Thursday, May 28, 2009

Emotional Violence

Calling your wife ugly to humiliate her may soon be considered an offence under proposed amendments to the Domestic Violence Act 1994. [The Star]

I wonder if there is any provision in that Act to protect men when their wives call them ugly to humiliate them.

A couple of weeks ago, it was reported that husbands get physically abused too. Many years ago when I just got married, I got my share of "physical abuse" from Mia. For reasons which I can't really remember now, the earlier years were quite rough for us. And whenever Mia got angry she had the lousy habit of hitting me. I don't know if that had anything to do with the few years of Tae Kwon Do before she married me. To be very honest, when she punched me on my upper arm repeatedly, it wasn't that painful at all, especially since I did quite a lot of weights at the gym back then. So I'd let her continue doing her thing.

But after a while, when it happened too frequently, I began to dislike that lousy habit of hers. As she kept doing it, I became increasingly sick of it. At times, I was just at the verge of striking back.

Then one day, after one of those "physical abuse" sessions from Mia, I let her cool down and then we had a serious talk together. I told her to please do something about her lousy habit. It's not so much that I couldn't take the physical pain; rather, I couldn't say how much longer I could have the patience with her. I told her that one of these days, I might just lose it all—that I might strike back. And if that should happen, she'd most probably end up in the hospital. After that, Mia has been able to control herself up to now—there's never been another episode of the "physical abuse" thing from her. I didn't think that I had it in me to actually hit her back, but y'know, anger can make you do things you wouldn't dream of ever doing.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that we always have laws meant to protect women from physical abuse. And now it's gonna be extended to "emotional violence" too. It is easily forgotten that some women are also violent in nature. Laws should be enacted for the benefits of both genders; not only women.

Mia has never called me ugly so far, and if ever she did, I'd probably laugh out loud. But I can imagine some men may be more sensitive to the word "ugly", and the proposed law should also protect them.

But frankly, I foresee an uphill task to enforce the proposed law. What if a husband tells his wife that she's ugly not because he means to humiliate her, but merely because he's telling her the truth? But she feels humiliated anyway? Is that grounds for a legal action?

And who dares to enforce the law on people with power; say the Prime Minister of Malaysia? Imagine that the Prime Minister suddenly decides to have an honest conversation with his wife:

'Yang, you are still as beautiful as at the time when I married you all those years ago. But is it entirely necessary that your hair is that huge?

Or something like that. It's a very honest comment, and with no intention to humiliate. Yet what if the wife interprets that as a humiliation? Police report will be lodged (lodging police reports is a favourite pastime in Malaysia) and then no one will dare to do anything about it.

I think it's a good idea to enact a statute to protect people from physical and emotional abuses, but the benefits of that law should be for both genders; and there is only meaning to that statute if it is enforceable.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mothers & Mothers-In-Law

Data in the Malaysia Community and Family Study 2004 has confirmed that mothers-in-law are the chief cause of divorces in Malaysia, especially in the Indian community. [The Star]

I don't know about you, but this is not exactly news to me. Women, being who they are, have that tendency to control others—especially those who they know they can control. Many men have that tendency too, but they tend to do it for different reasons.

My mom has migrated to Canada for a good 30 years now. Yet her mentality has not changed one bit. Up till now, I can still see how she tries to organize the lives of my siblings, even by remote control. I am the only one in my family who's immune from her many attempts to run my life. Some years ago, when I purchased an insurance policy and put Mia's name as the sole beneficiary, mom told me to share 50% of the insured sum with my sister, Bridget. I gave her a simple and short answer—"Never!"

At numerous times mom tried to bypass me and went directly to Mia to "suggest" some ideas. But I would have none of it. Don't ever try to run our lives. When and if we need her advice on anything, we will ask for it. Otherwise, we will work out our problems on our own, thank you.

Now, on the other hand, Mia's mom has been trying to brainwash me for many years to no avail. But just because I was trying to please her, I did go to church and actually read quite a bit of the Bible too. My mother-in-law is a religious Filipina and she goes to church every week without fail. Mia and JJ go to church too, though sometimes they'd miss a mass or two.

I can still remember the time when I just married Mia; that was such a long time ago. I was pursuing my Estate Management degree, whereas Mia was pursuing her Law degree. We planned to delay having kids. So we went to the doctor to seek his advice on available options for birth-control. We read up on the subject, of course, but we reckoned that there's no harm to seek the doctor's advice. On the doctor's recommendation, we chose the pill. But when Mia's mom heard about it, she tried to play doctor and "suggested" that the best approach was the "withdrawal method". Luckily she did not proceed to demonstrate that method to us.

I think a lot of the times it is just impossible to change the mindset of mothers and mothers-in-law. They will always be mothers and mothers-in-law, and they always know what's best for us all. But my formula has always been very straightforward—I just won't allow any room for them to start controlling us. Once you start allowing your mother to "organize" your household, you will almost always end up having to choose between your own mother and your spouse. And unfortunately in this part of the world, quite a fair number of us would choose our mothers against our spouses.

From the very beginning I made myself very clear to my mom—don't ever make me choose between her and my wife, because in all likelihood I will choose my wife over her. After all, although I don't believe in the Christian God, I did make that solemn promise—and I meant it whole-heartedly—"till death do us part"; unless of course if my wife is the one who breaks her promise.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Schizophrenia—Mental Disorder

Yesterday, during our weekly Rotarian meeting, we had the pleasure of welcoming a speaker—Dr Vic Marimuttu. He happens to be the son of a fellow Rotarian, Jeyan Marimuttu who was given the honour to introduce his son to us. Dr Vic resides in the UK but currently on a holiday to Sabah. He's an expert in the field of psychiatry.

He gave a short talk on the topic of schizophrenia. Actually, Rtn Paul Thien texted us all on the topic for this week. When I received his text, I somehow had the impression that it's gonna be a boring subject. But Dr Vic had a flair in delivering a dry subject in such an interesting way.

I'd like to share with my readers a bit about schizophrenia. One can of course google up the information and I'm sure there are many, many articles on the subject found on the net. But it's strange that very few of us actually read about these things.

