Monday, 30 June 2008

Identity theft

A phish email, supposedly from PayPal, landed in my Bulk folder today. I didn't have to take a second look at it before forwarding it immediately to Here is how it looked like:

A typical identity theft or phishing technique but it didn't fool me. Here's how a phish usual works. The fraudster sends out an officially looking email that makes the potential victim feel concerned enough to want to reply to it. And when you do, you're also asked to disclose some personal details like your password or financial information. That should make you wary enough because once you give these details away, your credit will be wiped clean.

In this case, the fraudster had even given these three easy steps to follow:
  • Login to your account by clicking on the link below
  • Provide requested information to ensure you are the owner of the account
  • Find this transaction in HISTORY and click 'Cancel Transaction'
The other giveaway sign was the CANCEL TRANSACTION button which linked not to PayPal but to a suspicious-looking web address in Romania. You can uncover this easily by moving your mouse over the link (but you don't have to click on it). If you were to click on it, it'll take you to a website that looks like the real organisation's. But it's not. That's the bogus website that has been designed to steal your identity. So be warned if you receive an email similar to mine.

Simple life

Can life be as simple as this? Whilst at the Buddhist Hermitage Lunas recently, I came across this man casting a net in the river that runs beside the hermitage. No concern of his whether the muddy water could be polluted.

Many casts later, he emerged from the right with a satisfied look on his face. In his basket were three or four big fish. I supposed that's lunch and dinner for him and his family for the next few days.

Sunday, 29 June 2008


I saw this in Sun2Surf tonight:

It just needs a bit of common sense to know that this is the wrong, wrong, wrong attitude.

What, lah!

Is life so simple?

It's been a nagging question that's been on my mind for several days. I can't get it out of my head. And the question is this:

In the context of today's society, if someone makes a very serious public accusation against you about an alleged offence and later you deny the allegation, should the denial be accepted as a gospel truth without further questions and should it automatically absolve you of the alleged guilt?

I've been unable to get a satisfactory answer to this. Can anyone help me? Please??

Euro 2008

Come tomorrow morning, we'll know for sure who will be the next Euro 2008 champions.

This will be my only comment. Let's see whether it comes true or not. I take Spain to beat Germany 2-1, and it won't go into extra time.

UPDATE: Spain did beat Germany, but it was only by 1-0.

Why Public Bank is tops

Last week, I went to Public Bank Berhad - the one in Aston Road, Bukit Mertajam, which had one of its cheque deposit machines unceremoniously yanked from the premises some time ago by a robber or a group of robbers who had mistaken it for a cash-dispensing ATM (Stupid robber(s). Don't even know the difference between different types of automated machines. Don't you know how to read??) - to help my aunt close her savings account.

She had opened it only last February in order to bank in a foreign cheque. At the counter, the teller told us that the Bank would be charging RM10 to close the account.

I was indignant and asked for the basis for the charge. I was prepared to go into my "101 reasons why the bank should not charge us" mode when the teller simply told us to wait and he went to consult with his branch officer. Shortly, he came back to say that there would be no charge. What a pleasant surprise!

Not many banks here would be willing to forego a fee-based income but Public Bank did. No wonder the service at Public Bank continues to be top with such a positive attitude towards their customers.

P.S. I mentioned 101 reasons but I'm going to give you only my top three. You want want to try them on some other banks if you like:
1) The bank had already earned commission from the customer when they sent the foreign cheque for collection;
2) The bank had already earned interest on the customer's savings amount;
3) The bank would be callous to charge RM10 from a senior citizen who doesn't have any other source of income.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

FeedJit live feed

FeedJit is one of those services that track blogsite statistics. If you put their codes into your blog, you can get a pretty good idea where visitors are coming from and leaving to. Lately, I've noticed that the people at FeedJit have introduced a real-time feed so that you and I can actually look at the visitors.

It's quite a fascinating idea to see people coming and going, especially if the blog is an active one. Mine isn't active at and it can be a bore to keep looking at the page which doesn't change at all. But it's still quite interesting to take a look.

