Thursday, 31 July 2008

By-election looms in Permatang Pauh

Here we go again but this time, it's a by-election. Prize is the Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat that was vacated this afternoon by Wan Azizah so that her husband. Anwar Ibrahim, can contest. I think this is by far the most logical plan for the Keadilan Party since it was Anwar's old seat to begin with.

So willy-nilly, I'll be involved again because I'm still registered as a voter there. While destiny is in my hands, the big question is, when will it be?

I've been reading that there are just three easy steps. According to the Constitution, a by-election must be held to fill a vacancy caused by resignation, death or disqualification of an incumbent member.
  1. The MP (assuming he's not dead) sends a letter of resignation to the Parliament speaker;
  2. The speaker informs the Election Commission of the vacancy; and
  3. The Election Commission then fixes a date for the by-election within 60 days from the date of vacancy
So this impending by-election will depend on:
  • The speaker receiving the letter of resignation. He could be away overseas, so he cannot open the letter until he returns home or until his office sends it to him by snail mail (not email);
  • The speaker officially informing the Election Commission by snail mail too;
  • The Election Commission receiving the snail mail and then deliberating on an appropriate date for the by-election.
I suppose everything taken into consideration, this by-election could be held on ... 29 Sep 2008?


Pesky advertisements

I really hate it when online newspapers allow their webpages to be taken over by pesky advertisements that just cover up your viewing space and won't disappear. Why do they allow such things to happen?


Wednesday, 30 July 2008

BM Hill soil erosion

I guess three questions should be enough to stir the shit at the Penang state forestry department. Obviously, whoever is helming this department does not know much about what's happening on the ground because I seriously believe that some of his field staff (call them rangers or call them "renjer") are not performing.

My beef with the state forestry department is that there is dereliction of care in the Bukit Mertajam forest reserve. Now, for almost a year, I've been exercising regularly at the forest reserve. At least once a week, people will find me trekking up the BM Hill through the trail that begins from the stream that flows through the park.

On Jan 13 this year, I noticed that a stone slab across a small gully at the forest reserve had collapsed. Erosion had wash away the soil beneath the pathway. It's okay, I had thought to myself then, the forest reserve authorities would know about this soon enough and repair the damage.


But week after week, I saw that nothing had been done to repair the damage. By April, a huge hole had even appeared beside the slab. It was quite clear that the soil was unstable and more of it was being washed away. A second piece of slab had given way and some samaritan - definitely not from the ranger's office - had placed some planks across this damaged area to enable trekkers to cross the gully safely.


But my question is this: how much longer will it take the ranger's office to notice this big hole? This was not at the top of the hill or some unpopular trails that people seldom passed through. This was at the base of the hill, not more than 200 metres from the office. Surely, the department's field staff are required to patrol the park, report any damage and arrange for repair? Don't say no money, okay? Go find the funds! Surely, the department's field staff do not need the people to alert them to this danger? Where are the field staff when you want them? Where can they be? Patrolling the hill trails or...elsewhere?

It's now close to eight months since the slabs collapsed. Although most of the time, the gully is dry, it is totally different when it rains. Here, you can see the dramatic difference when there is water flow. It's no wonder that erosion sets it.


And talking of erosion, the state forestry department must wake up to the fact that unless they do something here FAST, this part of the forest reserve will be damaged irreparably. The water flow has already eroded the earth here and exposed the roots. How much more damage does the department want to compromise the park?



Does the Penang state forestry department have a case to answer? You bet, definitely!

Question No. 3

Does the head of the Penang state forestry department know whether the rangers (or "renjer") ever walk through their forest reserves to check that the safety aspects of the park must not be compromised and ensure that all facilities provided must not malfunction?

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Question No. 2

Whoever is heading the Penang state forestry department, may I ask when was the last time you checked on your field staff (gloriously designated as "ranger" or "renjer") at the various forest reserves in the state to see whether they are doing their jobs properly or are they just sitting pretty on their bums in their offices?

Stirring shit

I must admit to being a little out of touch with the political developments in this country, after having promised myself not to read beyond the first two or three paragraphs of a news story in either the mainstream or alternative press.

