Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dow Jones Plummetted On September 29

When I logged on to bloomberg this morning, I was taken to near disbelief to read the heavy slump of Dow Jones on yesterday's (Monday, Sept. 29) trading. The news went on to say that the stock market was in a frenzied reaction to the House of Representatives' voting down a US$700 billion rescue package. The shock took a heavy toll of Dow Jones, resulting in the market shedding 778 points, making it the worst day ever since Great Depression crash on October 29, 1929 (popularly known as Black Tuesday).

On this day alone when investors were left shaken, a total of US$1.2 trillion of market value was erased from U.S. stocks.

Looking at the present scenario, we are like driving in a fog. Really, we are at a loss as to what to expect. How many more banks are on the line to go bankrupt? Where is the greenback heading to? Is U.K. destined to be worse than Uncle Sam? How about Euro Zone - Is it going to get it too? And our dear ringgit - Is it facing a sell-down pressure? The dwindling oil price - By how much more it has to go down before stabilising? The U.S. monetary policy - Is Fed under pressure to cut rate? The list seems to be endless.

In a market like this, cash remains the best option.

Have a good day!

"I have never lived through something like that," said Stephen Jarislowsky, the 83-year-old chairman of Montreal-based money manager Jarislowsky Fraser Ltd.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Peter Sii - Taking Life As A Challenge

At the wee hours when most youngsters are still deep in sleep or may not even have turned in yet, Peter Sii is already out of his bed with heavy eyes setting forth to his part-time job as a newspaper runner.

Faithfully Peter delivers United Daily to my house at 5:00am, more or less, for our morning time reading. It really boggled my mind as to who was this chap who never failed us.

Then Peter came to my house to collect the annual subscription fees two days ago and he really amazed me with his working hours.

Peter is on two jobs - besides running for United Daily, he is also a full-time car air-conditioner technician. With the hours taken up by the two jobs daily, he has scanty time for other personal commitments.

Throughout our chit-chatting, Peter uttered no sigh at all about the workload. His face radisted warmth and shine, seemingly to suggest that he is taking life as a challenge.

Peter simply puts a lot of lazy-bones to shame!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Shopping Complexes In Sibu - Brisk Businesses On Heightened Raya Mood

Premier Departmental Store - Raya sales are on!
Sarawak House Shopping Complex - The Raya mood fills up the air!
Lea Centre - A thrust to gain an edge in this festive sale.
A counter with all the Raya cookies to entice the customers.
Hari Raya Aidilfitri is just two more days away. On the run-up to this blissful festive occasion, the air in Sibu is filled with heightened mood. As such, this weekend was proven to be exciting for Muslims. From shopping complexes to coffee-houses, the businesses were brisk when festive shopping and berbuka puasa eating-out were taking a centre stage.

Sometimes, shopping is very much festive-driven, although it can be an impulsive spending also
. The festivals simply spur an urge on consumers to go shopping spree. This is what the market looks forward to.
Our government just released the bonuses, albeit only the first half, as provided in the budget for 2009 and, as such, this weekend was anticipated to spring up with jostling crowds. These much-awaited perks are just timely for the Muslim civil servants to spring to life for last-minute shopping.
The heightened mood is filling up the whole place and it is somewhat contagious. A lot of non-Muslims feel the festive heat and partake of the Muslims' joy.
When I popped in some popular complexes, I was enlivened by the bustling scenarios. The whole Raya festivity was manifested right in front of me!
Wow! What a lovely Malaysian culture!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Visit Sibu Year 2009 - Let's Do It For Sibu!

Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh proposed to fix 2009 to be "Visit Sibu Year" in an effort to promote Sibu as a tourist destination.

This grand plan is certainly ambitious to lift up Sibu in tourism. For years, we have had too much rhetoric on promoting Sibu to the outside world. But, alas, Sibu remains backward and lags behind in attracting tourists.

Perhaps something more down-to-earth may help the central region. Visit Sibu Year is a move in the right direction and we have no reason not to applaud.

As we set forth the heartening Visit Sibu Year, let's not forget to check on our tourist attractions and selling points. Are they already in place to take on the visits? And, how about our support services?

Let's do it for Sibu!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ushering In An Era of Najib Abdul Razak

UMNO supreme council met this morning and dealt a blow to Pak Lah by postponing the party's AGM to March next year.

