Friday, November 12, 2010

Let's Paint The Town Purple, People!

KLCC is kind enough to host this year's "Purple Day" - that is to create public awareness on autism - from 11 to 14 November and is gracious enough to pencil this event as its annual event, where "Purple Day" will be celebrated throughout November.

Purple Day was initially started by a 9-year old epileptic Cassidy Megan in 2008 to raise people's awareness on epilepsy, debunking its myths and giving hopes to people like her who, most of the time, suffers emotional trauma as a result of their seizures, most people find embarrassingly funny. It is celebrated every 26th of March.

In western world, November is celebrated as Epilepsy Month and with too many links between epilepsy and autism, I applaud NASOM for their successful initiative to rope in giants like KLCC in getting more people out there to become more sensitive (early symptoms of autism for instance) and being more sensible (most of you out there would taunt an autistic child for their social misbehaviour and non-interaction, to name a few).

Autism is dear to my heart as my Second Angel suffers from one. As he is turning 4 next February, it is so glaringly sad to see that my Third Angel would beat him in terms of behavioural and intellectual aspects not too far from now. While I am normally tasked to do some *acrobatic stunts* (he should join Malaysian acrobatic team) with him whenever he's around, taking care of him takes a heavy physical and emotional toll on my dear sister.

Parents, like her, need more supports and better support system than what NASOM and other organisations could offer.

Though "Purple Day" will end this Sunday at KLCC, may I propose for your kind and thoughtful contribution to donate directly to NASOM, whenever you may do so, because this association direly needs financial assistance especially so that these kids, whom most teachers in school would label as misfits, would be able to unleash their true potentials to just being normal, like you and me, through various interesting activities like what the Great Mr. Victor Chin shared here about a group of autistic children using their artistic skills to communicate.

For me, every child is precious and what a waste for us not being able to show them what greatness he/she can bring into this world.

If we could paint a life, it would be painted in hues of purple, for it signifies royalty, nobility, mystery, magic and spirituality.

So, let's paint the town purple, people.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Seoul-ful : Asia's Latest Miracle

Is it acceptable to 'plagiarise' another country's economic master plans, I wonder. If it is not, then I hope we all could feel a little better reading this inspiring article from TIME, considering some people are too busy romancing cronyistic politicking, we almost got derailed from our main reform agenda, that is of economic importance.
Surprisingly, after reading this article, we would realise success of economic reforms rely heavily on political scenes. So, could we all, please nudge our politicians, in case they forget that we, common people, are ready to reform NOW and we need them to wake up, stop fighting and start working for us?

Well, Korea is definitely more than its healthy, nutritional Kimchi, B-Boy Korean Wave, saccharine-filled Winter Sonata, magnificent historical sites and richly cultural values.

Seoul-ful – Asia's Latest Miracle
By Michael Schuman / Seoul (with reporting by Lina Yoon / Seoul)

When I relocated from New York City to Seoul, South Korea's capital, in 1996, I found the city vibrant and fascinating, but also surprisingly provincial. Koreans preferred their fermented kimchi over any other food, and though I grew to enjoy the spicy staple, a longing for familiarity and the feebleness of my digestive system occasionally demanded a respite from the chili-laden cabbage. That proved challenging. Aside from some fast-food joints and wallet-straining restaurants at five-star hotels, foreign cuisine was hard to come by. It's why I have such fond memories of Lee Je Chun. While studying and working in Germany, Lee acquired a taste for things European, so in 1992, he opened the Jell, a shop that sold wine, cheese, pasta, sausages and other imported delicacies. The occasional chunk of cheddar I'd buy was a cherished reminder of a home far away.

A few weeks ago, I returned to my old neighborhood in Seoul for the first time in 10 years, and much to my surprise, Lee and the Jell are still there. But it wasn't the same place where I shopped in the 1990s. Lee no longer sells food: foreign goodies can now readily be found at supermarkets and Costco outlets. Instead, Lee has built a private club for wine lovers, where he hosts tastings for members who pay a $900 annual fee. In its earlier form, the Jell catered largely to expatriates; today the wine club's members are nearly all locals. Koreans have caught on to the pleasures of a good wine. "Korea has changed a lot," Lee says. "Koreans are opening their minds."

The results are striking. Thirty years ago, Korea was poorer than Malaysia and Mexico. Since then, its GDP per capita has surged by a factor of 10 to $17,000, more than double the levels in those countries. GDP growth was 0.2% in 2009, when much of the rest of the world was contracting, and is estimated to be 6% this year. Yet when I left Korea in 2000, it was an open question whether its success could continue. The embarrassing memories of the 1997 Asian financial crisis were still fresh, and Koreans were worrying that they would lose out to a rising China.

