Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Social Media is ol' news bro!

I got news for you pal – social media is not new - David Wang.

The blogger and self confessed online marketing evangelist emphasized that: In the end, we’ll all realize that “social media” will become just “regular ol’ media”.

He's also a committee member of the Social Media Club (logo above), Kuala Lumpur Chapter.

Wang wrote: Add that to the speed of conversation and the reach of the internet and boom – social media is now rivaling traditional media as an influence platform.

Read the whole article here.

Recently, a speaker at a forum : Marketing Chapter: Advertising Outlook in 2010, Ben Israel, digital strategy director, Integricity Corporation Sdn Bhd said "You can't call it 'New Media' any more, because it's not new any more."

"In 2009, everyone is online. It’s not just the young people any more. You can’t say it’s just the kids who are online any more," said Israel.

Since the rise of social media, many advertisers have jumped onto the bandwagon – for example, by paying bloggers to write advertorials or sponsoring products for them to review – simply because research says "word of mouth" is the most trusted medium.

People ‘n Rich-H Sdn Bhd managing director Marilyn Teoh said her company has started to monitor social media, what it says about clients and their brands.

"After listening to them (consumers), we start a conversation with them to build a relationship with them," she said.

While social media is often used by advertisers, it can also be a public relations tool. In fact, it is a holistic tool, said Teoh.

That is why advertisers are now engaging on blogs and bloggers to 'endorse' their products.

"We treat a blogger as a news reporter, we give him the credibility. Let them blog about their true experience," she added.

Warren Tan, Integricity Corporation managing director however emphasized on the need of a strategy. "Social media needs to work hand-in-hand with other non-social media strategies," he said.

Concurring on the need of focusing on the right strategies, Neo@Ogilvy media director Stanley Tay said, "The challenge is looking at social media and finding the right target segment."

Read the whole article here.

So can we term Social Media as the current or contemporary media if it's not new anymore.

What then can the traditional media be called - ancient media?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mingguan looks happy scooping away uncertain news

The folks at Mingguan Malaysia today (read: Utusan) looks like they are gloating with delight with their latest news scoop - Raja Petra berada di London?. But they are not sure, hence the question mark.

And yet they front paged the news, although the complete write-up was only a short 12 para on page 17 - only for readers to find out that the news was from another source, and the source wasn't even named nor regarded by them (Utusan) as reliable.

Words and phrases like "kini dipercayai", "menurut sumber", "sumber terbabit tidak menyebut" were used, making it as if it's just another of those thrasy write-ups worthy of a Mingguan Perdana type of tabloid publishing.

And yet for a mainstream media as big as Utusan, it is front paged without any qualms.

Malaysia Today also carried the news in its website with some 12 commenters poking fun at the news item at the time this post is published.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Appeals Court overturns High Court ruling not to interrogate after office hours

Ha..ha.. dah agak dah...!

When was the last time the Appeals Court ruled something in favour of the powerless marhain? I would like to know...

Next time, if you want to challenge these people, use another court - badminton court. Then there's a chance you can win.

Court: MACC can interrogate witnesses after office hours
Pearl Lee
Thursday, December 17th, 2009 12:58:00

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal this morning ruled that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) can interrogate witnesses beyond office hours.

In allowing the MACC's appeal, the court quashed a High Court order requiring the MACC to conduct its interrogation during office hours, from 8.30am to 5.30pm.

Last month, High Court judge Justice Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof had declared in a landmark ruling that witnesses could only be questioned by MACC from 8.30am to 5.30pm each day.

The ruling followed a lawsuit by Kajang municipal councillor Tan Boon Wah challenging MACC's interrogation procedures.

In a unanimous decision today, the Court of Appeal Judge Justice Hasan Lah, who sat together with judges Justice Ahmad Maarop and Justice Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad, ruled that Section 30(3)(a) of the MACC Act 2009 did not set any time limit for the MACC to interrogate witnesses.

The Malaysian Insider has the details.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Utusan and their ilks are at it again - making fun of Najib's 1Malaysia?

Looks like the Prime Minister's PR drive (or exercise, if you prefer) of turning this country into a one nation entity - whereby every citizen irregardless of their race (ethnicity, language and religion) respects each other despite their differences - is heading into a bottleneck jam, if not a dead end street.

As if all of the racist statements and hatred sentiments toward the other races made were not blunders but deliberates, Utusan's controversial columnist, Zaini Hassan is again at his best - poking fun at his detractors.

This time it is against the 3 reports made by readers in response to his article Alkisah India di India dan India di Malaysia, published in Utusan Malaysia on 11 Dec, 2009.

To add insult to injury, Utusan portrayed its sarcasm through Zaini's caustic article: "Cuit 'mogok menulis' minggu ini" with a funny caricature of Zaini in all his Inglourious Basterds pose - hands and feet tied-up and duct tape on his 'big mouth' sitting on his armchair at his office (click on pic above for a bigger view).

The Malaysian Insider today published Dr Lim Teck Ghee's article condemning Utusan's arrogance in an article: Utusan Malaysia: Messenger of hate and spite on religion and race.

Dr Lim Teck Ghee emphasized the contrast between the noble values and reasoned and rational statements of his Muslim colleagues and the “Islamic supremacy” mindset and irrational and provocative ranting by the editors of Utusan Malaysia.

It makes him wonder what version of Islam is the newspaper promoting.

"The contrast between these Muslim colleagues committed to values of justice, freedom, equality and peace that are common to all religions and faiths, and the Utusan proponents of a racist and religiously warped social order for Malaysia could not be more striking," he wrote.

Meanwhile, in Facebook today, readers all over the country have been busy sharing their POV of what I consider another very damaging attempt towards the Prime Minister's 1Malaysia policy.

Click on the pic below for a bigger view

My playlist isn't playing

For two days I can't seem to be able to solve this - why isn't my Mixpod playlist playing the tunes? I can't even play the songs in the Mixpod site itself.

I give up for now...

I'm removing it till I solve the problem.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The prevalence of tabloidism in Malaysia - a decaying mentality or a novelty?

The supposedly academic title above splashed out in my mind immediately when I read the Malaysiakini Malay version today:

Tabloid Melayu kian popular, harian merosot
by Salhan K Ahmad
Dis 11, 09

Dua harian berpengaruh bahasa Melayu mencatatkan penurunan jumlah edarannya tetapi tabloid terbitan syarikat media yang sama merekodkan kenaikan, sehingga 12 peratus setahun lalu.

Jumlah edaran Utusan Malaysia menurun sehingga 8 peratus kepada 181,346 nashkah, sementara Berita Harian pula merosot 5 peratus kepada 183,187 naskhah.

Kosmo! mengalami kenaikan tertinggi sebanyak 12 peratus kepada 129,663 naskhah, manakala Harian Metro naik 4 peratus kepada 338,552 naskhah).

Continue reading here.

