Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hello, 09!

Happy New Year,
bros and sisters.

To peace and happiness in 2009.

update, near midnight: Jeff Ooi's countdown to the New Year in Three, Down and Out? is too close to pass.

Don't drink and drive ....

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Top 10 Health Stories of the Year 2008

Health is wealth, so it would pay off if you keep abreast of the main news on the health front. Doctor 2008's list of Top 10 is interesting, with melamine at No 4 and making healthcare affordable and accessible to all at No 10.

On my list, the attempt to take over the Insitute Jantung Negara by Sime Darby was the biggest health story for 2008 (after melamine) and one of the worst corporate takeover proposals of all time, but I'm a layman and a socio-political blogger so it's different.

IJN's survival in its current form will be a major concern for 2009, too.

Read Doctor 2008's Top 10 health news of the year, here.

From Tune Money to Kenanga to BP

Update: Kali's lackey in hot water for commentary on N9 royals

Original post:
Tengku Zafrul, formerly of Tune Money, will join K & N Kenanga in the new year as their CEO. It will be a great challenge for the young man who left Tune after a fall-out with Kalimullah Masheerul Hassan, the PM's good friend (see here), who has finally left the NSTP.

Interestingly, a former right-hand of Kalimullah's by the name of Brenden Pereira has been put in a spot for commentaries purportedly penned by him in the Malaysian Insider on the new Negri Sembilan Yamtuan. A Voice traces MI's pro-Tengku Naqiyuddin reports to date and suggests here that Brenden may have backed the wrong horse.

The blogger Big Dog has his take here, also lashing out at Brenden. What's going on, Mr BP?

Posting from Gaza: "Only the dead are safe in Gaza"

A Nation In Distress. The deadliest assault on Palestine by Israeli forces. So far, over 300 dead bodies and a thousand maimed ones. Tel Aviv has recalled 6500 Israeli's reserved forces and their tanks are rolling in.
And against all odds, there are still blog posts coming out of Gaza ...

Read other posts from Gaza here.
What a bloody start to the new year, Nuraina writes in her posting here. Matthias Chang exposes the real traitors to the Palestinian struggle here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Books & Friends

50 Days by Marina Mahathir
161 pages, RM19.50
ZI Publications Sdn Bhd

with foreword by Ahirudin Attan

It's a cute little book, easy to read, leaves you feeling good about the value of love, prayers and friendship, and especially about happing endings.

It's based on Marina's postings on her blog for the 50 days that her dad, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, was at the IJN for heart surgery last year. Yet, to Marina's credit, it's not just about those postings, which many would have read anyway. The book contains also her notes long after the postings had been made.
We learn by her own admission that she was not always honest in her postings back then. She hid many details because she thought they would have terribly upset her dad's fans who were monitoring his progress via her daily postings. (I, for one, wasn't aware we were this close to losing Dr M until I'd read these post-postings notes in the book ....)

Compare one of her Original postings (Sept 23 2007) and the afterpost notes she made for the book:
Original posting: Dear folks, sorry I didn't post anything yesterday but there's a good reason for it. I walked into IJN about 5 pm yesterday with a shopping bag full of fruit jellies to give my Dad ...
Notes (or The Real Story): This was one of the most horrible days, when it turned out my hunch about Dad not really being well was correct after all. Still, we were not really prepared for this and were pretty shocked when the doctors told us they had to operate again.
We were initially afraid that Dad would not agree to it, to subject his body once again to major surgery. When Tan Sri Yahya told him of the need for this operation, Dad turned to look at my Mum, then closed his eyes for the longest time. Finally he opened them and said. "Yes".
The book is also a fitting tribute to the doctors and nurses of IJN, who are a target for takeover by a certain corporation. I was told that someone is donating 100 copies of the book to the IJN doctors and those who took care of the former PM while he was there.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Azam Muharram

1430H & a "new" Bru ...
To my brothers and sisters, Selamat menyambut Ma'al Hijrah.

Got any azam Muharram? I have. My new year's resolution is to launch an e-magazine in 1430H/2009M. The portal will ride on Rocky's Bru. but will stand on its own.

I had wanted to do it in 2008 but things weren't going the way they should.

More details on this new Bru a little later.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy New Year from the boss of "a Malaysian company"

This is not an advertisement.
I'm doing a separate posting on Tony Fernandes because:

1) he's responding to my article dated 25/12/08, Air Asia pulls out of F1?
2) he's got a lovely message for my readers and for Malaysians: Be Brave (and don't hide behind Anonymous)

Tony and I go back a long way. You may not guess it reading some of my earlier postings on the Air Asia and its boss on this blog, but when Air Asia was new the Malay Mail, which I was editing, took a rather special interest in it. Air Asia was the underdog. It was so small that at one time I was asking some of my contacts, among the corporate bigwigs if they would be interested in a stake in Air Asia.
One tycoon - a Malay in the shipping industry - was cautiously interested but they never got to meet, as far as I know.
It never crossed my mind to use my position in the newspaper to get some shares in Air Asia (or any other companies, for that matter). I suppose that's what happens when you have journalists instead of businessmen as newspaper editors! Ehem.

I would like to echo Tony's message - Be Brave Malaysians. Let's change the nation for the better in 2009.

If you haven't read it, here's Tony's response to my posting:-
Hi, All readers of Rocky's Bru especially the anonymous ones. Yes, we are considering pulling out of F1. In three years we have built a brand that is bigger than most brands in Asia (please refer to Top Brands). So we are looking at pulling out. We have achieved what we want.

It's a shame that the majority of you would like us to fail despite us carrying 60 million people who never flew before and us giving employment to 6,000 people.

