Friday, April 29, 2005

I Am Your Daddy!

Ngo hai lei ge lou tau!

"Join me and we can rule the galaxy as father and son!"

"I'll never join you!"

"Obi-Wan Kenobi never told you what happened to your father did he"

"He told me enough! He told me you killed him!"

"No, Luke *cue the most famous line in movie history*"

"NoOooOoO! It cant be! It's not possible!!"

"Search inside your feelings Luke, you know it is true!"


What Death Star?

*Ahem*, okay, Star Wars reenactments aside, the time draws near...the battle station is complete!

May 19th.

A magical date which has surely etched itself into the minds of all Star Wars fans (aka geeks, including myself) throughout the entire galaxy.

As for me, sureeee, I'm anticipating the release of the final installment of the Star Wars pre-episode IV trilogy. I've seen the trailers, drooled over them, and been left wondering whether, maybe, possibly, could it be that THIS episode would be the one which would redeem George Lucas from his previous 2 fiascos masquerading as a Star Wars movie?

You heard me right.


You want to know why? Are you sure? Can you handle it? Alright, you asked for it.

Now, where do I begin...


First off, why-oh-why in the name of all that is good and pure did they decide to cast that kayu, wooden, zombie-like, cant-act-for-rotten-nuts little boy as Anakin Skywalker? Didnt George Lucas see that even a week old, roadkill carcass has more life and character than that little runt? Argghhh!!

Remember the 'touching' scene where he had to say goodbye to his mother? That scene actually brought tears to my eye, and they werent tears of sadness.

Jar-Jar Stinks

Ok, I digress. The person who came up with the idea of Jar-Jar Binks deserves to be bound, gagged and dressed in a Barney outfit, all the while being paraded up and down a crowded street while the crowd proceeds to pelt him (or her) with an arsenal of rotten eggs and brinjals.

Me-sah really think-sah that Jar-Jar Binks-sah is the most-sah moronic and annoying-sah alien EVER-SAH!!!

Everything here is so soft and smooth

Yes, the original Star Wars trilogy did have elements of romance in them. BUT they were extremely well executed, with a potent and effective blend of wit, sarcasm and humour. Romance in the original Star Wars was never of the over-bearing, mushy-wushy variety, but sadly that was exactly what it was in Episode II.

Who can forget the hamsup look on Anakin Skywalker's face (played by Hayden, not the above mentioned zombie-boy) when he first saw Padme in a low cut gown? Or when he uttered those utterly horrendous, supposedly 'romantic' lines?

"Back home everything is rough and hard, unlike here, where everything is soft and smooth *then proceeds to run his slimy hands up and down Padme's arm*"


The Jedi Council likes to hold long, boring meetings

Yadda-yada-yada-yadda blah-bla-bla- blahhh-blabla-blahHHhHhHH.

Enough said.

Purple lightsabers are Gay

How can a Jedi be expected to uphold truth and justice throughout the galaxy if he ends up looking like a fruitcake the moment he wields his weapon?

Boggles the mind I tell ya!

May the Force be With You

However, having said all that, I still have faith that ol' Georgey is able to pull yet another trick out of his bag and totally captivate and enthrall us with his final Star Wars production.

It is because of this faith in all things Lucasfilm that I eagerly await the premiere of Episode III : Revenge of the Sith.

I've already booked my tickets.

Have you?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

He stood firm...

In the Throes of Disaster

I came across this write-up recently, and I found it to be particularly true in its assesment of the IMF during the Asian Financial Crises of 1997.

When the crisis (Asian Financial Crisis 1997) began, those in the West did not realize its severity. Asked about aid for Thailand (when its currency, the baht collapsed by 25 per cent on July 2, 1997), President Bill Clinton dismissed the collapse of the baht as "a few glitches in the road" to economic prosperity. The confident and imperturbability of Clinton was shared by the financial leaders of the world, as they met in September 1997 in Hong Kong for the annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank.

