Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Photos of the Police vs Price Hike Protestors on May 28, 2006.

Malaysiakini is hosting some photos on the police action on that day and have called the photo album "Bloody Sunday".

The police FRU hose down the crowd that gather in front of KLCC and we see a few photos of a big dude who gets the short end of a big stick. And there are also photos of arrests being made.

While there are no photos of the FRU actually charging the protestors, the photo that appeared in Singapore's Today newpaper (photo and the blog below) shows FRU personnel kicking a man when he was pretty much down and subdued.

My question, "how did Malaysiakini obtain these before and after photos but none show the FRU actually acting on the crowd?"

And this other question is for our veritable police force. How does the Royal Thai Police manage to control and contain repeated demonstrations which were reported to be 100,000 strong at times, without incident (well, none was reported anyway and I was actually in Bangkok for a month during that time) - while the Royal Malaysian Police find it necessary to rough up 600 people who looked like they were on a picnic with their kids?!!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

IPCMC No Good... says IGP

Apparently, the Police published a 12 page report on their website which contents included some strident comments how the Police Force rejects the notion of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission.

An article in NST Online provides some background on the report.

The document apparently starts off with reasons why the police rejects the IPCMC. The document stated that the establishment of the IPCMC was...

"unconstitutional, prejudicial to national security and public order, victimised the people, and could cause a state of anarchy which would undermine the ruling coalition's power".
Being the layman that I am, I fail to see how the establishment of an independent commission to look into the misconduct of the police force is unconstitutional or prejudicial to national security or public order. The police are supposed to uphold the constitution, not hold themselves above it. If the constitution allows for the formation of such a body to oversee the police force, and the people via the parliament so desire it... what is the issue?

How is it prejudicial to national security and public order? In case the senior policemen have forgotten, the powers of the police are given by the laws of the land. And what the law giveth, it may taketh away. So as long as the police conduct their duties within the ambit of the law, again, what's the issue? Who is being victimised? Are they imply that the police currently maintain national security and preserve public order by breaking the law themselves

This last one's unacceptable.
The IPCMC could cause a 'state of anarchy which could undermine the ruling coalition's power'.
Since when is it the police's job to maintain the ruling coalition's power? The police are supposed to apolitical and serve the country and uphold its laws. Why does it care which party is in power? Maybe it's about time that the IGP start reporting to the parliament, rather than the Minister. I hope that this is just a slip of the tongue, and the report meant to imply that the 'ruling coalition' is actually the government of the day, whoever that may be and duly elected by the people that police force is entreated to serve.

Police personnel further objected to the setting up of the commission because:
- It undermined the IGP's administrative and enforcement power;
I envision that the commission will help promulgate some guidelines for the police force where the current standing orders are vague, or are not sufficiently supported by the country's laws. In no way, do I see the commission interfering with the operations, administration and work of police personnel.
- The scope of "misconduct" was too wide and would complicate the routine duties of police
The definition of misconduct is neither wide nor narrow. It's merely misconduct or not. The police are supposed to operate and conduct themselves within the ambit of the law and the powers provided to them by such law to carry out their duties. Unless the current routine duties of the police contravene the law, the force's modus operandi would not change. Where is the issue?

And from the nude squat case, claims of police brutality during interrogation and detention, and the recent police / FRU (Federal Reserve Unit)'s heavy handed (footed) action against the price hike demonstrators in front of KLCC, it is fairly clear that some revamp of the force's standing orders and procedures are required. And the commission will be essential to this effort.
- The formation of IPCMC would mean that other bodies such as the Police Force Commission, Anti-Corruption Agency, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, Attorney-General's Chambers, Public Complaints Bureau and the Internal Security Ministry had failed in the discharge of their duties.

We cannot sidetrack the IPCMC just because we don't want to offend these agencies. And judging by the current state of affairs... don't you think that at least some aspects their duties may not have been discharged to their fullest extent? I think that the 'possibility' that some of these agencies may have failed in their responsibilities makes the establishment of the IPCMC even more important

An earlier blog about the Police's Lost Code of "Bersih, Cekap and Amanah" might interest you at this juncture.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Police Quell Price Hike Protest in front of KLCC.

Above is the report in Singapore's TODAY newspaper (click on picture to read) about Sunday's protest in front of KLCC against the 12% electricity tariff adjustment. Contrast that to the much milder version in Malaysia's The Star today (below):

Opposition party men protest power price hike

KUALA LUMPUR: Members of various opposition parties staged a protest against the 12% electricity tariff increase in front of KLCC Sunday. Parti Keadilan Rakyat information bureau chief Tian Chua led the protest which began at 10am. More than 600 people, including PAS and DAP members, took part in the protest. PAS youth chief Salahuddin Ayub and DAP NGO bureau chief Ronnie Liu were among the opposition leaders involved.

At about 11am when the protest grew rowdy, police used a water cannon on demonstrators who refused to disperse. Dang Wangi OCPD Asst Comm Kamal Pasha Jamal said police detained 18 men including Salahuddin and Liu as well as two women. “We have taken them to the Hang Tuah station lock-up for questioning. We will release them after that,” said ACP Kamal Pasha, adding that the crowd dispersed at 12pm.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Sign the Petition to setup the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

Have a read and remember to sign the petition organised by the Bar Council of Malaysia to the Malaysian government urging that the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission be setup as soon as possible.

The link to the petition:

Rumors of 'Malaysia Disneyland'

UPDATED: See comments below.

Interesting article in Asia Times Online about the possibility of a Disneyland in Johor, Malaysia. A good read, sounds plausible, but will it happen? You guess is as good as mine.

The writer cleverly links the question of gate numbers to the possible flow of tourists from Singapore with reference to the recent announcement of the successful bidding for the Singapore IR (Integrated Resort) in Marina Bay, as well as the unconcluded bidding for the 2nd IR in Sentosa.

My question is what happens to Genting? Take away its casino and its theme park (assuming that people will be drawn away to Singapore's IR and Johor Disneyland), all that remains are some huge hotels with way too many rooms and a crappy drive up a steep hill.

The article is here.

Monaco F1 GP 2006 Qualifying: Schumacher stripped of pole position!

1 F Alonso
2 M Webber
3 K Raikkonen
4 JP Montoya
5 R Barrichello
6 J Trulli
7 D Coulthard
8 N Rosberg
9 G Fisichella
10 R Schumacher

Michael Schumacher has been stripped of pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix and will have to start Sunday's race from the back of the grid. He controversially beat Renault's Fernando Alonso to pole position in Saturday's qualifying when he stopped on the track during the last minutes of the session. Yellow flags were waved and the position of M. Schumacher's stalled car would have compromised the flying laps of the 9 drivers behind him, including 2nd placed Fernando Alonso.

