Friday, March 31, 2006

Penang's New Bus Routes

Nope, it's no April Fool's Joke. The new public bus system for Penang will take effect from tomorrow. I would have blogged about this a few days ago if I had a copy of the map showing the new bus routes earlier. I just got a copy of them from the Penang Municipal Council website which wasn't of much help, really. You can judge for yourself by clicking on the maps below.

Penang Bus Routes Penang Bus Routes
(pictures from Penang Municipal Council)

Browsing through the maps is such a hassle. You can't zoom in or out which makes it very dysfunctional. Fret not, I've generated the maps into PDF for your (and my) convenience; for both stage buses and mini buses. Why they have not thought of distributing the maps as PDF, I really cannot comprehend but that is a topic for another time. :P

I'm happy that something is being done to eleviate the dilapidating public transportation system in Penang. To be fair, Penang is not alone in facing this problem but it's probably more chronic here than compared to towns like Ipoh, Alor Setar or Kuantan, to name a few. In the new system, stage buses will ply the main roads and mini buses will play the role as feeder buses. The public transportation system in the state will also be seperated into three zones to reduce competition and increase efficiency.

From what I can see, the new system is very good in many ways IF properly implemented and enforced by the relevant authorities. In the new system, a larger area will be covered which is a very good thing considering many routes were not serviced in the previous system because they were considered less profitable. People complaining that they do not have a bus taking them directly to a certain destination is really living in a dream. Even in Singapore you have to hop on several buses and MRTs to get to a certain destination and their public transportation system is world-class!!! This is the most viable and efficient way, really. You just can't provide direct services to everywhere! That's totally insane. They should be thankful that more areas are reachable now with the new system which were totally impossible previously. You can hop onto a connecting bus easily with the new system thus taking you to more places on the island than previously possible. If you want to stop directly at the doorstep of a particular destination, you should probably take the taxi instead.

One major reason for the meltdown of the public transportation system in Penang, in my opinion, is the bus leasing system implemented awhile back. This created serious competition among the drivers whom totally neglected the safety, comfort and needs of the passengers. The only thought on their minds were to maximise earnings and I truly cannot blame them for that. They have families to feed and expenses to pay. They have no social obligation to anyone but themselves. I put the blame on the bus companies instead. They do have a social obligation to provide a reasonable and acceptable standard of public transport. They were issued the licenses to operate such services and should be held accountable. They were not issued the licenses solely to make a profit.

The only way to curb this problem is for the bus companies to hire drivers and pay them a basic monthly income. Only then will the drivers not feel the need to maximise profits first and attend to the needs of passengers second. The needs of commuters should always come first. In the present system the companies are not running a public transportation business but a bus leasing business instead which is totally wrong! I'm sure they were issued permits and licenses to provide public transport and not lease buses. This way, the bus companies cannot wash their hands clean if any problem arises. They will also find the need to keep their buses in proper condition since they will be held accountable for the deplorable state of their buses. They will directly feel the pinch if a bus breaks down and at the receiving end of any action arising from complaints lodged against them instead of drivers who are feeling the heat at the moment. Commuters should be given a bigger role to play by providing channels for them to lodge complaints and stern action taken immediately on the perpetrators. Only then will the bus companies and drivers be on their toes all the time and provide the best services to the public.

STAR-LRT at Bandar Tasik Selatan

What we would need urgently apart from the revamp of the current public tranportation system is a light rail system or the alternative of a monorail which has been suggested by the Penang State Government. It's good that the Penang Monorail has been promised in the 9th Malaysian Plan but it still remains to be seen if it becomes a reality since it was promised to us a decade ago but put on hold time and again. Till today, it remains a promise and nothing more. To improve the new bus system further, an introduction of a payment card like the one widely used in Singapore's public transportation system through Touch 'n Go or something else would be very much welcomed. There are many benefits of using a payment card instead of cash and the bus companies should seriously consider this avenue.

Frankly, I find the current bus rates to be quite costly to actually attract and encourage people to switch over to public transport. Prices should be reduced and utilising a payment card system can help reduce costs in several ways which can be translated to higher profits in the long-run. It is still to be seen how successful the revamp of the bus system will be but at least it is a very good first step in improving the public transportation on the island. Let's see how the system pans out tomorrow. It will definitely be chaotic for at least a month or so when the drivers and commuters get used to the new system but I foresee a good outcome from this and you don't find me saying this often about the Penang State Government or something related to Teng Hock Nan. Can we expect clean, safe and reliable buses in the near future with the implementation of the new system? Only time will tell and I truly hope that is the case.

9th Malaysia Plan (2006 - 2010) - Disappointing

One word says it all - DISAPPOINTING. I dozed off listening to the Prime Minister tabling the 9th Malaysia Plan (9MP) detailing the masterplan for the nation for the next five years in Parliament earlier today. It seems a norm for his major speeches in the Parliament to be a bore. I've listened to his Budget speeches before and they were seriously boring. Not that speeches in Parliament are suppose to be anything but dull, I actually expect something extra during the more important speeches made in Parliament such as this one. It is THE blueprint for our nation for the next five years! You would consider that major, wouldn't you?

Parliament House

Yea, I'm one of the weird people who would listen to these things but hey, I'm concerned how are these people handling our economy and where our country is headed! This Malaysia Plan is important for various reasons. This is the first ever tabling of a Malaysia Plan for the current Prime Minister. It is also the start of the second phase of Vision 2020 to transform Malaysia into a developed nation by the year 2020. Most importantly, it is regarded as the catalyst needed to stimulate Malaysia's laggard economy. To me at least, it failed terribly and was way below expectations. Of course I'm not like those silly people hoping for a reduction in income tax, lower petrol prices, no more in sin tax and all that. Hello?!? Those things happen during the tabling of the Budget, ok!!!

Penang Bridge
(picture from Wikipedia)

Penangites were promised a surprise, a pleasant gift for 9MP by the Prime Minister himself. It is after all his beloved home state and Penang has been neglected way too long. Many expected the announcement to be either the Second Penang Bridge or the Penang Monorail or both even. I expected much more than that. After all, both of these projects were suppose to be implemented ten years ago! Turns out, two sentences were all Penang had in the whole of the 9MP speech; one for the bridge and another for the monorail. It sounded more like these two were slotted in to the speech rather than one of the few highlights of 9MP.

