s the cost of a Proton car!! Might as well, use the money to buy 45 Proton cars, turned them into taxis, and give them to those who can’t afford to pay for their own taxis, and having to pay high rental to taxi companies! 

And one of the gold medals targeted is of course football. And who is the highest ranked team in the world competing in the games? Thailand, ranked 114!!! Malaysia did beat them though on Tuesday, with the score 2-1. Big deal!!!!

And the highest ranked female pole vaulter in South East Asia and ranked 16 at the Beijing Olympics is telling everyone not expect too much from her!!! This petite lady by the name of Roslinda Samsu do not want too much pressure being put on her! As Malaysians would know, “samsu” is also “bootleg liquor”. Is she drunk?

Sad state of Malaysian sports. That’s all I can say.

So whilst I am sure some of you will be glued to the TV watching our athletes compete, I am definitely not going to be wasting my time watching.

Majulah Sukan Untuk Negara”

You Rotters!! - 16th November 2011

This must be the harshest remark I have ever heard being uttered by an athlete on the Malaysian Amateur Athletics Association (MAAU)! And I have to agree with her!

I know I have said above that the “C” Games is a waste of time and a waste of public funds. But since we have already spent the money and the athletes are now in Jakarta together with the officials (on holiday), why did they treat the four runners (who won the 4 X 400 metres relay gold unexpectedly) so badly that they didn’t even have a chance to stand on the podium proudly holding their gold medals and sing the “Negara Ku”? How many times are we going to hear the “Negara Ku” being played at the Games?

And apparently, other athletes are also expected to fly home immediately after their events are completed, whilst the officials continue their holiday in Jakarta! 

Who are the ones having to perform at the stadiums, pools and other Games venues? The officials? I bet many are not even there at the venues to watch their athletes perform. They will probably be too busy shopping for “kuih lapis” and “kain batek”! Who cares about the athletes, right? After all, they only have to run, swim, jump, or whatever, while the officials were the ones who worked hard to run the associations and got the budget to send the athletes to the Games. It is a lot harder to run sports associations than to actually play the sports, right?

Pathetic!!! The whole of the MAAU office bearers should just resign. If not, next time, make them run on the tracks, instead of just going shopping. With the standards so low, I am sure some of them can win some medals. If they don’t, they can just say, “We didn’t have enough money to hire foreign coaches to train us”. Or just, “We are too fat and lazy!”.

So, YB Datuk Seri Idris Jala, the CEO of PEMANDU, please drive these buggers out of sports, and come up with a transformation plan to transform the sports associations in the country. Since he likes acronym so much, just call it TOBRSACPPRSA which stands for “Throw Out the Bastards that Run the Sports Association in the Country and Put Professionals to Run the Sports Association”.

All together now, “Majulah Sukan Untuk Negara”.  

22nd November 2011

The going gets tougher – The Edge, The week of 14th November – 20th November

The Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) is now one year old.

A lot has been said about it, some nice and some not so nice. And the man entrusted with implementing the ETP, Datuk Seri Idris Jala, has had his share of nightmares in trying to change the mindset of the people that he and his team has had to deal with in the last one year.

Almost every day, the transformation program is mentioned in the local papers, in one way or another. You just cannot avoid it. But how does it really affect the man on the street. Despite the ubiquitous presence of the program in our daily life, most of us don’t really bother to understand what it really is. All we know is the fact that the transformation efforts will lead to the country being a “high income” nation by 2020.

Now we all remember that 2020 is a year that has been mentioned many times in the past even before the ETP was brought to the public. The former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir, had first talked about the country being a developed nation by 2020.

Now instead of wanting to be a “developed country”, we want to be a “high income” economy. What’s the difference?

The problem is, there does not seem to be a consensus anywhere in the world on what is the proper definition of a “developed country” and “developing country”. All this while it is always assumed that the United Nations (UN) is the one that determines whether a country is “developed” or “developing”, but according to the UN Statistics Division there is no established convention for the designation of "developed" and "developing" countries or areas in the United Nations system.

Apparently only three organizations have produced lists of “developed” countries, the UN, the CIA and the FTSE Group. And the CIA and the FTSE Group associate “developed” countries with high income and developed markets. Confused??

