Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Malaysia's Uncelebrated Rally 'Champion'

Muhammad Rafiq Udhaya. This name may not ring a bell among Malaysian motorsports' fans as Karamjit Singh's would. Muhammad Rafiq's foray into the world of rallying went almost unnoticed by most local motorsports fans, and this might be due to the fact that he is being eclipsed by his more illustrious compatriot Karamjit.

Muhammad Rafiq is quite new to the sport and in his own words "a new hand at rallying with only four years of experience." Driving for the MRU Motorsports team in a Subaru Impreza WRX, he did reasonably well for a "new hand", beating even his more experienced compatriot, Karamjit.

In the recently concluded Malaysian Rally Championship (MRC) held in Johor Baru, he finished a credible 4th in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) category behind more established drivers in Katsu Taguchi of Japan, India's Gaurav Gill and Indonesian Rifat Sungkar.

In the Asia Cup held simultaneously, again Rafiq showed his capability by finishing 3rd behind Gaurav and Rifat, thus overshadowing his compatriot and local favourite Karamjit.

So to all Malaysian motorsports fans in general and rally fans in particular, remember this name:

He has arrived, and hopefully have the mettle to take over as Malaysia's rally king, long synonymous with Karamjit.

Muhammad Rafiq Udhaya celebrating on the podium with co-driver Sean Gregory. - Pic by APRC.TV

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Do You Know Your Blue Flags From Your Red Flags?

No, I'm not talking about the red, white, yellow and blue that is our nation’s pride, I'm talking about the flag that says, “You! Get in the pits, you’re disqualified!”

Chequered Flag

Yellow flags, blue flags, black flags, black flags with orange circles in them, what do they all mean? Well they aren't national flags for sure, but what do they stand for if not for the pride of Mozambique or Liechtenstein?

Depending on their colour, flags in Formula One world can mean a lot of things. Race marshals armed with an array of these colourful flags stand alongside Formula One circuits all around the world wave different kinds of flags in order to signal any given driver, or the lot of them at once, of many things like penalties, hazards on track and what not.

So if you've been wondering just what these flags mean, I've listed them all here for your understanding. Enjoy!

Yellow Flag

Yellow flag

The most common flag waved about in Formula One, a single yellow flag waved by the race marshal instructs the driver to take caution as there is debris from a crash ahead. Drivers must slow their cars down at sections where the yellows are being waved and overtaking is strictly prohibited, unless of course the driver ahead is retiring out of the race.

A double yellow flag waved by the same race marshal warns drivers of great danger ahead. Once again, overtaking is not allowed unless it is completely unavoidable. A safety car is usually deployed at this time.

Green Flag


Green flags waved usually follow a yellow flagged area, because green flags indicate that the track is clear of any previous dangers and drivers may resume at racing speeds and overtake as they wish.

If and when a race director allows, green flags may also be waved during parade laps after a race. Green flags are also used to signal the beginning of sessions such as free practice or qualifying. However, race starts deploy an electric lighting system to signal the start of the race.

Red Flag


Red flags simply signal the suspension of a race, practice or qualifying session. If and when the Race Director sees fit, race marshals will wave red flags all around the circuit signaling for drivers to suspend all actions.

Drivers in the pits may not leave the pits and drivers on the track may not return to the pits. Drivers on the circuit must proceed with caution to the designated red flag line and stop their vehicles. If however the safety car is deployed in this time, drivers on track may follow the safety car back into the pits.

Sessions may be resumed or abandoned as the race director deems fit from this moment on. Under red flag instances, any driver who breaks the rules will have a drive-through penalty imposed upon them.

Blue Flag


Get out of the way! You're holding up traffic! If you find yourself being shown the blue flag mid race, well that just means that you're at the back of the field, the top runners are trying to get past you and that you should be letting them through. If you've ignored three of these flags, you can expect to be subjected to a penalty, which may vary from a drive through penalty, or a 10 second stop-go.

Blue flags are also used in practice session and qualifying sessions to instruct slow moving drivers to move off the racing line and let cars at racing speeds go by.

White Flag


A white flag simply warns drivers that there is a slow car on track ahead. Possibly a retiring car, an ambulance, or a tow truck trying to carry away a stalled car on the grid, drivers are instructed to slow down massively at this point to avoid a collision.

Black Flag


The waving of a black flag is usually to instruct a specific driver to return to the pits immediately and report to the Clerk of the Course, usually because they've been disqualified from the race. The black flag is accompanied by a board with the car number of the driver that is being called in.

Chequered Flag


Possibly the most well known flag and the most welcomed flag by drivers, the black and white chequered flag signals the end of the race, practice session, or qualifying session. The winner of the race is always the first to see the flag, followed by everyone else that follows behind him or her.

