Friday, November 25, 2011

SNC School Song

St Nicholas Convent Alor Setar School Song

Listen to our motto
Guiding us as we go
Simple in my virtue
Steadfast in my work

Hark, hark, hark

Hear the kindly advice
Take it to your heart

Fly away from all vice
Be simple in virtue
Be loyal and true
Love God with all your heart

Steadfast in my work, yes!
No matter how hard
How can you win success
If you never try

Though you stumble often
Never be downcast
Try and try again lest
You'll succeed at last

Hark, hark

Let the school motto
Guide you as you go

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Size DOES Matter!

On 7th Jan 2010, the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that "the bigger the engine, the higher petrol will cost.” According to the Datuk, the assumption for this proposal is that those in the lower income group would normally drive a car with a lower engine capacity and thus be eligible for the subsidy.

This must surely take the prize for half-baked policies!

The Datuk's assumption is certainly flawed. I know of a Pakcik in my hometown who drives a 25 year old 2.4 litre Honda Accord because of the reliability of Honda cars. I do not know for a fact whether this Pakcik is of the lower or middle income group, but he told me that he can only afford to drive very old Honda cars. So, I guess I can safely draw the conclusion that this Pakcik certainly deserves to benefit from the government's fuel subsidy. Unfortunately, due to the capacity of his car's engine, he will have to pay a higher price for fuel if this half-baked policy indeed comes into effect.

So my question to the government : how will the government treat fairly people like this good Pakcik?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Of Missing Jet Engines

I was busy at work at around 4.30pm on Monday 21 Dec 2009. My mobile phone beeped - a text message had arrived. It was a Malaysia Kini SMS Alert announcing that "Missing jet engine: PM says govt will wait for the authorities to wrap up their probe before action is taken against the wrongdoers."

Huh?? A missing jet engine? I was immediately jolted out from my working mode into a problem solving mode...

Did Malaysia Kini get it wrong? How does a jet engine go missing? It is mind boggling? Shouldn't the whole jet have gone missing? For example, a jet could go missing when a pilot took off and never came back. Since Malaysia Kini reported it, I can only imagine that the air force personnel have scoured the whole air force base with a fine tooth comb to no avail. But then again, a jet engine devoid of its outer shell and all the other parts that a jet needs, would surely have to be transported out of an air force base? Don't our air force bases have security checkpoints? Didn't someone smell a fish when they see a jet engine being carted out of the air force base?

Argh! Never mind. Anything and everything that can go wrong in Malaysia will surely go wrong. Back to work!!

Over the next few days, I was to read that :
  • it was not only 1 jet engine that went missing but 2 jet engines;
  • those 2 jet engines actually went missing between June and Nov 2007;
  • but the theft was not discovered until May 2008;
  • and the Malaysian citizens heard nothing of it until Dec 2009;
  • a brigadier general and 40 armed forces personnel have been sacked based on alleged involvement and all (EXCEPT the brigadier general) lost their pension and other benefits;
  • some of the personnel involved had been transferred to other positions while the investigation is being carried out;
  • the Attorney General stating that this is indeed a serious issue;
  • the Prime Minister assured all Malaysians that there will be no cover-ups;
  • we were told that no inquiry by the Royal Commission need to be setup as all Malaysians need to trust that the police will do its job.
I ask, why is it that :
  • the public hears only of this missing jet fiasco 2 years after they have gone missing?
  • 40 lower ranking personnel should be sacked and lose their pension and all benefits but a high ranking brigadier general should be sacked but get to keep his pension and all benefits?
  • the Attorney General should only say that it is a serious matter now after the matter has been made public. Would it NOT have been serious had the press not picked up on this matter?
  • the Prime Minister should assure us that there will be no cover-ups? Shouldn't it be that NOTHING would be covered-up without the PM having to say so?
  • we should be TOLD to trust the police? Shouldn't it be that trust be earned and not bought? Shouldn't it be that had we trusted the police, we would not have had to call for an inquiry by the Royal Commission?
And I still hear people telling me that living in Malaysia is not too bad!!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Royalty v Wang Ehsan

I am seething in my seat!

It is outrageous that the Government of Malaysia could, time and time again, act in violation of the laws of the country with impunity. Petronas should cower in shame for its acting in breach of the Agreements with the states of Kelantan and Trengganu. I suppose Petronas would like any other civil servant, say that it is merely following orders!

I shan't say more - read all about it in In Violation of the Federation Agreement

Monday, November 2, 2009

Why Employees Leave Organisations

I received the following story from my friend this morning. I thought it should be shared with everyone who is an employee... or more aptly, those who manage another.

Every company faces the problem of people leaving the company for better pay or profile. Early this year, Mark, a senior software designer, got an offer from a prestigious international firm to work in its India operations developing specialized software. He was thrilled by the offer. He had heard a lot about the CEO. The salary was great. The company had all the right systems in place employee-friendly human resources (HR) policies, a spanking new office, and the very best technology, even a canteen that served superb food. Twice Mark was sent abroad for training. 'My learning curve is the sharpest it's ever been,' he said soon after he joined. Last week, less than eight months after he joined, Mark walked out of the job. Why did this talented employee leave ?

