Monday, December 26, 2011


Sometime in 2001, probably in March (I can't exactly remember when, but definitely earlier than May), I received a phone call from my mother. Never have I thought that that particular call would bring a major change in my life.

Forward to May 2001. That phone call is basically what the Malays termed as 'merisik'. Although, in my case, it was kinda reverse-merisik since it should be the guy's family recceing the prospective bride. So, I got engaged with my wife until December of the same year. I didn't know at the time but she told me that my decision to accept her hand in marriage is similar to Lord Wellington's summary of the Battle Of Waterloo : "A damn close-run thing" as there is another family who were also asking her hand for their son at roughly the same time. So I guess Field Marshal von Blucher arrived just in time!

What makes our marriage unique (more or less) in modern times is that it is a family-arranged marriage.  Heh, even the clerk at the Religious Department expressed her wonder. Whilst I do know my wife previously as our families are very close (if not actually related - I'm still not sure myself!) I did not have feelings toward her then. Somehow I have the feeling that is why our love is stronger, as the saying goes 'bercinta lepas kahwin'.

Thank you sayang for being a faithful, devoted and loving wife and mother. The last 10 years was among the best in my life. Sure, there are some incidents (sedangkan lidah lagi tergigit!) and I look forward to more happy days together.....till death do us part. InsyaAllah.

p.s. this was supposed to be posted on 22 December, the 10th anniversary of our wedding but, ah you know the rest!

Monday, December 05, 2011

1,000,000 IQ Drop!

I have a confession : I'm a gameshow junkie. Ever since 'Tekaria" aired on RTM some time in the 1980s, I'm hooked enough that I 'participate' in the shows. My wife even suggested that I auditioned whenever the producers are considering the next season of the show(s).

However, having watched RM1 Million Money Drop a few nights ago, I wonder if there is a conspiracy behind the scenes (so that nobody can win RM1 million) or that the participants are really well, "general-knowledge challenged". I mean, consider these facts:

1. The Malay idiomatic expression "Lari macam lipas kudung"
2. The late Biduanita Saloma's real name was Salmah Binti Ismail
3. Masak Lemak Cili Padi originates from Negeri Sembilan
4. Dondang Sayang is a traditional song/dance of the Babas
5. Kenyir Lake is in Terengganu

However the contestants' choice for answers were:
1. "Lari macam semut"
2. Salma Binti Hayek (which is, actually Salma Hayek of Desperado fame and definitely NOT Puan Sri Saloma!)
3. Johor
4. The Minangkabaus
5. Perak

Extremely easy questions, yet the contestants FAILED!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Heavy Metal Is Good For You!

In my previous posts, I have mocked some so-called 'health products' for their outrageous and ridiculous claims of health benefits. Now I have come across some other products (one is salt (salt!) and the other, let's call it 'magic water'). Now both of them claimed that their products contains '72 (the other claimed 84) minerals needed by your body' and listed down 61-71% of the elements in the Periodic Table as 'needed' by us. Now it's either they really have all those elements in their product (which in turn implying that they are actually idiots) or that they just write of all of them down in order to sound more 'scientifically' authentic to the general public (which also make them idiots and worse, scammers)
Now, let's see what are the elements they claim to be beneficial to us, shall we?
Astatine, Radium, Plutonium, Uranium- radioactive
Manganese, Arsenic, Rubidium, Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, Barium, Beryllium, Thallium- toxic

So, consuming radioactive and toxic elements is good and that our body need them huh? And by the way, most of the other elements are not actually needed by our bodies!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

If This Is A Consular Ship, Where Is The Ambassador?

OK, that title is not really related with what I'm writing here but it's close enough.

For years now archeologists have unearthed various artifacts from ancient civilisations, especially of the Aztecs and the Mayans. Some of these artifacts are intriguing such as airplane-shaped objects, 'helmeted' figurines, drawings of a king inside some kind of rocket-propelled vehicles and hieroglyphs of planes, submarines and helicopters. Others even tried to point out higher radioactive counts at certain ancient ruins as evidence of a nuclear war some time in the past....

For some, these are the evidence that ancient civilisations were not as 'backwards' as they were usually portrayed. Still for some, this means Earth were once frequently visited by extraterrestrial beings who shared their superior tech with the ancients.

While I'm quite open about aliens and UFOs, I'm actually quite sceptical about these trinkets, paintings and carvings being the evidence that ancient civilisation tech were just as advanced as the 20th-21st centuries'. I mean come on, we have 65 million (and even older) fossilised bones as the evidence of the existence of dinosaurs but not one of the remains of the actual so-called ancient airplanes, subs or rockets has ever been found. So if they were real, where are the remains? Granted that since they are made of metal, they might have corroded down to nothing from the time of the civilisation's decline until its discovery. But again, not even ONE? I mean, even remains of Egyptian chariots have been found in the Red Sea....To draw an analogy; should humans disappear overnight ( like shown in Life After People), the only evidence of our usage of planes, trains and automobiles are scale models and toys!

Another reason which makes me sceptical is that these people only shows photos of 'airplanes' and 'rockets' but not one land vehicles such as automobiles. So it could be either the ancients were so advanced that there is no need for land vehicles (so how do they commute from house to work - flying cars like airspeeders in Star Wars?); they somewhat look like the German army during WW2 (advanced aircraft and tanks but  most of the artillery and support units were still horse-drawn) or that they (the theorists) actually drew the wrong conclusion?

So, to paraphrase Darth Vader from Star Wars Episode IV :  A New Hope; "If the ancients use planes to commute, where are the remains..and where is the airport?"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Muzium Ouessant Melaka

Baru-baru ni (dua hari lepas je) ex-SSK Perancis Ouessant tiba di Melaka untuk dijadikan muzium. Kapalselam bekas Marine Nationale Perancis ini digunakan TLDM melatih kru kapal selam kelas Perdana Menteri dan aku sokong sepenuhnya usaha ni....kat US dah banyak museum ship sebegini dari USS Intrepid di New York sampai USS Missouri di Pearl Harbor. Masa aku kat UK pulak aku berkesempatan melawat HMS Belfast. Walaupun bukan 100% milik kita pada asalnya, sekurang-kurangnya ia boleh membuka minda rakyat tentang teknologi ketenteraan dan juga azabnya berada dalam kurungan besi bawah air demi mempertahankan negara.

Tapi sayang, masih ada 'katak-katak' bawah tempurung yang memilih untuk terus tinggal bawah tempurung, walaupun mereka mampu untuk menolak tempurung tu sendiri. Nak kata dia orang ni bodoh kang marah pulak...tapi bila tengok statement dalam facebook tu terserlah pula kebodohan tu (ke ketaksuban melampau?). Apa2 pun mari kita tengok pilihan terbaik statement mereka ni.....

"Membazir duit aje beli buat perhiasan" (Kalau buat terponggok diam membisu tu ye la jugak, ni dijadikan tourist attraction berbayor, membazir ke? Dan paling ironi kalau si pemberi kenyataan ni akan turut beratur nak masuk!)

"Kapalselam Scorpene ke ni? Yang beli RM4bilion" (ni Ouessant, kelas Agosta la!)

"Hahaha beli buruk 2, free 1 berkarat" (Masih ramai terpengaruh gambar Tunku Abdul Rahman tengah service - berteritip dan nampak buruk; sebab ramai ignorant landlubber, tak tahu apa jadi kat bawah waterline kapal)

"adeyyy..kapal ni dah lama ada kat Lumut...guna untuk latihan di permukaan aje...takleh menyelam" (Yang tu ex Dutch Navy punya Zwaardvis....takkan tak reti beza Belanda dengan Perancis?)

"Ni kot yg dulu yg dulu tak bole selam yg dibeli oleh mindef? Tu yg tukaq scorpene 2 biji, padahal bg duit kat satu org tu beli yg ww2 punya 2nd hand, rupa2nya nilah dia akhirnya muncul gak" (Apa-apahal Ouessant dibina pada 1979, jadi bukan la 'WW2 punya secondhand')

Dan yang paling repetitive "..nak buat tukun" dengan "besi buruk"

Hairan jugak, lagi zaman Information Teknologi berkembang, masih ada yang tak dapat maklumat.....

p.s. Pertanyaan aku cuma satu aje : Apasal cepat na jadi muzium, dalam seminggu sampai dah buka untuk umum...tak buat ubahsuai ke? Apa-apa hal kalau ada kesempatan, aku pun nak pergi jugak!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Doing Islam A Disservice

As Muslims we know that our religion is The Truth. There are no ifs and buts about it. However as Allah has given us the brain to think and with human's curiosity, it is natural that we want more answers and proof to strengthen our faith. There are plenty of things and happenings around us to show His Greatness and even science has proved it. However there are still people who makes things up in order to show the truth of Islam. Instead giving Islam more credibility among the non-Muslims, it makes us a laughing stock. Take the following calim I found in a forum. Bear in mind that there are still the truth in that guy's claim. However mixing made-up 'facts' with the truth doesn't make the story 100% the truth! 

