Friday, May 30, 2008

District office to sell golf course?

I CAN'T imagine why anyone would want to play golf in the jungle of Kuala Lipis. It may be a novelty in the beginning, but it has apparently worn off. I stumbled upon this yesterday on my way from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Baru via the Gua Musang road.

The signage reads Empang Jaleh Golf Club, located within the Kuala Lipis district. If you take the Gua Musang road to the east coast, just before you reach Kg Badong, about 290km from Kota Baru, you can't miss it.

The signage says the club is located 7km from the main road. I turned in feeling very curious every step of the way. If I'm a true golfer, I'd have been quite upset at what I saw.

If the club is built by the district office, I'd be even more upset, especially if it was constructed using the rakyat's money. I hope I'm wrong, and if so I readily apologise. Spread over a large area in the jungle (one chap told me it covers some 100 hectares), the club is said to be tendered out soon by the Kuala Lipis District Office.

Does this mean the District Office owns it? Much money must have been spent to construct roads to the club house and the 18-hole course. I've not been able to get any information on the golf club, except that everything has been cleared out except for the club house which have seen better days.

There must have been a lot of trees felled when the course was built. Logging you say? I don't know and I intend to find out. The area must have been a jungle before the trees were cut and the wood sold.

If the property is built and owned by the district office, I certainly want to know what business it has in operating a golf course which is no longer in business. As I said, I hope I'm wrong. I can't imagine how much money was spent to built it, including very good roads which leads to the golf course.

A notice was also put up to inform everyone that the golf course is closed to golfers by order of the district office. I suspect the whole operation could have been a joint venture which is now fast turning to be a white elephant, hidden though it may be.

I also saw a small signage which reads 'Penjom Gold Mine' not far from the turning into the golf course. A couple of chaps whom I believed were paid to 'look after the club' said the army would use the aea for training from time to time.

Otherwise, the golf course is nothing more than a big hole in someone's kitty. I was told tender documents would be out soon but I can't see much interest in it. I doubt if we can discover our own Tiger Woods or Michelle Wee from this venture.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Jom lari ke Bt Jalil!

FREE this weekend? Nothing to do? Wanna do some charity and have some fun as well? Sure?

Well, I suggest you drop by at the MSN Training Stadium Bt Jalil and join others for an overnight event organised by the National Cancer Society of Malaysia. Its the annual Cancer Relay for Life KL '08.

The event starts at 5pm on May 31 and ends at 10am on June 1. Individuals can register with a fee of RM10 and teams can do the same for RM100. Monies are for use by the society to create more awareness about cancer nationwide. And yes, you get a T-shirt to show that you did contribute.

Pledges are also welcomed. Do call the society at 03-2698-7300 and make your pledges.

Anita Sarawak will be among several other entertainers who will share the day with cancer survivors and VIPs on what promised to be a meaningful and fun-filled day. Jom!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pakatan Rakyat haramkan Islam Hadhari

DUA kerajaan negeri yang dikuasai Pakatan Rakyat membuat kenyataan yang menggemparkan awal minggu ini. Kerajaan Selangor membuat pengumuman mengharamkan apa jua bentuk aktiviti Islam Hadhari di negeri itu. Ini diikuti pula oleh Kerajaan Pulau Pinang.

Pengumuman Selangor dibuat oleh EXCO agamanya, Datuk Dr Hassan Mohamed Ali manakala pengumuman Pulau Pinang dibuat oleh timbalan ketua menteri, Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin. Kedua mereka memberi alasan yang sama, iaitu Islam ialah sebuah agama yang sudah lengkap dan tidak perlu diberi label atau 'branding' (penjenamaan) yang lain.

Pengumuman baru ini sudah tentu akan menjadi tajuk debat yang hangat dikalangan pihak yang menganjurkan Islam Hadhari dan yang menentangnya. Pertembongan ini pasti juga akan mengundang debat dan pandangan dikalangan ulama Islam. Malah, sejak ia mula dianjurkan, Islam Hadhari sering dibahas di pelbagai peringkat.

Susulan pengumuman ini, soalan seterusnya ialah - apakah negeri lain yang dibawah pemerintahan Pakatan Rakyat iaitu Perak dan Kedah akan mengikuti jejak rakan mereka? Malah, apakah Kelantan akan membuat deklarasi yang sama?

Ramai yang menduga Perak, Kedah dan Kelantan akan berbuat demikian.

Apa pula kata penganjur Islam Hadhari? Apa pandangan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi? Mungkinkah Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, akan membidas negeri-negeri yang membuat kenyataan demikian? Apa pula kata mufti?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Keadilan on nationwide membership drive

GROUPS of young men and women, in twos and threes, have been going on a membership drive for Parti Keadilan Rakyat in recent weeks. An old Umno member told me that he saw these young men and women distributing forms and pamphlets at public events and functions.

