Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Coffee or Tea, Sir?

My previous post, My Last Post for 2008, uploaded a few hours ago, was supposed to have been my last for this year.

However, a comment by a visitor and fellow-blogger,Ben, prompted me to post this one. He was referring to my plan to stop taking coffee come tomorrow. He said and I quote: "Why no more coffee? Can't be that bad for you, is it?" (Obviously he is a coffee fan.)

Well, you see brother, it's not just the coffee. With it goes the sugar and that's exactly what I'm trying to avoid. I'm a diabetic brother.

But that's not the only reason. I have with me a newspaper cutting with the heading: "What Can You Do To Prevent Bad Breath?" In it is listed 8 Dos & Don'ts - one of them being: Drink plenty of fluids and avoid coffee.

That's not the end of the story. I know that at least one church, the Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA), forbids or at least does not encourage its members to drink coffee. The reason? Strictly health. Coffee has caffeine. It is for the same reason that SDA followers do not smoke. I am not a SDA church member but the point is: If a church deems it fit to include it in their Don'ts list, just imagine the harm that it may bring.

People at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Starbucks, SF Coffee, etc may not like this. But this does not mean that I will not patronise them anymore. I will, especially Coffee Bean. The reason? They still serve tea. I can take tea without sugar but not coffee.

I have another press cutting which says: "Tea is good for the brain, slows down cell degeneration and keeps the mind sharp into old age, scientists in Singapore say after 4-year study."

When I'm at Coffee Bean and the others, of course I will take the opportunity to taste the mostly imported brands of tea. But when I'm at home, I drink Sabah Tea to support our local product. Or if I run out of Sabah Tea, then it would be Peninsular Malaysia-grown tea like Teh Boh or Lipton's. Charity begins at home.

Before I conclude, just a couple of jokes on coffee and tea. In the good old days of MAS and before the birth of Air Asia, coffee and tea were served even on domestic flights. Joke 1 - Air hostess: How would you like your tea served? Passenger: In a cup! Joke 2: Coffee or tea, sir? Passenger: Milo!

By the way, I'm at home and it's now 10.30pm, one-and-a-half hours away from 2009. My family members and in-laws are having Bar-B-Q. Once again, Happy and Prosperous New Year!

My Last Post for 2008

In a few hours' time from now, we will be saying goodbye to 2008 and welcome 2009.

I am not supposed to be posting anymore until tomorrow, 1st January 2009 - New Year, New Beginning. Also in line with my New Year Resolutions which, among others, will say at least One Post A Day for my Blog.

But it's also my New Year Resolutions which made me write this post which I didn't plan to. You see, one of my resolutions is no more coffee and sugar starting 2009!

I have an hour or so to play around with while waiting for my son to finish work. And what better place to pass the time than Coffee Beans at Wisma Merdeka which is just a stone throw from his office.

The smoking area of Coffeebeans on the pavement of Wisma Merdeka.

Yep, I am blogging to you from Coffee Beans - complete with my last cup of coffee for 2008 and hopefully the rest of my life. The place is almost full inside but the few tables outside (smoking zone) are surprisingly empty; considering that we are a few hours away from the New Year.

The empty seats on the pavement as I'm blogging after 4pm.

As I was walking to Coffee Beans from where my car was parked, I noticed that the streets are not as busy as other working days. This is not only because people are already busy getting ready for their New Year Bar-B-Q or whatever, but also because it's Sabahan civil servants' nature to give themselves half-day off on eves of festive holidays.

An almost deserted Pantai street after 4pm on New Year's eve.

A traffic-free street after 4pm on New Year's eve.

I see two young adults next table with laptops. Wonder if they are bloggers too. Places like Coffeebeans, Starbucks, SF Coffee or for that matter any place with wi-fi are sure hits with young people who are IT-savvy. What they do - blogging, gaming, e-mailing, chatting, live messeging, watching movies, or just showing off their new netbooks - doesn't matter. What seems to matter nowadays is to be seen to be IT-savvy in public places like these.

I plan to post again just before midnite to wish all my visitors a Happy New Year. But experience tells me better to do it earlier, just like texting or sms.Everyone tends to post or send sms when the clock strikes twelve to usher in the New Year and therefore the lines may be jammed.

So, here you are, to all my visitors and my fellow-bloggers from Guik.Net (From Sabah to the World) - here is wishing you a very very Happy, Prosperous and Blessed New Year 2009!!!

Hope to have you back visiting my blog soon. And if you don't see a new post each day, please feel free to 'tegur' (reprimand) me.

Cheers! (with my last cup of coffee).

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Have a Blessed Christmas

Just got home from the so-called 'Midnite Mass' or Christmas Vigil Mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.

"So-called" because in my younger days the Holy Mass on Christmas Eve would really be held around midnight, or at least end when it was nearly midnight. But in more recent years, the 'midnite mass' seemed to have started earlier and earlier. But this was more for logistical reasons than anything else, bearing in mind the size of the crowd and traffic control and to make it easier for children and the elderly.

In the case of tonite, the Mass started at 9.00pm as scheduled and, despite the huge crowd, ended at around 10.30pm. A weekend Mass would normally last just slightly over an hour.

