Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mexican Dinner

My daughter Irene threw me a challenge yesterday. Find us a dinner venue. Normally when we visit she and hubby would ask what food we like then decide where to bring us. Being unfamiliar with eateries in Petaling Jaya I googled using my HTC One. My wife had said I've been spending too much time with it but I assured her once I get to know how to use it I'll be more routine in my time management.

One name popped up in my search. Frontera Sol of Mexico. The location is about 15 minutes away and the reviews quite good. Not perfect but I was feeling adventurous. We don't have good Mexican food restaurant in Seremban so I asked if my choice is ok with the kids. That cleared Irene made a reservation. In PJ it is always safer to reserve, more so on weekends and, now being the fasting month of Ramadan, the Muslims break fast around 7.30 so we don't want to be caught in a large dining crowd.

We arrived 7.15. No crowd so we get to choose a nice corner for the 6 of us. As we mulled over what to order the 2 kids made themselves at home on the bar stools doing their homework.

We chose the Tacos and Tequila Tuesday promotion set package. Although it is Saturday the restaurant decided to waive the condition. The deal is eat all you can until 10pm all for RM35 per head before the 16% tax and service charge. Being there for the first time we wanted to get a good sampling. The menu consists 12 different types of tacos with both corn and wheat tortillas and fillings of fish, chicken, beef, prawns, vegetables, tofu and egg prepared Mexican style. Alongside these main dishes each order is allowed a side dish of Mexican rice, refried beans, salad, mashed potatoes or pico de gallo. And a glass of non refillable iced lemon tea and a bowl of shredded chicken chilli soup.

We unashamedly ordered every thing. Over the 2 hours we leisurely enjoy the 47, yes 47, tacos. That average to 10-12 per person. I was stuffed at the end. But we were relieved the bill came to as expected.

Would we go back and recommend this bar? Yes of course. Location in Jaya One. I'm amused that that's another One for me. For the record this post is written on my HTC One.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My HTC One is the One

The choice of my next smartphone landed on this enormously popular model after very serious consideration. It cost me RM1799 which is 500 cheaper than the retail price. Yes, it is the 32Gb model as I believe the internal memory will be sufficient for my use.

My dilemma was 2 fold - the non removable battery for self replacement and the absence of external memory slot. My consolation about the battery is it is the latest lithium-polymer type which is long lasting with low memory fade. The external storage I'm not too concern. I believe it is trendy and the future direction of all multimedia device manufacturers to get their users to move data storage into the cloud, not just to make them available from anywhere Internet is connectable but also secured from accidental erasure, corruption or loss. Apple has been doing it with iPhones and users have come to term with it. Even users of their 16Gb model were able to survive without additional externally attached SD cards. After all, music and videos can be streamed right into the devices. My take is soon more new smartphones will come without external cards.

Putting aside these 2 issues I welcomed my latest addition 2 days ago. It was the silver LTE version. First thing first, I immediately updated the Android OS to the Jelly Bean 4.2.2 version which was made available to Malaysian owners of the One last weekend. The process was painless and easily done over my home wifi connection. Following that was the importation of my Google contacts and feeling the features. I like the BlinkFeed. Some users complain that it cannot be disabled but I guess HTC have a reason. Just as we use the phone to connect to our families and friends, the BlinkFeed connects us to the world via a choice of news feeds that are customizable but sadly not editable to add on those users like. The Sense 5 user interface differentiates HTC from other Android smartphone manufacturers. I call it innovative and progressive. HTC decided to do a skin job that even other Android phone users will find it refreshingly different. I confess this IS the main reason why I dumped the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S4. Their interfaces are too predictable and mmmm boring. However the One is not perfect. The power button on the top left is too recessed to make pushing it harder after I've covered the device with a protective back case. The other missing feature is a key to display recently opened apps. But HTC offer it now by double tapping the home key to reveal a set of 9 recently used apps. I had to instal 3rd party widgets to manage my sound volume, screen brightness, etc. There will be other disappointments but I believe they will be minor.

