Thursday, January 31, 2008
At 290th km. of Kuching/Sarikei Road, we drove past the roadside signboard of Bukit Saban Resort. The shabby condition of it is so very sorrowful and heart-rending. The fate of the resort deserves a word of mention here.
Bukit Saban Resort started at the height of our government's efforts to promote ecotourism. At that time it radiated much enthusiasm for our inland tourism.
A familiarisation trip took me there when it was opened for business. I was deeply impressed by its concept - a perfect blend of culture, nature and modern comfort.
The lush Borneo rainforest and the culture of Ibans were combined to form an unforgetable setting for the resort. And the longhouse-style rooms gave me an excellent cultural touch.
But Bukit Saban Resort failed to stand up to the test of harsh reality of business. It went bankrupt and eventually was closed down. Now it has been converted to a National Service camp.
When the signboard went out of my sight, I couldn't help lamenting the downfall of an ideal resort for ecotourism.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
We crossed the mighty Rajang River by using Lanang Bridge. This toll-bridge was the centre of contention during the state elections in 2006. Together with land renewal and oil price, the toll erupted into a sticky election issue, resulting in SUPP being muddle-headed.
The toll for our van is RM5 which is pricey by local standard. But Lanang Bridge is applauded loud by passers-by since it has conveniently done away with the frustrating hour-long queuing up. To this group of users, the bridge is definitely a plus.
However, for the locals who have to commute to and fro Sibu daily, the toll system is financially burdensome, giving them added pressure. My rough calculation makes me feel for them.
Sarikei once again occupies the centre-stage in the run-up to the parliamentary elections. It has been a gruesome waiting for almost a year for a candidate to be nominated. You may call it a political labour pain for SUPP. But voters start to run out of patience to the extent that it might have adverse impact on voting results for SUPP.
We arrived Sarikei town centre at 7:15am and settled on Open-Air Market where variety was aplenty. We noted instantly that Sarikei's pricing is fast catching up that of Sibu. The fried kueh teow that I ordered was commentable in terms of taste, serving time and portioning. But it was too oily which gave a big minus to the otherwise delicious food.
We departed Sarikei at about 8:00am and proceeded straight to Kuching.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Going together were four colleagues of which one was our driver. We decided to drive for convenience purposes.
Travelling by land provided us with an excellent opportunity to sightsee the beauty of our interiors. It also opened my eyes to the traces of progress in the state.
With the much improved infrastructural facilities, land travelling has become more popular. And, with the air fares getting priceier, it is an incentive for travellers to go by land.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
As verified by historians, Chinese lantern was the earliest invented portable illumination instrument in the world. Therefore, lanterns signify light and hope in Chinese culture.
Ancient lanterns were folk craftwork. At present, great changes have taken place in the skills of making lanterns so that they work better in decoration.
In this modern age, lanterns are no longer used for lighting up. But their cultural values continue to be upheld. During festivals and on auspicious occasions, lanterns have a significant role to play in decoration.
Yesterday I spent a good one hour to put up new year decorations using lanterns at the entrance porch. The lighted lanterns are a constant reminder to me of the heritage of our culture.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
This global trend is inevitable as more Asian developing nations open up their economies for investments and developments, thereby speeding up the rate of growth.
In the process, the emerging markets with the advantage of low cost become the world's manufacturers, churning out cheap goods for the developed nations. This has the suppressive effect on the rich nations' inflation.
The tolerable inflation rate at about 2% has been criticised to be politically cooked to look comfortable. In the past years, this officially released low rate gave Federal Reserve a free hand to maintain loose mometary policy to prop up growth.
The ultraloose monetary policy generated huge cheap funds for the market, leading to property inflation in USA.
When the real estate bubble burst, the whole market is going to slump into a possible recession.
The present economic woes in the States are the outcome of lavish consumption, low savings and cheap credit. In the process, the wealth and influence have been shifted to China and some other emerging markets.
