Monday, September 29, 2008

For The Sake Of Sedekah

A friend sent me an email entitled "What logic is this?". In it he sent me a link for a news article. I have not answered the question, but I'm posting this article instead. I hope my readers are not dumb like those idiots referred to in the news article.

Let's talk a bit about Anwar Ibrahim and his accuser, Saiful. Saiful claims that Anwar sodomised him; and the latter denies it. Saiful went to the extent of swearing on the Quran, and then challenged Anwar to do the same. But in the end, apparently there was little for Saiful to support his claim. So when Anwar was finally charged in court, it was for the crime of consensual sex between the two. The strange thing is that only Anwar is charged and not Saiful. Syed Hamid has his justification, of course. But many years ago, Malaysians will remember that the police found that Anwar did similar acts, apparently with the consents of, two other men. And both those men were punished with jail terms, although both of them retracted their confessions later. One must ask the question why has the authority given Saiful a different treatment now? Anyway, justification or not, that is how the matter is handled by the authority.

Now we have a different case involving some VIPs. They have been found to have sex with Chinese nationals [The Star]. But what's important, according to the asshole, is that they did not ask for the women. Those women were sedekah (alms).

How did these dumb assholes get to hold those positions anyway? Sedekah? So what if they didn't ask for those women? That still doesn't change the fact that these idiots are corrupt officers and accept bribes, whether in cash or Chinese women. And they had the cheek to lodge a police report against the person "inducing" them to have those women. If they knew that what was offered was morally wrong, they could have easily turned down the offer.

So how did their bosses deal with them? Should the inducer be punished? Or both parties should be punished? Well, obviously both parties should be punished. After all, where is the logic in taking action against one party only when both were involved in it? So there can only be one way to deal with it [The Star].

So we can see the different approaches adopted by the different parties. In the case of Anwar, the crime was, according to the charge, consensual between the two men, that is to say that Saiful and Anwar did it together, willingly. Yet only Anwar is being punished. In the case of the assholes with the supposed inducer, it was decided by their boses that both should be punished.

Which approach would you prefer to have in our legal system?

Sighting New Moon

This morning I received a call from my step-mother. She will be going to Lahad Datu to visit my sister, Audrey, for the Hari Raya holidays. As usual, she would call me up for some travelling pocket-money. And she wanted it immediately! She said tommorow is already Hari Raya, because she's convinced that the new moon could be sighted this evening. I said to her that no new moon would be sighted this evening.

Then I raised the question of moon sighting in my office; and it became quite a commotion! We have quite a number of self-proclaimed astrologers in the office, really. Some said that we will certainly be able to sight the new moon this evening; and some said otherwise.

Of course some tried to be funny, asking me to be more specific—did I mean sighting of the moon in Malaysia or Makkah? That question probably had a lot to do with my asking too many trick questions to my staff. They sort of have this automatic defensive mechanism against my questions, you see. An example of such questions would be something like this:

There are 5 durians in a basket. You take away 2. How many durians would you have then?

Anyway, after all the explanations and justifications, I think I am satisfied that Hari Raya will be on 01 October, i.e. no new moon will be sighted this evening.

I have long been convinced of the accuracy of the Chinese calendar when it comes to things like this. According to the Chinese calendar, today is the first of a new month. Usually, the new moon would be sighted on the first day of a new month. However, because the previous month had only 29 days, it is unlikely that the new moon would be sighted on the first day of the following month. If the previous month had 30 days, then it is possible to sight the new moon on the first day of the following month. Interesting what you can learn from all these self-proclaimed astrologers!

If the above is correct—and I think it is—then no new moon will be sighted this evening; and our Muslim friends will have to fast for one more day!

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all my Muslim friends:

Selamat Hari Raya

Maaf zahir dan batin

Dan kalau pun tak dapat maafkan, pura-pura maaf pun jadi lah!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Running Tops & Bras

Mia and I are both running in the Borneo International Marathon in October. The other day, we were talking about running outfits, and we ended up talking about running tops and bras for women. She said instead of running in T-shirts, she'd like to run in something more comfortable. I said why not a running vest? She said she didn't like vests (women!!). She still prefers a specific running top or bra. So she started describing it to me.

I said if it means a lot to her, then just go and buy a few of those. I have since searched the net based on her description and just shortly ago, she has confirmed that the above is indeed the kind she's looking for. She is not keen on running in just bras, if you know what I mean. If you like perhaps we can say it's something in between bras and singlet.

So anyway, she said running tops like in the above picture are not available here in KK. They're only available in bigger cities, perhaps in KL or Singapore. I found that hard to believe. So last weekend, I went around to some shops to prove her wrong. To my surprise, it's really hard to find this kind of running top in KK! On Sunday, I went to Sports Mart in Api-Api Centre because I knew that they're having a discount sale right now. Unfortunately, as Murphy's Law would have it, they were closed then.

Although I have adopted the "Advertisement" label for this post, actually I'm not advertising to sell anything. Instead I'm advertising to ask my KK readers where to find anything like in the above picture. Ummmm... I mean the outfit, not the sexy model please! If anyone has any information, please let me know. I still don't believe we don't have it in KK.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

theSun Motor Hunt 2008

This is for the benefit of my Sabahan friends who might be keen to go for a different kind of adventure holidays this year. TheSun Motor Hunt 2008 is now confirmed on 02 November, and the entry form may be downloaded from the Timeout Solutions website (it may take a while for the page to load).

I have attempted to invite some friends from KK to form a scrap team, but having received negative answers, I have decided to secure a ride with some friends from KL instead. In fact, we have rushed to register as soon as possible. At first I thought I could gain an advantage from registering early (not because we're afraid that we won't be in time to register), but it turned out that there isn't much advantage after all. But I will reveal more about this in time to come. I want to see what's gonna happen first.

Meanwhile, this morning a friend from KK—he's a strong hunter—said that his team might also join theSun. So I think the Open Category will be quite interesting this year! It would be nice if more Sabahan hunters would venture out to the west to try their luck.

In the mean time, the CoC must be having a tough time conjuring up questions for the treasures, now that the scope of search had suddenly been reduced by 132 items. But hopefully most of those items would have been put back onto the shelves by November.

