Thursday, May 28, 2009

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

I couldn't help but notice this the moment I picked up today's edition of The Borneo Post. Here's the front-page headline that greeted me in big bold letters when I read the local paper today:

Watch your tongue, hubby: Telling your wife she is not pretty will be an offence

That sure catches your attention doesn't it, especially if you're male and you're married (and I suppose, even if you're female or you're not married!). My first reaction on reading that headline, of course, was: Huh? What's this all about?

Here's the opening explanation:

"A husband telling his wife that she is no longer pretty in an attempt to humiliate her can be classified as an emotional violence offence if ammendments are made to the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) 1994.

That made things slightly clearer but even as I read the rest of the news article, I couldn't help but think of how such an inclusion in the law can be misused and go against the very spirit on why the powers that be deemed it necessary. But, I suppose that would also be true of other laws in the country if you're cunning and resourceful enough. According to the article, the whole idea for the expansion of the definition of domestic violence is to include not only physical abuse, which is visible and therefore easily identifiable, but also emotional, mental and psychological forms - the kinds that are often not as visible and therefore, not as easy to identify.

What drives a person to despair? What triggers someone to hurt another person? What causes people to take their own lives? I think it's the unseen things, the inner workings of the mind that pushes people to do things that they would not normally do. And such people need all the help and support they can get, especially if such mental, emotional and psychological torture is not of their own doing as in the case of domestic violence.

So, I applaud the efforts of the government for looking into increasing the protection of married women against violence at home. I just hope that there will be clear markers within the amendment that will enable it to function effectively.

Love your family, peeps.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Poetic amusement

Tonight's the night
The Red Devils play the Blue and Red,
And while no one quite knows
the kind of scoreline the game will show,
One thing's for sure
my dear footie fan:
That many a person, I assure
Will hurl abuse at that poor referee man

Come tomorrow
many will be bleary eyed,
'Cos fans in the world this side
will be dog-tired and mystified,
For how in the world
Could their team so strong
Be so humbled
by a side not quite on song
 (so they grumble)

So, be wary
my dear footie fan
the wrath of the win-deprived-sleep-deprived
brand of a man
for quick is his temper
and sure is his hand
to point a finger at you
and say, "Just shut up. Can?"

Enjoy the great football game that I'm sure it's going to be between Barcelona and Manchester United tonight. It's not often that you see two champions of the respective domestic leagues slugging it out on the same field for the greater glory that is the UEFA Champions League crown. Just in case you don't know, the match starts at 2.45 am local Malaysian time.

For me, I'll be dozing in my comfortable bed then.

You can tell me the results tomorrow...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Facebook musings

Not too long ago, keeping track of your friends from your primary school and secondary school days was next to impossible. I mean how do you even begin to search out for that long-never-seen friend of yours if you don't even have an inkling where in the world that person is right now?

But, times have changed...oh, boy how times have changed.

The social-networking website phenomenon that is Facebook is radically changing the way we connect to people. Long-lost friends suddenly appear out of nowhere, and before you even realise it, a friend you know is a friend of a friend of a friend. Then you begin to realise how small this world actually is. Sure, great distances may separate physically separate you and your long lost buddies, but in cyberspace, that's nothing. Your friends are only a poke away!

I'm no Facebook nut, but I find it a usefool tool for looking for people whom I've lost contact with, and vice versa. Through it I've come into contact with people whom I've not met for over 20 years! People who I thought I'd never ever meet ever again; people who I've basically stored in the "Perry's Past Friends Box".

Like I said in my previous post, technology never ceases to amaze me.

Yet, despite all its wonderful bells and whistles, technology is only as great as the people who created it. And there lies the problem. People are flawed, and so technology can only be that way as well - flawed.

How else do you explain the reason for the mighty Facebook to lump people from all parts of Wales under England? Facebook says it was due to a 'bug', which is a pretty convenient way of saying that it was a technical glitch, and error in the programming code, in short, it's all the computer's fault.

But, I suspect the 'bug' was faulty human beings in the first place.

You can read the whole story about this 'error' and people's reaction to it at the BBC website here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

What's in a name

This is one has been sitting on the boiler for some time but I thought this is a good time as any to talk about it.

I'm not sure what it is about Sabah and building naming, but there seems to be a tremendous dearth of creativity among the developers here. Originality is something I find sorely lacking here.

Take for example this building called the KK Times Square. You'll find a building with a similar name in Kuala Lumpur, the Berjaya Times Square. We will also have a Megamall here (though it's still in progress), just like the more illustrious one in KL as well. And Putrajaya? Well, we have a Putera Jaya here. We even have a Bandar Utama (of course, that's in Sandakan...but still)!

But, the lack of creativity doesn't just stop at names of places. It extends to road names as well. Take for example this hilarious excuse for a road name - Muntahan ('vomit' in English). Well, a road with a name like that is rather sad, but imagine having a few of them (Muntahan 1, Muntahan 2, Muntahan 3, etc.). Sounds like a really bad series of sequels to an equally terrible horror flick.

