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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A classic case of ‘cakap tak serupa bikin’

Haresh Says, as published in Malay Mail today.

MY friend Rosman turned up at my house on Saturday in a not so pleasant mood.
Instead of exchanging pleasantries, he started shouting about open burning.
After allowing him to rant for a good five minutes, Rosman proceeded to explain what ticked him off.
“I’ve been noticing this group of people, whom I believe are residents of this particular Taman (a neighbourhood in Ampang, Selangor) setting trees on fire for the past week,” said Rosman.
“I’m sure they don’t own the land as it is located by the side of the main road. They are also destroying trees for other vegetation. But more importantly, such open burning activity is not helping the current hot and dry spell, contributing to hazy conditions.”
I told Rosman he was free to complain to the Department of Environment (DOE). After all, it’s director-general Datuk Halimah Hassan, had last month, said a strict ban was imposed on open burning in Selangor, Malacca and Johor to combat haze.
Halimah then said anyone found guilty of violating the ban could be fined up to RM500,000 or sentenced to up to a five year jail term, or both. A compound of RM2,000 may also be charged for each act.
After a quick Google search on his smartphone, Rosman found DOE’s toll free number and dialed 1-800-88-2727 at exactly 6.07pm (based on his phone’s call log). The 4.06 minutes conversation (once again based on his phone log) left Rosman fuming.
“The DOE officer, who answered the call, did not ask for my name or details. Instead he asked me for the address of people who were conducting open burning. How am I supposed to know?
“He then asked if the land was owned by the federal government or state government. If it was not federal government land, I must then file a complaint to the local council (Ampang Jaya Municipal Council). Do you think my father owns the Land Office for me to know the status of the land,” Rosman said sarcastically.
He did not lodge a complaint with the Council, adding he was already frustrated. He believed nothing will be done to stop more people from open burning in public spaces and later claiming the area as theirs.
Beyond Rosman’s rage, he had a point.
Ironically, the haze has been bad since Sunday. The Air Pollutant Index (API) reading in several locations in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Sarawak recorded unhealthy figures.
The episode made me ponder.
+ Why the DOE provides a toll-free number when it does not seem interested investigating complaints?
+ Wouldn’t such an lackadaisical attitude by authorities discourage the masses from lodging complaints?
+ What enforcement is being done (if any) as Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel had repeatedly, and in his Hari Raya Aidifitri message on Sunday, urge the public to report cases of opening burning by calling the toll-free number.
+ How many complaints are lodged to the department on a daily basis and the number of complaints acted upon?
  + Are people free to destroy trees in an area not belonging to them, plant their own vegetation and later claim ownership of it?
The same can also be said about the dengue epidemic which recorded unbelievable numbers nationwide. Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam was recently quoted as saying a total of 28,621 dengue cases and 38 deaths were recorded in Selangor since January 1 until July 19.
The statistics showed a three-fold increase compared to only 6,520 cases and seven deaths during the same period last year.
With a tinge of sarcasm, Rosman said: “Open burning, haze and dengue hurt us. Yet people do not seem bothered about it.
“The ministers and department heads will make feel-good announcements. Sadly, it is often not reflected at lower levels.
“It’s always the case of ‘cakap tak serupa bikin’ (failing to walk the talk), isn’t it?.”
I could not agree more.

Must Help Confederation

 The national hockey team were whacked 8-1 by the English national team before they were given a 4-2 lesson by Trinidad and Tobago in the on-going Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Naturally, fingers are being pointed at the players and coaches. Some alleged the poor performance could be a form of "protest". Do read '5 euro sehari'.

Others have, typically, demanded for a total revamp.

Here's a question though, why not seek for a total revamp within the Malaysian Hockey Confederation as well?

After all, there are plenty of officials there who CLAIM they are part of the national body but are often no where to be seen and responsibilities remain dubious.

Don't just say the national hockey team has produced a humiliating episode. The officials too are party to this national embarrasment.

