How should we judge a government?

"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X

In Malaysia, if you don't watch television or read newspapers, you are uninformed; but if you do, you are misinformed!

"Our government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other. " - Ronald Reagan
Was he referring to Malaysia? Seems so apt...

Government fed by the people

Government fed by the people

Career options

Career options

Prevent bullying now!

Prevent bullying now!
If you're not going to speak up, how is the world supposed to know you exist?

MyCen News

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Piggery tale of the unexpected

A farmer had five female pigs. Times were hard, so he decided to take them to the county fair and sell them. At the fair, he met another farmer who owned five male pigs.

After talking a bit, they decided to mate the pigs and split everything 50/50. The farmers lived sixty miles apart. So they agreed to drive thirty miles each, and find a field in which to let the pigs mate.

The first morning, the farmer with the female pigs got up at 5 a.m., loaded the pigs into the family station wagon, which was the only vehicle he had, and drove the thirty miles.

While the pigs were mating, he asked the other farmer, "How will I know if they are pregnant?" The other farmer replied, "If they're in the grass in the morning, they're pregnant, if they're in the mud, they're not."

The next morning the pigs were rolling in the mud. So the farmer hosed off the pigs, loaded them into the family station wagon again and proceeded to try again.

This continued each morning for more than a week.

One morning the farmer was so tired, he couldn't get out of bed. He called to his wife, "Honey, please look outside and tell me whether the pigs are in the mud or in the grass."

"Neither," yelled his wife, "they're in the station wagon and one of them is honking the horn."

Seeking wrong professional advice

The doctor said, "Bill, the good news is I can cure your headaches. The bad news is that it will require castration. You have a very rare condition, which causes your testicles to press on your spine, and the pressure creates one hell of a headache. The only way to relieve the pressure, is to remove the testicles."

Bill was shocked and depressed. He wondered if he had anything left, to live for. He had no choice but to go under the knife. When he left the hospital, he was without a headache for the first time in 20 years, but he felt like he was missing an important part of himself.

As he walked down the street, he realized that he felt like a different person. He could make a new beginning and live a new life! He saw a men's clothing store and thought, "That's what I need... a new suit."

He entered the shop and told the salesman, "I'd like a new suit."

The elderly tailor eyed him briefly and said, "Let's see... size 44 long."

Bill laughed, "That's right, how did you know?"

"Been in the business 60 years!" the tailor said.

Bill tried on the suit, it fit perfectly.

As Bill admired himself in the mirror, the salesman asked, "How about a new shirt?"

Bill thought for a moment and then said, "Sure."

The salesman eyed Bill and said, "Let's see, 34 sleeves and 16-1/2 neck.."

Bill was surprised, "That's right, how did you know? "

"Been in the business 60 years."

Bill tried on the shirt, and it fit perfectly. Bill walked comfortably around the shop!

Next, the salesman asked, "How about some new underwear?"

Bill thought for a moment and said, "Sure."

The salesman said, "Let's see... size 36."

Bill laughed, "Ah ha! I got you, I've worn a size 34 since I was 18 years old."

The salesman shook his head, "You can't wear a size 34. A size 34 would press your testicles up against the base of your spine, and give you one hell of a headache."

Stories from my dad and me - the land of my childhood

From hearsay and available record, the land was bought just after the World War 2, at a guess in 1945. Two of my older brothers, myself and younger sister, were born in our first house built on it.

I do not have much memories of my younger sister (last of 10) because she passed away at age of 4 because of kidney failure (no cure then) when I was 6 years old. Just remembered the 3 of us being too young to know, were huddled into a room with my eldest sister-in-law. Just before that I caught a glimpse of something covered with cloth put into the boot of a black car, which I later knew was an Austin A40 belonging to the Taoist priest who performed the last rites.

The death of my baby sister had a profound effect on my parents, especially my dad. I was treated as the last in the family, with all the dotings by the rest. I did not realize how important I was to my dad until one day, because of my prolonged sulking, he told me that he would give up everything if I continued to sulk! “What is the point of working if you are going to be unhappy?”

Our three names (translated into Peace, Harmony and Smooth, the last as in events happening as wished), were influenced by the end of the world war. Somehow, we were treated differently from my older brothers and sisters, as though we belong to different families. For example, for a number of years, we had our pictures taken together, when my dad had his portrait taken annually on January 1st.

I have fond memories of my growing up years, living among scattered huge old rubber trees and a variety of fruit trees – durian, sour sop, rambai, mango, mangosteen, rambutan and even pulasan. They were sacrificed progressively over many years to make way for workshops.

In the ‘50s, my dad put up a row of workshops which he rented out. I could still remember one nearest our house was retained as our office cum store. We did not have a phone in the house and sometimes, we had to open a locked sliding door just to answer a call after office hours. 5 other rows of temporary workshops were added later over a number of years.

All the time, my dad had in mind, an integrated workshop, preferably with his good tenant cum friends living in one compound. He decided to put up 3 detached houses (half brick half wood) with 3 old friends in mind: an electrician, an upholsterer and a mechanic.

However, the electrician did not want to leave his mahjong ‘kakis’ while the other two felt the place too far (imagine 3 miles from town center considered so!)

One was occupied by a panel-beater cum spray painter whose 3 out of his 4 sons happened to be of same ages as the 3 of us. Naturally, we were playmates from young. The youngest of the 4 (same age as me), unfortunately, drowned clung together with a classmate in a mining pond near their school in Segambut. He was only 12. The eldest also died young, in his twenties.

Only recently, I managed to contact the only surviving son who is doing very well, judging from the address he is in: The Mines Resort. I happened to come across a name which was the same as his, in a write-up on houses comparing TMR with places like Tropicana. I remembered the name of the company he worked for 25 years ago. Somehow, just by typing the name and companies associated with it, I managed to find his, listed in one of the business directories. I wrote to his email address and got a positive reply few days later. The wonder of internet. Apparently, his daughter looks after the emailing and with the phone numbers given, I managed to re-establish contact and had about 15 minutes chat.

