Sunday, August 29, 2010

Operation Teddy Bear...hehehe

I said I was going to review another book that I picked up at terminal 4 the last time I was in London. Here it is. Sorry folks it took quite awhile to get it onto my blog.

Fasting month and all haha. Correcting my MBA students strategic management assignments, and come monday 30th August, haaa.... a stack of their final exam scripts will be in my hands. I know they have been struggling to chose 3 from the 9 other remaining questions (wink).

The Third Man: Life at the Heart of New Labour by Peter Mandelson. Published by Harper Press (an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, Hammersmith, London). I quote from the blurp: "Peter Mandelson has been called many things during his three decades at the top of british politics: the Prince of Darkness, the Sultan of Spin, Labour's Machiavelli, the Rock of New labour. He has also gained a reputation fro being trenchantly observant, wry, and never afraid to say exactly what he thinks. It is these qualities that he brings to this searingly honest story of his life as The Third Man in the most compelling drama of modern times."

After 3 days of explosive serialisation of the Mandelson memoirs, The Times UK (wednesday July 14, 2010) had, as their frontpage headlines 'Mad, bad and dangerous' depicting the uproar this book had created hahaha. Everyone had something to say in their defence...hehe especially Tony Blair.

What attracted me most ( in the book) was 'the teddy bear plan'. Apparently this was a kind of strategy that would split the Treasury into two departments. Let me quote what was printed in the Times UK (July 14th): "In 2002 Mr Brown demanded a move into No 10 before the end of the second term. "He's behaving outrageously. " Mr Blair said. "This time he's gone too far."

Operation Teddy Bear has, until today, remained a secret kept within the walls of No 10. It is so named to avoid the slightest hint of its intention and was devised by Lord Mandelson, John Birt, the former BBC chief who became a No 10 adviser, and Jonathan Powell, Mr Blair's chief of staff.

Under the plan, A US -style office of Budget and Delivery would be taken from the Treasury, leaving Mr Brown in charge of a new Ministry of Finance to handle macroeconomics, taxation. markets and financial services. Crucially Mr Brown would have lost control of departmental purse strings."

Hmmm... the strategy sounds familiar...which makes me wonder, if the Brits had picked it up from somewhere else other than the US (wink) or that others are emulating what they (the Brits) had tried (hehehe). I leave that to your intelligent and wise analysis.

Most British Parliamentarians, I read somewhere, is taking along this new book for their summer breaks. So, if British politicians are reading it...I suggest you guys budding local politicians, should also read it (wink). Who knows, you might pick up a tip or two from the Prince of Darkness and the Sultan of Spin? hehehe...

Sunday, August 08, 2010

a cynic's guide to britain? hmmmm...dot3x

Ha Ha this book was chosen not for any particular reason except that when I was paying for my Thornton (yummy!) chocolates and the just published 'The Third Man' the hurriedly (so it seemed haha) done autobiography (that caused a stir in Britain) of Lord Peter Mandelson (we will look at this book at another blogpost ok? hehe), I was told that I could pick up any other book ad 50% discount! So I scurried back to the shelves..oh well display counters and picked up this rather 'brilliant' book haha.

I read the blurp, it said 'The British national myth. Is it true? Or is it a myth? Having skewered modern life in the bestselling Is it Just Me or Is Everything Shit?, Steve Lowe and Alan McArthur set out to explore the deep dark heart of British national identity. After all: who better to embark upon an odessy through all things British than two unpatriotic cynics without any formal grounding in history?

Over the course of a year they enjoy a daybreak morris dance on the Cerne Abbas Giant, pull an all-nighter at Stonehenge and witness Wales and Scotland rising again (a bit). They encounter terrifying Europhobe ladies in Surrey, endure the Last Night of the Proms and lose the will to live in Gibraltar. They also met a lot of druids. Hillarious and provocative, Blighty offers a brilliant, alternative (ooops) vision of Britain - debunking the madness behind the tradness.

