Category Archives: Mindless rantings

Malaysia isn’t working!

Having spent the last 8 years living abroad with annual visits back to Malaysia, I’ve become acutely aware of the deterioration that has been taking place.

Here’s a typical example of why Malaysia is not a world class country: I needed to renew a car insurance and visited the insurer’s office.  There were 5 staff members behind the customer service counter but only 1 of them was actually working. 1 customer was being served and 2 other customers (myself included) were waiting to be seen. Even then, we had to wait 45 minutes to be attended to.  To make the situation more infuriating, the only working staff who attended to me needed to get approval from another department in order to proceed further and she rang at least 8 staff from that department and none of them answered the phone. So after an hour at this place, I was no closer to getting things sorted out! 

Disappointed, I moved to a rival insurer and this time found only 1 staff working and about 15 customers waiting. There was a queue number system, which didn’t work in practise because people just pushed their way to the only staff working.  My patience was running low, especially after the last place and so after (a further) 45 mins of chaotic service with people jumping queues, I kicked up a fuss and that was enough to get attended to.  This time I was able to leave with the insurance renewed. Success at last!

As Malaysians we’ve come to expect this level of service from government agencies, not commercial enterprises. These insurers are public listed corporations that are supposed to be for profit. How they hope to gain any customers with such terrible customer service is beyond my comprehension.

I sincerely hope that Malaysia will be able to reverse this malaise before it becomes so ingrained in our culture that it becomes our identity.

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Anticipating worst traffic in Jakarta today

The Indonesian word for traffic is “Macet”, a term that I quickly became familiar with.  Traffic during rush-hour (and especially after rain) in Jakarta is bad, everyday.  So much so that every local speak of it like it’s a way of life.  You know traffic is really bad when it takes an hour to travel 2km… and that was what happened yesterday.  

It took us an hour in the cab, to get to near the hotel and even that, we had to walk about 50meters to the hotel.  This same journey normally takes 30 mins.  Traffic started right outside the office and we literally crawled all the way back.  The most frustrating was finding out the cause of the traffic – the police had blocked the U-turn that turns to the road near the hotel and there was no forewarning.  So imagine sitting in this traffic, crawling for an hour, feeling smug/relieved that we’re almost at the U-turn and by that we mean the hotel, only to find that we could not turn!  Exasperated – that’s how we felt.  We may have been better off, walking back. 

Today is International Anti-Corruption Day and there are planned demonstrations through the main streets of Jakarta.  The rally itself will last the whole day but its effect on traffic will be felt for a long time after.

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Jetlagged for 3 days and counting

I arrived in DC late-Monday and today (3 days later), I am still struggling with jetlag.  I have probably slept only 2 hours out of the last 42 hours, despite my best efforts to regulate my internal clock.  I continue to yawn during the daylight hours and am wide awake at night. 

Lack of sleep is starting to affect my concentration and although I have made myself mentally and physically tired, I am unable to go into deep sleep.

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Observations and other’s opinions

During lunch, the conversation veered towards the Chinese people… this was an opportunity for me to learn / understand them better.  It started because someone explained that having spent time in China and being married to one (which qualifies him to comment), he explained that outwardly, the Chinese appear compliant to authority but inwardly, they are crafty and always finding ways to beat the system for personal gain.  My assumption was that as they have been under Communist rule for so long, I imagined that the authoritarian rule would ensure its people are disciplined and obediant.   

My asumption was corrected when he explained his observation, which is that while the world is given this image that the Chinese people love their country, the reality is different.  The Chinese are aware of the “truth” that happens in their government but as long it does not affect them personally, they do not have an opinion about the matter.  It is only when it affects them personally that they would be motivated to correct the injustice they have suffered.   I got the impression that everyone is for him/herself, which I find contradicts with my assumption of communism. 

