Monday, June 30, 2008

Borneo Cultural Festival 2008 - Ngajat Dance Competition

BCF provides an excellent platform for the ethnic groups to appreciate the beauty of each other's culture.

Ngajat Iban never fails to fascinate me. Whenever a ngajat dance is on, I tend to be mesmerized by the performance. This indegenous dance is truly enthralling.

I spotted some Dayak lasses making up in one of the booths. Out of curiosity, I asked, "Great, are you all going for beauty contest?" Cheerfully, they beamed and told me, "We are going on stage for ngajat competition."

When I indicated my wish to snap them , they were more than willing to pose and let me shoot.

The picture shows the Dayak girls posing unreservedly for photoshooting.

The two beautiful Dayak lasses in full traditional costume.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Borneo Cultural Festival 2008 - Chinese Food Fair

Foods are an integral part of Chinese culture. A cultural event of the scale of BCF is literally incomplete without a food fair to tickle the taste bud of food lovers and gourmets.

The settings of Chinese Food Fair truly reflect Chinese culture in every sense. From the decorations of the booths to the foods on disply for sale, visitors are made to be like in a China town.

The glittering booths and the tantalizing foods are there to take the visitors in for a very memorable experience.

The backbone of Chinese Food Fair comprises of the seven dialect groups who are represented through Foochow Association, Kwang Wai Siew Association,Hainan Association, Sibu Harka Association, Sibu Chiang Chuan Association, Hin Hua Pou Sen Association and TeoChew Association.

Come and see and try out for yourself.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Borneo Cultural Festival 2008 - Taking You Into A World of Chinese Culture

BCF (Borneo Cultural Festival) simply showcases the ethnic culture to reflect its beauty and fine essence.

This cultural extravaganza is now into its second day and I missed no chance to set my feet on its ground again to tour the Chinese cultural heritage shows and exhibitions.

From the Chinese opera to the local art works exhibition, I was amazed by the talents of Sibuians. The superb quality of the shows drew me deep into this world of Chinese culture. Wow! Sibuians are talented, much to my admiration!

If you have not been to BCF, make an effort to come to appreciate the local versatility. Don't let it slip away!

The picture shows the Chinese stage opera " huan mei tiu " in progress. Let the local talents fascinate you!

The Photographic Society of Sibu-We have excellent photographers in Sibu.
Sibu Art Association-Come to open your eyes to the works of the talented locals.
Chinese calligraphy-Never underestimate Sibuians!
The local writers' works are also being put on exhibition and sale. The picture shows (left to right) Lee Yam Seng, Wong Meng Chuo and two others. Lee and Wong are renowned local writers, contributing regularly to the local dailies. By the way, Lee Yam Seng is a poet and he has his own blog ( ).

Friday, June 27, 2008

Borneo Cultural Festival 2008 - It Leapt Off To A Grand Start

A much-awaited extravaganza finally has its curtain drawn! With BCF 2008 gonged to start, Sibu is in straight 9 days of non-stop vibrant cultural shows to take you into a world of colours and beauty, uniquely Sarawak.

To put it in a nutshell, BCF is simply a showcase of the beauty of our ethnic diversity. As such, it is surely going to fascinate you!

I popped in with Yian at about 9.30pm to see for ourselves the grand settings of the cultural event. It is not too much to call it a pride of Sibu since we do not have other events of this scale to offer to our dear tourists.

The moment we set our feet on the ground of BCF, we were instantly engulfed by the vibrancy of it. The first bustling sight that came to us was the ethnic foods stalls. On offer were Dayak and Malay specialties to entice visitors. Foods are never missed out in any tourist attractions. With intelligent promotions, our foods have the potential to draw in tourists from far and near!

The picture shows barbecued chicken wings and skewered bishop's noses! You must try out to experience the authentic taste of Dayak foods.

Some young girls in traditional costume to attend to visitors. Mind you, they are surprisingly well groomed with friendly disposition.
This live cooking station serves the Malay version of Hamburger! Sample it to appreciate their culinary skills.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Oil - It Is Now Sizzling Hot

The international oil price shot up to ceiling high primarily by demand and speculative drive. This has landed the whole world in a sizzling hot oil talk.

