Thursday, September 27, 2007

Let Bloggers Thrill Themselves!

An old friend who is also a fellow blogger and fellow journalist ('ex' in my case) , Jaybee, in responding to my yesterday's announcement of my new and second blog on property, gave me this encouragement: "Keep up the spirit. Keep on blogging."

He also quoted veteran Malaysian journalist and ex-New Straits Times chief editor Datuk A. Kadir Jasin who once said (presumably in his blog, The Scribe): "Biar Bloggers Siok Sendiri" which means (more or less) 'Let Bloggers Thrill Themselves'. I suppose what he meant was that even if nobody reads your blog or agree with what's written, so what? As long as the blogger himself/herself is thrilled with his/her work, that is what matters.

Another friend and fellow-blogger, Ben, commenting on my post Happy Mooncake Festival (in which I explained and apologised for my not being constant or regular in submitting new posting) has this to say: "After a few years of blogging and still at it, my observations are:- 1) You must like to write and 2) blog about what you are passionate about. Passionate means you don't mind spending a lot of time researching & writing about it, and don't mind if nobody reads it."

Yet another journalist friend, while congratulating me on my becoming a blogger a couple of months back, said to be a successful blogger one needs a lot of discipline (to post regularly if not daily). Now I know what he meant and why to this day he is still not a blogger, to the best of knowledge.

Well, the comments/advice of Kadir and Ben more or less sums up what the attitude of bloggers should be and how others should view/treat them. In other words, leave them alone. They mean no harm. Let them thrill themselves, even if you don't agree with them.You don't expect everyone to agree with you just as everyone should not expect you to agree with them, not all the time. If they break the law, let the law takes its own course. Kadir and Ben could not have put it more succinctly when they said: "Biar Bloggers Siok Sendiri" and "Don't mind if nobody reads it". You hit it right on the top of the nail, guys.

Their advice and encouragement (including that of Jaybee's and the non-blogging journalist) are indeed most welcomed and infact timely for me. This is because, as I explained at the intro to the Mooncake article, I was going through what some new bloggers would experience, sooner or later - that of being 'burnt-out' or going out of steam after an encouraging or promising start. It's a syndrome, just like the seven-year itch,some say.

Thanks guys. You woke me up from my doze. But let me assure you that I was merely taking a short 'afternoon nap' to recharge my batteries and not 'in deep slumber until morning'. From now on it's full-steam ahead with no looking back. The fact that I started my second blog (on property) yesterday should testify this. Infact, I am already planning a third (blog) but for strategic reasons can't tell you yet what it will be about. No offence meant.

As for my loyal or original 'fans' who used to follow my reports on Party Berjaya's formation in July/August, don't worry, as soon as I get more materials from the archives, I will continue the 'history lesson' (as one of you put it); hopefully by tomorrow. Photostating from old newspapers at the archives costs up to ten times more than the shops, mind you.

As for Jaybee and Ben, what can I say? You are among my true friends, who in this mad, mad rush and material world of ours are harder and harder to come by these days. True friends want to see you succeed, so-called friends (Chinese say wine-meat friends, English say fair-weather friends) want to see you fail. Jealousy is, afterall, a human nature. No wonder there is a Chinese saying: "The number of people who want to see you 'die' is more than the number who want to see you 'live'."

Till then, cheers! (with Chinese tea, still in the Mooncake mood. Tonite the moon is supposed to be roundest, remember?) May God bless you all!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Birth of a new blog

I am pleased to announce the birth of a new blog. Called Sikmading's Property, it's my second blog. As its name suggests, it deals with anything property - realty, real estate, housing development, whatever you call it. While it aims to cover Sabah, emphasis will of course be on Kota Kinabalu, the State's capital city.

The motive here is not money, just my passion to write about subjects that I like. After all,who would pay for a blog that has zero readership, as of today?

Interested? House hunting? Please go to, or simply just click Sikmading's Property under My Blogroll on the left.

Thank you and welcome.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Happy Mooncake Festival

Hi guys! It's good to be back. I know, I've been absent for sometime and I apologize for that. I'm not inventing excuses but, you see, when I first started, a fellow blogger already warned me at the outset to be weary of a syndrome which every new blogger may face, i.e. a possible 'burnt-out' or 'going out of steam' after sometime. Another friend, a journalist, wished me well but gave me a friendly reminder - that to be a successful blogger, one needs a lot of discipline (to post regularly, if possible every day).