My first real opportunity to observe and form an opinion of the Chinese was during my recent visit to Macau.  Unfortunately it was not a kind impression – I checked into a 5 star hotel and was greeted by the smell of smoke.  Several guest were smoking liberally, despite there being conspicuous  “no-smoking” signs all over the hotel.  They smoke everywhere as-if it is their homes, with no regards for others.  Occasionally if you’re unlucky, you would enter the elevator to find clouds of smoke and walk out, smelling as-if you were a smoker.  Next observation – they have no regard for queues and think nothing of cutting infront of you.  You’re ignored if you make a fuss and you end up feeling like an idiot for ranting over something small.  Now imagine it happening to you, several more times.  

For someone who hasn’t even visited China, I’ll admit that my perception is flawed, definitely inbalanced.  For sure, there will be many Chinese who are better than the ones I’ve  observed but my perception was formed from observation of its people Outside China.  Maybe, when they are back in China, they are perfectly decent and law-abiding, don’t smoke indiscriminately because that could mean a fine or worst, jail time.  Or maybe, in China it is perfectly acceptable to jump queues and smoke anywhere.  Everyone’s perception of social norms may differ, shaped by their environment.

In his attempt to explain why the Chinese are the way they are, someone asked me to imagine being repressed for most of my life.  And then to get a chance to experience what it feels like to live freely, without the kind of restrictions that you’ve only known… how would you behave?

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Sense of Safety and Security

I returned last Sunday, to a wet Malaysia.  My last trip home was in January, so it’s been about 3 months since.  On returning home, I became troubled by one thing.  Maybe because it was one of the first thing the client talked about or that I’d received a forward mail on a similar thing…. what am I going on about?  The increasing crime rate in Malaysia.  Now I don’t want to alarm all non-Malaysians reading this, because it is not as bad as in Thailand or Indonesia. But I’d forgotten how bad it has and can get. 

The client cautioned against driving alone, because he knew of people who were ambushed and robbed by Mat Rempits. Coincidentally the next day, I received a forward mail from someone who had been attacked by Mat Rempits, in broad-daylight.

These stories have made me somewhat paranoid and then it struck me, maybe because of time spent in HK, i’ve become somewhat comfortable, confident and rather complacent with my safety. I know how easy it is to take things for granted, but the reality is I am now in a country that is probably not as safe as HK.  This means that I should not be walking alone at night, should keep away from quiet and dark places, be armed with loud alarms and pepper spray and finally wear comfortable shoes, in case there is a need to run.

While in HK, i’d met a few foreigners who had visited Malaysia and had rather nasty experiences with being cheated by cabbies and robbed. Naturally I felt embarrassed but still tried to assure them that they are just plain unlucky.  Thankfully so far, I haven’t been harmed for my money but stories of such violence are increasing.  Can we hope for the Police to protect us?  If not them, then who else?  Will Malaysia end up like Mexico or Columbo, where people need to hire private security to ensure their safety?

This is my country – was it always like this or am I only now looking at it without the rose-tint glasses.  Am I now, seeing what alot of foreigners experience when they visit Malaysia?

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Privacy in Public Office

I was watching the news last night and what caught my attention wasn’t the ongoing financial crisis or the bush-fire in Australia but rather, the press conference given by a sometimes emotional Elizabeth Wong – an opposition-side Assembly woman. We all love scandals and naturally, I was itching to know what it was all about. In case you’re not yet aware, there are photos of her, in desirable / undesirable (depending on who’s looking) positions, circulating in the web. The first thing I did this morning was to google her, to see for myself, just how compromising those photos are. I only saw 2 really bad quality photos and let me tell you, she was neither semi-nude (as some newspapers claimed) nor was it in a compromising position. Both photos were of her sleeping and one of it showed her with her legs “kangkang” (its a bahasa word for spread-out) and her in-between. Now, because the photo was such bad quality, I couldn’t make out, what exactly was the in-between, it looked very much like underwear, in which case there’s nothing tantalising to see, but if you have a really good imagination, it could be anything at all!!

