Here In My Home - Malaysian Artistes For Unity

Monday, 30 March 2009

Definitive Under The Tree Dining

A couple of weeks back I had the occasion to travel the old Sungei Udang – Masjid Tanah road in Melaka as I was visiting a customer in the vicinity. I had noticed this quaint shop located within remnants of a palm oil plantation by the roadside before but since they were usually at the other side of the road when I sped pass them; I usually do not take the extra effort to make a U-turn to give it a try. Nonetheless this time since we were early finishing and was making our own sweet time back to KL, I asked the driver to make the U-turn so that we can give it a try. First off you will notice the name of the establishment, Sawit Corner (Palm Oil Corner) which is literally true as it is located at a corner and you can easily miss it when speeding by. Secondly is that the place is no ordinary under the tree set up, with a kitchen building, cooking station stalls, wakaf or attap covered dining huts and a large zinc roof dining hall with large screen TV to boot in addition to tables scattered under the palm trees. They even have a koi fish pond in the middle of the set up to give it a Balinese feel. This is the best under the tree set up I have ever seen to date.

What I can see from the food stations are that they serve Portuguese style ikan bakar at night and Melaka style otak-otak in addition to a special large curry puffs called karipap Jeen, which I guess is a regular egg curry puff that can be usually had at the Ramadan bazaars. The regular menu meanwhile features nasi lemak with various accompaniments like organic village chicken, assam pedas rice set, fish head curry, malay noodles like mee rebus including mee rebus and fried dishes like nasi goring and such. As we were there just for a simple lunch, two of us opted for the nasi lemak with fried chicken while I ordered the mee rebus tulang (beef ribs) with side orders of fried vegetables and fried egg. For drinks we had cendol and I myself had the special durian cendol. I also ordered one set of otak-otak to be eaten as the appetiser that I ended up tapauing home an additional twenty pieces for the home as it was mildly spiced but delicious which the kids at home gave the thumbs up to. As for the mee rebus, it was a typical malay style mee rebus, the thin gravy belies its sweetness that comes more from the beef stock rather than sweet potato that is the norm for the mamak version. The beef ribs meanwhile was falling off the bone when you bite into it demonstrating that it has been slowly simmered for the stock for quite a while. My only complaint is that one portion is not enough for me, and at only RM4.50 per portion I will ask for seconds the next time I am there. As for the nasi lemak, they said it was delicious with a rather sweetish sambal but the chicken was fresh and not oily, yielding a nice bite. I guess I have to stop now as that was all we managed to have this time since I originally had no intention to review the place, but I am sure this will be a favourite spot for lunch whenever we are next in the area.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Silently Vigilant In The Gulf

First reported as a rumour by KL Security Review in February, it has since been confirmed in a Jane's Defence Weekly report that the Royal Malaysian Navy's training frigate KD Hang Tuah has been deployed to the Gulf of Aden and she will return in April. This is despite earlier reports that the RMN's presence in the Gulf of Aden will not be extended beyond February if no funding is allocated as the Navy was concerned when initially told that the funding for these deployments would have to come out of its existing operational budget. This would have resulted in the RMN having to scale down its training in 2009 to accommodate such costs. But such concerns may have been eased by the news that the 19 March supplementary funding bill had allocated RM27.9 million was to pay for fuel costs incurred by the RMN in its 2008 deployments to the Gulf of Aden to protect ships belonging to Malaysian shipping companies transitting the Gulf. As it was earlier announced that the government spent RM14.6 million to finance the operations of Malaysian navy vessels under 'Ops Fajar' from Sept 4 to Dec 31 last year in the Gulf of Aden, that still leaves RM13.3 million to finance these operations until April I guess.

Although I feel that using the last remaining training frigate in the fleet for fleet operations is not suitable especially for such a long overseas deployment as I am sure the Navy's trainees will not be on board and thus are deprived of onboard training in the meantime, I guess that is the price to be paid by our Navy that is currently short on operational assets after their patrol craft an OPV squadrons has been transferred to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency. With the prior announced commissioning of two new Kedah class OPVs this month seems to be further postponed, the RMN may have to wait further to ease the shortage before they can send a more suitable vessel to undertake the operations in the Gulf and allow our training frigate to undertake her assigned role again. Until then we wish our men on board KD Hang Tuah in the Gulf good sailing! May they uphold the prestige their predecessors has gained in the short time our naval vessels has operated there.

Why I Will Not Join Earth Hour

I think Malaysians for the past month has been bombarded by messages to join Earth Hour by all sorts of media. For those who may have somehow missed the message, this is basically an exhortation to be a greenie novice by switching off the lights in your house or location for an hour, under the pretext that such an action by a targeted one billion people can offset our carbon emissions that contributes to global warming.

But then why I will not join the Earth Hour brouhaha is simple; as a realist green that knows in the modern world I can never be totally green I give these two main reasons amongst many:

1. Mother Earth will not get a break by one billion people switching off for an hour when the other five billion plus people are still merrily polluting the earth and continue to do so without abatement. She will only get a break when a significant portion of the non-green people who joins the event because of the buzz and as a fad actually takes the next step and try to start a more green and healthy lifestyle, like making a decision to try to separate and recycle as much as possible by the more easy method of reusing your plastic bags as garbage bags instead of buying specialist garbage bags, or mulching your garbage for compost if you actually do some gardening in order to really green the earth, or keeping that unsightly pile of old newspaper to be solf off to recycles so that less trees will be cut down. As it is, I sincerely believe that after the event, most of the participants will go back to their normal lifestyle and we all know what that means.