It is tiring trying to defend ourselves, we have done so much for the country and only recently after 7 years are we beginning to finally get a level playing field .
If we were so strong, why did it take us 7 years to get KL Singapore, why have I still not got Penang-Singapore and other routes?

On MAB, we have made it very clear that we are being overcharged. We have compromised on prior charges re budget terminal but we will be going into dispute on after the budget terminal . How on earth can anyone say we should be charged the same as the main terminal where the facilities are much better? We owe MAB nothing, they owe us.

On local sports, we have sponsored table tennis, football and individual athletes. But if we are to build a global brand we have to be on global properties.

As for (commenter) ex banker we have never asked for a merger with MAS and we have never got a handout or any bailouts. Please let the readers know what handouts we have received. If we were not good at what we did how have we defeated Tiger, Jetstar etc? How have we gone from 2 planes to 75, and carry 20 million guests? And as for going out of business, your note contradicts yourself. Why would I be buying back the company if it's going bust? Come on, ex banker, if we are going bust why buy the company back?

As for unions, no one in Air Asia has ever come to me to start a union because there is no need. We are one family. Our staff turnover is very low . If we were bad at looking after our staff there would be a union and staff would be leaving. We cant stop the formation of a union. Please read the law.

I am not hiding and am willing to answer any questions. Negativity will be the end of Malaysia. I have said it in my blog and I say it again. We all have to change, we have to work together, change what is wrong and make Malaysia a better place. When you see a company that has obviously made Malaysia a better place and some of the comments I read it saddens me. I have a wonderful 6000 staff strength who have done Malaysia proud and we have struggled all the way.

Nothing has come easy for us.
Just ask the owner of this blog Rocky who knows me very very well. I am not hiding behind anonymous I am answering myself and am happy to meet anyone .

I have a blog, everyone contacts me on email , mobile and when I am working around the office. I am even on Facebook. I do hundreds of speeches to school kids ad universities to try and motivate them.
We have developed boys who carried bags into pilots. And we have built a Malaysian company. Not a Malay, Chinese or Indian company. A Malaysian company that has been successful because of the fact we are Malaysian.

So to another anonymous, I am Malaysian not an Indian fella. I was born here, have a Malaysian passport and a Blue IC. And I'm proud to be Malaysian.
I don't imagine I will change any of you but Malaysia needs change and running down a company that has done so much for Malaysia is odd. Isn't Malaysia better for having Airasia? If you really want to know me come and see me and I will answer all your questions.

Rocky, as mentioned to you, I'm free anytime to do an interview and your readers can pose all the questions. But be brave Malaysians and don't hide under anonymous .

Thank you for reading. Wishing all of you a Merry X'mas and a Happy New Year.

The Malaysian Tony from Air Asia

A conned crony

Here's an incredible story of an Umno crony in Bandar Razak who was given a contract during the March general election for 500,000 t-shirts, 500,000 stickers, 200,000 vests, 120,000 towels, 300,000 pens, 380,000 caps, and nearly a million other souvenir items but till today has not paid a single sen for them!

So the crony lost a lot of money and had to lay off workers.

Last week, someone from the Umno Terengganu Umno State Liaison committee paid a visit to our suffering crony with an order for
45,000 T-shirts, 5,000 caps, 2,000 umbrellas, 10,000 pens, 2,000 vests, 3,000 bath towels and other items meant for the Kuala Terengganu by-election (nomination day Jan 7, polling Jan 17).

Our poor crony whines
h e r e that he has received not a single sen in deposit for the orders! He told blogger Bujai that the party he loves is killing him.

I say the crony is killing himself!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Air Asia pulls out of F1?

Air Asia, Malaysia's low-cost carrier, is expected to end its partnership with team Williams and pull out of the Formula 1. My sources said the cost has become prohibitive and Air Asia's boss Tony Fernandes has told some people that he felt the airline has achieved its goals where the F1 is concerned.
F1's 2009 season has already lost the Honda team. In my piece Petronas should do a Honda, I said Honda wouldn't be the only one pulling out of the 09 F1There has been too few good news about the car industry since then. Toyota, we've read here, is facing its worst year in decades.

Tony hasn't said anything on his blog here about the pullout, so maybe our journos should cucuk him.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Selamat Hari Natal

Don't give up, bros and sis, the goodies may yet come your way. (Read here)

Merry Christmas, Malaysians!

Power ding-dong

In 2004, TNB sold its 40 per cent stake in Kapar IPP to Malakoff for RM1.7 billion. Now it wants to buy back that stake.
For how much?
RM2.9 billion!

Kow kow ma! Siapa kena pow here?! Ada Santa Claus ke?

According to the Business Times' report here, Malakoff wrote to the MoF about its plan to sell the stake back to TNB and the MoF subsequently asked TNB to consider it. I am assuming the article meant MoF II Nor Mohamed Yakcop and not MoF Najib Razak.
In any case, we notice that the MoF has been rather busy lately with headline-grabbing corporate proposals, including its proposal that Sime Darby takes over the IJN. Some said it was also the MoF's idea to give Sime Darby the RM1.7 billion job to construct an airport in Labu, which is NOT part of a government's 50-year masterplan on airport development. More on this later, perhaps ...

Monday, December 22, 2008

More posts on Chin Peng

Did you know that ...
1. The first sec-gen of Communist Party of Malaya was a Vietnamese, an ex-French agent British spy who could not utter a word of Malay and absconded in 1947 with a million dollars of CPM's money?

2. Chin Peng was a member of Mao's Anti-Enemy Backing-Up Society (Aebus) and wanted to go to Beijing to help China in the war against the Japs?

