Saturday, May 03, 2003

Economist: Banning not the best way

Don't fall for its trap. Berita Publishing Group Editor-in-Chief, A. Kadir Jasin (picture below), said banning The Economist is not the best way to counter negative reports about Malaysia and its leaders, and in fact it will be seen as falling into a trap set up by foreign media to test the extent of press freedom in the country.

He said that if the ban on the distribution and sale of the magazine were to be made, Malaysia would be seen as a country which could not be criticised and the present leadership would be viewed as dictatorial.

"That is what it wants...if it is banned, it will become a hero and the journalist concerned will get promoted. If we ban the magazine, we will be falling for its trap," he said.

According to Kadir, what should be done to counter such negative reports about the country and its leaders would be to reply to the criticisms.

He however felt that PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad should not be the person to rebut the criticisms levelled at him but the task should be carried out by the Cabinet, Chief Secretary to the Government or Umno and the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN).

"In my view, the PM does not rule the country alone, but with the support of the Cabinet, Umno...Dr Mahathir has been leading the country for 20 years with the support of the BN, the people and the Cabinet. I feel, these agencies or groups in the country should reply, not Dr Mahathir," he said.

Kadir is also also a former Editor-in-Chief of New Straits Times Press, and a former chairman of the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama). He was interviewed in an RTM1 live talkshow entitled "Campur Tangan Media Asing Di Negara-negara Membangun" (Foreign Media Interference in Developing Countries),

Meanwhile, New Sunday Times reports: Acting PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said yesterday that another letter had been sent to The Economist to correct factual mistakes in an article on Malaysia which insulted PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He also said National Economic Action Council's (NEAC) Executive Director Mustapa Mohamed has sent an article to The Economist refuting several points in April 5 edition which "belittled the contribution and leadership of PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

"All the necessary actions have been taken and we are waiting for their reaction," added Abdullah.

DD Wong. who was criticised by two notable commentators for quoting Economist out of context and without reading it in its entirety, switched to commenting on China's handling of SARS in his Sunday column today.

World Press Freedom Day: Editors speak

Press freedom scrutinised. The Star's Nick Leong, who rounds up Malaysia's observing of World Press Freedom Day, yesterday, says: "Journalists are reminded to report facts in helping the public know the truth."

He quoted several journalists - New Straits Times associate editor Rehman Rashid, The Star associate editor Bunn Negara and Malaysiakini editor Steven Gan - who spoke at the forum Impunity (Unpunished Crimes Against Journalists) organised by the Asian Institute for Development Communication (Aidcom).

Meanwhile, Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders) has categorised Malaysia among the countries with very low press freedom between 2001 and October 2002, ranking it at 110th position, below Indonesia (57), Thailand (65), Philippines (89) but just a rung better than Brunei (111), in its Press Freedom Index.

Singapore was conspicuously not listed “due to lack of information."

The Press Freedom Index was released in the programme book of the World Press Freedom Day 2003 organised by the Asian Institute for Development Communication in association with National Press Club and Malaysian Press Institute.

Commenting on the index, The Star's Bunn Negara said there were a number of apparent flaws that could affect the accuracy of the index. He has an article in his Sunday Star column: Behind The Headlines, today.

Malaysiakini's Steven Gan has an editorial, Getting away with murder. He said, "No o­ne should have monopoly of news - or propaganda, if you will - in war and in peace. It is o­nly when there is diversity of media sources that the truth can emerge. The same can be said about the media in Malaysia."

SARS: Malaysia says WHO accepts its proposal on re-classification

Low, medium, high and none-of-the-above. This is a Bernama story dispatched at 22:04 last night: Health Deputy Director-General Dr Ismail Merican said the World Health Organisation (WHO) has accepted Malaysia's proposal on a reclassification of SARS-affected countries to better reflect the situation in these countries.

Under the three-tier classification, countries hit by the epidemic are grouped under low transmission, medium transmission and high transmission. This is what Dr Ismail told the reporters:

Low transmission. It means that it was due to imported probable cases that had produced only one generation of local probable cases. In simple terms, a person gets a disease from overseas, comes home and then affects a close contact. The country grouped under this classification is Mongolia, Dr Ismail said.

Medium transmission. Canada, Singapore and Taiwan were among countries classified under medium transmission, which involved more than one generation of SARS contact.

High transmission. The high-transmission classification has a 3 plus pattern or other than which is described under low- and medium-transmission classifications. The affected countries are China and Hong Kong.

How about Malaysia? Oh, we are none-of-the-above, said Dr Ismail.

Malaysia did not fall under any of these categories as it did not have any local transmission, he said.


Browse the archive for earlier blog entries on SARS.

* Send me an email
* Suggest a column/blog topic

Dear Mr President...

Silicon Valley is hurting... San Jose Mercury News editorial May 2: AN OPEN LETTER FROM SILICON VALLEY FOR YOUR VISIT THIS MORNING:

You might notice the traffic is a little lighter today than the last time you were here. That's because we've run into a tough patch here in the Silicon Valley.

But before we get into that, we want to offer congratulations on the war in Iraq. We hope you'll leverage that victory -- by applying the same focus to the economy and to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

Anyway, back to us. We've lost 200,000 jobs in two years; too many of our friends and relatives are out of work and nearly out of hope. The official unemployment rate is 8.4 percent. Our sources tell us it's really more like 10 percent. That's a crisis.[...]

In short, we're in a world of hurt, and we could use some help.

Read Silicon Valley's 11-point appeal for handouts.

Economist: DD Wong's commentary draws criticism

DD = Dare-devil? April 30, I commented on Star executive editor Wong Chun Wai's opinion piece where he critiqued The Economist April 5 feature: The Changing of the Guard - A Survey of Malaysia without reading it in depth.

His article has since attracted two responses from two notable commentators.

The first salvo came from blogger Oon Yeoh, a mainstream journalist who also writes current affairs commentaries for Bangkok Post and Singapore's Today, and an IT column for The Edge Malaysia and Singapore. Oon said this on May 1:

Reading Double Datuk Wong Chun Wai's unintentionally funny column yesterday made me laugh so hard. I tell you, even the PM's department couldn't have come up with a more servile press release.

He said, "DD Wong kinda reminds me of Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf (also affectionately known as Baghdad Bob), the lovable ex-Iraqi Information Minister who even the most hawkish of hawks can't hate because of his unintentionally funny press statements."

Salvo #2 came from socio-economic policy researcher Ong Kian Ming, who arote to Malaysiakini: Economist complainants ought to read it first:
Indeed, it irks me to no end that some people can actually write o­n this issue without having read the survey and then having the temerity to admit that he has not read it!

