Thursday, August 30, 2007

4 -Digit Numbers, Anyone?

4 -Digit Numbers, Anyone?

"Don't speak of any person during the day, don't talk about ghosts at night." 

Sometimes if we speak about someone he/she would just show up and we'd say he/she has a long life.  The part about long life, I have my Malay friends to concur with.  As for ghosts, I have my doubts, but because telling ghost stories are best done at night to add to the suspense and the "hair-raising" feeling, we sometimes take risks.  So far we have been lucky.  We haven't seen anything yet.  For those who somehow take the 'Ghost-Month' as a matter of fact, there is always the philosophy of accepting that spirit beings are part and parcel of our natural world.  It is up to us to accept it and live accordingly.  Some people even have the guts to ask them for numbers.  The following story is from a colleague who is an ardent 4-digit punter.  She, I was told, being a crafty gambler has a long history of good winnings through the years.

On a hillock called Bukit Berapit, in Bukit Mertajam, Penang, there stood a Tua-Pek-Kong shrine.  Our ardent punter and a group of people took a hike up the hill one evening to pay homage to the deity of prosperity, lugging along with them foodstuffs, joss-papers, incense, candles and a medium to be their spokesperson.  They lighted the candles, incense and the got the medium into a trance.

All they wanted was a 4-digit number, but they got more than they bargained for.  As soon as the medium 'got connected' with the deity he started scolding all those present.  Have you all eaten the gall-bladder of the tiger*?  Do you not realise what's outside of these walls?  These are the spirits of those people who were killed by the Japanese during the war.  There were hard-core criminals, gangsters, and also innocent people who died in vain buried in the graves all over this hill. 

As soon as they heard these words everyone was frozen into silence.  And they heard coming from outside, sounds of finger-nails scratching impatiently on the zinc walls and their hair stood on end and they shivered in spite of the heat from the burning candles and incense inside the shrine.  And the medium continued:  The Tua-Pek-Kong can only protect you from them before the candles and incense burn out.  So before that happens, please leave the hill immediately if you value your lives.

Leaving everything behind them and moving close together, the whole group scurried down from the hill.

(* Chinese expression for being extremely courageous)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Promise

There was a phone ringing in the distance.  It sounded like it was from a neighbor's house.  It kept ringing but nobody picked it up.  The sound came nearer after awhile.  She stirred from her afternoon nap in the reclining rattan chair.  Then she realized it was her own phone in the living room that was ringing.  She got up quickly to pick it up.  She tried to say 'hello', but her lips refused to part.  Quickly she wetted her lips and said 'hello' again.  It was a voice of a little girl on the other end.  She was crying.  She sounded desperate.

Auntie, please come to the hospital.  My mother is very sick.  She cannot talk.  They said they have to operate…  The voice trailed off and she only heard her uncontrollable sobbing. 

She recognized the voice.  The girl and her elder brother were siblings she used to baby-sit every now and then when their mother had to go to the hospital for her regular checks.  The girl was then about 3 years of age and her brother was 5.  Her mother's condition had been getting worse recently, but she single-handedly tried to raise the kids.  The husband had been going after another woman who had now openly become his mistress.  Too lazy to earn his own money, he preyed on women to fund his existence.  What a parasite!  She must have been blind to have married him.  But what's done can't be undone.  Poor woman.  There wasn't even a relative that she knows of.

When she got to her in the 3rd class ward, she was barely breathing, but she wondered why she wasn't put on life support.  She spoke to the doctor who was about to send her into the Operation Room.  She pleaded with the doctor to put her on oxygen because it seemed to her she wasn't going to last very long.  He agreed to do it.  She went back to stay with her beside her bed.  The woman grabbed both of her hands and said hoarsely, Please promise you will take care of my 2 children.  I have no one else to depend on.  Her voice was almost a whisper.  Her final effort to get an answer from her almost exhausted her. 

Even as she tumbled the question over in her mind, she said yes.  It was going to be a heavy burden on her.  But how could she ever refuse a friend who's most probably making a last request of her life?  She had no time to weigh the consequences of her reply.  She said yes even though she was only 26 and had 2 small children of her own to raise while both she and her husband were struggling. 

She said to the nurse, Please, the doctor said to put her on oxygen.  She's very weak.  She'd noticed the distance to the OR was quite far and she was having difficulty breathing.  She was afraid the woman might not make it.

