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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Azmin can be hockey’s champion

Going Nuts as published in Mailsport today

WRESTLING was once described by respected English journalist James Lawton as finely orchestrated fake violence — with real injuries.

He forgot to mention the compelling drama, brilliant scripts and formidable actors aka the wrestlers who make docile grandmothers scream and spit at their television sets while watching the “action” unfold.

Wrestlers can be the face (good guys) one day and heel (bad guys) the next and there doesn’t have to be a reason why one switches from one character to another.

Similarly, Azmin Ali was seen as a “heel” when he took over from Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim as Selangor menteri besar two months ago.

Since then, however, the 50-year-old Gombak MP has gone on a charm offensive in a bid to become a “face”.

His recent move to give the state’s 12 opposition MPs RM200,000 each to use for their constituency plus a Toyota Camry worth RM200,000 to opposition leader Datuk Mohd Shamsudin Lias including bearing the costs of fuel and the salaries of a driver and secretary totalling RM100,424 annually under his People Friendly Programme, was lauded by everyone.

Until, that is, the Umno reps made an about turn to reject the offer after initially welcoming it — as they feel it is not enough. The state government MPs receive RM700,000 each.

So that means there is a RM2.5 million surplus (not including the price of a second hand Camry). Loose change for the richest state in Malaysia.

What can Azmin do with the extra cash?

Well, how about using it to repair the Pandamaran and PJ Hockey Stadiums?

The Pandaraman Stadium was declared unsafe by the Selangor Hockey Association (SHA) in 2010 while the PJ stadium has not been repaired since 2003.

It is estimated it would cost RM4.45 million to repair Pandamaran and another RM3.5 million for PJ.

Pandamaran is among the oldest hockey stadiums in the country. It was built in 1984 and only changed its carpet/turf once — in 1998.

In January, former Pandamaran assemblyman Ronnie Lau said the state approved some RM600,000 for Klang Municipal Council to refurbish Pandamaran Stadium. However, only minor repair works were carried out.

State governments and chief ministers have come and gone and yet not a single soul has bothered to help restore either stadium — perhaps it wasn’t appealing enough to the voters.

Malay Mail and other media organisations have highlighted the pathetic condition of these two venues over the years and now there could be a light at the end of this long dark tunnel.

On Nov 1, executive councillor for Youth Generation Sports, Culture and Entrepreneur Development, Amirudin Shari visited the PJ Stadium and claimed the state budget (which was tabled on Monday) would discuss the approval of funds for the repair works on both stadiums.

SHA has yet to hear anything but its officials are keeping their fingers crossed.

SHA has soldiered on despite the many empty promises from the elected leaders and it is a miracle it has remained among the more successful associations despite not having a single pitch to use.

The Selangor league, which attracts 20-25 teams and 400-500 players, continues — with matches played in and around Kuala Lumpur.

It’s time something is done.

Azmin can, to use a wrestling metaphor, become “the people’s (hockey) champion” by finally settling the hockey woes in the state.

If you smell, what SHA is cooking …

Naming rights

Kuala Lumpur folks are up in arms over the decision to change the names of nine major roads.

They are Jalan Duta (Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim), Jalan Khidmat Usaha (Jalan Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah), Jalan Ipoh (Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah), Persiaran Duta (Persiaran Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin), Jalan Khidmat Setia and Jalan Ibadah (Jalan Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin), Lebuhraya Mahameru (Lebuhraya Sultan Iskandar), Persiaran Mahameru (Persiaran Tuanku Ja’afar) and Jalan Semarak (Jalan Sultan Yahya Petra).

Most agree it is good to honour our past kings but said it would have been better to name new roads or since there is already a Persiaran Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah in Putrajaya the other roads there could have been renamed after the other monarchs.

This way, it does not affect the heritage and history of these roads.

But, how about naming our sporting arenas after them?

Instead of the plain National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, wouldn’t it have been better to rename it after Sultan Ahmad Shah, the long serving FA of Malaysia president who was King from 1979-1984?

There’s also Malawati, Putra, Juara and Shah Alam Stadium among others in the Klang Valley with bland sounding names.

