Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The winner of Toyo vs KJ vs Mukhriz (Not Actually) Debate is...

When I was in the form five, I was the captain of my school debating team which subsequently the winner of Kuantan district and I was the best orator (I think group 2, another group won by Sek. Men Sains).

After series of gruelling debates with other district champions, we made it to the semi-final for the Pahang state level, i.e. Piala Sultan Ahmad Shah debate championship. We lost marginally to the eventual winner of that year, Sek. Men. Keb. Temerloh.

I was devastated for not being successful to reach the final, it was my dream as I was not from sekolah berasrama penuh and would not be able to be contesting in Piala Perdana Menteri.

Our opponents were from upper six class, matured styles and unlike previous debates, I had to admit, I made some mistakes during the semi-final heat. My confidence was low and kept forgetting my 'points' due to nervousness.

That was a different atmosphere and I lost my temperament as well as my sense of humour, which was my weapon to attack the opponents weak points with styles. Attack them with some jokes and put them in defensive by laughing at themselves. I was attacked brutally and could not think fast enough to counter attack during 'penggulungan'!
However in different championship, I was later crowned a state champion for a syarahan in the final round at Sek. Men. Mahmud Raub. Then I represented Pahang in the federal level. Great moments with great pride to be solo on the stage and blasted whatever to the audience (well, judges) since the opponents were other aspiring orators on solo acts, not like debate i.e. face to face.

This experience did help me later in my career. Years later in San Francisco, I offered myself to be an international committee for a global graphic society and was requested to give a campaign speech in front of thousands of international participants. I did it in five minutes (the longest five minutes on stage...really nervous with my no-so-good English) and voted for a 2 year term, it could be that I was the only one from Asia and not many really understood my Manglish! But what a damn, I did it for the sake of experience.

Therefore, reading the Malaysiakini report on ketua pemuda UMNO contenders so-called debate is really a farce, joke...they should really be debating and attacking each other manifesto, not interviewed! Pondan lah gitu.

Clash of Umno's young Turks
Feb 17, 09 11:46pm
Three candidates in the race for Umno Youth chiefs participated in a rare live television debate tonight, which turned out to be more of an interview between the trio and the moderator.

It was a clash between pedigree and experience, with a former PM’s son, the outgoing PM’s son-in-law and an ex-mentri besar of the country’s richest state vying for Umno Youth’s biggest prize.

The ‘What is Umno Youth’s agenda in the post-general election?’ debate however was not exactly a debate. Each of the candidate were questioned separately by the moderator, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Professor Dr Mohammad Agus Yusoff.
While Mukriz Mahathir has notched up the highest nominations (74), with Dr Mohd Khir Toyo in second place (62) and Khairy Jamaluddin in the last spot (53), the contest is still wide open as the trio enter the final lap before next month’s Umno general assembly.Nevertheless, Khir Toyo, having served eight years as Selangor MB, is widely hailed as the frontrunner in the contest, while Khairy has become the underdog.
During the one-hour debate beginning 9.30pm, which was carried live by TV9, all three who were dressed in standard-issue Umno Youth uniform - white shirt and black pants - pointedly avoided attacking one another.
Khairy the odd one out
As the debate progressed, it became clear that Khairy was the odd one out - he was seen defending the government led by his father-in-law, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, while his two rivals called for major reforms.
“I don’t believe that there have not be any changes,” Khairy, who is the best orator of the three, told that 350-strong audience at the Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka in Kuala Lumpur.
He said that the government had in the past few months implemented new laws, including in the fight against corruption and judicial reforms.
The debate covered a wide range of issues, among them reforms in Umno, the Internal Security Act (ISA), high cost of living as a result of the sharp hike in petrol prices, the teaching of mathematics and science in English, Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy), the need to win back support from non-Malays, the social contract and the New Economic Policy.

On the hot button issue of ISA, Mukriz said he was in favour of using the law which allows detention without trial against those who pose a threat to national security and racial harmony.

