Monday, 31 March 2008

More valuable than gold

During our fathers’ days, land is considered very valuable. If you have land, you can convert it into something else which can make you tonnes or money. Alternatively, you can wait for it to appreciate over time and then sell it off at a huge profit. Of course, land is till very much valuable now but is it the most valuable investment there is at the moment?

Fellow blogger
Jamy has been going on and on about how she has bought gold and the price of gold has appreciated 300 times? Or was it more? According to her, investing in gold is a sure-win situation. So Jamy, if you ever return to Malaysia, I guess you can buy us a very nice dinner?

Anyway, I told Jamy that gold is not the most valuable thing there is in this day and age. To me, there is something else which commands much more value. To a certain extent, it even commands power. Sometimes, this valuable ‘thing’ that I am talking about does not even exist in physical form. No, I am not talking about air or water, although these elements are certainly going to be absolutely priceless in time to come.

Do you know who this guy is? His name is Mark Zuckerberg and he is said to be the world’s youngest billionaire, with a net worth of about $1.5b. Although it is just a ‘paper’ net worth, it is still a lot of money. For those who don’t know who this guy is… he is the founder of the current internet addiction…

Facebook is said to be valued at a staggering $15b, based on Microsoft’s valuation. Why is facebook so valuable? Is it because its office happens to be occupying an oil-rich piece of land? Is it because it has tonnes and tonnes of gold? You and I know those are not the answer.

If think facebook’s assets lie in its capability to share applications or allow its users to play games or do the you-poke-me-I-poke-you thing, I have to disagree. To me, facebook's wealth lies not in the incredible capability of the site, its wealth lies in its membership… their names… their age… their ‘availability’ status… their gaming habit… their e-mails… their interests… their likes and dislikes… their photos… their spending habit…their networks of friends… their connections… the statistic of their time spent online…

What facebook has is a huge database of what I think is the most valuable thing in the current world……… information.

Coming back to home, why do you think the ruling coalition suffered such a heavy battering in the recently held 12th General Election? Was it because the opposition has got huge land bank and thus able to organise massive ‘ceramah’? Was it because the opposition has got huge gold reserves and thus able to launch a massive election campaign?

The answer is of course a big NO. The sole reason why the opposition was able to perform so well is simply because the opposition has got priceless information and such information was disseminated to the public at large. It is not properties or gold… it is such simply… information.

And why do you think law such as the Official Secrets Act (OSA) exist? It exist simple to protect… information.

CIA, MI-II, Special Branch, Beijing… all the intelligence agencies of the various countries, the eyes and ears of the governments, what are they set up to do? Were they set up to invest in highly lucrative business deals? No… and to invest, they set investment arm openly. They even allow others to do it.

But… secret govt agencies and set up and individuals… highly trained individuals are recruited to gather what they know is the most valuable thing of all… information. They… we… all of us… want to know who they other person is doing, what the other person is doing next and how they are going to do it. All these are information of incredible value.

In this day and age, information is king… information is power… and with information, you can make tonnes and tonnes of money, provided you know how to manipulate and put information to good use. Do you know how to gather valuable information and make information work for you?

Of course, I will settle for an acre of land and a few gold bars… for now…

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Cards laugh

I was around Piccadilly near Valentines Day and passed through a card shop. KT wanted to get a card for his girlfriend so we both went in to have a look. I have to say, some of the cards there are pretty cool and of course, London being London, there are those which are… well… kinky… Of course, there are those which are absolutely… direct…

You may want to click on the image to get a better look…

Anyone needed a big cock for valentine?

I also found one who wasn’t so friend…

There are those with continuation on the inside of the card and this is a good pick…

So how do you want it for valentine? Hmmmm….

But the best I saw that day had to be this… you may want to do a right-click and open the image on a new window, then read it before proceeding…

How I miss London……………

P/S: I have fixed the poll…vote vote vote…

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

A Paris analysis

If there is one thing about Paris which has changed, it’s the people. I feel they are not as hostile to people who speak English as they used to be. Oh… believe me, they used to immediately show you a sour face as soon as you ask “Do you speak English?” or “Parlez-vous anglais?”. Now, however; when I went up to a lady (after memorising left, right, straight in French) and asked “Ou-est Arc De Triomphe?”… she actually answered… “Go stlait here, second ze right, you turn”.

