Monday, August 31, 2009

Merdeka, 2009

As we welcome 52 years of nationhood, we face a host of challenges like never before. Will we be brave enough to confront them? Dare we to challenge the status quo?

I shall borrow this quote from Elmer Davis: “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave”. Brave Malaysians, stand up and be counted. We shall overcome.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, MALAYSIA!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

An Irish Wake

I was burying myself in the Sunday Star today when on page W40, I read this interesting news article about Senator Edward Kennedy’s wake. It seems that after two days of mourning, family members reached back to their deep Irish roots for an old-fashioned wake ahead of Saturday’s funeral and burial.

For sure, there were tears at the gathering – dubbed a “celebration” – but there was far more laughter as people exchanged jokes, sang songs and told tales in a ceremony modeled on Irish tradition. And they are not afraid to offer each other comfort and even a drink or two, if that should help.

As David Sargent, head concierge at the Liberty Hotel in the Massachusetts city explained: “A whisky and a cry can help you feel a lot better”.

Now, isn’t that how a wake should be? Why should we mourn a person when we should instead celebrate his or her life on earth? Unless of course, he or she led such a sorry life that there is nothing to celebrate! When I leave this world one day, I would dearly love to have my friends drink a Glenmorangie, in my honor.



For those ignoramuses and non-whisky drinkers, Glenmorangie is considered the World’s Best Highland Single Malt Whisky in 2008 & 2009, according to the authoritative Whisky Magazine. I’d better drink this Scotch whisky too, as much as I want – before it is too late! For me, that is!
 











Also today, Celtic were reduced to 10 men in a thrilling 1-0 win over Hibernian in the Scottish Premier League. A Georgios Samaras header had put Celtic ahead four minutes from half-time, and the Bhoys held on for the rest of the game to ensure they kept the three points.

Malaysians Live Cheaply But Paid Poorly, Too

The Malaysian Insider had on August 29 (Webpage http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/36312-malaysians-live-cheaply-but-paid-poorly-too) carried a story that says it pays to work in Switzerland: employees in Zurich and Geneva have the highest net wages in the world, a study by banking group UBS shows, making Switzerland a very employee-friendly country. And at the other end of the continuum, employees in Mumbai take home the lowest. Okay, we may not want to relate to India, but the world’s cheapest places to live were not just India’s Delhi and Mumbai, but also Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur, and Manila in the Philippines. Moreover, the average employee in many of these cities, as well as Jakarta and Nairobi, gets paid some of the world’s lowest salaries which have between 11 percent and 15 percent of the purchasing power of a salary in Zurich.

Just to reinforce this message, the study claimed that “an average wage-earner in Zurich and New York can buy an iPod nano from an Apple store after nine hours of work. At the other end of the spectrum, workers in Mumbai need to work 20 nine-hour days, roughly the equivalent of one month’s salary”.

The study, published every three years, compares the income and purchasing power of employees in 73 cities across the globe, highlighting wide discrepancies in wages between different regions, and even within the same country. The biggest gaps were found in Asia, the study said, with Tokyo ranking as one of the world’s five costliest cities while the capitals of developing countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines and India were all at the bottom of the price range. So, shouldn’t Malaysians be considering moving abroad to work? It’s all about the money!

This morning, Arsenal lost a hard-fought game against Manchester United, losing 1-2. The Gunners were a better team but they still lost. Arshavin opened accounts for Arsenal in the 40th minute, but a Wayne Rooney penalty (59) and Abou Diaby's own goal (64) cancelled the lead and worse, gave the Devils a flattering one-goal lead. Van Persie could have equalized in the last minute of stoppage time but for the disallowed goal and the linesman’s flag. No wonder Arsene Wenger was angry and thereafter, he was also sent from the dug-out for kicking an empty water bottle. And so the Devils (and I mean this literally) got the 3 points, and the Gunners could only shake their heads in disbelief.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cow Head Protest in Shah Alam





 




































Yesterday, a disgruntled group of warped protesters who claimed to be aggrieved residents of Shah Alam's Section 23 dumped a severed cow's head outside the Selangor state secretariat. The "residents" asserted that the planned construction of a Hindu temple in a supposedly 90 percent Malay-Muslim neighbourhood was inappropriate and insensitive.

But this time, thankfully, the police were excitedly restrained, unlike their excessive clampdown on other forms of protests that involved Hindraf, Bersih and the anti-ISA coalition. In other words, they just silently stood there and watched with a good measure of respect when the protestors were spitting and kicking the bloodied cow head.