Over the past decade, however, Korea has reinvented itself — it's an Asian miracle again. Korea has become an innovator, an economy that doesn't just make stuff, but designs and develops products, infuses them with the latest technology, and then brands and markets them worldwide, with style and smarts. Samsung and LG, not the Japanese electronics giants, are dominating the hot new LCD-TV business. In 4G phone technology, Samsung is poised to become a leading force, while Hyundai Motor, an industry joke a decade ago, is a top-five automaker, its rising market share fueled by quality cars and nifty marketing.

"'Made in Korea' used to be synonymous with cheap and imitative," says Bernie Cho, president of DFSB Kollective, a start-up that markets Korean pop music internationally. "Now it's become premium and innovative." New industries, from online games to pop music, have emerged as powerhouses. Politically as well, Korea is stepping out of Washington's shadow and becoming an influential voice in its own right. Symbolic of that new role, Seoul is hosting the G-20 summit on Nov. 11 and 12, the first Asian country to do so. This nation is a global leader-in-waiting.

Part of Korea's success is simple commitment. Koreans spend some 3.5% of their GDP on R&D, compared with 1.5% in China and less than 1% in Malaysia and India. Innovation, however, isn't something that can be conjured up in government offices or corporate boardrooms. You can tell people to work harder or build a more modern factory, but you can't order them to think better or be more creative. That change has to take place inside people's heads. In Korea, it has. Koreans have become more accepting of diversity and outside influences and quicker to shed old prejudices. Such an outlook was brought about by a fundamental (and continuing) reformation of Korean society. Koreans are breaking down the barriers that held the nation back, a process fostered by political freedom and a passionate embrace of the forces of globalization. Says Cho: "Korea has gone from being a hermit kingdom, from a closed door, to open arms."

A Stranger No More

Globalization has always been the engine behind Korea's economic miracle. Beginning in the 1960s, a destitute Korea capitalized on its cheap labor to competitively export toys, shoes and other low-tech goods to consumers in the West. That jump-started income growth; as costs rose, Korea shifted into ships, microchips and other advanced products. Yet to Koreans, globalization was a one-way street. They were happy to sell things to the world, but wanted no more than the profits in return.

Koreans didn't care much for foreign cars, foreign investment — or foreigners. Empty taxis would ignore my frantic hails, while locals sometimes swore at me while I walked in Seoul with my Korean-American girlfriend (now wife). Behind its crenellated walls, the Korean economy developed on its own dynamic, and boosted by their unexpected economic success, Koreans came to believe their system was special, even superior. But dangerous problems were festering. Companies were shielded from competition and heavily supported by tight links to the government and banks, allowing them to borrow and invest willy-nilly while building up frightening debt burdens. When I would mention these flaws to businessmen or officials, I got brushed off. The normal rules of economics didn't apply to Korea.

That self-delusion evaporated during the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s. As Korea's most prominent companies collapsed into bankruptcy and the government endured a humiliating $58 billion International Monetary Fund bailout, Koreans had to rethink the ways they did business, managed their careers — even their entire economic system. The crisis "was the catalyst" for change, says financier Tom Kang. "The old ways didn't work."

Kang would know. In 1999, George Soros purchased control of a brokerage then called Seoul Securities and plucked Korean-American Kang from Wall Street and inserted him as CEO. Kang created an instant stir. CEOs in Korea were expected to work their way up the seniority-based corporate ladder, and the incumbent managers at Seoul Securities were outraged that a 37-year-old outsider was now their boss. Local media got wind of his Wall Street — level compensation, and he got dubbed "the $3 million man." Kang became a symbol of evil foreigners taking advantage of Korea's moment of weakness.

Kang had entered a securities industry that didn't operate by international standards. Poorly trained brokers would flog stocks to old ladies based on rumor and press clippings. Kang got to work applying what he had learned on Wall Street, cleaning up the firm's risk management and expanding and strengthening new businesses like institutional sales and investment banking. As profits rose at Seoul Securities, other brokerages copied Kang's imported ideas. The industry has changed so much, Kang says today, that if he arrived now as CEO he wouldn't create nearly the same commotion. Koreans "are much more open, have much more global experience," says Kang. "That's the real drama. You can talk about government policies, but [the difference] is the people."

