Friday, 16 December 2016

When banks are getting ridiculous

Two afternoons ago, while having tea with a friend of mine and mom, the mobile phone rang. On the other end of the line is the branch manager of Alliance Bank calling to enquire the reason and source of fund of a recent cheque deposit of RM 11,000.00.

Friend: "The cheque was issued by EPF. I am sure you can see from the cheque itself. Is that a problem?"

Branch manager: "My HQ want to know what is the reason for your withdrawal?"

Friend: "I am a former Malaysian and I was asked to clear my EPF account. Your bank is unable to process the cheque from EPF?"

Branch manager: "No, we just want to know the source of fund. My HQ asking."

Friend:"EPF!! Can’t you see from the signatories of the cheque itself?"

After the conversation with the branch manager, which my friend found extremely ridiculous, he called the Head of the Customer Service Team of Alliance Bank to lodge his dissatisfaction. He was then told that banks in Malaysia screen through every deposit of more than certain amount to counter terrorism. Oh well, EPF withdrawal by a former Malaysian who is now a Singaporean at the request of EPF itself to fund terrorism and a branch manager who can’t see that the cheque was issued by EPF!!!

“Do you think they read the name of the receiver as ACH bin Laden?” he asked me teasingly after the whole “moronic” affairs was over.

Then my mom joined the conversation.

“Last year, when I make a fixed deposit in HSBC Teluk Intan, the bank officer also asked me for my source of fund. I told him it is from Najib’s donation and then someone next to him said that I am the taukeh of Shell,” my mom said angrily.

“But Public Bank is smart enough not to ask me this kind of stupid question,” mom added.

As if the banks have the spine to alienate their VIP customers with such a question!!

Personally, my dear bankers in Singapore and Malaysia have never asked for my source of fund regardless of the amount transacted. Therefore, I am in the opinion that banks are after inconsequential amount as a window dressing to comply with the Central Bank’s anti-terrorism and money laundering measure while closing an eye big amounts for fear of offending “VIPs”. In fact, as heard in court during the trial of former BSI private bank bankers in Singapore, they have even gone the extra mile to help certain clients to move hundreds of millions.

Or, even the banks are wary of government institutions such as the EPF?

Lastly, do you still remember what is the most commonly said phrase to describe banks? 

Monday, 12 December 2016

A note on the occasion of my birthday

Words cannot describe how fortune, blessed and thankful I am to be surrounded by beloved family members, best of friends and primus inter pares colleagues that stood by me through thick and thin and be here to celebrate a memorable birthday for me. It is a long list to thank everyone by name but I am deeply touched by your best wishes, your time spent celebrating and showering me with wonderful gifts.


On this occasion, I would also like to thank my dear one for the beautiful gift of a pair of wrightia religiousa bonsai trees (pic above) that signifies growth and life.  I hope that these two trees will grow healthily and if possible, to look at their changes 35 years later. After all, you once said that the art of bonsai is an artwork that will never finish – 永远未完成的艺术- a continuous labour of love.

Last but not least, my birthday wish is to see a developed and prosperous Malaysia where everyone from different race and religion live harmoniously, a peaceful world to live without fear and a better tomorrow for everyone. Once again, thank you very much. 

Sunday, 30 October 2016

A shocking discovery

These few medicine costs RM 75.90

I was shocked when I heard RM 75.90. Could it be a mistake? Then the pharmacist repeat again: “75.90”. I took out a hundred ringgit note and she returned me RM 24.10. Okay, it wasn’t a mistake. The medicine for the all-time favourite combination sickness that loves to strike fellow Malaysians – fever, flu and sore throat – costs a whopping RM 75.90 from a pharmacy.

On second thought, could I be ripped off by the pharmacist? I checked with mom and at the same time complaining about the exorbitant price. “That’s cheap liao girl!” mom replied. “These days a visit to Dr. Lau or Dr Lee (referring to the two family physician popular among Teluk Intan folks) can easily be RM 100 and more if you need antibiotics.”

After a few more conversations with friends affirming the exorbitant price of medicine in Malaysia, I have to admit I have been blessed with good health all these years and my last visit to the doctor for fever, flu and cough was in 2012. Back then, a visit to the doctor will never cost more than RM40.00.

“The price in your memory was that of king kong years ago. You have to add in inflation and blaaaa blaaaa,” teased my dear colleague Aloysius.

“Why are you complaining when in actual it only cost you SGD 25?”

