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Pil Seung

Location: Penang, Malaysia

April 07, 2009

What are your priorities?

When I was waiting for my turn at the dental clinic to have a root canal procedure done a couple of months ago, I happened to pick up a magazine at the waiting area. It really caught my mind but it also made me think. I love to think, to exercise my brain. Most of the people I know are conformists, I found out that I am not. Let me try to recall the story off my memory and share it here.

My recollection is definitely different from the original version. Everyone has the tendencies to add and remove details due to their own experiences. We will talk about "Rashomon" someday.

There was this wandering Buddhist monk who managed to walk a long distance and eventually, saw a big mansion. He thought of asking for assistance from the tenants, maybe just for a glass of plain water, or just for a small shelter to get a few hours of rest before continuing his journey.

He was greeted by an old lady and her daughter-in-law. Apparently, the old lady was the head of the family. Her son went out to do some business. They were in the pearl business as the monk could see. The old lady was counting some pearls at that moment and there was this one big mother-of-all-pearl (not to be confused with nacre or mother of pearl).

As a devoted Buddhist, the old lady was very receptive of the monk and invited him to have a seat. She got her daughter-in-law to go into the kitchen to prepare some tea and vegetarian food. They had some conversations and pretty much centered around the practice of Buddhism, like some kind of questions and answers session.

Out of a sudden, the daughter-in-law called the old lady from the kitchen and the latter went in right away to her assistance, leaving the monk in the hall.

[to be continued...]

March 07, 2009

Great Compassion Mantra (Vajrayana version)

The Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism version of the Nilakantha Dharani (Great Compassion Mantra) is also known as the Arya Ekadasa-mukba Avalokitesvara Dharani (Noble 11-faced Guan Yin Mantra).

Here is one by Ani Choying Dolma on YouTube.

namo ratna trayaya namo arya jyana saigara veirochana
byuhara jaya tathagataya arahate samyaksam buddhaya
namo sarva tathagatebheh arahatebheh samyaksam buddhebheh
namo arya avalokite svaraya boddhisattvaya
mahasattvaya mahakarunikaya
tadyatha om dhara dhara dhiri dhiri dhuru dhuru
itti woe itti chale chale prachale prachale
kusume kusumavare ili mili chiti jvalam apanaya svaha

August 15, 2008


Doraemon was one of my favourite comics when I was a kid. Well, Doraemon is still one of my favourites these days. There is a unofficial "last episode" where Nobita finally grew up. This was told to me by a colleague. I have not see it. Well, the suppressed it due to copyright stuffs.

One fine day, Nobita came back from the school after being scolded by his teacher for not completing his homework. As usual, his mood was not good due to constant bullying by Giant and Suneo. The only thing different on that day was that Doraemon had became "lifeless". Not knowing what to do, Nobita decided to jump into the time machine inside the drawer and consulted Doraemon's younger sister, Dorami.

The day had come. Dorami explained to Nobita that all the amber colour robotic cats have backup batteries located at the ears. Unfortunately, for Doraemon there was none. The ears were bitten off by a rat during the production stage. He will stop working right away when the main battery runs out.

There were two options. Replace the main battery and reset the stalled Doraemon. This would cause all the memories to be wiped off. The "resurrected" Doraemon would never know who Nobita was, and it would be just like a brand new toy. The other option was to have a competent robotic engineer who could map Doraemon memories and at the same time recharge the main battery. This was also not possible in the future world as no one had ever attempted that before.
Nobita cried and cried and cried... and he swore on that very day, he would study hard at school and someday, he would restore Doraemon. 10 years later, Nobita graduated with honours and became an expert in artifical intelligence. He actually hid Doraemon in his closet and even his childhood sweetheart wife didn't know about it. One day, he called Shizuka into the room and they "restarted" Doraemon.

"Nobita, I have been waiting for you all these while!!!", exclamined Doraemon.

By the way, is there any difference if the story line is changed in such a way that Doraemon lost his power gradually by the side of Nobita?

I watched Wall-E recently with my son. At the end, Eve repaired Wall-E and again, past memories are the most cherished things. It would be sad if Wall-E couldn't remember who Eve is.

As the saying goes, memories make the man.

Human being has a great mind that can hold loads of past memories. It is our past experience that mold the persons we are today. Let's say someone calls you on the phone and identifies himself as Golf Sierra. If you have no memories of that person, that name is actually pretty much meaningless. You might think, God damn it! Another telemarketer?

If you recognize the name, the voice, the favourite greetings... Viola !!! Hey Golf Sierra !!! How are you doing ??? It has been such a long long time since we last met !!! The conversation continues...

This "past memories" enable us to recall who taught us ride the bicycle, how to balance ourselves, how many times we fell down. For me, I will think of my dad. You know how to be grateful, and you also know what kind of mistakes to avoid so that you won't hurt yourselves again.

On the other hand, we also have the abilities to filter to even shut down the portions of memories that are traumatic and too painful to remember. We will talk about this Freudian defense mechanisim someday. We have to deal with it. Yeah, also the three stages of delayed grief as I shared with my friend, Juliet Delta Lima recently.

Anyway, as I used to share with friends, "there is no day better than today". Be thankful, cherish everyday. It is easier to say than to do. Practise, practise, practise. Live in the present, as in Vipassana.