But I broke my promise yesterday evening after I received a call from a friend in Kuala Lumpur. He urged me to read Raja Petra's latest article in Malaysia Today:


I don't know how to react. I can either pretend to act shocked or be cool about it and say, "so what's new in this country?" Assuming the leaked medical report is true, someone out there is, pardon the pun, in DEEP SHIT. Yes, it's really Deep Shit. Big Shit being stirred.

The Malaysian Insider and Malaysiakini both carry their reports early on their respective websites.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Penang's squash king and queen

It couldn't have come at a better time. As George Town celebrates its World Heritage listing this weekend, we were all watching Penang's two squash players making names for themselves at the Malaysia open squash championship in Kuala Lumpur.

First, it was 28-year-old Ong Beng Hee (presently ranked 11th in the world but likely to break into the top 10 again) who won the Malaysia open for the third time in his career. Then, it was Nicol David (world's top ranked women's player) who took the Malaysia open women's title for the fourth time. Both are at the top of their game and they are from Penang. Let's not forget it.

Indecision

Which looks better? Light background or dark background?


Or maybe this is better??


Or this???


Or taking it one step further...


... or two.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Nostalgia strikes - 78rpm record player

I've always pined for the old record players that can play 33s, 45s and 78s. My old Garrard player from the 1960s could do that, together with a 16rpm speed but I haven't seen such a vinyl record before.

Seven-inch 45rpm records are still common enough but not the 10-inch or the 12-inch 78rpm records. They can be found but are much harder to search for. Anyway, you'll need one of those old chunky "hi-fi" record players that can play at this speed. No modern turntable will do that.

My family used to stay at Seang Tek Road in George Town until the late 1970s when we relocated to Ayer Itam. But by that time, the Garrard player was spoilt and we didn't know much about conserving it or even repairing it. My father must have sold it off to some second-hand shop. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to keep all my old 33rpm and 45rpm records. The 78rpm records somehow disappeared from my collection.

This video below sure brings back some good memories of my old, discarded Garrard player. Never you mind about the sound quality. That's 78rpm "hi-fi" for you. Do look out for the last few seconds of the video to watch the automatic return of the tone-arm. It's bound to surprise you if you haven't seen it before.



Here's a final video which, in particular, I'd encourage Eric to watch and listen to. He should be enjoying this historical gem!

Twins!

It's rare but it does happen. Twins of a mixed-race parentage displaying different coloured skin. These two brothers were born in Berlin, Germany recently.

Rape is .... impossible?

This short story is not for dirty minds, okay? It holds a lesson. Once, there were two nuns, Sister Mathematical and Sister Logical. One day, as they were walking back to the convent they noticed someone following behind:

SM: Have you noticed that a man has been following us for the past 38 minutes? I wonder what he wants.

SL: It's logical. He wants to rape us.

SM: Oh, no! At this rate he will reach us in 15 minutes at the most! What can we do?

SL: The only logical thing to do of course is to walk faster.

SM: It's not working.

SL: Of course it's not working. The man did the only logical thing. He started to walk faster, too.

SM: So, what shall we do? At this rate he will reach us in one minute.

SL: The only logical thing we can do is split. You go that way and I'll go this way. He cannot follow us both.

So the two nuns split up. The man decided to follow Sister Logical. Sister Mathematical arrived at the convent and was worried about what would happen to Sister Logical. Then Sister Logical arrived.

SM: Sister Logical! Thank God you are here! Tell me what happened!

SL: The only logical thing happened. The man couldn't follow us both, so he followed me.

SM: Yes, yes! But what happened then?

SL: The only logical thing happened. I started to run as fast as I could and he started to run as fast as he could.

SM: And?

SL: The only logical thing happened. He reached me.

SM: Oh, dear! What did you do?

SL: The only logical thing to do. I lifted my dress up.

SM: Oh, Sister! What did the man do?

SL: The only logical thing to do. He pulled down his pants.

SM: Oh, no! What happened then?

SL: Isn't it logical, Sister? A nun with her dress up can run faster than a man with his pants down!

Friday, 25 July 2008

Canadian feet mystery

Anyone missing six feet? There's something weird going on in British Columbia, Canada. Since last August, the people there have been discovering severed feet, most of which were still in training shoes. Of course, nobody has claimed the shoes, nor the feet. And the Coroner's office is none the wiser. Whose feet are these? Where did they come from? What happened? All they can say is, it's not the job of a serial killer.


