Monday, October 05, 2015

Manic Malaysians On The Road

I reproduce an article I did for my Saturday column in the New Straits Times in 2012. 

Malaysia continue to assume a reputation of having some of the most dangerous city and town roads. -NST  
Nuraina Samad

Sun, Apr 29, 2012
New Straits Times

When I obtained my driver's licence in 1974, the first thing my father did was to remind me to stay clear of motorcyclists on the road. Indeed, I feared knocking into any of them because as he would say, "You know, he could be the sole breadwinner of his family" or something to that dramatic effect.

I often held his advice close to my heart. Images of an injured motorcyclist sprawled on the road and his weeping family looking woefully at me would play in my mind. But heck, what did I know? I was just 17.

Then I, of course, wisened up. Over the years, I grew to be a bit hardened and a little less merciful to motorcyclists on the road. Steadily, most of them did not appear to be road users who deserved my undivided compassion.

Fast forward to 2012 and I still make sure I stay clear of motorcyclists. But that little reminder my father gave me has been somewhat obscured by the harsh reality on the road over the years.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam earlier this week disclosed that of the 59,897 accidents reported last year to the Social Security Organisation (Socso), 24,809 were people commuting to work daily, of whom most were motorcyclists.

These statistics represent only those reported to Socso which means that the figure could be higher because there are other victims outside Socso's radar. Besides, we all know there are many motorcyclists who do not have a licence and those who are underaged.

The report also found that 53 per cent of the victims were aged 35 and below which Dr Subramaniam lamented meant that Malaysia was "losing workers who were in their prime".

Dr Subramaniam also said that this had prompted the ministry to draw up a safety campaign to raise awareness and to reduce the number of incidents.

Clearly, this is all so worrying. But this is nothing new. Previous studies on accidents showed that motorcyclists formed the largest number of casualties.

I'm not sure what is deficient in enforcement of traffic violations because we get summonses for speeding, parking in non-designated areas, double-parking and other offences -- either from the police or local councils.

Yet every day, and this is no exaggeration, I am confronted with incomprehensible and dangerous traffic violations by motorcyclists. Every day. Beginning in the morning at the first set of traffic lights near my house in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.

Either Malaysians, at least Klang Valley denizens, are such a hardy, forgiving, tolerant and laid-back lot that they have accepted the shenanigans of motorcylists with a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" philosophy, or they simply go with the flow. Whatever it is, it is not going to help make the situation on the roads better.

We will not see the statistics on accidents easing up. Or have we forgotten that Malaysia has one of the highest numbers of road accidents in the world? Motorcyclists are the victims in accidents, yet most of them get away with murder on the road.

Let me just give a lowdown of the offences they commit everyday -- beating traffic lights, entering no-entry roads, making illegal u-turns in dangerous areas, speeding on any road, having defective tail-lights, not wearing helmets or carrying more than one pillion rider including children (especially in certain housing estates, Wangsa Maju and Setiawangsa come to mind) and the list goes on.

If scores of them have got away happily with these dangerous misdemeanours, then the message is clear to these serial offenders -- that it is okay to break these traffic laws. They don't apply to motorcyclists.

Malaysians shouldn't be blasé about this state of affairs. I know I am not. I honk at these inconsiderate and dangerous road users all the time.

Most of us who have travelled to countries where road users faithfully abide by traffic rules enjoy and appreciate the civility and safety on the road.

Surely among us are policymakers. Yet, we continue to assume a reputation of having some of the most dangerous city and town roads.

Have road safety awareness campaigns helped us in inculcating better habits on the road? Your guess is as good as mine.

I echo the sentiments of road safety advocates that enforcement needs to be stepped up and continually carried out. There should be no compromise.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Driving in the USA: Ikut Kiri, Ikut Kiri

This would be my second time driving a car in the US - in California to be precise.

Just like when I was in Canada for three visits. In Ontario, to be precise.

It is left-hand drive in both countries, in case you didn't know.

To be honest, it had been and is pleasant driving in both places - in Fullerton-Anaheim-Placentia (Orange County, Southern California) and in Toronto-Kitchener-Mississauga-Waterloo (Ontario) because basically motorists are not crazy, demented or/and mad. Particularly in Ontario.

In Mississauga back in 2010 when I first visited my son, Adel - I was honked at only once for blocking a lane I should not have been in. But ever so lightly honked.

In Anaheim in January this year, in an Asian neighbourhood - a motorist honked at me because I was driving a little too slow on a fast lane.
Yep, forgot the fast and slow lanes here are in reverse. But heck -- that happens in Asian neighbourhoods. Asians! Sheesh -- what do you expect?

