Colours of autumn

When I was in Canberra, it was already late autumn. It was already cold, at least for me. Temperature ranged from around 3 degree to 16 degree Celsius. I remarked to my sister and her hubby that "we are not made to live in such weather" and that "how can anyone get any work done in this country?". Lol, yah I was a bit cranky about the early morning cold weather. Imagine if it's winter :-)

Hate winter. Hate summer. That pretty much rules out idea of living and working in Australia.

Here are some pictures of autumn in Canberra. The first one was taken somewhere in Evatt while the rest are in ANU. It can be lovely, that I admit, but I much prefer spring.

Colour of autumn

ANU evergreen willow in autumn

ANU autumn progression

ANU orange & fuzzy autumn

ANU dark & light autumn

ANU the great divide

Plant disease?

Plant pox

Sorry as this photo is not clear enough since my gimpy camphone can't take close-up photos. I believed the stem on the left shows it clearly: there are pox-like things on the stems of my baby. It makes the stems feel bumpy. I removed a few of them before. They are moist underneath.

I feel uneasy as I suspect it may be a disease and if it is, what steps I should take. However I'm not too sure either as for it could jolly well be part of the plant's growth.*Shrug*

Any idea?

None of your business

Really, some people just don't know when to stop scratching at other people's business.

I have a client, company A, who outsource certain part of their accounting service to company B, whereas my company acts as consultant to A. In order to provide a certain certificate, we have requested data from A. Upon learning that A has difficulty extracting historical data, we suggested that they just try their best to extract as far back as possible.

B's interest in this is indirect as they need to prepare the accounts for the auditor's sign-off and the auditor wants to sight the certificate. B then tried pressing us to tell A it's ok to provide data up to certain year only. I've reiterated that we have consistently told A to provide as far back as they possibly can. How much clearer can that be? It is up to A then to provide what they can. In any case, if A has problems, shouldn't they talk to us instead? B is not involved at all in the data extraction.

Seriously, how much clearer can that be? B huffed and puffed over it and seems to imply we are not trying our best to help A to meet the audit deadline.

It is just mind-boggling to think about the number of such people in this world. Sheesh.

Did you know about this?

He’s caught in the past
Allowing him to return would amount to an admission ...

THE final attempt by the 85-year-old former leader of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), Chin Peng, to gain the right to return to Malaysia was quashed on April 30 by the Federal Court.
His failure to produce his birth certificate was used as sufficient reason to deny his appeal.
The legal technicalities involved in stopping him from entering the country are interestingly not the most significant theme in this saga. His failure nevertheless injects disturbing elements from the past into contemporary Malaysian consciousness.
Many see no danger in allowing the old man to return from his place of exile in Bangkok to his place of birth in Sitiawan, Perak, where many of his relatives live, but others, including the federal authorities, refuse to forget the violence perpetrated by the MCP during the birth of the nation.
The official stand is taken despite the peace agreement signed between the MCP and government on Dec 2, 1989, stating that party members who were of Malaysian origin should be allowed to settle in the country if they wished to do so.
Chin Peng’s mistake was that he did not take up then Premier Mahathir Mohamed on that offer immediately.
Much of the reluctance to allow him to return stem from challenges that are embodied in Chin Peng’s very existence, to official discourses about the origins of Malaysian independence.
Firstly, communists such as Chin Peng (real name Ong Boon Hua) were practically the only Malayans fighting the Japanese invaders during World War II. They did it with material and logistical support from British defenders who had recently so hastily abandoned their colonies in South-east Asia.
Chin Peng is therefore a reminder of a fractious time when the Japanese were seen as invaders by some but as liberators of Malaya from British control by others.
The portrayal of communists as terrorists was therefore a narrative device that served to depict British colonialists as defenders of decent government, protectors of the public and willing participants in bringing independence to Malaya, in the final days of their empire.
Willing participants in this project where the local population was concerned — once the communists had been dismissed by British commissioner-general in South-east Asia Malcolm McDonald as “alien forces acting under alien instructions” — were solely conservative parties such as the United Malays National Organisation (Umno) and the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA).
Indeed, the forming of the MCA in 1949 was a measure deemed necessary by the British and by Chinese Malayan leaders to draw rural support away from the communists after the former decided on guerilla warfare against their erstwhile brothers-in-arms.
Chin Peng’s continued intrusion into Malaysian consciousness also conjure discomforting images of a time when the fire of nationalism throughout the colonised world was inextricably alloyed with the promise of liberation from the colonial yoke and the building of a paradise based on economic equality and social justice without regard for national borders.
Had the communists of pre-independence Malaya not be perceived as aliens with an agenda countervailing against the nationalism of the conservative parties of the alliance — to whom independence was finally given by the British — then the whole understanding of Malaysian history would have to be revised.
That will not doubt make Malaysia’s history more interesting, but that would also challenge the narrower narratives that we have grown contented with.
Admitting the full mix of passions in the twilight years of British might, and the blend of aspirations found among peoples filled with the vision that they could finally escape colonial control, would allow us today to entertain ideas that are not so strongly nationalistic, ethnocentric or parochial.
A proper study of the post-war period would also reveal a high level of economic duress among urban and rural Malayans. This would go some way towards explaining the officially-assumed political disinterest among most non-Malay Malayans of that time in the process of Merdeka.
The race-based nature of Malaysia’s official history is largely a result of the depiction of the MCP as an alien force that carried little significance in the ideological dynamics of Merdeka.
Through a concentration on the racial nature of major parties, which also avoided the fact that non-conservative parties were not included in negotiations with the British, the conceptual space for race politics was advertently enlarged.
Precisely through the branding of class struggle on the national stage as a sideshow, Merdeka basically became an ethnocentric struggle that has informed Malaysian political thought every since.
Permitting Chin Peng to return would amount to an admission by officialdom that he and his buddies were part of the struggles of the immediate post-war period, and that the left-right political dimension that consumed world politics during that age — which was a major motivation for the British to orchestrate their withdrawal from the region the way they did — was also very much a part of Malaysian political thought. WEEKENDVTRA
The writer is a Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.This article is written in remembrance of the late Andrew Symon, withwhom the writer had many discussions about Chin Peng.