For instance, here is a snapshot of recent traffic on this blog:

An unlikely union: hip-hop, chess and martial arts

Opening, Destruction Of A Guard, Exploitation Of Mistakes, General Principles, Advance Pawns, Queen's Gambit, Unstoppable Threats, Unprotected Pieces, Illusory Protection, Smothered Mate.

You may think that all these are titles from a chess primer but no... would you believe that these are the tracks on a CD by some of the most recognisable hip-hop names in the world? It's from the 2005 album, Grandmasters, pitting DJ Muggs against GZA. Actually, the album is a collaborative work between the two.

I'll be very surprised to find the CD selling here in Malaysia because every one of the tracks is labelled as Explicit. Yes, parental guidance required because of the explicit lyrics in the whole album.

But in Queen's Gambit, a powerful song written by the Wu-Tang Clan's power-house lyricist GZA, this is about all that is fit to print if I want to keep this post clean:
I be liking chess
Cuz chess is crazy, right there, that’s the ultimate
It’s like a great hobby right there, playing chess
The board, the pieces, the squares, the movement
You know, war, capturing, thinking, strategy
Planning, music, it’s hip-hop, and sports
It’s life, it’s reality
Here's something else. A photo of the Clan's RZA playing chess.

This is not a publicity picture. It actually happened. RZA together with GZA took part in a competition (Kings invitational tournament) organised by the .... get this .... the Hip-Hop Chess Federation in San Francisco on 13 Oct 2007. This organisation, founded by Adisa Banjoko and Leo Libiran, seeks to use “music, chess and martial arts to promote unity, strategy and non-violence.”

"We recognize that chess, martial arts and hip-hop unify people from multiple cultural, religious and social backgrounds. These black and white squares do not care what colour you are or if you are rich or poor. The only thing they ask is that you come with your strategy, your patience and your skills," Banjoko said on the website.

RZA won the tournament with a perfect record of 4-0. GZA was on 3-1, his only loss was against RZA. In the last round, RZA beat Monk (that's him in the photo above, sitting beside RZA) of another hip-hop group, Black Knights, who was winning but overlooked a back rank mate. RZA and GZA said they played in the tournament and became involved in the Hip-Hop Chess Federation because they believed chess could have a positive influence on young people. In typical hip-hop style, GZA rapped: “You are like a sponge when you are young. Kids are not being stimulated. Chess is a game of stimulation.” And winner RZA added, “Hip-hop is a battle game. Chess is a battle. Martial arts is a battle.”

One last quick photo: RZA with Josh Waitzkin. Don't know who is Waitzkin? Aiyah... surely you would know that Waitzkin is an international master who took up martial arts about 10 years ago? By 2004, he had won two world titles in tai chi chuan. He was the subject of a book, Searching For Bobby Fischer, written by his father Fred Waitzkin and which was later made into a movie starring Ben Kingsley and Laurence Fishburne.

UPDATE (29 Jun 2008): Oh, wow! I can't believe it! There's even a video on the tournament on YouTube:

Friday, 27 June 2008

Trams: fatal accidents do happen

Now that the Federal Government has shelved the Penang Monorail project, there is speculation that calls for a cheaper Penang tramcar system may gather more momentum. But are we ready for the re-introduction of trams on our streets? Just this week, I've been reading of people dying in Europe because they had been hit by tramcars.

In Vienna, a teacher died after being run over by a tram as he tried to cross a road while listening to his MP3 player. The man had failed to either see or hear warnings that the tram was approaching him. The news report said that the driver began to brake but still hit the pedestrian with such force that he suffered multiple injuries to his head, kidneys and ribs.

The teacher's death came less than a month after a Glasgow University student died while listening to her iPod. She had gone out jogging but failed to stop for traffic and fell under the wheels of a bus.

People moving around with earphones are often oblivious to things that go on around them. This problem will not go away soon. Moreover, we know how people will always want to beat the traffic, one way or another. If we intend to have tramcars on the roads of Penang island, it is necessary to educate people properly on the new dangers that trams will introduce.

