Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Medical Costs

Was visiting a church member who's suffering from leukemia last week at UMMC, and somehow the conversation turned to the costs of the treatment. The family confided that previously the treatment was at SJMC, but later moved to UMMC due to costs.

Guess how much were the charges at SJMC?

RM 40,000 for the first chemotherapy session and RM 100,000 for the second one.


If that's not motivation to get medical insurance, I don't know what is.

And don't expect that your company can cover you. Except for big companies like banks, no one's gonna give unlimited medical coverage.

So, while it may seem like an additional burden in these days of higher petrol and electricity prices, a medical insurance policy can be a life saver.

And no, I've not signed up to be an insurance agent :)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Taken For Granted

Since young, I've observed a love hate relationship between the urban folks in Sarawak and the political establishment.

Once in a while, things boil over and one or two seats in the Sarawak Assembly would end up in the DAP's hands, albeit with a small majority.

But Saturday, something seems to have tipped over for them, for they sent not one, not two but nine seats to the opposition in the state elections.

The size of the majority in those seats indicate that it is no fluke. It shows that the people are angry. Very angry.

Angry at years of neglect. Angry at years of their problems falling on deaf ears (land lease issues in Sibu seemed to drag on and on). Angry at years of empty promises. Angry at not getting their fair share (Sarawak only receives 5% of oil royalties collected, the rest goes to the federal coffers). Angry at being taken for granted.

For the good people of Sarawak worked hard and eked out a living with their own bare hands. All they asked for are good roads. Proper infrastructure. A fair share of the state's prosperity.

But apparently all that were too much to ask. And now the people have spoken. Loudly.

I salute their courage. For make no mistake, there will be recriminations.

But my sincere hope and wish is that the powers that be can see beyond the shallow issues, and look deep into the heart of these people. And hear what they are saying.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Credit Card

I paid my credit bill this month. Nothing special in that, except for the fact its the first time in 10 years that I do not have any outstanding balances on any of the cards that I own.

When I first accepted the offer of a Citibank telesales girl in 1996, little did I realize that it'll be another 10 years before I could claim myself debt free, car and housing loans aside.

The first month itself, I owed about 2000 bucks, and things went downhill since. Somehow many things happened along the way that conspired to make sure that I kept a balance.

First I owed large sums of money due to making cash advances to pay stock market losses during the Asian economic crisis. I then overspent on various vices for a few years before deciding to clean up my act when I met my wife .

When we got married four years ago, we made steady progress in paying the debt down, before house moving again forced us to pile up.

Each time when the end seemed near, something always seem to crop up and we left a balance.

We did have some other savings, but the card debt was something we wanted to get rid off using our monthly cashflow.

Finally, last month, by divine providence some extra cash came unexpectedly, and now, I'm finally able to say, truly, yes, its paid. Phew.

My good friend Egg never had a credit card and was planning to finally get one a few months ago. To him, my sincere advice is - make sure you pay it off every month! If you leave it hanging once, it'll hang on to you like a leech. I've been there :)

Monday, May 08, 2006

The CSI Effect

Was reading The Star comics this morning, and was surprised to find not one, but two cartoons alluding to CSI (on was BC, the other Hi and Lois).

This led me to an article on CNN, about how the popular series has led to juries having unrealistic expectations in terms forensic proof. A lot of people have forgotten that it is fact possible to convict someone based on circumstancial evidence and are instead demanding hard physical evidence.

Even in Malaysia there were some grumblings about how the local police is sorely lacking in the know how of collecting and analysing forensic evidence. The frustration is especially great for the relatives of victims of violent crimes such as rape and murder, where some such cases remain open for years due to lack of leads.

While it is exhilarating to see the good guys in CSI use their ingenuity to infer facts from the flimsiest of items, the more probable reality is a lot of detective grunt work, with some help from forensics.

In an ideal world, we should all be so lucky to have a bunch of dedicated scientists with all possible resources at their disposal to help us find those who caused us grief and sleepless nights.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Rest In Peace, FatAl

FatAl passed away on last Friday morning. I heard the news from his auntie who happened to be my HR manager at my new company.

I last saw him a month ago. He was very thin then, and the lump on his head has grown to the size of a tennis ball. He looked really weak. The family had decided to try traditional medicine from a Chinese doctor in Singapore.

Although I only knew him for 9 months, we became friends from the time we used to spend in the car when we car-pooled from Nov to Dec last year. I knew he desperately wanted to be well again for the sake of his family, and up until March he was still optimistic of his chances.

FatAl is the fourth friend I knew who passed away from cancer in the last 10 years. He was 41.

We all know that life is precious and our time here on earth is precious, but do we really use that knowledge to change the way we look at our lives.

When we get very annoyed with the rude driver who cut us off, do we stop and tell ourselves its not worth it.

Do we remember to express our love and appreciation to those who mean the most to us every single day.

Do we forgive those who have hurt us instead of continuing to carry bitterness in our heart.

Do we get too wrapped up in our own problems and not appreciate what we have in front of us.

Got a Sony Ericsson J300i (don't laugh!)

Went to Sg Wang over the weekend to get a new phone and ended up with a Sony Ericsson J300i :)

I take back what I said about Nokia previously, they also sported an impressive array of models, from the el-cheapo 1600 to the ultra cool N series. In fact, all the major manufacturers had very, very impressive line-ups. Which goes to show how out of date I was :P Although I've noticed the newer phones on and off, last Sunday was the first time I had a look at the new models up close. And boy, do they impress.

First off, the screens for almost all except the most basic models are hi-res and very easy on the eye. Second, the cameras for the newer models are not just a curio to impress anymore. They actually take very clear pictures (those with 2 mp cameras and above). And I'm amazed at the various shapes and sizes the phones came in.

Tempted as I was (in fact, VERY, VERY tempted) to get an O2 mini or Dopod 818 Pro, I just couldn't justify to my other half why I need a 2-in-1 device, apart from the convenience factor. It was even harder to justify getting a middle of the range device with camera. So, I opted for something which had similar functions as my Nokia 3530.

So having heard good comments about the J300i, I plonked down RM 320 of my hard earned cash for it.

The Dallab DX8 or the Dopod 818 Pro will have to wait another year :P

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