Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Batang Ai By-Election - SNAP Backing Out Of PR?

The campaign is now on full swing and the whole by-election is sizzling hot on the run-up to the polling day on April 7.

This by-election is pretty eye-catching and any twist of it is nerve-racking. You may call it a normal casting of votes to elect a new ADUN and what is there so much to trumpet about.

But, in reality, this by-election is really a watershed politically for both state BN and Sarawak PR in that a win or loss has dire implications for both fronts.

For PR,a victory means building up a foothold for the opposition front, especially in native areas, to make further inroads into Sarawak with an eventual aim to bring about "a change of sky" in this eastern state. A defeat, on the other hand, would be a setback for DSAI in his political ambitions.

BN is therefore on an all-out effort to fend off the threat from PR and to dissipate Anwar's syndrome. In any event, state BN would not give PR the slightest of a chance to dip its finger into the state's politics.

As such, it was a bombshell when SNAP's deputy president Mr. Ting Lian Kiew announced through a press release yesterday that the party (SNAP) would back out of Sarawak PR and, instead, back up BN in the coming by-election in Batang Ai.

Ting's back-out and back-up rhetoric at such a crucial moment when the whole of Batang Ai is practically filled with election fever was tricky. Was the stand his personal one or the party's?

I called up Mr. Johnny Wong, SNAP's vice-president, for clarification on the explosive statement by Ting Lian Kiew. Calling Lian Kiew's backing out rhetoric as purely personal one, Johnny Wong assured political watchers that the party would come out with an official statement on its stand.

Longboat is an essential means of transport in Batang Ai. Photo: Steve Ling

Earth Hour 2009 - How Did Sibu Do?

Sibu Gateway before the lights were off.
Sibu Gateway observed the hour with solemnity.

Paramount Hotel and Wisma Sanyan before the lights were switched off.

Premier Hotel at 8:15 p.m.

Paramount Hotel and Wisma Sanyan sank with Sibu into darkness during the hour.

Sibu was not too far behind in this environment awareness campaign which took the whole world to join in to switch off lights for 60 minutes on March 28 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. as a manifestation of our concern for the worsening climate change.
This year was the first time Sibu standing hand in hand with the rest of the world to observe this hour of solemnity.
You may twit about the campaign, saying iy is just a publicity stunt. But never underestimate the power of such environment conservation movement.
SMC was the driving force behind to get Sibu into Earth Hour 2009. But for it to gather greater momentum, more thoughtful planning might help.
Much as I wished to snap some photos of the splendid dim hour of Sibu, I couldn't make it as I was with my family for a gathering.
Meng Lei was keen enough to arm himself with his sophisticated camera and hopped around to shoot the historic moments.
The shots of Earth Hour in Sibu were fine and fascinating, giving very contrasting views of the town during and before the hour.
The last photo shows Premier Hotel at 8:30 p.m.
(Photos: Meng Lei)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Business Trip To Kuching - (Part 7- Final)

I placed order for chicken curry rice and iced lemon drink. At less than RM 5 for the whole set, it was pretty value -for -money!
Lachau Food Corner did a brisk business.

A group of foreign tourists were seen taking a moment off for some local specialties.

Lachau Food Corner is pretty well-stuffed.

A presentable market next to the coffeeshop.

On the following morning, we took a sumptuous buffet breakfast at Hotel Grand Continental Kuching before we set out for one morning of meeting up with business associates. we looked forward to a hectic day ahead.
Raymond was a lot more confident with the ways in Kuching after some wild goose chase the day before. As such, we experienced much less snags on the way, making us feel at ease for the whole of the morning.
At midday, we finished off what was in hand and headed our way back to Sibu.
As it was already time for lunch, we started ti feel the hunger striking. Serian flashed across my mind and we all agreed to take a stop-over break at the small town for a quick lunch.
Although it was past lunch hour when we reached there, Serian was still bustling with crowds. We popped in several coffeeshops and were amazed to see them running to a full house.
When we were at the verge of giving up, we came across one with a vacant table. We could not afford the luxury to hestitate and had to settle down for a decent meal there.
We were like wolfing down our late lunch. Right after our lunch break , we got back on the road for our onward journey back home.
At Lachau, we made another stop for a lazy afternoon coffee. The coffeeshop that we patronized was really doing brisk business where a mix of locals and foreign tourists took up almost the whole of the space.
After Lachau, we made no more stop and drove straight on for the rest of the journey.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Earth Hour 2009