What happened in the securities industry was replicated in other sectors. The 1997 crisis broke apart the cozy government-banking-corporate networks, forcing the big companies to become truly profitable, independent and internationally competitive for the first time. That process was egged on by a new influx of foreign money, ideas and people. Foreign investors began to play a much larger role in the domestic economy, increasing competition. Korean companies brought low by the financial crisis in banking, autos and other industries were sold off to international giants. Storefronts in Seoul now boast more foreign names than I thought possible in the 1990s, from H&M to Kate Spade to Zara. After Apple's sudden success in a Korean economy where foreign handsetmakers had almost no presence — its iPhones claimed more than a quarter of the local smart-phone market in the first half of 2010, according to research firm IDC — Samsung was pressed to accelerate its own product development. The number of foreigners living in Korea has exploded, from fewer than 250,000 in 2000 to more than 870,000 in 2009. Business before the financial crisis "was more like a club," Kang says. Now "there's a lot more competition, and that's forcing people to be innovative. If they don't, they're going to die."

That reality altered Korea Inc.'s view of the world, and made its companies fiercer competitors. Korean corporate offices used to be for Koreans only, but now firms like carmaker Hyundai Motor recognize they have to be more open to outsiders and foreign ideas to compete on a global scale. "When we went to overseas markets, we tried to control everything from headquarters and by Korean staff; most [Korean] companies were doing that," says Han Chang Hwan, a senior vice president who spent much of the past 12 years posted in the U.S., India, Malaysia and Germany. "Ten years ago, the president of Hyundai Motor America was a Mr. Kim or a Mr. Park. We realized it was ridiculous. Nowadays, all the overseas subsidiaries are handled by local staff. It is a process of globalization." That's made Hyundai much more responsive to local markets and creative in its sales efforts. During the worst of the Great Recession in early 2009, for instance, the U.S. operation offered to take back Hyundais from buyers who lost their jobs. The marketing coup was devised entirely by Hyundai's U.S. managers and likely helped the company outperform its rivals during the downturn. Hyundai is even integrating foreign experts into its Seoul management team. Now the headquarters cafeteria offers salads, steaks and other Western dishes at lunchtime. "In the 1990s, we couldn't imagine!" Han exclaims.

Breaking Down Barriers

That same attitude also bolstered the career of my friend Sue Kim. I met Kim only days after my 1996 arrival in Seoul, when she was a young media-relations staffer for the chairman of the LG group of companies. Soon after we met, she told me that she intended to become a top executive at an LG company. That sounded absurd. Female senior managers at big corporations were practically nonexistent. Most women were relegated to minor tasks and expected to quit after they got married. For those bold enough to stay on, Korean corporate culture made it almost impossible for them to get ahead. Unlike her male counterparts, Kim was required to wear a uniform, a practice she found so embarrassing that she changed into business suits whenever she left the office. After work, her male colleagues would often bond at hostess bars called room salons. Kim was left out. But she persevered: she felt she was offered a rare opportunity to show just how valuable women could be to Korean companies. "I felt responsible, that I had to do well," she says. "I wanted to prove myself, that I'm not different from my male peers."

She succeeded. In March this year, Kim, 39, was promoted to bujang, or senior manager, in the investor-relations department of LCD-panel maker LG Display, at a pace somewhat faster than that of many of her male counterparts. The rank is so lofty that many managers never get promoted again, if they even make it up that high. Kim's climb was partly due to her willingness to play the game. To endear herself to her officemates, she would often join them in after-work power-drinking sessions, occasionally downing 10 boilermakers in an evening. But she also believes the old prejudices against women are slowly melting away because of the trials of global competition, which, Kim says, are forcing Korean executives to place merit over gender. "Korean companies look at their employees by what they can bring to the table," Kim explains. "As the global market becomes fierce, the focus has been on maintaining talent rather than the old discrimination."

Other biases are evaporating. When I lived in Seoul, smart, young Koreans had a very narrow path to success: study your brains out in high school, pass the tough exams necessary to get accepted at one of a handful of elite universities, then join the government or a big company like Samsung or Hyundai. Anything else was considered an embarrassment in Korean social circles, and parents usually dissuaded their sons from charting their own course. Not anymore. Koreans have become much more accepting of different life choices. That's encouraged an army of young people to start their own companies, often in innovative IT or high-tech businesses.

Typical of the new breed is Kim Jin Cheon. For eight years, the engineering Ph.D. had a dream job carrying out semiconductor research at Samsung Electronics. But in 2008, Kim, then 36 years old, did what would have been unthinkable in the 1990s: he ditched Samsung and invested $45,000 of his savings in a software firm he named Company 100, to design browsers for mobile phones. Kim says he was inspired by other young entrepreneurs who founded world-beating companies in Seoul, like gaming outfit NCsoft. With more money available to support start-ups, Kim got a $900,000 infusion from a local venture-capital firm in 2009. He says Korea's new spirit of entrepreneurship represents something larger — a longing for more freedom among Korea's youth. "Samsung became a global company, but what did I contribute?" Kim says. "I felt like just one part, not a leader. The younger generation want to do what they really love."

