Saturday, December 31, 2011

Squat to Good Health

I really cannot remember when I started sitting instead of squatting when I have to visit the toilet. I guess it would be some 35 years ago after I left home to be in the big city and gotten the experience of nice hotel and airport toilets.

This is from my earlier post,

"Right at the back of the house was the bathroom and an adjoining squatting toilet. The bathroom was only build before mid 1960s. It was in this bathroom that I practiced my singing skills. I did not know if my neighbors ever complained of my singing. There were no electric heaters in those days so when I needed hot water, like when I was unwell, my mother would boil a kettle of hot water and mix in the cold water for me to bath in. The toilet (it was actually a latrine) was not a place to stay in for long as it stank from the faeces that were collected once every week by the nightsoil lorry. Years later, around 1975, when a sitting toilet was installed everybody was relieved. I guess that was a sign of progress."

As I already left home in 1966 I never really used a sitting toilet when I was in my hometown. I was a squatter in my youth. Even in Form 6 and university the houses I stayed in still had squatting toilets because they were built in the 1960s or earlier when sitting toilets were not yet fashionable. It was a 'white man's' invention that we Chinese found alien to adapt but as time passes we did, we discovered it was more hygienic and pleasant to lower ourselves halfway rather than all the way. And less chance of wetting our pants too.

After I graduated in 1971 and stayed in different houses I cannot recall being a 'sitting duck' inside a cubicle. Worse I cannot recall when it was I momentously enjoyed my very first moment of shitting sitting rather than squatting. Perhaps it wasn't an event worth recalling to be remembered but in hindsight I should have documented it somewhere because thereafter I disliked squatting. Maybe it reminded me of the poorer and less sophisticated past, maybe fewer squatting toilets exist to be discovered in an emergency when you need to 'do your business'. But recently when I was at the Changi International Airport I was pleasantly surprised to discover they have a squatting toilet which I chose to use unhesitatingly. It was cleaner although it took me more efforts to get down and get up.

Over the years as I grow older I got used to sitting because it becomes increasingly harder to squat even if I choose to. Mild obesity and weak knees are justifying excuses. However using sitting toilets in public facilities turns me off unless disposable paper seat covers are provided. In an emergency I confess to using many pieces of toilet papers to protect my bump from the unclean toilet seat. In a most dirty scenario when previous users had already dirtied the seat I'd had no choice but lift it up and squat on top. Gratefully all those toilets have successfully bored my weight and not cracked. There should be a disclaimer of no liability or maximum allowable carrying weight.

Today I read an online article claiming the virtues of squatting over sitting and analyzing the rationale I agree completely. I don't have the website but the article was written by a Stephanie Relfe. She explains:

The anal canal is UNSTRAIGHTENED when seated. Bowel evacuation when seated results frequently in OBSTRUCTIVE CONSTIPATION. Adopt a relaxed, FULL SQUAT POSTURE and the anal canal STRAIGHTENS. In a sitting position the puborectalis muscle chokes the rectum causing incontinence. Squatting relaxes that muscle and straightens the rectum allowing smoother and faster voiding of the feces. (Last two sentences slightly edited).

I wish to add another reason. When one squats we compress our intestinal cavity which help and assist squeezing of the feces as well as requiring less push.

The design of modern toilets must be modified to encourage squatting and aiding senior and handicapped users to squat with suitable handrails. Maybe someone can design a combination sit-squat toilet which can be lowered-raised at will. Alternatively in homes with more then one toilet, designate one to be a squat type.

I don't know if sitting contributes to pile development or as the author suggested rising cases of colon cancers caused by poor diet and lack of exercises. But I do believe that if we squat more we can achieve a healthier body. It was after all the only way our ancestors knew each time they answered the calls of nature.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Next Anwar Ibrahim?

Reading THIS report you may think so. This mild looking young man has the fire and anger against the ruling regime to literally point his middle finger up and say, 'You sucks!'. Taking down the flag that bore a likeness to the Prime Minister Najib Razak is a challenge to the authorities to come get me as well as a protest against self glorification that has become the culture of the government of the day. This act will be the Malaysian Spring movement. The world over it has always been the student movements that spoil the dream of dictators. Anwar tried that on Dr Mahathir and was jailed. When his mega influence refuses to die and became a real threat to Najib, a similar attempt is now made to re-jail him on a similar charge, a pathetic and unimaginative strategy to get rid of a pimple that refuses to die. Wait for the coming January 9 judgement if he will indeed be jailed, or freed, and watch the drama of Malaysian politics unfurl thereafter.

The Adam Adlis of Malaysia is not going to be one man's attempts to bring about changes. It used to be fought on the streets and the police resorted to water cannons and tear gas. The worrying question is will they do the same on the campuses round the nation when students start to riot? In small bands, within residential colleges, in the canteens and lecture halls? Gathering momentum and steam until they grow into a campus wide movement? It is not a pretty sight to have the authorities striking at the very cream of the nation (sorry, the cream are overseas and unlikely to return). In all likelihood Adam Adli will not be punished but brainwashed to join the elites that have ruled this country for 54 years. Will he fall for the carrot? Or will the towering enigma of Anwar Ibrahim encourages and strengthens his resolve to make sure Malaysia will not fall to the wolves again? Looks like we will be seeing an exciting start to 2012. Stay tuned!

Update January 1, 2011: Looks like the police has started acting against student protesters. Faster than I thought. Read HERE.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Good Choices Change Lives

I was quite taken in by the below article shared with me by a friend so I'd like to share with you too. If I were much younger I'd like to be guided by it, not that I'm not contended with my life but, hey, who says life is perfect?

Life is full of choices and opportunities. However, some choices will have a greater impact on your life than others. There are a few choices that will dramatically impact the quality of your life no matter when you make that choice.

So one must know them and the best of them!

Friendships: If there is any area in life where you should choose wisely, it would be your friendships. Numerous studies have shown that you become a byproduct of the people you surround yourself with. If you surround yourself with losers, then you’re well on your way to becoming one. If you surround yourself with winners, then you’re on your way to becoming one. Another thing that you want to do is chose friends who reinforce your positive self image. There’s a big difference between friends who joke about you endearingly versus those who seem to get their rocks off by putting you down. If you have some toxic friends, it’s time to detox!

(My note: Better to have 3 good friends than 30. You never know what the other 27 wants out of you.)

Careers: Making the choice between passion and practicality is something you really should take seriously in your career. I didn’t do it in my younger years and as a result my life was miserable in numerous ways. My health deteriorated, I was depressed, and I was always angry or anxiety ridden. A career takes up a significant part of your life, up to 65% of your day in many cases. If you hate what you do, then think about what kind of things you are going to attract into your life. The majority of your time, energy, and thoughts are being directed to your misery. It’s a simple application of the law of attraction at work.

(My note: A perfect career fit is possible if you are willing to listen to what your family, teachers and good friends say about your personality, strength and weakness. Add on your love in life and go on a discovery trip that will surely make you love life even more.)

Relationships: Your choice in relationships not only alters the quality of your life, but the quality of someone else’s. So, if you make a bad choice you run the risk of making two people’s lives miserable. Of course the opposite is true as well. If you make the right choice then you double the joy that goes out into the world and bring more of it back to you. Have you ever noticed how at the beginning of a relationship when you start dating somebody, everything seems too be perfect. You have a great time together and everything goes smoothly and you seem to be on a roll of attracting positive experiences into your life. Then, you stop getting along, and everything else goes to hell too. So, make sure you choose wisely.

(My note: Don't ever believe that you can change to please your partner. That's a delusion. Instead ask early if both of you can accept each other the way you are. Be honest and practical. You are looking at a relationship with a very long expiry date!)

Reactions: This is the most overlooked choice that one has! It has been said over and over that life is not about what happens to you, but how you react to what happens to you. Once we learn how to control our reactions to everything that happens we manage to achieve complete control over our lives. We are no longer impacted by circumstances and events because we are choosing our reactions.