According to various news reports, the first right foot was discovered in August last year, the second right foot was also found in August, followed by two more right feet in February and May this year, a left foot two weeks ago and the latest right foot a few days later. It's a complete mystery, all right!

Speaking of which, I'm reminded of my schooldays when one of my teachers (Koh Sin Ghee) used to confound us by bringing up strange names. Dingle Foot, Dingle Foot, he shouted at us in excitement one day. We ignored him. Why shouldn't we ignore him if he went on babbling words that sounded like some strange foot disease? No, no, he insisted, it's not a foot disease. Sir Dingle Foot, a famous British lawyer and politician. Ah, okay, thank you.

Maybe that's the reason why I can't remember much about Dingle Foot, SIR Dingle Foot. We didn't listen much to my teacher's babbling but apparently, the Foots was an eminent family in Britain. Sir Dingle's equally illustrious siblings were John Foot (Lord Foot) and Hugh Foot (Lord Caradon) but the most prominent of them is Michael Foot, still alive and kicking around with his feet. There's also Paul and Oliver Foot (sons of Hugh) and the daddy of them all, Isaac Foot. Gosh, I didn't realise until today that there are so many Foots around.

St Anne's Feast 2008

Well, this is the week for the St Anne's Feast in Bukit Mertajam and the church along Kulim Road is gearing up to receive devotees who will have made their way from across the country. They'll be arriving this weekend by air, road and rail and all will converge on the church on Saturday night for the mass and procession.

Traffic will be horrendous. The Police will be closing off the part of Kulim Road in front of the church possibly starting from today. Guess I'll have to take a longer route to get home today. And amidst all this traffic congestion, I really don't feel like going out to the island on Sunday to celebrate George Town's world heritage listing although I should. The roads here and on the island will be a big mess.

Anyway, back to the St Anne's festival. The old church building, though small, is a very striking sight, especially when you view it face on from across the road. As you can see from the sign on the gate, that's the schedule for the celebrations.


I took this photo earlier on Monday or Tuesday morning. The grounds was still empty during the day. No crowd yet because all the worship would take place in the evenings. But this morning when I passed by at 6am, I noticed two packed buses turning into the compound. This is a Catholic church so I suppose other Christian denominations do not celebrate this festival. However, you do meet the occasional non-Christians, except the Muslims, among the crowd. It's a peculiarity that non-Christians also come to the St Anne's church at this time of the year.


A few of the devotees in prayers on Wednesday night. The candles can be as long as three to four feet. Some of the people take comfort in the length of their candles. The longer, the better, I suppose.


Anyway, when they were done with the prayers, they'd surrender their candles to the church volunteers who then doused the flames. I was curious. What would become of all the candles collected? What did the volunteers do with them?


This was the scene behind the church building. The volunteers here were busily stripping the candles from the bamboo sticks. Recycling the candle wax.


The used candles were stuffed into these bags and there were easily 20 bags or more behind the building. Someone would re-melt them and make new candles which are then re-sold as new to other devotees. I suppose the money would add to the church's coffers and it's a way to collect donations to the church. But I would have wished that the volunteers wouldn't do it so openly. The faithful wouldn't mind but to others, they may think differently.


Beside the church building, people were climbing the steps to the top of the hill. Along the way, they were allowed to light candles. Previously, the candles were simply placed anywhere along the steps and it proved to be a hazard because wax is slippery. So the church now allowed candles to be lit at certain designated stands only. Volunteers would remove the lit candles from the stands every few minutes because they needed to clear the space for even more candles. But again, the used candles then ended up in the bags behind the church. Mmm...would you be comfortable knowing that the candle you hold in your hand had been used previously by other people?


Anyway, after about a five-minute climb, you would reach the top of the hill. The image of St Anne is at the highest point on the hill. There's also a life-sized image of the cruxified Christ on display.

Scholes planning his exit


"How long will I go on? I'd think two years at the most. I have one year left on my contract and hopefully I'll get another one but I suppose it all depends on how you're feeling and how you're playing. At the moment I just think two years would be about right. I can't say that I can't wait to finish but I am looking forward to finishing with everything that goes with it. The only thing I will definitely miss is the football, not the general life of a footballer."

