Saturday, February 28, 2009

3 UK varsities deny links to private school

3 UK varsities deny links to private school
Sun, Mar 01, 2009
The Straits Times

By Amelia Tan

A PRIVATE school has been ordered by three British universities to stop claiming links with them and to remove their logos from its website.

Lincoln School of Management, which offers distance-learning courses from Malaysian and Australian universities, was told two weeks ago to take down the logos of Coventry University, Napier University and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) from its website.

It did so on Wednesday. Before that, its website had listed the universities as Lincoln's 'partners', claiming that they were accepting its advanced diploma graduates for enrolment.

It also claimed that Lincoln's graduates could get credit exemptions at the three universities.

The three-year-old school has about 230 students enrolled in diploma, basic degree, master's and doctoral courses in fields such as nursing, international business and hospitality management.

Last week, British magazine Times Higher Education quoted the universities' spokesmen as denying any ties with Lincoln.

When The Straits Times met Lincoln's chief executive Adeling Tong at the school in Midlink Plaza in Middle Road on Wednesday, she said it 'previously had links' with the universities.

She produced Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) signed by the varsities' representatives in 2007 and last year. 'I had the understanding that since these documents were signed, we could list the universities as partners on our website and our students could also get course exemptions,' she said.

But the universities' spokesmen said the MOUs were not legally binding and did not represent any collaboration with Lincoln. UCLan's spokesman said: 'The signing of a non-legally binding MOU is a statement which acknowledges the presence of the institution with a possibility of future collaboration. However, no collaboration between UCLan and Lincoln has taken place.'

He added that the MOU did not exempt Lincoln students from UCLan modules and that all applications for entry would be considered on merit.

The universities informed Lincoln two weeks ago that since no official tie-up had been inked, it should remove their logos and course details from its website.

Coventry's pro vice-chancellor for international development David Pilsbury said: 'Coventry University simply requires that Lincoln did not market a relationship that did not exist legally or operationally, as this would disadvantage students.'

Ms Tong, when asked why Lincoln did not remove the logos immediately, said she was away in the past two weeks and was going to see to the matter on her return.

The universities' spokesmen said they are pleased the logos and course details have since been taken down.

Meanwhile, Lincoln's students seemed unaware of the exchange. Many said they did not even know their school had claimed links to the universities.

A third-year international business student who did not want to be named said: 'We were told that students in my batch didn't fulfil the criteria to be eligible for transfer of credits, so the scheme was not actively promoted to us.'

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

Keep it clear, keep it simple

Keep it clear, keep it simple
Sun, Mar 01, 2009
The Straits Times

Thirty years ago today, on Feb 27, 1979, then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew called a meeting of ministers, ministers of state and senior civil servants to discuss how government papers and minutes can be written in clear, clean prose.

Singapore's GDP has grown almost sevenfold since 1979. Marina Bay didn't exist then. Changi Airport was still two years away from completion. Singapore has been transformed beyond recognition in the last 30 years. But the same, alas, cannot be said of the quality of written English, which remains recognisably the same now as it did in 1979. We reprint excerpts of Mr Lee's address to mark a melancholy anniversary.

I WANT to discuss the importance of simple, clear, written English. This is not simple. Dr Goh Keng Swee gives every officer whom he thinks is promising and whose minutes or papers are deficient in clarity, a paperback edition of Sir Ernest Gowers' The Complete Plain Words.


It presupposes that the man who attempts to read the book has reached a certain level of literary competence. The book, written words, cannot convey to you the emphasis, the importance, the urgency of things, unless the receiver is a trained reader. And in any case, human beings are never moved by written words. It is the spoken word that arouses them to action. Arthur Koestler rightly pointed out that if Adolf Hitler's speeches had been written, not spoken, the Germans would never have gone to war. Similarly, Sukarno in print did not make great sense.

The spoken language is better learnt early; then you will have fluency. However, my thesis is that the written language can be mastered at any age without much disadvantage. It is learnt fastest when your written mistakes are pointed out to you by a teacher, friend, or senior officer. That was the way I learnt.

When I was in school my compositions were marked. When my children were in school they simply got grades for their written work. Their teachers had so many essays that they never attempted to correct the compositions. This has contributed to our present deplorable situation.

I want to convince you, first, of the importance of clear, written communication; second, that you can master it, if you apply yourself.

The use of words, the choice and arrangement of words in accordance with generally accepted rules of grammar, syntax and usage, can accurately convey ideas from one mind to another. It can be mastered.

When I was a law student I learnt that every word, every sentence has three possible meanings: what the speaker intends it to mean, what the hearer understands it to mean, and what it is commonly understood to mean. So when a coded message is sent in a telegram, the sender knows what he means, the receiver knows exactly what is meant, the ordinary person reading it can make no sense of it at all.

When you write minutes or memoranda, do not write in code, so that only those privy to your thoughts can understand. Write simply so that any other officer who knows nothing of the subject can understand you. To do this, avoid confusion and give words their ordinary meanings.

Our biggest obstacle to better English is shyness. It is a psychological barrier. Nobody likes to stop and ask, 'Please, what does that mean?' or 'Please tell me, where have I gone wrong?' To pretend you know when you don't know is abysmal folly. Then we begin to take in each other's mistakes and repeat them, compounding our problems.

The facility to express yourself in a written language is yet another facet or manifestation of your ability, plus application and discipline. It is a fallacy to believe that because it is the English language, the Englishman has a natural advantage in writing it. That is not so. He has a natural advantage in speaking the language because he spoke it as a child, but not in writing it. It has nothing to do with race. You are not born with a language. You learn it.

Without effective written communication within the government, there will be misunderstanding and confusion. Let me give a few recent illustrations of writing so sloppy that I had to seek clarification of their meanings:

  • 'With increasing urbanisation and industrialisation, we will require continued assistance particularly in the technological and managerial fields.'

I asked myself: What have I missed in this? What has the first part about urbanisation and industrialisation to do with the second part about continued assistance? Why do we need more assistance, particularly in technological and managerial skills, because of increasing urbanisation and industrialisation?

It is non sequitur. We need technological and managerial assistance anyway. The first part does not lead to the second part.

  • 'It is necessary to study the correlation between language aptitude, intelligence and values and attitudes to ensure that the various echelons of leaders are not only effectively bilingual but also of the desirable calibre.'

I read it over and over again. It made no sense. This is gibberish! I enquired and I was told, well, they were trying to find out how language ability and intelligence should influence the methods for instilling good social values and attitudes.

Well, then say so. But somebody wanted to impress me by dressing up his ideas in big words. Next time impress me with the simple way you get your ideas across.

  • 'France is the fourth major industrial country in Europe after West Germany, Britain and Italy.'

Calculating backwards and forwards, I decided France cannot be the fourth. I queried. The reply was that France was fourth in terms of number of industrial workers. Now, China probably has the largest number of industrial workers in the world. In some factories they may have 14,000 workers when a similar factory in America would have 4,000. Does that make China the first industrial country in the world?

  • 'The Third World has the stamina to sustain pressure for the Common fund. Progress will probably be incremental with acceleration possible if moderation prevails.'

Now what does this mean? By 'incremental' the officer meant 'slow'. 'Slow', I understand; but 'acceleration possible', I do not.

If we do not make a determined effort to change, the process of government will slow down. It will snarl up. I have noted this steady deterioration over the last 20 years. I want to reverse it. If we start with those at the top, we can achieve a dramatic improvement in two years, provided the effort is made.

Now I want to discuss how we can do this:

To begin with, before you can put ideas into words, you must have ideas. Otherwise, you are attempting the impossible.

The written English we want is clean, clear prose - not elegant, not stylish, just clean, clear prose. It means simplifying, polishing and tightening.

Remember: That which is written without much effort is seldom read with much pleasure. The more the pleasure, you can assume, as a rule of thumb, the greater the effort.

When you send me or your minister a minute or a memo - or a draft that has to be published like the President's Address - do not try to impress by using big words; impress by the clarity of your ideas.

I speak as a practitioner. If I had not been able to reduce complex ideas into simple words and project them vividly for mass understanding, I would not be here.

The communists simplified ideas into slogans to sway the people's feelings - to get them to move in directions which would have done us harm. I had to counter them. I learnt fast. The first thing I had to do was to express ideas in simple words.

