Thursday, 23 February 2012

Songs that I can't listen without vivid memories of something

I am sure each of us has at least one song that we can’t listen without vivid memories of something that happen throughout the course of our life. And it can make us happy and sad.
For Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State of US, she wrote in her book No Higher Honour that she can’t listen to Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” without vivid memories of the campaign trail with President Bush. Or for my ex-boss Chow Kon Yeow, he once said that each time he listen to the Hokkien song “要拼才会赢 (You have to go all the way to win)”, he will have the memories of his first election campaign and success in 1990.
For me, I actually have four songs that I can’t listen with vivid memories of things that I had gone through in life. The first one is “明天会更好 (Tomorrow will be better)” that was sung by members of the Chinese community in Auckland and I during a fund raising dinner for Prime Minister Helen Clark. Till today, whenever I listen to that song, the memories of Helen Clark holding our hands while we sang that song and the standing ovation by the crowd will emerge clear although that was almost ten years ago.
The second one is the soundtrack of Disney’s Aladdin, the Oscar winning “A whole new world”. A man that I knew at work sent me that song as the attachment in his e-mail asking me to be his girlfriend and he promised me a whole new world together with him. He was very determined but I was unmoved then. He did many things just to have me. He will send roses every alternate day despite me telling him I dislike fresh flowers and all the roses that he sent will end up at the rubbish bin the moment it arrives on my desk. I just can’t forget his foolishness each time I hear that song. Till today he still wishes to be with me. Real foolish man!
The third song is “康定情歌 (The love song from Kangding)”. I went to Kangding which is situated in Sichuan province, China many years ago. The road there from Chengdu was horrible but very rewarding with beautiful sceneries. Kangding was like paradise on earth, so tranquil and quiet and a place where grasslands with daffodils rolled for miles and miles. I do not know how that song became “the song” for me but it just struck. 
Finally, the song that will make me cry each time I listen to it. It used to be PC’s favourtite song because of its meaningful lyrics. During the days when we stay together in New Zealand, she will always play it and as time pass; I come to like it too. When I have first iPhone, I remember she helped me to put that song in it. That song is“以是古人来 (Appearance of someone from those days ) by Anita Mui.
But above all, my favourite song is Shanghai Bund by Francis Yip and Bolero by Ravel but these two songs won’t bring any vivid memories.  

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Heart Attack, Stroke and Haze

In Malaysia, haze has become an annual phenomenon. Come August and September, when our dear neighbor Indonesia starts their open burning “festival”, we feel the chock. I would always advise my overseas friend to avoid visiting Malaysia between these two months to avoid the haze. Then for us whose office is on higher floors, we will feel like we are in heaven with everything looked white and serene outside the window. For years, we have tried to get our neighbor to stop all these open burning but to no avail.
We are much better compared to China where it is hard to see clear skies in major cities. Throughout my many visits to Beijing, the only time I ever see blue skies in Beijing was during the Olympics. I’ve never seen blue skies in Shanghai before. Not even during the World Expo. I asked my Chinese friends about air pollution and they said they are used to it as it is a daily thing. I wonder what the Chinese leaders in Beijing’s Zhongnanhai compound are feeling about haze in Beijing.
Health wise, of course we all know the impact of haze towards our health but haze and heart attack and stroke is something new. I come across this article in TIME issue February 27 by Alice Park, titled “Hazardous Haze” and later I browse for the complete article by her.
I feel that more people should know about this and the following article is extracted from

