November 2002 Archives

The Night of Power

For one reason and another, today has been excellent. Everything has gone according to plan, some things have even gone better than expected. Work was superb. Got so many things done at the office today: being away for nearly two weeks really gives a lot of time for the emails and paperwork to stack up. But i was the energizer bunny today. Everything clicked.

Coming home was an extension of happiness. Had asam laksa waiting for me, had great company for dinner, and ate just enough to be full, just enough to reach that "sweet spot" of satisfaction that is so easy to miss in the hustle and bustle of the fasting month.

A beautiful night sky
When there are enough stars, the world lights up

But what really, really made tonight special was the tarawih prayers that followed dinner. Haven't gone for more than a week now, since i began my training roadshows, and i'm glad i didn't miss tonight. There was something in the air, something almost magical. As the imam was reciting the verses of the Holy Quran, my skin tingled all over, and it felt as though a wave of cool water was washing over me. Normally, i get edgy and tired when the imam reads surahs that are very long; but not tonight. I listened to every word, was surprised to find myself understanding quite a bit of what was being said (three years of Arabic in IIUM). It was a tremendous experience and i swear its something that i've never felt before on a ramadhan night. For me, tonight was the Laila'tul Qadar.

An excellent article

Anyone remotely interested in Middle East issues involving Israel/Palestine and Iraq and their relationship with the United Nationas over the last 40 years HAS to read the following article. From my own understanding of the issues, as well as some basic research i've done of the topic, the writer's grasp of the situation + his documentation is outstanding.

The Case Against Iraq is Incomparable to Israel

A treatise to a woman

I promise to respect her as woman.
I promise to treat her as an equal and a partner in life.
I promise to protect her in every way possible.
I promise to provide for her in every way possible.
I promise to guide her when she needs guidance and advice.
I promise to listen to her when she speaks.
I promise to admit to her when i am wrong.
I promise to tell her the truth always.
I promise to love our children the same way i love her.
I promise to keep myself healthy and fit so that i can be on this earth as long as possible to be with her.
I promise to love the people she loves, to respect her parents and family as though they were my own.
I promise to support her dreams, her desires and her objectives in life.
I promise that this treatise is true, as true as my love for her.

A gastronomical orgasm

I felt good last night. Very, very good. The reason: my belly was full. I had just eaten a good dinner that was not only filling but also very tasty. Feeling as good as i did, it was almost as though i had experienced a gastronomical orgasm.

Was it better than a sexual orgasm? Arguably, yes.

Physically speaking, a sexual orgasm is not much more than a series of very intense muscle spasms. It lasts only a few seconds at its peak, and for men at least, multiple orgasms are rare. You feel good for a moment, and that's it.

A gastronomical orgasm lasts much, much longer. I'm still feeling good this morning over something i ate last night. Its not so much the feeling of being full that is pleasing, but also the psychological pleasure that you get from eating a wonderfully cooked meal.

If you think about it, humans spend a tremendous amount of time looking for, preparing and eating food. And, honestly, we don't have to go through all that trouble to stay alive. Eating grass and berries would do.

But we brave the rough seas to catch fish, we farm animals and slaugther them, and spend so much time coming up with novel ways to cook food to tantalize our taste buds. And when it all comes together, when the fruit of that effort goes into your mouth - if its good, then your mind is blown by the wonderful sensation it creates. That's a gastronomical orgasm.

Pictures from Melaka

Had one of the most satisfying seafood meals last night at Serkam (just a few kilometers down the road from the famous Umbai seaside seafood stalls). Chua and i ate to our heart's content: a combination of stingray, fish, "kupang" (a type of shellfish that looks like mussels), large prawns and nasi lemak. Everything was good, excellent even. Definitely one of those times when i wished i had more than one stomach!

Nasi lemak and kupang
I had four packets of nasi lemak last night!

At just RM40 for the whole meal, it was very well worth it. Certainly tons better than what we had at the hotel last night. Will probably go back to the same place tonight and try different types of fish with different styles of cooking.

A week in Melaka

Last week i was in Johor Bahru. This week i'm in Melaka for the same purpose.

Melaka is the historic heart of Malaysia. Going back 300-400 years, this was the most happening place in the South East Asian region. The variety and number of historical monuments and sites scattered all over the city are a testimony of this fact.

