Tun Musa Hitam: Openness reflects people’s maturity and not cause for alarm

KUALA LUMPUR: The discussion of racial issues today reflects the openness of the government and the people’s maturity and does not indicate a breaking down of ties.

Former deputy prime minister Tun Musa Hitam said voices of concern warning that the country was facing a racial crisis were, therefore, baseless.

He was saddened that there were such alarmist views amid the celebration of 50 years of independence.

Musa said these views gave the impression that the historical bond between the races was being tested.

“It appears to give the impression that this country is facing a racial split. There are also indications that politics of fear like that before May 13, 1969 are starting to make their presence felt,” he said in his speech after receiving a honorary Doctor of Political Science degree from Universiti Malaya yesterday. ( Story link )

By the way I wrote a non-serious post on my personal blog. You can check it out if you want ;) : 13 Signs The General Elections Are Near.


OOXML is not (yet) an ISO standard, as Malaysia votes “No” … or did we?

(This post was first published at Open Malaysia on 5th September 2007, reproduced on Monsterblog with permission.)

OOXML is not (yet) an ISO standard, as Malaysia votes “No” … or did we?
by Yusseri Yusoff

After what seemed like an insane period of frenetic lobbying, with accusations of vote-buying, back pedalling, last minute changes, ekcetera, voting for the ratification of OOXML as ISO/IEC 29500 ended on Sunday, 02 September 2007. Two days later, it seemed that OOXML failed to garner enough “Yes” votes and has not been approved. For now. There’ll be a Ballot Resolution Meeting in February 2008, where apparently Microsoft Ecma will work towards resolving the comments raised by both the “No with comments” and “Yes with comments” votes. According to Brian Jones, there are only about 10,000 comments of which some are duplicated. So, roughly 6 months is enough to fix them, I suppose.

(By the way, what would “No with comments” really mean, exactly? I take it to be, “We don’t approve of this draft, and it should be fixed so that it might one day be agreeable to us.” As for “Yes with comments”, I take it to be, “We approve of this draft, but if you feel like it, can you make some changes? No, you won’t? Okay then.”)

Anyhow, as a Malaysian, I’m rather interested in how Malaysia as a P country voted. This is because we didn’t have any dramas in our Industry Standards Committee on Information Technology, Telecommunication and Multimedia, ISC-G (equivalent to the US’ INCITS) such as having some dude voting twice (beady eyes on you, Sweden), or have the committee so divided that the body decided to abstain (a hello to our neighbours, Indonesia), or having 2/3rds of the committee voting “Yes with comments” despite the strong and valid objections made (down the Causeway — yes, you Singapore), or running out of chairs for Sun and IBM (wahey, everyone say hi to Portugal).

Our committee, the ISC-G, voted “No with comments”. Unequivocably. Score was ten-nil (10-0), if I’m not mistaken. Or near enough, anyway. Whitewash. Walkover. Not because they didn’t like Microsoft. Not because ISC-G members thought that Microsoft was the devil incarnate. It was because there were obvious problems with the draft proposal for ISO/IEC 29500. Reasons for the “No” was laced with comments. The contradictions raised during the enquiry stage of the draft wasn’t even fixed, so it wasn’t like the committee had to take too much time to make the comments, to be honest. Recycle the earlier contradictions, add a few more found later.

As such, looking at that, I am proud to see that we have done our duty as a responsible nation in voting … “No with comments” … at … the … JTC1 … because … aaaah …. Wha…?

According to this document, Malaysia have decided to “Abstain“. When did that happen? Just as importantly, how did that happen? The Prime Minister of Malaysia endorsed it, is it? While he was launching some Halal Food thingy, was it?

To Microsoft Malaysia, I salute you, I really do. You managed to subvert due process in evaluating a technical specification for approval as an ISO standard into a circus. There were valid reasons for voting “No” at this point in time, and you know it. But you did it, anyway. The letters, the meetings, the phone calls … the cabinet. It is appalling, how deliberation on a file format can turn out this way.

I am ashamed. It doesn’t matter now that OOXML did not pass this round. I can no longer snicker at Sweden, shake my head at Indonesia or wiggle my finger at Singapore. Never mind buying some chairs for Portugal.

I am ashamed.


Budget 2008 to be revealed today

So, what do you think it’s going to be? Anyone watching TV for updates?

KUALA LUMPUR: The 2008 Budget, to be unveiled today by the prime minister with the celebratory mood of 50 years of Merdeka still in the air, promises goodies that will excite the man in the street.

