Last Saturdays, I was invited to be a part of a group of an alumni gathering who had once graduated from an institution called Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (National University of Malaysia), a public university which had churned me out with a few others into the world as lawyers (or other profession they so choose). My university is rarely known to produce law graduates and are so unknown that the usual questions when people asked my alma mater will be "Is there a Law Faculty in UKM?". Even when my seniors had become a Deputy Minister in Malaysia (yes, there is one), we still get this question. For me, as I never really care or give that much weightage from which university, local or otherwise, when you meet me, I don't really care. But, it does show how obscure we are.
Before the Asian financial crisis, the graduates from our alma mater was limited to at most 70 students at any one time. My batch, which was the ninth from nearly more than 20 now, was the last batch before we became another lawyer mills which can be found in abundance. At least, we have started to export our expertise in Islamic finance in which a lot of law graduates are needed everywhere. Malaysia can be a supplier of those experts if it know how to add additional training for them to still be relevant.
Anyway, as we were students there once, we were called to inspire the third year students of the things they can expect in the outside world. This was my second time here. The first time you can find in this post here : Scaring the kids in school. As this time there were more than 15 seniors, I tried to be more civil and inspire them to follow their hearts and learn new skills if they want to be relevant in the world outside. I told them inspiring stories about how those who succeed had become an expert in their field and those who dropped out managed to find their way to become top experts in other fields. I tried to be a bit mellow and more inspiring than when I met them first.
Maybe it was the first day of fasting month (which fell on that day) which had affected me...
Citizen journalist, a term coined to described those who saw incidents, report it to a news agency or use their own avenue such as blogs to tell their side of the stories. Much like a reporter, but they do not get paid for it, or if they do, it is through their own initiative. They are private entity, answer to no one and need not justify to anyone why they write something or has an opinion about something. Their only limitation is the law, that is if they have any respect for it.
When I moderated for an event in Penang titled eLawyer-Exabytes Penang Bloggers & Law Forum 2009, there were a group called citizen journalists who were also there to lern about the law. And boy, did they researched and did their homework. They nearly exposed my bluff when they started spewing court cases they have read. However, as a lawyer, I know the real working of courts and can finally answer them properly. Not just that the standard answer people like to use when answering question with regards to authority came in handy, which is "This is Malaysia....".
Back to these citizen journalist, bloggers are now known to be among those who are categorised as part of them. As a saying goes in Nuffnang.com.my website once, it is not what one blogger can do, but what thousands of them can do, which will matter in the long run. We are like a mob which will be the eyes and the ears of other citizens who wanted to know what is really happening in our part of the world. Bloggers in Malaysia are even said to be one of the reasons why certain states in Malaysia was won by the oppositions at the last election.
It seems that blogging is more than just reporting and being a citizen journalist is not something to be taken lightly anymore. Just ask those uber pro-blogger, who is on the run from the authority, and dispensing news from all over the world. They believe in what they do so much that they are willing to take on the mainstream media. Some of their readers are so fanatical in their believe that unless the news are verified by their favourite blogger's website, it will be just a propaganda by the government. Even the smart mainstream media has gone online to salvage their readership. And encourage their reader to be part of the revolution. Politics has also been a different kettle of fish nowadays.
So, have you been part of the citizen journalists before?
My interpretation for this short films this time is more as a commentary as the films are evidently easier to understand except for the final one :
The first one is a story about a student being assigned to do a model of his dream house. With the help of his mother, he built it and show it to his class the next day. His turn came after one boy showing a mansion and another a bungalow. Then, his own house is in danger of being roobed of him. Look closely at the choice of race which I believe is very apparent in Malaysian context, especially the teacher.
by Linus Chung
This next one is a parody which may seems funny but is real as the first film in 15Malaysia. It is about another misconception about the word HALAL or kosher (a Jewish term to best explain what halal is). It is a simple explanation, with a song, of what halal should be and not just the choice of the food (chicken in contrast with pork).
by Liew Seng Tat
This one is more serious and show the prejudice that people face everyday. It reminded me of my review of the film Gadoh (Fight!) about schoolchildren claiming their turf which you can find here in this link : Fight! at the Help University College. That movie will never be shown commercially as the reality will be too much for a lot pf people here but this short film is the gist of it. It is subtle but the message is clear. Children sometimes can be quite ruthless in their act.
This weekend, it will be a long holiday in Malaysia as 31st August which falls on Monday, is Malaysia's Independence Day. It is also in the middle of Ramadhan, a time when Muslims fast and abstain themselves from food during the day, among other things. It has been decided by the government, other than the timing, the celebration will also be subdued due to the H1N1 pandemic. So, the celebration will be among those working within the government and private functions. And I was expecting a quieter weekend with lesser traffic jams and lesser people going around trying to show their patriotism which sometime include being a public nuisance.
