Treasure Hunters, CEO-wannabe Speech & Apam Manis

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Written on 12/27/2008 10:54:00 am by sikapitan

Treasure Seekers...

I’m here in Penang for the second time in a week. The first was with my mates the Actuarist (there’s no such word, but it sounds cool) and the Coverliner for Maxis’ Sports and Recreation Club Treasure Hunt.

We were virgin treasure hunters, and thought that it would be better for us just to drive straight to Penang, enjoy the food there, and forget about the hunt. But as soon as the first puzzle came up, we were hooked, and the competitive nature of these high-performing individuals *insert laughter here* would not let the hunt die by itself.

We didn’t win, of course, but we had loads of fun, and I think we’ve the raw talent to make this work the next time. Yes, there should be a next time, and I count on the Actuarist to make this happen (I lack the motivation to help others...sigh).

Now, if only they had made it MILF hunting, then I’d definitely be super-motivated....

Graduating...again?

As you may or may not know, I was part of the Maxis Graduate Trainee Program. Now, every time I mention this, it becomes a source of confusion. Are you an intern? Are you training? Are you on contract basis? The answer to all is NO.

We are permanent employees, doing real work (or pretending to) and get paid with real money, not Monopoly-cash. It’s basically a management associate program, and I’m glad that they’ve just announced changing the name to Maxis Management Associate Program for the sake of future batches.

We are supposed to be high-performing graduates from reputable universities with an extra drive to succeed in the corporate world. Which just makes me wonder why and how I got into this in the first place? Suffice to say that there wouldn’t be any more UiTM candidate after me...*insert sigh of relief*.

Just to make it even more comical, we had to have a proper graduation ceremony, marking the end of our one-year program. This is despite all of us already fully integrated into the various business units within Maxis. With full graduation robes for us and the Management, we couldn’t look more intern-like doe-eyed virgins of the working life.

It was a bit surreal to give a speech on behalf of the graduating batch of 12 & 13. First, giving a graduation speech, in robes and that pointy thing on your head, for something that you can’t really call an education program is weird. Secondly, there were graduates from all these top universities of the world, and this kid from UiTM got the call to speak on their behalf.

I think it might just be an affirmative action program *insert sly grin here*. But whatever it was, I hope that it was good enough for them. At least I made a few people laugh (I can’t stand staid, serious speeches).

When I went up to take my scroll (can you believe this? Am I going to include this in my CV? Do I need a CV?), the CEO (Mr. Sandip Das, and not Ananda Krishnan like many assumed. AK is head of the company that owns Maxis) whispered, “You shouldn’t give a better speech than the CEO...”.

That felt good, a source of validation from the highest level. But it made me wonder, should I then be my own CEO?

Foodie Galore

As mentioned above, I’m here in Penang. I left on Christmas Day, which happens to be our 1st year anniversary (Happy Anniversary to my mom and dad as they share the same anniversary). Just to note that I couldn’t wish for a better Anniversary gift than the fact that my wife is doing well coming to 7 months of her pregnancy.

Anyway, I brought my in-laws along for this trip. I mean, with my brother-in-law and his family (which includes Radhi and Fey, two of the cutest kid around IMHO) off to New Zealand for his PhD and everyone else going here, there and everywhere, I thought it would be nice just to take them out and let them think about something else.

My goal is to be rich enough to be able to bring them, and my own family, for a nice trip overseas. So maybe this year it’s Penang, but I hope that next year I can take all of them to one of our neighbours, and with God’s grace, maybe the year after I can afford to take everyone off to Europe or whatever.

Back to Penang. I’m useless when it comes to navigating in Penang. Not because I’m not a good driver, it’s just that I don’t know much about Penang and its attractions, despite hailing from Penang and spending at least a week every year there (usually for Hari Raya).

So I deserve a bit of brick-bats from the pop-in-law for not really knowing my way around Penang. But I had a goal, and that goal is to bring Led and Ibu to all the pretty famous food experience here in Penang.

We started with Nasi Kandar Kayu (beside Hotel Vistana). A lot of people say that it’s not authentic if it’s not dingy, dirty and the food not held by the mamak’s bare hands, but a lot of people also thought that Mawi is a great singer...Anyway, Led was pleasantly surprised with the taste, and I think it pretty much covers up the whole Nasi Kandar thing.

For dinner, my parents (who also drove up to Penang) brought all of us to Hainan, a pretty expensive restaurant that serves unique Hainanese dishes that always leaves me wanting for more. Between lunch and dinner, they (wife, Led & Ibu) had Muar Chee and Sotong Bakar from Gurney Drive.

Yesterday, our second day, my wife spent 3 hours going over Queensbay Mall. I can’t understand the logic of coming to Penang and spending time in a carbon-copy of MidValley, but never deny a pregnant lady her wishes. Then we had lunch at this place (I forgot the name) at Batu Maung, beside the LKIM station. The whole Kari Kepala Ikan experience was wonderful, and pretty affordable too. This is definitely recommended.

On the way back to the hotel, I had to stop along Penang Road and buy those sumptuous Apam Manis from Apam Guan. This guy has been around for 40 years at the same spot and the crowd waiting just showed that he’s still got the touch.

Today, on our way back to KL, I plan to buy these famous goreng pisang at Tanjung Bungah, and then have the famous Sg. Dua prawn mee for lunch.

Man, it truly is a Jalan-Jalan Cari Makan experience. And people ask why I’ve gained weight...

Foot up YOUR a**!

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Written on 12/16/2008 02:08:00 pm by sikapitan

That 70’s Show, which used to be one of the funniest sitcoms around, is officially CRAP.

Officially, the last episode was aired in 2006, but as is common for us here in Malaysia, we get to see it now – 2 years later!

Anyway, if we were to ignore the out-of-date element, the season they’re showing on Astro every Monday night is the 8th season (I think). No more Eric (Topher Grace) or Kelso (Ashton “Punk’d” Kutcher). Both went on to bigger things.

Remember, the episode we’re getting in Malaysia was filmed two years ago. That’s when Topher played a major role in Spider-Man, and a few other movies. Ashton’s busy with his movies as well (and Demi Moore…how MILF can you get?).

Back to the show. It’s crap. It’s lousy. There’s this new character called Randy, played by Josh Meyers, and he must be one of the lousiest comedy actors I’ve seen from a U.S production. It’s MIND-BLOWING how lousy he is.




Even Fez is no longer a guaranteed laugh. And that reflects on the low-quality jokes permeating in the current (or outdated) season. I won’t even start on how they have denigrated Hyde into a drunken fool.

It’s getting harder and harder to find quality sitcoms. I really like 30 Rock, but it’s a bit too off-beat for everyday consumption, you know what I mean?

Where’s the next “Friends” (which they’re still showing…and I can’t get enough of that show…BRILLIANT!)?

About a Stretched Ligament

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Written on 12/15/2008 12:03:00 am by sikapitan

The doctor said its suspected stretched ligament. Sounds great, but it doesn’t feel so good honestly. Football injuries sounds cool, but only if you’re a pro. If you’re an average player (by the standard of your local kampong circuit), then it ain’t so hot.

So I’m out of playing anything for the next few weeks which probably will turn me into a TV slob all over again. You see, I was never a sportsman by any stretch of the imagination. When I was in primary, I did play a bit of badminton and football, but I was known to be rather...fat.

Even in secondary school, I never did get into sports as much as I’d like to. You cannot beat natural talent, and natural talent is one thing that I didn’t really have. My arms and legs are freakishly weak, and losing weight didn’t help me with gaining natural pace.

But I kept on playing, and got a bit better that it didn’t become an embarrassment. Football in high-school was a lost cause, simply because there were too many good players out there. It didn’t help that there’s a gang-like feeling with footballers, which I totally understand.

It kind of changed at University though, just like a lot of things in life. It was an opportunity to show what I can really do, and I’m not just talking about football. Freed from the shackles of impression gained pre-pubescent, I turned into a confident man, and this translated into my performance on the football pitch.

I guess that’s why, till today, when I play with my high-school friends or people that I know from high-school, I’m a bit clumsy. I guess they’d be surprised to know that I can play as a striker in tournaments, and I’m pretty good at it too.