But of course, at the end of the day, it all boils down to common sense when dealing with traffic. Especially in Asia.

Mini, baby, small, tiny. micro

I was walking past this Hypermarket in Seberang Jaya recently when I chanced upon this sign. I know potatoes are potatoes, and baby potatoes are baby potatoes. They're small. baby potatoes? How much tinier can mini baby potatoes be?

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Penang monorail and PORR projects shelved

Late last night, I was surfing to the Malaysiakini site when I saw news that the Penang island's outer ring road and the monorail system has been shelved. But then I'm a bit puzzled why this news should anger the people of Penang.

Okay ..... perhaps there will be people who will be disappointed, angry even but chances are, there are more people who will be relieved that the monorail system will not take off. Although I do not stay on the island any more, I do not want to see such monstrosities moving about on elevated tracks.

As for the outer ring road, I do have mixed feeling on this project, although certainly not anger. I suppose it will be nice to be able to travel from the Penang Bridge to Tanjung Bungah in double quick time but not at a cost of paying high petrol prices and the high tolls to use the road.

Revisiting World War One

Over the past year, I have been visiting occasionally the blog of Harry Lamin. Sorry, I don't know the man. I've never written to him too and I don't expect him to reply to my emails even if I write. You see, Harry Lamin is died. I don't know when he died but if he were still alive today, he would've been 120 years old.

So how is it that a man who would have been 120 years old today still be writing a blog, especially since he's dead?

Simple. His family unearthed a treasure of his letters and decided to publish them on the anniversary dates of them being written. His family also uncovered the letters from Harry's brother and sisters' families so more often than not, there is a complete trail of conversations through their letters.

Letters by themselves can be quite mundane but Harry Lamin's letters and that of his siblings were mundane at times. But what made them special was that they were all written during the days of the first world war. World War One. Private Harry Lamin was a conscripted soldier and he had been sent to the front line to fight the enemy. So through his letters, one gets to experience how difficult life was as a soldier. Harry Lamin had to balance his professional army career with his private life, and it wasn't easy.

When the letters were recovered, Harry Lamin's family thought it worth their while to reproduce them on the Internet as a blog. Though the letters were written a long time ago, they would be posted to the blog on their 90th anniversary dates. There'll be days or even weeks without entries simply because no one wrote any letter, and then there will be a flurry of activity.

I hope you'll enjoy Harry Lamin's World War One blog as much as I have.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Red tape?

I blog because I like to write. I've been bitten by the writer's bug since primary school when I took part in a writing competition. For an 10-year-old kid in that distant past, attempting a 10,000-word essay was a very daunting challenge. Of course, I never won anything. Not good enough. But I tried, nevertheless.

I know how hard it can be to search for stories. Sometimes, you hit a brick wall when you are unable to find something. Or prevented from finding something. So I know how the journalists from the mainstream press had felt on Tuesday when they were prevented from moving freely inside the lobby of Parliament House, the building that is supposed to represent freedom and democracy, to do their jobs.

These photos were borrowed from various blogs or news websites. It's red tape at its worst. It smacks of bureaucracy. It's short-sightedness on the part of the joker who ordered that this be done.

What, lah!

Wong Chun Wai's blog - New Malaysia

Symbolic. Cameras left on the floor of the House lobby. Sorry, no idea where this photo is from, but it could be the New Straits Times

Rainy spell

I'm just wondering whether this is why the weather over Penang in the past few days - I think since last Saturday - has been dreadful. The above weather satellite picture showed Tropical Storm Fengshen approaching the Hainan coastline yesterday morning. I believe the storm is so powerful that it's drawing moisture from the Indian Ocean and dropping it on Penang as the winds cross the peninsula.

Yesterday morning as I crossed the Penang Bridge, I was alarmed by the clouds. It's been a long while since the sky turned so dark.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Turning a blind eye?

How does the government define Poverty?

