Monday, December 22, 2014

Being used

At this moment, I have a reason not to feel good. I have been thinking of a recent episode when I felt used by someone.

This person is a high school junior of mine. In my high school, for some reason, I was feeling down. Apart from getting good results, most parts of my high school were bitter memories. Looking back in hindsight, I had friends who cared for me no matter what, but that was also a weak spot for devils to take advantage. He looked like a good friend, but when I was too sad to notice any hidden agenda in him.

I have known him for years. Since returning to Malaysia after I finished my degree, I actually never bothered to contact him. I remembered what he did to me years ago which I wasn't pleased - I shall talk about that episode in another blog post. Just very recently, not long after I started my graduate studies at University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, he messaged me through Facebook to reconnect with me. Perhaps I should forgive him, and give him another chance. I joined him for one activity. After that, he started asking me out for a few of his activities but I did not join.

In an evening, while I was busy with cell culture stuff on campus, he rang me out about an activity that night. That was a last minute call indeed. He mentioned about a medical specialist delivering a talk and wanted me to accompany him. After I finished my cell culture work I made the journey from Semenyih to Sri Petaling.

When I arrived he said what... "You missed the best part [by the speaker]!" I was actually a little offended to hear that, but I kept it to my heart, if he had considered how troublesome it was for me to come on short notice, and the journey I took. Then, I was brought into a seminar room where the talk was held. I was asked to made a payment of a small sum which I wasn't told about - wasn't too happy about it, but I kept my cool largely.

And guess what? The speaker did talk about some valid points about nutrition indeed, but the crux of the matter was to sell me nutritional supplements! The proper name for this kind of "talk" or "seminar" should be called a product party. The ploy to used by this junior of mine is to mention about some prominent/famous/successful person will be speaking only to con me to a product party! The language used by the speaker wasn't so difficult to understand. Even though I spent no penny, a few hours of my time will be out.

I looked up and saw white plastic bottles used to package nutritional supplements, each displaying its product label prominently, standing on shelves attached to walls. I've been seeing similar products in the past, in childhood and adulthood, knowing that these supplements aren't cheap to buy. Very well, a sign of what my junior is up to, even though years have passed.

Then, I turned my head to the back and noticed two portraits, each displaying a couple. I supposed they are married couples. I recalled seeing one of the portraits which I saw a few years back, at another place - the husband and wife who are members of a particular direct selling company. Another blatant giveaway! A few years may have passed, but I certainly remember.

Don't treat me like a fool anymore. I spent none of my money on a single product (except the entry fee); in the future I ain't got time for that. What do you suppose a friend is for?


Monday, December 15, 2014

Low oil prices could revive world economy but hard times are ahead for Malaysia

by V. Thomas
Free Malaysia Today
15 December 2014


Oil prices are tumbling down in a descent that is fueled by the weak global economy and the increased shale gas production in the US. The US had made much efforts in the past few years, backed by technology and investments, to free itself from over-dependence on Middle East oil.

With ISIS posing a major regional threat that could throttle oil production in the volatile Middle East, the US and other nations are wary of the economic consequences. This is the main reason for the intense shale production in the US.

In the future, oil prices will be more stable and affordable, and the oil windfall for the OPEC countries could be a thing of the past.

Saudi Arabia’s strategy of keeping oil prices low to drive out US shale gas supplies is a no-brainer. It is not going to have a major effect. The US will do its best to maintain shale gas production, including subsidising it, for its domestic use. The days of using oil as a weapon against the US are truly over. President Barack Obama, being more of a statesman than a politician, has done much to relieve the US of such threats.

The Middle East is in turmoil and nations too dependent on oil from the region must plan and prepare themselves from any eventuality by opting for other sources of fuel.

In the short term, major oil producers like Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Indonesia and others who depend much from oil export revenues could be in trouble.

For Malaysia, hard times are ahead and the days of carefree spending with Petronas profits are surely over. We know how much our government has abused our petrodollars. For example, the administrative capital of Putrajaya – which should be called Petrojaya instead – was built using billions of petrodollars when this precious money could have been used fruitfully for more important programmes and initiatives to diversify the economy so that we wouldn’t be too reliant on a depleting resource.

