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Dr Mahathir on blogs and the media in Malaysia

This is an account of the speech by Tun Dr Mahathir at the Bloggers Universe Malaysia 2009 blogmeet, and some thoughts about blogs in Malaysia. It's a bit long, but I thought it worthwhile to recount what he said (about blogs) in some detail.

A very brief historical outline
Love him or hate him, most Malaysians would agree that Tun Dr Mahathir is the single most influential person in twentieth century Malaysia, and he still has enormous stature and influence as we near the end of this first decade of the twenty-first. Educated as a medical doctor, and initially working as a civil servant, he won a parliamentary seat for UMNO (the dominant Malaysian party since Merdeka (Independence)) in 1964. He lost the seat in 1969, and afterwards was sacked from the UMNO Supreme Council for openly criticising the then Prime Minister; he went on to write the controversial book 'The Malay Dilemma', which - although it was banned until 1981 - laid the ideological foundation of the 'New Economic Program', a positive discrimination scheme aimed at reducing poverty and redressing the economic balance between the different ethnic groups in Malaysia. He rejoined UMNO in 1972, and eventually rose to being Deputy Prime Minister in 1978, and PM in 1981. From then on until October 2003, he presided over a period of accelerated development that transformed the country (source: Mahathir bin Mohamad).

In terms of blogging, he has significance in three ways. Laws that restricted the action of the mainstream media (MSM) were passed during his time (namely - the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984), and he was also infamous for closing down newspapers in the Ops Lalang in 1987. He established the principle of no censorship on the Internet in the Communications & Multimedia Act in 1998 (however section 233 of this Act that addresses "Improper use of network facilities or network service" (MSC Malaysia) has recently been invoked to charge some internet users - e.g. here or here). Last but not least, in 2008 he started his own blog - Che Det - which rapidly became the most popular blog in Malaysia, attracting one million visitors in the first month, and almost 19 million in one year.

So, at the BUM 2009 gathering last week, it was as a SoPo blogger that he was asked to attend, and although unfortunately the attendance for the event was a bit disappointing, he was clearly the star attraction. The place filled up for his talk, with many media too.
BUM 2009, Bloggers Universe Malaysia blogmeet with Mahathir bin Mohamad

He spoke for about 30 minutes, then answered questions for about 40 minutes. I must say that he was an impressive public speaker, speaking clearly and with little use of notes, and with a disarming charm that kept the audience interested and occasionally amused.

The speech
He was introduced by Ahirudin Attan @ rocky, ex-editor of the Malay Mail, Protem President of All-Blogs, and President of the National Press Club - and of course a leading blogger himself. He explained that Dr Mahathir's engagement with bloggers went back to 2005, when bloggers were invited to the Perdana Leadership Foundation; this was a time when bloggers were at the margins of the political and media scene in Malaysia, which was similar to Dr Mahathir's situation at the time.

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My food fetish - Cili goreng!

Banana leaf is one of my favourite foods, and whenever we feel like eating out, I'm almost inevitably (and boringly) going to suggest "Banana leaf!".

So last Sunday, we decided to check out a banana leaf place near our house. We walked there - a walk of about 15-20 minutes through the suburbs of Kelana Jaya (and I should have put on some suncream, as I ended with a very red neck!). On the way we saw this unusual frontage on a house
Suburban house with Lord Ganesh, Malaysia

closer up, you can see how it's an elaborate scene with Lord Ganesh - apart from that the house looked completely normal though.
Suburban house with Lord Ganesh, Malaysia

We got the the shoplots and ordered daun pisang, as well as some fried tengiri... yum...
Banana leaf aka daun pisang dish, Malaysia

One of the things I like best about banana leaf are the extra bits that come with - fried potato chips, pappadom, and especially cili goreng!!
Banana leaf aka daun pisang dish with cili goreng, Malaysia

Man, I'm drooling just thinking of them. Cili goreng are chilis that have been dried in salt, which draws salt inside the chili; then they are dropped into boiling oil, and scooped out as soon as they rise to the surface. Delicious, and although you can buy them in some shops, they are the best when they have been freshly cooked.