If this is not double-standards, I don't know what is. And it looks like we have also become very intolerant now.













In today’s EPL match, Liverpool won 3-2 against Bolton; the Reds’ goals coming from Johnson (41), Torres (56), and Gerrard (83). Liverpool can count themselves lucky to win they are still not playing like Champions!

The Reds may have been happy to have won but it is an unconvincing win!










HICT’s Indian Arts & Cultural Society – by far, the most active Club in the College – organized Kalakkal Glitz 09. I had promised to attend, and I did.

I must say it was an enjoyable evening of traditional dances and pulsating music. And I enjoyed it! Really! And the other thing that strikes me is how well-organized the event was. Everything was done well, and credit should go to Mahinthan Kumar and company for an excellent job.

Divided Loyalties?

Cocksure Arsenal secured their Champions League spot when they ran out 5-1 winners on aggregate and 3-1 on August 27 after Eduardo, Eboue and Arshavin all netted for the home side. Donati grabbed a late goal to give the Celtic faithful something to cheer about on a controversial night in North London – but controversial or not, Celtic missed the boat to Europe.



Mathew on Tuesday raised the issue about my divided loyalties when he hinted that I am a terribly confused person since I support Celtic, Liverpool, and Arsenal. Let me explain. I support Celtic because this was the first team that I looked up to, when I got acquainted with British football. Having spent the better part of four years in Glasgow, I grew to love the Bhoys, the city and Scotland. And Celtic of course plays in the SPL. Liverpool plays in the EPL, and so, when I chose to support the Reds – to me, at least – there is no conflict of affections. Well, Arsenal is a different story. I love London, truly a global city, and I habitually frequented this megalopolis during my undergraduate years in the UK – and so, the Gunners represent my love for London. But let it be known that if I have to choose between Liverpool and Arsenal – I would pick Liverpool. So here’s somebody giving you a message that is loud and clear, Mathew:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

An Activity-filled Wednesday

Yesterday, I did a 30-minute presentation “What Employers Want” to High School students attending our 2-day HICT-Maxis Holiday Camp – and I daresay I built a good rapport with this small group of 60-plus students. Although the topic was serious, there was still room for the students to laugh and have fun. I was the only HOD doing a presentation, so I guess I must have the ability to entertain, in addition to merely presenting facts and more facts. I enjoyed myself too, if I may add.

Also, in the evening, I dropped in at the MIMPJ Toastmasters Club meeting. I managed to get a speaking slot – and so I did my Speech # 4: Prsenting an Award. I used the Best Male Lecturer 2009 trophy that I won recently as my prop, and even got the participation of DTM S.K. Ratnam to “act” as the recipient of this award. This was a simple speech after all and I did reasonably well. Two speeches back-to-back – not bad, eh? My evaluator was DTM Gina Leong, and she commended me for a speech well done. To quote her: "He (meaning I) followed to the 'T' the objectives of the assignment".

I even took part in the Table Topics session and my topic was “There is nothing to be afraid of”, to which I did rather well. NK Valli, the Table Topic evaluator commented that I started off with humor, and she thought that it was good. Sometimes, I surprised myself - I mean, I didn't know I could be humorous. Haha!

And of course, the news about the Permatang Pasir state seat by-election was as expected. This time, if you believe what the media are saying, there are definite racial undertones in the way one party is campaigning. As The Malaysian Insider pointed out, “if this by-election was to gauge the effectiveness of UMNO’s communal politicking, the results point to only one conclusion: failure”. PAS candidate Mohd Salleh Man, thumped UMNO candidate Rohaizat Othman, with a majority of 4,551 – the former garnered 9,618 votes against the latter’s 5,067. And the defeated candidate had the audacity to hint that his defeat was caused by “the failure of the Chinese community here to fulfill its vows of support” – which is an indirect admission that the race card has not worked its magic for Umno and BN (Webpage htt
p://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/36047-pas-maintains-chinese-support-umno-race-tactics-a-flop, accessed August 26, 2009).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Best Man's Speech

We had our HICT Toastmasters Club meeting today, and I was again slotted to speak. In fact, there were five of us doing our speaking assignments, and I was glad to see the others finally making progress on their Competent Communicator manual, especially Mathew, Shireen and Alan – all 3 of them doing assignment # 4. Mike Cheang of course was ahead of the others, doing assignment # 7.

