Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Interesting! Jail term for selling unripe durian

Durian, the king of fruits so beloved by many
Jail term for selling unripe durian! Aha! This is interesting. We should have this “durian law” in Malaysia because durian is one of our icons representing the country and a fruit so beloved by so many. And we even export frozen durians to China. Or who knows, Perkasa and ISMA have plans to urge the government to list durian as our "national heritage".

It was reported in the Thai Rath newspaper that the provincial court of Rayong sentenced a merchant to 15 days in jail for selling unripe fruit to a customer. The ruling set a precedent in Thailand on April 22 sentenced orchard owner Vimol Srivichai for selling 20 unripe durians for about 2,000 baht (RM200.00).
“The defendant defrauded his customer and in doing so adversely impacted the local economy by undermining people’s good faith in durian sales,” the court said in its verdict. The Ministry of Agriculture has sought cooperation from orchard owners and merchants to refrain from selling unripe durians to maintain public confidence in the fruit, which is generally sold covered in its spiky shell.
More than often, we, the durian lovers in Malaysia are cheated by the unscrupulous sellers too. It is only at home that we found that the durians that we bought are either unripe or half of it not edible because of worms or in a twist, too ripe that its flesh turned watery. Or sometimes, the durians were advertised as the famous “musang king” only to find out at home that it is of other variety.
Therefore, I am in the opinion that our authority should set a law similar to that of Thailand’s that will punish unscrupulous merchants, not only durian merchants but others too if they are caught to be cheating the consumers. The current law is just too lenient that it does not stop the merchants from breaking it. What else, most of the time, they know that they can just get off with some fine or duit kopi.
If Alvivi serve time in jail for posting Halal Bak Kut Teh, then I just can't wait to see who will be next to serve time in jail for selling unripe or not edible durian! What say you guys, Datuk Ibrahim Ali or the man who hit out at President Obama for his "handicapped thinking", Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman?

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

My boss, sarong and pagoda T-shirt



I’ve just finish reading Sarong Secrets by Lee Su Kim, the founding president of Peranakan Baba and Nyonya Association of Kuala Lumpur and the author of the award winning bestseller Kebaya Tales.  In Sarong Secrets, Su Kim tells more tales of passion and unfulfilled love, of innocence lost, greed and betrayal, of loneliness and the search for a sense of belonging, of a unique cultural heritage facing the challenge of modern times. Interspersed among her stories are pictures of beautiful sarongs and a brief history of sarong itself.


Sarong brings vivid memories to me because, as a baby till I was about 4, I was rocked to sleep in a cradle – a sarong attached to a clothes hanger shaped steel tightly hanged with a strong rope over the beam at my grandfather’s house.

However, what makes a deeper impression on me is actually seeing my boss trading his Brioni suits and Hermes neckties into sarong and pagoda T-shirts at home or hotel rooms. What a big contrast that he transformed into a chinaman from a smart looking gentleman in suits, I’ve always thought!
Halfway through the book, I texted him a message asking for permission if I can write about him in sarong because I find it very rare these days that man, especially Chinese, will don a sarong and he agreed to it without hesitation.

I first came to know of boss’s so call relaxing “uniform” - sarong and pagoda T-shirt when my colleagues and I visited him at his house to discuss about work. We were shocked that he greeted us in his blue and white checked sarong and Pagoda T-shirts. He must have been feeling very comfortable in them that he didn’t bother to change into other outfit. It was awkward at first but we gradually get used to his informal attire.

I remember an occasion when we were at his house for discussions. Boss appeared in his usual sarong and pagoda T-shirt but we all burst out laughing because from far, with his a bit tanned complexion and un-gel hair, he looked like a Bangla worker just out from shower.

You would have thought that my boss must be an old man in his sixties and belonging to my father’s generation but he is not. My boss is still very young and even younger at heart. Whenever he is at home, he will change into his comfortable sarong before he goes about doing his other chores. Even when he is travelling, he will change into them the moment he gets into the hotel room, he voluntarily told us when asked about his love for sarong and he proudly professed that nothing is more comfortable than wearing the sarong to sleep.

“What makes you stick to the sarong?” I asked. “Purely because they are so comfy” and jokingly added that “they are cooling in our humid weather”. What started as a try out of curiosity during a business trip to Jakarta more than 20 years ago became a lifelong liking, just like me and my mandarin collared jackets.

