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Friday, September 7, 2007

Time For Bumiputeras To Compete On Level Playing Field

Suria KLCC - which proudly carries the tagline "Always Something New" That's why tenants are required to remodel their premises every 2 to 3 years to give the swanky mall a fresh look. Do we want Suria to turn into an Arked MARA if bumiputera tenants had their way?

I’m a Malay. A bumiputera. Naturally, I would like to see my people succeed in whatever they do, to be at par with other races especially when it comes to business and getting a bigger slice of the country’s economic pie.

But I’m really sad. I’m sad because after 50 years of independence, my fellow Bumiputera Malaysians still require the virtual crutches provided by the powers that be, to survive in a world which is becoming more and more globalised.

Take the recent outcry by Juhaidi Abdullah, the owner of Kelantan Delights Restaurant whom formerly traded at Suria KLCC, the nation’s premier world class shopping establishment, as an example.

He claims that Suria KLCC’s management enforced Draconian policies which “squeezed” and “intimidated” bumiputera tenants at the mall. He claims that he was forced out of business from Suria KLCC because he refused to agree to the ridiculous rental rates increase imposed by the mall and also for not agreeing to renovate his premises as required in the new tenancy agreement. He claimed Suria KLCC did not give room at all for negotiations. And the list goes on and on.

First, his predicament was highlighted and championed by a major Malay daily which created the issue as follow-up to a previous similar case also involving another bumiputera tenant who claimed they were “victimized” by Suria KLCC (the frachise holders of Levi’s / Dockers). And then the issue cooled down after 3 or 4 stories were published by the newspaper.

Apparently, Juhaidi was not satisfied and decided to seek the sympathy of another media organization – this time around, a major private television station. The first story was aired on 31st August 2007, the day we celebrated our 50th year of independence. And true enough, the station decided to angle the story of Kelantan Delights’ plight in the direction of bumiputera entrepreneurs whom were still being “colonized” by a foreigner running the shopping mall.

The story was so lame, if you ask me. If I was the producer of the news bulletin, I would have angled the story like this – “After 50 years of independence, why do bumiputera entrepreneurs still require special treatment? Can’t they now survive on a level playing field? Don’t they think it’s time to put away the crutches for good?” Something like that. But no, they just had to angle the story in a manner which would make other races in this country look down on bumiputeras, on the Malays.

What does Juhaidi expect Suria KLCC to do? To give him a discount on rental rates and exempt him from doing renovations on his restaurant? What would the other tenants say? Juhaidi should bear in mind that Suria KLCC is not Arked MARA or Kompleks UDA or some such premises established with the sole purpose of helping out bumiputera entrepreneurs. Suria KLCC is a world class shopping mall and it must be managed in a manner which befits its status as an international shopping establishment at the bottom of the world’s tallest twin towers housing one of the seven most influential oil and gas companies in the world.

To me, the success of Suria KLCC mirrors the success of its parent holding company which I need not mention here. Doesn’t it occur to us that this particular company in question has achieved what it has achieved today, being the only Malaysian company in the Fortune 500 list, because of excellent management and best business practices, without fear or favour? And let’s not forget, the people at the helm of the company are bumiputeras. The success of that company is also the nation’s success and we as Malaysians actually get the benefit through billion ringgit repayments back to the government which in turn distributes the wealth back to us. Only we don’t realize it.

So, to Juhaidi and his supporters, please think again. If you’re not up to it, then you don’t actually have what it takes to be a global champion. Not yet.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Let Everyone Read Or Don't Blog At All

Folks, I'm back after a "I lost track of how long" hiatus. Hehehe. First and foremost, I must apologise to my regular readers - Sab of Australia, Cheekysmile of Kajang and Raffie of Ampang for the rather prolonged absence from my blog. Bukannya tak nak post new stuff, I just didn't have the time with all the events which I was involved in, one way or another, organised by my Fortune 500 company in conjunction with Malaysia's 50th Merdeka celebrations.

Ini pun there is one last event before the fasting month which is gonna happen next week, on 12th September 2007. The official prize giving ceremony of a major contest organised by my company in conjunction with what else, Merdeka.

Anyway, since I'm back in the saddle, I thought I'd discuss about what I'm doing right now - blogging. It seems more and more people, I mean, people that I know (friends, colleagues relatives, acquaintances, enemies) have started their own blogs or I discovered that they do actually have blogs. Which is a good thing actually.

But here's the thing. Kalau nak blog tu, let everyone read. If not, don't waste your time. Bloggers who actualy "block" certain people from reading their blogs are cowards. That's why I hate bloggers who use Multiply as their blog interface. Multiply enables bloggers to determine who can or cannot read their stuff. Most of the time, for bloggers like them, they require you to be in their network. And to be in the network, you are at their mercy. Meaning, if he or she allows you to be in the network, then you can read their blog. If not, you can carry your sorry ass to other more accomodating blogs.

To me there's no such thing as "eyes only" or "for private viewing only" in cyberspace. The fact that you chose to blog means that you should be prepared to let other eyeballs read your musings. The impression people get if you block them from reading your posts is that you are high and mighty. Poorah, ingapoo!

Okaylah, maybe I'm a bit prejudice on one or two individuals. Heck, make that one individual. Some of you may say - "So, what, it's his/her blog, he/she can do whatever he/she wants to do." Yeah, I guess there is a certain spark of truth to it. Like the 60s song by Lesley Gore "It's My Party". You know, the song that goes like this : "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to, cry if I want to."
Yeah, yeah, point taken.

But still, I firmly believe, bloggers should make their writings public property. Have the balls like Ahiruddin Atan (Rocky's Bru) or Raja Petra Kamaruddin (Malaysia Today). Kalau tidak, setakat syok sendiri aje buat apa, betul tak? Tak ada maknanya!!!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Park Properly, Please!

