Friday, 27 July 2012

Happy Birthday, Pek Chin

Jennifer, Pek Chin and Jadryn, Lafite, circa 2012

May the year to come will be a good and prosperous one to you and your darling husband. We look forward to hear more good news from the both of you such as time to distribute red chicken eggs and time to party!
I would also like to use this opportunity to say thank you so much for your selflessness in always taking care of me, being my good listener and being my excellent dinner partner every Thursday night. I always enjoy your company, especially our memorable trip to Beijing and down the memory lane to Singapore.
How fast time flies, and I truly appreciate everything we did and the moments we walk through together as good sisters.
Once again, Happy Birthday, Pek!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Y.B. Phee Boon Poh and New Zealand PR

Yes, Phee Boon Poh’s wife and children are staying in New Zealand and they have been there for many years, even before I return to Malaysia to join the DAP. I know that his wife and children are NZ Permanent Resident pass holders but not too sure if they had given up their Malaysian citizenship. But what I am very sure is Phee Boon Poh himself is not a NZ PR holder.

I’ve known Boon Poh, as he is fondly called since my DAP days in Penang. He was always nice with his opinions and suggestions. He is a successful businessman with his own printing company in the Mak Mandin, started by his father and has wide connections among the business fraternity in Penang. He is close to the owner of Rex Group famous for its can foods on which a good friend of mine used to be their nutritionist.

I first met Boon Poh not in any DAP function but in front of Rex’s factory in Mak Mandin which is nearby to his printing factory. Knowing that I used to stay and work in New Zealand, we starting chatting very much about New Zealand and about his wife and children there. I remember having asked, so are you a PR there; he said no, I am not one but my wife and children is. During DAP’s bad days, Boon Poh was its financier. We used to sit together in the state committee. His contribution to DAP is huge.

During one of our conversations, when I lament to him that some people in DAP Penang think that I am taking DAP’s salary to promote myself, he did said that it would be better if I am not employed by the party. He did suggest that I make enough money for myself before joining a political party, and then the naysayers would shut up. So when I resigned and subsequently join a law firm, his words are still ringing.

So recently when the news of my party’s Dr. Ng Yen Yen’s Australia’s PR status resurfaced again, people starting accusing that Boon Poh himself is NZ PR holder. If the website did not retract its statement and stop the lies itself, I would agree with Boon Poh  sue them for defamation like what I did recently when someone said I took away 1 million and a four wheel drive to join MCA.

Again, I am not defending any one from DAP because I am pro DAP but I am defending the truth. I’ve also defended Jessie Ooi from MCA. When my party president was humiliated at a recent private bank dinner, I defended him as well. When Phee Boon Poh is not a NZ PR, please don’t say he is one.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

In memory of Dr. Stephen Covey

Dr. Stephen Covey, 1932-2012, is my favorite author and a great motivator.  I am also the proud owner of all his books, 20 in all. His latest is The 3rd Alternative, Solving Life’s Most Difficult Problems, published in 2011. His magnum opus is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People which had sold more 25 million copies worldwide. My other favorites are First Things First and The Leader in Me. My best friend, Jessica and some colleagues in office are also a big fan of his writings and talks.

I had the honor to meet Dr. Covey in person when he was invited to give a full day workshop for all the staffs of the organization that I am working with. He was an inspirer and great motivator. Most people came out from the talk a changed person or some even change after reading his books. When one’s mood is down, one just has to flip the pages of his books, especially the 7 Habits book to be inspired again. Dr. Covey is also kind to provide great quotations by heroes in history in his book.

I was very sad when I read that Dr. Covey passed away on Monday 16 July 2012 due to brain hemorrhage from a bicycle accident in April. We will not only miss him but his new book that I always look forward to see in the shelves. You are a giant among men, Dr. Covey. You will be remembered in the memory of many. You also deserved a place in history.
Rest in peace, Dr. Covey and a salute from me to you.

Monday, 9 July 2012

My life's philosophical phrase

This morning, a colleague asked me what is my philosophy in life and I replied " 得民心者得天下".To achieve great things and be a great leader, one must win the heart of the people, be it your family members, friend, colleagues or anyone else.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Lim Guan Eng has affairs with his female staff?