This is a global trend and it is an on-going process for many more years to come.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Themed "Equip for Mission", Pastor Ting called on MAF of The Masland Methodist Church to go out to preach as commanded by Christ Jesus in Matthew 28:19: Go forth therefore and make all nations my disciples.
But, first and foremost, equip yourself before you go on mission.
"Sharpen up in your personal salvation, mastery of God's words, humility, offerings and giving of your children to God for mission.
Clear and concise, Pastor Ting's message is both an encouragement and a challenge.
Take it to heart and reflect on it if you have yet to do so.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
New Year goodies are in plenty for shoppers in the market now. It is a lot of fun shopping for goodies. As I walk through the market, my childhood memories flow back. My mom used to take me along when she went for new year shopping. It was so very good time tagging after my mom on this sort of occasion.
Come to think of it, kids nowadays are much less excited about Chinese New Year. This has got to do with social change in well-being and cultural degeneration. The trend is worrisome and we really have to beef up instiling cultural values into the younger groups.
Let's work towards preserving the essence of the cultural values of Chinese New Year as we celebrate the occasion.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Taxi drivers play the role of ambassadors in tourism. As such, they are not to be belittled in tourism development in Sibu. I have always looked up to them as my hotel's important business partners.
Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh was the guest of honour for the gathering. In his speech, Datuk Seri Wong said," The world is presently going through a turbulent time economically. But I hope the tourism development in Sibu would bring prospects in time to come."
Our taxi drivers are wonderful singers. They went on stage to sing out their joy unreservedly, making the evening a lot more fun-filled.
The organisers also chipped in with lucky draws and award-giving to members' offspring who excelled in results of examinations.
For the good efforts that the taxi drivers put in throughout the year, they deserved a rewarding evening together.
The picture shows Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh giving away lucky draw prizes.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
My buddy Hock Lai came back from Solomon Islands for a new year reunion with his family. He looked cheerful as ever with contagious enthusiasm.
We met up at Cafe Palmelia (www.premierh.com.my ) and chatted over a glass of teh tarik.
Hock Lai shared with me his experiences in far-away paradise, on both traumatic and enriching sides. "I have had a rich exposure in Solomon and I thank God for that," Hock Lai beamed with thankfulness.
Praise lord for taking him through the ups and downs. Eventually at the end of the tunnel is the twilight which is most heartening.
Monday, January 21, 2008
But Bursa Malaysia also failed to withstand the external shock coming from USA. The stock run-down there sent jitters to our market, making players go on the rampage.
And since the run was election-driven with no clear fundamentals, the slide has been severe and shocking.
UMNO has given out directives to all its leaders to put on hold all overseas trips. This has been interpreted as a clear prelude to election.
Since the scene is getting clearer, the speculative drive based on election may have been exhausted.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Dwindling consumer confidence is the crux of it. With escalating food prices and wildly hot speculation on fuel price movements after the upcoming parliamentary election, it would be reasonable for the consumer sentiment to be depressed.
Yes, most of us are now going on negative growth in real income. It is a hard pinch and it impacts the festive shopping.
Yesterday I took time off with Yian to source for new kitchen cabinets. The old ones are too worn out for purposeful use.
We made a prudent survey and decided to settle on the offers by Lianshun Furniture.
The eloquent salesgirl was quick to pour out to us that the festive shopping is still in the doldrums - and her dismal voice said it all: it is going to be a slow-moving season.
Yian and I took a good while to clear off the old cabinets to pave way for the new arrival.
There are heaps of crockery stored up by my mom and Yian over the years. It took us hours of labour to wash them and stack them up in the new cabinets.
It was great fun working together for the betterment of of our family.
Friday, January 18, 2008
With the heavyweight figures coming on stage to give explosive testimonies, the inquiry is definitely going to draw the nation's attention in the course of hearing.
Lingam case is surely to stay on as a sizzling hot topic in kopitiam for a while.
