Monday, May 31, 2010

Kira Oklah Tu....

At one time the Malays were criticized for their 'tidak apa' attitude or 'tidapathy'. Whenever an issue was raised to them or a complaint was made to someone, the most probable answer one would get could be: "Tak apalah, nanti kita tengok dulu. (Never mind. We'll look at it first)." The 'tidapathy' attitude was stipulated to be the cause of the Malays being left behind in the race for economic wellbeing and progress.

That attitude does not seem to be prevalent now although once in a while, you can still hear its echo. What I most often here nowadays is: "Oklah tu!" It means everything is quite all right and you don't have to worry. On the one hand this could be a sign of being a good Muslim who accepts everything that Allah ordains or bequeaths unto him. with a sense of gratefulness and reverence (redha). On the other hand it could be an attitude of dismissing a problem or an issue without bothering to understand it in more details or an indisposition to do anything more about it. If a set goal of achieving 30% equity participation could not be attained and only some 19% was achieved, "Oklah tu!". If Barisan Nasional could not get an 80% majority in Parliament and lost five States, "Oklah tu, It's still the party that forms the government." If Bahasa Malaysia is still not as widely used at the official level as English, "Oklah tu, English is an international language." If illegal logging and dredging sand from the river still continue despite public knowledge of the matter, "Oklah tu, we still have a lot of forest land and a lot of sand in the river." If corruption still goes on in spite of the declared all-out- war against it by government, "Oklah tu, many have already been booked."

Dismissing something as not important or serious when a matter is brought to one's attention can be a very frustrating experience for the person who brought up the issue. It either means that the person who is supposed to examine the matter does not see its significance or he is unwilling to recognize its importance and act on it immediately. Or he's negating its significance for some other unknown reasons. Such act of negation when it happens at a personal level is quite okay. But when it happens at a national level, when very important and pressing national issues are just waived aside or put in the cold storage or swept under the carpet, it can cause one to panic.

Taking stock of the issues that Malaysia faces today, the "Oklah tu." attitude can be most exasperating. We see Karam Singh Walia on TV saying: " Sudah sepuluh tahun isu curi pasir ini saya timbulkan tapi ia masih berleluasa." The problem of discarding new-born babies seems to be increasing in seriousness without any in-depth study being done to find its root cause, in favour of throwing general allegations that the youths of today are not well-grounded in the teachings of their religion, especially Islam. What about the difficulties caused by the religious department for young people to get married, the rising costs in holding a marriage ceremony, and the stringent actions taken on couples showing their affection in the public thus causing them to choose the darker corners of the streets, gardens or bushes. On the issue of GLS loosing billions of ringgit due to poor management of subtle pilferage, why aren't those responsible being immediately taken to task? We're happy with just: 'Oklah, we'll investigate." On the huge debt (RM362 B) and financial deficit problem (RM47 B) facing the country, the simple solution proposed is: "Oklah, we cut the subsidy which amounts to RM74B) a year." Won't that cause the price of consumer goods to spiral up? "Nolah. If it does it won't be by so much. By 10, 20 sen Oklah tu." What does Bank Negara say about this? " ,,any rise in consumer prices will be modest and therefore not a major factor for the country's interest rate policy," Will it not cause an inflation? "The Malaysian central bank is not an inflation-targeting central bank, and therefore. we will look at what are the other risks to inflation and growth,"

This is more like saying" Oklah. We'll look at it if it comes up and affects the economic growth of the country."

A recent occurrence that is most shocking is the death of a PTD trainee as a result of the very intensive commando style part of the compulsory training program. One can say: "Oklah tu, only one casualty out of so many trainees involved." That has been said in the many cases of casualties involving the National Service trainees.The question is: must the training be so tough as if the trainees are to become as tough as the regular soldiers or, worse still, the commandoes? The regulars are conditioned over a period of time while the PTD and National Service trainees will only be trained for a couple of months. The obvious response we will get to these questions will be: "Oklah, we'll investigate and revenue the training courses." And the public will say: "Oklah tu."

