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Pil Seung

Location: Penang, Malaysia

January 21, 2005

The Internationale

Zhao Ziyang, one for the former secretary-generals of the Chinese Communist Party passed away on Monday, January 17, 2005. He had been put under house arrest for the past 15 years after opposing the use of military force against pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Here are some quotes from Chinese dissidents on BBC News website.

There is an interesting song sung repeatedly by the students during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest. The Internationale, was originally written in French by Eugene Pottier, a woodworker from Lille, after the fall of the Paris Commune of 1871, and set to music by P. Degeyter. It is the song for both Marxist and non-Marxist socialist parties. The Internationale (国际歌) had been translated into more than 30 languages, and here are the lyrics in Simplified Chinese,





Here are the lyrics in hanyu pinyin,

Qilai, jihanjiaopo de nuli, qilai, quanshijie shouku de ren!
Manqiang de rexie yijing feiteng, yao wei zhenli er douzheng!
Jiu shijie da ge luohualiushui, nulimen, qilai, qilai!
Bu yao shuo women yiwusuoyou, women yao zuo tianxia de zhuren.

Conglai jiu meiyou shenme jiushizhu, ye bu kao shenxian huangdi.
Yao chuangzao renlei de xingfu, quan kao women ziji.
Women yao duohui laodong guoshi, rang sixiang chongpo laolong.
Kuai ba na luhuo shao de tonghong, chenredatie cai neng chenggong.

Shi shei chuangzao le renlei shijie? Shi women laodong qunzhong.
Yiqie gui laodongzhe suoyou, naneng rongde jishengchong!
Zui kehen naxie dushemengshou, chijin le women de xuerou.
Yidan ba tamen xiaomie ganjing, xianhong de taiyang zhao bian quanqiu.

Fuge: Zhe shi zuihou de douzheng, tuanjie qilai, dao mingtian, Yingtenaxiongnai'er jiu yiding yao shixian.

January 18, 2005

The social burden and the second independence

We obtained our independence from the British on August 31, 1957. The Union Jack was lowered and the new Persekutuan Tanah Melayu flag was raised, thus symbolizing that we are on our own, breaking away from colonial rule. Then, we formed Malaysia in 1963 together with Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore. Oil rich Brunei said "No, thanks" at the very last minute. Two years later, Singapore decided to go on their own due to certain reasons. No going to elaborate this today, perhaps, someday. We celebrated our 47th independence day last year. We called it National Day. Some people might cry when they recall of their struggles and their sacrifices to build better life for the coming generations. As people used to say, we have come a long way to get here.

In the year 1933, Adolf Hitler met with Ferdinand Porsche to start up a project so that all the Germans could afford to buy economical cars for themselves. Hitler specified the requirement of the car where it could carry 5 passengers (including the driver), run up to the maximum speed of 62 miles per hour, fuel consumption at 33 miles per gallon, and cost only 1000 Reichmark (I don't really know the value of a thousand Reichmark, but I have a piece of 10-thousand Reichmark note). Well, that's how Volkswagen was born, the name which literally means "people's car" in the German language. Today, Volkswagen is the largest automobile maker in Europe. They have come a long way to get here.

In the year 1983, Proton was established as an initiative to produce Malaysian cars. The Japanese company, Mitsubishi Motors provided 70% of the capital in the form of Yen loans and took 30% of the equity. The first car name Proton Saga rolled off the assembly line in July 1985. Of course, it is derived from an old Mistubishi model and rebadged as Proton Saga. It is sold at the very competitive price at around RM18,000 at that time. The nearest competitor is Nissan Sunny 130Y. In order to boost local sales, import tax was raised tremendously as a way to protect this start-up. On the other hand, Proton also trying hard to boost its image by exporting it to overseas' markets. There comes the special export version with all the higher grade materials, better safety features, and are being sold at a price lower than the domestic version. What??? Yes, Proton has also come a long way to get here.

