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

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!

Overzealous Champions, Think before you post!

Recently, following has been circulating in chat groups:

Buy Huawei P40 5G and Forget Apple 12. Point No 9, no need to subscribe to Maxis, DiGi, Celcom, etc 👍👍👍👍

This message is circulating widely in China.

The Apple 12 is about to go on the market soon. This  is the time for us to show our displeasure towards the US bullying and threatening tactics. If Apple 12 gets a poor response in the Chinese market on the day of release, the US will have no face.!!  It's time for us to do something, insist on not buying Apple 12.

Many has join the campaign. Let the United States be defeated without a fight. There are now tens of millions of people forwarding to the Chinese people on the Internet. This  publicity won't fail!! Let us start doing something. China's  domestic mobile phones are really good, use Huawei P40:-

1) It has a master key, you can be connected to the Internet everywhere, in hotels and other places without having to ask anyone for a password to connect.

2) Yes, you can log in to 2 WeChat at the same time.

3) It is a Leica dual-lens photo camera. The effect is the same as the SLR effect. It is a real Leica camera.

4) It has the world's 1st virtual 3-antenna reception. If you reach an area with very poor network coverage, you will still feel good.

5) Is cheaper, 2/3 of Apple's, and much cheaper than Samsung. P40 5G full Netcom is only 5988 Yuan, cost effective.

6) Is easy to download without ID code and password.

7) Is fast, P40 is 8G + 512GB.

8) The most exciting is that Huawei’s mobile phone is implanted with a Beidou chip by end of June '20 to face hundreds of millions of delighted shareholders.

9) There is no need to pay for phone calls and data charges for life. When the chip is installed, no card is needed.

10) Because the chip is satellite based communication, it will receive the high up satellite signals everywhere, is beyond imagination.

11) We support Made in China products.

12) To realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation at an early date.

13) Is to weaken the arrogance of the United States, which is the most crucial.

Please repost to 50 people to win this war. If you see this message, no matter how busy you are, please forward it!


Never mind about the technology; maybe Huawei is really good, but I couldn’t help responded this way:

This is just my personal opinion: “Boycotting” is a form of “inferiority complex” response, usually practised by the Third World. India’s recent sentiment against anything Chinese is a case in point. Huawei is now telling the world that its mobile phones are in many respects better than any in the world, including Apple’s. We should let the market tell the world about this. We do want to give compatriots’ products a helping hand - if they cannot compete in their own right. Otherwise, this is - to me again - a form of “kneah-su” mentally, which Chinese should rise above.


My friend Cheok also joined in with this:

“I think a number of points here are not correct. I have checked with Huawei store as I intend to get one.

 “If no need to have a sim card, why there are 2 slots for sim cards on the phone. The slots could not be used for memory cards.

“Your WhatsApp usage is based on your telephone no. If you don't subscribe to maxis, digital or celcom, where are you going to have your number. How are you going to make calls?

“I support Huawei. But the person who wrote this know nothing about the phone n system.

Don't viral this, it just shows our ignorance.


I leave the judgement to readers. I find many Chinese too overzealous for their own good, at least in terms of credibility! 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The "Jakarta Method"

I had never heard of the term until I read Vincent Bevins’s latest book: The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anti-Communist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program that Shaped Our World (2020, PublicAffairs). Bevins is an American journalist who has worked in Brazil, the UK and Indonesia.

I have been to many parts of Indonesia and have even stationed myself in Jakarta for a couple of months, but nobody has ever mentioned this term to me, even though what did happen to Indonesia in the aftermath of Suharta takeover is known to all. Bevins says that some one million Indonesians lost their lives during that period, just because they were members of the Communist Party of Indonesia or who were identified to be sympathizers of its ideology.

Apparently, the seed of the slaughter was sown during Sukarno’s rule. And the US’s success in Indonesia was quickly adopted spread far and wide.

In 1961, Sukarno hosted a seemingly successful conference for non-aligned nations in Bandung. It was supposed to unite the newly independent countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia to stand up to their former colonial masters and the US. Socialism appeared to be their rallying cause. But amongst them, many were already Communist countries. The ideology was gaining ground in many parts of the world, thanks to the developments in the USSR and its satellites in East Europe, and China. This awoken the US.

CIA immediately started to systematically and ruthlessly to undermine these fledgling governments. It openly funded their militaries and soon they seized power and turn their countries into military dictatorships. CIA sponsored their extermination of anyone, no matter who remotely he or she was, or said to be, associated with Communist or left-wing activities in these countries. Indonesia was its first target, hence the term the Jakarta Method.

