Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Top Malaysian dishes - are they good or bad for you?

By Flora McCraith, MSN Malaysia, Updated: 9/23/2009

Top Malaysian dishes - are they good or bad for you?

Think Malaysia, think food. We take a look at the most iconic Malaysian foods to find out which are nutritionally good and which are unhealthy for you. Brace yourselves!

AP Photo

AP Photo

Managing your weight by calorie counting is a big challenge when it comes to Malaysian food – there’s often little or no nutritional information available for our diverse and unique delicacies. But we at MSN have just what you need. Our breakdown of the GI (Glycaemic Index) and calorie content in the most popular Malaysian dishes will help you sort the good from the bad.

The GI measures the effect carbohydrates in the food item have on our blood sugar level – the smaller the effect, the healthier it is and the better it is for sustainable weight loss.


Nasi Lemak

In one 230g serving of the nation’s favourite breakfast food, there are about 100-400 calories and needless to say, a sizeable amount of fat. Its GI value of 67 is also relatively high. For a slightly healthier option, swap the fried egg for a boiled one.



Good news is, the meat itself isn’t unhealthy; it is actually a good source of protein with just 2g of fat and 135 calories per skewer. But, if you’re watching your weight, stay away from the peanut sauce. The combination of peanut butter and coconut milk will be your diet downfall.


Curry Laksa

A 450g serving of laksa racks up 360 calories on the counter. For a healthier version, boil the broth with yoghurt instead of coconut milk. Surprisingly, while no exact figure is available, laksa actually has a very low GI value, due to its lack of carbohydrates.



A 90g portion of beef rending contains approximately 208 calories, 108 of which coming from its saturated fat content. However, it’s GI value is relatively low at just 35.


Roti Canai

The devil in disguise. If you thought you wouldn’t be doing much harm with the simple bread, you’d be wrong. Because of the oil it’s cooked in and prepared with, roti canai is laden with calories and has a very high GI value. Stick to normal bread if you’re really watching your weight.



Low in cholesterol and sodium, the fleshy fruit may be hard to stomach for many, but is an excellent source of dietary fibre. A whole fruit weighing about 602g contains about 885 calories, 269 of which come from saturated fats.


Nonya Kuihs

While exact nutritional values differ depending on the type of kuihs, in general, all are packed with sugar and very high in calories.


Char Koay Teow

Aside from being high in cholesterol and sodium, one 385g serving of this hawker favourite floods your body with 39g of fat and 742 kilocalories. Its GI value is also relatively high at 55. It doesn’t get much worse than this.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The reason Temasek sold BII to Maybank: because it was a bad investment (UPDATED IN CHINESE)

The reason Temasek sold BII to Maybank: because it was a bad investment (UPDATED IN CHINESE)
18 Sept, 2009

Temasek said the lower returns reflected the generally weaker operating performances of its portfolio companies as a result of the global slowdown, as well as gains and losses from S$16bn of divestments. These included the sale of Bank Internasional Indonesia.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Maybank should come clean and admit that the dilution in the RM 10.77 billion investments in PT Bank International Indonesia(BII) and Pakistan’s MCB Bank is RM 2.75 billion and not limited to the impairment losses of RM 1.97 billion. Maybank had reported that its 30 June 2009 fiscal year net profit plunged 76% to RM 692 million as a result of impairment losses of RM 1.62 billion for acquiring BII(in March 2008) and RM 353 million for acquiring MCB Bank.

This is not exactly true. If we consider other losses as revealed above due to exchange rate fluctuation and amortisation, Maybank lost not just RM 1.97 billion but RM 2.75 billion. This RM 780 million difference between RM 1.97 billion and RM 2.75 billion losses may not be big by banking standards but huge for Malaysian public interests.

Looking at the graph above (see at, Maybank bought BII for RM 7.9 billion which is worth only RM 5.77 billion now and paid RM 2.87 billion for MCB Bank which is worth only RM 2.25 billion now. In other words Maybank incurred RM 2.13 billion loss for BII and RM 620 million loss for MCB Bank for a total loss of RM 2.75 billion.