This emergency meeting was the top echelon of UMNO taking one clear step to pressurize Pak Lah to hand over the baton to his deputy.

You may call Najib Abdul Razak a controversial figure, saying you have reservation about him. But the reality is that the meeting this morning seemed to have sent out an unqualified message that NAR is the one to take over.

So, here it is - an era of Najib is in the making!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Chong Chieng Jen - The Talk of Sibu Town

Yesterday was the judgement day and Chong Chieng Jen expectedly won Kuching Election Petition case in the Election Court. The judgement for Chong did not come to be too much a surprise to the watchers, seriously. The whole court proceeding said it all!
Had Chong Chieng Jen lost the petition case and a fresh election had to be called for, what would be the most likely scenario of it? A victory by an even larger majority, most of them murmured.
That seemingly reflected the contemporary politics in Malaysia.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

China's Tainted Foods - Call For Quality Control

The systems of control in China are still backward and weak. As such, scandalous food tainting is bound to break out along the way.

When China opened up to the foreign investments and aggressively reformed its economy, the growth surged up by leaps and bounds.

But the systems of control (in all aspects from environment to quality) did not move in tandem with the economic progress. From legislation, enforcement to business ethical education, China is still far behind the more developed nations.

There is urgency for China to upgrade its quality in all aspects to win back the confidence of the world.

Likewise, for China to move higher globally, it has to painstakingly push for reformations on legal systems, enforcement and business ethical standatds, without which the progress of this Meddle Kingdom may be bogged down.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

China's Tainted Foods - The Scare Is Now Widespread

The outbreak of the tainted milk scandal in China has been frontpage news in most of the local Chinese dailies. The food scare has now been spread to this part of the world, with several milk products being listed for official suspicion watch. Inevitably, it cast a chill over the nation since Chinese food products are popular here. All of a sudden, we are vulnerable to this latest hit of tainted food scare.

This is not the first time China ran into quality scandal which took the nation under the global limelight.

The present taint issue is of grave concern to the world at large since China is powering the global growth with its gigantic capacity both to consume and manufacture. Any scandal of this nature which is deemed detrimental to the nation's economic progress certainly would rattle loud.

China's rise has raised the global eyebrows. The nation has now surpassed U.S. to be the largest importer of a few Asian nations' exports. As such, a shock like the present food scare coming from China would unsurprisingly draw the global attention.

Is China particularly prone to this nature of scandal? Or is it the developmental hiccup that an upcoming emerging market like China has to go through before full blooming?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Local News Coverage

Over the past few years, I noted diverse editorial policies on treatments of local news by the local Chinese and English dailies. This has been a mind-boggling phenomenon. Out of curiosity, I raised it to the reporters of the English dailies. Probably too hot to handle, they just shoved it aside, saying it was a policy matter.

All the local Chinese dailies have very extensive coverage of Sibu local news, whereas the English dailies are scanty on this aspect. This makes English dailies stand aloof from the Chinese community, rendering them much less readable as a result.

It is now almost a norm that the English dailies are missed out in the Chinese community functions, this is as a result of knowing very well that the events are lowly prioritised in their news reporting.

I had thought of subscribing to local English dailies for personal reading but gave up due to their skimpy coverage on Sibu news.

BP used to be impressive in news on Sibu. The last few years saw quite a dramatic shift in its policy which is a dismay.

I had high expections when ET was first launched, thinking it might fill up the vacuum. But it turned out to be not much better off.

Take the recent outroar over the exorbitant fees on land renewal which took the headlines in the Chinese dailies. But our dear local English dailies were mute on this burning issue affecting land owners.

By giving some priority to local news is one way for the English dailies to build inroad into the Sibu Chinese community.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

UCA Sibu Speaks Out On Exorbitant Fees

Over 20 rural agricultural land owners have been served with a notice to pay exorbitant fees of RM10,000 per acre for renewal of land lease.

This is extremely shocking since it is far in excess of the revised lease renewal fees applicale to agricultural land at RM200 per acre.

The latest woe is a reflection that the thorn still remains in the flesh of the land owners. When the disgruntled land owners took it up with the relevant department, the high fee issue was to no avail.

Yesterday UCA Sibu took the matter up for deliberation and a resolution was passed to call on the government to adhere to the revised land renewal fees passed in 2007. At the same time, it also resolved to urge the government to remove the conditional clause that the agricultural lands be strictly only for agricultural purpose as a condition for renewal.