Borneo Marathon—Countdown

It's the final countdown—the Borneo International Marathon is just over 2 weeks away. The excitement is mounting, but the anxiety is also gradually building up. And being the paranoid person that I am, the anxiety can be quite tough to handle.

Will I be able to finish the run?; will it be raining on that day?; I hope the weather won't be too hot that morning?; oh... hopefully I won't get injured before the run... One thousand and one worries, and still building up!

Since last week I've begun to taper; last Sunday, I did only 15 km. And I will probably reduce the distance some more. YFitness is still closed up to now (I think it's a gone case), so the only option is the Likas jogging track. Luckily the weather has been kind over the last 2 evenings. I went for short runs (6 km and 8 km) yesterday and the day before so that I could work on my pace (it doesn't seem to be working though). And I'll be there again today. I see many familiar faces doing their final leg of marathon training.

What an amazing 2 months these have been. When I first stumbled upon the Borneo Marathon post in a friend's blog, I decided to sign up for the 10k. But later another friend, Teo, who's signed up for the full marathon, convinced me to sign up for the half marathon instead. I have since been increasing my pace and distance; and peaked at 21 km about 2 weeks ago. Now I am looking forward to repeat that feat on 12 October.

Shan has recently informed me that there is a possibility that everyone might get the adidas running vest as opposed to only the full marathon runners. Keeping my fingers crossed that that will indeed happen.

So all system go—New pair of adidas adizero (hey, where's my RM50 discount voucher?) set to go; shorts and vest, go; fitness level, go; power bars, go—all looking good.

Bring it on!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hazard Of Steel Benches

For quite a while now I've been meaning to write something very basic about the tort of negligence. Of course I am not a lawyer, but there was once when I read quite widely on this particular subject when I had to defend my valuation report in court.

I delayed writing this article until a friend sent me a weird new today. So I thought I might as well take the opportunity to, finally, write this long-overdue article.

In order for the injured party to succeed in his claim under the tort of negligence, he must satisfy 3 main requirements, viz:

1) Whether there is a duty owed to the injured party;

2) If there is indeed a duty owed, whether there is a breach of that duty;

3) Whether the loss is a result of the breach of that duty (causation).

Obviously there is a long dicussion on each of the above requirement, but for the purpose of this article, I'd like to discuss the extent of the responsibility when there is indeed a duty owed to the claimant.

In Chan Kwai-ngor v Leung Fat-hang [1992] HKC, there was a warning notice that the floor in a dim sum restaurant was wet. But the notice was not put up in a place where it was easily seen. The plaintiff, who was a patron of the shop, slipped in the entrance hall when entering the kitchen while trying to get some dim sum. She did not wait for people to serve her. As a result of the fall, she suffered bodily injury. She sued the restaurant for negligence.

The court held that the agent who's managing the building was liable as it did not take sufficient steps to prevent the incident from happening.

I must point out that the standard of care that is required here is that of a reasonable person. If, for example, it is not reasonably foreseeable by a layman in the street that someone might slip on the wet floor, then it is doubtful that the action against the restaurant would have succeeded.

As you can see, the standard of care in this particular case was very high. Having the warning sign was deemed not good enough. It was not revealed what was the exact content of that warning sign, but I supposed it didn't really matter because the point is that it was put up in a place that was hard to see.

Local authorities, too, owe the duty of care to the public at large. In Malaysia, it is unclear whether one can actually sue the local authority for injuries suffered due to, say, faulty swings or see-saws in public parks. We are all familiar with warning signs in the car parks, e.g. Park At Own Risk, something like that. Perhaps some of the lawyer readers of this blog would like to comment on this.

What kind of warning signs would be required for public parks or other common properties. Perhaps the local authorities should consider putting up a warning sign containing this:


Or something to that effect...

Then maybe this guy would have been spared of the misadventure. But of course who in his right mind would have foreseen anyone could have wanted to have sex with a bench?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Super Maids?

I have written about the quality of university degrees these days. A fair number of local university graduates have been seeking employment in our firm. Some of them made it to the interview stage where I found out that they could hardly handle English. The medium of instruction in our local universities is Malay. Yes, I am aware that in some cases these students are also given the option to attempt exam questions in English. But they are not compelled to answer in English. Unfortunately, in the private sector, we are still overwhelmingly English. The letters we write, the reports we produce, and almost every other documents are all in English.

Apart from the language problem, many of these graduates are essentially well-tuned photocopy machines. The education system have trained them very well to be able to reproduce whatever they read from the text books—they are extremely good with the cut-and-paste through the computers. But when you instruct them to write a report from scratch on their own, they are paralysed.

I am not very well-versed with the situation in West Malaysia, but here in KK, we employ a fresh Valuation Graduate at RM1,200 per month. After 3 months, if we find that he can justify the worth of his degree, that salary would normally be revised to RM1,500 per month. That is usually followed by a small annual increment. After a few years, he would typically earn RM2,000 - RM2,500 per month. I am aware that other firms are paying even less.

In the event that he pursues his registration with the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents, Malaysia, his salary would be revised substantially upon registration. However, usually most of them will never ever get that far. They end up earning their fixed salaries month after month; year after year. A typical excuse is that they don't have the time to pursue the professional qualification.

Now compare that with paying a maid RM1,372 per month. How ridiculous can it get? I don't know about other Sabahans, but I would rather not have a maid than employing a Filipino maid at whatever price. Perhaps one of these days I will become so desperate for a domestic helper that I have no choice but to employ a Filipino maid. But I doubt that that will come anytime soon. Of course I have my reasons why I view Filipino maids so negatively, but perhaps it's not such a good idea to discuss that here.

Apart from that RM1,372, employers are also required to provide a decent room plus 3 square meals per day, not to mention the cost of work pass etc. And when I say meals, I don't mean only RM5.80 per day. So in fact the cost would be much higher than RM1,372.

In Sabah we have many Bumis earning a lot less than RM1,372 per month. And I am convinced that the situation is also similar in the West. If that is the price of a maid, then it means that only the rich can afford maids.

