Tuesday, 22 January 2008

The Big Delivery Day (Part 2)

What a busy week indeed. I have to do so many things at such little time left. Which is why, spending late nights clearing the room while working during daytime rushing reports. Not only do I have to clean my room, I have to also listen to wedding dinner song selection, messaging and calling people to RSVP their attendance, liaising with caterers, florists and such, and so on and on. I seriously don't recommend to any couples intending to get married to be gung ho by organising their own wedding.

In a few more days, I would be deemed, under the Chinese custom, to be a full fledged adult. Yup, in Chinese custom, even if you are 60 years old and you have yet to get married, you don't enjoy the recognition you are a full fledged adult. It is like a certain duty only an adult can do has not been fulfilled and hence you are kind of kidding yourself as you carry on living without a spouse.

Anyway, I decided to attached the photos of stuff I gotten as part of the gift exchange from the groom's family.

The infamous virgin declaration item : Roast pig (viewed from the rear)

The infamous virgin declaration item : Roast pig (viewed from the front)

The one thing you need to note next is that what is behind the red paper. Now one would think it is a whole pig, but...

The middle part is missing!

Actually, it is missing because the bride's family took it. You see, the groom side offers to the bride's family the whole pig but usually they will return the head and the rear of the pig. As they said it in Cantonese, "Yaw Tau Yaw Mei" which basically means all that begins well ends well or completeness in short.

As part of the gift exchange, you will notice two coconuts in a basket. Well, the coconuts are supposed to signify the wishes of the bride's family that the new couple will have lots of descendants. You see, in the olden days and in an agricultural society, manpower is greatly needed to farm the land and what better workforce to exploit if it is not your own? Also, since the old economy do not provide social security/welfare net and most people are poor, it makes sense to share the burden to care for the elderly among lots of children. Oh well, that is how I look at it because nowadays, Chinese in Malaysia only wants to raise quality children hence you will find a lot of Chinese couples only have 1 child or 2 children. Given the fact that we have EPF, retirement planning and such, more and more people are opting to just enjoy their retirement without much support from their children. Hmmm....

This nice basket is actually for the bride. It just serves as a container to carry fruits and such. I guess in the olden days, a married woman need a basket like how power executives today need a briefcase. The dutiful daughter-in-law will go out to market and buy raw food to cook or bring lunches to the family busy working the farm. Over the yearly, nicer design are added to the basket like this one here. I really like this basket but other than its aesthetic value, it is as useful as a plastic bag. Perhaps with changing times like our environmental concern, it might make a comeback. Or not because it is too heavy for those well lotioned smooth and fair hands. Hmmm...

Another thing that the bride's family send back as gifts in preparation for the bride to be a dutiful wife and daughter-in-law is the sewing kit set (as you can see at bottom right). In the olden days before women today demand for equal rights and complain about the glass ceiling, their role in a household is quite limited. They do mostly household chores while the men are expected to toil the fields. Of course in reality, women also toil the soil if there aren't enough people in the family so some women are lucky if they are restricted to only household chores. The downside is they usually have a tough mother-in-law/dragon lady supervising them. Giving them a set of sewing kit is the wishes of the groom's family that their well trained daughter will be able to perform her assigned roles with no problems.

This basket represents another wishes from the bride's family that she will have a good life in the groom's family. Given the amount of famine and droughts we often watch in TVB series in the past when they depict the hard life of farmers, this only makes sense because the bride knows nuts about the groom's family as she usually only knows them when she is married off (yes, olden days marriage are all arranged by parents). Also, the act of divorcing is very lopsided where only the husband can divorce his wife and NOT vice versa. So, women today should be thankful they CAN divorce their unfaithful husbands and work on their own without fear of retribution unlike in the past.

Last but not least, are the washing basin, spitting urn and bath tub. The spitting urn doubles as a toilet training container for future young babies aged from 1 to 2 years old.

In many ways, over the years, practices and customs which turned into tradition and superstitions closely associated with these gifts but it remains, at the core, well wishes from both families that the young couple have a good head start in raising a family. I will not dwell too much on those customs until later when I have more photos. Till then, it is back to table seating arrangement. Sigh...

Thursday, 17 January 2008

The Big Delivery Day

The big delivery day arrived yesterday and I had to drive a couple of stuff over to bride's family as part of the gift and dowry practice handed down over thousands of years. Apparently, different clan groups will send different things so being a Hainanese, we aren't as elaborated as the Hokkiens when it comes to delivering goods.

As a matter of practice, nowadays, we replace most of these dowry with angpow. If you can't get the four types of seafood, just replace with money. If you can't get the two bottle of hard liquor, just replace with money. Yup, this speaks volume considering how modern Chinese culture has evolved over the years. If there is one thing I have to agree with my colleague, who have a weird notion of the Chinese being greedy and money minded and weddings are part of scam to make big bucks, it is this: We are too materialistic to the extent that taking time to buy those usual products for gift exchange has been abandoned in favour of money. It is true, money is the most convenient gift to give. But honestly, I find the cultural value would have been lost if we only emphasis on giving money. And the sad thing is, we are not being creative in how we give the money. Unlike the Malays, they at least spend time to make paper flowers using money.

