Friday, December 31, 2010

Sisters set new Malaysian records

New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR - Two sisters from Penang made it into the Malaysia Book of Records in an extraordinary feat of strength and physical prowess.
Four-year-old Thurgashree Thanabalasingam made the "Most sit ups ever done by a child", while her elder sister Logasree, 8, made an entry for "Heaviest weight lifted by two little fingers".
Thurgashee, a pint-sized kindergarten student from Bukit Mertajam, did a regiment's worth of 1,111 sit ups in 31 minutes and 21 seconds.

She completed the feat commemorating the spirit of 1Malaysia at the MIC headquarters here in Jalan Ipoh.
Logasree, who is a Standard Two student in SRJK Tamil Kampong Baru, Bukit Mertajam, lifted 21kg with two fingers for over 10 seconds.
The event was jointly organised by the Seberang Perai Tengah Weightlifting Association and MIC Youth.
Their father and trainer M. Thanabalasingam, 37, said his two daughters had undergone many months of training, putting in about four hours of work a day. "I am proud of their achievements."
Officiating the event was Human Resource Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam and Malaysia Book Of Records founder Datuk Danny Ooi who presented certificates to the sisters.
-New Straits Times

Malaysia struggles to stem 'brain drain'

KUALA LUMPUR — When computer engineer Wan Jon Yew left Malaysia in 2005 for a job in Singapore, all he wanted was to work in the city state for a few years before going home. Now, he says, he will never return.
With a family, a home and a car, he now plans to settle in Singapore for good -- just one of the many Malaysians stampeding abroad every year in a worrying "brain drain" the government is trying to reverse.
"I wouldn't consider going back to Malaysia, I won't look back. If I were ever going to leave Singapore, I would migrate to Australia," said the 28-year-old, who now has permanent resident status.
"It's not about the money. I could have a better quality of life in Malaysia with my pay. I could have a semi-detached bungalow and have a maid there, but I would rather live in a government flat in Singapore."
Wan, who is ethnically Chinese, is one of some 700,000 Malaysians -- most of them highly educated -- who are currently working abroad in an exodus that Prime Minister Najib Razak's government is struggling to reverse.
The "brain drain" has a number of causes. Some have been lured by higher salaries, but others blame political and social gripes including preferential policies for Muslim Malays, who form the majority.
Many feel constrained by life in a country where the ruling coalition has been in power for half a century, and where progress on freedom of expression, the right to assembly, and tackling corruption has been slow.
A decades-old affirmative action policy which hands Malays and the indigenous groups privileges in housing, education and business, has been criticised as uncompetitive and improperly benefiting the elite.
As a consequence, many of those who have left are members of Malaysia's ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities, who make up some 25 percent and 10 percent of the population respectively.
Najib in December launched a "Talent Corporation" with incentives to woo back these highly skilled workers, as well as foreign professionals, to live and work in his multi-ethnic country.
Malaysia, Southeast Asia's third-largest economy with a population of 28 million, has ambitions to transform itself into a developed nation by 2020, but a lack of human capital is a barrier to reaching that goal.
World Bank data cited by the Malaysian press shows that while globally the number of migrants rose 2.4 times between 1960 and 2005, Malaysia's diaspora registered a staggering 155-fold increase over the 45-year period.
"I don't want my children to go through the unfair treatment," said Wan, who believes Singapore offers "fair competition".
"I'm not proud of being a Malaysian because I think the government doesn't treat me as a Malaysian.
"I would rather be a PR (permanent resident), a second-class citizen in a foreign country, than to be a citizen in my own country."
Wan said his wife, an IT analyst, renounced her citizenship in July this year, joining a queue of about 30 Malaysians lining up to do so on that day alone at the Malaysian embassy in Singapore.
Commentators are sceptical over whether the government's latest effort to reverse the "brain drain" will be successful, warning it will be tough to persuade those in self-exile.
"Money does have a significant role but the most important factor, I think, is opportunity. Malaysia is too politicised and opportunities are not evenly available to everyone," political analyst Wan Saiful Wan Jan told AFP.
In one example, he said academics are reluctant to work in local universities as they must sign a "loyalty pledge" barring them from, among other things, criticising government policies.
"In such an environment, obviously those with talents will find opportunity elsewhere," said the chief executive of think-tank the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS).
Wan Saiful, who himself returned to Malaysia last year after living in Britain for 17 years, said the newly launched Talent Corporation will be "another expensive failure" if it does not tackle these structural problems.
"When I apply for a job, buy a house, register my children for school etcetera, why does it matter what my race or religion is? This should stop," said the analyst, himself a Malay.
Ethnic Chinese and Indian professionals who have left the country commonly say they felt a sense of marginalisation in Malaysia.
"When I went back to Malaysia, it was a culture shock in terms of politically how they promote the rights of the Malays over everyone else," said Chee Yeoh, a stock analyst who migrated to Australia three years ago.
Yeoh was educated overseas from the age of 10 and returned in 1998 to take up a position with a bank, but felt like leaving again "almost immediately".
"I just didn't feel at home in Malaysia. I can't speak the Malay language -- essentially I felt like an outsider even more," said the 35-year-old analyst, who took a pay cut to move to Australia.
Najib has admitted the talent issues are "broad and complex", and will not set a target on how many Malaysians he hopes to lure back under the new programme.
The initiatives include a "resident pass" which will give foreign skilled workers, and Malaysians who have gave up their citizenship, the long-term right to live and work in the country.
But Fong Chan Onn, Malaysia's former human resources minister who was instrumental in previous "brain gain" efforts, said the government must tackle the issue holistically.
"The government needs to rectify this sense of marginalisation. We also have to improve the mechanism so it can be more effective to ask these talents to come back," he told AFP.
"We have a long way to go. It is better late than never."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More Pics of Chinese Stealth Fighter Surface

