Yup, It’s Getting Weirder


Parking

(Some things are not weird like the way people like to park their cars, it is just a result of people not taking the time and care to do the right things)

It must be the insane weather, I am very sure – it has been raining cats & dogs for past weeks and yet it feels like one is sitting in a sauna at night. My daughter fared worse, despite having 2 fans and occasionally the air-conditioner switched on, she was sweating like she had just done a 10 km marathon.

Or perhaps it is something we have been drinking (or sniffing), I don’t know. Perhaps it was due to our overzealous with being the righteous one that some of us can see the end is near. Whatever the reason maybe, things are just getting weirder in this country.

Just the other day, I was at Tesco and I decided to go the customer service counter as I wanted to load up. I saw a foreigner at the counter topping up his prepaid and he was paying the RM10 top up with shillings, mostly with 10 & 20 cents. As if the rest of us have plenty of time to spare, I waited for the guy behind the counter to take his time to count the money. Then I noticed an African lady standing next to me and then jumping queue, she asked the staff at the counter on how to apply for a Tesco loyalty card.

It was weird when the staff asked this lady (who was obviously a foreigner) in Bahasa Malaysia on what she wanted. The lady was confused and did not understand the question (for obvious reason, duh). She explained in English and yet the staff at the counter keep talking back to her in Bahasa Malaysia. Of course, watching this from the side, I was wondering myself what the fuck is happening. That was very weird indeed. One should be color blind to race but one cannot be that blind.

Things were getting weird indeed. So, it was not a big surprise when earlier, the whole nation was reading this nonsense in the headlines:-

A group of about 50 residents staged a peaceful protest against a new church in Taman Medan fearing proselytization after the church’s congregation had put up a cross on the building.

The Star Online reported that the group had gathered at the church at about 10am earlier today while Sunday mass was going on, claiming that putting up a cross in a Malay-majority area challenged Islam and could influence young Muslims

(Source)

And soon after this incident, there was plenty of hoo-haa and blah-blah and by now, this has become an old trivial story. Of course something like this bound to happen when you mix religion, politics and a good dose of stupidity into the grinder and end up with a messy outcome.

Think of the 2 main arguments put forward by the mob?

One that the church has a cross on its wall and the other is that it will “easily” influence young Muslims. I dare not venture into further latter argument that one can easily be influenced by either the other religions / beliefs / arguments making more sense OR their understanding, embrace and thoughts of their own present religion is so bloody shaky that seeing an image on a wall will change your belief in seconds. Pick a reason and go back to your corner. I mean no one stopping you from being outraged if others challenged you in your beliefs but come on, you need to be fair and reasonable too.

unity-pendant-3

(Symbols are nothing new in religion – each of them have its own meaning, history and place. Image source: http://www.stevemcswain.com)

Let’s relook into the former – that a church has a cross on its wall and that is so wrong. Well, that must have been one of the many dumbest statements that politicians that had made so far this year. What is a church without its cross? What is a Hindu temple without the notable OM symbol? Or a Buddhist temple without the famed Swastika? And of course, what is a mosque without the moon & the star? Interestingly we had walked on this very same path almost 10 years ago when some group contented that a cross on cookies a threat to Islam. It looks like we did not matured enough after all these years.

And whilst it has generated quite amount of comments on this issue, one that stood out with the right strike on the nail has to be this from Fake Malaysia News:-

“I think Christians are well aware it is forbidden to go around proselytizing to Muslims,” said an onlooker, “but they need to take more responsibility for their activities and ensure their churches are clearly marked.”

“If only there was some kind of Christian symbol they could display on the Church to warn Muslims so that they stay away!”

(Source)

Then we had more weird things happening at the famed tourist spot in the city. We had a rather unexpected public strip tease over a meal:-

The Sabah woman who stripped to avoid paying for her meal in Petaling Street on Thursday was high on syabu and had no recollection of what she did. The 32-year-old woman has since been identified as a model and beauty pageant contestant who had appeared on TV reality programmes.

The woman claimed she did not remember her strip tease at the restaurant and strutting down belligerently along Petaling Street, said Dang Wangi OCPD Assistant Commissioner Zainol Samah said yesterday.