Air Pollution Linked to Higher Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke
In two separate studies this week, researchers show that exposure to air pollution can boost the odds of heart attack or stroke — by as much as 5% and 34%, respectively.
Previous studies on air pollution and heart attack risk haven’t been very conclusive; some showed a positive link while others found no association and still others suggested that only select pollutants appeared to increase the risk of heart problems. To get a clearer sense of the data, Dr. Hazrije Mustafic, a cardiologist at University Paris Descartes, and her colleagues searched for all previous studies investigating air pollution and heart attacks, and winnowed the list down to the 34 that reliably measured exposure to pollutants and heart events occurring within a day later.
Overall, the researchers found that people exposed to higher levels of particulates and polluting gases, which include carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, were anywhere from 0.5% to 5% more likely to experience a heart attack on the day of that exposure or on the following day.
Exposure to polluted air can damage the heart system in a variety of ways, starting by increasing inflammation, which can destabilize plaques in the heart arteries and trigger heart attacks. Toxic compounds in the air can also increase heart rate and make the heart less responsive when it needs to pump more or less blood, and slow down the circulatory system as a whole by making the blood thicker and more viscous.
In a separate study led by Gregory Wellenius at Brown University, scientists found that exposure to elevated levels of pollutants typically emitted by cars and trucks could trigger a stroke within hours. Even more disturbing was the fact that the risky levels were lower than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s danger zone for poor air quality; on all the days included in the study, the air quality, measured by the level of fine particulates from car exhaust, wood burning and power plant or manufacturing emissions, was considered satisfactory or moderate, meaning it posed potential health problems only to a small group of people.
To measure the link between air quality and stroke risk, researchers looked at patients who were admitted with stroke at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center between 1999 and 2008 and then correlated their hospital admissions with fine particulate readings from the Harvard School of Public Health’s ambient air monitoring station, located near the hospital campus and within 13 miles of 90% of the stroke patients’ homes.
According to the data, the risk of stroke was 34% higher after a 24-hour period of moderate air quality, in which concentrations of fine particulates measured 15-40 micrograms per cubic meter of air, compared with periods following a day of good air quality, in which the particulate concentration was less than 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Peak stroke risk occurred at about 12 hours after exposure to moderate quality air.
Our leaders should start to act tough with Indonesia - the haze exporter. No more excuse.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

My philosophy about not having kid

Somewhere in 2005, I was going through a bad time in life and it was the lowest period in life my life. I was having a very bad working relationship with my manager. That time, I just join the firm, so is she, coming over from Agilent Technologies in Penang. I was not recruited by her but by my boss. Whatever that I did was wrong to her eyes and we just come see one another eye to eye even after mediation by my boss. All I knew was she wanted me to resign badly and disappear from her eyes.
But at that time I was lucky that I had the support of my boss and that helped me to regain my strength. In the end, I was very hostile to her. I do not even speak to her or give her a look. In meetings, when I felt that she said the wrong thing, I told her straight without giving her face, even in front of the boss. She made me so mad that whenever my team members or I discover her doing something wrong, we spread it wide, we discredit her and at the end, the whole team can’t even see her without saying something bad about her. I survived but she left not long after that to return to work in Agilent.
During that period, and also looking back at what happened to me since childhood, I just come to conclusion that it is very tired of becoming a human being and we have so many burdens behind us. I still hold this view now. We have to face the boss, the colleagues, family members, and evil people and so on. Then we have to struggle with work, with money, with families, with people and many more struggles. I have to say that I am lucky that I never have to worry about mortgage, car loan and many more that the working class always worries about but I still have to struggle with many things. The struggles seem to come one after another almost always without giving us a break. Some say this is the challenge of life but I think the challenge should not be like this!
Why God let us come into this world to face all these difficulties in life?  All my colleagues and friends shared the same view.  
A good friend, Steven started it all by saying that he feels tired of life and lamented that why our parents never ask our permissions before bringing us to this difficult world? That statement registered in my mind. Yeah, why we were never asked?
I know this sounds controversial to some but I made up my mind. Why bring someone into this world without asking the person’s opinion? Since we have no choice back then but I have a choice now, that is, since I can’t ask, I might as well don’t bring anyone into this world. This becomes my philosophy when it comes to having children.
Then there came the death of my close friend and her sufferings. Not only had she suffered but her close friends suffered too. Losing a close friend or family members is a very painful medicine to swallow. Again, why God bring her to this world and let her suffer and leave this way? Was she asked before she came into this world? It only affirmed my affirmation about bringing a person into this world without the person’s opinion.
Nothing can change this philosophy.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Beware when you rent your property out!

