Monday, December 27, 2010

When will the lesson on road safety be "driven" home?

Another carnage of a tour bus happened all over again on Monday, 20 December 2010, just as we are about to wrap up 2010, this time with 28 fatalities, involving 26 Thai tourists and two Malaysians (the bus driver and a tourist guide)... the highest number ever recorded in Malaysian history. A high-decked tour bus en route to Kuala Lumpur from Cameron Highlands lost control and went over the road divider and crashed, upside down into a large drain at the opposite direction of the dual carriageway, along KM 15 Cameron Highlands - Simpang Pulai road.

Everyone, from the public to the relevant government agencies have started a merry-go-round of the blaming game all over again. Although the well-meaning Minister of Transport has proposed relevant steps to be implemented to curb more serious and fatal road accidents from happening in the future, as long as strict enforcement of traffic regulations are not being observed, the situation happening on Malaysian roads will never improve.

Malaysian drivers generally do not have consideration of other road users' safety. Many a times I have found myself in a situation where my own life is at stake when driving. As I am a conscientious driver and always abide by the traffic regulations, other road users would often put me in a situation where I am forced to behave more aggresively for the benefit of my own safety.

Often when I do this other road users would think I am behaving like road bully. The reality is that I'm not; I am very much concerned about my own safety and that of the other road users. I have been practising defensive driving for as long as I could remember and by doing so, this has actually improved my driving skills and judgement of other road users.

I think it is time that the relevant government agencies should come down REALLY hard on errant road users. Top on the list would be NO discounts to be given to late payment of traffic summons; an extremely heavy penalty should come attached to this summons instead. Next, it is high time to increase either police patrols or patrols by officers from Road Transport Department to force all road users to behave. Last but not least, road safety lessons should be incorporated in the education system as well as consideration of increasing the age limit for people who want obtain a driver's licence, especially for cars and motorcycles.

It is high time for Malaysians to come to a stark realisation that obtaining a driver's licence actually comes with a high level of responsibility and accountability for the value of other road users' lives, especially for bus drivers. Doing the REAL 'walk-the-talk' now will get relevant road safety measures in place and rolling for a start, and every Malaysian has his/her role to play, from the relevant government agencies to the normal man on the street.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas... it's the time of giving and sharing

It is the time of the year again...the Christmas holiday season. The Christmas holiday season also marks the time of the year where most people will pledge to share the tidings they have received throughout the passing year. However, Christmas has become very commercialised over the recent years, thus, most people who are celebrating it would tend to get lost in relating themselves to the real meaning of Christmas, and I am no exception to this. 

Christmas actually symbolises the birth of Jesus Christ more than two thousand years ago. T'was the night when the Three Wise Men followed the Star of the Holy Spirit that led them to a manger in the city of Bethlehem where they witnessed and rejoiced in the birth of Jesus, who would later become the Saviour of mankind.

Thus, the Christmas holiday season is an excellent time for celebrating the meaning of the birth of Jesus Christ as well and giving and sharing with the less fortunate and also with family and friends. It should also be a time of togetherness with family and friends and self-reflection so that one can be a better person in this life and the one after.

May you have a meaningful and blessed Christmas, and a wonderful New Year 2011. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

E-book or real book, what's your pick?

I have been reading for as far as I can remember. I love books to the extent a book could be seen as permanently stuck to my nose most of the time. I do not have particular preference to a specific genré, I would read anything that catches my attention, it can even be advertisements or food and product labels.
However, the advent of the e-reader technology saw a possible changing trend in the preference for books to e-reader, especially people from the younger generation.

I am so used to carrying a book with me at all times when Í am out of the house, so I actually enjoy the experience of holding a book in my hands and smelling the musty odour of an old book or if in the case of a new book, the crispness of its pages and the process of "breaking-in" it. Nothing beats the real thing, in my honest opinion if I have to choose between a real book or an e-reader.

An e-reader seemed to be the in-thing to own these days, especially since the launch of i-Pad not too long ago. However, I'm not too hyped up to own an e-reader. Yup, I did go through a period of uncertainty of deciding if I want to own one. I am thankful that I finally decided to stick to owning real printed books because I personally feel that using an e-reader just doesn't provide the experience of reading from a real book.

I will only own an e-reader when the many books I want to read are no longer available in printed format or when new books are no longer printed. The only good thing I can think of about owning an e-reader is that you are able to own hundreds or even thousands of books without facing the issue of lack shelving space. The functions of an e-reader is still somewhat limited, unless it can evolved into a multi-functional device, I don't think I will ever own an e-reader.

However, other people who love reading might disagree with me. Maybe they are able to better utilise an e-reader compared to me. Having said this, I tried taking an informal vote on Facebook from some of my friends who love reading. Interestingly for those who responded to this voting, all of them are partial to a real book rather than an e-reader, even for one friend who owns an e-reader application on her i-Phone.       

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Review: Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the third and latest story in this series to hit the silver screen. This story saw two of the four Pevensie children, Edmund and Lucy stayed in wartime England during the summer holidays while their elder siblings Peter and Susan went to the United States of America to live with their parents. Edmund and Lucy were staying with their cousin Eustace whom they did not get along very well.

While Edmund and Lucy were arguing Eustace one day in their bed room, the picture of the sea with a Narnian looking ship began to come alive, with the sea beginning to rock violently and the wind began to blow wildly. The three children soon found that the sea began to pour into the room and they were flung into the rocky waves. They were struggling to stay afloat when ropes began to appear to their aid. 

