Thursday, November 3, 2011

PPSMI Debate Ignores the Elephant in the Room

I read with interest the recent debates surrounding PPSMI, as played out in the mainstream and alternative media. Before we begin, a brief summary of the facts surrounding would help casual readers understand the issue better.

In 2003, the Education Ministry implemented a policy that Science and Mathematics subjects are to be taught in the English medium. This policy is known as PPSMI. In 2008, it was believed that the Education Ministry was reviewing the policy with the view of removing it. In the same year, the Parents Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) was set up by concerned parents to persuade the Ministry to continue with the policy. In 2009, the Education Ministry decided that as of 2012, PPSMI would be abolished and the teaching of Science and Maths will revert to respective native language (ie. Bahasa Melayu, Tamil, Cina). Till today, the debate continues, with the volume intensifying in recent weeks led by PAGE.


In 19 Julai 2002, the Cabinet led by Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, announced the implementation of PPSMI in 2003. The reason was that in order to improve the competitiveness of Malaysians in the global arena our students must be taught Maths and Science in English as most of the material on these subjects are in English.

My understanding of PAGE’s argument is the following: We must teach them Science and Maths in English because when they reach higher level, they would need less time to adapt to texts and materials which are, undoubtedly, written primarily in English (which in their term, is the lingua franca of Science and Maths). At the same time, some proponents have also argued that the policy would further bolster our children’s command of the English language.

And …well, that’s about it. Honestly, when I started finding out more about PPSMI, I was expecting to find a reservoir of studies showing a direct correlation between teaching Science and Maths in English and increased competency in the subject matter at the tertiary level (the main contention by proponents). Unfortunately, there was none – not even an indirect correlation. I was browsing through PAGE’s website  and blogno, there’s no research cited to support the cause for PPSMI either. 

More importantly, in my brief time with Mr. Google, I couldn't find any study or research that could support the teaching of Science, Maths or any other subject in a language that is NOT the mother tongue of the students and teachers. If there’s any, do let me know.

Wow. Think about that. A government policy was introduced, without proper research. Really, is that even possible? *insert sarcastic grin here*

Alas, ladies and gentleman, the evidence shows absolutely no correlation at all between children who are taught in English or their mother tongue with actual performance in tests.

Look at the 2010 World Education Ranking conducted by OECD. It measures competency in Reading, Maths and Science. The top 10 nation includes Shanghai-China (1st), Korea (2nd), Finland (3rd), Hong Kong-China (4th), Japan (8th) and Netherlands (10th) – all of which uses their respective mother tongue to teach all subjects. The ones in the top 10 who uses English as an education language are, surprise surprise, nations where the primary language is English (Canada, Australia, New Zealand).

And if English really is the lingua franca of Science and Maths that would hold such a huge competitive advantage for those who are taught in English, how come the United States are ranked a lowly 17th behind countries like Poland and Switzerland in the same study?

More worryingly, I don’t think any of the countries in the top 10 of OECD’s ranking uses a 2nd language as a primary education language for Science and Maths.  This is fact, not emotional pleading without basis. 

With all due respect to Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, who wrote a passionate letter to the Star the other day, claiming that "By rejecting the sound policy of PPSMI, we will be taking a regressive step backwards!", there is no evidence that PPSMI is anything but just shooting in the dark hoping to hit a dear.
The Effects of PPSMI

In 2007, Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS 2007) research showed a marked decline in Malaysia’s score in Maths and Science. In fact, our decline was the most compared to the 59 other countries included in the research.(Wikipedia summary)

This was addressed in PAGE’s website via the misleadingly titled pamphlet Mengapa Rakyat Sokong PPSMI. Their argument was “that the survey was conducted on Form 2 students in 2007 whereas PPSMI was pioneered by Standard 1 students in 2003 (which means they’re only in Standard 5 so are not part of the survey). In fact this study further proves that the old policy (of teaching in BM) actually cause the decline”.

First of all, this is factually wrong. Officially, PPSMI was introduced to both Standard 1 students in Primary and Form 1 students in 2003. Therefore, the Form 2 students who were assessed in 2007 were taught Science and Maths in English.

Secondly, PAGE failed to address the following result of TIMSS research on Maths and Science in Malaysia: 1999 (519 for Maths, 492 for Science) – 2003 (508 for Maths, 510 for Science) – 2007 (474 for Maths, 471 for Science). Is it just a coincidence that in 1999 and 2003, all those who were analyzed was taught Science and Maths in BM?

In April 2008, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris published a report based on survey and research on Standard 5 students in 2007. The crux of the report states that the majority of students find it difficult to understand lessons in English, and the test scores back it up, with students, in particular Malays and Orang Asli, faring poorly.

This was also addressed by PAGE simply as “the general consensus was that the report is flawed as it did not follow scientific procedures in collecting data and is biased”. I guess no research is better than a less than perfect one?

So Why Not Let Them Choose?

Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon suggested that instead of abolishing PPSMI, students should be given an option to choose. Yes, the man everyone says is incompetent and weak comes out with this gem of an idea, and suddenly he’s right?

I cannot for one imagine how ridiculous this situation would be. If School A decides to adopt PPSMI, and because we cannot choose where we go to school, would my children then be forced to learn in English if they were “picked” to join School A? And if not, what do they do when the teacher is teaching in English? And why stop at just the choice of English? If it’s about choice, then certainly my kid can ask to be taught in Tamil. How about that?

It’s called a NATIONAL EDUCATION SYSTEM for a reason. Giving different language options, especially to Primary school-children, have never been done successfully anywhere else in the world. It’s akin to having a national highway code, but you can choose your speed limit because your car can go faster.  Sigh.

 If I Were To Argue for the Sake of Arguing…

If I were to argue, without facts, then I can state that teaching Science and Maths in English places extreme pressure on children of rural folks or even in urban areas where the primary language of communication is not English. This pressure might result in them not being interested in the subject matter at all. This is especially acute amongst poor (as in result, not income) and average students.

I can also state it would result in less effective teaching (if it can be any less effective;)) because Science and Maths teachers (especially the new ones tasked with Primary schools) would be too busy ensuring their English is correct, instead of focusing on the actual content of the subject matter.

Most importantly, there will be a widening competency gap amongst students of different social background.  Since we’re not using any studies to back up PPSMI, I can also suggest that English competency increase in tandem with your family’s household income. As such, not only do the better-off members of society have the benefit of being exposed to the English language, but they also have a better environment to excel academically, with tuition and learning aids readily available.

But the proponents of PPSMI fail to recognize the existence of a huge pocket of students even in urban areas whose English competency falls below the required level for them to even understand the lessons being taught.  This would result in a competency gap that in 10 years time will cause further social rift that threatens the fabric of our society. 

Politics over Future

Unfortunately, politicians have to enter the fray. It is no surprise that MCA's The Star have been highlighting the arguments FOR PPSMI without anyone offering anything substantial other than soundbites. Politicians suddenly appear asking for PPSMI to continue without telling us why. And sadly, PAGE recently stated that they are willing to voice their disappointment via the ballot box if the government does not bow down to their demand. How many people sign up for PAGE? How many people are in PERKASA? If we were to follow the argument then government should also quiver when faced wit PERKASA's threat, no?
Missing the Bigger Picture

Amidst all this noise about PPSMI, we have failed to notice bigger structural issues affecting the education system that must be corrected first. If PAGE is really about “action group for education” then I wonder why it is only focused on PPSMI?