Most of us have the tendency to take things for granted, but according to Dr Vic, approximately 1 in every 100 people will eventually get this mental condition. Rtn Philip Koh turned to me and said that that's such a scary statistic. Any one of us can be the one in the hundred.

Dr Vic cited the movie A Beautiful Mind which's based on a true story. A brilliant mathematician who developed this mental condition. People with schizophrenia tend to see and/or hear things which are not real; yet they are very real to them. And what's even scarier is that there is no cure, although medications are available.

Contrary to popular belief, the onset of schizophrenia does not happen overnight. It is a gradual process. Statistically speaking, it usually starts at the age of 16-17 years old. The child starts to isolate himself; he begins to talk less and refrains from socializing. Over a longer duration, he starts being suspicious about the goings on around him. He'd be conscious of people frowning at him in the street. After a while, he comes up with ideas about other people. These ideas develop... and so on and so forth.

Think about it—1 in every 100 of us is at risk of getting this mental condition. It makes me feel so very lucky that I am still sane today. I've long passed the age of 16 and I hope to escape this mental condition over the remaining years of my life.

On a lighter note, when concluding his talk, Dr Vic said that to a certain extent, every one of us is eccentric; all of us are strange in our own ways. And I immediately thought of people like Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Weird, weird people, if you know what I mean. But of course it'd be nice if I can get their wealth minus the eccentricity.

26th Kiwanis Treasure Hunt (Trailer)

Jedi Master Yoda (Tresure Hunt Version)

"I AM the force!"

The Kiwanis Treasure Hunt is back again on 30th/31th May, starting from KBU College Bandar Utama, all the way south to Pulai Springs Resort, Johor. As usual, most of the Jedi Knights will be there to fight for glory. Many, many Padawans will be present too.

In the previous years, Yoda, the Jedi Master, was the one who set up the battle arena—last year he conjured up the terrifying riddle and mind-boggling bird-hunting quest which absolutely whitewashed the entire field. But this year, Jedi Master Yoda himself will be the terrifying one, as he himself will be there in the field to fight for glory!

I was there last year, riding with Jedi Knight Teck Koon and some fellow Padawans. Because of the strong field, Teck Koon seeded our team outside the top 20. But many Jedi teams crashed and burnt along the way—some probably died standing when dealing with the terrifying beings; others got lost in the jungle in pursuit of the elusive bird; others still became blind, watching too many moons and stars. Thus my team made a surprise leap to the 14th position.

This year I will be there again—this time riding with 3 strong Jedi Knights to be reckoned with, but all of whom have never gotten the better of the Kiwanis. Who knows, maybe it can happen this year?

It won’t be smooth sailing though. Apart from Jedi Master Yoda, there will be the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Sidious Dom and Count Dooku Lim, whom together had overwhelmed all the Jedi teams in the last two battles.

Master Yoda would say, “Still a lot to learn you have my old Padawan!”

Who will win the battle this time round? Will Yoda be able to stop the force from the dark side? Will the Order of the Jedi be restored once again? Be prepared for the Empire to strike back! All shall be known by the end of this week.

And so, let the fight begin… May the force be with you all!

KK Jazz Festival 2009

The Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival 2009, organised by Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu, will be held on 19-20 June. Performances are by those named in the above picture, but I'm afraid I don't know any of these people!

Tickets are selling at RM50 and RM100 each for 2 nights. If any of you are keen to attend, please let me know soon and I will secure the tickets for you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Palliative Care Association Kota Kinabalu Treasure Hunt

A couple of weeks ago, I put up the announcement of the fund-raising Treasure Hunt organised by the Palliative Care Association of Kota Kinabalu on the sidebar of this blog. Today, I received an email from Ellen Yee who sits in the committee. She requested me to help the association to promote this hunt. And so I am making the proper announcement here now.

The theme for this hunt is:

"Reaching Out to Paediatric Care"

Many of you have obtained the entry forms which were distributed after the recent Tambak Series 1 organised by Kena Tembak. However, there were teams which were unable to make that hunt, and therefore did not get a copy of the entry form. Unfortunately, this blogger is just too hopeless with the internet thing and am therefore at a loss on how to upload the entry form onto this blog. If you are keen to join, please write to me at:

I shall be pleased to send you a softcopy version of the entry form as an attachment file via email. In the mean time, I will also begin to send out emails and probably even text messages to teams I know of, just to remind some of you busy (and forgetful) people.

Most of the information on this hunt will be available on the entry form itself, but I am giving the basic ones here to whet your appetite:

Date of Hunt: 26 July 2009

Briefing: 25 July 2009 @ 2pm @ Grand Ballroom, Sutera Megellan Hotel

Entry Fee: RM350 per team

Closing Date for Entry: 18 July 2009 @ 3pm


1) Dr Joseph Ninan (088-761472)
2) Ellen Yee (088-231505/257507, 013-8109963)
3) Angela Enggoh (088-231505/257507)

If for whatever reason you are unable to contact the above persons, you may also write to me and I shall try to help you out promptly.


A friend, Michael Pang, is kind enough to help me with "hosting the entry form" for this hunt (one of these days I will learn all these stuff). It is now possible to download the ENTRY FORM from here. I have also created the Entry Form link at the announcement on my sidebar. Thanks Mike.

It is also possible to download the Entry Form from the sidebar of A Hunter's Tale. Thanks Hunters "R" Us.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Perpetual Pursuit Of Rising Cost

During the first week of school in January this year, the parents of primary 1 kids were invited to an orientation day at St James, Likas. The purpose of the event—apart from getting to know the principal and teachers—was to provide as much information as possible to the parents about the rules and regulations of the school, the education system, and any other issues relating to St James.

After the lengthy briefing by the school representatives, there was a short Q&A session. Parents and guardians who attended the session raised some interesting questions. An elderly man who attended the orientation on behalf of his son (his grandson's in primary 1) raised the topic of fund-raising. He pointed out that St James had started the so-called fund-raising programme many years ago for the purpose of building a new block of classrooms; but his son had all grown up now and even has a son of his own; yet there's still no new block of classrooms. He asked what has happened to all those money supposedly raised throughout all these years.

Those of you who send your kids to the Chinese schools such as St James would know that these schools are forever trying to raise funds to meet escalating operational cost, let alone constructing new school buildings.

As an activity of the KK Rotary Club, we made a recent visit to SM St Francis Convent, and I was given to understand that they, too, have been trying to raise funds to build their new school. I suspect most, if not all, of the schools in the country have similar problems too.

Most schools would have annual bazaars which are normally held on a weekend. The bazaars are just one of several means of raising funds. Foods and drinks, and sometimes games and other knick-knack are sold at very expensive prices. Whatever profits they make from these bazaars will all go to the school coffers.

Another popular means of raising money is to send out "donation cards" to the public through the kids themselves. A typical "donation card" usually consists of a short message, pleading for donations; followed by a table comprising between 20 to 30 rows. Donors are then supposed to fill up their names within the rows, together with the amount donated, and their respective signatures. This donation card thing has been around for as long as I can remember—since the days when I myself was still in school.

Well, my JJ brought home one such "donation card" recently. Now I happen to know that a lot of people would bring along these donation cards to their workplaces to pass around amongst their colleagues. Beyond that they'd also pass around to their family members and relatives. At times, it is possible to see a few of those cards going around in the office at any one time, because several of the staff have kids from different schools. The typical attitude of the colleagues is that of reluctance to give. But sometimes, on grounds of "giving face", they'd give RM1 each, if only to fill up the space in the donation cards.

Knowing the general attitude of those in the office, I refrained from passing JJ's donation card to my staff. I did not want to put them in an awkward situation of having to please their boss by filling up his kid's donation card. To be fair, however, some of them are generous people; but, y'know, how can I tell for sure, right? So to save all the trouble, Mia and I decided to keep things simple—each of us donated RM50. Out of 20 to 30 rows in the card, we only filled up 2—one each for our names.

I thought RM100 collected for a donation card was just too little. But when Mia sent the card back to the class teacher one morning, she noticed that the teacher was laboriously counting the coins from the donations brought in by the other kids. Beyond the coins, there were plenty of RM1 notes too.

It's very strange that people are generally reluctant when it comes to giving donations. I'm not talking about very big amounts here. I'm sure many, many people can afford to donate at least RM5 to RM10 each every now and then for a good cause. Yet very, very few of them actually give anywhere close to that amount. And when they do give, it's always with reluctance.

With a handful of RM1 notes and coins, it's not likely that the school will be able to catch up with the rapidly rising cost of construction. It did not happen in the last generation, and I doubt that it's gonna happen within this generation either; unless of course, if by a stroke of miracle, the people can suddenly change their mindset and become more generous to donate for the good of their children and the next generation.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fresh Election

"The Barisan Nasional does not fear fresh elections in Perak and will face the rakyat (people) when the time comes."

—Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak [The Star]

But of course if it's possible, BN would like very much to avoid a fresh election. Never mind what the people feel about the situation. If BN can hold on to power in Perak, then they will have about 3 years to win over the people before the next general election. That is much better than risking a fresh election.

Now a fair number of Malaysians are convinced that if a fresh election is held in Perak, the Pakatan Rakyat has a very good chance to win. Therefore, they feel cheated if BN is somehow able to hold on to power by means of the legal process instead of going through a fresh election. There are so many blogs lamenting on the injustice in Perak. So many parties are calling for a fresh election in Perak—"let the people decide," they say.

Well, I am inclined to agree that the best way to know what the Perakians really want is to hold a fresh election. But I just wonder if the situation is reversed in Perak, whether Malaysians would still feel the same way about the fresh election?

Imagine for a moment that BN won the last general election in Perak with a very slim majority. And it is Pakatan that is now able to lure some MPs over so they're able to shift the majority to their side. They then form a new government in Perak without a fresh election. Will we be happier then?

I'm raising the above question because some months ago the Pakatan Rakyat claimed that they had enough MPs wanting to jump over, and they would have had enough to form a new government. The great Anwar Ibrahim did not mention anything about a fresh general election in his take-over bid. And no one raised that possibility too. It did not happen of course, but what if it did? Would we have insisted on a fresh election so that we can be "democratic"?

I suspect many Malaysians might think differently if the situation is reversed. How come?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


The events in Perak over the last few months—and especially the last few days—bring back some memories of what happened here in Sabah some years ago. Of course Sabahans experienced something a bit more serious than what Perak is going through now. We had home-made bombs exploding in several places in the then Kota Kinabalu town. And a state of emergency was declared and curfews were imposed.

I can still remember the time when I visited my friend in Tambunan during that crisis. I rode my bike there. When I reached the village, several young men ganged up on me. They thought this outsider came to do something bad to their church. By the way, Tambunan was, and still is mainly Christian, you see.

Politicians will always be politicians. Power is very addictive—once you have it, it's not easy to give it all up.

So now we have more or less come to another stalemate in Perak. There will probably be appeals upon appeals coming from both sides in the months to come.

Looking at the situation from Zambry's camp, it is too late now to withdraw from the fight. There is no option to go back to the people of Perak. Based on what's happened in Sabah years ago, if a fresh election is held now, the likelihood is that PR might win with a bigger majority. Even some of those who voted for BN last year might vote for the PR this time round. The case of the sympathy votes can be very surprising. Looking at how the BN bulldozed their way in to Perak, one way or another, a fair number of the voters will feel pity for the PR. BN, I'm sure, understands the repercussions of their actions this last few months. That's why the option of appealing to the people of Perak is no longer available to BN. The only way to cling on to power is by means of appealing to the courts instead. At least they have a better shot there.

Interestingly, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the people’s interest should come first in whatever decision made about Perak and urged all parties involved to find a quick solution. [The Star]

I wonder what the DPM meant by "people's interest should come first." From this lay person's point of view, it doesn't appear like the actions of BN are consistent with "people's interest should come first." By appealing to a higher court, it seems that instead of "find a quick solution", it's likelier that that's gonna slow things down substantially.

On the other hand, looking at the situation from Nizar's point of view, he is also making an appeal. But he's making his appeal to the people of Perak. Well, at least he's trying very hard to. And if a fresh state-wide election could be held, that, I think, would be the quickest and most convincing way to determine what the people of Perak really want.

But as I said earlier, it's too late now for BN to risk a fesh election. That option is no longer available to them. They can try anything in the books but a fresh election.

