Sunday, 30 January 2011

PM is a damn spammer!

What idiot stole my email address and then spammed me with this message? What right has Najib or his goons got to send me this unsolicited email? Have you no ethics, man? Can I call on MCMC to investigate this bloody invasion of my privacy? Bugger off, will you?

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Really, a street of harmony

I couldn't but help notice that the administrative office of the Kuan Yin Temple at Pitt Street in George Town had allowed this temporary stall to be set up in the temple's courtyard. This was on 21 Jan 2011, the day after this year's Thaipusam when the chariot with Lord Muruga's image would be weaving its way back from the Nattukottai Chettiar Temple near the Penang Botanical Gardens.

You can't play Superman into your 40s

He'll be missed...

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Ceiling fan

I've been neglecting this blog for far too long. I've been so busy in the last six weeks that I've little time to log in and add anything new to it. Unfortunately, it's going to be the same until possibly after Chap Goh Meh, the 15th day of the Chinese New Year. So do excuse me if this blog remains spotty.

Actually, I've got a neck ache as I write. It's because among some of the things that I've been doing lately is to stare up at ceilings. You don't know how nice some of these ceilings can be until you stand directly beneath and look up at them. And sometimes, it's not the ceiling patterns that impresses you but the ornaments that hang down from the top.

These pictures, above and below, were taken at the Kapitan Keling Mosque in Pitt Street, George Town. The one below was taken beneath the dome. It didn't strike me to stand right under the chandelier because the lens on my camera wasn't wide enough to capture the full circle. The next opportunity I have, I shall have to try better and be more prepared.

These second set of pictures, above and below, were snapped at the Kek Lok Si Temple in Ayer Itam. The one above is located at the first big prayer hall when you arrive at the temple. The second one below is at the inner prayer hall. You'd need to pay an entrance fee to go into this part of the temple but it will also allow you to climb up the pagoda.

And finally, there's this single picture which I took at the Penang Supreme Court building in Light Street, George Town. It's easy to miss it if you enter the building from the wrong direction. I won't say much as I'd like to leave you with the thrill of finding it. It's not that difficult. And when you do, it will take your breathe away. I know it did mine.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Inner city blues

I was reading in yesterday's newspapers that Lim Chong Keat, the main architect behind Komtar in George Town, had called on the state government to relook at the landmark's Phase 5 development that is slated for completion by 2013. He said the massive five-phase project which was launched in 1974 was in its final phase and "something must be done now before it's too late."

He claimed that the Penang government had deviated from the original plan and purpose of the project as proposed in the 1970s, which was to have an all-encompassing plan for urban renewal of the city so that the people of George Town are economically better off. The final phase would comprise an urban park - a "city within a city" - where all the five phases were to be linked by a landscaped rooftop garden meant to be a public space.

I don't believe there was any straying from the original objectives while his brother, Dr Lim Chong Eu, was running the state but once he was defeated in the 1990 General Elections by Lim Kit Siang and thereby lost his Chief Ministership, the subsequent BN government was the one that chose to forget all those objectives. That batch of politicians, emboldened by the fact that they had become the new leaders in Penang, probably thought they knew how to develop the Komtar land better.

Anyway, despite the rehabilitation of the older parts of Komtar, this is a place that I wouldn't want to visit if I can help it. What is there to do within Komtar? Those earliest phases of Komtar held its original soul. The traders who owned those small shoplots within Komtar's Phase Ia and Ib were the pioneers; they were the soul of Komtar. But then corporate privatisation crept in and we saw the Prangin Mall and the One Avenue shopping malls built. Once the former was built, the original Komtar, the part beneath the tower and the geodesic dome, became grossly neglected. All sorts of small traders were allowed to ply their stuff in the podium block with little control. Facilities were allowed to deteriorate. The lighting was so dark that it became an adventure to walk the corridors. The false ceiling boards, once broken, were never replaced. All thse, I remember of Komtar's decay.

And I really don't know the reason for allowing this One Avenue to be built, especially when it is directly next to the Prangin Mall. There is already a big glut of commercial activity within Komtar. What can possibly be there that cannot be found at Prangin Mall or further afield? Why allow the duplication when you know that it is the same department store or shops selling the same brands that will open? No doubt competition is good but when you have similar named shops selling the same items at the same prices, I think that sort of competition is really no competition at all. Last month, I walked into this One Avenue and within half an hour, I had walked out. Really, there's nothing really new. It may look really posh presently but in the next one or two years, chances are that it will befall the same fate of the Prangin Mall and become another cheap shopping centre with little sophistication.

I hadn't planned on this little rant. My original intention was to show these few pictures below which showed the amount of urban decay in the streets of George Town, practically within a stone's throw of Komtar. Of course, this place is on the other side of the Prangin canal, so is unaffected by the UNESCO world cultural heritage zoning and by extension, can be left to rot (who cares, right?), but this is no excuse at all. If redevelopment is in the works, why is it taking so long? Really, I've even no idea what's going on. The abandoned houses is a reflection of the failure of the city's planners, past and present.

I may upload more photos to my facebook account later.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Li Chun, 2011

I'm no fengshui master. Nay, I'm not even a fengshui student. All I know about Chinese geomancy comes from the fengshui books that my wife bought. And that's knowing very, very little because I don't read them.