At the end our conversation, I jokingly told him that if a sarong and pagoda t-shirt ambassador is needed to revive the dying tradition, he can be one. LOL!
P/S:  Pagoda T-shirt is actually a white singlet made of cotton with a Pagoda label sewn at its back. This type of singlet is much beloved by many for its comfort by the rich and poor alike. Henceforth referred to colloquially in Malaysia and Singapore as pagoda t-shirt even if it is of different brand.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Yes, let the music play for all


Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue – Plato
In his latest column, All Kinds of Everything, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim wrote that the Petronas Philharmonic Hall is one of Tun Dr. Mahathir’s great gifts to the nation and for putting Malaysia on the global map for classical music. In the column, Zaid also suggested that young Malaysians, especially from smaller towns to be given the opportunity to watch performances at the Petronas Philharmonic Hall.  I fully agree with him.
Me too, frequently ask the same question like he did, why RTM and other TV stations in Malaysia cannot televise the world class orchestra performances? It puzzles him as well as me. In foreign countries, performances from the philharmonic or symphony orchestra were frequently aired by their TV stations. In China, there is even a dedicated channel by the state owned CCTV that air performances round the clock.
For a long time, I’ve always advocate that classical music must be made available to all Malaysians, young and old and we should have more performances in Malaysia which I still think lacks the excitement as compared to Singapore. Like what Plato said, music is the education of virtue, and music can change people from the inside. Above all, music is regarded as one of the many important means to instill patriotism in people and of course, the propaganda.
Some years ago, when I was in Central Asia during my Silk Road adventure, I came across many former gulags with theatres! We were told that in Soviet Union, Stalin had decided that even in gulags, music and performances must go hand in hand with forced labor. "They played the orchestra or opera here every other night," remarked my guide. I am not surprised. After all, Russia has produced many great composers, including my favorite Tchhaikovsky and many of those send to gulags were the best of artists and intellectuals and actors.
I am a big fan of classical music and opera. I enjoy the listening to the classical music and watching the opera from the classical West and Whimsical East. When I know of a particular performance, I will not hesitate to splurge on the best seat or make a trip to Singapore or other cities just for it, even alone. I always find my peace and relaxation when I listen to the orchestra.  

Apart from that, I am a big fan of the late Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli. I was so glad that I made it to his concert in Kuala Lumpur on the night of 5th May last year while the nation waits for the result of the general election and some others worry about riot
When I was in primary one, I hate it when dad insisted I must go to piano classes, always finding excuses to skip going until they gave up. Then, somehow dad’s stereo system at home works the magic for he will always play the pieces by Strauss whenever he felt the need for relaxation. It didn’t take long before I asked to be enrolled in piano classes again. Mom was so thrilled that she bought a piano immediately after I started going back to class. It is sad that the piano is now a decoration item at home for I’d returned the notes that I’ve learned back to the teacher and hardly touches the piano during my trips home. Looking back, now I understand why mom and dad wanted so much for me to go for piano classes. Duh!
It is always in my wish that there will be more demand for classical music and opera in Kuala Lumpur so that we will have performances in town every night to add zest to our stressful city folks and making Kuala Lumpur a truly vibrant city. Sponsorship by other government link companies and the private sector should also be encouraged in a big way. Talking about this, I am always thankful to the YTL Group for sponsoring many of the world class classical performances in Malaysia and for always inviting me.
Cynics will say that it is a waste of money for Petronas to sponsor the Philharmonic Orchestra while most people will say they will fall asleep listening to the classical music, however, I am in the opinion that one must try to appreciate it and be open to the change of worldview that one will experience before giving down an unfair judgment. There is also a thing or two that one can learn from the conductor when watching him render classical music with gusto.
Just like golf, classical music is no longer just for the elite class as it once was. So, let the music plays for all.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Teluk Intan is ashamed to have produced “bomoh king” Ibrahim Mat Zin


He did it again.  This crazy man with a few screws loose in his head is trying to grab the headlines again. After his stunts at KLIA with carpet, basket and coconuts that has gone viral worldwide, and a failed attempt to get sponsors to Perth to help the search for MH 370, self-styled bomoh Ibrahim Mat Zin is now capitalizing on the many deaths along our North South Expressway and the East Coast Highway which recently saw the death of Karpal Singh and his assistant.
He is now asking for a helicopter ride from Johor to Perlis and along the East Coast Expressway to enable him to bestow his magical powers that would rid the spirits that haunt the path. Despite the warning by JAKIM that his act is against the teachings of Islam, Ibrahim never seem to be stopping his act. If JAKIM is quick to say “Rest in Peace” is against Islam, JAIS is quick to seize the bibles from the Bible Society and Pahang Islamic and Malay Customs Council (MAIP) is quick to ban the bible or other holy scriptures from hotels, why the relevant authority is so slow is getting this “bomoh King” to face the law?  
Why this Ibrahim Mat Zin is still allowed to go on with his laughing stock antics and mumbo jumbo? Isn’t this man is clearly doing things contrary to the teachings of Islam.Is this bomoh is so well protected by his can’t be seen supernatural protectors, that is why the authority can’t get him? Or is it he is protected by certain individual with super good connection to Putrajaya? Or is it just plainly because the authority is enjoying his stunts too?
If Malaysians of all races are very ashamed of this lunatic, it can’t beat the shame that the people of Teluk Intan felt. He was born and bred in Kampung Ayer Itam, a small village about 13 miles from Teluk Intan. His family house can be seen from the roadside on the road that links Teluk Intan and Birdor. A boastful man known to everyone in town, it was said that he was chased off his own village a few years ago after some scuffles with his neighbors. He is now residing near to Tapah and named his semi brick and wooden house a “istana” (palace).
“Buat malu saja orang Teluk Intan itu bomoh gila (Shame on us the people of Teluk Intan that lunatic shaman)” is what one hears frequently at eateries and markets in this quaint little town.
If the authority is serious about getting the teachings of Islam right in this country, for goodness sake, man like Ibrahim Mat Zin should be the first to be hauled up to court. If the authority can’t even handle this small potato, don’t even think of explaining to us, the non-Muslims about Hudud. 