Clinging on to power with a razor-thin majority is no good for both the government and the opposition. The elected representatives will have very strong bargaining powers, because if they decide to defect to the opposing side, that can cause a massive impact to both parties. The majority that BN claims to have right now is a very delicate one at best. The "mandate" that they claim to have from the people is almost non-existence. They teeter at the edge of a cliff and a small mistake can cause a most painful fall.

A lot of questions hanging in the air. What has happened, for example, to those elected representatives who were accused of corruption? If they're found guilty, that can be disastrous to BN.

While all these politicians—from BN and PR—try their best to cling on to power, the people of Perak will surely suffer. For their sake, I hope all these comedies between BN and PR will end soon; so that for once someone could actually serve the people, rather than screwing them all over and over again.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tembak Series 1—Elegance

I meant that last post to be the last comment for Tembak Series 1. However, I have mentioned that I'd be happier if there's more "elegance" in some of the questions. Lacking elegance doesn't really affect the accuracy of the questions/answers in most cases, but sometimes they do! Moreover, some of you have written to me to seek further comments on the subject of "elegance".

In my opinion, a good cryptic clue is one which, apart from having the cryptic elements, must also have a meaningful surface reading. The "storyline" of the clue may have nothing to do with the true intention of the setter.

Consider the following question from Tembak Series 1 (TS1):



One is made to wonder if there is such a thing as a "long heart". By means of the anagram indicator, SHAKE, the other SHAKE is reconfigured into EAKSH. LONG is converted into one of its synonyms, PINE. Then EAKSH is inserted in PINE to become PEAK SHINE. You will notice that HEART is unnecessary. The word "IN" is quite good enough to do the job in instructing the solver to insert EAKSH into PINE. However, for the purpose of the surface reading, HEART is added. The HEART in this clue is supposed to tell the solver to put the EAKSH into the "heart" if PINE, but it is not entirely necessary.

If it's possible, I'd like to make every word in my clues count. But sometimes, I, too, include words which are not really necessary except for the purpose of smooth surface reading. Check out the following examples from my KK Challenge 4:

Q) Name of business which does not fully exist.

A) Restoran Wu Ju

In this case, the words found in the clue are not to be taken independently. Rather, they're treated together as a whole. They're necessary to be there because otherwise the sentence would look awkward.

And another one from the same hunt:

Q) An eatery which is only half normal.

A) Kafeteria NOR

And another (Angkatan Hebat-Sutera Harbour Hunt):

Q) National flag without stripes?

A) Gemilang Enterprise

In each case, I tried to make some sort of meaningful story out of the clues while at the same time remaining true to the cryptic principles.

Now check out the following from TS1:



One will wonder if there is a meaning when looking at QC4 literally. The sentence gives a dubious storyline. However, for the purpose of the intended solution, the clue is impeccable.




I have not checked if there is a special meaning to "WHITEHEAD" in my dictionary. If there is a meaning to that word, maybe it's some kind of nickname for an animal; say, a fish or bird? So there you are, eating together with a bird. However, again for the purpose of the intended solution, the clue is impeccable.

Now we explore a little further on how things can become a bit more complicated. The following is also from TS1:



Now let's see if we can understand the intention of the CoC. We can analyse the clue like this:


WITHIN = container indicator

DISARRAY = anagram indicator


ELA within MAN IN anagram => MELANIAN

The first thing we ask ourselves is the logic of "3ft within man". Just the sound of that is somewhat ugly. Secondly, I think the "WITHIN" is quite unnecessary in this clue, for it does not help in improving the surface reading of the clue; as well as in the cryptic puzzle. The anagram operation is quite enough to support all the fodders for the transformation into MELANIAN.

Maybe, it's possible to improve both the surface reading as well as the cryptic puzzle like this:


In this case, "DISARRAY" is still the anagram indicator; and "WITH" tells the solver to combine "MAN" with "THREE FEET (ELA), IN". And the whole thing, when reconfigured, can yield MELANIAN. Thus still arriving at the same destination. But while it's a bit bizarre to picture a man having three feet, it is at least more meaningful when compared to "3 feet within man".

I guess the question of "elegance" in treasure hunt clues is a matter of personal taste. I know some CoCs are not concerned with surface reading whatsoever, as long as they're accurate in the cryptic sense. But the CoCs I admire are those who can conjure up clues with meaningful surface readings, as well as deceiving storylines.

I want to mention here that, on the whole, Kena Tembak produced clues of decent standard in the Tembak Series 1, and I saw some clever ideas too. I am glad that they've made the effort to organise the hunt; and I'm looking forward to their next project: The Palliative Care Charity Hunt on 26 July. I hope they will continue organising hunts in the years ahead; and I'll be even happier if I can win all of them! (Smile)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tembak Series 1—I'm Lovin' It

It’s funny how things can work out perfectly well without you planning for them to happen.

I’ve been to KL several times for treasure hunts, and I’d always find myself lingering around the KL Sentral Station waiting for my bus to the airport. Whenever I’m on the run, I always end up eating fastfood. In KL Sentral Station, there is a McDonalds outlet. Even if I’m not eating there, I’d always buy a milkshake or ice cream while I walk around to kill the time.

It was during one of those occasions when I was queuing up for a milkshake when I noticed that McD sells bottled mineral water too. Most people, when eating at fastfood outlets would order the wide variety of carbonated drinks, but hardly ever plain water.

Later on, while shopping for groceries at the Giant Supermarket in KK, I noticed the same type of mineral water again—Aquarius. Everything about the product is the same, i.e. the size, the shape of the bottle, the company producing it (Coca Cola); but for one exception—the one sold at McD has the tagline “I’m lovin’ it”.

And immediately an outrageous idea came to my mind! Upon reaching home, I recorded the Aquarius into my “treasure archive”. It’s just waiting to be unleashed in one of my future hunts…

Then during the Tembak Series 1 last Saturday, I was pleasantly surprised to see the following treasure clue:


Without so much as thinking out the clue, I told my team mates on the spot:

“OK, this particular treasure is the mineral water available at McDonalds. The name is Aquarius. You should be able to see the words “Coca Cola” and the tagline “I’m lovin’ it” printed on the bottle.”

There was a pause and Dennis looked at me doubtfully. He tried to argue with a lame “But Coca Cola produces mineral water kah?”

It’s quite a coincidence that the CoC thought of this same trick. A number of the regular teams did not realise the significance of “I’m lovin’ it” in the clue, just as I had expected. Carelessness can happen even in the strong teams. When Alvin revealed the treasure, there was a chorus of a long-drawn groan from the crowd. Most of them submitted the Aquarius without the “I’m lovin’ it”.

So good to have a specific knowledge of this product and where to get it. But on the other hand, I now have one less treasure clue in my archive.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tembak Series 1—Return Of The Terrifying Question

Whenever I set a hunt, I would try to give a good mix of easy and tough questions to cater for the wide range of hunters' skills and abilities. If possible, I'd like to allow the weak teams to achieve at least 40% to 50% of the score; while at the same time disallow the top teams to achieve the perfect score.

Dealing with the weak teams is much easier—I can play with the questions at will and the performances of the weak teams are very predictable. The same, however, can't be said of the top teams. They have seen most, if not all, of the tricks in the book, and no matter how you turn and twist your riddles, they're bound to find their ways to the solutions. For this reason, being a CoC, the challenge is to set something which the top hunters can't solve somehow, but at the same time giving them sufficient opportunities to actually solve those questions. In a way, the thrill is to bring them very close to the answers, yet not allowing them to actually see the solutions!

These are the type of questions which I have described as “reserved for the CoC”, meaning that it’s very far-fetched to expect the hunters to be able to solve them. Nonetheless, in spite of the “reserved for the CoC” I’m always guided by the principle of fairness—there is no point to set a question which is impossible to solve. What I really want is to allow the prudent hunter who analyses my question methodically and systematically, and with a bit of patience and lateral thinking, he has a good shot of arriving at the answer.

I have written about the “terrifying question” of last year’s Kiwanis Hunt, of which I considered unfair, though perhaps some teams might have solved that question anyway. In the Tembak Series 1, we had another terrifying question, of which Dr Liaw objected to when the answer was revealed. No one solved that question. It’s like this:


The answer for the above question was to be found within the City Mall sector. In the case of my team, it meant during the dying minutes of the hunt, and under the scorching sun. And upon reading the question, I immediately saw the “terrifying question” of the Kiwanis in my mind. I saw the question for what it was—a mere equation comprising variables with no known value.

Looking at the question, one can quickly figure out the intention of the CoC. He wants the synonym of “PUT ON” which is to come first, i.e. before something which is found on the board (the answer); and when those two elements are combined together, we can get the synonym of “READY”.

Thus the equation which we can construct from the question is like this:

[Synonym of PUT ON] + [the ANSWER (found within sector)] => [Synonym of READY]

All 3 elements of the equation have no known value. In mathematical sense, it is something like trying to solve the equation:

X + Y = Z

In other words, what’s really required from the hunter is for him to stretch his mind to guess at least one of the unknown elements above, and then start on trial and error therefrom to solve the equation somehow. Flipping through a good Thesaurus, one is able to find quite a lot of words which can fit “PUT ON”, for example. Perhaps the word “WEAR” might come to mind. And if you looked up for “WEAR” in the Thesaurus, you can find quite a daunting amount of possible synonyms.

This, however, should not be surprising, because the trend of “searching for a needle in a haystack” is quite commonly seen in most hunts these days.

Anyway, if one had plenty of time to do the trial-and-error thing, he might be able to decide—for certain—on the word “DON” for “PUT ON”. He then comes up with the following equation:

DON + [ANSWER] = [Synonym of READY]

And then flipping through the Thesaurus again, he is able to find "DONE", which is a synonym of the word “READY”. Therefore, he is able to simplify the equation further to become:


And so, he is able to find the required answer:

A) E @ column of building

But of course, when looking at the solution from the direction of answer -> question, the whole thing appears to be very easy and solvable. Nevertheless it absolutely whitewashed the entire field in the Tembak Series 1. If I had only found "DON" during those dying minutes, I might have been able to solve this question. But, y'know, I'm just not such a lucky person.

Interestingly, when Dr Liaw objected, the CoC had a foolproof response which was not to be gainsaid:

Just consider like every team had 39 questions today—and not 40 questions.

I must remember that line; I could use it one of these days. (Smile)

Tembak Series 1—Fighting For A Candy

In the Plaza Grand Millennium, while my skin was burning in the extremely hot and humid condition, under serious time pressure, and mentally resigned to the reality that my team was gonna lose big time to the other teams, I failed to solve some annoyingly easy questions.

However, a couple of those questions, though not very tough, were tricky enough to catch the regular hunters. Consider the question below, which I'd like to think that I'm be able to solve in any ordinary day, but which I failed to solve under the circumstances mentioned above:



The CoC explained the solution like this:

The word SOUNDS in the question is a homophone indicator. It means that the word we're looking for sounds like another word with a different meaning and different spelling.

The "&" found in the intended answer is first converted to "AND", of which we would then yield "K AND Y" from the original "K & Y".

KANDY, when read like that, sounds like CANDY which is a synonym of SWEET.

At this point, however, a regular hunter, Richard Tsen, interrupted the CoC to challenge his solution. He pointed out that when looking at that signboard, the way it is read is K-AND-Y, i.e. a 3-syllable word. Anyone looking at that signboard would not read it as KAN-DY, i.e. a 2-syllable word. Therefore, if that intended answer is not read as KAN-DY, then it follows that it's not possible for that answer to sound like CANDY. And if it doesn't sound like CANDY, why, then it does not satisfy the requirement of sounds like. That being the case, "K & Y" is not an acceptable answer to the question!

Everyone in the audience perked up to this little debate between Richard and Alvin. And then Richard turned an appealing face to me. I made up my mind about this particular question—and the arguments for and against the solution—there and then, but I did not think it was appropriate for me to take up the role of an arbitrator for the dispute. I didn't think it's amusing that everyone should think that I'm some sort of authority in treasure hunts, because of course I am simply not!

As everyone knows, the CoC has always been, and will always be, the sole decision maker whenever there is any dispute in his hunt. I'm not saying that the CoC is always right; merely that he always has the final say. I said to Richard that I understood his point of argument, but did not elaborate whether I supported him or Alvin. And then that was that; thus Richard was silenced, the audience turned attentive faces to Alvin once again, and the presentation continued.

