Friday, March 31, 2006


Information Minister Zainudin Maidin (Zam) was clearly not happy with the Umno-linked New Straits Times (NST) daily when he touched on the print media in his winding up of the debate on the motion of thanks for the royal address for his ministry in Parliament late Thursday.

The former journalist said newspapers in Malaysia should not act as the voices for foreign concepts of freedom and democracy but instead should be instruments for the formation of a nationalistic Malaysia and not Malaysian Malaysia.

Referring to the NST, he said the newspaper had published a feature article on January 4, 2006 that aimed to destroy the Malay identity in Malaysia.

"This is not a Malaysia doctrine but the legacy of a foreign doctrine that had resulted in a tragedy in Malaysia," Zam was quoted by the national news agency, Bernama.

It is clear to me that Zam was referring to Singapore and the PAP leaders, in particular Lee Kuan Yew, who were fighting for a Malaysian Malaysia which led to the separation of the island republic from the federation.

Zam also said that some segments of the media had misinterpreted the freedom and transparency promoted by prime minister Abdullah Badawi. He claimed that they had disregarded the norms and principles of Malaysian laws which all this while had guided the freedom of the press in Malaysia.

On the NST, I am certain that Zam was referring to the "Comment" column headlined "Defending Malaysia's diversity" (page 19 Jan 4).

The article's introduction reads: "Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has a well-deserved reputation for integrity and for the propagation of Islam Hadhari - a moderate, modernist Islam focused on basic principles and the pursuit of knowledge. But official Islam in Malaysia continues to play into the hands of Islamophobes everywhere and upset the 45 per cent or so of Malaysia's population who are non-Muslim."

Two current issues, according to the article, suggested that Abdullah would have to invest more of his own political capital in bringing a narrow official Islam into line with his own vision of an inclusivist faith that is intellectually alive and can coexist easily with the nation's large Hindu, Christian, Buddhist and other minorities.

It mentioned M Moorthy, born a Hindu but on his death was declared as a Muslim by a religious court, although his family claimed that he had not converted to Islam. The powers of the Sharia Court were then confirmed by the High Court, which ruled that it could not intervene in a decision by the religious court.

The NST said that in modern, multi-ethnic, inclusivist Malaysia, the religious courts are a law unto themselves. It added that it is particularly worrying for non-Muslims.

"But it has wider implications in a society where all Malays are deemed to be Muslims, whatever they actually believe, and where religious movements by Malays have recently been persecuted on the grounds that they were judged heretical by the religious authorities."

The article also touch on the new Islamic Family Law which it claimed to have been "rammed through Parliament."

"Although it has the legitimate aim of standardising the implementation of Sharia, Muslim women from across the religious/political spectrum see it as a backward step that enhances an already male-biased law," the NST insisted.

The article argued that as ever in Malaysia, the underlying themes may be more about political power struggles than religious beliefs. The governing Umno must compete for Malay votes with the fundamentalists Pas. Religion can be a weapon, too, in Umno's internal politics.

Wow! No wonder Information Minister Zainudin Maidin is upset. It is not because of his recent tiff with NSTP's deputy chairman-cum-advisor Kalimullah Hassan, formely its group Editor-in-Chief but because of what has been published by the daily.

As stated in my previous posts, Kalimullah was responsible for promoting the current editorial leadership of NST including roping in his ex-Straits Times (Singapore) reporter friend Brendan Pereira who is now group editor.

Hishamuddin Aun, a Bernama reporter who leap-frog to Berita Harian and a decade later promoted to head the Malay daily, is now the group editor-in-chief, is seen as Kalimullah's loyalist. A number of senior Malay editors either manning the gate or newsdesk of NST, Berita Harian and the Malay Mail, out of dissatisfaction and frusration with what Kalimullah has done, had either resigned or take up the voluntary separation scheme.

It is only logical that more readers are turning to The Star and The Sun and are returning to Utusan Malaysia.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


A non-governmental organisation (NGO) has called for the closure of the Kamunting Detention Centre, in Taiping. The centre is used to detain without trial, among others, political detainees under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

The Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) or abolish ISA movement leader, Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh said prime minister Abdullah Badawi should apply the same principle to the detention centre as he espouses for the closure of the US-operated Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba.