Another case which deserves equal magnitude of concern of the whole nation is Adorna Properties Sdn Bhd v Boonson Boonyonit.
Adorna is a land scam case which leaves landowners in a quandary. The Federal Court's decision in the infamous landmark case has put all landowners at the mercy of land scams.
With the growing number of land scams and increased value of properties involved, serious measures, including protection by law, are urgently needed to overcome the problem.
The Adorna Properties Sdn Bhd's decision has wreaked havoc on all landowners and I hope it will be put right soon.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Ever since our CM crossed over to Mukah about 5 years back and has since been elected as its ADUN, Mukah has been rising fast. It is now glittering with prospects, giving a very optimistic outlook to the division.
Our CM has been renowned to possess a golden finger - he reputedly gave mighty touches to his constituencies to transform them miraculously.
When Taib made a dramatic switch to Mukah, overnight he turned it into a shining star, making land owners jump ceiling-high.
Another astute politician reputed to possess golden touch is Tan Sri Dr. George Chan. His low-keyed style quietly brought up Miri to overtake Sibu.
Sibu has to adopt a spirit of emulation more aggressively in the race in order to catch up!
Keropok undang Mukah - a speciality of Mukah.
Tebaloi - another well-known product of Mukah.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
From the day it was exposed to the public, there were countless calls on our government to set up a Royal Commission to enquire into the judicial case to ease off the grave concerns of the rakyat.
Our nation's judicial orderliness has to be well protected to uphold the good image of Malaysia.
Let's hope for the best outcome from the Royal Commission of Inquiry for the interests of Malaysia.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Police are on an extensive nationwide search for the child. MIC and Celcom also stepped in to give a back-up in alerting the public about the abducted Sharlinie.
This morning, I received a SMS sent out by Celcom to its subscribers. Very touching, the message serves to solicit help to be on lookout for Sharlinie.
This was the first time I received this nature of alert message. What a wonderful public service by Celcom.
Let's all pray for Sharlinie!
Monday, January 14, 2008
The crisis wiped out a big chunk of our foreign reserves, making Malaysia much poorer and vulnerable to high risks in reserve sufficiency. Cutting down imports was one way to save for coffers.
Tun Dr. Mahathir was most astonished to find that agricultural products took up a good percentage of the import components.
I still remember vividly his challenge to the whole nation in reaction to the shocked finding. "Malaysia has plenty of lands. Why do we need to import alarming quantities of agricultural foods? Can we take up the challenge to plant more and import less?" Mahathir called on the nation.
Tun Dr. Mahathir's call was well echoed but very short-lived.
I remember Sibu responded with a frenzy drive for home-gardening with high-profiled publicity in the press. But the zeal died a natural death soon after.
I lamented for the poor follow-through in Mahathir's call.
Now we are facing global crop shortage and spiralling food prices. Take my words, it is not going to be a short-term phenomenon.
It may be time for us to seriously review our agricultural policy to face up to this era of expensive foods!
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Pak Lah would not hint to it since election date is very much a strategic play, keeping opposition parties in the haze.
Election date has therefore been traditionally a guesswork. Presently, if you have nothing to tip you off, then just follow Bursa Malaysia's Composite Index for an indicator.
Our share market reacted strongly to election speculation historically. This is commonly refered to as election-driven run in the absence of fundamental forces.
Bursa Malaysia bucked the trend in the past few days, pushing the CI to surpass 1500 points in a speculative drive amid lacklustre performance in most of the world markets.
We noted influx of hot money (short-term speculative funds) as evidenced by strengthening of our Ringgit against greenback. There is plenty of speculative drive in reaction to election druming-up.
The frenzy run calls for cautions for investors who are quick-profit motivated. If you really wish to jump on the bandwagon, then look for counters which are politically conceptual.
I wish you all the best.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Since 2005, in real terms, prices have jumped by 75%. The Economist's food-price index is higher today than at any time since it was created in 1845. In other words, what we are presently facing is a record high food inflation, or agflation as it is commonly refered to now.
