Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Remembering the past once more...

WARNING: Another long piece which may bore you and makes you wonder what is wrong with this guy.

I recently met up with a few friends which included an old friend who just came back to Malaysia to visit his relatives and friends. Old here of course do not denote the age but rather, the friendship we shared when I first went over to Australia to study. Unlike me, he has been there since his early teens.

While we spoke of our current welfare, we also spoke about things of the past. One of which of course, was about this girl I had a crush for slightly over 2 years. This girl of course is now a woman and we have lost contact ever since we graduated from the same university. Unlike me, she never did return to this country or at least not that I know of. He then told me about his recent encounter with her on the street and about the lunch they had. He briefly told me about her fling with a guy and later she left for London, for work I presume and two years later, returned to Australia. That is where he met her, on the streets of Sydney. She apparently told him about her desire to be an archeologist, which was shocking considering it probably took her close to 10 years to decide on this drastic change?

She has changed quite a fair bit, no longer the person I thought I knew yet somehow, something distinct about her makes it quite understandable. They joked about how she was my fling, which is not quite true considering I did confess but was rejected and I was quite devastated by that.

Anyway, memories about her started to flood back and I decided to type down these memories before it fades further.

And it makes me wonder why the Government build bus stops in places where there are no buses?


I remember where we first met under a tree (now gone to make way for road widening works) as I was waiting for a bus. She looked lost and asked if this is the place to wait for a bus as you know, the Government don't exactly invest much in building a bus stop.

I told her yes and that is how it all started. Our conversation as we waited for the bus, boarded the bus when it arrived and of course, as I stepped down and waved goodbye. Before I knew it, I gotten quite smitten with her.
Though our conversation was not very long, yet I feel her yearning to be free (which I would learn later that she felt tired of responsibilities imposed on her as an eldest child in her family and expectations imposed on her) and that she has a very strong mind of her own. Unlike her, I have strong disdain from the unpredictable. I have very low adventure spirit and given a choice, my only exploration would be purely on foot so one might imagine the distance I would achieve from my house to wherever.

But being smitten by her, this unknown feeling of curiosity began to develop in me. I wish to know her more, yet I am quite shy (a really big prune which only began to be shed of late) as I rather speak to a wall, a tree or some cat meowing at me than with another fellow human being for fear of the unknown. It is weird, come to think of it, as the earliest memories of fear of a fellow human being began way back to the first day I picked up the phone receiver and I am supposed to spun the dial to call my friend. It is quite weird how our brain somehow throws things up just to embarass us at times.

So anyway, during that rather short conversation I had with this girl I was kind of devastated to know she will not be taking the same bus which journeys through the same route which intertwines both our homes. Apparently she is taking a chartered bus home.

So what is a guy in love to do? I actually have to summon courage to speak to that bus driver so that I can engage his service to pick me up and drop me to the nearest possible route home. Again, this is a desire to know that girl more, to just see her and speak to her. Alas, by the time I got into the bus, she has stopped boarding the bus, which I only found out later, she has managed to hitch a ride with her class mates to go home. It this something fate is telling me?

In addition, everyday, I ate the same food (porridge and 2 pieces of nuggets) at the same spot, in the same cafeteria, hoping to see her for just one day, perhaps to see her smile and if in luck, to speak to her. Looking back, it is quite silly of me as I realised I once saw her there, had a passing and casual "hi and how are you?" and before I knew it, the cafeteria lady already knew what I would want when I went to their store. I only stopped after a few months since it is quite a pointless affair right?

But you know what is the strangest thing? In that 1 year I am in that college, I don't think I have spoken to her more than 10 times and each time, not more than 1/2 an hour.

Later, when we completed our pre-university course, I ran into her and was curious to know which university she would be enrolling herself. I asked because I am hoping to go to the same one as she is. My results by the way, weren't bad, but it wasn't the best either but it qualifies me to wherever she is choosing. But at all times, it was only twinning programme for me as that is the most my parents can afford.


So anyway, luck would have it (sometimes one must engineer this sort of things and indirect promotion helps to when you mention cost and the fact that it is a very good university) she enrolled in the same course as me. Again, despite the same enrolment, we hardly spoke until I was about to leave for Australia.