The nurse said, Don't worry.  This is our job.  We know what we're doing.  She spoke as if she was interfering.  They lifted her from the bed and wheeled her away on a stretcher.  But a moment later she saw the doctor himself personally carrying the limp woman and rushing into the Intensive Care Unit followed by the nurse and other attendants.  They tried to revive her. 

But she was gone.  She held the girl close to her and they cried.

Just to convince herself she did the right thing, she called her mother and told her what she had put myself into.  She said, How could you make such a promise?  You think you can handle such a burden? 

Mother, she said defensively, what do you expect me to say to a dying friend's last request?  She had no one.  No family.  I'm her only hope.  I couldn't just say no.

Even if she had said no, she would still end up with these children anyway.  At least she died knowing her children will be taken care of.

Somehow, she found the will to do as she promised.  She erected an extra room in her wooden house and raised the kids like they were her own. 

They are now both grown up and married.  The boy got involved with a Buddhist Charity Organisation and went to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims rebuild their lives.  He and his wife are both still there.  They are childless. 

The girl met a young man who did not pass her approval but she stubbornly stuck with him.  He inherited a fortune from his parents but he soon spent all the money.  It seemed like she was destined to live her life like her mother did.  The husband took no responsibility for the family.  The brother sends her RM1000 every month to help put her children through school. 

They're on their own now.  She had kept her promise. 


This is a true story.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Are You Wearing a Mortarboard or A Mortar Board?


The level of education we have achieved is not judged by the mortarboard we wear on our head. For all we know, it could turn out to be one made of mortar that burdens or weighs us down instead of enlightens us.

If we take criticism as if they're out to take us down for all we're worth, then we will go the way we take it for. But if we take criticism as a warning message that whatever we're doing really needs improvement then we should thank whoever criticizes us for wanting to see us improve ourselves and start taking positive action from there. Definitely "truth is hard to accept".

This blog entry and the accompanying comments from readers, bares it all for us to judge how far we have progressed as a nation of 50 years. Don't be alarmed by some of the abusive stances, personal attacks and racial slurs used, but try to understand the frame of mind of various levels of our society and judge for yourself where we really stand, not in the eyes of the world, but our very own eyes.

If we want to be world class then we should be arguing with maturity like these two persons (below) for example.


Note: MORTAR (mixture)  noun [U]
a mixture of sand, water and cement or lime that is used to fix bricks or stones to each other when building walls

Anonymous said...

To ANON of Fri Nov 24, 10:44:38 PM
You said: "alangkah sayangnya apabila bangsaku dihina & deperlekehkan oleh bangsanya sendiri ..."

I have been reading some posts by Malay ANONs - I don't think they "perlekehkan" bangsa sendiri. In fact, to their credits (like Khairul Idzwan Kamarudzaman), they took many unfair, insulting and demeaning comments thrown at them bravely. Instead of letting anger rule them and biting back, they chose to be introspective and look within themselves, and come out with ways on how to improve their own race. To Khairul and a few other Malay ANONs who have been doing their best to respond rationally, hats off to you.

I would like to share my experience with Malays. I am a "banana" Chinese, who spent the whole of my secondary and primary schooldays in a "Sekolah Kebangsaan". I only have Malay and Indian friends in school, simply because I couldn’t speak Mandarin or my own dialect well (my shortcoming actually, for not picking up my own mother tongue). I ended up being proficient in both oral and spoken Bahasa Malaysia and English.

Throughout my 10 years of working experience, I come into contact with Malaysians of all races. I have come across Chinese who, the moment they find I can’t speak Mandarin or other dialect well, choose to pay less attention to me. Some even change their facial reaction when I try to communicate with them in English or basic Mandarin. For the Malays, their initial coolness would usually melt away the moment they find I can converse well in their language.