As Edmund, Lucy and Eustace reached out for the rope, they were helped onto a ship by a group of strangers. Only that the ship that came to their aid was the Narnian looking one they saw in the picture before it became alive. The ship was Dawn Treader, helmed by Prince Caspian, the supposed king of the land of Narnia. 

Prince Caspian was on a mission sailing along the Bight of Caloralen and the Great Eastern Ocean in search for the seven friends of his father who were lost when they embarked on a dangerous voyage to the Eastern Islands. When Edmund, Lucy and Eustace joined him as he was tracing the voyage of these seven lost friends of his father's, thus, began an adventure that would test their friendship and relationship unimaginable to any of them, as well as how well they were able to resist greed, temptation, superficial beauty and materialistic desires.

As this is a dramatisation of the fifth book from C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia series, in my honest opinion, the book is definitely better in telling the story. However, this dramatisation could complement the book as the Hollywood interpretation usually helps readers to visualise the story better. I would rate this movie four stars as there were also decent actings in the movie, especially by Will Poulter, who portrayed the character of Eustace Scrubb, the cousin to the Pevensie children, who learned the price he had to pay when he gave in to greed and temptation.

Some of the cast who were reprising their respective roles were Georgie Henley as Lucy Pevensie, Skandar Keynes as Edmund Pevensie and Ben Barnes as Prince Caspian; with William Moseley as Peter Pevensie, Anna Popplewell as Susan Pevensie and Tilda Swinton as the White Witch making a brief appearence in this movie.

The screening of Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader during this Christmas holiday season was an excellent move by its Hollywood producers,  as this story was a good reminder that we should not be influenced by greed, temptation, superficial beauty and materialistic desires but we should practise moderation in our life instead.               

Friday, December 17, 2010

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Being a Harry Potter fan for the last six years or so, I have been following Harry Potter movies since its first installment. Somehow the dramatisation of books like the Harry Potter series often left me somewhat disappointed. The latest installment of the Harry Potter series was no different when I caught it a few weeks back. However, I will still give credit due to the movie producers and director for bringing the characters from this series live on the silver screen.

Although the plot was somewhat diluted, there were still some actings and scenes from the movie in which I found  memorable and worth mentioning. The character of Bellatrix Lestrange played by Helena Bonham Carter was reminiscent of the character of Irina Spalko, a villain played by Cate Blanchett in the movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull. Excellent portrayal of Bellatrix Lestrange and top class acting by Bonham Carter, albeit a very short appearence in the movie.

Another memorable character, Dolores Umbridge played by Imelda Staunton, was portrayed in a brilliant fashion. The portrayal of Dolores Umbridge by Staunton was extraordinarily real, it reminded me that such a character does actually exist in the real world. Although the appearence of this particular character was brief in this movie, it left a memorable impact in my impression of the movie. 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is based of the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series. The movie producers did justice to the dramatisation of this final book by producing a two-part movie. The story continues where in this installment Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione set out on a mission to locate all of Voldemort's Horcruxes and to destroy them. Thus, the plot saw them leaving Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for good, travelling all over the country searching for the Horcruxes, facing the imminent dangers posed by Voldemort's regime taking over the wizarding world. 

While Harry, Ron and Hermione journeyed through the country to find the Horcruxes, their courage and friendship were tested to a level unimaginable to them. Their wizarding skills were put to an extreme test while facing the unknown evil forces and dangerous situations on their own. They tackled these evil forces and dangerous situations with surprising capabilities in which only fully-trained wizards and witches are capable of doing. 

This first part of the two part installment of the movie showed the various incidents happening to Harry, Ron and Hermione in their journey of searching and destroying the Horcruxes, as well as battling the evil forces that were unavoidable and prevalent in their adventure. I supposed this movie was meant to be building towards the climax, which I think will be shown in the second part of this installment. People who have been following the Harry Potter series closely will be able to anticipate what will happen in the final part of this movie, which is slated for release in the summer of 2011.

I have read the Harry Potter series many times over and I think the books are better than the movie franchise, I only want to watch the final part of this movie franchise to see how well the Hollywood interpretation would bring the ending live on the silver screen and nothing more.    


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pets are NOT things to be dumped when you have had enough of them

Having followed the blog posts by Au and Target entitled Katz and Other Tales at, for quite awhile now, I think time is ripe for me to contribute my two cents worth on this topic. Taking in pets can do wonders to a person's life. However, there are many factors to consider if/when one plans to take in pets as a companion in life.

Some of these factors include time and money to be invested into taking in a pet, also space to be provided for the pet, especially when the pet is a dog or cat. Not to mention, the duration of commitment you can give to the pet and your health condition too. People who are allergic to animal fur should consider pets that either do not have fur or shed considerably less fur throughout its lifetime.

The most common type of pets that can be found in Malaysian homes are usually a cat or a dog. Some Malaysians also loved to keep fishes, common species of turtles or tortoises, hamsters, rabbits, birds or chicken. As for me, I am keeping a female and a male Siamese fighting fish, i.e. betta splendens as pets. This is actually a compromise with my parents as I am living with them, and they absolutely cannot stand the sight of cats and dogs in the garden.

Ideally, I would love to keep a dog as a pet but after seeing how irresponsible some of the neighbours are in keeping dogs as pets, I have resigned to the fact I don't want be a nuisance to other people. Also, I don't like the idea of dumping the poor animal once I'm unable to keep it as a pet. Thus, this reality check found me keeping two fighting fishes instead.

