Friday, February 29, 2008

General Election 2008 - A Strong BN

The 12th Parliamentary Election is again a very lopsided game between BN and the opposition front. The present political climate is most favourable for Pak Lah to go back to rakyat to ask for a new term of mandate.

Of 222 parliamentary seats in this election, the opposition front fields a total of more than 150 candidates to mount an offensive challenge against BN with a vision to deny the ruling front's two-third majority in the House of Representatives.

To bring a denial to BN's superiority in the parliament, the opposition front would have to bag up at least 75 parliamentary seats in this election.

But, up to now, there is nothing to suggest that the opposition front has that tremendous popular charisma to swing the basic Malay voters away from UMNO.

Seriously, the front needs a strong Malay backing in order to pose a meaningful challenge to BN.

But the vast majority of Malays have chosen to pledge steadfast loyalty to UMNO, giving the party the necessary superpower to continue to play a dominant role in the nation's politics. It is highly unlikely for the communal group to move away from UMNO in such a way as to weaken the party to the detriment of the Malays.

On this basis, BN is going to come out strong again from this election.

Pak Lah absolutely has no qualms about BN retaining two thirds of the parliamentary seats. What is worrisome is some set-backs in certain UMNO seats and a probable drop in performance in comparison with the previous election. A blow of this nature might be unfavourable to Pak Lah in his efforts to consolidate his foothold in UMNO.

The picture shows Pak Lah in an election campaign.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

General Election 2008 - Malaysia's Opposition Front

The opposition front in Malaysia comprises primarily of DAP, PAS (Parti Islam Se-Malaysia) and PKR, with the former one primarily based on Chinese and the later two on fundamentalist Muslims and Malays respectively.

This is where the crux of the front lies. The fundamentalist teachings which form the basis of PAS are sensitive to Chinese. As such, DAP has to draw a clear line and play safe with the party for fear of agitating the Chinese groups. As the saying goes, once bitten, twice shy! The painful lesson in the past has turned DAP a lot wiser, knowing how to stay away from PAS's shadow!

In this respect, the front is in a most awkward position. It is quite loosely bound with contradictory interests to pursue.

What is more, PKR has weak bases in Malay areas. There is this deep shadow casting over my mind about the degree of influence that PKR has in Malays. Is the party able to garner strong support to wrest sufficient seats from UMNO so as to mount an effective challenge to BN? I am quite pessimistic!

Dato' Seri Anwar is still flamboyant, but he a politician in the bygone days. No doubt, Dato' Seri is still very charismatic, but, alas, his popularity is just much less now.

With due respect to Dato' Seri Anwar and Mr. Lim Kit Siang, I beg to point out that I am much less hopeful about the front's ability to pose a challenge to BN.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

General Election 2008 - Strong BN Versus Strong Opposition

The communal polarisation in 1960s and the subsequent outbreak of rioting led to the formation of the National Front (BN) in 1974. The Front effectively unified all groups with individual representation under a single banner to govern the nation.

This system worked quite well and it effectively marginalised the opposition front to scanty minority in the parliament. The National Front's superiority in numbers in the parliament bestows on the ruling front an overwhelming political power to govern.

The opposition front has been dwindling away to minority in the parliament largely as a result of a lack of Malays joining in with them.

It has been the ideal of the opposition to garner support to wrest parliamentary seats sufficient to deny the BN's two-third majority superiority in the parliament. With this magnitude of strength, the opposition front would have more effective supervision over the BN's governing machinery.

More than 10 years ago, Tunku Razali grouped all the opposition parties under Alternative Front to mount the greatest ever challenge to BN. But Dr. Mahathie's two-hour high-powered rally speech broadcast through television managed to swing the Malays back to BN. As a result, the Alternative Front was denied of a chance to bring about a change to the parliamentary superiority of BN.

In this election, DAP comes out with the same theme.