The chat inevitably involved who died and who are still around. His mother is around, aged 86. The score: both my parents died compared with his surviving mother. 5 out of our 10 siblings are still around compared with his 1 out of 4. His other brother died 2 years ago. Our surviving 5 include 4 (out of 6 sons) and only 1 (out of 4 daughters).

Ha Tham, a tractor repairer, was a really patient man. In spite of being told several times that my dad did not want the laterite road damaged by heavy tractors, he kept pestering him until one day my dad agreed, mainly because 2 of his good friends did not take up his offer. He promised he would place planks before the chain-linked tractors move over and he must have told Eric Chia about it! He occupied one of the 3 detached houses as well as a row of workshops.

The last of the 3 houses was occupied at different times by people not involved in repair business, including Low Woon (UMW) and my third sister and family for a number of years.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Stories from my dad - KTM

My dad was born in 1909, in an area known as ‘sar soo koo’ to the local Hokiens. Literally it means ‘tiga suku’ or three quarters in English. No, it was not meant to be derogatory like ‘half past six’ but it was shortened from ‘sar ki sar soo koo’ which referred to 3 ¾ milestone, Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur!

In terms of locality, it was near to one of the oldest golf courses in Malaysia - Sentul Golf Course, which was unceremoniously closed when Taiping Consolidated Bhd got the deal to develop Sentul Raya. It got into financial difficulties and the project was taken over by YTL Land Bhd. YTL tried to develop the golf course into more condominiums but was not approved by City Hall. Hence, the much touted park similar to St. James’s Park of London.

When I became a member of Kinta Golf Club, Batu Gajah, I made use of its reciprocal arrangement with Sentul GC by having lunches there and making use of its swimming pool. It was within walking distance from my mother’s house, which at one time was used as our housing development office, and adjacent to my brother’s!

My dad, through an introducer, managed to work as a caddie at Sentul GC, which in the ‘20s, was used mainly by British and local engineers and management staff of KTM workshop. His admiration and respect for the British were so ingrained that when he and mum visited me in UK in the ‘70s, he just could not get used to seeing British rubbish collectors! The trip was made possible when a former KTM worker, who used to work for my dad and whose son was a MAS pilot, offered to accompany them all the way and back.

As a caddie, my dad made friends with some engineers and he managed to get a job as an apprentice in the workshop. His job took him to various parts of Malaya and one of his mentors was a Mr. Wong, grandfather of Dato Wong Seng Chow, a former Deputy Transport Minister. Dato Wong’s father, Wong Swee Chew, used to visit our workshop either out of necessity or for a chat. His second wife even drove their station wagon to help transport a roast pig during one of my sisters’ wedding in 1959. I still remember that later in the ‘60s, in need of a car, we lent her an old Riley (similar to those longish cars used by Germans during the war) and she enjoyed it so much that she kept it for a while! I used to be embarrassed when my brother used it to take us to school. Now, I regretted that we have not kept it!

My dad’s experience in KTM and later at Yuen Company car workshop in Batu Road (now Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman) gave him confidence to start on his own at the age of 20 in 1929! The early start meant few competition and he made enough to be able to buy a piece of land just after the Second World War.

It is uncanny how we had this affinity to KTM, not that I travel by train often, but that after I moved to Batu Gajah, it was announced that the KTM workshop will be moved there!

Before I post this, an ex-classmate since Primary 1, who is now an Australian citizen, happens to read my blog too. Anyway,his father used to be an engineer with KTM. Recently, he had been looking up old friends in Sentul and visited his former KTM house which had been demolished, leaving behind an unkempt compound overgrown with lallang and other plants. In fact, majority of those studying in my former school were from KTM families.

While on this topic of KTM, it is generally agreed among residents of Batu Gajah that the new train station site is at a most ridiculously inconvenient place. Instead of expanding the old station, which was next to the main road and within walking distance of the town centre, the present site is well hidden and off the main road. It will be avoided by most people if the scheduled arrival times are during the night or early morning. Sometimes, I used to wonder what the planners were thinking.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Stories from my dad - Japanese occupation

My dad used to tell me about his experiences during the Japanese occupation.

Being a mechanic, he was enlisted to work for them. He was given an armband as some sort of identification. It had its pros and cons working for them. There was no shortage of food and other items taken from the people. But being honest and timid, he dared not and did not take any which were offered to him, unlike his nephew.

One day, he realized that his nephew smoked a branded cigarette and seemed to be able to afford things that he could not. Later, he found out that he had secretly stolen petrol from his vehicle.

My dad bored a grudge against the Japanese because he was hit on the head by one of the soldiers by mistake. It happened because he had absent-mindedly threw some old bullets which were meant to be thrown away, into a fire! The loud explosions alarmed the soldiers and some even came out of the bathrooms naked!

Because of the lump on his head, which was not fully cured, he had occasional headache even after more than 20 years. During a period of years, he actually boycotted all things Japanese! He could never have foreseen that 55 years later, one of his granddaughters spent a year living with four foster Japanese families under the Rotary International Student Exchange programme! She attended a top Japanese school in Tokyo and was pampered by the host parents. Perhaps it was the Japanese ‘payback’ time!

My dad used to have a phobia whenever he was driving the big tow-truck. It had a metal structure, which he thought could be mistaken as anti-aircraft gun by Japanese fighter planes. He said the bombs dropped from the planes looked like bunches of “rambai”, a kind of fruit which looked like “langsat”, now seldom seen because it is unpopular.

One of the things he commented about the Japanese was that they liked their red bean soup very sweet. It seemed when the Japanese arrived, some small traders and barbers revealed their true identities and they were Japanese spies. It was a period of confusion and a person’s identity or membership of political parties like MCA, known to a perceived enemy like MCP, could even result in death.