2. One hour of switching off the lights in all the places that are holding Earth Hour Events in shopping malls etc that is being done locally like being pushed by this article will not offset the carbon emissions by the transport taken by the event participants. Those who understand the reason why I drive a fuel efficient MPV over an underpowered sub-compact will get what I am saying. You can have all your acoustic concerts, candle light dining and what not but the fact is that the special preparations to make such an event already has added extra emissions to the atmosphere. I will not join such events unless it is held in the local park where the events held requires no special arrangement, just people coming together hopefully by foot to appreciate nature like gazing into the night sky to maybe see the stars for the first time and to hear nature at its best, as then the only emissions these people would make are only the carbon dioxide from breathing and methane from the nether regions :>).

So tonight at the appointed hour you will find that my television and lights will be switched on. But I will make sure that only essential lighting like those in the living room where we will watch the idiot box will be on and as usual only the fan and an open door to let the fresh air in will cool the room. I am sure that we will make less emission than the fools who literally switch off only their lights but keep their airconds humming and other electrical equipment working as this is basically utility futility, and even than the ones who totally switch off for the appointed hour as we will be doing it every night. Such a commitment and belief does not an hour make. But hey! If you have already signed up and will partake in the festivities, go ahead! Like they say, at the very least you will be voting for Mother Earth. And hopefully you can continue to green your life further.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

MAWILLA 3 Receives Her First Corvette

KD Laksamana Tun Abdul Jamil Slowly Approaching The Navy Pier

Since operating from 28 August 2007, Markas Wilayah Laut 3 Or Command Naval Region 3(MAWILLA 3/COMNAV 3) Royal Malaysian Navy has managed to strenghten the security in the northern waters of the Malacca Straits. Such security focus is important in the area due to the high monthly traffic of an average of 6000 units of merchant shipping transiting the waters according to statistics. The waterway which faces the Indian Ocean is also strategic and vital as it is the northern gateway of the Melaka Straits for trading vessels. Located at Tanjung Gerak, Mawilla 3 is the third naval base for the RMN and is built on an area of 19 hectares with a 200 metres pier that can accomodate the largest RMN ships and the Laksamana class corvettes that will be based there. On 23rd March, the naval base received her first corvette, the KD Laksamana Tun Abdul Jamil that became the first navy vessel to dock at the navy pier that has only recently been completed. With the build up of assets at the naval base, those sailing the waters up north can now depend on a strong guardian to safeguard their security.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Something To Watch Over Us

Finally after suffering launch delays due to problems with the satellite launching company, RazakSAT should finally find its orbit after the launch on 21 April 2009. RazakSAT, named after the second Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Abdul Razak, is a mini class satellite weighing 180kg and the first remote sensing satellite in the world to be orbiting the equator. RazakSAT will orbit at an altitude of 685km after it takes off from its launch pad at Kwajalein Island in the Marshall Islands and will subsequently orbit the equator every 100 minutes and snap images of Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. African countries covered include Somalia, Rwanda and Nigeria. Even South America would be on the radar. The equatorial orbiting satellite would enable observations of the earth’s surface to be made more often compared with a polar orbiting satellite, that is, RazakSAT can revisit the same spot four to six times a day during daylight although it may not be possible to get a nadir view of regions near 9 degrees north or south for up to 25 days. Even so, its orbit will carry it over some portion of Malaysia 14 times a day.

Inverted position of the RazakSat with panels folded to the side. Note the camera at one end

RazakSAT is equipped with a medium-sized aperture camera (MAC), a pushbroom camera with 5 linear detectors (1 panchromatic, 4 multi-spectral) to capture high resolution images of the Earth along the near equatorial orbit. The 2.5mm Medium Sized Aperture Camera on the satellite has a ground sampling distance of 2.5m (black and white or panchromatic) and 5m (colour or multi-spectral) and at the nominal altitude of 685 km, MAC has a swath width of 20 km. The size resolution is said to be similar in clarity as looking at a container truck from space. Thus RazakSAT is expected to provide high resolution images of Malaysia that can be applied to land management, resource development and conservation, forestry, fish migration and security. It is the last application that really interest me as now Malaysia can secure its own geospatial information security without relying on third parties. And although it has been reported that for less than RM2,000, you can now have a satellite image of your neighbourhood or a place of interest, Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency director general Darus Ahmad has said that a committee comprising government agencies such as the military and police would vet requests for “sensitive” images. Nonetheless just imagine for yourself the military applications RazakSAT can provide for the defence sector of our country. The availability of the Malaysian home grown high resolution satellite, the RazakSAT stands not only to benefit the country in terms of better management and utilisation of resources but also is something to watch over us.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Why We Need Science and Mathematics To Be Taught In English

I re post here a posting from my friend Venez's blog that is a humorous but well targeted take on the reason why there should be no fuss on the issue of teaching of Science and Mathematics in English for our schoolchildren. Maybe after that you can read this letter and understand what should be the core concern rather than faluting on nonsensical things that will not prepare our kids for the real world.
Why Malaysian Government insists on using English for math and science?

This is because the whole world uses the language as an information and/or technology language. How dangerous it will be if we try to use Bahasa, especially in school. See example below:-

Hardware = barangkeras
Software = baranglembut
Joystick = batang gembira
Plug and Play = cucuk dan main
Port = lubang
Server = pelayan
Client = pelanggan

Try to translate this:


That server gives a plug and play service to the client using either hardware or software joystick. The joystick goes into the port of the client.

