21 December 2012

Malays Exist Even During Prehistoric Times


www.kopihangtuah.blogspot.com


Malays were believed to have been evolved from humans migrated from the Southern China/Tibetian region. How true is that theory?

ALAYS were believed to have been evolved from a Northern species of humans migrated from the Southern China/Tibetian region. Such was the conclusion reached back in the 1930's as supported by archaeological findings. How true is that theory? What we must not deny is that scientific conclusions derived from scientific findings are often, if not, mostly, based on a set of assumptions that was conveniently inserted into the equation for a simple reason such as "to fill in the missing pieces". In my past blog post, I supported this theory on the grounds of knowledge being passed down to me by the elderly parties. The danger with this approach is that we unnecessarily create a myopic view that blinds us from the possibilities of other explanations that may lend better credibility in our quest for the truth. A good analogy would be to assume that the world is flat given that water falls at cliffs by the rivers in the absence of the theory of gravity in the centre core of a sphere Earth.

After much debate with fellow bloggers and readings of various researches (the best being Tamadun Alam Melayu by M.A. Ishak in 2009 as published by Persatuan Sejarah Malaysia), I now have doubts over the theory of migrants from the North. It seems that there are new empirical evidences that suggest that Malays exist in the Southeast Asian region even during prehistoric times alongside the Negritos. Southeast Asia is believed to have been one large block of land which later broke up to form the Malay Archipelago following rises in sea levels three times from 14,000 to 8,000 years ago (findings by Stephen Oppenheimer in 2001 in his book Eden in the East, also quoted in the New Straits Times on 7 November 2012). Some of the Negroids from Africa arrived in Southeast Asia about 70,000 years ago and settled in without the evolution in their genetics. Their descendants are the aboriginals of Papua New Guinea and Australia as well as the Negritos that we see in Malaysia.

Instead of man travelling from the North to Southeast Asia, it is now believed that man travelled from Southeast Asia to the North. The African originated people travelled North and underwent genetic evolution that resulted in them mutating into the Tibetans, Thais, Koreans, Japanese and Chinese. This suddenly creates an equation whereby Southeast Asians are the subset of Africans and Orientals are the subset of Southeast Asians. A DNA study conducted in Asia in 2009 revealed otherwise. Coupled with historical records from China, the earlier theory of migration from North to South still is supportable. Perhaps movements happened in both directions?

"... at least 3 major religions implied that man originated from middle Earth (i.e. African - Middle Eastern region). They are Islam, Christianity and Judaism"

From logic point of view, the evidences that concluded migration from South to North ought to be the more reasonable conclusion of human evolution on the basis that chronologically, it should have happened earlier on the account of the 'One Large Block of Land' theory. For all you know, the migration from North to South may have been warranted by political movements. Another evidence of Malays being more ancient from the Orientals would be the diversity in the Malay Language whereby it is recorded to be of highest diversity suggesting ancient effects of evolution.

There has been no historical account of Malays migrating from anywhere. DNA studies suggest that human DNAs in Southeast Asia are much older than its counterparts in the North. This can only mean that Malays may have evolved from a more ancient species of African origin, only to be separated from the main land when the so called 'One Large Block of Land' broke into the Malay Archipelago causing the Malays to be maritime masters. The maritime skills eventually spread the Malays onto the Pacific Islands currently known as the Polynesians and Micronesians as well as onto Indian Ocean Islands particularly Madagascar. This theory is readily supportable by DNA studies resulting in the coupled term "Malayo-Polynesian".


"... conclude that man migrated from Africa - Middle East region to the Malay Archipelago and then to the North"

Like many other theories formed from findings, this thoughts on the Malay origin needs to be carefully analysed. It has deep implications in defining who the inhabitants of this land called Malaysia from chronological perspective. It has bearing in determining who formed the first effective government and it has political implications with respect to indigenous provisions. On the account of historical records, we concluded that man migrated and evolved from North to South. From geographical and DNA studies, we concluded that man migrated from Africa to Southeast Asian and then to the North. In the absence of believable evidence, we tend to fall back on faith. Well, from religion point of view, at least 3 major religions implied that man originated from middle Earth (i.e. African - Middle Eastern region). They are Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

The Muslims believe that Adam and Hawa (Eve) were expelled from the heavens only to land at what we now refer to as Saudi Arabia and India. The Jewish and Christian records of their prophets (Noah & Abraham) suggest that the early civilisations of Sumeria, Arcadia, Assyria, Mesopotamia and Babylon emerged in the middle region of what is currently referred to as Iraq. With such biblical influence, it is probably more religious to conclude that man migrated from Africa - Middle East region to the Malay Archipelago and then to the North. Whatever the truth is, what is more encouraging is that Malays existed long enough to have established the great empires of the Malay Archipelago and will continue to be the inhabitants of this region. In the fine words of a Malay warrior, Hang Tuah, "Ta' Melayu Hilang Di Dunia" (Extinct Not, The Malays).


