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!

Why we should be against censorship: Publicity is the very soul of justice … it keeps the judge himself, while trying, under trial. - Jeremy Bentham

"Our government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other. " - Ronald Reagan


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

Friday, June 30, 2006

Where is the fault?

An Irishman goes into a shop and buys a chainsaw. Two weeks later he takes it back.

"I bought this chainsaw two weeks ago. You said it would chop down fifty trees an hour and I can only manage two."

"Well, lets take a look at it then." says the shop assistant.

He takes the chainsaw and starts it up.

BRRRRRBRRRRBRR!

"Christ!" says the Irishman, "What's that noise?"

How my daughter almost missed her chance to excel at a British university

After one year as an exchange student in Japan under the Rotary International Student Exchange Programme, Cheng was tempted by the 6-month Foundation Course which prepared her for the London School of Economics twinning programme at HELP Institute.

Besides having to compete with students who have done their A-levels in Economics, she found the subject in particular too dry. Though a voracious reader, she dreaded reading Economics books. It was not surprising that she managed to only scrape through the first year examinations, which got her a Diploma in Economics.

Her original intention was to do an Economics degree before Politics but she decided to switch after the uninspiring and demotivating first year.

After researching British universities offering degree courses in Politics, she decided on University of Essex. With just the mediocre results from LSE, her application was rejected by the Admissions Officer who thought her poor results for Sociology and Economics was due to her inability to write good essays.

I can still remember how disappointed she was when she received the email. I was certain the officer had incorrectly assessed her writing ability based on examination results of two subjects which could have been due to lack of interest.

I told her that if she were considered not good enough, then many other students would have problems. Incidently, she obtained 1A in English in her SPM and 2A in GCE English and was top student in Batu Gajah in year 2000 with 11As. I can imagine the blow to her self-confidence, not to mention the insult to her language ability.

In retrospect, I was surprised my suggestion, that she forward an article which she wrote to the now defunct website, SuaraAnum, criticizing the Universities and University Colleges Act, was so effective that the Admission Officer changed his mind within 24 hours, saying: “I enjoyed reading your letter enormously and believe that it illustrates both your commitment and ability to study politics.”

I can still remember asking her why she could not wait till the next day to appeal as she was already dressed to go to work at the Japanese restaurant in Nikko Hotel. She replied that she had to get it done immediately. What a fateful decision it turned out to be! When she returned from work late that night, she checked her email and exclaimed that she was accepted! When the Admissions Officer mentioned that he was due to go on a one-year sabbatical the following day, we could not believe our luck! Would the person taking over his position have reconsidered her case favourably?

That she had found the right course of study was without doubt, when she was awarded, Best First Year student in Politics, followed by Leatherland Book Prize for Best Performance in the second year Undergraduate Degree in the Department of Government.

I am proud that she had just received her results which qualified her with Honours Class I. In addition, she obtained Jean Blondel Prize for Best Undergraduate Degree Result (Department of Government) and Oscar Arias Prize for Best Undergraduate Dissertation.

We will be attending her convocation on July 21 and we expect and hope to meet the Admissions Officer to thank him for his timely change of mind, which made it all possible. It showed he was willing to admit he might have made a mistake in his earlier assessment.

The moral of my story is that the use of examination results has its weaknesses. The main problem seems to be that it does not indicate anything more than performance at a particular examination. It requires a further test in essay writing on a relevant topic to reveal the applicant’s grasp of the language and whether he or she has the passion for the particular field of study.

Admittedly, the advent of the internet, has made it all possible as the scenario would have stopped at the stage of rejection by snail mail. The telephone conversations also helped in revealing that she could communicate with a native speaker without any problem.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

In no uncertain terms

HOW TO ASK YOU BOSS FOR A SALARY INCREMENT...

This is one situation that all employees will encounter. He needs an increment in salary but agonises over how he is going to approach his boss about it.

Well, the following is an example of how the employee has gone about it and how his boss has responded. The employee decides against talking to the boss directly, since the subject can be a sensitive one. He decides to write to his boss and drop some strong hints.

One day an employee sends a letter to his boss asking for an increase in his salary!!!

Dear Bo $$,

In thi$ life, we all need $ome thing mo$t de$perately. I think you $hould be under$tanding of the need$ of u$ worker$ who have given $o much $upport including $weat and $ervice to your company.

I am $ure you will gue$$ what I mean and re$pond $oon .

Your$ $incerely,

Norman $oh

***************

The next day, the employee received this letter of reply :

Dear NOrman,

I kNOw you have been working very hard. NOwadays, NOthing much has changed. You must have NOticed that our company is NOt doing NOticeably well as yet .

NOw the newspaper are saying the world`s leading ecoNOmists are NOt sure if the United States may go into aNOther recession. After the NOvember presidential elections things may turn bad.

I have NOthing more to add NOw. You kNOw what I mean .

Yours truly,
Manager

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Backfired

Jim wanted to go skiing with his buddy John, so they loaded up John 's minivan and headed north. After driving for a few hours, they got caught in a terrible blizzard.

So they pulled into a nearby drive leading to a magnificent estate. They asked the attractive woman who answered the door if they could spend the night.

"I realize it's terrible weather out there, and I have this huge place all to myself, but I'm recently widowed," she explained. "I'm afraid the neighbors will talk if I let you stay in the main house."

"Don't worry," Jim said. "We'll be happy to sleep in the gatehouse. And if the weather breaks, we'll be gone at first light."

The lady agreed, and the two men found their way back to the gatehouse and settled in for the night. Come morning, the weather had cleared, and they got on their way.