3. Ho Chin Minh or Nguyen Ai Quoc was present during the first CPM's meeting in Kuala Pilah in 1930?

Jebat Must Die opened a Pandora's Box with his rebuke of Chin Peng's worshippers. Over the weekend, after his positng here, the following blogs have taken up the subject and expanded the argument as to why Chin Peng was no freedom fighter:
1. Chin Peng - A Wasted Life by OutSyed the Box

2. Bintang Tiga dan Chin Peng bukan Pejuang Pembebasan - Pesanan-Pesanan

3. Nyawa dan Darah Melayu membuktikan Chin Peng bukan Pejuang Kemerdekaan by Ron

4. CPM stands for Chinese Party of Malaya and they failed to form a Chinese entity in Malaya ... cept for Penang! by Barking Magpie

Dong Juan

Loot Ting Yee, a Dong Jiao Zong veteran, has reportedly resigned over a sex scandal, I read at Wong Chun Wai's here.
The group recently threatened a mammoth rally if the Government pursues a plan to introduce English for Maths and Science in primary schools.

A senior citizen's letter to the new Mayor

Is it too much to ask, Fuad? Blogger Pok Ku has written a letter asking the new KL Mayor to help residents at the scruffiest apartments in the Klang Valley, cut out after thieves stole their phone cables three weeks ago, reconnect with civilization.

Read his open letter here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sultan: Leave Kids out of your demos

Leave them Kids alone. The Sultan of Selangor has expressed disgust with certain parties for involving children in their demonstrations and campaigns. I couldn't agree more with the Sultan. Children are a powerful tool to draw attention, as in ads and campaigns, or to buy sympathy, as in street demonstrations and specific campaigns. In extreme circumstances, kids are used by adults as a shield.

Sultan Disappointed Wi
Use Of Children Iful Demonstration

PETALING JAYA, Dec 20 (Bernama) -- The Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, has expressed concerns over the use of children in campaigns organised by certain groups and individuals in pursuit of their personal interests.

The Ruler conveyed his concern to Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar prior to his departure overseas last Friday.

"The Sultan is disappointed with the actions by some irresponsible people for exploiting children in their campaigns or demonstrations.

"He has expressed concern on the matter and wants the police to take stern action against those involved," Khalid told reporters here Saturday.

As such, he said, police would not hesitate to take action against anyone who used children in unlawful activities.

On the Bar Council's tendencies to be critical of the actions taken by the police, Khalid said, as a respectable body, the council should have acted in the interests of the law and not otherwise.

He also said that police were preparing investigation papers with a view of charging Sungai Siput member of parliament Dr D. Jeyakumar, who was detained in Rawang, for using children in the "Cycling for Change" campaign organised by Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (Jerit) or the Oppressed People Network.

In the Dec 15 incident, 58 people, including 28 who were below the age of 18, were detained for participating in an illegal gathering.


p.s. Some of you may choose not to believe the article for it quotes the Selangor police chief (there is a campaign to ask the Sultan to sack the police chief, I heard) so what I did was to ask an aide of the Sultan was really unhappy, as the article puts it. The aide said the Sultan said it in front of several people at the KLIA.

Click h e r e for an article on Unicef's take about children and demonstrations.

updated, near midnight: RPK, in his article Using his name in vain, is suggesting that the Selangor police chief could be lying through his teeth.


"Now, the CPO of Selangor, said that the police took action against the JERIT cyclists because the Sultan of Selangor was not happy that the opposition was using children for political ends. Did the Sultan personally meet the ‘children’ and personally check their birth certificates to verify their ages and got confirmation from reliable sources that the ‘children’ were in fact ‘being used’ by the opposition? Or, is the CPO, just like in so many incidences before this over the last 30 years, using the Sultan’s name, as usual?

"Yes, it seems the Sultan told the CPO just before His Highness left for an overseas trip that he is not happy the opposition is using children and that he told the police to take action. How convenient that the Sultan is overseas when action was taken.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chin Peng was no freedom fighter: Jebat

"What kind of a freedom fighter is this?"For rebuttal fans out there, do read Jebat Must Die's sobering piece Raja Petra and his history lessons.

“Anggota polis pangkat rendah dan polis bantuan bergambar di hadapan Balai Polis Bukit Kepong sebelum diserang”

"There are thousands other murdered victims of the CPM led by Chin Peng since he took over as its Secretary General in 1948. We don’t even have to look at other instances recorded in the books of Dato’ Seri Yuen Yuet Leng and Dato’ J.J. Raj to discover the extent of atrocities committed by these people. What kind of a freedom fighter is this?" - JMD

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cabinet shelves IJN bid

Christmas gift for Malaysians and heroic doctors. The Cabinet, chaired by Pak Lah, has decided to put off a decision on Slime Darby's bid to take over the cash-rish National Institute Heart (IJN). Najib is expected to announce this at a press conference at 4.30 pm.
The good news came about the same time doctors at IJN signed a petition to softly oppose Sime's takeover bid. All 35 medical consultants signed the petition. They, in my mind, deserve our highest regards.

19th December 2008

Statement from IJN medical consultants

We read with concern the perceived perception that the medical staff of IJN are demanding higher pay and will leave IJN if these demands are not met.

We feel it is important that these negative perceptions are correctly put into context.

The institution was set up in 1992 as a corporate body directly under the purview of Ministry of Finance. Its board of Directors include representatives from Ministry of Health and MOF to ensure its direction and objectives of providing good quality and affordable medical care to Malaysians from all walks of life are adhered to.