Alas, that was not meant to be. As this is just one of the two long weekends that we are going to experience, and coincide for a celebratory event, people are making the most out of it. The other long weekend is localised to certain states in Malaysia and will not be for a celebratory reason. I have been getting a lot of invites for celebration this weekend and even before the weekend starts. I think even tonight (Thursday night) there is a celebration of sort at one of the club. As I didn't replied for the invitation, I will be going home early for iftar (breaking of fast) and will try to sleep early.
Those other events that I was invited to. I have confirmed my attendance for a few of them which include :
1) A late night drinking session at a local stall with my ex-schoolmates. More of a "teh tarik" session that beer drinking session. I gave my "Maybe Attending" answer through Facebook as I am not sure whether my wife has a plan for herself that night or not. I always want to make sure she has something to keep her occupied if I have some shooting the breeze session with the boys. Anyway, any SMAPians who reads this, the session will be tomorrow (28th August) in NZ Wangsa Maju after 10pm until late;
2) A breaking of fast session with a group of bloggers from the Negaraku.net (a Malaysian blog aggregator in Bahasa Malaysia), which will be held at a restaurant famous for its roasted chicken in Pantai Dalam, Kuala Lumpur. I have never met any of them except for one blogger and his girlfriend. I use their site everyday to aggregate my post and I actually invited myself for this one. As they did wrote this one is an open invitation (and did not send a DO NOT COME email), I invited myself for me to the event to expand my blogger friends circle. You can read about that event at Noktahhitam.com;
3) On 29th August too, I was invited by Julian Hopkins for his birthday party. Julian is a blogger who is currently doing his PhD at a local university and I have met him at a few bloggers gathering. As he turns 40, he is throwing a big bash. Again, this is an open invite (though I got an email from him) and he asked me to bring along anyone who want to come for his birthday party in Petaling Jaya. So, anyone who wants to come for this event, can leave me a comment here. It will be between 8pm till late but I will only be there after event (2) has finished;
4) On 30th August, during iftar I will be bringing my in-laws to break fast somewhere around the Klang Valley. It would either be that or we will entertain them at our house. Either way, that day will be spent with them;
5) On the 31st of August, there will be two events held by the same organiser, Random Alphabet, in which I might only go to one. One is their Merdeka Train Party, an effort to do an impromptu independence day celebration on a train around Kuala Lumpur which open invitation you can find at this link - RA's Merdeka Train Party. It will be done flash mob style as all other events that Random Alphabet had organised before. At 6.30pm, Random Alphabet will also organise an event to launch their new "I love KL" t-shirts. As this one is a closed event, you can read about how to get the t-shirts at Random Alphabet's website, which link is here.
So, my supposedly quiet long weekend will be not so quiet and will be filled with activities ranging from a family affair to nostalgic event to blogger events and even an impromptu one. Just hope I can attend them all and has the stamina for it.
Some just join the army or the navy or whatever profession which allow you to shoot the enemy. No two ways about it. If this is not patriotic, I don't know what is. Some might not be brave or dumb enough, depending on how you see it but there are a lot of ways to be patriotic. This month of August is Malaysia's Independence Day. Much like any other country, we celebrate it like it was 1999. Fireworks. Countdowns. Parade. Roadblocks. Demonstrations. The usual.
Anyway, this year, as fate has it, our Independence Day or Merdeka in Malay which is well-known among Malaysians, fall on the month of Ramadhan. That means, most of those who want to be out celebrating will be denied the permission to be part of a celebration which has now known more for its mayhem and traffic jam. Religion plays a big reason for the subdued celebration as Ramadhan is a month of reflection for Muslims who are a big part of this country in more ways than one.
So, a few people who can be said to be creative and entreprising have decided there are ways to celebrate without seeming to be disrespectful to the holy month. I have been promoting their works and plans for the past few weeks and here is another post with the same intention. Promoting them.
1) The 15Malaysia short films project - Read about this P1 Wimax and Pete Teo's project by 15 directors from Malaysia in this post titled 15Malaysia is not enough but it is a great start. There are still 10 films to be released and I have reviewed the first 3 in this post titled The 1st 3 of 15Malaysia. This is one way of being patriotic but it is expensive and all you can do is watch. Or maybe spread the message across. Go to their website at 15Malaysia.com.
2) The Random Alphabet's Merdeka Train Party - Here is an inexpensive way to show your patriotism. Join some other patriots and decorate a coach on a train. Kuala Lumpur has so many of them. Take your pick from the Komuter, the Monorail, the LRT or the Rapid KL. I took a liberty to take a picture of one of them today which you can see below. All are public transport which runs on tracks. All have coaches. You will be assigned a specific location on the day itself and then you will be tasked with decorating a coachlike the second picture below. Get yourself invited at Open Invitation to the Merdeka Train Party.
People waiting for a Monorail while it was arriving
The inside of a Komuter and imagine the party you can have in it
These are just 2 ways of people showing their patriotism creatively. How did yours go?