Anyway, I didn't have much to bring because the main gift the groom's family usually provide is actually the cash dowry. The next best thing on the list (some may disagree) is the roasted pig. We asked for a small version which turns out to be quite big anyway. It was sourced from Kepong wet market and apparently, it is one of the best (I have to agree after we chopped it up later for lunch. It is good as the meat isn't too dry and the skin is so crunchy). As part of the Chinese custom, the groom side delivers the roasted pig as a sign of declaring the bride is a virgin.

Source: http://www.istockphoto.com/file_closeup/?id=1736537&refnum=462596

Honestly, I find nowadays virgins are overrated going by the popular norm. I guess to most feudal society, being a virgin is a sign of purity and innocence. Nowadays, many would laugh at those who choose to remain chaste until marriage. In fact, some people would want to practice as much as possible with various partners before marrying. Do any of you out there mind if your partner has prior and vast practical experience when it comes to sex with multiple partners? I know of men who mind a lot simply because they want something "pure" and "innocent", not tainted goods and yet they don't mind sleeping around to prove their prowess in bed. Talk about double standards right? Anyway, you can laugh all you like but I am hereby declaring I am still a virgin. Somehow, I feel odd making this declaration...:P

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Clearing My Room on Monday Night


I am very tired after cleaning out my room on Monday. It was 1 a.m. and my room was practically emptied (except for my clothes and such which I left in the in-built cabinet). But it took a toll on me as I have to wake up at 6.15 a.m. for work the next day. With lack of sleep, I proceeded to go to work and I was just hoping things will get by easily for the rest of week. Well sad to say, instead, I landed myself with extra urgent workload. Oh well...

My sentiments exactly...

Source: http://www.gascoals.net/

Anyway, because of the workload, I didn't manage to write my blog yesterday. There are interesting things on political front like some top Lassie attempted to promote its brand of hardwork and claimed others aren't on the ground like they do (I wonder what will he say to Lina Joy and Subashini when he meets them?). Well, Ms Theresa will disagree of course but that is not the main thing I want to talk about.

Instead, you might wonder why in the world did I clear my room on Monday night? Well, the thing is, I am swapping my room with my sister's. My room, being the smallest among the three rooms upstairs (quite typical given I am the youngest and least favoured), can't exactly fit the needs of two persons. So I asked my parents back when I announced to them I am getting married and staying put with them, whether I could do a room swap. My mom said ok and is supportive simply because she sees the practical aspect of my request while my dad, predictably, said this cannot do because of Feng Shui. Apparently, my zodiac do not permit me to place my bed on that side of the building least ill wills befall on me. Personally, I think he is using it as an excuse that the only reason why he said no is because that is my sister's room. I tried to talk to him further on this but he made it known that this is not up for negotiation.

My sister, despite our differences, has graciously agreed to this arrangement when I spoke to her later. It also made perfect sense because she will be marrying end of this year. She will move out to her new condominium and to her, her present room will be of little use to her. Well, when I told my dad she is agreeable, he said he wants to talk to her first (See! he doesn't even trust my word and it confirmed my suspicion on his hogwash Feng Shui argument/excuse). He finally agreed to let us do a room swap.

So zoom back to the present, I was bogged moving my things out on Monday night. But why Monday night? Because the next day the furniture man came with our pre-ordered furnitures. A new bed, a dressing table/cabinet, a small cabinet and a bookshelf while I slog through Tuesday trying to get my work done.

The hard part is now to rearrange my stuff while trying to finalise my wedding plans. I forgot to take a photo of my new furniture but then again, I can post it later when I finally re-arrange all my stuff. Hmm...

Monday, 14 January 2008

When Comfort Is Not Found Where It Should Have Been

I am getting the jitters. I can't recall when it started but I guess the earliest I can remember when it was at the beginning of this year. As I keyed in my overall program plan, it somehow hit me that the plans laid for the last few months are quickly falling in line and I realised the window to realising it is closing fast.

I have been going out with my fiance for the last eight years and 9 months. To decide sometime middle of last year to tie the knot before the Year of the Boar is out is kind of short notice but that is what we have set our mind to it. It is not easy, that much I agree. We are thankful we secured the venue we wanted but the amount of additional planning and execution is slowly wearing me down. I can't help it really since I have to do a lot of selection and decisions and frankly, I just want to go to sleep and forget about it. Yet, this is once in a lifetime event. Will things really pan out well?

I am really thankful many of my friends and family members help out but honestly, when push comes to shove, it is up to us alone to put things to action. Many people said it is easier to ask a wedding planner to do the job but seriously, we would still make the decisions.

Yet, at times I wonder, am I rushing too quickly? I am still not comfortable with living with my parents for the long term. Somehow I sense an underlying tension yet I wonder, am I the only one feeling it? In front of my parents, I have to put up a happy, jovial and care free expression. But deep down, I just want to sit in my room and listen to the music, read a book or just be somewhere else. Am I the only one I wonder?
When I reminded him he hass to be at the Church for the wedding rehearsal, you can see his expression change to glum and denial. Somehow, he finds that an unnecessary chore (but going through the trouble of building a big water fountain or annually switching flower pots, furniture acquariums and such all in the name of Feng Shui on the other hand is like a holy act instead). I know he hates Christians a lot. To him, we are a bunch of crooks out to swindle money which he classifies as akin to insurance sales personnel or any sales personnel trying to make a door to door living. Well, perhaps it is me he hates. I really don't know but belittling the faith at times do irk me. I just brush it aside by calmly explaining facts and reason to him. Of course, he finds that me having the answers all the time is rather too convenient and in the end, he insists he is right. Well, I am not going to argue with him. It is too tiring really. I just change the topic because I don't want an all out war of words. It is not worth it. I know he needs Christ above all else but he is just denying it.
Just yesterday I told my parents that to go to every table to toast is an impossibility considering we are going to about 60 to 70 tables during the dinner. My dad retorted with a "why not"? Somehow, it never occurs to him that if we are just going about thanking everyone for coming is a viable possibility provided that we do none of the following:

i) Yelling "Yum Shing" with everyone competes to see who can howl the longest continuously with the bride and groom,

ii) Getting everyone ready for photos and taking a photograph with all the guests table by table, and

iii) Beat the first aunty or uncle attempting to leave to the door to greet them because he/she believes it is bad luck to eat the last two dishes because they so happen to be from the bride's side.