He said the government should also adopt the recommendations made by the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) to abolish the ISA. Syed Ibrahim also called on the government to release all the ISA detainees or otherwise charge them in court.

The pig-tailed macaque is free to roam the forest and its fringes in Ampang. On the other hand, hundreds of humans are under detention without trial in detention centres in Taiping and in Johor. Some of them were separated from their families just because they subscribe to different political ideologies.


The Malaysian Parliament was told that the government never paid a US-based lobbyist to arrange for former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed to meet US president George (Warlord) Bush in 2002. Foreign minister Syed Hamid Albar repeatedly said the meeting was arranged through "normal" diplomatic channels. He did not explain what he meant by "normal".

Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang had asked whether there was any truth that Kuala Lumpur paid USD1.2 million (RM4.6 million) to lobbyist Jack Abramoff to secure a meeting between both leaders in May 2002. The meeting took place in the Oval Office of the White House.

However, Syed Hamid conceded that it was "common practice" among foreign countries to use the services of lobbyists to improve and enhance the existing relationship with Washington and its agencies. Could this be the said "normal" diplomatic channels?

Monday, March 27, 2006

No soft feelings between Kadir Jasin & Kalimullah

The friendly exhange between two former Group Editor-in-Chief (GEIC) of the Umno-backed New Straits Times Press (NSTP) is not over. Both are using their columns and blog to hit at one another.

On Sunday (March 26) Kalimullah Hassan wrote in his The Sunday Column (NST) about "A few good men...". In this particular article, the good man is none other than former Transport Minister and ex-Malaysian Chinese Association president, Dr Ling Liong Sik.

As usual Kalimullah or Kali, boasts of his close friendship with national leaders, as for Dr Ling Kali wrote "Dr Ling and I still meet regularly and speak over the phone." They had dinner on Tuesday and Kali invited some of Dr Ling's friends and their families, all of whom have their own busy schedules. Could they be, I may ask, Kali's business partners, sleeping or otherwise?

At the dinner, Kali claimed that lots of stories were told but through it all, Dr Ling was repetitive in his stated affection and concern for another person from his home state, Penang, a politician who is now Prime Minister (Abdullah Badawi).

Got you! DR LING IS NOT FROM PENANG. Kali is not, after all, knowledgeable. Yes Dr Ling was once the Member of Parliament for Bagan (Butterworth, Penang) when Kali was a rookie reporter. But that does not mean that he is from Penang. Dr Ling is from Taiping, Perak.

Leave that silly mistake and let it be. Now let me say why I believed that Kali and Kadir Jasin are after each others' throats.

In Kali's column, one sentence caught my attention, and I quote:

"Many of them, including some editors, were rewarded, some with positions, others with privatisation projects and management buyouts of their companies."

I am certain (100 per cent) that Kali is referring to Kadir Jasin. The words "management buyouts" or MBO confirmed it.

As a refresher, Kadir and three of his friends in the NSTP registered a company named Realmild to "buy out" the NSTP and became instant millionaires. One of his partners Nazri Abdullah, then group editor of Berita Harian, migrated (some say escaped) to London and is now enjoying his wealth in the British capital. I am in the dark about Yunus Said (ex-TV3) and could not recalled the name of the fourth member of the MBO. Kadir is now the proud boss-cum-publisher of Berita Publishing, which was taken out of the NSTP group and handed over to him.

Kali wrote the next sentence..."But such is the will of the Almighty that fame and fortune derived on the back of the misery of innocents has a way of dissipating in ignominy."

In his write up on the Cabinet reshuffle, Kadir wrote that "An interesting sideshow to the reshuffle was provided by the high-profile former Group Editor-in-Chief of The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Bhd (NSTP) Datuk Kalimullah Hassan, when he took a swipe at the new Information Minister."

Kadir said that Kalimullah, who continues to wield extensive power in the newspaper group in his new capacity as deputy chairman, accused Zainuddin Maidin (then deputy Information Minister) of seeking the sacking of the top editors of the NSTP group in a closed-door Umno Information Bureau meeting days earlier.

