Wednesday, April 6, 2016

There is no question on Penang

In the midst of Lim Guan Eng house-buying controversy, opportunist Ridhuan Tee urged that Penang be restored to Kedah. It appears clear that he has a sinister agenda. A remark that touches on the bottom line of Penangnites is unacceptable.
There is no denial that Penang was once part of the Sultanate of Kedah. Kedah ceded Penang Island to the British East India Company in a treaty signed 1786, in exchange for military assistance from the latter. When Kedah was attacked by Siam, Francis Light failed to provide military assistance that was promised earlier, thus dishonouring the treaty. Kedah tried to retake Penang in 1790 but was defeated.
The British East India Company, as the victor, dictated the terms of the 1791 treaty. In the 1791 treaty, the Sultan of Kedah cede Penang Island to the Company for an honorarium. The British East India Company took Seberang Prai in 1802 for an increased honorarium. An honorarium is a payment which the giver has no legal obligation to do so. There is no question that treaties signed between Kedah and the Company were unequal treaties.
The political reality is, Penang and Seberang Prai went under separate governance since Kedah ceded it to the British East India Company. Penang’s status was changed to Straits Settlements, then came under direct British rule as a Crown Colony in 1867. The handling of Kedah to British in the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 did not change the reality of separate governance. Kedah became an Unfederated Malay State and Penang a Crown Colony.
Today, in the Constitution of Malaysia, Article 1 enshrined that Penang and Kedah are two separate states, and territories of the states can only be altered by Parliament with the consent of the respective states. Penang and Kedah are two sovereign equals as part of Malaysia.
The Penangnites have worked hard to develop Penang into a vibrant city-state today. Penang has her own values distinct from her neighbouring state. Terms of the treaties that have been executed are done, so there is no turning back. The call for Penang to return to Kedah is reflective of the pre-Independence mentality. There is no reason for Kedah to reclaim Penang today. 
There is no question on the status of Penang. There is no question of territorial integrity in Peninsular Malaysia. Anyone attempting to undermine the status of Penang goes against the Constitution and can be held guilty of sedition.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day 2016

Today is Valentine's Day, so what to talk about? Hmm....

I'm still single as of now. Don't blame me for not having a partner now, but rejoice because I have a place available in my heart.

Whenever Chinese New Year comes, relatives will bombard me with questions of getting a girlfriend. I'm so annoyed with the question so much so that this question has become a taboo topic for the festive seasons.

There is no use in trying to force two incompatible people together because in the end it will just..... NOT WORK. I've even tried it myself and got hurt, because something that doesn't work will not work in the end.

I went up to the net to read stories of how incompatible people got married due to pressure from parents, only to fall apart later. I've read of how friends and relatives introducing prospective mates only to find that relationship didn't develop further. One can meet so many prospective mates and not meeting someone that suits one's heart.

A relationship must have a good foundation to start. There must be a basis for relationship for it to work.

It's said that the best person to marry are those you know since young. You grew up with them and got familiar with their strengths and flaws.

When I was younger I was so eager to get a girlfriend. Just yesterday I checked my Facebook for a down memory lane. I checked out the girls I've grown interested during high school. This feeling came to me. Now, I actually complain that they no longer look young as before. A relative of mine told me the same.

Every man will have it: prefer younger women. I was young when I first heard it, and it has kicked in when I started looking at my favourite idol group A Pink. I was 24 at that time.

Guess what? I'm looking at TWICE, an idol group debuted not long ago. All members are younger than me, the eldest is 6 years and the youngest member is 10 years my junior. They have the youth I'm looking for! To date, I haven't meet any girl like that in my personal circle. Yeah, I have gone through dry spells.

I can't believe that I'm looking at girls 10 years younger than me in K-pop videos.

There are such people in my university but to find love is not easy.

Postgraduate dating pool is just too small and the people too old and not having anyone I desire. Oh, I'm complaining non-stop.

There's this dream from every fan: To marry their favourite celebrity. There are a few success stories that should serve as inspirations for me. I really admire the persistence of Lee Min Ho in courting miss A's Bae Suzy. He repeatedly made requests to Suzy's side, but got turned down a few times. He had strong interest in Suzy and finally he got it!

It's obsessive of a fan to make such a wish, but it's possible right? :)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

MINX's Yoohyeon is your crazy 4D girl

I am now so in love with TWICE just like my partner at MINX Philippines fanbase. TWICE made us crazy.

TWICE members are known for their dorkiness and craziness. Nayeon is dubbed the successor of A Pink's Bomi for craziness. I knew that so much about Bomi's gorilla move already.

Months ago I discovered this group called MINX. They're a bunch of crazy girls too. I see that a lot through their web series, MINX Play. They're a genuine bunch of people made so relatable to us. I can see that the concept between TWICE and MINX is incredibly similar. MINX states that theirs is a mischievous tomboy concept.

It took me a bit of exploration and luck to discover MINX, and I struck gold. Now my job is to convince you I've found a piece of gold. I opened MINX Malaysia on Facebook for that.

Many idols can sing. That's my first pass. Next comes concept. I'm into looking at cute girls.

