Monday, January 31, 2005


PAC junket – It’s a misunderstanding!

The Selangor's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) aborted study tour, or lawatan sambil belajar, to Egypt caused me to try to figure out what they had hoped to gain from studying belly dancing on the Nile.

How did belly dancing ended up as part of the itinerary anyway?

Maybe I am in a good mood today and am willing to see the good side of everybody. So let’s say that the government officials are not that evil as to waste our taxpayers’ money on a useless pleasure trip. Let’s say that maybe it was all a misunderstanding. Let us give them the benefit of doubt, shall we?

They must have heard that the Nile is the longest river in the world. A long river implies a lot of water. So they probably thought that Egypt is a great naval power. Yes, yes, they must have wanted to study the naval capabilities of Egypt!

So the clerk in charge of booking the trip must have sent an email to the Egyptian tour company to make the necessary arrangements to see the “Naval capability on the Nile”.

However, due to a typo error, what the Egyptian tour company received was a request to see the “Navel capability on the Nile”. And they have lots of women with capable navels and willing to demonstrate them. So okay, no problem, the tour company will put in the belly dancing on a Nile cruise as part of the itinerary.

There, I knew there must have been a logical reason behind all this.


Friday, January 28, 2005


Ah Chong bashes TNB

Yesterday, the one-star publication put out the headliner TNB is liable for losses caused by blackout.

I agree. But, TNB disagrees.

So I asked Ah Chong, my contractor, to give a running commentary on the news report. Here is Ah Chong’s view on the report:

PUTRAJAYA: Tenaga Nasional Berhad is liable under the law for the loss suffered by consumers due to the Jan 13 blackout, said Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik.
“Ah, Lim Ah Pek has the right idea! Sure must pay us lah. If we the consumers have no rights, then what for to become consumers?”

Dr Lim said the Electricity Supply Act 1990 clearly states that the utility company can be held responsible for the loss suffered by consumers. However, TNB chairman Datuk Leo Moggie said the preliminary reports submitted to the Cabinet showed that the power utility company was not liable.
“What not liable……what he know? That guy don’t know anything about electricity and he dare to say that TNB not liable. What, TNB means Tak Nak Bayar, is it?”

The Cabinet yesterday was presented with preliminary reports by three sources – TNB, the Energy Commission and a consultant appointed by the national utility company – on the incident that affected three million consumers in five states.
“Sure they will say TNB not guilty lah! How come never ask for report from an independent consultant one. You should at least ask the consumers for a report. Then the 3 million consumers will give them 3 million reports. Like that mah…..”

The reports, Dr Lim said, identified a gas leak at the P10 circuit breaker at the Port Klang switchyard followed by a decision to switch it off which then resulted in tripping.
“What gas? Circuit breaker how to give gas? I think ah….the canteen people sell all the rubbish food. After that, the TNB workers eat, and then the stomach get full of gas. Sure they fart lah…....don’t simply blame the circuit breaker. Circuit breaker where can fart, you tell me? And for that they go and switch off the P10 circuit breaker and cause the blackout…….where got meaning?”

However, he said, the question remained whether TNB could have taken different measures to tackle the problem without causing a massive outage.
“Of course they can take different measures mah. Send all those farting workers out somewhere. At least don’t fart so close to the circuit breaker. You know hor, I think sometimes these TNB people don’t use simple cow sense.”

He added that the Cabinet at its meeting deferred the decision on the issue of rebates and ordered the Energy Commission to carry out further investigation into the incident.
“This one arh, the Cabinet very expert……..defer the decision to next time so that they doan have to make decision this time. Then after that, everybody forget alredi, no need to make decision lor…… Every time like that!”

Speaking to reporters, Dr Lim said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had directed the commission to identify whether the incident was a direct result of a faulty decision by TNB staff or due to a faulty operations system before a decision on rebates was made.
“No need to check any more lah.….faulty decision by TNB staff or faulty operations system, both also TNB at fault! Either way, must compensate us.”

The commission, he said, had been given two weeks to carry out the investigation.
Summore need two weeks ah. Aisay… need two minutes also I can tell you who is at fault. Why this Energy Commission do things so slow one. Must move fast, mah! Otherwise, don’t call it Energy Commission. Better call it No-energy Commission instead.”

However, he said, this was just a matter of being thorough and transparent to ensure that consumer confidence in the country’s electricity supply remained strong. The fact that TNB was at fault and must bear responsibility for the outcome of the incident, he said, was not in dispute at all.
“Very good! I agree! Occasionally, this old man can also talk sense. He must be taking gingko. Maybe Tongkat Ali orso.”

