Altered perception...

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Written on 12/22/2005 04:52:00 pm by sikapitan

It has been a hectic 7 days for me, starting from last Thursday. I was involved in Nikki’s unique album launching project, which was an interesting and unforgettable experience. Not least the fact that for the entire weekend, I was surrounded by gays. Heck, even the girls aren’t straight!

I used to be a bit homophobic, and I guess a lot of straight guys out there are generally wary when it comes to dealing with gays. But the weekend sojourn to Bukit Bintang really opened my eyes to the fact that they’re really great to hang out with. I mean, there’s always this awkwardness with knowing that you’re talking to guys who would like to get into your pants, or girls who wouldn’t, but I had a good time.

And hey, after hanging out (not to mention sharing a room) with them for 3 days, I can positively say that I am straight. How many so-called macho men out there could really say that? You never know unless you’ve been tempted right?

At the end of the day, I am glad that I met them, and made friends with them. I can’t say for sure that I have now completely removed my prejudice against homosexuals, but I know with these guys, I have nothing but the most profound respect and could safely consider them as good friends. Period. Not gay friends, just friends.



I took this picture when I was walking along Lot 10. It’s a sad reflection on our society, on our nation, when in the midst of development, poverty still exist. I am not a big fan of beggars, especially those who suddenly appear along the roads leading to a Muslim cemetery during Hari Raya, but in this case I cannot help but give a ringgit every day. He can’t fend for himself; he definitely can’t work…where else could he turn to?

I used to really hate beggars, and the whole concept of begging. I was pragmatic, always thinking that if other people can work, why can’t they? But as years go by, I have seen that in life, it’s not always about choice. Choice is but an illusion, to a certain extent. Society shapes you in more ways than you can imagine. Who your parents are, what are they working as, where do you grow up, which school did you go to, how were you raised…this will ultimately shape who you are.

Which can only explain why, despite the fact that they watch TV, follow the entertainment scene, have seen pictures of people who dress well, and generally seeing other people dress well, mat rempits still choose to wear oversized striped fake Polo with tight jeans, boots and caps. Having a mullet is a fashion catastrophe, and yet there they are proudly looking like the estate version of Joe Dirt. In their mind, that looks good. They’ve been brought up, surrounded by, elements which says that looks good. Who could blame them then?

Back to beggars. I mean, I’m sure some beggars out there really are junkies and losers who would love nothing better than to earn some easy money looking sad at sidewalks. But I’m pretty sure as well that some of them are simply there because they’re motivated by desperation. The desperation to survive no matter what. Life is not always rosy, and when push comes to shove, you have to do what you have to do. What we as members of society should try to do is understand the root cause of poverty, how wealth should be distributed evenly to correct the social-economic imbalance, and ultimately, learn what it means to be human again.

….

Lessons from the cubicle...

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Written on 12/10/2005 04:11:00 pm by sikapitan

The Malaysian public toilets are not only famed for its repugnant stench and visual aids on what constitutes shit and puke but also for its art. Art you say? Yes, art. No public toilet worthy of the term “public toilet” can escape from Malaysia’s very own Andy Warhols and Picassos. These artistic expressions come in the form of neatly CARVED engraving or, for those on “art-lite” mode, permanent marker pens.

Interestingly, I realized that these “artists” seems to attack only public toilets which offer the most-necessary “water-pipe” service. I might have missed a few cubicles here and there, but generally the toilets in Megamall and KLCC seemed to have escaped the wrath of these “artists”. Both these malls do not offer “water-pipes”. Instead, we have to put up with the very-cumbersome and messy bidet experience. It’s so non-Malaysian (or rather non-Malay) that I think most people when presented with these sorts of toilet prefer to just keep the horses in the stable, if you catch my drift.

Could this be the reason why they’re relatively free from graffiti?

In my humble experience pissing and taking craps at public toilets, I’ve seen all sorts of messages left for all to see. Most common is the “If you want sex, call…” followed by the phone number of their ex-gf, ex-bf, ex-friend, enemy, or maybe sometimes, their own number. Heck, I seriously think only fools would take the bait and give any of thought to calling the numbers. But since we’ve got fools who put them up in the first place, I won’t be surprised if the offer for free sex is taken up.

Next is the “Mamat was here…” message, perhaps the most innocent of all. Mankind is preoccupied with stamping their territory, and “x was here” or sometimes “x wuz ere” is another form of planting a flag on a piece of land that you’ve visited. Just like Neil Armstrong planting the American flag on the moon. Maybe there’s a “Neil was here…” somewhere on the moon, who knows?

Last but not least is the political message, usually short and succinct, punctuated by plenty of exclamation marks. “UMNO SUX…”, “Dr. M kroni rasuah…”, “Hidup Anuar….” – at least these used to be quite popular. But in the days of Pak Lah, there’s less political dissatisfaction amongst the “artists”. Usually the political nature of the message will lead to the most serious form of “art” – racists’ remarks.


I took this photo at a cubicle in One Utama. It might touch on a few raw nerves, and most people will dismiss it simply as idiots calling each other idiots. But I always view such unique ‘non-mainstream’ expression of individuality as an indication of a deeper, underlying social problem. You just have to hang out with a bunch of kampung kids to see where this whole thing is headed. Heck, even amongst my friends, who have been fortunate enough to experience the whole Sekolah Kebangsaan spirit of multi-racialism will somehow carry with them a certain tendency to regard others by the color of their skin.

Which is weird really, because there has never been a time when Malay, Chinese and Indian youths share so much in common. We all listen to the same music from the West, shop at practically the same stores, like the same football team, go clubbing at Zouk…and most importantly we are as detached from our real culture (example, how many Malays here still wear the baju Melayu other than during Hari Raya?) that assimilation seems the most likely conclusion. Yet, this is not so.

Maybe it’s because of these unrealized similarities we subconsciously want to stay attached to our identity as a Malay, Chinese or Indian. Our folks (just look at the friends who came by my grandma’s house in Penang during Hari Raya – Chinese and Indians in a true spirit of Muhibbah) learned to celebrate the differences in culture. They understood and see the different colors on the social fabric. “The belief that the character and abilities of individuals are correlated with their race is not necessarily racism, since this can be asserted without implying an inequality in value…”quoted from Wikipedia. I guess this is true for the previous generation. They recognized the dissimilarities, which made it easier to see the similarities. Confusing eih?

Anyway, back to toilets. Did you guys know that in a recent Durex Sex Survey, public toilets have been named as the most preferred sexual location for Malaysians??? Ironic isn’t it when public toilet is also the first thing that cropped up most of my friends’ mind when asked, “What’s the dirtiest place you’ve ever been to?”…I guess it’s true what they say, sex is best when it’s dirty. I just didn’t realize that Malaysians take it oh-so-literally…


Free service...

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Written on 12/02/2005 01:37:00 am by sikapitan

Yeeehaaaa… I’ve never thought that the act of sleeping without worries can give so much joy. I’ve suddenly learned to appreciate why simple people, people who live as they please, last longer than corporate-powerbrokers, lawyers and even doctors. It was simply amazing, more liberating than going out with friends, more peaceful than hanging out with your girlfriends, more satisfying than playing football because simply put – those things do make you worry. You’re worried what to wear, where to bring her, how to handle that tough centre-forward.

Sleeping without worries is often said, but seldom practiced. Trust me. I’ve spent countless nights wondering what time I have to wake up the next morning, when to finish my assignment, or simply what to have for lunch. But last weekend, the weekend in which I finally finished my exams, I slept without thinking about anything…seriously, nothing! Heck, it was so relaxing that I don’t even bother wearing clothes. Too much detail perhaps.

But the joy didn’t last for long. By Monday I realized that my car was way overdue for some serious servicing. In two years, I’ve managed to clock up 42 000 kms, not bad considering that Shah Alam and Subang (which my mom believed the only route I ever took) is a mere 15 minutes away. I don’t actually calculate how far I drove every week, but basically I covered more than what my mom does going to the office. This is why she’s pretty pissed.


Regardless of that innocuous background drama, I drove to the nearest (and admittedly very impressive - from the facilities to their customer service) Honda service centre on Tuesday without any apprehension as previously; I spent an average of RM 8 per service. Yes, as part of Honda’s great after-service promotion for new vehicles, users get free service for 2 years or 40 000 km, whichever comes first. This pretty much successful carrot for car buyers have been duplicated by other makes – Volvo, Alfa…they all now come with free service. But do believe that FREE is relative.

The guys processing the paperwork remarked that I’ve finished my free-service benefit, and since the car has reached 40 000, there’s plenty of work to be done. Changing of this filter and that, brake pads and what-nots. He said it’s going to be a bit expensive. And I figured since I’ve always paid less than RM 10, a bit expensive should probably be around RM 400-500 – expensive yet not unexpected.


“Hmmm…semua RM 1, 126…kita kena tukar ini, ini…” and as he pointed out the very expensive OEM-parts my brain stopped functioning. A GRAND! F*Ck! That’s like paying for the car’s monthly installment!!! I’m definitely not saying Honda is trying to cheat me of “my parents’ hard-earned money”, and I was kind of expecting this…but it still caused my heart to skip a beat. “Ermmm…okay okay…petang nanti saya ambik…”


And as I stood in line at the ATM (after a frantic call for an emergency Maybank2U third-party transfer), I wondered how the hell I’m supposed to afford paying for this sort of service plus paying the monthly installment if I’m a junior lawyer earning at most RM 2 000+ per month. I just can’t. My lifestyle, at this current moment, without trying to sound pretentious, is more than I could handle if I were to get a job as a graduate – even the most capable of graduates earn not more than RM 3, 500 working for someone other than their parents and cronies. It makes you wonder, it made ME wonder, if I would finally have to bite my tongue, and turn over to the dark side ie. work for my dad!