The person featured above is a man who has been through failure but now owns 3 of the best franchises in Malaysia. Many do not even know the franchises are from Malaysia as the name seems to suggest otherwise. George Ang currently owns the company, Revenue Valley Sdn Bhd, which operates Tony Roma's (this is an American brand), Manhattan's Fish Market (built from scratch) and Tokyo G (which was Sushi Groove before). He owns 2 failed franchises called The Fish Market which was closed when its parents company in New Zealand went bankrupt and another one called Hainan Kopitiam which was a concept taken by another franchise which is a runaway success. Nowadays, he did not regret those failures anymore as his stores are all success stories and not just in Malaysia but also in a few other countries.
That was also the gist of his talk when I was at an event featuring him as one of the speaker for the event. I have posted a post on the event entitled 1Malaysia Entrepreneurship Month about how the co-owner of YouthAsia, Khailee who said Youth of Today are Disconnected. George was the other speaker and he was an alumnus of the Sunway University College unlike Khailee and he cited the lecturers who was sitting in the front row as his inspirations and this injected a kind of nostalgic atmosphere a bit.
George showing us his company's major milestone
Although I was invited by my friend, Kid Chan, to see him talk at this event, the real reason I was there was to hear the Managing Director of Revenue Valley to divulge his secret to success. George Ang is very unassuming and the secret that he divulged was no secret at all. It is simply to not be afraid to fail.If you do fail, deal with it and think your way out of it. It will teach you how to be tough or tougher still if you are tough enough already.
I saw what he has achieved by looking at all his food outlets and although the program was for the university students, for someone like me, it was also important to remember that although we never planned for failure, we must always plan for any failure. Other than his story about failures, he also regaled us on how to run a successful restaurant franchise. His life story and how he built the company was interesting. I bet the students learnt a lot from all that.
For me, that advice about accepting failure and dealing with it is one of the highlight of the event...
My wife and I have been planning to go on this train ride which is quite expensive which is a journey within the continent of Asia called the Eastern and Oriental Express. They are kinda the cheaper version of the Orient Express, which itself was immortalised in the book by Agatha Christie (1934) and then made into a Hollywood film of the same name (1974). Both the Eastern and Oriental Express and the Orient Express have one thing in common. Luxurious travel on a train. Romantic huh? Wait when you hear how much the cheapest trip will cost you. Look it up yourself. It will be my dream to take my wife on it one day (either one will do).
Anyway, one of the luxury they offer is to throw a party for you and your guests on board of the train. Wouldn't that be just peachy. And expensive too. Of course, it will be. If paying for 2 people to travel can cost you upward of RM10,000-00 or USD$2,800-00, imagine the cost to lease a whole coach for you and your guest. I bet there are already being thrown on it by various people and as these parties are usually are kept private, we rarely hear of them. I guess if these luxurious trains have been plying the same routes for nearly more than 50 years (just look at the publishing date of the book by Agatha Christie), there must have enough customers (who are rich) without even so much of a television or a magazine ads.
What if this type of party can be duplicated? Someone is trying to do this in commemoration of Malaysia's 52nd independent this coming 31st August. That someone is the brain behind Random Alphabet who goes by the name Zain HD. He is a law graduate who seems to be doing events which can be said to be out of this world. He had organised the KL Freeze in unison, the Reading While Waiting Project and a Pillow Fight in the middle of a mall's carpark. Read his accomplishment in those links above. There are educational articles for you too in that side to, well, educate yourself.
If this is the first time you are hearing about it, this coming 31st August, there will be parties held on trains across the Klang Valley. And you are invited. You will be decorating, taking pictures, playing party games and even clean up in that party. And then you will be introduced to the world by the pictures that you take and the videos that you make.
How do you join in? Well, just click this here which is an Open Invitation to the Merdeka Train Party, put down your email and instruction will be given to you. It is kinda like a Mission Impossible assignment, minus the exploding notes (or Rayban). Then, when you do join in, please remember why we are celebrating. Not just for the fun but for celebrating an important chapter in Malaysia's life.
Had the chance to hear a few entrepreneurs to speak today when my friend, Kid Chan (which I love to write a post in tribute to him one day and will, at a later date), invited me to come to a university college just across the street from my office. As I have the car today, due to another meeting, I drove to the place. I was in two minds of whether I want to go or not this afternoon but when I heard the talks given by these three entrepreneurs, I was not disappointed. They have stories to tell and then some. The talk was for the launch of 1Malaysia Entrepreneurship Month at this university called Sunway University College.
One of the speakers is Khailee, the founder of a website called YouthAsia which is basically an internet survey website which do surveys among those between the age of 16 to 35. I am a member though I am at the final age bracket. The other two are accomplished too (which I will reserved for another post) but what this guy said was what hit me about youth today.
As he owns a survey website, he basically threw at the audience statistic which he had collected through his website which was just over a year old. Among the statistic is the question, can the youth of today lead the country and what do they think of the current Malaysian leader. His site was the one which had asked, under instruction of the Prime Minister's office, what do the youth think of the current Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak which came back with 45% of them favouring him.