UCA Sibu has been outspoken on some burning issues in Sibu. From land lease issue, flooding nightmare, rice retailing deadlock to the present exorbitant fees, UCA Sibu took them to the forefront to voice out for Sibuians. As a result, certain interested parties have dubbed UCA Sibu "opposition-like", implying it is too outspoken.

By not keeping mute, UCA Sibu has earned respect from Sibuians.

Keep it up!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ramadhan Bazaar Revisited

I popped in Ramadhan Bazaar again this afternoon for some photoshooting. The first visit there was a mission incomplete when my digicam turned faulty and failed to come out with desired pictures.

Later I sent it for repair and in the meantime I bought a new one which is working well.

The bazaar was busy enough to keep all the stall owners smiling. The scene was as usual, with different ethnic groups patronizing the place.

While I was busy moving around snapping pictures, I bumped into Ing Kai who was there with his wife. He told me this was his first visit there.

Ramadhan Bazaar left me with a warm touch of our racial harmony. Let's all preserve this beauty on our exotic land.

The picture shows a bustling scene in the bazaar.

A wide spread of irresistible local snacks.
All the goodies are fairly priced.
The tempting roasts - you have no reason to miss them!
The mouth-watering roasted chickens.
A ll the stalls did a brisk business.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Financial Crisis - Free Trade Versus Intervention

U.S. is a strong proponent of laissez-faire capitalism.

Generally speaking, laissez-faire capitalism is understood to be a doctrine that maintains that private initiative and production best be allowed a minimal of economic intervention by the state beyond what is necessary to maintain individual liberty, peace, security and property rights.

Proponents argue that the laissez-faire produces greater prosperity and personal freedom than other economic systems. U.S. has proudly been the model of freedom in trade and such intervention by state as bailout had been jeered at by Uncle Sam as a bad practice.

I still recall way back in 1998 when Malaysia was gutted by the Asian financial turmoil, DM called out loud to curb the speculative trades and he imposed restriction on ringgit exchanges. What followed up was a mountain of boos in international arena.

This year I saw U.S. taking curbs and bailouts to save the meltdown of its financial system. From the shotgun marriage of Bear Stearns to JP Morgan (by the Federal Reserve which ordered the latter to buy over the former), the bailouts of Freddie Mae, Fannie Mae and AIG, the proposed legislation to restrict wild speculations on oil to the curbs on shortselling of bank stocks, it shows that once viewed as a disgusting intervention measure is now being resorted to by the world's biggest economy.

It is far too sketchy to comment on the doctrine of laissez-faire and the flaws in Uncle Sam's financial system now, but this wave of woes do exhibit that DM was not too wrong to curb frenzied speculations in 1998.

Seriously, if not by curbing and bailing out, what else could Ben Bernake do?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Financial Crisis - The Bailout of AIG

The Federal Reserve splashed out a huge sum of 85 billions of U.S. dollars to bail out the beleaguered AIG. This gave the market a sigh of relief. Uncle Sam simply can't afford another giant to fall down.

The U.S. housing bubble's burst and the subsequent subprime mortgage crisis dragged the world's biggest economy into recession. More than that, Uncle Sam's financial system is now in deep trouble, making the whole world jittery.

From the collapse of The Bear Stearns Companies (one of the world's largest investment banks) in March 2008 to the fall of Lehman Brothers (filed for bankruptcy) and Merrill Lynch (being sold off to Bank of America on September 14, 2008), it shows how seriously the financial system in U.S. has been ruined by the toxin of the subprime mortgage loans.

When the subprime mortgage crisis first erupted in 2007, it was widely predicted the toxin would be pervasively spread out to impact the financial system at a magnitude not quantifiable.

The collapse of the three giants have not brought the storm to subside. The whole financial crisis is far from over.

There was a prediction at the start of the year that investors might see Dow Jones at 9,000 towards the end of the year. How probable is it? The trend now seems to be moving towards that direction.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Financial Crisis - Cash Is king Now!