Half Black shirt

Half Black

Unsporting behavior is usually the reason for race marshals to wave this flag. If a driver's driving is deemed dangerous by the race directors, he or she will be instructed to either cool it down on the circuit. If however they continue in the same manner without regard for safety, they'll be immediately disqualified.

Black with orange circle

Black with orange circle

Possibly the oddest flag of the bunch, a black flag with an orange circle is waved to inform drivers that their car has a mechanical problem with the potential to harm themselves or other drivers on the circuit. The driver on the receiving end of this flag must return to the pit and have the problem sorted out before returning to action again.

Yellow with red stripes flag

Yellow with red stripes

The next most oddest flag of the bunch is a yellow on with red stripes that run down the middle. This warns drivers of a danger up ahead such as a slippery surface or debris, possibly left behind by a car leaking oil on the track's surface, or that there is rain starting to fall on the track. Drivers must reduce their speed and be wary of a slippery or dangerous surface ahead.

Source: MSN Sport

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Muay Thai's 8 Points Of Contact

If one were to capture the strikes in slow-motion, it is easy to see why Muay Thai or Thai kick boxing has the reputation of being one of the deadliest and most feared martial arts in the world.

With an arsenal of eight weapons to choose from, seasoned Muay Thai fighters swear by their fists, elbows, knees and feet to execute moves that are possibly more lethal than strikes coming from a baton or nunchucks.


While other martial arts use two points of contact (e.g fists in Western boxing) and four points (e.g hands and feet in sport-oriented martial arts), Muay Thai has eight points.

A well-trained fighter utilizes punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes that can make a deadly impact.

The roots of Muay Thai, which means ‘the art of eight limbs’ can be traced back to the battlefields of 15th century Thailand. The warrior’s eight points of contact substituted swords and sticks during weaponless combat.


It has since become the country’s national sport and bears similarities to Indochinese styles of kickboxing such as Tomoi in Malaysia, Muay Lao in Laos and Cambodia’s Pradal serey.

Today, the bone shattering techniques of this martial art is being used all over the world from the Thai military to the CIA and has inspired movies and legions of enthusiasts including in Malaysia.

Conditioned to Last

"1-2-3. Uppercut-block-kick", Mohd Aly Yakin instructs his students. The 32 year-old Muay Thai instructor moves swiftly around the training studio. He is of medium-built with an anatomy of solid muscles that even an accomplished athlete would envy. With seven years of teaching experience, Singaporean-born Aly was trained in Muay Thai two years ago in Chiang Mai, Thailand and is also trainer at a local fitness centre. Previously, he practised Taekwondo for 19 years which he started at the age of nine.

"Martial arts like Taekwondo employ 80 percent legs and 20 percent hands. But in Muay Thai it’s 50/50. Plus Muay Thai is easy to learn, there’s no uniform and it’s suitable for all ages."

He added that unlike other martial arts, Muay Thai students do not earn belts for their skills and progression. Instead, their skills will be tested in the ring where the championship belts are vied by top fighters.


Aly explained that the training and conditioning regimes for fighters were also very challenging. "In Thailand a typical training session would be punching and kicking on bamboo sticks and coconut trees. It’s grueling and painful. As a result, your shins, legs and elbows will be strong. But we train differently at my classes, of course."

Maybe Aly noticed the writer’s worried expression, busy scanning the studio for the aforementioned bamboo stick. None in sight, fortunately.

Geared for Eight Limbs

With shins conditioned to be used just like a club, the effective use of both elbows and knees are also emphasized.

The speed, precision and power of Muay Thai techniques are well-known among martial arts exponents, and fighters can often take down an opponent with just one shot. Broken bones are common in the ring, but numerous fighters have also died from a lethal kick or elbow.


Another distinctive element of Muay Thai is the rotation of the hips to deliver powerful punches and kicks. Aly demonstrated the movement with a kick on the punching bag and the sound of the impact alone sent chills down the writer’s back.

"Learning defensive and offensive techniques are a must because this is 100 percent physical contact", Aly stated.

"Fighters can target at almost any part of the body and only the head cannot be used to strike an opponent."

He explains that he currently has 600 students enrolled in the beginner’s, intermediate and advanced classes and that fighter-training classes are being carried out this year for a competition to be held in June.

More than Just About Fighting

But competing is not necessarily on everyone’s wish list when learning Muay Thai. Popularized by movies like ‘Ong Bak’ and martial art contender events, people from all walks of life have turned to Muay Thai as a means of physical exercise and self-defense.

"My students are mostly females in their 20’s, The youngest student I have is 12 years old, and the oldest is aged 63. It builds stamina, gets you in excellent shape and builds up your confidence."