Incidentally, my maid has gone back to her village in Indonesia a little over 2 months ago. She said she'd like to come back to continue working for me. But I have a feeling she's stuck in Nunukan and probably finds it hard to enter Sabah, now that the Government is all out to show the people that they're doing something about all these illegal foreigners.

It is very difficult to cope without a maid, but it will take much more than what we're going through now before we even consider employing a Filipino maid. Who knows, maybe in a week or two, Fin will arrive from Indonesia. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

SM St Francis Convent Interact Club—Installation Night

Yesterday evening was the SM St Francis Convent Interact Club's Installation Night. It was held at the Rose Garden, Magellan, Sutera Harbour Resort. I attended the event, being the New Generation Director together with a fellow Rotarian, Paul Foronda. Paul is the Student Advisor for the Interact Club of this school.

I was seated with Paul and the incoming President (2008-2009), Miss Michelle Chu. As the Student Advisor, Paul gave a short speech at the start of the event. That was followed by a speech by the outgoing President, Miss Rebecca Thien. And then later Michelle, too, gave a speech.

I was somewhat impressed that the girls gave my kind of entertainment this year. They actually sang comprehensible lyrics which were mostly accompanied by music from acoustic guitars. The entertainments by the other Interact Clubs before this were mostly loud noises of what they called music, and lots of yelling which were presumably song lyrics. But of course they saved their modern dance (or at least I think that's what they call those sudden jerky movements) for the last. Judging from the reaction of the crowd, it was obvious that they enjoyed that particular performance. It's one of those unfathomable big mysteries.

Overall, I must say that this year's Installation Night was much better than last year's. I remember when I attended last year's Installation Night, it was held in the Grand Port View. Unfortunately on that same evening, there was another big function on the adjacent hall, and the musics from both sides sort of clashed with each other.

Having said that, however, I must say that Rose Garden is somewhat too lavish for the Installation Night of the Interact Club. These kids went all out to get sponsors for this occasion, but I feel that such resources might be put to better use for their service projects.

I'd like to mention here that I find the St Franciscans are by far the most organised Interactors when compared to the clubs from the other schools. I received their invitation about 2 weeks before the event. It gave me sufficient time to react. The Interactors from the other schools gave me only 2 days' notice, probably assuming that we Rotarians don't have anything else to do with our time!

I'd like to congratulate Miss Michelle Chu and her officers, and I wish them all the best in their community projects throughout the year.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Gapar—Reminiscing On The Good 'Ol Days

Every 3 to 4 weeks I would make a call to Gapar. He's a Timorese who's been in Sabah for over 10 years now. He's been moving from one odd job to another. Now he cuts grass from house to house, of which he's charging RM20 to RM30 depending on the size of the compound. He's quite a jolly chap; and he's also inclined to reminisce on his experience living in Sabah.

As a keen student of psychology, I try to find the time to talk to people from all walks of life, including Om Gapar. Recently, after he had finished with my garden, I walked out to him for a chit-chat. And he was all too willing to indulge in a lively conversation with me. Within an approximate 30 minutes chatting with him, I was able get a glimpse of his life in Sabah.

Over 10 years ago, Gapar first entered Sabah through Nunukan—illegally, of course. From Nunukan, he entered Tawau, an eastern town of Sabah. After spending a short time in Tawau he found his way to Keningau and eventually all the way to Nabawan and Pensiangan. He ended up in one of those timber camps. He was employed as a "tukang kupas". Essentially, his job was about removing the barks from the many round logs in the jungle. He quickly became an expert in his job and was therefore able to de-bark a huge number of logs, thus earning a big salary.

I watched him sitting on a stool, smoking a cigarette, reminiscing on the good 'ol days. He used to earn as much as RM7,500 per month. However, it's quite a norm in the timber camps that salaries would only be paid in full when the logs had been sold. In the mean time, labourers would be paid only portions of their salaries. He gave an example: If a labourer achieved an income of RM5,000, then the manager would pay him RM2,000. The balance would be paid after the logs were sold.

Once every month the labourers would have a few days off after they received their salaries. And it was a norm that the labourers would take the opportunity to go to the nearest town, i.e. Keningau. They would usually spend 3 nights in Keningau, and while there they'd spend most of their time drinking and getting drunk all the time. To make full use of their time in Keningau, they would hire the service of prostitutes at the cost of several hundred bucks per night. They would normally book these women for the entire 3 nights while they're in town. After 3 nights in Keningau, they could spend up to RM1,500 to RM1,800. When they're running low on cash, they'd go back into the timber camp to earn the money again.

That was how Gapar lived his life for some years. Then his taukeh ran out of concession areas and the timber camp had to close. Gapar had no more job, and his taukeh still owed him RM8,000, which proved to be a debt up till now. Gapar sought employment in other camps, but they all ended up with depleted timber resources.

This job, that job; this town, that town. In the end Gapar found his way to KK where he raised a bit of money to buy a bush-cutter. He then bought a second-hand bicycle and started going from house to house in housing estates in KK.

He still remembers the good old days when he was earning loads of money. He said it is very hard to "look" for money these days. And occasionally he has to share his income with the police too. He regrets wasting all the money he had earned in the past. When he left his village more than 10 years ago, he was supposed to send money home to his old folks frequently, but he ended up not sending a single sen all those years.

I see so many people living their lives like Gapar—even the highly educated ones. Very, very few people actually bother to save their money. Whatever they earn, they spend. Whatever they can borrow, they will borrow as much as possible. It's not really about how much they earn.

In Malay, there is a saying: Bila periuk nasi semakin besar, maka kerak nasi pun semakin besar juga. It means that when the rice pot is bigger, the rice crust (scorched rice that adheres to the inner side of the pot) will also be bigger.

Can you remember the time when you earned your very first pay cheque? I bet it was a small amount when compared to what you're earning now. Yet you were able to survive with that small amount, weren't you? As you earn more, your appetitie will grow too. Very few people will reach a point where they earn enough to be able to save a portion of their incomes. The appetite will keep growing so that whatever improvement in earning power will never be enough for savings.

And so Gapar is still waiting for the next break when he will have the opportunity to earn big money again. He said this time he will make it a point to save up.

