THE JOURNAL consists of selected, most notable and newsworthy POSTINGS OF THE DAY.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

No joy for Lina

NEWSFLASH - 11.30am

Lina Joy’s long wait for her conversion to Christianity to be recognised by law is over - the Federal Court ruled today that she remains a Muslim and her religious status will not be removed from her identity card.

Delivering the judgment to a packed gallery this morning in Putrajaya, Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim ruled that jurisdiction remains with the Syariah court.

A large section of the 300-strong crowd waiting outside recited the tahlil or read the Quran while waiting for the decision. When the news reached them, they shouted Allahuakbar - their reaction resounded through the Palace of Justice.

Born to Malay parents, Joy, 43, whose Muslim name was Azlina Jailani, converted to Christianity in 1998 - Malaysiakini.

Lina Joy Decision Today

The Malaysian Federal Court has set today for the delivery of its decision on the appeal of Lina Joy against the Court of Appeal’s majority ruling two years ago, that the National Registration Department was right in not allowing her application to delete the word “Islam” from her identity card.

Lina’s solicitor Benjamin Dawson confirmed May 30 as the date for the decision.

On July 3 last year, Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Justice Richard Malanjum and Federal Court judge Justice Alauddin Mohd Sheriff reserved their judgment to a date to be fixed.

Lina, 42, was born Azlina Jailani to Malay parents. She was brought up as a Muslim but at the age of 26 decided to become a Christian. In 1999, she changed the name in her identity card to Lina Joy but her religion remained as Islam.

On April 23, 2001, the High Court refused to decide on her application to renounce Islam as her religion on grounds that the Syariah Court should decide the issue.

It also dismissed her application for an order to direct the department to drop the word “Islam” from her identity card.

Riyo Mori is Miss Universe

A 20-year-old dancer from Japan was crowned Miss Universe 2007 on Monday night, marking only the second time her country has won the world beauty title.

Dressed in a black, red and purple Japanese-style gown, Riyo Mori nervously grabbed the hands of first runner-up, Natalia Guimaraes of Brazil, just before the winner was announced. Then she threw her hands up and covered her mouth, overcome with emotion.

But she gathered herself together enough to catch the diamond-and-pearl-studded headpiece valued at $250,000 as it slipped off her head when Miss Universe 2006 Zuleyka Rivera of Puerto Rico crowned her. Mori immediately placed it back on her head.

"She is an amazing champion, an amazing woman and I hear that they go totally insane in Japan, so that's good," said Donald Trump, who co-owns the pageant with NBC.

Mori, from the small town of Shizuoka at the base of Mount Fuji, won the cheers of the Mexico City audience when she opened her interview, saying 'Hola, Mexico!'

"I learned how to always be happy, be patient and to be positive, and this is what I want to teach to the next generation," she said during the interview competition.

"Right now I am only 20 years old, so I'm really excited about what I'm going to be able to do at this age to benefit society," Mori said after winning.

The winner travels the world for a year on behalf of charities and pageant sponsors - AP.

A comment: Miss Brazil was loads better and would have been a better choice but hey, was it Asia's turn? After all that high heels and heartaches, a rather disappointing finish for all the girls who went to Mexico for the title.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bravo Bar Council

None of the 25 lawyers being pursued by police for alleged criminal breach of trust involving tens of millions of ringgit has contacted the Bar Council for advice or information.

Council president S. Ambiga said since the announcement was made by police on Saturday, none of them had contacted the council which found that most of the lawyers named by the police were not in the country.

"Of the 25 lawyers, there is only one who is still practising, and some of them may have absconded overseas," she said at a press conference at the council's office here today.

Ambiga, who was responding to media queries on the issue of the 25 lawyers, said after the police announcement, the Bar Council went to the said legal firms and found that most of the firms were closed.

However, she said, the council could not comment too much on the issue since the police were still investigating the cases and "they are not guilty until their cases have been heard in court".

Ambiga who welcomed the move taken by the police, said it helped to step up efforts to curb dishonesty within the legal fraternity.

"From 1981 until now, 233 lawyers in the country have been struck off the roll after they were found guilty of serious offences such as criminal breach of trust under the Legal Profession Act 1976," she said.

"According to the Act, lawyers who have been struck off the roll will be prohibited from practising but they have a choice to file an appeal to the court.

"Besides that, their certificate of legal profession will also be suspended by the Bar Council's Disciplinary Board," she added - Bernama.

Amnesty International

Here's a statement from AI regarding Suu Kyi's extention of detention and her unlawful detention without trial in Myanmar by the military junta there. See here my earlier posting for her release.

The extension of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's detention highlights the need for urgent action on Myanmar's deteriorating human rights situation, said Amnesty International.

The detention order for the leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) had been due to expire on Sunday 27 May, but the Myanmar authorities today renewed it for a further year.

The already grave human rights situation in Myanmar has got even worse over the last year. Amnesty International is calling on the international community and the Myanmar authorities to address this crisis. The Myanmar authorities must take immediate measures to stop abuses against civilians during their military operations in Kayin state. They must release unconditionally all those wrongfully imprisoned, improve prison conditions and end political harassment.

Aung San Suu Kyi will have spent more than eleven and a half of the last eighteen years arbitrarily detained under house arrest. For much of the remaining time her movement has been heavily restricted by the authorities. She has never been charged or tried with any offence.

Aung San Suu Kyi's repeated detentions exemplify the ongoing travesty of justice of political imprisonment in Myanmar. There are currently more than 1,160 political prisoners, many of whom have been penalised solely on account of their peaceful dissent towards the Myanmar authorities. Among those in prison are many sick and elderly individuals whose health continues to be jeopardized by poor and worsening prison conditions, including lack of adequate diet and medical care.

The security legislation used to wrongfully imprison Aung San Suu Kyi and others must be repealed or amended to stop it being used to silence peaceful dissent. At a time when the authorities are proposing political reconciliation, they should be guaranteeing peaceful exercise of basic rights, with no fear of recrimination.

Monday, May 28, 2007

TI - A Comment

A reader of mine, Michel van Hulten, has sent me a comment which I would publish as a posting for all to read. This comment was in response to my posting on Transparency International on Saturday, 26.5.2007.

