Friday, July 31, 2009

Picking Up Girls At Bar

Damn! I knew that there's a valid reason why I can never be any good at picking up girls at the bar—not before, not now, not ever!

I only managed eleven out of sixteen. Scary what I'd do with the wrong picks! But how about you? See how much better you can do than me. Click here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

No Vice as Novice

UPDATE (31/07/09):

OK, folks, we've just prepared a simple Entry Form for this hunt. And because of this hunt, I'm very happy to announce that I have now learned how to upload a word document file to a google group freehost, and hopefully successfully linked it to this blog. I've also created a link in the "Announcements" frame on my sidebar, so you can also download by clicking "Entry Form" from there. It's about time, too, that I learn these things!

I will also send out emails to some of the hunters I know to inform them about this hunt very soon. If you need further information, please feel free to contact me.


This morning, Alvin Wong and I exchanged several text messages about the Palliative Care Association of Kota Kinabalu Treasure Hunt last Sunday. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, Alvin was already suggesting doing another hunt on 31 August—Merdeka Day. Then we continued building on that idea through several exchanges of emails. Then the excitement grew and eventually we ended up meeting for lunch along Gaya Street near my office.

Alvin's idea was to organise a kind of tutorial hunt in the hope of raising the standard of the local hunters, but also to encourage new teams onboard. To do this, the plan is to set a hunt comprising about 75% of basic cryptic questions of novice standard, and 25% of the more challenging questions, but may also be achiveable by the new teams. The same formula will also be adopted for the 4 treasures.

We're hoping that the new hunters are able to experience a less painful learning process, and maybe that can whet their appetite for more hunts in the future. Apart from that, we decided that this hunt shouldn't be about big prizes; and neither should it be about us making profits. The idea is to charge a low entry fee which is to be treated more like a tuition fee for the aspiring teams. Alvin has come up with a catchy theme fo this hunt: No Vice as Novice.

In order to do this well, both Teams Kena Tembak and Megapawns will not be hunting, so that other teams are able to compete on a so-called level playing field. And since Kena Tembak and Megapawns won't be hunting, we will be combining our efforts to clerk the hunt instead. It is still too early and we have not decided who will do what and to what extent, but based on my discussion with Alvin over lunch today, I have the impression that I will be setting about a third of the total number of questions; and Alvin and Christine will each do a third respectively. We have not decided on the use of tulips for this hunt, but I'm inclined to bring it back for the sake of the new teams.

To keep cost even lower, and having taken the fasting month into account, we will not be providing meals and refreshments. We will probably arrange for the end venue close to eateries, so that hunters are free to find their own meals if they want to after submitting their answers, and then come back for the presentation later. As for the prizes, we are only giving away hampers and there will be no cash up for grabs.

In view of the above, we're setting the entry fee at RM100 per team for the first 15 teams to register; and RM150 per team for the rest up to 20 teams only. At the same time, if there are any of you who'd like to contribute additional prizes, we would welcome that too.

Just to clarify that this is not a part of my KK Challenge series. My KK Challenge 5 is still on course for October, though I have not set a specific date yet. If this hunt is successful, Alvin is also toying with the idea of doing another one in September. I think if that September hunt can also materialise, teams will be more prepared for my KK Challenge 5 and better able to score well.

Kena Tembak and Megapawns will be meeting again soon to iron out the details of this hunt; and I will come up with the Entry Form soon after that. I will then make the proper announcement here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

PCAKK Treasure Hunt—Above & Below

I have said that Team Kena Tembak did a commendable job in setting the questions. And I only found very minor objections in some of the questions. For example,



Where I prefer the word TUKAR instead of BERTUKAR. The "BER" is something like the extension "ING" in English. For example, JALAN = WALK; BERJALAN = WALKING. So TUKAR = TRADE; and BERTUKAR = TRADING.



A) EMTY @ Scale #6 of water tank

Where I think there is no need to include 2 homophone indicators in a single clue. Either TERDENGAR or SEBUTAN could be dropped and the question is still sound.

However, in my opinion, Team Kena Tembak did very well in the following question:



A brilliant "bolded" question and deserves an A+ by my standard! I think this particular question stood out from the rest in this entire hunt, and I would have been proud to have conjured up this question myself.

During the answer presentation, when Alvin explained the answer, I was very impressed. But then I also felt sad. For right there, seated at the same table with us, were the team members of Hunters R Us. I felt there and then that had Vincent Woo been there with us, he would have loved this question too, because he came up with something very similar in the Bloggers' Hunt.

PCAKK Treasure Hunt—Repetitions

Humans are animals of habit. In whatever we do, there is a tendency to repeat the manner we do it. Small actions while we walk, eat, sit; the way we twitch our noses or scratch our heads whenever someone asks us a question. Likewise, we also have the tendency to repeat the way we say things, or the way we write some sentences.

Clerks-of-Course are also not immune from habits. In the case of Team Kena Tembak, I find it interesting that they have the tendency to repeat words in their clues. In their past hunt, they gave us:



Notice the repetition of the word INSERT. The "INSERT AND" instructs the solver to put "AND" into the word found on the signboard. The "INSERT IN BETWEEN" is the meaning of the result of that action. It means that when AND is inserted into S'WICH, we will get SANDWICH which is INSERT IN BETWEEN.

In yesterday's hunt, we had:



A "bolded" question which I failed to solve. CUT END refers to the letter T which is the end letter of the word CUT. That T is to be brought to the END of a word found on a signboard. In this case, that word is ERA. The result of that will give ERAT in the end (of the process). ERAT is a Malay word which means CLOSE.

The question has 3 ENDs in it. All of them have different roles. The first END is the cryptic indicator to extract T from CUT. The second END (used here to give instruction to the solver) tells the solver to connect the T to something else. The last END takes the informative role of telling the solver what he will get at the end of the process.

Later on, we saw yet another question in which the CoC used repetitive words in his clue:


And it absolutely drove me up the wall! At first glance, it looked very much like a typo—perhaps the CoC forgot to delete the extra ONE OF THIS when he was amending the clue? But that is not possible here, at least not possible for a team like Kena Tembak. Therefore, keeping an open mind, the repetition must be so on purpose.

Now where should one start with such a clue? Well, I'm sure there are many ways to arrive at the answer, but what I did was to focus on the words THIS in the clue. That word is referring to a word found on the signboard, i.e. the intended answer. The next step is to try to narrow down the search, if possible, from whatever we can find in the other words in the clue. And here, I saw something interesting. What word can be replaced by the word THIS in the clue? Perhaps we can start by making a learned guess.

Whatever that word is, it must be in a plural form. Why? Well, because it is a grammatical requirement in the English language that whenever the noun is preceded by the words "ONE OF", that noun must be in plural form. We say, one of the cats; not one of the cat. We say, one of the houses; and not one of the house. Therefore, on account of grammatical requirement, the word we are looking for on the signboard must be plural.

And now we come to an interesting problem. Within the sector, there is a shop named SPADE. Most of you would undoubtedly know the common phrase: Call a spade a spade, which means being direct in what you say.