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Complaints, complaints

I had this conversation with Jeffrey just a few minutes ago. We were talking of many things and as our conversation turned to the present sitting of the Penang State Assembly, he asked me whether I was following the proceedings on the live webcam.
Me: What live proceedings? All I see is a tiny blank rectangle in my browser.

Him: We have about 20,000 visitors in the past few days.

Me: 20,000 except one.

Him: Change, lah, to FireFox. Don't you have any other browser program?

Me: It's not my FireFox and besides which, I don't have any other browser program on my Linux machine. You know, you are all practising discrimination against the minorities who do not use Windows operating system. I never thought it would come from this administration but I have to say it that I'm disappointed.

You: But at least, you have to admit that the last state administration didn't provide anything at all on this. You couldn't even bring a laptop into the proceedings.

Me: Yes, sure, but at least they were fair in discriminating against everybody.
We had a good laugh. By the way, I'm still unable to follow the assembly sittings. What, lah!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

More should be done for Penang's tourism!

Now that George Town has been made a World Heritage site by UNESCO, two of the most important objectives for the Penang state government will be to determine how to conserve the heritage in the city and how to draw more tourists to visit here. I won't be touching on conservation at this time because it is a huge area that is already covered by non-governmental organisations like the Penang Heritage Trust but I'd just want to comment a bit on the tourism aspect.

For decades, we have had tourists from all over the world coming here. Tourism is not something new to Penang. But ever since the old state administrations concentrated on making Penang into a manufacturing hub from the 1970s, I felt that tourism has been neglected to the point that many our tourist spots seemed dated and would need a fresh coat of promotion. You'll have to pardon the mixing up of my metaphors...

Left to their own devices, I suppose the tourist spots will continue to survive but the state government must show its effort to promote them as well. We should not lose our focus on them because these tourist areas had served us well in the past and they can continue to serve us well again in the future.

Our tourist attractions have a long history to fall back on and right now, we have the heritage aspect as well. So I urge the government: please use our history, our people and our heritage to our advantage.

In today's newspaper, for example, I read that the state government is planning to put up street names and road signs in multiple languages at heritage areas here for the benefit of tourists and visitors.

I fully support this initiative but I hope this is not a knee-jerk reaction to the recent publicity stunt by a group of people as the Penang State Assembly was sitting. On Monday, they went about to put up their own road signs in Chinese at Beach Street (Thor Kor Kay or Wholesale Street), Burmah Road (Chia Chooi Lor or Water Carriers Road), Macalister Road (Tiong Lor or Middle Road), Carnarvon Street (Lam Chan Nah or Muddy Padi Field), Chulia Street (Gu Guan Tang or Cattle Pen Street) and Jalan C.Y. Choy.

According to state exco member Chow Kon Yeow, the languages would depend on the cultural characteristics of the streets in question. “There have been requests for road signs in various languages now that George Town has received Unesco recognition as a world heritage site. The state has, in principle, agreed to have signs in Bahasa Malaysia, English, Chinese and Tamil, and maybe even Arabic."

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Lunas interlude

This is a very secluded village road in Lunas. I was exploring it briefly last weekend. On the left is a rubber smallholding where one can still find people tapping for latex at dawn. There was nobody at work when I snapped these photos at about 10.30am. Too bad. But here's a tapped rubber tree. See the grooves on the bark? The latex flows down and collects in the little cup. The workers must have emptied it earlier on or otherwise this tree was turning out to be unproductive.


On the right of the road were some old Malay kampung houses. This one's quite big and imposing although, like the smallholding, no adults seemed to be around when I walked past it.


But elsewhere, the peace was punctured by this little girl crying. Pity her. She was crying away but her father simply ignored her and continued raking the dried leaves in their compound. I tell you, it was a simple country life in Lunas. Simple and peaceful...

Monday, 21 July 2008

Penang state assembly live webcast

I hear that there is a live webcast of the sittings of the Penang state assembly starting today at http://dunpenang.ipglobal.tv/ but I can't watch it because the webcast is not supported on my Ubuntu machine! (I told Jeffrey that it is discriminatory practise against the minorities who do not use Microsoft's operating systems.) But go watch it if you can and see how your state representatives fare for themselves. For better or for worse, you have elected them!