This is where dreams, and aspirations, have to be tempered with reality. On the one hand, I would love nothing more than to live life as a rock star, lauded at AIMs and Juara Lagu. I would love to direct a film, win some awards. I would simply love writing shit, and dirt, that people love to read. But alas, even the most successful of directors cannot compete with the financial might of a corporate giant. Even the most celebrated of rock stars must ask sponsorship for their concerts from big corporations. Let’s not talk about column writers, who are probably doing it part-time anyway. And let’s face it; if there were one thing I have learned to enjoy, it would be having money. Lots of it.

It might sound stupid; it might sound immoral and it most definitely sound like I’ve been spoiled. But at the end of the day, it makes perfect sense to me. Riches require sacrifices. Even if it's your dream.

...

Shortest, Most Meaningless Entry Ever....!

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Written on 11/22/2005 11:22:00 am by sikapitan

Right. I guess you guys should know that right now I'm going through "exam fever", with tough questions being thrown out by bored lecturers who would then strive their very best to SPOT THE MISTAKES rather than acknowledge the correct answers. I guess that's just human nature. I wouldn't give a damn that you're wearing shoes, pants, t-shirt (pretty much what's necessary to be decent) but I'll probably criticize the unnecessary snow-cap in the middle of humid Kuala Lumpur.

I told you this entry would be meaningless. But music seldom are meaningless, and so here are some songs that have been burning my playlist to keep me company in the middle of the night (I seem to do this playlist thing a lot during exams, which begs the question : am I focused? The answer would be a pathetic NO) :

1) Fix You - Coldplay - Had this in my playlist months ago, but there's nothing more dream-like than the sweet-falsetto of Chris Martin backed by the minimalist music. It's crazy I tell you, but this song is as good as porn (well, almost as good...)

2) Do You Want To - Franz Ferdinand - Great hook, makes you want to jump all over the room, which isn't good when you're supposed to study. So leave it when you need a pick-me-up tune

3) Hebat - Tangga - Regular readers would know my love for Indonesian tunes, and this new band serves up a great number which is bright,jazzy,smooth though not entirely original.

4) Dua Dunia - Too Phat - They've done it again. Despite my best effort to reject their music, I just can't resist the infectious hook on this collaboration with Siti Nurhaliza. Or maybe because there's Siti...hmmmm...

5) Hung Up - Madonna - Back to the old-school disco years and yet sickeningly modern.

6) Selalu Denganmu - Tompi - Guy who sounds like a girl...a bit...yet there's no better tune to get emotional without the soapy ballad-like arrangement.

7) Luxurious - Gwen Stefani - She's on fire. Almost every tune she dishes out is different, yet stunningly sexy.

8) Push The Button - Sugababes - I've always fancied their tunes. Not so bubble-gum pop yet never serious enough to make you think. I like.

9) Lifetime - Maxwell - Something from the "classic" collection, brought out again because somebody in Myspace played this on her page and reminded me that when it's late at night and you're all alone, there's nothing better than soulful singing to inspire...

10) Blue Orchid - The White Stripes - If your car has a bomb-ass sound system, play this tune, roll-UP your window, and just let your car vibrate to the wicked licks of Jack White's guitar. Absolutely rock and roll.

How Was Your Raya?

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Written on 11/10/2005 05:38:00 pm by sikapitan

Mine was absolutely confusing. A mixture of tension and calmness, sadness and happiness. I went there with a bag-load of books, but my good intention to revise for my finals went out the window as soon as I reached Penang. It is difficult to be the model of excellence in education when all around me everyone was in this whole festive spirit. It’s like going to a concert and trying to write down the lyrics while everyone else is busy head-banging. It’s like being in Baywatch and worrying about getting scorched by the sun. It’s like being in a honeymoon suite with Chalize Theron and thinking about paying for the room.

As they say, if you can’t beat them, join them! My mind wanders far too much during the one week we spent in Penang that by the time I got back to KL I wondered if I had actually studied that particular topic or not!!! On the other hand, I’ve just realized that Hari Raya really is a fun period. Perhaps I didn’t appreciate this fact before because I wasn’t burdened by something else, but I realized when I was holding my notes on one hand while sipping teh tarik on the other that I missed just lazing about in grandma’s house with some god-awful soppy Malay telemovie playing on TV.

When it comes to Raya, there’s nothing like a dose of reality-check for you people who have forgotten their roots, their culture, Islam blab la bla. And this reality-check comes from the ever-popular, but always-irrelevant Malay telemovies. For those of you who dismiss me simply as another urbanite who hates anything remotely Malay-like should realize that I do have a Malay blog that deals with “entertainment”. I enjoy my dose of crappy sitcoms like Senario sometimes and I do listen to Siti Nurhaliza, so rest assured that I am viewing this whole situation as neutral as possible.

Every year, every Raya, the TV stations will be busy putting up shows that will somehow reflect the Raya spirit or simply entertain the Malay crowd. All the TV stations want to capitalize on the common knowledge that during Raya the Malays will become dormant in their kampong watching TV for one whole week, and some more if they have extra emergency leave left. Seriously, my former-favorite Kelantan restaurant does close-shop for the entire month of Ramadhan AND Syawal. And people wonder why Malay restaurants seldom do as well as “mamaks”.

A permanent fixture for Raya is the ‘night-before-Raya-lesson-to-be-learnt’ telemovie. We Malays really are suckers for this sort of shows, as evident from the fixated look my relatives were sporting when Tikar Buruk (even the title sounds depressing) was playing on Astro. We know the ending, we know the moral of the story, heck we could even guess when and how that person will die, and yet there we are crying gently as if it is the first time we’ve heard of long-suffering parents being treated like shit by their children.

The purpose of course, is to enlighten the viewers, to somehow make them remorseful for their past sins and be good in the future. Good intentions seldom make an act good in itself. The execution and the storyline is so cliché that any part that purports to preach will invariably be ignored. I’ve got no problems with melodramas that preach goodness, but for heaven’s sake, I want some joy during Hari Raya please! And by Raya joy I don’t mean half-baked “comedy specials” that is so lame that I have to physically force myself to smile so as not to seem to waste my time.

But isn’t that amazing? The show’s lousy and yet there I am in front of the TV, unmoved, simply absorbing the images without it actually leaving any imprints in my mind. Minutes ticked by, hours come and go, and yet watching TV has become so ingrained in the minds of the public that it’s no longer considered as wasting time!!!

Back to the melodrama that aims to preach. Yes, my aunts will go “Jahatnya anak dia ni (The son is so mean)…”, “Cabai mulut baru tau (put some chilli in mouth)”..., “Rasa nak bagi penampaq (I feel like spanking him)…” and yet at the end of it they’ll sit around bad-mouthing another relatives or showing off some new bracelet. It’s as useless as the sermons in the mosque, but that’s a topic for another day (don’t jump the gun yet, till I explain this in my next entry).

Till then, where’s that Charlize Theron in honeymoon suite image again…hmmmmm

Selamat Hari Raya:)

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Written on 10/29/2005 09:47:00 pm by sikapitan

It is that time of the year again when yours truly will have to spend 4 hours driving to his beloved hometown of Penang trying his best to keep awake. We used to go together, as a whole family, until no car this side of the Third-World could carry all of us in comfort. Besides, another car means another trunk, and to the females in my family, this could only be good news.

But I am sad to say, without a shadow of a doubt, that I have lost my zest to Balik Kampung for Hari Raya. I don’t look forward to the Lemang and Ketupat and Serundings, since I’ve just realized that cutting down on all those carbs could probably add a few years for me to lead an active life and shave off a few kilos of unwanted flabbiness. So if food’s not your motivation (as it was last year), what is?

Maybe the loud Sahur gossiping session amongst the womenfolk while waiting for Subuh, or maybe the hot and humid tightly packed Grandma’s house, or it could be the queuing up to use the toilet, or to use the toilet and then be sweetly interrupted by your Aunt knocking on it asking if anyone’s in there (helloooo??). Raya itself is becoming a routine, and routines can only be good and interesting for a short period.

I’ve been celebrating Raya as a teenager for the past 6 years, at the very least. I guess I’m just waiting for the next step you know, the next stage in these Raya celebrations. You know the stage where you’re the one giving duit raya, and have people coming over saying “ampun” to you? I guess it’s just a sense of boredom, being stuck for the past 4 and ½ years doing the same thing every year studying the same thing meeting the same people.

Hari Raya will still be meaningful to many people. Some kid will probably be excited as hell receiving his first duit raya, not knowing that in years to come he’ll probably be feeling just like me. So I guess I was wrong in thinking that Raya is becoming boring. It’s still the same joyous occasion. Raya itself remains true to its roots. It is just me that’s bored.

Well, in any case, I would like to wish my readers (3 people…hahaha) a very joyful and worthy Hari Raya. Let’s not forget we are fortunate enough to celebrate it, so be thankful. Smile when you have to hear one more “bila nak kahwin?” question from your relatives. Heck, you’ll probably be doing the same thing when you’re 40 years old.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Maaf Zahir dan Batin.

A different kind of ballgame...

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Written on 10/22/2005 03:51:00 pm by sikapitan

I would like to extend my heartfelt condolence to the family of the late Datin Seri Endon. Her untimely demise after battling cancer is a reminder of the need for early detection. My father was a cancer victim, and fortunately he managed to discover it before it started to spread and cause further damage. Through Allah’s blessing, and his strong character, he is now alive and well, embracing life like a man given a second chance. Never give up.


On a more positive note, we began this week with the great news that Nicol Ann David has successfully won the British Open, considered to be one of the top prizes in International squash. I am truly proud of her achievements, especially this past one year where she has really benefited from the strict training regime imposed by her foreign coach. She and Ong Beng Hee are the two bright shining lights left in the darkness known as Malaysian Sports Arena.

