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Friday, September 28, 2007

The little things

The Incredible Shrinking Ringgit

Last Saturday I appeared with 3 other actors on the front page of Options, the magazine that comes with The Edge each week. It was a fashion feature! Now that in itself should surprise many people who know my sartorially challenged nature. Anyway, there we were in the surrounds of the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre looking all spiffy in our designer togs. And they were the latest season of designer fashion for men. Big brand names. Armani. Zegna. Hugo Boss. I didn't think much about the whole thing after the photos were taken. Until I saw the story in print in the magazine. What caught my attention was the price tags attached to each of the pieces we wore. My suit was priced at RM3,399. The shirt was RM699 and the pair of rather uncomfortable jeans were RM999.

Almost RM5,000 for 3 pieces of clothing???!!!

Yesterday, I went for lunch at a hawker center that's just opened up near where I live. A Chinese place that looked like any hawker centre in the city. I ordered a pork noodle soup. It came. The stall owner held out her hand for "four Ringgit fifty sen!" What?! For a bit of beehoon, 2 slices of pork and some pork spare parts?

RM4.50 for a bowl of pork noodles???!!! Yup.

It is not cheap to live in this city anymore. Not that it ever has been. But thing are getting worse.

Okay, I know what you are thinking...

Niamah!!! The whole judicial system seems to be collapsing, the Auditor-General has exposed monumental mismanagement of public funds to the tune of billions of Ringgit, racial polarisation is unchecked... and this baarger complains about a RM4 bowl of pork noodles!!!

I have always believed that it is the little things that make the difference to the big picture.

My pork noodle soup which used to cost RM2.50 is now RM4.50
My children's school uniforms cost 25% of my monthly salary.
I need to save up for a month before I can afford to go to the pub with my friends.
I know I can never afford to send my children to private colleges and universities.
My toll charges to and from work each day now totals RM8!
The cost of taking my family out for some R&R is at least RM100++
The cost of my pork noodle soup has increased by 35%. My salary increase last year was 5.3%
...and the list goes on.

The cost of just EXISTING.

It is the little things that matter to the majority. It is the little things that make the majority mad. Pissed off.

It is the majority that changes governments.



(V For Vendetta - Alan Moore)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Walk For Justice

Selamat Datang ke Istana Keadilan.
(Is that what they call it? Palace Of Justice, right?)

A welcome from up high too.
What is she saying? Dei! Speak up da! It's hot standing here la.

This morning I joined fellow members of Allblogs and other friends in Putrajaya for a morning stroll in support of the Malaysian Bar Council's Walk For Justice. The latter were going to give a memo to the Cabinet calling for the setting up of a Royal Commission to investigate issues jeopardising the Judiciary which I presume was triggered by the broadcast of the now infamous Shock-a-Lingam video.

My friends and I arrived early. There were not many participants there yet. Turned out that the police had stopped the buses ferrying the walkers from Dataran Merdeka from driving up to the Palace Of Justice (POJ) which was the proposed starting point of the walk. Those who took the buses had to make the trek of almost 5 kilometers to the POJ. Each tired arrival was greeted by a roar of support from those lucky enough to have driven and let through the barricades. It was quite a sight actually to see all these legal beagles dressed up in black and white jackets and ties standing on the steps of the Palace Of Justice. There was much friendliness and smiles all round. Everyone was in good spirits. Enjoying a good morning out with friends and colleagues. The fact that there was a cause too seemed almost like a bonus. I overheard someone say that it is a momentous occasion because to get so many lawyers together was something very rare. And there was not a drop of alcohol in sight either! That's his joke ok?

We all looked like we were having a good morning tokkok session. Except for the garment (government) flers la. They took it very seriously. Or looked like it.

Soon after I arrived I saw a squad of Federal Reserve Unit men, all dressed up in full riot gear, march up the steps of the POL and position themselves across the main doors. As if to prevent anybody from entering the building at all. But I got in to use the toilet by walking in the side door and nobody stopped me. Maybe because I wasn't dressed in black and white and those FRU flers must have been given their scent way beforehand.