In my opinion, Richard had a very strong point. Looking at the signboard as it was, an average person in the street would read it as a 3-syllable word, i.e. K-AND-Y, and not as a 2-syllable word, i.e. KAN-DY. When viewed rigidly from this angle, it is very easy to agree with Richard.

That said, however, in this particular case, my decision would without any doubt be in favour of the CoC, even though I myself have failed to answer this question!

There are 2 points I'd like to raise to support the CoC's case. Firstly, the character of treasure hunt questions has been cryptic in nature for many years now. What it means is that a lot of the time, one must be able to view the clues not only in the literal sense, but also in the lateral sense. "Space deception" has been an integral part of hunt questions, and I can't imagine how restricted the setter would be without the use of "space deception". Even if the "K & Y" are separated into 3 elements, and pronounced as 3 separate elements as a norm, it doesn't follow that we are restricted to pronounce it only as a 3-syllable word. I must ask Richard why he did not object to another question in the same hunt where "space deception" was also used.



Based on the question, we're talking about 2 separate words, each with its own independent meaning, i.e. "MAN" and "IS". But in the answer, what we have is a single word, i.e. "MANIS". And even if we want to argue that "MANIS" is pronounced as a 2-syllable word, that still can't stand, because the pronunciation is "MA" and "NIS"— not "MAN" and "IS".

Secondly, I feel that the CoC had protected himself sufficiently in this case with the clever use of the question mark (?). The "?" is used in cryptic clues to signal to the solver some sort of pun—an indirect interpretation or a lateral way of looking at a particular word or sentence. I have discussed about this before in another post in this blog.

On account of the "?" in the question, it is suggestive of an alternative way of pronouncing the word on the board. Which means eventhough we're seeing K-AND-Y, because of the suggestive "?", the solver should also explore the possibility of KAN-DY.

For the above reasons, I'm inclined to take the side of the CoC. I thought it's a decent question of an average difficulty level. Unfortunately, I failed to see the KAN-DY during the hunt. Sigh.

Tembak Series 1—The Search For Something In Common

I have mentioned that the CoC for this hunt did a good job in balancing the easy and tough questions. However, sometimes hunters need to slow down a bit when dealing with "easy" questions. For even the simplest-looking question may have an unexpected twist which renders it "difficult".


A devilish idea of the CoC which almost caught me unaware. It's an obviously easy and straightforward question which required a bit of general knowledge. We reached the sector, saw the obvious "SWALLOWS (K.K.) TRADING SDN. BHD." and mechanically wrote down the answer—all done within a minute.

However, when we were making our final round of the sector, the "grammatical inclination" kicked in. "IT'S A BIRD..." could only mean one thing—it meant we were looking for a singular item. Since "SWALLOWS" is plural, it followed that it couldn't have been the required answer. We were discussing a treasure riddle when Mia suddenly saw a superior answer—LAYANG-LAYANG, which was a perfect fit for the question. And that was quickly followed by the excitement of everyone in the car trying to claim credit for this obviously correct answer. Not exactly a very neat red herring, but we almost fell for it anyway!

Later on, in a different sector, we had a similar question:


This time it was a shorter sector. Well, actually, the sector was quite long, but we were able to quickly shorten it substantially because we found the other answers in the sequence. Looking up to the top of the tall building, we saw "SEA" at SABAH ENGINEERS ASSOCIATION. And again it's very tempting to just quickly accept SEA as the answer. However, SEA failed on grammatical grounds. We're talking about the Red (SEA), Baltic (SEA) and Mediterranean (SEA). Those are THREE Seas, and therefore the answer must be in plural form—SEAS.

It was for this reason that I lingered on for a while, trying to search for a less visible SEAS (with the "S" in the end). It's quite obvious to me that this was yet another red herring. Good try by the CoC, but sorry, their red herring was not gonna work on a hunter with grammatical obsession like me!

Although I did not fall for this second decoy, I failed to find the required SEAS or OCEANS even though I spent some time scanning practically each and every single board within that sector. Now what?

Well, that's the funny thing about treasure hunting—sometimes, when you are unable to find the correct answer, you would take an answer which you know is wrong. Yet you still offer that wrong answer anyway if only for the sake of filling up the answer space!

Of course, later on, when the answer was revealed by the CoC, you can imagine my relief when it turned out that SEA @ SABAH ENGINEERS ASSOCIATION was indeed the required answer.

I think it was a minor oversight by the CoC which could have saved some precious minutes for us hunters. But this is where prudence can lose out to the new hunters. I suspect that most of them arrived at the sector, saw the SEA, took it and left the sector in a jiffy; whereas this experienced hunter made a fool of himself, looking for something which did not exist in that sector!

A possible improvement to the question is by replacing the word "AND" with "OR", thus making it:


In which case we're talking about the Red SEA, Baltic SEA or Meditteranean SEA independently in isolation one at a time. And it would then fit the singular SEA perfectly.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tembak Series 1—Treasure Hunt

What a day—and a very exhausting one too!

The treasure hunters started to assemble at the Celyn Hotel in City Mall at around 7:00am. The Tembak Series 1 is a debut role as Clerk-of-Course (CoC) by Team Main Tembak. However, because its team members were convinced that they're gonna get lots of criticisms from this Tukang Kutuk, they've changed their name to Kena Tembak.

There were 40 route questions and 4 treasure questions in this hunt, spread within an approximate distance of 50km and time control of 5 hours plus 30 minutes penalty time. Before the flag off, however, Alvin Wong conducted a hunt briefing which lasted for about half an hour. Immediately after the briefing, teams were flagged off at about 8:00am.

I have a shrewd suspicion that the CoC got a bit carried away in view of the reduction of fuel prices a few months ago—they brought us from City Mall to Kolombong/Inanam, to Indah Permai, to Kingfisher; then back to Damai and further to Plaza Grand Millennium before making our way back to City Mall again.

I thought we had a strong field today. Most of the regular teams were there. In accordance with a habit of my friend, Teck Koon, I took the trouble of seeding the teams before the hunt. I seeded my own team, Megapawns, fourth. I felt it was a bit far-fetched for us to even get into the top 3.

