Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Adieu 2014, Annus Horribilis!!

An intimate portrait of myself in reflection - photo credit to Ng Miew Luan.

In 36 hours’ time, we will bid farewell to 2014 – a year full of unforgettable events not only on the personal side to me but to my motherland, Malaysia as well as to the world in general. 2014 is not the year that I will forget, though not all bad, it has turned out to be annus horribilis.

Each quarter of 2014 consists of unforgettable loss that will remain in me throughout this lifetime. It starts with the disappearance of MH 370 during the first quarter. On the second quarter, my beloved daddy passed away unexpectedly. During the third quarter, Malaysia was hit with another disaster of MH 17 and finally, just days that we thought we will look forward for the sunny days of 2015, another aviation disaster hit close to home involving Air Asia while bracing for Malaysia’s worst flood in history.

2014 is the year that I see clearly the good and the bad in people, especially those who call themselves friends and relatives. Daddy’s passing exposed me to the hard truth of who are your true relatives who cry together and who are those that will only share laughter but not tears. I do wish to hide my disgust at certain relatives who only stick on during the good days as well as those few who think it is their duty to be involved influencing the decisions that my brothers and I made. To this group of people, my only kind word to them is, please leave us alone and please do not try to change my mother and the way we conduct our family affairs.

2014 also serve as a reminder that I should always be thankful to God for blessing me with wonderful friends and colleagues who did their best to make me bounce back as soon as possible whenever I face any setback. It is also amazing to see how everyone get together to render their generosity at the mere mention that some other friend whom they have not even met need help. I am also humbled by the many important lessons that I learn from them, be it big or small, the camaraderie of members of the New Movement group and my brothers and sisters from MCA. Last but not least, I have to say my thanks to the team from Shanghai Restaurant at J.W.Marriott Hotel, Kuala Lumpur that took good care of my every gastronomic needs and quest for perfection.

On another personal side, everything was smooth sailing at work and my career path is on track and I am very fortunate to have a very understanding boss who gave me a free hand in making important decisions as well as my dedicated group of colleagues, for without them, things may not go as smoothly as planned. 2014 were full of interesting new cases and challenges but I am not at liberty to disclose them.

Finally, I would like to close this chapter in life with a note of optimism that tomorrow will always be better. For there are downs, there are bound to be ups. Air travel is still the safest mode of travelling despite the multiple tragedies, and I’ve clocked considerable amount of air miles in 2014 for work and holiday, starting with Guilin and ending with Shanghai and many other cities  in between. As always, books are my best companion, having achieved more than my aim with 55 books read in this span of 12 months. 

Adieu 2014, and I look forward to 2015, may it be annus mirabilis

Friday, 12 December 2014

A memorable birthday 难忘的生日

An exquisite masterpiece by Shanghai Restaurant, JW Marriott Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.  
I am deeply touched and honored by the birthday dinners, luncheons, messages, gifts and the efforts by each of you to celebrate my birthday this year to make it a wonderful and memorable one. No details however small were missed out on yes and no when it comes to food, especially on my allergy to eggs, thus enable me to have cakes baked without eggs, fruits platter with all my favorite fruits in it and air flown melon all the way from Hokkaido and how can I miss out, the selection of birthday gifts that I know aren’t easy for someone fussy like me. Last but not least, the message of best wishes from all of you; which I am very certain that it will all come to realization.  

Home sweet home and here, I am comfortable in cotton shirt and pant. 
And finally, today, I am back, in hometown to have a simple belated birthday dinner with my family members. It is another feeling all together when I see mummy, my spoilt rotten cat Baron and all the beautiful bonsai trees. I look forward for tea and reading at my little heaven – the balcony before leaving for Shanghai and Hangzhou soon.

Once again, thank you very much for everything rendered during this auspicious occasion of my birthday. I am blessed to have all of you, all the wonderful people around me. 

感谢,感恩 ! 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The car is found; kudos to the police force. 谢谢,弟弟的车已经找到。

Dear friends,

My family and I would like to inform you that the Royal Malaysia Police Force found my brother’s missing Ford Fiesta during the wee hours on 2rd December at Masai, Johor. The car was in good condition except for minor scratches. We would like to thank everyone, especially the police force for the help in recovering this car as well as to friends and relatives for helping to share the message on the missing car.

For the naysayers out there who doubt the ability of our police force, I think this incident is a good spokesman for the ability of our men in blue. Less than three days after we lodge a police report, we were told to travel to Masai to take the car home. The process was quick (less than an hour) and the policemen were very helpful in guiding us to the nearest petrol kiosk and workshop for us to ensure the car is able to be driven back to Kuala Lumpur. To be honest, even I was quite surprised at this quick find. 

Once again, thank you very much. 



Sunday, 30 November 2014

My brother’s car was stolen yesterday 弟弟的车给人偷了

A caption of the stolen car. 
Dear friends,

My brother’s car, a black Ford Fiesta Limited Edition with Red Stripes was stolen yesterday29November2014 afternoon at Mutiara Damansara in front of 99 SpeedMart. The suspect is an Indian guy according to passerby. 
Thank you.


昨天午时,1129日,我弟弟的车,一辆黑色的Ford Fiesta Limited EditionMutiara Damansara, 99 SpeedMart 前门的路给人偷了。

P/s: we have found the car, thanks. 

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Our first holiday together in 2014

It will soon be six months since daddy left us unexpectedly and I can proudly said that my mother as well as my siblings are coping very well. We’d moved forward from the moments of anguish, emptiness, sadness, all that you can name when a love one suddenly departs, in fact, the recovery is much faster than expected because we all believe that this is what dad want to see from us when he is seeing from a better place that separate us the mortals and the immortals.

I would have to attribute this strong part in all of us to my mom – a very strong willed mom that turned daddy’s love into courage, determination and perpetual happiness. Friends often asked me how mom is coping, is she well? My answer will always be this: “when you hear her talking about investments, tours and beauty products, you’ll know that she is well.” Nevertheless, daddy’s image will make its appearance in us most of the time and it will always be.

Two weeks ago, mom and I embarked on our first holiday together in 2014. The destination this year is South Korea. An annual trip with mom and dad is a must for us, thus, it is no difference this time around. We were supposed to be on a trip to Hokkaido for the lavender, with dad but I’d made a mental note that I will be there next year with mom. I’d never like South Korea ever since my first visit some eight years back. I never like K-pop or Korean drama. I turn nauseated at the smell of kimchi. I never enjoy Korean cuisine except for the barbeque provided that the meat is not marinated.

But off I went there as a tourist again with mom. She’d always wanted to visit this place and I will never cease to say that if you’d visited Japan, South Korea is probably a miniature for you to discourage her. I do have my supporters among her friends who can’t resist complaining about the food yet at the same time were in all praises for Made in Korea cosmetics and beauty products. Unlike our trip to Turkey where we went with 60 cups of Maggi Curry instant noddle, we didn’t repeat it this time knowing that mom is never picky about food unlike daddy and me. I told mom that, worse come to worse, we will just have KFC.

The trip was a happy one for her – as always, not about the places of interest but shopping. From Jeju Island to Seoul and along the way, she just kept adding more and more facial and cosmetic products. I just can’t help wondering; didn’t they have other things to sell besides that? It is a whole nation on steroid about beauty, regardless of gender. While the world is concerned about Kim Jong Un, his temporary disappearance and whether will he send a missile across the DMZ to Seoul, South Koreans are busy thinking about what cosmetic to apply next or which part of their face that still needs another round of cosmetic surgery. What a funny nation!

How about me? I was delighted with the autumn colors, catching up with my reading while mom is busy shopping. However, when it comes to the amount of money spent, I topped mom for I splurge on boxes of Korean ginseng tonics and a nice set of silk sheet for my tatami bed that comes with exquisite embroidery, something that I can’t get in China.  

With a few trips lining up in December, I hope mom will join me for some of them. At the end the day, what delights me the most is not the beautiful colors of autumn or the skyscrapers and neon lights of Singapore and Shanghai (where I am heading next and next) but to see mom’s laughter and the happiness in her face. Ah yes, how can I leave out, the thrill in her when she spread out her shopped items at home.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Patience and art of cultivating mini bonsai

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything that you need - Marcus Tullius Cicero

Oh my dear bonsai, thou are like a like pampered spoilt rotten pet, like Baron, that needs high maintenance, difficult to control, constantly in need of mollycoddling and expensive the acquire! However, cultivating bonsai, especially the miniature ones teaches me one thing valuable that money can’t buy: patience. Besides that, the satisfaction and sense of achievement when a bonsai trees acquired certain shape after careful training are beyond words to describe.

