Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nostalgic Weekend - Frankie Cheah

The sixties came to an end with a terrific send-off with the hosting of Woodstock in the States. For Malaysians, we had a fulfilling era as many groups and singers were there to entertain their fans whether in concerts or via their recordings. The groups/singers mentioned in this post so far are those who made it to the studio, but there were many more who preferred the stage than the studio. Names that came to mind are:

  • The Ghost Riders
  • The Strangers
  • The Mysterians
  • The Grim Preachers
  • The Yap Brothers
  • The Skylarks
  • The Blue Jeans [the only rock group that plays a double bass]
  • Jeffrey Moey
  • Argus Salim
One common feature of these artistes? All play and sing in English.

With the advent of the seventies, the music scene started to change. Artistes started recording in either Mandarin or Malay and very few in English, save for one new-comer, Frankie Cheah, our local boy from Segamat, Johore. Singaporean artistes continue to record and perform solely in English.

When I first heard Frankie Cheah, a Malaysian Chinese, singing *Woman In My Life for the first time, I didn't believe he was local. He has perfect diction that is practically non-existent amongst singers in this region, with a strong and clean voice to match, one that suits the ballads he sings. His interpretation of this lovely song has an appeal that is still fresh today. It will definitely be a big hit if released again and is one of very few songs by a local singer that I appreciate.

Frankie Cheah was a mathematics teacher from Segamat, Johore Bahru, Malaysia and recorded with giant EMI. His other big hit, Cheryl Moana Marie, also won accolades and Cheah is as much a household name on both sides of the Causeway. During pop concerts in Singapore, Cheah's performance usually draws a full house at the National Theatre (Tank Road), the Early Bird and Musical Express gigs at cinema halls in Singapore.

In the early 70s, besides recording in EP and LP format in English (produced by Reggie Verghese of The Quests), he has also recorded some Malay songs. His English selection includes popular ballads like, Chotto Matte Kudasai, It's Impossible, You've Got A Friend, Lovers, Help Me Make It Through The Night and Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.

The above image shows a bootleg EP which has My Name Is The Wind, Love Story, Song Of A Sad Man and Why. Because his records sold well, as they were all number one in the Malaysian Top 20 in the early 70s, the pirates took advantage as usual.

Even with his Malay album Cheah sings with feeling and conviction keeping to the difficult rhythm of the Malay 'asli' beat. The selection includes one very popular EP with Amalan Suci (ReggieVerghese/Ismail Haron). The other three songs are Putera Putri (Jimmy Boyle/Dol Baharin), Putus Sudah Kasih Sayang (P. Ramlee) and Syurga Pura Pura (Ismail Haron).

*Cheah has since retired but his achievement in the pop music field did not go unnoticed as he was recognised by the Malaysian music industry and awarded the Anugerah Sri Wiramar (2004). He was at EMI (UK) in 1977, headhunted by Warner Music, Malaysia and managed it a year later. When he left, he started Pacific Music which was bought by BMG Malaysia/Singapore where he rose to Chairperson.

Note: "Woman in my life" has been recorded by international artistes such as Bobby Vee and Engelbert Humberpinck.

Previous Features:

The Saints, Kuala Lumpur
The Quests, Singapore
The "Little" Falcons, Kuala Lumpur
The Crescendos, Singapore
Rose Iwanaga, Sarawak
Naomi & The Boys, Singapore
Rocky Teoh, Ipoh
The Surfers/October Cherries, Singapore
Janice Wee, Sarawak
Roy Chew & The Merrylads, Kuala Lumpur
The Checkmates, Singapore
Terry Thaddeus and The Teenage Hunters, Kuala Lumpur

The Thunderbirds, Singapore

The Straydogs, Singapore
The Strollers, Kuala Lumpur
The Western Union Band, Singapore

Starting from next week, I will be featuring the cross-overs, artistes who recorded in Mandarin or Malay, then switch over to record their works in English. Stay tuned!

Student protests - it is the sign of the times!