I expected a bigger stimulus for the state but that was not to be. Guess how much Penang will be receiving for the whole of 9MP? Please remember that this will be for a duration of five years. RM6.6 billion - the fourth lowest amount allocated to a state! Please also remember to take into consideration that the construction of the bridge and the monorail system will take up most, if not all of that allocation! If not mistaken, even the Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) is financed through 9MP. What else is left for other development in the state? The state definitely contributes more than that in taxes and other revenue within the five year period and that's all we will get back? Insane!!!

Federal Government Development Allocation and Expenditure for 9th Malaysian Plan
(click to enlarge)

I'm seriously concerned how Penang is being blatantly neglected over and over again. If you want to push the agenda that Penang will be getting the Second Penang Bridge and Penang Monorail, please remember these projects are truly justified and way overdue! We were promised of these projects over ten years ago!!! I don't know about you guys but I'm just disappointed at 9MP for Malaysia as a whole and for Penang in particular. Don't get me wrong, 9MP wasn't all bad. There are some good points in 9MP but it just won't create considerable buzz to stimulate the economy, IMHO. I just don't find it inspiring and this is troubling considering I will be joining the workforce in the near future.

Monday, March 27, 2006

hi5 No More

I've finally done it. I've deleted my hi5 account.

I've been thinking of doing it for awhile now as some of you know. I just don't see the purpose of Friendster, hi5, Multiply and the likes. How many truly utilise them as a friend- finding- networking- tool instead of a I've- more friends- than- you- so- I'm- more- popular- quick- write- for- me- a- testimonial site? Very, very, very few. I hardly even login to them unless I receive an email notification about new friend requests or mail. I truly makes more sense deleting them than keeping them just for the sake of keeping them.

Now then, which will I decide to delete next and when? hi5 would probably be the first to go anyway since it was the least utilised between the three. Although I only have ONE contact in Multiply, I needed an account to read my friend's blog. I had no use for the hi5 account AT ALL. I might still have some use for Friendster so it would probably be the last to go if ever I decide to part with it.

To me, these sites are more suited for the younger generation (hmmm, that makes me sound so old :P). Somehow, their lives revolves around Friendster and MSN Messenger. Apart from online games, that's the only two places they visit on the Internet (well, maybe porn sites too since they are so fixated with porn :P). To me, these sites have become a hunting ground for stalkers, paedophiles and the likes. It doesn't look good at all.

Anyway, I would like to apologise to those who were connected to me in hi5. For me, this is the most sensible thing to do. Hope you all understand. :)

Keith Urban

Have been listening to music by Keith Urban lately. Who's Keith Urban? Well, he's a country singer whose music I recently discovered and I'm stuck on them now.

Two songs which stood out first (probably due to the fact that they were on the Top 100 Songs of the day on the iTunes Music Store :P) were You'll Think Of Me and I Wanna Cry Tonight. Very nice music and quite meaningful lyrics. They didn't sound that country to me at first. I was actually quite surprised when I found out they were categorised as country music. I have in total six of Keith Urban's most popular songs but I still like these two the most (probably because the rest were more country compared to these two).

Coutry music don't really appeal to me much and only a few songs and singers from this genre I will find interesting, which is truly rare indeed to start with. I can't really explain how, what or why I like his songs but somehow I do. I might just be tempted to get all the songs on all of his five albums! :P I truly doubt it, though. Anyway, tell me what you think of his music, well at least for the two songs that I like most.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

One For My Phantom Readers

Since I've not been blogging regularly due to the inconvenience caused recently by Blogger's faulty splog detection system, I had some spare time on my hands (well, actually not that much but still I was itching to do some nonsensical stuff, just for the fun of it). I used the various tools available online to see who were linking up to me and the findings are a bit surprising and unexpected. I was actually on the path of partially discovering my phantom readers!

Who do I classify as phantom readers? Well, to me, phantom readers are those who follow my blog that I do not know about. So, are they still considered phantom readers after I find out they are following my blog? Well, unless they tell me personally or through commenting on my blog, to me they are still classified as phantom readers. I don't mind phantom readers, just that sometimes the thought of someone reading my blog religiously but me not knowing who it is might be a bit scary. Haha. Well, actually there's nothing to be afraid of anyway or else I wouldn't have started a blog in the first place! Just that it would be nice to know who frequents my blog. :)

At first I did get startled when some individuals told me they were following my blog. I was actually surprised that some individuals actually find my nonsense interesting to read rather than scared to death that they are reading my mind and soul. I feel so honoured, really that someone would actually want to understand the mess that I am. :P Anyway, I'm past that I'm- so- surprised- you're- reading- my- blog- seriously- are- you- for- real phase. I'm more than happy to discover my readers and hopefully forge a bond with them, if possible.

Now then, don't be shy. Reveal yourselves. I won't bite (well, at least not all the time :P). I would really want to try getting to know you guys, if possible. Ainelivia, you still reading my blog? My stats show someone from UK frequenting my blog. Is that you? ;)

Well, to those who have links to my blog, a big thank you for your support. Just a small request though. It would really be great if those who have linked to my blog as to change it to instead. Sorry for the inconvenience but I would really appreciate it. :) I have my own weird reasons, don't ask! :P

To all my readers (phantom or not, loyal or sporadic), I truly appreciate your continued support and readership. It is what spurs me on everyday knowing that what I write actually means something to someone. However, please understand blogging has really become a fuss lately due to the restrictions placed on my blog by Blogger. :(

Anyway, I will continue on blogging for now (unless I get so fed-up with the word verification thingy) but entries will be scarce mainly due to the restrictions and partly due to time constraints on my part. Once again, thank you all for your support. :D

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Far Away

by Nickelback

"Far Away" music video by Nickelback

This time, This place
Misused, Mistakes
Too long, Too late
Who was I to make you wait
Just one chance
Just one breath
Just in case there's just one left
'Cause you know,
you know, you know