For the past few months, I have been tending to various shapes, sizes and types of bonsai trees with the help of Uncle Eng Hooi and I have taken particular liking for the miniature Juniperus Chinesis. I am thankful to Uncle Hooi for his very generous help in selecting the trees and the training of the trees. Without him, I doubt I will be able to do much based on knowledge from books. He should be crowned the walking encyclopedia of bonsai!

The main allure of miniature bonsai is to create the perfect versions of what the tree would look like as the adult and matured tree. It takes years to for a bonsai to mature and take shape but even the best care cannot guarantee the ideal results. Therefore, patience is a must when tending to these precious trees. Bonsai also adopts a very Zen () concept (not surprising since its creators are Zen masters) with its “less is more” minimalist philosophy. More green leaves do not mean it is a nice tree. A note here to my beloved mom, don't frown when I trim daddy's bonsai to what you call "botak", LOL. 

Here are some of my minis Juniperus Chinesis captured through the lenses. They are not considered matured and it will take years before they do on which by then I am not sure what shape they will developed into. Patience, the essence for timeless perfection, with these trees I learned. 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

An unusual proposal for marriage (运用元曲,碧玉箫求婚 )

At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet - Plato

As we were enjoying tea this afternoon, a very close friend of mine received an email from her boyfriend. To her bewilderment, the content of the email is a full script of Green Jade Flute, a Yuan Dynasty Song by the famous Guan Hanqing. Guan was one of the greatest poets during his era and it was said that Green Jade Flute was written by him to express his wish to be made man and wife with a beautiful maiden. I am not sure if my friend will say yes or no to his proposal for marriage but she kindly asked me to translate this beautifully written piece and share it on my blog.

What an unusual and romantic way to propose!  Plato is so right that at the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet and I would like to add that, these poetry are all the author's magnum opus. 

碧玉箫        关汉卿者



Green Jade Flute by Guan Hanqing, Yuan Dynasty

With zither on my knees,
I am moved to think the faraway you, my dear.
My fingers play with ease,
On zither strings the melody so clear.
The moon is bright as I see from my window;
Beyond the balustrade fresh is the night.
A touch on the shine,
Would make the poets’ verve freer.
O Hear!
From the water there comes no sound.
Silence begins to reign all around.

At the banquet,
Before a cup of wine,
Beside the flower, beneath the willow,
For years you’ve written fine verses and I’ve sung.
But we still have no chance to share to quilt and pillow.
What before others dare I say?
I can only pray,
Though every day we meet,
O Heaven!
Which day,
Can we be man and wife?

Sunday, 26 October 2014

I only own 5 pairs of shoes

Out of the blue yesterday afternoon, a colleague whatsapp me asking me if I have in mind to buy any designer brands from Italy because a good friend of ours is heading to there for work cum holiday. I told him my mind is blank at the moment.

“Shoes? Handbags?” he asked.  
“No, do not intend to buy any pair of shoes since I still have one that is still nicely wrapped in the box which I bought almost a year ago.”
“Oh! Really? How many pairs of shoes do you own?”
“Only five??” he asked in astonishment.

I can understand his astonishment because it is rather hard to believe that a friend from the opposite sex only own 5 pairs when most girls will tell you that they have at least 20 pairs from different design and makers. Yes, I only own 5 pairs! In fact, my late father had more pairs than me and my mother is a shoes aficionado. Hardly a trip to the shopping mall goes without either one of them going home with a new pair of shoes.  I lost count of the number of pairs of shoes that my mother keep but I am certain that though it can’t match that of the legendary Imelda Marcos and till it was reported recently, the 1000 pairs that belongs to the soon to be former wife of Tan Sri Khoo Kay Peng, it is quite “near”.

I inherited plenty good genes and traits from my parents but definitely not their zest for fashion and shoes. I will splurge on books, fine dining, Yixing purple clay teapots, Chinese tea, travel, antiques and of late on bonsai trees but I am modest with my spending on clothes, shoes and zero on cosmetics. When it comes to fashion, I always wonder why there seems to be two things in my mind – a time machine that travels back to early 20th century and a calculator for durability and comfort at any cost. Thus, with that comes a simple wardrobe filled with my favorite mandarin collar tops and an even simpler shoe rack.

Though simple, I am “guilty” of being very loyal to only one tailor and the selected few brands. So, back to my five pair of shoes that my colleague is so interested to know; which I promised to share, I have a pair of Timberland for various outdoor usage and four pairs of Bally, one which is still in the box. Of the three pairs of Bally, they range between 8 years old to 3 years old and the three of them are still in very good condition. My mom used to balk at me for spending thousands of dollars on a pair of shoes and a silk top but if I am to calculate the durability and comfort, I would say it is worth the money spent. When I explained the mathematics to daddy and after owning his first pair of Bally, he concurred. 