Note: Article from

Well, some new pics of the supposed J-XX/J-20 Chinese stealth fighter have emerged over at Alert 5. The images give a much better view of the airframe, although, they still don’t reveal the inner workings of the beast. Speaking of beasts, that’s a big fighter. It looks (in my very unscientific photo-analysis) to be a bit longer than an F-22. And who knows what type of engines those are or if they’re capable of thrust vectoring.
Rumor has it that production versions of plane will feature many fifth-gen prerequisites: Glass cockpit with one giant, re-programmable display; thrust vectoring engines, possibly the Chinese-designed 28,000-pound WS-10 engines or Russia’s 30,000-pound Salyut 99M2 engines; it’s also supposed to feature extensive fly by wire controls and a 3D HUD. Again, this is rumint.

Chinese Stealth Jet Emerges

Note: this article from

Is this a mockup or not? It looks like a real version of China’s long rumored J-XX fifth-gen fighter with a pilot or ground crew member climbing into the cockpit. While Russia is developing a fifth-gen fighter, the Sukhoi PAK-FA, it remains to be seenhow long it will take to field the Russian jet. China on the other hand, is on the rise and seems to be quickly getting better and better at everything it does; from cyber war and IT to, perhaps, building and fielding fighters.
Remember in 2009 when U.S. Defense Secretary  Robert Gates said China would have no stealth fighters by 2020 while the U.S. would have hundreds. Well, he backtracked on that statement earlier this year, saying that the U.S. will have a significant lead in the numbers of stealth jets by the end of the decade. Maybe China wanted to show off the new jet to say this might not be the case? Who knows?
Still, while the airframe looks nearly complete, no one knows what the planes weapons load, engines or avionics and sensor suite will look like. Remember, in the 21st Century, it’s not just about stealth; it’s the sensors, communications and data fusion tools that give fifth generation planes a real edge.
One thing’s for sure, this will give F-35 Joint Strike Fighter backers a boost when arguing why that program is indeed necessary. It may also help stir up more support for the development of sixth-generation air superiority fighters now that the F-22 is nearing the end of its production run of less than 200 planes.
Another pic after the jump.
Courtesy of China Defense Blog.

Hawala - Malaysia's largest illegal trade

KUALA LUMPUR: Hawala or illegal money remittance is set to become the largest illegal trade in Malaysia, overtaking narcotics, illegal wildlife trade and other criminal activities, according to a senior official of the country's Federal Reserve Bank .

The official, who is associated with Bank Negara Malaysia , said the hawala system posed a serious concern in the financial market and many licensed money changers were working in cohorts with their foreign counterparts.

The amounts transferred in and out of the country in this way run into several hundreds of million ringgit annually, local media reported today quoting the official.

The Reserve Bank is also considering serious measures to curb illegal money transfers by imposing a new set of guidelines and stepping up surveillance and investigations.

The United Nations had pinpointed the hawala system as a potential means of financing terrorism, as money could be made available internationally without actually moving it or leaving a record of the transaction, the report said.

"Although no official figures are available, the amount involved could even surpass one billion ringgit (1 ringgit = Rs 15) annually, and this is a very serious concern for the authorities," the official said.

The official said hawala is growing so rapidly that serious action was needed to be taken immediately to stop its exponential growth.

"Despite the national Reserve Bank (Bank Negara) revoking the licences of 41 moneychangers, there seemed to be no clear solution to this problem," he said.

The hawala system in Malaysia gained media prominence last year when allegations surfaced that a senior politician had transferred out ten million ringgit to London through a moneychanger in 2008.

Reports also emerged that a growing number of politicians and wealthy individuals had used the system to transfer money to various parts of the world. Following the reports, Bank Negara went after moneychangers offering such services.

Those found to have contravened provisions of the Money Changers Act saw their licences being revoked. Over the past few weeks, charges have been brought against at least three companies and their directors for money laundering involving millions of ringgit.