Malaysia apparently could no longer take it any more and decided to desubsidise in a drastic move to get breathing-space.

The 40% surge took the whole nation by surprise. The rakyat cried out loud to express their deep concern about the impact.

But this is beneficial to the nation in a long-term perspective, our leaders chipped in with their reasoning.

Some tried to pin-point the culprits, hoping to be rational rather than emotional. They have the point!

That should take our view to the international arena where oil is traded increasingly with frenzied speculation.

Goldman, Citi, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley have been the known major speculators in oil trading, driving up the oil price to record high. So, are they to be blamed?

No, they are all purely in financial investment business, trading within the established legal framework.

Impose windfall tax and restrict speculative trading, cried out the leaders of the world.

Great idea, but would it be effective? I really have reservation!

Let's all wake up to it - we are now in an era of expensive fuel! Gone forever are the days of cheap oil!

The above picture was taken when Sibuians were driven by rumours to flock to petrol stations to fill up tanks two nights ago. There was wild rumour flooding the market that the stations would go on strike following a failure to settle on petrol commision. The picture is by courtesy of LIONG.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Explosive Inflation Hitting Hard On New Emerging Markets

The New Emerging Markets are increasingly pressurised by the worsening inflation. Since two years ago, the wind of surging prices has been blowing wild across the globe, with vibrations particularly felt in the developing economies.

This round of inflation has been triggered off primarily by the spiralling fuel and food prices. The industralised nations are milder hit comparatively, thanks to the slower growth in economy. Conversely, the New Emerging Markets' pace of growth is a lot faster, thereby giving rise to more serious inflation.

Malaysia, being one of the New Emerging Markets, has not been excepted from the typhoon of surging inflation. Tighten your belts and stand prepared for the hit.

But one consolation is that our rate of inflation would not be up to the magnitude of that of Vietnam. Vietnam is currently running with an inflation at a staggering rate of 25% and it is at the verge of falling into a crisis.

Believe me, our CPI (consumer price index) is set to move higher!

The above is my article published in The Chinese Methodist Message dated June 22, 2008.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rattan Smack

During my childhood days at Sg. Empawah, this type of rattan smack was a convenient household accessory, useful for both as a cane and a smack.

However, in modern days, it is much less common.

I spotted the above in Lieng Tee Flower Shop and decided to buy one to relish my childhood memories.

In the local political scenario, rattan smack has been wielded high in the air.

Datuk Yong Teck Lee smacked hard on the door of BN last week by revolting against the Front primarily over the issues of concern to Sabahans.

Although no motion of no-confidence was actually moved, SAPP had already given BN the jitters.

I don't know for sure what is the card up Datuk Yong's sleeve, but the game is certainly far from over.

Monday, June 23, 2008

History of Cantonese Settlement in Sibu - All in Drawings

In 2002, Sarawak Vui Neng Association held on a large scale the centenary celebrations of Cantonese Settlement in Sibu.

Premier Hotel had the honour to provide accommodation for all the invited guests flying in from all over. As such, the air of our hotel was filled with the mood of the celebrations also.

The centenary celebrations were bountiful and meaningful, leaving me with deep impressions. Amongst all, the launching of a book on the history of Cantonese Settlement in Sibu particularly caught my interest. The book uniquely illustrates the history entirely in drawings with some brief explanatory notes in Chinese.

The author of the book is Simon Lai, a local talented artist and graphic designer who is very creative-minded.

Simon has a very impressive track record of achievements in his field, one of which was a hand-drawn portrait of Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. The drawing was presented to Dr. M on September 16, 2001 by Simon Lai on behalf of our State Government as a souvenir.

Peter Kong gave a souvenir copy to me after the function. The publication was not available for sale in the market. As such, it is very valuable.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Chinese Potteries & Porcelain - Be A Good Bargain - Hunter

Chinese pottery is an artwork created using the natural materials.

According to the archaeological evidence, Chinese pottery has enjoyed a long history of over 11,700 years. It may be the oldest artwork in the history of the human species.