There I have it! MINX is a cute group. To top it off, they're based on the mischievous girl concept. I don't need to see anymore innocent groups for the time being. We have A Pink, Lovelyz and G-friend for that.

These days, MINX wanted to show us their hardworking side so they uploaded Minx Practice instead of Minx Play. They wanted us to see THEY CAN.

Yoohyeon showcased her vocal prowess in her cover of Urban Zakapa's "Drinking Coffee". No doubt she's the lead singer of MINX. Fans praised her for being such a angel in real life. And indeed she can be dim witted at times.

Whenever I give my photocard people were puzzled why MINX was never heard before. I should just answer, this is my proud discovery and you should check it out. Haha.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

TWICE 트와이스, reverse driving and how K-pop chart works


TWICE's debut song "Like Ooh Ahh" climbed back up on the charts [1,2] and got to do another round of promotions on music shows. How excited I am when I heard that!

After three weeks of promotion, it seemed that Like Ooh Ahh would fall off the charts. But for some reason, the song climbed back up to 9th place 75 days after releaase. It occupied 10th place twice, on November 10 and then December 26. On January 9 the song is now 1st place contender for SBS Inkigayo.

This is a phenomenon called reverse driving. It happened to EXID one year ago and now it's happening to TWICE. Artists can be called back mandatorily by music programs for climbing back up the charts.

Thanks to ONCEs, TWICE had reverse driving through conventional means. That's also because of a 'vacuum' left on music charts. EXID's case was a more extreme case: months after they finished promoting their track, they shot back all due to a viral fancam.

Now we should treat TWICE 트와이스 for a first place on music shows shall we?


How the music chart shows of South Korea work is shrouded in mystery to most fans.

The K-pop and music industry is a saturated and competitive field. Artists consists of more than just idols. There are many types of singers competing for the limited space available on music program.

How limited are spaces available on music programs? There are six major music chart programs - SBS-MTV The Show, KBS Music Bank, MBC Show Champion, MBC Music Core, Mnet M! Countdown, SBS Inkigayo. Each show airs for around 1 and a half hour weekly and has space for 20 songs. Each artist promotes for 1 month except for special stages.

The space available for music programs is scarce and choosing which artist to promote is a fundamental problem that must be answered by TV stations.

In the age of Web 2.0, the decision to promote artists is partially democratized. The distribution company (like 1theK, CJE&M, KT Music) uploads the MV on Youtube and music streaming sites. The song is immediately logged onto the music charts, though the information is not shown to the public. When a song reaches a certain popularity, consideration can be made for artists to promote on music chart shows.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

TWICE member comparison chart and the family book confusion

How long has TWICE debuted? Not very long is my short answer. Describing their popularity shot up like a rocket blasting into space is not an exaggeration.

I've had so much of their debut song Like Ooh-Ahh - (Ooh-Ahh 하게) in their MV, dance practice and regular music shows - countless videos alraedy. The amazing fact is I never grow tired of it.

They become popular enough to be featured on Weekly Idol. Based on information from the show, someone (Instagram: @jihyo.twice) compiled a chart comparing members of TWICE.

The chart is a good summary of the show, and a very valuable piece of infographic indeed!

The obvious question is of course, the age of the members. The maker stated that "Jihyo (early 97-liner) is friends with 96-liners but Mina born in the next month considers Jihyo as a more senior person". So, why are Mina and Jihyo who are born in the same year are treated differently? And it appear puzzling that Jihyo treats those born in the previous year as people of her age. It appears that this "family book confusion" has no explanation, and Jihyo is playfully named the culprit.

Let me tell you this. There is an explanation for seniority in K-pop groups and it has to be done from an East Asian perspective. Are you ready?

Seniority in South Korea is calculated based not on the Western calendar but the lunisolar calendar. The lunisolar calendar was invented to mark seasons, each lasting two weeks, to facilitate agricultural activities. That's because China and East Asia in general were agrarian societies in the past. Interestingly, the date of each season is fixed in the Western calendar. The new year in the lunisolar calendar falls on 4th of February [in the Western calendar] each year.

What about the date of Lunar New Year? For the purpose of determining a person's age, the date of Lunar New Year isn't used. The same point has been iterated by Chinese Feng Shui masters for determining Chinese zodiacs.

Now look at the chart again. Jihyo was born on 1st of February 1997 and that puts her in the same rank of seniority to those born in 1996.

Next question: How do I come up with this explanation? First off, I am a Chinese and observe the lunisolar calendar. One fact is, East Asian cultures are very similar to each other because they stem from common roots. There are many things of East Asia that do not make sense from the Western perspective, but make a lot of sense to me. While the job of K-pop news sites is to present news stories, but readers are free to judge the stories from their own cultural perspective, which may not be entirely correct. To judge a story accurately, reading commentaries and opinion pieces may help, and the actual key is to have good understanding of East Asian cultures.

Lastly, I must commend the Koreans for preserving the Confucianist values better than the Chinese.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My song of the year called Me Gustas Tu

I've known G-friend 여자친구 since their debut but it was their second release that really caught my attention. The title song, Me Gustas Tu (Spanish phrase that translates to "I like you") is really an earworm that I got hooked the instant I heard it.