Friday, 25 April 2014

Don’t believe that onions can ward off MERS


This afternoon, I received a message from a friend urging all her friends to have cut onions at home and in the office to keep us away from flu and the killer Middle East Respiratory Syndrome corona virus (MERS) that caused the death of a Malaysian returning from Saudi Arabia and causing alerts in many other places.
My ill-informed friend had apparently heard it from some wrong source that since MERS is respiratory related, onions can keep one from contracting the virus. She also found an article from a Feng Shui magazine describing how onions helped one family stayed extremely healthy in 1919 when flu killed 40 million people. The same article also mentioned about a hairdresser in Los Angeles who reported that some years ago when her employees and customers were coming down with the flu, she remembered about the onion as protection against the flu. So she quickly placed several bowls of onions around her salon and to her surprise, her staff recovered and did not get sick after that.
She even asked me is it placing onions around is a feng shui cure for respiratory related sickness? Duh!!  I told her I’ve never read of such cure and so far, there is no scientific evidence that a cut raw onion absorbs germs or rids the air of toxins/poisons and therefore it is another old wife tales. 
I can still remember when SARS hit in 2002/2003; there was a terrible rush to buy vinegar as some old wife tales had suggested that placing vinegar at four corners of the house will ward the virus off. From China to Hong Kong to Taiwan to Singapore and even Malaysia, shelves were empty of vinegar and unscrupulous traders used the opportunity to hike the price of vinegar. I hope that such a rush for onions will not happen. It is just a myth, another old wife tale that cut onions can ward off MERS.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

My grandfather and satay

The life of the death is placed in the memory of the living - Cicero

With Karpal Singh’s funeral over, the subject of a by-election in his former constituency of Bukit Gelugor quickly pop up among the topics of conversation in the office. Bukit Gelugor is a MCA contested seat since its creation in 2004 after the 2003 constituency redelineation exercise. Many were in favour of BN giving a pass to the by-election because they are in the opinion that MCA will never win the seat so there is no point wasting the taxpayer’s money.  I’m in the opinion that the decision to contest or stay out is the prerogative of the BN chairman.
The failure of MCA in the satay town of Kajang was also brought up by my colleagues and out of a sudden, we have cravings for satay. We had wanted to go to Kajang but I told them that it will be a crazy idea to go on a rainy evening. At the end, we decided to settle for the satay stall at Restoran Idaman near my house which is equally famous and above all, delicious. Haji Samuri satay house is famous too but I do not find their satay to be as delicious as the one at Restoran Idaman.
We ordered 60 skews for 4 person but one of my colleague remarked “That is a lot!” I told him that 60 for the 4 of us is not considered a lot. “Let me tell you what is call a lot…...” I told my friends.
Satay was one of my favourite food as well as my paternal grandfather’s. When I was a child, there were two Chinese stalls that sell chicken and pork satay in Teluk Intan. One was based at Jalan Ah Cheong below Kim Leng Café while the other is a Chinese lady in a motorbike with makeshift charcoal grille based at Poh Long Restaurant. On some weekends, our family will have seafood dinner at Poh Long and grandfather will never fail to order skews of satay for our snack before the main course.
However, there is one thing about satay that my cousins and I will never forget. More than often, in our conversation about food, my cousins will reminisce about grandfather, the huge amount of food that he will always order and the number of skews of satay. 
On some nights, my grandfather will ask if I want to have satay for supper. I will say yes and my grandfather will drive me and my grandmother to the stall at Jalan Ah Cheong. Upon reaching there, he will tell the satay man: “100 skews, tapau (take away).” Or sometimes it will be more, depending on his mood. After a few times, when the satay man see grandfather, he will ask “Towkay (big boss), today you want how many hundred skews?
Back home, grandfather will only take a few and that leaves me, grandmother and mom to finish the rest as daddy and Yann are not fond of satay.  When my cousins from KL are in town, the standard fare will be 200-300 skews for about 6 people. We were expected to finish every skew, including the onions and cucumber slices that comes with it. Any wastage will earn his wrath. He will always make sure that we have more than enough to eat and the food must be delicious. While others may say they are dying of hunger, we will always remark jokingly that we are full to death. That is my grandfather's style when it comes to food. 
“This is what I call a lot. I always had satay overdose when my grandfather was still around,” I said to the bewilderment of my colleagues and a good laugh.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