Senior leaders of the MCA, MIC and Gerakan have been having small group discussions with professionals, academicians and opinion makers trying to get feedback and suggestions on how best to move forward.

After the massive defeat at the March 8 general election, the leaders realised that they better get their act together. First thing to do is to acknowledge their shortcomings and get some independent minds to identify the problems and suggest remedial measures.

The feedback centres around how voters view the BN parties. It's a perception game. The leaders were told that they were (in fact some are still) seen as arrogant, big-headed, rent seekers and very selective in their friendship. The BN were seen as insular.

The MIC, MCA and Gerakan have been having small gatherings seeking feedback and collecting data. Various reports are being compiled and some conclusions were being finalised.

As for UMNO, the party is caught in its own web of hiprocrisy and denial. Many grassroot leaders, especially at the branch levels, are still unable to explain to their members what went wrong at the pool booths.

They just couldn't explain why the party and the BN as a whole suffered such massive erosion in popular support. They couldn't explain why they were rejected. You and I may be able to do so, but grassroot Umno leaders just aren't able to shed light on the fiasco they face.

Those whom I met in recent days are even more confused at the state of the party, especially when their leaders continue to argue, disagree and do battle among themselves. Will this ever end, one branch secretary in his 30s asked.

While the young men and women of Partri Keadilan Rakyat goes on a membership drive, the young men and women of Umno are still looking for answers and guidance. Those from MIC, MCA and Gerakan are poring over datas and reports trying to piece a blueprint for the future.

One simple conclusion I make is this: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had asked Umno members to leave the party and return when its president, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, has resigned. Dr Mahathir won't get his wish, but those in Umno have to deal with dispirited rank and file who are unsure of their way forward.

I wonder how many of the Keadilan forms have been distributed, filled and returned to party HQ...

Friday, May 23, 2008

What about the thorn in the rakyat's flesh?

EVERYONRE is talking about the thorn in the flesh. This started when Tun Musa Hitam, one time Deputy Prime Minister, described his former boss, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, as a thorn in the flesh. The umno flesh that is.

This prompted Dr Mahathir to counter by referring Musa as also a thorn in the flesh before he quit his post as Deputy Umno President and Deputy Prime Minuster in the mid '80s. Dr Mahathir made this reference in his blog,

I saw a brief item on the TV 8pm news last night that Musa had responded to Dr Mahathir's reference.

Dr Mahathir also reminded Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Abd Samad that he (Shahrir) too had left Umno and stood as an Independent candidate in Johore many years ago.

Shahrir then responded, on the same TV news slot, that he had not quit Umno, but that he did not return to Umno after its de-registration and subsequent registration in 1988. Shahrir maintained that he never quit Umno.

Will there be a rejoinder from Dr Mahathir in all this? Will there be other Ministers, leaders, small-time or big-time politicians joining the fray? Who will call who what? What next?

My simple, everyday question is this - what happen to the thorn in the rakyat's flesh? In all the drama being staged in the Malaysian political scene, is there no one who can take out this painful thorn in the rakyat's flesh? It's causing too much hurt, and we are bleeding.

Examples you ask? Food prices have gone up. Food prices are still rising. You name it, and they are all rising at some point or other. Go to the market and you'll see what I mean. Go to the restaurant and you see the menu with new price list of food items.

The average Malaysian is bleeding from all this my Dear Tuns, Tan Sris, Datuk Seris, Datos and Datuks and what have you. Take a walk in the shopping walls and you see plastic money being used to buy clothes, food, and everything else. Yes, and petrol too.

If the powers-that-be can stop for a while and start helping the bleeding rakyats on how to make ends meet, then I say that the votes have been justified. If, after almost three months of the general election and we are still stuck with calling each other names and trading political punches, then what and where is our future?

Let's take five on this 'name-calling, I'm right-You're wrong' game and start paying attention to the issues of the day. Let's have some real leadership and take us out of this tunnel and point us to a clear direction for once.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Glorious Red Devils take Red Square

IMMEDIATELY after Edwin van de Sar saved the penalty from Anelka, Chelsea hardcore supporter Syed Nazri sent me an SMS - thanks for the good fight! Indeed, it was. In fact, it was a great game of two equals, displaying grit, skill and determination.

There was more than a dash of aggression too, as players played with no quarters asked, no quarters given. Both teams showed some raw passion as they fought for every ball, fighting over every blade of grass in the Moscow stadium.

