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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

GOING NUTS: Can we all get along?

As published in Malay Mail today

Going Nuts
By Graig Nunis
MERDEKA is just over a month away and Malaysia Day a further 16 days down the road.
To most Malaysians Aug 31 is the bigger celebration and it was only since 2010 that Malaysia Day became a public holiday — even though this is when we truly became the nation we are today following the inclusion of Sabah and Sarawak.

Shouldn’t we be celebrating this on a grander scale?

So it is not hard to sympathise with the organisers of the Sarawak Freedom and Independent Walk on July 22 who are pressing for the state to make that date a public holiday to celebrate the day Sarawak was granted independence by the British colonial rulers in 1963.

However, as usually is the case when it involves east Malaysians, many have jumped on the bandwagon and there were reports some wanted to misuse the event to talk about Sarawak seceding from Malaysia.

And as usual, the police, led by IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, have acted quickly to haul up organiser Peter John Jaban for questioning.

After all, he is just a commoner.

Meanwhile, Johor prince Tunku Idris Ibrahim who twice posted on Instagram about the possibility of Johor leaving Malaysia, has yet to be questioned.

This issue was raised in this column on July 7 and checks revealed no further action.

Or perhaps the police have spoken to Tunku Idris and didn’t reveal it to the media in which case the adage: “Justice should not only be done but also be seen to be done” is apt.

How can we respect the police when there is a blatant case of double standards? Why shoud the rich and powerful be above the law?

Many Sarawakians feel “used” by the federal government. 

The quote you often heard if you travel there is “our resources such as oil and timber are taken and only a minimal amount comes back.”

They feel saying the Sarawak Freedom and Independent Walk is a means to secede is just an excuse to oppress them further. 

Many do not want to break away. All they want is some form recognition as equals to the semanjung states.

Is that too much to ask?

Naturalised only top ‘Dollah’ players

Friday’s friendly between Liverpool and a Malaysia XI threw up the question of naturalised players once again.

Dollah Salleh fielded five foreigners — Thiago Junior De Aquino, Patrick Wleh, Vincent Bikana, Zah Rahan Krangar and Charles Souza Chad — and they helped the hosts to a 1-1 draw.

Wleh opened the scoring for Malaysia XI while Jordan Ibe equalised for the Reds.

Dollah has been an advocate of using naturalised players while his biggest critic, former Johor FA president Tunku Ismail Ibrahim, is firmly against it.

The Johor crown prince reiterated his stand on Thursday when, besides blasting FA of Malaysia and their president Tengku Abdullah Shah for their shortcomings, urged FAM not to take shortcuts in developing the national team.

It is a delicate balance but superpowers such as Spain, Germany and Italy have used or are still using naturalised players — to great effect.

However, before Dollah and FAM do go down that road, they must ensure they have exhausted the talent pool at their disposal.

As mentioned in Going Nuts on March 24, having naturalised players could help Malaysia in the short term but only if the right players are chosen and th said players have some sort of connection to Malaysia like Junior Eldstal and Brendan Gan.

If we have to weigh the options before opting to naturalise a player and we must not be like our neighbours who “buy” players for the sake of it.

Wrong gear for GP

It is a case of better late than never for the Kuala Lumpur City Grand Prix organisers who belatedly will apply for a license from the Sports Commissioner’s Office.

Malay Mail had quoted Sports Commissioner Datuk Zaiton Othman on Friday as saying her office was unaware of any application for the race.

Failure to obtain a licence breaches the Sports Development Act 1997 which carries a fine of up to RM5,000 or a jail term or both.

And it was only yesterday that the traffic management plan was released — less than two weeks before next week’s event!


No wonder the public, business owners and those involved in public transportation have been up in arms over the lack of information.

Malay Mail supports the race but we have been highlighting the problems faced by the people including the safety of pedestrian since last week as a matter of public interest.

Motorsports expert Hanifah Yoong who shared how the event could be better, is nonetheless, optimistic the race would be a success.

We certainly hope so.

GRAIG is Malay Mail sports editor and yearns for the time when everyone will be treated equally.
He can be reached at or on Twitter @gnunis1892

Monday, July 27, 2015

BEING FRANK: When things go wrong, they apologise

As published in Malay Mail today

By Frankie D'Cruz

AS a light rail transit (LRT) commuter, you kind of hang your head when your regular mode of public transport becomes a safety issue. 

You despair knowing five brake failures since February, two last week, had occurred and that the operator, Prasarana Malaysia Berhad, has been having problems getting the train and brake manufacturers to deal with the problem.