Britain's seeing its biggest protest yet against the deep cuts the country faces to tackle its massive debts. Tens of thousands of students are protesting against a planned hike in tuition fees which could see them treble to 9-thousand pounds a year. Violence flared briefly during the overwhelmingly peaceful protest as a handful of people smashed windows in a high-rise building that houses the headquarters of the Conservative Party, part of the governing coalition. Britain's Liberal Democrats, who are part of the coalition, pledged during the country's election campaign to abolish fees. During the protests, the car carrying Prince Charles and his wife, Carmelia, was also attacked, with some of the attackers shouting, "Off with their heads!" Treason?


And finally, our own students protesting the rise in commodity and utility costs.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Khir Toyo's corruption charges, it's not over yet

The Inland Revenue Board (IRB) has been urged to look into possible tax evasion by former Selangor Menteri Besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo in relation to his lavish Shah Alam mansion. faekah husin

Faekah Husin (left), political secretary to the present Selangor menteri besar, said this was necessary because Khir had been charged with buying two plots of land at a substantial, and thus suspicious, discount.

“Investigations (by the IRB) are necessary to ascertain whether taxes paid on the property were based on the actual cost of the land... this includes the stamp duty.

“This matter cannot be viewed lightly because avoiding taxes by under-declaring (property) is a serious offence,” she said in a statement today.

On Monday, Mohd Khir, 45, pleaded not guilty to charges of accepting two plots of land for RM3.5 million when the said lots were bought by Ditamas Sdn Bhd managing director Shamsuddin Haryoni for RM6.5 million.

Khir was charged under Section 165 of the Penal Code for knowingly accepting a bribe. Shamsuddin, 52, was charged under the same law, and they can be jailed up to two years each if convicted.

Shamsuddin was also charged with abetting Khir in the property deal.

Umno trying to 'cleanse' itself

Faekah also claimed that the criminal action brought against Khir was merely "a political ploy" for Selangor Umno to reclaim some credibility.

NONEHowever, she said, this would not work because Selangor Umno would not be able to redeem itself after 50 years of alleged corrupt practices and failure to administer the state effectively.

“Dozens of development projects were approved despite them not adhering to guidelines. The result is that only crony companies have benefitted, and the (results) are abandoned projects.

“(For example) thousands of house buyers in the Bukit Botak project were cheated and many became bankrupt. The Alam Perdana project that involved 7,000 acres was also abandoned,” she said.

According to Faekah, other alleged wrongdoings by the previous BN administration included the Talam Corp Bhd debt of RM391 million and the Green Revolution Project for Felda settlers.

“Charging Khir does not mean that Umno is in the process of cleansing itself and that the new leaders who would helm Selangor Umno should be given a chance.

“Their sins and corruption were exposed after Pakatan Rakyat took over the state government, and is working hard to clean up their mess.

“It is a difficult process, but half of the problems have been resolved despite the administration being less than three years old,” she said, adding that the new administration had vowed never to repeat BN's mistake.

[Source: Mkini]

Our present day educators

Came across this email message to FreeMalaysia Today by one Clarence Kesak. The remarks made are certainly worth noting :

You can count how 'professional' our teachers are by their lack of moral education. Blame it on the Education Ministry who select these teachers during interviews where the criteria is based on race and religion rather than on merit.

In the end the whole generation suffers simply because the quality of our teachers are sub-standard.

A doctor makes mistake and may lose one patient but a stupid teacher taints a whole generation.

[In the sixties, we looked up to our teachers for their guidance and brilliance. Even long after we have left school, we still remember them and kept in touch through our re-unions. But can we say we feel the same for our present crop of so-called educators today? The day my kids left school, one thing they said was, "Good riddance to bad rubbish!" The school my children went to was my alma mater. So how could it be bad? But then, times have changed. As a former member of the school's Board of Governors, I could see the changes taking place and it was not encouraging at all].

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Khir Toyo's corruption charge, another 'sandiwara'?