I went to Suria KLCC with my wife and kids today, just to spend some quality time with them before another tough week at work begins. I bought a pair of new shoes (50% off), and my wife got some stuff as well, namely Adidas, Converse, Seed and Cultivate from Isetan. (Sigh..) Surprisingly, my daughters didn't demand anything. My eldest daughter just bought some Barbie stickers and my youngest daughter was happy enough exhausting all my coins for the Barney, Bananas In Pajamas and Thomas & Friends rides.

Anyway, after spending close to 4 hours there, I was just relieved to go home and spend my remaining Sunday hours lazing around (zzz zzz to be more precise). But when we reached our car at Level P2 of KLCC's basement car park, we were suprised to see a metallic silver BMW 3 series parked next to my Honda Civic in a very, very uncivilised manner / position. The Beemer took up a quarter of my parking bay and it was about an inch apart from the port-side (left side) of my car. It was almost impossible for my wife and kids to get in from that side. In the end, we had to put the kids in the car first from the starboard-side (right side) of my car before my wife entered, and that too after I moved my Honda out of our bay (even that took an effort and extra careful maneouvering to ensure my car didn't brushed with the Beemer). Anyway, once my wife was safely in the car and the kids buckled up safe and sound in the rear seats, I disembarked to put in my youngest daughter's Graco stroller in the boot. The stroller was still in my parking bay. I folded the stroller neatly and expertly, something which I've done for the past 6 years. And at the last possible moment, before I put it away in the boot, I swung the rather bulky stroller towards the Beemer's left side mirror, shattering it to pieces. The Beemer's alarm immediately came to life and the whole of Level P2 car park was given a free car alarm recital, compliments of me. Even my wife was suprised. "Was that necessary?!," she exclaimed. I said "Yes. Dah parking macam celaka, itu aje ubatnya." ("Yes. Since it's parked like shit, that's the only remedy.") I drove off without even a pinch of guilt. I see it as leverage. You see, for far too long, me and my wife have become victims of such ignorant and irresponsible drivers. Twice my wife's car was dented as a result of a hit and run - once at our very own housing area and the other at Mid Valley Megamall. My Honda Civic's right side mirror was nearly damaged because a speeding motorbike (kapcai) which was in the midst of zig-zagging (ciloking) its way through KL's afternoon traffic. Enough was enough. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

You see, this is exactly the problem with Malaysian drivers. I'm not saying that I'm a saint or a vicar when it comes to driving, but at least I try to be a good, considerate and responsible driver. Let's take parking for example where Malaysian drivers are famous for being notorious. I'll give you a classic example of how kiasu they can be. Ever noticed the forever jam-packed Jalan Ampang near Menara Citibank because of errant drivers double-parking (sometimes even triple-parked) their cars while they run off to pay their Citibank credit card? I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I simply don't understand why they must contribute more congestion to the already traffic-choked Jalan Ampang by illegally parking at the bank's kerb when they is AMPLE, I REPEAT AMPLE parking space at the basement of the building???? And it would only cost them RM1, again I repeat, RM1. And these people are actually driving Mercedes Benz, Beemers, Toyota Camry and even Porsche!!! Cheapskate and kiasu - hook, line and sinker. And they are actually suckers for not parking at the basement because if you park less than 5 minutes, it's free of charge. I know because each time I go to Menara Citibank to pay my credit card, I don't have to pay because I spend less than 5 minutes at the banking hall - Citibank makes available so many cash deposit machines, you hardly have to queue. By parking your car illegally at the kerb outside, you risk your car being towed away by City Hall's towing contractors. Now that will cost you RM300 to reclaim your car and you have to go all the way to City Hall's Car Pound in Jinjang. My friend who drives a Beemer painfully learned his lesson. Padan muka!

Another kiasu car parking scene is at Giant Supermarket Bukit Antarabangsa which is attached to a PETRONAS service station. To me, PETRONAS has built a well-planned and well-designed service station complete with basement parking to serve its customers, mainly because of Giant. But suprise, suprise, everyone wants to park at the roadside and even triple park in the service station area (most of the time near the petrol pump islands) just because they want faster and easier access to the main entrance of Giant! Now, how stupid can that be when all you have to do is cruise down to the huge basement parking, park nicely and just take the bloody elevator one floor up to Giant? Kenapa lah dia orang ni semua bangang sangat, hah??

Sometime I just wish my Honda Civic came factory-fitted with a GAU-17 Gatling machine gun and Side-Winder missiles so that I can blow these "inconsiderate parkers" to kingdom come. Such idiots. If they had their way, they might even want to park their cars inside the supermarket. My fingers are itching to pull the trigger already....

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Price War Always Good For Consumers

The Much Anticipated, Much Awaited 7th and Final Instalment of the Harry Porter Saga

I simply don’t understand why the four major bookstore chains in Malaysia – MPH, Times, Popular and Harris are crying foul over Tesco’s and Carrefour’s move to sell the much-awaited “Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows” novel at RM69.90, a discount of RM40 from the recommended retail price of RM109.90.

This is actually a major triumph for Malaysian consumers whom were forced to content with over-priced imported books by such bookstore chains for far too long. This is a lesson to the bookstore chains. A tight slap to their face. Even the Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, Datuk Mohd Shafie Apdal lauded the move by the British and French hypermarkets respectively. Enough said.

And to those who say they were disappointed and upset at the hypermarkets’ move to sell at RM69.90 which they claimed devalued the book – get a brain scan. Something is really wrong with your heads. Who in their right frame of mind would want to pay more when they know they could get the same stuff at RM40 cheaper?

To the bookstore chains, welcome to the free market. Let us hope this trend of price war would continue for the benefit of all consumers. May the best retailer win. Bravo Tesco and Carrefour!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Friendship Fallouts - Dealing With It

For those of you who have been following this blog from day one, you may have noted in my very first post that I promised this blog (which replaced "Oh For Crying Out Loud") would not have any lovey dovey, kissey smoochy, sappy soapy tales.

But just for today, I want to discuss something which most of us may have experienced before - friendship fallout.

Nothing prepares you for the day you realize a close friendship is over. Whether it's been suddenly destroyed by an act of betrayal or dies slowly of benign neglect, few life changes are as unforgettable and regrettable as learning that your main girl buddy whom you just knew you could count on, no longer regards you as one of her top ten companions in her list. In fact, you're out of the list. For good. There is no list anymore.