I think the time has come when we have to say there's no more "Oklah tu!" Each issue will have to be immediately investigated and the remedy found. If nothing happens to show that the remedy is taking effect or the result is only minimal, there's no "Oklah tu." A new remedy must be found by a new set of people. The "Oklah tu" of old must go. Otherwise we'll be forever saying "Oklah tu" to excuse ourselves for not being real gung ho about getting things done.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Anger Management....

We've heard talks, see on TV and probably read a lot of articles and even books on anger management. It is one of the in things to keep our sanity intact and the level of tension on our neuro-psychological system under control. People with hypertension should not only learn to control their anger but must take some medication to ensure that his or her blood pressure doesn't at times go ballistic.

Controlling anger is one thing. Understanding the cause of it is another. Sometimes we know why we get angry. Sometimes we don't. We just feel like shouting at something that goes against our wish or expectation, at things that do not go the way WE WANT them to. As an observer we sometimes feel surprised and even angry when we see someone bursting into a fit of temper for no apparent or (to us) conceivable reason. If we asked the person concerned and he's in a good enough mood to reply, the reason he or she gives could be so trifling or even amusing. It shoild cause laughter NOT anger.
"Why are you so angry with your daughter? I asked a neighbor one day with a big smile so that my intention would not be misunderstood and I don't get a reply such as, "Mind your own business" or " That's none of your concern!" She was grumbling and shouting at her on the top of her voice.
"I told her so many times not to buy food from the school canteen and she continues to do it." I was already laughing to myself internally. For that reason you have to raise hell with her? I asked myself, not courageous enough to ask her.
"If she can't buy food from the canteen, then where can she get something to eat or drink when she gets hungry or thirsty? Surely the food from the canteen cannot be that bad. So many school children buy their food and drinks from there." Having said that I felt quite worried. Sshe now had a reason to ask me to shut up and mind my own business.
" The food there is not that clean. Some children had gotten sick after eating some food from the canteen."
" Then where can she get her food and drinks from?"
" I've already provided her with a lunch packet and some drinks!"
" But children like to eat and drinks with their friends at the canteen?"
" Then go la and eat there, but eat the food that I prepared." There was a strong emphasis on the word "I".

That's always the central them in any outburst of anger. The "I" had been hurt, neglected or not given due respect and obeisance. It's always the "I" which has been rubbed wrongly, scratched or rudely transgressed. The incident that triggers the anger is not that important and the details are sometimes not even known. Sometimes more of it is imagined or just suspected.
Like the wife who suspects that her husband is up to some tomfoolery or mischievous diversion. The fact that he is late for some appointment or is not where he was supposed to be as expected, would be enough to kindle a bondfire. It doesn't matter what or how he explained the situation. The wife would only believe what she wanted to believe. And nothing can be done to stop the fire from crackling until it dies down on its own. Just don't fan it further.

I gave this preamble to help understand some of the anger, vitriolic criticisms and vilification of certain parties - the government , the opposition or just some members of society - that we read in the blog-sphere. The language used can be very cantankerous, abusive, insulting or downright slanderous. But the reason given for feeling so is either so frivolous, a recast of the stock criticism already made by the public or a certain segment of the community towards another, a mere ranting to lighten up some burden of the soul, or projecting a long-suppressed hatred or prejudice which time had failed to

If one cares to examine the cause of the anger, cooly and objectively, use more logic than emotions. and be ready to give the benefit of the doubt to the party that has triggered the anger, the internal turmoil would resolve itself without giving vent to
abusive and insulting language spewed into cyberspace. We might than have more room for discussions and exchange of views and interests, resolve some of the difference in values and preferences, and jointly seek the changes that we want in society by expressing our hopes and expectations of the government, or those people who have failed us. Today, even big dignitaries and the YBs have their own blogs and fbs. If they do read the entries of other people beside that of their own friends, the more sober and factually logical ones would certainly receive the attention they deserve. Irresponsible rantings and emotional explosions would not, of course, attract their attention. They can only serve the purpose of letting of steam for your own personal satisfaction.

