Saturday, October 30, 2010

[Fictional] Election Pledge

"Thank you very much to you all for coming to this gathering today. My name is Ansari Abdullah, and I am representing Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) in the coming by-election to be held next week.

I am sad to note that the BN Government had failed to deliver on their promises made to the people of Batu Sapi during the last general election. Hence, I stand before you here today to offer my services to you all; to bring developments into Batu Sapi, improve the economic situation for the local folks, more infrastructure, create job opportunities...

But above all of those, if I were voted into office, god dammit, the first thing on my agenda is to do my best to fight for allocations to refurbish all the jetties and wooden bridges in Batu Sapi..."

—MP wannabe: Ansari Abdullah

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Challenging Parking

Some people are not born to park cars. They may have been driving for years, but they'll never learn how to park their cars properly like the rest of the world. Upon arriving at the car park, they will search for the emptiest area. They will try their best to avoid a single empty spot because of course it's just impossible for them to maneuver their cars into that space—not in their wildest dream! How they got their driving licences has always been a big mystery.

Either that or they are colour-blind—they're unable to see those yellow lines, at least 4 to 5 inches wide, which clearly indicate where the vehicle should be parked. It's fine with me if it's very easy to find parking spaces in the city. But it absolutely drives me up the wall when I'm having trouble looking for an empty spot, and then see one car occupying 2 parking lots.

But this morning, I arrived a little early. So I was able to secure a nice spot where I was able to park my vehicle inside the yellow box, like how it's supposed to be done. I bet those who arrived a little later, and had no more space to park their cars, would have been frustrated to see such a waste caused by the idiot.

Mathematical Confusion

For some years after the Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM), a long time ago, I was teaching maths and science in a private school. And apart from my day job, I also went from house to house in the evenings on my motorbike to give private tuition for the same subjects.

Those days, maths used to be a tough subject, and the majority of students had difficulties to conquer the subject. The lower levels of maths were still OK, but when it came to algebra and trigonometry, calculus etc, many students would be in trouble. So in a way, people like me used to be sought-after those good old days.

That was the situation over 20 years ago. I'm aware of the many changes in the Malaysian education system since my day in school—the subject had been taught in Malay, and then in English for some years, and then now coming back full circle to be taught in Malay again. But this should not be alarming; our politicians have it all covered.

In spite of those changes, one thing did not really change—some people are still awful in maths. And what's more, they are "high-ranking people" too! Check out the following video clip, which—just in case you're wondering—is not an extract of a comedy show. It is an actual, serious, event, mind you!

OK, now let's do a bit of elementary calculations (and try to refrain from reaching for that calculator).

Total number of voters = 49,750

Half of that amount = 24,875

Amount required to secure a simple majority in the election = 24,875 + 1 = 24,876

Number of Malay voters = 32,000

And 70% of that is (70/100) x 32,000 = 22,400

If 70% of the Malay voters vote for BN, and none of the Chinese and Indians vote for BN (since BN does not need the Chinese and Indian votes), BN would get 22,400 votes, assuming no spoilt votes. That is still 2,476 votes (24,876 - 22,400) short of a guaranteed majority.

It would be very interesting to know how would the speaker respond if the Chinese and Indians were to gang up against BN and field only one candidate to represent the Chinese and Indians. Perhaps then he would hope for 2,477 spoilt votes, and all of those are of the Chinese and Indian voters.

The moral of the story, folks, is that maths is important not only for the scientists and accountants. Even politicians also need to know at least a bit of high-school maths.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reaching for Greater Heights in Batu Sapi

Since the announcement of the respective candidates who're vying for the Batu Sapi seat a few days ago, our local papers have been reporting on the progress of the by-election on a daily basis. Naturally, those reports were complemented with photographs. And of course the majority of those photographs were those of Datin Linda Tsen Thau Lin, the grieving widow of the late Datuk Edmund Chong, the candidate from the ruling Government.

The government is of course pledging to the Sandakan folks to deliver even better governance and bringing Sandakan to greater heights—even much higher than all those raised hands in the photos.