Cry Freedom

The reason why Kim chose to follow his dream is intimately linked to Korea's political changes. The country was largely ruled by dictators for 26 years, until massive street protests forced free elections in 1987, and even after that, the government still intervened heavily in the economy. But Korea has become a much more democratic society over the past decade, driven by Presidents Kim Dae Jung and Roh Moo Hyun, the first leaders to come from an opposition party, and the market-oriented economic reform made necessary by the 1997 financial crisis. That, says Kim Se Joong, founder of software start-up JellyBus, has emboldened Koreans to take more risks — a crucial ingredient to creating an innovative economy. "When the government was big and had a strict system of control, it was difficult to succeed without the support of the state, so parents pushed their children to reach for stability, by working in Samsung," says Kim. "Now the government is smaller and intervenes less. People feel they can become successful, whatever company they work for. The economy of a country is very reflective of the politics of the country."

Kim Sang Hun takes this thinking one step further. The CEO of NHN, owner of Korea's most popular Internet search engine,, says the emergence of new innovative industries like his would have been impossible without Korea's democratization. He remembers the harsh times under the dictators, when police were frequent visitors to college campuses and Koreans were restricted from traveling abroad. "Now the younger generations have become more individualistic and free; they go to Europe on backpacking trips," Kim says. "I think openness is necessary [to have creative industries]. People are not scared to say their thoughts."

Freedom has been an important factor in the career of hip-hop star Tiger JK, who performs as the one-man act Drunken Tiger. The story he told me shows the link between Korea's new openness and its ability to innovate. Back in the 1990s, Korean popular music, or K-pop, was popular only in Korea. Its highly stylized, color-by-numbers dance acts were tightly controlled by the industry, and created all the excitement of a sing-along with Barney. Tiger JK had no interest in playing along. After spending his teenage years in Los Angeles, he returned to Seoul in 1995, hoping to break into the hip-hop scene. But his chatty raps and freewheeling shows were too unusual for Korean music executives. Producers of TV shows promoting new music scolded him for diving into the audience during performances. He even got booed.

Tiger JK peddled recordings of his raps at alternative clubs and built up a following at college campuses with his rebellious shows. About five years ago, other, more famous K-pop stars started seeking him out to praise his music — then adopted some of its elements, like shout-outs to the crowd. TV producers began asking him to dive into the audience. "They were waiting for me to do something wild," he says. Last year, Drunken Tiger won some of the country's most prestigious music awards. Tiger JK says it's because he's become "safe." Actually, it's because Korean society has become as audacious as him. K-pop today is considered the cutting-edge force in Asian popular music. Exports of K-pop nearly doubled in 2009 to over $31 million. "Korean artists became the freedom warriors" for young Asians everywhere, says Tiger JK.

Above all, Korea offers a counterpoint to those political leaders — like China's — who believe "state capitalism" is superior to free enterprise, or that they can create an innovative economy without civil liberties. Of course, that doesn't mean the Korean system is perfect. Despite its progress, Korean society still remains too wary of foreign influence and too biased against women in the workforce. Businessmen complain that too much red tape clogs their way. The outdated education system is so rigid that parents flee the country in droves to put their kids into high schools in the U.S. and elsewhere. The Korean economy is still not a fair place where everyone is governed by the same rules. And North Korea hovers as a relentless threat.

However, the Korea I know is a country that confronts its challenges. I asked my old friend at LG, Sue Kim, what Korea will be like in another 10 years. With more and more Koreans gaining international experience, she believes the great globalization of Korea will continue. South Korea has 75,000 students enrolled at U.S. universities — third highest, behind giants India and China, according to the Institute of International Education. "I think you'll find a much more cosmopolitan Korea," she says. "I think Koreans will bring in more diverse ideas and backgrounds. We're going to extend our presence more globally. We're going to continually grow, and you're going to see a much better country in 10 years." I don't doubt it.

p.s. Thanks to YB Dr 'Abe' Dzul, at least there is ONE malay gentleman who is brave enough to stand up against bigots and idiots. May Allah bless him and his loved ones. Amin.

Whateva Zahid but Apologise YOU MUST!

