Sunday, February 25, 2007

Malaysian Youth Council talking rubbish about AirAsia

Someone's got a stick up his arse about Air Asia's stewardess' uniforms.

AirAsia must project our identity, says group

IPOH: Low budget airline AirAsia must project the country’s culture so that foreigners can recognise it easily as a Malaysian concern, Malaysian Youth Council president Shamsul Anuar Nasarah said.

”We are happy that AirAsia is able to provide cheap air tickets to travellers but its management must ensure that the airline projects the country’s identity and culture,” he told reporters after the council’s supreme committee meeting here yesterday.
Do you mean our identity and culture as a modern, progressive, multi-ethnic country, or as a fundamentalist religious Taliban society basing their doctrine on the behaviour of Arabs and their camels 1,000 years ago, to the exclusion of everyone else living in this country?

What exactly is this identity and culture you're babbling about? If you have something constructive to say, at least be clear and precise about it... instead of hiding behind "neutral" sounding motherhood statements.
Shamsul said the council would be sending an official letter to voice its opinion following numerous complaints on the matter.
Numerous complaints? From whom? And exactly how many complaints?
For example, he said, the uniform of air stewardess did not project a Malaysian image. “The current uniform is not appropriate with our culture.
And here we go. Here comes the Talibanisation crunch. Perhaps a potato sack and a veil would better project a Malaysian image?
“We want an image that portrays a Malaysian identity and culture,” he said, adding that he hoped AirAsia’s management would consider the council’s views.
I hope Tony throws your official letter into the toilet after he takes his morning crap, because that's exactly where your views belong.

Was this express bus company profiteering during CNY or what?!

On any other day, the normal fare from Ipoh to Singapore on an 18-seater express bus/ coach is RM60.

But during the Chinese New Year period this year, I paid RM130 for the same seat on the same route. And I bought it at their main office, not a ticket tout.

Bus companies call it the natural consequence of supply and demand. I call it highway robbery.

The CVLB (Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board) said that fares should not be raised exorbitantly during festive periods. I wonder if 100% qualifies as exorbitant?

And do note the neat little trick of splitting the single Ipoh-Sg journey (which usually costs RM60) into 2 portions and charging separately for each portion... RM63.20 for Ipoh-JB and an absolutely ridiculous RM66.80 for the short 2km hop across the causeway from JB-Singapore!!! I suspect this is done so that the overcharging doesn't show up clearly on their ticketing records or accounting paper trails... but I'm amazed that the CVLB or Transport Ministry doesn't pickup dodgy practices like this.

Btw, the ticket may read Zenwan (M) Sdn Bhd, but it was a Grassland bus which I boarded. So, the companies may be related.

Another trick they use on Malaysia-bound routes originating from Singapore - is to exchange the S$ ticket/receipt which you get when you buy a ticket in Singapore... for a RM ticket/receipt. The conductors/ 2nd drivers will do this after you board the bus. Why do they do it? I don't know, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that a Ipoh-Sg trip cost RM60 but the reverse Sg-Ipoh trip costs S$47 (RM108)? Maybe it's more tax effective to report a RM60 revenue per fare-paying passenger, rather than S$47?

In any case, this is another compelling reason to liberalise the air travel between Malaysia and Singapore, or to build the KL-Sg bullet train. With more affordable alternatives, the express bus companies will be forced to buck up and provide better service at lower fares.

An article on express bus overcharging during CNY this year:

"Open Skies" Agreements Can Cause Problems, Says MASEU

The MAS Employees Union (MASEU) has come out to oppose the current open skies initiatives to liberalise air travel within Asean, but of particular interest, between Malaysia and Singapore.

The old, archaic argument that competition will destroy the "national carrier" was the main thrust (of course). Well, as you'd probably know by now, I thoroughly disagree with the notion of sacrificing public money to preserve inefficient, racially discriminatory "national" companies like MAS and Proton. There's more than one way to skin a cat, just like there's more than one way to make sure the Malaysian public's interests are protected, without emptying their pockets or pouring money down the drain.

But I find the other argument raised by MASEU very revealing indeed:

"He [MASEU Secretary-General] said, the agreements would mean that no quota would be imposed for landing rights in the countries concerned. As such, the airports would become busy and congested simply for the sake of competition and would also create problems to MAS workers."
There's something in that statement which I find says volumes about the type of people employed by this "national" company.

"A BUSY airport would also CREATE PROBLEMS for MAS workers!"

Everywhere in the world, we have airports and airport workers trying their best to make their airports as busy as possible so that it continues to make money and the workers can keep their jobs. Only in MAS, do the workers want the opposite for their airport! You've got to ask the question... WHY?

Personally, I can only see 2 possibilities in that statement:

1. MASEU is admitting that MAS workers are naturally LAZY. A busier airport means more work, and more work equals more problems for lazy people.

2. MASEU is saying MAS workers, unlike airport workers in other countries, do not fear for their jobs. They do not fear losing their jobs if the airport is underutilised. Why is that? Maybe it goes back to MASEU's first argument about fearing competition. No competition means job security?

In any case, I hope that the Transport Minister and the Malaysian Cabinet has the backbone to push ahead with this open skies initiative. In the short term, it might mean some pain for MAS and their workers but that should only spur them on to perform better. If it doesn't, well... that simply proves how lousy both MAS and their workers are. And their trivial troubles are NOTHING compared to the greater benefits to the overall public from increased economic activity and lower ticket prices.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Happy Chinese New Year 2007

May your year be blessed with blue skies and all good things...


Hope your reunion dinner tonight is as 'successful' as the good-done-well-job below.

warmest regards, sean-the-man

85% of bumi projects going to non-bumis... sure or not?

Have a read of the excerpt below.

Study Shows 85 Per Cent Of Bumi Contractor Projects Go To Others

BANGI, Feb 14 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said a study by the Works Ministry last year shows that on the average 85.37 per cent of projects secured by Bumiputera contractors went to the other communities.

"They do not want to work, do not want to learn, and give little importance to the opportunities provided by the government," he said in his speech... Abdullah said a community that lagged behind must possess the realisation to change and learn to improve itself.

He said the subsidy assistance to needy groups while fulfilling the moral obigation of the government, was inadequate for survival on a global level. "This approach will only make us hope and wait for aid and subsidy. Such a mentality thrives among the people, including Bumiputera petty traders and contractors," he lamented.

Abdullah said the government, as a responsible one, realised that this was detrimental in terms of competition and would not empower the nation in the long term. He said the government had to consider now how to facilitate the people who required assistance so that they could generate wealth exponentially and widely.
Sounds like Pak Lah knows exactly what's wrong (like Tun M did, btw) but so far, he hasn't deviated one bit from his predecessor's favourite solution of throwing more money at the problem.