I did assignment # 3: "The Roast" from the Special Occasion Speeches, titled “Arun & Ayesha”. Area Governor Allan Gan ACB CL evaluated me and I could catch two remarks he made: “Classy speech” and “infusions of humor’ or something to that effect. I was also happy with my speech this time around, although I didn’t faithfully follow the script that I prepared. This was the first time I wrote out my speech and I even read it aloud four times during a quick lunch break – but alas, I still didn’t quite use the entire speech. Anyway, I am on cloud nine. I know we video-taped the speeches, so we are likely to be able to get to view our individual performances. I am not sure if this is a good idea but I suppose playback has its usefulness. Even now, at this hour, I am feeling really upbeat about my speech.

Early this morning Malaysian time, Liverpool got whipped 1-3 at home by Aston Villa! Oh, what a crying shame! Rafa Benitez put on a very brave front, and explained to BBC radio: “The first 20 minutes we were alright but an own goal and another goal in (first half) extra time and then a penalty when I thought we were playing better and pushing hard, there were too many things against us" (Webpage
http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2009/08/24/sports/sports-uk-soccer-england.html, retrieved August 25, 2009). I have been really down in the dumps because of this heart-breaking loss, but now that I am on a high after my speech this evening, my disappointment has become somewhat tolerable. A seesaw of emotions really battered me today, but I am a survivor. Liverpool will also survive and the Reds will make a comeback, that's for sure!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Guinness Guilt

I am feeling a wee bit guilty. I am a Carlsberg drinker – by choice! Besides the fact that Carlsberg is a great beer, it is also because I support Liverpool. Why? Carlsberg is the shirt sponsor of Liverpool FC. So I must confess that last night, while I did crave for a Carlsberg … well, for a whole 6 seconds anyway… I still enjoyed my Guinness nonetheless…

But I know that many people are put off by their first taste of Guinness as the bitter, burnt flavor can take getting used to. Guinness is an acquired taste. I remembered my first drink of Guinness, and it tasted horrible. After that, I resisted the urge to drink it again – all the while preferring my beer. I recalled a Bentong friend, mixing Guinness and Anchor (those days, Anchor was a big beer brand) – to make it easier to drink, and gradually, I could drink the stout beer on its own. In fact, these days, I quite enjoy Guinness, particularly ice-cold Guinness. Actually, all it takes is to ignore that initial shock of bitterness from the first sip, but once you let the creamy goodness envelop your palate – the stout just flows smoothly down your parched throat and you can fully savor the full-bodied taste of Guinness. Well, at least, that’s what I experience anyway.

Okay, to assuage any residue of guilt feelings that I might still have as a result of my Guinness indulgence yesterday – I am posting two of my favorite Carlsberg commercials:

Celtic Wins

In a late match yesterday, Celtic faced off against St Johnstone – the final result, Celtic 5 St Johnstone 2; the five goals coming from Fortune (21, 54); Maloney (28, 53); and McDonald (74).

Tomorrow is the start of a new semester for both my programs – and again, I will be busy as a beaver. I have a full plate of courses to teach and I will be up to my ears managing students. I will be tied up with 28.5 hours of teaching per week, not mentioning the additional hours needed for preparing coursework, exams, and the like. Now who says teaching is fun? Didn't William Glasser once said: "Effective teaching may be the hardest job there is"?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

250 Years of Guinness

Kuala Lumpur has been selected as the sole Asian location to host the landmark Arthur’s Day celebration in conjunction with Guinness’ 250th anniversary and as a toast to brand founder Arthur Guinness. After all, the Guinness brand first came to Malaysia in 1880 while the brewery, which was the first brewery outside Ireland, was set up here in 1965. Malaysia remains one of the most important markets for Guinness stout and was ranked in the top 10 in Asia in terms of stout consumption.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I attended the 250th Anniversary Dinner at the Mines Convention Center, Kuala Lumpur. The crowd was mostly Chinese and “older” – honestly, not really my type of crowd! Still there was dinner, music and entertainment, and of course, Guinness.

The Guinness person on my right is Rachel, a HELP University College Business student. Fancy meeting her at this event.

Still on Guinness, I came across this Guinness TV ad and I loved it. So enjoy...



Back to football – there’s a match involving Arsenal tonight. It is now expected that the Gunners will be in full throttle to clinch another win against Portsmouth. No wonder they go in to the match as favorites. And the Gunners did win, defeating Portsmouth 4-1; the goals coming from Diaby (18, 21); Gallas (51); and Ramsey (68).