Mr. Rajahram is not alone in his judgment. I show below the summary and conclusions of my study of Ten Years of Corruption (Perceptions) Indices. You can find the full text as word document on my website: go to The home page mentions 'Artikelen', go to nr. 2 and click.

The problem in TI is that the main office in Berlin is not in favor of even discussing the CPI as made.

Summary and conclusions

Methodologically, the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is not rigorous enough in its scientific research, which is a pity, as it was over the past ten years an excellent public relations tool that wakened the world over this scourge of our society.One of the peer-reviewers, asked to comment on my earlier draft of this document wrote:‘My short statement is: as a marketing tool is the index in some societies very effective but this is the only excuse of its existence. It cannot be considered by no means as a serious statistical tool for measuring whatsoever.’An outsider was even more rude and honest: ‘TI reinforced stereotypes by depicting African nations as the most corrupt’, (see attachment X).

I agree that the scores calculated per country, and the resulting rank-list of countries, year after year strengthened the general public, governments, international organizations, journalists and donors, mostly in the ‘rich world’, in their views that it is the underdeveloped nations where corruption is most rampant. As I will prove it is the faulty methodology used over so many years that created these scores and rankings in which the richer countries are the ‘cleaner’ ones. The poor not only remain poor but it is ‘their own fault as they are not well governed and not honest’.

The scores, and therefore the resulting rank-order of countries, are built on samples of respondents, particularly working in the Western business-world: country-analysts/experts and journalists, no blue collar-worker is in sight. Why are other categories of respondents missing? Perceptions of corruption held by others do not play a role? Why is it that perceptions of corruption held by women, consumers, the old, the young, the sick, the poor, the powerless, the ones that suffer under corruption, do not play a role? Why are no perceptions portrayed that are held in the trade-unions? Why are there no contributions from investigative journalists?

But even the businessmen alone, willing to answer questions about corruption, constitute already a biased choice. In most countries of the world you better shut up. Remarkably enough, also missing are the elected politicians and the public servants. Is not bribe-giving and -receiving, two-way traffic?

Most of the respondents (maybe the analysts/experts qualify better?), work as individuals in private companies and judge on the basis of their personal experiences (and on hearsay?) in daily life, and in their business relations with politicians and public servants.

If we accept that the perceptions of corruption as held by them, and as they believe do exist among their business-colleagues, why is it that their perceptions are correct and valid for the total of ‘countries’ and populations?

The CPI is a ‘composite index’ based on the work by other researchers. TI cannot possibly monitor the quality of the data-sources and surveys on which the CPI is based. No one contributes directly his or her perceptions to the final TI-results. All perceptions have already been processed and reported by others before they enter the statistical analysis and processing by TI. Methodologically this is unacceptable as in the supporting surveys from which the composite index is constructed, questions asked differ widely. They cover perceptions of corruption, as well as perceptions of fraud, or of a general feeling of uneasiness in the business-world, or of lack of integration in a foreign land or culture. Questions do not only differ between surveys, they also differ within the same survey over the years. They do reflect a variety of definitions for corruption.‘Corruption’, the most essential concept used in the CPI-reports is defined as ‘misuse of public power for private gain’. In later years the word ‘entrusted’ replaces the word ‘public’, an important change, as the focus shifts from solely public corruption to also including private corruption.

Moreover, over the years there is no rigidity in the choice of sources that is used. Should it be only the most recent ones? Or, should all sources be used that originate from the same year as the CPI of that year? Or, should all reports be used in three successive years according to availability (‘roll over’ as is said in some of the CPI-reports?) TI chooses for a variety of ways in various years.

Francophone and lusophone sources are altogether missing. The use made of sources is sometimes discontinued, although they were available. Why? Only two sources have contributed in all the years. Why is in particular years abstained from the use of an earlier used source, also available in following years, is not motivated.

A most remarkable statement is that by making use of ever more sources, the quality of the one composite index will become better. TI/Lambsdorff genuinely believes that the good qualities of one or some of the sources, compensate for eventually lacking qualities of the others. Why not use only those sources that have good qualities? Because nobody knows which ones are good? Undisclosed remains, which sources have been considered but have not been used for inclusion in the composite index, no reasons are given.

The World Bank estimate of the total of bribes paid in the world in 1995 was 50 billion dollars. In 2005, the World Bank estimates (calculates?) a total of 1.000 billion dollars, twenty times more. TI/Lambsdorff agrees with this higher figure, but do not explain how this multiplication could not affect the scores and rank-order countries get assigned in the CPI. Is bribe-paying rising in all countries proportionally with the same rate? This is highly unlikely to be true. All over the years we see that basically the same countries are on top, the same remain in the tail of the rank-order. The CPI has no educational value?

In the ‘What next?’ chapter suggestions are given for improvements.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Testudo kleinmanni

A worker from Rome's Biopark Zoo holds Testudo kleinmanni hatchlings, an endangered species also known as Egyptian tortoises, in Rome.The offsprings are the hatchlings of several Egyptian tortoises that were rescued from a smuggler's suitcase in 2005 at Naples airport, southern Italy, by Italy's forestry police and were entrusted to Rome's main zoo - Reuters.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Transparency Intnl.

I was at the at official launch of the Global Corruption Report 2007: Corruption and the Judicial Systems by Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, President, Transparency International Malaysia on Thursday evening, 4pm at the Bar Council Auditorium, Kuala Lumpur.

A panel discussion and dialogue was held after and here is The Star's take of the event.

At the dialogue I raised three significant observations regarding a global perception survey and corruption in the judicial systems for the panel members attention.

1. It was only a perception survey and it could be world's apart from reality on the ground. You cannot possibly say or answer your survey by hearsay and inference in a survey like this. It depends on who your respondents are and how valid the selection was. And based on perception, we cannot take a stand against any individual or body. It is only a general, respondents view and nothing more.

2. A global comparision and ranking would not be valid because the respondents in different countries are different and based on their value systems, perceptional differences and standards, their scaling would be different. Hence a comparision would not be correct. To be very scientific, it should be the same respondents looking at the various judicial systems. This is practically not possible because everyone lives in their own country and does not know about the workings in other countries.

3. How do you distinguish an unfair or bad decision of a judge as opposed to to a corrupt one i.e. where a particular decision was arrived at by paying money to a judge. Because no corrupt judge would say he received payment or no person seeking a favoured judgement is going to say he paid money for that decision. Is there a link man between the two and if so can he be caught red handed to prove corruption had taken place?