And by the sounds of the last sentence in the excerpt above, his idea of a solution is simply too vague and uncommittal to signal that the money throwing will change.

I'm not going to repeat the "give the man a fish" speech. Everyone (except those who crave votes and/or govt contracts) know that the only possible solution to uplift the poor is to furnish them with education (not income) and to instil a spirit of self-destiny, tenacity and resilience by providing economic opportunities (not guarantees) coupled with realistic penalties for personal failure.

Back to this 'revelation'...

Firstly, is the Works Ministry's 85% as reliable as EPU's 18% or Asli's 45%? This needs to be answered definitively before we can even begin to take this number seriously.

Secondly, What's the definition of "going to" other communities? Does it mean 100% of the project is subcontracted out to non-bumis? Does it mean any percentage of it is subcontracted out? Does it mean that if a project has 10 subcontractors, but as long as 1 out of the 10 subcontractora is non-bumi, the whole project is considered within the definition of the 85.37%?

What about the value of the contracts concerned? In other words, how much is the 85.37% worth? How much is that worth in relation to the total value of all contracts?

We have to be clear about exactly what the number represents, so that it is not skewed and manipulated for selfish political or racial purposes by certain groups and individuals. Using the simple number of contracts without any regard to the value is akin to the EPU using par value to calculate bumiputra shareholding instead of market value. It is potentially absolutely misleading - in which case, it is ultimately meaningless and misdirects the govt's efforts.

Here's an additional question that the works ministry should provide an answer for:

Of the AliBaba contracts concerned, how much of the value as been retained by "Ali" as a commission for simply putting his hand out for the contract and then selling it on to "Baba"?

In other words, how much did the first tier class F bumiputra "contractor" keep for himself... for doing absolutely nothing all - except for being born Malay and possessing the necessary political connections?

This, my friends, is the true leakage,... the true cost of the NEP. This is what the govt needs to focus on eliminating!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

How is that One Trillion Ringgit calculated?

Apparently our trade hit 1 TRILLION ringgit last year, and this is supposed to be a big, big deal.

Country's trade hit historic high last year, driven by exports

KUALA LUMPUR: The country’s total trade volume has surpassed the magical trillion ringgit mark.

Last year, the figure reached RM1.069tril, a 10.5% rise over that in 2005.

The historic figure reflected the increased trade flow. Exports totalled RM588.949bil last year, according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office. Imports stood at RM480.493bil.

”Although Malaysia faced numerous economic challenges, especially the economic crisis of 1997 and the global economic slowdown in 2001 and 2002, the country was able to cope well.

“This is seen with the average 10.8% increase in total trade between 1997 and 2006,” the statement said.
I've got 2 bones to pick with this "magical achievement".

Firstly, is it even a real achievement at all? Apparently they took EXPORTS of RM589 billion and IMPORTS of RM480 billion... and simply added the two figures up and voila... you have the trillion number of RM1,069 billion.

But wait... isn't that like adding up debits and credits? Summing up revenue and expenses? Adding the absolute values of a positive and a negative number? Doesn't it make more sense to deduct one from the other to arrive at a net result? ie. Trade Surplus? Balance of Payments?

What's the point? It's like summing up the number of births & deaths, and arriving at a conclusion that more being born + more dying equals a thriving population. What's the logic of adding up births and deaths? And is a larger total of births + deaths a good thing? Might it only indicate bad family planning and bad health care?

So, what's the point of this "trade" number? And does it even indicate anything meaningful?

Secondly, there's this big statement of an "average 10.8% increase in total trade between 1997 and 2006."

How come nobody discounted the 2006 figure to account for changes in currency rates and inflation?

How come the figures in this press statement seems to disregard the time value of money, a bedrock principle found in chapter 1 of any economics textbook?

Is this really good news, or is it a calculated spin to generate positive public sentiment? To take our minds off increased petrol prices, higher tolls and lowering standards of living perhaps? To prepare us for an upcoming event? More price hikes? Election?

Btw, I just saw "MORE GOOD NEWS" in today's papers. Highest investment figures EVER! While I haven't gotten around to picking apart the investment numbers (but just intuitively... do you feel that your wealth and quality of living are the highest EVER? Mine certainly ain't so)... I am fairly convinced that this recent slew of "good news" on the front pages of NST (National Spin Tabloid ;) is designed to condition Malaysian public sentiment for an upcoming event of national proportions, whatever that event might be.

ACA is "independent"... but "under" the PM lah

Have a look at these 2 quotes from Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz. Do you see how these 2 assertions contradict each other?

Minister defends Malaysia's anti-corruption record

"The government has done everything it can think of to fight corruption," Nazri told the World Ethics and Transparency Forum here, organised by thinktank the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute.

"Under the prime minister, the ACA is given a free hand to look into all allegations of corruption," Nazri said.
Everybody who has a honest bone in their body knows that the most important attribute of any agency seeking to effectively combat corruption is its INDEPENDENCE.

Let me ask then

How can the ACA be truly independent, if it is "under" the PM? Doesn't this simply mean that the ACA can act against any wrongdoers, EXCEPT the Prime Minister and any parties under his protection?

Doesn't this imply that the ACA is forced to assume that the Prime Minister (and all parties under his protection) are incorruptible? Is this a fair assumption, do you think?

And if it remains "under" the Prime Minister, how can the govt say that they have done everything it can think of? Perhaps... we should be asking WHY the govt has not thought of making the ACA independent of the Prime Minister?

Of Sabah, Sarawak, Keadilan, UMNO and Lee Kuan Yew

Sabah UMNO is apparently ill at ease that an alleged secret meeting took place between opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sabah Datuk Dr Jeffrey G. Kitingan and Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

Sabah Umno eager to know what Keadilan discussed with Lee

Kota Kinabalu: Umno Youth Secretary Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said the movement will not tolerate any foreign interference in the affairs of the State.

Rahman said if such meeting was held, the movement is curious as to what was discussed.
What was discussed? That's actually a very good question. As MM Lee and Datuk Kitingan obviously forgot to invite me to the meeting, I don't have the answer.

But I will venture a guess, based on what I remember reading in MM Lee's memoirs ("remember"... because I've already returned the book to the library). In his memoirs, MM Lee mentioned when Singapore was forced to secede from Malaysia, that he was saddened to leave his friends in Sabah and Sarawak to "fend for themselves" in a Malaysia without Singapore.