Me: What happened to this place? It was the heart of Asia; and now, its just a place for tourists.
Chua: Melaka didn't have a Lee Kuan Yew.

The most disappointing thing about my visit so far has been the hotel, Century Makhota, Melaka. The exterior decor is impressive but once i made it to the room (each room is an apartment with a few bedrooms inside), there's when i began to wonder whether it would have been better to stay at the Hotel Equatorial (just across the road from the Century Melaka). The air-conditioning sounds like the engine of a Model T-Ford. The bath tub looks like its been nibbled at by rats, and the beds are as hard solid granite. The only blessing is that Astro is shown in the rooms. You can imagine i didn't get a very good night's rest yesterday and not because i was watching TV all night.

Was forced to buka puasa at the hotel restaurant yesterday because it was too late to go anywhere else. I expected more for the RM30 i paid for dinner. Bad rooms, lousy food. Avoid this place like the plague. 'Nuff said.

A woman in my dreams

Guys dream about women. From the moment puberty hits us, that's going to be an undeniable fact that we have to live with, and something people around us have to understand. Girlfriends, wives, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, nieces, colleagues are all potential "dream targets". At one point or another, we probably dream about each of these women at least once.

I understand this very well. I've gone through at least half the list mentioned above. But there is one more category that baffles me: dreams of the "unknown woman". If dreams are representations of the subconscious, then dreaming about women we know or at least have had some contact with makes sense. Our mind continues working even in our sleep, and dreams of this nature are merely reflections of those thoughts. Having a quarrel with your mother? Its possible you may dream of her. Fantasizing about that lady at work? Its possible to have "fantasy" dreams about her.

But what about the "unknown woman" - a woman that you've never met in your life, who is not immediately recognizable, who doesn't fit the bill of any type of woman you fantasize about, a woman you've not even seen in any sort of media. What is your mind trying to tell you, or more importantly, what is your subconscious thinking about when you dream about her?

The Unknown Woman
This isn't her, but the smile is similar

Last night i had a dream about the Unknown Woman. It was incredibly vivid; the colours were sharp, the image was crystal clear. But she didn't say anything to me, nor i to her, except for her telling me her name. In the haziness of the waking day, i can't remember exactly what it is except for two words: "Erin" (or was it "Aerin") and "Izzudin" - strange that a woman would have "Izzudin" as part of her name. For some reason or another, i even know how to spell that part of her name; "Izzudin" isn't a very common spelling for a fairly common phonetic name.

She was beautiful, fair skinned, tall and slim. Wearing a simple skirt and top, i remember her walking infront of me as i followed from a few feet behind. Every once in a while, she would turn her head to look at me, smile and with a swoosh of her long, wavy hair, turn back to the front. It was almost as though she was taunting me to follow her, and checking every once in a while to see whether i was still there. The thing i remember the most about her was that smile. It blew me away.

Its strange that that was all there was to the dream. On rare occasions when i do dream of the Unknown Woman (its always a different someone), it usually ends in... *ahem*. But not last night. There was nothing sexual about it, just a long walk that we both took, she in front of me on a very brightly lit backdrop; so bright in fact that i can't remember anything else except white light.

What do dreams like this mean? Do women get similar dreams about the Unknown Man? Do homosexuals dream about their Unknown Men/Women?

Watching a lot of movies

I watch a lot of movies. Some would say that i consume them with a vigour matched only by my love of good food. I think i enjoy movies as much as i do because of the escape it provides, even if only for brief moments. Away from reality, away from all the baggage that the environment creates. To be lost in the problems, humour and lives of characters i see on the screen is the perfect way to end the day.

I've got a few ways of measuring how "good" or "bad" a movie is. Completely unscientific ways you would argue, but they seem to give me a pretty accurate representation about the quality of a movie. Allow me to share the ways with you:

1. If i fall asleep before the movie ends, then the movie sucks. As i watch most movies in the evening, after dinner, after taking a bath, after settling my last rounds of email, and the such, falling asleep is a distinct possibility. The last movie to make me fall asleep in this manner was... i forget. Once i fall asleep, the movie is erased from my consciousness. Sorta like a defence mechanism to protect me from the horrors of poor movie making.