Just like other Christmas or Easter occassions, the parishioners strated entering the church (or rather cathedral) as early as 6.00pm, 3 hours before the Mass was to begin. By 7.00pm, the Cathedral was already almost full. How I wish they are equally faithful throughout the year, as pointed out from time to time by the priests themselves.

In order to keep the crowd entertained, the Children Liturgy staged a play at 7.15pm and it lasted for about half-an-hour. The Sacred Heart English Choir then sang from 8.00 to 8.45pm and won big rounds of applause from the congregation. Infact, celebrant Monsignor Primus Jouil at the end of the Mass requested the crowd to give another round of applause to the choir. This time it was thunderous.

Just like other Christmas and Easter occasions, the big crowd spilled out onto the church compound outside and closed-circuit television sets had to be installed to enable the late-comers to follow the proceedings inside. And, needless to say, after the Mass traffic control was a headache for the wardens. So what better way to pass time while waiting for the traffic congestion to ease than paying homage to the crib inside the Cathedral after the Mass. Many also took pictures for rememberance.

The St Simon Church in Likas, the Stella Maris Church in Tanjung Aru and the Church of Mary Immaculate in Luyang, all in Kota Kinabalu, were equally packed and over-flowed. The English Mass at St Simon started at 8pm while the Chinese Mass began at 8.30pm. Traditionally, the Archbishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sabah (formerly Bishop of Kota Kinabalu Diocese), the Rt Rev Datuk John Lee would say Chinese Mass at CMI on Christmas eve and at Sacred Heart English Mass on Christmas morning.

So, to conclude, I wish all my Christian friends and relatives, and of course you my visitors, wherever you are, a Blessed Christmas. I refuse to say Merry Christmas because that seems to imply that Christmas is a time for merry-making and nothing else. As it is, Christmas is already getting more and more commercialised, with the help of Santa Claus which is just a legend. As you open the newspapers lately, there are advertisements everywhere with headings like "Christmas Eve Dinner and Dance" or "Christmas Party with Live Band", as if these take precedence over going to church. And of course, you have the big Christmas Sales and Bargains since November!

May God bless all of us and safely usher us into another new year which is just days away.

(Picture: Pope Benedict XVI blessing children at Vatican on Christmas eve.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Windfall for LPPB Staff

The almost 200 staff of the Sabah Housing and Town Development Authority (LPPB) received an early but timely Christmas and New Year present from their employer today. They will receive a 2-month extra 'bonus' soon. This was announced by LPPB general manager Jenar Lamdah at the annual gathering of the state government agency in Kota Kinabalu, state capital of Sabah today.
Jenar (2nd right) presents a souvenir to Hajiji. In the centre is Rubin.

The Guest-of-Honour at the inaugural gathering was the Sabah Minister for Local Government and Housing, Datuk Haji Hajiji Haji Noor who according to Jenar had approved the payment.
Maimunah receives her award from Hajiji. On the left is Ghulam.

"However, not every staff will get the 'bonus' based on their 2 months' basic salary. This is because it is a performance-based incentive rather than actual bonus," Jenar clarified.
LPPB Employee of the Year 2008 - Ahmad Shah.

The LPPB incentive payment is in addition to the one-month bonus announced by the Malaysian federal government and Sabah state government some months ago. However, the government bonus was paid in two instalments, with the 2nd half paid recently together with the civil servants' salaries for December.
Badariah receives her award from Hajiji. Others are (l-r) Ghulam & Rubin.

But that was not an incentive payment and every government officer gets one month's basic salary as bonus. This means that if a hard-working LPPB officer qualifies for two full-months' incentive, he would have altogether receive a total of 3 months' bonus this year alone. So for example if an LPPB officer's basic salary is $5,000, he would altogether get an additional $15,000. Not bad working for a government agency huh?
Nancy getting her award from the Minister. Others are (l-r) Ghulam, Rubin & Rosnani.

The Minister said he appoved LPPB's request for the incentive because the agency's new management managed to increase its profit for 2008 to almost 5-fold comapred to last year! In 2007, LPPB only made $3.1 million but this year the surplus jumped to$16.8 million.
Harry....Long service - 32 years. On the right is Rosnani.

Jenar attributed the major increase to, among others, agressive collection of arrears owed by tenants and buyers of LPPB's houses. There are two types of houses built by the government for the lower-income group - those for rent (at a low rate) and those for sale (at an affordable price). Jenar took over as General Manager of LPPB middle of this year and Hajiji said he was impressed, so far.

From Minister to Judin. On the left is Ghulam.

Also present at the gathering were Hajiji's assistant minister, Datuk Ghulam Khan; LPPB chairman, Datuk Rubin Balang; and Jenar's deputy, Hajjah Rosnani Hj Asmat. Hajjah Rosnani, LPPB's former Administration & Human Resource Manager, took over Jenar's former post as Deputy GM when the latter was promoted.

Dayang with her award. In the centre is Rubin.