Now in BAHASA:

Pelayan itu memberi pelanggannya layanan cucuk dan main dengan menggunakan batang gembira jenis keras atau lembut. Batang gembira itu akan dimasukkan ke dalam lubang pelanggan.

Now you know...WHY...

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Upin And Ipin The Series Continues

As I have posted before, the local cartoon series Upin and Ipin will continue for another forty two episodes and has been continued under the Upin & Ipin and friends format. As commented by the Les Copaque Production blogger in that post, the series continues their stealthy educational aim by inserting science or moral content in a fun format, with the latest storyline on how to take care of you teeth. This was done by playing on the fears of kids (and actually adults) of dental visits, but interspersed first with a scene of the kids playing a traditional class room game and then someone pretending to hurt because their teeth were pulled resulting in a panic of the rest of the kids. This is not a review but I must say their approach works as my kids does try to follow the correct way of brushing when the dentist gives instructions in the class. I guess the Les Copaque people were educated well by Sesame Street, as similarly the kids do learn while having fun. I guess that is why our kids are now attracted by their show, and may they have the same longevity as Sesame Street. The only problem now is that since the series are only seven minutes plus mini episodes, the continuity in the story telling can be a problem with the kids attention span, not to mention the problems it creates for the parents if they miss a show. Currently they have overcome this by having cliff-hanger endings, and for those with Internet access they can catch up missed episodes on their website. Only I wonder for those liberal parents, what are their feelings with the Sister Ros free handing out of corporal punishment to Upin and Ipin when they go out of line even though the action is blacked out. My whole family finds it cute as we believe in not sparing the rod, but I hope if there are any complaints or controversy on this, Les' Copaque should ignore such voices and keep on with the morality play. Keep it up!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind?

I recently visited again a blog written by one of our active Nuri Helicopter pilots and one of his recent postings really hit home concerning the situation with the safety of our Nuri's and the delayed, and hopefully not aborted, long overdue replacement with the EC-725 SAR. And talking about the SAR requirements, read here why such specifications for the Nuri replacement is necessary and not a luxury, an insight coming from a real pilot and not some pseudo pilots who write to the press claiming they are ex-airforcemen but what they write betrays otherwise.

Posted by Jeffrey Matisa

I know people shudder when I say I am a Nuri pilot, especially when their full fathom of aviation experience and knowledge is from Malaysian Airlines and Air Asia. Some respond with, "Oh, the flying coffin?" When someone not form the fraternity starts a tirade on this lady, I bristle. You cannot, based on what our maligned press feeds you, make an attempt to come across as informed and knowldgeable on an aircraft that has saved lives many times over those whose she has taken through no fault of her very own. Do you actually intend to sermonise the clergy? Would you who live in danger no greater than the ones of your own making in the foundries of your luxury sports cars, make attempt to preach to us whose lives are on the line in using hardware sinless but for her age in the execution of duty? ......

........I was having lunch in the navy wardroom in KD Sri Semporna last January as guests of the Commanding Officer when an ex-commander turned naval contractor asked me about the airworthiness of the Nuri, almost kindly and concerned was he. He contrasted this against the Nuri mishaps he had heard of over his own 30 years in service. I maintained as I do with all who ask, that it is not airworthiness that comes to question with the Nuri.

A pilot has all the authority to snag an aircraft less than serviceable for a task if he examines it and finds it so. But with an operational and meteorological environment far changed from that which the Nuri found herself first flying in, greater demands are placed upon an airframe that was designed in the infancy of helicopter history, to operate from sea-going decks rather than where altitude performances would infringe when trying to climb above inclement weather, just for instance. These diversifications and others strain the initial design brief of both the aircraft and the aircrew who must now take on the workload at the point where his aircraft is rendered a mere platform for task execution without integral equipment to absorb the said workload. Eventually breakpoint will be reached and aircrew failure will ensue as human performances and reserves are overwhelmed. An aircraft sporting today's current hardware is better designed to surmount the limitations encountered by older aircraft, delaying the point of human failure, making for better mission accomplishment and flight safety.

When the RMAF asked for the EC-725 helicopter to be bought so that the Nuri could be phased out, we asked for the full Combat Search and Rescue variant for this very purpose. So that we could be equipped to do what we do. To save lives in the face of hostility. To save lives, period. We were in fact on the brink of getting the EC-725 when it fell victim to politicking and blogger sabre-rattling, and hence the fleet replacement programme is now shelved due to the "uncertain global economic climate".

This of course, is absolute hogwash. Wherever the mischief was sniffed, that was not the area where the remedy, no matter its suitability, was applied. Instead, we who work are punished with the indefinite delay of what we need to do our job safely within the demands of today's "uncertain" climate, be it the economics, environment or security which concerns and affects us. If we were anything like England where members of the executive and royal families served in the air force helicopter flying squadrons instead of being served by it, I wonder what this stirring of phantoms would have produced for us by way of the Nuri replacement programme. Thus do we fly the Nuri, without the luxury of choice but with pride of service currently unrivalled in this neighbourhood.