People don’t believe if I tell them this, but it’s true. You want proof? Just join (or watch) me play on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night and see the difference. Thursday’s a new crowd, and they’re pretty good but even then I can be proud of how I’m playing with them. Saturday’s a pretty relaxed bunch of new friends whom I’ve had the pleasure of being acquainted after high-school, and it’s safe to say with them, I’m a brash, loud, over-confident, dribbling-manic player.

Friday’s crowd consist of ex-SMSU students. This is where I get all quiet, and stick to the basics. I don’t venture forward as much, and most of the time I just sweep and pass the ball. And even then I tend to make mistakes I don’t normally make.

It’s a bit too inconsistent for my liking, and what’s weird is that the very next day I could be galloping up and down against international high-schoolers and scoring goals left, right and centre.

I know some friends who have managed to totally transform themselves from the image imposed in high-school. One even managed to be something of a “hot-stuff” amongst the ladies even though he was nothing more than an annoying twat in high-school. It doesn’t have to be one-way only.

Bad boys who were too cool to be bothered with school have turned out straighter and nerdier than the nerds in high-school. Hot girls turned fat and ‘makcik-like’ while previously unknown entities turned out to be smart, sophisticated and totally desirable women.

Do you guys notice this amongst your friends, or even yourself?

Yoga or Not, We Have More things To Get Emo About...

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Written on 12/01/2008 01:55:00 pm by sikapitan

Sometimes I think us Malaysians, as a lot, are busy-bodies, always trying to meddle in the affairs of our neighbors. Seriously, whether guys or girls, one of our favorite pastimes seems to be trying to know what our friends are doing, who they are dating, how much they’re earning.

I mean, well, it’s a bit hypocritical if I don’t admit that I do enjoy a bit of gossiping. But I think as a nation, we have gone a bit too far with this whole Yoga Fatwa issue.

First of all, a Fatwa affects only Muslims. Duh. So imagine my surprise when the non-Muslims kick up such a big fuss over it. Right. Some went on to claim that the fatwa is an insult to their religion.

Why? It clearly states that I can’t eat pork, but is that insulting to Chinese? More importantly, other religions also have rules against their believers from following Islamic practices. When my Chinese friend says that to baca doa and praise Allah is against his religion, is it an insult to my religion?

I completely understand it because obviously his religion would not allow him to follow Islamic practices. If it did, then there’s no point to having different religions. So why can’t they understand that the fatwa is not an insult? Could it be because they’re thick-headed, ignorant racists?

I am not angry because I am a strong, principled, pious Muslim. Far from it. But my anger is based on principle. Don’t mess with other people’s issue, especially if it doesn’t affect, and will not affect, you. Perioud.

On that note, I don’t understand why Muslims are so worked-up over the whole fatwa either. I can accept dissent and discussion, because I think discourse within the Muslim community is a healthy development.

But I take it with a pinch of salt when some Muslims starts to criticize the fatwa and get emotional over it when well…they’ve not really shown they are in a position to be religious experts.

For example, take Ninie Ahmad, one of Malaysia’s leading personalities on yoga. In the Star, she said that her faith in Islam was strong although she had been practising and teaching yoga for eight years.

Shhh...don't tell JAKIM I'm dressed like this...

Right. Look at the picture above. Ironic. I think I agree with her. Yoga definitely did not erode her faith and obedience to Islamic principles. Just kidding, Ninie, if you're reading this...(which I highly doubt...)

Look, I am no moral police. But it’s kind of funny when I hang out with Malays at bars (I don’t drink, but they do) and they get all worked up whenever the issue of religion is discussed. There they were espousing that JAIS shouldn’t conduct raids because it is against personal privacy, while having a cold Heineken.

I might agree with their opinion (hey, I’m not saying they are idiots) but it’s a bit weird to criticize something or be morally righteous about one aspect of Islam while at the same time neglecting to abide by the more important ones.

I have to admit that sometimes I too get these mixed up. I sometimes have to catch myself before launching into a tirade against “oppression” by Muslim fundamentalists.

Now, I want to train my sight on the fatwa. I would not like to comment on the merit of it, because I actually do think they have a valid reason for declaring the traditional practice of Yoga (please note they are not prohibiting the physical “stretching” parts etc.2) as potentially eroding one’s faith. I understand their job, their role to lead fellow Muslims on a righteous path.

But it has to be admitted it would be impossible to monitor yoga practices that crosses the boundary and turned into a mystical Hindu practice. Therefore, I can conclude that this Fatwa, just like the Fatwa against smoking, would have trouble in being gazzetted as a law.

If you ask me, I don’t really care. Because I bet a lot of Muslims have enough problems trying to pray 5 times a day, and not doing Yoga will not compensate for this anytime soon. The Koran prohibits drinking, yet bars are filled with Malays drinking. The Koran prohibits "free sex" (even though you pay for it...), yet 3GP videos are full of Malays romping about from as young as Form 1 (that's sick...). So do we have a deeper problem here to be worked up about?

Heck, if there’s something I want to get worked up about, it would be the fatwa prohibiting Malay girls from taking part in beauty pageants...what a waste.

...

New-Age Bond

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Written on 11/24/2008 11:53:00 pm by sikapitan

Last weekend I managed to catch the much-talked about (I’ll get to that later) latest James Bond flick, Quantum of Solace. Surprisingly, it was pretty empty at Pyramid (relatively speaking – I still had to park at the upper-most level) for a Saturday afternoon. See, since I got married, every free time is just a moment for me to catch my breath. It’s not that easy balancing all our needs. So a movie on a weekend is something of a rarity these days (comparatively, of course).

Anyway, I just had to get this out of my chest – who the hell planned the number of parking bays in Shopping Malls? It pisses me off every time I see these big developers raking in profits while we circle around for ½ hour trying to find an empty spot.

Back to Bond, James Bond. I guess after the brilliant Casino Royale, a lot of people had higher expectations from QOS and especially Daniel Craig. I’ve been hearing a lot of grouses from people who, while not exactly disappointed, complained that this is not a James Bond film.

I’m not a Bond aficionado, but I can differentiate Goldfinger and Goldeneye, so I’m not a complete idiot. I was exposed to Bond films when I was just a little kid, through videos of Sean Connery’s From Russia With Love and my personal favourite (of him) so far, Goldfinger. Who could forget one of the funniest Bond-girl names ever created – Pussy Galore?

A lot of us grew up in the era of Pierce Brosnan – charming, witty, tough but not scary and dashingly handsome. All that changed since Daniel Craig took on the mantle.

QOS didn't even bother with the customary "Bond, James Bond" introduction

I guess what they meant was that QOS totally dismisses most of the identifiers we commonly see in Bond films. There was no fancy gadget, the wit was kept to the minimal, and Craig’s Bond, well, he didn’t even bother being charming.

Frankly, I don’t know why people are complaining. Things change. People change. This is a different era. Most importantly, this new direction reflects who we are as a society – cold, calculating, brutal and effective. Even the courtship reflects this mood – invite into room, have sex, encore, and then leave for a mission. If that’s not the 21st century, I don’t know what is.

Despite the obviously flawed action scenes (too disjointed), I like QOS. It’s edgy, it’s realistic (as realistic as Bond could ever be) and it clearly shows that the world is not just black and white. Time and time again the script kind of apologetically reminds us that governments don’t just “work with good people”. It’s the kind of subtle ode to the current political climate that I enjoy.

Do I miss the funny names and clever one-liners? Of course. Do I wish for the customary “gadget-showing scene”? Yes. But as we keep on comparing the present to the past, we tend to forget that we’ve changed too. If you open your eyes to the new possibilities out there, and still find it unattractive, then I’m cool with that.

But don’t dismiss the present simply because it doesn’t conform to your idea from the past.

Interesting question: Now that the new James Bond is more and more akin to super-CIA-agent Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), who do you prefer more? Honestly, although a lot of people don’t like the whole Bourne series, I quite like it simply because it feels real (and the hand-to-hand combat scenes are a joy to watch).

What about Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) of Mission Impossible series? Or was his antics in Oprah disqualify him from this contest? Go figure.

Duit Kecik Ada Tak?

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Written on 11/04/2008 05:59:00 pm by sikapitan

You’ve all experienced it before, that moment when as a customer you get this “What the hell is going on here” feeling. We Malaysians are a bit more tolerant than others I guess, because ever since I started being reasonably conscious of customer experience, the level of service have not improved one-bit.