How low will Umno-BN go in order to win the upcoming 13th general election? Perhaps if there are enough Malaysians who make their anger against the injustice to Altantuya known, and Umno-BN realises how desperate the electoral situation is for them, they may consider the ultimate move of winning in perception contest by charging the one perceived to be linked with the case.

The history is clear. On Feb 12, 2004, the then Land and Co-operative Development Minister, Kasitah Gaddam, was charged in court for corruption. On Mar 31, 2004, Umno-BN called for 11th general election (and it won Abdullah Badawi a landslide victory). On Aug 12, 2009, after dragging on for more than 5 years, Kasitah Gaddam was acquitted when the court decided that the prosecution has failed to prove a prima facie case against the ex-minister. Note that the case has even failed at the prima facie stage, and yet it attracted (or rather, should I say, being played up with) such an unprecedented publicity. All for the positive perception of Umno-BN.

Likewise is the case of Khir Toyo yesterday. And it's an insult to the intelligence of the rakyat. To think that by merely charging the ex-menteri besar of Selangor with corruption is enough to rid the long-established culture of corruption associated with Umno-BN is like slapping on the wrist of a child and think that he/she would grow up a well-behaved adult. Worse, charging Khir Toyo now only after he has been arrogantly roaming about freely for years even after his disastrous defeat in 2008 is only raising our anger level. It is reminding us of how criminals of political class are even more privileged and protected than ordinary, law-abiding citizens. And the show put up by Khir Toyo himself worsens it. Look at how he came to the sessions court in his black luxurious SUV guarded by another car load of security detail. And his wearing his insulting smile at all of us. If Najib's administration could spend RM36 million of public money on American consultancy firm McKinsey and Co to make it look good, it should consider spending a few millions to hire a Hollywood director to make the 'Khir Toyo' show more convincing.

I would imagine putting Khir Toyo on the orange colour 'lokap' uniform, with a little make-up on his face for some injury usually suffered by victims of Polis Raja Di-Malaysia. And remind Khir Toyo not to wear any smile but to bow his head all the time. Better still, cover his head with a paper bag. He should feel so ashamed of himself that he must act like he wants to hide his face.

No, Khir Toyo's performance yesterday morning just gave everything away. His look of confidence and 'business as usual' is telling us the disgusting reality: he would just be another 'Kasitah Gaddam' in a few years. He would keep his mansion (and all other dirty fortune that he has amassed for himself over the years). The 'deal' must have been struck within Umno: you are now useful to put up a show of anti-corruption and we guarantee you a safe retirement. Interestingly at the session court yesterday, a minor show was also played out, between the subordinate (the sessions court judge) and the boss (the attorney-general).

The truth is, a session court judge is a civil servant reporting to the attorney-general. For him to bypass the convention by taking on the case directly himself, the attorney-general has created undue pressure on the judge and left the case in the hands of himself effectively. In case you naively think that it means the prosecution will win the case and thus convict Khir Toyo, the reverse is more likely the case - to ensure the case goes the way the 'deal' has determined.

While the show is on and the mainstream media goes on its high gear of spinning in the days to come, we must not forget that the agency responsible in the investigation of this case is MACC, which has had its hands tinted with blood of Teoh Beng Hock. The highly controversial 'suicide note' and the performance of its lawyer in the recent rounds of inquest proceedings come to mind. We can already see a body of judiciary interested in selective justice. And we also must not forget the infamous lawyer, VK Lingam, who continues to roam free despite the damning report against him by the Royal Commission of Inquiry. And those who squandered billions of public funds from the PKFZ scandal. And so on and so forth.

And on the other extreme of things, we have the continued persecution of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim through the trumped up charges of sodomy. About the idea of parading on stage, perhaps the right sequence, in the order of usefulness for perception, might go like this: MCA president Chua Soi Lek for being caught on video having unnatural sex and watching porn (not that I am condoning the law against unnatural sex), Sarawak chief minister Taib Mahmud for corruption, and chief of it all, prime minister Najib for the allegations of a connection between him and the Altantuya murder.

Poor Namewee, given the run around

See how the little "Napoleons" in FINAS and CIF treat Namewee, and all the latter wanted was to make a film, "1Malaysia".