My experience is that attending courses helps but not as much as lessons tailored for you. You have written a memo. Somebody runs through it and points out your errors: 'You could have said it this way'; 'this is an error'; 'this can be broken into two sentences' and so on.

In other words, superiors and peers and even subordinates who spot errors should be encouraged to point them out. My personal assistants point out my mistakes; I tell them to.

Some final examples on how urgent the problem is, from two papers coming before Cabinet: The first, a very well-written paper; the other badly written. But even the well-written paper contained a repetitious phrase which confused me. Because it was well-written, I thought the repeated words must be there to convey a special meaning:

  • 'If the basis for valuation is to be on a basis other than open market value as evidenced by sales, arbitrariness and protracted litigation would occur, thus tarnishing the credibility of government machinery.'

I ran my eye back to the opening words. I queried: 'Do we lose anything if we dropped the words 'to be on a basis' before 'other'.' Answer came back: 'No meaning is lost.' And this was in a well-written paper.

Let me read from the second paper, which tried to explain why we must set up an institute:

  • 'The need for such services is made more acute as at present, there is no technical agency offering consultancy services in occupational safety and health.'

I asked: 'What's happening 'as at present'? Why 'as at present'?'

What the officer meant was: 'There is acute need because there is no department which offers advice on occupational safety and health.'

We have taken each other's mistakes. He had constantly read 'as at present', 'as of yesterday', 'as of tomorrow', so he just stuffed in three unnecessary words - 'as at present' - into his paper.

There is such a thing as a language environment. Ours is a bad one. Those of you who have come back from a long stay in a good English-speaking environment would have felt the shock when reading The Straits Times on returning.

I spent a month in Vancouver in October 1968. Then I went on to Harvard University in Boston. For one month, I read the papers in Vancouver. They were not much better than The Straits Times. They had one million people, English-speaking. But there was no sparkle in their pages.

The contrast in Harvard was dazzling. From the undergraduate paper, The Harvard Crimson, to the Boston Globe, from the New York Times to the Washington Post, every page crackled with novel ideas, smartly presented. Powerful minds had ordered those words. Ideas had been thought out and dressed in clean, clear prose. They were from the best trained minds of an English-speaking population.

Let us try to do better. We are not doing justice to ourselves. I know the ability is there; it has just not been trained to use the written word correctly and concisely. And it is not too late to start.

It is not possible to conduct the business of government by talking to each other with the help of gesticulation. You have to write it down. And it must be complete, clear and unambiguous.

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

Chitrakala says she is scared of Samy Vellu

Chitrakala says she is scared of Samy Vellu
28 Feb, 2009

"He has got money, people. I am an ordinary person, I am very scared. He has got everybody with him; I don’t have anybody with me. But I thought going public is my best protection.”

By Baradan Kuppusamy, The Malaysian Insider

P. Chitrakala Vasu, the woman at the centre of a row with Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu over missing MIED files and funds, has given the public a rare inside look into the dealings of the MIC president.

At a press conference today, she offered up a glimpse into how her former boss thinks, works and manages the millions that the government has allocated over the years to the MIC to alleviate Indian poverty.

But before opening the window into the world of Samy Vellu and his inner circle, Chitrakala said: “I am very scared of this man.

"He has got money, people. I am an ordinary person, I am very scared. He has got everybody with him; I don’t have anybody with me. But I thought going public is my best protection.”

She was once so close to Samy Vellu that she became the subject of gossip, suggesting she was having an affair with him.

“It is all lies but I was that close to him,” Chitrakala told the press conference at the crowded Lotus restaurant in Jalan Gasing, Petaling Jaya.

She said Samy Vellu was now going after her and trying to pin on her all sorts of allegations of financial improprieties connected with MIED, the MIC arm that operates the AIMST University and other colleges.

“MIED is worth RM1 billion compared to Maika Holdings which is worth zero,” Chitrakala said, adding that her relationship with Samy Vellu started to sour after the March 8 general election as he became suspicious of everybody around him.

“He felt very insecure after losing in Sungei Siput and losing as minister. Not being a minister anymore and without it he was a nobody. He knew his days were numbered and he would be challenged for the president’s post. So he got very insecure and saw enemies everywhere,” she said.

One of the issues that arose was the future of MIED which, being worth RM1 billion, was the jewel in the crown of the MIC.

But Samy Vellu saw MIED as a different entity and having nothing to do with MIC or the Indian community.

According to her, he knew he could lose as MIC president but he wanted control of MIED.

“He did not want to let go of MIED. He wanted to remain as MIED chairman and chancellor of AIMST University,” said Chitrakala.

“The way to do it was simple, he wanted MIED removed from MIC,” she said. “MIED is for Indians. He wanted to divorce it from MIC. Legally it can be done but morally it is very wrong.”

“I cannot let what happened to Maika Holdings happen to MIED. I told myself that I have no strength to challenge Samy Vellu on this but my husband supported me,” he said.

One of the first acts Samy Vellu ordered, and over which Chitrakala baulked at, was an instruction to remove former MIC deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam as a director of MIED.

“After that Samy Vellu wanted to get rid of nearly everybody, all the 35 members of MIED. He even wanted to get rid of Palani (MIC deputy president Datuk G. Palanivel). He marked a whole list of people for removal and asked me to do it.”

Chitrakala told Samy Vellu he could not do it. “I said MIED is not MIC where he can sack and put in anybody he likes at his whims and fancy. MIED is governed by company law and he can’t do as he likes.

“He got very angry with me,” she said.

Then Samy Vellu asked her to move the MIED office out of the MIC building in Jalan Rahmat here to somewhere else.

“I also disagreed but I did not say no directly. I just delayed the matter. People visit the MIC office for MIED help. We are tied together, we cannot be separated physically,” she said.

“So this is the background of why we had a falling out and finally the crunch was he tried to force me to make payments to AMIST University contracts without proper documentations,” she said.

"Samy Vellu also asked me to make advance payment to contractors."

The fight between the two even got down to little things like the wording on the plaque unveiled when AIMST was opened by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi last year.

The plague had the words: Malaysian Indian Congress, MIED presents AMIST University to all Malaysians.

“A few days later Samy Vellu called and ordered me to remove the words Malaysian Indian Congress. I asked why and he said MIED was not linked to MIC.”

High-tech sex

Sunday March 1, 2009

High-tech sex


There can only be bad news when one’s intimate photos or videos are circulated on the Internet and via mobile phone. So, why do many still allow themselves to be caught with their pants down?

EVEN as Bukit Lanjan assemblyman Elizabeth Wong tearfully defended herself against career-breaking private photos and allegations of a sex tape about a fortnight ago, a video clip of a couple getting dirty in an X-ray room of a Kuala Lumpur hospital was making its rounds on the Internet and the mobile phone network.

The video reportedly was made as a “remembrance” of their passionate moments together. How it got out was unclear.

The expose came on the heels of a nude photo “scandal” involving a nurse in Penang. The 28-year-old, who took the naked pictures herself, claimed that a close friend stole the pictures from her laptop and shared them with her spurned suitor, who then posted them online.

The act of filming one’s intimate moments and photographing one’s naked glory is nothing new. What is taken in private, unfortunately, has a propensity for showing up in the public arena, and in a conservative society like Malaysia, this often has severe consequences.

As seen time after time, these indecent exposures – regardless of whether they were accidentally or intentionally leaked – have decimated many a reputation and destroyed lives. Yet, why do many still allow themselves to be put in such vulnerable positions?

Dr King: ‘What is erotic to one person would be offensive to another.’

Secret desire

“Maybe secretly many people want to be a porn star. It is happening worldwide and even in Australia, you see it happening more and more,” renowned Australian sex therapist Dr Rosie King, says, albeit half jokingly.

Dr King believes the phenomenon can be linked to two trends: technological boom and media fads.

“The technology now is so good and accessible that everyone can be a photographer or filmmaker. We don’t have to have the picture or film developed. In the past, for example, people would need sophisticated equipment to make a video.

“And with the media trend worldwide, people desire excitement and want to be extraordinary, even for a moment. Many are becoming obsessed with fame – everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame.