If the question had been:


I would've been happy with SPADE, because ONE can be equated to A, as in ONE dog = A dog, though admittedly the clue looks awful this way. So SPADE can replace THIS in the clue without violating grammatical rules. But because of the additional word OF, I was hoping to find SPADES to be grammatically perfect. I thought SPADE (without the S) was a decoy—a red herring. Looking at the clue as it was, if THIS is SPADES, then ONE OF THIS would be ONE OF (the) SPADES = a spade. At least that was my thought process.

But my mistake was that by the time I went through that sector over and over again, in the end I did not just tembak the SPADE anyway. For the intended answer was indeed SPADE eventhough it's grammatically wrong.

Interestingly, earlier within that same sector, we had a similar situation:



When we read the question, we saw SINO (in our minds) without even walking the sector yet. We searched high and low for SINO but couldn't see it. Instead, we saw AUSSINO. However, after a long search, and still failing to find SINO, we tembak AUSSINO anyway. And of course later it was revealed that there was indeed a SINO elsewhere within the sector! I'm still kicking myself for not tembak-ing in the case of the SPADE!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Palliative Care Association Treasure Hunt 2009

Taken as a whole, it was a very tough hunt—at least by the Sabahan standard. But well, luck was on our side, and we ended up winning the grand prize. So that's the second time we've won a hunt by Team Kena Tembak.

I didn't know it at first, but upon seeing the above picture on my pc shortly ago, I noticed that when we were up on stage, posing for the cameras, Vivian was amused by her boss. She was obviously trying very hard to suppress a laugh. What's tickling you, Viv?

As usual, I will give a general overview of the hunt, i.e. the general format, the overall time provision against the number of questions and challenges etc. Then I will go into detailed discussions on some of the interesting questions in separate posts.

But first, the official results (Full score 125pts):

1) Edward Baki, Vivian Cham, Cornelius Koh, Dennis Koh (90pts)
2) Chai Koh Khai, Margaret Sha, Chong Voon Kiat (81pts)
3) Francis Omamalin, Eileen Yeoh, Lee Tze Jim, Moina Liew (77pts)
4) Renee Khoo, Dr Liaw Yun Haw, Shirley Lim, Mary Lokupi (76pts)
5) Frederick Samson, Teo Chen Lung, Tan Cher Kian, Leslie Liew (72pts)
6) Liaw Lam Thye, Richard Tsen, Tsen Mei Fong, Florence Lajagang (72pts)
7) Josy Majalap, Suzanne Majani, Adoree Malinjang (70pts)
8) Jeremy Pinso, Alister Kong, Onalia Kong, Lionel Wong (70pts)
9) Gan Poh Tiau, David Wong, Winnie Chee, Shirley Chai (67pts)
10)Alexius Daut, M Jennifer G Sham, Coreen R A Sham, Monsu Godon (61pts)
11)George D Ligunjang, Jeffrey Fong, Emmanuel Edward, Ava Kessey (59pts)
12)Masri Khan, Ag Sarpuddin Ag Kassim, Zurinah Hanafiah (57pts)
13)Malcolm Abidin, Talissa Kiandee, Callum Abidin, Andrea Abidin (54pts)
14)Claire Andrew, Grace Joy Chin (50pts)
15)Julie Chan, Jaco Swanepoel, John Saw Say Kee, Mior Asman Musa (49pts)



The hunt was divided into 3 legs. Each was given a specific time window to complete, failure of which would result in disqualification to proceed to the next leg (Yes, some teams did not make it). Leg 1 and Leg 2 each had 3 sectors with a total of 15 questions to answer, i.e. total questions for Legs 1&2 = 30. Leg 3 was a walk-hunt within 1Borneo itself (10 questions). Total hunting time for all 3 legs was 7 hours with a 30 minute penalty time (2pts to be deducted per 5-minute block).


40 route questions, each worth 2 points, i.e. maximum 80 points; 4 treasure questions, each worth 5 points, i.e. maximum 20 points; 3 challenges worth 25 points. Therefore, the full score of 125 points for this hunt.


Perhaps the most talked-about element of this hunt. No tulips were provided; hunters were instead given site maps of hunt sectors without naming the estates or areas. Within the site maps names of some shops were given, and at least one landmark picture in black and white in each map. Arrows drawn on the maps to show the directions of question sequence.

The challenging part of such navigational aid was that hunters were first required to figure out the sectors, and this proved to be quite a challenge even for KK folks. After finding the sectors, they had to solve questions in sequence, but there were no "cut-off" points between questions. So, for example, if hunters arrived at a small town comprising, say, 10 rows of shops for a total distance of say 2km, the answers may be found in any of those 10 rows of shops, although in sequence following the direction of the arrows in the maps. If hunters were lucky, they might be able to solve, say Q3, and therefore able to discover the "cut-off" point. But it's still a challenge to further dissect the rest of the sectors.

Further complication arose in the cases of SEDCO and Kg Air, because it was practically impossible to drive through the massive traffic jam, thus forcing the hunters to walk the entire several blocks of shops. In Kg Air, for example, hunters had to find the answers to 5 questions only, from thousands of signboards with no "cut-off" points, all to be done on foot under the hot sun. That's not all. At least one answer was partially hidden, and one would have to almost know the answer to be able to find it! Consider the question:



I think an average hunter with a bit of basic cryptic knowledge would be able to put two and two together to connect LARGE to BIG; and ADDER (one who adds) to SUMMER (one who sums up). But one has to spot the board first to be able to connect them!

The questions, when taken on their own, were not frightfully tough, but when taken as a whole under the condition of the hunt, were very, very challenging indeed. It reminds me of a similar hunt by Hunters R Us some months back, where the questions were very well done and of high quality, but when taken as a whole with the conditions of hunt, I felt it was very tough.

That said, however, I think Team Kena Tembak went one step further. In my opinion, they failed to take into account the traffic condition which forced the energy-sapping walks in Tg. Aru town, SEDCO, Kg. Air and then later on in 1Borneo. On paper, 7 hours seemed like too generous of the CoC, but in reality not so, especially for the new teams which must have spent a lot of time finding the "cut-off" points within sectors.

While hunting, I thought it would be very tough for Hunters R Us, since they're a team from KL. And indeed it was tough, for they totally failed to find Inanam Town, a sector accommodating 10 possible points (5 questions). There's absolutely no doubt that they'd have gained those 10 points had they been able to find Inanam Town. The net result would have been 91 points for them, hence they would have won this hunt marginally. In that sense, my team was lucky and benefitted from the format of this hunt.

In my opinion, the challenge of any treasure hunt should be in the riddles found in the questions. In some cases, I can live with small signages to account for the requirement of observation/spotting skills. But I try my best not to challenge the navigational skills of the hunters. If I can help it, I'd like to direct them to the hunt sectors with as little pain as possible.


As I said, I will discuss specific questions in separate posts later. I'd like to say here that on the whole, the questions for this hunt were very good. I only have some minor objections in some of them, but otherwise I saw some interesting ideas. I may add that they're even entertaining. A couple of them were brilliant, and I'd say they were all solvable, unlike some of the questions in KL hunts these days.

However, I thought a few could use a bit of improvements, because they're dangerously "loose". Consider this question in the SEDCO sector:



A good example where I would agree with Master Hunter Alexander Hoh about adding more words to the clue to ensure exclusive fit. The point is that there is nothing in the clue to restrict the literal interpretation of the sentence. There were just too many kedai kopi and kedai makan in that sector—one can go to any one of those coffeeshops "FOR COFFEE"!