After an eight-hour inquiry, race stewards concluded that M. Schumacher deliberately stopped on the track, preventing his rivals from setting a faster time.

Catch the Monaco GP Race tonight at 7.30pm on Malaysia's 8TV.
F1 races are not shown on Singapore free-to-air TV.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Malaysiakini interviews Dr Mahathir

On the 16 of May, editors of independent Malaysian netpaper, Malaysiakini, interviewed our former PM, Tun Dr Mahathir. But the tightarses at Malaysiakini want readers to pay to read the interview.

Dr M, you should have picked another website which would publish your interview for free.

If anyone has a copy of the interview, please send it to me and I'll post it up.

Malaysian school textbooks advocating murder?

This letter was sent to malaysiakini. It details how Pendidikan Islam textbooks are advocating and justifying murder for committing apotasy. Religious prescription aside, is this what we want our children to read in school? And people talk about childish violence in Spongebob Squarepants cartoons being a bad influence... sheesh.

Can anyone confirm this by scanning the pages of the textbook or something?

The text of the letter below:

School textbooks advocating murder
Very Concerned Mother
May 25, 06 4:20pm

I wonder if the present government is aware that violence and murder is being preached through its own curricula and textbooks. This is not an exaggeration. I urge the government to seriously consider if its curriculum for Islamic Education is what it wants to feed young minds.

I was shocked and disturbed to find out that the secondary school syllabus for Islamic Education (Pendidikan Islam) includes learning how to deal with apostates and that one of the prescriptions is to kill them off.

In many widely-used Pendidikan Islam workbooks (which base their texts on the Ministry of Education’s syllabus), imposing a death sentence on apostates is offered as a religious duty. Allow me to extract some of what is written (and the original Malay version for readers to check on context and accuracy).

For example, under the heading ‘Ways of Dealing with Apostates’ (Cara menangani orang murtad), the following precepts are given:

1. Advise and persuade the offender to repent and return to Islam (menasihati dan memintanya supaya bertaubat dan kembali kepada Islam)

2. To impose a death sentence (melaksanakan hukuman bunuh)

The text also has a heading which reads: ‘The death sentence against an apostate who refuses to repent and return to Islam has several virtues’. (Hukuman bunuh terhadap orang murtad yang tidak mahu kembali kepada ajaran Islam mempunyai beberapa hikmah).

Among which are:

1. To show to others at large that Islam is not a religion to be mocked at will (menunjukkan kepada orang ramai bahawa Islam bukanlah agama yang boleh dipersenda dengan sewenang-wenangnya).

2. So that no one will dare to denigrate the Islamic religion (supaya tidak ada orang yang berani memburuk-burukkan agama Islam).

I am not sure now whether the hudud laws passed in Kelantan and Terengganu are now being activated. But for the rest of Malaysia, punishing someone labeled apostate is nothing but a grave act!

We live in a society where everything mouthed by leaders and the authorities (textbooks included) are accepted as the gospel truth. How can we be sure that children fed the above commands will not one day act to fulfill their jihad?

Sadly, it is going to be of the brutal kind and we shall trace the answers behind such a tragedy to our very own government-endorsed textbooks.

The Malaysian Car Industry. One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.

The Edge reported that the govt has told car companies to get permission from Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs before holding any cheap sales of cars to prevent cheating cases.

This is yet another policy inconsistency the current administration tends to be prone to, of late. On one hand, the govt has rationalised import duties and announced a National Automotive Policy (NAP) to revitalise the Malaysian car industry, but on the other hand they issue instructions like these, which are tantamount to govt price control.

What kind of cheating are they talking about? Who gets cheated when cars are sold at cheap prices? What are the possible benefits or who are the benefactors of measures to maintain high prices? Whichever way we look at it, the consumer loses by having to pay higher prices because of less price competition amongst car companies.

The car industry will also suffer. But that suffering will not be borne equally. The more uncompetitive and unprofitable car companies stand to gain the most from this action - at the expense of the consumers and other car companies, of course. These car companies are the ones which are hurt by the competitive pricing levels currently and are not able (or are unwilling) to respond by lowering prices themselves. Let's count how many companies fit that bill. There's... Proton... errr... Proton.... and... uh, Proton.

Something stinks here, and the stench is awfully familiar.

The article in The Edge is here.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

An Honest Viewpoint on the World's Impression of Islam

The Followers - Musings by Marina Mahathir

Marina Mahathir is known for her down-to-earth, honest opinions and articulate way of getting her points across. Her recent article published by The Star is more of that ilk.

The perception of Islam by the rest of the world is coloured by the actions of its followers. She draws the comparison of the Islamic world's reaction to Salman Rushdie's 'Satanic Verses' not so long ago and the current reaction of Christians to Dan Brown's 'Da Vinci Code', amongst other astute observations.

A truly deserving read. Any of the highlighted links will send you to the original article.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Lessons of the Sarawak Elections - a Tale of Unfulfilled Promises

In today's newpapers, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said he was waiting for a report from the Sarawak Barisan Nasional and the Chinese-based Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) on what caused the BN's defeat in nine of the 71 seats during the recently concluded Sarawak state elections. When asked why Chinese voters had not favoured the Barisan in the nine seats and what the defeat reflected, he said "We cannot be hasty in making a conclusion. We have to first study the internal and external factors as well as the specific issues."

Well, dear DPM, it won't take much study or a political genius to deduce what happened here. I can tell you what was in those voters minds when they cast their votes against the BN.

Unfulfilled promises!

The BN promised many things during the last General Election. But since then, the perception of Chinese citizens is that there has been little progress made. In some aspects, we have actually backtracked and the situation worsened.

1. Islam Hadhari

Malaysians in general, and the non-Muslims in particular embraced the concept wholeheartedly. Promises were made that Malaysia's Islam administration would be tolerant & compassionate, modern & progressive and fair & just - to all Malaysians. But what has happened? Non-muslims have been arrested in outdoor public areas for holding hands. Dress codes have been introduced compelling non-Muslim policewomen to don the tudung or head covering. Local councils are arbitrarily enforcing moral laws. The Syariah Court rules over cases where it involves non-Muslims, where their rights & interests cannot possibly be protected - as they should not be subject to Syariah laws in the first place. The highest Civil court in Malaysia is perceived by the public to have abdicated it's consitutional responsibility and overarching authority when faced with this difficult question.

2. Eradicating Corruption

The man on the street will tell you that nothing has changed. We'll seen one or two high profile ACA investigations, but surely that is not all!