In the end, Lady Luck chose to smile on Man Utd. Scenes of Avran Grant giving a comforting hug to his captain, John Terry, and Sir Alex Ferguson's arm in arm display of a victorious elation with goalscorer and penalty miss-taker Christiano Ronaldo, summed up the contrasting fortunes over a long and wet night.

Esther's text - YEAH!!! - was the last to come in as fans all over the world celebrated Man U's third European Cup success. Lawrence, the founder-member of the Original Man U Supporters Club, must be having his vodka soon after the final whistle.

To my mind, Chelsea could have been worthy champions too. They played very well, and defeated only by a slice of luck and the goalkeeping skill of van de Sar. Better luck next time Syed. And Bill.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mukhriz not riding shotgun with dad

I WASN'T at all surprised that MP for Jerlun, Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, didn't quit Umno to ride with his father and do battle outside the party he led for 22 years. It may not be a father-son sandiwara as seen by some, but it's a drama that has caught the imagination of many.

But I was somewhat surprised that Mukhriz repeated his call for Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to step down as Umno President and Prime Minister. I had thought that Mukhriz would not display his steel balls (pardon my French) so prominently by asking Pak Lah to resign from his post.

I thought that he would ease a bit and take a more subtle approach and try not to irk the party leaders too much too soon after the father dropped the Wesak day bombshell. Father Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and mother Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali announced their resignation from Umno in Kedah on Monday.

Mukhriz obviously wants to pursue his own battle within Umno. A political observer told me Mukhriz hoped to attract his father's goodwill among Umno members to be with him in the months ahead. After all, he is going to contest the Umno Youth presidency in the December polls.

That is if he is not sacked by the party first for making another call to Pak Lah to step down. There were already voices from among senior party leaders urging Mukhriz to heed his father's call to Umno members to leave the party. It appears to me that Mukhriz is not easily provoked.

I haven't heard many Umno members jumping ship to follow Dr Mahathir. It may disappoint the former Prime Minister. To me, it would be rather naive for Dr Mahathir to think that Umno members would leave the party just because he urged them to. Dr Mahathir is a master of mind games and we haven't seen what else he's got in his sleeves.

Some ordinary members from the rank and file may do so. But I doubt if those holding posts would just hand in their resignation and ride with Dr Mahathir into the horizons yonder.

Then again, Pak Lah shouldn't find comfort just because the members chose to stay and not move out. These members may not physically leave the party, but their hearts and mind may no longer be with the party leadership. These are the silent majority whose moves could undermine party leadership one way or another.

In fact, voices questioning Pak Lah's leadership were also heard on TV a few hours ago. Bernama TV's talk show, Hello Malaysia, held everynight at 1030pm, have guests being interviewed on current affairs.

This time it featured Datuk Nakhaie Ahmad, one time Umno supreme council member and an Islamic scholar whose views are often sought to help the party in Islamic matters. Nakhaie was asked by phone-in interviewers over many issues and he tried his best to answer them.

Towards the end of the programme, one caller asked whether Pak Lah has come up with a date when he would quit his post! I'm not sure if the question was triggered by Dr Mahathir's decision to leave Umno or was he echoing Mukhriz's call.

But the fact is, the ground appears to be more restless now that what it was a few days ago. Remarks such as 'duri dalam daging' (thorn in the flesh) describing Dr Mahathir have not endeared ordinary members to the existing hierachy. Even Nakahie publicly said the remark was uncalled for.

The events before us are still unfolding. Umno's branch and divisional elections which are due to start in July may see some manifestation of the restlessness that is felt on the ground. Dr Mahathir may have left the party for a couple of months by then, but his words would still echo in the background.

Tun M and Pak Lah to 'meet' in Tokyo

I UNDERSTAND that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who announced his decision to quit Umno on Monday, will be in Tokyo to attend an economic conference, the same one which will be attended by Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The former PM and his chosen successor will be in the Land of the Rising Sun sometime this week. I heard that both will address the annual Nikkei Conference, held to enable Japanese and foreign leaders to share views with businessmen and other prominent people on various topics.

I'm not sure if the two will share the same stage at the same time. Heck, I'm not even sure if the two would actually meet while attending the same conference. But I do recall that they did meet when they were in Tokyo at the same time a couple of years ago.

Knowing the Japanese, who never ever like surprises, they will be very mindful about the protocol involving the two. Let's see if the media covering the event will have any interesting items pertaining to the running feud between the two.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tun M's move may lead to some turbulence


Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali also quit Umno, going by the joint statement she issued with her husband Tun Dr Mahathir. The statement is posted on Dr Mahathir's blog,

The question on most people's mind - will the son, Jerlun MP Mukhriz, also quit? What next?