That I love you
I have loved you all along
And I miss you
Been far away for far too long
I keep dreaming you'll be with me
and you'll never go
Stop breathing if
I don't see you anymore

On my knees, I'll ask
Last chance for one last dance
'Cause with you, I'd withstand
All of hell to hold your hand
I'd give it all
I'd give for us
Give anything but I won't give up
'Cause you know,
you know, you know

That I love you
I have loved you all along
And I miss you
Been far away for far too long
I keep dreaming you'll be with me
and you'll never go
Stop breathing if
I don't see you anymore

So far away
Been far away for far too long
So far away
Been far away for far too long
But you know, you know, you know

I wanted
I wanted you to stay
'Cause I needed
I need to hear you say
That I love you
I have loved you all along
And I forgive you
For being away for far too long
So keep breathing
'Cause I'm not leaving you anymore
Believe it
Hold on to me and, never let me go
Keep breathing
'Cause I'm not leaving you anymore
Believe it
Hold on to me and, never let me go
Keep breathing
Hold on to me and, never let me go
Keep breathing
Hold on to me and, never let me go

Was looking for this song for awhile now ever since I heard it on the radio recently. I immediately knew it was by Nickelback but just didn't know the song title. I used iTunes to preview the songs by Nickelback and once I found the song, I downloaded it! Of course I had the help of Google for finding out the song title too. ;)

This song just blew me away...far, far away (pun intended)! The music appeals to me at so many levels. The music and tune of the song is critical in me liking a particular song. Only if the music and tune is acceptable can it be classified as a song I like. The next stage will be to see if the lyrics are meaningful and beautiful or just some crap pooled together. Sometimes, even if the song has crappy lyrics but nice music and tune, I might still end up liking the song. The music will supercede the crappy lyrics. :P However, even if the song has divinely wonderful lyrics but crappy music, most likely it will not interest me at all or at most for a very short period of time only. I mean, who likes to listen to crappy music right? :P When both the music and lyrics appeal to me, then you know the song is really something special. 'Far Away' is one of those songs that both truly appeals to me.

The lyrics of this song speaks to me in so many ways. In my opinion, it is quite similar to Nobody Knows by Tony Rich Project since it is suitable for very much the same situation (well, at least for me). Maybe it kind of complements each other very well. :) The lyrics of this song somehow has that pull and connects to me so well. That would explain why it's looping over and over again on my iTunes although I had a myriad of other new songs added to my playlist. Speaks volume of this song, no? Anyway, I hope you find the song as appealing to your ears as I did.

Google Down!

(click to enlarge)

Looks like Google is facing more problems other than those I highlighted concerning Blogger. I wasn't able to load up any site related to Google for awhile and the error message like the one above kept popping up. Even my Google Talk was disconnected. Blogger was down, Gmail too and accessing Google through or gave the error message like the one above. Doesn't look good at all even if it was momentarily. What's up Google? I'm beginning to lose faith and everyone knows what a Google fan(atic?) I am.

Blogger Full Of Bugs

How often have you seen this message within Blogger? Looks like the problems are piling up for them at the moment. Not only do they have a faulty spam blog detection system that wrongfully locked some of my blogs and forced me to go through an annoying word verification thingy everytime I want to update my blog, people are also complaining of inability to upload photos (people, please use Flickr or some other photo hosting services instead), white-screen-only-can't-see-my-blog problem, 450 Write Error and a host of other issues.

I've been waiting for days now for a response from the Blogger Support group concerning my blogs being wrongfully flagged as splogs but still nothing. Apparently, it only takes 24 to 48 hours for them to review the blogs and whitelist them. I've been waiting much much much longer than that and still I've got to put up with the annoying word verification thingy. Come on! Is it that hard to see my blog IS NOT a splog? Go out and get the real splogs and leave the authentic ones alone. The compound my problems even further, I couldn't login to my account this morning and got an error message like the one below instead. WTF?!?

(click to enlarge)

It was really the last straw and I just had to blog about this. I checked the Blogger Status as requested but no information at all. Great! Tell us to check on something which isn't there! I did mention that I wouldn't blog another entry until my blogs were vindicated but I just had to get this off my chest. Anyway, some are already suffering from a severe case of JSYK-withdrawal syndrome and had constantly requested that I continue blogging. I might consider coming out from this self-imposed 'sabatical' but I'm quite adamant to limit my blogging for the time-being until this has been resolved. You all have to understand that it's very difficult for me to blog with the damn word verification thingy on. Blogging is no longer a pleasure to me now and has turned into a hassle due to the annoying word verification thingy. Also, I just don't like the idea of being labelled a splogger, even if it was an honest mistake.

I give them the benefit of the doubt that they are too busy fixing all the other problems now to review my blog but it is very possible that this blog might not even last one year at Blogger. I might just consider moving over to Wordpress instead or stop blogging altogether. We'll see how things go. I'll give Blogger a little more time for now. Maybe it's about time my phantom readers come forward and speak up. ;)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

You Telling Me This Is A Spam Blog?

You wake up one morning feeling wonderful and all, sitting right in front of your computer and getting ready to start blogging when suddenly, Blogger presents you with a gift that will give your blogging experience that little something extra. Those brilliant people at Blogger presented something extra alright, an extra word verification thingamajig for everytime I want to save/post/edit a blog entry!

How is it that they are so generous in dishing out this 'gift' to me? Well, Blogger has implemented a system that can detect splogs (spam blogs) and then force them to take a Captcha 'spell this word' test. So, you see, this blog has just been 'detected' and is now being forced to take the damn Captcha test for every single post I want to create. It is damn irritating that you have to key that in everytime you want to post something or even save it as a draft! With so many Blogger outages, I save my entries frequently so I do not lose them whenever there's an outage. It's not easy trying to remember the crap you've taken so much effort to write down, you know. Now, I can't even do that without having to key in the word verification thingy every single time and that is very, very, very annoying.

