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.