Sunday, October 07, 2007

Yes, I now have a blog under my own domain name. While I still maintain this blog, my ramblings will now be posted on my new site. Thank you for visiting. I really appreciate your support.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

No motorcycles on highways

The Star, Tuesday, 02 October 2007: "The Works Ministry is considering banning motorcyclists from expressways if they continue to be a nuisance on the road."

That came from the minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, when he witnessed superbikes zooming along the highway at 170 kph.

If the reason for banning is only because of being a nuisance, then Datuk Seri, you might as well ban all vehicle from using the highways. While you're at it, you might as well ban ALL vehicle from using ALL roads. You'd be surprised at how much of a nuisance these vehicle really are. But then, you never get to drive your own car, do you? Being a minister, I'm sure you have your own driver to take you around. Maybe with police traffic escorts as well.

If motorcycles are banned from the highways, the only option left to them is the normal roads. Believe me Datuk Seri, those roads are even more dangerous than the highways. Small roads.. big vehicle.. low quality roads.. you get the drift. Banning them definitely won't save them.

The thing is.. I don't think driving fast is the root of the problems. It's a matter of whether you're driving smart or not. You can drive fast and still be safe. It's those people who drive foolishly and recklessly that's causing all the problems. If people drive smart, I'm sure a lot of catastrophes can be avoided.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

It's hari raya soon

It's on everybody's mind. You can feel it in the air. You can practically see the excitement on everybody's face. Although on some, it's more to panic. People are rushing to get themselves ready for THE day.. or month. It seems that a lot of people have this silly idea that fasting for a month means celebrating 'hari raya' for a month. Where did they get the idea from, only God knows.

Here are some things that always happen before hari raya (aside from the list I drew up earlier on the fasting month - It's Ramadhan Again). Feel free to give ideas. I'm missing quite a lot here :)

  1. Bus tickets, flight tickets, train tickets, you name it.. all sold out, even as early as one month before 'puasa'.

  2. Sales sales sales everywhere..

  3. Tailors are no longer taking orders to make new clothes. Some even closed shops a month before 'puasa' and went under quarantine to finish all the orders. If you're unlucky, you'll get your clothes after raya.

  4. Vehicle owners all queueing up at the service centres to get their vehicle spruced up for the long 'balik kampung' drive.

  5. People took long holidays (including myself).

  6. Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Masjid India in Kuala Lumpur become the areas to avoid especially if you're driving. You're better off going there using public transport. Or if you're prepared to park some distance away.

  7. Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Masjid India are also the area to go if you wanna go shopping. There are clothes, imitations, accessories, raya cookies, home decor, flower arrangements (some of them are actually quite ugly), never seen before stuffs like.. errr... I dunno. I have to see them first. Hehehehe.. It's actually quite hazardous for pedestrians. Just too many people. Really.

  8. A week before raya, driving in Kuala Lumpur feels like heaven. This is one of the few times KL has no traffic jam during peak hours. The jams are now on the highways as the KLites are rushing to go 'balik kampung'.

  9. Ops Sikap. It'd be number 13 this time. No matter how hard the authorities try to prevent it, accidents still happen. (There will be another topic about this later.)

During hari raya:

  1. On the first day of raya, the mosques are filled to overflowing with people attending the hari raya prayers. I personally think the adults should just leave the kids at home rather than taking them to the mosques because they really are a nuisance.

  2. People wear their new clothes while eyeing other people's new clothes. To praise them, of course. Hehehehe...

  3. The only time people are in festive moods when visiting the graveyards.

  4. All of a sudden you have relatives you didn't even know existed before.

  5. There are kids everywhere. They will suddenly be nice to you, shake your hand and expect you to give them 'duit raya'. And nothing less than RM5. The more the better. Pirates!

  6. Food food food and more food. Those who have lost weight during 'puasa' will regain their weight and more.

After hari raya:

  1. A lot of broke people. A good thing this year's 'hari raya' falls in the middle of the month. So these guys don't have to wait a long time for pay day :)

  2. Plenty of open houses. This is where the idea of celebrating 'hari raya' for a month seems a really good one. One can really save money every weekend by going to open houses day and night. Hahahaha...