Colours of Malaysia

Colours of Malaysia is a celebration of the sights, sounds and colours of Malaysia. This year’s celebration promises to be a truly memorable one.

The event will take place in the new city of Putrajaya with the stunning Palace of Justice as its backdrop celebrating the architecture and progress that has propelled Malaysia into the 21st Century.

The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Millions of Colours, Millions of Smiles’. This large-scale performance will bring together thousands of performers, musicians, puppeteers and dancers from all over Malaysia.

Welcome to Colours of Malaysia 2007 and enjoy the “Millions of Colours and Millions of Smiles in Malaysia”.

Starting at 9.00pm tonight, it promises to be a musical extravaganza par excellence. Be sure to be there for a feast for the eyes and ears. It may be telecast live ... so please stay tuned.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Man U dump Malaysia

NEWSFLASH - 3.30pm

Premier League champions Manchester United on Thursday bowed to pressure from the Asian Football Confederation and called off their planned match in Malaysia in July.

The decision followed talks on Wednesday between AFC president Mohamed bin Hammam, Premier League chairperson Sir Dave Richards and Manchester United chief executive David Gill.

"This match is a key element of the Malaysian government's celebrations of its 50 years of independence and presents a marvellous opportunity for us to play in front of our many Malaysian fans," United said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, new information has come to the club's attention concerning the FAM's (Football Association of Malaysia's) agreement with the AFC to act as host for the Asian Cup, which means the club cannot play the game without the official approval of the AFC."

United said the only way the match could go ahead was if the AFC changed its mind. An AFC official Thursday told AFP its position remained unchanged - that the match cannot take place while the Asian Cup is on from July 7-29.

All four Asian Cup host nations - Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam - made pledges to the AFC that they would not hold or promote any other football matches during the flagship tournament.

Bin Hammam has warned the FAM it faces "wide-ranging legal repercussions" for failing to toe the AFC line, although he has not made clear what they might be.

His fear is that a club of United's magnitude would draw attention away from the region's most prestigious football tournament, held every four years.

However, the rest of United's Asia tour to South Korea, Japan and Macau is set to go ahead despite AFC calls for it to be postponed.

The Malaysian climbdown, though, is a victory for the AFC, which had the backing of Fifa president Sepp Blatter, and a slap in the face for the FAM and the government, which invited United as part of their independence celebrations.

FAM deputy president Tengku Abdullah said they had attempted to reach an amicable solution. "In fact, I requested that United come two days later but they said it's not possible," he was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times.

United have fixed a friendly against Inter Milan at Old Trafford on August 1 and are unable to reschedule the match for after the Asian Cup. They then take on Chelsea in the season-opening Community Shield on August 5 - AFP.

Malaysia's Wealthiest

Malaysia's 40 richest business people are now worth a collective US$43 billion (US$1=RM3.38), up 65 per cent from US$26 billion last year, according to Forbes Asia's 2007 listing of the country's wealthiest.

Sugar King Tan Sri Robert Kuok Hock Nien, 84, remains Malaysia's richest, worth US$7.6 billion, up from US$5.6 billion last year, Forbes said.

His Kuok Group has interests spanning shipping, real estate and the media. It is merging its extensive Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil interests with Singapore's Wilmar International which is run by his nephew, said the magazine.

The Malaysia Rich List appears in the June 4 issue of Forbes Asia which is available on newsstands this week.

Second richest with net worth of US$7.4 billion, or 61 per cent higher than his net worth of US$4.6 billion last year, is Ananda Krishnan, who recently announced plans to take his telecommunications company, Maxis Communications Bhd, private in a US$5 billion deal.

He is followed by Genting casino doyen, Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, at US$4.3 billion, up from US$1.5 billion last year.

Forbes said Malaysia's top 10 richest account for 80 per cent of the wealth represented on the list with collective net worth of US$35 billion, up 63 per cent than the year before.

"There are eight newcomers, most due to recent offerings or dramatic gains in public holdings. Mokhzani joins the ranks (28th) after taking his energy company Kencana public in December," it said.

Forbes said the wealth creation was boosted by a thriving economy, which benefited from recent government moves to reduce taxes, and a buoyant stock market, up more than 20 per cent to-date and the third best-performing market in Asia this year behind China and Vietnam.

The June 4 issue of the magazine also contains a feature on AirAsia Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes whose US$230 million wealth put him 24th in the list.

The top ten wealthiest Malaysians are:

1) Tan Sri Robert Kuok Hock Nien: US$7.6 billion;
2) Ananda Krishnan: US$7.4 billion;
3) Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong: US$4.3 billion;
4) Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng: US$3.9 billion;
5) Tan Sri Teh Hong Piow: US$3.5 billion;
6) Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan: US$3 billion;
7) Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary: US$2 billion;
8) Tan Sri Yeoh Tiong Lay: US$1.8 billion;
9) Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King: US$1.2 billion; and,
10) Tan Sri William Cheng Heng Jem: US$650 million.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

The New American Idol

NEWS FLASH - 10.15am

Jordin Sparks is the new American Idol.

After more than 74 million votes were counted, the 17-year-old was declared the winner at the end of the two-hour American Idol season finale on Wednesday night.

Sparks beat Blake Lewis, 25, who squared off against her on Tuesday night's final.

"You just wiped the floor with Blake," judge Simon Cowell told Sparks on Tuesday's show, after she belted out the saccharine Idol single "This is My Now."

The season-ender kicked off with Lewis and Sparks singing The Beatles classic "I Saw Her Standing There." Later, both were presented with keys to brand new Ford Mustangs.

Jordan Sparks is the youngest ever American Idol winner - John Kennedy,

New Frog Species

A new species of mountain frog that changes colour in response to its surroundings has been discovered in northeast Thailand, a biologist said Wednesday.

The Odorrana aureola, known locally as the Phu Luang Cliff frog after the national park where it was found, can grow to 80 millimeters (3.5 inches) and has a green body which occasionally turns brown, researchers said.

"It reflects its surrounds," said Tanya Chan-ard, curator of Bangkok's National Science Museum, who studied the frog with a team of government biologists and researchers.