I know then I have to share my feelings with her as otherwise, who is to know what will happen? I plucked the courage (again!) to learn to drive (yes, I love walking so much my dad scolded me for not being a man enough to learn to drive at 17. I only started driving two years later.) because how is one going to pick anyone to anywhere romantic for dinner?

I am so glad I passed the driving exam at one go and then, I asked her out for a dinner in TGIF and I went round shopping for a gift. I think I saw it on a catalogue and I mail ordered it. It was a glass clock and why a glass clock? Well, because clock signify time and given all the time in the world and the fact we have limited time of course, I would want her to have mine for the rest of our days.

Alas, it didn't work out as I only found out via e-mail when I am in Australia. I was devastated for this rejection is something I can't accept (though the silly me should have been all prepared since it is unrequitted love coming from 1 side but having invested close to 2 years before I summon the guts to share my feelings for her...) I tried calling her but instead, I end up bugging her instead. My e-mails, which was begging her of sort to accept me, was an act of desperation which just turned her off further. Yet, I can still recall her final remarks which pierced me quite deeply where she told me to stop walking in the "prism of crystals". Ah... the very glass clock which signify much now come a full circle aye?

Save to say, because of this, an incident occured (which I would share in another entry in future) and right after that, I got to know this old friend in person and grew closer to him as a friend and person I can talk to as I underwent depression during those long and cold months.

After a year or so later, she came to Australia to study her final year. By then, there is a pent up hatred for her (which is not her fault) and yet I wish to remain at distance for her, for the humiliation I felt (which is also not her fault) makes it daunting for me to even see her or remain within 3 metre radius from her. When we met on the street, it will just be a quick hi, a desire to just flee and think of the happy memories of other things or if possible, just turn round and walk away. I could not summon my coldest act and that is to walk past her and pretend she is not even there as I look straight at her direction of her ears, given the pretense I see you but I actually don't.

Anyway, once I stop looking at her from a mad unrequitted lover's eyes, I realised much about her that makes me wonder why I fell for her in the first place. I realised she is not only strong willed, she is quite set in her mind that she is right unless you opt to scream your reasons at her and ended up agreeing to disagree (this I found out from a team assignment which she volunteered to join up with my friends and I). But anyway, for me at that time, I learnt that we should just complete that darn thing and get on with our lives.

The last memorable encounter I had with her was in a train in Sydney in the final days to the end of the millenium. She probably wondered why I avoided/ignored her even during this trip (which she self-invites herself as far as I recall it) and we had a long discussion which involved much arguments and screaming (thank God there is no one else in that coach we are in except some of my friends). I think she really wanted to know what is bugging me despite my persistance in avoiding giving her such satisfaction. But what was the conclusion from that? I can't even recall. Thinking back, have I been too harsh and selfish? Perhaps...

If I have a chance to see her now, how will I react? Though this old friend of mine offered her phone number to me, I declined. In my mind, I only wanted to wish her success in her life but I don't want to be part of that. Afterall, what is the value of my time to her?

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

For the love of pork

I seriously love pork. And there are two types of pork dishes I cherish above all others and that is roasted pork and suckling pig. When I was younger, I used to like eating the sweet barbeque pork. But as I grow older, I prefer the salty roasted pork which comes with its own natural sweetness and chewy roasted skin. I believe it is due to age.

A picture of a better suckling pig I had in recent times

So anyway, pork has its own distinct taste and natural sweetness that other meat can't replace. In fact, this other white meat is so popular that in Wikipedia, there is a citation about pork being the most widely eaten meat in the world.

So when I read about Jakim's comments that Bak Kut Teh cannot be deemed as halal even if it the ingredients (minus the pork) is halal because of the connotation of Bak Kut Teh represents, I don't feel offended at all. Many of course argued that since the ingredients are halal, why should the name be of concern?

Rather than ranting who is right or wrong, I would instead share on some encounters I had when it comes to sharing food. By sharing food, it is a method which I often time employ to break down the ice that may exist between strangers. With the same food, at times I inadvertibly invite consternation or stare, simply because they don't or can't enjoy it. For instance, I once brought a box filled with cake and accidentally left it on a common cabinet where everyone places food to share. A muslim colleague saw it as she was passing by and took a piece from it. When I told her it was mine, you can see the guilt ridden look on her face. Is she feeling guilty because she ate the cake without my permission or because I am just a non-muslim who may have earlier stored non-halal food in there? Either way, I take it that my food will not be welcomed, even if I bought it from the store and kept in a perfectly fine plastic container which was not at anytime used to store pork.