Personally speaking, I think they have benefited from the fact not many Malaysians give a rat’s ass about squash. Malaysians fret and pamper the footballers, the sprinters, the hockey players while sports like squash and cycling takes a back seat. But people like Nicol or Josiah Ng should be spared from the limelight. It seems to be working. The SRAM has done a good job of finding sponsors, and it just goes to show that if you’re good enough then consequently the money will roll in. The sad part about all this is the fact that some States footballers are getting double what world-beaters like Nicol David is getting.

Remember what happened to our great badminton hope, Hafiz Hashim? He won a big event, gets recognition from everyone, greeted at the airport like the Beatles, given huge amount of cash and property – and now he is nowhere to be heard. Don’t worry, he’ll surface to win another Championship, and then go back underneath the sea of disappointments for a couple of seasons. That’s the trend isn’t it? Win just enough tournaments so that people won’t forget you, but don’t push yourself too hard less you get injured then you can’t drive that expensive sports car.

It’s all down to mentality, the winning attitude. I can’t really go too far into this area, because some of my comments and thoughts are pretty much inflammatory, especially to those who live and swears by rhetoric. Suffice to say, I get the feeling that our sportsmen don’t have what it takes mentally simply because they were brought up in an environment that does not promote education and knowledge. I’ve seen, met, and played with people who are not only talented, but also armed with intelligence and maturity but these people won’t take up sports as their livelihood. The ones who turn out for the State junior teams, the club sides, are also usually the ones who do not do well in school (general statement, without any credible data…just an observation). This is sad really, because during my days in high-school I can see for a fact that clever people CAN and DO play sports rather well.

Well, I guess important discussion as to how we can improve the standard of sports is too insignificant to discuss in parliament, as compared to which party called Nicol Ann David first. Just click here and read another example of petty arguments being raised in parliament. But perhaps we should encourage such display of immaturity. Have you guys seen the mass brawls that always happen in Taiwan’s equivalent to our Parliament? But they’re more prosperous than us, so I guess I should be applauding the MPs the next time they get into arguments.

Picture from TheStar

On a lighter note, look at these balls MPPJ has put up at the junction in SS3, PJ. Another example of mindless decorative items filling up empty lands which are better served as a green lung to the already choking metropolis known as PJ. If you guys have interesting photos of such wasteful projects, do e-mail them to me at sikapitan@yahoo.com and I’ll try to post it in the site. Till then, let’s have a ball shall we…


"Suggestion Box"

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Written on 10/15/2005 07:51:00 pm by sikapitan

I am glad that a reader asked my opinion on campus elections. I have been studying at a public university for the past 4 and ½ years (hello…no “carry” paper k? memang lama tauu…), and frankly speaking, every year the elections serve nothing more than to highlight how useless students’ representation really is. I know some might disagree, but this is of course a personal observation.

I never got involved in all these elections to be part of the Student Council, nor do I see any one of my peers really seeking out any post in it. Last year’s was a bit interesting, because one of the candidates was not that bad looking (chauvinistic pig anyone?) but every other election went by without leaving any impact on me or my colleagues. We still have the same problem with getting parking space for students, my faculty keeps getting shoved all over campus… I do not really see the “Majlis Perwakilan Pelajar” as really representing the voice of students. I know the perks of being in the whole set-up is that you get to go to overseas trips sponsored by the University (at least that’s the practice in my uni). Perhaps, and because I know one of my readers has just successfully been elected to be a part of this charade (congrats dude), they should bring up a few issues that have been bothering me lately…

Like students being hauled-up by the disciplinary committee for failure to vote in the said election. I remember this year’s election for that very reason – the threat of disciplinary election if you do not vote. Sad as it may sound, because everyone seems to think the student body is useless, there is no real motivation to go and vote. Some went simply because there are free drinks being handed out. Most voted because they hate the whole idea of being hauled-up. Weird, because I always thought the right to vote includes the right NOT to vote…

I am also concerned with the recent direction my University, and specifically my faculty, is taking when it comes to dealing with students’ attendance. Notices are made listing down students who have failed to comply with the strict requirement that you’re only allowed to skip 3 classes (lectures AND tutorials) per subject without any reason. These students are then forced to face the Disciplinary Board, with failure to do so resulting in them being suspended for the whole semester.

I find this whole idea of forced-attendance unnecessary. Maybe that is because there is every chance my name would be up there as well with hundreds of others. But more because I’ve discovered that if you find the lecture interesting, or essential, you would be more likely to go on your own free will. Take away the compulsory attendance bit, and you would still find students in lectures, not because they’re forced to, but because they WANT to. There are many types of students out there, and to assume that those who do not go to classes will not do well (though this assumption is seldom wrong) while those who attend every class do is just not right.

I believe that there comes a stage in a students’ life where it must be left to them to decide what they want to do. If they feel they can do well without going to classes, then so be it. What harm does this do to the University? The one carrying the burden is the student and the student only. It is his future. Would it make any difference if someone attends classes simply because he is forced to, and during class, he just dozes off? I can’t see why such a big fuss is being made over students who do not go to classes and did NOT do well. They should be concerned with students who DO go to classes and yet fail to deliver when it matters.

None of these is as important as getting us students proper parking place. I am sorry, this complaint might sound a bit “manja”. But to me, it is a reflection of a University’s ambition (or lack thereof), when they fail to realize the growing affluence of students and fail to take the fact that more young people are driving cars these days into account when planning and managing faculties.

This is not London. It is hot and humid. We park so far that by the time we reach classes we need a change of clothes (from the sweat, get it?). But anyway, despite these complains, I am more than thankful for the experiences that my Uni has somehow, inadvertently provided. When you complain, it does not mean you hate. Go figure.

Power Corrupts...

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Written on 10/06/2005 12:24:00 am by sikapitan

It is sometimes liberating to return as a Social Commentator, as opposed to the entertainment-friendly, bubble-gum remarks typical of my other alter ego – Senor Elkapitan. Do not get me wrong. I enjoy writing in Malay, and I enjoy interacting with the multitude of personalities you would expect when you touch on something that most people have an opinion about – entertainment! It’s even nicer when you’re interviewed by a radio station, though at some point during the entire 60-minutes segment I wished it was for this blog rather than the other. There’s so much more inside this head of mine than AF, but rants and thoughts of an opinionated 22-year old Malay undergraduate is not exactly what the mass media wants…

For this entry, we will look at what is going on at that sacred institution of ours that grabs the headlines for many wrong reasons- Parliament. To the average laymen, Parliamentarians do nothing more than squabble and bicker with each other. At least, that is what you read in newspapers, and yesterday’s headlining Buletin Utama’s feed from the Dewan Rakyat reinforces this view with Kit Siang and RafidahAziz going head-to-head in a match akin to something from the WWE. It has been the headline for the past week, with even Barisan MPs showing their displeasure at Rafidah’s absence from Parliament.

I would have launched into a tirade if it were not for the fact that I believe Rafidah to be more than capable being the head of a ministry. My mom was a former employee at MiTI, and like I have previously stated – no one’s opinion is free from prejudice - and her words carried weight in my mind. Rafidah, as most who follows politics would grudgingly admit, is an intelligent woman who is often referred to as the Iron Lady for her strong will in performing her duties. She is not without fault, as is bound to be when you are in power for too long a time.

Power corrupts. There is a reason why a cliché is a cliché. No matter what power you hold, how small your post, you would somehow, someday, someway act in a manner that is beneficial to your interest. Remember your Ketua Darjah, who happens to be your best friend thus didn’t reprimand you for not lining up properly before class starts? Or your student leader, who at the end of the day, allows you to meet the artist performing for the dinner backstage? Or that old schoolmate who now happens to be the Head Security to some posh club and let it slide that you did not have the proper ID? You don’t shout “Hey, corruption” because it benefits you, and you don’t see anyone else gets hurt.

Me? I just look at it this way – if I were a minister, I cannot say for sure I would not help a few friends, bail out a cousin or two, and pocket something for when I retire. So should I hold others on a higher standard than what I would do? Who has the gall to say that if the Opposition comes into power there would not be corruption?

Do not get me wrong. I am not condoning corruption, much less encouraging it. Rafidah made mistakes, and I am glad the opposition is pointing it out. The notion of corruption-free governance is one that remains idealistic, but it should not be dismissed because it sets a goal, a target, and without targets, you have no purpose. And when you have no purpose, you’re better off living without rules and laws. This equals anarchy. It’s just that I find it amusing when people talk of corruption as if it is beyond them, that they’re above any forms of abuse of power.

Mawi in Parliament...again!

Do you guys know who Mawi is??? If you don’t then you either don’t subscribe to any form of news media, or you simply turn it off when you see a bald-headed guy appearing on TV. Mawi is the Champion of Akademi Fantasia 3, but more importantly, he IS the new ICON for the Malay community. I am not a big fan of Mawi, but as part of entertainment, he does have his appeal. I just find it amusing how this young man has come to the level of cultural icon in a period of 3 months. What do you think?

Well, Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin certainly thinks highly of Mawi. He urged, in Parliament no less, that the Government exploit the popularity of this Johorean to get youths off from drugs and other social ills. Yes, that would certainly help wouldn’t it Datuk? Ignorance as to the nature of society, as to the cause of substance abuse, as to the psychological element of youths caught up in the tug-of-war between tradition and modernization leads to such simple solution. I do agree that celebrities involved in such campaigns can raise awareness, but tell me – whoever said drugs were good? Could you find an addict who would come up and tell you they genuinely thought doing drugs would cause no harm? A smoker knows the harm of smoking cigarettes. No use harping on the fact that drugs are dangerous.