It was also reported that the single largest amount detected via hawala was over 20 million ringgit by a property developer. Malaysia currently has 875 licensed moneychangers.

Note: article from

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Taking Stock of WikiLeaks

Taking Stock of WikiLeaks

Read more: Taking Stock of WikiLeaks | STRATFOR

By George Friedman
Julian Assange has declared that geopolitics will be separated into pre-“Cablegate” and post-“Cablegate” eras. That was a bold claim. However, given the intense interest that the leaks produced, it is a claim that ought to be carefully considered. Several weeks have passed since the first of the diplomatic cables were released, and it is time now to address the following questions: First, how significant were the leaks? Second, how could they have happened? Third, was their release a crime? Fourth, what were their consequences? Finally, and most important, is the WikiLeaks premise that releasing government secrets is a healthy and appropriate act a tenable position?
Let’s begin by recalling that the U.S. State Department documents constituted the third wave of leaks. The first two consisted of battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan. Looking back on those as a benchmark, it is difficult to argue that they revealed information that ran counter to informed opinion. I use the term “informed opinion” deliberately. For someone who was watching Iraq and Afghanistan with some care over the previous years, the leaks might have provided interesting details but they would not have provided any startling distinction between the reality that was known and what was revealed. If, on the other hand, you weren’t paying close attention, and WikiLeaks provided your first and only view of the battlefields in any detail, you might have been surprised.
Let’s consider the most controversial revelation, one of the tens of thousands of reports released on Iraq and Afghanistan and one in which a video indicated that civilians were deliberately targeted by U.S. troops. The first point, of course, is that the insurgents, in violation of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, did not go into combat wearing armbands or other distinctive clothing to distinguish themselves from non-combatants. The Geneva Conventions have always been adamant on this requirement because they regarded combatants operating under the cover of civilians as being responsible for putting those civilians in harm’s way, not the uniformed troops who were forced to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants when the combatants deliberately chose to act in violation of the Geneva Conventions.
It follows from this that such actions against civilians are inevitable in the kind of war Iraqi insurgents chose to wage. Obviously, this particular event has to be carefully analyzed, but in a war in which combatants blend with non-combatants, civilian casualties will occur, and so will criminal actions by uniformed troops. Hundreds of thousands of troops have fought in Iraq, and the idea that criminal acts would be absent is absurd. What is most startling is not the presence of potentially criminal actions but their scarcity. Anyone who has been close to combat or who has read histories of World War II would be struck not by the presence of war crimes but by the fact that in all the WikiLeaks files so few potential cases are found. War is controlled violence, and when controls fail — as they inevitably do — uncontrolled and potentially criminal violence occurs. However, the case cited by WikiLeaks with much fanfare did not clearly show criminal actions on the part of American troops as much as it did the consequences of the insurgents violating the Geneva Conventions.
Only those who were not paying attention to the fact that there was a war going on, or who had no understanding of war, or who wanted to pretend to be shocked for political reasons, missed two crucial points: It was the insurgents who would be held responsible for criminal acts under the Geneva Conventions for posing as non-combatants, and there were extraordinarily few cases of potential war crimes that were contained in the leaks.
The diplomatic leaks are similar. There is precious little that was revealed that was unknown to the informed observer. For example, anyone reading STRATFOR knows we have argued that it was not only the Israelis but also the Saudis that were most concerned about Iranian power and most insistent that the United States do something about it. While the media treated this as a significant revelation, it required a profound lack of understanding of the geopolitics of the Persian Gulf to regard U.S. diplomatic cables on the subject as surprising.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ statement in the leaks that the Saudis were always prepared to fight to the last American was embarrassing, in the sense that Gates would have to meet with Saudi leaders in the future and would do so with them knowing what he thinks of them. Of course, the Saudis are canny politicians and diplomats and they already knew how the American leadership regarded their demands.
There were other embarrassments also known by the informed observer. Almost anyone who worries about such things is aware that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is close to the Russians and likes to party with young women. The latest batch of leaks revealed that the American diplomatic service was also aware of this. And now Berlusconi is aware that they know of these things, which will make it hard for diplomats to pretend that they don’t know of these things. Of course, Berlusconi was aware that everyone knew of these things and clearly didn’t care, since the charges were all over Italian media.
I am not cherry-picking the Saudi or Italian memos. The consistent reality of the leaks is that they do not reveal anything new to the informed but do provide some amusement over certain comments, such as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitri Medvedev being called “Batman and Robin.” That’s amusing, but it isn’t significant. Amusing and interesting but almost never significant is what I come away with having read through all three waves of leaks.
Obviously, the leaks are being used by foreign politicians to their own advantage. For example, the Russians feigned shock that NATO would be reassuring the Balts about defense against a potential Russian invasion or the Poles using the leaks to claim that solid U.S.-Polish relations are an illusion. The Russians know well of NATO plans for defending the Baltic states against a hypothetical Russian invasion, and the Poles know equally well that U.S.-Polish relations are complex but far from illusory. The leaks provide an opportunity for feigning shock and anger and extracting possible minor concessions or controlling atmospherics. They do not, however, change the structure of geopolitics.
Indeed, U.S. diplomats come away looking sharp, insightful and decent. While their public statements after a conference may be vacuous, it is encouraging to see that their read of the situation and of foreign leaders is unsentimental and astute. Everything from memos on senior leaders to anonymous snippets from apparently junior diplomats not only are on target (in the sense that STRATFOR agrees with them) but are also well-written and clear. I would argue that the leaks paint a flattering picture overall of the intellect of U.S. officials without revealing, for the most part, anything particularly embarrassing.
At the same time, there were snarky and foolish remarks in some of the leaks, particularly personal comments about leaders and sometimes their families that were unnecessarily offensive. Some of these will damage diplomatic careers, most generated a good deal of personal tension and none of their authors will likely return to the countries in which they served. Much was indeed unprofessional, but the task of a diplomat is to provide a sense of place in its smallest details, and none expect their observations ever to be seen by the wrong people. Nor do nations ever shift geopolitical course over such insults, not in the long run. These personal insults were by far the most significant embarrassments to be found in the latest release. Personal tension is not, however, international tension.