This list of things that pisses me off about our customer service experience is not exhaustive, but after one too many bad experiences, I really need to take this down, in random order of “annoying-ness”:

  • “Sir, let me just connect you to him,” then…Tut-tut-tut. Nothing. What the hell?
  • Waiters that hang around talking while obviously ignoring your call for service. This is most common in mamaks. What the hell?
  • Store assistants that follow you 3 meters away. Maybe I missed this during Sales training but I guess its essential – Treat All Customers Like Potential Thieves 101. What the hell?
  • Assistants that try to tell you what size you should get. Most of the time it’ll be off-the-mark because they’re from a different generation where wearing shirts one-size too big is the trend. Screw them, I wear mine fitted. What the hell?
  • Store assistants that assume they’re smarter than you or you’re ignorant. This happen sometimes when you’re purchasing high-end products like TV sets, radio…it’s great if they offer advice, but please don’t patronize. What the hell?
  • People that offer unwanted and unsolicited advice. “Eh, if you’re getting married, you should go to Bukit Merah Laketown for your honeymoon…,” Thanks, piss off. What the hell?
  • Foreign workers that can’t understand what I’m trying to say. “Teh O Limau Suam satu” Nods. Then returns with Sirap Bandung Ais with Extra Red Beans. What the hell?
  • “Ada duit kecik tak?” I feel like smacking these guys sometimes. I understand if you do it out of necessity, but I can see that small change in your teller, you jackass. What the hell?

Sigh. Love this world.

Economic Downturn and the Opportunity it Presents

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Written on 10/30/2008 07:19:00 pm by sikapitan

Despite what our Government is trying to portray, Malaysia is not immune from the global financial crisis. This is evident by the battering our KLSE has taken since the turn of this month. However, I believe there is some truth in the statement that Malaysia will be relatively stable economically.

Again, just take a look at the stock market. Despite reaching lows not seen in years, you don’t see en masse retrenchment or excessive decline in consumer spending. Heck, every day at KLCC I see people trying out goods like there’s no tomorrow.

Unlike the last big drop in the mid-90s, where scores of individuals turn bankrupt, this time most Malaysians are not actively and directly involved in the stock market. Retail investors (meaning you and me) make up only a small percentage of holdings in our equity market.

Strict lending rules imposed by the banks have also restricted individuals from excessively borrowing money to finance stock purchases. Therefore, the losses in the stock market, in general, will not impact individuals like you and me directly.

Another plus factor is our own conservatism in relation to our savings. Malaysians in general tend to be conservatives and keep the majority of their money in fixed-deposit or open-ended government trust fund (eg. ASB). The more adventurous would venture into mutual funds, and even then I see reluctance to throw away their savings.

At this moment, most of us are suffering from paper losses with regards to Mutual Funds. But as the investment horizon clearly states between 3-5 years, perhaps we shouldn’t be unduly worried.

The last form of savings/investment for most Malaysians is Real Estate Investment. This is becoming increasingly popular as historically here in Malaysia, Real Estate is almost equivalent to capital guaranteed fixed deposit. At the very least, you’ll lose a few thousand from your purchase price. Not too bad considering the potential yearly yield of 7 – 10% or capital appreciation of 20% - 40% from purchase price.

This is especially true if the property is purchased from reputable developers.

However, as I’ve been surveying some properties, I noticed that sometimes there are a lot of investors as opposed to actual purchasers. This means that properties are being picked up at inflated prices based on inaccurate demand. The demand from investors does not necessarily correspond to demand from people who actually want to live there.

It’s a chicken and egg situation. The investor would go to the sales gallery, and then realized that units are being snapped up quickly. The investor equates this to demand from purchasers. They will then put in money without realizing that no one wants to stay there upon completion. In fact, even if there were, upon completion, there will be a glut of investors ready to rent out their units, which makes it harder for you to set the price you wanted.

In any case, I predict that in 3 months time the property market will follow the path of the stock market. Once the stock market bottoms out, and start its recovery upwards, start tracking the property market as it will lag a few months from the stock market. But if there’s no real recession (increase in unemployment, negative growth y-o-y etc.), then perhaps there will only be a slowdown in demand, but it will not adversely impact prices.

Especially as developers are also slowing down with new launches. The shortage in supply will balance out the decrease in demand.

Next year will be a great year for those willing to take risks. Go figure!

This Voice inside My Head

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Written on 10/21/2008 09:00:00 am by sikapitan

There’s a voice inside my head. And it keeps on telling me that I must start something on my own. Unlike some of my colleagues, I have this constant itch to go out and start a business. I just don’t know what the business would be.

That’s the question I asked my good friend – what if someone likes everything. What if that person is as comfortable dealing with Powerpoint presentations in the board room as he is with selling stuffs by the roadside? What if he likes the discipline of MNCs while enjoying the freedom of self-entrepreneurship?

See, it’s easy if you have a preference. I know of friends who just enjoy working from 9-5, and cannot stand working odd hours. I know of people who can’t stand the thought of sitting in an office for hours.

It’s even easier if you have limited/specialized competency. Some people can’t sell anything even if their mom’s life depended on it. Some people just can’t bear the thought of preparing a complex business case where EBITDA margin is the king.

These people, to me, are lucky in a sense because their preference and competence will dictate what they can and would like to do.

Sometimes I see entrepreneurs mocking the corporate-types for being too straight and not thinking “big”. And I see corporate-types saying that entrepreneurs must be idiots because they can’t get that high-flying job in that big MNCs.

Me? I totally dig both groups, and I can understand if my colleagues prefer working their way up the corporate ladder and I can relate if my friend says that we are all wasting a golden opportunity to make lots of money.

I guess I must be crazy for thinking that I am unlucky. I feel blessed, every single day. It’s better to be able to do lots of things than to be lousy at most. But sometimes I just think it’ll be much easier if that voice inside my head would tell me – hey, bro…you’re doing just fine.

__________________________________________________________

Rooney’s on Fire

Luckily for United, we have Wayne Rooney to carry off the slack that is known as Berbatov. Yeap, Berba did play some nice passes through AND he did score. But don’t you guys think he’s just a bit freaking lazy?

Yet, and this is why the world is a bit unfair, he was on the winning side, and would get a big fat paycheck at the end of the week while real football heroes like Wigan’s Amr Zaki can only look on as the lucky Liverfool rats notch up another win against 10-men opposition.

Zaki played an absolute blinder, harassing the Liverpool’s backline all the way. Yeah, people may say that he might just be another one-season wonder. Who cares as long as you play with your heart on your sleeves? Just like Wayne Rooney. I don’t give a crap if he doesn’t score, because I know that he puts in 110% every single game.

Liverpool v Wigan Athletic


Anyway, Zaki’s second goal certainly put to be any doubts about his ability. What a cracker!

With friends like these...

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Written on 10/16/2008 10:22:00 pm by sikapitan

I remember when I was having a cuppa with some “good friends” of mine. Note the “...”.

I’ve had a few of those. People that come and go, passing through your life, without ever actually being anything more significant that cool people that you’d hang out with, but not forever.

No offense to these friends, but if there ever were a need for prime example of Malay urban youths (and I’m using this term liberally...) gone south, then they would definitely fit the bill.

What is it about teh tarik that brings out the best and the worst in people? At one moment, we could be discussing serious political issues with such deep insight that it would blow George Bush’s head off without a trace.

Then suddenly, without the barest hint of female form, these very same “political analysts” would talk about girls, and the endless drama associated with them, and of course, the “ehem ehem”. Sometimes it’s funny, but most of the time it just pisses me off.

You can talk about girls. It’s only natural. But why must it be so graphic?

Another thing that pisses me off about some of the friends I hang out with is their perpetual need to blame others or find excuses for their own failings. I mean, once, I was having teh tarik (again) at Mydin, and we were commending the success of Mydin before one of the friends mentioned that if he were given a prime land like Mydin (or whoever the boss is) and had connections, he would have made it big as well.

Of course, we all do these sometimes, but for some, it becomes a hindrance to their life. I know someone who smokes weed, take pills, would fuck a tree if it had a hole, molest girls, have no manners, talks cock 24/7, was lucky he finished high-school, and don’t even look good BUT his lack of success in life is always due to: UMNO Puteras “stealing” all his contracts, his friend have no “business vision”, his boss is a jackass, the Government is too slow...a million and one other excuses.

It just pisses me off.

