Thursday, 31 May 2007
I managed to have this snapped on the third day of the event, just before he left home. That's us ... the four arbiters. Chuah Soon Pheng on the far left and Ung Tay Aik on the far right. We worked our butts out to ensure that there were no hiccups during the rounds. Give us a clap, please!
And this is the hardworking USM gang. Without them, the tournament wouldn't have been a success. They worked very hard on the logistics and also provided support for the games bulletin which came out 2.5 hours after the last game ended! A great effort. Give them a clap, too!
This is the Dato' Hussein Onn challenge trophy with last year's winner, Jonathan Chuah. Actually, this is only the top of the trophy. I didn't feel like photographing the whole troply but I thought this picture gives a completely different perspective to the trophy.
The following photos of the top five winners of this tournament were taken in the last round. See how tired they all were? Chess is not an easy game. It may look only cerebral, but it takes a lot of physical energy out of the players.
Zarul Shazwan Zulkafli from Selangor. The new national champion. He's only 18 and waiting to be admitted to university.
Tan Eu Hong, second, from Penang. He had a great chance to challenge Zarul in a play-off for the title but could make no headway in this game which was eventually drawn.
Masrin Erowan, third, from Sabah. He fought a dogged game in the final round and managed to ground down his opponent in a difficult endgame.
Sumant Subramaniam, 14, from Selangor, fourth. He won an exchange early in the last game but fell to nerves.
Au Yoong Yaw Loo, fifth, from Johor. I felt he could have beaten Eu Hong but he let the opportunity slip away.
It wasn't a particularly strong field. Many players from the Klang Valley stayed away for various reasons. Many players from Penang stayed away too. It's a pity that there wasn't enough support from them. They could have made a difference in the results. But I'm not taking the glory away from Zarul. He deserves to be the new national champion. Congratulations! Final clap to him, please....
According to someone I know who tried to book me into this four-star hotel during the National closed chess championship in Penang, the room rates are:
1) RM140 nett for government servants. This includes breakfast.
2) RM149.50 nett for pensioners. This excludes breakfast.
3) RM190.50 nett for others. This also excludes breakfast.
Now, I wonder why this hotel is having this huge discrepancy in their prices. Why the extraordinary promotional rates only for government servants? Even pensioners do not have it so good. It's so ridiculous.
I must say that the hotel room is quite decent. However, I have to take issue with two things:
a) The hotel does not provide newspapers automatically to their house guests. You'll have to go down to the lobby every morning to collect the newspaper. Reason? Seems that the newspapers often go missing in the mornings! Poor excuse, in my opinion. Why can't the hotel push the newspaper underneath the door instead of hanging it on the door handle??
b) It's the only four-star hotel I know that does not offer their house guests complimentary bottles of mineral water. Even some three-star hotels will give mineral water to their guests. But not this hotel. I walked into the room, expecting to see the bottles and saw none. Only in the mini-fridge. Out of curiosity I phoned the housekeeping department to ask whether the two bottles were complimentary. The lady at the other end laughed cheerfully: "No, sir, you'll have to pay for them!" At least I was addressed politely as "Sir"...
Monday, 28 May 2007
Sunday, 27 May 2007
This flower looked nice from afar but when I looked at the picture after uploading it to my computer, it was actually rather ugly!
I really loved this shot as well as the next few:
A real riot of colours...
And finally, roses. Not the usual red rose but these:
I hope to go there again before the Penang Flora Fest closes on 3 Jun 2007.
Friday may be holiday instead of Sunday
KUALA LUMPUR, Sun. — Many UMNO divisions want Friday to be the weekly holiday instead of Sunday after the Federation gains independence.
The Perak division passed a resolution at its annual delegates' conference last week, urging such a change.
A spokesman at UMNO headquarters told The Straits Times today any such proposal would have to be approved by the general assembly of UMNO Malaya.
UMNO members argue that since Islam should be the state religion in independent Malaya, all workers should stop work on Friday, the Islamic holy day.
FOOTNOTE: Johore, Kelantan, Kedah, Terengganu and Perlis already observe Friday as a holiday.
Surprisingly, almost all the photos she took came out fine. Gee.... over the next few days, I hope to show some of the nicer and more memorable shots here.
First, this picture was taken along the Mekong River. It's such an idyllic life. People resting by the river bank and a very picturesque boat waiting to take passengers on a sunset cruise for USD4 per person. I suppose this must be the boat's pilot.
Along the way from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, the bus stopped by a Cham village where a wedding was in progress.