And the un-originality (is there even such a word?) of the road naming doesn't end there. There's a district in Sabah called Penampang, and one of it's major towns is called Donggongon. And guess what the name of the road that runs through this town is called? The 'Road in front of Donggongon Town'. Exact words, no kidding! And we also have the 'Access Road to Family Planning Centre', which leads you to (yep, you guessed it!) the Family Planning Centre.

With all these howlers for road names, I hope someone high up in the Public Works Department will elect somebody with at least a minute spark of creativity to helm the road naming committee, so that we'd get at least more 'normal' names.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Just chillin' tunes

You've heard of youtube, right? It's that ever popular website where people from just about every corner of the globe share videos of either themselves or other people or of some other interesting bits. So, I was browsing youtube yesterday, and you know the home page where it shows you what people are watching at the moment, right? I saw this thumbnail of this person called Zee Avi (she goes under the handle KokoKaina), and it seemed to have been viewed quite a number of times. So, out of curiosity, I clicked and what greeted me was this sweet-looking girl playing her guitar. Nothing extraordinary right? I mean, you'll get lots of sweet-looking girls toting their guitars on youtube.

But, once she started playing and singing - I was fascinated. Her playing style is extremely simple and her music is very laidback. It's the kind of music that you can just listen to on a lazy afternoon, doing absolutely nothing but getting comfortable on your favourite piece of furniture. But, that's not all. Her voice is quite good. Hers is not like those Mariah Carey-esque strong, high vocals, but those quiet, peaceful, come-listen-to-me kind. Almost like Norah Jones.

In one of her videos, she tells how she started posting videos on youtube since 2007 and then one day, she was highlighted on youtube's front page, and was discovered by a recording studio in LA. And so, she's just recorded her first album and it has just been released in the US. I read that it's available at the ITune's store as well.

But, the most interesting bit is another thing I learned about her. She's Malaysian, born in Miri, Sarawak.

So, if you're looking for some relaxing music to listen to, in exchange for all the guitar-crunching, drum-beating that you listen to daily on your music player, try listening to Zee Avi on youtube and see if you agree with me whether she's one talented girl.


The wonders of technology.

It just keeps reminding me every now and again how amazing are the myriad of technological stuff we surround ourselves with every day. Take for example the hand phone. I remember the time in the not too distant past when hand phones were still not very common, and about the only common variety was the one where you had to carry a box-like base which served as both the battery and the transmitter. My dad had one and on more than a few occasions I had the "privilege" to carry it, and boy, compared to the mobile phones we get today, those things weighed as much as a tank!

The tank

Then, came that tank of a phone evolutionised. It shrunk. Still a whole lot chunkier, and boxier than the phones of today, these phones were never less much much more lighter and mobile. I used to call them the "water-bottle" mobile phones. I don't remember now what gave me the idea to give them that name, but that's how I knew them. My dad had one, and I think the only manufacturer of such devices was Motorola. By all means, these things were tough and solid. I think even if a car went over them, they'd still be intact!

Do you still remember one of these? It was all the rage then!

But, nowadays, mobile phones are all about sleekness, rounded edges, simplicity in design, and killer functionality. No more is a hand phone just a means for communicating. I think we've passed that threshold a long time ago. Now, your average phone is a picture taking-music playing-life organising-alarm ringing-movie playing-digital file storing-web surfing-message sending-game playing little piece of wonder. And that's just your mid-range phone. The high-end ones, I'm told, are even more spectacular.

But I like having devices that are meant for what they do best. Having all the other extras a cool. And sometimes I get a bit green with envy when I look at all the cool phones that my friends (and even my students!) have. But I figure, I wouldn't use all those extra functionality very often, and so it wouldn't justify the extra cost in getting such phones. So I'm pretty contented with the one I have currently - a sub RM100 phone. It does what it's supposed to do pretty decently - to call and send sms-es.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

And then it came

What a relief! What a blessing! What a joy!

I had braced myself to endure the really dry spell till at least the month of August before there was even an iota of hope for rain. But, apparently God had different plans.

Three days ago, I heard the pitter-patter of raindrops on my roof. What started out as a slow tapping eventually built up to an incessant drum roll. It was raining, really really raining! And it continued till evening. And the next day, it rained again during the day and at night as well. And it rained today as well! And the whole place is just so cool!

After church this morning, the three of us went for lunch in town with several church members. After lunch, a few of us couldn't help but notice that we were not sweaty at all, even though we were sitting under a marquee-like thing which, under usual circumstances, would have been quite warm.

So, the weather's absolutely lovely right now, especially after weeks of bearing the scorching heat.

I'm cool. Hope you're cool, too!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The circus

And so the circus that is the Perak political situation continues.

Yesterday, the High Court ruled that the Barisan Nasional government that is currently in power was void as the means of dissolution of the previous opposition government went against the state constitution. The ruling also required that the current state assembly members who formed the government relinquish their positions immediately and vacate their offices. Many saw this as a triumph of the law.