There are many people who travel around in bicycle. You can actually rent bicycles from a public bicycle machine. I have no idea how it works but it certainly augur well for the environment. Well, me and Jules didn’t take up the offer as we weren’t exactly dress for it. Anyhow, I am not exactly a cycling person.

Though Paris has got a very efficient public transport system called Metro, you don’t really need to take it that often unless you have your luggage with you. We walked almost the entire city and only took the Metro at the end of the day when we were both tired and the sky was dark. One thing for sure, you definitely need a good pair of shoes to take you around. Furthermore, like I mentioned yesterday, most of the Metro station give out a very unpleasant stench so…

One thing I respect about the French is their willingness to draw the line between work and rest. Perhaps some will call it laziness but seriously, the French certainly know how to enjoy life.
The above is a picture of Champs-Élysées (pronounced shon-si-lei-si-eh) which I took on a Sunday. Can you see the amount of people there? They are mostly tourist. Champs-Élysées is like the heart of Paris, the street has got almost everything and people flock around this street. But do you know what happen on Sunday? Despite the presence of so many tourists, 90% of the shops there are closed!

Except for the sidewalk cafés which charge you a bomb for mineral water and some terrible crepes, I would say all the designer boutiques and other shops along Champs-Élysées are closed on Sunday. When the French need to rest, they rest. They certainly live up to the motto of “carpe diem”. So the next time you plan a trip to Paris, you know what you will not get on a Sunday.

Having said that, there was this one shop that was opened and these were what they were selling…
They say the French are very good with food. The last time I was there, I squeezed my wallet to try the famous “escargots”. This time however, I didn’t get to try. Don’t ask why, absolute disappointment. Anyway, we didn’t really feast much in Paris due to limited time. We had our first dinner in a Belgian restaurant as the nearest French restaurant to our hotel was fully booked. Yes, a lot of the good restaurants in Paris are booked weeks… and I mean weeksssss in advance. So if you are thinking of a good meal, remember to book way in advance.
The second dinner, we followed the guide book and went to a very nice French restaurant called Chartier. We left our hotel rather late as we thought we would be able to finish dinner and catch our train home with perfect timing. Unfortunately, we got it all wrong and had to rush through our dinner. In fact, we wanted to cancel our order as we thought we were going to miss our train but the waiter was kind enough to get our food immediately. Sorry, rushing means I didn’t take any picture of the food. The waiter earned himself a €5 tip.

By the way, the food was quite good and un-Paris-ly cheap! As we rushed out of the door, we were totally astonished to see a long queue waiting to go in. If only we were there earlier, we would have enjoyed our dinner. Chartier Paris… a restaurant not to be missed. The guide book certainly showed us a good place.
If you were to ask me whether Paris is a romantic city, I have to say ‘yes’ is a hesitant answer. A city of art, yes but a romantic city, not quite. Venice is top of my list for being a romantic city. Perhaps the only thing romantic about Paris is that you will find people snogging everywhere… at the sidewalk cafes, in the middle of the bridge, in the restaurant, in the museum, at the park… and I mean passionately…

Overall, I think Paris is rather over-rated by the television. Of course, I have no complaints if I have the chance to go there again.
P/S: The reason why ‘borang’ became ‘boring’ in my previous post is due to the efficiency of the auto-correct function of Microsoft word… sigh

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Lawatan ke sekolah dan syabas Kementerian Luar Negeri

Sudah lama telah saya nanti satu tajuk perbincangan yang sesuai agar saya dapat paparkan satu petikan blog dalam Bahasa Kebangsaan. Kesabaran akhirnya dijawab dengan peluang ini di mana hari ini saya melawat sekolah saya untuk jumpa pengetua dan Putrajaya untuk mendapatkan perkhidmatan dari Konsular kerajaan.

Dua hari yang lalu, saya berkata bahawa
permohonan Sijil Kelakuan Baik mesti dibuat melalui satu boring yang perlu disokong dengan ulasan oleh beberapa kategori pegawai yang tertentu. Salah satu kategori tersebut ialah pengetua sekolah menengah. Maka hari ini, saya mengunjung sekolah menengah untuk tujuan tersebut. Malangnya, pengetua tidak hadir di sekolah hari ini. Kononnya, pergi taklimat.