They enjoyed a great weekend of skiing. But about nine months later Jim got an unexpected letter from an attorney.

It took him a few minutes to figure it out, but he finally determined that it was from the attorney of that attractive widow he had met on the ski weekend.

He dropped in on his friend John and asked, "John, do you remember that good-looking widow from the farm we stayed at on our ski holiday up north about 9 months ago?"

"Yes, I do." said John.

"Did you, er, happen to get up in the middle of the night, go up to the house, and pay her a visit?"

"Well, um, yes," John said, a little embarrassed about being found out.

"I have to admit that I did."

"And did you happen to use my name instead of telling her your name?"

John's face turned beet red, and he said, "Yeah, look, I'm sorry, buddy. I'm afraid I did." "Why do you ask?"

"She just died and left me everything."

(And you thought the ending would be different, didn't you?)

Think before you speak...

Here are six reasons why you should think before you speak - the last one is great!

Have you ever spoken and wished that you could immediately take the words back...or that you could crawl into a hole?

Here are the Testimonials of a few women who did…

FIRST TESTIMONY:
I walked into a hair salon with my husband and three kids in tow and asked
loudly, "How much do you charge for a shampoo and a blow job?"

I turned around and walked back out and never went back. My husband didn't say a word...he knew better.

SECOND TESTIMONY:
I was at the golf store comparing different kinds of golf balls. I was unhappy with the women's type I had been using. After browsing for several minutes, I was approached by one of the good-looking gentlemen, who works at the store. He asked if he could help me. Without thinking, I looked at him and said, "I think I like playing with men's balls."

THIRD TESTIMONY:
My sister and I were at the mall and passed by a store that sold a variety of candy and nuts. As we were looking at the display case, the boy behind the counter asked if we needed any help.

I replied, "No, I'm just looking at your nuts."

My sister started to laugh hysterically. The boy grinned, and I turned beet-red and walked away. To this day, my sister has never let me forget.

FOURTH TESTIMONY:
While in line at the bank one afternoon, my toddler decided to release some pent-up energy and ran amok. I was finally able to grab hold of her after receiving looks of disgust and annoyance from other patrons. I told her that if she did not start behaving "right now" she would be punished.

To my horror, she looked me in the eye and said in a voice just as threatening, "If you don't let me go right now, I will tell Grandma that I saw you kissing Daddy's pee-pee last night!"

The silence was deafening after this enlightening exchange. Even the tellers stopped what they were doing. I mustered up the last of my dignity and walked out of the bank with my daughter in tow. The last thing I heard when the door closed behind me, were screams of laughter.

FIFTH TESTIMONY:
Have you ever asked your child a question too many times? My three-year-old son had a lot of problems with potty training and I was on him constantly.

One day we stopped at Taco Bell for a quick lunch in between errands. It was very busy, with a full dining room. While enjoying my taco, I smelled something funny, so of course I checked my seven-month-old daughter, she was clean. Then I realized that Danny had not asked to go potty in a while. I asked him if he needed to go, and he said "No".

I kept thinking "Oh Lord, that child has had a poo-poo accident, and I don't have any clothes with me." Then I said, "Danny, are you SURE you didn't have an accident?"

"No," he replied. I just KNEW that he must have had an accident, because the smell was getting worse. Soooooo, I asked one more time, "Danny,did you have an accident?"

This time he jumped up, yanked down his pants, bent over, spread his cheeks and yelled "SEE MOM, IT'S JUST FARTS!!"

While 30 people nearly choked to death on their tacos laughing, he calmly pulled up his pants and sat down. An old couple made me feel better, thanking me for the best laugh they'd ever had!

LAST BUT NOT LEAST TESTIMONY:
This had most of the state of Michigan laughing for 2 days and a very embarrassed news anchor female who will, in the future, likely think before she speaks.

What happens when you predict snow but don't get any?

We had a news anchor female that, on the day after it was supposed to have snowed and didn't, turned to the weatherman and asked: "So Bob, where's that 8 inches you promised me last night?"

Not only did Bob have to leave the set, but half the crew did too they were laughing so hard!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

My moment of pride

I was afraid of being presumptuous when I was writing for my earlier posting because my daughter’s results was not yet available. Just got a call from her when she was nervously about to press the button to get her results.

My fears were unfounded when she read to me the details. She got her Honours Class I as expected, plus two prizes: Jean Blondel Prize for Best Undergraduate Degree Result (Dept of Government) and Oscar Arias Prize for Best Undergraduate Dissertation!

Congratulations!

Spoilt for choice

My elder daughter has just completed her degree course in International Relations and Politics. She was top student for the first two years and though she doubted if she could for the final year, she is expected to get First Class Honours, which happens to be my condition for attending her convocation next month!

Her boyfriend had applied and was offered a place in Oxford University. She would have done so if not because of our financial constraints. I joked that she should have applied and if offered a place, turn it down so that I could have a letter to show people that she was actually offered. Anyway, she is not into our local “kiasuism”.

After seeking advice from some European lecturers, she shortlisted some universities and applied to three: ETH Zurich, Switzerland (MA in Comparative and International Studies), Lund University, Sweden (MA in European Affairs), and K.U. Leuven, Belgium (& Differdange, Luxembourg) (The International Master in Social Policy Analysis).

The first good news came from Belgium/Luxembourg. She subsequently applied for a grant which was approved within a short time! The scholarship was too good to be true as it covers fees, food and lodging, allowance and even use of a notebook!

Then she was offered a place by Lund University, Sweden but she rejected it because she had enough of European Affairs for the past 3 years. At the time she applied, she had only submitted her 2 best essays in lieu of her dissertation (which was required), but hers was not ready then. So she was really taken by surprise.

