Thursday, March 12, 2009

Why the talking just will not stop....

Once in 2005 to 2006, since I was in charge of telecommunication, one of my roles was to procure mobile phones (or handsets in Malaysia, cellphones in the USA) for senior managers. It was fun to know the tastes of different bosses.
I never like mobile phone. I use company mobiles and even while in-charge of procurement, I do not use the latest and expensive ones...just the simple and basic model to call and SMS. Until now, my mobile is outdated model...and my wife bought a new one for me...I hardly use my mobile. I receive less calls than my tea boy whose mobile keeps ringing....some people love to talk and show-off their latest toys....they have fun!

Why the talking just will not stop

Men talk on mobile phones near Al Wahda Mall in Abu Dhabi. Ryan Carter / The National

ABU DHABI // Stroll through any shopping mall in the capital and the cacophony of ring tones will dispel any doubt that the UAE has the highest number of mobile phone lines per capita in the world.

Pockets bulge with handsets even while callers press phones to their ears.

The UAE is awash with mobile phone lines, according to a new confidential report published exclusively today in The National.

There are almost twice as many mobile phone lines as there are people in the nation, a testament to UAE consumers’ extraordinary passion for the technology.

The new figures from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) relate to buying trends for December, the most recent period available, and show there were 191 active mobile telephone lines per 100 people in the UAE.

This is an increase from 186 lines per 100 people in October, according to TRA figures released last month, and puts the UAE at the top of the list, beating even the bustling business hubs of Hong Kong and Singapore.

But why the fascination with mobile communications in the UAE?

Retailers in Abu Dhabi’s thriving mobile phone heartland of Defence Road reported that shoppers regularly spent tens of thousands of dirhams for catchy numbers; one said he knew of a customer who shelled out Dh40,000 (US$10,890) on a number.

This price tag is far lower than the most expensive mobile number ever sold – 6666666 – which was bought from the Qatar Telecom (Qtel) network by an anonymous buyer in May 2006 for Dh10 million, but it demonstrates the phenomenal interest that UAE consumers have in the gadgets.

“It is cheap to get a new number and it impresses people if you are seen having many phones,” said Iman al Shukair, 37, owner of Paris Phone.

“It is a sign of being rich and it also has a practical side; you can divide up your work life and business life.”

The UAE’s original mobile phone provider, Emirates Telecommunications Corporation, or Etisalat, monopolised the market until its rival du launched operations in Feb 2007.

Two years later the companies are locked in a battle for market share with both sides launching discounts and special deals in a bid to woo potential customers.

Du has been more aggressive in its pricing structure, introducing per-second billing and permanent discounts to selected numbers.

Etisalat reports that it has a customer base of more than seven million people and aims to secure its position by offering additional services, such as the launch last month of the Apple iPhone, while du hopes consumers will become more price-sensitive amid the economic slowdown, and choose its discount-focused offers.

“It is very easy to get a phone number here and there are good deals if you use different networks for different calls,” said Mr al Shukair.

“Du is very cheap for international calls and they charge you per second, rather than per minute like Etisalat, but Etisalat has a much more reliable network, so people buy both.

“Now people want even more phone numbers so they can give close business contacts one number and more distant contacts a different number.

“This way they can switch off the busy business phone but still get important calls from people who have their private business number.”

Faisal Mohammed, 22, who works as a retail assistant at the Hello Future mobile store, said, “Everyone has many phones these days.

“I have four mobile numbers. I use two Etisalat and two Du numbers. I use one for my girlfriend, one for family, one for work and one I keep in case I need to transfer credit to another phone.

“I use the du phone most of the time because it is cheaper but on Friday afternoons the network is always so busy, you can’t get through, so then I use Etisalat.

“It is even worse during Eid. Everybody is on the phone at the same time.”

Amin Ghanem, 21, a salesman at the 007 store in Abu Dhabi, said many UAE parents bought phones for their children.

“It’s fine when the children are young but as they grow up they want more independence.

“They don’t necessarily want their parents to get their telephone bill and see who they are calling.

“So they get a new number and a new phone that they pay for, which they can keep secret.”

Having multiple phones is also seen as a fashion accessory among teenagers, said Hanna Azzam, 37, who owns three branches of Capital Phones in Abu Dhabi.

“It’s a way of impressing friends, and for boys, it is a way of impressing girls. They want to have many phones so they can look cool.

“They change their handsets every few months so they are always up to date and spend thousands of dirhams on telephone numbers.

“I sold a number about a year ago for Dh25,000. He [the buyer] was only about 17. His family paid for it.

“As long as people are prepared to pay, I will sell them.”