Sibu sank into darkness on March 28 for one hour from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. together with 4,000 cities worldwide in an environment awareness campaign known as Earth Hour.
A brainchild of WWF in Sydney, Australia in 2007, Earth Hour has grown from a single event to a global movement aiming primarily to raise awareness of the worrisome climate change.
Earth Hour is certainly meaningful in that it is an awareness movement on an issue that is pertinent to everybody. As such, it deserves a global observance.
In fact, environment concern is now a duty of all mankind, although a lot of us are still unaware of the implications of it.
Sibu Municipal Council, in its show of support for the movement, called on Sibuians to observe this hour of darkness by switching off nonessential lightings.
Hoteliers and complex owners were called to a briefing at the Mayor's office on March 27 at 4:30 p.m. This co-ordination move by SMC was praiseworthy, albeit coming in a rush at the last minute.
Premier Hotel responded with switch-off or dimming of nonessential lightings on the exterior of the building to show our deep concern for the environment.
The photos show the landmark St. Stephens tower of the Houses of Parliament in Central London during Earth Hour.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin - The New Deputy President of UMNO

As widely speculated by the political watchers, Muhyiddin Yassin was elected Deputy President of UMNO in the hotly contested party elections.

Muhyiddin was very much favoured by TDM and Najib. His triumph did not come as a surprise.

That leaves a lot to ponder why Mukhriz lost out in the run for the Youth Wing top post. There had got to be certain calculated political manoeuvre going on.

A path has now been paved for Muhyiddin to go up to be the nation's Deputy Prime Minister.

Business Trip To Kuching (Part 6)

After checking in at Hotel Grand Continental Kuching, we could not afford to settle down for a rest. Straightaway we set out to our serious business.
Again, our driver Raymond is not at all versed in the ways of Kuching. Such being the case, we really had a donkey-work to look up for all the places. Despite all the vain rounds of driving, we had had a fun time experiencing all the uneasiness on the way.
After an exhausting day, we planned for a more relaxing evening. After taking a toss, we settled on tHE Spring for our dinner.
Night driving in Kuching proved to be much worse than wild-goose chasing for Raymond. We were like in a maze, completely, driving around heading to nowhere. Raymond said he got lost in the course of driving. Eventually Tiong called her friend to come to our rescue with a helpful guide to tHE spring and later on back to the hotel.
Hotel Grand Continental Kuching is a plush hotel located at Jalan Ban Hock. Rated 4-star, HGCK is affordable in pricing. We have been working on a smart partnership with the hotel for years and it has been proven to be mutually beneficial.
One thing admirable about Hotel Grand Continental Kuching is its relentless efforts in promoting environment conservation. The above photo shows its notice to guests on environment-friendly water usage.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Business Trip To Kuching (Part 5)

Chillipeppers is just two rows of shophouses away from Hotel Grand Continental Kuching. This eatery serves mainly oriental delicacies with a wide array of menu selections.

Chillipeppers is not air-conditioned, presumably to give a tropical touch and to make it a place of difference. One section of it is partitioned off and equipped with air-conditioning facility for those who opt for cooler environment. I believe there is surcharge imposed for greater comfort.

On arrival, we noticed that the business was brisk. We had to take a just-vacated table, with no luxury for us to go for one of our choice.

The pricing in Chillipeppers is not steep. It falls in the range between coffeeshop and cafeteria, making it affordable to a wider public.

I placed orders for kung pao fish rice and teh tarik. The beverage came out just right in aroma and taste. The portioning for kung pao fish rice was below my expectation. Tastewise, I gave it a thumb up.

We had a satisfying meal at this bustling eatery. Thereafter, we proceeded to check in to Hotel Grand Continental Kuching.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Business Trip To kuching (Part 4)

When passing by Serian, we decided not to drop in due to time constraint. We were already behind our time, so we just zoomed past this small town.
My driver is not too well versed with Kuching city. As such, when we arrived there, we drove around having a good wild-goose chase before finding Hotel Grand Continental, our place of stay in Cat City.
The time then was almost 2:30 pm which was well past the lunch time. Naturally a burning desire for foods shot up.
We opted for a nearby eatery called Chillipeppers.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Batang Ai By-Election - PR Stands United To Fend Off BN

PKR, DAP and SNAP stand united now to fend off BN in the upcoming by-election. The de facto leader of PKR DSAI flew in the state with much flamboyance to annouce the candidate on the weekend.

SNAP at its CEC meeting resolved to part with the seat. This ended all the speculations about a probable infighting in PR over fielding of candidate. There was a sigh of relief in the market after SNAP decided to give way to PKR.

The state PR, albeit unofficially formed, vowed to work hand in hand to fight a winning battle in the by-election.