Pottery is made by mixing clay and water, and then kneading the damp clay into a certain model, then airing and firing it in a kiln.

The picture shows heaps of potteries outside Sibu Trade & Exhibition Centre which is one of the latest roadshow centres.

Some Chinese pottery pedlars have been on and off in Sibu at various roadshow centres selling Chinese potteries and porcelain.

Their usual tactic is to mark up high the tagged prices and stand prepared to haggle with prospective buyers.

To deal with them,I was told one has to hack the tagged orices by as much as 70%, and then go on bargain-hunting with the pedlars.

Honestly, I have never tried it out because I am a poor bargain-hunter. But from the sharings of some personal experiences, the deals could be lucrative, depending on how tough you are in negotiating.

The picture shows the products of Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province. Jingdezhen, which is renowned for potteries and porcelain, is known as "The Porcelain Centre of The World".

This fine dining table set is tagged at RM5,400.
This flying eagle looks real and alive. Made of clay, it is certainly not cheap - but, again, it depends on your bargaining power!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Yong Teck Lee Passed The Ball Back To BN

Datuk Yong Teck Lee is obviously in control of the SC of SAPP. As such, he has an upper hand of the saga as of now!

With the SC's endorsement of the no-confidence move, Yong has smartly passed the ball back to Pak Lah to decide the fate of SAPP.

This is an astute step to corner BN.

The second round has just been gonged over and the party taking the lead is Datuk Yong at 2:0.

In Malaysia, politics and shares are seemingly inseparable! Think of politics, think of shares!

That day when the saga erupted, I was at a newsstand browsing among magazines.

Then, out of the blue, the tawkey nion blurted out, pointing at her computer screen," Hey, look, SCOMI looks like a good buy now!"

I told her to continue watching out.

SCOMI has been heavily under the shadow of KJ. At one time, it was a shining star, making it a hot pick. But dark clouds have been hovering over it since the political tsunami.

Datuk Yong's revolt move has deep implications for this counter.

The above picture is by courtesy of LIONG ( ), a blogger friend of mine. His photography is admirable.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pak Lah Versus Yong Teck Lee

Seriously, what has Datuk Yong Teck Lee got to lose in the event his political revolt has a hard landing? I am really of the opiniom that he is not playing a losing game - not at all!

Although the whole saga is veiled, it is obvious that the invisible hand behind the dissenting move is the de facto leader of PKR Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

With options open to him, Datuk Yong boldly jumped into the ring for a 15-round heavyweight fight. The round one was concluded with Datuk Yong leading at 1:0.

Let's stay tuned in to the new developments!

I don't know for sure whether Yong is a market player. If he is one, then he could have made a windfall by selling short certain politically sensitive stocks with his excellent timing.

After Datuk Yong released his no-confidence vote move through press, KLSE turned volatile. The timing was definitely on his side - he could have made tons by just a simple manoeuvre.

Datuk Yong is surely a shrewd player!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Datuk Yong Teck Lee Dropped A Bombshell

Datuk Yong Teck Lee had been on low profile politically for quite a while. Yesterday he made a thunderous comeback by dropping a bombshell to announce his party (Sabah Progressive Party) supporting a vote of no confidence on the prime minister in the coming parliament session on Monday.

Much has been said about Yong's move and the political implications of his no-faith declaration. One thing for sure is that Datuk Yong has his political agenda and, if I read it correctly, it is intended in utmost good faith for the betterment of Sabahans. I am not going to touch any further on it.

Maybe just let me share with you two anecdotes about the flamboyant Datuk Yong Teck Lee.

In 1996 when Tan Sri Dr. Wong Soon Kai was in a straight fight with Wong Ho Leng in Bukit Assek constituency, Datuk Yong Teck Lee flew in in his capacity as CM of Sabah for a day visit to give Tan Sri Dr. Wong his moral support. Despite the stage appearances by several heavy-weights including Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, Soon Kai lost the election by a narrow margin.