By the way, Trinidad and Togabo is famous for its calypso, carnivals and goat-racing (picture).

HD says: Instead of making up excuses and justifying the results on Facebook, try addressing the problem. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Bittersweet night for Fatehah

As published in Malay Mail today.

 The roar of the crowd lifted her spirit as it was a bittersweet night for Fatehah Mustapha, Malaysia's flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

The national cyclist told Malay Mail that it was an emotional march as the team paid tribute to the 298 lives lost in the Flight MH17 tragedy.
Fatehah walked with the Jalur Gemilang flying at half-mast while six other national athletes and two officials donned Malaysia Airlines (MAS) cabin crew uniform — a plan engineered by Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to honour the victims of the airlines' second aviation disaster after the disappearance of Flight MH370 on March 8.
“It was sad as I was thinking of MH17 (while marching),” said 25-year-old Fatehah.
“At the same time, I am honoured to have led the national contingent. Walking in front of the contingent has motivated me to do well in my event.”
Fatehah was chosen as the flag bearer to replace national shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei who pulled out from the Games following a thigh injury.
She paid credit to her fellow athletes who had no hesitation in wearing the MAS uniforms.
Khairy had told Malay Mail on Thursday that he wanted a fitting tribute to the victims of the MH17 crash by getting several of the athletes and officials to wear the MAS uniforms over and above the black armband.
He also revealed the team lowered the flag by using scissors and tape when they were handed the flag outside the stadium just before the march-in.
“I am really proud to be Malaysian and I am proud to have been part of the team last night (opening ceremony),” Fatehah said.
She said beyond the well-executed tribute that won the hearts of many, the lives lost in the aviation tragedy was saddening. 
“Everyone feels the pain."
HD says: All the best Fatehah!

Friday, July 25, 2014

When they used scissors and tape to fly flag at half mast

As published in Malay Mail today.

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PETALING JAYA – It was a parade that won the admiration of many.
Not only was the Jalur Gemilang flown at half-mast but six athletes and two officials donned Malaysia Airlines (MAS) cabin crew uniforms as they marched in front of a roaring crowd, winning the hearts of those in the stadium and the millions watching from their homes.
As national cyclist Fatehah Mustapa, the flagbearer, led the national contingent at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games in Celtic Park yesterday, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaludin could only smile.
He was, after all, the man who engineered the need for the Malaysian team to pay tribute to the 298 lives lost in the Flight MH17 tragedy.
“It was the night we found out about the plane. By the time we learnt it was shot down, I knew we had to do something in Glasgow,” revealed Khairy.
“I thought about black armbands, which we also used, and felt it wasn’t enough. So I thought why not MAS crew uniform.”
The initial plan was to get every athlete and official participating in the parade to wear the cabin crew uniform instead of the recently designed national jersey.
“But I thought it was not practical and may lose its touch. So I asked for the front row of athletes to wear them.
“Fatehah was supposed to wear it (the MAS uniform) too but we had limited sizes.”
Six athletes -- Ju Pha Som Net (cycling), Surizan Awang Noh and Fatin Syafiqah Mohd Sukri (womens hockey), Nur Fidrah Noh and Fairoz Abd Jabal (lawn bowls) and Farizal Ismail (rugby) -- and two officials, rugby team manager Mohamad Fahmy Abdul Jalil and National Sports Council media officer Fahmi Omar wore the uniforms in honour of the victims.
The idea, however, did not go down too well with the secretariat as another airliner Emirates is the official partner of the Games and the official airline of the Queen’s baton relay.
“They (secretariat) were iffy about it but I told our chef-de-mission Datuk Ong Poh Eng to just do it. The secretariat didn’t allow Fatehah to carry the flag at half-mast but the team brought scissors and tape and when they were handed the flag just outside the stadium before the march-in, they lowered it.”
“So a bit of work went on behind the scenes to get it all done but it came off well.”
Khairy said he appreciated MAS chairman Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof’s support as he approved and lent the uniforms to the contingent and sent them to Glasgow.
And the effort paid off handsomely as the emotional pictures went viral online and is splashed on the front page of Malay Mail today – a fitting tribute by our national heroes to all those who perished in the unfortunate incident on July17.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Government servant? Chill, have a root beer

Haresh Says, as published in Malay Mail today.

