Saturday, March 28, 2009

'Blacked Out'?

Dear Friends,

I decided to assess the ballyhoo of 'Earth Hour' after dinner tonight. I drove around my surrounding neighbourhood, to witness how many buildings will be in total darkness, between 8.30pm for an hour tonight. Envisioning that there will be partial darkness in my wandering around, I was inaccurate in my judgement. Most of the surroundings were brightly ignited and it did not even reflect the slightest 'power failure'. Many showed non-support for this green effort.

This event began in Sydney, Australia in 2007 when two million people switched off their lights. Came 2008, 50 million people around the world participated in this climate change initiative. Individuals like you and me, corporate businesses and the communities at large were invited to turn off lights to 'safe' Mother Earth. For this year, Earth Hour aims to reach out to one billion people in 1,000 cities.

Frankly, a venture like this will not be able to quantify the amount of energy this globe would save. What values is the green message content that will make a difference. It is conjuring the yardstick for public awareness on climate change. This in return will make a difference in our lifestyles as a whole.

As I departed away from my neighbourhood, I encountered the organisation I work for responded positively. I was encouraged. I drove pass Sunway Pyramid Mall and the soundtrack, 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' from the popular animated 'Lion King' was resounding in my mind. I am proud to be associated with an organisation that is enthusiastic about making a difference in preserving the environment. More of their intiatives at:

A belief flashed by me on the journey home; reflections of this earth I am living in did not belong to me. My existence here is on borrowed time and borrowed land from my children. Time to come, I will dedicate my part in preserving this earth and restoring it to them unsurpassable.

And yes; during the hour,the lights on the external of my house were all turned off. (unlike my neighbours :p). In that one hour today coupled with all the 'moaning and groaning' in darkness; I sure hope this green initiative was communicated with much competence.

Otherwise, the least the consolation - the population will set to grow in nine months.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fast and Furious Force

Dear Friends,

Today I am blogging about 'cats and rats'. How cats always emerged victorious in their hunt down for rats. Never have I seen the reverse. Imagine Ratatouille pursuing Felix the Cat?

As quoted, criminals must be made to fear the strength and effectiveness of the police. They must show them they are able to match them especially now that criminals arm themselves with modern and sophisticated weapons. Fear must be instilled in criminals so that crimes could be combated in a professional and responsible manner, unquote.

Today the Royal Malaysian Police celebrated Police Day, the day the force was formed 202 years ago. It is, indeed, a mature and tested police force that is best remembered, together with other branches of the armed forces, for its contributions and sacrifices in the long battle against the Malayan Communist Party during the first and the second Emergencies (1948-1960 and 1967 to 1989).These days the men in blue face other hazards, which are no less challenging, of modern-day policing. In spite of various constraints, they have toiled tirelessly to maintain law and order. Their dedication to duty has been reflected in their recent successes in combating crime, curbing drug syndicates and the elimination of notorious armed gangs.It is the hope of every Malaysian that the police force will continue to enforce the law without fear or favour. And while they go about their duties, the police should remember that to be a really effective force, it cannot stand alone. It needs all the support it can muster from the public through activities such as community policing so that the police force becomes the people's force.

What interest me in the news is that the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) has acquired 25 units of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X (10 - with manual transmission) which will be used alongside the Proton Wajas as patrolcars. High-performance models are nothing new to the force and even as far back as the 1970s, they had a fleet of 2-litre Alfa Romeo Alfettas, the first police force outside Italy to use the Italian cars. Marketed by City Motors at that time, they were assembled at the Swedish Motor Assemblies plant in Shah Alam, Selangor. Later on, during the 1980s, the force also purchased a small fleet of Ford TX3s which were used for undercover operations. The cars were unmarked and little was known about them other than that they existed. Around that time, other government agencies like the Customs also used models like the Citroen BX and BMW 318i in order to pursue criminals who had fast machines. In the 1990s, the Highway Patrol got the powerful Volvo 850 T5 stationwagons which were ideal for use on the North-South Highway. The stationwagons served for some time but today, the Highway Patrol uses Mitsubishi Pajeros, Nissan X-Trails and some Proton Satria GTIs. The force will be sending its Evo drivers for special training courses so that they will be able to make full use of the car’s performance so illegal racers had better think twice before trying to accelerate away when they see flashing blue lights behind them. The police also say that the cars may have other roles that require high-speed escorts. As these are government vehicles, the cost would be about half the showroom price of RM324,000 since they are purchased tax-free. Also, the Evo's 295 bhp engine is a thirsty powerplant but since the police also get tax-free petrol, that should not be a worry either!

Now, when we see these beasts roaring behind us in our mirrors, pull over - the chase is not worth it. Recline your windows down, smile and don't rehearse the ever popular, "Boleh settle ka?"

This blog is dedicated to a top cop in charge of Subang Jaya's USJ8 Police Station (my neighbourhood). Tuan Foo passed away in the course of duty during a raid on 30 December 2008.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Let The Show Begin

Dear Friends,

I attended my budget presentation meeting two weeks back. The budget has been revised many times and I found it ambitious to write the assumptions. Revenues are declining, or flat at best. The last grounds if the business does not thrive, is to look for ways to reduce expenses. For some sanity, this is where the mindset of hoteliers turn from driving profits to basic survival. Having been there in 1997, I understand how tricky it is to operate a hotel in times like this. Making those decisions, what to cut, what to keep, is one of the hardest parts.

Through some friends,I had a chance to meet Jessie Phua, a Member of Parliament from Singapore last Saturday. We were discussing about lifestyles and this led to the topic of recession. My last trip to Singapore was a few months back. I was window shopping and I noticed droves of people trying to enter into designer outlets. Yes, they literally needed to queue and I wondered to myself where was the recession? I shared this with Jessie and she jokingly said that these were not Singaporeans but Mainland Chinese, when I said that they were mostly dressed in shorts. The point I am driving here is, our friends from Kiasuland acknowledges that the recession has hit their shores and they have been taking measures to overcome.

