Saturday, 28 February 2015

Why politicalize Jade Emperor’s birthday celebration?

The Jade Emperor 
I read and hear with utter disgust each time when matters related to religion and one’s faith being politicalized by either Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat. At the same time, I find it extremely childish when the caretaker or committee of a mosque, temple or church aligned the whole place of worship only to certain political parties. It is such a shame when these guardians of the house of their respective gods treat the place as if their own private properties and forbid those from different political parties to worship or take part in any events organized.

I had my first rude awakening in 2013, when some childish people took it to the social networking sites to pray to the Jade Emperor or Ti Kong ( 天公) on his birthday and wished for a change in government, from BN to PR. That same year too, I witnessed that political messages were written on Kong Ming Lantern, which is officially banned in Malaysia, released to convey the wishes to Jade Emperor. I’d always wonder; if I am Jade Emperor, will I be amused or upset that fanatics ruin my birthday with politics.

This year, I read with great disappointment when the DAP MP for Tanjong, Ng Wei Aik, took it to Facebook to politicalize and lament that he was not invited to the grandest event in Malaysia organized to celebrate the Jade Emperor’s birthday. Every Malaysian and even tourists know that the annual Jade Emperor celebration held at Weld Quay, Penang and Ng’s constituency is an eye opening and breathtaking ceremony.  

Ng wrote that the state government’s money, the Chief Minister of Penang and himself, the MP are not wanted by the Chew Clan Jetty Committee, which organized the event that saw the attendance of politicians from Barisan Nasional. Well, if the Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Ng, who so wish to attend the event to pray to the Jade Emperor, they should be able to do without being invited. One doesn't need to be invited to pray. The Jade Emperor belongs to everyone, not the monopoly of any political party, and nobody can forbid Lim Guan Eng and Ng Wei Aik if they wish to pray at Weld Quay or anywhere.

Alongside the shallow minded Ng Wei Aik, Chew Jetty chairman, Chew Hock Ean is equally the same, or some would say, a lousy liar. He claimed that no political parties are invited this year to celebrate Jade Emperor’s birthday and that he is not familiar with the procedure to organize the event. Nobody can fault him if he is not familiar but that is not an excuse to play politics with Jade Emperor’s birthday celebration.

Chew Hock Ean claimed that Penang BN Chairman, Teng Chang Yeow was invited because Teng is his best friend, okay, fine, you invite your best friend and there is nothing wrong with it. On the same note, he said that MCA’s Vice President, Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun was invited because her surname is Chew, well, that is fine too but aren’t Betty Chew Gaik Cheng, the wife of Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng is a Chew too? Why she was not invited? Worse of all, Chew Hock Ean’s bluff about the event this year being apolitical was exposed by his good friend Teng Chang Yeow.

The Star reported that Teng said he was approached by Chew Hock Ean this year and managed to get RM 25,000.00 for the committee from MCA President and another RM 25,000.00 from Gerakan President. Again, there is nothing wrong for donations from the President of MCA and Gerakan but with the disclosure by Teng, who can believe Chew Hock Ean that the event is totally apolitical?

The Jade Emperor’s birthday is a celebration for everyone regardless of political belief and parties. O Jade Emperor………I just wish that you’ll guide fellow Malaysians to vote out the people’s representatives that aren’t fit to be one in the coming general elections, regardless they are from which political party. 

Thursday, 26 February 2015

On this day in 2014 去年的今天

At Wat Mahatat on the grounds of Si Satchanalai National Park
On this day last year, my best friend and great assistant of nine good years, Pooh and I embarked on our annual holiday retreat to Sukhothai in Thailand. The 5 days spent together exploring the ruins of the Sukothai Kingdom that took us to countless of temples, climbs and drive around Sukhothai Historical Park, Si Satchanalai National Park and Kauumpeheng Phet are interesting and rewarding. However the trip also bound our friendship even closer and reaffirmed our great understanding of each other.