The term tabloid, when referred to journalism and publication means the size of the newspaper or publication - tabloid size.

But the term tablodism is rarely used, albeit not new, only not popularized, especially by academics.

Yahoo! education reference gave the definition of tabloid as:
NOUN: A newspaper of small format giving the news in condensed form, usually with illustrated, often sensational material.

1. In summary form; condensed.
2. Lurid or sensational.

Thefreedictionary gave a similar meaning with added emphasis on photos used in the publication:
1. a newspaper with pages about 30 cm (12 inches) by 40 cm (16 inches), usually characterized by an emphasis on photographs and a concise and often sensational style Compare broadsheet
2. (modifier) designed to appeal to a mass audience or readership; sensationalist the tabloid press tabloid television

Hence, tabloidism is also short of tabloid journalism, which also means the type of journalism that focuses or emphasizes tabloid style reporting. It can also mean the 'mentality' of the readers whose preference are of this category.

So what have become of our Malay readers with this revelation that there are more tabloid readers than broadsheet. Is it because readers are getting lazy to read more serious stuff or trying to save money by buying tabloids which is cheaper? Or is it because of the latter - readers 'mentality' going down the tabloidism lane.

In Malay, I believe the correct translation of tabloidism is picisan - akhbar picisan.

So can we arbitrarily relate that if there is a significant increase of akhbar picisan readers in Malaysia, then tabloidism (in the sense of readers' decaying mentality) is prevalent?

Yes and no. No if I just keep dreaming on...! Yes if I can start doing my work to proof it with fresh primary data.

But how to do work? no fulus...!

Always got excuse one...banyak kerja weh...!

Thanks to Mohd Fudzail (Dotkomania) for the link.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Jurusan komunikasi massa - antara course paling simple dan mudah lulus kat USM..."

First I thought of posting this entry in my other blog, but no, it's too risky - albeit admitting, I am in the risky business. But I just had to blog this although I know it's like shooting with a dangerous weapon and that the bullet will ricochet back to you.

Actually I had already read Dr Siti Mariah's posting: "Respon kepada penyiaran surat Nik Amalina" in Kick's blog, but it didn't strike me the interest to visit Dr Siti Mariah's blog for reasons I would rather reserve. But, today I nonchalantly clicked on it, unaware I was about to discover something very challengingly controversial, to say the least.

Okay, enough said, just read this extract by someone with the nick "cucu" and judge it for yourself:

"Tentang Sdr Syed Azidi, saya kenal beliau sejak beliau jadi pelajar USM lagi pada akhir 80an dan awal 90an. Beliau pelajar jurusan komunikasi massa - antara course paling simple dan mudah lulus kat USM masa itu. Pelajar2 mass com masa itu merupakan antara golongan pelajar paling "sosial"...

Continue reading here

No, I am not trying to echo or amplify this 'nameless' person's cowardice act of disrobing Kick's 'evil-deeds' or infidelity while at USM (if there was any). What I am trying to do is to 'highlight' the accusation that USM's Mass Communication degree is the most simple and easy to pass course at USM.

Or is it? You be the judge...

The posting generated 34 comments and you will have to read them all, including the original posting to understand the context of this entry.

My caution to somebody: beware if you are forwarding this to people. It might get us into trouble... I deliberately did not put her name there because satgi dia col ler tanya, apa maksud En. Izaham, ... tak faham?

Malaysia's version of Bronson's 'Death Wish' vigilantism

Mohd Yunus Mohd Ali may not be the ideal neighborhood crime buster, but he might have the answer to the country's ever increasing snatch crimes, or thieves who resort the easy way out to make a living.

If you have watched Charles Bronson's movies - 'Death Wish' in the 70s then you know what I mean. The film was a major commercial success and generated a movie franchise lasting four sequels over a twenty-year period. Read more here.

Most of the victims of snatch theft are not the rich and famous, where a few extra change may not mean a thing to them. The victims are basically the common people, like you and me, who do not make thousands or even a hundred in a day. They toil their mental and physical energy to make a living for themselves and their family. Then some hoodlums come and snatch it away from them 'senang-senang jer'.

So, even a few ringgit in cash in the wallet or handbag means a lot. That is why some of the victims retort back to snatchers by chasing after the evil-doers to get their belongings back. Some of them claim that their belongings are their dignity - and that giving in to snatch thieves means giving up their dignity or 'rights'.

Now, I'm not advocating or condoning vigilantism. Any act/s outside of legal authority, violently or otherwise, to punish or avenge a crime, is considered crime itself. Furthermore, it is a very dangerous vocation if you do not have the know-how.

But if the police and other authorities are dragging their feet in maintaining peace and order, and that 'vigilantism' is the only way out to protect us and our family, like what this fella did, then what the heck, let's go and get more people to kick-ass.

Izaham - it's better than kick-ing-defella for some trivial 'political' reasons!

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Muslim Living in Kyoto

My initial worries about living in Kyoto for longer than a tourist’s stay (standard 3D 2N) were set aside as I found out during the first week of my stay here. Mr John Bush, the senior administration manager at Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, (who is distantly related to the famous presidents), took me to the Kyoto Muslim Association and the Islamic Cultural Centre which is only about 50 metres away from KPUM.

The association was established in 1987 as a Kyoto University’s student organization and has developed into an Islamic centre with a prayer hall. The Friday prayers are also performed here and is currently protected under the Japanese law of religious corporations.

Kyoto had been Japan’s capital until 1869 when Emperor Meiji moved to Tokyo. To this date it still is a cultural and religious capital of Japan. This is evident by the scattering Buddhist temples, Christian churches, and religious Buddhist and Christian schools in this prestigious traditional capital city.

All the major roads in traditional Kyoto run either horizontally (from east to west) and vertically (north to south), in a very precise manner, it is very easy to find directions and locations. As this very direction-blind writer soon found out, much to her delight! To find the qiblat, which is roughly the direction of Makkah, you simply look at any major horizontal or vertically street and just face westward and slightly to the right. Simple, isn’t it? This is clearly documented in the “Muslim/Muslima Guide book for Living in Kyoto 2009-2010”. What do I have to say, they really are sticklers for rules, order and guidebooks!
There are short of 300 Muslims living in Kyoto, mostly are expatriates and foreigners studying at many universities or working as post-docs or professionals here. There are probably about 40 Japanese Muslims scattered in the city of Kyoto and the nearby areas.

Kyoto Muslim Association organizes activities like the weekly Friday prayers, where the Khatibs and Imam are rotated among the jemaahs. The Eid prayers are often held at a bigger venues i.e Kyoto International Community House or Kyoto Education and Culture Centre. The Iftar Party and Islamic Food Festivals were also held in the past. They also serve as an Islamic library, opens a small convenient shop which stocks halal frozen meats and canned foods. Other services include the shahada ceremony, marriage ceremony ad certificate, Hajj and Adha services.

I had the opportunity to perform my Eid prayers on 26 November 2009 together with about 200 Muslim brothers and sisters at the Kyoto International Community House. I took a subway from Kyoto Station up north and changed at Karasuma Oike for Keage station. I was stopped in Japanese by a middle aged gentleman as I was about to board the train. I could understand the word “Keage” from his mounth and I assumed he must be asking about the direction the train going, so I answered “hait” which I thought would suffice, but he carried on the conversation in more Nihongo than I could master, I had to apologize in English that I didn’t understand much of what he said.

His face showed relief, and he said “Oh good, my Japanese is also not so good”. Then he asked whether I was going to Keage, and I said yes, I was going to attend the Eid prayers. And so did he. When he saw a tudung-clad lady, he naturally assumed I was going the same way he did. He has been to the International Community House many times to attend the prayers but he has forgotten the way, blaming it on his old age. I introduced myself and found to my surprise he was not Japanese, but a senior academic Egyptian at Doshisha University. As we got down and out of the subway station, we were joined by many other Muslims.

We walked past the majestic Westin Miyako Hotel, in the crisp cold autumn morning to the Hall. We were greeted by Elif-san, who is the association’s manager ad instructed to go straight up to the Hall since the takbir and tahmid would soon begin. As I was settling down with my sajadah and telekung, I met Fatimah and her daughter who were also one-month old Kyoto residents, who hailed from Kuala Lumpur. Her husband was on a sabbatical research leave and they have actually lived 12 years earlier in Okinawa.

Unfortunately we were only among the 5 Malaysians who were there. I understand many other Muslim Malaysian students were not attending since it was a working Friday. Most of the jemaah were Indonesians, Arabic, Indian or Pakistani, based on the smattering of foreign languages I heard around me. The takbir and prayers were led by an Arabic Imam and the khutbah was delivered in English and doa in Japanese. After the prayers there were trays of pot luck dishes which were Arabic delicacies contributed by the gracious jemaah. My stomach was growling in hunger since I did not have any breakfast before coming and I was clearly missing my customary nasi himpit, rendang and kuah kacang on that Raya morning!

Professor Samir, my new Egyptian friend introduced me to a young Japanese gentleman who was also a university student named Hasan Nakamura, who I found out had just said his shahadah a day earlier. Masha Allah!

Professor Samir is a lecturer in Arabic and Cultural studies and his main interest is on theology. He later told me that he has been in Japan for 5 years and has taken a second wife, a local woman. He asked me over to his house at Shijo (the Fourth avenue) later to sample some Arabic and Japanese food. He made his own cheese!

Food is a subject of major concern to all Muslims, especially in Kyoto since halal restaurant is practically non-existent. Traditional Japanese did not consume much meat, as they were mostly Buddhists. However post-war era and modernization have turned their style of living to embracing the western culture of eating meat and pork, being the cheapest meat is largely used in all dishes.

A lot of food, even the onigiri (rice ball) frequently has pork extracts. Most ingredients are displayed on the packaging, the only problem being a guanjin, one cannot read it since 99.9% it is written in intricate Japanese writing. The guidebook given to me by Elif-san does provide some crash course in the salient words to look for at the labeling i.e pork, beef, chicken, mutton, animal fat extracts, gelatin, liquour, etc.

Now, if you think the stuff is quite simple, you’re dead wrong. The Japanese has three systems of letters. The hiragana, a completely phonetic alphabets which has 50 characters. Another phonetic alphabet is katakana, which has the same sounds as hiragana, but different written forms. Borrowed words from foreign languages are written in katakana. The third system is the Chinese characters, kanji, which are originally pictorial letters and has about 500 basic characters which can be combined to mean different things. It says you could combine kanji characters to make up to 2,000 words!

I’d have to admit practicing religion in this place could be challenging especially when most Japanese have not mingled much with the other ethnic races around them. Most have not traveled outside their society perimeters. Located at the far eastern region, they are almost exclusive to their own. May be out of admiration, they have always assimilated with the United States of America, more than the rest of the world, including their Asian friends. South East Asian geography in itself could be an enigma, what more the variable demography, and the different religious practices or beliefs that are associated with us!

Bakiah: Still learning new words with each new day: “Kyoto-oh, ai shi tek imas” (I love Kyoto).

Life in Japan… Imadesuka (Is there Any?)

After a month being a Kyoto resident, I felt it timely, to have this writing done. In fact you could say I had to rise to the challenge of enduring some time away from Facebook addiction.

I have been impressed again and again by the Japanese…. kinda clichĂ© you would say…, but it’s true, so true. I’ve heard so many stories, so many renditions, but to experience it all on my own, before my very own eyes, certainly took me to a higher platform of deep admiration for this beautiful country and its people.

First, the Japanese are very artistic. Ever heard of that? Yes, they present art in so many forms. They could live with so little space around them by making everything in miniature forms. Small iron, small ironing board, compact book cases, small lockers! I was indeed very pleasantly surprised when my supervisor said he would try to find me a locker, and …. it turned out to be just 6 cm wide! Even my Deuter notebook backpack couldn’t fit into that. When you purchase things, you would be rest assured that each individual item will be gift wrapped and care is given to make them look beautiful and presentable.

My friend, Yokobe san took us to a traditional Japanese cookies house and I had the opportunity to witness the most artistic cookie making in the process. Since it was autumn close to winter time, the 2 types of cakes in the offering were made to look like autumn leave and a snow capped mountain. Simply marvelous! We had ‘matcha’ green tea which is usually served during tea ceremony with the cakes. The whole experience was just so beautiful!

The most useful word in Japan would be “Sumimasen” which I would loosely translate into “excuse me”, or “I’m sorry to bother you” or “please forgive me”. You could hear “sumimasen” everywhere whether someone wants to pass you, or need your help, or even when in the elevator when they need to get out before you do (i.e I’m so sorry for taking your time, but I need to get on this floor before you). Even when they need to ask for help, after saying “Arigato gozaimas” (Thank you very much), they would end with the infamous “Sumimasen” i.e I thank you for your help, please forgive me for taking your time.

The courtesy reaches out to the time when you ride the escalator. Usually one line would form on the escalator (depends on the right or left, I’m still confused), this is so that whoever is in a hurry could pass you easily and be on their way faster. This courteous attitude is their Holy Grail, you would see them forming queues everywhere! Have you ever seen 2 lines formed in front of a lift?

Like any other advanced countries, Japan’s public transport is exceptionally efficient and cheap. The fast bullet train “shinkansen” connects the major cities. The rapid trains include the limited express airport trains the “haruka”, and the intercity local and special rapid trains, depending on the number of stops each make. The subway trains are very convenient city traveling albeit less panoramic and slightly more expensive.

The standard rate for all city buses is 220 yen for adults and 110 for children. You always board through the back door and get down the front door where you drop your coins in the fare machine. Since they don’t have small change, you can change your 1,000 yen note or 500 yen coin at the machine before you pay.

The city buses are quite small with limited seats, needless to say are reserved for the needy i.e elderly, handicapped, pregnant women and ladies with children, these seats are called “Priority Seats” and often times those not belonging to the group when they board a bus will not take these seats but prefer to be standing instead. And if you think their elderly uncles and aunties would simply accept your offer, think again! The writer’s goodwill offer to give up her seat has been declined numerous times with “arigato gozaimas” and saying something like “my stop is just the next station”.

Must be their stubborn pride at admitting that they are old and need the seat more than the next person. My husband jokingly said it was the prominent tummy and my pregnant appearance! I wasn’t, by the way. On the occasions that my offer was accepted, I was flooded with continuous “arigato gozaimashi ta!” (I thank you for what you have done), all the way before and after and on the way getting down, that often embarrassed me.

I think this is one country that is truly handicapped-friendly, especially to the blind, seeing from an eye doctor’s POV. At the stations, pedestrian walkways and bus stops, there are indicators on the surface of the roads to signal impending stops, lifts, turns, etc. All lifts are equipped with Braille coded indicators to the up, down, open, close, number of floors, etc. If a blind man wants to cross a street, there’s a button on the side which could be pressed, I think it provides some kind of signaling.

Once a blind man boarded a bus that I boarded, what a spectacle to witness! First the bus driver said something, may be she announced that a handicapped person is on board, then a whole row of people were standing up, wanting to give up the seats, what a scene!
The best thing is, even the digital toilet is Braille-coded for bidet, flushing, cleaning, flushing sounds, etc. Just amazing!

The samurai spirit is still entrenched in their sub-cortical zones, despite hundreds of years have passed. I don’t need to elaborate how serious they are with their job. They are so dedicated to fulfilling a given task to the best of their ability, such is the “Gambate” spirit, which is loosely translated as “Strive hard” or “Fight till the end”.

Here you would hear “Hait” (yes!) whenever an instruction is given and everyone shuffles and runs at every corner, as time is the essence and a job must be done quickly and accurately. Right until now I’m still carried away with my “yeay, huh huh?, okay….” And a litany of relaxed expressions which are associated with the western culture, but nay, here they would hail “Hait!” in a very firm and convincing way. The other famous words you often hear out of students or co-workers would be “wakarimas ta!” which means “I can understand that!” often following some kind of instructions given and you will be presented with a 90-degree bow and be assured that it would be done to the best of their ability.

The supermarket worker feels the company she/he works for is part of theirs, that they would even stop from doing their chore and wishes you “Arigato gozaimas” and series of words of graciousness for stopping by at their outlets and picking/purchasing their goods. Nobody feels irritated or cumbersome to show a “Guanjin”(an outsider or foreigner) where a carton of milk is located, all smiles and “Arigato gozaimas!!”. At the end of the day, they will ‘lelong’ their perishables like some scene at pasar borong, all smiles, cheerful and encouraging you to have a look, a taste and hopefully buy them!

At the cashier, they will not take your money from your hand, instead you must put down your notes on the table. Then they will make a statement like “2,300 yen out of a given 5,000 yen. And the balance is 2,700 yen…” first they will count the notes, “1,000, 2,000 yen and cents 700… “ and show to you the exact counting of the money, and this is practiced everywhere I go, it’s really an eye opener.

And hey, did I mention nobody slouches in a seat here? They even sleep in an upright position on the train and on the bus! No decent ladies would cross their legs too, instead they will sit straight with legs keep tight. Everyone sits rigidly to show awareness and respect. All doctors welcome and bow to patients and in return, all patients young or old bow until they get out of sight or the room.

Trustworthiness? My friend dropped her very expensive mobile phone on the beach. We went back there 2 times looking for it, I was feeling hopeless by then. But hey, 2 weeks later she received a letter asking her to collect the phone at a police station! Valuable things can be seen untouched in the most open spaces, old ladies with sling bags or hand bags walking like jaybirds happily on the street, you can see very expensive cameras being put on a sling on a shoulder everywhere without being threatened half to death by snatch thieves. The most important thing is - everyone feels safe here.

Cleanliness? I think this is another trait deeply implanted in their psyche. No littering, no spitting and they just clean their litters away. I once witnessed an old lady eating a salted egg at a café. The egg is actually cooked with salt that you could see the salt crystals outside the egg shell. First she put a piece of serviette paper on a plate, then she brushed the salt debris so that it all falls on the tissue paper. Then she cracked the egg shell, she took a few bites and rub on the salt for eating. After finishing she folded the paper into four then eight and put it all away, carried her bowls and glass back to the counter! It was like some kind of a ritual!

Another admirable practice I have witnessed here are the umbrella plastic covers that are usually supplied at the entrance of any building during the rain. Needless to say, this protects the floor from the water dripping from the umbrella which frequently cause the floor to become slippery and unsafe for others, and also dirty. This practice helps the cleaners happy, they can do other meaningful job save mopping the floor over and over again. Pretty smart, don’t you think?

The young generation sport highly fashionable hairdos and dressing. Their street fashion could compete with any European dress code and put them to shame. You rarely see unbecoming plain t-shirts, tattered jeans or overlarge tees around here. Their youth pay exceptional and meticulous attention to their appearance.

One thing I noticed amiss here on the buses or trains was the constant ringing of hand phones which thoroughly bugged me back home. Not forgetting those who speak so loudly over the receiver narrating to everyone their itinerary! Talking loudly on the phones, listening to loud music and doing anything which is considered disturbing to other passengers are just not visibly done here, although I failed to find any signs of restriction. I think this is just another demonstration of showing consideration towards others, which seems to be the utmost importance in this country.

To sum up all this admiration and the feeling of awe I have in me at the moment towards Japanese, I need to mention here that they do not have a particular religion. By their own admission, they are not a religious population. But culture and long standing tradition have made them a very civilized and highly advanced country. And at the throngs of success and the highest and sophisticated technology, they still display good moral values and remain ordinary, courteous and respectful.

Bakiah: Still learning their traits and tricks….

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Is mainstream media endorsing Blogs?

Utusan Malaysia today splashed a front page 'news quote' with the title "Isu Nik Aziz: Reaksi gesaan letak jawatan, pinda doa dan blog". Three quotes were highlighted and at the bottom end of the quotes is a lead to the page of the complete write-up of the news.

On the page mentioned (page 4) the whole story was not about the revelation or unraveling of the 3 issues above, but about the main subject: Nik Aziz and his "ill-doings". The sources of the story that was mentioned were from two blogs: unspinners.blogspot.com and kickdefella.wordpress.com.

The former blog owner today thanked Utusan for giving him/her/them/whatever credit that was due to the blog. Read here.

Now, what appalled me is that the whole story on the short write-up centers on some (or two rather) blog postings from an unnamed weblog (or source): unspinners.blogspot.com.

I tried to unravel the name/names of the owner/owners of this blog but couldn't find any. The only available names were their contributors with nicks such as: Cakap Pasal, Teruna Kelana, Abang Bulanja, Yeop Kanjieri, Tok Mat Sampan, Ipin Jual Sayur, Ranting Special, Marlborough Man, S Samad Sempit, Malaysia Betul, Friends of Teoh Beng Hock

Does this mean that the mainstream media (or Utusan rather) is now endorsing blogs even though it was an unnamed source? Well, at least if it wasn't a very credible source like MalaysiaToday, it can still be related to a named source or person: the infamous Raja Petra Kamaruddin.

Now, watch this space as I unravel more 'mystery' about how the mainstream media is now looking at blogs and in a way 'endorsing' their credibility.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fatine - Pondan Malaysia Glamer di UK

Kosmo! secara 2 hari berturut-turut (28 & 29 November 2009) menyiarkan berita sensasi seorang maknyah Malaysia mengahwini seorang rakyat Britain di London. Fatine atau nama sebenarnya Mohammed Fadzil Min Bahari, seorang jurusolek artis mendapat perhatian Ian Young semasa mat salleh itu bekerja di Malaysia pada 2006. Pada Disember 2008, Ian membawa Fatine ke UK dan pada Mei lalu, mereka berkahwin mengikut upacara perkahwinan sivil di London. Berita perkahwinan mereka adalah antara berita yang menjadi tumpuan akhbar The Sun di Britain sejak enam bulan lepas.

Pada hemat saya sememangnya isu ini disensasikan oleh media Britain sebab dalam banyak contoh di kalangan wanita Malaysia yang disunting oleh lelaki Britain, belum pun pernah dihebohkan mengenai kes wanita Malaysia menukar agama mereka disebabkan berkahwin dengan lelaki berlainan agama (atau berkahwin dalam upacara sivil). Dalam kes ini, maknyah Fatine ini tiada pilihan sebab dia tidak boleh kahwin dalam upacara Islam, walaupun dia berkeinginan agar 'suami'nya Ian memeluk Islam.

Kini media di Malaysia pula yang mensensasikannya....

Meminjam lirik lagu S.M.Salim..."APA NAK JADI....!"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What's up Doc?

I woke up (in love) this morning (Cassidy, D circa 1973) feeling itchy and bluesy.

Well, while the normal morning itchiness is a crucial indicator of my overall health and well-being, this time the itchiness was creeping up onto both my eyes. They felt kinda dry and sticky. But it didn't stop me from coming to work early to be prepared for a special meeting I had today as a 'witness'.

Yes, I was appointed as a witness to a democratic process first time ever for staff election of this university. It was actually the process of electing the Dean and Deputy Deans of the school, and this exercise is now being done in all the schools in USM.

Well, I'm not going to delve into detail what happened at the election room, but all went smooth as it was an internal matter and only involved council members (ahli majlis) which totaled 15. The existing Dean got re-elected and everyone who was entitled casts their vote in a jovial manner.

However, selection for the Deputy Deans were not made, as earlier on the members agreed that it would be appropriate that the Dean gets to elect his/her own deputies for reason/s we know very well why.

So okay, enough about that. After the elections were over and the incumbents, which I believe were all re-elected after this, I went back to my room to continue with work. However, after about an hour staring at the (idiotic) screen, I felt uneasy again with my eyes and keep scratching them.

A quarter past eleven, I couldn't stand the discomfort and decided to drive to Klinik Zainal in Taman Sri Nibong. Of course the nearest option would be the Pusat Sejahtera but everybody knows if it's past eleven it would be a waste time trying to convince the front-line chaps to get to see a doctor. So a 5 minutes drive to Klinik Zainal won't do me any harm as I could be back at the office in half an hours time or so.

But my guess was off the mark as I had to wait for almost an hour to get past 7 or 8 others who were ahead of me at that time. Only a few minutes before 12.30pm, the time the clinic closes for lunch did I get to see Dr Zainal, MBBS (Malaya) as the plaque outside his room says.

I choose to go to this clinic as it is a panel clinic of the university and I wanted to experience myself their service as it is my first time there. I had known about this Klinik Zainal since the 80's as I have worked here since 1981 and USMs staff have been known to liken this clinic as they say Dr Zainal is a very nice doctor.

Well, from the first meeting I had with Dr Zainal he is indeed a nice person and seemed to be doing a good job asking me all the relevant questions regarding my predicament. But what I want to portray here is not about his personality or charisma, but about his clinic -- the physical aspect of it and more important the first impression a patient gets or feels about going for treatment when they step into the clinic.

Far from trying to look down or judge this clinic and its proprietor, whether they are doing a good job with the interior or exterior part of it, what I felt strange and curious was whether they are practicing allopathy or alternative/traditional medicine or both and whether this is allowed?

Needless I say more, you can judge it from the pics.

Kinda strange - the clinic sells traditional medicine including potions that it says can scare away elements from the underworld (genies)

It closes at 12.30am for lunch and opens again at 3.00pm every Mondays to Thursdays (on the other pic it says Mondays to Saturdays)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Colorful World of Kyoto

4 November 2009
Fourth day in Japan, Kyoto to be exact, the weather is getting colder. It must have been 10-15 degree celcius this morning. I set out early to catch a bus to Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine. After sending off my wife to the door (she insisted) I set out my journey today to catch a glimpse of the beautiful life in this part of the city. As they say, pictures describe a story better than words. Hope it works this time!

There's actually more, but I have exhausted my time uploading and rearranging these pics one at a time. Think I'll pass and upload them in my FB, which is a lot easier and faster.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Searching Google 'can help delay dementia'

I'm posting this article today and hope to comment on it later, it's very interesting! Anybody care to comment on it first...any doctors here?

By Matthew Moore

Monday October 19 2009

Searching the internet with Google can help slow and even reverse the onset of dementia, research has shown.

Older people can boost their brain activity by performing simple online searches, according to a study that suggests the web could be used in the fight against mental decline.

A team led by Professor Gary Small at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found that internet searches were more effective than reading at improving brain function.

Researchers believe that "Googling" is particularly beneficial because it involves a number of simultaneous mental processes, including memory – of the original search term – and the comprehension and analysis of the results.

“Searching online may be a simple form of brain exercise that might be employed to enhance cognition in older adults,” said Teena Moody, a researcher at UCLA who coauthored the report with Professor Small.

As part of the study, 24 people between the ages of 55 and 78 were asked to carry out a series of online searches while having the flow of blood around their brains monitored by a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner.

They were subjected to the same test a fortnight later, having followed a regime of online searching at home.

The results showed that the function improvements detected in the initial scans – in the parts of the brain controlling language, reading, memory and vision – had spread to other areas of the brain responsible for memory and decision making.

The UCLA scientists believe that internet searching and other mental exercises slow dementia by stimulating cells and pathways within the brain.