The picture shows Mr. Lim Kit Siang of DAP in an election rally at SS2, PJ last night. I met Lim Kit Siang once in Australia when I was a student at Monash University. On that occasion, Lim was invited to give a public forum on Malaysian politics in the university's Rotunda Hall. The lecture hall was jam-packed with close to 600 students, all mesmerized by Kit Siang's explosive speech on politics. Lim Guan Eng, then a Year 1 student of Monash, was there to give his dad moral support.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

General Election 2008 - UMNO & Malay Political Power

UMNO was inaugurated on May 11, 1946 with the official slogan "Long Live The Malays". This essentially laid down the foundation-stone of the communal political system of the subsequent Malaysia, with UMNO standing up for Malays.

UMNO provided a strong cohesive force for Malays to stay united in their struggle for political power. Under the umbrella of UMNO, they stood up to the circumstances and fought for their rights.

The burgeoning political power of Malays through UMNO gave rise to Chinese and Indians uniting under MCA and MIC to safeguard the groups' interests. This basically provided the framework for the build-up of Malaysia's race-based political system.

As pointed out by John Funston in "Malay Politics In Malaysia: A Study Of UMNO & PAS", political parties are organisational mechanisms for the pursuit of political power, be them in ruling or opposition front.

Together with other component parties in Sabah and Sarawak, they (UMNO, MCA, MIC, GERAKAN etc ) form the mainstream politics ruling the nation according to the BN concept with UMNO as the nucleus.

Fundamentally, Chinese are represented through MCA, SUPP and GERAKAN in the nation's dominant political power. This system of power-sharing under the banner of BN may not be perfect, but it has been maintaining racial harmony and stability of which all the races value so much!

The picture shows Datuk Tiong Thai King on the nomination day. Datuk Tiong is facing a tough challenge in a straight fight with David Wong in Lanang constituency. A silent contributor to Sibu, Datuk Tiong has been keeping low profile. I just learned that when Agape ran into deficit in building cost of close to 2 million ringgit, Datuk Tiong forked out personally to make good the shortage without a murmur. All children with special needs and their families owe Datuk a word of thanks.

Monday, February 25, 2008

General Election 2008 - Racial Politics In Malaysia

The clout of racial politics in Malaysia is getting more prominent. Much as we wish to shake it off and put on a gown of politics along non-racial line, it is just not practical in the present circumstances. In the foreseeable future, Malaysia has no prospects of walking out of the present politics on races.

Looking at the National Front, all the component parties are race-based. From UMNO, MCA, MIC to SUPP, the nuclei of the parties' struggle are on the bases of the respective racial groups' interests. Although certain parties are branded multi-racial, in essence they represent the groups that they are based on. For example, constitutionally SUPP is multi-racial, but it actual fact, it is primarily a Chinese-based party.

P212 Sibu cinstituency is a hotly contested seat, with Datuk Robert Lau, YB Wong Ho Leng and Robert Lim in a three-cornered fight.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

General Election 2008 - Steamy Heat On The Nomination Day

The 12th Parliamentary Election is set to take off with nerve-racking excitement with the closure of nominations this afternoon.

As speculated, DAP stays adamant on seats that are viewed as cream. Seat talks landed in complete breakdown, making three-cornered fights inevitable.

In Stampin and Sibu , DAP and PKR are going to battle fields hurling at each other furiously, giving SUPP everything to gain from the conflicts.

Right from the start, pessimism ruled over me about the so-called reconciliation. Over the years, DAP has built up deep-rooted influence in Chinese-majority areas. As such, in principle,
it perceived little or no convincing ground to let go any of the 7 seats to PKR which has very scanty presence in Chinese areas.

By staying firm on seats, DAP runs the risks of split of votes. This may prove to be disasterous in a narrow fight.

Staying united as a strong opposition front is still the best policy for DAP and PKR.

Sarikei is in the limelight in this election with stunning five-cornered fights. As predicted, it is going to take all political watchers on the heels of its happenings.

Miss Kung Chin Chin and Mr. Ngu Tieng Hai are standing as independents to give a head-on strike to Dr. Wong Hua Seh, a DAP candidate. Mr. Lau Kian Chai joined in the crowded fight for no obvious cause other than to serve the rakyat.

The mess in Sarikei constituency is a tough test on political maturity for the electorate there. They should take wits, not emotions, to the polling stations.