How the low price of oil is going to affect international politics and economics in the new year is yet to be seen. The US shale gas production is here to stay and is going to reduce and stabilize oil prices for the good of the global economy. The immediate beneficiaries will be major economies like China, Japan, India, the EU and the US itself. These economies could be re-energised, bringing multiplier or spillover effects for the world economy.

My journey as a fan of Felixia Yeap @ Raisyyah Rania Yeap

I have been following Felixia Yeap since her days of doing sexy shoot and being the first and only Playboy Bunny from Malaysia. She undergone a 180 degree change that took her fandom by surprise. It has been a while since she started donning the Muslim headscarf (hijab). By the time I pen this down, much has calmed down.

Pre-Hijab Felixia



The time I discovered about Felixia was on Facebook, already a Playboy Bunny. Fellow property developer Eric Yong has written about her a few times, featuring her with the tag Blogger Hotties. Photos of Felixia featured by Eric was fumingly sexy. You can say that Felixia was at the prime of her sexy career.

At the time I'm penning this post, Eric Yong's Blogger Hottie are no longer there.



At one moment I dug through Felixia's work, posted in her Facebook photos. I could remember there was a photo which she lie on a bed, her abdomen facing down. All her curves were gorgeously presented. Like a great piece of art, portraying the geometry of a human body, I couldn't help but exclaim. That was one piece of Felixia's work that I remember the most.

The photo I've described above is no longer there.



To be honest, I envy those who get to meet Felixia in her pre-hijab days.


I've watched every one of her sexy videos on Youtube. Then, her Youtube channel was FelixiaAV. Haha, I remember it correctly! Those videos are history now. There was a striptease. There was a video of Felixia singing.

What I like was, Felixia actually made eye contact with viewers!



I miss the sexy version of Felixia. She was once our Playboy Bunny, known for a playful image. It stays in my heart forever. What is more, I have to remind you that without the sexy Felixia, there won't be the current Felixia.

Hijabbed Felixia

Maybe it was a coincidence. Felixia was thinking about learning to dress in the likes of Malay-Muslim. And what I did during that time? I knew not of Felixia's upcoming transformation but I had a unlikely stirring in my heart. What I am going to tell you sounds strange and unlikely. You may even laugh at me!



Before I continue, let me tell you my backstory of Muslim headscraves first! When I was a little boy in primary school, I had not met many Malays. Butsince secondary school, I had Malay teachers in large numbers, teaching me various subjects. That started my curiosity on their head dress.

During class I would secretly observe their headscraves and figure out what's underneath. I have even used the sunlight from the window to my advantage! Hahaha.

My secondary school lasted from 2002 till 2006. During those times the tudungs available was just square scraves. The inner scarves were thick and hideous. Styles were boring.

After I finished secondary school, I went for Edexcel A-level in HELP University College and stopped encountering hijabbed Malay girls.



Around March 2013, an ad from thepoplook.com got me hooked. The model was so pretty! I was lured into the world of Muslimah fashion that I had no idea how vast it is.

So, a chance has finally come to fulfill my curiosity. There wasn't a good opportunity back then; and I was too embarrassed to discuss about my fascination with tudung during my teenage years. Slowly, I got my hands on hijab wearing tutorials on Youtube and Malay girls' blogs.

Headscraves are just simple piece of cloths, but when worn they adopt three dimensional shapes.Sounds a lot like a protein - a single polypeptide chain that folds into 3D shapes that enable them to function.

The tutorial videos are very engaging to watch if you have means of appreciating it. I have to admit this is a pretty good set up to look for pretty girls :P From the videos I learnt that Muslim fashion is no longer a boring thing. This category of fashion is evolving into a formidable industry driven by the rise of purchasing power among Muslim consumers worldwide.



By the time Felixia started donning hijab on a daily basis and chronicled her journey on Facebook, I had already learnt the new aesthetics to appreciate her new beauty! The hijabbed Felixia is more feminine and evokes a sense of respect. She has grown, but not on the kind of path we'd expected.