Yet he will have none of that. I am tired of giving in to his nonsensical demands. On that day itself, I will just tell him "No" we can't do item i) to iii). I will just go with the flow as usual and I am not going to argue knowing the physical and timing limitation. If he doesn't like it, he just has to live with it. Oh well...

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Our Greatest Fear

Lazying around because today is a public holiday, I decided to watch a movie over Astro entitled, "Coach Carter". This movie has been repeated many times and what I find very profound each time I watch it is an excerpt from a book recited by the character Cruz to show his reformation to his coach, Kenneth Carter, who was on his way leaving the basketball gym touched by how the players voluntarily uphold his tough stand on his players required to be have a minimal GPA of 2.3 despite the school board deciding against his decision to close the gym until these players buck up.

Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,
but that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

- Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love

As I read this passage, I felt that perhaps it is true, our greatest fear in life at times is not so much on our abilities but rather the fear of the unknown, disappointment and lost. Perhaps we fear that by sticking out our head, we look weird and out of place and we feel compelled to keep quiet so as we remain faceless in a crowd. I know I fear to a certain degree hence I hesitate in revealing my full identity.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7152940@N04/1250653688/in/photostream/

Yet interesting times such as this requires that one speak up and put a foot down when injustice are abound. Before I went for the BERSIH and People's Walk rallies in the previous months, I had nagging fear of "what ifs". But I am there not so much bent on destroying properties and lives of others, it was merely peaceful venting of frustration with a system that failed us and showing support to a cause that I felt worthy of pursuing. Which is why this blog was born in the days after 10 November 2007 as my response to the denials and wrongdoings that continue to be perpetrated (though it also took on the role of an open personal diary). How long will this blog be up is something I am not sure since things may pan out in a manner totally unexpected. My only hope is that in the days ahead, I can be less cynical. Will I be an agent of change? This is something I think I will leave it aside. Oh well...

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Big Brother Is Watching

I am no fan of the Big Brother concept and to me, the recent call by the PM requiring building owners in crime-prone areas to install CCTVs smells like one to me. Certainly the open remarks doesn't help:

The police will soon have their eyes on every building in crime-prone areas.

Of course, given our crime rate have increased by 13.4% in one year alone, one would be undoubtedly worried. Afterall, where would safety be if one can't even secure one's home? With criminals getting more daring by the day, I doubt keeping a Rottweiler at home will help.

Yet I am curious. How would installing CCTVs help to reduce crime? Afterall, monitoring tools are only useful provided we have the right enforcement. On top of that, why should the people be responsible for installing and maintaining such system? If the Government can clearly identify areas which are crime prone, shouldn't they send in spies in plain clothes to find out who are the perpetrators as well as place police enforcers to patrol the area to give a semblance of peace and order?

Source: http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Big-Brother-is-Watching-You-Posters_i847514_.htm

Instead, the call to install CCTVs at your own cost but at the Government's pleasure to use is not going to go down easy. As it is the people are burdened with many increasing costs and the best way to save is to be effective in spending.

If the CCTVs are really needed, shouldn't there be co-ordination among the Government and the people to ensure that missed pockets and/or overlapping CCTVs be avoided to reduce wastage? If the CCTVs are essentials in crime fighting, would the Government provide some form of subsidy like tax breaks to help the people ease the pain?

According to Jacob George, president,Consumer Association of Subang and Shah Alam (Cassa) as reported to Malaysiakini:

Disappointingly, the government’s announcement about beefing up the police force is like upgrading computer hardware without upgrading the software. We not only need more cops on the ground, we also need cleaner cops.

Instead of talking about more cars, guns, police stations and CCTVs, we need to look into the core issues of forming a more efficient police force in order to tackle crime. We have to see where the police have gone wrong.

For example, if one were to make a ‘999' distress call, don’t be surprised if it takes up to one hour for a patrol car to come by. Physical improvements alone are not the correct solution. The government needs to find out whether there is a sharp increase in the number of criminals on the streets or whether the police can improve the way they do things.

Perhaps its high time the police perform a self-analysis or some sort of reflection. They can conduct public feedback, as they did in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s time they become a more people-orientated service, rather than a police force.

I couldn't agree more. If the police are effective would anyone really need gated communities? In most neighbourhoods, increasingly people are employing security guards to cordon and patrol the areas. It is unsurpising that you have to fork out from RM50-RM150 monthly just to obtain basic security. Then why are we paying the police for with our hard earned income via taxes if they aren't patrolling the streets and making it safe?

I do agree that people are partly to be blamed because they don't mix and mingle with their neighbours but ultimately, they need the power of the State to enforce peace and to arrest criminals. And why are they wasting it by amassing thousands of policemen to dispersing peaceful assemblies which happen to highlight the failing of the ruling party? Or wasting money by hiring 31 helicopters when all they needed is 8?