Then after showing the 'surprising' statistics, he made a statement which hit me quite hard. That statement is how far the youth, with all these capabilities and all, is so disconnected with their parents generation. They are so into the internet that they can connect in an instance with each other around the world, regardless whether they have met each other or not, but they cannot even talk about the basic stuff with their parents. Parents came to Khailee and asked him how to connect with their children 24/7 on the Playstation or the internet. Some even joined Facebook or other social network to understand their children.
In the next few month, movies like Gamer and Surrogates will be released. Watch them and try to understand how we are disconnected by technology. Then think back to what this guy had said, then crawl back into whatever cocoon you have chosen to be in...
I have said that I will support this project in the little way I can, whether noticed or not by those involved directly with it. 15Malaysia is a great project and the 14 movies that I have seen was commentaries of life here in Malaysia. What we have been through and what the people (or rakyat) are really facing then, now and even in the future. We are just 52 years old but we have come of age much earlier than any other nation as we have history leading to the 12th century (if history is to be believed). No one really belong here but you can say that to nearly 80% of the world.
In the first film, Potong Saga, the story is about a Chinese boy, played by a controversial figure, Namewee, who was ostracized for the way he sang the Malaysia national song. He now seems bend on making fun of himself looking like a clueless kid but I bet that is just a persona that he wants people to think of him. Here is the video for your watching pleasure :
by Ho Yuhang
The issue is about the misunderstood concept of Islamic finance. Namewee was told by his elders that he need to be circumcised (in Malay it means POTONG) to be able to open an Islamic finance account in banks in Malaysia. Seriously, he did and the consequences were some humourous episodes of misadventures.
by Yasmin Ahmad
The second film is a bit subtle about the races of Malaysia tolerating each other while having to live with each other. They don't really understand each other but they choose to live together. The influence asserted by their elders become entrenched in them. This is my understanding and may not be agreed upon by all.
I have been collecting followers on Twitter for the past few months like crazy. If not for two regularization by Twitter, in which they cleaned up spam bots and those who spam, I would have reached 2000 followers a long time ago. However, Twitter did cleaned up their registry and it was only after several months I managed to finally get more than 1000 followers. Of all those 1000 followers, I actually know around a hundred of them personally. Some I do know in real life and some are those whom I know are real persons when I exchange ideas with them through Twitter. As for the other followers, as to why they are following me, that is a mystery to me.
I have not been able to explain to my offline friends who wanted to utilize Twitter, what is Twitter and what does it do. In simplest term, I simply refer them to the working of another more powerful social networking site called Facebook. There is the function of status updates in Facebook and that is basically what Twitter is. To update your followers, who might be your friends or not, what you are doing. It may be as mundane as eating some pasta or as important as giving a speech to the whole nation (Malaysia's Prime Minister do has a Twitter account which he updates regularly).
What is amazing about Twitter are the new friends you can make from it, the new business you can generate from it and some new money-making mechanisms you can get to learn. There are a lot of new things inside Twitter. You can even stalk celebrities using Twitter.
How do you do all this? One of the way is to Twitter and find out how it works. Add some people in as friends (followers) and follow some other people as their follower. Some might follow you back. Introduce yourself through the Direct Message feature. If you have an iPhone, you can use some of the applications in iPhone made for Twitter like Tweetdeck. Blackberry also has a Twitter called TwitterBerry, among others. There are a lot of them around for people who have different devices to utilize.
If you want to have more followers, try the few sites which can help you promote yourself, like Huge Following. You can also do it manually by looking for interesting people and following the one by one. When you have a certain amount of followers, then you will understand the power of Twitter.
I did and now Twitter gives me at least USD$2-00 per day...
On Wednesday, I went again to what is known as The Comedy Club, Kuala Lumpur, which by now has been quite well-known thanks to their first 2-days gig last month, which post you can read here in my other blog, As Good As It Gets titled Comedy Club KL : A Report. A serious title for a funny matter right? This time it was at a small theater called PJ Live Arts and is done to spread some breast cancer awareness. There are one more nights, after tonight which was tomorrow night, which is a Friday (21st August) and they will be at Zouk, Kuala Lumpur. Check their website here.
I have always believe all comedians are serious people, except for a few. They are social commentators who are in your face, telling you that something you have just witness or know about is actually funny, but...
The gig that I went to yesterday, reaffirmed my belief. They are serious and they are even willing to go into a fight with you, there and then, to prove a point. My advice is not to sit close to the front if you know what is good for you. This warning was given in that first gig by the moderator, Jonathon Atherton, who is funny but will pick on you like a bully in a playground. Yeah, you can laugh, but...
Then, what will comedy be without making fun of people right. Why not make fun of the people in the audience? Why must all the famous people are poked fun at. YOU too should be put under the limelight. Some warnings which you should know is that you may be labelled as a hooker and a few other derogative words which you can think of. All races will be make fun off from the Nigerian to the Muslims to the black people and even the white people. Paul Chowdry (the headliner) does a wicked impersonation of a few people and even characters from movies. All are for fun, but...