Yeah right!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Drama

For several months now, after the Malaysian General Election in March, Anwar Ibrahim had repeatedly claimed that many MPs in the ruling Government wanted to defect to the opposition camp, i.e. to Pakatan Rakyat. He claimed that he had enough MPs to achieve a simple majority and hence would be able to form a new Government by 16 September.

Well, we have passed that date and Anwar is yet to form his new Government. However, he still insists that he has 31 MPs who're ready to defect. In fact, he claims that he has more than that! Many Malaysians have been waiting for the so-called political tsunami to happen, having had an earlier tsunami in March.

Does Anwar really have 31 MPs from the ruling Government?

Only time will tell, but I wouldn't brush off his claims so easily. My guess is that he has achieved the number and now ready to reveal his Ace from up his sleeve. But he's not doing it just yet. Why? I think if one were to study Anwar's past behaviour, it is possible to understand him to a certain extent.

Here then is a man who has an obsession to be the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Throughout his political career he has always been craving for publicity; and he has a pathetic obsession of the spotlight. Whatever he does he must make sure that all eyes are on him. Whenever he does something he must create a drama—something grand; something to be remembered for a long, long time.

For a while he had the famous Lingam's video clip in silence. But he did not release that video clip immediately. No—he wanted to do it in style. He would release it eventually, but it must be done after a dramatic song and dance. He released that video clip in parts. The first part contained several seconds. It was a dramatic revelation. He kept his audience in the dark for a while. Then he announced that he had a second part of that video clip. More drama ensued. Some more waiting, and just when his audience was beginning to doubt that he had that second part, he came in for the kill. Truly, Anwar Ibrahim is a natural ringmaster.

I think Anwar really has enough MPs to claim at least a simple majority to form the new Government. But to do it on 16 September does not accord well with this style. That will no doubt be major news headlines, but that is not dramatic enough. As usual, he will create doubt first. People are wondering is he telling the truth or not? Maybe not? I think he is just waiting to make a big entrance when the time is "right".

Of course Pak Lah, in spite of what he said to the press, also believes in Anwar's claim. Otherwise why else would the Government spend so much money to send so many MPs to Taiwan before 16 September? More recently, we see the sudden switch of portfolios between Pak Lah and Najib. Pak Lah is now in charge of Defence; and at the same time he announced that Anwar is a threat to national security and economy.

I have a feeling that at least one more person will soon be arrested under the Internal Security Act. But I won't be surprised if 31 others are also hauled in together with that person. If that happens, I'm eager to see how the rakyat would react. We're talking about some people who're obsessed with power here. One will do anything to be the new Prime Minister; and the other will do anything—even throwing his opponents into the freezer—to remain the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Incidentally, this afternoon I attended a talk on the nature of palm oil industry in Sabah. Looking at the figures and analysis by the economic expert who delivered that talk, it seems that we're heading for a bad time ahead. And the KLCI on Bursa Malaysia has just gone below the 1000 point today.

I hope for our sake, tomorrow we will all wake up to a brighter day...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Borneo Marathon—Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head

Last Sunday, I did my long run at the Likas jogging track. Then Monday was my rest day. Yesterday, my legs were still aching, but I decided to run at least 5 km. As the day of the marathon draws closer, I try not to compromise on my training.

Unfortunately, yesterday being a public holiday, YFitness was closed. When I signed up for the membership at YFitness, I was told that it would be open even during public holidays. But the business is half dead right now; they're down to only 3 employees for the entire 3 floors. I can't imagine how long it's been since the last time they received their salaries.

Anyway, since YFitness was closed, I had no choice but to do the 5 km at the Likas track. But while I was getting ready to leave for the jogging track, it began to rain. I spent some minutes trying to make up my mind whether to go running or not. In the end, I decided that I had to run. So I went to the track and actually ran in the rain. I'm not sure if that's a very healthy thing to do, but at least I completed that 5 km.

Today I had planned to work on my speed on the treadmill at YFitness. Mia was also eager to resume training again. She's been away to Genting for a short holiday, so she hasn't been training for a few days. She's only doing the 10 km for the Borneo International Marathon, and she's already completed the 10 km training about 2 weeks ago. I think she peaked too soon. But on the other hand, she'll have to gradually increase her distance because she'll be running the 21 km together with me in Singapore in December.

We rushed home from work; changed into our respective running outfits and then headed for YFitness. Just imagine what we felt when we found that YFitness was closed again today! Does anyone know what is going on? Are they closed for good this time? How very disappointing!

So now I have no choice but to go to sleep very early tonight. I will need to wake up at around 4:45 am tomorrow morning so that I can start running at 5:15 am at the jogging track. I reckon I'll take between 50 minutes to an hour to complete 10 km. So I should be able to finish at around 6:15 am and reach home around 6:30 am to 6:45 am. So I should have just enough time for shower etc and get ready for work. How dreadful! I hope it doesn't rain then, or else I'll have no choice but to postpone my run again. While I want so much to continue with my training, I also don't want to fall sick because of the rain. All this is very bad timing, but the marathon is so close—one way or another, I simply have to keep going.

I really don't know how I'm going to train beyond the Borneo International Marathon; I have at least 2 other half-marathons to run. A friend had also invited me to run as a team in Genting on 2nd November—the kind of run which involves going through jungle, hilly terrains, crossing rivers, muddy paths etc. He told me to put on a pair of shoes which I'm prepared to throw away after the event. Sounds interesting and very tempting, but I really need to consider if I'm up to it. Since it's a team event, I dread the prospect of being the one to lose the event!

At any rate, the last time I checked, theSun Hunt is scheduled on 2nd November. I have more or less confirmed with some friends that I'll hunt with them for theSun. Our "training hunts" would go to waste if I opted out of theSun. We trained and did pretty impressively in the LexisNexis. Another training hunt with them on 18th October. After all the trouble, my friends will kill me if I withdrew from theSun!

Interestingly, there will be another hunt to be held on the 1st November, the day before theSun. I have joined back-to-back hunts in KL before, but I probably will opt out of the Trialblazers' hunt this time. I'll probably concentrate on theSun alone. I don't have much faith in hunts where all the top 10 winners score the same points (for the questions). To me such hunts have not much value even if I won the top prize.

