Thursday, January 21, 2021

Trump’s Send-off – A Pathetic Sight, and a New Dawn for America-China relationship?

I was watching the send-off of Donald Trump on CNN yesterday evening. What a pathetic sight.

The size of the crowd that had gathered in the South Lawn of the White House must come as a big slap to Trump. It was so thin! He did pause to speak with some of them; but that was very brief. As he and the first lady walked to Marine One, you could feel the weight of their legs. They felt so reluctant to leave!

At the Andrew Air Force Basse where Air Force One was already waiting for him on the tarmac, the sight was no better. Maybe a hundred or two? Of course, most of his immediate family members was there. That would be their last opportunity to travel on Air Force One.

He looked totally dejected. Notwithstanding, he still must make the last dig at the country he blames most for the loss of his throne. “China virus”, he blurted out, though without much energy or spirit.

Many said his ascendency to the throne was an aberration. The mightiest “democratic” country in the world should not have elected someone like Trump as their president in the first place.

Really?

After reading Barack Obama’s latest book “A PROMISED LAND”, I thought the seed had already been sown earlier.

Bush Jr’s second term in office marked the beginning of the decline of America’s prestige in the world stage. By 2007, he was a lame duck. Obama was the right man at the right time – racial prejudices were a non-issue at that time; Americans just wanted their world back. Obama seemed to be able to deliver that hope.

But Obama is not White. And not a mainstream politician.

Obama had both a good head and a good heart. He had a strong sense of purpose. He could not manage the underlying racial prejudices against Blacks and the Coloured in the Republican Party. the ability of its tea parties to sway the neo-Cons to the fore is deadly. His presidency not only cost many Democrats their seats in the Congress, but also the party’s significant majority in the Senate. With the loss of control in the Senate, he could only plod on lamely. He was sabotaged left, right and centre by Mitch McConnel and several other Republicans. The fear that had awakened the Whites in the Republican Party was most devastating to America. It ushered in a fake. Although Trump lost the election, some 75 million American had voted him. And these people are more emotionally more hard-core than people who voted for Biden.

It would not be easy for Biden to realign the mindsets of Trump’s followers to the real world. Many are firm believers of conspiracy theories, notably that of Qanon’s. Fortunately, Biden is a wise grandfather figure. He may succeed to some degree. However, China, which has been Trump and his team’s punching bag, should not feel too optimistic.

Most American are not well-travelled; few have been to China, including the influential politicians and senior bureaucrats. Because of its Stalinist legacy, Communism has always been thought of as evil, sinister, anti-Christian, anti-Islam, and what-have-you. On the other hand, China is most proud of its ruling party – CCP, the China Communist Party. To the uninstructed and untrained lot all over the world, China is an evil empire. And every Chinese a Fu Manchu!

So, many Whites, Blacks, Latinos, non-Chinese Asians in both the parties are still hostile to China and Chinese. China steals from us and China steal our jobs ring loud in their ears.

But what I am concerned about the legacy of Trump is the fact that many leaders have been through and through hypnotised by Trump, not just amongst the leaders in the Five Eyes, but also those in countries like Brazil, India, Japan, Africa and Europe. You can understand the fear of the Whites and Japanese - of being overtaken economically and militarily by China, but why the Indians and the Blacks?

Much of the latter’s is cultural.

India has always been touted as one of the oldest civilisations f the world. But that is only true in the Indus Valley, not the subcontinent as a whole. Many parts were tribal, even at the time when Buddhism was flowing into China. The Mughals had a great reign, but they were Muslims. It was not until the British that it became an aggregation. The earlier leaders opted for non-aligned policies. Even Narendra Modi was prepared to be identified with BRICS – the fraternity comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, until Trump came into the scene.

Trump triggered the ambition and the psychological complex of Modi and Indians. If China can do it, surely we can do better! This self-confidence is certainly not without basis.