"The Kaabah is not only the Qiblat, but also the focal point of Man in his everyday life. The simplest example is our Astro satellite dish. Did you notice that most of them faced the Qiblat? That is because Makkah is the centre of the world....."

Some things in this world remain mysterious and no amount of scientific exploration can find the truth; others can be revealed and shows the Truth of Islam. However, trying to justify Makkah/Kaabah as the centre of everything by using the Astro sat-dish as example is simply pathetic. Our Astro dishes receive their signal from MEASAT-1 and MEASAT-3 commsats sitting 23,000 miles (or something like that) above the Indian Ocean at longitude 91.5 degs East and so it happens that some sat dishes have their orientation coinciding with the Qiblat, so there. And the guy's third sentence contradicts himself - why did he write 'most' instead of 'all'?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Headhunters!

When I was a kid, we children were warned not to wander or play alone because some nasty guy armed with a sickle might spot us and lop our heads off. The severed heads will then be buried underneath bridging projects so that the 'water spirits' are appeased and won't interfere with the projects. As kids we were really terrified of such stories and terrified still whenever we came across farmers who bring their sickle around (actually they need the sickle to gather weeds and grass for their livestock). The growth and development of Malaysia during the late 70s and early 80s with a number of infrastructure projects going around give more 'substance' to story, especially during the building of the Penang Bridge.

As time goes by, such stories faded from our collective mind, although it still surfaces from time to time although not as frequent as it was in the 1980s. The reason I wrote about this entry is because I probably have found out the myth behind such stories. It didn't even originate here, it was in London! Bored at the end of the office hour, I checked out the Wikipedia and it was theorised that the popular nursery rhyme 'London Bridge Is Falling Down' refers to the burying of children under the bridge's foundations so that the bridge won't collapse unless human sacrifices were made - which was debunked by archeological findings.

So, there you go. There were actually no sickle-swinging men looking for human sacrifices, it was just a tale brought by the Brits and adopted by us generation after generation....just like a bunch of other urban legends....

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Man On The Moon Revisited (Again!)

The debate whether man has set foot on Earth's only natural satellite rages on 39 years after the last flight of the Apollo space program in 1972. Many conspiracy theorists point out the 'irregularities' showing up in the photos but recently a forumner said that his own SCIENCE teacher is not convinced that Neil Armstrong et al has reached the moon. His reason?

"The moon's too hot...even hotter than the volcano (lava that is)...At night its too cold...colder than the Poles (North and South Poles that is, not people from Poland!) so that engines and equipment  are unable to function"

And also "Combustion needs can the engines fire when there is no oxygen on the moon?"

Bear in mind that it was a SCIENCE teacher who said that.....

As a note:
1. The moon (or indeed, the space) is very hot during the 'day'...but not as hot as lava. Average 'day' temperature on the moon is 117 degrees Celcius whilst lava is anywhere from 700 to 1,200 degrees Celcius. At 'night', it is indeed colder than the Poles with an average of -203 degrees Celcius.

2. That range of temperature exists not only on the moon but also just outside our atmosphere where there were hundreds (if not thousands) of satellite operating perfectly since Sputnik in 1957.....

3. About the last point, has the teacher never heard of liquid oxygen?

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Hunt For Football Jerseys

Yes, I know, at the age of nearing 39 maybe I should no longer wear football replica jerseys as some might consider that age to be too old to be wearing one...but who cares? I'd rather wear a Manchester United home kit with 'Rooney 10' on the back rather than wearing bermudas or whatever they call the just-under-the-knee length garment in order to look 'urban'.

Anyway, during the rather long weekend recently, I managed to go to Padang Besar to buy some casual clothings - there is quite a selection for XX (or more)L-sized clothings there. So I managed to get myself some undies and a work shirt. I still have change from my shopping budget and I thought, why not buy Adham a replica shirt? OK, I'm not into pirated goods but in this case, I ignore my principles as i) it's hard to find toddler-sized original replica shirts in Malaysia and ii) even when available, it's too large for him.

You need to be selective in choosing the fakes as they come in many grades (my brother knows better about this...haha). At least nowadays they come with the original manufacturers' logo (adidas, Nike, Reebok etc) as compared to 'localised' logo (such as 'Fly Hawk', 'Joelouis' etc) of yesteryear. Anyway, I managed to buy the Malaysian home jersey in which the ways (to me) to know that it's a fake is that the fabric is not as soft as the original and that the tags and labels look cheap. The wife wants to buy him a MUFC jersey but alas, he spotted a toy truck and we had to settle for the Malaysian jersey only. 

Anyway, looking at Adham's new shirt makes me want to buy one for myself, this time an original item. So off we went to Alor Setar. I checked out the Seberang Perak branch of Al-Ikhsan-nope, they have none in my size. So we went to the Teluk Wanjah branch. Yep, they have one in stock. Unfortunately when I tried it, it's so tight it feels more like an XL rather than XXL. Somehow the allegations that they (Al-Ikhsan) sells counterfeit goods as original crossed my mind then. However, it cannot be, as it has the hallmarks of a genuine item. Perhaps Nike manufacture the Malaysian replica jerseys with 'Malaysian' size in mind...arghhhh.  So I don't buy it. Anyway, I cannot help but notice some discrepancies in shirt sizes. For example, my old Argentina World Cup 98 shirt is quite comfortable to wear whilst the German WC2010 (of the same size-XXL) feels a bit tighter. And to make it a bit silly, my New Zealand All-Blacks shirt from 1999 is quite loose despite being one size smaller! So, nobody can accuse me of being 'unpatriotic' for not having a Malaysian jersey in my wardrobe!

Anyway, for my next 'quest' I intend to buy jerseys from non-UK clubs such as Ajax, Inter, PSG etc However such jerseys are very difficult to find in Kedah (or for that matter, Al-Ikhsan stores outside KL). So perhaps a visit to my old haunt, the original Al-Ikhsan outlet at BB Plaza is in order whenever I'm in KL.....

Monday, September 12, 2011

Buta Sejarah (Edisi Spin Control)

Itu hari aku dah post pasal baghal yang buta sejarah. Kali ni aku nak post pulak pasal si baghal yang sama cuba nak kembalikan kredibiliti dia.......

"Sila lihat nama-nama yang terukir sebagai pejuang di Tugu Negara,ada anda lihat nama-nama yang kemelayuan? Adakah tiada askar melayu yang berjuang di dalam mempertahankan negara?
Adakah semua orang melayu ketika itu bersembunyi...takut? Atau hanya tentera Brittish yang berjuang dalam mempertahankan Tanah Melayu dari serangan atau tawanan Jepun?

The Naval War Memorial juga adalah sebuah tugu yang di bina untuk menghargai jasa semua askar yang terkorban di dalam peperangan.Memorial ini terletak di Plymouth Hole (Plymouth HOE la bongok) yang terletak di Bandar Plymouth,United Kingdom.

Kebanyakkan tentera dari Tanah Melayu ini adalah tentera laut yang berjuang bersama-sama tentera Brittish yang lain.
Sempena bulan kemerdekaan tahun ini kita sedekahkan Al-Fatihah kepada semua tentera Tanah Melayu yang terkorban. Al -Fatihah.

Gambar diatas jelas menunjukkan British lebih melayu dari melayu itu sendiri. Di England, nama melayu terpahat ditugu memorial tetapi ditanah air sendiri, melayu diabaikan.

Kepada anak muda Malaysia sesekali pergilah melawat tugu negara dan fikirkan fakta-fakta yang terpahat di situ kemudian cuba fikirkan dari siapa kita merdeka."
Artikel blogger berkenaan dipos dalam forum oleh orang yang sama menyokong idea bahawa Leftenan Adnan et al, anggota polis di Balai Bukit Kepong cuma berkhidmat untuk penjajah dan tak layak dipanggil wira....tapi kat sini anggota MRNVR yang terkorban ketika Perang Dunia Kedua  secara langsung atau tidak dianggap mereka sebagai wira pula walaupun situasi mereka sama dengan Leftenan Adnan. Double standard tahap terkeji atau cubaan nak menutup malu? (Yang menyebabkan dia terjerat sendiri...sampai sekarang mangkuk tu tak jawab pertanyaan aku kenapa anggota MRNVR tu patut disanjung tapi Leftenan Adnan dikeji..padahal ikut dia mereka semua tu sama-sama berperang 'untuk penjajah')

Dan pasal dua perenggan terakhir dalam posting blog tu...sekali lagi la aku jemput dia untuk ziarah Muzium TD kat Port Dickson tu. Dan aku nasihatkan kat dia, toksah la nak jemput-jemput orang, diri sendiri pun jahil lagi....pergi sendiri! Lagipun situasi 'nama kat tugu' tu pun sama aje....Nama-nama MRNVR tu kat Plymouth, bukan kat London..sama macam nama-nama anggota pasukan keselamatan...kat Tugu Negara kira secara umum, butirannya kat PD.....

