Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Chinese Movie Worth Watching (Finally!)

For the past one month, I was bombarded with ads for this new Mandarin movie called "Perhaps Love" headlined by Jackie Cheung, one of the four "heavenly kings of pop" of the 90's. It looked for all the world to me like a tacky musical, so I decided to give it a skip.

But good word of mouth from friends and friend's friends prompted me to drive all the way to Summit last night to catch the movie with my wife. And what a movie it was.

If you're the type who loves melancholic romantic movies, you'll be a fool not to catch this. It was brilliantly mounted, and did not veer into tackiness at all as I've feared. The music was really great, too, and was a very integral part of the proceedings. I plan to get hold of the OST soon.

If you'll like to know more, go to HERE. Be warned, its in Flash and VERY heavy, so make sure you've got broadband.

Christmas '05

Christmas this year was really hectic, I had church service at 10 am, then had to drive two hours to Bahau for a wedding lunch, then rush back again for a Christmas party at 7 pm. To top it up, there was a bad jam on the way back from Bahau due to an overturned milk truck at the Nilai Utara interchange which spilt milk all over the highway!

The wedding lunch at Bahau was a typical hometown style affair, the food as usual was much better than the usual hotel stuff (to all my unmarried friends, take note :) ) Annice looked great, and it was good to see the gang again.

Luckily the next day was a holiday and I got to sleep in, hehe.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas

A blessed and joyful Christmas to all :)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Singapore Trip

Went down to Singapore for a much needed break and spent a relaxing 3 days there. Here's a few things I noticed when I was there:-

1. Their toilets are clean. VERY clean. I was in a shopping mall that looked slightly run down, and was surprised to see that their toilet is as nice as the KLCC ones.

2. Second link is the way to go if don't want any hassle and jams. I was able to get from Kluang to my brother-in-law's place in 1 hour 15 minutes flat.

3. If you can afford a double storey house there, you are definitely a big shot. If you ever want to see Mercedes, Jaguars and BMW's parked at the roadside outside normal terrace houses, head over to Mandai/Ang Mo Kio.

4. They get a much bigger choice of cars there. I almost cried in frustration after my brother-in-law took me to Alexandra to go car viewing. Damn you, Proton!

5. I can get Miller beer there, yay!! Managed to smuggle six bottles back.

6. Cost of living is actually cheaper there, if you work there and earn S$. A typical meal in the suburbs is only 2.50 on average.

Working Late (Final Round)

Felt refreshed after the trip to Singapore, but found out that the guys did not progress the issues/bugs I assigned them last Thursday. What the... Anyway, boss told me tonight is the last night the project has to complete, so here I am, typing this blog at 10 pm.

At 7.30 pm I overheard the guy who was working with me on this complaining to someone that he's been in the office for 12 hours now. At that moment, I really felt like jumping up and smashing his face in. Where were you when the CEO and me were debugging your crap code until 4 am in the morning??!! Where were you when the CEO and me stayed late four nights in a row trying to get this done??!! He left at 7.45 pm just now, and me and the CEO are still here......

I've really had it up to HERE with these bozos......

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Living Years

The Living Years was a song popularized by Mike and The Mechanics back in 1989 after the death of Mike Rutherford's (the band's main guy) father.

Ever since I came back from UK to work exactly 10 years ago, I began to appreciate my parents more and more. My main regret at the moment is that even as they get older, I seldom see them. Even when they do come down to stay with me, most nights I work so late that by the time I get home, they'll all be asleep, and by the time they get up, I would have already rushed off to work.

My dad will turn 60 next year, a major milestone for a Chinese. Me and my siblings will all be going back to celebrate the occasion.

The problem with most dads is that you don't get to have much close conversation with them, you tend to end up talking about the weather, the economy, China and whatever else except what you really feel inside.

In The Living Years song, Mike Rutherford expressed his regret that he never got to tell his dad how he really felt inside, all the things that hung heavily in the air but in the end never got spoken.

I think I'm gonna give my dad a call soon.

Feeling Useless

This my second night staying back in the office to try and complete an integration project for a client in UK.