AS EVERYONE would already have known, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad quit Umno, the party he led for 22 years. Making the announcement in Alor Star, the former Prime Minister caused more than a stir with his latest move.

Several text messages I received today were full of questions and conclusions - would he form another party? Would others follow? Would his supporters decide to do the same? Will this weaken Umno? Will he be more critical and vocal?

I can imagine the reaction. There will those who will be aghast at Dr Mahathir's action and at the Umno leadership too. Dr Mahathir still commands much affection among Umno members. There are also those who view him in awe, besides those who view him with scorn and disgust.

An Umno chief said Dr Mahathir's action is akinned to a vote of no confidence against the party leadership, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in particular. The two men's spat has escalated to the point of no return, leading many to believe that their differences are far too deep to heal.

There are also those who are of the opinion that Dr Mahathir's decision would split the party, and they expect some big names to join him in this move to leave Umno. Will this lead to an exodus? I don't think so but the departure of some big names could dent the party's image somewhat.

Some conclude that this is a high-stake chess game and Dr Mahathir is risking his Queen to wrap up the game. Then again, some say that he's got nothing to lose, having been there, done that etc.

Can his move be seen as 'merajuk' or sulk? Again, I don't think so. He may be extra sensitive but he's a very calculative person - he wouldn't have done something like this without giving the matter much thought.

What will Umno's reaction be, in particular the top leaders? There will be statements expressing respect for his decision, regret that he choose to do this and the fence-sitters who will not say a word but will jump according to where the wind blows.

I don't think the matter will rest easy. There'll be reactions and counter reactions. There could be turbulence ahead, and it's best to fasten our seat belts.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Will MB Negri Sembilan contest VP post?

WILL Datuk Seri Utama Mohamad Hassan, the Menteri Besar of Negri Sembilan, make a bid for the vice presidential post in Umno? I asked this because I thought he hinted of this possibility a few days ago. Or at least, that's what the newspapers reported.

And true to form, a politician would not openly declare his or her intention to contest such a senior position at an early stage. The Umno election will be in December, and there's the branch and divisional contests that they have to cross first before the big one.

Branch and divisional polls will take place beginning July, and they will be the precursor to the main December bouts. Translate this into everyday political life, it means that hundreds if not thousands of hopefuls will be trying to retain their posts or dislodge the incumbents.

Mohamad is a member of the Supreme Council but his statement suggest that he could make a move to a more senior position. He was reported to have said that it would be good to see many candidates bidding for the post.

The incumbents are Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Minister of International Trade and Industry, and Datuk Seri Ali Rustam, the Melaka Chief Minister. Former MB of Negri Sembilan, Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad, won in the last contest but has since been disqualified after the party disciplinary board found him guilty of money politics.

Apart from Mohamad Hassan, word on the ground is that Umno Youth chief, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, is expected to make a bid too. He had publicly announced that he woiuld not be defending his present post in the party.

If Mohamad Hassan contests, he would be viewed as a fresh candidate, and could benefit from the present mood of change emanating from the ground. The former CEO of international automotive company distributing the Mercedes Benz, Mohamad may not yet be seen as a national leader, but the March 8 general election has no respect for such stature.

The momentum for change could push Mohamad through, though he may need to start making known his views on national and international issues. At the VP level, it would be important for candidates to be seen as having the credentials to be national leaders and not just chief executives of their backyard and states.

Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob is another name said to be eyeing the post. A few Cabinet Ministers are working on the numbers to see if they can garner enough support to mount a challenge. Don't forget that the incumbents too would defend their seats, unless they opt to contest for a more senior post.

Muhyiddin is keeping his options open but there's so much speculation about him making his move upwards. His statements and Press interviews have attracted much attention. Depending on which side of the political divide you are on, such statements can be very telling.

As for the top post, much depends on whether the challenger can get at least 58 nominations in order to qualify to try and unseat the incumbent. That, let me tell you, is not an east task. I'm not saying that it's impossible though.

In the coming weeks, every word or action will be scrutinised, especially by the 2,000-odd delegates who will determine national leadership at some level.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Alkisah - 3 isteri rela suami kahwin lagi

SEKALI sekala kita disaji berita sensasi yang menjadi bualan masyarakat. Ini kisah Mohamed Nor, 57, yang mahu bernikah isteri ke empat. Ketiga-tiga isterinya menyokong hasrat beliau. Namun hajatnya tak kesampaian.