Locking Us Out?

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Written on 10/07/2008 08:49:00 pm by sikapitan

Recently, USJ 11/3 (for those in the dark, it’s where the once-famous Chatters Restaurant and now-famous Anjung Merah restaurants originated) introduced a gated community concept.

Previously, it was just another normal neighborhood bordering my parents’ house at USJ 11/2. But USJ’s increasing crime rate has led the neighborhood community to introduce this gated community concept.

I, for one, sympathize with their plight. My parents’ house was broken into twice, while my car which was parked right in front of the house got its window smashed once before. So, I really do empathize with their problem.

However, I have to question the imposition of restricted access to the streets of USJ 11/3 primarily because the residents are converting public roads maintained by MPSJ into private ones as opposed to pre-defined private property development. I suspect that it will not pass the legal hurdle if ever challenged in court.

There’s also a public field in that area. Yes, you can still access it by parking in front of Sri Ayuthaya, but again, the question remains: Can you then restrict access to the public from using the road if they want to park near where they want to? Or are you now saying that the field there is strictly for USJ 11/3 residents?

Another issue is that part of USJ 11/3 is normally used by people who visit Taipan during the day (opposite Public Bank). Well, those who frequent Taipan would know how terrible the traffic situation is there. Parking is a nightmare, especially if all you wanted to do is a simple transaction and have a short time-frame to do so.

What most would do is park across the main road at USJ 11/3. Yeap, it’s not meant to be that way, but unless and until MPSJ provide adequate parking spaces in Taipan, it seems the only reasonable thing to do for everyone.

The situation is not dissimilar to residents who live in front of public playgrounds and have to endure cars parked by the roadside. But we would never think of calling in MPSJ to tow these cars away because we understand their needs and as long as it doesn’t impact us adversely, we can accommodate these minor transgressions.



Unfortunately, the committee members of USJ 11/3 have threatened to call in MPSJ to summon these cars. Can you imagine being summoned for a situation that you cannot REASONABLY prevent? Can you suddenly create a designated parking space? I don’t think so.

The primary purpose of this is to prevent crime. Unfortunately, along the way, the non-criminals and average Joes who have the RIGHT to use the streets and roads are also discriminated against as though the streets belong to only USJ 11/3 residents. Does this sound right to you? If that’s the case, imagine what would happen if we were to close access to USJ 11/2 then?
At the end of the day, I sincerely believe that the committee is rightfully concerned about their safety. It is a sad reflection of our society that the police can no longer be counted upon to provide a safe and sound sanctuary for the Rakyat. There’s a genuine effort to solve the problem by USJ 11/3, and I applaud them for the effort. It’s just that I have this feeling it would later create a situation that would spiral out of control and lead to various other issues that I don’t have the time to raise here. Good luck!

Where Are You Berbatov?

So far we have seen some nice touches, a few delightful passes, and two goals against European minnows in the 5-6 games that Berbatov has played in since he joined Manchester United. It has been a slow start to Man United’s 30 MILLION pound man.

I have nothing against Berba except for the fact that I have unequivocally stated to anyone who cares to listen that we don’t really need him at THAT price. Why? Last season we did wonders from our three-pronged attack of Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez.



Fergie and everyone was gushing how wonderful these three were in when in full flight and in-form.

We were a bit light in attack in case any one of them got injured or out-of-form though, but when the three are playing, we were virtually unstoppable in attack. That was the argument then for another striker. And also the fact that we needed an alternative to Man United’s attacking play – “a target man is needed” was the cry.

So the primary issue was back-up, quality back-up. Or did Manchester United decide to pay 30 million quid for Tevez to be a back-up? I don’t think so, and the “Apache” has shown himself to be a class first-team act.

Which begs the question why did we have to go through the long and protracted battle to gain ANOTHER 30 million “cover” who is already 27 years old? Of course you can’t fit all four of them in a team without sacrificing balance and effectiveness. Therefore, one of these expensive signings has to sit out. Not very clever, Fergie.

If you already have a 30 million striker, what you need is a reasonable 15 million quid maximum quality backup. There’s a host of strikers that fits the bill, and wouldn’t cost us a bomb to leave in the bench.

On the second point that Berba would bring a different dimension to United’s game, I have my reservation. Berbatov is NOT a better header of the ball than either Rooney or Ronaldo. Heck, I think he’s even weaker in winning the ball in the air than Tevez, who is a monster of a shorty. He can’t hold the ball, he doesn’t wait for tap-ins, he is slow to get to the 6-yard box…hmmmm…is he the out and out striker that United supposedly need as an alternative to the free-flowing, skillful trio of Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez?

Berba is best when the ball is on the ground, with little flicks and through balls his forte. His laidback style doesn’t suit Manchester United fast running, ball behind the defense game plan, so I guess if by bringing an alternative style means playing slow and deliberate, then I agree Berba is the man for Manchester United.

He will do well, no doubt about it. A classy player playing for Man United will surely do well (we are not Liverpool) at the end of the day. The problem is he will do well at the expense of a system that has already brought us success without any signs of failure.

Imagine if Fergie had a little faith in Rossi, who is now flourishing for Villareal, and now, Frazier Campbell…how much, would we have saved?

The Best Job in the World?

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Written on 9/26/2008 02:45:00 pm by sikapitan

I was told by someone that when he was in University, when people talk about Finance, the immediate association would be banker. And banker here does not mean your sexy Investment Banker, but actual bread-and-butter deposit, loan etc. banking.

Nowadays, there’s a myriad of opportunities for those who did Finance or its ilk in university. Everyone wants to be an Investment Banker, and for good reasons too.

The world economy has moved beyond the simple import export of goods and services. Some very clever folks have decided that simply dealing with real, tangible products are no longer enough to satisfy their lust for money.

So they created the futures market, short-selling and other kinds of financial razzmatazz that deals not with the present, real and tangible. Instead, the vast amount of liquidity going around the world these days are based on perception, on anticipation, on hedging for the future and sometimes, just plain old speculation.

What this means is that the market is never rational and never perfect (Adam Smith would be disappointed, no?). And that means it works based on the herd mentality. Once a sign is picked up by everyone that the market is heading for a bull run, they will immediately act upon it. In other words, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

IB folks are smart, no doubt about it. But they are also not immune to follow the herd, simply because if they don’t, and based their assessment on the plain old “boring” fundamentals, they might lose out to their peers. And losing out here means losing a huge paycheck at the end of the year.

This is what pisses me off a bit about all these Finance and Investment Bankers and Analysts. They get paid for the performance of their portfolio in any given year, and in a bull market, the payout could be astronomical. Unfortunately, the reverse is not true. If next year that very same portfolio loses value (most of the time back to square one, or even worse, a negative figure), the payout given in the earlier years would not be returned.

Gordon Gecko: Not an Investment Banker, but runs Wall Street...damn cool!

Some might argue that this is the same for every profession and you can only get compensated for your current performance. But actually, it’s not. If I get a bonus for sales, I have already done the sale, and I have already completed by KPI. If I manage to settle a case, I would get a portion of a done deal. There’s no more follow-up per se. But with investment, it takes years and years, so why should IB folks get compensated for an increase in value for one year when that value is not sustainable in the long run?

The yachts, the houses, the trophy wives, the fancy cars…will still remain with these guys. True, they run the risk of getting fired. But the effect of their actions affects a whole lot more people who have entrusted their hard earned savings on to this people who then proceeded to speculate and manipulate the market until one find day, and unfortunately it’s today, the fundamentals would catch up with them.

Anyway, this note is just an expression of my frustration with what’s going on with the world economy nowadays….so it’s a bit disjointed and ….well, I’m tired too with this heavy but exciting new job scope.

Hope that this does not discourage anyone from taking Finance. I might need a CFO one day for my company.

25 Years & Counting

20

Written on 9/22/2008 10:39:00 am by sikapitan


Ripley's Believe it Or Not: That's Najmie Noordin

First of all, thanks for the wishes. I guess with everyone on Facebook, it’s easier to remember (or be reminded) of birthdays. Special thanks to the wonderful souls who managed to squeeze in a few minutes to wish me on the stroke of midnight and those who called. I wouldn’t do the same…and that’s sad… (but I will try).

