Monday, 30 June 2008
These nasi lemak packets look ordinary in their plastic containers and still cost a ringgit each todate. Even the first impression when you open it up is still ordinary, as you still see some sambal with slivers of ikan bilis or white bait and a slice of hard boil egg on top. Only when you break up the packed rice do you find a hidden treasure that is the main attraction to my kids, pieces of salted cat fish that brings the nasi lemak to a higher level. Eaten with the nasi lemak that is just lemak or milky enough to qualify itself as a nasi lemak, the salted cat fish brings to the flavour a cache of taste that actually is quite indescribable, not to mention the aroma the salted fish imparts on the rice. The kids will look for packets that has less sambal not only because it is too spicy for them, but the sambal may overwhelmed the taste and aroma if there is too much. But for me either way is okay, because biting into a mouthful of rice mixed with sambal and the saltfish is a pleasure of a different plateau. I have no idea which region traditionally adds salted fish as condiment in their nasi lemak, but I suspect this age-old practise may have been forgotten in its place of origin as in my travels I have yet to find a nasi lemak with the same condiments.
But wait, do remember that this is still a soup stall as it is. What many people will do is eat a packet of nasi lemak as an appetiser before proceeding with their meal of noodle soup like this kueytiau soup that my missus had. I must say that the noodle soup here is the best amongst the three competing soup stalls along the street, and they are the most generous with their meats. However my preference is to order just soup instead to eat with the nasi lemaks, and either lungs, tripes or even mixed meats will accompany the nasi lemak as shown herewith. This is a delicious way to have a full meal that can last you until the afternoon, as Sundays we usually have high tea instead of brunch. So if ever you are in the neighbourhood, come try the nasi lemak and the soup dishes here. You might find a new way to enjoy your breakfast. By the way, they charge a really cheap standard price for all drinks here, so if you want to have your beverages on the cheap still, this is also a good place to have your cuppa.
Saturday, 28 June 2008
Get the big picture?
By DZOF AZMI
We’re all thinking, ‘Oh woe is me, my life is harder because the price of petrol has gone up’. But what about the country’s well being as a whole?
A STRANGE thing happened in Kapar, Selangor, this week. While the rest of the country was worrying about the rising price of oil, motorists in this sleepy town were lining up to get free petrol. In the end, it was revealed that the petrol station’s owner had unknowingly left somebody who is mentally unstable in charge during his lunch break.
The hike in the price of oil may not be the looming, dire threat it seems at first. – File photo .
No way these otherwise law-abiding, tax-paying citizens genuinely thought they were getting something for nothing. They were just succumbing to their base human nature – see, want, take. It worked when you were in kindergarten, it’s obviously still whirring away in your amygdala when somebody offers you free petrol. We are inherently selfish, and that goes a long way in explaining why the media has devoted so much space to this issue.
(Why am I taking up space? Well, I had not planned to, but some things I’ve heard people say over the past few weeks has me riled up enough to address this issue – again.)
This recent surge in noise has made me think: who is really complaining about the current increase? Is it the rakyat who don’t have a car or a motorcycle? Well, they haven’t been hit directly by the hike, and they wouldn’t really be so vehement about knock-on inflation because it hasn’t really happened yet. Is it the members of the public who drive cars less than 2,000cc? I’m not sure how much they are complaining after getting their RM625 rebate. Incidentally, these people are better off than if the Government had just raised the price of petrol by 30 sen with no rebates. However, I agree that all you luxury car and SUV drivers out there, on the other hand, have been told to just cope with life as it is now. Here’s a tip for you guys: tell the driver in front to switch off the air-conditioner if you want to save on petrol.
But still the rakyat are suffering, the cry continues: road tax is expensive. But, hang on. If you’re driving a car less than 1,600cc, you pay less than RM100 for road tax. That’s less than a tank full of petrol. If it’s a 2,000cc car, your road tax would be RM380, which is three tanks full of petrol. The real pain only starts for those who own cars 3,000cc or more. Yes, more than RM2,000 is a lot to pay just for the privilege of driving on the road. But, my, that’s a nice shiny, petrol-guzzling behemoth of a ride you have....
