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Selangor, Penang More counters budgets – good for MPK for future p16 p 10

community

DECEMBER 24 – 26, 2010/ issue 5

By Neville Spykerman

KLanG: Fairy Park, a massive private cemetery here which is partly operated illegally on agriculture land, has been given the green light to continue provided it pays all its dues to the state. “Fairy Park must convert the land to commercial purposes and settle all fines, fees and arrears it owes the authorities,” said executive councillor Ronnie Liu. Liu said the state had to take into account that people were already buried at the site in Meru and that the company had sold other lots. Liu, whose portfolio includes local government, said the owner had applied to convert the land. In September, Premivest Sdn Bhd, which operates Fairy Park, admitted illegally using agricultural land to bury nearly 20,000 people since the 1990s. They charged up to RM316,000 for family plots. But the company’s managing director, Koh Tian Seng, argued that he was just performing a social service when he was hauled up before Selangor’s Select Committee for Competency, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat).

Fairy Park gets the nod
Selcat was probing the 154-acre cemetery in Meru, which had approval for only 28 acres for a private graveyard in 1991. Only 19 acres have been legally converted from agriculture use. Another 136 acres are classified as agricultural land and the company has not got approval to convert the land into a cemetery. Koh said he could not turn away those who needed burial plots, claiming that Fairy Park offered the cheapest rates. But he got little

内附中文版
《雪州时报》

sympathy from Selcat chairman Datuk Teng Chang Khim who pointed out that finding new burial grounds was the responsibility of the state. The inquiry also revealed that Fairy Park charg e d up to RM316,300 for a family plot measuring 48’ x 80’, while the cheapest plot was RM9,000. Te n g s a i d t h a t amounted to RM82 per sq feet which was higher than the costs of most homes. He also criticised the

Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) and the Klang and Petaling District Offices for not taking tougher action against Fairy Park. The company had failed to get approvals from MBSA’s building and planning department. More than 20,000 people have been buried at Fairy Park despite stop work orders. The company only settled five compounds which were issued to them after Selcat started its probe. Shah Alam Mayor Datuk Mazalan Md Noor said MBSA received the directive from the State Economic Planning Unit to approve the land conversion on Dec 9. “Fairy Park’s management had already submitted their application to convert the land and had settled 16 summonses amounting to RM136,000 in fines,” said Mazalan. These include five summonses for RM25,000 and 11 for RM1,000 issued by MBSA’s engineering, building and enforcement department . However, he said the premium that must be paid by the company to convert the  land from agriculture into commercial use is still being determined by the Land and Mines Department.

Merry Christmas

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Morning

DECEMBER 24 — 26, 2010

Selangor WeaTHer
Friday Saturday Sunday

Selangor says no to nuclear power
By Yasleh Hani Mat Yassin

afternoon

night

Source: Malaysian meteorological department

Faekah: Don’t blame us over surau issue
SHAH ALAM: The Sate Government says it should not take the blame over a controversial land takeover that will affect the status of  Surau Al-Hidayah, Rawang. Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim’s political secretary, Faekah Husin, told Selangor Times that the surau land plot was given to a private company eight years ago under the Barisan Nasional Government. Despite that, she said the state would ensure that Kampung Melayu Pekan Rawang residents have a place of worship despite notification to demolish or relocate the existing surau for a development project which was approved in 2002. According to her, the state did not intend to blame former Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo, who recently clarified that the land was sold to a private company in 2000 by his predecessor, and not in 2002 under his tenure. “The most important thing is, it is not us who sold the land to the private company back then... and I am not attacking (Dr Khir) or anyone else,” she said. The residents recently staged a demonstration and accused the current government of selling the plot of land to a private company for development, which will result in a demolition of their 100-year-old surau. Faekah said the land was owned by a private company, SAP Holdings Sdn Bhd, which is running the development project with another private entity Mahumas Sdn Bhd. She said SAP Holdings was a state subsidiary under Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Berhad (KDEB). “But the Barisan Nasional Government had allowed KDEB to release their shares in SAP Holdings Berhad to private ownership,” she explained. She blamed the BN for releasing the KDEB shares in SAP Holdings Berhad to private ownership. “And the current shareholders are mostly from MCA...so this matter is completely between Umno and MCA,” she said. She said it was also in 2002 that the BN approved the development proposal by SAP and Mahumas on the Rawang land, including the lot that was gazetted for the surau. Meanwhile, Surau Al-Hidayah Action Committee president Bing Selamat Amir said that the matter would be resolved amicably by the weekend. “I was told that the private company will resolve the matter by this weekend, so there is no need for us to stage a demonstration,” he told Selangor Times.

SHAH ALAM: Selangor is maintaining its stand that nuclear power plants will not be tolerated in the state due to public safety and because better alternatives exist. The state was responding to Putrajaya’s statement that it aimed to have two nuclear power plants up and running by 2022. “We reiterate our stance .... no Malaysian should be exposed to these unnecessary risks,” said a state spokesman. The spokesman said Selangor was the

Housewife declared dead, loses EPF money
By Alvin Yap

first to object to the plan when it was first announced in Oct 2008. He said Selangor was opposed to any nuclear power project in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak, and called for the country to be declared a nuclear free zone. The state added that Putrajaya seemed intent on “forcing nuclear power on Malaysia, irrespective of public opinion”, comparing the move to the controversial Bakun Dam. He said the dam was a white elephant and waste of public money. “Just like the dam, nuclear power will be another

economic and environmental disaster for the country.” The state also criticised Putrajaya for not keeping its promise made earlier this year that a ‘comprehensive study’ would be conducted before any move was made on nuclear power. Green energy options like wind, solar and biomass were supposed to be considered alongside. “But where is this study? Instead the nuclear power plans have quietly doubled to two plants after being laundered through the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).”

SUBANG JAYA: All was lost for Sarasvathi Chellayaya when she discovered her Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contribution was cleared out after she was declared dead. “I am telling my story to the press because I don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” said the housewife. Speaking at a press conference with Subang Jaya assemblywoman Hannah Yeoh, the 56-year-old woman recalled her ang uish at finding out that RM56,000 of her hard-earned money was missing. Sarasvathi claimed that the money was taken out by an unidentified Sikh man bearing a death certificate that declared she had died of old age in May 2008. Saravasthi, who went to the EPF head office in Jalan Raja Laut in Kuala Lumpur on Dec 15, was informed that a lump-sum withdrawal was made in April 15 this year at the same location. She alleged that the EPF officials told her not to highlight the case to the press. “They told me to give them two weeks to check my case, but not to go to the newspapers and they would pay me the money that I had lost and a few thousand more on top,” said Sarasvathi. Sarasvathi and her daughter later approached National Registration Department (NRD) officials who

Sarasvathi (left) with her daughter Thaveayogamalar (right) and Yeoh at the press conference yesterday.

printed out her death certificate. It stated that the same Sikh man had identified her “body” to the medical officer at the General Hospital in Kuala Lumpur. Furthermore, the death certificate stated Sarasvathi as having died at a location in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur. She was adamant that she had always stayed in her house in USJ. “There are a lot of documents that have been falsified for this withdrawal. The authorities have to check this out as there are a lot of discrepancies involved,” said Yeoh.

When contacted EPF general manager for public relations Nik Affendi Jaafar said in such cases, money is only released after verification from NRD. EPF also obtained the orginal death certificate. “We have rechecked the case with NRD and their records still show that Sarasvathi is dead.” In addition he said the money was relased to an individual nominated by her. Nik Affendi denied claims EPF offered to “settle the case” if she didn’t go to the press.

phone (603) 5523 2288 fax (603) 5523 1188 email editor@selangortimes.com

EDITORIAL
CHIEF EDITOR COMMUNITY EDITOR WRITERS

KL Chan

Neville Spykerman

Tang Hui Koon, Chong Loo Wah, Gan Pei Ling, Alvin Chin, Lee Choon Fai, William Tan, Alvin Yap, Yasleh Hani Mat Yassin COPY EDITORS James Ang, Deborah Loh
DESIGNER

Jimmy CS Lim Victor Chong Evelyne Low

PHOTOGRAPHER ADVERTISING ADVISORS

Faekah Husin, Arfa’eza Abdul Aziz

PETALING JAYA: Irate councillors are calling for firmer steps to rid the city of illegal advertisements promoting sex toys, services and aphrodisiacs. “These advertisements are everywhere. We tear them down and the next day, the signs are up again,” said Derek Fernandez. Fernandez, who was speaking at the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) full board meeting on Wednesday, lashed out at Alam Flora for not removing the signages. He said if the solid waste contractor was not up to the task, then the job should be given to the MPBJ enforcement unit. Fernandez pointed out that enforcement officers could easily carry out the task while on their rounds. “While clamping a car, or towing it away, they can just go and remove the signages,” he said. Fernandez added that he had resorted to removing the signages himself but the advertisers had wised up. “Before, they used to glue them. It could still be ripped off; now, they use wires to tie them to traffic light poles,” he said. Councillor Tew Way Keng said MBPJ’s incentive to encourage the public to remove the offensive signages had also failed. A  70 sen reward is being offered to anyone who

PJ councillors see red over ‘naughty’ signages
hands these advertisements to their respective neighborhood watch or resident associations but the response has been disappointing. The idea was suggested in 2008 and approved in 2009 but was not widely publicised. However, Fernandez   said the campaign was not the right step. “These people who put up these advertisements are likely to be gangsters. What if someone is seen by them while taking down the signages?” Fernandez and Tew agreed that a “sure way” to fight the advertisers was to block the telephone numbers in the advertisements. Tew said she had approached the Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to have the telephone numbers disconnected. “We gave them 100 numbers, but only 10 were disconnected, “ she said.

SELANGOR TIMES ⁄ DECEMBER 24 – 26, 2010 ⁄ 3

Unveiling a brand new look @ a new location
Kuwait Finance House is proud to announce that our Shah Alam branch is relocating, and will be opened on 27th December! The move symbolises a shift in our focus towards the retail and consumer segments, and with the branch’s fresh new appearance, our commitment to provide you with an even more conducive banking environment. Do drop by for an experience of the refined KFH. Our new Shah Alam branch will be at: Unit 3/5, Jalan Plumbum S7/S, Pusat Komersial Seksyen 7, Seksyen 7, 40000 Shah Alam, Selangor Darul Ehsan. Tel: 03 20567635 For more information, please call our Contact Centre at 03-2056 7777. Or log on to www.kfh.com.my

BRANCHES: Kuala Lumpur Pavilion Shah Alam Klang Johor Bahru BUREAU DE CHANGE: Kuala Lumpur International Airport KL Sentral Station

Penang Kuching Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT)

Pavilion

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DECEMBER 24 — 26, 2010

EvEnts
Rock Festival
Rock The World is a yearly concert organised by Fat Boys Records to introduce and provide a platform for new and established talents. Annually, 15,000 - 20,000 rock music enthusiasts crowd the concert to support local talent. This year, Rock The World is back again with a celebrative mood as it marks its 10th year anniversary! Event starts from 10am till late on Dec 26. Tickets are available at Ticketpro outlets (03-7880 7999), Rock Corner, Music Valley and at the venue for RM30. Venue: Bukit Jalil Stadium (Carpark A)

Abandoned project revived

Move to reduce crime rate
shah alam:: The Shah Alam Municipal Council (MBSA) has proposed community policing to reduce crime in neighbourhoods. Safe City programme planning officer Hamzah Tajuddin told the council at its full board meeting on Wednesday that involving the Residents’ Associations (RAs) was pivotal in ensuring local security. He further suggested that RAs identify and list out neighbourhood watch programmes in their respective areas so that the residents can actively take part in the programme. Apart from neighbourhood watches, the security in MBSA areas also need to be beefed up by installing more closed-circuit televisions (CCTV). There are currently 24 CCTVs installed in areas under MBSA, including Sri Muda, Section 25, Section 2, Section 7 and Section 13. These areas have reportedly become hot spots for snatch thieves. In a related matter, Hamzah revealed that MBSA had recorded a significant drop in the area’s overall crime rate by 15.74% this year, surpassing the national target of five percent. Speaking later to the reporters, Shah Alam mayor Mazalan Md Nor said the overall drop in crime rates have shown that the council’s effort in fighting crimes have been successful.

Indian Jewels Exhibition
Treasury of the World: Jeweled Arts of India in the Age of the Mughals is an exhibition showcasing jewels which have seen the inside of the Louvre, the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York on their world tour over the last ten years. The exhibition is in Kuala Lumpur until Dec 31. ‘Treasury of the World’ is made up of pieces from the Mughal court (1568 – 1858). Opens 10am to 6pm daily and admission is RM12 for adults and RM6 for students. Venue: Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, Jalan Lembah Perdana, KL

Buyers casting their vote. Inset: Yam

Art Exhibition
Titled ‘Inception, Continuity and Beyond’, the exihibition showcases the works of 47 artists from Malaysia, China, Taiwan and Thailand. Over 80 kaleidoscopic artworks using techniques like ink, watercolour, batik, ceramic, sculpture and printmaking are featured. This exhibition runs until Dec 31. Visiting hours are from Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 8pm. Admission is free. Venue: Pusat Elken, No. 10 & 12, 2nd and 3rd Floor, Jalan 1/137C, Batu 5, Jalan Kelang Lama, KL.

By Gan Pei Ling

Kuala Lumpur Children’s Book Fair 2010
Secretariat of the National Book Council of Malaysia (MBKM) is holding the inaugural Kuala Lumpur Children’s Book Fair (KLCBF) 2010 from Dec 22 to 26. The fair opens from 10am to 9pm. In addition to the thousands of great books to browse through and purchase, the KLCBF 2010 offers various stage activities. Admission is free. Venue: Tun Razak Hall 3, Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur.

i-City New Year Celebrations
A three-day carnival will be held at i-City to celebrate the New Year, starting from Dec 29 and will end after the countdown on the night of New Year’s Eve. Attractions slated for the celebration include the indoor snowland which opens to the public on Dec 29, presentations from local artiste, performances by various local authorities and participating schools.  

All Martial Arts Exhibition

The two-day public exhibition on Dec 30 and 31 is a family event with activities suited to both young and old, and prizes to be won. Athletes will showcase the various martial arts including Ninjitsu, Judo, Silat, Kendo, Wushu, Taekwondo and Muay Thai (Tomoi) with the latter being the core of the event. Visiting hours are from 10am to 4pm. Venue: Telekomuzium, Jalan Raja Chulan, Kuala Lumpur (next to Maybank Tower)

Rantai Art Festival
Rantai Art Festival 2010 returns to Kuala Lumpur from Dec 20-26 with the theme “GRAVITY”. See, feel, hear, touch and experience arts like no other. For more information, visit www.rantai-art.blogspot.com or call Hakim Alias at 012 648 4038. Venue: National Art Gallery.

subang jaya: Relief is in sight for buyers of an abandoned serviced apartments here, after they opted to appoint a new developer to revive the Newgate 21 project. At a meeting at Holiday Villa last Saturday, most of the owners voted to allow Sumbangan Lagenda to rehabilitate the project in USJ 21, which was abandoned  a decade ago. Nik Aslah Nik Daud and her husband, who used their savings to buy their unit, were among those looking forward to finally see Newgate 21 built. “I’m very happy the project is starting again. We planned to move into the unit originally, but now we just hope they can complete the project,” said the 63-year-old retiree from USJ 6. The project was first abandoned by Solarglow in 2000, and later by  Pinggiran Setia in 2006. Of the 1,000 units, fewer than 100 remain unsold. Most are commercial lots. In September 2008, creditor RHB Bank appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Advisory Services to help revive the project. Subsequently, Sumbangan Lagenda won the open tender facilitated by PwC. Sumbangan Lagenda managing director Jason Yam said they would need about RM50 million to complete the construction of the four blocks of 24-storey apartments and a three-storey retail podium. In addition, Sumbangan Lagenda will partner property investment fund Amanah Raya or its subsidiary to revive the project.

“If everything falls into place, we should be able to resume construction after Chinese New Year,” said Yam. PwC Advisory Services executive director Victor Saw said  under the new rehabilitation scheme, purchasers can choose to keep or surrender their units back to Sumbangan Lagenda. Saw said those who choose to keep their units have to pay an additional 25% of their units’ original purchase price to cover the rising costs of construction. To safeguard the purchasers’ interest, the top-up of 25% collected will be kept by an independent stakeholder, and only released to the developer upon the project’s completion. If Sumbangan Lagenda failed to complete the project,  the collected amount will be returned in full, together with interests earned, to the purchasers. Alternatively, purchasers who choose to surrender their units will receive an 80% refund of their total payments made to date. The apartment units were originally sold at RM70,000 to RM150,000. Julia, from Kuala Lumpur, said she took a bank loan to buy one of the apartment units for RM100,000 10 years ago. Sumbangan Lagenda is required to complete the project within 30  months after commencement. State executive councillor Teresa Kok,   who helped resolve the problem, advised buyers to keep their units as an LRT line and a five-star hotel will be built around the area later. Subang assemblywoman Hannah Yeoh hosted the meeting. Also present was Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo.

Hard work pays off for farmer
shah alam:: It is not a dream job for most people - working in the mid-day heat and getting little returns. But 59-year-old Samsudin Husaini has proven that being a farmer in an isolated village can pay dividends. Samsudin, who has been in the agriculture industry since he was a little boy, was awarded a grand prize of RM50,000 by the state government for the ‘Best Paddy Yield Administration Project’ at this year’s Farmers Day on Tuesday. Refusing to take all the credit, Samsudin said he owed it all to his Tali Air 10 Committee, Sabak Bernam. The state government, through its Agriculture Development, Natural Resources and Entrepreneurial Development state executive councillor Yaakob Sapari, rewarded more than successful 20 farmers at the event. Earlier, Yaakob said the industry had expanded to its peak when the current income of farmers was upgraded from RM650 a month to a minimum of RM1,000 to RM1,500 a month. The event was opened by Tengku Sulaiman Shah Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz.

AkashA Malaysia Sophomore Album Launch
World music troupe, AkashA Malaysia, will release its second album “Karakoram Highway” with 10 new tracks. The album features guest musicians Wong Lee Hom (Hong Kong) and Red Chamber (Canada). The album launch will be on Jan 8, 2011 at 8.30pm, featuring new songs (and old favourites!) and other guest artiste collaborations. Admission is RM57. Purchase of the new album or the first album “Into AkashA” at the show will entitle you to a free AkashA live performance DVD (while stocks last). Venue: Pentas 1, The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC), Sentul Park, Jalan Strachan, KL

Move to legalise swiftlet breeders
shah alam:: Swiftlet breeders operating in shoplots can apply for temporary licences provided they comply with conditions and standards laid out by the local authorities. The temporary measure announced by state executive councillor Ronnie Liu will be in effect until standard guidelines are finalised. The lucrative but unregulated industry has been a bane to the public with operators not contributing to the community. “These breeders have been operating farms without paying any licensing fees and this has resulted in a loss of income for local authorities,” said Liu. The temporary licences are only for breeders operating in existing structures such as shoplots and will be in effect between January and July next year. Liu said currently most breeders are unregistered. Liu said the state was working with the State Department of Veterinary Services to formalise the guidelines which could take up to six months. However, he said councils would not entertain breeders who operate close to residential homes.

SELANGOR TIMES ⁄ DECEMBER 24 – 26, 2010 ⁄ 5

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deceMBeR 24 — 26, 2010

A filthy back lane in Kampung Cempaka during a visit on Dec 18. An MBPJ worker (in red) is telling a business owner to clean up around his premises or risk closure.

By William Tan

PETALING JAYA: Kampung Cempaka is one of the Petaling Jaya City Council’s (MBPJ) on-going headaches due to its illegal factories and unhygienic state. MBPJ councillor Cynthia Gabriel said illegal and haphazard development was the cause of the village’s problems. “Out of the 1,502 lots in this kampung, at least 600 of them are either running unlicensed businesses or have constructed illegal extensions, [or in many cases,] both,” she said during a site visit last Saturday. With her were MBPJ officers from the health, complaints, enforcement and building departments. Illegal development, she said caused the narrowing of roads as residents build onto them. Worse, she added, is when residents tamper with the drains by building on top of them or closing them with sheets of metal. This worsens the already poor drainage system in the area. MBPJ councillor Richard Yeoh, who also visited the village with Gabriel, said he was concerned that the backflow in drains could weaken

An eyesore as business owners dump unwanted items and rubbish indiscriminately.

Kampung Cempaka in need of rejuvenation
the soil around the area. “We don’t want to see a repeat of the Highland Towers incident especially when we have condos nearby,” he said. However, efforts to rectify the problems are proving to be difficult due to the development history of the town, which was established as a Chinese new village during the Communist insurgency in Malaysia. Businesses have mushroomed over time and many have now been running illegally for decades. Combined with poor planning and unchecked development, the area is now in a poor state. “[Residents have just] built what they wanted,” said village headman Peter Liew May On, adding that the residents’ mindset was difficult to change. Even residents who know the law are still unwilling to go through the formal procedures because of the time taken to obtain permits, Liew said. Gabriel said the MBPJ will enforce regulations on as many businesses as they can, including demolishing illegal buildings. One building already slated for demolition is an illegal four-storey building. Several other building owners have also been issued warnings and given deadlines to clean their businesses surroundings and register themselves with MBPJ. Next, MBPJ will clean up the back lanes and illegal dumping grounds. The long-term goal is to improve the drainage and general infrastructure. Plans to rejuvenate the area, however, may take years due to the funds needed, and competition for funding from other areas that also need redevelopment.

Students look to the past to move ahead
By Alvin Yap

KUALA LUMPUR: A new student movement has looked back to the student movement of the 1960s in its bid to address campus issues nationwide. The National Student Assembly (NSA), a group of undergraduates from private and public institutes of learning will be launching a forum and workshop for students.

The session on 11 Jan 2011 at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall  is called the Students’ Parliament. The one-day gathering will give participants a chance to voice their opinion on issues in campuses. Participants need to register online at the group’s website at www.pmn201212.com and can also take part in a survey on the issues they feel need to be addressed. NSA media officer, Dinesweri Pus-

NSA members (from left) Raymond Kwan, Amir Farid, Abu Abbas, Dineswen Puspanadan, Lydia Natasha, and Ng Chong Soon.

panadan, a final-year student at University Malaya, said that student movements of the ‘60s had united students from different ethnic groups to discuss student issues in campuses. “We are empowered. We read about the ‘60s student movement online. We don’t want to go to the streets to hold demonstrations but we want to solve problems like any intellectual group,” said Dinesweri in an interview on Monday. “The National Students Assembly aims to target 500 registrants and so far 250 students have already registered to attend the Students’ Parliament. Every student is given two to three minutes to speak on issues that they feel the campus authorities need to address.” A workshop will follow for the participants to form their own respective groups and develop “action plans” to solve each issue. “Everyone then votes on the action plans. As such, we’ve decided to call it the Students’ Parliament, as we hold to democratic principles where everyone has a view, and it must be heard, and that it counts,” said

Dinesweri. “We hope that this will give space to students [from any] side to voice their issues. We are independent of either pro-establishment or pro-opposition groups,” Dinesweri continued.   NSA has already identified some issues that students feel need to be raised. One of them is the lack of public transportation when classes end late at night. Another issue is the lack of Wi-Fi connections in campuses or hostels. “Some of us have to go to Starbucks, get a coffee, to be able to use the internet connection in order to study and carry our research,” said Dinesweri. Another issue that students are complaining about is the lack of proper places to gather and study together. “We need a place to study, especially when the examination period is around the corner. We have suggestions to have a 24hour library set up.” But who would staff the library? “That’s what the Students’ Parliament is for. [It is] the place to bring up issues and find ways to solve it,” said Dinesweri.

DECEMBER 24 — 26, 2010

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MBPJ explains flood mitigation delay
KOTA DAMANSARA: When it rains, it floods. The nightmare for every motorist at Persiaran Surian here should come to an end as the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) has promised to start its long-delayed flood mitigation project. The project was to have started on Nov 3, but MBPJ engineer Che Remi Tarman said that there was a lot of preliminary work that had not been completed in time. “We needed to make proper revisions. We do not want to spend so much money on something that will not work,” he told Selangor Times. Che Remi said a retention pond will be built in the area to prevent future flash floods. “I had a meeting with the contractor recently and he said the project will start in two weeks’ time. The construction will then take about three to four months,” he explained. According to him, MBPJ has also decided to raise the height of the main road to one metre to alleviate flooding on Persiaran Surian. The flood-prone Persiaran Surian is a popular route to the Mutiara Damansara town centre and to retail centres like The Curve and IKEA. A few months ago, flash floods submerged part of the road, causing massive traffic congestion in Kota Damansara. In July this year, Petaling Jaya mayor Datuk Roslan Sakiman said that an allocation of RM2 million has been set aside to mitigate flash floods in the area. Separately, Kota Damansara assemblyman Dr Nasir Hashim told Selangor Times that MBPJ “has been sitting on the project for too long” despite complaints lodged two years ago. “They only promised they would do something about it, but so far we have not seen any result...they have the money, so what’s stopping them?” he asked. As the area’s assemblyperson, he said he would continuously push for the project to be completed as many residents were affected. “We expect MBPJ to do something about it. If they don’t, it will look bad on us as if we have not done our job. All we want is to work on a cordial relationship with them,” said Nasir.

Know Your Councillors: Tan Sie Wai
By Lee Choon Fai

SHAH ALAM: An economics graduate, Tan Sie Wai (pic) has dedicated the last two years of his life serving to the people in this city. The 44-year-old councilor with the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) brings with him 15 years’ worth of administrative experience having worked as a senior manager with several multi-national companies. Tan, who is also an active blogger and social activist, is currently serving his third term as an MBSA councillor. “I am in charge of Zone 12,

which is Section 31 and Section 33 that includes Kota Kemuning and Kemuning Utama,” he said. He sees his main role as a channel of communication between the MBSA and residents. Tan says he wants to bring development to the community while improving the lives of residents. The most common public complaints he deals with involve illeg al dumping of g arbag e, potholes, spoilt street lights and trash collection.

“I look for ways to solve these issues and raise them at the city council’s f ull b oard meetings,” he said. He a lso reg ularly organises events to foster community ties, including celebrations of religious festivals and holidays. An active PKR member, Tan is also the special assistant to Sri Muda assemblyman Shuhaimi Shafie. On his days off, the father of three enjoys travelling and photography. He also blogs on a Facebook page called ‘True Reformis’.

New aid for the elderly and disabled
By Lee Choon Fai

PETALING JAYA: The disabled and the elderly can re-fit their bathrooms to be disabled friendly under Program Sejati by the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ). “This programme is the first of its kind in the local council, it has never been done before,” said MBPJ councillor Anthony Siva. He was at Taman Medan last Sunday participating in the ‘Back to School’ programme, where he was also promoting Program Sejati to residents. Anthony said the programme is aimed at the elderly and the disabled who are poor. Those who apply will have MBPJ engineers sent to their homes to inspect and

make necessary adjustments free of charge. Meanwhile, at the ‘Back to School’ event, some 500 students from PJS1 and PJS4 received school items such as school bags, shoes, stationery, water bottles, socks and vouchers to redeem school uniforms. “The objective of the program is to help the poor in their yearly education spending,” said Taman Medan assemblyperson Haniza Talha, who was present. Bukit Gasing assemblyperson Edward Lee also helped with the distribution of aid. The ‘Back to School’ program is held annually. The number of students in the PJS area who have received benefits from the programme have increased since its implementation in 2008 with 200 recipients, 400 in 2009, and 500 this year.

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deceMBeR 24 — 26, 2010

Benefits of pet sterilisation
Coaster Ham and her spayed cat, Tiki Tiki.

By Lee Choon Fai

Spayed pets better than stray ones
A successful pilot project to conduct free pet sterilisation in a bid to reduce unwanted puppies and kittens may soon be extended to other municipalities in Selangor. Last Sunday, 21 dogs and 13 cats were spayed for free by volunteer veterinarians in Taman Cheras Hartamas under the Save A Stray programme. The programme was initiated by Teratai Assemblyperson Jenice Lee and the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council. “We would like to extend the service but we are going to need funding and dedicated volunteers to come forward,” said Save A Stray founder Jacqueline Tsang. The non-government organisation has been an advocate of pet spaying to reduce the number of abandoned and stray animals. Tsang said more pet owners had to be educated about spaying. This practice is the norm in developed countries and is considered the most humane way to resolve the problem of strays. During the event, free medical checks, including de-worming, were given to all pets. Owners also received free pet food and obedience training guides for their pets. “We had 40 volunteers to help out in the event and 12 veterinarians carrying out the surgeries,” said Tsang. Organisers originally set a target of 50 pets to spay but had to turn away some because the animals were in poor condition and were not strong enough for surgery. However, owners of these pets can get them spayed at a later date for free. Volunteer veterinarian Dr Loh Che Mun said unwanted litters are the main cause of abandoned pets. “People usually own pets for security and companionship, but some people are getting pets for the wrong reasons. They don’t understand that it is a huge responsibility to have one,” said Dr Loh. Other causes of pet abandonment,

AmpANG: Owners who seized the opportunity to have their pets neutered and spayed for free are grateful that they no longer have to worry about unwanted litters. Coaster Ham, who brought her cat to be spayed at the Save a Stray programme in Taman Cheras Hartamas last Sunday, said her pet had given birth to three kittens two months ago and she wanted prevent more pregnancies. “She’s always goes around looking for mates. There was once where she jumped from my two-storey flat unit to look for a mate!” lamented the resident of Pandan Indah. Ham gave the thumbs up to the initiative and said pet owners should get their animals spayed instead of abandoning puppies and kittens. R. Selvi said her four-year-old dog, Sheba, has already had three litters and had given birth to the latest batch of seven puppies just a month ago. She only managed to find homes for four puppies and still has three at home. The 55 year-old kindergarten teacher said spaying Sheba was for the “greater good” because her neighbours have been complaining about the noise her dogs were making. Mak Sun Nam and his family brought their pet dog to be spayed as they did not want puppies nor did they want the hassle of finding homes for them. “In my opinion, if you cannot take care of so many pets at once then it’s best that you spay them. It is better that way,” said Mak. The 39 year-old technician is in favour of the programme and said more similar events should be organised. Jacqueline Tsang, founder of Save A Stray (SAS) which organised the programme together with the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) and the office of the Teratai Assemblyperson, said plans are already underway to continue the service at other locations.

An owner comforting his dog after it was spayed.

Dr Loh added, were getting the wrong breed, sickness, and difficulties faced in maintenance. Dr Loh was on hand to give owners advice on pet health care and to

educate people on the responsibilities involved in having a pet. Pets have to be regularly checked for illness and parasites that are not easily detected.

SELANGOR TIMES ⁄ DECEMBER 24 – 26, 2010 ⁄ 9

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Selangor, Penang budgets good grounds for future
also expects that with better revenue collection methods, state revenues and reserves will increase the following year. Penang’s government was especially proud of the flattering mention in Transparency International’s and the 2010 Auditor-General’s (A-G) reports of its efforts to heighten transparency in governance and increase efficiency in financial matters. The A-G report commended the state government for the increase in its accumulated fund of RM75mil in 2009 compared to 2008. Penang also registered a 1.4% increase in state revenue. As for Selangor, a newspaper report mistakenly quoted from the same A-G report that RM977.7mil was apparently missing from its state accounts, when only RM206mil remained to be adjusted. The full amount was in fact accumulated over a period of seven years. Furthermore, close to 90% of Selangor’s debts of RM829mil (due to loans taken from the federal government) were incurred when the previous administration decided to priva-

DECEMBER 24 — 26, 2010

By Tricia Yeoh

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elangor and Penang are the testing grounds for alternative and future styles of governance in Malaysia. What will be decisive in the long run is not the point-scoring in the daily rhetorical sniping that seems to be an inescapable part of two-coalition politics. What really matters is how well the state governments are run. The state budgets are therefore what analysts should be studying. Amid the political rhetoric, it is easy to forget that daily responsibilities continue for governments and bureaucrats. Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has suffered several recent shocks. There were the twin by-election losses in Galas and Batu Sapi, followed by the damage control required over Datuk Zaid Ibrahim’s decision to quit, first, the Parti Keadilan Rakyat elections, and then the party altogether. These events have occupied much media space. While PR’s political resilience is an absorbing issue, it is perhaps more important to examine the ways in which PR state governments are running their states respectively. This is a more appropriate reflection of how PR’s philosophies are translated into reality.

Let the figures speak The Penang and Selangor state assemblies tabled their respective 2011 budgets recently. As two states that contribute significantly to the nation’s wealth and economic development, it is in the interest of all stakeholders, including the Barisan Nasional(BN) Federal Government, to ensure that these states are properly managed in order to continue attracting domestic and foreign investment. A crucial aspect of this lies in the financial management of the states’ resources. Some common themes can be easily identified between the two state budgets. First, both states seem confident about developing more efficient financial management tactics, and eventually shoring up better state reserves in the mid to long-term. Penang table d a 2011 budg et of RM897.36mil, a 25.7% increase compared to its 2010 budget of RM713.79mil. Out of this, 38% contributes to operating expenditure (RM343.1mil) and 62% to development expenditure (RM554.26mil). Selangor tabled a 2011 budget of RM1.43bil, a 3.4% reduction from the 2010 budget of RM1.49bil. Out of this, 58% goes to operating expenditure (RM860mil) and 42% to development expenditure (RM600mil). Penang tabled a deficit budget of 12% for the year ahead, whilst Selangor tabled a balanced budget. The reason given for a deficit in Penang was the social welfare allocations for targeted groups like senior citizens, the hardcore poor, schools and religious programmes. However, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng stated that the deficit was funded by state reserves, and that he was confident the balance in the reserve funds would increase by the end of 2010 through cost-cutting measures and an increase in revenue. Selangor’s response was similar. Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said state revenues had exceeded its original estimates. He

tise its water services industry, a move the current government is attempting to reverse. Clearly, a deep financial mess was left behind in Selangor, which impacts upon present accounts.

The way ahead The 2011 budget speech shows how an array of measures have been taken and will continue to be taken, to increase state revenue further. This will mainly be via the collection of quit rent arrears through land and district offices. Selangor has also successfully collected RM390mil in debts owed it by the Talam Corporation, and has used part of this to start its microcredit scheme for small-time entrepreneurs and the poor. Second, both states highlighted the need for a specific roadmap and blueprint to outline

and achieve their vision. These are mentioned in the respective leaders’ speeches. The Penang Blueprint is being prepared by the state think-tank, the Socio-Economic and Environmental Research Institute (SERI), and is soon to be unveiled. The Agenda Rakyat Selangor (Selangor People’s Agenda), prepared by the state’s Economic Planning Unit and the Menteri Besar’s Office, is to be launched at the beginning of next year. Although the documents are not yet published, the budget speeches give a good indication of their contents. Although the methods may differ, both roadmap documents are a result of extensive consultations with various stakeholders and representatives of the business world, civil society, and the larger community. In promoting the economy, both states pinpointed similar industries to focus on. The areas most discussed are the industrial sector, tourism, infrastructure and utilities, agriculture and livestock, trade and consumer affairs, education, the environment, job creation, liveable cities, public transport, cleanliness and safety, urban renewal, rural development, and selected land reform measures. Both Penang and Selangor also focused on policies aimed at clean, green, sustainable and liveable environments for citizens. Both recognise that any economic growth will require comfortable urban living which will in turn attract investment. The two states are of course very different in makeup; their population size, pressing needs and expectations, existing infrastructure and proposition points vary. But the direction towards sustainable living is found in both their agendas. This list may seem like a hodgepodge of issues that throws in everything and anything possible – especially when state governments today have limited purview over major policies due to the increasing centralisation of federal power. However, the states’ interest on many of these issues is necessary and there are attempts at tackling some of the more difficult problems faced by the people. For example, handling crime or public transport is not necessarily the responsibility of a state government but because people consider these priority areas, both Penang and Selangor have taken the initiative to outline their end-goals.

Some of these may involve working closely with the Performance and Management Unit (Pemandu) under the Prime Minister’s Department. Despite justified criticism of the latter’s ostentatious budget, some bipartisanship will be needed.

Charting a different path Prevalent within both documents is also the emphasis on good governance, transparency and accountability. The theme of “competency, accountability and transparency” continues, cutting across all layers of administration. Both state governments have taken bold strides towards the Freedom of Information Enactment, started open tenders for new contracts, and championed the rule of law. Selangor has initiated the Integrity Pact for state companies such as Kumpulan Semesta Sdn Bhd and Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Selangor (PKNS). These were announced in the budget speeches, and are expected to be discussed in the blueprints. Finally, both state governments strongly focus on social welfare programmes. Manifestos from Pakatan parties announced before general elections in March 2008 contained demands for better social safety nets, which the state governments have been trying to live up to. As a result, both states adopted policies aimed at assisting the elderly, Chinese and Tamil language schools, the disabled, religious schools, and mosques and religious teachers. Selangor has some additional welfare benefits for victims of domestic abuse and children of estate workers, a fund for all children born in the state, and a policy of free water for the first 20m3 used per household. State governments are in an awkward position as they do not have authority in determining broad economic policy. Still, more will be expected of the PR states in determining an economic model distinctively different from the BN style of mega-projects and financial handouts. It is positive to note that both Selangor and Penang have common goals and ideals in attracting investment, and making their states liveable and sustainable. More could certainly be done in collaboration with the other PR states to create an economic and investment corridor. This would then show that in Malaysia’s development, there are alternatives to pumping RM5bil into a 100-storey tower. – Penang Economic Monthly
Tricia Yeoh is research officer to the Menteri Besar of Selangor.

DECEMBER 24 — 26, 2010

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’m not a fan of seminars. Chances are, if you are a young person like me, you’re not, too. Seminars, conferences and the like rarely attract young people. They are dull affairs meant for adults. They’re boring, too long and irrelevant. Chances are, you would rather watch How I Met Your Mother re-runs or do some Facebook stalking, than to participate in a seminar on Indigenous People’s rights. However, since I was getting tired at how it never was the “mother” that Ted was dating on his shows, and since I had been refreshing my Facebook Home page five times without seeing anything new, I decided to go for the seminar on 2 Dec. There, a lawyer, a non-government organisation leader and two Datuks spoke. Hardly a Paramore concert. I sat through listening to passionate speeches about the Orang Asli being robbed of their land and livelihood. I cringed when the organisers conducted the entire seminar in English, knowing full well that the Orang Asli contingent present could not understand. I also face-palmed when the other Datuk congratulated the first Datuk for ‘helping’ the Orang Asli. And I was angered to know that the Orang Asli teenager sitting next to me was robbed of an education. Yet, I did not regret attending the event. In fact, I was even glad I went through all the unpleasant feelings. Fluffy as it sounds, I felt my consciousness awakened, my drive rekindled. Because I had met vocal and inspiring individuals who bravely questioned the authorities and private corporations’ lack of accountability. I found a role model in the form of Steven Thiru, Co-Chair of the Bar Council Orang

Engaging youths beyond Facebook
Asli Sub-Committee. His Organisers can invite speech radiated genuine youth leaders to be part enthusiasm; he made huof the panel, to represent man rights sound cool. the views of youths. LecLee Lian Kong Observing him, he showed turers can also make it me, a law student, a viable part of their course for career option as a human rights lawyer to be students to attend certain events to earn the voice for the voiceless, resurrecting the credit. Universities can organise field trips and idealist in me. companies can direct younger employees to At this point, cynical adults reading this participate in the corporate social responsibilwill pooh-pooh what I’m writing. Laughingly, ity department. they will brush this of as passing ‘youthful These seminars need not just be about exuberance’. Meanwhile, my contemporaries speeches, exchanging name cards, speeches will label me as overzealous, and more speeches. Music nerdy and even, crazy. How can be incorporated. Organisers can she miss American Idol Didn’t singers like Rage to go for these boring Against the Machine and can invite youth events?! Bob Marley cause the politileaders to be Both parties have valid cal awakening of many part of the panel, points but both also underyouths? to represent the estimate the value youth But this cuts both ways. views of youths. participation can bring to Youths too, must take the Lecturers can these events. Thousands of initiative and respond to the youths will voluntarily atchanges. Oh, but you say, also make it part tend a rock concert, but of their course for there’s Facebook! I have very few will turn up for a meet, The Karstudents to attend friends to watch and homehuman rights seminar. At dashians to certain events to least, not by free will. work to do! earn credit.” It need not be this way. To my fellow youths, I

YouthologY

say: Break away from your daily routine. Bring your friends along. Watch the sit-com reruns. Your homework will benefit from the insight you gain from attending these seminars anyway. Oh, but you say, there’s Universities & University Colleges Act 1971, I can be expelled from school! But did you know, that did not stop 5,000 university students from gathering to pressure the government over widespread poverty in Baling, Kedah, in 1974. But you, say, it’s dull! Then take the initiative and inject some fun into it. After all, if youths do not know how to have fun, who does? Don’t think that the effect of these event stops with a one-off, inspirational feeling which will be forgotten the next day. Who knows what seed might be planted? It could be the start of a domino effect. If both youths and the adults who organise these events make changes, then human rights seminars can be exciting, beneficial and dare I say it, fun! Lee Lian wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. She welcomes all feedback and Christmas dinner invitations at leeliankong@gmail.com.

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12 DECEMBER 24 — 26, 2010

InsIght

Women’s tales of regret

By Gan Pei Ling

Parents: Adoption a viable option
FOR couples who have been trying to conceive a child for a long time but have not been successful, adoption is often the next best choice. Shahrir, 31, and Norziah, 26, decided to adopt a child after being married for four years. They stumbled upon OrphanCARE when they were surfing the Internet for more information on how to adopt a child. They registered with the nongovernmental organisation early this year and after waiting for a few months, adopted their first baby boy last June. Similarly, Norhan and Hani, both 29 turned to adoption after having been married for three years. They adopted their baby girl through OrphanCARE last July. The couple found out about OrphanCARE from the Social Welfare Department. The couple decided to go for adoption because they wanted a child before they were 30. Hani admitted that even though her parents have been ver y enc oura g ing , her friends had questioned their decision to adopt a baby. “They think we should continue trying because we’re still young. But our plan was to have a child before 30 and we decided to stick to our plan,” she said. Both couples did not expect to be able to adopt a child only a few months after they were put on the waiting list as they have heard stories about couples who have had to wait for years. They were shocked but happy. “We were the fifth couple on the list. Incidentally, the couples before us were not available at that time. “I believe it’s fate,” said Shahrir over the telephone. The executive producer said he took a whole week off from work to help his wife prepare for the arrival of his baby boy into their home. They did not meet the baby’s biological parents as OrphanCARE helped the couples to take care of the adoption legal procedures. “We were so happy to see the baby. He was so cute and adorable,” said first-time father, whose joy could be heard clearly through the phone. Shahrir said their families have been very supportive so far, adding that some of their relatives have adopted children as well. “It’s not a strange thing for us. It’s been a really positive experience so far. You just feel like, the future is bright,” said Shahrir. He added that he and his wife want to focus on this child first and would only consider adopting or having a second child after a few years. Meanwhile, Norhan and Hani also expressed the same sentiments. “We want to give our baby girl our full concentration for the next three years,” said Norhan. The civil servant added that they have bought insurance and are saving for their child’s future education. However, his wife Hani, an office administrator, admitted that she was a little worried at first if they could cope with the newborn. “But the moment I saw her at the hospital, I knew I was ready to be a mother,” said the first-time mother. The couple had to take turns to wake up every two hours at night to feed their baby girl during the first few months. “It’s better now as she can differentiate day and night,” said Hani. Her mother takes care of the child when both of them are at work. “She can recognise people now and she’ll cry every morning when I go to work. “The most memorable moment for me so far was when I called her name and she smiled at me for the first time,” Hani recalled fondly. Hani advised couples who are considering adoption to ignore negative feedback from others. “Others may warn you against it, saying the child will not be of your keturunan but don’t be afraid. If you really want to adopt a child, just go for it,” said Hani. Norhan said that adopted children are given surnames designated by government authorities. “I’m sure she will notice it sooner or later but we want to be the ones to tell her when the time comes. Right now, we just want her to grow up happily,” said the father. “She doesn’t have to grow up to be an architect or doctor. I only want her to be able to differentiate right from wrong. “The rest she has to think for herself and she should have her own dream,” said the mother. 

ince 2004, 571 baby-dumping cases have been recorded with Selangor having the highest number at 147, or 26 per cent, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said in Parliament last week. In addition, police said 86 babies had been found abandoned this year. However, these are only the reported cases. The actual number may be higher. Why are people abandoning their babies? Selangor Times spoke to two mothers who chose to give up their babies to adoptive parents at OrphanCARE. Ain, a 21-year-old from Johor Bahru, is due to deliver a baby girl this month. Then, there is Siti, a 32-year-old civil servant from Kedah who gave birth to a baby boy this month. (Ain and Siti are pseudonyms to protect the women’s real identity.) Ain found out about OrphanCARE from her aunt who applied to adopt a child while Siti discovered the organisation that set up the country’s first baby hatch from newspaper reports. Would these two young women have aborted or abandoned their babies if they did not find a place like OrphanCARE that help them find adoptive parents? This we would never know. But by sharing their stories, we get a glimpse of the lives of these two young women, how they end up with unwanted pregnancies, and how they are doing their best to cope with it despite society’s stigma. Both young women have to deal with the pregnancies themselves as their boyfriends deserted them. Ain, 21, nine-months pregnant, said: “I met my ex-boyfriend at my previous workplace. He is the same age as me. We were together for about nine months. One night, I stayed over at his parents’ house and he entered my room while I was sleeping. I think he was drunk. I couldn’t really remember what happened that night. I didn’t want to have sex with him. “Initially I thought of lodging Caretaker Rochelle Ancheta feeding a baby. a police report after the incident, but later I found out he also made another girl pregnant. I broke up

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with him in March this year. “Later during Hari Raya, I felt there was something strange with my body. My friend accompanied me to a clinic and I discovered that I had been pregnant for seven months. I was shocked. “I didn’t know how to tell my parents or my exboyfriend. My friend told my boss about my pregnancy. He was very understanding. He didn’t scold me but asked me about the guy who made me pregnant. “After that, he helped me talk to my parents. My parents were really angry in the beginning. They took me to see my ex-boyfriend’s parents the next day. Both parents wanted me to marry my ex-boyfriend but they dropped the idea after finding out that he had made another girl pregnant,” said Ain. “I couldn’t tell my ex-boyfriend about my pregnancy myself because I would have got really angry if I saw him. So my friend told him about my pregnancy but he didn’t want to take responsibility. “After I found out about OrphanCARE from my aunt, I resigned from my job and came to Kuala Lumpur with my parents and aunt. My former boss has been very

supportive. He would call once in a while to find out how I was doing and asked if I would like to return to work. “I will return to JB after I deliver the baby girl but I think I will find a new job because almost all my ex-colleagues know what happened to me.” Siti, 32, delivered her baby early this month. “I met my ex-boyfriend when he was studying in a private college in Kedah. We didn’t use condoms when we had sex. I didn’t use other birth control methods because I thought I wouldn’t get pregnant so easily at my age. “When I found out I was pregnant, I told my ex-boyfriend but he changed his phone number and disappeared after that. I didn’t know what to do with the baby. I have thought of abortion, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. I came across OrphanCARE when I was reading the papers. Then I thought it’s better to give my baby to a couple who really want one but couldn’t. “I called OrphanCARE and also checked out their website before coming here. After deciding to come here, I told my family about my pregnancy. They were angry but they agreed with my decision to give the baby away because I don’t have the financial capability to raise a child and the people in my kampong would gossip. I will go back to Kedah after OrphanCARE finds adoptive parents for my baby boy.” The baby hatch in OrphanCare was launched in May to provide a safe haven for mothers or couples who might otherwise abandon their babies. Its introduction attracted controversy as some parties claimed the hatch might encourage people to abandon their babies. However, OrphanCARE deputy president Noraini Hashim told Selangor Times they just wanted to provide a safe alternative for people with unwanted pregnancies. In addition, there are many couples who are interested to adopt newborn babies. Noraini said there were currently around 400 parents on their waiting list, and they have successfully arranged for 20 adoptions of newborn babies. The organisation also plans to set up a second hatch but is still looking for a suitable location. “The hatch must be in a place where the mothers feel safe to place their babies. If they’re fearful of repercussions, they won’t use it,” Noraini said. In addition, two hospitals have approached them to help set up baby hatches at their hospitals. “Sometimes, mothers deliver their babies and leave. Ideally, all hospitals should have a baby hatch,” Noraini said.

OrphanCARE here to help not judge
ORPHANCARE made national and even international headlines when it set up the first baby hatch in the country in May this year. Seven months down the road, its deputy president Noraini Hashim said they have received 20 newborns, all of which have been adopted. “Initially we thoug ht the mothers would just put their babies in the hatch and run off. Because usually these babies are born out of wedlock. “Surprisingly, only one has done so. The rest chose to come see us and some even came with their boyfriends. I think they wanted to make sure their babies were in safe hands,” said Noraini. She said these people are usually in their early 20s. Some mothers came while still pregnant while others came after delivery. OrphanCARE prefers couples or mothers to walk in as it smoothens the adoption process. The couples or mothers’ identity would be protected. Otherwise, a baby left in the hatch without proper identification would be considered stateless. She said a couple from Malacca adopted the only child that was put in the hatch and is currently applying for citizenship for the child. Noraini added that they will provide counselling for the couples or mothers who want to give up their babies to ensure that they know what they are doing. She cited an instance where a couple that was going to get married this year decided to give up their baby due to financial constraints. “We counselled them and gave them one week to re-consider their decision. In the end they still decided they couldn’t keep the baby. “But by then they were already quite attached to the baby. They were crying when they had to part with their baby,” Noraini recalled. Despite that, she said most couples and mothers want to move on with their lives after giving up their babies. She said only one or two would request to see the baby again. A meeting would then be arranged at OrphanCARE. “But we don’t encourage it because such meetings can be stressful for the adoptive parents,” Noraini explained. She added that OrphanCARE conducts interviews with potential adoptive parents who have reg istere d with them e ver y Saturday. OrphanCARE would consider the couples’ income level, years of marriage and their background to assess whether they are ready and capable to adopt a child. In addition, the adoptive parents must be willing to pay for the delivery fees of the baby. Noraini said priority is given to childless couples and they would try to match Muslim babies with Muslim parents and non-Muslim babies with non-Muslim parents. She highlighted that couples are generally more interested to adopt newborns compared to older orphans. OrphanCARE was originally set up in 2009 to match orphans with interested parents. They have helped nine couples to adopt children from orphanage Penyayang Bakti to date. “Some couples have complained to us why it takes so long to adopt a child. I appeal to couples or mothers to come to us. “Don’t abandon your baby. We’re not here to judge you. We just want to ensure the well-being of your child,” she said. 

A worker attending to a baby at OrphanCARE.

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deceMBeR 24 — 26, 2010

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santa Claus glamorous
human rights lawyers
The complainant is called the whistleblower (and not the blower of whistles). The term “public officer” covers anybody in government including judges and members of parliament. The significance of this Act is that it provides protection to the information disclosed as well as the whistleblower and anybody related or associated with him, except his pets, and his in-laws. Don’t think about messing with a whistleblower because it’ll cost a maximum fine of RM 100,000.00 and a maximum imprisonment of 15 years (prison sodomy not included). So what are you waiting for? Stop blowing your whistle and get whistleblowing already! My Lord, what is crossing the line between lawyers genuinely fighting for “human rights” or just “gila glamour”? @babychats, via Twitter. Line? There is no line. Human rights lawyers
Ask Lord Bobo is a weekly column by LoyarBurok (www.loyarburok.com) where all your profound, abstruse, erudite, hermetic, recondite, sagacious, and other thesaurusdescribed queries are answered!

hat’s your take on the Whistleblower Protection Act? @j_stratslinger, via Twitter. Any Malaysian who wishes to blow a whistle should have to do so at his own risk. That is because whistles can be annoying if used in a loud or distracting manner, for example, while conducting open heart surgery, or in a library. Such Malaysians should consider blowing other things like flutes, French horns, didgeridoos, or balloons. Speaking of balloons, we’ve noticed that balloons these days tend to be made out of thin, smelly rubber – what are these, recycled tayar celup? But if you’re into the Whistleblower Protection Act then it’s a different matter altogether. This is a law which came into force on Dec 15, 2010 (as opposed to blowing the whistle which existed since the time of whistles) and is designed to protect people who want to make a confidential complaint against a public officer.

have to fearlessly face an unsympathetic judiciary, oppressive police force and Orwellian Government. These lawyers are His Lordship’s lowly minions, subject to the pain of His whip and made to run helter skelter like headless chickens. Go liberate that reporter incarcerated for her own protection under the ISA. Interview those arrested for wearing black tee-shirts while they were milling around the Tree of Democracy. Use your tongue to scratch that itch south of His Supreme Eminence’s back while juggling this year’s 10 volumes of Malayan Law Journal and dancing the polka to Nine Inch Nails’ “Happiness In Slavery”. All these for minimal pecuniary return. The only upside is the chance that fame will come along. Only those crazy for glamour (and who cannot think of any other way to get it) would contemplate such a lifestyle. Wait-a-minute, no, only those who are crazy, period! And who loves monkeys.

Does Santa Claus exist? @j_rubis, via Twitter. Santa Claus exists. Any ‘dungu’ who thinks otherwise should be detained without trial at His Lordship’s pleasure for harbouring deviant beliefs that threaten national security (or business profits from Christmas shopping, which is the same thing, really). What is the proof that he exists? The infamous Albert Camus said “I rebel, therefore I am.” Existence can only be proven by the things that we do, and not by the things that is based on pure belief. If the existence of God can be proven by enlisting the things God has indeed done; the only plausible conclusion is that there is a God. And so, what has Santa Claus done? Since time immemorial, Santa has been trespassing private property and invading chimneys to give free toys and food to needy orphans all over the world. He even owns a toy factory, which due to the rise of capitalism is now disguised under the name Toys R Us. His influence is so widespread that he has successfully induced companies worldwide to temporarily repudiate their profit making nature and emulate him by handing out free gifts during Christmas. Brilliant, eh? Considering the colour of his costume and his beard ala Karl Marx, Santa might just be a closet social democrat. Perhaps the biggest proof of his existence is the spirit that he has instilled in each and every one of our hearts in this festive season. A spirit that warms us up from within and makes us remember our families, kindness, comfort, love and peace. In line with this spirit, His Lordship wishes you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Although Lord Bobo already knows your question before you even knew you had a question, as a practical display of your true desire to have your query answered, His Supreme Eminenceness has graciously allowed you to communicate your questions by – • emailing asklordbobo@loyarburok.com, stating your full name, and a pseudonym if you wish the question to be published anonymously (and a good reason for anonymity). • tweeting your questions by mentioning @LoyarBurok and using the hashtag #asklordbobo. The first 100 questions published will receive LoyarBurok’s ONLY merchandise you ever need (worth a lot for humankind) courtesy of Selangor Times. Now, what the hell are you waiting for? Hear This and Tremblingly Obey (although trembling is optional if you are somewhere very warm)! Liberavi Animam Meam! I Have Freed My Spirit!

Bird menace in Sungai Buloh

DECEMBER 24 — 26, 2010

news 15

By Yasleh Hani Mat Yassin

SUNGAI BULOH: Crows and pigeons in the thousands are turning  trees at Bandar Baru Sungai Bulloh business centre black every evening and the public are appealing for action. “They usually start flying back at around 6pm and by 7pm the trees are full of them,” said Song Lian Wen to Selangor Times. The  53-year-old, who runs an aquarium shop in the area, described the din created by the birds as a “thundering noise” and added that business owners often have to raise their voices to speak to their customers. He said the birds would only quieten after 9pm. Another resident Sia Xiu Yue said the birds’ cawing is so loud that it can even be heard even when one is driving in the car. She also related another incident where her

car once had 10 bird droppings after she parked under the trees for only a few minutes. She added that she is forced to park the car as far away as possible from the trees after that incident. The situation has been so bad that motorist are now instinctively moving their cars every evening to avoid their cars from being “bombed” by the droppings. Business owners and residents have complained previously to the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) but the problem persists.  When contacted  MBSA public relations officer Shahrin Ahmad said that council will arrange for the trees in the area to be trimmed so that the birds will not nest in the area. He also advise the public in the area to work with MBSA to maintain cleanliness in the vicinity to discourage the crows and pigeons from foraging for food in the area.

MBPJ responds to rat problem
PETALING JAYA: Rats and stray cats are proving to be a nuisance to residents near the PKNS flats in Section 17, Petaling Jaya. Rats running in and out of houses and drains are a common sight in this residential area. Tracy Toh, who lives on Jalan 17/4, finds walking along the road there a challenge because she has to constantly look out for dead rats and live ones scurrying about. “Since July, I’ve complained several times about the rats and stray cats to the Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MBPJ), and directly e-mailed the director of the MBPJ’s health department,” said Toh who wonders whys she still has not seen evidence of any action being taken. On the contrary, the number of stray cats and rats numbers seem to be on the rise. “Apart from being a public health hazard, this situation is a visual disgrace. You can imagine my utter shame when I have guests from abroad visiting me and they see the squalor around my residential area,” said Toh. MBPJ press relations officer Zainun Zakaria said the city council was taking steps to address the problem. She said this includes a gotong royong to clean the area, and to poison the rats.  “This is an ongoing action and the results won’t be seen immediately,” she said.

Extra counters as MPK faces year-end rush
By William Tan

news 16

DECEMBER 24 — 26, 2010

KLANG: The Klang Municipal Council (MPK) will open mobile counters at two locations on a weekend till the end of December to help business owners renew their licences. “We hope this will make it easier for the 26,000 business owners in Klang and to prevent overcrowding here at the MPK” said MPK councilor Yew Boon Lye.  The extra counters will be located at Giant Super Market and Jaya Jusco at Bukit Tinggi, Klang. The booths will operate from 10am to 10pm every Saturday at Giant Super Market and every Sunday at Jaya Jusco. Almost all business and advertisement licences can be renewed at these counters. 

Orang Asli wants Putrajaya to revoke new policy
By Gan Pei Ling

Yew said that exceptions are the licences of certain businesses that require closer scrutiny, such as massage parlors, cyber cafes, entertainment outlets, and those dealing in scrap metal.  Owners of the above businesses will have to apply for a renewal at the MPK itself and be subject to some questioning and a possible inspection of their premises. Yew also said only 20% of businesses have renewed their licences as of Dec 16 and he expects a huge rush nearing the end of the month. Notices with information about the extra counters were sent out to all business owners in Klang at the end of November. For more details, please call 03-3371 6044 or 03-3375 5555, extensions 6308 or 8307.

A long queue at the MPK on Dec 15 as business owners try to renew their licenses.

Orang Asli at the convention wearing t-shirts saying “Iktiraf tanah Orang Asli” and abolish the new land policy.

KUALA LUMPUR: Putrajaya must revoke its new land policy that has failed to recognise the Orang Asli’s native customary land rights, said Orang Asli communities. “If this new land policy is implemented, the Orang Asli will lose more than 80,000 hectares of reserve lands.   “The federal government should recognise our land rights and gazette the existing 128,000 hectares of Orang Asli land,” said Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia secretary Tijah Yok Chopil.   Over 3,000 Orang Asli had marched to Putrajaya in March to protest against the controversial policy, which was passed by the National Land Council in December 2009. After more than nine months, Tijah told Selangor Times that the federal

government has yet to respond to the Orang Asli’s protest.   She added that the controversial land policy contained many loopholes and was passed by the National Land Council without consulting Orang Asli grassroots communities.  “We want to meet with the federal government to resolve this issue,” said Tijah after an Orang Asli convention at Citrus Hotel.  Over 100 Orang Asli representatives attended the convention from Dec 13-16. All voted against the policy.  Jenita Engi from Center for Orang Asli Concerns said the policy would also affect Orang Asli women as under the policy, land titles are given to family heads only.  “The head of the house is usually a man. What would happen to the wife if there was a divorce?” said Jenita.

Youths out to save the environment
PETALING JAYA: Thirty volunteers, age 14-15 were inspired by a two-day conference held by the Full Gospel Assembly (FGA) which had a talk on how to be more conscious of the environment. The youths came together from all parts of Selangor last Saturday, as part of the church’s initiative, to repaint and clean up a small park here in Jalan 11/8, Section 11. “I am more than happy to help as a clean environment can have such a big impact on our lives” says Jonathan Richards, 15. Esther Serene Dorai (pic), 14 also believes that every little bit helps and this is her second year of being involved in a similar project. “I am really trying to change my habits to be more eco-friendly” she said. Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) councillor Richard Yeoh was on also site, to oversee their efforts. He said that the park used to be in such a bad shape although MBPJ had cleaned up the fallen trees and most of the rubbish, but it was heartening to see the youths taking over and fixing the smaller issues. He adde d that he wished all the local residents could follow their example, because their help would greatly ease the workload of the overstretched MBPJ whilst improving their own living conditions. FGA’s Molly Tan said that the clean-up also serves as a way to expose the youths to their environment and the community at large. “They would not have a chance otherwise, I bet most of them would just be sitting at home if not for projects like this” she said. The 30 volunteers were just part of 250 participants in the conference. The rest had been separated into various groups and were in other projects such as sorting recyclables in a recycling plant in Hulu Thirty youths took part in a park cleaning exercise in Jalan 11/8, Section 11 Petaling Jaya recently. Langat or aiding in a refugee camp.

FEATURE 17
DECEMBER 24 — 26, 2010

History of Zumba
CeLeBrITY fitness trainer “Beto” Perez first stumbled upon the concept of Zumba in his hometown of Cali, Columbia. He walked into his aerobics class one day in the mid-1990’s and realised he forgot his aerobics music tapes. He then grabbed his favourite Latin American music and improvised. The class was a major success and was the most popular fitness programme in his gym. Zumba was born. After his success in Columbia, he took the concept to the United States in 1999. His efforts paid off after two years when he was approached by entrepreneurs Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion to create a global company based on his fitness philosophy. The three young entrepreneurs trademarked the word Zumba® and set a goal to expand the brand all over the world. In 2002, the entrepreneurs secured a deal with a large infomercial company and sold hundreds and thousands of videos of Zumba. The demand skyrocketed and expanded to the need for Zumba instructors, so Zumba Fitness created a programme to train instructors. By 2006, there were thousands of licensed Zumba instructors worldwide. In 2003, Zumba Fitness teamed up with Kellogg Company to develop a fitness campaign aimed at the Hispanic market. The Kellogg campaign has since expanded to five other countries and Zumba has been featured in millions of Kellogg’s cereal boxes around the world. Zumba Fitness launched a successful infomercial campaign that sold millions of DVDs in over 30 countries in year 2004. The Zumba Academy was created in 2005 to facilitate the growing demand for more licensed instructors, and has raised the bar to set a new standard in fitness programmes, ensuring the highest level of integrity, quality and dedication to excellence, and exceeding industr y standards. In 2007 the Zumba programme was launched internationally and currently spans all over the world.

PUMPING IT: Some of the Zumba participants off their moves.

Let’s do the Zumba
By Lee Choon Fai

PETALING JAYA: Music blaring away as dozens danced to the tune of Latino music, one might have thought that he had stepped into yet another dance club. But this is no rave club as it is Zumba, an exercise dance routine that is gaining momentum in Malaysia. What sets Zumba apart from other routines? It is the motto: “Ditch the workout, and join in the fun!” “Zumba makes you think you’re having fun rather than working out,” said Jason Ooi, a 20-year-old Zumba instructor who is one of the few who has a licence to teach in Malaysia. “It’s the music; it makes you want to move. The experience is very similar to clubbing and it is really fun,” said Ooi. Zumba fuses hypnotic Latin American music with easy-to-follow dance moves that make you want to work out. Usually lasting an hour, a typical dance class works every muscle in your body, burns calories and leaves you craving for more. “It is so good you would most likely come back for more even if you had attended only one session,” said Jason. Jason said popular gyms like California

FUN TIMeS: This is what Zumba is all about.

FAMILY AFFAIR: (from left) Khor Ling Ling, Jason and Sonia after the class.

Fitness, CelebrityFitness, Fitness Concept, only teach the concept of Zumba, not genuine Zumba, because the name itself is trademarked. Sonia, 22, elder sister of Ooi, is another licensed instructor. “They don’t teach genuine Zumba in those places because of licensing issues,” said Sonia. She said there are only four licensed instructors in Malaysia but there are others who are teaching illegally. “So they teach under the guise of a normal dance class but not call it Zumba,” said Sonia. She said Zumba is mainly popular among the gym community and is little known outside. Sonia and Jason said the trend started picking up locally when Beto Perez, the founder of Zumba, came to Malaysia to promote it in 2007 and 2008. “In the span of two years, licensed instructors would come to the gym (Celebrity Fitness, Sunway Pyramid) and have Zumba classes,” said Jason. Since the gyms do not allow Zumba classes, Jason and Sonia have opened their own studios. Sonia now teaches at “Sole to Soul Dance Studio” at Taman Sea, Kelana Jaya. A special 90-minute Zumba session was held at the studio on Dec 7 to promote and let people try out the dance. “We are now promoting Zumba to the masses, to let it attract the attention it deserves in Malaysia,” said Sonia.

Participants of the session seemed to be having loads of fun despite having danced vigorously for 90 minutes. The first timers in particular were very exhausted at the end of the session but did not regret trying out Zumba. “It is very, very energetic. It is really more interesting compared to aerobics classes,” said Wu Yoke Gum. It was Wu’s first encounter with Zumba, having learned about it through her friends on Facebook. Wu’s companion, Patricia Ao Yeang, also a first timer, said: “I can feel every part of my body move to the rhythm, it was really good!” she said. She thought that Zumba’s dance moves were mainly a combination of Hip Hop and Latin. “It is very enjoyable. I have tried dancing before but this is totally different,” said Stephanie John. The 32-year-old first heard of Zumba from the Ooi siblings’ mother, Khor Ling Ling. Khor is also an avid Zumba dancer and was present at the special session. Grace Bong, 44, enjoyed it so much that she is planning to ask her son to join in the fun. “It is very nice, the steps are simple and it is very adaptable,” said Bong. Khor also invited the writer and photographer to the dance floor and asked: “You sure you don’t want to try?” Sole to Soul Dance Studio will offer classes every Saturday from 10:30am to 11:30am from January next year.

technology 18
deceMBeR 24 — 26, 2010

New toys
to greet

2011

Dell Vostro V130

C

hristmas may be just tomorrow and the New Year may be a week away, but there’s no reason to stop shopping, especially for all you gadget geeks out there.   But with the plethora of gadgets and gizmos to choose from, where do you start? Well, fret not as here’s a brief guide to some of the gizmos you can consider getting in the coming year. 

Tablet Computers

For the uninitiated, a tablet computer differs from a regular laptop in that it sports a screen that supports touch input. But perhaps the best selling points of a tablet computer besides being light in weight are its portability, long battery life, and the functionality of being able to download new programs from what is known as an “Application Store.”   Using the application store means you can download virtually any kind of programs to suit your needs and these range from games, productivity, finance, medical, entertainment, news, references, and social networking ones.  Leading the pack in tablet computing is the Apple’s iPad. Weighing in only at 1.6kg and measuring 9.5-inch (length) and 7.5-inch (width), the iPad also boasts of up to 10-hours operation time.   For those who find the iPad a tad big and heavy, there are two other alternatives in the market now, namely, the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the CSL Droid Pad. These devices sport a 7-inch screen instead of the 9.7-inch (diagonally) and are based on an alternate operating system called Android, which is created by Google.  For those who can wait a little longer, the New Year will see a slew of new tablet-like computers from the usual suspects including HP, Acer, BlackBerry, Dell and a few other major computing vendors. Not forgetting to mention that Apple would probably refresh the iPad with a second-generation device in the first quarter of the year.  Price range: RM1,600 to RM2,699 
Laptops

be Apple’s MacBook Air.  The Air comes in two variants, namely 11inch and 13-inch versions. Specifications start at 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, memory at 2GB, Flash storage at 64GB, and weighs a little over 1kg. The top end MacBook Air sports a 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of memory, and 256GB of Flash storage and weighs in at 1.3kg.  The lightweight nature of the MacBook Air is courtesy of the use of Flash storage instead of hard disks to store data. Flash storage is akin to the storage used in thumbdrives. With no moving parts in Flash storage, the MacBook Air’s boot-up times are significantly increased.  Dell Vostro V130  If a MacBook Air is too expensive for your taste, you can also try other laptops such as the Dell Vostro V130. Designed with the needs and wants of on-the-go entrepreneurs in mind, the Vostro V130 is one of the thinnest ultraportable 13-inch laptops available today. Constructed from sturdy alluminium and reinforced with zinc hinges and a magnesium alloy palm rest, it is also road-ready and able to survive everyday bumps and thumps.   Price range: RM2,150 to RM5,299 
TVs and home entertainment

into one product? If so, try the Bose VideoWave.  The VideoWave integrates TV and music into one system and is controlled by a one-click pad remote. This remote features a built-in sensor and only includes buttons for the most-used functions :  powering on and off, changing channels, adjusting volume and selecting sources.  Users simply touch the click pad, and only the controls for what’s being watched appear on the screen − without interfering with the picture.    As the thumb glides around the click pad, a highlight scrolls through the commands.  Choosing a command takes a simple thumb press − a click − and the VideoWave system responds instantly.  Because the Bose click pad remote uses RF technology, it doesn’t need to be aimed, and all the devices it controls can be hidden from view. 
Household appliances

Bose VideoWave

mal cleaning path using the least amount of time and effort. The NaviBot also boast of being agile enough to clean those hard-toreach areas quickly and more effectively with its two side brushes. Its motion sensors also ensure that problems such as falling down the stairs, severe collisions and getting entangled in cables are avoided, allowing for more reliable cleaning and a purer living environment for the whole family.   Price: RM2,399  The Samsung Digital Photo Frame Etch memories of your loved ones in a glassy visage. Featuring a LED display, Bluetooth connectivity, auto-off feature, clock and calendar display and 2GB internal memory, The Samsung Digital Photo Frame comes with in-built speakers and battery with an operating span of one hour.   Price: RM699  male band. Artists and performers will take turns on the stage in a non-stop concert. People will be able to come and go as they please as the open venue allows for walk-ins at any time. Entrance is free, but food can be purchased at prices ranging from RM6 to RM15. On offer are combo meals similar to what’s offered in fast food restaurants, with drinks included. Shuhainie also said the event was a move to promote the SACC’s services and location as a convenient venue for large-scale events and celebrations. “This New Year countdown can be used as an example; people do not need to go through the traffic jams of Kuala Lumpur to attend a countdown event. They can do it here in Shah Alam, free of traffic jams,” she explained. SACC also intends to cater to up and coming artists and university students by providing a venue for them to promote their acts.

Fancy having a full home entertainment system that combines a 46-inch 1080 pixel high definition LCD display and a music system

Samsung NaviBot This gift idea is surely a novel one. Samsung’s NaviBot is a smart Robotic Vacuum Cleaner designed to make the cleaning experience more convenient and effective.  The unit is equipped with a Visionary MappingTM System capable of plotting the opti-

shah Alam a happening place for New year’s eve
By Lee Choon Fai

Macbook Air  With so much focus on tablet computing in the past few months, people seem to have forgotten that laptops are still fashionable gadgets to own. Built as a workhorse for the mobile worker on the move and also as a trustworthy computer for tertiary students, laptops today have dropped in prices so much that they are very affordable devices to own.  Arguably the lightest and most stylish looking laptop one on the market today must

SHAH ALAM: Shah Alam residents can usher in 2011 near home as the Shah Alam Convention Centre (SACC) is holding its first ever New Year countdown. “The Spice Up Countdown 2011 is a community programme funded by the SACC and is free of charge,” said SACC general manager Shuhainie Shamsuddin. Organised in conjunction with Mara University of Technology (UiTM), University Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI), the Shah Alam Academy of Music, and the Academy of Cultural Arts and National Heritage (Aswara), the event will be in the west foyer of the con-

vention centre. It will be a 10 hour, non-stop music fest, starting from 3pm on New Year’s Eve and ending at 2am on Jan 1. Shuhainie said that SACC originally intended to organise a Jazz festival. But as the event was slated on New Year’s Eve, they decided to take it one step further and make it a countdown party. “Instead of only jazz, we now have a wide range of music to cater to a larger audience,” said Shuhainie. Music genres now include pop, rock, choir, and traditional. Gigs will be performed mainly by university students. The line up also includes the Senoritas, a popular local all-fe-

SELANGOR TIMES ⁄ DECEMBER 24 – 26, 2010 ⁄ 19

FICTION 20
DECEMBER 24 — 26, 2010

Fiction by Chuah Guat Eng

I

t’s not a flower car. I know it’s not. It’s just what I call it. But it’s not. Mama knows it’s not too, but she won’t tell me what it is. And I know it’s wrong to call things by the wrong names. see? I called the snake a stick. I didn’t know it wasn’t a stick. so I called it a stick. But Aunty Gladys screamed and called me a liar. It looked just like a stick. Green and brown, the patterns. Just like a stick. On the grass. How was I to know James would go and pick it up? That’s the trouble with James. He must always pick up everything he sees. And he’s older than me even. I didn’t see the snake bite him. Honest I didn’t. I was looking out through the gap in the hedge. there was a boy in the next door garden. A European boy. He was wearing a red cloak or something. Like superman. And he was holding a sword. He was looking at me. staring. I remember so clearly how he stood. Legs apart. He was holding the cloak at the neck with one hand. The other hand was holding the sword over his head. As if he was going to strike something. Looking like a pirate or something. showing

Of snakes and flower cars
off as usual. Then I heard James shouting snake snake. Then he was running back to the house. And Aunty Gladys was running out, shouting, What What Where Where. I think then James told her I told him it was a stick. Because she came running out to me. LIAR LIAR she was shouting. And then she gave me one tight slap. No pain. Only my left ear went BNNGG. I didn’t cry. What is there to cry? I didn’t know it was a snake. I was telling the truth. It was a stick. That’s what I saw. A stick. I didn’t cry. I just ran. Ran and ran. Out of the garden, down the road, until I reached the guava tree by the duckpond. I climbed up the tree and sat there on the branch. Then only I felt the pain. My cheek and ear felt hot, burning, like that time when I stood too near the stove. I sat and sat, until Mama came to take me home. she kept asking me what happened. But you must never speak when you feel like crying. Otherwise the tears will come. And that is shameful. Then she touched my ear. I thought she was going to hit me too, but she only touched me. Then I saw there was blood on her fingers. I didn’t even know I was bleeding. Then Mama said something about Aunty Gladys bloody bangle and after that she left me alone. Luckily she didn’t make me go back to Aunty Gladys house to say sorry. she just took my hand and we went straight to the car and went home. This morning I didn’t go to school. And she didn’t go to office. she gave me my blue t-shirt and my school track pants and asked me to get dressed.

We are going to Aunty Gladys house. I didn’t want to go. But I could see that Mama’s eyes and nose were red, so I just did what I was told, drank my Milo, and got into the car. There were so many people outside Aunty Gladys house. And so many cars. But the biggest was the flower car. There were flowers hanging all over outside, and inside through the window at the back I saw more flowers. I saw Uncle Bimi and suresh, and Aunty sandra, and—I don’t know, there were so many people. Then I saw Aunty Gladys, walking with her head down to the flower car. she was wearing a black dress, and she wore a black veil on her head, like she’s going to church or something. she was walking as if she was going to fall, and Uncle Alex had to hold her up. They were walking to the flower car. I looked and looked but couldn’t see James anywhere. Where’s James, Mama? she didn’t answer me and when I looked up, I saw the tears. Then I started crying too, I don’t know why. It’s not a flower car. I know that. It’s wrong to call a thing by the wrong name. It’s wrong to call it a flower car when it isn’t a flower car. But no one will tell me its real name.

Great Indonesian fare at Brisik
By Gan Pei Ling

BRIsIk. It means noise in Bahasa Indonesia. But the Brisik Restaurant we entered at Jaya One, Petaling Jaya on a Monday evening was quiet and cosy. We were greeted by friendly staff and the restaurant’s orange-themed setting further gave the place a warm feeling. Brisik offers Indonesian, Thai and Western cuisine. Looking at the menu, we were overwhelmed by the choices available. For appetizers, there were satay, keropok, soups and salads including the popular Thai kerabu mangga (young shredded mango mix with lemon grass and chilli padi) and Indonesian gado-gado (steam vegetables with peanut sauce). We wanted soup and the waiter recom-

mended the popular sup buntut (RM18). The oxtail soup was finely done. Ayam penyet (right), which costs RM18) is another popular dish of Brisik’s. Grilled in a coat of chilli and tomatoes, the chicken was well-cooked and well-marinated in the sauce. We just could not get enough of it. Apart from ayam penyet, their green curry chicken, chicken rendang, chicken basil and fried chicken kunyit are also worth a try. If you are not a fan of chicken, beef rendang, beef basil and gulai kambing cincang (lamb shoulder cooked in special curry) are also on the menu. Fish lovers will also be spoilt for choice. Grilled salmon fillet bathed with Thai red curry, otak-otak ikan, ikan masam manis...you name it, they have it. In addition, they also serve mouth-watering seafood dishes like the unusual peanut butter prawns, pepper crab and gulai udang (prawns cooked in low fat milk and chilli paste). We gave sambal tumis udang (RM16) a try. the stir-fried prawns in dried chilli paste was not spicy enough for us but at least the prawns were fresh. A strict veg etarian? No problem, you could give their kangkung belacan, pucuk paku chilli or long beans with soya cakes a try. We went for their tahu telur (left), a mound of tofu in eggs topped with carrot, cucumber slices, bean sprouts and Brisik’s home-made sauce. The tofu was soft and smooth. Coupled with the sweet homemade sauce, the dish is a musttry. We also had the nasi brisik (RM2.50). The aromatic steamed rice cooked with pumpkin goes well with any of the dishes. Besides nasi brisik, you could also try their buttered rice and

nasi liwet – aromatic steamed rice cooked in special herbs. On top of that, you could order condiments like peanut sauce and sambal belacan separately to go with your dishes. If you are on your own, Brisik also serves standalone dishes like nyonya laksa, green curry laksa and nasi kampung brisik, among others. The restaurant’s western range is rather limited, with mainly soups, pastas and an assortment of grilled meat on offer. Most of the dishes are priced below RM20 except the seafood and western grilled dishes which are pricier. If you are there for lunch or tea between 11am and 5pm, check out the “Pasundan and Thai Village” section of the menu. They offer a main dish of either Thai fried rice, green

curry fried rice or fried noodles that comes with a drink, starter and desert of the day at RM15.90 or lower. For beverages, Brisik serves a range of fresh fruit juices including the Indonesian favourite, apokat (fresh avocado juice). topped with chocolate syrup and cocoa powder, the creamy fruit juice was delicious and fulfilling. Deserts available include sago gula merah, cendol, brisik buah manis (fresh papaya, lychee and longan), serawa betik (cut papaya in sweet coconut milk) and sum sum (flour balls with coconut milk and sugar). tempted? Check out Brisik one of these days. You will definitely enjoy the food, service and the warm ambience. For reservations, call 03-7958 6681 or visit www.brisik.com.my.

There are several little towns that play second fiddle to bigger ‘brothers’ like Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya. LIN ZHENYUAN goes off the beaten track and rediscovers the old world charm in Semenyih.
obody really goes to Semenyih unless a close relative or uncle happens to be staying there. And this usually takes place during the Chinese New Year. But a town that derives its meaning from the word “hidden” is not expected to be among the forerunners in the race towards development. Some experts have claimed that Semenyih has got its “hidden” meaning from a Negri Sembilan dialect. Located about eight kilometres from the compass point southeast from Kajang, the little town’s name is synonymous with the river that cuts across part of the district. Geologists and water engineers will be quick to proclaim that the catchment area of the Semenyih River is a vital source of water for sections of the rapidly expanding Klang Valley. A motorist who may unintentionally wander into town will quickly learn that the place seems to be caught in a time warp. It doesn’t have the uptown feel of Petaling Jaya, or the sophistication of urban Kuala Lumpur. What it does have in spades is greenery, the kind you don’t usually see if you are a city resident. Undulating hills are part of the extensive landscape. The highest point is Bukit Arang, about 560 metres or 1,840 ft. Some visitors say the waterfalls here are breathtaking but since I was cruising for a quick bite, I didn’t

Semenyih a ‘hidden’ town no more
Little evidence of high-rise buildings in this town of small proportions.

DECEMBER 24 — 26, 2010

Travel 21

N

Adventurers who have the makings of modern-day Indiana Jones will tell you that one of the most exciting things to do in Semenyih is to wake up as early as 5am, head for the Broga Hills and catch a breathtaking view of the sunrise at the break of dawn.”

have time to check it out. With a population of about 45,000 (2000 statistics), Semenyih has laid claim to be one of the fastest growing towns in the Peninsula. The national average is only about 2.6 per cent. Semenyih’s g rowth rate is recorded in the region of 13 per cent. The conduits that have helped boost the town’s growth are the two highways, Kajang SILK Highway and the Kajang-Seremban Highway. Both transport linkages have made it easier for outsiders to reach the town in times that are frequently faster than it takes a PJ resident to travel to KLCC. On a very hot afternoon when a stranger like me ‘galloped into town on a horse named Wira, the sun was burning the hair on the back of my neck. Part of the blame was laid squarely on my shoulders because I

didn’t know where the cooler spots were located. The only sights that brought relief to my weather-beaten eyes were the two supermarkets located side by side, Mydin Store and Pasaraya Econsave. Cool canned drinks were very much on my mind. There was no chendol stall where I was walking. It was too hot to have a teh tarik anyway. Residents here are few and far between. The main reason was staying indoors seemed the wisest thing to do when the scorching heat was almost creating mirages on the road, much like the Sahara. The blueprint for Semenyih’s road to progress has been planned in 19 phases. Two years ago, town planners said seven of these phases had been completed. Twelve more to go before the small town can acquire some

bragging rights. Meanwhile, the nearby Nottingham University campus is giving the township a helping hand in joining its more progressive cousins elsewhere. A friend told me there’s an ostrich farm somewhere in the area but I didn’t make an effort to find it. That will have to keep for another day. Somewhere in the sprawling district are a couple of factories. Workers are recruited from Myanmar, China , Indonesia , Vietnam and Bangladesh to work in these factories. The town proper itself looks a bit like Tanjung Malim or Malim Nawar. That means you wouldn’t get too worked up over the shophouses. In keeping with small towns, there is a resident pet shop in the heart of town that sells all kinds of critters and creatures, some of which are not immediately identifiable. Suffice to say, birds like merbok,

rabbits and ducks are the usual treats at the pet shop. Naturally, there are no high-rise buildings in town. The population is well spread out. Perhaps in 20 years’ time when property becomes a premium, there might be a need for tall buildings. In the meantime, Semenyih tries its best to keep up with its sister districts like Ulu Langat, Kuala Selangor,   Sabak Bernam and Sepang in Selangor Darul Ehsan. Adventurers who have the makings of modern-day Indiana Jones will tell you that one of the most exciting things to do in Semenyih is to wake up as early as 5am, head for the Broga Hills and catch a breathtaking view of the sunrise at the break of dawn. There are a couple of peaks up in the hills that are guaranteed to give your heart a warm squeeze. If you are a nature lover, make that one of your must-see missions. Right now, Semenyih has got little to offer city slickers, depending on your state of mind. For me, it was a great place to chill out, and there is a wonderful restaurant within driving distance. Check out Restaurant 52 if you don’t believe me.

The pet shop that has most of the creatures you need to keep you company, besides the fishes in the aquarium.

A clothing shop that is well stocked. The prices are reasonable but not as low as you like them to be.

Gallery 22
DECEMBER 24 — 26, 2010

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Youths pose for a picture with MBPJ councillor Richard Yeoh (2nd right) after cleaning up and repainting a small park at Section 11, Petaling Jaya on Dec 18. Save A Stray, organised by Teratai assemblyperson Jenice Lee and the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council, held a canine training course for owners in Cheras last Sunday

Klang member of Parliament Charles Santiago (left) and local councillor Yew Boon Lai inspect the concave problem at Bukit Tinggi last week.

A Bukit Tinggi resident points to the electric box which was knocked over by a careless driver last week.

Parents join in the fun at a Handicraft Competition for children on Dec 19 at Dewan Besar Seri Kembangan for Program Riang Ria Membaca @ Kampung Baru.

Selangor State Exco Yaakob Sapari (front row: second from right), Tengku Panglima DiRaja Selangor (third from right), YDP Senior Citizen Club Shah Alam Datuk Emran Kadir (fourth from right) pose with winners of the Farmers Day awards on Tuesday. Fifty-nine-year-old Samsudin Husaini won RM50,000 for the “Best Paddy Yield Administration Project”.

Culture 23
DECEMBER 24 — 26, 2010

PLAYS
The Greatest Gift
Theatre Performance; KLPac; The Actors Studio@Lot 10; 23 -26 December 2010; RM30; 03-2142 2009; www.theactorsstudio.com. my Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life is part of Christmas tradition in the US. TV channels there re-run it over the holidays. It’s easy to see why as James Stewart plays a drop-out from the American Dream, and tries to commit suicide on Christmas Eve; his guardian angel intervenes. Epiphanies ensue. KLPac’s stage adaptation of the movie is also localised: Bedford Falls is now Sungai Sentosa; the evil industrialist is one Mr Wong. The text, written by Marina Tan and Qahar Aqilah, is polyglot. It’s also a solo performance as the talented Qahar plays 20 separate roles. Directed by Na’a Murad.

Compiled by Zedeck Siew

Editor’s Pick
Main “Lompat Getah” Second Edition Dengan Rakyat Picnic; Main Dengan Rakyat; Dataran Merdeka; 26 December 2010; free admission

Doppelganger KL Open Mic Open Stage
Music Gig; Doppelganger KL; Palate Palette; 26 December 2010; RM10; 03-2142 2148; doppelgangerkl.blogspot.com Doppelganger KL began modestly in 2002, putting together cozy evenings of singer-songwriters and poetry. Today, it’s a much bigger brand as last August, the indie-music organiser was behind the FEYST World Tour, which showcased people like One Buck Short and Liyana Fizi at the Shanghai World Expo – a positive counterpoint to Tourism Ministry’s horrendous Malaysian Pavilion. But they still do the small gig thing. This December’s Open Mic event features bands like An Honest Mistake, Shh…Diam!, and A Ruthless Cleansing. The music is accompanied by a swap meet. Bring up to 10 still-functional items that you may have no more use for, but think someone else might appreciate. “It’s about finding a home for pre-loved items.”

Are you a child at heart – spoiling for the sweaty, shriek-filled recesses of your school-going days? Main Dengan Rakyat (MDR) can fulfil this fantasy. Every month, the group meets to play school padang games like galah panjang and kejar-kejar. They take the rebellion against propriety one step further as MDR typically plays at Dataran Merdeka – a “public space” that is illegal for the public to use. You see, Dataran Merdeka is protected with by-laws that prohibit unauthorised use – ie: usage without rent paid to DBKL. Whenever you step on the grass, City Hall could fine you. MDR, a loose network of people working to reclaim public space around KL, makes a simple point – we should be merdeka to use Dataran Merdeka. This Sunday, they play lompat getah, so expect jumpy, rubber-band action from 5pm

REVIEW
2nd Switch ON Mini Festival Closing Night
For those of us in the general population that aren’t music nerds or, more specifically, sound nerds, experimental electronic music is a tough nut to crack. One goes through several stages: quizzical curiosity (“Um, interesting”); frustration (“It’s just beeps and buzzes! So wanky!”); and, finally, acceptance (“Oh, it’s been an hour already?”). I think I’ve happened on the correct way to experience experimental music. You’ve got to realise that the form is superlatively indulgent. The musicians who make it love sound above all else – the vibration of the instruments; the way they’re wired; the way the bzzts feel in the teeth. If you can’t share in such geekery, you can at least admire its purity. Unlike other types of artistic excess, experimental music badgers you with no meanings or subtexts. Some years ago, I spent an hour and a half meditating to a Goh Lee Kwang performance, in which he created soundscapes via manipulating feedback from an amplifier. Goh closed the Herbal Project’s recent 2nd Switch ON Mini Festival (at KLPac, last Dec 19) with a similar piece – only pared down further. The artist crouched over a simple electronic keyboard – the kind used by blind street singers, complete with microphone and waved said mic above the keyboard’s speakers. The tinny screams that resulted were accompanied by the general hubbub of a pre-recorded pasar setting. Goh had swapped out technical elaboration for inquiries into context: not only how and what sounds are produced, but where. The performance reminded me of abducted children – but that’s just me. The evening’s other acts were less interesting. Annabel Ng created an elaborate installation, with dozens of switches, pedals, and plug points; “I want to make people think about the electric things they switch on and off every day,” she told me. The irony: the artist failed to test it at the venue, and thus could not turn it on because it was deemed a safety hazard. Ng will try again at KLPac’s Open Day on Jan 23. France-mari One Lick Less dazzled with his DIY guitar (which he played like a guzheng) and folksy string-plucking – some nice, pretty melodies. Of course, this sort of stuff isn’t for everyone and audiences don’t usually turn up expecting to be lulled into idle introspection. Consequently, the form is a tough sell. There were only 12 people in the room that night – including the sound tech and the organisers. But they didn’t seem to mind.

REVIEW
Reza Salleh’s Realize
Singer-songwriter Reza Salleh is a titan in the KL scene. He organises the four-year-old Moonshine platform (big names like Mia Palencia and Zalila Lee were on last Thursday’s bill). He’s also doing a concert at Dewan Filharmonik PETRONAS on 27 June 2011, as part of its Spotlight Series. And he’s been playing gigs, and generally being a positive force around town, for a decade. According to Reza, releasing his debut album, Realize, felt like “as if I’m going to play my first show,” – and, in many ways, that’s exactly true. Realize is a survey of the performer’s ten-year career – some of its 14 songs were written as early as 2000 and all its tracks invariably remind listeners of their live version. The album is conceptually less of a record as much as it is documentation or an intro to the real Reza Salleh, performing in the flesh. Reza is undoubtedly a good musician, but I am lukewarm about his lyrical ability. “Kasih” and “Ocean Spanning Sorrow” are pop ballads about love and loss, impeccably arranged and cleanly produced. And yet the songs – even musically edgier ones like “A Relic Is What I Live In” – sound generic. Poetic imagery is essential when a listener can’t get at the music’s live energy. For newcomers, Realize will just be a placeholder until they watch him perform. Realize is available at all Rock Corner outlets, or from www.morningrocket.com.

Pelita Hati Open Show 2010
Exhibition; Pelita Hati Gallery of Art; 18 December 2010 - 15 January 2011; Free admission; 03-2092 3380; www.pelitahati. com.my Visual art roundups like this one may make for a decent weekend afternoon’s diversion. It’s an open show – with public submissions and little curatorial direction. The five-person panel only selected for a bare minimum of quality – so expect to be far some wowed. But a 50-piece show is a good way to survey the non-A-list, semi-amateur art world. “We hope this event will indirectly reflect the current trends in Malaysian art.” Who knows? You might catch some gems.

Published by Selangor State Government and printed by Dasar Cetak (M) Sdn Bhd No. 7, Persiaran Selangor, Seksyen 15, 40000, Shah Alam, Selangor Darul Ehsan.

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