Friday, October 31, 2008

Public Forum On Outlooks For Sibu - Part 5

Tan Kee Hian called Sibu a slumberung giant. This gives a glimpse of hope - Sibu, after all, is not that dead hopeless!

In 1960s China was branded as a sleeping lion by U.S. Uncle Sam then cautioned against the wake -up of this Middle Kingdom and geared its foreign policies guardung against the rise of China in power. Today China is in a position to balance the world power.

Kee Hian then charted a few potentially viable areas that Sibu can venture into.

1. Tourism

(I agree with Tan Kee Hian. This aspect of potential has been very much untapped. We
have had a lot of lip-service thus far, but there is little concrete progress. Sibu is good only
as a stop-over town now for European tourists.)

2. Education

Invest in education to churn out skilled human resources, especially on vocational/technical
aspects. Sibu needs the drive of this group of human resources in the impending
challenging era.

Having a university in Sibu is a prestige, but there is insufficient market for it.

3. Centre of excellence for services

Sibu has potential to venture into knowledge-based industry.

4. Industralised and scientific agriculture

Agriculture is our hope since Sibu has vast land resources. But smallholders wouldn't help
- go for industralised and scientific agriculture.

5. Value-added downstream industries

Develop value-added downstream industries for exports to generate more revenue. Tan
Kee Hian quoted a few thought-provoking cases in Thailand.

To sum up, knowledge, services and value-added downstream industries have potential to be the core of Sibu's economy in time to come.
The king of fruits - durians. The durian season is on now in Sibu. The photo is by courtesy of Liong.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Public Forum On Outlooks For Sibu - Part 4

Undoubtedly, confronting Sibu is a challenging era. Just look at the ageing population and you would concur that what lies in front is a really taxing time.

Although Tan Kee Hian has been away for a lengthy period of time, his sentimental ties to the hometown are intact. As such, he has never stayed out of touch with Sibu.

Through his personal observations, Kee Hian noted a few salient features of Sibu.

1. Sibu is very much like a slumbering giant. This sounded pretty critical, but it served perfectly well as a wake-up
call to all Sibuians. We really have to wake up to it!

2. Sibu is caught in a vicious downward spiral. Simply put, Sibu is on a continuous downtrend. This is quite
shocking, but, nonetheless, it is a hard fact.

One contributing factor is the serious exodus of people and businesses which together make Sibu much less
promising. As a result, the core competency of Sibu is losing value.

3. Sibu is also caught dwelling on excessive focus on hardware. The software aspect has been prioritised low. To put
simply, sustance has been neglected and there is overly attention on form (style).

The point being hit at is that the non-productive investments in Sibu outshine those of productive nature.

Economically speaking, non-productive investments have little value in terms of returns.

4. In theory, public investments generate private investments. However, in Sibu, the public investments have
not been an effective catalyst. This, in part, is due to the lethargic recovery of private investments.

The picture shows the mighty Rajang River. The photo is by courtesy of Steve Ling.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Public Forum On Outlooks For Sibu - Part 3

The picture shows a section of the audience. Photo: Terrence Tan of MPI

When touching on his planning for retirement as a side note pertinent to the theme of the evening, Tan Kee Hian said Sibu flashed over his mind as an obvious choice. The speaker seemingly was not cracking a light joke to amuse the audience - in act, he succinctly said it all out about Sibu's predicament. Sibu - a retirement town. Well said!

Kee hian then posed to the audience: What does Sibu stand for? This was pretty down-to-earth, but it made everybody scratch his head. Simply put, the speaker called on the audience to identify the strengths of Sibu.

Yes, to critically look at Sibu, we have to know precisely what we have to offer. In other words, don't dwell on and indulge in "sexy" ideas, as Kee Hian pointed out later.

Before coming to Sibu's potentials, the speaker opened the session to the floor to feedback with the challenges facing Sibu.

1. Uncertain employment prospects.

(I agree - uncertainty is the killer.)

2. The previous growth areas have now entered "sunset" industry style.

(One notable industry is timber.)

3. How to achieve sustainable growth in tourism?

4. Sibu has geophysical constraints.

5. The worsening brain drain.

Sibu is really caught in this sort of developmental predicament which drains younger groups away. This is the gist of Sibu dilemma!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Public Forum On Outlooks For Sibu - Part 2

Mr. Tan Kee Hian sharing on his global journey. Photo : Terrence Tan of MPI

Tan Kee Hian kicked the evening off with a brief run-down on his academic pursuits and global journey which are impressive and extensive.