Strange? Sometimes, I felt that too. However, my philosophical mind would tell me that everyone has different priorities on their spending and there is nothing wrong with it. It takes all sorts to make a world and I choose to the boring and dull one with regards to fashion. More than often, close friends will give some friendly advice that men like girls with a bit of makeup and sexier clothing to which I would replied that I would rather a man that take a liking for what is in me than what is on me. Cosmetic beauty and fashion will decay with old age but what is in a person will follow him/her forever.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Another gift of wisdom

A very meaningful couplet.
Once again, thank you very much to Mr. Dennis Lim for this precious calligraphy which is now adorning a strategic place in my family residence. It is the second gift piece of calligraphy gift from him and I am deeply honoured to be receiving such a nice piece of art and the wisdom that comes with it. This is a very meaningful couplet that describes the relationship and responsibilities between parents and children and the wonderful earthly blessings of coming together to be siblings. 


P/s: I am also touched that friends took notice of my love for Chinese calligraphy. I’ve stopped practicing calligraphy for a while due to time limitations. Now it seems that I should start practicing again before my skills get rusted and the ability to master the strokes diminishes. 

Friday, 24 October 2014

Happy Birthday Bridget! 祝苏翠英姐姐生辰快乐




Happy moments together at SEA World. 

On this special day I would like to wish my dear friend and sister, Bridget Su a very Happy Birthday.  Birthdays are always a new start that brings fresh beginnings to new endeavors in life. May you move forward with fresh confidence and courage! Wishes you an amazing today and the years to come!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Naughty Baron in Action

It has been more than a year since my spoilt rotten cat, Baron, stay at my parent’s house except for some short visits back to KL because of my dad’s preference for him to be around. After grandpa’s passing, which sadden Baron very much; he is now a good companion to grandma, making her angry and laugh at the same time with his even naughtier antics.
Each evening, he will prompt grandma to switch on the light in my room for his fresh meal follow up with refilling his drinking water and outing to the balcony where he will attempt to catch anything that moves. Hardly a day passes without some funny antics from him, some of which was captured through the lenses.

I have no idea where he learns this! I was on the phone with a friend complaining about his naughty antics when he gently scratches my leg for attention. When I turned to him, he showed me this post and long enough for me to snap a picture as if saying: “yeah, take a pic and show your friend!” Duh!! 

He self-designated this place on the sofa as his “seat” in the living room whenever he wishes to join family members for movies or discussions. Only he is allowed on this spot because grandma will scold the intruders ! 

He gave a flying kiss when asked to pose for this photo. Grandma said he just know what to do when he is in good mood. 

Pretend to be asleep while grandma is scolding him after scratching grandma’s carpet from Esprit. Grandma asked his mummy (me) to pay for the damage. Ops !  

Another pose for the camera!

He will choose different rooms each afternoon for his nap, comfortably positioning himself in the middle of the bed. Got caught by mummy while napping on mummy's bed.

Watching the lizards with full attention! This is one of his favourite activities after dinner when he will persuade grandma to let him out to the balcony, the same balcony that serves as mummy's little paradise. 

“I am the spoilt rotten one at home! The fruits belong to me!”  When no one is watching, he will drink the water from the Earth Deity's altar despite having his own bowl of water. Once empty, he will persuade grandma or the maid to do a refill. Initially grandma was wondering why the water dried up faster than usual but a check on the CCTV caught Baron the culprit!  Double Duh!!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

A meaningful and precious gift

What a meaningful and precious gift of encouragement! 

A big thank you and deepest appreciation to Mr. Dennis Lim, a staunch supporter of MCA’s New Movement for presenting to me this beautifully written and meaningful calligraphy to express his encouragement for the work done by my team mates and myself towards a better nation. 为国之要,进贤是先 carries the Confucian meaning of Contribution to the country is every good citizen's first priority and Mr Lim hopes that these words will serve as a reminder for everyone who sees it to remember their duty to contribute to society and nation.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Tunku Abdul Rahman loves to drink and gamble; so?