I would like to think that because of his honesty, he was fortunate when he bought a piece of land, brokered by his father-in-law. He paid for it, half in British currency and half in Japanese currency, which was still acceptable then. As we all know, the latter currency became worthless. However, this is arguable, as I am sure some genuine notes (with proper numbers) if kept today, are collector items. Its value is anybody’s guess.

Soon after he had bought the land, he was offered a few other pieces nearby, which are presently owned by Low Yat group. He used to say that had he been more ambitious he would have been very rich indeed. He happened to be one of those who was easily contented and preferred a stress-free life. Only those who had the same philosophy will appreciate this point, as people in our present materialistic society always look up to those with power, wealth and luxury.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Effect of recent fuel price increase

I went into the gas station today and
asked for five dollars worth of gas.

The clerk farted and gave me a receipt.

Super make-over machine

An Amish boy and his father were visiting a mall. They were amazed by almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny, silver walls that could move apart and then slide back together again.

The boy asked, "What is this, Father?"

The father (never having seen an elevator) responded, "Son, I have never seen anything like this in my life, I don't know what it is."

While the boy and his father were watching with amazement, a fat old lady in a wheel chair rolled up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened and the lady rolled between them into a small room. The walls closed and the boy and his father watched the small circular numbers above the walls light up sequentially.

They continued to watch until it reached the last number and then the numbers began to light in the reverse order.

Finally the walls opened up again and a gorgeous, voluptuous 24-year-old blonde woman stepped out.

The father, not taking his eyes off the young woman, said quietly to his son,
"Go get your mother."

Friday, May 26, 2006

Even our watcher watchers could not be trusted

At a travel agency, I chanced upon a magazine, ATW (Air Transport World) dated September 2005.

The fact that it was an American based magazine, I was really surprised to come across a report under its column “odds&ends” titled “It takes a Thief…” which was about the lack of security at KLIA!

For the benefit of those who have not read it (very likely) and those who have missed our local news report at the time, and as a reminder to the relevant authorities, here goes:

“Passengers at Kuala Lumpur International carrying on bigger and bigger bags are causing a problem for the airport, which reportedly has tried twice and failed to implement stricter carry-on rules in the past five years. Why would passengers do this? Perhaps it has something to do with the 3,067 cases of baggage theft at KLIA in the past four years – more than two per day – that have been cited in reports, with 166 airline and airport personnel arrested in that period.

Given the larger number of people now monitoring and searching baggage, and the wider latitude they have to open bags for a hand search (remember the quaint notion of locked luggage?), it seems that the opportunity to alienate passengers further by stealing their stuff has increased as well. Already agitated by repeated security screenings and delays, passengers who end their journeys with less than they started with have a right to be riled.

Earlier this year, though, KLIA authorities got a break. But what was discovered drove home the need to watch the watchers, and sometimes the watcher watchers.

The break started in the baggage of a Hong Kong passenger who discovered his laptop was gone. In its place was a nice set of keys – airport keys, as it turned out – quickly traced to a senior security officer who just as quickly was arrested at his home. At the same time, two of his fellow security guards were busted in their homes, where “an array of stolen items” was recovered. All three were longtime airport security workers. The most senior, with 25 years’ experience, was a watcher watcher, a member of special task force formed to bust foreign syndicates stealing baggage at the airport.

While dropping your keys at the scene of the crime might seem a tad inept, Malaysian officials said they believe the group has been stealing for 10 years, starting back at the old airport at Subang.”

We were probably the last of the honest vehicle repairers

Asia Insurance was no stranger to me because during the ‘60s, our family vehicle repair company was the preferred workshop for any accident car insured by them. We were so trusted by their Country Manager, Mr. Goh, that minor repairs could be repaired without referring to them first.

Mr. Goh’s company car was used as bridal car for three of my brothers’ as well as my wedding. I remember a big American car like a Dodge and for my wedding, a Mercedes 280 SE (either used by him or his son, Eddie Goh, whom I hardly knew but attended the dinner).

The unusual fact was that Mr. Goh actually asked my dad to recommend an adjuster for the company! Under normal circumstances, it is like asking a supplier to choose the purchasing manager of a company. But knowing how honest we were, the person was chosen and he later even became manager.

Then, we had the other unusual practice of an insurance company manager sending hamper to our family every Chinese New Year! Under normal circumstances, it is almost like a rule that repairers will try their best to send hampers to managers, if not, to even bribe them.

We knew the Company Secretary, Mr. Khor, who knew palmistry and was always asked to read palms by guests when he was invited to our annual 9th day of Chinese New Year dinner. One of his sons, James, who was my ex-college mate, is now a successful lawyer. His firm acted for us when we had to evict the tenants, our so-called ‘old friends’, which deserves another story. Incidentally, his ex-partner, Matthias Chang, is now well known as ex-aide of Dr. Mahathir, embroiled in the shelved Scenic half bridge controversy!

The other unusual fact was that we got to know the office manager, Mr. Wong, so well that he actually sent personally a box of mandarin oranges every Chinese New Year! When my mum told him he shouldn’t, he replied in Cantonese: “Ngoh yu-ah” or “I want to”.

Incidentally, the late Mr. Wong was the first father-in-law of Lee Hsien Loong, the present Prime Minister of Singapore! When his daughter married Lee, they were still living in one of the humble Loke Yew flats in KL.

It was fated that I missed the only chance to get to know Ming Yang. One day, Mr. Wong brought his daughter and son to our workshop to visit my dad. I was having coffee break in the canteen, not knowing their arrival. By the time I came out, they were already in the Morris Minor, waving goodbye to us.