It is akin to critiquing certain parts of our Constitution without actually reading those relevant parts! oOne would have expected more from a senior editor and journalist.

Ong said, if o­ne actually bothers to read this survey, o­ne would find that if anyone should take offense, it would be PAS because of the negative light in which this party and some of its leaders are shown. And this appears to be the part where Chun Wai fell flat on his nose. Take a look at the part that Ong excerpts from The Economist:
"The Barisan Alternatif may have helped to give it a veneer of respectability, but there is nothing moderate about the version of Islam that PAS espouses. Its political leader, Hadi Awang, declared a jihad, or holy war, against Umno as early as 1986, denouncing the party as un-Islamic.

More recently, PAS leaders have declared jihad against America. During the campaign in Afghanistan, PAS supporters demonstrated outside the American embassy in Kuala Lumpur, wearing Osama bin Laden T-shirts. America is far and away Malaysia's largest trading partner, but that has not stopped PAS from calling for a boycott of American goods.

Nik Aziz says he believes that the destruction of the World Trade Centre was carried out by Jews, not al-Qaeda. But perhaps most striking is the PAS leadership's enthusiasm for cutting off hands.

And this is Ong's take on how Economist's comment on PAS should possibly interprete to those who have read in its entirety, instead of quoting it out of context:
"At this point, if I were a government official that is pro-Barisan, I would be jumping for joy. 'Let the foreign media do our dirty work for o­nce. Let them show up the true colors of PAS!' would have been something that could have been uttered.

On Chun Wai's labelling Economist as merchandising "conservative Anglo-Saxon views", Ong concludes: "But when senior journalists who don’t even take the effort to do some research (or reading in this case) and analysis, even cynicism seems out of place". Ong did give his reasons.

To be fair to Chun Wai, Ong says he has been an Economist subscriber and reader for the past 10 years.

As sual, DAP chairperson Lim Kit Siang never fails to capitalise on World Press Freedom Day, today, by linking The Economist controversy as an exemplification of intolerance for press freedom.

CommunicAsia and Broadcast Asia 2003 are cancelled

SARS scare. The CommunicAsia and BroadcastAsia trade shows in Singapore, scheduled for June 17 to 20 this year, have been scrapped because of the SARS outbreak, the organizers Singapore Exhibition Services (SES) announced yesterday.

More than 90% of exhibitors surveyed said June -- the original date of the show -- was out because of fears of a low turnout. Only 7% of exhibitors surveyed wanted to stick to the original June date.

SES said postponing the shows to the second half of the year was considered, but no suitable alternative window was available as the world calendar for this period is already filled with other events such as BIRTV (Beijing), IBC (Amsterdam), ITU World Telecom (Geneva), CTIA Wireless (Las Vegas), InterBee (Japan) and Comdex (Las Vegas).

CNetAsia said SES could lose about US$7 million in revenue from the cancellation of CommunicAsia 2003.

Blogspot has systemic problems

Can Google fix this, please? The blogs archive at - which hosts this blog for free - tends to screw up my archive during most weekends. I have to frequently republish all archive content or else all permalinks would go haywire. People who link this blog are led to wrong entries.

The thing is, most times when I want to republish the archive, the engine goes offline. Like now.

I thought all financial problems at Blogger that disrupted its R&D roadmap would have been solved after Google bought over Pyra.

You have an answer for this, dear Evan?

Aizuddin is enticing me with MovableType. Kinda tempting, really. My own server is residing on a 14Mbps IDC with three redundant lines.

Friday, May 02, 2003

Aussie drug recall: Cancelled items increased to 1,369

UPDATE: Sunday Star May 4: Tip of the iceberg in Pan saga.

Pan supplies 30% of products sold in Malaysia's registered pharmacies. Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has increased to 1,369 the number of recalled products manufactured by Pan Pharmaceuticals Ltd., up from 219 announced on April 28, and 668 on May 1.

Page 6 theSun today: Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS) president John Chong said 30% of the range of products available in most of the 1,600 pharmacies registered under them are supplied by Australia’s Pan.

NST: The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (FOMCA) is unhappy with the manner in which the Health Ministry handled the recall of 346 health products manufactured by Pan.


InfoSoc 2003: Oon Yeoh and Aizuddin Danian to speak on blogs

Annual talk-shop. The National IT Council will host InfoSoc 2003 in Melaka, June 21 to 24. This year's theme is "Catalyzing Youth for Value Creation: Leveraging on ICT". It will feature Oon Yeoh and Aizuddin Danian as panelists on blogs.

Both of them are putting their thoughts together on the form and substance of blogs.

I wish they would pitch for the proposition that blog is youthful enabler of grassroot-empowered e-content, but never shall it be constricted for just youth rantings in cyberspace. Internet is ever evolving, and new paradigms emerge in subtlety and incessantly. Netizens will refine and define them.

Perhaps it would be good NITC puts up a wi-fi cloud at the conference hall, and Oon and Aizuddin could blog the proceedings from there, intersecting their presentation slides with live cross-overs to other Malaysian blogs which could participate via remore and in-sync. A simualtaneous webcast will be great.

But I saw the ghosts of K.J. John - the NST columnist who uses the most of quotation marks - there. This year's InfoSoc is coded YnICT4D. Before this, he has invented such apparitions as TIGeR, KIX, and many more.

If you click the "governance agenda" button under NITC Initiatives on NITC website, it first draws a blank, then this.

* Send me an email
* Suggest a column/blog topic

Dinesh's 80-hour wait for Streamyx

Alphaque is back! Just got an email from Dinesh on May 2003 15:48:28 +0800 (MYT), telling me that "tmnet restored my link again after 80 hours of downtime this afternoon."

His Streamyx 1.5Mbps SDSL line went down on April 29, and rolled over the May 1 holiday.

If an 80-hour outage wasn't a record for Streamyx SDSL, then this one must surely be:

The problem ? Apparently one of the jumper cables in the MDF room in our building was not plugged in, thus causing the disconnection.

Now, access to this MDF room is solely under Telekom Malaysia's control. Not even building management nor maintanence can get in, and the entire room is theirs. If a jumper cable was not plugged in, then it must have been some fuck up by their technician. Perhaps someone came in to get some work done on Tuesday, and either kicked the cable off, or pulled it out and didn't put it back in again.

Either way, the cause of the downtime is firmly in Telekom Malaysia's court.

How does Dinesh feel now?
"They have not apologized for fucking up nor for taking over 3 business days to respond to our problem.

"And mind you, we're premium customers subscribing to the SDSL service, not the lower end ADSL variants. If this is how they respond to premium customers, do you think residential and SOHO users will have a shot in hell at getting any customer support from them ?"