2. If i feel sleepy during the movie, barely making it to end, then the movie is watchable. A sure way to know that this is the case is if i actually manage to get up and switch off the DVD player before sleeping. If its off in the morning, and i remember the movie's name, then its a good movie. The last movie i watched to fall into this category is "Spiderman" (Toby Maguire et al.)

3. If i watch the movie till the end and, at the end, feel refreshed, full of thoughts (about the issues in the movie), and (possibly) disturbed, then the movie is a contender for my Greatest All Time List. These are the movies that i never forget, movies that i can remember the names of the characters and the actors, movies that will continue to be in my mind for months and years to come, and movies that i will automatically recommend to anybody who asks, "So what's a good movie to watch?"

The 3 best movies i've watched this year (2002) are:

1. Signs (Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix)
2. Schindler's List (Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson)
3. Princess Mononoke (Anime - featuring the voice talent of Gillian Anderson, X-Files)

Princess Mononoke
Princess Mononoke - winner of at least 2 dozen international movie awards

All three are great, great movies in their own right, and each moved me in different ways. Signs taught me the value of faith, Schinler's List the depths of human misery, evil and courage, and Princess Mononoke... that was pure jump-up-and-down-roll-around-the-floor-cheer-for-the-good-guys entertainment.

No Place Like Home

Had a 2 hour wait for my flight home. Loafed around the airport terminal, looking for available power points to recharge my notebook, debating which movie to watch to pass the time. And above all else, i really looked forward to going home.

Its only been 4 days, so you could say that i'm quite pathetic, Some people spend months away from home with very little longing to go home. And when they finally do go home, they can't wait to get back on the road again. I'm not like that. I'm a homely person who prefers the comfort and familiarity of home over the adventure and wanderlust of the road. But that does not mean that i don't like to travel. I love to travel, and what travelling teaches me is that there is no place like home.

Ramadhan Greed

Every evening this past week, i've walked by the hotel restaurant during the time approaching the break of fast and always seen it packed with Muslims waiting to gorge themselves on the buffet. At RM45 a head, its certainly not a "cheap" indulgence. Of course, "cheap" is relative to how much you earn. But there is some absolute value to this exercise that should be considered.

Glorious food
Can you eat RM50 worth of food?

Think about it: no matter how you cut it, RM45 (or in some places, this can go up to RM70++) is a large amount of money to pay for mostly Malay food. Looking at the fare on offer at most of these "Ramadhan" buffets, i don't believe that the cost is justified. Sure, there is a large selection of food, but just how much can a person eat? Can someone really eat RM70 worth of chicken curry, rendang, rice, veggies and fish? Its something that most people cannot fully consume during the normal months of the year; these hotel restaurants have far fewer customers during the non-Ramadhan season. Why is it that during the fasting month, everyone builds such an incredible appetite?

And even a robust appetite built over the course of a day of not eating is not an excuse. One of the purposes of Ramadhan is to control the appetite, to appreciate the hunger that the less fortunate feel everyday of their lives. Gorging on an extravagant buffet at the end of the day defeats this purpose. Why not just eat RM10 worth of food, and donate the other RM35. That money would be able to feed 4 other people for a day, or a single person for 4 days.

Watching the people stream into the restaurant just now, it made me wonder how appropriate it is to call it a "Ramadhan buffet". The spirit of Ramadhan was certainly missing from all those inside.

The Internet for the Elderly

After providing training for PETRONAS' retail station dealers over the last 3 days, i've come to realize that the Internet is a tool for the young. This not necessarily mean that an elderly person will have difficulty on the Internet; a "young" mind will also suffice. But more often than not, the saying, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" is very true.

Our elders
Advancing in age

The most pronounced manifestation of this came yesterday. During the training, it was obvious that some of the dealers were just not getting it. At one point, i had to actually hold then hand of one of them, directing their actions on the screen, helping him move the mouse and clicking the appropriate buttons. I was reminded of the time, oh so long ago, when mom used to hold my hand with the pencil and teach me how to draw circles on pieces of paper. There was little more that i could do than smile politely and not ignore them during the course of the day. But i knew that when they left the room, going back to their realities, they would be lost once more.

