public fears over nuclear plans



Malaysia needs Temple land issue equitable unresolved healthcare p9 system p 12-13


March 25 — 27, 2011/ issue 17

A father and child celebrating the festival of Holi at Shree Lakshmi Narayan Temple on Jalan Kampung Kasipillay, Kuala Lumpur on Saturday (March 19). Hindu devotees celebrate this spring religious festival by throwing coloured powder and coloured water on one another. – Picture by Loy Seng Kit

By Gan Pei Ling

subanG JaYa: Attempts to resolve the Subang Ria Park dispute between residents and Sime Darby have reached a stalemate, but the state is expected to intervene to break the deadlock. “Sime Darby is not interested to meet and they insist on valuing the [29.4-hectare] park at RM165 million, so we’ve briefed the Menteri Besar and are waiting for his further direction,” said Hannah Yeoh on Wednesday. The Subang Jaya assemblyperson said Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim is expected to meet residents, many of whom are opposed to the company’s plans to develop the park, at a town hall meeting tomorrow. Yeoh, who is part of the Subang Ria taskforce, said they had written to Sime Darby on Feb 7 to seek a meeting to discuss the acquisition of the recreational park. But the company refused to meet them. Instead, Sime Darby, in a written reply on Feb 21, reiterated their stand that the land belongs to them and they have the right to develop local council. the park as the property owner. Sime Darby said they would only The developer also said that they consider selling the park at the market only plan to develop 7.7 hectares of price of RM165 million, as valued by the land, and would upgrade the an independent consultant appointed remaining 21.7 hectares of the park by the Subang Jaya Municipal Counbefore surrendering it back to the cil (MPSJ) last year.

End in sight for Subang Ria issue
Sime Darby had declared the park’s book value at RM3.6 million in its 2010 financial report. However, when taken into account the potential development value of the 29.4-hectare park, valuation figures from the state and private sector have ranged from RM15 million to RM165 million. The six-member Subang Ria taskforce led by Yeoh was supposed to meet with Sime Darby to agree on a price acceptable to all parties. During a dialogue with residents in January, the state had promised to pay for half of the purchase price if the residents could raise the remaining half. However, residents would have to raise one-third of their share within eight months to show the state that they are serious in buying back the park. “It was clear from the letter they were only interested to sell it at RM165 million,” said Yeoh. When contacted by Selangor Times, a Sime Darby property spokesperson said the land must be sold at market price as the company is accountable to its shareholders. “We also want to resolve this issue as soon as possible,” said the spokesperson yesterday. Sime Darby faced strong public opposition when it first submitted a proposal in 2007 to develop the Subang Ria Park into a high-density commercial area. In 2009, it amended its plan to develop a quarter of the park into a low-density residential area and upgrade the remaining areas before handing it back to MPSJ. MPSJ had rejected Sime Darby’s proposal in May 2010 before the developer appealed. The state has since halted all development at the park while it seeks to resolve the three-year impasse between residents and the developer. The Menteri Besar will be meeting residents for the third time over the Subang Ria park dispute tomorrow at 3pm at the Kenanga Hall of MPSJ building in USJ 5.



March 25 — 27, 2011

Selangor WeaTHer
Friday Saturday Sunday



Selangor targets RM10bil in investments for 2011

Source: Malaysian meteorological department

Selangor hits out at sex video
SHAH ALAM: The state has slammed the sex video purportedly featuring Selangor Economic Advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as shameful and damaging to both the Muslim faith and unity. “This act is ethically wrong, it goes against the teaching of any religion that emphasises justice, peace and goodwill,” said Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim after chairing Wednesday’s executive councillor meeting. The Menteri Besar also questioned the “moral fitness” of the individuals behind the creation of the video who have admitted to keeping, watching and showing it to others. Khalid said while these individuals claimed to represent Muslims in the country, the actions were both desperate and politically motivated to garner support from Malay voters. “But I am sure Malays are smarter than this and would not be taken in by this slanderous act,” he said.  Khalid also called on the police to carry out a transparent and impartial investigations. Meanwhile, former Malacca Chief Minister Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Chik, businessperson Datuk Shazryl Eskay Abdullah, and Perkasa treasurer Datuk Shuib Lazim have admitted to showing the sex video to journalists at Carcosa Seri Negara on Monday. According to the three, the moniker “Datuk T” stood for Datuk Trio or Three Datuks. The three, who have asked for a royal commission of inquiry to be set up to investigate the video, came out in the open after Sungai Petani Member of Parliament Datuk Johari Abdul exposed their identities at a press conference on Wednesday. Police have also begun investigations into the sex video scandal following a report lodged by Anwar on Tuesday.

Khalid presenting an award to Petaling Jaya mayor Datuk Roslan Sakiman while Hasan and Khusrin look on.

By Basil Foo

To place your Advert in
Contact Timothy Loh at 019-267 4488 or Ivan Looi at 014-936 6698

SHAH ALAM: The Selangor State Investment Centre (SSIC) is targeting RM10 billion worth of investments for the state this year after exceeding their goals in 2010. “We achieved RM10 billion in 2010, while our targeted investment for that year was RM8 billion,” said SSIC chief executive officer Datuk Mohammad Jabar Ahmad Kembali. He announced the new target in a speech at an appreciation ceremony for officers from the state’s technical departments at the Shah Alam Convention Centre on March 21. In his speech, he thanked the technical officers for ensuring sufficient safety, infrastructure, security and strategic locations for the investors. “We want to ensure that investors

stay in the state and also add investments,” he said. He related the story of a business trip to France, where a company commended Selangor’s short two-week wait for business approval. The targeted amount of RM10 billion investments this year would be achieved with the approval of four projects which are “in the pipeline”, Jabar added. Also at the appreciation ceremony was Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Khalid Ibrahim, who gave a speech and presented plaques to representatives of the state technical departments. “One of the things that makes Selangor an investment destination is sufficient infrastructure for investors,” he said. He also alluded to investment projects worth several billion ringgit like a

sewerage management project, the Klang River of Life project, and the underground MRT project. Representatives from 61 technical departments – comprising local authorities, land and district offices, and state departments – received the appreciation awards. “With our efforts to provide service for investment approvals, Selangor is sure to attract more investors from both the manufacturing and service sectors,” Khalid said. The Menteri Besar reminded the technical officers that their knowledge and expertise should continue to increase in order to improve the quality of their work. Also at the event were state executive councillor Datuk Hasan Ali and state secretary Datuk Mohamad Khusrin Munawi.

phone (603) 5510 4566 fax (603) 5523 1188 email

MBPJ slammed for monopolising parking bays
By Alvin Yap


KL Chan

Neville Spykerman

Tang Hui Koon, Chong Loo Wah, Gan Pei Ling, Basil Foo, Yasleh Hani Mat Yassin, Alvin Yap, Gho Chee Yuan COPY EDITORS Nick Choo, James Ang

Jimmy C. S. Lim, Chin Man Yen Victor Chong Timothy Loh, Ivan Looi


Faekah Husin, Arfa’eza Abdul Aziz

PETALING JAYA: City council staff who park for free are being accused of depriving the paying public of parking space at New Town. “I drive around New Town many times because there’s no parking,” said Johan Tung. The Petaling Jaya Residents Association Coalition (Apac) president said he had counted 45 cars with Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) passes and without parking tickets on Wednesday. Speaking at a press conference at the city council’s office, Tung provided a list of cars and number plates. He also asked reporters to verify his claims. 

He said the city council was depriving other workers and residents of parking for “eight hours”. Furthermore, he is miffed that the city council has reser ved the first floor of a multi-level parking lot situated behind Standard Chartered bank in New Town. “The parking bays on the first floor say ‘khas for MBPJ’. The city council is making ladies and old people walk the two floors,” he said. He was questioning the “privileged” treatment towards MBPJ staff. Johan claimed that he brought the matter up with an MBPJ councillor seven months ago but had  yet to get a response.

SELANGOR TIMES ⁄ March 25 – 27, 2011 ⁄ 3



march 25 — 27, 2011

Giant bowl of asam laksa
In conjunction with the introduction of its latest variant of alcohol-free Plax mouthwash, Colgate Palmolive will be attempting to create Malaysia’s biggest bowl of asam laksa. The attempt will be created by celebrity chefs Ismail Ahmad and Florence Tan, and is inspired by the new Colgate Plax Ice mouthwash. The official launch, adjudication and verification by the Malaysia Book of Records will begin at 10.30am tomorrow, and will be witnessed by Petaling Jaya major Datuk Mohamad Roslan Sakiman. After the adjudication, visitors will be able to try the asam laksa for free for the rest of the afternoon. The feat will be held at Giant Hypermarket Kota Damansara.

‘Yayasan Selangor not bankrupt’
Khalid presenting Yayasan Selangor’s past annual accounts while Selangor financial officer Datuk Mohamad Arif Abdul Rahman looks on.

SMI Alumni annual meeting
The St Michael’s Institution Alumni Association, Klang Valley, will hold its Annual General Meeting at the La Salle University Hall, Lorong 5/15B, (behind the Provincialate on Jalan Chantek, off Jalan Gasing), Petaling Jaya at 10.30am on April 9. The annual dinner will be held at the Tropicana Ballroom, Tropicana Golf and Country Club, on April 15 at 7pm. Former students of St Michael’s, association members, as well as those who are not yet members are welcome to attend, Tickets cost RM90 per person or RM900 per table of 10. For details, email or call Michael at 019-2225660, Helen at 016-2737808, Wei Seong at 016-2120322, or visit

By Basil Foo

Fundraiser for Japan
Hands Percussion will be joined by Wadaiko Syo, Tugu Drum Circle and Dhol Federation to help raise funds for Japan following the catastrophe that hit the nation on March 11. Performances are scheduled for tomorrow and Sunday at 5pm and 7pm respectively at Pavilion shopping mall, Kuala Lumpur. Similar performances were held last weekend, where about RM10,000 was raised.

MIA Open Day
Malaysian Institute of Art (MIA) will hold an open day on the art design college’s activities tomorrow and Sunday from 9.30am to 4pm at the MIA Multipurpose Hall, 294299, Jalan Bandar 11, Taman Melawati, Kuala Lumpur. Extended counselling will be held from March 19 to May 8, 2011, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, and Saturday and Sunday, from 9.30am to 4pm. For more information, call 03-41088100 or visit

shah alam: Yayasan Selangor’s accounts were made public on Wednesday to finally lay to rest claims that the state education foundation was on the verge of bankruptcy.  “Although there was a deficit in 2010, we can still continue operations for a long time because there was a significant surplus in previous years,” said Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim. Khalid, who is also Yayasan Selangor chairperson, said the foundation still had more than RM100 million in its coffers and cash deposits of RM50 million.  Annual accounts since 2005 showed the foundation’s highest deficit was RM9.9 million in 2005, and the highest surplus was RM127 million in 2008.

He refuted allegations that Yayasan would be bankrupt due to a RM7 million expenditure. “I would like to see the expertise of those who made the reports,” he said. The foundation’s 2010 accounts, which were a subject of dispute, would be released before June, he said at the State Secretariat. “We have drafted a report on our status and have decided, after a board meeting [yesterday], to have a general meeting by May to pass the accounts,” he said. It was learnt that the foundation’s auditing process had to pass through a chartered accounting firm, a general meeting and the Companies’ Commission of Malaysia. Khalid revealed that the annual accounts since 2005 were only passed in general meetings through-

out last year. “So for those who said Yayasan’s accounts were audited every year, their statement would be incorrect.” He explained that deficits and surpluses over the years were not a strange occurrence, but they would still be assessing the reason for the fluctuating income. He said the fate of Yayasan Selangor general manager Ilham Marzuki would depend on his performance as the board decided to let him see out his contract. “As he just became general manager in 2010, we must give him a chance until his two-year contract ends,” he said. On a group of former Yayasan Selangor staff filing suits against Ilham and the foundation, Khalid said the due process of the law would not be obstructed.

Councillors get slight rise in allowances
By Alvin Yap

Earth Day activities
In conjunction with Earth Day, which falls tomorrow, Carrefour Tropicana will observe the annual event by switching off all non-essential electrical appliances for one hour. Shoppers are, however, invited to continue their shopping in the “Shop in the Dark” event. Non-essential lights will be switched off at 8pm. Meanwhile, YTL Corporation will organise trucks to collect recyclable items at the KL Performing Arts Centre from 8.30am-10am. Recyclable newspapers will fetch 25 sen per kg while mixed paper (books, magazines, computer forms etc) will earn 20 sen per kg. Aluminium cans brought in will earn RM2.50 per kg while plastic containers can fetch up to 20 sen per kg.

petaling jaya: City councillors here who wanted their allowances to be increased to RM3,000 will have to make do with a RM250 increment. Datuk Roslan Sakiman said the

increase from RM750 to RM1,000 will be backdated to Feb 1. “Some of the councillors are doing this full-time, and even at RM1,000, it is ‘salary’ that is below poverty level,” said the Petaling Jaya City Council mayor. The city councillors had earlier

this year submitted a proposal to the State Economic Planning Unit to raise their allowance to RM3,000, but this was rejected. Roslan added that  district and municipality councillors in Selangor will also receive allowance increments.