During his tenure as CM of Sabah, Datuk Yong Teck Lee convinced DUN (Dewan Undangan Negeri) to buy into a listed company using the state funds with the intention to turn the listed vehicle into a state government's investment arm. After acquisition, the share price slumped from the all-time high of RM30 to below RM8, in the wake of Asian economic crisis. Several ADUNs in the opposition team hit out at Datuk Yong Teck Lee's government for causing huge capital losses to the state. But Yong was fast to refute the allegations, saying the crisis was beyong his control. Fortunately I did not pick up that counter earlier.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Borneo Cultural Festival - Now Into Its 7th Year

BCF (Borneo Cultural Festival) is perhaps one of the most glamorous cultural events in Sibu. Now into its 7th year, BCF has gained popularity over the years.

BCF is truly an extravaganza. It is a composite event grouping ethnic festivals, grand stage shows and trade exhibitions under one banner. Scheduled to be held from June 27 to July 5, BCF promises a line-up of events to enthral you throughout.

SMC initiated this cultural event with the ideas to showcase the beauty in our ethnic diversity and to promote it as a tourism product. This very noble event deserves more local support and participations for it to go up to a new height.

In the opinion of our dear Sibuians, SMC perhaps may give more extensive publicity to attract foreign tourists to come in to partake of BCF. Honestly, foreign response means a lot to Sibu in our efforts to promote the central region as a hub of tourism.

I look forward to partaking of this very colourful cultural extravaganza!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Petrol Price - We Are Perplexed

Our leaders have been a bit fickle-minded lately.

In the wake of the surge in the international oil price, our Federal Government reacted with implementing policy measures for the good of the nation.

A major hike in petrol prices by 40% was too abrupt and hurtful, although in long term desubsidization of petrol is beneficial to the nation. But the ways our leaders going about abating the impact have been so fickle that the rakyats are caught off guard.

From the ban of petrol sale to foreign cars, cash rebates to the just proposed fuel card, we are quite perplexed. Seriously, what is next in the pipeline?

There was little wonder that the eligible car owners flocked to the POS offices to claim their rebates starting from June 14. Well, no one now is absolutely sure for how long this rebate policy is going to stay put. Just look at the newly proposed fuel card and you will appreciate as to why rakyats are so uncertain now.

Can we not think out a policy well before implementing?

Monday, June 16, 2008

CPI 2007 - Malaysia Is Less Corrupt Now

The release of CPI 2007 was met with some trumpet-blowing by our officials for a marginal inching up in ranking from 44 in 2006 to the present 43.

I am all for the better show in our transparency and all my fellow Malaysians have every good cause to join me in giving thumbs up to our government for the commendable efforts. After all, this is a u-turn for Malaysia in CPI ranking.

But what perturbs me is that whenever our international rankings are less favourable to us, our officials would act fast to put blame on criteria in use as being unfair to our nation. In the event of a better show like in the case of CPI 2007, our officials would blow trumpet.

Can we not learn to take all international rankings with an open mind?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day Dinner - All In Western Cuisine

It was all the warmth in my heart to have my kids wishing me "Happy Father's Day" early in the morning. Deep down in mt heart, I thank God for their filial love.

Yian planned a dinner in Western cuisine for the occasion. Western-style cooking has been my favourite since my varsity days at Monash. Over the years in the hotel line, I have had wider exposure to the fine tastes of Western delicacies.

Today Yian home-cooked using her own recipes some Western dishes to let the family try out.

Thank you, Yian, for your good efforts!

The picture shows Beef & Fruits Skewers with black pepper sauce.

Pasta - I love it.
French Fries - The favourite of Allen.
Hot & Spicy Chicken - It is succulent!
Fish Burger - It is appealing to everybody.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

DG of IRB Has Done It

DG (Director-General) of IRB (Inland Revenue Board) has truly lived up to his promise!

In the earlier part of the year, DG undertook to pay back refunds to those tax payers who opted to submit their returns on-line within one month after receipt.

Honestly, I couldn't help to be sceptical. In the past ten years, IRB had been marred with excessive delay in repayments to tax payers, with some cases overdue for as long as five years. It was all thumbs down when refund woes were shared among the tax payers.

It was therefore a surprise when I received my cheque from IRB at the start of this month. This was perhaps the first time I received such an early refund! A big hurray to DG for doing a good job.