So, can we all check back on the dark reservoir of pent up anger that sometimes looms its head in our blogsphere? Unless pouring such anger out is considered as a very satisfying pastime, let's examine the causes of the anger and see if they are based on real or imaginary premises. That calls for a self-devised and imposed anger management therapy which may help our society and the nation to progress on a more even keel.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Colours of Malaysia 2010 - Fantasy Parade

The night of Saturday, May 22, exploded the Merdeka Square in KL with rainbow colours, magical sights and heart-thumping sounds. Thousands upon thousands of dancers and artists, excited people and dignitaries thronged and lined up the streets in front of the Sultan Samad Building. all along Jalan Raja Laut, Jalan Isfahan, and Jln Tunku Abdul Rahman, while thousands of officials guests filled up the chairs under two covered stands. KL saw the biggest musical and dancing parade ever, earning its way into the Malaysian Book of Records. See pic.

RTM covered the whole show live and commenting on the festive extravaganza here seems superfluous. A picture of the RTM crew operating a boom camera suffices, therefore, to show that the cameramen were everywhere including on the street among the dancers. I saw one caught in a ring of dancers and struggling to get out.

A definite highlight towards the closure of the show was the 5,500 strong Dikir Barat presentation, the biggest syncronized singing group ever staged. Seated guests stood up and swayed their hips unconsciously in rhythm with the Dikir or spirited song. I caught the back of one, holding a camera.

The music, dances and songs of all racial denominations in Malaysia with Sabah and Sarawak stealing the show through their most original presentation. The fireworks bursting and lighting up the sky in rhythm with the Dikir Bart presentation would put the Merdeka celebration firework to shame. The Joget Lambak which began after the Yang diPertuan Agong and his Consort left the premise accompanied by a thunderous applause and a sea of weaving hands, was so animated that the Minister of Tourism. YB Dato" Seri Dr. Ng Yen Yen, extended the joget many times, herself dancing like a pro with the group on stage.

It was a most memorable night. Any festive presentation in the future will have a tough time to beat last night's show. Congratulations to the organizers.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bad English Some More..

The above title itself is an example of Malaysian English, a very commonly used expression, similar to , "He talk bad about me some more.. He need some more money, ah?" Even the verb used is wrong. Should be with an 's' (talks, needs). Why? "I talk, you talk, he talks, she talks, it talks (if it can), they talk, we talk," etc. Make that a habit for if you have to remember the grammatical rules, chances are you may forget.

"Long way to mastery (of the English Language)" was the big, bold heading of the NST Letters to the Editor's page ( p.18) on Friday May 21. It follows from Dr M.A Nair's complain ( NST May 19) about the bad English used in a school examination paper. The three letters published endorsed the complain, emphasizing that the ambiguities in the examination paper was not due to a lack of supervision by superiors but possibly to the inadequate mastery of the English language by the superiors who did the checking, themselves.

I do not have to give more examples of the bad English used by some Malaysians, including teachers and even lecturers and professors ( trained in the Malay medium). I've alluded to this in my earlier blogs "Common Errors in Malaysian English" and Improving Your English - Checklist to avoid common mistakes" dated May 17 , click here . What is necessary now is not to continue lamenting the fact but to immediately check the deterioration in the standard of English used by all Malaysians, especially teachers.

The mistakes are normally simple grammatical errors. often due to negligence or a habitual wrong usage of verbs and other parts of speech. Simple mistakes but most glaring and possibly making the meaning of a sentence vague or confusing. A good example is saying, " He works hardly" instead of "He works hard" or "He talks big" instead of "He is a big talker." Aside from the simple grammatical mistake is the attempt to use long, complex sentences, or difficult words in order to sound erudite.
For example: " In trying to justify his mistakes he quoted the views of several authorities which had been involved in the matter before him and the various ways they tried to avoid what has been suggested to him as a way of extricating himself from the problem." It will take a lot of of time for a reader to absorb the meaning of the sentence and ascertain its grammatical

Dr C. Rawcliff, a Headmaster in the school where I studied before and who taught us English, gave us some techniques for minimizing grammatical errors and making other mistakes in our conversation or writing. In a school where at that time very few students could get even a strong Credit (C3) for English in their Form V examination (School Certificate Examination), the class of thirty five under him obtained fifteen "As" ( Distinctions). Four students knew almost all the words in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary by heart, including words like "laudatatemporesacti" and "argumentumadhominum". For those who are interested in big words, the longest word in English could be "floccinaucinihilipilification" meaning trifle or nothing!

