Monday, May 6, 2013

Malaysia 13th General Elections - Time for reflection

Although the party I was rooting for did not win, but these are things I am grateful for:

1) A political awakening of the entire nation. 
We, from the young to the old, took a great interest in the politics of the country, realising its impact on ourselves, our children, our friends, our fellow citizens. 

There were less fence-sitters, and more who backed either parties for their own reasons. Malaysians who are overseas also followed the country's progress with their noses glued to their computer screens.

Which other country can boast this?

2) Malaysians were more patriotic than ever
Never have I felt more love and hope for this country. Never have there been a 85% turnout to vote because they cared and realised that they could make a difference. Never have the people speak of the country with such glowing praises - rich in resources, culture, beauty and diversity - that makes it worth fighting for. For the first time in my life, I felt so lucky to be a Malaysian.

How many other countries can boast this?

3) The emergence of great leaders
We saw the emergence of sincere, competent and young leaders from both parties. The kind of people that make you think "Here stands a man/woman who can lead me".
It brought out the true colors, as only challenges can, from both parties and we can start to filter out the capable from the incapable, competent from the incompetent, sincere from the insincere.

What other countries have so many diamonds in the rough?

4) The emergence of great citizens
Our rakyat were willing to sacrifice hours of their time and comfort to vote, to monitor the polls from morning till morning, to stand up against the FRU because they feared illegal ballots, to stand guard places where they feared illegal voters. I've never thought like this before, but our raykat is awesome!

What other countries consist of great people like ours?

And though I am heartbroken about the results, I am grateful for the experience of the last few months. Our country is great, and I can now say that from the bottom of my heart.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Malaysia's 13th General Election (Part 2)

Campaigning has reached a fevered pitch. The rakyat is highly strung. Arguments break out between friends: those who decided not to vote are chastised, those who back different parties have their relationship strained.

Me, I've been so obsessed with the elections proceedings that it has consumed my days. I can't concentrate on much else. I've never felt so well-informed about Malaysian politics like now.

Some of the important facts that I feel every voter should know, but may not know:

1) BN has been buying out huge amounts of advertisements using the Prime Minister Department's budget (we've all been inundated with their printed and virtual ads, banners, posters, smses, letters, phone calls, etc). Know that this budget is taxpayer's money intended for administrative uses, for the running of the country, NOT for any political party's campaigning. Najib has no right to use the PM dept's funds as a personal piggy bank.

So, basically, right now WE are paying for ads to ask OURSELVES to vote for BN. By right, political parties must raise their own funds from the public. Alternatively, to avoid any political party to be indebted to any donor, the government can fund a set amount of campaigning money to each political party, which they cannot exceed, so that every party has equal chance of exposure.

2) Hudud law cannot be implemented so easily. Look, Hudud is the punishment mandated by Islam, an instruction from Allah. Asking any of the Islam members of PAS whether they want to implement Hudud is really trapping them in a corner. They cannot deny this commandment from God; it will be like asking the Christians to deny the 10 Commandments. But do you really think the rest of Parliament will allow the Hudud to be a part of our punishment system? I seriously doubt it and I doubt PAS has any delusions about it either.

In fact, having a religious component in Pakatan Rakyat may not be such a bad idea, to keep them on the straight and narrow. Tok Guru actually told Anwar that his imprisonment should not be a reason for revenge, but as a lesson. If you become a leader, Tok Guru advised, remember how it feels like to be wrongly accused and oppressed. And you must fight so that none of the rakyat will have to go through that. Sage words from a wise religious leader.

3) May 13 will not happen again. People are better off and more well informed compared to 1969. There were hooligans trying to cause trouble during this campaigning period, but they were largely ignored. There has been no significant fights or confrontations despite the intense emotions felt by the people leading up to the elections. Give ourselves some credit - we are smarter now.

The army is under the command of the Agong, who has given strict instructions to both sides that no matter which party emerges the winner, peace must be maintained. So, just celebrate or mourn at home. If anyone tries to create trouble, KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON!

4) BN may have held more seats in Parliament after the 2008 elections, but the votes garnered by the government and the opposition was almost 50-50! Which means half the country did not want BN to rule. So, why doesn't BN and the Opposition hold almost equal number of seats in the Parliament?

Well, a citizen actually drew a pretty graph to explain it:

I'll try to explain it simply:
Each constituent votes for one representative to send to Parliament. The party which majority of the representatives belong to will form the government.