Talking about smokers, I am pretty pissed off that the recent Budget did not impose a higher duty/tax on cigarettes. Rumors have it that by the end of this year, petrol prices will increase. Tell me now, what is more important – cigarettes or petrol? If the government were to increase the price for a pack to RM10, what harm would it do? Would farmers stop working because they can’t afford to buy cigarettes? Would the lorry drivers/bus drivers/taxi drivers launch pickets because they cannot enjoy their 20 sticks-a-day routine? Would the harm of increasing the price for cigarettes outweigh the advantages of NOT increasing the price of petrol? This is of course a very simple argument from an untrained economist, and I am sure the tobacco companies’ lobbyist has 1001 responses to this proposition of mine. But this is the thought of the average Malaysian, and isn’t that what counts at the end of the day?

Government Department "merajuk"?

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Written on 9/24/2005 03:39:00 pm by sikapitan

This past week has been quite interesting. Grabbing the headlines would be another tale of Government Department’s mismanagement. And that’s what I would call this sorry episode: mismanagement. It all began with the report that a lavish RM 5 million farewell party was planned for an outgoing department head. The next day, Tan Sri Abdul Halil Mutalib, the Customs and Excise Department Director-General, admitted that he was the one the media was hinting at. However, he claimed that the amount was an exaggeration, and it was not going to be spent on road tours and such. Heck, he even lodged a police report claiming that there are parties out there trying to undermine his credibility.

Things started to look brighter for Tan Sri, especially when media report keeps stating that the Customs Department is out looking for the “mulut tempayan” (which implicitly suggest that there IS a rabble-rouser in their midst). However, it took a turn for the worse when Tan Sri lost his cool and somehow managed to include Datuk Seri Najib in his press statement. This did not go down well with Parliament.

I don’t know for a fact if there’s a plan for a lavish retirement party, nor do I care for Tan Sri Halil. What alarms me is the fact that for the past week, the Customs Department managed to “lose” RM 7 million in enforcement fines. Apparently, this was done in response to the Government and public pressure on their beloved Director-General. Whether or not this was orchestrated at the highest level, it begs us to ponder the integrity of Government Departments. Perhaps many Malaysians do not feel that this is such a big issue, considering the fact that for most of us, our encounter with Customs official is limited to the ones at KLIA or Bukit Kayu Hitam. However, let us just say that the Director-General in this case is not from Customs, but from the NRD, and they decide stop making MyKads… It hurts to see this sort of subtle “threat” by Government Departments because even though it is not really targeted at the public, the effect is all the same.

Another one bites the dust...NOT!

Another murder trial, another failure by the prosecutor. As a law student, it hurts to see our judicial system called into question. However, we must not be shy of calling a spade a spade. Noritta’s murder, Datuk Norjan’s murder and now Xi Jian Huang, the 14-year old Chinese national – the list is growing. High-profile murder cases are not getting the convictions. One of the purposes of having laws is to ensure that in the event of a socially unacceptable behavior, a sanction is imposed. This is part of human’s sub-conscious – the need for retribution.

And when one murder after another remains an open case, it begs the question as to whether we in Malaysia can literally “get away with murder”. It is wrong to impute guilt on the accused, no matter what we think of them. It is NOT their fault if they are freed. The burden lies in the hands of the prosecution. It is better to free 10 guilty men, than the imprison 1 innocent man. However, is it really the prosecution’s fault? The AG Chambers has been getting brick-brats from the public, but what about the police?

The prosecution acts on the investigation by the police. When they initiate an action, the prosecution relies on the fact that they have preliminary evidences to indicate a connection between the crime and the suspect. The police collect these evidences. Malaysians are known for their “tidak apa” attitude, and sometimes this reflect in the manner the investigation is being conducted. Sometimes it hurts to see the prosecution present flimsy cases that appear so elementary to even legal undergrads.

But it must be remembered, the task of the defender is much easier. All they need is to plant a seed of doubt in the judge’s mind, and the burden of proving beyond reasonable doubt is a heavy one on the prosecution. The defence attorney can devote their time to study every aspect of their client’s case, their only case, their priority. It is easier to protect an individual, then to prosecute many. That is one of the problems facing the prosecution – they do not have enough people.

Regardless of all this, there is a sense that sometimes, with proper planning and enough episodes of CSI, anyone with the right modicum of intelligence can commit a crime and get away with it. And that, ladies and gentleman, does not augur well with my conscience.

Don't hold hands, don't sing, don't wear skirts...

On a lighter note, in another example of social engineering (and wasting time), the Energy, Water and Communications Ministry will set up another committee to draw guidelines on reality shows. Apparently, there is a need to change the format of shows to suit local needs, traditional values, societal norms, unity and national integration. Which leads me to the question: what are Malaysians’ local needs and societal norms?

We are nice people who are polite to each other and don’t touch the opposite sex unless we are married? Are these really Malaysian values or are these merely the aspiring values that we so-often hope would become true? It is hard really to pinpoint what actually are Malaysian values. The trend of globalization meant that it is harder for a country, a region, a race to have a totally distinctive set of values. Japanese youths lap up violent video games just as much as your 13-year old kid. That German 16-year old is busy showing porn to his friends, just like that 30-year old petrol pump attendant in your neighborhood.

I’m all for promoting the correct values. But isn’t it too late to cancel Malaysian Idol or AF since you guys allowed American Idol or Baywatch to be shown on our screens?

Ahah, lama tak jumpa!

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Written on 9/09/2005 10:27:00 pm by sikapitan

The government announced yesterday that they would ease the burden of the Malaysian public by, among others, reducing road taxes and deferring plans to increase fuel prices. This is great news for the many average Malaysians who are cash-strapped as they deal with the rise in fuel prices. It seems awfully deja-vu when we talk about rising fuel prices. It seems like only yesterday I wrote on the effect of such increase to my daily habits.

Frankly speaking, so far I have not felt the pinch. And that’s the problem isn’t it? The gulf between the middle-class and the poor is vast. For us (it might be a bit pretentious to declare myself as middle-class but that pretty much hits the right spot), our lives doesn’t change. We still go to work on our own, pushing our little fuel-guzzlers like we always do, going out to clubs on weekends like we’re used to, taking trips to the local mamak stalls like it’s second nature. We keep on saying, “Damn…harga naik siot…” but we still make that trip to One Utama, we still drive to KLCC on weekends.

If that’s us, what about the policy-makers, the decision makers? They are at least more affluent than I am. So how do all these affect them? Certainly, they can still afford to fill up their BMW 530s, their Ferrari 360s, and their Bentley Continentals. In other words, the people who make the decisions don’t really feel what’s going on in the streets. The Nasi Lemak seller who relies on his old Proton Saga to set up a stall, the senior yet underpaid civil-servant struggling to support his four children, the cobbler whose only daughter dreams of being a doctor...and these are the lucky ones, if you believe me. Just watch Bersamamu on TV3 or those sappy documentaries on Majalah Tiga, and you’ll see how poor people can get. Imagine eating snails as your daily meals!

My point is this, at the end of the day, the policy makers need to take a long hard look at the whole situation and come up with a definitive plan to combat these problems. Easier said than done, but that is why we elect them don’t we? Or do we elect them based on the flags they’re carrying? Thoughts to ponder…

...

Behind These HAZY Eyes...

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Written on 8/19/2005 08:22:00 pm by sikapitan

The View Now

The sky is blue, the air is clean – but it will not last. Latest report states that by this coming Monday, the dreaded haze will re-enter our lives. Therefore, Malaysians should take this chance, go out, and enjoy themselves. Never mind the fact that the haze was never really over in the first place, never mind the fact that forests in Sumatra is still blazing – just take your car out, pollute the environment while you can still see the sky and waste money. A prime example of the “tidak apa” attitude that is synonymous with Malaysia and got us into this big mess in the first place. As soon as the sky cleared, everyone stopped caring about Indonesia and their obviously insufficient effort to douse out the flames engulfing Sumatra. Everyone forgot about the fires still burning in our OWN BACKYARD.

Am I better than the rest? Nope. Seriously, all I could think about when I woke up and realized that there is no smoke coming through the windows was that I could go out and play football again. And I’m willing to bet that most of us think for ourselves first, how this would be beneficial to us and us alone. Let’s not care about Penang, unless we have relatives in Penang. You can’t see Gurney Drive? Too bad, we get to see KLCC! All the hu-ha and ramblings from the public (towards Indonesia especially) dissipated as quickly as you can say Alhamdulillah.

Have we forgotten the fact that every time Indonesia messed-up we pay the price? This year was one of the worst, but every year the same thing happens. And what did Indonesia do? All we saw in the newspapers was them saying “they’re sorry”. This is not an anti-Indonesia campaign. I love Indonesia, especially Dian Sastro. The issue lies in accountability, and Malaysia’s apparently docile nature that allow states like Indonesia to just push aside their problem which affects us as much as it affects them.

I do not care if Malaysian companies were involved in burning their forests. Malaysian does not have to care. Why? Because we do not have jurisdiction my dear. It does not matter if it is a Malaysian company, or a Mauritius company; what matters is that it happened in YOUR backyard so it is YOUR responsibility to bring those perpetrators to justice and deal with it. What can we do if the crime is committed in another country?

In any case, Malaysians should take a firm stand against this indifferent attitude of the Indonesian government. They refused our help, and yet every day we see photos of shirtless firefighters fighting fire with buckets, I repeat – BUCKETS, of water. That is not enough for this year, nor will it be enough the next time, and trust me there will be a next time.

Nevertheless, what about us? What about our own disregard for environmental safety? It is no mere coincidence that the worst time of the haze in the Klang Valley was during the peak hours where commercial activities and millions of vehicle roar to life. The haze was bad enough, but we did not help the cause by going on with our lives as if nothing happen. No one car-pooled; buses with fumes spewing out of their exhaust still rule the roads; factories keep on “smoking”. “Tidak apa, ini semua Indon punya pasal…”. Yeah, right.

This Monday perhaps?

Mannnnn...