Anyway, one of my first acts which I establish as a norm in my workplace involves food sharing. I would buy tit bits and such (and ever mindful of the halal logo) to bridge my connection to others. You may know a bit about a person by the way the present themselves but in sharing of food, you get to know more. You talk about it. The taste and perhaps encounters and experience relating to food. It is a very good thing to open up topics at times, if there is nothing much to talk about to begin with other than work.

On annual basis, I have a certain backbreaking ritual which I will perform. This is nothing religious but rather a way for me to preserve a sense of culture and at the same time, sharing joy with others. Joy is something you can't buy but if you invest in simple ingredients with prepare and cook it with love, joy comes when you see people smiling at savouring the food you personally prepared. With feedback, criticisms and comments, I would take it as necessities to make the food better, only to again see the joy in faces of others when they savour what I made the following year.

Another picture taken in El Cerdo (A really good place to enjoy pork in Changkat Raja Chulan)

And what is this dish? It is the humble bak chang which with time, I am making less and less as the work is kind of back breaking. I am limiting it to about 150 pieces per year now, unlike the good old days of making about 200-220 plus. But the main ingredient is pork and it is difficult to share this dish when you work with Muslim colleagues around you. I often come in early mornings, carefully ensure that each of these changs are packed in proper little plastic bags and handed to the intended recipients (a.k.a. non-Muslim colleagues).

It is hard to describe the joy in the faces of others when they savour the simple food I made. I however, don't think such joy can be shared with Muslim colleagues. I may be able to eat in the same table but I can't ask them if they like their bak chang with that big fat layer of pork fats or lean ones. I can try making cakes and cookies but like one of my other colleagues I spoke to, the Muslim colleagues would just politely decline; ever suspicious if my pots, pans, oven and other stuff are halal.

But for that will I abandon my pork? No, I still love my pork. I will cook, eat and share it. It is unavoidable. You can't pass out good food more so in this country where eating is a national pastime. Whenever I take a bite of those yummy white meat, I would always tell my friends at the table, "I pity my Muslim brothers and sisters who are missing out on this dish." By that I meant no offense, it is just their conscious choice to pay the price of religious piety. Which also means less competition for me for my yummy white meats or worries about looking for a place to eat right after Maghreb prayers on Ramadan months...:o)

Oh well...

Monday, 21 December 2009

Another Monday ranting...


No doubt I have been on leave since Wednesday but it has been a hectic week. It was a mad rush of shopping, preparing 2 dishes for 25 person, attending a wedding dinner and going about meeting potential interior designer to discuss on my renovation ideas for my new house.

One of my experiments: Roasted chicken marinated using red wine plus potatoes

Did you know that the marinated sauce can be used to transform into gravy? I didn't but that didn't stop me from sauteing lots of mushrooms and capsicums with grounded black pepper and rosemary using olive oil, add the marinated sauce in it (which includes lots of garlic and onion pieces) and then I threw in 2 threw pieces of cheddar cheese and some whipping cream to thicken it. Not bad really...

In between, I went to that dreaded branch to collect my cheque book and guess who I saw? Ms Sourpuss Bank Teller. She saw me walking in, quickly made her exit to a room somewhere and I couldn't even be bothered to look at her (quite relieved actually knowing I am not being attended by her). It was short lived though. I spoke to the officer at counter 1 and he called out for her. This time round, she has the "courtesy" to say "thank you" even though the deaf and blind knows she doesn't mean it and surprisingly, no shoving of cheque books.

Come to think of it, the remaining 2 weeks seemed so short. I really dread the idea I have to return to work in 2 weeks time. I don't see why I should work with a bunch of people who are not out to work but to 'tai chi' it to others. I am supposed to update my CV but I do wonder where should I go? Sigh...

Tomorrow is Chinese Midwinter festival. Remember your loved ones (especially your parents which you may not have seen for sometime) and have a dinner or lunch together. There is only so much time one can walk on this world before disappearing. And I am not referring to just you.

Merry Christmas, season greetings and happy holidays...:o)

Monday, 14 December 2009

Between Faith, Christmas & Imperfections

Just the other day, I came across this interesting article on The Nut Graph, "Horror movie does not reflect Christmas message." Basically, Bishop Ng of Christian Federation of Malaysia had issued a statement criticising NTV7 decision to promote The Exorcist III as a "Christmas Special" as contradictory to the message of Christmas. I laughed. I wondered.