On another note, I know that whenever Islam is mentioned, it struck fear in the heart of most Malaysian Chinese people. That's not without reason - non-Muslims in the land had been mistreated here and then, as far as cases like body snatching and unilateral conversion is concerned. I can totally understand why netizens were leaving negative comments when Felixia started to follow Muslim fashion.

Heck, I was even struck by a pang of sadness while at work. I kept that to myself.



I talked to a few of my Facebook friends about this. One of them joked that this is my new [clothing] fetish. It's just a quirk. But, I identify with Felixia for having a quirk. She wears the dress; but I have the eyes to appreciate it!

Don't get me wrong. I am not interested to marry any Muslim girl.



Felixia Yeap is now a Muslim convert and adopted the name Raisyyah Rania Yeap, and I only got to meet her at that point. No matter what, she's still popularly known as Felixia and that name is here to stay. I am a fan when I started to know of her, and I am still with her now.

If I wanted to see sexy girls now, as Felixia has put it, there are plenty of that around.

She reiterated that she remains a Chinese and not masuk Melayu as many have speculated. However, this is a point I beg to differ. If you have followed her closely on Facebook, you'll notice that she consumes Malay food and surrounds herself with Malay people now. Her fandom has also been remodelled - I see more Malay fans commenting on her updates now. De facto, she has masuk Melayu. The current Felixia caters to Malay people rather than her fans of the past.

There is no turning back after conversion to Islam, I can only pray that her choice is a good one. Once again, I miss the old Felixia.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Christian mum's reponse

by Christine SK Lai
The Malay Mail Online
24 November 2014

NOVEMBER 24 — My eldest princess announced to the whole wide world that she had dumped God; she termed it as “coming out of the closet,” likening it to the homosexual who boldly declares to everyone (God included) that he is free to do what he wants with his life. So there. Well, it’s not that it was a recent thing anyway. It’s pretty old news as far as I am concerned. Still to go “public” — I guess she must feel good about it. Do I? Honestly? Of course not. Which Christian parent would feel good about his/her precious child “leaving the faith?” But it’s nothing earth-shattering. Children keep breaking their parents’ hearts all the time — that’s the price of love. I dare say every parent, Christian or non-Christian, has shed — and will no doubt continue to shed — buckets of (mostly unseen) tears over their children’s decisions in life. But I think it’s harder for a Christian parent to take, because we know it’s our children who lose out when they give up on Some One as fundamental and essential as God.

Still I am somewhat amused by all the responses to her article. I suspect people, especially Christians, don’t know how to react to me. I gather everyone in the church which she used to attend with me must be having a gala time circulating her article. Ok, maybe I exaggerate. But it was funny how they looked at or talked to me during the initial days of its publication. I think they expect me to be...embarrassed? Ashamed?

Perhaps they were thinking, “Kesian....poor thing, some more she’s a widow.... Hai, children these days...” They get uncomfortable, I can just see it in their eyes, unsure whether/how to bring up the subject with me. Some commiserate. A couple wats-apped me the ‘offending’ article and asked somewhat incongruously “Hey, just saw this... did you know?” Duh, as if I didn’t know. Others simply said, “We will pray for you and for her.” Well, I say thank you to these. I don’t know about my daughter, but I readily admit I need all the prayers I can get.

I have not responded to her article until now, we have not talked about it at all. We did our talking, screaming and shouting years ago when she decided she wanted to live life the way she wanted, instead of the way God wanted. It was a drama, which I am sure neither of us want repeated. Of course we have also kissed and made up after the “volcano” exploded; that’s what love is all about. Disagreement doesn’t mean we can’t love one another. Besides if my God loves her enough to respect her choices, so must I. Like she said if she wants to go to hell, that’s her choice. So be it. Though I am sure it breaks God’s heart that any human being would want to purposely go their own way, because He knows inevitably that leads all the way to a soul’s destruction, when He has shown so clearly another better way.