“When we allow people to hold demonstrations and protests without enforcing the laws, such as ISA, to control the situation, it will result in by-elections not going our way,” he said.

On the other hand, Khairy said he was willing to discuss amendments to the ISA, especially on the extensive powers given to the home minister in ordering the detention of citizens.

Meanwhile Khir Toyo, like Mukriz, took the hardline in urging for the strengthening of ISA but was quick to add that the government should explain to the public on why such a tough security law is needed.
“The action from the government has been weak, for example the Karpal (Singh) issue. After more than 100 police report lodged, there is still no action taken. This has been a disappointment...,” he said.
Khir Toyo has the most applause
On the controversial issue of the teaching of maths and science in English, Khairy and Mukhriz again disagreed - the former was in favour of reverting back to Bahasa Malaysia as the main medium of instruction while the latter supported his father, former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who implemented the existing policy.
“Personally I think there need to be changes because the effectiveness of the programme is not proven, especially in the rural areas,” said Khairy.
Mukhriz argued the need to continue the English policy. “I agree that ‘bahasa jiwa bangsa’ (language is the soul of the race), but we have to make sure we do not lose our competitiveness, not only against other races but other countries.”
Khir Toyo, who was seen as most stringent in the defence of Malay rights, was the most popular debater among the audience - he received the most applause from the floor during the debate.
“Jika tumbang politik Melayu, tumbang la negara (Malay politics is backbone of the country). That's why we are different from MCA, Gerakan and others,” he said.
However, he was put on a defensive when told that he lost the state of Selangor to Pakatan Rakyat.
Khir Toyo argued that BN lost not just Selangor but four other states and he blamed the federal government handling of national issues for the defeat.
“Great leaders come back from defeat,” he said, referring to Abdullah in 1993, Mahathir in 1969 and Prophet Muhammad.
Meanwhile, in answer to the last question from the moderation, Khary conceded that he had a tough task in changing the negative public perception of him but argued that he was working hard on the ground to overhaul his image.

1,000,000 hits...thank you

This is one of those great moments in my life.

This blog is into million hits club.

Thank you and time to let other things into equation. Writing books and more creative articles.

Terimakasih kepada semua yang sudi melawat dan membaca serta memberi sokongan.

Jam 9.20 pm Dubai - 1 juta hits!

Bung Mokhtar Radin - MP Kinabatangan is a bad element

Language activists protest 'bad elements' tag
Jimadie Shah Othman Feb 17, 09 5:44pm

The coalition against the teaching of science and maths in English (GMP) has criticised Kinabatangan MP Bung Mokhtar Radin for calling language activists “anasir” (bad elements) in the Dewan Rakyat today.

parliament 170209 argument between bung mokthar dan gerakan memansuhkan ppsmi“As a MP, he should use his language properly and politely,” said GMP secretary Hasni Abas and Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka union chairperson.

Hasni urged Bung Mokhtar to be a gentleman and apologise over the incident.

Earlier today in the Dewan Rakyat, Bung Mokhtar had touched on GMP’s visit to Parliament today and indirectly referred to the delegation as “anasir”.
The GMP delegation of about 10 people were in Parliament to hand a memorandum to several MPs and cabinet ministers, calling for the abolishment of teaching of science and maths in English.

Following Bung Mokhtar’s outburst, GMP members confronted him in the Parliament lobby and a short exchanged ensued over the “anasir” comment.

parliament 170209 wakil gerakan memansuhkan ppsmiHasni described the meeting with Bung Mokthar as “tense” as the latter and the GMP delegation had widely differing views on the language issue.

According to Hasni, the GMP delegation was eventually shown the door by Bung Mokthar who is also Barisan Nasional’s backbenchers club deputy chair.
The GMP delegation included national laureate A Samad Said, UKM mathematics professor Shahril Mohd Zain and UPSI Malay language lecturer Abdullah Hassan.

