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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Penang bridge tragedy raises many questions

Penang Bridge Rescue Mission Resumes Today. Here's All You Need ...

GEORGE TOWN: The tragic crash on Penang Bridge, which saw a student killed after his car plunged into the sea, has raised a thousand questions.

Online commenters questioned the height of the railings, whether there should be a curfew for those aged above 18 as well as the need for responsible drinking.

Facebook user Asger Abdul Wahab questioned the height of the railing, on which people had stood to jump and commit suicide in the past.

“If the side railings weren’t low, at least the vehicle could have landed on the side of the bridge instead of going over the bridge,” he said.

For Sanush Jeyaratnam, the tragedy highlighted the need for a curfew, as suggested by the government, for those aged 18 and below.

One comment stated that those aged 21 and below should not be out after midnight without adult supervision.

Another Facebook user said the accident did not mean that alchohol consumption should be stopped as it was all about responsible drinking.

Junior Chamber International (JCI) George Town charter president Kyara Ng said the disaster sparked a discussion among their group members, who are aged between 21 and 26.

“I think there is a great need to continue to create more awareness about accidents linked to driving under the influence,” she said.

Defensive driving trainer K.G. Nah noted that when the driver in the black car on Penang Bridge overtook from the left, he went into an “oversteer situation” and all of the car’s weight was transferred to the front tyres.

“In an oversteer, even a trained race car driver will have trouble controlling the vehicle at high speeds,” he said.

He explained that when the rear tyres no longer hold the weight of the car, they lose traction and can no longer follow the lead of the front tyres, causing the car to skid out of control.

Another term for cars in this situation is “tail happy”.

Nah, who received a copy of the dashboard camera footage of the crash, said he watched it frame by frame but could not see the brake lights come on behind the black car until it crashed into the sports utility vehicle (SUV).

“For the car to go into an oversteer without evident braking, it was going at an incredibly high speed,” he added.

As for the SUV, Nah said it was tragic that it was hit in the rear left passenger door.

“Any car slammed in the rear flank will spin out of control and at that speed, the car flipped with enough force to roll over the bridge parapet and fall into the sea,” he added.


SUV hoisted out of sea off Penang Bridge | Free Malaysia Today


Penang bridge crash: SUV wreckage found with body of 20-year-old ...


Penang bridge crash: Wreckage found in sea with body of 20-year-old ...

 Wreckage found with body inside

Monday, January 21, 2019

Truth be told: It’s not wrong to tell the truth

Two things could make the controversial Sedition Act fairer: It’s OK if you tell the truth, and it’s OK if you want to stop injustice.


A COUPLE of weeks ago, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad talked about the Sedition Act. He calmly explained to all Malaysians that it isn’t meant to avoid criticisms about wrongdoing, it isn’t meant to shackle whistleblowers, and it’s completely not sedition if you tell the truth.

“If you say something factual, you cannot be punished for it,” said Dr Mahathir, “But, on the other hand, if we shut the mouths of everyone, to the point that people cannot even speak up against acts of crime, then there will be injustice in the country.” (“Be clear on what insult means”, Nation, The Star, Jan 11; online at

Basically, it sounded like he could have been talking about anything – except the Sedition Act. Now, the Sedition Act is not unfamiliar to Pakatan Harapan. In its own manifesto, PH said that it would revoke the Sedition Act if it came to power, giving the reason that it is a law “inherited from the British colonial era without amendment to improve weaknesses”. And then after PH formed the government, it seemed to kind of casually forget this.

I have written about the Sedition Act before (“Lost in translation?”, Contradictheory, Star2, March 29, 2015; online at If you’re not reading this column online, here’s a summary of what I said then: I pointed out the problem that you can be guilty of sedition even if all you are doing is repeating what somebody else has said. And to top it off, it doesn’t matter if what you said was true, nor does it matter if you said it with the best of intentions. It’s like saying somebody’s dress is figure-hugging, and hearing them answer, “Are you saying I’m fat?”

It’s all there in the Act. The Act talks about whether “things” have a “seditious tendency”. These include actions, speech, words and publications, for example, and whether they influence people to feel hatred, contempt or disaffection for the Rulers or the government. Whether the “things” are true or not doesn’t matter.

The Act also says, “The intention of the person charged at the time ... shall be deemed to be irrelevant”.

Why is it interpreted like that? It’s hard to say, but I think it does make it easier for the authorities to manage anti-government sentiments.

For example, it’s possible to be selective with the truth to manipulate a situation. So, technically, what somebody said might be fact, but might also be misleading.

Secondly, intent is something that can be very difficult to establish. You have to get into the mind of the accused and tease out what he or she intended by what he or she said or wrote.

For example, if all you wrote on a Facebook page is that somebody should be investigated for doing a Very Bad Thing, then you have sown the seeds of doubt in the minds of the audience. You might argue, I didn’t know it wasn’t true, I just wanted to see justice being done. What, people got upset by what I wrote? I didn’t know that would happen.

This is precisely the sort of annoying thing I have to face on social media almost every day. Somebody re-posts or retweets a rumour en masse to others with two button clicks and when you ask them why didn’t they just check it first, they shrug and say, “I just wanted people to know – just in case”.