Sungguhpun begitu, Penolong Kanan, En. Chin yang masih ingat muka saya sudi membuat ulasan dalam boring permohonan yang berkenaan. Rupa-rupanya, ‘guru berada dalam Kumpulan A, iaitu pegawai kerajaan dalam kumpulan perkhidmatan pengurusan dan professional. Oleh itu, ulasan dan tandatangan En. Chin sudah memadai.

Seterusnya, saya turn ke kantin dengan harapan dapat menemui cikgu-cikgu yang pernah ajar saya dahulu. Nasib menyebelahi saya apabila saya nampak guru tingkatan saya, Pn. Lim dan seorang guru yang lain, Cik Yap. Bukan main, Pn. Lim masih ingat nama saya. Jules kata saya pasti seorang yang nakal. Sama ada saya nakal atau seorang pelajar yang bijak, buatlah kesimpulan anda sendiri…

Selepas menyampaikan salam dan memberitahu mereka tujuaan saya berada di sekolah, saya dengan Jules pun memulakan perjalanan ke Putrajaya.
Kementerian Luar Negeri ditempatkan di Wisma Putra, sebuah bangunan yang tidak mudah untuk dicari. Setelah membuat beberapa pusingan, akhirnya dijumpai Wisma Putra yang berada di Precint 2.

Setelah mendapatkan pas pelawat, saya dan Jules masuk ke bangunan dan ditemui oleh seorang pegawai wanita di kaunter yang menyemak dokumen-dokumen yang saya ingin kemukakan. Semua dokumen tersebut nampaknya teratur dan seterusnya, beliau mengeluarkan nombor giliran untuk saya… 2019, nombor yang sedang menerima perkhidmatan pada masa itu ialah 2017.

Orang agak ramai yang satu perkara positif yang saya perhatikan ialah… 4 kaunter kesemuanya, 4 kaunter yang beroperasi. Ini memang satu peningkatan tahap perkhidmatan berbanding masa dahulu di mana kerap kita lihat banyak kaunter yang tidak berfungsi, macam untuk hiasan saja.

Nombor giliran saya dipanggil dan saya terkejut apabila suara yang keluar dari pembesar suara berbunyi…

“two zero one nine, counter three”. Bukan main, memang ini Kementerian Luar Negeri, perkhidmatan Konsular.

Setelah menyampaikan dokumen-dokumen yang berkenaan dan membuat bayaran sebanyak RM20, saya sengaja mula mengira masa yang diperlukan untuk mengeluarkan Sijil yang dipohon. Tahu berapa lama yang perlu saya tunggu? Hanya 20 minit.

Saya amat puas hati dengan tahap perkhidmatan yang diberi. Sungguhpun ramai yang masih tidak puas hati dengan hal-elwal kerajaan pusat, kepujian patut diberi kepada Kementerian Luar Negeri dan kementerian-kementerian yang lain di mana tahap perkhidmatan telah meningkat. Saya dengar, kad pengenaldan dapat dikeluarkan dalam masa 40 minit dan pasport, lebih kurang 2 jam.

Harap-haraplah prestasi sebegini dicontohi oleh kesemua pihak kerajaan.

Oh… dengan Sijil Kelakuan Baik ini, dokumen-dokomen yang diperlukan untuk misi mencari tanah berumput kini lengkap… satu perasaan yang cukup baik…

A day in Paris

It was dubbed to be the world’s most romantic city and as such, it was a place not to be missed for both me and Jules. It is very convenient to head to Paris from London as the Eurostar, a high speed train connects London’s St. Pancras International and Paris’ Gare Du Nord via a 2-hour-15-minutes journey. The ticket price is in the region of £150 return each; and the earlier you book, the cheaper the tickets are.

It was a weekend trip and we left on a Friday night. Getting through custom was rather easy and I mostly slept throughout the journey. Upon arrival, we just looked for the famous Paris Metro, one of the most efficient public transport systems in the world. Though everything is in French, we managed to find the desired destination, Chatelet.

It has been a good 7 years since I last been to Paris and I must say, I don’t recall the Metro station being this dirty. Honestly, the cleanliness was appalling and on top of that, there is a very strong scent of… urine. Not a very pleasant experience in the station I can tell you. So we quickly made our way out via ‘sortie’ and checked-in into our hotel.

I always remember the French and their famous “no-spiikin-inglis” but the hotel receptionist was rather fluent in English. Good for me, I don’t have to embarrass myself with my very limited French. The room was just fantabulous and after settling down, we went out for a short walk. However, it was cold and everything was already closed so we decided to call it a day.