In the fine words of a Malay warrior, Hang Tuah, "Ta' Melayu Hilang Di Dunia" (Extinct Not, The Malays).





* kopihangtuah



(Note: Most information in this article was sourced from the New Straits Times article "Malay Origins : Evidence Suggests Otherwise" by A.I. Kuala Lumpur, published on 7 November 2012)


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20 December 2012

Quit Ciggy : The 6th Month Milestone


www.kopihangtuah.blogspot.com




".... my devotion has somewhat made me a better quiter than before..."


OO HOO!!! This Christmas marks the 6th month milestone of my quit ciggy attempt. At this rate, I wouldn't call it an attempt anymore.... I call it a success!! Although, the last time I quit (in 1999) I started again after 2 years. There is no guarantee. However, I must say that the environment surrounding me is conducive in maintaining this quit ciggy life style. Why? Well, I don't go for clubbing anymore and my devotion to running mini marathons have somewhat made me a better quiter than before. How's that for a change. Be a quiter! for a good sake.

Anyway, I must confess. It is a terrible feeling battling the craving. For a 24 years smoker like me (started at the age of 14!!!), cold turkey is just,... freggin blastard turkey it is. Every end of meal and every toilet visit rings the tobacco bells. It is (was) a psychotic experience. Mood swings. High coffee intake. Food becomes substitute. Increase in weight.... the whole works. The worst would be when I visited my alma mater for an old boy weekend - surrounded by old friends who are in their 25th year of being a smoker. Even today I still have that tiny bit of craving but negligeable as it is easily extinguished with just a sip of Nescafe. With that, I therefore award myself the highest award there is for courage shown battling all these evil forces! I declare myself, a Non-Smoker!


There is a third dimension! (after Second Hand Smokers), ... Third Hand Smokers (THS), refers to the inhaling or ingestion through dermal exposure of smokes that stick to the hair, skin, clothes, furniture, wall, carpet, accesories in the car, and mony other surfaces, of which, infants, children and housewives are the primary victims


To stay tough in my course. I try to read more about negative effects of smoking cigarettes. Recently I stumbled upon a fantastic article regarding this in The New Straits Times 16 November 2012 entitled "Give Smoking a Miss". It was an article by the Ministry of Health under their "Tak nak! Merokok" campaign (i.e. means "Say No! to Smoking"). Some of the salient points worth sharing with everyone are as follows:

1. Cigarettes contain 6,000 types of poison. Some of them are Nicotine (insecticide), Butane (lighter fluid), Cromium (batteries), Stearic Acid (candle wax), Hexamine (barbeque lighter), Toluene (industrial solvent), Ammonia (toilet cleaner), Methanol (rocket fuel), Carbon Monoxide (car exhaust), Arsenic (poison), Methane (sewer gas) and Acetic Acid (vinegar).

2. The cost borne by the Government to treat only 3 diseases - heart attack, lung cancer & cronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)- caused by smoking has topped more than RM3 million a year.

3. According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), the tobacco use prevalence rate in Malaysia is 23.1% and 4.7 million adults, aged 15 and above, are currently smokers. Overall, those aged between 25 to 44 made up the highest percentage of tobacco product users at 29%. At 54.9%, male smokers formed the largest group in the same category.

4. Smoking damages gene p53 that causes cancers of lungs, pancreas, esophagus, throat, bladder, stomach and colon.

5. 50% of smokers die due to tobacco-related illness. Smokers have 70% to 200% more risk of suffering coronary heart disease.

6. For passive smokers, the risk is 23% more than those who are not exposed to secondhand smoke. GATS revealed that more than 70% patrons at restaurants and eateries are exposed to secondhand smoke. There is a third dimension! Third Hand Smokers (THS), refers to the inhaling or ingestion through dermal exposure of smokes that stick to the hair, skin, clothes, furniture, wall, carpet, accesories in the car, and mony other surfaces, of which, infants, children and housewives are the primary victims. THS accumulates over time and cannot be be cleaned by the usual cleaning method.