The underlying factors leading to the present phenomenon are surging oil price and long-running changes in diet that accompany the growing wealth in emerging economies.
For example, a Chinese consumer who ate 20 kg of meat in 1985 will scoff over 50 kg of the stuff this year. This inevitably produces a chain reaction, pushing up demand for grain.
Spiralling oil price led to a fanatical search for cheaper substitute. Biofuel came in as one of the best choices, triggering off a race for crops between men and machines (vehicles). Maize subsidies in the West provided incentive for farmers to switch from other crops to maize, making food prices go crazy!
I agree that it is time for gluttons to cut down diet in fighting against agflation. But the ordinary folks are definitely harder-hit by the rising cost than the better-off groups. That is precisely why I called it a threat to many.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Sibuians are not alone hard-hit by this global phenomenon. This wind of increase sweeps across all nations, giving strain to worldwide consumers.
Price surge is primarily a reaction to fundamental shift in crop usage - from that of human consumption to that of biofuel production. Last year (2007) biofuels took a third of America's (record) maize harvest. That affected food markets directly: fill up an SUV's fuel tank with ethanol and you have used enough maize to feed a person for a year. And it affected them indirectly, as farmers switched to maize from other crops.
The 30m tonnes of extra maize going to ethanol in 2007 amounts to half of the fall in the world's overall grain stocks. That squarely explains the hike as market forces work to force it up.
This world phenomenon is just not yet over. In 2008, my dear Sibuians, you are going to get more nips!
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Only a few years back, used red packets were just chucked away, giving strain to our environment. Then some creative-minded people came up with the idea to turn them into a collector's item. When it hit the market, it gathered heat pretty fast, drawing interest from practically all walks of life.
I am all for it, although red-packet collection has never tickled my enthusiasm, for a very simple reason: It is an extremely noble and environment-friendly pastime.
Red-packet enthusiasts are abound now. The zeal has driven them to source for the latest patterns available in the market. Don't be taken by surprise, therefore, to receive calls from long-time friends who are zealous collectors.
Yian's ex-colleague sought her favour for some newly released red packets. What a wonderful opportunity for Yian to be in touch with an old friend and help her out through this very noble pastime.
Little did I expect red packets to become such a sought after item in the market in a matter of a few years' time.
Monday, January 7, 2008
In essence, red is the festival colour of Chinese New Year. The legendary belief is that red will drive off evil spirits and ill fortune., bringing blessings to those who put it on.
Sibu is getting heated up with Spring Festival ambience. A lot of shops have started putting on decorations to signify the onset of the grand festival.
Decorative items are creative in designs and affordable in pricing - thanks to China for churning out cheap products for the benefit of the world market.
Just take a stroll in Sibu market and you easily get stirred up!
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Traditionally, all families have to spring-clean their houses prior to the festival. The belief is that the clean-up works towards driving off all ill fortune. In modern context, it has the significance to provide a time for us to clean up our homes more thoroughly.
During my childhood and teens, spring-cleaning was essentially a whole-family affair. My mom would pick a day during the year-end school holiday and command everybody to put hands together in an all-out effort to spring-clean the house. It was a fun-filled family effort with absolutely no fuss over it.
Yesterday, I took the afternoon off to spring-clean the cemented compound using a pressure jet
cleaner. Allen joined in to give me a hand, making me recall the sweet old memories.
The Spring Festival mood is already in the air in Sibu, stirring up Sibuians as they shop around.
The New Year songs sing out festive joy, making the season even closer. The creative decorations spur on shoppers to go on a buying spree. It is a really fun-filled time in the run-up to CNY.
Saturday, January 5, 2008
I have no idea at all what transpired between the two. Consequently, on the New Year's day, Chua stunned the whole of Malaysia by admitting to it, saying he would leave his fate to PM and MCA's president.
Then the whole episode took a dramatic turn on Jan. 2 when Chua announced his resignation from all posts in the cabinet and party.