Kee Hian's resume would easily take any aspirants to great admiration. Winning a Shell Scholarship to Imperial College, UK would raise the eyebrows of a lot of people undoubtedly. Getting into the prestigious Harvard School of Business for MBA has long been the dream of a lot of business students or executives. And Kee Hian did it all with flying colours!

The speaker sought to address the audience that breakthroughs in pursuits are not impossible so long as you are committed to unlock your mindset. In a wider perspective, this criterion applies equally to Sibu, a place which is buzzing with frustration now.

In his extensive global journey, Kee Hian has wonderful exposures which have earned him valuable personal treasures. He shared the lessons learned which are thought-provoking.

1. Hold on to our basic values (for example, trustworthiness).

(I fully agree with Mr. Tan on this human value point.)

2. Accept some handicaps or a reality that there is no level playing field, if you come from Sibu.

(A good point - we have to be realistic.)

3. Simply go forth - "The world is your oyster."

(Be more globalised in outlook!)

4. Be inspired - Trust your instinct and judgement.

5. There is absolutely no substitute for diligence and perspiration.

These 5 pillars have taken Kee Hian to greater height in his personal pursuits and earned him rich returns. He challenged Sibuians to tread along the line to lift up Sibu.

The picture shows The Rejang Esplanade, Sibu.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Public Forum On Outlooks For Sibu - Part 1

Mr. Tan Kee Hian speaking at the forum. Picture: Terrence Tan of MPI.
MPI organised a meaningful public forum on Oct. 25 at 7:15 pm in its Lecture Hall 1. The guest speaker for the evening was Mr. Tan Kee Hian, a widely acclaimed specialist in strategy and innovation.

Through the initiation of Mr. Daniel Ngien, the Deputy Chairman of SMC, Mr. Tan, an authentic Sibu guy, generously consented to shed some light on the outlooks for Sibu from his very personal and professional global exposure.

Kee Hian's impressive profile, the very profoundly relevant topic and my sheer concern for Sibu took me in a flash of a few seconds to make up my mind to go for it.

Tan is a no nonsense Sibuian. He has thirty years behind him in advising corporations and governments globally on strategy and innovation developments. Simply put, Kee Hian is no small player in its strictest sense.

You may ask: Is his expertise in global arena relevant to Sibu? Broadly speaking, yes.

Seriously, a two-hour forum was too swift for Kee Hian to focus on anything specifically. I sat through the session with my eyes glued to the speaker. What kee Hian propounded generally was a conceptual framework on outlook for Sibu, serving to provoke deep thinking of the dear Sibuians.

Yes, thinking - this is precisely what the people in Sibu have to invest in to help themselves out. You have got to have mindset change fundamentally in order for Sibu to spur on growth and breakthrough, Kee Hian posed a challenge to Sibuians.

Throughout the forum in his eloquent address with humours, Tan Kee Hian expertly linked his global experiences to the theme. Geographically, cities quoted by Kee Hian may not be comparable. But conceptually in terms of strategy and innovation, the cases are undoubtedly good to spur on thinking.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Economist - Timely Coverage On The World Economy

The Economist is perhaps one of the best periodicals I have ever come across. Its in-depth, balanced and independent views are an invaluable source of reference on economic issues of world concern.
When the whole world is still in cold chill over the recent financial meltdown, The Economist timely came out with a comprehensive report on the world economy.
The report touches on the re-regulation of the world finance, the real lessons from volatile commodity prices, the cause of today's mess, the role of emerging economies in changing the shape of global finance and the shift of the world balance.
The above issues are pertinent to all of us. What we are experiencing would definitely go into history to be remembered as a turning point in the world economy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Global Financial Crisis - What Has Gone Wrong?

Following the outbreak of the global financial crisis, the worst since the great depression in 1930s, capitalism has been under attack.

What is capitalism? It is simply a system that embodies economic liberty. This system has proved its worth for billions of people over the past century and a half. Look at China, it adopted market capitalism to transform the nation into a rising emerging market within quite a short span of time. And, of course, there are numerous other new emerging markets that benefited from the system.

Capitalism has always engendered crises, and always will. It is certainly not perfect. For all its flaws, it is the best economic system man has invented yet.