For this got me thinking, what is the message of this coming holiday season is trying to convey anyway?

Meanwhile, my company is still in the mood of printing out Christmas cards. But of course, instead of calling it Christmas, they now call it "Seasons Greetings". I wonder why...

To those who are not aware, Hanukkah is also around the corner. But being somewhat anti-Israel, you wouldn't find much support for any Jewish theme in this country. So no menorahs and dreidels. But is wishing "Seasons Greetings" meant being inclusive, just in case you don't miss out somebody?


As I wonder what this seasons' message is for me, I can't help but sensing a deeper meaning eminating from pages 220 - 222 of Mitch Albom latest book, "have a little faith".


Here's a little mix and match extract which I summarised below:

"I deserve hell," he whispered. "The things I've done, God would be justified. God is not mocked. What you sow, you reap...

"...and I may not have reaped all that harvest."

... I don't understand, I said. If you think you're going to be punished-

"Why still serve God?" He smiled weakly. "What else can I do?"

But, Henry, all the good you do here-

"No." He shook his head. "You can't work your way into heaven. Anytime you try and justify yourself with works, you disqualify yourself with works. What I do here, every day, for the rest of my life, is only my way of saying, 'Lord, regardless of what eternity holds for me, let me give something back to you. I know it don't even no scorecard. But let me make something of my life before I go..."

He exhaled a long weary breath.

"And then, Lord, I'm at your mercy."

Yes, Henry may be fornicator, adulterer, thief and drug trafficker before he repented to be a pastor but Mitch rightly put this as he understands more about Henry.

Maybe the first half of his life he did worse than most, and maybe the second half he did better. But that night was the last time I questioned how much Henry Covington's past should shadow his future. Scripture says, "Judge not." But God has the right to, and Henry lived with that every day. It was enough.

As I read that heart warming book, these few pages speak to me, reminding me that this season is not just to be jolly but that message of goodwill to men should not ring hallow. It is a reminder to me that as we are born to die, as the days grow short, we should perhaps learn to let go and live with contentment and accept imperfections both in others and ourselves.

Merry Christmas and good tidings to you and your kin...:o)

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Expectations, expectations and more expectations...

I had an interesting lunch today with my church mates at one of those Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa outlets which of late are springing up at various places. I heard much about it and seriously after trying it out, it is just so-so. I was told by my wife the original is better. Oh well...

But the most interesting topic started just awhile back after church service. I was talking to a fellow cell group member (No, i am not involved in some sleeper cell activities waiting to bring terror on this nation. It is just a regular gathering of fellow Christians to share the good Word and fellowship) and it dawns upon me that my current cell leader will be leaving soon if all things go according to plan. You see, she is now seeing someone and if things work out, she will marry. Going by tradition, the bride usually follows the groom and having met the would-be groom for the first time (prim, proper and shy/solemn/serious), I think that is the most probably outcome.

At the same time, she bore much burden which I left her when I stepped down from my role as a cell leader (which by the way included me ceasing from participating in cell activities for almost 2 years). She did well however, having grew the cell to a big group of dedicated Christians who now plays bigger role in the church, something which I doubt I could do during my "term".

But it dawns upon me something which I find very disturbing. Despite the growth, there is no "right" leader raised to replace her. I find it disturbing enough when I was told the pastor of our church will takeover the "cell leadership". I could think of various candidates of hand but sadly, it is either former cell leaders or our Filipino brothers who are here on working permits who most unlikely to make Malaysia as their second home (I wonder why *grin*).

So anyway, as I spoke to my sister-in-Christ, she asked if I would be interested to "come back". Seriously, it never dawns upon me to serve again. You see, I felt trepidation to even continue in my role as a Sunday school teacher, what more back to serving as cell leader. In some ways, I have lost connection to the cell, as it has evolved much and there are now many new faces I am not familiar with. And increasingly, I find values at work contradicts with me (which is still bearable for now since I have not crossed the barrier! (though almost and twice at that with the second occurring in Jakarta but that is a different story for another time)).