This is in no way trying to poke fun or ridicule our civil service.
However, it does not help that several black sheep within government agencies and ministries tend to be bosses, even at times trying to outdo their ministers.
As a journalist I have come across interesting civil servants, some of whom have been extremely professional in their dealings.
But I met a sports journalist last week who said a particular civil servant “owned Malaysian sports”.
“He is even more powerful than Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin,” the reporter said sarcastically.
I could only smile.
There also those who are known to abuse their positions.
Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department deputy director (intelligence and operations) Datuk Abdul Jalil Hassan said police are looking for a key member of a syndicate involved in fake work permits, believed to be an Immigration Department officer. 
This jogs my memory of an incident that happened slightly over a decade ago in Shah Alam. I was involved in an accident and while dealing with the other motorist, a woman appeared out of nowhere demanding that I pay the other driver.
I asked: “And you are?”
Her instant reply: “I am a government servant!”
Oh please!
The word SERVANT is there for a reason, to serve the people. I hope such unwarranted attitude will not demoralise professional officials within the service.
To those who lord around despite signing off “saya yang menurut perintah”; chill and have a root beer!

A&W root beers are the best

Those who grew up watching Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, Thundercats, Voltron, He-Man and The Care Bears would remember enjoying a chilled glass of root beer at A&W.
The fast food chain was a hit for those who grew up in the 70s and 80s as the fast-food outlet at Jalan Sultan in Petaling Jaya (picture above) was iconic.
Opened in 1965, the restaurant was featured in several local movies including 1970 hit Gelora, starring the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee and Sarimah.
Memories came racing back following news that the building will make way for the development of two office towers valued at RM263 million next year. Such emotions are shared through the Facebook page ‘Save Iconic A&W’ set up recently.
It is no secret that A&W, despite boasting its ever popular root beer and coney dogs, have struggled to keep up with their rivals but franchise owner KUB Malaysia was recently quoted revealing the fast-food chain made a net profit of RM1.89 million last year.
It was also reported the outlet will be shut down temporarily and that the new restaurant will be housed within the new office blocks, complete with drive-through services.
It remains to be seen if the developers will retain the simplicity yet warm atmosphere A&W lovers have enjoyed over the years. 
But one thing is for sure, the number of times A&W has been mentioned in this column and all over the media, and the overwhelming support it has received has placed the company in the limelight, promising higher returns at the end of this year.

Memories last forever

The central processing unit (CPU) of my ever reliable desktop finally gave way. I was devastated as it has been a reliable tool over the past eight years, faster and more dependable than some of the fancy touch screen computers I have used in recent times.
A trip to my regular computer shop was met with a smile. Melvin, who often attends to my computing needs, told me I had to let go with the mentality that things tend to last forever.
“Bro, if a computer can last for more than five years these days, considered as bonus leh,” he said.
“The quality is not there. Even if you buy a more expensive machine, it will perhaps give you an additional year or maybe two, if you’re lucky. That’s technology, the faster it processes, the faster it will kong (dies).”
I believe the same can be said about every other item built today.
The only thing that lasts forever are memories — of playing Hitman: Blood Money on my then spanking brand new desktop and browsing the internet using IE (Internet Explorer).
The same would be said about eating at the iconic A&W restaurant in Petaling Jaya, as many celebrated their birthdays there and interactors and prefects from nearby schools planned their annual International Understand Day and gatherings there.
Even memories of interacting with peculiar government servants will linger.
And for those who have lost someone — either on the streets of Gaza, the downing of Flight MH17 or the missing Flight MH370 — the good memories they shared with their loved will be stored in their hearts and minds forever.