Meanwhile, eight staff of LPPB were given the Excellent Service Award for 2008. They received their awards from the Minister. They were Ahmad Shah Yacob, Hajjah Maimunah Hj Daud, Judin Sitin, Badariah Tanakal, Dayang Asimah, Nancy Johnson, Harry Sibungkil, and Siti Mukini. Ahmad Shah, a Town & Regional Planning Officer, was also named the LPPB Employee of the Year 2008.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

No Datukship for Politicians

I know I have not been blogging for almost a month. I was taking a year-end break, so that come 1 Jan 2009 I would 'relaunch' my blog with new vigour as part of my New Year's Resolutions.

However, the frontpage headline story of today's Star, Malaysia's 'people's paper', caught my attention and I can't help but write something about it and hence this post.

The banner headline says "Datuk freeze" while the sub-heading is "Sultan: No awards for politicians this year". The 'Sultan' referred to is His Royal Highness the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah (pic). For the benefit of my non-Malaysian readers, Selangor is one of the 13 States which make up Malaysia. Out of these States, only 9 have Rulers including Sultans (who take turn every 5 years to become the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong or King) while 4 are governed by the Yang Di-Pertua Negeri (Governor).

As the heading suggests, the Sultan in an unprecedented move is not going to award any Datukship (roughly equivalent to Sir in Britain) to any politician on his birthday next on Dec 11. The conferment of State awards (as opposed to Federal titles in the case of the King's birthday) has been a tradition by the Rulers and Governors and the King on their official birthdays. Although the awards are also given to non-politicians including foreigners (honourary titles), nonetheless politicians make up a large portion of the annual lists.

What also attracted my attention in today's Star was the fact that the frontpage story was written by the leading paper's editor Wong Chun Wai himself. Wong, himself a Datuk although he was too humble to add it to his name, was granted an exclusive interview by the Sultan. This speaks volume for the credibility of the story, the writer and the paper. Wong, to me at least, is one of Malaysia's most senior, if not the top, journalists and is influential. His weekly column, On The Beat, and his blog, attract huge following.

Now back to the story. Appearing alongside the frontpage story and below the headline is a quote together with the Sultan's picture. It goes like this: "There is no such thing as a quota for the MB or myself. We agree it should not be freely given to maintain its prestige."

Now let us relate this statement of the Sultan to my beloved home State, Sabah. It is an open secret that out of the 20-30 or so Datukship awarded annually, at least a few would fall under the Governor's 'quota' - meaning decided by the Governor himself while the rest would be the choice of the State Government or to be exact the Chief Minister. Normally, people who get their Datukship through the Governor direct would have slimmer chances if their 'applications' were to go through the Chief Minister. These 'privileged few' would normally not be politicians or veterans from the NGOs or industry captains who would qualify under the State Government's list. In other words, it is up to the Governor to give his 'quota' of the few Datukships each year to practically anybody, except criminals may be, but including businessmen from a neighbouring State who failed to become Datuks in their own State. It is, after all, his birthday.

But only a Sultan can make the kind of statement or decision as what the Selangor Sultan did. This is because the MB (Chief Minister) will have to listen to him for he is the Ruler of the State FOR LIFE unless he abdicates. He can sack the MB anytime if he wants to even if the MB's party controls the House (State Assembly). But not so in the case of a Governor as in the case of Sabah. Although officially the Governor is appointed by the King after consultation with the Prime Minister, the ruling party in the State through the Chief Minister technically makes the choice. The Sabah Governor is appointed for a four-year term and must not serve more than two terms. So, the Governor, though being No 1 in his State protocol-wise, normally listens to the Chief Minister unless he is nearing the end of his 2nd term or does not intent to serve more than one term. So, there is indeed a CM's quota and a Governor's quota in Sabah and most probably in the three other States with Governors as well.

Another quote from the Selangor Sultan which caught my attention and which I cannot agree more with is: "There will be no politicians - either from the past or present State government.

"The present state government is barely right months old. Even a pregnancy is nine months.

"I am sure there are deserving cases in the present state government but let us wait first. Let them focus on their work, not awards or rewards. Titles need not come with positions," he said.

The present Selangor state government of Pakatan Rakyat or People's Alliance comprising Keadilan, PAS and DAP defeated the UMNO-led BN which had ruled the state or for that matter Malaysia for half-a-century since the birth of the nation. The Menteri Besar or Chief Minister is from Keadilan or Justice Party led by Malaysian Opposition ledaer and former Deputy Premier Anwar Ibrahim.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Change has come to America

To understand the above cartoon, please read my post on 27 Feb 2008 under the heading "Obama for Malaysia?". Go to my Blog Archive on the left column and click on Feb 2008.

Barack Obama waving to supporters after claiming victory in Chicago. "Change has come to America," he said to thunderous applause by a quarter million people. He had campaigned on a platform of 'Change We Can Believe In".

Some say the American dream is fulfilled. Some call it the Impossible Dream having come true. Some say history has been created in USA. Some call it a victory for the American people. Some say the defining moment is here. Some call it a victory for racial equality and freedom in America. Barack Obama himself, in his victory speech in Chicago just hours ago, said "Change has come to America".

Call it whatever you like. Say whatever you want. The important thing is Barack Obama has won and USA will have an African-American president come January, the swearing-in date. The 44th President of USA is black, or at least half-black (Barack's mother was white), just imagine. Just last year, when Barack launched his bid for the presidency, this seemed almost unbelievable if not impossible. Even becoming the first black Democrat nominee for the American presidential election would in itself make history and a remarkable achievement. Getting elected as the first black president? You must be joking, many would have said just a year or two ago.

