Saturday, March 31, 2012

Investment Choices: Kids' Activities! 1Malaysia Too!

Chess weekends coming fast and furious over the weekends of April, beginning yesterday as March closes actually! My two elder sons r on the final Swiss round of the KL Scholastic where a lower turnout than expected by organisers is compensated by the appearance of some 40% of 'new faces'!

No surprise that numbers of circuit 'regulars' are down as mothers and even kids reprioritise. My son's regular sparring partner had to go to Maths tuition after weeks of missing and even my daughter had to favour Tunas Puteri this weekend in order to get her 'Calit Emas'.

A few observations here. One is on how parents will see the choices to invest their own and their kids' time presenting increased challenges over time. Sure, if a child displays extraordinary talent, choices become obvious, but for the common parent, it is the toil, time and money that will help grow their child's abilities.

One would also think that choices favouring academics are also obvious, but really, they are not always so. Lets say your child has a chance to become a state player then perhaps even play internationally, many parents would allow the skipping of classes and tuition surely.

Another observation today was how 1Malaysia the Chess tourney looked. Having been used to a Chess field being so predominated by Chinese players, it seemed that a more 1Malaysia mix seen at the venue, ironically being Asrama 1Malaysia at Titiwangsa. A slightly Chinese majority still, but a better mix.

Photo is taken using Paper Pictures app. Cool huh?

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Third Force Arises In Malaysian Politics

I have been speaking with many, again, about the possibility of a 'Third Force' arising in Malaysian politics, but with little personal conviction. Tonight I see such a force actually coming together as a culmination of the dedicated effort of 2 friends with a smile.

Perhaps what we need is a different view as to what constitutes such a 'Third Force'. Tonight we see it bring together a political legend and a new generation of those who care in both old and new media. Tonight, Teh Tarik Bersama YB comes of age...

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Monday, March 26, 2012

24 Hours In Kuching; Food, Work And Politics Abound!

I was in Kuching on a slightly more than 24 hour visit on company business last week. One great thing about being in the Retail business is the food culture that you could immerse yourself in as part of work! Actually, anytime also can makan la, but the obese need excuses...

The above green house, known literally as Rumah Hijau, is a Cafe where we had lunch at, enjoying a nasi lemak Ayam Penyek, followed by Roti Pisang Coklat, hence having a taste of both Malay and Neo-Indian cuisine in Kuching. l already had my Laksa Sarawak fix for Breakfast and was 'forced' to enjoy a variety of barbecued meats at the Carvery at Abel Hotel the night before! I was well and assuredly stuffed even before the seafood dinner (with sayur bilin) that was my send off!

In the midst of all this food, and of course quite a bit of work, I did discover that TMI's Jahabar Sadiq was also wrong in his shortlist of items troubling DS Najib Tun Razak into postponing PRU13. He forgot the Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud departure, or rather continued hold on power, issue! This is very much in the forefront of many Sarawakian minds and with the 'fixed deposit' potentially already 8 Parliamentary seats short, should this not be a worry?

(Actually, I was also surprised that Jahabar's list was so short with 5 items... and with one item being not too important really to the common electorate. Perhaps further evidence of his writting being conjecture more than insider!)
One would have hoped with his 'Besan' or In-Law, Tan Sri George Chan's departure from the leadership of the Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) that PS Taib would busy planning a cruise with his old school-chum. Unfortunately, PS Taib is instead rumoured to have been meddling in the SUPP elections, not favouring current President DS Peter Chin, and then rumpured to be active in 'other ways' too. Maybe it's the new wife?

Anyway, it was a good, fruitful, 24 hour trip... 

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

The KL And Malaysian Chess Community

This blogger is on the morning shift today with kids at the regular Insofar meet in KL. The system is cool in that it pits players across all ages whilst awarding prizes by age and other groups. It also has a scheme to encourage kids to continue tournament play with a 'scholarship' that pays for playing beyond a first few tourneys.

But what moved me to blog on today wasn't the program but my joy at seeing my kids joining the vibrant community of Chess players in the country. Whilst still very much centred around their school, they have progressively become tournament regulars around KL, such that even my standard 2 boy was familiarly greeted by an adult upon registration.