Breakfast was obviously different, no ‘nasi lemak’ or ‘fried bee-hoon’ as there was a good selection of croissant, sausages, bread, scrambled eggs and to cater for the Japanese… miso soup and noodles. After filling our tummy, we headed out for our self-made Paris tour, all on foot.

Our first pit-stop was Arc de Triomphe, approximately 20 minutes walk from our hotel. It is one of France’s most coveted national treasures; built to commemorate the generals who served under Napoleon. There is a fire which burnt non-stop to remember all those who die in the war during Napoleon’s times.
From that, it is a walk down the famous Champs-Élysées (pronounced shon-si-lei-si-eh), a very famous street filled with designer boutiques and sidewalk cafes. Louis Vuitton, or famously known as LV is one of the boutique there. Those who opened the door for us greeted us with ‘bonjour’ but as soon as we stepped in, we were greeted with ‘koni-chiwa’ and ‘ni hao’. 80% of the promoters inside there are Asians and almost 100% of the customers there are mainland Chinese.
Along the street, you can see the National French University. At the end of Champs-Élysées is the Tuileries Palace with a very nice fountain where people will take a break to enjoy the scenic beauty. The fountain is also a place where some wild ducks seek sanctuary.
Moving along, the next destination is the gem of Paris, Musée Du Louvre; the place where one of the world’s most famous paintings is kept. We were really blessed as the queue was not that long. We don’t really know how to appreciate arts and paintings so we headed to the hall which kept that priceless piece of art. The picture I took of that piece was rather unclear. Anyway, I am sure you guys have seen it before. But one thing you don’t know is…
So you think you have been spelling it correctly all these while…

Though we aren’t exactly art lovers, the museum is truly a remarkable place, so huge you can actually spend the whole day in it. It is indeed an architecture wonder and definitely a must see for anyone who visits Paris. If I am not mistaken the entrance fee for the museum is €14 per person. Not cheap if you convert but it’s a place not to be missed.

The next architectural wonder of Paris is certainly the Notre Dame Cathedral. Being inside there gave me a very serene kind of feeling. To me, this is the second most beautiful church in the world. The most beautiful one is located in Rome, will talk about it later. There is a queue to go into Notre Dame and entrance is free.

It’s quite dark inside Notre Dame and basically you can see people taking pictures everywhere. Some will be offering some gifts to the poor and light a candle while some will sit and perhaps whisper a silent prayer.

One cannot say one has visited Paris if one has not been to Eiffel Tower. We reached there after sunset and from afar, I can already see that it is such a magnificent structure. Do you know that this tower is made up of more than 10,000 tonnes of steel but the pressure it exerts on the ground is equivalent to a man sitting on a chair? This is what made Eiffel Tower an architectural wonder.
Queuing to go up the tower is a pain… queuing to go up on a winter night is torture beyond words! I think the temperature was about 3 or 4 degrees and by the time we reached the entrance; we can no longer feel our toes. We stopped at level 2 to grab a hot chocolate before queuing (again) to go up to the highest level. Though it was a torture, going up the tower is another must-do for anyone who visits Paris.

Eiffel Tower was the last destination for that day and we headed back to the hotel for dinner and some well deserved rest. By the way, there is actually a restaurant on the second level of Eiffel Tower and have a look at the name of the restaurant…

We should have been there…

… To be continued… (if I feel like it)…

Thursday, 20 March 2008

In loving memory

The hands that fed me

The mouth that admonished me

The strength to suffer in silence

The courage to leave so that we may not suffer

The heart that loved me

The one whom I miss

My Mom…

Left a year ago...

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

To prove that I am good

If you are thinking of applying to go grassy land, one of thing you need to do is to apply for a “Certificate of Good Conduct” from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Traditionally, the form requires the usual details such as name, identification number, address, pas employment, education history and you seal it up with a declaration that you are not convicted of any crime and do not possess any criminal record. However, one additional requirement was incorporated there-in commencing (based on the final page of the form) 3 March 2008. The form is so new that it is not in the ministry website yet.

Point 21 of the latest form states:

“Permohonan oleh warganegara Malaysia untuk Sijil Kelakuan Baik hendaklah disokong oleh mana-mana pegawai dari kategori pegawai yang disenaraikan di bawah:”

The “pegawai” is supposed to give a comment to support that I am a person of good conduct and of course, subsequently provide his/her name, IC number, occupation and address. Do note… there is no signatory requirement indicated here. Based on my previous experience dealing with newly introduced prescribed forms, I have a feeling the “tandatangan” requirement has been erroneously omitted.

But the most intriguing part is the ‘kategori pegawai’ who can give a comment on my behaviour. They are:

Pegawai Kerajaan dalam kumpulan perkhidmatan pengurusan dan professional (Kumpulan A) ----- First, I have no idea who are these people. Secondly, how do they know I have good conduct or otherwise? And if you are saying that they are to comment on civil servants working in that field, are they facilitating civil servants to get one? Whatever it is, this category is out for me.

Jaksa Pendamai ----- Can someone please tell me who or what is this???

Ketua kampung atau Penghulu ----- I supposed they expect the village chief to know of everyone’s conduct? Or they expect most people applying for such cert coming from the kampung?

Ahli-ahli Parlimen atau ADUN ----- So they did cater for urban folks after all. But then again, how are the MPs and state assemblymen know of the conduct of the relevant applicant? My mom-in-law said she knew a MP and called him today. I asked if he was the MP for the previous term, the answer was yes. As such, my fear was confirmed… he is MP no more for this term. On hindsight, maybe I should ask Tony Pua to give me a comment or two since he took a few articles from my blog before.

Guru Besar / Pengetua Sekolah atau Maktab Awam ----- This is by far my last bet. But then again, my Pengetua has long left for grassy land himself so I have to approach my school’s current Pengetua, whom I am sure have no idea how I behaved in school. As a matter of fact, I rather him not know that. Hey…! My school leaving cert states that I am a brilliant kid ok! I was just being humble.

In my opinion, I don’t know what is the relevance of this additional requirement. Is this a desperate measure to stop or at least slow down the brain drain problem? Whatever it is, it is just going to make people feel frustrated and more determined to get it done. I mean, how would these people know of my conduct as a person? And God knows what some of these people would ask for return if the applicant is desperate.

So if you are one going to embark on a mission to grassy land… don’t tell me I didn’t give you a head up………

Monday, 17 March 2008

Final take on the hottest topic

What seemed like a boring topic just a month ago is now the hottest talk of town… Malaysian politics. When I entered the field for my warm up before football yesterday, even the younger players were talking about politics. I also know a few lifestyle based bloggers who decided to start a brand new blog to comment about politics. It is… hot!

I have plenty of things to say about the current political scene but I think I also have a lot to say about my working experience in London. As such, I am going to pen down all I wanted to say in this entry and will lay off politics for a while. One warning… I have a feeling this is going to be a long entry

Feeding the rumour monger

There are a few uncles who joined our Sunday football session. Ya’ know, these uncles are wise men in their own manner. They can tell you things that our knowledge based mentality cannot fathom, but their reasoning can really makes you wonder.

One rumour being raised yesterday; and I think some of you may have already heard is the mysterious death of the satay tycoon. Was his heart that vulnerable? Or he just fooled the whole Malaysia?

The uncles are saying that the news shown on TV actually focussed the camera on the deceased face and they lifted the cloth covering the body for that to happen. Now, my limited the knowledge on Islam tells me that the body of a deceased is usually wrapped in cloth and they don’t usually exposed it for people to see; certainly not for the cameraman to show to the whole country. There is also certainly no need to show the country.

The rumour on the ground is that the satay-man has put a new meaning to the saying “cheated death”. Confiscate the mansion; blame all the corruption on the dead man, family gets away free. Sounds like a great plan, don’t you think?

But then again, this is just a rumour. Certainly very interesting isn’t it?

Men with old ploys…

“People are brainwashed already. They thought vote PAS means no pork to eat. But in fact, there’s pork even in Kelantan!”

That’s what one of the uncles said today. Indeed, plenty have been brainwashed. The brainwasher mechanism is none other than the mainstream media, who at the disposal of the BN govt has painted a very morbid image on PAS. As soon as you mention PAS, the phrase “Islamic extremism” flashes in your mind without you knowing it.

We Malaysians hate it when those “gwai-los” think that we live on trees. We want them to come over and see that we are actually more advance that they are possibly imagine. We tell them they should not believe what is shown in their TV. Similarly, how many of us have been to Kelantan? Have we been there ourselves to see a Taliban style rule or we got all that from the famous mainstream media?