August 01, 2008

The Airport

My first business trip to overseas was back in the year 1995 and that was to Bekasi, Cibitung. I have been travelling since then but one thing that forever fascinates me is the airport. That is a place where you might not be able to tell whether it is day or night outside. Another thing is that, you might not have to worry about the local weather at all. Of course, that varies from airport to airport though. This is pretty much the physical side of it. I remember reading an interesting article about the airport. Let me try to recall from fragments of my memory.

The airport is full of emotions. For business trip that lasted for more than 6 months, I took my wife and son along as allowed by the company policy. There was once I had to travel for about 4 months and that trip really trained me to live without my family. Even though we communicated everyday on the phone, you still longed to hold each other. The moment I left the departure hall, I knew the temporary separation might not be easy. After I had my passport stamped, I turned back for a last glance and I found myself crying a little. Maybe that was also due to very good friend of mine actually went on a one-way ticket to perform kidney transplant in China a few months before. Anyway, we really have no contract with whosoever that we will live until certain age.

If we are really observant, we could see the deep emotions people have at the departure hall. Most of the time, people will hug each other more tightly, kiss more affectionately for the very last time, and still we have to let go. At such a moment, all differences, grudges, bad habits are forgotten, "sins" are forgiven, We will really hope that person will not go but that won't happen, so the next best thing we can do will be looking forward to the return. Any disagreements will be settled in exchange for the chance to see each other again.

When we return, after the immigrations and customs, we will be eagerly looking around for the familiar faces that we miss so much. You will just ignore everyone around, hug each others, and start kissing your loved ones. That few seconds feel like the beginning of a new chapter in life. Your loved ones don't mind that your have not taken any bath for the past 2 days. The most important thing is that the meeting is emotionally fulfilling.

Life and death is like the arrival and departure at the airport. Such precious moments are born out of pure love and will be treasured forever. After the departure and arrival, we will be back to our "normal" self and we will not be able to appreciate each other on any normal days. We are taking things for granted until the next "departure".

How wonderful it will be if we can live a life where we can unconditionally love each other on every single ordinary day? How much time have we wasted when we are trying just to win over an argument, being too particular on certain things, being egoistic, "punishing" the other party by not talking to each other, etc.? Life is beautiful and we should not be bother with such trivial things. As Stephen Covey said, let's focus on the big rocks.

It would be great if we can keep reminding ourselves about the airport. Be grateful for every breath we have like the way tzuchi people greet each other, 感恩 (gan en). Look at the positive side of life, compliments, and cherish. Anumodana.

July 25, 2008

Bahasa Malaysia 801

You can be sure that this is an advanced class for genius students. I am sure all of you can be a genius in Bahasa Melayu (Malay language) if you think you can. Sorry, in order to get some votes from some idiots, they keep switching between Bahasa Melayu and Bahasa Malaysia. OK, it is still Bahasa Malaysia as of today. Let's take a look at our best national newspaper, Berita Harian and Utusan Melayu. I am sure we can learn a thing or two, or more if you are willing put in the effort and dedication.

Here are some commonly used words which I think is of utmost importance to learn.

Malay words: Rejim zionis
Translation: Zionist regime (referring to the "unrecognized" government of Israel)
Real meaning: The country that UMNO trusts with their life. Our ever efficient Polis Raja Di Malaysia outsources their complete computer system to them while at the same time condemning Singapore military being training by the Israeli.

Malay words: Agen Yahudi
Translation: Agent of the Jews
Real meaning: Anyone that UMNO doesn’t like will be labeled as such, and will be boycotted automatically by Muslims.

Malay words: Tentera penceroboh
Translation: Trespassing army
Real meaning: The military of the United States of America and its allies.

Malay words: Pengebom berani mati
Translation: Dare-to-die bomber
Real meaning: Men who strap themselves with bombs and blow up innocent people in the name of God and will be rewarded with 70 virgins in heaven.

Malay words: Pengganas komunis
Translation: Communist terrorist
Real meaning: Chinese Malaysian. Thanks to the British who labeled Chinese Malaysians as atheist to prevent Malays (who are Muslims) from uniting with them in the fight for independence after World War II.

Malay words: Media cetak rompak
Translation: Pirated media (such as Audio CD/VCD/DVD, and software as well)
Real meaning: Multi-racial and multi-billion industry with a complete supply chain eco-systems protected by both the underworld and Polis Raja Di Malaysia.

Malay words: Pihan-pihak berkenaan
Translation: Relevant parties
Real meaning: Certain government departments which will not be revealed to the public. The public does not need to know, just let them loot and plunder the country. Shut up!

Malay words: Pihak-pihak tertentu
Translation: Certain quarters
Real meaning: Opposition parties, usually being condemned by the main stream media as trying to destabilize the country.

Malay words: Syarikat Berkaitan Kerajaan (SBK)
Translation: Government-Linked Companies (GLC)
Real meaning: Guaranteed Lose Companies, owned by cronies where the board of directors are spending like there is no tomorrow.

Malay words: Sistem kuota
Translation: Quota system
Real meaning: A system based on "kulitfication" or skin colors, systematically depriving the minorities of opportunities.