I have heard of the name Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng since my childhood days because I started to read newspapers since I was 8 and attended many political ceremah since then. My first time seeing Kit Siang and Guan Eng in person was in 1990 when they came to my hometown to give talk during the 1990 General Elections.

The highlight of the town was the 1997 Teluk Intan by elections when the incumbent from Gerakan YB Ong Tin Kim died of cancer and M. Kulasegaran won the by-elections.  It was carnival like atmosphere in town with many big wigs coming and going. Because my parents run a petrol station, I get to see many of these VIPs pump their petrol at our station, including Koh Tsu Koon. Kit Siang's favourite restaurant in town is Hoover where he enjoys the fried rice.

I admired their Kit Siang and Guan Eng’s oration skills and there is a little wish in me that one day I will be like them – standing on stage to talk about issues affecting the people. The days when I was standing on stage for school and university debates as well as for political talk was history, now it is more of me arguing and debating my cases in the court.

I come to know Kit Siang and Guan Eng closely when I joined DAP. So when I read in the newspapers these few days about rumors of Guan Eng has an affair with a female staff in his office, I laughed out loud. I swear in the name of God that Guan Eng is no such person that he will have extra marital with another woman. If I heard of anyone having any affairs, Guan Eng will come last on the list of people that I will think of.

My first reaction when I read the newspapers about this incident is “Does Datuk Gan Tian Loo knows what he is talking about?” You can accuse him of anything but implying that he has affairs with a female staff is of no logic. To link him with extra marital affairs is the job of someone with low mentality or someone without political sense at all. This whole incident will just backfired back on BN, especially MCA.  

If you want to smear his name and reputation, think of something better. Don’t use this outdated tactic. It has been used so many times against politicians from both side of the divide. Guan Eng has come this far to his current position, and even by logic, just in case you do not know him personally, he will not do something like this to kiss goodbye to his political career.

His love with Betty Chew was built on solid foundation and true love. I have read an interview with her sometimes back on which she said, during their dating, she knew Guan Eng is dedicated to public service but she still choose to marry him. She has been there for him during his downs and Guan Eng is not a person that will not reciprocate.

He had been to jail, detained under ISA and faced many more obstacles during his political career. He was disqualified as an accountant and when he was not allowed to be elected to office, perhaps many people does not know that he sell insurance to keep his family going. I can still remember it was AETNA, now ING insurance.

I am writing all these not to say that I am pro DAP now and I am defending Lim Guan Eng but I am defending the TRUTH.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

