Thursday, June 07, 2007


It is amazing how complete our hubris and ignorance can be when we are sucked into a problem.

It is amazing to realize how we could have the nerve to think that we are the only person facing the problem.

It is amazing to think how naturally we pushed away the friends that could have helped us to overcome the problem.

Why is it easier for us to alienate than engage our families and friends when we are stuck in a rut?

What makes us think that only us have the right and ability to solve our own problems even when that is not the case?

Finally, how do we pick up the pieces, rebuild burnt bridges and participate in the affairs of the world once again when all is said and done?

For the world does not stop whilst we are busy making our decisions, executing our choices.

Monday, June 04, 2007


I'm done with my final year exams, I'm done with my final year project and I'm done with all the usual stuffs the final year of one's degree entails.

But I am not sure whether I am done with farewells and good-byes.

I guess I never have an idealized notion, some inkling of how the final year of my degree would be like and thus I embraced the last few days of my final exams with no more than a desire to simply finish the second Comprehensive paper.

No pre-planned post exam parties, no drawn-out eulogies to mourn the passing of what one may call an era, no blaring fanfares to celebrate the joy of freedom recovered.

Having routinely slaved for 12 hours in the library for the past few weeks, I must admit that it didn't take long for the feeling of emptiness and loss to set in a few hours after my last paper.

It felt like post-Malaysian-Night syndrome all over again.

Who would have thought that 2 weeks of exams would pass so quickly, how the time in between the papers would simply flow off one's back without one truly realizing it.

Such is the relativity of time.

I would have to say though that my 3rd year exams seemed to be much more satisfying and fulfilling than the ones I had in first and second year; largely I suspect because of the dauntless friends I had during my sojourn at the library.

The exam period is taxing enough for any reasonable individual and I count myself lucky to always be in the company of such excellent friends - Irham, Alberto & Ben.

Whether it is someone to walk beside me to the prayer room or to drag me to the JCR for a quick dose of caffeine, I am extremely thankful for their presence, for they had made my trek to the finish line a bit more bearable.

It was intellectually stimulating and emotionally gratifying to simply be around them.

My only regret is that soon I have to part with these kindred souls as the year draws to a gradual but definite close.

The time has come for my final encore.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The finishing line is the beginning of a whole new race...

Monday, March 26, 2007

They say
the first love's most important.
That's very romantic,
but not my experience.

Something was and wasn't there between us,
something went on and went away.

My hands never tremble
when I stumble on silly keepsakes
and a sheaf of letters tied with string
— not even ribbon.

Our only meeting after years:
two chairs chatting
at a chilly table.

Other loves
still breathe deep inside me.
This one's too short of breath even to sigh.

Yet just exactly as it is,
it does what the others still can't manage:
unremembered,not even seen in dreams,
it introduces me to death

Wislawa Szymborska

Sunday, March 25, 2007

of merits and empires

“In all that great assembly no single man owed his dignity to anything but his personal merits and bravery; no one is distinguished from the rest by his birth, and honour is paid to each man according to the nature of the duty and offices which he discharges. There is no struggle for precedence, every man having his place assigned to him by virtue of the function which he performs. The Sultan himself assigns to all their duties and offices, and in doing so pays no attention to wealth or the empty claims of rank, and takes no account of any influence or popularity which a candidate may possess: he only considers the merit and scrutinises the character, natural ability and disposition of each. Thus each man is rewarded according to his deserts, and offices are filled by men capable of performing them.”

This was the observation made by a Flemish nobleman Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq concerning the Ottoman court under the reign of Suleyman the Magnificient approximately around the 1550s.

In an age where feudalism and lordship still reign in much of the rest of the Europe, his account of the meritocratic nature of the Ottoman court and bureaucracy must have been nothing short but revolutionary from his point of view.

It was a system of governance which effectively pools, recruits and promotes the best of talents it has at its disposal.

It was thus a resilient and organic society which is able to continually adapt and re-invent itself to face the challenges and obstacles that comes in its way.

It was also a flexible society where one can simply rise through the rank to hold the top offices solely by virtue of one’s merits and achievements.

It was a system that ensures transparency, equal opportunity and fairness in all levels of the government, freeing it from the worries of corruption and favouritism.

Privileges must be earned, rather than born with.

It was meritocracy at its best - genuine, consistent and honest; not patchy or half-hearted.

Whilst the rest of Europe - mired with feudal infighting and sucession feuds - stagnates, the Ottoman Empire steadily propels itself forward, its fundamental framework being continually rejuvenated with fresh talents.