In making the allegation, Kalimullah, who is also chairman of the private banking group ECM Libra Bhd and timber-based Ekowood Bhd, revealed just how closely linked he is to the Umno organ.

Kalimullah could count on key editors, his appointees and compatriots from his foreign correspondent days, to keep his detractors at bay and in check. Now the editors (mostly Malays) who did not see eye-to-eye with him has left the NSTP group, some by opting for the company's latest round of voluntary separation scheme (VSS), Kalimullah's hold on the newspaper group is unquestionable.

Kadir questioned Kalimullah's stand on press freedom when he wrote:

"It is ironic that Kalimullah should cite press freedom as one of the cornerstones of Abdullah's aadministration while at the same time continuing to ban this magazine (Malaysia Business) and other publications belonging to Berita Publishing Sdn Bhd (BPSB) from being advertised in the group's newspapers."

The ban, which alo covers BPSB's corporate advertisements, has been in effect since January 2005. It was imposed soon after Kadir had written in his column commenting on an article in the NST by Kalimullah in which he revealed, among other things, that Abdullah had phoned him to seek page-one treatment for his speech. (The ban was on the directive of Kalimullah)

The soft feelings between Kadir and Kali continues. Both were bestowed with datukships, so is Nazri Abdullah (ex Realmild) and other "favourable" editors such as Rejal Arbee, Khalid Mohamad, Ahmat Talib, the two Wongs of The Star, Hishamuddin Aun and Azman Ujang, to name a few.

Both Kadir and Kali are my friends. I knew Kali when he was in his teens way back in the late 60s in Penang. He was then a member of the India-based Jamaah Tabligh (a missionary group). His family migrated from Kroh, a small Malaysia-Thailand border town in Perak, to Penang.

I first met Kadir when I joined Bernama, the national news agency in August 1971. He joined the agency two years earlier when I was then with the Social Welfare Department, Penang. Kadir was then head of the economic desk, practically a one man show just like Rejal at the political desk. But, they were pioneers of the desks. Rejal is now director of the KL Monorail, a long hop from journalism to transportation.

Kadir and a few others including Ahmat Talib left Bernama to join the NSTP, then under the Fleet Group, where they found their lucky stars.

Like Kali, Kadir had his days and control over the newspapers when he was GEIC of NSTP. But Kali is luckier to have as "close friends" none other than the Prime Minister and his son-in-law. That is all.

Every dog has it's day.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mahathir and "kiasu" Singaporeans

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Saturday that he failed to resolve outstanding issues with Singapore as it was "difficult to negotiate" with the city state.

He admitted that during his 22 years as Prime Minister he failed to negotiate settlements on outstanding issues between the two countries. He said the negotiations ended in failure because the tiny island republic always wanted more from Malaysia than what it was willing to give in return.

Well Dr M, we Malaysians are familiar with the "kiasu" attitude of Singapore. Look at the current Commonwealth Games in Australia, Singapore imported badminton and table tennis players and athletes from Indonesia, China and Taiwan just to make sure that they collected some medals. That is "kiasuism" and it is well suited with Singapore. To them, money will buy anything including athletes, to win medals for them.

Singapore rejected the construction of a bridge to replace the causeway unless Malaysia give permission for their air force to use Malaysian air space and sell sand for their reclamation programme. But what do they give in return - nothing. That is Singapore.

Pix: Dr Mahathir and Dr Siti Hasmah enjoying the view of the Putrajaya Mosque, from the steps of the Prime Minister's Departmnent on the eve of his retirement (Oct 30, 1993)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Arabs are terrorists, Israel's terrorists are "lunatics"

I like to share with you the gist of an article which I quoted from Arab View.

Just as U.S. President Bush attempted to limit the damage caused by the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal in Iraq by calling soldiers involved in the crimes as a few bad apples, the Israeli government tries to downplay the repetitive terrorist attacks its citizens carry out against Christian and Muslim holy sites by claiming that those involved in such barbaric actions are only "mentally deranged" people and not terrorists.

Earlier this month, three Israeli terrorists stormed a key Christian shrine in Nazareth, throwing "firecrackers" inside it, sparking panic among worshippers. The act was carried out by a Jerusalem couple and their daughter.