Lastly, she was offered a place by ETH Zurich! She had mixed feelings, as on the one hand, she was happy to be successful in her application, on the other, she had a hard time in deciding, even after another round of discussions with the lecturers.

Her European lecturers strongly recommended ETH Zurich (probably best in Europe) as a continuation of her first degree. The other favourable factor is that for those who completed their Masters and accepted for PhD course, they are paid while doing so!

However the lure of immediate financial independence as opposed to after one year, and the change from politics to social policy proved to be irresistible. Moreover, she can still apply again after completing her Masters in Social Policy Analysis.

I can imagine how some top students in Malaysia feel, being offered places in Harvard, Yale, Oxford and Cambridge for example, and having to decide which one to accept.

For some of us, we have problems in deciding, when faced with many empty parking spaces!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Heart murmur

An eighty year old man was having an annual physical. As the doctor was listening to his heart with the stethoscope, he began muttering, "Oh oh!"

The man asked the doctor what the problem was.

"Well," said the doctor, "you have a serious heart murmur. Do you smoke?" "Do you drink in excess?"

"No," replied the man.

"Do you have a sex life?"

"Yes, I do!"

"Well," said the doctor, "I'm afraid with this heart murmur, you'll have to give up half your sex life."

Looking perplexed, the old man said, "Which half...the LOOKING or the THINKING ?"

A reasonable wife

Married 25 years, I took a look at my wife one day and said, "Honey, 25 years ago, we had a cheap apartment, a cheap car, slept on a sofa bed and watched a 10 inch black and white TV, but I got to sleep every night with a hot 25 year old blond."

"Now, we have a nice house, nice car, big bed and plasma screen TV, but I'm sleeping with a 50 year old woman. It seems to me that you are not holding up your side of things."

My wife is a very reasonable woman.

She told me to go out and find a hot 25 year old blond, and she would make sure that I would once again be living in a cheap apartment, driving a cheap car, sleeping on a sofa bed....

Missing the wood from the trees

I was invited to a grandniece’s (nephew’s daughter) birthday barbeque party last Saturday evening. I was already in KL because of an ex-classmate’s visit. He is from Australia.

He left early for golf and I noticed he left behind his camera. Called and messaged him but got no response. A friend suggested that I should take it with me instead of leaving it in the hotel room in case it went missing.

As it was my first time visiting my nephew’s new house, I went early. I tried using my videocam and managed to capture a few clips. The birthday girl’s mum had been busy the whole day and could hardly smile. Later, I was to discover that even the other child was left with the childminder! How are the parents going to explain to the child later that she was not present even at her sister’s party?

My nephew expected 50 guests but I estimated the food was enough to feed 100! When we started eating the barbequed chicken wings, I thought of our mongrel dogs in BG. If only it was convenient to save the leftovers for them but I was staying in a hotel so I had to forget it.

The party was well organized in terms of the variety of food and free-flowing beer and wines. After everyone had his fill, it was time to bring out the birthday cake with a nice drawing of Chicken Little on it. It was only then that they realized they did not have a camera ready to capture the scene! I tried using my videocam but it was too dark without a proper flash. Then I remembered by friend’s camera in my pocket! There were a number of handphones with camera capability but considered not good enough. I was most amused by the coincidence: how I decided to take along the camera and ended being the only one with a camera!

Before my friend had left for Australia, he had promised to transfer the images into his computer and burn a cd to be sent to me. Actually I expect him to send the pictures via email so that I can forward to my nephew.

This was not the first time I had come across parents who have forgotten about camera or film or even candles when celebrating a birthday.

You are not as normal as you think

During a visit to the mental asylum, a visitor asked the Director what the criterion was which defined whether or not a patient should be institutionalized.

"Well," said the Director, "we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub."

"Oh, I understand," said the visitor. "A normal person would use the bucket because it's bigger than the spoon or the teacup.

"No." said the Director, "A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?"

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Never assume and underestimate an old lady's state of mind

A dentist noticed that his next patient, a little old lady, was nervous so he decided to tell her a little joke as he put on his gloves.

"Do you know how they make these gloves?" he asked.

"No, I don't."

"Well," he spoofed, "there's a building in Mexico with a big tank of latex and workers of all hand sizes walk up to the tank, dip in their hands, let them dry, then peel off the gloves and throw them into boxes of the right size."

She didn't crack a smile.

"Oh, well. I tried," he thought.

But five minutes later, during a delicate portion of the procedure, she burst out laughing.

"What's so funny?" he asked.

"I was just envisioning how condoms are made!"

Never argue with a woman who reads

One morning a man returns after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap.

Although not familiar with the lake, his wife decides to take the boat out. She motors out a short distance, anchors and reads her book.

Along comes a game warden in his boat. He pulls up alongside the woman and says, "Good morning, Ma'am. What are you doing?"

"Reading a book," she replies, thinking, "Isn't that obvious?"

"You're in a Restricted Fishing Area," he informs her.

"I'm sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm reading."

"Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I'll have to take you in andwrite you up."

"If you do that, I'll have to charge you with sexual assault," says the woman.

"But I haven't even touched you," says the game warden.

"That's true, but you have all the equipment. For all Iknow you could start at any moment."

"Have a nice day ma'am," he says before leaving pronto.

MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads. It's likely she can also think.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Titanic clash of egos

Last Tuesday evening my friend and I went to Titanic pub in Taman Tun Dr Ismail to wait for his ex-band member from Singapore. He was late and did not turn up till past 11.00pm.