You can check the August line-up at the Comedy Club Kuala Lumpur official website, but if you think you want to take your first date there, do not say I didn't warn you. And for the sake of our country, do not fight back, either with your own comeback or with your fist. Believe me, you would want to at some point, but....
The moderator who is just as funny by the name The Real T.J. (forewarned of Obama jokes)
Malaysian flavour brought to you by a young 22 year old Kuah Jenhan, from the same outfit of Andrew Netto known as Young Comedian of Malaysia (YCOM)
This Australian guy is called Garry Who
and he prepares you for the assault that will come with the next comedian
You cannot label him as unoriginal but you must have strong stomach
Was given another pair of free tickets and went to watch the movie, Orphan, alone as my wife hates horror movie and my friend who was supposed to be filler did not made it due to heavy rain. It was not really a horror movie but it was another serial killer movie. And this time, it was supposedly by a child. It was not the first though as Macaulay Culkin did The Good Son years ago in 1993 had the same storyline (which actually is much scarier if you think about it).
This one is about Esther who is a 9 year old child who went on a killing spree. Basically, you can know that if you see the trailer. The mystery, ala Six Sense and a few pretenders, is why. Who is this Esther? That is the answer which you will get to know at the last minute of the movie. The answer will be a surprise and no one will guess it. Unless you understand Russia. Look at how she dress...
Russia is the key and if you know how true of a few facts about that country, you will understand how and why.
The movie is scary in its idea but the factors that they used to scare you are used various times like door slamming or people supposedly behind doors but are not and various other techniques. The movie did stopped itself from using flashback to tell part of the stories but you get the ideas from the story told by the character like why a character is deaf or what happened that made one character drinks.
However, please bear in mind, it is not a horror story (trust me, it is not). It is a Manson type of murder movie, up there with Saw and all those other serial killer movie. And if only you had guessed it, you may never want to know Esther.
As a part of a media team (which I was surprised to be a part of as I never thought bloggers as media), I was invited for an entertaining evening by a new broadband powerhouse in Malaysia, which goes by the name P1 Wimax. This is the same P1 Wimax which I have mentioned before in my earlier post which had allowed me to test one of their product which is called a Wiggy. I had stated in that post a bit of frustration in their service but as a person, I love how they do their public relation. They seem to hit all the right button with the media in trying to promote their new business. They have just turned 1 year old yesterday and I think they can be a company to be reckoned with in a few years (not that they are not now but it is too early to tell).
Free popcorn and drinks for all
Anyway, the event that they invited me too was a very unique event. It is the showcase of 15 films (14 actually as 1 did not finished on time, yet) which were commissioned by P1 Wimax to coincide with the independence day of Malaysia on 31st August this year. These films are only available online. The brainchild of a singer, writer and patriot extraordinaire, a guy by the name of Pete Teo. He was the man behind another Malaysia unity project by the name of Malaysia Artist for Unity or MAFU and as was told by the CEO of P1 Wimax, Pete approached them 8 months ago and proposed this idea. P1 Wimax commissioned them and yesterday all were unveiled (except one) and we were treated to the shorts in an IMAX theatre.
The idea of making 15 short films by extraordinary directors, accomplished in their own ways. Some are known by Malaysian but some are only known outside of Malaysia. The pictures above are combo pictures of them and I think most would love to be known for the films they have done for this project.
This post will be really long if I want to do it in one posting. I am going to do a few postings as the films are released gradually every Monday, Wednesday and Friday over the next few weeks. It started yesterday and will end on 16th September 2009 which is Malaysia Day (different than Malaysia Independence Day). Some of the postings may be about the films being released released and what I understand out of it. When I saw some of it, some left a taste of bitterness as they are social commentaries which are true but hard to swallow. Most can be viewed as humorous but the messages will also make you think. They are all inherent to Malaysia but it may also apply elsewhere too. The website for the downloads is 15Malaysia.com. Currently, there is only one film which has been released called Potong Saga (a play on word of our national car which is Proton Saga) which is about the misconception of Islamic finance and has to do with circumcision (a joke among the non-Muslims who wants to marry any Muslim girl) :
In the space of a few weeks, I have a few developers approaching me to arrange for them to get bankers who are willing to finance their projects with the price that they have set their house to be sold for. Why this is happening is due to the fact that certain banks that they have approached have sent valuers to see and value the project and these valuers have decided that the houses shouldn't be sold at that price. This is rare one or two years ago as valuers and bankers have usually follow the price set by the developers. Most developers do not set the price at a whim but usually have done research and everything that needed to be done as they will need to entice buyers to buy the properties which they are trying to sell.