Precisely what I had said.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Economist: Malaysia to rebut

'We'll show them factual errors'. Acting PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Malaysia will rebut allegations made by The Economist in its April 5 feature: The Changing of Guard – A Survey of Malaysia, about alleged wrong depiction of PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad's leadership and contribution to Malaysia.

National Economic Action Council executive director Mustapa Mohamed has been tasked with drafting the letter to The Economist.

Bernama dispatched this story lastnight: The Economist Willing To Apologise If...

Read related reports in The Star, Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian.

Najib Tun Razak, who sparked off the issue of UMNO proxy war when he finger-pointed at Economist's after the feature was published on the web and allowed 21 days of unhitched circulation in Malaysia, seemed to have lain low.

DD Wong?

Get to know him. I received several emails, some from senior journalists, talking about DD Wong. Looks like this nick is being passed around in the newsroom.

Click here and here to find out more about who DD Wong is.

The impression I get is, DD Wong has been served notice that heaps of challenge is coming his way, professionally and intellectually.

Can someone help me, please?

Traffic referrals. Google search is as much a barometer of breaking events as a chronicle of history. But there is certain information which I can't find there.

Yesterday, lazing around at home and in front of the PC, I took a peep at my blog traffic analysis. One of the most frequent referrals has been Google search on Malaysian tycoon T. Ananda Krishnan, with queries originating from UK, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan.

Is AK making major manoeuvres in corporate acquisitions and disposals lately? Will someone in the know please email me.

I installed a new traffic analysis tool on Wednesday, and discovered an intriguing thing. There is this website referral giving me incessant pageviews - by the hour since Wednesday, or could be earlier - coming from Johor Incubation Center Malaysia (note the American spelling).

Does anyone know about this organisation?

* Send me an email
* Suggest a column/blog topic

All in the family


FEER, May 8: Singapore's Iraq War Reward

Washington is expected to reward Singapore for its support during the Iraq War by letting the island republic arm its home-based F-16s fighters with radar-guided missiles. The advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles, or AMRAAMs, would be the first deployed in the region, say United States officials.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand all have AMRAAMs in their inventories, but U.S. restrictions on their use mean they are kept in storage in North America. Defence industry experts and analysts are now waiting to see whether the U.S. will offer the same privilege to Malaysia, which criticized the Iraq invasion, and Thailand, which was neutral on the war.

Singapore made available its KC-135 aerial tankers for the in-flight refuelling of American aircraft flying from the U.S. mainland to the Indian Ocean island base of Diego Garcia, one of the key staging areas for bomber runs over Iraq.

In another sign of the excellent state of relations between Singapore and the U.S., Singapore's Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and U.S. President George W. Bush will meet in Washington on May 6 to sign a speeded-up bilateral free-trade agreement.

The Nation (Bangkok), April 29: US might punish Thailand
Thailand could be punished by Washington for not publicly backing the US-led war to topple Saddam Hussein, the Asian Wall Street Journal reported yesterday (April 28).

The report said Singapore and the Philippines were given “high marks for their support” while Malaysia tops the hit list for its anti-war stance, highlighted by the suspension of US military flights over Malaysian airspace.

The Thai government, despite its ambiguous stance, insisted that it would reap some benefits from the US, especially in the reconstruction of post-war Iraq.

Aussie drug recall:
Pan refuses to apologise; list grows from 219 to 668

UPDATE: The Age, May 1 (7.00pm): Pan Pharmaceuticals Ltd said today it had accepted the resignation of its founder Jim Selim as managing director and chief executive officer.

Pan Pharmaceuticals has been forced to recall 668 alternative health supplements following an audit by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Its manufacturing licence was also suspended for six months after the audit found Pan had falsified tests on some products and failed to meet manufacturing standards.

Pan's 250 permanent and casual employees continue to face an uncertain future. END

* * *

More to come. The Age, Melbourne May 1: The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) yesterday released an updated list of 668 products put on Australia's biggest medicines recall - up from Monday's original list of 219.

The TGA said the number of recalled products could go close to 1000 by the time all companies have compiled their lists of alternative medicines supplied by Pan Pharmaceuticals.

Pan made vigorous protests yesterday insisting that its products are safe and that it has no reason to apologise.


Via Francisco Foo of Melbourne and News Compass.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Dr M is back to work, May 5

Hectic schedule. The PM's diary is full for May when he returns to work on Monday after a two-month break, ahead of his retirement in October. He will arrive this weekend from Europe. According to The Star:

  • May 10: To open MIC’s 57th annual general assembly at Putra World Trade Centre

  • May 11: To receive German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

  • May 11: To attend UMNO’s 57th anniversary celebrations at Stadium Merdeka, and to deliver a keynote address.

  • May 12: To open Petronas Liquefied Natural Gas plant in Bintulu.

  • Sometime in May: To announce the overdue economic stimulus package.

SARS: Phaik Chin should read this

Another victim below 30. The Star: Boy youngest SARS suspect. A two-year-old boy became the youngest suspected SARS victim after he displayed symptoms upon returning from Shanghai.

April 29, I blogged a AFP story which said Malaysia reported three new suspected SARS cases Monday, including a four-year-old Singaporean boy (Oops! Kee Phaik Chin!).

Malaysian media: The vital signs

AGM season. MCA-controlled The Star is expected to sustain its position as the country's newspaper publisher with the highest profitability.

Here is a summary of AGMs:

The Star

Star posts RM18 mln net profit for 1Q
Star Publications (M) Bhd announced an interim higher net profit of RM18.56 million for the first three months to March 31, 2003, compared with RM15.03 million in the previous corresponding period. The 23.48 per cent jump in net profit came on higher revenue of RM131.67 million, against RM112.66 million a year ago. Earnings per share improved to 5.97 sen from 4.94 sen previously.

Star's ad revenue still growing above 8%
Star Publications (M) Bhd says its advertising revenue growth in Q1 is slightly better than the industry average of 8% per annum despite current economic fallout due to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreaks.

Star to increase newsprint stockpile to 10 months
Star Publications (M) Bhd will increase its newsprints stockpile up to 10 months from the present average inventory level of between three and four months to take advantage of its cheaper price now. Managing director Datuk Steven Tan said current average newsprint price of RM430 per tonne was 'historically low'.

Star: Radio Rediffusion acquisition still on air
Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd is 'still negotiating' with the relevant parties to acquire a 100 per cent stake in Radio Rediffusion Sdn Bhd, according to Star Publications managing director Steven Tan. Dismissing speculations that the deal was off, Tan said the company would make an announcement on the matter.