Cut income tax is the next suggestion. But – and you know what I’m going to say here already, don’t you? – if you earn less than RM1,500 a month, you don’t pay any tax. If you’re lucky enough to have found the love of your life and married her legally, you can earn up to RM2,500 and still not have to pay any tax. In fact, only 10% percent of 10 million eligible Malaysians file a tax return. Just imagine what the Inland Revenue Board offices would be like every April if everyone suddenly decided to be a responsible citizen.
In fact, a lot of the complaints and suggestions out there are not ones that affect the hard-core poor – who don’t really have that loud a voice anyway. It seems we only complain about things when the pain directly affects us, and the solutions we propose usually directly benefit us first. But then, as I’ve pointed out, we are a selfish species. As a friend of mine pointed out, the people making the loudest noise are those in the middle-income bracket who have suddenly seen their disposable income of RM300-RM500 a month suddenly cut by half. We can’t buy that plasma TV so easily, or eat out so often. Saving up for our child’s university years is going to be a lot harder. But the way this has been played out in the media makes it sound like people are starving as a direct result of the price increase. This is not true; the poor have always been poor, they’ve always been struggling. Nobody is falling into poverty because the price of petrol is now closer to its true price than before.
The one thing that affects all is inflation. About 100,000 fleet cardholders in the country still buying diesel at the pre-April subsidised price. So, the price of fuel going up cannot be a direct reason why buses are increasing their fees. Or why my Char Kuey Teow has gone up again in price.In fact, complaints about this whole petrol price raising exercise has been focused on how much harder my life is after the increase. But what about the country’s well being as a whole? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again (I wish this newspaper would bump up the font size from its usual nine to 14 here so people will pay attention): We are running out of petrol. Malaysia will probably become a nett importer of petroleum goods within the next half decade. When we buy more of this stuff than we sell, the nation will find it impossible to pamper its citizens with subsidies.
This five-year estimate is largely dependant on how wisely we conserve fuel from now on. Subsidising petrol does not encourage people to be careful with it. It doesn’t encourage people to carpool, or to walk instead of drive, or to take public transportation (however abominable some may find it), or to buy a smaller, more fuel-economical car. We are happy when the Government absorbs our burden, even though we are wasting a God-given resource. But it’s not quite all gloom and doom. There is still a lot of natural gas in Malaysian oil wells, so that could be a fall back, but that will eventually run out too. We need to start investigating alternative sources of energy, and not just invest in solutions that remain dependent on fossil fuels (like improving public transport).
The truth is that we are selfish to the point of myopia about this. I’m sure some even think that since it’s still five years away, we should be hedonistically pumping away at the stations until that crunch day comes. But you also know, young grasshopper, that there will be a heavy hangover after that party.
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
Mosque project halted for
IN THE euphoria of celebrating 100 days of the Pakatan Rakyat-controlled Selangor government, a section of the population has been forgotten. This is especially so in the construction of a new mosque in Taman Melawati.After waiting for nearly 30 years with several changes of people’s representatives from opposing parties, residents saw a glimmer of hope when a ground-breaking ceremony was held just before the last general election.
The residents thought that they would perhaps enjoy holding the Aidilfitri or Aidiladha prayers in a new mosque before the end of the year. With the area cleared, a zinc wall plus a signboard in place, residents thought that the promised mosque would soon be up. This is was due to the hard work put in by residents who were mostly retirees from either the government or private sectors with no political affiliations. They had only one aim – to see a new mosque within their lifetime near their surroundings.
All of a sudden, the Pakatan government reviewed the project. Thus, work has stopped. Residents are asking why such a thing has occurred, when no politics were involved from the start. The Selangor government may be exercising its right to put things in order with regard to questionable acts of the previous government. However, the residents seem to have a different view. This was clear during the thanksgiving prayers held after Friday prayers in the temporary mosque on June 20 to mark the state government’s 100 days in power. Of the more that 400 who attended Friday prayers, hardly 40 answered the call. The rest walked out without carrying out any voluntary prayers seen on normal Fridays. Is this not enough warning to those in power?
Noor Ikhsan Raffii
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
Monday, 23 June 2008
Sunday, 22 June 2008
Saturday, 21 June 2008
Saturday June 21, 2008
Wacky show to promote science
GEORGE TOWN: A reality show on scientists and inventors with wild ideas may debut on television to promote science. Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Fadillah Yusof said the aim was to make science as sensational as the entertainment industry.
“Besides scientists and inventors, we also want to draw people with practical ideas to participate in the reality show. “Cash prizes will be offered to the winners,” he said after opening exhibitions on science and art at Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Tuanku Fauziah Museum and Gallery here yesterday.