Shedding light to the recent uproar of protests by PAS, Perkasa and other Muslim NGOs about Oktoberfest held recently in 1 Utama Shopping Center recently which saw Pakatan Rakyat elected representatives attended in droves and after reading an article by Yeo Bee Yin, the State Assemblywoman for Damansara Utama on which she quoted Tunku Abdul Rahman, our country’s first Prime Minister, I remembered a school trip to The Tunku’s Memorial many years back.
The memorial in honour of Tunku Abdul Rahman, includes the Residency which was his official residence during his tenure as Prime Minister. At that time of my visit in 1997, I saw a bar at the Residency and an explanation note by the side. I am not too sure if the bar still exists for display at the Residency today due to the “I am holier than thou” type of politics in this country today. Well, it doesn’t matter if it is still there for we can know from reading Lee Kuan Yew’s The Singapore Story – Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew, published in 1998; Lee played poker and drank beer, wine, whisky and brandy with the Tunku. Three Star Hennessy was the Tunku’s favorite drink.
In page 412 of his memoir, Lee wrote:
His friends also humored him. When his horse was beaten at the races, one of them would often fish some tickets from his pocket and say, “ Tunku, I bought these tickets for you, I know you wouldn’t bet on this horse when your horse was running, but I knew it was going to win so I bought them for you.” The Tunku would go home a winner by a few hundred dollars in spite of his horse losing. It made his day.  
Tunku Abdul Rahman’s likes for poker, horse betting and drinking was also shared by Datuk Tan Chin Nam in his biography, Never Say I Assume! published in 2006. Tan and the Tunku were best of friends. They were poker buddies and built a strong partnership in horses. Tan wrote that the poker sessions became notorious because of May 13 riots with radical students carrying posters reading “Keep away from Poker Players and Race-Goer” and “We Want a Dynamic Leader”. Tan also confirmed that Tunku himself drank Three Star Hennessy. Tan has also added that the Tunku even wanted to be the chairman of the Totalisator Board which controls racing. 
Do all these make Tunku a bad person and a lousy leader and change your perception about him? No, to me, Tunku is still Tunku, one of the fighters of independence for this country and our beloved first Prime Minister. Thus, I would like to ask PAS, Perkasa, ISMA, retired High Court Judge Datuk Mohd Noor Abdullah and yes, can’t forget, the pious Ridzuan Tee Abdullah, what is their comment that Tunku Abdul Rahman plays poker, bet on races and drank Three Star Hennessy? Or are you going to say Lee Kuan Yew and Datuk Tan Chin Nam wrote the wrong thing about Tunku? Both Lee and Tan are still around, so we need to get clarification from them?
If PAS, Perkasa and gang can’t give a satisfactory answer, stop making noise about non-Muslim’s involvement with Oktoberfest and don’t try to be “spiritual advisor” to non-Muslims. Just shut up and no one will say you all are dumb and deft. At the end of the day, it is the individual that is answerable to God, PAS can't answer to God on their behalf.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Bak Kut Teh Teluk Intan Style

For years, friends and relatives who came for overnight stay in Teluk Intan will know for sure that the next day’s breakfast will be bak kut teh at one of the few shops serving this meaty herbal soup in town. Though not as famous as Klang bak kut teh or the Teochew style peppery bak kut teh such as Ng Ah Sio’s in Singapore which I always crave for, Teluk Intan bak kut teh is famous for other reasons.

The standard order: A pot of bak kut teh with fried prawns, claypot spicy sourly fish and vegetable. 
While it is rare to find fresh fishes and seafood cooked in various styles at bak kut teh outlets in other parts of the country, it is a must in Teluk Intan. The eatery won’t be an original Teluk Intan Bak Kut Teh outlet if it doesn’t serve steam fish, fried prawns, spicy fried squid, mantis prawns, crabs and other types of seafood. The minimum standard order will be a pot of bak kut teh with steam or spicy fried fish and a plate of vegetables but a family of family will add in prawns and squid kong po style. It will be odd if one walks into a bak kut the eatery to order just a pot of bak kut teh with rice.
Most of the time, my friends who is in town for the first time will see in amazement the amount of seafood dishes that every table at the bak kut teh eatery ordered. The common remark I hear often heard is, while bak kut teh is the main dish in other parts of the country, in Teluk Intan, the seafood dishes made it looks like an accompanying dish of seafood themed breakfast. Some commented that the breakfast is equally as heavy as the seafood dinner the previous night.
Mummy and I during one of our Sunday brunch a few weeks ago. 
I am not sure how this originates but it has been the standard fare for as long as bak kut teh exists in Teluk Intan. The only reason I could think of is because Teluk Intan a coastal town, it is near to fishing villages and seafood are abundant and cheap. It is also common to see patrons bring their own seafood to be cooked by the eatery which will charge about 10-20 bucks depending on the item for their labour. Today, there are few bak kut teh eateries along Jalan Pasar near to the Sheng Kong Temple (the oldest and most popular temple in town).
However, my recommendation will be Restoran Teh Heon at Taman Ros, off Jalan Sultan Abdullah. It is the place that my family loves to go for Sunday brunch and a place where I will bring visiting friends. It is delicious with very reasonable price. To come to Teluk Intan and not to eat the famous Liew Kee Chee Cheong Fun and the Teluk Intan style is akin to having not been in Teluk Intan.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