“You can see this on TV as we intrude more and more into people’s private space,” says Dr King who was in town recently to share the findings of the Asia-Pacific Sexual Health and Overall Wellness (AP SHOW) survey commissioned by pharmaceutical company Pfizer. True, you don’t need to look at the ratings to see how popular reality shows are; they are everywhere in our mainstream consciousness.

According to technology market research firm GfK Asia Pte Ltd, the demand for digital still cameras in the region grew in 2008 by 118% while the sale of camcorders increased by 105% in spite of the tougher market scenario.

The growing accessibility of mobile phones with camera and video recording devices (there are 26.2 million mobile phone subscribers in Malaysia according to Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission records) and video sharing sites like YouTube have driven the demand for “personal” content further.

However, says Dr King, photographing or videoing their sexual intercourse is not something that people would typically do.

“I think only a minority are doing it, not because it is unnatural but because many have more common sense. They are aware that there are those who do it for nefarious reasons including exploitation and blackmail. And even if both partners can be trusted, the pictures and videos can so easily fall into the wrong hands – you don’t want your children to see them, or your neighbours and relatives.”

Dr King notes that people have used visuals for sexual stimulation and personal gratification for decades.

“I don’t know if it can help to solve a sexual problem but many people do it for fun and pleasure. In the old days you rely on the mirror; some hotels have mirrors on the ceiling and facing the bed. Now that has been replaced by the camera.”

Paul Jambunathan, consultant clinical psychologist at Monash University Malaysia and Sunway Medical Centre concurs.

Jambunathan: ‘Many studies show that people can get sexually stimulated from pictures and videos.’

“Many studies show that people can get sexually stimulated from pictures, videos or even watching themselves get naked in the mirror. There are those who get sexually aroused by their imagination and others from a memory of their sexual intercourse. In this case, what is the difference between a memory and videotape?” he asks.

Jambunathan nonetheless admits that it depends on the socio-cultural norm in the country. In Malaysia, most people will view filming their sexual activity as immoral and even perverted.

Dr King agrees.

“I don’t think that it is immoral to take your partner’s or your own pictures and videos. The thing about morality is that it is personal, even though it is shaped by one’s socio-cultural context. What is erotic to one person can be offensive to another,” she says.

Acknowledging that Malaysia is a conservative society, Dr King, however, promotes a middle ground where one can uphold moral values as well as be comfortable with his or her sexuality.

Citing Australia’s case as example, Dr King says there has been a positive shift in the public perception of sex.

“People in Australia are more open and relaxed about sex. This is good; I am not saying that people should be more promiscuous but I would like to see more people being more confident and comfortable with their sexuality,” she says.

Andrew Khoo, the co-deputy chair of the Human Rights Committee with the Malaysian Bar Council, agrees.

“We live in a prudish society where sex is concerned, which has given rise to a voyeuristic culture in the country. When there is a sex tape or racy picture circulated, many people would rush to check it out for cheap titillation,” he says.

This has given erotic materials a lot of currency, encouraging an underground market for illegally acquired content. Worse, Malaysian laws are too lenient to deter the culprits from invading other people’s privacy, Khoo notes.

Dr Prema: ‘Couples take photos or video footages of their intimate moments for a variety of reasons.’

According to a report in a local Chinese language daily, local sex video clips, whether taken without the knowledge of the couple or for their personal collection, are highly in demand among Malaysians. It was reported that the local videos were often obtained when owners forgot to delete them before selling their cell phones or sending them for repair. Consequently, some mobile phone retailers have made it a marketing strategy to download pornographic video clips for their customers for a nominal fee or for free.

A case that made headlines is that of Chinese-Canadian film star Edison Chen, whose private sex pictures with several Hong Kong starlets set off an Internet firestorm after he sent his laptop for repairs. The photos show Chen in bed separately with eight of the country’s best-known actresses and singers, badly damaging the careers of Chen and the women when the photos were circulated online. Last week, Chen was at the British Columbia Supreme Court hearing in Vancouver where he reviewed his testimony to be presented in a Hong Kong criminal court case.

The real issue here, stresses Jambunathan, is the infringement of one’s privacy.

“If it is two consenting adults, barring religious rulings, it should not be a problem. It becomes a problem when someone else is illegally recording you and your partner during your intimate moments or when your personal collection falls into the wrong hands,” he says.

On the rise

Another worrying trend is the growing number of high-tech sex cases involving the young.

Last year, three video clips of students from Kuala Trengganu engaging in sexual acts on their secondary school premises were widely distributed to the public via the mobile phone multimedia service (MMS) and VCDs. This unsurprisingly caused a furore among parents and the education fraternity.

Still, with a fast growing number of young adults becoming tech-savvy, this is a trend that needs to be monitored closely by the Malaysian authorities.

The phenomenon is global. As a poll in the United States last December revealed, one in five American teens had sent nude or partially clothed images of themselves to someone by e-mail or mobile phone, and twice as many have sent sexually suggestive electronic messages.

The survey, commissioned by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, showed that more than half of the 1,280 young adults aged 20 to 26 interviewed said they had received a sexually suggestive message from someone else and one in five said they had shared the racy message with a third person.

About 73% of those below 19 surveyed said they knew sending sexually suggestive content could have “serious negative consequences” but 22% said it’s “no big deal”.

Although no studies have been conducted on the trend among young Malaysians, many say that technology is encouraging a more casual hook-up culture.

“It is normal to send a sexy photo of yourself to the boy you want to get to know on the Net or through your phone. I don’t send any nude photos of myself, I know that is dangerous, but I have heard of people in my school who have done it,” says a 16-year-old girl who declines to be named.

Dr King believes that sex education can equip the young to deal with the rise of high-tech sex.

“It has been proven that ignorance will encourage the young to experiment, so the authorities need to address this, especially with the growing accessibility of technology. When one is comfortable about their sexuality, they will be more responsible about their bodies and with their partners,” she says.

Dr Prema Devaraj, programme director at Women’s Centre for Change (WCC) Penang, agrees that raising their awareness is important in empowering the young to deal with the potential risks of high-tech sex. More important, she stresses, is to instil mutual respect between the sexes.

“Couples take photos or video footages of their intimate moments for a variety of reasons. It is done in an environment of complete trust and is a private matter between the couple. When such photos are used outside the relationship without the consent of the parties involved, it is a gross violation of personal liberty and privacy. It is an absolute betrayal of trust,” says Dr Prema.

Unfortunately, as recent cases show, most of the victims are female.

Hence, to combat this exploitation of women, she stresses, there is a need to address the way women are viewed in this country and the inequality women are subjected to in relationships.

“Often society places the responsibility of what happens onto the woman – from unwanted pregnancy and HIV infections to sexual assault and high-tech sex abuses. There is very little acknowledgement of the role men play in these issues and rarely are they made accountable for their actions,” she notes.

Nor Mohamed: Malaysians must accept reality of prolonged financial crisis

Sunday March 1, 2009

Nor Mohamed: Malaysians must accept reality of prolonged financial crisis

GEORGE TOWN: Malaysians must accept the reality that the global financial crisis is expected to prolong till next year, Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said.

He warned that the country was no longer in a comfort zone.

“Using the football analogy, we are defending the ball which is now in the penalty box,” he told newsmen after presenting the Amanah Ikthiar Malaysia micro-credit scheme aid to the first 50 recipients at its office here yesterday.

Nor Mohamed said there were almost daily reports of retrenchments, cash flow problems and bankruptcy in major markets worldwide.

He said economic indicators in Europe, Japan and the United States were reflecting a prolonged crisis which would not end this year.

“Since Malaysia is plugged into the international economy, we cannot expect to be spared the ill effects.

“Europe, the United States and Japan have accepted the reality. (of the situation). I think Malaysia must accept it too,” he said.

He said such worries translated into more challenges which the country must meet with the tabling of a mini Budget on March 10 and convincing the private sector to work with the Government.

In such a stormy climate, Nor Mohamed said Malaysians must stand united regardless of race, religion, political or ideological differences as only through a united stand could the future generation reap the benefits.

In Kuala Lumpur, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan said efforts were under way to ensure that the housing sector remained afloat despite the economic crisis.

Ong said the Government would be monitoring the housing industry to ensure it continued to flourish as there were 140 sectors that were involved directly and indirectly in the industry.

He said there was a need to address the lack of confidence by some developers who were worried whether their projects would get a response if launched and concerns from buyers.

