Monthly Archives: August 2008

Penampang floods for the 6th time in 2008, 30th August

I had planned to balik kampung this afternoon, after attending the wedding reception a colleague, Kenneth at Foo Chow Hall.

As usual the weather was fine in the morning, just nice so as not to necessitate the wearing of a cap, but by 12 something it was already raining, not particularly heavy, but of course what really matters is how heavy the rain is upstream.

I knew the answer at 5 something.

First flood warning siren blared, quickly followed by the 2nd and 3rd (and final) warning. That could only mean one thing: 99% chance the river is going to overflow within the next 5 minutes.

The water level reached its peak around 9 something – mercifully not as bad as before, only knee-high downstairs.

Official results of the Mother of All By-Elections announced 10.05pm

This by-election has all the superlatives, and certainly the whole world watched it, for the following reasons:
- the battle for the future of 27 million Malaysians and its future generations.
- the first electoral test of the Barisan Nasional-led Federal Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi since the disastrous results of the March 8 polls, hence it is a test of Abdullah’s legitimacy which he must pass
- the BN needed to prove that it has heard the voice of the rakyat and remains the best choice of government.
- Anwar had said that victory in Permatang Pauh would be his first step towards being Prime Minister

At 10.05pm on the 26th of August 2008, the EC has announced the official results, during which Arif Shah was conspicuously absent. It was reported that the Prime Minister left Penang for Kuala Lumpur at 4.30pm, hence indicating that defeat was imminent.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, 61: 31,195
YB Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah, 51, incumbent state assemblyman for Seberang Jaya: 15,524
Hanafi “Haji Pi” Hamat (Akim – Angkatan Keadilan Insan Malaysia president; has real estate, hardware and agriculture machinery businesses; was PAS member but left in 1995), 61, father of 12: 92
Majority: 15,671
Turnout: 81.1%, which was amazingly a bit higher (by 12) than during the March General Elections!

Even Hanafi’s “lucky ring” could not help him break the century barrier

In the March general elections, Dr Wan Azizah won it by a 13,388 majority, defeating Umno’s Datuk Pirdaus Ismail. She then quit the seat on 31st July to make way for a by-election.

Anwar last won the Permatang Pauh seat 13 years ago in 1995 with a majority of 23,515 votes.

During nomination day on 16th August, PKR, for “strategic contingency” / “safety net” got PKR Balik Pulau head Dr Mansor Othman to be nominated as an independent candidate, just in case Anwar was “unreasonably and unjustly disqualified”. When Anwar proved successful during nomination, Mansor announced his withdrawal, hence of course RM15,000 poorer.

Quotes:

At 10.52am, third candidate Hanafi Hamat (AKIM) said : “I think I have chance to win.” In the end, he got less than 100 and hence lost the RM15,000 deposit. Even Arif Shah got >15,000 more than him.

At 8.08am, BN’s Arif Shah said after casting his vote, with a beaming smile: “I voted at 8.08am as eight is a good number for me.” By 2.30pm a worried sounding Arif Shah “urged voters to come out to vote.” As late as 5.26pm, he said he’s “still confident of taking the seat. ”

Interviewed on 24th August, Hanafi Hamat said:

I sincerely believe that people are disgusted and fed up with all the mudslinging between these parties – their style of campaigning is too much because it incites hatred. This is not our culture. Barisan and PKR may seem strong but they are rapuh (crumbling) because they practise the politics of hate. They want and need what we offer – harmony and peace between all races in the context of Islam. I may not be from here but I am confident I will get the support of the locals because the basic ideology of Akim is applicable in all states and constituencies.

Here’s a video of Hanafi being interviewed by Malaysiakini on 21st August (by this time you should’ve realised that I like rooting for underdogs):

Click here to see the video

The Musical Flip-Flop of 2008: Avril Lavigne live in Malaysia

Avril Lavigne’s only concert in South-East Asia as part of her world tour was announced way back in June. For 2008, Lavigne is arguably the 2nd biggest superstar to perform in Malaysia after Celine Dion earlier. She’s supposed to perform 29th August at Stadium Merdeka. Cheapest ticket: RM98. Most expensive: RM338.

Hogging the limelight is the bewildering flip-flops, which I think would turn out to be more entertaining than the concert itself.

A timeline, in reverse chronological order:

29th August 2008

The concert went on as planned, no disruption. The Kelana Jaya MP, Loh Gwo Burne was part of the crowd.

Lavigne had only one costume change (she’s no Madonna) during her 90-minute, 17-song show which was reportedly devoid of an encore.