The research will be presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Chicago on Monday.

- Matthew Moore

© Telegraph.co.uk

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Could it be due to lost in translation or for want of a better word, that this Quentin Tarantino movie Inglourious Basterds starring Brad Pitt being translated as "Brad Pitt Yang Jahanam!" (notice the deliberated spelling with an added 'u' in Inglorious and the letter 'e' in Bastards).

For heaven's sake, why is Brad Pitt being vilified here? Is he such a bad actor to be called 'jahanam' just because he is the main cast. Mind you, he's just playing the movie's protagonist, 1st Lieutenant Aldo Raine, aka "Aldo the Apache":.

But if you say that you are using that particular translation because you meant that there is no other exact or suitable translation then you must be joking!

How about "Anak-anak Gampang Yang Keji!" or "Anak-anak Haram Jadah! or "Si Celaka!" or "Si Keparat!" Ha..ha...!I'm ROTFLOL!

Need I comment more?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

How to defend yourself without sounding defensive?

When was the last time you were accused of laying back on your work or responsibilities (but you believed you did not) and you couldn't control your anger and resorted to verbally abuse your attacker either directly on indirectly?

Hmmm... sounds like most of us do have that tendency to some extent - especially when the accuser resorts to brickbat us with derogatory words or insults!

So, what do you expect? give them back a piece of their own medicine!

But how can we defend ourselves without being defensive? Do you think we can defend ourselves for what ever matter, without resorting to hitting back at the accusation or appellant?

Morey Stettner thinks so and wrote a very interesting piece: Defend Yourself Without Sounding Defensive: Responding To Verbal Attacks With Authority And Grace.

Stettner wrote: Still, for most of us, it's tough to resist the urge. Getting defensive is instinctive. What to do? It's not only possible to defend yourself without sounding defensive, it's imperative with Corporate America's current focus on teamwork. Instead of instantly asserting your innocence or contradicting what you hear, it's better to try communicating in a less antagonistic way. The trick is to listen, ask questions and control your emotions.

Read the whole article here.

Stettner also quoted Beverly Potter, author of From Conflict to Cooperation, How to Mediate a Dispute. She wrote: "The more you defend yourself, the more attacks you'll invite. A vicious cycle sets in because the attacker thinks you aren't listening. And it's true. The very act of defending involves telling others that they're wrong and you're right."

You can read the review here.

From my own personal experience this is what I want to say - I'd rather kick the moron's butt then hear him/her rant and rave pointlessly and finally nail him/her with this question: "Do you want to finish our time finding fault or do you want to solve the problem, isn't it what we are here for in the first place?" And usually it ended well, with everyone agreeing to reconcile and patch things up rather than waste our precious time in a wild-goose chase pointing fingers.

But before you start meddling with the idea to kick someone's butt by sniping your accuser with the mantra, look first whose butt you're kicking..he..he.. or you'll end up as a dish-washer machine for the rest of your life!


Well, I would like to end this message with the expression - its best or better if you stand for something for if you don't you'll fall for anything. It carries a powerful message that drives home the point of having convictions and the integrity and strength of character to stick by them and then stand up for them.

Somebody, somewhere said Abe Lincoln (or was it Mark Twain) wrote that, and to me it has all the gist and essence for building one's own will and courage to excel in life rather than wait for someone else make the decision for us.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Life is not always a bed full of roses

This expression is meant for USM and its Vice Chancellor (VC), Prof Tan Sri Dzulkifli Abdul Razak.

Well, being praised and congratulated by well wishers may be an ordinary occasion for the VC and the university, but what gives the soft spoken and mild mannered academic when bombarded with brickbats and nasty comments? And these are what were in store for him with regard to the latest THE-QS ranking on the university which obviously is not in favour of the university.

The THE-QS World Univeristy Ranking 2009 - top universities can be found here.

This write-up is not about to rub in more salt into the open wound, but just a simple analysis on the VC’s latest defensive stance on the matter as published in yesterdays Utusan Malaysia “Bencana Penarafan Universiti?”. A poorly translated English version can also be found here.

If being defensive by matching one’s predicament with something not at all analogous to the matter and then shifting the blame on to others is anything to go by then this article can be one good example. No offense intended, but this is what I view the article to be.

VC’s reference to the bombardment of emails as ‘bencana’: (emails came non-stop confirming the "disaster" which hit Malaysia) which he received with regard to the ranking and comparing it (or putting it in the same parallel) with the disasters in Indonesia, the Philippines, Samoa and Japan is to my appreciation a bit off tangent, to say the least.

The VC wrote “Although only a few IPTA are affected, the implication is disturbing.” I would say it is disturbing to him and a few other academics in USM, but you can’t bundle up a few disturbed people in USM and generalize that the THE-QS ranking has disturbed every academic and universities in this country? Hey, cool down a bit!

In the next paragraph he wrote – “only those listed are questioned, while others which are not in the list (including private institutions of higher learning - IPTS - which is advertised in the media as being global) seem to be safe from the disaster, giving the impression that that it is better not to be listed at all. Naturally, if you are not in the game, why should you be questioned?

In the next paragraph the VC then attacked and questioned the validity of the organizer of the THE-QS : This alone is confusing enough as to what exactly is expected, let alone by the organiser of THES-QS when it adamantly claimed that the rankings are accurate, free and reliable. Although there are (sic) evidence which proves otherwise, we just nod our heads.

My opinion - if there is evidence, then we should adhere to it - why should we nod our heads in agreement to everything at face value? Does this statement imply that USM are also complying with the THE-QS organizer’s whims and decisions?

After beating a few more rounds about Giessen and its university – the Justus Liebig Universitat Giessen, he wrote: The rankings, especially by a commercial organisation, is totally ignored. They are also not apologetic – infact (sic), if there is any lesso(n) to be learned from the ranking activities, it is regarded as not suitable to be used as the bench mark for education institutions.

For this I agree in full. However, from this writing, they (the ranking activities) are not ignored. The writing reflects that the VC is upset about its result, not their activities.

Further the VC went on to analogously compare the rankings with: It is not like a beauty contest, which ranks its winners based on the main formula 36-24-36 as the ideal one. Is it apt that two people are being compared based on their looks alone human beings and not for their humanity (?) Likewise, the institution known as a university - more so, when the measurement used is likened to a factory product or for a beauty contest.

This analogy is very lame – obviously, you can’t compare the methods used by an organization to gauge university rankings (however weak their methodology is) with the methods used in a beauty contest. Using this as an analogy is a bit digressed, don’t you think? If an official from the THE-QS might have read this, he/she would have concluded that this write-up must been done by an undergraduate of a lowly rated university in their rankings.

The VC goes on to: (I) assume the conference would be boisterous with debates on the ranking, when looked at from an international perspective. I agree, anyone would not have assumed otherwise.