Mahkamah Tinggi Syariah Kuala Terengganu memerintahkan Mohamed Nor untuk memberi alasan kukuh untuk berbuat demikian. Hakim Shaikh Ahmad Ismail berkata: "Pada pandangan syarak, mahkamah tidak boleh membenarkan permohonan ini kerana Mohamed Nor tidak berkemampuan dari segi kewangan dan usia juga sudah lanjut."

Akhbar melaporkan tiga isteri berkenaan - Wan Rukiah Mat Yusoff, 52; Kalthum Dollah, 39; dan Noraini Daud, 40 - menemani Mohamed Nor yang bertugas sebagai pemandu lori ke mahkamah untuk perbicaraan kebenaran berpoligami.

Isteri ketiga, Noraini, menegaskan beliau dan madunya rela akan niat Mohamed Nor. Katanya, mereka hidup bahgia walaupun dengan jumlah keluarga yang besar - 18 anak. Mahkamah meminta Mohamed Nor tampil lagi ke mahkamah dan membawa buku bank, calon isteri keempat, Suzi Sulong, 34, dan wali.

Saya percaya mahkamah akan penuh sesak jika Mohamed Nor pergi ke mahkamah dan membawa calon isteri keempat dan semua yang diminta oleh hakim. Ramai yang akan menunggu dan ingin tahu bagaimana babak ini akan berakhir.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

RM10k to see ManU beat Chelsea?

SO Man Utd won the English League. Again that is. Man U fans have not stopped gloating via their e mails and sms. There were some anxious moments at the JJB stadium and the sms that came during the match showed how worried these fans were.

These fans keep saying that there's a certain romance with Man U. In this case, substitute Ryan Giggs gave the Red Devils a story that legends are made of. To equal Bobby Charlton's record turnout for the team, and to score the simplest of goal that sealed the championship was a player's dream.

Now these fans are talking about the other big match in Moscos on May 22 - the Champions League against Chelsea. The Original Man U Supporters Club in KL is organising a trip to see the game for about RM10,000.

Mahal loh! Mana ada wang! The die-hards local devils argue back: "Once in a lifetime game mah! How many European Cup finals of one's team can you see in your lifetime? (I didn't tell them Liverpool entered the final and won it five times!

I'm going around to get my money back from friends. I'm not sure if there's 10k but will try anyway. Otherwise, I'll just make sure I have full control of the Astro remote on the final night! Rocky - sorrylah bro! Stokes have to wait awhile before seing any European action.

How harmonious is the BN bungalow?

WHO else from among the Sabah BN MPs want to give ultimatum to PM Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi? The latest is Sabah Progressive Party president Datuk Yong Teck Lee, his party being a small component in the national coalition notwithstanding.

The one-time Chief Minister also got the audacity to give the PM a deadline to "resolve Sabah issues." As I understand it, the main issue concerns the appointment (or lack of) Sabah BN MPs into the federal cabinet. And Yong referred to an "explosion" which will take place in January. This is reported in today's Star, but there's no elaboration as to what this "explosion" is all about.

Of course we all remember the statement by another BN MP, Kinabatangan's Datuk Seri Ghapur Salleh, who referred to the possible formation of another political party in the land below the wind. This new party can then decide whether to stay within the BN or opt for Pakatan Rakyat.

Wasn't Ghafur one of the Sabah MPs who declined to be appointed deputy minister when the PM announced his Cabinet? The east winds have been blowing hard in the last few weeks. Last week we had MP for Kimanis, Datuk Anifah Aman, who spoke in support of MPs crossing over to Pakatan Rakyat if the BN (read federal leadership) continue to treat Sabah with little respect.

Woh! These are big words. In some ways, I'm of the view that these words are meant to be self-fulfilling. I don't think they are meant to be taken lightly, which means they could very well invite counter views from fellow BN colleagues.

Already the Sri Gading MP Datuk Mohamed Aziz had fired back, arguing that these MPs should be careful when making statements. More of his colleagues from the semenanjung could join him in this war of words which could escalate if not addressed quickly.

The Pakatan Rakyat fellows are watching, and not without harbouring hopes that they could be the beneficiary if things turn ugly. Even BN members are itching to know how these skirmishes will end.

On the ground, wakil rakyats from the semenanjung have questions of their own too. Some continue to try and find the rationale for Cabinet appointments (Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, Datuk Maznah Mazlan, Datuk Amirsham Abdul Aziz to name a few).

Aren't these people questioning the prerogative of the Prime Minister in selecting his Cabinet members? If the government is to focus on combating rising prices, such bickering must stop, or else...

There's still much undercurrent within the BN 'bungalow' and I'm not sure if the occupants are all friendly and in harmony with one another. Everyone's watching and hoping.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Airline bosses and the toilet seats

EVER flown in an airline and seated next to its toilet? You can only do so if you're flying economy class. If you're in Business or First, the toilets are far away from you and you are spared the noise and smell that emanates from the small room.

