Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Yam Tuan

pinang pulang ke tampuk,
Seperti sireh pulang ke gagang ..."

The Tunku Besar of Seri Menanti, Tuanku Muhriz ibni Almarhum Tuanku Munawir, was proclaimed as the 11th Yang di-Pertuan Besar or "Yam Tuan" of my home state of Negeri Sembilan yesterday following the death of his uncle, Tuanku Jaafar ibni Almarhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman on Saturday.

The four undang or territorial chieftains from the luak of Sungai Ujong, Johol, Jelebu and Rembau have chosen him over the three princes of the late Tuanku Jaafar. An only son and at the age of 19, Tuanku Muhriz had been passed over by the then undang in 1967 upon the untimely death of his father Tuanku Munawir, the 9th Yam Tuan, as he was considered too young then. His uncle Tuanku Jaafar, then a career diplomat, was installed as Yam Tuan instead.

This must come as a huge relief for many of us orang nogori as we have watched with some anxiety and trepidation over the years the extravagant goings-on in the lives of the Jaafar siblings. Avid party goers, they have been busy filling the high society pages of the Malaysian Tatler, the men elegantly tuxedoed and their women dripping with jewellery. Of late, they have also been featured in the business pages of the local mass media, but perhaps for the wrong reasons.

I do believe the undang yang berempat have made no mistake this time.

P.S: Although he is a few months younger than me, Tuanku Muhriz was one year my senior at the King George V Primary School in Seremban in the late 50's. A good pupil, he had earned a double promotion somewhere along the way.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Season's Greetings

Merry Xmas to all my Christian friends and a Happy New Year 2009 to all.
Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all Men.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Treachery... Again

(Source: The Malaysian Insider)

Transport Minister Ong Tee Keat, who promised a couple of days ago to reveal all in the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) debacle, offered instead a gloating testimonial of his own apparent success in revitalising the scandal-ridden project that helped force his predecessor Chan Kong Choy out of office. Read The Malaysian Insider report, here.

Ong (photo, left) told a press conference today that the PKFZ occupancy rate, employment, investment status and cargo movement have increased since the change of management in May. Occupancy rate for all facilities had also increased, with the leased office block recording the most significant increase from one per cent in March to 19 per cent as of November. For open land and light industrial unit facilities, the occupancy rate is now 18 per cent and 17 per cent respectively. Most importantly, said Ong, was the number of employees in the area which had increased from 972 to 1,659 within the last eight months.

“I still can remember when I first set foot in the area, people said this is a ghost town,” said Ong.

Well, I have got news for you, Ong. I was there a couple of weeks ago and it was still very much a ghost town. The "1659 employees" must be invincible. But I am also personally involved in helping a foreign investor friend set up a factory with 2000 workers in PKFZ to be ready by the end of next year, which I believe will be one of the biggest investments there to date. So dont give us that bull crap.

Ong has also refused to blame his predecessors Ling and Chan. “That is the question that only they can answer at that point of time,” he said.

Which brings us back to square one. If this isnt treachery and deceit, then I dont know what is.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Same Old, Same Old

Sorry folks for the longest break I have had since I started blogging a couple of years ago and believe me, I badly needed one.

Barely a couple of weeks now left before we say bye-bye to 2008, there was really nothing new happening apart from a repeat of an earlier disaster we didnt learn from, the usual crap promises we get prior to a by election, etc.

But for me, the only good news I feel worth mentioning is the fact that the report on the RM5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal will be disclosed to the public by the Ministry of Transport (MoT) either today or tomorrow, so says minister Ong Tee Keat. (Read the Malaysiakini report, here)

Ong told a press conference yesterday that the MoT report would disclose, among other things, the chronology of events both before and after the change of guards at the ministry (under the then-minister Chan Kong Choy), PKFZ and Port Klang Authority (PKA). A separate report is being finalised by independent auditor Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PWC), which will be presented by the PKA as soon as PWC gets the green light from the Ministry of Finance (MoF).

Ong had earlier stated that his ministry's investigation is focused on the qualitative aspects of the matter, while PWC's audit looks at the quantitative aspect. The previous parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chaired by minister Shahrir Samad had failed to complete its probe on the fiasco.

Now lets see whether Ong will walk the talk and whether PWC will ever get the go ahead from MoF.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

My Name is Khan

(Click arrow to play)

Resplendent in black Malay baju, complete with samping and songkok, famous 43-year-old Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan received the Darjah Mulia Seri Melaka (DMSM) award from Malacca state governor Tun Khalil Yaakob yesterday. The award carries the title Datuk and Khan is first foreign actor to be honoured.

The award was supposedly in recognition of Khan's indirect contribution to the local tourism industry, where since the filming of his 2001 movie, One 2 Ka 4 at a popular holiday resort in Malacca, the number of Indian tourists to the state has increased significantly, state officials say.