The UN lists 47 countries as being “developed” countries based on what they called the Human Development Index. Malaysia of course is not in the list, not surprisingly. But what is surprising is some of the countries that are on the list. Some of these countries clearly are now in crisis mode, such as Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain. Uhhh, doesn’t that spell PIIGS? Yes, these are the countries that are close to bankruptcy now! It is also surprising to find countries such as Andorra (where?), Cyprus, Estonia, Slovakia, Malta, Lithuania, Latvia and Croatia in the list!!

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the meantime has an “advanced economies” list.

The World Bank on the other hand has a list of “low income economies”, “lower middle income economies”, “upper middle income economies”, and “high income economies”. Malaysia is classified as an “upper middle income economies” and there are 67 countries in the “income economies”, including Andorra (them again!), Aruba, Gibraltar, Greenland, Guam, The Bahamas, Isle of Man, Malta, Faeroe Islands, French Polynesia, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Curacao, Channel Islands, Cayman Island, the PIIGS countries. So what’s the big deal??

Amazing, isn’t it?

I am not sure getting in that list is a big deal to the man in the street!

Sure, the Isle of Man, is a “high income” economy. How many people are on the Isle of Man? Based on a 2006 census, there are 80,058 people on the island! Wouldn’t that be smaller than Taman Tun?

So here we are, the government putting all the resources available and hiring supposedly “the best brains” in the country, to make us a “high income” economy.

Ask the man on the street what he thinks. And in most likelihood, a blank expression will appear! All he cares about is whether he has enough money to pay for his car, his house, his children’s education and the food that needs to be on his family’s table.

I cannot help but remain skeptical on what we are really trying to achieve.

But what really made me laugh is the minister’s quote, “Hellen Keller says this: ‘Keep your face to the sun and you will never see shadow’. My wish is for Malaysians to live by this motto”.

Uhhh, wasn’t Helen Keller deaf and blind? She couldn’t see shadow even if she is not facing the sun. In fact she can’t see anything!! And if you look straight at the sun, wouldn’t you go blind like Helen Keller?

Hmmmmm…. Interesting isn’t it? Mixing too much with Optimus Prime and the Decepticons has certainly given the Chief Transformer a strange perspective.

And by the way, Mr Chief Transformer, I still can’t figure out what the ETP is all about as when I surfed the Pemandu website, and clicked on ETP, a blank page appeared! What happened, you have made Bumble-Bee your web-master?

Boy scores 4As despite missing half of school year – The Star, 20th November 2011

This is quite a heart-warming tale.

Despite attending only 98 out of the 195 school days this year, a Malay boy still managed to score 4As and 1B in his UPSR examination.

The only child in the family had to skip school in Terengganu to care for his mother who is suffering from systemic lupus erythematosus which causes acute and chronic inflammation of various tissues in the body.

My heart really goes out to this boy and his family, and the picture of him kissing his mother while showing his result slip brought tears to my eyes.

We all know about “single child syndrome”. But I am pretty sure this boy does not suffer from it. This is the kind of people that the government should be helping, not some rich minister’s family to rear cows!!!

Every now and then we hear about cases like this. About children having to skip school to help their families, either to help their families earn a living or to help someone in their families who are ill.

As we all know, in Malaysia we have the Ministry of Women, Family & Community Development, which is led by the minister whose family is into cow rearing.

I hope she is reading the Star today, and do something about it.

Help this family!!

29th November 2011

UMNO still “battling perceptions” – NST, 26th November 2011

That’s what the Deputy Prime Minister said in the NST on 26th November 2011.

Well, in case the DPM still doesn’t get it, perception is reality!!! In today’s world, it is not what you do that count, it’s what people perceive you have done! And you can’t stop perception, when all along you have been doing things that have given the wrong perception to the majority of Malaysians! Once you create a perception, it will take a lot of effort to undo that perception.

As Leonardo Da Vinci said in “Thoughts on Art and Life”, “All our knowledge is the offspring of our perceptions.”

So, instead of being defensive, and continue saying that UMNO has done a lot, keep doing the good things, which though hard it may be, it has to be done if UMNO wants to stay relevant. UMNO needs to change!!! How many times need that to be said?? Mahathir tried many times, and failed, and now when Najib wants to do it, many in UMNO trying to stop it!! Why??? Greed!!

When is UMNO going to finally get it? Once BN loses the next general election?

In the article, the DPM said that BN’s experience in previous general elections proved that some of the information supplied by the state and divisions did not reflect the real situation on the ground. Only now that he is realizing that? Where has he been all this time? Playing golf?