Arun quit for the same reason that drives many good people away. The answer lies in one of the largest studies undertaken by the Gallup Organization. The study surveyed over a million employees and 80,000 managers and was published in a book called 'First Break All The Rules'.

It came up with this surprising finding: If you're losing good people, look to their immediate boss. Immediate boss is the reason people stay and thrive in an organization. And he 's the reason why people leave. When people leave they take knowledge, experience and contacts with them, straight to the competition.

'People leave managers not companies,' write the authors Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. Mostly manager drives people away? HR experts say that of all the abuses, employees find humiliation the most intolerable:
  • The first time, an employee may not leave, but a thought has been planted.
  • The second time, that thought gets strengthened.
  • The third time, he looks for another job.

When people cannot retort openly in anger, they do so by passive aggression. By digging their heels in and slowing down. By doing only what they are told to do and no more. By omitting to give the boss crucial information. Dev says: 'If you work for a jerk, you basically want to get him into trouble. You don 't have your heart and soul in the job.' Different managers can stress out employees in different ways - by being too controlling, too suspicious, too pushy, too critical, but they forget that workers are not fixed assets, they are free agents. When this goes on too long, an employee will quit - often over a trivial issue.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Of Bee Larvae

If I was not before, I now am a firm believer in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

For the past 20-odd years, I have been nagged with episodes of heat rash after short spells in the sun. Any parts of my body exposed to the sun would inevitably reddened, turned coarse with goosebump-like patches and my, do they itch! Sun block helps but does not work if I’m out and about in the sun for extended periods. So you would find me all covered in long pants, long-sleeved shirts, hat and armoured (with sun block!) in the heat of the tropics or during a sunny summer’s day. “Weirdo”, some people would probably think. But do I care about what others think? No way. Because I’m obsessed with preventing heat rash attacks, for hell hath no fury like a heat rash attack – once the unwelcomed guest finds footing on me as the reluctant host, it would stay for at least a week, sometimes up to 10 days.

Western medicine doctors have prescribed calamine lotion, anti-histamine and anti-itch medication. All merely reduces the symptoms and even then, only for a couple of hours at most.

One of the stops of my tour in Beijing in May this year, was a Traditional Tibetan Medicine establishment, housed in the Olympic Games Village. After a short foot massage, a TCM practitioner asked if I wished to have him diagnose any health problems that I may have. I obliged without any hesitation. After feeling my pulse for about 3 seconds, he said, through a translator, that my hormones are imbalanced which resulted in skin problems. He prescribed bee larvae (of course at that time I had no clue that it was bee larvae), which I should take 2 capsules twice a day for 3 months.

It cost me a bomb – RMB3600 or roughly RM1800. When I got back to the bus, Papa was shocked that I had purchased the medicine and told me in no uncertain terms that I should have disappeared right after the foot massage. I said “Never mind, if it cures me from the heat rash attacks then it is worth paying for”. Despite my nonchalance, I never believed for a second, that a 3-month prescription after a 3-second diagnosis would cure me of a 20-year ailment!

When I returned home, I put away the bottles as (a) I could not be sure if the capsules really contained bee larvae; (b) I have failed to get any conclusive information on the net about the Traditional Tibetan Medicine establishment; and (c) upon Mama’s encouragement that it is only bee larvae and that the doctor would surely not wish to harm me. So in July, I started taking the bee larvae as a “stock clearance” exercise.

The effect of the bee larvae was apparent 3 months later. On 4th Oct 2009, after a one and a half hour trek downhill from Kampung Terian to Kampung Timpangoh in the late morning (but very hot) sunshine, I discovered a red band on the back of my neck – the only area exposed to direct sunlight. But lo and behold! No itch!!! I couldn't believe it!!! But very pleased nonetheless.

So all non-believers of TCM, this is your proof that TCM does work. And it worked where Western medicine had (and still has) no answer. This episode gave me a first-hand experience of what others has been saying all along – that TCM goes to the root of the problem, in my case, hormonal imbalance, while Western medicine merely treats the symptoms.

[1] An-hour long boat-ride to a longhouse during a trip to Sarawak in Dec 2001, resulted in a particularly bad spell of heat rash. A TCM practitioner at Tung Shin Hospital, Kuala Lumpur, prescribed 3 doses of herbs and dried insects (which looked like bumble bees without the stripes). I boiled the herbs/insects for over 3 hours, reducing 3 bowls of water into 1 bowl, drank it and the rashes subsided within an hour from the time I drank the first dose.