“Some buyers are also worried that they may lose their jobs or part of their income,” he said after handing over symbolic keys to MK Land-owned Metropolitan Square Milan Condominium buyers here yesterday.

He also called on the private sector to come up with innovative strategies to build low and medium-cost homes which would help sustain their workforce.

Transforming Negativity

Transforming Negativity

Paul Ferrini

It is important to look at your own negative mindstates so that you can recognize them. Each person must learn to see how s/he creates personal suffering by holding a negative attitude toward the events and circumstances of life. If you don't see how you do this, you will do it unconsciously. And then you won't understand why your life is difficult.
You will blame others for your problems: your parents, your spouse, your children, your boss, maybe even God.

I ask you to take responsibility not just for what you do, but for what you think. I ask you to understand the power of your thoughts to create negative emotional states, from which ill-considered actions arise. See how the thought "Nobody loves me" leads to the state of feeling unlovable, disconnected, envious of others who seem to have love in their lives. See how the thought and the subsequent emotional state breed hostile actions, which push others away.

The thought "Nobody loves me" becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. By thinking this thought, feeling unloved, and acting in a hostile way toward others, you separate yourself from the very love that you want.

Next time the thought "Nobody loves me" comes into your mind, please be aware of it. If you find yourself becoming depressed, please be aware of it. If you speak or act in a way that separates you from others, please be aware of it. Don't judge yourself or try to change anything. just bring your awareness to the whole dramatic cycle from thought to action.

Become aware of how your negative mental and emotional states create suffering in your life. See how your negativity becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Every time you succeed in separating from others, you substantiate your belief that "Nobody loves me." But the truth is that this experience is your personal creation. It is not true that nobody loves you. The truth is that you don't feel loved.

As you watch your drama unfold, it will be easier for you to take responsibility for it. Then you will begin to tell the truth to yourself. When the thought "Nobody loves me" comes into your mind, you will recognize it and reword it in a more truthful and responsible way: "I see that I am not feeling loved right now."

Instead of trying to make "others" responsible for your not feeling loved, you will be taking responsibility for it. This simple shifting of responsibility for your negative feeling states from "others" to self is the beginning of healing and correction. When you know that you are not feeling loved, you naturally ask the question "how can I feel loved right now?" What you realize as you explore this important question is that the only way you can "feel" loved is to "think" a loving thought. Loving thoughts lead to the emotional state of feeling loved. And out of this positive emotional state actions arise which connect you to others.

Now, it doesn't matter if this loving thought is about yourself or about someone else. Any loving thought will do. Love is completely unselfish and unselective. Whomever you love will do just fine. When you offer love to another person, you are also offering it to yourself.

When fear and doubt arise in your psyche, you either entertain them or you don't.
If you mindentertain them, you will end up believing that someone else is responsible for your unhappiness and you will feel powerless to change it. If you don't entertain negative thoughts when they arise, you will remind yourself again and again that you are responsible for everything you think, feel, and experience. If you want a different experience, you must choose a different thought. You must substitute a loving thought for a fearful one.

The reason that you are always looking for love from other people is that you do not realize that love comes only from your own consciousness. It has nothing to do with anyone else. Love comes from your willingness to think loving thoughts, experience loving feelings, and act in trusting, loveinspired ways. If you are willing to do this, your cup will run over. You will constantly have the love that you need, and you will take delight in offering it to others.

The fountainhead of love is within your own heart. Don't look to others to provide the love you need. Don't blame others for withholding their love from you. You don't need their love. You need your love. Love is the only gift you can give yourself. Give it to yourself and the universe resounds with a big "Yes!" Withhold it and the game of hide and seek continues: "looking for love in all the wrong places."

There is only one place you can look for love and find it.
No one who has ever looked there has been disappointed

GIC raises Citigroup stake

GIC raises Citigroup stake
Feb 28, 2009

SINGAPORE (AFP) - The Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) will convert its preferred notes in Citigroup into common stock, giving it an 11.1 percent stake in the troubled US banking group, the state investment vehicle said Friday.

GIC will convert the preferred notes at a price of 3.25 US dollars a share, below the conversion price of 26.35 dollars as agreed when it invested in the preference notes, it said in a statement.

The announcement came after the US Treasury Department said the US government would convert up to 25 billion dollars of capital injected into Citigroup to ordinary shares, giving it a stake of up to 36 percent in the banking group.

"GIC has agreed to convert its convertible preferred notes in Citigroup to common stock," it said in a statement.

"As a shareholder, GIC supports the initiative by Citigroup and the US government to strengthen the quality of the bank's capital base in view of the challenging economic environment."

One of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds, GIC invested 6.88 billion dollars in Citigroup's private offering of convertible preferred securities last year.

Convertible preferred securities enjoy a fixed rate of coupon payment until they are converted to shares.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Docs, mind your bedside manner

Docs, mind your bedside manner
Feb 27, 2009
The Straits Times

By Dr Ang Peng Tiam

This could very well be an apocryphal tale, but I have a suspicion it is more true than false. When Mrs Lim, a 79-year old lady, first noticed a lump in her left breast in 2006, she went alone to see a doctor who was introduced to her by a friend.

She recalled that he had told her: 'Call your family. You have cancer and you need to have surgery to remove your breast.' That message frightened her so much that she ran away and did not seek further medical advice about the lump.

She committed her illness to God and prayed fervently for divine healing. She tried all sorts of Chinese herbal medicine - lingzhi, pian zi huang and others - but to no avail.

By Chinese New Year last month, her left arm was swollen because of lymphedema (accumulation of fluid in the soft tissue). This is caused by destruction of the lymph nodes in the armpit by the cancer cells.

By this time the lump was bigger than a golf ball and could be seen if one looked closely at it. There was an unusual bulge above the breast on the left side, as if something was stuffed into the bra.

She finally revealed her illness to her family.

When she came to see me, it took me more than an hour to convince her of her illness and the need for treatment. She had an aggressive hormone-receptor negative breast cancer that needed targeted therapy.

With the help of her five children, I managed to convince her that her cancer was treatable. After one cycle of treatment, her cancer literally melted away like ice on a hot stove. 'God is really good,' she exclaimed.

I have no doubt that there is divine intervention in cancer, as with other inexplicable areas in life, but there is also a place for something more prosaic - like good communication skills.

I do not know who the doctor was who first saw her. I cannot even be sure that the account of that consultation is accurate. However, there is a lesson all doctors (including myself) can learn from this.

At every contact, especially the first, we have to be careful about what we say and how we say it. It sometimes does not matter how well-intentioned our words are but what counts is what the patient understands and what he takes away from that often brief visit.

Mrs Lim's tumour was probably not as advanced 21/2 years ago. Now, the cancer has already infiltrated the skin, involved the lymph nodes in the armpit and spread to the liver. In other words, she now has Stage 4 breast cancer.

It was pointless to consider surgery and her best option was to have palliative chemotherapy to treat her disease. While the chemotherapy has melted the tumour and she may even go into remission, her cancer cannot be cured. It will eventually recur.

Communication is such an important part of medicine. Yet, I really do not remember being coached on how to talk to patients when I was in medical school. We were left to learn by observing how our teachers interacted with patients.

I hope that things have changed and that the present curriculum does emphasise the importance of communication.

There is no one 'best' way to talk to a patient. It is not always necessary to tell all the 'bad news' at the first sitting, especially if the patient has come to the consultation alone.

The doctor must remember that the patient may never come back again. That is why it is important to keep the door open for the patient to either come back to see him or perhaps see other doctors so that care can be continued.

The care of cancer requires a great deal of understanding about the psychology of the patient. Each one is different.

Some want the facts without the icing. Others want lots of pampering. That is why it is important, in the selection of medical students, that we go beyond academic grades and emphasise 'emotional quotient'. A doctor must be able to assess the situation quickly and know how to make the patient feel comfortable.

When it is a question of life and death, when questions are unasked which nonetheless need to be answered, when obvious truths prefer to remain unsaid, you need to know that the patient has understood you perfectly.

Dr Ang, the medical director of Parkway Cancer Centre, has been treating cancer patients for nearly 20 years. In 1996, he was awarded Singapore's National Science Award for his outstanding contributions to medical research.