3. Improving the Delivery System

There have been 2 Royal Commissions investigating the police force. We have yet to see the full implementation of the proposals. Is there further progress on the setting up of the independent body to investigate and take action on public complaints against the police force? Govt services have not changed. It still takes a long time and much hassle to do the simplest of things. Bureaucracy is still paramount in our public service. Local councils are still fiefdoms of local bureaucrats and councillors. Just the other day, the MPPJ acted to stop the PWD from erecting overhead bridges. Privatisation, GLCs and white elephants are still costing the public millions, if not billions in terms of additional fees for the consumer and the use of taxpayer money & EPF for compensation or subsidies.

4. Meritocracy

How far have we come? The BN promised much in this category, but at the end of the day - what do we get? More of the same. The NEP has been renewed in a flurry of keris waving and chest thumping (albeit with a promise of better implementation), scholarships and education policies are still causing smart young Malaysians to seek greener pastures, no action taken against govt funded scholars who don't come home, projects, tenders, licences, opportunities still not available to non-bumi firms, houses still being sold with a bumiputra discount to rich bumiputras who don't deserve it... the examples are endless but my free time isn't.

So, in summary, why have the Chinese voters in Sarawak turned against the BN... unfulfilled promises to change.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Local Councils and Govt Agencies Given Too Much Power?

Recently there was front page news that MPPJ, a local municipal council, acted to stop the construction work being carried out by the Federal govt. The council cited jurisdiction and the failure to obtain their permission to carry out work. It was being carried out on federal land, nobody was inconvenienced and it wasn't costing the council a cent. But proper respect wasn't paid and their 'permission' was not obtained.

Just recently, the High Court ruled that it was within a local councils powers to fine the public if they behaved indecently. This stemmed from the incident of a young couple who were caught & fined by the local authority for allegedly hugging and kissing in KLCC park. The couple maintain that it was merely a peck on the cheek and in addition, were fined after refusing to offer a bribe. Are local councils entitled to become the moral police? Can they be trusted to carry out such sensitive and far-reaching enforcement impartially and professionally? Is it even possible to enforce such vague moral laws? Even the cabinet have acknowledged that there is no applicable definition of indecent behaviour, but this has not stopped the local councils from enforcing actions against it.

Some time ago, the enforcement personnel of the JPJ or Road Transport Dept were allowed to carry firearms. The rationale was that they sometimes dealt with offenders like tontos who possessed weapons. Local councils have also asked for firearms for their enforcement units since they sometimes face hard core criminals who protect sellers of pirated discs etc. Should they be given firearms? Do they have the training? More importantly, do they have the discipline, ethics and self control when dealing with guns? Can we guarantee they will not abuse the increased firepower against normal road users or petty hawkers who are charged of mere misdemeanours? Wouldn't it be more appropriate to obtain assistance from the police, rather than arm poor trained, poorly educated personnel?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Trust in God, everyone else pays cash - My opinion of Da Vinci's Code

From a posting I made in Ipoh forums.

I'm no religious scholar, but the devil's advocate questions thrown up by the book intrigue me. Essentially, the bible's made up of the personal written accounts of a "selection" of people.

What of the accounts of the people who are not included in the bible? What did other versions of the gospel say?

And what guarantees that the accounts by Luke or Matthew etc. etc. are indeed the true? Or that the parties who actually put them together to form the bible were completely impartial? Was there embellishment by the church over the centuries?

As my former boss used to say, "Trust in God, everyone else pays cash". It remains that the bible was written, compiled and interpreted by men, not god. And man is not infallible.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Should the rule of law should be placed above peace and security?

The police have apparently finished the probe into the 500 strong mob that disrupt the May 14, 2006 forum in Penang on the conflict between civil and syariah laws in Malaysia.

Police have said that the parties involved have been identified, but it remains to be seen if any concrete or meaningful action will be taken against the protesters.

An article in the Sun about this incident is here in this link.

Some of the clearer thinking senators in the Dewan Negara have criticised the police for stopping the forum for fear of the protests getting unruly. But isn't that getting the whole 'rule of law' thing wrong?

Aren't our nation's law and the police supposed to ensure that law breakers are restrained and law abiders protected? Shouldn't the police have made sure that the mob of protestors be controlled and the forum allowed to carry on?

After all, they issued a permit for the forum but I'm pretty sure the mob didn't bother to stop by the nearest police station and apply for one. I think that giving in to mob pressure, and stopping the forum, is ridiculous. That's like locking innocent citizens in jail because we're afraid they'll be harmed by criminals who are running free.

Shouldn't it be the other way round?

And it never fails me to see how utter geniuses get into the Dewan Negara. Datuk Omar Faudzar asked whether the rule of law should be placed above peace and security.

My dear datuk... the rule of guarantees peace and security. We don't abdicate the rule of law in the hopes that law breakers don't get provoked. We use the rule of law to subdue and restrain those who break the law, so that the end result is peace and security for the rest of us.

Giving in to threats of violence will not result in peace and security. It only results in more threats of violence. It is, in fact, counter productive and undermines peace and security completely. The protestors may have legitimate views but as our PM has said before, they have to use the right channels to make themselves heard.

We have already let the law breakers achieve their objective by disrupting the forum. Don't let them get away with it as well. Or else it'll be a total walkover. Now's the time for the country's law makers and law enforcers to show some backbone and fulfil the nation's trust in them.

Lewdness according to a Malaysian Senator...

According to the article by V. Vasudevan and Minderjeet Kaur which appeared in the NST website on 18 May 2006, a Malaysian Senator in the Dewan Negara had some interesting viewpoints about lewd dressing.

Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi stated that ballet dancers in cultural shows were lewd and indecent, "They look out of place and do not contribute aesthetically to the performance either. Also, their attire could be considered lewd," he said, in reference to the figure-hugging attire ballet dancers wear.

Puad defined lewd attire as that which could cause a man "to turn his head for more than a glance".

This brings up contentious points which perhaps the obviously learned Mr Puad could elaborate on:

1. what constitutes "turn" for "more" than a "glance"? What if my neck hurts and I have to move my head slowly? What if I was not wearing my spectacles and could not see clearly?

But seriously,

2. is it then also lewd if a woman, rather than a man, turns her head for more than a glance?

3. and what if the man concerned (the one with the slow turning head) had low personal morals and high imagination? He would be looking for "more than a glance" at a woman... any woman... wearing anything - lewd or otherwise.

So, here's the issue: Should the standard or definition of lewd dressing be defined by the person who is reacting the most to that type of dressing? Is it not logical that the lower the morals and self control of that person, the more he will react & the longer he will look?!

Then by Puad's definition - won't our moral standards being dictated by those of us who have the lowest morals?