The Chams are Muslims so this turned out to be a Muslim wedding. According to my wife, the food was very simple, consisting of only one dish and the whole village had turned out for the occasion.
This is the bride and groom. She was in a very resplendent red gown while he was dressed rather simply.
Life in the village was also very simple and here, young Cham children were running about and taking pleasure in seeing foreigners in their own country.
Saturday, 26 May 2007
This is the face of a man who has just been put to death by lethal injection in Ohio, USA on 24 May 2007.
In itself, this looks like one of the death penalties imposed on a convict. But what's remarkable was that the prison staff had struggled for two hours to find a suitable vein to deliver the lethal chemicals.
Sheer ineptness? The execution team found Christopher Newton too heavy - he weighed 265 pounds - and couldn't find a suitable vein in his arms.
As a result, Newton's arm was poked at least 10 times with needles during a two-hour period. More absurd was that the condemned man was even allowed a bathroom leak between attempts.
Newton was already a jailbird when he was sentenced to death. His earlier crime was not explained but while in prison, he got into an argument over a chess game with a cell mate, Jason Brewer. He slammed Brewer's head onto the floor, stomped his throat and cut a piece from his orange prison suit to strangle him.
It must've been one heck of an emotional game to have caused this reaction.
Friday, 25 May 2007
This is the face of Malaysia's Manchester United fans' Public Enemy Number One - Mohamed bin Hammam - who is so full of self-importance as the president of the Asian Football Confederation.
He thinks he can play god but he is just a devil in disguise. Not a Red Devil, mind you, but just a common, ordinary devil who seems to enjoy making life difficult for others. He throws diplomacy out of the window the way you or I may throw out dirty dishwater. He insists that the visiting Manchester United team should reschedule the dates of their Asian tour just to accommodate the Asian Cup. He threatens the FA of Malaysia with undisclosed penalties if the FAM allows United to visit on 27 Jul 2007. But he is alienating more people than he should. That's why I say that he thinks only about himself, thinks only about his own self-righteousness and self-importance, thinks only about his own perceived powers over people and governments. At the end of the day, he is exposed as a lonely coward who hides behind a legal agreement.
Don't be a loser, Hammam. You can be a winner. If you have football at heart, if you have the interests of the fans of football at heart, you'll be big enough to DO THE RIGHT THING! Until you do, I say BAH to you!My good friend, Laurence How, president of the Malaysian Manchester United Supporters Club, was quoted in the New Straits Times today that the Red Devils could not be expected to change their schedule. "United are not being disrespectful to anybody. It’s AFC’s call to solve this problem or come to an amicable solution. The supporters club would like them to be here. I am not surprised that the fans are upset. You must remember that many of the fans cannot afford to visit Old Trafford to watch United play."
There were also strong words from UMNO Youth vice-president Khairy Jamaluddin. "I call on Hammam to do the honourable thing. No one is questioning your legal right to prevent the MU game from taking place. The issue now is whether or not you will accommodate the wishes of the government and the hopes of many Malaysian football fans who are asking AFC to show some flexibility. Indeed, the government’s position has been conveyed by none other than the prime minister himself and it has been made abundantly clear that the Manchester United game is an important event in the Visit Malaysia Year 2007 calendar. If Hammam is unwilling to agree to this request, it will be an insult to the government of Malaysia, which hosts the AFC headquarters and has been a strong supporter of AFC, and Asian football in general."
Thursday, 24 May 2007
Yes, my daughter has left home and my wife and I are so reluctant to see her leave the roost. We know it is only Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, and she is a mere telephone call away, a mere four hours' drive away, a mere 364km away (yes, that's the exact distance from our house to her hostel) but it is still difficult enough to let go.
As parents, we tend to forget that she is no longer a child. As a young adult, it is time to let her go and we'll have to adjust to not seeing her so often. It's a brave new world for her outside Penang and I told her she must go and enjoy herself during the next two years. Study hard and play hard, because she must make full use of this opportunity to learn inside and outside campus. She's really excited about this new phase in her life.
Sunday, 20 May 2007
We are heading towards the grand finale of the European football season and this Thursday morning 2am in Athens, Greece, AC Milan will be playing Liverpool in the Champions League. Who will win? But first:
Owen Hargreaves joins Manchester United.
Bayern Munich president Franz Beckenbauer told German TV: "Owen is leaving. That was the player's wish. It's a good match and it's also a good deal financially."
Beckenbauer said the transfer fee was "around" £17m - which would be a record for a Bundesliga player.
Earlier post: Can he?
I was also equally inspired by these beads of water caught on some remaining strands of web left behind by a spider that had long left its home.