Meanwhile, 61 year-old Lee Yoon Kong could not agree more. He has taken up Muay Thai for almost a year and has felt its benefits directly. "The main reason I learn Muay Thai is for me to keep fit cause if one is always sick one would be a social burden! I am now free of medication which I had to take to control my high cholesterol. I feel healthier now unlike when I was not attending this class."

Yoon Kong added that it is also an effective self-defense and combat sports offering the best in boxing punches and martial arts kicks.

"Muay Thai uses every part of the body as a weapon. Moreover, it has no ‘katas’ to learn. To be able to punch and kick the correct way certainly cuts short the time to maim your assailant in a self-defence situation."

For 28-year old Darshini, the rigorous drills have helped her get in shape.

"What I like most about the classes is that you really sweat it out compared with other workout like yoga. You definitely learn to toughen up too. Since I joined three months ago I noticed that I’ve shed a few kilos."

Muay Thai Breeds Aggression?

Raw, bloody and lethal, it is hard not to associate contact sports like Muay Thai to violence.

A misconception, Aly stressed that is quite common. "Muay Thai teaches an individual to be disciplined, humble and in control of his or her actions and feelings.

"At the same time, instructors must understand what the students want. They can't just simply teach. They must make the effort to know the background and character of their students. In Thailand, there have been cases where youngsters have run ins with the law as they join gangs or fight in the streets after learning Muay Thai. Instructors have to be professional to avoid students from abusing their skills."

De Facto Martial Art of Choice

Incorporated into different styles of competitive fighting, Muay Thai has garnered a worldwide recognition for its success with mixed martial arts. In Malaysia, Aly said that Muay Thai enthusiasts hope to have an official association by this October.

"Presently Muay Thai is not formally recognized in the country. There are Tomoi associations established by the people of Kelantan but none for Muay Thai yet. We hope through this association we can advance like any other sport or martial arts in the country."


(Pix from K-1)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Prosperous Malaysians

Malaysia has the most billionaires in South East Asia

A Malaysian newspaper, The Star, reported that Malaysia has the most number of billionaires in South East Asia.

Malaysia has the most numbers of billionaires in South East Asia(AP Photo)

Malaysian tycoon, Tan Sri Robert Kuok named the 33rd richest man in the world with a net worth of US$14.5bil (RM48.1bil).

The former Sugar King, was among nine Malaysians who made it into the 2010 Forbes List of the World's Billionaires which listed a total of 1, 011 billionaires.

Kuok shared the spot with Microsoft's Steven Ballmer.

The Kuok Group patriarch moved up from the 62nd spot last year was also named the seventh richest man in Asia.

According to the The Star, Tan Sri Ananda Krishnan was listed as the 89th richest man in the world and the 14th richest man in Asia with a net worth of US$7.6bil (RM25.2bil).

Three other Malaysians made it into the top 300 list of billionaires with IOI Corp Bhd's Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng ranked 189th with US$4.4bil (RM14.6bil).

Hong Leong Group's Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan and Public Bank's Tan Sri The Hong Piow shared the 277th spot with their worth of US$3.4bil (RM11.3bil) each.

Tan Sri Yeoh Tiong Lay, YTL Group chairman and family came in 421st with their US$2.3bil (RM7.6bil) family fortunes while Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary of the Bukhary Foundation was ranked 655th for his US$1.5bil (RM4.98bil).

Berjaya Group's Tan Sri Vincent Tan made it back to the list and was ranked 828th with US$1.2bil (RM3.98bil) while Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King of Rimbunan Hijau Group was ranked 937th with his US$1bil (RM3.3bil).

According to The Star, both Malaysia and Philippiness had the highest number of billionaires in the South East Asian region.

China (including Hong Kong) had the most number of billionaires outside the US with 89. However, India still had the most numbers of billionaires within Asia, taking 10 of the 25 spots for Asia's richest.

When Sex Kills

When sex is bad for you

When lovemaking becomes a potential health hazard. Yes, let's not get too excited, please.


We look at some of the potential health dangers that are involved during sex.

The 7 hazardous side-effects of the horizontal tango.


1) Heart attack

The notion that sex can actually bring about a heart attack has actually be around for some time and it has been found that the average 50 year old male who is a non smoker doubles the odds of a heart attack when they have sex.

However, if you have had a stroke or heart trouble, the chance of sex causing a heart attack is about two in a million which is double the risk for healthy people in the hours after sexual intercourse.

Although heart attacks during sex are rare, no one wants to be among the unlucky few who die while getting lucky. So if you have cardiovascular disease (CVD), or even if it runs in your family, it's important to ask your doctor what type of sexual activity is safe.


2) Carpal tunnel syndrome

According to research published in Medical Hypotheses journal, the extra weight put on your wrists during sexual intercourse is probably a major contributing factor to carpal tunnel syndrome. And the data that helps prove this shows an increase in carpal tunnel syndrome with the introduction of medications like Viagra and the ever-worsening obesity epidemic.