And then it got even more Hollywood-like. Across the road I could see what would have looked like SWAT snipers on the roof of the buildings. A noisy police helicopter buzzed the area. The red FRU water cannon trucks rumbled by and parked within sight of all concerned. And on the perimeter of the Palace Of Justice steps policemen, uniformed and plain-clothed walked about busily speaking unsmilingly into squawking walkie-talkies. I looked around. With everybody smiling, laughing, talking loudly, slapping backs it all looked like we were on a Hollywood film set.

All that hullabaloo for what was simply a group of peaceful, concerned Malaysians who wanted to tell their elected government, "Dei! Something is very wrong here la. So right the wrongs."

Anyway, what was supposed to start at 11 am finally got walking at past noon because of the delay of walkers who had to bus from KL. After a few short speeches through a rather inadequate loud-hailer we got going and walked towards the Prime Minister's office which was at the end of the promenade. Visible in the distance like some huge mausoleum for a terminally ill administration. We walked. Dark clouds covered up the dimming sun. By the time we covered the approximately 2 kilometers and arrived at the foot of the hill bearing the PM's office building I saw that the FRU had arrived first and had formed a menacing barrier, shields at the ready in front of the roads leading up to the building. It was clear that nobody was going to get to see what the PM's office looks like today. (I was told later that members of the committee of the Bar Council were allowed in to present their memo. As to who received it you will have to read somebody else's blog to find out. Anyway, Pak Lah, I understand, is in New York or somewhere far away from this irritation).

Then it started to rain. Heavily. There were hurried goodbyes. People dashed for whatever little cover the designers of Putrajaya planned for these eventualities. Those who had drivers whipped out mobile phones and were zipped away before the expensive suits became too soaked. Those less fortunate scurried into the covered driveway of the mosque nearby. And for once there was a very nice photo op of a truly united Malaysia. Malays, Chinese, Indians, lain-lain. All keeping dry in a mosque. Too bad rains stop.

As I drove my way home I passed a small group. Black and white. Wet. Banners outstretched. Defiantly in front of the bored looking FRU. Shouting slogans. Well, after all it was their do.

My friends and I drove to Country Heights for lunch.

A walk for justice? was a rather nice morning out with other Malaysians. And personally I don't know if it will serve justice, this walk. But it did show, I hope, that if enough of us cared about what happens to our country and show it, things will change. I mean, come on la, the taxi drivers, bus operators, garbage collectors all have learned to use this thing called People Power. How come so many others of us have not?


(V For Vendetta - Alan Moore)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Do it to me one more time? Please don't !!!

Badawi: We will be attending to it.

When the Auditor-General's report came out a week ago I was really pissed off la. Just like so many other tax-paying Malaysians. First of all they are wasting public funds. Meaning yours and my money. Secondly, I was pissed off because the AG releases these 'reports' year in year out but nothing seems to be done about them. Ever. So why irritate us all the time?

Each time it happens the whole country goes GASP! Aiyoh! How can man? Then the politicians make some statements and promise to launch studies and research on why it happened (read that as pour more good money after bad, ok?). Then we go back to doing what we do best as rakyat Malaysia. Nothing.

And so it is the same with the latest AG expose. RM224 for 1 set of screwdrivers la. RM5,000 for a car jack la. RM1,146 for 1 set of pens la. Gasp, looks of indignation while perusing newspapers for the latest TOTO results, complain, then......

Okay Jom! let's do something else less straining on the brain.

And another thing, why are we always so 'nice' to everybody? So all this bad management of public funds points to just plain old bad management, right? Non-transparency, right? Corruption, right? So why are the bosses still being so nice'. We must have the most patient, forgiving, benevolent government in the world. Everything also "nemmine" one. Do slowly ok? Don't angry ok?

For example, in today's Star la...

The Prime Minister says that the ACA should step in and investigate any suspicion of corruption in ministries and government agencies implicated in the Auditor-General's Report 2006 for mismanagement of funds.