“The rakyat can expect everything,” Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said when asked what was in store for the people in the Budget, which he will table in the Dewan Rakyat at about 4pm.

For ordinary Malaysians, the budget is expected to include items to help them keep the cost of living manageable, enhance security to ensure safer streets and neighbourhoods and improve public transportation.

The police will likely receive extra allocations to beef up their numbers and equipment for deterring and fighting crime. ( Story link )

On a sad note, goodbye Pavarotti. Ci mancherai.


Uh-oh, Selayang Municipal Council, what are you doing?!

My first circus experience was at the age of 15. Right after our PMR examinations, my mother treated me and a couple of my friends to go attend a big-tent circus performance in Muar. That was about the time when I heard the rumours that whenever the circus is in town, stray dogs and cats would ‘magically’ disappear off the streets. Lions need (cheap) feeding too.

And now it looks like the circus is smack in the middle of Selayang. A couple of Monsterblog readers highlighted the need to address this issue, and I agree. However please understand that by not blogging about it at the same time you thought I should, does not make me less ‘humane’. Frankly speaking it is rather insulting because… well that’s very presumptuous to make uncalled-for assumptions about someone whom you don’t really know. While I appreciate every comments on this blog and always encourage readers to put in their two cents worth, those remarks that a couple of you made were rather unjustified, IMHO.

Council’s dog move ‘ridiculous
by Mazlinda Mahmood

PETALING JAYA: The Selayang Municipal Council is in the dog house.

Voices chanting “save the strays” and “stop the hunt” filled Central Park 1 Utama yesterday as animal lovers protested its controversial dog-catching competition.

Their concern goes out not only to the dogs but also to the untrained people who risk injury trying to catch them.

An animal rights advocate, lawyer N. Surendran, said the competition would not solve the problem of stray dogs.

“The only proven way to solve the problem is a comprehensive spaying campaign, coupled with a public education programme to teach owners to neuter their pets and not to abandon them,” he said, suggesting a discount on the licence fee to dog owners who neuter their pets.

He said stray dogs must be caught by trained professional dog catchers under the supervision of veterinarians.

Background: Apparently there is a running contest organised by the Selayang Municipal Council for people to catch and hand in stray dogs in the area. The prizes for the winners of the contest seem lucrative — first prize winner gets RM 15,000, second prize is RM 13,000 and third prize is RM 11,000. Last I checked the details of the contest is available from the Selayang Municipal Council’s website here.

Incidentally, I chanced upon a blog post highlighting contents of an e-mail written by a Dr. Mohd Dzulhamka Kamaluddin of Universiti Putra Malaysia. Apparently an e-mail has been circulating around showing photos of a Muslim vet student handling ‘haram’ animals such as pigs and dogs, and it has incurred the wrath of various people. In the e-mail written in Bahasa Malaysia, Dr. Mohd Dzulhamka explained that handling pigs and dogs are actually not ‘haram’, as stated by some overzealous people. In summary, it is ‘haram’ to consume the flesh of the stated animals, but to care for them especially when they are brought to you, is not.

You can read the full content of the e-mail from a blogger who published it on her blog. If the link was not obvious enough, please click here to read the full blog post in Bahasa Malaysia ;) Two reasons why you should read it:

1) Hopefully you will be enlightened about the what is and what is not proper when it comes to Muslims and animals such as dogs and pigs.

2) I went through quite a fair bit of trouble to verify the authenticity of the e-mail, and finally managed to get Prof. Dr. Rasedee Abdullah, a lecturer with the Veterinarian faculty of UPM to confirm that yes, he read, consented to and signed his name with the letter that Dr. Mohd Dzulhamka wrote.


Prudent spending within the government… NOT

Actually this has been going on for donkey years. Astounding price hikes when it comes to government projects is not unusual, or unknown, or unheard of. So why the ruckus only now? My guess is as good as yours, and it probably is related to the reason why you see roads in the country getting a new shiny coat of tar.

Auditor-General’s report: Same old story year in, year out

There were “no” surprises in the Auditor-General’s Report for last year — most of the irregularities noted in 2005 re-appeared.
Despite reminders by Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, earlier weaknesses made their presence felt.

This included corruption, over-spending, poor management of funds, incomplete and outdated data and lack of enforcement and manpower.

His calls for closer monitoring by all agencies went mostly unheeded.

The most obvious involved five government agencies that were paid between 42 per cent and 74 per cent more to acquire land for various projects.

Ambrin wanted to know why the Education Ministry, Housing and Local Government ministry, Johor Menteri Besar’s office and the Health Ministry paid more than the value of land to be purchased.