My overall verdict of the hunt is that Team Kena Tembak did a very commendable job. I am so glad that we now have Sabahans who're willing to put their heads on the chopping board to take up the role of Clerk-of-Course. Seeing how they set this hunt reminded me of myself when I clerked the Sutera Hunt a couple of years ago. I myself failed in many aspects of clerking, but we will all try to improve with each hunt. Therefore, I am sure Team Kena Tembak will only improve themselves further in future hunts. And of course I don't mind winning all of them too (smile).

Saturday, July 25, 2009

PCAKK Treasure Hunt—Registration & Briefing

At the Novotel 1Borneo this afternoon, there was a bit of excitement during the registration and briefing for tomorrow's Palliative Care Association of Kota Kinabalu Treasure Hunt. The Organising Committee managed to assemble over 50 teams for this hunt.

The hard-working team members of Kena Tembak, Alvin Wong and Bernard Liew, taking up the role of the Clerk-of-Course for this hunt. I wonder what surprises they have in store for us hunters tomorrow.

Some of the familiar faces in the KK hunting scene. In fact, these are some of my loyal customers of the KK Challenge series.

General views of the victims for tomorrow's torture. A fair number of these people are first-timers. They really don't know what they're getting into. But it's too late now, after tomorrow they will become addicted to treasure hunting. May God bless them all!

Step Children

Yesterday, JJ got her results for 2 of the subjects in her mock exams. One was for Moral Instruction (purely in Mandarin) and another was for Chinese (Mandarin). Mia was the one who fetched her from school. She got 93% for Moral Instruction, and 86% for Mandarin. Both mommy and daughter worked very, very hard for the mock exams. And very soon they will have the actual exams.

Quite frankly, I am not one who'd focus too much on school grades, because I don't believe they indicate the true (practical) abilities of the kids. In fact, I have conducted experiments in this blog before to demonstrate that excellent "paper qualifications" don't necessarily translate into excellent practical abilities. The schooling days will take up about a third of one's life, but beyond that it's more important to have the survival skills in the job market. No amount of "paper qualifications" can help if one has no survival skills beyond the confines of the schools.

Having said that, however, I'm not saying that I'd still be happy if JJ failed all her school exams. Of course it is ideal if she can get excellent results in school too. Besides, I think the more important thing about exams is that it teaches these young people about discipline—something which I think is so lacking in the upbringing of most children these days. It is very important to instill the habit of competitiveness and discipline in young children because, to me, these are the main ingredients for success in their adult lives.

Yesterday evening, on the way home from her grandma's, JJ was crying quietly in the car. She's generally a very happy kid. But yesterday, she was crying because she only got 86% for her Mandarin. She was concerned that daddy and mommy would be disappointed in her. And more importantly, she's disappointed in herself for such a "poor" performance. Bear in mind that she has just turned seven recently—we're talking about a Primary One kid here.

So daddy and mommy had to console JJ—that we're proud of her achievement; that we're happy that she's tried her best; that it didn't really matter that she did not get a perfect score for her exams, as long as she's given her best shot. After all, in life there will be ups and downs. At times it is necessary to learn from our failures; find the mistakes and try not to repeat them again, and hopefully we can do better next time.

As a daddy, although I am sad for JJ with her predicament, I am happy to see her sense of responsibility; her keen sense of competitiveness; and her discipline. These are the qualities which will help her face adulthood with strength and confidence in time to come.

In Malaysia, the non-Bumiputras are treated like step-children by our country. We have no choice but to quickly develop the survival instinct in our children. In almost everything we do, our progress are always hampered by government policies which heavily favour the Bumiputras.

The non-Bumiputras have to work really hard to pull our resources to educate our children because very, very few of us will get any assistance from the government. The competition continues into the higher learning institutions. Then when we enter the job market, we will find that there is an implied preference for the Bumiputras in the government offices too. And some of us non-Bumiputras who are lucky enough to get a job in the government offices will find that there is a very remote chance to reach to top posts in their departments regardless of how good they are in their jobs.

When venturing out to work in the private firms, we have to earn our ways up to the top. Sacrifices—big, big sacrifices—will have to be made to reach there. If we want to try our luck in running our own business, we will have to borrow money from the banks to start, of which we have to shoulder the burden of paying up the debts together with interests. When we try to vie for government projects, we have to share our profits with the Bumiputras by taking them in as partners before we can dream to secure the jobs in the first place.

On the other hand, the Bumiputras are given special treatment. When it comes to scholarships, there will be special quotas allocated for the Bumiputras. Later in life, the Bumiputras are given priorities in government offices, especially the top posts. But for some Bumiputras who want to start their own business, they are given special grants with very flexible repayment. Those in the rural areas are given lands to embark on their plantations. They're given substantial amounts of shares in the stock market at nominal prices which they quickly sell off to the non-Bumiputras for the fast bucks.

But after 5 decades, the Bumiputras have only achieved about 20% of the wealth of the country. It has been estimated that 80% of the tax revenues in Malaysia were those paid by the non-Bumiputras. We, the non-Bumiputras, have done our part to develop this country; we've done a lot to contribute to its economic prosperity.

In his recent post, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia said, inter alia:

"Segala estet rumah mewah juga diduduki oleh bukan Melayu. Sikit benar orang Melayu yang tinggal di estat mewah ini. Lebih ramai yang tinggal di kawasan setinggan."

(Luxurious housing estates are also occupied by the non-Malays. Too few Malays live in these luxurious estates. In fact, many of them live in squatter areas.)

But I think the good Tun has forgotten that the non-Bumiputras worked very, very hard to be able to live in those luxurious estates. In most cases, they have to sacrifice blood and sweat to get that far, especially with so many restrictions from the government policies. All the luxuries did not fall magically onto their laps. Certainly, they did not happen by accident.

I think Tun should stop punishing the non-Bumiputras for the failures of the government policies. After 5 decades, he is still talking about Bumiputras and non-Bumiputras. Why does he keep pointing fingers at us for working very hard? Maybe it is better if he could focus his mind and resources to find ways on how to make the Bumiputras to work hard too. That can only help to make Malaysia even more successful.

We are all Malaysians; we love this country. The so-called non-Bumiputras are really tired of being treated like step-children, but it's OK, we will try to live with it anyway. We have come to a stage where we know our position in this country. No matter how much we contribute; no matter how much we fight for this country, people like Tun will never be satisfied.

We ask for no more—we just want our country to love us the way we love her.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mia's Garden

I borrowed Mia's camera to upload JJ's picture she took (see previous post) on Tuesday morning. You see, Mia has her own camera which she uses mainly for JJ's school work, and her own stuff, including pictures of our garden at home. My camera is mainly for the purpose of Rotary activities when the need arises, and also pictures of signboards for treasure hunts; and also sometimes for my travels.

Anyway, as I was uploading JJ's pictures shortly ago, I noticed these pictures of our garden in her camera. So I decided I might as well share them here. Mia is the one who's keen on keeping such a garden. If I had it my way, I'd prefer our garden to be plain. It's quite time consuming to maintain. And if we're too busy to attend to it, then we'd have to pay other people to do it for us. And of course when it comes to paying, that is always my responsibility. I'd call this Mia's because she spends more time on it.

