Belly Dancing Hot Potato

Should somebody who's responsible also be held accountable? Normally, yes, but there are exceptions...

The Selangor Public Accounts committee (PAC) organised a trip to Egypt for eleven people. A few days before it was due to take place, opposition assemblyman Ng Suee Lim pulled out, citing disatisfaction with the eight-day itinerary - it included a trip down the Nile with belly dancing, and he felt it was inappropriate use of public funds.

Now, the issue is that the tour operator still needs to be paid, since it all happened at the last minute.

Solution? Since Ng (DAP, Sekinchan) had caused the cancellation, the PAC has suggested that accountability should lie with him.

In particular, Datuk Ahmad Bhari (BN, Taman Templer), the tour coordinator for PAC, suggested that the state cut Ng's allowances as compensation.

I suppose his logic is, "if he had kept his mouth shut, they wouldn't have cancelled the trip, so it's his fault-lah".

I guess he must be peeved with all this, especially since he'd taken the effort to draw up the itinerary in the first place, eh?
posted on Monday, February 07, 2005 - permalink
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Illegal Immigrant Workers: Good or Bad thing?

There has been some press lately over the 'extension' to the amnesty granted to illegal foreign workers. Although the newspapers are filled with statements from the government, very little has been written (as far as I can see) about why the government may be not serious about kicking out illegals. Anyway, how did this all come about?

The truth is, if all illegal immigrants left at the same time, large sectors of the service and construction industry would grind to a halt. It's not uncommon these days to order somethig in a mamak stall and discover that the waiter doesn't speak Malay, but is instead memorising phrases which are repeated to the kitchen. I'm particular sometimes about what I order ("kuah dhal satu, campur dengan kuah kari ikan sikit"), so I do get other people coming back to me to check what I said.

It's easy to take advantage of the low wages that the illegals are willing to work for. In a sense, it fuels the local economy by keeping costs low and subsequently increasing demand. A part-timer at KFC or McDonalds makes RM4 an hour plus meals. Just imagine what a construction worker or mamak shop backroom cook would be making.

In fact, illegal workers aren't really a problem if they're working.

It's not necessarily a bad thing. The problem stems from the increasing education and expectation of the general public. Someone who has been to University isn't going to be happy with a menial job. In short, an increasing reliance on lower-income foreign workers is an indicator of the standard of living of the average citizen.

The problems begin when there isn't enough work to do and many of these immigrants find themselves out of a job. In order to survive, they need to turn to an alternative means of income, some of them possibly illegal.

So, if we take an increased demand to mean a good thing, then a decreased demand for foreign workers may mean a bad thing: that the economy isn't as strong as before.

Of course, when you have a surplus, the easiest way to solve it is to get rid of the surplus, to ship them back from where they came from.

Therefore, it is in the country's interest to be lax allowing illegal workers in, so it's easier to get rid of them later.
posted on Monday, February 07, 2005 - permalink
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iPod Blues

Not two days after I wrote up my "ain't iPods great" post, guess what? My iPod died.

I mean like, completely died. Nothing on the LCD, no reassuring wheel clicks, zip when I plug it into a computer or a power outlet.

As you might understand, I was very upset. Very.

Anyway, here are a list of things to do when your iPod dies:

Hopefully, by next week, sanity will have returned to the universe again.
posted on Tuesday, February 01, 2005 - permalink
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I'm in a mood for a rant. Things haven't been going so well lately, and I feel rant-ful. What I am going to complain about has been around for some time, so it's less a case of insight and more of "me too".

We all know about the tsunami that occured last December and the devastation it caused. We also know of the vast amounts raised as people responded by the millions. Well, so have corporations. How do we know this? Because they tell us so. Over and over again.

I have no problems with corporations that donate anonymously, without a lot of fanfare. They're doing a good thing. On the other hand, the ones that present large mock cheques and appear on the front pages strike me as being self-serving. I have no idea how much an ad on the front page of a national daily costs, but they'd better be donating at least that much. But, still, I grit my teeth and bear it.

However, the ones I really get upset about are those who promise to donate on your behalf but only if you buy theiir products. "10% donated to tsunami aid for every purchase", it says. I'd rather them give me a 10% discount and trust me to donate the rest myself. They can even put a strongbox next to the restaurant. But don't dress up what is basically a promotion or advertisement as an act of generosity.

I'm still waiting for the ad that says, "Instead of buying an RM8 cup of coffee from us, give the money to someone who needs it".
posted on Tuesday, February 01, 2005 - permalink
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