The prescriptions were simple:

(1) Use simple sentences with only one or two verbs so that you can easily check whether the tense is correct. The test is always: I sit, you sit, he sits, she sits, they sit, we sit etc.(Present tense); is sitting ( present continuous), I have sat, he has sat, they have sat etc, he has done, we have done, etc ( past perfect) and so on.(Check previous entries mentioned above).

(2) If you have a long sentence, break it up into several sentences so that you can check the correctness of each. The complex sentence quoted above, for example, can be simplified as follows:" The man tried to justify his mistakes. He quoted several authorities involved in such matters. He pointed out how they solved the problem. He stressed that none followed the way suggested to him."

(3) Don't use difficult (multi-syllable) words until you have mastered its usage together with the correct preposition. Eg. " The
ignominy with losing the battle was well known." It should be " The ignominy of..."

(4) See that your verbs stick to the same tense. "He has gone to school. He carried with him all his books. He was afraid of being late." You can't suddenly add: "He stops for a drink at a shop ( Present tense). " He has gone" is okay for you're describing what he has just done. "He had gone" would refer to something done long ago. ("He has went..", is wrong. So also "He has measure..." It should be "He has measured" - past perfect tense).

(5) Make sure your write complete sentences, not just a phrase or a clause. " I'm going.." is incomplete unless it is an answer to an instruction like, "Go!". I'm going" , is okay because "as instructed" is understood. "I like.." is not a complete sentence though often used. " I like the way you dress", is okay.

(6) When in doubt make a simple sentence with the same structure as the one you're checking. Eg: I have not finish or finished my work? Ask yourself: I have not 'sit' or 'sat' on that chair. " I have not 'eat', 'ate' or 'eaten'? Remember some past perfect tense of a word is the same as the past tense. The past perfect tense of 'sit' is 'sat'.

If you follow the simple practices as suggested above, chances are that you'll improve your English immediately. There is no need to go back to school or attend a refresher course, especially for experienced teachers who should be able to correct themselves given the proper guidelines. Getting teachers from UK and other English speaking countries to teach our students and teachers, is redoing what has been done during colonial times. Improving you mastery of English is a matter of practice and reading.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Walking Down Memory Lane on a Rainy Day

I was all geared up for an evening walk today (Wed. may 18) when it started raining cats and dogs. How did the English people come up with such a saying? Were they attracted by the sound of cats and dogs quarreling and fighting each other or by their rush for shelter when it started to rain. Surely you don't see cats and dogs flying down through the air when it starts to pour. It sounds ludicrous but such ludicrous sayings are the things that live through the ages: things like drop-dead beautiful, straight as an arrow ( the arrow maybe but the flight is a curve), dead as a door nail ( is there nothing else more dead. like a piece of rock?).

So what do you do when alone in the house and its pouring? I start walking..down memory lane. It was on a rainy evening like this when, as a boy living in a village-house by the roadside, I saw a car flying off a corner and landing in an irrigation drainage down the hill. I stood transfixed, realizing how dangerous the ideal means of transport that I dreamt of owning one day could be. Other cars and lorries stopped to help the injured and take them to hospital. I didn't know whether they were dead or alive and found no courage to go and ask the big crowd that gathered there.

On a wet day like this the villagers returning home from work or buying some households need in the shophouses down the road,often stopped to escape the downpours. Some who knew me well did not hesitate to come in and have a chit-chat. Others preferred to wait under the little porch to protect the wooden steps from rain and shine. That was my information exchange center, the place and time to get the hot news in the village. Who married who, which boy was pursuing which girl, the young wives who have gotten themselves pregnant, the local political leaders who were beautifying their houses, buying a new car, or marrying a new wife, who was quarelling with whom etc. That was the social happenings that people care about. There was more jokes and laughter than factual updates.