I'm thinking—when the whole thing is over, heavens forbid, the ruling government will recapture the Batu Sapi seat, and the poor widow can take a few days' leave to rest her sore arms.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Politicians & Fishermen

Subsequent to the recent death of an MP from the ruling Government, Datuk Edmund Chong, the scene is now set for a by-election in Batu Sapi. All those who're vying for the seat, especially the respective supporters in Sandakan must be on their toes right now. And they will all be working very hard for the next 10 days or so.

In the mean time, in the front page of the The Borneo Post today, is the announcement of a whopping RM4.41 mln allocation meant for non-Muslim religious bodies and Chinese schools in Sandakan. I can just imagine that the Sandakan folks are eagerly waiting for whatever other similar announcements by the Government over the next few days. That is after all quite a normal trend whenever there is a looming election in Malaysia.

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to spend some days on a fishing trawler, and I pride myself with the experience of living—at least for those few days—like a fisherman.

Come to think of it, politicians and fishermen are not very different from one another. The fishermen on the fishing trawler had this huge net which they trawl for hours at a time. And each time the net's raised, the catch could come up to tons.

I was intrigued watching the fishermen weaving gigantic nets from tiny shreds of fibres and strings. And after a few weeks all those strings and fibres almost magically transformed into huge nets weighing perhaps several tons each!

The politicians also weave nets. But they don't really use strings and fibres as their raw materials. No—they use other materials which are sweeter and much stronger motivations to lure their catch. And of course the party with more resources will have better chances to weave bigger and stronger nets. So he weaves a bit of this and that into a huge net, and hopes that the net is strong enough to hold the entire catch.

However, sometimes the fishing net might tear in spite of its strength, and some of the fishes might escape. Thankfully, that doesn't happen very frequently, especially if the net maker is an extremely good one. Besides, as strange as it may seem, the fish will never learn—they keep going into the net, generation after generation. History has a strange tendency of repeating itself. And the fishermen shall continue to earn their living.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Drugs Warning

I was going around to take some pictures of signboards meant for the treasure hunt next Friday, when I saw this interesting sign. It made me laugh in my car. If anyone had seen me then, maybe they'd think that there was laughing gas in the car.

Not exactly in perfect English—perhaps there's still room to improve, grammatically—but I suppose we can more or less get the idea of the warning. A good example of the "Communicative English", i.e. if you can understand it, then the sign has served its purpose.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

BM Quiz

If you think I sound like I would rather home-school JJ if I had a choice, that's because I would really do that if I had a choice. But unfortunately, both Mia and I are working full time. However, whenever it is exams time for JJ, Mia would actually take a few days off from work to supervise JJ's revisions. I don't think that's entirely necessary, but Mia would panic if JJ gets a red mark on her report card.

Tomorrow will be the Bahasa Malaysia (BM) papers, and so mom and JJ were doing final revisions. I would usually refrain from butting in; merely observe from a distance, and pretend to have no interest whatsoever in what's going on. But sometimes I just can't control myself—I swear to God I try my best, but I'm not successful all the time!

The BM questions these days are more "modern". They are not really about the language; not even about grammar (nahu). No—at times they're about some conceited people trying to force the kids to know about motor vehicles. Bear in mind that we're dealing with 8-year-olds here. And of course we're not talking about just any vehicles—it has to be our beloved Proton cars which are, when looking at the big picture, not really something we can be proud of. Even an MP from the government is not very impressed with the Proton cars [The Star].

Here's a sample question from JJ's book which caught my attention this evening. If you are viewing this in an average-size monitor, then that's about the right size of how it appears in the book. And yes, it is in black and white too. As you can see from the available choices, A to D, Mitsubishi Lancer is most certainly not the answer. I will leave it to you to pick the correct one. Good luck.

