Monday, March 31, 2008

TrailBlazers Hunt—Bollywood

My step-mother is a big fan of Bollywood productions. Sometimes it annoys me when she'd concentrate on the TV instead of the mahjong table. For a short while, I was also infected with some of those movies. In particular I enjoyed Kuch-Kuch-Ho-Ta-Hai (although I'm not sure about the spelling); and Mann.

But what is the meaning of the word "Bollywood"?

Q9) Little Kareena, Shilpa and Kajol.

A9) Bollywood Baby

Let's analyse the question. First of all, the word "Little" can be taken literally. In such a case, it means small or kecil (Malay). However, in the lateral way, it can mean an abbreviation or shortform for a longer word. In this particular question, however, the CoC had intended the literal meaning for "Little", and indirectly equated it to the word "Baby". Fine, I can live with that.

But now we come to a stumbling block. How do we deal with "Kareena, Shilpa and Kajol"? They are of course some of the Bollywood actresses—and they're very successful ones too. However, I can't agree equating "Bollywood" with "Kareena, Shilpa and Kajol".

As you can see from this link, "Bollywood" is the informal term popularly used for Mumbai-based Hindi-language film industry in India. It is not a reference to a particular person or actress.

Notwithstanding the above, however, there is one possible way out for the CoC in this case, and that is to treat the answer in a slang way. We all know that a girl—in fact even a matured woman—is commonly referred to as a "baby" in a slang way, especially if that woman is a beautiful one. Considered from this point of view, Kareena, for example, qualifies as a "Bollywood Baby".

Unfortunately, the question still fails on grammatical grounds. In the question, it says "Kareena, Shilpa and Kajol". Three women together. Even if we are to take the answer in the slang way, that answer can only qualify if it were plural, i.e. Bollywood Babies.

TrailBlazers Hunt—Delicacy

To my fellow Sabahan hunters, I'm glad to report that I have finally obtained a set of Questions & Answers for the TrailBlazers KL Motor Hunt which took place last Saturday. A friend sent it to me this evening. I find that many of the questions are newbie-friendly, but in my opinion some of them could use a bit of fine-tuning.

Since we don't have many hunts here in KK, I hope my Sabahan friends can benefit from the discussions of some of the questions in the above hunt. I propose to discuss those questions independently in separate threads. I will publish those questions and answers as provided by the Clerk-of-Course (CoC); then give my comments and/or criticisms; and where appropriate, follow them up with suggestions on how I think they might be improved.

Let's start with a dubious seafood delicacy.

Q6) The first of limpet introduced to form this seafood delicacy.

A6) Musse

Before we go into deep analysis of this question, I am sure that many of you who've hunted in my hunts before would know that I am a big fan of this so-called "jigsaw-puzzle" type of clue. What happens is that the clue tells the solver that he needs to find a missing piece to fit into, or atttach to, an existing word to form a new word. Take this example from one of my past hunts:

Q) Will start this to become the main star of Mork & Mindy.

A) IAMS @ Pinnacle Pet Supply

The solver needs to combine the letters W-I-L-L with "this" to form another word. The solver must first determine what does the word "this" in the question mean. Looking at the question as a clue or riddle, that word "this" must necessarily be referring to the intended answer which is found on the signboard.

The letters WILL start the word IAMS (found on the signboard) to become (Robin) WILLIAMS, who's the main star of the TV series, Mork & Mindy.

A simpler example is like this:

Q) This is the answer to 2 x 3.

Again, that word "this" must necessarily be referring to the intended answer which is found on the signboard. Therefore, the solver should be keeping an eye open for, say SIX or ENAM or VI.

Now let's go back to Q6 of the TrailBlazers:

"The first limpet" tells the solver to take the first letter of the word "limpet", i.e. the letter "L". That L is then introduced, meaning added to, something (found on the signboard). As a result of that addition (to form) "this seafood delicacy".

I would have been happy with the question but for that word "this". To repeat, looking at the question as a clue or riddle, the logical interpretation of the word "this" in that clue must necessarily be referring to the answer which is found on the board.

In other words, the word "this" must be referring to the intended answer, MUSSE. However, MUSSE is not a "seafood delicacy". Therefore, "this seafood delicacy" can't agree with MUSSE. In the end, MUSSE can't be the answer!

In my opinion, if the CoC must include the word "this" in the question, a possible improvement is like this:

Q) The first limpet behind this forms a seafood delicacy.