With the current ruckus in the opposition led states, the mainstream has moved in to make the worst out of everything. Check out
this article by Jeff Ooi on how the mainstream put words in the mouth of others.

We Malaysians have shown that we have matured and as such, we must let our maturity control our ability to discern between genuine and false media. We must think and analyse because if you are reading this blog, I am darn sure you are capable of it. Do not let the old ploys set us off on an aimless verbal diarrhoea. Let those who are blind continue to dwell in false news while we, indulge only in what is worthy of being called… news.

… boys with new toys

The opposition themselves never expected this. In fact, we shouldn’t call them opposition anymore because they are now part of the govt, albeit only at the state level. As such, they are in unfamiliar territories and as we can see, they are acting like boys… yes… boys… with new toys.

I think the general opinion was to let the opposition have a louder voice in parliament and perhaps deny the govt a 2/3rd majority. But I am sure we never thought the opposition can capture 5 states. Well, neither did they.

The current debacle happening in the opposition-led states is an obvious sign of inexperience. All they wanted was to be elected into parliament and continue to shout at the govt MPs in their capacity as opposition. Never in their mind would they imagine that they would no longer be known as opposition.

What the opposition should realise is that they are no longer opposition, at least not in the 5 states in which they have been elected. As such, they have to act like govt. And as much as I hate to say it, behaving like govt also means they have to speak the right things. Tactfulness is important. The days when they scream and shout in parliament are over.

But what is most important is that they must realise that time is of the essence. The people, though forgetful, are also impatient… very impatient. While instant results may not be possible, some form of positive vibes must be created soonest possible.

So Mr-opposition-now-govt, time to make good use of your new toys or else, your days are numbered.

No such thing as smooth transition

I am sure many have taken over a new role in your workplace before, either as a new employee or being promoted to take over somebody. Was it easy to take over the new role? No matter how complete the hand-over process was, there are bound to be problems thereafter. What more, if the hand-over is a reluctant one…

We want changes and changes are in the reckoning. And when there are changes, there are bound to be parties who are not happy and possibly oppose changes. So changes are not going to be smooth. There will certainly be a ‘war’ and we will probably be stuck in the middle of a battlefield, metaphorically speaking.

So when you feel disappointed or perhaps fearful of the changes and ruckus around us, remind yourself that this is what you voted for… changes… and there is no such thing as a smooth transition.

In conclusion, what we are seeing now may just be the beginning of a long journey towards what every Malaysians want to achieve. Remember that people have been screaming and thousands have taken to the streets just to rock the boat and now that the boat is rocking, we must play our part in holding on… holding on to our beliefs… holding on to the vision we have… holding on to the truth we seek.

Some info on the UK “Work and Travel” visa and UK contract employment

A lot of Malaysians (and Asians) are flocking into London under this scheme called ‘Work and Travel Visa’ (“W&T”); one which is valid for a period of 2 years from the date of entry. It basically allows you to work for one year and thereafter, you are supposed to spend the money you earned to travel for the other.

While some are genuinely taking this visa to work and travel, many are also using this as a stepping stone to secure a permanent job. With a permanent job, comes a work permit which of course, allows them to stay in UK longer than 2 years, or for good if they so wish.

The general concern in Malaysia is whether a holder of this visa will be able to secure a job during the 1 year they are allowed to work. This is a valid concern bearing in mind that if you bring your RM to survive in UK, it amounts to almost nothing. So is this W&T visa worth the risk?

From the little more than 2 months I spent in London, I think that the job market here is not that bad. Contract based job is quite easy to secure IF you have an accounting qualification and experience. Have to say sorry if you are a fresh grad. Guess you have to slog for a few years in Malaysia before making the grade.

In Malaysia, if you have a contract job, it means you are not good enough to secure a permanent role. Of course, I disagree with this as I think this is another moronic self-degrading Asian thinking.

Here in London, contract roles are very common and a lot of W&T visa holders take on contract roles. In fact, a lot of people prefer contract jobs. Let me quote what a contractor told me…

“First, as a contractor, I get my bonus upfront, second I pay lower taxes, third I can go on holiday whenever I want, forth I don’t need to fight with anyone for higher increment/targets…”

When that person said ‘I get my bonus upfront’, it doesn’t mean a contractor gets a lump sum upon joining a fee. This simply means the hourly pay is higher compared to other permanent employees. Reason being a contractor usually doesn’t get other benefits such as medical, annual leave, bonus (of course), etc.

I am sure many are curious how much a contractor gets paid. Well, someone with around my experience can command about £40-£45 per hour working as a contractor. Please, don’t start converting, not yet. With 7 working hours a day at £40 per hour and taking an average of 21 working days a month, that is about £5,880 per month before tax.

On average, 35% will be deducted; either as tax or other contributions and with that, the net pay is about £3,822. There are 2 autonomous consumptions which you must spend, i.e. rent and transport. On average, £800 for rent and bills will be enough. A 1 month travel pass is £95 and it gives you unlimited travel on the underground and buses in zone 1 to zone 4. This would translate to a net disposable income of £2,927 per month.

I am not going to tell you how much £££ I spend a month but I can assure that £1,000 a month is more than enough, even with entertainment. I will blog about expenses comparison like
the one I did for HK very soon. Let’s say you are a heavy spender and you go up to as high as £1,500 a month on expenditure. That will still give you a monthly net saving of £1,427.

Now my friends, you can convert. Your savings based on the latest average exchange rate of £1 = RM6.3 is RM8,990 per month. If you are not a heavy spender and spend only £1,000 per month, your savings will be £1,927 = RM12,140… per month. Let’s say an average, RM10,000 a month is saved, that would mean RM120,000 a year.

How long do you think you need to work in Malaysia to amass savings of such magnitude? This is why so many capable professionals are flocking to UK. I would love it too, but my plan is the land of down under. But for those who have made
a professional mistake and are thinking of correcting it, this is your opportunity…

Thursday, 13 March 2008

A look at the Perak ruckus

I just got a mail from a researcher from Pennsylvania University asking if he can do an interview with me on a project regarding blogs and democracy. It feels good to know that many people from abroad are keeping a close tab on the Malaysian blogosphere. All the more bloggers should keep up the reputation… the world is watching us.

Anyway… the current talk in town is the ruckus happening in Perak as we speak. I am sure the BN govt is laughing at the somewhat disarray state of the opposition parties there. A quick look across the blogosphere and you will see that most bloggers are asking Lim Kit Siang to shut up and that he is racist.

While I do agree with the general sentiments, I also have a somewhat different view.

I had the chance to speak to a few Perak-ians a while ago and of course, I took the opportunity to ask them about their view. There are a few who think LKS made the wrong move but do you know, there are also Perak-ians who think LKS is doing the right thing.


DAP won 18 seats in Perak, this means DAP has been chosen by quite a big majority of Perak-ians. Let’s not deny the fact that most people have a negative picture about PAS and are afraid of a PAS led govt. Whether this fear is necessary is a story for another day.

Since the most of the Perak-ians aren’t exactly in favour of having a PAS led govt, isn’t what LKS doing is merely speaking on behalf of the Perak-ians? Isn’t that what a MP supposed to do? If there are Perak-ians here who disagree, please let me know as I certainly don’t want to speak on behalf of you.

We all call LKS a racist and brand DAP a race based party. While that fact is debateable, why don’t we look at the root of the problem here? To me, the root of the racial problem here is not DAP, but the state constitution which requires the MB of Perak to be a Malay Muslim. Of course, I am not saying the constitution should be amended but I think we should also look at that point. And to me… that part of the constitution is rather racist.

I think I understand how most bloggers feel about this. I think the general consensus is that LKS should shut up and show the country that they opposition can work together and we are disappointed that they appear otherwise. It is certainly very disappointing to see disagreement amongst the opposition after giving them so much support.

But before we ask him to shut up, we should ask the people of Perak, is Mr LKS speaking on behalf of DAP? Or is he speaking on behalf of the 18 constituencies who elected DAP?

The conversation with the driver

Disclaimer: Zewt is not putting up any allegation for this entry, just trying to share a conversation. Please read and discern for yourself.

I am back… and definitely jet-lag!

The flight was not very pleasant, I can't explain why. Oh… sitting right in front of me (in the business class) is that RTM badminton commentator, I think his name is Hasbullah something. If I am not wrong, he was on his way back from the coverage of the All-England badminton tournament. I think there were a total of 5 of them in business class. I wonder what class the players sit on… very interesting indeed…

Anyway, I had a very interesting conversation with the driver who picked me up from KLIA today. This guy is formerly in the army and also worked as a body-guard for the royalties before. Beats me how he ended up as a driver now. Perhaps he wanted a quiet life.