A few days ago, a colleague of mine returned from the Federal Court in Putrajaya with some advice that she asked us to share with friends. A senior judge had apparently told her that recently there is huge increase in cases on going and pending in court regarding foreigners from a particular country (I am not going to name that country but if you do follow news, you will know) doing illegal activities in Malaysia from drugs to money laundering to falsification of documents.
But the point the judge want to stress is that many property owners end up having trouble with the authority when the properties that they rent out to those foreigners were used in doing  illegal activities.
We are aware that many property owners usually do not check much further after they rent their property out and they are not really aware of what these people are doing. Some even let the agents to settle everything without even meeting their prospective tenant. I know that a lot of people feel happy that their property is rented out and they do not care much after that as long as the receive payments on time.
 Many tenants claimed to be students or business expatriates or etc. but we do not know if they are here for something illegal. As a note caution, check carefully before you rent your property out. Maybe it is good to check with the university or company that they claim they are attached with to confirm their authenticity. And also it is good to do spot check on your property once a while to see what they are doing with your property. Worst case scenario, property owners can be convicted alongside the culprits or have your property confiscated by the authority.
It is always good to be cautious. Do not let one day when the police ring on your door bell only for you to regret. Please help to spread this message to your friends. Together, we can make difference.
PS: I would like to share a story that happened to my family that had a quite similar scenario. Many years ago my grandfather shared a piece of plantation land with his friend. Those days, my grandfather would always put his sons as the owners of his plantations or properties. On his friend’s side, his friend put one of his brothers as the co-owners.Not long later, my grandfather’s friend’s brother was accused of being a drug dealer. I do not know what happen next to his brother but what I knew was the police was investigating my family and asked us to produce proof for many things to assert that we are not aware of the drugs activities and we are innocent. We are lucky that we have the documentations to prove the source of income that enable us to buy the plantation and the police was convinced that we are innocent. Since then our whole family learned a good lesson never to buy any properties on a sharing basis between friends. I was still in primary school then but lesson lingers on. Always be cautious when it involved properties be it you share it with friends or you rent it out.

Anyone interested in buying Putrajaya ?

About 13 years ago, a man named Fadzil Noor, who was then President of PAS said that if one day PAS ever becomes the government of Malaysia, PAS will sell Putrajaya. He said that Putrajaya was a money wasting project and the money is better used for to build hospitals, schools, housing for the poor and many more.
Fast forward today, what an irony that we kept listening that Pakatan Rakyat which consists of PAS wants to capture Putrajaya, a place that they wanted to sell. Fadzil Noor is no longer around to answer us this question whether PAS still want to sell Putrajaya, so I will direct this question to his successor Hadi Awang.
So, do PAS still want to sell Putrajaya? PKR and DAP okay with selling it? Because I do remember not only PAS said it is a money wasting project, white elephant and so on, but Anwar and DAP do said so too.
If PR decided to sell it, I am sure many are interested to buy it but before that please let the rakyat to have a look inside all the government buildings and also the Prime Minister’s official residence. The rakyat want to confirm how many rooms are there in Seri Perdana because Dr Mahathir said that it was built for Anwar’s family. Also, the rakyat want to see the interior of what Dr Mahathir said of the “fourth floor” of the PM’s office during Abdullah’s administration. It is widely said that the “fourth floor” is the cause for Abdullah’s downfall.

No more cinemas in Malaysia soon?

Is PAS having the intention to bring us backwards towards pre civilizations lifestyle without any entertainment and celebrations because they think that all kind of entertainment and celebrations will lead to immoral activities such as free sex? Or they want to take us to become like Afghanistan when it was controlled by Taliban?
First they target entertainment activities such as calling for ban of certain international singers from singing in Malaysia and also ban of traditional Malay dances. Next, they want to ban celebrations not only Valentine’s Day but others too. From their statement that all public holidays will lead to free association and then free sex, I think maybe they want ban all kind of celebrations in Malaysia including National Day, Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Labour Day and any public holidays.
Now, they want to ban cinemas in Malaysia. For a long time, cinemas does not goes well with PAS leaders and in PAS controlled state such as Kelantan, you have to watch movie in cinema with lights on. The latest call from PAS MP for Bangi for the ban of a cinema in his constituency is latest true colour of PAS that they intend to ban all cinemas in Malaysia!
Today, I start to think that even if Anwar and not someone from PAS becomes the next Prime Minister of Malaysia if Pakatan Rakyat captured Putrajaya in the coming General Elections, we will no longer see cinemas in Malaysia. Why? Based on Anwar’s silence so far, we know he is already a PAS’s “yes” man.
You think DAP will voice out their objection in favour of cinemas and other issues? From Lim Guan Eng and Lim Kit Siang’s silence on Valentine Day issue, you know they will continue to keep silence. Kit Siang is not someone that will keep quiet if he saw something that is not right or irked him. Yes, DAP managed to govern Penang well from what I saw in Penang and I gave my praise to them about it but on important national issues, they fail us.
I do wish for such a day to happen that fellow Malaysians and I can no longer enjoy movies in cinemas because they are no cinemas to go. What more, I believe fellow Malaysian and I do not wish to go backwards when the whole world is moving forward. Even the Afghans want to move forward! 