Tanya told AFP it was the world's newest species of mountain frog, and was found only in Phu Luang National Park, which covers parts of the three mountainous northeastern Thai provinces.

The frog can only be found at waterfalls and creeks between 1,000 and 1,500 metres (3,300 and 4,900 feet) above sea level, he added.

"We found the frog quite some time ago but we began seriously studying it at the DNA level last year," said Tanya, who presented his findings at a seminar in Bangkok on Tuesday.

The team's findings were confirmed by US-based experts with the natural history journal Fieldiana last year, he added.

Researchers do not know how many of the Odorrana aureola are in the Thai wild, but Tanya said there were probably not very many as they did not breed very often - AFP.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Air Travel in Indonesia

Here's something close to my heart ... travel. It's a passion and hence this report.

It is a very chilly picture of air travel in Indonesia. What has happened to the industry? Indonesia with a population of 230 million and 17,000 islands relies a lot on air travel as a convenient mode of transport.

This year on New Year's day, an aircraft of Adam Air went missing with 102 passengers aboard near Sulawesi. On March 7th, 21 people were killed in Yogyakarta when a Garuda jetliner crash landed. Previously many crashes have occured in Medan, Sumatra.

Low cost carriers have grown tremendously in this country. From only 3 in 2002 to 28 budget carriers today. Air travellers have increased from 19.2 million in 2003 to 34 million last year.This huge growth has been due to cheap, almost cut throat prices offered by these 28 airlines to attract passengers to fill the seats.

This has meant cutting corners and offering huge discounts. The high demand for air travel, low prices, high operating costs and thin margins have forced many budget carriers to fly their planes way beyond the aircraft's limits of flying time which causes metal fatigue.

Passengers themselves contribute to the problem by taking excess baggage and bribing check-in clerks. Courier companies in turn bribe ground handlers to turn a blind eye to overweight cargo. This in turn causes overloading the plane.

Corruption like these, old and badly maintained aircraft, outdated technology, ill-trained aviation personnel, poor radar cover, non-compliance to to air traffic regulations, poor supervision and bad management practices at the airports have all led to a poor state of aviation industry in Indonesia.

So what has the Government done?

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration ( FAA), lowered Indonesia's airline oversight rating after two deadly crashes this year. This warning will have no impact on the country's aviation said the previous Minister of Transport, Hatta Rajasa.

The last time Indonesian authorities carried out a review of its carriers, none fully met the safety standards. The worst seven were warned to make improvements or face freezing of its operation that could lead to closure of the airline.

The FAA has downgraded Indonesia's safety oversight from Category 1 to Category 2 - indicating not meeting ICAO standards.

I only hope the Government and the Insurance Companies have adequately compensated the next of kin of the missing passengers and crash victims of the latest tragedies. That itself would be a sufficient deterrent to prevent further misfortunes and to correct the sorry state of the authorities and airlines of the country.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ahead on your TV

1. American Idol: Final Performance Show
Star World, tomorrow 6pm. Repeats at 8pm; 11.30 pm.

2. American Idol: Results Show
Star World, the day after, same times.

Is it singing, voting or judging that determines the winners? You decide !

3. Miss USA Pageant 2007
Star World, Saturday 9pm.

4. Miss Universe 2007
Live from Mexico City, May 28th
Lookout for live telecast details in your tv programmes

Meanwhile, Jimena Elias, Miss Peru 2007 - APpic.

Monday, May 21, 2007

AFC Chief Issues Warning

Football fans out there, here's a real hangover after last Saturday's match ...

Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam on Saturday warned of “wide-ranging legal repercussions” if Manchester United visited Malaysia during the Asian Cup, urging the match to be moved to August.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president said he was trying to meet Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on the row after Malaysian officials backtracked on a decision to scrap the July 27 friendly. “The crux of the matter is about honouring an agreement. If there happens to be a breach of agreement, it has wide-ranging legal repercussions,” Mohamed bin Hammam said in an open letter printed by the Malay Mail. “We do not think it is too much to ask for the continent and people of Asia to be exposed to our tournament just for one month. It will be our pleasure if Malaysia were to host the United match in early August,” he added.

Malaysia, one of four Asian Cup co-hosts, last year signed an agreement not to promote other matches 10 days before the July 7-29 Asian Cup and three days afterwards. Officials, under pressure from the AFC and FIFA, cancelled the Manchester United match but later reinstated it following intervention by Prime Minister Abdullah. However, Hammam said there was “room for compromise” and insisted he had never wanted the match axed altogether. “There is room for compromise. We have sought an audience with the prime minister ... We owe it to him to explain our side of the story,” the AFC chief said.

“AFC had never called for the United game on July 27 to be called off. We only want them to reschedule their match,” he added. “This issue is not about AFC against United or Asia versus Europe. All we ask is for the various parties to give us the breathing space to ensure the Asian Cup becomes a resounding success.”

Hammam previously launched a stinging attack on United, calling them “disrespectful” and demanding they scrap their entire tour as it might divert attention from the Asian Cup, the region’s flagship competition. But Abdullah said United’s visit was important for Malaysia as it was in line with a government tourism campaign and celebrations marking 50 years of independence from Britain - AFP.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Telco Scam

A Comment:

Thanks a lot, Jeff. You are exposing a very serious technical problem and a very serious scam running into millions and maybe even billions by the time the problem is fixed. I have on several occasions reported this problem of billing discrepancies to DIGI and TM and have been told by the customer service clerks as billing for earlier calls and sms's. A convenient explanation. I knew it was much more than that. Now that you have reported it, it is serious enough and warrants ACTION by all parties - the telcos and mcmc. I consider this a serious violation of basic human rights and a scandalous swindle of extreme magnitudes if allowed to flourish. I am now daily keeping a record of my DIGI prepaid bills, but there is no way to do so for TM customers, because there is no immediate billing feedback.

Read Jeff Ooi's detailed scam exposition here and in his subsequent articles.

Read here my comments to Jeff.

Does this warrant cabinet action?

The Great Nuclear Hunt

The search is on for weapons of mass destruction ...... but are the hunters on the right track? - An Aljazeera Cartoon.

Friday, May 18, 2007

To Think About

"First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win."
-Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, May 17, 2007

AirAsia going Worldwide

Malaysian long-haul budget carrier pioneer AirAsia is to acquire a total of 15 Airbus A330-300 aircraft, its chief executive Tony Fernandes said sunday.

