Here In My Home - Malaysian Artistes For Unity

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Wah Now They Are Front Page News Eh?

How fickle minded some of our editors can be such as the one from this newspaper whose article is featured below. They have been very silent about our navy's operations in Somalia recently but all of a sudden gave the navy's efforts in the Gulf of Aden the front-page treatment only after it transpired that our naval men stationed in the area on KD Inderasakti was instrumental in rescuing one of vessels that was being hijacked by the Somalia pirates. This after they chose not to feature any news about the return of one the Navy's ship that had operated in the area for more than 92 days, with the men missing three major festivals that they could have made a human angled story from, that was replaced by the ship that they are now toasting for their rescue efforts. At least the other newspapers were consistent in their reporting like the article published here.
Saturday December 20, 2008


PETALING JAYA: Armed Somali pirates that boarded Chinese crane ship Zhenhua 4 were about to blow the bridge wide open when the Royal Malaysian Navy came to the rescue. Nine pirates ran helter-skelter without firing a single shot after there were surprised by the twin machineguns of KD Sri Inderasakti’s Fennec helicopter gunship.

The crew on the Zhenghua 4 had earlier locked themselves on the bridge and held off the pirates, which came on two skiffs, for several hours.The Fennec gunship’s response was the first time an aircraft was deployed to engage pirates holding a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden. RMN Fleet Operations Commander Vice-Admiral Datuk Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin said the Sri Inderasakti was in the right place and the right time in the pirate-menaced Gulf of Aden on Wednesday when it received a distress call from Zhenhua 4.

Pirates on the loose: Pirate boats (top) being seen near the Chinese ship ‘Zhenhua 4’ in the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday in this handout photo, while the Chinese vessel’s crew (right) prepare to attempt to repel boarders. — Reuters

“And the response from Sri Inderasakti’s response was swift,” he added.Relating the incident, Ahmad Kamarulzaman said that the RMN ship received the distress call from the Chinese ship at 8.30am (local time).“Commanding officer Kapt Mohamad Adib Abdul Samad immediately despatched the Fennec gunship. “At the same time, a request from the European Union’s CTF150 taskforce also came in for us to lend assistance and do whatever was necessary to deter the pirates because we were the nearest vessel to the Zhenhua 4,” he told The Star when contacted in Singapore. Covering 45 nautical miles at 80 knots per hour, the Fennec piloted by Leftenan Muliadi Mohd Noor and air quartermaster Petty Officer Haniffaa Haironi reached Zhenhua 4 in less than 15 minutes.

“After quickly assessing the situation, Haniffaa fired several warning shots across the bow of the Zhenhua 4. This created panic among the pirates,” he said.One of the pirates’ skiffs also sank in the battle but not from the Fennec’s gunfire, said Ahmad Kamarulzaman.

Not long after, Dutch warship HDMS Absalon of the European Union’s CTF150 taskforce arrived to escort the Zhenhua 4 to its destination.Ahmad Kamarulzaman said that the RMN is sure that there were other pirate vessels in the area as the gunship crew saw what they believed to be the “mother ship.”.

The Inderasakti had taken over from the KD Mahawangsa on Dec 12 in the ongoing Ops Fajar to safeguard Malaysian merchant vessels plying the dangerous Gulf of Aden.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Unheralded Until Shit Happens!

It is ironic that after my previous post, it has come to light that on the day our brave men on KD Mahawangsa came back from their deployment unheralded by the media, the naval vessel that took up their stations in the pirate infested waters of Somalia was called into action to save a Chinese merchant vessel, beating off the pirates with shots from the ship and her helicopter. Only now are our media trumpeting the effort to the public after the fact. Sadly KD Inderasakti herself could not save Malaysia's own ship that was hijacked on the same day, but with only one vessel in the area what do you expect when the so-called Naval Coalition in the area admitted themselves that they do not have enough ships to effectively cover the whole area in order to keep the ships transiting the area from harm. Anyway this incident marks the first time our naval ships has fired in anger in an international operation, and thus proves they have the will and the teeth to do harm if necessary, despite claims of cissyness by some dumb Malaysian bloggers who were disappointed that we did not go in with guns blazing when we rescued the MISC ships. We would not want to repeat the Indian Navy's gung-ho mistake of sinking the victim's ship while the pirates' got away scot free, do we? Especially when the rules of engagement are still not clear, and for those nay-sayers who wonders why we did not manage to capture the pirates themselves, this is the reason why our men did not engage to capture the pirates as your bloodthirsty hearts may have wanted. I quote below :

Enough said eh?

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Not Prime News Eh?

I am a bit chuffed because this time the return of KD Mahawangsa from Ops Fajar did not get wide reporting either by the newspapers or TV, especially my favourite TV news Buletin Utama on TV3. Maybe the media did not consider their service of safely escorting Malaysian merchant ships convoys as prime news even though to me personally this service is far more important and strategically significant to our nation's interests than the rescue of our hijacked ships and crew, and it has taken more character and fortitude for our naval men to carry these duties and tasks over the long deployment period. At least I have read in one blog how vital the convoys are for our ships to ensure their safety rather than trying to sail on their in the Gulf of Aden.