Amirsham A Aziz, minister in the Prime Minister's Department, says that it means a household income that is sufficient for only the basic necessities like food, clothes, rental, utilities, transport and communication, health, education and recreation. It does not include luxury items like sending children to private schools or tuition classes, receiving treatment from private clinics or having their meals outside.

What is the present poverty line in Malaysia? He was quoted in today's New Straits Times that it's about RM800, which translates to a poverty rate of 3.7 percent today, but Aliran had said that the government's initial definition was RM550.

But according to him too, raising the poverty level from RM800 to RM1,500 per household will also increase the poverty line from 3.7 percent to 24.3 percent.

So? What did he hope to prove by saying all that? That he'd rather not re-define the poverty level to RM1,500 per household for fear of increasing the number of households that are living in poverty? I hope he wasn't implying that the government preferred to turn a blind eye to people in poverty just to make a statistic look good.

What, lah!

Pedal power

I like it ... the symbolic gesture by four Pakatan Rakyat MPs to ride 3km on their bicycles to Parliament House yesterday. Symbolic protest against the fuel price hike. But I'm sure this protest will come to nought, such is the reality here. Still, it was a nice gesture.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Wish I was there....

Last night, out of the blue, I received a surprise call from one of my Singapore pals, Nai Kwang. Almost all my old cronies in Singapore (except for Derek) seemed to be having a whale of a good time at Brian's wedding dinner. He's Leong Teik's son. Congratulations to the happy couple who stood out as the odd ones from among all the "youngsters" in the photo.

I mustn't forget to congratulate Leong Teik and Anna too. Have to hold them responsible, you know. Without them, Brian wouldn't be having this wedding; without the wedding, there would be this dinner; without this dinner, there wouldn't be a phone call; without the phone call, there would be no photo; without this photo .... well, you know what I mean!

Look, there's a right "mess" at the table. Seated, left to right: Kim and Kok Chuan, Noni and Kah Kheng, Tow Keang. Standing, left to right: Evelyn and Nai Kwang, Leong Teik and Anna, the happy couple, Kheng Hock, May Yong (Tow Keang's missus), Teik Kooi and Cynthia.

I felt like the blindfolded victim of a gang rape. With Nai Kwang passing his phone around the table, I was left wondering who I was actually talking to at the other end of the line. Woh! But it was great talking to you fellas. Hope to see you guys soon!

What is a youth

This brings back a lot of fond memories....

ROMEO: If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a gentle kiss.

JULIET: Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss.

ROMEO: Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?

JULIET: Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.

ROMEO: O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do;
They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.

JULIET: Saints do not move, though grant for prayers' sake.

ROMEO: Then move not, while my prayer's effect I take.
Thus from my lips, by thine, my sin is purged.

JULIET: Then have my lips the sin that they have took.

ROMEO: Sin from thy lips? O trespass sweetly urged!
Give me my sin again.

There's prettiness in being ugly

This is officially this year's ugliest dog in the world! Voted in a contest held over the weekend.

As you can see, Gus has only one eye. The other was damaged in a fight with a tom-cat. More than that, its right ear is mangled, presumably due to some unfortunate dogfight too. But there's something else that you can't see in the photo. It's left hind leg is missing and this one was lost to a cancer tumour. It had to be amputated in order that Gus could live.

Poor Gus. But luckily, it has an owner that was very willing to care for it. Jeanenne Teed, from Florida, said she would spend the USD1,600 prize on Gus's skin cancer treatment.

The contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in California has been running for 20 years. It's a top attraction. For the past few years, winners had been dogs that had been abandoned or neglected before being adopted by dog-lovers. Gus itself was rescued from a bad home.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Orchid break

Let's take a break today with a picture of my blooming orchid. Two beautiful, almost flawless, white blooms that appeared months after I had first repotted the plant. And for the first time, I noticed a very faint , fleeting fragrance in the early morning.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Gurney Drive, Penang

If you have a camera with a telephoto zoom set at its longest, you can pull in photos such as this. I took this from Gurney Drive today as I looked towards the city. Impressive, huh? The high-rise buildings give the promenade such as a majestic view. Makes you proud that Penang has become so developed. It's a fine place to stay. Still a lot of greenery lining the coastal road.