When the video clip was divulged to the public in an apparently calculated set-up, Soi Lek was confronted with two options.
Firstly, he could make an outright denial, claiming that it was a conspiracy using image planting to disgrace him.
Alternatively, he just made a straightforward admission.
Dr. Chua is an astute politician, knowing very well the high risks involved in taking the first option. No one could be positively sure what was up in the schemers' sleeve. Denying to it might end up in more disgraceful exit for him.
A clear-cut confession could earn him a chance.
But Datuk Seri Dr. Chua misjudged the degree of tolerance that our government has towards moral misconduct by the cabinet members. When he chose to admit, he was playing a game of chance which he lost shortly.
Friday, January 4, 2008
Coming together with Shyue Chung is Liew Yen Yen, a female pop singer renowned locally.
Chng Shyue Chung made his name in 1980s when he hit the local market with his mighty vocal. His unique musical style earned him fame that made him well liked until today by local fans.
When he arrived at Premier Hotel this afternoon with his entourage, I grabbed the opportunity to have a snapshot with this long-lasting famed singer.
I wish Chng Shyue Chung a continuing flourishing singing career.
Group photo - he is as popular as ever!
A snapshot with Chng Shyue Chung.
Chng and Liew posing together with the organisers for photoshooting.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Dr. Chua's downfall reflected strong undercurrent in power struggle within MCA. In a run-up to party elections this year, factional fight to consolidate foothold is intensifying! The tension is now speculated to escalate by leaps and bounds.
Soi Lek emerged to be a shining political star in MCA since the last party elections. He is characterised by outspokenness and aggressiveness. It is precisely his outspoken character that has planted seeds of bitter rivalry with other factions.
Chua's aggressive pursuit for political advancement, as manifested by his bold revelation to move further up, inevitably posed challenge to the existing incumbent. His political drive fuelled the already tense party power conflicts.
Datuk Seri Dr. Chua was speculated to vie for the post of vice-president. Such a move would wobble the present power balancing, making MCA vulnerable to another crisis.
Chua was fast building up his grassroot support, with his power base spreading from JB to Penang lately. He was viewed very much a figure to watch out.
A protege of Tun Lim Liong Sik, Soi Lek fell prey to a schemed trap to weed him out. The sex video clip scandal is a political assassination with ill motive.
Chua's era may appear to be over, but MCA's turmoil may be just about to surface.
All members of MCA should stand behind Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting to consolidate the party.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Datuk Seri Dr. Chua, being a prominent public figure, inevitably has to face high-profile publicity over the scandal.
The headlines in See Hua Daily News shocked me to dizziness this morning. The immediate concern that came to my mind was: How is the family going to take it?
It is definitely going to be a heart-rending time for Datin Seri Wong and the three offspring. An uphill task, requiring tremendous will and love, I told Yian over our breakfast.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
The pastor shared with us Proverbs 3:5-6, saying, "You have to put all your trust in the Lord and do not rely on your understanding."
The New Year's message challenged the congregation to trust God wholeheartedly without fail. I was much enlightened spiritually!
What a wonderful start of a year.
Bata Shop at High Street - it was doing brisk business this morning.
Back-to-school shopping spree kicked off as early as in the beginning of December. We noted that most of the student accessory shops were crowded with shoppers for last-minute shopping this morning.
Yian was an early bird in accessory shopping for Sidney, Allen and Pauline. However, that day she was shocked to notice that Allen's old shoes had been worn out with two holes. As such, we reckoned that the shoes are not fit for use anymore.
When we arrived at Bata Shop along Jalan Lebuh Tinggi, the shop was bustling with brisk business. The tawkey was so swamped by shoppers at the cashiering counter that he could only give a brief greeting. We made a quick selection. Thereafter, we almost had to force our way out.
This frolic back-to-school shopping reflected human inclination to last-minute rush!
Jun Rong Economy Market at Workshop Road - a busy back-to-school scene.