September 24th, 2008 by Marsha

Haritu Bi called.. Walaupun dapat cakap lebih 15 minit tapi rasa tak puas sangat.. Bi tengah tunggu TLDM untuk konvoi bersama lalu Teluk Aden.. Pfffftt.. Bi kata semalam nyaris kena kejar dengan lanun Somalia tu so diorg patah balik.. (Translation : That day Bi called..Even though could only talked for 15 minutes but still not so satisfied..Bi is waiting for the RMN convoy through the Gulf of Aden...PFfftt...Bi said yesterday nearly got chased by the Somalian Pirates so they turned back...)

Such personal writing is definitely more interesting than the sterile news reporting like the one below by Bernama eh, which was only picked up in parts by the New Straits Times as a news feature in their today's printed version . Meantime I am left with only photos of KD Mahawangsa's recent berthing in Oman to feature here as accompaniment to this post.

Malaysia Yet To Receive Report On Tug Boat Seizure By Somali Pirates - Rais

PUTRAJAYA, Dec 17 (Bernama) --

Confirming the pirate hijack of a Malaysian tug boat off Yemen yesterday, the National Security Council is now awaiting the latest development on the incident.Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said the council had not received any report on the hijack and was worried over the fate of the crew.He said Malaysia had reported the hijack to the United Nations and pressed the need for drastic measures to be taken against Somali pirates."The council is expecting a report either tonight or tomorrow morning," he told reporters after attending the ministry's Excellent Service Awards here.AFP reported that pirates had hijacked a Malaysian tug boat and a Turkish cargo ship yesterday, and attacked three other vessels in the Gulf of Aden in the past week.The tug boat with 11 crew on board was heading to Malaysia from West Asia.In three other incidents last week, Somali pirates attempted to hijack a Singapore tanker, an Italian cargo ship and a Greek ship.Meanwhile, Rais described the United Nations Security Council resolution to combat piracy as "powerless"."Merely announcing it is of no use, it must be followed up with physical force," he said.

In LUMUT, Acting Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) chief Vice-Admiral Datuk Mohammed Noordin Ali said that next February, the RMN would cease ongoing 'Ops Fajar' operations to protect the country's commercial vessels from pirate threats in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia.He said the decision was also agreed upon by Army chief Gen Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Zainal.Mohammed Noordin said any decision to resume operations would depend on the prime minister, defence minister and the National Security Council.He said the decision to stop the operations was mainly due to its exorbitant costs and RMN obliogations to protect the sovereignity of the national waters.Mohammed Noordin said this after receiving RMN vessel 'KD Mahawangsa' which had returned from Ops Fajar at the RMN Lumut base today.Another RMN vessel, 'KD Indera Sakti', is expected to conclude the operation in February.'Ops Fajar' was launched after Malaysian International Shipping Corporation (MISC) vessel MT Bunga Melati Dua was hijacked by Somalian pirates in the Gulf of Aden while heading to Rotterdam from Dumai, Indonesia on Aug 19.Ten days later, another MISC vessel, MT Bunga Melati Lima, with 36 crewmen, was also hijacked while crossing the same waters.Meanwhile, a Wisma Putra source identified the two ships as those of the AMD 1 cargo ship and Masindra 7 tugboat.The source said that a National Security Division meeting was held at 2.30pm today to discuss the matter.No Malaysians were involved in the incident as the crew members of both vessels were Indonesians, he said.-- BERNAMA

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Changing Of The Guards For Ops Fajar

KD Mahawangsa Escorting MISC's Eagle Valencia Through The Gulf

Despite what was reported in my earlier blog posting, one defence website has reported that Ops Fajar shall continue even after the return of KD Mahawangsa after more than 92 days of deployment in the Gulf of Aden, successfully escorting more than 36 merchant vessels through the treacherous waters. It is reported that KD Mahawangsa is scheduled to arrive home on 17 December 2008 and is set to be replaced by the KD Inderasakti. It was reported that KD Inderasakti set sail on 1st December 2008 with 204 crew on board together with a seven member army medical team. She will operate in the Gulf for three months until February 2009 as part of the Government's committment to the maintenance of the nation's merchant security while sailing through the Gulf of Aden.

KD Mahawangsa Leading Her Convoy Through The Gulf

In the meantime, KD Mahawangsa has safely escorted the largest tanker in MISC's fleet through the Gulf, the Eagle Valencia that is 333.2 meters long, 66 meters high and 58 meters wide with a deck area equivalent to almost 3 football that has similar dimensions to the the oil tanker that was hijacked by pirates, the Sirius Star. This despite the size of KD Mahawangsa that is quite insignificant to the tonnage of the Eagle Valencia while escorting the convoy she is in, while the photo of the Super Lynx on her deck gives an indication of how large the deck is when even compared to an aircraft carrier in these photos handed out by the Malaysian Navy Fleet Command Public Relations Department. Until KD Mahawangsa arrives home to a grand welcome, all we can do is wish her Bon Voyage while to the crewmen of the KD Inderasakti, we wish them a good and safe deployment in the best traditions of the Navy.