An IT supervisor, Hamed al Bloushi, 33, used to carry three phones, until he bought a special Samsung handset which holds two SIM cards.

The father of six, who lives in Abu Dhabi, used one for work, one for family and a du line to take advantage of the cheap call rates.

“I was tired of carrying around all the phones but didn’t want to have to give up using the different lines,” he said.

Steven Hartley, a senior analyst with the telecoms consultancy, Ovum, said the record level of phone number ownership in the UAE was a natural consequence of the high GDP per capita of the population and the large business community.

“You have a large proportion of the population with a high income who spend a significant amount of time on the move, so their communications must be mobile.

“People use a USB modem to connect their laptop to the internet, have a BlackBerry in one pocket and a mobile phone in the other. That’s three telephone lines already.

“Add to that people who use one phone for work and another for their personal calls and separate SIMs for international calls and it all quickly adds up.

“There is also a status symbol factor here. People use several mobile phones and several lines as a means to impress business colleagues.”

He believed the number of mobile phone lines being used in the UAE was likely to increase in future despite the global slowdown.

“In the past the industry has tried rolling out phones which use multiple SIM cards but they have failed to really take off. I can

imagine that if the trend of people using more than one SIM card continues, phone manufacturers will try again,” added Mr Hartley.

But for young men such as Ali Ghana, 20, from Syria, who carries four phones, multi-SIM handsets hold little attraction.

“It impresses girls. Carrying around many mobiles is not easy, but that is what pockets were made for.”

Lelaki Malaysia Kemaruk Ubat KUATTTT!

Kemaruk ubat kuat

Oleh Nurul Adlina Kamaludin

Lelaki Malaysia tidak sedar bahana ubat kuat

"GAGAH, besar dan perkasa. Sekali kena, mesti nak lagi." Ini bukanlah iklan bangunan mercu tanda, projek bernilai berjuta-juta ringgit atau makanan kesihatan sebaliknya kata-kata tarikan iklan ubat atau produk perangsang tenaga batin bagi lelaki.

Ubat yang sebaliknya menjerat dan mengundang padah lebih besar - semakin ramai lelaki negara ini kemaruk ubat kuat, seperti diakui pakar perubatan.

Katakan saja di mana, baik di kaki lima, di muka pintu, di corong radio, televisyen, warung kopi di kampung, pasar gelap serta di internet, semuanya sudah mampu dibolosi iklan produk seperti pil, kapsul, minuman didakwa mengandungi Tongkat Ali, serbuk, minyak sapu dan krim. Iklan dari mulut ke mulut pula lazimnya membabitkan rawatan tradisional seperti urut, susuk dan memasukkan bebola besi pada kulit zakar itu atas alasan menjadikannya kuat.

Ketika kita tersenyum lebar mendengar iklan kopi yang namanya menggambarkan kejantanan, tidak ramai yang menyedari padah akibat 'penaklukan' ubat kuat yang berlambak di pasaran ini. Padah yang menunjukkan semakin ramai lelaki termasuk intelektual serta yang masih bergelar penuntut universiti sanggup berbelanja bagi memastikan kekuatan tenaga batin biarpun ada produk yang berisiko menjejaskan kesihatan, termasuk menyebabkan mereka mengalami mati pucuk atau Disfungsi Erektil (ED).

Data Kementerian Kesihatan menunjukkan rakyat negara ini membelanjakan kira-kira RM27 juta untuk membeli ubat perangsang seks seperti Viagra dalam tempoh Mac 2007 hingga Mac 2008.

SEBAHAGIAN produk atau ubat kuat yang dirampas pihak berkuasa. Kawasan kaki lima turut jadi tumpuan peniaga produk ini.

Malah, ini menjadi antara faktor semakin banyak syarikat pengeluar makanan dan minuman berlumba-lumba menghasilkan produk didakwa mengandungi herba penguat tenaga batin itu selain kebanjiran produk dari India, Indonesia dan China termasuk yang diharamkan.

Namun, sejurus diharamkan, sepantas kilat ia dengan mudahnya dijual di pasaran gelap menerusi ejen atau 'kaki' yang tanpa segan silu mengiklankannya menerusi internet. Pengaruh ubat kuat ini bukan lagi soal tepuk dada tanya selera, tetapi sebegitu mudah diperoleh menerusi sentuhan di hujung jari mendail nombor telefon terpampang di kaki lima hinggalah di internet.

Selamat atau tidak produk itu, haram atau halal, mahal atau murah serta sakit atau tidak kaedahnya bukan lagi keutamaan lelaki ini yang mengutamakan nafsu daripada segala-galanya.