Malay words: Direman untuk membantu siasatan
Translation: Remanded to assist in investigation
Real meaning: Scapegoats had been identified based on information from Bomoh Negara.

Malay words: Mat cemerlang (a.k.a mat rempit)
Translation: Excellent Muhammad (Mat is a short form for Muhammad)
Real meaning: School dropouts who do wheelies on public roads, snatch handbags from the public, and at the same time entrusted to maintain law and order by UMNO. Rempit comes from the English words "ramp it".

Malay words: Memperjuangkan nasib bangsa dan agama.
Translation: Fighting for the fate of the race and religion.
Real meaning: Slogan used by UMNO to continue making themselves rich at the expenses of every true Malaysians.

Alright, I think it is enough crap for today. In the next lesson, we will try to look into "tali barut barat", "bahasa penjajah", "kaum pendatang", "melaksanakan kajian", "tidak membebankan rakyat", "kaum kafir", and so on. Stay tuned. Thank God it's Friday.

Beijing 2008 - Eight Don't Ask

OK, here is the "Eight Don't Ask" guide for local Chinese on what not to ask foreigners.
1. income and expenses
2. age
3. love and marriage
4. health
5. family and home address
6. personal experiences
7. religion and political views
8. "what people busy with" (I translated this as jobs, hobbies, where they will go after this, etc.)

I am pretty sure these Chinese people will be dumbstruck seeing such a poster. Why can't we ask such questions to people from countries famous for "freedom of speech"??? We just want to friendly and mean no harm, OK? We thought they can talk about "anything"??? Hahaha!!! Of course, I know the difference between freedom of speech and privacy. But to the Chinese people, this is pretty much a grey area. Anyway, why the Chinese government wants to try so hard on this kind of thing? I thought there is an English saying that sounds, "when you are in Rome, do as the Romans do". One word, the Chinese laobaixing (commoners) will be "baffled"!!! WTF!?

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July 20, 2008

The four most hated questions

My friend, Juliet Delta Lima used to teach English in Beijing for a couple of years. He told me something very interesting many years ago. In China, after getting to know each other names, Chinese people will follow on with 4 questions, the 4 most hated questions which will piss off any Americans. The idea of blogging about this doesn't come until I saw the report on BBC News during the weekend.

Beijingers told to mind their manners.

Wow! They came out with an "Eight Don't Ask" booklet. Hmm... I really want to get hold of it. I am not sure whether they explain the reason behind. Chinese and Americans think very differently and let me try to share from my experience working with both cultures. Well, these are just general views...

1. How old are you?
The Chinese wants to know because if the American is older than him, the latter will be "accorded the proper respect" as in the Chinese culture. On the other hand, the Chinese might be interested to know by what age people can travel overseas. The measurement is that the younger the guy is, the more "successful" he is as there is a Chinese saying which is translated to be "only strong dragons will cross the river".
American doesn't like this as the age is something private, it has nothing to do with his ability to do his job, etc.

2. Are you married?
Married people are basically more senior than bachelors. Again, this is the Confucius teaching about respect. Getting to know people's marital status shows that the Chinese "care".
This is really a tough question for an American. Actually, the Chinese doesn't need the detail, he just wants to know whether he has a wife or not. In reality, American would like to be precise and sometimes it could be really hard to tell that he has just gone through a divorce, widowed, etc. Some are just cohabiting, also known as POSSLQ which is pretty common. The hardest to explain will be the "significant other" thing. OK, try this reply which will definitely give any Chinese a big shock, "我是断背的" (wo shi duan bei de)... bwahahaha.

2A. How many kids do you have?
This is a bonus queston if the answer for question 2. above is "yes". I would say this is Chinese "hospitality" and this kind of question is just part of small talk, not being a busy body at all.
However, Americans might not be comfortable to talk about 2 sons from the ex-wife, a step daughter from the ex-wife who wants to follow him instead of her mum, one daughter he has with the current wife, and a step son from the current wife... very complicated. So, don't ask.

3. What is your weight?
To the Chinese, this is another small talk. Usually, among the Chinese, they will tell each other that they had gained weight as compliments, especially when they haven't met each other for quite sometime. Gaining weight shows that they have "enough to eat". Yes, life is harsh and so, adding pounds or kilograms is being viewed positively.
To the Americans, this question is too personal. Why do you want to know? Damn it! I broke the bathroom scale last night, you know?!!!

4. How much do you make?
This is taboo among the Chinese too. They will not ask each other and even if they ask, the answer is just "I make enough for two meals". You don't have to reveal the figure at all. The main reason the Chinese asking the American this question is to gauge the "opportunity" outside of China. One gallon (3.8 liter) of milk in the United States costs about USD 1.50, which is equivalent to about 10.35 yuan today (using 6.9 as the conversion rate). That amount of money can only buy you a liter of milk in China.
Americans really take offence on this. Don't you know what is "Private and Confidential"??? You idiot!!!

July 16, 2008

The Fear of Being Alone

It is suppose to be bedtime now, but I am still awake. I have been a "thinker" these days and keep wondering what lies ahead in life. With the current changes in life, would it be a bit too rush if I change job? The current job is a bit fucked up with many idiots, pseudo-geniuses, and "OEM"s around making things even more complicated. That's another story. A few close friends told me to make another move in life but I think I should not rush into that. I really respect the friend I knew through the internet, a single mother staying in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. She can work and at the same time taking care of her daughter. She is strong, my role model, at least.

