Friday, September 26, 2008

2nd Month in Abu Dhabi

Playing badminton in one of the courts at Abu Dhabi

Emirates Driving Company where all driving lesson and test are conducted.

Have spent more than 2 months now in Abu Dhabi and still haven’t seen any rain yet.
However the weather has improved greatly and it is now 38 degree, about Malaysian weather. Not only rain I have yet to see any dogs running around, very unusual in Malaysia. Managed to play badminton here with my colleague and a group of Malaysian at one of the badminton hall at an international school at AD. Played on Wednesday and Sunday night same day as I played in KL.The hall is fully air-conditioned with 4 courts and is also equipped with free water dispenser.

To obtain a local driving license in UAE is not as simple as in Malaysia. It is not only costly but time consuming. Registered for my license early this month at the Emirates Driving Company at Mussafah which is about 20 minutes ride from AD. You need to get your Malaysian license translated first and get endorsement from the Malaysian embassy here. Then you need to pass your eye test before you are allowed to open a file. After this process you will have to attend for the theory class lesson which is spread over 4 days of 2 hours per day.

When you have attended all the 4 days lessons you have to pass the theory test before you are allowed to go for the road test. For all these you have to pay AED20 for the eyes test, AED100 for opening the file and AED780 for the theory class. I have passed the theory test and will be going for the road test next month. Then you need to pay for the license which is about AED250 but is valid for 10 years.

Surprising road drivers in UAE drive faster than KL drivers, maybe due to the wider roads over here.Ocassionally you can witness emergency brake at the traffic lights junctions. They like to speed and then suddenly apply their brake; very uncommon in KL.Parking is another problem in the Emirates due to limited parking space. Most of the cars parked haphazardly like in KL.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Teresa Kok Freed: From Malaysiakini

DAP Seputeh MP Teresa Kok was released unconditionally at 1pm today, after being held under the Internal Security Act for seven days.

Kok, 43, walked out from the Jalan Travers police station at 1.40pm, accompanied by her lawyer Sankara Nair and her personal aide, Mandy Ooi.She was greeted by her visibly elated parents.Kok was immediately hugged by her 71-year-old mother, Poon Seh Kwon, who gave her daughter a bunch of white and pink roses.

I don't know what I've got into... I don't know what is the real reason (that) caused me to (be) put behind bars for one week," she told journalists as she left the police station.
Kok, who is also the Selangor state executive council member, expressed that she was still slightly shaken but glad that she was released."(There is) no reason at all to put me under ISA... What have I done? What have I said?" she asked.
During the whole one week, they didn't show any proof or evidence to show that I made statements that have caused racial and religious tension."The parliamentarian said that she felt like "fool" when she was incarcerated not knowing the grounds for her arrest.

When asked the reason for her release, Kok said, "I don't know... I don't know why I was charged... Of course, they have to release me; they find no case against me."Kok thanked all those who had campaigned for her release including those from the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, such as "her friend" Zaid Ibrahim who had resigned as the de facto law minister following her arrest.
Deputy inspector-general of police Ismail Omar said that Kok was released after investigations showed that there was no reason to detain her any further.Kok held a press conference two hours later at the DAP headquarters in Petaling Jaya.

‘Honey, I'm home; I've had a hard day'Minutes after the IT-savvy and affable politician was released, she updated her social networking Facebook account.

At 1.35pm, she posted an entry in her Facebook saying, "Teresa sings ‘Honey, I'm home, I've had a hard day, pour me a cold one da da da...", which immediately attracted comments welcoming her release.DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang also appeared to be surprised by Kok's early release.

Lim wrote in his blog that he received a phone call with the caller identification ‘Teresa' at 12.56pm while he was having lunch in Ipoh, Perak and he had wondered who was using the MP's mobile phone."But it was her on the line and I wondered how she wangled the use of her phone while in detention. But no, she did no such improper thing. She told me that she was being released

Bravo. The irresistible pressures for her unjust and undemocratic detention had succeeded," wrote Lim, who is also the Ipoh Timor MP.Last Friday, Kok was arrested under Section 73(1) of the ISA at 11.18pm, allegedly for sparking religious and racial tension ostensibly for her role in an Islamic matter.She was arrested on the same day with controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin and Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng, who was however released after 18 hours.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Start of the End?

