Mata Satu

the world seen with one eye – limited and skewed

Naturalised the foreign footballers — 26/07/2015

Naturalised the foreign footballers

Going by the performance of the hotch potch Malaysian national team that took on Liverpool on Friday, the call made in the New Sunday Times today for Malaysia to award Malaysian citizenship to foreign footballers is quite logical. After all many counties have done it in sports. Singapore has done it years ago, Philippines has done it, even England has done it. Of course Malaysia has done it in other sports. Remember Irina Maharani and Mohamad Hidayat?

In the match, Dollah Salleh fielded five non Malaysians and they played a crucial role in securing the 1-1 draw. Patrick Wleh repaid the faith with that well taken opening goal and Bikana saved Malaysia so often that I wonder what would have been the score had the defence manned by the likes of the Razak twin brothers or Mahali Jasuli.

If having naturalised footballers would mean a better performance by the national team, why not? With our ranking now lower than Timor Leste and getting whipped 6-0 by Palestine, how much lower can we go?

it was really heartening to see minnows like Panama and Jamaica did well in the current CONCACAF Gold Cup. Panama did so well to get into the semi final and got beaten by Mexico only by a dubious referee decision. Still they won the bronze by beating the more glamorous USA. I am rooting for Jamaica for tomorrow morning final. If only Malaysia can play like the Panamaians….. Maybe we should get TMJ to helm the FAM.

Eidul Fitri in Sarawak, 1436 — 25/07/2015

Eidul Fitri in Sarawak, 1436

I have been spending quite a number Hari Raya festivities over the years. I have been returning to Kuching for eidul fitr since the eighties. Over the past week, I was in Kuching again for this year’s Eidul Fitr celebrations. A number things of really caught my eyes this year.

1. The cost of living in Kuching is no longer more expensive than KL. It used to be in the old days where most things were  more expensive. I do not know about other things but some routine items that I bought were definitely a lot cheaper in Kuching. A kilo of banana at the Satok market costs only RM2.99 as compared to RM4.99 or even RM5.99 in Chow Kit market. More remarkably it was “pisang emas” which is more expensive and quite difficult to find in KL these days as the banana plantations throughout he peninsular were ravaged by diseases. Ten stalks of serai costs only RM1.00 and five stalks of bunga kantan costs RM2.00. One kilo of  siakap fresh from the Telaga Air jetty costs RM25.00

There is only one road in Kuching that traffic has to pay toll and you have several other choices if you do not want to pay the toll. The Demak- Pending road is the only road in Kuching that charged toll. On top of that, there is always the “penambang” that you can take to transport you across the Sarawak River in no time for RM1.00 one way.

The parking charges is only 20 sen per half an hour. I forgot to top up the parking coupon on three occasions and for that I was fined a total of……RM6.40. That would not be enough to cover half an hour parking in the Jalan TAR or in most of the KL city malls. Even more “ridiculous”  is the airport parking charges – RM1.00 per hour! And do you know that The Sunday STAR in Kuching is only RM1.20, that is 30 sen cheaper than in the peninsular. We had to take ferry to cross the Sampadi River in Sampadi on our way from Matang to Lundu, the ferry charges is only one ringgit. I believe the Government (either the state or Federal) should have built the bridge. It is just a seven minute crossing and I do not think the bridge would cost that many millions to build. I am sure they can sourced the funds somewhere. Well that is another story.

On board the ferry to Sampadi/Lundu
On board the ferry to Sampadi/Lundu

I do not think Kuching folks realised that they had it so good.

2. There is a Perodua in almost every household in Kuching. Little wonder why Perodua has overtaken Proton by leaps and bounds in total industry volume (TIV) statistics. As you drive along Jalan Astana or Jalan Semariang or any lanes in the many villages on the fringes of Kuching, you invariably can see either a Viva, Kancil, Kelisa or Axia on the driveways. Sparingly you would see other makes. Mostly Protons though.

3. While the baju Melayu is still the garbs of choice, the “jubah” is making headway.I see more men wearing the jubah this year as compared to previous years. The same goes for the ladies, more are wearing jubah compared to the traditional baju kurung. Is Sarawak  fortress of Baju Melayu during the Eidul Fitr period is crumbling? Or maybe the jubah is just a passing trend that is not going to threaten the enduring Baju Melayu. But I must admit that I really admire their tenacity in preserving the Baju Melayu, especially among the youths. You can see them wearing the national dress everywhere even when they are doing their pacak stunts, in the cinemas, dating at the waterfront, or racing illegally in their modified kapcais.