The fall of Lehman Brothers, a gigantic investment bank in U.S., shocked the whole world and it sent investors pop-eyed with disbelief.
The past mentra that Lehman Brothers was too big to fall failed to hold. The global financial market was struck to wake up to the harsh reality that Uncle Sam is deep, deep in financial crisis.
The big five (investment banks) in U.S. is now left with two. This added jitters to the global market and made investors feel the shivers all over.
As investors, during such turbulent times when the market is still diving, what could possibly be the best option?
Cash is the king now! Hold on to cash and wait for the right timing to mop up cheap pick!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

September 16 - What A Day To Go Through!

The build-up of the power seizure on 916 has driven Malaysians to frenzy today.

Personally speaking, I really have a nerve-racking day to go through. From casual talks to in-coming calls, 916 inevitably takes the centre stage, making the day even more exciting. Practically I have to hold breath every time a call comes in, thinking it might be some kind of breaking news relating to 916.

My nephew who is practising in KL updated me several times throughout the day on the latest scenario in the capital city. According to him, KL has been generally quiet. What is of concern is the transition of power, if a seizure does take place.

Peace is still what Malaysians hope for. If PR succeeds in forming a government, let's pray that the handover would be in good order for the sake of the nation.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The ISA Saga - Are They At Their Wits' End?

The use of ISA to crack down RPK, Teresa Kok and Tan Hoon Cheng shows that the think - tank of Pak Lah is at their wits' end, so to speak.

Although ISA has a wide spectrum of powers bestowed on the Minister of Home Affairs, its primary objective at the time of enactment was to clamp down on the subversive movements by the terrorists. But, somehow, the law has been widely interpreted to include reporting on facts. This sent the right-thinking Malaysians to a state of extreme shock.

To use the law absurdly on a blogger (who blogged about the dirty linen in our system), a politician (who stood up for the social justice deemed to be beneficial to all races) and a reporter (who merely reported the facts) exhibits the ugly truth that the think-tank of the government of Pak Lah is really at their wits' end.

There are available laws to subject the three to a fair trial in an open court if their acts are offensive to the nation or as alleged, detrimental to the peace and order of Malaysia.

Applying the draconian laws on the three peace-loving citizens merely makes a mockery of our system of administration.

Therefore, there is little wonder that the de facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim called it a day today in his loudest protest against the ISA arrests. When Zaid Ibrahim assumed the post of Law Minister soon after the general election on March 8, he was ambitious to set the judicial system back to a good order. But the ISA saga put him off completely.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mid-Autumn Or Mooncake Festival

Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the major Chinese festivals popularly celebrated. In Malaysia and Singapore, it is also referred to as Mooncake Festival.
Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. In Gregorian calendar, it is on today.
On this day, the moon is in its fullest shape. The occasion, therefore, signifies reunion in the Chinese culture.
This traditional essence is reflected in mooncakes which are mostly round-shaped.
As for the traditional observance of taking mooncakes during the festival, a widespread folk tale has it that in the 14th century, there was an uprising in Chinese against Mongol rulers of the Yuan Dynasty.
It follows that a rebellion was mooted and Liu Bowen, the leader, and Zhu Yuanzhang, the advisor, planned to coincide the timing with the Mid-Autumn Fesrival.
They worked out a strategy to seek permission to give away to the Chinese residents in the city cakes stuffed with a written message: Rise up and kill the Mongols on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month.
The rebellion worked as planned and they successfully overthrew the government of Mongols. Thereafter, Ming Dynasty with Zhu Yuanzhang as the helm of the state was established.
Therefore, celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival with mooncakes is in commemoration of the uprising of the Chinese against the Mongol rulers.
In modern days, mooncakes come in a wide variety with innovations to suit the trend of the present age.
During my childhood days, mooncakes were much more monotonous. The age has really revolutionised the mooncake recipes, incorporating such factors as health and subtle tastes.
We have savoured a few varieties of mooncakes this year, all are of superb quality. My memories start to flow back to my younger days when it was such a fun having the family together savouring the mooncakes.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sing Ang Tong Methodist Church - 913 Fund-Raising Sales

Sing Ang Tong Methodist Church at Sg. Merah, Sibu organised a fund-raising sale for its church -building project which is scheduled to take off in 2009.

The present church building capacity is pretty much insufficient to meet the growing needs in the years to come. Feeling increasingly under the constraint, the church planned to put up a new building on a site adjacent to the existing one.