I remember the phrase "fend for themselves" struck me as telling - as the exit of Singapore signalled a significant shift in the racial and religious composition of the enlarged Malaysia. The removal from the equation, of the counter-balancing Chinese population in Singapore, essentially placed the non-Muslim, non-Malay (although still Bumiputra) population of Sabah and Sarawak at the mercy of an overwhelming Malay and Muslim majority from the Western Peninsula (at the Federal level).

I also append an interesting and enlightening comment from a Malaysia-Today reader in response to this article:

Think of what I said, read the MT reader comment below and come to your own conclusions what they might have discussed.

supersonic wrote:

Many people have yet to know whether there was a meeting between Jeffrey Kitingan and Lee Kuan Yew, MM of Singapore. Perhaps Keadilan should confirm of deny this.

But what bloggers need to know here is the background for such a meeting --IF IT INDEED TOOK PLACE.

Sabah and Sarawak which joined Malaysia on 16 Sept 1963 were shocked were Singapore was evicted on 9 Aug 1965. The then Sabah and Sarawak CMs, Donald Stephens and Stephen Kalong Ningkan were not consulted at all and they felt deeply insulted. Sabah (with Singapore and Sarawak) joined Malaysia on the assumption that it was to be 1 out of 4, i.e Peninsular Malaysia (Malaya), Sarawak, Singapore and North Borneo. The leaders of Sabah and Sarawak were to find out later that in fact Malaya wanted them to join on the basis of the same status as any of the Malayan states, e.g. Selangor, Perak, Penang, etc. hence 1 out of 14. This was colonialism from Malaya and the last thing they wanted was to be free of British colonialism to be replaced by Malay colonialism from Semenanjung.

That is why Donald Stephens wanted to ask for a re-examination of the terms Sabah joined Malaysia. I think Stephen Kalong Ningkan wanted the same kind of re-examination too.

If they can't get this, Sabah and Sarawak wanted to become independent like Singapore.

UMNO responded by sending wheeler-dealer Syed Kechik to the 2 East Malaysian states to bring down UPKO and SNAP, Kadazan and Iban parties and to replace them with Malay/Muslim ones. Thus through all kinds of dirty tactics backed by the full might of UMNO, Syed Kechik managed to kick out Donald Stephens and Stephen Kalong Ningkan by 1967,

UMNO installed Malay/Muslim govts in Sabah and Sarawak such as USNO and PBB and what we see today in these two states, the background has been clearly explained.

Fast foreward to Jeffrey Kitingan. He is the ideologue of PBS where his brother Pairin led and came to power in Sabah in 1985 on the combined strength of kadazan and Chinese unhappiness with Malay/Muslim discrimination perpetrated first by Mustapha of Usno and then Harris Salleh of Berjaya.

Jeffrey wants Sabah's terms of entry (21 points agreement) to be re-examined, among which are Sabah's autonomy on immigration, position of English, position of Islam in the state, etc, Jeffrey's bottom line was political power to be held by Kadazans, English be given proper due in Sabah and Islam should not be official religion of state.

For his commitment to all these which would mean an end to Muslim-Malay domination of Sabah, Jeffrey was jailed under ISA.

Jeffrey was forced to switch from one party to another like changing clothes to fight for his ideals where at various stages he was seen to be a man of no political principles.

To date Jeffrey has come round one full circle.I am not surprized by his commitment to fight for a non-UMNO, non-Muslim led govt with equality of all races in Sabah, and to this he draws inspiration from Singapore which had been forced to quit Malaysia in 1965 because Lee Kuan Yew strongly opposed ketuanan Melayu and fought for Malaysian Malaysia.

Jeffrey's fight via Keadilan for a new Bangsa Malaysia would be similar in many ways to Lee Kuan Yew's Malaysian malaysia (incidentally the same as the DAP's) though not quite.
13/02 13:32:42

The Small Matter of Infidels making Profit

IKIM's Dr Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas broadcasts the persona of a progressive Muslim intellectual, speaking about bridging the chasm between Muslim and non-Muslims.

And if we read the first paragraphs of the following article on Al-Attas, he seems to have his head screwed on correctly.

IKIM's Dr Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas wants misconceptions of Islam corrected

What I can see now is that we have made issues out of everything. Look at the halal issue. Why now suddenly it has become so difficult?

People who are not well-versed in "halal and haram" are allowed to air their views. For example, there are those who say if it tastes like pork, then it is haram. This is highly ridiculous.

This view is not only narrow but it is a case of ignorance. How can we say that? You must make your judgment based on experience and knowledge.

They have wrongly interpreted the religion until everything is placed under "halal and haram". Islam is universal.
Sounds good, don't it? But don't let that fool you. It all goes pear shaped from hereon end. He babbles on to reveal the same narrowness of thought and bigotry that we have come to expect from those cut from the same cloth as he is.
The same goes to controlling the "halal" market. Do not allow non-Muslims to manage it as their focus is only on profit. Their ultimate goal is profit-making.
I've got 2 problems with that piece of hogwash.

1. How does one tell the difference or similarity between making a living and earning a profit? One is obviously halal and the other's apparently haram. How do you differentiate one from the other?

How much is enough? When does enough become excessive? When does the "fruits of labour" transform into the "profits of enterprise"? I'm an infidel and I don't understand how that distinction is made.

2. Is Mr Al-Attas saying that when Muslims do business or dabble in the "halal" market, their focus is NOT profit? Has he seen the PROFIT & Loss statements of ALL Muslim owned businesses? When their revenues exceed their expenses. Is that not profit? How is it different if it's a non-Muslim who draws that revenue and incurs those expenses?

Islamic finance for eg. How is that different from normal finance and banking? You put capital in one end, you extract more (than what you put in) from the other end. In my book, that's profit... pure and simple. It doesn't make a lick of difference if it's given some fancy Arabic name. If it smells like a dog, barks like a dog and raises its hind leg to pee like a dog... I'll tell you what... it's a dog.

Do the Arabs refuse the "profits" of their oil wells in the Middle East? In fact, I have yet to see any Muslim boss or employee refuse their profits and salaries and say "no, no... that is more than what I need to feed my family and it exceeds the effort I put in. I cannot accept it"

Do you reckon Mr Al-Attas will refuse to accept his salary and choose to go home every month with 20kg of rice, 2 kg of salt, 2 kg of sugar and 2 liters of cooking oil? I'm sure he doesn't want to profit from his work, right?

I'm sorry if I misunderstood everything. It's probably just my upbringing as a hopeless infidel. But I simply do not see that remark as a religious matter. I see it as a purely discriminatory, inflammatory exhortation designed to curb the participation of non-Muslims in the market for halal goods and services.

