Monday, March 27, 2006

Free Food

We had our annual Petronas briefing on Saturday morning. Lunch was superb because it was a buffet and also because Fara and I sat right in front of the dessert counter. It was also quite fun seeing everyone looking all smart and preppy. Shouldn't have worn a white shirt though...some lady thought I was a waiter or something.

Hasnain won the best dressed prize in my books. He wore this really old skool tie which actually belonged to someone else's grand dad.
Henry's one of the smartest people I know. Not many people know this but he's actually a robot.

Hajar's someone I've known from high school. a superb dancer and singer. Siti Nurhaliza with an engineering degree. It's quite a blurry shot but I thought she looked quite hot so... yeah. [I really cannot describe Vivien. She's FULL of surprises.]

Nadia's my French classmate. Without her, I would have dropped out of French class a long time ago.

Dinner at Belgo's

Jason and I I think I look retarded here but since Jason NEVER visits, I thought I'd pay homage to his visit by putting up a picture of him.
Farara and Tao
Adrian, Ju Ni, Fara and one third of Tao

Friday, March 24, 2006

This is a Malaysian-created online magazine for aspiring creative writers. I must confess that I haven't actually read anything that's been sent in. But they just started a blog and when I checked it out this morning they had an interesting entry on writing essays. Good stuff. Check it out here.

News Summary III

Today's weather in London was really sunny and I managed to go out for a run. Well I did walk up that final bit of Primrose Hill since I'm allergic to inclined slopes. And maybe I should say 'jog' and not 'run' since I actually go quite slowly. Maybe 'brisk walk which looks like a jog'. Hmm.

  1. BA is increasing the retirement age of its workers to tackle its pension fund deficit. Cabin crew and pilots will have their compulsory retirement age increased from 55 to 60 years old. According to BA, there are airlines who have pilots above the age of 60 still flying aircraft. That's disturbing.
  2. Car prices in Malaysia will be reduced starting next week as the government announced a new duty structure in the National Automotive Policy. Although we're going to get cheaper Peroduas, Protons and possibly Honda Citys and Nissan Centras, the Malaysian Automotive Association president expects the price of MPVs, 4WDs and SUVs to increase under the new structure.

If I'm right, middle class white collar workers will be the social group who will predominantly benefit from this. That's great. Another ten million drivers on Jalan Ampang. I'm not really irked by the potential rise in prices for 4WDs and SUVs.

I am slightly concerned about the MPVs. Here's the way I see it: MPVs are owned by lower income families with lots of kids to ferry around. You're more likely to see people driving home alone in their 4-seater Protons rather than in a 7-seater MPV, no? Additionally, what about small businesses who need MPVs for transporting goods?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

News Summary II

Today has been quite busy but I managed to get some Game Theory done and finish an article I'm writing.

  1. Checked out Gordon Brown's 2006 budget and it looks like the cost of cigarettes, wine and beer is going to rise. I wonder if there'll ever be a tax on ice cream or chocolate. Or coffee. He's allocating more money to education which I think is a really good idea although David Cameron did point out that he's not really doing much for the NHS despite the fact that it's been wrecked with budgeting problems for a long time. My guess is that he's trying to reinforce Tony Blair's legacy of education reform. The UK's share of national income spent on education is still less than what the US spends.

I can't emphasise further on how much I value education and how pivotal I see it in determining the progressive development of a society. More money spent on schools, research and educational programs is money very, very well spent. There has been a lot of emphasis on science and mathematics in this year's budget.

It would be good if there was some focus on the arts as well, however. Someone reminded me recently that it's culture and the arts that influence society. If you don't keep this scene alive and thriving, not only will you lose your cultural heritage, you'll also lose your sense of identity because you're out of touch with your roots.

If you don't develop this scene, I would suppose that present day effects would be a repressed society in which people are unable to express themselves as well as a loss of character within that society as a whole.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

News Summary

Since I'll be having my interview this Sunday, I thought I'd make a bigger effort than usual in terms of keeping up to date with the news.