Since the grant have been rejected by the authorities, Namewee next step is to see the prime minister. I guess it should be a cinch. After all, if the prime minister has the time to meet up with Saiful over a scholarship matter, I guess there is nothing more important now than his "1Malaysia" thingy.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Memorandum from the Selangor State Government to the King

Below, is the full text of the Selangor government's memorandum to the King.

From: The people and the Selangor state government


Duli Yang Maha Mulia
Tuanku Al-Wathiqu Billah Al-Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Ibni Almarhum Sultan Mahmud Al Muktafi Billah Shah
Yang Dipertuan Agong, Malaysia

Dengan nama Allah s.w.t., Tuhan Yang Maha Pengasih dan Maha Penyayang.

Selawat dan salam buat junjungan besar Nabi Muhammad s.a.w., pesuruh Allah s.w.t. yang sangat mencintai dan menggesa umatnya berlaku adil.

Assalamu'alaikum w.b.t.
Ampun Tuanku beribu ampun, sembah rakyat harap diampun.

i. With the knowledge that basic human living is dependent upon access to clean and affordable water,

ii. With the realisation that people's expanding costs of living are steadily increasing in comparison with their incomes,

iii. With a firm opposition to misappropriation, abuse and mismanagement of power,

iv. With a commitment towards building a leadership that is transparent, responsible, efficient and respectful of the spirit and practice of Federalism;

We, the people and the Selangor state government, hereby gather together seeking the humble permission of Duli Yang Maha Mulia Tuanku to deliver our concerns towards the issue of restructuring of the water services industry in Selangor Darul Ehsan.

Ampun Tuanku beribu ampun, sembah rakyat harap diampun.

1) Return the rights of water to the people

We, on behalf of 150,000 people of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, plead that justice is given to us by correcting the past mistakes of water privatisation, resulting in poor quality of water and water services, and with water tariff increases at unreasonable rates.

We hereby seek clean and good quality of water and water services at reasonable and affordable prices, taking into consideration the poor and low-income groups of Selangor. We call upon Tuanku to return the rights of water to the people.

2) Uphold the Water Services Industry Act 2006

We humbly request for Tuanku to uphold the spirit and aim of the Water Services Industry Act (WSIA) 2006, that is to restructure the water services industry into one that is holistic and managed by the Selangor state government.

The WSIA 2006 was originally enacted for the purpose of reversing the errors made in privatising the water industry. We call upon Tuanku to remind the federal government of this.

3) Empower the people

The concession agreement signed in 2004 between Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas), the federal dovernment and the Selangor State Government contains a number of ambiguities that show SYABAS is not concerned with the people's welfare, namely the water tariff increases at alarmingly high rates (37% in 2009, and 25%, 20%, 10% and 5% in 2012, 2015, 2018 and 2021).

The agreement should have been discussed with the people originally as it affects them primarily. We call upon Tuanku to empower the people by ensuring that any new agreement must be discussed with the people before it is finalised.

4) Restore state government's powers

Water services falls under the 'Concurrent List' in the Federal Constitution 1957, giving both the federal government and state government shared jurisdiction over the matter.

We urge the federal government to uphold the spirit of federalism and the powers of the state in the issue of water services, instead of using coercion tactics against the Selangor government. We call upon Tuanku to restore the state government's powers.

5) End cronyism

It is the perception of the people that the federal government sides with the private sector, in this case a particular company, which is equivalent to cronyism.

It is evident that to ensure concessionaires' profitability, they were allowed high tariff rates and more than adequate federal government guarantees to loans that the rakyat has to ultimately pay for.

The rakyat has to now pay high water rates, and Malaysian taxpayers are forced to underwrite the risk of Syabas' business. We call upon Tuanku to remind the federal government of their promise to end cronyism.

With the mandate that is given by the people, the Selangor state government is committed to ensure their interests are protected. The Selangor state government ensures that the water services industry will be managed in the best manner possible for the benefit of the people through its taking over of the water services industry.