Zahid said he is not insensitive and that he meant my non-malay brothers and sisters are less patriotic and not unpatriotic as he commented earlier, justifying why there are just too few non-malays in our Angkatan Tentera Malaysia.

Whateva! Your nonsense fact-twisting words deserve this annoying response. As if I bloody care what you said.

But, come to think of it, I bloody do, Zahid, because you bloody forget the history of our real heroes. Maybe that was why Muhyiddin proposed for History to be a must-pass subject for SPM. I must say to Muhyiddin that was a noble call for our youngs to reflect on our illustrious history but what good does it make to them when the real stories have been purposedly blacked out from most history books for your ruling party's political gain? Maybe you lots in the kitchen cabinet should sit for history classes first in the August House.

Interesting, for the very few non-malays who served our Angkatan Tentera Malaysia and Polis Diraja Malaysia, 15 out of 20 Pingat Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa were awarded to non-malays. For instance, we will always remember valiant retired PWI Kanang Anak Langkau, who recently turned down a Datuk-ship as "he cannot afford to live that kind of lifestyle usually associated with that title for he is a simple, poor man". His story is now one of the novels to be read by Form 3 students I was told.

Zahid, they may be very few in number but their contribution weighs far beyond their duties and are certainly a high standard of valour, loyalty and selflessness protecting a nation they called Home.

Zahid, go back to school and take up History. For the time being, YOU failed BIG time and if you were a student sitting for SPM, you bloody failed, which also means you would have to resit for SPM or if you do not wish to, I am so glad we Malaysians won't have a Minister like you!

Zahid, go and apologise to my fellow non-malay brothers and sisters for your uncouth remarks. This YOU MUST DO!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Parenting Skills - We All Need Them

"People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built" ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

After a dear friend recounted how a student was beaten to bleed by a teacher for failing to participate in dawn congregational prayer (Sembahyang Subuh Berjemaah), I told him that all teachers need to learn parenting skills, as part of their syllabus.

Now, even children in UK would be sitting for parenting classes as part of their plans to effectively break poverty cycle, as reported in The Guardian here.

The coalition's poverty adviser, Frank Field, will call for all children to be given parenting classes at school when he presents a government-commissioned review into poverty to the prime minister later this year.

The theme of Field's review is "how to prevent poor children becoming poor adults". He recommends a move away from a mainly financial approach to tackling child poverty, favoured by the last government, to a strategy that focuses on parenting, and on the early childhood years, up to the age of five.

"Being a parent, apart from running the army in Afghanistan, is the most important thing we will ask anyone to do and we assume people get the knowledge by osmosis – and they don't," the former Labour minister said.

He said he was disturbed by research showing how accurate a prediction can be made as to where a child will be in their 20s, by looking at their ability at 22 months and just before five years.

Narrowing divisions in children's readiness for school at five was central to tackling divisions in later life, he said.

A report by the Sutton Trust charity, published last week, showed that poorer children are twice as likely to start school with behavioural problems, and warned that the gap had widened over the past 10 years. Field interprets those findings as evidence that although the Labour government was successful in reducing the overall number of children living in poverty, parallel work needs to be done on reducing non-financial inequalities.

He argued that with generous investment, the foundation years – the first five years of a child's life – could "become more powerful than class in determining where children will be at five, 10, 16 and where they will be at 20".

Part of the problem was a decline in people's understanding of good parenting, he said.

"There has been a rupturing of the level of parenting skills in my lifetime. There was a collective wisdom about the beneficial effects of tough love – you set boundaries for your children, but you loved them within those boundaries."

During his research for the review, he met numerous teachers who said those boundaries were no longer being set.

"I think it is more difficult to parent now than it was. The pressures on you are greater. It is expected that people, mothers, should work, and rather quickly after birth, even if they are on their own. Postwar housing developments have split up communities. You are bombarded with demands from television about the things that children should have. It puts a much greater pressure on parents. To add to that you may not have had a good role model yourself," he said.

"I've met lots of heads who say children are worse prepared for school now than they were 30 years ago. Children should be able to sit still, they should know their own name, they should be able to take their coat off, they should understand the word 'stop', they have to be able to hold a crayon." Teachers had told him they were increasingly obliged to teach children these skills, he said.

In recommendations that he will present to the education secretary, Michael Gove, this week, Field will suggest that parenting should be taught as a theme within other subjects – "not as a separate ghetto subject", so students would look, for example, at the development of a child's brain within their science GCSEs. The teaching would help children understand what would equip them to be a "five-star parent".

"While money is important," he said, "I will be arguing in the report that there are other circumstances which, the research shows, are as important as money in determining outcomes: the interest you take in your children, how you bond with them, whether you read to them, the interest you show in what they are doing at school."