For example, there have been studies showing the positive impact of a lower student to teacher ratio in improving test scores. Why not fight for that instead of a solution that is NOT backed by any research?

Why not fight for accountability from the school for the performance of its students with corresponding reward/punishment?

If English is of such a concern, why not fight for additional hours of English lessons and more importantly, using standardized scoring marks for English instead of allowing for a “bell curve assessment”?

Why not fight for a more stringent process to promote students to the next grade? This would prevent the comical situation where a kid enters Form 1 not even capable of mastering the basic 3M (Membaca, Menulis dan Mengira). Why do we keep pushing them to the next grade when they haven't pass the previous one?

What about our textbooks? What about our syllabus? These are all more pertinent than learning that trigonometri is actually trigonometry in English (Oh, imagine the confusion on my mind). 

And I have not even started with looking at society as a whole in the role of education. Studies have shown that children whose parents spend more time with their parents perform better at school. Go fight for that?

What about our own desire for wealth and success that has degraded the teaching profession to the point where parents never ask their kids, especially those who do well in exams, to become teachers? We can say “teachers are lousy” but that is the result of our own inner bias against the profession. Can PAGE help with that, because without the right teachers, it really doesn't matter what language you use to teach now, does it?

Anyway, I’m digressing. At the end of the day, I think the fight for PPSMI is taking its toll on our future because it prevents discussion of more pertinent issues. It’s like we’re busy trying to find the mouse, when there’s an elephant in the room. You know, like state-sponsored racial segregation via vernacular school. Funny no one is brave enough to fight against that.


This article was written by someone who was taught Science and Maths in Bahasa Malaysia. Pardon my London. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This Is How I Reply an Official Invite...

Background : For some reason, I keep getting invited as a judge for my beloved UiTM's Inter-part Moot Competition. I did once serve my alma matter way back when I could still fit into tight black pants, but I realized I was REALLY out of touch. So this year, the committee kindly invited me formally via e-mail. Here's the actual reply:

Dear xxxx,

Thank you for the kind invite.

Unfortunately, I believe my presence would serve very little purpose for the following reasons:

1. I have forgotten everything about mooting and its rules
2. I have not practiced law since graduating, which makes me a bad example for the juniors
3. I have thrown away my only decent black and white suit (I am more of a navy blue and grey kinda dude)
4. I only wake up that early if it's to make money
5. My wife is jealous that some of the juniors might make a pass at me
6. I am concerned I might entertain the above-mentioned juniors
7. As you can probably deduce from this e-mail, I am a rebel who cracks one too many inappropriate jokes, hence making a mockery of your esteemed moot court:)

Anyway, thank you for remembering (or referring to a lecturer who do remember me).

Wishing the club all the best. And remember, life is too short to be wearing black and white all the time :)


Tuesday, September 20, 2011


God-willing, I'll be 28 tomorrow. With the average life expectancy for a Malaysian at 75 years, 28 years is only 37% of your expected lifetime, give or take a few years. It's easy to think that there's plenty of time or even worse, to be content with what you have. 

No doubt I have plenty of things to be grateful for. There's the family, of course. Despite the occasional muttering of discontent, I am perfectly satisfied with the parents that God has given me.  I won't return them for any other. Please laugh at this.

The missus, whom I apologize I seldom write about, is perfect for me. It's not easy to be perfect for someone who is perfect, but yeah, let's laugh at that too.

More importantly, we've given life to two of the most precious little things I have ever seen. The eldest one doesn't look like me AT ALL, and I was going to ask for a paternity test, but the kid has been so intelligent that I must conclude it must come from my genes.  Let's laugh.

The second kid kinda looks like me, but not really. He's like a hybrid looking dude, with sharp features. I don't know why but I've got a feeling he will inherit my other innate trait. Guess what it is? Yeap, you know me too well.

Really, having kids is almost as good as United winning the Champions League in '99. Almost. 

I'm grateful for my business, which have allowed me to enjoy life and do things that I want to do. People say that money can't buy you happiness, but let me tell you that a lot of things that makes me happy require money.(Which makes me wonder if I could survive in a socialist state)

And hey, I am blessed thus far with good health, an able body, what I believe to be a quad-core processor, and every other thing which are God-given but we cannot say for fear of being viewed by Him as being proud. Laugh now.

It is very easy to look around and find mediocrity, and find solace in the fact that you're doing well as compared to others. But doing well is the enemy of doing great. It lulls you into a falls sense of achievement.

At 27, Mark Zuckerberg is already a paper billionaire. At 25, Usain Bolt is already the fastest man in the planet EVER. At 24, Lionel Messi is already considered one of the best footballers in the world ever. Justin Bieber is only 17. Rebecca Black can name you the days of the week. The list goes on and on.

It's easy then to get depressed if we were to see all these young, successful people. However, let's not get carried away and think that the best is behind us. I tend to think that the average greatness age would be in between 30 – 40. Remember, for every Zuckerberg, there must be a Steve Jobs (56 years old). There's plenty of time to stretch for greatness. IF you can define what constitutes your personal greatness.

Nothing is worse than chase for something that doesn't satisfy your inner personal greatness.I have a vision of where I am, how I look, where I'm staying and what car I drive by the time I'm 35. God-willing, it will all come through.

Anyway, I need to put it out there what's in my bucket list for the next one year and we'll review back this entry by the time I turn 29. These are things that I want to experience and fulfill before I turn 29.

1. I will watch a Manchester United game at Old Trafford

2. I will go to New York

3. I will perform with a band before a live audience (even if it means a wedding…)

4. I will start a new business (does writing a book count as a business?)

5. I will run a marathon (what's the shortest marathon? Preferably 1 km or less…laugh now!)

Hmmm…that's about it for the next one year. The standard making more money goes without saying.

P/S: I hope you guys can spank me if I don't even get at least 3 out of these 5 settled before I turn 29. Really!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Love You Except...

I was having this conversation with a friend of mine who was busy tearing into how shitty Barisan Nasional is (and you know this line of thought has become so easy to pick up that intellectuals should start supporting Barisan for the sheer mental rigor trying to come up with positive things to say...) and as usual include the following caveat "You know I'm doing all this because I love this country...".

I've been listening to this a lot these days. A lot of people are using the line "I love this country..." and the proceed to diss everything and anything you can think of. The traffic, the Government, the Malays, the Government, the Chinese, the Government, the Mamaks, the Government, the economy, the Government, the cost of living, the Government...and so forth. I hear people complaining about how hot Malaysia is, how wet it is, how smelly the city is, how stupid the people are, how lazy we are, how crazy our drivers are, how dirty our restaurants are...well, you catch my drift.

Of course, then these very same people would add, "Oh I love this country". But do they? Really?

It's a lot like you are in a relationship with a girl. Only in this case, you don't get to choose (like an arranged marriage!). You say you're in love with her, but you find her face ugly, you think she's stupid, you hate her attitude, and you can't stand the sound of her voice. So what do you actually love about her? Then once in a blue moon, like during your anniversary, you say nice things about her, and claim to everyone you love her, but for the rest of the year you can't think of how better it'd be if she was someone else.