I believe that this was one of the main reasons for their long-lived empire; their ability to refashion and remould themselves to suit the demands of the time.

Their bold insight to place more importance on merits and abilities rather than birthrights or privileges was a masterful stroke which firmly cements their dominant role in world affairs of the time.

Why then did the empire finally crumble in the early 1920s?

I believe that one factor which contributed to their slow decline was their failure to re-invent themselves with respect to the other modern Western powers of that time, through a unfortunate mix of complacency, ignorance and incompetency.

They failed to catch up and put themselves ahead in the steady march towards modern progress in the early 20th century, eventually losing out and its territories ravenously carved up by the other Western powers.

The Ottoman Empire then gained the infamous nickname ‘The Sick Man of Europe’, signifiying just how much it has degenerated since the golden era of Pax Ottomana.

It is a path that many empires and nations have trodden - but no one seemed to take the time to pause and take heed of its dangers.

How history must be laughing at mankind for our follies…

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

of elections and promises

The thing about being a leader is that you have to accomplish two things:
You have to ensure that the basic tasks of the organization you are leading are being executed smoothly by preserving its fundamental existential roles and niche.
You will also need to aspire to elevate the organization to higher standards or set the organization on a new trajectory.
The succesful execution of the latter rests heavily on an effectual maintainance of the former.
An organization could never hoped to scale greater heights if it decides to abandon the very reasons it was founded.
Indeed, those who tried to grasp the unreachable too far, too soon, too hastily will only end up falling flat on their faces.
Good night and good luck.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

know your place, minister!

It has been widely established that Malaysian politicians suffer from the foot-in-mouth disease in one form or the other, but the following might just be the worst we have seen so far:

Tengku Adnan: Bloggers are Liars
80% are Unemployed Women
updated:2007-03-08 20:11:32: MYT

(Kuala Lumpur) The Tourism Minsiter Tunku Adnan lashed out today (Mar 8, 2007) that all bloggers on the Internet are liars, out of which 80% are unemployed women.

“All bloggers are liars, they cheat people using all kinds of methods. From my understanding, out of 10,000 unemployed bloggers, 8,000 are women.”

Tengku was addressing the media at the 2007 Malaysia GP Sales when he was asked about allegations made on a blog by a female TV presenter. The guests present were shocked at first, but burst into laughter.

He said he may lose some female voters but did not retract his statement or indicate that he was just joking.

He said that bloggers spread rumours, disrupt social harmony and many bloggers are slanderous and are cheating people with their blogs.

“All bloggers are not in favour of national unity. Our country has been successful because we are very tolerant with each other, if not, there will be civil war, the Malays will kill the Chinese, the Chinese will take revenge and kill the Malays, and the Indian will kill everyone.”

He urged the rakyat not to simply trust bloggers, and gamble our future away because the achievement we gain in the 50 years of independence is not an easy task.

“We have to show the world our positive attitude, if the world learn to be as tolerant as us, the world will be peaceful, without war or civil war.”

He said that the tourism ministry has been promoting the country for the rakyat’s benefit, not just to benefit his own ministry.

He stressed that the Malaysian tourism industry is now in a critical moment as the competition from the neighbouring countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines will be stiffer and Malaysia must respond proactively.

I am not sure what was he hoping to achieve by making such sweeping and irresponsible generalizations.

Fine, he might upset over the allegations made by the female presenter but even then, I felt that he was way out of line in his response.

How could someone so high up in the Government be content with making such blatant statements without pausing for a second to consider its rammifications?

What good could come out by demonizing the entire blogging community, especially by zeroing in on the female bloggers?

And what on earth was the talk of "civil war" and of "the Malays will kill the Chinese etc." all about?

Does he think that the rakyat are so immature and irrational that without the benevolence and firm guiding hand of the Government, the country will quickly degenerate into civil war?

I am not sure whether I should be more insulted over the fact that he views bloggers as disruptive agents bent on tearing the country apart or that he feels that the rakyat are so myopic that they will immediately jump at the chance to attack each other if given the chance.

His statements are denigrating, intellectually lazy and offensive. Period.

There is no way he could discreetly back out, feigned ignorance or - most creatively - accuse the blogger community of twisting what he said.

This time, he had gone too far, too deep.

How about the bit about "civil war" and "the Malays killing the Chinese etc."?

Well, you are putting words in my mouth, Minister!

But I guess this statement of his qualifies as one of the "proactive" measures Malaysia has to take to woo more tourists and face off competition from other countries?

I simply cannot wait to see the outcome then - should be thrilling.