For people who find themselves getting uncomfortable looking at ballet dancers, may I suggest increasing your diet of moral fibre so that one day, you will be able to look at decently dressed women without getting unwanted physical reactions.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Of Spyware and Windows XP

I've only had this new Lenovo Thinkpad X60 notebook for little more than a month. Already I've had 2 major spyware infections.

It's now about 2:15am and I've just re-staged / reformat & reinstalled my month-old notebook. It'a got infected with spyware yesterday and it just went downhill from there. I had AdAware, Spyware Blaster, Microsoft Defender Beta 2 and Ewido Mal-Ware installed. But even with all this freeware firepower, I still couldn't clean the spyware completely. And the more scans and cleans I ran, the more Windows became corrupted. It got to a stage where even the simple file manager or window explorer became unstable and hung every time I had it open for more than a couple of minutes.

But luckily, the Rescue & Recovery software in the X60 is excellent. About 5GB of the hard drive is partitioned off for the recovery program and ALL installation files. Having not done any backups, I chose to restage or return my X60 to factory specs using this software (which ran independently of Windows). It got everything reinstalled in about 2 hours. This software is so good that you can even connect to the internet or connect a USB drive without booting up Windows.

After reinstalling virtually everything, I've just finished making a recovery backup in case I need it again in the future. This way, I can restore the system to a recovery point, rather than to reinstall the factory specifications.

Damn, it's 2:30am. I need sleep. Good thing I'm done. I'm going to get some shut eye.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Essilor Airwear with Transitions and Crizal Alize. Sillouette Titanium Rimless Frame.

Now does that sound complicated or what? But that's the name of the most expensive pair of spectacles that I have ever made in my life.

Here's what I wrote about Transitions when I was researching it earlier this month.

Okay, so what did I actually get?

I am currently using a rimless titanium frame made by Sillouette. This titanium stuff is great. The whole frame weighs only a few grammes due to it's minimalist design and the intrinsic light weight - high strength qualities of titanium. The model I have is unpainted polished titanium. Therefore, it has a shiny silver finish, that on my 4 year old frame, has not blemished one bit despite the sweat, heat and daily grind. It's just a damn good frame. So good I've gotten one exactly like it for this new pair of spectacles. The price in Singapore is about SGD 310 but since I'm making this newest pair in Focus Point, Ipoh, Malaysia, it will cost around RM 600.

And the piece de resistance.. the lens.

Brand: Essilor
Model: Airwear polycarbonate
Coatings: Transitions, Crizal Alize

Polycarbonate is supposed to be considerably lighter than regular lens and virtually unbreakable.

Transitions, if you've read my previous blog, is the photochromatic coating which will turn the normally perfectly clear lens dark grey when it is exposed to sunlight (UV). You can have it in brown if you want.

Crizal is a multi coating which is supposed to be anti-reflection, scratch resistant and promotes comfort when working with computer monitor glare. Crizal Alize is the next generation multi coating which supposedly adds hygroscopic qualities to the lens surface and make it smudge resistant and easier to clean as well.

Cost? It's SGD540 in Singapore and about RM1000 in Malaysia.

I just had my eyes checked and the spectacles ordered today. It'll be ready in 2 or 3 weeks.

Spanish F1 Grand Prix 2006 - Results

Fernando Alonso (Renault) pulls it off again. He drove a faultless race to lead from the start and take the checkered flag about 15 seconds in front of Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), having lapped everyone up to 7th, out of 17 cars which finished (I'm doing this from memory, so some of the details might not be exact, ok).

Michael drove a good race as well, but at no time during the race, was he able to put up a credible challenge to Alonso. Better luck next time. Hopefully Monaco will be a closer race.

Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault) was 3rd after being pipped by Michael after the 2nd pitstop. Fisichella's race was patchy at best. He wasn't very consistent when it mattered and it allowed Michael to leapfrog him during the pitstop.

Filipe Massa was 4th in the 2nd Ferrari. He set the fastest lap of the race (1m:14.6s) but couldn't keep up the hot laps consistently during much of the race.

I think this race really shows the performance gap between the 1st and 2nd drivers in Renault and Ferrari. In identical cars, both 2nd drivers were roughly 30 seconds behind their team leaders. That's a huge margin if you're supposed to be one of the 22 very best drivers in the world.

Kimi Raikonnen (McLaren Mercedes) 5th in an uneventful race for him.

Jensen Button (BAR Honda) 6th and he will probably blame his teammate Ruben Barichello for blocking his during the 1st stint before the 1st pitstop.

For the rest of the results, check

Sunday, May 14, 2006

There and Back Again. PM: Not all students who don't return are unpatriotic.

I think the problem with Malaysian students not returning to Malaysia after completing their studies is not as complicated as it's made out to be. Malaysian students going overseas generally fall into 2 categories. The self-funded and the govt funded.

As far as I'm concerned, self funded students can do whatever they want. They spent their own money and they are entitled to make up their own minds as to where their future is, be it in Malaysia or elsewhere.

For govt funded students though... it's a no-brainer as well. As a taxpayer, this is what I say to you. You spent my money, and I'm going to get my pound of flesh. In my opinion, govt funded students who finish their studies but do not return to serve the country are not only unpatriotic, they are criminals - as sure as borrowers who default on their loans.

To me, the govt should not spend money to "lure" them back. The govt should concentrate their efforts on collecting the money spent from the non-returning graduates or their guarantors. Our tax money was spent on "SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAMS" to produce more educated Malaysians who are able to help the country develop and prosper. I said SCHOLARSHIP programs, not EMIGRATION programs. The tuition fees and living expenses that your countrymen have paid for you is not for you to find a better life elsewhere. It for you to learn some skills and come home to build a better life for everyone.

You owe the country your services in return for your free education. If you can't get it through that foreign educated head of yours, I hope MARA, the PSD, or Petronas etc track you down and prosecute you to the full extent of the law.

As for the govt, make these scholarship students sign service bonds or use their parent's or a guarantor's EPF/fixed deposits as security before giving them the scholarship. And indicate the bond arrangement on their passports so that the passports cannot be renewed past the date when they are supposed to return to Malaysian and begin their service.

Spanish F1Grand Prix.Today's Race Day!!!!

I'm back in Malaysia for the weekend and am going to enjoy my first non-fuzzy F1 GP this year. I've been watching F1 GPs in Singapore courtesy of a UHF booster tuned to 8TV from Malaysia. Usually, the cars look awfully warm & fuzzy rather than quick & sleek.

So, how did you find qualifying day yesterday? It was good stuff. The last 5 minutes of qualifying provided practically all the excitement, except for David Coulthard's (Red Bull) unfortunate rendevous with the track barriers.