I told her, I am quite reluctant. I am quite forthright in stating why i.e. I don't like to conform to a system which tells me I have to attend prayers on Tuesdays in church or courses organised by the church simply because I should be seen to set an example.

What if I am just like everyone else? What if I just want to enjoy my Tuesdays running on a thread mill to keep my ever-increasing weight? Or perhaps just enjoy a cuppa somewhere listening to background jazz in some coffee outlet instead of fighting sleep in some courses? Is it so wrong just to say no? The life of a leader is no longer your own but it will now belong to a corporate body and greater accountability will now be called for.

Between hypocrisy at work and church, is there any difference? So yes, I love my boundaries and I am not prepared to sacrifice it, more so for the sake of fulfilling something I don't think I have a calling for. I may do the Word aspect of cell every Fridays but I am certainly very reluctant to beat the jam just to show up at 8.30 pm to sign off for some course.

Anyway, I told her, I am willing to return to cell to fill in the gaps for the Word aspect (if there is such a need), but cell leadership is to me a synonym for "once bitten, twice shy". Then again, who am I anyway? Aren't I just a tiny speck in the whole creation? I am sure there are many who can be called, if only they are given a chance. If I am anything, perhaps only as a stop gap measure, an interval/gap or just a plain plan B. I am afterall a nobody, I don't think I will be called anyway since I have now become somewhat an irregular attendee.

Sigh. I am a terrible Christian, aren't I? I hate myself sometimes.

I guess I will just trust in the Lord then. Just as He provides food for the sparrows and petals as clothings for the lilies, He might just about raise anyone for the cell leadership. I am a nobody. That I must remind myself...:o)

Monday, 30 November 2009

Mondays & Epitome of All That's Wrong With It...

WARNING: This is very long but because I am still mad at that idiotic little napolean in a local bank, I just have to narrate it word for word as my memory permits!


So imagine you have to work on Monday after a long weekend. The one where you had plans for but somehow, something happened and it turns out to be a miserable weekend to boot. Now imagine you have to face a large crowd of customers all eager to get things done and you realised some of your colleagues took extended leaves which left you and your other teller friend working. Imagine the frustration. And let me repeat, all of it happened on Monday.

So with pent up feeling of sort and having to maintain a job for reasons only you can understand, visualise how you will take it upon yourself to face a large crowd of customers.


On the other hand, I am the customer who took leave on Monday to sort things out. I walked in to this bank after visiting another bank, NRD and JPJ where I noticed people aren't in a mood to work. Smiling may not be the norm but doing your job professionally is the minimum required anyway. I don't have high expectations for civil service but I was quite impressed that the customer service in government departments and this other bank (which was reputed to have bad customer service) have improved noticably since the last visit I had. And this I mean not only our immigation department.

So back to the story.

I press for a ticket to get a number to be served from a machine, quite customary with many institutions nowadays since it is more fashionable to have your customers sitting on chairs waiting for the queue rather than having them standing and lining up. Of course if they could do the work quickly and efficiently, who would really mind queuing while standing? Or for that matter, who wants to sit on a chair and wait for hours only to be served?

Anyway, mine was 2002. And the one before me was 2001. I wanted to open a current account in this bank to facilitate payments for my new housing loan. I was glad somewhat for the short numberbut my wife was busy chatting on the phone outside. I was worried. What if my number is called?

Anyway, it was about 10.15-10.30 am, so ok, let's wait and see. I scanned the horizon and realised they have two cubicles like tables on the far right of the branch to provide personal services which I would assume for customers that wanted to take up mortgages and open accounts. It was unoccupied though, perhaps they are on leave?

Then my number was called. I walked to the counter 3. I told the teller, a woman at early 20s (with lots of pimples on her face busy writing something) that I wanted to open a current account for my loan.

I passed her the letter of offer for her to take a look. Perhaps she didn't hear me the first time, she asked, "What account?" I told her, "Current account". "Current account for?" to which I replied, "For my mortgage." She then asked again, "Which account?" Perhaps it is me but is the standard of English fallen that badly in this country or perhaps this woman failed in her exams? The rest of my conversation with her from hereon, were conducted mainly in Canotonese. I just look at her dumbfolded and she said, "Mortgage plus?" I said, "Yes, you can read it from the letter of offer I just passed to you." You should see the look on her face. She was quite reluctant to the point of irritation to read it. She read a name and asked who is that? I said it is me. And this other name? I told her it is my wife's. Then she said, "Both of you need to be present to open a joint account." I told her she is just outside and asked her to wait for a moment. I walked out and called out for her. She quickly rush in with me.