Thankfully, only a few fall into this "lost" category. But even with so few having these problems (mostly those 45 years and older), it did show how the Internet, for all its value and hype, would not reach a large segment of people. It makes me realise that i take for granted the skills i have and the skills i assume would be easy for others to learn when it isn't. The whole experience has thought me to be patient; more than once, i bit my tongue and kept in check any visible sign of frustration. It would have been so easy to scream out, "Its so freaking easy! Why don't you get it??"

But, it isn't easy, not for them, nor will it ever. I respect the fact that, knowing this, they still turned up. The easy way would have been not to even try, but to a man, they all did their best. The versatility of the human spirit, and its courage to learn - that's impressive. That's the lesson that they've taught me.

My first day

The first day of my business here in Johor Bahru was fun. Basically, i'm conducting training for the retail station dealers for an online application that i developed. Its called the Dealernet.

While some of the trainees caught on very quickly because they have used the Internet before, others took a very long time to long to warm to idea of using the Internet. A few even had problems using the mouse or even the most basic PC and browsing functions. It was challenging to manage the balance of capabilities, to keep my patience and have a smile perpetually planted on my face.

The first group of trainees
The ladies in the first day of training

I think a lot of us take for granted the IT skills that we have. Using the Internet, or even a computer is second nature to us ("us" being the so-called Generation X). But just for a moment, i think i managed to place myself in the shoes of my trainees and realized that they had good cause to struggle: to them, the Internet is the most foreign of beasts.

Makes me wonder how i'll be in 40 years time. How far technology would have advanced then, and will i be just as lost as my trainees were today, marvelling at my kids' ability to easily use what i can not.

Oh yeah, i knew i forgot something from KL: my belt. I spent half the day with my hand on the front of my pants, struggling to keep them up. It was a point of much attention.

Persecution of the Jews

Spent more than 2 and half hours this evening watching Schindler's List (based on a book by Thomas Keneally). To say the least, it was an extremely well crafted movie that deserved each and every one of the awards it won.

The movie itself serves an important purpose: it reminds us of the depths of human misery and the cruelty that mankind can inflict on its own species. It also reminds us of the positive side of the human condition; for every evil that we commit, there will good to balance it out. The human civilization is about balance, and this movie demonstrates through historical fact how that balance often comes at an incredibly high price.

Schindler's List
The best movie of 1993. One of the best of all time?

By my standards, a movie is good if it is able to make me think, the better the movie, the longer i will think about the issues presented in the movie. What i'm thinking about now is, "Why the Jews?"

All sorts of bad stuff has happened to the Jewish people: they got kicked out of Egypt thousands of years ago. More recently, 6 million of them were exterminated in the Holocaust. Today, Jews are locked in a mortal conflict with the Palestinians; thousands of both sideas have been killed. War, death, destruction seems to follow this unfortunate section of humanity wherever it goes. Is it through any fault of theirs that this is so? Why does all the bad stuff seem to disproportionately happen to them?

Maybe, this does explain (though it does not in any way excuse) their staunch defence of their position in the Middle East. Throughout their history, they've been persecuted and kicked about. From their perspective, their actions in the Middle East, including the killing of women and children, are all part of a self-defense mechanism. We may not care for their methods, but looking at their history, can we begrudge their reasons and intentions?

Being in Johor

Arrived in Johor today with my colleague, Chua. Will be here for the next 4 days for business. One of the perks of the job, that's for sure. Travel anywhere in Malaysia by plane, stay in the best hotels and get paid RM100 a day for "food expenses". Doesn't get much better than that...

Chua Kuan Yong
Chua, my partner in crime

Aiz on the bed
My room in Puteri Pan Pacific, Johor Bahru

Been giving some thought to latest round of PETRONAS' PRIMAX ads. Malaysia's national oil and gas company recently launched a new fuel with a "Friction Modifier (FM)" additive that is supposed to protect a car's engine by reducing friction. The new tagline to express this fuel is "Better performance, Better protection". Think about these phrases for a moment:

Friction Modifier => Maximum performance, maximum protection

A condom
Maximum performance, maximum protection?

Is it just me, or does this sound like a suitable selling line for a brand of condoms? :)

What women need

Every once in a while, people come to me with their problems. I listen to what they have to say, nod sagely at the appropriate times, and use up some brain power to think their problem through. Sometimes, i'm left with nothing to say; either i'm unable to help or offer anything meaningful. And when that happens, i feel helpless.

As far as women are concerned, that's often not a bad thing (or so i've been told).

With men, there is a phrase that rings true: "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." When a man comes to you for help, you're expected to be able to help. You're expected to be able to contribute constructively somehow; otherwise, you wouldn't have been approached in the first place. I know i'm that way, and i know most of my males friends are that way too. But women are different, and dealing with them the way you would a man is not necessarily the best course.

Listen to her
She needs someone to listen to her

A lady friend of mine came to me the other day, relating to me a problem she was facing. Listening to her, i tried to understand what her issues were. At some point, i said to her, "Ok, i think i know how to fix your problem." Apparently, that was the wrong response as she replied, "You're such a typical male.".

As it turns out, she didn't want me to "fix" her problem. She wanted me to give her support, to listen without offering, to sympathize, to show empathy, and then, maybe, just maybe, try to come up with a solution. A solution is not an immediate priority, and that strikes me as a very foreign idea.

If there is a problem, a solution IS the priority, isn't it? For women (i guess, it also depends on the type and urgency of the problem), the solution isn't always everything. Assumption or fact?

Streamyx has a problem

Dear {a friend},

I've been experiencing the same problem as you with Streamyx. Can't seem to access certain sites. Its definitely a routing problem.

I've managed to get around it by using Proxy servers. Use http://www.idzap.com. Its a free service and it allows access to the sites that can't be reached via Streamyx. Performance suffers a bit because the traffic is going through a proxy, but its still acceptable especially at Streamyx speeds.

IDzap Home Page
IDzap.com - a Streamyx solution

Peace,
Aizuddin Danian
http://www.aizuddindanian.com

Men and their balls

I talk to a lot of men. I'm surrounded by them, so its often an activity that i can't really help but do. And, to be honest, talking to men can be a very enjoyable form of interaction. Notwithstanding a few exceptions (i can't stress more on how "few"), what makes it enjoyable is our sharing of a favourite pastime: playing with our balls.

(Ahem) The game of football, that is.

Newcastle United FC
My beloved Newcastle United FC

On the surface its such a silly game: 22 men running around like headless chickens chasing a small leather ball on a large, preferably green grass field (failing that, an empty parking lot will sometimes do). The objective is to kick, head, chest, or in any other conceivable way that doesn't include using hands, put that ball past a rectangular construct called the "goal". A secondary, often overlooked objective, is to prevent your opponents from doing the same (any Liverpool fans reading this: that's called "defending" - hahahahah!).

What makes this game so interesting is really not the mechanics of the game as i've described above. The value of it lies in its ability to invoke human emotions of tremendous intensity; emotions that can make a macho-man blubber with tears at the sight of his favoured team losing, or make a puny weakling punch the lights out of a much larger person in the defense of his team's honour.

Football is not purely a man's sport. The Women's Professional Soccer League in the US is an incredible crowd puller (does the fact that players take off their shirts each time they score have anything to do with this?), and demographic studies indicate that women made up a large number of viewers in the last World Cup.

Bradley Chastain
"Goal"den ecstasy - Bradley Chastain

But i question the intentions of many women who do watch the sport: most women i've asked know who Figo and Michael Owen are, but couldn't tell me what team they play for. Makes me suspect that its not the football they are watching! :)

Beauty

"Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful" - Sophia Loren.

Saw this quote while visiting a site about wedding dresses and it struck me as being very profound.

The root idea is that we are what we believe we are. Not what other people tell us. Not what other people want us to be. It all boils down to self-belief and confidence. Be confident that you are what you are and you will be. Believe that you can be what you want to be, and you will be transformed.

Too many people spend too much time worrying about what other people think about them. Too many people spend too little time thinking about what they say about what another person is before actually saying it.

Losing a friend

One of the worst feelings in this life is to lose the friendship of a person you've known for a long, long time. The only thing that beats this feeling is to lose that friendship and not know why or how it happened.

Sadness
Why?

Relationships can be very fragile alliances. Built on trust, faith and a common understanding, a small error of judgement, a tiny chink in the links of trust can bring everything crumbling down. Was my friendship today lost because of this?

