Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Top Changes

2007 has been a dramatic year. At least in the political scene, quite a number of major political figures have been changed or elected officially. Here are some that I know:

16th May 2007 - Nicolas Sarkozy succeeded Jacques Chirac as the 23rd President of French Republic and assumed office on the said date.

20th May 2007 - Jose Ramos Horta succeeded Xanana Gusmao (current Prime Minister) as the 2nd President of East Timor.

15th June 2007 - Salam Fayyad was appointed the 6th Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, succeeding Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas.

27th June 2007 - James Gordon Brown succeeded Tony Blair (Anthony Charles Lynton Blair) as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom as well as Leader of the Labour Party (on 24th June 2007).

15th July 2007 - Shimon Peres succeeded Moshe Katsav as the 9th President of the State of Israel.

8th August 2007 - Xanana Gusmao succeeded Estanislau da Silva as the 4th Prime Minister of East Timor.

14th September 2007 - Viktor Zubkov succeeded Mikhail Fradkov as the Prime Minister of Russia.

26th September 2007 - The 90th Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe resigned abruptly on 12th September 2007 after less than one year in office. He was then replaced by Yasuo Fukuda.

16th November 2007 - Muhammad Mian Soomro succeeded Shaukat Aziz as the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

25th November 2007 - Nader al-Dahabi succeeded Marouf al-Bakhit as the Prime Minister of Jordan.

3rd December 2007 - Kevin Rudd succeeded John Howard as the 26th Prime Minister of Australia in the 2007 Federal Election on 24th Nov 2007.

10th December 2007 - Cristina Fernández de Kirchner succeeded her former-president husband Néstor Carlos Kirchner Ostoić in the October 2007 General Election in Argentina.

20 December 2007 - Lee Myung-Bak was elected as the President of South Korea, succeeding Roh Moo-Hyun and will assume office on 25th Feb 2008.

In the mean time, Pakistan will hold their election in January 2008 and we can expect Vladmir Putin’s second term as President of Russian Federation will expire in May 2008. Also, US Presidential Election of 2008 will be held on 4 Nov 2008.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Gift

Dear Santa:

This year’s Christmas will be my second meaningful Christmas. Though I didn’t quite celebrate it last year, but I think being at home will be the best gift for every Christmas, including and especially this year’s.

There was this Pre-Worlds Debate Tournament held in Nanyang Technology University in Singapore. We’d received their invitation around October and (myself specifically)decided to attend it since then, despite my no-experience-in-leading-a-debate-team-to-neighbour-country-ness, and directionless-ness, with my passport status still questionable.

The tournament was happening on 22nd – 23rd Dec 2007, the weekends before Christmas. Though we can’t expect a white Christmas in Singapore, but I believe it’ll be quite an experience for us in the debating team. Another international debating tournament and we can spend our time visiting Singapore during Christmas.

Some personal reasons why I wanted to go there so badly is not only because it’ll be a great chance for me to learn different debating styles and watch some higher level debates, but it’s also some diplomatic reasons.

I’ve met some debaters from NTU during my Australs this July. They are friendly and good debaters, too. At least we remember each other’s name and we still keep in touch on Facebook after Australs. I get to know this tournament through Neha. Hence, this was my diplomatic and friendship part of the reason to go there.

Since we are not going for Worlds in Assumption University in Thailand due to some bureaucracy mistakes , I hope at least I can go for this Pre-Worlds during my holiday, to keep myself from rusted. Without further doubt, I posted the invitation letter on our yahoogroup and waited for people to join me in this.

At first, I told NTU committee that we’ll be sending 2 teams and 1 adjuds there. Later, as more and more people wanted to go, I inform NTU again that we’ll be sending 4 teams and 3 adjuds. It was double the amount. I felt like giving them a high hope that we’re so supportive of their tournament. And the number kept increasing – even after the registration date and we have to pay extra for the late-registered names. All these became like a false hope to them when finally UKM decided not to give us money for it.

To cut the story short, my parents were quite unhappy when I insisted to go alone. I felt the responsibility to go because UKM team which were suppose to be consisted of 5 teams and 4 adjuds had shrinked to …none? I thought at least we have to send a representative. However, I decided to pull out last minute when I decided it won’t do me any good to go there and face the odds alone, as my return ticket was not yet guaranteed and I might end up no place to stay because it’s near Christmas. I gave up and I thought I heard a voice inside me said I’ve made the right decision.