A very personal possession – My Chinese seals


Among the so many things that I like to collect, there is nothing more personal than the stone seals with my Chinese name engraved on them. It is equivalent to my signature albeit a carved one. Although I do not collect them as avidly as I collect Yixing purple clay teapots, over the years I’ve collected quite a significant amount of them in various type of stones.
Vermilion seal paste in porcelain container with a utilitarian and an eleborate seal. 
 My very first stone seal was a gift from one of the constituent in Helen Clark’s constituency of Mt. Eden who hails from Shanghai, China. Lisa was a volunteer at the Labour Party Chinese Branch when we first met during the wet winter of 2002, slightly before the New Zealand general election. I was still learning Chinese at that time and Lisa was very kind to lend me some of her books where I noticed all the books have her name stamped in red. Out of curiosity, I asked her what is that and she patiently explain to me the details of a Chinese seal – from its history to types of script and usage. When she returned from her visit to China, she gave me my very first seal with my Chinese name carved on it.
Some of the seals in my collection from different stones
It didn’t take long for me to acquire the habit of stamping my books with the seal instead of writing my name. Then, my collection of personal seals increased too when I began to immerse myself with Chinese calligraphy.  And I added more when I studied in details the stones used to carve the seals. At that time, no trip to Beijing was complete without a visit to Liulichang, an alley in the heart of Beijing that are famous for antiques, works of art and materials needed for calligraphy, including the seal. Quite a number of famous seal carvers and shops that sell the beautiful stones are based there. It is also common to see stalls at tourist spots that one can get a personalized seal. At these stalls, some of the carvers are good but most of the time, they produce disappointing engraving job.
My name in Chinese character engraved with the seal script. 
Chinese seals take many shapes and are usually made of stone or occasionally, from ivory. While many seals are simply utilitarian in that the engraved characters on the bottom are just the characters of a person’s name, others are exemplary objects of art with a complex sculpture on the top and an engraved shallow relief scene or calligraphy on one side.
In order to use a seal, the engraved bottom must be pressed into a special red paste made of powdered cinnabar, a compound of mercury and castor oil that is bound together either with cut strands of silk or the dried mugwort herb, called moxa. They are differentiated as zhuni (朱泥) and yinni (). The price between the two is huge too but they produced different result. The vermillion seal paste, which is usually held in a nice two part porcelain container are treasured as equally as the seal itself and are often kept in box paddled with silk cloth.

P/S: Many thanks to Cheng Hock for adding one more seal into my collection. 

Monday, 21 April 2014

Myanmar kids risking their safety to sell roses around Bukit Bintang


It is not the first time I see these kids knocking on car windows that slow down at the few traffic light junctions around Bukit Bintang area. The first time I saw them was somewhere last year on a Saturday night after dinner with my parents at Li Yen at the Ritz Carlton. As my car was stopping at the Jalan Imbi/Jalan Sultan Ismail junction, a sad looking boy knocked on my window offering a stalk of rose for RM 20.00.

The Myanmar boy covering his face when he saw my friend taking pictures.
Out of pity, I bought one and managed to ask where he comes from. “I come from Myanmar,” he replied in good spoken English. I didn’t manage to ask more nor had the chance to take any picture as the light turned green and the boy ran back to the side of the road. I drove off. Later on, I saw them again – a few kids, boys and girls, endangering themselves by approaching the cars as the traffic light turn red and ran back to the side when it turns green. I never see them between Monday to Thursday night. It is always during weekend.
Two nights ago, I saw them again; the few faces that I can recognize by now. I was driving to KLCC with a friend after dinner at Shanghai Restaurant. As my car stop at the Jalan Bukit Bintang/Jalan Sultan Ismail junction right next to Lot 10, a boy with stalks of roses knocked on my window. My friend and I agreed that someone or some organization must be behind these kids selling roses in such a dangerous way and we have to put a stop to it. He asked me to wind down the window and try to ask the boy as much questions as I can while he snap some pictures.
As if trained to avoid the lenses, the boy covered his face with the flowers while I asked where he stays and who supply them with the roses. He must have been trained to refuse to answer any questions too. Knowing that we are not winding down the window to buy any roses from him, he moved on to another car. Deep in my thought, I pity these young boys and girls and at the same time I am angry with the person or organization behind them that put profit before their safety.
If I can spot these kids so many times; there is no excuse that the police that patrol Bukit Bintang area never see them. I am wondering too, are these kids in our country legally? How many more kids are running around selling roses or other stuffs at the many junctions in Kuala Lumpur? Again, why our authorities always fail to take action before something serious happen? Should we wait for an accident to happen before these kids are going to be rounded up and those behind them face the music?
As I am writing this, I know that there must be a demand for the roses that they sell; otherwise they won’t be there every weekend.  If everyone stops buying from them, chances are they are going to stop but what will be the other consequences to them? Will they be beaten up? Will they have food on their table? Regardless, it just do not justify the action to risk their life.
If I see them again next time, I am not just going to drive past. I will park the car aside, call the police and make sure that in the future, I won’t be seeing kids endangering themselves running around at traffic junctions selling roses or other stuffs. We have to put a stop to this!!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

送友人

送友人   李白者


青山横北郭,

白水绕东城。

此地一为别,

孤蓬万里征。

浮云游子意,

落日故人情。

挥手自兹去,

萧萧班马鸣。


有道是人间万苦,离别是此一。又有诗人说黄连苦,贫穷更苦但是我觉得那也比不了离别的悲哀和痛苦。这个甲午年,我们也送了不少友人.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

The Tiger’s roar will echo on


A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on - John F. Kennedy 

I read with shock and profound sadness on wee hours of 17th April the Whatsapp messages that kept coming in about the sudden demise of Karpal Singh, the Tiger of Jelutong. I was preparing   to sleep after writing a about how we can reduce accidents involving express buses. Moments later, the recollections of my days in DAP slowly emerge one after another and without me realizing, tears flowed down my cheeks.