(Source)

At first, I was thinking it was a foreigner who may not feel shame going topless in public (maybe she was feeling hot under the weather) but interestingly with the power of the internet at one’s finger tips, it was not long before someone sent me the woman’s school days and past modelling photos. A good looking lady who could have held the world in her hands but some how ended on the wrong side of the law and high on drugs. It’s a pity indeed and perhaps one of the many tragic stories in this country .

Of course nothing beats the scale of weirdness that surrounds the political world in this country. Never mind the on-going spate between Dr M and Najib which has been rather one sided – Dr M shooting off all the valid questions but only to get the minions responding back with bizarre responses. There has been only been too many implication of misadventures under Najib’s administrations from the over paid consultants, too frequent overseas trips, rather over lavish lifestyle and expenditures and the list seems to be continuing. And the silence by the PM remains an indication that not all things are going all too well.

And now it is getting worse with the latest expose from Sarawak Report (the localised wikileaks and one that have been digging up a lot of information):-

Investigators into the Malaysian development fund 1MDB’s 2009 joint venture with the company PetroSaudi International have concluded that the partnership lied to its banks and Bank Negara Malaysia.

The papers in Sarawak Report’s possession show that the investigators have identified at least three separate occasions on which these and other transgressions were made, which appear worthy of prosecution.

(Source)

If these news are false, it is strange why 1MDB have not sued Sarawak Report for the matter and put a lid on all these uneasiness for once and for all? If we have been living in another country, well, never mind let’s not go there. For now, let’s just blame the weather for all things going weird in this country.

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Playing with Semantics


If you had blinked, they would have shoved it in your….oh, you get the idea

(Unbelievable! Sometimes you really, really need to read in-between the lines especially when it comes from the local politicians. Image source: http://rulingsnarl.wordpress.com/)

Never mind, just read these very slowly:-

Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil will step down as Minister of Women, Family and Community Development when her term as Dewan Negara member ends on April 8. The decision was made after giving it much thought, she said. “I want to do the right thing. I think for me now, the right thing is to leave my post as a Cabinet Minister. The time has come.

(Source)

And

Despite overwhelming opposition against the controversial Board of Computing Professionals Malaysia (BCPM) Bill, the government is still convinced it has support. More than two-thirds of the groups surveyed by the ministry did not approve of the bill. “The number of official feedbacks was 70, received from both individuals and organisations. 29% supported the proposed Bill, but nonetheless, this number may not reflect the overall segment of the ICT (information and communications technology) community,” the ministry said in a statement.

(Source)

Shahrizat said she is doing the right thing and she said that she did this after “giving it much thought”. But is she? If you have read it well in between the lines, she is not really resigning. Do you voluntarily tender your resignation on the day you retire from work or the day you are fired from work? Yes? No? If you do that, don’t you think you would look incredibly stupid? And it seems like that is the same case here.

You want to resign? You resign immediately – not 1 week from now and certainly not 3 weeks from now. In the political world, you don’t have to give the usual 1 month notice. So, with the end of her Senatorship, her Ministership ends automatically as well. It is crystal clear – even her former boss echoes the same thing:-

Former Wanita Umno head Tan Sri Rafidah feels that Datuk Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s announcement of stepping down as Family and Community Development Minister sounds hollow. “There is no issue of stepping down or resigning!” Rafidah said. “There is nothing to step down from as she is legally no longer a Minister on April 8. “She is not resigning on April 8, it is just that her Senatorship expires that day and her Ministerial post automatically lapses.” Calling Shahrizat’s quit announcement as a “sham of a statement”, Rafidah said resigning meant Shahrizat should quit immediately – while she was still a Senator.

(Source)

And for a person who was somehow linked to the mismanagement of public funds amounting to millions of Ringgit and refused to accept responsibility and refused to heed the calls to resign immediately, what rights they to use words like sacrifice and doing the right thing.

Then there is the news that the Government still expecting full support on its controversial Board of Computing Professionals Malaysia (BCPM) Bill but hold your horses there. Didn’t they also said that “more than two-thirds of the groups surveyed by the ministry did not approve of the bill”? With almost 71% opposition to the Bill from the industry, would you say that there is support? I don’t know – the official 70 feedback was too small to be considered as a valid size, I may agree and perhaps with a wider scope of response, things may be different. But with 71% opposition, one should not make say that they have the support to continue – the opposition is simply overwhelming.