PAS members distributed 2,000 flyers to Malays outside the stadium which explained “concept of entertainment in Islam”, while there was at least one “spy” inside the stadium itself.

According to The Star, everything was smooth-running, but only 15K people? I thought it would be jam-packed.

However, according to at least one independent review the concert sucked.

As expected, there are many bootleg videos on youtube. I think the ones posted by “kitjordan” are the best – in the others Avril looked as big as an ant.

22nd August 2008

Final decision“: senior officials of the Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry met, and decided that the concert should go ahead. Minister Datuk Shafie Apdal was quoted to have said that “the ministry’s earlier decision to call off the concert was in response to PAS Youth’s call for the ban.”

And this was done only a week before the event? I have been involved in organising much smaller events, and if something like this ever happened a mere week before the big day, I would definitely recommend to cancel the whole thing.

21st August 2008

Organisers of concert, Galaxy Productions expected to meet officials of the Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry to appeal for green light to be given “as there is support for the concert.” Apparently, no official cancellation notice was sent to the organisers despite media reports that the concert had been called off.

20th August 2008

The media reported that the concert has been cancelled, and that Minister of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage said:

The concert falls during the nation’s independence period and was not a suitable time to hold such a concert. There are a lot of events on Aug 29 and the Ministry of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage does not want the independence and the near Ramadan month to be filled with such pop and rock culture. As the Minister of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage, we should be instilling good culture in the young but here we are allowing other parties to organise things. Moreover, the organisers were promoting the event even before they got approval from the relevant agencies. All organisers, local and foreign, should adhere to the rules and regulations before promoting the concert and selling tickets to the public. The organisers should have sought advice from the Kuala Lumpur City Council or the Ministry. I don’t know why they had promoted the concert before it was approved. The Ministry’s decision is not in response to PAS Youth’s call for its cancellation.

16th August 2008

Concert organisers said the show “is definitely on“:

Everything is moving very positively. We have spoken to the authorities involved and things look good. We’ve organised the show according to the rules. There is nothing wrong. We’ve received positive and assuring feedback from the authorities.

13th August 2008

Engku Emran Engku Zainal Abidin, the vice-president of the association of local radio stations Commercial Radio Malaysia (CRM):

PAS Youth should see the concert as an opportunity to reach out to youths and work with the Government. PAS Youth is apparently all about sending out positive messages and I understand their (PAS) role and concerns but they should see this as a path to reach out to the youths. Banning the concert will not make things better or address the root of social ills. The young people will not listen to us but to their idol, someone who is world famous. People like Avril have a better chance to address social issues especially since she is of similar age to the crowd.

PAS Youth should see more of Avril’s talent and discipline that got her to where she is now. It boils down to the saying ‘do not judge a book by its cover.’ Even foreign organisations acknowledge her as a good ambassador for various charitable causes, including Amnesty International, the US Campaign for Burma, the Make A Wish Foundation, YouthAIDS and War Child.

Amy Search said:

People kept looking at the negative side of rock bands when we must remember there are positive sides to it too. Her (Avril) music and video clips do not suggest negativity. Avril came across as an easygoing girl. All religions preach good values. It is entirely up to us to take the good and leave the bad. Feelings and judgments are within our own control. You cannot expect us to wear a tie and suit to perform. Members of rock bands also have families and children.

Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin said:

I have no objection so long as she observes the Eastern culture. If they [PAS] have grounds that the artistes are against the acceptable Eastern norm, they can voice it out.

12th August 2008

The Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) is still undecided whether to allow the show to go on or not: it was still getting feedback from various agencies including the police, Central Com­mittee for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artiste (Puspal) and Arts, Culture and National Heritage Department (Kekwa).

11th August 2008

Women’s Aid Organisation executive director Ivy Josiah said:

The issue was not that of decency but one involving freedom of expression. Decency is very relative. This is the issue of the rights to freedom of expression and for people, especially the youths, to choose what they want to see and hear. The society’s morality and values are not shaped by concerts and music. Insidious attempts by certain quarters to shut down or restrict the people’s freedom of expression were not acceptable in a democratic Malaysia.

Sisters In Islam said:

PAS has said many times that it would never infringe on the rights of non-Muslims but in reality, it is in fact denying non-Muslims their rights. Is this call limited only to Muslims or to everyone? Since PAS is a component party of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition, then what are PKR and DAP’s position on this (banning of concerts)? It seems like PAS is making all the decisions. Is this within the Pakatan’s manifesto? PAS should focus on bigger issues like urban poverty instead. None of Lavigne’s concerts had come across as violent or of bad influence.