My estimation of the fight remains 50:50 between BN and PR.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Business Trip To Kuching (Part 3)

When driving past the fork leading to Lubok Antu, I developed an urge to pop over to the small town which is now in the limelight. The upcoming by-election has drawn in heavyweight like DSAI to drum up support for the opposition front.
But, after taking a look at the sign on the roadside, I decided to give up the idea as Lubok Antu is located 38 km away from the Kuching-Miri Highway. Dropping in for some coffee and feverish feel of the sizzling hot by-election would disrupt my itineary.
Moving on from there was another hour of drive before reaching Lachau where we made a brief stop-over for some much-needed coffee.
Lachau comprises of three rows of shophouses in L-shape. This small marketplace serves mainly the needs of the nearby natives and the travellers passing by.
We went to one of the two coffeeshops there for a break. The coffee came out below my expectation, hardly with the aroma any coffee lovers would crave for. But, coming to think of it, I shouldn't be so demanding of a small place like Lachau.
After refreshing, we took a short stroll along the five-foot way where local produce was displayed for sale.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Holy Matrimony of Ing Chiong & Eian Ling - This Is The Day The Lord Has Made

When Ing Chiong and Eian Ling walked hand in hand on the red-carpeted aisle to the altar, they beamed all the way through. This was a moment of outburst of joy for the two.
To Ah Chiong and Eian Ling, March 21 is a dream coming true! What else could be more joyous than entrusting to each other in God?
Psalm 118: 24 says it right, " This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it".
Close to 200 guests turned out to witness their solemn matrimony and share the joy of the two.
From calling to order to benediction, the whole matrimonial service was joy-filled and smooth in flowing through. The event was themed "Blue and White", signifying an ocean-like love. Most of the guests came in white or blue at the request of Ah Chiong and Eian Ling to tie in with their theme.
A grand wedding banquet was held at Blue Splendour Restaurant to feast the guests. The Tea Gang was honoured with an invitation to partake of the reception. We grabbed hold of it to take a group photo with the bride and groom.
Thank you Ah Chiong and Eian, and we wish you all the best!
(Photos: Steve Ling)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Business Trip To Kuching (Part 2)

We zoomed towards Kuching right after our quick breakfast at Sarikei. Checking on the time, it was 8:30 am. By a rough count, the remaining journey would take about five solid hours with one or two stop on the way for a break or ease-off.

Travelling by air and land alike produces hypnotic effect on me. I still recall an official travelling trip by coach to Mukah during which I slept like a log right through.

As such, I had to keep awake to catch all the glimpses alongside the Kuching-Miri highway, fearing that if I dozed off, I might miss some of the fascinating scenes.

When the huge sign of Sebangkoi Country Resort on the roadside came into my sight, I was very much drawn to it.

This country resort was a significant effort by our state government to develop the local tourism industry. A combination of country park and resort uniquely laid out and designed to give visitors a touch of tropical setting, SCR is excellent for a breakaway or a brief sojourn.

My tight itineary did not permit me to pop in for a quick stop-over. As the resort faded away from my sight, there was a strong urge rising up for me to come here for a visit.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Batang Ai By-Election - All The Goodies And Sweeties Now

The hand-outs by Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Ak Numpang were timed perfectly well to coincide with the run-up to the by-election in Batang Ai. With very little doubt, the synergistic effects would all go to BN.

Calling it a bonus for the outboard engine owners, the local press gave a front-page coverage to this all-happy bonanza at the height of the by-election fever. Even if you are not a recipient, you would probably get a contagion of it!

The goodies and sweeties are in the form of rebates for outboard engines in Batang Ai. To call them goodies and sweeties are more than apt - the rebates range from RM350 to RM705, depending on the horse power of the engines.

It was an all-smile give-away ceremony. Jabu would not let it slip by without hitting out hard at the opposition.

From all perspectives, the rebates were election-motived. You may call it a rakyat-orientated project for the benefits of the folks in Batang Ai, but, alas, the timing of it was so fishy that we couldn't help to unmask the sweeties and goodies.

It is a tossing game for the electorate in Batang Ai. Between BN and PR, a choice has to be made! The voters there would have a good time to balance their thinking before casting their votes.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Business Trip To Kuching (Part 1)