Muslim authorities decry Valentine's Day celebrations

Did you read this?

Muslim authorities decry Valentine's Day celebrations in Malaysia, Brunei

(AP) — Religious officials are urging couples in Muslim-majority Malaysia and Brunei to shun Valentine's Day, saying it conflicts with Islamic principles and could cause moral erosion.

There are no laws banning Wednesday's celebration in either country, which advocate moderate Muslim teachings, but some officials noted that Saint Valentine was a Christian and feared that romantic revelries might prompt impure behavior among young people.

"It is sad to note that we also celebrate such an occasion without knowing its origin, whether it is permissible in Islamic beliefs or otherwise," the imams said in a message carried by Brunei media.

"Valentine's Day is not a celebration needed among Muslims."
Ah so desu ne. So, it is against Islamic teachings because it is Christian in origin.

OK, if that's the case, ALL annual leave and holidays for Muslim employees during Chinese New Year (next week), Deepavali, Christmas, Wesak Day etc are hereby cancelled. We should expect to see all Muslims back at work on those days.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

How badly is MAS screwing us over KUL-SIN? RM75 MILLION a year!

CORRECTION: I forgot to halve the current MAS fare in my original calculation. Ok... so MAS' scam is not worth RM220 million a year like I estimated originally, but it's still apparently RM75 million nonetheless. And that's no chup change. Besides I've used AirAsia's quoted S$60 to as the comparative basis. Judging by the fact that AirAsia has tiered fares dependent on how early you book, I tend to think to think that S$60 is the max fare. So the real comparative basis is probably less than S$60. If so, MAS' overcharging would correspondingly be more than RM75 million as well.
After some promising noises from the transport ministers of both Malaysia and Singapore about the liberalisation of the KUL-SIN shuttle route by this year, MAS has the cheek to "convey its concerns" about it to the govt.

Just so that we, joe public, are crystal clear about how this affects us, here's yet another unscientific sean-the-man analysis.... of how badly we've been screwed by MAS and their ultra anti-competitive practices along this busy route.

That's right folks. According to my 'whack only lah' calculations (but I do reckon I'm not all that far off the mark), MAS' monopolistic actions over this single route costs the Malaysian traveller over RM75 million a year in overcharged fares (if we assume Air Asia's proposed S$60 one way fare represents the basic reasonable fare). Over 26 years, this amounts to nearly RM2 BILLION!!! DOUBLE that if we include SIA's 50% share.

DAMN! What a scam. This RM75 million a year almost single handedly fills up MAS' profit margin each year! No wonder they are scared shitless to lose this honey train.

The Problem with Proton...

If we believe the hype, Proton is hot stuff. There are supposedly at least seven parties (4 overseas and 3 local companies) vying to take strategic control of Proton.

The foreigners eyeing the 42.7% controlling stake now held by Khazanah are Volkswagen (VW), Peugeot-Citroen, General Motors and Daimler-Chrysler. The locals are Naza - controlled by AP King Nasimuddin Amin, DRB-Hicom - controlled by Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary and Sime Darby Group - GLC.

The govt will reportedly make a decision by next month.

But if you believe the rest of us, Proton is more of a political hot potato. In an interview published in the Oriental Daily News (as quoted by Screenshots), former Proton CEO, Tengku Mahaleel had 4 key questions for the government. And these questions (ironically coming from one of the main characters who created Proton's mess, in the first place), and their answers demonstrate just how hot a potato Proton is.

1) Is the automobile industry important to our national economy?
2) Do we want to protect our human capital (for the automobile industry)?
3) Do we want to give Malaysians a high-level career opportunity?
4) Do we still want to create the entrepreneur spirit from the mold of Small and Medium-scale Industries?

"What is the government's thinking now? If the givernment doesn't say it out, how do we solve the problems?" Tengku Mahaleel asked. "The controlling stake in Proton is the major hurdle of the issue." He said whatever the government decides on the four questions, the answers will be polarised.

If the answer is yes, the solution factor will be Y; if it's the opposite, the solution factor will be X.

The cliff-hanger from Tengku Mahaleel is this: "The government must be very clear: what do you actually want for this country?"
I can't answer for the govt, but I can answer for the rest of Malaysia. Well... at least that part of Malaysia which does not benefit from the golden eggs laid by the big goose that is Proton. Yes, I'm talking about the Malaysians who have been long victimised by high car taxes, high car prices and low quality cars built, sold and serviced by people who think the country owes them a free lunch.

1) Is the automobile industry important to our national economy?

Yes it is. But like virtually every other govt sponsored industry, it has become less and less of an economic driver but more and more of a mechanism to distribute the country's wealth to the politically connected and ethnically favoured, at the cost of morality, fairplay and economic effectiveness.

It seems to me that Proton is more important to the NEP agenda, twisted to enrich a small portion of well-connected Malaysians - than it is to improve the economic well-being of the overall population of Malaysia.

If we discard the NEP agenda strangling the car industry, clearly... there are many alternative industry models that can be utilised to benefit the national economy which don't carry the same inefficiencies and leakages that Proton does.

2) Do we want to protect our human capital (for the automobile industry)?

Firstly, we need to define exactly what human capital you're talking about.

Is it production workers incapable of putting together a well built car?

Is it service advisors and managers whose answer for every problem is invariably: "Proton... biasalah tu..."

Is it savvy strategic planning people who are incapable of realising that Proton's entire product range of one subcompact, five compacts (which thoroughly cannibalize each other), one mid sized saloon and some ridiculous bicycles are a recipe for surefire failure? Or that Proton is nothing like BMW or Honda, and buying a failed motorbike company for an astronomical price is nothing more than a totally useless ego trip?

Is it sauve marketing people who are incapable of seeing that self-delusional advertisement campaigns like "BMW of Asia" (Waja) and "My First Lotus" (Savvy) creates more derision than respect? More brand erosion than brand equity? More laughter than "oohs and aahs"?

Is it a CEO and senior managers who are incapable of recognising that the root of Proton's problems are its dismal quality and bad service, rather than the Malaysian public's unpatriotic discrimination towards a local brand?

If that's the kind of human capital you mean, then I put it to you that we can do NO WORSE (with ANY alternative industry model) than the bunch of nitwits that the hallowed halls of Proton has churned out so far. In fact, I reckon we can put Goofy, Mickey and Donald at the helm of Proton, and we Malaysians would still be better off.

And lastly, exactly which human's capital are you talking about? Is each and every Malaysian citizen eligible to be part of that human capital..., or only those who are born into a certain households, and bear certain honorifics before their names?