September 13 or 913 was gazetted to be the official date for the celebration of TYT's birthday. But, this year, it was being put off to October 25 at the last minute due to the religious observance by the Muslims. An otherwise a public holiday has therefore been turned into a normal working day.

As such, I set out with Yian to Sing Ang Tong Methodist Church to partake of their sales early enough to fit in my working hours.

When we popped in at about 7:00am, the whole place was quite bustling already. It just amazed me - the place looked more like a bazaar with lots of stalls, all stuffed up with, wow, goodies.

We looked round first before we settled on anything.

The picture shows the entrance to the sales premises. A few teenagers were there acting as ushers.

These cute ostrich egg shells with very innovative, colourful designs drew me close to the stall. At RM20 per egg shell, they are a good bargain. "They are a good buy - we used to offer them at RM30 per shell," the attendant tried to talk me into getting one.
This corner was like a mini - food fair where irresistibe local foods were up for savouring. The aroma of the delectable hawker foods drew me there from distance to pop in my head to every stall. The business was brisk, making it the corner with the most crowds!
Kampua, the Sibu hawker food, is almost a must in most of the fairs. It has earned Sibu a good publicity for tourism promotion. Sibu kampua is now also available in Kuching, Miri and KL. We bought some take-away kampua for breakfast!
Wow! The mouth-watering loo mee!
The kids played their part to peddle round the place with flying balloons.
They put their hands together to make the sales a success.
Yummy! The cheese cakes were tempting and luscious. At RM100 per cake, it was not pricey, seriously!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Malaysia - Now In Silence!

Pak Lah is clamping down on websites and local publications that have been alleged to raise seditious issues deemed detrimental to the interests of the nation.
In a lightning move, Raja Petra Kamaluddon or RPK as more popularly referred to. was arrested this afternoon under S73(1) of the ISA for allegedly bringing a threat to security, peace and public order.
In another stunning hit-out, also in this afternoon, the government asked Sin Chew Daily, The Sun and Suara Keadilan to show cause over their news coverage on a number of political issues.
Pak Lah is obviously getting high-handed to ask rakyat ro shut up on the so- called sensitive issues.
After Pak Lah took office, he exhibited to be more liberal in giving access to information which was a relief. For one thing, I have been receiving my foreign journals more timely.
This is really a websphere era where information has no boundaries. The move by blacking out information may have taken Malaysia a few steps backwards!
Malaysians may foresee the coming of an age of suppressed silence with the official trumpets in the blowing only!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

SUPP - On The Race To Power

On the run-up to the Triennial Delegates' Conference (TDC) due to be held at the year's end, SUPP gets a bit more bustled up, with rumours floating around on the race to the top post in the party. Sure enough, momentum is going to build up over the next two months.

In fact, rumblings of discontent burst out last year when Sibu SUPP hit out against GC for his dismal leadership. WSK openly threw challenge to GC, signalling for the first time the blast-off of the racing game. The open conflict took the party to the verge of landing in an unsettled state.

Then the drama took a sharp u-turn, with WSk throwing his full support behind GC to stay on to the top post.

The turn of event took a lot of watchers by surprise, sending them to almost fall off in balance.

WSK strategised to back up GC showed that he was working towards gaining an upper hand in the power race.

WSK's move was highly strategic and the watchers described it as intelligent politically.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

SUPP On The Sedition Issue

In the midst of the heightened controversy over the seditious statement made by AI, Gerakan and MCA have drawn a clear line with UMNO on this issue, making it succinctly clear that the racial issue is beyond their tolerance limit. They voiced out their discontent to the extent of saying that they might moot to pull out from BN in their loudest ever protest.

SUPP, another Chinese-majority party with a base in Sarawak, has been mute other than the showy rejection of the racist stand. In other words, SUPP has not laid down the card to give UMNO a mounting pressure.

SUPP is very much under the restraint of the State BN, meaning it has to move in tandem with the other component parties. A ultimatum call on BN is certainly not in the interest of the State BN. As such, SUPP has to tone down its stand on Ahmad Ismail's seditious statement.

To certain extent, SUPP has not much muscle to flex on this heated issue!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

BN In A Shaky State

The Malaysian political arena is now really in a very unsettled state. This calls for an immediate concern.

Bukit Bendera UMNO chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail referring Chinese to as squatters in this nation had blown up waves of loud protests against his seditious statement.