M. Schumacher and F.Massa looked like they had it all sewn up. Fastest during practice and leading during the first 2 qualifying periods. But it all fell apart during the last 5 minutes when F. Alonso and G. Fisichella (Renault) put in very, very quick laps which I think took Ferrari by surprise. They timed it almost to perfection, leaving it to the very end of qualifying. In a last ditch attempt to regain the front line of the grid, M. Schumacher and F. Massa used fresh tyres in one last hot lap but it was in vain.

Alonso on pole position and Fisichella make up an all Renault first row. M. Schumacher and Massa bring up the 2nd row. I can't be bothered about the rest.

One more hour till the greens lights go off!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Sepet, inter-racial relationships and the infidel

Yasmin Ahmad's 2 movies "Sepet" and "Gubra" have broken the mould for a Malaysian movie. Just what is so different about these 2 movies? Well, they are thought provoking and explore what's considered taboo topics like mixed marriages and inter-racial relationship dynamics. In a manner that bucks the trend.

Let me talk about Sepet and the issues which it brings up. Sepet is a story of a Malay kampung girl and an ethnic Chinese pirated VCD peddlar who fall in love with each other. Predictably, they face opposition from their families and society, not in the least due to their different racial backgrounds, religions and the Chinese boy's unsavoury profession.

The conventional Malaysian movie usually deals with inter-racial relationships in Malaysia by invariably having the non-Malay half of the relationship converting to his/her Malay partner's religion, culture, customs and naming conventions. Since Sepet tackles this issue a little differently, it (along with Gubra), as a consequence, has been labelled as corrupters of Malay culture.

During a recent tv forum on RTM1 about Sepet and Gubra, two statements made by a couple of the forum's panellists were shocking to say the least.

One of the panellists, a film producer, reported said "Malaysia Melayu punya" (Malaysia belongs to the Malays).

Another panellist, a journalist, reportedly said (translated) "How can a good Muslim girl who prays and reads the Quran fall in love with a Chinese infidel?"

What were they trying to say?

- that non-Malays have no claim to Malaysia despite being citizens since independence? Or that they are basically renters who can and will be evicted if they cross the line... like say, for instance, daring to 'goda' or seduce a Malay person but are not fully willing to convert and forsake who they are since birth?

- that all Chinese are infidels, or that all non-Muslims are infidels? What's this? Religious crusaders in the 21st century?

- that good Muslims cannot fall in love with non-Muslims?

The truly frightening aspect of all this is not the fact that some Malays possess chauvinistic attitudes towards their non-Malays countrymen. What's truly horrifying is that these contentious statements have not provoked any reaction at all from moderate, progressive Malays, nor from Chinese leaders who purport to champion Chinese interests in Malaysia, nor from the govt that needs to reminded that it is a govt for all Malaysians regardless of race, nor from the proponents of Bangsa Malaysia? Nothing has been said so far to censure the individuals involved, nor anything to reassure the public that this is not the position held by the overall Malay community and the govt establishment.

The implications are far reaching, and woe betide Malaysia if this chauvinistic viewpoint reflects the thinking of more people besides the 2 unenlightened panellists. I sincerely hope not, and I personally believe that most Malays in Malaysia are moderate, inclusive and have a more pragmatic outlook on race relations. Having said that, my advise to my non-Malay friends... don't give up that Singaporean PR or Australian PR just yet.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Ipoh -> Senai airport -> Singapore - How to? Using Air Asia and Bus

I noticed that Google directed several queries about AirAsia and express buses to/from Singapore to this blog. So here's what I know, posted for posterity:

Most of the large bus companies like SriMaju, TransNasional etc service the Ipoh - Singapore route. There is significant difference between buying the ticket in Malaysia and Singapore. At the time of posting, a 24 seat coach ticket is RM42 (buy in Ipoh) and S$37 (buy in Sgp). RM60 and S$47 respectively for the spacier 18 seater.

The flight frequency is 4 times a week (1, 3, 5, 7).
Inbound AK6562 (dep JHB 1330 arr IPH 1430)
Outbound AK6563 (dep IPH 1455 arr JHB 1555)

The cheapest fare is RM9.99 + 32.50 (admin fee!) = 42.49.
The most expensive fare that I have purchased is 119.99 + 32.50 = 152.49.
Obviously, if you're the first to book, you get the cheapest fare.

Apart from taxis, there are 2 ways of getting from Senai to Singapore.
1. Senai -> 2nd Link CIQ -> Jurong Interchange
Take CW3 Causeway Express coach from Senai direct to Jurong Interchange via 2nd Link CIQ (RM8). From Jurong, you've got the MRT and a bus interchange.
CW3 buses are 2-3 hours apart (Big downside!).

2A. Senai -> JB Kotaraya -> Causeway CIQ -> Kranji MRT
Take the shuttle bus from Senai to Kotaraya (RM8). At Kotaraya, take CW1 Causeway Express (RM1) to Kranji MRT via causeway CIQ. From Kranji MRT, take the errr... MRT.
Senai shuttle bus is hourly.
CW1 buses are every 15-20 minutes apart.

2B. Senai -> JB Kotaraya -> Causeway CIQ -> Queens St (Bugis)
Take the shuttle bus from Senai to Kotaraya (RM8). At Kotaraya, take CW2Causeway Express (RM1) to Queens St via causeway CIQ. From Queen St, you have a bus interchange and the nearby Bugis MRT.
Senai shuttle bus is hourly.
CW2 buses are every 15-20 minutes apart.

You're an Idiot - Scenes of Everyday Life

During my lunch break, between 12 to 1pm for your info (on the remote chance that my boss is reading this and thinks I'm goofing off), I read this 'Letter to the Editor' in Singapore's Today newspaper (ShortTakes May 11, 2006).

Someone was complaining about the EZ-Link card readers (EZ-Link is the prepaid travel card, similar to the Touch-N-Go) in public buses. He claims that the card readers are situated too high. He went on to give an example of a young man who had his EZ-Link card in his back pocket but could not undo the pocket's zip to get it out. As a result, he held up the bus as he tried in vain to lift his bum to the height of the card reader. In the end, someone helped lift him up to the card reader.

The letter then ends with a suggestion that the card readers be lowered a few inches, so that "most" men can tap without taking out the card from their back pockets.

Ok... good idea. Good... if you're an idiot!

Firstly, how many men keep their cards in their back pockets?

Secondly, how many back pockets have zips?

Thirdly, would you want to pay higher bus fares if the bus companies spend money relocating all the card readers in their hundreds, if not thousands of buses? Spend all that money because one genius didn't realise he was shorter than he thought & didn't have the hand-eye coordination to undo a zip?!