The current political situation in Malaysia is causing real economic uncertainty in the country with the KLCI on Bursa Malaysia plunged 36.25 points to 966.74 points as at 11:40am today...

This the full report from Wall Street Journal Asia....

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced this week that he has enough parliamentary support to unseat the current government, led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. If he does, Abdullah's lacklustre economic management will be largely to blame.

The prime minister has not introduced any substantive reforms during his nearly five years in office, preferring to rely instead on opening up the government purse. Under the Ninth Malaysia Plan announced in 2005, he expanded public-sector spending to RM200 billion annually from RM160 billion. In his Midterm Plan Review this year, he increased this outlay to RM240 billion. The national debt now stands at RM285 billion, up from RM192 billion in 2004. The official fiscal deficit has risen to 4.8% of GDP this year, from 3.2% last year. Revenue is being spent faster than it is coming in.

It's hard to argue that these outlays have served the broad public interest. Much of the funding has been channelled to elites in the majority Malay community, under the country's pro-Malay affirmation action programme. That has created discontent with many Malay who don't see the full benefits of the programme, and among the minority Chinese and Indians, who are excluded from it altogether.

Abdullah's stewardship has had a real impact on the economy. Capital flight has risen sharply; Malaysian investment abroad now exceeds inward foreign investment. The Kuala Lumpur stock exchange has lost almost one-fifth of its value this year to date. Malaysia's currency, the ringgit, saw its biggest one-month loss last month since the end of the dollar peg in 2005. Although GDP growth has averaged a robust 5% annual growth under Abdullah, that record is now under threat. Inflation reached a record 8.5% this summer. Job creation has reached record lows, as unemployment, particularly among young majority Malays, remains high. Ironically, only the opposition-led state governments are attracting new foreign investment — and without the federal government's help, no less.

Abdullah's 2004 attempts to promote growth and investment — such as through the promotion of the biotechnology and agricultural industries — have failed. He also fumbled discussions with the United States on a free trade agreement, which have now stalled. What Malaysia really needs is education reform and the liberalisation of its labour markets to improve its economic competitiveness.

The political opposition, in the form of Anwar and his Pakatan Rakyat coalition, have seized on these issues. They have promised to root out corruption and to implement a new economic policy to address the concerns of all ethnic communities in Malaysia. Their platform aims to move beyond populist spending to introduce structural reforms in government procurement programmes and in the management of government-linked companies.When Abdullah assumed office in 2004, he inherited an economy in need of structural reform. Malaysians have had to pay for his poor stewardship through higher prices, stagnating wages and growing private sector debt. Soon, Abdullah may have to pay the political price for that record.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Our MP won't learn anything in Taiwan : Feedback from Malaysiakini readers

Zi-Zenn: Why are we suddenly sending 49 MPs for a study tour to Taiwan of all places? Are they going to study first hand how the ex-president squandered and laundered the nation’s money? Don’t they have more sensible things to do? Or have they forgotten their pledge to serve the rakyat?
This is an incredible move on the part of our seemingly mentally unstable if not near insane government. It’s the magnitude of inaptitude compounded by sheer propensity that is simply beyond comprehension.
The whole government machinery seems to be collapsing. While the people hunger for solutions to the soaring inflation and worsening unemployment, their elected representatives choose to fly away en bloc on public expense.
Is ours a despotic or deranged nation? All signs point to a resounding ‘yes’.