Off the beaten path like this will only happen with Pooh around - Ramkheng National Park 
Pooh is a great companion when travelling for she likes all to try all the new things and excitement while the not so adventurous me will need a confirmation from Pooh whether a particular new dish is delicious or a short climb is worth doing as well as many rewarding off the beaten tracks. I look forward for many more trips together with Pooh but this year, we may have to schedule our trip to a later date as her mother is currently in hospital after a traffic accident. I wish Pooh’s mom speedy recovery.

谢谢你 Pooh Pooh, 真的是一路有你。

Related article: Climbing Wat Saphan Hin

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

1961年安顺补选 Archived articles related to 1961Teluk Intan by-election

Hereby are some bits and pieces about the 1961 Teluk Anson (before it was renamed Teluk Intan) by-election that was forwarded to me by my friend as mentioned in my earlier blog to amend the mistaken names of the first Member of Parliament. The core issue back then was Chinese schools, and fast forward to today, it seems that the thorny issue of Chinese education is still lingering. When will the issue of Chinese schools ceased once and for all?















询以何以证明达立教育报告书不被全民接受,他指出,乔治市议会选举的结果可以证明。.... 1961.5.29 




Sunday, 22 February 2015

Teluk Intan’s MPs; setting the record straight

Yesterday, I received a message from a friend who is currently doing a research about Chinese Member of Parliaments during the Tunku era and their contributions to moderation with regards to an article I wrote last year during the Teluk Intan by-election. 
Both Woo Saik Hong and Wah Keng Jooi were each honored with a street naming after them.  
Today, most of Jalan Wah Keng Jooi is inaccessible to cars due to soil erosion.
In Everyone is nobody before becoming somebody,so is Dyana Sofya , I’ve written that Wah Keng Jooi is the first MP for Teluk Anson. This is an error on my part. The first Member of Parliament for Teluk Intan is Woo Saik Hong whom death is 1961 triggered a by-election on which MCA fielded Wah Keng Jooi, who was then a local councilor and state assemblyman but Wah lost to an Independent candidate, Choo Guan Hin. 

The seat was subsequently returned to MCA’s fold with Dr. Ng Kam Poh winning the seat in 1964 only to lose it to DAP’s Chan Fu King in 1969. From 1974 onwards, the Teluk Intan Parliamentary seat is seat that is traditionally being given to Gerakan to contest, under the Barisan Nasional ticket, and no longer MCA's. 

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Happy Chinese New Year 恭贺新禧,吉羊送福


开 运
心 转
得 乾
意 坤
财 万
星 福
到 来

Chinese New Year greetings and best wishes to all my friends. May the year of goat brings you thousands of happiness, abundance of luck, great wealth and best of health. Gong xi fa cai! 


Monday, 16 February 2015

“Happy to stay home for CNY”, do you agree ?

With much spare time with me more after the tiring week to Hong Kong and Southern China, I am now reading backdated newspapers as I hate to miss out anything published during my absence. I was reading Happy to stay home for Chinese New Year written by Dennis Chan, the deputy Money editor of The Straits Times Singapore, published by Sunday Star on 8th February 2015 when I felt as if I’d swallowed a huge bone accidentally.

Happy to stay home for Chinese New Year by Dennis Chan

THE re-emergence of the Year of the Goat signifies the completion of the full circle of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac since my younger daughter was born in 2003.

Differences in the Chinese Lunar and Solar calendars mean that while Chinese New Year falls on Feb 19 this year, the Year of the Goat kicked in on Wednesday.

Since 2003, the two girls and my wife have always accompanied me on the long drive north to my hometown in Ipoh to celebrate the Spring Festival with my ­parents and siblings. Yanrong was less than two and Yanbei barely two months when they made their first trip in 2003 and 2004 respectively. In this respect, both my daughters are seasoned travellers who can endure long rides without getting carsick.

This year, however, we are opting to stay put in Singapore as I want to spare Yanrong the discomfort of a long journey following a major back surgery last November. While I’m disappointed at missing the annual extended family reunion, I’m also more than a little relieved that I will not be jostling with the multitudes of people on the road during the festive season.

For this reason, Chinese New Year is often a stressful time for me. To miss as little school time as possible, it is necessary to travel during peak traffic periods.