“The Prime Minister wants no hint of any cover-up to crop up later. That is why he directed me to get down to the bottom of this incident and not to hide anything at all,” he added.
Wah peh……Lim Ah Pek want to get down to the bottom. Must remember that one.”

Dr Lim said that under Section 37(2) of the Electricity Supply Act 1990, anyone who makes a faulty decision resulting in damage to property or welfare of consumers can be fined up to RM15,000 or jailed three years, while under Section 17(3) of the same Act, a licensed electricity supplier can be held responsible for any damage to property or welfare of consumers if disruption to supply is due to negligence or a faulty system.
“Actually hor, I was having a massage at a hotel at that time. Not yet relax for 5 minutes and then the lights blackout. Then the massage girl said she don’t want to carry on because she couldn’t see what she was holding. Like that also got. Summore the hotel want me to pay for one hour of massage. Si beh sian man. Who going to compensate me for my loss, you tell me? Luckily got this Section 37(2) of the Electricity Supply Act. I donch know what it is, but it must be a very good law.”

In this case, he said, TNB had more than four hours to decide on the best course of action but instead took a decision that ultimately caused so many problems and losses to millions of consumers.
“These people arh…...they got so much time to make a decision and still they make a dumb decision. Simply switch off the circuit breaker like nobody’s business. I think they just want to take excuse to go home. Curi tulang also not like that mah. At least wait until my massage hour over first, then only switch off the thing…...”

TNB chief executive officer and president Datuk Che Khalib Mohd Noh said last Thursday that TNB had restored power supply within the stipulated period set by the Energy Commission. Thus, it would not be compensating consumers for the outage.
Eh……what kind of excuse is that? What stipulated period? They collect electricity bill the time they never say got stipulated period. These people all the same….want to collect money from consumer only, but use all rubbish excuses not to pay. You think my…….hotel charges cheap issit?”

Dr Lim said the argument used by TNB was only applicable for normal power disruption and was not applicable to an outage that affected millions of consumers.
“I see that Lim Ah Pek also can argue back. Good man! Go Saliva Lim, go!”

TNB offered a 10% rebate to consumers affected by a blackout in August 1996, while consumers in Penang enjoyed a 20% rebate during an island-wide blackout in 1995.
“Now this I don’t understand. Why other people get 10% but Penang people get 20%? Penang people ka tua ki si boh?”

Moggie, when speaking to reporters after announcing TNB’s quarterly financial results at TNB headquarters yesterday, said they would wait for the outcome of the detailed report.
“We cannot prejudge what the detailed report will say. We will wait for it. I don’t want to continue with this debate.”

“What kind of nonsense is this? He debate lose alredi, then say he don’t want to continue with debate. Maybe we should make him debate with the 3 million consumers…… one-by-one!”

Asked why TNB was unwilling to pay compensation to consumers since it registered a net profit of RM8.5mil for the first quarter ending on Nov 30 last year, he said: “The profit is not substantial. If we record losses, the public will be disappointed with us.”
“No, no, no! Most of us don’t hold TNB shares. Record as much losses as you like. We won’t be disappointed!”

On why the national utility company paid compensation to consumers during the 1996 power outage, Moggie said: “It was given voluntarily by the company then. Now we have decided not to give out rebates to consumers.”
“So last time was ‘voluntarily’ is it? Wah, want to use powderful English with me ah. Okay..... I tell you, the Electricity Supply Act is going to make this compensation ‘compulsory’. Meaning ‘mandatory’, ‘obligatory’ or ‘required by law’. You see, I orso can use high power language. Don’t play play. Want to debate with me ah…..don’t know ‘die’ word how to write, is it? Wa lau eh!”

I thanked Ah Chong for his commentary on the news report and wished him all the best in getting compensation for his..….er……hotel charges.


Thursday, January 27, 2005


No man's land poetry

Occasionally, I write poetry that cannot be classified as sense or nonsense. It probably lies in "no man's land".

Here’s one:

"On a mountain top,
Rocky met a cop.
The cop was cocky,
The cock was Rocky."


Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Why it’s not the year of the duck

Did you notice that in the Chinese calendar, there are 9 mammals, two reptiles(snake and dragon) but only one bird? And that lucky bird is the cock. Ever wondered why the cock gets a year named after him?

Well, a long time ago, the duck, the turkey, the swan, the goose and a host of other birds approached the Heaven Jade Emperor and asked that a year be named after them.