In that respect, IJN has done and continue to do well, both in maintaining its moral as well as financial obligations. The institution has been self-sustaining since its inception (and has been able to pay year end bonuses annually without fail). For 2007 and up to end Nov 2008, we have accumulated 285,764 number of outpatients, performed 15,084 cardiac catheterization interventions including angiograms and angioplasties, 6,094 heart and lung surgeries, 7 mechanical hearts and heart and lung transplants surgeries.

As true with any organization of our size, there will be people leaving the organization at various times in order to pursue different career paths. Over the last 7 years of operation, out of a total of 35 consultants, only 7 have left IJN to work either in local or overseas private centres. Therefore, our consultants' annual attrition rate is only 3%, and we have responded consistently over time to promote our home grown talents to fill up the voids accordingly. Currently, 75% of IJN consultants have been in their posts for more than 10 years.

All of us are salaried based on a different payscale than that of the MOH though not at par with the private centres. Periodic review of salary scale is usually undertaken, subject to approval from Ministry of Finance.

As proven from our consultants' attrition rate and longevity in serving this institution, it is logical to surmise that on the whole we are happy with the current scheme and proving it by remaining with IJN. Many of us have served more than 10 years, excluding time spent within the MOH Hospitals prior to setting up of IJN.

Being responsible employees of IJN, we are not in the position to dictate the outcome of the privatization proposal from Sime Darby to the stakeholders of IJN. However, the perception that the privatization proposal is in response to demands for higher remunerations by its medical staff is misconceived and must be corrected accordingly to safeguard and preserve the trust placed upon us by our patients.


IJN's intrigues

Who's trying to kill IJN?
1. Why would Government wish to sell IJN when MoH had plans to build some 5 new cardiac centres in the country?
With Sime Darby yet to do a due diligence, how could they be so confident to maintain that fee structure?
Is Najib reluctant to sell and is trying to stall?
4. Is this another of Omar Ong potentially failed and unimaginative advise, just like his failed Khazanah plans, Proton downsizing, and Airline rationalisation program?
5. When Zubir promise fee structure will not change, the question to be asked is not whether it will not change but for how many years is the promise good for?
Are we to expect another major failure in the making?
7. Why was Khairy and Shahrizat's hubby at yesterday's press conference by the Health Minister?

Fortunately, A Voice, a former banker who's found a calling in blogging, has enough inside information to try and answer some of the above questions, and more such as that
IJN is flush with about RM400 million cash reserves even after paying for the new wing, its doctors are well paid and fewer than FIVE have left, etc.

Check out his Najib statement on IJN doesn't jive, h e r e.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sime Darby blocks blog

We all know that Sime Darby Watch has been a massive pain in Sime Darby's arse. And so we should not be surprised that the Sime Darby's management has decided to block access to SDW at Sime Darby, here. All employees will from today have to go the a cyber cafe or Chawan or Starbucks to read SDW or/and post comments.

Sime Darby is not the first shut out a blog. In June 2006 the management of NSTP firewalled Rocky's Bru, which was hardly a couple of weeks old then [For Adults Only?].

Brenden Pereira, who was the Group Editor of NST then, is now head of Fox Communications, which advises Sime Darby.

Loyar burok

My lawyer Edmund Bon told me about about a year ago. A group of young lawyers like him were planning to sit down one day and start launching their thoughts into cyberspace. I'm glad the site is up and running here.

Brush up your BM as well with Mr Bon's posting Majilis Peguam dibubarkan menjadi parti politik?:

Saya hanya ingin menyatakan bahawa persepsi bahawa Majlis adalah ‘anti-Melayu’ atau ‘anti-Bumiputera’ atau ‘anti-Islam’ adalah amat jauh dari realiti sebenarnya. Kami tidak pernah membuat keputusan atau bertindak atas kepentingan kaum atau agama, tetapi berdasarkan isu-isu sahaja.

Perlu diingati bahawa Majlis yang terdiri dari 36 ahli bukan satu golongan yang ‘mono-ethnic’ atau ‘mono-religious’. Ramai ahli Majlis adalah kaum Melayu dan/atau menganuti agama Islam, dan sebarang tomahan terhadap Majlis adalah tomahan terhadap setiap satu ahli Majlis Peguam.

Once again, hands off IJN, please!

update2: 8/12 Govt will allow private sector to take over National Heart Institute (IJN) provided it continues to service low-income groups: PM Abdullah/STAR
update1:18/12 Govt will continue to regulate fees at IJN even after privatisation so that patients will not be overcharged: Health Minister Liow/STAR

Original posting:-
18/12 The Govt in principle has no objection to Sime Darby move to acquire a stake in the National Heart Institute (IJN): DPM Najib/STAR
(update: pls read full story here).
In principle, this sms sucks. It's not something pleasant to wake up to, the above sms alert. I'm seasoned a journalist enough to know that Najib must have said more to the Press on the issue but, nonetheless, I in principle must state that the Minister of Finance's response to this issue is far from re-assuring. For the people, that is.

Read my previous posting, here. About 85 % of IJN's patients are poor people and government servants. I'm sure Najib must have mentioned this to the Press. I'm also certain that he would address the welfare of the doctors and nurses at IJN in the event that the MoF decides to allow a private corporation to take over the institute.

However, even if the Government can assure that IJN's corporate and social responsibility will be intact, the fact that Sime Darby is behind the proposal is another turn-off.

What Sime Darby is known to do best is to swallow. It swallowed two giants as big as itself and it's still not much bigger than what it had been. It's auto business is in trouble, its commodity trading is in trouble, and it has dipped itself in shit over the sacking of senior executives. Its human resources boss has been charged in court and so has the auditors. In short, this company does not inspire confidence. [And it's advised by Fox Communications, a company set up by cronies for cronies].

