Thursday, December 19, 2013

2014, The Year of Rising Prices

The recent announcement of price increases due to the withdrawal of subsidies have taken a lot of flak from many quarters. This is what follows when people have been used to subsidies and expect it to be as a matter of right. I am not saying that subsidies are wrong, but they were mostly a quick-fix solutions to emergent problems that have outlived their terms and had taken root as part of life.
                      When our rating took a turn for the worse, the powers that be responded with a knee-jerk action that took many by surprise. Now the resultant effect is being felt by all and sundry. Thus we shall welcome 2014 as the year of rising prices. No matter how much explanation are given to rationalise the increases in electric tariff, tolls, petrol, sugar and other necessities, the majority of our people have to bear the brunt as prices rise much faster than incomes which is the right recipe for inflation.
                     The announcement of the establishment of a laboratory to deal with the larger issue of the rise in cost of living is rather too little and too late an action to solve the pain. As a responsible government, it has to anticipate this critical issue, as the signs had been rearing its ugly head for a long time when the country had been living on a deficit for far too long and our overdependence on oil for generating revenue. We have seen how even developed countries have gone almost bankrupt due to their complacency in tackling their economic problems and we seemed to be oblivious to them. Now we are faced with the stark reality of joining their ranks. The rhetoric has to stop and the pain have to be dealt with in the most urgent manner.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Remembering Mandela

On Friday 06 December 2013,  the news of the passing away of Nelson Mandela, the first democratically elected  President of South Africa was announced, after a prolonged illness. His famous words of the long walk to freedom as he was freed from prison after being interned for 27 years rang loudly for the whole world to remember until posterity. He was a leader who bore no malice against the regime who locked him up for more than a quarter century and became the President who exhibited great magnanimity and embarked on a peaceful reconciliation of the black majority and the white minority whose government upheld Apartheid policy of segregation between the coloured people and the whites. 
            Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 and he died at the age of 95. In 1961 he was the leading figure in forming the armed wing of the African National Congress and in 1963 he stood for trial with 10 others and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964. He was freed on February 11, 1990 by the last white President of South Africa, F.W. de  Klerk who ended the apartheid policy and lifted the ban on the ANC. In the following year Mandela became the leader of the ANC and in 1994 he became the first democratically elected President after a landslide victory in the first free elections. He handed over power to Mbeki after his tenure in 1999. Mandela shall be remembered as one of the most revered Statesman for his long struggle for freedom and against a rascist white minority government. It was our first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman who agitated for the expulsion of South Africa from the Commonwealth in 1960 for apartheid and this resulted in its withdrawal from the body in 1961. The legacy of Mandela in the fight for truth, justice and equality against an oppressive regime shall be not only be remembered by his nation but by the whole world. Rest in peace Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
                   My first and last contact with someone who was a member of the ANC was during my short course in Hyderabad, India in 1989. He with another lady represented the ANC as participants for the short administrative course organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat in London. They were selected in preparation for the impending independence of South Africa and when the participants came to Malaysia as part of the programme, he confided in me that Malaysia would become the model for his country's future development. And truly enough, Malaysia was one of the first nation Mandela visited in November 1990 and  he requested Malaysia's help in preparing South Africa's first free elections. Since then our close relations had evolved over the decades which led to an increase in trade and investment between the two countries.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Security Guards who should be factory workers

Last thursday on the 21 November 2013, our neighbourhood security watch had the misfortune of being raided by the enforcement team from the Home Ministry and three of the guards on duty were detained because their papers were not in order. Their permits were meant for work in the factory but they were utilised to become security guards and thus they faced deportation and the security service provider would be slapped with a compound for the offence.
             Although the other guards had their permits in order but they refused to continue the watch in protest to the security provider for not looking after their welfare. Thus our residents association security arrangement went into disarray due to their absence. By friday evening the committee had an emergency meeting to map out the course of action to plug the security lapse and a quick decision was taken to ask the committee members and volunteers to take turns to be on the security watch. It was indeed a test on the association how to deal with a crisis. Our President and the other members of the committee managed to come around and handle the crisis effectively. The present security provider is simply unable to provide the replacements because most of the guards are from Nepal and they were afraid that they would be detained as they were unsure whether their papers are genuine.
                   By now we have suspended the service of the provider for being unable to find replacements and temporary guards have been put in place to take over manning the security watch round the clock. On monday night of 25 November the committee met with the management of the company which is supplying us the temporary guards and negotiated for their continuation on a monthly basis until the association finalise its decision on the security provider.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Taiping revisited