To me, the solution is simple. All short men are not to put their EZ-Link cards into their back pockets with zips on them. Better yet, don't wear pants with zipped pockets. If you have to make a fashion statement, just don't zip up the zips. How hard is that lah?

And don't put your card into those 'hidden pockets' either ("ngum toi" in Cantonese). Chinese mothers usually insist that they be sewn into each pair of their son's pants. For your info, mum, those hidden pockets don't fool robbers, they only make me lose my pants as well my cash during a robbery. But I digress.

The Royal Malaysian Police & "Bersih, Cekap dan Amanah"

Do you remember the days when the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM Polis DiRaja Malaysia) had the motto "Bersih, Cekap dan Amanah"? This literally translated meant Clean, Proficient and Trustworthy. Given, it sounds hokey in English, but it's really much more fluent and forceful in Bahasa Malaysia.

These days, the PDRM have another motto " Mesra, Cepat dan Betul". This means Friendly, Quick and Correct.

Now, which would you rather have?

A police force which is:
- corruption-free (Bersih / Clean),
- professionally proficient (Cekap / Proficient), and
- trustworthy and dependable (Amanah /Trustworthy)?

OR, a force which is:
- all smiles & touchy feely (Mesra / Friendly),
- does things quickly (Cepat / Quick), and
- does it according to the correct procedure (Betul / Correct)?

To me, it is the former, rather than the latter, that embodies the true qualities of the police force. It underlines the integrity of the force and its commitment to an ethical & professional ideal. There is no room for ambiguity about what their duties, obligations and priorities are.

The current motto emphasises the process to be an efficient policeman. It's more a procedural guideline - for the desk sargeant when processing police reports, for example - rather than a professional code that he aspires to and which guides all his actions.

The PDRM has been under intense scrutiny and criticism by the public and has faced no less than 2 special commissions. Much has been put forward about how the force can be improved. Recommendations ranged from higher pay to better housing. Remediation to bread & butter issues is indeed necessary but we should not neglect the intangible value of pride, respect and trust.

Pride needs to be restored to the police force. Our police officers need to again feel proud to put on the uniform and serve the citizens of this country. And our citizens need to be given due reason to put behind their cynicism & again proffer respect to the police force.

Pride and respect comes from trust.

What better way to instil trust than a return to the code of Bersih, Cekap and Amanah. It should be a guide for everything that the police do and form the basis for all their decisions. Bersih, Cekap dan Amanah makes no excuses and dictates in no uncertain terms what the force's duties, obligations and priorities are. Indeed, Bersih, Cekap dan Amanah is exactly what the public need the most from the police force right now.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

An Internet Forum for Ipohites.

My internet discovery for the week. There is forum of Ipohites on the internet. So what's new, you say? The difference is that this forum's active. Real active actually albeit the same bunch of characters do many of the posts. However, it is pretty fun chatting with people who know Ipoh the same way you do etc. especially when you're away from home.

So what you get is news from home and lively chat with people in Ipoh and Ipohites who are elsewhere. And some of them are decent photographers. And they post their photos in high res too. If you ever wanted a windows background of the Ipoh Train Stn, or the limestone hills, or Old Town etc. here's the place to find it.

Another plus is that it's pretty free-for-all and the moderation is quite progressive. So, you won't have people telling you to cover up your aurat or fining you for holding hands.

Monday, May 08, 2006

European GP 2006 @Nurburgring results - Is this the Ferrari Revival?

Ferrari comes in 1st and 3rd (M. Schumacher and F. Massa respectively... of course). Fernando Alonso becomes the filling in the Ferrari sandwich.

Schumacher clearly, clearly had the faster car. Although unable to overtake Alonso before the 2nd pitstop, he was never off Alonso's pace. The Ferrari's blistering hot laps before the 2nd pitstop were enough to silence any doubts about the car or the driver.

Are we seeing a Ferrari revival? I damn well hope so. Even so, Ferrari have an uphill task before them. With Alonso being so very consistent, Schumacher only takes 2 points away from his 21 point lead. They really need Massa to figure in 2nd place, ahead of Alonso. Or if the F1 Gods are keen to provide a spectacle, they might just conjure a couple of DNFs (Did Not Finish) into Alonso's season to really heat things up.

Might we be able to see a 3-horse race this season? Maybe, if Kimi Raikonnen and McLaren get their act together to field a race-winning package within the next race or two. Or else, it might be 2005 all over again for Kimi. A case of too little too late.

Here's a link to an article about yesterday's race at my favourite F1 news site:

Sunday, May 07, 2006

I'm the one, says Jasin MP

Here's a follow article which appeared in "The Sun" on 05 May 2006. Apparent the MP maintains that he was just doing his "job" to "speak up". Hmmph! If his job was to ask the customs authorities to "close one eye" to an apparent wrongdoing.... well job good done to you, mate.

I'm the one, says Jasin MP
by Husna Yusop

DATUK Mohd Said Yusof (BN-Jasin) admitted he was the MP cited in a newspaper report yesterday although his name was omitted in the report.

"I am the one in the story and I went to the customs office after I got a complaint from an entrepreneur from the Sungai Rambai port. The port is in my constituency," he told reporters at Parliament lobby yesterday.

Mohd Said said he had acted as an MP as well as a forwarding agent.

"I went there to ask the customs officials to be lenient. They did their job in seizing the sawn timber but I went there to seek their help in getting the timber released. I asked for the agent to be compounded and the timber released," he said.

On his April 14 meeting with the Malacca customs office, Mohd Said admitted he did ask the department to "close one eye" (tutup sebelah mata) and let the consignment go through.

"The customs was right in holding back the consignment. I only asked for it to be compounded and customs to release it. But they seized it. I do not know what happened after that," he said.

Mohd Said maintained his story at two separate media conferences at the Parliament lobby yesterday, following a motion by Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang to refer the case to the rights and privileges committee.

Asked why he had requested the customs to "close an eye", he said the case was based on technicality as although the sawn timber had exceeded the cross-section of more than 60in, "there was room for debate".

"Take into account the hole in the middle of the timber and the bark which would have been shorn off and the size would not have exceeded the 60in cross-section requirement," he said.

He also maintained that there would not have been any loss of revenue as there were no taxes or royalties due to the government.

Mohd Said said he did not have an interest in the company or the agent who brought in the timber.

"Everybody knows I am a forwarding agent and an MP. I have been in the business for 14 years. But I have no stake in the consignment which was brought in or the company which brought it in," he said.

Last week, while debating the Supplementary Supply Bill, Mohd Said had criticised the customs directorgeneral for the way he had been doing his work.

