This Christmas, give them hope…

If you are wondering how you can make the year-end extra meaningful, why not think of the Monfort Youth Centre in Malacca.


The students of the Monfort Youth Centre


Help the Centre give hope to the young: An artist’s impression of the proposed double-storey building – Images courtesy of Monfort Youth Centre

First of all, I want to say thank you for your support this year with this blog. Some of the discussions and debates we have had here have been priceless. We have witnessed many things together in the struggle for justice and freedom – sometimes “live” as news breaks. At other times, we have been aghast at the environmental and human price some of us have paid for unsustainable development. And if we start to talk about corruption, oppression and exploitation, we could be here all day…

The year end is also a time for us to reflect on our lives, our priorities and what our role is in the larger scheme of things. Jesus himself was born in poverty. He constantly identified with the poor and those whom society often shunned. He empowered them and gave them hope.

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The RM1.20 tomato

Friend of mine bought a tomato for RM1.20 at the Tanjung Bunga market.

Now you would think a RM1.20 tomato would have to be pretty special.

No, this was just a little tomato, not even big and juicy.

Unlike ordinary tomatoes that would rot in a few days if left in the open, this one could keep for a while. Makes you wonder.

If a tomato could cost RM1.20, imagine the prices of other fruit and vegetables. The question is, how are the lower-income group coping? As food prices soar, as real wages remain stagnant and as overtime pay is slashed, many among the working class are struggling to put food on the table for their families – while some of our leaders squander our nation’s resources and their spouses go on shopping sprees abroad.

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Bad news from Copenhagen; Vroom! in Malaysia

Folks, it’s bad news from the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen as the nations of the world failed to agree on a common platform to reduce the threat.

There is no Copenhagen climate treaty. History was not made; no deal was sealed. This is the grim situation, at a glance:

Najib has committed Malaysia to a 40 per cent cut (compared to the 2005 level) in emissions by 2020. The Pakatan parties, on the other hand, unveiled their common policy framework, which promised to “reduce carbon emission rate to conform with international standards” and to build the foundation for a smooth transition to alternative energy resources.

But in the same week they pledged all this, the deputy sports minister, representing Najib, unveiled the Malaysian-backed Lotus Team drivers for the coming high-octane Formula One season, while over in Penang, street circuit races were revived with the holding of the Petronas Cub Prix at the Esplanade over the weekend. Are these politicians for real? It is as if Malaysians live on a different planet, where rhetoric and reality never meet, where climate chaos will never encroach into our comfort zones.

Part of the problem is that we have been kept in the dark on the key issues surrounding climate change, while a small minority are in denial mode. The other reason is that many of us seem to value unsustainable corporate-led economic growth above environmental protection. This is a piece I wrote for IPS:

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Second bridge concession period not yet decided

It looks as if the concession period for the second Penang bridge hasn’t been decided; it will only be finalised in the first quarter of 2010, says Nor Yakcop.

In that case, why did the Malaysian Highway Authority state it to be 45 years in its Annual Report for 2008?

Keep an eye out for this and monitor the total cost carefully. It has already escalated from the time it was first announced in the media. In this era of climate chaos and concern over greenhouse gas emissions, it is also not the most environmentally friendly project around.

Bernama carries the following report:

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