IMF Officials there were so sure of their advice that they even asked for a change in its charter to allow it to put more pressure on developing countries to liberalize their capital markets. Meanwhile, the leaders of the Asian countries, and especially its finance ministers were terrified. They viewed the hot money that came with liberalized capital markets as the source of their problems. They knew that major trouble was ahead: a crisis would wreak havoc on their economies and their societies, and they feared that IMF policies would prevent them from taking the actions that they thought might stave of the crisis, at the same that the policies they (the IMF) would insist upon should a crisis occur would worsen the impacts on their economy.

They felt however, powerless to resist.

In the end, only Malaysia was brave enough to risk the wrath of the IMF, and though Prime Minister Mahathir's policies - trying to keep interest rates low, trying to put the brakes on the rapid flow of speculative money out of the country - were attacked from all quarters, Malaysia's downturn was shorter and shallower than that of any of the other countries.

Read the last few sentences again and ask yourself this, are there any other leaders who would have the guts to do the same?

True, he isnt perfect and there have been accusations of cronyism (the names Syed Al-Bukhary and Vincent Tan come to mind), but one cant discount the good he has brought to the country...

And to us.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Stock Market Blues

Down down down down!

This week, big share price indices such as the Nikkei 225, S&P 500, FTSE 100 and DAX have been pushed down to five month lows amidst global concerns with regards to the lack of investor confidence, price of oil, China's planned slowdown and political unstability in Iraq, North Korea and the Taiwan Straits.

Not only has this been a damper on major markets such as Japan and Europe, but it has also affected us here in Malaysia.

Malaysian concern

I still remember it clearly....

It was during the final quarter of 2004. Our Malaysia's stock market had been struggling throughout the year, but everyone had hopes that it would hit 950 by the end of the year.

When the KLCI breached 900, everyone heaved a collective sigh of relief, positive that the bear market had been successfully trounced.

Boy, were we wrong.

Look at where we are now, with the KLCI hovering at around 870 and our inflow of FDI dropping, one cant help but be worried about Malaysia's future in the global economy.

I think we as Malaysians have been too complacent during the past decade, when we enjoyed many years of bullish growth. Times have changed, and in order to survive and thrive, we have to change along with it.

Success will come, but not without a price. However, I do believe that Malaysia has what it takes to emerge from this decade as a stronger and more competitive nation.

After all, Malaysia Boleh!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Globalization and a Four Day Weekend

Back to Reality

Yes, its Monday morning and the traffic is at a standstill, the air is filled with dust and soot, the sidewalks packed with people from all walks of life as they scurry to work....

and I'm back in the office.

Temporial Bliss

It seemed just yesterday when my boss whispered to me those three magic words,

"Four Day Weekend"

Oh how my heart leapt for joy! Tears streamed down my face as I fell on my knees and openly wept!

Yes, I was that happy.

Alas, the four days are over, but it was a weekend well spent (almost!).

It began on a Thursday morning.


It seems strange, surreal even, having to wake up at 8 in the morning on a holiday but that was exactly what I did last Thursday. Looking groggily at my handphone-cum-alarm-clock, I dragged my sorry corpse out of bed and proceeded to get ready for a morning of fun and games, courtesy of a sports day organized by my church.

When I got there (there being the park next to Amcorp), the sun was blazing hot but it didnt stop everyone from having a great time.

As we stood there under the burning sun watching our friends - young and old - trying desperately to coax their out-of-shape, pampered bodies to perform all sorts of athletic feats, one cant help but wonder....

"Man, it sure is hot out here under the sun!"

Ahhh, one day down. Three more days of idyllic bliss to go.


"In the end, it doesnt even matterrrRrRRrRRRr!!!!"

Those were the words which rang in my ears after spending the afternoon at Redbox.

Say, I think I'm getting pretty good at all this screaming stuff (oer!). All I need is a little more practice.

Ok, maybe a LOT more practice.

Okay okay! I promise I'll never attempt to 'karaoke' that song ever again!


Another morning of music practice for the Saturday service, and another night of taking in some groovy live jazz at one of KL's night spots.


Is it sunday already?!? But I was just getting warmed up! Nooooo!!!

Monday and Stigiltz....

Its 7:30 am and I'm at my usual breakfast mamak in KL, engrossed in a copy of 'Globalization and its Discontent' by Joseph Stigiltz.