A Super Lynx On Eagle Valencia's Deck Indicating Her Size

Sunday, 7 December 2008

KD RAJAWALI – RMN’s Home Of Naval Air Aviation

The Royal Malaysian Navy had embarked onto the field of naval aviation more than twenty years ago on 27 April 1988 when the nucleus team of the RMN air wing was incorporated with the purchase of six used WASP HAS Mk 1 helicopters and spares from the Royal Navy, operating from a site at Naval Bouestead Dockyard at the Lumut Naval Base. Starting with a dream in 1984 when a group of eleven naval officers received flight training at the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s PULATIBANG Johor, the acquisition of the helicopters paved the way for the Navy’s ambition to have an air unit to provide force multipliers to the Navy‘s fleet while opening up new capabilities for the RMN in multidimensional maritime warfare. The force multiplication embraces over the horizon operations, faster and more effective search and rescue, Special Forces operations, electronic intelligence and monitoring, anti submarine warfare and as a platform for missiles and torpedoes amongst others. This is in addition to increasing the capability of monitoring the nation’s maritime waters from the air as the air wing provides aerial surveillance over a larger area than that can be provided by surface ships only. Finally on 11 May 1990, KD Rajawali was commissioned as the first Naval Air Station of the Naval Air Wing. In its early years, the air wing was assisted and supervised by Royal Navy loan service personnel and the Royal Malaysian Air Force but despite many parties doubting the capabilities of RMN’s own personnel to handle and service their own air wing; by 1994 KD Rajawali became independent and was fully managed by RMN’s own personnel.

These early beginnings was part of a long term strategic measure for the RMN as it allowed the Air Wing to learn and deepen their knowledge in the various aspects of helicopter operations in maritime warfare scenarios including logistic support. Such operational experience is not only limited to the people of KD Rajawali but is also shared with the navy’s fleet personnel when the Navy trains their pilots and air engineering team to carry out various maritime operations with the fleet’s ships. This is because the role of KD Rajawali is primarily to meet the aviation support for the surface fleet of the Navy, in times of peace and war. These roles include reconnaissance, search and rescue, oil spill detection, trans-border criminal activities interventions and oil platform and EEZ protection. Vast emphasis therefore is placed on training of personnel, enhancing flying skills and expanding the air wing so that it will not only be able to operate rotary aircraft currently but fixed wing maritime patrol aircraft in the future. With the entry of such aircraft and training of its personnel in advance flying and weaponry, KD Rajawali is geared to meet the many challenges ahead as the Fleet Air Arm of the Navy. What is unique about the Air Wing is that with the procurement of twelve new highly sophisticated naval helicopters; the RMN now owns the most modern and capable combat helicopter fleet than the other branches of the Armed Forces.

499 Squadron Wasp

The nucleus team that was given the responsibility to operate the Navy’s first helicopters was given the designation of 499 Squadron. The used Wasp HAS Mk1 was designed for short range quick action to hunt for warships or submarines and had unique attributes for maritime use including night operations. Even though the more than thirty year old helicopter was not equipped with modern and sophisticated equipment, its effectiveness was proven during the Falklands War. The Wasp helicopter was operated by two aviators and could carry three passengers and a payload of 635 kilograms, including up to 235 kilograms external stores and two lightweight torpedoes. With its Rolls Royce Nimbus engine the helicopter could sprint at a speed of 90 knots. The Wasp could be armed with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles. Until they were decommissioned on 21 December 2001, a total of twelve units were operated by the Navy for a duration of eleven years. During the period, the pioneer squadron’s service record of ten thousand accident free flight hours and more than five thousand deck landings, mostly on RMN’s ships. Despite this, the Wasps services had to be stopped as the aging helicopters operational cost were increasing making no longer economical to operate. This was compounded by the difficulty in obtaining spares parts as the type was no longer operated by other navies, resulting in parts cannibalisation from unserviceable units. The decommissioning of the helicopters was also in line with the modernisation of the navy with more sophisticated and highly capable equipment as the squadron paved the way to the establishment of two new squadrons of modern helicopters. Even though the capabilities of the Wasp were limited, it still allowed the RMN to gain experience in operating an air squadron. Nonetheless 499 Squadron still remains and now plays the role of ground support services and logistics squadron to KD Rajawali.