In the graph, the vertical axis shows the total number of voters in that constituency in the 2008 elections. Red bars are constituencies won by PR, and blue by BN. Most of PR's constituencies have larger number of voters and BN has less, which gives BN more parliament seats with less votes.

For example, the Putrajaya seat won by BN consist of less than 10 000 voters. In Kapar, won by PR, there are about 110 000 voters. This is very wrong, because the voters in Putrajaya are 10 times more powerful than the voters in Kapar. In a fair, democratic country, this graph should be more or less level. At the time of Merdeka, the rule was that the number of voters in any constituent should not exceed or be less than 15% of the average, so that each Parliament member represent equal number of the rakyat. Since then, this rule has gone to hell and beyond (*cough* gerrymandering!)

But, what BN may think is their advantage may also be a disadvantage. For if it was easy for them to obtain that seat, it will also be easy for PR to swing it their way. For instance, in Putrajaya, they'd need only to convince about 6000 voters and they can wrestle that seat away from BN.

Another interesting thing to note is that to conduct a delimiting exercise to correct the ratio of voters to constituents, the bill must be passed in Parliament and this requires a two thirds majority in agreement.

5) The aim is not to allow Pakatan Rakyat to become the next Barisan Nasional. For a government to function well, there must be a two party system, whereby there are two strong parties who can each effectively govern. Depending on what either proposes to the rakyat, we will make our decision on which proposal is the best to govern us for the next 5 years. Albert Eistein said, "Diapers and politicians must be changed often, and for the same reason." How true! Power corrupts, and when a single party has been in power for too long, it can only go to shit. 

In the past, there may not have been an Opposition party capable of governing, but today, I believe we do. So, give the Opposition a chance to govern for the next 5 years while BN fix their internal problems of corruption and incompetent leaders. Perhaps it is difficult to govern while fixing your shit. Why not take a break? Then, by the time the 14th Election rolls around, BN may become the worthy Opposition and may even be reelected - Malaysia will then have the ideal two party system which keeps each other in check and on their toes. 

6) "Life under BN is okay what"...but for how long? 
Every million that has been siphoned out of the country (and the amount is critical, based on official reports by international bodies) could have been used to develop our education, transportation, healthcare and social welfare systems.

Take highway tolls for example. Under the current government and privatisation scheme, private corporations build these highway and collect tolls. Did you know that the government gave them funding to build these tolls? This defeats the purpose of privatisation which is intended for when the government lack funds to build important infrastructures and need help from private corporations. Since the government had the money anyway, they should have just built the highways themselves and let the rakyat use it for free (well, essentially, it's our tax money that paid for it, so we already paid for it). So, what has happened is that we, the tax payers, paid to build the highway, and now we are paying some more to use it.

Presently, these corporations continue collecting toll money for decades beyond what they should have and made many times the profits that they should have. The government is helping certain people to pocket a lot a lot of money. 

According to the agreement, the government need only to pay these corporations their cost incurred in building the highways to 'buy it back'. This amount is not much, since the government funded most of the building cost anyway. So, Pakatan Rakyat intends to pay off this amount and abolish tolls. Super!

So, my point is that, yes, life under BN may be okay what. But imagine how much better it could be if we had a less corrupted and more competent government.

Well, elections is only 4 days away. Previously, I was sure that BN will be reelected. But seeing the fervour of support for PR during the 1 and half week of campaign, there may be hope. So, yes, I may still cry on my birthday. But there is also a chance now that I may cry because I am happy.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Malaysia 13th General Elections

The day that I've been waiting for for 5 years is upon us. 5th May. My birthday.
I still believe that Malaysia must see a change in government; I feel it even more strongly now than 5 years ago. Though generally the urban rakyat feels the same, there is some lingering doubts floating around. I've been having deep conversations with myself on why I should vote with confidence for the Opposition when the day comes. So here, written down, are my answers to myself:

Why bother voting. BN's going to win anyway.

A single grain can tip the scale. Every vote counts, even if it's simply to deny them two thirds majority. The Opposition needs a stronger voice in the parliament, to act as a check and balance.
I also firmly believe that if you do not vote, you have no right to complain about any dissatisfaction towards the governance of the country. You gave up the right to complain when you didn't exercise your right to vote.
And if some are refraining from voting because you want to take a neutral stand, you're not really neutral at all. When you don't say 'nay', you are acquiesing and that equals a 'yay'.