7. 40 types of illnesses related to tobacco. Some of them are heart attack, cancers, COPD, Mycrobacterium Tuberculosis, loss of bone mineral density, Osteoporosis, hip fractures, discoloration of nails, vision problems, Periodontitis, depression and premature birth.

8. Smoking reduces the quality of life as smokers get hooked to addiction. They'll have bad breath and bad smelling clothes. They will look older and have stained teeth. They will be prone to short of breath and face the risk of impotency.

9. The habits of smokers who expose other people to their cigarette are against the tenet of Islam. Worse still, those exposed are their children and family members. Worst would be, those who are exposed get ill and demonstrate mortality.


So my friends, who are still smokers, join me. Quit smoking. Love your lives. Love your children's lives. Love your families' lives. With that realisation of love, you will clearly see that it makes a lot of sense to quit smoking. I challenge you! It is possible as I have mentioned earlier, a 24 years smoker like me can do it. Surely you are more superior than me. You can do it. As the Ministry of Health put it "Tak nak! Merokok".



* kopihangtuah



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13 November 2012

Happy Deepavali




07 October 2012

Elephantman in Malaysia




www.kopihangtuah.blogspot.com



Yusof “Gajah”, the reference many art scholars in Malaysia are familiar with in the realm of art academia. He is the epitome “naïve” art icon.


Elephantman is here in Malaysia. He has always been here. He is Yusof “Gajah”, the reference many art scholars in Malaysia are familiar with in the realm of naive art. He is the epitome “naïve” art icon. A visual art advocate who rides the “naïve” art genre like no other has in this country. Yusof only paints elephants (“Gajah” in Bahasa Malaysia). Even if you think there are no elephants in his work, look again. It’s there. Look deeper like how you would in Where’s Waldo. A full 4 feet by 4 feet oil painting of forest or underwater scenery may seem to be elephant-less but you’ll be amazed at where the elephants are positioned (example: in the bubbles coming out from the mouth of fish). Try to look for an elephant in this  masterpiece (on the right) . Yusof intends to keep this work not for sale.

“Well, an elephant is divine to the Indians, symbolizes wealth to the Chinese and for Malays, who are predominantly Muslim, it reminds us of the year our Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. was born, the Year of Elephant of the Arabic records... " said Yusof "Gajah"

When asked about this weird habit, his answer was, “Well, all my work must have a Gajah (elephant). If there are none, those are not from my own creative mind. It may have been work commissioned by some of my clients who is fed up of Gajah. Hahaha… ”. His devotion, or rather, obsession with elephants has categorised him within the “naïve” art genre. Naïve art is a form of playful art that goes against logical boundaries. For example, an apple that is not round but square in shape. In other words, art work that perhaps a child would have thought of. Wikipedia defines Naïve Art as a classification of art that is often characterised by a childlike simplicity in its subject matter and technique. While many naïve artists appear, from their works, to have little or no formal art training, this is often not true. Yusof is one of the veteran artists who had early training at art cottage Anak Alam alongside other national art heroes such as Dato’ Johan Jaaffar (journalism and theatre activist). As mentioned earlier, Yusof “Gajah” is a reference in many art faculties of tertiary institutions such as UiTM and USM. When asked what he thinks about that, he jokingly answered, “Its an honor to be a reference. I was told that if students forget to make reference to Yusof "Gajah" for naive art, they'll end up failing their thesis. Hahahaha”.

Kak Zakiah, his wife, used to be a civil servant in the Transport Department, has opted to retire early from civil service and decided to be the marketing mind for Yusof. She says Yusof lack pricing strategy for his valuable art works. The combination of the two, creative and commercial values have resulted in an entrepreneurship that promises economic value in what Yusof "Gajah" does. His oil/acrylic/water colour paintings, wood sculptures, pewter pieces, illustrated story books along with other merchandises (of Gajah) such as mugs and tshirts has allowed them to enjoy a steady source of income not only locally but from foreign countries such as Korea, Scandinavia and Indonesia. He is also famous amongst the foreign consulates/ambassadors in Malaysia. To add, his wife, Zakiah has also started to do Batik (of Gajah as well).