Crew : 2 Flight Crew plus three passengers in cabin
Radar and Sensors : STR 40 Radar
Hand Held Warning Receiver-ARI 23241/1
IFF PTR446-ARI 3970
Empty Weight : 1,566 kg
Flight Weight : 2,495 kg maximum
Engine : 1 x Rolls Royce Nimbus Mk 103
Maximum Speed : 90 knots
Flight Hours : 2 hours 20 minutes

501 Squadron Super Lynx – Tangkas & Berbisa

In line with the modernisation and development of the Navy and the necessity of to replace the Wasp helicopters, six Super Lynx 300 Mk 100s from Agusta Westland were purchased to provide a new dimension to the operational and combat capabilities of the Royal Malaysian Navy in carrying out conventional naval warfare. This acquisition gave a clear leap to the Navy’s air unit capabilities that was previously restricted to the short range Wasp for patrol and surveillance. With the Super Lynx, the squadron now acts as the combat squadron for the air unit responsible for critical missions and contributes directly to multiplying the Navy’s firepower to destroy the enemy. The main task of this squadron can be divided into four main missions; Anti Surface Warfare (ASuW), Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW), surface surveillance and Over The Horizon Targeting (OTHT) in addition to their multitude of secondary missions. Two features that make the Super Lynx as a combat and mobility force multiplier is that it carries the latest avionics suite and weaponry. As the most capable helicopter unit in the Navy in terms of firepower, the helicopters are armed with four types of weaponry. These are Sea Skua Anti Ship missiles, A244S torpedoes, a .50 calibre M3M heavy machine gun system and TG2 teleguidance system. As an aircraft that is operating in a challenging maritime environment, the Super Lynx are well equipped with sophisticated radar systems, sensors and electronic support systems including radar warning receivers. The range of both the semi-active radar-guided Sea Skua missile and the Seaspray radar is approximately 25km, which gives a stand-off capability to the helicopter. These are new capabilities for the Navy to operate with an edge in a conventional maritime warfare environment. The Super Lynxes also allows special operations with the Navy’s PASKAL Special Forces as an insertion and extraction vehicle, and as a platform for sharpshooters or provision of suppression fire from the heavy machinegun. The Super Lynx helicopters are organic to the Lekiu class frigates but will also operate from other vessels with helicopter facilities like the Kedah class patrol vessels. The 501 Squadron officially became operational on 1 March 2004 but was subsequently commissioned simultaneously with the 502 Squadron on 9 August 2004.
Crew : 2 Flight Crew plus 7 Passengers in cabin
Weapons : Sea Skua Anti Ship Missile
A244/S Torpedoes
0.5 Cal M3M HMG
Radar and Sensors : Seaspray 3600 radar
Sea Owl Thermal Imager
Sky Guardian 2500 ESM
Teleguidance Mk2 (TG2)
Empty Weight : 3,645 kg
Flight Weight : 5,330 kg maximum
Engine : 2 x LHTEC CTS800-4N
Maximum Speed : 168 knots
Flight Hours : 2 hours 20 minutes

502 Squadron Fennec – Agile Et Fute

While awaiting the delivery of the Super Lynx helicopters, the RMN leased two units of AS355 F2 Ecureuil so that KD Rajawali can continue operations after the Wasp helicopters were decommissioned. So it was no surprise that during LIMA 2001, an agreement to purchase six units of the naval version AS355 SN Fennec was signed and the 502 Squadron officially became operational on 28 April 2004. Specifically the primary role of the squadron is to act as a training platform where the Fennec acts as the Lead In Trainer for the Navy’s aircrew and technicians. The Fennec is also the secondary aircraft for the Navy’s maritime combat operations in support of the Super Lynxes. Thus the helicopter’s supporting roles are surface surveillance, naval gun fire support, reconnaissance and search and rescue in addition to general duties. The Fennec can also assist navy divers in mine clearing operations by using the hover jump technique where the mine clearance dive team will make a direct dive into the sea from the helicopter. It is also tasked to support the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency for littoral operations and enforcement. Unlike the Super Lynx, the Fennec is not armed with heavy weapons and is only equipped with a door mounted MAG 58M 7.62mm machinegun. Since the Fennec’s duties are littoral focused, she is equipped with a 240 kg load winch on the port side and a 30 million candela powered search light for night operations. The Fennecs are supposed to be organically detached to the Kedah class patrol vessels while for operations support, they will be short termed deployed on any ship that has a helideck and flight facilities.

Crew : 3 Flight Crew plus 3 Passengers in cabin
Weapons : MAG 58M 7.62mm GPMG
Radar and Sensors : Bendix 1500B radar
Fruit 99 EWR
Raytheon APX 100 IFF
Empty Weight : 1,890 kg
Flight Weight : 2,600 kg maximum
Engine : 2 x Turbomecca Arius 1A
Maximum Speed : 150 knots
Maximum Flight Hours : 3 hours 20 minutes

Friday, 28 November 2008

You Forgot Who Is Rin Tin Tin Eh?

In today's The Star there was a plug-in spread for the latest heroic dog cartoon movie and one of the articles was talking about the Hollywood do heroes through the ages below :

Friday November 28, 2008

Hollywood’s heroic hounds

PUT it down to animal attraction but Hollywood has had a soft spot for putting heroic canine crime-fighters and life-savers on screen for decades. The truth of the matter is that Bolt is merely the latest in a long line of do-good dogs to topline their very own movie or television show over the years.

One hot dog: Scooby-Doo is the iconic Great Dane.