So now you know, replacing the Nuri's is really a pressing requirement and not someone's idea to get rich quick. Even if there is an element of profiteering despite the purchase procedures being cleared by the PAC, that can be dealt with separately and should no longer be an obstacle to confirm the order. Our aircrews' lives are more precious than squabbling and politicising an issue that not only affects their lives, but also the life that they may be trying to save on mercy missions. So even though the controversy and subsequent suspension of the purchase may have quieten down the issue now, let not this purchase languish further in some dark vault of public consciousness, coming only to the forefront again when the next Nuri crashes. When that happens, the blame should no longer be put to the airforce or the government, it falls squarely on those who for their political benefits forces our airmen to fly aircraft that are no longer suitable to carry the tasks they are asked to perform. We are only needlessly penalising the blameless when we further delay equipping our brave men with the equipment they really need.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

This Is My Home

I have tried my best to look for an english version of this story but I guess politics play a greater role in attracting our english media audience than this heartwarming story of someone who has risen from the depths of poverty to shock the nation with her record breaking results in our premier examination. Thus I will translate a few choice extracts from the Malay articles on her; INILAH RUMAH SAYA and Resipi kejayaan Madihah dapat 20A from Utusan Malaysia, in the hope it will inspire my children and those other children whose parents can afford to give everything to them, and not forgetting those who share the same circumstance with Nik Nur Madihah Nik Mohd. Kamal, that the only reward their parents hopes for is for their offsprings to rise above themselves and attain whatever that they can achieve when facing life's challenges.

I start by showing the house she stays in as below;

Nik Nur Madihah with her parents Nik Mohd. Kamal Hussien and Mariani Omar at their home in Kampung Parang Puting, Pengkalan Chepa, Kota Bharu. – UTUSAN/Hafiz Johari

and a literal translation of her life states that ;

When the results of the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations were announced yesterday a student, Nik Nur Madihah Nik Mohd. Kamal, 18, created a surprise when she obtained the excellent result of 19 A1 and satu A2.

The success of this student from Sekolah Menengah Agama Arab Maahad Muhammadi (Perempuan), Kota Bharu, Kelantan is made rather special as she is the daughter of a fisherman that leads a life of hardship when compared to previous top SPM students that come from more well off families. She was interviewed by Utusan Malaysia, at her family home in di Kampung Parang Puting, Pengkalan Chepa, Kota Bharu in order to reveal her secrets for success.

She who was once one of the best students for the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examinations at the national level 2006 has transformed into an instant celebrity because of her success.

In fact, journalists that has rushed to interview her has had to wait their turn to enter her father's depleted rented house at a cost of RM90 a month as it is so small and unsound.

The house really represents how difficult her life is with only a small room bordered by a cupboard serving as their rest area while the living room that can only fit four persons acts as her study.

When asked why she wanted to take 20 subjects for her exams, she responded that she wanted to prove that even a fisherman's daughter could excel like the previous best students that had come from better off families.

Thus she challenged herself to create history(or rather her story) by achieving 20A's although she only expected to score 18 A's. She had actually kept it a secret from her family that she was taking twenty subjects but finally broke the news when her trial results bore out her confidence, and when they knew about this the family was in full support of her ambition. This is from a girl living a family life that subsist on an inconsistent income of only RM500 to RM700 a month, who fasts on every Monday and Thursday to conserve food and who sometimes forgoes eating at school as her allowance is only enough to pay for her bus ride to school, eating only bread or a lunch box of fried rice when she can, when her family only eats rice and fried eggs when her father cannot go to sea to fish during the monsoon season.

Yet she does well despite her life's shortcomings of a small house, no scholarship despite her earlier achievements, no outside tuition and her decision not to go to boarding school as her family cannot afford it. Her recipe for this is simple; to strive and strategically study, and if a problem arise to quickly consult the teachers and the rest is to leave it to God's will or Tawakkal. She further elaborates that the strategy that she meants to give full attention when studying as she has no fixed study schedule like others, only studying when she wants to but consistently.

And for those who are now politicising the teaching of Mathematics and Science In English by implying the so-called less fortunate and rural students will be at a disadvantage with such a syllabus, please take note of what Madihah has to say about this.

"Adakah saudari menjawab semua soalan mata pelajaran Sains dan Matematik seperti Fizik dan Kimia dalam bahasa Inggeris?

Ya, sebab lagi mudah dan ditekan oleh guru sejak awal lagi.

(Have you answered all the Science and Mathematics subjects like physics and chemistry in English?

Yes, as it is simpler and emphasised by teachers from the beginning.)

So now, she hopes to be a physicist and is hoping for a place at any foreign university. I hope the government takes note and ensure her ambitions are fulfilled, by ensuring that she will further her studies at any first class or ivy league university of her choice. That is the very least she and her family deserves.

I Wonder?

As today is the closing of the Pakistan International Naval Exercise Aman 2009 held in Karachi in which our own KD Kedah participated, I do wonder if she will be directed to remain in the area to continue escorting our merchant ships through the treacherous Gulf of Aden. This is especially since the host navy announced their own intentions to send their warships to the Gulf soon. It is my opinion that since we have already sent the patrol ship to the region already, she might as well be berthed there for a while further where at a minimum she should wait for a convoy of our merchantmen to organise and then be shepherded through the treacherous waters before returning home. This would give more bang for our money in these lean times as the cost of sailing to and from Pakistan can be further defrayed to cover the cost protecting our shipping in the area no matter how temporary. If the cost of deployment from a friendly harbour is prohibitive, then the KD Kedah can be kept deployed at sea as her endurance at sea as a patrol vessel should allow her to just that and this would be a great opportunity to test the capabilities of the ship and crew. KD Kedah can further also conduct trials and tests of her combat systems and war intelligence centre while she is there as this was part of the reason given for her participation the naval exercise. Let's see if the KD Kedah immediately returns home or as I suspect or she will remain in the area to escort our merchantmen. In the meantime please enjoy some photos of KD Kedah leading the line of warships participating in the Aman exercise that you may not be able to find in our local media.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

We Are All Guilty

To those who usually like to "throw the first stone" especially on matters of corruption, and that means you so called urbane elite, here is an article that should give your mind a little bit of exercise, if your attention can hold so long..
Sunday March 8, 2009
Kugan’s blood on our hands?