Whatever it is, thank you Lord for answering my prayer. I believe this was also the dream of millions of Kenyans, Africans, Indonesians and Malaysians (the husband of Barack's half-sister is from Sabah in east Malaysia). But, more importantly, it was the dream of millions and millions of US citizens especially African-Americans. After all, it's their dream - the American Dream made famous by the late Dr Martin Luther King when he said "I have a dream....that one day an American will not be judged by the colour of his skin..."

Today, Nov 4 2008, the American Dream seems to have come true. May be not entirely but at least it was a big, big step towards the realisation of that dream. As I had written yesterday, it's a far cry from the day when the first African slaves set foot on America soil. It's a far cry from the day when a black lady was fined or jailed for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white, the incident which gave birth to the civil rights movement. It's a far cry from the day when Dr King led almost a million people to march to Washington DC to deliver that famous speech of his. By the way, thousands of members of the church founded by the late pastor Reverend King turned up at their church compound to celebrate Obama's victory. To them, a fellow African-American has finally completed the journey that Dr King started. Praise the Lord!

Once again, thank you Lord. May your will be done. And to those who voted for Obama, thank you and may God bless you. For those who did not vote for Obama, may God bless you too, for our God is a loving God. Halleluyah!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Final Appeal to Americans

This is my final appeal to the Americans in general and US ladies in particular - vote for Obama.

As you all know, Obama is good husband and father; apart from being a good leader with vision and proven quality and popularity. On the other hand, McCain left his first wife for his present wife. McCain's first wife was a beauty queen or model when they married. Then McCain left for Vietnam. Then the first wife met with a terrible accident which disfigured her. Even shortened her, literally. She suffered for months if not years on a hospital bed. Luckily a good samaritan paid for her bills. Then McCain came back and found out that she was no longer the beauty that she used to know. Finally he left her for his present wife whose father was wealthy.

(Click on image for a larger view)

Dear Americans, if McCain can do that to his wife, what wouldn't he do to you? Just think, before you cast that precious vote. If he can betray his own family, whom wouldn't he betray if he becomes President? Ask yourself this question, especially the women voters.

Thank you and God bless America. Have a pleasant Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas in advance.
(Click on image for a larger view)

You Americans pride yourselves as model, leader and champion of the world. You talk about justice. You talk about freedom. You talk about equal opportunity. You talk about racial equality and religious tolerance. You pride yourselves as a Superpower and advanced country. Preach what you say, prove to the world by allowing a black (after all his mum was white) to be your President. If you can do that, you have my respect as well as that of millions if not billions across the world.
(Click on image for a larger view)

Will you make history? If Obama wins, it will be a far cry from the day the first African slaves landed on American soil. It will be a far cry from the day when a black woman was fined or jailed for refusing to give up her seat on the bus for a white, which sparked off the American human rights movement. It will be a far cry from the day when the late Martin Luther King Jr led millions in the march towards Washington DC. If Obama wins, Dr King's "American Dream" would finally be fulfilled and his assasination would not have been in vain.

May God bless and protect those who vote for Obama.

Friday, October 10, 2008

And the scamble begins...

Now that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has announced that he will not defend the UMNO presidency in March, the scramble has began for the party's top posts. This is best summed-up by the frontpage headline of today's New Straits Times, Malaysia's oldest English daily which is linked to UMNO.  (See image above. For a larger view, click on it.)
(To be continued  shortly...)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Living Wall Features Me!

Yesterday I wrote a post titled: "M'sia PM: Guessing Game Over" following the announcement by Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that he would not defend the UMNO Presidency in March 2009 and would step down as premier by then.

Today I received a comment on my post. It was from My Living Wall ( which greets its visitors with the tag line: "You are now looking at Malaysia's best blog spots, commentaries & cartoons."

My Living Wall's comment on my post read like this: "Excellent post, Mr Sikmading. Will feature your post in our website: and link our readers to your blog. All the best!"

Upon checking this site, I found that they reproduced my whole article under their Featured Post on their Home Page; except they changed the heading to : "Malaysia PM: Guessing game over, scrambling begins" and changed my photograph of Pak Lah and Najib to the image above. But of course, they credited my blog at the end of the article, as they said they would.

I mention this not to show off. It's more because for a blogger who has yet to earn a single cent from advertisement like me, this is the best consolation one can get. There is no greater satisfaction than knowing that there are people who actually appreciate or think highly of your blog or posts or writings to the extent that they feature it in their sites or blogs. That, I think, is even better than a few miserable dollars from the advertisements, no offence meant.

Infact, by rewriting or expanding the original title of my yesterday's post, My Living Wall just gave me an idea for the tile of my next post which I hope to write after posting this one if I won't fall asleep. Age is catching on with me. When your are in your fifties, you can't pretend that you are still in your 40s, let alone thirties.

Hope to meet you again shortly.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

M'sian PM: Guessing Game Over

The guessing game on whether Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (right in pix, seen with deputy Najib) will defend his presidency of UMNO, backbone of Malaysia's ruling coalition BN in March 2009, is finally over.

After weeks of speculation and intense speculations and lobbying by interested parties even right up to the last minute, Pak Lah (as he is fondly referred to) told the BN supreme council in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon that he had decided not to defend the post he first held in 2003 after taking over from Dr Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister.

The UMNO president is normally also the Malaysian Prime Minister. Similarly, the deputy president is the deputy premier. This has been the tradition since Malaya gained Independence from Britain in 1957. Malaya teamed up with former British colonies Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore to form Malaysia in 1963. However, Singapore left the federation in 1965. No Sabahan or Sarawakian has ever been Prime Minister. UMNO is non-existent in Sarawak while the highest post in UMNO held by a Sabahan is that of Supreme Councillor, above whom you have the 3 Vice Presidents, Deputy President and President.

Dissident voices calling on Pak Lah to step down first surfaced soon after the premier led the BN to its worst disastrous election outing since 1969 in March 2008. In the March election, BN lost its control of two-thirds of the 222 parliamentary seats as well as five state governments, something unprecedented. But we are not even talking about calls from the Opposition here. We are talking about calls from within his own ruling coalition of BN and UMNO.

Among the earliest to call on Pak Lah to resign were former Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah who has also made known his intention to contest he UMNO presidency. This would be Razaleigh's third attempt to wrest the presidency, after narrowly losing to then PM Dr Mahathir in 1987. That contest led to the creation of Team A and Team B in UMNO. Interstingly, Pak Lah was in Razaleigh's Team B, running for the vice-presidency. Both Razaleigh and his running-mate for the deputy presidency, Tun Musa Hitam, lost. Thus, Pak Lah was the highest party official from Team B to win. In the 2004 party election, Razaleigh again made known is intention to contest the presidency against Pak Lah but failed to get the minimum number of nominations required from UMNO divisions. But why would Razaleigh 'sabotage' his former B Team mate instead of supporting him?. An observer pointed out this was probably because Razaleigh was sore that Pak Lah, his former 'junior' in both Team B and the government, did not make good use of Razaleigh's vast experience and seniority by appointing him to a senior post in both the government and party, for example a minister in a senior portfolio. Razaleigh was also once Trade and Industry Minister, a senior portfolio.

Another dissident who openly called for Pak Lah's resignation after the March election was Jerlun Member of Parliament, Mukhriz Mahathir. Mukhriz is son of Dr Mahathir who was Malaysian PM for 22 years from 1981. But why would Mukhriz attack his father's chosen successor? The answer is simple. While the first year was 'honeymoon' period, Dr Mahathir started criticising his succssor openly starting the 2nd year of Pak Lah's reign. The former Premier accused Pak Lah, among other things, of deviating from established policies and cancelling major projects started by Mahathir. Matters came to a head when Mahathir left UMNO a few months ago, saying he would only return when Pak Lah was no longer president.

But while Razaleigh and Mukhriz's public outbursts were understandable as they had an axe to grind and nothing to lose, what raised eye brows was the subsequent calls by Muhyiddin Yassin. This is because apart from being one of the 3 UMNO vice-presidents, he is also a senior minister in Pak Lah's Cabinet. Infact, ever since his public outbursts, Malaysians had expected Pak Lah to remove Muhyiddin from the Cabinet while others expected Muhyiddin to resign. "In Western countries, when you disagree you disassociate," said an observer. But then again, this is Malaysia. Pak Lah, being the 'Mr Nice Guy' that he is, did not sack Muhyiddin and neither did the latter resign.

As if that was not enough, the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), a component part of BN, had on 18 June 2008 declared it had lost confidence on Pak Lah as PM and threathened to move a motion of no-confidence against the premier in Parliament. SAPP left the coaliton on 17 September 2008.

In July, Pak Lah announced a transition plan whereby he would hand over power to Najib by June 2010. He would in the meantime defend his UMNO presidency in December. But that did not stop the critics. Instead, criticisms intensified, saying that the transition period was too long and wanted Pak Lah to leave after the December party polls - meaning Pak Lah should not even defend his presidency.

Then last month, Pak Lah postponed the party polls to March 2009, saying that it had something to do with hastening the transition plan. Although he still did not say when he would go, his action was understood to mean that he would not defend the presidency in March and hand over to Najib by then. He said he would announce his decision by October 9, the day UMNO divisions begin nominating candidates for the party top posts including that of the presidency. He had one day before the September meeting handed over the important Finance portfolio which he has held since becoming PM to Najib, a move seen as pacifying dissidents.

With Pak Lah's long-awaited announcement today, Najib is almost certain to be the next PM and UMNO president come March. This is assuming that he would not be challenged for the presidency. So far, only Tengku Razaleigh has made known his intention to contest the post. "But even if Najib is challenged, he is expected to win hands down. After all, Razaleigh may not even get the mimumum nominations required to contest just like 3 years ago," said the observer.