Well, the 'excuses' dispensed with, let's get on with my latest offering. As the title suggests, it's about mooncake, a Chinese delicacy eaten once a year. Yes, today is Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival in Asia. In my country Malaysia it's also called the Lantern Festival, simply because of the lantern displays or processions associated with the festival. But in my home state Sabah, it's also popularly known as the Mooncake Festival simply because mooncakes are eaten as highlight, hence the title of this posting.

So, what is this festival all about and how did it originate? There are several versions about its origin but generally this Asian celebration of abundance and togetherness dates back over 3,000 years to China's Zhou Dynasty. "Togetherness" because, just like Chinese New Year, families gather for dinners on this auspicious occasion to celebrate 'abundance' (of harvests, for example). So, in a way, it is a sort of Chinese Harvest Festival. Not only are there several verions of its origin, you even have Vietnamese and Korean versions of the festival itself, with their own names of course. Apart from Asia, the Moon Festival, just like the Chinese New Year, is also celebrated by Chinatowns in other parts of the World, for example San Francisco and New York.

As a kid in a Chinese primary school, I did learn a bit about the origin of the festival but have since forgotten most parts of it. So instead of running the risk of misleading you, I would leave the talking to the experts. I did some searches on the Internet and the one that I liked best was still from Wikipedia. They did a good job. Not only they told me about the festival's origin, but even the Vietnamese and Korean versions and related articles and sites. If you are interested, please go to

Before you do, however, I would just like to share with you what I read in the local Chinese newspapers today. You see, the festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the Eight month of the Chinese or lunar calender, when the moon is said to be at its fullest or roundest. I am not sure if the practice is still common in this 21st Century, but during my time as a kid we used to gather round a table outside the house after dinner, 'appreciating' the beautiful and 'roundest' moon while eating mooncakes and drinking Chinese tea (apparently to 'wash down' the oily cakes); while our parents told us stories or folklores about the festival . But, according to the Chinese papers, for this year the moon will be fullest on the 17th day. So, if you miss tonight's 'moon-sighting' for whatever reason, you will get a second chance on Thursday, provided no rain, of course.

Until then, cheers! (with Chinese tea, please)

Monday, September 17, 2007

It's a Holiday in Sabah !

Horay! It's a holiday in Sabah today, Monday 17 Sept 2007. This is to replace yesterday's public holiday which falls on a Sunday. According to the official State public holiday list for 2007 as gazetted and published in the official diary for civil servants in Sabah, 16 Sept was a holiday both because it was Hari Malaysia (Malaysia Day) and official birthday of the Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Sabah (Governor). I see this as an encouraging sign for it shows that the Sabah Government at least has the decency not to ignore 16 Sept as Malaysia Day. It is a good start, although the ultimate goal is to get the Federal Government to also declare it as a holiday.

Sabahans and Sarawakians have Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon to thank for towards this end. Yesterday, the Gerakan party president said the Federal Government should seriously consider celebrating 16 Sept as Malaysia Day to the extent of even declaring it a public holiday. Gerakan is a component party of Malaysia's ruling coalition, the National Front. Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) which ruled Sabah from 1985 to 1994 had made frequent similar calls, but these were quickly branded by Kuala Lumpur as yet another of PBS' anti-federal moves.

Dr Goh's unexpected and bold statement came shortly after the statement by Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Taib Mahmud who said a few days ago that the east Malaysian state will celebrate the 45th anniversary of Malaysia in a big way next year, widely speculated as election year. Yesterday, PBS led by former Sabah Chief Minster Datuk Joseph Pairi took out full-page advertisements in local newspapers wishing Sabahans a Happy Malaysia Day.

Dr Goh's statement immediately gave Sabahans and Sarawakians a new ray of hope, a light at the end of the tunnel. But alas, his proposal was quickly shot down by Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Najib Tun Razak who Monday told reporters that "16 Sept is an important date but the government had decided that there should be only one independence date which is 31 August. This is to show that we are together..."

Sabah and Sarawak gained self-rule from Britain on 31 August 1963 but could officially join Malaya and Singapore to form Malaysia only on 16 Sept. The delay was caused by the arrival of a UN team sent to ascertain the wishes of the local people, prompted by protests lodged by both the Philippines and Indonesia. Malaya had earlier gained independence also from the British on 31 Aug 1957.