Israel's Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra claimed that the barbaric attack on Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth was not a terrorist action as it was carried out by a group of mentally distrubed Israelis. But, that does not clear Israel of terrorism, as it was not the first incident where Israelis are caught attacking religious shrines in the occupied territories.

When Israeli terrorist attempted to burn down Al-Aqsa Mosque, Israeli leaders immediately commented saying that the attacker was not a terrorist, but simply insane.

Also when Israeli terrorist attacked Al-Ibrahimi Mosque during the dawn prayers endangering the lives of hundreds of Muslim worshippers, same line of defence was used, Israeli officials said that the man was mentally deranged.

The recent attack, involving three Israelis disguised as Christian pilgrims who entered the Church in Nazareth and threw firecrackers, was the third of its kind against the Church of Annunciation, which marks the site where, according to the Bible, the angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to Jesus.

The Israeli army violated the sanctity of Al-Qiyamah and Al-Mahd (the Navity) churches, dropping bombs on Al-Mahd church claiming that terrorists were hiding inside the church.

So what the Israeli government wants us to believe is that Arabs, fighting occupiers to free Palestine, which is legally permitted under international law, agreements and conventions are the only terrorists.

It's noteworthy that Palestinians who participated in the massive riots sparked by the barbaric attack in the Israeli Arab town, were Muslims and Christian Palestinians, who were first to rush to the Church of Annunciation to protect it.

Arabs do not differentiate between religions. Arabs history is rich with incidents where Muslims and Christians carried the flag of unity defending Islamic and Christian holy sites in the occupied Palestine and elsewhere.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

This is Arman

Today, March 21 @ 5 pm I was blessed by Allah with a cute second grandson, Arman. My daughter, Sharifah Zainab delivered Arman, 3.3 kg, at Roopi Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur. About four hours later, Arman was transferred to the Tawakkal Medical Centre for further observation due to respiratory distress syndrome.

If you are reading this post, please pray for Arman's early and complete recovery.

Latest: March 26 - Arman is now out of the incubator and, God willing, will join elder brother Aimar at home in Taman Tun Dr Ismail later today.

A big thank you to the doctors, nurses and staff of both Roopi Medical Centre and Tawakkal Medical Centre.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Kit Siang, Justice Bao and the Prime Minister

On Wednesday, parliamentary opposition leader Lim Kit Siang when debating the motion to thank the King's opening address, touched on Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi's fight against corruption.

He said only a team modelled after a Chinese mayor and his lieutenants could fight corruption in Malaysia. He was referring to Justice Bao which I clearly remembered when a serial drama on the mayor's fight against corruption was aired a couple of years back by a private tv station.

Kit Siang noted that Justice Bao was ably assisted by honest and trustworthy officials such as Zhan Zhao, Gongsun Ce, Wang Chao, Ma Han, Zhang Long and Zhao Hu.

He said that without a team, Justice Bao would have found it tough to wage a fight against corruption. Similarly, without his team of anti-corruption campaigners, there is nothing Abdullah can do to make a dent on the scourge of corruption.

However well meaning, Abdullah is, he would only be a lone and helpless voice.

Who are PM Abdullah's lieutenants? Hardly any, be it in his political party, Umno, or his administration, I am not referring to the civil servants but politicians. Their support, if any, are only artificial and for political gains.

Look at Umno. Can anyone name a leader who is 100 per cent clean? Of course, each and every one of them would proudly say that he or she is clean, honest, trustworthy and working hard for the party. Would a thief admit that he is a thief?

Most of them are well off, compared to before they were active in politics, awarded datukships, appointed to sit on statutory boards, government corporations, government-linked companies, local authorities, listed companies, port authorities and even bus companies. They were given taxi permits, import permits, logging licences and so on and so forth.

Datukships were also easily awarded for "political gains". For example, a division in one state nominated the state leader (chief minister) of another state as its choice for top party post such as vice-president and he won. As a reward, the division head was later awarded the datukship by the state government, in conjunction with the official birthday of the head of state.

