The challenge to the athletes now is to raise the bar

I’m no sportswoman and I didn’t follow the recently-concluded 29th Sea Games in Kuala Lumpur except to note Malaysia’s gold tally (145)! But, I really must congratulate Team Harimau for a good showing.

With the home-ground advantage on their side, I’m sure our athletes gave their best. It was apparent Malaysia gave them all the support and encouragement they deserve and they didn’t disappoint us, except for the football match against Thailand, which we lost, but, perhaps, the Thais played better.

The Thais, it seems weren’t too happy with some aspects of the games. According to a local report, the Bangkok Post carried an article quoting officials as saying they were concerned with Malaysia’s “officiating” capabilities, giving a few examples where athletes made mistakes but were allowed to continue participating in the event and won golds.

Well, as hosts, I hope we will examine these concerns and offer the appropriate clarifications so that our guests at the games do not have doubts about our abilities.

It also hasn’t missed our notice that we seem to lead in the gold tally only on the home ground. The last time we won the Sea Games was in 2001 also when we hosted the games.

A few of our athletes have won golds at international events, which shows we can compete and win at international standards. That, now, should be the challenge to our athletes: to raise the bar so that — whether on the home ground or not — we beat other nations in the medal tally. If a few can do it, I’m sure many more can do the same.

So, I’m looking forward to the 30th Sea Games in the Philippines in 2019 to see if our athletes can measure up to international standards and give competitors a good run for the gold!


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Only one rotten apple is needed to smear your good name

People should be pleased with the recent high-profile arrests by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), but are they?

It seems to me we have more questions than compliments about these MACC arrests. It is the same response to the requests to set up a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) on the Memali incident. In the Memali incident on Nov 19, 1985, a police siege on a village in Baling, Kedah, ended with the death of 14 residents and four policemen.

Why the sudden urge to dig up incidents from more than 30 years ago to seek a RCI on it? Is it politically-motivated? As the MACC arrests? Politically-motivated? Why are the arrests taking place now? Who have been tipping off the MACC? Is the MACC objective in their probes? Are the people involved in these cases Umno people or those supportive of the BN government or allied to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad or to his administration?

People have questions because they are not sure of MACC’s or the government’s integrity . The questions may have very legitimate answers but in the eyes of the public, the motives are suspect.

MACC can shout itself hoarse by saying “Don’t discuss the issues because they are under probe and any discussion can be construed as obstacles warranting punishment!” The government can do the same by saying “We do so much for the people but they still don’t believe us!”

The reason is simple: The MACC and the government has lost credibility among a large section of the population.

The have lost credibility not because they are bad or didn’t do their job. They can’t be believed  because of just one thing: the way they handled 1MDB.

In the MACC high-profile probes, key players were arrested and brought to MACC lock-ups in the MACC orange suits. But in the IMDB case, no one saw any of their key players in the MACC orange suit! And, no one knows for sure if the case was investigated in the way it should have. We just don’t know.

The government has effectively silenced all discussion on 1MDB, saying the case was cleared. Was it? Again, we just don’t know the truth.

As long as the people don’t know the truth, we will always suspect the motives. That means, no matter what the government or MACC does, the people will never feel confident to believe what they say.

Why so? Public servants and leaders need to realise that you only need one thing badly handled to smear all your “good” work. You only need one rotten apple to spoil the rest. That one thing, unresolved, will hang over your head and influence the perception of those whose support you want. Because that one thing was not resolved, people will never be sure whether to believe or trust you.

If that trust and belief deficit is not addressed head on and honestly by demonstrating a commitment to put the interests of the people you serve first over your own interests,  people will never believe you no matter what you say or do. And the leader or leaders will never win over their hearts.

In the long run, that is what will cause the loss of support.


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In the fight for votes, don’t ignore the East Malaysian factor

Dr Mahathir Mohamad must be hitting where it really hurts, judging from the flak he has been getting of late. From the prime minister to anonymous folk, Mahathir has become the target of vilification and aimed projectiles.

Najib Razak seems to make it a point to demonize him as a traitor, a U-turnist (if there’s such a word) and a former dictator. Others in  the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition he leads do the same. Even nobodys seem to take an aim at him as in the case of the Nothing to Hide 2 forum, organised by Armada, the youth faction of the party Mahathir founded, Party Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), where things were thrown at him as he fielded questions from the floor.

If he were no threat to the ruling coalition, why this vitriol against the former prime minister? Unless he is making inroads into Umno’s voter base? PPBM president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is said to have set up 145 divisions in the Peninsula. That’s quite commendable. It is also said that more and more Malays are turning up at PPBM’s functions. Indeed, Umno has reasons to feel threatened and to react in the way it is doing now.