(My note: Don't we subconsciously live for others instead of making the best of our life? It may be cultural and what we are taught to be sacrificial. Somewhere along our life, especially when we realize we are old, we wish and hope we had been a little selfish to keep some of our lives for ourselves rather than giving them all away. If we can't love and pamper ourselves how can we be better in loving others?)


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

One Kid, 6 Names

Jian Sheng, Andrew, TJS, Boy, Tee Tee, Mat Rempit. OK the last one shouldn't be in but mentioned in passing because of his aggressive riding habit/style. My youngest grandson who will turn 23 months old after Christmas is called by different names by different members of the family. Father calls him Jian Sheng, mother calls him Boy, Popo calls him Boy or Jian Sheng, Gung (me) calls him by more names, Jian Sheng, Andrew or TJS his name initials, and sister Grace calls him Tee Tee or Boy. Of late he's acquired Mat Rempit as his nickname due to the way he ride his tricycle round and round the house, cutting corners, banging into chairs and tables and eating into adult paths, creating a ruckus. And parking in the middle of doorways blocking our ways through. Worse his favorite trick is riding his tricycle over toys, cushions, mattresses, books, etc with the destructive joy of demolishing them.

How to describe him? Naughty? Mischievous? Dare-devil? Reckless? Destructive? Getting angry at him would be our natural reactions but when we see him grinning back at most we'd smack his backside or pull him away. The tricycle has seen better days and with the foot paddle slight bent it will break down anytime. Little fella is mechanical minded. He'd turn the tricycle up and check for loose screws and bolts. He loved pumping up and down the seat until the bolt gets loosened. He gets upset fighting over the tricycle with older sister Grace. The house cannot accommodate 2 rowdy kids and 2 bicycles, it will surely turn into a war zone!

Andrew loves airplanes and cars. Not surprised if he grow up to be a pilot or automotive engineer. Every time he hears a distant din he'd point excitedly to the skies like Tattoo of Fantasy Island would cry out 'Airplane, Airplane'. To encourage his love for them I'd download pictures of commercial and jet planes and place them as slideshow on my PC and iPad. He's more vocal by the day and I believe by his 2nd birthday he'll be able to hold a simple conversation.

I Love Pomegranate

Eversince I learned of the potential benefits of this fruit towards the treatment of prostate cancer and related hazards I planted a tree inside my house compound some 5 years ago hoping to harvest enough fruits to either eat raw or making into drinks. Unfortunately due to poor soil condition all the fruits I got were small and the seeds had thin and sometime bitter tasting pulp. It took efforts to break open the fruit and extract the seeds and after several years I was given a few larger and pulpier fruits that taste sweet by my sister-in-law who bought them from a night market in Kuala Lumpur. I began to take a dislike towards my tree not only because of the smallish fruits but also because of the thorns that can potentially hurt my grandchildren running around the yard. So a year ago I got my gardener to cut it down.

A few months ago my daughter in Petaling Jaya discovered a stall in the local night market selling similar pomegranate fruits I like. They are about 8-10 cm diameter and cost around RM3 each. She bought me a pack and since then whenever we visit or she return to visit us we'll buy about 10 fruits when they are available.

Eating pomegranate seeds is fun especially to my grand daughter Grace who likes to suck out the juice from each seed. For me it has to go into my mouth by the handful.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Four Grandkids Together

Today is the first time this year that all my four grandchildren are together spending time with each other mainly because it is school holiday. Previous to this the meetings were short and the children could not enjoy themselves in a recreational place. Grace loves the RK Park where I now go for my regular morning workout. She loves it for the swings and slides that she don't have to fight over with other kids as this park is not as well frequented as the City Park we used to go before because there was a man made lake with lots of fishes to be fed. So today, when her cousins Victoria and William arrived to stay a few days she asked if they can all go to the RK Park and we couldn't resist as the weather was cool at about 5pm. So after a quick snack all four of them, including baby Andrew, youngest at 22+ months, jumped into Victoria's mom car and off we went.

Honestly I've not seen my grandchildren enjoy themselves as much. They climbed, they slide, they swung and they ran. Being the cautious grandparents we are we followed them and shouted words of caution and do all we could to keep them safe from any fall or injury. Today I realized my older grandchildren are capable of heights we were afraid for them. After awhile we started trusting them. Only little Andrew needed supervision as he thinks the park belongs to him. I will always remember 'jogging' along with him for about 30 meters.

This evening they skyped with their uncle in the States, took a visual tour of his house and 'see' little cousin brother growing in their auntie's tummy.

Below are some memorable pictures of my grandchildren all taken very recently.

Above three pictures of Grace and Andrew enjoying their tricycle in the driveway.

Grace and Andrew enjoy helping me clean the car.

Andrew is the honorary page turner.

The school shoes belong to sister Grace but Andrew claimed first right to them.

The four grandchildren enjoying themselves in the RK Park.

Skyping with Uncle Julian and Auntie Winnie

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas in My Heart

I am unlike millions of Christians who join the throng of shoppers and diners during christmastime. Maybe I have little space in my house or really have little interest to accumulate things, maybe I am becoming more health conscious, or maybe I just think Christmas is more of satisfying the heart than the body. Don't get me wrong, I used to shop and dine in my younger days but now feel less inclined toward them. Occasionally going beyond the norm is acceptable but on moderate scales. I really prefer Christmas to be a time to enjoy my good fortune to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It was 30 years ago I accepted and followed Him and never turned my back. Yes, I sidetracked but I got back in line. Today I'm glad to be where I am as far as my faith is concerned because I know when it is time to go, I know where I will be heading. Home with my Saviour.

I've attended 2 Christmas dinners so far, the first organized by my church, the second 2 days ago by a political party for the Christian community in my hometown. The moods at both functions were starkly different and differently motivated. The third Christmas dinner is really going to be a wedding dinner to be held on Christmas evening. In fact we were invited to 2 dinners at the same time and venue but can only be in one. Perhaps the wedded couples want to have double celebrations each year on the common day. Having Christmas this year falling on Sunday makes the choice easier.

I had a Christmas tree bought a long time ago but in good condition. Almost every year I'd set it up to create the festive mood. Yet Christmas sadly reminds me it is time to set up new wall and desk calendars for the coming year. As well as consider my report card for the disappearing year. I'm glad my health is holding up, I'm still faithfully blogging and still the same person I was a year ago. Great anxieties facing senior people centre on changes they cannot face courageously. I hope to stay young in my heart and live up to the name my father gave me, which translates from Mandarin as Spring Every Year.

We are a fortnight away to the closure of a difficult yet hopeful year worldwide. People died and families suffered in quakes, floods, fires and civil violence. Financial crises forced nations and their citizens into insecure territories. People yearn to trust their yesteryears when lives were perceived kinder, stabler and safer. Future is feared because of great unknowns. Yet hope arise for those who dare to challenge the forces of evil and unrighteousness. I pray that justice will arrive in the new year for those deprived and oppressed. Inspite of the dark clouds of winters and stormy weathers there remain the sun behind the clouds to shine through and warm us. Be strong and optimistic.

Blessed Christmas. Peace and Joy to the World. Happy and Properous New Year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Glorious Monday

I was a little late in rising at 7.30am but soon I was on my way to the park. I brought along my Galaxy Ace headset. There were several cars at the park and a group of ladies were performing their jazzercise. As I moved to the jogging track I set up my headset and plug in to my assorted music collections stored in the SD card. The morning air was damp, it had drizzled hours ago. My wife said to wear a cap to keep my head dry. She's a thoughtful wife. As we couldn't find one I said to skip it for now.

'Something Good' was a song that came over the headphone, by Herman's Hermits and I thought how true. Life should be lived in expectation of something good happening. Christmas is round the corner, and is something good for mankind. A song from the 50s titled 'Washington Square Dance' took me back to the 70s when I tried to dance. I was hopeless but nevertheless still harbor the thought that I can dance a bit like Michael Jackson, or move my hip like Elvis Presley or jive like Cliff Richard who next sang 'It's All In A Game'. I wonder if life is really a game that people play? Sadly some do and use people to their selfish advantages.

As I jogged I passed a lady sitting on a park bench, her wheelchair nearby. We smiled. I guess she wished she too could walk the park as her daughter was doing on her own. As I gazed up the skies and watched the morning swallows soared above, it was then my turn to wish I could be there among them too.

All too soon my time is up and I wound down, rinsed my hands using water from a bottle in my car, and drove home. It is a good start to a new day and a new week. I feel privileged.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

How the Weekend Passed!

It's close to midnight and in awhile soon it will be Monday. Thank God I'm not working and can afford the luxury (perhaps I should call it earned privilege) to enjoy flexi time but I should get to bed soon to get up early for my morning walk in the park. I promised myself to be fit to handle my exuberant grandkids. In this sense grandparents really have to keep up physically to stay in their physical world.

Last (Saturday) night we as a family attended the church's Christmas Family Dinner comprising selected hawker/street food. It was a great idea as the layout allowed good mingling for the nearly 400 participants who showed up. For RM15 I got to eat 7-8 types of food which command a retail value of over RM20 so it was a good deal. My tummy added an extra inch, not a healthy weekend habit to repeat. So it was a relief Christmas comes only once a year!

Today (Sunday) after church we drove to Kuala Lumpur to visit relatives as well as our regular Chinese physician Dr Yap. I got to supervise Andrew a bit and discovered how great a little dynamite he is. Daily I ask how is it this guy who isn't yet 23 months is toddling about like a 3 year old kid? These days his speech is improving so fast that at this rate he can speak in full sentence by the time we celebrate his 2nd birthday. For now it is 4 syllable success.

We ended the day with a long skyping session with our son in the States. It wasn't planned but it was enjoyable. We got to see him and his dear wife live and well. We'll do this more often until we visit them next year.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sayonara My Office

I remember in August 1988 I moved into my office when I started my glove business. It was a small partition off an entire floor which today is fully taken up so we have grown in a sense. I remember where I used to sit and the executive desk and swivel chair I occupied. Several years ago I vacated into a smaller room so that my executive office could be used for a growing number of management staff. Suddenly we are not that spacious but cramped, like what I used to see in lawyer and accountant offices. And everyone has a workstation. I remember when I started off we had just one desktop PC and one dot matrix printer. Were we ancient by comparison today!

Since I changed status last year I no longer go into my office regularly like before. In fact I sneakily go in less and less often in the past few years, like a slow withdrawal, so my staff won't suddenly see nothing of me. But for the past months I had made a Houdini act, I disappeared!

What this means is I have to give up my office space since people are wondering why there is this unused real estate while everyone else are almost elbow to elbow, literally speaking. Plus my daughter was elevated and deserved a better spot. I took time to sort out what can be junked and what need to be kept. Today I completed the ritual. With the office closed for the weekend I went in and symbolically cleared stuffs I feel no pain in throwing out. However I have a set of varsity text books I am sentimentally attached to. I always think there is this 0.0001% likelihood I may need them if I decide to go back to varsity one day. You don't believe me? Anyway I kept a few as well as several management books I acquired over the years, books my daughter may want to read in her spare time. And the Chemistry books, maybe one day I'll show off some of the technical words you can't find in dictionaries or online!

There was no tears, no funny achy feeling (apart from my achy back) that an era is passed. Just the relief and satisfaction that my decision to go into business 23 years ago had given thousands of employees a chance to earn a living through us. For now, when I drive into the factory compound, I am still greeted by the security guard who recognized me. But 90% of the office staff don't recognize me, which don't bother me, so long as they do their work and help the company make money.

Home Alone ... With My Grandkids

To be honest I was anxious last weekend when my wife told me she wanted to look after her bedridden father and help out her sister who was expecting her first grandchild to be born soon. The plan involved me looking after Grace and Andrew for 3 afternoons. In the mornings their mother would prepare their porridge and bath them. I said to my wife and daughter, no problem, I can handle them, although both can gang up on me and bully poor grandpa. It would be challenging but why not?

Monday after lunch as my daughter drove away I quietly pondered how would I pass the next 5 to 6 hours unscathed. I was taught how to prepare their milk, where the powder and bottles were, when to feed them, when to put them to sleep and when to bath them and feed them porridge. Sounds easy. But I won't be dealing with regular obedient kids. Grace is past 4 but still want to behave like her little brother at just under 2 and hyperactive. Attention seeking and security deprived so I try to accommodate, to an extent. I was a little apprehensive if I could manage them, especially Andrew who require second to second supervision as he now grab anything within reach, open any cabinet he likes, play with utensils, sometimes roughly, rough ride his kiddy tricycle like a pro round and round the dining table. And when he gets bored and refuses to sleep I would be his manservant, being dragged to the front door and made to open it because he want to 'out, out' and when I explained it was hot and dusty (neighbor contractor still renovating the house) there he goes on the floor screaming hs protests. Or he would want his particular tv show - Mr Bean cartoon or Thomas and Friends. If that clash with what Grace wants to watch or my timed recording, another tantrum loomed. Fortunately we have a second tv set in the dining hall to pacify both of them.

When bored with tv I tried block games or puzzles but they find them overly familiar. Ah ha, they spotted my iPad or smartphone and Andrew would go 'a nee bird, a nee bird' which translate 'I want Angry Bird'. Sensing sibling rivalry over a gadget and my fear it could be mishandled I refused and another round of screaming confronted me. Throughout these encounters just remember I was always on the move, not only vertically but also squatting, bending and at times on fours. For a person my age it was a miracle I survived the first afternoon which ended with an enjoyable 'outing' in the gated compound and bath time. They love the water, especially the boy. The instance I announce it is time to bath, Andrew stripped naked in no time and waited for the shower to wet his slim body. Bathing both kids together is like juggling but having both liking this part of the day made the job easier although I was soaked wet too.

The bit that I dislike most is feeding them porridge and that part is also most physically strenuous. Grace still wanted spoon fed although she can easily feed herself. Attention seeking and demanding equal treatment as her little brother. Maybe grandma spoilt her or she is just her demanding self. She eats slow, real slow, perhaps 3 times slower than her brother because she can't swallow big mouthfuls. Andrew eat fast but also move faster - on his tricycle and I would be chasing him all over the house, from hall to dining to kitchen to hall. Phew! And sweaty. So it was an achievement when porridge is fed and my roster ended on day one. Survived but not looking forward to be a permanent house grandpa. Such job is meant for someone younger and more agile to handle active kids.

Day two was a little easier having learned from day one. But putting them to nap is another challenge. While Grace was better in this department Andrew just couldn't find a spot to really shut down. While I rested with the girl, she insisted I sleep next to her, Andrew roamed the house. Every other minute I'd call out or get out to check if he was naughty or endangering himself. He was curiously imaginative, playful and rough. He'd put stuffs into his mouth, play with toilet water, strip off his diapers and parade himself naked (the afternoons were quite warm) or bang his toys on the floor and table. I shudder at the thought of scratches on them, and worst, if he accidentally struck the glass door panes or tv screen. Fortunately he was reasonably well behaved. He did manage to nap, after his porridge.

Day three was supposed to have grandma return in the afternoon but plan changed so it was me and Grace and a kid named Andrew all over again. Actually it wasn't all bad except being the only adult around everything falls upon him, so I really understand the pressure my wife had all these past 6 years looking after grandchildren one after another, while attending to many other chores. I really salute her capability and endurance, and great love and sacrifice for the children.

Finally the day arrived for us to fetch grandma from the train station. That morning I took them for a drive. Andrew still need his car seat, strapped in, as he cannot sit still otherwise. The drive was to prepare them for another drive later in the morning to the train station. Back home I bathed them at 10 and fed them porridge and soon the phone rang. Grandma would arrive in 20 minutes! The kids were excited. I made their milk. Grace sat up front next to me, Andrew strapped down in the back. I passed him his bottle, not sure if he'd drink or play or drop it to the floor. As I drove out of the driveway I shifted the rear mirror on Andrew. He was quiet and surveyed the view outside. Then he lifted the bottle to his mouth and I quietly smiled. The drive would be OK, I told myself. Grace held to her bottle and told me she'd drink on the drive home.