The space for growth of Chess has transcended beyond the schools system and the formal Youth & Sports Ministry setup, with enthusiasts and players finding interested sponsors for significant events. Nevertheless, a common thread of quality and merit unites the community, as games translate to where one sits in the national ranking.

It is amazing how much can go wrong with a sport in Malaysia. Our underperforming football team, such that recent regional successes were inordinately celebrated, and now troublingly shallow pool of successors to Datuk LCW are the more obvious examples. However, with Chess, I at least see value in the community keeping the game as it should be in Malaysia.

Pairings' out!

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Malaysia Youth Empowered By Tsunami In Japan

Alhamdulillah, my short piece on MAYC Global Relief's efforts in Ishinomaki last October was published in Utusan Malaysia on Thursday with relatively minor truncations for brevity, which nevertheless did deliver the majority of the message intended. I am hence posting my full submission below as much for the record as to ensure the entire message does appear in some media in complete form; e.g. one of the quotes was from a non-Malay participant of the team, which showcases MAYC as still being 1Malaysia in nature.

Antara tanggungjawab utama mana-mana pemimpin organisasi belia adalah melaksanakan program membina jati-diri, mengasuh nilai-nilai murni seperti budipekerti dan mendedahkan golongan muda kepada ilmu serta pengalaman yang tak dapat dikecapi dengan usaha peribadi.

Pada 16 October tahun lepas, 20 belia sukarelawan dari kelab-kelab gabungan MAYC seluruh negara telah ke Jepun untuk menyertai kerja-kerja pemulihan pasca tsunami yang melanda pesisir Timur Laut pulau Honshu pada 11 March 2011. Pemergian mereka ke Jepun selama 10 hari adalah hasil kerjasama MAYC Global Relief bersama rakan NGO kami di Jepun, Peace Boat.

Sepanjang masa di Jepun, para sukarelawan Malaysia bertindak bukan sekadar tenaga-kerja tugas pemulihan, tetapi juga secara langsung mengharumkan nama baik negara sambil menaikkan semangat para penduduk setempat yang melihat golongan belia dari negara asing pun sedia berganding bahu membantu mereka dalam usaha baik-pulih, walau 7 bulan sudah berlalu sejak bencana melanda.

Kenapa MAYC Global Relief Ke Jepun

Bencana kekadang melanda di setiap penjuru dunia dan lazimnya, sukarelawan dari Malaysia menumpukan usaha dan sumbangan pemulihan ke negara-negara membangun atau serantau. Contohnya, apabila berlaku tsunami di Acheh, Indonesia dan bencana banjir di Thailand, sukarelawan Malaysia dilaung sebagai antara kumpulan sukarelawan dari luar negara bencana yang pertama sampai serta terserlah keikhlasan menyumbang dalam usaha pemulihan.

Namun MAYC Global Relief memilih untuk menghantar sukarelawan ke Jepun, sebuah negara yang lebih maju dari segi teknologi mahupun ekonominya berbanding negara kita. Sebagai pemimpin belia, ini kami laksanakan atas dasar memupuk nilai membalas budi dengan mengirim tenaga-kerja seberapa mampu kepada sebuah negara dan masyarakat yang amnya telah banyak menyumbang kepada pembangunan negara kita dari sejak Malaya merdeka lagi.

Kebetulan juga, negara Jepun sebagai sebuah negara yang kaya serta maju teknologinya, walaupun ditimpa bencana, ia tidak memerlukan apa-apa sumbangan peralatan mahupun kewangan untuk membaik-pulih kawasan yang dilanda tsunami. Malah, jemputan untuk melabur ke kawasan tersebut yang dilaporkan mediamasa tempohari juga lebih untuk mempercepatkan pembangunan semula. Tetapi apa mereka benar-benar kekurangan adalah tenaga-kerja belia untuk melaksanakan kerja-kerja yang sudah pun dikenal-pasti.