Asked if he felt the customs were retaliating for the way he had attacked its chief, Mohd Said said he did not know.

"Maybe. But that is up to them. As a wakil rakyat it is my job to speak up and I will continue to speak up," he said.

Express bus passengers turn robbers

Damn, I take Malaysia/Singapore express buses every couple of weeks. This is really distressing. Does this mean I have start packing a magnum when I take the bus?

The article below appeared in the Malaysian newpaper "The Sun" on 05 May 2006.

Express bus passengers turn robbers
by Charles Ramendran

KUALA LUMPUR: Four gunmen, posing as passengers, took a ride on a Singapore-bound express bus from Penang before holding up 17 people and robbing them of their cash and valuables early yesterday.

The gunmen, believed to be Indonesians, held up the driver and co-driver before relieving the other 15 passengers of their money and items totalling RM12,000.

The robbers had boarded the SE Ekspres Sdn Bhdregistered bus at the Sungai Nibong express bus terminal on Penang island at about 10pm on Wednesday. They struck about four hours later after the bus had just left the Rawang R&R area following a brief stop.

The men took up strategic positions on the bus. While one of them stood guard over the driver and the co-driver, his accomplices relieved the passengers, including three women, of cash, handphones, jewellery and other valuables, which they stuffed into a bag.

The robbers warned the passengers to remain calm. No one was injured.

After travelling for about 2km, they ordered the driver to stop. The robbers jumped out of the bus and were seen getting into a waiting car.

The bus driver drove to the Rawang police station where police took down his report and statements from the passengers. They were only able to resume their journey to Singapore at 10am yesterday.

Gombak district police chief ACP Jalil Talib said the getaway car, a Proton Putra reported stolen in Ampang early this year, was found abandoned at Km26 Jalan Templer in Rawang.

Police have mounted a hunt for the robbers and urged those with information on their whereabouts to contact the district CID at 03-6138 5222.

Singapore General Elections 2006 - Results

So, the hammer is down. PAP by a country mile.

The results came out around midnight yesterday (polling day). Winning 66% of the total votes cast nationwide, PAP has retained 82 seats of the 84 seat Singapore parliament. The opposition retains their 2 seats and the opposition candidate with the highest losing % of votes cast will get another NCMP (Non-Constituency MP) seat .

I guess the results are as expected. With 40% of the voters being born after independence, a 66% vote seems reasonable. But papers report that the 66% was evenly spread, meaning apparently 2 out of 3 young Singaporeans approve of PAP's methods. Do you think so?

Anyway, my personal opinion is that the opposition played the wrong strategy in this election. Choosing to confront the PAP over bread and butter issues like jobs, HDB upgrading, manifestos, economic plans etc. They have to realise that they can never beat the PAP along this path.

1. The PAP is the govt. They have access to figures, projections and most importantly, civil service expertise to construct and back their claims. Challenging the ruling party on their figures and charts is a losing game.

2. Track record. It's beyond me why the opposition keeps getting baited to argue with the PAP on track record. The PAP has an excellent track record. The prosperity of Singapore is testament to that. The opposition has NO track record. But the point that they keep missing is that they are NOT EXPECTED to have a track record. If you've never been in govt, nobody expects you to be able to prove that you can do a better job.

3. Forming an alternative govt. This seems to be the opposition's main thrust. They want to be the alternative to the PAP. That's again untenable, why? No data and no track record. Nobody wants an untested govt, especially one made up of sales executives and bar owners.

So how? What can the opposition do? If it were me, me ah... I'd base my campaign on complementing the PAP.

How? I'd argue that as good a job that the PAP is doing, they can do better. How? A credible opposition. No matter how good a single party govt is, it is never optimum. History and logic dictates this fact. Argue that the PAP needs credible opposition to... wait for it.... lend it more credibility! Having the opposition scrutinise its proposals, offer & recommend suggestions, and if the motion so deserves, lend its approval and support - can only make the govt better, more accountable and more transparent.

And what better way to reduce suspicion and antagonism amongst the 33% (who didn't vote for the PAP). People see the value in having a credible opposition. As the 2006 election showed, 33% of Singapore's voters saw value in having some opposition, ANY opposition, regardless of the candidates' quality. That is a sad situation.

So, yeah... that'll be my manifesto. Complement the PAP and help them get better - by being a credible, devil's-advocate opposition in parliament.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Samsung D820. It's cool! It's hot!

There was a Samsung roadshow booth on Orchard Road yesterday (Friday). I strolled in during lunch time and was instantly captivated by the new D820. I had seen pictures of it and already loved it but once the very cute Samsung promoter put the sleek black slide phone into my hand, I was hooked.

It's actually not as small it seems to be. It's about 2cm longer than my D500 and about 1cm wider. But it's only about 1/2 as thick. It feels good in the hand. It's like the Motorola RAZR V3 but with the slide. Definitely high on the cool factor.

The screen is much more detailed than the D500. It's a very noticeable improvement. One of my major grouses with the D500 was it's tinny sounds. Unless you use those hideous built in ringtones, you practically can't hear the phone on the train or in a bus. I can't even hear it in a crowded restaurant. The D820 has dual speakers (true stereo) and seemed louder as I was getting more intoxicated looking at the promoter. I didn't get to bluetooth one of my MP3 ringtones from my D500 over to the D820 and conduct a good comparison. And I like the usb connector. Apparently using Samsung's Windows software provided, you can connect the phone directly to your PC. It'll be good if we can indeed drag & drop MP3s and 3GPs etc.

So, how is it? It's good. I'd get one that lunchtime if Samsung hadn't offered me a measly S$200 to trade in my D500. I paid S$600 for it exactly one year ago and I'm still stuck with a 12 months contract remaining.

One disappointment though is the D820's slide action. I find it more plasticky and stiffer compared to the D500. The D500's very slick slide action feels almost hydraulically assisted. The D820's is more scrape, not so much slide.

* 15.2mm thin
* 90g
* 1.3-megapixel camera, camcorder,
* MP3 player (MP3, AAC and AAC+ audio files)
* 70MB of built-in memory
* external MicroSD memory slot.
* 2.12-inch QVGA TFT screen with 262,000 colours.
* Bluetooth 2.0 support for faster wireless connectivity with Bluetooth stereo headset
* Video recording - H.263 and MPEG4 formats (353x288 resolution)
* sound recording in AMR and AAC formats
* direct output to TV
* Speaker phone function with dual speakers
* Mobile printing - Bluetooth and PictBridge
* E-mail, MMS and SyncML DS
* data kit, TV output cable and a 64MB MicroSD memory card.