MCA Youth secretary-general Dr Wee Ka Siong said:

This is clearly an infringement of the people’s rights. It is very unbecoming. PAS Youth should not try to impose their values on people of other races. We must uphold the right of the citizens as enshrined in the Constitution.

10th August 2008

Malaysian Artistes’ Association (Karyawan) president Freddie Fernandez:

This is the most ridiculous thing to do – to ask for a cancellation of such a decent performer like Avril Lavigne. Avril’s music is very popular here. PAS Youth should never deprive Malaysians of the chance to watch the concert. PAS Youth is trying to impose their narrow values on the country, forgetting that Malaysia is a multicultural nation. PAS Youth should really take a good look at themselves and examine whether what they are doing is correct. Their narrow-mindedness will definitely not get the support of the rakyat. They are always looking at the world through blinkers. They cannot see any other point of view except theirs. He said Karyawan would be calling for a meeting with all concert promoters to have a stand once and for all to ask for the Government not to entertain ridiculous requests and demands of such unreasonable people.

9th August 2008

The Federal Territory PAS Youth through its chief, Kamaruzaman Mohamed handed over a memorandum to Kuala Lumpur Datuk Bandar Datuk Hakim Borhan and the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry asking that the concert be cancelled, because “rock and punk is not suitable for the young generation and especially so during Merdeka month.”

19th July 2008

Concert date fixed to 29th August.

26th June 2008

Lavigne’s Malaysian leg of her world tour dubbed “The Best Damn Tour: world tour” announced.

50 year old Madonna shows how to rock live in concert, 23rd August 2008

The power of the internet, you won’t see this anywhere else this quick.

See it while it lasts.

The Queen of Pop, Madonna, 50 opened her 8th world tour at Cardiff, Wales on 23rd August 2008.

Borderline, one of my favourite Madonna songs, is one of the songs during that concert, performed rock version.

How many 50-yr old women can rock like this?

Click here to see the video

Servay Hypermarket at Bandar Baru Penampang destroyed in fire, 20th August 2008

LAST UPDATE: 12.36am, 23rd August 2008: new photos added

Servay Hypermarket at Bandar Penampang Baru, Mile 5, Jalan Penampang, 88822 Penampang is probably the biggest supermarket (78,000 sq ft) in the district of Penampang and one of the biggest of the 11 Servay/Parkwell branches.

It was built in September 1997, hence it’s already entrenched as the shopping spot for many Penampangites and surrounding areas. Apart from the supermarket, it features a departmental Store, an IT Department, a restaurant/cafe, food stall, and areas for telecommunication, music, bakery, pharmacy and an Alliance Bank ATM.

The following are 3 photos of the same corner:

BEFORE FIRE

DURING FIRE

Poignant: this is a still off linggaman’s video showing Servay’s main entrance and an ice cream kiosk on the right as the fire was raging. It is one of the last images ever taken of the hypermarket at this angle:

As can be seen below, the ice cream kiosk is still there but everything else has collapsed.

AFTER FIRE

Exact location is shown at wikimapia.

Click here to read news, video and picture updates

Wedding of the Year, 16th August 2008

…or even perhaps the decade.

Why so? Because a first cousin finally, finally ended his bachelorhood after most of us had given up hope of him ever settling down.

Being a much older first cousin (>10 years), he’s like a big brother to all of us, indeed one of his many nicknames is “Abang Besar”.

The following is my favourite photo: it’s 9.24am, the wedding mass is at 10am, a moment for reflection: selamat tinggal bujang? (goodbye bachelorhood):

After the mass:

Congratulations Alfred & Alice!

P.S. The groom being a successful insurance agent, their honeymoon options should include the beach homes via Outer Banks rentals…

Stacy AF6 live at KDCA Hall, Penampang, Sabah, 15th August 2008

At the very last minute, I decided to bring my daughter (who readily agreed) see Stacy AF6 in concert again, after the first time at Padang Merdeka on 31st May.

We arrived late (9 something), but luckily:
- there was still space at the car park
- tickets were still on sale. On one side of the ticket, the concert was billed as “KDCA Fundraising Concert 2008″, and on the other, “Stacy Comes Home: KDCA Concert 2008″.
- the hall’s only about half full (I estimate there were 2,000 there)
- I can’t remember if there were more expensive tickets, but you could sit as near as possible to the front of the stage using a RM20 ticket: no barriers were in place
- Stacy has not yet arrived
- just as we sat down, the lady I’ve been waiting for appeared onstage with Adam AF2: Jo-Anna Sue Henley-Rampas, who I thought was one of the best vocalists I have ever heard live back in November 2007. And yes, she impressed again, and to me is a better vocalist than Stacy.