MPSJ’s wastage on computer rental
By Tang Hui Koon

School holiday workshop
The Department of Extra-Mural Studies of the Malaysian Institute of Arts (MIA) will be holding a series of workshops during the school holidays. They are Batik Workshop for Beginners (March 20-April 10) and Bead Jewellery Workshop (March 26). The workshops will be held at the MIA Art Centre on Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur (near KLCC). More workshops such as Art Clay Silver Workshop, Shibori Tie and Dye Workshop, and Acoustic Guitar Workshop will be offered soon. For registration, contact MIA Art Centre at 03-21632337 or email or log on to MIA’s website at

subang jaya: The local council here has to spend more than RM1 million to continue renting 600 computers in the next two years due to its tardiness in reviewing its computer rental contract. Subang Jaya councillors, including Pooi Weng Keong and R Rajiv, raised the matter at the local council’s full board meeting on Wednesday. They urged the local council to review similar contracts earlier next time around to prevent wastage of ratepayers’ money. Subang Jaya Municipal Council

(MPSJ) has already spent over RM2.98 million in the past three years to rent the 600 computers. The councillors had reminded the municipal council to review the computer rental contract last year to adjust the monthly rental rate of RM138 per computer or terminate the contract. However, Rajiv said, the local council delayed dealing with the matter until this year. As a result, it was too late to renegotiate with the contractor, and the local council had to renew the contract in fear that the contractor might take back all the 600 computers, which would affect the local

council’s operations. Consequently, MPSJ now has to continue renting the computers at a rate of RM79 a month for the next two years, amounting to a total of close to RM1.14 million, before the computers are theirs. In other words, the local council would have spent around RM4.12 million to purchase the 600 computers at the end of the contract, at a cost of RM6,864 per computer. Pooi and other councillors urged the local council to review similar contracts half a year before the end of the contract period to prevent such cases from recurring.

SELANGOR TIMES ⁄ March 25 – 27, 2011 ⁄ 5



March 25 — 27, 2011

By Alvin Yap

PETALING JAYA: A forum has raised widespread concern about Malaysia’s plan to build nuclear plants. Safety concerns on the lack of government transparency and a lessthan-perfect track record in constructing large-scale projects are making citizens dead set against the country’s nuclear ambition. “We need to develop a nonnuclear movement for Malaysia within all levels of our lives,” said anti-nuclear activist Dr Ronald McCoy at the forum on Tuesday. “Claims that being exposed to low-level radiation does not pose a risk to health are a myth created by governments and the nuclear industry,” McCoy said. Nuclear energy is neither cheap, clean nor safe, said the president of Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility. He said no nation, not even those that possess the technology, could dispose of nuclear waste safely. “Nuclear waste takes 20,000 years to ‘degrade’ to a safe level. “Imagine if our cave-dwelling ancestors 20,000 years ago had had nuclear power – we would be the ones saddled with their waste,” McCoy said. Earlier, in response to questions on “nuclear safety”, McCoy said participants must ask if the potential risks of any nuclear mishap outweighed the gains from nuclear power. “What level of exposure is safe? Would we get vital information in time [if a nuclear plant were to leak radiation]?”

Public fears over nuclear

Panellists (from left) Tian Chua, Wong, McCoy and Gurmit.

He said there was an increased risk of getting cancer and being rendered infertile. He also said children born in areas with nuclear plants suffered from birth defects and mental and growth retardation. “This is not a legacy we should leave to our future generation to deal with,” McCoy said. Participants at the forum shared McCoy’s views, voicing their concern over Malaysia’s plans to go nuclear. Most acknowledged that renewable energy did not create high amounts of electricity compared with nuclear power, but urged both the federal and Selangor governments to further explore and

enhance “green power”. “ Where solar power is concerned, we do not have enough sunshine in Malaysia, and the wind is neither strong nor continuous for us to generate wind turbines,” said blog g er and activist Charles Moreira. Centre For Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia (Cetdem) founder Gurmit Singh said there were new “low-wind speed” turbines which could be used to generate electricity. On solar energy, Gurmit said the challenge was to lower the costs of generating electricity as solar panels were still expensive at RM20,000 a panel. He said it was ironic that

Malaysia, being one of the world’s largest producers of solar panels, was manufacturing them for export and not domestic use. “If homes in Malaysia were covered with solar panels, the total power output would be higher than the power generated by the proposed nuclear plant at 2,000MW,” he said. State environmental executive councillor Elizabeth Wong said a combination of wind, hydroelectric and solar with non-renewable energy like gas power plants would increase electricity output. “If we depend on one source of energy, we might not get the power output,” said Wong. The forum was attended by some 100 participants.

Charles Moreira

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18 — 20,


issue 16

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March 25 — 27, 2011


PSM lawmakers, leaders disclose assets


By Brenda Ch’ng

The leaders making public their assets

PETALING JAYA: Assets, expenditure and report cards of Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) leaders were made public on Wednesday as part of the party’s efforts to promote accountability. “We have been doing this for the past three years, and this year shouldn’t be any different,” said Kota Damansara assemblyperson Dr Nasir Hashim. Nasir, together with Sungai Siput Member of Parliament Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj and PSM secretary-general S Arutchelvan, was among the leaders who made the public disclosure at a press conference. “As a lawmaker, I have to be responsible with the funds given to me by the state for projects and people. So by declaring my assets, there is no hiding from the public. There is transparency,” said Nasir. MPs or state lawmakers are not required to disclose their assets, but Dr Michael said the move should be made mandatory under the law. “I believe that power over money corrupts. What we need is a move towards transparency where checks and balances are shown and proven. “This is to ensure that things that concern money don’t go wrong,” he said. The PSM leaders also took a step further by signing statutory declarations to prove their financial disclosures are genuine.  The sworn statements included total assets, inclusive of life savings, cars and houses.   Nasir’s assets amounted to RM51,500, excluding his monthly earnings which total RM9,812.79. The declarations can be found on PSM’s website.

Obstruction on five-foot ways to be regulated
By Tang Hui Koon

SUBANG JAYA: Shops using public corridors and five-foot ways to display their goods will be required to obtain licences from the municipality next month. The decision to regulate the practice and make owners pay for obstructing public access was made at the Subang Jaya Municipal Council’s full board meeting on Wednesday. MPSJ acting president Abdullah Marjunid said the ruling was passed in response to public complaints about crowded five-foot ways hindering passageway. He said the council would issue a written notice to all shopowners soon. “We hope they will cooperate and apply for licence(s) as soon as possible,” said Abdullah. A RM100 licence fee will be imposed and must be renewed every six months.  Shopowners can be fined RM1,000 for failing to comply. Shops selling groceries, furniture, electrical appliances, shoes, clothing, pets and flowers will be affected by the ruling. Shopowners can only use up to one-third of the space of five-foot ways to place their goods. However, restaurants will not be affected because they are regulated by other by-laws. MPSJ assistant public relations director Azfarizal Rashid said shopowners could only place lightweight goods such as newspapers and flowers in corridors. Abdullah said the council would give sufficient time for businesses to comply with the latest guideline.

Poison Stars in traditional garb.

Young residents shine in talent quest

Amelia Lee as the Little Mermaid.

Poison Stars following a zombie routine.

SUBANG JAYA: The talent quest audition on March 12 saw promising performances by young residents of Subang Jaya. Organised by the service centre of state assemblyperson Hannah Yeoh, the event provided a platform for budding talents to shine. One of the rules of the audition was that every group performance had to be multiracial. “We joined this [talent] quest to put our talents to the test, and at the same time to improve ourselves,” said Siti Amelia, head of dance group Poison Stars. Poison Stars was one of the many groups that came together and performed despite differences in age, race and dance style. Another eye-catching display was four-year-old Amelia Lee Zi Yuen, who put on a cute self-taught dance to the tune of Under the Sea from The Little Mermaid.  Dressed as the Little Mermaid herself, her mother proudly shared her other achievements such as winning the Most Talented Dancer title in the Little Miss Santarina pageant last December. “The talent quest is open to residents of Subang Jaya who are 17

years and below. “This is the first time we are having it, but judging from the amazing talents these young people possess, we should have this more often,” said Yeoh. Apart from singing and dancing, Madeline Ashlee Lok, who turns 16 this year, shared her breathtaking talent on the Chinese zither, or guzheng. Lok only learnt to play the instrument five years ago, but already she has performed at the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra concert hall. Her other achievements include finishing eighth at the 2nd International Zheng Qualification Contest Open last week. “I joined this [talent quest] to challenge myself, and to also see where traditional music stands in modern dancing and music,” said Lok. The contestants have a week off before the finals this Sunday at the Sunway Pyramid main concourse at 5pm, where they will again perform and hopefully be a beacon for other aspiring talents out there. Celebrities Juwita Suwito, Fahmi Fadzil and John Oomen will judge the contest.

Councillor denies allegations



March 25 — 27, 2011

By Basil Foo and Alvin Yap

Tiew (right) and Pua (second right) with market vendors and disabled members of the Beautiful Gate foundation at the Taman Megah wet market on March 15.

PETALING JAYA: A city councillor who came under fire for attempting to get disabled traders to shift to the back of the Taman Megah market stood by her decision during a Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) internal inquiry last week. Tiew Way Keng said on Wednesday (March 16) that she had done nothing wrong. “I’ve done my best as a facilitator for residents and traders who have made complaints and also MBPJ. Our job and duty is not to make life difficult for anyone,” Tiew told the inquiry. Tiew explained that her decision to shift the vegetable stalls outside to the back of the market was made because some female shoppers had complained of being “groped”, apart from the other issue of congestion among the stalls. During a visit to the market the day before,  Tiew had said she was more than happy to face the internal audit committee because it would give her an opportunity to clear her name. She also denied allegations of abuse of power in the move, in response to a report in theSun. “Will theSun care to let me know

what I stand to gain personally from shifting a few hawker stalls to improve traffic flow in the market?” she said. The issue became controversial when a disabled vendor alleged she had been harassed when she refused to move.  “She (the disabled vendor) should come to us or go through proper channels to name the people who are harassing her,” said Tiew. Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, who also visited the market, said the vendors had initially been supportive of the move, but subsequently changed their minds. “Of course they have the right to change their minds, and their objections will be taken into consideration,” he said. Pua called the allegations of discrimination against the disabled “baseless”, as MBPJ had promised to build ramps and remove obstruction at the proposed new site of the vegetable stalls. However, during a press conference last Wednesday (March 23), mayor Datuk Roslan Sakiman said the traders’ stalls would remain where they were. “They are status quo and will not be moved,” he said.

Quick Reaction Team not so quick
PETALING JAYA: Councillors have slammed Petaling Jaya City Council’s Quick Reaction Team (QRT) for being too slow. The QRT, tasked with responding to emergencies, repairing potholes and faulty traffic lights, and replacing missing grates, ironically is not living up to its name, said councillors on Wednesday. “QRT took a few days to a week to clear a fallen tree in my zone,” said Cynthia Gabriel, who first raised the issue at the MBPJ full board meeting.  Fellow councillor Derek Fernandez also pointed out that the QRT was slow in carrying out maintenance and repair work on traffic lights in the municipality. “Can’t we even take care of [more than] 90 traffic lights in our area?” he asked. The QRT was set up last year to speed up repairs and maintenance. Mayor Datuk Roslan Sakiman had said the team would be given 48 hours to attend to complaints and remedy problems.  Public complaints director Tengku Nazaruddin Zainuddin said the slow response was caused by having to coordinate the landscape and engineering departments to remove trees or repair potholes. He said road repairs could not always be carried out within 48 hours if a road was flooded after a downpour. “The engineering department has to travel to Sungai Long depot to get asphalt pre-mixtures,” he said at a press conference. He acknowledged that they did not have enough contractors to carry out repair and maintenance work. At the same press conference, Roslan said MBPJ was “wary” of removing trees due to objections from residents. “We have to decide if we want to remove [the trees] totally, and if we want to grow them back later. People love trees,” he said. Bathmavathi Krishnan, from the Association of Women with Disabilities Malaysia, was also not impressed with the team. “Two wheelchair-bound people near Beautiful Gate foundation for the disabled were knocked down by a car last November. The traffic lights were working, but the pedestrian-crossing button wasn’t,” she said.

By Alvin Yap

PETALING JAYA: The City Council (MBPJ) showed its support for the work done by an orphanage and other non-government org anisations by donating RM20,000 on Wednesday. “We honour the hard work and their vision in starting their respective organisations,” said councillor Richard Yeoh. Yeoh, with colleagues Cynthia Gabriel and Terence Tan, combined the balance of their previous year’s allocation to make the contribution to groups involved in social work after getting the green light from mayor Datuk Roslan Sakiman. “Some development budget wasn’t spent, so the mayor said we could donate it to show MBPJ’s support towards social work,” Yeoh said. The recipients were Growing Emerging Leaders (GEL), Protect and Save the Children (P.S. The Children), Our Home, and All Petaling Jaya Residents Association Coalition (Apac). GEL founder Jasmine Ng said she was touched by the city council’s support. Founded in 2006, GEL started as a group of youths gathering every Monday to apply leadership and faith-based principles in their lives.

Apac founder Johan Tung (second from left) receiving donations from Yeoh (second from right) and Tan (far right).