3) Do we want to give Malaysians high-level career opportunities?

High level career opportunities.... FOR WHOM? Again, which Malaysians are you referring to?

For Malaysians of all races who are truly talented and capable, OR for those favoured by the govt and its policies, regardless of their ability (or lack thereof)?

From point #2 above, it is as clear (at least to me) that the performance of those "Malaysians" selected for high-level career opportunities in Proton - has been as lacking as a pair of Britney Spear's panties.

And who says that other industry models will not provide high level career opportunities for Malaysians? If Thailand's auto industry is anything to go by, a more independent auto industry in Malaysia will provide more opportunities to more Malaysians by virtue of its larger size and increased investment. Perhaps a stark difference would be that the normal cohort of Datuks, Tan Sris and Tengkus (and their kin) that form the national car industry's current base of "HUMAN CAPITAL" and "HIGH LEVEL CAREERISTS" will find that they no longer have a monopoly of these opportunities by default, but will have to compete with other Malaysians on a level playing field.

4) Do we still want to create the entrepreneur spirit from the mold of Small and Medium-scale Industries?

Of course we do. But for what gains? And at what price?

After 25 years of Proton "creating the entrepreneur spirit" amongst the small and medium industries... what do we have to show for it?

How many of the contractors, suppliers and dealers can survive without the guaranteed business and profits of the Proton gravy train? How much entrepreneurship have these "entrepreneurs" learnt? How much effort have they made to expand their businesses beyond the handouts from Proton? How many of them are actually concerned about learning and improving the auto business, rather than simply cashing-in on the NEP?

If these entrepreneurs are the "gains" we've obtained from this 25 year investment in Proton and the larger NEP, I put it to you that these gains have been painfully slim, and that Malaysia can do much better without all 3 of them (NEP entrepreneurs, Proton and the NEP itself).

And look at the price we've paid.

- Cars that are ridiculously priced (in comparison with the average incomes and standards of living, and in absolute terms versus other countries). The national car project would have failed completely in its aim to provide affordable cars to Malaysians, if it were not for Perodua and the fact that Proton's best sellers remain the ancient Iswara/Saga and the grey haired Wira.

- Virtually no sustainable growth in the auto manufacturing industry, if not for the entrepreneurship (the real deal, not the rubbish created by the NEP) of the distributors of foreign cars and their associates.

- Huge opportunity cost sacrifices in terms of reduced foreign and local investment; marginalisation of the truly entrepreneurial and innovative local small and medium industries, in favour of those that are merely interested to cash-in on the Proton and AP gravy train; superbly bad quality Proton cars which increases the cost of ownership to buyers and total costs to the industry; marginalisation of talented and dedicated auto industry professionals in favour of the usual herd of politically connected or NEP-favoured individuals.

So... what should the 'new' Proton 'baru' look like?

Simple. There are only 3 things that need to be done:

1. Get a foreign partner. Give them control if need be. Stop deluding ourselves that Proton can go it alone. Stop deluding ourselves that Proton has this great, 'world-class' R&D organisation that can sustain the required product pipeline as an independent car manufacturer. Stop deluding ourselves that Proton comprises this group of 'highly skilled, dedicated' employees, suppliers and dealers who need just that little bit more incentive/ motivation to perform miracles. And stop deluding ourselves that all that's needed is more public money. In short, stop taking ecstasy and methamphetamines before making statements about Proton.

Proton needs the engineering know-how of a truly world class manufacturer. It needs the product range and pipeline of a carmaker with global economies of scale. It needs the brand power and reputation of a serious car company to pull the Proton brandname out of the smelly armpits of local disgrace and global ignonimity.

Most of all, it needs an independent controlling stakeholder that is not beholden to any politician, bureaucrat or royalty. We need a foreigner with enough financial backbone and international influence to stand up to the govt and the local automotive "napoleons". Proton needs them to make the hard, objective decisions, and spit in the face of the NEP.

Therefore this excludes the 3 local parties. They have absolutely nothing to offer Proton and there is nothing to gain (and all to lose) from giving them control. They will just dish out more of the same garbage. The intrinsic problems of Proton remain and would in fact be multiplied.

2. REMOVE ALL GUARANTEES from its employee, supplier and dealer policies. All employment and business relationships must be based on PERFORMANCE and RESULTS. Business must only be conducted at arms-length. Nothing more, nothing less. No jobs, quotas, business, custom, contracts or profits to be guaranteed or preferentially given to anyone.

3. No more National Car companies. All car companies need to stand on their own two feet. Any car company that hires Malaysians and expends its profits in Malaysia is good for the country. In real terms, such companies will benefit Malaysians as much as any national car company but without the economic costs and inefficiencies of preferential treatment and protection. For far too long, national car companies have been using their "national" status as an excuse to underperform, rather than a motivation to outperform. We need to get rid of the "Proton, biasa lah tu. (It's Proton. That's usual)" syndrome forever.

I have no doubt whatsoever, that the Malaysian car industry would be a much fairer, bigger, better and more productive one, if we adopt the 3 measures above and put an end to Proton's myriad NEP-inspired auto policies.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Here's a gift idea for Valentine's Day

If you're still racking your brains what to get her for V-day, look no further.

Passion pants, mate. She'll be hot, wet, drowsy putty in your arms.

The Official Secrets Act (OSA) - THE PERFECT SCAM!

Here's a particularly good editorial from the Sun regarding the Official Secrets Act OSA. Besides the fact that it's free, their straight shooting editorials are another reason why you should read the Sun (and relegate the NST to lining chicken coops).

Excerpt: The Sun editorial 06/2/2007

How could the country's security be threatened by merely disclosing the terms of an agreement between the toll-road operator and the government?

In fact such a disclosure would help to answer the question of whether the government has been too generous in favour of toll-road operators when the agreements were signed. It will be in the public interest that such documents were made public.
Why is the cabinet being so secretive about the toll agreements for? In other words, what is there to hide? Is there anything to hide?
Excerpt: The Sun editorial 06/2/2007

But the OSA of 1972, amended to give it draconian powers in 1987, not only forces a mandatory jail sentence of at least a year on offenders but basically leaves the definition of an official secret purely in the hands of the government and its officers.

t is time we got rid of this act which does hardly anything to protect the official secrets which may endanger the security of the country. Instead it gives much leeway for government officials at all levels to hide their inefficiency and corruption, making a mockery of the declared aim of making ours an open society.
Exactly! How can there be no check and balance?

How can the person (ie. the govt) who makes the decision about something, also be the same person who declares that decision to be an Official Secret?