Last year, we began our journey at 3am on the eve of the holiday because the previous year we were stuck in the car for two hours before the Woodlands Immigration Checkpoint. Traffic had built up from as early as 6am.

The unearthly hour headstart worked a treat as we cleared immigration in no time at all and reached Ipoh in about six hours. At its peak, the journey would have taken twice as long.

But coming back was a nightmare as we were caught in traffic at the Johor Baru checkpoint for nearly three hours.

To be sure, I shall miss my mum’s celebrated pen cai, a traditional reunion dish of braised scallops, sea cucumber, abalone, mushrooms, oysters and black moss. But that is no excuse for depriving myself of my favourite Chinese New Year delicacies. My wife, who is as stressed as I am over Chinese New Year travels, is glad we are staying home this year.

With fewer dishes to prepare, we shall have more time after dinner to soak in the Chinese New Year atmosphere in Chinatown. I have read stories of retailers clearing their STOCK of Chinese New Year goodies at a steep discount at the eleventh hour, but never experienced it myself. Maybe I’ll get to snare a bargain or two.

Yanrong and Yanbei are rather excited about the idea of midnight shopping – all they ever did in previous years was to watch old reruns of Chinese blockbuster movies on television and then try to sleep through the noise from sporadic firecracker explosions that reverberated around the neighbourhood where my parents live.

It may sound exciting as firecrackers are banned in Singapore, but I have found the inconsiderate and indiscriminate lighting of firecrackers deep into the night more nuisance than custom.

This year, my daughters can look forward to visiting their maternal grandparents on the first day of Chinese New Year. As they grow older and more independent, they are likely to welcome the chance to meet friends over the holiday period.

While this year is a departure from the norm, I reckon we are setting the precedent for a new tradition in how we celebrate Chinese New Year in the future. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

I just can’t agree with Dennis Chan’s lame excuses for not returning home to celebrate Chinese New Year with his family members in Ipoh.  While I sympathize that his daughter have just been through a major back surgery after being diagnosed with scoliosis, using her , traffic conditions, congestions at check points as well as midnight bargain shopping at Chinatown as excuses, I find the element of selfishness in him. 

There are now flights that link Singapore and Ipoh twice daily and even more flights that link Changi and Ipoh vis a vis KLIA, thus, traffic jams and grueling long hours on the road is no longer an excuse.  Bargain shopping? Oh well, everyone loves a bargain but is that more important that reunion with family members?

Another side of his selfishness and lack of tolerance is also shown when he wrote that: It may sound exciting as firecrackers are banned in Singapore, but I have found the inconsiderate and indiscriminate lighting of firecrackers deep into the night more nuisance than custom. 

However, what I can’t agree even more is that while everyone is encouraged to return home for Chinese New Year to be with dear and love ones, he is reckoning that by not going home is something very right to do and it will set the precedent for a new norm in how we should celebrate Chinese New Year. A new precedent where not going home for Chinese New Year with lame excuses is something that should be tolerated? What a crap! 

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Read this before you plan to buy a prepaid SIM card in China

For the past two months, I was in China twice, to two different parts of China – Shanghai and the Pearl Delta, and twice, I found myself at the receiving end of “right on your face” cheating by the Chinese when I purchase prepaid SIM card for mobile and data services.

The first incident happened right at the arrival hall of Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport. Less than 100 steps after clearing the immigration, there is a counter selling China Mobile’s Prepaid SIM card, equipped with English speaking staffs who hand out leaflets printed with the types of SIM cards available: from 500MB of data to 5GB, bundled with values of IDD calls and local calls for different price. Learning from bad experiences of buying from mobile shops on the street, I thought that it will be safer to make my purchase in the airport, which I then proceeded to purchase one that comes with 3GB of data with other call values which I’ve since forgotten for the sum of RMB 250.

For extra safety measure, fearing of getting 2G SIM cards, as with my previous bad experience in Guangxi and Beijing, I inserted the SIM card right there and then to be certain that it is a 3G SIM card and it works! However, 5 days into my stay in Shanghai, I received a SMS from China Mobile reminding me that my mobile data usage is finishing and I should be topping up in order to continue the service. I scratched my head, how could I be using almost up to 3G of data in 5 days when 1GB can last me a whole month in Malaysia. Besides, I was neither doing any downloading nor surfing the net as frequent as I did. A check by my friend revealed that the advertised 3GB of data is actually 0.3GB. It is outright cheating by the staffs selling the SIM cards at Pudong International Airport!