“Call it the Year of the Duck!” insisted the duck.

“No, it should be called the Year of the Turkey!” yelled the turkey.

Soon the other birds chimed in with their own names, until the Heaven Jade Emperor had enough. He then announced that the name shall be decided by merit. Whichever bird could work the hardest in populating the earth shall get the year named after it.

Every bird immediately went into their courtship mating dance. Except the cock. It couldn't be bothered with no courtship mating dance. I mean, come on, why waste precious fucking time? It humped the chickens like nobody's business. When it was done, it humped the other birds as well, including the ducks, turkeys and geese. (In fact, even to this day, you can see roosters attempting cross-species mating at the farmyard. Unscrupulous fuckers......)

After humping everything in sight, the cock slowly turned its head and eyed the Heaven Jade Emperor appreciatively. Hastily, the Heaven Jade Emperor announced the winner.

Say hello to the Year of the Cock. Man, this bird was born for only one thing.


Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Public holidays

I love public holidays. It means that I get to sleep late, miss breakfast, eat brunch, miss lunch cause I overate at brunch, then have a big meal during teatime, then wondering if I should take dinner, and so on. When your meals are not on regular times, it usually means that you are enjoying yourself.

I have been known to go to work on public holidays. Not that I am that hardworking, but more because nobody told me that it was a public holiday. And I would be at the workplace wondering what had happened to everybody. Don’t you just hate things like that?

That’s the trouble with my company people. They send email all over the place stating things of no importance. But a significant thing such as a public holiday does not get any mention. Would it kill them to send a note saying, “Tomorrow is a public holiday! Please stay away!”

One colleague of mine is a rather nice guy. He found out that I had this penchant for turning up for work during public holidays. So whenever there is a public holiday approaching, he would gently remind me, “Oi…tomorrow got public holiday arh? So don’t simply come!”

Nice guy.


Monday, January 24, 2005


Approaching the Year of the Cock

Two more weeks to the Chinese New Year. The Year of the Monkey is drawing to a close and we will soon be in the Year of the Cock. Of course, the mass media prefer to call it the Year of the Rooster, but it will always be the Year of the Cock to me. Almost nobody calls it the Year of the Hen. I wonder why.

Here’s an old rooster joke to warm you up for the new year.

A guy bought a rooster from the market and then took the bus home. During the bus journey, the guy put his rooster under his seat. Then, a pretty lady got on the bus and so the gallant young guy got up and gave his seat to the lady.

As his destination was approaching, the guy pressed the bell and the bus came to a stop. The guy wanted to drag the rooster out from under the seat but the lady’s legs were in the way. Our guy was a shy young man and he did not know how to ask the lady to move her legs. The bus driver was getting impatient for the man to alight, and so he decided to take matters into his own hands. The bus passengers were astonished to hear the bus driver shout, “Lady…..will you please open your legs wider so that the guy can pull out his cock?”


Thursday, January 20, 2005


Dear Lai Ma and the Tsunami Trauma

Few people are unaffected emotionally by the effects of the tsunami for the past few weeks. I am still trying to go back to a normal life.

You know that things haven't yet fully gone back to normal when the Dear Lai Ma column is shorter than usual. Still, I have to make an attempt to strive for normalcy somehow.

But Ms Lai Ma, bless her, being made of sterner stuff, is keeping up her normal professional spirited front, and helping people to come to terms with the tsunami trauma. Of course, she was a former karaoke lounge singer before she became a 5Star columnist, so maybe her colourful background helped.


Dear Lai Ma
I think I got tsunami trauma. Every where I go, people keep asking me to donate to the tsunami victims. I don’t want to donate, so I run and hide. But people still found me. Then I hide again. But again people found me. I am running out of hiding places. The whole affair is making me traumatic. If this goes on, I may have to seek psychiatric help. How do I deal with this trauma?
Ker Doo Koot

Dear Ker Doo Koot
Why you so kedukut until like dat? Donate a bit won’t die wan mah. You go hide hide here and hide hide there and in the end have to see psychiatrist… know psychiatrist charge how much or not? The fees are so high that some people prefer to become psycho rather than to pay the hospital charges. That was what happened to my talkcock editor. If you don’t want any more trauma, put your hand in your pocket and take out your wallet. Don’t need to donate very much. Just any amount you are comfortable with. After that, you won’t have to hide, and you won’t have any more tsunami trauma.