But then again, when is playing with semantics, anything is possible…

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Mindef Translation vs Proper English


(Countdown – 343 days to “doomsday”)

Well, it is rather embarrassing indeed.

Unspun, well known Indonesian blogger writes:-

There was once upon a time when it was universally accepted that Malaysian had a better command of the English language than Indonesians.

It wasn’t arrogance then, just a fact of life because of Malaysia’s British colonial history. For all the sins of the Brits Malaysians could be grateful to them for leaving behind an efficient civil service and a love for the Queen’s English.

But much has changed since those days. The hypocrite Mahathir Mohamad, in trying to display his nationalistic credentials changed the medium of instruction in schools from English to Malay. That, and other misguided nationalistic sentiments since then has seen the steady deterioration of the use of English among Malaysians.

One can safely argue that a certain work ethic also went out the window with the need to learn and master a language. So it seemed inevitable when Malaysia’s Ministry of Defense was red-faced recently because the language skills were so bad that they relied on Google Translate to render their copy into English.

And if one thinks that the worse is over, Nuraina A Samad further writes:-

In fact, the entire English version of its website – as of 12 noon today – is in BM. As a way of “explaining”, you’ll find the articles and writings with a preceding note: There are no translations available.

Perhaps, it’s still being done manually as explained by its minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Hard work, I reckon. What gives, man? Google translation all this while? I suggest the ministry gets the right people to do the job…Kalau tidak, one word: Malu (shame).

As much as we want to promote and defend the national language (which is a must for national unity and national identity), we seemed to have missed the greater point of the need to learn and master one of the main languages in the world – English.

For those who still arguing on using Bahasa Malaysia over the more widely used English on everything you touch, well blame it on our ancestors – they failed to wise up, start the all important Industrial Revolution, build huge & powerful army and go and colonise other countries in a larger scale. If they have done, the Americans and the Indians would have been speaking fluent Bahasa instead of English right now.

Unfortunately that did not happen – too bad for those who dislike learning and speaking in English. So whether you like it or not, the English language is here to stay and I think we need not go to the argument of why mastering the English language is very crucial in a global village these days.

And unfortunately despite the overwhelming merits, we have gone the other way and made things worse in this country – we have fooled ourselves and the future generations by deciding to teach Science and Mathematics in Bahasa Malaysia instead of the widely used English, setting off another set of problems. There is already a lack of Science & Mathematics books in Bahasa Malaysia. It seems like we may not have the right people and resources (at least in short term) to do accurate translation from English to Bahasa (or are we going to use Google Translate for that too?). The impact of this in the near future on our standard of English and the mastery of Science and Mathematics is yet to be seen (thank God for the Discovery channel for a way out).

There is nothing wrong with Ministry of Defence relying on Google Translate for the translation of webpages in Bahasa to English. But the thing is, even if one had used Google Translate for ease of translating the many webpages, surely someone in their right mind would have at least read the translated pages once, just to make sure that translation does not turn out wrong or false.

Unspun in his follow up post titled “Did Malaysia’s Defense Minister frame Google?” reported this:-

Malaysia’s Defense Minister Ahmad Zahidi Hamid, whose Ministry became the laughing stock in Malaysia because of the use of outlandish English translations on its website (e.g. Menjolok mata = poke eye) blamed Google Translate for the mistakes.

Really?

Blogger Uppercaise further asks – was Google at fault, or the ministry? Was the defence minister telling the truth, or trying to pass blame to others? This table (sourced from Uppercaise) consists of a few examples and it is evident that something is not right with the Minister blaming Google:-

The embarrassment with the wrong translation at Mindef is possibly a tip of the iceberg. What about the rest of the public administration – starting from the lowest level of public servant and all the way to the top – Ministers and Heads of Departments and CEOs. Just how many of the politicians heading key positions in the Government can really speak and write good English? Still remember this bullshit:-

However, he was forced to resign as Selangor Mentri Besar in April 1997 after he was charged in Australia over currency irregularities amounting to RM3.8mil. However, he was later found not guilty. Muhammad Muhammad Taib was cleared by the court as he pleaded that he did not understand English and therefore did not understand the currency regulations. However, in a later development, an investigative committee found that the court had erred in its judgment.