Vote the party or the person? (my mum's question to me)

I would vote the party because:

  • I want to deny BN the two thirds majority. I'd even vote for PAS if that was my only option besides BN.
  • I agree with PR's policies more than BN's: BN governs by race; PR less so. Yes, there is PAS which is religion driven, but they and DAP and PKR have put aside their differences, and focused on mutual goals, which is the betterment of the country as a whole without taking account of race.
  • Yes, BN has done good for the country as well. But a quick google search showed me that "BN did this-and-that for the Chinese/Indians/Malays/lain-lains". Governance by race is a big no no if our goal is true unity.
  • Besides, is there any able BN members? Well, besides Michael Chong who does a smashing good job of helping people and bringing attention to the individual's plight.

Anwar as PM?

If PR wins, most likely Anwar will be elected as PM. Do I want him to lead the country? Not really. But if the alternative is Najib, I'll take Anwar any day.

Yes, Anwar may be motivated by vengence, but I believe he is smart enough to know that if Malaysians can change their government once, they can do it a second time. So, he can have his revenge and usurp BN, but he had also better do a good job or he's out the following election.

Anwar is also a commoner, like any other rakyat. Najib has lived his life in an ivory tower. How do you govern people without even once walking in their shoes? Great emperors of Chinas would disguise themselves to live and work as the common folks, to truly understand the suffering of the people. I'd like to see Najib and Rosmah try to live on RM3000 a month.

If I had it my way, I'd choose LGE as PM. But a Chinese PM for Malaysia? That will only be a reality when we stop governing by race (as mentioned above). When LGE was attacked by some for not awarding state government contracts to the Malays, it was the Malays themselves who stood up for LGE because the truth was that deserving Malays were awarded the contract, not UMNO cronies.

Although there was no quota that dictated certain percentage of the tenders should go to the Malays (the quota practice is prevalent in many of BN's policies), 70% of the tenders were won by the Malays. It also goes to show that when you have an equal playing ground for all, the Malays are capable of succeeding on their own merit. On the other hand, when you mollycoddle them, they may not excel.

When a leader govern with no bias, good people will stand up for him, no matter the colour of their skin. So, let Anwar be PM, because so far he is consistent in preaching equality for all even when talking to a Malay crowd (meaning, he's actually telling them that I'll take away your special privileges, and it's for your own good!), and for now I believe him.

Update Apr 22: With all the dirty campaigning methods that BN is employing (including the ROS issue, advertisements without integrity, lame threats to PR members and the rakyat, continuos spendathon to buy votes, etc), it only make the people (me included) more united against BN and feel more supportive towards PR and Anwar. Go PR! Go Anwar!

If PR wins, the country will be thrust into chaos. Riots and inexperienced rulers!

Yes, that's possible. But the current state of affairs isn't any better. I liken present Malaysia to having a terminal disease, which symptoms are not glaringly obvious but when it manifests, it will be too late and death is the only end. On the other hand, chaos under the Opposition rule will be like a fever that burns so hot. But because the symptoms are so obvious, you can quickly manage it and heal faster. So, I'd rather the short term pain, long term gain approach.

What if we make the wrong choice with PR.

No problem. Vote them out during the 14th GE!  That is what democracy is about.

All that being said, I believe BN will be reelected for another term. This will be the dirtiest election in history. Knowing that BN will be given free reign to loot the country for another 5 years is very depressing. I think I will cry a little on my birthday.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It's Okay...Not

I'm jogging around in the residential area where I live. A dog owner opens the gate to tend to her plants just outside, her dog runs out and starts barking at me. I retreat, it advances. She goes on watering her plants.

Me: Is this your dog?

Her: It's okay...

Me: (frown)

Her: He's just showing off.

I continue on my round, and as I jog pass her house again, her dog is still sniffing about outside, she's still tending to her plants. I run up to her:



Me: It's okay....I'm just showing off.

And I run off.


Okay, so the second part only happened in my head, but I wish I had the guts to do it.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Checklist 2012

It doesn't seem right that it's already time for my next checklist. I wish time would just take its time.

So, here we are. Here we go.

Maintained a healthy lifestyle. Half check. I could have exercised more and eaten healthier.

Maintained my business. Check. Exceeded what I hoped to achieve. Renewed my business license for 3 years after the first year expired.