·Scooby-Doo: The star of the longest continually running cartoon series in television history, Scooby-Doo is the iconic Great Dane who remains instantly recognisable to most kids and adults as Mystery Inc’s crime-busting mascot. Just like his best friend and owner Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, Scooby loves his food and is scared of almost anyone and anything. Amazingly, Scooby has managed to outlast most of his on-screen counterparts and has enjoyed the distinction of not only being the star of his own cartoon series but also two Hollywood movies.

·Underdog: TV’s crime-busting beagle from the mid-60s to early 70s may not nearly be as famous as Scooby-Doo but he’s just as potent to baddies nevertheless. A cartoon parody of Superman and other heroes with secret identities, Underdog’s premise was that geeky Shoeshine Boy, a cartoon dog, was in truth the superhero pup Underdog.

·Lassie: Have a conversation about heroic dogs and Lassie’s name will pretty much come up. Lassie’s heyday might have been in the 50s but this brave and selfless collie’s amazing exploits still manage to live long in the memories of TV addicts worldwide.

·Benji: Another heroic dog to have captured the imagination is Benji, the small, lovable mixed breed pup with the uncanny knack of being always being in the right place at the right time. Such was Benji’s appeal that it has managed to remain a star of the small and silver screens for more than three decades and counting. The latest news on Benji is that he will be starring in an episode of Season Five of the popular HBO series Entourage.

Even though the 'transvestite' English sheepdog is more famous, I actually find the Lassie franchise story line quite lame but I still remember spending many a weekend as a kid watching black and white movies and the TV series of the original (to me at least) hero dog Rin Tin Tin. Rin Tin Tin did heroic acts on its own without needing to call his humans befitting its origins as a war dog, even starring as a soldier dog in the Old West in the TV series. In fact to this day if there is any breed of dog that I would like to keep if the situation warrants it as outlined by Muslim law, that working dog would be a German Shepherd in tribute to Rin Tin Tin. I really believe the popularity of the breed in Malaysia actually arose from the exploits of Rin Tin Tin as watched by Malaysians at that time, maybe the younger generation just do not know about it. You do not really that many 'Lassies' around right. Anyway this is my ode to Rin Tin Tin, may the younger generation get reacquainted with him soon and be able to watch him running towards you once again as his trademark opening sequence.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Second Batch Of Patrol Vessels To See The Light

It was with a glad heart that I heard and read of the Malaysian Government's decision to go ahead with the building of the second batch of patrol vessels for the Royal Malaysian Navy once the first batch of six vessels has been delivered in 2010. The Prime Minister who is also the Defence Minister announced this at the naming ceremony of the fifth patrol vessel PV Kelantan recently. He said the role of the RMN and other maritime agencies was becoming more challenging following increased threats to safety of navigation in the world's sea lanes.He said the recent hijacking of MISC vessels by pirates in Somalia waters was an indication of how important it was for the RMN to strengthen itself with more combat vessels to face these threats by having more ships. He further states that the patrol vessel project is not only to patrol and defend the sovereignty of our national waters, but for special missions in the strategic waters around the world. It has to be remembered that the RMN's assets has been depleted substantially with the transfer of two and a half squadrons of patrol craft to the Malaysian Coast Guard force that was supposed to be replaced by these patrol vessels, so it is appropriate for the program to be continued to check the navy's shortfall.

As for the status of the first batch of patrol vessels, the first two ships are now in active service with their home base in Sabah, while the second pair is reportedly undergoing their acceptance trials with the third vessel scheduled to enter service around March or April next year. Meanwhile the last ship of the batch was announced to be launched at a similar date next year, so it is most likely that the batch delivery will be finished in 2010 as announced so that construction of the next batch can commenced. It has also been speculated that this second batch vessels will be armed with a new gun combination, either the Bofors 57 mm Mk3 and Millennium GDM-008 (Millennium Gun Weapon System) combination or OTO MELARA 76/62 SR and MARLIN-WS (modular-advanced-remote-controlled weapon station). This will replace the existing OTO MELARA 76/62 SR and OtoBreda FSAF/Mauser 30mm MN 30 GS combination that some claims do not provide adequate air defence for the vessels. After reviewing the specifications of the Marlin WS, it is interesting to note that the manufacturer claims that the weapon can be equipped with point defence missile launchers, giving the vessels an organic missile defence capability at a location other than the fitted for but not with points. Meanwhile the Millennium gun would provide a system capable of engaging fast-moving incoming air targets highly effective and with a high probability of structural kill. Whatever it is, we do need these patrol vessels and fast so here's hoping that there will be no further hurdles to construction programme.

Chronicling A Budget Airline Holiday - Part 1

Although I have travelled several times on budget airlines with the family for our holidays locally, this would be the first time I will try their hotel and flight package and I thought I might as well chronicle it. Our destination will be Kota Bharu and the holiday will be a four days three nights stay at a reasonable hotel within the city. As you may know we have three national airlines to serve us for domestic destinations, and for the past month I have checked out their respective websites to shop for the best deals. Let’s call them the full service airline (FSA), jet budget airline (JBA) and turboprop budget airline(TBA) respectively based on the type of service they offer.