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Barking Up The Wrong Tree

I find dogs are very peculiar animal. Many years ago when I was much younger, our family has a crocker spaniel. It is dog very fearful of people so it often put a brave front by barking out loud to scare them off when strangers come near our compound. It would have worked if he didn't retreat back a step each time a stranger walks closer to the gate.

I once took him out for a walk and he saw a stranger walking down the road. On normal occasion he will run away but noticing that I stopped and took a look at the stranger's general direction, he too, looked ahead and started growling, again putting up a brave alas false front, every ready to attack anyone who might harm me. Well, I know this dog was a great pretender because I once too a peek from the corner of the ajar door and noticed he was staring at a bird happily eating his food while he just sat there with his head resting on the floor. Hmmm... so much for being the first line of defense.

Well, I find it very funny too when I read about the recent pursuits of some Lassie wannabes in attempting to help poor and weak villagers facing eviction notice. As described by the Star Online,

IT is going to be a bleak Chinese New Year for 200 squatter families living in Kampung Hock Ann in Jalan Kelang Lama, Kuala Lumpur...

...Over 150 residents crowded the small Kampung Hock Ann MCA branch office in Jalan Kelang Lama, holding copies of the court order. During the dialogue, it was a heart-breaking sight to see the mostly elderly residents plead and cry...

It is sad when the poor are forced to leave their homes. More so when they have stayed there for 60 years. Yet, the contentious reading is not this, rather, it is the way MSM played out the story that makes one suspect if this story truly holds water.

Their story started in 2003 when the families were issued eviction notices to vacate their homes or face legal action.

They sought help from Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, who sent a lawyer to help them.

Noticed how it is written? Firstly, it is the poor and helpless who faces bleak future. They have no one to turn to but to MCA. It is a sad sight indeed. And what lead them to this predicament? They sought the help of Seputeh MP, Teresa Kok (who so happen to belong to DAP, the arch nemesis of all Lassies) which didn't manage to help them at all.

As you read on, you feel that a certain Madam Tan, being a resident of this village, like many other villagers, placed much hope on the Seputeh MP to help them with the eviction notice. She dutifully sought the help of a lawyer which promised to fight the case for a fee of RM100. Why just RM100? MSM didn't say. Anyway, to cut the long story short, we then read this:

According to the residents, they had not heard from Kok or the lawyer until Dec 28 last year when she called for a meeting to inform them that they had lost the case and gave each of the families a copy of the court order.
For those unaware about subliminal, this is indirectly saying Ms Kok here did nothing for the past 4 years. Later we read:

“The lawyer asked us if we wanted to file an appeal. If we do, we must each pay RM300. She told us that the appeal was only for the extension of time from being evicted, not to fight for compensation,'' Tan said.

Isn't it shocking? The way this MSM put it like as though somehow it is daylight robbery. RM300 now? And of all things, it is only extension of time from being evicted, not to fight for compensation. To further support their case they wrote:

She said the lawyer came the following day and asked for more money.

“The lawyer said the RM300 was not enough and that there were other expenses, administrative, transportation and other miscellaneous fees that needed to be paid. She quoted a fee of RM2,300 for each family,” Tan said.

According to Tan, some families paid but many refused to do so. They wanted to know why they were not informed about the progress of the case and were kept in the dark all the while.

The red line is an important point we will revisit later but suffice to say that Mr Chin of MCA went on to say much but accomplished little. In summary,

...it would be too late to file an appeal as the appeal must be submitted by Jan 7 (yesterday) and also because many were not keen on it...

“They are facing a Catch 22 situation here. By appealing they are only buying time to stay and most don't have that kind of money,'' Chin said.

“The next best thing is to help them get alternative housing at a government housing scheme. Another avenue is to negotiate with the landowner for an extension of time to move out or even some compensation on humanitarian ground,'' he said.

I would be damned. Is Mr Chin sent from heaven to Kampung Hock Ann? Well, that is how I would see it according to this MSM. Of course, to appear to be fair to Ms Theresa, they quoted a few things she said such as:

1) Why it costs RM300 per person and later RM2,300 (Of the 200 families, only 20 took up the offer and since it is a collective effort, the costs are merely divided over a smaller pool).

2) Why did the case took so long to come to a conclusion (It is an everyday event that court judgement take years to reach a conclusion).

3) Ms Kok tried approaching the landowner (private land by the way) many times but each time proved to be futile.

4) Ms Kok is also willing to help them to obtain government housing scheme.

But after reading the whole article, I felt a sense of anger. Why didn't Ms Theresa Kok do anything during those 4 years? One must wonder whether whatever she explained have any value to people rendered homeless.

I then decided to check her website. Surprisingly, one will find a long article posted by her as she submitted her own defense. Unlike MSM, who obviously can't afford to write much and what more to insert details of relevance which might shed more light on what has transpired because afterall, they are in the business of selling advertising space (but of course, in that short article, the Star manage to find space to add every name and rank of the MCA attendees such as Seputeh Barisan Nasional information head Banie Chin, Seputeh Wanita MCA head Chai Yat Chiew, secretary Choong Swee Choy, Kampung Hock Ann MCA branch chairman Choong Fook and division legal adviser Mak Foo Wei), Ms Theresa Kok wrote the sequence of event in detail complete with a Q&A list. But the most crucial aspect we can never know nor verify which she highlighted but tells us something consistent with opportunistic behaviours that strangely canines (such as Murphy, my family's crocker spaniel) also exhibits is this:

While we were busy trying to get enough numbers to meet the deadline for filing the case, MCA people then went around to tell people that MCA can fight the case for them free, and asked them to meet their leaders last Friday night. This gave residents a false sense of hope.