Monday, September 05, 2011

Buta Sejarah

Aku rasa ramai yang tahu pasal kenyataan buta sejarah oleh seorang Timbalan presiden sebuah parti politik di Malaysia ni. Aku tak nak komen pasal kenyatan dia...tapi kenyataan penyokong dia yang aku rasa lebih merapu dari asal....

Ni dipetik dari blog seorang blogger yang boleh tahan kebaghalan dia....

"SILA lihat tugu negara (sebut tokong negara) ini baik-baik! Selama ini, setiap kali hari pahlawan, perdana menteri akan meletakkan kalungan bunga di tugu ini kononnya sebagai tanda memperingati pejuang kemerdekaan yang terkorban.

Kononnya inilah pejuang kemerdekaan yang terkorban atas nama keamanan dan kebebasan. Malah terpahat tulisan "May the blessing of Allah be upon them". Pejuang-pejuang ini didoakan agar memperolehi rahmat dari Allah.

Namun hakikatnya, siapa yang percaya bahawa nama-nama pejuang yang terpahat di tokong negara ini sebagai pejuang, maka dia telah berjaya ditipu oleh British. Lihat bukti di bawah ini.

Kenapa banyak nama Mat Saleh? Mat Saleh penduduk majoriti Tanah Melayu ke? Orang Melayu semua pergi mana? Kah kah kah...

Rupanya negara ini negara British! Sebab itulah pejuang kemerdekaan adalah askar-askar British! Orang Melayu semua dipanggil komunis kah kah kah...

Kenapa ukiran wajah muka patung macam muka orang putih? Orang Melayu zaman dulu macam muka orang putih ke? Kah kah kah...

United Malays No Otak kata, ini fakta sejarah, siapa tak percaya sejarah ini dia penyokong komunis kah kah kah...

Mari sama-sama kita doakan askar-askar kafir British ini semoga roh-roh mereka dicucuri laknat kah kah kah... (kalau ada askar British yang beragama Islam doa ini terbatal)"

Faktanya, senarai nama Inggeris tu adalah nama anggota tentera British yang berasal (mungkin lebih tepat lagi menetap atau bekerja?) dari Negeri-Negeri Melayu Bersekutu (Federated Malay States - FMS) yang mati ketika PERANG DUNIA PERTAMA, bukan Darurat (lihat tahun 1914-1918 pada gambar tu!). Dan nama-nama tu diukir pada Cenotaph yang dibina oleh British pada 1921. Selepas Perang Dunia Kedua dan Darurat, British menambah nama pada Cenotaph tersebut dan sebab Cenotaph tu dibuat British maka hanya nama tentera bangsa mereka sahaja yang ditulis disitu! Perlu juga aku nyatakan yang Cenotaph ini lebih kurang tugu negara asal di Cenotaph Road (sekarang Jalan Tugu) dimana lokasinya ialah bulatan depan Masjid Negara/Stesen Keretapi KL lama. Bila kompleks Tugu Negara dibina pada 1963, Cenotaph ini turut dipindahkan ke lokasi sedia ada.

Juga cadangkan kat blogger bangang ni supaya rajin-rajin le pergi Port Dickson, bukan nak berpiknik tapi ke Muzium Tentera Darat...dan tolong baca pelan-pelan nama-nama yang terukir kat tugu dalam perkarangan muzium tu...dan juga ingat2 le bahawa PKM tak letak senjata hingga 1989...32 tahun lepas merdeka.

Jadi siapa yang last sekali ketawa dan siapa sebenarnya yang 'No Otak' wahai blogger bangang?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Johnny Foreigner

OK, I know, this entry is terribly outdated but I have to write it somehow.

The Malaysian national football team has been eliminated from getting a place in the Group Stage of the Asian Qualifying Rounds for World Cup 2014 by Singapore. Many of the local supporters felt that Singapore 'cheated' by fielding naturalised players (up to 5, IIRC, during the second leg). In actuality, the FAS simply exploited the loophole in the FIFA regulations regarding naturalised players, so they can simply say they are not the Singaporeans can claim that their population base is relatively small!

Even though allowed under FIFA regulations, I feel that creating a national team which includes frustrated footballers who can't get into their respective national teams is morally cheating. Players who until several months (at most, a few years) before were citizens of PRC, Bosnia-Herzegovina and England were suddenly Singaporeans! Then, there is another FIFA ruling, the 'Grandfather rule' which allows players to represent the country of his grandparents' origin. This ruling allows players like Vinny Jones (who is English) to represent Wales, or that a number of Jamaica's players at World Cup 1998 have never set foot at Jamaica! At least the Grandfather Rule tie the player (more-or-less) with his roots....

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

95 Or 97 (or 100?)

This is an old story but has never been pondered by me. So here goes the background....when the government decided that there will be two grades of petrol - RON 95 and RON 97 where 95 is subsidised and the 97 is allowed to float, there were numerous grumbles. Chief among them is that the consumers are basically 'forced' to buy the 'lower grade' 95 RON fuel (as it is cheaper). But what takes the cake is the allegation that RON 95 petrol is drectly or indirectly responsible for a number of road accidents which ended with the vehicle erupted into flames (and killing the trapped victims).

In one particular blog, the blogger alleged that many of these fiery ends to a road accident should not happen if RON 95 is not used. He alleged that:
1. RON 95 is unsafe - it burns easier than RON97 hence the reason of the more frequent fires
2. RON95 is the 'standard' petrol for Europe (read temperate climates)  because of the milder temperatures than Malaysia, so burns less easily in frigid weather.....

Now, I'm not a petro-chemical engineer but I believe all that he said is pure bull. If RON 95 is inherently unsafe and is the cause of those fires, then how come NOBODY alleged that the old RON 92, once available in all petrol stations, (remember the Bangladeshi pump assistant asking 'Merah ka Hijau?') was dangerous? If 95 is more dangerous than 97, then surely filling your vehicle with RON 92 then is an equivalent of writing a suicide note! While I guess it's true  that lower RON numbers is more combustible, the difference is actually academic..they all go Kaboom whenever in contact with spark or fire. Another rather unacademic comparison is that a plane still goes kaboom when it hits the ground despite the fact that uses fuel less combustible than petrol - kerosene.

As for his allegation that RON 95 is OK for Europe because of their milder temperatures (an average 20 deg compared to Malaysia's 32).....let's see
Bahrain - RON 92
Egypt - RON 92
Indonesia - RON 92
Israel - RON 92

Three of the countries above have higher average temperatures than Malaysia, yet RON 95 is actually the premium grade for them!

As for RON 95 affecting performance...I agree if the car manufacturer recommends higher fuel ratings than RON 95. But on average, even high-end performance car manufacturers recommend the minimum of RON 92. There may be slight loss of performance although I cannot say it for myself as I only own a Persona (heheh). However certain idiots allege huge degradation of performance such as "Kancils can now overtake me on the highway!", or "I can't restart my car after it stalled!" or "my fuel consumption suffered!". So much of this is fact, or how much is actually imaginary? I once have to revert to RON 97 for a week after the local petrol station ran out of 95.....but I can't feel the 'positives' these moaners allege. Perhaps these moaners are justified if they're using high-compression ratio engines as fitted to performance cars but no....they are just your average drivers with 'normal' cars....but knowing Malaysian drivers these moaners are probably those who enrich the PDRM to the tune of millions of Ringgits for speeding...hahaha. While using higher RON number may give better performance (real or imaginary) to your 10 year old internet site mentioned that the real diffrence between using lower and higher RON fuels is only on your budget for fuel....

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Autobot Adham

Last Friday, before we made our way back to Kedah, my kids wanted to buy storybooks so off we went to my former favourite haunt, 1-Utama as there is an MPH Bookstore there plus it is quite conveniently located close to NKVE (so that I won't have to wade through city traffic).
Since the MPH at 1-Utama is located in the New Wing, I parked my car there and we make our way to the shop. When we emerged into the New Wing concourse, we found that there is a Transformers : Dark Of The Moon promotion, complete with a 22 feet high replica of Optimus Prime. A number of The Transformers toys were on display and of course for sale. Being a fan myself, I told my wife that I'd like to take a look around after we finished buying the kids' storybooks. However, unsurprisingly perhaps, my son, Adham practically dragged us towards the concourse, not because he saw that replica Optimus, but a real Chevy Camaro! It turns out that Chevy is also co-promoting their products with the Camaro taking centre stage. So, we give in to him and let him have a closer look at the Camaro. And, as my brother had said in his blog, Adham do has 'good taste' (make that 'expensive') in his choice of cars...he totally ignored the also displayed Optra, Aveo and Cruze....and he wanted to get inside the Camaro! (The Camaro was not opened for public viewing unlike the more 'regular' Chevys mentioned above)
I told my wife about my brother's remark and she told me that it is true....the price tag for that Transformers SE Camaro is RM 488,000!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Roads We Travel

Despite the the title, this entry is not a reflection of my life....I'm not good in exposing my feelings anyway!