MBPJ donates RM20,000 to NGOs
P.S. The Children executive director Madeleine Yong said the money would be well spent in providing assistance and running its programmes. Founded in April 1999 as a project in response to the need for a voice for sexually abused children, P.S. The Children actively promotes treatment and support services. Our Home founder and director Dr Paul Rajendran said he was “motivated further” by MBPJ’s recognition. “Our Home is based on giving quality care. We have only eight children, but we nurture them and care for them,” he said. Founded in August last year, the orphanage is sustained financially by Paul’s friends and relatives. “I can only say to MBPJ, thank you very much for this cash assistance,” he added. Apac’s Johan Tung said he was touched by MBPJ’s donation.

Run to promote health and tourism
By Basil Foo

KLANG: Competitive runners and families who want a weekend together will not want to miss the Klang Historical Run at Centro Mall, Klang, on July 24. The run will be limited to 2,500 runners. “The run will pass through several historical places in Klang like Little India and Klang Museum,” said Centro Properties Group centre manager Catherine Ng at a press conference to launch the registration of the run on Wednesday. Centro Mall and the Klang Pacers Athletics Club are joint organisers of the event. The run, which is limited to 2,500 runners, comprises the men’s open, men’s veteran, men’s senior veteran, women’s open, women’s veteran, schoolboys, schoolgirls and fun run. Participants of the first five categories have to run 12km with a qualifying time of

Ng (middle in red), Heng (middle in orange) and sponsors at the Klang Historical Run launch.

two hours and 30 minutes. The race will start at 6.45am. The other categories are run over 6km, with a qualifying time of one hour. Runners who finish the races will be awarded goodie bags. “We hope to spread the practice of having a healthy lifestyle by exercising because nowadays people are getting very stressed,”

said Klang Pacers Athletic Club president John Heng Swee Peng. “My club even has members who are actively competing at [age] 67. I expect some of them to take part in the run.” said Heng. Registration fees before April 30 are from RM20-30, while those registering from May 1 to June 30 will have to pay RM25-40.


Temple land issue unresolved
By Basil Foo PETALING JAYA: A longstanding land ownership issue has left devotees uncertain about the future of their temple at Lagoon Perdana, Bandar Sunway. “At a meeting last month, the land office told us this land is under the Malaysian Highway Authority (MHA),” said temple committee member Thanapakiam Krishnan. During a Hindu festival on Friday night, Thanapakiam said the Devi Sri Samundieswary temple is sitting on land gazetted as a road reserve. Situated next to the Sunway toll along the Damansara-Puchong highway (LDP), the temple was moved 20 years ago. “The temple used to be in an area where the LDP is now. When we were moved here, we were promised that we wouldn’t be disturbed. “But 20 years ago, a circular was issued by Majlis Perbandaran Subang Jaya (MPSJ) saying that this is private land and they want to demolish the temple,” Thanapakiam said. The 70-year-old temple has been located on a piece of land at the end of Jalan PJS 9/1 for the past 40 years, of which it has yet to be given ownership. Thanapakiam said a follow-up meeting is to be held with MHA to decide on the issue in the next few weeks. Also at the festival was Subang Jaya assemblyperson Hannah Yeoh, who was briefed by MHA. She confirmed that the temple sits on land gazetted as highway reserve. “The meeting recently was called by the land office, but the highway authorities didn’t turn up,” said Yeoh. She added that the land office will continue to seek the highway authority’s attendance, and hoped that all parties could sit down to resolve the issue.

MARCH 25 — 27, 2011


Temple members listening to speeches after the ceremony.

Yeoh assured temple-goers that since the beginning of her term, the state had issued a guideline for all issues regarding temple land ownership to be resolved. Kelana Jaya Member of Parliament Loh Gwo Burne, who was also at the temple, said he would be working with Yeoh to resolve the land issue.

Know Your Councillor: Lim Lip Suan
By Basil Foo KLANG: Introducing a competition to get markets here to clean up their act is among the novel ideas by Lim Lip Suan of the Klang Municipal Council (MPK). The three-term councillor, who has given up his career as a sales manager in a listed company to serve his community full time, said the competition will start in May. “The competition will run until December, and we hope to change the public’s perception that morning and night markets are dirty and untidy,” said Lim. With RM1,500 awaiting the first prize winner, Lim hopes his brainchild will boost tourism to his district, which he says has the most number of hawkers in the country. His daily rounds include visiting his jurisdiction, Zone N48C, which includes Taman Selatan, Taman Palm Grove, Taman Chi Leung, Taman Petaling, Taman Bayu Perdana, and Taman Radzi. “I try to anticipate and solve any rubbish problems, potholes, clogged drainage, and malfunctioning streetlights before residents complain,” he said. A major problem his area and almost half of Klang has been facing for 10 years is frequent flash floods, which has yet to be remedied. “The expansion and deepening of mon-

New president to strengthen council’s finances
By Tang Hui Koon SELAYANG: Further improving the Sepang Municipal Council’s (MPS) financial standing is among the top priorities of Datuk Zainal Abidin Aala. “About 40% of the MPS annual budget goes to rubbish collection ... so there is a need to get more revenue for the council,” said the municipality’s new president. The former Hulu Langat district officer, who clocked in on Monday, said  MPS had managed to collect up to 90% of the assessments in 2010. But he urged staff to work with him to improve the council’s financial position by further improving the collection assessment rate and other sources of income. Zainal said he would also focus on ensuring that public complaints are promptly attended to by MPS. “We receive 8,000 complaints on rubbish collection, faulty streetlights, dirty drains, floods and potholes,” he said. He pointed out that while the majority of these complaints have been solved, there was still room for improvement. “My aim is to make Datuk Zainal Abidin Aala MPS the best local council in Selangor,” he said, adding residents.   that this included improving The 57-year-old father of the level of service to rate- five is from Perak, and has payers to ensure they get also served in the Immigravalue for money. tion, National Registration MPS jurisdiction covers and Public Services Depart564sq km and has 680,000 ments.

soon drain systems is a mega project which cannot be solved so easily due to budget constraints,” he said. He adds that the most challenging aspect of his job is making residents aware of their own responsibilities when it comes to rubbish clearance, as it is a shared duty between them and MPK. A resident of Klang himself, he said people have a big role to play in any problem concerning rubbish, and can contribute through conscientious acts like recycling. “As Klang is the second largest city in Malaysia with a population of more than one million, it should be cleaner and greener than it is now,” he said. Lim, who is married, enjoys reading several newspapers a day to keep abreast with current issues, and attributes his level of commitment to the fact that he does not have any children.

Court rules Selcat legal, sets aside opposition suit
SHAH ALAM: The High Court here ruled the Special Select Committee for Competency, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) a legal entity, and set aside a suit by three state opposition lawmakers. Selangor Speaker Datuk Teng Chang Khim said the decision of Justice Datuk Zaleha Yusof on Monday affirmed the legal standing of the select committee, which was established to keep a check and balance on the state administration. In the suit filed on Nov 9, 2009, Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Datuk Raja Ideris Raja Ahmad (Sungai Air Tawar), Hasiman Sidom (Morib) and Wong Koon Mun (Kuala Kubu Baru) sought a declaration that Selcat was in breach of standing orders, state laws and the Federal Constitution. They also asserted that the state watchdog, established by the Selangor legislative assembly, had acted in excess of its jurisdiction. The assemblypersons also wanted the court to declare that the formation of Selcat and its proceedings were null and void. Teng said with the decision, he hoped the Attorney-General would initiate legal actions against individuals who were summoned but failed to attend Selcat hearings. “This includes Datin Seri Zahrah Kechik, wife of former Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo,” said Teng. A police report was lodged against her when she failed to testify in an inquiry on the misuse of funds by a state-funded charity she headed.

MARCH 25 — 27, 2011

Seeking an end to water woes
By Basil Foo

SHAH ALAM: Residents of Pelangi Damansara met Elizabeth Wong on Monday to discuss ways of preventing another water disruption at their apartments due to outstanding arrears. The Bukit Lanjan assemblyperson, who had helped resolve the crisis last week, brought together the affected residents and apartment management to settle the problem once and for all. Several steps were planned during the meeting to repay the amount owed by the apartment owners and to ensure no water bill backlog accumulates again. “The developers have begun an application process with Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) to change the water meters from bulk meters to individual,” said Wong. The executive councillor, who met the parties at her office in the state secretariat, said while some units in Pelangi Damansara owed RM50 to RM100, others owed RM5,000 or more. As such, the water cut might not have been justified for the residents who owed less. She also said residents who have not changed from bulk to individual meters

could contact the Selangor Housing and Property Board. “The Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) will also check the apartment units as there have been reports of 10 to 20 people in one unit,” she said. This could have driven the amount owed higher than what would normally be owed by a single unit. Apartment units can only have six tenants by law, and if the number is found to have exceeded the limit, MBPJ will contact the apartment unit owner. Another step which would be taken by the Commissioner of Buildings is to seize the apartment units of those who do not clear their arrears within six months. Wong said a schedule had been discussed with Syabas to complete the collection of arrears within the next six months, with at least RM100 per month from each unit. She also warned of fraudulent money collectors and said only the developers with official receipts should collect the arrears and payment for the meters with a deposit of RM100 and RM30 for each meter. “A total of RM200,000 is owed by an average of 50% of 1,128 units in Block A, B, and C of Pelangi Damansara,” said apartment management representative Joseph Alphonso.

Wong, Alphonso (fourth from left), and Petaling Jaya councillor Chan Chee Kong (third from right) with the mock cheque for free water.

During a press conference after the meeting, he related how the apartment experienced a four-day drought when their water was cut off on March 9. A resident of Block B and the apartment’s surau chairperson, Haji Abu Bakar, thanked Wong and the team for helping to restore water to Pelangi Damansara.

“On our part as residents, I would also like to extend my thanks for the free water coupons,” he said. Under the state government’s scheme, RM11.40 in water, which adds up to 20 cubic metres, was given to each apartment unit for those who have not changed from the bulk meters.

Litterbugs to pay dearly
PETALING JAYA: The Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) will not spare giving litterbugs a hefty fine to ensure the municipality stay green and clean, said mayor Datuk Roslan Sakiman. He said the city council will take stern action against business operators and restaurant owners to stop illegal dumping, which he described as a “persistent menace”. “We organise neighbourhood gotongroyong, but the rubbish piles up again after two days,” he said after the launch of a herb garden in Kota Damansara. He said MBPJ will issue a RM500 fine on the spot for littering – be it bags of rubbish or something as small as a cigarette butt. Roslan lamented that the neighbourhood clean-ups are not effective as residents continue to litter and dump rubbish illegally. He also said residents only came out to clean Herb garden in Kota Damansara. their neighbourhoods during gotong-royong, but reiterated that keeping their area clean was “full-time” work. MBPJ enforcement unit officers would make the rounds and monitor areas that are being used as illegal dumpsites. He added that the MBPJ was trying to create green areas that are clean and free of rubbish in the city. “Green areas are very important, and we’ve a part to play in caring and restoring [such] areas. The public shouldn’t just rely on the city council, but instead be involved in greening their environment,” he said. Roslan commended Friends of Kota Damansara (FOKD) chairperson Dr Jeffery Phang and his group for creating the herb garden at the Kota Damansara community forest reserve. The 343-hectare forest park was re-gazetted as a reserve by the state in March last year after requests from nature groups such as FOKD to preserve the forested area. Roslan said he would be asking the Selangor Forest Department to deploy rangers at the Gotong-royong in progress. forest to guide visitors.

MBPJ to showcase role of disabled women

Bathmavathi (second from right) with other representatives at the press conference on Tuesday.

By Alvin Yap

PETALING JAYA: Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) is celebrating International Women’s Day by organising a forum, handicraft workshop and exhibition with disabled women’s advocacy groups on Sunday. “MBPJ is the first local council to celebrate Women’s Day with disabled women in mind,” said  Bathmavathi Krishnan of the Association of Women with Disabilities Malaysia (Pewakum). Bathmavathi said the event, Disabled Women Leading in Sustainable Community Development, would showcase the role disabled women play in society. She called on disabled women to attend the half-day event on Sunday, starting at 8am at the MBPJ Operations Room. Participants will receive a MBPJ Clinic card for free treatments, and the city council’s health teams will also conduct breast cancer awareness check-ups with blood tests. There will be video presentations and exhibitions on disabled women in various occupations. Participants are asked to bring their own food containers in line with MBPJ’s environment-friendly policy.