 The female betta splendens 

The male betta splendens

The neighbourhood I have lived in for almost 30 years is a nice and peaceful place to live. However, some inconsiderate neighbours dumping their cats and dogs once they were unable to keep them destroyed the niceness and peacefulness of the neighbourhood. Stray cats and dogs roamed the streets and deposit unwanted  pressies at the residents' gates and compounds.

Yup, now I even have two different stray cats that have taken a liking to my car. One cat is black and has white socks who likes to lounge on the roof of the car and another a charcoal grey striped one loves to lounge under the car. These two cats often leave clumps of fur on my car, at the very least not some sort of unwanted pressies. I used to shoo them away initially, only to find them stubborn as a mule and they keep reappearing. I have resigned to the fact that I should make peace with them and let them do as they please as long as they don't dirty and scratch my car; as well as they don't make any attempts to enter my house scaring the living daylights out of Mom.

However, the presence of stray cats, coupled with stray and owned dogs meant that I have to put with the constant orchestra of meowing and barking almost every minute of the day, and it gets worse during the night and early hours in the morning, before the break of dawn. It's no fun trying to catch the ever elusive sleep in this ridiculously continuous din.

No thanks to some incosiderate neighbours these poor animals cause unnecessary incovenience to people like my family who doesn't keep a cat or dog as a pet. And I noticed that my fishes are sometimes stressed out by the noise made by these kitties and doggies. They should NOT have kept these animals as pets if they were NOT able to commit themselves to do so. Keeping a pet requires discipline and commitment if one is to derive the benefits of doing so.

Unless one is willing to be disciplined and able to invest the required commitment in keeping a pet, let's not create unnecessary suffering to these innocent animals.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Review: Golden Mountain Chronicles by Laurence Yep

Golden Mountain Chronicles is a series of nine books written by Laurence Yep about the intergenerational story of the Young family from Three Willows Village in the Guangdong Province in China. This series tells the story of how the Young family and their friends were forced to flee from civilian war, war against the British and natural disasters to America to seek an alternative means of survival for their families.  Following are the list of titles in reading order:
  • The Serpent's Children (1849)
  • Mountain Light (1855)
  • Dragon's Gate (1867) (Newbery Honor) 
  • The Traitor (1885)
  • Dragonwings (1903) (Newbery Honor)
  • Dragon Road (1939) (originally titled The Red Warrior)
  • Child of the Owl (1960)
  • Sea Glass (1970)
  • Thief of Hearts (1995)
The story takes place in the late 19th century right through most of the 20th century chronicling the first and second generations of the Young family seeking for means of survival for their family in China by travelling to the Land of Golden Mountain or America for work. They faced tremendous hardship after arriving to work in America and circumstances forced them to stay on there. These early generations of the Young family and their friends settling in America as migrant workers were faced with cultural dilemma and problems adapting to the American environment, as they tried to fit into a stark and very different culture and environment from the one they have known most of their lives. They experienced tremendous challenge trying to fit into the American culture and environment, as how the story was being told in the first three books.

The subsequent generations were born in America. They eventually laid down their roots there, however, this proved to be a challenge for each generation of the respective families as they adapt to a different culture and environment, not only to be able to survive in a racist America but also be able to send their hard-earned money back to China. The latter six books described how the generations that were born in America were being immersed completely in the American culture and environment. They are then faced with identity and cultural issues, as they are considered half-American and half-Chinese. The Young family and their friends eventually begin to accept the fact that they are still very much Chinese even though they have adopted America as their homeland.

The Golden Mountain Chronicles series is categorised as children's books but I actually enjoyed reading them very much. The story portrays cultural and identity issues in which are easily identifiable by readers. It is written based on actual incidents happening during the said era and these incidents were recorded in the American literature of that time, however, the characters were purely fictional. Readers of all ages will find this set of books an interesting read as the story has been written in a simple and straight forward manner.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Review: Katz Tales: Living under the velvet paw by Ellen Whyte

Title      : Katz Tales: Living under the velvet paw
Author  : Ellen Whyte
Year     : 2009
ISBN   : 978-967-3035-64-9

Katz Tales: Living under the velvet paw is a compilation of stories Ellen has written about her cat companions, Scoop, Bones, Au and Target. These stories had been published in a column in The Star newspaper's Weekender pullout from 2006 to 2009. Ellen wrote about her kitties in a light and heart-warming manner, even I, who is not a cat-lover found her stories amusing and interesting, which I could hardly the book put down.

This book has given me a fresh perspective and surprising revelations about cats I have never realised and/or known before. Ellen has done an excellent job in publishing this book to enlighten readers, especially animal lovers (cat-lovers and non-cat-lovers alike) like myself about cats in an interesting manner. There were also full-coloured pictures of Scoop, Au and Target, unfortunately no photo of Bones, whom took refuge at Ellen's home for a short time.

Readers who have been following Ellen's column in The Star's Weekender pullout would find Katz Tales a delightful book to be added to their collection. More reasons to do so if you are an animal lover, especially if you are a cat-lover. I would give double thumbs-up to Ellen for a job well done.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Review: No Dram of Mercy by Sybil Kathigasu

Title    :  No Dram of Mercy                                   
Author:  Sybil Kathigasu
Year   :  1954 (reprinted 2006)
ISBN  :  983-2197-22-8

Sybil Kathigasu, is an epitome of a freedom fighter, who happened to live in the then Malaya during the Japanese Occupation. She was married to Dr. Abdon Clement Kathigasu and they had two daughters, Olga and Dawn, and an adopted son William. They lived in Ipoh, Perak but spent much of their time during the Japanese Occupation in Papan, outside Ipoh.