It’s enough to drive one nuts.

Graig Nunis is Sports Editor, Malay Mail. He can be reached at:  or on Twitter @gnunis1892

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

They are blind but are not stupid

Haresh Says as published in Malay Mail today

THE inability to see the beautiful colours of the rainbow or the smiles on the faces of our loved ones can be extremely painful.

If you are reading this, then it is something you will never understand.

Perhaps the closest you can get to understanding the life of our visually handicapped friends will be through Lou Ye’s extraordinary work — the ‘Blind Massage’.

Based on Bi Feiyu’s novel, the movie stars blind amateur actors as massage therapists displaying challenges in going about their daily lives and aspirations of living life to the fullest.

Fittingly, the movie won six honours out of the seven categories it was nominated for, including Best Feature Film and Best Screenplay Adaptation, at the 51st Golden Horse film awards in Taiwan on Saturday night.

I feel for our handicapped sisters and brothers — more so when they are manipulated by their able-bodied ‘trustees’.

In 2011, I met several para-athletes, including those visually-impaired, as they were upset over the 70 per cent reduction in their reward scheme handed out during a ceremony in Kuching days before the Sarawak elections.

This led to an even bigger expose in Malay Mail on June 9, 2011 that the Malaysian Paralympic Council (MPC) transferred RM4 million to Paralimpik Ventures Sdn Bhd.

The expose also revealed:

● Then MPC president Datuk Zainal Abu Zarin and his sons Idi Irwan and Ilia Ikhwan were directors of Paralimpik Ventures.

● MPC council members were clueless over the supposed RM4 million ‘investment’.

 A motion to suspend Zainal was passed at the council’s annual meeting in June. But the council wrote off the sum, describing it as “irrecoverability of the investment”. Down the drain, just like that.

Last Saturday, Malay Mail made another startling revelation involving the blind community.

A motion by visually impaired masseuse Siti Khadijah Abu Bakar during the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) council meeting drew the spotlight over the management of the Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital (THONEH).

Siti Khadijah demanded the removal of an MAB council member, who was also a top THONEH official. Unlike other hospitals, THONEH has 10 MAB council members sitting on its board. The medical facility — brainchild of former prime minister Tun Hussein Onn — was established on MAB’s land in 1986.

The paper investigated the claims and painfully discovered: 

● The official had entered into two cross-merchandising agreements with Alcon Laboratories (M) Sdn Bhd and Carl Zeiss Sdn Bhd without knowledge or approval of the hospital board. The contracts bore signatures of the official and another THONEH official.

●  According to the agreements, THONEH is bound to spend close to RM20.5 million in buying products from Carl Zeiss and Alcon Laboratories over a period of four and five years respectively in return for six machines and software provided by the companies.

● Industry experts estimate the hospital will overspend close to RM5 million based on its current annual spending and the expenditure required under the contracts.

The contracts came into effect on July 1 and Aug 1. But the matter was only highlighted during the hospital’s board meeting on Aug 16.

Our reporter Ushar Daniele was at MAB Complex in Brickfields for the council meeting but was denied entry into the hall where the meeting was held. She milled around but MAB chief executive officer Datuk S. Ganeson refused to comment over the episode.

But others who attended the meeting had plenty to tell.

“There were two council members who raised the motion to privatise the hospital. This is what happens when you have members who do not understand the history of the hospital,” said a frustrated council member.

Siti Khadijah insisted the hospital board should have been informed of these deals.
“We may be blind but we are not stupid,” she said.

MAB vice-president Hasidi Hassan, had a day before the meeting said: “We need people to be transparent and the last thing we need is for them to take advantage of us.”

The hospital board will meet on Dec 3 to discuss the matter further.

For the record, cross-merchandising agreements between hospitals and medical companies are common. But so are kickbacks, as industry players will reluctantly tell.

Perhaps there was a need to bring in new machines, in the hope of more patients coming to THONEH. This would then see an increase in revenue. But this should only be done in consultation with the board.

To privatise the hospital would rubbish the noble deed of our former prime minister who painstakingly secured public funds to ensure Malaysians obtained proper eye care treatment.