While she is busy typing some stuff, I told her I wanted to get a cheque book. In addition, I would also like to get an ATM card. With her fu quah (Cantonese for bitter gourd) face, she somewhat said "can" to what I requested.

Now you can see from her face she is not quite pleased with the prospect of work. She asked, "Can you give me the processing fee?" Now, if she is smart, she should check in the system to see if it is paid. But knowing this bank, I do have my suspicious that all may not be well so I told her, "I have paid the fees to the loan officer in another bank. Could you please check?"

She kept quiet, took our documents and walked to the photocopier behind her. An officer, who happened to be seated right at the back of her, went over to chat with her and examined the letter of offer. It was then I told my wife, "I am not happy with the services of this bank. Didn't I tell you this other bank we are currently using is much better? At least they smile and welcome you, not like here."

Perhaps she heard it, perhaps not, whatever. She then passed us a stack of documents and told us to fill it up. I was perplexed why there are so many forms but whatever the case maybe, I was just about to walk over to another place to fill up these docs and sensing she is short of vocabularies, I asked her should I take another number? She said no. At the tables where the personal services workstation supposed to be, I sat down with my wife and filled in the necessary. I realised there are two forms which I don't think I need and I am not sure why she gave us.

When we completed what was required, I handed her all the forms, she literally grabbed the documents from me (which will be a series of grabing and shoving as you read on further). And she shoved two forms back at me. I asked, "What are these forms for?" She said, "Your wife said she lost her ATM card, these forms are for her to fill in to get replacement." I gave her the look that no-doubt-my-wife-inquired-but-the-least-you-can-do-is -to-tell-us-we-don't-need-to-fill-these-forms-now.

I afterall filled up these forms and only now realised it was not for what it was intended. So I asked, "Then why did you gave it to me?" She said, "Oh just in case next time you need to get replacement ATM card."

I noticed she is holding back her smile of sort. Perhaps she thought she is very smart to have "tricked" me to fill in those forms. So anyway, I passed her the monies. I told her I want to put RM500 as deposit. She processed it and then passed me the cheque book request slip. I took the slip and she said, "Put in the box over there." "Over there?" As I pointed to my left. "Yes, there.", she said. I walked to where "there" is and back and told her, "I don't see the box." She said again, "Over there!" as she pointed to my left. Now, the box is only the size of two 1.5 litre bottles placed side by side and it is translucent, placed next to a placard / ad of sort or a plant, I cant be sure but whatever it is I can tell you being described as "there" is as cryptic as a treaure hunt map with no X mark the spot. It is only 2 counters away and the least she could say is, please drop the slip into the translucent box placed on the top far-left of the counter 1. Is it that hard to say? She ended up having to stand up, walked midway, took her pen and pointed to me where the box is. And again, you can see in her irritated fu quah face that she is not happy.

After it was completed, I asked her, "How about my ATM card application?" She gave me the blank look for a second and back to fu quah face. She said in Cantonese something along the line that it will cost me RM8 to get an ATM card and annual charges of RM8 (but because of her rather opague words, it sounded like RM100! which I later clarified with my wife that she meant RM8). Meanwhile, I took out RM50 and put in on the counter for her.

She passed me some stuff to fill in again which I proceeded to do accordingly. As she spoke, I didn't bother to look at her. You can hear the tone that she is not pleased. She asked, "Do you have other accounts with this bank?" I swiftly replied, "No." while in my mind, I was thinking, can't you check in the system? Then she asked, "I don't have change for RM50. Do you have smaller notes?" to which I replied, "No, I don't have as I just withdrew monies from the bank." She was quite adamant and said, "I don't have change wo." And I looked up at her and in my mind, should I call for the manager? or say out loud, "You mean the bank has no monies!" to which I expect a stampede of desperate customers withdrawing monies and cause a deposit run.

This woman is definitely not a problem solver and she is putting obsticles in front of us just to impede us from opening an account or getting an ATM card.

Then my wife asked, "Can't you direct debit against our current account?" Defeated, she said, "Yes." which followed by grabbing the ATM application form I just completed and shoving me a yellow notepad and asked me to sign to enable the direct debit. She then shoved/threw me a slip and asked me to sign. I did. She grab it and shove it back and said, "Your name and date." I filled it in.