Najib needs to tread carefully. He needs to listen to the people, too. He needs to think of the people.

Let me just say if the IJN is situated in Terengganu, the Barisan Nasional would lose big in the KT by-election on Jan 17, 2009.

p.s. Mahathir haters, take note: I've stated in a comment in response to some commenters under my last posting that it was Dr Mahathir, in his usual dictatorial way, who forced the Barisan Nasional government back then to put heart and soul into the creation of the IJN.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hands off IJN, please

Anyone with a heart will be alarmed with Sime Darby's proposal to take over the IJN and turn it into its own revenue generator. The IJN, of National Heart Institute, was built for the rakyat. The reason why the Government set it up when Dr Mahathir Mohamad was PM was because most people could not afford to go to private hospitals.
85 per cent of IJN's patients are poor people. Which means that their bills are sponsored/subsidized by the Government.

I doubt that Sime Darby, the world's largest merged plantation entity, is interested in the IJN for CSR reasons.

My question is, who's idea is it to hive off IJN to Sime? The Edge's Financial Daily today, on it front page, carries the report "Sime Darby eyes IJN", with a sub-heading "Health Ministry objects to MoF's proposal to hive off heart hospital".

MoF's proposal? The Minister of Finance Inc owns 99 per cent of IJN.

"Many of IJN's doctors are leaving because the remuneration is not attractive enough. With Sime Darby in the picture, the doctors would be better paid ...".
Is that so? I asked the IJN people and what they told me was:
"Of course, there is turnover but none of our consultants has left us. What's more important is that the hospital's service is not adversely affected by it".
According to my sources, the IJN knows nuts about the MoF's proposal. Over to the Minister of Finance, then ...

Read the original scoop by SimeDarbyWatch, here.

p.s. Read this piece on Sime's Motor Division gets panicky as well.
I thought after the Sime Bank's RM400 million fiasco in the 1990s, which brought many people to their knees, the corporation was going to stick to what it knows best? I've just learned that healthcare is now a core business of Sime's ...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Growing up in Singapore ...

".... we had to bear the scorn and barbs of the Chinese superiority complex and it irritates me when C. L. Sharma in her/his article "Ethnicity, Communal Relations and Education in Malaysia" (1979) described post-independence Malays as being "imbued with the 'we are the masters now' attitude which encourages them to display arrogance in their behaviour". This academic should be more objective and realise that Malays do not have a monopoly on arrogance." - Language Ding Dong by Anak si-Hamid
Chinese supremacy? Anak si-Hamid taught me at Jurong Secondary School. I remember short skirts and mini-compo. She came into Sec 3F in 1976 and played the Beatles' She's Leaving Home, except that we didn't know what it was at first. Take down the lyrics, kids, and write a composition based on the song.

Many of us 15-year olds fell in love with the English language that day.

The "scorn and barbs" in her little posting "Language Ding Dong" here (which was prompted by my own posting here, I'm proud to state) were still there when I was growing up in Singapore. Lessons in life, well learnt.

p.s. There is a book in Growing up in Singapore. I can see it. Not exactly like Wan Hulaimi's GUiT, but there's a great book in the making, nonetheless. Keen publishers, pls contact me.

Updates 16/12, 3 pm:
Related to my article, Ganesh sent me this piece The Charade of Meritocracy by Michael Barr.

".......the playing field is hardly level. In fact, Singapore's system of promotion disguises and even facilitates tremendous biases against women, the poor and non-Chinese."

Click here to read the piece.

Mega suit against Govt, Ong Tee Keat

While our buses continue to crash, Supremme Systems Sdn Bhd has filed suits against the Government for some RM50 million for scrapping e-Kesihatan, a plan that might have helped avert deadly accidents like this one that killed 9 and injured 19 in Johor last week.

The scheme's concessionaire is also suing Transport Minister and MCA No 1 Ong Tee Keat for a total of more than RM100 million for defamation.

The Government had awarded Supremme the contract to run medical check-ups on commercial vehicle drivers but scrapped the deal recently without the company being compensated. The suit against the Government is to recover the company's investments and loss of potential income, said sources.

The company is suing Ong Tee Keat for his statements in the Press suggesting that the Cabinet had agreed to discontinue the agreement as there was monopoly involved. He also said that "e-Kesihatan didapati banyak menimbulkan masalah selain disyaki terdedah dengan penyelewengan dan unsur rasuah".

Supremme directors Kamaludin Yusoff and Nordin Yahaya wrote to Finance Minister and DPM Najib Razak twice to explain their actions. The second letter dated Dec 2, 2008 informed Najib of the defamation suit against the Transport Minister.

What the directors didn't tell Najib is that the company plans this week to sue Ong Tee Keat in his personal capacity as well.

The e-Kesihatan idea was hatched at a time when the Government was deeply concerned with the alarmingly high number of road crashes involving lorries and buses. The scheme makes it compulsory for all commercial vehicle drivers to undergo annual medical check-ups. This was supposed to have started in October last year.

p.s. Visit the blog Bus Crash No More to sign an on-line petition and for info on major bus crashes in Malaysia in recent times.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Motherfuckers in the newsroom

I feel sorry for Lionel Morais. Not because I happen to know that his appointment as chief news editor of the New Straits Times was made without the current group editor's consent. I feel sorry for him because at a meeting with staff correspondents and bureau chiefs last Friday, he lost his cool. He's not known to be a short-tempered fella but that day Lionel just blew his top, and I feel sorry for him.

That he had been unhappy with the kind of attention that blogs like mine have been giving to the NST is now made obvious. He was particularly angry with NST journalists, especially staff correspondents and bureau chiefs, who have been leaking information to such blogs. He didn't have to mention Rocky's Bru ... I know whose blog he was referring to.