A friend put it nicely, although referring to hunts in general:

"What's the point if top 6 teams have perfect scores and most positions have to be decided by tie-breakers. I view such hunts as disastrous! Not only does it leave many hunters unhappy with the results, it doesn't accord very much recognition of victory to the winners."

But theSun is still some weeks to go. I guess I'll get to see some of you familiar faces in Seremban on the 18th October.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Calling The Bluff

Well, floks, in a few hours' time we're breaching over to the 17th of September. What has happened to Anwar Ibrahim's claim that he will form a the new Malaysian Government by the 16th of September? Was he bluffing?

As of today, Anwar's still adamant—he still insists that he has enough MPs who will defect to the PKR to enable him to form the new Government. But it will be delayed for a few more days. Is this yet another bluff?

I can't tell. But it is interesting to note that some BN hotshots are showing signs of wanting to defect to the other side. The early bird is of course Datuk Yong Teck Lee of the SAPP. He has been wanting Pak Lah to sack him. He could have simply defected on his own accord, but that may not seem to be gentlemanly. More recently, in fact within the last couple of days, we've also seen Muhyiddin Yassin spoke out on the need for Pak Lah to hand over the Prime Ministership sooner. He had earlier said that he was prepared to face the consequences (for speaking up). In the good old days, speaking up like that against the Prime Minister would have almost certainly be met with sacking by the party. Was that what Muhyiddin was asking for?

Zaid Ibrahim had also taken the "heroic" way out. He seized the opportunity to resign when 3 people were arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA). Pak Lah had initially rejected his resignation, but eventually had to accept it today.

Elsewhere it seems that an increasing number of BN VIPs spoke out against the latest arrests under the ISA. BN VIPs hardly ever dared to open their mouths against their leaders in the past, but suddenly a fair number of them are practically asking to be sacked.

But Pak Lah must suppress his inclination to be trigger happy. He can't afford to simply shoot everyone who speaks up. That's how it is when you have very limited ammunition. He needs these allies even if he doesn't really treat them as his friends.

So if these MPs and other VIPs are not getting sacked, will they eventually resign anyway? I think at least some of them will, especially those who wanted so much to have high positions but were not given any in the present Government. Who knows, the pasture might be greener on the other side, right? Of course it has nothing very much to do with wanting to be of service to the people. That is secondary—now they're more concerned with their own political career and pockets first. Maybe if they end up being in high office, they will spend some time to do something for us all, but don't bet on it.

As I said, I am convinced that at least some BN people will cross over to the PKR, but it's hard to believe that Anwar has enough to form a new Government. As far as comments from the many loyal Sabahan MPs—that they remain loyal to Pak Lah—don't pay too much attention to them. If indeed Anwar is confirmed to form the new Government, just watch how quickly all these MPs abandon ship. Some things just never change.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Raya Invitation

I was pleasantly surprised when I received a call from my sister, Audrey, on Saturday. Since her family moved to Lahad Datu over a year ago, I hardly had the opportunity to meet up with her. Occasionally, especially during the long school holidays or festive seasons, she'd come to KK for a few days. She'd then call me up for mahjong sessions. While playing mahjong, we'd catch up on stuffs.

Other then that, Audrey hardly ever call. I visited her in Lahad Datu a little over a year ago, but that was when her daughter, Onon (her real name's Erlina), was terminally ill. By the time we reached the hospital where she was warded, she was already in a coma; she died of brain cancer about a week later. She was only 21 years old then.

Anyway, as I said, I was pleasantly surprised to receive her call. She invited me to her house for the coming Hari Raya celebration. She said she had invited dad and the rest in the family too. Even Dennis and his wife, Nor Shidah, might be going too. I said I will let her know soon. Mia's spending the weekend in Genting with JJ. Well, actually she's going with some of her colleagues and their respective families. I told Audrey that I will discuss the matter with Mia when she returns from her trip.

This year the Hari Raya holidays will fall on the 1st and 2nd of October. And just this afternoon I signed a memo to be circulated in the office—we're closing on the 3rd which is a Friday. That way some of them can enjoy a longer holiday. It would be good to drive all the way to Lahad Datu; perhaps can even spend a night or two in Kundasang too. It's been a while since the last time I spent a holiday in the mountain.

This is not the first time Audrey had invited me for the Hari Raya celebration. Over the years she must have invited me perhaps 10 times or more, even long before she moved to Lahad Datu. But I never did accept her invitations.

I'm on very good terms with Audrey, and all of her children respect Uncle Cornelius very much. But I haven't been on talking terms with her husband for at least 17 to 18 years now. The last time I spoke to him was when Audrey was still pregnant with her son, Erwin. And Erwin had just finished form 5 last year.

I'm afraid this is gonna be another Raya invitation in vain. Maybe one of these days when I am 80 years old—that is if I can live anywhere close to that age—I will find it in my heart to forgive my brother-in-law. I very much doubt it though.

But don't get me wrong, I am not all stressed up due to this thing between my brother-in-law and I. In fact, I am quite happy not to have him as a friend. I am confident he feels the same way too. As for Audrey and I, well what can I say, we can still have our mahjong sessions whenever she's around.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Borneo Marathon—Conquering 21Km

Well, folks, a little less than a month to go for the Borneo International Marathon. First thing this morning I finally conquered 21 km for the first time in my life. And let me tell you that it was a struggle! I have no excuse this time—it was just a new benchmark for me. The last few kilometres were particularly exhausting. I just didn't have it in me to keep up the pace for that long.

I am therefore sad to say that I failed to run that 21 km in under 2 hours like I wanted to so very much. Close, but not quite there—2 hrs 8 mins 21 secs. With only about 4 weeks left for the training it seems quite impossible to shave off 8 mins, but I shall try my best to achieve it.

It's time to go back to the treadmill for the speed training again. Beginning from next week I will taper down up to the day of the event. I'll cut down the distance for the long runs by about 20% to 30% per week and probably settle at 12km to 15km. I will still do those runs at the jogging track.

As for the treadmill, I still have a lot of work to do. I'm gradually reducing the distances for those too, and perhaps add back another extra day for workout.