Travelling by land to Kuching has always been a fascinating experience. You can't afford to miss it out if you have never gone through it.
When I planned for a two-day business trip to Cat City, I decided to drive rather fly. Land travelling is alluring in many ways on this Land of Hornbill.
We departed at 7:00 am from Premier Hotel which was a little bit late for this 6-hour driving journey. On the itineary, Sarikei was our first stop.
Sarikei, a growing town, is not too far off the main road. The location is, therefore, strategic enough to take in long-distance travellers for a stop-over. In comparision with Sri Aman, Sarikei is better off in this sense.
We popped in for a quick breakfast with no extra time for other pursuits. When I checked out with a blogger in Sarikei www.wongsiewping.blogspot.com , a few recommendations were put forth for eateries of fineness in local cuisine. But, alas, my drop-in was very much just touch-and-go, so I could not afford the luxury of sampling them with ease and leisure. For that I need a food savouring trip with some other bloggers to Sarikei to poke my nose near to every dish and dip my finger in to whet my appetite.
We chose the food centre (gee, there is absolutely no official name for it after years of operation) where food varieties are aplenty. The interior of it is pretty spacious and hygienic with good ventilation, making it a place of comfort for a decently priced breakfast. I placed order for kampua and teh chi kosong for sampling. Woah, the taste turned out to be quite appetizing and the serving time was surprisingly satisfying. I gave a plus to the stall.
We set out on our onward journey after our Sarikei experience!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Batang Ai By-Election - James Masing Took Bloggers To Task

PRS president Dato' Sri Dr. James Jemut Masing was one step ahead of the opposition PKR to unveil the candidate for Batang Ai by-election.
You see, when PR is still squabbling over the seat, BN has straightened it out with little whiff. The component parties of the ruling front are now putting hands together and vowing to nail PR down. Their one voice, one action and one stand in Batang Ai is seen as building up a firm foothold.
Malcom Mussen Lamoh has over the night turned into a glittering political star, taking on his shoulder a stiff job to retain this BN seat.
Malcom may not be as seasoned as Nicholas Bawin of PKR politically, but he has the full backing of the component parties of BN. This adds a big plus to this fledgling politician.
In the meantime, James Masing took the Iban bloggers to task, calling them "not walking the talk". A group of elite Ibans in their blogs called for the Dayaks to stand as a united group in this challenging era. James Masing further put the bloggers under fire, saying their unity call was in true essence a divisive move in allowing PKR to push them and fight their own kind.
The electorate would give a fair judgement.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

World In Simultaneous Recession

The burst of the credit bubble in U.S. in Sept. 2008 swept the whole world into a simultaneous recession. The vibration of it was so great and the scale so shocking that that it was dubbed "financial tsunami" of the century.

In a matter of less than two months after the collapse of the major investment banks in U.S., the fierce waves of the financial turmoil engulfed the whole world. Multiplying effect spread fast and soon domino effect set in, taking the whole world down to a recession.

At a fellowship gathering of MAF of Ai Ming Methodist Church on March 7, I gave a talk on this global burning issue.

Looking at it with a global perspective, I dealt with the subject broadly by touching on three pertinent areas: 1. The underlying factors giving rise to the financial tsunami; 2. The speeding up of the global shift of economic power from West to East, and 3. The bumpy recovery road ahead.

The 45-minute sharing was relevant to all of us.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

MAF of Sibu East District - Culinary Delights

Liong Ung shared with us the delicious pig leg soup with dried cuttlefish (du ka men yu). This authentic Foochow food is a must! Leng Kieh was very much tempted by the delicacy.
Huat Mee and Yien Leh spoke highly of the evening.

It was all thumbs up - Tieng Ching, Mui Chiew and Soon Siong found the delectable dishes irresistibly good.

Good things are for sharing - Ing Moi served us with diligence.

It was too good to say "no".

Bean sprouts with egg - I couldn't help to go for second helping.

Pumpkin kueh - a snack you must tru out.

Home-made pizza

Ing Moi sliced it for sharing.

We gathered in the name of our Lord.

The evening was filled with praises to God!

A moment of mingling around.

Leng Kieh gave a harmonica performance.

What else could be more enticing than dipping your fingers into a delectable dish?
We made a wonderful visitation to MAF of Shiuan Daw Methodist Church on March 13 to share with them the love of God. When we set our feet on this trip, we had had much to look forward to.
MAF of Shiuan Daw Methodist Church gathered with a difference this evening. They put their hands together to come out with delights for sharing and called the evening "Culinary Delights". It sounded innovative and attractive.
The fellowship gathering was filled with lots of sharing of God's love, delicacies and culinary skills. One of the highlights of the evening was a demonstration on home-making of pizza by Tie Ing Moi. She gave it away generously - her recipe, live demonstration and contact number. Gee, Ing Moi was so very thoughtful - the phone contact was meant for those who may need someone to turn to when running into hiccups in pizza-making.
"Culinary Delights" came more than just in name - we were treated to delicacies of great taste after the gathering. It was a marvellous time of sampling the tempting dishes and mingling aroud and rubbing shoulders.
Dishes like pig leg soup with dried cuttlefish, pizza and bean sprouts with egg whetted our appetite and filled the air with wow!
The evening simply slipped away amidst praises and laughters. As the saying put it so perfectly right : All good things have to come to an end! Much as we wished to hold back the good moments a little longer, we couldn"t and had to call it a day!