It goes back to my first encounter with the Tiger at his home during Thaipusam where DAP will set up a tent outside his compound to provide refresher to devotees going to the Nattukkottai Chettiar Temple at Waterfall Road and our many other meetings during party functions.
Politics aside, for many young lawyers of my generation, Karpal is our hero, a great law practitioner that many would like to emulate. I’ve heard so much from friends in the legal fraternity that when they were in law schools in England or Australia, a mere mention of Malaysia will surely followed on with Karpal Singh, Malaysia’s most famous lawyer. I had the same experience too when I was in Auckland.
Every individual has a place to fill in the world and the Tiger filled his well. Today, though the Tiger is no longer around, his roar will echo on……
Ut vos in pace, Mr. Karpal. 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Datuk Mohd Noor Abdullah should migrate from Malaysia


To borrow the famous quote from Malaysia’s Home Minister and other leaders of the Malay right wing groups, if you do not like the system in Malaysia, you should get lost from this country. Migrate to other countries that suit your way of life and the systems that you think suits you best.  
If you so loved a dictatorship, perhaps you should consider writing to Robert Mugabe expressing your interest to live in his country. And if you like the way Taliban interpret and uphold their version of Islam, you should consider joining them in the caves of Afghanistan. Or if you think United States of America is the most democratic country on earth, you should start looking for a migration lawyer to get a Green Card and the list goes on and on. After all, again, to borrow the words of our dear Home Minister, Malaysia is a country that put freedom on its top priority. So, you are free to leave if you choose but please remember, once you leave, you’re not welcome back.

Since he is so unhappy with so many things in Malaysia, he should leave!
Therefore, I would like to urge Malaysia’s illustrious former Court of Appeal Judge, Datuk Mohd Noor Abdullah to heed the advice of the Home Minister to leave this country because he can’t live with the systems that have been in practice in Malaysia since the day of Malaysia’s birth – that is to respect the religion of other races despite Islam being the official religion.
In his latest salvo which made him peers with the Taliban when they rule Afghanistan, he stressed that the “huge” statues at a Hindu temple in Batu Caves and Buddhist temple in Penang are an affront to Islam as the religion forbids idolatry and that such sculptures of non-Muslim deities should not be built in the open, but should be placed within an enclosed building instead. He is referring to the 42.7-metre high statue of Lord Murugan and the 30.2-metre high statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy at Kek Lok Si Temple. Well, Mohd Noor Abdullah is just short of saying these statues should be destroyed!
Never mind that the police have been very kind to him for not investigating and charging him under Sedition Act last year when he warned the Chinese of a Malay backlash for purportedly betraying the Barisan Nasional at the May 5 general election.  And not too long ago, he had said that Chinese and Tamil schools should not be allowed in Malaysia.
Oh well, looks like the system that has been in place in Malaysia irks Datuk Mohd Noor Abdullah to the bone. He just doesn’t like it and can’t seem to be able to live with it. Unfortunately, what that irks him are all enshrined in Malaysia’s constitution and it is actually hard for it to be changed to suit him and his likeminded ultra-Malays friends. The easier way out is for him to migrate. Choose a country where he finds that their systems work in tandem with his belief. I am sure he will not find it hard to get one and with his talent as former judge, I am again very sure his new host to be will welcome him with open arms. 

Any sane Malaysian and all of us who treasure our good ties with our friends from other races will be very happy to see him leave. Malaysia has no place for bigots like Mohd Noor Abdullah and his like-minded friends. The earlier it is for people like him migrate to other country, the faster it is for race relations in Malaysia to heal, instead of its near chaotic stage now. So, Datuk, do let us know when you are leaving, especially me. I will sure give you a grand send off at the airport or any port if you choose to leave by sea or by land. It is not because I like you but it is because I just can't wait for people like you to leave my beloved Malaysia. 