Sesungguhnya kepada warga MAYC, sumbangan negara-bangsa Jepun menjangkau lebih dari apa yang dikecapi oleh rakyat Malaysia amnya hasil dari pelaburan ekonomi mahupun perpindahan teknologi dari syarikat-syarikat terkemuka negara tersebut. Sejak mantan Naib Presiden MAYC, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, mengemukakan Dasar Pandang Ke Timur sebagai salah satu dasar pembangunan negara, MAYC telah menerapkan nilai Bushido kepada ahli-ahlinya melalui pendekatan MENJAROH.

MENJAROH, atau pendekatan MENtal, JAsad dan ROH, menerapkan ciri-ciri Amanah, Berani, Disiplin, Rajin serta Setia dalam program-program belia yang merangkumi aspek-aspek politik, ekonomi dan masyarakat. Ke lima-lima ciri ini seiras dengan pembawaan Bushido yang diterapkan ke seluruh masyarakat Jepun dari zaman, pra-Sengoku Jidai, yakni hampir 10 abad yang lepas, hinggalah ke sekarang, menerusi prinsip-prinsip koprat syarikat-syarikat gergasi seperti Mitsubishi, Mitsui, Sumitomo dan sebagainya.

Maka budi yang dibalas oleh para sukarelawan MAYC Global Relief di kawasan tsunami adalah dari jasa penerapan nilai jati-diri organisasi belia kami sendiri sepanjang lebih 3 dekad lamanya. Pada masa yang sama, ia juga memberikan peluang atau jalancara baru untuk golongan belia Malaysia merapatkan silaturahim dengan para belia Jepun. Sesungguhnya hubungan yang terjalin hasil bantuan pada masa mereka kesusahan kami harap akan menghasilkan talian yang utuh buat usaha jangkamasa panjang.

Mengejar Ilmu, Menyelami Budaya

Manfaat tambahan yang juga dikecapi oleh sukarelawan ke Ishinomaki, Jepun tersebut adalah ilmu dalam bidang penyelenggaraan sukarela serta baik-pulih bencana. Walau tempoh mereka ke sana hanyalah beberapa hari, ilmu yang ditimba dengan penyertaan dalam misi pertama ini sudah pun kami mula terapkan dalam rencana pembangunan organisasi MAYC Global Relief, termasuklah perancangan misi kedua kami ke sana yang dirancang untuk penghujung bulan April atau awal Mei tahun ini.

Selain itu, kebetulan kerja-kerja pemulihan ekonomi yang melibatkan sukarelawan mendedahkan mereka kepada pengalaman yang tak mungkin dialami di negara sendiri. Contohnya, sukarelawan di Ishinomaki telah ditugaskan untuk membantu masyarakat nelayan mempercepatkan process penyemaian tiram-tiram di pesisir pantai. Tugasan tersebut bukanlah ringan kerana cabaran fizikal, termasuklah menahan dari kesejukan yang tak lazim dirasai di Malaysia. Namun sukarelawan bersemangat hasil dari pengalaman baru yang dikecapi.

Sukarelawan juga dipupuk dengan budaya-kerja Jepun yang berdisiplin tanpa mengira tugasan mahupun jawatan. Menurut saudara Vimal, seorang sukarelawan beragama Hindu yang terlepas sambutan awal hari Deepavali akibat menyeratai misi tersebut,"Deepavali kita dapat raikan setiap tahun, tahun-tahun sebelum ini dan tahun-tahun kemudian pun dapat saya alami semula, tetapi pengalaman bersukarela ke Ishinomaki seperti ini mungkin sekali seumur hidup dapat peluang untuk dirasai."

Misi Kedua

Maklum-balas seperti ini dari para sukarelawan berserta dengan penghargaan yang kami terima dari rakan NGO Peace Boat telah memperkukuhkan azam kami di MAYC Global Relief untuk memberikan peluang kedua bagi para sukarelawan belia untuk menyertai usaha baik-pulih sekali lagi. Ini sebahagian dari rencana jangkamasa panjang MAYC Global Relief untuk membina organisasi yang menawarkan pengalaman bersukarela yang berlainan bagi golongan belia.