The heated issue blasted off to sky-high partly because AAB acted too slow and far too soft. In other words, AAB's flip-flop style had resulted in this hot issue getting out of hands.

Sure enough, Ahmad Ismail is not standing alone - he has a high-powered pat on the back. The force behind AI is not immediately known and the market is flooded with speculations.

AI, being just a UMNO division chief, is considered daring enough to openly confront PM. Probably like what I said, he has blessings to arm-wrestle with the helm of the party.

There may be a hidden agenda working towards destabilising Pak Lah.

Now is really a testing time for Pak Lah with 916 power-seizure looming large and BN in a shaky position.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sept. 16 - A Mass Cross-over!

DSAI is presently just short of 30 MPs for PR to legimately form a government. Enticing a mass cross-over from BN into joining PR is obviously the easiest way out.

Such defection moves would inevitably give rise to questions of whether they are acting within the spirit of democracy since the defected MPs had been voted in under the banners of their respective parties by the electorate.

It is a contentious issue. However, our immediate concern is not on this point. What boggles the mind is how stable would the new government be!

I am not here to cast doubt on DSAI's leadership capability. Anwar is certainly charismatic as a political leader and he has a sound track record in the government of DM before he was removed in 1998.

Say, with a defection of 30 MPs, the required margin for PR to take over the helm of the state, would the new government with a weak majority be stable?

If the 30 MPs are enticed to cross over, then subsequently BN may resort to the same tactics to buy some back to unsettle the government of DSAI. Then, our government may end up to be quite wobbly, sure enough, then, Malaysia may be at risk of driving away even more investors.

Best, of course, if the defected MPs are deeply committed to PR to push for reforms to make Malaysia an even better nation. That would surely be the wish of all right-thinking Malaysians.

Let's see what is going to unfold!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sept. 16 - Anwar Keeping The Card High Up His Sleeve

We are now on a countdown to Sept. 16, the Doomsday Anwar claimed he would mount a takeover of the helm of the state. To a lot of Malaysians - Nothing is impossible. To DSAI-Impossible is nothing!

Right from the start, PR has been playing an offensive role, whilst BN has been on the defence. In terms of strategy, PR seems to be on the upper hand.

If the alleged sodomy charge was a manoeuvre to play DSAI up, then it has been proven to be quite futile up to now. Anwar not onlt fought back with heavy punches, he even exposed some dirty linen of the administration. The case is not likely to upset Anwar's plan.

The planned mass exodus of the back-benchers to a study tour is another show of untactical defence move. It is a manifestation of no- confidence with their own people.

The run-up to 916 is truly a nerve-racking waiting time.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sept. 16 - Driving Malaysians To Absolute Frenzy

916 is the anniversary date of the formation of Malaysia when Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah came together under the auspices of the late TAR to give birth to a new nation in 1963.

Soon after the political tsunami on March 8 this year, in the wake of the astounding victory by PR in the 12th GE which for the first time since independence, denied the two -third majority of the ruling front in the parliament, DSAI planned a seizure of power on Sept. 16 by adding to his ranks just 30 more MPs for his government to be formed.

Since then, rumourmongering has been floating everywhere, entangling the whole nation with uncertainty. But , nonetheless, it also gives out a ray of hope to the rakyat who opt for a change.

With DSAI's landslide winning on August 26, speculations of taking over the power gathered momentum by leaps and bounds. And with 916 drawing near, the whole political atmisphere is getting tight and tense, stirring the pulses of the rakyat and keeping everybody on wild guessing.

916 is certainly the talk of the town now. But, would Anwar deliver?

DSAI seems confident, repeating today that his grand plan is on the track.

The whole PR keeps tight-lipped over the power seizure. BN, on the other hand, appears to be tense and excited.

It still remains a waiting political game!

The local Chinese dailies are flush with the news on 916-related developments.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Economist - A Good Coverage On Malaysia

The latest issue of The Economist (August 30th - September 5th) carries a good article titled "Sodomy and the backlash" on the contemporary political issues in Malaysia involving both BN and PR.

I may not always concur with the foreign journalists' views on our home affairs. But many a time, they present a balanced and independent analyses on our internal affairs which are of value to us.