He said that the company in April signed an order with Airbus, for up to 10 of the aircraft, with an option to buy five more. "By end of June, we will firm the order for an additional five A330-300. Negotiations are going on now," Fernandes said.

The aircrafts are scheduled for delivery from the fourth quarter of 2008. Fernandes also said that the budget carrier would make a decision on whether to buy a further 10 A330-300 aircraft by end of the year.

"Talks with Airbus are yet to commence," he said. The airline will begin its first long-haul flights in September 2007 using three leased planes from the low-cost carrier terminal at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

"Our maiden flights will be to China and Australia in September," Fernandes said. Destinations for AirAsia long-haul will also include Japan, Korea, India, the Middle East and Europe.

The A330-300 announcement cements a growing relationship between AirAsia and the European aircraft manufacturer.

Fernandes, who launched regional budget carrier AirAsia more than five years ago, unveiled its long-haul plans in January. In 2005-2006, the company bought 100 A320s to service its expanding short-haul operations in the region and in January signed contracts to buy 50 more of the aircraft, with an option for another 50.

Fernandes also announced that AirAsia will fly direct flights to Vientiane in Laos from Kuala Lumpur from July. "Our aim is to become an Asian airline. Without a doubt, the resumption of a direct air link after nearly a 10-year hiatus will spur economic benefits," said Fernandes "That is the beauty of a low cost carrier. We can fly to destinations which others don't," he said.

Fernandes said that AirAsia was also hoping to secure a direct link from Kuala Lumpur to Yangon in Myanmar in the next few months.

AirAsia was launched as a budget carrier in December 2001 with just two aircraft.

It now offers more than 100 domestic and international flights throughout Southeast Asia - AFP.

I would like to urge both Malaysia Airports Berhad, the operator of the airport and AirAsia the user of the airport to look with utmost urgency and immediately into the provision of a 24 hour clinic, fully staffed and equipped , at this major hub.

Read here Screenshots report of 2 deaths that have taken place at the LCCT.

It is a shame that this has happened in Malaysia today. Is it 10 million people flying through LCCT yearly? And several hundred employees working at this place. Surely basic medical facilities for this number of people anywhere is a must. Besides attending to the minor ailments of passengers, this facility should also be able to cope with emergencies expected at a major airport on a 24 hour basis.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

To Sir With Love

" Selamat Hari Guru "
All Teachers of Malaysia

Every year Teacher's Day is celebrated in Malaysia on 16th May.
It brings back to me nostalgic memories of School and Teacher's Day celebration in Malaysian schools. It is all the more significant to me because I have been in the school all my life - first as a student, then teacher and finally principal.

The whole day is devoted to the celebration.The day kicks off with a special assembly conducted by the students.The following speeches are read out by the senior assistants and principal - the Minister of Education, the Director General of Education and the Principal. Finally the Head Prefect of the school reads a speech on behalf of the all the students in the school.

The teachers are praised for their noble and caring duty of educating the country's future leaders and citizens. It is a difficult task because it is an all round education of the students both curricular and cocurricular-wise. It involves the minds of students and hence a honourable and delicate task. If you don't reach out to the students, you are doomed.

The prefects then give out a rose stalk to all the teachers, symbolising "thank you and we love you teachers for your dedication to us." A round of football, netball and volleyball between teachers and students follows. After a short break, a variety performance by the students from all the classes is held. Prize-giving for the events held during the day is then held and the students then go back home.

A Teacher's Day lunch is then held in the hall for all teachers and supporting staff of the school.

This is a typical Teacher's Day event in this country with slight modifications and changes to suit individual schools.It is for me a day of great significance and meaning because I was involved in the education of students for almost three decades before my retirement two years ago. It is so wonderful to run into a student, be it Malay, Chinese or Indian, boy or girl who then asks me
" Cikgu, kenalkah saya ?...... "

This year's theme: The teacher is the thrust for the excellence of an individual.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Serbia wins Eurovision

Eurovision Song Contest '07

Folks, Europe's most ambitious and prestigious song contest was held on saturday in Helsinki, the capital of Finland. It was watched by over 100 million TV viewers from throughout the world and about 12,000 spectators at a ice-hockey stadium.

The winner was Marija Serifovic from Serbia, with a ballard, Molitva ( Prayer). She beat contestants from 23 other countries, scoring 268 points from telephone voters in 42 countries.

Ukraine was second and third was Russia.

The photos are below.

It was 23-year-old Marija Serifovic from Serbia who won the contest, scoring 268 points with her ballad, Molitva. (Above)

And Swedish group The Ark failed to do as well as fellow countrymen Abba, who won Eurovision with Waterloo in 1974. (Below)

Scooch "flew the flag" for the UK, in the words of their song, but ended up in joint second-last with just 19 points. (Above). All AFPpics.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Australia's Azlan Cup

Malaysia had to be satisfied with a silver medal finish after going down 1-3 to the mighty Australians in the final of the 16th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium here.

Despite the defeat the Malaysian players can still walk tall, as this is the national squad's best finish in 22 years.

Australia pressed towards the Malaysian side from the start of the match, forcing Malaysia to defend with all 11 men inside the semi-circle.

They got a penalty corner in the 4th minute but Malaysian keeper S. Kumar was quick off the mark to deny the Kookaburras.

Australia continued their attacks and were rewarded with a second penalty corner and this time around, postman Megat Azrafiq Megat Termizi, cleared the ball away.

Australia slowed down a litle after that and shifted their players around but the Malaysian defence held intact for the full 35 minutes before hitting the rest room with the score tied at 0-0.

Lady Luck favoured Australia in the second half and they got the lead in the 40th minute. In a move that resulted from the 25-yard line, Eddie Ockenden beat three defenders and Kumar before tapping the ball in from close range.

Ockenden then stretched the lead to 2-0 when he deflected an outside the "D" shot barely three minutes later.

The Malaysians lost their concentration after conceding the two goals and gave the Aussies the upper hand to strengthen their lead in the 53rd minute through Russell Ford.

Just before fulltime, Malaysia were awarded a penalty corner, which Jiwa Mohan flicked home.

Meanwhile, India took the bronze medal after edging South Korea 1-0 in the 3rd/4th classification match earlier today.

