Tuesday, June 29, 2010

FIFA World Cup Post III

The Sorrow of England

English football fans are heartbroken. So are many fans in Malaysia.

English Premier League is the most popular football league in this country. Malaysian football fans love English stars such as Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard (though probably not Wayne Rooney). Perhaps because of that, they extend their love to England team. And they felt sad when England was knocked out of World Cup.

England was beaten by Germany 4-1. This was its worst defeat in World Cup. As expected, fingers were pointed at Capello, the coach. There were already some critics who suggested that he should step down. But seriously, how many coaches England has had in the last few years? My records go as far back as Eriksson. He was replaced by McLaren, who in turn was replaced by Capello. Coaches come and go, but England continues to flop.

I am no pundit, but I think fans and critics alike should look at other factors as well. Were English players suffered from burnout following long season of playing at club level? Does England have a comprehensive system to recruit and nurture young talents?

Now, I am bringing up a crazy idea. I know this is blasphemous. But imagine this: If the four regions of the United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland form a unified team…

Sunday, June 27, 2010

FIFA World Cup Post II

What has an England flag got to do with Thai Cuisine?

Nasi kandar isn’t American food!

Well, it looks like World Cup fever has invaded the KLCC food court…

= = =

Japan vs. South Korea

No, Japan and South Korea are not facing each other in FIFA World Cup. But in a sense, the two nations are competing with each other.

Korean Peninsula was under the harsh rule of Japan before the latter was defeated in World War II. While it has been 65 years since the Land of the Morning Calm gained independence, its people have remained hostile to their former colonizers until today.

On the other hand, few Japanese born after the War knew their history well. Korean TV stars are hugely popular in the Land of the Rising Sun. Unfortunately, good will of the post-war Japanese has failed to melt the ice, or put out the fire, on the other side of Sea of Japan. (Koreans refer to Sea of Japan as East Sea.)

World Cup provides a venue for the Koreans to vent their anger. They want to progress further than the Japanese…

South Korea has already been knocked out in Round of 16. Will the Japanese outlast them? We will know the answer very soon…

Saturday, June 26, 2010


日前观看世界杯西班牙对智利一赛。第24分钟,智利守门员冲出禁区欲拦截对方球员。西班牙前锋David Villa40码外劲射,球入网成10

Villa,星洲日报译为维拉。但球赛评述员把该名射脚的名字唸着为 wee yar。我在美国加州时学过几句西班牙语,知道 ll 的读音是和 y 相似。假设Villa是西班牙名,则译为维亚会更佳。(当然西班牙也有少数民族,他们的语文或许有不同的拼音。)



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

FIFA World Cup Post

Hopping on the World Cup bandwagon:

Inside a mamak store:

Not exactly a huge fan, but I have been following the matches of World Cup so that I have some topic to talk/write about. As I haven’t subscribed to Astro, I decided to watch the matches in mamak stores.

Since the tournament started, I went to mamak stores many times. There, I ate food which was very oily and spicy. I had also inhaled much cigarette smoke. I think World Cup is bad for my health…

= = =

Considered this:

China is a sports giant. It is very strong in such events as table tennis, badminton, diving, swimming, weight-lifting and volleyball. The Middle Kingdom topped the Medal Table in Beijing Olympic 2008.

Football is hugely popular in China. The country has the single largest audience in the world. Why do you think FIFA wants to play some of the World Cup matches at 1.30pm South African time, or 7.30pm Beijing time?

But the Dragon is absent in South Africa. In fact, China has only qualified to World Cup finals once, back in 2002, when it lost all matches in group stage without scoring a goal.

Can someone please explain why the Middle Kingdom has persistently underachieved in football?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What Makes a Good Picture?

Blogger Mei Teng asked this question in her post:

What makes a great picture?

At first I wanted to drop comment. Then I decided to give my opinion in a separate post. But I will re-phrase the question to:

What makes a good picture?

It really depend what types of pictures we are referring to, and which level.