Well let’s start with their websites shall we. Being the pioneer, I must say JBA has the most user-friendly and easily accessible website with the least down-time or refresh needed when you are on-site. FSA website is slightly better than TBA’s in terms of access, but is the worst in terms of user friendliness if you want to book a package holiday online which incidentally until now I cannot find the page to do so. Meanwhile even though TBA basically tries to replicate JBA’s functions, it gets a no-no because of the slow access speed and frequent downtime, tendency to crash that requires you to refresh the function and slow processing of requests. While writing this I am now on Firefly’s website and I must tell you that I am still on a white screen for the last ten minutes.

Coming to the main event I have noticed that the price for these holiday packages actually are quite stable even for a period of one month unlike the price of their flight tickets. Nonetheless this where both budget airlines’ price indication differs and if you are not careful you may actually be paying more if you just accept without reading the fine print properly. For JBA their prices are all inclusive meaning you pay what they quoted, while TBA’s will charge additional taxes and fees that actually makes their nett price more than their rival's. Even though TBA serves refreshments in their flight, a glass of fruit juice and a muffin is not worth an extra two hundred bucks in my books. That is basically the additional cost of the package that I have to pay to TBA if I had opted for their package to stay in Renaissance Hotel In Kota Bharu. Although TBA offers two hotels with the other being a two star hotel, it surprised me that theirs cost more for basically the same package. And the funny thing is that TBA no longer offers Renaissance when I first logged in last night but I manage to get it after trying several times but I finally dropped it after doing a last minute comparison with JBA’s quotation which saved me the two hundred bucks. In fact if you logged in now, you will no longer get to book at Renaissance although JBA continues to offer the hotel in their inventory. So I have managed to make a booking at a five star hotel at a good price, better than if I had made separate bookings.

Well what is the comparison between booking the hotel and flight tickets separately you might ask. You can actually reserve the hotel rooms at a good rate from the hotel’s website but when you add up the cost, it can actually cost you an extra four hundred ringgit than if you buy the package from JBA. Surprisingly TBA’s final package price is quite similar to the price of booking separately, so there seems to be no reason to buy from them unless you buy your flight ticket early on. However I must say that both airlines are actually having promotional fares for the period that cost less than seventy ringgit one way which I suspect would be quite similar in pricing if you had bought it early. Well at least I have finished the first step in the process to having the budget airline holiday, and when the departure date strikes nearer I will write on how I prepared to travel on the budget airline with their numerous restrictions especially baggage limits and how to overcome them. I stop with the following travel tips from JBA’s website! Cheers then!.

Travel Tips

Go Holiday offers low prices packages (combining flights and hotels). Here are some ways to keep your costs down.

Depart on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. These days often reflect the lowest fares.

Check for "low' periods. When you travel during off peak periods, there are less people and
fares are lower.

When you see a good deal, buy it! Inventory changes constantly for both flights and hotel. A good deal might not be available later.

Travel just after a major holiday. Holiday travel is always in demand, and prices often drop as the demand does.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Tabasco Versus Lingham’s

Last month I have read a few promotional centennial articles on Malaysia’s own sweet chilli sauce from Lingham’s and only now I realised that Malaysia actually has a chilli condiment to rival that other internationally recognised chilli sauce from the sole world super-power, Tabasco. It isn’t everyday we have something to rival them so it gives a good feeling that at least on this level, we are out there in front .What gives me more pleasure is that Lingham's is the quiessential Malaysian product as it was developed by an Indian, designed for the Mat Sallehs, manufactured by a Chinese family and consumed by all strata of Malaysians. Thus it can be considered as a microcosm of Malaysia in its own little bottle.

Nonetheless I must confess that I personally came by to the taste of Lingham's quite late in life, since a bottle of Lingham’s chilli sauce do cost more than the average chilli sauce the Malaysian family consumes and thus Lingham’s was not stocked by my own average Malaysian family. In fact it was my wife who introduced me to this sauce early in my marriage, and only then as a special occasion chilli sauce and not as a table sauce. I actually think I tasted Tabasco much earlier as it was brought back by my sister who was studying in the states, but to this day I actually have not taken to its taste, possibly because its nourish salty taste is too piquant for me. Maybe it is because our taste buds, or mine at least, are more used to a sweet and sour taste even though both sauces share a salt and vinegar base. Thus the addition of sugar makes Lingham’s taste more palatable to me and I guess many others especially their international fans, and this is where the strength of Lingham’s markets are. And Lingham’s has long claimed itself to be organic even before it was fashionable to be so as it is made without any preservatives. Although not made of any chilli padi like Tabasco, the heat from a bottle of Lingham’s is still hot enough for me as our own long red chilli’s has a heat signature of their own and hotness does not need to be just a matter of fieriness in your mouth to register its heat level.