I've met so many people who can't stop talking about how great the UK is, the US is, how nice it is to stay in Australia, how great it is to be Singaporean. It's like being married to Siti Nurhaliza but can't stop talking about Jennifer Lopez. Then you start finding fault with Siti, like how weird the contraption she's wearing on her head, or how contrived her dancing is. In your mind you wish Siti would turn into JLo. So are you really in love with Siti, or are you actually more interested for Siti to become Jlo?

All I'm saying is, sometimes we just say "because we love this country..." but we really don't. I am not saying we shouldn't criticize what's wrong with the nation, but sometimes I get a feeling people have been criticizing for far too long that all we could say we like about this country is "the food". You can't say you love your wife if the only part of her you love is her nose (and you kinda hate everything else).

As we come to celebrate Merdeka, let us try to take a breather and recall what we love about this nation. Heck, if we have to "recall", then something's not right in the first place. Me? I like that a lot of Malaysians seem to kinda hate being in Malaysia. Now THAT is uniquely Malaysian:)

Just like Public Bank...

Hey, other than the cool remix of Waving Flags (oooo...welcome Tan Sri Teh..."), I don't see what's so odd about this celebration. I'm just curious to know if the great Tan Sri can hire me as his event coordinator because obviously he really like his

Monday, August 1, 2011

Are We For Real in our Pursuit of Happiness?

(I guess that qualifies as the longest blog title by me...ever)

What makes a person happy? If you remember one of my previous post, I was reading this book called Hector and the Search of Happiness. I didn't really follow through on that topic, as I was merely highlighting the important parts of what I thought was a really simple yet engaging story.

I don't know why (maybe you do?), but I feel this sudden urge to revisit this theme of happiness. It could be because I am surrounded by too many people who have nothing good to say about their work, their partners, their income, their life in general. And yet, people are more exposed to self-help materials and motivational thoughts than ever before. Psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist and just plain old counselors are increasing by the day.

Lots of folks spend good money on motivation courses and companies go out of their way to create a "happy work environment". But the reality is that my generation and the generations after mine are increasingly easily dissatisfied over everything and then none.

I've met folks my age who already has gone through 3-4 different jobs in the course of 2-3 years, some even more. I know of couples who have gone through divorce at a very young age, and some have even remarried and are now apparently in the process of breaking up again! I've seen government servants whose education were fully sponsored by the government unhappy that their pay is not the same as those in the private sector. I know of private sector employees unhappy that they're not getting tenure and hospital benefits like those in the government sector.

When the NPE (New Pantai Expressway) was first being built, a lot of Subang Jaya folks were complaining about the traffic jams and slow pace of work. Apparently they don't need the highway. But now, years after completion, Subang folks can't imagine what life would be without the NPE. The other day I was reading about KL folks complaining that the covered walkways being built (along Jalan Pinang etc) is a waste of time and money. Once it's completed, I'll bet they'll complain DBKL didn't build enough.

In other words, we are an easily dissatisfied lot, and whatever satisfies us would only be temporal before we find the next thing to whine and complain about. Why is this so? Why do generations before us can be happy earning half of what some graduates are earning now doing something that's 1/4 as exciting as what some of us are doing?

I was thinking hard about this (well, not really. I was in the toilet...and let's just leave it at that) and I've come to a conclusion we're a bunch of whiners because WE THINK WE CAN.

We're brought up in an environment that encourages dream-building, that espouses "You're The Best" mantras all the time, that highlights more and more success, that promotes the best of the best. When we were kids, our parents no longer say shit like "You're an idiot, learn how to be useful with tools". Instead, we are told "You're special. It's okay you can't read, maybe you'll be a math genius someday".

You think your teachers weren't encouraging enough? Tell me how many of us know of a kid in our class who was actually held back because he or she is an idiot? Even if that kid can't spell "shit" without shitting in his pants, they'd say "Perlu banyak bantuan" and then send him straight up to the next level.

We watch a lot of television, and correct me if I'm wrong, but it's basically a fragment of the best of reality. It creates a culture of, "If he can do it, so can I". We even have a lot of movies where fat ugly people are shown to be able to get the hot beautiful cheerleader/quarterback/Mr.Popular. Books, magazines, movies, papers...every media (despite the so-called depressing news) seems to promote a world of infinite possibilities.

Hey, even if you're an ugly jerk with zero personality, you could get someone super-hot and sweet at the same time. Hey, if you're stupid with an IQ of a donkey, you could still come up with a brilliant start-up and become a billionaire. Hey, a divorce is alright, see all these happy kids of divorced parents on TV. Hey, you can go to space, but only if you're a good-looking dude.

This creates a generation of individuals who believe they can be anything they want to be and do anything they want to do. People say that youths are too negative but the reality is that I think they carry too many unrealistic expectations.

Nowadays, every kid wants to be an Internet mogul with billions in values through creating puff online games that has no actual economic value except to destroy work productivity. Nowadays, every guy thinks that they should get the hottest girl (thanks to all these nerd gets hot girl TV shows and movies) and every girl thinks that they could marry the perfect man (based on the mindless Sophie Kinsella-type novels they read growing up).

Politics and governance is another area where we carry ideals that seems to be based on a perfect world when in fact we live in an imperfect one. We whine when we earn less than RM 10K, but we expect our YBs to be perfectly happy living their life on RM 6-7 k a month. We want our government officers to be smart, educated, high achievers, when most of us who are smart, educated, high-achievers go and apply to join GLCs or private investment banks for better pay and prestige. We want our police to be like those in CSI, but never have we encouraged our smart children to become policemen.

Reality check! No, not everyone can be Seal and marry Heidi Klum. Yes, if you're obese the likelihood of you contracting diseases and not find a life-partner is higher than the average person. No, not every math whiz can create the next Google. Yes, you'll have to settle for that job of yours for a bit longer because you're not good enough for a promotion.

(Haven't you realized that not a single one of your friends ever said something like, "Oh, yeah. My boss is right in not promoting me and giving me a raise. I'm just not ready for that responsibility". EVERYONE thinks they deserve a raise, can take over their bosses job, and should be CEO by 30)

I've long discovered that I am at my happiest when my current situation or a situation in which I have control over, is directly in sync with my EXPECTATION of that situation. For example, someone that realistically have calculated that the average educated person below 30 earns between RM 3-4K a month would have been happy if he or she is in turn earning RM 5-6 K a month.

The problem is, we are now more and more exposed to individuals who are anomalies, and they're highlighted as if they're the norm. Those under 30 earning more than RM 10,000 a month? Those Investment Bankers earning one year bonuses in a failing economy? These are statistical anomalies and yet they become the poster boys and girls of our generation, creating a chasm between reality and hyper-reality.

When that happens, and based on our natural instinct to always compare with others, we become these ungrateful, unhappy, attention-seeking generation who forgets that in life, true happiness lies not in the absolute result, but how much that result matches our own expectations.

I too am brought up in this "Yes, we can" environment. And it has helped me a lot achieve what I have achieved. But not everyone is fortunate enough to have results that matches their expectations. Go ahead, dream as much as you want, but make sure your dream doesn't create an unrealistic vision of yourself. Maybe then, we'll be a little bit more happy with what we have.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Selepas semuanya terjadi...