Thus the Selangor state government together with the people have placed their hopes in supporting this important motion.

It is the people's hope that this issue will be given serious attention by Duli Yang Maha Mulia Tuanku. The people thank Duli Yang Maha Mulia Tuanku for the attention that has been given.

Thank You
Daulat Tuanku
Dec 5, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Your credit card - welcome to ePickPocket

What you are about to see concerns you and everyone who has a credit card in his wallet, handbag or purse. The data on your card can be stolen electronically without you even knowing it, and the person doing it could be standing beside you in a crowded place. Welcome to ePickPocket! I hope our thieves here don't get wise to the idea.

Click the following link to see video:

Our PDRM and Hong Kong Police - the difference

From the pictures below, you tell me which police force shows more professionalism in crowd control, especially when it involves street protesters.

THE HONG KONG POLICE: The police personnel would line the route to be taken by the protesters and not only to ensure orderliness of the participants but are there to provide any assistance that may be required. Special attention will be given to female protesters and the ageds.

The people of Hong Kong protesting against the Chinese government for confiding Nobel-prized winner and Chinese dissident, Liu Xiaobu. Notice the position of the police personnel.

The people of Hong Kong stood together with their Palestian friends in the "End Gaza Seige" march. Again, notice the position of the police personnel.

OUR POLICE DIRAJA MALAYSIA: What more can we say that have not already been said?

They clobber you

They drench you with chemical laced water


Royalty Extraordinaire, that is Raja Zarith Sofia Sultan Idris Shah

This account was written by Dr Lim Teck Ghee of the Centre for Policy Initiatives.

With their front page headlines highlighting developments on the massive Sime loss, readers of the country's two main English papers may not have noticed the news report of the speech by Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris Shah, the consort of the Sultan of Johor, which was buried in the inner pages.

The occasion of the speech was a conference on 'Voices of Peace, Conscience and Reason' held on Nov 16 in Kuala Lumpur. The prime mover of the meeting in which I participated as a panelist was PCORE, a group that is representative of Malaysians who embrace and share the notion of peace as the way forward to achieve unity and integration.

Credit must go to the PCORE leadership for bringing together a diverse mix of young and older people from different backgrounds to voice their frank concerns on current issues and developments in the country.

For me the real star of the conference was Raja Zarith Sofiah. Readers who missed the news item may be interested in the excerpt from the news report of her speech.

"In her keynote address at the Voices of Peace, Conscience and Reason conference, she described the use of 'pendatang' to describe non-Bumiputeras as "hurtful and ignorant", and that more discussions were needed to address and resolve the gulf between ethnic and religious communities.

"Rather than simplify and shy away from sensitive issues, we should fight destructive rhetoric with constructive dialogue. It is shameful when apparently educated and mature individuals use such terms or suggest fellow Malaysians go back to where they came from.

Describing her own ancestral background as a mix between Sumatran and Peranakan Chinese, she said it was important to recognise the diversity of Malaysian society, brought about by centuries of interracial and interfaith marriages and communication." (New Straits Times, Nov 17, 2010)

This open and proud acknowledgment of her mixed ancestral background is quite unprecedented. It puts to shame the way in which many of our leaders who have a similar mixed ancestry either try to hide or suppress the inconvenient truth, or engage in flaunting or agitating a mono-ethnic or religious stance as if this has been part of their, and the country's DNA from time immemorial.

Raja Zarith Sofiah's speech was much more than what was reported in the newspapers. It also covered her personal experience and thinking on religions and the importance for Muslims to learn about other cultures and religions and their heritage.

She spoke from the heart, simply and without the need for any convoluted intellectual argument or high sounding clichés to drive home the importance of cherishing and protecting the country that belongs to all of us -- highly or lowly born; brown, yellow or black; and worshipping one, many or no god.

Readers may not be aware of the wide ranging accomplishments and interests of Raja Zarith Sofiah. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Master's Degree from Oxford University (her BA is in Chinese Studies). Besides Malay and English, she is able to communicate in Mandarin, Italian and French. She is a patron of the arts, an artist and author who has written children's books including Puteri Gunung Ledang. She is also the columnist of The Star's 'Mind Matters' column, and let out that her articles are being put together in book form soon.