At a post-investiture press conference, Datuk Shah Rukh Khan also disclosed that he will star in a new movie exploring the issue of Islam in the post 9/11 world and the misperception that all Muslims are terrorists. The movie "My Name is Khan" tells the story of six people with Muslim surnames who suffer suspicion and prejudice years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

"Islam does not in any which way tell you to be violent," Khan said. "I think the whole concept of jihad, the whole concept of warring needs to be explained as Allah meant it to be in the Koran. (The film) is an attempt to try and do that in an entertaining way," he added. Filmmaker Karan Johar will direct while top Bollywood actress Kajol Mukherjee, who has acted in several hit movies with Khan in the past, will co-star. (Read today's The Hindu report, here)

There has been some controversy and protests by a few local artistes over this Malacca award. Although having been "weaned" on the old classics of Dev Anand and the legendary Kapoor brothers, I have never followed Khan's more recent Hindi blockbusters which I believe are very well received globally. But if his new movie succeeds in some measure to dissipate some of the anger and outrage being felt in India and elsewhere over the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, or help bridge the widening gulf between Muslims and non Muslims worldwide, then this state award from Malacca will surely be the least that he will deserve.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha to all Muslim friends.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Invitation to a Forum and Book Launch

A forum on "New Media and Democratization in Malaysia" will be held today Friday, December 5, 2008 from 8.00-10.00pm at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall auditorium. Selangor state assemblyman Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad will be keynote speaker.

The occasion will also witness the launch of a book titled “Blogging and Democratization in Malaysia" and its co-authors Prof. Wan Zawawi Ibrahim and Jun-E Tan, will be present to speak about their work. Other speakers include representatives from the organizations collaborating in the programme.

Members of the public are invited to attend the forum which is jointly organized by the Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI), SIRD-Gerak Budaya, the National Alliance of Bloggers (All-Blogs) and the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH).

The Forum was initiated mainly by the CPI YouthSpeak Section which has the objective of promoting discourse through writings and discussion at the CPI website coordinated by Wan Fadzrul and John Lee, and via public forums such as this, to encourage the youth of Malaysia to take part actively in the democratization process in the country.
THEME: "New Media and Democratization in Malaysia".

Date/time of Forum: Friday, December 5, 8.00pm-10.00pm
Venue: KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall auditorium,
No. 1, Jalan Maharajalela, Kuala Lumpur

1. Welcome speech by YL Chong, Editor, CPI
2. Keynote speaker: YB Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad
3. Wan Fadzrul Wan Bahrum, CPI YouthSpeak Coordinator
4. Yeoh Lee Hin, CPI (Chinese) Web administrator
5. Jun-E Tan, co-author of "Blogging and Democratization in Malaysia"
6. Prof. Wan Zawawi, co-author of “Blogging and Democratization in Malaysia”
7. Teh Yee Keong, KLSCAH Representative
8. Ahirudin Attan, protem President, National Alliance of Bloggers (All-Blogs)
9. Q and A session
10. Refreshments
NOTE: For further information, please contact:
YL Chong: 012-9702285
Helen Ang: 013-2240985

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Letter from Mumbai

My old buddy Capt. Jimmy Shroff in Mumbai writes tongue-in-cheek to the Times of India in response to the anger now being felt in India over the recent terrorist attacks.

His simple suggestion: Have a cup of chai (tea).

Or as they say in Cantonese: Yum cha (飲茶)

To: The Editor, Times of India

Subject: We do care… A cup of tea as follow-up to anger

Dear Sir,

What follows is a suggestion for the formation of an inclusive organization called "CHildren and Adults' Initiative International" or CHAI (International) as a long-term channel not so much in response to the 26-11 terror strike but certainly initiated by the apparently horrible event.

There is no comment on the immediate response being contemplated, whether resulting in armed conflict or not. We may justifiably shatter more human bodies but we must simultaneously strive to build up our more subtle bodies, namely the networked bodies comprising of our emotions and thoughts. We need to improve ourselves. If we expect to have high-caliber persons to represent us in government we need to be high-caliber citizens first.

The immediate action of caring for the injured and the orphaned also does not need any comment.

The main aim of the organization is based on what M.K. Gandhi says so beautifully: We must become the change we want to see in others….. and in the world. But the above is not so much an aim as a technique towards inching for the ultimate indisputable goal: To help us live at a higher level of joy, fortified with knowledge of our self. For the most beautiful concepts and constructions on this planet will tumble but the knowledge of our self will never let us down.

The terrorists have done their work well, meaning that without their conscious knowledge they have inflamed us with their acts, waking us and forcing us to act. If we act well we will be setting up a movement which will eventually engulf the world, not in a destructive fire but in the more powerful fire of love. Eventually the terrorist strike will be seen for the wonderful opportunity given to us.

Although all actions are initiated by our emotions and desires, the intellect and will are roped in to supply the means and the power to bring about the actions dictated by our emotions. A cup of tea will aid us in tempering our emotions so that we do not unknowingly initiate actions which may likely have self-destructive consequences.

Nearly 200 persons were killed during the recent terrorist strike. It is a sobering thought to recollect that a greater number of children have taken their own lives out of fear and frustration of not performing as well in their school exams as expected…… as expected by us parents, by us educators who hide behind academia minutia, and abetted openly by the rest of us taking cover in the corporations who demand the best and brightest of these children for cannon fodder for our own peace machines and machinations.