Last week, I posted in my Facebook status something about a road in Batu Pahat. One of the roads is named 'Jalan Mohd Akil' which is incidentally is my father's name. So I joked that I can blantantly flouted road rules there and if people angrily yelled at me saying 'Ingat ni jalan bapak kau ke?' (Do you think this road is your father's?!) I can unhesitatingly say 'Yes, it is!!'

Anyway, jokes aside, the roads in Batu Pahat town are mostly named after persons (and yes, some of friends can also claim, jokingly, that certain roads 'belong' to their fathers!) These people are actually long-dead gentlemen who were the founding fathers of the town. Despite that, I virtually have no idea of who these gentlemen (and some ladies too) are. Quite a shame, huh? I don't even know who the actual 'Mohd Akil', whose name was enshrined on that road, was. The more famous names are known however such as Penghulu Rahmat, whose name became the main thoroughfare in town; Mohd Salleh aka Dato' Bentara Luar who was the architect of the town back in 1894; Lim Poon, a Chinese tycoon in the old days...and that's about the extend of my knowledge! Perhaps a full day need to be spent at Batu Pahat's Historical Society whenever I go back there!
We travel on the roads every day. Some are travelled frequently, some are not. We took note of the names but we didn't know the story behind the names. After all, we think, what for? Remembering the people behind road names will not give you a pay rise nor allow you to travel faster to your workplace, but it allows you to remember part of history and by remembering history and to learn its lessons, allows one to better his own or the community or the society's future.

- Many people make mistakes when asked about Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (KL). Many answered that it was named after the first PM of Malaysia when in fact it was named after the first Yang DiPertuan Agong (the PM was TUNKU whilst YDP Agong was TUANKU!)

- Revisiting Jalan Mohd Akil in BP. The road has an intersection with Jalan Sultanah and Jalan Ismail. Now when I was a teen, I have a crush on this girl whose father's name is Ismail. So the fool that I was took it as a good omen / prophecy (oh, please!). As the saying goes, 'Manusia merancang, Tuhan Menentukan'......I lost contact with her after I went to Shah Alam and for all I know she might have a family of her own. And as for me, the prophecy did come true - the son of Md Akil is now married with a granddaughter of a Ismail!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Under The (South China) Sea

While browsing through a local defence forum, I came across an article pasted by a member of the community. The article which was originally written for Asia Sentinel, is concerned with the purchase of submarines by SEA navies. In short:

1. There cost-benefit value of SSK (diesel-powered attack submarines) is questionable. Also many subs were lost in peacetime accidents and that only two ships (Argentine cruiser General Belgrano and Indian frigate Kukhri)  were ever sunk by submarines post-WW2.

2. SEA countries are on SSK-shopping spree whilst other navies are reducing them, citing Germany and Denmark.

3. SSKs have the advantage of stealth, flexibility and deterrence. An SSK with torpedoes, missiles and mines and air-independant propulsion system is a formidable weapon system which most navies have to respect.

4. Their weakness is high acquisition and running costs. They also demand high technical skills to operate (implying that SEA manpower is not smart enough) and especially vulnerable in shallow waters (like those surrounding SEA)

5. Modern ASW weapons force subs to deeper waters and reducing their effectiveness in conventional ops.

6. These subs would then be used in a more unconventional missions such as intelligence-gathering and specops - missions that could lead to increased tension between neighbours. Plus the local manpower is not smart enough to conduct such missions (again)

7. Reasons for SEA countries to acquire SSKs:
- Part of their 'Total Defence' concept
- Helping the local defence industry to build newer design SSKs for RSN use or for export

- show of strength to PRC and to tighten bonds with Russia
- internal politics - to placate the military and the nationalists

- none given by the writer

- matching the RSN
- purchase is questionable because of the shallow waters around the Spratlys and the Sulu Sea
- purchased in order to facilitate the payment of huge bribes to the close associate of the current PM (then the Defence Minister)

Now while I agree that operating subs in shallow waters presents its unique challenges, most of the articles sounds bull to me. Twice in the article, impliedly or otherwise the writer implies that we are too dumb to operate submarines.

And then his reasoning for the purchases - Singapore needs SSKs to fulfil its defence and industrial needs; Vietnam in order to face the might of the PLAN plus the political dimension. Us? We bought them in order to bribe a guy....My friend Mumuchi points out that the RMN wanted SSKs in the inventory since the 1980s, when even the Defence Minister was a different person! Bloody ridiculous! Furthermore the writer expressed his puzzlement on why RMN wish to operate subs in 'the shallow waters of the Spratlys' whilst neglecting to mention that the Vietnamese's potential flashpoint with the PLAN (or for that matter, anybody else who makes the claim upon The Spratlys) would be around the shallow waters there!

Also while he is bemused by the fact that the SEA countries are operating SSKs 'in shallow waters', the US Navy's latest submarines, the Virginia-class is designed to operate in littoral waters and so is the UK's Astute-class. Plus from what I read in the past, be it the US Naval Instiute's Proceedings or Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising, the US Navy views the SSKs as serious threats - mainly because SSKs on batteries could be quieter than even the SSNs!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Teksi Plastik

Satu hari Di Shah Alam sekitar 1992. Lokasi : dalam kereta dari Seksyen 18 ke Kompleks PKNS. Pelakon : Aku dan dua-tiga kawan yang blur.

Sedang kami melewati jejantas jalan keretapi (yang dekat stesen komuter Shah Alam), aku cakap : "Kalau korang tengok belah kiri, nanti nampak teksi plastik". Masing-masing menoleh dan semua kata "Kitaorang tak nampak apa-apa pun?". Aku cakap "Ada...kat Shah Alam aje ada teksi plastik." Diaorang tak puas hati dan kata, "Balik kita lalu lagi situ." Dalam perjalanan balik aku kata, "Cuba tengok betul-betul" dan kebetulan ada satu teksi lalu...diaorang kata "Yang tu ke?" Aku kata "Itu teksi biasa" dan sebab tak puas hati kawan aku (tuan kereta) pusing kat Seksyen 19 dan lalu lagi kali ni pelan-pelan. Aku kata "Tak nampak jugak?" Diaorang kata, "Takde teksi pun, lori ada la...itu pun nampak normal". Aku kata, "Cuba tengok betul-betul...kat bumbung kilang tu." Yang paling blur antara kami masih tak faham. Dan akhirnya aku kata "Tu "Teck See Plastic Manufacturing (M) Sdn Bhd"" (Teck See Plastic = Teksi Plastik!)... diikuti antara gelak paling besar setakat tahun 1992......

Monday, May 09, 2011

'Power' In Almost Anything!

Aphrodisiac : substances that increases sexual desire. Or in Malaysian slang : 'power' or 'ubat kuat'. From the ancient days until now many food or just about anything is reputed to be able to enhance your libido. Some are scientifically proven (more or less) but the rest are mainly bulls**t, having more of placebo effect on the user.

Some of the reputed aphrodisiac is  simply ridiculous. The rhino horn is considered an aphrodisiac merely because of its resemblance to er, the male reproductive organ. The tiger's penis is considered an aphrodisiac because the tiger is supposedly virile and aggressive and eating its body parts will transfer its strength to the eater (which is ironic, because I read somewhere that tigers only mate for 15 SECONDS)

Almost every culture has its aphrodisiacs but I believe that us Malaysians tend to treat almost any exotic food as aphrodisiacs...perhaps because of our location smack in the middle of international trade routes since hundreds of years ago. Even if the substance/food has other medicinal benefits, we tend to emphasise on it's aphrodisiac quality. Take tongkat ali (eurycoma longifolia) for example. It has been proven to has anti-malarial, anti-diabetic and anti-microbial properties....but we still concentrate on its aphrodisiac properties! We eat dhab (Egyptian Mastigure lizard). While Western medicine uses leech for its anti-coagulant property, we use them as rubbing oil to enlarge you-know-what. And recently a man claims that termite queen is an aphrodisiac. The list goes on and on.

Oh well, that's us, while others went into the jungle and come out with potential cancer, cardiovascular or diabetic cure, we went into the jungle and came up with another aphrodisiac whether true or otherwise. Well what can I say, since some of us refer to their reproductive organ as 'weapon'?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Little Boy Who Loves Cars

Recently my brother wrote in his blog about my son who amazed him with his uh, ability to recognize car makes. He actually began to show fondness to vehicles when he was a bit younger, well make that when he was 2 years old! Call me irresponsible but among his first toys were the Shell Ferrari collection! When Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen hit our shores, I bought almost the entire collection of the main characters' toys (it's for me actually) - when bought they stay in their robot modes but nowadays all have been transformed to their vehicle modes. His favorite? Bumblebee (Chevy Camaro), Sideswipe (Chevy Corvette Stingray concept) and Skids (Chevy Beat concept).