However, if your camera's zoom lens is set at its widest, I suppose you'll be taking this shot instead. I'm so ashamed that Gurney Drive is no longer what it used to be. When I was small, the sand on the beach was so clean and fine that my family would come here to frolick in the waves, build sand castles and dig the sand to search for the siput babi. Now that I'm not-so-small any more, I'm so disgusted that development in Tanjung Tokong has altered the currents around Penang's shores and caused what's left of the beach at Gurney Drive to be one big, dirty area.

One more photo. This time, I'm looking the other way in the direction of Tanjung Tokong. So this is the Gurney Drive "beach". It won't disappear soon. Our legacy to our future generations.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Feeling hazy and lazy in Penang

Hazy days are here again, lazy days are also here again. Hazy and lazy - they go together! This was the view from the hotel last Wednesday but it was very much better yesterday after a spot of drizzle at lunchtime. The sun was out bright this morning, so I hope today will be even better than yesterday. So far, so good at 8.20am.

Anyway, I was at the office early today. Reached here particularly early at about 6.30am because there was no jam on the bridge. While catching up on my emails and editorial work, I was looking out at the bridge and watching the day break over Penang. Wonderful sight, isn't it? Such a big contrast from the above photo!

Millipede at BM Hill

A week ago on BM Hill, I came across this millipede in the wild. It must have been about eight inches long and as thick as my ring finger. Although knowing that this wasn't the first time that I've seen a monster so long and that it won't be so meek to curl itself up tightly when threatened, I picked it up with a stick. Yes, it still kept struggling but at least it afforded me some photographic moments before I let it go among the undergrowth.

To my surprise, when I finally let it down, it curled up for a while before it crawled away among the fallen leaves. Another photo opportunity. Scenes like these do not come by frequently.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Does the fuel subsidy still exist?

This is a snapshot of an article in my other blog, It's All In The Planning! Some growing concerns about the recent fuel hike.

If you want to read it, please click here.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Political tsunami, part two?

The news was out at about 3 o'clock today. The Star Online and the New Straits Times were carrying the story as were also The Malaysian Insider and Malaysiakini. Is there a Part Two to the political tsunami that's going to sweep this country we call home?

The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) had called a news conference to announce that they had lost confidence in the national leadership of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the party would table or support a "no confidence" vote in him when Parliament reconvened on Monday (23 June).

It will be the first time that a component party within the Barisan Nasional coalition has so openly expressed a loss of confidence in a government that it is part of but the grouses of the SAPP are real enough. The SAPP truly believe that Sabah has been sidelined and not enough attention is being shown to address their issues.

You will think that the response of the BN government would be to come out strongly and refute the arguments of the SAPP; to show that Sabah's problems were being looked into and that SAPP had been too premature in their actions. That would be how credible politicians would react: counter crises with solid rebuttals and answers to show their credibility and that they are still in command of the situation (or whatever's left of it).

But no, that's not what's happening here. Suddenly, our Number One court jester in the government opened his mouth and said that the "no confidence" motion would not happen any time soon because .... a notice for any motion had to be given in writing to the Speaker at least 14 days in advance and so far, "no such motion has been given as yet."

Oh yes, he took the easy way out: a technical stand. On a technical point, Parliament would need a 14-day notice or otherwise it will also need the Speaker to agree that it is a definite matter, of urgency and of public interest. He's technically correct, of course.

So it is very likely that the motion will fail on a technicality. Oh, what a pathetic response. Aiyoh, very susah, lah, like that. Still no real attempt to address the Sabahans' unhappiness one-by-one. Everything is denied because of a technicality. I can? Is the BN government so short of ideas? Isn't there anyone with the oratory skill? Reasoning skill? Persuasion skill? Can't anyone stand up and refute the SAPP? Isn't there any person who can think logically and talk logically? Is there anybody who is not paralysed from functioning?

Snail mail to the rescue!