(click to enlarge)

Clicking on the round orange button with the "?" sign will bring you to the page you see above. The page explains why I have that annoying Captcha thingy, their efforts at fighting splog and includes a simple form to request for a human to review my blog and verify it is not a splog. I filled up the form and sent it in, hoping my nightmare will soon end. Guess what? A freaking error message like the one below popped up. WTF?!?

(click to enlarge)

I hate all types of spam and I hope all spammers will burn in hell. I'm an advocate of all initiatives to make their lives more miserable and ours much easier. However, I do not take it lightly being labelled a spammer especially when I'm not one!!! This is not my first experience of my blog being wrongfully labelled a splog. I was working on another blog recently and was updating it with loads of stuff before making it public (no, it's not this one but another one) but never got to doing that as after just a few posts, it was quickly flagged as a splog and updating it became a real farce.

I tried getting a human reviewer to verify the authencity of my blog but the same error page keeps popping up. I searched for Blogger's support email and hope they will be of assistance but couldn't locate it. The only Blogger related email I found was and sent them TWO emails concerning this problem. I was disappointed I didn't get a reply like the last time I contacted a Google service. Recently, I checked the Blogger Buzz blog again and noticed they have indicated on their blog that that email is not a support email. Great! The least you could have done is have the courtesy to inform me, no? Why couldn't they have just forwarded it to the right people instead? Guess what I did? I deleted that blog!!! I was that pissed!

I didn't like the idea that my blogs were wrongfully flagged as splogs but I didn't really feel the need to do something since it didn't really affect me and the blogs weren't my personal/main blogs. Only when this blog finally received this 'innocuous gift' did I get so riled up. At present, THREE of my blogs are affected - excluding the one I deleted, so you understand how pissed I am. How is it that a blog with original content that has been in existence for nearly a year, updated frequently with over 400 blog entries and viewed nearly 100 times a day by people from all over the world be considered a splog? There are plenty of splogs out there and those are the ones that should be experiencing this type of inconvenience now, not me! Go lock their blogs up instead! It is obvious Blogger's 'splog detection system' is faulty especially when so many genuine blogs have been wrongfully flagged as splog. Doing a Google search and browsing through Google Groups will show you the extend of the 'damage'.

You can do your part in fighting splog. If you come along a blog that is not a blog, report it. Apart from Blogger's 'Flag As Objectionable' initiative which I highlighted some time back, there are websites available for you to report splogs such as Splog Reporter and SplogSpot. These splogs just clutter up the worldwide web and messes up the search results with useless content. If you want to know more on how you can fight splog, read this.

Now, please give me back my blog before I do something crazy like deleting my blog!!! I don't feel like blogging until my blogs get whitelisted for good. This is such a nuisance! Now then, you don't want my faithful readers to suffer from another round of JSYK-withdrawal syndrome, do you? ;)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

FIFA 06 - Just Can't Get Enough Of It

Here's something that has kept me busy apart from what I've mentioned in my earlier post. I've been trying my hand at FIFA 06 on the PlayStation 2 and it's really challenging! Although it's been at least a week since I've held the gamepad in my hand, it's a very enticing thought to load up the game again and continue playing it. Of course it is addictive. How can you call it a good game if it is not? I'm trying really hard not to pop the game into the game console. I know where that'll lead me to. :P

I blame it on my cousin for buying the game. If not, I wouldn't be feeling this way at the moment. Haha... It's really a very good game. It's very much improved from the earlier releases. So much so that you actually have to relearn quite a few things to actually get the hang of playing it. When I started playing it, I lost every single match and couldn't score a single goal! It was that bad! My usual tricks didn't work anymore and it was depressing.

In FIFA 05, I could score tonnes of goals be it from open play, freekicks or corners. I've mastered the taking of freekicks and corners to the extend that practically all of the time, the ball will end up in the back of the net. I was a freekick and corner specialist. ;) This time however, they changed the whole freekick and corner system. I've not mastered them yet even in practice mode. I've scored a few in practice mode but can't find that right formula that will ensure the ball will end up in the back of the net yet. I will eventually overcome this obstacle I'm sure but definitely not in the near future. I must not get sucked into playing the game, at least for now.

The tactics are different too. I would have to say it is much better now with loads of tactical options available for you to tweak around with. However, I'm just too lazy to change them for every single match which you should if you really want to experience the gameplay and win your matches. I just set the same tactics and play (and pray) hard I score more goals than my opponent. I'm just not that patient in setting the tactics for each and every match. If it was possible, I wouldn't even change my team lineup from each matches! :P

I've finished playing one full season using Newcastle United. Of course the team of my choice would be managing and playing Manchester United but it's a five-star team and you can't select a five-star team from the start of the career mode. However, I've discovered a glitch where you can manage a five-star team right from the start! Just change the line-up a five-star team of your choice to their reserve players and when you choose the career mode, the team will not be considered a five-star team and available for selection! Sweet! I'm definitely going to do that. Erm, I mean next time. :P

I've tried out the transfer system and bought a few players to enhance the team during the January transfer window. It's not the best transfer system available but it's quite ok. Newcastle United requires a lot of personnel changes to make it a team that is able to challenge for trophies. However, they are just not good enough to attract the right players and don't have enough cash to make the right purchases. I should have taken Tottenham Hotspur instead. I blame my cousin again for asking me to take Newcastle United. When he started his own career mode, he chose Tettenham Hotspur!!! Grrrr....

Although I lost the first match and drew a couple of matches after that, I managed to get the best out of my team and went on an unbeaten streak that help win me the League Cup, the FA Cup and the Premiership title. Not bad huh for the first season? It's European domination next before some big club (Manchester United *ahem*) finally agrees to hire me as their next manager. I definitely need someone to rescue me from this ailing club! I can only stand managing and playing this club for another season tops. It's in such a bad condition really. If it weren't for me successfully getting the likes of Wayne Rooney and Ronaldinho to the club (amazing but Rooney was a free agent and Ronaldinho was on the tranfer list!!! Lucky me...), I would probably forget about the game altogether (which is a good thing in a way, no? :P).