“Affordable to me but what about other people in the middle and lower income group, what about retirees?” I replied him with a question of my own.

“All thanks to greedy pharmaceutical companies and the capitalist system.” He sneered.

While I don’t agree that capitalism contributed to high cost of medical bills in developed and poor countries alike, I do agree that greed among shareholders and management of the pharmaceutical companies plays a huge role.

At the same time, I am of the opinion that Malaysians are considered luckier than the people in many other countries thanks to Klinik 1 Malaysia and government hospitals where the cost is RM 1 per visit. However, the long waiting list and limited consultation hours can be an agony for the sick and I hope that the government will address this issue for the benefit of all Malaysians.

As the old adage goes, health equals to wealth; it is definitely cheaper to stay healthy regardless of how much cheaper the cost of medical bills will be. 

Friday, 28 October 2016

New purple clay teapots from Shanghai

It is a great delight to be arriving home from Europe to find three new purple clay teapots to add to my collections. These teapots are courtesy of Uncle and Aunty Wang of Lu Yu Teashop in Shanghai and hand carried to Malaysia by my good friend Stella.

I am thankful to the Wangs from Shanghai for always remembering me and my fancy for purple clay teapots and to Stella for being my “courierwoman”. It is very unfortunate that we aren’t able to meet during your brief stay in Kuala Lumpur and I look forward to see you again soon.

Each of these three pots are unique and they are made from three different types of clay in the purple clay family; the red clay (红泥), purple clay (紫泥) and “duan ni” (段泥) by Ling Yan Ping 凌燕苹. I hope I’ll be able to find time to polish them to perfection during this year-end holiday. 

藏龙卧虎 , Hidden Dragon,Crouching Tiger

六方狮, Hexagonal Lion

心经,The heart sutra

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Deepest Condolences to Thailand


My deepest condolences to the Thailand Royal Family and people of the Kingdom of Thailand on the passing of our beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej. May His Majesty's legacies lives on forever. 

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Hillary Clinton’s irony

From Foreign Policy:

“We have never in the history of our country been in a situation where an adversary — a foreign power — is working so hard to influence the outcome of the election,” Clinton said. 

And believe me, they’re not doing it to get me elected. They’re doing it to try to influence the election for Donald Trump.”

What an irony for Clinton and the Americans to cry foreign intervention in their democracy system when for years the United States of America have been meddling in the rise and fall of foreign head of states all around the world as well as the rise of ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Heed Confucius's advice, don't do unto others what you don't want others to do unto you. Period. 

Monday, 3 October 2016

Re: Sarong Party Girls

Dear JL,

You know ah, inspiration to write is very exclusive one. They want to come they come. They don’t want to come they don’t anyhow come.  So hor, when you requested that I shed my seriousness a bit bit and write in Singlish, it is harder than toiling hard labour in North Korea. And pardon me for the delay in writing this as the accompaniment in conjunction with making Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan the book of the month in the office.

Haiyoh. I have to tell you that writing Singlish is harder than writing long long law journals for all the ang moh atas atas publications. Already one chapter nia, uncle here whom you all normally call long winded is already running out of words. I thought aiyaa…sap sap water. Write Singlish nia. But sibeh jialat lah. It make you really respect Cheryl for writing the whole book in Singlish. 

Talk about language ah...whah lau eh..recently I read that Malaysians are making fun of their Deputy Prime Minister for speaking Mangish at the what United Nations General Assembly. But I never understand why lah the people want to criticise him. Everyone have their own ways of speaking one mah. Malaysians should be proud of Manglish like we Singaporeans take Singlish so seriously. 

Last time our ah kong Lee Kuan Yew tried so hard to wipe out Singlish. But hor you see, Singlish is flourishing like Singapore’s GDP, GNP, ERP, PAP and all the P lah. They keep going up and up and up. Somemore now it is under the concern of National Heritage Board. Yes lah. Be proud of your country’s heritage. And now no play play. Even Oxford Dictionary also recognise Singlish. Ah Beng and Ah Lian so shiok when read it on their extra size iPhone, iPad.

What you say leh?

Malaysians are sometimes very confused. At one hand they said do away with everything colonial and foreign but another hand they said you must speak Queen’s English. Aiyoo..how lah ? The opposition there everyday hentam the government for this fail that fail. Everything also fail fail fail. How can? They sound like Malaysia bo cheng hu. They should see the every weekend Great Singapore Two Days Exodus. See already they sure shuddup. No good place hor, Singaporean won’t go one.