Fadillah said the ministry was discussing the reality show proposal with the ministries of Information and Youth and Sports.He said his ministry was planning to increase the ratio of scientists and engineers to 60 per 1,000 population by 2010.
Wednesday, 18 June 2008
Wednesday June 18, 2008 MYT 4:43:08 PM
SAPP's vote of no confidence against PM (Update 2)
KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) has lost confidence in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, it said at a press conference here Wednesday.
In the coming sitting of the Parliament session on Monday, its two Members of Parliament will support a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister, the party said. Whether its MPs table the vote of no confidence, or whether other MPs will do it, would be determined in due course, it said in a statement.
SAPP’s two MPs are Datuk Eric Enchin Majimbun (P171 Sepanggar) and Datuk Dr Chua Soon Bui (P190 Tawau). The party also has four state representatives. The statement was read out by Dr Chua and signed by Majimbun, who was overseas on official duties. He will be back for the Parliament sitting next Monday, June 23.
The statement listed four areas of dissatisfaction with Abdullah's premiership:
1) That no concrete action had been taken on the issue of illegal immigrants, despite repeated requests by SAPP and other Barisan component parties;
2) That the government had offered no holistic economic solutions to cushion the blow of the sudden hike in fuel prices, which had greatly burdened the people and threatened further hardcore poverty;
3) That not enough attention had been paid to issues raised by the people of Sabah -- poor delivery systems, corruption, wastage, lack of transparency and accountability -- and that SAPP would have failed in its duty as elected representatives if these issues continued to be ignored; and
4) That the people have lost confidence in Abdullah, and that if he can't perform, he should step aside and make way for another leader to take over.
Talk had been rife Wednesday morning that SAPP was going to abandon the Barisan Nasional coalition and defect to the Pakatan Rakyat alliance. The party is running a
poll on its blog, asking members of the public whether it should stay on in Barisan, leave the coalition but remain independent, or join Pakatan.
At press time, there were 2,828 votes tallied, with 85% (2,411 votes) asking SAPP to join Pakatan. Only 2% (80 votes) urged it to stay on with Barisan, while the remainder suggested it quit Barisan but remained unaligned.
I say let it happened! Let's see if all this talk about our PM having no support has legs or just butt wind blown off by political arseholes.
If the PM wins it, it will lay to rest all the speculations so he can get on with the job at hand. If he loses it, cest la vie and let's see if his successor can do any better! By the way to those who will support the motion but loses the vote, don't come crying back okay! We really do not need two-faced shameless politikus in government.
Tuesday, 17 June 2008
But this post is not about Damai Corner but instead about a small haven of Malay food in Kota Cheras that I believe is virtually unknown for those not from the Cheras area. Standing in front of rows of public flats beside the main road, here you will find the local authority's stalls and self built stalls serving various Malay dishes, usually specialising in their own particular specialities. I have come here today to a Malay Kuih stall that becomes the centrepoint for the Malay ladies staying in the flats to sell their home made kuehs, as that is the traditional way for a Malay Kuih stall to operate. The stall operator may sell some of the kueh or even fry some the kuehs like banana fritters, but then he will accept for these housewives to 'letak' or put their own kuehs in his stall for a commission on their sales. This is indeed a win-win or social way of commerce that has mostly faded, as the stall keeper can increase his menu without increasing his capital, while the housewives obtain an outlet to sell their wares without needing to sink much resources to open their own stall. And for the customers it is definitely a win, as he can be assured he will get the best examples of kuehs available for the area, as naturally the kueh stall will only sell teh kuehs that gains acceptance from the public who will surely reject substandard offerings. So that is why in addition to the freshly fried fritters in the large trays, you will also find rows of different coloured plastic containers holding different types of kuehs, the colours denoting the origin of the kueh. Peek into the different containers to find your favourite kuehs, and those that has their covers permanently opened would well denote that this are the popular and best stuff to be had here.