The meeting of MCA attended by the former MCA candidate in Seputeh Bennie Chin received coverage in two Chinese papers. Bennie, who was so blurred with the whole issue, whacked me with all the wrong and twisted facts. He told the people that he could help them to apply for low cost houses, and he could not help them to appeal to court as it was too late for him to do so. This means MCA has misled the residents and conned them to attend the meeting.

Source: http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/b/barking_up_the_wrong_tree_gifts.asp

Her article was dated 7 January 2008 which I believe she was referring the meeting to 4 January 2008. In her article, she mentioned she need to get the monies ready by 2 January 2008. Isn't it strangely convenient to claim there is no more hope by organising a meeting past the deadline? I guess that is one way to get genuine tears for a disingenuous media coverage.

But her main point of contention she wants everyone to know is this:

I was quite upset over the whole incident:

i) The court has ruled against the residents. So, legally speaking, they have no right over the land and they have to move out of the area. As many of them love that area so much, I was just trying to help them to try one more time to appeal in court and to buy some time for them to continue to stay there while they were waiting for their case to be heard. However, many residents are not united on cases that involved spending their money. My intention has been twisted by those irresponsible MCA guys;

ii) The residents there mostly are ignorant of laws and they are naive about legal proceedings, that’s why they can be misled by irresponsible folks easily. I have been trying my best to help them to stay there longer and to fight for their case, but they don’t appreciate my efforts to help them. It is very disheartening to deal with grassroots people like this;

Anyway, if you would like to read more, you can read it from her website.

But what I find it most disturbing is this. Why politicise an issue which obviously is a civil suit between two parties where one just insist on not moving, who wants compensation to move out despite enjoying 4 years of free rent (they previously paid the landowner for land rental) while the other adamant on getting back the land to be developed to something else while offering no compensation? Is this fair to the private landowner? Imagine if you have a house and you rent it to someone who refuses to move, it is a pain just to get back your possession. Is it fair for the house owner to pay the tenant to move out?

One must credit Ms Kok for trying to get the landowner to meet and discuss. But if he/she refuses, what can Ms Kok do to compel him/her to give compensation to the ex-tenants? MSM obviously is not in the business to address this nor on the intention of these people who love the area so much that they were willing to pay RM100 per family to continue squatting there.

What I don't understand however is why Ms Kok didn't update them on the progress for the last 4 years. I guess that is her biggest mistake. She should have just organise an annual meeting and tell them the progress even if there is none. But is it really her fault if our legal system takes 4 years to reach a verdict? Or that people in their greed forgot that it is not themselves (by advertising free service but offer useless advice) but others (in this case it is the ex-tenants in dilemma) they should be helping?

Yet I can't help but wonder, why now? Why only now Mr Chin a.k.a. Lassie wannabe takes action? Shouldn't he visit places and ask them if they need any help when they encounter any problems frequently? Perhaps if he is sincere, why not just work with the elected MP for the good of the people? If he really wants to score genuine political mileage on his own, cheap advertisement like this may actually backfire.

One can't help but wonder whether uncanny resemblance between canine behaviour and those seeking power forces one to conclude they are just animals out for a one time only good kill where minimal efforts are spent but maximum enjoyment are obtained. I shudder at the thought where these wolves in sheep skins would continue in power.

Monday, 7 January 2008

When We Stop Kidding/Lying To Ourselves

It is a new week and a new beginning. For each and everyone of us we have choices to make. Some we will live in regret, others we shrug off as lessons of history while there are others we are damn happy about because we decided on it and the outcome came out right. Yet, there are decisions we made because we have to compromise for the sake of harmony.

Source: http://villageofjackson.com/

I heard of many who told me it is useless to even contemplate on voting because the system is rigged. For every vote one place for the opposition candidate, some argued a phantom voter will appear to vote for the other candidate. So why bother? And it seemed hopeless afterall. Yet day in and out, I hear complaints, anger and demands for justice. Yet none will really stand up when asked to do something. They raise problems, yet no solutions in sight.

Some say, "Why don't we just leave? Let someone else take care of the mess."

Sounds good to me. I think I might take my chances elsewhere. But it will not be today. Neither will it be tomorrow. There is still time to fight the good fight. We have yet to receive the broom so why leave? If we care so much like an insurance salesman cares about his commission, being thick face may wear the other party out to a compromise.

Others say, "Ah, but that is idealism/stupidity+insanity. It is unattainable."

True but we have to start somewhere. If we are given the right to vote, why don't we do just that? Every vote given to the opposition candidate means the other party must work harder to get someone else to vote for him/her. Eventually, the hole will be too big to cover and when there are many holes to cover, how much soil can be toss around to cover so many holes?

There are only 26 million of us and for that matter perhaps 10 or so million voters. We can't expect overnight to have 26 million voters right? If it is truly rigged, then all of us disenchanted people should come out in full force to vote for what we truly believe in. That way, there will be many holes for the other side to find other voters to cover. Just because sometimes one may think the other party is stupid doesn't mean they are. I am quite sure they can count too.