So here are the bits of news that I've read today:

  1. Petronas will be hosting the 11th Annual Asia Oil and Gas Conference in June.
  2. The ringgit appreciates against the dollar –a new high since the peg was dropped in July. Note to the non-economics student: appreciate = good; depreciate =bad. American dollars are now cheaper which means that a trip to Disneyland is cheaper now compared to last year.
  3. Labour revealed 12 of their campaign funders –among them Lord David Sainsbury, former supermarket mogul who was appointed as Science Minister in 1998. This has been due to investigations on the Labour party as to whether it has offered Lordships to wealthy businessmen in exchange for large loans. Conservatives have been pressed to reveal similar information but David Cameron has refused so far. He's probably not too keen on revealing financial deals which took place before he became head of the party.

Not too sure how the last bit is going to help but oh, well.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Hanging out at VUE

I'm playing with Picasa right now. Tock recommended it to Tao a long time ago but I just downloaded the program half an hour ago. We went to watch Lucky Number Slevin on Saturday which I also recommend. Had about an hour to kill before the movie started so we hung out at the lounge area. Check out Emily in the bottom left picture.

Dinner on Friday

Viv, Nicola and Ning
Becky, Viv and Michelle
Ming and I
We are full.
We went to the Queen's Head & Artichoke, this gastropub near Great Portland Street tube station. Dinner was pretty good: the ribeye steak and risotto that we had for our main was amazing. The tapas weren't that amazing but one of our desserts -the triple chocolate tart with strawberry ice cream hit the spot.
Later on, Viv, Nicole and I went to watch Syriana which I highly recommend especially to all Petronas people who are having their interview this weekend.

MIC Hall Party

Dec and Constantina
Yew Kuan and Su En
They were having a who-has-the-biggest-eyes competition. I think Su En won.

Coke Ad Models: Ben, Dec and Riz

Mr Kenya

Our hall party was last Thursday and there was a karaoke session and all. Didn't really spend much time downstairs though as I had an essay to hand in the next day. Food served: Pizza, pasta. Drinks: Coke, beer, wine. Dessert: Dry cake from Sainsbury's, fruits and tiramisu.

Yu Yhong's 16th Birthday

The Birthday Girl
I think Yu Yhong was in denial or something but she invited me to her
16th birthday party at Addie's in Earls Court last Tuesday. I am still quite
convinced that she is 22 now.
Bao Squared and I
Barbara is the cutest ever person I know at LSE. She's full of surprises.
Future LSE Graduates and Kenneth who's showing us how wide his jaw can open
(notice that I'm out of the picture)
Su Yen and Missy Elliot

Sunday, March 12, 2006

World Peace

This was on the front page of The Independent last Thursday.

Francis Fukuyama is this dude who said that since America had emerged as the winner during the Cold War, it should use its powerful position via economic, military and foreign policy means to stay on top forever.He's an American citizen despite having a Japanese name. I'm sure the neocons meant well. If these efforts were successful, they wouldhave been able to maintain (relative) peace on earth forever and more importantly, peace on American terms.

Thinking that your country or any organisation can achieve something like that is clearly very wishful thinking and very arrogant indeed. What gives you the right to dictate to us how a peaceful world should work. Your white man's burden may lead to you violating local cultural norms in the repressed regimes which you try to help.

Secondly, I don't think the world can ever be able to reach a state of utopia in which it ceases to struggle with war and poverty. I think that life on earth is in essence an evolutionary process (note that by this I do not mean a Darwinian-I-am-a-descendant-of-an-ape-process).

If its people do not struggle to survive amongst one another's existence then I suspect that things would feel very complacent and sterile. I'm not war-mongering, I just think that a conflict free world will be one in which its people do not grow and improve.