We must keep abreast with the times — may it be securing the latest technology, adapting a profitable business model and injecting fresh ideas when running the organisation.

But the character and objective of the medical facility must not be sacrificed in the process.
The members, and the blind community, are the biggest stakeholders. Without them and without MAB, THONEH would not exist.

Let’s not be blinded by our actions. Let’s not insult our handicapped friends.

They are not stupid.

HARESH is executive editor of Malay Mail. Write to him at or on Twitter @HareshDeol

Monday, November 24, 2014

Raising bar on CCTV abilities

Voice of the Valley as published in Malay Mail today

By Pearl Lee

THE effectiveness of surveillance cameras in the country has come under massive scrutiny over the past few weeks.

?First it was the shocking revelation that footage from Internet-Protocol (IP)-based closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras were screened illegally on

?The website showed images from thousands of CCTVs around the globe, including more than 800 locations in Malaysia.

Users were able to view and monitor what transpired in homes, offices, boutiques and even goldsmith shops. Even shocking is the locations of the images, in the form of coordinates, were made available on the website.

The creator of the website wanted to prove a point — tapping into one’s system was easily done, especially so with generic usernames and passwords. It was to serve as a lesson, to understand and appreciate the importance of having an alphanumeric password.

Even streets and government buildings in Putrajaya were not spared as during one occasion, footage from 16 surveillance cameras were broadcast online.

A blame game ensued. Customers rapped their CCTV solution providers for not stressing the importance of changing their login credentials and passwords. Solution providers argued the onus was on the customers to change their usernames and passwords.

Several solution providers admitted generic usernames and passwords will enable them to troubleshoot remotely.

While the rage continued as consumers saw their privacy violated, the authorities seemed clueless over the action of the Russian-based website.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) insisted the matter was not within their jurisdiction. CyberSecurity Malaysia said they could only act upon receiving orders from police or MCMC.

But authorities elsewhere are not taking this matter lightly.

The UK’s Information Commissioner Christopher Graham, had on Thursday, said it was trying to work the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) together with Australian, Canadian and Russian authorities to shut down

Last year, FTC fined a webcam company for similar security issues., however, has stopped streaming live feeds. It remains unclear if it was following a directive from the authorities or done voluntarily.

The episode may soon be forgotten, as many more homes and offices will continue to use generic login credentials. But this has certainly served as a reminder to how easy our privacy can be invaded even in the comfort of our bedroom.

There is another security concern involving surveillance cameras.

Police said blurry images were the main reason to why investigations into the Oct 9 Bukit Bintang grenade attack have yet to be resolved.

Investigators had sourced for images from about 100 cameras belonging to companies and business entities in and around Cherry Blossom pub in Sun Complex, hoping to identify the culprits who had thrown two hand grenades which killed one and injured 13 people.

But police only managed to sketch the face of one suspect while the other remains a mystery.
The episode reveal the ineffectiveness of CCTV cameras which are probably not maintained or how faulty or the non-presence of cameras being operated by local authorities can hamper police investigations.

The Kuala Lumpur City Hall, had in 1966, implemented a CCTV system to monitor traffic but it was not until 2003 that a traffic monitoring system known as the Integrated Transport Information System (ITIS) was implemented on a larger scale in the city.

In June, City Hall announced it was going to roll out 1,200 CCTV cameras by next month to monitor traffic flow and crime in the city. The exercise will cost RM190 million and about 300 from the 1,200 cameras will be monitored by police.

The new cameras will compliment the existing 300 cameras which were installed by City Hall in 2005. The exercise nine years ago cost City Hall RM365 million but was deemed a failure as more than 60 per cent of the cameras were not in working order.

Undoubtedly, CCTV cameras are excellent crime monitoring tools.

Such surveillance devices took a new meaning last year after the authorities managed to locate two suspects linked to the Boston Marathon bombings.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation managed to identify and track down the movements of brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev with the aid of three security cameras in downtown Boston.

The strategic locations of the cameras enabled investigators to track down their movements as they got into position to detonate the bombs.

It is imperative for the authorities to not only install these devices in high traffic areas and crime hot-spots, but they should consider installing the cameras in notorious areas and back lanes.