Ketika aku (terbaca tweet mengatakan penggunaan "aku" adalah manja dan mesra bagi keturunan Jawa. Walaupun aku bukan Jawa, aku rasa saja-saja nak merasa jadi Khir Toyo) menulis coretan ini, lebih kurang genap sudah 48 jam perhimpunan Bersih 2.0 bermula di ibu kota Kuala Lumpur. Aku membaca begitu banyak reaksi, "laporan" dan "analisa" daripada pengkritik tepi jalan, atas jalan, malah yang sesat jalan pun ramai.

Hah! Namanya bukan aku kalau tidak masuk campur. Dari dulu lagi kerja aku masuk campur, macam aku ni pandai, walaupun dulu waktu Tingkatan 3, Ustazah aku sumpah aku takkan lulus PMR. Nasib baik sumpah Ustazah itu jadi terbalik (mungkin ini dipanggil "reverse doa" ala-ala "reverse psychology"), dan aku lulus dengan terlebih cemerlang (harus selit bagi nampak kredibiliti 'cendekiawan').

Jadi sebagai melaksanakan keperluan genetik aku untuk masuk campur dan buat-buat pandai, ini sedikit sebanyak rumusan aku pasal perhimpunan Bersih 2.0 (aku masih rasa Bersih Durian lebih mengikut keperluan zaman sekarang...) :

1. Seperti yang aku pernah tulis sebelum ini, aku tidak pernah hendak menentang "hak" rakyat untuk berkumpul dan bersuara, sebab aku terfikir kalau satu hari ada benda yang aku pun nak jerit di tengah jalan, aku nak ada kebebasan tersebut.

2. Aku setuju sebenarnya bahawa ada pelbagai perkara yang boleh diperbetulkan oleh SPR dan Kerajaan Malaysia (tidak kira parti apa pun). Sebagai contoh, bukan susah nak memperkenalkan dakwat kekal. Susah-susah fikir hendak buat undian secara dalam talian ("online"), lagi mahal. Dakwat bukannya mahal, mungkin lebih sedikit sahaja dari kos minyak jet peribadi pergi membeli-belah ke Amerika.

3. Kalau hendak dibawa berbincang tentang reformasi (ayat ini jangan disalah anggap dan dibuang dalam kamus pro-kerajaan, sebab maksudnya indah) institusi kerajaan memang tidak cukup sehari semalam. Oleh itu, skop coretan kali ini adalah pada perhimpunan Bersih 2.0 dan objektif mereka.

4. Cuma aku terfikir, walaupun kali ini niatnya dikatakan murni (sabar, sabar...), adakah satu hari rakyat Malaysia yang pro-demonstrasi akan menyokong kalau ada kumpulan NGO PERKASA hendak buat demonstrasi menuntut agar bangsa lain ditindas? Bayangkan satu hari elemen rasis dalam UMNO menular (cuba fikir kenapa...) dan mereka bertekad hendak berhimpun bersama PERKASA di tengah kota. Perhimpunan aman kata mereka. Adakah penyokong demonstrasi Bersih akan turut sama menyokong perhimpunan ini? Adakah pejuang kebebasan akan mengeluarkan syair, puisi menyokong perhimpunan ini? Orang kata kebebasan bersuara dan berkumpul itu satu hak, maka hak itu tidak harus ditindas walaupun niatnya tidak murni, sebab siapalah anda untuk menilai kemurnian tindakan itu?

5. Ada yang akan membalas, itu lain, ini lain. Aku setuju bahawa senario yang digambarkan berbeza dari segi elemen perubahan yang ingin diperkenalkan tetapi cara pendekatan adalah sama. Elemen rasis dalam PERKASA ingin menggesa kerajaan mengubah Undang-Undang agar hak bangsa lain dihapuskan, mereka tidak pernah membangkitkan isu ini di dalam parlimen, dan walaupun mempunyai ramai penyokong melalui UMNO di Parlimen, tidak pernah cuba untuk membawa usul undang-undang ke Parlimen. Mereka kata isu ini adalah untuk kebaikan semua, tanpa mengira parti, tetapi mereka tidak pernah berhubung dengan wakil rakyat parti-parti lain untuk mendapatkan sokongan. Masih lain?

6. Aku terdetik untuk memberi komen balas apabila ada yang menyatakan "Inikah polis, memukul rakyat sendiri?". Setahu aku, polis memang tugas dan bidang kuasa ke atas rakyat dan penduduk dalam negara itu sahaja, selagi mana rakyat dan penduduk itu melanggar undang-undang. Aku rasa polis jadi gila kalau kena tangkap orang di Thailand atau Singapura sahaja. Sebenarnya mungkin yang mengutuk itu keliru. Dia sebenarnya marah kenapa diharamkan perhimpunan tersebut, bukannya marah polis. Sebab kalau tidak keliru pasti sedar kalau perhimpunan itu dikatakan haram dan tidak sah, maka polis boleh mengambil tindakan. Sesiapa yang terlibat harus bersedia menanggung akibatnya.

7. Senario ini lebih kurang sama macam aku di Universiti dulu. Aku tidak faham kenapa aku kena saman oleh Pak Guard sebab tidak pakai tali leher pada hari Isnin walaupun jelas aku tanpa tali leher lebih kemas (dan dipercayai lebih kacak) dari sesetengah budak bertali leher tetapi selekeh. Maknanya aku mempertikaikan logik peraturan yang lebih fokus kepada pemakaian tali leher daripada objektif iaitu kelihatan kemas dan segak. Tetapi aku tidak melenting Pak Guard sebab menahan dan menyaman, kerana memang jelas dikatakan hari Isnin harus bertali leher. Aku marah Hal Ehwal Pelajar.

8. Pada hari Jumaat dan Sabtu, aku memang tergerak untuk pro-Bersih. Sebab membaca tweet-tweet indah-indah belaka dari mereka yang berada di sana. Kemudian aku melihat video-video yang dirakamkan. Dan mendengar laporan-laporan berita. Dan membaca lagi tweet-tweet indah. Objektifnya adalah untuk melihat sebaik mungkin senario yang berlaku.

9. Aku punya rumusan amat mudah - kita hanya nampak apa yang kita nak nampak. Macam aku ni tidak mahu nampak apa-apa (harap-harapnya). Orang Bersih cakap semuanya baik-baik belaka, dan aku tahu sebab ramai kawan-kawan aku yang ada di sana memang orang yang baik-baik belaka (serius ni). Aku rasa orang yang baik-baik belaka ni majoritinya melalui pengalaman yang selamat secara amnya.

10. Tetapi jelas juga melalui video-video bahawa ada segelintir dari barisan hadapan yang tidak bersurai walaupun diarahkan dengan jelas oleh polis. Laungan takbir jelas kedengaran (tetapi tidak di-tweet oleh @bersih2 nampaknya) di beberapa video. Laungan "reformasi" juga banyak kedengaran (pun tidak di-tweet). Ada juga video di mana terdapat serangan balas terhadap polis. Setahu aku kita tidak boleh pukul polis, melainkan main "police & thief", itu pun bahaya sebab takut budak menangis.