As we entered the pub, I was surprised to see Tengku Mahaleel, ex-CEO of Proton, jamming with the resident band. He was in his elements playing lead as well as rhythm while the bassist was singing. He seemed able to remember chords without any reference to song sheets. A sexy lady in white appeared to be enjoying the music as well as trying to attract his attention by dancing on her own to the music.

Because of the loud music, we moved away from the band stand until we ended up outside the premises so that we could have a good conversation. The 3 ex-band members waiting for Thomas had not seen him for about 20 years! When he arrived, they were so glad to talk of old times. As it was getting late, Thomas suggested that we ask to join them.

Sunny, the rhythmist, who had been expecting us handed his guitar to Thomas. Just a twang and he asked for the volume to be turned higher. Timmy took over the bass guitar from the resident bassist cum vocalist. Tengku M, keyboardist and drummer remained.

Thomas suggested Tequila and almost immediately they started playing. Tom showed his skill in playing lead and it obviously must have been his favourite. It was almost faultless and really outshone earlier performance. Then they proceeded to playing a blues number which went on for some ten minutes and it was time for closing.

Most people would have thought that musicians are easy going and laid back. But from what I have observed, some may be egoistic while others are quite contented in their own comfort zones until someone comes along and upset them.

Tengku M gave me the impression that he had seen enough of good guitarists and he is not one to show admiration for someone who is not really outstanding by his standard. He appeared to put on his usual smile and strummed to the tune effortlessly but he did not bother to look at the lead guitarist! It must have been tortuous for him as I guess it would have been impolite for him to leave yet he had to appear as though he was enjoying the jam session.

Sunny was gesturing to Timmy (bassist) and he thought he played badly and offered the guitar to him to play instead. We are still wondering what he was on about.

The next day Thomas brought along his echo box which he bought from Hank Marvin, to Duta Vista to jam with his ex-band members as well as the resident lead guitarist who happens to be a Shadows fan. He is even thinking of setting up a Shadows club. He showed his skill playing a wide selection of Shadows tunes like Peace Pipe, Savage, Theme for young lovers, Zambesi and so on. Here again, he appeared upset over the introduction of the echo box which by implication meant that what he had been playing was not as close to the original sound as it should be. The truth hurts. In fact we were surprised at the precision required when using the equipment as it has to be set according to a prescribed setting for each tune!

An expensive Korg keyboard was rented for the benefit of their visiting organist. Unfortunately, without chords, he could not join in with the Shadows numbers. In fact, he had been playing piano instead for the past 20 years. He showed them some professional techniques when playing Carole King numbers. He could still remember Whiter Shade of Pale, which has a distinctive tune on organ. They tried out House of Rising Sun, as well as other tunes known to them, to rekindle memories of good old times.

Overall, I find that at our age, we are pretty set in our ways, in terms of choice of songs, the passion (or the lack of) for certain songs, and the unwillingness to learn from others or to accept and try out new equipment.

The arrival of a flamboyant guitarist with a passion for new styles as well as a curious mind in search of the right equipment for a particular sound, and the eagerness to show it, had left behind a trail of bruised egos.

Actual excuse notes received by teachers

My son is under a doctor's care and should not take P.E. today.
Please execute him.

Please excuse Lisa for being absent. She was sick and I had her shot.

Dear School: Please ekscuse John being absent on Jan. 28, 29,
30, 31, 32, and also 33.

Please excuse Gloria from Jim today. She is administrating.

Please excuse Roland from P.E. for a few days. Yesterday he fell out of a tree and misplaced his hip.

John has been absent because he had two teeth taken out of his face.

Carlos was absent yesterday because he was playing football. He was hurt in the growing part.

Megan could not come to school today because she has been bothered by very close veins.

Chris will not be in school cus he has an acre in his side.

Please excuse Ray Friday from school. He has very loose vowels.

Please excuse Tommy for being absent yesterday. He had diarrhea and his boots leak.

Irving was absent yesterday because he missed his bust.

Please excuse Jimmy for being. It was his father's fault.

I kept Billie home because she had to go Christmas shopping because I don't know what size she wear.

Please excuse Jennifer for missing school yesterday. We forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch, and when we found it Monday, we thought it was Sunday.

Sally won't be in school a week from Friday. We have to attend her funeral.

My daughter was absent yesterday because she was tired. She spent a weekend with the Marines.

Please excuse Jason for being absent yesterday. He had a cold and could not breed well.

Please excuse Mary for being absent yesterday. She was in bed with gramps.

Charging the right price

Ever heard the story of the giant ship engine that failed?

The ship's owners tried one expert after another, but none of them could figure out how to fix the engine.

Then they brought in an old man who had been fixing ships since he was a youngster. He carried a large bag of tools with him, and when he arrived, he immediately went to work.

He inspected the engine very carefully, top to bottom. Two of the ship's owners were there, watching this man, hoping he would know what to do. After looking things over, the old man reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something. Instantly, the engine lurched into life. He carefully put his hammer away. The engine was fixed!

A week later, the owners received a bill from the old man for ten thousand dollars.

"What?!" the owners exclaimed. "He hardly did anything!"

So they wrote the old man a note saying, "Please send us an itemized bill."

The man sent a bill that read:
Tapping with a hammer ......................... $ 2.00
Knowing where to tap ......................... $ 9998.00

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Painful lesson of a salesman

A salesman checked into a futuristic motel. Realizing he needed a haircut before his meeting tomorrow, he called down to the desk clerk to ask if there was a barber on the premises.

"I'm afraid not, sir," the clerk told him apologetically, "but down the hall from your room is a vending machine that should serve your purposes."