For those of you who haven’t heard of this syndrome before, it is the irritation of the median nerve which causes tingling and numbness of the thumb, index, and the middle fingers.

The wrist is surrounded by a band of tough tissue that normally functions as a support for the joint. The tight space between this fibrous band and the wrist bone is called the carpal tunnel. The median nerve passes through the carpal tunnel to receive sensations from the thumb, index, and middle fingers of the hand. Any condition that causes swelling or a change in position of the tissue within the carpal tunnel can squeeze and irritate the median nerve.

The fact that sex is the most widely practiced activity that uses both hands at the same time only strengthens the hypothesis. However, the incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome drops off later in life coinciding with a decrease in sexual activity.

And you thought your carpal tunnel syndrome was from typing on the computer!


3) Pregnancy problems

We all know that potentially one outcome of having sex can lead to pregnancy and while this isn’t a health hazard and having sex while pregnant doesn’t cause miscarriage, premature labour or any other complication; if you have a low lying placenta having sex may be a risk.

This exception should be especially adhered to if this has caused bleeding during pregnancy. Other times that when sex should be avoided when you are pregnant is if you’re leaking amniotic fluid, you have placenta previa or you are at risk from preterm labour.

Many couples worry that sex during pregnancy will cause a miscarriage, especially in the first trimester. But sex isn't a concern. Early miscarriages are usually related to chromosomal abnormalities or other problems in the developing baby, not to anything you do or don't do.


4) Male injuries

A common battle scar for men from their bedroom activities can be a rip in the skin connecting the foreskin and the penis and this is known as a torn frenulum. It heals but with a scar, which is likely to tear again so it is best to avoid sex for a couple of days. It’s a relatively common problem and once it has totally healed both men and women can reduce their risk of genital cuts and tears from sex using a condom or extra lubrication to cut your chances of further trouble.

However, it is not only men who suffer from small tears as this is also common for women. Many have had the experience of noticing slight bleeding from vaginal sex as a result of getting tiny cuts or tears in their vagina or vulva as a result of intense friction from sex.


5) ‘Fractures’

You may think this is one of those crazy sex myths, but penis fractures can happen and a guy can actually fracture their penis during sex which is a crack caused by the rigid tissue snapping during gymnastic sex. Most reported cases happen when the woman is on top of the man or when the man gets slightly carried away and thrusts deeply into their partner with a great deal of vigor and hitting hard against the pubic bone.

Penile fractures are usually accompanied by a popping sound and then an immediate loss of erection for the man followed, some hours later, by bruising and severe pain. A penis fracture requires urgent medical attention and a fracture can usually be diagnosed with a physical exam, and prompt surgical repair is typically recommended. Left untreated, a penis fracture may result in deformity of the penis or the inability to have or maintain an erection.

The penis is made of two sponge like bodies, which fill up with blood when you have an erection and that's what gives penises rigidity. When it's really over bent or when you apply too much pressure, the penis can break and what is breaking is the layer of fibre sheath.

Sex isn't the only way a man can break his penis as any time the penis is hit while erect, damage can occur. On the other hand If it's flaccid, you cannot have a penile fracture.


6) Girly pains

It is very common for women to experience pain during intercourse at some point during their lives. However, pain during intercourse can detract from an enjoyable experience which is not good, and it might also signal more serious problems. The discomfort which can be experienced during intercourse can be down to the ovaries being bumped during sex causing a pain deep inside. This is a common pain for women and can be alleviated by changing the depth and position of penetration. As soon as you feel the pain, it is important to stop and change positions. On the other hand it could be ovarian cysts.

Another possibility may be that it's your cervix that is hurting. Many women tend to have tender cervixes throughout different times in their cycles.

On the whole if the pain continues to occur, you should make an appointment with a health care provider for an evaluation.


7) Headache

Headaches are never fun, but they can be downright frustrating when they occur after sex. If you're unfortunate enough to experience this symptom, you're not alone. While having a headache is used by some women to turn down the advances of their partner and therefore is just seen as an excuse, a throbbing headache can actually be the result of sex which happens during or after the act itself.

This orgasm headache is a type of migraine called ‘benign coital headache’ which tends to happen before or at climax. Although benign coital or orgasmic headaches are very painful, and obviously limit sexual enjoyment, they present no other acute threat. They are thought to result from muscle contraction, and/or blood vessel dilation, in the head and neck during sex.

However, the other type of headache that can occur is the ‘new onset’ severe headache during sex. This is a first time headache, which is generally characterised as the worst headache of a personas life. This type of sex headache is a serious emergency until proven otherwise. Such a headache is often due to an acute brain haemorrhage or other serious condition. Fortunately, this type of first onset headache is fairly unusual, but when it does occur it can represent a life threatening emergency, which requires emergency evaluation and treatment.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Schumacher Puts His Legacy On The Line


All eyes will be on Schumacher. — Reuters pic

LONDON, March 5 — The return of Michael Schumacher, after three years away and at the age of 41, was always going to take top billing in a blockbuster of a Formula One season.