With the switch of our tax to one-tier system this year, refunds on dividend tax would go into history with effect from 2009.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Petrol Price Hike - Protests And More To Come

The recent petrol price hike by a whopping 40% has triggered off protests and picketing here and there. Just today alone, thousands of people took to streets in KL to voice out their extreme discontent with the government's petrol pricing policy.

The cash rebates may help to a limited extent in alleviating the car owners' financial burden arising from the heightened fuel cost.

But the chain reactions thereof giving rise to a spiralling inflation would be far beyond the cape of the cash rebates. In short, the rakyat's living expenses would be mounting up in the months to come.

Our inflation has been projected to spiral up to beyond 5% in the near term. This sounds worrisome to the majority of us.

There is little wonder that more would come out on streets to protest as reported in the local dailies today.
The above picture shows the protesting crowds in KL. The picture is by courtesy of See Hua Daily News.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Monash University - 50 Years Engaging The World

Monash University, Australia celebrates its Goldem Jubilee this year. As an alumnus, I felt happy to hear the news.

Now the largest university in Australia, Monash, where I spent my youthful days, left me with a sea of sweet memories.

Monash provided me more than just academic education - it essentially trained me to think critically and taught me to take learning as a life-long process.

I recall my professor telling us in our final year, "You would be fast getting out-dated after leaving Monash's lecture hall. Believe me, you have to take learning as a continuing process in your life." The professor's advice stays on deep-rooted in my mind.

Happy Golden Jubilee, Monash University!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Austerity Drive To Combat Inflation

Pak Lah announced four cuts in Federal government's expenditure to boost austerity drive in the wake of the major petrol price hike.

Such a move has very minimal effect on Federal budget saving. But it does provide a lead role in calling on rakyat to be thrifty during the present hard times.

This reminds me of the Asian economic meltdown in 1998 when Malaysia was also immensely impacted. The government then painstakingly trimmed off spending to save the nation's coffers which had run critically low.

But our government now is a lot better off financially than during the crisis time in 1998.

Does Pak Lah really have to go to the extent of shrinking expenditure at the expense of our economic growth? What we really need to slash are the abuses and excesses!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sarawak's Authentic Handicrafts At Lieng Tee

Sarawak is rich in cultural heritage. This is our pride and over the years, tourists from far and near have been drawn in to experience our diverse cultures.

One notable cultural attraction is our native handicrafts which have long become popular souvenirs for collection by tourists. Even domestic travellers from other states are fascinated by the local handicrafts by our natives.

Located on the ground floor of Sarawak House Complex, Lieng Tee Flower Shop is one of the renowned handicraft shops with a comprehensive range of products in Sibu. It is perhaps the most well-stocked handicraft dealer in the towm.

Sarawak House Complex is annexed to Premier Hotel ( ). As such, I conveniently recommend my guests who are handicraft enthusiasts to Lieng Tee Flower Shop.

As a matter of fact, Lieng Tee Flower Shop plays an important role in tourism industry. I recall the days before Lieng Tee going into this trade in full swing, I had had a hard time to direct the tourists who were on the look-out for native handicrafts to a right place.

In tourism development, we have got to provide the right products!

The picture shows Lieng Tee Flower shop in Sarawak House Complex.

The elegantly framed-up native shields and swords.
Pua kumbu - Popular native tapestries. Tourists can't afford to miss them!
Native wood-carving - There is a wide selection for the enthusiasts.
Native potteries - They make excellent souvenirs.
Native hand-made necklaces of colourful beads.
T-shirts with rich cultural designs.
Tikar - These rattan mats are popular among domestic travellers.
The locally produced pepper products and tebaloi.
Rattan baskets - They are not easily found in Sibu nowadays!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Wan king - A kopitiam Taukeh

Sibu town is high in kopitiam density. Unofficial statistics told me that the number is quite close to 600. This is quite striking in a small place like Sibu. Kopitiams may easily rank top in terms of number among the shops in Sibu.

Wan King is a typical kopitiam taukeh - diligent and faithful to his trade. He has been running Palace Cafe for slightly over 8 years with his heart - and he enjoys it.