Sometimes we intentionally end relationships. To achieve this, we do things that we know shouldn't be done, but do it anyway, regardless of the predictable consequences. And when we do this, it makes sense: maybe its better not to be friends because the friendship brings more harm than good. Was this why i was told to go away? Because i brought more harm than good?

Honestly, i think i know why things happened the way they did today. But i hope that i'm wrong in my assumptions. Because if i'm right, then very little can be right with the person i used to call a friend. I'm not saying this out of bitterness or spite. Its a token of advice that can be ignored or embraced. The only reason why i offer it is because i care enough to observe and tell the truth.

The male "PMS"

What happened to me today happens on a fairly regular basis. I was irritable, quick to tire, in no mood to talk, slightly depressed and generally uncomfortable with myself. When these symptoms strike, i've come to recognize them as signs that i'm experiencing "that time of month". Yes, that's right - i think i have the male version of PMS (referred to by researchers as "IMS" - Irritable Male Syndrome).

An angry man
Blame it on PMS

Laugh if you want, but research (also, see Jean Lawrence for further reading on the topic) has confirmed that women are not the only human species to be affected by regular hormonal changes in their bodies.

I guess the main difference is that the changes in male behaviour tend to be less noticeable. Most men are normally aggressive (this is a relative judgement and is a pure generalization) and this may disguise any indication of a temporary hormonal change leading to a slight shift in behaviour. It could also be that the change in behaviour is often so minimal as to be difficult to detect as a change at all.

So the next time you see a slight change in the behaviour of a male someone you know, take a moment to consider the possible reasons.

A funny thing about Ramadhan

My earliest memories of the fasting month was when i was 8 or 9. I started "trial" fasting then - mostly half-day affairs, which saw me chug down the largest bottle of water my little body could consume the moment i came home from school in the afternoon. I remember those early days as being very difficult because of the heat and the humidity.

The heat
It just keeps on going and going...

As each year passed and each ramadhan came and went, it seemed that the fasting month was permanently associated with heat and thirst. Then someone told me that this was because the fasting month always coincides with the dry and hot season, as a test from God. I can't remember who told me this, but i do remember that i believed this to be true for the longest time. Until i went to the International Islamic University and was taught the cycles of ramadhan.

Its never enough

It must be a terrible consequence of being human: the inability to never be satisfied with what we have. Its probably the human trait that has made us what we are today, the most dominant species on this Earth.

The first fire
The beginnings of the first BBQ...

Where would we be if the cavemen of old had given up in the quest for fire the moment things got tough? Rubbing two sticks together takes tremendous effort and time (believe me, i've tried and failed). It would have been so easy to continue being satisfied with cold, raw meat rather than take the trouble to discover fire.

Where would we be if Thomas Edison had given up the "electric light" problem, being satisfied with the oil lamp? After a couple of hundred thousand failures, you would have expected the guy to give up, but he didn't and the human race is richer because of it.

The Edison lightbulb
A product of a 100,000 failures

The list goes on and on, but all share the same principle: driven by the human need to improve our condition, all have gone on to achieve great things that have shaped the future of the human race. Where would be if we were satisfied with what we have?

Streamyx has arrived

After more than 4 months of waiting, Streamyx has been installed at my home. Was it worth the wait? Hell, yeah. :) I think i may be one of the lucky ones: people living in PJ have been telling me that the Streamyx service has been progressively degrading over the last few months. Not sure what the reason is, but i did a test on Broadband Report and my actual throughput is 309kb/s which is not exactly the 384kb/s advertised by TMnet, but i think the difference can be dismissed as network latency which all providers will experience to some degree or another.

The DSL modem supplied by TMnet
The DSL modem supplied by TMnet

Anyhow, its still more than 7 times faster than what i was experiencing before on dial-up so i'm quite pleased. I've downloaded 100MB of data in 40 mins so that must be a good thing.

Now, where are those episodes of Star Trek Enterprise everyone has been raving about? Time to download them all.

Dr M gets shagged

Recently, the PM of Malaysia made a statement concerning the safety of Muslims in Australia:

"Australia is just as unsafe as the other Asean countries," he said.

"In fact at the moment, Australia is particularly unsafe for Muslims because they are likely to have their houses raided and I see pictures of doors being broken which I don't think is essential, so people are today exposed to danger wherever they may be."