The big question, with the championship kicking off in Bahrain next week, is whether the German can roll back the years and deliver what is expected of him in a new era and against one of the most competitive fields in ages.

The box office needs the most successful driver of all time to be back with a bang, fighting wheel-to-wheel to increase his record tally of 91 race wins and challenging for an unprecedented eighth title.

Failure with his new Mercedes team could otherwise damage the glittering, and at times controversial, legacy that Schumacher had established over the 16 years before he retired from Ferrari in 2006.

“A lot of people will be interested to see how he copes,” reigning world champion Jenson Button told Reuters this week.

“It’s not just Michael at 41 that people are talking about, it’s Michael coming into a team that’s new to him,” added the Briton, whose place at the former Brawn team was taken by Schumacher after he decided to move to McLaren.

“He was with Ferrari for many years, where I’m sure he could pretty much have anything he wanted, whereas now Formula One is different.”

There will be many challenges ahead for ‘Schumi’, not least racing against three other world champions including one — McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton — who was not even in Formula One last time Schumacher was around.

The most fundamental task, however, will be making sure that he beats a young team mate who has yet to win a grand prix.

If he cannot assert himself over fellow German Nico Rosberg, then the script of returning hero will have to be rewritten at the very least.

Beating a team mate is always a driver’s best measure of how competitive he is and Schumacher has yet to come off second best against anyone set alongside him.

Rosberg, 24, is the first German to partner the former Ferrari ace and has shown he is no slouch in his four seasons with Williams. He has also been assured of equal treatment by Mercedes.

If he beats Schumacher, his stock will only rise. But it is a big if.

Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, Schumacher’s long-suffering team mate at Ferrari, grinned when asked after the first day of pre-season testing last month what advice he could give to Rosberg.

“Get out of there,” he joked. “Knowing what I know, and seeing how fast Michael went today, it is going to be a tough job.”

Schumacher has shown in testing that he still has the pace and fitness. Never one to espouse the line that the competing is as important as the winning, he is certainly not coming back just for fun.

“People, including me, are expecting big things from Michael and I think there is no reason why he shouldn’t win the championship if the car is good enough,” Formula One’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said recently.

If Mercedes can give him the tools then Schumacher may not have too many qualms about abandoning the quiet life at home in Switzerland with his wife and young children to rejoin the travelling circus.

Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn, a close ally from the days when the Briton was Ferrari technical director, certainly has no concerns about Schumacher’s mental or physical preparation.

“He’s got a tremendous work ethic and he wouldn’t do this unless he was convinced that he can do the job. And I’m convinced he can do the job,” he said back in January.

“There is nothing in a racing car that wears out parts of your body, it’s just down to your stamina and strength,” he added. “So I fully expect Michael to be able to cope with any demands we make of him.”

Schumacher feels he has nothing to prove about his age, although the battle between the “old man” and young warriors such as Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel will be one of the storylines of the season.

Vettel, overall runner-up with Red Bull last year, made his debut only in 2007 when he acquired the nickname of “Baby Schumi”.

Schumacher, as excited as a novice when testing the car for the first time last month, can hardly wait for battle to commence.

“I just have to prove to myself that I am still able, but the main reason why I am doing this is because I feel again thrilled by it,” he said at a team presentation in January.

“I feel big excitement to just drive and compete at the highest level of motorsport.” — Reuters

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Genetically Altered Mosquitoes To Combat Dengue

WASHINGTON, Feb 24 – Dengue fever is among the world’s most pressing public health issues, and causes severe flulike symptoms. There are 50 million to 100 million cases per year, and nearly 40 per cent of the global population is at risk.

Recently, University California Irvine (UCI) researchers and colleagues from Oxitec Ltd and the University of Oxford created a new breed of flightless females are expected to die quickly in the wild, curtailing the number of mosquitoes and reducing – or even eliminating – dengue transmission.

Males of the strain can fly but do not bite or convey disease, Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported citing the report.

Researcher Professor Anthony James of UCI said: “Current dengue control methods are not sufficiently effective, and new ones are urgently needed.”

“Controlling the mosquito that transmits this virus could significantly reduce human morbidity and mortality,” he said.

The dengue virus is spread by the bite of infected female mosquitoes and there is no vaccine or treatment.

He explained that when genetically altered male mosquitoes mate with wild females and pass on their genes, females of the next generation are unable to fly.

Scientists estimate that if released, the new breed could sustainably suppress the native mosquito population in six to nine months. The approach offers a safe, efficient alternative to harmful insecticides.

Study results appear in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences for the week of Feb 22.

The research is receiving funding support from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health through the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, which was launched to support breakthrough advances for health challenges in the developing world.

Using concepts developed by Oxitec’s Luke Alphey, the study’s senior author, researchers made a genetic alteration in the mosquitoes that disrupts wing muscle development in female offspring, rendering them incapable of flight. Males’ ability to fly is unaffected, and they show no ill effects from carrying the gene.

“The technology is completely species-specific, as the released males will mate only with females of the same species,” Alphey said. “It’s far more targeted and environmentally friendly than approaches dependent upon the use of chemical spray insecticides, which leave toxic residue.”

James and Alphey have pioneered the creation of genetically altered mosquitoes to limit transmission of vector-borne illnesses.

While their current work is focused on the dengue fever vector, they noted that this approach could be adapted to other mosquito species that spread such diseases as malaria and West Nile fever. – Bernama

Lotus To Launch Evora In M'sia Next Month


HETHEL (England), Feb 24 – The Lotus Evora (pic), launched for the United Kingdom market, is to hit the Malaysian market by end of next month, says Proton Managing Director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Mohamed Tahir.

He said Proton was awaiting the next batch of the Evora before “we are ready for the launch.”

Saying that the company has not decided on the price, he did not deny that it would be higher than the 50,000 pounds current price in the United Kingdom.

“This is due to Malaysia’s higher tax structure than in the UK We’ve yet to finalise the price, we’re still working on it. We’ll try to make it as competitive as in the UK market.

“We’re still working with the government besides looking at the price structure,” he told a press conference at the Lotus headquarters here Tuesday.

The press conference was held in conjunction with the two-day visit to Lotus from Monday by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Lotus Evora, originally developed under a project called “Project Eagle”, was launched at the British Motor Show in July 2008.

The car is bigger than other Lotus models like Elise and Exige, with 160mph (260km/h) top speed and 0-60mph (0-100km/h) in less than five seconds.

Asked about the global strategic partner which he mentioned in his speech at a dinner on Monday night, Syed Zainal Abidin declined to elaborate, saying it was too early to make an announcement.

“The discussions not only involved Volkswagen but also Mitsubishi and Renault to look into collaborations in a few areas, namely engine and component parts.

“We are looking at a big scope of collaboration, that’s the level of discussions we are having today with the parties. I think in discussions like these, we don’t want to pre-empt our talks.

“We have some confidentiality that we’ve discussed and we have to respect that, but the discussions are quite intense,” he said.

Earlier, Syed Zainal Abidin said Proton has lined up a series of products for the next five years including electronics and engine power.

“We’re developing a Campo turbo which will be available by year-end or at the latest by early next year. That will be a feature in all of our cars,” he said.

After 25 years in operations, Syed Zainal Abidin said, Proton was venturing into the international arena, with the Geneva Motor Show being the first step forward and “we will build on from there.”

Dr Mahathir, also present at the press conference, said a lot of changes have been made since his last visit to Lotus about six years ago.

He said Lotus had achieved a great deal of progress, both in actual performance and in the ideas that have been put forth by the management.

“I’ve seen some of the technology advancement development they have accomplished, and as you know, the car I drove just now, Evora, was from Lotus technology because we are faced with the need to increase engine power.

“So it is either we change the engine or upgrade the engine, so Lotus has actually helped to upgrade the engine, it is now as good as 2,000cc,” he added. – Bernama

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pakatan Moves To Tighten Discipline

By Clara Chooi (Malaysian Insider)

PETALING JAYA, Feb 22 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim moved today to contain the fallout from squabbling among Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers by announcing the revival of plans to quickly set up a disciplinary panel for the opposition coalition.

His announcement comes in the wake of open criticisms against DAP by lawmakers in his PKR party.

The show of open dissent has open up the coalition to attacks from its rivals in Barisan Nasional (BN) who have criticised PR of being an unstable coalition incapable of leading any government.

Following a PR leadership council meeting today, Anwar said that the coalition’s secretariat was also willing to provide better avenues for members to voice their grievances against the leadership.

While maintaining that there were enough opportunities for disgruntled MPs or state assemblymen to voice their views, the PKR de facto leader said that if members felt otherwise, the PR leadership was willing to improve itself.

He noted however that rebel MPs like Kulim Bandar Baharu MP Zulkifli Noordin and Nibong Tebal MP Tan Tee Beng should have maintained more decorum when voicing their opinions against PR leaders.

“The impression created by some of the MPs that they cannot criticise for example the Chief Minister of Penang Lim Guan Eng or the Selangor Mentri Besar (Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim) is not true.

“There is a weekly committee for MPs to air their views where they can bring up any grievances against any leader whether from PAS, DAP or PKR. However, if they feel we need to expand that, then we can. I have no issues,” he told a press conference.

