Thursday, February 25, 2010


Michaelians will have probably realized (unless they've been living under the art room) that we have a giant hornet's hive hanging off a water pipe. For the uninitiated, it's on the pipe of the highest floor next to the Form Six office's window. All you need to do is look up around that area. Trust me, you can't miss it.

Anyway, it's been there for awhile now, and it really looks... dangerous/ creepy/ gross. But this might be because I'm kind of terrified of buzzing, flying things.

The point I'm trying to make isn't that I'm a wuss. It is a polite request as to when (or if) the school plans to remove it. I need hardly remind anyone of the hazards of having the thing next to a window which offers access to several of the school's nicest teachers. (Mr. Rajan, Pn. Fairoz, and Pn Tan Cheng Choo come to mind.)

Like so many problems in this country, will we wait for it to kill/ seriously injure someone, before we act? School safety is one thing that cannot be messed with, but the fact that hundreds of schools and educational facilities have termite infested boards, faulty beams, bad bridges (think Kuala Dipang) and electrical wiring from Dato' Maharaja Lela's time.

Many a time, even if someone does die, the issue becomes hotter than Megan Fox, before becoming colder than an ais kacang again. Whatever the problems involved in these situations, be it corruption, a close-one-eye attitude, or simply lack of funds, they have to be looked into and stopped quickly.

Those who embezzle funds for school infrastructure should be punished more severely than normal corrupt officials. I mean, we're talking students here! What happened to modal insan? If lack of funds is an issue, then it's time we cut wastage, especially in terms of government electricity consumption.

(Maybe government offices are instructed to leave lights on to provide profit for TNB. Just a thought.)

Here's to the removal of that nest, and to similar problems in all schools. There's no point in having laptops in schools if a six-legged creature brings down the building.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


The Universiti Teknologi Petronas Inter-School Debate was on Saturday. We competed with a previously untested combination (me, Kenny Liew, James William Foong), who went with drastically underprepared points (we're Michaelians). And the result.....?

I'll tell later. (Aren't I a sadist?)

Anyway, we discovered that we were the ONLY non-fully governmental school there. The others were all MRSMs, Sekolah Berasrama Penuh, or Sekolah Menengah Sains. So there I was, fully expecting to get screwed (again) because our speeches had been prepared the night before.

The semi final topic hadn't even been discussed! And these schools typically employ powerful points, backed up with a carpet bomb of facts and figures. Plus, they smile when they speak too.

Michaelian debaters will know that I'm usually the mad one in a temper on stage.

But we managed to keep our cool, and thanks to wonderful last minute preparations and spectators (they helped us prepare for the semis while we debated in the 3rd round- it was conducted a la round robin), plus the fact that we- especially me- toned down the hard, fast style.

(I smiled & spoke gently in a debate for the first time! Ever!)

We won all four rounds, and qualified for the finals! Those are on March 3, which means I'll be skipping exams!

We're up against MCKK, and if we keep up the new and improved style, we can win! About time we won something, too...

A big thank you to everyone who helped, especially Mr. Rajan, the spectators (my brothers and Thomas Liew) and the reserve speaker (Frederick Pereira)- who also drained the battery of the speakers' iPod, DSLR camera and Acer laptop. God bless you all. Wish us luck!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


The Malaysian economy has been facing severe problems in recent years, which started becoming apparent after the departure of the engineer of the best growth period in Malaysian history- Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammad.

By the numbers- official figures show that approved investment for the first nine months of last year totaled RM19.1 billion, of which RM12.2 billion was foreign direct investment. That is a far cry from the RM62.8 billion of approved investments in the previous year, with just over RM46 billion in the form of foreign capital.
The KLSE shows a drop, which is an apt metaphor for the future of Malaysia's economy.

Sad huh?

The problems are deep and far ranging- starting with a climate that has failed to keep attracting investors. Previously, we could boast of low labour costs, a good business environment, and general harmony in the nation. No more. Other countries now have even cheaper labour markets, like China and Vietnam. Harmony in the nation is more endangered day by day, even without ethnic tensions. Just look at our crime rate, which has proved able to spook high-tech operations in the country's industrial areas- the heist of 47 million ringgit worth of Intel chips from an air cargo terminal in Penang comes to mind.
Bayan Lepas International Airport, a key entry point for foreign investors needs to beef up security if it doesn't want to be overlooked.

Worse, the idea of operating in the country is becoming a bit of a joke among multinational companies. Friendlier investment climates are found in locales like Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. This is due to revolting bureaucracy, which means it is terribly difficult to start and do business. The Ease of Doing Business Index, published annually by the World Bank, ranks Malaysia 23rd in its 2010 list, a 2-place drop from 2009. Singapore ranked 1st in 2010, and 2009, while Indonesia recorded a 7-place jump from 2009.

Reversing the trend starts with the government. It needs to slash away the huge rainforest of red-tape (they're bigger than our REAL rainforests!) It needs to fix infrastructure, especially security related ones, at ports and other transport points, like airports and highways. And they need to create an education system that produces critical and creative thinkers, instead of students who simply memorise and regurgitate huge volumes of facts. This spurs the change to a real knowledge based economy (computers, services and solutions) instead of simply constructing hard drives, semiconductors and shoes.
In January 2009, Intel- the world's largest chipmaker- announced that it was shutting down operations in Malaysia. Personally, I'm not surprised.

If Malaysia is to keep its economy humming steadily in the years to come, these changes are necessary. More necessary is an immediate end to denial of the problem. And I wish that, like so many issues in this country, it won't be swept under the carpet after a brief outcry.