He called these informers "motherfuckers".

I know each and every one of the journalists at the meeting, including Lionel and Ah Chai, and I am sorry for them. I have spoken to each one at one time or another, on the phone and in person. I think it's unfair to call the people who talked to me and shared info with me "motherfuckers". They are not smuggling the next day's story to your rival papers. Journalists talk and exchange info, that's what we do, don't we?

After all, bro, you too have told me things about the NST's newsroom;. it's just that I decided not to blog about it. That - telling me those things about NST - doesn't make you a motherfucker in my book.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Vern schools vs Single Medium

"Mukhriz's point about vernacular schooling" is a belated posting by author Syed Akbar Ali,which shows why the debate on the issue will continue despite Najib Razak's point that the Government will let be the Chinese and Tamil primary schools as long as there's demand for them.
In Singapore, the Government found a way to let vernacular schools die their natural deaths a long time ago. Maybe, just maybe, we can learn from the republic. I wrote a piece for mypaper, published yesterday.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hillslope housing developer sues protesters

Updates, Sun 14/12: The Star has the story, here [Damansara 21 developer sues residents association]. In its BizWeek, an interview with Ms Teh, the property developer's big boss, explains why it's dangerous to freeze the project mid-way!
Having read the interview, I had to carry a correction: each of the 21 bungalows starts at RM10 million, not RM5 million. My apologies for the 50% discount.

Original article:
Four sued in personal capacity. Three months before the Bukit Antarabangsa disaster happened, a public-listed developer sued four office bearers of a residents association.

The suit was filed against them IN THEIR PERSONAL CAPACITY.

The four are:
1) Dato Seri Dr Abdul Shukor Abdullah, who is chairman of the Persatuan Penduduk Medan Damansara)
2) Peter Raiappan, the secretary
3) Randhir Singh, the Assistant Secretary and
4) P. Sudhakaran, a vice president of the association.

Three of the defendants are government retirees. Shukor is the former director-general of Education while Randhir is a former journalist.

The residents have filed their defence. "The residents have started fund raising. We are united," a resident said.

Today, the residents, who have been protesting a hillside development near their homes, were relieved to learn that ..
12/12 FT Ministry has banned all hillside projects on Class IV slopes and temporary freeze on Class III slopes in Putrajaya, Labuan and KL/STAR
However, they are going ahead with a plan to stage a SILENT WALK in protest against the developer, SDB Properties Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Selangor Dredging Berhad. "We want the project scrapped".

Some see the FT Ministry's decision this afternoon as a vindication for the four and the residents as the project, which is called Damansara 21, will be freezed.

Shearn Delamore & Co are acting for the property developer. I was told that prominent lawyer Robert Lazar is handling the case against the residents for the public-listed giant. The suit, filed on Sept 2, is believed to be the first by a prominent housing developer against a residents' association.

A resident said he believed the four were being sued in their personal capacity in order to intimidate them and the association as a whole.

To show support for the residents, assemble behind Jakes/Victoria Station around 10 tomorrow morning. Read their blog H E R E. The project is so named as it involves the development of 21 bungalow units, each costing at least RM5 million.

p.s. The Star top editor says he heard Cabinet will order Project 21 scrapped! Read his posting here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rushing a legacy, Pak Lah?

If you missed the tabling of the Judicial Appointment Commission Bill in Parliament this morning, click here.

And if you're not asking the same question A Voice is asking, i.e. What's the hurry, Abdullah Badawi? then consider the (hitherto unreported) fact that the 4th Floor is forcing this Bill through despite gaping holes pointed out by those involved in the discussions.

I heard the Chief Justice and the Attoney-General had reservations, too. Everyone else except the 4th Floor had reservations. But someone's got to have some legacy, so let someone else (Najib?) deal with the consequences of having a Act done in haste, man.

I think the JAC is a good thing. But you rush something as important as this, you can't help but wonder.

Dong promises mammoth rally

update 10/12: You Arrogant Dong! Zainul Arifin of NST says it - Dong Jiao Zong's mammoth threat against the government smacks of arrogance. Read his column in today's NST here.

In A. Kadir Jasin's latest thots on multi-racial Malaysia [To the Empire they go], he wonders what the Malaysian Chinese are thinking, now that Hindraf has got the ears of the Empire. 'I can’t imagine them making a beeline to London or complaining to the Chinese government. But according to Press reports, the Jiao Zong (United Chinese School Teachers’ Association) had threatened “mammoth demo” should the government decide to continue the policy of teaching of mathematics and science in English."

Here's the report. SSDD. Same Shit Different Day, as King would say. I say let them have their day on the streets. Bring on the mammoth demo.

Jiao Zong warns of mammoth demo
PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 09 December 2008 02:13pm

©The Sun

JIAO ZONG (United Chinese School Teachers Association) president Ong Chiaw Chuan warns that Dong Jiao Zong will launch a massive protest action should the government decide to continue with its policy of teaching Science and Mathematics in English, the Chinese press reported yesterday.

Dong Jiao Zong, which comprises Dong Zong (United Chinese School Committees Association) and Jiao Zong, has maintained a firm stand that the government should revert to the use of mother-tongue languages to teach the two subjects in primary schools. Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein is expected to make
a decision after chairing the fi fth roundtable discussion on whether or not to continue teaching Science and Mathematics in English.

“The Chinese community has to act if the issue is not resolved,” Ong said on Saturday. He believed the majority of people from the various communities wish to see a reversal to the use of mother-tongue languages to teach Science and Maths.