The majority of Malays have moved on. They are tired of being patronized by UMNO, who is only interested in enriching those who are in UMNO and not the rest of the Malays. The majority of Malays are getting tired of the greed that has engulfed UMNO. The politics of enrichment has got to stop now!!

The younger generations of Malays are not dumb, as many in UMNO seem to think. And the younger generations of Malays are ready to vote UMNO out, especially you, YB Deputy Prime Minister!! Not only you have no respect for the rights of others, you are still behaving like the Malays of the 90’s!

The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.” - John Stuart Mill

The Fight for 4G – The Edge, The week of November 21 – November 27, 2011

The never ending saga of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) with the awarding of the Long Term Evolution (LTE)/4G spectrum is about to get even more exciting.

What is making it more surprising is the fact that suddenly a new player has joined the fray, making the numbers of applicants for the spectrum to nine. There was nothing surprising about the 8 players, as they have been either in the mobile communications business (Celcom, Maxis, Digi and U Mobile) or the WIMAX business (YTL Communications, Packet One, REDtone and Asiaspace).

Now, all of a sudden a new player, Puncak Semangat, which is apparently linked to businessman Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, has decided to join in.

Haven’t we learned anything from the mobile communications business situation not that many years ago? Aren’t we repeating the same mistake again? Give everyone a license, to only see some falling by the wayside, only to be taken over by the stronger ones. In fact, why is even U Mobile around? No one seems to have any statistics on how many are using U Mobile, but every study seems to ignore them!

So, it looks like the same scenario is going to be repeated with broadband. Let’s not forget that there is also the fixed broadband provided by Telekom Malaysia and Time dotCom. Unlike phones, we should not separate the penetration rates for fixed broadband and mobile broadband. There should only be one broadband penetration rate. So, in all, we are now going to have 11 broadband service providers!! For a country with a population of less than 30 millions!!

The current broadband penetration rate is almost 62%, and the government has targeted a 75% penetration rate by 2015. How would the awarding of the LTE/4G spectrum contribute to meeting that target? Would having 11 broadband service providers ensure better quality and lower charges to the consumers?

Malaysia was ranked 102 out of 152 countries in terms of average download speed by leading internet speed testing website speedtest.net. The average download speed of 1.88mbps is 18 times slower than that of top ranked South Korea.

Now, what is even more surprising is the fact that whilst the government quotes the 65% rate as the broadband penetration rate, it is actually the internet penetration rate. Based on the report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), internet penetration rate in Malaysia is estimated at 62% in 2011. By 2015, the rate will reach 77%. The broadband penetration rate is estimated at only 7.3% in 2011.

Internet penetration

 

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Internet users ('000)

13,475

14,793

15,074

15,304

16,100

17,723

19,055

20,194

21,598

23,096

Internet penetration (per 100 people)

50.2

54.4

54.7

54.9

57

61.9

65.7

68.8

72.6

76.6

Broadband subscriptions ('000)

743

1,011

1,332

1,514

1,722

2,096

2,350

2,740

3,060

3,340

Broadband subscriptions (per 100 people)

2.8

3.7

4.8

5.4

6.1

7.3

8.1

9.3

10.3

11.1

Sources: ITU; Economist Intelligence Unit.

(c) Economist Intelligence Unit 2010

Talk of the government using a different definition to make the country looks good!!! Or maybe the government doesn’t know the meaning of “broadband”.

But what is most worrying from the article in The Edge is the fact that a totally new player, who has not had any experience in providing broadband, or mobile, or even internet services, being given a spectrum allocation. And when news broke out that the new player will be given a bigger allocation, the others cannot help but felt very aggrieved!

According to a source, “The reasoning is, given that Puncak Semangat is new to the industry, it should be allocated more spectrum to help increase its chance of a successful rollout. Also, REDtone and Asiaspace are viewed as not having maximized their utilization of the current WIMAX spectrum given to them in the first round”.

Who is this source? And if the source is right about what MCMC feels, the whole of the commission should be shot!!!

Operating a mobile broadband service is an expensive business. It is not for the small and inexperienced players. It is about high network technology, about network speed, about expensive network equipment, etc!

Just look at the state of the mobile broadband services currently. How many can claim to provide real broadband speed, i.e. at least 2 Mbit/s?

Are we going to see another consolidation in the future? Looks like it!  

         

 

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