Star Publications proposed to acquire Radio Rediffusion from Rediffusion Bhd (RB) and Forefront Assets Sdn Bhd, which hold stakes of 70 per cent and 30 per cent respectively in the radio station. The acquisition exercise was delayed at least twice since the deal was announced to KLSE on Sept 25, 2002.

New Straits Times Press

NSTP’s 1H net loss narrows to RM5.37 mln
The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Bhd’s (NSTP) net loss narrowed to RM5.37 million in the six months to Feb 28, 2003, from RM23.41 million a year earlier, due to better revenue, greater cost efficiency and lower finance cost.

The group said its revenue rose 5% to RM371.07 million from RM352.04 million a year earlier due to more advertising revenue and increased circulation as well as better insurance underwriting business.

Utusan Melayu

Utusan: Ad revenue growth may be halved due to SARS, Iraq war
Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Bhd anticipates its advertising revenue growth to be halved this year in view of the expected economic slowdown caused by the recent war in Iraq and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic, and advertisers might become cautious and curtail their advertising spending.

Aussie drug recall:
346 items ordered off shelves in Malaysia

Total recall. The Malaysian Drug Control Authority has ordered that all 346 products of Pan Pharmaceuticals Limited, Australia’s largest contract manufacturer of healthcare and pharmaceutical products, be taken off the shelves with immediate effect, reports New Straits Times.

Meanwhile, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said consumers who bought recalled products by Pan Pharmaceuticals of Australia should be entitled to a refund, reports The Star.

Three days ago, Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) issued a recall order — the biggest drug recall in the country's history — of 219 products manufactured by Pan Pharmaceuticals.

The regulatory body also cancelled 1,650 "export only" medicines which the company manufactured for the worldwide market. It affected products distributed by some Malaysian companies which sourced their products from Pan, which included Duopharma (M) Sdn Bhd, Cosway (M) Sdn Bhd, 21st Century Products Sdn Bhd, Direct Circle Corporation Sdn Bhd, Mode Circle Sdn Bhd, Wellmex Sdn Bhd, Wan Medical Supplies (M) Sdn Bhd and Kordel's brand.

April 29, Australian health authorities continued to advise consumers not to take vitamins or herbal supplement for now.

Is is learnt that the TGA investigation was originally sparked by Travacalm, a travel sickness tablet produced by Pan. Dosages varied up to 700 per cent higher than on the label. It was reported that some Travacalm users had hallucinations that made them want to jump out of the planes.

On January 21, the TGA ordered a recall of Travacalm Original Tablets Blister pack, and intensified its warning to public the following day.

The Sydney Morning Herald says Australia's federal government is putting pressure on the CEO of Pan Pharmaceuticals to step down, warning that the group may not regain its licence while he remains in charge. Here are related headlines:

More information:

Here are the links to the list of recalled vitamins/herbal medicines in Australia and those in Malaysia.

Drug Control Authority website:
The National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau, Tel: 03-7957-3611.

Dinesh's Streamyx outage to roll over May Day?

Clarification. Probably, I didn't describe clearly yesterday on how premium Streamyx users - e.g. 1.5Mbps SDSL - affected mission critical operation, like Dinesh's.

I mentioned briefly Dinesh's organisation, Worldcare Asia, is a global e-health network that links up medical specialists around the world for information exchange which requires mission-critical connectivity.

A point of fact is, Worldcare does not use Streamyx for its telemedicine links, which are mission critical. It's actually run off normal digital leased circuits and Jaring connectivity, with ISDN backups.

Dinesh emailed me to say that the downed line is the one his office uses for email, web surfing et al. When the Streamyx was down, the office was still alright, running off 256kbps backup to Jaring. He didn't want to put on that link and suck up the bandwidth. So his blog was offline.

Another point is, I wouldn't venture to think of customer support residential and SOHO Streamyx users will get when the ISP can't even pull itself together to take care of its premium business customers.

By last evening, Dinesh's line has been down by over 36 hours. Today is Labour Day, I doubt anything will happen since it's a holiday.

K-Workers, UNITE! My wish is, Dinesh would make this experience his personal mission to rebut their press releases - like those in TM Net's website - with technical responses that it can't hogwash any further. Their PR releases and Support Group posting in usergroup were not followed up with effective action steps.

Dinesh's posting yesterday should be just a start. Fellow K-workers must respond in unison.

Imran William Smith of Mimos Open Source unit has proposed this to Dinesh and MNCC OSSIG members yesterday:

Why don't you create a web form at alphaque or similar where people can give their name, what state or city they are, how much they are willing to pay for broadband per month, what is their job description, maybe a salary range (to show
these are high powered people), how much extra they could bring into the economy (RM per year, say) if they had broadband.

Then if there's much response, you can send to newspaper, cc to some ministry.

I don't have immediate time to do much research, but in UK (widely believed to be lagging behind in its broadband policy) they have a 'Broadband Stakeholders' Group', set up by Govt.

Apparently the Korean Govt decided to heavily fund broadband in 1995 to promote a K-economy (the K word should ring some bells with somebody...),,t269-s2123734,00.html

Make TM Net accountable, or the government must force-unbundle the local loop next week. Yes, I say next week!

You hear us, MCMC and KTKM?

First of May

Does it carry a more significant meaning to the workforce apart from the stereotyped speeches and a day off?

* Send me an email
* Suggest a column/blog topic

Streamyx has a big problem

We are talking about premium 1.5Mbps SDSL here, OK? I still can't access Dinesh's blog. Not a routine for a bandwidth sucker like him.

He wrote to MNCC OSSIG mailing list on Wed, 30 Apr 2003 13:49:04 +0800 (MYT), apparently responding to a tmnet.streamyx newsgroup posting by Streamyx Support which I blogged yesterday, and cross-posted by Ditesh Kumar, para by para:

TM Net Streamyx: ...demand for our services, it is unfortunate that we are unable to attend to each and everyone's personal needs."

Dinesh: the poor little things. guess being a monopoly isn't enough, they now want pity.

TM Net Streamyx: We are more than willing to look into your greviences regarding authentication, downloads, uploads and other ISP related issues, bearing in mind the following :-

Dinesh: sure. we (worldcare asia) lodged a report yesterday morning, yesterday afternoon, and physically at the house of internet this morning. still no resolution to our downed line. yusmar was told that it'll take three fucking...oops...working days for them to get to it. yep, customer service at its best.

TM Net Streamyx: Alternatively, we do offer SDSL lines which would mitigate such issues. All enquiries can be directed to our nearest Kedai Telekom.

Dinesh: really ? whooopedy doodah, we have a 1.5Mbps SDSL link, and it's been dead for the past 30 hours. so what else can you offer us now, telekom, since your sdsl service is pure crap ?

