27 April 2011

An inordinate fondness for kapcai

I got my first motor-kapcai after completing my SPM in 1985. It was not because I wanted to join the indigenous mat rempit and terorizing the folk along Jalan Pasir Panjang by 'rempiting' all the way to Bandar KT but simply because I got bored waiting for the offer letter from our local 'menara gading' and have nothing productive to do in order to fill in the void. Those time the word 'rempit' was hardly heard of and biking was still considered a healthy and safe activity because the road was less congested, the lipat kijang skill was well mastered and for some freak reasons it seemed that most kaki motor possessed a 9-cat-life.

The motor-kapcai was a Yamaha Y80 of which I bought (partly subsidized by my father) from my cousin, who upgraded to RXZ 135 which had just hit the market. Instantly the kapcai became the joy of my life. Pantai Batu Burok became my regular lepak place almost every afternoon with my other motor kaki. Occasionally I cruised along the beach alone just to feel the salty breeze slap gently on my face before settling down to stare at the the seafarers passing by in the horizon while enjoying the heavenly keropok lekor. The original keropok lekor and not the one so elastic and jawbreakingly hard which tasted and smelled like a selipar Jepun.

It didn't take that long before my curiosity got the best of me and the kapcai underwent some major cosmetic adjustment and minor body surgery. Under the srong influence of my younger brother and Eddie Lawson's achievement as the world champion in motorcycle Grand Prix, a new 'exzos potong' was fitted to to give the kapcai some distinctive sound identity, a new and bigger piston was dumped into the bored-engine and different size of sprockets were experimented to transform this timid machine into a super-kapcai. The best modification in my opinion that made this super-kapcai looked a Grand Prix worthy was the excessive addition of Nolan stickers onto the body parts.

Despite all the illegal modifications by my father's standard, I'd only involved with only a few minor accidents. One that I clearly remember was that fateful Saturday morning, I sped off with my super-kapcai for my weekly town tour and in such hurriedness and rocket-speed I forgot that the previous day the main road that lead into my kampung was loosely tarred. For a while I think I could easily become a stuntman. The other unforgettable accident involved a cat that had clearly no civic-minded who jaywalked and crossed the road without looking left and right. Luckily both the victims survived with only minor scratches.

My intimate relationship with my super-kapcai continued and flourished further to the ivory tower in Bangi. That was the time when 'Fansasia bulan madu' was the no. 1 hit in my local pop chart and soup ekor and daging merah became a food of envy to any students who didn't have any mode of transportation to reach makeshift kedai tomyam at Bandar Baru Bangi (BBB fasa 1). The distinctive supersonic sound from my exzos potong that echoed nicely in between the hill and Pejabat Pentadbiran UKM had in many occasion caused some dispute among the varsity's Pak guards. Not until they banned the motorbikes from entering the campus which almost caused another student riot that put the end to any sound pollution in the campus.

At the end of my campus year, I was very proud to say that my super-kapcai was still a virgin. During the first 4 semesters not a single awek was shuttled here and there around the campus on my super-kapcai simply because having an awek on a 80cc kapcai (even though a super-kapcai) didn't look cool at all. It was a misfit and considered a taboo and unacceptable by my kaki motor.

My allegiance with my campus kaki motor however was tested to its limit and about to be broken when I entered my third year and some unexpected turn of events happened along the way. I was totally taken off-guard and it happened all of a sudden. Suddenly my teropong iman was activated and I smelled flowers all around me.

But that was another long and interesting story to tell.

14 April 2011

Acid rain for bloggers-funded project

Any piece of information that could save life or improve our quality of life can be considered as important. I consider the information in the form of a bar chart above is very important as it could change our life and the way we interact with nature. I didn't realize its importance until one day I took that piece of bar chart information back home, discussed the finding a little bit with my significant half over dinner, digested the fact halfheartedly, went to bed and had an unforgetable nightmare about the consequences we are about to face in the years to come. Naturally being a self-professed scientist I decided to jot it down in this blogosphere in hoping that this piece of eye-opener may perhaps assist my blogger friends to take some 'iktibar' and probably some preventive measures in facing our bleak future.

In the wake of Japan's nuclear crisis and all the uncertainties that are looming in the air, our weather is responding and continuously changing to match the temperamental tempo of it's surrounding. Nevertheless most of the environmental changes so far seem quite adverse and not so kind to humankind. With all the exaggeration, I predict by the time we achieve our Wawasan 2020 almost everybody in Bolehland will be hairless and more iresisistable than Kojak, suffering constant severe migraine or probably having burn and dented scalp with some holes here and there up our pinnacle.

The reason I come to this concluding remark because the water that is pouring down from the sky kingdom is getting more and more acidic by my acceptable standard (look at the chart - the lowest pH so far is 4.29). It is just like someone up there who happens to suffer osteoporosis and eat load and load of lemon then piss down on you. I don't mind if the taste is like lemon but this one is no way near even the dreadful cough syrup. That data by the way came from the rain that was collected for almost a month perioud at my own office backyard, a place that is surrounded with all the lush green and the air is considerably thin as compare to the other less 'green' area.