This article was first published in Mind Your Body, The Straits Times.

The stupidity of some Malay Muslims

The stupidity of some Malay Muslims
27 Feb, 2009

Some Malays, PKR and PAS Malays included, are very narrow-minded and ignorant. And this is because they recite the Quran like parrots without understanding what they are reciting -- mainly because they do not speak the language of the Quran.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Herald editor says ban on ‘Allah’ lifted with conditions

A church official says the government has lifted a ban on the use of the word "Allah" by Christian publications.

Rev. Lawrence Andrew, the editor of the Catholic Church's Herald newspaper, said today the Home Ministry is allowing the publications use "Allah" to refer to God as long as they state that the material is only meant for Christians.

The controversy first broke out in late 2007 when the government banned the use of “Allah” in Christian Malay-language texts because it allegedly might confuse Muslims.

The Herald has challenged the ban in court and argued the Arabic word is a common reference for God that predates Islam and has been used for centuries as a translation in Malay. — AP, 26 Feb 2009


The High Court has set May 28 for hearing in the suit taken by the Catholic Church against the home minister and the federal government in which the church does not want any parties to intervene in its case over the use of the word "Allah".

Justice Lau Bee Lan, of the Appellate and Special Powers Division, also set July 7 to hear the arguments by several state Islamic councils to transfer the case to the Federal Court. — The Malaysian Insider, 27 Feb 2009


On 16 February 2009, the Home Minister, Syed Hamid Albar, signed a gazette known as Gazette PU A 62 under section 22 (1)(c) of the Internal Security Act 1969 -- titled Internal Security (Prohibition On Use of Specific Words on Document and Publication) Order 2009.

The gazette states as follows: Prohibition on use of specific words on document and publication 2. (1) The printing, publication, sale, issue, circulation and possession of any document and publication relating to Christianity containing the words “Allah”, “Kaabah”, “Baitullah” and “Solat” are prohibited unless on the front cover of the document and publication are written with the words “For Christianity”.

(2) The words “For Christianity” referred to in subparagraph (1) shall be written clearly in font type Arial of size 16 in bold.

A spokesman from the publication and Quranic text division of the Ministry said he was unaware of the gazette and would check with its legal division. A Christian church leader said this matter should first be discussed before made into law, as the churches are not even aware of this new ruling.

He expressed surprise that this new gazette has prematurely come into force when there are two cases before the courts to argue the constitutionality of the earlier prohibition by the ministry. The Catholic Church is suing the government over its insistence that they cannot use the Allah word in the Bahasa Malaysia section of their weekly publication.

The Sidang Injil Borneo Sabah (Evangelical Church) is also suing the government over confiscation of their Christian publications imported from Indonesia, which contain the word Allah.

Previously, the Home Ministry, in an out of court negotiation, had suggested that churches stamp the word “For Christians Only” on the Al Kitab and their Bahasa Malaysia publications. But this was not acceptable to the churches, which had counter-offered with the phrase “This is a Christian Publication.” The Ministry, however, rejected this counter-proposal.

PKR’s Member of Parliament for Bandar Baharu Kulim, Zulkifli Nordin, is also up in arms about the matter. And this is his response to the matter:

“Have they referred to the related decree? The ministry should not compromise on this matter. We should look at the social context where the word is used by the Malay Muslims in the country, what is the reason behind their insistence on using ‘Allah’. I am worried that the word ‘Allah’ was used with the aim to confuse the Muslims. Does God’s name follow the race or language? I have no problem with the use of the Malay language, but by using the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God, it made the Muslims unhappy, I have met a lot of them who told me this.”

Were you aware that it is a crime for non-Muslims to greet Muslims with the phrase ‘Assalamu Alaikum’? It is also a crime for non-Muslims to use words such as insha-Allah, masha-Allah, Alhamdulillah, and so on. There are about half a dozen ‘banned’ words that non-Muslims may not use in their daily communication, basically all words that contain the word ‘Allah’.

About twenty or so years ago, the MCA chief for Kuala Terengganu, Wong, would speak to his Malay friends as if he was a Muslim. If you had your back to him when he spoke you would have thought that a Malay was speaking. Imagine your surprise when you turn around to find a Chinaman speaking better than even Malays could.

Wong was very free with words like insha-Allah, Alhamdulillah, masha-Allah, etc. And the Terengganu Malays loved him for that. When he contested the Kuala Terengganu state seat in the 1990 general election, he lost to the PAS candidate, Ustaz Haji Harun Jusoh. Wong won all the Malay votes at Losong and Pulau Kambing. However, he lost the Chinese votes from Kampong Cina who voted for Ustaz Harun.

Malays like to call Chinese Muslims mualap (mualaf). When I went to China more than 15 years ago I visited the oldest mosque in China. It was at Kwangchow (Canton) and was built 100 years after Prophet Muhammad’s time. That’s right, the Chinese were Muslims 700 or 800 years before the Malays and when the Malays were still Hindus, Buddhists, tree worshippers, and so on. But only the Malays are true Muslims while the Chinese are mualaps.

I met the Imam of the Kwangchow mosque and he spoke to me in Arabic. I replied, “Mafi kalam Arabi.” He was surprised because I just did my prayers in the mosque, which he assumed I would have performed in Arabic.

“You don’t speak Arabic?”

“No,” I replied.

“You can read the Quran?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“You can read the Quran but you can’t speak Arabic? How do you do that?”

“I recite only, not read.”

“So you can’t understand what you recite?”

“No,” I replied.

“What kind of Muslim are you? You recite the Quran but can’t understand what you are reciting.”

“Well, I am the same as 99% other Muslims in Malaysia. We all don’t speak Arabic and can’t understand what we are reciting.”

The Imam shook his head and went off to pray for God to have mercy on me -- and the 99% other Malay Muslims in Malaysia.

What’s all this brouhaha about the word Allah in the Malay language translation of the Bible? First, take a look at this:

[Genesis 1:1 - English Bible - King James Version]
"In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth . . . "

[Genesis 1:1 - Arabic transliteration]
"Fee al-badi' khalaqa Allahu as-Samaawaat wa al-Ard . . . "

[Genesis 1:1 - Arabic Bible]

[John 3:16 - English Bible - King James Version]
"For God so loved the world, that . . . "

[John 3:16 - Arabic transliteration]
"Li-annhu haakadha ahabba Allahu al-'Aalama hataa badhala . . . "

[John 3:16 - Arabic Bible]

[Luke 1:30 - English Bible - King James Version]
" . . . Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God."

[Luke 1:30 - Arabic transliteration]
" . . . Laa takhaafee, yaa Maryam, li-annaki qad wajadti ni'amat(an) i'nda Allahi."

[Luke 1:30 - Arabic Bible]

[Luke 3:38 - English Bible - New King James Version]
"the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God."

[Luke 3:38 - Arabic transliteration]
"bini Anoosha, bini Sheeti, bini Aaadama, abni Allahi."

[Luke 3:38 - Arabic Bible]

The word Allah is already in the Bible. It is exactly the same word that the Jews, in Hebrew, use for God (eloh), the word that Jesus Christ used in Aramaic when he prayed to God. In Hebrew, Huwa el Elah or HUWA 'L LAH means HE IS ALLAH in the verse QUL HUWAL LAH HU AHAD.

"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” said Jesus on the cross. In Aramaic this is: "Eli, Eli, l'mana Sabachtani?"

The words El, Elah and Elohim are not three distinctly different words. They all represent the single Arabic word, Allah, which is also the same in Hebrew.

No, Islam does not have monopoly over the use of the word Allah. The Christians and Jews too use this same word. In fact, the biggest ‘selling point’ for Islam is that the Quran recognises all the Prophets of the Jews and Christians and that we all pray to the same ONE God, Allah. If the God of the Jews, Christians and Muslims is the same one God, would not then the name of this God also be the same? How can the name of the Muslim God be different from that of the Jews and Christians if we all pray to the same one God?

Some Malays, PKR and PAS Malays included, are very narrow-minded and ignorant. And this is because they recite the Quran like parrots without understanding what they are reciting -- mainly because they do not speak the language of the Quran. And, for sure, they do not read any of the Holy Books of the other religions because they are of the opinion that it is forbidden (haram) to do so. It is said that even Prophet Muhammad sought advice from his wife’s, Khatijah’s cousin, Warakah, a learned Christian scholar of his time, though some scholars refute this (but they do admit that Warakah was a Christian who attended Prophet Muhammad’s and Khatijah’s wedding).