The pictures show Miss Kung Chin Chin and Dr. Wong Hua Seh.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

General Election 2008 - They Need Export Market!

I am all for the development of the local farming industry. Our vast land resources have got to be utilised to the best of our ability to spur on demestic growth.

But agriculture is much more than just planting and reaping. It is an industry which entails storage and marketing to make farming a profitable trade.

The local market is still unsaturated, as such there are still potentials for growth in local fruits. The government's plan is to flourish the industry in an effort to spur on growth demestically.

With the rapid investments pouring into orchards locally, a point would be reached when supply exceeds demand. The dumping two days ago might be a sign that we are close to that point.

Without a proper network of export market in place, the local farmers might inevitably land in hot soup, facing volatile pricing and more dumpings.

The local farm owners may work together to better co-ordinate their network of distribution. When the farms were piled up with immovable stocks on one hand, I had a hard time to source for local fruits on the other hand. Apparently there was a breakdown somewhere in the chain.

With due respect, I beg to point out that imported fruits are relatively cheaper than the local produce. That shows that we have more to beef up on productivity and economy of scale. Besides papaya, banana and pineapple, other local produce is not any cheaper. In long run, they may lose out in competition.

Here again, our government should step in to give incentives and backup.

When handsome perks are given away to foreign investors for coming here, it is certainly not too much for the local farming industry to ask for some humble assistance.

Friday, February 22, 2008

General Election 2008 - Frustrated Local Farmers

Meng Lei blogged about some local farmers joining hands together to dump their excesses at Sibu Central Market this morning in a move to burst out their extreme frustration.

I was shocked to read about it and I felt the farmers' distress over the heart-rending dumping.

I understand that the local farming industry has been promised with a build-up of a network in export market by the government. But so far nothing concrete is forthcoming.

Local farming industry is going through a bumpy road. Cultivating export market for their produce is where our government should step in to give them a hand.

I hope the dumping is a silent wake-up call to the authorities!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

General Election 2008 - Life Is Getting Harder!

On the sizzling run-up to the polling date on March 8, the international oil market was feverish with sharp leaps, closing for the first time ever above 100 U.S. dollars per barrel at 100.01 on Tuesday.

According to the top-notch analysts in the States, the frenzy rise of U.S.$4 in a day was built on an underlying trend. It might mark the end of selling oil short on the basis of U.S. economic slowdown.

The implication here is most worrying: It could spur on the market to impact demand for oil and other commodities. Put it in a layman's term, it means the oil price is set to leap further.

I felt shivers going down my spine when I got the news through e-mail. Life is going to be harder ahead, my intuition told me.

Pak Lah would have a difficult time also. Malaysia is already on deficit- a further run on oil means that greater strains would be built on the nation's coffers if oil subsidy is not reduced progressively.

But oil desubsidisation would add burden to the rakyat who are already being impacted with the spiralling inflation. They pant under immense pressure and, worse still, they have no way to relieve their pent-up frustration.

Election has conveniently become a platform for the rakyat to burst out in silence. We all hope the oil price burden would subside after the election. But my understanding tells me that, whoever is voted in, it is highly unrealistic to dwell on that.

Our deficit position and international oil pricing would pressurise Pak Lah into making domestic adjustments to petrol prices in the near future. That would certainly trigger another round of painful price increases.

Life-it is going to get harder!

Today is the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. I wish all of you a Happy Yuanxiaojie or Chap Goh Mei!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

General Election 2008 - Dr. Ting Chek Ming's Move

News has been brewing about Dr. Ting Chek Ming's move in the coming election. Talk in the market has it Dr. Tng might, in defiance of DAP's order, join in independently.

Dr. Ting came back back a few days ago and he made it known that he has not ruled out the possibility of his participation. Today, in United Daily News, he made no concealment that he would team up with Miss Kung Chin Chin, another DAP member, to stand in Sarikei constituency.

Internal bickering has led to the extreme move which might prove to be fatal to DAP in Sarikei. It is speculated that either Dr. Ting or Miss Kung would take on Sarikei seat. If it goes as intended, the votes there would very likely be badly split to the absolute benefit of SUPP.