Peace Out! (Selma Blair in Cruel Intentions-style)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

What I Read over Breakfast

Mood of Kitchen Staff: Tried to avoid them because breakfast time had actually ended two seconds ago. The last time I came down late, they got really grouchy and made me feel like I'd been stealing the cutlery or something.

Managed to grab: Cereal and milk; raspberry jam on toast with butter (lots).

The Guardian: People should really take more pride in their jobs -whatever it is they do.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Malaysian Night

On Saturday, it was Malaysian Night at Imperial College. I was slightly disappointed because they didn't have currypuffs and that green kuih thing which we had last year. No teh tarik either. Although I must say that the batik cake thing was quite good and the Ladurée macaroons which Ju Ni and Adrian bought for Tao (I stole a few) really did hit the spot as a pre-bedtime snack.

I thought this year's storyline was very different from what I'd seen during previous years and I thought that taking that route was a pretty daring thing to do. The dikir barat was amazing. The backdrop -a beautifully painted scene of a small Malaysian town (think: Ipoh) was extremely impressive.

The theme of the play revolved around superstition and the supernatural: a tok bomoh (Malay witch-doctor), a vampire, one of those jumping Chinese ghost types (played by Nicole's brother, Colin, whom quite a number of people thought was quite cute), there was even this Grim Reaper-type guy who was actually a dead char siew fan (roast pork rice) vendor in disguise.

Does anyone know anything about Indian beliefs in the supernatural? As in: what form do their ghosts take if their culture does allow such superstition. I noticed that they missed out that element in the play so I'm just a little curious.

Another person whom people thought was cute was Hasnain, who played the tok bomoh's grand-uncle. He also played in the band with Qi Zhen. The live music this year was better than last year too.

Rather than putting up a Malaysian cultural show for the international community in London, I have noticed that events such as these are more often than not graced by a majority of Malaysians and a handful of their foreign buddies. Sometimes it may feel like this defeats the purpose of holding such events.

But then again, how much do we, as Malaysians know about our culture anyway? One thing good about Malaysian nights like these is that you get to experience the whole Malaysian cultural package. It's like a 3-hour long cuti-cuti Malaysia advert. It's weird how I've
probably seen more cultural dances and heard more Malaysian music during my three years in London than my 19 years in Malaysia.
I suppose some of us can be foreigners in our own homeland without knowing it.


On Friday, I attended this drama production by Singapore Playhouse London. We watched two pretty serious plays, dealing with pretty grim issues like suicide and some sort of political conspiracy. Good stuff...thanks Hui Min!

I've just finished reading Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories. It's a book which Mr Rushdie wrote for his 10-year-old son some time back. It's one of those books which both kids and adults can read. For adults, I suppose if you thought about the storyline you'd probably spot certain contemporary ideas that Mr Rushdie plays around with like suicide bombing, male chauvinism, dictatorial governance etc. I won't give the story away. Let me know if you want to borrow the book. It's a really light read, trust me.

There's this bit near the middle which I thought was quite interesting:

'Oh isn't it?' Blabbermouth shot back. 'That's the trouble with you sad city types you think a place has to be miserable and dull as ditchwater before you believe it's real.'

I think this is true to some extent. There's this idea in International Relations (a module I'm studying this year) that's called realism. Basically a realist believes that the world community is in a state of anarchy and everyone's looking out for their own self-interests. War is unavoidable -it's been happening throughout history and just as human beings argue, states do so too and hence fight each other. Forget My Little Pony, once reality hits you, you're swamped with suicide, corruption, the rat race, divorce, cancer, racism.

It's a pretty pessimistic take on life, I say. And yet, you can't deny that bad things happen. Wars are fought, people die. People do stupid things and people get hurt. Even if you don't want to be a realist, sometimes you can't help it. Why do we associate the phrase real world with that part of life which is difficult, painful and hard. Do we not do the real world discredit when we neglect to mention the happy, idyllic events in life.