February 2003 Archives

Confessions and lies

The trial of the alleged murderers of Hasleza Ishak is taking on Simpson-esque proportions. Receiving nearly daily coverage in the local newspapers, what's being said in court is leaving an increasingly sour taste in the mouths of ordinary citizens.

There are many points of offense. The one which upsets me the most is the blatant sense of unfairness that surrounds the "confession" of the "murderers". Whether or not the confessions should be accepted by the courts, that's beyond me. There are a wrangle of legal procedures governing the legitimacy of such things, none of which i understand to the remotest.

But what i do understand is that the accused were questioned (interrogated may be a better word) by the police without their lawyers present. There have been claims that the confessions were obtained under duress. That may or many not be true, but it certainly would not be true if lawyers representing the legal rights of the accused were present.

I don't know much about the law, and maybe those who read this can enlighten me: is it legal to question suspected murderers without their lawyers present?

I understand that its possible to waive that right, but why would anyone accused of murder want to do that?

Origins of the VOI

I've always wanted to have library in my house one day. A honest-to-God, library. Books wall to wall, from the floor to the ceiling. Book stacked up as high as a standing man lying around in eccentric disarray. And in the middle of it all, two worn, comfortable leather chairs for me and the missus to pass our evenings in thought, reading the volumes of accumulated knowledge surrounding us. It is from this vision, this dream, comes the name for this website, the "Volume of Interactions".

We interact with volumes of knowledge every day of our lives. With the people we meet, with the books we read, with the shows we watch on tv. Even in our very own minds, interactions of knowledge occur every split second as we feel, we breathe, we think, we smile, we cry, we bleed, we live.

John Donne (1572-1631), "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main."

Indeed, how true. We are defined by our interactions, from within and from without. We are defined by our Volume of Interactions.

The Malay Heartland

As i pointed out in an earlier posting, i try really hard not to feel conscious about the peculiar racial circumstances i'm in: half-Chinese, half-Malay but looking all-Chinese. Over the years, clearing up this fact has been a sure topic for any conversation with someone i'm meeting for the first time. It's not that i like talking about it; but i don't mind answering the curiousity of those who ask.

Being in Alor Setar, Kedah, these past few days has led to lot of soul searching; searching for answers that i don't remember ever asking myself. This is the first time i'm visiting Kedah as an adult, so i suppose the self-examination has been inevitable. Why now and not before? Because there is a reason why Kedah is called the "Malay Heartland" of Malaysia. Everyone, and i mean everyone is a Malay here.

Unmarried women

Here's an interesting thought: could it be that women are getting married at an older age nowadays because there are fewer suitable men around?

Its been said that the median age of women getting married for the first time has increased over the years because their priorities have changed: completing a formal education has become a priority for many, establishing a stable career, obtaining post-graduate qualifications. The time required to do each is considerable thus making it a logical reason for the delay.

But i think there is another reason and that is that men and marriage are becoming an increasingly unattractive option. While it can be said that women have enjoyed social progression, the same can't be said for men; men have not evolved at the pace women have, and this lagging makes men less attractive to the "New Woman".

Alor Setar, Kedah

I'm in Alor Setar this week, conducting another round of training for the Dealernet. Its going to be the second week in a row that i'm away from home, and i must say, while its interesting to travel and meet new people, it can be a very tiring experience.

Pekan Rabu - The town center where you'll find everything Kedah is famous for

Its a small town, this is. Took me just 30 min to walk around the whole town. Had a very tasty breakfast of rice with cow's stomach laced in vinegar and onions. It tastes a lot better than it sounds, trust me. Was very interested to notice that the women this far up north are, generally speaking, exceptionally beautiful. This is a trend i've noticed: Malay women from the northern states of Malaysia have very fine features. Could this be from the mixing of blood with our neighbours in the north, Thailand?

Long distance relationships

Of long-distance relationships, there are a few types.

The first is the type in which the couple have known each other for an extended period of time before circumstances (e.g. one partner needing to go overseas to study) separates them. In this case, it is likely that they already have a basic grounding in what they know of each other. The distance between them can be depressing, but at least they know one another well enough to believe that there is someone worth waiting for when the time comes for them to be reunited.

Then, there is the second type: where two people hardly know each other, but a brief meeting or couple of meetings tells them that an obvious attraction exists. They both feel it, and it gives them cause to want to get to know each other better. But the problem lies in the distance between them; for one reason or another, they've got to be apart.

Is there any hope? Is it realistic to believe that, despite the distance, they will be able to learn and explore each other sufficiently to allow for that common attraction to blossom into something beyond friendship?

Not a Malay, not really Chinese

Its just like human beings to be so easily deceived by their what they see - the skin of a China-man, therefore he must be Chinese. When they meet exceptions like me, i become an object of curiousity.

Its been a very long time since i've been aware of the colour of my skin. Because i'm used to it, its easy to brush aside the curious stares, the questions and the amazement i've seen in the eyes of people when they find out that i'm a Malay.

But today was different. One of my trainees, a 60-something year old man, was rude to me. Without giving me a chance to explain, he blasted me in an unkind manner in front of the other trainees why all the forms i've provided for them are in English, and not Bahasa Malaysia.

(Translated from BM) "We've been independent for 46 years. Why are we still using the language of the colonialists? Huh, young man, can you tell me why?"

The world in different colours

Different people see the world in different ways. Our vision is governed by our environment, by the people who we live with, by our friends and relatives, by our interpretation of events around us, by our personal faiths and beliefs (which are also governed largely through a combination of luck and self-awareness).

This truth thus begs the question: do we actually have a choice as to what we believe to be right or wrong? If we are a product of our environment, how much choice do we have when we rarely have a chance to choose our environment?

Therapeutic swearing

I almost never swear. Its got to be a pretty ground breaking stuff before i launch into a tirade of expletives. Don't get me wrong - i'm certainly no angel, its just that i choose not to use profanity (bastard, bitch and asshole are not categorized as profanity in my vocabulary).

But there are times, like today, that i just feel like spewing it all out, preferably at the people who are the cause of the frustration. Training mature adults in the use of the Internet can be a very disturbing exercise, and it seems that the further north i go in Malaysia, the worse it gets. I was t-h-i-s close to losing it with a few of my trainees today. God knows how i managed to keep a straight face.

I think the reason why i swear so rarely is because i know what a calming effect it has on me. When i'm under tremendous stress or terribly frustrated, a few "f**k you"s and "motherf**kers" is incredibly liberating. If i were to use it more often, i think the salving effect of swearing would be lost and i just can't have that.

Men and sex

Men can be divided into two groups: those who have had sex with a woman and those who haven't.

Those who haven't can be divided into 3 groups: those who are gay, those who want to "save" themselves for marriage, and those who can't find anyone to have sex with/or no one wants to have sex with them.

Those who have had sex can be divided into 2 groups: those who will have sex with anything on two legs (this is a metaphor - two legs are not always required) and those who are discriminate in their selection of sexual partner(s).


Am in Penang right now. Got here yesterday, will be here until tomorrow, then i'm off to Ipoh for another three days. Will be here and there to conduct Dealernet training.

Its fun. Most of the people who attend the training don't know nuts about the Internet, and some don't even know how to move the mouse on a PC. But i'm very happy to see that a couple of hours spent with me changes all of that. Who said an old dog can't be thought new tricks?

My Alma Mater

Its a little known fact that my formative teenage years were spent as a "VI Boy". Why is it a little known fact? Simply because i'm hardly your atypical "VI Boy".

Victoria Institution is a grand old school in the tradition of Malaysia's colonial history. A school of elites (at least in theory) for more than 100 years, its been around for a while and survives with the reputation such longevity bestows. The VI Boy is supposed to be "A scholar, a gentleman and a sportsman". I was very little of each back then - the class loner, the object of bullies, the quiet boy that played chess. That was me.