The government is committed to the same goal of eradicating child poverty in the UK by 2020 as set out by Labour, and has increased child tax credits paid to families falling below the poverty line.

Field, who was a director of the Child Poverty Action Group charity before he went into politics, said he thought the extra money should have been spent on Sure Start projects, aimed at helping children in their early life.

"I would have argued, though I wasn't in the game to argue, a different split of that money, between tax credits and the foundation years, because if we are serious about transforming the lives of poorer children, it won't simply come by increasing tax credits, however generous they are."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Do You Know How It Feels Like To Be Free?

"Only free men can negotiate;

prisoners cannot enter into contracts.

Your freedom and mine cannot be separated"

~ Nelson Mandela

“How can I set free anyone who doesn't have the guts to stand up alone and declare his own freedom?

I think it's a lie – people claim they want to be free – everybody insists that freedom is what they want the most, the most sacred and precious thing a man can possess.

But that's bullshit! People are terrified to be set free – they hold on to their chains.

They fight anyone who tries to break those chains. It's their security…

How can they expect me or anyone else to set them free if they don't really want to be free?”

~ Jim Morrison

"What do we mean by setting a man free?

You cannot free a man who dwells in a desert and is an unfeeling brute

There is no liberty except the liberty of some one making his way towards something

Such a man can be set free if you will teach him the meaning of thirst, and how to trace a path to a well

Only then will he embark upon a course of action that will not be without significance

You could not liberate a stone if there were no law of gravity - for where will the stone go, once it is quarried?”

~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

To different people, freedom carries different meanings. Like success and marriage, getting one is easier but managing one is difficult because we tend to start with a wrong foot, wrong reason, which most of the time, is badly reasoned and hardly justified. As a result, we linger in it (success or marriage) for namesake, drifting from high to low points in life, feeling numb; hopeless; careless; and don't-care-less.

Having seen the deplorable living condition for some Malaysians in Batu Sapi recently - thanks to the buy-buy-election - it hurts me deep inside. Unlike their forefathers that fought the battle to bring them where they are now, it seems to me that these people are in worse situation compared to to their forefathers because they have almost lost the spirit to fight for dignity and better life. These are the people who have been denied freedom and they have succumbed to much-hyped myths that their lives depend on the ruling party. Like us all of us, their destiny lies in their own hand. But with continuous oppression and artificially-created miseries imposed on them, it is so easy to surrender.

So,would that be alright for us not to do anything about it since they have accepted their current destiny? If we are a living, breathing human being, who would have felt their miseries (cubit peha kiri, peha kanan terasa sakit), we would do something for them.

And that is why I think the best people to really move these people out of their self-chained destiny is the local people. Instead of just hyping up on sensational issues (sometimes, reading their takes makes me feel like reading UK's tabloids - well, now you know why we are also catching up in printing tabloids, that is to feed people with things to talk about so they could forget their own miseries and later, to confuse them), they should focus on their own people and highlight the issues with proper channel. For once, we should get our act together and get things moving instead of relying on buy/general election to punish the short-term amnesiac politicians.

Some of us would have known how it feels like being free - it's ecstasy; it pushes us to only greater height; and it only makes us more humane.

And that is why The Lighthouse Family's "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free" would be a fitting song for this post. Freedom, like love, is best shared and it is best shared with full morality.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Diwali - Lessons from It

Astronomically, Diwali - literally translated into "Row of Lights - is celebrated on darkest night in the darkest period between October and November, marking celebration of a New Year.

That means even a spark of light or a tiny twinkling star could stand out in the vast canvas of night.

And that the light isn't just a sight but a guide.

So, when there's light, there's no confusion.

Everything is clear. Nothing is an illusion.

May we dispel our ignorance, flagrance and vengeance for conscience, prudence and valiance.

Wishing Thiva, Vijay and all my Indian friends who are celebrating Diwali a Joyful and Meaningful one.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Caca Marba Midweek Break

Yes, it's so caca marba as detailed below: -

1. I revisited "Shawshank Redemption" - one of the most meaningful films I've ever watched, over and over again (though at first I watched it for cute Tim Robbins (hehheh my choice of guys speaks volume - from John Cusack to Tim Robbins. Gee!). It's about real friendships and burning hopes. It brings honour to perseverance. It teaches enjoyment to solitude. It has too many quiet plots, which for me and many more out there who enjoy this philosophical movie, reflect the reality of life - at times, we feel alone, abandoned and rejected but during these down times, we learn to listen to our soul and get to know ourselves better, which later these revealations would assist us to make rightful decisions in life. Like Andy Drufesne, we may have to crawl through our stinkiest moments in life to a brighter one and like Andy, all we need is a little tool. This is a must-see 16-year-old movie!