Still, that’s your only way around and the potential danger sinks in when you board the four-car trains. Imagine being told you will likely suffer a heart attack, yet not how big or how serious it will be.

The brake failure problem had been highlighted since February by Prasarana to the train and brake manufacturers with no effect. 

It has been simply put down to a design issue by Canadian train company Bombardier and the German braking system manufacturer Knorr-Bremse AG. 

No manufacturer would want a tragedy on their hand, but complacency by the two foreign firms seems to grip this overwhelming problem.

It means nothing to the commuter when an apology by Rapid KL — the operator of the KL-Kelana Jaya Line LRT service — is followed by: “While working for a long-term solution, our engineers have been attending to the brake calipers of the existing 35 four-car trains and replacing the brake seals.” 

It merely strikes fear because as they say: “This is, however, only a containment measure while Bombardier and Knorr-Bremse AG come out with a permanent solution.”

Commuters have been given the assurance that their safety would never be compromised and that additional roving technicians have been deployed to ensure swift response in the event of an emergency. 

That’s supposed to please them?

Even if contracts with Bombardier and Knorr-Bremse AG were terminated, it means nothing to the commuter. What’s important is providing a convenient service that rides with a guarantee no harm will come to commuters. 

The Land Public Transport Commission, the licensing and safety regulator, has to make certain this worrisome safety issue is overcome urgently. 

The prime minister, shocked by the incidents last week at the Setiawangsa and Universiti LRT stations, has called for an immediate safety audit.

It’s distressing that public confidence in the LRT has waned following the latest incidents. It’s disheartening that the running of the LRT is wanting.

Frankie is editor emeritus of Malay Mail. He can be reached at and Twitter: @dcruzfrankie

Saturday, July 25, 2015

BEING FRANK: Enraging people fast and furious

As published in Malay Mail today.

By Frankie D'Cruz

IT's annoying isn’t it when the authorities don’t tell you what’s going on in your city?
There are ugly, self-defeating, barricades on key streets in the Golden Triangle ahead of a street car race early August — and we will all get lost in the city soon.

Weep all you want, now that Kuala Lumpur has been transformed into a dreary, unfashionable and undesirable capital city. The spirit of city life has vanished since the set up for the KL Grand Prix began two weeks ago.

No one is saying what sort of research went into holding the event in the heart of KL. What we know is City Hall chose not to hear views from the public, business community and public transport operators.

Few knew about the grand prix until four days ago when people vented their frustration to Malay Mail over the disruption to traffic and inconvenience caused to pedestrians.

Yesterday, City Hall urban transportation department deputy director, Steven Tan Kim Bock, speaking on behalf of mayor Datuk Amin Nordin Aziz, shrugged off criticism, denying stakeholders were kept in the dark and urged the public to bear with the inconvenience. That's supposed to please people swathed in anger?

The police, concerned over public safety and traffic flow problems in the run up to the event and on race weekend, are fuming because they have been hardly consulted and told very little.

Said a source: "We are against the event being held in the heart of KL. It will bring about immense traffic fl ow problems on Aug 7-9 (race weekend).

"Traffic jams in KL on a normal day are bad enough. That weekend is still the month of Syawal when city folk of all races would be making their Hari Raya visits.

"Traffic police do not see much on how to ease movement of motorists during that period as there are many hotels and places of interest in the affected areas. It's going to be chaotic."
There is also great worry about the spillover effect in other parts of the Klang Valley due to the closure of Jalan Sultan Ismail, Jalan Ampang, Jalan Pinang, Jalan Perak and Jalan Raja Chulan.

The alternative routes are a mystery.

Concrete barriers supporting tall perimeter metal fencing and other race set up works on these high-traffic roads are already causing mayhem.

It's puzzling how the mayor and his officers who have made site visits missed the havoc on the streets:

• Narrowed roads that force heavy vehicles out of their lane endanger motorists on the opposite side.

• Pedestrians having to walk along the thoroughfare with vehicles veering dangerously close to them.

• Pedestrians squeezing between heavy vehicles and metal fencing.

• Commuters forced to stand on the road to board buses.

Surely, the sight of commuters getting roasted under the blazing sun - especially along Jalan Ampang where a bus and taxi stand was brought down to make way for hospitality suites for the well-heeled – must have got their sympathy.

Here’s the thing: We can expect this debacle for the next five years since the organiser, GT Global Race (M) Sdn Bhd, has been given rights to host the grand prix till 2020.