Now in this modified question, that word "this" is really referring to the intended answer, MUSSE, which if added with the L will become MUSSEL, which in turn agrees with "seafood delicacy" (although I would have preferred "shellfish" instead of "seafood delicacy").

Friday, March 28, 2008

Hunt Postponement

I have sent out emails to the local hunters I know in KK, informing them about the postponement of the Sutera Harbour-Angkatan Hebat Treasure Hunt 2008 about a week ago. This is to follow up with the latest news—that the hunt is now tentatively set for the 29 June 2008 as per this link.

The date of the hunt had been changed several times already. Therefore I can't say for certain that the new date will not be changed yet again. At any rate, I shall regularly keep in touch with the organisers so that I can inform you all of further changes, if any, in the date of the hunt.

In this connection, and in response to the popular request for me to clerk the Sutera this year, I wish to thank you all for your confidence in me—especially Hunters "R" Us, the "Breakfast" hunters, and Anne and her friends—but perhaps for the moment I shall work on my field exposure for a change. If there is still an opportunity to clerk the hunt next year—and I can't see why not—I shall be pleased to torture you people again! Be assured that I still have lots of interesting tricks up my sleeve!

Obviously next year is still a long way from now. That is good, because I will have even more time to come up with more ideas. By the time I do my KK Challenge 4 in July/August later this year, I would be ready to unleash some of those new ideas. But only some! After all, KK Challenge 4 is also intended to attract new hunters in KK. The rest of my new ideas I shall keep for later, just in case I really get to clerk the CNY Hunt in the west next year. I have this pathetic wish to give those masters a good time, you see. Alas, that depends very much on whether I am able to find the time. I shall try to make it...

In the mean time, we're quite dry of hunts in KK between now to the end of June. Of course with my over-flowing question bank right now, I can easily organise a hunt anytime. However, I feel that our local hunters deserve a different taste and style in the questions or format. May I therefore suggest that Team Main Tembak throw in an unofficial hunt to keep the fire going. I'd like to mention here that several new teams which joined my KK Challenge 3 in January are already calling me to ask for more hunts. It would be quite a shame if these people lose interest in the end.

Well, Main Tembak, what say you? Shall the hunters prepare for an April hunt, hmmm?

Still Alive

Calm down, folks, it's only been a few days without any post from me; I am still very much alive.

Oh what a week this has been. Mia is away again to KL for this whole week. Then a mountain of files on my desk in the office. Not to mention the ISM seminar I had to attend to collect my CPD hours. By the way, seminars are really fattening, aren't they? First, there's "coffee" in the morning. Then there's the "coffee break" around mid-morning. That is followed by lunch. Then another "coffee break" around mid-afternoon. Those "coffee breaks" usually mean more than just a cup of coffee; there're some snacks—spring rolls, cakes etc.

In the evenings, of course I've been playing the role of a mommy to JJ. And I didn't get very sound sleeps over the last few nights because JJ kept moving around under my armpit. I still have to think of a bed-time story for JJ for tonight before the real story-teller comes home tomorrow afternoon.

I'm amused by some of the emails and text messages I've received from some of the regular visitors to this blog. Hang in there, folks, this blog is not dying off so soon!

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Different Stroke

THREE frail old ladies were sitting on a bench in a park. Suddenly a flasher came around. Standing in front of the old ladies, he opened his robe to flash himself.

The first old lady had a stroke.

Then the second old lady also had a stroke.

But the third old lady did not have a stroke... because her hands were just too short...

About a month ago, my step-mother had a stroke too. But she didn't get the stroke in the park. It was a different kind of stroke from the ones mentioned above. The trauma led to the loss of control of her right limbs. Luckily, she was able to get to the hospital quickly; and doctors were able to administer a kind of medicine that could somehow dissolve the blockage in one of her arteries. However, it would still require a long time to regain control of her limbs.

After she was discharged from the hospital, she was able to move her right arm, albeit it was still very weak. During the weeks that followed, we arranged for a foot reflexologist to come to the house for a daily session of foot massage. That and physiotherapy.

Today my step-mother has regained almost full control and strength of her right arm. But she's still unable to control her right leg. She's only able to move her toes. However, she's able to get up from the wheelchair, and with some help from the maid we've hired, she's able to walk by dragging her right leg. It is obviously not an ideal situation, but the doctors are confident that she will sooner or later regain full use of her right leg too.

Unfortunately, as she regained back the use of her arm and leg, she has also regained her big appetite. So now we might have to watch her like a hawk. Otherwise she will eat like there is no tomorrow. At the time she was hospitalised a month ago, her blood glucose level was at 23 mmol/L—which was about threefold that of a healthy level.