I spent the rest of my holiday at home, reading Sophie Kinsella (Undomestic Godness), my all time favourite author for feminine fiction now, playing online Scrambles at Facebook (Gosh, I totally hooked on it!) and watching TV to a lesser extent.

I have no mood to update my blog because I wasn’t quite in the mood to talk about my disappointment regarding this NTU issue. Now I understand how the Worlds issue mentioned above has hit Jun Hoe badly and (correct me if I’m wrong) demotivated him. The bad news of no funding from UKM has hit my severely and I felt all my anticipation and preparation were wasted. It thoroughly threw me down from the mountain of hope and crushed my spirit for debate. At that instant I really lost hope in UKM and future debate tournaments. I doubt if they will continue to support us for coming tournaments. I doubt if we will continue to fight for UKM reputation as hard as we did in previous tournaments. I doubt if the debating team has the same high spirit for debate as we used to.

Come to think of it now, again, I can see things happened for a reason. If not because of unsupportive-ness from UKM (yet, I’m still sooo not going to thank them for this), I wouldn’t spend my Christmas at home. I wouldn’t have time to laze at home and finished my Sophie Kinsella my sister bought me and my friend, Sheue Fen brought me from UK. I don’t have debate trainings up till mid night and it was an enjoyable read – my real holiday. And the most important part is: I’m at home with my family =)

With this, I pray that my gift this year is to see everyone have a Blessed, Merry Christmas. I thank God for all the decisions He guided me to make and I’ll always trust God to lead me to the correct path. Whenever you have doubt or indecisive, ask God! Tell Him your problem and listen to Him, He’ll show you to way to life. This time, I’ve never felt so peaceful in my heart after the decision - to decide between debate or not debate. It’s my first time to give up debate. And I’ve made a right choice by listening to God.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Palestinian Refugee

Have you ever wonder where would you be if your home land happens to be destroyed by armies of other nations?

Most Malaysian never think of this problem, which is too far a problem for us. Not many of us know that refugees live in refugee camps, not any old-folks home or orphan shelter where unloved persons are sent there to be looked after. Refugee camps are those camps we see in movies like Blood Diamond, made of tents, not bricks, and have very limited supply of daily necessity or hygene standard.

Most of us never want to understand the history behind all these refugees. It all happened around 1947. Israel announced independence on 14th May 1948 but was attacked by its neighbouring Arabic countries on the next day. Of course, they retaliated back and with the help of US and other big power, they won the war and created a lot of Palestinian refugees, most of them Arabs. Another incident was the 1967 six-days war. It, too, created quite a number of refugees.

I felt sorry for how the Jews were treated back then, when the Arabs were the one who kept rejecting any partition plan suggested by British or United Nation to create a Jewish state and an Arabic state to separate these two races to keep them from killing each other. Jews were always the one being oppressed worldwide (during Roman empire, Ottoman empire, British ruling, Holocaust in Europe and other countries and etc) and killed, and hence migrating here and there before they decided to come back to their holy land in Israel.

However, now we can see that US and UN has recognised the sovreignty of Israel but not Palestine and their economy condition is a lot better than their counterpart: The former's GDP is $170b and Palestine's is at $5.55b according to Wikipedia. Jews condition have been improved but 7.2 milliom Palestinian refugees are still living in camps today.

Those Palestinian refugees who were present during the conflicts back then were very young. They might not even know why they fled their home 60 years ago. They might only remember the day when they wake up and find the adults busy packing some belongings and clutched their hand to join a larger crowd heading to don't-know-where. They might remember the long walk under the hot sun, with bombs destrying their home and they never have the heart to turn back and look at the mess - their home are burnt down yet they couldn't do anything to save them. They might thought they'll leave for a while then they'll be able to come back again. 60 years later, they are still waiting.

Christians will say : support the Israelis! Muslim will say : support the Palestinians! However, as a Christian myself, I think I just wanted to support those being oppressed.

Pictures will tell you the impossible condition for the camps to continue to support the swelling number of refugees. Statistics will tell you the money we need to pump in to support the growing number of refugees - their medical condition, their education, water supply and etc. But with your heart, it will tell you the pain these refugees went through.

Some of them still hold the keys to their house. All they want is just to go back to that piece of land they call home and have a life. They might not know the key no longer serves a purpose because the building might not be there anymore. Yet, it's the sense of belonging that keep them holding on to their Right of Return.

We are living in our comfort zone for too long and we have found a way to keep ourselves away from the undesirable scene in a refugee camp. We are reluctant to understand how a refugee feels as a person belongs to nowhere. They don't have the past as most of them are the descendants of the direct victims; they don't have the future either as the Roadmap to peace talk are still progressing at a very slow pace. They only have the present.