“Its an honor to be a reference especially when students forget to make reference to me, they ended up failing their thesis. Hahahaha” said Yusof "Gajah" jokingly

As a mark of recognition, Yusof received a gold medal for the 1996 Grand Prix Award for Asia Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO. His success was on the back of his creative illustrative kids story book series that feature various animal caricature characters including, of course, a Gajah. I was privileged enough to be invited to his house (also his studio) where he shared with me many of his work that he dearly kept as his own collection as well as those still in progress for his clients. Yusof tends to shy away from galleries. His clients come to his house to buy his work. However, he aspires to own his own gallery (which will materialize soon in Plaza Damas) and also have his own museum.

In my conversation with him, I asked, “Why Gajah? Why not Cat? Or something close to the Malaysian story such as Tapir, or Tigers?”. He said, “Well, an elephant is divine to the Indians, symbolizes wealth to the Chinese and for Malays, who are predominantly Muslim, it reminds us of the year our Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. was born, the Year of Elephant of the Arabic records. By the way, my son has taken cat as his “naïve” icon”. I then joked with him, “Can I then use Cacing (worm)? So I can become Mat Cacing”. He suggested, with sincerity, “Why not Mat Nombor (Numbers)? After all you are an accountant”. In my mind, what a brilliant idea! I might just do that (painting work involving numbers).

It so happens that that day was my birthday and as a result, Yusof “Gajah” gave me a birthday present, a pewter necklace with an elephant pendant. Brilliant! What an honor to receive an iconic present from an iconic artist, Mr Yusof “Gajah”. Before I left, my eyes gravitated towards a very powerful piece on his wall. It was an abstract of an elephant in purple and orange from Yusof’s Fun Series. Purple is playful and orange is passionate (for me that is). The marriage of the two colours gave birth to a “Sexy” feeling. What is more appropriate is that the company I work for has purple and orange as its corporate colours. So, as it was preordained to happen, that piece was acquired by the company as a gift to YAB Prime Minister Najib Razak during the launch of the company (MyCreative Ventures Sdn. Bhd.) - an honour for the man they call Yusof “Gajah”.




As a mark of recognition, Yusof received a gold medal for the 1996 Grand Prix Award for Asia Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO. 




* kopihangtuah



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30 September 2012

Kufi: An Islamic Contemporary Art Movement


www.kopihangtuah.blogspot.com







"Art must contribute to the betterment of humanity and it has to be important" quoted by Shukor Yahya, the Kufi Rhapsody

ALAYSIAN DESIGN DEVELOPMENT CENTRE ('DDEC') Design Summit 2012 was held on 24 September 2012. There were many cool presenters at that seminar touching the different aspects of designs such as product designs, computer images, automotive and more. One presenter caught my attention: Mr Shukor Yahya, a true genius in Islamic Art who saw the potential in Kufi.

Shukor is Kufi Rhapsody. Shukor had travelled in many countries including Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, India, Bangladesh, South Africa, Greece, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, England, Wales, the USA, Switzerland and China. With such vast experience, Shukor has developed a profound love for art to the point that he quoted "Art must contribute to the betterment of humanity and it has to be important". When Shukor started painting seriously, he revived the art of Kufi square and quickly earned a reputation for his unique approach in painting. His individuality in style makes many art enthusiasts mesmerized by the contemporary works produced by him over the years.

Shukor shared the history of Kufi. Kufi is a font developed by Timo Khan, son of Kublai Khan, who ruled Samarkhand. The local (Samarkhand) culture back then was very diverse and rich encompassing many interactions between Arabs, Urdus, Chinese, Persians and many more. This exchange gave birth to Kufi whereby cultures of these different people were synergised into a simplified artistic font. Timo later embraced Islam and the rest was history as far as Kufi's development is concerned. It flourished. This history is evidenced by an ancient furniture that was found with Chinese lettering in Kufic style. It was a wonder about which one came first, the Arabic Kufic or the Chinese and how the two cultures had influenced each other to make up a Kufi square.

"Art is the ultimate expression of human soul. It tells the tales long past and dreams the future" quoted by Shukor Yahya, the Kufi Rhapsody

Shukor has now commercialised Kufi. He went further to expand the horizons of Kufi from a simple Islamic Art to product designs such as Caran'd Ache watches. His creativity landed him Eastern Art prizes (Annya Sand Pize) naming him one of the top 15 best emerging artists in Asia. Kufi is unique in that it requires some knowledge for its appreciation. One has to know arabic alphabets in order to read it phonetically. Arabic is read from left to right. This is the same for Kufi except that the left to right goes further spiraling inwards clockwise in the Kufi square.