11. Aku jadi risau sebab kalau dikatakan "media bias" wujud di arus perdana, maka adakah terdapat bias di arus alternatif? Adakah benar perhimpunan ini 100% aman atau ada elemen/anasir ekstremis yang bersedia membuat kacau bilau? Bukan tugas aku untuk spekulasi. Itu kerja polis.

12. Berbalik kepada isu pokoknya - apakah kesan daripada Bersih 2.0?

13. Aku cakap dah sebelum ini, pihak kerajaan seharusnya lebih menangani isu ini dengan kemas dan teratur. Tunjukkan kepada rakyat bahawa mereka okay dengan Bersih, tetapi tidak okay dengan geng-geng politikus yang mengelilingi Bersih. Tetapi Najib dan penasihat-penasihat bijak pandai dari Universiti luar negara jelas ada strategi sendiri. Mungkin strategi mereka hendak lebih ramai orang tidak suka Barisan, macam "double reverse psychology". Ini cakap boleh kumpul tetapi tidak sediakan tempat untuk berkumpul.

14. Tetapi aku juga nak menasihati kawan-kawan yang taksub dengan arus perubahan ini bahawa kadang-kadang dunia ini lebih kompleks daripada apa yang kita sangkakan. Objektif parti politik, secara am-nya, adalah untuk menang. Jangan kita sebagai orang yang boleh berfikir termakan sekadar membaca berita kawan-kawan sahaja. Korek juga laporan dari lawan. Mungkin banyak yang kita boleh nampak dan belajar.

15. Aku sebenarnya setuju sekali sekala kerajaan dan rakyat kena dikejutkan melalui insiden-insiden seperti ini sebagai peringatan. Walaubagaimanapun, aku lebih berharap agar perhimpunan seperti ini tidak dibuat sekadar untuk kejutan sahaja. Kalau nak kezutan, panggil je Aznil Nawawi. Aku harap Bersih 2.0 dapat teruskan usaha reformasi mereka melalui saluran lain seperti di Parlimen, di media, dengan pendidikan kepada generasi muda dan tua. Tetapi aku dapat rasa Bersih ini akan muncul semula hanya apabila hendak menghampiri PRU seterusnya. Harap-harap, tekaan aku ini salah, sebab aku kesian tengok kawan-kawan yang dah melakukan macam-macam untuk perhimpunan ini tetapi perjuangan mereka hanya untuk kepentingan politik sahaja.

Yang penting lawan tetap lawan, tetapi kawan masih kawan.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Follow Me Down The River...

"Congratulations Bersih for making more and more people hate you guys..." was basically the sum of a tweet by someone I'm following.

"Now we have more people supporting Bersih because of you Jibby!" was basically the sum of a tweet by someone else I'm following.

So which is it? Have the recent incidences raised the number of supporters for Bersih 2.0 or have it actually made more people annoyed with Ambiga and gang?

Well, that depends really on your circle of friends. I made the assumption that a lot of people are for Bersih 2.0 simply because of some tweets indicate a growing number of restless individuals willing to risk everything in the pursuit of Bersih's "noble" cause.

But I was at a gathering recently, and the old folks there were really against the rally and Bersih. To them, street demo is not our style. I thought this is isolated to older folks but I started talking about it with some peers and apparently, there's quite a lot of people unhappy with Bersih.

My take on this is simple. Both supporters and detractors must realize that it's a self-fulfilling cycle of information if you keep yourself to only people you like to hear or conform to your views. 

Like Twitter. If you only choose to follow liberals and Opposition-biased individuals, then certainly your feed would be filled with rallying cries and "Najib's gonna learn the power of Rakyat!" shit. I am especially interested to see how single-track some Twitter personalities are when it comes to dissenting voices. It's like bloggers who can't take criticism. When someone criticizes them, the other loyal followers quickly back the writer up, creating a barrier that prevents the blogger from actually listening to valid points.

It gets worse when you consider that if we only follow the people we like, they in hand would continue to gain followers who are only there to say "Wow, you're so brilliant". As more people follow these people, and more of them say "Wow, you're so brilliant", the particular "influencer" would only get more and more cocky and belief that their views are accepted by the majority. I've had my duels with some of them using an alternate account (just for fun), and clearly they're as intelligent as the next person at a coffee-shop - meaning they might be genius, or maybe not.

The sad thing is that those who scream the loudest often appear to be right, when the reality there's a LOT of people who don't support or don't care or don't even know about all these issues (really, there's a lot more of these folks than you can imagine).

I've learned my lesson not to assume that just because NetraKL or Aisehman says something it is automatically correct and supported by all intelligent beings. It's not their fault, but their followers for leaving their thinking cap behind. Because democracy is useless if no one can think for themselves.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Bersih 2.0 is going ahead with its planned July 9th rally in the capital. Here are some brief thoughts on what is, of course, a complicated issue:

1. I am not a fan of demonstrations, especially street demos. I would have applauded the organisers if they had the sense to organize it indoor at one of the many Pakatan controlled State venues (ie. Stadium Shah Alam?). But not being a fan of street demos doesn't mean I am against it.

As a political tool to effect change and influence public opinion (including international media), nothing works better than the sight of baton-wielding policemen going after men, women and children. Maybe that is what the organizers are hoping for?

2. Bersih 2.0 is organized to effect changes to our election system. There's nothing wrong with fighting for what is right and logical, for example the lack of transparency or even the need for massive postal votes. But I'm a bit perturbed at how quiet Bersih has been since the last GE in 2008 and only now, with the looming GE coming up, at how noisy they're trying to be. If it was a proper and legitimate NGO, it should have campaigned, fought, protested for the past 2-3 years as much IF NOT MORE as it's doing this year.

I have little doubt in my mind that Bersih is also a political tool used by the Opposition. Consider that the last Bersih rally was held in Nov 2007, just months before March 2008, an election that saw massive gains by the Opposition.

It's a repeat of the same playbook. That's not to take away the efforts of real bi-partisan activists, but I have a strong believe that it's a matter of "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours". Bersih without the massive grassroot numbers from political parties like PAS could never imagine to gather the number of people it hope to cause real impact.

3. But the reaction from the Government is baffling, to say the least. It has given this rally a life by endlessly talking about it. Even my dad, who has finally abandoned any attempt to keep in touch with real news, asked me yesterday, "What's going on the 9th?". Everyone now knows the date, and the rally. The fear-mongering is not working, and instead curiosity is piqued.

Today they just raided the office of Bersih 2.0, and there will be more pre-emptive arrests coming up soon. The Internet is abuzz with intelligent young Malaysians more and more disgusted by the heavy hand the authorities are using to quell this demonstration. The Government, in effect, has alienated the very group of people it knows it needs to draw away from the Opposition to have any chance of dominating Malaysian politics again. All the gains, if any, from ETP, PEMANDU etc is now lost in a space of a month.

Meanwhile, we have youths linked to UMNO attacking PKR headquarters and opportunist like Ibrahim Ali going all racial, without even a slap by the authorities. To see how silly this has become, Hisham just declared having the Bersih T-Shirt is illegal. Well, I'll be damn.

4. This does nothing but further infuriate more young professionals, and generally helping Bersih get more people invested in their cause. It's like telling people not to rob your house, but then opening the gate and letting people see how much money you have inside. Talk about shooting oneself on the foot.