As you can see, these plants need a bit of trimming, but I'll probably arrange for one of those Timorese guys on bicycle to come during the weekends.

The waterfall (which is artificial) with some kois in the water. We used to have many more kois, but some of them died when the pump broke down. Mia is keen to buy new ones, but I didn't think it's such a good idea. Right now we have about 15 kois in the pond. Having more will only lead to the problem of over population.

Mia's idea of giving a bit more shades to the pond. Too much sunlight penetrating into the water will cause unruly growth of green algae.

Mia is very proud of her monkey cups. I don't know what's so special about it, but y'know, I suppose it's quite unique since it's not seen everywhere.

And this is one of her many potted plants at the car porch. She took this picture not so much because of the plants—there is nothing special about it. Rather, there is a grasshopper-like insect resting there. Can you spot it?

The Class Monitor

When JJ arrived home on Monday evening, she was full of excitement. She had with her a red tie to be worn the next day at school. At first I did not know what it was all about. Mia is mostly the one who's really into JJ's school activities. It turned out that JJ's class has a peculiar system of rotating the role of Class Monitor amongst the students. If I am not wrong, they have 2 permanent Class Monitors and 1 more on rotation basis.

Well, last Tuesday was JJ's turn to be the Class Monitor for a day; and she's required to put on that red tie. That night I prepared the tie for her. She deligently arranged the tie together with her school uniform.

The next morning, just before she left for school, Mia took a picture of her with the red tie on. I wasn't around when this picture was taken, as Mia and JJ usually leave the house very early. I must have been still in the bathroom shaving and brushing my teeth then.

By the way, I swear it's not my idea to cut JJ's hair that short. I prefer her to keep long hair, but of course Mia has the higher authority as far as JJ's hair is concerned. And as you can see, her permanent set of front teeth have emerged too. For this particular shot, JJ is posing painfully straight with both her hands on her sides. It took me a long time to cut the habit of the "V" sign with her fingers. So I must admit that I'm happy with this particular pose (without the "V" sign), though perhaps if she were a bit more relaxed it would've been perfect.

It's hard for me to imagine JJ as a Class Monitor. She's kinda too small for her age, and she's always the target of bullies in her class. But maybe that's also one of the reasons why she's so excited that, for only one day, she had the authority in her class. I doubt that her class mates would actually obey her instructions anyway.

I don't know what's the reason her class has the rotation system for the Class Monitor, but perhaps it has something to do with giving the opportunities to all the kids to experience some kind of leadership in a small way. I suppose it's a good idea. So I guess JJ will have to wait another 40 days before it's her turn to be the Class Monitor again.

It's comical too see her excitement. When I fetched her home from her grandma's on Tuesday evening, all the way home, she related to daddy and mommy about her day in school as the Class Monitor. She's so proud of her job for the day. And both Mia and I were so happy for her. Now if she'd pass her coming exams with flying colours, we would be even happier.

Monday, July 20, 2009

If Only...

By September this year, I would have spent 20 years of my life working for the present company. When I first started in the Brunei branch office, I was practically a nobody. Over the years I've gradually—and very painfully—climbed the ladder to reach where I am today. I hope I can keep it going, and with any luck, I may be able to reach the very top some day.

It's quite some experience having been from the very bottom to somewhere at the top. But because I've been at the bottom, I feel I'm better able to appreciate the problems experienced by the junior staff. Whenever I have to decide on anything concerning my staff, I can always think of how I myself would view the situation years ago. It's a little easier to put myself in their shoes, because I have been there before.

Having been through what they're going through now, I would like, if I can help it, to listen to whatever problems they may have, and then try my best to solve them. It all sounds very easy when viewed as an outsider from a distance, but when you're actually there and your decisions may have a big impact on others, sometimes it's not so easy and straightforward as you may think. And because I'm dealing with so many people, there will be times when some of them won't be happy with my decisions. After all, it's almost impossible to please everybody all the time.

One of these days, I will become too old and perhaps no longer effective to manage the office, and have to make way for the next generation. When that time comes, I hope I'm able to fade gracefully into the background. For whatever it's worth, I will try to share any useful experience with my successors.

But I have no doubt that there will be problems which I may fail to solve during my tenure. After all, I am not a perfect man. I can't solve every single problem. I can just hope to solve many of them. But the one thing I won't do is to start building up a pile of "ifs" to cover up my failures when I was the captain. For the more I try to justify my failures, the likelier will I look like an idiot!

Take this line as an example:

"There was not much pressure to abolish the system at that time but if I had continued my term up to the next general election, I would have eventually reviewed it (ISA) myself."

—Former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, referring to the Internal Security Act (ISA). [NST]

A very idiotic thing to say when it's obvious that practically everyone in the street's been against the Internal Security Act even long before he became the Prime Minister. So it's not exactly true that there "was not much pressure to abolish the system". In fact, in my opinion, the ISA was one of the main reasons for the results of the last general election in Malaysia.

Decidedly, Abdullah has done some good during his tenure as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, but he couldn't do much about the ISA. It is too late now to say "if I had continued...", because if he had done something about the ISA back then, he might have continued up to now as the Prime Minister. Throughout his tenure, he has been saying he needed more time to make changes. Till the end, he kept saying there's not enough time to perform. He did not realise that the rakyat eventually ran out of patience with his promises. But he dreams on—if I had continued my term... if only...

Palliative Care Association Charity Treasure Hunt—Final Update

Well, folks, this is the final update leading to the Palliative Care Association Charity Treasure Hunt 2009 which will be held this Sunday, July 26.

I was just on the phone with Ellen Yee who's been working very, very hard to make this hunt a success. A bit of bad news and good news. First, the bad news. With just a few days left to the hunt day, we have only managed to achieve about 50 teams as of today. So based on verbal commitments from some friends, we'd probably be seeing around 60 teams on Sunday. It's still a big crowd by KK standard, but short of 40 teams from the expected 100 teams. At any rate, all system go and the hunt shall proceed rain or shine!

Another bad news is that Mia has decided to withdraw from this hunt so that she can focus fully on JJ for her coming exams. Mia is overly concerned with JJ's grades, you see. During her first exams, JJ got 20th in her class. Mia was devastated. She then went all out to supervise JJ's revisions, and during the second exams, JJ improved to 8th. I hope she won't get first this time round; otherwise she won't have any room for improvements (smile). Anyway, I've since invited Vivian onboard. Vivian is our Research Executive. Her own team can't make it this time, so she's agreed to join us. I am confident she will be able to help me in breaking hunt clues. I just hope it's enough to keep our friends from the West on their toes!

The good news, according to Ellen, is that they have more sponsors coming in. Which means more teams will be bringing home something. But I don't mind another laptop and a couple of hampers myself. I could use some of those when it's my turn to organise my KK Challenge 5 later this year.

A bit of confusion regarding the briefing for this hunt. Earlier, I was told that it's gonna be held at the PCAKK office, but by my latest tele-conversation with Ellen, the briefing will be held at:

Business Centre, Level 4, Novotel, 1Borneo at 2:00pm this Saturday

Please come early, and if you arrived there too early, you can also shop around 1Borneo. I'm sure the sponsor would love that very much; in fact, if they're really happy, we might get a second hunt next year? I'm sure Team Kena Tembak will be pleased to clerk the second hunt too!