Shukor is passionate and hopes that Malaysian culture will some day incorporate Kufi to a more pervasive manner. Until then, he will continue to drive Kufi with his sincere passion. He ended his presentation with "Art is the ultimate expression of human soul. It tells the tales long past and dreams the future". To give a final gimmick punch to this all, he cheekily added "Picasso, your time is out. It's Kufi's time now". For those who wants to experience Shukor's Kufi, The National Visual Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, is currently showing the "Power, Hope and Land" art exhibition, beginning from 7th August until 19th November, 2012, at Gallery 2B; featuring some of Shukor's work. Alternatively, you can visit his web site at shukoryahya.blogspot.com

He (Shukor Yahya Kufi Rhapsody) cheekily added "Picasso, your time is out. It's Kufi's time now"




* kopihangtuah



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Ramli Ibrahim Gave New Life to Traditional Indian Dance


www.kopihangtuah.blogspot.com




TARIKAN by SUTRA DANCE THEATRE:
Sutra Foundation presents Tarikan. Redefining Contemp Modern Dance from Asian perspective. Date/Time: 29/8/2012 – 2/9/2012 8:30PM – 11PM; Venue: Pentas 2, klpac. For more information: www.sutrafoundation.org.my



AMLI IBRAHIM presents Tarikan, redefining contemporary dance with traditional values. This was what went on in my mind when I attended the Tarikan dance show at KLPac yesterday. I had never experienced an Indian traditional dance show and this was my first. Wasn't sure what to expect or feel, but afterwards, it all makes sense. Being an art advocate, I was obliged to experience the different flavours artists can offer, only to discover that that obligation presented a memorable delightful experience of a First Timer! It was as if I was tasting olives for the first time - mysteriously weird with a pleasant after taste. Let me tell you why.

I love performing arts but traditional dance did not get my attention in the past. My recent encounters with Ramli Ibrahim presented me with the opportunity to understand traditional arts further. In this case, Indian dances. Ramli quoted ".... this is serious art" and I went ".... ya Michael Jackson was also serious". Little did I realise that "serious" means richness in aesthetic value. This (aesthetic value), I find in Tarikan. Ramli was kind enough to extend me an invitation for the show. I thank you (Ramli). I took it upon myself from that point that I should never assume what I'd feel before I actually give myself the chance to experience it (whatever it may be). So for those of you out there who have never experienced a traditional dance show, give yourselves the chance and go for Tarikan at KLPac.

Anyway, the lights went off and a buzzing sound (Hindu/Buddhist style) started getting louder by the second simultaneously followed by defined lighting that gets brighter every second at positions highlighting dancers. And they started to dance. Very gracefully. Moves that you don't think humans can make. It was as if an invisible giant child was playing with a doll flexing the arms and legs in unimaginable directions a human body could do. The dancers were not in traditional Hindu dresses but in contemporary costumes. This was the first departure from my perception of what this lot was all about. At this stage, the moves following the traditional Gamelan tunes were still quite within my expectations of a traditional Indian dance.

Then I realised that the series of dances performed seem to tell a story. You can almost create a story of your own by choosing the different dancers as different characters in your imaginary saga. This is possible because in the ocean of synchronised movements, ad hoc break ups by each dancers performing their unique movements gave character to each dancers. You can almost fit in a love story into the whole set. The choreography further metamorphosed from ethnic-influenced movements into a more passionate, exotic and erotic movements. A hybrid of traditional, gymnastics and contemporary dancing. This added flavour and meaning to it all. Ever watched Philadephia? The scene when Tom Hanks was appreciating the opera song while Danzel was observing him? Yeah! I was Tom Hanks practically - "appreciating".

In the midst of all that anticipated traditional Indian dance movement which was rejuvenated by the contemporary fusion of modern and sensual movements, suddenly, a rocker with an electric guitar appeared by the side! Wow! In my mind, what is going on here? Kurt Cobain just woke up from being dead? The rocker started to strum and play mini solos with distortions enough to preserve the rock elements but yet flowing nicely alongside the rhythms of the Gamelan. The dance moves seem to evolve into an interesting recipe of accommodating the influences of the battling Gamelan and electric guitar. Imagine trying to dance Salsa with a Metallica tune? It's a paradox really. It sounded impossible but hey! Indian traditional dance with electric guitar rocky music elements! It works! Fantastic!