In light of recent revelations, the memory of a decade-old conversation returns to haunt our columnist.

ROUND about 1999 (give or take a year) I was invited by the creative director of an advertising agency in KL to come and talk to his creative team about scriptwriting. A couple of weeks before my talk, he asked me if I wanted to drop by and watch that week’s guest speaker to get a sense of who my audience would be and to get some ideas of what to talk about.

The guest speaker that day was a successful advertising person from another agency. I sat in for that lady’s lecture, and a handful of us went for tea afterwards. I don’t remember a whole lot from the conversation at the coffee shop. In fact, I remember only one thing, which was so traumatic that it has wiped out all the other memories.

It was an off-hand remark from the famous advertising lady. She announced that her BMW had been stolen, and the police had caught the guy who did it, so she gave the policemen RM50 to beat the thief up in the lockup.

Now, I like to think I’m pretty cynical – even 10 years ago I was pretty cynical – but when I heard this, I was genuinely shocked.“How could you do this?” I demanded, while our hosts politely tried to ignore the tension at the table. “Doesn’t the guy have rights?

She shrugged, completely unrepentant. “He stole my car. I can’t be bothered to go to court – there’s probably not enough evidence anyway – but this guy definitely did it. Can’t just let him get away with it.”

“You don’t think it’s unfair to try and bribe a bunch of policemen to assault someone who is unable to defend himself, and who in any case is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty in a court?”

“No. He stole my car. You have to teach him a lesson.”

We may have exchanged a few more words, but that was the essence of the conversation. I was disgusted, and I still am. I have never spoken to this person again, and in the intervening years I have been unable to form an objective opinion of her many professional achievements because of the callousness and cowardliness of what she announced so airily that day.

But before I go any further I should acknowledge a couple of things, in the interest of fairness. First, she could have been lying. She might have made up the whole story. I cannot, however, imagine why someone would want to make up a story about herself that demonstrated an utter contempt for human rights and the rule of law, and indeed for basic human decency. In theory, however, it’s possible she made up the story in order to indirectly cast aspersions on the character and conduct of the police.

Second, even if she wasn’t making it up, we have no way of knowing if the police actually acted on her illegal request. They might not actually have beaten up the suspect. They might have behaved with perfect propriety and kindness.

For all I know – and for all the advertising lady knew – they might have donated the RM50 to an orphanage, then bought the alleged car thief a nice lunch, and released him unharmed, with a gift bag containing spa vouchers and a selection of herbal teas.

So I don’t claim to know what actually happened, and I refuse to make the mistake that she did, which was to presume the guilt of those involved.

But I do want to ask a few questions, based solely on the fact that she brought up this story, whether or not it was true.

My first set of questions is directed at her, in the hope that she might be a reader of this publication. Do you see any moral relationship at all, dear advertising lady, between bribing policemen to beat up the man who supposedly stole your BMW 10 years ago, and the death in police custody on Jan 20 this year of alleged luxury car thief Kugan Ananthan, who an independent post-mortem claims was repeatedly burned with a hot iron and beaten to death?

Do you still think it was justified for you to have wanted to teach him a lesson? Would you have liked it to have been as severe a lesson as Kugan’s appears to have been? Or is death by renal failure caused by severe beating just a bit too severe for you?

So exactly how much pain and torture would you have liked to have had inflicted on the person who stole your car? In your opinion, how much cruelty visited upon a naked, cowering human body is equivalent to the loss of a fine piece of German automotive engineering?

And now I want to ask this of the wider Malaysian public: Aren’t we all responsible for the death of Kugan? Do we care so much about our property – our things – that we can excuse or rationalise the physical torment and annihilation of people accused of stealing that property? Are we so frightened by the upsurge in crime rates that we will turn a blind eye to possible acts of sadism and murder?

Can’t we see that condoning police abuse actually doesn’t make our country any safer?

Shouldn’t we be encouraging the police to do things properly, to deploy all their skills and intelligence to investigate crimes and gather evidence lawfully, and build a case that can stand in court, instead of attempting to extract information or confessions by torture, or to impose their own punishment?

What happens if innocent people are tortured so badly that they confess to crimes they didn’t commit? How does that make our streets safer?

And does it make our streets safer if there is the chance that a guilty criminal goes free because a decent judge realises his confession has been obtained under duress – and that the prosecution’s case depends solely on that confession because a proper police investigation was never done?

Does it make our streets safer if a criminal gets the impression that he can bribe his way out of detention or indictment?

And shouldn’t Malaysians acknowledge that this system is of our creation – that we have made it what it is by condoning small acts of corruption?

When we try to bribe a traffic policeman at a roadblock in order to escape a summons, can’t we see that it begins a chain reaction of moral degradation that leads to a well-to-do person thinking that with RM50 she can transform professional law enforcers into a private band of torturers?

The media, civil society groups and political parties – including, it should be noted, Barisan Nasional components – have reacted swiftly to the independent pathologist’s report on Kugan’s death, strongly condemning the brutality that the report implies.

This is right and noble, but shouldn’t we have made a similar fuss over each of the 85 deaths in police custody that occurred between 2003 and 2007?

Should I have waited 10 years to tell my story?

Did Kugan Ananthan die so horribly because when Malaysians had so many opportunities to speak out, we were so very silent?