A few days ago, I was back in China again. Before departing from Hong Kong to Shenzhen, I asked a friend who was going to Hong Kong from Guangzhou to assist me to purchase a prepaid SIM card at the border to be passed to me in Hong Kong. There are plenty of kiosks selling various types of prepaid SIM card at the Lowu Terminal, the main crossing point between mainland China and Hong Kong. For RMB 100, he got me a prepaid SIM card that is supposed to come with data and amount for local calls. To my dismay, when I inserted the SIM card into my phone, there aren’t any 3G sign although the packaging clearly printed 3G by China Mobile. Later, we found out that the SIM card isn’t a 3G card but it is a 2G’s and totally useless except for calls.

Besides that, if you purchase your SIM card in Shanghai, you can’t do a top up at other province, you can only do so in Shanghai. If you run out of balance, say when you are in Beijing, then you will have to either ask someone in Shanghai to top up for you or buy a new SIM Card in Beijing. Apart from that, if you need any assistance from their customer service assistance and you are not in the province where you purchase the card, you will have to make a long distance call back to the original province. And this long distance call is even more expensive than IDD calls. China may send astronauts to space, have their own space station and planning to send a human to the moon but its mobile network's services will make one pause, thinking for the moment that one is being transported to some poor African nation. 

Not giving up, I head to another proper shop in Shenzhen to purchase another prepaid SIM card. Printed on the cover is a 4G card and to cut short the story, it was another cheat. I gave up and switched on my data roaming. Complaining about this incident to my friends in China, they lament that China Mobile and China Unicom, the two mobile providers in China knew of such cheating by the resellers of their prepaid cards all across China but refused to take action for it benefits both parties. Then I heard another lament that I am only facing the tip of the mass fakes and cheating in China where they have to live with daily fear of everything and anything that can be faked, from eggs to whatever you may name it. 

Friday, 6 February 2015

Ang Pow Tales (Part 2) 红包故事

Ang pow packets prepared by my firm for the year of Sheep.
Two days ago was a very busy day for me – preparing for Lap Chun prayer, delegating out works during my week long absence to Hong Kong, packing and a doctor’s appointment squeeze in between. In the midst of all these, I received a phone call from a not so close and cheapskate friend asking about the red packets printed by my firm to be distributed to clients and staffs. However, something crossed my mind to ask him why do he need the red packets? To egg him, I told him I thought he is a divorcee and based on his track record as a stingy and calculative man, ang pow shouldn’t have bothered him.

“My divorce is still not final. My ex still have not signed the papers so I can’t announce it yet to the world that I am a divorcee hence I am not obliged anymore to give out ang pows,” he replied.

“The papers are ready but she is only free to sign them after Chinese New Year. You know, how I wish to settle this as soon as possible so I don’t have to give out red packets and start receiving!” he added. “Nieces and nephews will still ask from me and you know, I gave each RM2 but that is still a lot to count when you have about 20 nieces and nephews and unmarried cousins.”

I made a quick mental calculation, oh well, that is like RM 50.00 the most but for this calculative man, RM50.00 is an enormous sum. “The cost of printing these new ang pow packets is almost what you, stingy man, is going to hand out. Get it from the banks or supermarkets,” I snapped before I hang up on him. A few minutes later, I received a whatsapp message from him which read “But I like the beautiful packets that your firm prints. Those from supermarkets are so common………” It is not surprising that everyone said his skin is as thick as the Great Wall of China and I wonder why he can’t just tell everyone point blank that he is not giving any.

I always like to tell friends that money and we, the mortals have very complicated relationship, for whether too much or too little; there are always two sides of the coin to look at it. Countless of kinships, relationships and friendship make or break because of money and it take all sorts to make a world. I do have friends who continue giving out ang pow long after the dissolution of their marriage. These days, there are also plenty of unmarried friends giving out ang pows to their parents, elder relatives and even the guards at their residential compound. I’ve been practicing this too and I see it as a way to express my gratitude. The law doesn’t state that only married ones can distribute ang pows and divorcee can cease.

