Friday, 31 October 2008

The Altantuya Murder

Today's most read news is the acquittal of Razak Baginda by the High Court which declared there was no prima facie case to call for his defence in the Altantuya murder trial.

Whether the acquittal is fair or not, it will further fuel rumours and speculations about the involvement of the Deputy Prime Minister. The latest revelation of a recording of text messages between the Minister and Razak Baginda's defence lawyer, which is posted in Malaysia Today has raised more questions than answers to the Minister's role in the whole affair.

The Malaysian Insider provided a succinct account of the the many twists and turns in the sensational murder trial that has dragged on for two years.

Read here for more.

Not reported in the papers was the clash of two Malaysian princes, from the states of Negeri Sembilan and Johor at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur where it was reported that one of them was hit on the head and face with the butt of a pistol. Read here for more.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Another Burden for the School Kids

The Prime Minister recently suggested that History be taught in primary schools. That predictably provoked outbursts from parents who think that their lovable kids already are heavily burdened by the existing subjects they have to learn. Already troubled by the existing debate over using English as a medium of instruction for Science and Maths, the parents now have to contend with this new issue.

History as it is taught currently in Malaysian schools has failed miserably in inculcating a sense of belonging and unity among the races. History as it is learnt in our school is remembering dates and events. Furthermore, in the Malaysian context, the contributions of other races in the history of development has been down played.

As it is often been said, History is for the victors; thus History in that sense is always written from the perspective of the victors. Thus, as Ahmad Fuad said, history is 'false memory'. A good example is the way the Japanese presented their sanitized version of the Second World War to erase from the collective memory of young Japanese children the atrocities committed by the Imperial Army.

Ahmad Fuad's view of History is graphically displayed in his artwork. He lamented the younger generation's lack of historical awareness, which is also compounded by 'false memory'.

The images of this presentation are taken from Rimbun Dahan

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Window to the Middle East

I was wandering around One Utama mall when I saw a promotion of presumably, Middle-east furniture. It conjured up images of belly dancing, sheiks reclining on plush cushions in their resplendent tents attended by scores of slaves, the Bedouins on camels meandering through the shifting dunes, Peter O'Toole of Lawrence of Arabia, charging into battle with his screaming Arab comrades, the ethnic violence of the Darfur tragedy and the Palestinians' violent protests against Israeli occupation; of oasis, dates and kebab, of lamb roasting over a pit-fire in the desert night.

I couldn't resist taking shots of the promotion of Middle-east furniture. It provides glimpses into Middle-east artistry and refinement. The promotion bay was imaginatively done with the central piece being what is probably fine Middle-east architecture.

There was also a Moroccan extravaganza, what it was, was anybody's guess. Also Middle-east dances, which I presume also include the sensual belly dancing.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Food Outlets for Foodies

Food is one of biggest, if not the biggest draw in a shopping mall. One Utama is no exception. Almost any kind of imaginable food, be it western, Japanese, Korean or Vietnamese, can be found. The mall is one huge maze that one could wander the whole day or easily get lost. Looking at the bewildering range of goods sold, from food to articles of clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, etc, etc, you would think that it is one huge money making concern. People are spending, though I suspect not as lavishly as before. Still more are window shoppers like me. But people have to eat, and they are spoilt for choices here.

An outlet selling roast ducks, roast and barbecued pork

The crowd queuing up at the outlet

The herbal tea outlet

The tea, served in bowls comes from two huge decorative pots

A decorative port on display

The Melaka Corner, which serves nyonya food and cakes

For those with a sweet tooth

Thai food

This stylish outlet sells soybean milk and other soy products

The wheat grass juice outlet

Inside the food court, the Arena

One of the stalls sells Korean food

Organically cultivated vegetables and fruits from Country Farm

That common food, nasi lemak is also sold

Keropok, or prawn/fish crackers

Take your pick of sausages

Plenty of Japanese food; this is only one on display; there are many more trays

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Green is the Catch Word

One Utama is living up to its corporate environmental responsibility image by promoting, albeit in a modest way, the green environment. It has a mini-tropical rain-forest where koi fish are also bred. Money from the sale of fish food is donated to the National Zoo. It has also recycling bins placed at strategic places to collect plastic bottles.

The mini tropical rain forest

The koi fish

Recycling bin at the tropical rainforest

Friday, 24 October 2008

End of NEP?

In an interview with Bloomberg Televison the Deputy Prime Minister said that he was ready to withdraw the special privileges of the Malays, but it had to be done gradually. Yes, that's good news...but when? 10 years, 20 or another 30 years? Furthermore, will it be replaced by another? A rose by any other name is still a rose. So it is hardly comforting to hear it from him. Unfortunately for him too, his image has received a battering from an allegation over unethical practice in the award of the Euro-copter deal and his alleged interference with the trial of the murdered Mongolian woman.

Pic from Malaysian Insider. Full report here.