That's like being both the judge and defendant at the same time. You can dismiss any actions and accusations against yourself. IT'S THE PERFECT SCAM!

Related posts:

Why should Toll Agreements be Official Secrets?

The Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972 - Bane of Transparency?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Bugatti Veyron... 407kmh... Top Gear

Top Gear's James May (Captain Slow) takes the 1,001hp Bugatti Veyron to it's top speed of 407kmh (250mph) on a VW test track. This is an absolute cracker of a video. The Veyron's got so much power that it only takes 9 seconds to go from 200kmh to 300kmh. Amazing.

Watch it quick before youtube takes it down for copyright reasons.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Videos of 4 Feb 2007 Anti Toll Hike Demonstration

Another Anti Toll Hike Protest this afternoon around IOI Mall / LCP Puchong toll.

Cr: ChinYanKeat, Lensa Mys.
Credit: JimJim, Lensa Malaysia.

According to Malaysiakini (Anti-toll hike protest: More arrests made Feb 4, 07 5:05pm), photographers were being detained by the police during this and previous protests, in order to seize the photos they had taken. That's why it's so important to circulate these photos and footage as far and as wide as possible. The public needs to tell the police that the world is watching them, misdeeds and all.

Among those arrested today was Syfiq Sunni, 20, a full-time reporter for Suara Keadilan, PKR’s party organ. He told malaysiakini that he was caught in the melee during the first wave of protest and one policeman had tried to seize his camera. Syfiq added that he was arrested after he refused to hand over his camera. However, he managed to give his camera to a friend before being hauled away.

This is the second time a member of the press had been detained during the four anti-toll hike rallies that have taken place over the past five weeks.

Two Sundays ago, the police swooped in to prevent anti-toll protestors from gathering near the Cheras-Kajang Highway Batu 11 toll booth and arrested 21 people. A malaysiakini journalist was detained by the police for two hours as they sought to obtain the photos he had taken. However, he was freed without the photos being handed over.
Click below for videos of the police in action:

Related posts:

Video of Police Arrests during 21 Jan 2007 Anti Toll Hike Demonstration in Cheras

Why should Toll Agreements be Official Secrets?

The Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972 - Bane of Transparency?

More photos at:

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer - Specifications-only Review and Launch Videos

Other posts about the new 2008 Lancer:

Lancer 2.0GT (Malaysia) - First Looks

Lancer 2.0GT (ie. GTS) launched in Malaysia

Update 5th May 2007: Press Release photos of Evo X and JDM (Japan Domestic Market) names for the 2008 Lancer (text of press release in comments below).

Original blogpost>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer (pictures below) and Lancer Evolution Prototype X (left) was launched at the Detroit Motorshow on 8 January 2007.

I've got some videos below... of the launch, the promo video and walkabout tour of both cars by Mitsu's North American GM.

But first, I've got my hands on the detailed specs list of the North American 2008 Lancer. And since it is a global platform, it should be virtually identical to the next generation Lancer worldwide. So here's my specifications only review.

I actually like how it looks. A bold move that departs entirely from the styling cues of the whole Mitsubishi lineup. That is not a bad thing at all, considering how fugly the current Lancers are and how much the Colt looks like an aerodynamic piece of turd.

I really like the Lancer's nose job. It's reminiscent of the current Volvo, but it's as if Mitsu completed the job that Volvo didn't have the balls to finish. And I like that it resembles the Nissan Skyline R34's nose-in front of-headlamps styling. Since I reckon Nissan has lost the plot completely when it comes to the new GTR's upside-down ricebowl Z styling, I am delighted that the R34's spirit lives on in the Lancer.

I like the rear too, but not as much as the front though. The resemblance to the Alfa 156 is too strong for me to put aside. Too bad they didn't put the R34's dual round tail-lights on it ;p

Anyway, enough about the asthetics. Let's get on with the physics.

The first thing you notice is that the power output is not remarkable. Even with MIVEC variable valve lift & timing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts, the 4B11 (developed in conjunction with Hyundai and Daimler Chrysler but with Mitsu-specific camshafts and cylinder head for the Lancer) only develops a pedestrian 152hp.

That's not bad, mind you... considering that the new Honda Civic K20Z, Alfa 156 2.0TS and BMW 320i produce roughly the same 150-160hp. The new Camry 2.0G and Nissan Cefiro 2.0 outputs slightly less at 140+hp. So, it's respectable, but it's not spectacular by any standards.

Then you'd notice the 4B11 engine has a 86mm bore and 86mm stroke. The legendary 4G63 which served 9 generations of Lancer Evos as well as several generations of Galant VR4 rally cars - was under-square with a bore of 85mm and 88mm stroke. Why the perfectly square 4B11 after decades of rally-tested under-square 4G63?

In my opinion, the answer lies in a small tuning workshop in the heart of Kepong, Malaysia - called Forge Racing (formerly KCK Racing). It is the birthplace of the first street legal Mivec turbo engine... ever. In 2000, several years before Mitsubishi rolled out its first Mivec turbo in the Evo VIII - Forge Racing crossbred the block of a 1.8 litre 4G93 turbo and the cylinder head of a 1.6 litre 4G92 Mivec. That resulting 1.8 engine output over 300hp at 8000rpm with a boost of only 1.5bar. But what was the main lesson learnt from that little pocket rocket?

It was that if the overarching limitation on any turbo engine is [small] displacement... then more turbo boost is NOT the answer. It rapidly gets to a stage where there's too much mechanical stress, too much heat and petrol from a regular gas-station produces problems rather than power. The answer was more revs! Don't overdo the boost. Keep it sane, keep it steady and turn up the revs. The power will follow.

Squaring the engine by enlarging the bore and shortening the stroke usually means one thing... more revs. So... if Mitsu wanted more revs, then why the peak power at a lowly 6000rpm still, and low-ish compression of 10.01 from the 4B11?... My speculation... headroom.

My thinking is that Mitsubishi had basically extracted all it could from the 4G63 by playing all the turbo tweaking cards available to it. At roughly 300hp, there wasn't very much more they could do with the 2 litre warhorse without making it too uneconomical to manufacture/ warranty and too unstreetable with turbo lag, fuel consumption and inconvenient emissions. Ralliart UK's FQ320 was possibly the limit of streetability. The FQ400 was best left for the track and Sunday drives. Subaru's STi has traditionally mirrored the Evo's evolution (pun intended), and it is very telling that even they have recently migrated the STi from 2 litres to 2.5 litres.