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Happy Valentine Day to all my dear friends

This may be the last time all of us can celebrate this special day that dedicates our love to the person we love because if Pakatan Rakyat captured Putrajaya in the coming General Elections, they will ban this celebration.

The reason is simple, if PR captured Putrajaya, someone from PAS will be the Prime Minister of Malaysia with the support of DAP if PKR failed to get the majority seats. They have done this in Perak where they let someone from PAS to be the Menteri Besar and they are happy playing second fiddle.
From PAS’s record, they seem want to ban all concerts and celebrations held in Malaysia because they think it encourages free sex. PAS Youth Chief, Nasrudin Hassan in an interview with Philip Golingai of The Star said that all free association happens on public holidays even on Independent Day and that will led to free sex. What a statement!!!
So, should Independent Day and all public holidays including Chinese New Year, Christmas, Deepavali and others be banned when PR comes into power because free associations will happen on all these days and to PAS’s thinking, it will leads to free sex?

Make your choice today!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Lessons from Chinese Calligraphy

My prized and favourite collection.

Collecting Chinese Calligraphy and practicing Chinese Calligraphy are my favourite past time. From the theme fonts of the calligraphy and the words inscribed, usually in the form of poems or verses, we can learn a big deal about the richness of the Chinese language and also lessons for life.

Like Roman Character with different theme fonts, Chinese character were also written in different theme fonts or some calligrapher developed their own font style. Most of the time, the words used are hard to translate into English or when translated, the whole meaning of a verse might be different.

My own way of writing "道" which means "the way" and Chinese brushes craved with my name that I use for my writing.

As you have read in my previous post, I learned to write Chinese Calligraphy from my Chinese tutor in New Zealand. I found that practicing calligraphy at night is the best time for me to relax, reflect on what I’ve done for day, and memorize Chinese characters and poems. But the most important of all, I found that it taught me to be patient as you need to write a character stroke by stroke.

Throughout my many visits to Beijing and other parts of China, I have collected a great deal of calligraphies from famous masters to calligraphers at the night market. Usually I will dictate the words that I would like them to write but occasionally I buy their famous work like Master Bai Shuan's (白树安) 舍得诗 (Generosity Poem).
Not to miss out my other favourite calligrapher: my idol – Chairman Mao. The Chairman’s calligraphy is a very unique one with his own style that others can’t copy. I can only admire his calligraphy from pictures. How I wish I have a copy of his work !!
Those who have been to my house knew that most of the spaces available are filled by calligraphies or Chinese paintings. I will usually rotate them like museum displays.  On this blog, I am going to share with you one of my favourite calligraphy with Generosity poem (舍得诗)
舍得, 舍得,有舍才有得。

