The armless pianist won the talent show

In AUgust, I posted a youtube video showing Liu Wei an armless pianist using his feet to play piano in the earlier rounds of China Got Talents.

Well, guess who has won that talent show ?

Yes, you guess right. The armless pianist (or foot pianist) Liu Wei won, and deservedly, the winning pisece he played is “You are Beautiful”.

I will post the video below:


I will also post another video here from CHina Got talent. This video shows a guest , none other than the British Got Talents winner few years ago Paul Potts (the mobile phone salesman previously and now a celebrity). In this video , Paul Potts sings a Mandarin song:


Robbing Peter to pay Paul

Talking to a sales representative and he was happy that there would be no Plus toll increase for 5 years.

For those who use the NS Highway frequently, it is indeed good news. But for those of us who do not use it often, but are taxpayers, it is actually not such good deal.

For the deferred increase in toll, government has to foot compensation about 5 billions , whcih is from  tax payers’ money.  For those earning less than 2000 a month, they probably do not have to pay income  tax. But for those  who have to pay income taxes, like many of us out there, we  are actually subsidising the frequent users of the Plus highway.  Instead of users paying for usage, it is now those paying  tax who foot it.

But wait a minute.. Even among those who do not need to pay income tax, many forget that they are tax payers too. They do  pay road taxes and indirect taxes such as sales tax, service tax and excise tax, import taxes etc etc..Anyone who will in some way contribute to government coffers is actually tax payer.

Although there was a piece of news (read here)  saying that the government may not need to pay compensation(and I hope this is true), since PLUS is to be taken over soon, I will only believe it if Plus announces it officially that it would not seek compensation for the freeze on toll hike.

In the first place, there should not be such agreements for toll review every 3 years. Then secondly, remedial actions such as buying over PLUS should have been done long long ago.

But as i say, many road users like the salesman mentioned above ( who see things oly superficially) would be happy , and they are actually a big group of voters  out there.  No wonder this is labelled as an election budget!


Division Two

Malaysia retains its position (ranked No.43) in the Legatum Prosperity index.

In South east Asia, it is behind Singapore which is ranked 17. Other Asian countries such as Japan is ranked 18, HOng Kong at 20, Taiwan 22, South Korea at 27.

Being ranked No. 43 is not so bad actually. We can perhaps say that it is near the top of middle ranked countries.  But while Taiwan , South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong has moved from “division 2 ‘ to “Division one”, we are still at Division 2. It is of course better than those in Division 3 , but looking at the subindex, the picture is not so rosy. In the categories of social capital and personal freedom, it was ranked 90 (weak).

Being weak in social  capital means that our human resource development is weak.

If a soccer team wants to move from Division 2 to Divison 1, you need to have a pool of good players. It is useles to have a big group of players who cannot play well; it would be much better if you have a pool of good players .To do that, you need good coaches, you need to reward for excellence, you need good training technique.

Looking at our universities in specific and education system in general, unless drastic changes are adopted to overhaul the whole system, it is difficult to see how we can move from Division two to Division one. Here are the links for the indices for 2010 and 2009: (2009 compared)

Innovative car door

Imagine having a car with doors that can disappear the moment you want to enter or get out. That is innovation.


Where are all the cats?

Corruption is the mother of all evils. It is like cancer, once taken roots, it is very difficult to get rid off. It will only get worse unless something drastic is being done.

One of the best indicators of the level of corruption in civil service  is the Annual Auditor General’s report. I wrote an article in October last year, “That time of the year again” and the points are still as valid today. You can read that article here.

I will also paraphrase the first few paragraphs here:

It is that time of the year again.

No, I am not  referring to the ‘durian’ season, nor  to the festivities like Deepavali, Hari Raya or Mid Autumn Festival.

I am referring to the time when lay men like you and me feel angry and frustrated towards certain ‘wrongs”, but are powerless to do anything.

Every year, since time immemorial, it has evoked the same feeling;  but every year, we just sigh , comment with our ‘coffee kakis’ in ‘Kopitiams’ and shake our heads . People like me with a computer will probably write something to let off steam;  the more important people, like those elected YBs from the other side of the divide, will probably pose some embarrassing questions in the Dewan.

The end results will be the same; life carries on and nothing changes. We will all forget about and talk on other issues until the time of the year is here again.

I refer to the week in the year when the Annual Auditor General’s report is released.