A great leader getting old?
A great leader getting old?

Predictably, he's been shafted for saying those things. Is our PM slowly losing his sense of perspective and ability to focus rationally?

Creative Implementation of AFTA

The Prime Minister has issued a statement that imported cars will not be any cheaper because domestic taxes will still be levied on them. AFTA only requires import taxes to be removed. But he also goes on to say that locally-made cars (such as our venerable Proton) will be subject to the same taxes. Taken in its entirety, Dr M's statement leaves some questions begging to be asked.

Damn. I wanted this in 2005
Damn. I wanted this in 2005

1. What's the point of putting domestic taxes on imported and local cars? Ok, some income will be generated for the nation from the taxes, but surely, such "creative taxation" policies goes against the spirit of AFTA if not the letter.

2. If our national cars are going to be equally taxed (there is some doubt in this; at the last moment, i suspect special "tax breaks" may be awarded to continue the protection the national cars enjoy), how will they remain competitive? The only reason why local cars are cheaper OTR (On-the-road) is because that import taxes double (and at times, triple) the retail price of an imported car. Will the "domestic taxes" proposed be higher for "imported" cars? Or will the domestic tax be equal for ALL cars? If this is true, then "imported" cars of the same class will still be cheaper than our Proton and Perodua; foreign car makers have economics of scale on their side and can afford to enter a loss-leader strategy to attract Malaysian consumers. Under such circumstances, Proton and Perodua's market share will be severely eroded even if they are able to lower their costs of production and the retail price of their products.

If this happens, and they both begin losing money, will the rakyat be called upon to bail them out? Encore MAS, encore Perwaja Steel??

Published in Malaysiakini.com on 8 November 2002

Being in love

How do you know that you're in love? I suppose most people feel love in their own way. It would be unreasonable to assume that everyone feels love in the same way.

If biologists are to be believed, "love" is little more than a chemical reaction within our bodies. When we are near a person we "love", our body releases pheromones that makes you more appealing to your mate and endorphines to give us a natural high (that "feelgood, lovey-dovey" feeling).

I'm not saying the scientists are wrong. Whenever i'm near an attractive woman, i don't doubt that my body does all those things. But to be in love is something different; it involves an emotional, psychological shift. A change in our mentality and the way we view the person.

Matters Concerning Men and Women

For me, i know i'm in love when i feel guilty even thinking or looking at other women in a manner beyond friendship. That's my benchmark. Which does cause some potential problems, if you think about it: i have to look at another woman to know whether i'm in love with the first. *sigh* Sometimes life is like that, isn't it?

Beginning the Ramadhan

Today begins the month of Ramadhan, a month of compulsory fasting for Muslims all over the world. This morning i listened as the Hitz Morning Crew gave out tips about how to survive the fasting month: drinking warm water in the morning (before sunrise), don't eat any hot and spicy food, break your fast with something sweet, etc.

Safe and Blessed Ramadhan to All

I'm sure this was not their intention, but the Morning Crew (and i suspect many others too) mistakenly believe that the Muslim month of fasting is only about abstaining from food and drink. Its so much more than that.

Proof that women are better than men

Was sent something really funny by a friend. It conclusively proves that women are three times better than men. Looking at the equation that produces that result, i find it hard to argue. See for yourself and let me know if you agree.

View the equation

Who am i, where am i?

There are a few things in this life that are certainly not fun. Having a piece of meat stuck in between your teeth in that impossible to reach section of your mouth. Losing a loved one to illness or mishap. Wondering whether my grandmother is in heaven or hell, being unsure because years of religious schooling tells me that she isn't. Waking up in the middle of the night with my mind completely scrambled with ridiculous questions.

Who am i?

Where am i?

What am i doing in this world?

The VOI Expands!

The Volume of Interactions has expanded! Besides the Volume of Interactions Main Page + the Great Malaysian Blog List (GMBL), the VOI now includes the GMBL Reviews and Resources (GMBL RR) and the GMBL Forums.

The GMBL Reviews and Resources seeks to achieve the following objectives:

1. To review and showcase the best blogs listed in the GMBL. Reviews will be done by the GMBL Editorial Board that comprises of 4 individuals with a lot of experience in the field of blogging + myself.