During the press conference on Tuesday, Bathmavathi said nearly half of Petaling Jaya’s population consisted of women, with 5-10% of them being disabled. Disabled women have the same responsibilities and abilities as other able-bodied women, she said. “Disabled women are working as librarians, in management, and as students. They’re in every walk of life,” she said. Sia Siew Chin of the Beautiful Gate foundation for the disabled said the group will assist in providing transportation with its two disabled-friendly vans. The vans will pick up participants from their homes on the day of the event. Participants can call 03-78750943 or 012-4230604 or email to register for the free pick-up. Similarly, MBPJ will also use its Orang Kurang Upaya (OKU) Transit vans to provide transportation for the disabled participants, said councillor Tiew Way Keng. “We want all the women with disabilities who work and stay in Petaling Jaya to attend this event,” said Tiew. The event is jointly organised with other disabled advocacy groups. Tiew said it is targeting some 100 participants.

wit pleasure
Lee Hwok Aun

urderously deforested Sarawak goes to their state polls soon. The world remains transfixed on the frenzy to cool down Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plants. And the Malaysian government refuses to impose a moratorium on its plans for nuclear energy. Er, what’s the link? Exploiting nuclear energy, like pillaging our forest, is a trouble-sure, self-destructive, “Me, too!” project. Others have done it, and so shall we. This is the line spun by our federal government on our “right” to deforest as much as fast as we please, most vehemently by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, while Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud has preferred to conspire in the shadows.   Malaysia holds the dishonourable distinction of being the world’s largest exporter of tropical logs, mostly from Sarawak. In 2006, we exported more than Indonesia, which, in second place, has a forest cover that is four times ours; and number three Brazil, which has 23 times more forested area.  We could have said “not me” and done things differently: managed our forest resources responsibly and sustainably from the start. Instead, we pointed to countries that have had their glory days of deforestation and huffed that we will have ours, too. Then we will get rich and declare ourselves developed.  The Najib administration has not convincingly demonstrated that future energy needs offer no alternatives to nuclear power, or come up with a credible plan for reducing power usage and investing in cleaner and safer technologies.   One cannot help but notice the growing list of countries planning to go nuclear. There’s Turkey, United Arab Emirates,


Malaysia’s “Me, too!” mentality
The nuclear industry has grown in sophistication and extensively engages in politicking, through lobby groups like the academically named Nuclear Energy Institute. It makes you wonder what may be shrouded from us about current hazards.”
Egypt, and Bangladesh – peers as well as subordinates in terms of national income level. Perhaps a greater itch is caused by the nuclear ambitions of neighbours Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.   Many are saying, if the Japanese can’t avert crisis, what more us? While that has elements of truth, it misses the fundamental problems and systemic risks associated with nuclear energy.   One argument that will be trotted out is that nuclear energy is “safe”. The number of major crises is few, most prominently Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986, and now Fukushima. But even if Japan escapes catastrophic meltdown and mass fatalities, there are solid grounds to reject nuclear power. Anything related to nuclear fission is exceptional – exceptionally dangerous to humankind. We are dealing with radioactive material that can cause untold damage – and the worst hit will be communities who cannot afford to live safe distances from the power plants. Only two atomic bombs have ever been detonated on human settlement, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Does that make nuclear weapons more palatable? The cold war doctrine of “mutually assured destruction” (splendidly acronymed MAD) held that nobody would be the first to use it because the enemy will retaliate and both sides will be annihilated. Yup, that worked – as long as there was an arms race.   A parallel logic applied to nuclear power

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March 25 — 27, 2011

would be that the potential disaster is so bad, no one will let it happen. Actually, everyone will hope that the disaster happens to someone else first.  Wikileaks’ release of cables from the US embassy in Tokyo is now widely known. Taro Kono, a member of Japan’s Lower House, claimed that “Japanese electric companies are hiding the costs and safety problems associated with nuclear energy”, and have suppressed development of alternative energy sources. Further compounding the problem, nuclear power contains a lethal mix of huge costs – to build, operate and dispose waste – and political protection. Greg Palast, an investigative journalist and former regulatory agency researcher, reports that American power company Stone & Webster lied about its “Seismic Qualification” at its Shoreham plant in New York in 1988 – two years after Chernobyl! They were failing that requisite test, and it would have cost a financially calamitous one billion dollars to change that result, so the company fraudulently passed itself. Two engineers blew the whistle on their employers. If not for them, and for the existence of regulatory oversight and intrepid journalism, we might have never found out.   The nuclear industry has grown in sophistication and extensively engages in politicking, through lobby groups like the academically named Nuclear Energy Institute. It makes you wonder what may be shrouded from us about current hazards.  So what do we do? Halt this hurried lurch toward nuclear power. Like rampant logging, don’t do it just because others have done it or are doing it.  Emulate the right things. Why don’t we look at advanced economies’ energy-saving measures, efficient transport systems, excellent education institutions, democratic practices, and high levels of critical and creative expression, and scream, “Me, too!”?

Tracking the pulse of Penang

jan 2009












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Penang Economic Monthly is a monthly magazine dedicated to socio-economic issues in Penang, offering reliable socio-economic data as well as informative articles on the arts,the industry, culture and social issues that are relevant to today’s generation of Malaysians. Available nationwide at bookshops and newsstands.

12 MARCH 25 — 27, 2011


Malaysia needs equitable healthcare system
By Toh Kin Woon

Healthcare costs and challenges
By Dr David Quek, president, Malaysian Medical Association

few years a g o, the government announced its intention to restructure the countr y’s health system, particularly the financing and delivery of health services. But is the increasing privatisation and marketisation of health services desirable? How can Malaysia’s healthcare system be made more equitable? Any humane society must adopt the principle that healthcare is a right of all its citizens. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.” A system that provides for universal and comprehensive health benefits to all must be put in place. Access to healthcare should be based on need and not ability to pay. Until the mid-1980s, the government did a reasonably good job of providing a satisfactory healthcare service for all. This was achieved through the setting up of rural health clinics, including maternity clinics and hospitals, which were all publicly funded, except for a few not-forprofit private hospitals and private clinics in urban areas. The emphasis then was on the provision of primary healthcare. There was also an effective public health system. Public health activities included disease control, family health, school health programmes, food quality control and health education. The improvement of Malaysian health standards since Merdeka was recognised by the World Health Organisation and held out as a model for other developing countries to emulate. We were able to keep costs down, while at the same time provide relatively equitable and adequate healthcare. Although there were some private sector health service providers, the government was the main provider. Services rendered were financed out of general taxation, so that for the bulk of patients, health services were obtained for almost nothing. It is important to note that the overutilisation of specialists (which regularly occurs today) was averted as general practitioners played an effective role as gatekeepers. Since the mid-1980s, problems and challenges began to emerge as a result of increasing privatisation and marketisation of health services. Likewise, the burden of financing the total costs of health services is now shared between the public and private sectors – where co-payment of certain services has now been introduced, instead of the government financing it all. Under the principle of co-payments, patients are now required to pay high collateral payments for the treatment of several procedures, including orthopaedic procedures that require plates and nails, lenses for cataracts, clips for surgical procedures, drug-coated stents for angioplasties,
Partial privatisation of healthcare services


and certain anti-cancer drugs. This jeopardises the principle of equitable access to health services for all Malaysians, some of whom may not be able to afford these treatments.
Liberal economic ideology advocated by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank

Hospital services such as cleaning, laundry and clinical waste management have been outsourced to the private sector. Ironically, such privatisation has increased the cost of servicing the health system. Private hospitals have proliferated over the last two decades, adding to the supply capacity of private healthcare delivery, which now comprises GPs, specialist clinics, hospitals, diagnostic and dialysis centres, dental clinics and pharmacies. While most of these are for profit, there are some that are run on a voluntary and charitable basis. The contributions of these not-for-profit private healthcare service providers towards helping improve access, especially by the poor, to critical life-saving services, have been immense. But the establishment and operation of these not-forprofit health centres also highlight the need for critical life-saving services that have been largely unmet by the public sector health system. Meanwhile, the government continues to subject the provision of more and more health services to market forces; for instance, the establishment of private dispensaries and private wings in government hospitals, promotion of health tourism in several private hospitals and raising the fees for foreign workers. Part of the capacity in the Putrajaya and Selayang Hospitals has been utilised for the provision of services to patients who will be charged according to what they can afford. Meanwhile, private clinics (after 5pm) have been set up at Universiti Hospital and a few other public hospitals in several parts of the country.
Problems arising from partial privatisation of health services

Equitable access to healthcare is no longer assured, and increasingly, the government is shifting part of the burden of financing the costs of health services to the public. The excuse is that costs have escalated and may reach levels beyond the means of the government. Currently, the federal government’s spending on health (as a percentage of gross domestic product [GDP]) is less than what the World Health Organisation has proposed for developing countries. The continued expansion of private healthcare providers has led to a distortion in the allocation of resources. Under the two-tier system, which has come to character-

ise our country’s health system, such allocations are driven increasingly by profit. Medical specialists and other para-medical staff continue to leave the public for the private sector as more and more patients seek treatment and care in the public sector. This has led to a mismatch of supply and demand. It is estimated that 75% of all admissions are to government hospitals, but only 25% to 30% of the total number of medical specialists work in these hospitals. This mismatch has led to a relatively poorer quality of healthcare, as the capacity to treat critical illnesses in public hospitals is unable to match the demand for it. The victims of this increasingly distorted system are of course, the poor, irrespective of race and gender. Meanwhile, the richer segments of society enjoy better treatment in private hospitals. This has no doubt further widened the divide between rich and poor in Malaysian society, a divide that is fast growing due to the unequal distribution of income, and unequal access to basic needs such as housing, transport and education. In the private sector, where service is premised on the ability to pay, consumers who can afford to pay for access to costly medical check-ups and treatments do not need to be screened by GPs (performing the role of gatekeepers). This is unlike the public sector where patients have to be carefully screened over a few rounds by medical officers before they can get to see specialists. Long waiting lists in the public healthcare sector are not uncommon. How does Malaysia’s healthcare become more equitable? Illnesses and healthcare should not be viewed as commodities and hence as a source of huge profits. When healthcare is viewed as a commodity, there will be pressure for its rationing through the price system which tends to yield unequal access. Those in favour of increasing marketisation of health services will no doubt argue that consumers ought to have some freedom of choice as to whether to seek healthcare in the public or private sector. But this freedom is clearly only enjoyed by those with the ability to pay while those who cannot afford to will find this freedom of choice to be bereft of any practical meaning. For those of us who want universal access to healthcare, not just quantitatively but qualitatively, we must respect the fact that all Malaysian citizens and residents are equal, and that greater wealth cannot buy more or better health. A more equitable system can only come about through a national health system that is financed out of general taxation. I have to be quick to point out my opposition to the use of value-added tax (VAT) as a source of financing healthcare as VAT is largely regressive and can be burdensome to the poor. It has been suggested that the poor can be exempted after passing a means test. However, experiences in other countries have shown that means tests lead to delays and

more often than not exclude the poor from enjoying this exemption. An alternative is a social insurance scheme providing cover to all Malaysians, with the government being the sole payer. The government should remain the key provider of healthcare to be financed out of income taxation. It has to assume the responsibility of ensuring that effective and equitable healthcare be delivered to the entire population. As such, allocations for healthcare can and must continue to rise until we achieve at least the standard set by WHO – 5% of GDP. The financing of this can easily be raised from income tax and corporation tax (which includes contributions from Petronas). Developing countries need to learn one important lesson – that controlling health expenditure, while hoping to provide universal coverage and equal access to healthcare, cannot be achieved through the market mechanism. A public insurance system for the financing of healthcare services that is largely funded through general taxation can improve access to healthcare and also play an important role in “nation building” and community solidarity, as it emphasizes a fundamental equality among citizens. On the other end of the scale, private health insurance is not a viable option for financing healthcare as it often engages in “cream skimming”, which excludes the very people most in need of protection – the poor and the unhealthy – while providing protection to the rich and healthy. Finally, the government ought to involve representative civil society groups, political parties and consumer groups representing the interests of the poor and marginalised in any reformulation of the country’s health system. Only by taking their views seriously can there be a chance of a new health system that is just, equitable, efficient and cost-effective. – This article first appeared in the March issue of Penang Economic Monthly.

WHILE the government is determined to improve access to healthcare for more and more Malaysians, underlying logistical problems and manpower constraints appear to hamper a smoother implementation of a more comprehensive cohesive system. Perhaps one issue that has not been adequately addressed or debated is that of healthcare costs. Improving and modernising healthcare systems and enhancing remuneration benefits incur huge costs. Finding the funding needed will pose a serious problem, if not now, then surely in the near future. The emphasis on medical tourism as another engine of growth for the economy is also overstated, given the small potential addition to the country’s coffers – the forecast growth to the RM2bil target by 2015 (from RM399mil in 2008) will only be a very small percentage of the country’s overall gross domestic product of more than RM700bil. What is the Malaysia Medical Association’s stand on the issue of full paying patients (FPPs)? The MMA has always supported better remuneration for doctors and specialists in the public health sector, although in this particular issue of FPPs, the MMA has some reservations. We have always been working closely with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the government, including the Public Service Department, for better conditions and wages and other perks for our doctors. We recognise that doctors who opt to remain in service often place a lot of their potential earnings on hold and sacrifice a lot for their civic duty and responsibilities. So in this context, should the MOH allow specialists in public hospitals to be given a choice to have private practice? Earlier, this was in the form of limited private practice at private medical centres and the universities to help make their service conditions more attractive, and perhaps to help retain their much-needed services in the public sector. While this has possibly helped to stem the outflow of experienced staff to the private sector, this approach has been criticised for some abuses. It has been pointed out repeatedly that some specialists appear to spend more time in private practice than in the public health facilities, thus

undermining the services provided for the less privileged. Some poor patients have also been asked to go to private wings or centres for quicker access to surgeries or procedures, which has caused complaints of unfair rationing, pressure and preferential treatment. Therefore, the MMA feels that better regulatory limits be put in place to clearly define how many hours doctors can work in the private sector versus the public institutions, where the patient load is far more onerous. The approach of using public hospitals for FPPs may put the pressure on doctors to subconsciously prefer these patients and may encourage queue jumping, and even undermine natural justice of fair waiting times and queues for limited resources. This may be a natural human response to immediate “reward” for services, but is unfair in the context of a public sector expectation, where equitable care should be the standard. So we hope the MOH and government will seriously reconsider this move. Particularly at this time when the economy is far from being healthy, and many people are still reeling from the financial crisis. Perhaps a better system of healthcare financing or insurance can be put in place before embarking on this sort of “luxury” or “Cadillac”buying move for healthcare services. Nevertheless, the MMA has always been worried about our very heavily subsidised healthcare, so much so that our rakyat does not seem to understand that healthcare is not free, and that someone has to pay for it! Having a system where the poor pay only RM1 for clinic visits and medications is not sustainable in the long term, no matter that this seems to be politically correct and popular! So the government has painted itself into a corner. We recognise that the government would love to continue to provide nearly free medical and healthcare for everyone, but the mechanism for financing is far from adequate or structured sufficiently well. We do not have enough allocations for such a heavily subsidised system of healthcare. There has to be a form of tax or insurance buying that is big enough and purely allocated for healthcare for this to work. But is the rakyat ready for this new form of tax or social insurance scheme? Perhaps the time has come to bite the bullet and expose the reality behind the healthcare costs: there are no shortterm measures just for political grandstanding moves which cannot be sustained.

Malaysia’s two-tier health system
By Datuk Seri Dr T Devaraj, chairperson, Malaysian Hospice Council
All images:

“THE trickle of doctors to the private sector is now a flood which takes place at the expense of the public sector. Encouraging health tourism is a sure way to further encourage this internal brain drain. But is health tourism a priority for this country?”

“When you have a hammer in your hand, everything looks like a nail. Rather than going to GPs for annual health checks, patients are turning to private specialists who can offer a wide range of sometimes unnecessary tests.” “Although medicines in Malaysia are regulated carefully, there is no regulation for the import of medical devices – there are more MRI scanners in the Klang Valley than in the whole of Australia!”

Casting votes for Lord Bobo to lead Malaysia?
ear Supreme Being, when I vote in the next general election, do I vote based on person, party, or policy? How to decide? @izmil_amri, via Twitter FIRSTLY, you should reject any candidate who resorts to bribery or threats as a form of political persuasion, whether or not you take the money. If you do take the money for whatever reason, that sum and the circumstances under which you receive it should, of course, be reported to the police because it is a criminal offence under Sections 9 and 10 of the Election Offences Act 1954. The offence is punishable with two years’ imprisonment and a fine of between RM1,000 and RM5,000 pursuant to Section 11 of the same Act. And, surprisingly, this includes promises or guarantees that certain acts would be done. Surprising not because it is included as an offence, but because it is obviously not enforced. Next, avoid partisanship. That means not being blindly loyal to one party or the other. There is no place for blind loyalty when it comes to political parties and politicians. Save the blind loyalty for football. Especially if you’re a Liverpool fan, you’ll need lots of that stuff. So what if you have been voting for the same party for last 50 years or more? As a voting citizen, you are not there to serve a political party’s interests. It is – or rather, should be – the other way around. A political party is there to serve your interests. Ask yourself: has your favourite political party been performing? (You see why Liverpool fans need that blind loyalty now?) Does their political vision for our country accord with your own views? Do they even have a political vision? What is their stand on issues on issues that matter to you? This is what it means to think deeply about your political choice – asking the right questions and searching for the answers in a political party’s performance. When you do so, it becomes clear that your consideration of whom you should vote for in the coming and future general election is based on their stand on issues that matter to you. If, for example, you find the quality of security in the country to be unsatisfactory, and that there has been no improvement despite much moaning, groaning, grumbling, and all sorts of other complaining noises, you should consider what the other parties’ stand on that issue is. The party that most closely agrees with your view is naturally the party you should consider favourably. It is easy to get caught up in the hoopla and spin-doctored wizardry that surrounds any elections. But don’t allow yourself to be confused by the cult of personality of any individual, or pledge blind loyalty (and your votes) to a particular party. Consider the issues. Consider the interests of the rakyat. Consider your interests. And don’t get distracted by hidden-camera footage of elderly men performing impressive acts of dexterity and stamina – well, you can watch those videos if you’re into that kinda thing, but when you’re done, have a cold shower, clear your head, and then make a proper decision on where your vote is going to go.

MARCH 25 — 27, 2011


h Lord Bobo, if you were “elected” prime minister of Malaysia, what would you do? @derekqiren, via Twitter

Ask Lord Bobo is a weekly column by LoyarBurok ( where all your profound, abstruse, erudite, hermetic, recondite, sagacious, and other thesaurus-described queries are answered!

TO be honest, this question doesn’t really excite the imagination of His Supreme Eminenceness. I mean, we’re talking about a wonder typewriting monkey who has sailed with Marco Polo, dined with Pachacuti in Macchu Pichu, jammed with Jeff Buckley, and bedded Marilyn Monroe. Being elected prime minister of Malaysia? Meh. But Lord Bobo is nothing if not munificent, so we will deign to partake of this question. First, we will set up a Swiss bank account to collect all the perks that come with the job. Second, as a favour to a close friend, we will set up a division within the “Special Police” to assist VVIPs in  dealing with problematic partners from extra-marital affairs.  Third, when faced with complaints by the public about inflation and stagnant income levels, we will gently advise them to change their lifestyle, but at the same time approve multi-billion-ringgit mega projects.  Fourth, appoint an international public relations company to come up with a spirited but ambiguous slogan to mesmerise and perplex the public at the same time, so that they will not notice His Lord and Ladyship taking more overseas trips (ostensibly for work, but really for shopping) than all the former prime

ministers combined. Fifth, come up with a recipe for powergrabbing a state from the enemy. Main ingredient? Frogs. Sixth, if there is any free time left and there is something in it for our relatives or friends, do something for the little people. Err, sorry, wrong script.  That was the Road To Tunisia.  Let’s start again. The administration of His Supreme Eminenceness will have at its core a policy of respect for the life, liberty and dignity of the individual. This is the basic foundation which gives birth to all principles of human rights – for example, equality, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion.  His Lordship will enact a Human Rights Act, outlaw all discrimination on racial and religious ground and at the same time set up a Racial Reconciliation Council and an Interfaith Council. Lord Bobo will drag this country kicking and screaming into the 21st century, from third world to first world. Recalcitrant members of society will be sent to an all expenses paid holiday retreat at LoyarBurok Assimilation Centres, which will be set up throughout the nation. From alpha to omega, you will be made one of us.

Speaker upset with book on Dewan Rakyat
the speaker to be given such wide powers unless “the speaker’s independence and impartiality can be convincingly demonstrated”. Usually speakers are appointed by the ruling coalition, but due to the nature of the appointment, their neutrality has often been questioned as well. However, Pandikar Amin defended himself by elaborating on the challenges of being (From right) Loh, Pandikar Amin, Thomas Knirsh from a speaker, stressing that the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee, and Dewan Negara president Tan Sri Abu publisher should have got his Zahar Ujang. side of the story. One of the editors of the KUALA LUMPUR: Parliamentary book, The Nut Graph assistant news editor Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia went Deborah Loh, said the article merely stated on the defensive in the face of critical com- the observations of the writer on the speaker. ments levelled against him in a chapter of “It’s up to the readers to decide for themnewly launched book Understanding the selves [whether they perceive the speaker to Dewan Rakyat. be independent and impartial],” said Loh. “I always consider [this when sitting in Edited by Loh and The Nut Graph editor the Dewan]: ‘Am I doing the right thing?’ … Jacqueline Ann Surin, the book contains the I don’t want to be a laughing stock [too],” profiles of all Members of Parliament and their said Pandikar at the book launch in Parlia- stand on six key issues, including the Internal ment on Wednesday. Security Act (ISA) and the Islamic state issue. He was responding to a particular chapter, “You might think that Barisan Nasional The Speaker: Functions and powers, written by MPs would steadfastly defend the ISA, but lawyer Norshila Shahar, on the wide discre- we’ve found that several disagree with it in its tionary powers provided to the speaker by the present form and are open to reviews. Standing Orders. “There are [also] BN MPs who wish that Norshila writes that it is problematic for the party whip would be used less so that they could vote freely on matters of conscience,” Loh said. The book is an expansion of online news site The Nut Graph’s MP Watch: Eye on Parliament project, sponsored by German foundation Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. All 222 MPs were invited to take part in the project, with 113 responding and the remaining 109 choosing not to participate. The MPs were also asked if they would support a Freedom of Information Act to reflect on their roles as MPs, and suggest ways to improve parliamentary democracy in Malaysia. Lastly, the MPs had to state if they believed in the separation of powers among the executive, legislature and judiciary. Analyses of their responses on the six key issues are also in the 564-page book. The Bar Council’s MyConstitution team contributed to the chapters on the introduction to the country’s parliamentary democracy. A series of public forums will be organised in the coming months to promote discussion on the issues raised in the book. The first forum, The Roles and Challenges of an MP, will be held on Sunday at Leonardo’s Dining Room and Wine Loft in Bangsar at 3pm. The panellists are Chua Tian Chua (PKRBatu), Nancy Shukri (PBB-Batang Sadong) and Teo Nie Ching (DAP-Serdang). Published by ZI Publications and priced at RM95, the book will be available  at public forums and major bookstores in the middle of next month.

Bukit Mertajam MP Chong Eng receiving complimentary copies of the book for Penang MPs.

Papa Orang Utan’s surprise guest appearance
KUALA LUMPUR: Celebrated deejay of Radio Free Sarawak, better known as Papa Orang Utan, made a surprise online appearance at a political forum here last Friday night to the delight of the 200-odd audience. Papa Orang Utan, whose real name is Peter John Jaban from Kuching, appeared to be in tears when the line was first connected via internet chatting programme Skype. A staunch opponent of Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, Jaban shared his experience on operating the guerilla radio station from London with the audience. Jaban said he used to work in a land office in Sarawak. He further claimed that he stole the documents before he left in order to expose how the Sarawak government was stealing the natives’ land. “I met Clare (Brown, his partner in Radio Free Sarawak) at the
Panellists (from left) Bujang, Sui, moderator and political scientist Wong Chin Huat, Mujah and Minggat.

March 25 — 27, 2011

news 15

Saujana Rawang house buyers receive keys
By Alvin Yap

Batang Ai by-election (in April 2009),” he said, explaining that was how he started the station with her. Jaban claimed he would continue to expose Taib’s misdeeds in Sarawak. The Sarawak state assembly was dissolved on Monday, paving way for the state’s tenth state elections. Taib, who has been in power for three decades, also announced last

Saturday he might step down at the mid-term of next state assembly, but did not specify a date. Also at the forum titled Sarawak: Land, Adat and Election were prominent Sarawak indigenous activists Nicholas Mujah, Mark Bujang and Abun Sui. Sui said Sarawak natives were better off under former British Brooke family as they had recog-

nised the indigenous peoples’ native customary land boundaries and respected their tanah adat. On the contrary, the current Sarawak government only recognised selective portions of the native land customs. As such, land conflicts often arise between logging or oil palm companies and the natives. Mujah said there are currently

307 land conflict cases, of both civil and criminal nature, pending in the Sarawak courts. Minggat Nyakim from Sarikei and Suin Saleh from Ranggung Sah, Ulu Niah also spoke at the forum. Minggat, 60, alleged that he and his son were beaten by employees of a logging company that was encroaching on his land. Both were hospitalised and had just recovered recently. Suin claimed that two buses of men were sent to his village by an oil palm company encroaching on their land to intimidate them. He said the gang leader was arrested for possessing explosive materials after the villagers lodged a police report. The forum was jointly organised by election watchdog Bersih 2.0 and LoyarBurok at Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall last Friday.

RAWANG: Seven house buyers received the keys to their newly built low-cost homes here at Saujana Rawang from Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim on Sunday. “The buyers will get good value from their purchase. This is a good investment for them,” Khalid said. “For other buyers, you’ll receive good value for your houses at below RM300,000. I’m sure you’ll get good capital gain of RM80,000,”
Khalid handing over a mock key to a house buyer.

Park in Klang to be upgraded
KLANG: Recreational park Taman Rakyat in Taman Seri Andalas will be upgraded this year after the local council received several complaints about its maintenance. Klang councillor P Sundarajoo said only portions of the park would be closed during upgrading work. “The public will still be able to access the park,” Sundarajoo told Selangor Times on Monday. Representatives from mosque, surau and residents’ associations He added that tender for the with Dr Xavier (front, third from left) after receiving donations from upgrading works, including on him. the jogging track, staircase and earthwork, was opened two weeks ago. for repairworks. He said the cost of upgrading the park is estimated He also donated RM2,000 to Surau Islamiah and at RM100,000. Tenders will be awarded next month RM2,500 to Masjid Jamek Ar Rahimiah within his and construction scheduled to start soon after. constituency. Seri Andalas assemblyperson Dr Xavier Jayakumar Three other residents’ associations also received said the cost would be borne by the state and chan- RM500 each. They were the Taman Raja Nong nelled to the Klang Municipal Council. Residents’ Association, Seri Proton Apartment Dr Xavier was speaking at an event at Surau Da- Residents’ Association, and Persatuan Rukun Tetrul Najihin, where he donated RM5,000 to the surau angga Desawan.