Dr. Ting Chek Ming today came out in United Daily News with astounding "Fish Head Theory" which is most thought-provoking. That took him ome step closer to unveiling the truth.

With Dr. Ting and Miss Kung setting their feet in, this election seems to be a lot more exciting than I had earlier expected.

If nothing crops up to steer the course otherwise, Sarikei is a constituency to watch out!

A book written by Dr. Ting Chek Ming to reflect on the state elections in 2001.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

General Election 2008 - DAP Versus PKR

If there is no last-minute breakthrough in the highest level of reconciliation, then DAP and PKR in Sarawak would for sure go to election slashing each other in certain Chinese-majority constituencies.

Both DAP and PKR are in opposition front, supposedly to stay united to confront BN in the coming election.

DAP has its power base mostly in Chinese-majority urban areas, whereas PKR's foothold is mainly in Malay-dominant constituencies. In West Malaysia, the division of seats is clear-cut and there is no fuss over it. But the situation is not so in Sarawak.

PKR has only scant presence in Sarawak and it is based in Chinese areas. The party vowed to field candidates in their so-called stronghold in the coming election. But the move would conflict with the interests of DAP since these Chinese-majority areas are the party's cream. As such, DAP would not let go any of the seven seats.

All negotiations failed flat and it is now almost certain that both would go to battle fields to kill each other off.

Conflict of interests has led DAP and PKR to the present deadlock. Although PKR may not garner enough support to outmatch DAP and SUPP to emerge a winner, the party would certainly split votes to the advantage of SUPP.

DAP versus PKR is one of the highlights you can't afford to miss. Stay tuned to the development for any possible explosive changes!

The picture shows Sarawak State PKR Liason Chief Dominique Ng.

Monday, February 18, 2008

General Election 2008 - A Forum On Election

We gathered in Meng Lei's office this afternoon for our weekly tea session. Besides the aromatic tea which made an excellent beverage, we were treated to Mr. Ling's refreshing tang sui with assorted ingredients and nuts.
As election is now a sizzling hot topic, we inevitably switched to it and soon landed ourselves in a heated but cordial forum on election.
From SUPP, DAP to PKR, we touched on the major aspects of the election issues, with key focus on Sarikei constituency, Ding Kwong Hiing, YB Wong Ho Leng, Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing and Universiti TAR.
We were tipped off with some insider's information which altogether made the chat over tea a lot more fun-filled.
PKR became one of the highlights. DAP and PKR are now fated to slash each other in the election, making a split of votes a very lamentable outcome. It is going to be a red ocean game for the two, giving SUPP every reason to laugh all the way to the polling station.
But, curiously, is there any underhand tactic involved?
The tea session ended with a toast to our candidates.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

General Election 2008 - Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing & Universiti TAR

Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing flew in with heartening news to Bintangor yesterday. He pledged to do his best endeavour towards having Universiti TAR in Bintangor on condition that the BN candidate Ding Kwong Hiing is voted in.

It may sound aloof (conditional upon Ding's victory) and obscure (in the absence of a time frame), but it is undeniably a twilight after so many years of dreaming.

I still recall vividly way back in 90s when Tan Sri Ting strove towards establishing a branch of TAR College in Bintangor. But SUPP Sibu disfavoured the idea on the ground that UCS was in the process of being established with the objective to upgrade it to a university status at a later stage.

As a result of the objection raised, Tan Sri Ting had to drop his plan. Aborting TAR College remains a regret to the region.

After more than 12 years, Tan Sri Ting made a rousing come-back, this time with an even bigger treat!

You may be sceptical, thinking it is just an election gimmick, but Tan Sri Ting's pledge is no nonsense!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

General Election 2008 - Ding Kwong Hiing Emerged A Dark Horse - Part 2

When Pak Lah announced the dissolution of parliament on Feb. 13, I was in front of my computer blogging on PM's visit. I bitterly missed the news.

With the D-Day (dissolution day) befallen,the veil over the candidate for Sarikei constituency would have to be lifted.