Persoalannya, mengapakah lelaki tempatan sebegitu kemaruk dengan produk ini? Pakar Perubatan Sakit Tuan, Dr Ismail Tambi, mengakui sikap kemaruk itu bukan saja dihidapi mereka sudah berusia yang lebih sinonim dengan masalah mati pucuk, sebaliknya lebih membimbangkan apabila ia turut membabitkan lelaki muda, termasuk remaja.

"Semakin ramai lelaki sebegitu kemaruk dengan apa saja produk penguat tenaga batin. Inilah hakikat berdasarkan pengalaman saya sejak bertahun-tahun lamanya mengendalikan kes ini yang bukannya semakin berkurangan tetapi meningkat.

"Mereka ini sanggup berbuat apa saja demi kepuasan diri. Hubungan kelamin bukan lagi rahsia suami isteri, sebaliknya menjadi lambang kebanggaan kekuatan atau kuasa si lelaki. Ini diburukkan lagi dengan kegiatan seks rambang pasangan belum berkahwin dan turut berlumba-lumba mendapatkan produk ini," katanya ketika ditemui, baru-baru ini.

Apa menyedihkan, kata Dr Ismail, beliau merawat pesakit yang pada akhirnya berdepan masalah mati pucuk akibat tindakan mengambil produk ubat kuat ini.

"Produk ini pula ada yang bukannya buatan tempatan, sebaliknya dibawa masuk dari negara jiran. Produk diharamkan di Indonesia, China dan India ini turut mendapat sambutan hangat di pasaran tempatan. Malah, saya sendiri terpaksa membuat laporan polis apabila ada pihak tidak bertanggungjawab menggunakan nama saya untuk mengiktiraf produk tertentu."

Dr Ismail berkata, beliau tidak segan mendedahkan masalah ini kerana menyedari tanggungjawabnya menyampaikan bahaya akibat pengambilan ubat kuat ini.

"Mereka mengambilnya tanpa mengira risiko kesihatan. Saya yakin tidak ramai menyedari bahana pengambilan produk ini. Anak muda yang mengambilnya boleh berdepan risiko mati pucuk walaupun pada usia 20-an. Malah ada satu kes itu, mangsa mengalami ereksi selama dua hari dan selepas itu alat sulitnya tidak berfungsi langsung. Bayangkan apa akan jadi pada generasi kita yang berdepan masalah seperti kesukaran mendapat anak akibat tindak tanduk sendiri."

Katanya, tidak kurang yang sanggup menderita apabila memilih memasukkan bebola besi yang menyakitkan ke dalam kulit zakar lelaki.

"Bagi mereka, kekuatan tenaga batin menjadi kunci kebahagiaan. Kaedah tradisional seperti susuk dan bebola besi ini memang menyakitkan bukan saja kepada lelaki itu tetapi isterinya juga. Tetapi beliau tidak peduli kerana apa yang penting, nafsu dirinya diutamakan.

"Banyak kes yang dirujuk kepada saya membabitkan masalah yang mana kulit zakar lelaki itu rosak. Sakit memang sakit, tetapi lelaki jenis ini sanggup menderita. Ini yang menyedihkan kita," katanya.

Setiausaha Agung Gabungan Persatuan Pengguna Malaysia (Fomca), Muhammad Shaani Abdullah, menyalahkan sikap pengguna yang terlalu mengutamakan produk penguat tenaga batin ini sebagai punca barangan itu berlambak di pasaran.

"Ramai pengguna tidak sedar mereka sebenarnya terpedaya dengan pelbagai dakwaan palsu syarikat pengeluar produk herba dan ubat kuat yang mahu melariskan jualan mereka. Berapa ramaikah pengguna bertanyakan apakah produk itu benar-benar mengandungi bahan Tongkat Ali dan Kacip Fatimah seperti diakui pada label produk itu?

"Apakah produk dan syarikat itu boleh dipercayai dan benarkah ia mampu memberi hasil seperti didakwa? Jawapannya, tiada siapa pun boleh memberi jaminan keaslian mahu pun kemujaraban produk itu. Akhirnya, pengguna menjadi mangsa ketika pengeluar mencatat keuntungan berlipat ganda di atas produk yang tidak mengandungi sebarang keajaiban itu," katanya.

Shaani yang berpengalaman luas dalam bidang penghasilan produk herba sebelum menyertai Fomca berkata, berdasarkan pengalamannya sendiri, tidak banyak produk di pasaran yang mengandungi bahan didakwa penguat tenaga batin itu.