4. Sarawak needs a better planning and promotions of their vacations spots.

I was in Telaga Air on Thursday. A little fishing village that has seen a few attempts to be developed as a tourists destination. Credit must be given to the Government for building a beautiful water front promenade cum jetty in Telaga Air. I heard the place is haven for anglers. But on Thursday, they were only a few tourists. Most of the shops were closed. By the look of it, they have closed down for good. The small enterprises business centre was dilapidated. The fresh fish market has only three stalls opened. Lucky that I stopped by, there were a treasure trove of fresh jenahak, kerapu, siakap, terubok, bawal hitam, bawal putih, puput etc. And the prices were reasonable too.

5.  There is a new road from Semariang to Rambungan, the final portion just completed before the Eid. Part of the road was a dual lane carriageway on both sides. But such a big road leads to nowhere. At the end,  the road looped back to Samariang – what an expensive U – turn. The road was supposed to take us to Rambungan and Sampadi but after the Matang/politeknik junction there is only a small hand painted sign pointing to the road leading to the Sampadi ferry terminal. It was the same in many other places, the signs are either missing or have faded beyond legibility. This part of Sarawak has many attractive places that is not quite known to outsiders. Most tourists would flocked to Damai/Santubong/Bako area, but the Telaga Air, Pulau Sibu, Sematan and Pandan area are equally attractive. I hope the new CM, who incidentally represents the area would do something about it.

6. In the those days, carbonated drinks, were commonly served to visitors during the Hari Raya celebrations. Families would stock crates and crates of F&N, Yeos or Sundrop of various flavours. Serving cordials would be frowned upon, let alone hot drinks. On my first Hari Raya in Kuching, I had consumed probably five or six litres of concoction of orange, apple, grape, ice cream soda, fruitade or whatever flavour of the drinks served on the first day. No wonder I had diarrohea that night. Over the years things have changed a bit. more and more open houses are serving cordials, iced water or even tea or coffee.

Enjoying coconut juice at Pandan Beach, Lundu
Enjoying coconut juice at Pandan Beach, Lundu
When ramadan flew by like Usain Bolt. — 16/07/2015

When ramadan flew by like Usain Bolt.

Ramadhan 1436H is already on the last day. I am now waiting at Gate K16, KLIA2 waiting for my flight to my mother in law’s place. Unbelievable. This year i am so engrossed with the 1Bestarinet affairs, it suddenly dawns upon me that Ramadhan is already near the end. In barely an hour, there goes another opportunity for gaining multiple rewards.  There are certain things I was able to do better this year. I managed to do more dhuha prayers this year, read more pages of the Quran, more  sadakah. But then again the night prayers has declined, I was too knackered to wake up early. It was frustrating that I cannot improve on my Tarawih. I was as sleepy as ever to complete the eight rakaats plus the three witirs. I did not even attempt the 20 rakaat this year. And I attended less tazkirah this year. One of the few that I managed to attend this year talked about  things that pevented us from becoming a solehin. Firstly cannot differentiate between our wants and our needs. Thus we cannot reign our nafs. Secondly he talked about how we pride ourselves of our good deeds or how we are so proud of our achievements, so proud of our wealth, so proud of our intelligence, so proud of our ability that we forgot that those so called gifts and capabilities were from Him. We lost our humility, we lost our humanity. Next he was talking about how we lost the ability to take diferences in opinions. We are so confident and proud of our ideas and we come to the point of not accepting other opinions or worse still we cannot accept the fact that our opinions are completely wrong.

So, on this final minutes of the current ramadan, I humbly pray to him, please accept my fasting, please accept my faulty prayers and Quranic readings. Please accept my meagre sadakah which I sometimes gave grudgingly. Please forgive my shortcomings. Please free me of riba and debts. Please forgive my late mum and dad. Please forgive my wife and children and siblings. Please give me the strength, intelligence, efficiency, bravery, calmness and humilty in doing my job. Please cure me of any illnesses. Please accept me in your jannah and block me from your nar. Please allow me another chance to taste the next Ramadan.