BTW, the first photo was snapped a few days ago. My orchids are now in full bloom and they look even nicer after a brief thunderstorm this afternoon
This goal should've been allowed as it was clear that the ball had gone over the line. I believe this to be the turning point of the FA Cup Finals. Giggs looked so incensed and confused after being denied the goal that the only logical action was to have him substituted. It was a valiant fight till the end but clearly, this was the turning point. I'm sooo disappointed.
Saturday, 19 May 2007
"I don't want to cooperate. Basically they want to quarantine the dog and only then investigate. I say the dog won't be quarantined. They should investigate and if it is legal it stays with me. If not they can take it wherever they want. Nobody knows where it is, only me. And I don't want to say where."
In a skin-of-your-teeth incident worthy of the Good Book itself, Hongkong's media regulator, Television and Licensing Authority (TELA), on 18 May 2007 rejected 2,041 complaints made in a single week against the Bible's sexual and violent content that included rape and incest.
In its rejection, TELA said: "the Bible is a religious text which is part of civilisation. It has been passed from generation to generation. It had not violated standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable members of the community".
As such, it would not submit the Bible to the Obscene Articles Tribunal for classification.
So, for the moment, the Bible and all other mainstream religious texts are safe. There's no need to consign them to the bonfire or hide them away surreptitiously or read them only late at night by candle light with windows closed.
Mmm...come to think of it, you can't even read the Good Book late at night if it had been reclassified or else you'd be risking your senses to be titillated. And that's not allowed, isn't it?
Thursday, 17 May 2007
The 44-year-old Portuguese told the officer that he had to make a mobile call, then went outside with the tiny animal under his arm. When he returned, it was nowhere to be seen and he told the dog warden and two policemen that it had run away.
The Special One was held for obstructing the police and was taken to a West London police station where he was cautioned. The UK's national database is now richer with a set of his Special Fingerprints and a sample of Special DNA.
Meanwhile, dog wardens spent a day roaming the streets and local parks for The Special Pooch without success – until sources at Chelsea announced that the dog had, miraculously, turned up "safe and well".
Someone from the football club said there had been a misunderstanding of documentation required for veterinary regulations, claiming the dog was bought in England from a reputable breeder and had been given all its necessary inoculations.
But the problem is far from being over. The City of London Corporation, responsible for animal welfare, made it clear that the corporation was still investigating an alleged breach of the Animal Health Act 1981 and the Rabies Order 1974. A spokesman said: "Our main concern is to find and detain the dog pending our inquiries."
The investigation was launched after a vet tipped off the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, suspecting the dog had been taken abroad and brought back into the country without the health checks demanded under the EU’s pet passport scheme.
Animals are allowed to travel if they have been microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, blood tested six months later to check they are clear, and wormed 48 hours before travelling.
If The Special One is found to have breached the pet passport rules, he could still be prosecuted and the dog put in quarantine for six months. He could face an unlimited fine or up to 12 months in prison if he is found to have breached anti-rabies laws.
Wednesday, 16 May 2007
They call themselves Restoran Original Penang Kayu Nasi Kandar Sdn Bhd but it seems the only thing original about them are their price hikes BEFORE the price of flour was increased. Such anticipation!
I received this forwarded email in my inbox today and if it is true, a mass boycott of the eatery is in order:
The front page of Kosmo published on Wednesday April 18th 2007 carries a column on the bottom of the page which reads "Milo RM1.30 melambung RM2.50, roti sardin RM2.50 naik RM 4.00" The report was related to the increase in price of Nasi Kandar Di Kayu Restaurant. The price increase does not include the 5% government tax.
Beginning April 1st in the Klang Valley and April 15th up north the new price tag comes into effect. Some of the price increase is 100% which is not justified and I think many customers were caught 'red handed' after they finish their meals. Even thought I do not eat Nasi Kandar
regularly, I see that the price increase is too much. Even the propreitor give an excuse of the price increase in raw product does it affect by piece.
For example a Roti Canai kosong was increased to a ringgit from 60 cents. Its an increase of 40 cent a piece. Does Kayu Nasi Kandar buy flour at 40 cents more expensive for a kilo? Sirap limau nipis was increased 100% when the price of sugar is still at RM 1.45 without any increase.
UPDATE: I'm writing this short paragraph on 17 oct 2008. It's just an update to say that I haven't been patronising Kau restaurant for more than two years. I just cannot agree with their prices. I can get better nasi kandar elsewhere at cheaper prices.
Tuesday, 15 May 2007
Yesterday, Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, the FAM's deputy president, claimed that the FAM had caved in to mounting pressure from the Asian Football Confederation during the AFC Congress last Tuesday.