Aiyah.. uncle here not Malaysian so shouldn’t kepo kepo Malaysian’s business but uncle is concerned neighbour ma. Ok lah. I better stop before I start to lor lor sor sor. You know lah, talking politics law and governance made me so shiok one leh. Later I write non stop. I write this also for fun only. No intention yet to write book lah. Year end liao..holiday time but don’t chiong till office upside down hor. Later I come to do spot check.

Bye for now.

From

Pharaoh


P/s: What you’ve just read above what written by my dear boss the Pharaoh at the popular request of his slaves to share with us his Singlish (for laughter). It all started when I was in Dubai not too long ago. The Maharani a.k.a Mrs Pharaoh was reading Sarong Party Girls while I was reading A History of the Arab Peoples by Albert Hourani. In between the boring pages of my book, I read the Sarong Party Girls though fiction wasn’t really my cup of tea.

For a change, I’ve decided to introduce, for the first time in the firm’s history, a fiction as book of the month. (Book of the month is a tradition in my firm where colleagues are encouraged to introduce a book (not related to law) that they deemed worth sharing for a particular month.)

Friday, 30 September 2016

Online bidding for teapots and tea

Not too long ago, I was asked to join a Facebook based Chinese tea and teapots group - 一马紫砂茶文化 (loosely translated as One Malaysia Purple Clay and Tea Culture) by my tea friends. There are quite a number of other Facebook groups related to Chinese tea and purple clay teapots. Most of the time, this kind of Facebook groups was formed and died a natural death without gaining much following.

However-, 一马紫砂茶文化is now the most talk about Facebook group among tea and teapot enthusiasts. The group allow members to share their collections as well as to sell their products based on direct negotiation or through bidding. Malaysia’s version of e-bay for tea enthusiasts! However, the only setback for this group is that the lingua franca used is Chinese, thus leaving English educated people like my friends Pow Wah, Little Q and myself at the mercy of Google Translate!

I would attribute the success of this group to its reputable participants. Most of the sellers are the who’s who of the tea merchants and collectors from Klang Valley, Penang and Johor. At the same time, the bidders are serious buyers. Thus far, safe to say that all the transactions have gone smoothly with willing buyers and sellers. However, I’ve noticed some pranksters who purposely jack up the price during the bidding.

I have to admit that I am not a fan of online transactions. My close friends and colleagues know that I prefer to speak face to face, have a chat over the phone and spend hours in Kinokuniya Ngee Ann City than to send a long email, message or browse for books online. The empirical side of my brain still need some adjustments to the reality of the 21st century but I am making some baby steps.

My first online purchase or I suppose a bidding took place some 3 weeks ago. Chanoyu Tea Art auctioned a can of old Tie Guan Yin tea through 一马紫砂茶文化. Chanoyu is a reputable shop in Kuala Lumpur and I’ve known them for years. Hence I participated in the auction without worry for defective product. After  participating in a few auctions, I’ve decided to venture out into the unknown when I came across a teapot that I fancy.

The purple clay teapot and cups from Hiew Hin Choong 
On 27th Sept, Hiew Hin Choong posted an auction for an Octagonal shaped purple clay teapot made during the 90s on One Malaysia Purple Clay and Tea Culture. I won the bid via a friend’s Facebook account (many thanks Bridget for helping) as the competition was intense at the last hour before the bidding close. I won’t elaborate further on the techniques of bidding except to recommend interested parties to Sun Tzu’s Art of War and Carl von Clausewitz’s works.

Old tea with old teapot. 
It is very pleasant to deal with Hiew Hin Choong. He is trustworthy and he delivered on what was written. I received the teapot with 8 cups and some old tea today. I look forward to have conduct more purchase with him. Perhaps…this is the catalyst to the baby steps I am taking with regards to e-commerce.



P/s: I am doing a little of advertisement here for Chanoyu and Hiew Hin Choong – not paid of course – that if you are looking for reputable merchants, you can look for them. 

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

"The Round Moon" by "Bukit Mertajam Boys"


Each year around the mid-Autumn festival, the Chinese radio stations will broadcast songs related to the moon. Besides the popular 月亮代表我的心 (The moon represent my heart) by Theresa Teng and the many versions of 花好月圆 (Beautiful flower, round moon), we will also hear 月亮圆 (The moon is round) by a band called 山脚下男孩 (Bukit Mertajam Boys).