BN and opposition given memo
Among the BN leaders approached by GMP this morning were Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Shahrir Samad, Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Education Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

“As usual, they said they would study (the memorandum),” said Hasni when asked about the BN leaders’ reactions.
parliament 170209 gerakan memansuhkan ppsmi pcOpposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, who is also Marang MP, received the memorandum for a second time. The first was during the Kuala Terengganu by-election campaign on Jan 17.

GMP, known in its Malay name as Gerakan Mansuhkan PPSMI, is a coalition of 14 NGOs. Some of its pro-tem committee members include opposition politicians such as Bachok MP Nasharuddin Mat Isa.

Catatan Peristiwa GMP di Parlimen

Jam 9.30 pagi, delegasi pemimpin-pemimpin GMP mula berjalan kaki dari Tugu Negara menuju Parlimen. Tiba di persimpangan jalan masuk ke Parlimen, kira-kira 40 orang polis beruniform sudah menunggu. Itu adalah halangan pertama.

Sdr. Rozan Azen membuka kain rentang spanduk anti PPSMI. Ia menyebabkan trafik bergerak perlahan kerana mereka cuba membaca tulisan pada kain rentang. Beberapa lama kemudian polis mengarahkan supaya kain rentang itu dilipat, kalau tidak dia mahu rampas kain rentang itu.

Dato' Ustaz Abu Bakar Chik tiba-tiba datang dari arah Parlimen lalu bercakap-cakap dengan pegawai-pegawai polis. Beliau meminta polis mengizinkan delegasi meneruskan perjalanan ke Parlimen. Lama juga proses tawar-menawar itu, lalu sebahagian delegasi berjalan terus ke hadapan menuju Parlimen.


Jobseekers, Be tougher than the recession

Almost everyday now, I am losing colleagues who are retrenched. Not much can be done during this downturn. I could be next to bid goodbye....you'll never know.

The current recession has hurt a lot of workers and their families, and many analysts predict things may get worse in the near term prior to any recovery. Job losses are high, with many sectors of the economy laying off employees. Times are tough, but that is NOT the signal to just roll over and die. You need to develop a tough mindset. Hey, you were here before this recession, and you'll be around when it is gone.

The trick is to never quit. If you were just laid off from a job (or facing an upcoming layoff) develop or update your resume. Get in touch with friends and associates and network like mad. Have a set of "interview clothes" always ready. Be willing to work outside your regular profession. If you have any kind of degree, chances are you could be a substitute teacher. Health care jobs are probably as close to recession-proof as any line of work can possibly be. Working as a nurse's aide is hard and mostly thankless, but the world will always need caregivers, and it provides a steady paycheck.

Make a personal inventory of your strengths and skills. Chances are, you know how to do a lot of things, if given the chance. Look for every opportunity, and when you don't see one, find a way to CREATE one. Without a doubt, the current recession is tough. Be tougher!

Laid off? Try a new approach to your job search

There's nothing easy about job searching. What's frustrating for many job seekers is a disappointing response rate. However, it's important to note that a job search is a numbers game. For example: If you get your resume in front of 1000 employers, you should get 10-50 quality responses leading up to 5 interviews. If you don't pay attention to 'how' you are sending your resumes, your actions might only serve to put your resume in a pile with hundreds of others.

Consider a more focused approach to your job search. A search that increases the number and quality of responses by using a targeted list of industries and decision makers who are looking for people with your skills. This new type of search also employs an affordable delivery system that ensures your resume will be seen by the right person.

How to jump start your job search

There are ways to improve your chances of getting hired in a tough job economy. One way is to take advantage of local resources like career centers, and job networking groups. Career Centers can help you organize your job search efforts, restructure your resume and cover letter, and improve your interview technique.

Also, think about how you can improve your skill set. Computer skills and knowledge of software are often requirements of many jobs. Learning programs like Word, Excel, and understanding how to navigate the internet can set you apart from the pack. Online networking sites are also excellent resources for uncovering job leads. There are many career and business focused social networking sites that can assist you in your job search and help you post your resume.