One trait he shares with his sister is his love of magazines. Of course he is still unable to read - he's just attracted to the colourful pictures in them, be it pics of Mickey, Spongebob or Upin and Ipin.  But since a couple of months back, I sense that he is more interested in real cars! Previously I mentioned that he is fond of the caharacters in the animated movie Cars, he is now more interested in real cars! He is especially fond of the current model of Mitsubishi Lancer and goes 'Wow!' whenever he sees one ( a neighbour owns one, and without fail he will turn his head towards the neighbour's yard whenever we pass tin front of his house). Furthermore I indulge in his passion of cars by telling and showing him the various marques of cars, from Perodua to Rolls-Royce. So basically he recognises the car makes through their marques. Even so, he still confuses the prancing horse of Ferrari with the lion of Peugeot (which makes him say that Pak Ngah's former car was a Ferrari!) or the Honda marque with Volkswagen's. Or that every Proton is a Persona....

But what I find more amazing (maybe not, but interesting nevertheless) is his ability to recognise shapes. Sure, all 3 year olds do but just how many can recognise the grill pattern of a Merc,or a Rolls? One of his favorite 'reading material' nowadays is a copy of Auto Trader...plenty of car pics. Even though the pics are rather small, he can recognise most of the cars, especially the high-end ones (even though the marques are mostly blurry).I believe that is why he can recognise an Alphard recently even though his view was restricted. I wonder if we have a budding Paul Tan or Jeremy Clarkson here?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It's The Final Countdown!

Anyone remembers the movie The Final Countdown? The one where USS Nimitz travelled back through time to 1941, just hours before the attack on Pearl Harbor? That movie was one of my favourites (and also brought the then VF-84 Jolly Rogers to fame). The main theme of the film is concerned with whether to use the Nimitz's awesome striking power to stop the attack (hence altering history) or just to stand by allow history to proceed 'normally'. Towards the end the Captain decided to attack the Japanese strike force only for the time storm to return and bring the Nimitz's task force and their aircraft back to the present (hence restoring the timeline)

As a kid I was mightily impressed, well mainly with the striking skull-and-crossbones insignia of VF-84 and the F-14 Tomcat...haha. As I get older I keep thinking about the basic story of time travelling. And I wonder what would happen should any of the modern armies managed to be transported back in time. And recently in Mymil forums, a member asked what could happen if our armed forces (TD, RMAF and RMN) on exercise are caught in a similar time vortex and were transported to 1941 on the eve of the Japanese invasion. The scenario envisaged the best of our equipments including Su-30s, Hornets, Astros MRL, PT-91 Pendekar MBTs, Perdana Menteri-class SSKs, Lekiu-class FFGs and Laksamana-class FSGs were transported back. A number of members expected that the modern armed forces would surely trounce their World War 2 equivalents. While I (as do a number of others) agree, there is the possibility that time-travelling Malaysian army may not beat their WW2 counterparts. Here's why (we are under the assumption that the scenario -units on maneuver/regular patrol- in The Final Countdown is at work):

In The Final Countdown, the Nimitz Battle Group is basically self-contained not to mention that these CVBGs do not sail for the fun of it that is they have to be ever ready for possible hostile actions. So once transported to 1941, they can take out the Japanese Kido Butai as they already have their 'live' weapons with them. In the TUDM-on-exercise scenario, unless the airbases of Gong Kedak, Butterworth and Kuantan were also transported back in time, the Hornets, Flankers and Fulcrums would have to face the Japanese with whatever ordnance they have on board and once they went 'bingo' everybody have to eject out of their planes for the existing airfields were unable to support modern jets. Perhaps the Flankers and Fulcrums can land (because of their rough airfield capability) but then they would interned by the Brits with the jets becoming sitting ducks as the only supplies of jet fuel were at Britain and Germany (for their jet fighter prototype program). And that is just about the fuel situation. How about maintenance? Ordnance? That's why unless the bases were also transported to 1941, there's nothing the RMAF can do stop the invasion.
As for the Army, logistics also play a large role. Unless they were caught during live-fire exercise, the Astros, Pendekar et al would be simply useless. As for the infantrymen, as far as I know live bullets were not used universally during exercises and the men's Steyrs and Minimis would be simply become that medieval (or for that matter, cavemen) weapon: the club as 5.56mm rounds were not invented until around the late 1950s. It could get worse should we train using MILES gear).

Should the Navy got caught in the time-storm, like in the movie, they could be the best equipped to meet the invasion force. Admittedly I am not sure myself the status of our ships' weapons loads on exercises but I am pretty sure the navy have live ammo aboard whenever they are on patrol. Although pics sometimes show they have less weapons on board (eg four instead of six Otomat canisters on board the Laksamanas), modern weapons could probably wreak havoc on the Japanese fleet. There is a problem however - modern  naval guns are puny. The biggest guns in the fleet are 76mm OTOs aboard the Laksamanas and Kedahs as compared to the monster 356mm (14 inch) on board the two Kongo-class battleships assigned to protect the invasion fleet (not to mention the 140mm (5.5-in) guns on the light cruisers and the 203mm (8-in) on the heavy cruisers. Sure, the main weapon are the Exocets and Otomats but there are more ships in the Japanese fleet and the combat vessels are more heavily armoured which may lessen the impact of modern missiles.

So interesting it may be, the time travellers could be doomed by reason of being out of time, especially for the Air Force, whose modern planes are highly maintenace-dependant. Should they be successful anyway, it raises the question of 'grandfather paradox'. (i.e If you travel back in time and you kill your grandfather, will you be snuffed out of existence?)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Car Crazy

We Malaysians are simply crazy about vehicles. The statistics quoted in The shows that we are ranked third overall; behind just the United States and Luxembourg with 641 vehicles per 100 people. So that roughly translates to 180 million vehicles on the road! OK maybe it's not like that but it simply shows our obsession with motor vehicles (which means cars, I believe nobody goes gaga over trucks and construction vehicles).

We still manage to get to such a 'coveted' spot despite the everyday grumbles (and which politicians try to exploit) that car prices in Malaysia is among the highest (if not THE highest) in the world, that the price of fuel is too high and that many of the highways are tolled. Any of those factors are actually enough to deter potential car owners, but no, not us! We like to say that we need to own cars because of the unreliable public transport. To a degree yes, it's true. But being a former public transportation commuter myself, part of the 'unreliability' has it roots in ourselves - there are simply too many cars on the road, choking up the roads hence slowing down the public transportation! It gets worse when a most households own more than one vehicle and everybody wants to use their vehicles at the same time. Not only these vehicles choke up the roads but they also gobble up parking spaces especially at apartments/condos!

Perhaps another measure of our obsession with cars can be measured by the number of car accessory and modification shops. Not content with having a car, a sizeable number of car owners spend a further hundreds and even thousands of Ringgit to modify their vehicles. These range from simple cosmetic additions to near total transformation of their car. Many a Proton Wira and Waja owners transform their rides to resemble Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution - sometimes subtly, sometimes bordering on the ridiculous. Even beat up, rusty old buckets were given enhancements such as new engines and bloody noisy exhausts. Whatever they do, the modified vehicles can be classified to two - eye candy or eye sore! Oh there are also those who transform their cars into boombox on wheels.

Despite the high prices we still manage to choke our roads...I wonder how terrible the jams would be should car prices drop, oil prices fall and the tolls terminated......

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wild Bukit Pasir

My family moved into our current home in 1978. When we moved in, there were only a few neighbours, as most of the land is covered with rather thick vegetation and a small patch of swampy grounds - in fact some of her friends wondered why did we moved into a relatively forsaken location even though it was fairly close to Batu Pahat town centre (roughly 5 kilometers). Even so, I like the location - rather rustic  despite being close to the town. I remember that just at the edge of the plot was a small ditch with plenty of fish. Sure they are just small examples of ikan sepat (guorami) and puyu (climbing perch) but were a source of wonder for us town-dwelling kids. The ditch opposite our plot of land had more fish stocks such as the aforementioned puyu and sepat but also larger fishes such as ikan keli (catfish) and haruan (striped snakehead). There was even the odd tortoise.When it rains the ditch sometimes overflows, bringing the fishes across to our land where we usually picked them up and put them in the aquarium. Sometimes my late father let us accompany him (and later on our own) into the bushes behind our plot of land where we discovered another ditch, this time with ikan laga (betta) in them. The swampy plot of land to the right of our house is the home for a small number of burung ruak-ruak (white-breasted waterhen) with their loud croaks and pigeon-like coos.There was even burung but-but (Coucal) plus the usual suburban species like burung pipit and tiung (mynah) and other small birds. The bushes to the left of the house consists mainly of long grass and small plants the dominant of which was kemunting from which the housing area got its name.