So in conclusion, Tarikan is an eye opener. It is an evolution. An aesthetic value that truly upholds the need to move in the same wavelength with the changing environment. It epitomises the spirit of contemporary art and gives new life to ancient creation. It is simply refreshing. A surprise even. It is creative - Full Stop. Syabas! Ramli and his crew.





* kopihangtuah



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Quit Ciggy


www.kopihangtuah.blogspot.com





My boy, aged 7, once said "Daddy, why do you smoke? Do you know that people die because of smoking?" I then remembered when I was 7, I said the same thing to my Dad. He quit. So I quit.

UITING smoking (cigarettes) is not the easiest effort around. For a non-smoker, it may seem a no brainer. For smokers, they suffer beyond words battling against their addiction, their psychological corrupted state of mind and against pleasure that they enjoy. I suppose many bad habits are pleasures in life - to name a few: alcohol, fatty food, carbonated drinks and many more. To give up something that you actually have pleasure in is definitely soul suffering endeavour. It is a puzzling phenomenon indeed. Why did God create these pleasures when they are forbidden? Let's not get into this religious debate right now and concentrate on the "efforts" to quit smoking. But if you must (answer the question), perhaps accept this as a closure for the time being: The cosmic needs to be balanced, Good vs Evil, Ying and Yang,.. and the like.

I smoked cigarettes for 24 years since the age of 13. I tried to quit 10 years ago but lost the battle. Smoking was too good to be sacrificed. What more when you go clubbing and socialise with friends, artists and youngsters. Also when it help calms you down when stressed at work. This year, after running the 10km Standard Chartered KL Marathon, I decided to quit. It was a natural decision. The first 5km of the run was easy but the final 5km was torturing. There was only one reason, my lungs were unfit with capacity limited to the remaining alveolus (not quite sure how to spell this). I had just upgraded my runs from 5km to 10km. I aim to improve further to 21km and hope to climb Mount Kinabalu. None of these can be achieved if I don't expand my lungs' capacity. That will power that I was lacking 10 years ago had found a new recipe: the urge to be able to run and climb.

6 million people die each year due to the global tobacco epidemic, of which, 600,000 will die from second hand smoke. If the tobacco epidemic continues, by 2030 it will kill 8 million people globally

There are many other motivational reasons to quit. Your wife and kids who share the same house with you breathe in the second hand smoke. You expose them to a risky environment. If they get lung cancer, I don't think you can live your life peacefully (mentally) for the remaining pathetic life of yours. My boy, aged 7, once said "Daddy, why do you smoke? Do you know that people die because of smoking?" I then remembered when I was 7, I said the same thing to my Dad. He quit. So I quit. Here, we establish that not only the health of your family is at stake, you own life is at stake as well! Recently I read in an article that the Guinness Book of World Records declared that the rubbish most littered by humans are cigarette butts. With that declaration, smokers not only pollute the air, they also pollute the landscape. Not good for the environment. Conclusion would be: Love your self. Love your family. Love the environment. Love life itself.

Recently I got a pamphlet from the National Cancer Council, MAKNA, that revealed some interesting facts about smoking as researched by the World Health Organization ('WHO'). Some of the facts are:

1. Tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death
2. 6 million people die each year due to the global tobacco epidemic
3. Of which, 600,000 will die from second hand smoke
4. If the tobacco epidemic continues, by 2030 it will kill 8 million people
5. Direct smoking doubles the risk of heart attack
6. Second hand smoke increases the risk by 30%
7. Banning smoking had been proven to reduce threat of heart attacks

It is a criminal offence to smoke in these areas (designated non smoking areas) whereby non compliance can result in fine up to RM10,000 or 2 years of imprisonment

The World Tobacco Day 2012 celebrated on Thursday 31 May 2012 was a platform to train policy-makers and the public to fight against tobacco industry on centre stage to have a better control on the epidemic. Currently the tobacco industry is unwilling to support efforts to fight smoking habits such as the pictorial health warning on cigarette boxes. They even opted to sue countries under bilateral investment treaties that claim the warning is intruding in their branding.

