Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Alcohol in Indonesia

Indonesia announced it would remove the visa fees for citizens of many countries including GB. That is a good move as the 30 day visa is US$30. They used to have a cheaper 7 day visa but they scrapped that.

But now Indonesia has announced it is banning the sale of beer and pre-mixed alcoholic drinks in small shops. This will really affect the tourism industry, especially on Bali. However this rule might be eased on Bali.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Lim Lian Geok memorial, KL - Chinese educationist

Some time ago, when I was taking photos in the Kwong Tong cemetery in Kuala Lumpur, I made a point of looking at the Lim Lian Geok memorial. This is at the start of the cemetery near the Alice Smith School. At that time I didn't know anything about Lim Lian Geok, who is regarded as the most revered Chinese educationist in Malaysia.

In April 2015, Hong invited me to join him on a visit to the LLG memorial in KL, so I readily agreed. This memorial is at LLG: 89 & 91, Jalan Maharajalela in KL, not far from the Chinese Assembly Hall.

We were given a tour of the exhibits about Lim Lian Geok, housed on the 4th floor. The displays were in Chinese, Malay and English.

Lim Lian Geok, (1901-1985) was a revered Chinese educationist and was the pioneer of the civil society movement in Malaysia.

He arrived in Malaya in 1927 but then went to Java for a while and also back to China.

trunk with clothes used by Lim
He was a teacher at the Confucian School in KL from 1935-1961. In 1951 he was active in the protest against the Barnes Report that wanted to abolish Chinese and Tamil schools. This led to the formation of the United Chinese Schools Teachers' Association and Lim became president from 1953.
Extract from the Barnes Report / Education Ordinance 1952

In his Hari Raya Aidifitri message in 1956, he said "Every ethnic community should be accepted as a member of this nation's family, equal in their rights and in their national duty. They should share the nation's abundance and stand together to face all challenges in building a strong and sound nation."

At that time he was a supporter of Malay mother tongue eduction.

He wanted all citizens of Malaya to be united and work together to build the nation. He advocated that Malayan Chinese must be loyal to the country and the Chinese school text books must reflect the true situation in Malaya.

Lim was aware of the socio-economic disparity between ethnic groups and that those groups lagging behind was due to the colonial government's economic segregation policy. Believing in equality he urged the government to address this difference.

He was opposed to the 1960 Razak Report and 1961 Education Act that required all secondary schools to teach in English or Malay.

As a result, his citizenship and teaching permit were revoked by the government due to his strong
opposition against conversion of Chinese secondary schools. 54 out of 70 Chinese schools converted to 'national type secondary schools'. However he refused to return to China.

When he died in 1985 his funeral procession in KL was the largest ever seen for any Malaysian Chinese. He was honoured by the Malaysian Chinese.

In his honour, the LLG Cultural Development Centre was set up. One of their objectives is "To promote mother tongue education and foster traditional ethnic cultures".

The last part of the display is a long way with 'cartoon' pictures depicting the history of Malaya during Lim's time -

See more on the LLG Cultural Development Centre.

Monday, April 6, 2015

All Souls Day, Cheng Beng, 2015

All Souls Day, or Qing Ming aka Cheng Beng fell on 4 April in 2015. It is held 15 days after the spring equinox.

It is the time when the Chinese clean the graves of their ancestors. For 10 days either side of the date they visit the cemeteries. It is a very noisy time as they let off fire crackers. This year these started on 26 March, and often just before sunrise.

The weekend before and after there is a major traffic jam leading to the huge Kwong Tong cemetery near me. On the Saturday before, at the end of March, the traffic jam started before dawn, around 6.45 am and was solid for more than 3 hours. Luckily I went to Thailand after that weekend so missed the rest of the festival.

As well as the firecrackers and the grave cleaning, the Chinese burn paper offerings. This means there is a lot of smoke in cemetery, which was already hot and dry and hazy due to the lack of rain.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Total lunar eclipse April 2015

There was a total lunar eclipse this evening, Saturday 4 April 2015. I saw it in Phuket, south Thailand. It was visible from North America, the Pacific, East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. It was also a full moon - the first full moon of the spring season (northern hemisphere). And the festivals of Easter and the Passover.