Still, I have with me this thick book by Joey Yap, called The Ten Thousand Year Calendar or Wan Nian Li 年曆. Why it's called that is beyond me, because the book covers only the years from 1900 to 2050. Maybe it's part of a Larger Picture that I'm not aware of.

Anyway, it's that time of the year again when I have to delve into this book to see when this year's Li Chun 立春 would occur. That it will fall on 4 Feb 2011 is without doubt. But I need to let my aunt know the exact time. She needs it to gum that little piece of red paper onto the family rice bucket to signify abundance. So let's see what the book says...

Hmm, yes, Li Chun for 2011 is at 12.34pm, that is, 34 minutes after the hour of noon on 4 Feb 2011. That's when the Chinese lunisolar calendar officially marks the Coming Of Spring. And in case you don't already know, that is the real start to the Chinese New Year.

Sunday, 9 January 2011


Sometimes, life is funny. It's so full of coincidences. There I was, sitting in a cafe along Armenian Street in George Town with some people and suddenly, I happened to turn around to see a banner inviting people to an art exhibition right upstairs from where I was. What caught my attention was a name, a very peculiar name for a Chinese, one with a double-barrelled surname. That by itself wouldn't surprise me, a lot of people had double-barrelled surname, like AuYeong or SeTo. What surprised me, however, was that it was the name of one of my long-lost relatives, one whom I haven't met for close to 30 years, or even longer. And feeling all intrigued, I rushed upstairs to look at his art work. Among all the pieces there, he had two paintings on display. I didn't expect him to be there and indeed, he wasn't. I texted him. He was in KL, at another art show. But he would be back. And we promised to meet up the next time I am on the island.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Christmas @ Orchard Road

One of my friends kept asking me whether I had any nice pictures of the Christmas decorations along Singapore's Orchard Road. I had to tell him that all I saw of Orchard Road was from a moving vehicle. And you know how it is like to take photographs at low light from a moving car, especially with a cheap point-and-shoot auto-everything camera. I had about seven or eight pictures but unfortunately only one turned out acceptable. This one:

The rest have been consigned to the electronic trash can.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011


It was an anniversary that I hoped not to forget but as luck would have it, I did forget! The first of January 2011 came and went without me remembering that it was the first anniversary of my retirement. And to top it, I wasn't even in Penang.

So what have I done the whole year round? Surprisingly, a lot of things were accomplished; some rather unproductive work (but of course) but generally okay, lah! Sometimes, though, I wished for more time on my hands.

Funny business, retirement. I have time on my hands and yet, I want more time. Anyway, I'm now immersed in a project for a friend. Quite interesting despite the deadline, but what I still hate -- this haven't changed in the past five years -- is the travel. Gee, I really hate having to drive from Bukit Mertajam to George Town and back, especially at peak hours. But what to do? Work is work....

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Mt Vernon, Singapore

A belated New Year greetings to one and all. I've been so quiet over the long weekend. Reason was, I was away across the causeway in LeeKuanYew Land. The ever spotless red dot where life moves around like clockwork. Not all the time anyway but most of the time.

I was in LeeKuanYew Land for two reasons: the first was for the annual chess match between Malaysia and Singapore and the second was for me to meet up with my old friends.

Regarding the chess match, it was time for Singapore to play host. So there were about 50 of us who appeared eventually at the Stansfield Residences One. Fantastically posh name but it cannot hide the fact that it is only a hostel. Hostel for whom? We don't know. We didn't ask. We were provided with this place to stay and so we stayed and played there. And earlier, before we had taken residence in this hostel, this place had also been the venue of the Singapore Chess Festival. So it had been pretty busy for the organisers of the Festival, of which the Singapore-Malaysia match had been part of the programme.

I suppose the hustle and bustle of the Festival in the past week meant that few people bothered with the revelation that right next door to the hostel -- well, not exactly "right next door" to the hostel because there was a school acting as a buffer -- but anyway, almost right next door to the school was .... a columbarium.

That's right, you read correctly. A columbarium. The Mount Vernon Cemetary Columbarium. So travelling along these two roads at night, Vernon Park and Mount Vernon Road, proved both depressing and creepy. Downright spooky. I wonder how the Singapore Gurkha Contingent's camp could be located there directly opposite the cemetary. I mean, do they ever see anything bordering on the unexplained? Especially those doing guard duties at the Camp. All they do is to stare out from the Camp and look across the road at the niches. Mmm, maybe that's why the place is restricted and heavily fortified at the entrance. Can't be too careful, can they? Brr, even just writing about it gives me the shivers.

So anyway, we were all staying at the Stansfield Residences. Actually, this was not too bad a hostel. I shared a room with a chessmate. And we shared a connecting bathroom with whoever were in the next hostel room. The only problem with this arrangement was that nobody could lock the bathroom from the inside. You could be doing your business inside - the quiet one (defecating), not the noisy one (bathing) - and someone may jolly well walk in from either door unexpectedly. Maybe that's why some people take up singing in their baths. But warbling has its drawbacks. Don't sing and you risk someone walking in on you; sing and you risk losing your reputation. Either way, you cannot win. Not to mention waking up the nearby dead too, with your vocal cords at full throttle.

Just for the record, this was a fruitful trip for the Malaysians. We won; we beat the dastardly Red Dots fair and square, reversing the results of last year's match in Kuala Lumpur. Sorry, ah, if you are a Red Dot, but don't take it personally. They weren't "dastardly", but they lost the match to give us the bragging rights this time around.