Even though Maybank was advised not to proceed with the acquisition, Maybank had stubbornly and irresponsibly pressed on to spend an incredible RM 10.8 billion to acquire banks in Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam, months before the global financial crisis erupted last year. Now Maybank conceded that it has lost RM 2.75 billion in these investments in over a year.

Lim Kit Siang



Temasek gains $30bn from market rally

By Kevin Brown in Singapore, The Financial Times

Published: September 17 2009

The global market rally had added S$42bn (US$29.7bn) to the market value of Temasek’s investment portfolio since the end of March, Singapore’s state investment company said on Thursday.

The mark-to-market value of the portfolio fell to S$130bn at the end of the financial year in March, but recovered to S$172bn by the end of July — just 7 per cent below its peak of S$185bn in March last year.

Temasek said the recovery reflected its efforts to “continue to reshape our portfolio mix actively”. However, it also said the recovery since March was “broadly in line with the markets”.

In its annual review, the group said net profit fell to S$6bn for the financial year, compared with S$18bn in the previous year. Its total shareholder returns for the year fell by 30 per cent, measured by market value, but remained at 16 per cent over the 35 years since the group was founded.

The sharp fall in profits means that some Temasek executives will suffer cuts in remuneration as bonuses are clawed back for the first time in the company’s history.

However, S. Dhanabalan, chairman, said the worst of the global crisis was over, thanks to extraordinary fiscal and monetary measures set in place by the US and other governments. “These moves have averted extreme meltdown risks, but added the risks of inflation and asset misallocations in the medium term,” he said.

Temasek said the lower returns reflected the generally weaker operating performances of its portfolio companies as a result of the global slowdown, as well as gains and losses from S$16bn of divestments.

These included the sale of stakes in Bank of America and Barclays, the UK bank, as well as positions in Bank Internasional Indonesia and China Minsheng Bank, but not the proposed sale of a 62 per cent stake in Singapore’s loss making Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, which has yet to be completed.

Temasek defended its sale of the 3.8 per cent holding in BofA, which is estimated by analysts to have incurred a loss of between US$2.3bn and US$4.6bn and attracted unusual public criticism in Singapore.

The group said it decided to sell in spite of incurring a loss because the risk-return profile of its initial US$5.9bn holding in Merrill Lynch “shifted substantially” after the investment bank was acquired by BofA in January.

It made no comment on the sale of a stake of almost 2 per cent in Barclays, which is also thought by analysts to have incurred a loss. Other divestments included two power generating companies in Singapore, completing a divestment programme involving three generators that raised more than S$11bn.

The improvement in the value of the portfolio includes the impact of investments of nearly S$5bn in the nine months to the end of July as the group took up its share of rights issues in companies including Standard Chartered, the UK bank, Singapore’s DBS banking group and CapitaLand, the Singapore property group.

Temasek said it had invested a total of S$9bn during the financial year, including about S$700m for a stake of less than 5 per cent in Hong Kong-based Li & Fung, one of the world’s biggest supply chain managers.

The group did not directly address claims by critics that its portfolio losses last year reflected over-investment in western assets, including holdings in financial groups acquired as the global financial crisis was beginning.

However, it said its underlying exposure to Singapore and the 30 developed economies of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development had been reduced from more than 80 per cent to just over 50 per cent. OECD exposure now accounts for about 20 per cent of investments, mostly in Australia.

The group also said that returns from investments made since March 2002, when it began to invest widely in Asia following the appointment of Ho Ching as chief executive, had been significantly greater than returns on earlier investments, which were mostly in Singapore.

It said the annualised return on investments for the past seven years was 19 per cent, compared to 9 per cent for those made before the change in strategy. “We have increased our exposure to Asia since 2002, riding with its deep and long wave of growth and transformation,” it said.

The group said it was “optimistic” about Asia’s long term potential and would target exposure to the region at about 40 per cent of investments, including 20 per cent in China, with Singapore remaining steady at about 30 per cent, OECD countries at 20 per cent and other regions at 10 per cent.

It made no comment on possible listings for major holdings such as Singapore Power and PSA, the Singapore ports operator, which were last month identified by Ms Ho as possible candidates for public offerings.