After my degree, I work in 3 private Chinese-owned professional firms, and currently, I am employed in a private "Chinese" IPTS. From my contact and working experience with Chinese and Malays, I would like to give a little of my input:

i. All Malaysians, whether Malays, Chinese or other races, are diligent. Some Malays appear "slower" to respond if instructions are given to them in English, but once they understand what they need to do and what they are expected to achieve, they put their shoulders to the wheels just like any other person would.

ii. The same thing can be said for students
Malays, Chinese and other races. Some Malay students again appear "slower" in learning or having "poor initiative", but if you were to counsel them properly on why and how they can improve themselves, the transformation is fantastic. In fact, ANY student Malays, Chinese or Indians can change, with proper counselling and encouragement.

iii. Many Malays, whether they are from the cities or "kampungs", do not really want to rely too much on their "special rights or privileges". If they have a choice, they would rather sweat it out too. I have come across many Malay friends and co-workers who say how they admire other races who can manage on their own, and that they (the Malays) also harbour high ambitions that they would stand on their own two feet one day. We can try talk to the Malay students in "Chinese" IPTS
some actually reject offers from UM and UiTM not because they think the "Chinese" IPTS is superior or UM/UiTM are inferior, but because these Malay students want to:

1) learn from the different races and their cultures
2) they want to go through the challenges of studying in an unfamiliar and strange environment
3) they want to prove to themselves that ultimately, the degrees that they earn are due to their own hard work and not their race.
4) they believe that they must learn to mix with other races before they join the workforce.

iv. Many Malays are very friendly, hospitable and trusting. They are one of those rare races in the world who would not hesitate to invite a stranger to their homes and think it is a great honour to have visitors visiting them.

I think we should perhaps draw a line now and cease all these racially-inclined arguments. The whole topic of UiTM is not only about Malays, but Malaysia. If other races can give constructive feedbacks, the Malays can say "banyak-banyak terima kasih" and act on these. But that is not a licence for other races to start giving demeaning and insulting comments and innuendoes. Human nature is such that the moment someone starts saying things in a negative or hurtful manner, we tend to be defensive, emotional and we listen no further. This is regardless of whether we are a Malay or Chinese. As stated by someone, "it is not what you say, but how you say it". Malays, like Chinese, do stand to reason.

To ANON of Fri Nov 24, 11:20:08 PM: Sorry to hear about your bitter corporate experience. But you may want to take a step back and reflect that cronyism and nepotism are colour-blind and skin-blind. These are a part of our sad Malaysian culture, be it in Malay or Chinese or Indian companies. In the Government services and GLCs, other minorities tend to level also the same accusation that promotions and advancement are based on "kulit-fication".

It’s all very basic
if you are controlling a money-making company and if you (the top guy) happen to be short-sighted in your visions and you do not treasure meritocracy, you too would want to adopt the same practice of promoting your "own people", only to have the "own people" slapping you in your face with half-past-six performances.

To me, by your first MNC workplace overlooking your talents and abilities, they were the biggest loser, not you. As you yourself proved it, you found another place which saw your talent and soon put it to good use.

Now that you have earned your rightful place in the top management level, perhaps you would want to learn from your past bitter experience and not act against a particular race, out of your sense of "revenge". That is to say, if other people want to be myopic, discriminatory or adopt poor human resource practices, you can choose not to follow. After all, as a victim of discrimination yourself, you would know better, that cronyism and nepotism would not get an organisation anywhere, and that talent management and appreciation are what should be emphasised in a vibrant organisation. I.e. appreciate talents, regardless of the race and colour of the person.

When I first started out in the work-force, one Chinese middle-level manager friend advised me that if I had a choice of working for either a Malay or Chinese boss, I should pick a Malay boss. Why, because Malay bosses generally are more appreciative of talents and competencies. In his words, "A Malay boss prefers to leave you alone and let you do your job without much interference or control, as long as no trouble arises. If you are efficient, competent and can stand in for him any time, he would reward you handsomely and take care of you for the rest of your tenure in that place". I find this comparison to be generally true throughout my working experience.

LASTLY, regarding the original topic of UiTM being world class university, I fully agree with "Peace out, Keranamu Malaysia" (ANON Tue Sep 19, 03:31:32PM). Let us keep to Tony’s original topic for discussion.

I think some of the common grounds we can start off with are:

i. UiTM is still not yet world-class.
ii. All Malaysian Universities are still not yet world-class.
iii. Some day, we will all get there, if we believe we can.
iv. We will get there if all of us can sit down together and discuss on strategies to take our Universities there.
v. If our not having world-class universities is a big problem, let us talk about solutions, not just repeating, re-emphasising or re-highlighting known problems and obstacles.
vi. Good ideas and solutions would flow naturally if discussions are open, frank but tactful, rational, with logics, based on facts, not personal and not emotional.
vii. Give ideas, suggestions and feedbacks by all means, but try not to impose on others, i.e. not take the stand, "I have told you, if you want to solve this problem, you must do this. If not, your problems will never be solved."
viii. It’s really up to the recipients whether they want to grasp, follow or appreciate the advices and feedbacks given. Do not hang/crucify them or give insulting, demeaning comments if they don’t agree with you.

khairul idzwan kamarudzaman said...

To ANON Sat Nov 25, 05:27:45 PM ,

I TOTALLY AGREE with your comments. Sometimes, it is not that we want to lower down our own races, but sometimes we have to say something that is truth in order to get things better. There is a Malay idiom which says that "Kebenaran itu memang pahit untuk ditelan".

Yes, it is hard for us to accept the truth, but the truth is the truth. UiTM is still not a world class university, as well as other Malaysian universities. We use a system which is not systematic. Our education system is too exam oriented, and until this system remains unchanged, non of our universities will gain a world class status. Malaysian students will be like a robot, non progressive and just follow the order without really knowing what they are suppose to do.

To ex-uitm, I don't think that all 'you people' are that prejudice. let me tell all of you something. when I was in kindergarten, I was sent to a Chinese oriented kindergarten which is Eden Child Development Centre. I learned Chinese, I learned other cultures, and we, malays, chinese and indians in the kindergarten (although ofcourse Malays are the minorities) ate together and played together.

When I was in primary school, i mixed with other races, and i learned my english in primary school. this is due to the fact that most of my friends are non-malays and we speak in english.

however, when i entered secondary school, which is a boarding school (Sekolah Berasrama Penuh), all the students are Malay Muslims. It is not that I want to say bad thing about my own race. For God's sake, NO! But honestly, when I learned in a monoethnic surrounding, I've found some 'horror' things:

1) Malaysians who live in their own race enclave tend to be VERY PREJUDICE to other races
2) They do not know about other races
3) They do not like other races

That's why i missed my primary schooldays where there is NO RACES BOUNDARY! We live together with harmony. And not to forget, when I entered six-former for 4 month, i was in a relationship with a chinese girl... So, to ANONS who sent comments such as 'seperti perhimpunan agong umno', 'you people' whatsoever, STOP FROM BEING PREJUDICE TO OTHER RACES! To have a strong Malaysia, we need to have a strong UNITED MALAYSIANS!!! And not to forget, a world-class education system...

And, yes! Our universities are not world-class enough. Let us work together and have a better Malaysia!


p/s: miss my ex-girlfriend, Audrey Thean Ong Kei...

Friday, August 17, 2007

For Want Of A Little Nail

I once worked with a General Manager who came from The Bronx, NY, USA.  It was a tough neighborhood where he grew up.  He said many of his childhood friends were either dead or doing time in US gaols (jails).  He had a long list of experiences setting up factories in China and Taiwan.  He could tell the thickness of a piece of paper down to a decimal of an inch just by looking at it.  He married a Taiwan lady and eventually settled in Singapore.  He was in his late 40s.

We were discussing an additional production line we had just set up and was ready for production.  Going through all the equipments wasn't enough for him.  He wanted to check the material inventory as well.  He was right of course.  We couldn't just take things for granted that they'll all be there like clockwork.  Someone has to wind up the clock too.  We found that screws were not in.  Those were special screws.  Stainless steel.  They had to be flown in from the US.

And here's the story he told me that day.

A great general was about to go into a crucial battle.  It was one that would decide whether they won or lost the war.  He told his men to get ready.  They checked all their weapons, supplies, food, equipment and transport.  All seemed perfectly organised.  All, except one little detail that their stable hand did not mention.  A nail was missing from one horse-shoe on the general's horse.  He thought little of it.  Only one little horse-shoe nail.  Beside's the general had several horses he could choose from.  But that happened to be the general's best horse.  For crucial battles one always choose the best.  It was to involve a lot of hard riding, covering many miles over rough terrain and difficult maneuvers.

In the thick of the battle the general noticed his horse limping.  But it was too late.  The horse went down taking the general with him.

They lost the battle and they lost the war.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Every thing has a major purpose in life


A good picture tells a story better than words can.  This picture says to me that nature is such that everything great or small in this universe has a major purpose in its existence.  This banana plant (you may call it a 'tree' if that's comfortable with you) simply had to do its last job before it gave up its life.  (Or would you rather say that it finishes this cycle of being plant and resigned itself to become another form of matter?) 