During DM's era, I had had numerous unpleasant experiences of receiving my personal copies of The Economist late, sometimes by as long as one month. Out of frustration, I called up the agent in KL to make enquiries, and the standard reply would always be: The batch is still being held by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

On a few occasions, the copies of The Economist that I received late were censored with black marker pen on the so called sensitive paragraphs, rendering the magazine less readable.

Pak Lah is more liberal in this sense. Ever since he took over the helm of the state, I have not had the above bothersome interruption in delivery of The Economist.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ramadhan Buffet Dinner - It Is A Growing Trend!

Berbuka puasa, literally meaning breaking fast in English, is a fast-breaking dinner at sunset during Ramadhan for Muslims.

There is a growing trend for Muslims to break their fast in a more elaborate way in cosy environment. Sibu is not left behind.

Catching up the trend, of course, are the srar-rated posh hotels coming up with Ramadhan buffet dinner specially prepared to hop on the season.

In Sibu, a few classic hotels are following the latest trends, a notable one of which is Premier Hotel (www.premierh.con.my ).

Premier Hotel showcases a magnificent pot-pourri of lavish spread of Malay and local delicacies for the food lovers. Ideal for Muslim families breaking fast together, it also provides an excellent venue for corporations to treat their staff to a dinner.

Berbuka puasa has fast been turned into a brisk business for eateries in Sibu.

See you there!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ramadhan - The Bustling Ramadhan Bazaar

Ramadhan is a Muslim religious observance that takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is the Islamic month of fasting in which participating Muslims do not eat or drink anything from dawn until sunset.

Fasting is meant to teach a person patience and humility.

This year, Ramadhan started on Sept.1. As usual, this religious occasion gives the hoteliers a quieter short while when the Muslim travellers hold back their travelling schedules.

But Ramadhan is promising for Sibu as a whole. As a start, SMC came in with a much-awaited Ramadham Bazaar for the convenience of the Muslim community. This bazaar is essentially a food-fair where an array of Malay specialties are available for sale. It really provides an excellent opportunity for you to sample ethnic foods of Malay origin. Don't miss it if you happen to be in Sibu during Ramadhan.

A brainchild of SMC, it keeps the bazaar going every year, adding yet another attraction in Sibu.

The idea of setting up Ramadhan Bazaar is to enable Muslims to come for some quick picks of snacks for berbuka puasa (breaking fast). But it has now evolved into an all-Sibuians fair, attracting all races and making it a bustling scene in Ramadhan.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Malaysian Budget 2009 - Is Our Government Splashing Out?

This budget is certainly a record - it is historic in terms of size of spending and it has dwarfed all the past ten years' deficits. Wow! It is going to get into our history with a few firsts!

Someone asked me: Is the government of Pak Lah splashing out? It is far-fetched to say so. But Pak Lah is indeed generous this time in giving away.

Claimed to be a one-off spending with a noble intention to prop up the slow-moving economy, it leaves much to wonder how beneficial it is to the economy as a whole.

Glacing through, it is noted that the biggest beneficiaries of the expanded spending are the civil servants, Sabah and Sarawak. The budget is quite mute on our rising producers' costs and the direction fronting the nation economically.

Spurring on the consumer market certainly helps to stabilise our GDP in the wake of the global slow-down, but what is more pertinent is to alleviate the rising producers' costs. Our inflation is really cost-driven, not demand-pulled.

The direction of our economy is quite blurry. The new budget scantly sheds light on this subject. I have the impression that we are on a piecemeal approach.

As a whole, I am more inclined to be impressed that it is a politically motivated budget.

The Star has an impressive coverage on the budget.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Malaysian Budget 2009 - Ringgit Now Under Pressure

The much larger than expected fiscal deficit at 4.8% has great potential to build up pressure on our currency-ringgit.

With the expected higher borrowing needs by the Federal Government and the unexpected inflation as a result of higher spending, in short to medium term, ringgit may turn soft against greenback.

The likely bearish outlook for our currency may not be good for fixed income holdings of foreign residents. As such, the foreign funds may be diverted from Malaysia. Inevitably, they could put more pressure on ringgit.

But what has a weaker ringgit got to do with the folks?

With the U.S. dollar projected on the likely uptrend and ringgit under bashing, it spells bad for our cost of living. A falling ringgit has the effect of jacking up our inflation, making our livelihood even harder.

It is almost for sure that the worsened fiscal posirion is going to constrain our currency.

Let's stay tuned in to ringgit's trend!