On basic level, landscape and portrait photography is about exposure and composition.

Documentary-type pictures, such as those you see in National Geographic, must be able to convey message. Exposure and composition, though still important, take back seat.

For portrait photography, at a higher level, aesthetic becomes important. How the subjects pose, how they dress – all these will make a break a picture.

Theme is another factor to consider. Here, there are portrait shooting events held from time to time whereby we invite beautiful models to pose for us. Some photographers will sign up if they like – read: are attracted to – the models. But for me, more important than the models is the theme.

Take, for example, the event I joined in April. The theme was: The Violinist. No doubt, the model is pretty, but my shots would be more boring without that piece of music instrument. (Click here to see more photos.)

Of course, these are my views as a lousy photographer. As my skills improve, I may have different ideas.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Kota Kinabalu, and my Return Flight

This is a road in Kota Kinabalu. It’s called Jalan Dua Puluh 3.

But why is it written as Jalan Dua Puluh 3, and not Jalan Dua Puluh Tiga or Jalan 23? (For the uninitiated, Dua Puluh means twenty three in Malay.)

There is another road in the city – a larger one – called Jalan Dua Puluh. Not sure if the two roads were related in one way or another. However, I didn’t see Jalan Dua Puluh 1 or Jalan Dua Puluh 2.

Maybe someone familiar with the city could explain to us the origin of the road…

= = = = = = = =

When I flew back from Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Lumpur on May 23, 2010, AirAsia’s computer system was down for several hours. Check-in process was done manually, and I waited one hour before I was served. The counter could not issue computer-generated boarding pass. Instead, I was given a hand-written boarding pass, as shown in the picture.

As you might expect, the flight was delayed. The plane left the terminal at 7.20pm, being 50 minutes late.

The plane finally took off. I was hungry, and wanted to have my dinner. Since AirAsia was a budget airline, meal was not complimentary, but had to be bought separately. Disappointingly, the cabin crew announced that the plane was running out of food. All they had were cup noodle and chocolate bars, and drinks. Not interested in the ‘snacks’, I decided to starve until I reach destination. But the stewardess was still trying to persuade me to spend my hard-earn money. “Aren’t you hungry?” she asked. WTF.

The flight was definitely not a pleasant one, but I had no complaint. At least I reached home safely…

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The End of Cheap MIC Goods

Nope, the MIC I refer to in the subject line is not Malaysian Indian Congress. It means Made in China.

There were two big news for Apple fans recently – one good and the other bad. The good news was Apple had announced the much-awaited iPhone 4. The bad news was that Foxconn, the company which made iPhone in China, had agreed to raise the wages of its workers by as much as 66%.

Foxconn’s factory in China had been criticized as sweatshop following spates of suicide attempts among the workers. To appease the workers, and to repair image, the contract manufacturer was forced to hike the wages. This essentially means the cost for making iPhone will increase. Ultimately the higher cost will be passed on to the consumers. Expect higher price for iPhone.

But Foxconn was not the only company to have faced with higher cost issue. Honda also had to increase the wages of its employees in China after they staged a walkout. Eventually, factories workers in the Middle Kingdom will demand better pay and better working condition. In the next few years, expect everything made in China – from iPhones to DVD players to fridge magnets – to sell for higher price.

In long run, multi-national companies may move their production lines to still cheaper countries such as Vietnam or Cambodia. Until then, tighten your belt.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Japan that you never know

My company purchased a piece of equipment from Japan. It didn’t function properly, so we made an urgent call to the vendor. The vendor sent the technical manager, Imai-san, to Malaysia. To our surprise, Imai-san came without bringing a notebook computer. “How is he going to perform his duty?” we thought.

A few weeks later, the sales manager, Nakano-san, came to our office. We asked him why Imai-san didn’t have a computer with him when he was in Malaysia. Nakano-san explained that they need approval before they could use a computer outside the company. They were concerned about possible leak of confidential information.