Practically, every Umno divisional leader is a datuk, even the Putri leader is a datuk. The datukship, be it a "seri utama, seri, wira, panglima" or what have you, were not given by their own state but by another state. During the early years of the nation, datukships were awarded to people for having excellently served their state. They were honest and dedicated and well respected community leaders not some 30-something-year-old political leader.

Today, a man from Terengganu who had never served or reside in Penang, for example, was awarded datukship by the state. Or a woman from Kuala Lumpur being awarded by the Sabah state government, or a youth leader from Kedah awarded the title by the Melaka state government. These awards are nothig less than political corruption.

I fully supported Kit Siang and I believed that PM Abdullah is fighting a losing battle. He should first of all "clean" Umno from political corruption. There are too many corrupted and dishonest leaders in the party.

Friday, March 17, 2006

More import permits for AP KINGS

The Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) told Parliament that up to February this year, 18,007 import permits (AP) for cars were issued and the bulk of it went to three so-called AP Kings.

Minister Rafidah Aziz, described by parliamentary opposition leader Lim Kit Siang as the Queen of Parliament, in a written reply to Kit Siang said that 7,303 permits were open APs and 10,704 were franchise APs given to 22 franchise-holding companies.

AP King Nazamuddin S.M. Amin via The Naza Group and Naza Consortium received 5,455 APs.

The other two AP Kings - former army major Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim and his business partner and former MITI officer, Haniff Abdul Aziz were given 1,349 APs for five companies controlled by them -- Auto Pacific Star Bhd., Global Worldtrade Sdn Bhd., Territorial Star Sdn Bhd., Weststar Motorsport Sdn Bhd., and Go Smartstar Sdn Bhd.

In Malaysia, APs are seen as licences to "print money." They are given free to firms controlled by ethnic Malays under a decades-old affirmative-action policy design to redistribute wealth called the New Economic Policy (NEP).

The permits give their holders an exclusive right to import certain brands of cars. It is understood that for each car the AP holder can make up to RM40,000 (about US$10,500).

Among the three AP Kings, Nazamuddin is seen as "redistributing" some the wealth back to the people and country by having automobile assembly plants employing a substantial number of workers. His fleet of companies under the Naza Group also set up sales and after sales service centres and automobile showrooms manned by trained and skilled workers.

On the other hand, Syed Azman and Haniff used the wealth to purchase bungalow lots and construct mansions at Taman Tun Abdul Razak, Ampang. Syed Azman purchased three lots while Haniff bought two lots. Syed Azman's mansion is equipped with state-of- the-art security system, a helicopter landing pad and a three-metre wall protected by barbed wires. A security guard is also on duty round-the-clock.

Syed Azman and Haniff, if not for the APs, would not be where they are today. One was a former military intelligence officer and the other a middle-rank government officer.

It is indeed sad if they failed to utilise their easily obtained wealth to help the less fortunate and the hardcore poor or to donate a part of it to orphanages and for dakwah (missionary) work. How many poor Muslims did they sponsor to perform the annual haj? Do they care for the poor? The orphans and the single mothers with school-going children that are crying for help?

It is equally sad to see both of them showing off their wealth by building large mansions -- too large for their small families. Maybe to them the present day world is much better than the promised world where they will go to face their Creator.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Islamophobic remarks by televangelist

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has called on mainstream American political and religious leaders to repudicate the most recent Islamophobic remarks by televangelist Pat Robertson, who claimed that the goal of Islam "is world domination. Roberson made that claim and other anti-Muslim remarks on his Christian Broadcasting Network "700 Club" program. He told his audience: "Islam is not a religion of peace," and "The goal of Islam, ladies and gentlemen whether you like or not, is world domination."

Robertson called Islam the religion of the slavers and said Americans who converted to Islam exhibited "insanity." He also referred to some Muslims as being motivated by "demonic power in the past."

CAIR executive director Nihad Awad said the failure by mainstream religious and political leaders to challenge Robertson's Islamophobic remarks will send the false message to Muslims worldwide that the majority of Americans agree with his hate-filled views.