Total social costs of smartphones — 30/06/2015

Total social costs of smartphones

Emeritus Prof Zulkifli Abd Razak recently wrote an interesting piece on the social costs of smart phones, drawing similarities to the early days of cigarettes smoking. In the early days smoking cigarettes were made to look glamorous, elevating social status, necessary for advancement and a sign that you are already there. Despite knowing the danger and health hazards of smoking, cigarettes companies conveniently and cleverly ignored, camouflaged and the smoke screen were so advanced cigarettes were on the forefront of many major sporting events worth billions of ringgit. It was not until recently that cigarettes adverts were banned from sporting events, after dangers of smoking became more evident. I still remember Ferrari had Malboro brazenly emblazoned on their tail wings, John Player Special on Lotus cars, Dunhill was the main sponsor in Stadium Merdeka.
Similarly, Prof Razak argued smart phones are following the same trends. Despite evidence to show the hazards posed by the exposure to the devices, companies often say there is no conclusive evidence to support the allegations. The danger from smart devices are just like the danger from any other electronic devices like the tv, vacuum cleaners, blenders, hi-fi set etc. The only different is that with smart phones you are constantly in close proximity with the active devices. Your smart phones is always at hand either in your hand bags, pockets, or a lot of youths sleep with their phones near them. The side effect of prolonged exposure to the electromagnetic radiation  is not quite known yet. Not unlike the early days of cigarettes smoking. The relatively young age of the smart phones phenomenon is hindering researchers of conclusive data. Prof Zulkifli is advocating cautions in propagating the virtues of smart devices so that we do not repeat the mistakes of discounting  the cigarettes smoking social costs.

Tablet of the Future. A dream of Dr Sugata Mitra — 25/06/2015

Tablet of the Future. A dream of Dr Sugata Mitra

Dr Sugata Mitra wrote an interesting piece on tablet of the future:

What if every child were to get a tablet computer at age 6? And what if the tablet is such that it grows up with the child and is still useful at age 100? What sort of a tablet would we need? Read on what Dr Sugata thought in his blog…