Some one quarter of Indonesia’s population was said to be sympathetic to the Communist Party of Indonesia. Even though the Communists there were against armed struggle, the Suharta regime went on to liquidate some one million of them in cold blood. Many who were posted or studying overseas were cut adrift and some are still languishing in countries like the Netherlands and Brazil, even Cuba today.

Extermination exercises were conducted everywhere, many were totally ruthless. Bevins documents in good details some of these: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Columbia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Venezuela in Latin America, and Iran, Iraq, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and East Timur. In Africa, he lists only Sudan, but I believe many African dictatorships would not have happened without the US money and efforts.

Uncle Sam, you have so much blood on your hands! Yet you want more!

Sunday, August 2, 2020

The Naked Emperor, His Jesters, and Hyenas

The 2020 American presidential election is less than 100 days away. As Donald Trump continues to wreak his frustrations and incompetence on China, I see the whole world attitude towards China has panned into the following streams:

                        1. The “Fear China’s Growth” World

These are the policy makers and opinion influencers in the Five Eyes (the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and to a lesser extent New Zealand), Japan, India, and Vietnam.


In the case of the Five Eyes, the hard-line stance from the US is obvious, but why the UK, Canada and Australia?


The UK’s handling of the pandemic has demonstrated abundantly the shallowness of Boris Johnson’s leadership. His flip-flop on China in general and Huawei in particularly speaks volumes of his vulnerability to the influence of his Cabinet. It is no joking matter that many Indians are telling the world now they are ruling the UK. And we know Indians all over the world are generally not friendly to Chinese, even of those outside China. Their BBC and The Economist, two of the standard bearers of British world-class pretensions, have also thrown away journalistic principles and resort to badmouthing China. Canada’s Trudeau is a lightweight in international politics. He has also demonstrated his inability to stand up on issues against the wishes of the US government. As for Australia, most of the politicians and journalists there are really a bunch of American boot-lickers. They do have enlightened political leaders like Daniel Andrews, business leaders like Andrew Forrest, and many world-renowned academics who understand the true China.


Historically, India has always been a source of spiritual enlightenment to Chinese. Both countries were friendly to each other during the Non-Aligned Movement days – until they fought a border war! Now many Indians harbour a cultural and intellectual complex and most have this at hear: Anything good about China or Chinese is bad news for us. If both countries could work together, Asia will be calling the shots in the world. 

2. The “Chinese but Devoid of Chinese-ness” World

These are mainly Taiwan-born Chinese and Hongkongers who will do the Five Eyes’ bidding. They love to demonise China even without prompting from the Five Eyes. They deserve my utmost contempt.

3.                                          3. The “Happy to Live/Compete with China on Equal Terms” World

I would include leaders in the developed world such as Germany and some other European Countries and Korea

4. The “China-friendly” World

Here the obvious parties are Russia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, several member states of ASEAN and the countries in Central and West Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But there also lies some anti-China currents amongst their citizenries, especially in countries like Russia and Iran.

5.                                              5. The “Play Safe” World

Singapore is a case in point – by virtue of role in international trades and geographical position. It cannot afford to be seen to be too friendly to China, when its about 70% of its population is Chinese. Its decision to opt for Nokia-Ericsson for its 5G roll-out clearly demonstrates this reality.

6.                             6. The “China Ambivalent” World

China is too far from them; they are only interested in trades with China. The countries in this category are generally in Latin America and Africa.

I read Quora on a regular basis. The questions and answers in Quora are very revealing about world opinions on China and Chinese. I would say about 70% of the question posers are very ignorant about China and Chinese. Many are actually from America, a country where knowledge and information are so readily available and yet a large percentage of its people hardly think or read things. To these people, China means the Communist Party of China. To them, CCP is evil, running a polluted country, always trying to steal intellectual properties from the West, bent on aggression towards its neighbours and what-have-you. The outbreak of Covid-19 first from Wuhan has also done a great deal of damage to the image of China. Even China is the only country that has achieved impossible success in the fight against the pandemic, no developed country is humble enough to say it out loud and clear.

I can see that about 80% of the answers in Quora are provided by people who have actually visited China or are what quite authoritative about what’s happening in China. They are usually objective and enlightening and do a great deal to correct misconceptions. Notwithstanding, many don’t seem to read, and the same lines of questions would come up again and again. This is the reality that China and we ethnic Chinese have to contend with.

Having read so much about Trump’s concepts of things, or the lack of them, and his callousness in life, including those betrayals dished out to his very own family as revealed by his niece in her recent book “Too Much and Never Enough”, I have resigned to the fact that it is really not worth our while to get angry with someone whose mindset is totally twisted beyond any sense of human decency. I have stopped reading what he says or writes and would switch channel each time he speaks on TV.