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Written on 6/20/2005 02:05:00 pm by sikapitan

Guys, I'm really sorry for not writing in Undergrounduate. Frankly speaking, I haven't found anything new in the realms of social reality for me to comment on. I mean, I've done corruption, glamorous murders etc. Thus, I am now concertrating on a new Side Project. It's in Malay because I realized I haven't written in Bahasa for quite some time. Be warned though: It isn't about politics,sports,feelings,news or anything serious. So click at your own peril.

Cheers.

Savvy-licious?

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Written on 6/09/2005 10:00:00 pm by sikapitan

“I baru lepas tengok Savvy tadi. Comel la jugak…”.
I replied, “Oh…baru nak tengok? Waktu launch I dah usha…”
“Itu MyVi laaa..ini Proton Savvyy.”

Even before it begin, Proton got off to a bad start in Undergrounduate’s Unofficial Car Review. What is in a name? I cannot quite place it, but history has suggested that cars with names that sound dodgy will never take off. The Fiat Panda is a well-built car, but it cannot hold up against competitors like the Jazz or Scenic simply because it has been disadvantaged by a lousy name. In Malaysia, we have the Juara as the Champion of the most oxymoronic name one can put on a car. It does not look like a Juara in the first place, and well apparently, the rest of Malaysia does not need a Champion in their house. BMW and Mercedes has decided to play it safe and use numbers to mark their cars, while Porsche and Ferrari stick to exotic sounding names like Cayenne or Modena for theirs.

In Savvy’s case, jokes have already passed about the name at the mamak between my friends and me. It’s unfortunate that they came up with a name not dissimilar to Perodua’s MyVi. I’m sure it wasn’t their intention to sound the same, but it does seem rather like Proton came out with the car 2 weeks late.

Yesterday night, as are our newfound custom, FreDo and I went to the nearest Proton showroom. Imagine our disappointment when we looked inside the vast showroom and saw only one black Savvy on display. Compare this to Perodua’s attempt whereby the whole showroom was filled with MyVi of different colors and specs. Perhaps the reason why we have only one Savvy is that there is only ONE version available now. Proton has continued with the strategy of introducing the most basic model, as was in the case of Waja and Gen.2 before going out with the higher-end spec models later.

Perhaps it’s a case of testing the waters, but as an intelligent consumer, I believe that it is really an attempt at checking out how the car will perform in real-life condition before committing the factory to produce more. And for that very reason many Malaysians have delayed the purchase of a brand new Proton till everything’s settled. It’s a vicious cycle. If Proton is not willing to commit, with confidence, on its new models consumers will cast a wary glance rather than admiration. At the same time, if Proton were to come out with all guns blazing and a manufacturer’s defect surfaced then they will be in deep shit.

The car itself looks promising, with silhouettes of Peugeot 106 (yeap, it’s ONE – you don’t see it in Malaysia) in its design. The front bonnet though, looks a bit weird, with its angle a bit flat for my liking. The front end looks modern enough, but FrEdo commented it is huge with a hint of CRV in it. The side profile is its strongest point, with taut lines running along the side and slightly flared wheel arches befitting the beautiful multi-spoke rims. If the side is its Julia Roberts, then the rear must be Eric Roberts. Simply said, it looks weird, like a mashed-up combination of different designers’ ideas. The central exhaust pipe looks sporty enough, but a 1.2 engine and more than heavy-looking panels would ensure it is not a view any hot-rod Kancil will fear.

However, the most distinguishing feature I see in this car is its miniaturized “accessories” (sorry-out of words). I mean, the door handle, signal stalk, right down to its controls (like temperature and ventilation) are made for hands much smaller than mine, and I don’t have huge hands to begin with. Even more perplexing are the small air-cond vents they put in the car. Even a Kancil has bigger vents than in the Savvy. It will definitely make it an extremely hot interior, which is a pity because it looks rather fetching.

The materials on the seats are of better quality than the MyVi, but the front two seats need better head support. The gear is in a good position, and the centre column housing the CD player and other controls looks better than MyVi’s. It appears that the interior has followed on Gen.2’s success in looking modern and expensive. Let us just hope that it does not follow Gen.2’s quality defects. One problem though is its steering. It does not look good, and does not feel right for the car of this size. Furthermore, you cannot adjust it for rake or reach, and it is so far away from the dashboard and the display. It makes for a less than satisfactory driving position.

One _______ commented that the doors “feel solid”. This is the interesting part about Malaysians. I’ve always wondered what are they trying to find by closing the door as hard as possible, or checking out the engine bay, or rocking the car up and down. Is it possible that we are genetically engineered to be car mechanics? Old and young, they check out cars without really looking at the parts they could really assess. I mean, are they trying to look at the engine and determine if it will run faster just by its looks? Only when the suspension fails would you get the wallowing effect those people who keeps rocking the car is trying to find. It’s a mystery unlikely to be solved by me.

Anyway, without getting the chance to drive either one, I have to say the MyVi offers more bang for the buck, but the Savvy has its own charms. It looks classier and its interior feels better. Maybe if it wasn’t for the disappointing quality level of its predecessors I would be more favorable. In Proton’s defense, the Savvy is truly a Malaysian car – designed and engineered by a Malaysian company. The MyVi, on the other hand, is basically the Daihatsu Sirion. Interestingly, in a recent Autocar review, the Sirion paled in comparison to its competitors in the UK. It is a car with abilities; it’s just that it is not the best in any of them. So kudos to Proton for its brave initiative. Pity the marketing and name, though.

Cheers.

Stand up...

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Written on 6/06/2005 11:56:00 am by sikapitan

I was in Bukit Merah for the past 3 days, and plus last week was my final week in ZiCo, so I apologize for not being able to post anything new/fresh. After 4 weeks and 4 days working in a law firm, I have come to this very simple yet life-altering conclusion – I don’t enjoy “law” anymore. At first, it was interest that drew me to legal studies, and then I view it simply as a tool to get rich. Now, I have realized that it is NOT the best means towards the end (which is to get rich bloody quick). I knew it all along; it is just that the sight of young men and women working tirelessly day and night in cold, soulless rectangle cage took its toll on my active imagination. I am in a perilous state - sure of where I want to go, just not sure how to get there.

Well, last week was a slow week in terms of news (as usual), but one news stood out – but not because it’s in the front page, mind you. It appears to be another weird case of impulsive decision-making (see National Service) by the Government when they propose that the National Anthem be played before the screening of movies in the cinema. Apparently, we are all heading towards a state without identity, where we can’t tell whether we are Malaysians or not, and citizens turned on the country without batting an eyelid, and losing in everything except making the longest something to everyone else. To counter all these and more, simply stand up before watching… let us say Black Hawk Down… and sing the National Anthem!

Wonderful! Fantastic! Superb! Brilliant! No superlatives can describe this idea, which will manage to undo years of patriotic neglect in the souls of our beloved citizens and turn them into flag-carrying, world-dominating Malaysians. You will one day walk out of the cinema feeling very Malaysian, and very Boleh. You will jeer every time the screens show something unpatriotic, like loving an Indonesian, or working in Singapore. You will all rush every time Malaysians need another sea-conqueror, mountain-climber and roti-canai maker. Your name is the first in the list every time your company needs someone to march on National Day. You will sign 500,000 times every time Malaysia wants a petition to stop another war. You will stop criticizing the Government.

Please, if you cannot see sarcasm, then you are in the wrong place.

Let us look at the practical side of this. I watch a show at least once a week, so at the end of the month, I would have gotten my dose of the “patriotic” medicine 4 times – certainly more than what the doctor prescribed. But am I a better Malaysian than those who don’t go to the cinema at all? Does singing Negaraku forge a deeper love for my country? Would I jump at the chance to stop an invading army if I go through this regime?

On the other hand, would it further alienate the growing number of intelligent youths who can see past mere showpiece attempts? Today’s youths (and I guess they are the target audience of this campaign) are complicated, argumentative, independent, intelligent and most importantly, diverse in their train of thoughts as compared to generations before. This is the direct result of economic prosperity, education through the global media, and a generally less simple social environment. In other words, it would look foolish.

It’s simple enough for me to sit down here and say that this or that is stupid, foolish and anything else I’ve used before; but the truth of the matter is this is the perfect example of haphazard thinking. The true judge of an effective proposal is in its implementation. So far, it appears that no one is taking this idea seriously- not even the ministers. Almost everyone I interviewed (and that means 5 people-not exactly the perfect test group) say that it is stupid, incomprehensible, and foolish. I’m not against people putting up proposals, but when one consider that the government is an institution which we entrust to lead us, it is unacceptable that the best they could come up with is a proposal to play Negaraku before every show.

How do you judge patriotism anyway? Who decides? The more pressing issue is when every time someone raises objection against the government he is considered as unpatriotic. I love my country, and I definitely support the present government (for lack of better alternative perhaps?) but I do know that if I were to stand up in a public forum and question government policies I would be labeled as unpatriotic. Patriotism, in my understanding, means the love for your country. While it is true that to a certain extent the government, as a representation of the country and its people, deserve the outmost respect and patriotic spirit. But we must never forget that the country lives on, while government, at least theoretically, don’t. The people of that particular country are the one that shapes the nation, and if the people cannot raise its voice or decide in their right mind without being called unpatriotic, then something is definitely wrong with this picture.

Think before saying. Go figure.

Mata Sepet

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Written on 6/01/2005 10:18:00 am by sikapitan

This is an entry published in the MSN.Spaces site, dated April 14 and the only one that generated any sort feedback. One of which came from Yasmin Ahmad herself (but hey, it's the Internet age, how can we tell?). It's reproduced here in all its "glory", un-edited with all the errors remaining intact. Enjoy.