Khalid told prospective house buyers at the launch of Glomac Rawang’s 140-hectare development. The seven home owners are expected to move into their homes within three months. He said property purchase is a huge investment for families, and that the state would step in to ensure that developers are on track in completing their housing projects. “From the state’s records, I see there are 100 buyers so far. Thirtythree of them have their loans approved, with seven of them today receiving their keys today,” said Khalid. He also said he was satisfied with Glomac Rawang’s progress, adding that the developer has completed 25%, to date, of its low-cost house construction as required by the state. Some 250 visitors attended the two-day launch, said sales and marketing manager Ezwan Zainal. “The prospective buyers are looking to buy landed property for

RM300,000, an amount that can only get you a condominium in other areas,” he said. He said the up-and-coming township, located next to Rantau Panjang Forest Reserve, is a 30-minute drive from Kuala Lumpur via the Jalan Duta toll. The centrepiece of the development is a lake with jogging track and Balinese theme parks around it, Ezwn said. The township also includes a primary and secondary school and a mosque. Saujana Rawang is offering five phases, with houses from 1,050 to 1,620sq ft built-up area. During the launch, group executive vice-chairperson Datuk Richard Fong presented a RM3,000 cheque to Saujana Rawang residents to construct a surau and other amenities. Also present at the event was Selangor Housing and Property Board director Datin Alinah Ahmad.

Showhouse unit at Saujana Rawang.

MARCH 25 — 27, 2011

By Basil Foo

Potholes posing danger to motorists
going on in this area, we believe the road conditions always deteriorate due to heavy machinery using the roads,” she said. The Jalan Serdang Raya-Jalan PuchongSungai Besi Highway interchange project started in December 2006 and was supposed to have been completed within two years. Costing RM14.4mil, the project has been stalled since July 2010 when JKR dropped the contractor due to incompetence. “The deputy minster of works told me then that it required four months to appoint a new contractor through an open tender process,” Teo said. She was also told that it would take another six months to complete the project. However, eight months after the project was stalled, nothing seems to be moving. “There have been many complaints from the public who are worried the interchange might collapse if a vehicle accidentally runs into the supporting scaffolding,” she added. MPSJ councillor Chong Hoon Ming, who also visited the site, said he faced standard answers when bringing up road issues during monthly meetings with JKR.

SERI KEMBANGAN: Bad road conditions, malfunctioning traffic lights and an uncompleted interchange project have put drivers in Taman Serdang Raya at risk. “I have received complaints from motorists that the potholes are causing accidents which damage their vehicles,” said Serdang Member of Parliament Teo Nie Ching during a site visit last week. She said the problem had been occurring for many years, and although the road would get patched occasionally, the potholes would resurface. She has complained to the Public Works Department ( JKR), but no concrete action has been taken. “Another issue is the traffic lights, which have been malfunctioning since March 8,” she said. The traffic lights lie at the junction of Jalan Serdang Raya and the Bukit Jalil highway, which she said is one of the busiest junctions in Serdang. “Because there is an interchange project

Teo (in red) and Chong (second from right) inspecting the potholes on Jalan Serdang Raya.

When contacted, a spokesperson from JKR Selangor’s engineering department said the frequent damage on Jalan Serdang Raya was the fault of utility companies. “They dig holes in our road but don’t

cover them back. We should not be blamed,” he said. He said JKR would repair the traffic lights, and that a team was checking the cause of the malfunctioning traffic lights.

Free embroidery class for women

Flash flooding unresolved
By Alvin Yap

(From right) Lo, Pee, Helen Lee and Bong at the free beginner-level embroidery class organised by Lee’s office.

KLANG: While residents are grateful that the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) is finally addressing problems that cause flash floods in Taman Chi Liung, they point out that more needs to be done. Speaking on their behalf, Klang MP Charles Santiago said the drains that were widened in recent upgrading works were “short term”. He said the DID needs to construct a “loop drain” to end flash floods in the area. “When it rains heavily, the area is flooded by the volume of water as it doesn’t flow smoothly because right now it’s a 90-degree bend,” Charles said on Sunday.

He sa id the affe cte d drains flow through Taman Chi Liung, Palm Grove and Harbour Place. There are some 1,000 homes that would be affected by flooding from the drains. Charles said the department should consult with residents there as they knew the situation “intimately.” He said there were a few retired DID engineers in the area whose homes had been inundated in recent floods. “It was these retired DID engineers who proposed to me to bring up to the Taman Chi Liung Task Force committee the idea of building a loop drain to ensure smoother drainage flow,” Charles said. He said DID had also

cleared the drain of fallen branches and other debris, but reiterated that these were short-term measures. He said with the current heavy downfall, the drains would be clogged in the future. “DID needs to realise a design that makes sure the drains flow smoothly and are not clogged by large debris,” he said. He added that a monsoon drain should be built around Harbour Place for water from the other drains to flow into. Charles also blamed the flooding on some “large-scale development” in the area. He said the residents’ suggestions will be forwarded to DID officials at a later meeting.

PETALING JAYA: A free embroidery class was held for women at the Bukit Gasing assemblyperson’s service centre last Saturday. Eighteen women attended the full-day beginner class sponsored by Edward Lee’s office. Lee said this was the first embroidery class his office has organised. In future classes they hope to attract more women from the lower-income group to join, so they may learn an extra skill to earn more income from home. Single mother Foo Woei Ing, 33, found out about the embroidery class from her friend. The mother of three earns a living by making her own cards. Foo thinks she will be able to incorporate her new embroidery skill in her cardmaking. Seventy-one-year-old Josephine Bong

from Section 17 loves sewing. She told Selangor Times that she looks forward to employing her newly learnt skill to sew items for her children and grandchildren. Young women like 18-year-old Amy Lo and 20-year-old Pee Kui Ying were also at the workshop. They found out about the training class through word of mouth, and joined out of curiosity. The 18 participants were trained by Rosli Baharuddin and his wife from Noriz De Fashion. The couple have been in the embroidery business for 15 years. Rosli said they also organised similar classes in Taman Medan assemblyperson Haniza Mohamed Talha’s and Petaling Jaya Selatan MP Hee Loy Sian’s constituencies. They said of the 70 women they have trained, 25 have either set up their own businesses or are taking embroidery orders from boutiques.

Deutsch to head Carrefour Malaysia, Singapore
SUBANG JAYA: Carrefour Malaysia and Singapore announced on Tuesday that new chief Stephane Deutsch will take over from Guillaume de Colonges with immediate effect. De Colonges will be moving to Carrefour Turkey as its new chief executive officer. Having served as vice-president of Carrefour China and general manager of the Southern Territory, Deutsch spearheaded the operations in four Chinese provinces, including steering 29 stores. With 21 years of experience in retail, of which 11 were spent in Asia, Deutsch has been instrumental in the strategic growth of Carrefour in China and holds the reputation of more than 20 new store openings per year. “I am extremely proud that Carrefour was the first hypermarket in Malaysia, and I believe that our expansion plans will give confidence to our customers that we will always be here for them. “Already, our commitment in NKEA with the government, through the Tukar project to modernise the smaller formats, is testimony that we are very serious in continuing to participate in the growth of the country,” said Deutsch in his maiden speech to his new team at Carrefour Malaysia and Singapore. The 45-year-old is a French national with a background in finance.

Review 17
March 25 — 27, 2011

By Basil Foo

anting something to warm us up on a rainy night, we decided to try a new steamboat place that had just opened in Bandar Puteri Puchong. Situated on Jalan Puteri 2/5, Olivenz Steamboat seemed to be holding its own despite being smack in the middle of restaurant-saturated shoplots. As it was a weekday night, it was surprising to find almost all 50 tables in the restaurant occupied by people of all ages. Yet the waiters gave us prompt attention and seated us within seconds of entering. The décor was far from your usual steamboat outlet: a deep red motif and low-hanging lights lent an oriental air to the restaurant. Costing RM23.80 per adult and RM13.80 per child, the restaurant featured a buffet-style layout with its centrepiece being a long display of raw foods. We were given a list of several soup combinations to choose from, like chicken, herbal chicken, fish head, drunken prawn, tom yam, spicy Sze Chuan, and porridge which we could boil food in. The boilers could be digitally controlled to a specific temperature, on top of which sat a large pot divided into two sections for the separation of soups. We chose the chicken and tom yam soups, and found the latter to be the right combination of spicy and sour, which was satisfyingly stomach-warming. There was a wide variety of seafood like clams, crabs, cockles, prawns, and squid, meats like chicken, beef, pork, and fish, and frozen goods like fish balls and He also talked about a special crab cakes. offer of barbequed dishes from The ingredients were fresh and Fridays to Sundays, with Australian succulent, especially the freshwater lamb and beef on the grill at no crab, which was popular among the additional cost. customers and ran out quickly. “We are planning to offer barThere were also readymade bequed dishes every day from foods like fried rice and chicken April, because we have received a wings, the latter of which also lot of requests from customers,” needed frequent replenishment. Cheong said. Then there was the standard The bill for a table of three came steamboat fare, like an assortment up to RM78.55 including the of vegetables, dried noodles and standard service charge. This was an eggs. acceptable amount as other steamCo-owner Jack Cheong said the boat outlets usually charge around outlet offers over 100 different the same price or slightly higher. items on top of drink choices like Overall, I would recommend jasmine tea and fruit punch, jellies this steamboat outlet for its prompt like Guiling Gao, fruits, and sev- replenishment of food, quick and eral ice-cream flavours for dessert. friendly service, wide variety of Originally from Ipoh, Cheong ingredients, and generally pleasant got together with several friends to atmosphere. open a café back in their hometown. They have now decided to It was try their hand at another type of impossible to food outlet. try the wide “We were deciding between variety of food Japanese, Thai, and Western, but in one visit. finally decided on steamboat because there is an increasing demand for it,” he said.


Steamboat delight

The environment was uncluttered and pleasant enough to relax in after a filling dinner.

Chicken wings: a crowd favourite.

18 March 25 — 27, 2011


Indian restaurants are common throughout Peninsular Malaysia. LIN ZHENYUAN introduces two such establishments he has been on friendly terms with for some time.
here was a time when dinner meant either going to Jalan Gasing, Petaling Jaya, for Ipoh chicken rice, or to Section 5 for banana leaf rice. Those were the two main venues in my then uncomplicated life. Eating Ipoh chicken rice is no fun when there are only two people at the table, because the menu clearly states that we can have as many as five different side dishes. So on a number of occasions, we zeroed in on the Sri Paandi restaurant in Section 5, Petaling Jaya. The name “Sri Paandi” refers to an Indian deity and may be linked to Paandi Munisvaran, a South Indian god. There is a temple dedicated to this deity on the fringes of the city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu. The proper name of the Section 5 outlet is Restoran Sri Paandi Corner. It has existed for as long as anyone can remember. The customers are mostly Indian regulars, but Chinese patrons do show up now and then. Sri Paandi stands on its own as the only Indian restaurant in the area of some repute. It has few competitors, which are Chinese restaurants. The tussle among the restaurants every evening after 6pm is the limited parking space. My Indian friends used to enjoy introducing me to various exotic dishes. The Sri Paandi restaurant in Section 5, PJ. Once, they recommended short, dried chillies that seemed to have been grilled. One bite later, my eyes were watering and my mouth burned due to the spiciness. I learnt quickly that it was an acquired taste. At the Section 5 outlet, there are about nine tosai and roti items, seven different varieties of rice, five varieties of noodles, and five versions of fried rice. There are also different kinds of naan, claypot fish head curry, kambing kampung and ayam kampung. Sri Paandi is serious about its policy than one occasion given me a silent of aiming to please. Both Sri Paandi restaurants have Then there’s the other Sri Paandi glare. Well, it wouldn’t do to ask for snack items that are sold after lunchthat I now frequent regularly. This chopsticks! time. These include samosir, hard The selection of dishes at Sri and soft vadai, curry puffs, sweet outlet is in Section 11, near Universiti Hospital. It enjoys large crowds Paandi is not only wide, the dishes potato balls, and some other sweetduring lunchtime and dinner hours. are above par. If you like South In- meats. The banana leaf rice comes with dian Chettinad food, this place is In 2005, there was some controthe usual curries and a selection of gastronomical heaven. versy over the issue of two restauThe curries are fresh, warm, and rants sharing the same name. Apparvegetarian dishes. Anything else like grilled fish, curry prawns, beef or roast seemingly in inexhaustible supply. ently there was business rivalry over chicken will be considered extras. So So if you like to flood your rice with the usage of “Sri Paandi”, which was you should bring along a party of four three kinds of curry, you are wel- claimed to be a franchise name. or five people, so that there will be come to do so. But this seems to be water under You can neutralise the spiciness the bridge now, and the flavour of more selections on the table. Some customers are inclined to by ordering yoghurt or lassi. My Chettinad food has since reached ask for cutlery when eating banana family also likes Milo with fresh the nostrils and tastebuds of many leaf rice. When I have done it, my cow’s milk, which they say has a bit curry lovers residing in Petaling Indian colleagues have on more of a kick. Jaya.