Finally, don't underestimate your job history and experience. It's easy to overlook everyday natural skills and qualities that are valuable to employers. Make sure your resume lists all of your accomplishments and unique skills.

Job seekers network for motivation, hope

As unemployment rates rise, local professionals get together to share leads, tips and support. Experts and networking group leaders offer this advice for job seekers: The bigger your network is, the better. Let family members, friends, friends of friends and strangers know you're looking for work. Try to visit a variety of networking groups - some close to home, others far away.

Come up with a branding statement, a quick line about why someone should hire you. Carry a resume with you at all times. Get business networking cards, easily found online at little to no cost. They should include your name, e-mail address, phone number and relevant skills or a branding statement.

With unemployment rates reaching highs not seen in decades, career experts say networking has become more important than ever. New networking and support groups are springing up, and old ones are seeing new life. Employment experts estimate that more than 70% of jobs are found through personal contacts, such as those found at networking groups. Job seekers who participate in these groups say the networks offer leads, tips, motivation and, most importantly, hope in tough times.

YB Elizabeth Wong's Nude Photos Exposed

Hunt for Wong culprit
By Yushaimi Yahaya and Frankie D'Cruz February 17, 2009 Categories: News

Nude photographs of Selangor legislator Elizabeth Wong were handed over to the Petaling Jaya police last night by the Malay Mail.
A Bukit Aman task force, assigned to probe the case, is expected to interview several people, including a Parti Keadilan Rakyat member in his 30s said to be Wong’s former boyfriend, to identify the perpetrators behind the recording of the images.

The boyfriend, a former PKR divisional secretary and now an ordinary member, is a personal assistant to a PKR Member of Parliament.
Wong, 37, who is also Bukit Lanjan assemblyman and State executive councillor for tourism, consumer affairs and environment, told Malay Mail during a meeting last Friday that she had broken up with her boyfriend.

Malay Mail editors, who had alerted Wong to the pictures at the same meeting, handed over two images to senior police officers, who later recorded a brief statement from them last night.
One was a picture of her sleeping on the sofa of her Bukit Gasing home, and the other, with her private parts exposed. Police were also informed that Wong had confirmed that the pictures were taken in her home.

Wong had confirmed to Malay Mail at last Friday's meeting that the pictures were that of her but maintained that the identity of the photographer was a mystery. Police sources said the probe, to ascertain who had taken the pictures which Wong had claimed were taken without her consent, is expected to also cover a report published in theSun yesterday.

The newspaper had front-paged a report on the existence of “at least 10 other” photographs and video clips of a State assemblywoman. It reported that it had sighted two photographs and “at least 10 other pictures that have fallen into thehands of unscrupulous people who are attempting to use it for political purposes”.

theSun had said that the two photos it sighted showed a PKR State assemblywoman “asleep on a couch, her clothes ruffled and tousled, exposing intimate areas”.
Malay Mail also had a report yesterday on nude photographs of Wong being in public domain. In our report, we had stated that it was not known if the photos were widely available.
Wong, who issued a media statement yesterday after making a police report in Damansara the night before, is scheduled to give her full statement to the police this afternoon.

The Selangor State Exco is expected to meet this morning to discuss the matter.
Leaders of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition met last night to discuss the issue which has sparked a public debate, with Barisan Nasional and PR leaders as well as the public having mixed views.

Meet Malaysian Idol as the most wanted conman

Yes, most of United Malays National Organisation's leaders are the real CON-MEN in the country. From the president down to branch leaders, their ways of robbing our country are well known but most will be escaped (in this world but not hereafter, if they still have faith in Allah) with their conections and networks of thieves.

Then I read this report on a master fraudster who has managed to steal millions from no less than six states under United Malays National Organisation and its cohorts. Could he be another proxy of United Malays National Organisation gangs?