This raises the question of why diplomats can’t always simply state their minds rather than publicly mouth preposterous platitudes. It could be as simple as this: My son was a terrible pianist. He completely lacked talent. After his recitals at age 10, I would pretend to be enthralled. He knew he was awful and he knew I knew he was awful, but it was appropriate that I not admit what I knew. It is called politeness and sometimes affection. There is rarely affection among nations, but politeness calls for behaving differently when a person is in the company of certain other people than when that person is with colleagues talking about those people. This is the simplest of human rules. Not admitting what you know about others is the foundation of civilization. The same is true among diplomats and nations.
And in the end, this is all I found in the latest WikiLeaks release: a great deal of information about people who aren’t American that others certainly knew and were aware that the Americans knew, and now they have all seen it in writing. It would take someone who truly doesn’t understand how geopolitics really works to think that this would make a difference. Some diplomats may wind up in other postings, and perhaps some careers will be ended. But the idea that this would somehow change the geopolitics of our time is really hard to fathom. I have yet to see Assange point to something so significant that it would justify his claim. It may well be that the United States is hiding secrets that would reveal it to be monstrous. If so, it is not to be found in what has been released so far.
There is, of course, the question of whether states should hold secrets, which is at the root of the WikiLeaks issue. Assange claims that by revealing these secrets WikiLeaks is doing a service. His ultimate maxim, as he has said on several occasions, is that if money and resources are being spent on keeping something secret, then the reasons must be insidious. Nations have secrets for many reasons, from protecting a military or intelligence advantage to seeking some advantage in negotiations to, at times, hiding nefarious plans. But it is difficult to imagine a state — or a business or a church — acting without confidentiality. Imagine that everything you wrote and said in an attempt to figure out a problem was made public? Every stupid idea that you discarded or clueless comment you expressed would now be pinned on you. But more than that, when you argue that nations should engage in diplomacy rather than war, taking away privacy makes diplomacy impossible. If what you really think of the guy on the other side of the table is made public, how can diplomacy work?
This is the contradiction at the heart of the WikiLeaks project. Given what I have read Assange saying, he seems to me to be an opponent of war and a supporter of peace. Yet what he did in leaking these documents, if the leaking did anything at all, is make diplomacy more difficult. It is not that it will lead to war by any means; it is simply that one cannot advocate negotiations and then demand that negotiators be denied confidentiality in which to conduct their negotiations. No business could do that, nor could any other institution. Note how vigorously WikiLeaks hides the inner workings of its own organization, from how it is funded to the people it employs.
Assange’s claims are made even more interesting in terms of his “thermonuclear” threat. Apparently there are massive files that will be revealed if any harm comes to him. Implicit is the idea that they will not be revealed if he is unharmed — otherwise the threat makes no sense. So, Assange’s position is that he has secrets and will keep them secret if he is not harmed. I regard this as a perfectly reasonable and plausible position. One of the best uses for secrets is to control what the other side does to you. So Assange is absolutely committed to revealing the truth unless it serves his interests not to, in which case the public has no need to know.
It is difficult to see what harm the leaks have done, beyond embarrassment. It is also difficult to understand why WikiLeaks thinks it has changed history or why Assange lacks a sufficient sense of irony not to see the contradiction between his position on openness and his willingness to keep secrets when they benefit him. But there is also something important here, which is how this all was leaked in the first place.
To begin that explanation, we have to go back to 9/11 and the feeling in its aftermath that the failure of various government entities to share information contributed to the disaster. The answer was to share information so that intelligence analysts could draw intelligence from all sources in order to connect the dots. Intelligence organizations hate sharing information because it makes vast amounts of information vulnerable. Compartmentalization makes it hard to connect dots, but it also makes it harder to have a WikiLeaks release. The tension between intelligence and security is eternal, and there will never be a clear solution.
The real issue is who had access to this mass of files and what controls were put on them. Did the IT department track all external drives or e-mails? One of the reasons to be casual is that this was information that was classified secret and below, with the vast majority being at the confidential, no-foreign-distribution level. This information was not considered highly sensitive by the U.S. government. Based on the latest trove, it is hard to figure out how the U.S. government decides to classify material. But it has to be remembered that given their level of classification these files did not have the highest security around them because they were not seen as highly sensitive.
Still, a crime occurred. According to the case of Daniel Ellsberg, who gave a copy of the Pentagon Papers on Vietnam to a New York Times reporter, it is a crime for someone with a security clearance to provide classified material for publication but not a crime for a publisher to publish it, or so it has become practice since the Ellsberg case. Legal experts can debate the nuances, but this has been the practice for almost 40 years. The bright line is whether the publisher in any way encouraged or participated in either the theft of the information or in having it passed on to him. In the Ellsberg case, he handed it to reporters without them even knowing what it was. Assange has been insisting that he was the passive recipient of information that he had nothing to do with securing.
Now it is interesting whether the sheer existence of WikiLeaks constituted encouragement or conspiracy with anyone willing to pass on classified information to him. But more interesting by far is the sequence of events that led a U.S. Army private first class not only to secure the material but to know where to send it and how to get it there. If Pfc. Bradley Manning conceived and executed the theft by himself, and gave the information to WikiLeaks unprompted, Assange is clear. But anyone who assisted Manning or encouraged him is probably guilty of conspiracy, and if Assange knew what was being done, he is probably guilty, too. There was talk about some people at MIT helping Manning. Unscrambling the sequence is what the Justice Department is undoubtedly doing now. Assange cannot be guilty of treason, since he isn’t a U.S. citizen. But he could be guilty of espionage. His best defense will be that he can’t be guilty of espionage because the material that was stolen was so trivial.
I have no idea whether or when he got involved in the acquisition of the material. I do know — given the material leaked so far — that there is little beyond minor embarrassments contained within it. Therefore, Assange’s claim that geopolitics has changed is as false as it is bold. Whether he committed any crime, including rape, is something I have no idea about. What he is clearly guilty of is hyperbole. But contrary to what he intended, he did do a service to the United States. New controls will be placed on the kind of low-grade material he published. Secretary of Defense Gates made the following point on this:
“Now, I’ve heard the impact of these releases on our foreign policy described as a meltdown, as a game-changer, and so on. I think those descriptions are fairly significantly overwrought. The fact is, governments deal with the United States because it’s in their interest, not because they like us, not because they trust us, and not because they believe we can keep secrets. Many governments — some governments — deal with us because they fear us, some because they respect us, most because they need us. We are still essentially, as has been said before, the indispensable nation.
“Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.”
I don’t like to give anyone else the final word, but in this case Robert Gates’ view is definitive. One can pretend that WikiLeaks has redefined geopolitics, but it hasn’t come close.