Suffice to say that by the time I left, I think I loath going to that branch rather than government offices. To think that in our quest to move up to higher income nation, people like her is more than sufficient to "shove" any would be investors to consider the likes of Indonesia and Thailand rather than some arrogant problem giving nobodies, which by the way, this nation has quite a number of them.

Again, so what if you have period pains? Or your boyfriend dumped you? Or perhaps your weekend trip turns out to be not what you expected? You know you have a front line job and for whatever reason you have, you need to work professional to ensure you earn some grub to meet whatever excuse you have to continue living. I don't expect a smile but if you are into shoving and grabing, why not just change profession to be a professional thief or robber? I don't need shovings to tell me I am not wanted. To this, her CEO will definitely know why I am not pleased and mind you, if I did it to the "World's Local Bank" I don't mind doing it to this crappy local bank!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

It's been awhile

I realised my life is quite mundane. Everyday in fact is quite predictable. Monday to Friday will be workdays. It is also from Monday to Friday I rant about being exploited. Yet despite this, I allow myself to be exploited. I dream of making big bucks, only because I want to be free from this silly cycle of waking up with the first phrase being, "I am resigning today" instead of, "Praise be to the Lord for another new day."

On Saturdays, it will be "I sleep till 10.3o am" and lazying at home or going out with friends and Sundays being the day of the Lord. Being a sloth of sort, my weekends movements are quite restricted unless it involves either emergencies or obligations.

If only life moves like an escalator...

Of course, in between those working days, there will be problems to be solved and typical phrases being heard. The likes of which include, "I noticed your efficiency of late is falling," followed by "You need to prioritise" and finally after much hew and cry about being forced to labour for more than 14 hours a day "Don't give me problems, give me solutions." And then the case of being thrown last minute requests to finish a proposal within 1 day because "we need to stay competitive". I did complete it by the way, 30 minutes short of 24 hours deadline. Only to be told it was filled with minor errors that would erk the ever so intelligent and sophisticated clients.

So what can a person like me do? (It was the third time a fortnight ago I told my boss I am leaving soon to push some reality into the equation.) Silly huh?

Having been sucked by work and fed-up with the inertia of changes in this country, I have long abandoned my blogging activities. It is not intended, if only I have RM5 million in my bank account and zero debt to go with that.

But why blog again? I guess I enjoy writing and only by writing and opining in written format, for a moment, I am myself, not some slave that prostitutes for some monthly wages...:)

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

It just gets darker...

It was around 7 p.m. today when one of my bosses came up to me and told me a shocking news.

BNM decided to reduce OPR by 50 basis points effective from 1 March 2009.

I then asked him ,"What about SRR?" He paused and then said,"1% cut."


Now before you get too happy and start cheering (since some of you might believe BLR might be going down as well), think of what the signal BNM is sending by sending OPR on another journey downwards. It was not too long ago (21 Jan 2009) that BNM reduced OPR drastically by 75 basis points along with it SRR by 1.5%.

As one should be aware, Overnight Policy Rate ("OPR") is an overnight interest rate, set by BNM, used for monetary policy direction. It is the target rate for the day-to-day liquidity operations of the BNM. So when BNM wants to lend or borrow for day-to-day needs, it will be transacting at a range of +/- 25 basis points or 0.25%. In effect, it is also a tool where BNM is telling the banks what is the risk free rate. By lowering it, they are indirectly telling the banks to lower their cost of lending.

Now, the January cut was largely expected but the quantum was kind of a shocker. But the February cut and the quantum involved is not something which I would expect.

The Malaysian economy has been adversely impacted by these global developments. Exports and industrial production have declined steeply, while private investment activities have slowed down in recent months as businesses scaled back their spending. Consumer sentiment has also been affected by the weakening conditions in the labour market. The domestic economic conditions are expected to continue to remain challenging in the coming quarters with the continued deterioration in the global economy.

Yup, that press statement released today from BNM confirms my worries alright. There is something the Government is not telling us, the rakyat. It is something we all knew it all along despite the reassurance that all is well until not too long ago, the DPM decides to tell us, actually, all is not well. And the latest move by BNM is merely an indication of the kind of magnitude they are expecting.