The screen display is very sharp, crispy and invigorating and I like the choice of font for naming the apps. Most of all the speed of the processor in loading the apps. I've had the micro-SIM card installed and my phone number activated on it and have been able to use it as a phone. But as all smartphone users will attest we spend more time texting, face booking, twittering, checking what's happening on the net, playing games, watching videos and movies, taking and sharing pictures, listening to music and showing off our latest gadget than having a telephone conversation. The designers at HTC having anticipated the new use for smartphones cleverly designed the One to make it more than a phone. This is why it can take on the Goliaths of the smartphone industry, Samsung and Apple.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Past is Our Wealth

We can make money, invest them and create wealth, material wealth. But such wealth are destroyable and can be stolen. The only wealth that is uniquely personal and cannot be stolen but can be destroyed and lost is our past. Many people do not appreciate their pasts. They think of what use is it since it is like a piece of paper, used and no longer recyclable. They find it a waste of time to dwell in the past. Time is to be spent for now and the future. The past is history and useless. I disagree.

No one can change what is past. It has been etched in the record of time and cannot be undone. Each of us possess a unique past that belong to only one owner. You. When I realize how precious and special my past is, just as I am irreplaceable and special, so is my past. It belongs to me and even though I share it, it cannot be replicated nor removed to become someone else's past. Unlike physical wealth you cannot repossess what is uniquely mine.

Each time I look at my grandchildren and watches each one grow, from a helpless and speechless infant who has no past, into a child with personalities and characters of their own, I am awed by the fact that each of them is creating and accumulating their past wealth. And I want to be part of their wealth. I know that each time I invest my own knowledge and experience by sharing them with my family I become part of their wealth of their past. You may be more familiar with the word, memory. It is our bank of past knowledge and experiences. Drawing upon it doesn't deplete it. In fact it refreshes it and keep its account active and not dormant. Not revisiting our memory risk it being shut down and permanently lost.

I am a fervent believer and practitioner of memory creation. I know without memory we lose our beacon of life. Where did we come from? Why are we the way we are? What should we do? Only our memories can guide us to think and decide rationally. That is why a baby cannot think because she has no usable memory to guide her in making decisions. Parents input their values and guide them.

We are living in the age of sharing. Electronic communication expedites the process. Social networking overtakes all other forms of contributing to each other's memory wealth. For what we learn and accept becomes ours and they define our evolving values and character.

When we were young we didn't know the usefulness of what we picked up that become our past wealth. We call it choices today. Most of the time we fumbled along, making mistakes, learning from them, getting wiser and become more selective in who we want to befriend, what we want to learn and what values we trust in. I am who I am, like God describes Himself when enquired by Moses.

As a teenager I marveled at the observation that no one can live in my body but me, although I had occasionally wanted to live in the body of someone I admire, a singer, a hero or a handsome person. I gradually realized there is only one me although many may share my name. But I alone am born the son of my father and my mother. I alone am uniquely created by my God.

People always say this: you cannot take what you own when you die. I disagree. I can certainly take away my past and my memory. They may be shared with you but you don't have first hand knowledge nor feeling of how it felt. My past will intertwine with your memories and hopefully it build you. One day I shall go away, for good. But I go with the great and good hope that I've done some good in the lives of those who have encountered me, no matter how brief.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

How Seditious Can We Get?

I use to fear the word. It planted in my mind a punishment without trial although the utterance of seditious words itself may not be severe enough to bring the charge under the now abolished Internal Security Act or ISA. But in recent years more seditious words have been uttered and gone unpunished to make me wonder if the crimes were noticed or selectively ignored. I tend to believe the later. People got so used to hear racial and religious slur words that we have become desensitized. Many of us just ignore them and get on with life.

But not dealing with violators embolden them to violate further thus aggravating the aggrieved parties. This is no way to handle domestic differences and the government in general and the police in particular cannot turn a blind eye (or deaf ear) to the complaints of selective prosecution. Indeed the federal laws are written for all citizens and visitors to the country. Not enforcing the laws uniformly will lead to further division and loss of respect for the law enforcers.

Since around 2008 I've read so many derogatory comments on news portals to make me shiver. Don't these commenters know they could be tracked down and charged? But of course the numbers were so huge that the police couldn't find room to put them all in the lock ups. This itself suggest how serious race relation and trust in our government has deteriorated. Not acting early to nip the troubles has allowed them to brew and ferment. The government failed to study in depth why we have become a seditious nation, a very racist one like the way the United States was in the 1960s when the KKK clandestine movement went round burning houses of people they hated. We don't want that to happen here, not in this 21st century when the human race is supposed to be more civilized.

The SA had put a number of people in jail and it helped clamp dissenting views. But is it wise to put a tight lid on a boiling pot of water that is steaming? There must be room to express differing views and compromise an agreement. Ours is a plural society and no extreme comments such as getting out if you don't like what I say will change our status. We still live under the same roof and must learn to make the best of this land we all call home. The continuing application of SA will do more harm to a very expressive and vocal society that has awakened to its right to define the future they want to live in. So it was correct that the prime minister Najib Razak decided a year ago to abolish it and replace it with another act, the National Harmony Act, which sounds less threatening and certainly point to the right direction. Take out the symptoms and find a solution. The NHA should allow mature and responsible public discourse on sensitive issues with a view towards resolving the problems. Whether it deals with special privileges, religious issues or education, one by one they must be dealt with with acceptable agreement among all the races, religious bodies or stakeholders and they must be adhered to whoever rules the nation in the future. Going forward we cannot afford to back pedal or stay in the same spot arguing and fighting over the same issues raised 30 or 40 years ago. Malaysia will not progress and certainly not respected or admired if we fail to resolve rudimentary domestic issues that certain extreme people keep harping again and again. My appeal is get on top of the issues lest they drown us. But first thing first - please learn to respect each other and accept our differences.

Monday, July 08, 2013

My Father-in-Law and I

My FIL and I are like drake and cock. He doesn't speak my dialect and I struggled to understand his Cantonese. But because he is my wife's father it became my duty to love and honor him. He is after all 30 years older. My wife did made me promise before we marry to love her parents. I am keeping my promise.

We didn't speak much when I first introduced myself to him sometime in 1970 as his daughter's boyfriend. I don't recall his objection. Neither did he sat me down and lecture me how to conduct myself as a son-in-law and as husband. He was a man with few words, but not when he was upset. My wife was the first of his children to marry. To my FIL the wedding was a great event. I remember he 'gave' my wife away. It wasn't a church wedding, neither of us, nor my in-laws were Christians then. It was he who walked his daughter out of the house to the wedding car draped in colorful ribbons. Curious neighbors and relatives saw us off. My FIL was unsmiling. It wasn't his nature to smile but when he did you know he was proud of what he said.

I made it a point to greet him each time I visit him and I could sense he was pleased. I would too. And I attempted to converse with him in my broken Cantonese. I wished he knew Mandarin for I got along marvelously with my mother-in-law who spoke good Mandarin (she was a teacher). But I need to give equal time to my FIL. I don't want him to feel neglected. He was conscious of his low education and felt his wife got more attention and affection from the children. Deep inside I felt he was jealous and insecure. But he was a kind hearted and harmless person. He just needed to be accorded the respect, honor and love due to him.

My FIL worked with gold but he wasn't rich. He was a goldsmith and didn't earn much. He valued money. At each new year, on his birthday and on most occasions my wife and I visited him we'd give him cash gifts which he used to pay household expenses. Each time we gave him something he'd thank us, but I'd quickly stop him. It is not right for my FIL to thank us, it is our duty to give out of our heart. In response my FIL would ask me to 'wan tor tor cheen' which translate from Cantonese as make more money. To the older Chinese this invoke a blessing to the giver. It means that he will get money again later!

The one thing I'm proud I did to my FIL was elevate him to grandfather status when our first child was born end of 1974. He was 56. Every time we went back to Ipoh to stay with him, he'd without fail tell neighbors and friends about me, my work, my children. I felt a little embarrassed sometimes but I realized he is proud of us. We brought joy to his family. I was glad to give him reasons to feel proud.

One thing about my FIL that amazed me is his impeccable memory. He remember prices of groceries and would tell us which shop sell the best goods. And his direction was unerring. I could trust him to guide me when I drove into the town.

In November 2011 my FIL accidentally fell and broke his hip bone. It took more than 6 months for the joint to heal. But his battered spirit never healed and he refused to work out to strengthen his hipbone preferring to be wheel chaired and lie in bed most of the time and depend on a full time maid to care for him. His moods turned nasty as his idle mind fed upon years of bitterness and hurt of being ignored. His utterances became judgmental and divisive. He didn't know he brought disharmony to his children. In his old age he sought what he missed and picked on trivia issues, condemning the failings of certain family members in the presence of others. He was an unhappy person and I tried to comfort him as best as I can. My prayer is he will regain the smiles that he once possess and enjoy life into his centenary, God willing.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Time Like An Old Man River

Over a reunion lunch with a few ex-classmates on Tuesday the subject of how we pass time after retirement and when we cannot partake in our physical activities like traveling, gardening and golfing cropped up. It was admitted by some that it will indeed be very worrisome and fearful to sit or lie and long for time to speed away when you have nothing to do. I can understand how my two elderly mother and father-in-law feel right now. They are in the state that I myself will find myself in one day. Neither have interest in television, reading, or simple pastime like chess, knitting and enjoying listening to music.

Being filled with time you cannot use when you are old is quite frightening. We never worry over too much time when we are young. Rather we wish for more time as we have so much to do. We have appetite for stuffs we want to experience. We need time to complete our assignments be they school work or in our jobs. And we certainly want more time to discover life and enjoy ourselves more and more. Hadn't we all wished once upon a time that there are more than 24 hours in a day? For some elderly people especially bed ridden or invalid they actually wish for less.

But time is the same throughout life. The perception of having more or less time comes from our awareness of its passage. Albert Einstein in explaining his theory of relativity used the illustration of how fast our time passes in the company of someone we love but the opposite when we dislike doing something. He said, “When you sit on a hot stove for two minutes, it feels like two hours. But, when you sit with a nice girl for two hours, it feels like two minutes. That's relativity!”

Now where am I? Yes, what to do with the time at hand that you cannot or don't know how to spend? Now I know why many older people are grouchy, difficult, attention seeking, hypochondriac, or just sleep and sleep. In their own ways they are trying to use up their daily quota of time. That's because they don't have interests to keep them occupied. That's the reason why they ask, sometimes demand, that friends and families visit and talk with them often. They are using others to help them pass time. Which is not unreasonable because as kids we did that precisely to our parents and grandparents. We tugged their shirts and pull their hands to join in our games. We asked questions, some silly others out of curiosity. Basically we just want to engage with them. Likewise the old folks do the same they did when they were kids. Life has indeed come a full circle!

I am better off than many older people. I had anticipated that I will have tons of time even now. But my plate is full and I am not bored from too much time. Being very much a planner I plan how I shall pass my time one day when I become more home bound. It is inevitable and there is no escaping. Fortunately I am not a physically active person, indulging more in sedentary activities like blogging, listening to music and watching the world go by. Sure, if I do become wheelchair bound I don't mind being pushed around (not figuratively speaking) or taken for occasional holidays. But I know that I will look upon the progression of life with as much positive outlook as I can, being unsure if illnesses or pain or other forms of unfamiliar sufferings will cast dejection and helplessness into my mind.

My Internet is my window to life beyond my house. That I confess makes me exceedingly glad to be growing old now. To be a recipient of real time global connectivity and enjoy all the privileges of knowledge, opinions, images and videos, social networking and various interests the Net offer, often for free or for a small subscription or fee.