Steely warriors

Steely swordsman

Steely shooter

Steely archer

Canberra May 09 Part 4

After I met my sis and her family at Canberra airport, we drove back to her house to put down my luggage before going off for lunch at a Chinese restaurant for some dim sum. Ironically we also had Singapore noodle:

Singapore noodle

Something that cannot be found in Singapore :-) Similarly, you can have Hong Kong noodle in Singapore and Malaysia but not in Hong Kong.

We then dropped by the National Museum. We've been there before although I didn't get to see everything because everyone else was waiting for me and legs were killing me at that time. However, this time, we were there because of the kids. Just wanted them to enjoy the outside of the museum:

National museum 1

National museum 2

National museum 3

We were lucky that day because there was a paddle steamer for viewing. It's called PS Enterprise. It's more than 125 years old. The National Museum of Australia acquired it in 1984. First time I saw such boat and up close too:

PS Enterprise 1

PS Enterprise 2

PS Enterprise 3

PS Enterprise 4

PS Enterprise 5

PS Enterprise 6

PS Enterprise 7

My baby has bloomed

My baby

I grew them from seeds. Out of many seeds, only 3 managed to survive. Actually, there were many seedlings but they were all flat on the soil when I was back from Chinese New Year. Still, I hoped and watered them anyway. Miraculously, 3 seedlings responded and now there's a flower! I would have loved to watch the flowering process but I'm already happy that it flowered at all because it has been months. Derek, thanks for looking after it and other plants while I was in Australia. At least none died this time ;-)

Canberra May 09 Part 3

This time, instead of the typical transit point at Sydney, I transitted at Brisbane. No, it wasn't because I wanted to stop over and walk about, especially since I've never been to Brisbane before. It was because of 2 factors: (1) I wanted to avoid the harrowing experience I had with respect to time in between flights. I was running from one terminal to other terminal. Hence, this time I ensured I had more than an hour transfer time. (2) I wanted to reach Canberra at a time such that my sis and her entire family could come and pick me up, instead of only my brother in-law since the kids have certain routine to follow.

Ironically, I did run lol. After putting through my bag and yoga mat, with my laptop taken out and screened separately, I forgot to take my yoga mat. I only realised that after I was close to the domestic terminal departure gate. I ran back, got it back (thankfully) and ran towards the gate. I was the last passenger...again lol.

Brisbane has much better weather than Canberra or even Sydney. Maybe because Queensland's weather is more towards tropical than temperate. Heck, I think capital city in Australia has better weather than Canberra

Here are some pictures of Brisbane airport:

Brisbane international terminal 1
At Brisbane Airport International Terminal. Too bad the pizzas didn't come with cute boys.

Brisbane International terminal 2
Reminds me of KL Sentral station hehe.

Check in
Check-in for my bags for the domestic flight.