I was flying back from Dubai two days ago and found myself seated next to the entrance of one of the toilets in economy class. It was a night flight, meaning I could have at least had a nap during the eight-hour flight.

Actually, I couldn't. I just couldn't get a decent shut-eye because, I soon learned, the toilet is the most frequented part of the aeroplace when its in the sky. And not all passengers close the toilet door after use. Someone else have to walk up and shut the damn door!

As I sat at seat number 30H, it made me wonder whether chief executives of airlines or board members ever had the opportunity or privilege of occupying such a seat. I doubt it very much. No real reason for them to do so anyway.

But if they do, they'll realise the discomfot paying passengers have to endure during such a long flight. The doors keep opening and closing; the sound of the flush is enough to make you squirm each time it's being used; the smell of the detergent is not all that pleasing; and some passengers have the habit of 'forgetting' to close the door after using the facility.

I say the airlines should just remove the seat next to each toilet in economy class. There is a curtain that separates the compartment from the toilet, but that's hardly a help. In fact, during the night, the curtain was hardly used.

Removing the seats won't be such a big dent to the airlines' revenue, I'm sure. To help airline bosses or owners decide on this, they should make extra effort to sit next to the toilet the next time they fly. In fact, they should disguise themselves as ordinary passengers and can then see some of the antics of their cabin crew.

Datuk Idris Jala - you game for this?

PS - While you're at it, check the earphones you give us for in-flight entertainment. I won't say more!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Almost no shopping for these ladies

OOPS! Not everything works all the time at Dubai Airport! I was pleasantly surprised when I could log in to my blog from my laptop earlier because the whole airport is wired. I'm now waiting for my flight outside the gate but not after having had to endure a long wait at the Check-In counter.

As it turned out, the ladies manning the counter couldn't print our boarding passes, making everyone tensed, anxious and somewhat agitated. Some passengers were eager to finish their Dirhams at the duty free shops and they were afraid they would be late. FYI, yours truly doesn't fall in that category.

The passengers, regardless those traveling Business or Cattle Class, suggested that the staff just write out our names instead of having have to depend on computer printouts. Nah! Can't do that Sir! We must follow our procedures Maam!

After about an hour of waiting and moaning, and just as one of the supervisors was about to instruct the staff to write out the boarding passes, the IT guys managed to sort out the mess. There was a rush for security clearance and passport control and then the high-spending Malaysians were off!

As we trooped to Gate 1 for flight MH 031, I saw my fellow passengers laden with bags and bags of goodies. Such is the grip Dubai has on traveling Malaysians.

Trivia - is KLIA wired all the way?

WOW! What a surprise! While waiting to check in my bags at the Check-In counters at Dubai Airport, Bob played with his laptop and presto - it's connected! No buying of wi-fi cards! Just log in and you're connected.

This is simply great, and typical of Dubai's image as a truly world destination. I'm not sure if KLIA is as connected as Dubai, but the experiences of my friends have shown otherwise.

I doubt if it costs a lot to wi-fi the whole of KLIA. In any case, isn't KLIA within the MSC? Maybe one of our telcos should look into this, in collaboration with Malaysia Airports and the MSC. Well...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Tourism needs smiling, helpful Msians

SALAM from Dubai! I'm mingling with the tourism crowd at the Arab Travel Mart (ATM), one of the biggest exhibitions and conferences promoting tourism, particularly in the west Asian reghion. Malaysia is here, with a big pavilion under the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board led by its Director General, Dato Mirza Mohamad Taiyab.

It's one helluva of an experience. Tourism promotion here is held in this sprawling purpose-built exhibition named the Dubai World Trade Centre. Accompanying Mirza are Malaysian hoteliers, travel agents and tour operators. We seem to be doing right because Mirza made it to page 2 of the Gulf Times, one of the Dubai's English newspapers.

I'm here as a representative of the National Tourism Council of Malaysia (NTCM). The NTCM is organising its own exhibition and conference in late July and we are doing some promotion here. Tourism Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said is here, as is the Selangor State Government exco for tourism, blogger Elizabeth Wong.

There's much to learn from the ATM. It's quite apparent that the government here invest a lot of money in tourism promotion. MTPB need to be here every year and create sufficient impact at such events.

Apart from Mirza, the Gulf Times also have a colour picture of Malaysian men and women in their traditional costume - baju Melayu and baju kurung complete with accessories. Elizabeth herself was showing off her embroided blue baju kebaya nyonya.