Sybil Kathigasu and her husband known as the Doctor spent much of their time treating many wounded and sick anti-Japansese guerillas as well as local people who are ill and in need of constant medical attention during the Japanese Occupation. They were constantly under extreme stress and dangerous situation while carrying out their duties to heal the sick and wounded anti-Japanese guerillas. The call of this selfless concern and act for these wounded guerillas came at the start of the Japanese Occupation from God.

Even with the help of many kind people of Ipoh and Papan, Sybil Kathigasu and her husband were eventually betrayed to the Japanese authorities. They were both interrogated and tortured for hours on end by the extremely ruthless and cruel occupied forces. All because she answered the call from God to treat the anti-Japanese guerillas as well as in the possession of a wireless set to listen to the broadcasts by BBC for the progress of the Allied forces in the World War II battles. Although Sybil and the Doctor had to endure extreme cruelty from their Japanese captors, never once they buckled under the extreme stress and torture inflicted upon them even though the physical and mental pain were beyond description.

However, the physical injuries suffered by Sybil were horrendous and she never completely recovered from them. She even suffered a fractured lumbar vertebrae form repeated beatings during interrogations, which resulted in partial pralysis. She underwent numerous surgeries in the effort to restore her health but with limited success. She managed to walk again unaided and attended a ceremony where King George VI awarded her with the George Medal in the honour of her bravery during the Japanese Occupation. Unfortunately, Sybil died on June 12, 1948 from septicaemia from a fractured jaw sustained from the boot of her torturer, Ekio Yoshimura.

Sybil's heroic efforts were not well-known by the younger generation of Malaysians today, even to myself. I only knew of her story in its barest form, having first encountered it in an English Language reading comprehension exercise when I was in secondary school. Thus, recently when I finally managed to procure a copy of her book, the above-mentioned title, only then I realised that she is one of the lesser known heroines of the Malaysian history, espcially on the Japanese Occupation.

This book should serve as a profound reminder to all, especially those who have read it and/or know her story well the price she had paid in the name of freedom for our country, Malaysia. Although we may have our political forefathers to spearhead in the freedom and independence of Malaysia, the story of Sybil Kathigasu should never ever be forgotten; her contributions to Malaysia's freedom is very much an invaluable part of the Malaysian history.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The day Malaysia gained Independence....

August 31 1957... was the day Malaysia gained her independence from the British colonial masters. I wasn't even born yet... but I realised this independence means a lot to us, the younger generation of Malaysians. From the stories Mom used to tell me when she was growing up during the Malayan Emergency (1948 - 1960), I came to understand that the struggles of our country's leaders and forefathers were purely for the strong desire to see Malaysia would be free from colonial rule, and also for the love of this country.

Our forefathers from many different races, from every corner of the country came in full force rallying for the late Tunku Abdul Rahman and his entourage who went to London in 1956 to negotiate for Malaysia's independence. When the negotiation proved to be a success, the nation celebrated as one, as preparations to form a new federal governement was undertaken.

A grand celebration was to be taken place at Merdeka Stadium, marked by the ceremony of lowering of the Union Jack and hoisting of the new Malayan flag at the stroke of midnight on August 31 1957; this ceremony took place on a field in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad building, which is known today as Merdeka Square. The proclamation of independence by the late Tunku Abdul Rahman could be heard seven times during the height of the celebrations at Merdeka Stadium the following morning. This historic moment became the iconic symbol of hope for peace and unity for many ordinary Malaysians who were present to witness it. 

All the struggles for a free Malaysia were not in vain, and today Malaysia is one of the fastest growing economy of a developing nation in the world. It was because of the struggles leaders like Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Tun V.T. Sambanthan that Malaysia became the country she is today. I salute these independence leaders and our forefathers from different races for never giving up hope for a free Malaysia.

The following two Merdeka advertisements created by the late Yasmin Ahmad for Petronas serves as a profound reminder to all of us that the 1Malaysia concept has already existed in Malaysia.... even during the days of pre-independence, and the country's colourful history is the proof of how it all began.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Has the world gone CRAZY?!

The article below showed the extremely SERIOUS moral decadence in our society:

Are human lives worth so little nowadays that a robber is ever willing to kill someone for only a few hundred ringgit, which the teacher mentioned in the article above was probably carrying in her handbag. How many more lives are to be lost before the authorities start to pull up their socks to step up the safety of public places? And I have yet to forget how the robbers THREATEN TO KILL my Mom (a helpless strokee) earlier this year when our house got robbed. Not forgetting road bullies swarming Malaysian roads like bees out of the nest.

Another serious decadence to be given more attention is the state of mental health of our general population, as illustrated in this article - People with mental illness need continuous support medically, as well as support from their family and society on the whole. These mental patients need to be accepted like any other normal person, and NOT BE DISCRIMINATED by the society. The authorities should also play their role to improve the national mental health support system to the general population, sad to say is very much left to be desired like our KTM Komuter services.