As I am writing this from the comfort of my room with the colorful sea of lights from the Victoria Harbor to my left, I can’t help but to think of daddy dearest and the joy of receiving his ang pow each Chinese New Year. I know I will miss the thrill of it and the same requests year after year from my siblings and me that he must increase the amount to match the inflation. I will empty its contents but keep the empty red packets, not only those from daddy but those from mom and grandma in a box inside my drawer. And I never forget which packet is from which Chinese New Year. 

Further reading: Ang Pow Tales

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Lap Chun 2015 and prayers (乙未年立春及供神)

Abundance of offerings on the altar at home. 
Each year, Lap Chun (立春) or the beginning of Spring will fall on 4th February. It also marks the start of the zodiac year, which means that today is the first day of the year of Wood Goat. In ancient agrarian Chinese society, today is a very important day. The farmers will start to plough the farm; Emperors will embark from the Forbidden City to the Temple of Heaven to pray for a prosperity year ahead with abundance of harvest and mandarins and merchants will flock to the temple to pray for wealth, luck and health.

Without fail, each year on this date, I will change the Chinese New Year Couplet on the doors with new ones, replacing the old lanterns with new ones as well as the symbolic red cloth on my main door besides praying to the Goddess of Mercy at home. However, for this year and the next two more Chinese New Year, there will only be prayers at home as we are forbidden to have any celebration at home nor allowed to do any decoration as we are still in mourning for my deceased father. The mourning period will only be over after the third anniversary of his passing.

I have previously written about doing the “full offering” to Lord Buddha and other deities at home as mentioned by a senior monk which I’ve had the opportunity to meet when I was in Auckland. Continuing the tradition, I prepared the items needed for the offering, carefully laid them accordingly and after which prostate myself before the Goddess of Mercy at home to pray for an auspicious year ahead and for her blessings.

Further reading: The secret in praying during “lap chun”(立春供神的秘密)

Monday, 2 February 2015

Charge Ismail Sabri Yaakob with Sedition!

The time is now ripe for the Attorney General to prove his mettle that Sedition Act was not used just against members of the opposition party or members of NGOs that are not aligned to the Barisan Nasional government. After series of blunders made by the Attorney General with regards to the so called double practice and after Prime Minister Najib painstakingly explained during the last UMNO General Assembly on why the need for Sedition Act to remain, no other time is better than now to let fellow Malaysian to see that the government is walking the talk.

On his Facebook posting, Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob called for Malays consumers to boycott Chinese businesses in a bid to help the government to fight profiteers by using their collective power to lower the price of goods.

"The majority of consumers are Malay, Chinese are a minority, if the Malays boycott their businesses, they will surely have no choice but to reduce their prices," he said in a Facebook post.

"If they Malays do not change, the Chinese will take the opportunity to oppress the Malays," he further added.  

This is purely a racist call to pit the Malays against the Chinese, first by calling for boycott again Chinese businesses and second, by creating a lies that the Chinese will oppress the Malays.

Ismail Sabri Yaakob has probably run out of political capital for him to issue such a racist remark which is totally a shame to the Barisan Nasional government on which he is serving as a minister. His call has also reveals the weakness and the impotency of the government to control the price despite having Price Control Act and the Anti-Profiteering Act. Besides that, are the Chinese so capable that they can oppress the Malays which does not benefit anyone, and something which the Chinese is not interested in at all?

The rise or fall of prices affects every Malaysian, not just the Malays, and please do not use the Chinese as scapegoats again for either to cover the failure of the government of the day or to gain political mileage. Ismail’s statement is therefore totally seditious and I call for the Attorney General to act without fear or favor against this minister and to charge him for sedition. Failure to do so will only reaffirm the believe that Sedition Act will only be used for dissent against the government but racists and those that have the penchant to invoke racial hatred and who are aligned to the Barisan Nasional government have the “immunity” to do so.