Suddenly, I remembered an article sent to me by a friend from Johor. This friend used to send me junk mails, those keep being forwarded and forwarded. Interestingly, some of the junks she sent could NOT be found on the internet easily. Well, I searched through the mail archives just now and found it. It was dated Feb 14, 2007. Here you go... The Fear of Being Alone.

People stay in unfulfilling relationships for any number of reasons, but chief among them is the fear of being alone.

Think about it - are you hanging on to this relationship because you're afraid you might not find someone better? Does the thought of being single scare you? Do you believe that being with someone you don't really love is better than being on your own? Are you "settling" because you think if you wait around too long, you might get left on the shelf?

Staying in a relationship because you're afraid of being alone is a recipe for unhappiness. Firstly, it probably means you have low self-esteem, which often makes you insecure, needy and over-sensitive. Secondly, it means you're not assuming responsibility for your own happiness and self-worth; that you're using the relationship to feel accepted and loved. Thirdly, this fear of being alone causes you to use anger, blame, tears, guilt and so on to compel your partner to stay with you. Or you yourself might be forcing yourself to tolerate unreasonable or abusive behaviour. And these are only a few of the main consequences I can think of at the moment. Others like getting pregnant because you think a child will bond you and your partner for life require more time than I have today.

The thing is, we are only truly alone when we abandon ourselves; when we refuse to take responsibility for who we are and what it takes for us to be happy. Besides, being in a relationship doesn't mean one cannot feel alone. In fact, the behaviour we're driven to when we're in unfulfilling relationships often strains them to the point where we feel alienated from our partners anyway. Ironically, the fear of being alone has had the biggest hand in making us truly alone.

On the other hand, an emotionally-responsible person is never alone because he attracts love, friendship and goodwill. He has no lack of close family members and good friends. And if a path of affection is closed to him, he easily channels the abundant love he has elsewhere.

So what kind of person are you? Are you the type who clings on to a relationship because the thought of being alone is unbearable? Or are you responsible for your own feelings?

We all can become more emotionally responsible by realizing that only we hold the key to our own happiness. No one else is obliged to be with us or to make us happy. We have to learn to manage our loneliness, and the big first step is not to to be afraid of it. The funny thing is that the less you fear loneliness, the less likely you are to suffer from it. People are attracted to individuals who are independent, self-assured and comfortable with who they are. Remember, we receive love when we give love, so always keep your heart open.

July 10, 2008

Just One More Time... revisited

I blogged about Just One More Time back on March 14, 2005. I told this story to many people with the intention to motivate them. Many people had given up hope with our department. 3 years had passed, nothing is permanent in this world. So, it could be my turn next after holding fort for such a duration. I was talking to a colleague in the cafeteria this afternoon. This time, many old timers are looking outward for greener pasture. Career growth for some experienced old timers are pretty much limited with a bunch of "young" OEMs (overly enthusiastic managers) around. Answering questions with questions, asking dumb questions and claiming to be devil advocate... sigh... This friend "retold" me the story I told him 3 years ago.

I have to copy and paste this time as the old link is broken. Just One More Time by Hanoch McCarty.

There's a 19th-century English novel set in a small Welsh town in which every year for the past 500 years the people all gather in church on Christmas Eve and pray. Shortly before midnight, they light candle lanterns and, singing carols and hymns, they walk down a country path several miles to an old abandoned stone shack. There they set up a creche scene, complete with manger. And in simple piety, they kneel and pray. Their hymns warm the chilly December air. Everyone in town capable of walking is there.

There is a myth in that town, a belief that if all citizens are present on Christmas Eve, and if all are praying with perfect faith, then and only then, at the stroke of midnight, the Second Coming will be at hand. And for 500 years they've come to that stone ruin and prayed. Yet the Second Coming has eluded them.

One of the main characters in this novel is asked, "Do you believe that He will come again on Christmas Eve in our town?"

"No," he answers, shaking his head sadly, "no, I don't."

"Then why do you go each year?" he asked.

"Ah," he says smiling, "what if I were the only one who wasn't there when it happened?"

Well, that's very little faith he has, isn't it? But it is some faith. As it says in the New Testament, we need only have faith as small as a grain of mustard seed to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. And sometimes, when we work with disturbed children, at-risk youth, troubled teens, alcoholic or abusive or depressed and suicidal partners, friends or clients . . . it is at those moments that we need that small bit of faith that kept that man coming back to the stone ruin on Christmas Eve. Just one more time. Just this next time, perhaps I'll make the breakthrough then.

We sometimes are called upon to work with people for whom others have abandoned all hope. Perhaps we have even come to the conclusion that there's no possibility of change or growth. It's at that time that, if we can find the tiniest scrap of hope, we may turn the corner, achieve a measurable gain, save someone worth saving. Please go back, my friend, just this one more time.