I reckon Mitsubishi figured they needed a new high rev engine that provides room to increase power, but without the attendant downsides of excessive boost pressures and big turbines. So, in walks a perfectly square engine. The 152hp in the everyday Lancer might be just be the tip of the 4B11's proverbial horsepower iceberg. And 152hp is a very, very comfortable minimum to start from. The 4B11 turbo in the upcoming 2007 Lancer Evolution X is rumoured to have 300+hp straight out of the factory... and we'll soon see if Mitsu agrees that raising the revs is the best way to get there (since they aren't increasing the displacement).

I also strongly believe that Mitsubishi realises that it has been missing out on a lucrative mid-range performance market niche ie. the 180-250hp hot compact segment. Since the last 200hp Lancer GSR rolled off the production lines in the mid 90's, Mitsubishi has not had an answer to the Subaru WRX, VW Golf GTi, Ford Focus RS, Civic and Integra Type R, Mazda 6 MPS etc. A new baby Lancer Evo would be timely... and simple to achieve with the 4B11.

If it stays NA, raising the peak power to 7000rpm (along with 11+ compression and more aggressive cam profiles) would easily fetch an extra 30-40hp. Or bolt on a turbine, give it 0.7bar of boost and I reckon it'd easily yield 200+hp. Turbo it and raise the revs to 7500-8000rpm with a little more boost... and we'd probably be looking at the new Evo X itself.

The gearbox looks ok. Nothing special except that it utilises a CVT, which is fairly uncommon for cars of this capacity and power. CVTs are very efficient (judging from the CVT's better city mileage of 22mpg vs the 5MT's 21mpg), but they don't handle large amounts of power and torque very well. The 2006 Honda Civic 2.0 uses a torque converter (with lockup in EVERY gear) rather than a CVT, which the far less powerful 1.5 litre Honda City uses to good effect.

A couple of reviews mention that the new Lancer's CVT is 'rough' and 'uncivilised'. Maybe that's the price you pay, for a CVT to handle more power and torque. But I don't really care though... the Evo X will feature a 6 speed manual gearbox with automated clutch, and sequential paddle shift. No flaky CVT for the Evo.

The promos make a big deal about the new Lancer's 2.3 inches more track width. At the same time, it is slightly shorter than the current Lancer. But what is worth mentioning is that the new Lancer shares the same chassis as the Outlander SUV... which has more body stiffness (torsional and bending rigidity) than the current Evolution. This means this new basic Lancer is stronger and stiffer than even the current WRC homologated Evo IX. Surely, this yields significant dividends in the handling dept, no?

On the downside though, the new Lancer is much heavier. With a range of 1325-1410kgs, it is a full ~100kgs more than the equivalent 1.6-1.8L class of cars like the Civic, Sentra, previous Lancer, Corolla Altis etc. Though it is still ~100kgs shy of the 2.0-2.5L class like the Camry, Accord, Cefiro, Galant etc, it is definitely a porker by any reckoning.

Now, some very, very big hints about the limits of the new Lancer's performance envelope. I am a firm believer in the principle of big stock brakes <=> big performance or at the very least, big potential.

The GTS model's brakes are taken directly from the Mitsubishi Outlander SUV. What's the big deal about that, you ask? Well, the Outlander is a 3.0L, 220hp, 1700kg SUV. You'll need some pretty subtantial brakes to stop something that heavy, by my estimation at top speeds of nearly 180kmh. It's like taking the anchor from a battleship and chaining it to Datuk Azhar's sailboat.

So yeah, those are very big brakes indeed. The GTS comes standard with twin pot calipers with 294mm ventilated rotors up front and
single pot calipers with 302mm! solid rotors at the back. The DE and ES get 276mm ventilated rotors up front. It is not clear to me yet, if they will have twin pot front calipers, like the GTS.

Just in case you're not too sure just how big these brakes are... the old 240hp Galant VR4 and 260hp Lancer Evo 3 also had twin pot calipers but only 276mm front rotors. Same as the base model new Lancer DE and ES. The 270hp Evo 4 too, had twin pot calipers and ~290mm front rotors. Same as the new Lancer GTS. Rear rotors were similarly single pot and more or less the same size as the new GTS'.

Question is, why would a 152hp basic saloon want larger brakes than those on the VR4 and Evo 3??? Why would a nippy saloon car require the same brakes as a SUV weighing 30% more???

And the stabilizer bars (21mm/20mm)... they are nearly the same size as those on the 1700kg Outlander SUV (22mm/20mm). Damn!

More performance headroom...? Your guess is as good as mine. But based on the new 4B11 Mivec engine, Evo IX-beating chassis and SUV / VR4 / Evo3-4 brakes.... all I can say is I'm getting a very tingly feeling up my spine, about this new Lancer. I think it's going to be spectacular!

One last bit. Assuming a coefficient of drag = 0.33, I ran the specs through my desktop dyno program and the above are the results. Not too shabby... 8.6 seconds century sprint (which is close enough to Mitsu's claim of ~8s) and a top speed of 206kmh. The big letdown was the weight. If I shave a 100kg off, the century sprint is 8.2s with a top speed of 210kmh... which is much more consistent with the Civic 2.0's performance.

Oh yeah, enjoy the videos too:

Footage of the Launch and Promo Video at the Detroit Motorshow.

Walkabout of the 2008 Lancer

Walkabout of the Lancer Prototype X

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Auto industry: Thailand loss is Malaysia's gain... almost...

Malaysians have always figured that the Thai automobile hub in Rayong is what the Malaysian auto industry should have been, if our auto industry had been managed properly, that is.

But wait, do you reckon, like I do, that Malaysia has been given a 2nd chance?

Mahathir is gone and the car market has been liberalised somewhat compared to the past. Best thing is, even this small, minor liberalisation has already shown up the overwhelming extent of Proton's inefficiencies and mismanagement - causing it to lose it's market position, its profitability and most of its cash reserves within a couple of years. Proton is in dire need of restructuring.

And as if on cue, Thailand stages a military coup in 2006, deposing a democratically elected govt in favour of what is essentially a military dictatorship, goes on to impose capital controls soon after that (which it reverses overnight after the SET loses 20% of its capitalisation in one afternoon) and now toys with foreign ownership controls for companies operating in Thailand. As expected, foreign investors in Thailand, as well as potential ones, are nervous as hell. They are having second thoughts... and who can blame them?

Can the time possibly be more ripe for Malaysia to step in and claim it's place as the true automotive hub of Asean?

This article from the Associated Press details Ford Motor Company's reluctance to expand its investments in Thailand, not knowing when the next coup or major policy shift will come.