However, the stand now is that the visit is organised by a private promoter working with the Ministry of Tourism and as such, the FAM has no power to stop the tour.
Trying to explain his way out of the mess, Tengku Abdullah said: “When I said that day that the match was off, I was just echoing after FIFA president Sepp Blatter and AFC president Mohamed Hammam. I made the statement as AFC vice-president."
But then he continued: "I would like to respect the wishes of the Prime Minister and the Malaysian Government that the Manchester United tour will go on in conjunction with the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Merdeka.
"My loyalty is with the Government and I want the AFC to understand that the United match is being promoted by the Ministry of Tourism, and not FAM. We will not be involved in any promotional or marketing campaigns or any other public relations aspects."
Monday, 14 May 2007
Malaysia has never prevented the world's biggest football club Manchester United from coming to Malaysia at the end of July, but indeed welcomed them, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said.
He was commenting on foreign media reports which said that Manchester United chief executive David Gill was disappointed with news that Malaysia had cancelled their match with a Malaysian Selection scheduled for July 27 in Kuala Lumpur due to pressure from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
AFC feared that Manchester United's presence would divert the attention of fans from the Asian Cup to be held from July 7 to 29.
"The truth is we never did. How could we not allow them to come here? It is their summer holiday programme and one of the countries they will stop at is Malaysia because Tourism Malaysia and AirAsia are among the sponsors of the Manchester United games this season. I was shocked ...the AFC's view is too narrow. Mohammed Hammam said Manchester United should not come to Malaysia since the Asian Cup would be on. Manchester United's presence in Malaysia is not a problem, so the AFC should let the fans meet their favourite players as this is one way to develop Malaysian football. The AFC president (Hammam) should not be talking for Malaysia...he has no connection with Malaysia. He has no right, AFC is only concerned with the Asian Cup. Manchester United can come and if necessary, we can ask them to play in another place like Penang, Langkawi, Sabah or Johor Baharu instead of Kuala Lumpur."
Sunday, 13 May 2007
"There are certain players that have given me a new lease of life. You get a buzz from watching them play and in the past few days, I've got a real buzz from seeing the faces of Cristiano, Wayne, Darren after winning their first title. I remember when I won my first championship, it's the best feeling in the world and to get that buzz from seeing their faces has definitely been a factor in enjoying my football a little more this season."
Saturday, 12 May 2007
"Why this bag of chips?" I asked her.
"Don't know," she said, "I saw colleagues buying them so I bought one too, lah!"
I can't question that kind of logic.
But never mind. My wife, who always has a keen eye for industries and industrial development wherever she goes, remarked that Cambodia was almost devoid of any industry. "As far as I could see, there was no development all the way from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap," she said. Her entourage was travelling by bus on an eight-hour long journey to meet up with her other office colleagues who had travelled directly from Kuala Lumpur to Siem Reap. I had urged her to follow her other group of colleagues to the Cambodian capital so that she could see more of the country.
So back to the bag of jackfruit chips.
In between mouths-ful, I mentioned that despite the absence of industrial development, there must surely be some cottage industry there or else the country wouldn't have been able to produce such a nice packaging. It looked very professionally done. I turned it around. "See? There's even a bar code."
But then, after the bag had been emptied by us, I noticed this little mark at the bottom of the package:
See where it was made? Now I understand.
Just when thousands of football fans here are angered or frustrated that the Manchester United match here in July would be called off, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today asked the organisers to go on with the event.
"We hope the organisers of the English team's Malaysian tour will not cancel it as it is part of the government's Visit Malaysia Year 2007 campaign," he told reporters here after delivering his message to Umno members in conjunction with the party's 61st anniversary celebration.
Abdullah, who is also Umno president, appeared surprised with the question on the impending cancellation of the newly crowned English Premier League champions' tour here, asking: "Why?"
"We want the Manchester United team to come here as this year is Visit Malaysia Year. If they come here, we believe that many of their fans from the region like in Singapore and Thailand will be here too for the match. We know how great the club is and they will be a big attraction to football fans here," he added.
About face, turn!
Spanner in the works?
"Boss," I asked him, "may I ask you something? Is your surname Teh?" He looked surprised but replied that it was Goh. But, I said, I do know that there is someone here with the surname of Teh who used to work in Ban Hin Lee Bank.
"Ban Hin Lee...I've been selling here for almost 30 years and there's nobody else with that surname. But wait, let me ask the coffee shop owner here," he offered.