What has to be held in check is the way we manage capitalism. If we let the system go unregulated like what had taken place in USA and some other industralised nations, then crises of equal or even more serious magnitude would be bound to happen over and over again. Malaysia is of no exception!

Let's not blame the market capitalism. Rather, we have to keep the people in check.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

5 Billion Rescue Package - Is It A Market Stimulus Or Bailout Of Certain Entangled Parties?

Our DPM Dato' Seri Najib Abdul Razak announced a long-awaited market rescue package in the wake of the outbreak of global financial crisis.
When the veil was lifted, the market was taken aback as the package was clad over by Valuecap, thus making the injection of funds so very vague. The whole market couldn't help growing sceptical about the so-called stimulus.
The stimulus provided no boost at all to Bursa. Today it turned red and went down together with the Asian region.
Perhaps the package should be made more transparent to shore up the market confidence.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tan Kee Hian - "Outlooks For Sibu From My Global Journey Of Discovery"

Methodist Pilley Institute is coming up with a public forum titled "Outlooks For Sibu From My
Global Journey Of Discovery" to be delivered by Tan Kee Hian on October 25 at 7:15pm in MPI's Lecture Hall 1.
The forum is well-intended and certainly relevant to Sibuians since it focuses on the prospects of Sibu and what the future in Sibu holds for the folks here.
Sibuians are all concerned with the ageing population here. Of even greater concern to the locals is the persistent under-development which has now become a political issue.
Lately, the burning issues of net migration-out and brain drain again were hotly debated. But we were like driving in a fog and nothing concrete came out from the public outcry. It is little wonder that Sibuians are getting frustrated and starting to get sceptical about the much-talked aspirations of the leaders.
It is admist this state of directionlessness that MPI timely comes in with a forum to provide a framework of conceptual outlooks for Sibu.
The speaker of the forum is Mr. Tan Kee Hian who is a Strategy and Innovation Specialist. An authentic Sibuian, Mr. Tan is more than aptly qualified and experienced to speak on the subject.
Admission to the forum is strictly by invitation. If you are concerned about Sibu and keen on the subject, you may enrol by faxing to MPI at 084-320801 or call Mr. Hii King Kai/Ms Tang Ing Sia at 084-322268 for further information.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Community Fighter - Hii Tiong Huat Takes The Authorities To Task

On the hot, hot traffic sign issue, Tiong Huat may have infringed the letter of the local regulations, but he did it in all conscience for the benefits of the public at large. I understand that the authority is still at a discussion stage to take Tiong Huat to face a litigation charge. There was a call from the public to the authority to mitigate the case within the spirit of the regulation.

Hii Tiong Huat is perhaps one of the most selfless persons I have ever come across. When folks jeer at him, saying he is "one of a kind", I call him a community fighter.

Tiong Huat is generous in his civic spirits. Selflessly he takes the authorities to task on burning issues relevant to all Sibuians.

He is very much a lone ranger. Last week when half of Sibu town was submerged in water after a torrential downpour, he set out to the flooded areas to gain first-hand information.

Tiong Huat stands to face litigation charge or police arrest when he takes to streets issues of concern to the folks. He says this is his fighting spirit and he will not retreat.

Sibuians owe Tiong Huat a salute!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Gold As An Investment Now!

Gold is now an alluring investment for reasons that the global financial market is gloomy and uncertain, and the greenback has tendency to go weak.

Sitting on the brink of a collapse of the world banking system, we really have very few choices to move on investments in order to lower risks and avoid losses.

Historically, gold has always served as a safe haven in any financial storm. Since the US dollar is losing shine due to the bleak outlook of US's economy, gold is fast taking over as an investment choice.

As US may stagger into a recession in 2009, the Fed is poised to cut rate further to boost the economy. A potentially loose monetary policy does not bode well for the dollar. Simply put, the greenback may head downwards in 2009.

Gold and greenback are relative to each other, meaning they move in reverse order. If the dollar appreciates, gold will come down in price and vice versa.

A potentially weak dollar, therefore, makes gold glitter even more.

Some of our local banks offer gold account service. You may add gold to your portfolio and track the gold price.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Australian Dollar - It Glides All The Way Down!

AUD has been a darling currency for Malaysians for straightforward reasons that it offers a high yield and Australia has traditionally been a migration and education paradise for a lot of our fellow Malaysians.