Parents need to play AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT role to help teach our younger generation to be better behaved and well brought-up individuals to lead in the society. Sad to say many parents fail to do so, in view of the endless moral decadence-related issues highlighted by the media of late. However, all is not lost, parents need to realise they are the people in the best position to take lead in teaching the younger generation to be better behaved and well brought-up individuals and NOT pass the responsibility to teachers in schools instead. A teacher's role is to provide formal education to young people, a role to complement that of a parent's role in educating our younger generation.

Something for everyone to ponder, including myself...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Living in POVERTY in This Ultra-Advanced and Ultra-Modern Time

Yup, it's a reality all urbanites must face these days, and it's all over the news everywhere. I'm no different and as badly affected as any man on the street. Even worse for me, being a highly qualified graduate is not of much help either, I'm a PAUPER TO THE BOOT! This stark realisation of reality hit me about one year ago as I was at the pharmacy wanting to purchase my regular brand of dental floss. The price of my regular brand of dental floss shot up by RM 2.00 for a 50-metre pack, from RM 6.50 to RM 8.50! And this price hike was totally uncalled for!

Rubbing salt to the already bleeding wound, dental floss DOES NOT go cheap like many other consumables during the sale season. For quite a while, I was facing a difficult situation trying to find quality dental floss that is reasonably priced and at the same time, stretching my buckeroos as far as they could possibly go. A challenge in which can ABSOLUTELY be mind-boggling!

Not helping with the skyrocketing cost of living are the prices of basic necessaties, i.e. food and clothing. And one thing that doesn't skyrocket is my salary, the amount I earn has categorised me as an URBAN POOR. Looks like I'm expected to live on fresh and sunlight by the way things are going. Not that I'm not trying to stretch my buckeroos long enough, but I'm just NOT EARNING NEARLY ENOUGH just to support myself.

It gets very depressing every time when I take a look at my payslip. I can't help but shake my head in sadness at the fact I'm earning peanuts! I'm VERY SURE there are many people around me are facing the same predicament. Yup, we can have all the first class infrastructure and facilities but the mentality is NO WHERE in par with these infrastructure and facilities. Ultra-advanced and ultra-modern time has dawned upon us but NOT necessarily making life any easier for many men on the street. Most people from the working class are finding it EXTREMELY TOUGH to make ends meet.

Even for an unmarried person like myself without many commitments are finding it extremely challenging to manage the finances based on the peanuts of a salary I'm earning. It's so mind-boggling to the extent that I wonder if I'm ever going to make it in life at all. Not that I'm choosy in getting a job but employers just DO NOT understand that the salary they pay to their workers are just NOT ENOUGH to live on. Yeah, I know they also have to balance the finances of the organisations they lead but HELLO, the workers are in need of a decent salary as one of the MAIN motivation to contribute WELL to the organisation they are working for! The decent salary they get would be able to allow the workers to achieve some financial stability in life, and hopefully the goals that they can only dream of.

Most people would be happy to make some sacrifices for the organisation they work for provided when the employers show some appreciation and gratitude to the contributions of their respective employees. I'm QUITE SURE most employers have gone through the rank and file process in order get to where they are as a leader of an organisation today. Unless they are born into a family-run organisation where the silver spoon is already in their mouths.

How many of us working class people are lucky enough to be at the top of the organisational hierarchy? Not many, I suppose. Those that were lucky enough to be at the top of the organisational hierarchy are usually not very empathic with the plight of their workers. I'm saying this from my own experience as a normal office worker as well as a manager, and so far I never had the luck to have a boss helping me to make a break in my career. One very valuable lesson I have learned from all my bosses though..... is to never be like them!  

Friday, July 16, 2010

Driving on Malaysian Roads - Most Malaysian drivers are INCOSIDERATE IDIOTS!

The recent deaths of five individuals from the same family on the Kuantan-Segamat road sometime last June prompted me to write this blog, after a hiatus from blogging for three months. A little bit of background on my driving experience - like most Malaysians, I obtained my driver's licence after completing high school, i.e. after sitting for my Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) in Form Five. I had learned to drive using a manual transmission car and due to coordination issues I'd only managed to obtain my driver's licence after trying FIVE times in the practical driving test.

However, I did not immediately started driving right after I obtained my driver's licence because of coordination issues and also that Mom's car then was a manual transmission car, so my parents, especially Mom forbade me to drive this car as they were afraid I would land myself in trouble. And so my driver's licence was put in the cold storage for eight years. I only managed to muster the courage to REALLY drive in late 2001; but only with the supervision of Mom, after Dad changed Mom's manual transmission car to an automatic transmission one.

Apart from Mom supervising my driving sessions, I had to also undergo four sessions of a refresher course under the supervision of an instructor from a driving school to brush up my driving skills. Finally, I managed to gain enough confidence and courage to drive by 2002, and I have been driving myself often ever since. From early on, I have been instilled with the sense of responsibility and accountability by my parents in doing things like driving a car. Thus, when I get behind the wheel, I would make sure I do the necessary things so that I would have a safe journey when driving, also keeping in mind the safety of other road users I often encounter.

Throughout my almost 10 years of driving on Malaysian roads, I can conclude Malaysians are EXTREMELY RUDE, INCONSIDERATE and BLOODY EGOTISTICAL!!! Not to mention, they don't give any damn to their own and other road users' safety. This explains why Malaysia has an extremely high occurrence of road accidents, especially fatal ones. Driving is an activity that safety should be given the UTMOST PRIORITY because it involves human lives.