Recessions always result in compressing the marketplace; that Sheraton and Hilton, full service hotels down the street will now be after my business. As the business pie shrinks, the number of hotels in my competition set will increase; everyone wants to propagate their slice of the pie. Hotels which present the best value to consumers will succeed, not hotels with the lowest rates. I had a meeting with my hotel EXCO members recently and I suggested not to press the panic button yet and they agreed. Resist the overwhelming urge to just reduce rates; that has never worked and usually starts the dreaded downward spiral.

In my beloved Bolehland, I feel that we are still in rebuff. Never once has the authorities acknowledged that the recession has arrived. But, at least they apprehend that the economy needs to be stimulated. I find comfort reading in the papers today, that some RM3.2 billion worth of projects will be awarded this week. With this so soon after the mini budget, I guess the authorities are trying to demonstrate their seriousness in dealing with this crisis. I am also hopeful that they are really dignified about my well being rather than their own personal agendas. What struck me was when the Deputy Prime Minister said that he would make changes to the New Economic Policy (NEP) when he comes in power. Now, that is the true spirit of the NEP, which is to eradicate poverty among all races and not just the 'chosen ones'. At this moment, the policy is seen to profit only a certain thus the dissatisfaction amongst the rest.

I am hoping that the new 'Boss' will practice what he has preached. I am hoping to see a Cabinet that is credible and able to institute the reforms much needed. To the new 'Boss', please select a Cabinet that have the credentials to deliver the reforms and not some fanny licker that will probably do better as a Post Master. I am hoping that his government will wade through the current murky political scene with much meritocracy and not because it is some 'divine appointment' that it is now their turn.

'Enough - lah' with all these money politics, 'stop-lah' all the 'katak-ing' around, 'don't-lah' change-change the government that we have voted in. Like what Anas Zubedy has said, a truce is what is needed now.

A dim light at the end of the tunnel maybe visible if all that is 'affirmed' come true. I want to see clear directions for my beloved country and it will all be revealed this June, the 100 'litmus test' days of the new 'Boss'.

The basics never change and they never fail. Don't even think about going beyond the basics until they are learned and practiced until perfected. I see too many politicians who are anxious to get into the more sophisticated techniques without first nailing-down the most fundamental principles, first. Time is their most precious commodity; don't squander it.

Let the show begin.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Good Luck, Bad Luck, Who Knows?

Dear Friends,
Today is a public holiday in Malaysia. The weather has been gloomy since the morning and I am finding it hard to progress today. I am seated on my reading chair with both my feet sunk in my newly purchased, 'U Squeeze Pro' by Osim. I have just drifted into a musing moment of reflection - a 'Depressed Mood' for no alarming reason. As I read the Star newspaper this morning, news published are just getting more atrocious these days. Was there ever a time when we came across upright news in the newspapers?

As I was reading, I stumbled upon a story of how a blind man walked tall and completed a charity walk to raise health awareness. He is an automotive engineer and is currently unemployed. I reflected at how blessed I am with my eyesight and my career.
I continued reading. I was astounded at how they are still demonstrating against the controversial policy of teaching Mathematics and Science in the English language. English has an economic value and anyone who hopes to do well has to have some proficiency in it. I reflected at how I was exposed to speaking the language at home during my growing up years. I appreciated my mothers' far sightedness.

I proceeded further. I emphatised with the family members of the clerk who died in a hotel fire. It was the clerk's first overseas trip. She died with two other Malaysian women at the White Snow Hotel, Taipei. I reflected at how difficult it was to lose a loved one especially my father at an untested age.
I went along flipping the pages. I was stirred reading at how the residents of Kuchai Brem Park Condominium demonstrated the spirit of 'Muhibbah'. The Chinese residents donated generously to a Malay couple whose son drowned at the condominium swimming pool last month. I reflected on how peaceful it was, to have all different races living in unity, unlike all the squabbling amongst the different races these days.

A letter to the editor wrote; quote, "There are people out there who lost their jobs or are taking pay cuts, who are unable to sleep at nights, thinking of how to settle their bills and support their families. These are the ordinary Malaysians who stand by this country even when she is at her lowest. But, we ask for unity; not for political reasons but for our sake, and the sake of the next generation. We need to wake up and remember who we were once upon a time.", unquote.

I then reiterated to myself that life couldn't be so bad. I remember a passage in the Bible (Matthew 6:34). This is a great story to remember when we are projecting way past the present moment. When we are worrying about what will happen tomorrow? It teaches us to be anxious about today and allow tomorrow to take care of itself.

The things we think are good fortune can often also have bad endings; and vice-versa. How many times have we looked back on what seemed like bad fortune and said, "Aren't we glad that happened, because it led us to where we are now." Losing our job might have sent us to school, or maybe to an even better job. Losing our relationship allowed us the freedom to find another, maybe even more satisfying.

I once came across this ancient Chinese fable.

There is an ancient Chinese story of a farmer who owned an old horse that till his fields. One day, the horse escaped into the hills and when the farmer's neighbours sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”A week later, the horse returned with a herd of horses from the hills and this time the neighbours congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?” Then, when the farmer's son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this was bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”Some weeks later, the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer's son with his broken leg, they let him off. Once again, the farmer's only reaction was, “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?

Friends, every single thing in this world is neutral unless we put a value to it. We can choose to make things better or make them worse. Wake up and remember who we were once upon a time.

So, Good luck, Bad Luck? It is entirely up to you.