Officials have said that decisions on when and whether to list will be left to the operating companies’ boards. Bankers in Singapore say any listing of PSA is unlikely for two to three years.

Translated into Chinese at:

Polygamous marriage is beneficial: club

Polygamous marriage is beneficial: club

Sep 20, 2009
The New Straits Times

By: Sonia Ramachandran and Chandra Devi Renganayar

KUALA LUMPUR: All Muslim women should open their hearts to polygamous marriages.

Ikhwan Polygamy Club spokesperson Hatijah Aam said this was because a woman had nine nafsu (internal desires) and one intellect whereas men had nine intellect and only one nafsu.

"When women are upset, they make a lot of noise, but men don't. The emotional nature of women makes them broadcast their problems. They rant and rave.

"Because this is their character, God allowed polygamy to challenge women to control their desires," said Hatijah, the second wife of Ashaari Muhammad, the founder of the controversial and now-defunct Al-Arqam movement.

"When the husband hurts them by taking another wife, their nafsu are challenged and curbed, and this makes them better people.

"A woman when left to her desires becomes very dangerous like a tiger. In fact, even fiercer than that. If the world is left to women, we will be open to continuous war."

The Al-Arqam movement was declared illegal by the National Fatwa Council in August 1994 after the group's teachings and beliefs were found to be against Islam. At its height, the movement had 10,000 members.

Polygamy, said Hatijah, would ensure that women were not controlled by their nafsu.

"When I feel sad that my husband is with another wife, he (my husband) will remind me that the pain God bestows upon us is a way to eradicate our sins.

"The husband is the leader who saves women from being consumed by their desires. There is a verse in the Quran which says that if the nafsu are not controlled, then 'nafsu itu akan menjadi Tuhan' (the desires will become God).

"Polygamy is the most practical approach, an effective cure to a woman's desire."

Hatijah said women in monogamous marriages were not challenged and that was dangerous as their nafsu could then control them.

"Why see only the negative in polygamous marriages? We can share a life as sisters. It is the nafsu that do not allow us to share and that is why men are there to suppress it.

"A polygamous marriage is actually beneficial.

"We can help each other with many chores including looking after the husband and children. The other wives come into our life to complement it."

Hatijah said one of the reasons the Ikhwan Polygamy Club was established was because Ashaari wanted to show the world he was living proof that polygamous marriages could be successful.

Ashaari has 38 children, eight of them with Hatijah. Twenty-three of the children are in polygamous marriages.

"Having been in a successful polygamous marriage for 30 years, Abuya (Ashaari) wanted to show that it could be a harmonious way of life.

"We also wanted to shock society. We wanted to show them there is an alternative for those who practise free sex. There are men who need more than one woman."

She said some monogamous marriages were failures as the men cheated on their wives.

"They are leading life as in the Jahiliah era (age of pagan ignorance preceding Islam) when men had many mistresses without any responsibilities."

The idea of the club was mooted in August and was launched in Sungai Petani, Kedah.

Hatijah said the club's activities included counselling, courses and organising weddings for polygamous marriages.

"One of the first activities we will carry out is counselling. We will have one set of lectures explaining practical steps towards a harmonious polygamous marriage.

"We have 40 men and women motivational counsellors to conduct this. We will also organise courses every weekend.

"Training towards a harmonious polygamous marriage is more difficult than training to become a doctor."

When there is a problem in a polygamous marriage, the issue will be taken to the board of advisers which comprise the highest ranking officers in the club.

Five men and five women sit on the board. They include Hatijah and Ashaari.

"Here we will have meetings to decide the outcome of the marriage and whether there should be a divorce or not. Divorce is allowed by God."

About 300 families comprising some 900 individuals are members of the club.

Some of the families are from Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, Jordan and Syria.

They are all part of the Global Ikhwan Sdn Bhd group, a business entity which has over 10,000 members. Businesses under Global Ikhwan include bakeries, sundry shops and restaurants.

Ashaari helms the group which funds the activities of his followers.

Who is the club open to?

"All individuals who practise the Islamic way of life. We have had many enquiries about the club, including from some Datuks in polygamous marriages."

Asked if she had been criticised for starting such a club, Hatijah said: "There has been no backlash at all, just a lot of support.