He urged Chinese-based political parties and Chinese ministers, especially those from MCA, to be firm in fighting for the use of Mandarin as the medium of instruction for Science and Maths in Chinese primary schools.

“They also need to be mentally prepared, as once the government decides to carry on with the policy, Dong Jiao Zong will launch a massive protest action,” said Ong. He said Dong Jiao Zong feels that the teaching of Science and Maths in English is currently the greatest threat to Chinese education.

He disclosed that at the second and fourth roundtable discussions held on Aug 27 and Oct 21 respectively, most of the participants, including Dong Jiao Zong and educational and cultural groups from other races,
political parties, academics and former education offi cers, were not in favour of the “go English” policy.

“Studies by various educational groups and universities, and even the Education Ministry’s own survey, showed that the implementation of English for Science and Maths policy has not produced the desired
results,” he said.

Malaysia's top-earning blogger

Singapore: I'm here for an hour-long program on RazorTV, the region's first internet TV channel. My hosts invited three other bloggers for the Point Blank segment, including Cheo Ming Shen, the co-founder of Nuffnang, the blog ad community.

He told us that for Malaysia, Kenny Sia earns the most bucks from Nuffnang advertising. For Singapore, it's Xiaxue (pic).

With socio-political bloggers, especially in Malaysia, the advertisers tend to be a tad more cautious, Ming said.

Look out for the program here.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Petronas should do a Honda

update 10/12/2008: "Petronas and Formula One" - the view of a motorsport fan and professional motoring writer, here.

Ditch the Formula 1. I'm not an F1 fan so Honda's decision to withdraw from the costly affair (Citing economic crisis, Honda withdraws from F1 - USA Today) doesn't make a difference to me. But it should make hell of a difference to Hassan Merican, the Petronas boss. If Honda thinks the economic slowdown is bad enough for it to pull out from F1, why should our national oil corporation continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on it?

It won't be such a great thing to win the races without the Honda team, anyway.

So, Petronas, do the right thing.

Read also Bernie Eccelestone's interview here. Honda Racing F1 team reacts to withdrawal news, here.

Hari Raya Haji

Apa pengorbanan kita? Di Bukit Antarabangsa esok, sempena Aidil Adha, Yayasan Salam dan restoran Kelantan Delights akan mengadakan jamuan makan dan doa selamat untuk sukarelawan dan penyelamat yang telah mengorbankan masa dan tenaga untuk membantu mangsa tanah runtuh. Jam 1 petang.

Selamat Hari Raya Korban.

p.s. This just came in under my previous posting Tragedy and Hope:
If anyone is able to offer help or volunteer, please get in touch with FATIMAH SULAIMAN of Malaysian Red Crescent Society, Selangor Branch. Her number is : 012-214-5157.
or contact Encik Nasir from MRCS headquarters : 016-260-6037.

thank you,
Raja Zarith Idris,
Community Services Committee,
Malaysian Red Crescent Society.

First Anon Blogger on RTM's Blog Program

Big Dog. After the lawsuit by NSTP in Jan 07, I started encouraging bloggers who were close enough to me to shed their anonymity and put their names & faces to their blogs. Quite a few unmasked themselves. It was especially important to me then because I felt we needed to tell the authorities then that we were not doing anything unlawful and, therefore, we had nothing to be afraid of.

Of course, many bloggers could not reveal their real identities for various reasons. For eg, because they work woth the MoF or the PM's Department, or they are journalists with the NSTP group, or simply because their bosses won't allow them to blog.

I'm glad to know that the blogger Big Dog, whom I've described as "rabid" or "right-wing" pro-Umno , has decided to reveal his real identify, here.

Catch him barking at 8.40 pm tonight on RTM 1.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Tragedy and hope

RoRo of XMC called me a while ago to ask if I'd help him send some food items to the victims of the landslide at Bukit Antarabangsa. He doesn't know any of the victims/ Ain't it reassuring to know that there are still a few among us always inclined to help others, regardless of race and religion?

In Johor, someone from the Red Crescent told me they have been on stand-by mode for days. It's been raining and the water level is rising. Many still carry painful memories of the floods of 2006, said to be the state's worst in a hundred years. Thousands in Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang have lost their homes and thousands more are being evacuated. Last week, Utusan Malaysia was running exclusive front page stories on blatant sand theft in Johor, where millions of cubic meters of Malaysia sand have been illegally sold to buyers in Singapore. In 2006, someone had speculated that this could have been a cause for that year's great floods. Nobody believed him.

I heard the PM, the DPM and the Selangor Menteri Besar spoke on television today, talking about stopping hilltop or hillside development and about greedy developers, and declaring that "enough is enough". I have heard of such talk before. You have, too. Many, many times before.

I do not wish to politicize the tragedy although I am of the opinion that the typical response to of some of our politicians to disasters like the Antarabangsa landslide is our real tragedy. Some should have just hurried off again to their holiday homes in far away land, it wouldn't make any difference.

More RoRos will make a difference. Let's lend a hand to the victims in the landslide and the floods which ever way we can.

pix of Bukit Antarabangsa landslide courtesy of The Star On-line. More pics here.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Blog book launch & forum

Date: Friday the 5th Dec

Time: 8 to 10 pm

Venue: KL/Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall

Blogging and Democratization in Malaysia is probably the first fully-researched work on the Malaysian blogging phenomenon, covering the period of living dangerously before the March 2008 general election and the choppy months following it. The authors, Jun E Tan and Prof Wan Zawawi (one of my songwriting heroes), arrived at the blogging scene when bloggers were united by their fear and driven by a shared dream.

Admission is FREE and supper provided. Book lovers may feast on the latest books by SIRD.

YB Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, who is political secretary to Selangor MB, will officiate.