I was told that no one really famous was born on 21st September. I checked, and unfortunately, they’re right. Brad Pitt, Hitler, Mandela, Clinton and the rest of the world’s most famous people…nope, not on the 21st. Of course there’s a list of famous people born on the 21st, but none are…legendary. I guess that will have to change sooner or later right?

Only one notable person that I don't mind being associated with
sharing a birthday: Liam Gallagher..


On that note, I stumbled upon a Wikipedia entry on Virgo, the astrology sign. I had a laugh reading through the characteristics listed as associated with us Virgos:
  1. Analytical / critical / insightful
  2. Precise / meticulous / anal-retentive
  3. Orderly / methodical
  4. Practical / pragmatic
  5. Mental / intelligent / inquiring
  6. Responsible / reliable
  7. Perfectionist
  8. Shrewd / witty / clever
  9. Conservative / conventional
  10. Refined / polite / well mannered
  11. Hygienic / clean
  12. Reserved / cool / undemonstrative
This is what pisses me a bit about astrology. I mean, you lump together these general traits, and any sane person is bound to tick a majority of it. Anyway, I’m confused about my own traits so I shall leave this to those who know me best.

25 Years Review

I had fun at High School, and did well enough in my studies. I had MORE fun at University, and came away with a law degree. I am now working hard, learning far too many things in too short of a time, but I kind of like that. I have friends, and they still take the time to watch football with me. I am independent (partially). I am married. I am a father-to-be. I am still 25 years old. Damn.

Manchester United

I almost had the perfect birthday gift yesterday, but Manchester United continued to frustrate the hell out of me with their insistence on defending deep on a lead and playing direct football. United controlled the game in the 1st 25 minutes because they were willing to pass the ball, willing to attach, forming intricate triangles to bamboozle Chelsea’s expensively assembled midfield.

Then, through their own sheer stupidity or Ferguson’s, they decided to drop deep and defend with two backs of four. At least Van Der Sar was removed before he could do further damage, and I guess that’s what saved us from defeat.

Van Der Sar: Only good for Penalties?

Interesting observation: Kalou scored for Chelsea from a stupid freekick given by an incompetent referee. Notice how all the defenders pushed up, with Rio leading the line? That’s why they were insistent that Kalou was offside. He wasn’t. Because Dimitar “Dracula” Berbatov didn’t follow the line. He was slow last night, a bit like a lumbering giant, who couldn’t fathom why United were asking him to win headers.

Fergie, get your act right (And get Carrick fit…asap).

...

A 24-hour convenience store that almost isn't...

16

Written on 9/15/2008 12:40:00 pm by sikapitan

Once they were deemed forever doomed with the emergence of all the Hypermarkets. Now they’re ubiquitous with presence in almost all major townships. In fact, here at USJ, we have 1 for every housing area.

So imagine how pissed I was when I went to one last Sunday morning after futsal and found that the outlet was closed. No, it wasn’t “officially” closed. Just that the store assistants decided to “temporarily” close it (from 2 a.m – 6 a.m…).


The sign was written on a piece of A4, looks cheap and we could all see the two store assistants inside doing I don’t know what with a bunch of products on the floor at the back of the store.

I thought, okay, maybe there’s something wrong with the machine and all. But imagine my surprise that as soon me and my friend turned our back, a few more cars stopped in front of the store. I remarked, “Looks like we’re bringing in the business…”.

Imagine my bigger surprise when I saw the store assistant sheepishly calling us back after noticing that there’s going to be a sort of mini riot (hell, there’s more than 5 people out there at 3 a.m pissed about a closed 7-11).

Was there something wrong with the teller machine? Nope. Anything wrong with the air-conditioning? Nope. Were they out of stock of everything? Nope. So the only reason the two clowns almost turn away potential customers was…nothing. There was no reason other than sheer laziness.

I’m pretty sure the management would be pretty pissed if they found out about this.

The whole concept of 7-11 is that it is a 24 HOURS convenience store. Get that into the thick skull of these lowly motivated store assistants.


Here’s a business idea: Introduce an incentive scheme that is directly related to sales. For every RM 50 of sales, the person who serviced the customer would get RM 1. If you think that a normal Hotlink top-up would cost RM 30, then you’ll see that these guys could be earning a lot, IF they have the right incentive in place to promote sales.

Imagine the store assistant initiating cross-selling and up-selling. Imagine buying a bottle of Coke and the guy saying, “Hey, would you like to try cracker X, because it taste great with Coke…”. Or something like that.

In the future, advertising is no longer sufficient. You need people marketing.

Lessons from around the world

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Written on 9/10/2008 02:32:00 pm by sikapitan

In Thailand, embattled Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej was forced out from office by the country’s Constitutional Court. If you think the Courts found him guilty of graft, corruption, abuse of power, blowing up girls with bombs or inciting religious hatred, think again.


The Constitutional Court actually found him guilty of violating the Constitution by appearing in a cooking show and accepting payment for it! A freaking cooking show!


What's Cooking?


If that’s not funny, ponder this: As a replacement to the dismissed Samak, guess who would the ruling P.P.P government nominate to fill in the vacancy? Why, it’s Samak Sundaravej! Sounds crazy, but it’s possible in Thailand.



Now over to the land of “serious” democracy, the United States of America, the race to the White House continues to be a tight one but only in America, where it really matters.


Apparently, a majority of the world’s population wants Barack Obama to be the next President of the United States. Polls conducted by GlobeScan puts him at 47% average approval rating over McCain’s measly 12%. That means for every one McCain supporter, we have FOUR Obama supporters (including moi).


But do the Americans feel the same? In the U.S, both candidates are neck-to-neck, despite the Republican’s disastrous two terms under President Bush and despite McCain’s old age, antiquated world view, and general lack of charisma, the Republican campaign is still buzzing along merrily.


It’s a mystery to most of us outside of the U.S why such an obvious choice be so “not obvious” to the average Americans.


Well, just like we accuse them of viewing things locally and in isolation, we also tend to view the US for what they do internationally and in relation to other nations. We failed to appreciate that, despite their global presence; America is just like any other nation in the world with its own unique domestic subtext.


We dismiss the existence of a rising Christian community in the U.S. We ignore the number of registered gun owners. We forget the deep insecurities jobless Americans face through globalization. We laugh at the hillbillies and rednecks, but they’re still voters.


Our view of America is shaped by Desperate Housewives (Bree must be a Republican), Gossip Girl and other shows that perpetuates some myth about America being the land of the promiscuous, the prosperous and the glamorous. The reality is there could be just as many Joe Dirts as there could be Seth Cohens , if you get what I mean.


So don’t be surprised that McCain is still in it. After all, they can’t understand our fascination with sodomy either.

Is Avril Too Sexy?

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Written on 8/20/2008 10:25:00 am by sikapitan

Well, it was pretty late, and Jimmy Kimmel sucks, so I switched to 712. That's E! Entertainment Channel for you folks without Astro. So in the Daily 10, a sort of Buletin Utama for entertainment news, Malaysia gets a mention!!!

But imagine the embarrassment when I found out that the news was about Avril Lavigne’s concert here in Kuala Lumpur, scheduled for the 29th this month. Again, we are in the news for all the wrong reasons, and are made to look a bit foolish in the international media.

It all came about when PAS protested against the concert, apparently because Avril’s too sexy (are you freaking serious? They’re Malay girls wearing less clothes walking around Sunway Pyramid!). When the news was featured yesterday, no decision has been made yet, and I was quietly optimistic that this would just blow over.

Imagine my surprise when I visited the Malaysian Insider and came across this news:

No to "too sexy" Avril Lavigne

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 19 — Malaysia today cancelled a concert by Canadian rock singer Avril Lavigne, saying it may taint the Muslim-majority country's Independence day celebrations after the Islamic opposition slammed her show as being "too sexy."

The Arts, Culture and Heritage Ministry said it had decided not to permit Lavigne's show because it was unsuitable to Malaysian culture and could not be held on Aug. 29, two days ahead of Merdeka.

"It is not timely. It's not in the good spirit of our National Day. If we go ahead with the concert, it is contrary to what we are preparing for," said Shukran Ibrahim, a senior official from the culture ministry's department that vets all foreign artistes.

The decision came after the youth wing of a fundamentalist opposition party, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (Pas), called for the show's cancellation.

Kamarulzaman Mohamed, a party youth official, said yesterday that Lavigne's show was "considered too sexy for us" and would promote the wrong values just before Merdeka.