As hotly speculated, Dato' Ting and Andrew Wong were delisted. Seriously, it did not come as a sutprise to me at all.

On the race to the candidature, Ding Kwong Hiing emerged a dark horse.

At the initial stage when he was speculated, Ding shied away. His unreceptive manner was definitely understandable - you see, the mess in which Sarikei constituency is in has made the fight a very tough battle.

But Ding is obviously obliging, especially when the blessings are from the top.

The naming of Kwong Hiing as the man for the race shows SUPP's dilemma. As far as candidature is concerned, SUPP has no final say. The ones to call shot are the big bosses. Helplessness is the word for Tan Sri Dr. George Chan.

Besides DAP, some independent candidates are tipped to join in the race to make it extremely feverish.

Ding has a rough path to go through, facing ambushes on the way!

It is lamentable that SUPP in Bintangor has to be in such a sorrowful state, slashing each other to benefit only the rival!

Kwong Hiing is an alumnus of Chung Cheng Secondary School. He was my senior when we were there way back in 70s.

Soft-spoken and virile, Ding was active during his school days at Chung Cheng. He was very popular in school, partly due to his gentlemanly disposition and handsome appearance.

I wish him all the best!

The picture of Ding Kwong Hiing is by courtesy of

Friday, February 15, 2008

General Election 2008 - An Entangled Sarikei Constituency - Part 1

Sarikei remains a constituency with high tensions in the coming election. The tightness of the situation has been persisting ever since the last state election in May 2006.

A great deal of friction within SUPP in Bintangor has led to a serious in-fighting, all arising from an unreconcilable conflict of interest.

In reality, SUPP in Bintangor is fragmented into a few power bases. This is most disasterous when it comes to election when a united party with one heart is most crucial in fending off the rivalry.

A divided Bintangor gave rise to an undue tangle, making it extremely difficult for a consensus to be reached on a candidate for the parliamentary election.

Dato' Ting had long been viewed with pessimism due to the derailment in interest with big boss. He was speculated to be dropped out.

Andrew Wong was considered green right from the start. As such, he was less promising.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day - To Yian With Love

Valentine's Day is a traditional day falling on February 14 on which lovers express their love for each other by sending Valentine's card, presenting flowers or offering confectionery.

It is a holiday in North America on this day to celebrate the occasion to show its significance.

Valentine's Day is named after two among the numerous Early Christian martyrs named Valentine. The day became associated with romantic love in middle ages when the tradition of courtly love flourished.

Nowadays, the practice of exchanging cards has been extended to include roses, chocolates and jewellery. But sometimes fancy may set in for merchants to come out with romantic gifts to whet the lovers' wild imagination.

In Sibu, Valentine's dinner has been a fashionable trend ever since 1993. This is the occasion when couples come hand -in-hand and dressed in the latest fashion to dine out in an ambience of romance. Practically all the eateries are doing brisk business tonight. Yes, it is pricey by local standard, but it is definitely value for money.

My Valentine's message : To Yian with love!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

General Election 2008 - Now Whistling Loud And Clear

Pak Lah's visit to Bintulu and Sibu was like a whirl sweeping through, leaving behind with both conceptually irresistible treat and buzzing speculations on 2008 general elections.

SCORE (Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy) is certainly very alluring, giving Sarawakians a hopeful outlook for the economy of the state. It is a long-term planning, with the objective to spur on the growth in future. At the moment, it is only a concept on the drawing-board. Its take-0ff and implementation require concrete follow-through.

Some are sceptical about all the corridors, saying Malaysia is infamous for projects to come and go with leader. To certain extent, there is substance in the claim.

But I tend to be futuristic, hoping the future would be better in the hands of Pak Lah. Certainly, I can't be too optimistic also, considering the realistic circumstances we are all in.

Pak Lah is obviously not perfect. But he has set a fine example in working hard to improve the nation. It is true that Malaysia is still abound with shortcomings, but Pak Lah has been taking positive steps to take them up as they come along. Look at MAS, it is now flying high with colours in a matter of less than three years.