Even though our home is only some 5km from town centre, it has that kampung feel, in fact the area where the house is located was considered a relative backwater then. The area from where the current Tunku Ibrahim Building now stands down to the village of Bukit Pasir consisted mainly of shrubbery, swamp and rubber plantation. There were also some farming (probably squatter) colonies with their smelly pig pens and duck ponds. Traffic on the trunk road consisted mainly of commuters heading towards Parit Sulong, Sri Medan, Yong Peng and beyond,  or Tasek Merdeka, a local lake garden. Traffic flow was really light that I sometimes can lark around on the road! 

But that was some 20 to 30 years ago.....

Around 15 years ago, a number of food stalls sprang up nearby. Their waste water enters the drainage ditch reducing the quality of the water. Some time earlier than that a petrol station (complete with a small workshop and car wash facilities) was bulit (now there are two) further degrading the ditch. The water is now oily and most of the time, black. There are no signs of life in it anymore. The squatters and their livestock are long gone. In their place is a massive commercial and residential area, centred around the Square One / Carrefour shopping complex. In fact the entire secondary forest / rubber plantation/swamp have been replaced with housing estates. The are now massive number of vehicles on the road especially when factories sprang up in Tongkang Pechah a few kilometers down the road. Even the road in front of the house has become busier since many commuters use it as a short cut between Jalan Kluang and Jalan Bukit Pasir. Sure, the muddy / dusty dirt road has been replaced with a fully tarmaced one. Such is the price of progress huh?

I am also unable to find traces of burung ruak-ruak nowadays. All is not lost however as the the area around the house is still covered with shrubs and thickets (even though I can no longer find the kemunting plants) and that the trees are larger. The area is still a haven for birds and there are now a couple of squirrels too! But I keep long will it last?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rain Of Death

During the last couple of days, I have received the following text messages and e-mails:

Japan government confirms radiation leak at Fukushima nuclear plants. Asia countries should take necessary precautions. If rain comes, remain indoors first 24hrs. Close doors & windows. Swab neclskin (sic) with betadine (povidone-iodin) where thyroid area is, radiation hits thyroid first. Take extra precautions. Radiation may hit Malaysia at starting 4pm today. Pls send to your loved ones."

"A Nuclear Power Plant in Fakumi Japan exploded at 4.30 a.m today. If it rain tomorrow or later,dont do outside.If you are outside, be sure that have rain protector. It’s acid rain. Dont let it touch you.You may burn your skin, lose your hair or have cancer. This applies all asian country.Please pass, stay safe and remind everyone you know”
Scary huh? Makes you want to stay indoors and makes great excuse to skip work! Ok lets assume that Fukushima is 2011's Chernobyl, scattering radioactive material into the atmosphere and starts to poison the atmosphere a la the On The Beach scenario. When that radioactive clouds arrives over Malaysia, it won't matter whether it rains or not - the radiation / fallout WILL get you. It is just a matter of whether the fallout is wet or dry. Apply betadine to protect the thyroid? Betadine is an antiseptic, designed to kill germs not stopping radiation, so it's totally useless. And what's the point of protecting yor throat when the rest of your body is exposed to radiation? Might as well cover yourself head-to-toe with old-style toothpaste tubes or MOPP / NBC suits!

But that could only happen if there really is a Chernobyl-type nuclear accident in Japan. An the way I see it, even if that do happen, the country most likely to suffer fallout would be....the United States. Oh by the way, the first message is not even original - it originally started in the Philippines...someone just substituted 'Philippines' with 'Malaysia'

As for the second text message/email, it sounds scarier than the first one, only it's not. Acid rain and nuke fallout are different things altogether. Besides the real acid rain does affect humans directly - no burns from acid rain people! The concentration of acid in the rain is too low to cause direct harm (indirectly is a different matter of course) Besides, if there is another Chernobyl here, large areas of Japan would be affected first (and  the worst). We still haven't seen that right?

OK for the time being it is just a hoax. The situation in Japan is still critical but even if all hell breaks loose, I believe we are still safe.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Pale Blue Dot"

See anything of interest in that photo? No? Perhaps you wonder why do I put a grainy, mainly dark nothingness with brown streaks here? Look can you find a bluish dot halfway down the brightest brown streak on the right? Yes? 

That 'pale blue dot' is actually Earth, our home. The photo was taken by the Voyager 1 space probe in 1990 from a distance of 6.1 billion kilometers away - basically at the edge of the Solar System. I have seen computer graphics showing how insignificant our home is as compared with the Universe. However this photo actually gives more meaning to me as this is a real photo. At the distance of just 0.06 light-years away, the sphere with  40,000km circumference is reduced to an insignificant dot. 

On that pale blue dot is my home; our home.On it we are born. On it are everything we know - everything we love and hate. We walk the surface of the dot with pride, we poison its waters and skies. On it we spill blood all in the name of becoming masters of that small dot; sometimes merely for a fraction of it. In the darkness of space, there are no other dots we can migrate to, a place we can call a new home. So remember, that single dot is our ONLY home....that is all we have got....

Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Idiot Of Idiots"

During wartime, certain fighting men, specifically fighter pilots were given the title 'Ace Of Aces', that is, the highest scoring pilots. However recently a friend told me a story, it could be a true story or it may even be apocryphal. After hearing it, I decided to call the character in the story as 'Idiot of Idiots'!

During New Year the organisation where this character works conducted a get-together cum New Year address by the big boss. Attendance is basically compulsory although some leeway were given to those who have to attend more pressing business. In order to help boost attendance and also as a way to reward the staff for sacrificing their weekend, the management agreed to give those who attend a one day leave (that, despite the event only took HALF a day) plus a few other non-monetary incentives. So the event came and went smoothly.

However two months after that, the organisation received a letter from the Labour Department demanding answers on why the staff were required to work on a public holiday without receiving even a cent of the triple overtime rates they are entitled to. The Labour Department enclosed a copy of the complaint letter from Mr Idiot alleging that the staff were forced to attend, basically going to work on a public holiday and did not receive overtime rates for their trouble. While the Labour Department do have to take every complaints seriously and require that the employers give their explanation, perhaps they should've simply thrown this particular complaint into the waste bin.

The employers have pointed out that attendance was not exactly mandatory and that they have granted replacement leave to those who did attend. But the best explanation was reserved for the last and perhaps completely justify the tag 'Idiot of Idiots' I bestowed upon the complainant - 1 January is NOT a public holiday in the state where the IOI works! Sure, 1 January 2011 was a Saturday but the best the idiot could actually expect was double rates. Even then it might not apply to him as his complaint letter sounds like one written by a managerial-level employee in the organisation where they are ineligible for overtime payment!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Han Solo He Ain't

I have read about them in print and electronic media but I have never met them 'in person' until yesterday afternoon. I 'm talking about smugglers who bring contrabands out of our country such as fuel, cooking oil, sugar and to a lesser extent, flour. Sure, I have met citizens (mostly elderly)of our neighbouring country buying packets of sugar and cooking oil at the local departmental store.  At least they look like they are going to use the items for their own need - even though that means that we are subsidying the wrong group of people.
But what really rankled me happened yesterday. I was at one of the local fuel station, waiting for my turn to fill my car as there was quite a lot of cars. What caught my attention was a blue Proton Iswara filling its tank on the pump next to mine whose driver looks well, suspicious. OK the average car in Malaysia has a 50 liter tank and at the current rate of RM1.90 per liter for RON95 petrol, the absolute maximum he could fill is 50 liters (of course) and roughly costing RM95. But this guy is filling up to RM150 which translates to 79 liters of RON95! Realising that cars are starting to queueing up behind him, he stopped and moved off the station...or was he? After I finished filling my car up, I spotted the same car returning to another pump, the same guy came out and after giving a thumbs-up signal to the worker at the counter, start to fill again! Sure, if we average Joes want to fill our vehicles up, we need to place a 'deposit' first but this guy simply gave a thumbs-up! Something's really smell of ikan pekasam here!

I have no doubt that that guy is a smuggler - a local rather than one from the neighbouring country.  Everything about his car smells of it. The car is rather nondescript plus it has a longer rear suspension system. According to a friend, smugglers have vehicles like that - when the car is full of contraband, the spring compresses and the car is having a more or less neutral 'sit', reducing suspicion from authorities. An average can also fill only up to 50 liters but this guy definately have at least a 100 liter capacity tank. I have a very dim view of smugglers and I actually view them as traitors...and traitors deserve DEATH!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Things We Did...All Those Years Ago

I have just read an entry in my brother's blog. It was about the floating lanterns recently banned in Malaysia as it was alleged to cause hazard for air traffic. What really rekindle my memory were his last paragraphs where he told the story of us burning crumpled newspapers so that the trapped hot air caused the paper to float upwards and back down with a fiery glow (potential fire hazard, right?) and that our mother never knew about it (that is until our sister read the entry and reported back to her!). Well, that was not just one act of misdemeanours when I was a kid...there's a number of them, really.....