Someone once pointed out, God doesn’t send people to hell, neither need the devil drag us there; we choose to go there ourselves. Jesus Christ has never and will never force, manipulate or sweet-talk anyone to follow Him. If we are to come to God, we must come willingly, out of love, nothing else. He will have it no other way. And if we do come, it must be on His terms, we must let God be God after all. We ignore, reject, deny or refuse Him at our own peril. Could it be that that’s the underlying problem with all our endless discussions about God? That in our heart of hearts, we actually fear the consequences of believing. After all if there really is a God, it would require us to examine and change ourselves to see if we conform to His holy standards. Whereas if we can just “dismiss” God away, we don’t need to answer to anyone except ourselves for the way we choose to live.

At the end of the day, all these arguments about God are just that — arguments. No one, nothing can prove or disprove the existence of God. Not archaeology, philosophy, psychology, technology or whatever-logy can put a “finger” on God. Not the most brilliant mind, smartest scientist or deepest thinker, certainly not I. If He is, He is. His existence doesn’t depend on man’s belief or unbelief. He doesn't need me or anyone to defend who He is or what He does or doesn't do. Nothing changes His love for us, whom He considers the masterpiece of His creation.

No, I am not embarrassed about my daughter’s declaration of atheism. In fact I am very glad she wrote so publicly about it. When I read the responses to it, I cried. I cried because here in concrete form was God’s answer to a mother’s unceasing prayer that He would send someone, anyone to tell her what I no longer know how to tell her anymore.

He sent not one, so many...I am just amazed that people would take the time and care to explain, exhort, elaborate and elucidate the truth of the Scriptures that answer all the very valid issues she raised in her article. Without fail, every Christian response affirmed and comforted me as the very real manifestation of God’s love expressed by a community of faith that is the distinction of all true Christians. It just goes to prove that my God is not a mere “religious crutch” or a collection of rules and regulations but a living, thriving God who will use every means to connect us back to Him; no matter that we turn away, He doesn’t. His heart is always open, even when ours are closed.

It really doesn’t matter to me if my daughter reads, dissects, accepts or rejects the responses that answered her questions. The fact remains, not only her, but many other people got to read too, because it was in public domain. That’s how great my God is; He doesn’t just answer one person — He answers every person who dares to ask. The only catch is we may not like His answers. I am so humbled and yet so proud to have such a personal Almighty God to acknowledge, love, honour and worship.

If we are honest with ourselves, it really boils down not to a matter of proof, but a matter of will or will not believe. The Christian faith has been assumed and criticised as a blind leap into the dark. I am no expert theologian, but that's not my experience at all. I don't claim to understand God, in fact I confess many times I actually don't understand Him.

But just because we don't get answers that satisfy us cannot mean something is untrue, invalid or non-existent. That's way too simplistic and really a rather convenient excuse of getting rid of that disturbing 'issue' called God. It puts the 'blame' and responsibility on Still it's nothing new. Human beings have always put God on trial. They did that to Jesus 2000 years ago, matter of fact we are still doing it today. Actually they killed Him. We are still trying to 'kill' Him too. But the great news is my God just won't stay dead. He is a resurrected alive God, and He will have the last word, when He puts us all on trial.

God dealt graciously with me 12 years ago, out of His great love and mercy He saved not just a grieving wife but a husband about to die. Now every day of my life I can only mouth inadequate thanks and gratitude that all is well with my soul, for I have tasted and know that the Lord is good even when circumstances are bad. There comes a time when true faith doesn’t remain at the level of “need.” True faith must go beyond to grasp that God isn’t our personal genie to satisfy our every whim and fancy. True faith that stands firm demands that we “know” that we know whom we have believed.

I can't “show” God to any atheist, as much as I want to for my own daughter, whom I love dearly. But one thing I can do — I choose to believe God loves her more than I ever can, so He will never leave nor forsake her, even if she thumbs her fingers at Him. He is ever the Good Shepherd who hounds after even 1 lost sheep to bring it home to Himself. That's His very own guarantee and I know I can hold my God to His eternal unchangeable promises. After all, He did say He is Father to the fatherless and a defender of widows.