Well, it was a good first season although it was a really tough one due to the learning curve but I'm sure it can only get easier from here especially when I'm building up my arsenal of tricks and getting closer to scoring from freekicks. I guess I'll only know the next time I hold the gamepad in my hands, no? I wonder when that would be. I can just here Wayne Rooney and Ronaldinho calling out to me. ;)

Monday, March 13, 2006

Petrol Price Hike Aftermath

Just a few days back, I refueled my car with petrol for the first time after the very unpopular price increase for petroleum products. With such a huge increase, even the rich will flinch at the announcement however 'insignificant' we think it may be for them.

I filled up with the usual amount and was prepared for a really heart-wrenching feeling that it would not measure up to anywhere near my previous refuelings. I was prepared for this fill-up to just fill nothing more than half a tank, if I'm lucky. Turns out, it wasn't as bad as I thoughted it would be. Not only did it exceed the half tank mark, it was comparable to previous refuelings of close to the three-quarters mark as if there wasn't any difference at all. Really shocking! Looks like my SLK is not that much affected after all. Phew! Maybe the difference may be more visible if I had filled it up to the brim. I think I'll just settle with this thought for now. :P

However, this only forms a small portion of our worries due to the price increase. It's the spillovers I'm more worried of. For example, a canister of cooking gas has increased by RM4.50 to as much as RM22.50. Now, that's A LOT! One increase will lead to another increase and this vicious cycle will eventually cause a lot of hardship for the rakyat. We have just begun to experience the effects of this cycle. Brace yourself for more in the near future when your favourite Char Koay Teow isn't that tasty or Teh Tarik isn't as sweet as it used to be realising it costs a bomb now.

If the middle-class has been complaining the recent increase, I dare not think how the lower income group is coping. Don't get me wrong. I still believe the price increase is inevitable. It had to be done sooner or later. It's just how the whole situation had and will be handled that worries me.

So far, there has been TWO street demonstrations in the Kuala Lumpur city centre already led by the opposition parties. They were mostly peaceful demonstrations but regretful nonetheless. I truly didn't like the idea of the rakyat's plight being manipulated by the opposition in such manner. In fact I do not agree that any party should do it for their own gain in guise of 'helping' the rakyat. Just despicable!

A politician even tried to 'lead by example' by taking the LRT but his attempt has been ridiculed as a publicity stunt by some prominent figures of the local blogosphere. Of course it didn't help that he was wearing an expensive suit but since when it was a crime to take the LRT wearing a suit? What did you expect him to wear instead? A pair of slacks and a polo T-shirt along with a pair of sandals? Beach-wear perhaps? Wouldn't that be more of a publicity stunt?!? If we are truly advocating the use of public transport, wouldn't we want to see businessmen, managers, corporate figures and the likes who would probably be in a business suit to be amongst the so-called Average Joes commuting on a public transport? To poke fun at this minister's effort however (in)sincere you may think he is through a caption competition is totally uncalled for. It's no different for those who supports/condones such an act. It's just shameful and hypocritical. I would be more worried of street demonstrations being used for political gain rather that some publicity stunt like this one, wouldn't you?

There has been worries that the projected RM4.4 billion saved will be channeled to bailing out GLCs instead of the promise of setting up a fund to improve the disgraceful public transportation system in the country. I'm not only worried this may be true how much they are trying to tell us it is not but also that there will be other mismanagement of the funds gained from the reduce in petrol subsidy. Is there any assurance there will not be any waste of money or the likes?

We have been told again and again to change our lifestyle to cope with the reduced petrol subsidy since the petrol price hike that it's getting really irritating. I cannot agree more with MackZul that there is no need for anyone to tell us the need to change our lifestyle. The fact is, the change in lifestyle has been forced upon us! We have no choice but to change. It wasn't an option. Change is inevitable. Just don't play us for fools. We deserve that much. If the Government was guilty of anything, it was not weaning us off the petrol subsidy much earlier when it was still managable. It would have been less painful then and less objections from the masses.

(pictures from Shagadelica and The Star)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Congratulations Cheong Fook and Su-Wern

Here's wishing the both of you all the best on this wonderful journey together. The dinner reception was great! Congratulations once again. :)

(picture from

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Kept Busy

08online - Official homepage for the mighty sea scouts of Penang Free School

Sorry I've not been updating my blog for awhile now. Been kept busy with some matters, one of them being the relaunch of one of my side projects - 08online. Apart from that, I just didn't have the mood to write as passionately as I would like to for the various topics I've chosen to blog on, so I decided not to blog about them until I was ready and in the mood to do so. It's part of my New Year resolutions, no? :P

I do realise some of you have been suffering from JSYK-withdrawal syndrome these past few days due to the lack of blogging on my part but rest assured I'll be back soon enough. Thanks for your support and be at the launch tonight if you can for the unveiling of the new 08online. It's nothing major really but your visit will be very much appreciated. :)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

When Alone In Car, Always Lock Your Doors

from an email:

As i'm typing furiously away on my keyboard, my brother's great friend in lying in Adventist Hospital now.

Yesterday night, when he is waiting for his girlfriend somewhere near The Place along Burmah Rd, an indian boy got into his Kelisa. That boy is trying to rob Kelvin alone. Of course, he fought back. But without his knowledge, 3 other indian boy had got into his car thru the backseat.

Kelvin was pressed against the sterring wheel of his car while being brutally abused by the 4 indians. Then he was forced to drive them to the nearest ATM machine. When they force him to say his ATM PIN number, one of them took out a scissor. He repeatly stabbed Kelvin with that scissor all over this body while another pressed his head AGAIN agaisnt the wheel.

Losing alot of blood and being helpless at that time, he simply blurt out a series of number. I'm not sure whether those bastards got the money or not. After that, they drove to a remote road in Balik Pulau. Obviously took everything he has, phone, wallet, kelisa and the worst part is before they dump him there, they stripped him.

He was lucky that they did not stabbed his face or kick him down the slopy hillside road. He was saved by an uncle who was on his way home and was send to general hospital immediately.

Kelvin was savagely stabbeb 30-40 times on his back, and on his limbs as well which total up to over 100 stab. Not to mention those punches and kicks that he received. Those bastards are really vicious. The kelisa they took is consider a new car.