While on another matter, in a sudden U turn, the Foreign Minister has rescinded its directive to University of Malaya not to invite the Nobel Prize Laureate, Shirin Ebadi to give a lecture. How often do Malaysians have the opportunity to listen to a renowned Iranian woman speak on "Islam and Cultural Diversity"? The Foreign Minister had explained that he had no knowledge of the directive advising the university's vice-chancellor not to invite her to avoid incurring the displeasure of Iran. Known for her campaigns against the discrimination of Muslim women and children, she is often at odds with the Iranian powerful clergy.

Now that the government has given the green light for her to come, the question remains if she will accept the invitation.

A Crab Feast

Three dishes of crabs. a frog dish plus a vegetable dish, a tofu dish, and some buns, not to mention rice and tea for RM 150 for 8 people? It's incredible but it's true. It worked to be 18.75 each. Tak Fok Restaurant in Kepong is popular for its crabs, especially its signature dish: crabs prepared in cream of mushroom and cheese. But being a cheese consumer occasionally, and that is confined to Kraft cheese, I found it to cheesy for my liking. Anyway, I am digressing a little here. The restaurant as usual is packed. The patrons spill out to the tables set up by the road side.

Tak Fok Seafood Restaurant, Kepong

Despite inflation, people still flock to eateries that provide them a temporary respite

Inside the restaurant

The little girl enrossed in her game; presumably, the owner's daughter

Pegs, that are used to track the orders for each table; you might find your order list with several pegs clipped to it

Braised peanuts as an appetizer; this tastes suspiciously like canned peanuts from China

Fried sweet potatoes leaves; this vegetable used to be a poor man's food, but now it has taken on respectability

Tofu with preserved vegetables; this is yummy especially its dressing which comes from a the preserved vegetable 'bueh chai' in Hockien and 'mui choi' in Cantonese. In Mandarin? I don't know!

Frogs fried with ginger and spring onions; the consensus is that the frog meat is frozen and taste is bland; nothing like those found jumping in the aquarium

Close-up of the meaty part of the frog

Fried buns to go with the meal

Crabs in cream of mushroom and grated cheese, their signature dish

Crabs fried with salted eggs; this is delicious

This is the black pepper crabs

The verdict is the restaurant is well worth the long journey there, particularly the crabs, with the exception of the 'cheesy' crabs and the frog meat.

Kluang Station

Anyone who has lived or visited Kluang, Johore would not fail to drop by at the Kluang train station for its famous coffee, half-boiled eggs, nasi lemak and its roti bakar or toasted bread with thick slices of butter. It is said by Kluang people that whenever his Royal Highness, the Sultan of Johor with his entourage pays a visit to Kluang, he would invariably grace the station and have his coffee and toasted bread. Now the enterprising children of this humble coffee shop owner, have made a name for themselves with two outlets in One Utama. The outlets serve not only the traditional fare they are known for, but also others to cater to the diverse taste-buds of Petaling Jaya well-heeled shoppers.

Tastefully done, the outlet still retains a old world charm

The coffee and bread are still served in cups and saucers , and plates of a long past era

Their famous home-made coffee

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The Subject of F**t

A reader stumbled upon my recent posting of a news item on a man arrested by police for passing gas assault. This is what he typed in his Google search: Chinese culture, passing gas. I was intrigued; is there a culture surrounding that natural activity that humankind and animals alike partake or even revel in? How many times a day do we, to put it politely, break wind? Or throwing civility to the wind, fart?. A website has gone to great length to answer all manner of questions on fart. And these are some of the questions we may have but are afraid to ask:

  • Where does fart gas come from?
  • what is fart gas made of?
  • What makes farts stink?
  • Why do farts make noise?
  • Why are stinky farts generally warmer and quieter than regular farts?
  • Do men fart more than women?
  • Do men's farts smell worse than women's?
  • Is it harmful to hold in farts?
  • How can one cover up a fart?
  • Is it really possible to ignite farts?
Dear readers, if you are in desperate need to know the answers, click on the website above.

Sorry, I couldn't find any literature on the Chinese's view on fart, but there are plenty of write-ups in the western world where it seems, the subject is well researched and documented. There is one website called Monsterfart. Another, a farty person who calls his website Mr. Methane, a modern day Le Petomane, Fartist Extraordinaire. Born in 1857, this Frenchman made plenty of money from his bizarre ability to control his sphincter muscles. He was able to play the Marseillaise tune through his arse. This was not his only accomplishment though. He could also expel farts with such force as to extinguish lighted candles several metres away. He later went on to perform in Moulin Rouge where he even out-grossed the leading actress and actor.

Though not as often talked or written about as 'love', it is neverthelss the subject of a poem by Sir John Suckling:

Love is the fart
Of every heart;
It pains a man when 'tis kept close
And others doth offend when 'tis let loose.

In his book, "Who Cut the Cheese? - A Cultural History of the Fart" Jim Dawson took a humorous look at the influence of flatulence on religion, science, literature, music, television, television and films. Here are two excerpts:

Excerpt 1

Excerpt 2

The Arabs also were not adverse to writing about this noxious bodily function. The Arabian Nights recounts a story of an unfortunate bridegroom on the night of his wedding:

A writer has even suggested, tongue-in-cheek that what is needed in the world is A Natural History of the Fart: