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?