The vehicle was rather quiet as we head down the newly built highway out of KLIA. After the usual how’s-the-trip, how’s-the-weather, everything-ok talk, I can't help but to ask him…

“Ada undi?”

That question sparked a very enlightening conversation…

He said that he wanted to vote but unable to. Reason being his name has already been registered when he first joined the army. He tried to register again as a civilian but failed. Best part is, his vote belongs to the army, of which he has since left.

“Dia orang guna, untuk undi pos lah! Apa lagi!” was his remark.

So a Malaysian will lose his vote to the govt as soon as he/she joins the army… interesting isn’t it? Well, we don’t know if this is true but from the way things are reported everywhere, I am certainly not surprise.

He is obviously overjoyed that the opposition won Selangor, as he believes he will be able to retrieve his vote in the next election. There are also other things we talked about but I think I rather not mentioned it here. But I assure you, speaking to a former army officer is sure interesting.

He made a statement that till now, still echo in my ears. It is a statement that I think the DAP in Perak should take heart, in the midst of the current minor hiccup there…

“BN tak professional lah. Kalah… Kalah lah. Bukannya kalah kepada orang Jepun atau British. Kalah pun, kalah kepada orang Malaysia. Akhirnya, orang Malaysia yang memerintah, sama je”

Such is the mentality now… the nation has certainly matured…

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

The changes, expected changes and the un-changed

I am still in a state of disbelief that what seemed unachievable just days ago is now a reality. Many thanks for the comments telling me about the brilliant results. As soon as I logged on to msn, my friends were all telling me about the wonderful news.

I think the slogan “Malaysia Boleh” can finally be used for what is arguably the most appropriate occasion. Indeed, Malaysia Boleh… Malaysians Boleh! One good example would be Bandar Tun Razak where a Chinese populated area voted in a Malay PKR candidate instead of a Chinese BN candidate. It is a wonderful feeling to know that race is no longer a motivating factor, at least not entirely. Kudos to you guys there!

All my friends said I am missing all the fun back home. The environment is just brilliant, though some old folks are sort of still skeptical about things and have been stocking up ration fearing a repeat of 513. Times have changed; such dirty tricks ain’t going to work no more!

Speaking of changes, I am sure many of us are looking forward to changes; many changes. The hype within us is building up so high that without us knowing it, our expectations are also reaching great heights. Indeed, changes are inevitable, but I think we should all pause for a moment and try to see one very important point… and this point is that… BN is still the government.

I heard a few comments saying that if the opposition doesn’t perform, they will be voted out next time round. I don’t know about you, and please correct me if I am wrong… I believe that all of us should not be too quick to associate the government with the opposition. After all, the opposition, though controlling 5 states, is still the opposition.

It is BN who will form the cabinet, who will form the government. A quick look at the comics mainstream media and one can see (if one is wise) that efforts have already been made to tarnish the opposition. And what about the police? Would they be in control of the police still?

As such, we must still keep our eyes open and not to judge too quickly. At least that is what I think.

On hindsight, I am sure many of us are absolutely overjoyed that that that that that former minister lost his seat. I also wonder what kind of shit would be dug out of him. Like what
zorro said… “time to lift up the carpet and vacuum out the dirt…”

Last but not least… and though we need God to be near us, it is good to know that we wont be hearing much act-of-god for a long time to come…

I will be home soon!

Update: As a mark of respect, the comment on Mr Deros has been removed. However, justice must still prevail, the mansion, if it is illegal, has to go.

Friday, 7 March 2008

May the voting force be with you

Managed to find a place to log on in cold cold cold Florence and the first piece of news that reached me was our wonderful govt's plan to abandon the use of indeletable ink. So all the money used to purchased those ink is now wasted... all those money... our money!!! Another typical say-one-thing-and-do-another way of doing things.

Can we ever trust them over anything?

A quick check of my inbox and I am so surprise to see so many election related mails from people whom I have not spoken to for so long and whom I never thought they would be interested in politics... looks like this is going to be a very interesting election indeed.

I have to say I miss being back home and missing going to 'ceramah' and being a part of the so called 'rush hour' of the 12th general election. From the way I see it, the govt is really panic shit and is using all sorts of tricks possible to ensure that they stay in power. Whatever it is, I believe we Malaysians will truly show what we are made of this time...

May the voting force be with you all...