Dear Lai Ma
I think I got tsunami trauma. Actually I had no problem at all during the school holidays. I even had a fantastic time in Europe during the tsunami. But I noticed that my trauma started when school started. Maybe it was a delayed reaction. It is bearable most of the time but can get especially bad when the teacher gives out homework. Can you write a letter to my principal to excuse me from school for one year until I get over this tsunami trauma?
Mau Pon Teng

Dear Mau Pon Teng
Wah lau eh! You come back from a holiday in Europe and you can get tsunami trauma! Ho But no need to wait one year for your trauma to go away. Nowadays we have modern methods to cure this type of affliction. It works especially well for schoolboys. We call it the Remedy On The Ass Nicely , or R.O.T.A.N. It’s highly effective when applied nicely! Not say I say one. Schoolboys have been known to hand up their homework on time after getting this remedy. I will write a letter to your principal and recommend that you get immediate treatment.

Dear Lai Ma
I took my old underwear to donate at the Collection Centre for tsunami victims, and the very fierce lady in charge don’t want to accept my underwear. Said it got holes and not properly washed. Why so fussy? Only got three holes mah…..still can wear, wut. And what for to wash? Whenever I use underwear, I don’t even have to wash. I just flip the underwear inside out and I can wear it for another day. And the next day, I just flip it back again. That way can wear for many weeks mah…..….. But the ackshot lady simply kao peh kao bu and then looked at me one kind. Make me get tsunami trauma only. Why got people like dat? Why the world so fucked up?
Chin Tu Lan

Dear Chin Tu lan
Will you please stop fucking up this world? Ni nah beh. You know how much money it costs to deliver your stupid underwear or not? First it must be packed and put on a plane to Medan. Very expensive. Then after that it has to catch another plane to Bandar Aceh. Again, expensive. And finally, must get a helicopter to transport it to the refugee camp. Highly expensive. Three air journeys to transport a stupid underwear with three holes to starving people. That is a lot of money per hole. For that kind of expense, we may as well send things that people can use….such as food and medicine. Wah piang ......., I don’t understand how you can walk around in unwashed underwear. Water very expensive issit? And why are you always writing to me? If you want any advice in the future, please write to our one-star competitor. We are a five star paper and so we can’t entertain idiots all the time.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005


When kids grow up

I met two cute kids last night. I asked the little girl whether she wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer when she grew up.

She replied, “Both!”

I said that she could not be both a doctor and a lawyer.

“Yes I can!” she replied. “I’ll be a Doctor of Law!”

What? When even most lawyers don’t want to study for their Masters, and this little kid wants to do a doctorate in law? Cute. Real cute.

I looked at the other kid, a little boy, and contemplated asking him if he wanted to be a fireman or a minister when he grows up. But I decided against it. I was afraid that his answer would be “both fireman and minister”.

And that would mean only one thing. Yep, I wasn’t going to give him the opportunity to tell me that when he grows up, he’s gonna fire a minister.

Kids. Gotta be careful what you ask them these days.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Rude Malaysian contest

Damn. I was not aware that the one-star two-bit publication ran a "Rude Malaysian" contest. Or I would have taken part in the voting. The highest number of votes for the rudest habit that Malaysians have is for "driving inconsiderately".

I don't usually have problems with other people's driving. The thing that really irks me is "parking inconsiderately". How many times have you gone to a supermarket and heard the announcement, "Will the moron who owns car number xxxxxxx, please remove your stupid vehicle immediately? It is blocking the entrance to the emergency exit and preventing the planet from rotating properly."

There are idiots who park in the most bizarre manner in order to avoid walking a few extra steps. They can park everywhere except in a proper parking lot. It's like this concept of proper parking cannot take hold in that lump of dried shit they have for a brain.

When I see cars parked indiscriminately, I can come to only one conclusion: these drivers must be really ugly. And frequently, I'm right. I bet their driving instructors made them wear paper bags over their heads to hide their faces, thus preventing them from getting the full benefit of the parking lessons. And they were so damn ugly that their driving testers passed them with closed eyes rather than take the chance of seeing them in a retest.


Monday, January 17, 2005


Fallout from the blackout

Last week’s blackout caused some very black faces among businessmen. The claimed that they made huge losses when the power was disrupted. Even small companies incurred losses. The most obvious loss comes from workers not working during a power outage.

You can easily tell the caliber of your colleagues from a blackout. The shiftless good-for-nothing morons would be the first to down their tools and claim that they can’t work without electricity. Sheer laziness….that’s what.