Read more: Taking Stock of WikiLeaks | STRATFOR

Taking Stock of WikiLeaks is republished with permission of STRATFOR

Read more: Taking Stock of WikiLeaks | STRATFOR



New Saga FL (Face Lift) / BLM FL now available with new exterior design and seriously worth for money extra features with additional around RM2k from normal price. 2 variant added which is Saga FL standard and Executive. Too many enhancement included in the New Saga BLM FL and below are the features, specification and price of New Saga FL.


PRACTICALITY Its 5.3m turning radius makes U-Turns and parking a breeze. STYLING The rear combi light promises sexy style and convenience ENTERTAINMENT The audio system with USB and AUX input only means your favourite hits, non-stop. COMFORT Equipped with rich seating and trimming for a sportier interior. The new Saga FL will surprise you with a host of brand new features. It’s better than you ever dreamt it to be.
REAR COMBI LIGHT The rear combi light promises sexy style and convenience.
14″ 9-SPOKE ALLOY RIMS A sporty enhancement to the overall design.
SIDE MIRROR WITH LED An added safety feature that’s also stylish. FRONT HEADLAMPS Distinctive headlamps create a bold impact.

SPACIOUS CABIN What you’re getting is the best cabin space in its class. 413-LITRE BOOT CAPACITY A 413-litre boot capacity that’s enough for 60 footballs. CUP HOLDERS Within easy reach, for added convenience. ADDED STORAGE COMPARTMENTS There’s more storage space, for all your needs. IMMOBILIZER Prevents unauthorised access to help prevent theft. DUAL AIRBAGS Dual airbags reduce the risk of severe injuries. REVERSE SENSOR The combination of vertical and horizontal detection angles ensures safe coverage. LOTUS RIDE & HANDLING Offers the best ride and handling in its class.