The now dissolved 山脚下男孩 was a popular band in Malaysia in the 90s. The members are from the town of Bukit Mertajam in the state of Penang. Locally, Bukit Mertajam is known as 大山脚 ("tua sua ka" in Hokkien) and instead of pronouncing the full Bukit Mertajam, it is often referred to only as BM. During my secondary school years, songs from this group were often selected for school functions for their “correctness”. The correctness in this aspect referred to no elements of love and romance.

Those days, discipline teachers in the Convent schools are well known for their over protectiveness. More often than not, I often wonder if the high percentage of single woman is due to the doctrines of these Convent teachers…no pun intended, just my own wondering.

Amidst this wondering and memories of yesteryears, I’m glad to share 月亮圆 by山脚下男孩, found on YouTube. (Not the boring king kong years ago MV). By the way, “king kong years ago” is term coined by my super humorous colleague Aloysius to refer to some era long ago.  


Wishes you a Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! 但愿人长久 千里共婵...中秋节快乐。 

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Nanyang Tea Remembrance 南洋印记


Friends often ask: What is 南洋印记- Nanyang Yin Ji ? What is its name in English and its history?

First of all, 南洋印记- Nanyang Yin Ji’s English name is “Nanyang Tea Remembrance”. This is the first time that the name "Nanyang Tea Remembrance" is being presented to the public. 

Nanyang Tea Remembrance is founded by Chanoyu Tea Art to promote the history, culture, art and practices related to tea in this region which is also known as Nanyang and the selection of this name is explained beautifully in Chinese by Pin Yeeh, a very talented young poet. He wrote:

南洋印記」

古人曾經說過,南海的盡頭就是南洋。

因此你若生長在這裏,我總歸會在你身上找到它的印記。

一種你在說中文時會有方言腔的印記。

一種你在說英文時會混雜巫語的印記。

一種你即使漂流也會自豪的大馬印記。

一種你生既帶來死亦帶去并且將從不磨滅的

------南洋印记           文:斌奕

Pagoda T-Shirt and rice paper packing - a distinctive mark in Nanyang.
Its translation in English by yours truly:

Nanyang Tea Remembrance

In ancient China, the southernmost foreign part of the South Sea is call the Nanyang.

If you grow up in Nanyang, you will definitely find the remembrance of Nanyang from your surrounding and even from your own self.

-This remembrance visible when you speak Mandarin with a dialectic slang.

-This remembrance is visible when you speak English with a local flavour, such as Singlish and  Manglish.  

-This remembrance visible when you speak highly of Malaysia regardless of where you are.

-It is a mark, a remembrance that stays on forever generations before and after you.  

----- This is my identity, my distinctive remembrance. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

AirAsia’s wrong flight plan is just tip of iceberg

AirAsia pilot flies to Melbourne instead of Malaysia after navigation error – The Guardian

Safety report reveals how M'sia-bound plane landed in Melbourne in 2015 – The Star

AirAsia flight to Malaysia landed in Melbourne by mistake – The Australian

Input error caused KL-bound AirAsia flight to land in Melbourne - Malay Mail Online

When one reads the above mind boggling headlines, most will immediately point that such error only happen to budget airlines. In all fairness, such incidents are not uncommon. Full fledged airlines are not spared of such gaffe either and most of the time, they went unreported in the media.

However, before one point the finger and say “ahh….must be the pilots”, think of air traffic controllers too, stretched thin by massive traffic and other challenges.  

To my knowledge, as recent as 25th August 2016, Singapore Airlines flight SQ25 from New York to Frankfurt was diverted to London due to wrong flight plan. The matter is still under investigation.


Monday, 5 September 2016

Stop talking about the eagle, look at the “haram” in Perak

The "prawns" sponsored by Majlis Perbandaran Teluk Intan
Zamri Hashim is a controversial man who is more suitable to live in the caves in Afghanistan than in Malaysia.

Recently, when the Perak deputy mufti Zamri Hashim wrote in a local daily that it was forbidden in Islam to make full-bodied statues of living creatures such as humans or animals and that the huge eagle in Langkawi should be demolished, he had forgotten to check his own backyard.

Taking care of my own backyard first, with all due respect, I would like invite Zamri Hashim and the state mufti, Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria to my hometown, Teluk Intan. They must make a stop at Dataran Udang Galah for dinner, famous for its udang galah bakar.

Don’t worry sir, I am not asking you to eat at some non-halal eatery. By the way, all the operators at Dataran Udang Galah are Muslims. The food is for sure halal but the crowd…err…not so halal because non-Muslims and Muslims fancy going there for delicious huge river prawn and other dishes.