I have some kind of understanding with Alvin Wong—that we will take turns to clerk hunts here in KK for some of the freak hunters. My next one will be the KK Challenge 5, which some of you are already pestering me for the specific date! And another one will be an official charity hunt around March or April next year.

If any of you have any questions regarding this hunt (except what questions will be asked during the hunt, fo course), please feel free to raise them here. I have invited Ellen to visit this blog and add to my comments as well as answer questions if necessary. Good luck to all teams (but of course I hope I have more luck than you all)!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sutera Harbour 7K Sunset Run

Yesterday was the Sutera Harbour 7K Sunset Run 2009. It is an annual charity event organised by the Sutera Harbour Resort. It's reported that 10,000 people took part, but perhaps lesser people actually joined the run.

Mia and I joined this run again for the second time. Unlike last year, we arrived at the starting line with some minutes to spare. Before the flag off, we had a bit of aerobics session for warming up. Last year, I completed the 7km in about 39 minutes, whereas Mia did it in 47 minutes. We were both hoping to improve on our respective times.

Those of you who're not familiar with this event, don't get the wrong impression by that word "sunset" in title of the event. Each year, the run starts at 5:17pm, and at that time it's still burning hot here in KK.

Because we arrived early this year, Mia and I were able to find our way to amongst the leader pack. That in itself is several seconds' advantage for short runs like this. Last year, we were late and started way behind and got caught in the group of all those slow runners. Yesterday, upon the flag off, there were not many people blocking my way, and I was able to run my confortable pace after about 2-3 minutes.

About 7 minutes into the run, I arrived at the first loop within the Sutera development estate road. At that point, I was able to see some familiar faces from the Likas jogging track. The sun was beating onto my face, but I had a cap on. There were only 2 drink stations for this event, and I stopped at both of them for drinks. While running in that heat, I felt that I was not going to improve on last year's time. I felt so tired even before reaching the halfway point. By then I had to slow down a bit. On the highway leading to the Wawasan, I looked back a few times in the hope of finding Mia in the crowd. But she was nowhere to be seen.

Just before I reached the corner to the Wawasan roundabout, I saw Kevin, already on his return trip. By the way, he had just returned from a successful marathon in KL at 4 hr15 mins a couple of weeks ago. Before reaching the Wawasan loop, I stopped again for another drink. The heat was just too unbearable for me; I felt like my lungs were gonna burst.

While I was on my way back, and turning on the long stretch of the highway again, I saw Mia arriving from the other direction. I saw Andrew Voon too. I was preserving a bit of energy for the last push towards the finish line when I suddenly saw Teo running. I increased my pace and ran together with him for about a hundred metres or so. Then at about 1.5 km to the finish line, I began to increase my pace even further.

I reached the finish line in 36mins 56 secs. Not very good, but at least it's still an improvement over last year's performance. I grabbed some drinks and walked around for a bit before Mia arrived with a time of 44 mins. It was quite a satisfying run. In spite of the 7km, I find that it's not so easy to run under 35 mins. I really need to try harder next year.

Today I was unable to do my 15km run. I usually do my long runs first thing Sunday mornings, but because of the Sutera run, I postponed it to this evening to allow a bit more recovery time for my legs. Unfortunately, it was raining very heavily from about 5pm this evening. For a while, I contemplated running that 15 km in Core Fitness. But you should have seen the massive traffic jam in City Mall then!

Next week will be an increase in efforts as far as my training is concerned. Beginning from Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I'll be running 7km, 12km and 7km respectively, before that dreadful 23km on Sunday.

I was chit-chatting with some friends at the track recently and we were discussing about food supplements. Most of us are taking food supplements to coincide with our training programmes. So I thought I'd share with my readers the kinds I'm taking right now. Check it out:

On the extreme left is the Glucosamine capsules which are only meant for "maintenance". I used to suffer pains in my knees and back, and I had to take Glucosamine for 4 months. Mia is presently suffering backache, and she's just embarked on Glucosamine too. That's how it is when you're getting old (smile).

I just bought the Horley's Replace Recovery. I realised that each time after my long runs on Sundays, I would take too long for recovery. I would still feel a bit of exhaustion in my legs by the time I do the Tuesday runs. A pharmacist recommended the "replace recovery" supplement. I don't know if it's really gonna work, but I thought there's no harm trying.

The cod liver oil capsules I've been taking for ages now. When I was a small boy, I took the white liquid form which I hated so much. It really tasted like something rotten. But these days someone finally came up with the idea of producing the orange flavoured type which my JJ is taking on a daily basis.

Soon after I started training for my first half marathon last year, I've been taking the Coenzyme Q10. Apparently it is good for my heart, although I didn't really research deeply into it. I'm just relying on the information given by the pharmacist.

Finally, the SURBEX-ZINC B-complex tablets which I've been taking since last year.

I suppose I don't really need some of them, and it's a bit inconvenient to be taking so many food supplements on a daily basis. However, whenever I travel, I would forgo taking them for a few days. In the mean time, so many friends are trying very hard to ask me to buy other food supplement products. We have many, many of those in the market. They're of course very expensive. One particular product that I keep coming across is spirulina—almost all the direct selling brands are selling it, and of course all of them claim that their spirulina is of the best quality. Not to forget a whole range of herbal food supplements which are all "pure", yet they come in capsule or tablet forms. But for the moment, I'd limit my supplements to those above. I just hope that they can actually help to keep my body healthy.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Questionable Interrogation

A couple of months ago, I posted Dirty Harry & His Doctors. It is a known fact that our police interrogators have a strange method of conducting their business. Maybe they're just tired people who're not so keen on wasting their time on futile interrogations when all they're gonna get are denials or information which are contrary to their theories. Therefore the only way to go is to force the information they want out of those in their custody. I suppose that can help to save a lot of time. But sometimes, perhaps they tend to get carried away in their "interrogations" and things can become a bit messy.

However, it seems that such conduct is not only limited to the police force. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) folks are also adopting the same approach in their interrogations. And unfortunately, not only suspects are subject to such treatments—even those who're called in to assist in their investigations are also given the same treatment. [The Star]

Having been involved in a corruption investigation some years ago, I'd like to share a bit of my experience to my readers. But my own experience concerned the Anti-Corruption Agency in Brunei, not here in Malaysia.

There was once when we prepared a report for a bank in Brunei. The officer in charge of that case instructed us to prepare the report as one of the requirements for a loan application. However, after the report was completed and duly sent to that officer, she called me up, saying that the loan application was rejected somehow. Therefore, she said that we had to cancel our invoice. Generally speaking, when preparing our reports, we do not guarantee that our reports will certainly support the loan applications; and our reports, once delivered together with our invoice, shall be settled regardless of whether the deal goes through or not. However, because of our relationship with the bank, and the goodwill with the officer, I was willing to withdraw our report.

It turned out that our reports were never returned to us. And it was not until some years later when I found out that the loan application did go through. The client had written out a cheque to the officer in her name, and she was supposed to settle the "processing expenses" for the loan. But instead of paying the consultants, she pocketed the money for herself!

When I found out about this, I wrote a formal letter to the bank and raised the issue to the top guy in the administration. The bank embarked on its own investigations and they eventually found out the truth. The officer was accordingly fired and a report was then lodged to the Anti-Corruption Agency against the officer.