Powertrain Engine  
    Total displacement (cc)   1332  Bore x Stroke (mm x mm)   76.0 x 73.4  Compression ratio   10  Maximum output hp(kW)/rpm (/)   94 (70) / 6000  Maximum torque (Nm/rpm) (/)   120/4000  Full tank capacity (Litre) (/)   40  ChassisPower Steering  Hydraulic Power Steering Steering Type  Rack & Pinion  Rack & Pinion  Suspension  FrontMacPherson Strut with Stabiliser bar  RearTorsion Beam Axle  Brake Front/Rear  Ventilated Disc/Drum   Tyre/Wheel size  175/70R13 – Steel for FL standard Colour Variations
Solid White      Tranquility Black      Genetic Silver      Granite Grey      Café Latte      Blue Rock


MANUAL TRANSMISSION RM 37,998.00 Metallic RM 37,548.00 Solid
AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION RM 40,998.00 Metallic RM 40,548.00 Solid


MANUAL TRANSMISSION RM 40,698.00 Metallic RM 40,248.00 Solid
AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION RM 43,298.00 Metallic RM 42,848.00 Solid


NEW SAGA FL EXECUTIVE EXTRA FEATURES: + Driver seat height adjuster + Electric door mirror + Front fog lamp + Steering wheel with audio switches + Radio CD/MP3 player, USB with aux port + Rear spoiler + Side Protector Moulding + Immobiliser + Driver’s airbag with seatbelt pretensioner + Passenger’s airbag with seatbelt pretensioner + Tyre/Wheel size  185/60R14 – Alloy

Note: this article from website

Friday, December 24, 2010

Hornet v. MiG

Hornet v. MiG

U.S. Marine aviators to Malaysian MiG pilots: Show us what you got.

  • By Ed Darack
  • Air & Space Magazine, March 01, 2010

Nearly three miles above the turquoise waters of the South China Sea last July, U.S. Marine Lieutenant Colonel Dan Shipley eyed the dim outline of a fast-approaching Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 Fulcrum. Flying with the Royal Malaysian Air Force on a training mission, Shipley had been tracking the MiG by radar from the cockpit of his Boeing F/A-18D Hornet. While Shipley and Captain Justin Archibald, the Hor-net’s weapons and sensors officer, could have tried to simulate firing an air-to-air missile at the MiG from a distance, the war game required that the two confirm with their eyes that the MiG really was a MiG, and not a friendly military aircraft or an unarmed civilian airplane.

The Hornet and MiG rocketed past each other at a combined velocity of nearly 1,000 mph, granting each side a clear, albeit fleeting, view of the opposing jet. Both fighter pilots banked hard, each trying to maneuver into position first and stay there long enough to make the other one fall victim to an air-to-air missile or a volley of cannon rounds.

The MiG went nose-high, its pilot relying on the Fulcrum’s superior thrust-to-weight ratio to vertically outrun the Hornet. Anticipating this, Shipley had pulled the Hornet’s nose up and torqued the jet inside the trajectory of the MiG, a maneuver generating 6.8 Gs. Fifteen seconds and two high-G turns later, with the tail of the MiG directly ahead and the distinctive squeal in his headset telling him the infrared seeker in one of the Hornet’s missiles had a lock, Shipley squeezed a red trigger on his control stick, sending a signal to fire. Forty-five seconds into the engagement, the Hornet’s mission computer confirmed a simulated kill.

Later that day, Shipley and Archibald met up with the MiG pilot, Major Ahmad Khusairi bin Ahmad Fadli, in an air-conditioned briefing room at Malaysia’s Kuantan Air Base, about 150 miles east of Kuala Lumpur. While the three aviators discussed the day’s mission and analyzed data from the two aircraft’s computers, the F/A-18 and the single-seat MiG-29 were prepped for the next day’s training flight.

For three weeks each summer, in an exercise known as Air Warrior, the aviators of a Marine Corps Hornet squadron duel with the fighter pilots of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, the only MiG-equipped foreign air force that Marine aviators train with overseas on an annual basis. Accompanying the Hornets to Kuantan Air Base are elements of a C-130J Super Hercules transport and inflight refueling squadron, part of an air controller squadron, and logistics support personnel. Each year a different Hornet fighter squadron arrives in Malaysia for the exercise; last year, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (All Weather) 225, based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego, California, was chosen to participate.