In a tight match that saw both teams marking their men carefully, India had to wait until the match was well into the second half before they could wear down the Koreans.

Sardara Singh broke the deadlock in the 49th minute when he slammed home a loose ball from the top of the "D" - Bernama.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day


Today, 13th May,2007, Mother's Day is celebrated in Malaysia. Mother's Day is a holiday for celebrating motherhood and thanking mothers. In the Malaysia , it is held on the second Sunday in May. Mothers often receive gifts on this day. Tradition calls for the wearing of roses, tulips or carnations on Mother's Day — a red one if one's mother is alive, and white if she has died.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Saturday Forum

Malaysian Bloggers: A Challenge to Opinion Space?

Date: Saturday, 12/5/07
Time: 7:30pm
Venue: Auditorium, Nanyang Siang Pau HQ, Kelana Jaya, Petaling Jaya


1. Tony Pua, Financial Advisor to DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng
2. Jeff Ooi, Malaysian Blogger
3. Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, Special Assistant to Parti KeADILan Advisor, Anwar Ibrahim
4. Soon Li Tsin, Blogger and Malaysiakini Journalist

Moderator: Dr. Ei Sun Oh, Lecturer, Speaker, Columnist & Blogger

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tony Blair's Resignation

Tony Blair announced his resignation yesterday and revealed his final day as prime minister will be 27 June, saying it has been an "honour" to lead the "greatest nation on earth".

Read below Tony Blair's long goodbye by Nick Robinson of the BBC.

It's been a long, long goodbye. And it ain't over yet.
It is now a staggering 952 days since a weakened Tony Blair first declared that he would not seek to go "on and on and on" and promised he'd leave office before fighting a fourth election. You may, by now, be thoroughly sick of the wait.
However, I have no doubt that he'll be missed. I mean that not as praise, but simply as a prediction.
For a decade he's been more than just another politician. In an era obsessed with celebrity he's been near the top of the "A list". He has been one of the few enduring characters in our national soap opera.
When he led the tributes to Princess Diana, millions mourned with him.
When he expressed outrage on 9/11, millions felt he'd spoken not just for Britain but for the world.
When he joined Geldof to rock for Africa again, millions joined their campaign.
When on 7/7 he celebrated the Olympics coming to London and hours later stood defiant in the face of terrorism, millions were on the emotional rollercoaster with him.
Millions, of course, have also come to feel betrayed by him - whether over spin or sleaze or the Dome or, of course, Iraq. The disappointment they feel a mirror of the hope they once felt.
When it comes to politics the answer is certainly yes. First, he changed the Labour Party. Next, the Great Persuader convinced the British public that they could trust his party again. Finally, his enduring electoral success forced the Tories to embrace the consensus he had helped to forge. The prime minister takes such pride in this that one Downing Street aide says that his legacy can be summed up in two words - "David Cameron".
What about his oft-repeated soundbite about delivering "economic efficiency together with social justice"? Britain is certainly a richer country. What's more, the government has spent billions in an effort to help the poorest. Alongside the introduction of the minimum wage came tax credits and a massive expansion in child care. Child poverty was cut but less quickly than hoped. Inequality stayed stubbornly unchanged.
Britain's public services also benefited from huge government investment. It is visible in new buildings, more and better paid staff. However, the prime minister himself says that he was too slow to introduce reforms and anger at bureaucracy and inefficiency has lost him the support of the very staff he recruited and rewarded.
Britain has become institutionally more "liberal" with new legal rights not just for gay people. But society has become less at ease with itself as a result of mass immigration and the threat of home-grown terrorism.
It is ironic that Tony Blair has been most equivocal about the change that has, perhaps, been most dramatic - that to Britain's constitution. He's never enthused about the creation of the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh assembly or the Mayor of London nor about the proportional voting systems which they use. He's often seemed unhappy with the consequences of the Human Rights Act and Freedom of Information Act.
Prime ministers frustrated by progress at home are often inspired to pursue frenetic diplomacy. None more so than Tony Blair.
The unique personal skills he developed in wooing, cajoling and reconciling the warring parties in Northern Ireland were deployed to some effect in the cause of Africa and tackling climate change.
Yet the man who pledged to reconcile Britain to its place at the heart of Europe never dared to try convincing us to abandon the pound and to adopt the euro.
It was the use of military force which provided him with the most dramatic results. British forces helped deliver democracy in Sierra Leone and the fall of a dictator in Serbia. Tony Blair hoped and believed that the invasion of Iraq would do both those things. What's more he believed it would warn off other regimes from developing weapons of mass destruction. He was tragically wrong. His decision to side with an American president who was not just derided but hated by many voters cost Tony Blair dear. The cost to Iraq is still being counted.
Ever since trust in him and his authority have drained away. Discussion about when he would leave office has turned into a soap opera all of its own.
Throughout that time he's waited to escape the shadow of Iraq. He will know today that he hasn't escaped and may never do so. But he will also know that he's on course to leave Downing Street after a decade in office without being forced out, and with a smile on his face - a feat which no other modern prime minister has matched.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Prisoner Swap?

The BBC has again voiced concern for the safety of its Gaza reporter, Alan Johnston after the
release of a tape purportly made by his kidnappers. Read here.

The tape contains a demand for the release of Muslim prisoners in British jails, especially the release of Abu Qatada, a palestian born Islamic cleric currently held by UK government as a threat to national security.

BBC's Deputy Director General, Mark Byford renewed calls for Mr. Johnston to be released unharmed. He said BBC welcomed any sign that Alan may be alive and well and would be released soon.

My comments of an earlier story on this subject is here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Charity Tulip Sale

Tulips especially flown in by KLM for sale at concourse level, Sungei Wang Plaza at 10.00 am, this Saturday, May 12th.

The charity sale is held in conjunction with Mother's Day which falls on Sunday, 13th May, 2007.

The proceeds from the sale will go towards purchase of urgently needed medical equipment for the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Hospital Selayang.