Sceptical but intrigued, the salesman located the machine, inserted $15, and stuck his head into the opening, at which time the machine started to buzz and spin. Fifteen seconds later he pulled out his head and surveyed his reflection, which reflected the best haircut of his life.

Two feet away was another machine with a sign that read, "Manicures $20." "Why not?" he thought. He paid the money, inserted his hands into the slot, and the machine started to buzz and spin. Fifteen seconds later, he pulled out his hands and they were perfectly manicured.

The next machine had a sign that read,"Machine provides a service men need when away from their wives, 50 Cents." He looked both ways, put fifty cents in the machine, unzipped his fly, and with some anticipation, stuck his manhood into the opening. When the machine started buzzing, he let out a shriek of agony and almost passed out. Fifteen seconds later, it shut off. With trembling hands, he was able to withdraw his member... which now had a button neatly sewn on the end.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Obituary: The late Mr. Common Sense

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated valuable lessons such as: Know when to come in out of the rain; Why the early bird gets the worm; Life isn't always fair; Maybe it WAS my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies like "Don't spend more than you can earn." and reliable strategies like "Adults, not children, are in charge."

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place: Reports of a 6 year old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Advil, sun lotion or a band-aid to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband, churches became businesses, and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the criminal could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. He is survived by his 3 stepbrothers: I Know My Rights, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I'm A Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Blood is thicker than water?

Someone once said something to the effect that we are born with relatives, thank God we can choose our friends.

When I was a kid, my dad went through the dilemma of having to take an unpopular action just to please a nephew. I did not know of the situation until a few years later when the picture became clearer.

Our workshop units were fully occupied when one day, a cousin of mine came to see my dad, to explain how he had got a great business idea of starting an electro-plating business. He came a few times and pleaded that all he needed was at least 2 units of space. He even identified the units occupied by a panel-beater cum spray-painter, who was none other than the father of our 3 playmates who were of the same ages as my two older brothers and me.

Having known the circumstances later, I could understand why, at one stage, the father was very angry with us before they finally moved away. Who wouldn’t? The sad part was that my cousin's electro-plating business was soon taken over by someone else. Such people are commonly known as "sum fun choong yit tou" which translates to mean literally someone who gets excited over an idea but for "only 3 minutes when it is hot".

Years later, when I was managing a brother’s business, another cousin asked whether we could allow his son to park his car in our compound as he was working nearby. My brother must have felt awkward in refusing him, told him to ask me! At that time, his development company was active and just for ourselves we required 3 parking spaces and we used to have purchasers, contractors and consultants coming over now and again, so I had to say, “Sorry, no.” The effect was felt till today!

My sister was told by a neighbour that the cousin’s wife had been telling everybody how mean we were now unlike my father who was known to be generous.

In retrospect, I realized that dealing with some relatives, we are supposed to accede to whatever they requested, otherwise we are being mean. In other words, we cannot say no!

Using this as an analogy, government leaders would invariably deal with special requests from relatives and for those who acceded to them, it is more than likely to be unfair to those deserving cases and very likely to be less efficient in allocation of scarce resources.

Monday, June 12, 2006

A long awaited visit by my KL jamming partners

My two jamming partners in KL finally made the trip to Batu Gajah, some 5 years since their last visit.

Batu Gajah or Elephant Stone, if correctly translated from Malay, but most people translate the name one word at a time, and usually translate it as Stone Elephant. Nobody can be sure the origin of the name. But it has spawned a housing project, Elephant and Castle with obvious reference to the town name and Kellie’s Castle, a ruin of an uncompleted mansion built by a Scottish planter, Kellie Smith, who died before it could be completed. Yet, for those who have been to London, it suggests the housing development company owner had been there before, as there is an Elephant & Castle tube station.

Kellie’s Castle has been a tourist attraction for a number of years. It used to be neglected in its original state with thick undergrowth and commonly referred to by the locals as “the ghost house”. While in that state, it did not deter some daring lovers seeking a haven safe from peeping toms, and murderer(s) who killed and/or dumped his victim there.

Then the state government of Perak decided to spend millions to make it a tourist attraction. To be honest, the work was “too enthusiastic” and the result was that, part of the building was practically renovated instead of restored!

Anyway, it was rented to an enterprising Chinese who publicized and increased entrance fee, and he must have made good money from the many busloads of tourists (including my own daughter who came with her college-mates and became their guide, much to the surprise of the entrepreneur cum guide who I later got to know).

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, the rental contract was not renewed and given to a “more deserving category of people” and the dispute went to the court. After he had lost the case, the place is now in a transition stage with destroyed pots and fencing, which was why I discouraged my friends from visiting it.

According to my friend who was the driver, they were delayed when they started the journey by the old route before Rawang and got caught in a jam because of an accident involving a trailer, which reduced access to one lane. I still did not understand why he chose the old route especially being an occasional traveler to this place. In my case, being a frequent traveler, I did occasionally take the old route, which brought back memories of my weekly travel before the North-South Expressway was opened.

Only after their arrival and when by then I had already read the papers, that I told them one of the reasons was the closure of certain roads because of the visit by the Emperor and Empress of Japan to Ipoh and Kuala Kangsar.

Joe, bassist cum vocalist, messaged me that he will come later, “..I gotta go n cut 1 hair first, don’t wait 4 me lunch..” which became the butt of a joke. Imagine the big deal of cutting 1 hair! It would have been worse if he used “cut 1 head” instead! It showed how brevity can be a problem for those particular with proper language though we got the message conveyed.