"I think I receive this support because people see polygamy as a solution and a way out of adultery."

The club has a theme song entitled Keluarga Role Model.

Hatijah said the club would ensure that men who married more than one woman were able to sustain their marriages.

"The men do not choose the wives they marry. Instead, Abuya decides who the men should marry and they rarely refuse.

"Only men who Abuya believes have leadership qualities and who can manage a polygamous lifestyle are chosen."

Asked whether she had ever regretted entering into a polygamous marriage, Hatijah said: "I have been declared founder of this club with my husband.

"There is no way I regret entering this marriage.

"Of course, in the 30 years that I have been married there were times I wished out of this life.

"I asked God for a way out but now after 30 years, I am reaping the benefits and I can say that polygamy is beautiful."

Hatijah said for a man to be just and fair he has to teach his wife that her first love must always be God.

"If you can't teach your wife to love God, marry only one.

"If a man wants to give more to one wife, he will be prevented from doing so because of his love for God. God says that if you love one wife more, you cannot show it."

Asked whether her mother was in a polygamous marriage, Hatijah said: "No, during my mother's time, there was not much emphasis on religion. My mother now accepts my way of life."

As for her controversial move to call on prostitutes to join the club, Hatijah said Ashaari wanted to "save everyone".

"If I was a prostitute, what would my life be like? People can talk, but what is the way out for them?

"Who says polygamy is oppressive? It is the way out. They can become a wife and be protected legally. In fact we are going to start with five women with HIV soon. We will place them in a shelter.

"We will counsel them, treat them medically and teach them the Islamic way of life.

"When they are back on the right path, we will advise them to get married and assist them in every way."

She said wives whose husbands wanted to take another wife should know that their husbands still loved them.

"They should realise how much it hurts their husbands when they (the wives) ask for a divorce. They should realise they are losing a man who loves them." -NST

Friday, September 18, 2009

Free eye checks on Oct 11

Free eye checks on Oct 11
Thu, Sep 17, 2009
my paper

By Joy Fang

SINGAPOREANS are not getting their eyes checked often enough, a survey done last month has shown.

Of 324 adult Singaporeans surveyed, 65.7 per cent of them either did not remember when they last had their eyes checked, or had them checked too infrequently.

Half of those surveyed said that they did not realise regular checks are needed, while 17.4 per cent said that it was inconvenient.

Shipping executive Jason Cher, 28, has his eyes checked only every three years, when he needs a new pair of spectacles.

"I'm lazy, and I don't feel the need because I don't find any problems with my eyes," he said.

Dr Julian Theng, medical director of Eagle Eye Centre, said regular eye checks are necessary.

He explained: "There are many conditions which progress without us realising it, such as glaucoma, which you need to check on even if you do not notice that your vision is getting blurred. When you start to notice it, it might be too late."

Those who don corrective eyewear should get a check every year, while those who do not should do so every two years.

The public can get basic eye screening done by opticians or optometrists at optical shops for $25-$35, or a more in-depth check by eye specialists for about $80.

The survey also found that myths about eyecare remain widespread. Two in three respondents thought that eating carrots will improve eyesight, and that children can outgrow eye problems naturally.

The survey was done by the Singapore Optometric Association, Singapore Opticianry Practitioners and French eyewear company Essilor Asia Pacific.

To raise public awareness of eye care, they will offer free eye checks on Oct 11 - World Sight Day - in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, and launch a website with eye-care tips ( by the end of the month.

Advertisements will also be aired on 460 screens in more than 200 office buildings over two months.

Eye care tips
  • Lubricate your eyes with eye drops after a long day in the office.
  • Lower the height of the computer screen so that your eyes look slightly downwards. This reduces the risk of having dry eyes.
  • Wear a pair of shades or glasses that protect against ultraviolet rays while outdoors, even if it is not sunny. Your eyes still risk being damaged by ultraviolet rays in cloudy weather.
  • Take an "eye break" after every 30 minutes of reading or "near work".
  • Have a balanced diet to give your eyes the necessary vitamins.
  • See an eye-care professional for regular checks. A proper eye check takes about 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Balance the time you wear glasses and contact lenses, to rest your eyes.