The authors and Nik aside, other speakers at the forum come from the organisers, namely the Centre for Policy Initiatives, SIRD-Gerak Budaya, the National Alliance of Bloggers (All-Blogs) and the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.

FOR updates, please go to Desi's posting, here.Nik Nazmi's keynote address at the forum/book launch entitled "How New Media Trumped Old Politics and the Road Ahead" is up there too.

Mishap in New Zealand

Mass Comm student and lecturer die in road crash. A study tour to New Zealand involving students and lecturers of the Faculty of Communications & Media Studies, UiTM, met with tragedy when the bus they were traveling in was rammed by a truck in Auckland. The dead have been identified as deputy dean Shafiee Ahmad, 51, and 2nd year student Sakinah Ahmad, 21, according to a posting here.

A tahlil will be held at the Faculty in Shah Alam tonight, 8pm. Friends and ex-Masscommites welcomed.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Zaid Ibrahim sacked

update 2pm, 4/12: Zaid won't join opposition now, tells press conference that he is "victim of double-standards". Click here.

Original posting
"I feel fine". It was just in March that Pak Lah appointed Zaid Ibrahim a senator so that he could assume the post of de facto Law Minister in his Cabinet. Tonight, the outgoing Prime Minister chaired an Umno supreme council meeting that decided to sack Zaid for attending the PKR's congress over the weekend.

Zaid made quite an impression in the short time that he was Minister. Possessed with a wish to restore confidence in the judiciary, he got the PM to agree to pay ex-gratia to Salleh Abas and the judges from the 1988 crisis (Pak Lah even got himself a rare standing ovation at the dinner in April) and initiated the idea of a Judicial Appointment Committee (which is being discussed and likely to be tabled at Cabinet this month and, if approved, could be Pak Lah's biggest legacy). But he stepped on many big toes along the way. In Sept, he decided to quit Pak Lah's Cabinet.

I asked Zaid a while ago, after getting The Star's sms alert on the sacking: "Shocking news. Do you feel betrayed, bro?".
Zaid told me: "No, I feel fine."

He'll be holding a press conference on Thursday at 10 am at the Tropicana Golf Club (which is not too far away from Keadilan's headquarters).

Monday, December 01, 2008

Resign, Karpal tells Bar Council leaders

Karpal Singh has got enough of the Bar Council and is calling on its committee members to resign for keeping quiet over his running battle with the Chief of Justice and for allowing the Government to foot the bill for a dinner the Bar hosted in April.

Read a tentative report here; subscribe to Malaysiakini if you want to read the full report and more.

KJ: Umno Youth chief should be Minister

Khairy Jamaluddin says - and this is according to his trusted New Straits Times here ok? - the Umno Youth chief should be a Minister in Najib Razak's Cabinet. Najib is scheduled to take over from KJ's father-in-law in March 2009 and KJ is contesting the post.
As the current Umno Youth deputy chief, the SIL has an edge over Mukhriz Mahathir (who's talking like an Education Minister, here) and Khir Toyo, even though both received more nominations than he did to qualify for the contest.

Actually, KJ is just stating an Umno/BN tradition. If he wins the Umno Youth chief, tradition would beg Najib to make him a full Minister. If Mukhriz Mahathir wins, he should be in the Cabinet, too. The problem is if Khir Toyo wins. He would have to be made a senator first as he is not an MP. I was told, however, that Khir Toyo does not wish to be in the Cabinet even if he wins the Umno Youth chief post. He wants to focus on taking back Selangor and rebuilding the Youth movement, he once said.

But tradition or not, a lot of people can't quite stomach the prospect of KJ being a Minister. Wonder why ...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

CSL's latest flame

Chua Soi Lek, the newly-elected MCA deputy president, had gotten himself into another controversy, it seems. This time with some young Malay graduates who grouped under the Gabungan Graduan Melayu Muda, the same body that dragged the Penang state government to court over the multilingual road sign.
GGMM president Khairul Azam Aziz said he and supporters will march from the LRT station at Ampang Park at 3 pm to the Wisma MCA, where he hopes to deliver a notice of demand to CSL.
"We want Dr Chua to apologize openly to the Malays for his statement that ketuanan Melayu is not longer relevant," Azam said here.
GGMM plans to take Chua to court on Wednesday if he fails to apologize.

Right-wing Umno blogger Big Dog says MCA should take stern action against CSL, here.

Sime man faces Sessions Court charge

Sime Darby of the world's-largest-plantation-merger fame, which expects profits for the year to tumble 46 per cent, will make the wrong kind of headlines tomorrow when its Human Resources boss Ishak Abdul Hamid appears at the KL Sessions Court tomorrow (Monday, Dec 1) over the controversial sacking of Group Financial Officer Razidan Ghazalli and Golden Jomalina's General Manager Muhammad Mohan Kittu Abdullah.

Also charged for a similar offence is KPMG Corporate Services Sdn Bhd executive director Tan Kim Chuan. KPMG carried out a forensic audit on the purported RM120 million trading losses incurred by Golden Hope Plantations Berhad.

Both Razidan and Muhammad Mohan were sacked for alleged “failure to discharge their functions to the standard of care that were reasonably expected of them”, resulting in the RM120 million. Three others - former Golden Hope's Group Chief Executive of Golden Hope Dato' Sabri Ahmad, former Director of Oils and Fats Dr Anhar Suki and General Manager of Commodities Trading and Marketing Azmir Yahya were forced to resign immediately.

Ishak could go to jail for 3 years if found guilty but the charge has brought about fresh questions on the sacking of the two senior execs and the circumstances under which the others had to quit.

Click here for more.