Sometimes I was caught by the rain in my relative's house. The old man of the house would occupy his time by doing some
rattan on bamboo weaving work to build cages and baskets. Or making ataps from rumbia leaves. We talked as he worked and while he taught me about religion and customs, I informed him of the little that i know about science which I have studied in school. " Western people are trying to go to the moon, Atuk (grandpa). How? They make rockets, that fly thousands of time faster that the aeroplane." He laughed. " You know? Prophet Muhammad went to the seventh level of heaven without an aeroplane or rocket." I interjected. "That was with Allah's help. He won't help human mortals like us to do that." A quick reply.
"He won't help us do what He doesn't want us to do. Otherwise He will." In one house, halfway talking to the old man in the house, I would be focusing my attention on the door to the inside of the house. Usually a sweet young girl.Aminah,would be
waiting to....bring us some hot drinks.

It was during such rainy spells, be it morning, afternoon, evening or night that I could really focus on my studies. The sound of the raindrops drumming on the zinc roof helped me to drum in the things that I read about into my thick head and blocked away all other disturbances and distractions. Recalling the occasion would help me recall the facts that I gathered. When I was doing my studies in the United States, it was always the rainy and cold, cold nights that helped me write a chapter or two of my dissertation. White snow in the moonlight always made me dreamy, in the mood for writing short stories and fiction, not the hard factual stuff that you need for your dissertation.

Back here in Malaysia if it rains in the morning the rubber smallholders will of course be most unhappy while fishermen in the coastal areas will also be afraid of going to the sea especially when lightenings and thunder threaten the sky and herald a storm. Rain in the day also hampers work for the buiders and field workers. But those working in the safe haven of the office couldn't be bothered in the least except that they might get a little droopy. Elsewhere in the open country the birds and the furry critters would not be hampered from enjoying themselves.

Yea, the folks complain and curse when it rains and rains. They also complain when the sun keeps shining very bright heating up the day to perspiration. One can imagine Allah shaking his head and saying, "Human beings! I give them rain they complain and curse. I give them sunshine and they also complain and curse. Yes, they're never thankful."

I stirred at my desk facing the window, about to lament the fact that I missed my evening walk. Hearing the words that formed in my head as above, I smiled and thanked Allah for the rain and this little entry in my blog. Hehehe. Rain is a blessing as well as sunshine. I missed my evening walk but Allah gave me something else more meaningful to do.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Evening Walk....

A morning or evening walk when done in good health is just a walk, a good physical exercise. But a slow evening walk around the residential area where you lived, undertaken when some nerves or muscles are giving you a problem, is a physical, spiritual and therapeutic experience.

Today is the fourth day that I did the rounds, increasing it everyday by a few stretches of roads and rows of houses. See pic showing the area where I started my walk (click pic to enlarge).

I also went out quite early today at about 5.45pm. and met a number of people. Some very familiar faces driving home in their cars while others I couldn't quite place. Yet a few I met at close range for the first time, saying "hello" and exchanging smiles. One Indian gentleman was also taking a walk doing it faster and more briskly than me and thereby overtaking me at a long stretch of road in Taman Melawati. We talked awhile but did not get to exchanging names. We met again today and just managed to exchange smiles and a wave of the hands as if we've known each other for years. See pic showing Datuk Yusof Haslam's residence on the hillside around which I passed (click pic to enlarge).

I had a lot of fears about the possible slip disc and the damages to the nerves that the doctor suspects. But the walks made me feel much better, especially in the left foot which often goes numb. My late father had the same problem. It turned out to be a leukemia of the bone which required him to undergo a chemotherapy. I hoped that I won't be suffering from the same. I was deep in thought about it when I saw a old friend walking from the opposite direction but taking the same side of the road. He looked frail and weak.
"Hey, what's up. I haven't seen you for quite a while.." We shook hand weakly for I too was tired.
"I'm sick, I've the big C," he responded in quick,soft gasps. He looked at me pathetically and I was at a loss for words. How could he be stricken with the malady when he had looked so hail and hearty to me before. And full of zest for life and humor too.
"Don't take it too bad for verily all our lives are in His hand," I mumbled searching for the right words to say. " If He says that we should go today or tomorrow. nothing can stop it. You know one of our Imams, Ustaz Hussin. who used to stay around here but had moved to a new residence since he became the Chief Judge of the Syariah Court?" He nodded weakly. "He looks so healthy and well, yet he had a stroke recently and is now in a coma. Even the healthiest of persons can suddenly fall ill and only Allah can decide whether he or she can stay or must go."
"You're right, " he replied with a little smile on his face. That was enough to make my day. When I continued my walk for the rest of the evening I did not feel any pain at all in my left foot. Even the numbness had somehow disappeared, until I was home again and sat down to rest. It slowly came back as I stopped thinking about my friend's misfortune and started to nurse the ailing foot, realizing full well that it was nothing compared to the mental torture my old friend must be nursing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Westside Story