Chapter II - Movie Review: Sepet
Expectation is a weird thing. It certainly is a wonderful tool for cheering someone up ("Don't worry, you'll find someone better"). Expectation drives you on. In fact, it could be said that it drives the whole world on. I mean, National Budgets are based on expectations; company policies are based on expectations, going to school is based on expectations (whether yours or your parents doesn't matter now, does it?).
And yet it is the biggest cause of heartaches and dissapointment. Seldom do you get upset over something you didn't expect. I mean, you don't get broken-hearted if Cameron Diaz marries another guy because she wasn't the one you were expecting. But I also believe that one of the greatest pleasures in life is getting something MORE from what you expect. Like 7a's instead of 4, 3 goals instead of a draw and such.

I guess after years of being disappointed and delighted by expectations when it comes to movies, I have developed a knack for lowering or raising my expectations. I mean, everyone was saying that "Without A Paddle" is going to suck big-time but I held my nerves and persuaded them to part with their RM9 for the tickets. I like it when I'm right. It was stupid and cliche but boy did I (and more importantly, them) enjoy it.

But I can't help but be biased before I stepped into the cinema for Sepet. I mean, EVERYONE said I should watch it. I guess I should have taken note who those EVERYONE is. I mean, it's not like I'm disappointed. Far from it. It's just that I thought my mind would be challenged, or my spirit moved. I expected something like The Pianist or AADC (POYO), but instead I got something else that's pleasant nonetheless but less inspiring.

Those who say that Sepet is ground-breaking or controversial are probably persuaded by the main theme of this movie which is mixed relationship. It is controversial to a certain extent. I mean, a Malay girl who prays diligently and wears baju kurung but so comfortable with touching the opposite sex is bound to raise a few eyebrows. But for the really controversial you've got to admire films like "Isteri, Perempuan dan..." and "Spinning Gasing". I mean, mixed relationship isn't something new. Our James Bond spoof Jefri Zain was banging some Chinese chick in the 70's if I'm not mistaken.

So if it isn't so fresh and mind-challenging, what makes it good? Simply put, it is well made. Sometimes people don't realize that lousy execution of a good story would spoil its inherent goodness, and that a simple story can be an excellent movie if properly executed. I mean, what is CLOSER if not a complicated love mess, but an excellent script and good acting made it a great watch, IMHO.
I guess that's what I got out of Sepet. It is like one of Yasmin Ahmad's Petronas commercial. It looks good. It sounds good. And the acting is good. I mean, I'll still put the Hari Raya ad where the guy looked like he was riding a motorbike but was actually "perah kelapa" as one of my favourites.

The whole film was beautifully shot. Unlike Rashid Sibir's attempt at being clever, this one could borrow the tagline from Volvo- "stunning simplicity". I mean, like the shot at the pier on the lake of the two main protagonists, Orked and Jason. It really looks great. And it's a lesson to all filmmakers that you don't HAVE to switch focus to the face everytime one of the character is speaking. We are not stupid as to mistake the voice as someone else's!!

The acting was simply superb. Again, real acting is when you don't seem like you're acting. For example, Ellie Suriaty is a natural, Erra Fazira is not. It's not that Erra's a bad actress, it's just that she won't be a great one. Sharifah Amani (Orked) should be a great one, if given the chance.It's just that I don't see her to be the popular star, which is a pity. It's sad that Malaysians glamorize half-baked "actors" like Khai or Vince while people like Sharifah never gets the chance to grace the cover of magazines. Oh..before I forget, the girl who played Orked's friend, Lin, turns in a commendable performance worthy of some sort of recognition.

But the real praise must go to Ng Choo Seong (Jason). I believed that he really carried his role well, to the point that I cannot imagine another person handling that role. He looks so sincere and natural in his acting. Unlike Sharifah, he has to deal with a whole lot more. I mean, he really looked like the typical Ah-Beng tyko-wannabe in the early scenes,and your favourite boy next door in his scenes with Orked. It goes to show that there's more to Malaysian cinema than Farid Kamil and Yusry.
He doesn't look like a hero though. And Sharifah doesn't look like a heroine material. This is the problem then. You can't keep turning out arty-emo movies like Sepet all the time. The novelty of having not-so-good-looking main actors will surely die out someday. Yasmin Ahmad can't keep taking them for her movies, less they become like Farid Kamil who IS stuck behind Prof. Mohaideen's ass. I mean, where do they go from here?

The setting of Ipoh certainly manages to capture the not-so-kampung yet non-urban vibe. I hate the cliche that there's only two sides in Malaysia- kampung and KL. Nonetheless, certain aspects of Sepet I find troubling. I can't quite see why she would choose Jason over the "Boyfriend", who IS malay but looks Chinese and an even closer resemblance to Takeshi watever his name is. In fact, there's hardly anyone who looks like the typical Malay guy in the movie. Harith Iskandar certainly isn't.

Speaking of which, Sepet certainly did not put in the issue of parent's consent into the mix, perhaps trying to avoid the cliche but instead turned it into something of a fantasy. The boy is a Chinese VCD-seller whose future is debatable. The parents of Orked never questioned her choice until Jason was involved in some fight with a gangster.

There might be a few more gripes I could think of, but it's late, and frankly speaking, I'm just being annoying. I enjoyed the movie, minus the whole emotional drama at the end. It's a great lesson to other film-makers, serious film-makers. Malaysians must take a hard look at what they want to do before executing it. An expensive film doesn't necessarily translate into critical acclaim, as previous international awards show have proven. It is usually the simple stories, told in an exciting way, that gets international recognition.
In the end, I have to say it's a thoroughly enjoyable movie, but is it realistic or simply a fragment of an imaginary Malaysian society pretending to be reality?


And here's the response from Yasmin:

"...Sepet certainly did not put in the issue of parents' consent into the mix..." - sikapitan

and so you see, ultimately, 'sepet' is about possibilities. "you don't have to understand people to love them" was the contention. if you can bear to watch 'sepet' again, this time with the above in mind, i think you may find things falling into place, insyallah. the maid who rules her employers, the peranakan mother's reaction to an indian poem, the love that happened in an instant at the video stall, the parents who did not mind the boyfriend's ethnic background, the maid who liked thai music, etc. i threw many stereotypes out the window, simply because most if not all of my characters were based on real people, and THEY laugh in the face of stereotyping.

"your job is to love us, not understand us," said orked's mother to her father. i suspect Allah put us on earth to love each other, so we can finally learn to love Him.anyway, thanks for watching 'sepet', and for dropping by at the storyteller. Published By yasmin (yasminthestoryteller.blogspot.com) - May 30 11:41 AM



My point is that: I should bloody hell watch what I'm saying, because sometimes people do read my crap. Nasib la aku tak kutuk lebih2....

I can't stand it...

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Written on 5/30/2005 02:59:00 pm by sikapitan

I woke up late this morning for work, realizing that in USJ (that’s UEP Subang Jaya for the clueless- located beyond Subang Jaya but before Puchong, many have blamed its existence for the congested roads leading in Subang. Town planning anyone?) 10 minutes can and do make the difference. If I leave at 6.50, I’ll reach Pusat Bandar Damansara at 7.25, which is much too early for even the most workaholic of lawyers at Zaid Ibrahim. If I leave at 7.00, I’ll reach there at 7.45, which is not too bad. But let’s just say the extra spicy tomyam you had yesterday for dinner turns your digestive system a bit haywire and you spent an extra 10 minutes in the toilet with your latest copy of FHM, FORGET ABOUT GOING OUT AT 7.15!Yeah, I’ll still reach the office before the punch-in time at 8.45, but I would have to spend 1 hour on the road, with the majority wasted just trying to get out of USJ.

So now I have decided to just don’t give a damn and wake up at 7.30, try to get out before 8, and reach the office by 9. Nobody cares anyway. But this morning I was resigned to battling it out with the rest of the corporate rats when I left the sanctity of my house, and with it my comfortable bed, at 8.02 am. Surprise surprise, the road leading out of USJ was clear. It is now the mid-term school break, and with it goes the thousands of moms (and a smattering of dads) with unkempt hair and unwashed faces from the road. I was pleasantly surprised, but it didn’t matter much on the LDP (surprisingly), because it appears everyone knew about this and decided to leave later than usual.

This daily conundrum of going out early and wasting time at the mamak or going out late and wasting time in my car is getting on my nerves. It’s obvious that no one is car-pooling, so that idea is out of the question. Every car, and I’m not exaggerating here, has a single occupant. Tough to blame them, or even me. I work at a place where the nearest LRT station is 30 minutes away-walking briskly, mind you. I’m sure I’m not alone. What if it was located near an LRT station? It doesn’t help that there is no LRT station in Subang, and the Komuter is all the way near Carrefour, which is after the troublesome jam spots anyway.

Inspired by their yearly (at least) trips to foreign countries (in particular London etc), the Government keeps on saying that we should all take public transports. I have been to London, and it is true that the people there use public transportation a lot. So do Parisians, New Yorkers and citizens of other developed metropolis in the world. Those who have been to London would say that their train/tube/bus stop is a mere 15-minutes walking distance away. But so does the bus-stop near my house, or the one near yours. What many of these “solutionista” failed to realize is that in London and Paris or whatever European country they’ve been to, every walk takes 15 minutes even if it’s actually 30 minutes.

The more accommodating climate in those regions allows the public to walk without being uncomfortable. Frankly, that is my view as to why public transportation has not really caught on with Malaysian workers. They might not admit it, but I will. I like to look good, and so do I believe most Malaysians. I have tried wearing office attire in the bus, and it just doesn’t fit. I sweat, people sweat, and smoke gets in, while cigarette smoke sticks. Even waiting for the Komuter or LRT under a shade cannot disguise the fact that it is not very comfortable. Once you reached your stop you have to walk, and in one of those hot Armageddon-like drought season, 5 minutes seems like eternity.