My Auckland Days

Auckland Harbour and CBD

I have not been back to Auckland, New Zealand for some years and I started to have this feeling that I miss Auckland a lot. I miss my friends, my house, my former office, my university and my favorite dining places in Auckland.
I missed many opportunities in these last couple of years to be back to Auckland when I am in Melbourne due to busy schedules. It is only four hours flight away compared to 11 hours from Malaysia or Singapore. My New Zealand friends are starting to get impatient waiting for my arrival as well. They kept asking “when are you finally coming back?” With my upcoming Melbourne trip, I am going to drop by Auckland again.
Auckland, the city of sails is where I spent my formative years and where I started to be in the front line of politics with my involvement with the New Zealand Labour Party. It is also the place where I met good friends, especially Phei Chee and form friendships that lasted to this day. It is also the place of many firsts to me, from first time getting my own car to first time betting on horses. I developed my fascination for horses there but I’ve sold them since I came back.
I also my miss house in Epsom, Auckland very much. It is where I have my finest collections of Chinese porcelains and Chinese paintings by famous artists. Especially with winter at the Southern Hemisphere now, I miss my huge rosewood desk near the fireplace in my study where I did my assignments. I also miss my old office at the Labour Party Chinese Branch in Dominion Road where policies were discussed, complaints were received and assistance to the needy was given.
The faculty of law of University of Auckland is situated near the Auckland High Court at Eden Cresent was the place I spent most of my time during my university days besides the faculty of arts for political studies at Symonds Street. When I returned to the university some years later, entering the gates that I had entered so many times before, walking through the corridors that many outstanding leaders had frequented, gave me an extraordinary sense of place – a small place in history.
All work and no play made Jack a dull boy. I played golf religiously. Enjoyed fishing on good weather days till I hate black snappers. They don’t taste good but that was what I always got! I played mahjong with friends at night, especially during winter when daylight is short to kill time. Auckland is a very boring place after sunset. Sometimes we will go for karaoke but there was no Chinese karaoke establishment in Auckland until 2001! Quite often, I will be invited to attend dinners organized by Chinese associations there but the food is always horrible. After sometime, I will just send them a polite decline.
After a couple of try at Malaysian restaurant at Ponsonby, I swear I will not go again. If the restaurant is in Malaysia, I am sure it will close within three months. The food is not Malaysian at all! Every Thursday night, without fail, I will have dinner with my dentist friend, Dr Peter Ng and his wife. We will scout for Chinese Restaurants around Auckland and try each one every week. I first met him during the wedding anniversary celebrations of my GP whom was his best friend. By fate, we met again during a conference in Auckland called the New Zealand Pan Asian Congress with famous lawyer Mai Chen as its main speaker.
Our favorite is Peking duck at Empress Garden in Jervois Road while my personal favorite is Dynasty Chinese Restaurant in Wakefield Street. Dynasty’s pan fried mince pork with salted fish is something to die for. Even Li Yen in the Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur can’t prepare this dish like them. The first thing I am going to do when I am in Auckland this time is to be there for dinner. Another Chinese Restaurants in Auckland that serve delicious food are Dragon Boat at Elliot Street and Grand Harbour near the America Cup’s village. After all the good food, when I visit his clinic for dental treatment, Peter will always joke –too much good food still stuck in between your teeth. Well, Peter, thanks so much for your care when I was there.
Weekends are always full of activities for the Labour Party or otherwise I will be at the race course. Sometimes, with friends, we will drive out of city for golf and sightseeing. I particularly like Whangaparaoa Bay with its Shakespeare Regional Park, about an hour away from Auckland. Going for dim sum is also a weekend indulgence with Ming Court in Sky City as my favorite or a drive to North Shore just to see Auckland CDB sunset. Till this day, I can still remember roads in Auckland with a flash of memory; no wonder friends said I have photographic memory.
Auckland – the city that made me what I am today. 

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Chow Kon Yeow’s words made me quit golf

In The Edge this week’s edition, I came across an article that lists the world’s 10 toughest golf courses. Top of the list is The Ocean Course. Kiawah Island, South Carolina, US while the Malaysia’s Saujana Golf and Country Club is on the sixth place and then Cape Kidnappers Golf Course, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand is on the 8th spot.

Cape Kidnappers in Hawke’s Bay used to be my favorite golfing place when I was living in New Zealand. I discovered Cape Kidnappers Golf Course during my brief stay in Napier, Hawke’s Bay. I will find time to fly or drive to Napier from Auckland just to play there and meet some old friends. It is indeed a challenging course nested on top of a cliff. Its terrain is its natural obstacles. One wrong swing, your golf ball will end up in the sea or goes missing. I can still remember, holes 3, 12, 13, 15 were the most challenging part.

The place is named Cape Kidnappers because the local Maoris planned to kidnap Captain James Cook’s crew during his stop there when he survey New Zealand in his famous HMS Endeavor. Another local story goes that the place is name Cape Kidnappers because it used be enclaves for pirates.

Besides the Cape Kidnappers Golf Course, Hawke’s Bay is famous for its beautiful seacoast, orchards and wineries. The best red wine from Hawke’s Bay is from the Te Mata Estate. I still have my cravings for its Merlot but I can’t find it in Malaysia or Singapore.

I picked up golf during my student days in Auckland and played religiously for a few times a week with handicap of 19. My first golfing course was the Chamberlain Park Golf Course but later moved to the Remuera Golf Club which is not far away from my house. My golfing buddy is Susan Goodhue who was my course mate and occasionally with my dentist friend, Dr Peter Ng.