The author used to be the Chief Economist of the World Bank, Economic Advisor to the Clinton Administration and the winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics 2001. Needless to say, this guy really knows his stuff and his views on the world economy, globalization, monetary policies and the IMF are very, very interesting (albeit a bit anti-American).

Here are a few good excerpts which I've come across thus far...

"The critics of globalization accuse Western countries of hypocrisy, and the critics are right. The Western countries have pushed poor countries to eliminate trade barriers, but kept up their own barriers, preventing developing countries from exporting their agricultural products and so depriving them of desperately needed export income"

"Inflation is not so much as an end in itself, but a means to an end: it is because excessively high inflation often leads to low growth, and low growth leads to high unemployment, that inflation is so frowned upon. But the IMF often seems to confuse means with ends, thereby losing sight of what is ultimately of concern"
After reading a few chapters of this book, I cant help but have an even greater respect for Tun Mahathir for refusing to turn to the IMF for help during the Asian financial crisis in 1997, in spite of the mounting pressure for him to do just that.

Looking at the other countries who have obtained 'help' from IMF, I think we as Malaysians have a lot to be thankful for.

Props to you Tun M.

And one more thing Tun M, if by some chance you happen to be reading this, I think Malaysia could do with a few more holidays scattered throughout the year, dont you agree?

I knew you would.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Living in a Cardboard Box

I have a dream....

A dream whereby my future home would be larger than 1 Utama, new and old wings combined!...

My driveway would be able to accomodate a gazillion cars parked head-to-tail...

Gushing rivers and streams would flow through my lavish gardens, bringing with them all manner of tilapia* and ikan longkang**...

Ahhh, these are the stuff which dreams are made of.

With these thoughts in my head, I set out to PWTC last Sunday to catch the final day of the Malaysian Property Exhibition 2005 with a few of my buddies.

*Tilapia is a kind of fish. Best served fried.
** Ikan Longkang is a kind of fish. Best not served at all.

The Harsh Realities

The exhibition hall was packed with all sorts of booths. Big and small, lavish and bare, impressive and downright crappy.

As we walked around, a few properties caught my eye. Hmmm.... 1,000+ sq ft condominium in the heart of KL, with opulent facilities and a mouth-watering view of the KL Twin Towers. Yes!!

I can just about picture myself in such luxurious surroundings! Sipping martinis as I lounged by a rooftop swimming pool, with the stars twinkling above me and the Petronas Towers fully lit up in the distance.

Excitedly, I checked the price of that particular unit.

Wahlaueh! The starting price is a gob-smacking RM650,000!! My earlier daydream vanished faster than you can say 'She sells sea shells by the sea shore'.

Slightly disappointed, we pressed on. After awhile, we stopped by a booth which had attractive miniatures of several terrace houses in Pantai Hillpark on display.

We began crowding around the display like a bunch of ulu people, oggling at the beautiful architecture, spacious interior and intricate detailings of the house. Sensing our excitement, a salesperson approached us and cheerfully told us that the house could be ours for a starting price of only RM750,000 .

Say that again??

I graciously thanked the salesperson and calmly walked away, saying that we'll "Think about it".

Yea, right.

Who am I kidding? The salesperson knew as well as I did that when a person says that he or she will "think about it", it basically means....

"So long, farewell! Wish I could afford it, but I cant! *sob sob*"

After an hour of browsing around, I came to this conclusion.

Property ain't cheap!

Diamond in the Rough

However, if you looked around thoroughly enough, you will undoubtedly uncover a few gems. For example, the RM240,000+, 1,100 sq ft condominium which is situated in Kelana..

Or the RM340,000, double-storey terrace house in Puchong.

Now that's more to my budg....ermm... I mean taste. Who needs all those fancy-shcmancy, luxury condos anyway right? Right??

Decisions decisions

After walking around the exhibition for an hour or so, I had collected a shite-load of brochures.

I haven't made any purchasing decisions just yet, but I felt that my information gathering mission was a success. Now it's time to go home and sift through all these brochures to see if there's anything I can afford (and which is not located in Sepang, Ulu Klang or some other far off locale).

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Me, Myself and Jesus

To all my faithful readers (yup, all three of you, including you mom), this post will differ slightly from my previous postings in that it will be centered around the things I did the last weekend (I ran out of ideas of things to write you see...hyuk hyuk).