15 days ago on 20th March 2015 there was a total solar eclipse, seen across the far Northern regions of Europe and the Artic. The next one won't be until 2026. Apparently when there is a total solar eclipse, a total lunar eclipse occurs 15 days after.

As I was at the beach, I watched the sun set on Sat 4th evening -

The last sunset photo was taken at 6.32 pm. It was 7.12 pm when I  saw the moon and it was almost totally eclipsed. Just the lower left part was showing -

Earth's shadow consists of two parts: a faint outer region, called the penumbra, and a much darker inner shadow called the umbra. The moon will enter the penumbra at 15.01 Thai time (0901 GMT), though the effect will not become evident to most eyes until about 55 minutes later. To spot the penumbra, look for a faint bit of darkness, a "soiled" or "smudgy" appearance on the left rim of the moon.

The duration of totality, or total eclipse, was (apparently) extremely short. But there was  a very long partial eclipse - the time from when the moon first touches the dark umbra until the moment totality begins is abnormally long, running 102 minutes.
7.20 pm


7.45 pm

7.47 pm (with a cable in front of the moon as I was sat having dinner!)

7.48 and 7.52

 By 8.15 the eclipse was almost over, just the top right corner of the moon was still covered -

The last photo was taken 8.20 pm.

From www.timeanddate.com

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

GST in Malaysia

GST came into effect in Malaysia on 1 April 2015. This is the first time Malaysia has had such a tax. It is 6%. There have been so many complaints and negative comments for many months before. However 6% is nothing compared to the 20% VAT in UK. Although admittedly much of that tax is used for public services so the people benefit.

As with many new things in Malayia, it will probably be a mess when GST starts, as no one really knows which items are taxable. There were long queues in supermarkets on the days before 1 Apr as people stocked up on items they thought will be taxable.
 The Sun on 30 March listed some items that are taxable and exempt.

Looking at the list, there seems to be little logic -

Coffee powder and sugar are exempt but milk powder and 3 in 1 are  not. 
No mention of 2 in 1 !!!

Canned foods are exempt but canned sardines and tuna are not.

Noodles are exempt but instant noodles aren't.


Consumers may be shopping till they drop in the final countdown to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) era but how many of them have checked the "zero-rated" and "exempted" supplies list to avoid stocking up on the wrong items.
According to a report in Sin Chew Daily today, many shoppers were seen rushing for infant formula, toddler milk powder, adult diapers, powdered Milo, coffee powder, personal hygiene products, canned food and even rice. But rice, along with infant formula and coffee powder, is not subjected to GST.
"Zero-rated" supplies and goods which are currently subjected to 10% Sales and Service Tax (SST), such as electrical products, will not see a price increase with the implementation of GST. On the contrary, their prices will most likely drop.
Zero-rated supplies include newspaper, white and wholemeal bread, rice, rice vermicelli, noodles, sugar, salt, cooking oil, meat, local and imported fruits, diesel, RON 95 petrol, cooking gas, eggs, fresh vegetables, fish, prawn, coffee powder, infant formula, public transport fares, schoolbus fares, textbooks, reference books, school miscellaneous fees and examination fees.
Goods that will likely see a drop in prices as a result of the replacement of 10% SST with the 6% GST include TV sets, refrigerators, air-conditioners, home theatre systems, gas stoves, cotton bath towers, colouring pencils, toothbrushes, hair-blowers, antiseptic liquid, dinning set, diapers, 850cc vehicles and aerated drinks.
On the other hand, dining out at restaurants is going to cost more with GST. Goods that will see price increases include handphones, computers, laptops and notepads, broadband services, magazines, photocopiers, printers, milk powders (for three-year-olds and above), toys, RON 97 petrol, freight charges, clothings, shoes, bottled drinking water, stationery, toilet paper, canned sardine and tuna, 3-in-1 coffee, Milo, instant noodles, seasoning sauces, lipsticks, watches, ice-cream, cheese, oats and cereals.
Service charges currently being collected by the service industry and restaurateurs will also be subjected to GST.