And yesterday when returning back from Farina's place - at the traffic lights as I was making a turn. That was and is still puzzling. Was I driving too slowly? Perhaps.  Still -- just a single light honk. Not the rabid crazy Malaysian honk.

It is funny but I am quite nervous driving here and in Ontario because (generally) people are just so civil.

So used to the madness in KL? Perhaps...

Here, I worry - am I driving too fast? Am I turning too quickly into the next lane? Am I stopping too abruptly?

And the most recurring habit -- driving too far right in the lane. Something that spooks both Adel in Canada and Farina, here in Orange County, Southern California.
"Mummy, mummy ... you are too far right.. ", Adel used to say to me back when I was driving us around in Ontario. He was more nervous than me.  Then , I got nervous.

Here, hardly five minutes in the car and on the road, Farina said "ikut kiri ikut kiri, Kak Ena". I thought , at first, that she meant for me to keep to the left lane because i needed to make a left turn.

Then...aah. I was too far right.

I have until the end of the month to remember to "ikut kiri".

And if I forget, this will be the song with only two words that either Farina or Shaira will be singing to me as we cruise around the neighbourhoods of Fullerton and Anaheim or the Santa Ana freeway -

"Ikut kiri ikut kiri ikut kiri" ...

Remember, remember.

And Now It's 4...

Finally.... that moment came.  The Ringgit breached the RM4 mark against the USD, trading at RM4.02 yesterday.

I would usually react rather insipidly because firstly I'd be at home and spending in Ringgit and no reason to be needing to convert currencies and secondly, this came as no surprise.

This time, though, it is different because I am now in the US with my daughter who is studying here. I am concerned. Worried over what is to follow.

Early this year when my daughter came here to continue her American degree program at California State University, the exchange rate was hovering around RM3.81-82 to the USD.

Before I left on Aug 10, it was 3.86.

Sure, this will hit me as a parent with a daughter in the US.

But I have to say that I am a little fortunate because I actually was prepared for this.

Last year when preparing my daughter's departure to the US, I opened a foreign currency (USD) account back home so that any fluctuation in rates will not affect me. Yes, thank God, I did that.

Nevertheless, the concern is real.

But, we've been through this before. Thankfully, our prime minister then , Datuk Seri (now Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad handled it brilliantly, confounding all and sundry by imposing capital control and we not only survived but overcame it all.

We could have gone the Indonesian way if we had submitted to the IMF.

Most Malaysians who experienced that will never forget those trying times.

I do feel for those who are supporting their children's studies in the US. It will hit them, if it has not already.

I remember years ago when the exchange rate between the Ringgit and Pound Sterling began to make a sharp increase, some parents were forced to end their children's studies in Britain. Their kids had to return home.

I can only pray that we will overcome - yet again another trial and tribulation. How, I don't know -- I am no economist. But I was not born yesterday. Isn't this a cycle? Malaysia is not alone. So whether global  forces will come together to bring stability back or for our prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to come up with  a brilliant plan -- time will tell. Let's hope it will be soon.

We will see ...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sacking Muhyiddin as DPM - It's According to the Script

For many people, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's removal as DPM was not a surprise.

He had it coming, some party loyalists remarked.

Did he really?

Others, on the other side of the fence,  felt that Muhyiddin was just saying it as it is.

And  there were others who thought it was just a show because, for heaven's sake, Muhyiddin would never do Najib in.

Muhyiddin's remarks when officiating the Cheras Umno division meeting Sunday night had been met with shock, ire, despair, relief, excitement, encouragement from people - depending on where you stand in all this 1MDB- PM saga.

It created a raging buzz in and out of social media and cyberspace.
If you had been following all this -- and if you didn't, two things; either you are just so fed up or you are living in a cave - you'd know that it gets more murky and baffling and how much more,  remains to be seen

After Muhyiddin's remarks were made so public, people were all speculating that  he'd be sacked.

Because 1) it showed that he is not with the PM on all this and was only making things worse for the PM and 2) man, has he got balls to say all those things.

Of course, going by convention, decency and all that - Muhyiddin should not have said all that - according to some party loyalists.

They say that Muhydidin, of all people,  the number 2, should not feign ignorance, a confused mind, lack of understanding. It was bad enough that former PM and party president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad led the chorus of fierce attacks against Najib and now his own deputy.
That is the job of the opposition.

Read Dr MiM's HERE

But really,  if you followed what he said, he did not say anything damning. If he was not able to to understand the 1MDB controversy, well, that is really his problem.

He mentioned Deputy Finance Minister 2 Datuk Husni Hanadzlah and Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan having explained the issue to their colleagues but had still left him in the dark. Which is odd because Rahman, it seems, did a good job of explaining it.

Meanwhile, Tan Sri Gani Patail has had his services terminated on health grounds effective yesterday. He is replaced by federal court judge Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali.