Otherwise, we would be staring at another blurry image which will not do justice in curbing illegal and criminal activities.

PEARL is roving news editor of Malay Mail. She can be reached at or on Twitter @pearllee22

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hospital board to meet Dec 3 over alleged dubious deals

As published in Sunday Mail today.

By Ushar Daniele

KUALA LUMPUR — Following the allegations of irregularities over deals made between a hospital administrator and two medical companies without the board’s knowledge, the Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital (THONEH) board will discuss the issue in a meeting on December 3.

The subject was revealed after visually impaired masseuse Siti Khadijah Abu Bakar (pic) raised a motion on the matter during the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) council meeting at MAB Complex in Brickfields yesterday.

Siti Khadijah demanded the removal of the hospital administrator — also an MAB council member — who had allegedly secured two cross-merchandising agreements worth RM20.5 million without the approval of the hospital board.

It was learnt another motion — to privatise THONEH — was also raised during the council meeting but will only be discussed by MAB council members in its next meeting early next year.

MAB chief executive officer Datuk S. Ganesan, who was seen with the hospital administrator after the council meeting yesterday, refused to comment.

An MAB council member who attended the meeting, however, revealed the hospital board was not amused over the matter and hoped to receive a proper explanation during the December 3 meeting.

“Our president (Tengku Azlan Abu Bakar) had in the meeting said it would be best for the hospital board and the individuals linked to the deal to discuss the matter during its board meeting,” he said, requesting anonymity.

“Yes, a motion to privatise the hospital was raised by two council members.

“This matter would have to be discussed further by the MAB board.

“It is not an easy task to privatise the hospital because you must understand its history and purpose.”

Some 10 MAB council members sit in the hospital board.

The medical facility — the brainchild of former prime minister Tun Hussein Onn — was established in 1986 to provide state-of-the-art eye care to Malaysians.

The hospital in Petaling Jaya was built on MAB land through public donations.

Malay Mail, in its front-page expose yesterday, uncovered the agreements between the hospital administrator and Alcon Laboratories (M) Sdn Bhd and Carl Zeiss Sdn Bhd.

According to the agreement, THONEH was bound to spend RM20.5 million by buying products from Carl Zeiss and Alcon Laboratories over a period of four and five years respectively, in return for six machines and software provided by the companies.

The agreements, which came into effect on July 1 and August 1, bore the signatures of the administrator and another top hospital officer.

The hospital board was in the dark over the contracts and it was only brought to its attention during a board meeting on August 16.

An industry expert and insider claimed the hospital would overspend close to RM5 million, based on its current annual spending and the expenditure required under the contracts.

Malay Mail also learnt the administrator had been a visiting consultant for THONEH since January 1 last year.

Siti Khadijah confirmed that the motion was raised during the meeting but no decision was made about the matter.

“The committee, including Tengku Azlan, did raise the issue but it was mentioned that it was only one side of the story.

“Two individuals are involved, so the board decided to discuss it further on December 3,” Siti Khadijah said.

Siti Khadijah, however, said that there was no need to defer the meeting another day just to hear both sides of the story, because those who were involved were both present at the meeting yesterday.

She said there were committee members who even demanded to be allowed to sit in at the THONEH meeting.

She said the meeting should not be limited to just executive councillors and council members only.

“If there is something wrong, we members demand to know what is happening.

“Members from the MAB want to know what is going on,” she said.

“I am not emotional over the matter, but what I can do is to highlight the grouses of the blind community.

“The blind need help and what do we get in return?”

AFF Cup: Malaysia must stay positive; We can't take Tigers lightly, warns Avramovic; Safiq wants spot back

As published in today's Mailsport

Reports by Vijhay Vick

SINGAPORE - Mahali Jasuli hopes to end Malaysia's jinx when they play Myanmar today.

 “We need a positive start. If we drop points it could cause us problem when we face Thailand and Singapore, who are the favourites to reach the semis,” said Mahali, who is aware  Malaysia lost their last two opening matches in the AFF Cup in 2010 and 2012.