Some again will say, "That is not practical. Not everyone will show up. Besides, I don't trust the opposition parties. They are too fragmented."

To that, I have to ask if you have learn about economics. If there are competition and especially stiff competition among suppliers, who will ultimately benefit? (Answer: us, the customers if you don't already know). Yet if we continuously distrust our main supplier yet grudgingly let those buggers charge us more each day and we WILLINGLY pay for it by calling it, "A fact of life", aren't we casting our lot with our main supplier?

Well, there is a reason why (excuse me if I offended you but I am not apologising for quoting the words from the Bible) we read this:

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:8 KJV)

For when we doubt and receive not wisdom from God, we fail to discern and make the right decision. We then harvest what we sow and we curse the ground for yielding so little.

Who are we kidding anyway by our talk and no action? We now have a chance to make a difference. Yes, it might be small but we will enlarge the holes by our simple action. Do we have to pay to exercise our votes? What do we have to lose if we cast our vote to help widen the gap for the other party to reach? Yet by not voting, no one is there to toil the hole, to widen the gap. Everyone merely look at the other party as he slowly reach across and run off into the sun set while we look on with dust on our face.

Some say 1 vote matters little. Tell it to Rutherford B. Hayes who became a president because of 1 vote. Tell it to the Indiana congressman who cast that 1 vote who was also elected by 1 vote.

Yes people, you are upset, so am I. So let's channel our energy to something productive. Let's do something about it. All you and I need to do is use the pencil provided and cross the box which indicate support for the opposition candidate on the piece of voting paper provided. Then if the decision is just as we expected it to be, well, we know we tried. However, if we just criticise and do nothing about it by saying the system is unfair, who are we kidding/lying to when we have already cast our lot with the ones we complain about?

Friday, 4 January 2008

It's All Your Fault!

I accidentally scratched my car the other day as I was making a turning. I had quite a few things on my mind. Also, as I have frequently made the same turning, I didn't really pay much attention to the road ahead. Before I scratched my car, I saw a guy walking about 10 metres ahead at the side of the road carrying two gas tanks. Thinking I should give some space to the gasman, I kept to my left, at the same time I kept thinking about work and I didn't look at my left mirror. And that’s when it happened. Luckily, it is only a minor scratch. Sigh… it must be the Mr Gasman’s fault. Why can’t he just use a trolley rather than carrying those tanks with his bare hands and obstruct the road? Plus why must I be pressured with work?

Source: kysstherayne.blogspot.com

So I can somewhat sympathise Dr Chua when he blamed his downfall to his work commitment. I mean, if you are under such tremendous stress, you surely can’t hold it in and you need to release it right? And what’s with the Press? Can’t they stop speculating that he wants to take on the top Lassie? I have my fair share of Press-like people in my office too. One kept drawing stars and telling me I am one. This of course attracts unnecessary attention to me. I want a quiet and private life too. So then if Dr Chua must visit hundreds of hospitals and health facilities as testimony of his work commitment while making himself known to his party supporters, he certainly need some relaxation avenue right? Ok, it is not your everyday theme park games, watching TV or reading a book. Can’t a guy just have some fun with a personal gal friend?

So why can’ they give him a break? People should be forgiving right now that his private activities are made known to the public. Afterall, it is his personal life and why do these people need to raise his relaxation activity as a moral issue? Can’t they accept he too has needs?

As for me, I am damn unhappy with the scratch mark. I need to get it scrubbed and cleaned and hopefully the stain is too superficial to be seen. Damn you idiotic gasman and unnecessary work pressure. It is entirely your fault!

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Of Abstinence & Reaping What We Sow

I called my friend recently to catch up on things since it has been awhile since we last talked. We used to be quite close and shared many common topics but as time went by, we sort of drifted apart as we went on with our own lives. I was taken aback when she told me something I least expected.

"I had a child," she said.

"A child? What? When were you pregnant? You should have told me about it." I replied.

"Oh no. I adopted a child."

Source: http://chrismiles.info/baby1.0/

Well, that is a very big step I must say. She is actually still single and living alone. In fact, I am not just taken aback, I felt disturbed. Isn't it usually difficult for someone who is single to adopt a child? So I pressed for more details. Apparently, the child is not adopted by her but by her brother and sister-in-law. What she only did was she donated money to that organisation.

"So in other words you didn't adopt right? You just paid the money. Afterall, you did say your sister-in-law will be taking care of that 1 week old child."

"No, no. I am the one adopting because I paid for it."

Well, to my dear friend, I explained to her that she technically didn't adopt a child since it is not registered under her name and I told her just a child is not a pet or property. It is another cognizant life in development. This is further strengthen by the fact that she is not even taking care of the baby (which she conveniently pass on to her sister-in-law). She is, to me, merely acting as a loving aunt happy to have a new nephew/niece. Well, she would have none of that. She is quite adamant when the child grows older, she will take care of that child and expects the child to address her as mom. Just that for now, her sister-in-law cares for that child since she is occupied with work and career.

I find it very noble of her to take an unwanted child into her care. The child certainly didn't ask to be born into this world. According to my friend, this particular organisation was set up to address the problem of unwanted pregnancies. Rather than letting women unprepared with pregnancies go round undergoing illegal abortions, this organisation encourages women with unwanted pregnancies to give birth and put their babies up for adoption.

