Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Sago, nipah, tsunami contributions, and tourist dollars

Today, most of bureaucratic Japan returns to work.

I attended what is called a 'shigoto hajime' (literally, start work) lunch gathering at past noon.

Here, we greeted our colleagues and mutually wished for a cooperative working relationship with one another for the next twelve months.

Meanwhile, the Star reported a 23-year-old Achenese woman who survived days of floating in the open sea, clinging on to an uprooted nipah palm.

She survived the ordeal by drinking rainwater and eating the fruit of the palm (nypah fruticans), which Malaysians call attap chee.

A Malaysian tuna trawler found her alive.

At the same time, Bernama reported that the woman hung onto a sago palm and ate its fruit and bark for five days after being hit by the tsunami.

Now, if my understanding of 'sago' and 'nipah' is correct, then I do not know whether to believe the Star or Bernama.

I had always thought, sago is sago; and nipah, nipah.

The newspapers and weblogs continue to be filled up with news and comments on the tsunami.

Among the notable ones are, who is contributing what and, how much.

Writers such as Seah Chiang Nee highlighted the poor response by the rich Middle Eastern Muslim states and Brunei.

He said it was 'shameful that rich Muslim countries respond so weakly to humanity's catastrophe'.

The 'Western' nations led by the US are commended for their huge contributions.

Said a reader of Jeff Ooi's Screenshots, 'Let us also OVERCOME our OVER-SIZED EGO to admit that the US and Bush administration's response is the BEST and QUICKEST, MOST EFFECTIVE, MOST PRACTICAL'.

Personally, I was pleasantly surprised to see to President George W Bush and two of his predecessors, Bill Clinton and George Bush Senior, calling on Americans to aid the Asian tsunami's victims.

Another Screenshots reader, Salamis, queried what George Soros is contributing in times like these.

Salamis added, 'Our former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir must also not be forgotten since he has several separate pensions as (a) ordinary member of parliament, (b) minister (c) prime minister. His sons and daughters are also in big business and should be able to compete with White Men in donation to a good cause'.

Good point, if you don't mind the potentially contentious 'White Men' term.

But Mahathir is not remaining quiet.

Bernama reports that he is convinced that the tourism sector in Langkawi, which was struck by the tidal waves or tsunami last week, will not be affected.

I almost fell off my chair.

Mahathir, who was the architect of the island's development into a leading tourist destination in the region, further rubbed: 'Tourists will continue to come because Langkawi is an attractive island and safe to visit.'

I salute this man for his big heart.

Even in times like this, he worries for Malaysia.

Contributions to the tsunami cause?

Bernama again... 'Dr Mahathir said he had contributed in the form of bottled drinking water for the victims in Aceh, which were delivered by a C-130 aircraft Sunday'.

Hmm... bottled drinking water?

Over at Jeddah, Malaysia's Consul-General Zulkifli Yaacob announced there was no cancellation of holiday bookings by Arab tourists despite knowing about the destruction inflicted by the Tsunami tidal waves.

'We only received calls from those who had made reservations to enquire whether it is safe to visit Malaysia now.'

'Tourism promotions to Malaysia in Saudi Arabia continued to receive good response and holiday packages from today till Jan 21 were snapped up by the Saudis who were unperturbed by the Tsunami giant waves triggered by the underwater earthquake in Acheh, Indonesia, on Dec 26'.

As Seah Chiang Nee pointed out: shameful...