Will UMNO under Najib be rejuvenated and will the Najib-led BN deliver a better showing in the next election, just like Pak Lah's good showing in 2004? Only time will tell. In the meantime, Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said his plans to seize power through defection of BN MPs is still on although no new date has been fixed. He missed his first dateline of 16 September 2008 by which time he said he would be the Prime Minister.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Tale of Two Photos

The above photo was e-mailed to me by a friend. It is the front cover or sleeve of the debut album of a band from Tamparuli called Papier Mache released in September.
Band from Tamparuli releasing an album? This was unheard of during my bandboy days between the late 1960s ad early 1970s.  Those days,  for a local band like  ours to go for  recording  at  RTM, Sabah's  radio and tv station, was already a big deal. Releasing an album would be beyond our wildest dream, among the reasons being lack of sponsors or opportunities and facilities.

Don't get me wrong. I am not jealous of Papier Mache. On the contrary, it is still a dream come true for me in the sense that at long last a band from my hometown has cut an album, or rather CD which was of course not yet invented during my time. Those days, it was still the black or vinyl record or 'piring hitam' in the Malay language.

But of course we are talking about a different generation here. Most, if not all, of the 7 members of Papier Mache were not even born or at most were toddlers when I was a bandboy. All the same, congratulations guys! You kept the flag flying. 

The best part of it is that two of Papier Mache's songs were even in English, which means they may even penetrate into the global market. You never know. Remember the story of the Korean (or was it Japanese?) guy who posted his song on YouTube and became famous worldwide? So to the Papier Mache, all the best!
For more infor on Papier Mache's debut album or to purchase their CD or cassette go to 
By the way, in view of the title of this post, you may wonder where is the other photo or what is it about. Here it is, below. This photo was taken in a studio (those days still black-and-white lah!) in Tamparuli in 1968. Name of the band? The Hornbill.

Why were we called the Hornbill when that is the national bird of our nighbouring State of Sarawak? Honestly, I don't know. The leader of the band said so and we just followed. Anyway, the Hornbill was my second band. My first band, in 1967, was called The Scorpions!
By the way, you must be wondering how come got two middle-aged men (seated left and right) in the photo. They were neither musicians nor singers. They were our Managers! Both of them have since passed away, so did the band leader cum lead guitarist. May their souls rest in peace. But of course, way back in1968, they would never dream that one day their faces would appear on the Internet which was of course unheard of those days.
Which one in the picture was me? No price for guessing.   

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri

Time flies and it's that time of the year again when Muslims all over the world including Malaysia celebrate Hari Raya Aidil Fitri. It is also known as Hari Raya Puasa. Puasa in the Malay language means Fasting. Thus, Hari Raya Puasa celebrates the end of a month of fasting which began on September 1.

Hari Raya Puasa is one of the two most important days in a year for the Muslims; the other being Hari Raya Aidil Adha which will be held later this year. It is also known as Hari Raya Haji, named after the Haj season in the Holy Land of Mecca. Both Hari Rayas (which means Day of Celebration) are public holidays in Malaysia. Islam is the official religion of Malaysia but the practice of other religions is guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.

I wish all my Muslim friends, wherever they may be, Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri!

(Note: Selamat literally means 'safe' but Selamat Hari Raya would be better translated as 'Happy Hari Raya' as in Happy New Year.)

Fly Me To The Moon

When I was a kid, among the many fairy tales that I learned in the Chinese primary school was the story behind the Mooncake Festival, otherwise known as the Mid-Autumn Festival as it is held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calender.

There were a few versions of the story, but the most popular of which concerned a Chinese King or Emperor who became a tyranny or dictator. He was growing old and was afraid of death. So he instructed China's best medicine men to find him a magic pill which would make him immortal and live forever. Never mind the King's name, I forgot. Even if I didn't, it would be difficult to translate Chinese names into English. He was a tyranny anyway.

After some time, the magic pill was found and delivered to the Emperor. His wife, the Empress, found out about it. She became worried that if the Emperor swallowed the pill, the Chinese people would suffer even longer under his reign of terror. So she swallowed it herself!

When the Emperor found out, he was of course mad. He chased her, apparently to cause her harm. Then, suddenly, with her new-found power, and out of desperation, she flew to the moon. Thus, the Chinese people made and ate mooncake yearly to remember her. This year's Mooncake Festival was held a couple of weeks ago.

That, of course was just a fairy tale, or as they say in the Malay language, cerita dongeng. But who would imagine that hundreds of years later, the Chinese would be able to fly to the moon, literally.

I am referring, of course, to the success of the recent Chinese space mission. Although it was just a 15-minute space walk, it was nonetheless half the battle won and I am sure walking on the moon would be next on the agenda of the Chinese. Infact, because it was the first space walk by the Chinese, an English dictionary even adopted the Chinese version of the word Astronaut, which is Taikonaut!

The three Taikonauts have since returned to earth safely, needless to say to a hero's welcome. At the time the first mooncake was made hundreds of years ago, who would have imagine that the Empress may soon end her lonliness on the moon by receiving Chinese visitors!

The success of the Chinese space mission came hot on the heels of another recent success by China - that of the successful hosting of the Olympic Games. Only a few decades ago, when millions of impoverished, hungry and sick Chinese were dying under the new Communist government of Chairman Mao Tze Dong, who would have imagine that one day China would host the Olympic Games and send astronauts into space!