Meanwhile, have a read at a blogger’s take on overcharging the government. Totally fictional, though inspired by real events, written mostly in colloquial Bahasa Malaysia:

Kisah supply “ding-dong”, bahagian I
Gemilang Jasabakti Sdn. Bhd. (Kisah supply “ding-dong”, bahagian II)


7.9 Quake rocks Southern Sumatra

Did anyone felt anything yesterday?

A 7.9 magnitude earthquake rocked Southern Sumatra at 6:10pm today at a depth of 30km, reports the US Geological Society (USGS). The epicentre was located at 130 km SW of Bengkulu, Sumatra, Indonesia, 410 km SW of Jambi, Sumatra, Indonesia and 695 km SSW of Singapore.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department, Ministry of Science, Technology & Innovation has issued a tsunami warning at 8.40 pm.

Residents of Perlis, Kedah, Perak and Penang have been advised to stay from the beaches as a precaution. ( Story link )


Malaysia’s new record & jailtime for raping your wife

Local begonia herb declared extinct

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has the dubious distinction of being the country with the only species to be declared extinct on a global conservation list this year.

The woolly-stalked begonia (Begonia eiromischa) is a herb found only on Pulau Betong in Penang.

According to the report released by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the plant has has not been sighted in the last 100 years, despite extensive searches in its known habitat.

It is only known from collections that were made in 1886 and 1898 on Pulau Betong.

I wonder when would parliament monkeys go extinct? ;)*****************

It’s jail, rotan now for raping your wife

KUALA LUMPUR: Beating one’s wife into having sex can now land a man in serious trouble.
The punishment is a jail sentence of up to 20 years and whipping. This penalty is provided in an amendment on rape in the Penal Code which came into effect last Friday.

An example would be when the husband refuses to take “no” for an answer and then proceeds to slap or punch his wife into submission.

The amendment has classified rape and aggravated rape and each category carries different penalties.

Aggravated rape will include having sex with a girl aged below 12 and those found guilty could be sentenced up to 30 years and whipped.

Good move.

To friends and readers of Monsterblog who are Muslims, I wish that you have a good Ramadhan. Remember the true purpose of the fasting month, and gorging yourselves at buffet spreads is not one of them ;)


Thai budget airliner crashes in Phuket: 88 dead, 42 injured

One-Two-Go is one of Thailand’s first budget airlines, and the plane involved in the crash was 25 years old.

PHUKET: A budget airliner crashed here yesterday, killing 88 people as it broke up and burst into flames while trying to land in driving rain, a senior official said.

Forty-two people were injured, Phuket deputy governor Vorapot Rajsima told a news conference, and a hospital official said at least five of the survivors were seriously hurt. ( Story link )

Check out this article from BBC News: High cost for cheap Asian flights? You can also view some photos of the crash, and the scene after here.


Harga barang naik (tapi gaji tak naik)

It is the same story every annual major festival, except that this time it is attributed to global price increase for… corn.

More dough for your cookies: Food prices on the up and up

KUALA LUMPUR: It’s going to cost more to place food on the table soon.

Housewives are already complaining that the prices of certain foodstuff — including daily essentials — have gone up in recent weeks.

For instance, some traders are said to be selling chicken above the ceiling price of RM6 per kg.

Now, there are indications that the prices of more food items — including potatoes, onions and wheat-based products — are set to rise.

It seems that the coming Raya festival will be an expensive affair. Has this already affected you? How are you coping with it?


Happy birthday, :-)

When I first started using the Internet back in 1996, one of the first Net lingos I learned was the use of emoticons. Back then they were known as smileys; the term ‘emoticon’ (as far as I am concerned) became widespread with the pimping by MSN Messenger as they update their instant messaging applications to garner younger users.

Today a regular Monsterblog commenter, Father of The World posted a link to the following article published on CNN, and I just have acknowledge it ;)

:-) turns 25

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (AP) — It was a serious contribution to the electronic lexicon.

Twenty-five years ago, Carnegie Mellon University professor Scott E. Fahlman says, he was the first to use three keystrokes — a colon followed by a hyphen and a parenthesis — as a horizontal “smiley face” in a computer message.

Variations, such as the “wink” that uses a semicolon, emerged later. And today people can hardly imagine using computer chat programs that don’t translate keystrokes into colorful graphics, said Ryan Stansifer, a computer science professor at the Florida Institute of Technology.

Even my ma uses emoticons! So happy birthday to you, O smiley :)