Friday, 10 February 2012

Hew Kuan Yau: Another mad man in town to join the sons of Ali

It seems like the sons of Ali, Datuk Hasan Ali and Datuk Ibrahim Ali have another person to join them in the mad men’s club. These two sons of Ali are well known in town for their mad ideas in the name of protecting Malays, Islam and Royal Institution and they behave as if they have got more than a few screws loose in his head.
Well, now they are joined by another person from another race whom everyone believes also has got more than a few screws loose in his head. He doesn’t claim to champion any rights but he is just as mad as the two sons of Ali because he like to use four letter words at every opportune and gave other people vulgar names.
The person is Hew Kuan Yau, the elections preparations publicity chief of DAP.
This time he had posted on his Facebook alleging that journalists who work together with Barisan Nasional are prostitutes. This is a terrible insult to journalists and he questioned their professionalism. No doubt there are journalists that are pro BN and some that are pro PR but in this country they are free to voice their view and it is not totally true that the press is controlled. He had probably forgotten that the journalists also play an important role that had helped DAP and PR to power.
When I was in DAP, I had good relationships with journalists from all newspaper and magazines even though I knew some of them are really pro BN. Some of them even wrote negative remarks about me but I never harbor any hard feelings against them. There are also some that always wrote positive reviews about me and even devoted two full coloured pages for my feature. I continue to be good to them even after I had moved to MCA. Some of these journalists become good friends even though they are pro PR.
Hew Kuan Yau had in the past during ceramah called our Tourism Minister “Nightclub Mummy”, called MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek as “soh hai” in Cantonese which means stupid cunt and also to call his family “pok kai ham ka chan” in Cantonese which means “dam to death your whole family”. He'd also called Rosmah " sei fei h**" (big cunt). Even though I do not quite like Dear Mama and have my equal share of dislike towards Ng Yen Yen, calling people with such names is just below dignity.  
I am very sure that this man who was previously Lim Kit Siang’s political secretary with PhD from Chinese University of Hong Kong is mad. Probably he had studied too hard for his PhD that resulted in mental disorder. Or as they Chinese like to say "sort pluck". A normal man in politics would not use vulgar words against opponents.
I wonder why no disciplinary action has been taken by the DAP against him? Double standard practice or DAP has turned into a party that can accept cursing by its leaders?  What will happen if someone curse Lim Kit Siang and his family with what Hew had cursed Dr Chua Soi Lek? I can tell you they will make the hell out of it. Or if you curse Lim Guan Eng, you'll probably be seeing him in court for defamation. 
Dear readers who are also voters, do you want to vote for the party that tolerates cursing of other people by its elections preparations publicity chief? If you bring your child along to attend DAP ceremah, don’t be surprise they will curse at home. Cursing is just not in our culture. Good speakers like Kit Siang, Guan Eng, Nga Kor Ming (whom oratory skills I admire very much), Teng Chang Khim and many more from the DAP do not need vulgar words to draw thousands to their ceramah. 

You may the next target to be cursed “pok kai ham ka chan” if you choose not to vote for the DAP or PR.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Migrants from Myanmar and their roles in a Chinese temple

This morning some colleagues and I went to a famous Chinese temple in the heart of Kuala Lumpur (the temple is as old as Kuala Lumpur) to pray to the Tiger God (Hor Yah in Hokkien) to ward off petty and bad people (小人) from disturbing us and to ensure that everything that we do goes on smoothly. It is said that today is the day that the temple of the Tiger God in heaven is opening again after closing throughout Chinese New Year.
We have seen migrants from Myanmar at hawker centers monopolying the cooking and serving, taking over the job from locals, they are at construction sites, they do car wash, they sell pirated DVDs, and they do peddle jobs selling stuffs at hawker centers and restaurants and many more. There was even a saying that Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur is no longer Chinatown as most of the people doing the selling and serving there are from Myanmar and it should be called “Myanmartown”.
Well, to my bewildered eyes, they take over temple jobs too which were previously only dominated by the Chinese. The person selling joss sticks and joss papers at the counter is from Myanmar and he speaks fluent Cantonese. Those who upkeep the temple are from Myanmar as well. There were some Chinese which we supposed were the caretaker of the temple sitting at one corner of the temple chatting among them and occasionally gave orders to the migrants.
I then told of one the Chinese that we want to pray to the Tiger God and he ordered us to another corner of the temple where the God is situated. Over there, two Myanmar migrants took charge, instructing us what to do with the joss papers and praying materials.
After that came the ceremony where we were required to knee in front of the Tiger God where usually the Chinese temple caretaker will chant something akin to warding off bad people, evil spirit and the famous “打你的小人” in Cantonese a few times which means “hit on you the bad people”. I fully expect the Chinese temple caretaker will come to do this but to my biggest surprise in life, this was done by the migrant from Myanmar, chanting fluently without a miss word albeit with some Myanmar slang. Oh my God! Should I say this is how globalized we are or how dependent we are to foreign workers?
My friends and I left the temple in shock and disbelieve but we can’t help laughing all the way back to office and throughout lunch. We joked that probably in the near future we will see them taking over the role of “temple medium” on which it is said that the God entered the medium to communicate with people who seek the God’s help. Maybe they will also able to interpret the divination stick that I mention in one of the previous post. Well, who knows if we will be right?