If my step-mother is not careful with her health, she might just get another stroke. And this is not the kind of stroke that one gets while sitting on a bench in the park while facing a flasher!

One Night Stand

I received an interesting email from a lady friend this morning. It's forwarded from some kind of group known as the "FanBox".

The email was accompanied by a question: Have you ever had a one night stand? There were 2 boxes with a "Yes" and "No" respectively, and I had to choose one of them as my answer. I didn't take very long to think—I chose "No". That was my truthful answer, and it was not only because my legs were too weak to stand the whole night through. It would have been very exhausting to stand the whole night, but I would have been able to withstand the punishment if it were entirely necessary.

Anyway, after I submitted my answer, I was presented with the statistic of the answers given by millions other people. An astonishing—at least astonishing to me—65% of the respondents answered "Yes" to that question, and that included my lady friend too.

I might be a little old-fashioned, but I think our culture has not reached that extent as far as sex is concerned. To be fair, however, it is possible that a major portion of those 65% were those people from the western world where freedom of sex is perceived to be more readily acceptable.

I don't mean to paint a beautiful picture of our people; in some cases I am convinced that we can challenge the adventurous nature of the people of the western world.

And this gives me an excuse to tell another one of my grandfather stories...

Years ago, when I was working in Brunei, there was a time when I had to travel regularly to Limbang in Sarawak. Limbang was a small town where one was able to see many, many motorbikes. It accommodated several rows of shophouses. On the upper floors of those shophouses, there were many beauty saloons; and of course many girls.

Many men would go to those saloons during the weekends, and let's just say that they didn't go there only for hair-grooming purposes. They offered massage services, and more often than not, they massaged the whole body—I mean literally the whole body.

I must have been in my mid-twenties then, and one weekend, I joined some friends for the adventure of a lifetime to Limbang. I was still single back then; so, y'know, go break a neck while you still can!

To cut the long story short, I found myself in one of those beauty parlours. The first thing that caught my attention was the amazing perfumes (those girls probably used up the entire bottle each day!). Then the make-ups on the girls; not to mention the little outfits they had on them which made me wonder why bother having them on anyway.

It didn't take very long for my friends to disappear into tiny rooms with their partners. I went into one tiny room with my partner too. And then suddenly I panicked. The girl was very, very persuasive. Very soon, she was all over me. I kept pushing her away, and eventually she became annoyed. I ended up paying her for playing cat and mouse in that tiny room. I just couldn't bear the thoughts of doing it with a girl like that. It was very tempting though! It was truly a case of fear vs sexual arousal! But I can't get over the thought of getting sick because of a momentary pleasure. Maybe if it's a different girl it would have been a different story. But I've never had that kind of opportunity—at least not yet!

The funny thing was that after that we all went back to Brunei, and all my friends thought I've had the experience of a lifetime that afternoon. It wasn't until weeks later when I told them that nothing happened, but I had to pay the full amount anyway. And they kept laughing at me for a long time after that. I don't know what's so damn funny anyway.

And so, I say again: I have never had a one night stand; not even a one afternoon stand. I am curious to know; to those of you who have had the experience, what was it like? Was there fear? Guilt? Or just plain enjoyment?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Piercer (18SX)

A young Canadian man suffered the misfortune of getting involved in a car accident which resulted in a serious injury to his spine. Although he survived the accident, he bacame paralysed from neck down. The doctors couldn't tell if he's ever gonna regain any control of his body. Only time could tell.

The next couple of weeks saw the young man spending his time in the hospital bed. Each day nurses would take turns to feed and bathe him. One day, an old lady nurse was bathing him when she noticed that the guy had a tattoo on his penis. Although the nurse pretended not to focus her attention on the tattoo, she was able to see the word "SWAN" on the penis.

Later on, during the break, the nurses gathered in the cafeteria; and as usual they started relating to each other their stories of the day. The old nurse told them about the paralysed young man and the strange tattoo on the penis—SWAN.

Then a young, beautiful and sexy nurse joined in the conversation.

"Oh! That's strange," she said, "yesterday, when it was my turn to bathe that man, I noticed that tattoo too. But what I saw was not SWAN. Instead, it was SASKATCHEWAN!"

Y'know, folks, it takes all sorts to make the world. Why would anyone put a tattoo on the penis anyway? Or why would anyone have tattoos anywhere on the body at all? I find it strange that this thing about tattoos is becoming fashionable again in KK. I am aware that within Gaya Street alone, we have 2 tattoo saloons.

Recently, during the Rotarian International Night dinner, there was this pretty teenage girl who sat beside me. She was an interactor from one of the schools in KK. While waiting for the progamme to start, I created small talks with her. She said she had an older brother—I believe about 21 years old. I asked her what's her brother doing. She said her brother was a Piercer.

A Piercer? What is a Piercer anyway!? Upon reaching home that night, I looked up for the word in my Oxford Dictionary. And as I had expected, it was no where to be found! Perhaps it's time that I buy myself the latest version of the Oxford.

As it turned out, a Piercer is the name given to a person whose profession is—well—to pierce people's bodies. Piercing bodies is actually a profession! So what else does a Piercer do? Well, they also do tattoos. It is an art, really. Who knows, one of these days, if I lose my job, I might be able to use my imagination and creativity in doing tattoos.

But I sure as hell am not gonna do any LIVELY CHAMP on my penis—even if all those letters can fit there! I can't bear the thought of when and if I end up paralysed in a hospital bed, an old nurse is gonna see the word LIMP on my penis.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Brainstorming Sessions

At 8:30 am every Monday morning, we would have a meeting with the Valuation staff. It is a kind of brainstorming session introduced many years ago. Before I came onto the scene, my partner used to chair the said meetings.

During one of those yam cha I had with my partner at a coffeeshop near to our office, he lamented that none of the staff would dare to speak up during the meetings. It became more of a briefing and hardly ever a discussion or exchange of ideas.

After that I discretely went around and asked some of the staff why wouldn't they speak up. They said there's just no point to suggest something which will be shot down anyway. Besides, they're afraid of offending the boss and getting black-listed for that! In the end, the best policy was to shut up; don't suggest anything; and hope for the best!

Years later, my partner withdrew himself from the so-called meetings, and I ended up chairing the Monday meetings. It took a little while to change the mindset. This morning, as usual, we had another one of those Monday meetings; and I was happy to note that several of them readily raised matters in connection with our work and staff welfare. We were also able to joke and laugh occasionally.

It is strange that many people do not dare to speak up or suggest something new to their superiors for fear of serious repercussions. It is in our culture to "give face" to the boss—even if that boss has made a mistake. Absolutely no one's supposed to question the authority of the big boss. What the boss decides should be obeyed unconditionally!

Thankfully, such mindset is gradually changing in many organizations.

But in some organizations, there are strong forces that will see to it that the boss is always right—even if he is not! The boss is like the captain of a pirate ship. If the boss steers the ship into an iceberg, no one is supposed to challange his order, because he is the boss. Whatever happens to the ship is secondary; what really counts is the boss—his authority remains intact no matter what happens. And if any of the crews questions the boss's authority, then he might find himself walking the plank.

It seems hard to believe, but the above scenario is very much alive in Malaysia. I think this chap will be walking the plank soon.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Supporters

Consider the post-election situation in Sabah. The ruling Barisan Nasional won convincingly. The supporters of the Opposition parties continued with their lives as if nothing has happened. If they are not satisfied with the decision of the majority, then they will have to wait for the next general election and hope that they can convince their peers to support the opposition. Some of them will grumble, of course. But, well, you know how it is when you are on the side of the minority.

Now consider the post-election situation in Penang. Barisan Nasional lost the election. Will their supporters stay calm and wait for the next election? Will they accept the decision of the majority?

Not a chance!

DAP should not dream of a peaceful administration. A major part of their administration will be focused on dealing with the bad losers. Rallies, riots, demonstrations—or however you want to call it—there will be plenty of those.

It would be quite interesting if Guan Eng can invoke the Internal Security Act. It seemed to work well to a certain extent against the HINDRAF demonstrators. After all, the similarity is there.

The Indians were convinced that they have been neglected for generations. It took them all those years to stage such a huge rally. The Penang Malays are now convinced that their rights are being undermined by the new state Government. It took them less than a week to stage a demonstration—and more demonstrations are yet to come.

The Punishment Begins

History has an annoying habit of repeating itself. Last Saturday night, when a friend called me up to inform me that Penang had fallen into the hands of the Opposition, I foresaw some sort of punishment coming from Barisan Nasional (BN). I do not claim to be an expert in Malaysian politics. I knew the punishment was forthcoming because the same thing had happened here in Sabah some years ago when the Opposition overwhelmed the BN. It is very like the BN to do something like that.

Therefore I am not surprised that Penang will also be punished by BN. The BN is not known to accept defeat like a gentleman—far from it. It can conveniently say that it's the people's choice to reject mega projects. But even a small kid would know that there is no logic in that. And I am sure even those people in BN are also fully aware that no Penangite in his right mind would reject development. They are pretending not to understand that the people rejected the BN—not the mega projects. But I suppose that is not easy for those hotshot to admit.

However, unlike the case in Sabah years ago, the situation is slightly different this time. Penang and Selangor are two major contributors to the nation's economy. Suppressing the economy of these states might lead to an overall decline in the economy of the nation as a whole. In other words, punishing Penang (and Selangor) amounts to punishing the BN too. Hence, BN has to think really hard if it's such a good idea to entertain its pride.

In addition to the above, when the Opposition won Sabah, BN still had 2/3 majority in Parliament. Not anymore. 5 States had fallen to the Opposition. The BN has to thread carefully. By trying to retaliate in a childish and bad-loser approach is only going to backfire on them.

Perhaps it is time that the BN really start listening to the people. It can't continue punishing people in the hope that they will become obedient citizens.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Around The World In Search Of Pantat Melayu!

At the end of January, I posted an article entitled "Sakit Pantat!". In it I told the story of how I was laughed at when I innocently uttered the word "pantat" in school.

Just to share with my readers that I have some sort of invisible tracking software for this blog. Quite a beautiful tracking system—it can trace the paths of the readers, i.e. which country (even states), and the respective referring links.

I write about all sorts of stuff in this blog, so it's not surprising that people from all walks of life visit this blog for their reading pleasures. From the tracking software that I mentioned above, I've been able to trace the referring links to a certain extent. Many of those referring links are search engines, e.g. Google or Yahoo searches. So, for example, I can see that many people who've searched for the word "treasure hunt" have found their way to this blog, because I've written quite a bit about treasure hunts.

But I'm amazed to note that almost every day, without fail, people would search for the word "pantat", and found their way to this blog because of the article I posted in January. And they didn't just search for "pantat", but more specifically, "pantat melayu"! Furthermore, those who did the search originated from all over the world—even from as far as Russia!

I have a feeling that they must have been disappointed when they found my blog, because I didn't insert any pictures in this particular article. I am dying of curiosity—I wonder what was it, specifically, that they wanted to know about "pantat melayu". Some weird people!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Having Trouble Getting The Message

"I'm prepared to go even now if the Indian community does not want me anymore"

—MIC President, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu (19 February 2008)

"...times have changed... but there is always a new beginning..."

—MIC President (still), Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu (10 March 2008)

In February, when Samy declared his willingness to "go even now if the Indian Community does not want me anymore", I smiled to myself and said, "Yeah right!" Then an outrageous idea struck me. Wouldn't it be nice if he's really voted out of office in the general election? It would be interesting to see if he would really "go". I have nothing against the fellow, but as a keen observer of human psychology, I was just interested to see the reaction; that's all.

Quite unexpectedly, it turned out that Samy was indeed voted out of office. And as I had expected all along, he is still staying on. Didn't the people make it clear that they wanted him to go? Wasn't the message clear enough during the general election? Why is Samy having trouble getting the message?

"Why should I step down? Our party has won."

—Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi [The Star]

Well, you have to admit it, the guy has a point. After all, BN did win the general election, didn't it? And BN still rules the country.

But what was the message from the people through the ballot boxes? Because after all, it's the voice of the people that's what the general election was all about. It is that message that the Prime Minister needs to fathom; not the support from these 500 people who are now worried that they may have to work—I mean really work—to earn a living.

Realising Full Potential

When Singapore and Malaysia went their separate ways several decades ago, both were more or less on par from the economic point of view. The currencies of both countries were also on par back then.

In terms of resources, no one can deny that Malaysia has much more than Singapore. Malaysia has the size, crude oil, agriculture, and almost everything else—you name it, and Malaysia has more than Singapore.

Yet after a few decades, Singapore has gone so far ahead. Its currency is worth more than double than that of the Ringgit. How come?

Are Singaporeans really cleverer than Malaysians?

Obviously there are many factors that would contribute to the success of a country. But I think one significant factor is whether or not that country is able to tap into its resources—whether it is able to realise the full potential of its strength.

In Singapore, people with big potential are groomed by the government for the future generation. These are the people who would contribute back to the nation in time to come. If one has great potential, it doesn't really matter whether he is a Malay, Chinese or Indian. If he is the best among the best, the potential will very likely be realised for the benefit of the country.

In Malaysia a lot of people with great potential are wasted—unless of course if they are connected to someone like the Prime Minister or others holding high office in the ruling government. Brilliant people like this boy would be lucky if he can end up taking over his father's business as a hawker. Quite a great waste of potential—he might have it in him to become a heart surgeon, or find a cure for AIDS.

That's why I am so happy when the new Penang administration announced the state will be free of the New Economic Policy (NEP). I am confident that it will lead to a brighter future for the state.

In my opinion, the NEP has hampered the progress of Malaysia all these years. The policy which was originally intended to redistribute the wealth and affirmative action for the Bumiputeras to have at least 30% of the country's wealth; but in the end, only some Bumiputeras enjoyed the benefits. The ordinary Bumiputeras in the street received little, if any, benefits from the policy.

It is time for us to do some catching up. Let us all work as Malaysians to bring up this country for a better future!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Termination Of Employment

I had quite a shock at the office this morning. I received a plain brown envelope addressed to "The Director", followed by my company's name, and finally "Attention: Mr Cornelius Koh". The envelope was not sealed. I opened it and the first thing I saw was the heading of the letter: "TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT". It brought a lump to my throat.

For a moment, I thought it's time for me to pack my stuff and start looking for a job elsewhere. Then I continued reading the letter. It turned out that it was from a clerk in our Keningau office. She meant to give us notice for her resignation, but instead used "TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT" for the heading of the letter.

Reminds me of my good friend who recently lost his job. He has many years of experience in civil works, particularly in road building—especially those involving the collection of road tolls. Quite a determined chap, I tell you; not even an army could stop him from performing his duties. But in the end he was kicked out anyway. I am sure many construction companies are vying for his service at this very moment. To those companies which will end up losing the bid to employ my friend, I am so sorry for you all. It will probably take a very long time before another golden opportunity such as this will become available again.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Missing Balls

BALLS—yesterday they were missing in the Land Below The Wind. The Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition almost achieved a clean sweep of the state seats in the 12th general election. I braved the rain to perform my duty at the polling station. But it was not meant to be—there were simply not enough of us with balls.

Some of my West Malaysian friends have asked me why we Sabahans had no balls. Well, I can't speak for all of us. However, let me say that having balls did us no good in the past. There was once when Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) pulled out of the BN, but won the election with a slim majority. The following weeks saw many elected jokers selling themselves to the BN. In the end, BN regained the majority, and with it took control of Sabah once again. It ended PBS's 9-year rule of the state. It was only years later that the PBS was readmitted into BN. It was a very severe punishment by the BN.

Within the next few weeks from now, of course some people will be going on fishing expeditions. If some unseen forces can "convince" some of those elected people in the opposition camp to join BN, then BN might just be able to regain the 2/3 majority in Parliament. Needless to say, it will cost millions to "convince" these people, but what is a few millions to BN, right? And if necessary, they can always make use of the RM100 million meant for Dr Faiz's ride into space. We know that everyone has his price, so crazy things might just happen.

FIVE states lost to the opposition—a few weeks ago, that's something quite unthinkable, really! Not that I am very surprised by Samy's fate in Sungai Siput; but what about Dr Koh and Sharizat? I am sure everyone was very happy with Samy's performance—his fight for the Indian community all these years. But in the end, I guess his people pitied him and wanted him to rest. And what better way to do it on his birthday?

It is something to win against the BN; but it's quite another thing to win big!

And so Pak Lah suddenly finds himself walking on thin ice which is melting very fast as we approach the heat of summer. All eyes are on him, and there will be some difficult questions to answer during the party elections around midyear. Not that the official website which was set up to send in praises for the Prime Minister can be of much use then. Neither can the impeccable self-assessment report cards for the performance of the Government.

It is interesting to note that when some of those hotshot VIPs were interviewed immediately after the election results were out, they said that they will have to analyse why the voters voted opposition. They said that they're shocked by the results; that as far as they were concerned, they had very strong grassroot support. Well, I guess that means their source of information was questionable, huh? It is terrible and dangerous when you are surrounded by too many "yes-men".

So what happens now? Well, to start with, the opposition could start working on keeping their election promises. And of course the BN will try very, very hard not to let that happen. If the opposition can somehow keep their promises, I think we can safely say that the BN will fall one after another like dominoes in the next general election.