After meal, sir, I would like you to tell the Majlis Perbandaran Teluk Intan that the 4 huge full-bodied prawns at the entrance of Dataran Udang Galah in Teluk Intan is haram and therefore should be demolished. Before you point to the state of Kedah, please look around your own backyard. Please check out other the other big and small towns and villages in Perak. There are many more “haram” statues erected at places so beloved by my Muslim friends. Just in case you are not sure, let me tell you sir, my Muslim friends don’t even give a heck to those statues, let alone having the thought of worshipping it.


P/s: If the eagle in Langkawai should be demolished, so is the National Monument, Tunku Abdul Rahman’s statue in the Parliament and Memorial Tunku Abdul Rahman, the cats in Kuching, the swordfish in Kota Kinabalu, the soldiers statue in Air Itam Penang, the kancil in Melaka and many more.

Or as my friend Emmanuel Joseph said, demolish the Bank Negara too because everyone worship money...haha.

Demolition contractors can look forward to huge profitslah

Saturday, 3 September 2016

一寸光阴一寸金

A cascading Wrightia Religiousa 
Another pot of my favourite mini Wrightia Religiousa bonsai arrived today. Accompanying this pot of 40 years old tree that the giver flew in from afar is a note:

“Having devoted my life to my work so far, I should reap the harvest and learn how to live the rest of it properly.  It's time now for trees and grass and growing things – Author unknown”.

Ahh….he is making a statement. To which I replied with a popular Chinese proverb:

一寸光阴一寸金, ,寸金难买寸光阴” (Loosely translated as time is equivalent to gold but gold can’t buy back the time passed.)

I choose this proverb to express my thought - if I am to start planting one today, I will be well near 80 years old before I can start seeing such result or I may not get to. I wish I started to do bonsai when I was young but no amount of gold can buy back the time passed. Hence, my deepest gratitude for having in procession a significant number of bonsai trees that are way much older than me. 感恩。

Friday, 2 September 2016

The Nanyang Spirit in a cup

One of the many steps in kung fu brew, 
Kung fu - these two words sounds simple in writing, pronouncing but it carries a deeper meaning than the commonly known martial art. In rich Chinese dictionary of words, kung fu is also associated with skills, perseverance and ways. Besides that, there is also a popular saying that one’s kung fu can only be attained some days later through hard work, perseverance and distinctive skills.

In tea brewing, the kung fu brew is one among the many methods. Once again, simple as it sound but rich in significance, the brewing of the kung fu tea comes with various interconnected step and the story of Chinese ancestors that sailed to the Nanyang, today’s Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. It is the story of destiny, fortune, culture and life, full of ups and downs. Subsequently, the journey arrive at the birth of two nations - Singapore and Malaysia. Connecting all the dots at each historical juncture, we conclude it with one name –The Nanyang Spirit.

The kung fu brew originated from the Chao Shan region in the east of Guangdong Province. It gained huge acceptance and popularity in Nanyang and subsequently from the four sides of this world. Over thousands of miles and hundreds of years, the tradition of the brew remain intact. Besides Chinese descendants, the kung fu brew also gain acceptance from the myriad communities in Nanyang and became part of everyone’s enormous story.

To attain the perfect taste of Nanyang kung fu brew, firstly, one must have the utensils, followed by good quality of tea. Thirdly, tea etiquette. Subsequently, the vital, can’t be missed “skills” when brewing the tea.

What is the meaning of “skills”? It lies in preparing the pot, warming of the cups; gathering the right energy of both. How about the taste? The aroma emitted during the brew must be salivating. Where comes the etiquette? The host and guests exchanging banter; its beauty produce excellent tea.

Alas, in Nanyang, it is hard to explain this segment of the society with its hundreds of years of tradition and spirit in full and wholly. This is the whimsical East after all! Only through experience that one can truly understand, so, please drink a cup of the "Nanyang-nised" kung fu tea. Set your imaginations wide and be inspired by it. The rotating strong after taste that linger in the mouth is the combination of good will and culture from the generations of people living in this Equatorial zone. It is the Nanyang Spirit!


*This article was originally written in Chinese by a friend; modified and translated by yours truly.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

A case of horrible customer service

A friend  asked me to post the following on this blog with regards to a recent encounter with DNATA, a subsidiary of The Emirates Group and probably the world’s largest suppliers of aircraft ground handling, cargo, travel and flight catering services.