In the past six years, the currency benefited from the rise of China which boosted the demand for commodities. Australia has been a prime exporter of commodities and its growth during the period accelerated as a result of the rising emerging markets. AUD strengthened in tandem with the glittering rconomy.

Being a high-yielding currency, AUD has been a popular target of Yen carry traders. These traders take advantage of the yield differentials between Yen and AUD. In the present crisis, AUD is the worst-affected currency as the carry traders turned risk-averse.

Looking ahead in the wake of the turmoil, the world is set to stagger down the road into a recession. As a commodity exporter, this bodes ill for Australia as the world demand turns soft.

AUD's high yield is going to subject the currency to more vulnerable downtrend. On the other hand, low-yielding currency like USD is relatively less in downside risk.

The logic of it is that in the event of recession, Australia has plenty of room to loosen its monetary policy which would be at the expense of AUD's exchange rate in relation to other currencies.

AUD's outlook is therefore gloomy. The present retracement has hardly bottomed out.

The picture shows Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Demolition of Swiftlet Farmhouses - The Stand-off Continues

The swiftlet farmhouse owners formed a human barricade to stop the enforcement officers of the Forestry Department to move further in their demolition exercise.

The stand-off turned ugly and if it goes on unchecked, the issue might get out of hand easily.

The authority concerned should have long ago come in with a comprehensive regulatory framework to provide a check on this economically viable industry.

Regulate this industry brfore it becomes a liability to the community!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Press Release

The Borneo Post - Thank you, Philip Wong, for your witty question-and-answer time.
Eastern Times - Roger, thank you for your efforts to come.
Sin Chew Daily - Thank you for staying close to the community.
See Hua Daily News - You gave me an outstanding coverage! Thank you so much!
A stereotyped press release session is sometimes a bit boring. I have to liven it up with sime side talks to turn it into a more fun-filled time.

At the photoshooting session, Philip enlightened me with an idea of a wider spectrum of publicity for the lounge artistes to make it inclusive of both reporters and bloggers. According to Philip, this has become a fashionable trend in West Malaysia. The idea sounded great and I am all for it!

Certainly this sort of session would be best to be had at night when the artistes are in full costumes.

At the press conference yesterday morning, I raised up to the reporters about having a press release at night. This is a complete breakaway from the present established style of holding it during daytime. The reporters seemed to be receptive to the idea and said it could be given a try.

Anyway, I have to give it some further deliberation. In the meantime, my appreciation goes to The Borneo Post, Eastern Times, Sin Chew Daily, See Hua Daily News and United Daily for their valuable coverage.

A big cheer to the local press!

United Daily - You are as obliging as ever!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Demolition Of Swiftlet Farmhouses - Are We Killing Off An Industry At Its Infancy?

Swiftlet ranching is mushrooming all over Sarawak. In Sibu, swiftlet farmhouses have popped up here and there. In time to come, this may become a notable feature locally.

Swiftlet ranching has immense economic value. I understand that there is growing demand for birdnests from Hong Kong and China where prosperity have dramatically changed the pattern of life style. Luxurious foodstuffs like birdnests have tremendous markets not only externally but also domestically. This is the present growing trend.

Broadly speaking, swiftlet ranching is an agro-based industry. In time to come, with incentives and subsidisation, this industry has every potential to flourish into a viable economic activity. As such, the state government has obligation to step in to boost the growth of it.

But the incident two days ago in Mukah dismayed the operators of swiftlet ranching. According to the news, some officers from the Forestry Department, armed with sprays and equipment, demolished the swiftlet farmhouses.

Sarawak Swiftlets Ranching Merchant Association reacted fast with a strong protest, calling the move as shocking and a "daylight robbery".

The demolition exercise was tantamount to killing off an upcoming industry at its infancy. A more pro-active move would be to license the operators with regulations.

Let's get down to serious regulatory exercise to bring up this trade!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hit Mix Band

Lounge has never stayed out of fashion in Sibu entertainment circle. The tradition still holds out well with a professional live band to give pulsating hits and lovely oldies where night life goers unwind over chilled drinks.

Bamboo House is a long-established outlet in Sibu. Way back in 70s, it had already built up its name as a popular hangout. Thirty years down the road, it has never deviated from its principle of providing a decent night life.

Yesterday, we ushered in a new resident band by the name of Hit Mix Band. It is a promising four-piece band which gets down to taking you through the night with their vibrant showmanship.