I think no one is particularly keen to be in Pak Lah's shoes right now.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Final Stretch

Yes, folks, it's the final stretch of the race. The day after tomorrow will be polling day. The clowns have been very busy with their respective acts, and I can imagine that they must be extremely exhausted by now.

I was having my nasi campur during lunch at Gaya Street on Tuesday when I was surprised to see Christina Liew walked into the coffee shop. She had a whole bunch of leaflets in her hand. She had a few assistants accompanying her; one of them held the PKR flag. Liew shook hands with those in the coffee shop. I had my share of handshake too. When she arrived at my table, extending her hand, I smiled kindly to her but said nothing. I merely nodded my head, and she said, "I know!" And yes, I received the leaflet which contained important justifications for voting opposition.

Last week, we had another Liew who came to the office. He too had leaflets with justifications for voting BN. But he did not bring along any flag.

During past elections, we used to have poster wars all over the city. Not to mention an amazing amount of leaflets which were distributed to practically everyone in town—including all those illegals who were residing in Sabah as Malaysians (They are still residing in Sabah up to now—in fact, even more than ever). Then the countless of ceramahs and visits to the grassroot level.

This time round there is a different feeling about the whole election process. They still have the ceramahs and visits to the rakyat. But I have a feeling it's much lesser than before. Times have changed—the BN no longer has the clear edge as before. With the advent of modern technology, the oppositions are campaigning through the internet these days.

And believe you me, the avalanche of emails that have been flooding my emailbox these last 2 weeks have been amazing. In fact, I have been receiving the same (forwarded) emails several times from different people, some of whom I have never heard of before! Of course there are those forwarded messages on youTube. Then not to forget text messages on my cellphone.

I think no one can escape from the barrages of information. All sorts of ideas—some are contained in poems; some in songs; some in pictorial reports. Mind you, these are informative materials. Before this I didn't know much about the multi-million mansions owned by some ma cai of the VIPs. If the ma cai are that rich, just imagine how much more richer are those VIPs!

I have made up my mind long ago who to vote for; or rather which party to vote for. All these campaignings, ceramahs and handshakes from the VIPs will not shake my decision. I don't give a hoot about the politicians who are running for office. Politicians are all the same. Their first concern when they get into office is to fill up their own pockets. We Sabahans had a Chief Minister under the ill-formulated rotation system some years ago. Within a timeframe of only 2 years as the Chief Minister, he was able to amass millions! But of course he threw away a major portion of those millions in a London casino. In fact, he ended up owing many more millions after that, having paid up millions and millions of Ringgit, the source of which no one knows up to now.

It will be a long night this Saturday. I'm gonna keep the coffee warm the whole night through. But I think we will all know our next Government in the early evening; the show's gonna be over well before midnight.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

KK City Run 2008

My cellphone alarm went off at 6am this morning. It was so hard for me to drag myself out of bed so early on a Sunday morning. But today's the KK City Run 2008. Several of us from my company have promised each other that we would run this year.

I got out of bed, freshened up and left the house shortly after 6:30am. It's so nice to drive at that hour in the morning. There were so few cars on the road. I reached the Town Padang at around 6:45am; there were already so many people there. My partner arrived some half an hour later.

Although the official flag-off time was supposed to have been at 7am, nothing happened until a good half an hour after that. Some aerobics instructors went onstage, played some music and started doing some aerobics dance. The Mayor was there to see us off. By the time we were flagged off, it was almost 8am.

It was such a big crowd. When the whistle blew, we could hardly move. So I merely walked together with my employees for some distance. About 2 minutes later, the runners began to space out and we were able to start running.

This was the first time I joined the KK City Run, so I was not even aware of the route we were to take. At first I thought we would run pass Bandaran Berjaya, then passing the Chung Hwa School, turning into the road leading to Jalan Kolam, reach the roundabout and then make our way back to the Town Padang. That would have been about 4 km too. Instead, when we got to the roundabout, we turned into Jalan Istana and had to run uphill for a distance of almost 2 km. Oh it was so punishing because I had not expected that route, and did not preserve my energy for it. By the time I reached that winding Jalan Istana, my employees were nowhere to be seen. I kept going eventhough I felt like half dead.

And then finally it was time to go downhill again. What a relief! The Town Padang was very beautiful from afar. Surprisingly I felt there was still enough in me during the final stretch, and I was able to increase my pace to the finish line. 25 minutes and 34 seconds, covering a little over 4 km. Not exactly the kind of performance that would make the national marathon team, but I'd like to think of it as leaving some room for future improvement (smile). My employees arrived about 10 minutes later; and my partner another 5 minutes after that. A mild exercise on a Sunday morning. If only I did not have to wake up so early!