The really hardworking ones are those still toiling away in the dark. And then there are others who you don’t know exist in the company, but during a blackout they will be rushing to and fro, getting maximum visibility.

It is no secret that I was hired mainly for my looks. During the blackout, nobody could see me, so that did not make me very productive.

I was passing by a group of lazy low-lifes hanging around the lift. Apparently, one of them noticed that the lift was still working. Don’t know how….from emergency power perhaps. Still, it is always wiser to take the stairs in a power failure. I remarked loudly that the power may not be reliable enough to open the lift doors, so people may get stuck in the lift for hours. On hearing that, the low-lifes bolted past me for the stairs.

Some time later, I came across a hardworking colleague working with some other people in semi-darkness in a room. She had kept the windows open to let in some light. Still, the people in there were sweltering in the heat.

So I said,” No power ah?”

She replied, “We didn’t have power since this morning! What…..didn’t you know?”

So I answered back, “Why don’t you switch on the lights and air-con? The power already came back half an hour ago.”


Friday, January 14, 2005


Carbohydrates and the waistline

I like Pak Lah. For some reason, I have always liked him. Even during the years when he was not in power. No, I do not for one moment think that he is a paragon of virtue. But that has not stopped me from liking him. Recently, on the TV, I saw that his figure has shifted horizontally. His waistline seemed bigger. And that is a cause for concern.

I think his doctor should advise him to cut down on the rice and meat. I do not think that the human body handles rice very well. People say that meat makes people fat. But I have seen a lot of fat vegetarians. So I think it must come from all the rice. Carbohydrates should not be taken in large amounts.

Please Pak Lah, get an exercise regime and watch what you eat. And get rid of the excess weight. I prefer to see you healthy on TV.


Thursday, January 13, 2005


Tsunami did not come from fornication

I wish people will just accept the tsunami as a natural phenomenon. Still, there will be people who will try to interpret an act of nature with their own theories. Acts of nature will occur irregardless if there are humans there or not. One of the sentences from this website caught my attention:

“It happened at Christmas, when fornicators and corrupt people from all over the world come to commit fornication and sexual perversion.”

To be fair, I am unable to confirm if the articles in that website were pure fabrication or somebody actually said those words. And I have my doubts if people can actually fornicate up a tsunami.

Anyway, whoever has been fornicating up this tsunami, let me assure you that it wasn’t me.

Firstly, I was not fornicating on Christmas Day. I was too busy thinking along the lines of “peace on earth, goodwill to men” and did not have the inclination for more lustful pursuits.

Secondly, I was nowhere near Aceh, where most of the seismic action took place. Apparently, the aftershocks are still happening in Sumatra, so whoever is still fornicating, isn’t it about time you take a rest?

Thirdly, I couldn’t have fornicated up a tsunami. It may be flattering to think that I can come up with that much energy. But honestly ladies, I couldn’t. Sorry if I busted your sexual fantasies about me.

And oh, the previous year, during the earthquake in Iran, it wasn’t me either. I was not fornicating during that Christmas Day, and I was certainly nowhere near Iran.

Many tsunami theories are not based on good science and put the blame on the hapless victims. So many unfortunate folks lost their loved ones during this disaster and they are still reeling emotionally from the whole tragedy. This is no laughing matter. We don’t need other people to go around suggesting that it is somehow the victims’ fault that they lost their loved ones because they were ‘corrupt’ and had been busy committing ‘fornication and sexual perversion’.

Our priority should be on helping the victims to overcome the trauma and the mental scars.


Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Five year 'good values' campaign

I see that we are going to get a Five-year plan to instill good values of “transparency, trustworthiness, integrity, fairness, honesty and accountability”.

This is good. I support it whole heartedly. With body, spirit and that human concept which the masses call a soul.

But let us start the campaign first among the civil servants. Sort of like, to see if it will work out. Who knows? Maybe the campaign will beget us “civil servants” from the present crop of “see-view servants”. Yeah, that ought to be a major improvement. What unbridled optimism! But, hey, that's just me.

I do not think that I would undergo much of a personality change from such a campaign. But that's because I'm spiritually evolved.
People say that I’m already Friendly, Understanding, Courteous, Kind, Elegant and Responsible.

And we all know you can't really improve on that.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005


Daun rokok

I was buying some stuff from a sundry shop this morning when I noticed that the shop was selling daun rokok. Daun rokok are actually the dried leaves of the nipah palm . When you buy the leaves, tobacco is provided, so the smoker just wraps the tobacco with a dried nipah leave and soon he's puffing away like a chimney.