 “A win over be the perfect booster after poor results in our recent matches. It will ease some pressure as well."

Mahali would likely start at rightback as Dollah Salleh's preferred choice Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak was left out due to injuries.

Mahali also stressed they must not let the poor preparations affect them.

Harimau Malaya only have one win - 4-1 over lowly Cambodia - from five preparation matches since August.

They lost to Tajikistan (4-1), Indonesia (2-0), Syria (3-0) and Vietnam (3-1).

“Our results in the friendlies were poor but we have moved on. We start on a clean slate. It's the same for all the teams," he said.

Meanwhile, defending champions and co-hosts Singapore are confident of topping Group B and retaining the AFF Cup.

The other teams in the group are Thailand, Malaysia and Mynamar.

"Thailand look like the best team but that means nothing to me. I am confident of winning," said Singapore coach Bernd Stange.

"We are ready to go and are well prepared. The expectations are high and we want to achieve our aims.

"I'm certain the crowd at National Stadium in Kallang will be supportive."

Singapore have a solid line-up in the central department - be it in attack or defence.

Shahdan Sulaiman and Hariss Harun man the engine room while proven centrebacks Baihakki Khaizan and Safuwan Baharudin provide cover for goalkeeper Hassan Sunny.


We can't take Malaysia lightly, warns Avramovic

MYANMAR coach Radojko Avramovic, who has been coaching in this region since 2003, insists Malaysia could surprise everyone despite losing four of the last five matches.

"The win in 2012 is in the past. Malaysia are different and this side have more experience," said Avramovic, who led Singapore to a 3-0 victory over Malaysia two years ago en route to the title.
"It is difficult to say I know their game. It will be interesting.

"Our qualification wasn't so great but we are here to win all three matches. Realistically, we need to also see where we are compared to the other teams."

His counterpart Dollah Salleh said he expects Myanmar to be tough opponents after seeing them at the AFF Cup qualifying tournament in Laos last month.

"They are difficult to break down," said Dollah.

"I'm looking forward to testing myself against Radojko. I faintly remember a match during my playing days where we went up against his team (Oman Under-23). Now we are both on the touchline."

AFF decided the National Stadium in Kallang would not be used for pre-match training to preserve the pitch.

'I want my place back'

SINGAPORE - It is his third Asean Football Federation (AFF) Cup but it is a different ball game for central midfielder Safiq Rahim.

The 27-year-old skippered Malaysia in the last two editions with the team built around him. This time, he may not even start.

Though there are more senior players in the squad such as 35-year-old Shukor Adan and 33-year-old Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Safiq reckons he still has a role to play.

"The captaincy doesn't matter. It's part and parcel of football. Everything is based on performance," said Safiq.

"We need to have the confidence, stay focused and listen to the coach's instructions.
"I hope we get off to good start. Teamwork must be at optimum to reach our potential."
Many criticised Safiq's inclusion in 2012 due to his poor performance in the M-League with Selangor and he then failed to shine as Malaysia lost in the semifinals.

This time he comes in on a high having played a key role for Johor Darul Takzim as they won the Super League and finished runners-up in the Malaysia Cup earlier this month.

Safiq said he has recovered from a right knee injury but conceded it would be a tough fight to get into the line-up with Badhri Radzi, Gary Steven Robbat, Baddrol Bakhtiar and Hafiz Kamal ahead of him.

"But I will do all I can to get back into the starting line-up."

Malaysia kick off their campaign against Myanmar tonight.