My brother who visited him in the hospital this afternoon said he has bandaged all over his body and is very weak at the moment.

I really couldn't believe that this very guy who always come to my house during football nights to watch with my brother had to go thru such a gruesome ordeal like this. This was reported to the police. It was confirmed done by teenage indian boys that doesnt look more than 15-16 years old. If it wasn't for that kind uncle, i would have lost this friend.

My intention of posting this up to remind the people out there to be extremely careful right now. Whenever you are alone in the car, PLEASE LOCK! I do not wish to have such uncivilize act to happen again.

This has been really a bad week. 2 of my friends fathers has passed on. My deepest condolences to them and their family. Not only that, another friend was hijacked when he went to collect his car from the carpark. Luckily he jumped out of his car when he was forced to drive. He lost his Avanza. This happen in Penang as well.

So dear friends, before anything bad happen to our loved ones, please remember to lock the door.
(picture from Aha!Jokes)

Don't Lose That 90% You Already Have

from an email:

Adultery happens when you start looking for what you don't have.

"Wow, this girl in my office is a real looker. I'm crazy about her because she's also understanding, intelligent, tender - so many things that my spouse is not."

Somewhere along the way, you'll find a woman or a man who will be more charming or sensitive. More alluring. More thoughtful. Richer. Have greater sex appeal. And you will find a woman or man who will need you and pursue you and go loco over you more than your spouse ever did.

Because no wife or husband is perfect. Because a spouse will only have 90 of what you're looking for. So adultery takes place when a husband or wife looks for the missing 10%.

Let's say your wife is melancholic by nature. You may find yourself drawn to the pretty clerk who has a cherry laughter. Or because your wife is a homebody in slippers and pyjamas, smelling of garlic and fish oil, you may fall for a fresh-smelling young sales representative that visits your office in a sharp black blazer, high heels, and a red pencil-cut skirt.

Or because your husband is the quiet type, your heart may skip a beat when you meet an old college flame who has the makings of a talk show host.

But wait! That's only 10% of what you don't have. Don't throw away the 90% that you already have! Add to your spouse's 90% the 100% that represents all the years that you have been with each other.

The storms you have weathered together. The unforgettable moments of sadness and joy as a couple. The many adjustments you have made to love the other. The wealth of memories that you've accumulated as lovers.

Adultery happens when you start looking for what you don't have. But faithfulness happens when you start thanking God for what you already have.

But I'm not just talking about marriage. I'm talking about life!

About your jobs.
About your friends.
About your children.
About your lifestyles.

Are you like the economy airline???

The main message: If you start appreciating what you have right now, wherever you are is FIRST CLASS!
(picture from BBC)

Monday, March 06, 2006

78th Annual Academy Awards

updated in real-time:

Performance by an actor in a leading role
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Capote" (UA/Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Terrence Howard in "Hustle & Flow"(Paramount Classics, MTV Films and New Deal Entertainment)
  • Heath Ledger in "Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features)
  • Joaquin Phoenix in "Walk the Line" (20th Century Fox)
  • David Strathairn in "Good Night, and Good Luck." (Warner Independent Pictures)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
  • George Clooney in "Syriana" (Warner Bros.)
  • Matt Dillon in "Crash" (Lions Gate)
  • Paul Giamatti in "Cinderella Man" (Universal and Miramax)
  • Jake Gyllenhaal in "Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features)
  • William Hurt in "A History of Violence" (New Line)

Performance by an actress in a leading role
  • Judi Dench in "Mrs. Henderson Presents" (The Weinstein Company)
  • Felicity Huffman in "Transamerica" (The Weinstein Company and IFC Films)
  • Keira Knightley in "Pride & Prejudice" (Focus Features)
  • Charlize Theron in "North Country" (Warner Bros.)
  • Reese Witherspoon in "Walk the Line" (20th Century Fox)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
  • Amy Adams in "Junebug" (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Catherine Keener in "Capote" (UA/Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Frances McDormand in "North Country" (Warner Bros.)
  • Rachel Weisz in "The Constant Gardener" (Focus Features)
  • Michelle Williams in "Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features)

Best animated feature film of the year
  • "Howl's Moving Castle" (Buena Vista) Hayao Miyazaki
  • "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride" (Warner Bros.) Mike Johnson and Tim Burton
  • "Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit" (DreamWorks Animation SKG) Nick Park and Steve Box

Achievement in art direction
  • "Good Night, and Good Luck." (Warner Independent Pictures) [Art Direction: Jim Bissell; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale]
  • "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (Warner Bros.) [Art Direction: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan]
  • "King Kong" (Universal) [Art Direction: Grant Major; Set Decoration: Dan Hennah and Simon Bright]
  • "Memoirs of a Geisha" (Sony Pictures Releasing) [Art Direction: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gretchen Rau]
  • "Pride & Prejudice" (Focus Features) [Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer]

Achievement in cinematography
  • "Batman Begins" (Warner Bros.) Wally Pfister
  • "Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features) Rodrigo Prieto
  • "Good Night, and Good Luck." (Warner Independent Pictures) Robert Elswit
  • "Memoirs of a Geisha" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Dion Beebe
  • "The New World" (New Line) Emmanuel Lubezki

Achievement in costume design
  • "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (Warner Bros.) Gabriella Pescucci
  • "Memoirs of a Geisha" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Colleen Atwood
  • "Mrs. Henderson Presents" (The Weinstein Company) Sandy Powell
  • "Pride & Prejudice" (Focus Features) Jacqueline Durran
  • "Walk the Line" (20th Century Fox) Arianne Phillips

Achievement in directing
  • "Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features) Ang Lee
  • "Capote" (UA/Sony Pictures Classics) Bennett Miller
  • "Crash" (Lions Gate) Paul Haggis
  • "Good Night, and Good Luck." (Warner Independent Pictures) George Clooney
  • "Munich" (Universal and DreamWorks) Steven Spielberg