It is people like Pat Robertson that is creating hatred among Muslims and Christians. None of the Holy Books teaches what he is preaching. Is Robertson's holy book tells him to hate his neighbour, be it Christian, Jew or Muslim? God! have mercy on Robertson.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Backbiting and slandering

Backbiting is so widespread among people, politicians and their supporters in particular, that it has become the issue of people's meetings and an avenue for expressing their anger, misgivings and jealosy. Those who indulge in backbiting are hiding their own imperfections and harming others.

Backbiting and slandering are among the destructive major sins but unfortunately, it is the "in thing" among certain Malay/Muslim politicians, their hardcore supporters and sometimes among their spouses when nearing party elections or cabinet changes.

Backbiting and slandering are forbidden in Islam because they sow enmity, evils and discord among people and lead to destruction. They cause hostilities between people of the same household and between neighbours and relatives. But to those involved in backbiting and slandering, they could not care less about sins or what have you, as long as they achieved their greed and crooked ambitions.

Prior to the new cabinet line up in 2004, backbiting and slandering was at its peak and what surprised me was that wives of ministers were also involved. To each minister's spouse, her husband was the best candidate for the deputy prime ministership. One particular minister's wife, claiming that her husband was the closest and strongest ally of prime minister Abdullah Badawi, went overboard to criticise and belittle another minister's wife. The daughter of a policeman had nothing good to say of the other lady, whose husband eventually was picked to be the number two man in the government. After a few months of sour face and disappointment, she suddenly bercame a "good" friend of the same lady that was so bad and nasty in her previous vocabulary. Apart from backbiting and slandering, this particular lady took it upon herself to be the number two "boss" in her husband's ministry by interfering in certain aspects of office administration particularly those invoving her husband's aides.

To her, I would like to say that backbiting and slandering are shame and disgrace. May the Almighty have mercy on you.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Millions facing catastrophe in Kenya and Somalia

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that millions of vulnerable people in Kenya and Somalia could face a catastrophe if sufficient food donations are not delivered to them in the coming months.

WFP described the situation in the two countries as "serious - very serious".

Some 1.4 million people are facing starvation in Somalia due to the never-ending security problem. Lately, armed militias loyal to a new alliance of faction leaders are fighting against armed militias of the Islamic courts.

Security issues have hampered overland food convoys while a spate of ship hijackings off the coast of Somalia last year (2005) closed WFP's normal supply routes for food aid by sea.

Somali leaders must set aside their differences and guarantee safe passage of aid to those in need.

What is the so called free world doing to help Somalia? The United States should focus its attention to this part of the world instead of creating tension and unstability in the Middle-east by targetting Iran after Iraq. Bush should not waste American wealth and lives of her young men and women by going to war "to protect' its security, which is clearly false just like its claims that Iraq had WMDs.

Pix above: Yours truly, Syed Imran Alsagoff (left) with President of the Somali Republic, H.E. Abdinur Darman, (before the formation of a Federal Transitional Parliament in 2004). The Somali President was in Malaysia in 2003 and had called on the then Minister, Prime Minister's Department in Putrajaya.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Al-Habib Umar Bin Hafidz

Al-Alim Al-Alamah Al-Arifbillah Al-Habib As-Sayyid Umar bin Muhammad bin Salim Bin Hafidz, rector of Darul Mustafa Ribat, Hadramaut, Yaman, recognised as amongst the most renowned and respected scholar of Islamic world, giving a speech at a gathering in Taman Tun Abdul Razak, Ampang, Selangor state on 2nd March 2006.

His visit to Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia was in conjunction with the celebration of Maal Hijrah 1427.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Khairy Jamaluddin is hot news

(Pix - Seri Perdana - the official residence of the Malaysian Prime Minister)

Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi's son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin is certainly hot news. He is said to be an up and coming politician and is now the number two man in Umno Youth, the junior wing of Abdullah's main Malay political party.

Khairy or KJ to some people, is being chased, literally, by at least two on-line news establishments.

Agendadaily, a popular Malay language news portal, was disappointed when the soon to be 30-year-old KJ did not reply to their e-mail as promised. KJ was asked to comment on what was written by Kalimullah Hassan, deputy chairman and editorial advisor of the New Straits Times (NST) on what was discussed, in a closed-door meeting, of Umno's information bureau. Kalimullah is not a member of the bureau. (please see my earlier postings).

