Wednesday, April 27, 2011

For the Love of Nasi Lemak

A few months ago, I posted an article entitled Obesity in Malaysia. In it, I quoted a news article that claims 30% of Malaysians are overweight, and 30% are obese. I went on to discuss my nephew's weight problem and his bad eating habit. Maybe it's me, but whenever I get a chance to meet the boy, I can see him growing sideways all the time. According to my brother, Dennis, a doctor told him that his son is already 14kg overweight now. And the kid is only 10 years old.

Then recently, there's the excitement of monitoring the kind of food they serve in school canteens. Apparently, the authority is trying to curb the problem of obesity among young children which appears to be on the rise. It is thought that if unhealthy foods are removed from the school canteens, that can at least help to a certain extent. I think that's a good idea. In fact, I don't know why no one thought of doing it much earlier than this.

Earlier this year, the Sports Club of my company came up with its own version of The Biggest Loser. Employees who fall within the definition of "overweight" based on this guide are automatically eligible to compete for cash prizes. Briefly, we're using the Japanese definition by referring the to scale of Body Mass Index (BMI). But unlike the TV reality show, we don't hire trainers to help them. So it's entirely up to them to figure out how to lose weight on their own. The weigh-in will be conducted every quarterly, and the person losing the most percentage weight will be declared the winner.

Anyway, coming back to the food found in our school canteens, we now have this hoohahs about the nasi lemak. Although it is obviously not a healthy food, for some curious reasons, some people are not in favour of removing it from the schools' menu. I don't quite understand why it would take a long time to find an alternative snack in place of the nasi lemak. Of course I'd expect a special committee will soon be set up to study the case of the nasi lemak in our schools. We're good with that sort of thing, you see—even nasi lemak requires special investigative research.

However, I'm not saying that I'm against all this. If the nasi lemak issue can only be resolved after an exhaustive "study" by some people who pretend to be "experts" on the matter, then I suppose we will just have to bear with them. But this thing about being overweight is actually not limited to school kids only, you know. Maybe some of the leaders of this nation should also heed the doctor's advice?

Apparently, the Deputy Prime Minister has a special interest in ensuring a healthy young generation in this country. I guess that is logical enough; I suppose a healthy workforce can result in a more productive nation for our future. But I wonder if the Deputy Prime Minister has ever determined what's his body mass index; I bet it'd be interesting to know where on the scale of BMI he is at right now.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Borneo International Marathon—Countdown

This is the final week leading up to the Borneo International Marathon (BIM). This year the race falls on a day that is perfect for the event—it falls on the 1st of May, i.e. Labour Day. And knowing very well the sizzling hot morning sun in KK, it would surely be a very torturous race. The only good thing I can think of is that the following day is a public holiday. So all of us will have an extra rest day after the race.

Incidentally, I was having lunch with Andrew Voon, the Race Director, together with some other friends today. Organising a marathon is no small feat, really. It is just so easy to screw things up like the recent mess in the Energizer Night Race just over a week ago. But having listened to Andrew on his very busy schedule, and the busy days ahead, no doubt, I'm confident that the event is in good hands.

Training has been quite smooth, except for an injury in the arch of my left foot. I think it has something to do with the new adiZero Boston which I bought during the Hong Kong Marathon in February. The adiZero is a good pair of shoes, but somewhat lacking in cushioning. I was, of course, aware of this when I bought the shoes, but I reckoned that I'd trade off the cushion for the lightness of the shoes in the hope of gaining speed. If it's just a matter of half marathon or shorter distances, I think they're just fine. But beyond that distance... well, apparently my left foot couldn't endure it with the adiZero!

I have since gone back to my LunarElite, but I'm afraid it's a bit too late now. So this Sunday, for the very first time, I plan to take pain killers prior to the race. Hopefully, that can help to minimise the torture of the race.

This evening, I ran a slow 5km in Likas. Another 7km run tomorrow; and a final 4km on Saturday morning, and that's all the running for this week before the race on Sunday.

Maybe it's nerves, but I somehow have a bad feeling about this particular race. I remember telling myself that if I could achieved a personal best in the Hong Kong Marathon, then I didn't have to try for another personal best in KK. I would probably wait for another race later this year before attempting another record. But as I get closer to the race, I'm thinking I should at least improve on the 4:36 I set last year. I've made up my mind if I could do a sub 4:30, I'd be happy.