Many of the Fortune 500, especially those in high-tech, are headed by Indians. So are some of the top universities, including ironically the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore, which was started as a Chinese community-funded university. Several of the ministers in Singapore are Indian. So is Boris Johnson’s Cabinet. India has more Nobel laureates than China. Some of the wealthiest men in South Africa are also Indian. Whereas Chinese thinkers and scholars are usually quite ill at ease in public speaking, Indians are a class of their own in English fluency and articulations. The citation can go on and on.

But anyone who has visited both India and China can tell you that India as a nation still has a long way to catch up with China. There are simply too many impossibilities to make this happen in the near future – the caste and religious divides, not to mention the antiquity of beliefs and practices in them; the extremes between the rich and the poor; the state of their infrastructure; the apparent lack of adherence to promises and undertakings that is often perceived of them in dealings, the disregard of personal and public hygiene amongst their lesser lot; the unions and their obstinacy, etc.

Emulation is the best way to bridge social-economic gaps. If only the Indians, the Japanese and the Chinese can work together; the region will certainly roll out to be the most affluent part of the world! (Taiwan is not an issue; the moment America lays its hand off, it will just become another prosperous province of China.) The West needs people like Trump to stay ahead!

 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Malaysia, Where Are We Heading?

Malaysia, Where Are We Heading?

Remember Vision 2020? Isn’t this year we are supposed to achieved “developed” status? The year is about to come to an end. However, far from it, we seem to have lapsed instead into a state of semi-paralysis. Or to be flying in an auto-pilot mood?

I have increasing become less confident about where we are heading.

First the Covid-19 situation. When we only hit single or double digits, we thought we were managing the crisis very well. Indeed, we even gloated about ours vis-à-vis our clever neighbour’s. But for the past weeks, we have seen our numbers piked. It was more than 2000 yesterday, and about 70% of the cases were detected in the most urban part of the country – the Klang Valley! And the virus seems to be lurking everywhere.

Our Heath Director-General Dr Nor Hashim continues to update us on a daily basis. But are we confident that he is in full control of the situation now? I for one think the statistics that are being dished out day in and day out do not really reflect the situation in the Covid-19 management of the country. I suspect they contain omissions and reflect non-timely reporting in many instances. To me, the behaviour of the occurrence graph does not quite conform to statistical norms. Besides telling us this and that clusters, we don’t seem to hear much about strategies or longer-terms plans or contemplations. People like me living in the Klang Valley, we also do not know where we should refrain visiting or the places to avoid. Clusters are quite meaningless to men-in-the-street; people are not confined to the clusters that have been named, are they? Be that as it may, let’s don’t pour too much cold water onto this good doctor who is trying his absolute best to contain the virus.  

Second, an order of vaccine has already landed in Changi Airport. What has happened to our orders? Arriving next February? And nothing from China? But before the vaccines arrive, we are already hearing some rent-seeking moves. Hope they are not true. But given the frequency of these occurrences, we can only hope.

Third, the FDI or the foreign direct investment. It is reported that Malaysia only managed to corner 5% of the ASEAN cake. What happened? I thought we ranked high in the eyes of foreign investors? I dread touching on race and religion; but isn’t time for us to do some soul searching about them and about our education system?

Fourth, our recent Budget. It has been passed by the Parliament. Can we spend our way to recovery without talking about the future of the country’s finances? We appear to be stepping into the middle-income trap. I remember most of my contemporaries were able to buy a decent roof over our head three of four years after entering the work force, even though bank interest was something like 12% then. Many graduates in our country today can only do so with the help of their parents!

Fifth, the one-time-too-often interruptions in our water supply in the Klang Valley. Irresponsible dumping? Sabotage? We deserve a better answer!

Yet, we can get so worked out over someone’s marriage to a sports celebrity in India. Just because they are of different faiths.

Sad indeed.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Hi Air Selangor, I am totally unimpressed!

For non-Malaysian friends of mine, Air Selangor is not an airline. It is the water supply monopoly in the state of Selangor, Malaysia. However, it is still a private company.