In the meantime, I was told by Shan that things have begun to move very fast on her end. We are Malaysians after all—we like to do things at the very last minute, you see. Hopefully many more runners have suddenly realised that the day of the event is very near now; and they will all come in droves to register for the Borneo International Marathon.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Profile Photo

A few days ago I finally made it a point to register online for the half marathon in the Standard Chartered Singapore International Marathon scheduled for 07 December.

It suddenly occured to me that I haven't been to Singapore for ages. In fact I haven't been travelling abroad for a while now. Then I thought of the passport requirement, and I couldn't remember if my passport was still valid. I reckoned that it must have expired by now.

So I walked to a nearby photoshop to take a passport-size photo of myself for the purpose of a new passport. It must have been years ago since the last time I took this kind of photo. They've gone digital now. Within minutes I had my photos printed out; and they no longer give the negatives like in the good old days. Instead they copied my photos into a CD.

Incidentally, I have also received a call from Mr Randy Chong, the incoming President of the Rotaract Club of Kota Kinabalu. They will be having their installation night on 04 October. I have written a short message for their souvenir magazine, and he requested me to provide him with my passport-size photo.

Then I remembered that I've been meaning to upload my photo into my profile in this blog, but somehow never actually took the trouble to do it—until now. It's been a year since I started this blog. Well, better late than never, I guess.

However, I happen to know that some people out there have too much time; they'd use that extra time to doctor people's photographs so that it would appear that they're doing things which they don't [The Star]. I hope no one would go through the trouble to meddle with my photo. Not that I am a politician, so I guess there is not much use to do that. But even if they did, at least have the decency to choose a beautiful and sexy woman for the model.

Oh by the way, my passport is still valid after all. It will expire in 2011. Well, at least I'm still making use of the photos I took.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wild Dogs

A bunch of dogs are sleeping peacefully. A naughty boy comes along and pours boiling hot water onto them. The dogs cry out in pain and then become wild. They react instinctively; they start to attack the people around them. Havoc ensues; everyone runs for cover...

What a mess!

We wouldn't want to find outselves in such a place, but if you are given the authority to impose a punishment, who would you punish, the dogs or the boy? [The Star]

IF I made a racist comment and that resulted in chaos in the country, should I be punished or should we punish those who reacted to my racist comment?

Monday, September 8, 2008


There have been numerous estimates of the number of foreigners living amongst us in Sabah. Some of them, presumably relatively few of them, are here legally. The vast majority of them have probably been here for ages—illegally. The estimates vary widely from several thousands (probably these numbers originated from Government officials) to several hundred thousand people.

Whatever the actual number is, I think it is quite safe to assume that many Sabahans are convinced that it's just a matter of time that these aliens will outnumber us citizens. Generally speaking they multiply in numbers at a much faster rate than Sabahans.

The Government had repeatedly pledged to rid Sabah of these aliens since decades ago, most notably prior to the general elections. But of course it would all come to nothing in the end. The eastern towns of Tawau, for example, is practically controlled by the Bugis. They actually have Malaysian ICs—they are "citizens". Just stop any mini-bus in the street and chances are it's a Bugin man who owns that bus. They control many other businesses too.

In KK, things haven't been that bad. We've had a 14-year old boy stabbed to death in broad daylight near the central market by 2 Filipinos because he refused to give them RM1. Many people saw what happened but were afraid to help. In another case, a woman was stabbed to death near SEDCO because the man wanted her handbag so much. Her young teenage daughter who tried to block those stabs to protect her mother got several fingers severed, but she survived. She went through many hours of surgery to reattach her fingers.

More recently, 2 officers from the KK City Hall were beaten up—again in broad daylight—by foreigners because they consficated smuggled cigarettes from a 21-year old woman [Daily Express].

This whole thing about the Government going all out to flush out these aliens is just a big joke. We have heard that story too many times in the past, and it's really getting boring to hear the same story again. When I think of my 6-year old JJ, I just can't imagine what kind of Sabah she will have when she gets to my age. It all seems so hopeless.

But on the other hand, sometimes the authority can become very, very "efficient" too. They carried out their job so well that they could put a Malaysian citizen into prison for almost a year because they mistakenly thought she's an illegal. She would have probably been in prison for a much longer time but for the coincidental opportunity of someone to alert a VIP about her [The Star].

She was finally rescued and now a free woman again. She said she wanted to put the nightmare behind and start afresh with her baby. I think what she should do is to find a lawyer, perhaps a pro bono case, to sue these people for the mistake. And yes, sue the Government too. She's not likely to win, of course (what d'you expect, this is Malaysia!), but at least there is a good chance that these people will be very, very careful the next time they do their job.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Borneo Marathon—Running On Empty Tank

Before I embarked on my marathon training almost 2 months ago, I did some thorough research on the internet. I read widely on marathon training. I sought practical advice from friends who I know are experienced runners. I researched on diet and other beneficial habits of the marathon runners. It all culminated in a training schedule which I have been keeping up up to now. But the one thing that I overlooked was the fact the I would fall sick during those weeks leading up to the marathon day.

On Tuesday, as I had planned, I ran 10 km on the treadmill. It was an hour's run and wasn't as punishing. I was supposed to run another 10 km to 12 km on Thursday before doing the long run—18 km or about 19 laps of the Likas jogging track—on Saturday. But by about 3 pm on Thursday afternoon, I began to feel a bit dizzy. And then later I felt nauseous. It all happened so suddenly and I was worried. I left the office shortly after 5 pm, and all the way home I was fighting to control from vomitting in the car. Upon reaching home, I couldn't hold any longer; I rushed to the toilet and I vomitted out everything I had for lunch that day. It was horrible; it was just bad timing. I had been looking forward to my run that evening.

After that I suddenly felt weak—extremely weak. I remained calm, had a quick warm shower, and then went to bed, intending to rest for a while. But I wasn't meant to run that evening. The moment I hit the bed, my whole body seemed to shut down. I went into a deep sleep. I heard Mia and JJ arrived home later. Very briefly, I told Mia what had happened. She brought me some panadols, but they didn't really help. Throughout the night I suffered some more; it was like hell.