True enough, the son of the shop owner said the person I was looking for was his mother's brother. But if I wanted to see him, I would need to visit him at the Loh Guan Lye Hospital.
Minutes later, I was beside my old ex-colleague from my Ban Hin Lee Bank days. Teh Chew Hoe, who started his career at the bank as a messenger in the Bukit Mertajam branch and ended up as a clerk in the Batu Pahat branch, is bed-ridden suffering through the end stage of a debilitating illness that has left him looking gaunt, a pale shadow of the person I used to know.
It was stage four of lung cancer, diagnosed some three years one month ago (yes, he was still counting), which had seen him undergo chemo-therapy 27 times and radio-therapy 40 times. He said he couldn't bear more of the treatment. Painful.
He was surprised and over-joyed that I had come to see him. Not many of his former colleagues had visited him, he said plainly as a matter-of-fact without feeling bitter or disappointed. But he was so glad to see me. I was also glad to see him.
He looked comfortable in bed and would be discharged today. He had been warded four days for stomach discomfort and would be checking back into the newly opened Red Rock Hotel which was less than a kilometre away. This is the former Agora Hotel in MacAlister Road. A few days from now, he will be travelling back to Batu Pahat with his wife.
Teh was very alert and he talked about old times. I did not try to interrupt him. I let him talk. It's important to do that. So he talked about his days in the bank, how he was transferred to the Batu Pahat branch, how he suffered working under the branch manager there who likened him to a Volkswagen compared to the other staff who were all "fast cars". You can deduce what he wanted me to know.
He also talked about being diagnosed with lung cancer in 2004, undergoing a biopsy in Penang which confirmed it, how he had been travelling around the peninsula with his sister to visit every sinseh they knew, how he underwent the rounds of chemo-therapy and radio-therapy treatments.
He is a staunch Christian and I was heartened to see that he still had his faith in his God. He talked a lot about his God and I told him to remain strong and keep the faith. It's good to see that his mind is still very clear.
He understood it was the final stage of this disease. That's why he wanted to come back to Penang (it was 14 April) for a last visit to his relatives and friends.
Before I left him, he told me to promise that I will always take care of my own health. Yes, I told him and then I left quietly, deep in my own thoughts. I don't know when I'll be able to see him again.....
UPDATE (13 May 2007): It was quite unfortunate that I forgot to get the mobile number from his wife. Anyone wishing to see him can go to the Red Rock Hotel in MacAlister Road and ask the Front Desk for their house guest who came in a wheel chair and was discharged recently from the Loh Guan Lye Hospital. As far as I know, Teh's room is on the 10th floor and he will be checking out on Saturday (19 May 2007).
UPDATE 2 (17 May 2007): Teh is in Room 816 of the Red Rock Hotel in MacAlister Road . Spoke to him last night after some other ex-colleagues phoned me to get his latest whereabouts.
Thursday, 10 May 2007
Starting from the clock tower end of the road, the first imposing building you see houses the Standard Chartered Bank.
Diagonally opposite it is the Hongkong & Shanghai Bank.
And beside it is another heritage building that once housed the Algemene Bank Nederlands. After its merger with the Amro bank, the ABN-Amro Bank was located here.
Next to it is the old premises of the Mercantile Bank. My father used to work here until the bank was bought up by the Hongkong & Shanghai Bank in the mid-1960s. What you can see now is just the shell of the building. What a pity because during its hey-days, the glass panes were a marvel to behold.
Crossing the road into Union Street, you'll come across Malayan Banking with its own heritage building.
Nearby is the Hong Leong Bank which faces the Esplanade. Before Hong Leong Bank opened here, Citibank used to be the occupant. Citibank later moved away to Northam Road.
And its neighbour is the Affin Bank which is located on the ground floor of the Mariner's Club.
The road parallel to Union Street is Bishop Street and here, you'll find Public Bank.
A few doors away is the Arab-Malaysia Bank. Okay, this isn't one of those imposing buildings but the bank nevertheless occupies three lots of post-war shophouses.
Moving back to Beach Street, you'll come across the Overseas-Chinese Banking Corporation.
Next to it is the former premises of the United Malayan Banking Corporation. I don't have a photograph of the building because it was torn down in 1993 to build a new one which houses RHB Bank today. A pity...
Diagonally across the road is the equally imposing building that once belonged to Yeap Chor Ee. It was here that we find the old Ban Hin Lee Bank until it was taken over by Southern Bank. The building now belongs to CIMB.
The buildings and banks along this road will be incomplete without mention of the old premises of Southern Bank and the United Overseas Bank. I'll finish the picture guide some other time...