It looks like someone slashed at it before it could fulfill its purpose in life.  But it still would not just give up.


That brings to mind a story I heard told a long time ago.


A farmer shot a monkey off a tree.  The pesky animal had been after his fruits.  Everyday it would come out of the jungle and pick some of his best fruits from his orchard and ran back into the trees.  When he approached the animal smoking gun in hand, it was still alive.  The farmer was soon to find out this monkey was a mother and she was nursing a baby. 


She had tears in her eyes.  Those eyes were staring at the farmer as if she was trying to talk to him.  She was bleeding badly and was very weak but she managed to get up on her feet.  Gently, she pulled her baby from her breast.  With a pleading look in her eyes she proffered the baby to the farmer.  He threw down his gun and took the baby from her.  Quietly she lay down and died.


Then the farmer cried.  He made a silent vow never to shoot another animal in his life.


photo: from theStar

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It's tough trying to be a Geek

My PC kept hanging up on me while I was browsing the Net with Mozilla the fire-fox.  Sometimes it just hanged, sometimes it simply shut down and restarted.  My conclusion; I need more RAM.  So I went hunting for a DDR-512M chip and found one costing RM109.  Cheap lah, I thought.  Like the man said, I plugged it in the front slot and moved the original 256M into the 2nd slot.  But there was no response.  I got only a beep and a black screen.  The only way it worked was when I plugged back the 256M into the original slot. 

After I had plugged and unplugged, applied contact spray, rubbed all the 184 contacts with a piece of eraser, and fiddled every which way for a dozen times, I took it back to the shop together with my whole CPU and they did some more plugging and unplugging with the chips and then declared, this doesn't fit your pc, I'll change another one for you…  Yeah, that's what I wanted to hear.  He gave me a Kingston (made in the same Taiwan as the chip he first sold to me).  This one worked, but my PC started to act funny and kept showing me an error message about something-or-other file being corrupted or missing-or-whatever.  I said, never mind, I'll just reload Windows.  No big deal.  So confident.

I took it home and plugged everything in, but now Windows totally refused to run.  I proceeded to re-install Windows.  After formatting the allocated disk space (I must have done that more than 2 dozen times already with this PC) it began copying Windows files into the hard disk.  But there was a pause with the complaint that the file frmo.dll (or whatever) was not properly copied or the installation disk had a problem or whatever and if it is repeated to please take it back to the shop and ask them go jump in the lake with it…. I really don't remember the exact words but that's what it sounded like to me.  But I didn't do that, (I mean about asking them jump in the lake) but I switched to a disk of an earlier version of WindowsXP.  The same complaint that the file frmo.dll (or whatever) was not properly copied or the installation disk had a problem or whatever and if it is repeated to please take it back to the shop and ask them go jump in the lake with it…showed up again.

Flabergasted I was, but I kept at it until my eyes couldn't stay open.  Then decided I'd rather go sleep it off.  No, I couldn't sleep thinking about it. I decided the CD-RW must be old enough to retire.  Maybe that's why sometimes it didn't read my CDs.  2 disks can't be wrong with the same files missing and giving me the same idiotic message.  Next evening, I went shopping around the local mall and got a DVD-RW and installed it. 

I tried the Windows again.  I got the same complaints.  Again. 

I scatched my head, grumbled, heaved another muffled sigh (wifey shook her head and rolled her eyes at me) and I managed to whisper some expletives without anyone hearing me. 

Then I did the most desperate thing imaginable.  I decided to switch master/slave hard drives and install Windows in my (recently installed 80G) 2nd hard disk.  I thought maybe with all that formatting I had somehow 'compromised' the quality of the disk space that I have been loading and unloading my Windows.  Mechanical engineer's logic: If you keep installing and uninstalling a window, the wall itself would suffer, right? 

I had to sacrifice some data.  I lost all my movies and some 12 episodes of 'Heroes'.  Worst of all horrors, I lost all of this year's digital photo collection (except for those uploaded in Multiply, but these are in low resolution).  But that still didn't solve the problem. 

In desperation, I removed the 512M RAM chip, moved the original 256M chip into the original slot and then reload Windows.  And it worked.

Now I'm stuck with an extra disk-writer.

It's tough trying to be a Geek.  It's like shooting in the dark.

I still prefer mechanical problems. 