Still, there’s very little fault with Stacy either. Powerful, my favourite kind of voice (rock-friendly, a little gravelly at the higher registers), down-to-earth personality, and a good dancer to boot. Not quite in the same class as Nikki MI, but still very good nonetheless.

Having said that, the organisation of the concert could’ve been much better. For a start, it was quite bizarre watching RTM’s Sabah VFM DJ Louis Chin as one of the MCs, because I’ve never heard him speak in Bahasa Malaysia before (he’s a DJ for the Kadazan segment). In fact, if I’m not mistaken, the other MC (a lady) is also from the Kadazan segment of Sabah VFM.

That took a while to get used to, but then their handling of proceedings left much to be desired. I think concerts like these need hipper people to be MCs. During some parts of the concert they seemed to be lost and didn’t know what to say. Case in point, they announced that a “kejutan” (surprise) was coming, but then the DJ played a birthday song, to which the crowd sang along. So everybody already knew what was ahead, but still the MCs kept repeating the word “kejutan”. The cake itself took much too long to appear. And as cute as it is, I don’t think it’s a good idea to pause a pop concert for that – it disrupted the momentum. If they could make it very quick, it would’ve been ok, but when the MCs started calling for the parents of Stacy to appear onstage, and suddenly a whole bunch of people came up, including the current Unduk Ngadau presenting Stacy with a bouquet, I thought it was going too far.

About birthdays, apparently Stacy’s going to turn 18 soon. That means she was just 17 when she won AF6.

Then the DJs: I always wonder why they never learnt their lesson all these years. It was a karaoke concert, hence the DJs MUST get their song selection and order down pat. But still, they made at least two horrendous mistakes. The first one was right at the beginning – Stacy’s first song: they played the WRONG song – Stacy had to point it out before they stopped it.

The second was one or two songs later during a duet on a ballad:

Click here to read the rest of the post

How many times have you seen “Pokok” written as “Poko” in Sabah?

I noticed that people who offer their services pruning or cutting down trees in urban areas are prone to advertising their services on small pieces of wood, then sticking them indiscriminately: on electric poles, on trees etc.

Invariably written in Malay, most of the time “pokok” would be written as “poko”, like this one I spotted near Wisma Kewangan, Kota Kinabalu while waiting for the light to turn green on the 14th of July:

Then, on the 7th of August, I happened to stop at exactly the same spot, turned around and saw “pokok” spelt correctly. The mobile phone number’s different, I wonder if this guy forcibly took down the other guy’s “advertising spot”?

Click here to see the picture

Mini Olympics at Likas Indoor Stadium, 9-10th August 2008

… or rather the 6th Ministry of Finance Sports Carnival, boasting quite a few sporting disciplines.

But the timing was certainly fortuitous. The opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics was held the night before on the now-famous triple-eight (8/8/2008).

So there we were early the next morning for the opening ceremony, complete with 12 teams, VVIPs, march pasts and oath taking.

Certainly felt like we were holding our very own little Olympics. But this little Olympics lasts much longer than the real Olympics – months in fact for the simple reason that competitions are done on weekends, usually not simultaneously among the disciplines.

Back to the event: after the opening ceremony, the action started with the badminton tournament. I was one of the 15 players in my team, not including the team manager.

If you thought this was beginner-level badminton, it was certainly not. There were a handful of state or ex state players in the fray, plus serious regular enthusiasts, so quite a lot of the matches were worth watching.

By the end of the weekend (around 4.30 pm on Sunday) we’d finished third after defeating the State Treasury 3-2. Ministry of Finance, boasting several state players and more excellent players, as expected became champions for the umpteenth time, overwhelming Sabah Credit Corporation 3-1 (if I got that right).

So you can say that I’ve had a very sporty weekend, indeed it was very enjoyable and a great demonstration of team spirit.

The only question now is whether I’d be fit enough to work on Monday…

Anyway, congratulations to all those involved, with special mention to Yussop and Kamal who endured a tiring doubles match to haul us back into contention.

Ad: one of the bad things about the parking lot of the Likas Indoor stadium and the nearby jogging track is the rampant car break-ins. On Sunday, as we were all going back home, there were at least 2 cars broken into. I wonder if cheap auto insurance also covers break-ins as well as auto accidents?