My son decided to buy a bigger unit at the highest floor of the condominium he is now staying. No sooner had the balance of the purchase price been paid than the vendor’s law firm went ahead to terminate all the utility services. We did not know until we found there was no electricity when we went there to organise some renovation plans. Apparently, the vendor’s lawyer had informed my lawyer, who might have overlooked to advise us. But courtesy would dictate that the purchaser was given a week or two before the services under the vendor’s name were terminated. The termination of the electricity supply also affected the water supply since the latter to the unit was powered by a pump. We had no choice but to rush to these utility offices to try to reconnect the supply.

Tenaga Nasional, or the power monopoly, was superb. Fearing long queues, I went early to the nearest office. I was the first customer and within minutes, everything was done. The technician came in the afternoon and had the supply reconnected. A big bravo to you, Tenaga Nasional!

The same morning, we drove to the nearest office that was stated in Air Selangor’s website. It was closed! There was a notice asking consumers to go to other offices of theirs. We proceeded to the one at Pantai Bahru.

I had in the previous evening visited Air Selangor’s website to try to download all the forms that had to be filled and signed. But the prescribed copy of the agreement was no way to be downloaded in a manner that could be printed by a home computer. It was in a double A4 format! I also typed out an authorization letter signed by my son for me to act for him in the application.

Oh, the queue was long! I was directed to see a “gatekeeper” first.

“Where is agreement?” He asked. I told him there was no way I could download it from Air Selangor’s website. He handed me a set. They must be signed by my son.

 “You are not the owner, right? Where is the authorization letter?”

I showed him what I have prepared, he mumbled something to the effect that it was not the language they would accept. I have been using the same format in many other instances. I just could not understand what he was talking about. He also told me that I had to take a picture of the meter. I was very exasperated with the demand for such a simple service application. In many countries, everything could be done over the Internet.

The visit was a futile exercise since I could not submit the application without my son’s signature on the documents.

In Malaysia, we usually use “runners” to do this stuff for us. While I was trying to enquire for one, one of the condo’s executives volunteered to do the submission for us. I thanked him profusely.

More than a week later, this kind man telephoned me.

“Mr Lim, I visited Air Selangor, they said the owner must personally do the submission.”

What a rubbish. He was just telling a white lie. The checklist clearly said on-behalf application is allowed. Surely all the VIPs property owners - Tan Sris, Datuks, etc - will not want to personally go there to apply for a simple utility connection! I suspect he might have gone there but was deterred from the queue he saw.

Fortunately, the water man has not come to turn off the tap!

We decided not to go there ourselves a second time.

There was a queue. There was a notice saying senior citizens were entitled to priorities. But the attitude of the staff was simply dismissive. It was not being enforced, Period. But before I joined the queue, I had to overcome this same gatekeeper again. Again, he was trying to find fault with the documents. I simply told him off. Why was he trying to be difficult when Air Selangor was essentially a service provider? He said I could try my luck with the counter people if I insisted on proceeding to submit.

I did, and found the application was accepted and duly processed – after queueing for some forty-five minutes.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Climbing out of Lethargy

I have not been blogging for some months. I felt very lethargic, not physically, but mentally – all because of politics! And no that I am involved in politics, but in what I saw about the politics in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Taiwan and at home. 

I just could not understand why so many Americans could support Donald Trump. Oh boy, I hate to see the way he speaks, not to mention the rubbish that he spews. Oh boy, I also cannot bear the sight of Mike Pompeo and Peter Navarro; they are so fake! And day in and day out, you saw them in the news channels. 

And oh boy, I cannot understand Tsai Ing-wen can be so un-nationalistic to think Taiwan is not part of China. 

 And in the meantime, the company I most admire, namely Huawei, is being viciously attacked by America, and dropped by the United Kingdom and Australia in the name of “national security risk”. 

If Trump got re-elected, Boris Johnson, Scott Morrison, and Tsai Ing-wen will remain steadfast in their stances in the respective issues. 

At home, everything seems to be on autopilot. There are so many ministers; how many of us can tell who they are and what portfolio they are holding? I used to hold the Director General of the Ministry of Health in high esteem. But his armour seems to have lost its shine lately. We are now seeing new cases exceeding a thousand daily. Yet the daily charts look so stale! 