Epilogue:  I re-installed the 512M chip and moved the 256M into the 2nd slot after installing Windows and it's now running like greased lightning.

Friday, August 10, 2007

She thinks - I think...

安定着胡乱的思想    ān dìng zháo luàn de xiǎng

催眠着澎湃的心情    cuī mián zháo péng pài de xīn qíng

任何宗教信仰          rèn zōng jiào xìn yǎng

念的是祈求安宁        niàn de shì qiú ān níng

Quietly untangle confused thoughts like unruly beard

Let sound of waves hypnotise the mood

Belief firmly whatever the religion

Pray diligently to seek peace and tranquillity


From <>

Translated with the help of <>

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

My Ramblin' Prose 2

Education should take you away from a window overlooking a dark narrow lane which ends at a gate with a "no tresspassing" sign. 

Education should take you to a door which opens to a garden view before you, a roving range farther on, mountains and lakes in the distance and clouds and blue skies beyond.  It should show you a road leading beyond the horizon with travellers going both ways with whom you could travel and exchange experiences.  It should give you hope for endless possibilities beyond your dreams.

Now, wake up from your daydreams and go get educated.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I Hate Paperwork

The Cries of a Shackled Citizen


I looked to the clouds above 

And found the answers to life

But when I turned my gaze earthwards

The answers were all drowned

Amidst the drudgery

Of struggling for survival

To live from day to day

Keeping my nose above the waters

Bolting my doors

Against the wolf of inflation

That threatens to swallow the fruits

Of my blood, sweat and tears

The grains for my golden years


And I pray that my country

Would not be run to the ground

By bigots, liars and thieves

Masquerading as leaders

And champions of their communities

Beseeching citizens to mix racially

While creating walls to separate them

Threatening the book of ISA and sedition

At those who dare question their actions

Preaching piousness and honesty

While plundering the public coffers

They should be protecting

Under the guise of development

They preach righteousness

Loyalty and adherence to the rule of law

While wealthy felons pay their way

Out of judgment

To freely commit more sins


But the shackled citizen

Hears no voice speaking out for him

For it is drowned by a rowdy mob

Paid for by impunity


Monday, August 6, 2007

Bad Bosses

Here are a couple of reasons which I believe explains the above phenomenon.  I'm quite sure those of you who have been in the rat race for a while can think of more reasons.

1.  More often than not, management keep these brutal bosses and even promote them because they help push up their bottom line.  Those who are subordinate friendly and keep close working relationships with their workmates sometimes are viewed as being too friendly with subordinates and could easily end up as anti-management especially in companies where management are often suspicious of their workers' actions in areas where sick leaves, output shortfall or mistakes are committed and no scapegoats are found to take the blame.

2.  As compared to others who may treat work mates or subordinates fairly while dealing with management honestly, these scoundrels would go to work wearing two masks.  While they curse and treat workers with spite and scorn, their other face would be smiling and saying 'aye' to management even to the most ridiculous of demands. 

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Exclusively for Regular Penang Bridge Users

Free SMS alerts on bridge traffic

MOTORISTS can now receive free SMS alerts on critical traffic situations on the Penang Bridge via their mobile phones. 

Penang Bridge Sdn Bhd Information Technology manager Azman Abdullah said the company’s online traffic information management (OTIM) system would update motorists with current traffic reports on the bridge through the service. 

“We want to help motorists plan their trips well to avoid being caught in a traffic snarl during a critical situation on the bridge,” he said yesterday. 

Azman said critical situations included vehicle breakdown, lane or link closure and massive congestion on the bridge. 

“This free auto-alert SMS system will inform users the exact location of a break- down or accident within a few minutes from the time the incident has taken place. 

“Since it is a 24-hour service, those who register for it should be prepared to receive updates even after midnight,” he said, adding that so far, there were about 1,000 registered users. 

Motorists can register for the service by sending an SMS with the phrase ‘OTIM REG’ to 019-4459644. 

To deregister, send an SMS with the phrase ‘OTIM UNREG’ to this number. 

Azman said motorists could alternatively use the company’s existing OTIM real-time traffic updates, where every SMS query would be charged according to the rates set by the different service providers. 

To obtain the OTIM update, motorists should send an SMS with the phrase ‘OTIM topen’ for island-bound drivers or ‘OTIM toprai’ for mainland-bound drivers to 012-3446900 (for Maxis users), 013-3883131 (Celcom) or 016-3390999 (DiGi). 