“Malaysian Politicians Say the Darndest Things”

Highly recommended! 

After posting my previous blog, “Another joke of the year from PAS”, a friend suggested that I should list down more joking and stupid remarks made by Malaysian politicians from both side of the divide which are aplenty. Out of the blue, I remembered two volumes of Amir Muhammad’s Malaysian Politicians Say the Darndest Things which was published in 2007 and 2008 respectively and I waste no time in retrieving them from my library.
These two books accompanied me for dinner. From there, one can find 202 (101 in each volume) darndest quotes that politicians from both side of the divide made. There are plenty of sexist remarks against women made by PAS leaders, and by the few notorious BN politicians too such a dear Bung Mokhtar. From these two books too, I found out that the call for Malaysians who do not like this country’s system to leave originates from Badruddin Amiruldin, UMNO General Assembly’s current Permanent Chairman, almost ten years ago.
Of all, what I love most is Abdullah’s infamous quote “Esok tak ada”(It won’t be tomorrow) when he dismissed the speculation that he will dissolve the parliament on Feb 13 2008. Well, the punishment for a leader who can’t even say the right thing is the EXIT door. Memang esok tak ada lah……….lah..lah..
These two books are indeed entertaining and Amir Muhammad should perhaps think of volume 3..4..and 5 as well as reprint of these two books because they are no longer available at bookstores.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Another joke of the year from PAS

I always read with great amusement statements from PAS leaders who seem to have the habit of speaking without using their brains. When they have no valid reason to oppose Valentine’s Day and concerts and other entertainments, they said it leads to people having the intention of committing sin therefore it is their moral duty to stop it. The list of their jokes are too long to list but I think fellow Malaysians have not forgotten that Hassan Ali, another former senior party member with some screws loose in his head, claimed that Singapore will be part of Malaysia if Pakatan Rakyat get hold of Putrajaya and yes, it is the same Putrajaya that their party’s former president, Fadzil Noor had wanted to sell off if the party comes to power.
Last month, when they have no other better reason for their lust for the seat of the Selangor Menteri Besar, the party’s President, Hadi Awang said that he is not ready to drag his party to hell because it involves His Royal Highness the Sultan of Selangor. Now that Hadi Awang is facing the backlash from within his own party as well as from leaders of the Pakatan Rakyat parties, another joker appeared. This is none other than the son of the party’s spiritual leader and Member of Parliament for Pasir Mas, Nik Abduh Nik Aziz who claimed that there is an international conspiracy to topple Hadi Awang and undermine the party’s syura council.
What are his excuses to come to this joke of the year conclusion? He claimed that some parties are not comfortable that PAS is quickly emerging as the "strongest Pakatan Rakyat party". He also said PAS' quest to uphold Islam in its truest sense in Malaysia has made the western world and "Islam's enemies" nervous all over the world. Excuse me, is the PAS the strongest Pakatan Rakyat party? Everyone know the title should go to the DAP. Err…PAS still consider itself a member of Pakatan Rakyat? PAS made the world nervous? But I only know the whole world are nervous about IS in Iraq and Syaria that it gives Barrack Obama, David Cameron and other leaders so much sleepless nights.
If you are looking for some jokes to laugh yourself out loud, just read the statements from PAS leaders. They are the best jokers around and of course we do have dear Bung Mokhtar and Ibrahim Ali.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Grandma turns 90

Ah Ma and I during dinner. 
My beloved paternal grandmother turns 90 today! Ah Ma celebrate this auspicious occasion with family dinner surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. My Ah Ma is still mentally sharp; walks with minimal assistance and most important of all, have a very good appetite for all sorts of delicacies. I wish my Ah Ma many many more returns of the day. Happy Birthday!!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Now you see and bye….