Beware of the Master fraudster

A man described as a “master fraudster” by police, who has fleeced funds from State governments and private businesses over the last nine years, has resurfaced.

Syed Ismail Syed Alwi, 38, who’s high on the Royal Malaysian Police’s wanted list, has todate chalked up a whopping 50 cases since 2005, with five cases this year alone.

None of his victims have ever seen his face because he continues to use runners and the only photo that the police have of him was taken when he was arrested in 2000 in connection with a forged cheque case. He was also arrested in Selangor last year on suspicion of rape but subsequently released on bail.

It is believed that his features could have changed dramatically, leading police to seek information from the public as to his whereabouts. Syed Ismail has been identified by police as the man responsible for conning the Penang State Treasury of RM3.1 million, and the Malacca government of RM770,000, both in 2003.

Police also believe that he has bilked millions from no fewer than six States. Syed Ismail’s return was brought to Malay Mail’s attention when a scam implicating the Rural and Regional Development Ministry and its Community Development Department (Kemas) was alerted to us by a local book publisher who was wily enough to see through the syndicate’s trap (see accompanying story).

This year alone, Syed Ismail has successful ly pilfered RM124,000 from his victims. His most recent con left a T-shirt manufacturer RM20,000 poorer on Wednesday.

Police have been following Syed Ismail's trail but keep running into a brickwall time and time again due to the nature of his modus operandi.

City Commercial Crime Investigation Department chief ACP Mohd Aris Ramli told Malay Mail that Syed Ismail, who used to operate in Kuala Lumpur, has since targeted Putrajaya where most of the ministries are located.

There, he adopts the moniker of “Dr Ibrahim”, “Dr Aziz”, or a variety of other identities with a “Dr” to his name, claiming to represent a certain ministry or government agency in making certain purchases. Deals are all done over the telephone where the victims are also asked to pay an amount of cash for “processing purposes”.

To make it all the more convincing, the meeting point for payment is at the ministry buildings themselves.

The final pièce de résistance is delivered by a runner who hands over a forged cheque to the gullible victims and makes off with the cash. To lend credence to the deal, the syndicate issues forged banker's cheques to their victims.

The ruse is only discovered when the cheque bounces, and by that time, it is already too late.

Last year, three runners in connection with the scams were caught by police but they were not able to provide a lead to Syed Ismail's whereabouts.

Mohd Aris said the runners had claimed they were not even aware of the nature of the transaction taking place. They were only paid to perform deliveries and pick ups at specified locations. The cash made from the victims is then left at a predetermined location for Syed Ismail to collect later.

Who is Syed Ismail Syed Alwi?

The conman made media headlines in October 2003 when police identified him as the brains behind a syndicate which had siphoned RM3.1 million from the Penang State Treasury.

Syed Ismail, who was arrested for a similar scam in Kuala Lumpur in 2000, was also believed to have used 111 forged cheques belonging to the Malacca Chief Minister's Department to siphon off RM770,000 from the State Treasury in April 2003.

He is believed to have bilked millions from no less than six States.

In February 2001, the syndicate, claiming to represent then Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali and Puteri Umno used students from a private college to fleece the State of RM496,000.

Syed Ismail, 38, who was speculated by the media to be the son of a former Johor Special Branch head, is the leader of a syndicate that used dud cheques produced by high-tech printers to siphon off funds. The matter of his blood ties was never resolved.

The syndicate has also targeted institutions of higher learning and even goldsmiths, where it made its profit buying gold bars with bogus cheques at an inflated price, and receiving a "commission" of sorts from the transaction.

Aside from the fraud cases for which Syed Ismail gained media attention for in 2003, the suspect was investigated by police for allegedly raping his girlfriend last year.

His last known address is No 122, Jalan Datuk Sulaiman 4, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Petaling Jaya.Syed Ismail has been on the Royal Malaysian Police Most Wanted List since October 2002.