Election whistling is clearly getting louder and louder. Time for us to exercise our rights as a citizen individually is drawing near.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

General Election 2008 - Pak Lah In Sibu - A Dinner With Rakyat

BN Sibu hosted a dinner in conjunction with the visit by our PM at Sacred Heart Mill Hill De La Salle Centenary Hall in SMK Sacred Heart.

It was a grand occasion with the top personalities as guests. I took it as a great honour to be invited by UCA Sibu Branch to the function.

The event as a whole was orderly with some hiccups which could have been foreseen by the organisers.

The traffic on the way to SMK Sacred Heart was jammed in a mess. Adding fuel to the flames was the coinciding knock-off time of the school at 6:25pm.

What upset me was a lack of thoughtful planning. The traffic control and the school hours could have been better co-ordinated to ease the situation.

The centenary hall was laid with around 120 tables. The dinner was catered for by Malay community and comprised of authentic Malay foods. We all thought that we had to take with our bare hands as no utensils were provided initially.

The dinner was scheduled to start after PM's key-note address. But at 9:20pm after CM had delivered his lengthy speech, it was already very much past the usual dinner time. Owing to burning hunger, quite a lot of guests became unrest and started buzzing. Seeing this, the organisers called the dinnerto start ahead of the schedule.

Sibuians have a lot to beef up here. After dinner, it was shocking that close to 30% of the guests had left with little regard to PM who was soon to be on stage to speak to rakyat. This aspect of etiquette is sadly still lacking.

The dinner function concluded with the guests lining up to send Pak Lah off.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

General Election 2008 - Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi In Sibu

Our Prime Minister Pak Lah will be in Sibu tomorrow to grace the official opening of SMK St. Elizabeth's Dato Lau Cheng Kiong Centre. Thereafter, he will stay on to attend the grand welcoming cum opening banquet.

Pak Lah's visit has been perceived to be a prelude to the coming elections. This is simply part of a roadshow to drum up support for BN.

Pak Lah is not expected to come empty-handed. He will fly in with a bag of goodies to appease electorate.

In fact, since the turn of the year, Pak Lah has been giving out concessions in a move to further consolidate the foothold of National Front.

Issues like rising food prices, escalating cost of living, land issues, burning issues setting on Chinese and Indians, dilemma facing Chinese education etc are driving voters high on emotions.

On top of that, BN has to encounter tough challenge posed by the opposition parties. Anwar Ibrahim may not be eligible yet to be a candidate, but he has garnered up a sizable force to encroach on BN's base. As such, the opposition power is not to be taken too lightly.

Another mind-boggling issue to Pak Lah is the internal bickering of the component parties. Power struggle has in one way or another bogged down UMNO, MCA and SUPP, thus causing a possible split of votes in the elections to the benefit of the oppositio team.

BN would definitely not be voted out of government in the coming elections. But the under-currents would likely upset the Front in its majority of seats and votes, especially in Malays -majority constituencies. This is Pak Lah's utmost concern.

Our PM appears to be counting on Chinese and Indians to swing their votes in BN's favour to counter a possible dilution in BN's majority.

The enticement is apparently set towards this target!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Chu San - The Third Day of Chinese New Year

I was off for Chinese New Year on Chu Yi and Chu Er only. The leave was sufficient for a good break.

My Chu San was planned out to be fully occupied. I devoted the morning to work. At noon time after work, I went with some colleagues to our GM's residence for a visit. Thereafter, I reserved the afternoon for Allen who planned to go out with his buddies on new year visits. Earlier on, I agreed to drive them around.

It was a wonderful time for Allen and his clique. Their blah seemed to be non-stop. When I acted as their chauffeur, I felt enlivened by this group of youths.

In the evening, I went with Yian to a new year dinner thrown by Mr. Hii Hua Hii, Chairman of Gao Yang Xu Association Sibu, at his residence. Hua Hii has a fine character of hospitality which is most admirable.

The buffet dinner was laden with a sumptuous serving of popular local hot dishes and desserts. On the whole, it was a jovial gathering with satisfying foods.