Penang subscribers can send their SMS to 012-4345366 (Maxis), 019-5733666 (Celcom) and 016-4168666 (DiGi) for local rate charges. 

He said the OTIM real-time traffic updates gave detailed traffic reports based on visuals on the closed-circuit-television (CCTV) cameras located in Seberang Jaya, Juru, Penang Bridge toll plaza, Penang Bridge midspan, Udini Road and Bayan Baru. 

He added that it also provided an estimated travel time on the bridge.  

Friday, August 3, 2007

Oh, This Work Culture

Nowadays, when asked to solve a problem, they get a bunch of guys into a room and draw a nice fish bone on the board.  I thought that's a good guideline for students to learn the basics.  But what the heck, this is far from classroom basics.  These are real life issues we're dealing with. 

Then, with all the guys doing the talking, only one guy is doing the thinking and with only half his brain.  The other half is trying to decipher what the other guys are blabbering about.  And all that waste of time is money down the drain.  They call that 'brain-storming'.  I call it bad excuse.  Sometimes the poor chap leaves the meeting looking shell-shocked and with arrows and knives sticking out his back.

That seems to be the standard way to work nowadays.  If you don't do that, they think your job is too easy.  Your products don’t have problems.  You are open to more work-load, more stress and pressure.  They don't see problems because they don't want to know. 

Therefore, if you solve your problems too quietly and efficiently and nobody knows about it, it's bad for your corporate future.

That's what I call the 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' position.  Only consolation is, the home, tranportation and the kids' education is getting paid for.  And one has to grow old gracefully.

Just can't get over it. 

Me, I'll start looking for a nice horse that will take me off into the sunset.  There's that empty rocking chair on a verandah somewhere waiting.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Reconsidering My Options

Optimum Strategies for Creativity and Longevity

By Sing Lin, Ph.D., Member of National Council of Chinese Institute of Engineers USA/Greater New York Chapter, and Member of Board of Director of National Taiwan University Alumni Association – Greater New York - March 2002

Longevity vs. Retirement Age

The pension funds in many large corporations ( e.g., Boeing, Lockheed Martin, AT&T, Lucent Technologies, etc.) have been "Over Funded" because many "late retirees" who keep-on working into their old age and retire late after the age of 65 tend to die within two years after their retirements. In other words, many of these late retirees do not live long enough to collect all their fair shares of pension money such that they leave a lot of extra-unused money in the pension funds resulting in the over-funded pension funds.

Dr. Ephrem (Siao Chung) Cheng provided the important results in the following Table 1 and the associated chart from an actuarial study of life span vs. age at retirement. The study was based on the number of pension checks sent to retirees of Boeing Aerospace.

Table 1 Actuarial Study of life span vs. age at retirement.

Age at Retirement       Average Age At Death   

49.9                                             86     

51.2                                             85.3   

52.5                                             84.6   

53.8                                             83.9   

55.1                                             83.2   

56.4                                             82.5   

57.2                                             81.4   

58.3                                             80     

59.2                                             78.5   

60.1                                             76.8   

61                                                74.5   

62.1                                             71.8   

63.1                                             69.3   

64.1                                             67.9   

65.2                                             66.8   

Table 1 and the chart indicate that for people retired at the age of 50, their average life span is 86; whereas for people retired at the age of 65, their average life span is only 66.8. An important conclusion from this study is that for every year one works beyond age 55, one loses 2 years of life span on average.

The Boeing experience is that employees retiring at age of 65 receive pension checks for only 18 months, on average, prior to death. Similarly, the Lockheed experience is that employees retiring at age of 65 receive pension checks for only 17 months, on average, prior to death. Dr. David T. Chai indicated that the Bell Labs experience is similar to those of Boeing and Lockheed based on the casual observation from the Newsletters of Bell Lab retirees. A retiree from Ford Motor told Dr. Paul Tien-Lin Ho that the experience from Ford Motor is also similar to those in Boeing and Lockheed.

The statistics shown in the Pre-Retirement Seminar in Telcordia (Bellcore) indicates that the average age that Telcordia (Bellcore) employee's start retirement is 57. Therefore, people who retire at the age of 65 or older are minority as compared to the number of early retirees.