Early the next morning, I called up my staff to inform her that I won't be coming in to work that day. Then I continued to sleep. I woke up again at around noon. I felt so tired, but a little stronger than the day before. Then I drove out to a nearby clinic to see a doctor. The diagnosis was quick: dehydration.

As a habit, I would normally have a cup of coffee at the office every morning. And of course coffee contains caffeine. Caffeine is within a group of substances known as diuretics. All diuretics increase the excretion of water from the body. Coffee has a very major effect on me—one cup can make me visit the toilet every 15 minutes for hours. Sometimes, during a busy day, it is just so easy to forget to replenish the body liquid by drinking sufficient water. Anyway, that is one lesson learnt the hard way.

The process of rehydration is not as simple as one might think. To start with, it is not just about gulping up gallons of water. Trust me, when you are feeling nauseous you are unable to drink big quantities of water anyway—at least not at one go. Dehydration can also cause loss of appetite. But again it's not easy to eat when you feel like throwing out all the time.

Well, I spent most of Friday in bed feeling very impatient. But I had to wait for my body to gradually rehydrate. By yesterday (Saturday), I was feeling much better, although I haven't regained my appetite to eat. Mia, JJ and I went to Lintas Plaza for my favourite fried mee hoon, but even that didn't help. Half a plate was all that I could force into my stomach. Later in the afternoon, I had some canned peaches. That was all I could eat for the whole of Saturday, although I kept drinking small amounts of plain water at regular intervals.

Then first thing this morning, when my alarm clock rang at 5 am, I forced myself out of bed to go for my long run. Little did I know that it was to be my most challenging run so far. I arrived at the jogging track shortly before 6 am. The weather was perfect. A little bit of warming up, stretching, and then I was off.

18 km is about 19 laps (each lap is 950m). I had planned to have 2 "pit-stops" in between for drinking, i.e. after the 6th and 12th laps. Let me tell you running on empty tank is different; you just don't have the energy. By the time I completed the 6th lap, I was already panting and sweating profusely. But I dragged on for the following 6 laps, and each lap decreasing in speed. By the time I completed my 12th lap, I was already seriously entertaining the idea of giving up. That few seconds I stood there drinking my 100PLUS, I considered what to do.

The long runs are one of the most important elements of marathon training. Unless it's a matter of life and death, I must complete it, even if I'm unable to run all the way. So I decided to brisk-walk for a bit. "A bit" eventually became one full lap. After that I thought I might as well push myself by running just one more lap. That became 2 laps; and three; and four...and I finally ran the remaining laps, thus completing the entire workout in 1hr 56m 5s. Not an impressive time if I want to keep up my dream of running the half marathon in under 2 hours.

Looking at the bright side, however, this morning was the first time, ever, I ran for almost 2 hours. It is just amazing that my body can keep going for that duration. I really don't know what to expect for the 22 laps next weekend. But even if I can't achieve it in under 2 hours, I guess I still have a few more weeks to work on my pace. All this hardwork better be worth it!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

November Challenge

Immediately after I concluded my KK Challenge 4 a couple of months ago, someone in the audience asked me the customary question: When is your next hunt? Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to find the time to organise hunts.

The long school holidays will start in early November. I am aware that some of my friends, including treasure hunter friends, usually make plans to go for holidays abroad. Hopefully, I am still in time to catch you people before you finalise your travelling plans. If it's possible, please try to keep the second half of November free.

Yesterday we have initiated serious discussions for a proposed treasure hunt, tentatively at the end of November. Right now I am not at the liberty to release any information; just that it seems very likely to materialise. No—this has nothing to do with the Sutera Harbour-Angkatan Hebat Hunt.

I have been invited to compose a hunt, and although I would have prefered to hunt instead of setting the hunt, I might just make this one an exception. Considering the financial background and reputation of the organiser, I have a feeling that the top prizes will be attractive enough for the big boys from the west to venture out to this land beneath the wind. Sabahan hunters should therefore be prepared for a stampede from the west! Most of you in KK probably have a very good idea who's the organiser. Who else could it be!

Don't worry, if indeed I end up clerking this hunt, I will try to be kind to you all. Those who've joined my hunts before will know that I do only pure hunts, i.e. no Amazing Race nonsense! Once I get the confirmation from the organiser, I shall make the official announcement here.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Professional Clerk-Of-Course (CoC)

Over the last week, we have had a very lively debate over at Mike's blog. The forum attracted in excess of 100 comments—easily a record for that blog—although not counting the old blog which was plagued by spams. A major portion of that debate centred on a mistake by the Clerk-of-Course (CoC), resulting in the wrong order of the top winners in the Media Category of that hunt. However, after several days, the matter was resolved with the CoC taking full responsibility for the mistake; and the affected teams duly rewarded for their respective victories.

While this episode is still fresh in our minds, I'd like to write my thoughts on this issue, i.e. the responsibility of the CoC, from the general point of view, and not specifically pointing to the NPC Hunt only.

Although I am not going to dwell on the twist of events in the NPC Hunt, it is necessary to understand the nature of the mistake in order to appreciate the eventual decision of the CoC. Briefly, the CoC, upon the closing of the end station embarked on marking the submissions of the teams. He then arrived at the overall results of the hunt. However, perhaps out of habit, he decided to make another round of checking. Unfortunately, before he could do that, some of the treasures were removed from the bags submitted by 2 teams. Of all the bags, those were the ones submitted by the top 2 winners of the Media Category. Consequently, upon the second check of the scores, the top two winners came up short on points, resulting in a fall in positions to 4th and 6th places respectively. The winners were announced and these affected teams later checked with the CoC on the missing points. Well, the mistake was discovered and as I said, after a few days' deliberation, the CoC decided to compensate the affected teams and rewarded them for their respective victories. It is noted that the CoC had to fork out the compensation from his own pocket.

The (mis)handling of the treasure bags before the final count of the scores was not a proceeding to be recommended; that was inviting trouble. But of course it is easy to give such comments from the sidelines. We all know that famous line—hindsight is always 20-20.