A tale of two Sri Paandis
Vadai is great when eaten fresh.

Both Sri Paandi restaurants have snack items that are sold after lunchtime. These include samosir, hard and soft vadai, curry puffs, sweet potato balls, and some other sweetmeats.”

Curry puffs, samosir and vadai – just what you need for a Malaysian high tea. A banana leaf meal that will take all your blues away.

Fiction by Ahmad Hafidz Baharom Alam Shah

Fiction 19
March 25 — 27, 2011


e drive around aimlessly for hours. It’s nig ht. Weather forecasts predicted a high chance of rain, yet the clouds just cover the moon without shedding a single drop. He calls it luck. I remind him that they never said when the rain would fall, if at all. It was called a “chance of rain”. A probability and nothing more. He just smiles. I’ve always been cynical about luck. I won’t say I don’t believe in it, but I believe we all create our own luck. You weren’t lucky you met the man of your life in a supermarket. You were driven by routine. A creature of habit. Just so happens that he was there at the salad section the same time you were. Chances are you were always at the same place at the same time, and just this one time, your eyes met. A smile kindly and shyly rescinded. And the rest, they say, is history. At least, that is my version of how we met. His version was that something drove him to seek out salads first and saw me wandering around the dressing section looking for Thousand Island sauce. That led to a talk about a wish for the ability to cook, a few quiet lines of how to serve fish and chips, which finally led to a personal lesson on

how to know if someone was asking you out. I am pretty clueless about these things. He takes me away from my thoughts describing how he loves roundabouts. It’s my one annoyance that I have with him. Coming up with statements that would guarantee a follow-up question of why, with a long, definitive explanation waiting. He loves roundabouts because of how they compare with real life. The ability to go three separate directions or back the way we came. The way we get to choose what we wish to do, take a chance on a road less travelled, a longer journey, or a direct one, depending on our own curiosity and navigational skills. A navigation system based on trust, experience, interest and curiosity. Decisions solemnly placed in our hands. But most of all, he loves the ability to retrace our steps, to turn back when we have done a mistake and go down another path, in hope of finding the right one. And if you don’t, just turn around from whence you came and try again. It is time consuming. It is costly, especially with petrol prices rising every month. But in the end, it is a wonderful and memorable journey that will be talked about for months or even years to come. I ask how many times one can go through a roundabout without being reminded about Einstein stating

that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. In my experience, roundabouts are a hazard. A piece of distraction placed in between two places that allow a divergence from the main goal. A constant circle that tells me there are other distractions that can lead to wasteful results. A reminder that people who do not know where they are going will just continually end up driving in a circle, endangering others. But most of all, a roundabout is nothing more than a reminder that if we do not know what we seek, we will always, always end up where we began. Like Einstein said. Insanity. He pulls over at a roundabout with a park in the centre. He asks me to join him, pulling my hand. The lights in the centre are dim, allowing us to note that the clouds are still above us. We’re surrounded by the roars of singular cars making their way without stopping. We stand in the centre of the park. Just quietly enjoying each other’s company. For a moment there is some measure of tranquil peace in our lives, littered with the sounds of crickets. He quietly asks if this was ever an expected result of Einstein’s, before giving me a quiet peck on the cheek. It finally starts to rain.

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A Last-ing impression
review by Nick Choo

AmErICAn composer Jason robert Brown’s The Last Five Years (TL5Y) has been a musical theatre favourite of mine since I first heard the cast recording in 2003. So I was thrilled, and apprehensive, when the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) announced it would be staging the show in its Pentas 2. Apprehensive because TL5Y, chronicling the relationship of a young couple over five years, only features two performers, and has a score that is as contemporary as it is complex and demanding. The relationship between Jamie, a successful author, and Cathy, a struggling stage actress, is told from two distinct points of view: his from the start of their romance ending with their break-up; hers from the end, culminating in their first date. This means many of the songs comprise solo performances by either character, and the couple only really interact in the middle when their storylines intersect during the poignant proposal scene. Dire ctor Chris L ing and performers Jon Chew and Tabitha Kong pulled off TL5Y with aplomb. While Kong proved to be the stronger singer, Chew held his own even if his spoken lines were occasionally unclear. He shone in songs like Shiksa Goddess – a Latin-infused number

expounding Jamie’s thrill of rebellion in dating a non-Jewish girl – and Moving Too Fast, his paean of selfpraise as he contemplates his triumph in career and love. And in portraying Cathy’s struggles in maintaining a stage career Kong convincingly conveyed her character’s emotions: her sadness in the opening song Still Hurting; her anger as she lashes out at her husband in See I’m Smiling. Ultimately it is his success and her failure that leads to the dissolution of their relationship. And when he says goodbye just as she says hello, the show is as moving as I had always hoped it would be.

Ling’s staging had the characters predominantly occupying their own respective sides of the stage as the show began, with images and multimedia projected on either side of the stage as backdrops and snapshots of their relationship. The characters moved as the story unfolded, so that they ended up on opposite sides of the space by the time the musical concluded – a physical representation of the conceit of storytelling that Brown cleverly employs in his musical. The intricate score was performed with finesse by pianist and musical director Stephen Tok. But I was mildly disappointed that Tok had decided to remove the bass and the guitar from the ensemble, which lessened the “pop” sound of the show. The reduced ensemble featured piano, violin and two cellos. regrettably, the frequent offpitch of the strings threatened to mar the show, but the strength of the vocalists managed to lessen the impact of off-tune instruments. All in all, TL5Y was a plus for malaysia’s musical theatre scene: an intimate Broadway show performed with skill and care by two young performers; which managed to move and entertain, and which, presumably, would have struck a chord with theatre-goers due to its universal themes of life, love and heartbreak. The Last Five Years ran at Pentas 2, KLPac, from 10-20 March 2010.

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MARCH 25 — 27, 2011

Lim, Nur Nabila bag Closed titles
And there was little surprise as Lim Zhou Ren and Nur Nabila Azman Hisham emerged as the 2011 National Chess Champions. In the men’s event, Lim bested a field of peers who have all become national champions in recent years – defending champion Tan Khai Boon, and top-seeded veteran International Master Jimmy Liew, who last won it in 1984. S Subramaniam ended the tournament half a point behind in second place, while Liew tied with Fong Yit Ho for third/ fourth place. In the women’s category, Nur Nabila put aside her recent disappointment of losing in the playoff to Tan Li Ting in the under-14 category of the recent National Age Group Championships to emerge as the winner. Her sister, women’s Fide master Nur Najiha, finished second with seven points, while Fong Mi Yen claimed third place.
Boys’ Age Group Under-8: 1. Tan Jun Ying 7 pts; 2. Lye Lik Zang 6.5 pts; 3. Muhd Faqih Aminuddin, Ng Shi Yang, Teh De Yong 5.5 pts. Under-10: 1. Teh De Juan 7.5 pts; 2. Wong Yinn Long 6.5 pts; 3. benjamin Lee, Kong Dak Nam, Max Wong 6 pts. Under-12: 1. Ooi Zhi Yang 7 pts; 2. Mohd Noor Azam Mohd Noor, Tan Yong Zhao 6 pts. Under-14: 1. Roshan Ajeet Singh, Aron The 6.5 pts; 3. Tan Wei Hao, Muhd Irfan Haqqim Azhar, S Subramaniam 6 pts. Under-16: 1. Wong Jianwen 8 pts; 2. Yeap Eng Chiam 6.5 pts; Elgin Lee, Jeff Tan 6 pts. Under-18: 1. Muhd

Get smart! Play chess!
By Peter Long

By Peter Long


ike a flood of hungry locusts, almost 400 aspiring chess champions from all parts of Malaysia descended on last-minute host University Teknologi Petronas in Tronoh, Perak, for three short but intense days of competition. UTP hosted for the first time the National Age Group Championships, which had categories for open and for girls from ages eight to 18. Besides a cash award provided by the president of the World Chess Federation, the Malaysian Chess Federation also announced that only the top four finishers would have the right to represent Malaysia in the World Youth Championships to be held in Brazil later this year. Each national champion from the respective age groups will receive free entry and board and lodging. As always, the favourites were all known to one another, being regulars in the various local tournaments held in the Klang Valley.

Results – National Closed Championship (Men): 1. Lim Zhuo Ren 8 pts; 2. S Subramaniam 7.5 pts; 3. Jimmy Liew, Fong Yit Ho 7 pts; 5. Yeap Eng Chiam, Loo Swee Leong, Fong Yit San, Elgin Lee 6.5 pts; 9. Edward Lee, Yeoh Li Tian 6 pts. National Closed Championship (Women): 1. Nur Nabila Azman Hisham 7.5 pts; 2. Nur Najiha Azman Hisham 7 pts; 3. Fong Mi Yen 6.5 pts; 4. Tan Li Ting 6 pts; 5. Azhar Puteri Rifqah Fahada, Camilia Johari, S. Sarika, Azhar Puteri Munajjah Az-Zahra, Tang Kar Khei, Haslindah Ruslan 5.5 pts.

Nabil Azman Hisham 7 pts; 2. Mark Siew, Low Jun Jian 5.5 pts. Girls’ Age Group Under-10: 1. Teh De Zen 8 pts; 2. Puteri Munajjah Az-Zahraa 6.5 pts; 3. Teh Ming Min 6 pts. Under-12: 1. Nur Najiha Azman Hisham 7 pts; 2. Puteri Rifqah Fahada Azhar 6.5 pts; 3. S Nithyalakshmi 6 pts. Under-14: 1. Wendy Tan, Nur Nabila Azman Hisham 7 pts; 3. Camilia Johari, Hoh Tjin Hui 6 pts. Under-16: 1. J Pavitranayagi 6.5 pts; 2. S Sarika, Hoh Tjin Li 5 pts. Under-18: 1. Latifah Kaiyisah Mohd Latib 5.5 pts; 2. Adele Lau 4.5 pts; 3. Fatin Nur Nadirah Mat Rahim, Winnie Hong 4 pts.

This game is typical of the play of under-14 winner Roshan Ajeet Singh. Imaginative and highly tactical in a somewhat “trappy” fashion. Teoh Ern Tek-Roshan Ajeet Singh 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Be3 Nf6 6. f3 Qc7 7. Bd3 d5 8. Nd2 Nc6 9. c3 Be7 10. 0-0 0-0 11. Rc1 Bd7 12. f4 dxe4 13. Nxe4 Rad8 14. Kh1 e5 15. fxe5 Nxe4 16. Bxe4 Qxe5 17. Qf3 Bd6 18. g3

Taman Sentosa declared Zon Bersih
KLANG: Taman Sentosa was declared Zon Bersih last Saturday in a bid to clean up the area. Around 200 volunteers, including Taman Sentosa residents and employees of Panasonic and Klang Municipal Council (MPK), joined the gotong-royong. Executive councillor Dr Xavier Jayakumar and Panasonic Manufacturing Malaysia managing director Yamaguchi Masahiko launched the event in the morning. Panasonic also sponsored around RM10,000 in signage for the area to inform residents that Taman Sentosa is now listed as Zon Bersih. Zon Bersih started in 2008 and is the state’s initiative to identify the dirtiest areas in each local council and clean them within a year. Special focus is given by the local council on areas declared Zon Bersih, including stricter enforcement on litterbugs, increasing the number of garbage bins, and upgrading the drains and landscape. Dr Xavier, who is also the Seri Andalas assemblyperson, said Pekan Meru and Pandamaran in Klang had also previously been declared Zon Bersih.

18. …Rde8 19.Bf4 Qxe4 20.Bxd6 Nxd4 21.Qxe4 Rxe4 22.Bxf8 Ne2 23.Rcd1 Bc6 24.Rg1 Rd4+ 0-1.

Dr Xavier (with glasses) and Yamaguchi (on his right) painting a Zon Bersih sign in Taman Sentosa.

By Basil Foo

PETALING JAYA: For aspiring medical practitioners, there are more choices besides the traditional medical schools in United Kingdom, Australia or India. Those without a place in public universities or the funds for local private universities can look 8,000km north for an opportunity. The Kursk State Medical University (KSMU) is among five other medical universities in Russia to have been recognised by the Malaysian government. Of the five, KSMU is the only one which conducts its classes fully in English, with faculties like dentistry and pharmacy. “The university was recognised in August 2001, and since then the student rate has been going up every year,” said Maggaram Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk M Varatharaju. Maggaram is the sole representative for KSMU in the Asia Pacific region. To date, it has enrolled 1,200 students, of which 450 have graduated and work in Malaysian hospitals. A competitive cost plan for stu-

Russian option for aspiring doctors
dents is offered by the company, which Varatharaju explained in an interview with Selangor Times. The yearly cost of a medical degree in local universities can be between RM40,000 and RM60,000, whereas a medical degree in Kursk costs only RM17,000 yearly. “The course in local universities is five years, while in Russia the overall tuition fee is RM103,000 for six years,” he said. On top of the tuition fees, Maggaram arranges accommodation, transport, life insurance, visa application and other documentations for Malaysians to study there. They will also register students as undergraduate doctors with the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA). Counting the added services offered and an RM7,000 average for yearly food and personal expenses, the total cost of study for six years is RM213,000. “This is the best fee structure which is offered by any medical university, so more people can afford to go,” Varatharaju said. Legal fees will also be charged for students to sign an agreement with the university to keep the fees paid by them unchanged throughout the six years of their study there. Accommodation will be fixed at a nearby hostel for a year in order for students to acclimatise to their surroundings. “Our staff will accompany the students on their flight and will be on hand in Kursk to give them guided tours of the town,” he said. Students will have to take Rus-

Media 21
March 25 — 27, 2011

sian classes in Malaysia either through the Russian embassy or through a pre-university pro gramme. “We have signed an agreement with Winfield College in Kuala Lumpur to teach foundation in science. After that, the Maggaram managing director Datuk Varatharaju. students can start their first year in Kursk,” he said. Students will also get to use their “Then they would go to the PubRussian, especially when speaking lic Services Commission to be given with patients after their third year a job in a local hospital for two years when they serve time in Russian as a houseman,” he said. hospitals. “After the two years they would Once students graduate and re- become medical officers, and they ceived their medical degrees, they can choose to become a general can come back to Malaysia to regis- practitioner or a postgraduate docter with the Malaysian Medical tor specialising in specific fields,” Council as doctors. Varatharaju added.