The grouses of the people and the to police about ‘KL-prison city’ are not halfformed 2am rambles, not the sort of nonconversation that chat forums can turn into. They are thought-out insights.

Clearly, City Hall has entrenched its reputation for tactless engagement with the ordinary citizen and stakeholders. The public information drive is a farce. Many still think the barricades are being installed to curb rising crime on the streets or as part of MRT works.
I have no intention of turning the event on its head, rather why City Hall turns you and yours.
An event is in trouble if you have to have a load of explanation to sustain it.

What will become of public transportation? Will people be going to work on those days? Will the Golden Triangle be in lockdown?

Sorry, but this event, as it is being organised, doesn’t have the lift of a trumpet blast.

Award-winning journalist Frankie D'Cruz is Editor Emeritus of The Malay Mail. He can be reached at and Twitter @dcruzfrankie

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

HARESH SAYS: Let lemang, nature put a smile on our faces

As published in Malay Mail today

By Haresh Deol

SWEAT trickled from his forehead and he used a Good Morning towel to quickly wipe it off.
He was monitoring the row of bamboo filled with glutinous rice as I waited eagerly by the roadside.
Despite having visited several friends earlier in the day, the quest was to find more fresh lemang on the first day of Aidilfitri — and it was not easy. 
Instead, I was greeted by rows of makeshift durian stalls. If not for the ridiculously hot weather, I would have surrendered to eating durian for lunch, dinner and even supper.
After a 30-minute drive, I found a lemang stall at Bukit Indah, Ampang. It was worth the effort. The price ranged between RM14 and RM18 each — more expensive than last year.
How was business, I asked as he monitored the lemang burning on the hot charcoal fire.
“It can be better,” he replied.
“With the GST (Goods and Services Tax) and economy, people are thinking twice about spending.
“Do you hear any firecrackers?” he asked, saying many were hesitant to burn money — literally.
Justifying the price hike, he said it was no longer cheap to make lemang.
“Takde untung (no profit) … just enough to cover cost. 
“My friends who are running businesses also said GST has affected them. It’s no longer cheap and traders have no choice but to pass the price difference to the consumers.”
He described the nation’s economy as “shaky”, saying the comparison between the ringgit and the Singapore dollar says it all. He also spoke about the “other national issues”, mainly revolving 1Malaysia Development Bhd and the RM2.6 billion saga.
“One Singapore dollar is about RM2.78. That’s just ridiculous. A lot of us are feeling it. I’m sure you are feeling it too.”
I smiled.
But Mr Operator, clad in a striking blue Baju Melayu — minus songkok and sampin — tried to be optimistic.
“I’m lucky lemang is food for all. The Chinese, Indians … they too love lemang so I’m not worried.”
The government and analysts remain bullish about the economy, insisting the downfall of the ringgit is only temporary. 
This despite inflation increasing last month due to higher fuel and food prices.
GST, they say, will help beef up the nation’s coffers. Nothing against the tax scheme but many continue to lament the timing of its introduction. 
Also, a large number of people remain unclear on how GST would help them, and the country, in the long run.
But defenders argued while critics continued to rant about the rising cost of living, ridiculously priced real estate and low wages, they have done little to change their lifestyles. 
They claimed those who whine find solace by drinking RM15 coffee and splurging on latest gadgets or even vehicles.
So spending money on lemang is not so bad after all, I told myself as I left. 
We are facing interesting times but RM14 for a roll of lemang, accompanied by home cooked rendang, was a small price to pay to put a smile on my face.

Nature also puts a smile on our faces

The rising cost of living has also got people thinking about spending on vacations. 
Many are bogged down with work and are unable to plan their leave in advance and make last minute reservations which tend to be pricey.
July is never a good time to travel if money is your greatest concern as it is the “summer break” and travelling is considered more expensive.
Several friends and I instead took up Tourism Malaysia’s Dekat Je challenge.
The campaign is to remind Malaysians there are many places they can travel to over the weekend without having to take time off from work.
And our dekat je trip was literally close by. Hungry for some jungle experience, the handful of us made our way to Serendah — an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur. 
We spent time at the waterfalls and stayed a night at a nearby jungle retreat.
Days later, we soaked our feet in the cool water at Hutan Lipur Ampang (better known as Bukit Belacan among the locals) before enjoying a majestic view of a beautiful lake at the top of a hill in Taman TAR (also in Ampang).
The trips, among the many places we visited, showed how we were able to connect  — we talked, we laughed and we got to know each other better. 
Even other visitors were quick to flash a smile and greet us. It is a far cry from the uptight personality many tend to portray when they are soaked up into the hustle and bustle of the city life.
The Dekat Je campaign is a good way to enjoy beautiful locations in our backyard. It does not burn a hole in our pockets and allows us to reconnect with each other and nature.
And just like the yummy lemang, such trips can certainly put a smile on our faces.