One thing is for sure - one has to be very creative in attracting visitors to visit their booths and stands. At the Malaysian pavilion, a lady from Kuching is seated weaving beads while an artist from Central Market concentrates on batik painting.

At the Moroccon pavilion, a group of young men played traditional drums at the agreed time while a couple from Brazil danced the salsa. Some pavilions had a running commercial on flat screen TVs. All in, the atmosphere is colourful. This is a trade exhibition and conference, and not meant for the public.

It is also clear that in tourism, money makes money. One has to invest big time in infrastructure and have first-class support services such as car rental, friendly hotel staff, knowledgeable tour guides and smiling Malaysians.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Fish food on MAS anyone?

MALAYSIA Airlines boss Datuk Idris Jala announced a low-fare scheme complete with the airline's renowned cabin service a few days ago. This is most welcome. For the moment, the scheme is confined to domestic travels but will be widened in due course.

At the rate people are travelling, and with such competitive offers from other airlines such as Emirates, KLM, Jet Airways and many others, it's a matter of time before MAS offer attractive packages for its international routes.

I was on a flight to Dubai yesterday to attend the Arab Travel Mart, an international tourism promotion fair that attracts buyers and sellers from not just the Arab world, but elsewhere too. It was a quiet and smooth flight, except for a couple of hitches.

From the galley, we were offered three choices for the main course. I chose the fish. Suffice to say, I've had better fish elsewhere. The smell and taste of uncleaned fish was strong that it was impossible to finish the dish.

A couple of ladies on the flight complained of the static or rattling sound coming from the headphones provided to watch inflight movies. They had to miss watching Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman's The Bucket List.

Other than that, the flight was good, with very attentive flight attendants. The cabin crew was really a helpful and friendly lot. I hope Idris can speak to his kitchen suppliers and demand some real quality food. There could be others who didn't finish their fish.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Selangor proposes 7-day week - go for it!

OF ALL the statements made in relation to Workers Day celebrations across the country, I find the one from Selangor MB Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim as the most innovative. Khalid said his administration may opt for a 7-day week at Government offices.

Specifically, this means the public can do business on rest days such as Sundays and public holidays. He said this when addressing a crowd at the Stadium Malawati in Shah Alam.

As a consumer, I find this as most interesting and worthy of deeper thinking and further study. Imagine - one can make enquiries or pay bills or lodge complaints or even hold meetings with State departments if there is an urgent need for it.

He can start a pilot project on this. Maybe start at local councils because this is where the rakyat have the most need. The MB shouldn't take too long to study this proposal. He should implement it within the 100 days he took office.

By so doing, the State Government takes flexi-hours work scheme to another level. If this is successful, there's no reason why other states cannot adopt the same plan. Innovation has already been seen in certain Federal government departments before this, which was introduced partly to improve efficiency and to meet public demand.

The Inland Revenue Department, for instance, is one of the most innovative by opening up counters at shopping complexes, thereby making it easier for the public to make enquiries on their income tax.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Dear YBs - be wary of the overkill!

IT'S now two weeks after the general election, and almost two months after the Federal Cabinet has been formed. It's been a roller-coaster kind of two months. For some, it's also been a very talkative one.

Talkative? Yes, I see a few of our ministers have not stopped talking from the day they took office. Scan the newspapers or wait for the TV news bulletin and they are there. Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai and Sports Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Ahmad seemed to be neck-to-neck in recording column inches and airtime.

Minister in the PM Dept Datuk Zaid Ibrahim too have been quite talkative, with frequent reports in the media, as do Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek.

The more experienced ones like Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Datuk Shafie Apdal, Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein and Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar also make regular statements but they've been at it for a long time. Therefore, they are less likely to be caught with slip of the tongue misquotes and other fumbles.

I do understand the need for new ministers to be seen and to be heard. This, I assume, is one way of telling everyone that they are on top of things, that they are busy at work. Which is fine and acceptable.

Zaid seems to be taking on a big task, one which is intended to have far-reaching implications. Ahmad Shabery's fresh attempts at reinventing his ministry and engaging media practitioners, traditional and new, seems to be bearing fruit though its early days yet.

As for the new sports and health chaps, they seem to be the ones most talkative. Being new, they may have a lot to say on matters pertaining to their ministries. I have one small, unsolicited advice for them - maybe it's good for them to slow down a bit and not rush into making media statements.

My reasons are simple - they have up to five years to make statements. Don't run out of ideas. After a while, the media may get tired of repeat statements. And if there's no real action after such statements, the very media that gives space may turn their back on them.

Of course there's the old reason for such frequent media exposure - overkill! My dear YBs, let's be sparing in making statemnets but make each and everyone of them count and meaningful.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

TV shows MPs at work or clowns at play?