Arianna: Carrots await BN MPs on Taiwan agri tour’. That should have been the headlines. And if the Anti-Corruption Agency has any brains, it should start investigations into this so-called study tour. Any way one looks at it, it smells rotten.
The majority of us may not be products of Oxford but even a farmer can see the ruse behind the intent. No matter what Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and his deputy, Najib Tun Razak say about the trip, Malaysians know it was done to foil Anwar Ibrahim's September 16 plan to form a new federal government.
Never mind Sept 16. I want to know where the money for the trip came from. It has corruption written all over it.
Don’t talk to me, a Sabahan, about democracy and respecting the mandate of the people. You Umno and BN, yes, I am talking to you. Did you not set the precedent way back in 1994 in Sabah? Remember the coup d'etat? We in Sabah did not give the mandate to BN to form the state government but the Umno-led BN staged a coup d'etat that forced then opposition Parti Bersatu Sabah out of office.
But lo and behold, what goes around comes around. Now you Umno/BN leaders, know exactly how we, the rakyat, felt when you ignored our mandate, lured some unprincipled and mercenary MPs so that you could rule Sabah.
Now, it's your turn to cry.

Tim Finian: Bon voyage Bung. There's always a possibility of returning to find that your country has changed hands and you are without a job.
So, if I were you, I'd keep a level head with my feet planted firmly on the ground and not enjoy myself too much. You never know what's in store.
ChanCK: A lot of events happening these days are very coincidental.
Do we need 49 ministers to learn agriculture technology at this time? Since this is an agriculture boot camp, shouldn’t our agriculture minister and his deputy minister go on the trip, along with a handful of agriculture officers? This would have been cheaper than sending 49 ministers.
Furthermore, are the other 47 ministers so free as to attend this great agriculture boot camp? Haven’t they got more important things to attend to at their own ministries ?

JTB: A study trip to educate our members of parliament is certainly a good idea. Okay, so you have detractors saying that Barisan National is so afraid of its MPs crossing over to Pakatan Rakyaat that it is taking them out of the country. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that BN has been spooked by Anwar Ibrahim.
However, that is not my point. I am disappointed with the insensitivity of Tiong King Sing, the chairman of the Backbenchers Club. I find it highly offensive that Tiong has not taken into account that it is the month of Ramadan and most of our Umno Muslim members of parliament are supposed to be fasting. This is an appropriate time for them to contemplate and reflect on their deeds, not go gallivanting overseas.
Tiong is an East Malaysian and I do not know if he realises that Sept 16 is Malaysia Day, when Sabah and Sarawak joined the Federation. Tiong, do you not think this is a valid reason for you to be with your fellow rakyat in East Malaysia to commemorate this event instead of being a tour leader in Taiwan?
From your actions, it seems that you subscribe to the BN notion that Malaysia Day is not that important. If that is the case, say so, get out of East Malaysia and move to West Malaysia.

YUMCIOUS: Of all places in the world, why Taiwan? If you really want to learn agriculture, you should visit Israel and see how they manage to cultivate great products under the most hostile environment on earth. Oh wait, we have no diplomatic relations with the Zionists.
Perhaps these 49 MPs are there also to visit their Legislative Yuan to learn how to throw punches and have cat-fights? Isn’t that what Taiwanese representatives are famous for? Oh wait, we have no official diplomatic relations with the Taiwanese either.
Oh, I give up.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ramadan in Abu Dhabi

It is the first week of the holy month of Ramadan and I have spent almost 2 months in Abu Dhabi. The heat of the summer is gradually dropping to 41 degree. Observing the Ramadan month in the Emirates is different from Malaysia. All the food outlets are closed during this holy month. Non Muslims are strictly not allowed to eat in the public. We took our lunch at a designated room in the office.

Working hour at the construction site also change to observe the Ramadan month. There are 2 shifts. Morning shift is from 7am to 1pm and night shift from 8pm to 2pm.There is no site activity from 1pm to 8pm.Muslim staff at our office goes off at 3pm.

There are so many free things in Abu Dhabi. Water and electricity supply to the Emiratis are free. Bus service and parking is also free to the public and there is no Income Tax over here. It is really shameful to know that with so much oil in Malaysia, we are still struggling with budget deficit ever year and nothing is free in Malaysia.

Last weekend ( Weekend over here is Friday ) went to Marina Mall with Yong.Took the free bus service from my place to the shopping mall which is located about 5km away. The French hypermarket Carrefour and Ikea are located at the mall. Only Carrefour is open during the Ramadan, Ikea will open only at 8pm.There is also a Cineplex at the mall and cinema ticket is priced at 30 dirham each which is about RM27.