Best documentary feature
  • "Darwin's Nightmare" (International Film Circuit) [A Mille et Une Production; Hubert Sauper]
  • "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" (Magnolia Pictures) [An HDNet Films Production; Alex Gibney and Jason Kliot]
  • "March of the Penguins" (Warner Independent Pictures) [A Bonne Pioche Production; Luc Jacquet and Yves Darondeau]
  • "Murderball" (THINKFilm) [An Eat Films Production; Henry-Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro]
  • "Street Fight" (A Marshall Curry Production) [Marshall Curry]

Best documentary short subject
  • "The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club" (A Dan Krauss Production) Dan Krauss
  • "God Sleeps in Rwanda" (An Acquaro/Sherman Production) Kimberlee Acquaro and Stacy Sherman
  • "The Mushroom Club" (A Farallon Films Production) Steven Okazaki
  • "A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin" (A NomaFilms Production) Corinne Marrinan and Eric Simonson

Achievement in film editing
  • "Cinderella Man" (Universal and Miramax) Mike Hill and Dan Hanley
  • "The Constant Gardener" (Focus Features) Claire Simpson
  • "Crash" (Lions Gate) Hughes Winborne
  • "Munich" (Universal and DreamWorks) Michael Kahn
  • "Walk the Line" (20th Century Fox) Michael McCusker

Best foreign language film of the year
  • "Don't Tell" (A Cattleya/Rai Cinema Production) Italy
  • "Joyeux Noel" (A Nord-Ouest Production) France
  • "Paradise Now" (An Augustus Film Production) Palestine
  • "Sophie Scholl - The Final Days" (A Goldkind Filmproduktion and Broth Film Production) Germany
  • "Tsotsi" (A Moviworld Production) South Africa

Achievement in makeup
  • "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (Buena Vista) Howard Berger and Tami Lane
  • "Cinderella Man" (Universal and Miramax) David Leroy Anderson and Lance Anderson
  • "Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith" (20th Century Fox) Dave Elsey and Nikki Gooley

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
  • "Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features) Gustavo Santaolalla
  • "The Constant Gardener" (Focus Features) Alberto Iglesias
  • "Memoirs of a Geisha" (Sony Pictures Releasing) John Williams
  • "Munich" (Universal and DreamWorks) John Williams
  • "Pride & Prejudice" (Focus Features) Dario Marianelli

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
  • "In the Deep" from "Crash" (Lions Gate) [Music by Kathleen "Bird" York and Michael Becker; Lyric by Kathleen "Bird" York]
  • "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from "Hustle & Flow" (Paramount Classics, MTV Films and New Deal Entertainment) [Music and Lyric by Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman and Paul Beauregard]
  • "Travelin' Thru" from "Transamerica" (The Weinstein Company and IFC Films) [Music and Lyric by Dolly Parton]

Best motion picture of the year
  • "Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features) [A River Road Entertainment Production; Diana Ossana and James Schamus, Producers]
  • "Capote" (UA/Sony Pictures Classics) [An A-Line Pictures/Cooper’s Town/ Infinity Media Production; Caroline Baron, William Vince and Michael Ohoven, Producers]
  • "Crash" (Lions Gate) [A Bob Yari/DEJ/Blackfriar's Bridge/ Harris Company/ApolloProscreen GmbH & Co./Bull's Eye Entertainment Production; Paul Haggis and Cathy Schulman, Producers]
  • "Good Night, and Good Luck." (Warner Independent Pictures) [A Good Night Good Luck LLC Production; Grant Heslov, Producer]
  • "Munich" (Universal and DreamWorks) [A Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures Production; Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg and Barry Mendel, Producers]

Best animated short film
  • "Badgered" [A National Film and Television School Production; Sharon Colman]
  • "The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation" [A John Canemaker Production; John Canemaker and Peggy Stern]
  • "The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello" (Monster Distributes) [A 3D Films Production; Anthony Lucas]
  • "9" [A Shane Acker Production; Shane Acker]
  • "One Man Band" [A Pixar Animation Studios Production; Andrew Jimenez and Mark Andrews]

Best live action short film
  • "Ausreisser (The Runaway)" [A Hamburg Media School, Filmwerkstatt Production; Ulrike Grote]
  • "Cashback" (The British Film Institute) [A Left Turn Films Production; Sean Ellis and Lene Bausager]
  • "The Last Farm" [A Zik Zak Filmworks Production; Runar Runarsson and Thor S. Sigurjonsson]
  • "Our Time Is Up" [A Station B Production; Rob Pearlstein and Pia Clemente]
  • "Six Shooter" (Sundance Film Channel) [A Missing in Action Films and Funny Farm Films Production; Martin McDonagh]

Achievement in sound editing
  • "King Kong" (Universal) Mike Hopkins and Ethan Van der Ryn
  • "Memoirs of a Geisha" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Wylie Stateman
  • "War of the Worlds" (Paramount and DreamWorks) Richard King

Achievement in sound mixing
  • "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (Buena Vista) [Terry Porter, Dean A. Zupancic and Tony Johnson]
  • "King Kong" (Universal) [Christopher Boyes, Michael Semanick, Michael Hedges and Hammond Peek]
  • "Memoirs of a Geisha" (Sony Pictures Releasing) [Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell, Rick Kline and John Pritchett]
  • "Walk the Line" (20th Century Fox) [Paul Massey, D.M. Hemphill and Peter F. Kurland]
  • "War of the Worlds" (Paramount and DreamWorks) [Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer and Ronald Judkins]

Achievement in visual effects
  • "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (Buena Vista) [Dean Wright, Bill Westenhofer, Jim Berney and Scott Farrar]
  • "King Kong" (Universal) [Joe Letteri, Brian Van't Hul, Christian Rivers and Richard Taylor]
  • "War of the Worlds" (Paramount and DreamWorks) [Dennis Muren, Pablo Helman, Randal M. Dutra and Daniel Sudick]

Adapted screenplay
  • "Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features) [Screenplay by Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana]
  • "Capote" (UA/Sony Pictures Classics) [Screenplay by Dan Futterman]
  • "The Constant Gardener" (Focus Features) [Screenplay by Jeffrey Caine]
  • "A History of Violence" (New Line) [Screenplay by Josh Olson]
  • "Munich" (Universal and DreamWorks) [Screenplay by Tony Kushner and Eric Roth]

Original screenplay
  • "Crash" (Lions Gate) [Screenplay by Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco; Story by Paul Haggis]
  • "Good Night, and Good Luck." (Warner Independent Pictures) [Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov]
  • "Match Point" (DreamWorks) [Written by Woody Allen]
  • "The Squid and the Whale" (Samuel Goldwyn Films and Sony Pictures Releasing) [Written by Noah Baumbach]
  • "Syriana" (Warner Bros.) [Written by Stephen Gaghan]
(pictures from Reuters and IMDb)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Saving Penang Free School

For the past few days, I've been repeatedly introduced to an online forum created by a (group of) young Old Free(s) to highlight the recent problems faced by our alma mater, Penang Free School and hopefully garner enough support to make things right again. To be fair, this is not the first time such an effort has been initiated by an Old Free and I truly doubt it will be the last one either.