The hard-working late retirees probably put too much stress on their aging body-and-mind such that they are so stressed out to develop various serious health problems that forced them to quit and retire. With such long-term stress-induced serious health problems, they die within two years after they quit and retire.

On the other hand, people who take early retirements at the age of 55 tend to live long and well into their 80s and beyond. These earlier retirees probably are either wealthier or more able to plan and manage their various aspects of their life, health and career well such that they can afford to retire early and comfortably.

These early retirees are not really idling after their early retirements to get old. They still continue doing some work. But they do the work on the part-time basis at a more leisure pace so that they do not get too stressed out. Furthermore, they have the luxury to pick and chose the types of part-time work of real interest to them so that they can enjoy and love doing that "fun" work at a more leisure pace.

The late retirees are small in number, tend to die quickly after retirement and disappear from the population of old people beyond the age of 70. Late retirees, therefore, have very little weight on the statistical average life expectancy of the population of "old people" dominated by the early retirees.

Several years ago, a Japanese friend of mine told me that most Japanese people retire at the age of 60 or earlier. This may be one of the factors contributing to the long average life span of Japanese people.

Changing Trend of US Pension Plans

The traditional pension plans of many major US companies used to place a lot of value on the experience of long-term older employees by increasing the pension money rapidly and nonlinearly for long-term employees as their age + service year increases beyond the threshold of the rule of 75. Most long-term employees cross this critical threshold at about the age of 55. On the other hand, the early retirees incur very heavy penalty in pension and in other associated retiree benefits (e.g., employer paid medical insurance, employer paid life insurance, death benefits for family, etc.) when they retire before they meet the rule of 75.

However, in recent few years, many large US corporations are switching from their traditional retirement pension plans to the new portable Cash Balance Plans. The new portable cash balance plans are much more favorable to the younger employees but are very unfavorable to the long-term older employees. Some older long-term employees found that when their employers switched from the traditional pension plans to the cash balance plan, their pensions were reduced by 30% to 50%.

One of the implications of this trend towards the new cash balance plan is that the US corporations are now placing more value on the higher creativity and adaptability of younger employees and less value on the experience of the older employees. This is consistent with the accelerating pace of innovations and technology advances. The creative and dynamic younger employees are better positioned, than the older employees do, to keep up with the faster pace of technology advances.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The most precious, creative and innovative period in your life is the 10-year period around the age of 32. Plan your career path to use this precious 10-year period wisely and effectively to produce your greatest achievements in your life.

The pace of innovations and technology advances is getting faster and faster and is forcing everybody to compete fiercely at the Internet speed on the information super-highways. The highly productive and highly efficient workplace in USA is a pressure-cooker and a high-speed battleground for highly creative and dynamic young people to compete and to flourish.

However, when you get older, you should plan your career path and financial matter so that you can retire comfortably at the age of 55 or earlier to enjoy your long, happy and leisure retirement life into your golden age of 80s and beyond. In retirement, you can still enjoy some fun work of great interest to you and of great values to the society and the community, but at a part-time leisure pace on your own term.

On the other hand, if you are not able to get out of the pressure-cooker or the high-speed battleground at the age of 55 and "have" to keep on working very hard until the age of 65 or older before your retirement, then you probably will die within 18 months of retirement. By working very hard in the pressure cooker for 10 more years beyond the age of 55, you give up at least 20 years of your life span on average


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

No Coin to Toss

Back when we needed to decide who-gets-what, we didn't need a judge. We didn't have to rush back into the house to get a coin. There was no need to draw lots. We just settled it on the spot with hand signals (again). I mean, symbols.

Open hand = Water -- wins over stone because stone sinks, loses to cup because cup can scoop the water

Cupped hand = Cup (porcelain) --wins over water but loses to stone because the stone can break it

Fist = Stone -- wins over cup but loses to water.

We kept our hands behind our backs and say in unison, "one - two, som!" We probably had some English influence there. Kids down south said, "or - pek, som!" ('or - pek' = black - white). The idea is to show your hands at the same time. It was a one to one battle. The winner took on the next kid, the loser dropped out.

It was our version of 'paper - scissors - stone'.

Simple times, simple solutions.

And the days seemed longer.

Now that we have reduced the size of the world, dreamed up complicated formulae and invented problem-solving methods and data-processing systems, but we're having trouble finding solutions to some of the simplest problems.

And we find that each day seems to slip by us without our realizing it's gone.

And we wonder