I was called up shortly after that to attend an interview to assist the folks at the Agency. I arrived there one afternoon and was made to relate what had happened. An officer then recorded in writing what I said and, after about an hour, gave me the opportunity to reread my own story before requesting me to sign the document.

The former bank officer was taken to court, and she hired one of the famous lawyers in Brunei at the time. But because the evidence against her was overwhelming, she eventually decided to plead guilty.

The treatment I received from the officers at the Agency was very good, and I must say that it's so far beyond my expectation. But of course I was not giving information that would make or break a politician. Maybe if it were so, I might have been treated differently—I don't know.

In contrast, the MACC had subjected the late Teoh to interrogation from 7pm up to the wee hours of the morning. In my opinion it is a very harsh treatment given to someone who's not even a suspect, but only there to "assist" in the investigation. For such a long duration, there must be many, many questions they had asked the poor fellow. On the surface of it, it does seem strange that anyone would kill himself immediately before his wedding day. [The Star]

Never mind if he was physically tortured or not; whether it's suicide or murder. I think the MACC should seriously consider conducting their interrogations during office hours to start with. Now Malaysia wants to know what actually happened to Teoh.

I doubt that we're ever gonna get the real story, but I can't wait to see how the MACC is gonna explain itself. It should be interesting.

UPDATE (1:25pm 18 July):

The wave is getting bigger now—in fact it may even turn into a great tsunami. So many blogs across the nation have made entries about this same story. And inevitably there're so many theories and opinions:


As usual, RPK is quick to capitalise on news such as this. I'm OK with that. I do read his articles every now and then, and I've found them to be quite entertaining. But although I find the circumstances surrounding the death of Teoh Beng Hock very strange, I think RPK is just too reckless in these paragraphs:

"They threatened to kill him if he refuses to talk. With tears running down his cheeks he begged for mercy and pleaded with them not to harm him. They threatened to throw him off the top floor if he refuses to talk. Sobbing like a baby he went down on his knees and begged for his life.

They dragged him across the room and opened the window. Then something went terribly wrong. It was supposed to be just a threat. They just wanted to put fear in him. They did not really want to throw him off the top floor. They just wanted him to see what the ground floor looks like from the top floor.

The unfortunate young man panicked. He went ballistic when he saw the distance he would have to travel before hitting the ground floor. He struggled. They could not hold onto him. Gravity took over and the life of this young man was prematurely snuffed out."

These are NOT facts. Keeping an open mind, I'd like to see material evidence before I can accept this kind of theory. I think RPK should make it clear that these are only his hypothesis. And if it really happened as described in these paragraphs, then he should furnish his readers with solid evidence. I think he should refrain from creating unnecessary confusions.


Earlier I said it's strange that a man would take his own life on the eve of his wedding. It is even harder to believe, now that it's revealed that his wife to be is expecting the arrival of his child in 7 months' time. What a misfortune that has overtaken Soh Cher Wei the bride to be. It pains me terribly to read about her; and I am truly touched by her decision to keep the baby after all. My respect and admiration for her courage. My condolences to her and hope she will find strength to weather this difficult time.


And this is a screen shot of the online New Straits Times just shortly ago (click on the picture to get a clearer view). As you can see, a few days after the death of Teoh Beng Hock, the Selangor Police Chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar finally announces the cause of death. He does not rule out foul play. I wonder how many people didn't already know that since a few days ago...

But I am confident that the Selangor Police Chief will make more announcements soon—I mean about things that we don't already know. Keeping my fingers crossed...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Blast From The Past

"People in the Philippines are proficient in English, but many landed up only as maids"

—Kulim Bandar Bharu MP Zulkifli Noordin [The Star]

The Kulim Bandar Bharu MP doesn't seem like a very bright chap; he has probably just arrived from several generations ago in a time travel machine—perhaps a blast from the past. He argues his case like a high school kid. One has to wonder how he got elected in the first place. And unfortunately, there are many such creatures who're supposed to bring change for the better, so that we the rakyat can progress.

I will admit that I am not a big fan of Filipina maids. In fact, I've mentioned elsewhere that I don't think I'd ever employ a Filipina as my maid. However, when making the comparison, MP Zulkifli should compare apple to apple. When talking about maids, he should've focused the comparison to those within that group of employment. And had he done that, he would have realised that the English-speaking maids can usually earn higher than their non-English-speaking peers. So, for example, if one were to compare between, say, an Indonesian maid who can't speak English and a Filipina maid who speaks English, the latter usually commands a higher bargaining position.

When talking about professionals, such as doctors and engineers, he should've confined his comparisons to those within those respective professions. And again he would've realised that, in the global sense, those professionals who can speak English would have an advantage over those who can't. Closer home, if I have to choose between 2 candidates applying for a job in my firm, I'm afraid there is a general preference for the one who is proficient in English for obvious reason.

The Chinese people have learned the art of adaptation. If we are required to learn Bahasa Malaysia to survive, then we will learn it somehow. If survival lies in the direction of the English language, then we shall find ways to learn that language too. If there is livelihood in the learning of Jawi as proposed by MP Zulkifli, I'm sure we will be able to conquer that too. But to be quite honest, I can't see how Jawi is gonna help us improve our saleability in the job market—either locally or globally, so I for one will not put my child through a useless endeavour. Maybe Jawi is very good for the Muslim kids for religious purposes. But "returning the practice of writing Malay in Jawi"? This fellow ought to be kidding me!

The only consolation is that the MP also called the Government to make English a compulsory subject. So I suppose at least he acknowledged that English is still important for the next generation.

At any rate, it is scary to see the kind of people whom many Malaysians are hoping to bring change. Maybe we should all think again very carefully if we really know what kind of changes these people have in mind.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Last night I decided to watch Twilight. I had intended to watch only a few minutes of the movie while I unwind to get ready for bed, as I've heard from some friends that it's not a particularly good movie—they said that there's nothing special in it. Unfortunately, my curiosity got the better of me and I ended up watching the whole movie. By the time I got into bed, it was almost midnight.

When the alarm clock rang at 5am this morning, I had to drag myself out of bed. I was still feeling tired and sleepy, but I had to go for my long run at the Likas jogging track. And today, according to the training programme, I had to do 20km.

At times like this morning, I felt like giving my long run a miss. It's not like I'm aiming for a big prize money or fame. In fact, if I can finish the 42km on October 11, I'd be getting a finisher medal and probably a T-shirt with some fancy words on it so that I can boast to some friends that I've run the marathon. It seems like so much agony to go through for such a small returns. The training can be quite punishing most of the time, and each time I do the long run I really have to struggle to complete it!

This will be my very first full marathon, and I don't know if I am ever gonna do it again if I can conquer it this time round. I suppose if my body allows me, I will keep it going. It's a great challenge and it's just not like me to give up so easily. If I must, I will limp or crawl to the finish line.

I bumped into an old school mate this morning at the jogging track shortly after I completed my 20km. I hadn't seen him in ages. He was doing his brisk walking together with his kids. We started talking about the good 'ol days in school and then we finally talked about the inevitable subject—that I'm running my first full marathon this year. He gave me that look, if you know what I mean.