If it was me in charge of the Government, I would offer the National Stadium with a police guarantee that no harm will come to any participants. This tactical gambit has the advantage of showing you're not against demonstrations, but you're concerned over the well-being of other citizens and to prevent chaos in the city center. Naturally, this offer would be rejected, but the goodwill has been established.

Once rejected, instead of arresting the organisers, work with them on choosing the best route, with safe corridors of passage guarded by the police. Publicize this co-operation.

On the day of the protest, keep your word. Protect the citizens who are exercising their rights. Make the whole protest AS BORING AS POSSIBLE. Imagine the following headline "Thousands March in KL" vs. "Protestors Attacked in KL". The first story would probably get only one or two mentions in the media, especially foreign. But the 2nd one would run for months, generating enough YouTube materials to spur people to hate the government leading up to GE. Nobody would watch videos of people just walking slowly and petition being handed over. But people love to spread videos of police beating up makciks and pakciks.

But alas, I am not in charge of this country:)

Finally, just to re-iterate, I am not a fan of Bersih, much less the Opposition. All I know is that Malaysians just like you and I are trying to say something that they feel strongly about. Maybe this time that thing is not something I share an interest in, but what if one day I want to say something I feel strongly about? Don't just dig a hole when you wanna shit. Think about the future.

p/s : Bersih 2.0 is so dot-com. Now it's all social and cool callsigns like Android Froyo. So maybe Bersih should consider a different name like Bersih - The Empire Strikes Back, or Bersih Durian. LOL

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Operation Malaysia

Just got a text "Malaysia braces for threatened cyber attack on govt website by internet vigilante group Anonymous - REUTERS". Read the star front-page on the purported security threat by Anonymous.

To me, this threat by Anonymous represents a bigger shift in geo-politics. No longer is the world subject to formal laws, but to actions by International vigilantes who, by all account, remain above and beyond the reach of the law. "Cyber-nation" has no rules, no set demographics, no population but instead exist like a collective consciousness of Internet users. It will be a growing threat, which I believe will one day bring down an entire government. The problem is, the basic premise of such organizations is its anonymity making it susceptible to infiltration by foreign elements.

Who can say for certain that there are no foreign government operatives infiltrating the Anonymous rank, and even to the point of leading its leaderless brethren, to perform attacks and hacktivism supposedly for Internet freedom but with an underlying political intention? Who can say for certain that criminals are not masquerading as Anonymous members? Recently Sony's gaming site was hacked and millions of credit card and personal details were exposed. The hack was attributed to Anonymous, but as Anonymous could include anyone, could criminals have access to our accounts?

And now Anonymous is threatening a sovereign government, Malaysia, for its decision to request ISPs to ban bittorrent and file-sharing websites. This is not the first time they've done so. Australia was marked last year because of its decision to start filtering child pornography sites.

Malaysians quickly supports the Anonymous cause because (1) they want their free music (2) it's against the Malaysian government.

My thought on this is simple:

1. Do you believe downloads of music and movies and TV shows for free are illegal? If you don't, then you're an idiot and there's no point in going any further (surprisingly quite a number of people actually think that downloading music and such is legal. Guess KRU's cartoon on piracy failed)

2. Knowing that it's illegal, do you still do it? Yes, I do. We all do. It's part of life. Been downloading since the days of Napster. What other illegal things that you know is illegal but you still do? Let me give you a simple example - speeding. We all have breached the statutory speed limit, some more than others. We all know if we get caught that we have no excuse. It's illegal, and we must be punished.

But we still speed don't we? We just become a bit more aware of where the cops normally do their roadblocks. We monitor #kltu on twitter. We install those sensors that can detect police speed-guns.Or we just speed knowing that the probability of getting caught every time is less than the probability of me hooking up with Giselle Bunchen.

3. So accepting that downloads are illegal, why is it a problem if the police or enforcers or the government take steps to prevent an illegal act? Wouldn't they NOT be doing their jobs if they don't take action?

4. Yes, it'll hurt us for a bit. It'll hurt me and my attempt to build an all-time greatest hits compilation. But we will move on and survive. Every time they put up roadblocks, we find another road to use, don't we?

5. It's more dangerous that we accept foreign intervention on our sovereignty. It's even more dangerous when we cannot identify who these people are.

I know this is an unpopular post, but popularity often masked ineptness. I've learned that on twitter. Plenty of idiots with thousands of followers make me believe that the world is really going down the shit hole. LOL

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I Will Not Neglect You Any More Baybeh...

Oh blog,I have been neglecting you. Yes, we have been together for quite some time, although it still feels like only yesterday I opened up my heart to you. It was sad to leave Undergrounduate, but I knew I had to move on with you.

Problem is, 38 dates after more than two years is a sad sign of our relationship. Yes,I realized thst I don't feel like going out with you if nobody notices how great we are as a couple. I admit I feel a pang of sadness when nobody talks about us.

Yes, I have cheated on you. Remember Facebook? Yeap, we went out a few times but it doesn't feel the same. When I tag people on my dates with her, it feels like I'm forcing friends to watch me make love. So I turned to Twitter. I have to admit Twitter fits the box of what I'm looking for in a relationship right now.

It is simple, uncomplicated, and above all, quick. I know we had some quickies before but being limited to 140 steps kinda forces me to be very much straight to the point,and she accepts that willingly.

But its very simplicity, single-mindedness approach to dating means I miss out on my favorite part of consummation - foreplay and the cuddle afterwards. You see with you, blog, I could take my time, building up the excitement to an inevitable climax and later enjoy a literary equivalent of a stick of ciggy while you purr lovingly in my arms. Sometimes the journey with you, blog, is better than the destination.

And so please forgive me, my dear, for I have neglected you for so long. I promise to go out with you at least once every few days. But I have promised you this before, haven't I?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Anwar's Sex Video

Anwar's Sex Video is now one of the top trending topics, and as such, I shall leave my readers (or what's left of it) with the following thoughts:

1. Any political strategist would have calculated the damage done by the release of the video not only on the alleged perpetrator but also the "alleged" mastermind (UMNO). On the balance of it, any intelligent strategist (which I believe is behind this wave of good feeling for Najib) must have known the reverse backlash would be far severe than the damage to Anwar. As such, who approved of this strategic blunder? Or is it a strategic decision? Or is it what it is - a sex video?

2. I find it insulting to be told by others (especially elitist-type) that this is gutter politics and it shouldn't matter. A sex video of a person, who is alleged to be a Member of Parliament, and potential Prime Minister, is a national concern just as we make a big hype about Rosmah music videos or Hishamuddin's holding a beer picture. If true, it is an illegal act, done perhaps with cover-up involving abuse of power, influence and money. Isn't that a matter that SHOULD be investigated? Just because such abuse comes out in the form of a sex video does not make it any less corrupted than overseas holidays and secret contracts. We cannot just sweep this matter under the carpet because it's dirty.

3. Why aren't there more elaborate set-ups on other PR leaders? Why is Anwar constantly and mercilessly "attacked"? It's quite obvious from the recent PKR election (Azmin saga) that even DSAI is now viewed not so favorably by many PKR members. So why Anwar? It's either (a) personal vendetta by UMNO (b) some stupid strategist thinks that Anwar is still the biggest key (c) Anwar is the easiest target amongst all . If you think the answer is (c), consider why you answer as such.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I should write more..