And though i don't have many fond memories of the place, i find myself offering my services to its Old Boys Association for FREE. They need a website, something better than what they currently possess. I have offered to build one for them, with a host of advance features that other developers would charge thousands to provide. I'm really a sucker for punishment.

Please take a look at the demo site i've created for them. Feedback is welcome.

Valentine's Day

Blatant commercialism = Valentine's Day.

The history of Valentine's Day is a poignant and romantic tale of tragedy and love. The spirit is in the celebration of love, that feeling you have for a person that means more to you than anyone else.

But, in recent times, i can't help but feel that that celebration of love has been sullied by commercial profiteering.

Prices for roses and flowers in general leap up 300%. Anyone who understand the theory of supply and demand would see that this is a natural conclusion to the market forces that come into play on this day. That in itself isn't a really big deal - that's just how economics works.

What disturbs me is how the day itself is hyped to proportions that will create the economic environment that pushes prices and expectations to usurious levels. Expectations? Yes, the average consumer buys the hype, and thus expects to pay to show love. This is the side of Valentine's Day that i disagree with.

I will not succumb. I will resist. I can and will celebrate love on every day of the year but this one.

Why men write poems for women

Received this email from a buddy who has been reading my poetic exploits of late [Poem 1] [Poem 2]. Interesting observations to say the least. He wrote:

Lets face it, there are only 3 reasons why guys write poems for their gals:

1) they're fags (read Azahan)

2) they want to get into her pants

3) to make up after screwing up

Shuttle Tragedy: A must read!

If you have any interest at all in the Columbia tragedy, you must read this article written by Gregg Eaterbrook in April 1980, 23 years before Columbia blew up on re-entry. It details the problems the shuttle program was having even back then, when Columbia was being built.

I was too young then to know much about this. But it seems that the space shuttle has a long list of well documented problems that plagued it even before its maiden voyage. For example, if indeed failure of the the re-entry tiles caused Columbia to disintegrate, such a scenario was predicted even back then.


"But you're in luck--the launch goes fine. Once you get into space, you check to see if any tiles are damaged. If enough are, you have a choice between Plan A and Plan B. Plan A is hope they can get a rescue shuttle up in time. Plan B is burn up coming back. "

E'id Mubarak

To begin, let us say a quiet prayer for the 14 people who lost their lives while performing the Hajj in Mecca.

Hari Raya Haji is a big occasion, though some families choose not to celebrate it with as much fanfare as Hari Raya Puasa. However you may choose to spend this day, please remember the principle behind it: sacrifice.

Not of the cow, goat or lamb kind. Those animals that get their throat slit each year and publicly chopped up for distribution; they are just symbols, part of the rituals, but while important, they ultimately mean very little.

What men talk about

When i was old enough to be in shorts, merrily running around the playground, there was no gender distinction. Boys/Girls all looked to the same to me and were treated as such. As long as you could climb a tree, we could hang out together.

Then puberty hit, girls started growing bumps all over their bodies, their voices changed and they started to act all strange and weird-like around boys. Boys suddenly sprouted, voices changed too, a bit of stubble here and there and we began to become shy-shy around the girls. As we boys grew older in this period, conversations began to be dominated by the topic of which girl was hot, which girl was easy, and various girl tackling techniques. Looking back now, we were so one-tracked in our thinking that its almost funny!

Deaf husband, blind wife

Being unmarried, it is an interesting experience to be around other men who are and are willing to talk openly about their marriages. When these men have been married for a fair number of years, with a few children, its interesting to note that their perspective on marriage is a lot different from what i thought i would be, or what i've imagined it to be.

I think i'm realistic enough to understand that when two people live together, "smooth sailing" is a phrase that will be uncommonly heard. Life on your own is complicated enough, add to the mix a spouse and children, and things get exponentially more difficult.

Earth 2025

I am taken, completely taken and hooked. Is "addicted" a strong enough word?

I re-discovered an old favourite a week ago: the online game by Swirve, Earth 2025. The premise of it is simple: you take control of a country in this online world. Through a series of turns (1 turn every 25 minutes, 24 hours a day), you slowly build up your country, making decisions such as whether to turn it into a technology haven, military dictatorship or democratic free market.

