Monday, August 29, 2011

Lessons Of Ramadhan Often Soon Forgotten

Friends and Readers all, please reminded of the pitfalls of the post-Ramadhan period, especially how one forgets some key lessons, such as:

  1. Eat to stay alive, not be Alive for by Eating! (This is probably a cautions to this still 100+ kg mass blogger most of all...)

  2. Make time to worship Allah, not worship Him when you have the time!

  3. Orphans do not stop being orphans after Ramadhan or even after Syawal. They remain orphans and in need in other months of the year too!

  4. It is more important to keep the compulsory prayers 5 times a day, all year around than to have completed your 20+ rakaat of Tarawikh a night throughout Ramadhan! Tarwikh are BONUS POINTS, the Fardhu prayers are compulsory to pass...

  5. You can continue fasting after Ramadhan if you want. If you want... why diet, just fast!

  6. An addition to 1.: Just because the 5 houses you are visiting have 5 dishes of which 50% overlap, does not mean you have to sample every dish to compare, to enjoy, or to 'be polite'! OK, there is the be polite thing, but why not pick a couple of stuff not overlapping each time for a start... even if you miss some, there is always tomorrow!

  7. An addition to 2.: No, rushing to balik kampung or even running between relatives' houses are not grounds for completely missing prayers!

  8. Muslims may believe that Satan is chained up in Ramadhan, hence all evil done then reflects the true nature of the man, but... Muslims can't blame Satan or use him as an excuse for all the evil they do outside of Ramadhan!

Just some thoughts I thought worthy of sharing as we celebrate...


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Reflections At The End Of Ramadhan

Ramadhan ends this year with this blogger feeling much regret. This is in stark contrast to last year's Ramadhan where there seemed much hope. Maybe one has matured enough over a year to realise certain truths which were once too clouded by optimism. Whatever the reason(s) may be, the end of Ramadhan seems to be a better time to set down aspirations for the coming year... so...

In the coming year, much activity among SoPo bloggers will be focused on the build-up to PRU13. Some may wonder whether this is not already the case, but I can confirm it is not. Whilst many of the SoPo community held the belief that PRU13 would be held late this year, with the date 11.11.11 looming large, the more significant participants have always found grounds for an early elections rather weak... and DS Najib Tun Razak has shown he is far from a fool...

Recent intelligence indicate that PRU13 may well be held much later than the second favourite estimated date of March 2012. Nevertheless, the timing for full focus towards PRU13 build-up is now. So this blogger has to decide, of the myriad activities in hand, be it blogging, MAYC, politicking via UMNO and its NGOs, what should be the focus of activities besides continuing to build on a promising career and matters of family?

Well, since the status of MAYC is much in limbo due variously to the ineptitude, corruption and cowardice of those that should be addressing the issue, we are pretty much now running on 'automatic', developing our programs. Time spent at MAYC will hence not be all consuming. Politicking via UMNO and its NGOs have become and increasing waste of time... there is much talk but little product...

So one returns to blogging of one of the most rewarding activities I have embarked in over the last 10-15 years - originally due to my lack of physical presence in Malaysia, but now it seems as platform, blogging remains the most free for one to achieve in one's own terms. But the focus should be of more interest of course. One feels a need to return to the original Tangents where there was more study and philisophy...

Of course, there will still be passion in these pages...


Monday, August 22, 2011

Reducing Cost Of Living Without Subsidies

I was pleased to hear today of the government's intention to expand the Kedai 1Malaysia chain when announcing the opening of a 3rd outlet in Pantai Dalam. The most recent opening should answer the challenge of detractors on whether such a chain is just a publicity stunt or gymic by the government or whether the attempt is a genuine effort to allow the rakyat to purchase necessities at a more affordable price.

What further impressed me with this initiative is that it is another indication of the government's serious effort to move away from having subsidies as a key component of the country's economic make-up. How so? With the Kedai 1Malaysia, given a sufficient number of stores in time such as it has pricing strength, the government will be able to influence a downward movement of the price of necessities, not through subsidies but direct pricing in the market!

Some of the theory of the above will require further elaboration of course, but for now, I would say the government is not simply determined but is actively pursuing a policy of pro-active substitution of subsidies with mechanisms to achieve the same aims; i.e. rather than keeping the cost of necessities like sugar and rice low by subsidies or direct price controls, using market mechanisms such as alternative competitive offerings to the market via the Kedai 1Malaysia.

What's particularly attractive about these non-subsidies mechanisms are that they are less distortionary and less open to abuse! For instance, the subsidies recently rescinded for certain industries, such as the deep-sea fishing sector, for the purchase of diesel, was always open to allegations of abuse, such as diesel smuggling. Allegations seemingly supported by how fish prices continue to rise despite these wealthy big-boated 'fishermen' being subsidised.