At the station all three of us were excited and happy to have grandma back after 3 days away, her longest absence. We're sure she missed home too.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

What's Tony's Game Plan?

There were enough headlines involving Tony Fernandes of Air Asia in the recent week that followers of the spat between him and MAHB or Malaysia Airport has become bored. I thought the public quarrels have become childish especially with Air Asia leading a fight against hike in airport taxes and using his personal car to plaster posters when MAHB removed them from the airport buildings. Point taken and it seems MAHB is cowered for misprojecting KLIA2 to be even larger than KLIA. Wasn't it supposed to be only a low cost carrier terminal which suddenly grow into a full fledge airport with runways able to accept A380?

Today I was surprised by the 2 page advertisement announcing Air Asia's 10th anniversary and its proud achievements. It is a good boast for a Malaysian company. But I am even more surprised by THIS news that Tony plans to step down. Was he strengthening his airline with the recent developments of Air Asia squirreling into MAS via a share swap that some people believed there was some impropriety on the part of Air Asia? And the fight with MAHB to contain the airport tax as well as a demand for a Service Level Agreement from them? Now Tony announced his retirement from the airline he founded 10 years ago. Remember a month ago Tony announced he plan to start up a premium airline to be called Caterham Jet? Well, I googled and found Tony owns Caterham Group that build racing cars and he himself is principal of Team Lotus. Looks like Tony is starting a new airline under his flagship and growing a new niche. For a guy who loves challenges (and Air Asia is no longer challenging after 10 years) stepping out is the natural thing to do. THIS NEWS about MAS launching its own premium airline next year claimed no connection with Caterham Jet. For two premium airlines from two competing Malaysian airlines operating under different productivity environment and management culture no guess which will succeed. For Caterham Jet, Tony is probably bandying a new tagline to befit the new flying experience. How about 'Flying High' or 'Fly in Style'? Or better still, 'If You Have The Money, You Can Fly'.

Update: Tony denies HERE he is resigning. Nonetheless signs are pointing to a management transition, if not next year certainly 2013 or 2014. Every great organization require leadership change to bring it to greater heights.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Most People Retire Half His Age

Read THIS.

Back in my schooldays movies were either from Hong Kong or Hollywood. Never had movies from Bollywood, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan or China. Those made in Hong Kong were from either Cathay Organization or Shaw Brothers. Today lots of martial arts movie reruns are from SB and brought back sweet memories. I am of course surprised that Sir Run Run Shaw is still alive at 104 and still working! And that he look this youthful save his sunken cheeks makes me want to believe that work really keep a person active, healthy and youthful. I am 40 years younger but already retired from active employment so I really admire Mr. Shaw. Till today I still don't know why his name is Run Run, maybe direct translation from his Chinese name. The other senior person in his 80s I admire and still actively in corporate services is Public Bank's executive chairman, Tan Sri Dr Teh Hong Piow. Both gentlemen are iconic to the empires they founded.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Do We Need 5 Star Airport?

Thanks to Tony Fernandes, the big boss of Air Asia, who is crusading against Malaysia Airports, the corporation that operates Malaysian airports, for raising airport taxes without justification of better services and facilities (read HERE as well) we should start asking why do we need airport that is iconic and extravagant. Tony has the clout because Air Asia is a key client of Malaysian airports, especially LCCT and KLIA2 that is projected to be ready in April 2013 replacing LCCT and he doesn't believe air travelers should be made to pay higher taxes than necessary. The concern is why do we need airports that go beyond its purpose of accommodating departing and arriving air travelers. In an earlier blog I question the need for the airports to be turned into a shopping mall for duty free goods or with grandiose designs. It seems the world over, especially those showy type of governments who think a palatial airport design will impress arriving travelers to revisit their countries, airports being usually the first physical structure that greet them from the air or upon landing. Unfortunately with air travel common place now we rather have airports that help us clear quickly to our flights and from our flights without the frills, delays and higher costs.

I disagree that airports be over designed that the operators seek to recover the additional costs by raising taxes. I have been to several U.S. airports, both international and domestic that are pleasantly laid out and not screaming for attention. Airport arrival and departure halls should be functional and practical. not necessarily opulent. Airport operators should carry their business as a public service and not as a profit centre. Otherwise this trend will extend to bus, train and ferry terminals that passengers will be forced to pay terminal taxes when all they want is pay the fares to get from A to B. We are already paying highway taxes (called toll AND road taxes) and must not be burdened to pay supplementary related taxes that will push the cost of traveling by whatever mode even higher.

An example of an opulent airport, Dubai International Airport.

The Under-Utilized RK Park

The Rasah Kemayan Community Park declared open in March 2010 by the Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) is meant to be a boon to residents who appreciate a proper spot for outdoor activities. Sadly it has not been as well frequented as the larger City Park in Seremban 2 with a man-made lake and better jogging track and kids' playgrounds. Still residents should appreciate this community project built for us. Although the park has not been well maintained, with signs of breakdown and vandalism and uncivil behavior of some users who litter the park grounds, the park is nonetheless a jewel that we should be proud of. After all, how many residential estates can have a proper recreation ground suitable for young and old alike?

Over the past week my wife and I made it a point to rise up early (it does take some efforts especially for me) and after a warm drink drive the 5 minutes distance to the empty but safe park (joggers only start appearing after 7.30am when it is brighter) and begin by warming up with a slow but brisk walk around the park's concrete pathway or climb the steps. This prime our hearts and legs and help build our lungs. The morning air is fresh and clean, which is a joy and privilege in this purely residential township. As we have less than an hour to exercise before going back to prepare for the arrival of our grandchildren, we spend some 30 minutes at the exercising equipment area where we work on our legs, hip, knees, neck, wrists and shoulders. I particularly like the hand wheel that massage my shoulders, neck and upper back to the pressure and intensity I decide. It is really invigorating! I can attest that after a few days of disciplined morning exercises I feel more alert and fit. And better appetite for my breakfast!

We plan to continue daily except on weekends and when it rains, or threatens to rain. Alternatively we will go in the evenings with our grandchildren in tow for they too are outdoor type and love the swings and slides.

The below pictures were taken this morning when it was misty but fresh.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 (Amended) Passed

Today the above bill was passed by Barisan MPs only (all Opposition MPs walked out) in the face of protests by the Bar Council. Report HERE.

In hindsight we all will look back to today as one when we lost our freedom to gather publicly to display our disapproval to the various aspects of our livelihood. Yes, we can gather but conditionally and restrictively, and we will be at the mercy and mood of the police and Home Minister to make discretionary decisions. I doubt this is the end of the tale. Rather it is the start of another round of civil unrest when civil rights groups and concerned citizens brave the risks of arrests and physical harms to demonstrate to the government that it is unwise to mess with the rights to assemble publicly. The soft impact on the ordinary citizens is yet unknown but may quietly translate into electoral protests which the government has little control over. In all probability, before the new general election is to be held, BERSIH 3.0 may be activated. For sure this new law is ammunition for the Opposition to bring down the government. It was a grave mistake to rush through this bill when there is so much apprehension and resistance.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Tide Turns

I just wish to mark my blog that this weekend the political tide in Malaysia has turned in favor of Pakatan Rakyat to claim victory at the upcoming general election believed to be held early next year. Never has PR been so bold as to predict victory in a state it has not won before (Johor) and declaring Anwar Ibrahim as the 7th prime minister. With the Barisan government blundering over the usage of English in Maths and Science, and now agreeing to amend the Peaceful Assembly Bill heavily condemned and rejected by majority of Malaysians, it show its incompetence and lack of foresight in decision making. Worse of all it has shown its arrogance in promulgating policy changes without due consultations with concerned NGOs and later salvaging its pride by acceding to their demands. Personally I cannot trust such a government to take us through these difficult times. I predict that PR will be installed as the new government with a simple majority, taking most of the states with large urban populations and two or more majority malay states. The FELDA Global proposed listing next year may cost Barisan the state of Pahang or a simple victory in the state assembly as this goes against the wishes of the settlers. Perak will be regained if PR puts Nizar back as the chief minister. He was unceremoniously ousted in a power grab in 2009.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Class Reunion Trigger

It was just over a year ago (HERE) that our first class reunion was held and was attended by friends and their wives from near and far. The trigger from this first reunion created smaller group reunions such as those organized and occasioned by weddings. Yesterday I met up with seven classmates, one of them, David, for the very first time since we lost touch after 1967.

My ex-class monitor, Kao, took great pain in persuading many more to come. Three others could have come but for reasons best known to them declined. At 10am I was at Kao's house to chat with him and two other classmates, Meng Yew and Kheng Hoi came later. All too soon it was noon and they bundled into my car and off we drove to the Crocodile Farm Seafood Restaurant about 10 minutes away. It looked the same as it was the last time I was there, perhaps 12 years ago? I can't remember, but it was to entertain a customer, that I am sure. Upon arrival we took a quick picture outside and soon a Mercedes drove up and out popped a young man in jeans. From an earlier picture circulated with him in full suit with his family, David looked familiarly the same as the class picture in our 1965 school magazine called the Loyal Pioneer. His grim was still there and we greeted and hugged. David Ngu is a cheerful bloke and as promised he lugged 3 bottles of red wine selected from Cold Storage. Must be expensive we dare not ask. We joked that we have two cows here (no reference to the cow condos or the cattle feedlot scandal now brewing in the nation) as David's 'Ngu' sound like 'cow' in our native Foochow.

We gathered inside and as the first bottle was opened we chatted while munching roasted peanuts, nibbled fried baby cuttlefish and drinking the wine and chinese tea. We were like chatty wives, non-stop exchange of views and stories among the five of us. Over the next hour three more (Meng Song, Eddie Seow and Henry Lim) joined and over lunch and two hours later (we held up the waitresses until nearly 4pm) we gave each other our best and were reluctant to leave. David quietly settled the bill although we have decided to go Dutch while he provide the wine. I suppose he was overwhelmed by the nostalgia of this simple but meaningful reunion. We all had our rounds of chatting with another classmate, Naik Chu King, who was unable to come. Before we depart plans are already floated to meet during Chinese New Year 2012 or All Souls Day 2012 in Sitiawan. Those of us who can make it are invited.

It is unlikely for us to gather in large numbers such as in November last year, but to do so in 5s and 10s will be more meaningful and practical as we can share more personally. Here are some pictures of our meet.

Root Course of Public Disorder

Why would anyone waste efforts and time to criticize a government whether to the media or take his case to a physical audience such as street protests? Why would citizens travel across the nation to Occupy Wall Street in New York? Why would people risks limbs and lives to demonstrate in the capital squares of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria and as well as Kuala Lumpur? Are people easily instigated, even paid to throw stones at riot squads? Why are today's generation as well as some from mine feel agitated and troubled enough to take a hardened stand against a government which has failed in its mandate to provide for a safe and progressive nation? The answer is centred on the line that there is growing disillusionment as well as perception that we have gone down the wrong road in nation building. Instead of growing we are retarding, instead of forwarding we are backpedaling, and watching the backslide is no longer a luxury we can afford because time is very much against us. Which is why the world over, when people feel a sense of dispair and hopelessness, the only choice left is to gather courage to bring the government down either though the poll or by demonstrations.

It is a shame that we don't belong to the category of favored nations where their citizens endorsed what their governments do as correct and continue to let them rule peacefully. For awhile now we are seeing spottings of street protests here which if continue would indicate changes have not happened or protesters are becoming restless. I believe while Malaysians can be emotional and disruptive, by and large, they are patient, easy going and accommodating. But when they fail to see improvements no one can be blamed should they choose to take their concerns up a notch, to the public domain, both physically and in cyber space.

These symptoms must be aggressively addressed, and done holistically. Somehow I see the government as reactive and act not so much as to restore public confidence in them but to curry for popular acceptance. The current Peaceful Assembly Bill being tabled is a grave mistake in frustrating those with legitimate concerns by denying them public avenue to draw attention. The bill seems to regulate public gatherings in an orderly manner in the ways the government and police decide. In short the bill is telling us how to function. We are living in a free country and for 54 years conditioned to the freedom of movement and expressions as provided for by the Constitutions. Therefore stifling the growing anger by passing a restrictive law doesn't make the issue or the problem disappear magically. Instead it can create a larger rumbling that become unmanageable. The government is reminded once again to engage those whom they don't like and don't agree instead of containing or ignoring them. Both actions can explode or implode.

Governments that have lost the confidence of the electorates are reasons for public disorders. It is wise for such governments to introspect to save themselves or find themselves in political wilderness.

Here is an extract from THIS blog I read.

I have never envisaged that one day I would see a more progressive Myanmar than my own country.

While we are debating the new freedom of Assembly Bill (which are full of restrictions of freedom), Myanmar has passed a law which is more progressive than us. That is from a regime which is touted as one of the most repressive states in the world.

If they are now still repressive, what makes us?

To hold a protest, the Myanmar authority needs to be informed ONLY 5 days in advance (Malaysia new bill: 30days). While in Malaysia, protests are not allowed in so many places that I just cannot recall the whole list,  in Myanmar  only 4 locations are not allowed for protests:  government buildings, schools, hospitals and embassies. Notice that they did not ban street protests, as that is perhaps one place where you do not need to spend a hefty sum to stage your protest.  Just compare yourself and make your own inference.

As I read the above an image appear to me. Myanmar is moving out of a tunnel of darkness while my own country that aspire to be developed in 2020 is heading into this tunnel. What is the government thinking?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Bad and Oppressive Law in the Making

I refer to the Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 that was just tabled in Parliament for debate. The PAB is drafted to replace the recently repealed Police Act 1967. Its successor is expected to accommodate the open and liberal society that is becoming the norm in every civilized and developed nations. Even the middle eastern nations that faced recent public demonstrations over the dictatorial regimes and overthrew some of them is proof that public dissent against injustice, real or perceived, cannot be contained by law and force should they reach a momentum that reel into a test of might. Many a government have been defeated by sheer objection and overpowering of the people power. How on earth can this government dare come forth with the PAB which restrict and constrict the right and freedom to congregate is mind boggling and regressive. If we ever want to claim a developed status in 9 years or so, tabling the PAB is a ill-conceived attempt by the present government to gain public support. If passed unchanged the PAB will send the nation back to the days when our movements are policed, or rather the police decides who has privileged assemblies and who doesn't. The impact is on every citizen.

THIS is the view of a very well respected lawyer. Another constructive view from the Bar Council HERE. I think we should protest against such a bill before it gets past the 2nd reading unchanged.

Update: at 3pm on November 26 I read HERE that the government, under heavy pressure and threats of public demonstrations, agree to amend the Bill. This show the government did not draft the Bill carefully and shows its weakness in succumbing to public pressure. Now, what we await is what changes will be made and if they be again amended?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

After Lipton

Lipton died November 9. We are now looking for another dog to reign the compound. My preferred choice is a labrador retriever which is similar to the more popular golden retriever but with shorter coat and hence easier to care. The other reason is a lab has good temperament to kids and non aggressive although it can bark and frighten away strangers due to its appearance and size. My dilemma is whether I get a pup or a juvenile which has some basic training. Alternatively I may have to consider a mixed breed. The ultimate concern is whether the new pet can fit into our lives better than Lipton. I understand that a trained dog will produce great joy and although we've never been trainers perhaps this will be a good time to groom our new pet. It will be a spayed female, preferably cream colored with a positive outlook. I am not hurrying but as opportunities arise I think we will make our choice deliberately based on consensus.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Singapore Weekend

Last weekend my wife and I made a special trip to the island state to attend the wedding celebration of her good friend and colleague of 43 years from the days of nursing training. Both are now retired, and are actively looking up former classmates to meet up. So this trip was also a down memory lane trip since 4 friends eventually met up at the wedding table. Here it is:

This coming Thursday will be my turn to meet up with another 'lost' classmate of 46 years with a few other friends in Petaling Jaya. Just a Saturday ago we were back in Ipoh for my ex-classmate's daughter wedding and met up with some old friends again. So November appear to be a month of many reunion. Especially amazing is our meeting up with my cousin sister who came back from the States for a month's holiday to visit her mother, and located my number and called me. This cousin was my wife's good friend in 1968 as well as introducer of my wife to me. Upon hearing that their good colleague and friend's son will be marrying on November 19, she asked to be invited.

I was fortunate to book a budget hotel room on Beach Road just a 5 minutes walk from the wedding dinner venue. The hotel is also 30 minutes walk from the popular Marina Bay which we visited yesterday as well as to Singapore Flyer (we didn't fly, my wife is scared of heights) and later to Orchard Road which was swarmed with foreign maids on their weekend breaks. Even the Singaporeans felt overwhelmed in the shopping malls. Christmas mood is apparent from the many decorations set up. It was sunny and warm, perfect for photo-shoots but around 4pm tropical drizzle tried to dampen the carnival mood and failed. Here are a few pictures I snapped using my trusted nearly 7 year old Canon Powershot A620.

We took Air Asia flights and were appalled by the state of the Low Cost Carrier Terminal in Kuala Lumpur (which was a make shift terminal from a former air cargo warehouse) compared to Terminal 1 in Changi Airport where we disembarked and later board for our homeward flight last night. It was an embarrassment to me that Malaysia, home to Air Asia, could not provide a decent terminal for AA. Hopefully when the new budget terminal at Kuala Lumpur International Airport is ready end of 2012 we will be proud to use it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mrs Khoo You've Got A Lovely Daughter

At last Sunday's kindergarten graduation of our oldest grandchild I fell in love with a little pretty girl who will be some lucky boy's beloved some day, and he'd surely say this to her mother. Victoria is everybody's pride and when we arrived at her house at 2pm she was already dressed in her exquisite black and white graduation dress which she insisted over another that her mother chose. I guess she is really growing up with ability to discern a good design and pursue her choice with confidence. Being in a hurry we didn't buy her any gift but gave her monetary incentive instead which she accepted gratefully and passed over to her mother for safekeeping.

An hour later we made our way to the church auditorium where her graduation concert will be held. Hundreds of parents and grandparents like us were gathered at the foyer having our snacks and waiting for the doors to fling open at 4.30pm sharp. I was thinking we were queuing up for a blockbuster movie at a cineplex but it was something more exciting. Our little baby will get her special award and put up a performance that make the 7 of us - parents, grandparents and little brother - beaming with quiet joy and thanksgiving to God for a child who gave us strength and confidence to be great grandparents and parents.

Victoria excels in the arts, as displayed in her drawing talents and dance movements. But it is too early to say if she will not be a great doctor, lecturer, engineer, pharmacist, architect, musician or teacher. Only time will tell. The seeds of the love of learning and socializing has been sown and in the coming years we shall see Victoria develop her many skills and choose what she love for her career. And she will meet many people and exposed to many occasions of making hard decisions. Surely Victoria will not be alone for she has family and friends to guide and support her along the way.

When the new school term starts in January 2012 Victoria will be placed in a new school, under new teachers, meeting and making new friends, and learning new knowledge. She will need encouragement as she adapt to the significant changes, especially in the use of Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction in most subjects. In a few days she will enjoy a 6 weeks holiday break where she gets to go for family outings. Victoria is a very fortunate girl indeed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Handling Negativity in Old Age

Over the wedding dinner last Saturday I asked the age old question, How can we be truly happy? As expected there was no absolute answer. We are all still searching, or perhaps some of us feel happiness is not a pre-requisite for achieving a 'good life' which again is a vague concept. What has negativity got to do with happiness? As I think about how I can be a truly happy person I ask how my own negativity is frustrating that goal. I would like to die happily.

Thinking of my past I realize there were many regrets, frustrations, failures, anger and unforgiveness. These emotions have crystalized, hardened and deformed my outlook on life at one point or another but thankfully I was able to look back and learn from the circumstances to stop my life from being permanently changed by my own negativity. It is not a fully won battle but being able to see the trees from the woods helps me stand aside and deal with the hurdles more optimistically and successfully. I have no formula but I believe that if we dwell in being critical of others as well as our shortcomings we deny ourselves the joy of being happy for the moment.

No one can make us happy, and we cannot make another person happy. At most we facilitate the process but we ourselves are not the reason for someone else's happiness. But if we speak kindly, act honorably and be of good assistance we encourage the recipients of our goodwill to be positive and hopefully be happier. Sadly many senior people fail to rise above their accumulated negative feelings and have allowed bitterness, anger and prejudice to rule their thoughts, speech and sometimes actions.

In old age our bodies and health often deteriorate faster than our minds and this add on to our frustrations as we find our independence and freedom more limited, and at times find ourselves less dignified should we pride ourselves in doing things all by ourselves. The refusal to accept the reality that we must depend on caregivers as we grow older compound our negative outlook towards our own future and often spill over to those who care and love us. I would accept the fact that we must surrender a part of our lives into the hands of professionals and family with cheerfulness and peace inside our hearts. Only by facing this truth can we face our final days with calm and peace.

Pain and sufferings often accompany our growing old. Difficult as it is to put on a cheerful outlook we must accept the fact that we will break down and such pains are there to temper us and grow us into spiritual maturity. No one desire pain but everybody needs to find their strength to overcome them with grace and not allow such handicaps bring down our spirit. To be a happy senior person the answer is within us, and involves killing our negative attitudes and build our arsenal of positive thoughts. It do well to remember that negative thoughts and attitudes are destructive and harm relationship. On the other hand learning to overcome them help us be more respected, wanted, loved and missed when it is time to go.

Monday, November 14, 2011

An Unusual Weekend

The recent 48 hours my wife and I drove back to Sitiawan and Ipoh was spent on remembering a few events worth recording here.

Originally the weekend was solely to return for attending the November 12 wedding dinner of a very dear classmate whose daughter got married on November 5. We decided to take the opportunity to visit my aged mother and father-in-law. However, unexpected events forced me to make changes all well adapted to fit the time we have.

Firstly, my father-in-law fell on November 9 and cracked his upper right femur as well as fractured the socket to the hip which necessitated an operation under local anesthesia which he responded well in spite of his old age at 93. So the trip was changed from visitation to hospital care for my wife, a former nurse.

Secondly, my wife's long lost nursing school mate as well as my cousin, sprung us a surprise call the day before we travel and we fixed a meet up at my mother's house. It was a reunion after a period of 40 years and the ladies has tons to chat about over lunch courtesy of another lovely couple friend, another ex-schoolmate and his wife. We joked that it was a lunch for old people, 3 x 80-something and 5 x 60-something. As it drizzled outside our conversation kept us warm inside.

Thirdly the wedding dinner gave me and several of my former classmates another opportunity to socialize. It is a pity that not more can make it.

Finally, our eldest grand daughter 6 year old Victoria celebrates her graduation from kindergarten on November 13. Next year she will be going to primary school. It will be a transition that we all want NOT to miss. We therefore plan our return from Ipoh to Petaling Jaya to ensure we arrive in good time. Victoria was already in her resplendent graduation dress she chose herself, and later had mommy apply lipstick and kakak make up her hair. Grandparents from both side came for this special concert and ceremony. We stayed on for a celebration dinner with venue and menu specially chosen by Victoria.

The Habit of Giving Thanks

It used to be that I felt uncomfortable when eating in public places to pause before starting a meal to say a prayer of thanksgiving. This is what we have been taught to develop a sense of thankfulness for what we often take for granted. And I can say with deep conviction that this habit has been transforming. Far too often we take what we received as if it is our right or due because we've worked for them. True, our efforts produced rewards, some just, some unjust, but nonetheless outcomes that we assume are due entirely to our abilities and industry. Such an attitude can build in us a hidden prejudice against divine contribution and attribute everything to the self. But when events are less successful we blame the outcome on the gods that didn't care, or didn't listen to our pleas. I beg to differ.

I believe that giving thanks help us amend our humility towards what are beyond our control and give credit to the God we believe in who play significant roles in keeping us comforted and provided, often without our efforts and without our knowledge. If we acknowledge the divine involvement in our lives we shall begin to draw upon that spiritual breath to develop a healthy understanding that our bodily needs do come from the spiritual realm. Consider that we don't think along this line but simply to admit that many blessings, even if they come from our efforts, originated from our Creator who love us and want us to enjoy the fruits of the earth.

Giving thanks for the food has become habitual for my family and even the grand children are taught to 'say grace' at dinnertime when all the family members sit down to eat and share the day. Once in awhile I would ask our 4 year old Grace to say a simple prayer which she did rather shyly. Today her mother said she said a beautiful prayer unguided over the weekend. Her little brother Andrew not yet two enjoys holding hands to start the prayer. Of course both can be mischievous or disrupt the prayer I lead but it is the behavior that will be corrected as they grow older.

Giving thanks is not just centered on asking God to bless the food we are about to partake. It is also opportune for me as head of the family to round up the needs of family members, the church, the society, the nation as well as international issues, touching upon them briefly and raising them to God for His concerns. Such a prayer that include elements of intercession help the hearers understand that as we enjoy the food we also care for those who cannot and therefore develop a healthy heart of care for others. When we give thanks we begin to understand that we are very fortunate to have roof, clothing, family, protection, etc that we must not take for granted. So give thanks with a grateful heart. It is a good thing to do.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11.11.11, 11.11AM

A moment in time that shall never come again so I sat down and enter this post to remember how I spend my time. I've just had breakfast with my daughter and family, played with my grandchildren, now time off for myself to read my emails and online news, and now writing this post on my iPad and sitting on my massage chair. The teevee is playing a children program and the kids are playing themselves. The weather outside is cloudy and calm, it hasn't rained for the past 48 hours. At this very moment my father-in-law is being operated to repair a damaged hip socket he broke during an accident 2 days ago. I pray he will recover fast and resume his normal routine.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Lipton (1999 - 2011)

11.50am. Our mongrel Lipton was put to sleep today with a lethal dose of phenobarbitone to relieve her of further sufferings due to complications arising from liver infection. In fact, at that time she had defecated and unresponsive, nearing death. She dies instantly upon administration of the drug, a painless death. For the past few weeks she has not been eating well and developed a distended belly which my veterinarian described as ascites. Yesterday I comforted her and assured her that her sufferings will end soon.

Lipton arrived into my life in an unusual manner. On 12 November 1999 after lunch near my workplace my daughter spotted some stray pups and took sympathy to the 3 of them. They were probably just 2 or 3 weeks old and scavenging on leftovers from the food packs. Of the three pups we eventually kept two, the one we took I named Lipton as her hair was tea colored. I had misgivings adopting this stray of unknown origin as it began developing skin diseases. Its temperament was also unadorable and remained this way even as she reached adulthood. Lipton was unsociable and dislike being touched. She growl when I tried to groom her nails and snapped at me. I consider this very ungrateful since she was brought out from the dustbins into a proper home with space to run, fed daily and provided vet care. Yet we did not abandon her to her past life.

Twice we tried to bring in another dog to keep her company. The first, a young stray dog I took fancy to, she literally harassed him away. The second, a puppy, was bitten to death out of jealousy. Obviously Lipton doesn't believe in sharing the big compound she has gotten used to. As a result she spent all her life in self enforced isolation. She dislike being bathed and every bathing session was a test of will. Especially when she developed skin diseases I literally cornered her to force a bath on her!

Lipton may be a bitch but she has a male personality that scares visitors and strangers. Her redeeming quality is in that she almost never run out of the gate when it is opened, which saved us much inconvenience. Occasionally she'd kill a stray cat or squirrel or bird. But her appetite has always been ravenous and it is irritating to have her begging for food each time she sees us.

Over the past year we saw her aging as she crossed her 10th year. She was slower and also developed body odor which could be related to liver disease. However it was in the recent weeks that her health deteriorated suddenly. When our vet examined her we agreed that her condition is painfully irreversible and I can see it in her tear stained eyes. The decision to let her go carved a part of my life away. Lipton came to us to replace our pet Spitz named King who died on 5 April 1999 before we moved into our house in Rasah Kemayan 12 years ago. She holds the honor of being the first dog we cared here and although she wasn't the dog we hope for she nonetheless belong in the memories of all of us, including our older grandchildren who remember Lipton, feed her and patted her. And in her own ways, kept our house safe.

Lipton did not reach the 12th anniversary of her arrival into our lives. But no matter how imperfect she was her presence did made a difference to all of us. In memory of her passing here are some pictures of Lipton when she was much younger.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Phasing Out PPSMI Is Unwise

The Education Minister backed out from his hardened stand and relented, giving existing students their right to continue studying Mathematics and Science in English until they leave school. This, however, failed to address the core issue of providing the English option to children enrolling in schools for the first time and PAGE pledge to continue to pressure the government for this right to choose and I am in full support. Freedom to choose is a fundamental human right when such choice is pre-existing. Why is it removed? Certainly the lame excuse that PPSMI has failed after being applied for 9 years is unacceptable. You don't blame a good policy for its failure, if indeed it hasn't delivered the desired results. You blame on poor execution and lack of determination to make it work. On this I put the blame squarely on the flip flop manner the education ministry manage the future of our children.

My family are all English educated and with grandchildren starting to go to school from next year I insist they be given the right to decide which language stream to follow. Yes, yes, they have to pass Bahasa Malayia in school exams. That is not negotiable but aside from that coming from a very multiracial country like ours, rights to multilingual education must be offered. When there is demand, supplies will naturally come forth. Likewise when more parents want their children to study English or Mandarin (these are global languages) demand for such teachers will naturally lead to more graduates learning such languages as a career. In the short term the need to import teachers should be considered. But to abandon English is irresponsible although under the new MBMMBI policy the proposal to give greater emphasis to the study of English has been promised. Personally I disagree that learning a language as a subject will lead to its proficiency unless you study it for knowledge sake. To be proficient in a language one need to apply it in thinking, reading, speaking, debating and writing. To suggest that PPSMI will not let the students improve their command of English is wrong. The very fact that teachers and students interact in classes thinking, reading, explaining and replying in the study of Maths and Science in English provide excellent opportunity for a healthy growth in learning English simultaneously.

Yes, it is true that the Education Ministry be the ultimate authority to decide on the choice of medium of instruction for Maths and Science but wasn't that a done thing in 2003? Why the turnaround in 2009 soon after the current minister took over? Why disband a practice that have major impact on the lives of our children?

PPSMI must be continued as an option to give our children their career choice. The government cannot ransom its citizens against their wishes since it cannot guarantee their future.

Friday, November 04, 2011

PPSMI - A Growing Force

I joined the PPSMI support group on Facebook last night and just 24 hours later the number of supporters has grown from about 136,000 to 146,000, a sharp 73% increase. The momentum has gathered speed since the DPM rejected outright the demands by PAGE to maintain PPSMI as an option, belittling it as a small group, a very unwise and careless remark from a national leader who did not count on the growing power of social networking against the insensitive and rigid education minister. And the promoter of PPSMI, no less than the former PM, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, has come into the fray asking the current PM, Najib Razak, to save the PPSMI. DPM cum education minister Muhyiddin countered that the PM has supported the termination of PPSMI. Dr. Mahathir suggested a referendum to decide once and for all if the majority view is to keep or disband with PPSMI.

The manner DPM Muhyiddin deals with the PPSMI issue reminds me of how PM Najib himself mishandled the Bersih 2.0 electoral reform protest on July 9. The coming days will decide who is in control of crucial national policies: the people or the government. Thus far the impression I get is when Dr. Mahathir steps into the ring anything goes. Especially when one tries to reverse his work.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

How Can This Be Possible?

Idris Jala says it again HERE. If we don't prepare and don't watch out we will slip into the red in 10 years, which ironically coincide with our planned vision to become a developed nation. Imagine if this happens, in 2020 instead of becoming developed, Malaysia becomes BANKRUPT instead.

Most of us see bankruptcy as distant as we see the impact of a 7 billion human population on us. Do you think that if the government runs the country to the ground it will not affect us citizens DIRECTLY? Of course it will.

Let's take a parallel scenario. A company is incorporated with an authorized and paid up capital of RM100 million. The money comes out of the shareholders pocket who trust on the board of directors and the management of the company to operate the business profitably and declare dividends to them in due course as just rewards from their investments.

Now the company cannot rely only on the shareholders equity to run a proper business. It needs loans for capital expenditures and working capital (operational expenditures) to cover the amount over and above the equity. Loans are costly as lenders issue them at risk of non-performance so charge high interests apart from holding a lien on the assets as well as demanding corporate and personal guarantees to secure repayments. To ensure loans are justified, the cost of loans must be more than offset by the profits the business can earn by using such loans. It is illegal to use loans for non-productive expenditures such as buying luxury cars for the top management or offsetting another non-performing loan. Hence loans are justified if:

1. It is used for capacity expansion that result in higher revenue and profits which more than offset the cost of the loans taken
2. It is used to tide over short term working capital overrun until profits narrow the deficit.

A good business should attempt to grow self-funded from its reserves and not raise additional capital either from taking excessive loans (over-gearing) or raising additional equity from the shareholders. But when a business runs out of cash it rely on the following options to stay afloat.

1. Raise additional loans by using other collateral or future goodwill
2. Raise additional capital from shareholders
3. Increase sales revenue by raising the price of good and services sold which reduce its competitiveness
4. Delaying or restructuring its debt settlement thus buying time hoping for better days and opportunities

A well run business have the following characteristics.

1. Steady and repeated profit performance year after year
2. Regular declaration of dividends
3. Retaining part of profits as reserve for both future expansion plans and for unplanned contingencies such as recession or currency depreciation
4. Business prudence in spending within its means and growing capacity gradually
5. Trustworthiness in the professionalism and expertise of its directors and management teams.
6. Respect and strong leadership within the industry it operates in.

Several of the above observations can be used in the administration of a nation. Unfortunately we have seen how badly managed Malaysia is judging from the serious mismanagement of the funds it receives from Petronas, Inland Revenue Board and other sources. Using the comparison of a company, it can be said that:

1. The government is not professional or dedicated to make the country financially strong. It has not developed a capable civil service to administer the nation well.
2. By having deficit budgets for the past few years it suggest that our reserves are depleting, or if increasing then our foreign debts increase as well to a point that we are unable to service our debt repayment and then risk being declared a bankrupt nation.
3. The government is not managing the financial leakages and abuse of authority that corruption is becoming rampant and little efforts are taken to arrest its malignant growth.
4. The citizens, equivalent to shareholders, are told lies that we are doing alright and that the government should be re-elected at every general election as 'it knows best' after running the nation for 54 years.
5. Cost remain high. Citizens still pay high taxes, receive no dividends (meaning lower taxes)
6. Inefficiency and propagation of a low productivity culture lead to a bloated and an under-performing workforce (civil service) which makes the nation generally expensive to live in and operate from.
7. Poor work culture that arises from internal bickering, gossiping, lying and cheating to get things done. The top management is either blissfully unaware or deliberately overlook this misdemeanor for fear of rocking the boat.
8. Indiscipline sets in and the corporate Malaysia seeks to be self serving rather than planning for national prosperity and that of its people (shareholders).

It is very possible that Idris Jala is right. He may sound like a prophet of doom, a sheep boy who cry wolf, or someone who raises the tsunami alarm. Will we listen and act to stop this plundering and rape of our national resources? I think if we take a simple example of how an opposition run state can turn around the deficit budget into a surplus after taking over for just 2 years then it is timely for the entire nation to be run by a new and more capable team. We certainly don't wish to hand over the country to our children in a state poorer than what we received from our forefathers.

In the corporate world, mismanagement will result in service termination and replacement by a more effective team. Do we have the courage to act through our ballots? Or wait for another 5 years to see if things will improve? Time is certainly not on our side.

How will bankruptcy affect us directly? Firstly our ringgit will be badly depreciated as it will have no international value or demand. The immediate impact is all foreign related expenses like import of consumable goods, machinery and services will be very expensive. Oversea travel will be very costly. Malaysian made goods may be cheaper but lower value ringgit means we will see a sudden increase in cost of food, goods and services which make production cost higher, not lower. Ironically we will be a high income society, but in ringgit that has lost its intrinsic value. Workforce will be demotivated to perform which reduces productivity. Stress arising from inability to cope with a debilitating economy will cause public protests, demonstrations and even destruction of public properties out of anger and frustrations. Crime rates will rise as some people take the easier route to solve their woes. Foreign workers may leave in droves as Malaysia become unattractive to work with a heavily depreciated ringgit, creating massive shortages in labor supplies, unskilled and skilled, which gravely affect our dependability in fulfilling our commitments to clients abroad, affecting our credibility and goodwill. Further brain drain may occur although less students can afford to study abroad due to higher exchange rates. Corruption will increase and the police will become very ineffective in dealing with rising crime, compromising security of the citizens. Negative developments as predicted above will lead to people taking over the control of the government and how it is to be run.

Reminds me of AGMs where the shareholders sack the entire board for incompetence and vote in a new board. See a likely scenario happening at national level?

Monday, October 31, 2011


The human population officially arrived at this magical number today. The first question I asked myself was, " how do they know?". I google and found this website which doesn't really give a formula on how the human population is tracked. At best the actual human population is a guesstimate and our concern is not the preciseness of the number but the impact of these diverse humanity on each other and on the environment that finds it more and more difficult to sustain them. According to this report the world received its 6th billion human being 12 years ago and in this period population growth actually slowed down, which mean the 8 billion target may be reached 12 or more years from now but that depends on the fertility rates of the various sub-cultures and race groups. Still it is mind boggling to think that within the next century the world population can potentially grow by another 7 billion (assuming growth rate of a billion every 12 - 13 years), although growth rates are declining. THIS website projects the population to reach 9.5 billion by 2050. However Wikipedia article projects slower population growth in the coming decades, taking 13 to 15 years to reach the next billion level. While we are most unlikely to be around to feel the impact of a very packed humanity I certainly feel we won't be more civilized than now in the manner we deal with one another. I was reminded of a science experiment I read during my schooldays of mice. Mice are actually nice creatures to each other. However the experiment showed when mice population grew within a confined space to a point when scarcity of food and water, space congestion, poor hygiene and pollution start to irritate the mice they became aggressive and no longer the nice creature they once were. What I learned from this, which still stayed fresh in my mind, is that we are potentially selfish creatures, mice or human. When our survival or comfort zone is compromised we too can turn aggressive and protective.

As the world turns we will live in more hostile environment. The more conducive places will attract more migrants. They become over populated and over competitive. You already see it in places like Mexico, Calcutta, Shanghai, Bangkok, Jakarta and Hong Kong. Where do people turn for refuge? Families grow closer, so will people sharing similar faith, tradition and interests. We become selective in dealing with new acquaintance to ensure they match our interests and preferences. For most of us who can manage our time and resources comfortably we will be blessed immeasurably in the midst of a growing tide of human population forging a life for themselves, hoping to be successful and secured for their future and that of their children.

Seven billion. Most of us just let the number slip by as we find it quite irrelevant since most of the world is very distant from the familiar family and friends who are our real world. Chances are they number less than seven hundred.

If you are still curious about the accuracy of the human population, well, it is an extrapolation of statistics from the United Nations Population Division.

Interesting related articles:
Welcome to a very full world, Danica
The Seven Billion Person Question
World Population would have touched 7 billion a few years ago
Find out where you fit in Earth's 7 billion people
Population is not the problem
The end of population growth


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