Pompeii Writ Small
When I was a kid, my late father planted a jackfruit tree. The tree later became the home for a couple of colonies of kerengga (a large, biting ant). The ant soldiers were a constant threat to me whenever I tried to sweep the dried leaves on the ground. So what did I do? Spray them with insecticide? Bah! That's conventional so I tried something exotic - melted plastic from discarded pails and basins. I burned off one of a large shard of plastic so that the melted plastic fell to the ground, incinerating any unlucky ants caught underneath it. Certain plastics even melted like raindrops - making my extermination efforts much easier! Then I got even more, uh, sadistic.....Instead of attacking the ants on the ground, I attacked their nest (or is it hive?). The kerengga made their nest by folding the jackfruit leaves so that the nest is protected from the elements, leaving only one entrance for them to get in and out. So, I fill up the entrance with chipped wax (or plastic, but I usually use wax), light up a match or a candle and place the flame underneath  the nest.... Then I open up the nest and got a thrill looking at the dead ants, entombed in wax (or plastic)...... just like the victims of Vesuvius in Pompeii....

On every pressurized can was the warning to not to dispose off of the can in fire. Yet that still didn't stop me from burning discarded insecticide cans! Originally 'discovered' by accident while burning the trash (which was my usual chore at home), I tried to create the same effect whenever a can was discarded. However I took a rudimentary (ineffective really) safety precaution. Instead of placing the entire can in the fire, I just place the spraying nozzle in (so that the fire will melt the nozzle - then igniting the residual propellant and oil-based insecticide, without increasing the pressure inside the can, or so I hoped). I then retire to a safe (perhaps not) distance, wait for a few seconds and out came the flame from the can, complete with the 'whoosh' sound a la military flamethrowers!

Nowadays, even many of the Chinese find the firecrackers annoyingly loud and a nuisance. The last Chinese New Year was relatively quiet compared to 20 years ago. Then, it became a virtual battleground with sounds of 'machineguns' and most annoyingly 'aerial bombs'. So did we make a police report? No! We decided to get even. So during Hari Raya we bought mercun roket (the larger ones which gave 'pom!' sound rather that the smaller 'pop!' one). These fireworks were intended to fly straight up but we decided to angle them so that they will fly on a low trajectory, exploding on top of the particularly noisy neighbour's house (during CNY) as a form of 'revenge'. Apart from launching the fireworks at a slanted angle, I also made a 'launcher' for them using a 2x4 board on which were attached a 3/4" plastic pipe and shorter pieces of wood. I originally intended to use this contraption as a 'bazooka' but decided not to and instead using it as a 'mortar'. Apart from fulfilling its mission as a Vergeltungswaffe, I also got a kick from hearing the 'whoosh' sound as the fireworks made its way through the pipe.....

There are number of other naughty acts we did as children but I simply cannot recall them at the moment.....

Monday, February 14, 2011

SGPV : What 'They' Really Want

Name : SGPV (Second Generation Patrol Vessel) to be named 'Sampan' (since the first generation vessel were logs and dugouts)
Length : Not more than 10 meters
Displacement : Depends on building material. We consider wood
Propulsion : COPAM (Combination Petrol And Manpower) Main propulsion system is outboard motors. All suppliers of motorcycles, hardwares and just anybody who stock outboards are welcome to submit their tender proposals. To save petrol since all available fuel are to be distributed freely to the rakyat, oar positions are to be incorporated.
Sensors : Eyeball Mk1, Eyeglass Mk2, Windcock, windsock, psychic sensors (when available)
Weapons : Giant sized catapult, swords (for boarding), loudhailers (a personal request by the 'PM' since they remind him of his student and reformasi days) for delivering harsh words.
Aircraft : No hangar. Deck facilities for Cheapskate UAV (RC toy chopper with digital video recorder hanged aboard)
Tender method : Open. All ship contractors around the world are invited. Your specs will be revealed to other parties participating in the bid.

"This design is so much cheaper than the previous government's proposal for SGPV. 6 Billion RM for just 6 six ships, bah! With Sampan class, we can build more than 600-ship navy! Should he still be around, President Reagan would tear his guts out  since even he can't build a 600-ship Navy! We are going to build a Navy so that people can walk from Semenanjung to Sarawak without getting their feet wet!" Said one gomen spokesman, Mr Non Sen Se.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Six Billion Ringgit Question

Recently the Ministry of Defence announced its intention to acquire six SGPVs (Second Generation Patrol Vessels) in order to strengthen the Royal Malaysian Navy. The programme was budgeted to cost RM6 billion...definitely a huge sum of money whichever way you look at it. However, that announcement provided the ammunition for the Opposition to start blasting the government. Mr Tony Pua of DAP alleged that that purchase price, which is RM1 billion per ship was 'over-inflated' by as much as 870%! He quoted that similar ships, such as the Irish Roisin-class cost RM103m, Greek Super Vita (Roussen-clas) (RM329m), German K130 (Braunschweig-class) (RM572m), the 'at war' Israeli Sa'ar 5-class (RM791m) and even the US Littoral Combat Ship (RM913m). The supporters of them quickly nod their collective head while firing off in the 'Net. And as usual, their buzzwords are 'corruption', 'crony', 'why do we need more weapons?' and similar words and sentences.

Impliedly, they allege that there is hanky-panky around that humongous price inflation. They present evidence in the shape of the price paid by other countries who use similar ships. On the surface, yes it seem so, especially when we compare the price paid by the other countries. However just like an iceberg, there is more under the surface, which the esteemed Mr Pua chose to ignore...shall we examine them?

1. The term PV (patrol vessel). Despite the designation the ships are to be armed to the teeth, ready to fight off enemy warships, not chasing after some smuggler's sampan or illegal immigrants' tongkang (according to certain quarters in a well-known local online forum). In actuality they are corvettes or light frigates - I believe the decision to designate the ships as 'patrol vessels' was a political one, to avoid accusations of arms race. Even so many thought that the SGPV REALLY are 'patrol vessels' and thus are overpriced for their supposed job of going after smugglers, pirates and illegal immigrants.

2. As I have stated before, purchasing weapons systems is not the same as buying your groceries. Sardines are sardines whatever their labels...if you're skint, buy the cheaper ones. Weapons systems such as ships are different matter altogether - you simply can't look up on Wikipedia and start comparing prices! As Dzirhan  Mahathir said in his Facebook page, a corvette is a ship which displaces anywhere from 500 to 2000 tons with various permutations of electronics and weapons fit, speaking of which.....

3. Tony Pua made that 'apples vs oranges' comparison (or according to Dzirhan Mahathir, comparing between a Mini Cooper to a 4WD). Here are the specs of the various ships he quoted plus Dzirhan's humorous additions (in italics)! [Prices in USD]

Proposed Second Generation Patrol Vessel (Malaysia)
Meko A100 concept
DCNS Gowind concept

Displacement: 2000 tons
Length: 99 meters
Contract date / price per unit : 2011/2012 / USD329 million
Weapons: 76mm gun (OTO?), light autocannon (20/30mm?), SAM (RAM? Aster?), Anti-ship missiles (MM40 Exocet?), ASW weapons (324mm torpedoes?)
Aircraft Support Facilities: Helipad/ hangar for ASW/Multipurpose Helicopter
Main Role: Frontline warship
Ancilliary Role: Annoying Indonesia by patrolling disputed waters, annoying the Opposition by being build by Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) (BN = Barisan Nasional, get it?)

Roisin class Offshore Patrol Vessel (Ireland)

Displacement: 1700 tons
Length: 78.9m
Contract date / price per unit : 1997 / USD34 million
Weapons: 1 x OTO 76mm, 4 x 7.62mm GPMG
Aircraft Support Facilities: None
Main Role: Fisheries/ EEZ Protection, SAR, maritime enforcement
Ancilliary Role: Proving the Irish are still relevant outside rugby, St. Patrick's Day and Irish jokes
Differences from SGPV: 13 years ago price, guns only (OK make it 1 gun and 4 machineguns), 700 tons lighter, 11 meters shorter, no helicopter facilities.

K130 Braunschweig class Corvette (Germany) 

Displacement: 1,840 tons
Length: 89m
Contract date / price per unit : 2001 / USD 185 million (Pua quoted USD108 million)
Weapons: 1 x OTO 76mm gun, 2 x Rheinmetall MLG 27 27mm cannon, 4 x RBS-15 anti-ship missiles, 2 x RAM CIWS
Aircraft Support Facilities: mine-laying capability, helicopter hangar for 2 UAVs
Main Role: surface combatant, supplementing Gepard-class FAC(M)
Ancilliary Role: Scaring the French when it cruises in the English Channel
Differences to the SGPV: Minelaying capability, no conventional helicopter hangar, no ASW capability, 300 tons lighter.

