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Pil Seung

Location: Penang, Malaysia

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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