Yup, she is very brave. Even as I am about to enter the next stage of my life, I am still unprepared to have children. As for my single friend, her child receives not just love from her, but also love, nurture and care from her brother and sister-in-law. I am quite sure even if my friend later on in somehow shirk from taking on this responsibility (which I strongly doubt it), her brother and sister-in-law are well prepared to take care of this child since they themselves have quite a number of kids.

I wonder at times why would people choose to abort unwanted pregnancies when in their wombs are lives of unborn people which develops very much on its own. Of course, I am not talking about those who were raped. I pity them and I only hope these people will not abort the child though if they choose to do so, I have little to say about it. But for those who decided to have a bit of indiscretion and added fun in their lives, isn't it quite inhumane of them to kill a gift of God when they reap what they sow? Have they considered that the unborn child didn't ask for all this to happen?

Some would admit it is their mistake but they don't want to go through the hassle of undergoing the whole 9 months process out of fear of hurting their pride/losing face when asked by family, friends or strangers, that the pregnant stands in the way of their career paths, or they are just not ready be it economically, physically or psychologically. To be frank, I don't buy these arguments. But I can't stop people from being selfish. They are afterall just not ready to share their lives with others especially the ones they should be responsible for.

If only they realise how many couples out there who wants to have a child and remain barren till this day. But this of course rings hallow for people who can't see pass their own noses.

I have another friend who realised she is pregnant in less than 3 months into her marriage when she planned not to have kids until her 3rd marriage anniversary because of her career plans. She has since happily given birth to a baby girl. She placed her career plans on hold and decided to put as much attention as possible into nurturing her child. To her, I say, "Bravo!"

My other friend has a good suggestion to those who don't want to throw away the baby with the water. Just use a condom is her motto.

I on the other hand prefer the old fashion route i.e. abstinence.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

A Day Too Late

Well it is official. Dr Chua Soi Lek just tendered his resignation today. After managing to cause a mini ruckus, his latest decision was a relief laced with letdowns. Why the contradiction you might ask?

The thing is he apologised to everyone who is hurt and offended by his actions but he refused to step down (while failing splendidly in being unable to indicate an iota of intelligence on how important for a person in his shoes to be seen to lead and actually practice a lifestyle beyond moral reproach) and conveniently left the hard no-brainer decision to his party president and National Front Coalition president to decide on his fate.

On a side note, nevermind that the rakyat are upset with his lack of self-control but honestly, getting high by abusing one's position to gain power, position and wealth isn't exactly better. Yet, why do we still see people in power breaking rules yet living in palace like mansions surrounded by squatters and unaffected by public fury?

Anyway, his unrepentant action caused many people to feel very uneasy with him. Some questioned if he should even officiate any public opening ceremonies for fear of wrongful association by sight. Others went as far as saying they lost all respect for this man. So on the flip side I decided to be cheeky and asked one of them, "But what about Bill Clinton? He cheated too..."

It is interesting to hear my friend's reply. He said, that it is different as for Bil and Monica, it only involves oral action. In this case, the offending couple went all the way. I then asked how would that be so different since morally both men cheated on their wives. Afterall, I am quite sure at some point in their lives they would have said some vows along the line till death do us part.

Source: http://www.viewimages.com/Search.aspx?mid=668573&epmid=3&partner=Google

The interesting analogy I gotten was that the degree of adultery is akin to varying degree of damage inflicted to cars during an accident. If it is only a minor dent, most people wouldn't get too upset but if it is a major impact, lives could be lost. This according to my friend is why Bill's oral intercourse is not as offensive compared to full body workout!

I don't quite buy this argument of course because firstly, a car is inanimate and replaceable. Would we go to the extent to deem our spouse as dispensable as and when we want it? Also, accidents do happen on the road for many reasons such attempting to avoid ramming into a drug addict standing in the middle of the highway as he slowly makes his way to the other side but extramarital affairs are often rooted deeper like failure in communication and understanding. Yes, both cause damages yet one is obviously a deliberate act of betrayal, while the other could just be an error in estimation.

Anyway, in a twist of event, Dr Chua decided a day later to resign from his ministerial and party posts. Of all the the things he said, I find this the most cynical yet realistic thing he should have known right from the start and kicking himself silly now isn't exactly helping. He basically said, "I thought that by my admission, the people would forgive my weaknesses, but I thought wrong. This shows that honesty does not always pay, (but) it is up to the public to judge me.

Now you know why I think it is more of a letdown? It sounds more like someone stepping down out of frustration with people who forgot to forgive and forget about his indiscretion. The funniest thing to hear was a comment from Dr Chua's supporter a.k.a. Labis MCA division Chief who said:

“We want the party and the authorities to investigate who is behind the distribution (of the DVD) as it is a dirty move for anyone to intrude into one’s personal life. If it can happen to Dr Chua, it can happen to everyone.”

Mr Tan, with all due respect, it will never happen to you if you don't do anything wrong like committing adultery, embezzling funds, murders or kidnapping. No doubt Dr Chua's wife and family have come out in the open in support of Dr Chua's career but honestly for someone who have not experienced wearing a green hat, please think twice before babbling like a rabid canine. He might be getting a bit too emotional but I can't help but wonder if Mr Tan here is trying to tell us something he did last summer which he fears may come back to haunt him.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Sit Bubu Sit! Good Dog!

I have a very cute dog at home. It is a golden retriever and it is just so cute. Every time when I drive home, the first thing the dog will do is to lie flat on his belly and show me a sad neglected face. Yup, he is a smart dog as he wants me to pat him.