And read less.

For others...many others, it should be the other way round.

I don't like sleeping alone, especially since there are no good shows on TV at this hour.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Men Are Luckier...

Recently I had a hair cut, and as per usual, I read whatever magazines they provide. I came across a picture of Heidi Klum, one of the most beautiful women in the world, and her husband, Seal. Now, I am all for the "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" concept, but conventionally speaking, Seal is not the most attractive man around. It got me to realize many more instances of beautiful women being with not good-looking men. Like Adriana Karembeu, married to ex-Dutch football star Christian Karembeu (Google that), or Kate Hudson being with Muse frontman Matt Bellamy. You see more of these instances if you just find ugly male celebrities knocking up fine models (Noah Gallagher's ex is the delightful Patsy Kensit, and now he's with ex-All Saints member, Nicole Appleton).
Now, understandably, you'd say,"Of course dude, these guys are famous and loaded. No wonder girls flock to them". If that is true, why don't I see Oprah Winfrey shagging some hot young (but not yet famous) rapper? Why don't I see Martha Stewart with, say, the muscular dude from 98 Degrees? And it still doesn't account for the countless instances I see pretty girls going out with ugly guys at our local shopping malls. The funny thing is, guys are usually the first to notice the gap when presented with this Beauty & the Beast situation.
I think, quite simply, guys treat being beautiful as an integral part to finding someone attractive while girls treat beauty (or looking-good) as just part of the bigger picture of attractiveness. Take a sample of 10 guys and 10 girls, show the guys a picture of a cute but seriously overweight girl, and then the girls a picture of a cute but seriously overweight guy. I'm willing to bet that none of the guys would say they'd date that girl, but a segment of the girls would date him with the accompanying comment "Oh, he's cute like a bear". I have NEVER had a guy friend say the same thing when talking about a heavy girl.
When I talk about the show Entourage, I find it amazing that some girls find Turtle cute. You'd seldom here guys talking about Betty Suarez (from Ugly Betty) in the same way.
Girls are into ugly guys for many reasons. Sometimes these guys are "cool" - like having an afro, wearing small t-shirts and skinny jeans, and driving an original Mini. Seriously, if you're ugly, and you want to attract girls, just look "cool". It works.
Sometimes these guys are "macho" - you can look like a freaking murderer, but some girls find this extremely attractive. Which is why actors like Javier Bardem can get Penelope Cruz. Sometimes these guys are "nice-looking" - the kind of dude they see as being the perfect husband, even though he's got pimples and wear thick-rimmed glasses (which is now the in-thing, if you noticed). Sometimes these guys are "talented" - cue musicians especially rock band members. I cannot fathom till today how Awie got Erra Fazira back then, but what can I say.
The conclusion is, if you're a guy, there are many ways for you to be attractive. If you're a girl, unfortunately, there is not much you can do from the mould God has given you.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

You Can But I Can't?

This is just a short entry based on the following question: If liberals expect conservatives to allow them the freedom to practice their religion in whatever form they want, then shouldn't the same freedom be accorded to conservatives?

I am far from a conservative (seriously, I'm not), but I do wonder whether the liberals agenda is not merely limited to promoting freedom of religion, but actually to prevent the practice of a conservative form of religion? (I can't comment much for other religion in other countries. Here, it's quite clear that I'm referring to Islam in Malaysia). And from my observation, it seems like the liberals have slowly labeled even the most basic observance of Islam as being conservative.

Take for example the wearing of a hijab. Some liberals immediately label these ladies as conservatives. I always thought conservatives means more strict obedience, and if wearing a hijab is actually a BASIC MUST, how can it be considered an act of conservatism? It's like saying a cop is a conservative cop for not taking bribes. Cops are NOT supposed to take bribes, so calling someone who is just actually doing what he's supposed to do a conservative (or straight) is illogical.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I do believe that in Islam, a true believer must not only accept that Islam is a way of life and practice its tenets diligently, but also take on the responsibility to promote the Islamic way of life and prevent any acts not in accordance to Islamic principles. This is the base point, and as such, I cannot find fault with anyone who advises me on what is actually something I should already be well-aware and doing.

I mean, if someone comes to me and starts telling me I should be more disciplined when it comes to prayers, I shouldn't snap and be angry. He's not being a conservative or a fundamentalist. He's actually just doing what all good Muslims are supposed to do. Sometimes I forget that. And though I may choose to ignore him, I cannot, with any clear conscience, ostracize him for telling me the truth.

I am in agreement that what we do is between us and God. But we must not be extreme enough to automatically reject any form of advice from those who are in a better position to think about these issues than us. At worst, we should just smile and say thank you. If you're really open-minded, then you should be open-minded enough to accept that there are some people out there who believe in things differently. If you're really open-minded, then you must accept that there will be close-minded people out there. If not, you're no worse than the close-minded folks you are so quick to criticize.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Oh Fasha, Please Reply My Tweet...Not

Sorry & Thank You

I apologize for the long absence from this blog. I'm sure by now readers are quite used to (1) the once a month sporadic blog posts (2) me apologizing for the once a month blog posts.
Then again, I can't be sure because I don't think I've got enough regular readers to get used to anything I do on this blog. Bah. So if this is your first time, I'd like to say...GET A LIFE.

Overwhelmed With Twitter

I did promise last year that I'd blog again more regularly. Unfortunately, at the same time, I installed the Twitter app on my BlackBerry. Lo and behold, Twitter has overtaken blogging or even FB status as my No.1 venting outlet. When you let go of steam (ie. Tweet) every time you take a break, or shit in the toilet, you kinda lose the momentum to come up with well-formed arguments, relying instead on short 140-characters barbs to voice my thoughts on everything and anything. Guess I'm as good at keeping my promises as the next politician.

I'm only following around 50 people, yet I feel overwhelmed reading their tweets. It could occupy your entire hour if you're not careful and prone to clicking on all the interesting links your friends RT. If you don't know what RT is, it's Rukun Tetangga. Yes, my friends are mostly part of them. That's why they seldom get robbed. Because their neighborhood's RT. Go figure.

My final comment on Twitter is this: Why is there a need to follow everyone and everything if your close friends are already busy RT interesting things from these other people? And yes, my Twitter account is protected (by RT, for the dimwits) but if my friends are reading this, feel free to request (@jimiecheng). Yeap. I don't approve all. You can ask my wife.

Celebrities & Twitter

While on the subject of Twitter, I can't help but note that a lot of Malaysian celebrities are into Twitter faster than they were with Facebook Page/Fans. It's amazing to see the number of followers (yes, Twitter is a cult) they garner. Lisa Surihani (@lisasurihani) has about 80,000 fans. Fasha Sandha (@fashasandha1) has about 64k.

But funny things happen when celebrities get into arguments with their followers on Twitter, like Fasha Sandha and recently Ifa Raziah. I don't follow either of them but I do read some entertainment sites so it comes as a surprise that some of our artists are dumb enough to forget that people follow them BECAUSE they're celebrities. Celebrities live by a different code. I'm sorry but that's reality. If you can't accept it, then tough luck. If you can be proud and RT when people praise you, then you sure as hell should be ready when people diss you online.