And Prophet Muhammad never prohibited the Jews and Christians from using the word Allah. But then Malays think they are better Muslims and more learned than the Arabs even though Malays recite the Quran without understanding what they are reciting -- unlike the Chinese Muslims in China. And what are 16 million Malay Muslims compared to the more than 100 million in China, the mualaps, as the Malays would call them, who have been Muslims since 1,300 years ago when Malays were still praying to trees and whatnot.

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Cancer Care Seeks to Take Patients Beyond Survival

Cancer Care Seeks to Take Patients Beyond Survival

J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

RECOVERY Tanya Saunders survived cancer but suffers effects of her treatment.

Published: May 22, 2007

As a growing number of Americans are learning, surviving cancer can mean slipping into a rabbit hole of long-term medical problems — from premature menopause and sexual dysfunction to more debilitating side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, like heart disease and even new cancers.

The realization that cancer and its aftermath can go on for years has given rise to a medical specialty known as survivorship. At several major hospitals around the country, survivor programs financed by the Lance Armstrong Foundation are focusing on life after cancer.

“It’s no longer sufficient to say, ‘Well, you survived,’ ” said Mary S. McCabe, who directs the program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. “We need to maximize their recovery and quality of life.”

Cancer treatment and research are expanding to incorporate long-term postcancer care. With the number of survivors up to 10 million in the United States, from 3 million in the 1970s, cancer is increasingly being treated as a chronic disease, like diabetes or multiple sclerosis. As the presidential candidate John Edwards said in March after his wife, Elizabeth, learned that her breast cancer had returned and spread, the disease was “no longer curable” but “completely treatable.”

At U.C.L.A. Medical Center in Los Angeles, Dr. Patricia A. Ganz is helping patients like Tanya Saunders close gaps in their medical care. Staying healthy has become a full-time job for Ms. Saunders, who has endured one complication after another in the 15 years since she received her diagnosis of Hodgkin’s disease as a college student.

Radiation and chemotherapy thrust her into menopause. After a recurrence and a second round of treatments, she developed congestive heart failure. Last year, the bone tissue in one of her hips collapsed, forcing her to undergo a hip transplant.

Now 36, Ms. Saunders takes 11 medicines a day. She exercises three days a week with other cardiac patients, sees a much-loved psychotherapist (who is treating her free of charge) once a week and takes pottery and sailing classes. She lives on disability payments and qualifies for Medicare.

“It’s a kind of a renewal of spirit I would say I’m looking for while I try to get my strength back,” Ms. Saunders said.

Another patient of Dr. Ganz’s, Karen Huner, credits her with diagnosing and treating the hypothyroidism that was causing exhaustion and headaches months after she was cured of breast cancer. Other doctors had told her that the symptoms were effects of chemotherapy and that she should “just get used to it,” said Ms. Huner, a 44-year-old yoga and pilates instructor. In fact, she added, it was the radiation she received that probably disrupted her thyroid function.

She recently developed lymphodema, the painful swelling and water retention that can happen in the arm where lymph nodes were removed.

“My lymphodema doctor said to me, ‘Be happy you’re alive,’ ” Ms. Huner said. “I almost strangled her.”

The potential side effects of radiation and chemotherapy have been known for years, especially among survivors of childhood cancers. But the big push for awareness and support followed a strongly worded report in 2005 from the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The transition from active treatment to post-treatment care is critical to long-term health,” it concluded. “If care is not planned and coordinated, cancer survivors are left without knowledge of their heightened risks and a follow-up plan of action.” Insurers, it added, “should recognize survivorship care as an essential part of cancer care.”

Another problem is that survivors may shy away from doctors, and not just because of the cost. Dr. Anna T. Meadows, a pediatric oncologist who directs the survivors’ program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said people who got their diagnoses as children or teenagers were often wary of care that would force them to revisit a painful part of their past. These survivors do not necessarily need a cancer specialist for routine checkups and screening, she said, but rather someone who understands their previous treatment and its risks.

“A lot of cancer survivors have nothing wrong with them,” Dr. Meadows said. “But what is important is for anybody who’s had cancer is to know what treatment they received and what it’s likely to lead to in the future.” The program is adding two primary care doctors to encourage follow-up visits.

In the largest study so far of survivors of childhood or adolescent cancer, published last October in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers documented a high rate of illness because of chronic conditions caused by life-saving treatments. The study tracked the health of nearly 10,400 adults now in their 20s, 30s and 40s who were treated for cancer between 1970 and 1986.

More than 62 percent of those survivors had at least one chronic condition; nearly 28 percent had a severe or life-threatening one. The survivors were more than three times as likely as their siblings to have a chronic health condition, and women were at greater risk than men. Survivors of bone tumors, central nervous system tumors and Hodgkin’s disease had the highest risk of a serious chronic condition.

The good news is that almost 80 percent of children and teenagers who get diagnoses of cancer today become long-term survivors. Moreover, treatments have changed to minimize the risks; the lowest effective doses of drugs and radiation are used.

“The silver lining of this is that we know what to expect a reasonable amount of the time,” said Dr. Kevin C. Oeffinger of Sloan-Kettering, a lead author of the report. While young cancer patients are more vulnerable to damage because their organs are still growing, Dr. Oeffinger said, the study has obvious implications for adults.

Age and type of treatment play a huge role in the experience of cancer survivors, several experts said. Many experience no side effects at all. Others, especially women of child-bearing age, face infertility and early menopause.

“Our research shows that younger patients have a harder time, both physically and emotionally,” said Dr. Ganz, of U.C.L.A. “It’s not something they’ve expected.”

At Sloan-Kettering, five social workers are assigned to concentrate exclusively on follow-up care for survivors. Part of the plan, at Sloan and other cancer centers, is to develop an online database of patient-care summaries — of the cancer treatment received, the potential risks and recommended follow-up care — that could be used by any physician.

The hospital also plans to open an off-campus outpatient center devoted to cancer survivors’ physical rehabilitation, in part with a donation from the media entrepreneur Robert F. X. Sillerman, who was treated at Sloan-Kettering six years ago for tongue cancer. He received chemotherapy and radiation and later began to suffer pain and muscle spasms in his shoulders and back, as well as increasing weakness in his left arm.

Today, Mr. Sillerman said, he has reversed the damage with a little bit of medication and a lot of physical therapy. He exercises six days a week with weights, bands and manual resistance, partly with a personal physical therapist whom he puts up in a Manhattan townhouse adjoining his family’s. He said he appreciated the fact that few have the same luxury.

“I was two years out from my cure before I was able to find the right protocol and treatment,” said Mr. Sillerman, 59. “Our hope is to eliminate that and provide access to rehabilitation right away, initially in the New York metropolitan area and eventually to make that a template nationally.”

For premature menopause in patients who can safely use estrogen, Dr. Mercedes Castiel likes to give teenagers and young women birth control pills to control hot flashes and bone loss. “It’s nicer to say I’m on the pill like my peers instead of hormones like my grandmother,” said Dr. Castiel, director of the Barbara White Fishman Women’s Health Center at Sloan.

Even sexual dysfunction, which for years was viewed as a small price to pay for survival, is now treated like any other side effect. Vaginal dryness and missed or blunted orgasms are among the most common complaints.

“We look at it in terms of enhancing intimacy,” said Dr. Michael L. Krychman, Sloan’s expert on the subject. “They want things to get back to normal.”

Thursday, February 26, 2009

For healthy teeth

For healthy teeth
Thu, Feb 26, 2009
The Star/Asia News Network

By Wong Li Za

IF you have been diligently brushing your teeth twice a day and think cavities will not hit you, think again.

Oral health studies indicate that brushing our teeth alone may not be able to maintain an oral hygiene level that adequately controls the formation of bacterial plaque on teeth.

Plaque, when accumulated, can lead to development of dental cavities, gum inflammation and related diseases. Plaque is a generic term describing a sticky film of bacteria that collects on teeth above and below the gingival margin or gumline.