So perhaps, several news and media stations had very good imaginations and imagined something there, when there was nothing. In any case, those 2 photos hardly qualify as scandalous by Malaysian politics standard.  Anwar Ibrahim – Opposition leader, immediately came out with a press conference, condemning this act as Political assasination (this word became famous during Chua Soi Lek’s porn video), blaming the current Government of master-minding this “wayang kulit” (this is a Malay puppet shadow play), as it prepares to fight in 2 state by-elections.   This is an ongoing power struggle between the rulling party and opposition and may the best party win.

Whether or not, this is a carefully planned publicity stunt to tarnish the image of the opposition or the works of a ex-boyfriend, I think alot of people forget about the victim, Elizabeth.  Her privacy has been invaded and the person who did it, remains un-named and shameless.  I cannot understand this at all and say, we should ” Name and shame the Jerk, if only to ensure that his current and future girlfriends will be aware of his fascination of taking photos of women’s in-betweens.  In Malaysia, we have many laws and immediately I can already list down the laws that this low-life has broken, let’s see: Production and distribution of pornographic (this has wide definitions) material, outraging a woman’s modesty, defamation / libel. [Update 19 Feb 09: Last night’s news, mentioned that because the ex was a Muslim, he could get in serious shariah-law kind of trouble, for “khalwat” ( being alone with an opposite sex, who is not your spouse)]

It also dawned on me that perhaps a person in public office, cannot expect to enjoy privacy, that he/she should not trust anyone, not even in private relationships.  I mean, this was an ex-boyfriend, someone at one time who was supposed to love, honor and protect his beloved, who was trusted when she was at her most vulnerable state (sleeping), intimate thoughts and moments and yet, this happened.  It makes a mockery of the sanctity of a relationship and makes me think that this can happen to any one of us.  Except that not many people would be interested, much less excited at seeing me in compromising positions.

After the pictures were published, as expected a few dumbwits in power, made hilarious comments.  The funniest I’ve read so far is this Minister who condemned the fact that her privacy was invaded (so far so good), only to put his foot in his mouth when he said, that if these photos were indication of her “loose-character”, then she was not fit for public office, I am paraphasing but that’s the point I got.  Hey dumb (x2), the photos were taken without her knowledge or permission la, she was not posing for the camera (unless you think that being kang kang is desirable) and being socially-correct, 2 main issues are (i) how can a person’s character be judged from photos and (ii) What does having a “loose-character” have to do with being fit for public office?  We have worst kinds of politicians and I say being a “loose-character” should be less of a worry, definitely after the racist politicians, the religious-intolerants and the few silly fellas who make outrageous statements and make us wonder, why we elected him/her into power.  Many ding-dongs in powers should be sent for compulsory social/gender-re-education, so that they’d at least think before making moronic comments that remind the foreigners, why we’re still a developing nation.

Elizabeth Wong, I empathise with your situation and wouldn’t wish it on anyone.  I wish you courage and a clear conscious, as you sail through this situation.  I speak for myself when I say that that photos do not distract me from the hard work that you do.

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Arrrrgggghhhh..

I’ve found that since I started this blog, I’ve a tendency to write on things that affect me negatively, more often than the things that have a positive effect.
In a sense, I’ve looked to this blog as a form of therapy, cheap and easily available, a way for me to off-load my nagging worries or mind-irritants, so that I can be free of these negativity! It is purely psychological but it sure helps.
Today, after 1.5 weeks of being positively happy and upbeat, I am hit by stress… the only kind that really upsets me these days – work stress.  Despite being swamped with work at this moment, I’ve decided that I should take some time-off to “offload” this irritant, otherwise I’ll be carrying it through the whole day.  It will be time well-spent.

Maybe I’m disgruntled that I’d spend the last weekend (2 whole days!!!) working and then, stayed past 8pm during the last 2 days, also working.  Coupled with the lack of rest and relaxation and feeling extremely tired, I get cranky and irritable.  I’ve been chanting that mantra – that this is not as big as I magnified it to be – but it doesn’t seem to be working today.  Also tried deep-breathing exercises and drinking soothing, calming tea, while listening to equally relaxing jazz…. still no effect yet.

I hate that I’m complaining and I’m upset that I’ve so little control over these feelings and allow it to affect me.

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