"And where the information causes suspicion, then of course the ACA should go in and investigate. We will not hinder the ACA from carrying out investigations,” ... hello, Mr. Prime Minister when you do speak or say something can you please try not to be condescending ah? You think we all stupid or what? They 'should go in'???? What the f*** does that mean? "We will not hinder"???? What the f*** does that mean? Of course they MUST investigate. There's obviously been wrongdoing. Of course you MUST not hinder. Why would you unless you want to cover up wrongdoing?

“All ministers said they have already put officers in charge to clarify the matters raised in the report. So they are already attending to it".

Pak Lah, as the elected leader of this country
in whom we placed our trust and hopes, I would like, for once, to hear you lose it and get really angry and at least try to sound like you mean it when talking about something as blatant as this wastage of public funds.

Attending to it??? What the hell does that mean??? Tell the idiots that you won't stand for this nonsense anymore. Tell them that you are not going to leave any stone un-turned until the culprits are brought to book.

Okay la, so we all already know that there is actually shit-all you can do about anything at this stage of your career. But give us the pleasure of the delution of thinking that somebody in the government is actually getting mad as hell and won't stand for this anymore.

Oh sorry, yes I forgot. There's always the unity and harmony of the country to take into consideration. Yes, yes, yes...another need to say. I understand.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Baaaaaa - GER!!!

Is hypocrisy really a requirement in a politician? Recent events seem to show that it is la. Some days ago there was some trouble in Terenganu. People got upset about something or other. They made their feelings known. They spoke up. Some lost their tempers. It was reported that the policeman fired his gun. Some say it was at the people gathered in the area. The Police say it was in the air. Whatever la. Then somebody got so pissed off that he burned the national flag, the Jalur Gemilang. Fast forward to the leaky building called Parliament House. Our elected YB's got really busy condemning the fler and his act of burning the flag.

"How can?"
"Mana Boleh?"
"Jail the fler"
"Excommunicate him"
"Deprive him of his citizenship"

And I am sure in the lobby of that august house, strictly off the record, some YB's might have even called for some violence to be done to the chap. And somebody might even have offered prize money for that. RM15,000 maybe.

Which brings me to my point. I mean, okay the fler burned the flag. Why? He was pissed off about something that is happening to his country. He was exercising his freedom of speech. He was showing how passionately he is about something. Which is a trait sadly lacking in most Malaysians for anything. Passion I mean.

Then all these YB's in their designer suits and air-conditioned offices mouth off about patriotism and etc. etc. etc. If all that is going to happen to one guy who torched the flag then may I suggest that public flogging be introduced for all these flers and more:-

Lorry owners who fly the flag and allow it to be blackened beyond recognition by soot and diesel exhaust.

Building owners who string up the Jalur Gemilang because Rais Yatim said to do so and then leave it to the ravages of weather and pollution until the flag becomes tattered and torn.

Idiots who endanger themselves and other road users and make us laughing stock on the global stage by plastering their vehicles with scores of flags.

DBKL flers who do not bother to go round town to take down flags after the fireworks have died and allow our sacred flag to be blown onto roads, run over by vehicles or worse pissed upon by canines in Selayang even.

And don't forget those flers who get praised by the YB's for wearing the national flag as their stage costume! How is that better than burning the thing?

Hiyah! Yang Berhormat's can we please get real here, man?

I guess not because as my friend, Veera (email: wrote in the Star today, "......For example, if people consistently fail to do what they know is right or keep doing what they know is wrong, they would experience cognitive dissonance......they cannot accept the feeling, instead of correcting the behaviour, they would repress or deny the feelings, rationalise them, justify their actions or start believing that the problem does not exist."

Really la...............

NIAMAH!!! and a half la.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Dog catching drowning tomorrow?

Adam: YB's, don't be so stupid can or not? Pleeeeeeze!

My friend alerted me to this a day ahead of the Star picking up the story. I guess by today most of you would have read about this 'innovative' idea by the flers in the MAJLIS PERBANDARAN SELAYANG to solve what they perceive to be a big problem in the area. Stray dogs.

As expected this rather knee jerk decision by the town council has drawn a lot of flack from the Malaysians.

To read more and support action against this insane proposal by the Selayang Town Council go here. And here.

Do not support inhumane, un-thought through actions by your local councils.