July 09, 2008

Kings and Queens of 27 countries

On June 9, 2006, citizens of Thailand celebrated the 60th anniversary of the accession to the throne of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The official royal barge procession on June 12 was attended by the King and Queen as well as royal visitors from 26 other countries. The state banquet was held on June 13 for the royal visitors in the newly constructed Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall within at the Grand Palace. There will be a story to tell about this picture itself later.
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June 16, 2008

Daen Mahamongkol on Google Map

I went to Daen Mahamongkol recently for a 8-precepts retreat. You won't find much information about it on the internet. Even many local Thais don't know there is such a great place in their country. So, I took my Garmin eTrex Legend Cx along. The latitude and longitude were registered as North 14 degrees 8.978 minutes and East 99 degrees 6.655 minutes respectively. I will share some photos later.

Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu Anumodami... Posted by Picasa

June 15, 2008

Namo Amituofo 南無阿彌陀佛

It has been 100 days since... May all the merits from good deeds get transferred to her. I believe she followed Amitabha Buddha and is now in the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss.

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March 02, 2008

Barisan Rakyat - Harapan Rakyat

The People's Front - The Hope of the People. Yeah, we will have the 12th General Election on the 8th of March. How can I not giving support to the opposition??? In my opinion, most of the middle class people in Malaysia wants to see change. The people are fed up with the current Barian Najis. Remember this. Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." So, do you part, exercise your right, vote for Barisan Rakyat, be it DAP, PAS, PKR, PSM, MDP, or PASOK. Vote intelligently for our future. You deserve the government you voted.

Mahatma Gandhi's words of wisdom: Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it. You must be the change you wish to see in the world!
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March 01, 2008

The 4 weapons of software developers

I blog only when my mood is good. Some people blog when they are frustrated on something. I am different today, I blog because I am in a dilemma. So, I try not to think about it. Anyway, it is not actually a problem but… So, I blog as a way to get away from it temporarily. Will think about it later when my mind is clear.

Well, as someone in the software field for sometime, I kind of observe a few traits that are pretty much consistent. Working with software developers is always interesting. Working with vendors is another challenge but that is a different story for a different time later.

Software developers don’t just write codes. Too bad, most of the fresh graduates these days think that the only thing they can do in the industry is to write codes. Well, you need to spend time to understand requirement, you need to work with software architect, you need to create and update design documentation, you need to duplicate and debug issues, you need to communicate, and you need to follow processes!!! And, much, much more!!!

At times, under tight schedule to deliver builds, to implement features, and to fix defects, I observed that software developers tend to use 4 weapons. Let me describe them one by one.

The first is always cannot understand the defect. This is not a defect. This is not suppose to be the way user going to use this piece of software. Based of the requirement document, I thought this is the way it suppose to function. Even, the UML diagram is not clear enough. Whatever...

After you manage to convince them this is indeed a defect, here comes the second weapon. I could not duplicate the defect here at my place. We tested many times and it is running OK at our side. We always write down the detailed steps to reproduce a defect in out defect tracking database. Sometimes, it is even necessary to make a video to show the defect.

Then, the third weapon is to dispute the requirement document. There is no such requirement mentioned in the documentation. We didn’t implement this because it says we need to do this and this only. Then, you have to go through the logic with the developers that this is indeed needed. Otherwise, this piece of software is just like crap and unusable. They are all inter-related.

Finally, the fourth weapon. Time. After using the first 3 weapons and wasting so much time, we are now running behind of schedule. We can't fix all the defects. Now, please prioritize the defects that you need to fix. Some can't even implement all the features.

I have the answers and countermeasures to these 4 weapons. Hey, I am a veteran. I am not going to discuss that in detail today. Leave it for another blog entry someday.

Anyway, these are challenges in life. Don't worry, all the technical problems might appear like there are many ways to solve it. They are all pretty much working towards the same goal. However, people is a totally different thing. It requires different kind of skill to handle people. To me, it is fun. You want to be yourself, you want to tell the truth. The truth is, people don't want to know the truth. The truth is that they can’t handle the truth. When you tell nothing but the truth, the truth will come back and haunt you.

So, next time, adopt the stance as if you are being audited by and ISO 9000 auditor. Answer only what is asked. Do not comment, do not volunteer information, do not dispute. Prepare your answer up front. Hope you like my crap today.

February 15, 2008

Big news: Intel is leaving Penang

The Malaysian Chinese newspapers founded by Dr. Sun Yat Sen on Dec 20, 1910, the Kwong Wah Yit Poh (光华日报) reported that Intel is on its way of leaving Penang Island. Here is the link, http://www.kwongwah.com.my/news/2008/02/15/133.html. Personally, I am skeptical on such report, most likely a political propaganda for the upcoming General Election. On the other hand, Penang, and Malaysia in general is losing its advantages compare to China, Vietnam, India, Brazil, and Eastern Europe.

英特尔裁员已获证实 不久或撤资槟州

二零零八年二月十五日 晚上七时二十八分










If you can't read Chinese, you can try Google translation here but don't expect it to be very accurate. Anyway, here is my translation:

Intel confirmed layoff or even withdrawing investment from Penang

February 15, 2008, 7:28 PM

(Penang, on the 15th) - Intel massive layoffs has been confirmed, the day of withdrawing from Penang is not far... sigh!