FORMULA E: Bird rules the roost in Putrajaya

As published in Sunday Mail today

By Nicolas Anil

PUTRAJAYA - Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird soared to a dominant win in an action-packed second race of the Formula E at Putrajaya yesterday.
Bird, who finished third at the maiden race in Beijing two months ago, was emotional after his victory.
“I want to dedicate this victory to a good friend of mine who is ill. It’s really unfortunate that he has to struggle so much right now, so this one is for him," said Bird without naming his friend.
“It’s been an amazing week for me. I did well in practice and started second on the grid and my good start helped pave the way to a consistent race. This is our first win as a team in our first season. I’m delighted and hope we can keep this up.”
Bird's masterclass driving saw him lead the 20-driver field from the first lap held a seven-second lead before he turned into the pitlane.
The ex Formula 3 driver regained the lead, temporarily held by Audi Sport’s Daniel Abt, with four laps to go and blitzed to his first win in the championship in 51:11.979 seconds.
Brazil’s Lucas di Grassi, who had won the first race, benefitted from several crashes to finish second (51:16.154) despite starting from 18th, while Switzerland's Sebastian Buemi’s was third (51:17.718s).
The big names suffered crashes and Venturi E Team driver Nick Heidfeld was slalomed by Frenchman Franck Montagy who made contact in his bid to overtake the German.
The former Formula One driver, who was also involved in an accident with Nicolas Prost in Beijing, was forced to retire.
He was joined in the non-classification by Nelson Piquet Jr who was also ruled out after being infringed by Italy’s Jarno Trulli.
Di Grassi leads the drivers' standings on 43 points, three ahead of Bird.
The drivers and teams will head to Punta del Esta in Uruguay for the next race on Dec 13. The 10-race championship will conclude in London in June next year.

Top five
1. Sam Bird (Virgin Racing) 51:11.979s
2. Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport) 51:16.154s
3. Sebastian Buemi (e.dams Renault) 51’17.718s
4. Nicolas Prost (e.damn Renault) 51’21:531s
5. Jerome D’Ambrosio (Dragon Racing) 51’25:701s

Excitingly fun day at Formula E

By Audrey Edwards

PUTRAJAYA — Months of hard work culminated in less than an hour when drivers of the FIA Formula E Champioship drove their hearts out in a race that saw the safety car come out twice before 10 laps of the race was done. 
And throughout the morning and afternoon, spectators who turned up at the Putrajaya ePrix circuit had the entire stretch of both sides of the circuit to stroll and take part in various activities offered to them besides taking a timeout at the cooling zone or grabbing a bite at the food trucks and stalls that dotted near the eVillage. 
Among the attractions that drew the crowds were the Formula E race simulators, autograph sessions from the 20 drivers and the power bike challenge carried out by DHL. 
The e-bike action booth also saw them checking out cyclists carrying out various tricks while EJ (electric jockey as opposed to disc jockey) also made an appearance at the eVillage. 
Umbrellas and caps were the chosen accessories while those who turned up were not dressed in the usual favourite team t-shirt although one or two cut a figure with their Formula One Red Bull Racing shirts. 
Some of those at the grandstand near the grid also called out to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak when he took a tour of the paddock area and starting line-up before the race started. 
There was a slight tingle of anticipation before the race got started on its 31 laps as people looked forward to hearing the electric cars start the race. 
Some said it sounded like a giant remote control car while others described it as something out of a science fiction movie. 
The sound, which is approximately 80 decibels (more than the 70 decibels produced by an average petrol car) comes courtesy of a combination of the tyres on track, the car’s aero package and electric drivetrain. 
And as the cars went down the straight at fast speeds, the crowds could take comfort in the fact there was no need to put on ear plugs as opposed to the noisier Formula One races. 
It was a race never seen before in Malaysia and it was only the second venue after Beijing to host a Formula E Championship. 
The street circuit, which was easy to walk on with its pedestrian walkways and trees to provide shelter from the searing heat definitely made the going easier for those who turned up in droves.
There were also benches for them to rest after walking the length of the circuit while there were makeshift pedestrian bridges to cross from one side of the track to the other.  
And in the distance, landmarks like the Prime Minister’s Office could be seen.
Those lucky enough had the chance to take a walk on the grid before the start of the race and take random shots of drivers and other team members. 
The grid girls proved popular among those frantically snapping photos. And the same went for the three girls who held the FanBoosted sign for the three drivers (Katherine Legge, Bruno Senna and Nick Heidfeld) who received the most votes from FanBoost. 
FanBoost allows fans to vote for their favourite driver by giving them an extra “speed burst” during the race, which helps in overtaking.
When the race started, fans were seen either staying put at the grandstands or walking from one spot to another behind the metal safety barriers to catch a glimpse of the cars whizzing by. 
And they went wild and cheered enthusiastically for Sam Bird from Virgin Racing, who became the first Putrajaya ePrix winner. 
And while the fans waited hours before the race started, their exit from the circuit seemed easy enough with the different exit points while others stayed behind to take more shots of the venue in the midst of overcast clouds. 