I really miss the team I left behind in my previous company. Over here, almost the whole team is new, and there's no strong sense of ownership and responsibility, everyone cabut at 6 pm irregardless of whether they finish their work or not. End up myself, CEO and the system admin guy doing all the dirty work.

I think my CEO is too nice a guy, I still have not seen him scold anyone in the office despite what's happening. Me, I'm getting more and more frustrated by the day. Sure, the pay is good, but working with a bunch of people who don't care and don't know what they are doing really sucks. The worst for me is that no one reports to me, so I cannot tell anyone off, I cannot control whether they come or go, I cannot do anything to them.

Sigh.

Took a walk to KLCC just now to clear my head (no traffic! crossing the road was a breeze). Its been crossing my mind these few days that this might not be a good place for me. My other half is advising me to stick it out. I'm glad I'll away from Thursday to Sunday in Singapore, hopefully that'll clear my mind a little bit.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Good Customer Service (Finally, Another One!)

My friends like to rib me for being one of the few that has a 013 number, but fortunately for me, the customer service has always been quite okay, if nothing to shout about.

Recently, I decided to change my Minutes plan, as I realised that I was using less than 180 minutes a month whereas the package I had was 450 minutes. Due to my recent bad experience with Astro, it was with some trepidation that I called up Celcom customer service at lunch hour today.

To my pleasant surprise, my call got picked up within 2 rings when I requested to speak to the customer service person. And the person did not make a big fuss of trying to dissuade me from changing my plan! After some standard verification questions, all was done. All in all, it took less than three minutes.

Syabas, Celcom! Nice to know that some Malaysian companies ARE making an effort.

On another note, I thought I'll also give credit where credit's due. A few days after my unhappy experience with Astro, someone from Astro called me up to enquire about my problem, and the person followed up again a few days later with another phone call. While I appreciate all this, I still feel that the intial contact point should be greatly improved. Just contrast it with Celcom.

Friday, December 02, 2005

You Are What You Eat

Got news from a friend recently that he's having high blood pressure, in addition to the gout problem that he got previously.

That got me thinking that I'm not in exactly good shape nowadays either. I have gained 10 kg's since last year, and I tend to get stomach upsets quite often nowadays.

When we're young, we put all sorts of stuff into ourselves, and being young, the "engine" doesn't break down. But now that I've reached my mid-thirties, it seems the "engine" cannot take it anymore and I need to watch what I eat.

So, my to do list to be more healthy:-

1. Cut down on bak kut teh
- tough one, this. I've always loved bak kut teh and pork (very bad combination)

2. Cut down on oily food
- yet another tough one. I mean, char koay teow is as oily as it gets and its one of my favourites, too.

3. Eat more fruits and fibre
- Done, thanks to my "deer" who forces me to eat them every day.

4. Exercise more.
- I bought a jogging machine, and I only use it once a week, which is pathetic. Got to find more time to do this.

5. Don't overeat
- Try to avoid buffets. And try to eat less at the numerous wedding dinners happening these few months.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Wedding Party

Finally, a wedding dinner with a difference! My wife's colleague had her wedding dinner on Saturday at Saujana Golf and Country Club, and it turned to be a party instead of the usual dinner. And what a party it was! First off, there was none of those "wait for the bride and groom" stuff, dinner was served buffet style from 7 pm onwards. Booze was free flowing - beer, wine and spirits, you name it, they got it.

The happy couple came at about 8 pm, by which time the band was playing, people were dancing, it was like Saturday night at a pub :) The bride and groom went around separately mingling with the guests, making sure they had a good time. They were given permission to party till 6 am the next day.

By the time 11 pm came, I didn't want to leave and had to be dragged out. And Arsenal was playing that night!

Thanks, Jessie and Vincent, for a really good time :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Idiotic Customer Service

Lately my Astro has been on the blink, so tonight I finally called them. To my surprise, the call centre system has been changed, and now I can't be put on hold! I have to press 9 then 7 to try again, and after doing this for the 30 minutes I lost patience and decided to send an email. This is what I got:-

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your enquiry/feedback which is receiving our
attention.
We wil revert to you within 5 working days.

Regards,
Subscriber Management Division, ASTRO

FIVE WORKING DAYS!! Are they going to refund me for being forced to wait FIVE DAYS?? I don't think so. Short of trying 24 hours to get through the phone or going straight to their head office in Bukit Jalil and banging on someone's table, it looks like I'm going to be Astro-less for another week minimum.

What sort of idiotic customer service is this? They used to be so good, I used to get great service over the phone from them, what happened?

The most ironic (and irritating) thing is that their email is wecare@astro.com.my, it was through gritted teeth that I typed out the email address on my Yahoo Mail. We Care? My foot!!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Ipod...LifePod?

I notice more and more folks brandishing Ipods on trains and LRT's nowadays, I think it'll just be a matter of time before I give in and get one, too.

To prepare, I've been doing a long term project to build up my mp3 collection, which entails converting my CD collections, searching and downloading them from the net, and last but not least getting them off the pasar malam. I find that I have been searching for songs which reminded me of each of the years of my life.

Surprisingly, there were none for the years when I was courting my wife, a fact which still irritates my wife to this day. Sometimes when I go "Oh, that song reminds me of 1986" in the car, she'll go, "Well, what song reminds you of us, dear?" and I'll be "err, err...".

So, theoretically, I can relive all the years of my life just by arranging my playlist chronologically:-

1980 - Do That To Me One More Time; Please Don't Go; YMCA

1984 - Beat It; Telephone; Karma Chameleon; All Night Long

1985 - Everybody Wants To Rule The World; Wild Boys; Cheri Cheri Lady

1986 - The Sun Always Shines On TV; There'll Be Sad Songs; Life is Life

and etc.

At the moment, there's about 600 songs in my project folder and still growing.

One of the biggies I'm still looking for is the Animalympics soundtrack, which was created by Graham Gouldman. But its out of circulation and an enthusiast's effort to convert an LP of it into mp3 hit legal issues.

Animalympics was a cartoon based on the Olympics created back in 1980, but some of the things from it still remain refreshingly relevant today. Take Rene's Song, sung in the movie about a goat, who, in his pursuit of Olympic glory, left behind everything:-

I've always run away
From things that tie me down
My life I love
But love's not for me

I see my goal ahead
With nothing in the way
If love should come
Then I'll run away

I've always been the type of man
Who's dedicated to his cause
And it's a lonely road I run
But I'll stay faithful to my course
There's only one direction

There comes a time when you must choose
About the path you're gonna take
And you must take it win or lose
And if you lose it's your mistake
There's only one direction

So when the race is won
And there's nothing left to do
Alone again but where are you
Alone again but where are you


I first heard this song back in 1986, and it still haunts me to this day.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Feeling Better Today

Woke up this morning and felt like shit. Didn't feel like going to work, I thought of calling in sick, but .... what to say ah? In the end, I decided to go anyway.

At the Kelana Jaya LRT, I started having this massive stomach ache. Oh oh, I thought, must be pyschosomatic, I must have wished so hard that I was REALLY getting sick.

Still, made it to work in the end. Checked my email, the partner and the customer were very magnanimous, they all said, lesson learned, let's all move on. But boss is still angry with me, I guess he will take a few days to cool down.

Anyway, things moved quite fast today, had a few bugs, but by 4 pm all were solved and we were back on track.

Just felt very sleepy from lack of sleep, gonna try and catch up during the weekend. And also watch all the Episodes of Amazing Race Family Edition that I missed. Thanks, Media Queen! ;)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Sickening

Just had my first major screw up in the new company that I moved to five months ago.

I don't know what happened to me, I just completely forgot all those risk management skills that I so painstakingly learnt in the last three years and made a number of ASSUMPTIONS which, as Murphy's Law goes, will definitely go wrong and bite you in the ASS.

And bite they did, my boss went and told everyone that's its the other party we are integrating with that's at fault, and finally, finally, after three nights of hard digging and sleep deprivation, I found out that its OUR problem!!! Crap.

But, oddly, it felt good that I was the one who found the problem. The developers from all sides couldn't find the problem, in the end it was the project manager (me) who found it.

Depressing day :(

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Speaking of Wedding Dinners ...

If you're Chinese, you tend to attend wedding dinners, as opposed to actual weddings, which is more of a Christian thing nowadays. There are the occasional few non-Christian ones where we get to join in the bride collection process (corrupted by tricks learned from Hongkie serials), but invites to those have been almost zero since I got married (Married guys don't qualify, you see).

Over the years, wedding dinners have been a blur of the same things - the long wait, the happy couple's entrance, the salty food, the Powerpoint presentation, the Kenny G music, but there were occasions when I got something different:-

1. Best food - my wife's ex-room mate's dinner in Kampar back in 2002. The ikan bawal was to die for. A distant second was JW Marriott KL, 2004 - distant cousin's wedding - he didn't have too many relatives in KL and I had to make up the numbers.

2. Longest wait - another of my wife's ex-room mate, in Federal Hotel 2001. We started dinner at 9.15 pm and finished at 11.30! I wanna see someone else beat that.

3. Fastest dinner - the same one that won the best food award. Started sharp at 6 pm, finished sharp 8 pm. Who says quality has to take time?

4. Most punctual - and Kampar wins again! Yay!

5. Most environmentally friendly - Klang 2004. This ex-colleague of mine actually put a note on every table explaining why they decided to replace the usual shark fin soup with herbal chicken soup instead.

6. Lousiest food - Hope my good friend and ex-colleague won't mind, but this has to be his hundred table banquet held at Palace of the Golden Horses in 2002. Everything was sloppily done.

7. Most expensive - 1000 bucks per table, see no. 6. Oh, the irony of it.

8. Best service - JW Marriott, distant cousin's dinner 2004. They struck the right balance between thoughtfulness and fussiness.

9. Best Powerpoint presentation - this has to be the two done by Simon, a good friend who did two very funny yet touching cartoons of the happy couples' stories. Way to go, Simon!

10. Best live presentation - a live rendition of one of Ah Niu's Hokkien songs to the happy couple, with modified lyrics, church friend's wedding, 2001.

11. Most drunken - The Gurney, Penang, 2000. After the dinner, the couple invited a group of 20 friends (yours truly included) to their suite to help themselves to two cases of hard liquor. No one was able to hold their food for the next two days.

Another Wedding Dinner

I hope the bride doesn't mind me mentioning this, but a major reason I'm looking forward to this tonight is meeting up with the guys and gals from the ex-office. I think the last time was I caught up with them was during the farewell for two pretty ladies back in August.

Can't wait!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Highbury


It was my dream to visit Arsenal's home ground, so off I went last Saturday to Highbury. There was a home match against Sunderland on, so at 2 pm I set out from Central London towards Arsenal station.

The first thing I noticed was how crowded the train was. Then I realised almost everyone was wearing Arsenal shirts. Being the coward that I am, I couldn't bring myself to take a snap of them.

When I came out of the station, I realised that Highbury is smack in the middle of a residential area! I pity the residents, having to deal with 40 thousand plus people trampling through their streets on match day. To add insult to injury, there's a large police presence, and all of them were on horses, and horse shit was everywhere!

I was dying to get a ticket, but quickly lost my appetite when a scalper offered me one for 120 quid (about 800 ringgit). The match was officially sold out, so I had to make do with soaking in the atmosphere and snapping some pics:


The official Arsenal shop :


More pics :

So this is where Osama lives ..

I woke up from my sleep on the plane to see my fellow passengers staring out the window. So, being the typical busybody Malaysian that I am, I looked out, too, and saw these:



Its Afghanistan, and if you look carefully at the pictures, you can actually see villages! Makes you wonder why people would choose to live in a place like that, but I guess different strokes for different folks....

Sunday, October 16, 2005

What's a Good Company? (Part 2)

Felt like adding on to the previous post after reading some recent posts on a blog run by a bunch of ex-colleagues.

Somehow, in this place that I worked for five years, we all managed to develop genuine deep friendships that carried on even after we left. The first thing that I noticed is that everyone laments how they never find that kind of friendship in all the places that they've worked for (with the exception of one or two :) ).

The second thing I noticed was how most people said that their career actually went backwards after they left. This made me wonder - what happened to all the great IT companies in Malaysia? Aren't there any? I know writing software is a difficult and risky business, but surely someone somewhere would have made it, especially with Microsoft based development tools?

Ultimately, in this business, its the people that make up the place that really matters, and no company that I currently know of is savvy enough to realize that. They may SAY they do, but they probably don't MEAN it.

Back To UK Again

I was just informed by my boss that I'll heading back to the UK again for a few weeks from end of October onwards, so it looks like I'll miss out on the long Raya holidays.

Not really looking forward to the trip this time as the weather is colder and the sun sets earlier. This time around I try to be more prepared - bought sleeping pills, eye mask and head cushion so that I'll wake up refreshed when I get to London, and a warm jacket.

What's a Good Company?

Since I was made manager some years back, I try my best to make things better for my staff, encouraging them to grow, trying to give them constructive feedback and generally treating them the way I thought they would like to be treated. At times, what I do seem to contradict what the company and the HR department have on mind, and there's resentment from both myself and the staff.

In my new job, no one really reports to me, and the work is about 70% technical, so these issues sort of dropped out of my mind, until a recent article in BusinessWeek brought me to Mini Microsoft, a blog by an anonymous Microsoft employee who has become a celebrity of sorts for his rants about how things are being run at Microsoft. It is interesting that such a successful company as Microsoft also faces the issues that I used to agonize over in my previous job.

Spam, Spam Everywhere and Nowhere to Hide

Spam seems to be everywhere nowadays. I log into my office email, and there are viagra offers and stock tips. I check my Yahoo email, and another 3 dozen (mostly x-rated) offers awaits me. And when I check my blog, the comments from spammers crowd out my friends' messages.

During the day, various telemarketeers try to interest me in insurance schemes, personal loans, time share schemes and what not.

And when I get home, I find a bunch of flyers and junk mail in the mail box!

If half of all these efforts were put into charity, I'm sure Africa would be a rich nation by now...

Friday, September 23, 2005

Man's Best Friend

A few days ago, a movie caught my eye while surfing through Golden Screen Cinema's website - a Japanese film called All About My Dog.

So off I went yesterday with my other half to GSC MidValley. When I said "two for All About My Dog, please", the guy at the counter hesitated and said he'll be right back. Next thing I know, he says the show's cancelled. Huh, why? Coz there's no customers, he said. Eh, you've got two standing right in front of you, lah, gundu! Fortunately his supervisor walked past at that point and relented. Woo hoo, we're gonna have the cinema all to ourselves! Not quite, in the end there were another three. Must be a record of some sort, five persons in a cinema.

For those dog lovers among you, you must catch this show before they take it off soon. It was very weird, but at the same time very affecting. If you've grown weary of the cynical, self-centred world that we live in, this might make you shed tears of knowing some are still capable of simple, pure love. It also reminds of innocence lost, and dreams forgotten.

If you're the type who loves what Hollywood's been feeding us, then this might not be for you. But if you're looking for something different and memorable, then this comes highly recommended.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Mr Proton, You're Fired

I'm a big fan of The Apprentice, and often couldn't help but think that our local managers would benefit from getting a dose of Mr. Trump's weekly business lessons. Despite the theatrics and obvious made-for-tv contrivances, I felt there were always genuine business lessons to be drawn from them.

The saga of Proton's decline must be familiar to most people by now, and so far they have blamed everybody (including the consumer) but themselves. Worst of all, a very senior retired national leader (you know who I'm talking about here) has brought in a nationalistic angle into the argument, further clouding the real issues.

I think the first lesson that our soon-to-be-number-two national carmaker (Perodua is poised to overtake it at the end of this year) can learn is that you don't build products that people do not wish to buy. The current Proton Wira is at least 7 generations behind the Mitsubishi Lancer it was based on, and consumes as much petrol as my 2 litre Korean car. The Gen-2, while a genuinely good car, was hampered by poor positioning and marketing. A large number of Proton buyers are in the smaller towns, and few uncles and aunties felt comfortable buying something that looks more like a sports car than a family sedan. A large number of Proton buyers are family people, and for them, the Gen-2 was just not practical enough. If Proton had brought out a more conservatively styled family sedan based on the Campro, I'm sure it would have been a roaring success.

The second lesson is NOT to assume that you know what the market wants. What's this deal with launching cars that has only manual transmission, no ABS and no airbags anyway? Even Perodua fell down on this aspect, they readily admitted that they were caught by surprise that a full 70% of the MyVi buyers actually went for the most high end model (with ABS and dual air bags). Surprisingly, Proton repeated the mistake with the Savvy, and is now belatedly giving an auto transmission option. The Malaysian consumer has moved on, educated on a steady diet of information from cable tv and the Internet, while the car makers still assume we are ignoramuses.

The third lesson is not to alienate the consumer by blaming THEM for not buying your car. So, not buying Proton is not nationalistic? Come on! If Proton feels that the consumer is unfairly judging them on past quality problems, then why not put its money where its mouth is and offer an extended warranty at no extra charge. The Koreans did the same with the Hyundai Sonata, where the US consumer went "Oh, its a nice car, but I don't know whether it'll be as reliable as a Camry". Hyundai put their doubts to rest by offering 10 year warranties. Yep, you read that right, 10 years.

The fourth lesson is understanding that for many people, buying a car can also be an emotional thing. Many people were taken by the Kelisa's looks when it first came out, and now the same goes for the MyVi as well. I remember staring at the Kelisa whenever I spotted one when it first come out, it looked so, well, huggable. Nothing from Proton so far has ever evoked this.

The final lesson is that if you never learn and change, you'll be fired, i.e. kaput. There's an article in The Star today that says the analysts suspect right now Proton is in a negative cash flow situation. Any half decent accountant will tell you that if this goes on, the company will just bleed to death.

I do appreciate Proton for having provided me an opportunity to buy a car at an affordable price, but the time for self pity and finger pointing is long past. Wake up, Proton, or you're fired.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Home

Recently, I made a nostalgic trip back to a place that haunted my dreams for the last 10 years – Belfast, Northern Ireland. I had spent 4 years studying and working there, and the place holds many fond memories. As the years passed, my memories of the place faded and had become romanticized.

I spent two days exploring all the old haunts – the Indian takeaway that I used to frequent, the cafĂ© where I usually had my breakfast, the local newsagent that I used to visit to check whether the latest issue of Empire had arrived. Everything seemed so familiar and yet so remote.

I found out to my horror that they were tearing down the student hall that I stayed in for two years.

And the newsagent was taken over by the bookstore chain Easons. The Indian takeaway, however, had survived the times, as did the video rental shop next to it.

I also went around the university, which remained very much as it was before, except the computer lab was replaced with a five storey building.

As I checked places off my list, I was surprised at how despondent I felt. I then realized why – without the people whom I had spent the good times with, Belfast was just another familiar city. I had fond memories of the place because of the people I had spent time there with, not so much the place itself, although Northern Ireland is still as beautiful as ever (and the weather as dull as ever).

The visit brought some closure to me, helping to put an end to the longing I felt for the place since I got back to Malaysia. Over the years, I plotted ways to go back to UK and live there, but never took the courage to do so.

I realized that the things that I should cherish the most are not physical, but all the people whom I love and care about. As long as these people are near, that’s where I belong, and that’s where I call home.



Monday, August 08, 2005

Faceless People?

The haunting, lilting chorus rose through the hall. I stared at the group in front that was singing acapella, five guys and five ladies.

Concert at KLCC? You wouldn't have guessed - they're Myanmarese who joined my church. As I sat there awestruck, it dawned upon me that these are the same people that I tend to meet daily, in coffee shops, by the construction areas, working and serving us.

We give them so little thought that we probably treated them as faceless robots, not human like us. At that moment as I sat there listening to them singing about their home, their heritage, it dawned on me that the guy who puts kopi 'o' on my table at the SS2 coffeeshop has a family, has feelings, has a heritage that we couldn't even imagine. They are not dumb people, they just have problems with our language.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Public Transport In Klang Valley

Since the abolishment of mini buses in 1998, public transport in Klang Valley basically sucks. Despite the hapless efforts of the late Tan Sri Yahya to make things better through his Intrakota buses, everything went downhill from that point onwards.

Having just got back from London on a job assignment, the contrast could not have been greater. Sure, they get delays galore (no thanks to Al-Qaeda), but basically the system works, i.e. carry a person from any point in London to another point in London. And I do mean any point, if you don’t believe me, try this : journeyplanner.tfl.gov.uk

The government has recently completed the Klang Valley Integrated Public Transport Plan, but its implementation seems to be years away. Meanwhile, as I write this (1st August 2005) the good ol’ govt has just increased petrol prices by another 10 sen. Granted, the rich folks in their SUV’s won’t care too much, and neither will the motorcyclists, where a full tank is RM 4. It’s the middle classes whose situation is becoming increasingly untenable.

Here’s some suggestions for the govt to consider:

i. Use the savings from the petrol increase to immediately purchase another 1500 buses. We have a population of around 3 million and we only have about 500 buses, for goodness sake! At peak hour, that’s going to carry about 30,000 people, at most. Last I heard, Rapid KL is being forced to spend their limited funds to repair another 500 buses, an unacceptable state of affairs considering we are paying folks billions to build navy patrol vessels.

ii. Immediately fix more bus lanes so that the buses run smoothly. And get the buses to avoid jammed areas.

iii. Reintroduce mini buses for all the suburbs around KL. Too many aunties driving around in their mpv’s running their errands only makes things worse.

iv. Slap an annual surcharge on all vehicles travelling in the klang valley, and use the funds to subsidize the buses.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Close Encounters With Malaysian Customer Service - Other Side Of The Coin

Okay, I thought I'll give credit where credit's due and celebrate, hey, great customer service in Malaysia! (yes, there is such a thing)

There's a bank in Malaysia where if you get a number that's 100 away from your turn, you still get served in half an hour.

There's a bank in Malaysia where if you used the wrong form, they will happily fill up the correct one for you instead of giving you a sour face and asking you to requeue.

There's a bank in Malaysia where opening an account takes less than 30 minutes, including sorting out your ATM card and internet banking.

There's a bank in Malaysia where if their customer service line is busy, they offer to call you back on the number you just called. (how come no one else thought of this? I was once put on hold for 40 minutes by a telco!)

There's a bank in Malaysia where they DO NOT HAVE normal banking counters on the first floor (inconveniencing pensioners, pregnant ladies and the like) because their priority banking counters are on the ground floor.

Step up and be recognised, Public Bank!

I'm a recent customer and I must admit I'm impressed :)

Close Encounters With Malaysian Customer Service

Whenever I encounter "customer service" in Malaysia, I always try to tell myself that at the other end is just another guy trying to make a living, so don't take it too hard on that person.

But something happened to me recently that took the cake for bad customer service.

A courier company, which shall remain unnamed, tried to deliver a package to me when I was away. After arranging for it to be resent on a Saturday, I decided to pick up the package myself as I needed to send my wife to a doctor.

The card says their office hour starts at 9 am, so 9.05 am, I called and ......... got a message that all their agents are busy. Hmmm, must be some big hot shot courier company, I thought. After several tries, the call got picked up by a lady who said, no, she's not the customer service agent, all the agents are at the mamak stall having breakfast! Okay lah, give her credit for being honest.

Umpteen tries again later, the same lady picked up, and agreed to take a message that I will pick up the package. 11 am, got a call from them, saying sorry, they didn't catch me at home (??!!) I explained to them that I spoke to someone earlier about own pickup. Fine, the guy said, but you have to come after 1 pm, when the delivery guy comes back.

1.30 pm, courier company office. No customer service counter in sight, just a few guys lounging around with their smokes. A girl came up to me and asked me what I wanted. Then she told me that the manager locked up all the packages at 1 pm and no one could open them because he's on his way to Kuching for a meeting!!

I decided to rant and rave. Girl keeps apologizing, saying there must have been some miscommunication (understatement, my dear). Suddenly, after 5 minutes, she decided to open the manager's office. And there, lying on his desk, was my package.

More apologies from the girl. Have to give her credit for managing to stay cool.

Well, the Malaysian customer service strikes again.

Friday, June 10, 2005

A Tale Of Two Highways

Early morning. Typical rush hour jam, people muttering curses under their breath, blood pressure rising, radio traffic report telling you what you ALREADY know, time to call your boss and inform you'll be late AGAIN.....

Early morning. Serenity. Birds chirping, cars hardly seen.


Believe it or not, the above describes two highways in the Klang Valley at the EXACT same time of the day, morning rush hour. So, what''s wrong with this picture?

Money, that's what. Money that must be repaid to the guys who built the highway, thats what.

The highways in question? Well, there's actually two sets of them - Sprint highway and Penchala link, Federal highway and New Pantai Expressway.

Penchala' s charging RM 2 one way, NPE's RM 1.60 + RM 1.60 (if you wanna join back Federal highway again). No prizes for guessing which highways are jammed up.

The obvious next question is, why don't they lower the toll? Coz the gomen's compensating them, based on some consultant's ASSUMPTION of the traffic volume and definition of reasonable toll charge.

Now, here's an idea for everyone to chew on ...... since both the companies that built the highways are public listed, how about the gomen buying them over with our hard earned EPF funds and THEN lowering the tolls?

Maybe, the correct question should be - why is it NOT being done? No prizes for guessing this one .......

When I Get My Streamyx .....

Yay, TM is finally cabling up my part of the taman, I'm gonna get both my phone line AND Streamyx soon.

My wife often wondered why I need that much bandwidth for, and that set me thinking - WHAT WOULD I DO WHEN I GET MY STREAMYX ?? So, here goes:

  • download loads of illegal songs and movies (well, this one's a given)
  • watch streaming news from CNN, etc (hey, isn't that what Astro's for?)
  • download open source software (don't have to pay uncle Bill)
  • download software patches for Windows
  • download research stuff for work and, ahem, pleasure
  • blog more often (really? how come it hasn't updated it since the last millenium?)
  • use Skype (definitely cheaper than whatever deal the telcos can offer)
  • download trailers (must be up to date with the latest upcoming movies)
  • do my surfing in half the time, or double my surfing in the same amount of time
  • errmm, download more songs and movies?

Well, I guess we all know what REAL purpose of getting Streamyx is, then.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Down The Aisle

A dear friend got married recently.

She, plus a whole bunch of us were quite close some years back, but due to career advances and marriage, we all slowly drifted apart.

Back then, she was the blur queen, while I was the blur king, and friends used to play tricks on us to see which one was more blur.

Despite her blurness, my friend has a tender heart and a brave spirit. She endured the ups and downs that life dealt her with stoic patience.

She has met a very nice man, someone who understands her soul. I am sure they will have many happy journeys ahead.

Well, congratulations, blur queen. My gift to you is only three words - acceptance, commitment, patience.

Monday, May 16, 2005

About the title

Like a long lonely stream
I keep runnin' towards a dream
Movin' on, movin' on
Like a branch on a tree I keep reachin' to be free
Movin' on, movin' on

The title of this blog came from the theme song of a youth camp many years ago, originally of Stevie Wonder. At age 16, we were all wondering where we were heading. Quite a number of us, in fact, left for overseas a year later.

Like an old dusty road
I get weary from the load
Movin' on, movin' on
Like this tired troubled earth I've been rollin' since my birth
Movin' on, movin' on

Many years later, somehow a lot of us felt trapped where we were. Oh, for sure we led comfortable lives, having family and a good job to boot. But, somehow, for some of us, something was missing....

There's a place in the sun
Where there's hope for ev'ryone
Where my poor restless heart's gotta run
There's a place in the sun And before my life is done
Got to find me a place in the sun

I wonder how many of us have really found our place in the sun.....

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