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dream on for Singapore to join Malaysia.

I was not in Bangi to listen to the recently expelled Selangor State Exco Member and Selangor State Pas Commissioner Datuk Hasan Ali saying to the crowd of about 1000 people that if Pakatan Rakyat forms the federal government, Singapore will be back into Malaysia’s fold. But when I read it on paper, I almost fall off my chair.
What utter rubbish! I think this man needs to see a psychiatrist for mental problem by saying that it is DAP’s conspiracy and after the merger, Malaysia will be a republic. Probably he can’t take his sacking and that resulted him in having hallucinations about Malaysia will be a republic, Islam will be cast aside and so on. This man also once wishes that he will be the Menteri Besar of Selangor back in 1999. Since his sacking, he is really behaving like a mad man.
For once I agree with Lim Kit Siang that Hasan Ali has got more than a few screws loose in his head.
Even if we want merger with Singapore, I doubt they will want a merger with us and Malaysia will never be a republic. Singaporean today are different from the Singaporeans of the 1960s when Singapore merge with Malaysia for a short period. Back then they really need us to survive.
They are different today and they see Malaysia like we see Vietnam or Cambodia because they are so much advanced than us. And also they have formed their own national identity. They no longer need us to survive. In return, many Malaysians depend on Singapore for survival.
All Malaysian's love and respect for the Royal Institution is deep and unchallenged except for few from a political party that have mental problem like Hasan Ali. One of the leaders of that party even want to sue a Sultan in court after Pakatan Rakyat lost a state they controlled.
So for Hasan Ali, check your facts before you say something to prove that you are not mad. Or if you can’t, you can continue to dream on and spin your conspiracy theory to whomever that likes to listen to a mad man like you. But for rational people like us, he is just someone that we should ignore. Well, once a while we have mad man like him and clown like Ibrahim Ali and his Perkasa. What an irony, when a friend asked are both of them brothers since both father’s name is Ali.
Spin more Hasan Ali. The more you spin, the more your once arch enemy UMNO and Barisan Nasional will gain from your spinning.

Friday, 3 February 2012

More Chinese than the China Chinese

 “You are more Chinese than the China Chinese and you know Chinese history, cultures and traditions much better than us” (“你比我们中国人更象一个中国人。你比我们更懂加理解中华历史,文化连传统。”) , said a China friend of mine during one of my visits there recently. She also added: “We had forgotten much of our cultures and traditions. Most of it lost during the Cultural Revolution” (“我们也忘了很多中华文化和传统,很多是在文化大革命的时候”). She is not the first person who said this. I have heard this from many of my China Chinese friends. I am humbled by their praise but my journey towards learning Mandarin and Chinese history, cultures and traditions was not easy.
Since young, I was sent to English medium kindergarten. Then I went to Convent primary and secondary where the medium of teaching was English and Malay. Then I proceed on to New Zealand and I know very few words of Chinese until I was 20. At home, I speak Hokkien (my native dialect) and English with my parents, aunties, uncles and cousins and Hokkien with my grandparents. Back then I only know my name (慧怡) and simple words like “" (you) and “” (me).  
One of the science books that I read during my secondary school wrote that pain and shock release neuropeptides in the brain and it stamped the experience into the brain cells to make sure that it will be remember for a long time. My experiences with language especially when I am with Chinese from China and Taiwan during my first semester in New Zealand are vividly imprinted in my mind and these experiences only spurred up my baptism to master Mandarin.
It was also at this time that I feel I am neither here nor there in my roots whenever I have conversations with the Chinese. I was not well tutored in my Chinese cultures, yet not part of the westerner culture either. I was lost and I knew I have to find my roots or else I will not belong to anywhere.
I was lucky that I found my saviour. He is Professor Teng Rong Jin from Taiwan who was my lecturer in World History and he wrote beautiful Chinese calligraphy. (He professed that he is a pro-China Taiwanese) I approached Prof. Teng to teach me Mandarin after lecture hours. He agreed to this and I go to his house three times a week from 7pm to 10 pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for Mandarin lessons.
He started with teaching me pronunciation using Tang dynasty poems (many of which I can still memorise) and then proceed with teaching me with the writing using calligraphy brush (I still master them till this day). After three months I can speak Mandarin fluently and can write basic characters. From there he teaches me Song dynasty prose, the four books, Confucian studies, Chinese history and many more. He taught me for more than 2 years.
My Chinese studies opened my mind to the richness of Chinese literature and culture. I developed a fascination with the new world I discovered and I go deeper and deeper into it. It became a lifelong study and research. It has also brought me to all corners of China no matter how remote the place is in my quest to see for myself the historical sites and cultural relic leftover by five thousand years of civilisations.
I have also started to love Chinese stuffs such as paintings, calligraphies, porcelains and furniture. (Today my house is all full of those stuffs plus statues and pictures of Chairman Mao, statues of Red Guards in various actions made during the Cultural Revolution and purple clay teapots)
Prof. Teng was strict but he was very helpful and encouraging. He was also the one who gave me my first Little Red Book of Chairman Mao’s quotations. My admiration for the Chairman was also developed from there. Till today, Prof. Teng and I still keep in good touch.
When I return from New Zealand, I was a different person with fluency in English, Malay and Mandarin and I discovered my Chinese roots and its world. Perhaps my Chinese friends are right; I am more Chinese than I knew, I am more Chinese than the Chinese themselves.
However, no matter how they may say about the Chinese I am, I am a Malaysian first and Chinese second. My motherland is Malaysia and not China and I am proud to be Malaysian.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