But he went on: Obviously, I was wrong. For the next two days, the isu (sic) on ranking was never mentioned, whether by the speakers or the participants. When attempts were made to get their views, the feedback was lukewarm, like “what about it?”…. they look very cynical, like saying "Who are they to make our university like a puppet"(?)

This clearly reflects that the VC was himself expecting that the ‘disaster’ would also strike elsewhere like it did in Malaysia, but much to his disappointment, it did not.

And then he went on to use the dreaded beauty contest analogy again: The conclusion is, in ranking, we have to follow orders. For example, a beauty queen, she has to have good grooming and dressed well, even in a bikini, to walk well and smile to win the heart of the judges. Otherwise, it is difficult to win. What more, in such a contest, the participant from a host country will often be a winner, although not the first place. This is also becoming common in raking activities where elements of sponsorship and bribery are beginning to spread.

Come on, give them a break! How can we say that the universities ranked at the top in the THE-QS ranking like HARVARD University, University of CAMBRIDGE, YALE University, UCL (University College London) and the IMPERIAL College London are commonly gauged by their sponsorship or bribed by the judges like in a beauty queen contest? This is a bit far-fetched!

In the third last paragraph (of the English version) the VC wrote: Hence, there was a time when universities are recommended to advertise their names and logo in the websites of sponsors, with a certain fee, so that they are more "customer-friendly". Unfortunately, there are some who are lured by this, like a participant of a beautry (sic) queen going to bed with a judge of the pageant with the hope of winning the contest.

In my opinion, a small fee to advertise our name and logo in a common website won’t do any harm to show that we exist in this world. But comparing that small sum with a beauty contest participant bribing the judge by going to bed with him is a bit rotten to be called an analogy at all.

This critical review is quite harsh if you consider who wrote it, but it is well meant. Apex ego aside, this write-up is a fair comment and a well balanced view from some one who thinks, as the Vice-Chancellor of a university chosen to carry the APEX standard of universities in Malaysia, should have laid down a better argument to challenge or rebut the THE-QS ranking in a manner well accepted by both the layperson and the academics.

I sincerely hope the VC is magnanimous enough to take this analysis as it is and not kill the message by killing the messenger.

p/s One might wonder if the VC would sing the UM tune if the THE-QS results were in favour of USM?

A Place That Was Not....

The past Hari Raya Aidil Fitri would be the first raya that we celebrated until we got bored to tears, at least on my part.... must be to my husband too, because of all the driving that he did. Yet he never complained... what a darling!

Before that, it was also a raya which was full of mishaps. Like for example, would you expect that getting to Ipoh from Kuala Lumpur would cost one RM55 by bus? Yes, it did cost me that. How?
During my long hours waiting for the bus to Penang, which was the normal occassion for me on Friday afternoons at Puduraya bus station, I bought a ticket to Ipoh, not on Friday as planned, but instead on Saturday, so obviously overlooked. It was a non-returnable, no refund ticket (apparently that normally happened during hari raya period). So the first RM17.40 wasted.

Then I asked my maid to purchase another ticket KL-Ipoh, this time buying the Transnasional ticket which was more expensive, RM20.50. With this ticket armed in my wallet, I went to Puduraya Station that morning. I went to Transnasional counter and on the big screen I saw the bus was scheduled on time. Feeling very satisfied and after noting the platform number, I went to buy myself The Star. I was engrossed in my reading, it was a very interesting piece on mix-marriages, and it featured the lovely celeb couple, Nash and Nur Shearney Iman Lee. At exactly 10.15 am I rose from the bench and headed towards Platform no 10 where I boarded an almost empty bus.

The bus journeyed to Hentian Duta where more passengers came on board. An Indian student couple was giving me the side looks and appeared dissatisfied about something. I was again reading more materials given for free by Karangkraf for all bus passengers. The girls then approached me and asked me to sit somewhere else, as they claimed I was actually sitting on their seats. I argued steadfastly that the seat was rightfully mine. Disgruntled, they went down to the counter and came back with a Transnasional official who insisted that I showed my ticket.

"Kak, ini tiket pergi Ipoh!" Ha! only then I realised iIve made the stupidest mistake... because of my regular trips back to Penang, my brain has somehow conditioned itself, but what a timing.... Shame-facedly I alighted from the bus. The Transnasional staff then advised me to get another ticket from another company since it would useless for me to get back to Puduraya. RM20.50 went the drain...

So with another RM17.50 and one and half hours later I reached Ipoh, much to the mirch of laughter of everyone....

My husband and the kids and my maid had already arrived in Ipoh by bus earlier (no glitches thanks to my husband). We broke our fast with Mak Nun and Pak Nif, who are my husband's uncle and auntie. Mak Nun cooked a ver tasty fish head curry, this is her specialty.

The kids having a blast with PS2 in Ipoh

The next morning was the beginning of another new experience for my children, taking the train to KL Sentral. We boarded at the old train station in Ipoh. I had my first visit to KTMB public toilets forever spoilt. The toilet was dirty and 'my nature's call' just refused to be answered, I had to turn back. Then feeling quite resourceful, I entered the toilet meant for the handicapped, thinking that in that pressing condition, I was quite handicapped to many things. Ahh... much better, unfortunately after having a most released time, I found the flush was not working. so there I was, standing for almost 10 minutes, manually flushing my waste using the hose.

Now after boarding the train, we were settled comfortably and the children were behaving so nicely with a cool blast of the air conditioning..... unfortunately, this just triggered the bladder to be active! My huisband and the kids looked for the toilets near the coach. What do you expect? Only 2 toilets out of six on the coach were opened for use and in there, every single flush was not working.... again? Luckily I had the sanitary wipes (armed for the H1N1 pandemic), so they were put to good use.

Thankfully we reached KL Sentral in one piece, amidst the hundreds of passengers and the trains that were delayed again and again, back to Bandar Tun Razak. After a much needed rest, my husband showed to me a write up in Utusan Malaysia (my father never read anything else, a.k.a. "Suara Keadilan diharamkan di rumah aku..."), where the top managerial team was feeling buffed for the KTMB's enormous Raya ticket sales and claimed it was due to customers' satisfaction of their good service. LOL... Malaysians have this illness, where they always think the best of themselves, a real "masuk bakul angkat sendiri" mentality. In my opinion, KTMB is the worst public transport provider in Malaysia, just look at the KTM Komuter... what a sorry state of unreliable service!

We spent 3 days in KL and the fourth day drove to Ipoh to celebrate with my husband's family and relatives. On the way we stopped at Tanjung Malim and visited Syed Osman and his wife Nanie at Taman Prima. In Ipoh, we visited Zalea's house and welcomed her back from Newcastle. Lea had just completed her MSc in Finance at Newcastle University. We also visited Tun Kamsiah and Hadhrami, my classmates from Medic school who are working at PUSRAWI and arRidzwan in Ipoh, respectively. Tun Kamsiah is a GP and Hadhrami specialized in Paediatric Endocrinology, which is a branch of medicine dealing with children with hormonal problems i.e diabetes, thyroid, etc. I had a great time!