At Kampung Terian

My first glimpse of human activity after 45 minutes of dirt road (or maybe more aptly called “mud trail”) and the forest tamed by the dirt road that cut across it, was padi fields. With the rain drizzling down and a sun that is trying very hard but managed only to peek through the clouds, I saw that the young padi shoots have just been re-planted – you can see them all meticulously arranged, row after row. A few yards further down the mud trail, the village school stood majestically, its Malaysian and Sabah flags drenched and hung forlornly, amidst a cluster of houses.

All was still and not a soul was in sight. As we hung around, unsure of where to go next, Joachim suddenly appeared from behind the school, waving madly welcoming us to Kampung Terian! It was as if it was his village! He revealed later that he didn’t think we’d make it to the village, not with the rain that poured down so ferociously all afternoon. We were all ushered to the village rest area where a long table and a few benches stood. Thankfully, I off-loaded my rucksack and the bag containing my sleeping bag and knick-knacks. I, desperately but without much success, tried to shake off the mud which clung stubbornly to my shoes.

I was wrong if I thought our fight against the mud is over. The trek to the village chapel was even more treacherous! Steep slopes and soggy earth resulted in a slippery walk. At the chapel, we were treated to rice and free range chicken and sweet potatoes cooked in soya sauce, stir fried forest yam (which tasted like mushrooms) and stir fried long beans. The bananas were very good – you can tell that they had been left to ripen naturally on the banana plant. Search, if you may, but I bet you’d never find such sweet and perfectly ripen pisang mas in Kuala Lumpur!

We had got to the village too late for us to visit the micro hydro pool but I was actually quite glad since it meant I had avoided the inevitable leeches and I didn’t even have to bluff my way out of it!!! So it was only the power generator room that we had time for before night fell. Adrian’s
[1] brief on how the generator works was an eye opener for me – a lever to optimise the water intake, a ballast to get rid of excess power, a piece of equipment which for the life of me I cannot recall its name, to regulate the power generated prior to distribution and a miller, which uses the mechanical power of the generator!

By the time the university students have asked of Adrian all the questions to their hearts’ content, we had only the moonlight to guide us back to the chapel. None of us had remembered to bring along our torchlight! We were lucky that it was the Autumn Festival that night, the moon was as round as can be and beaming its silvery light on us. I made it back to the chapel in one piece, but not before a fall on the slushy slopes.

At the chapel I found that the other mentors (who, like me, had been assigned to spend the the night in the chapel) have had their bath in the river. It was then too dark for me to make a trip to the river. I started to dread that I may have to put off having a shower until I get back to Borneo Paradise
[2] the next day! Now that was not a pleasant thought! Then, Eliza[3] informed me that there are shower cubicles behind the chapel. With no time wasted, armed with my Philips torchlight, off I went to take a much-longed for shower. The water was, oh, so refreshing.

When I returned to the chapel, all clean, I saw that some of the children had gathered in the chapel. Boys sat together while the girls were in another group. I gave the boys Twisties crisps and the girls a bag of hi-fibre snacks. As they chomped away happily, I asked one of the boys why he does not mix with the girls, he promptly answered “It is better this way as girls like to talk of everything and nothing!”.

Once everyone has made their way to the chapel, we were treated to a video presentation on the building of the micro-hydro dam. Then the children performed the Sumazau dance, while the adults played the accompaniment on the traditional gongs. The children were great dancers! The children then invited us to dance with them and we obliged though ours was a muddled kind of Sumazau dancing!

The night was over much too soon. The villagers and their guests slowly made their way back to their homes. A group of university students who missed out on the trip to the micro-hydro dam stayed back at the chapel and bombarded Adrian with questions. I fell asleep as the conversation droned on in the background. I was that tired!

Suddenly I was wide awake! A droplet of water dripped onto my face! I shifted position. After awhile, opps! Another droplet of water! I shifted position again. Let that be the last drop of water, I prayed, because if I were to shift position again I would either be squeezed onto the wall or onto Elaine
[4]! My prayers worked. It was not until the time to wake up when another droplet dripped on my arm! When the morning got brighter I looked up and saw that it was not rainwater that had dripped on me but water from condensation on the zinc roof! No wonder the droplets kept changing position!

We freshened up, had breakfast which the host had graciously prepared, gathered our still-wet-yesterday’s-clothes, said our goodbyes and off we went. On the way out we were introduced to the one betel nut tree from which there is DiGi (SMS only) service, if one climbed up the tree!

All in all I had a good time the experience will stay fresh in my memory for a long time to come. But I wonder if I would have survived it had the village no electricity and no running water and if I would have enjoyed it as much had we not have to hike to and from the village.

[1] Adrian Lasimbang of PACOS Trust. PACOS Trust is a community based voluntary organisation to raise the overall quality of life of indigenous communities. For more information, see
[2] Borneo Paradise Beach Hotel, was our base for the Challenge for Change Boot Camp, 1st to 4th October 2009
[3] Eliza Abdul Rahman, of Warisan Global, the event organizer for the Boot Camp.
[4] Elaine Lau, a writer for The Edge Malaysia.