One can also reflect on how whilst price controls kept sugar prices low for many decades, it also enriched many who built monopolies around sugar and other controlled goods. A rich example would be Tan Sri Robert Kuok and his family empire, as he was dubbed the 'Sugar-King' for good reason, he made a sizable fortune from dominating the subsidised sugar business in Malaysia! It is also no mystery now then why he is no longer in the sugar business in Malaysia.

TS Robert, being a shrewd businessman, probably saw the need to remove sugar subsidies well before the good Minister of Domestic Trade, Consumer Affairs and Cooperatives, DS Ismail Sabri, successfully suppressed the once large subsidies handed out to sugar producers in Malaysia! I imagine the P&L* of all those in the Sugar business was of great interest to the Minister! And now from that success, DS Ismail is moving on to other successes.

Malaysians having been living in the honey-pot of a subsidy-nation may be a little too addicted to subsidies, but perhaps they would feel less angry about subsidies removal if they realised how many people have become filthy rich in Malaysia on the back of such subsidies. It makes one question, who really does benefit from subsidies? At least in the case of Mydin, who run the Kedai 1Malaysia, they may benefit from the program, but the rakyat don't pay for it!

*P&L - Profit & Loss Account

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How Is Ayah?

Last Friday, I received a call from my father-in-law. He was asking about how Ayah was doing and was moved to do so as many of his friends had been asking him at the mosque after prayers. Worse still, some of Ayah's friends were asking and complaining that they couldn't get an update even from this blog!

Truth be told, Ayah sprung a surprise on me last Wednesday when he did not tell us he was being discharged from the hospital that day. For my siblings, news on this spread fast enough, but as I was occupied with work and the MAYC Buka Puasa event with Tun Dr Mahathir, I only just got to know from Ayah's friends among the MAYC Veterans who had tried to see him at the hospital in the afternoon only to find that he had checked out!

So, to all who have been following this blog for news of Ayah's progress, my humblest apologies. For your information, Ayah has been discharged from SJMC and is convalescing at home. He still needs much rest, and advice not just from his doctors, but THE Doctor, Tun Dr Mahathir, who reminded me as such on the same Wednesday Ayah was discharged. Those who wish to visit may sms his mobile (probably being sentried by my Nyanyak) or contact me.

I also would like to take this opportunity to thank the dedicated Doctors and staff at SJMC, or now known as Sime Darby Medical Centre at Subang Jaya for their tireless effort for which Allah S.W.T. has seen fit for us to have a further time extension to spend with Ayah. I reserve special mention for Dato' Setia Dr Anuar Masduki whose dedication, wisdom and sheer persistence dragged Ayah from edge of the abyss when those of us who knew suspected all may be lost...

As a family, we are ever grateful to Datuk Dr Anwar, his collegues and the staff of SJMC and thank them for their continued patience in managing the non-ideality presented by my Ayah's treatment and our family's managing of the situation.

Finally, thank you also to family, from Jakarta, Acheh, Subang Jaya and Yan, Ayah's friends spanning from Sweden, Medan, Port Dickson, Langkawi, Gombak to the Middle East, friends of us siblings, as well as total strangers who remembered Ayah's deeds well enough to gift him with at least the Doa so Allah S.W.T. may consider us worthy of having Ayah for a little more time. Your real and spiritual support, especially for those who came to be with us, we hold dear.

Some mention is due also to friends in both traditional and new media for carrying the news we wished carried... for the most part! We know it was not all ideal and forgive any minor failings due to the good that your efforts have brought outweighing the bad.

As to what happens now, we will be seeking further advice from Dato' Dr Anwar when Ayah has healed sufficiently. The rest will be in Allah's hands...

Monday, August 01, 2011

Ayah No Longer Under Critical Care As Ramadhan Begins

I received the wonderful news yesterday that Ayah has recovered enough that he no longer needs to be under critical care. However, he still needs much rest, hence, guests will still need to be patient when visiting as my Nyak will not likely allow more than a couple of guests in at a time and only over short periods when Ayah is not resting. Ayah not only has to rest to his Doctors' orders but to Tun Dr M's advice.

Ramadhan is upon it and it is our sincere hope that Ayah regains his full strength within this holy month, as it will allow us also to enjoy Hari Raya celebrating his health as well as the conclusion of our obligations to fast, give alms and perform other good works. Ramadhan also provides me with the opportunity to really reduce my weight and hopefully avoid the troubles Ayah has been facing, or at least delay its onset...

I am in Sandakan today working, in Kuching tomorrow and will fly into more meetings in KL on Thursday, all events on these 3 days ending in a Majlis Berbuka Puasa! It will be a challenge not to stuff myself at buka puasa, but a worthy challenge I'm sure you'll agree. So Selamat Berpuasa to all Muslims out there and remember what Ramadhan is all about please when confronted by the buffet table...

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