Menurut Ketua Misi Pertama, saudara Saiful Anuar Baig,"Sebagai sukarelawan, MAYC Global Relief menggunakan pendekatan berlainan yakni pergi membantu selepas keadaan bencana sudah reda, tetapi masih ada lagi keperluan bantuan tenaga-kerja belia untuk memulihkan kembali kawasan yang terjejas. Ini juga memberi peluang sukarelawan kami menimba ilmu dan pengalaman yang boleh dibawa pulang seperti proses mengkitar semula sisa bencana tsunami yang diamalkan di Jepun."

Seperti juga Misi Pertama, kejayaannya hanyalah boleh dicapai dengan bantuan para penaja koprat dari Malaysia seperti CIMB Islamic dan kumpulan Dynac bersama-sama organisasi-organisasi Jepun seperti Peace Boat serta Kumon. Adalah menjadi harapan kami untuk menjalin hubungan jangkamasa panjang juga dengan para penaja yang sedia-ada, mahupun yang baru, untuk terus menjayakan lagi program-program kami, bermula dengan Misi Kedua ke kawasan tsunami Jepun.

Segala usaha kami sebagai pemimpin belia adalah untuk membina jati-diri anak-anak muda yang merupakan masa depan negara. Walau tsunami amnya membinasakan, di Jepun kami harap pengalaman menyeratai kerja baik-pulih pasca tsunami ini melambung nilai kualiti dan taraf anak-anak muda kita ke tahap yang setanding dengan mana-mana kumpulan belia di peringkat global.

Akhramsyah Muammar Ubaidah bin Tan Sri Sanusi
Pengerusi, MAYC Global Relief

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Macam Mana Nak Terbang Kalau Sayap Cacat

Dalam masa kehangatan pertandingan pemilihan UMNO 2008, Tan Sri Tunku Ahmad Rithaudeen telah mencadangkan agar sayap Pemuda dan Puteri UMNO dibubarkan kerana pada hemah beliau, kelemahan akibat rasuah pada UMNO berputik dari pertandingan jawatan kedua-dua sayap ini. Bidasan kembali yang sering jurublog dengari dari para perwakilan Pemuda pada masa itu adalah,"Kalau tak dak sayap, macam mana nak terbang?"

Alhamdulillah, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil bakal berundur dari jawatan Menteri sejurus tamat tempoh senator beliau. Namun saya rasa kecewa yang beliau merasakan ini suatu kompromi yang adil bagi membolehkannya kekal sebagai Ketua Wanita UMNO. Mana boleh macam ni. Kedudukan beliau sekarang begitu cacat sekali sebagai pemimpin yang sedia menggunakan pentas parti serta kerajaan untuk mempertahankan kecacatan moral suaminya dalam pengendalian amanah dana RM250 Juta NFC.

Datuk Seri Shahrizat, sebagai seorang pemimpin yang antara paling kanan dalam parti, seharusnya sedia mengorbankan nyawa politiknya demi masa depan parti, bukan mencari jalan untuk terus hidup di tampuk kuasa sementara sayap Wanita parti terus tercacat sama nama baiknya atas kehadiran beliau yang berterusan sebagai Ketua! Kesediaan beliau melakukan demikianlah baru akan memulihkan balik nama baiknya sendiri dan membantu memperbaiki kredibiliti parti UMNO serta BN menjelang PRU13.

Datuk Seri Shahrizat tak perlu menenung jauh. Lihat sahaja sayap Pemuda yang masih lagi dibebani seorang Ketua perasuah. Walaupun KJ dan para penyokongnya kelihatan begitu giat memulihkan namanya, namun pemantauan terkini yang diarahkan oleh beliau sendiri menunjukkan ahli-ahli Pemuda pun masih sangsi dan kemungkinan besar akan memilih tokoh lain untuk memilih Pemuda di masa hadapan. Walau KJ berkorban untuk menjadi contoh dengan menyertai Wataniah sekalipun, ditertawakan sebagai 'main askar'!