You need an urgent delivery? Visit for the scoop on using real snails to deliver your emails! How long will it take the snails to deliver them? So far, Austin (Agent 002) takes an average of 1.96 days while Cecil (Agent 001) averages 3.26 days. Poor Muriel (Agent 003) is still struggling with her load.

The myth of changing engine oil

I'm due to change the engine oil in my car pretty soon but I've just read a Yahoo report that it may not be necessary for car owners to change their engine oil every 5,000 kilometres.

According to a recent study by the California Integrated Waste Management Board, 73 percent of California drivers change their oil more frequently than required. (...) Besides wasting money, this translates into unnecessary consumption of US$100-a-barrel oil, much of it imported.

Using 2005 data, the Board estimates that Californians alone generate about 153.5 million gallons of waste oil annually, of which only about 60 percent is recycled. Used motor oil poses the greatest environmental risk of all automotive fluids because it is insoluble, persistent and contains heavy metal and toxic chemicals. One gallon of used oil can foul the taste of one million gallons of water.

It’s been a misconception for years that engine oil should be changed every 5,000 kilometres, even though most auto manufacturers now recommend oil changes at 8,000, 12,000 or even 16,000-kilometre intervals under normal driving conditions.

Greatly improved oils, including synthetic oils, coupled with better engines mean longer spans between oil changes without harming an engine. The 5.000-kilometre interval is a carryover from days when engines used single-grade, non-detergent oils.
Note: In the above report, I have changed 3,000 miles to 5,000 kilometres. There are other miles-to-kilometres conversion elsewhere.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Petrol rebate

On my way to work yesterday morning, the traffic flow in Bukit Mertajam was unusually slow. The reason became apparent when I passed by the Post Office. Even before the Post Office had opened its doors, hordes of people were already queuing impatiently. [An update: Same scene this morning but ... surprise, surprise, people were actually queuing in an orderly line that wound its way around the compound!]

It's the Kiasu syndrome and who says that it afflicts only the Singaporeans? These are Malaysians, people, and they were trying to claim their petrol rebates. From all walks of life, from all levels of society, of all races and creeds. They were there early at the Post Office to claim their rebates as soon as possible. As if the rebate was the first thing on Earth to them. (Maybe, after all, it is.)

Monday, 16 June 2008

Signature performance

There's a talent show which is a search for Britain's next best talent act, featuring singers, dancers, comedians, variety acts and other talents of all ages. In my opinion, it's simply something of a televised version of Anything Goes :-)

Paul Potts won the first series last year. Heard of him? He's the guy that sang Nessun Dorma from Turandot in the final and bullied teary-eyed viewers to vote for him.

This year, one of the biggest surprise acts was a duo performing under the name of Signature. They got into the final of Britain's Got Talent 2008 with this incredible dance routine which has to be seen to be believed. Unfortunately, in the final, all they got was second spot. It was still a triumph but this was the performance that first caught the imagination of the judges and viewers in Britain:

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Happy Father's Day to me!

Bless their hearts, I didn't expect my son and daughter to remember Father's Day but they did. They gave me this t-shirt. It's Euro 2008 anyway, and Germany's playing. It says 13 on the back. That's their captain's number, isn't it?

Thank you, Michelle, and thank you, Jeremy, I like the gift. But don't you think that it's a bit tad too small? I'll look like a sack of chempedak in it. Sorry, I won't give you the pleasure of seeing "Michael Ballack" in this t-shirt.

Yut Kee's kaya

This is the egg kaya that's sold at the Yut Kee coffee shop in Campbell Road, Kuala Lumpur. It's how kaya should be made, just like the way my mother and before her, my grandmother, used to make it: with eggs, sugar and coconut milk, and steamed for hours over an open fire. Not the weak stuff made from flour and questionable colour additives that you'll find in most sundry shops.

This is the REAL taste of kaya. Since my family doesn't make it nowadays, I resort to buying them from Yut Kee when I'm down in KL. During my last trip there last month, I asked the chap at the counter (he's the proprietor's son) for a tub of kaya.