Since then I have been thinking. My thought has nothing to do though with my noble idea of converting hujan batu into hujan emas (supposedly to be a top secret project) but it has everything to do with our daily life and future generation. I am thinking and taking the initiative to start a small blogger-orientate project just for the sake of scientific curiosity and a little bit of fun where at the end of the day everybody who participate can also claim themselves a true mother-earth guardian angel.

Thus I am calling all my blogger friends from all over Bolehland to enthusiastically contribute to this small but meaningful project. The idea is to have rain samples from various part of Bolehland so we get a general idea on the severity of this pressing issue or how fast we will become another Kojak. This project will at most take one month (depending on the rainfall). What you have to do is simply send me some water of the rain samples from you own backyard and I will collate the data and churn the results and present it in this virtual realm for us to discuss further. I cannot promise any monetary reward to any good Samaritans out there who are going to participate in this ambitious project but an illustrated presentation of simple correlation between different geographical representative is guaranteed.

If you are interested to be part of this interesting project that perhaps change the course of human history, please email me your address and I will send you a simple sample collecting SOP (standard operating procedure).

Any taker out there?

05 April 2011

The story of hujan batu and hujan emas

I was at first quite reluctant to publish this rather peculiar 'letter'. The letter that was circulated through e-mails and probably spread widely in all underworld domain as chain letters way back in 2009 could get me or anyone who read and circulate it into trouble. Firstly, this may look as very un-patriotic and secondly thousand of nasi-lemak-eating nation after reading this shocking revelation will most probably jump the gun and start the mass migration to the promise lands. The worst thing is, I could be labeled as a person or one of the persons who are forever complaining and whining like an ungrateful clown. Nobody like a whiner, even a clown.

However, as I had some limited experience living in the UK for 4 years and now staying in our beloved Bolehland probably until the end of my day, I found the truth is agonizingly hard to digest. That was because I had just finished a plate of nasi lemak without the normal teh tarik to flush everything down into my gut. After contemplating the fact that this is very relevant to the daily life of every breathing soul in Bolehland and looking at the standard of living we are facing now, so my blogger friends and just to be fair to the original author I enclosed below the above-mentioned letter as original as it is without any editing whatsoever so that I don't distort anybody's mind.

p/s: Read only if you have ample time or when you are not watching any telenovellas. With all the seriousness, this piece of information needs you to think, reflect and re-think and probably realize at the end of the day nothing can be done. I however do not take any responsibility if after reading this very important information, you start to pack everything and buy a ticket to London.


Life as a Malaysian

The cost of living in each country (especially UK and Europe) based on what you earn in the respective country and whether the standards are higher than in Malaysia.

I tried to point out that many Malaysians always convert and that is why they say the UK is expensive. In fact, the cost of living is much cheaper than in Malaysia.

In actual fact, Malaysians are being conned because for such a rich and resource rich country, the pay in Malaysia is way too low compared to the cost of living and inflation.

One good example is Singapore.

Singaporean’s (average) earns around S$3000 to S$4000 and nearly everything is half the price of Malaysia. E.g. Clothes, computer parts, electronics etc.

But the average Malaysian still earns RM2000 plus and goods are double the price of Singapore. This is the same as the UK. If you earn around 2000 pounds, you can liken this to the person earning RM$2000 in Malaysia. I give you some examples below. Maybe you can understand.

1) Good terrace house

It is more or less the same. If you want a house in KL, it would most probably be in Puchong and not Damansara Heights. So your house would be RM200,000. In UK, you can get a decent new house in Zone 6 (still within the tube) for 200,000 pounds.

If non London, you can get a nice house also for less than 200,000 pounds outside London. The same also applies to buying a house in Seremban, Kajang etc. You can buy a nice house for RM200,000 below.

So buying a house is the same for the local and the Malaysian. Renting a place is the same too or maybe cheaper than in Malaysia (I am Not sure of this). A 2-bedroom flat in London is about 750 pounds (Zone 2). 500 pounds outside Zone 6 but still able to commute to London. A 2-bedroom house in Nottingham is 450 to 500 pounds. A 3-bedroom house in Belfast is about 300 pounds.

2) A car

A good Wira is RM55,000. Most Malaysians have to take 7-year loans and be in debt all the time. If you are earning RM2000 a month, you take nearly 3 years saving the RM2000 with not eating at all just to buy a Wira.

In UK, the average local earns about 2000 pounds. He saves 3 months, he can buy outright a good Ford Fiesta or a Vauxhall Corsa without being in debt. If buying a second hand car, even better. A 1990 Mercedes 190E cost 500 pounds. My 1996 Mercedes E220 cost 2000 pounds. My friend just gave me his 1989 Honda Accord (Auto) for free because he said he could only get 30 pounds for it.

I used it for a few months and decided to give it of for free too. That alone speaks for itself. Even if you are kuli or an office boy, you still can drive a Mercedes or a BM. Yes, kuli’s and office boy’s get paid quite well.