"We don't want our people, our teenagers, influenced by their performance. We want clean artistes, artistes that are good role models," he said.

Lavigne, who became famous with her 2002 debut album "Let's Go," had planned to launch her monthlong Asia tour in Kuala Lumpur.

The show's promoter, Galaxy Group, can request a new date for the concert, which will be considered by the ministry, Shukran said. Galaxy officials couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

Galaxy began advertising the Grammy-nominated rock singer's concert this month even though it had yet to obtain a government permit, which is mandatory for all foreign music shows. It said yesterday about half the concert tickets had been sold.

Last year, R&B singer Beyonce moved her show from Malaysia to Indonesia, and Christina Aguilera skipped the country on an Asian tour after a controversy erupted over a dress code for foreign artistes.

Malaysia requires all performers to wear clothes without obscene or drug-related images and be covered from the chest to the knees. They must also refrain from jumping, shouting, hugging and kissing on stage.

Still, members of Pas and other conservative Muslims often protest against Western and even Malaysian music shows that they deem to be inappropriate.

The local organiser of a Pussycat Dolls concert in 2006 was fined RM10,000 after the US girl group was accused of flouting decency regulations. — AP

Go figure!

Under - 15 on Steroids?

0

Written on 8/15/2008 12:42:00 am by sikapitan

This news caught my eye today:

Phnom Penh - The Football Federation of Cambodia is up in arms over widespread reports of hairy-legged, mustachioed players taking the field in the first nationwide under-15 championships, the federation’s secretary general said Tuesday.

Cambodia has been named one of the most corrupt countries in Asia by the Berlin-based watchdog group Transparency International, but the country’s football federation has said it is determined to buck that reputation and prove itself clean so it can earn funding and international respect.

Frustrated secretary general Ouk Sethycheat said in light of these efforts by the federation, the latest example of bending the rules was beyond the pale.

The cheating involves ’several’ of the 24 teams involved in the championships, he said while accusing them of abandoning all attempts at subtlety.

‘We decide who is under 15 using two criteria - documentation and by looking at them,’ he said. ‘If Cambodian players are under 15, under no circumstances do they have hairy legs and moustaches.’

He said that after questioning the more hirsute players, it was found their documentation was forged.

The fiasco is particularly embarrassing for the federation after it was fined 4,000 dollars by the Asian Football Federation in February for fielding an overaged player in a regional Under-16 Youth Championship qualifying match. Cambodia’s football governing body has pleaded ignorance.

It was not clear what punishments the cheating teams would face.

Cambodia’s national team is currently ranked 169th in the world

This is just too funny. And suddenly, thoughts of over-competitive schools here in KL importing foreign players (because the locals are rubbish?) and passing them off as under-15s left me in stitches.

Of course, it doesn't mean one cheat will win the game. The other team might just do the honorable thing, and pay off their opponents. Mustache or not, money shaves points off better.

Yes, I'm 13.
...

Here I Go Again...

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Written on 8/10/2008 08:24:00 pm by sikapitan

It has been a while, and a lot has happened since. I’m sure most of you are aware of the political situation here in Malaysia, and there’s no need for me to comment further. In fact, I sense an increase in the number of socio-political blogs from Malaysia since GE 12, a sign of maturity or another one of those short-term “hangat taik ayam” situation.

Well, shouldn’t say much about “that” because I have failed to update THIS blog (hint: there’s another blog lurking around, but it’s not something I should share). I don’t know if you guys know this, or if I have mentioned this before, but here’s just a quick recap of my life:

  • Life as a married man has not been as challenging as some made it out to be. I guess it’s about finding the balance in life.
  • Work has been challenging and interesting thus far. Maxis, through MGTP, have provided me with a great platform to learn a lot about the corporate world...and NO, I am not doing anything remotely related to legal work (which is a waste apparently to some people).
  • It’s getting harder to meet friends and do things I used to do. But it just makes hanging out with them even more precious. Sometimes, I do get pissed off when we talk nonsense, but then I realized that’s what makes hanging out so much fun!
  • I’ve been on a real tight budget nowadays – and I love it! I carpool with my wife most of the time, take public transport daily, and no longer have lunch at KLCC, ever since the fuel price hike. Somehow, it has made me a bit more responsible.
  • I still am learning, every day. In fact, I think I may have overloaded my brain with information, until books I read become just another piece of dead tree, which is sad.

So, now that I’ve started writing HERE again (another hint), I guess readers would like to know the direction I’ll be taking. Well, looking back at my past posts (spanning 4 wonderful years, right?), I noticed no discernible common thread, except a genuine desire to be as creative and interesting as possible. I guess that’s what you could expect – the expected and unexpected all rolled into one.

Remember, I am a walking, breathing, living contradiction. Go figure!

All about Nothing

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Written on 5/26/2008 11:54:00 pm by sikapitan

Really, must it make the prime time news show on one of Malaysia’s most watched TV Channel? I am referring to TV3’s sensationalism of an issue that should be buried – the “sexy” school girls’ uniform.


Or should it be buried? Forget about TV3. RTM has overtaken them in terms of credibility anyway. Let’s look at the issue, or non-issue, whichever way you want to look at it.

My interpretation of their statement: Girls’ uniform are too thin and white resulting in their inner wear and skin easily seen by young boys who are swayed to suddenly commit social ills including those of the sexual kind (is there any other when it involves skin and inner wear?). Girls are also responsible because they use this to their advantage by teasing guys, leading to even more social ills.

I disagree with putting the blame on uniforms for the rise of social ills and sexual experimentation amongst the young. The actual causes require a deeper discussion which I have neither time nor inclination to delve into now. Clothes do not make a man (or woman in this case).

But fundamentally, let’s look at the typical girls’ uniform. It’s white, and it’s thin. Does it allow for the inner wear and skin to be easily seen? I hate to admit it, but it does, doesn’t it? I certainly remember those girls at my school...well, I should stop there.

Let’s just say I think we could all agree the white material is pretty see-through comparatively to other materials and colors. Does this arouse interest amongst the boys? You could argue that pornography has taken away a lot of our sexual innocence, but nothing’s quite the same as the real thing.

So a few things about their statement actually makes sense (damn it), though I’d be hard-pressed to find one to admit to this, especially in blogosphere.

So, as much as I wish I could totally dismiss their claim, it does warrant a discussion. A small one, perhaps. It’s a fact that the uniform is white and thin. It’s a fact that comparative to other colours, white allows more light to pass through and therefore is more see-through (if all other things are equal).

It’s a disputable fact that boys are interested in seeing what is behind a female’s uniform (I believe they are). It’s a disputable fact that some girls do tease boys by wearing sexy inner wear underneath their school uniforms (I can personally attest to this phenomenon).

The only portion of the statement that we can say is rubbish is their direct correlation between see-through uniforms and social ills and rise in sexual experimentation amongst the youth. Even this could not be dismissed quite so easily if you use logic.

The association may not have framed it in this way, and perhaps they didn’t think about it this way. Perhaps they just wanted to speak out for the sake of speaking out (like most members of society today...so yesterday man). But the validity of their claim shouldn’t be dismissed. If there’s an alternative, shouldn’t we explore it?

Oh, is it sexy? That’s totally subjective isn’t it? But could you say it’s 100% NOT sexy? Go figure.

p/s: But isn’t the guys uniform also white, thin and see-through? Damn. I guess I was sexyback before Justin made it cool...hehehe

A Big Mess

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Written on 5/24/2008 12:59:00 am by sikapitan

As expected, the consequences of Mahathir’s resignation dominated the headlines this week.

Mukhriz is caught between a rock and a hard place. He may believe in reforming from within, but there’s always this lingering doubt – would he have stayed if he wasn’t in a strong position to be Ketua Pemuda? But to his defence, it could be said if he did win the post, then he has a stronger mandate to lead for a change.

But what changes are we talking about here?

There are two issues that need to be addressed in UMNO. None has a stronger claim than the other.

There is the need to regain the trust of UMNO members. The grassroots within UMNO has a lot to say about Pak Lah’s leadership style. The lack of conviction and direction in implementing policies remains a problem. But more importantly, there’s this perception that Pak Lah is constantly reacting rather than initiating, defending rather than attacking.

This would be addressed by the proposed change in leadership.