How is that different from my other posts? Well, I usually try to talk less about myself and more about the issues and events which everyone can relate to. But being the 'adventurous & creative' person (urrggghhh) that I am, I thought I'd turn this post into a sort-of online journal. Yeah, that sounds interesting...hmmmm.

Anyway, let us begin.

And Friday It Was

Last friday was like any other friday before it. I went to the office, did some work (the key word being 'some'...ho ho ho), waited for the time to slowly tick by, yadda yadda yadda. The usual mundane drudgery :)

After work, I joined some friends for a cell group outing at Paris Restaurant in ss2. As usual, the food was excellent, the service was freakishly efficient and the prices were low, low, LOW! Hurrah for cheap food! Having said that, I didnt eat as much as I normally would though. Whereas I would normally devour around three bowls of rice, that night I restricted myself to only ONE! Major achievement, *clap clap*!

Having stuffed our faces with an assortment of beef, vegetables, tau foo and squid, my cell group then headed on down to HoneyBee for some dessert. I didnt order anything though as I'm not a huge fan of dessert.

Yup, you heard that right. I DONT particularly like ice-cream!

You are permitted to scream in disbelief.

Music is Food for the Soul

Later that night, a few of us headed down to Alexis, KL, to catch some live music . It was pretty good! They had an acoustic performance the night consisting of 3 guitarists and a pianist. Pretty tight overall, plus the female lead had an amazing voice!

We stayed there till around 1:30 am, when I had to adjourn to meet up with some colleagues in Zouk. Yup, Zouk, you remember that place right? Well, let me tell you this, Zouk is DEAD!


Being a friday night and all, you would expect the place to be packed to the brim with our local party animals, clubbers and socialites right? Heck no! Why, I could count the number of people there on one bemittened hand! Alright, I'm exaggerating a tad bit here, but you get my drift.

Me and my colleagues lounged around for an hour or so in that barren excuse for a club before finally deciding to head on to barfly. Barfly was much better mind you. Decent music, a thronging crowd and good company. Ahhh, what more could a stressed out working-peon ask for on a friday night? :)

I Spy With My Little Eye

I woke up early on saturday morning because I had made plans to see an eye specialist at SJMC to get my eyes checked up. I've been having some problems with my vision lately you see. My eyes get tired frequently and sometimes, it takes me awhile to focus on things. Quite unnerving really, especially considering I've had perfect eye sight all my life!

Anyway, I went to the hospital, saw the doctor and had multiple tests performed on my poor retinas only to have the doctor tell me that my eyes are in perfect working condition, and that the reason I exhibit such symptoms is because of my lack of sleep. Wow, I paid RM116 for the doctor to tell me something my mom has been telling me all this while? Ah well, dont get me wrong. I'm very happy that the doctor found nothing wrong with my eyes, and I really, really thank God for that. It's just that I wished I listened to my mom (I could have saved RM116 that way ya' know).

Having been saved from a lifetime of spectacle-wearing-misery, I was in the mood to celebrate. And celebrate I did, by way of screaming and shouting along with the latest tunes, together with a group of my friends. Picture this, a bunch of people in a room, music blasting at more than a hundred decibels with loud screeching voices echoing all around. Sounds like fun? That's karaoke-ing for you...and trust me when I say, its a great way to bond with your friends.

The sign of a good friend? Someone who chooses to remain your friend even after you've abused their ear-drums with your horrendous rendition of Aerosmith's 'I Dont Wanna Miss A Thing'. Friendship is sweet *sniff sniff*.

Sunday was pretty normal. I went to church (always a great experience!), had lunch with my friends and spent the rest of the afternoon watching The Sopranos with my girlfriend. At night, I attended my cousin's first birthday. Yup, she's only one year old.

Nothing makes you feel older than seeing a birthday cake with a grand total of ONE candle on it. Sighhhh.

All Good Things Must Come To An End, Maybe...

Sunday drew to a close, and as I rested my head on my pillow and closed my eyes, I could only reflect back on my life and be thankful for all God has blessed me with, and for all He truly is.