Often the hardest part is accepting it and moving on. There's no shortage of smart advice on how to recover when a love affair ends. But how do you process the pain when a best girlfriend breaks your heart? Who do you turn to for advice when your ace boon and number one confidante--who always had solutions for you--has now become the problem?

"Developmental issues are the main reason for friendship fallout," explains Marlene F. Watson, Ph.D., Director of Couples and Family Therapy at Drexel University in Philadelphia. "What you used to have in common changes. Maybe your friend gets married, or she becomes a mother, so the two of you no longer socialize because she doesn't have time for that sort of thing anymore."

Funny and ironic that I stumbled across Dr. Watson's views on this issue while Googling in the Internet. What she said was what I actually experienced. Only difference was that my girl buddy was already married with a kid and she started giving me the cold shoulder when she was pregnant with her second kid. Eventually, the friendship fell apart. Well, what to do. You win some, you lose some. I'm done weeping and mourning over this. I'm over it now. I think. I hope.

Anyway, I still bump into her occassionally because we work in the same company. Most of the time, she just looks away and avoid my stare at all cost. I must have done something really bad to her to be accorded such treatment. If she happens to read this - I still think you're wonderful.

Well, que sera sera, whatever will be will be. In the meantime, here's Rossa's Terlalu Cinta for all of us who had to face friendship fallouts.

Terlalu Cinta - Rossa Music and Lyrics

Terlalu Cinta - Rossa
Jangan dekat atau jangan datang kepadaku lagi
Aku semakin tersiksa karena tak memilikimu
Kucoba jalani hari dengan pengganti dirimu
Tapi hatiku selalu berpihak lagi padamu

Mengapa semua ini terjadi kepadaku

Tuhan maafkan diri ini
Yang tak pernah bisa menjauh dari angan tentangnya
Namun apalah daya ini
Bila ternyata sesungguhnya aku terlalu cinta dia…

Tapi hatiku selalu berpihak lagi padamu

Mengapa semua ini terjadi kepadaku

Tuhan maafkan diri ini
Yang tak pernah bisa menjauh dari angan tentangnya
Namun apalah daya ini
Bila ternyata sesungguhnya aku terlalu cinta dia

Mengapa semua ini terjadi kepadaku

Tuhan maafkan diri ini
Yang tak pernah bisa menjauh dari angan tentangnya
Namun apalah daya ini
Bila ternyata sesungguhnya aku terlalu cinta dia…

Aku terlalu cinta dia…
Get other lyrics, and HTML code like this. Click here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I'm Back! And With A Cool Gadget Too!!

My sleek and sexy O2 Xda Zinc, hoo, hoo!!!

Goodness gracious me! It's been almost a month since I last posted anything in this blog. I guessed the tag by Cheekysmile gave me a wake-up call, hehehe. Kinda cute actually her tag - "Achoo! This blog is dusty."

Well, to be honest, I became discouraged to blog for the past month or so mainly due to my internet connection at the office which was very slow, even after office hours (I blog after work, okay...). I finally got the problem fixed today and it was actually a teeny, weeny problem which was easily rectified by the IT guy. It seemed that all I had to do was change the proxy setting at Internet Options and walla, I get light speed internet connection again. Apparently, the company purposely set the default proxy setting to a snails pace which prevented us from downloading mainly foreign websites. No wonder it took me forever to load pages from Wikipedia, Blogger etc. Only local websites loaded on a normal pace. Anyway, thanks and kudos to the IT guy for fixing the problem. He was kind enough to give the superspeed proxy setting which ensures bullet train internet speed, hehehe.

Anyway, a lot happened to me in the past 3 weeks. I was practically buried with work. My major project was producing a handbook for distribution to the company's top and senior management, and also to the press. The handbook actually outlined our company's plans and activities for Malaysia's 50th Independence celebration. Our company, as a major player in a very lucrative industry and major contributor to the nation's economic wellbeing, was of course expected by the country's leadership to play a huge role in this year's Golden Jubilee independence celebration. Whatever. I have to admit, it was the toughest assignment so far eversince I joined this company 2 years ago. I lost count how many times I had to face my Senior GM during the content reviewing process. Rewrites upon rewrites upon rewrites. Most of the time, I ended up working until midnight and at one time, even until 2 am to meet the printing deadline. I hardly saw my kids during that time and I missed them terribly. Most of the time, when I reached home, they were already asleep. Anyway, last weekend was the best weekend ever. I think I spent sufficient quality time with them, and of course, with my wife too. ;-)

Oh, I finally gotten around to buying myself a new cellphone, after 4 long years of using my ageing ever faithful Nokia I-Don't-Even-Remember-The-Model-Number. My youngest brother, who's a gadget crazy dude, managed to drag me to Low Yat Plaza in Bukit Bintang last two weekends in my quest to hunt for a new phone. I ended up indulging myself by spending close to RM3,000 for a cool, sleek and state-of-the-art Pocket PC instead. The O2 Xda Zinc. I can't believe I actually did that. But it was worth it. The apek who sold me the thing also threw in a Toshiba 2GB Mini SD storage card and screen protecter. I love my new Pocket PC. It is a PDA, computer, phone, camera, camcorder, organizer and audio/video player all in one. It runs on Windows Mobile 5.0, complete with Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) and whole load of other cool softwares. The apek at Low Yat even installed a supplementary software called SPB which is commonly used by PDA users. SPB has nice 3D icons for your programme shortcuts, hehehe. I chose the Xda Zinc because it's the only O2 PDA with a QWERTY keyboard. Other O2 Xdas such as Atom, Atom Life and Flame does not come with one.

Whatever it is, I'm finally mobile, I mean truly mobile. I can check my office e-mails via GPRS, surf the internet, listen to my favourite songs, take pictures of my bubbly kids and lovely wife and a million more tasks which I've yet to explore with my new baby - the O2 Xda Zinc. I like!

Well, I think that's enough blogging for one day. Catch up with you guys in another post tomorrow, I hope. Now, back to my O2 Xda Zinc.....

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

ASTRO Fee Hike : Unsubscribe Or Just Pay Up and Shut Up

Wow, I think this is the longest time I didn't post anything new in my blog. 13 days to be exact. Two reasons actually :

1. I was buried with work, hehehe (still am)

2. Internet connection (or server?) at my office was really slow for the past two weeks or so, preventing me to even log in to to update my blog

Anyway, now that the Internet connection is up and running again as it should be, I thought I had better take advantage of the situation (before the server becomes slow again - it always happens here in this great multinational because the ICT company engaged to maintain all computer related matters are doing a lousy job) and post something new in my blog.

And thanks to all of you who still find time to visit despite nothing new being posted. Appreciate it.

Anyway, today, yet another letter from another disgruntled Astro subscriber published in the New Straits Times. This time, it's Mr. Azmi Atan of Petaling Jaya. He feels that it was time for the government to issue more satellite TV licences to other companies, in light of recent unilateral moves by Astro to expand its revenue. (For international readers, Astro is the sole satellite television service provider who has enjoyed a monopoloy in Malaysia for more than 10 years now. It had a potential rival in the form of MiTV a couple of years ago but easily whacked the pathetic upstart which is now as good as dead eventhough it's still around). Back to the issue, Astro created another controversy a few weeks ago by announcing that it would increase its monthly subscription rate between RM5 to RM15, depending on the existing packages subscribed by its more than one million customers. Of course, being typical Malaysians, majority of Astro subscribed sweared and curse the satellite tv provider and hurled all sorts of accusation, claiming Astro to be the mother of all bloodsuckers and short-changing them by adding new channels which they don't even need.

Yeah, yeah, we have every right to complain and fight for our consumer rights. But then again, what choice do we have? What possible good would giving out more licences to operate a satellite tv service do to Malaysian viewers? The government already gave that opportunity to MiTV which may I remind you, is back by another strong tycoon - Mr. Vincent Tan and his Berjaya group. (Astro is owned by Malaysia's richest man - T. Ananda Krishan). But look what happened to MiTV. It's already dead but they decided to keep the body to rott until a proper funeral could be arranged, so to speak. In a nuthshell, MiTV got whacked big time by Astro due to poor marketing strategies and poor choice of channels being offered. So, come to think of it again, Astro must be doing something right, kan? Why didn't people like Azmi Atan shifted allegiance to MiTV back then? No one forced us to subscribe to Astro. It's all in our hands.

So far, I have no problems with Astro. I pay my Astro bill on time so that I can be assured of uninterrupted service. In fact, I have two Astro decoders - one for my viewing pleasure with my wife, and one for my kids to watch their Disney Channel. No complaints at all because as of now, Astro is the only source of multiple entertainment which the existing 9 terrestrial tv stations could not offer or match. I want my HBO, my Star Movies, my AXN and my ESPN. My wife wants her Astro Ria, E! and StarWorld. My kids want their Disney Channel and Playhouse Disney. And for 6 years, Astro has delivered to our expectations, since we first subscribed in January 2001. I can still remember because the Astro subscription was part of a package offered by EON when I bought my first car - the Proton Wira.

To Azmi Atan and all other whining Astro subscribers - just de-subscribe if you don't want to pay the additional RM5 to RM15. Otherwise, just pay up and shut up. The choice is yours....

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Just Live With It, Malaysian MU Fans

Kecoh la peminat-peminat Manchester United (MU) kat Malaysia ni. I don't understand why MU fans are so angry and dissapointed that their beloved English Premier League (EPL) club is not coming to Malaysia for their Asian Summer Tour. Sampaikan Khairy Jamaluddin pun sibuk nak bercakap jugak.

For the benefit of those clueless about this, MU fans in Malaysia voiced anger and dissapointment yesterday after a tour match featuring the newly crowned EPL champions was cancelled. All because the Football Association of Malaysian (FAM) has to to kow tow to the wishes of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for MU to either cancel or delay their Malaysian visit to ensure that prominence would be given to the less glamourous Asian Cup which would also be held during the time MU is scheduled to play a Malaysian selection side on 27 July. AFC's reason was they feared that less people would watch the Asian Cup and opt for the star-studded MU match. Hahaha. Personally, I don't give a shit. Number one because I'm not an Asian football fan. Number two, I'm an Arsenal fan. Hah!

So, to MU fans out there including Khairy Jamaluddin, tough luck. Just live with it. You guys should be worried about the 07/08 EPL season because The Gunners will be much stronger than before. Go Arsenal and go all London clubs - Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspurs, Westham United and Fulham. Touche'!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Price Of Overdoing It

The lovely Miss Zara Salim Davidson, soon to be Raja Puan Besar Perak. This picture was officially released by the palace. Have to tell you, this is definitely a much, much better picture than the one published by Utusan and Kosmo yesterday.

Why am I not suprised? I guess everyone especially those in the media fraternity saw it coming. I bet even Utusan Malaysia and Kosmo! newspaper saw it coming, them being the culprit of this mess. Aku dah agak dah. I'm talking about Utusan Malaysia's and Kosmo!'s bold move to jump the gun and reveal the identity of Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah's bride-to-be, Miss Zara Salim Davidson, complete with an undated photo on the front pages of both paper's edition yesterday. This, despite the request from the Sultan of Perak's office for all media to wait for official statements from the palace which would be released in stages. And of course, the palace is very upset now with Utusan and Kosmo. Isk, isk, shame on you Utusan and Kosmo for sidelining protocol.
I know the real intention of Utusan and Kosmo actually. It's all because of circulation and readership. In their quest to beat their rivals - Berita Harian and Harian Metro respectively, they over did it. All newspapers, including the English ones - New Straits Times, The Star and The Sun, respected the palace's request by not mentioning Zara's name and not publishing any picture. In the first place, I wonder where on earth Utusan and Kosmo obtained Zara's picture which was obviously taken in the 1980s or early 1990s. You can tell by the Julia Rais hairstyle and make-up.
Anyway, I doubt it if Utusan and Kosmo would be penalised for this. They usually get away with it. Besides, the palace knows that they need Utusan's and Kosmo's support for future publicity of the Perak royal family. In a way, I guess Utusan's and Kosmo's gamble will pay off. To the editors there, to get a shelling from the palace is such a small price to pay for the highest circulation and readership yesterday. Obviously, Utusan and Kosmo were selling like hotcakes at the newstands nationwide yesterday because of Zara's front page picture. I totally understand the move made by the papers' editors because I was also a former journalist. Sensationalization of news definitely sells. Now that is something palace officials will never, never understand.
Oh by the way, I have some minor corrections to make regarding Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah's and Zara Davidson's profile. Raja Nazrin was actually born in Penang. Thanks to my friend Realnews for pointing that out. And Zara is not a lawyer, she's a chemical engineer. Hehe. Ampuan tuanku beribu-ribu ampun, sembah patik harap diampun. And I guess I was also wrong when I said that both of them knew each other during their PETRONAS days. That is highly unlikely because Raja Nazrin was in PETRONAS during the early 80s while Zara only joined the national oil company in 1995. Again, apologies to Tuanku and Miss Zara.
Whatever it is, Zara also has an impressive CV. Top of her class at Nottingham University, former Perak state swimmer and top-notch executive at PETRONAS who was part of the team responsible for setting up the national oil company's Kertih and Kuantan integrated petrochemical complexes. She left PETRONAS in 2001 to join Formis before seting up her own oil and gas exploration consultancy company.
To my friends at Utusan Malaysia and Kosmo, please be more careful and tactful in your subsequent stories about Raja Nazrin's and Zara's wedding. The Perak royal family deserves some form of respect from all of us, okay? No point in trying to scoop one another. There's plenty of meat to chew for everyone in the Malaysian media fraternity.
Daulat Tuanku!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Selamat Pengatin Baru, Tuanku!

Finally, one of the country's most eligible bachelors will call it a day for his single life. The Raja Muda of Perak (Crown Prince of the state of Perak), Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah, will tie the knot with the lady of his choice - Miss Zara Davidson of English-Malay parentage.
Alhamdulillah. It seems the prayers of the people of Perak and many Malaysians too (I suspect) has been answered. You see, Raja Nazrin is not getting any younger. He's already 50 years old. I'm not suprised if some of his peers are already playing with several grandchildren. But I have to admit, he's good looking with that sought after boyish disposition (like me, chewah, hahahah). But seriously, Raja Nazrin is a handsome man. He's got the package - handsome, articulate, debonair, gentlemen, highly educated and affluent, of course. And to be honest, I am proud of him because I come from the state of Perak. Well, my parents to be exact. I was born and bred in Kuala Lumpur. Well what d'ya know? Raja Nazrin was also born in Kuala Lumpur. And we also went to the same school for our early education, at St. John's Institution, Bukit Nanas. Hehehe.

I've always liked the Perak royal family. From the father, Sultan Azlan Shah (the current Sultan of Perak), to the mother, Tuanku Bainun, (the current Raja Permaisuri of Perak) and his siblings - the beautiful Raja Azureen (I named my youngest daughter after her), Raja Ashman Shah, Raja Eleena (another babe) and Raja Yong Sofia. All of them are like their father - highly educated and all of them qualified lawyers except for Raja Nazrin who is a qualified economist. Their mother, Tuanku Bainun, is a graduate educator who was part of the first batch of Malaysians sent to the prestigious Kirkby College for Teachers in England way back in the 1950s. Like I said, a really, really articulate and highly educated bunch. Oh, I forgot to mention, their father, Sultan Azlan Shah, was Malaysia's Lord President (now called Chief Justice) before he relinquished the post to become the Raja Muda of Perak in 1984 and on to become the Sultan of Perak a few months later when his predecessor, Sultan Idris Shah passed away suddenly. Sultan Azlan Shah still holds the record (in the Guiness Book of Records) as the world's highest educated monarch. Cool, kan?

Anyway, back to Raja Nazrin's wedding, I'm sure it's going to be a gala event. It doesn't matter if he's already 50 years old. I'm hoping that his wedding would even top the so-called Wedding Of The Decade of the country's pop sensation, Siti Nurhaliza with Datuk K. In fact, it should be. Raja Nazrin deserves a grand wedding because he's not only first in line to the Perak throne but also because he's sort of a celebrity too. He is the most quoted royalty by the Malaysian media mainly because he's able to give out intelligent comments on many current issues.

As for his bride, Miss Zara Davidson, all I know is that she is half English and half Malay (her mother is a member of the Kedah royal family). She's also a practising lawyer and a former PETRONAS executive. Rumour has it that Raja Nazrin and Zara has known each other during their PETRONAS days. (Raja Nazrin was also a PETRONAS executive in the early 80s).

Well, whatever it is, Selamat Pengantin Baru to Raja Nazrin and Miss Zara. Daulat Tuanku!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

When Spidey Turned To The Dark Side....

Spiderman Contemplating His Future In The Dark Suit : Your Friendly Neighbourhood Or Your Evil Neighbourhood?

I must say I'm proud to be among the first 300 or so Malaysians to catch the premiere of the highly anticipated Spiderman 3 when it opened on Labour Day (1 May). In fact, Malaysians got to watch "Your Friendly Neighbourhoodliness" 4 days before it actually opened in the United States. Wow, Malaysia Boleh!

Anyway, I was lucky to get tickets - on the first show actually, 10.45 am!! I bought the ticket on Sunday, 29th April after jogging at KLCC Park. On the off-chance of getting a ticket, I made my way to TGV Cinema at Level 3 of Suria KLCC and was delighted to see that the cineplex opened a dedicated counter for Spiderman 3 advanced bookings. And even more delighted to discover there were only two more tickets left for the 10.45 am matinee on May 1. But since both seats were worlds apart, I decided to just buy one, seat H23 which was a really good seat - 8 rows from the screen, right at the very end of the left side of Cineplex 5. Besides, my wife already told me that she didn't mind me watching it alone because nowadays, she preferred to stay home with the girls on a public holiday. Hehehe.