In Ipoh we were getting so choked up with emotions and food, that our stomaches just cried being fulled to the brim with food galore. My husband and I were depending on Daphne Iking's Cleanz Tea and Kinohimitsu, and to an extent on Herbal Lipo, to get rid of the 'mass'. Thank God, we did not suffer much from indigestion or diarrhoea or even constipation for the lack of vegetable and fibre, imagine all those high fat diet, accumulating in your intestines...

I would feel this raya write up incomplete if I hadn't mentioned the "Ketum happy Hour", so aptly named for the big bottle of air ketum that we 'tapau' from Pak Bab, my husband's uncle in Jelapang. OK, before I go further please dismiss from your mind the image of a group of highly stoned people at the table, in front of tall glasses. That did not happen. Ketum leaves have been studied for its excellent medicinal purposes, even in Imperial College London, by a Toxicologist friend of mine. Because the poor ketum leaves have been given a bad name by the drug addicts, I had to explain to everyone that we were not drug abusers. However..... my maid drank a cup and she was high for 2 full days, she did not sleep a wink and she was in a manic state all the way... so don't look down on Ketum, ever!

After 2 days in Ipoh, we decided to head east to Kota Bharu, much to the delight of everyone. I must say the children were missing Kota Bharu. My husband has not been back for almost 1 year and I wouldn't mind eating my favourite nasi kerabu again! So we were driving along the east-west highway and joined the bandwagon of people at the peak of banjaran Titiwangsa and enjoyed a breath of fresh air. The vendors and the toilet business were also fruitful (30 cents for toilet use). My husband? You can run your imagination wild there....

At the peak of Banjaran Titiwangsa

Back in Kota Bharu we booked into Min's Homestay and my children enjoyed visiting the monkeys again. The next day we searched high and low for our favourite breakfast items i.e nasi kerabu ayam bakar, nasi tumpang, nasi dagang ikan aya, kuih akak... to no avail. Of course, the vendors usually take a long Raya holidays and will only be back at business after a week or two.

Second from left is kak Yah, owner of Min Homestay, Kubang Kerian

We had our first taste of so many one-way streets in KB, new shopping places and demolition of many old places. The roads and the streets were bare and furthermore, confusing. New buildings were being erected, the Syariah Court Complex, the new bus station in Tunjong and KB Trade Centre. Tunjong, where we used to live has turned to another satellite town, the paddy fields were being destroyed for the new buildings.

Kubang Kerian has a new face with more shops mushrooming... I wonder with so many new shops, "sapa yang beli?". We had dinner at Hayaki Cafe, which was our favourite lepak kopi tiam place in front of Renaissance Hotel. It was still cosy, Wi Fi still there, but the food was still bad...

Meeting with Black and Ustaz at Hayaki Cafe

Upon arriving in KB earlier, I had sent a text to my old friend, Siti at USM asking whether she was at home, intending to drop by her house which was near to the homestay. She just answered "Kerja". Although a bit disappointed, I thought to call back later. My friend Shatriah had ealier responded that she was in Putra Jaya. Another text from Kak Zu said she was busy with urusan meminang that day. So I was left with no close friends to visit that day.

The next day, feeling freshed after breathing KB air, I text Kak Zu again, thinking she might give me a more positive response, another disappointment, "saya ke pasir mas...." another engagement/wedding. We made the necessary rounds to my husbands's friends' houses and we visited A.P Dr Wan's house at Jalan Bayam, he was my ex-boss.

At Dr Wan's house

At our favourite mamak restaurant in Grik, on the way back to Penang

Showing here how Aiza was crazy about the tandoori chicken

In the afternoon I called Siti again, this time she apologized that I couldn't come to her house, instead she invited me to come on the next day, because she was having an open house. I was heavily disappointed, again. What is the significance of raya visits, is the trend of making an appointment, the trend to stay? Are open houses the only time you meet with old friends? Where is the "openness" in Hari Raya, where you don't need to be formally invited?

For me, what matters most was seeing each other and catching up... not even a glass of your precious water or sugar, or kuih raya!

My husband was very sympathetic and shared the gloom on my face, said softly... OK, let's not come back to KB again, not for another few years! Clearly the current KB was a place so far from our fond memories of a place that was...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Encouraging people to smoke when you can't control them

This news report has been on the BBC News Online: UK: Wales since Thursday, 14 June, 2001, 19:36 GMT 20:36

School's smoking policy attacked

Anti-smoking campaigners have hit out at a south Wales special school which allows pupils to smoke during breaks.

Children at Greenhill Special School in Cardiff have been allowed to smoke if they have parental consent.

The school, in Rhiwbina, which caters for children aged 11 to 16 years with emotional and behavioural problems, introduced the policy in a bid to maintain discipline.

But on Thursday anti-smoking pressure group ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) said the plan contradicted government anti-smoking efforts.

They said: "We are absolutely shocked and cannot see the rationale behind this.

"We are surprised that a school would condone such behaviour.

"The decision is one the school could regret. It flies in the face of all government efforts to discourage smoking."

It is illegal for anyone to sell cigarettes to under-16s, but children can smoke without breaking the law.

Cardiff County Council defended the school, saying Greenhill was a unique case. A no-smoking policy operates in all the city's other school.

Council officials let the school introduce supervised smoking in the playground to avoid breaches of discipline by the children, who have severe behavioural problems.

The Department of Health conceded the policy was "very unusual."

The department said: "We encourage all parents to give up if they are smokers and pass on information about the damage smoking does to their children.

"We expect schools to pursue health education, but, at the very last resort, it's up to the schools."

On 4 October 2009, in a related breadth, Malaysia's Kosmo! portrayed a similar news about another school in Headlands, Penarth in Cardiff, that allowed its student to smoke in a special room at class intervals!

Amazingly true, but the Kosmo! news did not mention whether it is a special school for students with behavioural problems.

Yes, it's a special school alright. The high school, run by the charity Action for Children, caters mainly for residential – and some day pupils – who have behavioural and learning difficulties.

I checked the Oct. 2 walesonline.co.uk/news and it is true the school considers providing shelter for its student to smoke. You can read them here.

For many health care providers and health promoters in Malaysia, this news may have freaked them out!

But wait till you hear some facts about a few speakers (and lecturers in Malaysia) who likes to lecture to their subjects about how healthy they are even after smoking for so many years! and how they rubbish those facts about the dangers of smoking...! and that they are preaching this in class to their students - year in, year out!

My counter advice - keep your puffing advice to yourself and don't encourage others to choose a lifestyle you have idiotically lived by.

If you think the smoke is not going to kill you, something else would. Just wait for the time to come. It would knock you out without you ever realizing it coming in to your head!

Good smokin' luck!