The U.S. aviators come to Kuantan realizing that because they fly more often than the Malaysians, they are more seasoned, particularly since almost all have actual combat experience. But Air Warrior focuses on air superiority sorties, which the Marine pilots have typically flown only against other U.S. aviators and aircraft. “I’ve trained against Air Force F-16s, F-15s, even the F-22 Raptor, but this is the first time with the Fulcrum,” says Shipley, the executive officer of 225 and a former Blue Angels demonstration pilot. “It is just a phenomenal experience for us to see how a MiG actually performs.” The experience might one day be critical for U.S. pilots, given that the MiG-29 is flown by various U.S. adversaries, including Syria, Iran, Cuba, and North Korea.

Air Warrior, however, is far more than a tactical exercise involving the forces of two friendly nations. The South China Sea is a region where the United States might engage an enemy in a future conflict, so it pays for the military to build allies there—the facet of Air Warrior that will pay the biggest long-term dividends. “By deploying to Malaysia, operating there, and then redeploying there, year after year, we’re not only honing our skill-sets used in that particular exercise, but building and bolstering our relationships in that part of the world,” says Lieutenant Colonel Rob Scott, chief of the future operations group at the Pentagon’s Plans, Policies, and Operations Department for the Marine Corps.

The U.S. ground crews assigned to Air Warrior must prepare for a challenging tour of duty at Kuantan Air Base. Because there were no hangars available to the U.S. maintenance crews, they had to work outside in oppressive heat and humidity. Each day began early, with the maintenance teams wiping thick beads of dew from the Hornets’ canopies. By 9:30 each morning on the flightline, every crew member’s olive drab T-shirt was soaked with sweat. By noon, the pounding sun had driven all but a few crew members into the shade. “One of the things the staff had to look out for was to make sure the maintainers didn’t become heat casualties—that they constantly were drinking water,” says Sergeant Major Ron Halcovich. “The maintainers, once they get working, will forget about everything else that is going on around them.” Fortunately, during the three weeks of Air Warrior, there were no heat casualties.

“This is comparatively an austere environment,” says Major Peter McArdle, 225’s maintenance officer. “It is more austere than Iraq, for instance, in terms of services available and conditions.” McArdle explains that air bases in Iraq, such as Al Asad, which is controlled by U.S. forces, are essentially kept to the same standards as those in the States. “Training in an austere environment is good for the Marines to learn how to operate with limited parts support, limited ground support, smaller ramp space than they’re used to,” says McArdle.

One of the greatest hazards for the Hornets during Air Warrior came from a virtually invisible source: FOD—foreign object debris. A close inspection of the Kuantan flightline reveals chunks of broken concrete every few feet. Most of the pieces are pebble size, but even a paper clip, if sucked into an intake, can destroy the turbine blades of a Hornet’s engines, grounding the craft. Each day of Air Warrior, the Marines spent time doing “FOD sweeps,” shoulder-to-shoulder walks to scan the pavement for debris.

MiG-29s, on the other hand, have special engine intake louvers that block foreign objects, so the Malaysians don’t rank FOD removal nearly as high in priority as U.S. aviation units do.

In Air Warrior engagements, each side consists of one to three aircraft; sometimes the two sides are equally matched and sometimes they are lopsided, with one aircraft, for example, trying to defend itself against two opponents. Regardless of the number of aircraft, all engagements begin the same: After takeoff, the MiGs and Hornets climb to 15,000 feet. Traveling at 350 knots (about 400 mph), they maintain a separation from each other of about a mile. The agreed-upon “hard deck” lies 5,000 feet above ground level; if a fighter flies below 5,000 feet, it has “crashed.” The two sides split, and once out of visual range, the high-G dance begins: Each turns toward the other, with each pilot trying to get a tactical advantage over the other, putting his aircraft in position to fire its weapons. (The U.S. fighters are equipped with Sidewinder missiles stripped of motors and warheads. The MiGs are flying “slick,” without their usual array of air-to-air missiles.)

While each engagement evolves uniquely, both sides follow the same approach: Work the aircraft for all of its advantages over the other, and try to deny the opponent from working his advantages over you. Since the MiG-29 and F/A-18 are fairly evenly matched, victory usually boils down to pilot skill.

“The Americans have better radar, better weapons, so we try to get in close,” says Major Patricia Yapp Syau Yin of the Malaysian air force, recounting a one-on-one engagement she had against a Hornet. “Try to defeat their radar capabilities by doing aggressive moves—zooming in. We have to try to roll in behind them, not roll in front of them. Weapon-wise, software-wise, they are one up. But power-wise, we are one up.” The MiG-29N that the Malaysians fly has a top speed of Mach 2.3 and a climb rate of 65,000 feet per minute; the F/A-18D’s maximum speed is Mach 1.8 with a climb rate of 50,000 feet per minute. The Hornet, however, is a more maneuverable aircraft, with a fly-by-wire control system and more advanced avionics and cockpit displays.