It's a sad day for Malaysian politics

These are sad days for Malaysian politics. MPs of the ruling coalition (BN) opposed one of the truly beneficial motions put before parliament (and in these cynical times, there are not many proposals by politicians which are genuinely good for the people). Why did they oppose it? Simply because it was proposed and forwarded to the house by the Opposition. The BN has a standing ruling that they oppose ALL opposition motions, no matter the benefit or otherwise.

That, to me, is a RIDICULOUS ruling.

There were press reports recently that an MP had approached the customs dept for reasons that were alleged to be of dubious motivation. The opposition leader, Lim Kit Siang of the DAP proposed that the report in the local daily be referred to the Parliamentary Rights and Privileges Committee. This committee has some, not much but some, influence over MP's conduct. Personally, I would have referred it to the Anti Corruption Agency (ACA) - but I suppose we have to allow the MPs an attempt to discipline themselves internally.

The ruling coalition opposed this motion, en bloc.

Now, what does this appear to me, the layman on the street, who pays tax that funds their parliamentary allowances?

Firstly, the MPs are protecting their own. Attempting to frustrate as much as possible any actions that might lead to a reduction of their privileges (official or construed).

Secondly, this dents the govt's stated ambition to rid the administration of corruption. If the highest lawmakers of the country cannot find it in themselves to investigate and pursue what appears to be a blatant and serious abuse of MP's privileges, what can we expect from the cop on the street or the govt counter staff processing your forms?

At the end of the day, MPs toe the party line. But they must remember that they were elected as individuals by voters in their constituency. As individual MPs and representatives of the people, they are expected to have a mind of their own and make it their paramount duty that the interests of the public be preserved, even if and especially if the party line is detrimental to the interests of the people.

At last count, we have only one MP from the ruling coalition who is entitled to be called a representative of the people and a protector of their interests. The other few hundred,... they're just there to warm the seats and collect their allowances.

Formula 1: European GP Nurburgring

Yes, it's F1 weekend again. Singapore, being the un-motorsports friendly country that it is, does not have telecasts of F1 races (nor WRC or any other motorsports for that matter) on it's free-to-air TV. Even when Bernie Ecclestone made a very public "suggestion" (read: offer) that Singapore put in a bid to host a leg of the F1 calendar, the powers-that-be procrastinated, dilly-dallied and effectively put an end to that possibility. Such a pity, I think.

Anyway, courtesy of cable TV, it is now 9pm in Singapore and I'm watching the 2nd elimination round of the qualifying Saturday of the European Grand Prix in Nurburgring, Germany.

F1's more exciting now than it's been for the past couple of years. In 2004 and 4 years before that, it was a Ferrari parade - with 7-times World Driver's Champion, Michael Schumacher winning most of the races. Last year (2005), the winners changed (to Renault and Fernando Alonso) but the parading didn't. Renault did what Ferrari had done not so long ago ie. cake-walk most of the races and win the Constructor's and Driver's championships.

This year (2006) looks better. Renault still has the lion's share of the wins to date, but Ferrari did win the last GP in Imola, fair and square. And from the qualifying session so far, things look pretty quick for Ferrari. Other teams look pretty racy as well.

So, hopefully, we'll have a good race tomorrow and a competitive remainder of 2006.

More updates soon.

Persistently Non-Political As Ever

Today's election day in Singapore. Come morning, Singaporeans will be out in droves to vote. Well, Singaporeans living in constituencies which didn't have the ruling party walk over, that is.

A lot has been said about the elections by the newspapers and TV stations in Singapore. And since Singapore has banned political dissertation on the net, I won't add more to the discussion. If forcing you people to google and read the details elsewhere - keeps me out of prison - so be it. As one of the more eloquent bloggers put it "prison got no broadband".

There is one outcome of this whole election that I want to share with you. Due to the abovementioned ban, the local bloggers have resorted to some very innovative methods to express their political opinions. Since the law says that there can be no "persistently political" discourse on the internet, they have produced some decidedly non-persistently political or persistently non-political expressions.

Here's the link to a podcast which I think is the funniest thing from Singapore since the first season of Phua Chu Kang. It draws a comparison between a noodle customer who forgot that he had forgotten to mention a small part of his lunch order to the noodle seller - and an opposition MP who forgot that he had forgotten to submit a certain form to the election commission. In both cases, the poor guy suffers from the backlash like a hen in a cockhouse (an idiom of my own creation. You like?)

Here's the link. Enjoy:

Right click and save the MP3 file. Play it on your Windows Mediaplayer etc.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Photochromatic Lens! Transitions Lens!

Photochromatic lens! I learnt plenty about photochromatic lens in the past couple of days. Aiseh, pho-to-chro-ma-tic means lens that darken when it's in sunlight & vice versa. I've been itching to get a pair of glasses with Transitions lens. And damn, is it complicated for the newbie. Some people think Transitions is a brand / manufacturer of lens, some people think Transitions is a type of lens ie. any lens that are photochromatic. Like what Xerox = photocopy, Thermos = vacuum flasks and NOS = nitrous oxide.

Actually, here's what it's all about:

- photochromatic lens are produced in generally one of 2 methods. Method 1 is to produce lens material (glass or plastic impregnated with an active material) that reacts to sunlight. Method 2 is to put a coating of active material that reacts to sunlight - onto ordinary lens.

- Transitions is a lens coating (method 2).

- Transitions is actually Transitions Optical, a JV between PPG and Essilor. Essilor is a major French lens manufacturer, and I think PPG are the ones who came up with the technology that is Transitions. I can't be bothered to look these up, but I think Transitions is the corporate brand vehicle that franchises the technology to lens mfrs or applies the coating onto someone else's lens. They don't produce any lens themselves, just the coating.

- So, if we combine the previous 2 points, the Transitions lens you've just bought are most probably Essilor lens with a Transitions coating. Apparently, other lens manufacturers like Hoya have now incorporated Transitions coatings into their range.

So, now... what does it mean to you & me?

To begin with, don't ask for Transitions lens. There is no such thing. Ask for Essilor or Hoya etc lens that come with Transitions coatings. Essilor for eg. has several types of lens of varying indexes (the higher the index, the thinner the lens) under different model/range names. Each model/range will have a sub-variant with Transitions coatings. And many of these lens have other coatings besides Transitions, like Crizal for eg, for anti reflection and scratch resistance. Hence the term multi-coated lens.

So, what do you do now? Learn more, that's what. Here's a couple of good sites:

Or just Google all the damn words you think are relevant. I did.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

For my first post, here's my favourite picture of my first car. The Malaysian made Proton Putra. 1.8 litres of TD05 turbo-charged horsepower. 0-100kmh in about 6 seconds and a top speed in excess of 230kmh. Oh, and did I mention it's aFWD automatic?