Mr. Wong gave my UK contact address to Ming Yang but she did not write which was not surprising! After all, she was then studying in Cambridge University and even went to Africa during summer and so on. I digressed… couldn’t resist this part of the story!

When the husband did not know what his wife had in mind

A couple was all dressed up and ready to go out for the evening. They turned on the nightlight and the answering machine, covered the parakeet, put the cat in the backyard, phoned the local cab company and ordered a taxi.

When the taxi arrived, they left through the front door, and their cat slipped back inside the house! They didn't want to leave the cat inside, so the wife got in the taxi while the husband went inside to put the cat out again.

Not wanting the driver to know that their home will be empty all evening, she told the driver, "my husband will be out soon; he just went upstairs to say goodbye to my mother."

When the husband entered the cab, he said, "Sorry I took so long. The stupid bitch was hiding under the bed and I had to poke her with a coat hanger to get her to come out! Then I had to wrap her in a blanket to keep her from scratching me. But it worked. I hauled her downstairs and threw her out into the back yard!"

At that point that the cab driver hit a parked car ...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Destiny's child revisited

In an earlier posting, I referred to my son as Destiny’s child without giving any details. I am trying to cut a long story short in explaining why I called my son so.

In the early ‘70s, as a bachelor I nearly drowned in Port Dickson. But I suppose my three children were destined to be born!

It was an Asia Insurance’s company trip and I had two ex-classmates working there. They invited me to join them. Asia Insurance staff were no strangers to our family and I shall write about it in another posting.

It was late afternoon or early evening when I went for a dip. I could not swim but knew how to float on water, lying on my back, with my head half-submerged. I had no idea that it was high tide and just a short distance of drifting out, I decided to stand and got the shock of my life! I just went down into deep water and panicked. I struggled to stay afloat and started waving. After two or three times bopping in and out of the water, I saw the direction of the beach and tried whatever strokes I knew to swim under water towards it. Fortunately for me, it really made a difference when I tried standing up and my head was above water level. By then, my spectacles had dropped into the sea and I walked towards the beach looking for help.

One of my ex-classmates, Peter Chan, had a set of goggles and he managed to retrieve my specs in no time. Incidentally, Peter Chan died of a heart attack about 10 years ago.

It was more than 2 years after finishing my A-levels that I got the chance to go to UK. A month or two before I left, during one of my evening outings with ex-classmates, I met another classmate, Pearl, outside the former Hilton Hotel. She and her family were leaving as we were about to go to the coffee house. During the brief chat, I told her I would be going to Leeds. She seemed surprised and exclaimed, “Leeds!” She was then studying at Nottingham University and only later I knew the reason why she exclaimed.

According to my wife, after returning to UK, Pearl visited her in Leeds before her new term started.

Anyway, just a month or two after I arrived in Leeds, I received a letter from Pearl. In that fateful letter, she mentioned that ‘in case you feel lonely or bored’ I could look up her friend. I was given her name, telephone numbers and address.

I could have been bored or lonely or simply out of curiosity, I phoned SP. She was most friendly taking my call and invited me for tea at her place. I asked my room-mate, KC and he agreed to come along. KC and I were ex-classmates in secondary school.

I could remember SP made some ‘char siew’ and cooked a few other dishes for dinner. Being away from home in a foreign land, any home cooking was appreciated.

Having established contact and probably there was some chemistry between us, I continued to look her up, without morale booster KC! KC and I are still the best of friends and we jam whenever we can when we meet up in Kuala Lumpur.

After her 6-month practical training in Leeds, SP went back to London to finish her course. She refused to admit if I was the reason she went back to Leeds to work! As the cliché goes, the rest is history.

I have always been fascinated with the course of events: my delay in going to Leeds, my arrival during SP’s 6-month in Leeds, Pearl’s letter and suggestion, my willingness to do something about it within the period (some may just forget about it or delay in contacting when it was too late), SP’s friendliness and encouragement in inviting me for tea (some may expect the boy to suggest a date instead and he could be too shy to initiate) and so on. All these events suggest our lives are pre-destined in many ways.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Sounds familiar...yes, this IS my house!

A woman was at home with her children when the telephone rang. In going to answer it, she tripped on a rug, grabbed for something to hold on to and seized the telephone table. It fell over with a crash, jarring the receiver off the hook.

As it fell, it hit the family dog, which leaped up, howling and barking. The woman's three-year-old son, startled by this noise, broke into loud screams. The woman mumbled some colourful words. She finally managed to pick up the receiver and lift it to her ear, just in time to hear her husband's voice on the other end say, "Nobody's said hello yet, but it certainly sounds as if I have the right number."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Woman's sixth sense (Blame it on dad's syndrome)

Timmy: Mommy, I have a drinking problem.

Mum: My God!! Timmy, you’re only six!! This is your fault, Bob!!

Dad: My fault?? Maybe, if you’d spend more time with him!

Mum: Our six-year-old son has a drinking problem!! He sure as hell does not need a role model like you!

Dad: I’ve done nothing but give for this family, and this is what I get? I’m leaving!

Mum: Fine! I don’t need you, and Timmy sure doesn’t need you!!
Oh Timmy, don’t cry. It’ll be okay. We’ll be alright without daddy.
Timmy, I want you to tell me about your drinking problem.

Timmy: (Sniff)

Mum: Talk to me, Timmy. Tell me about your drinking problem.

Timmy (took out his homework from bag): If Joe drinks one litre of juice and Tom drinks two, how much did they both drink?

Friday, May 19, 2006

The truth hurts

An elderly gentleman had serious hearing problems for a number of years. He went to the doctor and the doctor was able to have him fitted for a set of hearing aids that allowed the gentleman to hear 100%.

The elderly gentleman went back in a month to the doctor and the doctor said,
"Your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again."

To which the gentleman said,
"Oh, I haven't told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to the conversations. I've changed my Will three times!"