Friday, August 21, 2009

Paul LeBlanc is Coming

HICT Convocation is now scheduled for October 31 – the change in date is to accommodate the presence of Paul LeBlanc, SNHU President who will grace this ceremony. After all, SNHU students form the largest bloc of graduands in any HICT convocation. I am sure SNHU graduands are really looking forward to his presence!

In the August 19 game, Fernando Torres gave Liverpool the perfect start by notching his first goal of the campaign in the 4th minute before Glen Johnson marked his home debut by making it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time. Dirk Kuyt increased Liverpool's lead in the 78th minute and David Ngog put the seal on an impressive display in stoppage time (90+4). Final score: Liverpool 4 Stoke 0. And the Reds finally got their first win. I am sure Benitez gave a big sigh of relief. I know I did.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Gunners on a Roll

The third and final day of Orientation was, I think, interesting. Plus the fact that the freshies did a presentation. Thanks especially to Edrickson, Mathew, Arun, Amira, Moddy, Zechariah, Heng Shen and others for helping out.

I read this report in The Malay Mail about Twitter messages. US-based Pear Analytics randomly sampled 2,000 messages from the public stream of Twitter and separated them into 6 categories: news, spam, self-promotion, pointless babble, conversational and pass-along value. And not surprisingly, “pointless babble” accounted for 811 tweets or 40.55% of the total number of messages sampled. Conversational messages – defined as tweets that go back and forth between users or try to engage followers in conversation – accounted for 751 messages or 37.50%. Tweets with “pass-along value” – messages that are being “re-tweeted” or passed on by users to their followers accounted for 174 messages or 8.70%. Self-promotion by companies was next with 117 tweets or 5.85%, spam with 75 tweets or 3.75%, and tweets with news from mainstream media publications accounted for 72 tweets or 3.60% (August 18, 2009, p 14). It does make twittering sound so frivolous an activity, does it not?

Celtic versus Arsenal: How the two teams reached the play-offs

Runners-up in the Scottish Premier League last term, Celtic owe their place in the play-off round to Georgios Samaras's last-gasp strike at FC Dinamo Moskva, Scott McDonald having struck at the end of the first half as Celtic recorded a 2-0 victory following their 1-0 reverse in the opener.
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Arsenal enter the fray at this stage courtesy of their fourth-placed finish in the Premier League last season. The Gunners have contested eleven consecutive group stages, earning an automatic spot each time until 2006/07, when they defeated NK Dinamo Zagreb in qualifying. They then progressed past AC Sparta Praha in 2007/08 and FC Twente last term.



From all of the possible opponents for the last qualifying round for the Champions League group stage, Arsenal were the team Celtic most wanted to avoid. But alas, it was not to be – and two of my fave teams had to face each other in the qualifying first leg on August 18 (yesterday). And if we had examined the goal scorers’ list in Arsenal’s demolition of Everton, we should become painfully aware that Celtic went into this game, knowing that the Gunners carried a goal threat in almost every position.

Who did I pick to win? Of course, Celtic. No matter what, I had to choose Celtic, the first team I had supported when I first went to the UK many, many years ago.

Celtic matched Arsenal for the best part of 45 minutes in Glasgow before a deflected William Gallas effort and a second-half own goal from Gary Caldwell put Arsenal in control of the Champions League play-off with Celtic – the final score read 2-0. Sigh! It’s one of those luckless days…

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

DiGi Ads

The second day of Orientation saw freshies and seniors bonding. The day ended with the taking of a group photo – and the smiles are evident of good fellowship that has emerged.

And remember SNHU senior, Edric Ho, who appeared in the Lifebuoy ad? Now, he is in a DiGi commercial, and boy, can he twirl! But where’s the skirt and tutu?


Since we are talking about DiGi ads, I love this particular commercial, which featured the iconic Yellow Man; this video clip gave me feel-good vibes:

Monday, August 17, 2009

August 09 Orientation

The ADP Orientation (for August 09) kicks off today – but this time, we are having it over 3 days. Again, Edrickson Duane and company are helping me out. The August numbers are very smallish, and certainly disappointing. A total of 15 students came for the Orientation. Still, the show must go on…

Liverpool lost 1-2 to Tottenham in yesterday’s match, but it was a game spoilt by dubious refereeing decisions. Referee Phil Dowd's decision to deny the Reds two late penalties cost us the match. And so, Spurs held on for their first opening-day win in four seasons. Still, Liverpool didn't play well at all!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hollywood Glam

Hollywood Glam came alive at the Kota Permai Golf & Country Club, Kota Kemuning yesterday evening. Organized by SNHU students and promoted by Diploma in Business students – it was a glittering event filled with music, dancing and awards. As for the awards, students nominated and students voted. And so, I won the Best Male Lecturer Award. Other notable awards won by HICT staffers include Sheila Cheng (Best Female Lecturer), Shireen Ng (Best Admin Support Staff) and Arulkumar (Best Dressed Male). And of course, students won the other awards in the other categories. Lots of photo opportunities for everybody, with cameras clicking away non-stop.