That means my children and I are definitely on His “to do” list. I couldn't ask for more.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The SECRET of scoring well in exams

I went to visit my friend Feeqsays the other day, and he asked about how I succeed in studies. I gave him a few simple answers, like I am passionate about what I am doing, I read a lot, etc. The question he asked is worthy of a deeper thought, and I believe many of you in schooling years are also asking the same question.

Whether you like it or not, taking exam is part of study. I can relate that exams are stressful experiences. From my own experience, Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia was the most stressful exam I've ever sat. Before my first paper, I felt like vomiting due to the tremendous amount of stress.

Coming back to the point of exams being part of education, exams has a purpose to serve for both students and teachers. As a student, you are tested so that you can prove yourself having knowledge of the subject you have learnt. As a teacher, how would you know if you have done a good job teaching your students? You can find out through a test given to your students. In essence, exam is a feedback given to the teacher to let him see how well you learnt, and to measure how well he/she teach. This works both ways for you and your teachers.

To score well in exams, working hard for a subject is a must. Nowadays there are a lot of seminars and tuition centres that teaches you about techniques of answering questions. You are taught to answer questions in a particular way to help you score. Answering skills is only one aspect of scoring in exams and I don't discount the fact.

Given that the Asian culture is to score well in exams, many people memorize ways of writing the answers, getting the score they wanted but ended up with no understanding and appreciation of what has been learnt.

Now I am telling you an important secret many may have missed.

Exam is also about Communication

Has anyone told you that exams are also communication in action? Knowing what the answer is to a question is not a big problem provided that you've studied hard enough. Knowing how to write the answer is an art that carries more weight than knowing what is the answer. The question of how to write the answer is actually a question of communication. Let's put it this way: How to communicate the answer?

My teacher once said about knowing how to communicate with the examiner. Speaking about communicating with the examiner, many of you may be new to the idea. We don't see the examiner face to face. We don't know who the examiner is. So, how to communicate with a person when you don't even see him or know who he is?

Communication with the examiner happens a little differently compared to the day-to-day interaction with our friends. It's more like reading a news article - the journalist don't know who you are, but he/she is communicating the news to you so that you know about it.

Now, I want you to remember this important point. From the moment you pen your answer, you are starting the process of communicating with the examiner. The examiner is a human being. The examiner reads your answer and decides whether he/she understands what you have written. Treat the examiner as a person who don't know about the subject, and your job as a candidate is to communicate to make a point known. Whether your exam is in science, business or art, you'll be using bits and pieces of language to tell the examiner what you know, or what you think it is, or why something shouldn't be the case. Whenever a point needs to be made, language is involved; all that you learnt about a language are actually not confined to language classes. You are free to use whatever grammatical structure available to present your points and take care that no one misunderstands what you are saying.

Answering questions in mathematical papers is not spared from the process of communicating, either. When the answer requires you to state calculation steps, please do not skip that (obvious reason: marks awarded for steps!). Actually, the greater purpose of including calculation steps is to communicate your thought process leading to the answer, so make sure you do not skip a step that renders a reader (examiner) unable to follow your working and needed to make guesses. Also, if you need to invoke a mathematical law/rule/theory, you'll need to state the name of the law/rule/theory in your answer because it is a critical link to the answer.

Your job as a candidate also involves making life of the examiner easier. Toolkits of language are great help to make your point clearer as well as indicating the direction of argument you are going to make. When one page isn't enough for your answer, help the examiner to find where your answer continues with simple words like "(Please turn overleaf)" or "(Continue on next page)" or "(Answer continues on page XX)". They carry no marks, but examiners appreciate it lots for making their work pleasurable.

Coming to the conclusion of my post, I would like to ask you once again: What are tested in an examination? An examination not just tests about knowledge, but also communication. With good communication, you'll score well in exams and get anywhere in life :)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Refreshment of #LUV from A Pink

I am here to say, I am a Pink Panda! My idol is rocking the stages of music shows KBS Music Bank, MBC Show! Music Core, SBS Inkigayo (The Music Trend) and some other big name shows that I regularly open up on Youtube. The girls have been on a winning streak on shows a few times thanks to the power of fans. Together with the rest of Pandas, we do our part to lift our idols up so that they can win big in the shows, and show lots and lots of love for them. Just like any other die hard fan, I am doing these for my idols with no question asked!