He said, "Cornelius, you should realise that you are not young any more. You're, what, in your mid-forties now? It's not such a good idea to pick up this marathon thing at this age. If you must try, you should've done it years ago." And then he added, "You should learn to know your limitations at your age."

Well, I suppose he has a point there. Obviously I can't compare myself to those teenagers who never seem to run out of energy for this kind of activities. And I have nothing to prove, really. Who knows, I might just drop dead from exhaustion one of these days.

Then again, I thought to myself, if he can do it at his age, then I should at least try to do it too. If I can achieve 10% of what he has achieved, then I would consider that I have achieved a great deal.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pleasant Surprise

It was shortly after the lunch break this afternoon when I got a pleasant surprise from my staff at the office. They brought in a huge durian cake (not just durian-flavoured; it was really durian—its main ingredient was durian!) with a candle on it into my office while singing the Happy Birthday song.

I don't think I have ever had a surprise birthday cake in my entire life before this, especially from my staff at the office. What's even more fantastic was that the cake had a "We Love You" on it. I've been trying to be kind to all of them all these years, but I didn't know that they actually love this boss. I hope they really meant it (smile).

However, although most people, when caught in such a situation, would probably become overwhelmed by emotions—perhaps even becoming dramatic with tears and all that—I did not cry. Not even close. Maybe that had a lot to do with my confusion with this whole surprise idea. You see, the fact is that my birthday falls on the 24th of this month. That's 2 weeks from today!

For a very brief moment, I thought I'd forgotten my own birthday and got the dates wrong by a margin of 2 weeks! I actually took out my identity card and showed it to my staff, some of whom insisted that my birthday is on the 12th of this month (this coming Sunday). But when they saw the information found on my identity card, they were convinced that their boss is still not senile—at least not yet!

Upon further investigations, it turned out that they were mixed up between my birthday and Mia's. You see, July is a very significant month for my household. Mia's birthday is on the 12th. JJ's on the 13th, and mine's on the 24th. And of course not forgetting the wedding anniversary on the 4th. So all these dates are within the month of July. See? I can still remember these important dates!

I couldn't decide whether I was more surprised by the mistaken date or the durian birthday cake. In the end, I told my staff I'd photocopy my identity card and paste it on the notice board near the tea room, so that if they ever want to plan anything like this again in the future, they will at least get the date right.

Anyway, the cake was brilliant! I don't mind to have a second celebration in 2 weeks' time (smile). Well, it seems that I have turned 44 two weeks earlier. So I'll have to wait a little longer than a year before I can celebrate my 45th birthday.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I am fairly certain that most people must have predicted that the government would make the about turn in policy relating to the teaching of maths and science in Malaysian schools.

About a month ago, I posted "Shocking Revelation?" in which I discussed the issue of making English a must-pass subject in our schools. When I ended that post, I expressed my doubts if it will ever happen.

I suppose if the government continued with the policy of the teaching of maths and science in English, many of the rural kids will be disadvantaged, because we just don't have enough teachers at the moment. The kampung kids will probably do badly in school; and then maybe the Bumiputras including the Malays, Ibans, Dayaks, Kadazans, Muruts etc will also find it very tough. The poor grades would look bad on the education ministry. That is certainly a no-no. Meanwhile, those rich and powerful poeple sitting in high office will send their children to foreign schools and universities.

However, it seems that there will be more emphasis in the English language from now on. Just imagine how serious the government is—they're increasing the English hours for matriculation students by a whopping 100%! Which means the poor kids will now have to struggle with 6 hours of English each week! I'm sure that can help a lot in improving their English command. I'm not sure if the government is still pursuing the "must-pass English" issue.

Well, looks like I'll have to start saving even more so that when my JJ grows up, hopefully I would have enough savings to send her abroad too. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise. It is good that the majority of Malaysians can't handle English, so that the few that can can become the sought-after people in the job market in time to come.

But that is of course assuming that the government will not make yet another about turn after the year 2012. They have the habit of doing that, you see. They keep coming up with new policies which are not really new. And now that we have a new policy in our education system, we can all look forward to better performances from the kids. But of course whether or not their certificates will be of any use remains to be seen.

Monday, July 6, 2009

God, Religions & Faith

SOME of my readers don't necessarily agree with my views, and although most of them don't comment in this blog, they do write to me occasionally via emails. Some of those emails in the past have led to interesting debates, whereas others were just plain criticisms with no room for discussions.

Amongst others, I've been severely criticised because of my views on religions in general. At other times, I have also been criticised because of my other opinions which were closely related to religious issues such as this and this. Every now and then, some new readers would stumble upon these articles, and then decide to write to me about them.

I have, through my replies to some of my readers, explained my position as far as God, religions and faith are concerned, but perhaps in the hope of sparing myself from repeating my explanation to some of my readers over and over again via emails, I thought maybe I might as well do it openly here now.

Firstly, the all important topic—God. I can't help but feel that my readers are unaware of my belief as far as God is concerned. Some of you have written to me, trying very hard to convince me of the existence of God. To be quite honest, I'm unsure of God's existence up to now. And therefore, I don't believe in religions—all of them. However, I'm inclined to believe in a creator. If that creator is God, then I suppose I do believe in God. My belief in a creator is not based on actual proof of his existence—I have never seen God with my own eyes, but I'm just guessing His existence based on indirect "evidence".

I see life, this world, everything in this universe as something which cannot happen by accident. Don't get me wrong, I am a believer of evolution. I'm convinced that it's absolutely possible that when some atoms react with each other at the right temperature, pressure and other conducive conditions, it is possible to create, say, a molecule. It is then possible for those molecules to react with one another to form other compounds, say amino acids. Futher reactions probably can lead to the formation of proteins and so on and so forth. It may take thousands and thousands of years, or even millions of years to form an amino acid. That is OK, I can accept it. All this can happen by accident. But then life is a bit different. I somehow can't believe that life happened by accident. Looking at the complexity of life—even that of a bacteria—I'm guessing that it must have happened by design—not out of a series of accidents. That's why I can believe in a creator. However, I have no material proof of it. I only believe it out of faith that it must be so!

Secondly, as far as religions are concerned, I must admit that I don't believe any of them. The Gods of the religions are essentially conceited beings who crave to be worshipped. At least that's how I see it. The Gods of the religions tell their subjects that they will be welcomed into heaven, but only if they followed the rules. And the most important rule of all is to accept God; to love him unconditionally, to fear him and worship him. If this all-important rule is not adhered to, then the kingdom of heaven will be out of the question, no matter how kind-hearted you are throughout your lifetime!

The Gods of the religions are also conceited in another sense. He has a strange habit of testing the loyalty of his subjects, which in itself is strange, because it has been said that God knows everything. If He knows everything, why then is there a need for him to test? There is no need, for example, for him to put the tree of knowledge in the garden of eden to test the weak humans. With his powers alone, he would have known the outcome of that test without actually carrying it out. Why the test? Why all the drama with the serpent who seduced Eve? Why all the complications? This kind of behavior seems too vulgar and does not ring true to the quality of an almighty and loving being.

No—if there is a God, I don't believe that he is the one who's found in any of the religions, though I'm not ruling out the possibility that I am wrong! This is of course just my own opinion and I accept that most of my readers disagree with me.