Dubai to be an abandoned city like Vegas and Detroit?

The below report does mirror the current situation in Dubai. Scary indeed. More people are leaving Dubai after their Dubai dreams vanished by the downturn. More retrenchments and more companies under bankcruptcy spells.

I remember my few trips to Las Vegas and Detroit (crossing Canada illegally under the pretext to go to the casinos on the other side and once was caught for filming several spots, released after deleting them) and amazed by the cities' developments.

I pray that Dubai will not follow the same route of Las Vegas and Detroit, as victims of the recent property boom and bust. I still love Dubai and thank you for a decade of prosperity!

Vacancy rates in these spots spell lots of empty neighborhoods.

Call it a modern-day tale of two cities.
For decades, Las Vegas, ripe with new construction and economic development, burgeoned into a shimmering urban carnival. Detroit, once the fulcrum of American industry, sagged and rusted under its own weight.
In Depth: America's Emptiest Cities

These days, it's the worst of times for both.
Las Vegas edged Detroit for the title of America's most abandoned city. Atlanta came in third, followed by Greensboro, N.C., and Dayton, Ohio. Our rankings, a combination of rental and homeowner vacancy rates for the 75 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country, are based on fourth-quarter data released Feb. 3 by the Census Bureau. Each was ranked on rental vacancies and housing vacancies; the final ranking is an average of the two.

Cities like Detroit and Dayton are casualties of America's lengthy industrial decline. Others, like Las Vegas and Orlando, are mostly victims of the recent housing bust. Boston and New York are among the lone bright spots, while Honolulu is the nation's best with a vacancy rate of 5.8% for homes and a scant 0.5% for rentals.

Still, empty neighborhoods are becoming an increasingly daunting problem across the country. The national rental vacancy rate now stands at 10.1%, up from 9.6% a year ago; homeowner vacancy has edged up from 2.8% to 2.9%. Richmond, Va.'s rental vacancy rate of 23.7% is the worst in America, while Orlando's 7.4% rate is lousiest on the homeowner side. Detroit and Las Vegas are among the worst offenders by both measures--the Motor City sports vacancy rates of 19.9% for rentals and 4% for homes; Sin City has rates of 16% and 4.7%, respectively.
"It's a mess," says Vegas developer Laurence Hallier. "Right now, things are just frozen. Everybody's scared."

Hallier, 40, knows from experience. His $600 million Panorama Towers complex was a tremendous success at its inception three years ago. The first of his four planned residential skyscrapers sold out in six months; the second, which opened in 2007, sold out in 12 weeks. As the third tower neared completion last fall, Hallier had sold 92% of its units. Then the recession hit, and only half the units ended up closing. Hallier says it will take years to break even, and plans for the fourth tower have been delayed indefinitely.

There are others who've made--and lost--far worse gambles on Vegas property. In 2007, Israeli billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva and partner Nochi Dankner paid $1.25 billion to buy a 34.5-acre site on the Strip, with plans to build an $8 billion mega-casino modeled after New York's Plaza Hotel. By November, the value of the lot had plummeted to $650 million--half what they paid for it. Groundbreaking on the casino has been pushed back to 2010, and today, the land may be worth less than the $625 million Tshuva and Dankner borrowed to buy it.

The Plaza debacle is emblematic of the problems afflicting millions of property owners in Vegas and around the country--and can explain, in large part, the origins of America's housing crisis.
As real estate prices skyrocketed during the boom, consumers took out massive loans to buy homes, assuming values would continue to rise.

Instead they took a nosedive, especially in places like Las Vegas, Florida and Phoenix, where the housing boom had created excess inventory and so-called "bad loans" were rampant. Many homeowners suddenly found themselves with properties worth far less than the mortgages they'd taken out. In the worst cases, banks foreclosed, leaving people without homes--and with more debt than they'd had to begin with.
The situation in places like Las Vegas is bad enough, but Detroit's problems run much deeper. Though its vacancy rates are marginally better than Sin City's, Motown has been on the empty side for decades. An industrial boomtown during the first half of the 20th century, Detroit's population swelled from 285,000 in 1900 to 990,000 in 1920, reaching a peak of 1.8 million in 1950.