The End of Facebook?

Far from me to be a sage and predict that, but the reality is that social network has changed a lot in the past few years. Every time one company gets too big, it'll be shot down into pieces. Just ask Friendster and MySpace (Apparently MySpace still has a lot of leftover Malaysians wanting to hook up for easy sex or lesbian company).

My point is that society has no affinity to an Internet brand to engender loyalty. Simply because the social network is fluid, and constantly rising/falling based on society's (hence the name social network) somewhat irrational pattern of behavior couple with technological advances that could make one mode of networking instantly outdated. The only pure dot-com brand that has truly survived since I FIRST started surfing is Yahoo, and even they have seen their dominance totally shattered by Google.

And now Google is being slowly overtaken by Facebook as the default page on people's browser. This see-saw battle for Internet dominance will continue into the near future. Which is why it amazes me that Facebook can be valued at USD 40 billion - for another Internet company that depends ON ADVERTISING for the bulk of its revenue! Anyway, I know things will go belly-up when Mark Zuckerberg is valued more than Steve Jobs (a guy who actually produces something to sell).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Are You Happy?

I've just finished reading Hector & The Search for Happiness, an engaging story of a psychiatrist who was searching for... happiness. More precisely, he was looking for rules of happiness.

He discovered many different rules, and each one has its own ring of truth around it. It's not meant to be heavy, but sometimes we all need a little nudge to make us realize what makes us really happy in life.

I like it that his first rule is "Making comparisons can spoil your happiness". That, to me, is the problem with a lot of people, including myself. While making comparisons allow us to innovate and create and generally improve ourselves, at the end of the day, does it really make us happy?

Anyway, I wish to highlight an important conversation Hector had with another expert on happiness. Apparently, there's a simple way to "measure" your level of happiness. Just ask yourself these three questions (I'm paraphrasing...):

1. Where are you now as compared to how you see yourself should be?
2. How are you now and how were you in your best moment in your past?
3. What do you have now and what would you like to have in the future? (I'm not sure this is what they have in the book, but it kinda make sense)

The gap in your answers practically shows how happy you are presently.

If for example, at this moment you're an up-and-coming executive, and that's how you imagined life would be, then the gap is virtually non-present, making you at least happy in one aspect of your life. But if you're single, but you imagine you'd be married by now, then definitely it will cause some measure of unhappiness.

The 2nd question is a little bit different. Closing the gap is pretty good (meaning that you're as happy now as you were when you were happiest before) but it would be great if your present self is far happier than your previous self ever was.

My only problem is closing the gap of what I have now and what I want in the future. Being too ambitious is a double-edge sword in that you seldom feel satisfied with what you have, even though what you have is beyond your expectation. I've gotta be mindful of that.

In any case, I am blessed, and if I were to die today, I wouldn't have much regret. Can you say the same?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Transporting WHO for WHAT?

Another massive jam today. And another fuel price hike. At this point in time, I would be slaughtered if I suggested that we may be wasting RM 40 billion in the next 5 years developing the MRT.

It's funny how many people talk about having an efficient public transport system as the priority for Malaysia to become a developed nation. No doubt, being stuck in a jam is no joke. I, for one, am extremely agitated in a gridlock. I'm the type of person who'd rather be driving for 1 hour to get to point B than be stuck in a crawl for 30 minutes heading to the same place.

So let me begin by saying that I am NOT against having a better public transport system. It's just I am extremely annoyed to see the general public being sucked into a simple answer when asked what they'd want from the Government: "Better public transport". For me, this is such a lazy answer.

First, someone has to explain to me the DIRECT correlation between having an efficient public transportation system and economic growth leading to developed nation status. Is it a case of being a developed nation BECAUSE you have an efficient public transport system OR you have an efficient system BECAUSE you're a developed nation? There is a marked difference between the two, and I suspect the truth is there are more pressing issues that requires our focus and limited resources to become a developed nation than building an underground tunnel.

Beijing, Moscow, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Sao Paulo are all cities that are ranked far worse than us Malaysia (we don't even get a mention, and I'll with this later), and yet all (with the exception of LA), experience economic growth far greater than ours (in sum, not as a percentage growth) in the last few years than us.

Secondly, I think it's pretty selfish to assume that if KL is less congested, our whole nation's economy would prosper. Malaysia is not Singapore because we are NOT Singapore. Linking up Kuala Lumpur like it's Singapore may be great for some of us, but what about the rest of the country? To achieve developed nation status or economic growth requires the participation of every segment of our society to move up the value chain, from those staying in Kota Damansara all the way to those growing up in Segi Tiga Jengka. How does this RM 40 billion budgeted help my Kuala Lipis graduates?

Thirdly, what is the actual impact of this MRT project? I mean, think about it. Okay, we all get to go to work faster, presumably on the pretext that the MRT line would accommodate for the increase in urban population and number of vehicles on the road and actually ease overall congestion (I think it will, but not to the extent that you think it will). So? Do office hours actually increase? The vast majority of people using the MRT would still, as a measure of productivity, work 8 hours a day.

Yes, they'll go a bit later to work, and probably get back earlier. For what? Watch more TV? Spend more time hanging out with friends? Having dinner with the family? Good. I think these are great benefits. But are they really all we could expect? Can someone show me the link between having such transport system and an increase in productivity? I suspect that any time saved would be spent on other things NOT related to work. Beneficial in some way to our nation no doubt, but is it the kind of benefits that we look for when we spend RM 40 billion?

And does the job scope or type of work that people do change because of the way they are transported? Does it make our workforce brighter and smarter? Would it spur innovation and creativity? Would it create new self-sustaining industries that could compete globally? I think it won't. It just makes the job of transporting the current workforce, with their current mentality and skills, faster. But it doesn't change the nature of our endeavors.

Let's not forget the increase in land value of the areas surrounding MRT routes, which benefits property developers, spurring even more development in those areas, but at a price far inflated for the average people using the MRT to actually afford without running huge debts.

Finally, how bad is the situation in KL? Please, I've worked in KL before for more than a year, as a regular executive. I know about the whole morning jam (heck, I was from USJ!) and how the evening traffic can be a killer. How expensive it is to find parking and pay for toll. But the reality is that I was once stuck for 3 hours in a WEEKEND crawl in Jakarta. Traffic in Bangkok ain't much better. And on some weekends, it wasn't that smooth sailing in Singapore either. In other words, are we really focusing on the real issue here, or is this just another typical simplistic Malaysia-style band-aid solution to avoid confronting real issues with real solutions.

Like maybe spending money for 5 years to create truly world class universities? Or allocating funds in easy loan program for entrepreneurs to kick start their business, especially in high-value, high-multiplier economic activities? Or ACTUALLY allocating more funds for R&D by local labs? Or can you actually do all these, and still have some spare change to implement non-intrusive, low-capital traffic solutions LIKE:

1. Spreading development from KL to its outskirts therefore spreading traffic concentration
2. Re-look into single school system (Example: 9.30 am - 3.30 pm)
3. Strict town planning and permit approval for new developments

I'm sure there's more but I'm lazy to think too much about it. The Government and the rest of the Rakyat shouldn't be. Remember, HOW you transport is only part of the equation. There's always the WHO and WHAT.

Have fun guys!