"Permintaan terhadap Tongkat Ali memang besar. Tetapi pengeluarannya dalam negara ini juga amat terhad dan tidak mungkin dapat memenuhi permintaan tinggi. Berikutan itu, tidak mungkin ada syarikat yang boleh mencampurkan kandungan tinggi Tongkat Ali dalam produk mereka. Saya berani jamin," katanya.

Sehubungan itu, beliau menasihati orang ramai supaya peka dan mengutamakan hak sebagai pengguna apabila membuat pilihan bagi mana-mana produk, terutama yang membabitkan makanan.

Tiada kajian saintifik kandungan herba kuat

SEJAUH manakah produk ubat kuat ini benar-benar mengandungi bahan perangsang seks seperti herba popular Tongkat Ali?

Hakikat ini sukar dibuktikan berikutan tiada satu kajian saintifik yang benar-benar menyeluruh mengenai kebenaran dakwaan itu atau pun kaedah penyediaan serta cara ekstrak bahan itu diperoleh.

Mengikut kajian saintifik, setiap pengambilan kopi didakwa mengandungi Tongkat Ali perlu mengandungi sekurang-kurangnya 1 mg ekstrak herba itu dan daripada kandungan itu, hanya lima peratus ekstrak dapat diserap oleh badan.

Namun, kenyataan dua institusi penyelidikan tempatan sebelum ini sedikit sebanyak boleh memberi gambaran persoalan ini.

Kajian Institut Penyelidikan Perhutanan Malaysia (FRIM) membabitkan 10 jenama kopi Tongkat Ali popular di pasaran pada 2007, mendapati tujuh daripadanya mengandungi hanya 0.25 peratus hingga 1.6 peratus ekstrak herba itu yang didakwa tidak cukup untuk memberi manfaat kesihatan atau faedah seperti digembar gemburkan.

Penyelidikan itu mendapati kandungan bahan aktif herba itu di dalam minuman berkenaan pula hanya antara 0.0039 peratus hingga 0.0246 peratus atau 7.8 nanogram (ng) hingga 49.3ng, jauh daripada paras yang dapat memberi manfaat kesihatan.

Manusia normal yang berhasrat memperoleh khasiat herba itu perlu mengambil sekurang-kurangnya satu miligram (mg) bahan aktif Tongkat Ali bagi setiap kilogram (kg) berat badannya atau tidak lebih 3 mg bagi setiap kg berat badan, sehari. Atau lebih tepat lagi, individu yang mempunyai berat badan 80kg memerlukan minimum 80 mg ekstrak herba itu sehari jika mahu memperoleh faedah herba itu.

Satu lagi kenyataan memetik institusi penyelidikan, Loji Pandu Kejuruteraan Kimia (CEPP) Universiti Teknologi Malaysia yang mendakwa pengambilan kopi kuat yang mengandungi kurang 0.05 mg bahan aktif Tongkat Ali atau Kacip Fatimah, tidak mendatangkan kesan dari sudut kesihatan.

Malah jika benar mengandungi ekstrak Tongkat Ali, kopi yang diminum berasa pahit. Ada yang meminumnya mengakui lebih bertenaga tanpa menyedari ia disebabkan kandungan gula yang tinggi dalam paket dan boleh mendedahkan mereka kepada masalah kesihatan lain seperti kencing manis jika diambil berterusan dalam tempoh beberapa tahun.

INFO: Ubat kuat
  • Data Kementerian Kesihatan menunjukkan rakyat negara ini membelanjakan kira-kira RM27 juta untuk membeli ubat perangsang seks seperti Viagra dalam tempoh Mac 2007 hingga Mac 2008. Selain Viagra, ubat perangsang seks paling laris adalah Cialis dan Levitra.

  • Bagi tempoh Januari hingga Jun tahun lalu, RM1.4 juta ubat perangsang seks berjaya dirampas dan Selangor mencatat nilai rampasan tertinggi iaitu RM1.1 juta.

  • Sekurang-kurangnya 90 ubat tradisional penguat tenaga lelaki dan wanita, makanan tambahan dan kosmetik keluaran syarikat di Indonesia dilabelkan kerajaan negara itu tidak selamat.

  • Antara kes padah ubat kuat termasuk seorang lelaki Singapura maut akibat pengambilan ubat kuat 'Urat Madu' ketika melanggan pelacur di Batam, awal tahun ini. Pada 2007, tiga lelaki dari Pulau Pinang yang membeli ubat kononnya dihasilkan daripada zakar buaya di Chow Kit pada harga RM50 bagi 20 kapsul. Seorang daripada mangsa mendakwa mengalami kebas dan kejang badan selepas memakan dua kapsul sebelum melakukan hubungan intim dengan isterinya. Alat kelaminnya juga gagal berfungsi menyebabkannya terpaksa merujuk nasihat pakar. Seorang lagi terpaksa dirawat di hospital selama dua hari selepas memakan ubat itu

RM60 billion Stimulus or RM73 billion Bail-out?