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Mutual distrust

Two law partners leave their office and go to lunch. In the middle of lunch the junior partner slaps his forehead.

"Damn," he says. "I forgot to lock the office safe before we left."

His partner replies " What are you worried about? We're both here."

Games people play

I remember when I was a kid, my dad disliked people who play mahjong. Someone told him about how a son continued to finish with the game after he was informed that his dad had died.

To add to his displeasure of the game, the father-in-law of my eldest brother (who was too fond of mahjong) once told my dad that those who cannot play mahjong are stupid!

Anyway, people who are obsessed with certain games can be insensitive…a joke from Drive magazine published by AAM:

Tommy got home from his Sunday round of golf later than normal and very tired.

“Bad day at the golf course?” his wife asked.

“Everything was going fine,” he said. “Then Jimmy had a heart attack and died on the 10th hole.”

“Oh that’s awful!”

“For the whole back nine it was hit the ball, drag Jimmy, hit the ball, drag Jimmy.”

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A Woman's Sixth Sense (aka Jumping into conclusion)

A woman wanted to reach her husband on his mobile phone but discovered that she was out of credit in her pre-paid mobile. She instructed her son to use his own phone to pass an urgent message to his daddy who was on site.

After Junior had called, he got back to mummy to inform her that there was a lady that picked up daddy's phone the three times he tried reaching dad on the mobile.

Women!!

She waited impatiently for her husband to return from work and upon seeing him in the driveway, she rushed out and gave him a tight slap, and she slapped him again, for good measure. He was stunned by her anger.

People from the neighbourhood rushed around to find out what was the cause of the commotion. The woman asked Junior to tell everybody what the lady said to him when he called.

Junior said, "We are not getting a response from the number you have dialled. Please try again later."

NEP: Put a shark in your tank

The Japanese have always loved fresh fish. But the waters close to Japan have not held many fish for decades. So to feed the Japanese population, fishing boats got bigger and went farther than ever. The farther the fishermen went, the longer it took to bring in the fish.

If the return trip took more than a few days, the fish were not fresh. The Japanese did not like the taste. To solve this problem, fishing companies installed freezers on their boats. They would catch the fish and freeze them at sea. Freezers allowed the boats to go farther and stay longer. However, the Japanese could taste the difference between fresh and frozen and they did not like frozen fish.

The frozen fish brought a lower price. So fishing companies installed fish tanks. They would catch the fish and stuff them in the tanks, fin to fin. After a little thrashing around, the fish stopped moving. They were tired and dull, but alive. Unfortunately, the Japanese could still taste the difference. Because the fish did not move for days, they lost their fresh-fish taste.

The Japanese preferred the lively taste of fresh fish, not sluggish fish. So how did Japanese fishing companies solve this problem? How do they get fresh-tasting fish to Japan?

If you were consulting the fish industry, what would you recommend?

As soon as you reach your goals, such as finding a wonderful mate, starting a successful company, paying off your debts or whatever, you might lose your passion. You don't need to work so hard, so you relax.

Like the Japanese fish problem, the best solution is simple.
"Man thrives, oddly enough, only in the presence of a challenging environment."

The Benefits of a Challenge:

The more intelligent, persistent and competent you are, the more you enjoy a good problem. If your challenges are the correct size, and if you are steadily conquering those challenges, you are happy. You think of your challenges and get energized. You are excited to try new solutions. You have fun. You are alive!

How Japanese Fish Stay Fresh:

To keep the fish tasting fresh, the Japanese fishing companies still put the fish in the tanks. But now they add a small shark to each tank. The shark eats a few fish, but most of the fish arrive in a very lively state. The fish are challenged.

Recommendations:

Instead of avoiding challenges, jump into them. Beat the heck out of them. Enjoy the game. If your challenges are too large or too numerous, do not give up. Failing makes you tired. Instead, reorganize. Find more determination, more knowledge, more help.

If you have met your goals, set some bigger goals. Once you meet your personal or family needs, move onto goals for your group, the society, even mankind. Don't create success and lie in it.

You have resources, skills and abilities to make a difference.

Put a shark in your tank and see how far you can really go!

(Put a loan shark and see how fast you can run and hide!)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Pearl of wisdom

There once was an oyster
Whose story I tell,
Who found that some sand
Had got into his shell.

It was only a grain,
but it gave him great pain.
For oysters have feelings
Although they're so plain.

Now, did he berate
the harsh workings of fate
That had brought him
To such a deplorable state?

Did he curse at the government,
Cry for election,
And claim that the sea should
Have given him protection?

'No,' he said to himself
As he lay on a shell,
Since I cannot remove it,
I shall try to improve it.

Now the years have rolled around,
As the years always do,
And he came to his ultimate
Destiny stew.

And the small grain of sand
That had bothered him so
Was a beautiful pearl
All richly aglow.

Now the tale has a moral,
for isn't it grand
What an oyster can do
With a morsel of sand?

What couldn't we do
If we'd only begin
With some of the things
That get under our skin.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Certificate of Entitlement to a Right of Abode in UK

My son’s Malaysian passport was stamped with such a certificate which entitles him to enter and leave UK without visa, and to work without having to apply for work permit.

Yet, having heard stories of Malaysians being harassed upon arrival and even deported immediately, he could not sleep for the few nights prior to his scheduled flight on May 12. It was for him, at this stage, a journey to the unknown as his last trip was in 1984 when he was 6 years old. At this stage, a reader might get the impression that I am describing the trip taken by a teenager! A journey to the unknown because he left a job in Malaysia and went into UK without first securing a job. This is also unlike students going for the first time but knowing full well they have been accepted for a course of study and it is only a matter of getting used to the new environment.

As parents, we cannot escape sharing the same anxieties. My question whether he had checked the health requirements further add to his discomfort, not to mention my reminder that he should be prepared to take out some stuff because of overweight luggage.