Call me MANJA, and I’m sure some of you would, but I HAVE been through it before. Add to the problem of the long hours waiting (yes, the LRT is pretty efficient, but from the station to your house?) makes taking public transport an uninteresting proposition. Some of you would even argue that Singapore has an efficient public transport system that’s popular. Remember, we live in Malaysia, or more specifically in this problem, Kuala Lumpur (dan kawasan2 sewaktu dengannya). Everything’s connected in Singapore easily because it’s so damn small. It’s just like you living in KL and its outskirts. Not really a problem now is it? What about those of us in the fringes of the capital, like Serdang, Subang, Petaling, Shah Alam and all those new townships cropping up like mushrooms after a rainy day? If this were Singapore, we would all be living in the sea.

So what’s the solution? I think that we have reached the breaking point for Kuala Lumpur. No amount of LRT, Monorails, bus lanes, and whatnots can hide the fact that KL and its surrounding areas are overused. Perhaps the Government did us a favor by moving government administrative functions out to Putrajaya. Slowly we are seeing more and more businesses moving its enterprise out of KL. And I believe that is the best solution. The banks especially should have their very own Putrajaya. Then spend good money not on making beautiful buildings but roads and trains that connects us all to these outskirt mini-metropolis. Don’t la develop places like Damansara and its likes. Its development has already encroached into main KL Go look at those empty lands between here and KLIA. Shopping malls and its ilk can stay in Kuala Lumpur, thank you.

Just an opinion anyway. Something to reflect upon your next encounter with Mr.Jam, and I don’t mean Michael Jackson. Go figure.

For pictures from the LonRis experience, visit my fotopage.

Is this the first ever car review?

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Written on 5/27/2005 12:54:00 pm by sikapitan

And so it is, the red half of Merseyside has done the improbable. They have beaten Milan in a Champions League final through a penalty shoot-out (again!!!) despite being three, I repeat THREE, goals down at the start of the second half. I won’t bore you with tactical analysis yada yada yada. Suffice to say, as we have seen in another final recently *ehem ehem*, life’s not fair. It never is. It never will be. Football, like I’ve said many times before, is the perfect embodiment of life itself. In this case, it’s just like you out there who worked so hard to look good, talk smooth, smell nice and yet the girl just went to that ugly bloke who has “heart”. Bullshit I say.

To complete one of the most miserable months in my life (at least in terms of supporting something), Carrie Underwood and Sergio Mora both won American Idol and The Contender respectively. It might be wise for the betting man to come see me, and place their bets on whoever I’m NOT supporting. United, Milan, Sporting Lisbon, Bo Bice, Peter Manfredo, even the people I thought would be in Akademi Fantasia did not make it. The losing streak is incredible. Perhaps I should refrain from supporting Perodua’s MyVi?

It was on the way back from those late night sojourns at the mamaks that I and Mr. Fredo stumbled upon the still-open Perodua showroom. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Perodua is way ahead of Proton when it comes to marketing. Is the Gen.2 not important enough for them to make a seriously good ad campaign? Where’s the TV ad for example? The lack of impetus on the part of Proton has clearly given Perodua the advantage. What’s the last Proton TV ad you remember? Mine is the Satria ad where there’s like horses and some weird soundtrack at the back. Perodua? How about the Einstein jibe for Kenari, or Superman changing in a Kenari, or the mad professor for “engineered for excellence”? Let’s not forget the countless Hari Raya and such ads that are miles better than Proton’s. I know that ads don’t make a car better, but it sure does show that the company cares enough to promote.

Back to the MyVi. In a brilliant move, Perodua decided to extend the operating hours of their showrooms. Of course, the straight laced people at Proton might be thinking “Sapa nak beli kereta tgh2 malam?”. The point is not only to sell cars, but to make an impression. Anyway, when we stopped at the showroom close to midnight, there are still a lot of people hanging about. Not as many as during the day, but if one out of 15 manages to buy, there could be 2 customers signing up between 11-12.30 pm, and that’s a worthwhile risk to take.

The car itself looks impressive. The shape is the amalgam of various recent runaway successes in Malaysia. The front end is unmistakably Jazz/Toyota Wish hybrid. The whole shape is a bit Citroen C3, while the back is Getz/Punto like. The length is something like Aveo’s (they even have one in the same ugly bird-shit color). Most amazingly, the inside of the car seems bigger than even my Jazz. Maybe it’s the lighter color, but it is a brilliant piece of engineering to pack that much room in a compact car. In terms of looks, it’s a winner in my book, especially in funkier colors like the Orange or Red. The interior layout is decent enough, with funky 3 spoke steering wheel for the higher end models and built-in cd player for all models. The boot space is not so big, but the various configurations you can do with the back seat will probably help solve this problem. Plus, as the salesman keeps on telling to anyone who would bother listening, the back passenger’s doors can be opened at an 80 degrees angle. In layman’s term, you could open it flat out to fit that IKEA table or your fat uncle.

But, the interior trim is still cheap, with the rough fabrics and hard plastics reminding you that this car is not meant for those who appreciate finesse. The auto stick-shift is way too low, the car feels way too big (difficult for lady drivers), the stereo looks gaudy (and there’s no way to replace it!!!) and it’s difficult to get a proper driving position. But the plastics looked solid, and if the Kenari/Kelisa interior is anything to go by, should last a lifetime. My friend has just reported that the interior trim of her Gen.2 keeps falling apart. Please explain Mr. Proton.

I don’t know how it will drive, but the top-end is fitted with the DVVT (another great ad campaign yea?) 1.3 engine found in the Kembara. In that car, because the engine is powering 4 wheels, the fuel consumption is a bit on the high side. But fitted in a two-wheel drive vehicle, it should prove a bit more sprightly and economical. At a price that’s considerably lower than any of its likes (from 41k-51k), it is a sure winner. And a deserved one too, if first impression’s anything to go by.

I just hope that it’s not like some of the girls I’ve went out with. Beautiful, but too un-refined. Go figure.

For pictures from the LonRis experience, visit my fotopage.

Revenge of Sikapitan

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Written on 5/24/2005 12:30:00 am by sikapitan

I HAVE BEEN GONE FOR WAY TOO LONG! The itch to write has finally arrived. Many things have happened since my last entry. I was away in London for two weeks, and I do apologize for not writing on what surely was a great social comparative experience. I started working in a law firm, of all things, which I am sure I’ll have the opportunity to talk about in the coming entries. Tony Blair’s elected for a third, and surely last, term. Liverpool, of all teams, is in the Champions League final. Manchester United, in addition to being trophy-less for the first time since the 97/98 season, is now controlled by a “supposedly” greedy American, Malcolm Glazer (who of course, just to highlight his “evil”, looked exactly like Rasputin). On the local front, news has been rather slow. No sensational sex scandals, murders, CBT, or celebrity trials that’s worth any mention (though I have to state that I am personally interested in Fazura’s trial *ehem*). But there’s that RM34 million cop we could talk about, but it’ll surely be under some rug at the end of the day.

But just to start it off, I’ll begin with some fluffy piece on what must be the biggest news in Malaysia last week – the final installment of the Star Wars trilogy, Revenge of the Sith. It’s ironic that because of our tendency to watch all things pirated, we get the advantage of watching movies earlier than most countries. I was surprised when my friend in London told me that most of the time the blockbusters are shown in Asian countries first then England. I can’t remember his example, nor can I vouch the authenticity of his claim, but I can’t disagree with the logic of it. Anyway, they’ve got Sky TV over there, which has way too much channels, and if you subscribe to the movie package there’s plenty of recent movies shown, unlike Astro’s movie package. But just like Astro, just give me 3 days with 500 channels and I’m still bored. The novelty wears off quickly, trust me. The only part that doesn’t wear off is the lack of censorship:)

Talking about censorship, have you guys seen Kingdom of Heaven? Now here’s a piece which could be said to have reached the visual and intellectual height of Gladiator (of course, considering they’re both directed by the same person). Minus the casting of Orlando Bloom (He tried but can’t Hollywood see he’s simply not macho enough?), the movie is an excellent interpretation of events during the Holy War period. What I CANNOT understand is the stamp of approval by the Censorship Board for this movie. It’s rated “U”! Umum??? Trust me, there’s nothing “umum” about chopped heads and spilled guts. And if the violence is too “umum” for Malaysians, what about the whole “religious” and “political” undertone of the movie?

I am NOT for censorship, but I question the integrity of the Board if you can rate Hellboy as 18SG (or was it PL) or banning Daredevil while not making an effort to ensure that the same standard is applied to elsewhere. Hellboy and Daredevil are fantasy pieces, from comic strips. Why the double standard for Kingdom of Heaven? Perhaps the Censorship Board thinks we are too stupid to realize the subtle meanings embedded in the story and stupid enough to believe that comic characters are real. C’mon. Lines like “If god doesn’t understand, then there is no god, so we have nothing to be afraid” is more dangerous than merely calling someone HELLboy or dareDEVIL. The point is this: if you want to do something, do it for the right reasons and good conscience. If not, just label everything “U”.
Ah, back to Star Wars III. The hype surrounding this movie wasn’t as great as The Phantom Menace (maybe because fans are simply tired of the bullshit first two installments), but the early review sounded positive. Plus, the trailers were inspiring, promising deeper, darker action and less emotional drama like Episode II. So it was with great satisfaction that I managed to book some seats at One Utama on the opening day. It was an afternoon show, but I was still surprised at the amount of empty seats in front of me. It wasn’t half-empty, but it wasn’t THAT packed either. Could have been the timing, I’m sure.

I actually had to rush back from work that Thursday afternoon, but it was no surprise to find that, despite being 15 minutes late, the show hasn’t started yet. There’s Brad Pitt looking suave running away from reporters. I think beer ads are the greatest. Really. I hate to admit it, but I feel like I just had to have a Heineken. Thank God for his protection of my soul, or I would be drunk every time I watch a movie. Anyway, I don’t know if it was just me (or the dozens of people who suddenly decided that the afternoon would be a great time to bother me with their SMSes) but I just don’t feel it. The movie did not touch me. I had an almost emotionless experience. It was like watching some one-off action story and not the final chapter of what must have been one of the best sci-fi adventures in modern film history.