Airtrain station 1
Comfy proper train to the domestic terminal. Got a free ride since I'm a Qantas passenger. It's quite shocking if really need to pay for such shuttle service. The other platform has trains going to the city and other places.

Instant arrival
If the train departs every 0 min, then how much time do we have to board it?

Airtrain station 2
At the platform of the Airtrain station. I like this structure.

The bridge connecting the international terminal to the Airtrain station.

Real train
My free ticket, courtesy of Qantas. Qantas should pay me a little something for this advertisement hehe.

Brisbane domestic terminal
Asian magic at the domestic terminal.

Propeller plane
Luckily it wasn't this propeller plane I took to Canberra, although I suspect it will be when I fly to Melbourne later enroute to Singapore.

Australia Budget, Merlin, Men

So there's a tough choice for a weak Prime Minister: raise $1.9billion by making health more expensive and putting more pressure on the public hospital system, or by adding about 3cents more to the price of a cigarette and taking pressure off the public health system.

- Australia's Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull on the Government's proposal to fund new spending with a new means test on taxpayer-funded rebates on 30% of the cost of private health insurance

You always have a choice. Sometimes it's easy to to think you don't have one.

- (may not be entirely verbatim) Guinevere to Gaius in the British television drama series Merlin

Girls grow up to be women. Boys grow up to be just bigger boys.

- me quoting to my sister. Anyone remember who originally said this?

Canberra May 09 Part 2

One of my sis's favourite tv show is The Gruen Transfer, where the host and a panel of experts talk about some advertisements.

I caught it last night where somewhere at the start they mentioned about a global brand using ads that claimed its product was recommended by Doctor Associates Inc or something like that. It certainly gave the impression that a group of doctors recommended it, right? I'm sure you're familiar with such ads with such endorsement/recommendation.

Well, I cannot really remember what The Gruen Transfer discovered about the true nature of the Inc but subsequently they revealed that they have registed a company with the name "Nine Out Of Ten Experts". Hence, anyone who wants to engage them to recommend a product could then obtain the tagline in an ad: "Nine out of ten experts recommend this".

Canberra May 09 Part 1

I'm in Canberra now. In fact, typing this while in a library at Australian National University, my alma mater. I've been here since Saturday, 9 May. My objective is to spend time with my sis and her hubby and twin sons (nothing new here :-) ).

Been rather busy that I didn't have time to surf net. During the days when the kids are at school and their parents at work, I'm at the library supposedly trying to do my assignment. The first time I tried that on Monday, I estimated I got a whole 2 hours of work done on the assignment. Hehe. The rest of the time? Read newspapers, walk here and there, deciding on whether I should walk up to the actuarial department to request giving a short talk on practical applications of what you learn in university, and people watching. It seems that all the cute guys have not returned from parading for William in Melbourne.

Well, I better get going with my assignment. Hope to finish it today or at least get a draft out. Meanwhile, here's a picture of a surprise birthday treat (Japanese ice cream) by the owners of Hachi Tei on my 33rd birthday:

Hachi Tei bd ice-cream

Lesson on persuasion

I think if you believe what you are doing is right, live a good life, do a good work and persuade people by what you do and how you life rather than by pushing your ideas on them in a more pushy way.

- Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore Teo Chee Hean

Adventure of the Wild Sarawakian Eps 2

*Ring Ring*

Me: Hello?
WS: Hey
Me: Yes, how can I help you?
WS: Ask you ar, do you know where to get a cheap incubator?
Me: *Laughed* Why? You have premature baby?

Turned out that he was worried about two eggs in the nest in the garden of his workplace. As he was closing the door, for some unknown reasons, the mother bird flew past him and into his office and smacked into the front glass door, leaving discharges over a couple of places.

He panicked. "OMG, she died!" Fortunately, that wasn't the case. In fact, later, she was upright again but staring at him wearily. I on the other hand, tried searching for a vet nearby for him to phone (I was still at work) but in the end, he called SPCA.

WS: OMG I think the mother bird died!
SPCA: Calm down, WS. Are you hurt?

Ok, I made that up but the way things went, he was panicking more than the bird lol. After exchange some information, SPCA adviced him to observe for a while. The bird could just be in shock to move and not injured. If not, SPCA would send someone down to look at her. I'm impressed.

Fortunately, she flew away but he was worried the eggs were not getting the required warmth from the bird. SPCA assured him that it was alright for the eggs to be without the bird overnight. Next day, she was back :-)

I laughed at this incident and will forever remember the first few lines of the tele-conversation but at the same time was quite touched that he was genuinely concerned over the welfare of the bird and her eggs. Way to go, WS!