Every now and then, the school will face some daunting challenges but so far, she has succeeded in weathering the storm mostly unscathed and emerge stronger even. This time however, her enemies are a tougher lot and bent on destroying her (literally). Without a concerted effort to fight this menace, it will be quite an impossible task indeed overcoming these challenges.

I applaud such efforts to ensure our alma mater does not wither from existence, especially not without a fight. However, it is important to do it the right way and to fight the right battles. I did mention in the comments of one of my earlier posts that I cannot take the forum seriously. One of the reasons being the forum does not require you to be a member before replying. Of course your IP address is being logged and all even if you reply as a guest but it does not reflect a forum that is serious about handling the issues at hand with members who are articulate, mature and responsible enough to voice their opinions confidently without fear or prejudice. I mean come on, who can take a forum seriously when you have people with nicks such as doink, fuckface and ihatefreesnow?

I understand visitors to the forum might want to remain anonymous for apparent reasons but it's people like these with the type of comments they make that actually discredit the efforts of the majority who are serious at tackling the problems. The moderator might have other ideas in mind and opted for a more open forum instead which I totally understand. Not everyone enjoys being restricted in such a way and that might actually scare many away from commenting which will also defeat the purpose of the forum.

I actually feel at home when I'm at the forum because not often are you able to read in forums members who are able to articulate their views so well. I guess birds of a feather do flock together, no? It is obvious the comments did come from Old Frees who are of rationale minds and mature enough to discuss the issues professionally. This will truly help the cause in a lot of ways.

Initially when I visited the forum when it was at its infancy, some of the comments were just posted out of anger and really not helpful. They focused on the wrong issues. They chose to fight the wrong battles. They were barking up the wrong tree. I actually lost hope that this could actually turn out to be a credible challenge to the menace at the The Grand Old Lady now but I still left a window of opportunity open, hoping others who would later discover this forum will not follow the same route as some of the early birds. My patience did pay off soon enough as people started to grasp the crux of the situation and realise the real battle lies elsewhere (with the help of some of my proxies though).

Some battles are meant for us to fight and some for others to fight. We have to pick the right battles in order to triumph. As Old Frees, the hair and badge issue is not one for us to fight. That should be left to the current Frees to do battle. It does not concern us at all and we will not be of any help whatsoever if we were to get involved however hurt or insulted we are concerning the issue. We might actually hurt their efforts instead! Same goes to the parking issue. We are only outsiders when it comes to such matters. We can offer our advice and moral support but we can't fight the battle for them. Who are we to get involved? We have to choose the right battles and the decline of Penang Free School as a premier school is one battle we can fight on. The mismanagement of the school will be our battleground. The dessecration of school traditions can also be an area of contention if it affects the school negatively. The alleged racial discrimination is definitely a major battle we can fight against. We have to choose to fight the right battles if we intend to win.

The actual reason behind the implementation of all these silly rules and regulations is quite simple but many just do not see it. The school administration is on a warpath with the Board of Prefects and they are bent on making them worthless in the school through the implementation of such rules. The Board has been a pebble in their shoe for a very long time now and finally they have struck hard to get rid of the irritant. They had tried many times to quash the supremacy of the Board of Prefects but failed time and again. In recent years however, they have finally made inroads.

In my time as a school prefect, the school had planned to implement the hair ruling on TWO different occasions. How is it then that the students still managed to enjoy long luscious hair until recently? It is all down to the Board of Prefects standing up on behalf of the students to voice their concerns over the ruling and succeeded on both occasions that Penang Free School students was able to keep their hair although the school administration was very insistent on pushing forward. We struck hard and fast that word did not even manage to get out that such a ruling was planned for implementation.

It is only right that the prefects stood up to protect the welfare of the students since they are representatives of the students, no? Students just fail to see such behind the door scenes and we are always lambasted to be proxies of the school administration and bent on making the schooling lives of students as miserable as possible. How wrong they were. How short-sighted they were. Shouldn't the students be happy now that the prefects are powerless? So powerless that they are unable to do anything now? After all, this is what they had wished for all this while, no? Ironic isn't it that after finally achieving their ultimate goal of seeing prefects powerless, they realise it's not what they want after all! A bit too late, no?

Penang Free School has always been known for its student leaders and I truly believe the nurturing of capable student leaders is the best sustainable way to return our alma mater to its former glory. It's the best way to ensure the school will remain competitive and in good hands. It's the passion and love of Frees that keep the school spirit alive to this day. It's this very passion and love for the school that will ensure her enemies are kept at bay and the interests of the school served at all times. As such, I call upon the teachers, students and Old Frees to realise the importance of nurturing student leaders, the importance of not restricting them in what they do, the importance of giving them trust and freedom at being able to manage things while being their guiding light, the importance of cultivating the true Frees spirit.

A good first step would be to reestablish the Board of Prefects as what they should be. It is after all the epitome of student leadership in every school, no? Let's start realising the real issues at hand and start fighting the right battles. Let's ensure the Saving Penang Free School campaign does not end up to be just another Saving Private Ryan campaign. I just hope it is still not too late although the forum is already getting less and less active by the day. Let's return the Frees spirit to where it belongs, in the hearts and soul of all Frees, be it students, teachers, parents, staff or administrators. Fortis Atque Fidelis.

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