Quote:

On 12th August, I flew from Singapore to Dubai via Bangkok on TG flight 404 and 517. Upon arrival in DXB Terminal One, my checked in luggage with a Priority tag was nowhere to be found. I went to the baggage services counter to lodge my report. I was told that my luggage wasn’t on the TG flight because of the short connecting time after it arrived in Bangkok but my layover in Bangkok was 2 hours and 30 minutes. The customer service officer from DNATA, the operator of the lost and found department then told me that the luggage was on the way to Dubai on an EK flight scheduled to arrive past midnight and it will be delivered to my hotel by 6 am.

On 13th August at around 9 am, I called the toll free number given by DNATA because the luggage does not arrive at my hotel as promised. My call was directed to a call centre in Philippines. I was told that my luggage arrived on EK 355 around 12 plus in the morning and it was in Terminal 3 waiting to be escorted to Terminal 1 where Thai Airways office is located. During that conversation, I was told that it will arrive at my hotel shortly.

As a frequent flyer, I am aware that Emirates flight EK 355 is the direct flight from Singapore to Dubai and it is not from Bangkok to Dubai. IT’S EITHER DNATA’s STAFF IN THE AIRPORT GAVE ME THE WRONG INFORMATION ABOUT THE SHORT CONNECTING TIME IN BANGKOK OR MY LUGGAGE NEVER REACH BANGKOK AT ALL. I WAS A LITTLE CONFUSED BUT I MADE NO FUSS.

At around 12pm, I called Thai Airways Dubai Airport’s office and spoke to a Mr Glad. As the luggage service handling is under the jurisdiction of DNATA, there is nothing much that Mr Glad’s office can do except to urge DNATA to expedite the delivery.

At around 10pm, the customer service officer at Taj Dubai assigned to my room, Miss Pooja offered to get the representative from the hotel to liaise with DNATA regarding my luggage and I consented to it. At around 11pm, I was informed by Miss Pooja that the luggage IS NOT IN DUBAI AND IS CURRENTLY ON THE FLIGHT TO DUBAI AND WILL BE DELIVERED IMMEDIATELY UPON ARRIVAL. WHICH IS WHICH? STILL ON THE FLIGHT AFTER 24 HOURS?

Still no luggage when I woke up on 14th August. At around 11.30 am, I called DNATA again. I was told that the luggage had arrived in Dubai and it is waiting for security clearance as it was an unaccompanied luggage. I told him that security screen and other procedures shouldn’t take more than 24 hours. HE REPLIED THAT DUE TO EK FLIGHT CRASH LANDING IN DUBAI, DNATA IS FACING A DELAY IN PROCESSING AND SORTING OF LUGGAGE. FLT EK 521 INCIDENT HAPPENED ON 3RD AUGUST. WHAT?? 

I cease calling DNATA after that conversation. My baggage finally arrived on 15th August at around 6.30 am, 48 HOURS AFTER THE TIME OF DELIVERY PROMISED BY DNATA’S STAFF IN THE AIRPORT AND 58 HOURS AFTER MY ARRIVAL IN DUBAI. 

End quote.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

It is a serious business !

One of the most candid picture of me ever snapped! The photographer captured the rarely seen in public serious side of me when dealing with business on hand and in this instance, shaping the newly arrived mini Wrightia Religiousa bonsai. 


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

An old temple in Teluk Intan


My friend Little Q is in town, joining me for a few days during one of my weeklong pleasure of working from home. Today, for lunch, I took her to Restoran Min Loke for Teluk Intan’s famous assam laksa, one of the three must have lunch-time delicacies when you visit this quaint little town. The other two are the Mastan Ghani mee rebus and Krishna nasi kandar.

On the way home after bowls of heartfelt assam laksa and a little chat with the laksa aunty, I made a stop at the Old Cantonese Temple 广东古庙 to buy a few of my favourite white cotton t-shirts. For the locals, the place is known as 广府庙 or the temple that the Cantonese pray and the Hokkien folks pray at another temple known as Sheng Kong Temple.

The temple was built during 19th year of the reign of Emperor Guangxu.
Currently, there are about ten vendors selling all kinds of clothes and shoes surrounding the Cantonese temple but during its heydays, the place was a bustling stop with more than 30 shops and a dim sum eatery tucked in a corner.

In the 70s till early 90s, shoppers from all three races will go there for clothes, shoes and songkok before the festive season. There were two Malay stalls operating inside the compound. One of them is the current Kedai Kain Hamid which moved to a shop house a short distance away. Besides that, this was also the place to go for new school uniforms, school bags and sparking white shoes that will soon turn into muddy yellow with Teluk Intan's frequent flood.