"When plaque remains in the mouth for as little as one day, calcification or hardening may occur, leading to tartar formation," said dentist Dr Arunee Unsook. "Brushing our teeth alone cannot adequately remove the plaque in our mouths because the teeth represents only about 23 per cent of the oral cavity surface," said Dr Arunee, also senior manager of scientific and professional affairs with Johnson & Johnson.

Brushing cleans about a quarter of the mouth and does not thoroughly rid impurities in between teeth and hard-to-reach areas. Several studies in different countries also show that the vast majority of people are unable to maintain a level of oral hygiene sufficient to control plaque formation using brushing alone due to insufficient time or lack of the appropriate technique.

The Malaysian Adults Oral Health Survey last conducted in the year 2000 showed that the general oral health status of adults aged 15 years and above has improved, largely due to the fluoridation of water supplies.

Despite this, there still exists areas with serious problems and inadequate availability of resources, such as dental treatment, oral hygiene instructions and extraction.

Under the 2010 National Oral Health Plan (NOHP), goals have been set with the objectives of achieving optimum oral health among Malaysians.

These goals focus on the reduction of four oral conditions, two of which are dental caries and periodontal disease, a gum inflammatory disease that leads to loss of teeth.

Gingivitis is an early, reversible form of gum disease resulting from inadequate plaque removal. Gingivitis can lead to periodontitis (advanced gum disease), which left untreated can result in eventual tooth loss.

"Patients can help reduce their risk of developing periodontal disease by controlling the accumulation of plaque," said Malaysian Dental Association president Dr S. Sivanesan. "This can be accomplished, in part, by adhering to a daily oral hygiene regimen that includes brushing, flossing and adding an antiseptic mouth rinse for better plaque control."

Dr Sivanesan added that the concept of mouth rinsing as an oral hygiene measure dates back thousands of years, with the first reference to it as a formal practice being attributed to Chinese medicine.

However, it was only in the 1960s when the relationship between plaque accumulation and the development of gum inflammation and diseases was clearly demonstrated that the use of antiseptic mouthwash was widely introduced.

Through clinical trials, it was scientifically established that the daily use of an effective anti-plaque mouthwash can be a valuable component of oral hygiene regimens.

In an effort to educate Malaysians on proper oral care, Johnson & Johnson, in collaboration with the association, launched the Complete Your Daily Oral Care with Mouthwash campaign recently.

The campaign illustrates the importance of complete oral care in a fun and comprehensive way via the Listerine Mobile Mouth, a mobile truck that will tour Peninsular Malaysia during the campaign periods of February and June.

Will antiseptic mouthwash strip away good bacteria in the mouth?

Dr Sivanesan said good bacteria will not really be affected if antiseptic mouthwash is used in the therapeutic way recommended.

"Basically, we advocate brushing, flossing and rinsing for good oral health care. Our mouth and its health is a complex thing that affects the whole body, not just our mouth,? he said.

Dr Sivanesan stressed that rinsing our mouth after every meal was very important.

"There is added value if one uses antiseptic mouthwash," he added.

For people who cannot get used to the burning sensation of mouthwash, Dr Arunee suggested two ways to get around it.

"If you use the full strength, start by rinsing for five seconds, slowly increasing it to 30 seconds. The other way is to use less mouthwash than indicated at first and slowly increase it to full strength," he said.

There have also been some recent studies linking the use of mouthwash containing alcohol and oral cancer. According to Dr Arunee, various epidemiological studies have found no association between cancer and the use of mouthwash with alcohol.

The Star/Asia News Network

'I wish I kept a copy of my nude photos'

Fri, Feb 27, 2009

'I wish I kept a copy of my nude photos'
by Maia Lee

There is a reason why I can only buy new laptops and hard disk - over my dead body would I ever send mine in for repair.

Wouldn't be surprising to anyone since I'm pretty infamous for being ‘liberal' in many ways.

If you're among the few (sensible and mature people) who can relate to how my mind works and why I do what I do, you know that I trust easily and I always give my all to the other half.

Who doesn't think of his/her other partner as The One?

Ok fine, many people don't and I don't understand why they would still be with each other and do things a married couple would do.

So a few people had my nude pictures and videos. It is all history and if it surfaces, it would only throw me into the limelight yet again.

And then?

Do I have anything more to lose, or a lot more to gain? My life has been such that, things (which any average being would've killed themselves over) happen and I just keep picking myself up over, and then move on.

With each experience came more understanding of how the world works, and how miserable it actually is - hence I should live it happier than the shallow.

I wouldn't want my dad to be seeing those very private stuff of his daughter, but if they are all over, he should - and would most probably - look at it this way:

I am the same old person he gave birth to 26 years ago, I am his daughter and I have proved to be the person I would have been. I am not ashamed of whatever I have done and I learned a lot. It isn't going to change the fact that I am who I am.

At the end of it all, I am smiling even as the world takes a kick out of saying bad things about me. I reject whatever bad they say (as always, obviously).

Come on, it's either you look like a man or a woman. We are all the same.

When the Edison-Chen-and-whoever-else scandal broke, even my seemingly mature friends (I would NEVER ever have imagined they would be the ones) sent me the leaked photographs. I deleted them all without looking.

If someone's nude or even explicit photos are leaked, SO WHAT? If it says so bad of that someone, WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO LOOK AT / DELIBERATELY DO A SEARCH ON / FORWARD IT TO FRIENDS?

Who is the beast here? Who should be shamed here? That said, you should really wake up your idea and look at how many despicable people there are amongst us.

I once did an interview with a local paper regarding the same topic a few years back. I didn't mind being named but I was still referred to as ‘Jane' or something.

I readily admitted that an ex-boyfriend had kept all videos and pictures of myself (and us, of course) that I have long deleted. He still stalks me till today, even though it's really been YEARS.

He's perverted, God knows if he has shown it to his friends or even his dad. Maybe after this blog entry of mine, something might surface?

I know what I want and I know who I am. Not many things can shake me anymore, dear world.

I would look back, and at, my pictures and videos and go, "Oh! They used to look like this...!" And I would definitely be so turned on. Wished I had kept a copy for myself.

This article first appeared on

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dear RPK

Dear RPK
26 Feb, 2009

Today, we will look at my responses to the comments in the article, For he’s a jolly good fellow (


Raja Petra Kamarudin

I oppose MB Khalid running to the sultan regarding Eli's case. Sultan should only exercise his duties within the ambit of the Constitution, no more no less. And yes, he should be above politics.



Dear aryn,

And which Article of the Selangor State Constitution were you referring to?


The Royals have two roles... to be a figurehead for all Malaysians and to be the upholders of Islam for the Malays.



Dear densemy,

Are you referring to the Federal Constitution of Malaysia or the various State Constitutions? By the way, Islam is the official religion of the Federation, not of the Malays, according to the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.


I don’t see the point of this article. We expect the royals to do their duty as Constitutional Monarchs, which is more or less what Sultan Selangor did. Maybe RPK missed the article by our former appeal court judge on the Perak issue on why the Perak Sultan could have erred in that issue. That’s one of the things that make people angry and say all kind of things.



Dear murali,

Maybe you can help trigger my memory. At 58 pushing 59, age, sooner or later, catches up on you. So a little help is in order. I have been scanning through the archives looking for the article I wrote that said His Highness the Sultan of Perak was right but can’t seem to find it.


Support does not necessarily need to be a direct, visible one. In fact, indirect support can be just as potent, if not more. And I am also sure many of us will be there in spirit if YM RPK gets sent back (but not so sure of Malaysians' "stamina" in remembering daily the people in unjust detention).



Dear sulphate,

Great suggestion. In the next general election, whenever that is going to be, we should all support Pakatan Rakyat in spirit. I mean, it is not necessary to actually be there in person to vote. As long as we support Pakatan Rakyat in spirit I am sure they will be able to win the election.


These are fundamental issues, which we must deal with. If we are not brave enough and continue to fudge moral, philosophical and democratic values, then we as Malaysians will be caught in the morass, which we are in now for a long time yet!



Dear Proarte,

This is the best comment so far. Now I only have to figure out what you actually said. I like that part about being brave, though. I mean, who but you dare put his full name and address to his/her posting like how you have done.


I will eat my shoe and campaign all out for him.