A future with electric cars, says PM

By Audrey Edwards

PUTRAJAYA — Malaysia will push and play its part for a future where electric cars are the mainstay of the day.
“I think the way forward is electric cars. We must go electric,” Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday after attending the inaugural Putrajaya Formula E race. 
“It’s the future. And you talk about carbon emission, I think all cars should be electric one day.”
He said the key was to produce batteries which were cheaper and lasted longer.
On the race itself, Najib said the Putrajaya street circuit was ideal for Formula E races.  
“We will try to continue with it.”
He said the race had managed to showcase Malaysia and the country’s administrative capital to 120 countries that telecast it “live”.
Najib said the race, which is the second race in the FIA Formula E Championship calendar after Beijing, was an “excellent” race. 
“It was very exciting and the circuit is lovely. Everybody is happy. I’ve talked to the drivers and organisers, and they are happy.”
Formula E Malaysia Sdn Bhd chairman Datuk Seri Johann Young said there were about 91,000 people who came in with general admission ticket and another 3,000 were on the grandstands, adding that the “live” broadcast was also the best branding one could get for the country. 
“It has been a great success for Malaysia,” Young said.
Young said the crowds were spread out throughout the circuit area and they were treated to various entertainment by way of the cultural and e-villages. 
When asked about teething problems faced by the organiser, he said they would continue improvng on it. 
“It’s our first year. It takes time to learn what mistakes we made,” he said, adding that a post-mortem would be carried out. 
Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also said the race was a “good thing” as it promoted the country overseas. 
“They have a chance to see Malaysia and also Putrajaya. I feel good.”


Autograph seeker brimming with joy at being the first 

PUTRAJAYA — The way Mohammad Basheer was shrieking with joy and sprinting towards his friends, it looked like he had just won the lottery. 
The 16-year-old’s excitement was because he had been the first in line for the FIA Formula E Championship drivers’ autograph session and proceeded to show off his “loot” to the rest of his friends.
He had just gotten the autographs of his favourite drivers Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt from the Audi Sport Abt team. 
“I even got a flash drive because I was the first in line,” said the Nilai International School student, adding that he had been queued for about two hours before the session started. 
Mohammad, from Saudi Arabia, was among the thousands of people who turned up to watch the Putrajaya ePrix yesterday. 
“I was so excited  I couldn’t sleep last night.
“I have been looking forward to this and my teacher bought the tickets a month ago.”
The 34 students were chaperoned by their teacher, Wan Dalila Wan Ismail, who said the trip was part of their business studies to study about green technology. 
Another racing fan who was spotted at the circuit after the autograph session was Farah Lee, who came with her mother Rosalind Leong. 
“It was a huge rush and I felt like a tiny tuna in a very compact can,” Lee said. 
“There just wasn’t any designated line for us.”
Lee, 30, who has been to the Formula One races at the Sepang International Circuit, added that the Formula E could be a viable start for races in the future. 
She also said that the organisation of the race could be improved including having more promotional activities.
Ahmad Fazilla Othman, who works with Putrajaya Holdings, said the event was a good idea to showcase Putrajaya and Malaysia to the world. 
“At least there is some excitement plus I’m excited to see these environmental-friendly cars,” he said. 
James Hayduk, a Brit who has been working in Malaysia for the past year in the oil and gas industry, was seen with his two sons, Edward, four; and George, two.
“My son (Edward) loves watching race cars and I had wanted to take him for the Formula One but we thought it would be too loud for him,” he said. 
“But here, it’s not too loud and the race is only an hour, which is perfect. It’s great to see street racing and it’s something that boys like. He said the cars were faster than Lightning McQueen (from the movie Cars).”