I am reading all the available analysis on the stimulus interesting write-up below:-

A Shocking Revelation - A Massive RM73 Billion Bailout or A Quantum-Leap Stimulus?
Prepare For Very Bad News By End of 1st Quarter

By Matthias Chang
Thursday, 15 January 2009 08:08

When certain financial information which should come from official sources gets announced through a private vested interest, it is an indication that we must prepare for a national security alert, to be precise a FINANCIAL RECKONING that will send a shiver down our spines!

In the last quarter of 2008, our listless government announced that it had provided a RM7.5 billion stimulus to overcome the effects of the global financial crisis which had impacted on our economy.

Some quarters have indicated that this is a pittance and is a reflection that the government is still in a state of denial and or at a lost as to what remedies need to be adopted.

Be that as it may, it is clear that the RM7.5 Billion stimulus is insufficient as the Prime Minister was quick to declare within weeks that further stimulus would be required.

I waited a week before writing this article to see whether any financial analyst would pick up on this staggering revelation. But nothing, absolutely nothing was written in any of the business / financial dailies.

Judge for yourself - how can anyone not comment on this piece of revelation:

Wednesday January 7, 2009 Business Times (NST)

“Govt likely to sell RM73b worth of bonds: CIMB

“Malaysia will sell a record amount of bonds this year to fund economic stimulus spending and may offer its first foreign-currency bonds since 2002, according to CIMB Investment Bank Bhd.

“The Finance Ministry will probably sell a record RM73 billion of securities as revenue trails spending for an 11th straight year, said Lum Choong Kuan, head of bond research at CIMB, a unit of Bumiputera Commerce Holdings Bhd, the second largest banking group.

“… ‘A wider deficit will necessitate a bigger bond sale,’ he said in a phone interview…”

One can look at this unusual revelation from two perspectives bearing in mind that the Group CEO of CIMB is the younger brother of the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister and maybe the next Prime Minister if one believes that Badawi would in fact relinquish power!

Firstly: The economy must be in a real shit state to require such a massive RM73 billion stimulus, a record sale of securities by the government. It follows that all this while, we were lulled into believing that all is well and that Malaysia will not be affected by the global financial tsunami. The person most responsible for this fairy tale is none other than the Governor of Bank Negara (our central bank). This is almost ten times the original stimulus of RM7.5 Billion announced recently.

Secondly: This RM73 Billion sale of securities is not a stimulus to spur the economy but a massive bailout of financial institutions as well as a desperate measure to shore up our declining liquidity as our foreign exchange reserves have plunged from a massive US$124 Billion in August 2008 to US$96 Billion in December 2008 – a loss of US$28 Billion in a mere three months. In the coming months, our reserves will decrease further!

There is also the added problem that as the US$ depreciates, our dollar reserves’ purchasing power will decline proportionately! In simple layman’s terms, if US$100 can buy ten pairs of shoes in 2007 and if the dollar has declined by 30 per cent, the US$100 dollars that we have will now buy 7 pairs of shoes.

This is a double whammy – an absolute decline on US Dollar reserves as well as a decline in its purchasing power!

I take the view that the RM73 Billion is earmarked for a massive bailout of our financial institutions. This is because, a few months ago, Bank Negara announced that it would follow Singapore’s lead in exempting banks which have transferred off-balance sheet “assets” back on their books from the statutory requirement to mark-to-market the value of such “assets”. This means that these assets which may be worth almost nothing are allowed to retain their “original value” thereby hiding the losses suffered by our banks.

Other than Bank Negara and the Finance Ministry, no one actually knows the extent of our banks’ exposure notwithstanding the repeated declarations that our banks are healthy and resilient. If in fact they are well capitalized, there is no need to waive the requirement to mark-to-market the off-balance sheet “assets”. If these “assets” are worthless, they should be written off, if our banks are able to absorb such huge write-offs.

Additionally, with the crude prices hovering around US$40, Petronas is bleeding and our 2009 budget as well as the 9th Malaysia plan is totally screwed up. We just don’t have the money to finance the 2009 budget and the 9th Malaysia Plan.

Our economy will contract substantially after the first quarter of 2009. We will be lucky if we achieve 1% growth. But I doubt it.


Wall Street’s bull is already dead. What can we expect from our water buffalo?