The global automaker said Thailand has the potential to become a base for small-car production while maintaining its position as a leading producer of pickup trucks, but the company is still talking to the government about its investment plans and possible incentives.

A spokesman for the company contacted by telephone would not say which other countries were under consideration for the investment.

The planned factory would have a production capacity of 150,000 vehicles per year, of which 120,000 would be for export, it said.
Waddaya know... Proton has some excess capacity to manufacture small cars at it's Tanjung Malim plant. Lots of it, in fact.

So, to me... this begs the question... WHY are we still not falling over ourselves, grabbing the god-sent opportunity? Why are we still playing cat & mouse games with foreign investors? Why have we delayed tie-ups with VW and GM? Why are we so afraid of foreign investment and liberalising the auto market further?

- Are we afraid to face the fact that the NEP has failed the auto industry?
- Are we afraid that a foreign owner-partner in Proton might stop hiring its managers solely from the politically connected, bumiputra elite?
- Are we afraid they might stop buying sub-standard, low quality components exclusively from preferred (read politically connected) bumiputra suppliers?
- Are we afraid they might not grant similarly-preferred bumiputra dealerships a monopoly of the sales and distribution channel?
- Are we afraid they might actually enforce real performance and quality standards upon these 'preferred' suppliers, dealers and distributors?
- Are we afraid that they will inadvertantly halt the gravy train? Slay the NEP goose that lays the golden eggs?

The question for the Malaysian people is whether we should allow this outdated, unfair, discriminatory, inefficient NEP to rip yet another brilliant opportunity out of our hands?

Perhaps we Malaysians should make the decision for the govt. Simply stop buying Proton cars and force the company to fold. Shake the local car industry to its very foundations. Wipe the complacent smiles off the faces of Proton executives and their govt handlers. Show them the Malaysian public will vote decisively with their disposable incomes, even if they cannot yet do so with their ballots.

Why should Toll Agreements be Official Secrets?

The PM has said repeatedly that his govt will be one of transparency and serve the people. We believed him. That's why we voted him into govt with the largest majority in history.

And now is the time to deliver. Not 3 years later, no more football analogies... NOW!

In order to be transparent, the govt needs to inform the public about the basis of its decisions.

In order to serve the people, the govt needs to convince the public about the basis of its decisions. The govt needs to prove that it is indeed serving the people, and not dedicated to serving itself.

Below are some choice quotes from our Minister of Works, Samy Vellu regarding impending action against some opposition personalities for alleged breaches of the Official Secrets Act. None of his statements sound anything even mildly resembling transparent. And certainly none of them serves the people, who just want to know why the toll agreements are so lop-sided in favour of the concessionaires.

Instead, Samy Vellu's statements are condescending. Implying that the people have no right to know how, even when the matter is commercial and not national security, in nature. We already know that the cabinet has deemed these agreements as OSA. What we want to know is WHY?! Why be so secretive with a simple commercial agreement?

The govt can hide behind the OSA when it comes to "WHAT" questions, but they will do well to be reminded that it cannot refuse to anwer the "WHY" questions.

For the life of me, I simply cannot understand why the govt persists in walking this difficult road, arousing the anger of the people at every turn. Why doesn't it just simply reveal the details of and reasons behind the toll agreements? Put an end, once and for all, to the wild suspicions of impropriety, corruption and cronyism!

I reckon their refusal deserves a big HMMMMM...

Here's Samy:

Samy: They must pay for disclosing secret toll deal
Soon Li Tsin- Malaysiakini Feb 2, 07 2:39pm

“They take it, they exhibit it and they did a big drama with it […] without realising the consequences of it.”

“This is an agreement between the government and the concession company. And that has all been done with the requirements of the law."

“It is part of a government document which cannot be revealed. And they have revealed it and they will pay for it.”

“Tian Chua and others have no right to reveal it. He’s like a small boy playing on the street. He’s a grown up man. He should know that it’s an official secret document, yet he revealed it."

“He knew the consequences of his action. So he has to face the consequences.”

“When the document is declared an official secret document, it is official secret document."

“Today they will do this, tomorrow they will take another secret document and reveal it. If one reveal secret documents today without paying for it, everybody will do the same.”
Related posts:

The Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972 - Bane of Transparency?

Video of Police Arrests during 21 Jan 2007 Anti Toll Hike Demonstration in Cheras

Boys grow breasts after using shampoo

Guys, make damn sure you check the ingredients of that shampoo you're using. Apparently, the recipe for growing a pair of man-tits is Lavender and Tea Tree Oil, found in some shampoos. If it works on boys, might it work on girls as well? Dare I wish it?

Yeee Hah!!!

Which is worse? Bad refereeing or walking off?

If you watched the 1st leg of the Asean Football final between Thailand and Singapore, what did you think about during the 15 minutes when play was halted because the Thai players walked off the pitch due to their dissatisfaction with a penalty awarded by the referee?

Did you agree with this irate letter writer (Warut Promboon) who wrote in to Today newspaper saying:

Let's face it. We know what went wrong on Wednesday. Wrong penalty awarded first and wrong walk off second.

Let's get the facts straight.
Well, Warut... you're half right. You right that both incidents are wrong. But you're dead wrong that the second is somehow justified or of lesser significance, because of the first.

That's suicide bomber logic. Talibani-math.

It's the mindset that an immoral initial transgression warrants and morally justifies an equally or worse immoral response... but with the accompanying fallacy that the immorality of that response is somehow mitigated by the immorality of the initial transgression.

That's the excuse that aggressors use to justify their aggression. The excuse that someone or something forced their hand, that their aggressive response is a justifiable price to pay in order to right a perceived wrong.

So, Warut alleges bad refereeing resulted in a bad penalty. Therefore, the Thai players were justified to walk off the pitch, halting the match.

Bad refereeing is a fact of life. And in football circles, an unavoidable fact of life. And all sportsmen learn to live with it. In addition (and this is a big addition), at the time of the walk-off, nobody could rightly confirm the referee's lapse of judgement until an inquiry is held after the match! Therefore, the bad refereeing was still an uncertainty, a strong suspicion at best.

On the other hand, the walk-off would have been wrong under any circumstances. Man-handling the referee would have been wrong under any circumstances. The Thai players know that, but they did both anyway. And THAT, is why Thailand should be disqualified from the tournament.

I am shocked that more people don't see the difference. But my guess is... that those are the same people who think the 2006 coup that unseated Taksin's government was justified. The same people who believe that the suspicions and demands of roughly 10 million inhabitants of Bangkok - justify the utter rejection of democracy and the overthrowing of a government still supported by the remaining 50+ million Thais outside Bangkok.