The Democratic Action Party newcomer, Jeff Ooi, disclosed to the media on Friday that on February 14th, it was reported by News Straits Times, in page 32 of the Business Times that Intel is getting ready to move to Kulim Hi-Tech Park. By then, 5000 employees will be affected, thus affecting the economy of Penang. On this mattter, he specifically sought confirmation from other media, and he got the same answer. Therefore, he urged Koh Tsu Koon to provide an explanation to the people of Penang before he takes up a position at the federal government level.

He said, not long ago, Intel closed the research and development center in Cyberjaya and 250 employees were affected. Recently, Intel closed its office inside the Penang Equatorial Hotel. All these indications show that the day when Intel is leaving Penang is near.

"Over the past few years, there had been many foreign investments withdrawal from Penang, causing the state economy to shrink. He mentioned publicly before that Intel will leave Penang and move to Kulim. However, on January 30th, State Assemblyman, Goh Kheng Sneah told reporters that I was talking nonsense. Intel will not leave Penang. Anyway, facts speak louder than words, Intel will leave soon. The way Penang state government handling this matter is a concern to us."

Jeff Ooi said, the economy of Penang is dropping from the top to the lowest. We lost to Singapore before, and we are losing to Kedah now. We are losing our competitiveness. He urged Penang people to ponder on such change.

He mentioned that the state government told the people that Penang economy is transforming from labour-intensive industries to high-tech industries, but is this the reality?

"I knew that Intel will open a factory in Dalian, China to manufacture the 65 nanometer chip. This is one of the most advanced technology at this moment. Penang is currently producing 300 milimeter chip. This technology is 10 years behind. Looking at the current situation, foreign investment is not transforming to high-tech, but is exiting this Garden of the Orient."

"If they want voters to cast a vote for the National Front, can Koh Tsu Koon guarantee that there will be no withdrawal of foreign investment in 5 years? At the same time, can the National Front government guarantee that the industrial development in Penang is not benefiting foreign labours only, but is actually benefiting local knowledge-based workers?"

Jeff Ooi thinks that the National Front is running out of idea, the people needs to know the truth, and should not simply let Penang to be governed by "anyone". Otherwise, Penang future will be bleak, as she can't compete both within the country and internationally.

February 14, 2008

Pronunciation of the language of love

I found that many people are having hard time with French pronunciation. Here is a page that I used to browse, learning some simple French... hehe.

In conjunction with St.Valentine's Day today, here is a short guide on a few important phrases:

Je t'aime - Joot tam
Je t'adore - Joot tar door
Veux-tu m'épouser - Ver too may poo say

Enjoy yourself and good luck!!!

February 08, 2008

1st class price, 2nd class product, 3rd class service

To my Vietnamese friends who is also celebrating Tết Nguyên Đán, wishing you guys Chúc Mừng Năm Mới. One Vietnamese friend who visited me in Penang last time jokingly asked me, "Beside food, what else do Malaysian sell?" At every corner of the street, you will see food courts, hawker centers, restaurants, etc. here. Favorite past time for Malaysians is of course, eating!!!

For small companies, nowadays big Chinese Malaysian companies as well, there will be a dinner at the restaurant to mark the last working day before Chinese New Year. This is known as "sau gong jau" in Cantonese. The reunion dinner should be eaten at home. Then, from the second day of CNY onwards, people will usually go out and eat "big" again at the restaurant with family members. This is not something new, but is a trend that has become a norm since about 20 years ago. Restaurants are getting more and more, and when is the best time to earn big bucks, if not CNY?

To me, my grandmother is the best cook. I am not a fan of going to restaurant during CNY. While many restaurants are not open, and many people are not working, those left open will try their best to maximize their profits from the ever-forgiving gullible public. To be fair, not many people have such a wonderful grandmother who doubles as a great cook.

In the United States, the price for candies will drop to a significant low before Thanksgiving to encourage people to buy a plenty. Here in Malaysia, people will raise the prices of almost everything, including haircut, before CNY.

Eating out at the restaurant is still affordable. However, I am against this idea. The reason is that I don’t feel like enriching other people by paying first class price. Due to demand for seafood is high and many fishermen are also celebrating CNY themselves, these restaurants will stock up frozen seafood much earlier before CNY. Thus, you will get second hand products.

Then, not all the chefs are working, so those work come to work will be paid triple or more. Waiters will be lesser too. Typical restaurants could not cope up with the number of customers during this time. So, food sometimes will be cooked to a less than satisfactory level. Service will be extremely bad and that's what I call 3rd class service.

In addition to this 1st-2nd-3rd, then you have 4th class people around. In the past, beer is always a favorite during such "eat-big" feast. In recent years, those uneducated Chinese people are also trying to "upgrade" themselves. Citing health as a reason, these Ah Beng nowadays "lim ang jiu" (is drinking red wine) instead of beer.

Anyone from a country with wine culture will shake their head looking at how these Ah Bengs misuse and abuse wine. You can be sure that they have no idea what wine tasting is all about. No idea what kind of grapes, no idea on the aroma, knows nothing except that they know the alcohol level is higher than beer. Some even mix Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Adding some ice cubes and whiskey to the wine are other possibilities… But so far, I have not seen any Ah Bengs eating fried noodle with Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, etc.

February 07, 2008

恭喜发财! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Happy New Year! 新年快乐! Xin Nian Kuai Le!