TM Net Streamyx: Should you feel that its really our problem, kindly call us toll free at 1300-88-9515 to speak with our technical specialists (trained on ISP related issues ONLY). Please bear in mind that we are serving the nation's needs, so be patience (sic) and things will be resolved.

Dinesh: have your technical specialists been trained to pick up phones, because when i call it just rings without a reply. and while you're taking time off from serving the nation's needs, you may want to also serve you customers. especially customers who power the nation's national teleconsultation network.

Dinesh must be fuming mad. And you don't like it when Dinesh gets fuming mad.

Take care, Telekom. You just make a big mistake for shuttling Dinesh for more than 30 hours!

(Dinesh's organisation, Worldcare Asia, is a global e-health network that links up medical specialists around the world for information exchange which requires mission-critical connectivity.)

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Economist: No apology to Malaysia; latest issue delayed.

Apology not likely. Malaysiakini, 12:24pm Wed Apr 30:

The Economist has ruled out any likelihood that it would issue an apology for its recent survey o­n Malaysia which has offended several Barisan Nasional leaders.

Straits Times Singapore quoted Malaysiakini which interviewed Economist's Christopher Lockwood:
'No, we will not be running an apology. Threats certainly would not make an apology any more likely.' [...]

'We will go on trying to present a balanced view of Malaysia, praising the good things about it and criticising it where we think it is at fault. That's what our readers buy The Economist for.'

It is learnt that the latest issue of The Economist (picture left) has been held up for distribution to subscribers and newsstands.

Re "Economist: Chun Wai doesn't read it either."
Read Oon Yeoh's comments in Transition.

Economist: On second read. Fellow blogger Oon Yeoh commented on Star executive editor Wong Chun Wai's opinion piece today: Insist on the right to be heard, today.

In my earlier blog on the topic, I mentioned about Chun Wai making a headcount of people whom Christopher Lockwood interviewed for his April 5 feature: The Changing of the Guard - A Survey of Malaysia.

They included two foreign agency correspondents, four expatriates, a local reporter, a prominent businessman, two aides of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, a local banker and three Malaysian NGO activists. And a quote that was attributed to Gerakan MP Ng Lip Yong.

Oon made a direct reference to this portion, where Chun Wai said: "In its acknowledgment, the magazine listed at least nine persons who are openly critical of Dr. Mahathir":

Let's browse through the acknowledgements, shall we? Among the many names cited: Tan Siok Choo of ISIS; Francis Yeoh of YTL Corporation; Khairy Jamaluddin and Ahmad Zaki Zahid, deputy prime minister's office; Abdul Azim Zabidi of National Savings Bank; Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah of UMNO. Also quoted in one of the articles is Gerakan MP Ng Lip Yong. Not exactly names associated with Reformasi. Furthermore, Lockwood says he also chatted with both Pak Lah and Najib. Yes, he spoke to opposition people. He also spoke to business people, and media people. And yes, pro-government people as well.

I like to point out that, Khairy Jamaludin, introduced as acting PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's aide, is also an UMNO Youth executive council member.

In fact, Khairy has a duo-role: ( 1 ) as the son-in-law to Pak Lah and ( 2 ) as special officer to the DPM.

I still keep his calling-card.

Economist: Chun Wai doesn't read it either

Malaysia wrongly judged. Star executive editor Wong Chun Wai admitted in his opinion piece today, that he doesn't read The Economist:

I must confess that like most Malaysians I was not aware of the furore created by the magazine until angry Barisan Nasional leaders called for action to be taken against it.

Many of these politicians, calling for the magazine to be banned, probably also did not read the magazine.

He made a headcount of people whom Christopher Lockwood interviewed for his April 5 feature: The Changing of the Guard - A Survey of Malaysia - two foreign agency correspondents, four expatriates, a local reporter, a prominent businessman, two aides of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, a local banker and three Malaysian NGO activists. And a quote that was attributed to Gerakan MP Ng Lip Yong.

Chun Wai commented:
For reasons known only to the writer, Gerakan was described as a “Chinese left-leaning party.”

There were no interviews with MCA (The political party that indirectly - but effectively - owns The Star) and MIC, the two main partners of Umno, and nothing on why non-Muslim voters continue to support Barisan.

He concluded on the credibility of The Economist with this:
But anyone who has read The Economist would know that it represents conservative Anglo-Saxon views. [...]

If the magazine can devote 14 pages of criticism against Dr Mahathir, the Government has a right to ask for equivalent space in the magazine to rebut many of the points brought up.

The offensive article does not deserve a second read and certainly not a ban.

But Malaysia definitely deserves the right to be heard.

The leadership has been wrongly judged and if the magazine has any sense of fair play, it would allow a rebuttal with no editing from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Probably, Chun Wai will follow-up with the Home Minister, and his Chinese deputy, as to why after being allowed to circulate for over 20 days without a hitch was Economist suddenly put to grill.

And, of all persons, it has to come from Najib Tun Razak.

Meanwhile, Oon Yeoh revisited the Economist feature yesterday and made a few comments on his blog, Transition.

To you Chun Wai, does this sound like Oon's admission that it's worth a second read? You mainstream journalists should know better.

Australia's biggest medical recall in history affects Malaysia
Product registration cancelled:
21st Century: 55, Cosway: 48 and Kordells: 44

Authorities to investigate Pan Pharmaceuticals for non-disclosure on licence suspension. The has this:

The Australian government has recalled and deregistered more than 1,800 health products on quality and safety concerns - a move that may greatly affect the local distributors as the products are also sold in Malaysia."

Watch out for products marketed by local distributors who source from Pan Pharmaceuticals, as reported in The EdgeDaily:
About 200 products have been recalled from pharmacies and supermarket shelves across Australia, while the registration of 1,650 export-only medicines and herbal products have been stripped off the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.

Among the Malaysian distributors who may be affected by the recall of the health products are Duopharma Biotech Bhd marketing arm Duopharma (M) Sdn Bhd and Cosway Corporation Bhd unit Cosway (M) Sdn Bhd.

21st Century Products Sdn Bhd will perhaps be among the most affected Malaysian distributors with 55 of the products that had the registration cancelled, while Cosway has 48 and Kordells 44.

The other distributors include are Direct Circle Corporation Sdn Bhd, Mode Circle Sdn Bhd, Wellmex Sdn Bhd, Wan Medical Supplies (M) Sdn Bhd.

Response. The Star: Malaysia said it would follow the move to recall the medical products, which include vitamins, health supplements and non-prescription drugs.