Glugor Grown Red Chillies Vs Avery Island Chilli Padi

Thus I regret that even though you may be able to obtain a bottle of Tabasco sauce when you dine out, our own creation is quite hard to come by. In fact the only time I see Lingham’s chilli sauce served as a condiment by an international food chain is at King Pie during a promotion, though this should not be a surprise as South Africa the chain’s home is a traditional market for the company already. It is a shame since Lingham’s is holding their own in the USA, and for the company to consider itself an export market specialist is quite a shame actually. So if you have not tried a bottle, get one the next time you are in the shops, and we might actually see this home-grown product actually being welcome by more of its countrymen. As for me I am glad that I can now afford it as a table sauce for my home, though for tomato sauce or ketchup as the Yanks call it, I have to be satisfied with other brands currently. So is this the way for the future, my dear Lingham?

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

KD Tunku Abdul Rahman Video

I just found the following corporate video made by DCNS of what I believe is the sea trial carried out on our Scorpene submarine KD Tunku Abdul Rahman in Lorient waters in France. Viva our submariners! Cannot wait for your return!

Ops Fajar Ending Soon

As reported recently in the Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia, the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) has decided to end their Ops Fajar in the Gulf Of Aden due to high costs of operations to continue the operations indefinitely. This would mean our naval ship KD Mahawangsa will no longer be shadowing our merchantmen through dangerous water as beautifully captured in these photos by Blogger Dukerobin in his blog. Despite some other bloggers efforts to discredit our navy's role in this operation, this MISC sailor that is actually experiencing the naval assistance clearly appreciates the security provided especially by the navy's own Paskal men presence on board throughout their journey from the Gulf to the Red Sea, as the pirates still continue to take merchant ships hostage despite the increase of naval presence in the area.

Let not the taking of another of our ships force our hand again to send our naval ships there to provide naval security for our national assets in the area. Our shipping companies and the MAF must come up with a reasonable security solution for the ships passing through the are, and soon. Posting our Paskal men on board after embarking from a safe port after dispatch by air to provide security in the area before disembarking at the other end and returning home may allow irregular presence in the are without constant deployment of our naval ships, thus reducing overall cost. Just my two cents to put into the discussion hat.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Stop Meddling Into Our Religious Affairs!

Although I have noticed some sniping in our mainstream press towards the recent fatwa against tomboyism like the article below, I did not give it much thought as I consider this would be the work of some pathetic misguided individuals who just like to challenge the status quo.
And what about our very own special brand of discrimination, Fatwa on Tomboys? The National Fatwa Council, this paper reported recently, has ruled that tomboy-ism – where a girl behaves or dresses in a boyish manner – is forbidden in Islam. seemingly, the decision was prompted by the recent propensity of young women to behave like men and indulge in homosexuality. The Star 9 November 2008
Nonetheless I was a bit surprised that the Inspector General of Police had to take upon himself to issue a warning to non-Muslim NGO's to stop publicly challenge the fatwa, either through street demos or remarks, as such an action underlines the seriousness of this challenge against the very foundation of our civil society by creating another avenue for divisiveness and partisanship. I wonder on what basis these people think that they have a right to meddle into other people's religious affairs, especially since they may have zero knowledge of the religious requirements itself, especially as the IGP himself remarked "This proves they have no respect for other religion because the fatwa was issued for Muslims. Why do they have to be the one to demonstrate?” he asked." Thus it makes no sense for these people to meddle as there was no reason for non-Muslims to feel threatened by the council’s fatwa because it was only meant for Muslims. So why do these society's feel they have the right to impose their views on society just because they may feel that this is the age of change and era of individualism. Especially one like Food Not Bombs KL whose mandate is actually to recycle food for the poor in order to raise awareness of the problem of food wastage and unfair food distribution in our society. A noble enough cause but what has this got to do against the fatwa I ask? But reading through their website, I cannot help but notice that this noble society's aims may have been hijacked from their through true objectives as demonstrated by this posting as sadly their organisation is by itself a loose form of organisation by a hodge-potch of individuals. Thus it is no wonder if its aim has deviated from the nobility of the cause.

Thus do they even realise in trying to impose their views on general society, that they themselves are the flip side of the coin they are trying to demonise? So stop interfering into things you do not know and stick to the script. Let the Malaysian Muslim society ourselves figure out for ourselves that since the fatwa has now been issued, how should it then be enforced and how we should rehabilitate the offenders, as to me the real problem has long been that we are a society long on legislation but short on enforcement and rehabilitation. So now you uninformed goody two shoes, butt out OK!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Are Hefty Men Accepted As Sexy Here?

Watching the TV recently it hit me that locally men that is heftier than normal seems to be an accepted image locally. Watching Afdlin Shauki nonchalantly strut his big potbelly and mammaries on TV in the telemovie Madu Tiga Babak Keempat while Harith Iskandar struts his changing t-shirts with his belly hanging out for Celcom in their TV advertisements shows how such hefty men seems to thrive in their popularity despite their larger than normal physique. Come to think of it our own Prime Minister in Waiting also has a rounder physique than his immediate predecessors that in an article I read somewhere praised him in wearing well made suits that enhances his profile. Even roly poly men like Akademi Fantasia graduate singer Bob has his own fans that have looked beyond his belly to be enthralled by his sweet voice so another AF grad Aizat should accept who he is instead of trying to starve himself to death in order to come down a few shirt sizes in order to win some additional fans. And I would like to add that personally I am myself amazed that even though I myself has gone to seed as amply demonstrated by my photos here, I still manage to turn a few ladies’ head myself when I dress up for important meetings and such. So does this mean that as long a man projects an image of suaveness, his body size does not matter. I wish the same could be the same for the ladies but I guess it is a cruel world we live in eh?