My family dog when he is only a few months old. Isn't he cute?

The other thing he wants me to do is to play with him and importantly, feed him. Once in awhile, after I pat him, he would lung forward to "bite" my hand. Why? Because he thinks there is a treat hidden there. Anyway, I don't blame him for that. Too often I have tempted him with treats and made him do all sort of actions. Like commanding him to sit and raise his left "hand" and also to stand up. He has learned that by obeying commands, he gets treats. I often pat him and tell him he is a good dog for being obedient. However, whenever I refuse to treat him after I pat him and/or asked him to do tricks, he barks a lot. Which is why I have a cane ready. Not so much to hit him but to make a loud whipping sound which he is very afraid of.

It is hard to break his bad habits we have inevitably taught him and not sending him to dog school doesn't help much with his discipline either. I guess this dog will always be a "baggage" of sort because of our own weaknesses. Personally, I know my dad wants a dog because he expects a dog to guard the house. The bad thing is, he chose the most friendly dog in the neighbourhood. He barks a lot only because he must show he is doing his work. But do not be fooled! A stranger need not be afraid of him. Just go near him and let him smell your hands. Eventually, he will turn around and let you pat his tummy. Don't smile of course as the sign of your teeth is deemed as aggression in the doggie world. But a treat is all he needs to hasten his support for you.

Talking about dogs, I find it interesting to read uncanny resemblance between my family dog and Lassies here in Malaysia. Anyway, today we read the annual doggie treats the Government so happily dish out every few years or so, especially around election time. Yup, if you read this article, "A great start to 2008 for Chinese schools", the Lassies proudly proclaim the benevolence of the caring Government where a MCA Special Chinese School Fund is created and funded by the Government focusing on the development of Chinese primary schools' infrastructure, educational facilities, emergency funds and other needs. One must wonder how much is the Government contributing to this special fund? Well, so far RM6.02 mil has been distributed to 32 schools. This however, differs slightly from the Malaysiakini report which reported RM6.32 million distributed to 33 schools. It would seem from the same Star Online article that Pay Fong Middle School and Kolej Selatan may be primary schools since this fund is meant to focus on Chinese primary schools. Thank goodness Malaysiakini clarified that the monies are distributed to 33 primary and secondary Chinese schools. Perhaps, the Star needs to be clearer like Malaysiakini.

Anyway, if you work out the contribution per school, it would be about RM188K (per the Star) or RM192K (per Malaysiakini). Apparently, the remainder will get allocations in 2 weeks time. It is touching isn't it considering how much this Government cared for minority groups' education needs (I wonder if the Tamil schools will also get the same bonus)?

Ok, so the Star did say this is not an annual contribution. The first time the Government ever contributed is of course, in 2004 which is about the same time as the 11th general election. Well, since 2004 till now, which is roughly 3 or so years, the Government has contributed to this fund for the 2nd time! Nevermind if the election is rumoured to be around the corner, the Government has the mandate till April 2009. I am quite sure this benevolent Government only has the minorities' interests in their hearts and minds.

So assuming the Government have contributed about the same sum as last time, it would have been about an annual contribution of about RM63K / RM64K per year. Surely that count for something right? It is afterall quite a hefty sum. Assuming each school has about 100 students, that will be an annual bonus of RM630 / RM640 per head contribution on top of the RM174 million 9th Malaysia Plan for the Chinese schools. I am not sure of course how much is this RM174 million earmarked for how many schools but using the RM630 / RM640 per head contribution, it works out to be RM1.72 / RM1.75 per day per student.

Yup, we must thank this caring Government for their continuous support. It sure supplements their fun-raising efforts substantially, especially those independent ones, where self reliance has been their mottoes since their respective inceptions. Admittedly, quite a number are in dilapidating conditions. Remember the deceased Mr Chan Boon Heng who died after falling through rotting termite-infested floorboards at the SJK (C) Keat Hwa near Alor Setar in 2005? I wonder if the Lassies have any comments about how these schools manage the Chinese Schools allocations under 8th Malaysia Plan and the usage of the first ever special bonus given in 2004 from this caring Government? Best if they monitor these schools to ensure that this once every 3 to 5 years bonus will not be wasted. Afterall, release and forget auto-piloting technique isn't foolproof in ensuring the desired effects will eventuate.

Coming back to my family dog, I strongly believe in his eyes, we can never do him wrong. We are not just his masters but friends and family. The cane is meant to keep him in his place and he willingly obey. Sometimes he barks a lot but often it is because he wants affection and importantly, yummy treats. Is it too much to ask in this dog eat dog world? However, when the time comes, when the family dog can no longer function as he should, he may need to be put to sleep. We will be very sad but it is best to do it to ensure less suffering and pain. I personally don't want another pet dog. But my dad will have none of that. We will grieve for awhile and then my dad will look for another dog to take my family dog's place. That's what happened to Murphy the Crocker Spaniel, the previous family dog, who had incurable ears infections (We had taken him to numerous veterinarians and tried all sorts of medicine but he howls a lot due to pain and suffering). I wonder if Lassie suffers the same fate when he is old and sickly. I doubt Malaysia has a retirement home for sickly and old dogs that can rest in peace till natural death.

I for one would rather be put to sleep if I have to be a prolonged pain to my family. I wonder if Lassie feels the same. Hmmm...