In other words, if you are not good enough you deserve to die and if you are good enough then you deserve to be given the honor of serving as cannon fodder.

There is no sadder experience than to watch your own child take his life, infinitely sadder than being killed in a surprise war attack. If the above is not terror unleashed by us on our children then perhaps you have another word for it. We have identified the two most important arena where change will be most beneficial to all of us : Schools and at our places of work:


We must set aside some time, at least one period each week, to develop confidence of the children in their own power of thinking of the world at large and their place in it, of arriving at conclusions and eventually being given a platform and opportunity to act upon valid conclusions.

A little attention by us adults on the state of our children will convince us that the above time will have beneficial results. Doctors are complaining that they are seeing clinical signs of stress in children as young as first grade toddlers. At the same time these children display a higher level of knowledge than what we or our parents' generation ever did during first grade. These children are perfectly able to do original thinking and in the process be able to ward off stress that we adults, knowingly or unknowingly, bestow on them.

This so called Socratic method has been used with success in some Scottish schools. Children benefited by this well spent time in school will never fall into the trap of living and dying for other persons' expectations, not even for their beloved parents. So while we adults mess up the world let the children know about the state of the world outside their school, a world they will soon be inheriting, and give themselves and us a chance to do less damage and in the process live a more enjoyable life.

Life is a chance to dance and the basic enjoyment is obtained through the exercise of problem solving. Problems themselves are not a problem. A life without any problems becomes tragic and can lead to the only possible termination of life : death due to boredom.


Almost all adults work and many children too are ensnared in working at adult jobs. Thus a major portion of the human population spend a major part of their adult waking hours at their place of work. Considering this fact, the atmosphere generated from the attitudes of the top boss downwards play a considerable influence to generate trust or mistrust which in turn results in hostility or warm co-operation, not only in the offices but in the world at large. Wars, including terrorist strikes, and environmental problems are not something thrust upon us from the outside but are a direct result of our seemingly innocent life led day-to-day within our homes, schools and places of work.

The atmosphere at home requires no comment since all of us would agree that love is the unspoken binding factor to have a happy home life. It is only at schools and places of work we slip on our impersonal masks and become stiff as robots, slipping into our well worn roles as teacher and boss and students and employees with their own stilted protocol wherein the prime life enhancing ingredient of love is subdued or altogether neglected as having no practical value. The sorry part is that the place of love, the home, is also creaking under the stress of our unloving ways.

The old saying among our seafaring fraternity, that "a happy ship is a safe ship" has been personally tested for many decades and has been found true without any exception.

With the above introduction of focus for our CHAI international organization, we can slowly formulate the subsidiary aims, select our office bearers from our volunteers in every city, town and eventually every village, form our local, national and international agendas to make all of us feel included. For this organization will be an umbrella wherein each of us will be respected, wherein each of us can have a cup of tea without scalding others. A cup of tea has the amazing property of both warming us and cooling us down before we plunge into joyous arduous labor.

This organization can be many kinds of platforms for many kinds of projects. But it should never become a platform for any narrow-minded vested interests. We should never allow our CHAI to be hijacked for any dubious aims no matter how rosy they may appear outwardly.

The recent terrorist strike was different to earlier terrorist strikes and not just in the modus operandi. For this time many of the victims belonged to what may be termed as the jet set, not to be seen as a derogatory term. The victims at the railway station remain for the most part as faceless as the human beings killed in terrorist activities in Kashmir and other parts of the world.

Not so the persons killed at the two five star hotels and the Nariman House building. Many of them were highly acclaimed professionals, well respected in their fields and in associated social circles. They were articulate and used to independent thinking. Consequently the friends and families of the persons who were brutally killed are also of the same caliber. This was the one mistake the terrorists' puppet master has made which will see not only the gradual elimination of the terrorist but also an immense liberation in the world at large.

Have a cup of tea.

Jimmy Shroff
(A chai-walla)

Update: Jimmy wasnt really kidding. Join him at his new International Tea House or Chai International by visiting the website, here: www.chaii.org/

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

How Now, Brown Cow?

There was a time when I could roughly tell the state of the country's economy by simply looking out of my office window and counting the number of ships anchored in the harbour. But these days I am not too sure, what with conflicting reports in the media and feel-good assurances by politicians whose credibility leave much to be desired. As the year draws to a close, perhaps its time to take stock and ask the question, "What next?"

I am one of those who have been very disappointed that the Anwar Ibrahim-led Pakatan Rakyat failed to topple the federal government on Sept 16. But as pointed out by PKR president Wan Azizah at their recently ended national congress,"Victory is not just about winning in an election but the ability for us to stand up and fight again. Yes, Sept 16 did not happen but we must stand up and fight again."

"Now we are elected representatives, state executive councillors and state assemblypersons. Don't criticise Umno about this or that. What about ourselves?" she asked.

Bloody right.

Reading the headers in today's Malaysiakini gives me the shakes:

In UMNO polls, contractors rule

Mukhriz: Close down vernacular schools

Victory glee, hero worship dominate PKR meet

Intense politicking. Horse trading. Games of one-upmanship. Bla bla.

But at the end of the day, for the man in the street its the results that count.