This year, one of the most shocking things revealed is that school children are given substandard food to eat, as reported in malaysiakini article :“Sandwich kosong” for school kids, sardince missing”. I will post part of that article here too:

This is what the Auditor-General found being supplied under the Additional Food Programme (RMT) designed for schoolchildren by the government.

In its report for the year of 2009, the Auditor-General found that SK Jeroco in Lahad Datu, which was supposed to provide the pupils sardine sandwiches with slices of cucumber, tomato and lettuce, gave them only margarine sandwiches.

auditor report sardine sandwich turn into white bread with margarine 251010Apart from the SK Jeroco, food suppliers in five different primary schools around Malaysia, who were checked out, were caught supplying food way below the quality of the recommended menu for the RMT programme.

“After the feedback from the dietician in the Health Ministry’s nutrition department, we found that food from the menu provided can cause the schoolchildren to suffer from malnutrition,” the Auditor-General’s Report noted.

Six other outsourced school food suppliers have also been caught providing food completely different from the recommended menu in the RMT programme, often food that was of lower value.

To cheat on kids is the most heinous crime . I do not know how these people can do such things; don’t they have any conscience at all?

It is either the suppliers have to give a big kickback to the officials awarding the contracts for supplying food to schools, or the suppliers themselves trying to give sub quality food and  pocketing the money. I think in the context of our country, the probability is high that the kickback is big, and the suppliers have no choice but to reduce the quality in oder to still make money, like our Car Project.

This has already become a culture. Officials sitting in big government offices think only of how to start projects , not for the well beings of the people, but more for utilising government funds and get kickback when awarding contracts for such projects. The projects are  not for the people anymore. IT is for their own pockets.

With corruption at such levels, even to the extent of supplying “sandwich kosong” and “bihun kosong’ to children, what is the authority doing? Will it be like previous years, after the hoohaa, everything will be back to normal again?  The rats that used to eat in dark places and hidden corners now are eating blatantly right on top of the table.. They eat all the sardines and leave behind the roti kosong.. Where are all the cats?

When poor, improvise!

There is s saying that ” when poor, improvise.. When improvise, everything will be OK”( 穷则变).  You don’t have to be rich to be innovative.

I am posting a few photos here , sent to me via email. In the email, it was stated that the photos were taken by French Photographer, Alain Delorme.

Look at these ordinary people. They are not rich. They cannot afford a lorry or a van. But they can carry goods as much as a small truck..

I remember when I was small, we did see some of these things in Malaysia, maybe the goods were not stacked as high as these, but tricycles stacked full of goods were quite common. Of course, it may pose a danger to other road users if the whole stack collapses or if the cyclist falls.

We  may admire the innovative spirits of these poor people, especially when we are sitting behind a computer and looking at these; or as bystanders looking from the side-walk.

However, if you are  a driver in a car following these, you may not be amused by these .   See how our  viewpoints can change depending which side of the table we are sitting..

People’s money

The article I wrote 2 days ago about the 100 storey building announced in Budget 2011 was published in Malaysian Insider yesterday (Tallest does not mean the best) and attracted many comments. At the time i wrote it, it was not clear yet where the money would come from, but after i have posted it, it was clear that PNB would be the one building/funding it, and the PM has come out with a statement that he has nothing to do with the proposal.

Many people think that since it was not the government that will fund the project, then it would be not so bad.. I beg to differ.

PNB is owned by the government. PNB has said that they would fund the building from its accumulated profits and not funds under its management. But since PNB is government owned, whatever profits that PNB earns or accumulates belong to the government.

Government belongs to the people, since the government is elected by the people. Civil servants are just  employees to help elected people to carry out what was planned and what was legislated in the Parliament, which consists of people’s representatives. Managers in Government owned companies are likewise people’s employees, entrusted to manage properly people’s money.

So rightly, any profits of PNB ( and any other government-owned compaines) belongs to the people.

When these companies fail, like in the case of the former Bank Bumi, it was the government that came to the rescue by using Petronas money which again belongs to the people .

So for a project of 5 billions, even if it was not directly coming from the Treasury, it is still people’s money, the Rakyat’s money. For such a big project which will not lift us to a high income country, people do have a say in whether such project should go on or not.

It is like a big conglomerate. A big investment from one of its subsidiaries is still an investment of that conglomerate, and will affect the future prospect of that conglomerate.

So people of Malaysia have the right to say their piece, whether it is for  or against the project. We can disagree on whether such project should go on, but we must be prepared to defend the right of each of us to epress our opinion whether such a project should be allowed.. That is the right to the freedom of expression.

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