Our paramount concerns such as “Is where we are safe?”, or “What’s being done to contain the spread?”, are not addressed. As laymen, what we want to know from the ministry's release every day is a snapshot that tells basically this: How many new cases and how many in our state? The details can then follow, not the other way around. The fatigue syndrome is so very evident. Even the Star is so complacent in its reporting. (Go to their bulleting and you will see the same narrative about the spread to Malaysia is being posted day in and day out since the disease first broke out.) 

And few are diligent in observing the MCO’s SOPs. In eateries and wet markets, you see masks hanging below chins. I do not mean to dope in people, but there is no easy channel for concerned citizens to bring offenders to the notice of authorities. And you see many VVIPs not showing examples. Sad indeed, hence my lethargy for the last couple of months. 

Now with Trump about to go, I sense hope. Many have doubts about Joe Biden. But I believe he CANNOT be worse than Trump - in at least one thing: Decency. And that is the premise of my optimism. And with this, I hope my lethargy will go away.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Redang Island

While we are still physically fit and not constrained by work routines, we travel whenever and wherever we want to go. We had booked to go to Zhangjiajie in April and Canada in September; unfortunately, Covid-19 had dashed both these trips. Fortunately, there is space enough in Peninsular Malaysia for us to travel a little. Soon after the movement restrictions were lifted, we drove south to visit my brother in Johor Baru and my sisters in Muar. A couple of weeks later we headed north, thinking of visiting of Kota Bahru via the Kuala Lipis route. We had to rush back after my wife suffered severe food poisoning at Taman Negara. We did a couple of day trips around Selangor after that.

When my son suggested that we visit Pulau Redang with his boys, we were all game for it.

Pulau Redang is a small island off the coast of Terengganu. I believe there is a regular air service operated by Berjaya between Subang and the island. However, at this Covid-19 time, we rather drive.

We would drive to Merang, put up a night at a boutique hotel there and from there take a boat to Pulau Redang where we would stay for two nights at Berjaya’s Taaras Resort.

The drive from my pad at Saujana Resort to Merang was pretty uneventful. We did it in four and a-half hours. The first four hours were on a toll highway; only the last half-an-hour was through the villages leading to the boutique hotel we booked at Merang. Since the hotel does not cater for meals if it is not booked in advance, we adjourned to a restaurant nearby for our dinner. It looked clean, but the flies were very persistent in wanting to share the food with us.

The boutique hotel is clean, but not great. The rate was extraordinarily high for a hotel of its class – I believe my son paid more than MYR400 per room per night. The only consolation is that the breakfast served was generous.

While city hotels are suffering, resort hotels are doing a roaring business now. The Taaras Resort is no exception. It is very well booked, in spite of the prices. You have to pay MYR50 for a serve of Mamak

Princely price to stay in this boutique hotel in Merang

With the "resident" turtles

Jungle trekking in Pulau Redang


mee,
and more than MYR200 for one for its buffet do. And every sea activity costs a bomb.
What a great time!

I wouldn’t rate the resort highly. It was well past 3 in the afternoon before we got to check into the room; even then, towels were not available. My room’s air conditioner was noisy, so was the fan. I supposed these speak volumes about its maintenance culture and SOPs. For my room there was a warning sticker on the glass door facing the jungle to say, “Beware of Monkeys”, but apparently there was none in my son’s room. True enough, his room was ransacked by a gang while they were enjoyed the waters the next day!

My son’s boys did enjoy themselves thoroughly. But for oldies like me and my wife, we did find killing time in a beach hotel a little challenging, since we dread staying under hot sun for long. And besides the resort, you don’t really go around much in Pulau Redang.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Me - What a Sucker!

Although I did Mechanical Engineering in university, I hate to touch anything under a car’s bonnet. I have to depend on outside mechanics once a car’s warranty is over. But I am so wary of many of them. 

I was cheated a couple of times when I took over my son’s BMW 3-series – out of my concern that his car was giving him troubles here and there. It lived up to its “Banyak Makan Wang” reputation. Those days I only returned to Kuala Lumpur from time to time and each time I would always find something not working well. Each time I sent to a workshop the bill would invariably run into many, many thousands.