I asked the proprieter if the people who smoke this stuff are old people.

"Bukan orang tua. Orang muda." he replied.

Apparently, the young men are now smoking more nipah leaves because the price of cigarettes went up. The point is, people will find cheaper and practical alternatives to what they enjoy doing. Never underestimate what people can do.

Which is why it is so difficult to ban premarital sex. All the goats will suffer.
And I know that I do not wish to hear shouts of "Who's your daddy!" coming from the goat pens in the middle of the night.


Monday, January 10, 2005


Intellectual friends

Over the weekend, some friends visited and took a look at my holiday snapshots. They heard about my backache and one of them demonstrated a useful yoga technique for relieving backaches.

He laid down flat on the floor and then lifted up one knee to the chest. Hugging the knee close to his chest, he lifted his head off the ground towards his knee. This has the effect of stretching the lower back. Then he did the same with his other knee. The method works.

Then another guy suggested that one can sleep on magnetic pads to relieve backaches. This sparked off a rather lively discussion.

“The magnetic pads on the mattress will keep you in a magnetic field all night. This improves circulation, relaxes the bones, so you will not have backaches.”

“It will also give you a more magnetic personality.”

"On top of that, your intelligence will improve....which should be an improvement as we find that you have not made much intelligible conversation lately."

“But things can become magnetized over time. So if you are exposed to magnets every night, you may end up having a magnetized body.”

“Then if you wake up in the morning, and try to get out of bed, the magnetic pad will pull you back. You may end up sleeping more.”

“Also, if you have a morning erection, you dick will behave like a magnet and point towards the North Pole.”

“So if you are walking east, you find that your dick points to the left.”

“What happens if I try to go south?”

“You mustn’t do that! Or else your dick may poke a hole through your body.”


Friday, January 07, 2005


Tsunami - Too much Aid and not enough Rescue

This article from the Financial Times puts the current tsunami aid pledges and donations at $5 billion. Which is way over the $977 million requested by the U.N. The aid is so much that it is embarrassing. And I bet that some of this money will probably go into dubious future ‘reconstruction’ projects.

To quote the article:
An outpouring of public donations and government pledges from around the world has created an embarrassment of riches. The $5bn (€3.8bn, £2.65bn) promised amounts to about $1,000 for each of the estimated 5m people affected, much more than the typical annual income of a Sri Lankan fisherman or an Indian villager, let alone an African peasant.

Okay, enough of aid already.

Personally, I think that the really, really important work is to ensure that survivors are plucked from the jaws of death within the FIRST two weeks of the disaster. If they can survive the first two weeks, they have a decent chance of surviving for the rest of the year.

Two days ago, I did mention that the Australians were practically the earliest to respond to Aceh’s plight.
This story today expresses the Indonesian gratitude towards Australia. To quote:
"YOU were the first to phone. You were the first to have aircraft on the ground," an emotional Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono(Indonesian president) told John Howard(Australian Prime Minister) at the start of their meeting at the presidential palace in Jakarta.

A friend told me that the tsunami news was on Australian TV at the time when only 3000 people were believed to have died. On that same day, the Australians were mentioning that they were going to send help immediately. Now, this was during the Christmas holidays in Australia, when most shops are closed for the week and many people are away. Yet the Australians were able to get her people to conduct rescue operations in Aceh before anybody else! This is what I call SPEED. Malaysians can learn something from here.

The Singaporeans and Americans were not far behind either. Once they make a decision to go in, they don’t dilly dally. This is what we should be doing!

In Australia, the buses run on time. If the bus stop states that the bus will arrive at 9:32 a.m., it will arrive at 9:32 a.m. Their drivers don’t start late and then speed on the roads to make up for lost time. Does this sound familiar?

In Malaysia, if a seminar is supposed to start at 9 a.m., very often it will start half an hour later. We have what we call ‘rubber time’. Time that can stretch any way we want. If a wedding invitation states “7 p.m.”, people will come at 8 p.m..

Rescue operations cannot be conducted on ‘rubber time’. Unless we have a change in mindset, we will not be able to conduct rescue operations effectively. And we need to send rescue teams to other countries, so that they will be able to pick up valuable experience in coping with emergencies. That way, they will know what to do if we have a serious natural disaster. If we don’t learn how to mount rescue operations speedily, we will have to depend on Australia, Singapore and America to come to our rescue if we have a disaster. Because they are the ones who are effective and can move fast.

But it is much better that we learn to rely on ourselves rather than on other countries. It’s time we get rid of our ‘rubber time’ habit.