As for JJ, she has gone to bed. She's been revising the whole afternoon and this evening, with a one-hour break for her compulsory afternoon nap. I hope she has done enough for tomorrow. Perhaps the examiners will save the questions about, say, Malaysian Airlines System (MAS) and the likes for next time. Keeping my fingers crossed...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Home Security System

During yesterday's long run, Dr Peter and I had some interesting discussions about a variety of issues, ranging from professional negligence to kidnapping cases. And when we were passing the Kingfisher area, he suggested that I keep an eye open for naked bodies in one of the drains along the roadside. This was in connection with the recent gruesome murder of a local nurse, whose partially-nude body was found in a drain within the vicinity. This conversation with Dr Peter was during the earlier part of the run, before he left me behind about 23km into the 30km workout.

To detour from the main point of this post for a moment, a friend had commented that he hoped that the police would catch the murderer and bring him to justice. I replied that the truth of the matter is that there's no such thing as justice—even if the murderer is caught, someone has been robbed of her precious life and many more whom she could have saved as a nurse.

Anyway, Dr Peter and I arrived at the topic of home security system—specifically, alarm systems. Perhaps I should seriously consider installing some sort of alarm system at my home. I don't know why I haven't done that since years ago. It seems that everyone has been telling me to install it, but I've been putting it at the bottom of my "to-do" list.

To be quite honest, I did visit a so-called specialist dealing with home security systems a while back, and I was amazed by the wide variety of hi-tech equipment available in the market these days. Depending on the quality and functions etc, these equipment can easily burn holes in one's pocket. We're not only talking about plain alarms with potentially-annoying sounds in the middle of the night when the neighbour's cat tries to catch a mouse on the window ledge. The system also includes other accessories which can send signals to the home owner's cellphone when the house is broken into.

Apart from that, if the home owner has too much money, he can also install CCTV so that he'll be able to see the burglars in action while trying to break into his house. Whether or not he can do anything about those burglars is a different matter. And of course sometimes CCTVs are installed mainly for the fun of installing them—not so much for the purpose of hoping to be of any help when crimes are committed, as can be seen in this case. Think about it—the CCTV could be used to observe a crime being committed, but no recording of that crime is made. Not exactly a very clever thing to do. But then again even hotel owners, although rich people, are not necessarily very clever people, you know.

Frankly, it's not really a question of affordability, but I've been putting the home alarm systems thing on the back burner mainly because I'm not convinced that spending the money can really help to burglar-proof my home. And when it comes to the CCTV, even if there are proper recordings of crimes in action, that still can't help to nab the criminals. If you don't believe me, check out my past article here.

Having said that, however, in the end I have to concede to Dr Peter. When and if the alarm goes off, it's not really about us reacting to fight off the burglars. It's more about psychologically shocking and, hopefully, scaring them away. It is hoped that that can help us to buy a bit of time to call for assistance.

So I will make it a point to seriously look into installing security alarm in my home. What of CCTVs? Well, that will simply have to wait for the moment. There will be many more long Sunday morning runs with Dr Peter. Who knows, maybe he will be able to convince me to install those too.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Learning a New Language

It is no secret that Malaysians in general are not so good in the English language. Most of them believe they are, but actually they're not. That's the result of several decades of teaching what's known as the "Communicative English" in our schools. In learning the "Communicative English", the emphasis is on whether others can understand what we're saying. Very little emphasis, if any, was given to grammar or spelling etc. I'm not very sure if there was any stress on the accuracy of communication.

I recently spoke to a University Graduate who's presently pursuing a Masters in a local University. I found out from her that it's basically the same story even for the Masters level, i.e. not so much emphasis on grammar.

Unfortunately, in the job market English is an asset. The medium of communication is still overwhelmingly English. A few years ago, the Malaysian government made English the medium of instruction for maths and science, but it soon became clear that some people could not cope with the language.

So what happens when it's difficult to learn an important language? Why, of course the simplest thing to do is to reverse the policy! So, not surprisingly, maths and science are now taught in Malay—again.

As one would expect, many parents are concerned that their children will find it very tough when they enter the job market in the future. There is no question that English is important, even if some people would not admit it.