CONTINUING the live coverage of the Dewan Rakyat is the correct decision, and Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek should be credited for pushing the issue. It's now up to his fellow MPs to act and behave as dignified lawmakers and not circus clowns.

When I saw pictures of Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin and Bukit Gelugor veteran Karpal Singh shaking hands outside the dewan, after trading insults and calling each other names earlier, my conclusion is simple - these are court jesters who were competing for air time.

I can buy the argument that they need not be foes outside the scope of their work. But to behave badly in the august house only to appear warm and friendly outside it makes it look a bit of a mockery, to say the least.

It's as if they are telling everyone: "Come on guys, we were in front of the TV cameras! We must live up to our reputation as fighters and champion issues passionately. It's work, nothing more than that. Once we are done, we are friends and buddies. What's wrong with that?"

Even PAS' wise old man, Menteri Besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, frowned upon such ungentlemanly behavior and time wasting antics. In the end, the substantive work which the MPs were elected to do was reduced to nothing more than a TV drama. An old one at that.

It remains to be seen whether our MPs can take advantage of the live coverage to show voters what kind of leadership qualities they have. There will always be interruptions to proceedings, but the manner in which these interruptions are made and the arguments raised when doing so are just as important.

More than just the behaviour of MPs are at stake in this episode. The minister's stand in wanting to set new standards in freedom of expression via the electronic media is also on the line.

Ahmad Shabery doesn't look like your typical Information Minister, caught in a time warp using tired and jaded arguments of information dissemination. After years chained to old ways, the staff of RTM suddenly found themselves freed of such restraints and now are trying to cope with the extra freedom.

Let's see where all this will lead us to.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Al-Fatihah for Tan Sri Nasimudin

Al-Fatihah. I got an SMS that Tan Sri Nasimuddin of Naza passed away in the US last night, according to his brother, Datuk Zul. The early morning SMS said preparations are being made to bring the body back to Malaysia.

I remember him when he was voted the NST Automotive Man of the Year a few years ago. He was a self-made man, an entrepreneur who made his way to the top via hard work and sheer determination.

My condolence to his wife and family.

Semoga rohnya dicucuri rahmat. Amin

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Perjuangan belum selesai?

The man moves to blogosphere. You can drop by at Anyway, welcome Doc!

Trivia - Kops singing the blues

SO Man U will resume its intense rivalry with Chelsea in the European Cup Finals on May 21, making it an all-English finals. Hardly the kind I like. It's no different than watching an EPL match, I think.

I saw Drogba's excellent and well-taken goal and went straight to bed. This morning I was told Lampard scored Chelsea's second, depriving Liverpool a trip to Russia. I sent an SMS to Syed Nazri of the NST who's a Blues fan, but he hasn't replied yet.

I've sent SMS to Sarban and Rashid but I guess they're still asleep. They are both Liverpool fans.

Will we see Chelsea beating Man U in Moscow, thus repeating it's feat a week ago in the Premier League? We'll see. I'll be watching the game fom my own director's box, sipping teh tarik and enjoying some nice kacang..

No cheers on Workers' Day!

AMY asked me a simple question this mornng - will the Government extend the age of the country's workforce to 58? Of course I can't answer her question, but she's not alone in trying to get an answer.

Many employees are wondering whether they can continue to work until 58 years old because of one simple reason - they need the wages to survive in today's very trying times. Amy's friends said today's cost of living is so high that they may have to work so many extra hours to earn some overtime to make ends meet.

A food caterer friend of mine said he's having a torrid time trying to survive. He said he could get ample supply of vegetables, fish, chicken and other items when he goes to the wholesale market a year ago. Today, this is no longer possible.

And he can't increase prices when he takes orders for kenduri, parties and get-togethers. His profit margin has been greatly reduced. He still takes orders just to tell the market that's he's still in business. Barely just, he said.

Life is very tough for many workers, and more so for self-employed people. A taxi driver I met a few days ago said he had to borrow money to change two tyres of his taxi after it failed the regular inspection at Puspakom. This never happened before, he said.

Many workers don't believe news reports that say the economy is resilient, healthy and continue to grow. Forecast that the country's economy continue to grow at whatever per cent means nothing to the majority of workers, especially the blue-collared ones.

Are you going to take part in the Workers Day celebrations, I asked Amy. "Sudahlah...tidor lagi baik. Kalau pergi, kena keluar belanja juga - minyak, parking, tol. Duduk rumah lagi baik," she said.

Hearing this, I didn't wish her Happy Workers' Day. Maybe it's better just to stay home rather than listening to empty rhetorics from union leaders and employers. And that includes the Government as well.