Thursday, January 06, 2005


Tsunami crisis: The Invisible Men

On Jan 3 last year, I blogged about our Special Malaysian Disaster Relief and Rescue Team (SMART), and how it did not make the trip to Iran in a most ridiculous sequence of events. Not very smart, was it?

I was scouring the news for this supposedly SMART team to find out if it is doing anything in the current tsunami event, but I can’t seem to find anything worth mentioning. Except for this sentence which appeared in the Star on December 29, 2004:

At another function later, Najib said Malaysia would despatch the Special Malaysian Disaster Relief and Rescue Team (Smart) for rescue work in Aceh.

Some days have passed since the news report and nobody seems to know what our SMART has been doing since.

Why is SMART so invisible in this crisis? Is it because SMART is composed of invisible men?

Frankly, I don’t think it is very smart to hire invisible men to do rescue work. Survivors can’t call out to you if you are invisible, can they?

Even simple jobs such as distributing food at a refugee camp can be problematical. If the refugees rushed to grab the food, they may unknowingly grab the body parts of the invisible men by mistake because the SMART team members cannot be seen. This can be embarrassing for the refugees. And also very painful for the SMART team members.

Actually, I think that having a Rescue team for the country is a very good idea. And it should be sent to crisis areas to keep the team occupied as well as to gain valuable experience. But one year has passed, and I still do not know if the SMART team has managed to rescue a drowning fish from a toilet bowl. We need to highlight its activities to promote public confidence.

Nahhhhh……I say we should stop hiring invisible men for SMART before the whole concept turn stupid.

Oh BTW, here’s my version of the joke about invisibility.

Superman was flying in the sky when he saw Catwoman sunning naked on the rooftop, with her legs spread out. So Superman thought that he would just fly in at superspeed, give Catwoman a quick lick on the pussy, and fly off before Catwoman knew what was happening.

So he went in faster than the eye could see
*.…..Whooooooosh……Slurp……. “ptui, ptui, ptui, ptui”…….*

“WTF was that?” exclaimed the naked Catwoman.
“I’m not sure”, replied the Invisible Man’s voice from between her legs, “But the back of my head is suddenly wet and I have a few strands of hair missing!”


Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Aceh crisis – It’s the helicopter, stupid!

Let’s take a brief look at history:

Dec 26 2003 – Earthquake in Iran
Dec 26 2004 – Tsunami in Asia

Same thing, same date, different year.
Have we learnt anything about relief work?

On Dec. 26, 2003, an earthquake of magnitude 6.5 struck in the morning, devastating the city of Bam, in southeastern Iran. And the world donated stuff by the planeloads to Iran.

In Bam, nearly 2000 flights with subsistence supplies, search and rescue teams, medicine and reporters descended on a small regional airport accustomed to handling only five to six flights per day. Many aircraft arrived unannounced, without consideration of how cargo would be unloaded or distributed. Relief supplies piled up on the runways making it impossible for aircraft to be efficiently or safely unloaded. Soon the airport became a bottleneck in the supply chain and after four days the Bam airport was closed lacking sufficient resources to clear the freight. The Iranian government went as far as to call donors not to send any more planes.

Fast forward to today.

The very same bottleneck is happening to Bandar Aceh airport in Sumatra. Supplies are arriving at the Bandar Aceh airport with little possibility of reaching the people who need them most.

It’s donate, donate, donate, and then send, send, send. Most countries around the world don’t have a clue on how to conduct relief work in a crisis. The UN talks weirdly about sending assessment teams in the future while people are dying daily. I’ll reserve my criticisms of the UN for a later post. That bungling bureaucratic organization is fast to talk and slow to act. How tragic. Compare that with the swift actions taken by the International Red Cross.

Against this background, the superb performances of Australia, Singapore and the United States stand out. In a situation like this, the first two weeks are critical. If a tsunami survivor is not dead, it is likely that he will die before aid arrives. But the airports, roads, and bridges have been destroyed. Jetties have disappeared so supply ships are unable to come to shore. And tons of food and drinking water are sitting at the airport in Bandar Aceh. The billions of dollars of foreign aid ain’t going to be worth shit to the survivor if he is not going to live long enough to get it!

Let me repeat:

In a crisis such as this, you need two things; heavy-lift helicopters and helicopter landing ships. A heavy-lift helicopter can carry four times as much as a medium helicopter and can also fly longer distances. It can bring the supplies from the ship to the people who are too weak to trek to the refugee camps.