But Trump is not the politician I dread most…

I dread most are the hyenas, charlatans and crackpot experts who are adding fuel to Trump’s fire.

The No 1 hyena is Mike Pompeo. To me he is a thug and a liar of the highest order. He has no qualms in spewing out all sorts of venoms against China. (I read somewhere that his principal advisor on China-bashing is none other than a professor who hails from China!) The second American I am disgusted with is Peter Navarro, the charlatan who is really a crackpot economist. There are a couple of others like Bill Barr and Larry Kudlow. But these merely parrots.

My greatest contempt goes to Chinese who have forgotten their heritage and civilizational history – the Taiwanese who think they are Japanese and toe whatever America says and the Hongkoners who still think they are British. Don’t they see what the colour of their skin is?

Unless there is war between China and the US in the next 100 days, I believe Trump will lose the presidency and the US will return to pre-Trump rationality. The hostility from the Five Eyes will ease and the world will see some semblance of order again. However, the crack between China and the Five Eyes has already grown to such an extent China, because of the uniqueness of its political, economic, and cultural/social systems, coupled with its relentless pursuits in technological fronts, has to be on always on its guard against future Trumps.

I love this open written by a Chinese Canadian Philip Yeung, which I am taking the liberty to reproduce in its entirety…

A Misunderstood Country

Diplomacy is dead—between China and the US. When US agents broke down the doors of the Chinese consulate in Houston, all pretenses of diplomatic nicety vanished.

These days, when America opens its mouth, it is to insult, vilify and lash out at China. In the good old days, America used to adopt a “stick and carrot” approach to China. Now, it is all stick.

What exactly has China done to deserve this fire and fury?

Frankly, the world is getting sanctions fatigue, trade war fatigue and China-bashing fatigue. In fact, China-scapegoating is becoming a game of diminishing returns; it is just red meat for Trump’s base While America is busy making trouble everywhere, China has been busy making money, and the US suddenly gets spooked by the size of the China Dream.

The US wants the world to believe China’s dream is the world’s nightmare, that it is the free world against communist China.

The depth of America’s willful ignorance is frightening. Today’s China is not the China of the Cultural Revolution or even of 1989. Yes, China has made its share of mistakes (which country hasn’t?). But after 40 years of economic open-door policy, China is an utterly transformed country. China is not Cuba or North Korea or even socialist Venezuela. It is governed collectively and rationally like a giant corporation where efficiency prevails. If you judge by the results, China is better run than many Western democracies---just look at divided America and directionless Britain. In fact, Trump has so thoroughly discredited democracy with his boasts about grabbing women’s genitalia and clocking up lies at the rate of over 20 per day in office, that we have the right to wonder: where are the checks and balances promised in the system ?

America is making a fatal miscalculation. If you want to take on your enemy, you should at least take his measure. They are treating China and the Chinese government as one entity, minus its people. But if you live in China, you will see that there are no cracks in national unity. After all, 750 million of them have been lifted out of poverty by their government. These days, the Chinese are shoppers, buyers of Mercedes Benz, lovers of LV and globe-trotting, cash-splashing travelers. They are no longer the gun-toting, book-burning revolutionaries of old. It shows you how dangerously outdated America’s knowledge of the country is.

I often marvel at the economic energies of the Chinese people. They are pure economic animals. They want respect, not domination. They flaunt their economic clout, but seldom flex their military muscle. China’s wars are wars of defense; her intentions in the South China Sea are to protect its freedom of navigation in this region for its vital commerce. Unlike America, China doesn’t do regime change.

There is one fact the Americans cannot ignore: The Chinese have never had it so good. It is producing billionaires faster than anywhere else in the world. Zhou Qin-fei is a female entrepreneur from a dirt-poor family and left school at 15 to work at a factory where she remained on the assembly line for 8 years, until she struck out to start her own business. After 30 years of blood, sweat and tears, she is today the founder and CEO of a tech company. Her net worth is estimated at $9.5 billion US. Behind every Chinese business success story is a flesh-and-blood human being, not a faceless government establishment. And do you think they will betray a government that has given them opportunities to succeed? By contrast, there are no such rags-to-riches stories in Cuba or North Korea. When it comes to the outside world, the Chinese people are at one with their government. America is a divided country, China is not. If you demonize China, you demonize its people.