HARESH is executive editor of Malay Mail. He can be reached at or on Twitter @HareshDeol

Monday, July 20, 2015

Are we all not from God, so why fight?

As published in Malay Mail today

THE Abrahimic religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — teach that we are all descendents of Adam. All major religions teach that we originate from the Creator, a Supreme Being.
While the message of oneness of human beings is what religions teach, politics, prejudice and calculative evil people with vested interests manipulate the diversity of culture and ethnicity to cause division and suspicion. 
These evil people are like vultures who want to feed on the carcass of innocent lives that may arise in a bloody conflict fuelled by racism.
Let there be no doubt at all. Racism is evil and anti-God. It is anti-God because it denies the greatness of God’s creativity of diverse ethnicity, languages, culture and colours (Quran 49:13).
The purpose of the diversity of ethnicity, explains the Quran, is to learn from each another and to recognise it as yet another sign of God (Quran 30:22). 
Hence, it is completely a lie and disgraceful when anyone attempts to justify racism on grounds of God’s teaching.
The recent Low Yat incident is scary not simply because of the potential national harm that could have ensued had the police not stepped in but also due to the nature of justification that some people publicly give for its occurrence!
The so-called “justifications” expose a variety of things that are wrong with our society and require immediate addressing to prevent its recurrence in the future.
There can be no justifications for racism and racist conduct.
I must confess I was quite disappointed that there are still some among us who tried to turn the Low Yat incident into a racial one.
I was telling my friend just last week that we have seen the last of racially toned clashes in 1969 and there will be no more. Low Yat made me wonder if I had overestimated us and more importantly, our leaders.
One thing is for sure; the fact that there are still strong racial overtones is a reminder that the political leaders, the religious leaders and the ordinary citizens to a certain extent have still failed to bring about the truly Malaysian identity, feeling and socio-political climate.
It seems that we have yet to address the prejudices, stereotyping, circumstances, policies and the lack of legislation that failed to curb such racist tendencies.
The government must come out strongly against any form of racist hate speech and racist conduct.
It is about time they come out with policies that can unite rather than keep reminding us in the worst way possible our ethnic and religious differences.
Has there ever been a holistic thinking done by our government in this area? There must be a true and courageous political will to assist evolve a Malaysian mindset.
At one time, I thought 1Malaysia would have been the best policy to move Malaysia forward as one nation. Maybe now is the best time for the PM to relook at it and reinvent it.
All religious leaders too must come out and condemn this primitive tribal thinking and show ways by which we can be truly “children” and “slaves” of God.
I have always been puzzled that the numerous existences of temples, churches, mosques and other places of worship cannot seem to teach people to embrace each other as they want to be “embraced” by God.
What is the point of outward and symbolic display of piety and seemingly honourable conduct when inwardly, we are barbaric and ignoble, just waiting to explode?
So, when the CIMB Bank chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak recently called for “criminalising racism”, I fully support this call with qualifications.
This is because the bigger question would be how we are going to define “racism” in our law and what kind of acts and/or omissions would be considered as “racist”.
If we are simply referring to speeches or actions that have the tendency to promote ill feelings and hostilities between different races or classes of the population of Malaysia, I believe it is already covered in the Sedition Act.  
The basic laws are there. Of course more can be done in law and I am sure most of the reasonable minded Malaysians know what needs to be done.
However, I always fear the hesitance of politicians to do what it right for the nation in the long run when it is politically expedient to capitalise on popular sentiments, prejudices and stereotyping.
In fact, it is the unwillingness of politicians to do the right thing and their hypocrisy that I believe keeps the flame of racism alive in our country.
With respect, we have yet to see a truly reformist-minded leader in our country since independence though we do not deny the contributions of many of them from the past to the current.
Hence, once again, it falls on us, the ordinary citizens, to unite together and do what we can to bring about the constant message of love and trust between us as Malaysians and as humans originating from God.

Jahaberdeen is founder of Rapera, a movement that encourages thinking and compassionate citizens. He can be reached at

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

HARESH SAYS: Malaysia must do more in anti-smuggling fight for Tier 2

As published in Malay Mail today

By Haresh Deol

THE shocking revelation of mass graves hidden in the thick jungle bordering Malaysia and Thailand earlier this year seems to mean nothing.
Bodies of human trafficking victims, believed to be from Myanmar who tried to enter Malaysia by land hoping to for a brighter future, were uncovered. 
They were finally given a proper burial in recent weeks as the nation ponders the extent of the human trafficking syndicates whose tentacles appear to cross many borders.
Our politicians and enforcement agencies, typically, gave assurances of changes in policies. They promised stricter scrutiny in border patrol. Heads will roll, they promised.
Non-governmental organisations and observers are tired of singing the same tune. They continue to declare war against human traffickers and uphold the protection of human rights.
But for several arrests in Thailand, Bangladesh and Malaysia, it has been mere words.
What came as a shocker to many was Reuters had, last Wednesday, quoted US sources as saying Malaysia will be upgraded from the lowest tier on its list of worst human trafficking centres. 
The upgrade is believed to be linked to Malaysia accepting the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement which has received lukewarm response here.
The US State Department had, last year, downgraded Malaysia to Tier 3 in its annual ‘Trafficking in Persons’ report, joining the likes of North Korea and Syria. 
The report cited “limited efforts to improve its flawed victim protection regime”, among others. It remains unclear what efforts Malaysia have taken to improve the situation.
The authorities acknowledge scores of undocumented Myanmar nationals, Indonesians and Bangladeshis have made their way into the country with the help of human smugglers. 
This is a major security threat, leaving our citizens vulnerable to diseases and acts of terrorism. The huge volume of illegal immigrants, who have since settled down, would also change the demographics of this country.
Several US lawmakers and human rights activists expressed shock over the decision to give Malaysia an upgrade. US senator Robert Menendez said he will call for an investigation if Malaysia is pushed to Tier 2.
“They appear to be giving Malaysia a sweetheart deal,” Menendez was quoted by the New York Times on July 10.
Others who were appalled by the decision were Human Rights Watch Asia advocacy director John Sifton and Network executive director Simone Campbell.
Politics aside, one wonders if Malaysia has forgotten its fight against foreigners entering into the country without valid documents. 
Illegal immigrants continue to make their way into the country in huge numbers as they flee their homeland – mainly due to religious persecution and economic woes.
This newspaper has highlighted how easy it is for one to enter and exit the country. Rat holes are aplenty along the border. 
This was also revealed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission during an exercise last year. Corrective measures would include placing more manpower to patrol the Malaysia-Thailand border and repairing or upgrading fences along the border.
But locals will say it is business as usual in Wan Kelian (Perlis), Bukit Kayu Hitam (Kedah) and even Sungai Golok in Kelantan. The authorities too seem to have forgotten about our porous borders, stressing work cannot be carried out due to “insufficient funds”.
Others seem to be engrossed with the RM2.6 billion fiasco as the country continues to be at a risk of foreign threats. Economically, these foreigners send money back home and as such, the outflow of ringgit is unimaginable.
But no one seems to care.
The Hari Raya balik kampung exodus will further uncover the large number of foreigners heading home in boats. They are expected to return to Malaysia, with the help of syndicates through illegal means, after enjoying the festivity with their families.
There are also exploited women, who were promised jobs in saloons or as maids by their ‘agents’, only to end up in the flesh trade. Visas are misused and abused. This dark and wicked industry is just too lucrative.
Klang MP Charles Santiago and US Congressman Joseph K. Pitts, in their letter to US President Barack Obama, applauded recent regional efforts to combat human trafficking but stressed more can be done to stop the trafficking networks.
They said: “Thailand, for example, prosecuted fewer human traffickers in 2014 than it did in 2013. Malaysia remains a major hub for trafficking and abuse of asylum seekers, including by government officials. Bangladesh continues to deny basic protections for Rohingya fleeing persecution in Burma.”
They added that Asean countries must be further engaged, encouraged and supported in their efforts and not be rewarded for half measures or complicity.
“Rewarding Bangladesh, Burma, Malaysia and Thailand with an upgrade in tier ranking would serve only as a devaluation of internationally recognised human rights and would send a dangerous signal to the world about the United States’ commitment to ending modern day slavery,” the letter read.
For the record, Santiago is Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights chairman, while Pitts is Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission co-chairman.
So Malaysia, what have you done to deserve a Tier 2 upgrade? Merely calling for regional action is not enough. More has to be done to cripple human smugglers.
We must address our border issues for the sake of national security. It is ridiculous to put our citizens at risk due to a lack of concerted effort by the powers-that-be or by claiming we do not have enough money.
The US must allow us to show the world why we should be in Tier 2. Credit should only be given when due.
HARESH is executive editor of Malay Mail. He can be reached at or on Twitter @HareshDeol

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

GOING NUTS: Going round in circles

As published in Malay Mail today

Going Nuts
By Graig Nunis

I HATE driving.