I missed the film and I had always wanted to see this famous show. Today, out of the blue I got an invitation to see it at Balai Budaya and in spite of a bad left leg ( it seems that a swelling in my thigh hits my nerves sending sparks throughout my left limb and making my left foot numb and painful), I still ventured out.

The show is fantastic if you're into dances, songs and music. But you've to read the synopsis of the play first to really understand and appreciate the story as portrayed through the songs and dances with minimal theatrics or acting. I didn't have time to read the synopsis but I think I got about 85% of the story right, as confirmed later when I did the reading at home.

Perhaps I shouldn't tell it out so that those who are going to see the show later will not be deprived of the guessing game that makes a stage show more interesting. But the story has been told many times, so let me touch a little on the plot. Two gangs, the jets and the Sharks were fighting for dominance in New York's upper Westside, the jets being Americans with Polish roots while the Sharks were Puerto Rican immigrants. They clashed and their leaders, Riff and Bernado agreed to a duel. Tony, a friend of Riff who worked at a Drugstore triedd to stop the fight. At a dance Tony met Maria, Bernado's sister who had just arrived in US, and fell in love at first sight with her. The duel which turned out to be a free-for-all ended as a knife-fight and Riff was killed. Tony, grieving over his friends death killed Bernado, his lovers brother. What happens had better watch the show.

Well, I could not stop to admire the beautiful physics of the male actors and dancers, real hunkies yet so subtle and perfect in their dance movements. The ladies were of course superb ballet dancers and suprano singers. Local productions performed by our local artists have also reached a respectable standard nowadays. But the physics of the actors, with the exception of Awie perhaps, leaves a lot of room for improvement. As for the dances, local production seems to me still wanting in synchronization of intricate movements when dancing in a big group. The vocals in the Westside Story production was to say the least amazing.

Well, I really enjoyed it although the kissing and the bed scene might not have been too comforting to local audience,especially when Tony really got off the bed with Maria, in his underpants.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Getting in touch with humanity.....

When life is kind to us and everything goes on well, we tend to take everything for granted. All worldly difficulties can be solved, given enough time and effort. But the moment something goes wrong with you physically, not just having a cold or a slight headache, your perspective of life and humanity begins to change.

That's how I felt when my left leg suddenly became numb, with all the muscles pulling and stretching at my thigh, calf and the sole of my left foot as if trying to burst open. Don't know what is the cause although Dr Ganesan at the family clinic said it could be due to a slip disc which had hit on some nerves. Some friends said that even if that was true it could not be a severe one for the pain was not so terrible. A severe slip disc would cause a constant jabbing pain as if a knife is being driven through you. God forbid. Nevertheless the tightness around my left foot is so severe that it disturbs everything I do and walking becomes a torture.

I have already seen two traditional masseurs to give my left leg a good massage. After seeing them about four times without any palpable improvement, my wife took me to the Orthopedic Division of Ampang Putri to undergo a thorough check-up. The last time I was there was to undergo a by-pass operation. That was almost two years ago.

Going to a hospital as a patient is always a traumatic experience for me. The moment I see people with all sorts of ailments and sufferings, Ifind myself so helpless and unworthy before God, and feeling that the healthy people in the world really don't know how blessed they are. I see the sick and incapacitated as humanity at its lowest level of wellbeing and whatever my own suffering was I felt that God was kinder to me than most of the patients that I see. Some were bed-ridden, some moving about in wheelchairs or with the help of a four-stump walking stick, with a hand or almost half the body hanging loose and lifeless.
It's a most sobering experience, especially when you go in as a patient yourself.