The meal for two, with two pieces of fried fish and two drinks each came out to RM22, which is OK. I didn't do a proper blogger job of getting a photo of the sign/getting the name and address (tsk, tsk) - but here's a map of where it is.
Kelana Jaya map banan leaf restaurant

And here's a close up of that cili goreng again - oOOOooooohh it's sooOO hot :-P :-P
cili goreng, salted dried and fried chili, Malaysia

Tourist in KL

Going downtown to areas where tourists go is always a bit strange for me - suddenly people start treating me like a tourist, calling me into their shop or offering me dodgy watches. In PJ, people generally may look at me a little curiously but mostly don't care; I guess it's because around Chinatown and areas like that, since they depend on tourists for a lot of trade (as opposed to in PJ), there is more competition and therefore it's more important to attract the tourists to them...

Anyway, when friends come to visit, I normally give them a little 'walking tour' that is based on a walking tour that I did once; it pretty much mirrors the one that's recommended in the Lonely Planet that our visitor had. Although it feels strange, it's also nice to be a tourist for a while - it gives you a chance to do and see things you normally wouldn't.

Here are some highlights from a walk around downtown KL :-)

Masjid Jamek in Kuala Lumpur
A view of Masjid Jamek shows old and new, Mughal, English and Arabic influences as part of the modern Malaysia

Fortune-telling parrots in front of the peacock tiles of Chettiar House on Lebuh Ampang
Fortune-telling parrots look bored in front of the peacock tiles of Chettiar House on Lebuh Ampang.

Painted shophouses in Medan Pasar
Painted shophouses in Medan Pasar reflected in the windows of a modern building

Sze Yah Temple in Kuala Lumpur Chinatown
One of my favourite places - the Sze Yah Temple (which I call the 'Yap Ah Loy Temple' - he founded it)

Chan See Shu Yuen Temple in Kuala Lumpur Chinatown
There are many more sights around Petaling Street - we had some very nice Curry Laksa, then ended up at the Chan See Shu Yuen Temple, when it started to rain heavily.

Kampong Baru pasar malam in Kuala Lumpur
Finally, a jump across town to the evocative Kampong Baru, where houses on stilts lie under the Petronas Towers. We strolled around, checked out the Pasar Malam, and had delicious ikan bakar :-P

Recycling Centres in Petaling Jaya

**Update 22 January 2012**

Well I just googled for a place to recycle glass in Kelana Jaya, and this post turns up first unfortunately. I say unfortunately, because I couldn't find out much then, and it just goes to show how little has changed in the last 2 years+.

Anyway - there is an updated list from Alam Flora, but it is pretty meagre.

Also, Nokia centres will take your batteries.

Good luck out there

----------

One thing that frustrates me is finding places to drop of material for recycling. Getting rid of paper is easy enough - we just wait for the sounds of 'paper lama' to echo through the neighbourhood, and try to catch the truck - we don't ask for money as it is not a lot and - frankly - I think they're doing a public service.

Metal and plastic bottles ('hard plastic') is more haphazard, but still possible - what we do is to leave it on the corner or in front of the house in a fairly obvious manner, and within a couple of days someone has picked it up. Usually it's a guy cycling around, collecting scrap wherever he can. It will get recycled, but I wonder under what conditions - sometimes the manner of recycling is extremely un-eco-friendly too (see here for example) :-( Also, this isn't an option if you live in a condo or certain areas.

But getting rid of glass is a hassle, and for Tetra Paks and similar packaging it is even more difficult.

I did a quick search and came up with these two useful documents produced by the Global Environment Centre: 'recycling collection centres in the klang valley', and 'The Art of Recycling'. They both have addresses and information about recycling collection centres.

But still, the problem is that they may be out of date, and also one still has to work out where the places are.

So - here's a solution: The Google Maps 'Recycling Centres in Klang Valley' map!


View Larger Map

I've made the map public, so anyone can add and edit it (I think you need a Google login though), and I propose that for each entry the following information is provided:
• Status: i.e. confirmed or not, active or inactive
• What is collected: i.e. paper, glass, batteries...
• Time: i.e. opening times
• Address: duh
• Source: i.e. where does the information come from

You can check the map out here, and start adding your local collection points! If people add to it, and link to it from their blogs with some relevant keywords (recycling centre, recycling collection point, kelana jaya, kuala lumpur, damansara, etc...), it could start turning up in Google search.

**Edit 06/03/09**: Anyone can edit the map - click on the above link, sign into Google, click on 'Edit' and you're there!

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