There were free drinks and snacks for all the participants; and there were lucky draws after that. Attractive prizes were at stake, i.e. mountain bikes, and numerous electrical goods including desktop computers and a laptop worth RM3,500. I lingered on for a little while longer, but soon gave up on the lucky draws. I am never lucky when it comes to lucky draws, you see. I left my employees who were still eagerly hoping to win something from the lucky draws. Later on, I called them up and found out that they did not win anything at all. Oh well, maybe next year they'll get something.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Political Chess Game

It must have been almost 10 years ago when I signed up for an open chess tournament. I started playing the game seriously in my late twenties—way too old to start competitive chess! Competitive chess is really time-consuming—many hours hovering over a chess board, analysing complex positions; and many more hours reading chess literatures, studying positional theories and endgames etc. I have since lost a major portion of all those knowledge, having given up on the game some years ago. However, some pleasant memories have remained up to now.

In the fourth round, I was paired up against a promising young player. Time control was 90 minutes plus 45 minutes after reaching 40 moves. I was the underdog. He had the white pieces, and so it was even harder for me to dictate the game.

1. d4 d5

When you have played chess for long enough, there will come a time when you will stumble upon the queen's pawn opening—a sound opening which has been adopted by many grandmasters for ages. It will often lead to a very positional game where theoritical knowledge is very important.

2. c4 e6

White offers his flank pawn, a maneuver known as the queen's gambit; but at the same time attacking the d5 pawn. I decided to play safe, and therefore defended my d pawn with the e pawn. This is known as the Queen's Gambit Declined.

3. Nc3 Nf6

White develops his knight while attacking the d5 pawn again; and black develops his knight while defending that d5 pawn. The d5 pawn is therefore attacked twice and defended three times (the queen on d8 defends it too). Still OK.

4. Bg5

Now white plays aggressively; he develops his queen's bishop and pins black's knight at f6. Now we have a bit of an issue. Black's f6 knight can't move, because if it moves, white's bishop can take the black queen on d8. In other words, that f6 knight is indirectly no longer defending the d5 pawn. How should black defend? Many people would defend with ... Be7 here. This move breaks the pin while developing a piece at the same time.

4. ... Nbd7

A dubious-looking move by black. This move develops a minor piece and defends the f6 knight. However, it does not break the pin. The black queen is therefore still in danger. Besides, that knight standing on the d7 square blocks the queen's defense of the d5 pawn. So now the d5 pawn is only defended by the e6 pawn and the f6 knight, but the latter is stuck to his post because of the pin. White was therefore able to take advantage of the situation and win materials.

5. cxd5 exd5

6. Nxd5

Now white has gained a pawn, and at the same time attacks the f6 knight twice. If that f6 knight moves, white's bishop will take black's queen at d8. Therefore a passive (defensive) move like ...Be7 comes to mind.

6. ... Nxd5!!

The black knight breaks the pin by brute force, and wins a knight for a pawn!

As early as this 6th move, I had technically won the game. The rest of the game was just to make sure not to make any mistake. I played safe by trading down proportionately, clearning off the board as quickly as I could.

I take no credit for the above repertoire. The trap was invented by a renown grandmaster more than a hundred years ago. Those painful hours reading chess literatures can be useful.

There are lessons to be learnt here.

1) In most battles, planning and preparations are very, very important. Without proper preparations, one is often caught by unpleasant surprises.

2) Never ever underestimate your opponents, even if it seems impossible for them to beat you.

3) Always be patient and be united. Rushing out to attack the enemy without developing your pieces first is almost always a bad strategy. Try to resist the greed. It is normally much easier to attack when all your pieces (resources) are developed and can work together. You know the saying (CoC Michael Pang knows this one): Numbers have strength.

During this election season, we see that the ruling Barisan Nasional planned well ahead. Their campaigning actually started long before the the dissolution of parliament. The opposition also did some preparations, although to a much lesser extent. They had very limited resources, and permits for gatherings were not easy to get!

I can't help but feel that the ruling Government is underestimating some opposition candidates, but maybe the have a justifiable reason for doing so.

However, the most pitiful fact is that the opposition parties are not united. Endless bickerings, different agendas and manifestos. How are we to have any confidence in them? Even if they can win any seats at all, they will all end up becoming lonely cowboys!