Related link: 
Racist Dato’ Mohd Noor Abdullah’s unity book is a sham

How we can reduce express bus accidents


Too many precious lives have been lost to accidents involving express buses in Malaysia and each time when an accident happened, all too often, we will hear from survivors that it is the fault of the driver. From the survivors, we can sort of gauge what the driver did while handling the wheel and the lives of the many people that he is responsible for and here are the few very common thing the driver did before an accident – speed like he is in a bus race, chit chatting on the phone without a hands free kit, texting out messages and continuous smoking with only on hand on the wheel.
Since the time when Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik was still the Transport Minister, many ideas have been mooted for the safety of express buses including installing a so called black box at every bus but year in and out; we still read and watch on the news about gruesome accidents that involved busses. Each time when a headline catching accident happen, we read about calls from various quarters for SPAD to act, for JPJ to act, for Ministry of Transport to act until I can be 100% sure that if I am going to read about an accident that involved an express bus today, the very next day I will read about calls for SPAD to act.  
All this make me think, why don’t we empower ourselves to act? We can work together with SPAD and the bus company to prevent an accident from happening. Forget about asking the passengers to tell the driver straight to his face that he is driving dangerously because it is just not in our culture to do so. So, what can we do?
For a start, let’s make it mandatory for every bus company to have a hotline that works 24 hours and the number is to be make available inside the bus at a spot where passengers can easily spot. Next to it will be the 24 hours SPAD hotline number. Next, it should also be made mandatory that the information of the bus driver is available on the dashboard of the bus, just like what we see in the taxis.
With all these information available, passengers are encouraged to call either the SPAD hotline number or the bus company hotline number to lodge a complaint if they found that the driver of the bus that they are currently travelling in are driving dangerously or driving against the law such as speeding or talking on the phone without a hands free kit or texting while driving.
When such a call is received by either the bus company or SPAD, they are to give the driver a call immediately telling them that a passenger or some passengers has just lodged a complaint against them. If the bus company and SPAD are still receiving complaints about the same driver on the same route in the span of 30 minutes, SPAD should then send its enforcement officer or patrol police to stop the bus and conduct tests on the driver if he is under the influence of the drugs or alcohol.
I hope that the Ministry of Transport will pick up on this idea to empower the passengers to act if they felt that the driver of a bus is driving dangerously and putting them at risk. Sometimes, we do not need a grand scheme for something to work. We can start with a mini step that does not require much investment from the bus companies or something hard that will take ages for SPAD to work on. And the most important thing of all, the enforcement must be in place for everything to work.
Enough is enough. It is time to act.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Teluk Intan through the lenses


During my short trip home to over the weekend, I shoot some photos of the few places in Teluk Intan mostly related to food as we can’t talk about this town without a reference here and there for all the famous food that one must try. I also took some pictures of some colonial buildings in this once important tin export town, via the Teluk Intan port which is no longer around.  Teluk Intan also used to boast a railway line that connects it other towns via Tapah but the line was dismantled in 1992. 

Jalan Mahkamah alongside the Perak River consists colonial buildings such as of the old Courthouse, old Police Station and the still in operation HSBC Bank and Post Office. After a 90 degree turn, the iconic Clock Tower comes in full view.
WW1 memorial stone at the intersection leading into the town, lonely and almost forgotten.












The Old Courthouse
HSBC Bank, the first in town. 

The former police station, abandoned for years.

Post Office. 
I was told by the my father that mid-size tankers used sail all the way up the Perak River from the Straits of Melaka to unload oil at the Shell Depot at Jalan Maharaja Lela while barges will pick up smelted tin bars from the Chin Ho Tin Smelting Company also located at the same road. However, all these stopped in the late 80s and early 90s when tin lost its shine and the silt and sediments that build up along the Perak River made it too shallow for the tankers and ships to navigate. The Shell depot was then moved to Lumut.

The leaning clock tower - an icon need no introduction.
Finally, how can I forget my secondary school, Convent Teluk Intan that holds so many memories, and the St Anthony Secondary School that is directly opposite ours. These were the two top schools in town for the boys and the girls and any closer interaction within two students from these two schools will sure yield some gossips, or worse, an "invitation" to the disciple teacher's room. Ah...those were the days when we were expected to study, do well, excel in co-curriculum activities and lovey dovey matters can wait till we are more mature, we were told. 


To be No 1 in everything was instilled in us like brainwashing.
One of the two entrances to St Anthony. 
The ice kacang, cendol and rojak stall about 50m from our school is the favourite spot to hang out after school.
A drive in counter for punters - one the many funny things in small towns across Malaysia.
The pictures below are to serve as guide to visitors to Teluk Intan hunting for food: 
The famous Laksa stall next to former Rex Cinema.

Liew Kee Chee Cheong Fun, be here early to avoid the que.
Nasi Kandar Krishna
Tai Chong Seafood Restaurant & Al Fresco  

The place for Mee Rebus. Opposite The Store. 


Saturday, 12 April 2014

The nostalgic “chap chai”