Admiral Tojo


Dear Admiral Tojo,

Shoe fetish is actually quite a common thing. Many men get really turned on by sucking women’s high heels. It gives them an adrenalin rush during sex. That is by far much safer than asphyxiation, which can sometimes lead to death.


Today the devil has entered RPK’s mind and that is why he wrote crap!



Dear ahmadneil,

The devil is actually quite smart, at least according to the Holy Books of the Abrahamic faiths. The devil is so smart he managed to make a deal with God to mislead mankind and, know what, God agreed to the deal. I am sure if the devil had really entered my mind I would not have written crap. I wrote crap because I had no assistance from the devil.


Can I be wrong if I say I want Malaysia to be a Republic, not because I don't like the Sultan, but because I think a republic is better and can save a lot of money and criticism?



Dear ahmadneil,

It all depends on whether you are speaking from the legalistic point of view. According to Malaysia’s Sedition Act, asking for the Monarchy to be abolished and for the country to be turned into a Republic constitutes a crime. I suggest you go turn yourself in at the nearest police station. But get a good lawyer first, though. You will need one.


Today, RPK wrote just because we all say something about the Sultan of Perak and RPK don't like the way we said it. He has royal blood and so if he say it then it's okay but if we say it then it's not okay.



Dear ahmadneil,

I just want to keep your sorry arse out of jail. Thus far, more than a dozen people who commented in Malaysia Today have received visits from the police and one has actually been charged for sedition and is awaiting trial. I too was hauled in to Bukit Aman for criticising the Negeri Sembilan ruler back in 2004. They raided my house and confiscated my computer. But then I made the mistake of writing under my own name and not under a fictitious name like you. Anyway, I do hope you are ‘well-covered’. If not, well, then it was nice knowing you.


Dear RPK, I think you have made a couple of statements that are not really proper.



Dear tanahairku2,

Hey, you sound just like Umno. Umno too says that I have made a couple of statements which are not really proper. What a coincidence.


RPK, isn't this exactly what you taught us to do? Support Anwar and PR when they do right and whack them when they do wrong? Well, the same applies to the sultans. If they act wisely and do not usurp the people's vote, then we indeed ought to honour, not worship, them. But if they knowingly take what is ours and give it to the thieves, then we will indeed vilify them, as we have done to the Sultan of Perak and as we will do to the Sultan of Selangor if he does as his uncle did. Maybe we don't always sound intelligent, but give us some credit for being smart enough to differentiate between a fart and a whiff of perfume.



Dear Liberace,

Liberace was gay. Is that why you chose this name? Hmm…wink, wink….

Sure, whack the Sultans by all means. I did not say you should not whack them did I? I too have whacked them many times. In fact, I not only whacked the late Sultan of Selangor, who was then the Agong, but also the entire Royal Council of Selangor, many who are my uncles. And the present Sultan of Selangor was not spared either.

Tuanku called me in to the palace one day to talk to me about that and I told him why I whacked him and he agreed that the matter had merits -- meaning they deserved the whacking. But just make sure you are prepared to face the Sedition Act when the boys in blue from Buklt Aman track you down. Be vocal but also be brave enough to pay for being vocal. I am not saying that I agree we should not be allowed freedom of speech. I am saying that Malaysia does not allow freedom of speech. And that is what Malaysia Today is fighting for -- freedom of speech.


DYMM Sultan of Perak is a Constitutional Monarch. So DYMM should act according to the law. The Constitution had clearly spelt out how to sack the MB. If he follows the Constitution I don’t think Perak Constitutional crisis will occur.



Dear Rozlan,

And what does the Perak State Constitution say about the matter? Please enlighten me because I am yet to read it.


This RPK, I told you once, he have a pair of suspicious 'Tiger Look' eye, very unpredictable, its difficult to read his mind, very slippery, read carefully the contents of this article of his, if you don’t understand, repeat until you find out what he means, it look simple, but very complicated, not easy, very uneasy, good luck, folks!!!



Dear biggun129,

You sound very confused.


As for the royalties and I admit I am one of them that call for Republic of Malaysia because I expect too much out of one of the most educated royalty in Malaysia.



Dear Daryl,

Sorry, but the Federal Constitution of Malaysia does not provide for that. But all is not lost. The Philippines, Indonesia, China, etc., are all Republics. So there is still hope for you there.


This is the second article YM RPK have posted calling the PR people dumb-ass chickens who are no match to thieves and foxes. So you whack the PR people for being stupid instead of corrupt. Hmm….

teo siew chin


Dear teo siew chin,

That’s just the point. Some of the Pakatan Rakyat people -- PPK, PAS and DAP included -- are corrupt. If not then Barisan Nasional would not be able to buy them for any amount of money.


So Uncle Pete, u r saying HRH made the rite decision in Perak? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!

Ok, now I only know I am an idiot!



Dear smeagrooo,

I suppose you are an idiot, as you say, when you read my article as saying that His Highness the Sultan of Perak did the right thing when I never said such a thing.


I am with Ahmadneil on establishing a Republic Malaysia rather than the current constitutional monarch. Why? The current system is open to abuse like what we saw in Perak. I think we are better off without the sultans.



Dear tan_eng,

I have to agree with you here. Any system open to abuse has to be abolished. I would like to abolish elections, parliament, the judiciary, the police, the government in general, education, and almost everything -- as these are prone to abuse as well, as this country has shown.


I stand to be corrected if RPK can point to us where does it say in the Perak state constitution that the Sultan can sack the MB.



Dear shamadz72,

I am not sure. I have not read the Perak State Constitution yet. Maybe you can enlighten me.


Frankly who gives a Damn about Agong and Sultan now after the Perak hero to zero Fiasco? Only those people who hold on to tradition, songkok and Myth think this Sultan S'gor did some EXTRAORDINARY and Superlative Feat/decision to MB Khalid!!



Dear Wongnoball,

I have to agree with you. Traditions suck. Why the hell do Malaysians fight so hard to uphold old and outdated traditions like lion dances, mother-tongue education, places of worship, and all that nonsense. Hey, as you said, who gives a damn about traditions? Some traditions are in fact new inventions, which did not exist back in the old days thousand of years ago, Chinese traditions being one case in point.


RPK, most of the time, I really love to read your articles. But, out of hundreds or maybe thousands articles that you or someone else have posted it in MT, this is the third among thousands articles that really make me sick, feel ill, and stomach-ache!!



Dear Tompios

It must have been something you ate yesterday. If, today, you still feel sick, ill, and have a stomach-ache, maybe you should go see a doctor in case it is something serious.


In times like this when the politician are playing extremely dirty, don't you think someone who is respectable and royal should come out and say a few fair words to stop all this nonsense?



Dear joseph81,

I am not sure what you mean by ‘fair words’. Also, do you mean that the Monarchs should not stay above politics and remain neutral? I’m a bit confused here. We can’t ask the Monarchs to remain neutral when Pakatan Rakyat is having the upper hand and then ask them to intervene when Pakatan Rakyat’s position is at stake.

The ‘fair’ thing for the Sultans of Perak and Selangor to do would have been to swear in the legally registered political party with the largest minority (no one had the majority) in the State Assembly soon after the 8 March 2008 general election. And that would have been Barisan Nasional since it is a legally registered party and has more seats than all the other parties such as PKR, PAS and DAP.

But the Sultans of Perak and Selangor did not play ‘fair’. They allowed Pakatan Rakyat a week’s grace to combine the seats of the three individual parties so that they can ‘outgun’ Barisan Nasional. But Barisan Nasional did not whack the Sultans. They just quietly licked their wounds and retreated to fight another day. Then they researched into which of the Pakatan Rakyat Wakil Rakyat are corrupt and can be bought. And then they went on a shopping spree and bought over the corrupt Pakatan Rakyat Wakil Rakyat.

And you know what? We knew all along they were buying over Pakatan Rakyat Wakil Rakyat but we did nothing about it. In fact, we said ‘our people’ could not be bought. But we were wrong. They could be bought and were bought. And we whack the Sultans because the Pakatan Rakyat Wakil Rakyat are slime-balls and scumbags who are corrupt and can be bought.

I feel like kicking myself, not the Sultans. When I drop my pants and bend down and someone buggers my arsehole I feel stupid if I knew all along that that person was standing behind me with an erection and waiting to shove his dick into my arse.