The football season has finally arrived and yesterday, Celtic and Arsenal played their first matches against Aberdeen and Everton respectively. The Bhoys bested the Dons 3-1, their goals coming from McGeady (29, 42) and McDonald (44). And the Gunners produced a 6-1 thriller against the Toffees; their goal scorers were Denilson (26), Vermaelen (37), Gallas (41), Fabregas (48, 69), and Eduardo (88).


At
www.caughtoffside.com, Alan Smith described the Arsenal-Everton match as follows “Yes, Everton were woeful, defending like lifeless corpses, but to a man the Arsenal side were superb, hardly putting a foot wrong until in the 91st minute they felt sorry enough for their inept opponents to let them pull a goal back and the Gunners back four lose their clean sheet bonus”. I wouldn’t be so bold as to put it this way, but yes, the Gunners played really well.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Snoring Facts

Oh yeah, I attended the D’Utama Advanced Toastmasters Club meeting yesterday, and, l did my speech No.2 – ‘Speaking in Praise’ – from the Special Occasion Speeches manual. It was an eulogy and the title was “Farewell to Robin”. I didn’t believe I did well – the feedback raised some pertinent issues that I know I must address. Since this was a tribute to a close friend – even if Robin was a fictional character – I had wanted tears to flow, but that didn’t happen. What a mischance! What a letdown!

I found these facts about snoring pretty interesting and I thought I'd like to share with my readers:

30% of those over age 30 snore, rising to 40% in middle-age (Source: British Medical Journal, 1997).

Two-thirds of partnered adults say their partner snores, while 6 out of 10 of all adults (59%) say they snore (Source National Sleep Foundation's 2005 poll).

Almost 85 percent of snorers exceed 38 decibels of sound, which is equivalent to the noise of light highway traffic. And men snore louder than women. (Research by HealthEast and the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic, in webpage http://www.putanendtosnoring.com/stats.htm, accessed August 14, 2009).

Snorers, please sleep on the couch tonight!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

ICI9 in KL


I was privileged to attend the OUM-organized Ninth International Conference on Information (also referred to as ICI9) with the theme “Learning Innovations in Higher Education” at The Legend Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. Dates: August 12-13, 2009. Actually, I would have liked to present a paper at this conference – but I missed the deadline for abstract submission – and so I had to be contented to being a participant only. Even so, I am glad to say I was active in most of the panel discussions that took place.

The panel discussions on Wednesday – at least those that I attended – were really not up to mark – save one session, i.e. “Widening Access for Education: Proposing a Conceptual Model for Integrated Open Distance Learning (ODL) on Demand” – a 5-member group effort under the leadership of OUM Associate Professor Dr. Lim Tick Meng. I have asked for the PowerPoint slides.

Today, the panel discussions were much-improved, and one that I particularly enjoyed was Indranee Liew’s “Utilising the Multi-Dimensional Nature of the Internet to Develop Effective E-Teaching and E-Learning Tasks that Engage Students in Higher Order Learning”. Indranee is from Disted College, Penang, and she knows HELP's Dr. Goh Chee Leong.

My other grouse is that the panel discussions were only of 20 minutes duration per session – far too short to be really informative or to allow a Q&A session that is not so rushed. The organizer could perhaps, consider 40 minutes the next time. Anyway, I did immensely enjoyed all three keynote addresses.
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I saw some familiar faces – in particular, ex-HICT colleagues Rohidah and Jimmy Teo. It’s a small world, after all. But as is usual in these Conferences, we get to know people, e.g. Danny Chng and Dr. Tina Lim from OUM, Vijaya Malar Arumugan from Berjaya University College of Hospitality, and Hasnuddin Ab Rahman from Kolej Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Selangor. Still I cannot deny that I have learned from this Conference; and overall, it is interesting and useful too.