So, it is a wonder why bankers seem to be setting the bar too high for the developer as they are still willing to give financing to the buyer of the properties sold by the developers but banks are lowering the margin which they are giving financing too. A RM100,000-00 house, which usually can get a financing of 90% will now will only get a financing of 70% to 80% the most especially at the suburbs. Developers have come knocking on our doors (which is rare) as they cannot find a banker who are brave enough to finance their project.
I actually told off a few bankers as they seem to be creating a bubble on their own as they seem to be saying the data and the pricing for houses which are sold by developers are wrong. They are also saying that prices of houses which have been sold for quite sometime at certain prices are wrong and should be brought lower. This is a sub-prime crisis all on its own in the making.
Granted that developers do try to sell certain properties at unreasonable prices that they have been asking for RM1000-00 per square feet at places which can only reach that price if Malaysia has more expatriate community than what it has now. However, they seem to think within a space of a year or two, the places around the Malaysian icon, KLCC deserves to be sold at high prices. Within a year, when the economic crisis hits our shore, the prices has now come down.
However, that does not mean prices must come down in all places. Prices of building materials did rise and labour has become more expensive due to certain circumstances. Factoring this, shouldn't price of houses became a bit expensive. Naysayer may say it is good as people will have cheaper prices for houses but economic wise they may not see the repercusion in the long run. Hope these cases that my office are witnessing are just some isolated instances which are not so widespread. What are these bankers doing? Want to bring sub-prime here?
If the scientists can say this when they talk about small things like photon and germs, we, as lawyers, can say this when we talk about the law. This is one of the most misunderstood piece of law which is in place everywhere you go, whether you are a resident of the country or someone who just came into the country. This law is where not knowing the law of the land where you have just comes into, does not make you unaccountable for any crime which that country has labelled as a crime. In short, if you did something which may be legal in your country, but you did not know that it is a crime where you have just landed.
The maxim which lawyers love to quote is : Ignorantia Legis Non Excusatwhich is a latin word that basically means, Ignorant of the Law is No Excuse. Layman term, not knowing the law does not excuse you from being charge with a crime (or found guilty of it).
You can pretend that you don't know the law of the land which you have just entered. How many times have you read people who are conned into bringing drugs into other countries and get caught for it. They are called Drug Mules and they are usually gullible teenagers who were tricked by casanovas or beautiful girls. When any of them are caught, although some do know that they are being used for bad intention, they are still charged in court for bringing into the country illegal contraband. Even if they are found innocent and does not know that they are doing something illegal, it does not release them from being liable.
In Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, anyone bringing in drugs can be sentenced to death and cases like this have been heard so many times. Maybe as human, you can say that it is a harsh penalty but it is a fact that drugs is a menace to most Asian countries and have been viewed as something governments want to curb. So, again, not knowing does not release you from liability of a criminal charge.
I read this statement in a book called Ninja by Eric Van Lustbader who has now been commissioned to write books for the estate of another famous writer, Robert Ludlum (which is another trend deserving another rant). Eric Van Lustbader is now more known as Eric Lustbader. This guy had a good series which involves foreigners becoming good at Japanese martial art and he had another name when he writes erotica. He also wrote science fiction. So, just imagine how diverse he can be.
I think Robert Ludlum and Lustbader deserves their own post which I will write soon. Ludlum being one of my first favourite political action thriller book writer and Lustbader being my guilty pleasure whom I suspect is behind the soon to be released movie entitled Ninja. I hate the fact that Lustbader has sold out and is writing for another person whom I considered as a writing icon.
This post is more of what I have read in one of Lustbader books on ninja. Most of the philosophy in Lustbader books came from a religion called Shinto. Mirror and water and all the elements in the world play a big part in the philosophy. However, I really love that particular saying which actually helped me in my fear of darkness.
I was living with my parents in a very secluded place when I was just 11 years of age until I was 12. I was known to be very afraid of darkness. I was actually there as a punishment for not really doing well at my earlier school. I was living with my grandmother then (which is another different story altogether). So, my parents want to supervise me to bring up my grades. The house we lived in was so big that you can have a football field build on the square feet of the house. I even played badminton on its balcony a few times.
The wording of the book "Darkness is the absence of light" really helped me overcome my fear who are always left alone until late at night by my parents who were always working, then. I always tell the words over and over again as I go from room to room. Then, as an adult, I still think this wording applies as it shows the human nature of why people do certain things. I mean, everyone has some goodness in them but when they do bad stuff, they have a space in their heart which makes them do such things.
It may not be the perfect philosophy to live by but as for me, it is just one of the maxim I hold in life...
Got a free movie tickets thanks to Nuffnang which seems to be good to me these days. Next week also got another preview screening by them. But clashes with another event which is more business-like. So, still 50 : 50 of going to the movie Orphan. For District 9, it was so good that my wife said, who hated aliens and gory movie commented, she was thankful that she came with me to watch it. When I told her what it was all about, at first she was not interested.