(That’s really what we should have a law against: Indiscriminate and irresponsible retweets. The penalty would be to copy pages of Wikipedia by hand for the local library.)

But the thing is, it should be hard to put somebody in jail.

The system of justice we have now focuses on the presumption of innocence. In other words, people have to gather evidence and prove to the court that you are guilty. And people should be entitled to the best possible defence, and saying I am normally a good person who does good things should be taken into account.

Intent matters. The difference between murder and manslaughter is intent. Intent is the bedrock of whether we are kind to others because we want everyone to thrive, or because we want to later take advantage of them.

If we want to be able to prosecute people for saying hateful things that disturb society, you must show intent. Either make clear the context or show a pattern of previous behaviour. It’s the difference between an Internet troll and Karpal Singh.

The Sedition Act, in a way, does try to at least cover situations where you are trying to right a perceived wrong in society. But in a case like when artist Zunar (Zulkiflee Anwar Haque) drew cartoons making fun of alleged crimes in the previous government, it is clear there is still much leeway for interpretation there.

The facts do matter. In this world where politicians more than anyone seem to believe they can skate by on allegations, people who say horrible things should be forced to stand by their words and prove them. It’s an opportunity for the truth to shine instead of hiding out.

There are many who blame the PH government for being hypocritical for not keeping its election promise and maintaining the Sedition Act. I don’t disagree.

But the fact is that Dr Mahathir touched on the two things that perhaps could potentially make the Act fairer. He said it is OK if we told the truth. And it is OK if we want to stop injustice.

And I can’t think of why any Malaysian wouldn’t want to do both.

The facts do matter. In this world where politicians more than anyone seem to believe they can skate by on allegations, people who say horrible things should be forced to stand by their words and prove them.

Logic is the antithesis of emotion but mathematician-turned-scriptwriter Dzof Azmi’s theory is that people need both to make sense of life’s vagaries and contradictions. Write to Dzof at


Contradictheory: The Truth About History Depends On Context

Sunday, January 20, 2019

A whole new world - China luring talents from Malaysia & Singapore with lucrative salary

THE pull of the Chinese entertainment market is so great at the moment, actors from all over – including Malaysia and Singapore – are being drawn there.

There is a lot of money being spent in China, which broadly translates to more working opportunities as well as the potential for higher salaries.

According to London-based analyst IHS Markit, it is the world’s second biggest television market after the United States, as the country spent more than US$10.9bil (RM45bil) on TV programming in 2017.

China is also set to be the world’s largest film market by 2020, with its domestic theatrical revenue estimated to reach more than US$10bil (RM41bil) by then, according to reports.

Malaysia-born actress Tong Bingyu, 35, revealed that her pay for working on a single television drama series in China was the equivalent of a year’s salary in Singapore.

The former Mediacorp star, who used to go by the name Chris Tong and who had quit the Singapore company early last year, had previously claimed that was how much she was paid for her appearance on the upcoming Chinese TV period drama series One Boat One World.

She sounds hesitant when pressed, however. In a telephone interview recently, the 35-yearold says in Mandarin: “It’s true that it is possible to get a lot more money in China. The market there is huge and if you get picked for big projects, you can be well compensated.

“But I don’t want people to get the wrong idea that it’s easy money. Just because you pack up and move to China doesn’t mean you will be rich. It also depends a lot on luck and whom you know.”

Her stroke of luck came four years ago when she met a Chinese producer from popular TV channel Hunan Television through a good friend.

That producer eventually helped set her up for acting gigs in China.

Besides One Boat One World, Tong also snagged a role in the wuxia drama The Heaven Sword And Dragon Saber, which is based on Louis Cha’s novel of the same name.

Tong says of the producer: “She gave me so much solid advice. She pointed out very frankly that I’m not that young anymore and that I should diversify.”

Which is why Tong decided to try her hand at producing as well.

Currently, she is busy working as a producer on the Chinese action spy movie Zhi Sheng Si Yu Du Wai (Beyond Life And Death), which boasts a budget of 300mil yuan (RM182mil).

She was roped in after she met famed Hong Kong producer Manfred Wong, who is also behind the film.

Tong, who is managed by her Malaysian husband Kee Kai Loon, 40, says: “It’s stressful because I’m so new to this job, but it has also been very exciting. I’m suddenly asking questions like, ‘How much does this cost? What will it look like?’

“When I was at Mediacorp, I was such a passive person - I just went to work to act.”

The film, which she describes as an explosive actioner in the vein of China’s hit war films Operation Red Sea (2018) and Wolf Warrior (2015), is slated for release later this year.

Coming up, she will also produce a Chinese Web series, for which she declines to reveal the details.

When she was in Singapore, the actress played the lead in Mandarin TV series such as family drama Mightiest Mother-In-Law (2017) and nursing drama The Caregivers (2014).

“I will unlikely get the same star status as an actress in China and that’s OK. The reality is there are so many younger and more beautiful actresses who have been working in China for much longer than I have,” says Tong, who has been based out of Beijing for the past two years.

“I just take every day there as an opportunity to learn new things. Besides, now that I’m doing the producing thing, I realise that I’m loving it. If all goes well, I might be a producer full-time in the future.”

 – By Yip Wai Yee, The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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