Health Ministry parliamentary secretary S. Sothinathan said Director-General would issue the notice to recall the products today.

The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) urged the Health Ministry to immediately ban all the 219 products.

Alert in Australia. According to the website of Australian government watchdog, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) had suspended Pan Pharmaceuticals' licence to urgently address the safety and quality concerns posed by the multiple manufacturing breaches.

"The suspension follows audits of the company's manufacturing premises, which revealed widespread and serious deficiencies and failures in the company's manufacturing and quality control procedures, including the systematic and deliberate manipulation of quality control test data," TGA said.

Meanwhile, Sydney Morning Herald said the Australian Stock Exchange will investigate why Pan Pharmaceuticals yesterday failed to call for a trading halt in its shares as soon as it learnt its licence had been suspended.

Sections of the market had the news of the licence suspension for 30 minutes before trading was halted. It is believed ASX officials are furious about the company's slow reaction.

The Sydney paper has termed it as the biggest medical recall in history.

Thanks Francis Foo of Melbourne for the pointer.

* Send me an email
* Suggest a column/blog topic

One-day SARS Summit in Thailand

Early warning system top priority. Leaders from the nine Asean nations - host Thailand is the 10th - and China congregate in Bangkok today for a one-day summit on SARS (two hours of heads-of-government conference, and sideline one-on-one). That goes to show how SARS differs from AIDS in terms of grave urgency.

Top of the agenda, according to The Nation, is to adopt an early warning system to alert Asean countries of SARS outbreaks. The leaders are expected to adopt common measures to screen international travellers to avoid unnecessary double examinations.

Preventive and screening measures were developed at a meeting of Asean health ministers in Kuala Lumpur last Saturday.

The summit, initiated by Singapore prime minister Goh Chok Tong, is reported to focus on finding preventative measures each country could commonly take in a bid to avoid confusion among agencies, and to minimise the potential impact of Sars on regional economies.

Goh has even drafted a statement, to be released at the end of the summit. An AP story picked up by Straits Times Singapore said Singapore recommended the setting up of a regional information network on the virus, but with caution against closing borders to contain its spread.

Singapore is the country worst hit by SARS in Southeast Asia. Visitor arrivals to Singapore plunged 71% in the third week of April compared to the same period last year because of the SARS outbreak.

Another AP story said China has proposed setting up an Asian fund to study and devise preventive measures against SARS, and pledged initial seed money of US$1.2 million.

The pledge was made during a meeting in Bangkok between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who also promised to give US$250,000 for the fund.

I am still making headcounts of leaders who attended the SARS Summit:

  1. Thailand: Thaksin Shinawatra

  2. Malaysia: Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

  3. Singapore: Goh Chok Tong

  4. Indonesia:
  5. megawati Sukarnoputri
  6. The Philippines:
  7. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
  8. Brunei: Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah

  9. Vietnam:

  10. Myanmar:

  11. Cambodia: Hun Sen
  12. (Current chair of ASEAN)
  13. Laos:

  14. China: Wen Jiabao

Hong Kong's chief executive Tung Chee-hwa attended as an extension of the Chinese delegation.

Vietnam is SARS-free. Yesterday, WHO declared Vietnam as the first country to contain SARS. Vietnam, a nation of 80 million with limited medical resources, has not had a case since April 8. Those 20 SARS-free days -- twice the disease's incubation period -- resulted in WHO making the declaration that relieved its 80 million population.

You must be baffled why sophisticated places like Hongkong, Singapore and Canada continue to grapple with the SARS virus, but one country - poor, communist Vietnam - could claim victory over the deadly disease?

AP quoted health authorities: An open government, fast quarantines and... a bit of luck.

Hopefully, minister Chua Jui Meng has got the message by now.

Streamyx: 'We are serving the nation's needs, so be patient!'

In other words, shut up! You are fuming mad with Streamyx's quality of service? Hold your breath and read this posting lifted from tmnet.streamyx newsgroup

Thanks Eric Yeoh for the pointer.

We at streamyx would like to inform that owing to the overwhelming demand for our services, it is unfortunate that we are unable to attend to each and everyone's personal needs.

However, in view of the increasing criticism aim at us here at support, we would like to clarify the following :-
  • We are only a provider of ISP services. As such, do not contact us on line issues, modem issues and pc hardware related issues as we would not be in a position to assists you. For such issues, please contact your respective service or product suppliers.

  • We are more than willing to look into your greviences regarding authentication, downloads, uploads and other ISP related issues, bearing in mind the following :-

  • If you are facing frequent disconnections, these are normally due to ip refresh issues and problems would be further compounded for those who try to use their computers to host web sites with dynamic ip resolving softwares.

  • For such purposes, please enquire at your nearest Kedai Telekom and ask about our extremely competitve hosting services with fixed ip ie. no more disconnection issues.

  • Downloading of data will be affected if you are uploading at the same time. This is a limitation of existing ADSL technology and as such, you are advice not to upload data should you wish to do major downloads. Alternatively, we do offer SDSL lines which would mitigate such issues. All enquiries can be directed to our nearest Kedai Telekom.

  • Adverse weather condition such as heavy rain or thunderstorm will also affect preformance and is beyond our control. This also applies to excessive EMF emission from nearby electronic devices, sometime even from your neighbours or power surge etc.

  • Should you feel that its really our problem, kindly call us toll free at 1300-88-9515 to speak with our technical specialists (trained on ISP related issues ONLY). Please bear in mind that we are serving the nation's needs, so be patience (sic) and things will be resolved.

    Good day and Happy Surfing.

Can you believe this? Can you take it?

In the April 16 edition of Malaysian Business, I dedicated my fortnightly column to lauding Streamyx for having taken a positive approach towards improving service quality and customers satisfaction. I thought after a long spell of service outages which resulted in escalated customers complaints, they deserve some accolades for making the bold step.

I hope it all was not in vain.

Streamyx screwed-up again, today

Not again! Streamyx was down, and I was cut-off from the Internet in the office since late morning till just now. It's intermittenly unstable. Heaven knows what happened. Can't get through the 1300-88-9515 CS line either.

Dinesh Nair's site is down too. Got to read what he wrote in MNCC OSSIG mailing list:

29 Apr 2003 15:16:52 +0800 (MYT): "there's a streamyx f-up in a lot of places today. worldcare's down, as is the airzed hotspot i'm at now in telawi 5."

and later,

29 Apr 2003 16:00:13 +0800 (MYT): "malaysians should be more vocal. the problem is, my journalist friends tell me, is that too many people are not willing to go on the record for fear of whatever. when they fear the unknown, they don't speak out and this gives the impression that the few that do speak out are just rabid lunatics.

based on the article which raslan sharif wrote in intech last week, i got a number of emails all saying that i spoke out what they always wanted to say. but none of them would say the same thing for themselves. the cycle perpetuates.

would you write to the press expressing your discontent ?