It's the first day of Chinese New Year today and needless to say, last night was the grand reunion dinner. Depending who you are talking to, there are many ways to explain what CNY is all about. In general, people from different cultures are usually curious about other's cultures. I have many American friends who ask me to "describe" and "explain" CNY in detail. However, the answer you get depends on who you are talking to.

The first way to talk about CNY is to tell about how it is being celebrated. Just talking about those southern Chinese, the Cantonese, the Teochews, and the Hokkiens will each tell a different version. Usually, the Cantonese will have a feast. Chicken, pork, fish, and prawns should (not must) be there on the table. Teochew people, especially those in Penang will have "steamboat", while Hokkien people will only do it big on the 8th day of CNY. This is because they only celebrate it big on the 9th day in conjunction with the birthday of the God of the Heaven.

Cantonese dialect is the most spoken Chinese language outside of China. This tells you that the Chinese diasporas are mainly from the Guangdong province. So, most often, people around the world will hear the Cantonese version of CNY. Thanks also to the help of Hong Kong movie industry. However, this is changing fast as the mainland Chinese, especially the northerners are also "everywhere" these days.

The second way to share about CNY is to tell the legend (maybe, fable) of the "nian" monster. Almost all the Chinese know this and is kept being told from generation to generation. However, those lacking of critical thinking might just take it literally and can't figure out that this story is all about surviving the harsh winter. CNY is actually the celebration of the beginning of spring. All the traditional CNY food is meant to be eaten during the winter. Just one example, Chinese sausage is a way to preserve pork. When spring comes, these surpluses will be used up for the feast.

To ease people's understanding, some people would draw a parallel to Christmas and Thanksgiving. One thing in common is the "rush home" for reunion dinner, everybody is travelling and everybody is having dinner with family members. Then, the differences. One example, they are both in red though, Santa Claus gives gifts, while the Chinese God of Wealth gives real money!!!

February 05, 2008

JPA scholarship

One thing that keeps pissing me off about blogging is that, when you have the time to sit down and blog, you ideas run away. I was just being reminded of this and I decided to blog it immediately. Just last month, an idiot sent a letter to brother Lim and got posted on blog.limkitsiang.com at http://blog.limkitsiang.com/2008/01/25/a-frustrated-goverment-scholar-blogger/. Really a soar-high (in Cantonese).

Someone just talked to me about JPA scholarship recently. My friend was complaining to me about the fact that only 10% on non-Bumiputera are selected for this. OK, what the hell is this fucking JPA scholarship? For those not familiar with Malaysia, the Public Service Department or Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam offers scholarships to those who scored "good grades" in their SPM examination. This is a scholarship where the government will send students to overseas for tertiary studies. Every eligible Malaysians will try their "luck" to apply. The chance of Langitputera is always slim.

Sending students to study overseas started as an initiatives to expose Malays to the world. The belief is that Chinese Malaysians are very rich and they can send their kids to overseas easily. These Malays should come back and serve the country once they have graduated. Local universities are believed to be not able to provide this kind of opportunity. In the past, if I recalled correctly, they offered mainly English speaking countries like United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, etc. I remember that Germany and Japan are there. Today, the list is expanded multiple times that includes countries such as Korea, Russia, and even Finland.

To me, this JPA scholarship is a waste of money and counterproductive. It defeats the original purpose or building a group of elites for the country. It really fucks up these days.

Sending students to overseas are not something new. During the Qing dynasty, in the year 11 of the Tongzhi period, the Chinese Imperial court sent students to study various fields in the United States. How many of them decided not to return to China? How many of them came back and were NOT allowed to contribute to the country? What is the return of investment?

The JPA selection criteria is based on kulification, not qualification. Malays always have lower requirements. So, these people are not cream of the crops. Well, this is actually not my point because even if we fix this selection criteria, sending students to overseas should be stopped be the government totally.

First of all, JPA screwed up big time. They have never set any pressure for them to excel. So, most, if not all of the Malays students are at the bottom of the list of academic achievement. I am talking based on normal distribution. Please don’t quote me exceptional cases. Students can continue to drag on their studies to even up to 7 years to get just a basic bachelor degree. Damn it! Such idiots can then apply to continue their master degree. What a joke?

Second, we have a group of interesting Malay ladies who will just come back to Malaysia and get married once they completed their studies. They are not working anymore after that. What a waste? You might ask me, what about their contract?

JPA has too much money. Transparency and accountability is not required in government departments. When these students returned, they were told there is no job in the government sector. They were just released off their contract. Wow! In reality, the government is always short of people. Those currently in the government has only completed Form Five, and of course, the are damn "afraid" of people with a degree. Same problem happened during the Qing dynasty.

Only those with some connections will be absorbed into the government. For example, the son of a Datuk or Tan Sri. Someone influential in the government can actually afford to send their sons and daughters overseas. They are depriving others who need such funds for education.

Another point to talk about is objective. By spending so much money to send people to overseas, what is JPA expectation on these people? From my point of view, I don’t see that there is a real objective. So, after returning to Malaysia, these people who studied in a "rare language" country such as Japan and Korea end up in call center. Some becomes translators. They acquire the proficiency in a foreign language but how does that benefit the country in long run? Some are doing some business on their own too.