“If we lose our computers, we could be fired!” Nakano-san did a cut-throat gesture.

“Doesn’t Japan practice lifetime employment?” I asked.

“No, thing has changed.”

Security was top concern in this Japanese kaisya. Its employees were not allowed to use instant messaging or even thumb drive! They were also forbidden from downloading files from third party servers such as those provided by Rapidshare.

I am not sure if such rules are common among Japanese corporate. While these rules ensure that security is not compromised, the downside is that they present obstacles to day-to-day operation. Japan was an economic powerhouse back in 1980s, but started to decline since 1990s. Today, over-regulated Japanese companies may find it difficult to adapt to fast changing world.

No all are bad news though. Lifetime employment is a history now. Employers can lower cost by reducing the number of staff; Employees who are unhappy in one company can look for greener pastures elsewhere. Those who are entrepreneurial may even start their own businesses. Furthermore, a few Japanese companies already have foreigners in top management positions. Carlos Ghosn is doing well with Nissan. Sony has also hired Howard Stringer as CEO (though the electronic giant is still struggling.) These foreign talents should help to revamp the corporate culture.

The Land of the Rising Sun has seen its sun setting for too long. Can it bounce back?

Japan’s salaryman – End of lifetime employment?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

2-in-1 Beauty


I would like to call you attention to the websites of a beautiful Chinese lady. Her name is Jolie Luo (罗曉韻). And here are the URL of her sites:



To quote a word I learned from the Web, Jolie likes to ‘camwhore’. On her webpages, you would see lots of pictures of this pretty woman. Given her good look and good expression, she makes a great model.

However, Jolie is different from other online exhibitionists in one important way: She took all the portraits herself. In other words, she is the model cum photographer.

Jolie lives in Chongqing, China. She picked up photography from her father since she was young. How does she take her own portraits? Sometimes she uses self-timer and/or remote control of the camera. Sometimes she asks her friends to press the shutter button. When she travels, she may ask strangers for help.

Jolie has also published a book. It is well-written. I recommend it all every woman who wants to do self-portrait – provided that you read Chinese.

Jolie’s book:


Sunday, June 06, 2010

Cameron Highlands revisited

I visited Cameron Highlands recently. Here are a few photos for sharing…

Tea plantation:

Café overlooking the tea plantation:



I didn’t know rosemary was a kind of plant:

This was my fourth visit to Cameron since Dec 2004. My third visit was in February 2008. I noticed that a lot more buildings had been constructed since then.

Cameron Highlands can be very crowded during long holidays. The greedy local council, wanting to attract more tourists and generate more taxes, had approved construction of many hotels. (And there was probably corruption involved.) Unrestrained development had taken a toll on the fragile environment. Malaysians and Singaporeans flock to Cameron Highlands to escape the heat on the lowland, but I could feel mercury rising up there too.

Cameron Highlands is the victim of its own success…

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Tourism China & Chinese Tourists

In my last post, I wrote about my trip to Manukan Island. I was surprised to find many tourists from China. A young girl, upon setting foot on the jetty, said this: It’s really beautiful! (实在太美了!)

Chinese tourists are demanding, fussy and highly patriotic. It is not easy to satisfy them. But the Chinese girl expressed her feeling in an emotional tone. I knew she meant it. To be sure, Manukan Island was not the best in Malaysia.

Being a vast country with thousand years of history, China is itself a popular tourist destination. It has something for almost everyone. Like nature? Huangshan 黄山, Jiuzhaigou 九寨沟 and the Silk Road are world famous. Interested in history? The Middle Kingdom has the Great Wall and Forbidden City. Fascinated by exotic culture? China has 56 ethnics. And, of course, when a man check in to a hotel, he would receive a call in the evening, with someone purring, “Sir, do you need a girl?” (先生,你要小姐吗?)

But there is something China lacks: idyllic islands with fine beaches. That probably explains why the Chinese tourist was so excited when she saw the blue water of Manukan.