The picture shows Allen with his buddies: (seating, left to right) David,Willis,Joo Yew; (standing, left to right) Allen, Sing Hong, Chan Lik.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Chinese New Year - 1st Day (Chu Yi) And 2nd Day (Chu Er)

I kicked the new year off by cutting a Pineapple Cheese Cake to celebrate my birthday. Yian came out with her own recipe and the cheese cake tasted luscious. Cheese cake has been my favourite and Yian's Pineapple Cheese Cake is truly my love!

Chinese New Year is traditionally a festive season of joy and well-wishing. It has been customary for relatives, friends and business associates to intervisit during the season.

This tradition of open house has been pretty well preserved in Sibu. On the first two days of Chinese New Year, there were traffic jams in residential areas arising from new year visits.

The first two days took me from Upper Jalan Salim to Sg. Empawah to visit my sisters, brothers, and relatives. It was hectic but fun-filled going around well-wishing and chatting away.

At my second elder sister's place, we were treated to long-life noodles in chicken soup. It was a wonderful meal and the time we spent there was great.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Year Of Rat (Year Of Wu Zi)

At midnight when we witnessed the turn of the year, fireworks furiously blasted into Sibu sky, turning it into a glittering scene.

Sibuians blasted off millions to usher in Year of Rat. The thunderous fireworks displayed the deep-rooted sentiments of Chinese towards their culture.
I stayed up with my family to usher in the new year. The firework display seened to have added glamour to the scene.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Chat Over Teh Tarik on Chinese New Year's Eve

Meng Lei and Steve Ling met up and hung around in the market where goodies for Chinese New Year were put on sale. Later, they popped in Premier Hotel ( ) to look me up.

I was more than glad to receive them. In return, I invited them to Cafe Palmelia for a chit-chat over our signature beverage - teh tarik.

Both Meng Lei and Steve are learned journalists with commentable flair in writing. Their photography skill is also most admirable, many a time making photographs look like living pictures.

We chatted over teh tarik on varied current issues - from inflation, upcoming parliamentary elections, local developments to Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing's superdynamism. It was a wonderful time for me to catch up with them on issues of interest.

Meng Lei and Steve are bloggers also. Their blogs deserve a word of recommendation here to everybody ( ) ( ) .

Chinese New Year's Eve (Chuxi)

Today is Chinese New Year's Eve, the last day of the 12th lunar month. Chu literally means "change" and xi means "eve".

Traditionally, Chinese New Year is an occasion of family reunion. On the Eve, the reunion dinner is the highlight of every family, signifying togetherness.

A market scene - goodies were on sale early this morning.

The Eve has kept Yian non-stop for the whole day long. She took it up all by herself to come out with 15 dishes for the reunion dinner.

Before we settled down on the gorgeous dinner, we gave a thanksgiving prayer to God for His gracious care and love.

The delectable reunion dinner - Almighty God, thank you for the nourishment you have provided us.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Manhattan Fish Market

We concluded our Kuching trip with a lunch at The Manhattan Fish Market in tHe Spring.

On Jan. 29, we checked out from Hotel Grand Continental Kuching after breakfast and proceeded straight to our serious business. From the city centre to Petra Jaya, we were jostling around to get our assigned dutues attended to.

Before embarking on return journey, we popped in tHe Spring to break for lunch. We settled on The Manhattan Fish Market to sample the renowned seafoods.

The Manhattan Fish Market is a chain restaurant specialising in American-style seafood.

Recently the chain built inroad into East Malaysia with one outlet opened up in tHe Spring.

The ambience there is very soothing. I placed order for Fish & Chip and Black Coffee to try out my favourites.

The Manhattan's Fish & Chip was perhaps one of the best I had ever sampled. I recommend it to all fish & chip lovers.

Trip To Kuching - Boulevard Shopping Complex

From tHe Spring we moved on to Boulevard Shopping Complex. On the day of its opening, it caused a big stir in Kuching. I learned that the traffic was jammed for miles long on that day.

Boulevard Hypermarket made a mark in Miri where it gave a wholly new shopping experience. It is timely for it to spread its wing to Kuching and build inroad into the market.