Anyway, I must say, it's one of the best movies I've seen in a long, long time. Well worth the wait. And I thought the first two was good. This one is even better. Best! Two thumbs up!

Here's how the story goes (sourced from Wikipedia, various other Spidey websites and of course, through my own knowledge and observation) :

After finally being able to find a balance between being Spider-Man, and spending time with Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) begins to feel secure in his life. However, he is soon attacked by a vengeful Harry Osborn (James Franco), who has powered himself up with his late father's creation, Oscorp's "Human-Performance Enhancer" gas and becomes the New Goblin with hi-tech weaponry and a powerful surfboard-like glider known as Sky-Stick for the purpose of destroying Peter. A clash in the heart of Manhanttan, New York City between the two former friends leaves Harry with short-term amnesia, and he no longer feels anger towards Peter.

One night, a tiny meteor crash-lands in a park (I think Central Park, where else) where Peter and Mary Jane are on a date. Unknown to Peter, the meteor contains a black, alien symbiote, which hitches a ride home with Peter on his motorcycle, and eventually bonds with his Spider-Man costume at night, when he is asleep. After the bonding, Peter finds his costume has changed; it is now black in colour, and has augmented and enhanced his previous spider-powers.

Meanwhile, Captain George Stacy (James Cromwell) of the New York Police Department (NYPD) informs Peter and Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) that the man who was apprehended on the night of the shooting of Ben Parker (Cliff Robertson) was not his real killer; instead, an investigation revealed that he was merely an accomplice of Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), an escaped convict from Riker's Island prison. The NYPD pursue Marko, and Marko accidentally falls into a physics particle accelerator filled with sand, which molecularly bonds to his body and turns him into the Sandman.

Meanwhile, the black suit starts bringing out Spider-Man's more violent and vengeful side, and he seemingly kills Marko after a battle in a disused New York subway tunnel by turning Marko into mud (by flooding him with water) and allowing him to wash into the sewer system. The darker side of the suit begins to transform Peter's personality as well, causing him to expose a new photographer at the Daily Bugle, Eddie Brock, Jr. (Topher Grace, of That 70's Show fame), as a fraud, while stealing his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard), who happens to be Captain Stacy's daughter. His behavior causes him to push Mary Jane away, and she finds solace in Harry Osborn. However, Harry soon recovers from his amnesia and lures Peter into his mansion to kill him. Peter defeats Harry and throws a pumpkin bomb back at him; the explosion scars Harry badly on one side of his face.

Peter tries to humiliate Mary Jane by openly dating Gwen Stacy in front of her. However, Peter accidentally assaults Mary Jane during a brief struggle at a jazz club. Completely ashamed of his recent actions, Peter goes to a church tower and rips the black suit off; as the symbiote is sensitive to noise, the ringing of the church bell agitates it and causes it to weaken. Coincidentally, a humiliated Brock goes to the same church and prays for God to smite Peter Parker, before overhearing the churchbell ringing. Entering the belltower to investigate, Eddie sees an unmasked Spider-Man, whom he's shocked to realize is Peter Parker. Some of the symbiote falls from the tower and lands on Brock, and upon sensing his hatred of Parker, it envelopes him wholly, forming
Venom, another villain of Spiderman. Venom approaches the Sandman and claims that the two are united by a common desire to destroy Spider-Man and the latter agrees to help him.

Venom and Sandman kidnap Mary Jane and dangle her 80 stories above the New York streets at a construction site. Peter approaches Harry for help, saying he cannot fight both villains at once, but Harry refuses. Spider-Man arrives on the scene and is brutally beaten by the Sandman until Harry, who has just learned that his father did indeed die by his own hands, flies to Peter and Mary Jane's aid as the New Goblin. Peter rescues Mary Jane, and he and Harry battle Venom and the Sandman together. As the fight progresses, Venom grabs hold of Harry's glider and throws it at Peter; Harry jumps in front of Peter and the glider impales him instead.

Peter attempts to free Eddie of the black symbiote, clanging pipes together to weaken it. However, Eddie has grown too attached to the power the symbiote provides, and attempts to save the symbiote just as Peter throws a pumpkin bomb at it; Eddie dies in the explosion. However the symbiote does not die this way, instead it begins growing rapidly from the remains of Eddie's body. Here it begins forming around the construction site untill the hostless Venom creature attempts to re bond itself to Peter. Here Spider-Man kills it once and for all. Sandman tells Peter that he had no intention of killing Ben Parker that fateful night, but that it was an accident caused by fear and desperation. Peter forgives Flint, and the Sandman disappears. Harry does not survive his wounds and dies with Mary Jane and Peter by his side. Peter and Mary Jane revive their relationship, after attending their friend's funeral.

Begitulah ceritanya. It's quite sad actually because Harry had to die just when he was about to be friends again with Peter. Anyway, the special effects in Spidey 3 is so cool, I guess it's a natural progression from the first two instalments. And Spidey actually has to take on 3 villains this time around - New Goblin, Sandman and Venom. A lot of people actually confuses Venom as the bad Spiderman, mainly because he looks a lot like Spiderman. Only difference is that he has a more menacing look in the form of a really big mouth lined with sharp fangs. But don't be confused - Venom is totally another person and not Spiderman's dark side.

As for Sandman, he is actually an old villain of Spidey. He has been around in the Marvel comicbook universe, especially in the Amazing Spiderman comics since September 1963. Venom is a much newer villain, only introduced by Stan Lee in 1988. And as for the new Goblin, he's actually a progression from his late father, Norman Osborn aka the Green Goblin, Spidey's sworn arch-villain.

As for Peter Parker and Mary Jane's relationship, one can only guess the direction. I wonder whether they'll actually get married or not. The thing is, Spidey's creator, Stan Lee and director, Sam Raimi themselves are not even sure if they want to do Spiderman 4 and Lee has made it clear that if there was to be a fourth instalment, he would still want Tobey and Kirsten to be in it. Well, I guess that goes without saying lah, kan? Tak kan le Harun Salim Bachik pulak nak jadi Spiderman, kan? We'll see.....

Monday, April 30, 2007

Ipoh A Space Tourism Hub?? Oh Please!

An artist concept drawing of the suborbital space plane, Ascender. Can't bring myself to imagine that this sleek and sexy thing would zoom out from Ipoh, Perak Darul Ridzuan. Boleh ke yeop?

If you need a good laugh, check out page 6 of The Sun newspaper today. The title of the news story is "Ipoh Proposed As Space Tourism Airport." My first reaction - kah! kah! kah! kah!

Either something is really wrong with the brain of the space tourism consultant, Dr. Patrick Collins when making that proposal or the already desperate and pathetic Perak state government bribed him to the max to make such statements.

I actually sympathize with the Perak state government. For the benefit of foreign readers out there, Ipoh is the state capital of Perak, located about 200 km up north of Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. Perak was once famous for being the world's largest tin producer through its tin mines sprawled all over the Kinta Valley in the heart of the state. Now unfortunately, the state of Perak has nothing great to offer, except for one or two tourist atractions which to me personally, are nothing much to shout about in this day and time.

That's why I can understand the desperation of the Perak Menteri Besar (State Chief Minister), Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali in securing some sort of deal with Space Future Consulting, the so-called space tourism consultants, to turn the underutilized Sultan Azlan Shah (LTSAS) airport into a "space-bound" airport. How pathethic.

For your info, Space Future Consulting (SFC) is an international UK-based consultancy group that provides advice and analysis to the space, tourism, and media industries. As part of their operations, they maintain the informational web site, the foremost source of information on space tourism, power, and vehicles on the Internet. SFC was the first in the world to carry out market research into the field of space tourism, and its work has been endorsed extensively by others, including NASA in its recently published report, "General Public Space Transport and Tourism". SFC's head, Dr Patrick Collins, is the leading researcher in this field and has published papers on the subject for over 15 years.

Here's why Dr. Collins feel that the LTSAS is good for the project. He says that the Ipoh airport is strategically located at the centre of West Malaysia and supported by good transportation network. More importantly, the airport has low airline traffic unlike the KL International Airport (KLIA). Hmmm. What do you think?

My personal view is that this should be a national effort, not just the Perak state government's effort. It seems now that SFC is dealing direct with Perak rather than with the federal government. To me, the day Malaysia Airlines cancelled its flights from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh due to low load factor, was the day Ipoh aiport was laid to rest. The airport is now dead and not worth saving at all. We might as well make KLIA the space tourism hub, don't you think? At least, it'll place KLIA prominently once again on the world's airports map, and help it's current struggle to attract the world's major airlines to land there.

Anyway, back to this space tourism thingy, Collins said the initial cost was estimated at RM100 million and it includes plans to conduct 100 test flights using the Ascender suborbital spaceplane which can carry space tourists, astronauts and facilitate scientific experiments.

Some background on the Ascender : It will be manufactured by UK-based Bristol Spaceplanes Limited and takes off like a normal passenger jetliner from a normal runaway. It does not require a full-fledged launch pad like the space shuttle or rockets launched by NASA or the Russian Space Agency. The Ascender is still in concept development phase and God knows when it will actually be produced.

Dear Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli, I suggest you use the RM100 to eradicate poverty among Perak's hardcore poor. How does that sound? We've already wasted so much money sending two poster boys who think they're so good looking to go to space performing kiddy experiments while their Russian cosmonauts counterparts perform the serious experiments for the good of mankind. Sudah-sudah lah tu. Tak ada maknanya!!!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Was MMEA Necessary In The First Place?

The New Straits Times carried a story today about the predicament faced by the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN). The story quoted RMN Chief, Admiral Ramlan Mohamed Ali as saying that the RMN was facing a serious shortage of men and ships following the handing over of 1,300 commissioned officers and enlisted men, and 17 vessels to the newly-formed Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) last year.
Hmm, what has happened? A year ago, everyone was so excited when Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak launched the MMEA which was regarded as Malaysia's very own Coast Guard.

Ini le masalahnya dengan kita ni. Orang ada Coast Guard, kita pun nak ada Coast Guard. Itu lah mengada-ngada namanya. This is the problem with us. Just because other people have Coast Guards, we must also have Coast Guards. And now the number one sailor in the country is complaining that he's facing a serious shortage of naval personnel in the Navy which is supposed to be our first line of defence should enemies attack from the sea.

I think we should give Admiral Ramlan's statement a serious thought. Which is more important? The Navy or the Coast Guard? I say the former. You see, Malaysia is not as big as the United States. The US requires a full-fledged Coast Guard because their coastline is so vast and long, the US Navy can't possibly be entrusted with the responsibility to safeguard the US territorial waters full time. But here in Malaysia, did we really need the MMEA in the first place? What good would it do if the creation of the agency would result in the Navy's personnel and assets being shrinked to expand the personnel and assets of MMEA?

This is further proof of really, really lousy planning by the government. The MMEA's fleet and personnel expansion should have been done at it's own expenses, not the Navy's. And of course, to further add to all this gobbledygook, it make no sense at all that MMEA personnel are considered civil servants rather than military. Now what crap is that? For your information, the MMEA is placed under direct jurisdiction of the Prime Minister's Department. It would only be placed under the Malaysian Armed Forces command during war or emergency/crisis times. Well, I guess this is further proof that MMEA is a copy cat of the US Coast Guard. The USCG is placed under the Department of Homeland Security during peace time and under the US Navy during war time. But please bear in mind that the USCG is actually a mirror-image of the US Navy where the rank structure is exactly the same as the Navy. That's why they are still regarded as a military outfit. But our MMEA is actually a concoction (rojak in Malay) of seconded personnel from the RMN, Marine Police, Customs, Fisheries Department, Administrative and Diplomatic Service, Judicial and Legal Service and a whole load of other government services under the Public Services Commission. Now that kind of mixture I tell ya, is a recipe for disaster.

I personally feel that MMEA is redundant to the roles and function of the Navy. I say let our sailors do the job of defending Malaysia's territorial waters. Unless of course, the government is willing to spend huge sums of money to ensure that both entities expand side by side, and not at the expense of either one. To our sailors, hold your head up high and do us proud. Let's hear it for the Royal Malaysian Navy....

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Income Tax Woes

It's that time of the year again dreaded by everyone in the working world. Yep, it's income tax time. For Malaysians, we have another 5 days left to submit our Income Tax BE Form (declaration of income for the tax assessment year of 2006) before the April 30th deadline. We have to submit the form to the Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri or Inland Revenue Board (IRB) which the equivalent of the IRS in the States.

To be honest, I'm still struggling to do mine, hehehe. Not that it's difficult but because I kept delaying and delaying until the last possible moment. Well, I'm like that - last minute kind of guy. And when I say it's not difficult, I'm not kidding. You don't need to know rocket science to calculate your taxes here in Malaysia because the process has been simplified by the IRB. Unlike in the States where you have to keep all your receipts for expenses incurred during the previous assessment year and also requiring a tax agent or consultant to actually do it for you. Here in Malaysia, individuals who "makan gaji" or earn their salaries through employment, do their taxes on their own. Only businessmen engage the services of a tax agent.
I'm proud to say that I've always submitted my tax returns on time and paid all the required amount. It also helps that I have "Potongan Cukai Berjadual" or "Scheduled Tax Deduction" from my monthly salary which is automatically credited to the IRB by my employer. The good thing about this is that you don't really feel the pinch of paying your annual income tax because most of the time, the amount which has been deducted during the previous year would already cover the required tax amount. You only need to pay the difference.
But for the past two years, I've been feeling the pinch actually, eversince joining my current employer. Eventhough I earn more here, I have to pay more in taxes. That's the bitter irony of it all. The higher your pay, the higher your taxes. Now is that cruel of what?

I finally got down to doing my taxes today. And I felt sick to my stomach when I found out how much I have to pay this time around. Damn. Even the scheduled tax deduction couldn't cover the amount. Hmm, maybe some creative accounting will do the trick....

Another Campaign At The Expense Of Taxpayers

A typical polluted river in Malaysia. This one is Sungai Juru
or Juru River up north in the state of Penang (the PM's state)

I shook my head in disbelief when I saw the news on tv last night. The story was about Malaysia's Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid aka Mr. Normala Samsudin. In his press conference after a function in Johor, he openly admitted that the 14-year old "Cintai Sungai Kita" or "Love Our Rivers" campaign was a failure and will be replaced with a more comprehensive one in June. In fact, the government was going to spend an additional RM7 million to rebrand the campaign. And of course, dear old Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will relaunch it. Isk, isk, so typical Malaysian way of doing it. I mean, what the hell?!! What is wrong with our leaders, anyway? Doesn't the minister know that even if you spent a billion ringgit in campaigns, it won't change anything as long as the typical Malaysian mentality remains the same.

Well, he's right about one thing though. The campaign is a failure. Just look at the rivers in Malaysia - filled with all sorts of unimaginable elements, objects, things which I don't even want to discuss. Azmi said that of the 186 riverine systems, 17 were so badly polluted they could not sustain any form of life.

Here's a little background dugged from Bernama : The "Love Our Rivers" campaign was launched by the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) way back in 1993 to educate the public on the importance of rivers, while highlighting the critical state of pollution faced by Malaysia's rivers. The country has about 150 major river basins, of which 100 are in the peninsula. The campaign, mainly involves marshalling individuals, communities, schools, corporate bodies and the public sector to carry out projects like river cleaning, river beautification, pollution rehabilitation, river adoption and education programmes.

You see what the problem is here? We in Malaysia are so good at making things look good on paper. Here in Malaysia, everything looks good on paper, to a point that sometimes it's almost flawless. But then comes the question of implementation. This is where we suck. We really, really suck when it comes to doing it.

I think the government should just channel the RM7 million to rehabilitate the most polluted rivers in the country in a sort of panic-mode like manner. Treat the usage of that RM7 million as emergency funds to save rivers. At least we'll know for sure whether the rivers could be still be saved or not. Once we manage to rehabilitate a few rivers, then we'll already have the required momentum and all that is left to do is continue to duplicate what has been done earlier to those few experimental rivers to other rivers nationwide. Makes more sense, right?

Sudah-sudah lah tu with all this rebranding and relaunching crap. Enough is enough with all this rebranding shit which is just a waste of money. Money that we don't have actually. And if the government is really serious in saving our rivers from being further polluted, why don't we rope in the armies of "mat rempits" to help out do the cleaning and rehabilitating. If they can successfully parachute from a plane onto the bleak and frigid North Pole at ultra sub-zero temperatures, I'm sure they can also successfully clean our rivers under a heavenly equatorial climate. What say you Putera Umno? Are you game for it? Nah, I thought so....

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A New Beginning...

Dear Friends and Readers,

Don't be alarmed. Yes, yes, my previous blog "Oh For Crying Out Loud" has been deleted. Well, to be more exact, accidently deleted. Errm, well, intentionally deleted. Hehehe.

You see, what happened was, I wanted to enhance the blog with some photos (if you noticed, my previous blog was purely text). So, I asked a friend to help me out because she's supposed to be the blog expert. But to my dismay, in her attempt to assist me, she accidently caused my chatbox to be deleted which was a result of changing to a new template in Something like that.

Anyway, I kinda lost my mood and interest and decided to delete the blog, which was almost celebrating its first anniversary in a few more months.

No worries. I'm not angry with my friend because I love her to death. But she's gonna help me build this new blog until it's happening again.

So bear with me, I'm working on it. It'll still be the same concept - current affairs and views on a range of issues. No lovey dovey kissy smoochey crap.

I hope to get my chatbox back in this blog later today.

In the meantime, welcome to Fox One, Fox Two, Fox Three.

I promise, you won't regret reading it. Watch this space!