Besides being voluptuous, Hit Mix Band is versatile to its plus. Rolly, Jhuan, amanda and Mary vow to blast off to keep their audience enthralled.

Come and let your hair down over your favourite orders. Join the band members in their nightly fabulous shows.

Again, Need Lee and Philip ( ) teamed up to photoshoot Hit Mix Band this evening. It was such a fun time snapping for the new comers.

The band members posed to let me take a snapshot.

Need Lee and Philip were caught in action.
Philip's usual style of sharing the snapshots with the artistes.
A gtoup photo after the session: (L to R) Rolly, Jhuan, Amanda, Need Lee, Mary and Philip

Monday, October 13, 2008

G7 - A Booster, But Is It Enough?

G7 met over the weekend in Washington to crack the worst situation since 1930s.

This week's focus is very much on the outcome of G7 meeting as the market participants wait in anticipation of a clearer guidance from the world leaders.

G7 is essentially a rich men's club which gathers regularly to deal with world economic issues.

Most of the time when the order is in place, G7's meet is just a shoulder-rubbing session in a posh hotel over lavish foods and drinks. But during the traumatic times like what we are going through now, G7 acts are really a dose of confidence to tackle the credit crisis that is spreading over to all parts of the world.

G7 vowed to take urgent and exceptional action to unfreeze credit and money markets. In the present credit crunch, this sounds assuring.

But could the world leaders stabilize the markets after a historical week when the stock markets behaved like a roller-coaster?

Alas, the moves may slow down initially with the downtrend to dip some more. The broader picture may be something of a larger degree than some people think.

In the forex market, we may anticipate more choppy times ahead as the credit crisis spreads further to other parts of the global economy.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

CAD - Once Glittering, Now Taking A Back Seat

Canadian dollar is one of my favourite currencies for a very simple reason that Canada is rich in resources. Its oil, uranium etc have added glitter to CAD.

One notable characteristic of CAD is that it moves pretty well in tandem with the international oil price.

Over the past few years when the oil price sutged to sky-high, CAD crept up against USD, making it a shining star. But it was quite low-keyed. As such, it easily slipped the attention of non-players. Canada's bountiful uranium reserves have added value to CAD, giving the currency a strong fundamental.

But, in the wake of the outbreak of the global financial crisis and the dwindling of the oil price, CAD has been losing glitter. I have been tracking Canadian dollar's trend and it seems to me that there is still considerable downside risk.

Fundamentally, CAD has a lot of potentials. This oil-dollar is a buy for long-term holding. If you are a CAD watcher, don't be in the doldrums. The currency would spring one day.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

World On The Edge

The latest two issues of The Economist which I just received carry themes which are nerve-racking. I have no time yet to go through but my imaginations have started to run wild.

Seriously, the world financial market is now in such a critical condition that no body can be spared. In one way or another, we are all entangled in it.

Are we now on the edge? It may sound mind-boggling, but this is what is right in front of us. U.S. now badly needs liquidity and Paulson is asking for more of it. Cash-rich China has offered to lend a helping hand, but the Meddle Kingdom is equally vulnerable to a crisis.

I hope the meeting of IMF and World Bank on this weekend may shed some light on the turmoil.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Race Is On In UMNO

The shot was finally fired and the race is now on. Pak Lah decided to call it a day earlier as predicted. His initial plan was not what it turned out to be. The power transition plan (to stay on till 2010) could be just his own whim which failed to work to his wish. UMNO's internal squabbles had pressurised PM to hand over to his successor to save him of an embarrassment ( for example, like not having enough nominations to defend his president post).

As I said earlier, the postponement of UMNO's AGM had in actual fact ushered in an era of Najib. Now with the official trumpet blown, a stage has been set for Najib to walk up to announce his run.

If the music is played according to the tune, then Najib is almost positive to be the next PM.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (or Ku Li as more popularly called) may blow up ripples by joining in the race for the top post, but, alas, he is very much just an old hat and he lacks all the charisma to face up to Najib's punches.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

AUD Has Downside Risks

The global liquidity crunch prompted the central banks to mount a flurry of interest-rate cuts to help arrest a slump in equities globally.

FED, EcB and BOE together with China and Hong Kong in a coordinated effort jointly announced rate cuts to save the world of a further meltdown in equity markets and economic growth.