"Dear Red, If you're reading this, you've gotten out. And if you've come this far, maybe you're willing to come a little further. You remember the name of the town, don't you? I could use a good man to help me get my project on wheels. I'll keep an eye out for you and the chessboard ready. Remember, Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well. Your friend, Andy"

~ Andy Drufesne

2. Jason Donovan's "Sealed with a kiss" came back into my life a few months ago. It carries different feeling at my dinosaur age, especially when it comes to the part that, "It's gonna be a cold lonely summer but i'll heal the emptiness". When I was 15, curing loneliness would probably be sulking all summer long. Now that I have grown old (hopefully not a fool anymore), I heal my emptiness with things that scream "I Love Myself" (Read: things that make me simply me!) and honouring people I care dearly, wholeheartedly, by doing things we would do together. Loneliness flies away when I fill my emptiness with things and thoughts that matter. Loneliness isn't a bad thing - when one feels lonely, for me, it means one yearns for something and that yearning should be used as the pushing factor towards what one is yearning for. There's always a blessing in disguise. Let's hope that while we are busy healing our emptiness, we must stop and look out for signs for the end of cold lonely summer is nigh...

3. One of little dreams I have is to set up a children library because I enjoy children immensely (by being a kid myself). Innocent, curious, mischievious (I'd reword it to experimental) and boisterous (full with energy may I say) they are, there is so little choices in getting them great local reading materials. Today (Yes, I am writing this with a big smile on my cherub face), I found Pak Yusof Gajah, who has been nominated (for the second time) for the prestigious 2011 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award ("ALMA") of Sweden at the Frankfurt International Book Fair. What attracts me to him is philosophy on life and seeing arts beyond sketches and paintings. His books would make perfect timeless gifts for a child!

"People are afraid to dream, he continues, because being ambitious and wanting to be a high achiever is discouraged by a society that thrives on mediocrity. But dreamers should be stubborn – that is what got him to where he is today"

~ Yusof Gajah, The Edge 28 Sep 2009

4. After reading Art's latest posting "The Administration of Justice in Malaysia - A Glaring Misconception" and hopeful Kg Gas' folks, I have John Denver's "Sunshine on My Shoulders" playing in my heart.

Thank God for them - they make my Wednesday!

2012 - The End of Humanity; 2010 - The End of BN

A self-professed late bloomer in everything, I only got myself watching "2012" last Sunday night because it has lovable John Cusack.

Some of the horrific scenes in the movie look like they have been taken out from ongoing Gunung Merapi Eruption. I turned off the TV feeling physically exhausted and emotionally distubed. That movie is no longer about John Cusack - it's definitely more than meets [his] eyes!

When Dr. Adrian Helmsley said this almost at the end of the movie, "The moment we stop fighting for each other, that's the moment we lose our humanity", I had tears welled up in my eyes.

That is why for what happened to Adik Kugan, Adik BH Teoh, Adik Aminulrasyid, we will fight for them and their loved ones. It is not 'sibuk jaga tepi kain orang' (that's, for me, is only applicable when you gossip about others, out of envy and anger).

And that is also why we sent flotilla to Gaza.

It is not sympathy. It is not even charity. It's humanity.

Somehow, Antares read my mind (as this post was first written on Monday). He shared Jose Arguelles' poignant article on "2012" and I am deeply affected by it because I feel ashamed of us, human beings, for causing so much suffering, without a tinge of regret or guilt, all in the name of power and material possession. Thank you Antares.

"This is a grand drama that is playing out now. What we are seeing is the exhaustion of materialism, what the Club of Rome defined in 1973 as the Limits of Growth. I was recently on an investigative visit to East Africa (Kenya) and South India. For a counterpoint to the misery that was everywhere evident, as I was traveling through different parts of these two countries, I took time to watch CNN, Al-Jazeera or BBC in the hotels so I could follow the oil spill and witness the European union voting a trillion dollar bail out for the Euro and some failing economies.

It made me wonder: Where is the trillion dollars to give every human being on Earth a roof that doesn’t leak, an actual sanitary toilet, clean drinking water and real food on the table? No, it was quite evident that the species has failed in taking care of its own and in its capacity to save its environment.