Pinabaht at Lunas

I've never spent so many hours at the Buddhist Hermitage Lunas before. Yesterday must've been a record. My family arrived there at 9.20am because we were told that the pinabaht for the resident monks would begin soon afterwards.

Normally at Buddhist temples here, devotees would come daily to offer food to the monks so that the latter do not need to go looking for food. However, the pinabaht ceremony at the hermitage, which is organised regularly, is symbolised by the monks coming out in procession to meet the devotees who line up to place the rice in the monks' bowls. It's all very symbolic.

Pagoda at the Buddhist Hermitage Lunas. Cllear blue skies when we arrived.

Childen from the Sunday School taking part in the pinabaht ceremony.

And this is the turn of the adults.

By the time we departed at about 12.30pm, the skies had turned threatening.

Twitter.com over capacity

I can't say that I'm fully impressed with twitter.com. If they are trying to promote themselves as the next best thing since sliced bread, they should have anticipated the high volume on their servers. Instead, I got this message when I tried to visit its homepage this morning:


Sunday, 20 July 2008

Fergie says Ronaldo's going nowhere

It's been revealed that the master-slave meeting has finally been held. Alex Ferguson insists that Cristiano Ronaldo will remain at Old Trafford next season and will not join Real Madrid. Fergie met Ronaldo in Lisbon last week.

"It went well. We put across our points of view, where we stand and where the player stands," explained Ferguson. "I can say he'll be a Manchester United player next season. He won't be sold.

"It's not a difficult position. I wasn't panicked because Ronaldo is under contract so the strength and the rights are with Manchester United. What we did well was to say nothing. We kept quiet on this matter and kept it private and what I said to Cristiano will remain private.

"I did go and see him last week and it was very amicable. There were no problems. That's where we are and we carry on. He's on crutches for the first four weeks, he'll be in rehabilitation for the next four and then the following four he'll be back into football training. The time mapped out is three months and we won't bring him back a day earlier than that. I think when players have operations we have a responsibility that the player comes back 100% and we'll carry that out as we normally do. There'll be no risk-taking - we never take risks. Our goal is to always make sure that the player gets back 100% and that will be the same in the case of Cristiano Ronaldo."

Busy Saturday

Yesterday evening was a very bad day for Internet connectivity. I thought the problem was isolated to my local area around Bukit Mertajam but I was informed by a friend in KL that the connectivity also sucked there. So I wasn't alone....

Anyway, I was too busy yesterday with a lot of things. First, a visit to the Seberang Jaya Hospital to visit a relative who has just come out from major surgery several days ago. Such visits can be pretty sombre because you'll normally get to hear the story first-hand from the relative's spouse or children and it will never be an easy story. All the details will pour out and well, they do affect you in all sorts of ways.

Second, I spent a long time re-installing some of my essential programs on my desktop computer. It's not all done yet but I'm getting there. I must say that without all the old baggage, the machine runs faster. I've got to learn to be more discerning about what I keep as my programs. I did try that the last time but ended up by screwing the machine. Better luck this time, I hope!

Thiird, clearing the old newspapers from the house is never an easy task. There are items that I want to keep for reference but for that, it practically meant having to sort through the pile of papers and turning the pages one by one. Arghh...

Last, and this is very rare for me, I managed to watch a movie from Astro, our satellite TV provider! Whoa...this is practically like striking it big at a lottery. But there I was, last night at about 10.30pm, plonked down in front of the idiot box to watch Night At The Museum. The best bits in the movie? The frisky dinosaur and the irrepressible Attila the Hun Hun. Watch Attila. Watch Attila the Hun. Watch Attila the Hun run run. Come to think of it, I wouldn't have watched it if not for Robin Williams starring in a supporting role. Anyway, I enjoyed myself although I had to break my intention to sleep early....

Ho hum....awoke this morning with the moon's rays shining directly into the bedroom. Darn, it's still as bright as two days ago when it was the full moon. Moreover, it's path of descent takes it right in my line of sight. So it shines directly into my face!

Anyhow, today's schedule will not be any lighter, I can assure you!