We went to the airport earlier than necessary, hoping that the check-in person would be more lenient. Anyway, his luggage weighed more than 28kg and after taking out some stuff, weighed 26.5kg which was allowed.

While checking in, the person in charge was worried over his one-way ticket. My son had to explain that he has ‘right of abode’ by showing her his passport and she had to consult her senior who was equally surprised because they had never seen anything like it. Anyway, he cheekily said, 'I'm going back to UK' which explained the one-way ticket.

Naturally, the next 12 hours for us were filled with anxiety and worry, especially in case he had problem with the immigration. That night, my wife and I were watching American Idols on 8 TV to pass time. After that, we switched to Astro to watch CNN news.

By 1.45am, I contacted my elder daughter and I was told that she was already at the airport, that the plane touched down (one worry off) but Alex and wife were stuck in M25. Half an hour later, I was glad to receive a call from her that he had come out of immigration and customs clearance.

Apparently, my son was delayed because he was in the wrong lane! His ‘right of abode’ meant he should have queued at the EU lane, which means hassle-free entry! What a pleasant surprise!

Now that he is in UK, our order to him ‘Go find a job!’

My impression of Eric Chia

As a kid, living in the midst of motor repair workshops, I used to see this tall and big gentleman (to me then) laying planks in front of a tractor on its way to the workshop situated right at the back of our land.

From a lowloader parked beside the main Jalan Ipoh, the tractor is driven off it. To avoid damaging our temporary road, Eric Chia was good enough to personally lay the planks! It had to pass our house and he would wave to my dad out of courtesy.

While I was still in UK, it seems there was a write-up on him in Malaysian Business in which he referred to Ha Tham Engineering (one of our tenants) as the place where he learned tractor service and repairs before he brought in Komatsu tractors in a big way under United Motor Works Bhd.

The spill-over benefits were the repairs of his company cars by our other tenants. Even in the ‘60s, I have seen Aston Martin (due to his company’s dealership of David Brown’s tractors), Cadillac and some Mercedes.

From my personal point of view, Eric Chia was born with a silver spoon, though he did managed to take his companies to a higher level compared with his father’s low profile businesses in Singapore. The reason I commented this was the usual ‘rags to riches’ storyline of successful businessmen. I remember having read that he came over to Malaysia with a few dollars in his pocket! Having said that, he was already very successful before he was invited by Dr. Mahathir to take charge of Perwaja. Many people assumed that he got rich because of Perwaja.

According to his then old manager, Low Woon, he is known for his hot temper. He mentioned this with tears, obviously having tasted his ranting and tirade. But his soft side included looking after LW by appointing him a director upon listing of UMW on the KLSE, providing a Mercedes and a driver.

Being a true gentleman, LW felt bad when I suggested that he sells his shares to invest in property, simply because the shares were given to him! His shares were worth some Rm240,000 in the ‘60s and equivalent to 3 3-storey shops along 3rd mile, Jalan Ipoh. Anyway, he opted for pension upon his retirement and his decision proved right because he lived up to a ripe old age of 95 when he passed on in 2004!

Low Woon was of same age as my dad but he outlived him by 22 years. After his retirement, he used to join my dad and me for lunch almost daily. Being English educated and with a good sense of humour, he could get along with me like father and son, in a different way from my relationship with my own dad who could read only a bit of Chinese.

He once helped my eldest brother to get a discharge from the army in the ‘50s. It involved a trip to Singapore and using his connections with United Motors in Singapore, for which my dad had been eternally grateful. Yet, with the benefit of hindsight, most of us in the family thought that my brother would have been better off if he had stuck with his army career, particularly in terms of discipline!

Coming back to Tan Sri, if only I could be a character witness… best of luck in your long awaited trial.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Loo kong ha mee? Hidden talent...

Excellent poems by anonymous poets... found on toilet doors and walls...

A budding poet trying his best:

Here I lie in stinky vapour,
Because some bastard stole the toilet paper;
Shall I lie, or shall I linger,
Or shall I be forced to use my finger.

Before he graduated to be a poet, he wrote this:

Here I sit
Broken hearted
Tried to shit
But only farted

Someone who had a different experience wrote:

You're lucky
You had your chance
I tried to fart,
And shit my pants!

Perhaps it's true that people find inspiration in toilets...

I came here
To shit and stink,
But all I do
Is sit and think.

There are also people who come in for a different purpose...

Some come here to sit and think,
Some come here to shit and stink,
But I come here to scratch my balls,
And read the bullshit on the walls.

Toilet walls also double as job advertisement space...

(written high up on the wall):

If you can piss above this line,
the Singapore Fire Department wants you.

Ministry of Environment advertisement:

We aim to please!
You aim too! Please.

On the inside of a female toilet door:

Patrons are requested to remain seated throughout the entire performance.

And finally, this should teach some a lesson...

Sign seen at a restaurant:

The hands that clean these toilets also make your food...please aim properly.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

British defeat in their own language

Britain invented many games like cricket, football and badminton, but eventually the British lost their competitiveness.

Their latest defeat was in their own language.

Britons cannot use it economically when communicating their intentions. Compare these phrases that Malaysians and Britons use to say the same thing:

WHEN TELLING A CUSTOMER WHAT HE IS LOOKING FOR NOT AVAILABLE
Briton: I'm sorry, Sir, but we don't seem to have the sweater you want in your size, but if you give me a moment, I will call the other outlets for you.
Malaysian: No Stock.

RETURNING A CALL
Briton: Hello, this is John Smith. Did anyone page for me a few moments ago?
Malaysian: Hallo, Wong-ah, got call ah?

ASKING SOMEONE TO MAKE WAY.
Briton: Excuse me please, I'd like to pass through. Would you please make way?
Malaysian: S-kew me!

WHEN SOMEONE OFFERS TO PAY
Briton: Hey, put your wallet away, this drink is on me.
Malaysian: No-need lah. I pay.