It was still fresh and warm when his worker brought it out. "Keep it properly and it should last you two weeks," the boss's son told me. I think he tells that to all his customers. But I replied: "I still have a tub of your kaya in my refrigerator since last March and it still keeps very well." Momentarily, he looked at me with wide, open eyes. He positively looked shocked. Then he said: "Oh, my God!"

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Penang heritage: the Logan Memorial

When I was a kid, my grandparents used to stay in Green Hall. They rented a room on the upper floor of a house that was very deep, dark and damp. It wasn't of their choice that they had to live there but times were very hard in those days. Every few weeks my mother and I would go to visit them. And in the afternoons, my aunt would take me across the road to a small field within the compound of the Penang courthouse. The heritage building still stands today. In fact, it has just been renovated and reopened. I would run around the field in search of a particular plant whose seed, when put into the mouth, would pop as if a small firecracker had just been fired.

In a corner of the field stood the Logan Memorial, a marble statue dedicated to James Richardson Logan, a prominent Penang lawyer and the one-time editor of the Penang Gazette. Logan devoted his life to serving the public and was a strong advocate of freedom of speech, law and order until his death in 1869.

During the courthouse's renovation, I was wondering what would become of the statue. Would the statue be removed from the compound since it smacked of colonialism, never mind that it stood for justice? Well, my question's answered. Yes, it has been removed from the courthouse's compound BUT it has found a new home, in its own little square at the junction of Light Street and Duke Street, across the street from the court house. Best of all, it has definitely been spruced up and looks so tidy.

Penang, a MICE centre? Nothing new...

Ahh, Mr Lee Kah Choon.... I read in theSun online yesterday that you want to turn Penang into a centre for meetings, incentives and exhibitions (MICE) for the northern region.

But that's what Mdm Kee Phaik Cheen tried to do the last time, wasn't it? When she was still in the state executive council. When the Barisan Nasional still ruled the state. Then she was left out of the government and the idea became stillborn.

Good that you are trying to revive the idea. But making announcements is not good enough. I really, really hope you can do something to turn this into reality. I'll take your word that something will be started within three years. Penang needs it.

Friday, 13 June 2008


(I couldn't believe my eyes but I've nothing more to say)

Like it?

"Always expect the unexpected. You are only as wise as your immediate sphere of influence."

We'll pay you to fly....

I was only kidding when I penned this blog entry on 6 May 2008 soon after a price war between Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia finally erupted into the open. At that time, I mentioned that I didn't know how much lower the prices could go beyond zero. But we'll know soon enough, I said.

Well, tonight, I received an email from Air Asia with this incredible message:

Is this becoming a reality? Will Air Asia now give away money for people to fly with the airline? Yes and no.

Yes, they are offering people RM100 to fly with them but no, it's not in cash and there is a pre-condition attached. You have to apply for a credit card which they have tied up with a leading foreign bank. And when the card is approved, you'll get an Air Asia e-Gift Voucher worth RM100. Of course, with this credit card, you need to spend, spend, spend your credit away in order to earn points that can be redeemed against your Air Asia flights, fuel surcharges and others. Smart, eh, their card affiliation programme? I don't know....

What I do know for sure is that there is turbulence ahead for the airline industry. From a high of RM2.14 last year, Air Asia closed yesterdayday at 87.5 sen on the Bursa Malaysia. It has been sliding all the way down past their IPO price for a few weeks now. If that's not a cause for concern for Malaysia's budget airline, I don't know what is.

But Malaysia Airlines has not been spared too. Last year, its price on the Bursa Malaysia touched a high of RM6.15. Where is it today? Tumbled down to RM3.38.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Kimberley Street, Penang

Kimberley Street is in an inner precinct of George Town. It's a narrow road with a one-way flow of traffic from Carnarvon Street to Penang Road. I haven't been there for a while but I remember that there is good food to be found here, especially at night. I wasn't planning to take any photograph but at one stage, when walking towards Carnarvon Street, I took out my mobile to shoot a few photos. They are not of good quality, however, because this is just a 2.0-megapixel mobile phone camera. Anyway, here are some of the photographs.