If these Malaysian drivers are not able to drive this message home (pun intended), it is sad to say that they are NOT FIT to drive at all. Yeah, as a Malaysian driver myself I DO have my fair share of negative habits when I'm driving. However, I try my best to keep these habits to a minimum level and make SAFETY MY UTMOST PRIORITY because I have this responsibility and accountability to other road users. Human life is valuable and I make an effort to remember other road users DO have family members like I do. Thus, my own safety and that of other road users is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT and should not be taken lightly.

I strive to be a defensive driver at all times but this proved to be very difficult as most Malaysian drivers who are generally nice people would TRANSFORM into a PSYCHOTIC MANIAC when getting behind the wheel. Ultimately when this happens, anyone who comes in contact with these psychotic maniacs would find themselves to be in the risk of danger to the extent lives could be lost when road accidents happen. Not to mention, these psychotic maniacs tend to be road bullies TO THE BOOT!

A few weeks ago, I became a victim of road bullying. Mind you the road bully had the intention to KILL me if he could do it. It was written on the BASTARD'S facial expresssion. I was badly shaken from this incident because there was no way I could ask for help... the road I was travelling was rather lonely early in the morning. And help.... to ask for it was in the opposite direction from where I was travelling, I had no choice but to keep on driving until I reached my destination. Thank God, I was able to reach my destination safely, intact in one piece.

I can say that driving on Malaysian roads requires one to possess tough mental and emotional strengths, acute judgement, as well as excellent driving and  manoeuvring skills. All these qualities should be acquired NOT at the expense of the SAFETY of oneself and that of other road users. It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that safety should always be emphsised when it comes to driving as it involves the lives of all road users.

However, Malaysian drivers are REALLY SLOW and EXTREMELY STUBBORN to learn from their repeated mistakes of behaving like a psychotic maniac when they are behind the wheel. It is because of this attitude that sadly, many lives are lost on the road everyday. The fatalities recorded each year by the relevant government departments illustrates Malaysia has one of the HIGHEST occurence of road accidents akin to that of or worse than countries that are at war or in political conflict where lost of lives is a daily occurence.

I guess this has got to do with the third-world kind of mentality of Malaysian drivers and by this I don't mean I have an excellent first-world kind of driver's mentality, but I DO make A CONSCIOUS EFFORT to practise what I preach. And I DO MEAN WELL for the people that cross path with me daily. Unfortunately, this is not always the case for the other people concerned when it comes to driving. Life is an EXTREMELY PRECIOUS God-given gift and we should make the best out of it for ourselves and when possible, for the people who cross path with us daily.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

E-mail scammers hijacking e-mail accounts for the purpose of con jobs

I'm sure almost all Internet users have encountered e-mail scams every now and then in their respective e-mail accounts. I have also encountered the same. However, a relatively new kind of e-mail scam has surfaced recently. And I almost became a victim of it. This happened on 29 March 2010. I was using the Internet as usual and was checking my e-mail as I always did on a daily basis.

I came across an e-mail message, supposedly sent by my friend, because I'd saved his e-mail address in the Contacts function. The e-mail message I supposedly received from him stated he was stuck in the UK for a conference and he had misplaced his wallet, amongst other things, MONEY. This email further requested me to loan him £1,300 (more than RM 6,000) so that he could settle his bills to return home to Malaysia, and that he will reimburse the amount of money I loan to him.

I found this request to be extremely weird as my friend is a professional with a very respectable reputation. He wouldn't want to borrow money from me as he is very much aware of my current situation. Here came the hard part - it was a battle between my instinct and my head and heart. I was struggling with the desire to help him as well as the desire to decline his request. Mind you, we are quite close, and this struggle proved to be a tough one.

This was what I did - I corresponded with the culprit who hijacked my friend's email account, unfortunately through my friend's e-mail account to gather more information about his "situation" in the UK. The culprit's style of writing the e-mail messages mimicked the style my friend would use when he corresponds with me through his hijacked e-mail account. However, due to my extremely observant nature, I managed to detect some irregularities in the e-mail messages.

The culprit had used some words, which were inaccurate in the context of the e-mail message. Also, he had committed numerous punctuation errors while typing the e-mail messages. I knew my friend wouldn't have commited the above-mentioned errors. Even if he did, it would be not as glaring as what the culprit had done. Not to mention, the e-mail recipient column was left blank in the first e-mail message sent to me, an obvious characteristic of e-mail scams. Last but not least, the address the culprit had given me was also wrong, it was located in London and NOT Sheffield as he had claimed.

My next move was to try to contact my friend at his workplace to confirm his whereabouts; the worst case scenario would be to get in touch with his wife; I would pull out at all stops to save this friendship simply because I value it GREATLY. I called his workplace and the staff who took my call told me that he had just walked out from his office to attend to some important matters. I then knew from this confirmation that this whole thing was a HOAX, a CON JOB! My friend COULD NOT be in two places at the SAME TIME! I left the message with his staff to have him contact me, PRONTO, either through his alternative e-mail or phone.

I really thank God my friend did in the shortest time possible and he confirmed that his e-mail account had been hijacked. I also credit my instinct for warning me about the danger of fulfilling this request, in the struggle to come up with the rational and logical decision to resolve this matter. If I'd came to a deadlock, the next step I would probably have done was to consult my parents about this issue. Although I'm legally an adult, I would often confer with my parents on issues I cannot resolve, and it proved to be a wise move as you would learn a lot from your parents' approach in resolving issues in life.