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Purchase Vindicated!

I did not want to comment on the Public Accounts Committee's investigation into the Cougar CSAR Helicopter purchase before this as it would have been sub-judiced but this following report by The Sun that I found to be the most accurate and complete on their findings has actually vindicated the purchase. I have put my personal comments in red at the end of some the statements in the article and I sincerely hope that the Government will act on the PAC's worries about the continuing delay in the replacement of the Nuri's due to this foolish storm in the cup unresponsibly created by these political opportunitist and issue the LOA to Eurocopter before the price validity expires in February 2009.
PAC finds no evidence of abuse in Eurocopter tender process

By: Husna Yusop and Giam Say Khoon (Mon, 03 Nov 2008)
KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 3, 2008) :

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) did not find any evidence of abuse of power in the tender process by the Defence Ministry for the RM1.6 billion purchase of 12 Eurocopter EC725 helicopters.

Azmi and his deputy Tan Seng Giew at the PAC meeting yesterday.

However, PAC chairman Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid expressed concern that the deal, now on hold, was struck without any physical inspection. "Although we did not find anything incriminating in the two-day inquiry, PAC members have expressed the need to continue monitoring the progress of the deal because it is a high-profile case. We will not to conduct inquiries and call back witnesses or new witnesses if necessary," he said today.

Azmi said the committee the tender process conducted according to international standard and transparent. " We were unable to determine the correct price for the deal because we could only evaluate from the best tender. According to the terms of tender, the tendered price of RM1.604 billion from the Eurocopter will only hold until February. "After that, it will have to depend on whether the manufacturer is still willing to sell at the same price," he added.

However, Azmi said PAC was not satisfied with the ministry for not having a physical inspection before choosing Eurocopter. He said the test flight pilots of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) had tried the helicopter and thus opined that physical inspection was not necessary. "So we suggested to the RMAF to make physical inspection compulsory in future and a decision was made that a thorough pre-delivery inspection will be conducted when the deal is done,," he said.

To those who cleverly claim no flight-test was done in alleging improper tender process, please note that the finding is that such a flight test was done aaa but now the recommendation is that physical inspection is carried out upon receiving the helicopters. For those of you with no brain, this means when the helicopters have finished being manufactured and ready to be received aaa, not before. Anyway this is a no brainer as it is an established industry practise, so does this imply we have not done pre-receiving inspection before. That would be a surprise and is worth further investigation.

Azmi said PAC also proposed that the government set up an independent review panel to monitor any expensive procurement. "It is up to the government to determine whether procurement involving RM100 million and above should be monitored by a panel but that will ensure that a purchase is done in a more transparent manner. Azmi also explained that there was confusion in the price of the helicopters as different figures had been reported. "All figures were incorrect as we had seven tenders and only three of them were suitable. Of the three, the lowest tender was RM1.262 billion, followed by RM1.604 billion and RM2.442 billion, but the government had chosen the RM1.604 billion tender as it met the requirements set by the Air Force," he said. Asked why the government did not choose the lowest tender, Azmi said only Eurocopter has managed to meet the requirements set by the ministry. The requirements, I cannot reveal," he said.

To all of you so called experts out there, please note that only this helicopter meet all the requirements by the Air Force, so even though the price was not the lowest it was the lowest fully compliant tender so naturally it was selected la. By the way, even the PAC cannot disclose the requirements, so don't play-play and clever-clever speculate your own specs aa...definitely not like your spectacles one....

"The Nuri helicopters are in the process of being phased out although RMAF has ensured that the helicopters are still airworthy until 2015. A total of 95 persons died in helicopter crashes involved Nuris and it is difficult to determine whether the crashes were due to human error. " We are also worried about delaying the replacement of the Nuri," said Azmi.

So please-please my Dear Government, stop politicising this issue with your political fears and issue your LOA to Eurocopter before the price validity ends in February 2009 .

On the allegation by Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur) that the Nuris can still function for another 20 years, Azmi said the Nuris did not have night flight capability and were unable to perform auto-pilot rescue in the air. These can only be overcome by using new helicopters and it will cost more for the Nuris to be upgraded" he said. --- end ---

Aiyaa Uncle Lim, now you understand aa...Nuri not suitable for CSAR as cannot hover one and cannot fly night time. And to modify to include all these items as proposed for the cougar "radar warning receiver, laser warning receiver, missile launch warning receiver etc", it would cost more la, so the only advantage is for you politically but our airmen will still be risking their lifes for your political games only. So if any Nuri drop I put it on your head aaaa !Ptui!