Without Jesus, my memories and expriences are but a hazy, meaningless recollection of things gone by.

As I drifted off, these two words brought comfort to my heart and a smile to my lips....

"Jesus Saves".

After all, isnt that what life is all about?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Sorry state of Malaysia's Police

I think I speak for most Malaysians when I say that our local police force leaves a lot to be desired.

A heck of a lot.

Why, just thinking about their inefficiencies, corruption and outright lack of any moral values whatsoever is enough to make my blood boil. Dont get me wrong however, I am a not a person who has constant run-ins with our police (except for the odd speeding ticket or two). My encounters with the police have been at a bare minimum to say the least, but even those fleeting encounters are enough to convince me that our local police are nothing more than a bunch of pot-bellied, moustached, corrupt, power abusing and perverted morons!!

Here's a recent article in The Star which reminded me of an experience I had with the police a few years back.

Sad isnt it, but then again, it isnt the first time our police have been accused of acting more like thugs than law enforcing agents. Which reminds me of my experience.

It was a normal night just like any other. I was in a cyber cafe in ss15 together with a few friends of mine. Together, we were enjoying a few casual rounds of online gaming when suddenly, the front doors burst open and about a dozen Malay men stormed into the premise. These men werent in any uniforms, they didnt identify who they were, neither did they have the brains to show any identification whatsoever.

All they did was shout in loud abusive voices (in Bahasa Melayu of course, these idiots couldnt speak English even if their kampung's goats lives depended on it)

"Hoi, semua orang ni tunjuk IC!!"

Everyone looked around in confusion. We had no idea who in the world these ugly, fat men were supposed to be. For all we know, they could be some samsengs bent on robbing the cafe (they certainly looked and acted the part). Patrons who asked for some form of identification were scolded with a...

"Jangan tanya banyak-banyak, ah-eleh"

Disgusting isnt it.

What basically followed was, these police men (urk) rounded everyone up into one of their waiting trucks. Yup, they rounded everyone including the person working at the cyber cafe. Which means the cyber cafe was left unattended. Which means anyone could have just walked in and carted of all the pcs, furniture and money. WHICH MEANS these police are seriously lacking in something, something which us educated, civilized folks know as COMMON SENSE!

Ok, so where was I? Waiting trucks, alright.

So everyone obediently got into the trucks with no idea what the whole thing was about. In fact, the word 'kidnap' did cross my mind. Hilarious isnt it, imagine the headlines in the newspapers if that were to happen.

"The Star - 50 youth walked willingly into a kidnapper's truck in broad daylight" (or in this case, moonlight)


To cut the story short, we were all trucked off to a nearby police station where we were made to squat for hours in the police parking lot while they tested each and every one of us for drugs. Some of the 'victims' pleaded to be allowed to call their parents for they didnt want their parents to worry about their whereabouts. But Nooooo, the police didnt allow any such thing. All they did was to rudely scold us for 'staying out so late', for 'being disobedient' etc etc.

I mean, crap, who do you think you are? Our parents??

Most of us were in our 20's with proper jobs and educational backgrounds, and who contribute significantly to our country's progress. Which is more than I can say for those policemen.

Well, after squatting for hours like dungguls, we were finally brought back to ss15. Needless to say, most of us were pissed. We were disgusted at being treated like criminals. Disgusted at the way the police conducted themselves.

I seriously believe abusive behavior and plain rudeness has no place in a civilized society such as ours. If the police had the cow sense to identify who they were, and explain to us the nature of their operation, I am sure most of us would be willing to give our fullest cooperation.

I guess Civility is in short supply amongst the civil servants. The irony.