Protector-class Offshore Patrol Vessel (New Zealand)

Displacement: 1,900 tons
Length: 85 m
Contract date / Price per unit : 2004 / USD70.5 million (but could get higher according to NZDF)
Weapons: 1 x MSI DS25 / M242 Bushmaster 25mm cannon, 2 x Browning M2HB 12.7mm HMG
Aircraft Support Facilities: Flightdeck and hangar for ASW/GP helicopter
Main Role: Maritime surveillance / EEZ enforcement
Ancilliary Role: Saving Middle Earth from seaborne invasion (no need to enlist the help of the Army of The Dead)
Diffrences to SGPV : light guns only, ASW capability rests with embarked helicopter only, 300 tons lighter, 10 meters shorter

Sa'ar 5-class Corvette (Israel)

Displacement: 1,275 tons
Length: 85.6 m
Contract date / Price per unit : Early 1980s / USD260 million. But bear in mind the special US-Israeli tie which may help the Israelis in securing a favourable price plus most of the electronics and combat system plus the Barak SAM are locally-built which may help keeping the costs down
Weapons: 8 x Harpoon ASM, 1 x Phalanx 20mm CIWS, 8-cell Barak SAM, 2 x Mk32 324mm torpedo tubes
Aircraft Support Facilities: helicopter deck and hangar
Main Role: Frontline warship
Ancilliary Role: Inviting attacks by anyone who hates Israel (missile magnet for Hezbollah or just anyone who have access to anti-ship missiles!)
Diffrences to SGPV : Some 700 tons lighter, 10 meters shorter, virtually gunless, possible favourable price (not to mention 20 years ago).

Super Vita (Roussen) - class Fast Attack Craft (Missile) (Greece)

Displacement: 580 tons
Length: 62m
Contract date / Price per unit : 2000 / USD108 million
Weapons: 8 x MM40 Exocet ASM, 1 x RAM CIWS, 1 x OTO 76mm gun, 2 x OTO 30mm autocannons
Aircraft Support Facilities: None
Main Role: Fast Attack Craft
Ancilliary Role: Discouraging the Turkish Navy in the Aegean
Diffrences to SGPV : 1700 tons lighter, 30 meters shorter, no ASW capability, no helicopter facility, different class altogether.

Littoral Combat Ship 1 (Freedom-class) (USA)

Displacement: 3,000 tons
Length: 115m
Contract Date / Price Per Unit : 2005 / USS Freedom (LCS-1) costs USD637 million. Rest of the class could be between USD430 million to USD440 million.
Weapons: 1 x 57mm gun, 2 x 30mm autocannons, 4 x 12.7mm M2HB HMG, 1 x RAM CIWS, N-LOS missile
Aircraft Support Facilities: Flight deck and hangar for 2 MH-60 helicopters and UAVs
Main Role: Operations in the littoral zone
Ancilliary Role: Showing that there are always money available at the Pentagon
Differences to SGPV: HEAVIER and L-O-N-G-E-R than the SGPV. Weapons and aircraft support facilities comparable to SGPV. Actually MORE EXPENSIVE than the SGPV

Littoral Combat Ship 2 (Independence-class) (USA)

Displacement: 2,784 tons
Length: 127.4m
Contract Date / Price Per Unit: 2005 / USS Independence (LCS-2) costs USD704 million. Rest of the class could be around USD430 million to USD440 million
Weapons: Guns fit similar to Freedom-class, 1 x SeaRAM CIWS, modular weapons fit
Aircraft Support Facilities: As Freedom-class
Main role: As Freedom-class
Ancilliary role: As Freedom-class
Differences to SGPV : See Freedom-class

So, there you have it. While indeed the most of the prices quoted by the well-versed Mr Tony Pua is spot on and lower than the one projected for the SGPV project, all of them are for ships smaller than the SGPV and in most cases, less capable. Furthermore most of the contracts were signed a number of years ago and in the case of the Israeli Sa'ar 5-class, more than 20 years ago! I mean come on, even the price of roti canai was different just a couple of years ago! Even worse, the number-challenged Mr Pua also said that the LCS Project cost less than the SGPV...well I'm not sure in what Universe does 329 million is LARGER than 440 million....

Anyway, even with these hard numbers, I don't believe Mr Pua's supporters would detract from their position. Well what do you expect from people who said that the SGPVs are only to be used for 'fighting pirates and smugglers' (which by the way, is the job of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency - have they never heard of this Agency? Even if the Navy is involved, they would rather use the smaller, more maneuverable CB90 HEX fast boats), our submarines are second-hand and cannot dive (they were submerged a number of times during their journey home from France and Spain and have fired their missiles while submerged) or that RM314 million is enough for this year's defence budget (conveniently forgetting that the allocation for defence also covers regular maintenance costs of existing items and even staff pay!)

Thanks to Dzirhan and Mumuchi for providing the facts and figures.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Sub Base Nearby = The Whole Area Is Enemy Target?

A friend posted an article from an internet news portal (what else?) in our military-oriented forum ( The article raises 'concern' from Sabahans, specifically from Kota Kinabalu about the presence of Teluk Sepanggar naval base in their neighbourhood. Here's the article
Kota Kinabalu open to enemy attack
David Thien
| February 2, 2011
A surreptitious decision to park two offensive attack submarines in Kota Kinabalu has scared its citizens.

KOTA KINABALU: The federal government’s clandestine move to turn Kota Kinabalu into a naval city has angered its citizens who fear for their safety.

According to several local inhabitants here, there was “no notice of such a decision and no public feedback was sought”.

The Sapangar Bay Naval Base, just north of Kota Kinabalu, is said to house two offensive attack submarines that can lay sea mines and fire missiles besides sinking ships with torpedoes.

Jesselton, the former name for Kota Kinabalu, was totally destroyed by bombs during the Second World War except for its damaged clock tower and two other buildings.

Many of the city’s inhabitants and historians are concerned that the secretive decison
(sic) to stack such weapons would endanger the community.

Said Amran, a lecturer with a tertiary college, here, said: “The positioning of the submarines just south across from Cam Ranh Bay Naval Base in Vietnam and the Spratly Islands South China Sea lane choke point may expose Kota Kinabalu to military strikes in the event hostilities break out (against territories) which Malaysia is also claiming.

“Also, Vietnam has reportedly ordered more than six submarines from Russia… it is cause for concern.”

Vulnerable to attack

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, Malaysia’s longest-serving Defence Minister, was the architect of many of the procurement of military hardwares.

In addition to the Kota Kinabalu naval base, Malaysia has a lagoon-sheltered base and airfield on one of the bigger islands.

Yusof, a retired serviceman upset with the move, said any enemy would seek to first destroy the base.

“Any enemy would want to put out of action any mine-laying and missile-launching vessels by destroying their bases and supporting facilities including food and water supply sources.

“We cannot assume that such a situation will not arise…” he said.

Underscoring his concern is the fact that Malaysia is among six countries staking a claim on the Spratly Islands.

Other countries staking their claim on the oil- and gas-rich Spratly Islands are China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei.

All except Brunei have a military presence among the 45 islands.

The basis of Malaysia’s stake on the Spratlys is its close proximity to Sabah.
(Emphasis added by me)

 The article was obviously nothing more than another PR-supporting news portal attack on the government. The words I boldened were nothing more than 'spices' to add flavour to the article. I find it funny that the writer put the words 'clandestine' and 'secretive' when describing the government's decision to build the Sepanggar Naval Base - how can it be a secret when the decision was made publicly? And most importantly, why this matter was raised roughly 9 years AFTER that? And would the government really needs the consent from the locals in defence matters? And to suggest the high probability of the Perdana-class being priority targets, he added the word 'offensive'.

He also quoted history, saying that Kota Kinabalu was once levelled by bombings during World War 2 and the inhabitants do not want to repeat the experience. He should probably take into account that warring nations then would just level population centers in the name of strategic bombing or terror bombing. In fact anything that can be done to demoralise the enemy soldiers and civilians would be done. Furthermore the 21st century is the era of precision weapons. While I do not deny that Sepanggar will be an enemy's target, it will be done with smart weapons rather than dropping bombs a la B-17s and B-29s. Oh, by the way, Sepanggar is 20 miles away from KK! Also the writer also exposes his ignorance by stating that our country has another base in Sabah 'on one of the bigger islands'. Which island does he mean? Is it one of the islands off KK (of which there are no military bases whatsoever)? Or Labuan? Reporting should be based on facts, and he is unable to give that fact!

To support his article he quoted two residents of KK. One a 'lecturer' and another a 'retired serviceman'. Again this another attempt to give credibility to his article. Again I am bemused by the 'retired serviceman's' comment..apparently he was concerned that his residence could be bombed, forgetting it was he himself would be the target should hostilities occur when he was in the service! As for the bit where Vietnam has ordered six more SSKs from Russia, it should be of concern to the submariners rather than KK residents!

Should this way of thinking (military base nearby = I'm also a target) pervades the whole country, then maybe the residents of Lumut, Butterworth, Kepala Batas, Kuantan, Gong Kedak, Langkawi, Gemas and many other towns with co-located military bases should also be frightfully concerned and the government should relocate these bases to the hinterland, far from towns and where they did not fulfil their purpose.....

Oh well, that's the quality of internet news portal to you!