Apatah lagi rakyat luar yang hauskan bukti tegar kredibiliti UMNO dan Barisan Nasional untuk memunahkan rasuah dari perjalanan kerja kerajaan?

Datuk Seri Shahrizat patut berundur juga dari semua jawatan parti demi masa depan sayap Wanita dan juga nama baik keluarganya sendiri. Mungkin dengan pengunduran beliau, ia akan memberi iktibar kepada penyokong kuatnya KJ juga untuk mengundur diri. Kerana sesungguhnya, kalau ada sayap pun, kiranya cacat, bukan sedar tak boleh terbang, berat nak diusung sayap kesini-sana, dan kiranya melarat, berpenyakit sehingga ke badan parti pula. 

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Why PRU13 Is Likelier After Hari Raya Haji Rather Than Before Puasa

Pakatan Rakyat is in a mess. Not only is the coallition still reeling from the 9 January court decision in favour of DS Anwar Ibrahim, scuttling their plans to politically 'martyr' Anwar and replace him with a 'new' leader to lead them to glory, but the component parties are themselves facing internal rifts, most recently afflicting PAS in Kedah.

One would think, and many do, with the government roll-out of populist plans hitting high gear and the uncertainties of the world economy potentialy hitting Malaysia hard in the second half of the year that PRU13 is drawing near. With the natural aversion of number 4 adopted form the Chinese, May and June are running neck-and-neck for favourite PRU13 month.

However, this blogger takes a different view. An analysis of Pakatan woes and recent government populism or even globe-trotting economic scenarios should not be the pre-occupation of DS Najib Tun Razak and his various advisors on this matter. For as PRU12 shows us, BN's electoral performance would depend far more on its own electability as opposed to any other externality.

And this problem for BN is, whilst far from intractible, is not nearly nearing resolution due to specific incidents, a tendency to dodge difficult, politically precarious decisions and continued excess in respecting form over substance.

This blogger could easily pluck examples related to the handling of the MAYC issue (still unresolved despite pronouncements to the contrary on RTM at the end of last year) or other youth related issues. However, this is not even the easiest of actions that DS Najib could take to correct public perception over BN's continued credibility to govern... not that I said CREDIBILITY not CAPABILITY which on the balance most would still agree they have.

The question most on the lips of the electorate today, after the 'when are the elections' question, is "When is Shahrizat getting sacked!?" The exclamation mark, red and larger fonts are not for simple text emphasis only, but more often than not, this is also a reflection of the emotion behind the question.

Imagine the scenario, whereby hundreds of millions of ringgit of the rakyat's money was handed over to the husband of a sitting minister to deliver a national program. Not so bad as this has been done before in other countries, with some outcry, that is typically quitenned down when the sitting minister's husband, or wife, ACTUALLY DELIVERS WHAT WAS INTENDED TO BENEFIT THE RAKYAT.

However, in this case, the husband not only FAILS in the delivery, of all things, cows, or at least the meat off cows to the market. The husband blames everyone for his failure but himself, and to compound matters, he is found to have been buying condos with the money instead! And to add, the husband HAS BEEN APPOINTING HIS CHILDREN TO THE COMPANY!

All is still fine with the minister at this point. She could condemn her husband, distance herself from the act, even focus on saving her children, but no... SHE DEFENDS HER HUSBAND'S ACTIONS?! On a national platform, the party's annual convention! Sorry, is this not morally compromising enough and sufficient grounds for Shahrizat to be sacked?! She isn't even an MP, so where is the risk, really, vs. the significant benefit of gaining credibility?

And to add icing to the cake, KJ has been supporting Shahrizat, making people ask the question, why? Is he on the take too? How? As of course KJ's credibility is so low that anything he does is seen with circumspection, typically accompanied with not small measure of derision!

Until DS Najib and his team get big decisions like sacking a minister that is clearly morally compromised in the public eye right, BN is better off putting of PRU13, unless of course he is happy with repeating Pak Lah's feat of gaining a simple majority win. But of course, only a 2/3 majority will satisfy all that BN has regained its credibility with the rakyat, rather than just being grudgingly lived with for its capability.

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