Me Gustas Tu reminds me so much of the innocent concept I'm so used to watching in my girl group taste. Does that remind of A Pink? Yes, certainly. I'm not alone: A satire piece from Asian Junkie remarked how similar Me Gustas Tu is to A Pink and J-pop.

The lyrics of Me Gustas Tu describes the budding love of a girl for a boy and the desire to get together as a a couple.

First off, I started with the MV. I just can't contain the innocent vibe that flows out of the girls.

Me Gustas Tu MV

I like the dance so much too! G-friend is very synchronised in their every move that I think of them as female version of Infinite. Dance moves are very powerful in Me Gustas Tu for this song of innocent concept, and look at how fast the members move across a distance. It's really an upbeat song.

Me Gustas Tu MV dance version

Then I checked out their live performance on various music shows. On the first few stages, I wasn't really satisfied with their stage outfit on the first few shows which I name it one of the worst stage outfit in history ever (source). Talk about firing their fashion coordinator....

You can check out by searching Me Gustas Tu plus either of Music Bank, Music Core, Simply K-pop, Inkigayo, M! Countdown but I'm showing one of the stage here.

Me Gustas Tu live performance at KBS Music Bank (comeback stage, 24th July 2015)

Since the song got popular it's good time to look for people covering the song. Me Gustas Tu is really easy to follow, trust me.

I like this Spanish cover! This is the best one ever!!!

Waveya will always add their sexiness into their dance moves.

I discovered East2West dancing to Me Gustas Tu through suggestions. Look at how the two guys learned the dance so well! Guys can dance to girls' moves!

K-Tiger's Taekwondo version is super impressive that you can't afford to miss it.

This is the bomb! In one of the live performances, slippery stage caused the main singer to fall down up to 6 times on stage. This incident went viral, got reported on international media and also propelled G-friend to another level of fame. Also, thumbs up for the level of professionalism!

Yuju (main singer) fell down repeatedly during performance

The incoming show host for MBC Show! Music Core has chosen to perform this too! G-friend must be so proud to know this. I've replayed this a few times because they rocked the song and also very adorable.

Me Gustas Tu has grown so much on me since its release around July, and I never get tired of it. It's my song of the year, really!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Revisiting Red Alert 2, the classical RTS game I used to play

Some time last week, I spotted my brother playing Red Alert 2 on his gaming rig. So I joined in the fun and watched him play. After that, I played a few games myself with understandings of military tactics I've never tried before. With the new strategy, I managed to finish an easy enemy in around 20 minutes in skirmish mode. Now that's an achievement for me!

I saw the game for the first time watching my uncle playing it in his house. Immediately, I got hooked. The adrenaline rush was simply addicting. Then I bought gaming CD to playing by myself. I was a total beginner back then when I couldn't handle a brutal enemy.

You know, how I miss this game! With my old playing style, it took me hours to secure my base and finish off the computer controlled opponent. I was more fascinated with abilities of units instead of using strategy to win games. When studies took over, my interest in the game died down. A few years later, I revisited the game after gaining some new understandings from my studies and other interests.

I wasn't a big fan of playing missions but friends told me that is the core of the game. I started to appreciate missions in Red Alert 2 after I understood the beauty of storyline in movies/games. I didn't go back to actually playing the missions but there's Youtube, so I watched the playthrough videos from players instead.

If you haven't know about this game, here's a short intro. There are two playable factions in Red Alert 2, which are the Allies (all Western countries plus South Korea) and Soviet (Russia and other communist states). The expansion, Yuri's Revenge, has Allied, Soviet and Yuri as playable factions.

Screenshot of Red Alert 2. Image source

To really understand what the game is all about, it helps to have a good grasp of history and international politics. Real history says that we had World War 2, followed by the Cold War which was the division between capitalist and communist blocs. In the alternate timeline of Red Alert universe, after the real World War 2, Albert Einstein traveled back in time to erase Adolf Hitler from time. Without the rise of Nazi Germany, Russia (Soviets) grew so much in power. This led to the Great World War 2 (Red Alert 1) and Great World War 3 (Red Alert 2). After the end of Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge, some Soviet officers went back in time to erase Albert Einstein from history. So there was no invention of atomic bomb and no bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. And you guess what? By the time the Soviet officers returned to their time, Japan grew so much in power as the Empire of The Rising Sun thus setting the events for Red Alert 3.

Why do you want to play Red Alert 2? It was certainly one of the success of real time strategy (RTS) games. While the actual gameplay forms the core of the experience, the narrative of the game is another driving force behind this game. The narrative of the game is what sets the stage for missions and puts the gameplay in context.

There are indeed some extra stuff I've found, and they are of interest.

The making of Red Alert 2. You can meet the actors who portrayed the characters in the cutscenes.

Watch how Udo Kier, a German actor, is transformed into Yuri in the game. Yuri is a psychic who can mind control enemy units.

Another screenshot of the game. Image source

Red Alert 2 is named one of the best real time strategy and military tactic game in history. It's time to move on and I'm excited to see better games in store!