A truly hyprtmarket, Boulevard has a double-levelled basement carpark to accommodate the hypervolume of shoppers. It essentially aims at the broad-based domestic consumer market with competitive pricing and wide merchandise range. Boulevard is, therefore, appealing to a very broad sector of the local market.

In the hypermarket, I was amazed by the streams of shoppers. The traffic flow was congested and non-stop, making the whole place so very bustling.

I believe Boulevard has all the criteria to make another mark in Kuching.

Boulevard Hypermarket - it aims to be a market leader.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Trip To Kuching - tHe Spring

Before we embarked on this trip, we were already very much drawn on the two latest additions in Kuching. Dwelling in my mind was the fancy of the two malls which are still in the lime-light.

tHe Spring is splendid in its outward look. The moment I entered its basement carpark, I was deeply impressed by its orderly layout and gigantic capacity. I gave a thumb up to the planning.

The mall's ambience is just wonderful. It instantly gives a sense of comfort to shoppers. The spacious interiors make shopping completely enjoyable in a grand setting.

tHe Spring apparently positions itself to go upmarket. From posh designs to brand-oriented concept, it aims to capture the high-end consumers and tourists. It has redefined shopping comfort for consumers in Kuching.

It was a great time hanging out there before we ended up in tHe Spring Food Bazaar for our dinner.

The picture shows the posh interiors - Has Kuching got sufficient market for tHe Spring? Take my question as a food for thought!

tHe Spring Food Bazaar - Take my words, quality is definitely the word there.
I ordered Mediterranean Grilled Fish Fillets - it was yummy!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Trip To Kuching - Hotel Grand Continental Kuching

Hotel Grand Continental Kuching was our obvious choice for accommodation - we have a reciprocal arrangement with the hotel for mutual benefits.

Rated four-star, Hotel Grand Continental Kuching is ideal for both leisure anf business travellers in terms of pricing and convenience.

Hotels in Kuching generally fare better than those in Sibu for two obvious reasons.

Firstly, Kuching is the capital city and it naturally stands to gain in travel-related business.

Secondly, in-bound tours have a brisk demand there. This generates huge business for the operators in Kuching.

Sibu lags behind Kuching and Miri for a simple reason that there are insufficient tourists to boost the travel-related trade.

After checking in to the hotel, we proceeded straight to business. It was a hectic afternoon with lots of donkey-work. Eventually we managed to hit the nail on the head.

We scheduled to spend the evening inspecting the latest paradises of the city - tHe Spring and Boulevard Shopping Complex.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Lunch At Chillipeppers

We reached Kuching at about 1:00pm after a six-hour drive. It was past lunch time, so we decided to break for our meal first before checking in to Grand Continental Hotel.

Popular eatery places are aplenty in Kuching, but we settled on Chillipeppers at Liwah Hotel for both convenience and fineness in foods.

The setting of Chillipeppers is based on an open concept with no air-conditioning with the exception of a partitioned room. The whole ambience gives the diners a strong tropical touch. This concept gives Chillipeppers an edge in pricing and menu selection.

I ordered Nasi Lemak+ Drumstick and Teh Tarik, all at extremely competitive pricing.

The serving time was commentable, considering the dining crowd at that hour. Nasi Lemak+Drumstick was to my satisfaction. Teh Tarik turned out to be better than I had expected.

On the whole, the dining experience at Chillipeppers was fabulous.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Serian And Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing

When we reached Serian, we decided to stop for a break at a kopitiam.

Serian, located about 65 km from Kuching, is a town in Samarahan Division.

The kopitiam that we patronised is unique in having its washroom located in the basement. On the food pricing aspect, Serian is ahead of Sibu. It looks like the standard is moving towards that of Kuching.

The moment we arrived at Serian town, one of the first features that caught our attention is the landmark left by Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing.

About two years back, rows of wooden shophouses were gutted by fire. The furious outbreak of disaster landed the owners in a lamentable state of helplessness.

Last year, Tan Sri Ting stepped in and took it up to rebuild the burnt-down shophouses. Tan Sri once again lived up to his good name as a unfailing builder - he did it very much ahead of the schedule.

When we departed Serian for Kuching, I gave a big thumb up to Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing.