Monday, July 6, 2009

Random news ...

In checking the news today and this was on top ... So just decided to compare what's news in Malaysia and New Zealand :-)

Coffee laced with Viagra in Kuala Lumpur

New 8:15AM Monday Jul 06, 2009

Malaysian authorities have confiscated 900 boxes of coffee laced with Viagra.

Health Ministry officials raided a company in Kuala Lumpur that marketed the coffee as an energy booster, the New Straits Times said. The report did not say whether the package labelled Viagra as an ingredient.

The report said the 900 confiscated boxes containing some 9000 coffee packets were worth more than 72,000 ringgit ($31,000).

Some of the Viagra-laced coffee had been distributed nationwide, it said.

Viagra is legal in Malaysia, but it requires a prescription.

The most views story for thestaronline ...

Updated: Sunday July 5, 2009 MYT 5:28:56 PM

Manohara: Kelantan prince files demand for RM1mil, her return


KOTA BARU: Tengku Temenggong Muhammad Fakhry Sultan Ismail Petra filed two applications at the Kelantan Syariah High and Lower courts here on Sunday demanding the return of nearly RM1mil from his wife Cik Puan Temenggong Manohara Odelia Pinot and her return.

In the affidavit filed by Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar and Abdul Halim Bahari on behalf of Tengku Muhammad Fakhry before Syariah High Court registrar Abu Bakar Abdullah Kutty, he claimed that before he married Manohara, she and her mother Daisy Farajina, had borrowed money from him totaling RM338,500 including a Swiss-made Audemars Piguet watch costing RM174,000.

Tengku Muhammad Fakhry also claimed that throughout their marriage from August 26 2008, Manohara or her mother had borrowed a further sum of RM634,250.

He said they understood the total of RM972,750 was a debt that had to be repaid.

He also said that, to date, the sum had yet to be settled and asked the court to order Manohara to pay the sum borrowed, costs and other relief deemed fit by the court.

At the lower Syariah court, Zainul Rijal and Abdul Halim also filed a summon on behalf of Tengku Muhammad Fakhry to demand the return of Manohara who had yet to come back to their client although an ultimatum to do so had been issued.

In his affidavit, he said that in the earlier stages of his marriage to Manohara, everything was blissful until Daisy started slandering him in the Indonesian media and that affected his relationship with Manohara.

He added that on May 31, 2009, while the couple was in Singapore keeping vigil on his father Sultan Ismail Petra Sultan Yahya Petra who was suffering from a heart ailment, Manohara left for Indonesia on her own accord.

He further said Manohara did not return to him and, in fact, had slandered him in the Indonesian media.

Tengku Muhammad Fakhry said Manohara’s action had tarnished his name and the Kelantan Royal Palace in the eyes of the Kelantanese subjects.

He claimed that that he issued an ultimatum to Manohara on June 26, through the local media, to return to his side and reconcile by Jul 2 and carry out her responsibility as a wife under the Syariah laws.

He added that Manohara was duly informed of the ultimatum via the media but she failed to comply and he asked the court to issue an order to reconcile or deem her to be nusyuz (recalcitrant).

He also claimed costs and other relief deemed fit by the court.

Tengku Muhammad Fakhry’s counsels also made an application for a notice of interlocutory at the Lower Syariah court to be served to Manohara via hand, Malaysian Embassy in Indonesia, advertisement in Indonesian newspapers or via post.

Abu Bakar who received the notice allowed the application.

The case is set for mention on Aug 2.

Over to NZ news ... of closer impact to life for me Waitakere City (i.e. West Auckland) ..

Hearings for Super City under way

4:00AM Monday Jul 06, 2009
By Bernard Orsman

In May last year, the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Auckland Governance began public hearings in the concert chamber at the Pukekohe War Memorial Town Hall.

Fourteen months later, the Barry Court Accommodation and Event Centre in Parnell is the backdrop today for the start of public hearings on the Government's Super City plan - a super Auckland Council, a super mayor, 20 to 30 virtually powerless local boards and no place for Maori at the table.

Last year, former High Court judge Peter Salmon, QC, and fellow commissioners, former public servant Dame Margaret Bazley and David Shand, began listening to more than 550 ratepayers, interested parties and councils on ways to improve Auckland's local governance.

They concluded regional governance was weak and fragmented, community engagement poor and delivered a package of reforms in March.

The Government picked up on a Super City and mayor elected at large, but rejected recommendations for six local councils under the main body and plans for three Maori seats.

Instead, it went for 20 to 30 local boards which Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey noted would be limited to "brothels, dogs and graffiti".

The weak functions and powers for the local boards has sparked criticism. Also under fire are plans for 12 ward councillors and eight councillors elected at large on the Auckland Council. There are concerns the ward councillors will represent more than 100,000 people each and the at-large system will favour political blocs and those who can afford city-wide campaigns.

Rural-focused Rodney and Papakura districts councils want to be left out of the Super City.

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide said it is a given the local boards will get more power. The thinking in Government circles is how much power can be handed to local boards without undermining the big picture focus of the Auckland Council.

On the other contentious issues, Mr Hide says the Government will be interested to hear the arguments of the 800 or so submitters expected to have a say over the next four weeks.

The Act leader and his National Party coalition partner are philosophically opposed to Maori seats. Whether the Maori Party and submitters can achieve a quota of Maori seats is a big political hurdle.

The Government plan - recommended by the royal commission - to have a mix of ward-based and councillors elected at large on the Auckland Council is driven by the parochialism and factionalism that has long bedevilled Auckland for so long. The fear being that ward councillors will make a song and dance about their patch at the expense of the region.

Labour leader Phil Goff, whose MPs have been milking criticism of the shake-up, will be in attendance today and is confident community opposition will force the Government to back down on some aspects of the package.

Mr Goff is scathing of the Government's handling of the Super City and says the select committee process is a belated chance for Aucklanders to have a say.

"Labour has always supported the idea of a unitary council, but supports stronger, more effective second-tier representation and all councillors elected by wards," he said.

"It also supports Maori seats."


And back to Malaysia .... 2nd most viewed story in the star online ...

Sunday July 5, 2009

‘Ray of hope’ that turned out to be a nightmare

KUALA KUBU BARU: We were hit by the stench of faeces and urine the minute we walked into the men’s block at Taman Sinar Harapan located in a secluded area of the town here.

Mr A, a volunteer from a non-governmental organisation who goes to the home every Sunday to clean and feed the residents, opened the locked door at the back of the block and we were stunned by what greeted us.

About 30 stark naked men were inside the room, either lying down or sitting on the wet marble floor. In one part of the room, we saw a pool of blood, still fresh and red, on the floor.

Half of the men were locked behind bars like animals in a zoo while the others were able to move about in the front portion of the room. Those in the “jail cells” were segregated so that they would not harm their non-violent roommates.

“Those who are accidentally placed inside the cells with the more aggressive residents would be beaten or abused,” the volunteer revealed.

Most of them looked no older than 50 but they were just skin and bones and some looked extremely frail. One resident was lying on his stomach on a wooden bench and had passed motion; we almost gagged at its stench.

Fans were installed inside the room for better ventilation but that was the only luxury the men had. There were no beds, no toilets and not even blankets to keep them warm on cold rainy nights.

Those who were not in the “jail cells” were given beds but without any mattresses or pillows. They were, however, chained to the bed frame with metal chains and a steel lock.

We were told by a volunteer that they were restricted to prevent them from hurting themselves. The volunteer also shared that the men were not given any clothing as they had used their shirts to strangle themselves or the other men in the past.

After a briefing by Mr A, we got down to work. We were put in charge of spreading mats and towels on the floor.

The volunteers were all given different tasks. A group of about six or seven men were in charge of bathing the locked-up residents, the women were in charge of preparing the food and feeding the residents while the rest (there were two children in the volunteer group) were in charge of cleaning up the place and washing their clothes.

The residents were hosed down with water and soap by volunteers dressed in construction boots and a water proof apron.

After that, the male volunteers carried the naked men to the front part of the building for us to towel dry them.

After sensing our discomfort, a female volunteer nearby said: “It’s okay, they’re just like babies, you know, they don’t know anything.”

We proceeded to wipe them dry one by one before we were told to feed them with the yong tau foo bought by one of the volunteers.

The food was mashed to bits and mixed with soup to minimise the need to chew and to make feeding an easier task. so that the residents only needed to swallow them.

As we fed them, some ate obediently while others were greedy and stuffed their hands inside the bowls to take out larger portions of the food.

Some volunteers reprimanded the greedy ones who crawled towards the table to help themselves to more food. We noticed that some of the mentally disabled residents liked to hit themselves repeatedly. When we tried to stop them, they would fight back or just hit their body against the floor.

Mid-way through feeding, some volunteers suddenly rushed over to a young resident whose head was bleeding profusely. We were told that the boy had slipped and fell.

The volunteers immediately dressed him up, put him on a wheelchair and sent him to a hospital nearby.

After mopping the floor, we took a break and noticed that the residents were taken back into their cells to be locked up again.

It was nearly 4pm when everything was done. The residents were all bathed, fed and the place was clean enough.

We asked the volunteers what would happen to the residents on weekdays when the group was not there to offer their help.

The naked truth: Some of the inmates who were caged up in the home.

“The caretakers don’t do much. There are only two of them while there are 50 residents. If it’s time to feed them, they would just walk one round with a bowl and feed whoever wants to eat. Those who don’t are left alone,” answered a volunteer.

She divulged that another charitable organisation had brought food for the residents but it was thrown away. “When the group asked why they did such a thing, the caretakers said that the residents would create a bigger mess if there was more food because they would defecate more often,” she said.

After the voluntary group had left, we stayed back to check out the other blocks.

The women’s wing looked cleaner and did not smell as bad but a handful of the women were seen walking about in the nude.

The two caretakers stationed at the block were seen watching TV and chatting.

We noticed that the women’s clothes were laid out to dry on a dirty floor caked with fungus. We walked over to the children’s block which seemed to be the best kept part of the home. It was decorated and there were proper beds. But the children were curiously quiet.

A volunteer claimed that the children were fed with cough syrup so that they would be sleepy and docile.


  1. this is a government-run center??? heart-breaking. sometimes i think the greatest need for christians is in the civil service . . . may god equip those who are so called to such work.

  2. Z, It is a shocking expose. The difference between this situation and the stories you read about L'Arche is poles apart.
    For me it related to very different understandings of the "doctrine of man".

    But it is not easy. In my twenties I spent close to 2 weeks at one of the Malaysian CARE homes for the handicapped (which we now call disabled - I still prefer the term handicapped) and one of my tasks was to look after this 30 plus man who was about 4 feet tall (but moved around on his buttocks - in a horizonatal postion). He wet himself often (let's not get into the other human needs) and had the mind of a small child.

    Taking care of him and trying to love and treat him with dignity was very difficult. I think the main reason I was able to be cheerful etc was that I knew I was only there for 2 weeks. It's tough and needs a calling and a heart of true compassion. I think if I stayed longer than 2 weeks I would have "snapped".

  3. :) yes, i won't pretend to be a saint either. it would be interesting to find out more about how places like l'arche are so much more compassionate and "successful."