On Deepavali day, 02 November 2013 was the beginning of an eventful month where my calendar is full of engagement ceremonies and wedding invitations. I have not been travelling by road northbound for many years and this time I am just a passenger seated next to the driver, where my brother was at the steering wheel. Since the day was the start of a long weekend which began on a saturday and another public holiday falling on the following tuesday, thus the highway was rather congested even though  we left at about ten o'clock in the morning from Kelana Jaya.
                      We stopped for a short break at Tapah rest area at about one o'clock and then had another stop at Kuala Kangsar for lunch. Fortunately it was not raining all the way and we checked in at hotel Seri Malaysia Taiping by 4.30 pm. Since we were quite tired after the long journey, we were contented to have dinner at the hotel's restaurant and furthermore the town was crowded with holiday makers and there was also a gathering of big motor bikers going on for the weekend.
                  The purpose of my trip to Taiping was to be the spokesperson on behalf of my brother for the bethrotal of my nephew to a girl from Changkat Jering, Taiping. So on that sunday 03 November began the hectic calendar of events for me in attending to family and friend's invitations either for engagements ceremony or weddings.The morning sun was quite bright as I looked out of the room window on the ground-floor and I had breakfast by the time the restaurant opened at 7.30 am. My brother and sister-in-law was already at their table enjoying their breakfast. Later on my sisters, brother-in-law and nephew came from their hotel in the middle of the town to join us for breakfast. We had a good tete-a-tete at the breakfast table amidst the growing number of guests streaming into the restaurant. I must say, Seri Malaysia hotel do have a reasonable spread to choose for breakfast. We checked out from the hotel at about 11.45 am, and other relatives of my sister-in-law who came from Kuala Lumpur and other places also assembled at the hotel for the group to depart to Kg. Changkat Jering, about 7 kilometres from Taiping town. We stopped at Masjid Jamek Kg. Changkat Jering to gather all the family members from my nephew's side for the engagement ceremony.
                 The negotiation for the engagement ceremony  went smoothly and without fuss because the spokesperson from the other side coincidentally is the imam of the mosque of Changkat Jering and presumably he wanted to get over it quickly in time for zohor prayer which is just slightly after 1.00 o'clock. After the function was over followed by a kenduri, there was a heavy downpour and we stopped at the Changkat Jering mosque for zohor prayer, as it is not far from the girl's house. By the time the rain began to slow down, we left for home, but as my brother needed a cup of coffee as he was feeling drowsy, we stopped at Kuala Kangsar for a break. The town seemed to be teeming with visitor's judging from the number of tour buses coming to the food-court near the riverside where the jetty for the Perak river cruise is situated. It was quite a feat to find a parking bay near the river front.
                By 5.30 pm we began to leave Kuala Kangsar and entered the North-South highway again. All throughout the drive, there was an endless stream of vehicles going back to the Federal capital and  we stopped at Ladang Bikam lay-by for a short rest. As all the other rest areas were very congested with vehicles, we decided to drive straight home and arrived in Kelana Jaya at about 9.30 pm.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Undang Luak in Adat Perpatih

I am continuing my write-up about Adat Perpatih in my home state of Negeri Sembilan this time by focussing on the Undang Luak of which there are four, viz; Sungei Ujong (now Seremban), Jelebu, Rembau, and Johol.
As the saying goes;
              Alam beraja ( The state has a ruler)
              Luak berpenghulu (Undang) (the district has a territorial chief)
              Suku berlembaga ( the clan has a clan chief )
              Anak buah berbuapak ( the sub-clan has a leader )
              Orang semenda bertempat semenda (the affine has affinal relatives)
  Before the advent of the British rule, it was the Undang (lawgiver) who held power in the 'luak' or the territory, and not even the Yamtuan can intefere in the domain of the Undang. It could be surmised in the saying below:-
             Boleh menghitam dan memutihkan
             Boleh memanjang dan memendekkan
             Boleh mengesah dan membatalkan

Translated as:
            With authority to pronounce black and white
            With authority to lengthen and shorten
            With authority to confirm and annul
Likewise;
            Sah batal pada Undang
            Keris penyalang pada Undang
Translated as:
           Confirmation and annulment are with the Undang
           The execution Kris is with the Undang

      In fact the Undang held more authority than the Yamtuan where matters fall under the jurisdiction of the Luak. The Yamtuan was only confined to his seat of the palace in Seri Menanti. This was the scenario then, because the Yamtuan served as the titular Head of State and he was invited from Pagar Ruyung in Sumatera upon the request of the four Undangs. Thus whenever the Ruler passed away, the Undangs will choose amongst the eligible princes, not necessarily the son of the deceased to become the new ruler. Thus the present Yang diPertuan Besar (Yamtuan for short) was chosen from amongst the three princes (the other two were the sons of the previous Yamtuan, Almarhum Tuanku Jaafar ibni Almarhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman). His Highness Tuanku Mukhriz, the present ruler is the son of the former Yamtuan, Almarhum Tuanku Munawir, the brother of Almarhum Tuanku Jaafar. If I could recall correctly, when the Federation Agreement of 1947 was signed between the British and theMalay Rulers, all the four Undangs were invited and seated together with the Yamtuan during the signing ceremony. Such was the importance of the Undangs protocol wise accorded by the British and till today all royal functions at the State level must be graced by their presence.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Recycling Man

Familiar jingle
Pass my house many a time
Paper lama man

Recycling business
An honest work for the day
Earning his living

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Cyber Scam

It is quite baffling
People easily be conned
And lose millions

They should remain calm
And call the bluff from caller
When no wrong is done

You must be steadfast
Not to fall to such a scam
Keep your wits around

Monday, October 07, 2013

Aidil-Adha, Day of Sacrifice.

Tenth of Zulhijjah
Is in the month of the Hajj
Day of Sacrifice

Where Mina awaits
Three symbols of satan stands
Abraham fought them

His son Ismail
Laid his neck for sacrifice
Replaced by a sheep

Muslims all over
Celebrate Aidil-Adha
To remember it

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Insurgency or Emergency

Picture of a check-point
during the Emergency.
 
 
The Emergency
Truly an Insurgency
A real war at large
 
Fifties were its height
Casualties were on both sides
The pain never erased
 
Ashes too not spared
The fallen still remembers
Turning in their graves
 
 

Saturday, October 05, 2013

The Auditor's Report

Year in and year out
Same story on public funds
Ludicrous statements

The people are numbed
Staggering figures wasted
Repeatedly done

Where is their conscience
Have they thrown it to the winds
The sin is too great