Had I given in to my head and heart I would be more than RM 6,000 poorer by now and would probably regret the irrational decision I'd made for a very long time. Also, I could have accused my friend of a crime he would NEVER EVER wanted to commit AT ALL in his lifetime. This would have destroyed our friendship, the mutual trust we have built all this while.

Lesson learned - try to be level-headed in solving issues like this. Always confirm with the person concerned if he/she REALLY wanted a favour from you. If you know the person well and both of you value the friendship, chances are he/she would be completely honest with you and would not take advantage of you; he/she would have understood why you decline his/her request. A person who values and stays true to a friendship would never ever betray you unless extremely dire circumstances forced him/her to do so.

Final point to note - always give your instinct the benefit of the doubt. From my past experiences, my instinct has ALMOST ALWAYS been right and I have learned to pay more attention my instinct when I'm faced with difficult situations.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Humble 1Malaysia Food

I'm quite sure most people would have their favourite kind of food. I'm no different. Of late, I have come to love roti canai with fish curry for my breakfast or lunch. To top it off, I would wash it down with either a glass of teh tarik (i.e. "pulled" tea) or normal tea with milk/creamer. Roti canai is ubiquitous, practically all mamak stalls/shops in Malaysia would be selling it.

Roti canai is an Indian unleavened flatbread made from flour, ghee, egg and water. It is often eaten with a type of curry - fish, chicken or dhal with sambal as an option to add some kick to the spiciness of the meal. I have always liked mine with fish curry. Teh tarik is an excellent complement a roti canai meal... YUMMY! I admit that finding a mamak stall/shop selling excellent roti canai is a real challenge. Finding a mamak stall/shop that sells excellent AND cheap roti canai is even a bigger challenge! So far, I have only found a mamak shop that actually sells pretty good roti canai with fish curry. The excellent thing is that this mamak shop actually sells roti canai throughout the day, and I can actually have it for my lunch when I crave for it. I'm STILL searching for the excellent roti canai that has eluded me for so long...

I love my roti canai meal like a typical Malaysian. I think many Malaysians would agree with me that roti canai like nasi lemak and char koay teow are foods that define the 1Malaysia culture we all have come to love and share for so long like one big happy family. :-) And it would be fabulous if I could have it as often I would have liked... a dream come true for me, a medical nightmare for my doctor. :-p

My ideal kind of breakfast or lunch - roti canai with fish curry and a glass of teh tarik

The frothy teh tarik - sinfully pleasurable

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Staying True to Friendships/Relationships

For those who have known me for a period of time, whether long or short... I guess many of you might have come to realise that I am always genuine about and stay true to all the friendship/relationships I have established with other people. By the way, relationship here doesn't only mean the lovey-dovey one-item kind of relationship.... it encompasses all kinds relationship like family, professional, business, patient-doctor, employee-employer, etc... and of course friendship also comes into this context as well.

For as long as I can remember, even when I was very young, establishing genuine friendship/relationship with other people and staying true to it has always been of utmost importance to me. I can't really explain why but I think this has a lot to do with my personality. My family, friends and other people who know me well enough would be able to see that I'm the kind of person who is not pretentious about my feelings. I tend to get emotional at times but that's how I express about my reactions towards most things happening around and to me.

I'm only human like everyone else. I'm different in a lot of ways compared to most people (my family included) but there are reasons as to why I react in a very different way than other people to the things happening around and to me. To me the most important thing in a friendship/relationship I have established is that I need unconditional understanding from the person to accept the REAL me. Yeah, that's all I ask of from people whom I have established friendship/relationship with.

Is this request difficult to fulfill? I don't think so, I guess it's because I have always been treating all the people Í have established friemdship/relationship this way. Accepting people as the individual person they are; for their good and not so good points to me, in my high opinion is extremely important in maintaining an excellent friendship/relationship.

Life is already miserable in this dog-eat-dog of a world. We should not make life worse than it already is. Thus, the least we could do is be genuine to the people we have established friendship/relationship with. To all the people out there who have been true to the friendship/relationship I have established with you over the years, this is all I have to say - thank you for being able to make a positive presence and impact in my life and I greatly appreciate all of your effort in keeping the frienship/relationship alive and last through the test of time.

Monday, February 8, 2010

For the Love of Reading

I love reading A LOT! I don't remember when was the very first time I was smitten by the reading bug, I think I was about four or five years old. I could recall picking up newspapers and magazines lying around the house and browsing through the pretty pictures, however, reading them came much later. During this time, my parents were struggling hard to make ends meet. Buying story books was a luxury then. I had to be contented reading mostly newspapers and magazines Dad bought on a daily and weekly basis.

I only managed to get Dad to buy me story books when I was about ten. Back then, books by Enid Blyton, Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon were a rage among my friends and me. We often exchange these story books with each other and also borrowed them from the school and public libraries. I would even read during meal times! Mom often got exasperated with me because I was reading like there was no tomorrow. As I was approaching my teens, I moved on to reading more "serious" stuff, Reader's Digest was one of the first "serious" reads I'd picked up. I was about 12 at that time.

I credit Reader's Digest for helping me improve my command of English Language by leaps and bounds. My command of English wasn't good at all when I was in primary school despite the fact I'd started reading at a very young age. Starting to read Reader's Digest for the first time meant I'd to carry Little Oxford Dictionary to accompany the magazine where ever I was.... at school, tuition classes, practically anywhere and everywhere! The persistent effort paid off. I was able to comprehend adult reads within two years after I'd picked up my first copy of Reader's Digest.