Speak-up, my man!

Monday, April 28, 2003

A race to show who could be more loyal to Dr Mahathir?
Pak Lah promises 'most effective action'. Economist writer speaks up.

UMNO proxy war? Acting PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is strengthening his ground.

He said the Government will take "the most effective action" against The Economist of London for publishing an article which humiliated Malaysia and its leadership.

He said the action to be taken would serve to remind them and other like-minded writers that it would not pay to come up with such articles.

Yesterday, Malaysiakini's Yap Mun Ching contacted Economist's writer responsible for the April 5 feature on Malaysia, Christopher Lockwood - in London - who defended his articles. He said they were "balanced" because he had also complimented the government o­n some of its achievements.

He said, although he had criticised Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad o­n some counts, he had also praised the premier for the way with which he handled challenges facing the country.

According to Malaysiakini, Lockwood dismissed claims by BN leaders that he had merely depended o­n opposition feedback to produce the survey, saying that he had interviewed as many persons from both sides during the month-long visit he made to Malaysia. Lockwood was quoted:

"I met with both (Acting Prime Minister) Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and had a nice chat with him. Personally, I feel a little hurt now. I also met with (Umno vice-president) Najib Tun Razak and requested an interview with Mahathir but he refused."

Lockwood also pointed out that although several leaders had censured the survey articles, none had pointed out any particular part which they felt was problematic. He said nobody properly criticised the article. He added:
"It is impossible to write a survey without offending some people to some degree.... We also expect what we write to be criticised.

"If you criticise the prime minister, then you would expect his supporters to attack you.

"It is a little sad that the mindset is still o­ne that says if you don't agree with us o­n everything, then you are against us.

"I stand by all the things that I said. I feel that it is unfair to me as (the critics) made it seem as though everything in the article was negative."

So is it an UMNO proxy war? This is Lockwood's take on the whole fuss and buzz, and I think Malaysians will chew on it for weeks, or months, to come before the June UMNO general assembly.
"...I noticed that both (Abdullah and Najib) denounced me.

"It was as though they were competing to see who could be more loyal (to Mahathir)."

Lockwood said Economist editors are not perturbed by the controversy in Malaysia and the action that the Malaysian government may take against him or the magazine.

The Economist has a circulation of 5,000 copies in Malaysia.

Read about reactions from some Malaysians - Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia communications lecturer Prof Dr Mohd Safar Hasim, Suhakam commissioner Prof Mohd Hamdan Adnan and veteran journalist MGG Pillai - in this Malaysiakini story.

Please pay before you read.

SARS: Worst over everywhere except China

Phaik Chin, you hear this? Another victim below 30. Straits Times Singapore reported yesterday: The World Health Organization said that the worst of SARS outbreak is over in Singapore, Hongkong, Canada and Vietnam, but warned that it appears to be spreading rapidly in China.

Click on the map to view global updates. BBC grahics

  • theSun April 27: Quarantined 284

  • AFP April 28: Quarantined 728

The AFP story also says Malaysia reported three new suspected SARS cases Monday, including a four-year-old Singaporean boy (Oops! Kee Phaik Chin!) and a British engineer, and ordered schools to shut for 10 days if any SARS patient is detected.

Situation update by Ministry of Health is available here.

* Send me an email
* Suggest a column/blog topic

Economist issue: Najib up-staging Pak Lah

I stand corrected. April 25, I said Najib Tun Razak sprang into attacking The Economist (which allegedly vilified PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad's leadership and legacy) after Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has spoken up.

Apparently, it's the other way round, according to a Malaysiakini report by Nash Rahman.

Najib held his Economist-whacking press conference ahead of Pak Lah, and the DPM was said to be pushed into reacting mode.

Did Najib do it out of an unyielding admiration for Dr Mahathir?

Malaysiakini says Najib's tactical manoeuvre has led to speculation that it may have been prompted more by personal political tensions.

It quoted an Umno source which said many members viewed the party vice-president’s remarks against the Economist magazine for publishing the ‘contentious’ report, as indirectly targeting the premier-in-waiting and party deputy president.

Malaysiakini also quoted sources close to UMNO as saying certain "double-faced" party members - while two-timing the two leaders - had schemed to pit the duo against each other.

Malaysiakini's stories, in English and Bahasa Malaysia, mentioned that the Economist was circulated for 20 days without arousing any action, or reaction, from the government - a focal argument in my blogs here and here.

It's good to revisit two backgrounder stories about UMNO shadow-play, by Nash:

DAP chairperson Lim Kit Siang sees it as a proxy battle in the intense jockeying for power in post-Mahathir UMNO.

As if plunging a hedge between the two UMNO stalwarts, Lim commended Pak Lah for adopting a more open and rational approach - by calling on the Economist to apologise to Dr. Mahathir and the people “for insulting the Prime Minister and his leadership” - but making clear that the government has no plans to take any action against the publication.

Interesting time.

He says I'm OK...

Chinese blog. Screenshots was noticed by Malaysian IT practitioner Yow Kee Cheng today. He thought, apparently, "there is much better coverage and brilliant blog about SARS in Malaysia", pointing to this blog.

Yow Kee uses MovableType to power his blog, and is attempting to blog in Chinese. I must learn from him one day.

Via Blogdex.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Irresponsible journalism: A swift response

Put it this way... Francis Foo read my blog: Screenshots and irresponsible journalism and immediately emailed from Melbourne, quoting Dr Patrick Dicken who said SARS virus could be more devastating than AIDS.

Dr Dickson, one of Europe's experts on predicting global trends, is Fellow at the Centre for Management Development at London Business School. He said:

"It is worth remembering that AIDS has infected 80 million people so far over 15 to 20 years. AIDS spreads slowly so we can track it and plan for it. We have effective anti-viral drugs which can prolong life.

But this is different, we don't have the time. This is a far more serious epidemic potentially than AIDS. In a country like India, which is chaotic with minimum health provision, the potential for spreading the virus is huge. The main concern was rural, isolated areas in China and around the world. If current trends continued, there could be a billion cases within 60 weeks.

Thanks Francis for the pointer. I enjoy being the messenger.

Take a look at the latest graph and forecast for the SARS epidemic based on WHO stats captured as at April 26 by Ted Kaehler.

Graphs on other sites
  • Canada: A linear graph of cases, including an estimate of active cases, by Adrian Boyko.

  • Hong Kong: A linear graph of cases by Ho Yin, CHEUNG.