What other ways can we do to stop this bad habit (smoking)? Banning? A study done by the American College of Cardiology published in a journal on 29 September 2009 revealed that banning can reduce threat of heart attacks by 26% which is approximately 15,400 heart attacks annually (in the USA). In Malaysia, banning started in the 1980's and has gradually taken momentum. To date, areas where smoking is banned are: work offices, hospitals/clinics, lifts and toilets, air-conditioned restaurants, public transport, government premises, educational institution, petrol stations, internet cafes and shopping complexes. It is a criminal offence to smoke in these areas whereby non compliance can result in fine up to RM10,000 or 2 years of imprisonment.

In 1604 King James I of England published an anti-smoking treatise that had the effect of raising taxes on tobacco. In 1633 the Ottoman Sultan Murad IV prohibited smoking in his empire

The act of banning smoking is not new. It is only natural that a responsible government ban smoking critically. In the past, many precedent cases suggest that this is not a new battle. In 1575 the Mexican Ecclesiastical Council forbade the use of tobacco in any church in Mexico and Spanish colonies. In 1604 King James I of England published an anti-smoking treatise that had the effect of raising taxes on tobacco. In 1633 the Ottoman Sultan Murad IV prohibited smoking in his empire. In 1590 the Pope Urban VII also prohibited smoking in the Church, followed by Urban VIII. With such regulatory enforcement in place, some smokers still openly reject the ban on smoking in enclosed public areas. Perhaps the police force is busy fighting other crimes such as narcotics and bank robberies?

For years cigarette companies have been claiming that there are no scientific evidence that smoking causes cancer. This can now be put to end. Shocking new research (from the MAKNA-WHO pamphlet) reveals that a specific type of lung cancer many smokers develop comes from tiny tears in their lung tissues caused by microscopic glass fibers, also known as glass wool, found in many conventional cigarette filters. These rips in the soft tissue fuel the development of tumors and cancerous cells due to the constant overload of toxins, namely pesticides, nicotine and ammonia, contained in commercial cigarette smoke.

So you smokers out there. Have I adequately convinced you that you ought to quit smoking? I have used various motivational reasons ranging from hobby to family and from history to scientific discoveries. Perhaps the next step is to seek devine intervention - simply put, no religion in this world allows its followers to commit suicide. Smoking cigarette is, technically speaking, committing suicide. A friend whose wife works at a cancer research organisation once told me "The biological battle when quiting cigarette smoking is only for 2 weeks, after which, there are no more chemical reactions that can cause withdrawal syndroms. Therefore, any craving beyond 2 weeks is just in the mind.". So guys, just try it (quiting smoking). Once you breach the 2 weeks barrier, you should be able to sustain your efforts. I know you can do it - because today, I have quit for 3 months and I feel good!


The biological battle when quiting cigarette smoking is only for 2 weeks, after which, there are no more chemical reactions that can cause withdrawal syndroms. Therefore, any craving beyond 2 weeks is just in the mind






* kopihangtuah



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18 August 2012

How Lay Men Should Comprehend Danaharta


www.kopihangtuah.blogspot.com



We were not prepared to sacrifice our country to the bloody economic hitmen, and there was Danaharta

anaharta was born out of our (Malaysians) desperation to save the country without selling our souls to the devils. Many neighbouring countries had to bow to the superpowers that tempted them with financial aids to remedy their greatest recessions that haunted the South East Asian countries back in 1997/1998. Malaysia decided to go against the current. We (Malaysians) said ".... to hell with IMF". We were not prepared to sacrifice our country to the bloody economic hitmen. We deviced our own medicine. We took the responsibility to safeguard our nation...... and there was Danaharta.

Recently, while clearing the cabinet at my office, I found the Final Report for Danaharta that reports its life story from 1998 to 2005. Danaharta's shout of excellence printed in the report gave me the feeling of satisfaction - that we saved the country without taking aids from the financial superpowers of the world. In short, the success story is narrated as follows:

The 1997 economic crisis roiled the country's banking system. Set up to help avert the collapse of the banking system, Danaharta brought relief to beleaguered banks. Danaharta dealt with 2,902 NPL accounts and from an NPL portfolio of RM50 billion, recovered RM30 billion - Recovery Rate of 58% surpassing the typical 20 - 50% experienced internationally.