Singapore has already six Chinooks(heavy-lift helicopters) and two Super Puma(medium lift helicopters) operating in Sumatra. By filling sandbags and working by hand, the Singaporeans have managed to build a landing site from the sea to Meulaboh, a town that was totally cut off by the effects of the tsunami. (Meulaboh’s old concrete jetty was broken in places by the tsunami and now structurally unsafe.)

Australia has four helicopters operating in Sumatra. In fact, the Aussies were practically the earliest to respond to Aceh’s plight. The US may be late, but they already have about 42 helicopters operating in the area.

The rest of the world is still waiting for the airport congestion in Bandar Aceh to clear miraculously by itself. We did not learn much from the Iranian earthquake experience last year, did we?

We may have differences with Singapore, disagree with Australia’s foreign policy, and I know that I made fun of President Bush in some previous posts. But in this crisis, they are the ones who are the most effective on the ground in Aceh.


Tuesday, January 04, 2005


The firmer, the better

Have a slight backache. I must have strained it a bit on my vacation.

Maybe I tried lifting something really heavy.

Or maybe it was caused by sleeping on hotel mattresses that were too soft. I saw a TV1 programme on Sunday that said that the wrong mattress can cause back problems.

I have an important rule regarding mattresses:
“The firmer, the better.”

The same rule has been known to be applied on the mistress. What she has should be firm. No saggy stuff.

And if that is not enough, it also applies to the equipment on the mister as well. Especially if the mister is on top of the mistress.
Who should be flat on her back on the mattress.
Notice how the word “mistress” is between the words “mister” and “mattress”?
That's because, physically, the mistress is usually between the mister and the mattress.

But everything should be firm. Because of the “the firmer, the better” rule.

Just like the opposite of “sane” is “insane”, by the same logic, the opposite of “firm” must be “infirm”. No, you don’t want to be infirmed.

But I’m rambling incoherently.

What’s the purpose of this drivel which I call a post?

Oh yeah……I got a backache.


Monday, January 03, 2005


First day of work this year

I was at work early today. Eager and ready to start the year on fresh note. Then the zombies started trickling in. And instead of working, everybody started telling their favourite tsunami stories. About how their sister’s boyfriend’s cousin’s fiancée’s third aunt was chased by the tsunami up the hill slope and she had to hide in a cardboard box. And how she trekked 10 miles through crocodile infested swamps to bring hope and care to the needy.

I didn’t have any stories to tell, so I buried myself in work.

When I was asked what I was doing during the tsunami, I sheepishly replied that I was busy enjoying myself and having a tremendously good time. Man, how embarrassing.

A colleague who heard that I was on holiday when the disaster struck, asked how I managed to cope with the trauma. Trauma? I replied in all honesty, “Errr....I had a really good cup of coffee and some moist chocolate cake.....”

Seeing his incredulous look, I almost died of shame. Gee, I don’t have any tsunami bragging rights. Not that I want them anyway. The thing is, I have always avoided places that have disasters.


Saturday, January 01, 2005


Wishing you a great year ahead.

What a subdued New Year it has been. I greeted it quietly and without fanfare. Many people have more things on their minds then to think about celebrating, I guess.

I was still on holiday when I saw the tsunami on TV on Dec 26th. It did not occur to me at that time that the toll could reach so high. But I called back to the folks at home just to check that they were all right. When I came back from the vacation, the reality of the graveness of the situation struck.

Nobody should feel guilty about losing loved ones to this disaster. It is not divine punishment. The rain falls equally on the just and the wicked. Tsunamis behave similarly.

Of the seven nations affected, Malaysia and the Maldives appeared to have escaped comparatively lightly. There may be ways I can contribute. I will first think of what I can do in the light of these events.

I thought that maybe I should do something to send out the old year. And begin a fresh start. So I threw out my old underwear yesterday. You know, out with the old to make way for the new. In my rush, I did not realise that the underwear I took for my vacation was still in the wash. So on New Year morning today, I did not have a single pair of underwear to wear. But it’s okay. I went to the supermarket in my shorts this morning without underwear underneath. I felt a cool breeze. Fresh and liberating. Perhaps I should try this more often.

After that, I will sit quietly and contemplate the nature of things. Like the impermanence of life and the tremendous forces of nature. Maybe, if I have time, I will also contemplate a bit about good food, good company, and stimulating sex. We still have so much to be thankful for.

Whether it is appropriate or not at this time, I still want to wish you, one and all, an enlightening year ahead.

May you be happy.


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