Its called ‘The Prime’
Abu got his Prime on his sixth birthday. It was in a sleek and shiny, wine coloured box next to his pillow when he woke up. Abu thought he should hug his mother, but considering her mood at six in the morning, he decided not to. Instead, he opened the box.
A soft and very organic silicone clamshell slipped out of the box. The prime nestled inside it. Abu opened the paper thin cover, like the cover of a new book. A tiny light blinked red, yellow and then blue on the top right corner of the very thin, half a millimetre, bezel around dark screen.
‘I am your Prime, Abu’, said the Prime and Abu nearly dropped it although the five inch screen was a perfect fit for his small hand. ‘Do you want to give me a name?’, said the Prime.
‘Boomba’, said Abu, now quite enjoying himself. His Prime giggled and said, ‘OK, Abu’
In the next fifteen minutes, Boomba took a picture of Abu’s face, his fingerprint, had him recite a poem to get his voice pattern, had him stand on itself to measure his weight. The black screen was now lit up with a pale blue light and a lovely abstract, fractal background. Abu found out that he could turn it off by saying ‘Get dark!’ and turn it on by picking it up, staring at it, or by saying ‘Boomba!’
Boomba found a WiFi signal, the date, time, its location, the ambient temperature and humidity from the Cloud and its sensors. Then it ‘dressed itself’ as it put it. Its quad core processor took less than ten seconds to do that. Now Boomba had a face, somewhat like that of a large mobile phone. Abu plugged its tiny wireless charger into a power socket, even though he was not supposed to touch any power sockets. Boomba told Abu it would charge upto 25 feet away from the socket, so he could put it next to his bed.
The Prime was expensive, but Boomba’s mother got it for free. The price of the Prime and unlimited lifelong 20 Mbps wireless broadband were paid for by the government, for every child, from a 1% tax on cigarettes, alcohol and cosmetics.
Abu carried his Prime everywhere. In school he found out that you could join Primes together to make bigger screens. In their Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLEs), Abu and three of his friends would take two Primes out of their silicone sleeves and put two Primes side by side until they clicked together. Then they would put two more below these two to make a ten inch screen. The bezels were so thin, they could barely make out the edges dividing the screens. Once, the entire group put all their Primes together to make a 60 inch screen and watched a TED talk. The speaker was nearly life size!
The tiny camera on the Prime could be slipped out of the Prime and put back facing the front or back of the tablet. So, Abu would have the camera face him when he was Skyping his friends or mediators. But he would turn the camera the other way when he wanted to take pictures or videos.
In Norway, a 10 year old had tied his Prime to his head with the camera pointed outwards. Abu was online with him over Skype. Then he got on a bicycle and Abu guided him to ride around his village and show him everything. It was different from India, Abu decided, but not that different. That evening he asked Boomba to tell him about the history of Norway and India. So different, and yet, so same.
Abu was too young to realise that his Prime would turn the camera and microphone on every 5 seconds for a quarter of a second so that it could make patterns from the pictures and sounds to figure out what Abu’s life was like. Once when Abu was sneezing, Boomba asked him to put his finger of the thermal sensor and told his mother that he was about to get a fever. Boomba would later also tell Abu’s parents that his height and weight were increasing normally and that his hand-eye coordination was fine. Boomba also reported that Abu’s hearing was really good and that his reading comprehension was a level above what it should be for his age.
Abu’s sister Julie was 17 and her Prime, called Amy, had been with her for the last 11 years. Amy was a bit battered from use but Julie had got the screen, camera and battery changed several times, so it really was like a new Prime. Amy knew Julie more than anyone else in the world. It knew her friends, her interests, her abilities, her looks, her moods, her relationships and her sorrows. Julie could not imagine a life without her Amy.
Sometimes, Amy would join with Boomba over the WiFi and exchange notes, or they would look for global patterns of child behaviour with millions of other Primes on the Cloud.
In school, the children would research topics in groups of four with their Primes joined together into 10 inch screens. Groups would talk to other groups, sometimes in other places in the world and discuss what they had found. During examinations, the Primes would help their owners work out the best answers and also check the childrens cognitive, creative and imaginative abilities.
Boomba had, in the meanwhile, taught Abu to play the guitar and sing. They often played a tune together and Abu’s mother thought that was really good.
Sometimes, at night, Boomba would call an eMediator from the Granny Cloud to read out fairy tales to Abu until he fell asleep. Then it would turn the lights out and keep an eye on the room door until morning. When Abu walked to the bus stop to go to school, Boomba rattled happily in his pocket. Once, when Abu tripped on the pavement and fell, Boomba had screamed out of his pocket, ‘This child needs your help, please, this child needs your help’.
Boomba grew with Abu, changing his stories, his games, his music, his research habits. It monitored Abu’s learning, his healthcare parameters, his learning and thinking styles, his intelligences. Boomba suggested solutions when it detected problems – it used the best resources from the Cloud to do so. It even changed its own voice to match his baritone. When, at 13 a thin moustache began to grow on Abu’s upper lip, Boomba showed him what it looked like and what he might look like at 40!
Then they laughed a lot, together.

I like the bit at the end, when he wrote:
Well, thats it, dear reader, about the tablet to grow up with. Except for the last bit. When, after a happy and productive life, Abu, now 93, fell into a quiet coma and died, Boomba did not make a sound. It waited for a while, as Abu’s fingers grew cold….then it deleted its drives on the Cloud….and switched off.

A humbling experience — 09/06/2015

A humbling experience

Over the weekend I was in Ipoh and Cameron highland. The journey to Ipoh was surprisingly tight. The normally two and a half hour trip took us another extra hour due to heavy traffic. It was not a long weekend but it is the school holiday period and the Saturday was a public holiday. Those who normally work on a Saturday got their day off and many took to the highway to travel. As usual my bad planning meant I have to take a few detours. Thinking I can top up the fuel tank at the rest areas, I just started off with the tank half full. Thinking I can fill up in Sungai Buloh or Rawang, I just drove past Jalan Duta Shell station. By the time we reached Sungai Buloh overhead rest stop, the place was jammed. The queue for petrol was long. Thinking Rawang should be OK, I just move on. Thinking, thinking, thinking.. It was plainly presumptious, Rawang was even worse, we cannot even got near the Petronas station and was turned away The RELA people who furiously waved us off. OK, lets try the old route 1, there are plenty of petrol stations along the way to Serendah, Rasa or KKB. It was better in route 1. Less traffic and many empty petrol stations. Empty petrol stations. Empty petrol stations – no fuel. Ha..ha. Pity the stations operators, at times like this when demand was high, there was no supply. They should be able to make a killing at times like this. Anyway, we managed to find a fully stocked BHP near Rasa. By then it was already 11.00am. I made another error of judgement after that, thinking the PLUS highway should be cleared by then, I switched back to the highway after Rasa. Obviously my thinking was not that good that day. The traffic only cleared after Sungkai. Strange, after Sungkai the highway dovetailed to two-lane instead of three and the jam cleared!. Anyway we reached the wedding when most of the people had left. Even the cendol guy was already packing to leave. Never mind the ice cream and cendol, Congratulation to my niece, Mastura.
As we had planned to spend the weekend in Cameron Highland we quickly headed to the hill station using the Simpang Pulai way. It was a smooth journey until Kampong Raja. Then the crawl began. It took us half and hour of antly crawl to reach Kea farm. To make matter worse, the hotel had change the name and it took us some time to find out the actual location. I cannot believe in this days of age, on line booking operators cannot expedite the change as soon as possible. The switched had been made almost one and a half year ago!