I had to undergo all the tests including an xray of my vertebrae and pelvic zone. I was next sent for physical therapy and from the moment you go into the treatment room, you feel like an invalid although you're not. I thought I would be given a massage but it was a machine with tentacles that were attached to my back and my calves. The machine heats up those areas for 15 minutes, sending waves of electrical energy with some seven variations of intensity and and rate of pulsation. God, I felt like I was being roasted although I refused to ring a bell and call for some adjustment. If that was the treatment that could dispel my discomfort, I had to take the ordeal. Then the same spots were treated with some cold vapors or ointment. It was a welcome change from the 'roast'. The exercise I was asked to do after that which included knee-bend, knee-jerks and push-ups were a cinch to perform.

And that's it. After getting some medications as prescribed I was driven home by my wife, with my left foot, especially at the ankle and the sole of the foot feeling as thick as a leather carpet and as tight as a stretched elastic band. It felt so tight that it hurts a lot. However, the thought of those other people whom I left behind in the hospital ( and I wasn't forced to stay back) made me feel quite fortunate.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Police Casualties: A Reason to shoot first..

The special Panel set up by the Ministry of home Affairs to investigate the death of Aminulrasyid Amzah (15), has concluded that the investigation done by the police was "fair and transparent". Whatever that means is up to the Ministry to interpret but pressure to set up a Royal Comission to reinvestige the matter seems to to be building up.

One should not jump to any conclusion, especially based on emotions since the boy victim was unarmed and was not shooting at the police to justify that they were acting in self-defence. The police in a car chase must certainly be prepared for any eventuality and being slow on your gun may cost you your life. People who try to get away after the police started to trail them, are usually badhats and could very well be armed. Who would expect a 15 year old to try and out -maneuver the police?

We'll let the Ministry of Home Affairs and the government decide on the matter after acquiring all the relevant information, especially from the aggrieved party, and not just the police. What must be debated early and and a guideline given to the police is: when can they start to actually shoot when chasing any suspect? Is it after they are fired at, after a colleague has been attack or killed, or whenever the suspect's action sends a danger signal to them. Could they shoot at a suspect trying to run away after being flagged down to stop at a road block?

I suppose such decisions must be based on the crime situation in the country. If too many police personnel are getting killed in trying to apprehend a suspect without the threat of a gun, then there's reason to shoot whenever they see a danger sign. Shoot first and ask questions later. But if the crime situation and the death statistics of police personnel are not that bad, shooting should be allowed only when you see a criminal suspect waving a gun and about to use it.

Having said that what is the death statistics among police officers in Malaysia and how good or bad are they as compared to the police in other countries? I read somewhere that there were about 13 deaths this year (up to May) while there were 81 deaths in 1998 and 63 in 1999. That's pretty high compared to the Police in US which registered 61 deaths in 1998 and only 42 in 1999. UK registered only 14 deaths in 2002 while Mexico registered some 240 deaths in 2007. I could not find any statistics with regard to the Thai Police nor is there an up-to-date statistics on this issue. Statistics on the number of police officers injured are more difficult to find.

I think such statistics are very important to give the police some guidance on when they had to be trigger happy and when to draw out their guns only in the face of obvious danger. Only with such statistics can we evaluate the fairness of shooting at a suspect or suspects trying to run away in a car or a motorcycle after being ordered to stop. Otherwise you just have to follow the suspect and call on other units to block his path. With the advancement in radio technology, I don't think it's difficult for any patrol car chasing a suspect to summon help from another unit to cut him off. There is, of course, no justification at all to shoot at a suspect trying to run away if there's no shooting on his part.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sojourn in Labuan (3), Bye.

Tonight is the last night, tomorrow morning adieu. The Pesta Air concert presents Jamal Abdillah and Aliyah..A full turn-out is expected. 8 pm.