I must admit that I do not know the origin of this dish but when I small young, I’ve heard it from the cook in my grandmother’s kitchen that this is very much a Hokkien fair. Some Hokkien call it “chap chai” which means “a mix of all dishes” and some call it “chai boey” which means “leftover dishes”. All my Hokkien friends know about this dish and professed their love for it but when I am in Fujian province in China, I asked around if they know this dish but the answer was negative, so I am convinced that this dish is invented in Nanyang. Later, when I started working in the Klang Valley, I heard the Cantonese call it “shun choy” which means “soury dish”
The pot of chap chai that mom prepared. 
Whatever that it is call, this dish along with a few others such as pig stomach soup with pepper, bak kian (fried minced meat with other minced vegetables carefully folded with a layer of oily pig skin), chili fish (pan fried mackerel fish stuffed with minced chili (sambal belacan)) and assam prawns are considered nostalgic to me and some of my cousins. It was the dish that we will always reminiscence.
No matter how well others try to do these few dishes, we will always think that the best is still those prepared in Chuan Joo Hin. Chuan Joo Hin is the name of the cigar and tobacco company that is that the core of my grandfather’s many other businesses.  Whenever we refer to that shophouse cum factory that also houses the family kitchen, we will just call it Chuan Joo Hin and it stuck till now eventhough that place is no longer in use.
I do not know what gets into my mom’s dish planning and cooking for this weekend but I am very delighted that she prepared “chap chai” and the chili fish. For so many years after we no longer go to Chuan Joo Hin for lunch or dinner, mom never cook most of the dishes I mention above.  However, dad still thinks that mom’s cook cannot match those made in Chuan Joo Hin. Over dinner last night he kept saying “this fish doesn’t taste like those from Chuan Joo Hin” and “in Chuan Joo Hin they don’t it this way, you are wrong”.
And today, in my heart I am saying “the chap chai’s broth is not as thick as those we used to have in Chuan Joo Hin. Besides, it was cooked in a big claypot on charcoal for hours, left it for overnight and reboil again the next day.”
It takes a lot of effort to prepare a pot of chap chai but that pot can be the family dish for many meals and for many days. Chap chai is made of leftover food, especially meat, from the past few days accumulated. It is then all dumped into a big pot added with ……………err….I must confess again that I don’t know the full ingredients other than dried chili, ginger, some stuffs to make it sourly and salted vegetables. I’m only good at tasting and eating. Duh!!
The chap chai that mom cooked for my dinner and lunch today is the first homemade one that I’ve ever tasted in years; 4 at least. As a child and later through my secondary school all the way before I left home for Auckland, whenever I have cravings for it, I will tell my grandmother and in a few days’ time, I know it will have it. Otherwise we will sure get this dish after some important dates such as Chinese New Year, grandparent’s birthday, after prayers to ancestors such a Ching Ming, their death anniversaries, the seventh month in the lunar calendar or after my elder cousin’s wedding because these are the dates that many leftover food can be collected to make a good pot of chap chai.
With this dish alone and rice, I can fill up my stomach happily for many meals and days on end. Chap chai is a food that brings many nostalgia to me especially my childhood and part of my teenage years relating to eating in Chuan Joo Hin, cousins and my grandfather.


P/S: Sorry to my Muslim friends, this dish is not Halal. 

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

MRT Corp shows its brainless side in relocation of layby in Mutiara Damansara


The construction of the Sungai Buloh – Kajang line of the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) has brought much anguish to residents and businesses that are affected by it. From the planning to the construction of the 51 km line, MRT Corp has been facing multiple protests ranging from poor planning to destruction of buildings deemed of heritage value to land encroachment.
The relationship between MRT Corp, an entity under Ministry of Finance and the rakyat can be summed up as thorny thus making the benefits of such project being covered over by anger and frustration. The way MRT Corp handled it business also showed that nothing can stand in its way despite multiple protests over some brainless plans throughout the whole 51 km that it covered. MRT Corp also act as if it is above the law so it can bulldozed its way in the name of providing better future public transport to the residents of Klang Valley. Resident’s approval and consultation while it is of utmost importance in other countries; it is a naught in Malaysia.
Jalan PJU 7/1
Under these circumstances, the residents of Mutiara Homes in Mutiara Damansara were not consulted and informed of the relocation of a taxi, bus and cars layby from its original location infront of Surian Tower to a tiny plot of land right next to Zone A of Mutiara Homes at Jalan PJU 7/1. It was only revealed to the representatives of the resident association, MUDORA and concerned residents of Mutiara Homes when they approached MRT Corp to get an explanation upon seeing the construction work taking place.  It is also being found out through various sources that MBPJ approval has not been obtained for the taxi and bus layby but MRT Corp is adamant that such a plan is FINAL

Piling work in progress on 9th April 2014.

The layby will be situated on a tiny 150 stretch of Jalan PJU 7/1 between Persiaran Surian junction and Jalan PJU 7/7 junction which serve as the main entrance to Mutiara Homes. It is also important to note that Jalan PJU 7/1 consists of only 4 lanes for two ways traffic while the plot infront of Surian Tower is much wider and more feasible for a layby. With this, we don’t need an expert engineer and traffic consultant to tell us that it is such a brainless plan to have the layby there for various obvious reasons such as:
·     Where are the cars, buses and taxis going to make a U turn back to Persiaran Surian from Jalan PJU 7/1 or vice versa?
·    Can MRT Corp assure us that all the cars, taxis and buses will not double park which will result in terrible traffic jam for cars coming in from Persiaran Surian and vice versa? (Bangsar LRT station is a good example of poor planning resulting in painful traffic conditions for users along Jalan Travers.)
·      Can a tiny stretch of 150 m be long enough to accommodate the number of buses, taxis and cars that are going to stop to fetch passengers even not during peak period?