Yet, just this afternoon I received an sms from a friend of mine who is from Perak saying that the Court of Appeal has granted a stay of execution. That basically means that the current people in office get to stay until a further verdict is issued concerning the High Court ruling. I have just confirmed this from The Star web page.

And who would have thought how quickly the appeal would have been granted. I'm no judge or lawyer, but I would have thought that it would have taken at least a few weeks. But from what I gather, the appeal was submitted at 9.30 am just today, and granted before even lunch time was over. That's within 24 hours of the High Court ruling. Amazing speed.

So, yes, it's another twist in the political drama that is unfolding in Perak.

And finally, I can't understand why the whole Perak State Assembly can't just be dissolved and allow fresh elections to take place. It seems the most efficient and logical way of solving this political impasse but it's not being done. Why?

Only reasons I can think of are negative ones: 1) somebody has a personal agenda to fulfill in this whole thing, and 2) someone is just afraid of losing if elections are called.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sabah Fest 2009 - A Night of Colours Part 2

Okay, finally I'm posting the follow up to my previous post about Sabah Fest 2009. It's been exactly a week ago since this event. But, it doesn't matter because I can still remember quite vividly what happened. Yes, I know. The show made such a strong positive impression on me! :)

Anyhow, after mulling about outside for quite some time, the show finally started at 8 pm. So everyone was ushered inside, and everyone was treated to the rather mysterious opening video about the Bobohizan (priestess) and their rituals concerning the rice spirit. The opening was excellently done, and that goes for the rest of the evening as well.

I was really impressed by the quality of all the presentations. The music, the lighting, the costumes, the dancing all made for a sharp performance. Various ethnic groups presented their traditional dance, but I thought the most eye-catching and interesting was the Rungus dance - the Mongigol Sumundai. It simply had me entranced!

I suppose many people would be more impressed with the now-really-famous Magunatip, but I guess I've seen it way too many times to be awed by it anymore. But, the Mongigol Sumundai, well, I was attracted to the movements and just the way the men, especially, were dancing - it was really unique. A man led a line of ladies in the dance, and they basically zig-zagged this way and that on stage. Apparently, the whole line is supposed to represent a dragon, with the man being the head, and the women the body of the dragon.

Interesting, eh?

It was a thoroughly enjoyable one-hour plus of performance. I guess what made it all the more better was that you could see that the performers were enjoying themselves as well. So, I guess that made us enjoy watching them as well. At the end of the whole thing, the floor was open to all in attendance to joing the performers in a dance, and I'd say many people really had a blast letting their hair down!

So, if you happen to be in Sabah around this time next year, make sure you catch this show! And if your haven't yet done so, what better excuse to visit Sabah!

Some more photos taken of the night. Hope you enjoy them.

Dusun women - part of the opening act for the night

The Suluk dance

A dance called the Pangalai Agung of the Suluk people

Song presentation using the gambus (a lute)

Rungus women performing their dance the Mongigol Sumundai

Raised-arm shot of the same women above

How can you not be enchanted when the performers smile like that?

The Magunatip of the Murut people

Children were also involved. This was the closing performance.

To wrap it all up, a photo of the beauties of the night in their wonderful costumes.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Night of Colours: Sabah Fest 2009 - Part 1

This post was actually due four days ago. But, even so, I'm going to have to break this into two parts as I don't have a lot of time to write at thei moment. So, wait for the continuation, ya?

Last Saturday, I attended the opening of Sabah Fest 2009 at the Sutera Harbour Resort. It was a thoroughly enjoyable night. I was sans my wife and Adelle as my wife thought that it'd be a bit too late for Adelle. Too bad, since I was sure that both Adelle and my wife would have enjoyed the whole show. Just in case you didn't know, Sabah Fest is an annual affair and it's the event to witness and experience what Sabah is all about. It's basically a showcase of Sabah's very colourful and numerous unique ethnic groups: their costumes, their culture and their dances.

Tickets were sold for RM30 each, but I got in for free! Yippee! Special thanks to Melissa Leong of the Sabah Tourism Board for putting me down under the media and giving me a free pass for the evening! Amazing, huh? I must admit I was kinda proud to wear that pink media tag round my neck. I popped into the Tourism Office in the morning to get the tag, and I arrived that evening at around 7pm. I thought I was already late as the tag said that the even started at 7 pm, but when I arrived, people were still milling around, and all the performers were still outside in the foyer standing and welcoming people. There was already a sizeable crowd then, and since I had time to kill, I went around snapping pictures of things that interested me.

Around the foyer, there were stalls selling various ethnic products as well as demonstrations in native handicraft making. Interesting stuff! I was totally drawn to all the wonderful colours, not just of the crafts but also the costumes of the various ethnic groups. So, to end this rather short post, here are some photos to share of the moments before the show.

Detail of the costume of a Rungus woman

Rungus man and woman in their resplendent costumes

Handicraft making by one of the exhibitors at the event

Another exhibitor: complete concentration in doing his craft

Fine craftsmanship: making a miniature boat

Making a traditional hat (sorry, don't know the name!)

Some of the colourfully unique things on display in the various stalls around the foyer

See you in my next post for more pictures and the continuing story!