SUBTLE SPOILERS AHEAD
I actually beg to differ on the premise that what the film was trying to portray was what had happened to the place where the movie is supposed to have happened. The place is Johannesburg and the film was done in a realistic (and some people say, Cloverfield) style of film-making and it is so realistic as some may think that it is real news. I mean, it started off as a documentary before it became a full action-packed film full with Predator-like weaponaries and even a spaceship to match (although the spaceship hanging all the time on top of Johannesburg was there from the first minute of the film).
Some may say that it starts of a bit boring but it did not stop it to from becoming exciting real fast. When a movie has aliens involved, unless it has Terry Gilliam as its director, the word 'boring' is rarely there. But it did started a bit slow and disorient you with a boring person being interviewed trying to explain his 'boring' job. As we were brought to the 'slum', then the excitement begins.
Before you start pile up the kids and bring them to the cinema to see some E.T. being all cute and stuff, let me give you two words for you to digest. 'Gory' and 'Bloody' are two nice words to explain the film. Nice because the film show more than that. There are extraterrestial sexual activities. Voodoo. Crazy people. Crazy aliens. Crazy machines. Crazier filmmaker as they are the one who brought you the vision. And the whole idea of the film is these images.
This man finally changed to
a version of this
...and, it is so not beautiful when it happens....and in between the issue of racism is hinted in a way but as I said, I beg to differ.
For the past few weeks, I have met personally a few Google employees in Malaysia. It started with an accidental meeting with the only Google employee in Malaysia who actually has his own desk in Googleplex. How cool is that? I mean, people keep saying that Googleplex is the epitome of cool and is where everyone in geekdom, want to work and there I was meeting with someone who actually works there.
However, before you think that he really commute to the States everyday, let me clarify. He has a desk there but he actually work from home in Malaysia and he is not the one you get to meet for your Google question. And he is not one of those guys who does the mapping for Google. I actually never really understand his function but it is more towards sourcing and troubleshooting any country related problem which crops up. He did say that he is the one which feeds Google the content for their Malaysian look for the word GOOGLE in their country specific Google site.
He also dispel the rumour about Google close to signing with a Malaysian partner to represent them here in Malaysia. It seems that every IT company in Malaysia is claiming that. And if that ever happens he said it will only be on the technical side. Google still will be controlling directly its contents and offerings on the web.
3 days after I met him, thanks to my friend, Kid Chan, I was at another Google event, which was the launch of their celebrity endorsed Google places. There, I met a few more Google employees and they are based in Singapore. It seems that they have a fully functional office in Singapore with a full roster of employees in contrast with Malaysia which has one person working for Google. I met the Head of Marketing and Sales of Google Singapore (or was it South East Asia?) there.
One generalisation which I like to make with regards to Google employees are they are all quite a looker. And this is not inherent towards the women only. The Malaysian guy was even known among the geek community as Handsome H (sorry girls, taken) and I even mistaken the marketing head that I met as a movie star or a male model when he was interviewed on the launch of the Google pin in Malaysia (The guy sitting in the picture on top there). Read that post about the Google pin here.
And what I want to know is, how the hell do one get that Google t-shirt they have been giving all over town at events and such for the past two, three weeks.
Last week, I was at two places where there were a lot of foreigners. One was a conference in which an Islamic finance was the topic of the day and there were representatives from various agencies like banks, institutions, authorities and private individual who came to here what Islamic finance is all about. Another was a resort which is marketed and catered mostly to Western travellers. For the former, I was there as I currently doing post graduate study in Islamic finance and the latter was for my wedding anniversary.
When I am at a place like these two places, one of the misconception that I am often guilty of doing is seeing all the foreigners as coming from one same place which I classified as the Western hemisphere. Although I have travel around the world a lot (except to the Americas), I still thinks that when placed together, most Westerner, especially Caucasians, look alike. Even when I am at an Islamic finance conference where the people comes from Middle East, Europe, Australia and even Americas.
It was a topic with this one guy I met at the said Islamic finance conference I was at last week. We were saying our goodbye and one of the norms is to say "Keep in Touch". In a modern society like now, although the technology is so advanced, that you have this thing called Poken (which came out of Japan) where you can touch yours and whomever you meet to exchange your social network data, you still exchange business cards when you meet someone in a business environment. How I wish that poken thing can evolve fast into something more business-like. As of now, Poken is only available in those cute looking stuff that Japanese love to create with a cartoon-like character holding out its hands where you can lap the hand of the other person's Poken. You can read my friend Niki Cheong's blog to understand it more. The link is here.
Anyway, back to looking alike. If we think Westerners look alike, I bet you guys also think the same as us. Maybe as the world become more of a globalise village, we would be looking more and more alike and then maybe being an Easterner or Westerner wouldn't make any different and then wouldn't that make it more difficult?