Earth 2025
Earth 2025

You build buildings that reflect your country philosophy, you build an army to defend and attack. Your objective is to make your country #1 among the tens of thousands of people who play the game each day.

When a wife becomes a mother

I was fortunate to have a talk with a married man today. He told me that i should be in no rush to get married. He told me that i should take time and find a suitable partner, preferably one that isn't like his own wife.

I think he needed to get some of these things of his chest so i let him speak. His wife has changed, he said. Not from the marriage itself: the first years of marriage were a wonderful experience. No, things changed the moment the kids arrived.

From that moment on, its as though his life in hers took a back seat. So far back, in fact, if their marriage was a car, it would be the ultimate stretch limousine.

The truth

How much truth can you handle?

We all have secrets, things that we would rather others not know about. Secrets come in a variety of forms: the type that we keep because we're afraid of the consequences the truth will bring, the type that we keep because we're too shy to tell the truth, the type we keep because its not our secret to reveal, the type we keep because the truth won't hurt us but others, the type we keep because we've forgotten what the truth means.

We keep different secrets from different people. We keep secrets from our parents, but we tell those same truths to our friends. We keep secrets from our friends, but tell those same truths to our parents. We keep secrets from one friend but openly share the truth with another. We keep secrets from ourselves, for things that we would rather forget.

Is keeping a secret the same as telling a lie?

Stinging attack

*As of 10 February 2003, YellowTimes.org is down and not responding.

YellowTimes.org is a source of some rather interesting reading material. Totally honest (sometimes unguided), frank and brisque commentary graces its pages. One of its latest articles on the state of American/Israeli relations is particularly insightful. A recommended read for those who seek to understand why these two countries have been bossom buddies for the last 50 years.

"An Israeli primer for Muslim rulers: How to make America love you" by Yusuf Agha


Lesson Eight: "Poor Anti-me."

Say a single word against Israeli policy -- against the attacks on Palestinian children, mention Israeli spies, or even the Israeli election scandal, and you are immediately labeled as anti-Semitic. This label applies even to those Jews who criticize Israel and Arabs -- the original Semites -- all are branded with the sizzle of the anti-Semitic iron.

Cheshire's Wedding

Delia Suryani Yahya (who will always be known to me as Cheshire) was married yesterday to Ahmad Zaki Nasaruddin. It was a grand wedding held at the Perdana Grand Ballroom, Dewan Perdana Felda. The wedding was well planned, well executed, the blushing couple a sight to behold, the food good and the entertainment in the form of song and dance excellent.

Delia and Zaki
The blushing couple in all their glory

It was also one of the most enjoyable "dates" i've had in a long time.

They say that many meet their future spouses at weddings. You could say the same "happened" to me. My mother was my companion for the night.

Blog of the Month: February 2003

We live in uncertain global times. And this is made worse by the fact that our only source of information related to these times are often tempered by the beliefs and perceptions of those whose interest lies in what is popular rather than what is right.

With this in mind, its refreshing to find a voice that attempts to be break free of the mainstream: YellowTimes.org. In explaining what "yellow times" is:

"Today we live in an age of yellow journalism, where the mainstream media sensationalizes their content in order to increase circulation and increase profits.

By putting television shows such as Survivor on the cover of their newspapers, or nicknaming a horrible conflict as a showdown, these guilty parties have given up on real journalism.

In these yellow times that we live in, we offer you an alternative."

I agree. Therefore, YellowTimes.org is the Volume of Interactions Blog of the Month for February [?].

Happy Chinese New Year

Here's wishing everyone a Happy Chinese New Year. I've not had the good fortune to start mine on the positive note i would have liked, but that's another story for another day.

Gong Xi Fai Chai. And happy birthday to my dad too.

A mountain goat
2003: The Chinese Lunar Year of the Goat


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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2003 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2003 is the previous archive.

March 2003 is the next archive.

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