But starting in the 1960s, Detroit began a precipitous decline. Detroit's population is now 900,000--half what it was in the middle of the century--and many of its neighborhoods languish in varying states of decay. Most scholars blame rapid suburbanization, outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, and federal programs they say exacerbated the situation by creating a culture of joblessness and dependency.

Yet after more than half a century, countless scholars, politicians, community organizers developers and nonprofit workers have been unable to come up with a solution to fix Detroit.
Will Las Vegas eventually suffer the same fate?

"I don't think Vegas is overbuilt," says Hallier. "Despite what everybody says, Vegas still has 2 million people."

Time will tell if this sort of optimism is warranted. Cynics who've witnessed Detroit's decline might liken Hallier's opinions to another Dickens oeuvre: Great Expectations.
In Depth: America's Emptiest Cities

Halal in Malaysia, Haram in Indonesia?

When I read the Malaysiakini's report on the halal certificate issued by HDC, I believe there are more than communication matters.

I used to sembelih during my student days. In Hamilton, New Zealand back then, there was a jewish family who let us sembelih ayam, kambing and lembu, while other Kiwis would not.

I thought halal was simple....then again when politics and business are involved....

Confusion over new halal certificates

Some exporters with new halal certification from the Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) are facing problems exporting their goods to Indonesia. The new halal certificates are not always accepted by the authorities there.

Halal certificates are important for Muslims to distinguish between allowable (halal) and unallowable (haram) food, drink, medicine and cosmetics.
To people of other faiths, the certificates signify that a product meets high safety, nutrition and quality standards.

In Malaysia, 80 per cent of halal certificates are issued to food manufacturering companies which are not majority owned by Muslims, including multinational corporations. The certificates are necessary for them to sell their products to Muslim consumers.

In April last year, HDC also took over the halal certification operations from the Islamic Advancement Department (Jakim). HDC itself was established in Sept 2006 and also provides halal training, manages halal industrial parks and promotes the Malaysian halal brand.

Unfortunately, the new HDC halal certificates are now causing confusion in Indonesia. Muhammad Zein Nasution, vice-director for certification at the Indonesian Council of Ulamas (MUI) told Malaysiakini that his organisation does not recognise the new HDC certification.MUI only recognises the old halal certificates issued by Jakim.



The second round of halal reforms in 2006 again raised eyebrows because Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s family is involved in the halal industry as well.
Badawi’s son-in-law Khairy Jamalluddin is the former chairman of the World Halal Forum.
And according to a profile on the Asean 100 Leadership Forum website, Badawi’s daughter Nori Abdullah is a co-founder of KasehDia Sdn Bhd, a leading halal business consultancy that organises the World Halal Forum every year.

Nude photos - Elizabeth Wong resigned

Selangor executive councillor Elizabeth Wong today offered to quit from her state cabinet post and state assembly seat following her nude photographs controversy.

Wong, who could not hold back her tears, made the announcement at a press conference at the PKR headquarters in Tropicana.

"I am resigning in the interest of the party," she said.
Her announcement was met with cries of protest from some 30 supporters who had gathered with placards and flowers urging her to stay on.

It was reported yesterday that nude photographs of Wong, who is PKR Wanita publicity chief, were being distributed in public.It is believed that the photographs were taken - most likely by a former boyfriend - while she was sleeping and without her consent. Apart for the photos, it is learnt that a video clip is also in circulation.

Wong, 37, has been serving as state executive councillor in charge of tourism, consumer affairs and environment for the past 11 months.According to sources, top PKR leaders who met late last night to discuss the scandal have decided to end the controversy swiftly ahead of two key by-elections.