Talking about conferences, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the PowerPoint slides that I presented at the University of Hertfordshire's 2009 Blended Learning Conference in June are featured on this webpage http://www.herts.ac.uk/fms/documents/teaching-and-learning/blu/conference2009/Session_24_Ong.pdf.. I prepared these slides, and so, it's great to see that this 'work' is available on the Web.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ticket to Hell

By chance, I came across The Malaysian Reserve and saw this article “Ticket to Hell is on Offer at Europe’s Airlines” (August 12, 2009, p 14). Matthew Lynn wrote that “cattle on the way to the abattoir receive better care than most passengers do on the new breed of budget airlines”. I too, had recently complained about my AirAsia X flight from London to Kuala Lumpur about the lack of service.

Anyway, two of the biggest hits on the Internet this year have been from irate air travelers. There was a letter to Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd president Richard Branson complaining about the ‘culinary journey of hell” on a Virgin flight. UAL Corp’s United Airlines unit was expertly dissected by a country singer aggrieved that the carrier had damaged his guitar. His song “United Breaks Guitars” has had almost five million views on YouTube.
And Lynn says it’s about to get much worse: “Ryanair Holdings plc, the Irish budget airline that prides itself on not caring about service is now thinking about charging to use the toilets. It is already getting rid of check-in desks, and the company plans to make passengers carry all their baggage onto the plane. They will probably get us to bring along a few liters of jet fuel pretty soon. The Chinese carrier Spring Airlines is contemplating selling ‘standing-only” tickets to pack more people onto its planes, according to a report on MSNBC. Scary, isn't it?Errmmm… this makes my AirAsia X experience looked tame by comparison!
TreeHugger, a leading media outlet dedicated to driving sustainability mainstream wrote about an Airbus proposal (quickly denied) for standing-room seating 3 years ago. Perhaps that’s why they are called Airbuses?

New York Times, from an earlier proposal for standup flying (Website
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/07/standing-room-on-airplanes.php, posted July 09, 2009).

And why not? But it is carrying things a bit too far, eh?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Plummeting Press Freedom

These days, I have stopped buying newspapers – simply because they have been belching nauseating government propaganda – preferring instead to get my local news from the Internet, be it from The Malaysian Insider or the Nut Graph. Well, except, maybe The Sun, which is still credible. I suppose it is to be expected since Malaysia’s print media is largely owned by political parties – e.g. UMNO owns The New Straits Times and Berita Harian; and MCA owns The Star. Is it any wonder that Malaysia went into free fall in the Reporters sans Frontiers press freedom rankings from 92 in 2006, plunging to 124 in 2007, and nose-diving to 132 in 2008?

UK’s The Independent carried a ‘Premier League: Club by club guide’ (August 10, 2009), which detailed English clubs’ prospects this season. I am just going to focus on the Top 6 Clubs – as per Steve Tongue’s predictions – and it is interesting to note that this football writer expects Chelsea to be No. 1 (No. 3 last season), Liverpool No. 2 (No. 2 last season), Manchester United No. 3 (No.1 last season), Arsenal No. 4 (No. 4 last season), Manchester City No. 5 (No. 10 last season), and Tottenham No. 6 (No. 8 last season). I definitely don’t agree with this assessment, and my bet is Liverpool winning the EPL in 2009/2010! And to pre-empt the howls of protest, I wish to state here matter-of-factly that I am rational, even if I am biased.

After all, Liverpool has a proven and potent strike force in Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres – and barring injuries – they can demolish any defense in the world. Which EPL team has the firepower to match Liverpool? Goals decide the outcome of any match – and these two can deliver bountiful goals!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Google PageRank: 01

Did you know that Google PageRank is a measure of the relative importance of a web page on the Internet? And it’s cool to know that the Google PageRank for my blog 'As I See It' is 01. Good, eh?

The headline “Pakatan sure to lose Selangor, Dr M predicts” that appears in The Malaysian Insider today is so platitudinous. Well, it features Mahathir Mohamad ringing the death knell for the Pakatan Rakyat-led Selangor government. He was citing the open disputes that are evident among the Pakatan parties, especially in Selangor of late. When I read this report, there are already 30 comments posted by readers. One in particular is a real gem – this comment by ‘déjà vu’ is very accurate: “... we prefer ‘feuding’ partners than robbers” (Webpage http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/34759-pakatan-sure-to-lose-selangor-says-dr-m-, accessed August 10, 2009). ‘Partners’ refer to the 3 Pakatan parties and ‘robbers’ refer to the BN clique. Yes, to be sure, the 3 Pakatan parties, PKR, DAP and PAS seem to be frequently battling, bickering, dissenting, locking horns, quarreling, squabbling, warring – whatever. So what? Disagreement is not necessarily a bad thing. To me, it is a healthy process because it demonstrates that democracy is alive in Selangor – they are all equal partners, they speak their own minds, and they do not need to kowtow to one another. So what if there is in-fighting; after all, it is part and parcel of the process of learning to work together. And let me declare here that my view in this issue counts because I am a registered voter in Selangor!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Execution according to Franklin Covey

I found this YouTube clip which briefly explains why ‘execution’ is so important, yet it is often overlooked to the detriment of the organization itself, and the video also serving as an introduction to Franklin Covey's 4 Disciplines of Execution:



And another video that highlights those 4 things that organizations must do in order to execute well:



Those who are still in the dark about what 'execution' really means - hopefully, these two video clips will enlighten them.