Huzir Sulaiman writes for theatre, film, television, and newspapers. His book Eight Plays is published by Silverfish.

Nonetheless this does not mean that if we are unhappy with our keepers of the law, we should then take the law into our own hands, should we?

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Now A Theme Park!

Just an add on to my previous post, I am happy to read from an article in today's New Sunday Times that Les Copaque may follow in Walt Disney's footsteps and follow up their cinematic success by opening a theme park, I guess within the Iskandar development in Johor. If true, this would give the announced Legoland a run for their money as that development has been criticised as possibly to be a little lacking in terms of excitement. This is because it has been hinted that this planned Upin & Ipin theme park will emulate Disneyland by having thrill rides based on their cartoon scenes, one of which should be the thrilling upih ride down the hill.

Taken from REEL TIME: Malaysia's Super Twins By : Meor Shariman

" And if things work according to plan, there will also be a Upin & Ipin theme park. Burhanuddin declined to give details except that the park would be located in Johor. "If you watch the movie closely, you will notice that some of the scenes resemble certain thrill rides."If Disney can do it (have a theme park with rides based on their films), why can't we?" I guess parents will now have to start saving money for their kids' "Upin & Ipin" fund! "

If the theme park keeps to such village or Malaysiana premise, I am all for it as an excellent method of preserving our national heritage through fun and I wish it will be a success, unlike previous plans that if I recall correctly includes recreating Lat's Kampong Boy village as a theme park. This may be a good time too if arrangements for a marriage between Kampong Boy and Upin & Ipin can be consummated, as it can give the long established guardian of our older lifestyle a refreshing paint of local contemporaneous to attract a newer audience. This can give our local animators a chance to further develop the concept further than leaving it to foreigners who has actually corrupted the feel and look of Kampong Boy since they have no inkling of our ways and culture. Whatever it is, such a theme park should be throughly supported not only for the sake of our national heritage, but also economically as if it is done right and attracts loads of not only local but foreign visitors, think of how much foreign licensing fees we would save and the receipts we would instead receive.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Nothing Begets Success Like Success

After hitting a collection of five million ringgit with Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula movie and possibly on the way to the number 1 Malaysian film box-office status of all time despite facing cuts in screen time, I am glad to read in the newspaper and their blog that Les Copaque has secured financing for their planned second movie, Upin & Ipin - The Movie. Yes folks, the characters who originally started life as supporting characters in the Geng movie before being spinned off to far greater success as cartoon shorts headliners that became the premier draw for Les Copaque finally get their own movie. This is despite the common perception that Geng WAS the Upin & Movie despite several clarifications by the producers.

Les Copaque's Mohd Nizam Abdul Razak stated in Berita Minggu last week that they have begun planning for the movie with shooting to start in 2010, with discussions on the storyline and the film script started. In addition to the movie while waiting for it to hit the big screen, Upin & Ipin fans can feast their eyes on 42 new episodes for free television series whose commencement will be officially announced soon. Whether these would be full 30 minutes episodes or still short snippets is anyone's guess at the moment. What storyline these new series or even the movie itself would take is still open to conjecture, as the last six episodes of Upin&Ipin has taken a more scientific tone rather than religious instruction of the first two seasons appropriate for their screening during the fasting month, being repackaged into a new Upin &Ipin and friends series. We would all just have to wait and see eh when the series and movie comes out. Just be grateful that the successes of Upin & Ipin and Geng the movies has firmly placed this production house on solid ground to take local animation to higher heights, and hopefully fire up the other local production houses to follow suit. We have many successful local cartoons on tv already, let more of them jump onto the big screen. I too want to see other production houses like Lensa Film's Kacang on the big screen. Upin & Ipin has shown the way.

Post Script : Announcement in Malay about Upin & Ipin The Movie appearing in Berita Harian Dated 18 March 2008

Katanya, keputusan itu dibuat kerana menerima pandangan daripada orang ramai yang tertarik dengan karakter dua budak kembar itu. Malahan dengan garapan yang lebih kemas, pihaknya yakin filem animasi kedua mereka menjadi karya menarik dan cantik. Ketika ini, proses awal persiapan untuk pembikinan Upin & Ipin The Movie sedang giat dilakukan. Ia dijangka mengambil masa setahun untuk disiapkan dan mereka berharap dapat ditayangkan kepada orang ramai pada penghujung tahun 2010.

“Kita mengambil kira pandangan orang ramai termasuk media yang membuat ulasan daripada filem Geng. Ramai yang menyatakan watak Upin dan Ipin dalam filem Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula... terlalu sedikit membuatkan penonton tidak puas menyaksikan telatah mereka. “Buat masa ini kita juga masih dalam peringkat perancangan awal untuk menghasilkan jalan cerita yang lebih menumpukan kepada watak Upin dan Ipin bersama rakannya di sekolah tadika. “Kita juga meramalkan filem animasi kedua ini lebih cepat daripada filem pertama lalu disebabkan segala kelengkapan bagi menghasilkan animasi dan beberapa karakter sudah ada. Cuma kita harus menghasilkan beberapa karakter lagi untuk menguatkan jalan ceritanya,” kata Mohd Anas ketika dihubungi Hip, baru-baru ini. Beliau berkata, pihaknya menjangkakan filem itu yang akan disiapkan dalam tempoh 12 bulan berbanding hampir 48 bulan untuk menyiapkan filem Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula. Selain itu, dengan kelengkapan yang sudah ada, kos penerbitannya juga dianggarkan lebih rendah.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The Original TV Nerd Hero