But here I am sitting in my room, thinking of what I had gained the last three days I have been here. Labuan has certainly developed but not as fast as a free port and an "Ujana Kewangan" ( Offshore Financial Center ) should. Why? As an observer I could only see for one thing that the shops are closed on Sunday, the shopping day for visitors and the free day for sailors and people working on ships. Saturday and Sunday should be the culmination of business activities for the week if Labuan is to grown into a thriving international trade and business center. The island needs more human attractions....

Hey, at 8.30 a car came to fetch me. the roads to the venue were all jam-packed. I've just returned from the concert. Nothing spectacular. Aside from the routine dance performance (see pic) Jamal and Aliyah were singing with no live band accompaniment or dancers to break the monotony.

The crowd was subdued and unexcited. The songs...heard a thousand times over the radio and tv. Too much time was taken by the award-giving ceremony to the champion fishermen of the Deep Sea Fishing Contest one of whom caught a 50kg tuna and another a 20kg baracuda. The firework was routine. YBM Raja Nongcik, the Federal Territory Minister, himself presented the awards to the winners with little or no hand-clappings from the restless audience, waiting for the show. (No pic is necessary for this routine affair).
In all the crowd of people of all ages filling the huge International Marine Sports Complex, my attention was by attracted by a sole lady worker going back and forth in front of where I sat on the side of a ladder placed against a pillar post to watch the concert from a distance. She was nonchalantly collecting the rubbish strewn about by the crowd and dumping it into a huge plastic bag. A very dedicated employee of the cleaning-up agency, certainly.(See pic).
Just after the fireworks, thunder and lightnings started to compete with the music from the concert. The wind started to blow and people began to move away. I too made a hasty retreat to my transport and hit for home at the hotel. I thought that's the end of the sojourn.

But at 10.30 pm or so, it was Karaoke time for the officers from Semenanjung involved in organizing the Pesta. Time to relax a little and I was invited to join them. I never knew that all the officers were talented singers and the karaoke room rocked with music, songs, wriggling and rocking movements (short of dancing) and laughter. It probably was the best part of the Pesta as some of the pics would show. It was a good closure for my sojourn.

Well, that seems to round up my record of the sojourn. Labuan is certainly a worthwhile place to visit and Tourism Malaysia or the Ministry of Tourism can certainly help to plan a good stay.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sojourn in Labuan (2)

Last night (1st May)I attended the Pesta Air concert at the International Marine Sports Complex.Yes it was well attended (see pics). It's

always so according to a friend for Labuanites love to see shows and hawkers and petty traders love the business they bring.Big screen were planted all over the place which helped to disperse the crowd.

Last night presented performances by local artists, dances and fashion show. A very interesting aspect was that the artists represented various villages like Kampung Sungai Berdaun, Kampung Layang-layang etc. They were good. One of them was the Village Head himself. One Latin American dance number was performed on the road in the midst of the crowd, the spot being kept secret. Everyone started looking around, searching, as the music and dance heated up. I could only manage to see the dancers' heads bopping up and down and some hefty boops in the crowd dancing along. (Sorry no pics recorded. Too dangerous).

Some officers from the Ministry of Tourism were concerned about chairs stacked up at the back of the observers deck (see pic)and not neatly lined up for the guests.

The fans were also not switched on. It had rained a little in the evening and as the number of guests kept swelling up under the covered observers deck, the heat became discomforting. People began to move away onto the roads and open ground.

The next morning began with a fashion show or contest of some kind among XXL ladies, organized by PUSPANITA Labuan. That must be more for the XXL ladies to show that their extra endowment need not be a liability but can be turned into a great asset. I passed that one and went to the IMSC plaza to witness the landing of big fishes from the open sea around Pulau Layang-layang.(see pic)

Yes, it's a real spectacle and, for the first time in my life, I felt afraid of eating fish.(see pics)
Naa...once cooked I would not have any fear of them.

Guess that's enough for today. Need to laze around and enjoy the view from the balcony. Down there I could see a couple enjoying themselves in the swimming pool, trying to catch something on themselves...While driving back to the hotel I forgot that I promised some shots of the the modern buildings in Labuan. Here are the Grand Dorsett and the Ujana Kewangan buildings.