Division C TLI at Mesiniaga

This morning, I dutifully went to a Toastmasters meeting, the Division C TLI Supplementary Session at Mesiniaga, Subang Jaya. (TLI stands for Toastmasters Leadership Institute, for those who don't know). There were 30 of us altogether, and I must admit that I have found it very useful and dare I say it, very interesting too. I am sure the other Exco members of the HICT Toastmasters Club who attended with me, agreed as well.


I particularly liked the 2 Franklin Covey videos they screened: ‘Goals’ and ‘It Is Not Just Important But Wildly Important’ – the first is especially meaningful because it illustrates the importance of actualizing goals through execution. There, that word ‘execution’ again! If only we understand how important this concept ‘execution’ is to the organization.

Anyway, this YouTube video clip - although not the exact one that was screened today - captures the essence of what we learned this morning:


The Star today (p W46) was carrying a news report on Julie Powell’s blog (she started her life as a blogger in 2002 at age 29) which became a memoir, Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, which was later, Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, which then became a movie – Julie & Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. (The movie is also based on Child’s My Life in France.)

I had stumbled on this piece of news when I was devouring this newspaper this Saturday afternoon, and there is a certain truism about what she had said: “I had no idea what it was going to do for me when I started. It was really sort of a personal project to cut out a piece of my daily existence, purely for me, that gave me a creative outlet so the rest of my life didn’t seem so stultifying”. And of course, for many of us bloggers – it is a sentiment many of us can relate to. It is really about self-expression, isn’t it?

Few bloggers will come close to Powell’s success, say blog experts, especially considering there are 133 million blogs afloat on the Web, according to blog search engine Technorati, which has kept track since 2002.

And Powell readily admitted: “It’s such a challenge to keep up a blog now. It requires a great deal of rigor, discipline, a real stick-to-it-ness”. Now, this is very true – how many of us can post, say, a paragraph or more on a regular basis?

If Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim has his way, the government is set on censoring the Internet, to ensure only the opinions it likes will be available online – even though he had only confirmed of plans to develop an Internet filtering system, supposedly for pornography. But as we all know, the government has zilch credibility, so who will believe him? Therefore, it is somewhat of a relief when PM Najib Razak in a front-paged headline, declares that “We will not filter Net access”. The sub-headline reads “Blocking information flow will lead to public discontent” (The New Straits Times, August 08, 2009, p 1). Maybe Najib is getting to be a little bit more intelligent now? For the sake of this country, let’s hope so. In the same newspaper, Koh Lay Chin in her Opinion article gives this timely reminder: “If governments want to win the battle of public opinion online, it would make more sense to engage and understand their citizens online than to conduct a counterproductive mission and spectacularly annoy them” (p 17).

Friday, August 7, 2009

Updates

Just some updates on previous entries I made.

The teaching of Maths and Science in English issue continues to invite furious debate. Anyway, Mahathir Mohamad conducted a blog poll where the final results only served to support his own contention that the Government has in fact, erred. There were 100,204 votes, of which only 14% agreed with the Government’s decision (to abandon the teaching of the said subjects in English), but that an overwhelming 86% disagreed with this policy reversal (Blog. http://chedet.co.cc/chedetblog/, accessed August 07, 2009). Can this poll outcome change the government’s thinking? Unlikely. We don’t know it yet but we are doomed. When will we realize that English language proficiency in this country has plunged to a level that is piteously pathetic? When we become incapable of speaking and writing proper English – and I am not even referring to good English, just proper English – this is a state of affairs that can only be described as lamentably sub-par. How on earth do we expect to compete with the rest of the globalized world? Wake up, Malaysia!

Besides the deteriorating state of English in this country, we are also grappling with a worsening human rights situation, made worse by the naked use of state agencies as political instruments of the government. Prof Khoo Khay Kim from The Human Rights Commission (Sukhakam) has come out to make this statement: “The police and judiciary should not interfere or get involved in politics. They should be apolitical and uphold only what they are entrusted with by the people” (The Sun, August 07, p 2).