For most of the citizens, understanding what Danaharta represents may be a bit difficult. Not all of us are bankers. Not all of us are accountants. Some of us who are teachers, shop owners, sales men or any other professions that do not revolve around money management wouldn't have a clue what the above paragraph means from a national pride perspective. They do not (and did not - back in 1998) realise that the country was saved from modern economic slavery. So, how do we ('non-monetary-professioned' citizens) comprehend Danaharta? Let me attempt to explain.

Basically, Malaysian banking system was about to go bankrupt when the recession hit many shores globally, including Malaysia. 1997 was not a good year indeed. Our banks had too many low quality loans, i.e. those with poor payment behaviours. These are called Non-Performing Loans ('NPL'). With almost all Malaysian banks owning high level NPLs in their loan portfolios, they were about to lose it all. Borrowers' businesses got hit by the economic turmoil. Loan repayment obligations were not being honoured.

We could have ended with a puppet government whose balls gripped by the hands of those economic hitmen.

Had these local banks collapse, Malaysia would have been swamped by international banks, such as Bank of America, and many other banks driven by the world superpowers. We would have been back under colonisation - only this time, through economic slavery instead of military. Something had to be done. The only path (other than selling our souls) was to save these banks with internal resources - with tax payers' money - a noble and patriotic decision. So, Danaharta was incorporated in 1998 to acquire all these NPLs at a discounted values from the local banks financed by the country's coffers which adds up to about RM3,000 million. Danaharta was to restructure these NPLs and recover as much as they can allowing the banks to concentrate on their business without the burden of NPLs. But of course, the banks had to take some hit. They took the hair cut of those NPLs being sold at a heavily discounted price to Danaharta.

On the surface, citizens of Malaysia expressed dissatisfaction on Government's exploitation of tax payers' money for this Danaharta venture. This anger was merely driven by political motives. What the citizen failed to understand is the mere fact that we liberalised our country from economic slavery. Had we taken loans from the International Monetary Fund ('IMF'), Malaysia would have been obliged to adhere to the terms and conditions of the financial assistance, which could have included, amongst others, IMF-tailored national policies on many important matters ranging from monetary, banking, development, military or even political agendas. We could have ended up with a puppet government whose balls gripped by the hands of those economic hitmen.

I do not intend to go into detailed banking calculations of bloody Rate of Returns, Recovery Rates, Net Present Values and other similar crappy financial jargons. But what I do want to share with you is the lay man's comprehension of what we, as the citizens of this beloved country, has collectively contributed to this success. To do this, we need 2 sets of data. First, the financial information from Danaharta. Second, a set of assumptions for hypothesis sake. Here goes:

1. Let us assume out of the 30 million population of Malaysia, one third are minors and one third are retired citizens. This assumption may not be correct but hey,... it is believeable though. let's just adopt this assumption anyway.

2. So, we have 10 million of the population earning income from their employment. Now, let's assume only one third have to pay taxes. So, we are down to 3 million. However, many of us, dishonestly and irresponsibly avoid taxes. So, let's say out of the 3 million, only 1 million actually pay taxes.

3. As extracted from Danaharta Final Report 1998 - 2005, the shareholders' funds stood at RM1,864 million. For those who are financial illiterate, shareholders' funds represent the money Danaharta has at the end of its lifespan in 2005. What this means is that, out of the RM3,000 million funds injected by the Government, from the country's coffers, we have lost RM1,135 million.

4. Simply take the RM1,135 million and divide by the 1 million tax payers. Each tax payer contributed RM1,135 over the lifespan of Danaharta of 8 years. This means that the contribution averages at about RM142 per year = RM12 per month.


Wow! that is simply magnificent! Imagine that! What we, tax payers, had to do was just pay RM12 per month for 8 years to save the country from being dragged into economic slavery that could have deprived us freedom forever. How's that compared to taking financial aids from superpowers such as IMF? Sure we suffered loss given that NPL recovery was not 100% and that our banks still had to take haircuts. However, on a bigger picture, that loss only represents RM12 per month for us who pays taxes. We get to keep our country away from economic colonial masters. What is RM12 really? If everyone of us stop buying pirated DVDs for 8 years, it would have meant nothing to us really! In fact, even if we did spend that RM12 elsewhere, an additional RM12 still means nothing... 6 cups of coffee per month... no big deal.

What we, tax payers, had to do was just pay RM12 per month for 8 years to save the country from being dragged into economic slavery that could have deprived us freedom forever... RM12 means nothing... 6 cups of coffee per month... no big deal!



* kopihangtuah



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