Be there and do your bit for Charity!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

My Comments

My comments for the formation of All Blogs:

1. Agreed, what we are seeking to do is to make a great nation greater. We have to make known this fact from the very start. It is not about a developing nation anymore. We are on the correct trajectory to arrive at Developed Nation by 2020. Hopefully we stay on course and make the necessary minor adjustments to fall on target by 2020. That minor adjustments is we what we as bloggers seek to input. And this should be our MISSION STATEMENT. (Screenshots)

2. You are right, bro.We are not anti or pro any Government. We are anti issues that are wrong and pro issues that are right. It is not a question of might is right but what is right. We have the God sent ability to vocalise on issues which no paid MP would vocalise in the Parliament. So it is our duty to put it right and so put our country on the correct path to a developed nation status.( Rocky's Bru)

3. I may not be a blogger these days but I certainly support Bloggers United in their fine efforts to seek Justice for the Rakyat. I told Rocky and Jeff that we want our great nation, greater and we are not against any Government, Party or Person BUT only against issues that are wrong on principle to the Rakyat / Joe Public.
We are no longer a developing nation but heading towards developed nation status by 2020 and in the process be very right on principles.
I have left the writing to the professionals in the field and it is for you to bring out the real issues and stories that have to be told.
As a reader of your articles I will comment so that your fine efforts in our mission is not in vain.
These are hard facts and we have to make hard choices in the interest of the Rakyat and the country. ( Susan Loone)

My comments on Bribery and Corruption:

1. I say Stephen, I cannot agree more with you. It is not just in MPAJ. It is everywhere. From district, to state , to federal government. It is no use blaming the politicians because many are themselves like that. It is part ignorance and part total disregard of law and their duties. A reader of Malaysiakini wrote in as follows:

".....there is a difference between ‘bribe’ and ‘commission’. The crime is not in paying inflated prices but in the corrupt practice of government officials colluding with the private company to cheat taxpayers for personal gain. Government officials act as trustees of public funds for the benefit of the public and not for personal gain. By the way, if in doubt as to what is a crime or not a crime, then test it in court."

I am myself really puzzled as to what the solution is. Certainly re-educating the entire public service is a way. I don't think changing governments is going to make all that difference. Any ideas as to how to solve the problem - let's say if you were to be the next prime minister. Hahaha...

Seriously, thinking about it, it is all about getting bloggers to blog about. (ShanghaiStephen)

My comments on the Ijok By-Election:

1. This election is not only a straight fight between Parthiban and Khalid, but also a test of strength for Anwar and PKR. Just fancy that! It could be the most hotly contested seat in Malaysian history. Let the people of Ijok decide - knowing the issues or not! But will the better man or party win? It is often the most popular man or party that wins. (Rocky's Bru)

2. That is the state of politics and elections here. You would think that every elector wishes for the Adun to die or resign immediately for attention and more goodies in their constituencies. I think a time has come for all this to stop and give some respect to the electors.(ShanghaiStephen)

3. Bluffing oneself to Bluff others is the greatest injustice politicians do to themselves, their electorate and their country. And it is also one of the greatest fallacies of a democratic system of government. That is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. When the mass media is government controlled, we have a virtual dictatorship. Suppression of information is subtle bluffing and serves the same purpose. We become fully developed when we reach the stage of America, or England or Australia with two or three equally strong parties who can take on and run their countries. Just as in business, there should be no MONOPOLY in politics. For the sake of the country! (Screenshots)

4. I think Parthiban is the sort of guy who will stick to his promises. Having stayed in that area, and knowing the people's problems, he is the best person to deliver it now. I am sure he will be the trend setter for other M.P.s and ADUNs in the country.(3540 Jalan Sudin)

5. The ballot has spoken and so has YB Parthiban. It is now time for him to start delivering all his promises. We will watch what he does! (Galadriel)

Monday, May 7, 2007

France Decides

Nicolas Sarkozy has won France's presidential election, beating his rival Segolene Royal by a comfortable 6% margin, television projections said.

Voter turnout in Sunday's election runoff was predicted at about 85 per cent. Forecasts by four pollsters showed Sarkozy, 52, a former interior minister, getting around 53 per cent of the vote in the second-round ballot.

He will succeed fellow conservative Jacques Chirac, who was president for 12 years.

Sarkozy's face flashed up on television screens after polling stations closed at 8pm (1800 GMT), signalling his victory and setting off jubilant scenes among supporters gathered in central Paris.

Across the city at Socialist headquarters there was gloom and sorrow after the party crashed to its third consecutive presidential election defeat. It now faces the prospect of tough internal reform to make itself more appealing to voters.

In a speech at the UMP headquarters, Sarkozy said: "To all those French who did not vote for me, I want to say, beyond political battles, beyond differences of opinion, for me there is only one France. I want to tell them that I will be president of all the French."

"I want to launch a call to our European partners, with whom our destiny is deeply linked, to tell them that I have been European all my life, that I believe deeply, that I believe sincerely, in European construction and that tonight France is back in Europe. I beseech our European partners to hear the voices of people who want to be protected.

"I want to tell them [United States] that France will always be by their side when they will need her. But I want to tell them as well that friendship is accepting that one's friends can act differently, and that a great nation like the United States has the duty to not obstruct the fight against global warming but on the contrary to head this struggle because what is at stake is the future of all humanity. France will make this struggle its first struggle."

Talking before her supporters, Royal, who conceded defeat, said: "I hope the next president of the republic fulfills his role in the service of all French people...I will continue with you and near you...You can count on me to deepen the renovation of the left...that is the condition of our future victories." - Agencies.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

A Cartoon

A Star Cartoon

Saturday, May 5, 2007


Malaysians Use Four Times More Water

from Bernama

An individual's basic biological need for water is between 20 and 100 litres a day but Malaysians are using as much as four times the average quantity needed, according to a consultant. Dr. K. Kalithasan of the Global Environment Centre (GEC) said Malaysians were using between 184 and 500 litres daily.

Much of the water is wasted for "businesses" in the toilet and bathroom, he told reporters after presenting a talk at a workshop on water conservation for 70 students, here. Kalithasan said the daily water usage per Malaysian was about 184 litres but in bigger towns and cities the usage could reach as high as 300 to 500 litres.

The two-year national water conservation campaign, which started in July last year, is jointly organised by the Energy, Water and Communications Ministry, the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) and GEC.

On the role of the public in river conservation efforts, Kalithasan said the government should transfer the responsiblity and let the general public hold ownership of such projects if it is serious about the efforts yielding positive results in the long run.