The loosening of the monetary policies was a dose of confidence and it instantly stabilised the downtrends. But, alas, it is going to be very short-lived.

The rate cuts also revived the rate appetite of the Yen carry traders. As such, the strong Yen turned slightly soft against USD for the first time this month. AUD, a currency popularly pairing up with Yen in global carry trades also rebounded against USD.

But AUD continues to have a bearish outlook with a potential downside risk against USD.

If you are keen in AUD, you may keep tracking it.

Artist Lautra Gilbert printed "The Zero Dollar" as a protest against the breakdown of the American economy. She distributed 10,000 of the fake greenbacks in front of New York Stock Exchange on Oct. 7 to call attention to the economic crisis gripping the nation.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Currency Carry Traders - They Triggered Off A Crazy Drop in AUD

Currency carry trade is a strategy in which an investor sells a certain currency with a relatively low interest rate and uses the funds to purchase a different currency yielding a higher interest rate.

A trader using this strategy attempts to capture the difference between the rates which can often be substantial depending on the amount of leverage the investor chooses to use.

A typical carry trade involves Yen and AUD/USD/NZD. It is a lucrative deal to borrow at low cost (in this case, Yen, at 0.5%) and use the funds to hold AUD yielding a return of 7%. This is before taking account of a good capital gain through currency appreciation.

Yen carry trades had been rampant globally in the past 5 years and that squarely explained why Yen had been notoriously undervalued against all major currencies. On the other hand, AUD benefited from carry trades and had been surging handsomely in the past few years.

A reversal trend emerged when the financial crisis broke out in U.S. which signalled that the global trend is heading down. This triggered off a sale on all major currencies by speculative funds which were the chief currency carry traders. The worst affected of all are AUD and NZD.

In a matter of less than 2 months, AUD shedded 25% from RM3.3 to RM2.5. The drop is massive and the jitters are now everywhere.

This round of slump in AUD witnessed straight breaks of resistance points which were dramatic. It struck me whenever my expected resistance was broken through.

Nonergeless, the frenzied softening of AUD has given rise to a golden opportunity to invest.

As I said sometime ago, hold on to cash as it is now the king. Don't let the crisis slip by - make sure you grab it

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Back To Sibu - A Big Cheer To Steve Ling

It was our regular weekly tea session at Meng Lei's ( ) office, but it turned out to be a de facto welcome tea party for Steve Ling ( ) who has just returned to Sibu for good.
Yes, welcome in its truest sense. Steve had been a veteran journalist with See Hua Daily News loyally for several years. In a restructuring exercise a few years back, he was posted to Kuching.
A truly Sibuian with strong sentimental attachments to Rajang Basin, Steve decided to call it a day after years of acting like a lone ranger in Kuching. Last week, he packed up and headed homewards.
Steve is a senior journalist with extensive exposure and a penchant for photography which he excels. I just learned that he is taking up a new assignment in United Daily, a post that will continue to keep him active in journalism.
Steve takes fascinating photos. Pictures speak louder than words - just go to visit his blog to see for yourself. By the way, he is also a popular blogger with lots of engrossing pictures.
It was a nice time chatting together over issues ranging from the global financial crisis to the rampant land scams in Malaysia.
Liong ( ) volunteered to snap for the group. A big thumb up to him.
The picture shows the group giving a loud cheer to Steve (3rd from right).

Monday, October 6, 2008

Lim Guan Eng and Others - Flying In With An Air of Change!

The weekend on October 4-5 was quite eventful for Sibu, though the functions were completely blacked out by the local English dailies. In sharp contrast was the local Chinese dailies which took up to extensively and prominently cover the DAP's events.

DAP's heavyweight leaders from West Malaysia flew in to partake of DAP Sarawak's 30th anniversary celebration dinner at Sibu Trade & Exhibition Centre on Oct. 4. A total of 220 tables were sold out, making the grand evening a glittering occasion. I learned from See Hua Daily News that Lim Guan Eng, Dato' Ngeia Koo Ham and the others delivered high-powered speeches during the evening function. Besides touching on some heated issues, they also dwelt on their experiences of governing the five PR-states. Some participants told me it was a refreshing evening.

On the following day, there was a New Land Policy Forum organised by DAP Sibu in response to the latest spiky land renewal fees. The thorny issue casts a chill over agricultural land owners who are required to fork out sizable sums to renew their soon-to-expire agricultural land. This issue looks like pretty sticky and I don't expect it to be resolved with ease.