And we have the present, too. It all started with understanding and from there, we can go a long way to relieve a soul.

Are you willing to help? Click here to read more.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Coffee Addiction Test

So, I'm not really a coffee addict, you see.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Same old, same Old

Met up with old schoolmates this evening. It was a planned gathering and everything went well.

I met up with my best friend since high school, Say Li, first, as planned. We have more things to share and since we've been catching up with each other as we meet on MSN previously, it was easier for us to catch up. We then watched The Golden Compass after we left Starbucks. The movie was alright - the plot, the acting, the presentation, the sound effect and such. Yet it ended with us hanging with the conclusion. Crap, so there is come back of it? This movie was less than 2 hours and I wasn't very happy about this. I was the one suggested to watch this movie at the first place alright. However, how was I suppose to know the story line seemed too simple? It was creative, yet I wasn't satisfied.

Anyway, then had Pizza with her in Pizza Hut and showed her some Australs photo before heading Pelita at Autocity to meet up with other friends. Also present that night was Siang Chun (who came to pick us up from Penang Megamall), Sin Yee, Seen Sze, Pei Aun, Koh Ying and her boy friend Wei Bing who joined us later, Hong Hai, and Hui Sin. We chatted and shared whatever we felt like. It's not often for us to meet up, especially Seen Sze who has very pack and weird schedule from the most of us. Anyway, everyone of their presence made the gathering more meaningful than without.

It was a great day out and hope to see them again real soon.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My Parents' 25th Marriage Anniversarry

It's been 25 years my parents were married. For all these years they haven't have the chance to celebrate it, can you believe it?

But this year, when all their children are grown up and sent to study elsewhere, then only they have time to celebrate it. My mum said they only manage to remember it on the first anniversarry yet they didn't get to celebrate it. After that my elder sister was born and since then, they were too busy to celebrate their wedding anniversarry.

How is it like to have a 25 years of marriage? A lot of husbands and wives will have different views from my parents', as every family is different and every couple has different story.

My parents used to quarrel with each other, occasionally. My parents used to travel with each other and bring us along for holidays. My father sometimes might forget our birthdays but he remembers to buy flower for my mum during Valentine's Day. My mum often prepares my dad's favourite dish and is a caring wife and mother. They hold hands while shopping for groceries in super market and now they are watching TV together!

What is it so new about husband and wife watching TV together? Well, since my dad is a pure Banana (English educated) and my mum only loves Chinese drama, since my dad loves action movies and my mum finds it meaningless, since my dad loves F1 and football but my mum doesn't watch sports, they rarely have common interest in the sense of TV programmes. Yet, now they are watching a current Chinese drama together - with my dad barely understands the dialougue and tries to catch the progress of the story visually; and when my dad is watching football, my mum's sitting next to him reading newspaper - at least she's there for him.

After 25 years of bringing up children together, sure they've been through a lot of hardships and challenges. Yet, they faced them together and their marriage is getting stronger everyday. I don't see happy ending in my parents' love story - when they are together, everyday is a new day and there's no ending to it!

To my parents: I'm glad to be your daughter and may your marriage continue to blossom for many, many years to come! Thanks for the love and shelter you've provided me, support and advices you've given me and lessons you've taught me. I'm growing into a more mature person and I want to take care of you as how you've taken care of me for the past 21 years. And I love you =)

Oh, we celebrated this special day (5th Dec) in a Japanese restourant, hee hee!

Hair cut with Mum

When is the last time you went to saloon with your mum? Man, I couldn’t remember. And this time, I am sitting right next to my mum and both of us have our hair cut at the same time.

I was thinking of having a hair cut or at least have a few snips at my fringe during this holiday and I happened to checked out this new saloon near my house a day before. The price is in the usual range but well, their deco are quite attractive. Hey, it helps, ok? At least I didn’t get the impression of “argh, old design, old fashion”. If I can afford to pay a little bit more, that means I expect result which is more than ordinary.

If you’ve been following my posts, there was once (in the post Hair Do), you can see that I really take good care of my hair. At least I don’t allow any Tom, Dick or Harry to handle my hair. A saloon’s impression (deco, skill, friendliness and etc) plays an important role in my decision making. I don’t want me to get shock at the result when it’s done and regret later.

And my mum happened to be thinking of having a hair cut, too! So we walked to the saloon in this fine Wednesday afternoon, wondering if it’s a good decision to let an unfamiliar hair dresser to have a go on our image.