My sense of direction is akin to Ed Miliband’s political career and I usually end up far from where I want to be.

Using Waze, Google Maps and other Global Positioning System (GPS) devices are of no help.
So much so, friends have taken to calling me GPS …Guna Pun Sesat or Graig Pasti Sesat.
As such, I usually leave an hour earlier than most would, to factor in the time wasted by going round in circles.

Colleagues have wondered how I made my way to and from assignments during my reporting days — answer: public transport or tumpang photographers and reporters from other media outlets.

Unlike the now infamous Zahra, I am not too proud to take the bus or train, or a combination of both.

Why drive when you can get someone to bring you where you want to be without the hassle of traffic jams and finding a decent (read: cheap) parking spot in Kuala Lumpur?
If given the choice, I would not drive at all.

It doesn’t help that many road signs in the Klang Valley are partially or fully blocked by tree branches or located too close to exits at forks in the road, making last minute turns dangerous.

Then, we also have the usual idiots on the road — those who think they are clones of Lewis Hamilton because they use the same petrol as the world champion.

They zigzag in and out of traffic without a care in the world, oblivious to the danger they pose not just to themselves but to other drivers.

The fatal accident involving several Myvi cars and a Pajero on Duke Highway two months ago is a perfect example of how motorists can easily lose their lives.

And, what’s the deal with Zon Operasi Had Laju signposts along highways? Why are the authorities giving these speedsters warning?

They should be throwing the book at them or even better, taking away their licences instead of telling them where the speed traps are.

It is like telling motorists it’s alright to drive like a maniac from point A to point B, but … please slow down when you are going from point B to C as “we are watching you”.


Can you imagine a bank putting up a sign stating “We have extra CCTV and the cops are on call … you may want to consider the jewellery store down the road”.

Many don’t take road safety seriously — as evident by Malay Mail’s ongoing “Stop Killing Your Kids” campaign.

Last year, The Star reported a study by the University of Michigan which put Malaysia among the top 25 most dangerous countries for road users, with 30 fatalities per 100,000 individuals

The report stated the only other Southeast Asian nation in the top 25 was Thailand with 44 fatalities per 100,000 people.

Namibia topped the list with 45 deaths and the safest place was Maldives with two deaths. The world average is 18 fatalities per 100,000 people.

With Hari Raya just days away, millions of people will be rushing to balik kampung.

Here’s wishing they stay alert, keep calm, don’t drive like a maniac and more importantly keep out of my way.

1Malaysia road trip

Speaking of driving, I had a rare weekend off and spent it by, of all things, driving to Ipoh for a friend’s engagement.

It was also a perfect opportunity to whack Ipoh’s famous nasi ganja — after more than a decade of not having this mouth-watering dish.

So 13 of us — five Indians, three Chinese, two Malays and three dan lain lain — a perfect example of 1Malaysia (perhaps because there was no politician in sight) — set forth for the former tin mining capital of the world.

Traffic was light but sadly, with it being the fasting month, there was no rendang tok at the Tapah rest area during the day.

Still the nasi ganja was worth it, although as often with memories, everything seemed to taste better back in the day.

But, true to its nickname, the food was addictive and we went again the next day for lunch complete with several packets of takeaway, including two for our Muslim friends to break fast with.

It was a wonderful trip made special by the eclectic bunch that didn’t care about politics and religion and treated each other equally.

While posing for pictures with the happy couple the night before, one of the guys joked: “This is the true 1MDB — 1 Malaysia Datang Bertandang.”

If only our politicians can see what a good thing we have and not try to ruin it with race-based politics, Malaysia can truly be Asia.

Oh by the way, if you’re travelling to Ipoh with the help of a sat-nav, be very sure when typing the name of the road you are looking for.

There may be just one extra letter between Jalan Lang and Jalan Lange but they are worlds apart.

Guess how we found that out?

Graig is sports editor at Malay Mail and hopes he can afford a driver one day. He can be reached at or on Twitter @gnunis1892