  3. Traffic jams on the highway again. This time inbound to Kuala Lumpur.

  4. Ops Sikap again. I wonder what the toll is like this year.

What else have I missed?

Monday, October 01, 2007

No visa for World Cyber Games 2007

I read with interest the article written by Chong Jinn Xiung in The Star, Saturday 30 September 2007.

To say that they were disappointed would be a gross understatement. They qualified for the grand final of the World Cyber Games 2007 competition in Seattle this October 3rd and the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur denied them visas. That was what happened to these 4 Malaysian cybergamers, despite all the official documents by the local WCG organisers and the fact that they were invited to participate in the competition.

The reasons? Well, one of them was a student and he was denied a visa because he studies medicine in Indonesia. Another one was because his income is too low to be granted a visa and that he does not hold sufficient property here in Malaysia. God knows what the other two were told when their applications were rejected.

I agree that the decision whether to grant visas or not to the applicants rests solely with the US embassy, but looking at the reasons given to these guys.. I mean, really.. can't you be more realistic? Besides, these guys were going there for a competition. Not for sightseeing or studying or whatever. Surely some considerations could be made. Give them short-term visas, for example, valid only during the duration of the competition.

I'm sure that this competition meant a lot to these guys. It's the grand final and to be able to qualify.. it's any gamer's dream come true. To be denied at the last minute though, it's really a nightmare.

I'm extremely sorry for these guys.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Yet another netball topic

I had a chance to meet and chat with a male netball player from South Africa last night when my friends and I went to Sekolah Sukan Bukit Jalil (SSBJ) to watch a friendly match between those SSBJ girls and this team from South Africa. His name is Brian and according to kak Mazlah (she was the referee that night and often joins us in our training), he’s the coach for the South African team. Cool! :)

At my urging (hehehehehe..) kak Mazlah introduced us and we had a little chat together with the team manager, I think. He informed us that there are quite a number of men’s netball teams in South Africa. They even have national tournaments soon. Isn’t that great? Quite unlike here in Malaysia. But then, men’s netball is still considered new here. Not to mention there’s that old crone in the Malaysia’s Netball Association who adamantly refuses to acknowledge men's netball. Hmmm… I wonder when will somebody replaces her. About time, I think.

Incidentally, if there is a national tournament for men, which state am I to play for if I was chosen to play with a state team? I’m from Sabah but I now reside in KL. So do I play for Sabah or KL? But then, I’ve probably retired from playing by the time they have national tournaments for men. Hahahaha…

Hey, you guys.. what do you think? Should there be a national tournament for us? Comments please…

Monday, September 24, 2007

It’s Ramadhan again

Have you noticed that, when Ramadhan starts, a few things started to happen which do not happen in any other month of the year? Some of them are good, some odd, and some quite funny as well.

Here’s a list. If you have something I missed, feel free to inform me (use the Comment link) and I’ll add it to the list.

  1. Ramadhan bazaars cropped up everywhere like mushrooms.

  2. People started to have cravings for ikan bakar.

  3. Prices of food skyrocketed like crazy.

  4. Mosques were filled up to overflowing during Friday prayers. You don’t see this during normal months.

  5. The air quality improved tremendously since the number of smokers reduced by 90% (I think). Made me feel healthy again.

  6. Traffic got worse, especially after office hours. Everybody rushed home to prepare or buy food for buka puasa.

  7. Everybody was extra sleepy in the office.

  8. Non-Muslims who looked like Malays started to have hard times. They practically had to have their ICs in hand to prove to the enforcement officers that they are non-Muslims.

  9. Tickets for hari raya holidays were sold out in record time.

  10. Impromptu entrepreneurs emerged everywhere.. selling cookies, rendang, clothes etc.

  11. Time has become an integral part of everybody’s life.

  12. People eat more than they normally would.

  13. [From Ijan] Prices of Ramadhan buffet at hotels were so ridiculous that no sane man or woman would want to eat there. It goes without saying that if you do eat at the hotels, you're not sane. Hehehehe..

  14. [From Ijan] Chicken went into hiding. All of a sudden, the number of chicken in the marketplace dwindled, which caused the prices to increase.