Friday, 18 July 2008

Format, format, format

The dodgy C: Drive on my home desktop computer finally gave up the ghost yesterday evening. Continuous attempts to reboot it failed. The computer just hanged everytime I keyed in my password. Even booting into Safe Mode to do a System Restore brought no relief.

In the end, I decided to reformat and reinstal my Windows XP. I couldn't try Vista, though, because my desktop is rather dated and there's not enough processing power. But it was a good thing that I had to reinstal the operating system. Finally, I can get rid of some old baggage in my harddisk. Good thing that I had recognised my computer's dodginess months earlier and had backed up all my stuff.

The only problem was that I have to reinstal all my essential programs. It's going to take time and it's going to take up most of this weekend to tweak them to my satisfaction.

P.S. So far, I've only managed to instal an anti-everything virus protector and get my soundcard to work. At least, that's two of the most essential tasks done. More to come...

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Incredible...

"Does it make so much
difference,
another half
an hour or 45 minutes?"


An incredible comment from Najib Abdul Razak who was trying to justify why the Police did not wait for the expiration of the 2pm deadline before they rushed in with a team of 20 balaclava-clad commandos to arrest an unarmed 61-year-old man with a bad back.

A little Penang chess history

Today's blog item is dedicated to my chess friends in Penang. It's a bit of chess history as well, seen from my point of view. As we chess players here know, the Penang Chess Association was facing a significant transition last month. At its annual general meeting, there was a change of the guard with Dr Toh Kin Woon voluntarily standing down and Lee Ewe Ghee stepping in as the new president.

Since 1990 or so, the association had been caught in a curious mindset that its president should only be someone from the Parti Gerakan Malaysia. An unfortunate mindset but a very convenient one. You know how it started? Let me tell you the story.

In the 1980s, the PCA was in deep shit. It was almost dormant to the point that it faced deregistration by the Registrar of Societies. But before it happened, I had taken the initiative to revive the association. Together with a few friends, we convinced Dr Choong Sim Poey to helm the association and I volunteered to become the secretary to assist him through this period. The 1990s became a golden age for the PCA, much like the 1970s was. We had even organised the Asian team chess championship in 1991 and a Penang international open championship in 1998. We unearthed and encouraged the growth of a lot of potential young, homegrown chess players ... people like Ooi Chern Ee and Ronnie Lim (possibly Dr Lim Chuin Hoong by now) among them.

We all clicked as a well-oiled team but soon, it became clear than Dr Choong wanted to move on when he felt that the PCA was already functioning efficiently as a society. Dr Choong was a Gerakan partyman and in the transition, he arranged for Dr Toh Kin Woon to replace him. Dr Toh was also a Gerakan member and one of the Penang state executive councillors. Therefore, from about 1990 until this year, the president's post has continuously been filled by someone from the Gerakan party.

Here's an anecdote. About six years ago, Dr Toh had wanted to step down as the PCA president. I was still in the PCA committee then and I remember that we were rather reluctant to accept his decision. Nevertheless, we felt that if he wanted to go, there was nothing we could do but to look for a replacement. At that time, the other committee members felt that the association needed another politician at the top so a few names were being bandied around. I had different ideas. I was questioning why we needed another politician as the president. Shouldn't the association be apolitical? Anyway, if they really wanted another politician, why must the person be from the Gerakan party? Why not, say, a politician from the Malaysian Chinese Association? After all, an MCA politician would also be from the government too, right? Not that I had anyone specific in mind. Anyway, I didn't hear any more about my proposal (if you can call it as one) but the next thing I heard was that Dr Toh had been persuaded to stay on as the president. Maybe my suggestion was too unpalatable for many people to stomach!

But I knew that sooner or later, Dr Toh would want to step down again. Publicly, everyone knew that he planned to retire from the state government. He wouldn't be seeking re-election in the next General Election. That would mean that he would want to vacate the PCA president's post too. He would be leaving all that behind.

By 2000, I had already withdrawn myself completely from the PCA committee although I still offered help wherever I could. You can describe my position as one from the outside looking inside into the association. I loved this role. I could continue to contribute in whatever way I liked without any responsibility on my part. But though I had left the committee, I still maintained good contact with Dr Toh. I really appreciated it when he described me as a very good friend during the PCA annual general meeting last month.