Perhaps, Umno is finally coming out of denial and seeing the reality on the ground: that, they are losing Malay support.

And, with Mahathir stating clearly that he won’t go back to Umno, the party is facing the prospect of seeing its support slip away. No wonder, it is zeroing in its attacks on Dr M!

According to, which analyses local political events and trends, in the Peninsula, BN got 3,261,493 Malay votes while PR got 3,165,049 in the 2013 general elections. It was a neck-and-neck race, and it is not surprising that both sides have been fighting to win more Malays to their side.

It must be noted here that BN got the majority of the rural Malay votes (2,407,336) while PKR (Parti Keadilan Rakyat) which leads the opposition won the majority of the urban Malay votes (515,293).

So, the Malay-based parties are now fighting with each other tooth and nail to win more votes. Both sides only need a few more seats to win.

In this scenario, it is very likely that Umno will win by scraping through although that small margin of votes which may put it in the lead appears to be eroding in the face of Mahathir’s PPBM’s assault, and, hence the angry reaction to Dr M.

Umno’s confidence, however, is not in its Malay voter base. It’s in its safe-deposit states of Sabah and Sarawak. Of the 133 seats its won, 35 are from Sabah and Sarawak. PR won 89 seats with nine from East Malaysia. Even if Umno loses a few more parliamentary seats, the coalition it leads, the BN, would still win as long as Sabah and Sarawak continue to give their full support.

On the other hand, if BN gains a few more parliamentary seats in the Peninsula, but it loses, conservatively, about one-third of the East Malaysian seats, it will be done for. The opposition coalition, rebranded now as Pakatan Harapan (PH), will win with a comfortable majority.

I don’t know if East Malaysians realise how they can influence the coming general elections (GE14). Perhaps, the effort should be diverted to East Malaysia to woo their votes.

East Malaysians, mostly rural, have traditionally voted for the BN to ensure that their rice bowls are continuously filled. They need to understand that if they give their support to the BN in the GE14, they will be shooting themselves in their own foot! The next BN government will be so cash-strapped, we will continue to see efforts to get funds from external sources like China and further indebt ourselves, which would translate to fewer benefits to the people.

As things are, I am doubtful if East Malaysians truly understand the role they can play in changing the course of this nation. I don’t know if they are sufficiently politicised to understand national issues and really come to the rescue of their fellow citizens in West Malaysia. If they vote for the nation rather than their rice bowl, BN will lose with certainty.

That, however, will be a miracle. But, I believe in miracles. So, I’ll pray for it!

(Statistics taken from Wikipedia)

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Ode to strangers

There are a lot of good people out there — people who without a thought will extend a helping hand in a crisis, irrespective of who needs it. The recent case of Abang Baju Merah who loaned his motorbike to a couple who were struggling along the highway to push their own bike which had broken down is one more example of these everyday heroes.

Earlier, there was another story of how a man stopped his car, got out to help another whose vehicle had stalled and got hit by a passing vehicle while helping the other man out. He died. But, it shows the extent to which people will go to help others.

There are countless other cases and I’m sure you can add to this great volume of goodness in our midst.

I remember once, during a fasting month, there was an accident involving a motorbike and the rider went under the bus. It was during the morning rush hour and most people just whizzed by glad to come out of the jam the accident had caused. But, one motorist, as soon as he saw what happened, braked hard, jumped off his bike and went under to get to the trapped fellow. I don’t know what happened because I was on the other side of the road and had to move on with the traffic.

That day, I realised that there really are a lot of good people among us.

I, myself, owe strangers much.

I recall many years ago when I was offered a teaching job with the then LimKokWeng Institute (now LimKokWeng University) which was located somewhere along Jalan Tun Razak, past the National Library. I decided to go there a day before I started to be familiar with the route.

It was the evening peak hour and those days the traffic jams were horrendous. Worst still, it was pouring cats and dogs! I took a side road thinking it would take me to the bungalow the institute was housed in, but, suddenly, I found myself in the middle of a huge swathe of surging water and I panicked, losing my bearings, which often happens to me when I am in a new area or in a new environment and I lose my confidence.

I was looking this way and that, twisting and turning in my seat when suddenly I saw this man in front of my Suzuki, a cop, drenched with rain and he lifted the front of the car and set it a foot or so to my right and signalled me to move on.  I drove on, finding myself on the dry road again.

The thought that crossed my mind was: Where did he appear from?! I’ve no idea. If that man did not come to my rescue that day, I don’t know what would have happened to me!