Thirdly, my views on religions—am I saying they're useless? No, I'm not saying that at all. I think religions are useful to many people. I have seen how religions have helped some people in the moments of trials and tribulations. Religions are also a good source of guidance to some people who're "lost". In some cases, people have told me that they gained strengths from religions. So all these must be sufficient to support the argument that religions are important to many, many people.

In fact, I myself learned a thing or two from religions. But I take only those which I think I can accept. Of the rest, I put big question marks on them. It's not so much that I'm challenging the truth; rather I'd prefer to trust myself instead of surrendering totally to faith.

Finally, the most important question that some people never failed to ask me: IF I am compelled to choose a religion, which one would I choose? And my answer has always been the same—without any doubt, I would choose Christianity. Don't get me wrong though, I don't believe many, many things found in the Bible—I hope the Christians won't hate me for this! And I have found many good teachings in other religions too. But I would still choose Christianity because many of the teachings in the Bible are similar to those of my life principles.

Palliative Care Association Charity Treasure Hunt—An Update

Well, folks, a little less than 3 weeks to go for the Palliative Care Association Treasure Hunt. Been meaning to update you people a bit about this hunt, but haven't found the time to do so, until just shortly ago when I received an email from Claire Chin, who's virtually the best hunter in the whole of Malaysia. She told me to do some promo for this hunt. And so here I am obeying her!

Firstly, the entry fee for this hunt has been revised in the hope of attracting more teams to participate. It is now set at RM300 per team. But if only two members to a team, then the entry fee is RM200.

Secondly, the official venue has been moved to 1Borneo. So now we're gonna start and end there. The briefing, however, will be conducted at the office of the Palliative Care Association on the day prior to the hunt.

Thirdly, the cash prizes remain the same at the top, i.e. RM2,000, RM1,000 and RM600. But I was just informed by Ellen Yee shortly ago that there are now 2 laptops up for grabs. I don't know if those are meant for the top 2 prizes, but I can't imagine the lower positions will get them, as that would mean the lower prizes will get more valuable prizes! Other than that, there will also be some other merchandises, but I don't have the complete info with me now. More sponsors are also apparently coming in. When I get more information on this, I shall update you all again soon.

Finally, NOW is the time to submit your entry forms. Please don't take forever, folks. The sooner you submit, the better and easier for the organiser to make the proper arrangements. Some of you can expect my call soon!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Strongest & Fittest

It has always been the case in the animal kingdom that the strongest and the fittest will become the ruler. I suppose that is the intention of nature. In a pack of wolves, for example, the strongest and fittest male will be the ruler; and he will also earn the automatic mating right for all the famales of that pack. In such a way, the strongest and fittest genes will be passed down to the next generation. And the cycle will repeat itself in all of the subsequent generations. The "weaker" genes have only a remote chance of passing down to the next generation.

Eons ago, humans used to behave in much the same way as animals too. The strongest and the fittest usually became the ruler. And—yes, he usually had many spouses too. Or if not spouses, at least many, many concubines. Whoever tried to go against his wishes would be executed. Everyone must obey!

Over the ages, as we became more and more civilised, we began to change our ways—we've come up with elections to choose our leaders. Today, most leaders of the world are not the strongest and fittest of their people, though hopefully they are the cleverest of their respective communities. If these people fail to deliver the expected performance to their people, then they can be voted out of office and other people will become the leaders.

Unfortunately, not all of us are civilised people—some of us are still behaving like animals. We fight and kill to become the leaders of our people. No one should get in our ways; otherwise he or she will be executed. And then in such a community, there are always a few of these people who would fight to death to become leaders. In the good old days, we used spears and swords; then we used guns and cannons; and now we're using automatic weapons, bombs and other hi-tech weaponry.

As these strong soldiers in big boots fight with each other, with bombs exploding all over the land, thus destroying properties and killing lives, it's always the women, children and elderly who will suffer the most. The masterminds of the fightings will come up with winning formulae on how to overcome the opposing sides. The winning party will become the ruler; the losing party will start again to fight for the throne. The cycle repeats itself again and again and again...

There are many reasons for the fightings, including for freedom, for the pride of the country and even for religion. While the rest of the world watch in horror, the fightings continue. The people of these war-torn countries have never known the meaning of peace and progress in their lives. They are doomed for hell on earth.

And so, Iraq has finally found the freedom they've been hoping for. The American government has embarked on gradually withdrawing its forces. We, the rest of the world, are watching with fingers crossed. Who knows maybe the Iraqis have learned something. Let's now wait and see if the people of Iraq are behaving like civilised people or like animals.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Core Fitness—After 4 Months

It's been about 4 months since the official opening of Core Fitness in City Mall, KK. I blogged about it shortly before its official opening. Almost every day I noticed that many people are searching the net for information about this fitness centre, and they'd inevitably end up in this blog because of my earlier post.

Today is another one of my short 5km runs which I had planned to do at the Likas jogging track as usual. Although I'm a member of Core Fitness, I haven't been going there for a while now because the weather has been dry and I preferred to run outdoor. It is less boring that way, and I reckoned that it's better to train on the track, for I would get the same condition when running in the Borneo International Marathon 2 (BIM2) in October. However, it was raining this evening, and so I had no choice but to fall back to my backup plan, which is to run on the treadmill in Core Fitness.

Then it occured to me I might as well take the opportunity to update some of my readers, since I can see a fair number of you are keen to know a bit about Core Fitness. So I brought along my camera, and Sam, the business owner was kind enough to allow me to take some shots.

These pictures were taken at around 6:30pm to 7:30pm. I did not do the weights; neither did I join any of the aerobics classes. All I did was to get over with the 5km.

As you can see, most of the treadmills were occupied. But I did not have to wait for too long for my turn. I'd say on average each person would occupy the treadmill for about 15 mins only, and then they would move on to the other machines or aerobics classes.

For those who're not keen for the treadmills, they can also opt for a milder workout on the bikes. I frequently see some people actually reading magazines while working out on the bikes. I'm not sure what are those machines in the background, but I've been referring to them as the striders. Please forgive me if there is a more "formal" name for them.

On the top floor are the weights. When I was younger, I did a lot of weights too, and I'd consider Core Fitness has a complete set of equipments to train the entire body. I just wish that I have the discipline to embark on the weights again. But right now I'm more focused on the running.

And finally, that's good 'ol me in the light blue vest at the start of my 5km run, doing a mild pace of 10km per hour, increasing to 11km per hour after 2.5km. It's considerably easier compared to the 10km I did at the jogging track yesterday evening, especially since I was running on the treadmill. But it's the boredom of the treadmill that's killing the mood!

If possible at all, it'd be good if I can lose, say, 15lbs by the time I get to the starting line of the BIM2 in October. By the way, that vest was the same one given to every runner during the Mizuno Wave Run at Padang Merbuk last year.

And oh! that's my Nike shoes which cost me RM530. I hardly ever put on those adidas adizero these days. After I injured my ankle, I actually went for a footscan and was told that I had flat feet, whatever that meant. And I needed specific shoes for running. The expert wrote out the type of shoes to buy. I went back to adidas to look for them, but the only available ones looked awful—the colours were just too bright for an old man like me. So I had no choice but to broaden my horizon to the Nike store. I did not really believe it at first, but true enough the Nike shoes did my ankle good! And I've since been running with them up to now. The only thing is that I might have to buy another pair by October!