With the introduction of the regional tariff reduction program, i.e. the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), import tax has to be lowered in phases. It was supposed to be effective on Jan 1, 2003. In order to protect Proton for another 2 years, it was pushed out to Jan 1, 2005. Many Malaysians are hoping for cheaper cars. However, the government announced on the new year eve that car prices will go up instead. This is due to the increase in excise duty which is applicable to all cars. This is a very interesting development indeed. The reason given by the government is that they are not going to lose the revenues from import tax. Well, they have forgotten the reason for the tax at the first place. Import tax was slashed to 20% from as high as 190%, while excise duty was rasied to between 90% to 250%. On the other hand, Proton is still being protected with 50% excise duty rebate and this is critized by Thai automakers. By the way, raising the car prices will also lead to inflation but I don't think they care. A simple analogy here, the char-koay-teow ah-pek has to charge RM3.00 instead of RM 2.50 for a plate of noodles because he has to pay higher monthly hire-purchase installments for his new Proton Gen2.

I am sure by now you should be able to identify the social burden. Imagine that you see a mother holding his 22-year old son's hand and still teaching him how to look out for cars before crossing the road. What a shame! Then, what about the second independence? Well, look at it from two different angles. The second independence comes when either Proton can stand by its own feet or it closes down totally. I think we still have a long way to go before we get there.

January 14, 2005

An interesting lunch and an interesting quote

Let's break away today from those quite specific topics as I usually did in the past. Four of us, good co-workers and freinds had banana leaf rice today. We chatted almost anything and the lunch lasted for 90 minutes. It is not my intention to blog what we chatted. Just wanted to share an interesting and meaningful quote that I saw on one of the few paintings on the wall.


One of the topics that is favoured by co-workers is about their bosses. Well, I am a supervisor. I have to learn to follow and also to lead. Kind of being sandwiched in between. Anyway, the most important thing of being a supervisor is to lead by example, I think. That's what the quote above is all about. I am pretty sure that many people are not happy with those who talk but do nothing, and those who bullshit days and nights. No real solution to this problem, just be yourself, don't do to other what you don't want others to do to you. Start walking today!

January 13, 2005

Resistance to change

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher of the late 6th century BC said, "There is nothing permanent except change". However, most of us resist change. The resistance comes from fear and the unwillingness to come out of the comfort zone.

On a personal level, many people complain of their lousy jobs, their stupid bosses, disgusting co-workers, unreasonable customers, etc. However, no one is willing change their jobs, constructively confront their bosses, and so on. These inactions are due to the fear of the consequences if one is to take the risk to change. People try to justify their action not to change by laming that "I don't want to start all over again". These lamers are losers.

People complain in kopi tiam that the government is stupid, wasting tax-payers' money, bureaucracy, etc. but they still keep the same f**king government again and again in every elections. No one wants to take the risk to let another party to form a new government, and try new things.

Globalization is an idea thought by some smart souls to make themselves richer and richer. After some time, more and more companies follow suits. Americans started to complain that "their jobs are being shipped overseas". Hey, angmo (gwailow) out there! Think about this, if it is OK forAsians to drink Coca Cola, eat McDonald burgers, save their money in Bank of America, study in Purdue, why it is not OK for Asians to work in American companies? Of course, this is a pretty good topic to be debated, but I would say those who complain are just losers.

Dr. Robert Anthony said, "When you blame others, you give up your power to change". So, stop whining, start your personal plan today. Start to think what is within your circle of influence that you want to change. Embrace change and may you have the freedom to change.

January 11, 2005

Knock 'em Dead Interview - Part 2

Just a short one today. After discovering that the interviewee has near zero knowledge on the technical side, here comes the most interesting part - money.

Bastard: What is your expected salary?

Idiot: [confidential]

Bastard: You only have a one-year diploma and no working experience. Why do you think we can pay you that amount?

Idiot: Oh... [multi-national company] is a "big" company. I am sure you can pay me. Everyone is driving big cars as I can see from the car park.

Bastard: Why do you think people who drive big cars can pay you high salary?

Idiot: Yeah, I see people wear long sleeves and ties. This company surely can pay one...

Bastard: Those are suppliers and vendors la... By the way, I am wearing jeans today. Thank you very much and have a nice day!

January 05, 2005

Knock 'em Dead Interview - Part 1

An interviewee who has a bachelor degree in Information Technology from a local public university really knocked me dead the other day. Here was one of the many interesting parts,

Bastard: Do you use a PC at home?

Idiot: Yes.

Bastard: What kind of CPU are you using?

Idiot: Clone one.