As I was walking the beach fronting the resort where I was staying, I stumbled upon a small village at the end of the beach. The village started with these two houses which were rather big and the gates leading to them were locked. I was intrigued and when I neared the place, I saw this sign :
The sign for the homestay
I never stayed in a homestay whilst I am in Malaysia as I have the tendency to stay at hotels where all that I need are around the hotels. I did stayed in a homestay in Munich, Germany, once in which I had the misfortune of walking into the bathroom which was occupied and saw the homestay owner taking a dump. (that homestay had the owner staying in the same house with you). That really gave me something to remember Munich by. I always wonder what experience would I gain if I ever take the chance in staying in a homestay in Malaysia.
I had the chance to see a homestay which cost nearly as much as staying at a hotel. However, based on the intricacies of the design of the wooden houses, I find the aestatic value of those houses make it worth the price that you pay for them. I am not sure how much the owner of these houses charges for a night or a week stay in them but I might just return to the same beach (which is shared by the resort I was staying) and stay in them.
I have just returned from a place where nearly 90% of the occupants were foreigners. Let me make a disclaimer (which I have written about last week and is basically useless in dispelling any feeling of animosity if people interpret my ranting as directed to them. Read all about disclaimer in my article Disclaimer are just to give you a peace of mind). My disclaimer is that this post is directed to all my fellow Asian who seems to change their way of treating their fellow countrymen when there are other nationalities around. This post is directed to all those who work in the hospitality industry. It is not against any particular place or people but it is directed generally.
As much as I hate to say that this issue has been harped by a lot of people and accept the fact that those who are in the industry will ever change their mind, I would love sometimes to jump on the same bandwagon as those who have been treated badly and bitch about the same thing. I experienced a lot of this and when I do get the cold shoulder from someone who had just been all smile when he was with the Westerner or Middle Eastern before me, I would engage them there and then. If I am not in the mood, I would just brush off the treatment and treat him or her better than he or she was treating me. If I am in the mood, he or she will get an earful from me. So, it will all depend on the mood I am.
As much as I understand how hard it is to be in the service industry (which my profession is also in the same position), I just don't understand the way double standard is applied on locals and foreigners. I have accepted this as7 a fact of life and in Malaysia it happens at hotels, restaurants and boutiques. Especially by those who always receive great tips from the foreigners as Malaysia did promote a No Tipping policy once which most Malaysian still holds dear especially when all service businesses charge 10% service charge on all their bill.
Discrimination can happens in many forms and as much as waiters or those who service us are discriminate by those who do not have moral compass, they in turn discriminate against the middle class who sometimes chances upon their establishment occasionally. Again, I believe all this is just a part of life as I also believe it is not exclusive to my country or in this part of the hemisphere only.
Try getting good service in a restaurant frequented by foreigners in whatever country
As for me, a 3 day weekend at a resort north-east of Malaysia was all that I need to have the energy to plunge headlong into a week full of work. I have lined up a few matters to be settled by me which include certain personal matters and work.
I need to start writing and editing the book I have found a publisher to publish.
I need to finish a few proposals which include my firm's loan, a script, a big event and a website project.
I need to look for a new car. And the money to pay for it.
I need to discuss a few projects with a few friends.
Hmmm.... maybe, I better take one day at a time...
How often do you here people use the word like family business? Mafia usually use it. As for, that can only mean doing business with your other family member or spouse. I have been involved in my parent's family business since time immemorial (at least to me).
My parents own lots of land. Some they planted fruit trees. Some they turned into developments. Other than that, they also owned a landscaping business. I state here "owned" as I have been pushing them to close the business since 5 to 6 years ago. I don't see any one of my siblings, me included who will be willing to take over.
As for the lands, the one which are turned into an orchard is there to allow my brothers to come and eat fruits such as durian, manggis, langsat and all the Malaysian local fruits. I am not really a local fruit eater but I always treat my clients and friends to these fruits when they are in season. Some of those clients who get invited always ask the next year if the furits are in season. This year, sadly, the trees did not bear a good harvest.
I always wonder what would be my current profession if I have greener fingers than I have now. My wife did worked with my parents once but it did not work out. She do helped now and again with paperwork still but the real work is done by my parents.
There is a saying in Chinese that the third generation will lose all the wealth accumulated by the first and the second generation. In my family's case, it did not even go past the second generation...
The worker of my parents' landscape company doing some work
Somebody did asked me how many places I have been this year? On holiday that is? I have travel out of Malaysia once but have really go on holiday within Malaysia nearly 5 to 6 times this year. And as you are reading this, I am in Tanjong Jara Resort in Terengganu. My flight was at 2.50pm just now and I arrived at 4pm.
Here are some holiday pictures from this year :
In Bandung during Chinese New Year where all we did were shopping
Day trip to Malacca, the historical town
Singapore trip in June with my whole family for the Singapore Sale
A few stays at hotel around KL just for the fun of it
and at the Ritz (pictured here) for the full butler service
The only problem with me is I can't keep my mind off my office. I will at least call them once just to ask whether everything is okay. That is why this anniversary trip, we are on a weekend trip as the office is close, so I cannot be distracted.