Alas….those days….

While I was waiting for the vendor to search for the shirts, Little Q ventured off to the temple for photo taking. With her permission, I am sharing some of them here and all I can say is that beauty lies in simplicity and we tend to miss it…..till it took another person to guide us there again. 





Thank you very much Little Q for guiding me towards the beauty that I miss in my hometown. 







Monday, 18 July 2016

July in Nanyang

Nanyang tea master's best pick - 木槿花水仙 (The Hibiscus)
July in Nanyang
The hibiscus flowers red
Rain or shine
The tearoom forever full
Day or night
Tea master is always busy
Oh! Why?
In search of the best brew

July in Nanyang
The night is dark
Busy or not
With books I prefer
Warm or cold
A cup is always around
Oh! Why?
To enjoy tea master’s best pick  

                                              Written on a July night somewhere in Nanyang 

Saturday, 16 July 2016

The thought provoking Sapiens

The first two weeks of July 2016 passed with a blink. I was so consumed with the never ending meetings, paper work and travelling that I have limited time for the three pleasure of life – books, bonsai and tea. Tea drinking, laughter and gossip session with close friends have to wait for another day when the schedule is less punishing (thanks Little Q for inviting). A dinner plan with my dear friend Foon Ngok is still ….in the plan (I am so sorry Foon). Two of my mini Juniperus Chinesis plants died a premature death, possibly due to over fertilising by the maid (Lesson: Give clear precise instruction to subordinates).

Arrghhhh…….but this is life!

However, in the midst of these, I’ve just completed reading the 443 pages Sapiens – A brief history of humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. It is one of the most interesting book that I’ve read so far in 2016, besides the gripping When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, a little over promising futuristic Connectography by Parag Khanna and the amusing Conversations with Tunku Abdul Rahman by the late Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad. All these are on top of the even more amusing political satire around the world from Donald Trump’s penis size to Brexit to Lim Guan Eng’s “Bungalowgate”.

How all these are happening around us? (from the back cover of Sapiens)
About 13.5 billion years ago, matter, energy, time and space come into being in what was known as the Big Bang. The story of these fundamental features of our universe is called physics.

About 300,000 years after their appearance, matter and energy started to coalesce into complex structures, called atoms, which then combined into molecules. The story of atoms, molecules, and their interactions is called chemistry.

About 3.8 billion years ago, on a planet called Earth, certain molecules combined to form particularly large and intricate structures called organisms. The story of organism is called biology.

About 70,000 years ago, organisms belonging to the species Homo sapiens started to form even more elaborate structures called cultures. The subsequent development of these human cultures is called history.

Above are the first four paragraphs of Sapiens – A brief history of humankind. To know more and to give yourself a good mental stimulation, get your copy today!! This is one of the most thought provoking book I've ever read. Origins, religion, myth, revolution and the future all in one ! 

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Falling in love with Wrightia Religiosa


Wrightia Religiosa, commonly known as water jasmine or 水梅 in Chinese was never in my consideration when I started collecting bonsai. Compared to my all-time favourite such as the Juniperus Chinesis, the banyan  榕树) and water jasmine are adaptable to the hot tropical weather hence making them easier to care and shape. Due to these factors, they became the natural choice for bonsai in this region. Besides that, I remember my bonsai master, Uncle Hooi once said that amateur cultivate banyan while the pro deal with the juniper.

Thus, it goes on for years that I am without any water jasmine in the collection as I prefer the juniper challenge. It is in my character that if I am going to get myself into something, let it be something worthy. However, recently,  a few extremely old, rare and well trained water jasmine trees arrived in my collection unexpectedly. Looking at them sitting majestically, with their masculine branches and root, I can only say, I have fallen in love with Wrightia Religiosa, the water jasmine too. I wish I can accumulate more..........but I know the water jasmine that seduced me are not easily available (as rare as you, the giver). What else can I say besides enormous gratitude and thanks.....感恩!! 

Here are the water jasmine trees in various styles that arrived recently:










P/S: All they need next is new pot after acclimatization to the weather in Malaysia having come all the way from afar. 











Friday, 1 July 2016

DAP’s double standard between Wong Ho Leng, Selvam & LGE

How many of us still remember the former Sarawak DAP Chairman, the late Wong Ho Leng and his story? What about the late Karpal Singh’s driver C. Selvam? Or maybe you have not heard of them but it is important to know their story.