The English readers in Sarawak have been deprived of an opportunity to have access to the news which is of equal concern and importance to them as to the Chinese readers.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Coxsackie - Make Crucial Information Available!

This is really an age of explosive information.

All Malaysians have constitutional rights to have access to crucial information such as those relating to the outbreak of coxsackie disease in Sibu. The earlier the public at large is informed of the dreaded attack, the better it is since sufficient precautionary can be taken in time to safeguard the children against the fearful disease.

It is outrageous to say that such nature of public information might stir up public fear and unrest! This sort of mentality does not fit in well with the present era.

I recall in the previous outbreak in 1997, The Star stationed a full-time reporter in Sibu for a period of two weeks to extensively cover the news for the benefit of the whole nation. She was put up in Premier Hotel and I had had wonderful opportunities to catch up with her on her assignments here. She grumbled a few times about blacking out of news which only made her reporting duties so very frustrating.

Sibuians deserve to be well informed of the latest outbreak!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Coxsackie - Coming Back Here In Sibu After 11 Years!

I read with deep concern about a much feared outbreak of the scary Coxsackie disease in Eastern Times.

According to the news, the suspected E71 has thus far claimed one life - a boy aged four years died at the sibu General Hospital last Tuesday, apparently a victim of the dreaded coxsackie disease. The true cause is still held in suspense pending further detailed analysis.

Even before the medical report is out, political parties are already at work, slurring at each other and trying to capitalise on this outbreak.

Their intent is noble and meant good for Sibu. Sibuians deserve to have full access to the information relating to the outbreak of the fearful disease.

This reminds me of the furious spread of Coxsackie disease way back in March, 1997 which was perhaps one of the most nightmarish periods I had ever gone through. During that time, Sidney, Allen and Pauline were still within the vulnerable age range. Practically Yian and I had to tread along the nerve-racking days with excessive mental strain. We could easily wake up several times in a night to pop over to check on the kids' body temperature. The coxsackie outbreak really kept us in suspense for a whole of two months.

Even worse was the near black-out of news during the onslaught by the disease. Practically all releases had to be filtered by MOH.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Agricultural Land Lease Renewal Fees - It Is A Non-Issue!

The exorbitant fees on agricultural land lease renewal blew up into a hot issue recently, drawing SUPP, DAP and UCA Sibu into the picture. All the concerned parties have their respective interests to pursue, with a common objective to assist the disgruntled land owners.

The agricultural land lease renewal fees at RM200 per acre are positively cheap.

So the affected land owners better pay up the fees at RM10,000 per acre before the due date. It is already a non-issue!

The fee issue has been politicised by certain unscrupulous parties.

Hey, you people out there, you better shut up!

The whole issue is as a result of some gross misunderstanding of the new scheme.

So just organise a briefing session to put the issue to a stop.

Ha! How nice if things could be so simple!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Global Financial Crisis

The global watch is now all on the US$700 billion rescue package which the government of President Bush is working towards getting it passed in the House with top urgency to restore the confidence in the financial system.

Ultimately the House has to vote it through to salvage the States from a collapse.

Although the rescue package of 700 billion is far from sufficient, it is at least good enough to hold the market together, without which the system would melt down.

This gigantic sum is a strong dose of confidence to the global market. The Bush administration is going to put it to another vote today, hoping it would slip through. We just have to keep our fingers crossed.

Positively we are going through a hard time. The torn-apart global finance has made investors panicky, but nonetheless, it has also created excellent opportunities.

The global finance can be put together again. So don't be over-pessimistic. Don't let the global opportunities slip by, as one prominent entrepreneur in Sibu put it.

(A powerful Wall Street rally on Tuesday helped lift global markets a day after a near-meltdown as investor hopes grew on the prospects for a new U.S. financial rescue to erase the crisis.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hari Raya Aidilfitri 2008

Malaysia is submerged in a sea of joyous Hari Raya Aidilfitri mood today. All races join hands together to usher in this great festival, casting aside the concern for the gloomy economic outlook for the time being.

As usual, we set out to pay visits to Muslim colleagues, friends and business associates. It was a wonderful time wishing them festive joy and chatting over current issues. Their views reflected the present political scenario in our nation.

I wish all Malaysians a happy Hari Raya break.