If he was not punished for the dubious RM3.8 million, given the fact that he was once the head of a state government, he certainly should have been punished for claiming not knowing English language when traveling to a country where the main language is English. Perhaps in the near future, when a politician proposes to run for public office, other than the usual meeting the minimum codes of ethics, they must be speak and write Bahasa and English well – no more Bahasa pasar, Manglish and half-cooked languages.

In the meantime, hopefully this embarrassing incident will pass over soon and Mindef is more cautious when it comes to translations in future and engages and trains its people in the proper use of the language.

And oh yes, next time when the Ministry screws up things, please don’t do any cover-ups – just admit that there is a weakness and work on a real solution to overcome them. The world is not so dumb as it used to be.

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The Unexpected Mission


(All for the love of writing a good story – Image source: http://101reasonstostopwriting.com)

“….He knew that he was asking a very hypothetical question. He knew what would be the consequences if he does not deliver. Deepak did not say anything but instead he stood up and put his hand on John’s shoulder. He just looked at John, smiled and said that he will be contacted in one week’s time or perhaps sooner, depending on what John is doing to get his money. Deepak said John will be of course, watched at all times, just to make sure that the police are not involved in this.

Deepak walked away and John was left still sitting down at his place. John took out the paper and looked at the list again. Two of the banks listed are located in Accra, one in the New York and two more in Malaysia. It is not going to be easy to arrange for the transfer of the money within a week especially the banks are located in three different countries and governed by three different banking rules…”

The Unexpected Mission is the title of my entry for the 2009’s NaNoWriMo and it has taken me about 11 months (in between my regular work and my laziness to open the file to complete it) to complete the short novel (with revisions to style, grammar, spelling mistakes, expansion of the nameless characters and additional twist to the story). The final tally is a short novel of 50,203 words (ya, delete quite load of them especially the x-rated part), covering over 93 pages.

I had intended to publish it once the rough edges of my book has been cleaned out – after all, since I put a lot of sleepless night into the story, the last thing I want to see is it collecting “dust” in my laptop folder.

But recently as I went shopping for new books, I realised something – a 93 page story is going to end as a really short story. 93 pages was nothing in the novel world. So, I looked back at my “piece” and I realise why some good novelist can write a really thick book (they write good stuff there and not for the sake of getting the book thick). They expand on the current storyline – perhaps with some sub-plots, explanation and further expansion of the characters. It ends up something brilliant.

And as I went through my 2009 NaNoWriMo entry – I realise that there is plenty of “holes” in the storyline. The main storyline and the main characters are there but sub-plots were missing and some of the background actions were not explained properly. So, whilst it is good to complete the 50,000 words finishing line within the NaNoWriMo month (it is not an easy task considering that 81% of the participants did not finish the 50,000 words finishing line) but to make sure that the storyline is tight and interesting, it is better to put more time and effort.

So, I am holding back the “publication” of the 2009 NaNoWriMo entry for now – there is plenty of time to improve on my “masterpiece” (as least, that is what I see them as). Another 2 weeks and I will be busy with my entry for 2010’s NaNoWriMo entry (title yet to be confirmed but I have some plots in mind) and perhaps another 11 months, fine-tuning the content.

15 days and counting…

Terminologies 101


(You just need something high tech words for a whole new meaning for something common. Image source: http://www.angryspec.com)

Had this IM conversation with a buddy of mine couple days ago…

Buddy: I need some clarifications

Buddy: Does this system come under private or core banking?

(Questions like this often take me off guard – how do you define “private”? It means different thing to different people. Private means what? It is something to do with corporate customers or personal or exclusive that some banks promotes to high income customers or is it something shrouded in secrecy? Banking is one thing but use of system is another – depending of services provided, the system can be used in both type of banking. So I asked…)

Me: Well, it depends…on the services provided by the bank

(I was waiting for some clues but it did not come)

Buddy: Ok

Buddy: Is Trade Finance can be considered part of wealth management?

(This time I have to ask the obvious question – what defines wealth management? Once again, wealth management means whole load different thing to different things. If I am lawyer, it can also means will and estate management. To a banker or money managers, probably means management of long deposits. To stock brokers, shares or unit trusts and you can go on and on)

Me: What is under wealth management?

(I was hoping for something more descriptive but this is what I got)

Buddy: In the banks, there is a section called wealth management, right?