As for the hunt, I must say that the CoC performed beyond my expectation. Those of you who's been following this blog would know that I'm not known for my generosity in giving praises to CoCs. And when I criticise, I usually do so brutally. But my criticisms are not meant to be personal. Whenever I do my tukang kutuk thing, I do not see the CoC as a friend or enemy. I try to ignore my relationship with the CoC because only then am I able to give an unbiased comment on the hunt.

Well, as I was saying, I felt that the CoC performed beyond my expectation. But of course there's no reason why they shouldn't, because after all the team members of Kena Tembak are master hunters, with many years of hunting experience. In my opinion, the CoC did very well in balancing the level of difficulties while at the same time giving the local hunters a good challenge. It was a fairly tough hunt, but not to the extent of killing the fun for the new teams. To me, that in itself is already a good achievement.

Although I wrote down the results when they were announced at the end of the hunt, my record is incomplete. So I have asked Alvin to send me the official results soon. I shall publish them here when I get them from Alvin.

The CoC has an interesting style of repeating some words in his questions. And those words have different roles to play. Consider this example:



One SHAKE is the anagram indicator, while the other is the fodder. I'm happy to see this kind of confusion/deception in hunt questions. The only thing that I'd like the CoC to improve is on the elegance of the surface reading. It means that the storyline in the question should be as meaningful and natural as possible. Of course I am not trained in the medical field, but I doubt that there is such a thing as a long (or short) heart.

Consider another example of repetitive words in a question:


A) the S'wich

A somewhat confusing clue. And if one is unable to think along the right track, he is bound to get to a dead end—like what happened to me. Sometimes it's like that in a hunt—if you can't see it, you just can't see it! The point is, the "INSERT AND" is the instruction of what action needs to be done to the intended answer; and "INSERT BETWEEN TWO" defines the resulting word of that action.

In terms of accuracy, I must say that I was a bit surprised that the CoC also did quite well. Except for one small grammatical inaccuracy, it's hard to find any holes in the rest of the questions. Perhaps my only minor unhappiness is on the issue of elegance of the surface reading as mentioned earlier.

My team started the hunt very well, we managed to solve all the questions in Kolombong. Many of the KK hunters would know that I almost always bring them to Kolombong in my hunts. And can almost memorize all the boards there. One glance at the questions, I could pinpoint where the answers were. So we covered this sector fairly quickly and easily.

The Inanam Business Centre was also a familiar sector for me, and we did well there too. But beyond that, we started to get into trouble. When we got to Nountun, we started to drop questions. Later on, we dropped a few more questions in Indah Permai and Kingfisher.

By the time we got to Millennium, I had resigned to the fact that we had dropped too many questions to even hold on to our fouth seeding. By then we were running short on time. And the extremely hot sun did not help either. It's funny how quickly the mind can stop functioning when one has mentally given up hope. Everything just went downhill for me. Even easy questions became tough. Something meant for the beginners became quite a challenge to me. I walked on that long sector, of course, but with my mind not really working. Out of 9 questions in Millennium, we only managed to answer 3! This is where my friend, KK Chai, would help if he were my team mate. I remember him saying, "If it's tough for us, it can also be tough for the rest." That is very true. And even if it's not true, at least the mind would still continue fighting.

Well, we rushed back to City Mall where we had to answer 6 more questions. Luckily there were mostly easy ones. One question, which was apparently a tough one for the other teams, turned out to be very easy to me. But that's not because I'm too clever; rather it's because the question was the "jigsaw puzzle" kind, the kind which is my favourite:



However, there was one question in City Mall which was not meant to be answered—it's the kind which I'd describe as "reserved for the CoC", though after the CoC explained it, I'd say the question was indeed solvable.

When the hunt was over, and while we were having lunch and chit-chatting with the other teams, I realised that they dropped quite a lot of questions too. And I suddenly felt there's hope to maintain my fourth seeding again! But when the results were announced, I was surprised that we actually had enough to win the hunt! 78 points out of the possible 100 maximum points. Had we hunted in KL, I seriously doubt that we'd get anywhere within the top 10 positions with that kind of score. So it's a good thing this is not KL!

Well, a good ending for my team. Some stupid mistakes, though luckily we made fewer of them when compared to the other teams.

As always, I shall discuss and analyse some of the interesting questions in separate threads later.


Update (10/05/09):

Have just received official results from Alvin shortly ago, and am updating it here accordingly. There was apparently a slight mistake in the order of positions 7th, 8th and 9th. The final standings as follows:

Champion: Edward Baki, Euphemia Thien, Cornelius Koh, Dennis Koh - 78pts
2nd: Harry Koh, Vivian Cham, Chan Moon Hueg, Jona Stidi - 72pts
3rd: Frederick Samson, Teo Chen Lung, Leslie Liew, Jason Chin - 68pts
4th: Onalia Kong, Allister Kong, Benjamin Liew, Jeremy Pinso - 65pts
5th: Ellen Yee, Mary Lokupi, Shirley Lim, Dr Liaw Yun Haw - 65pts
6th: Claire Andrew, Grace Joy Chin - 64pts
7th: Gan Po Tiau, David Wong, Winnie Chee, Shirley Chai - 63pts
8th: Francis Omamalin, Eileen Yeoh, Moira Liew, Lee Tze Jim - 62pts
9th: Malcolm Abidin, Talissa Kiandee, Andrea Abidin Callum Abidin - 61pts
10th: Chee Chui Mee, Juriah Hj Uda, Ana Hiew, Angeline Joimol - 57pts

Friday, May 8, 2009


Dato' Seri Najib Tun Razak, our new Prime Minister, made a visit to Sabah earlier this week; and I thought perhaps it's just right that I mention his visit here in this blog.

As a general "rule" in Malaysia whenever a new Prime Minister takes office, he will visit all the states to meet the people. He is also bound to make visits to unlikely places, of which when reported in the press, deserve the exclamation marks. His predecessor, Pak Lah, for example, made a "surprise" visit the to an Immigration Office to observe the kind of service given to the public. Najib, too, suddenly appeared on a train in KL on one Saturday afternoon to experience for himself the kind of transportation system we have in the city.