Asked to confirm this, Gani said he did not resign but "they terminated" his services.
Gani is leading the task force investigating allegations against 1MDB. It looks like he no longer is.

Others in the team are Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Zeti Aziz, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed.

Now, this is all going to be an explosive subject for speculation.

Gani has about 2 months more before retirement, I believe. So the questions people are asking -- why -- does Gani know something and about to do something? Is he really not well? And, of course, the task force is now under scrutiny.

Gani, it seems, needs dialysis treatment but is not a diabetic.

Meanwhile PM Najib explains the reason for dropping Muhyiddin which he said was a tough decision for him but he needed the Cabinet to be united.

I can accept difference of opinion but as a cabinet member one cannot do it in a public forum as it can create public misconception. This also affect the concept of collective responsibility,” he said when announcing the new Cabinet line-up here on Tuesday. 
Najib added that the reshuffle was also to strengthen the lineup before the 14th general election.
He said the decision to go ahead with the reshuffle took into account the political scenario and was in the best interest of the administration.
“This ensures that my administration remains committed and focused on development as promised by the Barisan Nasional government in the last general election,” he said in his speech.
He added that the Cabinet should act as a team under all circumstances. - The Star

Umno vice-president and Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi replaces Muhyiddin as DPM. Muhyiddin who also lost his Education portfolio is replaced by Datuk Seri Mahadhir Khalid.

Muhyiddin, in an immediate response to his sacking, said he accepted the PM's decision to drop him from the Cabinet and thanked him for the opportunity to serve the government. He also said he will remain loyal to Umno.

"Kecuali dalam isu 1MDB, saya mempunyai prinsip dan pendirian saya sendiri dalam mempertahankan hak rakyat, namai baik parti dan kepentingan negara. Jika kerana pendirian saya dalam isu ini menyebabkan saya digugurkan daripada kabinet maka saya redha.

Saya akan sentiasa setia kepada perjuangan UMNO. Sebagai Timbalan Presiden UMNO, saya akan terus melaksanakan amanah yang telah dipertanggungjawabkan kepada saya dan mencurahkan khidmat bakti saya demi memperkukuhkan parti serta mengembalikan keyakinan orang Melayu dan rakyat kepada UMNO.
Kepada Allah saya berserah."

From now, my friends, it's Que Sera Sera. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Salam Aidilfitri

Let me wish everyone a blessed Hari Raya. Hope for a lot of positivity this Aidilfitri. A silver lining, perhaps.

For those heading back to kampung, have a safe journey. Berjaga-jaga di jalan raya. Malang tak berbau, you know.

And those here in the Klang Valley -- stay safe.

Above all -- have a glorious celebration.

The significant of Eid

A Confession - Lester Melanyi's

Here's the first part of the video of Lester Melanyi - former editor of Sarawak Report - confessing to the bad things SR had been doing.

This has got to do with forged documents about 1MDB and PM Najib Razak.

Check it HERE at Rockys Bru.

I don't want to go into details except that I find SR rather jahat. When your objective is to bring down a government by spreading a lot of lies, you mut be ..well ..what can I say without being rude.

YOU don't have to believe him, that 's your right.

I would keep an open mind.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

1MDB Money In Najib's Bank Account - True? Not True?

And that is the question I can safely say everyone wants to know. At least that is a lot fairer than already condemning the Prime Minister of stealing money and dumping it into his personal account.

It is a also a question former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who had already admitted to being the man behind the crisis (in response to Datuk Seri Najib Razak's finger-pointing him) wants the prime minister to just say it.

Tun told the BBC in an interview published on its website that Najib should just reveal his bank accounts to disprove the allegations.

Yes. As easy as that. Show us all your accounts, Mr prime minister.

But you and I know that Najib is not about to do that. But does his reluctance mean that he's got something to hide. Or that he has this "why should I?" feeling because his bank accounts are after all, confidential.

Do the current circumstances change that?

I have no idea.

Should he reveal his bank accounts just because people want to know because The Wall Street Journal has published some flow chart of  funds going into the bank account of one Mohd Najib Adb Razak?

There is a lot of debate going on about this. But for sure, in the court of public opinion, the prime minister is already guilty.

This is the first time in the history of our country that a prime minister has been accused by a newspaper to have .. well to put it plainly -- stolen public funds.

The prime minister is facing the worst time of his premiership. The party he leads is surely divided.
When Umno is troubled, it has a splinter effect on everything else.

Whatever the outcome of this,  it cannot be good. It already is so ugly and to can only get uglier and more unpleasant.

The task force investigating this comprise Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Zeti Aziz, Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail, IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief Tan Sr Abu Kassim Mohamed have already closed 6 accounts of banks linked to the case.