Then, there was another time when my car stalled on the Federal Highway. This time, I was driving a second-hand Peugeot 504 (way before I got my first brand-new car, the Suzuki). Again, it was raining cats and dogs and, again, I was at a loss as to what to do. Again, a man got out in the pouring rain and helped push my car to the emergency lane. I was so panicked, I didn’t think to get out with an umbrella (which I had in the car) to, at least, shield him from the rain!

He told me to call AAM. Relieved, I muttered my thanks. He just waved at me and went back to his car.

There were many other times when I got help from strangers. I’m ever grateful to all these good people who came to my rescue at the right time.

To me, it is God helping us!

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A check verse when things are not going quite right

Sometimes, we forget. When things are not going quite the way we would like to, we strive and put a lot of effort to make things right, but forget the first thing we really should do — check ourselves against Matt 6: 33.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” It is a verse we are taught when we begin the walk of faith as Christians — to always put Christ first in everything we do. As we do it, it shapes our life choices and our lifestyles begin to reflect it.

Then, we grow older, more mature and more confident of what we can do in Him, and we act by faith doing the things we believe are for God. Nothing wrong with that — until something happens and things don’t go quite as planned or expected. Then, we wonder what went wrong?

Well, firstly, nothing went wrong. As long as we are living here on Earth, we can expect a spanner to be thrown in the works. Problems are going to happen. The issue isn’t that a problem happened; the issue is how to deal with it.

Secondly, we deal with it with all the resources at our disposal. Again, nothing wrong with that. In fact, that is precisely what we must do to address the issue at hand. Pray and search for the resources and apply them until the breakthrough occurs, then we find a way out.

But, sometimes, we do all these “right” things, and still, somehow, we see that things are not right. On the surface, it appears good, but, if we just stopped and looked into ourselves, we realise that something has gone awry and we are at a loss as to how to make it right.

I have been at that point many times and I would struggle and press on until it hit me recently, go back to Matt 6: 33. Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Thirdly, when we come to that point of being “stuck”, that’s a good time to consider Matt 6: 33 again.

Seeking His ways in our lives isn’t a series of actions leading to a set of goals. It really is an attitude of the heart.

We are taught to put Christ first by fulfilling our spiritual obligations like going to church, giving to the church, getting involved in church activities — doing things for God. After a while, it just becomes a routine obligation.

Why? Because our attitude is not in seeking His ways, but in doing things for Him. We need to go beyond the act. Going to church is very important for me, but, sometime ago, a conflicting priority came up at the same time I was going for a service.

This person needed help and I could have asked someone else to be with her and went to church. But, I thought, wouldn’t I be putting Christ first by attending to her need myself now rather than going to church to get blessed?

I did just that and the next service I attended I found myself worshipping from a grateful heart.

God doesn’t want to be first in our lives to feed his ego. He doesn’t need it. It’s an attitude that lifts us from the bog of our circumstances and sees a God who wants to be involved in the everyday things we grapple with and help us through.

We see a relationship with Him and in that relationship we enjoy room to be who He created us to be and to act not because it is expected of us but because we want to. And we find we have the freedom to do things we never imagined and become increasingly grateful to God who help us along.

I was “stuck” for a long time. The last two months I got to “unstuck” by simply ignoring the circumstances and looking to God. In the process, I found the freedom to make some unconventional decisions, and it set me free.

Fourthly, it doesn’t mean that when we seek His kingdom and righteousness, we get everything we want. We may not. But, because we have this attitude of looking to Him, it won’t matter whether we have it or not. With or without it, we have Him, and, somehow, that makes us content with what we have.



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Federal Highway’s magnificent sunset

Federal Highway sunset

The other day, as I turned into the Federal Highway from Jln PP Narayanan (Jln 222) heading for home in Subang Jaya, this magnificent sunset came into full view. I went onto the slow lane — which I rarely use! — to take in the view for as long as I could!

Going towards Klang, Federal Highway looks west. So, you can get to see some really good sunsets here. Some days, the sun is a huge red or orange ball on the horizon (the next time I see it, I’ll take a picture and show it here.) But, this was the first time I saw the sky ablaze with red and orange hues, underlined with yellow. It was an amazing sight!

Beauty is all around us. It’s a real treat when occasionally it emerges larger than life and hits you to stop and stare. A marvel of nature and, really, blessed are those who catch a glimpse of it!

I just had to share this picture. Enjoy it!

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Taking a break …

Hi, folks! No post today. Too many things going through my mind and nothing clarifying into focus. So, I’ll just take a little more time until the thoughts settle. I’ll be back next Friday!

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