What people need to understand is that 21/12/2012 is actually humanity’s deadline, and right now it would rather send a man to Mars then deal head-on with what it has created on its home planet"

~ Jose Arguelles

Having read that, I hope KJ - Yes, that Ketua Pemuda UMNO - who had been telling Batu Sapi people to vote for BN because "PKR has nothing" to wake up. Wake up Bro!

Well KJ, PKR has nothing but it wants to do something. BN has everything but it hasn't been doing anything since 1963. Let's not talk about 100-storey tall Warisan Merdeka, you lot can't even get basic infrastructure up and running in Batu Sapi. Shame on you KJ!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Women on the other side of the world

A couple of week ago, I thought of Eva Peron – the Spiritual Chief of A Nation (that is Argentina) as she was called by her people. It is close to 6 decades after her demise but her spirit of emancipation lives on in Latin America. Two historical events prove this.

Yesterday, Madam Dilma Roussef was elected as Brazil’s first female president after the ever famous Lula, her mentor, was barred by the court from running his third presidency term. Madam Rousseff is seen as Lula’s ‘puppet’, having lived a colourful life (a former Marxist rebel) and holding various powerful positions in Lula’s cabinet (primarily of Brazil’s energy and finance ministries).

Under Lula, Brazil joined Mighty, Hungry BRIC, catapulting half of his people into middle income class, thus strengthening its domestic consumption on top of rising commodity prices, to bolster Brazil’s economy. Call her whatever you want (politics can be so nasty most of the times) but I think Lula has picked the best person to continue with his successful economic reforms to greater heights. Madam Rousseff becomes a grandmother in September and in her first speech to the people, she said that “[she] will pay attention and take care of the country as a kind mother”. That reminds me of “Don Juan”, in which Lord Byron wrote, “Man's love is of man's life a thing apart, 'Tis woman's whole existence”.

In December 2007, Argentineans elected their First Female President, the beautiful Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. She took the office from her husband, Nestor Kirchner, who passed away recently from sudden heart attack. Dubbed as The Clintons of The South, this First Couple fought evil capitalists – their own elitists and international foreign banks, defied IMF during 2001 financial crisis, introduced interventionist economic policies and looked after the poors of their nations, making them the third largest economy in the American’s South Hemisphere, rebounding faster than any of its neighbours. They have always been bestest political partners but with her power-broker husband rest in peace, would Cristina’s Peronic spirit fizzles out? I hope she’s be stronger in her true self – just like how Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “A woman is like a teabag, you never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water”.

“Women wish to be loved without a why or a wherefore; not because they are pretty, or good, or well-bred, or graceful, or intelligent, but because they are themselves” ~ Hendri Frederic Amiel

While women on the other side of the world have emancipated and showed their mettle (that they can change the course of their nation and they can rule - how ironic when at home, moms have always been the ruler!), we on this side of the world could only manage a snigger when our budget next year will give us cheaper lingeries, handbags and toiletries. How pathetic they think we are!
God did not create women for nothing. Women nurture, never torture. Women’s real strength, despite their fragile physique, is not just their ability to provide. It is their ability to provide endlessly, wholeheartedly, even if they received so little or nothing in return.

God Bless All Women.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Genting Sempah's Tragic Accident - Tragic Loss of Common Sense

Last weekend's accident makes me realised one thing - most of the time, we put our life in someone else's hand.

It was reported that the outing was the first to many youths in that old bus.

It was also reported that the parents were not happy with the condition of the bus in the first place but who are they to ask for something better, when, like most abiding Malays, they accepted everything in whatever conditions. Even if it means paying hundred of RM for a screwdriver, as famously reported in AG's report for years now.

Not surprising, the trip was organised by Belia 4B (which means it was well sponsored but as always, we have too many Ali Babas (middlemen) in between Belia 4B and the youths).

When we have so little, even a little contribution means the world to us.

I could imagine how happy the youths were having gotten a chance to see the world outside Baling - I am not sure if it is still one of the poorest areas in this Ibu Pertiwi and how worry were their parents having to let go their precious ones on a long trip on that substandard bus.

I could imagine the emotional turmoils currently faced by the ill-fated bus driver. He was denied a driving license because the driving centre he registered was an illegal outfit. And he resorted to driving without a valid license because he has to support his family. Sadly, not wanting to inflict such economical suffering to his family, he inflicts another set of sufferin to families of departed souls.

Now, 7 precious ones were now in the Hands of their Creator. They are gone but their loved ones would forever live with endless "What if I had...".

May the souls rest amongst the righteous people and may Allah gives strenght to their loved ones.

This accident could be avoided if only we have more sensical people. This ideal is not far-fetched because it starts with us. Help everyone around us to be one.