I have read articles before on how now is the time for the nerds to get their revenge when geeky nerdy guys now frontline as heroes in their own TV series, supposedly spearheaded by the reluctant secret agent Chuck. The fact is I remember growing up watching late night screenings on RTM of a pathologist solving homicide cases, Quincy M.E. The series must have been very good as I made the extra effort to stay awake to watch a nerdy doc solve cases that crosses his examination table. This was in the eighties mind you when TV3 has yet to come to my Ipoh hometown, and Quincy M.E was really a cutting edge series in a TV detective world that consisted of heroic type gumshoes, even for an anti-hero character like the title character in Rockford Files. So even though you are brought into an alien world of investigative science to finger the criminal, you are kept enthralled by the wonder of science being opened up to you when it is used to investigate the crime. I bet this series had created a whole new generation of CSIs everywhere, though then Medical Examiners took the leading role instead of staying in the background like in the CSI series. Nevermind that the new crop of M.E.'s helmed series like Bones and Crossing Jordan feature a more gungho examiner, and heroines at that.

Well what do you expect from these copycats of CSI when other than the original Gil Grissom who studies bugs as a hobby, the parallel CSI series leads are respectively an ex-war hero and ex-undercover cop. Only the Gil Grissom character has managed to maintain a geeky profile despite being given an edge to his geeky persona, and I have yet to see him fire a gun. His main weapon is still his brains, and that is the essence of a heroic nerd. And that is why I am drawn to continue to watch House MD, who uses his observations(usually fortuitous) to come up with the life-saving prescriptions, though he has hit his patients before in order to verify his conclusions. Dr House is not only a geek, but an insular geek that nonetheless enjoys some hotdog lifestyle of riding a sports motorbike and playing a mean guitar or, air guitar with his cane at his office. That to me is the essence of the modern geek, brainy but also knows how to get with it if he wants to. So Chuck my boyo, sorry but to me you are just a softie who tries to play the hero using that world knowledge database that we are expected to believe you downloaded into your brain, just like the old TV series "The Greatest American Hero who got his powers from an alien suit and is not a real geek or nerd who actually has the brains to figure out things on their own. So seriously folks, do try to separate the patsy softie from the geek or nerd, as the geeks and nerds have actually been always heroes in their own right who has managed to solve the myriad world problems and in the course of doing that, changed the world accordingly. You know who they are, whether you like them or otherwise, eitther its Bill Gates or somebody else. And these are the people who were watching Quincy when he was giving geekdom respectablity that time not so long ago.

So What Is Press Freedom?

As there has been a lot of hubris written in the media and by extension blogs too under the ubiquitous banner of press freedom, including outright slander hiding under the Internet anonymity, it is quite refreshing to read a journalist writing on what press freedom is in this article from The Star. I however would just like to make a summary of the article on the important points to ponder about what press freedom is all about, hopefully it will open people's mind when they read what is written either in print or electronically.

In light of recent Malaysian headlines – some voyeuristic, some hypocritical - why some non-issues make the news and why other pressing matters like the recession, are relegated to the second rung.Obviously perversion sells. While for the most part you have to keep an open mind about it, it is difficult sometimes to accept that all reports – including those that have no relevance whatsoever to anyone else except the affected individual – are an exercise in press freedom.

A fair and realistic definition of press freedom by Heribert Prantl who heads the national desk of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung (Germany’s largest broadsheet daily) who described it as “... a mighty river … in which not everything that floats in it is clean and not everything which drifts along it is precious.” He added that press freedom “carries valuable and worthless articles, decent and offensive photos, boring and provocative caricatures; and it must also put up with journalists who do not behave in the way one would like someone to behave who claims to be exercising a basic right”.

The German media had vehemently opposed the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) on the invasion of privacy of public figures who ruled “The public had no legitimate interest in knowing where sic"a celebrity" goes on vacations or what she does in her private life.” In other words, “Don’t be so sibuk lah!” Yet, the press countered with an equally valid point. If their right to report on public figures were fettered, they would be unable to highlight how public figures behave, who their business contacts are or who pays for their holidays. (Random examples that come to mind include lawyers holidaying with judges or government officials photographed with shady people). I am all for this argument. For by being such kepoh, incredible scandals have been unearthed.

Yet following the “mighty river” allegory, besides playing check and balance or speculating how some celebrities balance their cheques, there are also “driftwood stories". So, perhaps news is what we each make of it. For as a reader, I have the choice of skipping stories that might be offensive to me or I could read them to get an opposing perspective. I can follow-up on stories that could affect me as an individual, citizen or consumer and I can skim over pieces that either make me go “aww” or “eww”.

But the potent combination of press freedom and the latent sibuk within most of us means there will always be news – good, bad and ugly. Although given this new voyeurism in Malaysia, it now also helps to do all you can to stay out of the news. But if, however, you are unfortunate enough to have come under the media spotlight simply by being at the wrong place at the wrong time with an absolutely wrong person, it might help to adopt Mrs Merkel’s, the German Chancellor's stance when facing such poppycock reporting.

Ignore the drivel and get on with business. And create news.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

A Classic Case Of Armed Forces Procurement

Many local defence forums and even defence blogs lament the dearth of defence purchases in Malaysia, worried that our armed forces are not duly armed and capable to meet any possible threats that the nation may face. They nonetheless seem to forget that not all such arms purchases can be announced as a matter of national security, and many who are actually in the know will never disclose such purchases unless given the go-ahead by the highest echelon of the military and the government. Thus it does not came as a surprise to me that the Malaysian Army has announced as per the following article that they will receive a regiment of Astros MLRS II by the end of this year, a purchase many did not suspect or knew about before this. Thus my reminder is simple, have faith in our armed forces as they are professionals, even though they seem to be a favourite target of allegations by our politikus and pundits.