BYO: That's perspectives in blogosphere

Balanced view. Fellow blogger, Fooji, wrote A tale of ignorance and arrogance in his blog Warung Ikan Bakar. It's about Malaysian politicians' delayed, overdue and belated reaction to Economist's 9-story survey on Malaysia (April 5).

He said: "Nasib baik there are blogs like Transitions and Screenshots, which give a more balanced view on the whole issue, if not I would have been swayed to a biased stand."

Of conflicting views, he said "it is always apparent that arrogance is seen in both sides."

Keep it up, new Malaysians should have new attitudes even on old issues.

Screenshots and irresponsible journalism
The truth is: I ain't no journalist by profession!

Out of proportion. Suresh Gnasegarah of has this to say about Screenshots in his blog today:

I think journalist like Jeff Ooi, in his blog the Screenshots are (sic) extremely irresponsible by blowing the SARS incident out of propotion.

SARS is not a deadly disease and to date has only killed 300-odd people. The problem is journalist who do have an influence, like Jeff , are blowing the issue. The more the issue gets harped on the more people are going to panic.

If anything, the cure for SARS is simple. If you feel sick, go see a doctor. More people die from pneumonia everyday than the total amount of people who have died from SARS.

But the hype, created by people who weild influence like Jeff Ooi is blowing things out of this world because people generally believe that things reported in the media as the holy grail of truth. [...]

People must realise that sometimes, leaving things to rest and not making certain things public is good for general population. In other words, transparency is not always the correct answer. Sure, Jeff Ooi probably means well, but his response to the incident does gross injustice to the efforts of controlling the virus put in by the Health Authorities.

In my opinion, SARS is not a threat and is under control. Panic caused by the SARS virus is even a bigger threat to nations, economies and the quality of life itself. So Jeff Ooi, please be more responsible because great journalism is not always about reporting the truth, it's about protecting the integrity of the truth, which in this case means that the SARS issue has been totally blown out of context.

Thanks for the advice, Suresh. I appreciate it.

Just one thing I need to clarify, though.
I am NOT a journalist by profession - past, present (but I don't know about future). I was not trained as one either. And I don't think the journalist fraternity would readily accept me as a journalist. I don't have media accreditation issued by the Ministry of Information, anyway.

Like how I introduced myself in Screenshots homepage:
I earn my keeps as an e-business consultant for vertical industries, an Open Source advocate (like you?), and the closest to being a journalist, wishfully speaking, is as a columnist in Malaysian Business. I write and blog in between meetings, work, play, wine and dine, and lepak over weekends.

On second thought, I shall take it as a compliment if I have passed off as a true-blood journalist, of which I am not. ;-)

In Screenshots, please treat me as a messenger of information. It is YOU - if you happen to read my blogs - who will ultimately turn it into knowledge in the perspective you choose.

Knowledge will then remain tacit in you.

As per whether I have blown SARS out of proportion, I shall leave it to the readers to decide. A fallen fig does not an autumn make.

Thanks to Jarrod Daniel - your email address is faulty? - for the pointer. I 100% agree with you, that Suresh has a point.

With due respect, we are not going to argue whether the point is valid or otherwise.

Judiciary: Inexperienced magistrates, unprepared lawyers...

Rahim Nor remembered. "The judiciary which endorses the oft-said and commonsensical approach that the police cannot be allowed to beat people, had failed to translate that into action and offer a more exacting punishment than was meted out."

That's the observation of lawyer Edmund Bon who presented his paper entitled the "Cop-Land" at the Bar Council's seminar o­n "Police Powers and Rights of Detainees" in Kuala Lumpur April 26.

He claimed that the court has failed to adequately consider the victim's pain and suffering and the particular circumstances surrounding the incident which led to detainees being subjected to abusive treatment by the police.

He cited the case of former Inspector General of Police Rahim Noor who was o­nly jailed two months and fined RM2,000 for assaulting jailed ex-deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim in the Bukit Aman lock-up in 1998. (This doesn't seems to die with time, does it?)

Read his citation of inexperienced magistrates and unprepared lawyers in Malaysiakini.

Meanwhile, the Bar Council will submit a memorandum to Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim seeking improvement o­n the court’s practice direction o­n the conduct and responsibilities of magistrates in remand proceeding.

Bar Council chairman Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari said the body has proposed automatic right to counsel for those on remand.

In separate stories, Malaysiakini interviewed Suhakam chief Abu Talib Othman who said there is no need for the commission to have enforcement powers since there are already adequate provisions in existing laws for individuals to seek remedies for human rights violations.

The former Attorney-General also said Suhakam is plagued with complaints on ISA abuse, and asked the judiciary to mend itself, and urged the CJ to check judges' performance.

Blogalization: Many languages, one voice

Screenshots spotted. This blog was spotted by, maintained by an anonymous administrator based in Brooklyn, New York.

Click here to read his blog: Screenshots from Malaysia. And another one here.

It has a draft mission statement:

The principle behind the "knowledge ecosystem" of Blogalization is simple: If I have access to information in languages A, B, and C, and you have access to information in languages C, D, and E, each of us can access information we don't normally have access to by collaborating in language C — transmitting that knowledge back into the non-overlapping areas of the Venn diagram.

I may have to respond to some questions he raised here.

Via Technorati Cosmos.

Don't mention Bush to the Syrians or you'll get a *?@%

No, it's not from me. That's a headline on page B23 of New Straits Times today, a JMTM story.

Still waiting for the online version to come up.

UPDATE: April 28, 11.10am: Ok, the NST link is here.

Licence issued for Malaysia's second casino?

Genting has a contender? Malaysiakini April 27: Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob revealed on Monday (April 21) that the Federal Government had issued a licence for a second casino in Malaysia at Colmar Tropicale Resort in Bukit Tinggi.

The first o­ne is at Genting Highlands. Both are located in the state of Pahang.

On February 24, Dow Jones announced that Berjaya Group Bhd chief Vincent Tan was set to open a "gaming centre"at his privately-owned Bukit Tinggi Resort Bhd. in May.

The financial news agency quoted Bukit Tinggi Resort General Manager Teh Ming Wah as saying the centre, called Tropicale Gaming, would have 250 electronic, or computerized machines featuring games such as baccarat and roulette.

In comparison, Genting has about 3,000 slot machines.

According to the Dow Jones story, Teh said Tropicale Gaming would not offer traditional casino table games complete with croupiers, "just electronic slot machines".

To encourage visitor arrivals at Tropical Gaming, Bukit Tinggi Resort is contemplating waiving the RM16 ringgit entrance charge for day visitors, if the visitors use the gaming centre, Teh said.