Wan King's kopi-o and tehsi are distinguishably good - and I especially love his creamy tehsi kosong. Frankly he told me he never bargains away the quality - and that alone makes his hot beverages stand out.

This kopitiam taukeh is a keen learner. At his spare time, he has been attending English tuition class to upgrade his language proficiency. Sometimes we have light moments sharing over common English grammatical errors.

Life is meant to be fun-filled - don't make ir too tense!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Duang Wu Festival Amidst Prevalent Fear of Inflation

Kopitiam acted fast against the onslaught of the rising cost by shrinking food portions served.

When I went with my family patronizing our regular kopitiam brfore proceeding to Sunday service, we noted with astonishment the smaller than usual portions served for mee hoon goreng and kampua mee.

Alas, the latest hike has hardly added to their food cost. My goodness, they took one step too fast!

Homecooking is one way to beat the prevalent inflation. Yian spent the afternoon to come out with 8 delicacies to feast the family on this auspicious Duang Wu Festival.

This Duang Wu shall be remembered for being besieged by inflation fear!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

We Are Now Squeezed Out

The latest hike in petrol prices has sparked off a new round of price increases in consumer goods.

The painful nips have sent consumers at large practically squeezed out, making their spending power a lot weaker. Next in the pipeline to go up is our CPI (Consumer Price Index) which is a measure of our inflation.

Our inflation is projected to spiral in the months to come. This is going to pressurise our Bank Negara to review its monetary policy to tame the worsening inflation.

But the present wave of price increases is triggered not by demand-pulled factor - it is ignited by the suppliers jacking up the prices. As such, it may not be effective to raise interest rate to moderate the inflation.

To let Ringgit to appreciate further may help, but our exporters may feel the pinch.

BNM has to be smart in its policy-making to help our nation to tide over the present predicament.

The present framewotk allows our government to review the petrol prices on monthly basis. If the geopolitical tension in the Middle-East turns nasty, the ultra-sensitive oil price may easily rocket ceiling-high to US$200 per barrel. Under the present structure, our petrol prices would float in tandem.

Let's hope for the best.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Energy Efficiency - We Are 30 Years Behind

In 70s, following the oil embargo imposed by Saudi Arabia, the industralised nations were severely hit by the rocketing oil prices. The oil crisis woke the G7 up to the realisation of the vulnerability of relying too heavily on Middle-Eastern oil, and the top urgency to heighten the nations' energy efficiency.

The industralised nations, notably USA, Japan and Germany, put in strenuous efforts to greatly upgrade their efficiency in oil usage.

Energy efficiency, in dollar terms, refers to the quantity of energy (oil) used in producing per dollar value of GDP.

Today, Germany ranks top in the world in energy efficiency, with Japan and USA on the next positions.

Malaysia's oil reserves are fast depleting. But our statistics shows that we are not at all efficient in our oil usage. It is timely for our government to embark on serious programmes to improve our efficiency in oil usage.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Oil - Talk Of The Day

Oil is the talk of the day in Sibu!

From the briefing session in the morning to the afternoon tehsi break in kopitiam, oil occupied the centre stage.

The price surge of such a magnitude has far-reaching effects on consumers. Soon to take off would be our CPI. Quite obviously, the consequential impact would be on the ordinary folks!

It is little wonder that almost everyone I bumped into today blurted out his worry about the heightened fuel cost.

Inflation seems to keep us on the toes!

I just penned off an article on the explosive inflation besetting the emerging economies for inclusion in The Methodist Message. After publication, I shall blog it for the benefits of those who are Mandarin-literate.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Fuel Price - Now On Free Floating Basis

The market talks have had it right - our fuel price is going for free floating and it rockets immediately to RM2.70 per litre. Goodness, it is a whopping 40% jump.

The news serves a blow to consumers at large who have already been badly squeezed out by the rising food prices.

You may ask: Dude, do you see any likelihood of reversion ahead of us?

There is slim chance, except when the oil price bubble goes bursting internationally.

The international funds have been going into a betting frenzy on oil price. That wild speculations have driven up the international oil price, leading to a probable formation of price bubble.

But don't bet too much for the ugly bubble to burst!