Little chefs learn to cook at Sunway Pyramid
SHAH ALAM: Nori, kani and tamago were among the few new words parents and children at Sunway Pyramid learnt during the recent school break. The shopping mall, together with Robot Sushi and Cupcake Chic, designed a sushi-making class and cupcake-decorating workshop for 80 children aged between five and 12 in conjunction with the oneweek school holiday. During the sushi-making class, children learnt the names of the ingredients used such as nori (seaweed), kani (crabstick) and t a m a g o ( Japanese sweet eg g omelette). They also learnt how to roll different types of sushi such as maki sushi (sushi rolls), temaki sushi (hand-rolled sushi), nigiri sushi (hand-pressed sushi) and gunkan sushi (ship-shaped nigiri). With the help of Robot Sushi chefs, the children used the ingredients provided to roll their own sushi. They were each given the chance to roll all four types of sushi before getting the chance to roll their favourite throughout the onehour class. During Cupcake Chic’s cupcakedecorating workshop, the children were given a cupcake each and edible decorative elements such as colourful sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles, chocolate balls, heartshaped sugar icing and more. Different sizes of icing bags were also provided so each child could try decorating their cupcakes with icing before sprinkling their favourite toppings. “Sushi and cupcakes are usually favoured among children, hence we decided to have workshops involving these two food items this school holiday. “It’s not a long school break, but we thought we should still prepare activities both parents and children can enjoy,” said Phang Sau Lian, marketing director for Sunway Pyramid. As both classes were free of charge and space was limited, it was no surprise that parents were quick to enrol their children. Both classes were held only during the weekends of March 12-20. Apart from vouchers, each child also automatically became an official Leo Cub, a club newly formed for children ages 12 and below. “Children love our mascot, Leo, and we thought it’s the right time now to create a children’s club with Leo as the main attraction. “We will organise more children’s events and workshops in the near future and Leo Cubs will be given priority. Parents of Leo Cubs will also be able to enjoy discounts in several children’s outlets and restaurants in the mall,” said Phang.
Cupcake Chic provided the ingredients and tools for these children to create their own cupcakes (left), while kids learnt how to roll their own favourite sushi with Robot Sushi.

Dr Kong steps in
SHAH ALAM: Hong Kong-based footcare specialist Dr Kong Footcare has finally arrived in Malaysia. Dr Kong Footcare opened its first retail outlet at Tropicana City Mall last Thursday with a grand ceremony officiated by the founder and CEO of Dr Kong Footcare Ltd (Hong Kong) Raymond Ng and the managing director of the Malaysian chapter, Edmund Lee. To help step up the event were local celebrities like MyFM DJ and actor Jack Lim, violinist Dennis Lau, actress Liza Othman, and a special guest from Hong Kong, Purple Lee. Lee, a trained United Kingdomregistered orthotist and prosthetist, said that proper footcare is especially important for young children as illfitting shoes can result in foot problems like flatfoot and rearfoot valgus. “The original Check & Fit service ensures that products are fit to a tee for customers’ health protection,” said Ng. According to him, surveys have shown that over 60% of schoolchildren have flatfoot syndrome but their parents do not know it. Purple Lee, who specialises in children song s, performed the signature “exercise” song for Dr Kong Footcare. Dr Kong Footcare has 54 retail outlets in Hong Kong and 65 retail outlets in China. Customers are able to have their feet assessed at the Check & Fit foot examination machine by a team of health assistants before selecting and inserting suitable insoles for their shoes.

Representatives and guests at the launch of Dr Kong Footcare.

Gallery 22
March 25 — 27, 2011

A temple member ties a headband on Kelana Jaya MP Loh Gwo Burne during a ceremony at the Devi Sri Samundieswary temple on Friday (March 18). Looking on are Subang Jaya assemblyperson Hannah Yeoh and MPSJ councillor Edward Ling. Two participants apply lipstick on each other during a press conference on Tuesday announcing the celebration of Women’s Day for disabled women. The event will be organised by the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) on March 27. Hindu devotees at the Devi Sri Samundieswary temple lifting a flag during the ceremony on Friday to honour their patron deity. Petaling Jaya mayor Datuk Roslan Sakiman (front, third from left), Kota Damansara MP Dr Nasir Hashim (far right), Pakatan Rakyat representatives, and Friends of Kota Damansara chairperson Dr Jeffery Phang (far left) at a tree-planting ceremony to commemorate the launch of a herb garden in Kota Damansara last Saturday.

Children enjoying themselves at the Snow Walk at i-City, Shah Alam, last Saturday (March 19). The Snow Walk features a 50,000sq ft area filled with snow and ice.

Culture 23
March 25 — 27, 2011

Plonk & Replonk: Postcards From Another World
exhibition; embassy of Switzerland; the annexe Gallery, Central Market; March 22-27, 2011; free admission; 03-2070 1137; www.annexegallery. com plonk & replonk is a series of postcards that takes old photographs and turns them into irreverent, humorous tableaus: a family during the “terrible moustache epidemic of 1980”; a mansionside lake invaded by a giant squid; the blurred faces of a hyperactive pre-school class. a good chuckle, courtesy of the Switzerland-mari Froivedaux Brothers. In conjunction with French Language Week 2011.

Compiled by Zedeck Siew

ThEaTrE / MUSIc / DaNcE
LAT Kampung Boy: Sebuah Musikal
Musical; tall Order productions; Istana Budaya; March 16-april 3, 2011; rM40;
a star-studded musical-theatre take of cartoonist Lat’s beloved Kampung Boy and town Boy – graphic novels about growing up in rural perak and Ipoh in the national adolescence of the 1960s. this stage adaptation doesn’t really capture the tone of the books – simultaneously funny, optimistic and quietly filled with pathos – but still manages to be an entertaining romp. Featuring awie (as Lat), atilia, Datuk rahim razali, Douglas Lim, and Sandra Sodhy. Music by Michael Veerapen and choreography by pat Ibrahim.

Editor’s Pick
exhibition; House of Matahati, ampang; March 19-april 9, 2011; free admission; 03-9285 6004; houseofmatahati.

I Am Not My Pimples
theatre performance; KL performing arts Centre; March 24-26, 2011; rM33; 03-4047 9000; www.klpac. com
Mark Beau de Silva’s work has always been about the melodrama of family and growing up. His current method of delivery (Hokkienlanguage comedy) is relatively fresher – and more successful: last year’s Big Head & potato Head won big at the 9th aDa Drama awards early this year. the playwright’s new work, I am Not My pimples, is about a 35-year-old woman still struggling with acne; her skin problem prompts her to embark on flashbacks into her family history. a “comedy about growing up with spots, and digging deeper to heal them from within”. part of KLpac’s resident Directors Season. In Hokkien with english subtitles.

a veteran social activist and budding abstract painter, Norhayati Kaprawi has also been making kick-ass documentaries for the past year or so. Her first movie, Mencari Kartika, looked at the public, official, and intellectual reactions of Malaysians at the caning of Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno for drinking alcohol. It included a rare, candid interview with Kartika herself – whose articulate defiance starkly contrasted with the more demure portrayals of her in the media. Norhayati’s second film, aku Siapa, is about the relationship Malaysian Muslim women have with their hijabs. It premiered last February to a full theatre and critical praise. as we’ll be getting another chance to catch it on March 28 courtesy of Kelab Seni Filem Malaysia, I asked Norhayati about aku Siapa, using the documentary as a medium, and fighting misinformation about religious issues. What is Aku Siapa about? Why make a film about the hijab? I was inspired to make this documentary after I noticed the current trend of women taking off their tudung, or loosening up in the way they wear their tudung. I wanted to explore the reasons why women wear the hijab. Has it always been popular in Malaysia? If not, when did it start to become popular? Who or what popularised it? If the tudung is a “new” trend, how did Muslim women dress in the past, and what was our ulema’s views at that time?

SuperStar painter Bayu utomo radjikin is best known for figurative work: portraits that channel the Malay warrior archetype. this latest show takes a slightly different track. CINtaKaSIH is a series of 10 charcoal drawings and four paintings that take the classical Odissi dancer as its subject, “the artist’s first serious attempt at representing the fairer sex”. also featuring the work of figurative painters Marvin Chan and Kow Leong Kiang, with curatorial essay by anurendra Jegadeva.

Muzik Ku: Muzik Mu
Music festival; Kakiseni; the Celebrities Club, Solaris Mont Kiara; weekends, March 11-april 2, 2011; free admission; www.
One of the main events of Kakiseni’s Women:100 festival (ongoing throughout March) is Muzik Ku: Muzik Mu, a music platform with an all-women line-up. this weekend, listen to music of Chinese musical and drama stars Z Yan and Yeh Foong (March 25), and folk/indie/blues singer-guitarist Zalila Lee (March 26). Free admission through online booking only.

Norhayati during the screening of Mencari Kartika. independent documentary filmmakers need to play a role: to help bring the marginalised to the centre, and to highlight unheard voices – which includes the voices of “silenced” texts. Why make documentaries? audio-visual forms like film are undeniably a popular medium. Writing books or pamphlets is also good, and holding workshops and forums is also important. Whatever the medium is, what’s important to me is how memorable the message is, and how it can invite people to start to critically reflect about our own issues. Both your films have tried to convey the wide variety of public opinion about their subjects. Do you have any overarching goals in making your movies? My documentary films deal with issues faced by Malaysians – and Malaysian Muslims, in particular. It is my small attempt at adding colour to our film industry, and the religious discourse in Malaysia. I wish to promote the democratisation of knowledge. In the course of making and screening these documentaries, I’ve found that there is a lot of misinformation about religious issues. Mencari Kartika, for example – when it was shown, it was the first for most of the audience to understand the motivations behind Kartika issuing the statements and making the decisions that she did. Information on religious matters should be openly discussed, and not be the monopoly of certain figures only. the religious and political leaders have their views, but these should remain as opinions that are open for debate. the experiences of laypersons like us are as important, and need to be heard. In fact, there have been many occasions where religious authorities (or religious political parties) have changed their stand on certain issues after receiving feedback from civil society groups or from the public. I want to invite people to start questioning and keep reflecting – to ensure that the interpretations and actions that are made in the name of religion provide justice to us, the people.
Aku Siapa, March 28, 2011 (8.15pm) at the HELP University College Theatrette. Presented by Lensa Srikandi and KSFM. Limited spaces; contact

She Moves at a Deliberate Pace
Dance performance; Lapar Lab; panggung Bandaraya; March 24-26, 2011; free admission;
the Lapar Lab dance company is a busy little outfit, putting on one show a year since its founding in 2006. their works are earnest examples of contemporary dance: not always conceptually rigorous, but always excellently performed and engaging to watch. this new work features choreographers amy Len and Jonathan poole (uK) exploring the “superiority of being a woman … and to celebrate womanhood as it is the true worth of humanity”. With artistic direction by Leng poh Gee. part of Kakiseni’s Women:100 festival. Free admission through online booking only.

You interviewed both the public and scholars for your film. What does the Quran (and Islamic law) say about covering aurat, especially when it comes to women? Is there diversity in terms of scholarly opinion? apart from women’s lived realities today, and the historical aspect, aku Siapa also puts forward the diverse religious views on the issue. Many of the people who watch this documentary were surprised that some of the religious opinions it contained were not so known to them – and this wasn’t because these views are very new or not valid, but just because they haven’t been made popular. this is where The audience during the February screening.

Cracking in Progress
Dance performance; rimbun Dahan; the actors Studio @ Lot 10; March 27, 2011; admission with rM10 donation; 03-2142 2009; my Crack, a performance about the “developing individuality of a new generation of Cambodians after their civil war”, is a collaboration between Brussels-based choreographer arco renz and the Cambodia-based amrita performing arts company. Both are in residence at rimbun Dahan, developing this work for the Singapore arts Festival 2011. Crack’s KL showing is a work-in-progress demo, in which renz will present and explain the movements created so far. With support from Goethe-Institut Southeast asia and the Flemish authorities – International projects.

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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