But as we all know, the winds of change were sweeping across the country last March. The Barisan Nasional government fell in Penang and the Pakatan Rakyat took over. If there were any slight hope that Dr Toh would re-consider his position as the PCA president, the state election results put an end to that hope.

It was back to the drawing board for the PCA committee and finally, a candidate arrived in Lee Ewe Ghee, a local developer. His sons had been playing in the PCA junior events for several years now and he agreed to take over as the president. After the AGM, I took him aside and impressed on him that the new committee must be prepared to unshackle itself from the old mindset. We cannot be continuously associating ourselves with people from any one political party. That was the weight on the old committee's shoulders. The glass ceiling that the old committee couldn't break through.

As I mentioned earlier, the association should be apolitical, that is, above all the political shenanigans. The association serves the people of Penang who are interested in chess. That's all its role should be. So, don't be afraid to dissociate ourselves from our old Gerakan friends. They will remain our good friends but there's now a new reality. The association has to be bold enough to approach the new state government and make new friends.

I'm glad that Lee agreed with me. I've just learnt that the Penang state government under the Pakatan Rakyat has approved RM10,000 in funding to the PCA. I'm certain that it was hard work to convince the government and it took a lot of legwork by the new PCA president but now that the money has been approved, please make sure that the association makes the best use of it for the good of the Penang chess movement.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Shameful


"As he entered the neighborhood of his home, a contingent of ten police cars, half unmarked and half patrol, forced the two cars in Anwar Ibrahim’s entourage to stop. There was a contingent of 20 balaklava-clad masked commandos (UTK) who accosted him..."

Press statement excerpt from the Office of Anwar Ibrahim

No master-slave peace talk in sight...yet

It's the clearest signal yet that Cristiano Ronaldo has completely fallen out of favour with Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Times of London reported on Monday that Fergie has cancelled a trip to Portugal to meet up with his star player.

While Manchester United are still reluctant to let Ronaldo go, the club seems prepared to let him rot in the Reserves team.

Read The Times' article here.

Bright spark or dimwit action?

Don't you think these are breath-taking sights? Photos from our mainstream media. The heart of Kuala Lumpur. All jammed up with vehicles because some bright spark or dimwit in our Police department got the brilliant idea to block off all roads to Parliament House on Monday (14 Jul 2008).

It was fun for the Police but obviously, not funny, lah, for the thousands of motorists who were caught for some four or five hours in this traffic snarl. Someone should have known better than to play around with the Rakyat. It can only lead to no good. Who's going to pay for the lost hours? Who's going to pay for the opportunity cost? The Rakyat, of course. The businesses, of course. And the government? They are still defending the decision but nobody seems to buy their excuses any longer.

Yesterday morning, there was a lively phone-in session over the RedFM radio station. Listeners were asked to imagine a school where teachers were jealously guardng their precious pot of coffee. In an attempt to prevent a few roudy students from bumping into them and spilling their coffee, the teachers asked the prefects to enforce a rule where all the students - innocent and not-so-innocent - were forced to slow down and walk slooowly.

The allusion to the road closure and traffic jam was all too obvious. You can guess the responses of those who called or text-messaged the station. No prize for that. So the people were indignant that they were all made to suffer through the traffic jam while the authorities chased after imaginary threats.

Oh yes, what about the headmaster? Not surprisingly, nobody cared much about the headmaster...what he was up to or where he was.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Will we get screwed again?

Aiyoh....every time something gets reviewed by the politicians with a promise of making it better for the ordinary folks, we eventually get screwed up baik-baik. :-(

Monday, 14 July 2008

Slave getting the water torture treatment

A typical modern-day Manchester United slave resisting torture-by-water.

George Town: In case we forget

"The said Municipality of George Town shall on the First Day of January in the Year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and fifty seven and forever thereafter be a city and shall be called and styled the CITY OF GEORGE TOWN instead of the Municipality of George Town and shall thenceforth have all such rank, liberties, privileges and immunities as are incident to a city."