Anyway, that's just one of the memorable experiences I've had the honour of going through. Shown below are a few more cases which highlight just how sad, sad, SAD our police force is.
  • A few robbers stormed into my friend's house a few years back. She barricaded herself in her room and called the police, only to have the police hang up on her as she was explaining the situation! She tried calling back again, THREE TIMES but surprise surprise, there was no answer.
  • Another friend of mine went to a police station to make a report about a molestation attempt on her. In the station, she was greeted with the sight of a policeman surfing pornography on his clunky computer. The said policeman then proceeded to make crude, sexual remarks about her as she was explaining her situation.
  • My uncle once got framed for kidnapping (he was found to be innocent), and the first thing the police asked for guessed it, a bribe! Frankly, they couldnt care less whether you were guilty or not, heck, they'd even let a murdered go free so long as they get a few measly ringgit.
  • A friend of mine recently got into a car accident whereby a motorcyclist was killed, through not fault of my friend. The police brought him to the police station, where they proceeded to try to intimidate and scare my friend by saying that such-and-such a case will usually result in a longgg jail term, that my friend will definitely be convicted etc etc. The reason for their doing so? Yup, you guessed it....they wanted my friend to bribe them to drop the case.

After reading through my rantings and ravings about our local police, you must be left wondering, am I just plain biased? Do I have nothing positive at all to say about our police?

Ahh, my intrepid reader, there is still a glimmer of hope. The recent actions of two policemen in PJ, Old Town have gone a long way towards redeeming the police force as a whole, and towards softening my impression of them somewhat.

What happened was this, it was during a friends recent birthday party when me and 2 others decided to go to my parked car to listen to a CD I was talking about. So there we were, sitting in my car listening to the CD when two policemen approached us on a motorcycle. They wanted to know what we were doing sitting in a parked car, with the steering lock still on, along a dark street in the middle of the night. They were quite catious initially, asking us for identification and other miscellaneous information but when they decided that we posed no threat, they just waved us off and tolds us that they were just checking on us because they thought we were acting 'suspiciously'.

Policemen actually doing their work?? No mention of any bribes whatsoever?? Morally responsible policemen?? Yes, shocking I know, but those two admirable policemen have just shown me otherwise.

May more of our policemen take after their footsteps, so that perhaps we, one day, will be able to look at our men in blue and not feel the urge to discharge the contents of our breakfast.


Monday, April 04, 2005

Golden Sands

I just returned from a weekend church retreat at Golden Sands, Port Dickson. Yup, the port where not only the sands sport a tinge of gold, but the water as well. You can thank the mud for that.

Polluted water aside, the retreat was truly a memorable one. I was rejuvenated not only physically, but more importantly, spiritually as well. Having gone through several continuous months of daily grind, this retreat brought about a much needed breath of fresh air into my life.

Sometimes, when you're so caught up in the things of the world - the never ending pursuit of success, of personal glory, riches and fortune - you end up losing sight of what's really important in life. God took the time to remind me of his love and of who and what I am. For that, I'm grateful.

I used to think of myself as a person with lots of dreams and ambitions. Ever since I was young, I would entertain huge dreams about the things I want to achieve when I grew up. I would constantly day dream about the life I would lead, the accomplishments I would rake in; and on a more materialistic note, the cars I would own *snigger*

I know now that those dreams and ambitions which I previously held so dear are insignificant compared to what God has in store for me. It is also because of this realisation that the drive and passion within me burns brighter than ever. I am emboldened by the knowledge that God is on my side. And if God is for me, who can be against me?

Lord, I avail myself - my gifts, talents, inner drive, resources and all that I am and have.

On a less serious note, the retreat also taught me several very, very important things about my friends and life in general. They are, in no particular order, listed below:
  • To some of them, a bar of soap rivals snickers as a snack of choice
  • Inhaling the fumes from a BBQ pit can cause full grown men to degenerate into mid-riff baring, pondan running, gender challenged beings
  • Several of my friends are very talented musicians. They composed the very rousing, 'Symphony of Snores'. A score which is gauranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat (or in this case, your bed)..hahahah
  • Diving for Dummies part #1 - Do not attempt to perform a full-blown swan dive into a piddling 2 feet of water (especially if you weigh more than a hundred kg)
  • Diving for Dummies part #2 - Do not attempt to dive onto a submerged rock (doesnt matter how much you weigh)
  • Dog poo and bare feet do not mix
  • Some of my friends are unaturally talented at useless games such as '0078' and 'Goggles'
  • My pastor and Sabah-ans are unaturally bad at useless games such as '0078' and 'Goggles'
  • Some of my friends like drinking water, LOTS of it, from little white styrofoam cups

Ahhh, I cant wait for the next retreat!