In case you are wondering, this is the junction of Kimberley Street and Sungai Ujong Road. At this crossroad are some wonderful food stalls, all located behind me. I would come here to taste the fried beehoon, the fried koay teow and soya bean milk. Some say the Hokkien Mee is nice too but to me, there are better ones elsewhere. You see that red car that's just about to turn out? It was about there that I used to enjoy a wonderful bowl of ice kachang. The stall's gone, by the way.

This is the Hooi Lye Teochew Association. It hasn't changed a bit since the 1970s. It's still a pink building. I used to come here often until the early 1980s - twice a week, actually - not because I'm Teochew (heavens, no....I'm Hokkien) but because this used to be the meeting place of the Penang Chess Association. We'd come here on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons to meet with like-minded chess-playing friends and occasionally, we'd organise our tournaments. Ahh...those were the good old days of Penang chess!

Directly opposite the Hooi Lye Association is a row of houses belonging to the Bee Chin Heong. This company sells Chinese prayer paraphernalia such as joss-sticks, fengshui items and whatever else, and is now the largest of its kind in Penang. Do give the shop a visit. You'll be fascinated by the things they keep inside, including a tremendously large Lion Dance headgear. Outside the Bee Chin Heong, life-size or giant statues from Chinese folk-lore line the five-foot walkway. They are there simply because they are too big to be kept inside the houses, like this statue of Kuan Yin that towers above everything else! Of course, the shop is not afraid of people carting away the statues in the middle of the night. They weigh several tons.

And finally, I came across this car. There's nothing to suggest that it is part of the Kimberley Street landscape. Perhaps it belongs to a shopper or a resident. But it being an old car itself, I thought it was worth the effort to take a snapshot of it.

Oh yes, how can I forget? This building was once the tallest building in the country, before it was overtaken by the Maybank headquarters in KL. Unfortunately, the interior of the podium block is in terrible shape and many of the businesses there have relocated elsewhere. Still, there can be no denying that the Komtar tower block is the most imposing structure in the whole of the northern peninsula.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

It's so easy to open a bag

Cor...I never knew it would be so easy to open a luggage bag! I once had the locks on my luggage bag smashed open at either the Bayan Lepas International Airport or the Kuala Lumpur International Airport when I checked in for a through flight from Penang to Labuan (I complained on arrival at Labuan Airport and my lock was replaced when I returned home) but this is definitely a more sophisticated way to prise open a bag. Just watch....

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Penang Bridge expansion is taking too long

I had just barely left my house this morning when Jeffrey forwarded a most disturbing SMS to me: "Pg bridge massive jam fr prai-pg 6.30am b'coz they never seem 2 finish nightshift work on happened last mth 4 a few days n again 2 day.everybody late!"

This message is not the end of the world but it's still disturbing enough for motorists like me who are held at ransom by the rising oil prices and the never-ending work on the bridge. Getting caught in a jam means a wastage of petrol which we can now ill afford.

As I was just barely out of the house, I turned back to check the Penang Bridge blog. Yes, there was a huge jam on the bridge, as these poor quality images from the blog can attest. Luckily, I was still able to operate from home for a hour while I waited for the jam to ease.

But the point is, the Penang Bridge expansion is taking far too long to complete. With each passing day, our frustration grows. If only UEM Builders can speed up their work. I don't want to wait until the end of next year before I can travel smoothly on the bridge. Goodness knows, by that time, what's the price of petrol going to be like, but that's another story.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Chang festival and my stomach's not okay

I'm not going to say anything much about the Dumpling festival that we observed on Sunday except to say that I got a big stomach upset that began on Sunday evening and which I'm still reeling from the discomfort until today.

I went to see the doctor on my way back from work today and the first question she shot at me was: "Ah've been eating too many changs (dumplings)" And before I could answer her, she continued: "You're about the seventh or eighth person to see me this afternoon about your stomach discomfort." What more can I do?? Except to lay off the dumplings for the next few days.

Anyway, here are the delicious culprits.....