And so, we can now see so many people offering English lessons. I don't know about the other parts of Malaysia, but in KK, one is able to see "English Tuition" advertisements on almost every lamp post in the city these days. Check out the photo below, which I took near my office in KK.

There are many, many other advertisements of numerous sizes and patterns of course. And some of them also include other information and perhaps justifications why English is important. Such is the case with the advertisement below.

I shall refrain from arguing the claim of "Good English Good Job", simply because that is the absolute truth, although, to repeat, some people would not admit it. Apart from becoming eyesores, I can live with these advertisements. I just wished that they—whoever these people are—would advertise properly, such as in the papers.

Admittedly, I myself am a product of the Malaysian education system, and it is unfortunate that I am still not so good in English. I've not contacted any of those people who offer to teach English, but I suspect they, too, are products of the great Malaysian education system. If my suspicion is correct, then there is every possibility that these people are not really qualified to teach the language! For the English that they know is the "Communicative English", which is, for the most part, plain rubbish!

In the above advertisement, below those words "Good English Good Job", there are dark-coloured ovals, each containing justifications for learning the language. The grammar is just awful to say the least. One of them says "Self-Confident". I don't have an English degree, but I like "Self-Confidence" much better. A tiny little difference which does not really matter for "Communicative English". In fact, I wonder if the teacher knows the different [difference] at all?

And finally, I can't resist, as always, to quote yet again one of JJ's school work. This one from her recent mock exams. Part F instructs: "Use all the words below to make one correct sentence." What do you make of it? Apparently, all of her sentences are wrong.

Check out, for example, Question 2. The words which are required to appear in the sentence are "sat" and "tree". And JJ, referring to the picture on the left, came up with:

They sat under a big tree.

Again, let me repeat that I don't have an English degree, but I can't see anything wrong with that sentence. Both the words "sat" and "tree" are there. Grammatically, it is also sound. But no, the teacher found the sentence wrong because of a missing "yesterday".

And therefore, JJ got Question 3 wrong too, because although she came up with "He walked near the waterfall," she failed to include something there to emphasize that the event occurred in the past. But emphasis or no emphasis, are those sentences wrong?

I think it is entirely possible that we will come up with a whole new language by the next generation, known as Manglish. And that will be our official version of the English language. The hell with what the rest of the world thinks of our English!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Newton 30km & 18km Challenge 10.10.10

What a race! It's been a few months since I ran the full marathon in the Borneo International Marathon (BIM) in May this year. Since then I have done a half marathon in the Singapore Bay Run about 4 weeks ago. And of course I have done several other half marathon distances during my training long runs. But running a race pace is quite different, at least to me.

It wasn't very long after the BIM in May when some of my runner friends decided to join the Penang Bridge International Marathon (PBIM) on 21 November. Although I've had a lousy experience running the Penang race, Judy and Teo gave mainly good reviews of the race when they joined it last year. So I ended up signing up for the full marathon in Penang.

However, because of the long months between the BIM and the PBIM, I was kinda worried that I would become lazy to keep up my training. So to force myself to maintain my workouts, I signed up for 2 other races in between, i.e. the Singapore Bay Run (21km) and the Newton 30Km Challenge.

When I signed up for those other races, I meant to use them only to motivate me to keep going, not so much to attempt to improve on my records. But unfortunately, I couldn't resist the temptation to try for a record anyway!

In the Singapore Bay Run in September, I barely managed to improve on my personal best (PB), but failed to achieve what I really wanted to do, i.e. to run a sub-2hrs half marathon. Incidentally, the Newton 30km was just 4 weeks after the half marathon. The Sunday immediately after the half marathon race, I ran a 27km long run to try out the compression tights I just bought. It felt great. Then with three weeks to go for the Newton 30km, I had planned to taper down with a scheduled 20km, 12km and then Newton 30km race.