These frequent visitations will most probably continue for about 6 months—but certainly not beyond a year. After that, the Prime Minister will be very busy with more important matters such as trying to develop the country and eradicating corruption in the administration. That should keep him busy for a long time. The next round of frequent visitations will be around the time when it's near to the general election. There is, of course, nothing strange about this visitation trend. If the Opposition can somehow form the next government, the new Prime Minister will also do exactly the same thing.

I for one would love to see more of Najib in Sabah. It's nothing to do with whether I am a big fan of the man, but when someone "important" like him makes visit, a lot of things can suddenly get done—literally overnight. Roads which are long overdue for upgrading because of insufficient budget can suddenly be upgraded, with workers working throughout the night, just in time to make a grand welcome for the Prime Minister. How or where the budgets for such works came from has always been a big mystery.

The streets in the city, and even the handicraft stalls can suddenly become exceptionally clean and beautiful. All the outstanding works which have been left undone for years are suddenly completed almost magically. Many other things which the relevant authorities have neglected for years are also attended to.

If only the Prime Minister can make more frequent visits, a lot of things can actually get done for the good of the people. I would therefore welcome Najib to Sabah with open arms.

No—seriously—I mean it!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Series Of Unfortunate Events

Damn that van—did it really have to reverse and hit the violently-shaking car in the park? Must have been quite an impact too! And holy cow!... never, ever, surprise a woman when she's busy dealing with the weenee. [The Star]

To sidetrack a bit, during the Rotarian meeting yesterday, we were enjoying the fellowship when suddenly someone brought up the subject of Viagra. I said I've heard the warning that Viagra is not an entertainment drug. Well if it's not an entertainment drug, then what is it? Iskandar—trying to be smart—responded, saying that it's meant to pump more blood into the heart. Then Amrullah corrected him, saying that the drug pumps the blood into the wrong organ and as the side effect, it will cause a heart attack. These are people better off staying away from the medical profession. Otherwise a lot of people will die.

Anyway, just imagine the series of unfortunate events those poor souls had to endure. While enjoying (I'm assuming at least the man was enjoying it) the intimate moment, a van just had to reverse into their car. Of the many, many thousands of vehicles in Singapore, it just had to be their car. But never mind the damage to the car—the penis, what's to become of it? Then there's the woman's husband he had to deal with. Not to mention getting very famous in this region for the wrong reason. Oh man, he's screwed.

But seriously, I don't know what's the problem between the woman and her husband. I don't have a problem between 2 consenting adults having this kind of relationship. Well, OK, I do not condone the woman's act, and I honestly sympathise with her husband. But to accidentally bite off her lover's penis?

Don't you think there is more justice in this world if this kind of thing can happen to these fellows instead?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Uphill Task

Since running the half marathon in Singapore last December, I've been doing mostly short runs of 5km to 10km over the last couple of months. I got carried away last year and injured my ankle. So I decided to go easy this year.

However, it's now time to embark on a serious training programme for the coming Borneo International Marathon 2 which will be held on October 11. Now is a good time to start building up on my distance again, since I have enough time to gradually increase on the long runs during the weekends.

I thought it'd be a good idea to do my first 15km in a while on Friday which was a public holiday. But of course as Murphy's Law would have it, when I woke up in the wee hours of the morning, it was raining. We haven't had any rain for a while now, and it just had to happen on the very morning when I had planned to go running. So I had to postpone it to yesterday (Saturday).

When I woke up on Saturday morning, again it was raining. Since I was already awaken, I went to the wet market to buy some fresh fish instead. I haven't been to the wet market for ages now. Might as well, because I'm beginning to get sick of eating chicken all the time.

Anyway, I was determined to do my run one way or another, so instead of going first thing in the morning, I decided to beat Murphy's Law and went in the evening. I reached the jogging track and started running at around 6:00pm. The sun sets around 6:15pm to 6:30pm here in KK.

Somehow the first 3km felt like hell—I felt so exhausted and tempted to stop. After that first 3km, I stopped for a few seconds for a drink. Then I continued again, running very slowly. As it was getting dark, people were leaving and very soon there were only a few of us freak runners there, running in the dark.

I kept stopping to drink every few kilometres, and soon I realised that I was the only one running in the dark; quite a spooky feeling. So good to be a man—not such a good idea for women to run in the dark like that.

Well, I completed the intended 15km in the end. Surprisingly, I felt that I had a bit of extra energy to continue running had I wanted to. It's not easy; in fact I was struggling all the way, but I could've continued another kilometre or two. But I decided not to push it. Last week I did 13.5 km on the treadmill in the gym. So 15 km for this week should be just nice. Next week will be a "step back" to 13.5km again before the gradual climb to 15km, 17km and 19km.

Still a very, very long way from the target of 42km for the October marathon. Frankly, I really don't know how I'm gonna achieve that 42km when I'm struggling to finish even the 15km. In fact, I can't imagine how I managed the 25km across Penang Bridge last November.

I woke up this morning feeling very hungry. My legs are sore up to now. But at least my ankle is holding steady—so far there is no pain, so I guess that's a good sign.

I frequently bump into Dr Liaw at the jogging track (he's doing the full marathon in October too; as well as in Singapore.) He's such a hard-working runner. He failed in his attempt to finish the full course in under 4 hours last year. That in itself was a surprising result because he's such a strong and fast runner. When I was training for my half marathon last year, I once ran at his pace for about 7km at about 5 min/km, but after that I had to admit defeat; too fast for this old man, I guess. It's good to be young and active. I see he's starting his training much earlier this year. I'm sure he's gonna do well.

As for Teo, I don't know what's he been up to. He mentioned running a few kilometres on the treadmills every now and then. And he's gonna go for a second attempt of the full marathon this October (sadly, he was unable to finish last year with 7 km to the finish line). He's a young man, of course; tall and with the advantage of longer legs. But, y'know, if he doesn't start doing some training soon, he's at risk of falling short of the 42km again this year!

Well, a little under 6 months to build up on my distance. Plenty of time to improve, but also plenty of time to become lazy again. But even if I somehow have the discipline to train religiously, I foresee it's gonna be an uphill task to complete the 42km. Not my habit to give up though, so 42km it is—bring it on!