I even started reading adult romance novels at the age of 15. Those romance novels were very explicit, however, I wasn't influenced by them at all. I just read these romance novels for the fun of it because I love reading. I didn't restrict myself to reading a particular genré, I allowed myself to explore as many genrés as possible, so that I'm able to widen my general knowledge. I'd read anything and everything that captures my interest.... books, newspapers, magazines and even product labels! Over time, I realised that reading actually helped me to become the very open-minded person I am today.

Now, I read mostly fictions, non-fictions, biographies/autobiographies, comics and newspapers. Some of my all time favourite reads include:
  1.  Steve and Me by Terri Irwin
  2. Mao's Last Dancer by Li Cunxin
  3. Marley and Me by John Grogan
  4. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  5. Gifts of Time by Fred J. Eipstein M.D. and Elaine Fantle Shimberg
  6. Golden Mountain Chronicles by Laurence Yep
  7. Ballerina by Edward Stewart
  8. Zits by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman
  9. Baby Blues by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott 
  10. Fox Trot by Bill Amend
These reads may not necessarily be in the bestseller's list but they are nevertheless, great reads. I can read them over and over without getting bored. I guess the authors have a very unique and individualistic style to reach out to their readers, that's why I'm fascinated by their books. However, I still do keep an eye out for any good reads being published in the market.

I can go on and on about my love for reading but one has to experience it for himself or herself to discover the love and joys of reading. I would say that the knowledge gained from reading is invaluable and beyond any description I can put in this blog. People who can relate what I have written here would most likely agree to what I have expressed about my love for reading. And a big 'thank you' goes to Dad and Mom for allowing me to discover the love and joys for reading, despite of them struggling very hard to provide me with the best possible opportunity to access some of the most excellent reads I could ever imagine and find...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Pain of Losing a Loved One

Losing a loved one to death because of a preventable disease is ultimately a very harsh reality anyone has to face in life. That happened to me of the first day of last Chinese New Year, I lost my aunt to lung cancer. I could never forget the fateful day, 26 January 2009, waking up to a text message on my mobile phone informing that my aunt had passed away early in the morning. The next thing I knew I was bawling my eyes out in front of my parents as I informed them of the sad news.

My late aunt was the wife to Mom's youngest brother. We were very close from the day she got married to my uncle. I remembered talking to her about many issues pertaining to my life and personal matters, she was a very open-minded and positive person and we shared a lot of things in common. She often encouraged me to enjoy and make the most out of my youth, in fact she often reminded me that "we are only young once in a lifetime" and I should seize the opportunities that come my way for my own benefit. In fact, she was the one of the very few people in my life to tell me to work hard and play hard and at the same time enjoy life to the fullest.

My late aunt was diagnosed with advanced stage lung cancer in April 2008. However, she kept the bad news from almost all family members, both her family and Mum's family until she could no longer hide the truth. I only found out about the truth four months after she was diagnosed of this dreaded disease. The shock of receiving the bad news was beyond belief. I was too stunned to say anything upon hearing it. Not to mention, I could not even shed the tears of sadness and grief. I was in a daze for weeks on end.

I tried my best to spend more time with my late aunt as I knew the days of her trying to just be alive is severely cut short by this ravaging disease. As there was no way I can show my indescribable sadness and grief, I compensated it by being strong emotionally for my late aunt as well as my uncle and their two young sons. The sadness and grief I was experiencing was beyond what I had experienced and could comprehend from past experience. I was finding it very difficult to channel my emotions in an appropriate manner. It felt as though the sadness and grief was consuming my physical and psychological well-being.

The magnitude of the sadness and grief were only felt the week following the funeral service. The reality of my late aunt's demise hit me really hard to the extreme I have never experienced before. I was crying my eyes out; trying my best to cope with the pain from the sadness and grief I have been keeping inside me for that five months. There were no words that can describe the emotional and psychological turmoil during this difficult period of bereavement.

Unknowingly, I have fallen into the vicious cycle of complicated bereavement. This is where one experiences the bereavement process beyond its normal duration of one year. It is really difficult to describe the actual experience of complicated bereavement but if one often find himself or herself to be unable to pick himself or herself out of the normal duration of bereavement within one year, then chances are he or she has fallen into the vicious cycle of complicated bereavement. However, I know I am able to rise above the challenge of picking myself out of this complicated bereavement, as I have been tested in similar situations in the past.

Life can be very unfair especially when we have been repeatedly "bashed up" by undesirable events throughout our lives; however, the survival instincts would usually kick into high gear to ensure we would be able to rise to challenging times in our lives. It is very much dependent on how we are able to cope with and handle them in an appropriate manner. As for me, dealing with pain of losing a loved one like my late aunt will be an extremely challenging experience but with the help of the guardian angels (you all know who you are - I don't have to mention any names) in my life, it would help make it less painful for me to cope with the challenging times in the future throughout my life.

I have my all my guardian angels to thank for making this often miserable life bearable. In return, I will try to reciprocate the kindness I have received from them all this time. I guess, in order for me to survive the harsh realities of this world is to "just keep swimming.... just keep swimming" like Dory from Finding Nemo often said, without any care in the world.... to keep searching for better things that I'm really meant for in life.