But there is this other, equally important, issue of regaining the trust of Malaysians. No matter who leads UMNO, that person must realize that the game has changed. Some say the issue can never go away as long as UMNO remains a Malay party.

I disagree. Although that plays an important part in swinging the non-Malay votes, the arrogance of UMNO in its actions must rank as the actual catalyst. The sharp rise in debates on N.E.P and Malay rights came as a consequence of UMNO’s own delusional view that it could appeal to both the hardcore Malays and also the non-Malays. UMNO has always and must remain moderate in its views.

Furthermore, the rejection of a portion of the Malays can be directly attributed to the WAY UMNO has actually carried the torch for the Malays. It’s one thing to say you’re acting on behalf of Malays; it’s another to actually carry that out as equitable as possible. Not all Malays get it as easy as some non-Malays think they do. The rise of the UMNOPuteras should be addressed immediately.

Are these two issues exclusive? Could UMNO actually appeal to both its grassroots and Malaysians?

One goal can co-exist with another. The actual process of leadership change should be viewed as the perfect opportunity for UMNO to refresh itself, infuse itself with new blood. The choice of the next leaders of UMNO must not be viewed by the members simply as another change for UMNO, but also a change for all Malaysians. Strong, competent, compassionate, intelligent and morally righteous leaders of UMNO benefits all Malaysians regardless of race.

The upcoming branch meetings, culminating in the party elections at the end of the year, are interesting for UMNO. If the grassroots could lay the seed of change from even the branch level, all the way to the top, then there is that hope that most of the problems that exist within UMNO now would eventually be weed out.

At the end of the day, the people must always believe that anything is possible. It is difficult, of course, to think of UMNO as anything but a corrupt, racist party. And nothing UMNO has done thus far can change this mindset. The image of UMNO is tainted. But what is UMNO if not a collection of individuals?

Unlike the entrenched theory of relativity, UMNO (the image, the association) can change if there is a collective effort to see changes in the people within UMNO itself. The only problem is – do the members realize that this is the time for them to choose how they want UMNO to be? The choice is not only at the top, but at the roots of the tall, strong, tree known as UMNO.

Further reference:

Mukhriz the MP of the week for Malaysiakini
Barisan’s alleged (huh) mismanagement of RM27 million in Selangor
Mahathir accused of disloyalty by fellow “disloyal” troupe – ironic isn't it? - Mahathir
Even the Opposition believes it's a possibility

Bagai Lagu dan Irama...

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Written on 5/19/2008 06:14:00 pm by sikapitan

Tun Dr. Mahathir has resigned from UMNO. This is the man, a larger than life character, whom I’ve grown up with as the leader of my beloved nation. The man who best defined Malaysia Inc. Malaysia’s meteoric rise in the mid 80’s and especially into the 90’s was, to many, directly attributed to this great man.

Without a doubt, he has his flaws. In his desire to mould his vision of what Malaysia should be, and can be, Tun M has taken Machiavellian-like moves to quash his opposition and stifle anything he deems (and that, in essence, is the problem) as against the nation’s interest.

Unfortunately, at this moment in time, a lot of Malaysians seem to remember only this side of Tun M, without realizing or refusing to realize how great his impact has been on Malaysians, Malays or otherwise.

Could his patriotism and nationalistic pride ever be questioned?

This is the man who refuses to kow-tow to foreign elements, who believes that though it is always good to learn from others, we must never be subservient to them.

Unlike some politicians today who are all too happy to believe that we Malaysians will always need other people from “developed” nations to progress. Unlike some who believes that “this principle” or “that system”, imported from other “developed” nations, is the best for Malaysia. Unlike those who argue that we are the same as other countries in the world, thus we must also be like them in the way we think and act. Unlike my fellow colleagues who despite their claim of “patriotism” would not hesitate for one bit to jump ship and leave Malaysia for another land.

Tun M believes that we can do things on our own. He believes that Malaysia is Malaysia, so why should we always believe that the concept and ideas of others are better suited than ours. He believes that we are unique in our diversity, culture and manner. He believes in Malaysia and Malaysians. Of what they are capable of, and what they should aspire to be.

Some may say he is a dreamer. But is it a dream because we didn’t believe? Is it a reflection of our own failure, Bumiputera policy or not, that his vision increasingly became a mere fantasy?
Mahathir truly believes in this nation and in our capability to achieve greatness.

And this will, despite my own misgivings on certain policies, guarantees my never-ending respect for the man who defined UMNO for me, who defined Malaysia for me, who defined what being a Malaysian is for me.

He will be back. It is now in our hands.

Malaysiakini
Malaysia Insider
A Kadir Jasin
Rocky Bru
Jeff Ooi - updated: Sanusi Junid has also resigned. Others to follow suit.
...


Football in life

Imagine Manchester United lost the title. To a team like Bolton. Despite having millions to spend, and having won the title comfortably for the past decade, Man United suddenly finds itself losing its grip on the domestic league.

The players are old. The tactics are quaint. While other teams are buying younger players, this new manager prefers buying those entering the twilight of their careers. While other teams can play total football, the new manager prefers putting in 10 Paul Inces’ in the squad. Squad rotation becomes a joke when players are brought in 5 minutes before kick-off.

Tactics, player selections, game plan, strategy, mission and vision are all aligned to the manager. If a manager is unable to adapt to the modern game, then one who is must be selected. Go figure.

...

Brief Thoughts on Politics

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Written on 5/16/2008 01:10:00 am by sikapitan

I’ve missed politics. Here are some events the past few weeks that has caught my attention:

Parliament is better than Akademi Fantasia
I love reading what’s going on in Parliament. Most importantly, I realize that Malaysians are now paying a great deal of attention to Parliament. This is likely because a lot of the Parliamentarians themselves were giving firsthand account on the lively debates through the Internet.

The entertainment provided will turn into something cool in the very near future. Watching the sessions would suddenly become the latest reality TV craze. But just like in any reality TV talent contests, the talented may not be the winner. We Malaysians might just be enamoured with another Mawi of politics. Let us not be fooled. The price is too high.

Shooting Oneself in the Foot
It’s a problem with UMNO, and it’s also a problem with Pakatan Rakyat. It’s not the party itself that is fundamentally flawed, but the people currently in the leadership position. Karpal Singh just made life a bit more difficult, NOT for DAP, but to PAS and PKR.

At the heart of the matter is the political ideology of DAP and its elderly statesmen. I just cannot ever see them understanding and accepting the position of the Malays in this country. And their overt comments touching on Malay issues are making it hard for even their own supporters to accept especially in the fragile state the PR alliance is at this moment.

They are as stubborn headed as some UMNO leaders. They could also be said to be as racist as some UMNO leaders are. Like one of my friends said, Malaysian politics will turn for the better as the older generation pass on the baton to younger, more dynamic, and hopefully more tolerant leaders.

RPK and Sedition
The Sedition Act is an oppressive legislation that infringes on some basic human rights. Supposedly such laws shouldn’t exist anymore, yet it does, not only in Malaysia but also in other countries all over the world, even those that went to war under the banner of “Freedom” and “Democracy”. Why? Maybe those shouting for “freedom” here in Malaysia should decipher this mystery. It could be a long debate.

When blogger-royalty Raja Petra was arrested for Sedition, we hear the typical cry of political persecution from the Opposition and “freedom of speech” by the Bar Council. We will leave the validity of their claims for another time, because surely it will be raised again.
I just want to say that I find RPK a bit too dramatic for a person who supposedly is willing to fight the fight. When he was arrested, he refused to fork out bail, stating that he’s willing to be in jail until trial. And then, we hear that he’s on “hunger strike”. Then we hear that he’s posting bail because life in prison would be “dangerous” for him.

A bit too in love with the concept of his importance really. How many people actually turned up to support him? Was there a wave of protest against his arrest? In fact, the only loud voices I hear are those racist (Malays are not the only racists here in Malaysia. Don’t believe? Just read the comments in RPK’s blog) fans of RPK. Is he that important to kill? I think not.

Oh, he claims he “knows” things. Okay. Let’s accept this claim. Isn’t it in the interest of the general public if the truth is disclosed as soon as possible? Why all the “sandiwara” in the blog? Why politicize, if he is indeed the Rakyat’s champion, the truth? Could it be because at the end of the day, armchair activists can only take so much heat before being burned? Could it be that self-sacrifice is no longer a pre-requisite to become “hero Rakyat”?