Anyway, to soften the blow from the signal they sent, BNM wrote this following the bleak prognosis of the coming economic downturn.

While this has raised the risk of an economic contraction in 2009, the prospects remain intact for an economic recovery once global conditions stabilise given that the economy is not overleveraged, the financial system remains sound, and the external position is healthy.

With inflation on a moderating trend, the task of macroeconomic policy is to support domestic demand until conditions in the global economy show signs of normalisation. Further measures will be introduced by the Bank to ensure continuous access to credit as well as to minimise the impact of the economic downturn on specific affected groups.

Basically, BNM wants us to do things per normal before the financial crisis. To keep spending and investing and boost the local economy.

Sigh... there seems to be no end in sight for the dark days ahead. I am definitely putting off some planned expenditures after what BNM announced.

But you know what is funny, I am still working till late nights. I guess like what someone once told me about being thankful; your bonus this year is you are still working.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

The End of Noble Idealism?

Have you observed the rather rainy CNY weather for the past year or so? It seems that the weather is going haywire and honestly, things aren't as predictable today as before.

I remember in my younger days, CNY were always hot and sunny. Year in, year out my dad will always say, CNY is a dry and hot season, just wait and see.

This year however he said quite point blank and forlorn, "It is a wet season this year. How the weather have changed."

But I love the rain.


I love watching the flow of water streaming down the skies, trickles turn into gushes of water flowing down the stones, into the pool and watching the carps swim by.

Life can be serene if you take time to stop and watch. At times, I simple forget about time and the things happening around me. Anyway...

A good lesson I learn today is watching how swiftly the Perak government fell. I guess in the game of politics, this is only natural. Afterall, we based our governance system on less than ideal system. We have inherited a governance culture that is alien to call it norm. A system build on idealising the monarchy, yet limited by constitution. Isn't it an irony that England has no formalised constitution yet functions within the expectation of modern westernised mature democracies?

I often romanticised about the idealism of a benevolent king, acting impartial and fair to his subjects. When I went to Kuala Kangsar recently, I felt happy. Call it irrational exuberance but I am honoured to walk and drive in this royal city which produced what I believed to be benevolent kings. I often kindle in my mind what great lineage indeed for the true royalties is the sole link back to the founder, Parameswara, of the great city, Malacca. How many royalties can claim such lineage and bloodline? Isn't this the bluest of the blue bloods? Perhaps it is just me but it is just unbelievable to breath the same air as they who graced our lives with their noble presence.


Of course, my wife has to remind me that most of the time, they live in Ipoh, rather than the royal city, Kuala Kangsar. But she is the first to ponder retiring there after getting her washed and set for RM18. Is it so wrong to yearn for an institution that is impartial, fair and just? More so one by birth with a proud history.

I guess like every romantic affair, one tend to forget that the ones we love are also human beings. As glaring as the faults may be, all it takes is a brush off here, a trivialising there and a denial elsewhere to turn a mountain into an ant hill. Afterall, there must be no blemish for such personification which is makes little logic sense it is as plain, ordinary and common.

Oh how much I have been proven wrong today. I am sorely disappointed (and heart broken too... to quote Hee Yit Foong) to watch my idealism shatters before my sight.

Yet, I will not forsake my King. My pledge of allegiance remains much the same though nonetheless I am still heart broken and disappointed.

Oh how I yearn to return the days of old, where people are less divided and the constitution is cherished not altered like a piece of over sized pants or treated like a square peg to fit in a round hole.

Will I see the predictable sunny and hot CNY again? Will the bluest of blue galloped gallantly on a white horse save us at the hour of reckoning? Or must I just accept we live under an unpredictable and unexpected temperament of others, who determines our fate best rest in their hands, even as they are just as human and err as easily as us?

Monday, 26 January 2009

Happy Chinese New Year

It's been almost 2 months since I last wrote anything. Sort of decided to go silent as there is really nothing much worth writing about plus the current job requirements are quite demanding.

Is this picture nice? I took it using my new Nokia 5800...:)

Anyway, just to wish everyone Happy Chinese New Year. Time passed rather quickly that in some ways all I can think of is the unremarkable and ordinary things I did in the past 1 year and how much time I have left in the world. Haha... I think it is rather too morbid and sombre.

Anyway, I wish everyone good health and blessed with peace and prosperity in facing the coming year.