When I returned to Malaysia and joined the DAP, there was an occasion when my former boss, Penang DAP Chairman, Chow Kon Yeow saw a photo of me swinging my favorite Iron 7 on a course and he commented “this is a bourgeois game”. I thought about his comment for a while. He is right. DAP claims to be a socialist party and is part of Socialist International. Then, I also don’t recall my New Zealand Labour Party comrades played golf too. Golf is indeed a bourgeois game.

There and then, I decided to say goodbye to golf although Chow never saying thing that I should quit. I never step on the green again although I am still a member at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. Gone were also my handicap and I do not intend to pick it up again in the near future. Just like Helen Clark, Chow is my very much respected leader.

Monday, 2 July 2012

A tale of two Prime Ministers

Last Saturday afternoon, my friend and I decided to have tea at my favorite JW Marriott Hotel, so off we went. The traffic leading to the hotel was unusually heavy but as my car was approaching the hotel’s lobby driveway, I was stopped by some unknown man. Seeing from far my car’s approach, the valet that knew me well rushed over to open my door and guided me to the lobby.

As I walk towards the hotel door, I saw a huge entourage of cars and traffic police motorbikes parked in front of the hotel as well on Jalan Bukit Bintang. So, these are the cars and bikes that created the terrible traffic jam around Pavilion.  Then I was told the Prime Minister is in the hotel. I do a brief calculation; there must be at least 15 cars and bikes on his entourage. In the lobby, I saw him chatting with a Tan Sri and the bodyguards were closing half the lobby just for these two man!

I felt disgusted because this is the Prime Minister Najib that claimed that he cares for the people but is creating problems for the people with his huge entourage of cars and bikes. He doesn’t have a sense that traffic jam is a big problem for the people in the Klang Valley. Next, is it a need for his bodyguards to cordon off the whole front lobby of the hotel just because he is in there? What a waste to taxpayers’ money!

As I slip my tea, the memory of my former boss, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, lingers around me. Whenever she travels, she does not need such a huge entourage of cars and bodyguards around her. The most, there are only three cars - Two for the bodyguards and assistants and one for herself. In New Zealand, you will hardly hear the police car sirens asking drivers to clear the road for the Prime Minister or any VIPs to pass through. 

Whenever she is in any public places, there won’t be hordes of bodyguards around or any need to cordon off any place just because she is there. Such was the simplicity of the Prime Minister of New Zealand. To her, taxpayers’ money must not be spent of unnecessary thing like a huge entourage of bodyguards and cars and bikes.

Her private house at Cromwell St, Mt Eden in Auckland is simple and does not even have gates and security posts! Whenever she is home, anyone can just drop by to say hello. On weekends, with her jogging attire, she will drop by neighborhood grocery shops to pick up milk and newspapers.  And you don’t see a single bodyguard following her.  Any passerby can just chat with her like a friend you meet by roadside. On a few occasions, she even drives herself to her constituency service center in her personal car! When she is not on official duty, she will not use the official car provided by the government. A country as rich as New Zealand does not even have a special plane for the Prime Minister's use. She commute with commercial flights just like everyone else.

One vivid memory that I won’t forget is the Auckland region Labour Party election candidate selection convention in 2002. The attendees were all seated and the Labour Party Chairman started giving his speech. Halfway through, Helen Clark in her smart casual wear just arrived quietly and took her seat in the middle row. When she rose to speak, many wondered since when she arrived?

Can you image the private home of the Prime Minister of Malaysia without gates and security posts? Can you image Najib jogging around his plush neighborhood, dropping by to get his newspapers without bodyguards trailing him? Najib driving himself to meet his constituents in his personal car? Najib arrived at a function without much brouhaha? I don’t think any sane Malaysian would even want to imagine all these! 

So, these are the tales of two Prime Ministers. I just wonder, is it Malaysia is so unsafe that the Prime Minister needs so many bodyguards and escorts? Ah Jib Kor, to win the people's heart, you have to be like them.

PS: Helen Clark was New Zealand’s Prime Minister until 2008 and currently the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme based in New York. Helen, as she is fondly called by everyone, prefers trousers over skirts or dress even at state dinners and I think subconsciously, I am one too. It will be a blue moon day if you see me in skirts at work. We are still in touch.