CoCs are not immune from making mistakes. It's not the first time that this kind of mistake has happened. In fact, a little over 2 years ago, Mike made an almost identical mistake too. He marked a wrong treasure submission as correct, and because of that the lucky team was announced the 2nd place winner, thus pushing the deserving 2nd place winner down to 3rd place. However, that lucky team comprising Ramesh, Kok Seng, Soo Khian and Shandra alerted Mike on the possible mistake. Upon re-checking the scores, Mike made the brave decision to announce his mistake and switched the 2nd-3rd positions. Interestingly, Mike used his own money to pay the RM500 difference in prize to the deserving 2nd place winner; yet allowing the now demoted team (from 2nd to 3rd) to keep the prize money they had already received.

As you can see, the mistake in the NPC Hunt was not the first time it has happened. And I am inclined to believe that sooner or later, a similar mistake will happen again. The question we should ask ourselves is:

Should CoCs be made responsible for such mistakes?

I think the answer should be yes. In fact, I think that responsibility should be emphasised and then incorporated into the term of engagement. That's what being professional is all about. Many CoCs, when lobbying for jobs to clerk hunts, have the tendency to undercut on their fees. They have no foresight of their responsibility in case anything should go wrong.

I think it is time that when CoCs quote their fees to potential clients, they should reflect on their heavy responsibility. The nature of that responsibility should be clearly explained to the potential clients. Mistakes might not happen all the time (unless if that CoC is a total idiot), but once it happens, it's gonna be painful.

It has been suggested that some kind of bailout measures be initiated where hats are passed around, and everyone is encouraged to contribute RM5 to help out the CoC. The idea seems to receive positive responses from 2 hunters, but I doubt that it is a very popular idea.

If I made a mistake in my work for which I charge a "professional" fee, and as a result of that mistake my client suffered losses, I doubt that anyone will start a bailout plan for me. The tort of negligence is much more complicated than that, of course. But the basic principle is the same. The CoC owes the duty of care to his clients, and in the event of his clients suffering losses due to his mistake, he must shoulder the consequences. After all, the hunters pay good money to hunt. Although the idea of "having fun" is the one that usually sells, at the end of the day the satisfaction of winning the prizes still counts. I am not talking about the amount, mind! Even winning RM500 might mean a lot to many people.

Borneo Marathon—Surviving Sixth Week

The 6th week of training is the last week of August. After this, I have roughly 5/6 weeks to go before the Borneo International Marathon on 12 October. Although my training is progressing well, I haven't actually achieved 21 km in a single run up to now. If all goes well, I should be getting there in 2 weeks' time.

I have made a slight change in my training programme. Instead of running 4 days in a week, I have, beginning from this week, reduced it to 3 times a week. The reason I did that was because so that I can work on my mileage. If I were to slot in another running day, I wouldn't have enough time to recover for the longer runs. So with only 3 runs per week, I will cover at least 10 km per run. Apart from the slight change, this 6th week was also special to me because it was the first time I did my long run at the jogging track instead of on the treadmill. The last longest outdoor run I've done was only about 10km.

Before going for my long weekend run, I received an advice from an experienced runner. Amongst other, he told me that protruding nipples may be subject to chafing during long runs. That was the second time he told me that. The first time he told me, I found that somewhat amusing and did not really heed his advice. I mean, how could something that small and insignificant be injured? That was until I had a terrible blister on my left nipple! And having blisters on the nipples is not very funny you know. So this time, armed with my newfound knowledge—learned the hard way—I had both nipples plastered before the run!

I had intended all along to do the long run during the marathon clinic on Saturday afternoon. But of course the weather hardly ever agree with outdoor plans in the afternoon. Unfortunately, YFitness was also closed over the holidays, so I was unable to fall back on the treadmill.

I did not want to miss on my long run (long runs are very important elements of marathon training), so I had no choice but to wake up at 5 am yesterday (Sunday) and make that run at the jogging track. Just for the record, I am not really a morning guy. It's the first time I woke up that early for the purpose of running. But, you know, when I do something I'd like to do it well. Otherwise I'd rather not do it at all.

When I left the house, Mia and JJ were still sleeping. Just before I left the house, I whispered to Mia that I'd be home at around 8 am. She mumbled something to me, but I couldn't really understand her. I went closer to her and was able to hear; she said, "Try not to get raped." I told her not to worry, we're very far from Permatang Pauh.

I was surprised to see quite a number of people at the jogging track. It was still quite dark when I started running at around 6 am. A bit of stretching, warming up and setting my stopwatch. The air was cold; the weather was perfect. I started running...

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The cold morning helped to delay the onset of my body's "overheating". I ran at a slow easy pace for the first 5 km. By then there was already daylight. Suddenly I realised that Dr Liaw was also running. When we were running side-by-side, he said he's running the full marathon for the first time, and I was a bit shy to say that I was only training for the half marathon. He's quite a strong runner; oh how nice to be young!

After running 6 km, I stopped for a few gulps of 100Plus. And then quickly continued with the run. Then another stop after the 12th km. I felt strong and picked up the pace for the remaining 3 km to finish 15 km within 1 hour 27 minutes 20 seconds. Now I only need to figure out how to maintain that average pace for the remaining 6 km to complete the 21 km run.

Compared to the last time I did 15 km on the treadmill, I took about 12 minutes faster to run that distance this time. But I think the improved time was mainly due to the extra one day rest I had for this latest run.

Another new week ahead with a scheduled 18 km run on Saturday followed by that dreadful 21 km the following week. By now I am confident that I will certainly be able to finish that distance. The only question now is the speed at which I can complete it. My realistic goal is 2 hours 15 minutes; but my ambitious goal is under 2 hours. I hope I can report better achievements in the following weeks. But on the other hand, right now the time achieved during the training is for rough guide only. Before the actual marathon I should have rested my legs sufficiently.

In the mean time, I have also signed up for the Penang Bridge International Marathon scheduled for 16 November 2008. That will be an even bigger challenge since the distance is about 25 km. Furthermore I was told that there will be a gradual slope at the start of the bridge. I am also entertaining the idea of running the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (7 December 2008), of which Mia will be joining me for the half marathon; and the Great Eastern—Pacesetters 30 km (18 January 2009). My friend who introduced me to these runs has a nice way of putting it—they give the opportunities to go for short holidays in interesting places!