Of course. I regret to add that in between these two historic events in China, there was the unfotunate incident of the tainted milk scandal which caused thousands of children to be sick or down with kidney stones. But then again, which country in the world did not have a scandal or crisis? America? After all, the milk scandal was not the doing of the government but a few selfish individuals, just like the present financial crisis in the US was not the doing of the government.

I am sure millions of Chinese living outside China all over the world, me included, are proud of the two recent Chinese successes. Well done, China. Keep it up and congratulations!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy Silver Wedding Jubilee

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a Mass at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Kota Kinabalu; being part of the choir. The Mass was in conjunction with the Silver Jubilee of the Wedding Anniversary of Mr Saniban Amphila and Winnie Francis, both of whom originated from Tuaran but have now settled down in Kota Kinabalu where Winnie works. Saniban is a Native Chief, a community leader of the Kadazandusun people in Tuaran.

The celebrant of the Mass was Rev. Monsignor Primus Jouil while music was provided by the Benevolent Ministry of the Bethel Prayer Group of Sacred Heart.

In his homily, Fr. Primus said one should not take a Silver Wedding Jubilee for granted anymore for in this modern world more and more marriages ended up being broken. This is especially true among the younger generation especially those who are less deeply rooted in religion and less forgiving. In this respect, he congratulated Saniban and Winnie for being still together after 25 years.

Needless to say, those present and happiest were children of the couple, relatives, close friends and colleagues.


Saniban and Winnie with their lovely children

One for the album in front of the Chapel

The couple flanked by family friends and priest

The Holy Communion

The Offertory
The priest said "You may now kiss the bride". But I guess after 25 years it is not easy huh!
Take my ring, Saniban....

You're still mine, Winnie....

Blessing of the rings

Let us be joined again....

Till death do us apart....

Saying I do all over again....

Can't wait for the ceremony to begin....

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What's Next, Anwar?

I have not written anything about the Permatang Pauh by-election for the last two weeks partly because I got fed-up with all the mud-slinging, name-calling, accusations and counter-accusations; most of which are personal in nature instead of trying to win over voters through policies. (Refer to my earlier posts about even politicians themselves getting fed-up between June and July)

Anyway, now that the result is out, I got to write something about it. If anything, at least I want to put the frontpage of today's Star (pix above), Malaysia's leading tabloid daily, on record. As I have said before, my experience with the archives has taught me to save in my computer whatever is important historically. Not just for myself, but also for the benefit of our future generations and non-Malaysians visitors of my blog.

As usual, I have chosen to reproduce the Star because of its appropriate heading plus a huge photograph of Anwar Ibrahim and his wife Azizah on its frontpage. (Click on the image for a larger view) Most of the government or ruling party-controlled media played down Anwar's victory. The UMNO-controlled New Straits Times, Star's rival, carried a banner headline saying "It's Anwar as expected".

RTM, the government TV station, in its news analysis this morning also described Anwar's victory as "as expected". It even went ahead to say that Anwar's victory was nothing to shout about as his margin of majority was only slightly higher than that of his wife. Azizah, who stood in for Anwar while the former Deputy Premier was in jail and later barred from election, obtained a 13,000+ majority in March this year while Anwar's was 15,000+. The last time he contested while still Deputy Prime Minister in 1995, his majority was 23,000+ which was even more than that of the then Prime Minister.

Following Anwar's election yesterday, there were rumours that he would be sworn-in only next week (September); thus missing the 2009 Malaysian Budget presentation by the Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi in Parliament Friday. However, the Speaker announced this morning that Anwar could be sworn-in tomorrow, in time for the Budget speech which will be telecast live over local TV.

And the Opposition certainly wasted no time. This afternoon the coalition of Anwar's PKR, the Chinese-based DAP and Islamic party PAS informed the Speaker of their choice of Anwar as Parliamentary Opposition Leader, replacing Azizah who resigned as MP on July 31. This means that Anwar will be sitting directly facing the Prime Minister cum Finance Minister who will be presenting the Budget. Previously as DPM, Anwar was seated next to the PM, facing the Opposition bench. What a reversal of fortunes!

However, if you speak to any Opposition supporter, he or she will tell you that Anwar will not be sitting on the Opposition bench for long. This is because Anwar and his supporters have been telling Malaysians that come September 16 (the date which Malaysia was formed in 1963), the Opposition coalition collectively known as Pakatan Rakyat (People's Alliance) would be the government.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) needs 30 government backbenchers from the ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front) to cross over for it to form the government. It won only 82 parliament seats in the March 8 election, described as Malaysia's political Tsunami, as opposed to BN's 140. 'Tsunami' because in the last Parliament, there were only 20-odd opposition MPs. In addition, the opposition also won 5 of Malaysia's 13 states in March.

But events since March 8 had shown that moving a vote of no-confidence against the Prime Minister in Parliament is easier said than done, let alone winning it! After the Budget tabling on Friday, the Malaysian Parliament will take a month-long break due to the Muslim fasting month. Islam is the official religion of Malaysia and normally official functions are minimised during the holy month of Ramadan.

This means that the Opposition can forget about the September 16 dateline if the no-confidence method is to be used. Another possible method is for Anwar to present to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong (Malaysian King) a list containing signatures of MPs supporting him to be the new PM; assuming he has the number by then as claimed. Even then, the King is not obliged to invite the Opposition leader to form the government. Even then, the incumbent PM may challenge it in court since his 'losing of control' has not been proven in Parliament.