It time like an old man river? No, I'm not referring to the song of the same title from the 1927 musical, Show Boat, that tells the story of the struggles and hardship of the African Americans and compare them with the endless and uncaring flow of the Mississippi River. I'm using the phrase to describe a slow meandering river like an old man meander through the rest of his life. We must not reject the fact that we will allow ourselves the privilege to coast our days sometimes aimlessly and 'waste' time. We can afford to lose some as indeed we do have surplus time to spend. I count it my joy to be not confronted by deadlines. I will eventually be dead standing in the line of growing older day by day. I congratulated my classmate Kao who celebrated his 66th birthday yesterday. He replied he dislike being reminded of birthdays as he steps closer to his grave. My answer to him is we cannot avoid that passage and encourage him to enjoy whatever time we still have in us.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Don't be Maid Helpless

Yesterday I read that it will now cost RM8,000 to bring in an Indonesian maid. Not so long ago we would be screaming robbery if it was RM2,000 but it appear more and more families that really need a maid to help out with childcare or looking after elderly family members are being forced to cough out the money to get a maid. On top of that the maid salary have gone up by almost double over the past 5 years. Are we really so helpless that we continue to depend on maids? Or don't we have alternatives?

Looking back to the time when I was a child my mother never had any maid to help; neither did my wife's mother. The only external help was to have aunties to mop the floors or iron the clothings once a week. The kids grew up just fine. In fact we were not pampered that we did things on our own. I believe my generation are generally responsible adults and we taught our children the same values. For my own kids we had occasional day maids, never lived ins and certainly not foreign maids. These became a feature when locals refuse to work as maids considering the job low class and demeaning.

Somewhere along the way as we became better off we started harboring thoughts of being served, of not doing chores if we can pay someone else to do it. Subconsciously to be lorded over was a status symbol. In the 80s to announce that you have a maid is telling friends and relatives you were financially well off. But soon that became a real necessity when more and more mothers started to work to bring in extra income to support children's education, healthcare, a more comfortable lifestyle and providing for security for the future. Added to this was the relentless increase in cost of living that outstripped the increase in annual income. So more time were spent to make more money like joining a direct selling network, becoming part time insurance or unit trust agents, or even as commision agents in real estates or starting a small home business in interior design, hobbies, catering, cooking, etc. The need to find helpers to look after both the house and the kids become absolutely critical. So what is RM8,000 fee and RM1,000 monthly salary if they can make RM15,000 or more monthly? Some of these families may be willing to pay more to keep their urge of making more money satisfied.

This vicious circle of making more money to chase maids will have to stop. It will be ridiculous to continue to pay more and more to satisfy your maid needs. And they know that you are totally dependent on them that they start to squeeze you and make unreasonable demands. Plus the fact that the contract lasts just 2 years so you have to renegotiate fresh terms to keep them. All they need to do is to impress you during the first 2 years for you to 'beg' them to stay on since the hassle of getting a new and untested maid is risky. Many have been known to run away within days of arrival. It has happened to our first maid. Impressive girl, neatly dressed and packed with clean and fashionable clothings. In under 2 weeks she disappeared to join her boyfriend. Since then we had the unfortunate experience with the second maid who feigned homesickness, the third maid who was as good after 6 months as on her day one (meaning she picked up no skills at all). Thereafter we hit a dry patch for more than a year. Chose a maid then she turned us down. Chose another maid and she gave some reason to explain why she couldn't come. Either these maids were in hot demand or have cold feet. Many families are so desperate that they don't mind getting from the black market without proper work permits. These maids came in on social passes and overstayed with friends and found jobs through the grapevines. We were tempted to get one this way but resisted as the consequences of being caught will be embarassing. We took the legal route and a few months back succeeded to getting one who is able to do her work of looking after our grandchildren especially the youngest who is just a year old.

We must genuinely need maids to apply for them, not because we can afford to. But houses being harder to clean and owners fussier and lacking time will justify getting helpers to do general houseworks which is the most popular work option for foreign maids. They'd rather do general houseworks than taking care of children or looking after old folks which are more time consuming. Both my mother and father-in-law are in need of assistance as they are very old. My father-in-law is more fortunate. Over the years my sister-in-law had been able to get maids to look after him and she was around to supervise the maid so the old man was not taken advantaged of. My mother is not as fortunate. She lives alone and is unable to control a maid. There is also no adult living with her to supervise the maid if we got her one. Tales of runaway maids, maids who stole money and foodstuff, and maids who abuse their hosts abound that it was out of question for my mother to be cared by a foreign maid. But in the past 4 years she did have local caregivers (I won't call them maids as they did minimal work but just provide companionship and prepare/buy some food/drinks for her.) who are very elderly too, some just a few years younger. Younger caregivers are impossible to find. As the health condition of my mother deteriorated recently these elderly caregivers also cannot provide physical assistance so the idea of my mother staying in an old folks home was considered. She had strong views on where she want to stay and staying with her children is not one of her choices as she wants to be among her peers. It was by chance that a bed was available last month in an old folks home when she became more helpless in moving about and agreed to move in. The old folks home is in the same vicinity she lives in and she has friends, relatives and church members to visit to provide a safe social environment for her. Some people have strong views about putting parents in such a home. However a pragmatic view is necessary. The home can provide 24/7 care which a single home maid cannot. The home also provide medical assistance which is essential for elderly persons. The basic difference is the environment. The dilemma is that at home the care is incomplete but the environment more familiar. Both home and old folks home have their justifiable points. Unless the home have other live-in adults to provide supervision and companionship checking into a care centre is a better option as a team of helpers will provide services throughout the day and during any emergency something will be done.

We have generally cornered ourselves into a situation where we cannot do without maids. Many of us don't want to share maids. How can we create a life that give us more privacy and freedom from maids? A few suggestions below.

  1. Marry as early as possible and start family thereafter so that parents who are still young and recently retired can help out. That's how it was in the olden days. Family members help out instead of depending on outsiders.
  2. Parents should not dissociate from helping to look after their grandchildren. Besides building relationship it also keep them youthful and occupied as some complain of idleness after retirement. They can still go on holidays while their children look for part time help.
  3. Prioritize family relationship and not wealth creation. Develop strong bonds with children during their formative years. They will be closer to you rather than to the maids. Besides they will not be overly pampered but learn to be civil and responsible at home.
  4. If you must have maids, have them when you really need them like in the first 2-3 years when the children are small and need full attention. As they grow older and enter nursery and pre-school they can join day care to develop independence and socializing skills before they enter schools. Plan your family to have all the children you want in the shortest time frame instead of spreading over many years so you can enjoy a maidless family when the children become more independent. As parents we should also treat having maids as a necessity to cover a short term need rather than becoming a fixture in our lives.
  5. Use professional maid services for general house maintenance. Perhaps the reason why our houses are designed without a maid room is a blessing to force us to think out of the box.
  6. Having live-in maids is an intrusion to our privacy limiting our freedom to express our views and thoughts openly and keeping our cash and valuable in open view.
  7. More child care centres professionally run must be licensed in every neighborhood so that families can place their young children in their care such as is done in developed countries where the families don't employ maids at all. We must emulate such a system.
I know of families that breath sighs of relief the day their lives resume minus the presence of maids at home. They can use smaller cars. They can go holiday without worrying where to park the maid if they don't want to buy extra air ticket or book extra room in the hotel. And they certainly don't have to put up with the moods and tanctrum of maids. They are after all human and do become difficult at times.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Port Klang Revisited

Last week I had the opportunity to google mapped Port Klang where I worked for almost 5 years in the shipping installation. Memories flooded my mind as I tried recollecting those days in the late 1970s onward that I drove daily for an hour to work from my home in Petaling Jaya.

In the recent weekend that my wife and I took to drive north to visit my mother in the old folks home where we found to our comfort and assurance that she is under good care I suggested we return home via a different route that takes us into Port Klang and then Klang to visit a friend who recently moved into their new house in Ambang Botanic.

After leaving my mother and assuring her we will be coming back very soon to celebrate her 88th birthday in August we took the coastal road into Port Klang. Being totally unfamiliar with this route my GPS navigator came in extremely handy. In fact it has helped me get out of wrong detours many a time that I even joked that my English navigator will always take me safely to my destination even if the route is a little longer.

On arrival at Port Klang I was greeted by a mess. The town was quite unkempt and saw very little development in the town centre except for an ugly massive overhead highway that snaked some 20 feet over the existing Jalan Kem. This highway linked North Port and the West Port via the Klang Strait Highway and Pulau Indah Highway. The adjacent shops were made unusable by this monstrous concrete structure that came within a few feet of the shops. And the roads I drove on are narrow and poorly maintained. The latter perhaps excusable as heavy commercial vehicles, trucks and containers ply certain stretches getting into the port installations.

I wanted to go to the Jalan Berembang where I worked before. It is in the older South Port area where barges and smaller ships berth to load and unload their cargoes. Containers and large vessels cannot berth here but in the North Port and the newer West Port which have deep water harbors for them to dock safely without grounding.

Even with the GPS finding Jalan Berembang was an effort. Although I could spot the familiar blue bulk storage tanks in the company I worked in (yes, the color had remained as it was even after 30 years!) I couldn't find the access as the road sign was non-existent. Making a second try I managed to find the road but what I saw was absolutely different from what I last imagined. There were flats and stalls and the surroundings were unkempt. I drove on very slowly, stopping twice to gaze at the other installations nearby, FELDA Bulk and Socship, before passing a convoy of parked lorry tankers to reach the installation I had worked in, HMPB Latex.

Being a Sunday there was no activity according to the security guard. I had thought the installation had gone out of business. In my days Sundays were working days. Our work was decided by the timetable of the tanker vessel into which we'd pump palm oil or latex for export. The port authority was guided by the tide to schedule the date and time each vessel will berth and depart from. Our shipping crew must ensure the liquid products were ready for pumping along the pipelines leading to the quayside. In the case of palm oil to ensure it was sufficiently heated up, in the case of latex, sufficiently matured, both to minimize risks of pipeline blockages that can lead to serious downtime, even missed shipment and penalties.

On this particular Sunday all the installations at Jalan Berembang were closed as there were no loading planned. I looked around inside and out. Nothing seems to have changed, even the signboard. The ownership of this installation had changed several years ago. Obviously the new owner was not bothered in ensuring visitors are aware of this. I took several photos for remembrance and explained to my wife what I used to do there 30 years ago. She never had the chance to visit being busy at work and looking after our 3 children. The security guard who had left his post when we arrived for a break and returned before we left explained that there is no more latex shipments now, only the palm oil. My request to enter for a look around was properly denied for security reason although I identified myself. In my mind I vividly recall a typical day when I reported for work at the JBI as we call it. I still remember the names of some of my colleagues, Yap Man Chan, Paul Eng, Kamaruddin Majid and Boilerman Din. Like me they have all retired. I wonder their whereabout...

Port Klang. It took up 5 years of my working life. It is no longer what I remembered. Those days were definitely better than now.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Disgusting and Irresponsible

THIS is disgusting. Admist the brouhaha over the irregularities over the conduct (or misconduct) of the Elections Commission during the GE13 which saw the Barisan government retained the right to government with a reduced majority of about 47%, it is now rewarding the employees of the commission. For what? For putting them back in power? Using whose money? Taxpayers? My money? I vehemently protest this sort of disgusting and high handed attempts to bribe civil servants setting a wrong perception that wrongdoing is acceptable. Even if there is no wrongdoing no reward must be offered to the employees for carrying out the duties of a paid job. But most certainly the top honchos, the chairman and the vice chairman must be disqualified from any incentives for their gross failures in managing a glitch-free general election. In fact for the fiasco created over the indelible ink issue that made us a laughing stock and caused much embarrassment they should have been sacked.


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