We had lunch at Hoi Seng in BG Perdana where they used to invite professional singers so that they can boost their business by selling tickets for dinner cum show. We were offered a variety of fishes, which included one “suei mah lau” which literally means “water monkey” and because we chose some other fish, we could not help wondering what it looks like to be given that name. My friend could not help but joked that we could have braised elephant leg.

Since my last visit to the restaurant with my son, I noticed they have included some new pictures, most prominent were one taken of Dr. Chua Soi Lek, Minister of Health, and another, of Chua Jui Meng, his predecessor. Both pictures were taken with the bosses of the restaurant, a husband and wife team. I was tempted to ask if I could ask our MP, YB Fong Po Kuan, to have a similar picture taken and displayed.

My friend’s car was parked in our car porch. My jamming studio is in the next house. So, for convenience, he passed his guitars over the dividing fence to me to take in. I forgot about our 2 dogs with me at the other house barking at them, they being strangers. I took the guitars and went straight to the room and set up the electrical connections. To set the mood, I could not resist putting on an Elvis cd and chose Hound dog and played bass. I was wondering what took them so long until when they came in and told me off, “we were waiting for you to control the dogs!” Mistake with a big M!

After trying out a few tunes, Joe arrived with his friend. I introduced them to my friends and we started our jam with Black Magic Woman. Being new to our group, Joe left it to us to suggest other songs and tunes. So we used those compiled by KC. We tried a few Shadows tunes, starting with Apache, followed by Theme for young lovers. We agreed that because we do not read notes, we had difficulties remembering how each tune goes in spite of having the title and chords! It was a real pity when Richard confessed that he had forgotten how to play the lead for Rise and Fall of Fingle Bunt!

Then I remembered that I was to try out the video camera that I just acquired from Joe. So I asked Joe’s friend to be the shooter. After a few shots, the camera went dead. I just hoped that it was simply because I did not charge the battery just before using.

Considering it was the first time Joe joined us, we managed to play quite a number of songs known to us. Main problem was that Joe, though younger, is more into ballads of oldies like Young ones and even before, like Rose, Rose I love you, while his rock influence started from Deep Purple. Off course, he was into Ventures and the Shadows too. KC preferred rock numbers which required use of effects. This reminds us of the cartoon in which the chap said, “I am not good enough to play unplugged”! I would have used my compiled songs which would have suited Joe, if not for the fact that they came from afar and far between.

Once, Richard twanged the guitar and it reminded me of the intro of Tell Laura I love you and Joe showed interest but not them. I asked Joe to sing at least one Elvis number but the others were just not keen at all!

Soon after we stopped, after some 4 hours (more because of tired and painful fingers), my wife came back from work. Asked what she would suggest for dinner, she said, “you all go ahead, I am vegetarian for today.”

The next day, I asked KC to try connecting the video camera to the computer. He found that the cd that I had did not contain the right driver for the camera. By then, the battery was flat and I had it charged.

After they had left for home, I tried the camera again to see what was recorded could be replayed and was pleasantly surprised to see the recorded 7 clips. Only 3 were decent short clips: Joe singing Young ones, KC singing Badge and Richard playing the intro for Soldiers of Fortune. I was pleased to have recorded something, when I least expected, especially the sound that goes with it. I must remember to take along the SD card to show my children!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall...

At my age, walking can be hazardous too.

Last Sat, being a public holiday, my wife already had in mind to check out this route from Kg Raja (Camerons) to Gua Musang, then to Kota Baru to stay for a night. The return trip was via East-West highway passing through Gerik, Kuala Kangsar, and Ipoh.

Just before reaching KB, I told her I was thinking of my ex-classmate, Teo Poh Oon. It was a really long shot and the chances very slim indeed. First of all, I lost contact with him for more than 30 years and the only info was that he is practising as a lawyer and has a lady partner. In fact, just a few years ago, another ex-classmate’s brother-in-law based in KB, said disparagingly, “How could Poh Oon allow a lady to take precedence in the firm’s name when he is more senior?”

Therefore, while in Kota Baru, when I spotted a nameplate ‘Teo & Chew”, I was both glad as well as not optimistic simply because I was expecting “Chew & Teo” instead. I just left it at that. However, the next day we went into town again and spotted the same nameplate and it was very near the old market, which my wife had in mind, to visit some old shops and stalls selling silver jewellery, sarong kebayas and crockery. I told her I would check out the lawyers’ office to see if it was his, and even told her off when she discouraged me.

We came to an understanding that we will meet at 12.30pm at a certain place if I happen to meet him. But then it was closed (normally open on Sunday) because of Agong’s birthday. So I joined her going through the stalls selling sarong kebayas. She bought some kebayas, a potted palm and a mat, which I decided to put in the car instead of carrying them all over the place.

After lunch at a Chinese coffee shop (the stalls at the market had a wide variety of Malay food which I did not mind having, but the atmosphere was chaotic), we visited a few old jewellery shops selling kerongsang but could not find any old crockery shops. She bought an old ring and by then, she had already made up her mind to buy 2 more kebayas and I was to get the money hidden in the glove compartment. I had already made a trip to the car just to put earlier purchases but did not bother about the money as she did not insist and I did not want to give whoever is watching nearby that there are things hidden.

We went our separate ways, she to the kebaya stall and me to the car. On the way, I spotted a bakery with nice French loaves. I stopped to buy 2 and even commented to the woman that she liked Pavarotti from the opera tune being played in her shop.