The monopod and the remote control. 
Say cheese, smile to the phone camera….and it is gone – that is how my friend lost his iPhone 5s this evening to a snatch thief this evening while he and his group of friends was using the ever popular monopod to snap a few selfie at an eatery at Cheras.  When he was at the police station to lodge the report, he was told that, every day, there are a few cases of mobile phones being snatched while the owner took selfie using a monopod. According to the police, there have a been a surge in reported cases of mobile phone lost since the introduction of monopod to the market. "The fastest way to lose a phone," said the officer. "Snatch thieves strike at eateries, shopping malls and along popular streets when the unsuspecting phone owners were too busy selfie-ing," he added. 
After listening to my friend’s misery, I recalled a friendly advice given by Lily, a staff at the famous Wong Ah Wah Roast Chicken Wings eatery when I purchased my monopod and the Bluetooth controller from a street peddler. She told me to be careful as there have been a few cases of phones together with the monopod being snatched at Jalan Alor and Tengkat Tung Shin, leaving the victim with just the controller. Monopod, a brilliant invention for the convenience of taking photographs is a good or a bad thing in Malaysia where snatch thieves are always on the prowl?

Friday, 3 October 2014

My little paradise

I always feel that we are living in a very sterile, artificial world. Each time as I walk or drive through the streets of Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai and the occasion New York or Brussels where work will take me, I see the concrete and steel environment that people, including myself are cooped up all day long, with everyone chasing a different dream in life.

At my little of paradise after a long week in Singapore.   
As each day come to end, I noticed that people are often addicted to what I call “secondary pleasures” such as drugs, alcohols, shopping, fast cars, movies and so on but I will yearn for something I classified as “primary pleasure” of being in touch with mother nature, to end the day with a brew of tea and a good book. However, nothing beats the pleasure I derived from this place I called my little paradise – the balcony at home, a place with fresh air, a comfortable lazy chair, tea set; where I can watching my potted bonsai grow.
The bonsai teaches me that everything takes time, cultivating my patience. 
Over here, I can turn down the noise in my brain and observe firsthand the miracle of mindfulness. When I sit next to the bonsai, watching them grow, and do my reading, I feel like I am in touch with eternity, with something that goes on and on. The absolute cycle of birth, death and renewal displays itself before me. Oh, I just love this little piece of paradise so much and the feeling of being fundamentally connected to the cycles of nature!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

True story of SPM forecast result being tampered with

I fully agree with the Education Ministry’s decision not to allow school trial exam results for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) to be used as entry qualifications for pre-university or foundation programmes starting from next year as reported by Sunday Star. Although the main reasons for Education Ministry to come up with this decision is not reported and whether will this decision only take effect on local higher learning institutions or it does involved foreign institutions, many of us know that these results can easily be tampered with and the big differences between forecast and actual result.
We’ve also heard of students that were admitted to programs in private higher institutions were asked to sit for additional papers when the actual result were presented or when the students who got in with “good forecast grades” do poorly in classes. There are also instances where students were asked to leave or change course because they are totally incapable of coping up with assignments and tests. Tampering with forecast results have been happening since my days in secondary school back in the 90s and those who wishes to “shortcut” their way to private higher learning institutions can do it with ease.
Back then, all you need is a good quality liquid paper, typewriter (before the days of printer) and a couple of visits to the shop with photocopy machine. These days, needless to say, it is even easier with so many graphics editing software that one can easily download. I would like to ask how many private higher learning institutions actually check the forecast result with the school authority before admitting a student into many of its programs? With quotas to achieve, with shareholders and bosses to be answerable to do, with profits to chase, it does not come as a surprise that quantity and profit comes first.  Hereby are two true stories on which I was involved in one while the other is from a friend.
Story one
This happened when I was in form 5 after the release of all trial examination results. Students who wish to further their education without waiting for the actual result can have obtain a “result sheet” from the school’s office with a stamping to prove true copy either by the Headmistress, Penolong Kanan ( asst. HM ) or the Penyelia Petang ( asst. HM in charge of afternoon session). Back then, it was sheet of printed paper on which the student fill up their actual trial examination result and the school clerk will type it, then the stamping done by either one of the three.
Due to the high standard set by our school, the trial exam was actually much harder than the actual exam and most of us scored badly. There are a few of my friends who wish to use the trial examination result to further their studies overseas including myself. I did quite well, and extremely well for BM, English, History, Geography, Economics except for Add Math ( a subject I loathe and a worry to my Add Math teacher, Mrs. Lim Siew Yong ) and Biology.  However, two friends of mine didn’t do well and they were desperate for a more “presentable” result to be handed over to an education agency that is helping to do placement for students in Australia.
So, what do we do? A few of us assembled in my house, scheming and thinking of how to help out these two friends when we came up with the daring idea of typing out the “result sheet” using the type writer that belongs to my dad’s company (coincidentally it is of the same type writer as our school’s) and send it for “stamping” by the Penyelia Petang who will certainly be not aware of the actual trial result and probably won’t check it against our report cards. It was a daring attempt for if caught, God knows what will happen to my friends. My friends typed with great diligence the altered “result sheet” and we waited till late afternoon before going to the school to have it stamped because we know by then the HM and the other assistant HMs will most probably have left office.
We went to look out for the Penyelia Petang, with my friends saying apologetically the “reasons” why their “result sheets” were not stamped earlier that day. With good luck, my friends got their altered results stamped without any checking by the Penyelia Petang. Happily, we went for celebration at the ice kacang store next to our school and a few months later, we bid each other goodbye at KLIA and not long later I left for Auckland. These two friends of mine have since settled down in Australia. It was something wrong to do but back then we thought it was a "smart" idea.
Story two
Another real story was shared by a friend who used to work as marketing / business development executive for a college based in Mantin. Each month he was given a set of quota of number of students that he must bring in to be enrolled in that college. He was only given basic pay but he will get around two thousand ringgit per student that he managed to be enrolled.
There are many students with results that will never get enrolled by the boss of my friend told him some tricks that they can do to make these students eligible to be enrolled. My friend and his colleagues were taught how to alter the forecast result of the students. For years, that is what they did, confessed my friends. When the students can’t cope, they were told to re-sit for the examination or sign up for extra courses to ensure the continuation of their study.
While I agree that all students be given the opportunity to further their study after SPM, I do not agree with the way forecast results being tampered with; therefore, I fully support the decision by the Education Ministry to do away with using forecast result as the passport for pre university or foundation programs. Let the final SPM result be the yardstick for the basis of qualification and it is fairer too as everyone sit for the same papers instead of different standard by schools.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Let’s push for community library initiative