Own my own property. Half check and half check, to make a big happy check. Co own two properties and that makes me exceedingly happy. 

Gain a healthy perspective and get a grip on my finances. Check. I've learnt to separate my finances into one for spending and one for investing. With that, I don't feel guilty spending and I still make part of my money work for me.

Travel. Half check. Didn't go outside the country this year, but I finally visited one of Malaysia's famous paradise islands, Pulau Tioman. It certainly lived up to its reputation and I will forever long for its turquoise waters.

See my two best friends get married! Check. And two beautiful weddings they were too.

Happily, 21 December 2012 was not the end of the world, as many believed the end of the Mayan Calendar predicted. So, I have 2013 to look forward to:
  • Receiving the keys to my new apartment and working towards transforming it into a home.
  • Traveling, for sure, this time as flight tickets to the US has been bought.
  • Maintaining my business first, and growing it second. It's still a constant worry for me that I will not get enough projects, though I have managed to manage my worry better.
  • Being healthy. Exercising more and eating less late night snacks. 
  • Be more adventurous as the last year had been rather monotonous with not enough new experiences. As simple as trying new food places to learning new skills or, ideally, travelling more.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Weirdest/Nicest compliment I've had in a while

Went for a massage and spa manicure at Amante's, Taipan to finish up the package I bought for myself during my birthday.

Some therapists are more careful with the client's modesty, covering up as much as possible, even if revealing just one butt cheek while massaging the leg and covering it up before working on the other side. And they would avoid the chest area completely.

My therapist today, Linda, is not so. She pulled down the disposable panties and left it down while she vigourously worked on thumping and kneading my body. I'm quite alright with that, since that meant I'd get a very thorough treatment and there's only two of us in the room. Those who are uncomfortable should just muster up the courage to tell the therapist.

I was surprised though, when she also pulled down the towel and started massaging the chest. I haven't had a therapist that worked on that area for the longest time, and I confess, I was a bit embarrassed.

But she then asked me "Sudah kahwin?"

When I said no, she said, "Patutlah..tetek masih cantik"

I think it is quite a compliment when someone praises your breasts (except if it's a leering man). But it doesn't make it less awkward that it is given to you while you're lying down naked, being 'kneaded', and having your tetek being the subject of discussion.

Which makes it the nicest yet weirdest compliment I've had in a while.

Nonetheless, she did give a really good massage and the hour went by too fast.

The manicure was alright. It was completed without any nice or weird compliments about my sexy knuckles or

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My constant bane...bad skin


My last entry had me signing up for a facial package with 128 Faubourg. More than a year along, and thousands of ringgit spent, my skin is just as bad as before.

Initially, as with most facial package, my skin did enjoy massive improvement. After a while, Vin, my beautician, had left and I was serviced by another, and my skin just became immune to the treatments and products. And because of that, the salon requested that I return more often and buy more product. At RM260 onwards each treatment, RM100-200 for each bottle of products, twice a month facials, not much improvement and worse, breakouts after each facial, was simply a waste of money. Oh, regrets, I had a few...

So I had recently given my skin a 2 month rest. I switched my facial wash to Eucerin Milk Cleanser, which I love. Even though it didn't give me smooth skin, it felt healthier overall, more moisturised and soft to the touch. And at only RM39.90 (compared to >RM100 for a salon brand), I can slather as much on without qualms.

I've just been to another facial at Pleasure Spa, USJ9, Subang Jaya, highly recommended by my dear friend, Nicole. Her own sister runs a salon, but she insists on going to this place. True to her word, Penny was very knowledgeable, explained the process and skin condition at length (even drawing pictures to explain). It's a small salon, and the two owners are the only ones who service the customers. None of those inexperienced juniors who don't know what they are doing. Excellent extraction skills, which I believe is a result of their training with Dermalogica, because Penny and Vin similarly were trained there, and they are both equally adept at it.

So far, after one facial, it's hard to make any judgement. But I'm optimistic. If nothing else, treatments are more affordable.

First treatment, buy one free one. Basic treatments are from RM108-180. Intensive treatments go up to RM300.

Packages are straightforward - buy 3 free 1; buy 5 free 2.

They use Oxygen brand from Canada. I haven't heard about it before, but at this point, I'll give anything a try.

I've taken some 'before' pictures to monitor the improvements. Hopefully, if I get awesome results, I'll post a visual comparison online.