In Praise of the Penang State Government

Before I start this blog, I have to state clear that I am a MCA member and my loyalty to MCA is absolute and this blog should not be used to question my loyalty to MCA and its leaders.
Penang holds a special place in my heart although these days I would prefer to stay in Singapore or Melbourne. It is also the first place where I worked after returning from New Zealand, instead of Kuala Lumpur. I was in Penang recently during the Chinese New Year this year with my parents to visit friends and relatives. It is my 4th visit to Penang after Pakatan Rakyat (PR) or I should say DAP took over the state government and Lim Guan Eng becomes its chief minister.
Guan Eng knew to use his political skills to the best to win the hearts of the Penang people but he is also good at misleading them such as into thinking that the state had settled the loan on its own. The state was only able to record a positive budget because it shifted its RM630mil debt to the Federal Government. This was exposed by our Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Donald Lim. But Lim also scored a political point by renaming Jelutong Expressway to Tun Lim Chong Eu Expressway in hope to win over Gerakan hard cores. I had known him and his father, Lim Kit Siang since my days in DAP.
Politics aside, I have to admit that I am impressed with the improvement of Penang with each time of my visit after the March 8 political tsunami. The streets are much cleaner now. Hawker centers run by Penang Municipal Council are much organized and clean. The roads are better paved. The landscaping is also so much better. The ferry terminals on both side of the Straits were so much cleaner now.The buses that double parked near the ferry terminal is now gone. The Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone and Prai Industrial Park is much livelier now with factories humming compared to lots of empty factories before this.
The biggest change I see for myself is the cleanup of Gurney Drive where I used to stay. The terrible smell from the dirty mud created by a land reclamation project near Tanjung Tokong is now gone. Nine years ago, when I was staying there, every day I had to endure the terrible smell till until after a while I actually vomit every morning when I wake up to that kind of smell.
The next big change is the terrible smell of industrial waste being let down into the sea at the Penang Bridge toll plaza is gone now. Previously, the smell greeted visitors to Penang Island and said good bye to them if they travel via the bridge. They issues that my former comrades and I used to bring up against the BN government were actually picked up by the PR state government and they did something to improve the wrongs. All these are stark differences that the people can feel.
Where Koh Tsu Koon failed as the Chief Minister, Guan Eng succeeded. However, other PR states governments were all failures with Selangor leading the pack. Ask Tan Sri Khalid, what had he done to Selangor ?
However, there are more to be done such as making Jalan Kelawai and Gurney Drive one way street to ease the congestion that occur even on weekends. It will be much better if they state government can revive the tram system in Gorgetown to ease congestion as well. Trams used to be part of Penang before World War 2.
It was like walking down a memory lane for me after leaving Penang for good 8 years ago except that the path is so much better now. I hope that other states control by BN as well as the federal government will learn a lesson from Penang and improve their administration and also listen to the rakyat before being kicked out by the people like what happened to Koh Tsu Koon’s state government.