So what's next? It remains to b seen but one thing is for sure - the Opposition in Sabah (perhaps in Sarawak too) will keep on harping on this issue, with the election expected anytime. One of the Sabah opposition leaders, ironically, is Pairin's own brother, Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan who is a Vice-President of the Kuala Lumpur-based Keadilan party. Yesterday in Kuching, Sarawak's state capital, Dr Jeffrey was invited to recite the Malaysian declaration similar to the one read out by Sarawak's first Chief Minister on 16 September 1963. The function was organised by Keadilan Sarawak which made a breakthrough in last year's Sarawak election by winning a seat in the State Assembly while fellow opposition party DAP won several.

Will this issue, among others, affect the election outcome? Only time can tell but Dr Jeffrey is already saying that Keadilan will form the next Sabah Government, something Sabah BN leaders describe as dreaming. Dream or reality, only God knows.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Breaking News! Assemblyman to Wed CM's daughter!

This young man (center) has more than one reason to smile. Firstly, it's because he is seen being installed as a honorary Lt. Col. of Malaysia's People's Volunteer Corps (RELA) by Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad (left) and Home Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Aseh Che Mat. (Click on pix for a larger view)

The young man is the Honourable Ariffin Ariff, the Sabah State Legislative Assembly Member for Membakut cum Chairman of the Sabah Native Affairs Council. He won the Membakut constituency on a BN-Umno ticket in the last state general election in his debut attempt in 2004, making him one of the youngest, if not the youngest, Sabah Assemblymen. After winning the seat, he was also made Chairman of the Council, which gives him his second salary. But he is still single, which makes him one of the most eligible bachelors, if not the most, in Sabah.

Which also bring us to the other reason why he is smiling - his bachelorhood is about to end. A reliable source told Sikmading that the 'Bachelor YB' (Malay for Honourable) will get married soon, after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan which starts tomorrow, Thursday. And the lucky girl? Well, she is equally 'eligible', if not more eligible. This is because she is the daughter of none other than the Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Musa Aman!

However, at the time of writing, neither Ariffin's age nor his bride-to-be's name is available. But Sikmading will keep you posted, hopefully by tomorrow. The wedding is scheduled for October 20, about a week after Muslims worldwide celebrate the Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, also known as Hari Raya Puasa, the culmination of the fasting month. The main celebration will be held in Sandakan on the east coast of Sabah although the Aman family comes from Beaufort in the Interior. Musa is State Assemblyman for Sungai Sibuga near Sandakan.

At yesterday's RELA function in Tuaran, where Musa was made a honourary Brigadier-General, Ariffin saluted his father-in-law to-be, the Chief Minister after getting his (Ariffin's) Lt. Col. appointment. Arrifin also kissed Musa's hand (a Muslim custom as a mark of respect for an elder) which draw an applause from fellow Assemblymen and Members of Parliament who were also there to be conferred honourary RELA Lt. Col. or full Colonelships.

Congratulations, Lt. Col. Arriffin!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Hope Yet For Bonus!

What a disappointing 2008 National Budget it was for the 1.2 million civil servants in Malaysia when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi (popularly known as Pak Lah) presented it in Parliament this evening (pic). Sitting next to him is Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (son of Malaysia's 2nd Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak who died in 1976.)

For the first time since 1993 (when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was Prime Minister), there was no announcement of bonus in the budget. But there is HOPE yet for the public officials - Najib told reporters afterwards that any bonus may not necessarily be revealed only during the tabling of budget. (Pak Lah apparently left Parliament House without speaking to the Press after delivering the budget.)

"It is needless for everything to be anounced in the budget. If there is anything else that we (the government) feel is reasonable, the government can consider and announce at some other time.

"As such, the budget is not the cut-off point for whatever the government does," he stated.

Asked whether there was hope yet for civil servants to get a bonus this year, he said: "Wait, just wait."

Najib's statement has given the government staff new hope. They now hope that a bonus, whatever the quantum, would be announced before the annual Hari Raya Aidil Fitri (also known as Hari Raya Puasa) which Muslims celebrate after fasting for a month. This year, fasting begins mid-September and the festivity (2 days of public holidays) will be on in mid-October. The majority of Malaysia's civil servants are Muslims.

"At worst, we hope that it would be announced before Christmas in late December. Though Christians civil servants are in the minority, an added excuse will be that the bonus will be timely because parents will have a heavy burden when schools reopen in January," a government officer pointed out.

The non-inclusion of the bonus in today's budget, however, was not totally unexpected as Malaysia's civil servants just had a salary increase in July which Najib pointed out caused the government an extra RM8 billion. (Slightly over US$2 billion) Another possible reason, an analyst said, is that with the recent salary raise the cost of living has also increased which is not fair to those in the private sector as they had no pay rise. "So can you imagine if a bonus is announced so soon after the raise, it will become worse," he warned.