One day I chanced upon a young owner of a car care centre at Ara Damansara. Ah Lock seemed technically very savvy about all these Banyak Makan Wangs. And he appeared honest and obliging. I thought he was one whom I could trust and never checked his prices. He became my regular mechanic. When he moved to a bigger shop lot, I even did a little to help him – by WhatsApp’ing friends of his availability and giving my strong recommendation.

But what a misplaced trust!

Two days ago, my wife and I went for a lunch catch-up with her folks at Sungei Buloh. On driving back, the instrument panel suddenly showed a red alert: A battery icon with a stop engine warning. I thought I could drive to Ah Lock’s workshop to seek help. But no sooner, the car began to shut down. Within minutes, the car got stalled; fortunately, it was in front of a nursery and two men were kind enough to help push it to the side curb. It was raining like crazy; luckily, the people at the insurance company, MSG, were good; they arranged for a tow truck to have it towed to Ah Lock’s workshop, since the warranty of my car has just expired.   

Ah Lock, in his usual charming manner, was most reassuring. As it was getting late, I left the car to him.

Nest morning, he gave me a call – RM1,600+ for a Mercedes battery or RM1,450 for a non-Mercedes equivalent. Being a stingy old miser, I opted for the latter. And no second thoughts about the price or even the brand. I trusted Ah Lock completely. 

He called a little latter. “Uncle Lim, your car’s rear brake pads have also to be changed; it would cost RM790, including brake fluid, sensor and labour.” My reply was the usual “No problem; go ahead,”

My wife’s sister called to ask if everything was alright. My wife mentioned to her about the battery. 

“Wait a minute, Maurice (her husband and my brother-in-law) has just changed his BM’s battery and it was much less than what your mechanic has quoted you.” She said.

I started to google and called a few suppliers. All quoted less than RM1K for that particular brand and model of the battery. 

It is not the money but the trust I have misplaced on Ah Lock that is hurting me deeply!

Have I been suckered by Ah Lock all this while?

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Another BS...

The following is another BS I have just received in one of my WhatsApp chat groups:

* Help share 🙏: --- 👍👍 *

Doctors in China confirm.

100 準確 信息

This information is 100% accurate

對於 每個 非常 有效。

Very effective for everyone

為什麼 中國 大陸 過去 幾天 大大 減少 感染 人數

China has significantly reduced the number of infections in the past few days.

除了 口罩 洗手

Besides wearing masks and washing hands

他們 只是 簡單 每天 漱口 3 鹽水

They also gargle salt water 3 times a day

完成 喝水 5 分鐘。

After that, drink warm water for 5 minutes

因為 病毒 只能 喉嚨 侵襲

Because the virus initially only attacks the throat

然後 侵襲 肺部

Then just attack the lungs

受到 鹽水 侵襲 .

When hit by salt water

病毒 死亡 胃中 胃中 下來 胃中 銷毀,

The virus will die or descend and disintegrate in the stomach

預防 冠狀 病毒 流行 唯一 方法

This is one way to prevent Covid19 from being used by people.

市場 沒有 藥品

There is no medicine on the market

所以 不要 購買。

No need to buy

綜合 王叔 醫師 醫師

The General Hospital stated

肺炎 沒有 來到 肺部 之前, Before the crown pneumonia / virus reaches the lungs

喉嚨 部位 存活 4

The virus lives in the throat for 4 days

這個 時候 人們 開始 咳嗽 喉痛。

At this time, the infected start to cough & sore throat.

如果 儘量 喝多 開水 ,

If you can drink as much warm water as possible or salt water

就能 消滅 病菌。

Can eliminate viruses

儘快 訊息 轉達 一下

Hurry and spread this message.

因爲 他人 命!

Because you will save someone's life

翻译 2020 4 2

Translated by Liu Zan kun on April 2, 2020

*****

I thought a somewhat similar advice was handed out by a Malaysian minister at the outset of this virus. It is all quackery! Advisories like this can diminish the image of Chinese medical science. Silly fellow!