Average temp/office boy in London can earn about 7 to 10 pounds and hour. Overtime is 1.5 times or double. A brick-layer can earn 20 pounds an hour.The same Indon who lays bricks in Malaysia earns RM$50 for the whole day.

Before I became a doctor, I used to be an office boy and I earned near 300 pounds a week working about 70 hours a week. My makan was 30 pounds a week. My rent was 70 pounds a week for a room but I still drove a BMW back then. I bought the 10-year old BMW 3 Series car for 200 pounds. Amazing how an office boy can drive a safe and luxurious car.

3) Petrol.

For a UK person earning 2000 pounds, 89.7 pence a litre/gallon is cheaper than RM1.92 paid in Malaysia. If you don’t convert, it is like paying 90 sen a litre in Malaysia

4) Shopping

20 pounds (which is 1% of 2000 pounds) can buy you 1 week’s worth of groceries in Tesco. RM$100 (which is 10% of RM$2000) can also buy you 1 week’s worth of groceries in Tesco, Giant or Carrefour.

5) Utility Bills

(This is what I pay in UK)

1. Virtually non-stop heating the whole day only 20 pounds a month. Only 1% of the 2000 pounds earned)

2. Electricity, I use my electricity maximum only 20 pounds a month.(Only 1% of the 2000 pounds earned)

3. My water bill also comes to about 20 pounds a month (Only 1% of the 2000 pounds earned)

4. My Internet ? I get 2Mbps for about 25 pounds (Bulldog DSL) (Also slightly above 1% of the 2000 pounds earned)

5. Astro Equivalent (NTL cable or Sky) ? 30 pounds per month (Also slightly above 1% of the 2000 pounds earned)

In Malaysia, this is what I used to pay

1. Tenaga Bill comes to RM$200 to RM300 a month with 3 air-cons. This

is more than 10% of the RM$2000 earned)

2. Water (Puas) comes to RM$40 (This is about 2% of the RM$2000 earned)

3. Astro RM$100 (if you take Chinese package) (This is about 5% of the RM$2000 you earn)

4. Internet Streamyx 512K RM 88 per month (This is about 5% of RM2000 you earn)

6) Books

A good book is about 10 to 15 pounds in the UK. This is less than 1% of The 2000 pounds you earn. In Malaysia, you have to spend RM$75 to RM$100 for a decent book in MPH or Kinokuniya in KLCC. This is about 5% of the RM2000 ringgit you earn.

7) Education

I think it is about RM$20,000 per year to do a degree in Sunway Monash and about RM$12,000 per year to send your kid to UM, UKM, USM etc. I am not sure about this.

But in UK, it is only 3000 pounds a year to send your kid to a great university. That also, the white man still makes a lot of noise because The grants were taken away. Previously, it was virtually free for the English man to send his kid to university but now, since the grant was taken away, he has to spend 3000 pounds per year to send his kid to university and less money to get drunk in the pub.

Well, if you are earning RM$2000 ringgit, sending your kid to UM to study is quite difficult. If you are earning 2000 pounds per month, you can easily send you kid to university in the UK.

8) Luxuries

Panasonic Plasma TV in Malaysia about RM20,000. If you are earning RM$2000 a month, memang mahal! You have to save 2 years your monthly salary to buy it. In UK, the same Panasonic ironically, Panasonic plasma is made in Japan and Japan is close to Malaysia, so the plasma should be cheaper in Malaysia) is only 2000 pounds. And this is only 10% of the 2000 pounds earned.

9) Health

NHS is free. Though the service is slow, quality is still there. You still can get a top quality by-pass for free although you may have to wait many months. In Malaysia, IJN charges RM$30,000. SJMC charges RM$50,000. GH is free but as many people know, GH and UH have clown doctors.

10) Assessments to local councils

I may pay high council tax but at least my council assures my streets are clean and safe, got no holes (pot holes) on my roads, and they jump and attend to me whenever I call them. When I stayed in Malaysia, I paid my assessment and quite rent but MPSJ (I lived in Subang) told me to “podah” whenever I asked them to come and fill up the pot holes, cut the long lalang, put street lighting etc.

The councils, especially MPPJ and MPSJ, were more interested in eating Nasi lemak and going for 10 teh tariks in a day during office hours and hardly did anything for their residents.

11) Income Tax

My national insurance and income tax also is not wasted. When I was unemployed in 1997, the government via social security paid for my 2-bedroom flat for one whole year and I was given about 100 pounds per week for me and my wife to live on. I am happy to know that one day if I lose my job, I can still claim social security and get my apartment paid and food to eat again for free. It is a good security to know.

All, the list goes on. Here alone you can see, the sterling they earn goes a long way in the UK. So their quality of life is far better in the UK than a Malaysian in Malaysia. It is just that Malaysians are just too content with what they have. But you compare apple for apple. The British just love to complain. They have it made but still they love To complain. Nothing is good enough for the British. The government gives the citizens so much but they still seem to want more and more.

Written by,

Dr Zain Azrai

(update : Somebody pointed out some of the sentences has been 'doctored' from the original script (which later I figured out the reason). Amended)


What say yu mi fren?
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