Traditionally, the civil servants would get an annual bonus of between half-a-month to a month of their basic salaries; with a record one-and-a-half month at one time when the Malaysian economy was at its peak. But whatever it is, whether it's half month or one month, a civil servant is confident that it will be paid or at least announced before the next election expected between the end of this year and early next year.

This is because the government cannot afford to antagonize the more than one million civil servants which if their families were included would translate into at least between 2 to 3 million precious votes. Although the civil servants had a salary raise in July, they would probably have forgotten it by the time election is held as "man's memory is short while his desire can never be satisfied", the civil servant pointed out.

"If and when the bonus is finally announced, you will know election has arrived," the civil servant concluded, succinctly.

Meanwhile, another disappointment for civil servants, especially those retiring soon, in the 2008 Budget was the fact that Pak Lah also did not announce the extension of the retirement age for them. It had been widely speculated over the last few months that the PM would announce it today, especially after he failed to do so at the Labour (or Workers') Day gathering attended by thousands of civil servants in May.

Malaysian civil servants used to retire at the age of 55 until a few years ago when it was extended by a year to 56. Many believe that this was among the legacies left behind by the former British colonial government which ruled Malaya until 1957 and Sabah and Sarawak (in east Malaysia, on Borneo island) until 1963. The popular theory is that the expatriate officers purposely set the retirement age at such a young age so that when they went home to Britain they would still be fit enough to enjoy life! By comparision, Malaysian civil servants' counterparts in most neighbouring countries retire at 60 or even beyond.

Malaysian civil servants now hope that the government would announce the extension of retirement age latest by the next Workers' Day gathering in May 2008. Or, just like the bonus, latest by election time?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Happy Golden Jubilee

Thousands of patriotic Malaysians converged at the Padang Merdeka (Independence Square) in Kota Kinabalu (Sabah's state capital) to help the Nation celebrate its Golden Jubilee on the night of 30th August 2007, the eve of the 50th Anniversary of her Independence. (The Federation of Malaya achieved Independence from Britain in 1957 but teamed up with the Crown Colonies of Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia in 1963. Although Malaysia came into being officially only on 16th September 1963, August 31 has since generally been accepted as the new country's Independence date whereas Sept 16 is celebrated as Malaysia Day or, in the case of Sabah, the Governor's birthday as well.)

Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman led his State Cabinet members and the huge crowd in shouting Merdeka as the Jalur Gemilang (Malaysian flag) was raised at the stroke of midnight. The people started arriving at the padang as early as 5pm and there was an air of carnival and festivity as they were entertained by local artistes including Sabah singers who made it to the finals of reality talent show over the last few years. The climax of the 6-hour show was of course the fireworks after the flag-raising ceremony.

As they say, a picture paints a thousand words. So I'll end my report by providing the caption to the photos above. (For a larger view, please click on an image.):-

Pix 1 - Musa and wife, flanked by his Cabinet colleagues and their wives, leading the crowd in waving the Malaysian flag and singing of patriotic songs. On the Chief Minister's right are deputy chief ministers Datuk Yahya Hussin (in Malay dress) and Datuk Joseph Pairin (in Kadazan dress).

Pix 2 - Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun (left) and wife (right) with Sabah singer Linda who was the 1st runner-up in the finals of the 2004 Akademi Fantasia, Malaysia's top reality TV talent search show. Linda is from Ranau, Masidi's constituency.

Pix 3 - Starting them young....These young Malaysians, dressed in their respective traditional costumes, did not want to be left out of the celebrations.

Pix 4 - These teenagers, calling themselves the 5th Generation, were among those who entertained the crowd. On stage for the first time, the newly-formed band are mostly students from the private Seri Insan Secondary School.

Pix 5 - Part of the huge crowd and patriotic Malaysians who thronged the town field since 6pm and stayed on even until midnight after the VIPs left, as the performers returned to the stage.

Pix 6 - This local trio comprising (from left) Velvet, Marsha and Felix were favourites with the crowd. Felix was the 1st runner-up in the 2005 Akademi Fantasia (Fantasy Academy) finals while Marsha and Velvet were finalists in 2005 and 2006 respectively.

Pix 7 - Patriotism knows no bounds, as shown by this disabled young lady in wheelchair (right). This is what I call true patriotism and I think she has put to shame those who preferred to watch the event on TV in the comfort of their homes.

Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!