- Elizabeth II


Witless and bonehead

I've been quiet a bit too long about this saga simmering since the end of last season's Champions League. As you know, there's been a lot of disquiet in Europe about whether Cristiano Ronaldo would be leaving Manchester United for that once near-bankrupt football club in Spain. Yes, I'm talking about Real Madrid whose president's lack of scruples really scrapes the bottom of anyone's barrels.

Real Madrid had been tapping up Ronaldo since the beginning of the year - there was at least one clandestine meeting between him and one of the Spanish club's fitness staff in Rome, I think. When the Champion's League ended, Ronaldo did not put any speculation to rest, saying he would only decide his future after the European Championship.

There are certainly people who takes pleasure in disrupting the best of teams for their own satisfaction and selfishness. Number One on my list would be Luis Felipe Scolari. During the European Championship, he was the head coach of Portugal but he knew that he would be accepting the offer to take over as Chelsea's manager. So what did he do? While news of his move to Chelsea was still unwraps, he casually let known to the press that Ronaldo should join Real Madrid if that's his ambition. This is totally uncalled for and totally unprofessional. Even before he joined Chelsea, Scolari had displayed his true colours. He'd go to the extent of breaking up any rival's team for his own selfish greed.

In the centre of the controversy, the Real Madrid president has been telling one lie after another ("no, there's been no tapping up of the player", etc etc) but it's all mind games as he tries to soften up Manchester United and boost up Ronaldo's own bloated opinion about himself. Of course, all his blathering has only one effect: hardening Ferguson's own resolve that his star player will never be released.

Interference from Europe's own governing football body came from Michel Platini, the Uefa president, who last month defended the way that Real Madrid was conducting the whole mind game. Somehow, I feel that there are people who takes pleasure in wrecking the English Premier League. Like Fifa too.

Now, even Fifa thinks that they had a right to poke their finger into the affair. It's Stupid Blatter's turn, of course. He thinks he is so powerful that he can ride rough shod over governments. Now, he said Manchester United was treating Ronaldo like a modern-day slave. And there's an equally stupid player who agreed with the blathering mouth.

Here's an opinion piece that I picked up from the Guardian Online:


I couldn't agree more with the writer. To read the rest of the article, click here.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Music from my youth: Love is still the message


These are the records that I own from the record label known as Philadephia International (PI). Soul and disco stuff from the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia.

I don't know what made me pick up a copy of MSFB's Love Is The Message but I've never regretted it. Fabulous songs on this album which included the signature track as well as Back Stabbers and TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia). The other records followed naturally from this one. I just couldn't get enough of the PI sound, including The Three Degrees' self-titled first album. The Best Of MSFB, though, is a compact disc, not vinyl record. A friend brought this back for me from Australia many years ago. I still don't see it around the music shops in Malaysia. That's how bad the music scene can be over here.

BTW, in case you don't already know, MFSB was PI's in-house studio musicians. MFSB backed many of PI's top artistes like Harold Melvin And The Blue Notes, The O'Jays, Billy Paul and of course, The Three Degrees. Unlike Motown Records, PI allowed MFSB the chance to shine on their own merits, as these albums clearly showed. Love Is The Message was probably their greatest groove.

I have a confession to make. When I first bought The Three Degrees' first album, the music was secondary. Of course, I grew to like the songs later but the main reason I bought it was because of the album's artwork. Look at the centre-fold. It was one of the most daring photographs that made it past our local censors.

Talking about The Three Degrees, I have been searching high and low without success for the Japanese version of their hit, When Will I See You Again. It was only last week that I finally found it...on YouTube. However, it wasn't the original but a live performance in Japan. I know that there is a vinyl record somewhere but it still eludes me.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

What's on your mind?

While at the BM Hill Rembau Forest Reserve this afternoon, I came across this monkey seemingly in deep contemplation.But it also looked kinda worried, seeing how it was wringing its hands. Maybe there are lots of worries on its mind, like worrying when the next meal's coming from in the wake of rising food prices. Shall I dedicate this photo to anyone in Government? Actually, not just to one person but A LOT of people in Government. They deserve to be called monkeys and you know who they are; no need for me to say.

Are you surprised?

No, I'm not. This story just reinforces the public perception of our Police, that there is something rotten in the state of, not Denmark, but Malaysia. Monthly bribes? So open about them and gee....I wonder from whom?