(Not the bank I used to work at or the banks that I have visited. No doubt they have departments or divisions that handle and manage wealth portfolios but the border on what defines wealth management is rather “blur” at this point. I mean when you can have Islamic banking that looks a whole load like the conventional banking with some minor changes to the terminologies and perhaps calculations and still call it Islamic way of doing banking, what more of other areas of banking? If I am the CEO of the bank, I can wake up one fine morning and decide to call my fixed deposit facility as wealth management – no one will make any noise. So I decided to throw in a terminology of my own)

Me: Is it related to equity “301” management?

(Ya, there is no such thing as equity “301” management – I was pulling a fast one and I expected my buddy to ask – what is equity “301” management so I can explain something on terminologies but that simply fizzled out. Probably he understood where I was coming from with that last question – there were no further questions from him)

NaNoWriMo 2010


NaNoWriMo 2010 is still 3 months away…

(It is not easy to do a NaNoWriMo but once you have started, you are in an exciting ride. Cartoon source: http://theideagirlsays.wordpress.com. Copyright @ 2006 Debbie Ridpath Ohi)

I have been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2008 and thus far, the experience has been one heck of a ride. Imagine the pressure of doing up 50,000 words in 30 days – where one can find the time to write down 50,000 words when you have very little time for work, family and pleasure. It is a good challenge for anyone (not necessarily for good writers).

And worldwide, numbers of people participating in NaNoWriMo have been growing too:-

1999: 21 participants and six winners
2000: 140 participants and 29 winners
2001: 5,000 participants and more than 700 winners
2002: 13,500 participants and around 2,100 winners
2003: 25,500 participants and about 3,500 winners
2004: 42,000 participants and just shy of 6,000 winners
2005: 59,000 participants and 9,769 winners
2006: 79,000 participants and 13,000 winners
2007: 101,510 participants and 15,333 winners
2008: 119,301participants and 21,683 winners
2009: 167,150 participants and 32,178 winners

(Source)

Thus far, things have been almost smooth for me to come up with a rough story for 50,000 words within a month and spend the next 11 months to fine tune the story.

In 2008, I wrote “The Malayan U Boat” but about 2 months before NaNoWriMo 2009, only then I started to work on my 2008 draft and finally published it in November 2009 (almost a whole full year after I started). I could have started on the fine tuning works earlier but I was lazy.

In 2009, after I have completed my draft titled “The Unexpected Mission”, I promised myself not to make the same mistake that I did in 2008. Fast forward to 2010, unfortunately my 2009 draft remained as a draft although I managed to start on editing work on the draft on an ad-hoc basis.

Fortunately recently I managed to get more free time to work on my second NaNoWriMo and I am almost 80% complete with the first review. Another few more days, I should with the rest and start with my second review of the content, well ahead of the NaNoWriMo 2010.

Whilst I am still on this topic, to my readers and fellow bloggers, how about it? Want to join me in NaNoWriMo 2010? Want to take up the challenge and see whether you can cross the 50,000 words line within a month?

The best part of NaNoWriMo is that you can write on anything topic (not necessarily on a story) and you can go on your own pace. There is no penalty for failing to finish at the “finishing line” – after all, doesn’t the best part of the journey is the journey itself?

Read here on how NaNoWriMo works and if you think you are up to it, register yourself here and join me in NaNoWriMo 2010!

Wash vs Rinse


(Frankly speaking, I rather opt for a power wash. Image source: http://jennifermccolm.com)

Wash

1.
a. To cleanse, using water or other liquid, usually with soap, detergent, or bleach, by immersing, dipping, rubbing, or scrubbing: wash one’s hands; wash windows.
b. To soak, rinse out, and remove (dirt or stain) with or as if with water: wash grease out of overalls.
2. To make moist or wet; drench: Tears washed the child’s cheeks.
3. To flow over, against, or past: waves that washed the sandy shores.
4. To carry, erode, remove, or destroy by the action of moving water: Heavy rains washed the topsoil away.

Rinse

1. To wash lightly with water.
2. To remove (soap, for example) by washing lightly in water.

(Source: http://www.thefreedictionary.com)

I was just wondering whether the water knows the difference between crap and “the evidence”. In case you are wondering what I am talking about, read this