On top of that, it is not easy to get 30 MPs to jump. A few may be easy, but 30 won't be as easy as the BN is still firmly in control. Infact, the Malaysian government is so powerful that one would think twice before jumping. There is the dreaded Internal Security Act or famously known as ISA which allows detention without trail. The government also controls the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) which decides who gets investigated or charged. Then of course, there is the Income Tax thing.

To illustrate my point further, it has been three months since Sabah Progrssie Party or SAPP, a member of the ruling coalition, dropped a bombshell saying it had lost confidence in the Prime Minister and BN chairman Abdullah. At that time, many people thought that would be the end of Pak Lah (the PM's nick name) as an exodus or snowball effect was expected to follow. But SAPP has only two MPs and nobody else followed and even then the duo are officially still BN MPs! Three months later, Pak Lah is still the PM and the no-confidence motion threathened by SAPP has still not been moved! Azizah tried once but her motion didn't even get debated!

Any PR or SAPP supporter reading this may say that I am pro-BN. But if I were pro-BN, I would not have reproduced the Star's frontpage above. I am just a blogger who is trying to be objective and credible. If you read my writings since last year, you would know that I try to be unbiased. But as I have said before my experience as a reporter tells me that no matter how you write, there is always people unhappy.

A true journalist or blogger's job is not to make people happy. We are NOT entertainers. We are writers who hope to establish a name or following for ourselves. There is no greater satisfaction than knowing that people can't wait to read what you write next. Of course, I concede that in this world there may be mercenary writers but I am not one of them. Read my writings from the start and judge for yourselves.

Besides, I didn't say that it is impossible for the Opposition to topple the government or for Anwar to take over as PM. All I am saying is given the present circumstances, September 16 is perhaps no longer a tangible date. The real show will only begin when Parliament sitting resumes in October. Even then, the Speaker can find excuses to block any no-confidence motion if he wants to.

So, Anwar, what's next? By the way, congrats.

(P/S: By the way, to give credit where it is due, I salute DPM Najib who was BN's director of operations for the Permatang Pauh by-election for congratulating Anwar and accepting the decision of the voters. It is a good start to try to win back the voters come next election.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Taking Care of Twins

Yesterday, I surfed the Net after not having done so for over a week; just came back from KL after visiting my son who is studying there.

And as usual, among the first sites I visited was Giuk.Net, our beloved 'From Sabah to the World' portal. The most popular post there yesterday was "How to take care (of) your twins in one shot!" by PapaJoneh. (

The title of his post spoke for itself. It's about how our local blogger friend, PapaJoneh, had to take care of his by now one-year-old twin boys. Normally, I wouldn't bother to read on by clicking on the heading. Not that I'm not your fan PapaJoneh or that I don't like kids, but it's simply that I try to read as many blogs as possible in one day, especially political ones and news portals and time therefore is the essence. I'm sure most of us are choosy of what we read because of time factor.

But something happened during my recent KL trip which made me want to read more about what PapaJoneh had to say yesterday. You see, while in KL my wife and I stayed with my niece (my brother's daughter) who is married to a West Malaysian Chinese. Their situation is just like PapaJoneh and his wife's. They also have a few-year-old elder son and a pair of younger twin boys! Except that their children are slightly older than PapaJoneh's.

Before the KL trip, my wife and I always took for granted the joy of having twins. We did not realise the real implications or the 'pains' or difficulties that parents of twins (what more triplets!) had to go through in bringing them up, especially the first few years. But after spending a few days with my niece (and her twins) we realised how hard it actually is in looking after twins.

For example, when one cries the other also cries. When one is ill somehow the other one also falls ill. And one is always jealous of the other and always competing with each other in vying for their mum's (not so much dad) attention. Even when my niece is driving, both twins want to sit on her lap! Luckily her car had automatic gear and luckily no traffic summons so far!

Now I know why there's a saying that "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Rules The World". But in PapaJoneh's case it's "The Foot That Rocks The Cradle Rules The World!" (See the picture below and you will know what I mean.) How ingenious! Memang kau boleh PapaJoneh!

Below is a picture of PapaJoneh's elder son, Josh, taking a closer look at his two younger brothers, about a year or so ago.

However, my niece said, despite all the 'sufferings', her 'pains' went away whenever she sees her twins playing happily together or whenever they say 'Mummy' or 'Papa'. Although the elder twin is more stingy, he is however protective of his younger brother. One incident that really made me laugh was when the the two-year-old older twin 'scolded' his four-year-old older brother for making the younger twin cry. Just imagine, a two-year-old yelling and finger-pointing at his four-year brother; and yet I didn't understand a single word he said!

My niece said sometimes she finds that all the 'sufferings' were worth-it. The following pictures perhaps explains why....

By the time we headed for home, I had a better understanding of the situation parents of twins are in and better appreciation of their problems, especially those in the lower-income group, with due respect. While at the airport waiting for the flight, I was thinking to myself, what more for parents with triplets! Just then, my wife brought to my attention a news item on the TV at the departure lounge - A woman in Eypyt gave birth to seven babies!!!