Since I had to travel outstation on Sunday, I took the bus back to KL. The rest of the family stayed back in CH. It was such a refreshing change – travelling by coach. Great view, comfortable seat, smooth ride. Heck, who cares about the jam. The ride on the LRT back to Sri Rampai, jolted me back to reality. The train, as usual on Sunday afternoon was quite packed. I was standing with my back pack in the last coach of the four-coach train. Then there was this lady who suddenly stood up and said “Uncle, please sit down, take my seat”. For a few moments I was too dumbfounded to reply. Ouch..ouch. Uncle cannot stand on the train any more! Thank you young lady. You are such a fine lady, who ever you are. Thank you for reminding me of my age and putting me in my place.

Can we dispensed with long winded protocol laden honorific ceremonial salutations at functions? — 20/05/2015

Can we dispensed with long winded protocol laden honorific ceremonial salutations at functions?

Syed Nadzri’s article “Time to dispense with protocol at functions” in NST on 19 May 2015 really struck a chord with many of us. And I have heard many colleagues and friends grumbling about this. I am sure you have come across functions where you have to endure a good 10 minutes of opening salutations such as Yang Berbahagia Tun, Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri, Yang Berbahagia Puan Sri, Datuk Seri, Datu-datuk, Datin-datin and the list goes on and on until the reader is breathless and the listeners start to whisper to each other, fiddling with their programme books, staring at the ceiling, or even stifling a yawn or two. If you are an emcee, it is even worse because not only you have to make sure the Tan Sri, Datuk Seri, Datin Seri, Datuk or whatever that were on the list is around, you must also get the order correct. Syed Nadri said, the book Malaysian Protocol by Datuk Abdullah Ali, listed down the order of precedence right from the Yang Di Pertuan Agong to all the way down to the ministerial level – all 53 levels!. Worse still, at state level functions, the salutations provided by the host state take precedence and as an emcee you must know it or else that is probably the last of your emceeing job or at government level, you’ll getting the show cause letter or your boss would be reprimanded by the big bosses for not following protocol. It is a real dilemma. Many people moaned about it but so far nobody dares to defy the protocol, more so us government servants. I reckon it is a reflection of our Malay custom that has been woven into our social fabric, where respect to the positioned and elders are of prime importance. I have attended a lot of functions overseas, none so far matches our intricacies and length in addressing the opening salutations.
The Chief Minister of Sarawak recently tried to cut it down when he ordered he should be referred as CM (short for chief minister) without mentioning his full official titles during official events. I wonder if other state chiefs would follow. But you still run the risk of being told off if you get it wrong or miss out mentioning any dignitary in your speech. I believe it is necessary to address the important guest at events but to address all of them complete with their titles and to repeat that every opening paragraph is quite tiresome.
On that note, the reknown ulama, Datuk Abu Hassan Din noted on TV9 recently that Muslim are not obligated to answer a salam given by a speaker if the salam is given after the salutation. As you know, Muslims are obligated to answer a salam and giving the salam should come first. It is very interesting, I noticed that many a time, a speaker would only say the “Assalamualaikum” after addressing the long list of dignitaries present at the event. He said, the speaker should immediately open the speech with “assalamualaikum”, then only address the dignitaries with their ceremonial honorifics. He chided some people who open the speech with salutation and add a lot Arabic salutation with praises to Allah and Rasullullah, excerpt from the Quran and the doa and only finally say the all important “assalamualaikum”. In this case, he said, muslims are not obligated to answer with waalaikumussalam.


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