KJ is Kalimullah's business partner. I am uncertain whether they are genuine business partners or simply sleeping-partners. It is common among Umno leaders at various levels to be "business partners" especially to non-Malays. As sleeping partners, they were paid handsome fees to use their political standings to get contracts or projects reserved for bumiputras or Umnoputras to the opposition parties.

The internet news media also reported that KJ is "close" to actress Maya Karin, which he denied.

Apart from KJ, PM Abdullah's political secretary in the finance ministry, Reezal Merican Naina Merican, is being sued for divorce by his second wife, actress Sharifah Norhaslinda. Reezal Merican is a member of the Kepala Batas Umno division in Penang headed by Abdullah.

My sympathies to Abdullah Badawi.

The pigtailed macaque of Taman TAR Ampang

There are 19 species of macaques identified by scientists so far. Three of the 19 macaque species lives in the jungles bordering Taman Tun Abdul Razak, Ampang Jaya district, Selangor. Of the three, the pigtailed macaque (pix above) and the longtailed macaque comes out of the jungle to be fed by human beings. The silverleaf macaque or lutong in Malay, seldom do so but once in while will show up to eat the juicy fruits of the fig trees.

The pigtailed macaque or beruk in Malay, inhabit tropical evergreen rainforests of Southeast Asia from Myanmar (Burma) to Malaysia and Indonesia. Longtailed macaque or kera in Malay, are found in many of the same places as pigtailed macaques, but they have a larger geographical distribution, extending to the Philippines. The longtailed macaques are more likely to be along rivers or in secondary forest, on flatter terrain, and at lower elevations than pigtailed macaques. Pigtailed macaques more often inhabit primary forest and hilly terrain.

In the east coast states of the Malay peninsula, that is Kelantan and Terengganu, the pigtailed macaques are trained by men to pluck coconuts.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Putrajaya - administrative capital of Malaysia

Putrajaya,the administrative capital of Malaysia is a unique Asian city. The buildings are of Asian and Islamic architecture. It is the brainchild of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The architects, engineers and town planners and main contractors are Malaysians...but most of the construction workers are Indonesians, Thais and Burmese. Well! we can say that it was a good example of Asean collaboration.

Gurney Drive, Penang - where is the beach?

In the 1950s till late 1970s, there was a beautiful, sandy beach at Gurney Drive. Children went to the beach to swim in the pollution-free sea. Women and girls were there to dig for cockles and tiny shells to bring home as fresh seafood.

Fishermen, mostly Indians, went out to sea in the evening to return with various types of fish, prawns and crabs to be sold to eager buyers waiting by the sea front.

That was Gurney Drive. It is "was" because the good things mentioned were gone. The beach had disappeared, the sea is polluted and is not safe to swim, the fishermen were gone to the other end of Gurney Drive, off Northam Road or Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah.

Gurney Drive or Padang Kota Baru to the local Malays is now congested with too many restaurants and food courts. The coastal road is traffic-heavy. Gone are the good old days of peace and serenity. Is this the cost of modern day development?

Get well soon Syed Ismail

Syed Ismail Alhabshee is recuperating at home in Taman Tun Abdul Razak, Ampang after undergoing knee surgery. Being a happy and easy going young man, he is already feeling bored and lonely at home. Can you blame him for that?

His right leg, from the thigh downwards, is under bandage and he walks with the aid of crutchs.

Ismail is my wife's nephew and when we went to visit him today, he was away to enjoy the scenery (apart from watching girls on their evening jogs) and ate donuts at a newly opened kiosk. No he did not walk but was driven by elder brother Ilyas and accompanied by three cousins.

Ismail suffered from torn ligament and the doctor recommended surgery. I was told that there is another solution to the problem - prolotherapy.

Prolotherapy works on all knee problems with excellent results. Only in the case of a complete torn ligament is prolotherapy somewhat limited. If there is a partial tear, prolotherapy can reconstruct the ligament and strengthen the joint.