WHEN ASKING FOR PERMISSION
Briton: Excuse me please, but do you think it would be possible for me to enter through this door?
Malaysian: (pointing the door) can ah?

WHEN ENTERTAINING
Briton: Please make yourself comfortable, and feel at home.
Malaysian: Don't be shy, lah!

WHEN DENYING
Briton: Sorry, I don't recall you giving me the money.
Malaysian: Where got?

WHEN DECLINING AN OFFER
Briton: I'd prefer not to do that, if you don't mind.
Malaysian: Doe-waanah!

IN DISAGREEING ON A TOPIC OF DISCUSSION
Briton: Err. Tom, I have to stop you there. I understand where you're from, but I really have to disagree with what you have said about the issue.
Malaysian: No! No! No! Not laidat wan!

WHEN ASKING SOMEONE TO LOWER HIS VOICE.
Briton: Excuse me, but could you please lower your voice, I'm trying to concentrate over here.
Malaysian: Oi! Shaddap lah!

WHEN ASKING SOMEONE IF HE KNOWS YOU.
Briton: Excuse me, but I noticed you staring at me for some time. Do I know you?
Malaysian: See what? see what huh?

WHEN ASSESSING A TIGHT SITUATION.
Briton: We seem to be in a bit of a predicament at the moment.
Malaysian: Die-lah!!

WHEN TRYING TO FIND OUT WHAT HAD HAPPENED
Briton: Will someone please tell me what has just happened?
Malaysian: Wat happen huh? Why laidat wan?

WHEN SOMEONE DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO DO SOMETHING
Briton: This isn't the way to do it. Here, let me show you.
Malaysian:Hoi!!! Seow ah? laidat also donno!! Laidis lah!!

EXCEPT:

WHEN ONE IS ANGRY
Briton: Please stop it!
Malaysian: Tiam! Tiu nah sing!!! Liah mah ke fulat!!! Tai lunn ngong!!! Suei Chai!!Tin mehng choong!!! Tua koh tai!!! Tiau nyah ngai tiau!!!Ng sang ngah lin!!! Nang bo ti nang…@#*!! etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. (censored)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Old fox vs young chick

An older, white haired man walked into a jewellery store one Friday evening with a beautiful young girl at his side. He told the jeweller he was looking for a special ring for his girlfriend.

The jeweller looked through his stock and brought out a $5,000 ring and showed it to him.

The old man said, "I don't think you understand, I want something very special."

At that statement, the jeweller went to his special stock and brought another ring over. "Here's a stunning ring at only $40,000," the jeweller said.

The young lady's eyes sparkled and her whole body trembled with excitement. The old man seeing this said, "We'll take it."

The jeweller asked how payment would be made and the old man stated, by cheque." I know you need to make sure my cheque is good, so I'll write it now and you can call the bank Monday to verify the funds and I'll pick the ring up Monday afternoon," he said.

Monday morning, a very teed-off jeweller phoned the old man."There's no money in that account."

"I know", said the old man, "but can you imagine the weekend I had with her?"

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Quotable quote

Even if you do end up as Prime Minister, you will end up a Bhutto, carelessly pronounced. – M. Bakri Musa.

A reader’s explanation: 'Bhutto, carelessly pronounced' is Buto!

In colloquial Malay, 'Buto' means 'prick'.

In colloquial English, 'prick' means 'penis'.

Pen is mighter than the sword!

Why does this remind me of the Hong Kong game show: "TVB ke B, B chai ke chai..."

Good advice ... from kids

Don't sneeze when somebody is cutting your hair.

Don't answer when your dad is angry and asks "do you think I'm stupid?"

Don't let mum comb your hair when she is upset with Dad.

Don't let a dog stand guard over your food.

When taking off clothes is not to arouse suspicion

There was this artist, who worked from a studio in his home. He specialized in nudes, and had been working on what he thought would be a masterpiece for several months now.

As usual, his model reported, and after exchanging the usual greetings and small talk, she began to undress for the day's work. He told her not to bother as he felt pretty bad with a cold he had been fighting. He told her that he would pay her for the day, but that she could just go home; he just wanted some hot tea and then, off to bed.

The model said "Oh, please, let me fix it for you. It's the least I can do."

He agreed and told her to fix herself a cup too. They were sitting in the living room just exchanging small talk and enjoying their tea, when he heard the front door open and close, then some familiar footsteps.

"Oh my God!" he whispered urgently, "It's my wife! Quick! Take all your clothes off!"

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A day trip to Pangkor Island

On Monday, May 1 being a public holiday, we decided to visit Pangkor Island.

Unlike those from afar, it took just over an hour’s drive to Lumut, where we parked for the first time, at the spanking new multi-storey carpark operated by Majlis Perbandaran Manjung.

We read the handwritten notice outside the cashier’s window stating it costs 40 sen for the first hour and so on and was pleasantly surprised when the cashier mentioned, for today, it is only 30 sen per hour, and first hour is free! This is definitely the way to go for a local council to attract business.

It was a pleasant start to our day trip to Pangkor Island. On our way to the jetty, we noticed modern looking structures all round, a vast difference from the old shops and stalls. A man asked if we were going to Pangkor and he offered a discounted return ticket at Rm8 instead of Rm10 for each person. To reassure us, he gave us a calling card too.

Instead of only one ferry operator, now there are a few: the original Pansilver, Duta Pangkor and Mesra Feri. The last one suggests cheeky management because the slogan on their ferries show ‘Naik Selalu’!

When we were in the air-conditioned ferry, I realized what a bargain it was for Rm8 return. We noticed the ferries stopped taking or dropping passengers at Sg. Pinang Kecil (or Keling Wan to the locals). Upon arriving at the main jetty, we were surprised at the crowd! Jam-packed waiting to board, all the way to the entrance of the building, making it difficult for disembarking passengers to pass through.