I can’t quite place what’s wrong with the movie. I mean, the CGIs are awesome, but that’s also a minus point for me. The whole movie’s too polished, too light and breezy, too beautiful. The acting’s not the worse I have ever seen, but again, it appears that technology has outshone the lead characters. The storyline’s acceptable, but highly improbable. Anakin’s turn into the Dark Force was too easy, too commercial. At the end of it, it’s like eating Ayamas. It tastes good, it looks good, but you just know the original Kentucky is much much better. (Trust me to equate watching movies with Ayamas..aiyahhh…)

By the way, you guys can forget about the MSN.Spaces site. It takes ages to load at other PCs. So I’m sticking by this one till it gets sorted out. Please leave signs that there’s people out there still reading my mindless crap:)

Okay guys...

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Written on 4/16/2005 12:31:00 am by sikapitan

I'll be gone for a while, and I've set up something on the new site. I know the layout is a bit on the cramped side, but I do hope for your support and comments. They have got to work on the typeface, don't you agree?

Anyway, I'm reminded of a line from one of my favourite songs by Sheryl Crow:
"I need a change, a change would do you good."

Enjoy.

SaNgAp!

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Written on 4/10/2005 11:29:00 pm by sikapitan

Note: This entry was written last week, and it was the one that I failed to paste on the new site. Speaking of which, I've come to realized that I'm having difficulty accessing the MSNspaces site for Undergrounduate. In actual fact, all I keep getting is "this space is currently unavailable...". I'm confused because other MSNspaces are available. I'm not sure what's going on, but until it's all sorted out I just have to stick with blogger. Cheers...

It’s done and dusted. The fifth semester is over (or at least it is until I get my results). It’s been a hell of a ride. The same bike, but a different route altogether. Every time it’s the end of some definitely quantifiable period like semesters or new years I get strangely melancholic, especially if it’s late at night and I’m here sitting in front of my computer. I can’t quite place what the problem is. I should be absolutely delighted that the semester is over. But perhaps it’s the reflection of things done and anticipation of things forthcoming that triggered this despondent disposition on my naturally irrational but cheery self.

It wasn’t the best start for me personally. Trust is the central theme for this semester, or rather the sudden realization that it should not be counted upon in its entirety. Just an observation: People in general are trustworthy in most things. For example, I could trust you 99 times out of a 100 to lock your car or to close the door to my car or to pass me back my pen. Thus, it would be a grave misconception for us to adopt the maxim that “people are untrustworthy”. It’s not that they cannot be trusted at all. They just can’t be trusted with things that matters most to you. I humbly submit that people have this innate ability to somehow disappoint you in one way or another.

But just remember the 9/10 times they DIDN’T disappoint you. I’m disappointed when my friend forgot to pass on an important tip for the finals or to mess up with assignments I have carefully prepared, and I do get upset (I’m very hot-headed by nature) but it’s the realization that they’ve passed you countless notes or they helped you with your guitar playing and other miscellaneous things that helped me to move on.

It’s just that sometimes the frustration accumulates (this is perhaps due to a more pressing “personal” breach of trust of the nature which I have promised myself not to involve readers of this blog..kekeke), and I am now left with this weird syndrome of counting only on myself to deliver. I can’t trust anyone. It sucks being a control freak. I guess that’s what making me sad upon reflection of the past 4 months (could be 5 - help me out here course mates).

You remember that feeling when you left high-school of how you’re sad yet excited to face life and all it entails? You know the one where you’re thinking “Oh man, I’m gonna miss that girl” but at the same time “Damn, college’s gonna be filled with hot chicks”. Or the almost universal belief amongst high-school leavers that you’re going to finish college and get a good job and get laid to a hot chick/duck (?). Even the hopeless failures of our education system left it thinking that somehow they’re going to start an enterprise and prosper. Those with money just smiled their way to Australia or wherever the new trendy study port is nowadays.

But then the years go by, and the sunny outlook is lost amidst the sudden realization that there’s more to life that having fun. A degree doesn’t mean shit for most. I’ve friends who have been searching for work for months. Not only you have to content with the shrinking and ultra-competitive employment arena, you begin to see the reality that working isn’t as glamorous as you thought it would be.

My experience working at a magazine a few years back left me with the impression that even with such interesting subject matters you are inevitably left to deal with working 5 days a week for years and years. Most of my friends who have worked before couldn’t stand it for more that a couple of months. For the ignorant, it was just temporary work but the truth is most people lead their life doing the very same thing we considered as merely temporary. The difference is that they can’t quit because unlike us, they can’t rely on their parents anymore.

It is this anticipation of facing the harsh realities of life that makes me miss the past. I like being able to pick my time, pick my friends and enjoy relative freedom. High-school shapes you, college defines you and working just kills you. The problem with thinking too much is that it leaves you paralyzed with fear. I am scared.

Despite the bleak outlook on life prevailing at this current moment, I do realize that it’s just a phase that I go through with alarming precision every single semester. For the first few days especially, I won’t want to let go. Heck, I am brave enough to admit I miss the trip to Uitm. There’s something great about being around your peers, even complete strangers. People who say you’ll meet more people when you work obviously are blinded by fiction or even the reality of the minority. Go ask your average government servant how many new interesting people they meet. There’s not a single better opportunity to make new friends than the period between high-school and real work.

The point is that by this weekend, I’ll forget the whole damn thing and wished I never have to go to university again. I bet when I start my attachment next month I would be too immersed with work or tiredness to ever bother with missing college. That’s how people lose themselves in their work. It helps them move on with their life. The question that remain is how much of it is really their life? Could responsibilities make you lose who you are? There’s always hurt when you grasp at the past, but at least you’ve made through it. The future though, remains unknown. It could just disappoint you, you know.

Just testing a new service

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Written on 3/29/2005 07:39:00 pm by sikapitan

Guys and gals... visit the brand new Social Commentary from an Undergrounduate at this new service offered by MSN. Need the feedback!!! (oh yeah..I just noticed that the link DOES NOT work when using Mozilla Firefox..is this some sort of Microsoft conspiracy?)

Releasing tension (warning:it might not make sense..but you already know that)

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Written on 3/23/2005 01:43:00 am by sikapitan

I’ve just finished my first paper for my finals. It was something called the Law of Ass…there’s something missing in that sentence but it doesn’t matter because I really believe that I’ve been made an ass. It’s not that I have anything against taking finals, but I simply find the whole exercise of going through months of lectures as virtually pointless. It’s not like I studied for the past three months. Countless hours have been wasted going to class with me nodding off or my mind wandering from football to girls. I’m not the kind who studies or even take notes unless there’s an exam coming by, and frankly speaking, I think most of us are like that. We study last-minute, the genetically embedded procrastination gene working overtime to lure us with various distractions from something as interesting as a football match to something as inconsequential as an afternoon nap.

So we wait, and we delayed, and the phrase “Sebulan lagi” sounded so fresh in my mind. Next thing we know, it’s already the final week of lectures. Seriously, that’s exactly how I felt. I was caught surprised when the lecturer asked us if we find her lecture interesting and that she hope she won’t have to see us next semester. Stupidly, I asked “But aren’t we meeting next week?” The girl next to me looked me straight in the eye and said, “Next week dah takder kelas laa..kan nak finals”. Déjà vu, definitely. Every semester it’s the same thing all over again. That’s my point actually. I just don’t like the fact that I’m wasting time. I do understand that some students love going to lectures, but there’s a proportion of us who can’t give a rat’s ass what the lecturer’s saying.

Give me the whole course outline, proper notes, articles and 2 weeks to study everything and hit me with my finals. And then a 2 weeks break, with the cycle repeating itself all over again. At this moment, I’m spending 3 months (or more- I could never get that right) going to class just hanging out, then taking my finals, then spending 2 and a 1/2 months doing nothing but fill up this blog (that’s how long our mid-year break is), with only two semesters per year. I could be done with the whole course in a year and a half, god-willing. It’s a waste of time and for what? I don’t remember what I learned the last semester, if that’s the intention of having lectures and all that. I’ll definitely not remember any of the details (ie. case laws etc2 and for those not taking law- business theories etc2) by the time I graduate, nor do I need to. For example, a businessman needs to know that when there’s a surplus of demand, the prices will go up. He doesn’t need to know how to draw the graphs or calculate the whole damn economy. It’s not like I couldn’t look up cases on the computer or even textbooks. Is somebody going to fire me if I refer to books when researching for a case? Hey, maybe I could just take it easy and study just so I could pass since it’s all going to be useless anyway.

But in this current climate of so many graduates not being able to get jobs (according to the papers – 80 000 estimated), I wouldn’t want to risk working as a rubber tapper (not that there’s anything wrong with tapping rubbers, I’m just lactose intolerant..wait, that’s milk isn’t it? *laughs sarcastically*). You see, I think most of us have realized long ago that you don’t really use 80% of what you tried so hard to remember during school and university. The only reason we’re still sweating it out trying to remember is because we know our future employers have no better way to easily assess potential employees. Yes, some might be able to charm them despite below-average scores, but not many of us look like Hans Isaac or Paula Malai Ali. So we depend on our grades. It helps us get into university, colleges, scholarship and work even though that very same employer would later realize that the Dean’s List Dude is nothing more that a Photostat machine with zero creativity. But what else does he have to go by? Doing well in your exams means you’re dependable; you’re at least half-way intelligent, you’re strong willed, you’re hard-working and at the very least – you’ve got your priorities straight. Not everyone can be Bill Gates – a college dropout who turns into a billionaire. Even he employs many people based on their paper qualifications.

Until there’s some way employers can assess prospective employee by their ability to do the particular task they’ll be employed to, there’s no other way but to slug it out studying to score for your exams. But I still want to see a one-year degree program available as an option. I need the money to get married. AHAHAHHAHAHAHA….