There are just so many speculations about the 1MDB funds allegedly deposited into Najib's personal bank account. And nothing is clear. So nebulous. Yet, the deeper we go into it, the more frightening the picture gets.

How this is going to be played out remains to be seen. But one thing for sure, it will not have happy ending. Because it has come to this.

 Do read  Rocky's Bru HERE on the veracity of The Wall Street Journal's documented evidence.

And JebatMustDie who thinks Najib's lawyers sent a pathetic letter to WSJ HERE

So whether there exists that personal bank account with that amount of money or not -- that is not the question. Because whether there is or not, the implications are severe and serious.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Mara Controversial Melbourne Property Deal : 2 senior Mara Inc officials Suspended

In the wake of investigations into the controversial property deal by the Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) in Melbourne, Australia,  the Mara council suspended two Mara Inc Sdn Bhd senior officials from duty with immediate effect.

They are its chairman Datuk Mohammad Lan Allani, 59 and its CEO Datuk Abdul Halim Rahim, 54.
Announcing this yesterday, Mara chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa said this was to facilitate investigations and for it to be done in a transparent manner.

He pointed out that this did not mean that Mara had found wrongdoings by the two.

Mara has appointed audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct a thorough audit.

Wouldn't you think that this is the right move and a good one?

Apparently not,  according to some people. Why only them? Why not the entire board? After all, didn't the purchase of the Melbourne property go through the necessary procedure and process?

I suppose there is no pleasing everyone.

This is a serious matter and may open up a very old can of worms. Maybe not.

So, let the investigations carry on because we all want to know the truth. Mara, for many Malays and bumiputera is an institution close to their hearts because it has helped legions of young Malays and bumiputera in academic, vocational and skilled education and others in the community opportunities in businesses. Through Mara's help, thousands have come a long way - many from rural and remote areas.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Keeping Cool on Hot Ramadan Days

Fifteen days now. And it has been a real hot and dry Ramadan. So hot that people needed to have their cooling machines on all day and night,  overloading power supply in my neighbourhood, causing power failure in some homes earlier this week.

Lucky those who can remain in cool indoors.

I drive past the MRT construction site almost everyday and watch the workers toiling under the scorching sun and wish that I can magically turn the hot day into a lovely fall afternoon.

It's been so hot and probably on quite the plus side that I don't need to turn my water heater on because the water is warmed but the heat of the day.

Mornings are so hot that we make sure we hang out our laundry to dry and before noon, we can be sure it's all done.

I am sure there are so many like me who love this month of the year. I know we are supposed to do good but we are after all mere mortals and are always bound to get careless. But during Ramadan, we consciously try to not curse, swear, lie, gossip and all those things humans indulge in in their everyday life.

Which actually is not hard to do because we are just too tired to be talking or get distracted.

This listlessness is also good for feuding politicians and to an extent their supporters although you do get to read the subtle "attacks" in the form of quotes of some historical or iconic personalities.

Sometimes, resistance ain't that easy.

Still, you can say it that on the feud of local politics, the temperature has been turned down. So much so that the quirks and madness of one Azwan Ali and a local steak restauranteur make for interesting cyberspace read. 

That's for another entry.

So, on such hot Ramadan days, not a bad go at keeping cool.

Salam Ramadan, everyone.

Cuba Wins WHO certification for success in elimination mother-to-child HIV & Syphilis Transmission

Read this in the NYT. We used to hear a lot of terrible things about Cuba, courtesy of the evil US, of course. And then the internet came and we get to see and hear the other Cuba. And then Cuba opened its doors to the citizens of the world and other governments. 
A Malaysian team of medical researchers were there a few years ago and spoke of how well it provided health care for Cubans and how advanced its research in tropical diseases was. 
So, yeah. Go, Cuba!
Here's the NYT article.
Cuba became the world’s first country on Tuesday to win World Health Organization certification that it had eliminated mother-to-child transmission of both H.I.V. and syphilis. Despite its poverty, Cuba provides basic health care to all citizens. Since the 1980s it has successfully suppressed its H.I.V. epidemic, initially through forced quarantine and, since 1993, by widespread testing and treatment.
It was congratulated on Tuesday by the heads of the W.H.O. and Unaids, the United Nations AIDS-fighting agency.
However, the W.H.O. allows countries that achieve only 95 percent of elimination targets to be certified; in 2013, five Cuban babies were born with H.I.V. or syphilis. Cuba was the first country to request the certification, according to a spokeswoman for the Pan American Health Organization, the W.H.O.’s Western Hemisphere branch.
More than 20 others have since asked, she added, and those next in line are Bulgaria, Moldova, Turkmenistan and Thailand.