When I look at the savoury kuehs available here, I remember EatingAsia's request for good cucur badak locations and this stall's version would surely be recommended by me. Although it does not have the traditional prawn topping, the cucur badak is made from a dough that is a good mix of mashed tapioca and tapioca flour that does not retain much oil, so biting into it will not be an oily affair. Instead you will bite into a spicy filling of grated coconut fried with pounded dried prawns chili and turmeric paste and a smattering of fresh prawn bits, a welcome bonus if you are lucky enough to have it in your cucur badak. Thus they do get their cucur badak right in that it should have a prawny filling within a tapioca bun, and not just a pasty tapioca pastry . Another savoury kueh that has a similar filling as the cucur badak is the pulut panggang, a grilled glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves that nowadays is more commonly griddled, sadly . So you no longer get the smokiness from grill's coals and the pulut is also more oily than it should be. What is also common nowadays is that the oil acts as the flavouring for the pulut, in that the rice becomes fried, when it should actually the filling that that lends the rice its flavour. Nonetheless since the filling here is flavourful and runs the length of the pulut, the pulut thus becomes well flavoured and the griddling actually enhances the flavour somewhat, compensating for the lack of smokiness. Thus to me the pulut panggang here is one of the better ones you can have in Kuala Lumpur even though it is not grilled and is quite a best seller here because if you come here a little too late, they will be sold out.
Talking about being sold out, the spring rolls or popiah here is also quite good and one of my favoured kuehs to buy and they top tend to sell very fast. Coming in both the fried and wet versions, I prefer their fried version as the wet version needs to be eaten early as it can get spoiled if kept too long. Anyway the fried version comes in way that I like it to be prepared, glazed with a sweet chilly and fried onion sauce and with crushed peanuts on top, so you do not need to dip it into a sauce the way it is more commonly eaten. The glaze also actually has seeped into the turnip filling, enhancing the taste when you bite into it. And I can tell you it is easier way to eat the spring rolls and very portable, as you do not need a dip or sauce plate to dip the spring roll into. Convenient finger food in this case. But I hate those that is fully glazed so I am glad that the glazing only the top part of the spring roll here. Otherwise it is a mess to hold actually.
So let's get on with sweet kuehs now and the firm favourite here is the kueh limas as we Perakians call it or tepung pelita as it is more commonly known. It is now sold in a pack of five pieces each as I believe it is a rare occassion for someone to buy just one as one will not be enough. Of similar layered construction as the Siamese Tako, the bottom part here is of a mixture of sugar syrup and pandan steeped glutinous rice jelly while the top is coconut milk custard. Best served after being chilled in the refrigerator, it should be eaten with all the components together so you get a mix of sweet, exotic and saltiness in a mouthful. Yummy and the younger daughter fully agrees as she can down three in one go. A caveat is that some stalls mix in 'kapur' or lime chalk as a thickener for the coconut milk custard topping and if this is not done well you will get a bitter taste instead.
And lastly I want to introduce to you a rare kueh item that I have not found elsewhere, the first time I found this was in the Ramadhan Bazaar here last year and it seems to have found favour locally as it is now regularly sold by the stall owner, and judging by the three pieces left in the container seems to be a crowd favourite. Called Apam Sarawak though the owner cheekily cautions if we to Sarawak they will have no idea what we are talking about, the apam actually reminds me of the regular kuih ketayap or kuih dadar/gulung which is a type of filled Malay crepe. However unlike kuih ketayap, the crepe here taste like kuih apam (malay sponge cake) so I guess the crepe batter mix is quite similar to an apam's batter but like kuih gulung it is flavoured with essence of pandan that gives it the green colour. The filling though is a little bit different than a kuih ketayap in that the coconut gratings are mixed with some red beans, though I must say this time there are more coconut than red beans like as when I first discovered this kueh, maybe the recipe has been modified for local tastes. The shape of the kueh is also different than a kueh ketayap whereby it is not rolled(gulung) but is crimped like a currypuff. Anyway I hope an East Malaysian can identify the actual name of this kueh as I do not think we in the Peninsular has it. It would be deeply appreciated.
Thus I come to the end to this posting without commenting on many more Malay kuehs that is available in this store, like this rare kuih bom that is the original item and not the supersized cekodok that the term is being used nowadays. What I can just say is this, since the stall collects kuehs from the various people to sell on their behalf in addition to what the stall owner make themselves, the variety available is quite large. Therefore you can make repeat visits to the stall and and can have a different kueh for tea and this includes kuehs that you may no longer find elsewhere. So if you are in the neighbourhood, turn right after the Batu 9 exit on the Grand Saga Highway if your are from Kuala Lumpur, and keep a watch out for the row of foodstalls on your left. Bon Appetit!