What a difference a day made! Most of those people have luggages, suggesting they have just checked out. It seems all the hotels and chalets were fully booked from Friday to Sunday. Even the taxis had exceptional business during the long weekend.

We were lucky to be on a day trip at the tail end of the chaotic period. While walking around, a minibus offered to take us and we got another good deal for Rm1.50 each all the way to Teluk Nipah!

We placed out the mat which we had brought along and tried to read the newspapers. Soon we dozed off. Shortly after, I was awake just to make sure nobody tried to snatch my wife’s handbag! Always thinking of security.

After enjoying the sea breeze, we decided to have a cup of tea. Then we looked around the shops to see what they have to offer the tourists. We walked all over the place, checking out hotels and chalets for future visits. To our pleasant surprise, a few hornbills appeared, looking for food. We managed to get fairly close to two young birds, judging from their smaller beaks and ‘horns’. They were quite used to humans and we were told, around 4 pm, they would be looking for food offered by the locals.

When we were ready to leave, we tried to stop passing taxis but the drivers kept pointing us to the taxi stand. Later, we realized that they have a queue system! The journey back to the jetty was comparatively expensive, at Rm10 for two. But we have no complaints, having been lucky earlier!

For the return ferry journey, we had to wait about half an hour because of the few passengers.

Back at the car park, for about 6 hours, we were charged only Rm1.50! We just couldn’t get over the offer. On the way, we saw cars parked out in the open and which we were sure they had to pay much more. If only they knew!

For dinner, we tried a new route to Kg. Koh but ended up in Kg. Cina! It was not because we could not find Kg. Koh but we found a row of restaurants and we were tempted to try one. For a ‘ikan bawal putih’ steamed Teochew style, a sizzling plate of ‘o-chian’ and a stir-fried vegetable, the bill came to only Rm42!

So ‘cuti cuti Malaysia’ can be cheap for the budget conscious.

How are we going to get used to a holiday in UK this July?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Outrageous request

A naïve and nerdy Malaysian tourist on his first visit to London, locates the red light district and enters a large brothel. The madam asks him to be seated and sends over a young lady to entertain the client. They sit and talk, frolic a little, giggle a bit, drink a bit, and she sits on his lap.

He whispers in her ear and she gasps and runs away!

Seeing this, the madam sends over a more experienced lady to entertain the gentleman. They sit and talk, frolic a little, giggle a bit, drink a bit, and she sits on his lap. He whispers in her ear and she screams, "No!" and walks away quickly.

The madam is surprised that this ordinary-looking man has asked for something so outrageous that her two girls will have nothing to do with it.

She decides that only her most experienced lady, Lola, will do. Lola looks a bit tired, but she has never said no and it doesn't seem likely that anything would surprise her. So the madam sends her over to Johan. They sit and talk, frolic a little, giggle a bit, drink a bit, and she sits on his lap. He whispers in her ear and she screams, "NO WAY, BUDDY!" smacks him as hard as she can, and literally runs away too!

Madam is by now absolutely intrigued, having seen nothing like this in all her years of operating a brothel. She hasn't done the bedroom work herself for a long time,but she did it for many years before she got into management. She's sure she has said yes at one time or another to everything a man could possibly ask for. The challenge is irresistible. She just has to find out what this man wants that has made her girls so angry.

And she sees a chance she can't pass up to show off to her employees how good she was at what they do.

So she goes over to Johan and says that she's the best in the house and she, herself, is available. She sits and talks with him. They frolic a bit, giggle a bit, drink a little, and she sits on his lap. And then Johan leans forward and whispers in her ear, .......... "Can I pay in Malaysian Ringgit?"

Creating big but leaving a 'dip' impression

Abdul grew up in Kota Baru, a town located on the East Coast of Malaysia, and then moved away to Kuala Lumpur to do his law degree in order to fill up the Bumiputera quota.

He decided to come back to Kota Baru, because he could be a big man and really wanted to impress everyone. So he returned and opened his new law office.

The first day, he saw a man coming up the sidewalk. He decided to make a big impression on this new client when he arrived.

As the man came to the door, Abdul picked up the phone.

He motioned the man in, all the while talking. "No. Absolutely not. You tell those clowns in Kuala Lumpur that I won't settle this case for less than one million ringgit.

Yes. Appeals Court has agreed to hear that case next week. I'll be handling the primary argument and the other members of my team will provide support. Okay?

Tell the State Prosecutor that I'll meet with him next week to discuss the details."

This sort of thing went on for almost five minutes. All the while the man sat patiently as Abdul rattled instructions.

Finally, Abdul put down the phone and turned to the man.

"I'm sorry for the delay, but as you can see, I'm very busy. What can I do for you?"

The man replied, "I'm from Telekom, I've come to connect your line".

God is watching?

A burglar broke into a house one night.He shined his flashlight around, looking for valuables, and when he picked up a CD player to place in his sack, a strange, disembodied voice echoed from the dark saying, "Jesus is watching you."

He nearly jumped out of his skin, clicked his flashlight off, and froze. When he heard nothing more after a bit, he shook his head, promised himself a vacation after the next big score, then clicked the light on and began searching for more valuables. Just as he pulled the stereo out so he could disconnect the wires, clear as a bell he heard, "Jesus is watching you."

Freaked out, he shined his light around frantically, looking for the source of the voice. Finally, in the corner of the room, his flashlight beam came to rest on a parrot. "Did you say that?" he hissed at the parrot.

"Yep," the parrot confessed, then squawked, "I'm just trying to warn you."

The burglar relaxed. "Warn me, huh? Who in the world are you?"

"Moses," replied the bird.

"Moses?" the burglar laughed.. "What kind of people would name a bird Moses?"

"The same kind of people that would name a Rottweiler, Jesus."