Then the KK adiNation group scheduled a 30km long run on the Sunday when I was supposed to do a 20km taper run. For a while I couldn't decide if I wanted to join my friends in their long run, or just stick to my 20km plan. In the end, I decided to throw away the Newton 30km, and ran a 30km long run training 2 weeks before the race. I reckoned that I did not plan to break records for the in-between races anyway. So I ran that 30km long run, and finally, with one week left for the Newton 30km, I reduced my distance to 10km.

While I was recovering throughout that one week prior to the Newton 30km, however, I became greedy again. It seemed possible to steal a record for the 30km race after all. I felt good, and my legs seemed to be up for the task!

When I arrived in Singapore on Friday evening, I was still convinced that I could improve on my 3:10 which I achieved earlier this year. Then on Saturday morning, I went to the race venue and was pleasantly surprised to find a flat course. My confident rose another notch. I then raised the bar to a 3:05! It is funny what greed can do to people, you know!

Joining me for the race were my friends from KK, Khadeeja and Alvin. That morning, when we set out to the race venue, it was drizzling. I thought it was gonna be a nightmare of wet race. Well, we found ourselves at the race venue with about half an hour to spare.

Apparently, Alvin was somewhat intimidated by all those fashionable running outfits. So he went somewhere to the back to stretch a bit; except that he ended up in a koi pond, soaking both pair of shoes. But I will let Alvin report on that exciting experience.

Anyway, while Alvin was busy trying to dry his socks and shoes, and at the same time considering to pull out there and then, Khadeeja went off to deposit her bag. Soon it was already almost flag off time. The runners made a slow procession to the start line, and I was wondering what has happened to Alvin the whole time. Then the countdown and then the start horn.

I started out strong at a comfortable 5.5 mins per km. I felt good to break away from the crowd. But then after I reached about 5km, I realised that I needed to slow down. Otherwise I would burn out way too soon. Reducing my pace a bit, I ran a steady pace. I was quite happy to finish the first loop of 10km in 59 minutes. But the bad news was that I could already feel a bit of exhaustion building up that early. I knew there and then that I was in big trouble. I would expect to only start feeling tired after 15km-18km for a 30km race, so 10km was obviously too soon.

In between running the loops, I could seen Alvin and Khadeeja running from the opposite direction. I was still gaining on them, but I was also slowing down for a bit. When I completed the second loop in 2:03, I knew that it was difficult to improve on my 3:10.

And then the worst thing that could happen in a race happened at Km 25—I felt a sudden contraction in both thighs. I had no choice but to slow down to a walk. If I had continued running, I bet my legs would immediately refuse to move after that. That then was the story for the rest of the race—I merely walked and ran, and walked and ran to finish the third and final loop in 3:14.

Quite frankly, I can accept that I didn't have it in me to better my time. But I was rather disappointed that it had to happen that way. The cramps spoiled the race for me—it wasn't fun at all. I suppose it's bound to happen once in a while.

What of Khadeeja and Alvin? Well, Khadeeja completed her 30km in 4:25, whereas Alvin completed his in a surprising 3:51. With the little training (if you could call his few short runs "training") I would say he achieved quite a big thing!

So now, I have about 6 weeks to remedy whatever mistakes I've done for Penang. Not much time left. Another 3 weeks of serious training, and then taper for the race. For whatever it's worth, Penang is gonna be much more interesting; I'm running the full 42.2km against an opponent who is as kiasu—if not more kiasu—than me! Whoever wins, there is a lobster in Penang with its days numbered...

Friday, October 8, 2010

30Km Race in Singapore

Well, this is it, folks, this afternoon I'm flying off to Singapore for a 30km race—the Newton 30Km—on Sunday morning. This will be the second time I'm running a 30km race.

The last time I did a 30km race was at Padang Merbok earlier this year, of which I managed a finishing time of about 3:10. I thought that was a decent time, but nothing to shout about. A Singaporean friend of mine told me that the Newton 30km's route is generally flat, so I'm confident of improving on that 3:10. The question is improving by what margin? Well, initially I wanted to make this run a training long run, which means to run it slowly—at any rate, slower than my targeted marathon pace. But then again, you know, I doubt that I can resist the temptation to attempt for a personal best. So I might as well set my mind to try my best to improve by at least 5 minutes!

Although I have done a couple of full marathons and numerous other shorter races, this Sunday will be a historic run for me. For the first time ever, I'll be running in my compression tights! I have tried the tights during a recent 30km long run here in KK, and I felt good in them. I don't really believe that the tights can help in improving one's performance in a race, but maybe it can help to delay the onset of fatigue, I don't know. I'm thinking maybe the only way to find out is to run something longer than 30km, say 35km to really know. Perhaps that experiment running the 30km in KK is not really comparable to the Newton 30km as I did it at a training pace. I did that training run in 3:18, but actually I would have been happier if it was a little slower, say 3:30. I guess I did not have the patience to run slower, and that's something I must improve too. Let's see what happens when I run the marathon pace in Singapore.

Joining me on this run are Khadeeja Shariff and Alvin Wong. Khadeeja is using this race as one of her training long runs in her build up to the Singapore Marathon in December later this year. Whereas Alvin is trying the 30km to experiment whether he's up for a full marathon in the coming Borneo International Marathon 4, scheduled for 01 May 2011.

So it seems that the Newton 30km will be quite an important race for all 3 of us, albeit for different reasons. Wait till I come home on Sunday evening—let's see if I have any good news to report.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Earth-Like Planet

The recent news about the earth-like planet found by astronomers caused a bit of excitement. I dare say it’s scientifically too complicated for my mind to understand, but apparently there are reasons to believe that this newly-found planet is capable of harbouring life.

As we all know, humans have been obsessed with exploring other worlds for possible life forms, even if it’s just a matter of single-cell organisms. Personally, I think with the improvement in technology to probe farther and farther into the universe, it’s just a matter of time before we find life on other planets.

I find it quite amazing that although the newly-found planet above is more than 20 light years away from earth, scientists are able to tell that the planet does not turn—it merely orbits around a dwarf sun. Although conducive to support life, it may be just another barren planet.

But if there’s life thereon, we’re looking at 3 main possibilities:

1) Primitive

I’m not sure what’s the correct scientific term, but I’m using “primitive” to mean creatures in the likes of bacteria and worms. In such a case, humans would probably be happy to prove that we are not alone in this universe. And perhaps that will encourage us to look even harder!

2) Sophisticated

Maybe we can also find a more sophisticated life form including mammals—intelligent ones like us humans. And a wide variety of them too! Maybe they can also think and plan ahead; they can build and invent things. These would be a more interesting find, because who knows, we might be able to exchange ideas or share knowledge to achieve greater things together.

3) Advanced

We may find that the creatures on that other planet are much more advanced than us. Maybe they’re travelling from one galaxy to another like riding in a train on a daily basis. They have much more sophisticated weaponry and defense systems. They are also physically stronger and faster; they can live much longer than us. They have the cures to all the diseases on planet earth.

When and if we find (1) above, that would of course be a major breakthrough for the human race. There is no question that we would want to study the creatures and find ways on how we could use any aspects of that study for our benefits.

But it would be interesting to know what would happen in cases (2) and (3) above. Knowing our nature, I think I can safely say that we would want to learn whatever we can from these aliens. And then where applicable, we may use whatever we’ve learned for our own benefits here on earth. Maybe we’re also willing to trade ideas—we show you ours, you show us yours.

Yes, that would be ideal. Both parties can learn and share from each other, and both can benefit from the knowledge!

But unfortunately, I also know that it’s not in our nature to do that. Empirical evidence had shown us that we are, for the most part, selfish and greedy animals. We can’t resist the temptation to colonize the weaker party. We can’t get along with our own kind; we want to impose our ideologies and beliefs upon others. Throughout the history of mankind, we have always failed to contain our lust for power and wealth. It’s never enough, you see. We go to war; we fight to invade other countries; we want to be the king. We’re willing to go to all ends to satisfy our greed.

That’s why this whole thing about finding alien life form may not be such a good idea after all. I know in the long run we will fail to resist the temptation to colonize the aliens. Except that there is the possibility that the opposite may also be true—that the aliens are like us too; selfish and greedy animals which are unable to control their lust for power.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Model Tenants

About 15 years ago, during the launching of the Grace Court development, I decided to buy a small apartment on the first floor in Block C. Mia did not like the idea, because she said she's not very keen to live in an apartment. I explained to her that I, too, had no intention to live in an apartment. Rather, I foresaw that the Grace Court would become quite sought-after several years down the road, having considered its location within the Sembulan neighbourhood. Reluctantly, Mia went along with my plan. And so we eventually bought a unit there.

All along my main plan was to let out the unit, and it so happened that in the nearby commercial portion of the development, there was a college. And college meant students, i.e. a good source of potential tenants.

I have had several tenants over the years, but I eventually settled on a group of female students from the college. I spent a bit of money to furnish the apartment, e.g. double-decker beds with mattresses, a cheap 21-inch TV, a sofa and dining sets, several desks and cupboards. I also provided a fridge and a cooking stove. On top of that, I was also responsible for water and electricity consumptions, as well as minor repairs. I must say that the rental income has been quite good.

Before I let out the unit, I spoke to some friends who had invested in similar properties. And almost all of them were unanimous in their advice. They advised me to try my best to look for female students. Male students are OK too, but they're likely gonna damage my apartment. According to them, boys are messy creatures; they smoke and create lots of troubles for the neighbours, resulting in many, many complaints. All too scary, you see.

Well, I thought I should heed my friends' advice and took so much pain to look for a group of girls. But to be quite honest, I was never really overly concerned about my apartment. I had planned to improve the condition every now and then, and I had expected that there would be periodic repairs to be carried out. After all, it's not like I had any plans to live there one of these days.

And so, to make the long story short, I managed to find a group of girls. And once the apartment was let, I hardly ever set foot in the unit. Each time I collected the rent, I went as far as the front door, and was only able to get a glimpse of the inside. I had no idea what the rooms looked like. As long as they paid the rents, I was quite happy.

However, those girls eventually finished their studies, and after getting themselves established, they're moving on to buy their own apartments in other areas. So they have given me notice to terminate the tenancy. I of course foresaw this coming, but I was glad that it's been about 5 years since they started occupying my apartment. Last Sunday was the day they were supposed to move out, and I made the appointment to come around to refund their deposits as well as inspect the apartment.

When I arrived at the apartment at around 4pm, they were just about to start packing. Apparently they had an arrangement with a friend who would help them move their stuff with his truck. For the first time in ages, I was able to enter my own apartment to inspect its condition.

Well, maybe it's just me, I don't know, but let me tell you that not all girls are neat and clean. At least not this group of girls! There were scattered private garments all over the place; the messy bedrooms; the horrifying kitchen and bathroom. But of course these girls were moving out anyway, so I guess one would expect the place to be somewhat messy.

Then it occurred to me to check out the fridge. It was still filled with a whole bunch of stuff ranging from unfinished food, drinks and tidbits of probably several months old. At the top most compartment, the thickness of the ice indicated that it's been left that way for ages. And in it was a can of soft drink, opened but unfinished. Although I can't confirm it, I suspect that it's been there in that same position for months. I looked back to the girls who were still sitting on the sofa, totally absorbed in watching their favourite programme on TV, and asked if they would mind if I snapped a photo. They merely burst out laughing.

While I was clicking away with my phone camera, they were kind enough to inform me that they had started to defrost the fridge since morning. So I can't imagine what it was like before they started defrosting the fridge.

And with a bit of effort, I managed to dislodge the famous soft drink to take this photo.

So, folks, if you ever plan to invest in a property and are looking for tenants, don't bother too much with insisting for female, as opposed to, male tenants. It's not really worth the trouble, I tell you!