Of course my bet with Dr Peter, my running buddy, is still on. I still want to win, but my priority is to try to at least improve on the 4:36. If I could also beat Peter, that would be the icing on the cake! But I seriously doubt it. Last Sunday, he did a 12km run within an hour fairly easily (I did it in 1:10), so I know I'm in big trouble against him! I'm not throwing in the towel yet; I will try very hard to win, even if it's going to be an uphill task!

In the meantime, I've already started making plans for post-BIM. I recently bought a secondhand road bike from Andrew. I'm venturing into cycling and swimming after the BIM, but I've been told that I'm too late for the Port Dickson Triathlon. However, there will be a KK Cycling Challenge on the same date in KK. So perhaps I can at least join that race.

Obviously, I will be quite hectic in the months ahead. But right now, the focus is fully on this Sunday. All systems go; bring it on!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Pot & The Kettle

"I congratulate the DAP for bringing its racist politics to Sarawak. Before this all races co-operated well with each other for the good of Sarawak. Now we see clearly that the Chinese community in Sarawak has rejected multi-racialism."

—Former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, commenting on the recent election in Sarawak.

For about 22 years, Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the Prime Minister of Malaysia. From the history books, I'm aware of several other people in the driver's seat before him. I'm sure those before and after the good doctor had been contributing, and are contributing in big ways for the good of Malaysia. But I think there is no doubt that, on balance, Dr Mahathir is the best Prime Minister of Malaysia so far.

Dr Mahathir had, and indeed still have, a kind of magical charm when he speaks. Many people who love him can easily be influenced into seeing a square as a circle, and vice versa. When Dr Mahathir speaks, most Malaysians would listen. They may not all agree with him, but they would at least listen to what he has to say. That kind of charm is a very powerful asset to have as a leader.

Although I admire the man, ever so often, I find myself disagreeing with his thoughts; more so when he tries too hard to preach about a policy, whether political or otherwise, which he himself has failed to practise throughout his entire time in office.

He criticizes Democratic Action Party (DAP) for bringing "racist politics to Sarawak". I find it somewhat surprising to read that comment coming from a man who helmed the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) for many, many years. UMNO, by the way, is a party exclusively for Malays, although other bumiputeras of Malaysia can also join.

UMNO, together with its allies including MCA, Gerakan, MIC etc, under the coalition known as Barisan National (BN) has been ruling Malaysia since independence about 5 decades ago. On the other hand, DAP with its allies, PAS and PKR, forming the opposition known as Pakatan Rakyat, has been gaining a bit of grounds in the last general elections; and more recently, the Sarawak election.

Unlike UMNO which can only accept Malays and bumiputeras as its members, DAP can accept practically anyone, though admittedly, I see it more as a Chinese Party rather than a Malay party. Still the fact is that DAP's door is open to all races.

However, even if DAP is only restricted to Chinese membership, at best, Tun Dr Mahathir's comment is a good example of the pot calling the kettle black.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Out-Of-This-World Revelations

I find it quite amazing that the human race is progressing, in terms of acquiring knowledge, at exponential rates in recent years. Just a few decades ago, decent computers were the size of an entire room; mobile phones were only fictional items; we did not know very much about the universe beyond Pluto.

These days, powerful computers are very small and portable; people can surf the net via their mobile phones; and scientists are able to arrive at a learned estimate of the number of planets in our galaxy. Furthermore, they've estimated that there are 500 million planets in our galaxy alone which are potentially habitable. Amazing when you come to think of the scale of progress we've achieved within just the last 50 years!

If we can keep it going for the next 50 years—and I can't see why not—imagine how much more knowledge we would've gained by then. Although it's rather too ambitious, it's not impossible to send manned spacecrafts out to at least the planets within our own solar system. Who knows, maybe we would've progressed so far in genetic science by then to the extent that we're able to expand lifespan to a few hundred years for each human; which in turn can make space travel possible. Either that or we're able to invent very fast spacecrafts to cut down travelling time. In fact, it's entirely possible that geneticists could play around with the human DNA for a bit so that they could, for example, make the brains of politicians grow in the skull instead of the rectum. The way I see it, the possibilities are limitless!

But of course not all of us will progress so quickly. As I have said before, not all of us are born geniuses. Some of us are still preoccupied with our little world under the coconut shell; our visions are limited to the size of that shell. These creatures invest their time analysing seemingly petty matters, and then arrive at unfathomable conclusions. They see elements of Christianity in the poco-poco and deem the dance haram to the Muslims. Maybe they, too, can get some help from the geneticists I speak of in the preceding paragraph, I don't know.