Anwar added that at present, the PR had at least seven ongoing committees involving MPs and non-MPs.

“Then each party has its respective leadership meetings. The MPs have a forum too and the PR secretariat itself has about five to six committees.

“The GST issue, for example, we sit and discuss and some agree and some disagree. However if they feel there is need for improvement, we are ready to do so,” he said.

On rebel MPs like Kulim Bandar Baharu MP Zulkifli Noordin and Nibong Tebal MP Tan Tee Beng, Anwar spoke of the need for decorum.

“We are not stopping them from voicing their opinions but they should be more patient. When you call a leader a ‘dictator’ for example... that is not good,” he said.

He was referring to Bayan Baru MP Datuk Seri Zahrain Hashim, who has since left PKR, and whose relentless criticisms against Lim had sparked off much controversy.

Zahrain left the party on Feb 12 to turn independent and claimed to have lost confidence in Lim and party leader Anwar himself.

Tan, who had joined Zahrain in his open criticism of Lim, is set to attend the PKR board disciplinary board proceedings tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Anwar said that the PR secretariat had decided on reviving its plan to set up the PR disciplinary committee, which would be chaired by PKR vice-president Sivarasa Rasiah.

“Sivarasa will represent all three parties in the PR and will report to the secretariat. The committee will be tasked to handle disciplinary matters especially those that concern the three parties,” said Anwar.

New Pricing For Petrol Come May 2010

Received an e-mail on the subject of the Government's new petrol price structure. I'm not sure how true the contents are, but for those intending to purchase new cars, please at least wait till May as taxes on new cars will come down too. According to the e-mail, prices of locally-manufactured cars might drop by as much as 40%, whereas import tax and excise duty might be revised to only 30% from the current 200%. The unedited e-mail is reproduced below.

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 8 – The mechanism for fuel pricing in Malaysia has finally been finalized and controlled under one mechanism, which also takes the high and lower income group people into consideration, according to Finance Trade Minister Tan Sri Anuar Ali.

“From May 1, the fuel will be pegged at RM 3.90 per litre for RON97, while RON95 will increase to RM 3.70 per litre. However, the prices of national-made vehicles will be lowered by at least 40 percent. For example, a full-spec family sedan Proton Persona 1.6 litre engine will cost around RM 23,000.00 excluding road tax and insurance. Import tax and excise duty will be revised to only 30 percent, from the current 200 percent. Imported vehicles such as the new Toyota Camry 2.4 litre engine will cost around RM 65,000.00.” he said.

The mechanics has been said to be undertaken by a team of experts from Australia and Canada who were earlier briefed on the issue of subsidy in this country, whereas after consideration by the transport minister, they have signed the constitution that the system will be made on May 1, the day it goes into effect.

Under the new system, there will be a major effect on the existing consumers who have already purchased a vehicle and to those who are in the midst of repaying the loan of their vehicle to their financial institutions.

Ahmad Tajuddin said the government might also re-introduce a cash return annually to Malaysians who own a 1,500 cc and below vehicle. The amount have yet to be decided but he assured that the amount will compensate the price of fuel by at least half to eligible Malaysians based on bumi quota.

– SkyNet News Asia

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mercedes GP Petronas F1 Unveils Cars

1)The drivers are joined on stage by Ross Brawn, Dieter Zetsche, Norbert Haug and Nick Fry, as photographers clamber round.

2)Schumacher and Rosberg share a joke ... but soon the rivalry will begin, when pre-season testing starts next month. Teams are allowed to complete 15,000km of testing during February.

3)Schumacher still looks the part ... but doubts over his ability will persist until the first race in Bahrain in March.

4)“Driving for Mercedes-Benz again is like the closing of a circle for me as I started my racing driver career with the three-pointed star on my helmet,” said Schumacher.

5)The drivers walk onto the stage. However the car that awaits them is not the 2010 model. Rather, it is the 2009 Brawn car painted in Mercedes colours. The 2010 model will not be ready until next month.

6)The branding of Mercedes' title sponsor, Petronas, dominates the new livery.

7)The names of the two drivers are printed on the cockpit of the MGP W01 car. Schumacher hasn't raced in F1 since losing the 2006 title race to Fernando Alonso, while Rosberg has joined Mercedes from Williams after finishing the 2009 season in 7th place with 34.5 points.

8)Mercedes Benz has a rich F1 heritage, but never before has it run its own team.

Source: guardian.co.uk

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Internet Use Could Erode Our Culture? You Must Be Joking!

'Beware Internet use', Malaysia warns

The Malaysian government has warned against excessive use of micro-blogging sites like Facebook and Twitter, arguing that they could erode the country's culture, a report said Sunday.