Most of my friends will say these are expensive sleep inducing books! 

For years, we never ceased to read the report that the average numbers of books that Malaysians read are dismay in numbers although there are some paltry increases over the years. There are various factors that attribute to this and the feedback that I’ve often received is reading is an expensive thing to do even when one buy from warehouse sale such as those by Big Bad Wolf or the occasion book fair.
I have to agree that books are indeed very expensive in Malaysia, especially non-fiction books which are often being regarded as dull, boring and sleep inducing but more often than not, these are the books that exposed one to a wide world view, informative and at times, they are thought provoking. Sadly, these are the books that most Malaysians will give a pass either due to the expensive price tag or they are just not interested. Therefore, something must be done to bring in the interest in these books by making them easily available. 
I have to admit that I am very fortunate because my job and travel often lands me in different countries across the globe where I can purchase newly published books at the price that is so much cheaper compared to Malaysia even after conversion and to explore the many second hand bookshops that offer gems that can’t be found in Malaysia. Another liberty that some Malaysians enjoyed but denied to the majority is the ability to purchase books that aren’t available in our bookstores from Amazon.com which do not come cheap factoring in the shipping cost.
An irony thing that often happens to me and like-minded friends who do not mind to spend on books is to end up having a few copies of the same title. Sometimes, this is due to our own absent mindedness but most of the time it is because of the different covers because the same book may be published by different publishers or the issue of hard cover edition versus the paperback edition. So, what do we do with these books?
As for myself, I will often donate these books away but after reading the article; For the people, by the people – Little Libraries can build community and love for books published by The Star on 22nd Sept, it is time for us to emulate the concept mentioned in the article. It is a good way to build the spirit of sharing and trust among the neighbors and at the same time encourages fellow Malaysians to develop a love for books and reading.  
For a start, we can make good use of the community centers around our residential area to allocate a little space for a mini library with contributions of books by the residents itself. Or, one can move a step further with some unique ideas to start a mini library that suits our society for the benefit of everyone.
I know there will be many naysayers who will say that this idea is not workable in our society because there will be little contributors, books not being returned, dumping of unwanted materials and lots more but without a try and an effort, how are we to know this initiative is going to be. So, let’s be bold and start doing something for the society even it is just a tiny one compared to doing nothing, as Napoleon Hill said: " If you cannot do great things, do small things in great way."