Luckily, things turned out just fine. We told them what we had in mind and they also gave their suggestion. When my hair dresser and I finally came into agreement, I knew I can trust them enough by saying: you see how it fits and as long as it looked balance then it’s fine.

OHH, I just have to mention this: my hair dresser was such a cute guy! I wondered what cologne he used, he smelled like fruits yet it’s not too sweet like the usual fruity flavor fragrance. He was quite gentle too and eventually I felt sleepy. Ha! He was cute alright, but what’s the point when I had to remove my glasses for the entire session and I couldn’t see his face from the mirror? Anyway, his skill was satisfying as I had what I expected from him.

The idea of mum-is-sitting-next-to-me lingered all the while, too. I spent less and less time with my mum after Form 5. Now I should treasure more time to spend with my mum and do some girl stuff with her, no? We’ve done some shopping the other day, and I’m looking forward for more.

And one of the best part of outing with my mum is: I’m not paying, hee hee!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Offensive expression

Brought up in a family where “F***”, “S**t” or “A**” are considered as offensive words, I experienced cultural shock as my beloved debating friends say those words in front of me. Though they didn’t mean it to me, but I feel offended the same. It’s rude especially when you’re consciously saying it.

I understand the influence of media could be huge. People eventually take those words as a form of culture as the Westerners are doing it. As much as we’d like to follow their fashion trend or hum the latest pop single on the chart, we tend to assume this is a part of the cool culture we can adapt into our life style. You’ll be deemed nerdy if you are not speaking the “modern” language or deemed narrow-minded if you can’t accept those words in your conversation with others. True, their fashion sense at large is at the edging point, where new, out-of-the-box ideas always fascinate us, as well as their music-makers who love to explore new angle of this art. Yet, it doesn’t mean following what the idols say is good for us.

Some will say: It’s only a word; I’m not using a knife to stab you or cause you any physical harm. However, the point here is not whether one is hurt physically or mentally. It’s the idea of civilization of mankind.

As we’re moving forward to be more civilized in perception and action, new ideas and principles are being explored to bring us to a higher level of understanding of our relationship to the people around us. We’ve become more polite and self-conscious. We are aware of the importance of speaking with wisdom and respect. We acknowledge the role of speeches which is helpful to the others, not otherwise. Using these words with the intention to express the idea other than its original meaning is not going to help us to reach a higher level of communication, which is the center of building relationships and social networking. Not only it does not help us to express ourselves, such usage degrades the language itself.

No point arguing which language is more developed or sophisticated than the others or which is more widely used and accepted globally than the others. The point is, are we actually using language as a communication tool effectively? Nearly 20 years of education, what we learn is not only the academia knowledge for the sake of storing our brain with “something”, but it’s for the sake of nation development and at a larger picture, evolution of mankind. On order for us to reach this common goal, we need to work together, with people of all walks of life. Hence, the effectiveness of communication and ultimate relation skill play a crucial role. Politeness is one of the key factors to maintain a healthy and fruitful relationship with others.

Having said that, are these words too offensive for one to swallow? Some people have been exposed to it before they even learn to say “Mama”. To them, it’s just another term. To some people saying it out loud will bring them a cane at the back. To me, after 21 years of restriction from my parents and community circle around me (my relatives, my neighbours, my friends, my teachers and etc), the habit of using those words will never develop in me as I can suppress it consciously now. Yet, it doesn’t deny the fact that I’m brought up under the same exposure dose of Western movies and hits with my friends who often use those words in their conversation. My perception to them is – they are offensive words used by uncivilized people and it is rude.

And I believe I represent the voice of the generals because you don’t see any printed materials or subtitles using those words as a form of communication with the public. These words are even censored from movies or TV programmes, DJs and VJs never use them on show and etc. It’s obvious that the society doesn’t need this kind of expression in their daily life. They’ve found better way of expression. How about you?

I’ve tried not to wince whenever I heard my friends use those words (I’ve rarely heard someone use those words in my first 19 years of life, can you imagine the trauma I was at when I heard other uni friends use it in front of me?), still, the feeling of uneasiness has never been shielded from me even after long exposure from my debater friends. Even if they want to say: “I’m not saying it to you!” it doesn’t change the point of them being rude at that very moment, in my opinion.

Though I’m not saying that from now on I’m going to stay away from them because of these words, as I still see a lot of beautiful personal characteristics in them, I hope they’ll reduce the usage of such words or at least be more aware and sensitive towards the people within earshot.