Even the introduction page made me smile. Listen to this. The authors described a council-run British Citizenship Ceremony that sounded like very much the worst sort of party. Would there even be a bar? (there wasn't. haha). Then, inside the curvy wood-panelled Hackney Town Hall council chamber, sat 20 British-citizens-in-waiting. At that moment, there were Algerian, Australian, Iraqi, Israeli, Sierra Leonian, Turkish, Latvian, Cameroonian....hmm (no Malaysian?)..and within hours they would turn British and henceforward would remain British. They were touched with a vibe stick (that's a metaphor; nobody actually touches them with a stick.) The proto-Britishers (as the authors described them) had all passed the fiendish Citizenship Test and, having paid GBP625, had now each been issued a special citizenship folder with pictures on the front, representing Britain: Stonehenge; a castle; the Forth Raliway bridge (British!); a family jumping up and down in a field... This-this! - is Britain. an ancient land where jumping is entirely permissible...hahaha. You should read the book yourselves ok?

It won't be fun if I tell you anything more...oh ok mebbe juz a lil more...huh? Ok ok there's this chapter four that is devoted to cash for honours, the norman conquest, fish and a handbag haha. The ancient love affair with Guilds (which reminds me of my favourite british actor Anthony Hopkins in that movie "remains of the day"). The Ironmonger's Hall, tucked beneath the Museum of London, is home to Ironmonger's Company, a medieval guild concerned very much with iron, ironworks, woking with iron, and furthering the secrete, closely guarded interests of iron-people and their irony ways (hehe). The City of London might be famous for forcing new forms of dodgy credit - but amongst their own ranks they like nothing more than a a bit of archaic weirdness, bonding together in ancient closed shops with dizzying rituals...

Believe me, when you get hold of a copy..haha you won't put it down that fast. It covers the four seasons: spring , summer, autumn and winter and it starts with 'with four thousand Gods on our side, hankies at dawn, a Diana moment, the time of our lives, you can't dump me becaue i'm dumping you (haha) to all things begin and end in albion's ancient druid rocky shore....hahaha.

Anyone attempting a similar cynic's guide to malaysia? i dare you..hik3x... wink3x. Have a great week ahead may I please get back to marking my MBA student's assignments?.. huhu wink2x dot dot dot...

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Langkawi, Borneo, Vancouver, London..jalan-jalan Cakap2..

Panel Session at ITS2010 Knightsbridge, London

Great clear skyline from my hotel window at Knightsbridge

Last paper I presented recently in London and the topic was given to me by the organisers, woteva that means...wink2x LOL

Vancouver, end June 2010, attending 3 International Committee Meetings

Canada Place, Vancouver by summer night, Canada Day's eve...

Chairing a session at AsiaHRDCongress Kuching, Sarawak

One for the album with keynote speaker at the recent
MARIM International Risk and Insurance Management Conference,
Langkawi Island, Malaysia where I also chaired the plenary session...

coffee table books in the lounge of my brand new (Park Plaza)hotel room,
Westminster, London

An evening shot from Stanley Park, Vancouver, July 2010

Canada Place, Vancouver Canada Day, July 2010

Knightsbridge, London, July 15, 2010

Yes yes yes...I know I know...please don't be cross with me? oh please. My last blogpost was june 15. Its July 8th today. I have been wanting to document my travels since the last posting but everytime I logged into my blog...i got a mental block hohoho.

Serious shit! Sorry, I mean I had so much to tell, so many photos to upload and share but I couldn't decide which one I should upload or which story I shoudl tell first (hehe). After earlier bad experiences and because of the intellectual property rights and privacy issues...I got scared. So, I thought hurrmm..I might as well upload my 'award-winning' photo shots (hihi) and perhaps indulge in some self-inflicted vanity (wink) hehehe. So folks, please excuse the tourist-like posts ok? hahaha.

A picture is worth a thousand words they often say, so I guess I need not write too much about what or where I have been since 15 june! I was in Vancouver attending 3 RCAR Working Group Meetings, chaired international conferences at Langkawi and Kuching, Borneo and presented a paper at the 4th International Takaful Summit, Jumeirah Carlton Tower, Knighstbridge, London.

Last year my videoclip intro at ITS2010 London was based on Diehard 4 movie and this year I used Harry Potter's last movie videoclip..hahaha. Even if delegates didn't understand a word I was saying, at least for a long time to come, they would still remember me for the opening videoclips at worst! hahahaha LOL (wink).

Vancouver is a nice multi-ethnic, multi-diversity friendly city. A great city, especially for the rich, to retire hmmm...the impression I got. Forgive me if I am wrong. Walking around Canada Place, one could read the history of this important Canadian port city on the western side of Canada from the many information stands all around the complex.

Ok folks, that's about it for now. I shall review two interesting books I picked up at terminal 4 on my way home to Kuala Lumpur in my next blogpost...