Rais Yatim, the information and communication minister, said Muslims and other religious groups must be wary of the Internet as it was introduced by the West.

"We are not saying they cannot use Facebook or Twitter, but when using such facilities, they must upkeep the values taught by Islam, Buddhism or Christianity to maintain our culture," he was quoted as saying by the New Sunday Times newspaper.

Rais said users must not be influenced by what they see and hear when using the Internet.

"We must be strong in our belief and culture because the identity and image of our country depends on us," he said.

The government decided last August not to implement a controversial plan to create an Internet filter blocking "undesirable" websites after coming under fire from rights groups.

Malaysia's lively blogosphere has been a thorn in the side of the Barisan Nasional government, which was been in power for more than half a century but was dealt its worst ever results in the 2008 elections.

Internet news portals and blogs, which escape tight controls on the mainstream media, were credited as a key element in the swing towards the opposition which has been adept at using new media to communicate its ideas.

Source - AFP

Friday, January 15, 2010

YES - But Only In Sabah And Sarawak

Friday, 15 January 2010 15:56

Christians in Sabah and Sarawak, who had used the term 'Allah' to mean God in their local bibles for many generations, can continue to do so in the two states.

The Federal government, however, sees no reason why Christians in peninsular Malaysia should also refer to God as 'Allah' - even in the Malay print.

Stating this, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nazri also hopes that Malaysians from the two Borneo states residing in the peninsula would respect the prohibition.

He said this in an interview at his office here with a team of journalists from the See Hua Group of newspapers, representing the Borneo Post, Utusan Borneo and the Oriental Daily.

A common tradition in the Borneo states

Nazri said the Government accepts that the natives of Sabah and Sarawak had traditionally been using the term 'Allah' in their prayers and religious services. Besides, the Muslims there are accustomed to this practice.

"Christians in Sarawak and Sabah need not worry over this issue because it is a common tradition there.

"I have been to an Iban church service and I heard the word ‘Allah’ used there,” he reportedly told the visiting journalists.

"However, ‘Allah’ is not allowed to be used by churches in peninsular Malaysia and Christians from the two states have to respect this ruling when they are in the semenanjung," Nazri said.

Asked why there are two sets of rules on the usage of ‘Allah’ in the nation, Nazri said it is not a unique practice in Malaysia to have different sets of laws in certain matters, citing the Syariah Court and the Civil Court as an example.

He explained that the situation in the peninsula is different as ‘Allah’ was introduced into Christian worships and publications only in recent years.

He added: "Muslims in the semenanjung cannot accept it, as ‘Allah’ was never used in Christian preaching until only recently. They questioned the motive behind the substitution of ‘Tuhan’ for ‘Allah’.

Duty to stop acts of disrespect and provocation

“It is clearly stated in our constitution that no other religion can be propagated to Malay Muslims and this article has been enacted in all the states in Malaysia where the Sultan is the Head of State … so this excludes the Federal Territory, Penang, Malacca, Sarawak and Sabah.

“In these states, for the ban on the use of ‘Allah’ to be implemented, the Home Minister can use the Printing Act to enforce it.”

Nazri said the Christians should recognise that using ‘Allah’ in their worship and publications is sensitive to Muslims and that this is not an issue that can be solved by just going to court.

“The government has a duty to stop acts of disrespect and provocation that inflame religious and racial feelings in the nation even if there is no law that states these acts are wrong.

“For example, there is no law in the country that states that stepping on a severed cow head is wrong.

"But when a group of Malays did that in their protests against the building of a Hindu temple we hauled them up and charged them because that act was disrespectful to the Hindus,” Nazri said.

He added that on the same score, if the usage of ‘Allah’ by Christians is (and it certainly is, he said) sensitive to Muslims the government has to act even if the courts deem it legal.

Why the issue has landed in court

Question: "If that is the case, why does the government resort to going to the court to resolve the issue on the usage of ‘Allah’ by Christians?"

Nazri: "It was Archbishop Murphy Pakiam (publisher of the Catholic weekly, the Herald) who brought it to the court and the government had no choice but to defend it in court.

"Once the process of the law on the case has started, it could not be stopped.

"The government is continuing with the case in court by applying for a stay of execution, which the other party has agreed to."

Hoping for a solution soon

Question: "Judge Lau Bee Lan, in ruling against the ban on the usage of ‘Allah’ by Christians, had said that there was no evidence to show that the use of ‘Allah’ could incite violence.

Nazri: "Such incidents had not happened when the hearing was on and the government could not produce such evidence.

"But, on the other hand, the attacks on churches after the ruling proved the government right.

“Banning the use of ‘Allah’ by Christians was a pre-emptive move to stop outbreaks of religious violence in the nation."

Asked how the controversy could be solved, Nazri said there had to be a solution soon. - Malaysian Mirror