·      Why should the MRT passengers be made to walk for about 100 m upon getting down from the train to get to the next transport when it can be just right below the station?
With all these in consideration, the residents of Mutiara Homes ARE AGAINST the construction of the layby at Jalan PJU 7/1. We want it to be moved back to its original location infront of Surian Tower. We want a stop work order on Jalan PJU 7/1 that is currently ongoing. Finally, we appeal to our representative, YB Elizabeth Wong and YB R. Sivarasa as well as Barisan Nasional component parties to help us solve this issue.  
The tiny and narrow stretch that of Jalan PJU 7/1
I have been living in Mutiara Damansara for many years and I enjoyed the tree lined streets, the tranquility, beauty and convenience of this neighborhood but of late, it has been a nightmare since the start of the MRT Project. I am sure many residents share the same sentiment with me. Let us work together to fight against the layby, if ever take place, it will permanently make our lovely neighborhood a congestion nightmare.

Original plan for the layby is infront of Surian Tower




Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Tecoma bloom in Yan, Kedah (江畔独步寻花)



真的春到人间,让我想此杜甫的一首诗 :江畔独步寻花


黄四娘家花满蹊,

千朵万朵压枝低。

留连戏蝶时时舞,

自在娇莺恰恰啼。

Thank you very much to Datin Adeline Lim for sharing these beautiful pictures to our New Movement Group Whatsapp. The beautiful tecoma flowers burst from trees near Sungai Limau in Yan, Kedah after an especially harsh dry spell in Malaysia for the past few weeks.  However, the brevity of the one to two week blossom season sometimes make me think of its symbolic reminder that human life is a brief as well.


Nevertheless, the government and the private sector can make good use of such beautiful bloom to start cultivating a new tourism segment in our country. If being done and executed properly, one day it can make it to the list of international fames such as tulips in Holland and sakura in Japan. It is also a long lasting project that will benefit and last for many generations to come.  Beauty awakens the soul to act, according to Dante. Let us all be awaken and start to act. 








Monday, 7 April 2014

Where are the private jets of Malaysian tycoons?


I am touched when I read from New Zealand Herald that the well-known director of Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy director Sir Peter Jackson allowed his private jet to join the search for MH 370 at Southern Indian Ocean.
Bought in March last year for 80 million dollars, the Gulfstream G650 with the registration ZK-KFB is reportedly being used to help facilitate communications among the flights scouring the Indian Ocean for any sign of the missing airliner
The makers of the Gulfstream G650 describe it as an "ultra-high-speed, ultra-long-range business jet" and it can travel from Wellington to Alaska without needing to refuel and can fly close to the speed of sound. Sir Peter's jet is managed by the international aviation charter service Execujet in Wellington.
However, Jackson’s spokesperson refused to say much except that Jackson does not want any publicity from this. Curious, I called an old friend in Wellington who knows Jackson to find out more and I was told that he did it out of charity. Towards the end of our conversation, I was appalled when I was asked, where are the private jets of Malaysian tycoons?
“Too busy fetching its owner to close business deals,” I replied jokingly.
“How about that Tiong guy who own two? What about the Lim’s? AK’s? How about the one who lend his jet to be used by Anwar and gang to go to Sabah and Sarawak before the general election? Isn’t this is the best time to do something for the country?” my friend digs further.
I was speechless but I am asking too, where are the private jets of our tycoons?

Sunday, 6 April 2014

My god daughter Isabelle


I have to confess that I do not have much affinity with kids. I felt disturbed when I hear them cry and I am annoyed when I see them throwing tantrum. I get impatient with the antics of some kids bullying their ever doting parents of grandparents. Once while en route from Narita to Singapore, I almost felt like slapping a boy seating behind me for kicking on my seat every few minutes despite me telling the mother off.


One happy family.
Fate has it that I meet Isabelle for the first time last night and I like her instantly. Or I should say our first meeting was when Isabelle was still in her mother’s womb. Then I was supposed to visit her during her first few days into this world but other priorities and busy schedule took over, delaying our meeting for almost a year although I met up with her mom Shanish occasionally. I was supposed to check out the Chinese name for her too but I must say that my Chinese is half a bucket of water that I am afraid of giving out the wrong name so it did not materialize.


Isabelle just refused to look away from the xiao long bao infront of her
Isabelle and I love the same food – Xiao Long Bao from Shanghai Restaurant in JW Marriott Hotel. Last night, she alone took a few. Out of the blue, I asked Shanish if I can be Isabelle’s god mom and she happily agreed but with the condition that I must supply little Isabelle with xiao long bao forever, duh! For a note, Isabelle’s papa, Yit Boon is a chef that specializes in making dim sum and xiao long bao so it I don’t think I will be having any issue with supply. And I’ve never felt so happy holding a baby and Isabelle is the first. Besides that, I didn’t expect I will be good at handling them but I did, making Shanish’s sister, Regine kept making that remark that my motherly instinct is all out – a body language that can’t be hide, though I am not going to budge from my philosophy of not having my own child. 


Instant affinity and liking
Welcome to the family, my lovely little Isabelle.


With Chef Wong, my "godfather"