After leaving the shop and still thinking about the Pavarotti comment, I did not notice the raised level of the next shop. I kicked against it, first the right leg, then the left and I lost my balance. I went forward trying hard to stop my fall and I could remember bouncing up from my first fall and head towards the edge of a 2-step raised level and hit directly at the edge. I can still remember the hard knock on my forehead and the immense pain followed by the gush of blood. I am known for having a phobia of blood, which can make me faint and I was about to feel faint. At that moment, I suddenly remember my children and wife and thought to myself I had to control the situation. I quickly pulled out my hanky and placed it against my cut and pressed hard. The shop-owner was very helpful in quickly providing me with cotton wool. The next thing, I tried to contact my wife and took out my handphone and someone had to give her instructions of my location.

I always say the handphone is the best instument in times of emergency, not to mention the countless occasions we could just call someone to say we are going to be late. I could have fainted and even died due to loss of blood and I wonder if my wife would ever know until much later.

The mother of a shop-owner waited with me for a long while for my wife to bring the car over. She gave up when I told her that we are new in town and she probably had problem finding her way. One of the reasons why she took so long was that when I handed to her the car key, the remote sensor detached itself from the key (for the first time) and remained in my pocket! Talking about things going wrong! I did not know until when she asked for it. Good job she knew how to disable the alarm and managed to drive the car over.

Earlier I had noticed a clinic with the unusual surname Lua and those people around me confirmed that it was just at the back of the shops. After getting into the car, as we were moving off, I looked at the front of the shop and noticed “Teo & Chew”! Of all places!

At the clinic, after the initial treatment which included about 12 stitches to close a gaping wound (2-inch long) which he commented, “don’t understand how it could be so serious but luckily did not affect the bone,” I asked the doctor if he knew Teo of Teo & Chew. Before he could give the full name, I asked “Teo Poh Oon?” and he said “ Yes, that’s him” and followed with “ I know him very well. Do you want me to contact him?” He actually asked me a few times and I declined because we were in a hurry to go back and there is a long journey ahead.

How would I know that my wife still had her kebayas in mind and asked if she should get them before we leave for home. Knowing her, I just said, “Please be quick” while I waited in the car. This really reminds me of the mahjong kaki who would rather finish the game first before going home after having heard the news that his father had died!

I believe the concussion had caused a certain whiplash effect on my neck as I could feel pain when I turn my head. So the long journey home was rather painful now and again when the car bounced or jerked.

As usual, I kept thinking of “why it happened?” as being superstitious, I always believe there is a reason. Apart from the worst that could have happened: like myself died while my 3 children are in UK; my injury prevented me from going on the trip in July; I also thought of “what a way to get to know Teo Poh Oon’s office! I did not know if it was him until the accident and the treatment by the doctor who happens to know him!

The other strange thing was that I just got a call, out of the blue (within 24 hours of our return) from an ex-classmate, wanting to include us in his application for agricultural land in Kelantan! It was our first trip to KB! Earlier, when in KB, I was quite surprised there was a write-up on PAS in The Star. In this morning’s paper, again, there are a few write-ups on Kelantan.

Something is brewing there!

Police technique to handle MBA students

One night 4 MBA students were boozing till late night and did not study for the test which was scheduled for the next day.

In the morning, they thought of a plan. They made themselves look as dirty and wierd as they could with grease and dirt.

They then went up to the Dean and said that they had gone to a wedding dinner the night before and on their return, a tyre of their car punctured and they had to push the car all the way back. They pleaded that they were in no condition to take the test.

The Dean was a just person. So he agreed for them to take another test after 3 days. They said they would be ready by that time.

On the third day, they appeared before the Dean. The Dean said that this test could be done only if they agreed to a special condition. All four were required to sit in separate classrooms for the test.

All of them agreed as they had prepared well in the last three days.

The test consisted of 2 questions with total of 100 marks:

Q.1. Write down your name. (2 marks)

Q.2. Which tyre had punctured? (98 marks)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Right attitude makes the difference

A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said,"Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like. "The Lord led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in.

In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew which smelled delicious and made the holy man's mouth water. The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly.

They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths.

The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, "You have seen Hell."

They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man's mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.

The holy man said, "I don't understand."

It is simple" said the Lord, "it requires just one skill. You see, they have learned to feed each other. While the greedy think only of themselves.

Moral: "Its people's attitude that makes this earth, a hell or heaven to them!!"

Water load of rubbish?

It has been scientifically proven that if we drink one litre of water each day, at the end of the year we would have absorbed more than one kilo of Escherichia Coli Bacteria (often called E.Coli) found in water that contains faeces.

In other words, we are consuming one kilo of shit. However, we do not run that risk when drinking rum, gin, whiskey, beer, wine or other liquors because alcohol has to go through a distillation process of boiling, filtering and fermentation.

It is my duty to communicate to all of you people who are drinking water, to stop doing so. It has been scientifically proven that it is unhealthy and bad for you.

THEREFORE…It is better to drink alcohol and talk shit than to drink water and be full of shit!!!

YAM SENG!!!

Promises were meant to be broken

I have often heard tenants promising my dad that at any time he wants them to vacate, they will do so. How naïve we had been as events turned out.

My dad died in 1982 and by 1985 we decided to issue eviction notices to all the tenants. One or two had been with us for more than 25 years. Perhaps their rationale was that the promise was given to the old man and not to his children.

My dad had been very kind by charging his ‘lou kawan’ or old friends, below market rates, some even less than a third that charged by a neighbouring landowner. For eg. for a lot size of 18’x30’, we were charging only Rm150 when the neighbour was charging about Rm500. Our reliance on the tenants’ verbal promise costed us dearly in terms of trouble and delay, in addition to reduced earnings over the years.

With the benefit of hindsight, it was clear that our kindness in charging a low rental worked to our disadvantage. The tenants were better off not acceding to our demand to vacate because at a later date, if and when the judgement was in our favour, the double rental payable by them would still be lower than if they were to leave and find an alternate place at 3 times what they were paying then.