I am unlike casual fans of K-pop only listening to songs and at most, know the person or group singing it. I get to know the members of my favourite group in all level of details I can get and watch their personal side through variety shows. I explore their extend of vocal talent beyond the title tracks of their album. I can easily tell each member apart when the rest of the people remarked about A Pink members look the same to them.

The girls are entertaining us with their schedule of activities so let's support them with all our hearts okay?



First of all, while I was waiting for A Pink's new album and song to be released, child actress and new Inkigayo MC Kim Yoo Jung performed her special stage of Mr. Chu as her first thing to take over as emcee! I really like Mr. Chu as the last installment of A Pink and I eagerly waited for it. When it came out, I was mind blown with her performance! She pronounced each syllable of the lyric accurately. What's remarkable is A Pink was touched watching watching this performance of Yoo Jung. The performance proved that Yoo Jung studied the dance moves and gesture for Mr. Chu so much so that her effort didn't go unnoticed. I really enjoyed her show and gave my thumbs up for the most sincere performance of any kind.



I sort of know about the comeback showcase of A Pink but only learnt of the time 30 minutes after it went on live stream! By that time I was back in the postgraduate students' room after finishing lab work. So, I decided to stay on campus to watch A Pink's comeback showcase to its completion (it lasted for one hour and a half). I didn't mind the entire show was in Korean, but I am glad enough that being a fan is the common language of watching it. A Pink sung "Secret", which has something to do with past events in my life and showed us "LUV" exclusively to us fans before the MV was released. That kept me excited over the MV due soon.

I missed out on individual members' aegyo due to poor wireless connection on campus, and was relieved to rewatch the part in the recorded showcase.



This was a special stage of "Good Morning Baby" presented especially to Pink Pandas on MBC's Show Champion. It feels like having someone greeting you good morning with a song instead of mere words. Why Good Morning? The first few moments of a morning is intimate, what is more A Pink really hits it home with a "Good Morning Baby".

If you watch closely, their dance moves on the stage gesture waking up for the morning!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Pink - LUV

I've made my order for A Pink's Pink LUV album through A Pink Malaysia Community, because all the songs inside are good!

******



Do you remember the times we spent together? L.O.V.E (LUV)
Is your heart pounding? It was everything at one time, L.O.V.E (LUV)
Now I think about those times sometimes, L.O.V.E (LUV)
Can’t we turn back time?
I can’t believe it, our story has already passed so long ago

(My love) On an especially tiring and long day
(My love) There is no one on my side (L.O.V.E LUV)
Just for a moment, I’d like to lean on someone and cry, yeah

You and I, when we weren’t afraid of anything, when we held each other’s hands
When I didn’t need anything else if only you stayed by my side

Do you remember the times we spent together? L.O.V.E (LUV)
Is your heart pounding? It was everything at one time, L.O.V.E (LUV)
Now I think about those times sometimes, L.O.V.E (LUV)
Can’t we turn back time?
I can’t believe it, our story has already passed so long ago

(My love) Among the many people I encounter
(My love) You will be forgotten (L.O.V.E LUV)
But when I sometimes remember you, I still smile

You and I, when we were so happy, when we looked at each other
When I received so much strength because you believed in me

Do you remember the times we spent together? L.O.V.E (LUV)
Is your heart pounding? It was everything at one time, L.O.V.E (LUV)
Now I think about those times sometimes, L.O.V.E (LUV)
Can’t we turn back time?
I can’t believe it, our story has already passed so long ago

Do you miss me? Do you miss me? I miss you
You still remain in my memories

Do you remember the times we spent together? L.O.V.E (LUV)
Is your heart pounding? It was everything at one time, L.O.V.E (LUV)
Now I think about those times sometimes, L.O.V.E (LUV)
Can’t we turn back time?
I can’t believe it, our story has already passed so long ago

Translation credit: Pop!Gasa