2. To provide information about blogging resources on the Internet. Want to know how to start your own blog? Which commenting system to use? Where can you host your blog? These questions and more will be answered here.

The GMBL Forums seeks to achieve the following objectives:

1. To provide an area to discuss the latest blogging and non-blogging issues.

2. To act as a "info-exchange" where people can ask questions, and others can provide the answers.

I would like to thank the GMBL Editorial Board (Chris, Hani, Nina, and Strizzt) for their kind support and assistance. None of this would be possible with you guys, and i look forward to working with you in the coming months.

Happy Deepavali

One of the great things about Malaysia is that its a very rich multi-racial, multi-cultural nation that is able to exist in relative harmony.

Happy Deepavali

Each time the festive season comes along, be it Christmas, Eid-ul Adha, Deepavali or Chinese New Year, i'm reminded of this fact. I'm a lucky person to be living in this country. Hell, i'm lucky to be alive at all.

What's in a name?

There's a new advert on the radio waves in Malaysia - its a Dockers ad. In it, Tiger Woods is somehow squeezed into the equation and hearing his name repeated a few times made me think about it. "Tiger Woods" - what sort of name is that? What sort of parent will name a child after a beast of the jungle? Of course, its turned out that this name has proven very apt - Tiger Woods is a household name, a name that strikes fear in his fellow golfers, and name that thousands of children all over the world pretend to own.

"I'm Tiger Woods," the boy in the Nike ad professes. Indeed.

The boy who would be Tiger

My own name, Aizuddin Danian Izham Cheong, has its own history. In fact, its the third name i've had in this life.

November Blog of the Month

Photoblogging is a very popular form of blogging; but its also probably one of the most specialised types of blogs out there. It takes a certain talent to be able to take pictures well, and i'm quite sure that's a God given gift that i do not possess. But i appreciate those who can, and i spend quite a bit of time admiring the work of others.

As far as photoblogs go, A.lifeuncommon.org, is very, very special. Some of the images here will blow your mind, and is a treat for anyone who enjoys fine still photography. For this reason, for the value of experiences that the site shares with us, i've decided to select it as the VOI Blog of the Month.

For more on photoblogs, visit http://photoblogs.org/

The Muslim Fear

I believe that being a Muslim is a tremendous blessing. It gives me a sense of belonging, a sense of security and a sense that there is a greater being in this universe that is looking out for me. Whatever may happen to me, while i'm alive or dead, i have little to worry and much to look forward to.

Well, of course, unless, the immortal words of Rowan Atkinson playing the Devil welcoming Christians to Hell happen to be true: "I'm sorry, but the Jews were right". :)

I also believe that being a Muslim has given a lot of power ("power" being the ability to make someone do something they otherwise wouldn't) to others over me. Who are these people? Simply put, those who i believe are "better Muslims" than me (and that's a LOT of people).

Teaser!

The latest additions to the Volume of Interactions is nearly ready for public viewing. With the assistance of the GMBL Editorial Board, the last week or so has been spent tweaking the GMBL Reviews and Resources (GMBL RR) and the GMBL Forums.

These additions to the VOI are logical extensions of the GMBL (Great Malaysian Blog List). A few weeks ago, i asked myself, "Once the GMBL is up and running, then what?"

Reign of Fire

Its a lazy Friday evening and for once i've got so little on my mind, so little to worry about. This is a blessing considering the last few weeks have been filled with apprehension with studies and career. Finally finished my way overdue assignments (2 down 5 to go), have a bit of breathing space before i have to worry about the next ones (procrastinating again... i never learn do i?), and things at work are finally coming together for once. Hahahah... a friday night alone is just reward.

Reign of Fire Movie Poster

And how do i spend it? By wasting my time watching a terrible movie - "Reign of Fire". Sheesh. Its worse that the reviewers say it is. But i'm a sucker for dragons and the such and that's why i couldn't stay away. Probably the only good thing about it was the half-way decent acting of Matthew McConaughey. Stay away from this one. Ok, on to tonight's next fare: Hugh Grant's "About a boy" - ok, ok, i'm a sucker for movies with English accents too.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2002 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2002 is the previous archive.

December 2002 is the next archive.

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