Captain Matt Wieand, a Hornet pilot who flew against Syau Yin, says: “You make the turn in and come into the merge, and you feel the adrenaline. It is like a high-speed chess game, and a little like a dance, that ultimately is all about energy management. You assess the MiG’s status, and if you misjudge the MiG’s energy state or its pilot’s options, you can get killed. You can trade potential energy [altitude] for kinetic energy [speed], and you always have to be thinking ahead. In this business, airspeed is life.”

Just minutes after training to shoot down one another, the MiGs and Hornets fly side by side, refueling. With a para-drogue-tipped fuel hose coursing behind the two refueling pods of a KC-130J Super Hercules, an F/A-18 and a MiG each plug in to refuel, with less than 50 feet separating the tips of the fighters’ wings. Each Hornet fluidly connects to the fuel line; the MiGs, however, which have been retrofitted with NATO standard fueling probes, have a tougher time, though after a few jabs, most of them eventually succeed. “This was my first time [refueling during Air Warrior]—not that good an experience,” says Major Nasruddin Khalid. “I plug in, and the hose disconnected. I tried twice until I reach my bingo fuel, then came back alone.”

Major Josh Vance, the operations officer of the refueling squadron, points out that during some missions, three Hornets and three MiGs were flying just yards from one another off the rear of the tanker while awaiting clearance to connect to the fuel hoses. Tight formation flying, the MiG pilots’ unfamiliarity with the KC-130J and the turbulence patterns generated by its six-blade propellers, and language issues (all Malaysian pilots speak English, but many have strong accents) make for an environment where a mishap—even a disaster—can happen in a fraction of a second.

But in the midst of the high-risk training and detailed coordination of aircraft and ground crews, the Malaysian and American aviators find common ground. “We talk the same language,” says Major Sebastian William of the Malaysian air force, referring to “pilot speak.” “Whatever we talk about is understood by both parties.”

“You have your comedians, your jokers,” says Marine Corps Major Chad Sund. “You have two groups of people who grew up in different cultures, but there are so many similarities.”

By the end of Air Warrior, the Marines had won virtually all of the air-to-air fights (with a few draws). But the Malaysians say they appreciate even the losses. “Every year we learn something new from the Americans,” says Major William. “With the limited number of assets, we can train only so much. Everything that we can take from the Americans, we will take.” The Hornet pilots too value the experience. “Training here is looked at the same way as training back in the States,” says Peter McArdle. “It doesn’t matter if we ‘killed’ everybody. We evaluate how we did and try to determine if and how we could do it better next time.”

Though he has more than 2,000 hours in the Hornet, Shipley was grateful for the opportunity to rack up more air time. “It’s as real as it can get without an AIM-9 actually coming off the rail,” he says. “I was excited. The guy I fought was actually pretty experienced. He was [call sign] Taro. We’re more experienced than [the Malaysian pilots], as we do a lot more practice. But Taro did a lot of out-of-plane maneuvering, not often seen from the Malaysian pilots. He was really good.” Shipley hopes to participate in a future Air Warrior.

“These exercises are tremendously valuable,” says retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters, a global military strategist and author. “They strengthen alliances at both the political and practical levels, but they also allow us to identify and address a wide range of problems in interoperability, from fuel nozzle mismatches to radio incompatibilities—the sort of down-and-dirty details that can make a huge difference in a period of crisis. Human relationships remain critical in 21st century warfare, and these exercises do at least as much to build trust between individuals as they do to rehearse common flight procedures.”

The learning and bond-building will continue, but—starting this year—with new equipment: The Malaysians are replacing their MiG-29s with the newer, more advanced Sukhoi Su-30, a fighter/attack aircraft flown by a number of countries, including some with which the United States has had tense relations (China and Venezuela). While Malaysia is officially neutral, it certainly leans toward friendly these days—due in large measure to Air Warrior.

Writer and photographer Ed Darack wrote the book Victory Point (Berkley, 2009).

A race between F/A-18D Hornets (left) performed against Russian-built MiG-29s

In Malaysia, Marines found out how their F/A-18D Hornets (left) performed against Russian-built MiG-29s

The Hornet has dual turbofan engines

The Hornet has dual turbofan engines that generate a combined thrust of 36,000 pounds.

See a MiG-29 up close

The exercise in Malaysia offered most of the U.S. aviators their first opportunity to see a MiG-29 up close

Practicing aerial refueling

The Malaysian pilots were grateful for the chance to practice aerial refueling

F/A-18Ds seats two

F/A-18Ds are two-seaters: A weapons and sensors officer sits behind the pilot.

Hornet aviators and Malaysian pilots

The Hornet aviators (in beige flight suits) won most of their scrimmages last year against the Malaysian pilots (in green)...

Sukhoi Su-30 replaced the MiGs

...but the Malaysians may improve their record after replacing their MiGs with the more advanced Sukhoi Su-30 (pictured).

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