On the other hand, had we been more calculative, we could have increased the rentals every year until they could not take it and leave on their own accord.

Out of 14 tenants, only 3 were gentlemen enough to keep to their words. One of them happened to be a ‘taiko’ in Kepong which made us more appreciative of his gesture. Another, from Jinjang, had my admiration when he rushed to the mining pond upon hearing about our neighbour’s drowning and jumped into it without hesitation to look for the body. The third one happened to be Ha Tham’s son-in-law, also in the tractor repair business.

Among the 11 tenants who decided to contest our Notice to vacate, was a son of one of dad’s best friends, the electrician. His action was considered by those who knew the history of our relationship, to be most ungrateful.

Years after his dad refused to accept my dad’s tenancy offer of a house and workshop, he accepted a part of our own workshop to operate as a motor electrician. A place to keep his tools and charge some batteries. Initially, his dad was furious as he lost a capable assistant. Only after a few years was he appreciative of his son’s move when the latter could afford to buy a car and a house.

A tenant who was in the electro-plating business actually tried to smear our reputation. I can still remember it was a Hari Raya Haji holiday and I was in Batu Gajah (my wife and children live with my in-laws then). By the time I reached the office, I was shocked to read the Star with a headline “The long legal tussle between landlord and tenants took a turn for the worse when one of the workshops was set on fire.” It carried a photo of one of Ha Tham’s sons looking at a window and a motor oil can was below it, on the ground. The gist of the report mentioned how the tenant was about to close shop for the day when he noticed the window burning and found an empty tin and some matches. To refute the misleading report, I immediately wrote a letter to the Star which in effect said that if we had the intention to burn the place down, we would have chosen a time when there was nobody around and not even before they closed for the day! The Star published my letter but it was nothing in terms of size compared with the report and photo.

Another tenant, who was in coachbuilding business really took us for fools. On the one hand, he joined the others in the legal battle because his own premises was not ready. After having lost the final appeal at the Supreme Court, he asked if he could just pay the normal rental for the period! For some reasons, even though he was already a millionaire, he chose to be declared a bankrupt as a result of his judgment debt amounting to some Rm76,000. It was only after a few years that he regretted it, when at the airport, he was disallowed departure on an overseas trip!

An ex-classmate of mine took a special interest in his case. It was only later that I found out that he used to be their employee and since he became our tenant, was their competitor and had actually ‘potong jalan’ or took over one of their major customers. Years later, my friend had the last laugh when they secretly took over the company (Kee Hup) and terminated his services.

By the time we issued the notice to vacate, Ha Tham Engineering was under the control of his son who was a bad paymaster. Once he was taken to court when his employees complained about non-payment of EPF contributions. He was our biggest tenant in terms of rental. After the final appeal, his judgment debt totaled more than Rm160,000. Again, he rather be declared a bankrupt.

One spraypainter even commented, “I rather fight and be a bankrupt than to give in”
At the time, DAP’s Low Sek Moah was helping them. In fact, their first lawyer was Henry Lee, a DAP lawyer. Their last was Low Hop Bing who was a Federal counsel before he started his practice and now a Judge.

At the time, I was upset with the involvement of DAP. I asked Dr.Tan Chee Khoon for advice and he suggested that I see Dr Tan Seng Giaw. The latter actually told me that his party always support those who carry more votes, like in our case, the tenants. One of the things I found out about him was that he did his course in Leeds and lived near the hostel where I used to be.

Out of the 11 who contested our notice, 3 paid their judgement debts while the rest were declared bankrupts. We had to write off almost Rm500,000. The case took 5 years from Magistrate Court, High Court to Supreme Court. The action to recover judgment debts took another 3 years. Besides the time wasted, it affected me greatly in terms of my great disappointment over human relationships – so-called old friends, ingratitude, promises which meant nothing and so on. At the end, I even fell out with our lawyer, James, because of the delays, which was not his fault. But the pressure on me took its toll.

During the period when there was controversy over eviction of tenants in rent-controlled premises in Penang, I wrote to Aliran and the letter was published, highlighting our circumstances and asked whether we, as decent landlords (always perceived to be bullying), or the tenants, were the actual victims.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Another form of courier service

The madam opened the brothel door to see a rather dignified, well-dressed good looking man in his late 40s or early 50s. "May I help you?" she asked.

"I want to see Natalie," the man replied.

"Sir, Natalie is one of our most expensive ladies. Perhaps you would prefer someone else," said the madam.

"No. I must see Natalie," was the man's reply. Just then, Natalie appeared and announced to the man that she charged $1,000 a visit.

Without hesitation, the man pulled out ten one-hundred dollar bills, gave them to Natalie, and they went upstairs.

After an hour, the man calmly left. The next night, the same man appeared again, demanding to see Natalie. Natalie explained that no one had ever come back two nights in a row--too expensive--and there were no discounts. The price was still $1,000.

Again the man pulled out the money, gave it to Natalie and they went upstairs. After an hour, he left.

The following night the man was there again. Everyone was astounded that he had come for the third consecutive night, but he paid Natalie and they went upstairs.

After their session, Natalie questioned the man."No one has ever used me three nights in a row. Where are you from?" she asked.

The man replied, "Palm Coast."

"Really" she said. "I have family in "Palm Coast."

"I know," the man said. "Your father died, and I am your sister's attorney. She asked me to give you your $3,000 inheritance."

The moral of the story is that three things in life are certain:

1. Death
2. Taxes
3. Being screwed by a lawyer.