Although I am a republican at heart, logic tells me that we may need the type of monarchy she personifies more than ever to hold the country together and to remind us of our common humanity. With her and other royalty who care for the country in the way she does, there is greater hope that the nation can overcome the racial and religious demons that torment us.

Finally, I should point out that I was privileged to sit at her table where I and others -- during the lunch chit-chat on topics ranging from how the handphone and Skype have transformed our lives to the inconvenience of sleep apnea - learnt that she has sleepless nights thinking about the predicament of our country and our people, and wondering how best she can be of service. The insomnia that troubles her, I am sure, also afflicts all of us concerned about the way ahead for the country.

[Source: CPI]

Sunday, December 5, 2010

This is the person whose neck many Selangorians would like to wring. Mark his name, Rozali Ismail, CEO of SYABAS, the water company who is going to make many people in the state much more poorer with his proposed water tariff 37% hike. The aim of the Selangor state government is to de-privatise the company so that the people will not have to bear the burden of the new tariff should it gets approved by the government. What is most unforgiving is that this guy earns a salary of RM425,000 per month, yes PER MONTH which is 19 times more than the salary of the prime minister, at RM22,826.65 a month. To rub salt into the wound, he is heading a debt-ridden company to the tune of RM2.9b. Don't these people have anymore CONSCIENCE left in them?

One more thing. This "Ketuanan Melayu" Rozali is the former branch Treasurer of UMNO. Now you see where we are heading?

Latest video : Demo for water right

Selangorians stood up for their water !!!

If UMNO regain Selangor, we will pay more for our water. The rot has to stop.

Tear gas, water canons fired at Pakatan crowd protesting SYABAS bailout

For the unbelievers - look again at the depth of the crowd!
Police fired tear gas and water cannons at some 10,000 people comprising mostly Pakatan Rakyat supporters trying to hand over a memorandum to the King to protest the federal government's bailout of SYABAS, a water distribution firm controlled by Umno crony Rozali Ismail.

Among Pakatan leaders who came to appeal to the King to advise Prime Minister Najib Razak to return the water rights of the Selangor people back to their state government were PKR deputy-president Azmin Ali, Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, state exco Dr Xavier Jeyakumar and DAP MP for Klang Charles Santiago.

DAP's Ronnie Liu, PAS MP for Kuala Selangor Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad, PKR vice president Tian Chua and youth leader Badrul Hisham were also present.

Was this necessary? The crowd was huge but clearly peaceful
The pro-Pakatan crowd gathered at the Masjid Negara or National Mosque, while another group led by a pro-Umno NGO had made Merdeka Stadium or the National Stadium its base.

SYABAS raised tariffs

Selangor MB Khalid told the cheering crowd more than 250,000 people had already signed the petition to the King. SYABAS had also increased tariff by 37 percent last year, Khalid revealed, turning the applause into loud boos for the firm and Rozali.

The SYABAS chief has been accused of arrogant behavior and unabashed courtship of top Umno leaders to support his plans for monopolizing the state's water rights.

The Pakatan protesters had gathered at the National Mosque since 9am and began their march to the Palace a few kilometres away at about 1.30pm.

Return to us our rights
They were approaching the railway station when Federal Reserve Unit personnel blocked their way. But they refused to retreat, shouting 'Hidup Rakyat' and appealing to the police to let them pass as it was a peaceful march.

However, the police retaliated by firing round after round of tear gas and chemical-laced water at them, forcing many to scamper for cover.

Earlier in the day, police had set up roadblocks leading to the Palace in anticipation of the rally. They also guarded the maze of small roads in the vicinity of the National Mosque, where thousands had gathered to await word from the organizers to begin the walk to the Palace.

City police chief Datuk Zulkifli Abdullah told reporters he had informed Khalid that the march had not been approved. His men have picked up at least three people for questioning in connection with the protest.

[Source: Malaysia Chronicle]