What else have I missed?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Pesta Bola Jaring USM ke-17, Pulau Pinang

An open letter to the tournament organisers.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I wish to express my personal opinions and also highlighted to you the comments I have heard from the participants of the netball tournament you organised on 8-9 September 2007.

There are a couple of things I would like to comment during the briefing.

First, the remark from En. Muhamad saying that netball is a sport unique for women. Dear sir, 5 years ago I would agree with you 100% but now, I just found your ignorance in this matter particularly insulting. Men’s netball has been around for years, especially overseas (Australia is a good example) and it is just picking up popularity here in Malaysia for the past 3 or 4 years. The 37 men’s netball teams participating in your tournament this year should have been a good indicator, unless you are too dense to pick that up.

I also found your other remark on the role of men’s netball in the tournament quite condescending. Yes, we participated because we support netball. But we also participated because we want to win. We have trained hard and learned all the rules. We want to show that, like every other sport which used to be gender-specific, netball is also for men. And that we are at par with our female counterpart. Netball, nowadays, is not for women only.

I do hope that you will be more tactful in the future with your statements. People might find them offensive, even though they are well meant. I also hope that you, considering your particular position in this tournament’s organisation, would be more aware of and up-to-date with what is currently happening with the sport.

Second, the head of referees made a statement that, for group matches, the referees will judge accordingly and that for semi-final onwards, they will be more strict and will follow the international rules of netball.

What does that show? To me, it shows that the referees do not have a standard. And since all of them are under the Penang Netball Association, it implies that the association itself is lacking in standard. Isn’t it better if the referees follow the rules to the letter right from the beginning? At the very least, it will save them face. Being called “a stupid referee” repeatedly in front of everybody is definitely something you want to avoid.

I would assume that, after 17 times organising the same tournament, the organisers would already know and understand the weaknesses and take the proper actions to fix them. I guess they did learn something from the way the tournament was run. A big hand for the organisers for a job well done.

But.. the one weakness you did not bother to correct is the referees.

You might say that the referees are beyond your jurisdiction since they are under the Penang Netball Association. And also that there were several netball tournaments running at the same time, so there was a shortage of quality referees. Fine.. but the very least you could have done was ensure that the referees engaged for the tournament are of a certain minimum grade (if they do have grades), or with lots of experience. I’m sure that with high quality referees, you will get high quality games, with no complaints whatsoever.

A couple of times during the tournaments I saw the insensitivity of the referees. Each time, a player was injured and required medical attention but instead of giving injury time-off, the referees just continued the game without any regard to the players. Technically, injury time-off will be given when the players request for it, but when one of them was cradling her wrist in obvious pain (probably broken) and the other one was writhing in the mud, surely you can forego the technicality and just call off the time. Have you no sympathy at all?

We do not begrudge our loss in the semi-final. It is the nature of tournaments.. some win, some lose. No big deal. But when a major contributor to the loss was the low quality of the referees, it did leave a bitter taste in our mouths. One is tempted to say that the referees were deliberately biased to the other team.

We did not turn up for the prize-giving ceremony. In a way, it was our message to the organisers that the tournament sucks. Or to be more precise, the referees suck. Funnily enough, our team was given the Fair Play Award. Personally, I don’t know whether I should be pleased or insulted. The whole team had a good laugh at that. I think I will dedicate the award to the referees, insult intended.

It’s really sad when these things happened in a big tournament like this. When you had participants from countries like Sri Lanka and Australia, one would assume that the quality of the whole tournament is put at number 1. Not just for the sake of getting as many teams participating as possible. If I’m not mistaken, you managed to get into the Malaysia’s Book of Records for the highest number of teams participating in any netball tournament. Good on ya!

Have you considered, though, that you might also be recorded in the same book as the tournament with the WORST referees ever? Definitely something not to be proud of, don’t you agree?

In conclusion, there are two things that I would like to request from the tournament organisers:

  1. Please do not look down on men’s netball. We are as good as or even better than most women’s players.

  2. Please do something about the quality of the referees for future tournaments. It is insulting that the men’s matches were judged by substandard referees.

Thank you.