"When the community doesn't hold the ownership, it doesn't feel the need to be responsible for the rivers. Ideally, such projects should be focused on the grassroots level where the community is provided with some resources to launch their campaigns," he said.

Yes, we come to water again. It is the most precious of all commodities on earth and yet the most little regarded by people. We have taken for granted this god given commodity because of its abundance in nature from rain, seas and oceans, rivers and lakes. Once it becomes a little more scarce as in a drought, we feel the pinch and the punch. Man cannot live without water! We go to the extent of prayers, cloud seeding, cut supplies and will even die without it! So lets conserve water. Treat it more valuable than gold.

Friday, May 4, 2007

World Press Freedom Day

World Press Freedom Day was celebrated yesterday, 3rd May. The theme for this year's celebration is " Press Freedom, Safety of Journalists and Impunity".

It was organised by Asian Institute for Development Communication in collaboration with Malaysian Press Institute and the National Press Club and held at Dewan Murni, Menara Integrity in Kuala Lumpur. It was sponsored by the United Nations.

The welcome address was by YBhg Tan Sri Dato Haji Mazlan Nordin, Chairman of AIDCOM. The keynote speaker was Mr. Lee Sang Kee, President of the Asia Journalists Association, Korea, who spoke on the fears and the security concerns of the journalists in their line of duty.

A presentation by students on the theme topics of Press Freedom, Safety of Journalists and Impunity followed.

An interesting forum was held after that. The BARISAN MP for Melaka, YB Wong Nai Chee, spoke of the rise in the press freedom index for Malaysia from 113 in 2005 to 92 in 2006 from among 168 countries in the world. We are doing better in Press Freedom he declared. Press freedom does not seem to be in the fore front of the government's priorities. Media control is under the Ministry of Internal Security. Greater press freedom will only come through better levels of education and greater awareness campaigns. He also does not advocate absolute press freedom.

The PAS MP for Tumpat,YB Kamaruddin Jaafar, spoke of the missing journalist Alan Johnston of the BBC in the Gaza Strip and the prominence given by BBC to Anwar Ibrahim in its coverage recently. He also spoke of the dignity and professionalism of journalists to bring about a free press.

The DAP MP for Kepong, YB Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, spoke of the Government's control of the Media and Judiciary. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely he said. He proposes a parliamentary select committee on press freedom in the country - Rajahram.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Wesak Day

Devotees praying to Lord Buddha with lotus candles during Wesak Day at Ipoh's Wat Siribunyamagaram in Jalan Tambun, Starpic.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Maxis Private

Proposal to take Maxis private

By B.K. Sidhu, The Star

T. Ananda Krishnan, the biggest shareholder in Maxis Communications Bhd, surprised the market with a proposed plan to take Malaysia’s leading cellular company private. This comes just over four years after its listing in 2002 and, by just looking at its price prior to suspension of RM13 yesterday, the stock must surely offer a decent premium to its retail initial public offer price of RM4.36.

Market sources are speculating that Ananda, who is expected to launch a voluntary general offer (VGO) for the remaining shares in Maxis, may offer a premium of between 10% and 20% over yesterday’s closing price for the remaining 53.3% stake in Maxis.

Ananda directly and indirectly and/or via Usaha Tegas Sdn Bhd owns 47.05% stake in Maxis. At RM13 a share, it could cost him/Usaha Tegas a whopping RM17.47bil but, if the offer price were 10% to 20% higher than yesterday’s closing price, the stakes would be higher. This would be the country’s biggest privatisation in recent times. A final takeover proposal is expected to be announced before the week is out.

“Yes, we are shocked with the takeover plan but it does make a lot of sense to take it private, given that the current major shareholders see huge value in Maxis that the market does not. Maxis’ India unit, Aircel Inc, for one is a brilliant asset and the market is not valuing it,” an analyst said.

“Taking Maxis private also allows the major shareholders to restructure it without having to deal with the minority shareholders. That gives them the flexibility of doing what they need to do with the group and some private equity investors may emerge to nurture the companies within Maxis.

“At some point, we will not be surprised if Maxis makes its way back to the Malaysian bourse but it is expected to also have a dual listing somewhere on an international bourse and its units will also be listed separately,” he added.

Maxis is raring to become a regional communications leader and has stakes in Indonesia’s PT Natrindo Telepon Selular and Aircel. It may also get a slice of Sri Lanka Telecoms.

Maxis’ statement added that the stock would remain suspended through May 3. At the same time, its board would study the implications of the potential takeover but the offer is not expected to affect the day-to-day running of the company.

Taking companies private is becoming a trend although most companies that are taken private usually trade below their book value. The potential takeover aside, there is also talk that Ananda may even take Astro All Asia Networks plc and Tanjong plc private, something analysts have discounted.

Shares in Astro jumped 6.3% to RM5.10 but Tanjong fell 1.2% to RM17 yesterday.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Panic in Colombo

Panic as Colombo faces air attack

The Sri Lankan capital was enveloped in "total panic" early yesterday as Tamil Tiger air attacks and unexpected early fireworks forced World Cup cricket fans to flee their parties for safety.

Fans dressed in Sri Lankan team T-shirts and carrying the national flag had earlier braved the rain to gather in their hundreds at playgrounds, clubs, hotels and bars showing live coverage of the match on giant screens.

However, the loud music, singing and dancing came to an abrupt end after the city was plunged into darkness as anti-aircraft batteries opened fire on Tamil Tiger aircraft that entered the city's airspace and carried out two bombings.

"It was total panic. We initially thought it was fireworks," said Zaithoon bin Ahamed, who was partying with friends at a Colombo rugby club. People scrambled to leave venues as troops manning key positions in the capital lit up the night sky with a massive barrage of anti-aircraft fire that shook homes and caused panic.

Event organisers at open-air venues shut down their giant screens, fearing the illumination would attract the attention of the intruding aircraft.

"Rumours were going around that a plane was shot down and the port was bombed. The phone lines were jammed," said Chamath Ariyadasa.

Authorities had earlier responded to reports of approaching rebel planes by switching off the electricity supply to the capital as millions of Sri Lankans watched their side play Australia in the cricket World Cup final.

While millions of fans were left in darkness, the national side crashed to an embarrassing defeat to three-times world champions Australia - AFP.