Monday March 2, 2009
Army to get rocket launchers

KUALA LUMPUR: The Royal Malaysian Army will receive 18 multiple rocket launchers – the Astros II – by the end of the year.
Artillery officers were undergoing operational training, said Army Chief Jen Tan Sri Muhammad Ismail Jamaluddin after launching the army’s 76th anniversary celebrations at Kem Perdana Sungai Besi yesterday.
The Astros II were purchased from Avibras Industria Aerospacial International Ltd of Brazil in 2006. The deal was signed by then Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for about RM27mil.

Whatever it is, we should be able to do a more effective saturation firing with the receipt of the second Astros Regiment like shown above after this. So adversaries beware!

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Roti Paun Of Cherating

It was in May of 2007 when I first reminisced about roti paun or filled buns that was made by an old man using traditional methods, that is baked using a wood fire oven located by the main road of Cherating that I somehow could not locate again since then. That was a great loss to me as the old man's buns were the softest buns I had tasted for a long time, with fillings that were generous with both taste and authenticity. I am glad to say however that recently while on the road with my driver on the way back from a business meeting, I managed to relocate the old man's house which has seen some renovations, possibly the reason why I missed it before though the hut that passes for the bakery is still as ramshackled as ever. Nonetheless if you see a hut with rows and rows of buns on a wooden table while you are on the Cherating main road, you are on the right track as I am sure you will not even notice the sign board at the back of the hut proclaiming the hut as the roti poun bakery. At least it is still better than the old piece of black board that passed as a signboard the hut had before. I also found out that their roti paun are now sold at local bakery in Kuantan Town at a premium of twenty cents, while it is still sold at a ringgit at the stall though if memory serves me correctly, the buns themselves has lost a row of two buns since then. Nonetheless they are still filled with the most delicious red bean paste and coconut fillings in addition to plain buns, though they are now stingy with the home made kaya I guess due to its high cost. I am sorry the photo I took of the address was blur, but I can tell you that the bakery is located at 23rd mile Kampung Cherating Baru, after the Agriculture Centre if you are coming from Kuantan. Keep a watch to your left for the bakery or you will miss it.

But I must remind you that the bakery only operates in the evenings so if you want fresh baked buns, you must make the extra effort to be there in the afternoon otherwise you will miss out. And what a bakery it is, only using coconut husks as the fuel that gives the buns a nice soft feel. Look at the photos here if you do not believe this, as you can see the buns are actually baked in a metal container that has burning coconut husks on top that basically blackens only the top leaving the bottom part of the bun to cook to a soft texture. The photos shows a baking process of old that requires hard work and time to cook the perfect bun, and I say again here I do not know how long this bakery will last before time engulfs it in the mists of memory. I personally hope to make a return journey soon, but this time I will only buy the red beans, coconut and plain buns, as I can have my own kaya filled buns with the home made kaya from the area. I would also suggest that you also make your way there if you want a taste of the softest buns that you can get anywhere.

Chewy Junior ! So Adorable!

What do you get when you cross a jelly donut and a cream puff? My answer would be Chewy Junior, a new cream puff joint located next to the more famous cream puff purveyor Bearded Papa in Pavillion KL that we accidentally found when we wanted to purchase some snacks to fortify us after the early dinner we had after watching the movies yesterday. They were offering samples that captured the younger daughter's passion for creamy filled chocolate pastries that after comparing the promotion between the two cream puff stand, we decided to give Chewy Junior a try as they were offering a dozen pieces at the price of six pieces, a savings of seventeen ringgit until 9th March. So off we went home with a box of six chocolate covered cream puffs while the other box contained six jelly puffs, that contained chocolate madness, double chocolate crunch and chocolate oreo crunch in the chocolate box while the jelly box had the strawberry dream, strawberry cheese, apple delight, apple cheese and lemon crunch. Mind you these cream puffs are actually quite chewy and reminiscent of a chewy donut actually, so my question in the opening of this post is quite valid actually.

The chocolate versions actually had chocolate cream filling while the jelly tops had a vanilla cream filling instead. I had only a small taste of the chocolate puffs as the kids were fighting over them and I must say the chocolate glaze tasted excellent, better than some of the choc glazed donuts that seems to be the craze nowadays. The cream filling was also delicious, not overpowering with a cocoa taste as the chocolate glaze was chocolaty itself. Meanwhile the jelly tops offered real fruits in jelly, so you get actual cuttings of apple or strawberry preserves as the toppings. For something less sweet, I recommend the lemon crunch as it gave piquant contrast to the creamy filling. For non cheese lovers, please do not fear the creamy cheese as it actually tasted more like whipped cream than cheese, and does not distract from the cream filling. Therefore I can actually pronounce that these cream puffs are really delicious and I have decided to use photos from Chewy Junior's website to give justice to the puffs. I was surprised to find that Chewy Junior is a Singapore creation with only five outlets in Singapore itself, but they are slowly expanding overseas with their first outlets in Malaysia and Indonesia. In addition, I noticed that their original menu also offers savoury puffs and mini puffs, but I guess they did not want to get halal certifications yet for the savoury fillings and still testing the market so still unable to offer the mini puffs, especially since even some sweet flavours are also not available yet. Whatever it is, I wish them well in their venture in Malaysia, as my options for cream puffs has just widened further as when compared to my complaints in my earliest blogs not that long ago.