Prolotherapy, according to a medical publication, is short for "proliferation theraphy" or rapid production theraphy. What prolotherapy rapidly produces is collagen and cartilage. Collagen is a naturally occurring protein in the body that is necessary element for the formation of new connective tissue that holds the skeletal infrastructure together. These include tendons, ligaments, muscle fascia and joint capsular tissue.

There are certainly instances in life when surgery is called for, but not nearly as often as it is currently performed. Even so-called "minor" surgery takes a drastic toll on the human body, physically traumatizing and permanently altering its structures, often to its detriment.

Ismail, we cannot be happy unless you have completely recovered. We pray and hope for your early and complete recovery.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Malaysian politicians are well taken care of

In Malaysia, politicians never retire but continues to enjoy life and what have you till they drop dead.

Recently retired minister of information, Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir, has been appointed chairman of not one but three companies. Abdul Kadir, an Indian Muslim but recognised as a constitutional Malay, is from Kedah state and was once aligned to Abdullah Badawi in Team B that failed to topple Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Abdullah is now the Prime Minister, thanks to Dr Mahathir.

Abdul Kadir, who resigned on Feb 14 less than 24 hours before he was to be sacked by Abdullah, will lead Karambunai Corp Bhd, FACB Industries Inc Bhd and Petaling Tin Bhd.

He replaced Tengku Zainal Adlin as chairman of Karambunai while the chairman of FACB, Sulaiman Sujak and chairman of Petaling Tin, Jaafar Abu Bakar were demoted as deputy chairman in favour of Abdul Kadir.

Jaafar and Sulaiman should have resigned instead of agreeing to be demoted. But, resignation is something that is very rare in Malaysia, either in the political arena or the corporate world. The incumbents will hold on to their posts until and unless they were either forced to do so or for legal reasons.

Abdul Kadir's appointments, with the blessings of Abdullah Badawi, in a way was in bad taste. Why? Well for the simple reason that it indicated that Malaysia lacked qualified and suitable candidates to be chairman of listed companies or government-linked corporations.

Malaysian politicians, especially those associated with the ruling party, UMNO in particular, were appointed to sit as chairman or directors of listed companies, state owned corporations, port authorities, semi-government corporations and government-linked companies.

Most of them were not qualified professionally to be where they are. Men and women with no knowledge of the rubber industry, for examaple, were appointed to sit as board members of companies and corporations dealing directly with the industry, or someone ignorant of the transport sector appointed to sit on the board of a transport company and so on so forth.

What the government is doing is no better than letting the sewer rat to repair the pumpkin.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Puteri Gunung Ledang - The Musical

On Monday evening, we were fortunate to attend the popular musical drama - Puteri Gunung Ledang (The Princess of Mount Ophir) at Kuala Lumpur's Istana Budaya (Palace of Culture).

The musical attracted full-house audience daily when it opened on Feb 7 and was scheduled to end on Sunday (Feb 26), but overwhelming response saw two extra performances on Feb 27 and 28.

Long queues of theatre lovers were seen outside Istana Budaya (Kuala Lumpur's version of the Sydney Opera House) as early as 7.30 a.m. to buy tickets for the two extra performances. Tickets were sold out three hours after the box office opened at 9 a.m.

The performance was produced by Enfinity Production and co-directed by Zahim Hisham Albakri and Adlin Aman Ramli (who played the role of Sultan Mahmud of Melaka), with music composed by Singapore's "shop till you drop singer-composer" Dick Lee and featuring Tiara Jacquelina as Puteri Gunung Ledang, London-based Stephen Rahman-Hughes as Hang Tuah the Melaka Admiral, Sukania Venogopal as the the nanny and rapper-actor A.C.Mizal as the Majapahit ruler.

Enfinity Production's managaing director, Tiara Jacquelina a.k.a. Gusti Putri Retno Dumilah the princess of Majapahit (in Java), said there have been several invitations to stage Puteri Gunung Ledang abroad, including in Singapore and she hoped to bring the production to the island republic next year.

The production was based on a popular Malay legend on love epic, blind loyalty, betrayal and "political" manipulation, which sounded familiar with the current Malay political elites.

My only complaint - the music (beating of drums) was a bit loud and the chorus was too loud. Overall, it was a good and entertaining performance.