With each eye-poking provocation, the two world powers inch closer to war. There are three things the US must know about its enemy. First, China is the birthplace of Sun Tzu, the world’s most famous military strategist. China fought the US to a standstill at the Korean War when it was dirt-poor. Today, it is prosperous and nuclear-armed. Unlike Iraq, China does have weapons of mass destruction. If the US intends to bomb China back to the Stone Age, China is likely to return the favor. The US limped out of Vietnam not knowing its foe. It will do so again when the fight with China is finished.

Second, China is a country burdened by history, with the Hundred Years of Humiliation hovering over them. Peaceful rise, yes, but it is determined never to be humiliated again, over Taiwan or Hong Kong.

Third, if the war is purely economic, remember that China is so large and populous that it will thrive on domestic consumption alone. There are signs that China is now being turned economically inwards. China has kept the cost of living low for America and the rest of the world. Expect hyperinflation when Chinese manufactured goods no longer reach Western markets. Besides, who’s going to buy America’s pork, corn, or soya beans?

Trump’s all-out war against China is doing it a big domestic favor, by uniting the people solidly behind their government. What does America gain by taking on one-sixth of the planet’s human population?

I am not saying that China is a perfect country. No country is. China is accused of human rights violations in Xinjiang. I don’t know enough about the situation there to comment intelligently on it. But I do know two things: One, Chinese cities have been spared terrorist attacks in recent years, unlike Boston, New York, Paris, or London. And two, if you accuse China of genocide, then you must first explain why this ethnic minority is exempted from China’s strict one-child policy, to allow its population to reproduce quickly.

As for the US, why doesn’t it close its Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp where suspects are detained indefinitely and subjected to torture? Why detain children of illegal immigrants? They are dying or sick and separated from their parents at the border. What’s happened to their human rights? And what about America’s use of waterboarding as a torture technique? Before you work up your righteous indignation, please clean up your own act, in your own backyard.

If there is one issue that unites the West against China, it is over its enactment of National Security Law for Hong Kong. This partly speaks to Hong Kong’s popularity as a world city. But this Hollywood nostalgia disguises a dark fact. The place has been misgoverned for 23 years. City  officials are living in a bubble, protected by perks, privileges and the world’s most generous pensions, with ridiculous education allowances that let them send their kids to Britain or other overseas destinations for education at public expense, with each family enjoying 5 air-tickets per year. Officials have completely deserted the public-school system. They did nothing to prepare the young for handover of sovereignty to China, teaching them no Chinese history, such that China remains a total stranger to those born after 1997.

In short, Hong Kong has never been successfully decolonized, unlike Macau which is enjoying peace and prosperity without officials spoiled by ridiculous special privileges. City officials are just marking time, while collecting their largess. It is downright criminal.

There are some disturbing statistics. Of the nearly 9000 arrested in the past year during the street riots, over 30% are students, more than half of them high school students and even primary school pupils. If you ask them what the so-called five demands they are fighting for, they can’t tell you. Yet they have gone on the rampage, terrorizing non-protestors, trashing universities, shops and even Beijing’s office in the city. The burning and violence went on for nine months. Beijing stood by and did nothing.

Would Washington or London have shown the same restraint? Trump would have sent in the federal troops on the first sign of trouble. The West has never willingly recognized China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong. They embrace two systems, but they forget there is one country. Beijing gave Hong Kong 23 years to enact its own national security law, but unlike Macau, it never did. In the meantime, someone must explain why the US consulate in Hong Kong has a staff of well over a thousand. What do they do in the city? I think you know what the answer is.

Throughout, Hong Kong people are free to take to the streets and call for the downfall of the communist party. On average, there are 19 protests a day. It is a city in chaos. A city of little hope for the young, despite its glittering skyscrapers. There is no universal pension. No unemployment insurance, no inheritance tax for the rich, no rent control for the poor. It has become the world’s most unaffordable city, thanks to property prices artificially driven sky-high by developer-favoring policies. It is a totally misgoverned city, but poor Beijing is getting the blame. People outside know little other than what the biased Western press has fed them.

There is a quick solution to the Hong Kong mess: revoke all the special perks and privileges enjoyed by officials whose family members all hold foreign passports. They lack commitment and empathy. They are unfit to govern. This is the root of Hong Kong’s problem. Beijing’s fault is in giving them too long a leash, religiously respecting the two-systems concept and allowing incompetent and heartless locals to run the place. As Sir David Aker-Jones, the former number two in the colonial government said before he died: “I wish Beijing would simply send someone able to run Hong Kong, just like Britain did before 1997.”