And just in case, some of us are still missing the point, please read Praba Ganesan’s article “Heroes don’t hold batons” at webpage
http://themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/opinion/praba-ganesan/34363-heroes-dont-hold-batons, posted on August 06 in The Malaysian Insider.

There is yet another interesting article written by Wong Chin Huat in The Nut Graph on August 05; he began by reproducing a friend’s question that appeared in Facebook: "[The Barisan Nasional] (BN) insists [on keeping the Internal Security Act (ISA)]; do you want to keep the BN?"

And then his commentary: “This question is spot on. It simplifies many issues into a single concern. It almost frames for Malaysians a referendum question – that is, a public vote over a single issue. Do we want to live in a country like this?

Metaphorically, the 1 Aug 2009 pro- and anti-ISA protests were a referendum waiting to be put to the vote. But as it turned out, it isn't just about the ISA anymore. The BN may have disagreed with the call to repeal the ISA, but did it need to make 589 arrests in one day? Did it need to rough up the elderly, women and children? Did it need to fire tear gas on Masjid Jamek as if it were another Gaza? Did it need to spray water cannons on Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman as if it were Bangkok during the Songkran festival?

We can always agree to disagree on laws and policies, but we cannot agree to disagree on the use of violence”.

In any case, do read Wong’s full article on webpage http://www.thenutgraph.com/launching-msia-two-point-zero. I don’t think I need to add any new comments here – it suffices to say that I subscribe to his views.
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This YouTube clip of silent-film actor Charlie Chaplin (Did you know that he shares the same birthday as Glam?) is taken from his first dialogue movie The Great Dictator (1940) where he played the role of the Dictator of Tomania, clearly modeled on Adolf Hitler. In this video, he gave a timeless 'leadership' speech that has relevance even today. We hope and pray that those in power can be inspired by it and learn from it:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Exam Fervor

With almost a week of SNHU exams completed, I have been pleasantly surprised to especially see my senior students staying focused on their exams in a way that I hadn’t detected before. This is not to say that previous cohorts are not at all interested in their studies – far from it; it’s just that this time around, there is this heavy haze of studious fervor blanketing these students, so much so that we need to take the sharpest cleaver to slice open the congealed air and release the trapped atoms of scholarly intensity. Seeing these students zoom in on their studies is very comforting because it tells me that they can be just as disciplined if they want to. You know the saying, Work hard, play hard? Well, SNHU students are well-equipped to do both.

My last words on last Saturday’s anti-ISA rally – well, in truth, they are not mine, but someone else’s! Marina Mahathir (daughter of ex-PM Mahathir Mohamad), who has her own column “Musings” in The Star (August 05, 2009, p N43) wrote this: “There are those who complained about the inconvenience of such demos because mostly it prevented them from driving into town to go shopping. Perhaps the complaints are wrongly directed at the demonstrators. Rather it should be directed at the police who put up road barriers and blocks a full day before the planned demos and caused traffic jams long before a single protestor put a foot down on a street.

Would it not have been better to simply issue warnings that since a demo is expected, people intending to go into the city should just take public transport?

Oh, but the demo is illegal! Being illegal doesn’t exactly stop it from happening, not when people don’t believe it should be illegal.

So if you know something is going to happen anyway, all you can do is ensure that it happens in an orderly manner with the least inconvenience as possible”.

Now this is what I would call a very sensible commentary to this whole issue of 'illegal' rallies that the government and their state apparatus claimed to be organized by opposition politicians who are hell-bent on spawning pure anarchy on peaceful Malaysian streets – of course, we shall conveniently ignore the fact that our streets are no longer peaceful; street crime already showing their ugly presence. And so her concluding remarks revealed a certain unconcealed candor: “What did the tear gas achieve? It lost at least 20,000 votes for the government, even more if you count those not participating but concerned anyway. It lost the votes of those who inadvertently got caught in the mess. But here’s the thing. While the middle of the city was all eye-stinging chaos, the rest of the city functioned as normal. People went out lunching and shopping as they would any Saturday, all the while keeping tabs of what was happening on their mobiles.

The city did not shut down; nobody felt any fear of the consequences of such demos. At the same time, they were not oblivious to what the demo was all about, which is a sign of the maturity of our people. While the doomsayers are trying to paint demos as the end of all civilization, the public proved they are indeed civilized, more so than politicians anytime”. You are so correct, Marina!