The most amusing aspect of this is the reason for the “hunger strike”. He doesn’t want to eat “duit rakyat”. Hmmm...isn’t the road financed by the rakyat? What about the subsidised food he’s eating at home? That’s duit rakyat too, right?

I know what the reply will be. But let’s not pre-empt that shall we. I still enjoy reading his articles. It’s damn entertaining and highly recommended, but take it with a pinch of salt. Or not, if you don’t want to eat “duit rakyat”.

Chaos and Anarchy
It is one thing to demonstrate peacefully. It is another to act like hoodlums. The residents of Bandar Mahkota Cheras may have a valid claim, but they (well, some of them) have alienated some sympathizers (including myself) and degraded their efforts by acting like gangsters in the Grand Saga...saga (pardon the pun).

The legal aspect of the road closure is still unresolved, so shouldn’t a lawyer like the MP from DAP (who is lauded as a hero...sigh...how the silly rise quickly) representing the “people” be responsible enough to prevent the violent skirmishes with the police? When will it end?
It’s good that we see the rise of social activism, and yet this violent clash only seek to reinforce my belief that sometimes people fight just for the sake of fighting, especially if it push forward their own personal agenda. The Opposition must not instigate anarchy, and insidious behaviour, just because they have the momentum. With great power comes great responsibility. Go figure.
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Astro, You're Not A Free Service Provider

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Written on 5/14/2008 11:57:00 pm by sikapitan

Millions of Malaysians spend their hard earned ringgit on the only option they have when it comes to satellite TV - ASTRO. As such, is it too much for us to expect that they treasure our very existence, considering that their major cash flow comes from the domestic market?

Let’s forget about the abysmal coverage when there’s rain or the exorbitant amount we have to fork out for channels we don’t want but is part of some capitalist-driven package. Let us talk about the core element of a “service provider” – customer service.

I never really had to deal with ASTRO previously, so I couldn’t understand when others were moaning about their customer service. After the past few weeks, I not only understand, but couldn’t accept how we Malaysians could tolerate this obvious lack of care on the part of ASTRO for its customers.

At the very least, we expect our calls to be picked up. Unfortunately, that is seldom the case. I have just put down the phone, without speaking to a consultant, for the second time tonight. Both my calls to their “direct” line resulted in me waiting for the almost impossible-to-reach consultant.

In fact, after having to deal with ASTRO the past one month, I noticed that my waiting time is never less than 5 minutes and often surpasses the 10 minute mark (if you managed to get into queue, which is almost impossible if you try the hotline”). To me, this smacks of arrogance. ASTRO’s unwillingness to spend money, and of course time, improving their system or training their consultants or even hiring more consultants is certainly business-wise BUT it merely says “our time, and our money, is MORE important than our customer’s time AND their money”.

Make no mistake; the problem doesn’t end once you reach a consultant. The lack of training is evident, and I can forgive that. But the lack of respect for one’s intelligence is hard to swallow. If I were to say to a consultant, “The decoder can’t be switched on, there’s no power running through the decoder, I have tried different power sockets and it still won’t light up, the decoder is spoilt”, I certainly wouldn’t expect the consultant to ask me to insert a smart card and try to switch it on. But that actually happened! I might not work for ASTRO, but I can certainly tell when the decoder can’t even be switched on.

That is just the tip of the iceberg. One consultant can check the account using an old IC number, another one says that that is not possible. One consultant said that in half an hour’s time I would get back my channels, but it’s been one day now and there’s no difference. Hence, my persistent calls to the call centre.

Unfortunately, it went unanswered. And where do Malaysians turn to when this happens? Do we have any choice but to wait for the perfect moment (when the stars are aligned and there is a full moon, maybe) when everything falls into place? No, we don’t.

I will still watch ASTRO. I will pay every month. But ASTRO must realize that as soon as an alternative appear, it cannot count on its customers’ loyalty because quite simply, there is none. We are here because you’re the only one, not because you’re the best.

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Of being busy and in demand

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Written on 5/06/2008 08:27:00 pm by sikapitan

The past one month has been nothing short of hectic. Work has taken on a more real dimension, with me participating in two Six Sigma projects within Customer Service of Maxis. As part of the Process Improvement team, I basically act like an internal consultant for Customer Service.

I guess that’s enough about work. More importantly, the past one month has been an eye-opener in terms of real politics for me. Although I haven’t really gone into the nitty gritty of grassroot politics, I have been fortunate enough to participate in some events that has played an important part in developing my views at this moment.

However, I apologize for not sharing to you folks considering the abundance of materials recently. Partly this is due to the sudden increase in political activism in the blogging world, with everyone suddenly joining the bandwagon. You know something’s weird when even Mat Taib started blogging.

This growth was probably led by the strides made by Malaysian bloggers. We are the first nation in the WORLD to have a blogger as an elected representative in the national legislative assembly. And another blogger even got himself in the CLEO’s Most Eligible Bachelor finalist list (despite the rather obvious … well… he has a cool AND popular blog though, which is more than you can say about this humble collection of ramblings).

So bloggers are pretty hot stuffs, so hot that one of them had to take some time to cool off in prison. Raja Petra or RPK as he is more famously known, has been one of Malaysia’s most prominent “opposition” blogger with his straight forward, no holds barred style of writing. But his recent ranting on the Altantuya murder trial has landed him in hot soup with the authorities charging him for sedition.

Never shy from a battle, RPK has refused to post bail (of course he pleaded not guilty). Instead, the RM5000 needed was raised via RM1 contribution from his readers, though I doubt they would just contribute RM1. In just one day, they managed to collect RM25,000.00, showing that Malaysians will support just about anyone willing to stand up against the present government or more importantly, against members of UMNO.

UMNO must look at this as another example of how the people have openly rejected them. Instead, from my experience in the past one month, we (and I do mean us, as I am an UMNO member…*what the hell?*) are living in denial. We are busy with our own problems without realizing that we are fighting over a cause that will or will not exist if doesn’t take remedial actions immediately.

This is evident from the discussion some of my friends organized with Datuk Zaki Zahid and some of the 4th Floor Boys, my meeting (1st) with my division’s Wanita UMNO chief and the recent Sekretariat Melayu Muda’s forum featuring Mukhriz and Akramsyah. The Malays are lost and confused. And when a group is lost and confused, it tends to develop a siege mentality. Everyone is against us, what did we do wrong kind of self-inflicted conundrum.

So the natural reaction is to capitalize on these emotions amongst the UMNO members to further one’s own political ambition. No doubt some of the points the Malays have raised are valid in my point of view. For example, when Kelantan Prince made his remarks about “Ketuanan Melayu”, the press had a field day reporting it which sensationalizes what was otherwise a pretty straightforward, even humbling speech, about the Malay dilemma.

His respect for the Chinese, his advice for the Malays, was all left out. Instead, the Malays were once again played out as racists. Not dissimilar to the sensitivity of the black community in the United States, the Malays have to thread carefully when the rest can just lambaste their actions without being called racists. Never mind. We shall leave this at that for the moment.

More importantly, this inward approach by UMNO is based on the assumption that it has lost the Malay support. Unfortunately, I have to disagree. A strong, moderate UMNO has always been the basis for Barisan Nasional’s successes. In 1999, the Chinese and Indian community came out in droves to support Barisan and UMNO because it was seen as the moderate voice that could keep PAS and Malay fundamentalist at bay.

Its actions leading up to 2008 led the rest to believe that UMNO has progressively turned ultra-Malay, especially the overt statements and actions by its leaders. This was perhaps prompted by their desire to capture even more Malay votes from PKR and PAS. What they didn’t realize was perhaps these votes were never there to be won anyway. The Malays are definitely split between UMNO, PAS and now PKR.

Actually, UMNO did rather well in the seats it contested despite the obvious dislike by the general public against the government in the past election. The Malays are not turned off by the rhetoric. Instead, the Chinese and Indians were alarmed by the way UMNO is acting, and this is shown by the absolutely dismal showing by MCA and MIC. We have lost the confidence of our non-Malay friends by our actions.

The previous administration has shown that UMNO can further its cause while at the same time manages to hold on to the support of the non-Malays. These two are not mutually exclusive, and one can go hand-in-hand with the other. It’s just a matter of who’s managing the situation. Go figure.

*Sorry for any factual mistakes...arrghhh...screw it.