Our local universities are at a very pathetic state. They keep denying that they are deteriorating. Keeping too many idiots and not practicing real meritocracy make it worse than before. Well, they said our universities are of first class. Hahaha… what a joke? They keep contradicting themselves. If our universities are so good, abolish this stupid JPA scholarship and get everyone to study locally.

Why do I care? Of course I care! I pay taxes and these bloody fuckers are wasting my money!!!

February 03, 2008

Welcome to India!

Swagat! Today is the end of my business trip in India and I will be taking a flight tonight back home. The title of this entry doesn’t look right. To some people, visiting India could be a nightmare but I think I am starting to get used to the life in India. For first timer, you might just hate it but after some time, you will start to think deeper, and then you associate things here to back home. Things works towards certain goals but the methods and approaches are different.

Again, welcome to India!!! Culture shock happens to almost everyone. One thing that many people can't tolerate is the traffic condition. As in my previous entry, I mentioned that the traffic here follows no rules except that they stop at red lights. People is driving very near to each other and psychologically, it invades your personal space and you feel that it is dangerous. True to certain extend, but your driver seems doesn’t bother much. You have to live with it.

So, the famous saying here is, "To survive driving in India, you need 3 things, good honk, good brake, and good luck!"

Then, you have different kind of food that you are not used to. Is it tasty? It depends on who you pose this question to. I love Indian food very much but, after eating for some time, my appetite has changed. I love greens, and I love meat.

Here in India, greens still mean it is fully cooked. You may find limited salad in the hotel, but it will be hard for you to hunt for salad outside. Again, there is exception. At certain tourist spots, people are selling freshly peeled cucumber sprinkled with a mixture of salt and chili powder. Succulent is the word I would say, and pretty cheap too.

In my opinion, there are 3 main reasons for human to cook food. First, we cook because we need to kill bacteria and viruses. For example, meat from poultry is full of germ. You need to cook it for you to avoid from falling ill. The second reason is to preserved food. Ham and cheese are examples of preserving meat and milk. Finally, the third reason is to help digestion. Cooking breaks down cellulose and make certain vegetables easily digested by the human body. Therefore, you don’t need to waste energy unnecessary.

Most of the Chinese dishes are cooked but they are mainly cooked for the first and second reason. Chinese New Year rice cake and Chinese sausage are ways to preserved food to survive the winter. Here in India, everything is cooked until it is like Chinese porridge or congee. Most of the food varieties here are made up of simple carbohydrate. Indian food is also cooked with a lot of oil. People on mission - beware!

Poor Chinese people eat rice porridge because that can't afford to eat rice. Making porridge will break down all the rice grains into something very easy to digest. So, people don’t need much energy to get energy from porridge. Hope you get the idea. So, here in India, overcooking of simple carbohydrate has become a culture itself. By the way, desserts are damn sweet that you feel you can dilute everything 10 times and still taste as sweet as sugar cane juice.

Next is use of milk in cooking. Paneer, the cottage cheese looks like a substitute for tofu. This stuff is tastier than tofu, I love it. In Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, curries are "enhanced" with coconut milk. On the other hand, looks like all the Indian curries have milk added. For those with lactose intolerance, you will get diarrhea easily. Since you are not aware of the amount of milk you took, you might blame that to unhygienic food. Well, certain restaurants unhygienic though.

I have a feeling that Indian people in general think they are the poorest in the world. All foreigner are damn fucking rich. When you go to visit any tourist spot, the big sign board tells you that you are paying a few thousand percent more. For example, locals pay 10 rupees which is equivalent to RM 0.90 or USD 0.26. Foreigners have to fork out either 250 rupees or USD 5.00. OK, they think foreigners earn 25 time their salary, what a fucking rip off. Well, I don’t think these smart Indians want US dollars these days as USD 5 worth 190 rupees only.

Beggars on the street beg from foreigners only. I have not given a cent to beggars. These people can go to work, OK. Back in the street in New York, they are damn fucking many homeless people. I read one report that the use of soup kitchen is increasing as well.
However, fucking westerners are encouraging these lazy Indians to beg. Maybe there is some kind of conspiracy going on, I don’t know. Another reason could be the white people thought that they are "superior". Don’t be fooled by beggar holding young babies as young as a few months, the babies might not belong to them. Shit! What kind of fucking society?! My taxi driver told me, some beggars can buy lands, while he can't buy any even after driving for 15 years. Well, he said, the only things that these people don’t have is dignity. Long story…

Everyone is thinking of ripping off foreigners. People come to India because certain things are cheaper. For example, medical treatment, IT related job outsourcing, etc. One thing they don’t realize is - many things outside of India are damn fucking cheap. Fruits, vegetables, clothes, electrical appliances, electronics gadgets, and computer parts are much cheaper in Malaysia. But these idiots thought we are coming to shop for cheap stuffs and charge a premium as well. It adds up to be exorbitantly high price.

When they keep do that, sooner or later, Europeans with their strong Euro will not be able to withstand it. Furthermore, their products are not of first class quality though. The only exception is the near first class service, coupled with excellent lips service. Maybe, angmo loves it when people call them "Sir" day in and day out. To me, I would rather carry my own luggage. Fuck, don't tell me that you can carry it for 2 miles at the airport during transit but you can't take it from the hotel lobby to your room. I don't need to be pampered.