For a start, the two of them are so call “servant to the DAP” in different capacities. 

C. Selvam was Karpal Singh’s driver in the tragic accident that killed the Tiger of Jelutong in 2014. He was arrested and charged for dangerous driving. He spent many days in jail because none of the hundreds of thousands of DAP leaders, members and supporters could be bothered to post his bail of just RM 5000.00. He was completely forgotten or choose to be forgotten. The reason? It is simple. He is no longer of use to the DAP. Besides, he was deemed as the one directly or indirectly responsible for their dear leader’s death. There is no such thing as innocent until proven guilty when it comes to dealing with Selvam’s case.

It took Datuk Huan Cheng Guan, the vice president of Parti Cinta Malaysia to post the bail of RM 5000.00 so that Selvam do not need to spend his days in the prison awaiting trial. In the end, Selvam, with the help of lawyer Baljit Singh from Gerakan who took up the case pro bono was acquitted 14th June 2016.

The late Wong Ho Leng was a sort of a hero to the DAP in Sarawak. He was also dubbed the giant killer for sending SUPP’s leaders into retirement after beating them in the state election. However, the late hero, during his last moments after suffering from brain cancer was forgotten by the DAP. His family was struggling to foot his enormous medical bill. There was no donation drive by the DAP to collect money to help to ease his family’s burden. The reason? Just is simple, just like C. Selvam - Wong can no longer contribute to the DAP. Besides that, Wong was dying. Why help a dying person who can no longer contribute to the DAP? In the end, the state government under the leadership of Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem contributed RM 1 million to the family.



Two days ago, DAP supremo’s son, party’s secretary general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was charged in court. I need not elaborate the huh hah that resulted from it but immediately, DAP went into nationwide campaign to ask for RM10 donation from Malaysian to fund Lim Guan Eng’s bail of RM 1 million. 

Well, there are more double standard practices by the DAP towards its MPs or their family. Just ask the family of the late Seah Leong Peng, the former MP for Teluk Intan. Or better still, ask Wee Choo Keong, the former DAP MP for Bukit Bintang. 

Conclusion is: if you are useful to DAP, if you are the privileged son or daughter in DAP and if your plight is beneficial for the DAP’s agenda, you will get the help. Otherwise, you rot in jail like Selvam or you look for your own fund. 

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Janji Barisan Nasional di Teluk Intan , BN’s promise in Teluk Intan

Pada Mei 2014, ketika berkempen pada pilihan raya kecil untuk Parlimen Teluk Intan, peminpin peminpin Barisan Nasional teleh membuat beberapa janji kepada penduduk Teluk Intan. Kata mereka, program-program pembangunan akan dilaksanakan sekiranya calon Barisan Nasional, Dato Mah Siew Keong menang. Antaranya adalah pembinaan universiti di Teluk Intan, perkhidmatan jalur lebar UNIFI, rumah mampu milik dan sebagainya. 

Tapak UPSI di Jalan Changkat Jong Teluk Intan.
Pada ketika itu, banyak pihak yang meragui janji-janji Barisan Nasional. Mereka berpendapat bahawa janji itu adalah janji kosong yang tidak akan dilaksanakan selepas calon BN menang. Sehingga hari ini, pihak pembangkang terutamanya dari DAP masih menipu rakyat dari tempat lain bahawa tiada satu pun janji BN yang dibuat ketika pilihanraya kecil Teluk Intan telah dilaksanakan. Sewaktu berkempen di Sarawak dan ketika ini, apabila mereka berkempen di Kuala Kangsar dan Sungai Besar, mereka memberitahu penduduk penduduk di sana bahawa BN kantoi di Teluk Intan dan menyeru supaya orang ramai jangan ditipu lagi oleh BN. 

Sebagai orang Teluk Intan, saya tahu bahawa janji yang dibuat oleh peminpin Barisal Nasional telah dilaksanakan ataupun sedang dilaksanakan. Tiada siapa yang lebih tahu perkembangan di Teluk Intan lebih mendalam berbanding orang Teluk Intan sendiri. 

For the naysayers who doubt BN’s promises in Teluk Intan, I can only say a picture is worth a thousand words. In return, I would like to ask the state government of Penang and Selangor under the Pakatan Whatever Rakyat Harapan coalition to show their report card. More precisely, I am interested to know what happened to the CAT - Competency, Accountability, and Transparency promise of Lim Guan Eng’s government in Penang.