Nabil Jeffri - 'Maid' to race, born to win

As published in today's Mailsport

By Prem Kumar

SPEND five minutes with Nabil Jeffri and you know he lives and breathes racing.
But long before the 21-year-old driver made his Formula BMW Pacific debut in 2010, his journey started on the lap of a Thai woman.
“When I first sat in a go-kart at the age of four, it was on the lap of my maid,” recalls Nabil, shortly after we sit down for a chat.
“I remember my family visiting a circuit in Kuantan and I really wanted to drive. Unfortunately I couldn’t reach the (accelerator) pedals so she placed me on her lap and took care of that part while I steered the wheel left and right.
“We returned for holidays every year and I was always eager to drive. It was my maid who accompanied me and assisted me until I was old enough to reach the pedals.”
Nabil may owe his interest in the sport to Kak Mah, 40, his family’s long-serving domestic helper who still follows his career, but if was not for grandfather Pawanteh Che Din, he would not be where he is today.
Through the frequent trips to Kuantan, Pawanteh took note of his grandson’s love for speed and started exposing him to other speed-related activities like jet-skiing.
Nabil eventually chose go-karting and took it up seriously at seven and his career has gone from strength to strength.
“It began as a hobby but when I started getting better at it I realised I could go far,” explains Nabil.

Record breaker

By the time he was 16, Nabil was a karting star, winning the Asian and Malaysian Rotax Max Junior Championships. He also finished an impressive sixth at the World Finals the same year. He then stepped up to Formula BMW in 2010 with Eurasia Motorsport.
Nabil’s steady rise caught the attention of AirAsia supremo Tan Sri Tony Fernandes - then owner of Formula One team Lotus Racing - who offered the 16-year-old a chance to carry out an aero-dynamic test at Duxford’s Imperial War Museum runway, becoming the youngest racer in F1 history to do so.
“I was very proud and still am,” says Nabil, whose record still stands.
“When most 16-year-olds were in school studying, I was testing a 320kmh car thanks to Tony. It was an unforgettable experience. Now my appetite to get there (F1) and race with the amazing drivers I had the privilege of spending time with has grown bigger,” adds Nabil, who hopes to race with his idol Lewis Hamilton one day.
Starting young meant Nabil had to juggle studies with his racing commitments, a punishing task nevertheless made easier by his teachers and classmates at SMK Damansara Utama, who were always happy to lend a helping hand with “homework and stuff like that”.
“I was rarely at school.
“But everyone was brilliant, especially the teachers. I remember coming back from a race in Macau a day before SPM and they were kind enough to give me some very useful last minute tips,” remembers Nabil, who scored 9As.
Discipline is also a very important aspect of Nabil’s life. His day starts at 8am with cycling, swimming or running before hitting the gym.
He tries to get enough rest between his activities but that was not always the case.

Hard lesson

“When I first arrived in Europe last year, I just went for races without training. Having won everything domestically and continentally, I thought I was still a champion. I did not take care of my fitness and ate whatever I wanted and was in really, really bad shape,” admits Nabil, who is now particular about the food he puts into his system, trains regularly and even plans his day according to European time!
“When the first test came, I only managed two laps. I was gasping for breath and my neck hurt. The G-force in F3 is high and some of the turns are even faster than F1. You really need to be very fit.
“That was a wake-up call for me,” reflects Nabil, who will compete in his first triathlon next week in Morib.
Nabil will participate in European Formula 3 for the next two seasons after recently completing his second German F3 Cup season as runner-up to Germany’s Markus Pommer.
The Petronas Talent Development Programme driver’s ultimate aim remains F1.
“I have been set a goal by Petronas and if I achieve that, they’ve promised me the chance of being a reserve driver for their F1 team in a couple of years’ time. I’m confident I will because I know I have the talent and I trust myself a lot,” says the determined lad, who also plays futsal regularly to stay in shape.
Eldest of three male siblings, Nabil’s drive and steely determination to achieve his Formula One dream is clear to see.
It would not be long before Malaysia witnesses another driver at the sport's highest stage.

Name: Muhammad Nabil Jeffri
Date of birth: Oct 24, 1993
From: Kuala Lumpur
Hobbies: Practicing on racing simulator, road-biking
Favourite food: Chicken rice

Favourite other spor: Futsal