There is no doubt Beijing is losing the propaganda war. Does it have a global image problem? I guess it does. This is because its spokespersons are often tied to a script and have never learned to speak the language of the West. Telling America or Britain to stop meddling in China’s “internal affairs” over Hong Kong falls on deaf ears. They should learn to use humor, irony, or other subtle forms of rebuttal. They should learn from Chester Ronning, Canada’s China-born ambassador to China. When his political opponent accused him of growing up on the milk of a Chinese milk mother, implying that he had Chinese blood in his veins, Ronning retorted, “but my opponent grew up on cow milk.” And when an Iraqi reporter threw two shoes in succession at George W Bush, missing both times, the US President deadpanned: “I think it’s a size 10.”

China needs professional assistance of lobbyists to argue its case, instead of relying on its citizens to do the job, leaving them open to the charge of espionage, as recently happened in Australia. 

China’s misfortune is that the world will not let it forget its past. They have never outgrown their preconceptions. Forty years after its economic opening up, China is still seen as an old-fashioned communist country. China may have learned to trade with the West or talk technology with it, but it has yet to learn to speak English persuasively or authentically. A global power needs three things:  hard military power, economic clout plus the soft power of diplomacy and communication. In the information age, words may matter just as much as guns and dollars.

China has failed to argue its case over Hong Kong, and the West has chosen to see this misgoverned city as an underdog bullied by Beijing. The truth is that America has brilliantly leveraged the Hong Kong mess to help the Taiwan separatist president win re-election and tarnish China’s global reputation. America has successfully parlayed the twin story of a misunderstood country and a misgoverned city into a false narrative that has found legs around the world.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Taman Negara - Malaysia's National Park

The park comprising some 4,300 sq.km straddles three states - Pahang, Trengganu and Kelantan. Although most restrictions under Malaysia’s Movement Control Order – as a result of the outbreak of Covid-19 – have been lifted, we are still not allowed to cross borders without having to ensure cumbersome embarkation and arrival procedures, not to mention the risk and discomfort of air travel under the circumstances.


But we are all itching to get out of the house!  


My wife and I decided to do a loop of the East Coast states. We would visit Taman Negara via Jerantut, after that, we would drive north to Kota Bahru, spend a night or two there, before turning south to visit Lake Kenyir, and depending on what we see of the conditions in the hotels there, do a day tour or stay a night, and after that, hit the road again to return via Kuala Trengganu and Kuantan, with maybe a night at one of the resorts in between. 


That was the plan; unfortunately, it didn’t work out. 


The Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Tahan leg was easy, even though some stretches nearer Kuala Tahan are narrow and logging trucks were quite menacing. The signage for Mutiara Taman Negara was quite poor. It was not until we hit the jetty that a hotel employee came in a motorcycle to welcome us.  


Where is the car park? 


“You have to park your car up there,” he pointed his fingers towards the top of the slope.


It is quite a distance away and the slope as too steep for a handicapped person like me to handle. He was kind enough to offer his help. After depositing our stuff at the jetty, I followed him in my car to the parking ground. The fee was RM30 for two days, which entitled me to park under a roof. After that, I hitched a ride on his motorcycle back to the jetty. All well and good. 


The ferry to the hotel costs only RM1 each. With the loss of tourist numbers, life must be tough for these boatmen. 

Mutiara Taman Negara is supposed the “best” hotel at Kuala Tahan. I was told that it is now owned by Syed Mokhtar Albukhary. The ground is sprawling, and the chalets look decent enough, but I couldn’t help concluding that the resort must have seen better days before.  

Many parts of the walkway are in a state of disrepair
A memorable moment: a snake came crashing down from the treetop and nearly hit one of us

The resort organises a couple of activities for guests to choose. We opted for two – (a) a visit to the Orang Asli settlement along the Tembeling river and (b) a visit to the canopy walkway, which entails about three hours of jungle trekking.

I won’t say they were really worth our efforts. I am sure the Wildlife Department can do a better job. I am not saying they should do more to commercialise. Maintenance is an issue, and little is done to impart knowledge and awareness to visitors.

Starting a fire; isn't this universally practised when a culture is still primitive?.


The second evening, soon after our dinner.

I saw my wife rushing to the toilet.

The whole evening was a nightmare – she was in and out of the toilet, vomiting and purging. We had forgotten to bring any food poisoning medicine along! And there was medical help in the resort.

We checked out when dawn broke. She was so drained out that nothing could come out anymore. Fortunately, she could ensure the 4-hour return journey.  It must be a terrible time for her.


The food offered by Mutiara was pretty tasty. But each time we had to fight with a couple of flies who were so persistent in landing on our dishes. We thought this was just inevitable. We didn’t expect trouble. But on reflecting, there are all sorts of poos dropped by elephants, wild boars, monkey, etc in that jungle. What do you expect?