Bastard: I mean, the processor. What kind of processor and the speed?

Idiot: Pentium 3.

Bastard: What is the speed?

Idiot: Huh?

Bastard: The clock speed of the processor, you know?

Idiot: 32.

Bastard: What do you mean by 32?

Idiot: 32 MHz.

Bastard: (Hmm... Pentium III 32 MHz, where to find?) OK, good. How much RAM do you have?
Idiot: 32.

Bastard: 32, what ?

Idiot: 32 MHz.

Bastard: I see, I see.

Idiot: Oh, I think is 32 MB.

Bastard: What kind of operating system are you using?

Idiot: WinXP.

Bastard: (Hmm... WinXP running on 32MB... interesting) OK, do you go on the internet?

Idiot: Yes, I use TMnet.

Bastard: It is dialup or broadband?

Idiot: What's that?

Bastard: I mean, do you call 1515 using an analog modem or do you use Streamyx broadband?

Idiot: I use a modem to connect to 1515.

Bastard: What is the typical connection speed?

Idiot: 170 kbps

Bastard: OK. Thank you. Very good. Next!

OK, I am the bastard, call me whatever you like. Interview is not an event or an avenue for you to learn. It's too late. Don't waste your time and the interviewer's time. You have to do your homework before coming for the interview, and that's why I am not offering the answers.

Box Box Box Boxing Day!

I remembered someone asked me before what Boxing Day is. Why the day after Chrismas is know as Boxing Day? Is it because Mohamad Ali knocked out someone on Dec 26? Maybe many people got drunk the night before and continue to get drunk, started to fight each other? Well, Boxing Day is the day where churches open the donation boxes (alms-boxes) and the clergies distribute the money to needy people. By the way, Boxing Day is also known as St. Stephen's Day.

On the other hand, in Uncle Sam land, people like to use the word "box it" while filling up their stomach, especially at Chiense restaurants. Whatever you can't finish, tell the waiter to box it. Not to punch on it, but just telling the guy to put all your leftover into a box, so that you can take it home. By the way, boxing your food is not limited to Asian restaurants. You can also box your Tony Roma's Baby Back Ribs or steak if you can't finish them. These kind of yummy stuffs really make you box each other for the last piece...

January 04, 2005

Tsunami... つなみ... 津浪...

On Boxing Day 2004, tsunami hit countries around the Indian Ocean and the worst hit area was the north-western part of the Sumatera Island, Indonesia. The death toll for Indonesia alone has reached 94,000 per the figure release by the Indonesian government as of today. Tsunami is the Japanese term or tidal wave set off by earthquake. Malaysia is indeed lucky although it is quite near to the epicenter of the earthquake. The official death toll reported by the Malaysian government is at 66. The worst hit area in Malaysia was Penang Island, the Pearl of the Orient. The current total death toll worldwide has surpassed 140,000 and is set to rise further. My deepest condolence to those who lost their life and their love ones in this natural disaster.

While the mass media is "obsessed" with the latest news on tsunami, I noticed one trivial matter. The whole world, except the Japanese pronounce the Japanese word tsunami as "soo-nah-mee". Please listen to the Japanese first. "Tsu" is pronounced something like "jer" in English. Using the Chinese hanyu pinyin, it sounds like "zhi", while the Taiwanese Wade-Giles romanization will sound like "tze". Well, this is not the only word being read incorrectly by non-Japanese. Other words like, mitsubishi, daihatsu, satsuma, etc were pronounced wrongly in the same way.

I once spoke to an American and we talked about drinking and karaoke as one of the favourite activities among colleagues at night in Malaysia. As usual, I pronounced karaoke as "car-ruh-oh-kay" and from his body language, I knew that he didn't understand what I was talking about. I paused and thought for a while, and yeah, "care-rer-oh-key"!!! Very interesting... it seems to me that the American guy still thinks that he pronounced it correctly!

Anyway, "tsu" in Hiragana is "つ”, and is "津" when written in Kanji. "Tsu" means seaside, estuary, or small port. "Nami" in Hiragana is "なみ", and could be "波" or "浪" when written in Kanji. "Nami" means wave. Therefore, tsunami is translated literally as seaside wave. OK, that's all about tsunami for now. Appreciate what you have and enjoy life to the fullest!