Thursday, July 06, 2006

Watching "Cheesy" show to Learn Mandarin

This Taiwanese Drama Series looks promising. It’s got quite high reviews from viewers at these sites (http://www.spcnet.tv/reviews/production.php?sID=5) and (http://us.yesasia.com). Not sure how reliable the sites are in terms of reviews, but it will do for me.

This series fit my criteria for “a Mandarin series to watch in understanding the language and culture better”. It is in a modern setting, it is a popular series among the fans and it has hot cute girls. What better excuse to watch TV!

*sitting in front of TV*
Mom = “why are you in front of the TV for the last 12 hours!!!”
Me = “shhh… studying”
Mom = “what???”
Me = “learning mandarin”
*Me drooling over cute actress*

So, I went ahead and bought the DVD of this series called “Devil Beside You” with subtitle of course…
It’s pretty expensive but it’s ok… hopefully it’s nice and entertaining. We do show Taiwan series in Malaysia TV, it’s just hard to fit my time to watch it so it’s more convenient to just buy and watch whenever I want to.

Finished 5 series within 5 days…. So far so good…. It did manage to get me engage so far…mainly because it is beautifully shot and has great looking actor and actresses…
Lots of eye candy….

However, I have to say that the show has several “cheesy” moments…. Not so bad as the other Taiwanese series (from what I have been told) but it’s there nevertheless.
I am quite a TV addict for American series such as “The Practice”, “L Word”, “OC”, “Lost” just to name a few….and comparing it with those is just no comparison at all.

“Devil Beside You” like many other Taiwanese series lack depth. It had many moments where I just wanted to laugh, not because of the comedy element but because it is so corny and predictable. So much, that it makes it look fake.

I am not talking about the over-acting and extreme cut-scenes because I do know the style of this show is directed in a “Manga” comic kind of way… it’s usually the serious moments in the show that falls short.

Let me show you examples with pictures on what I mean.



This is a scene where the “good guy” has just been turn down by the lead actress in his face….*ouch*…. because she finds the “bad guy” more attractive… so, he walks away.
Of course… the lead actress’s girl friends so happen saw the whole situation (they always seems to be in the right place at the right time) and one of them ran to the “good guy” as he walks away and shouted his name. Our “good guy” turns his head… smile… and walks further away…….

This scene is so typical… girl runs down the hallway and shouts name… guy turns head… smile…. walks further away.

In real sense, shouldn’t the guy response in words? In fact… he isn’t even surprise she knows the whole situation had happened…. I guess this is the director way of making the audience feel the moment….



Here is another scene. See the guy in black? He’s the main actor, the “bad guy” discussing with the girl on the right on some serious matter. See his pose? Yes… this is the “cool” pose. He is always posing like that. Always! Always posing…. Too much that it just gets funny.

See the 2 girls at the background? Yes… like I said… they are always in the right place at the right time. And of course… the coffee shop is usually empty (besides the casts) in moments like this.



A "cheesy" moment…. Girl tells guy she will go out on a date with him if she sees a red umbrella… (Serious! I have no idea why!!!)



In a dramatic moment…. A girl pulls out a red umbrella!!!! (why am I not surprise…)



Girl is happy…. Smile… and runs away. Yes…she runs away saying nothing. They always seem run away saying nothing when they are supposed to say something.

There you go….A small portion of the corny scenes that I have to endure throughout the series. Oh ya… one more thing… they keep repeating the same love song over and over again till it drives you nuts!!!.....

The question to ask is, since I complain so much why do I keep watching? And plan to continue watching and probable hunt for the next Taiwanese series….

Maybe it’s the beautiful way it was film… Watching the show is like looking at a beautiful painting. The show is film in angles and position that depicts a comic and it is full of color and energy.

The actors and actress are gorgeous and engaging. Despite the fact they have to over-act at times, they pull it together really well. It also helps that they give plenty of eye-candy.

Most important of all, it is entertaining. Despite the "cheesy" moments, predictability, over-acting, etc…. it somehow managed to keep me at my sit. This is the thing about these series.... despite its many short comings, it’s still engaging.

Who am I kidding… it’s mainly because of her, singer and main actress Rainie Yang Cheng Lin that kept me at my sit… she is just so adorable.





So, did watching Taiwanese Drama series help to improve my mandarin? ………
I am sure it did in small ways…. But one thing is for sure….. I have definitely developed a fondness and better understanding on Chinese pop culture.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Journey into my culture - The Beginning

It is time to learn mandarin. I have been saying that for the last 5 years and never manage to learn anything beyond saying “hi”, “bye” and “I want a kiss”. I did show initiative in learning that language but it was always short live. I bought CDs that taught me how to speak mandarin and also went for a mandarin class paid by my company but ended up being one of those bad students that skip classes. How I wish I learn mandarin in my early years. It would be great to speak one of the most spoken languages in the world.

To be frank I was never interested in the Chinese culture. That’s why I was never fluent in Cantonese and never able to understand Mandarin except Hokien because I speak at home with my parents. I am what my Chinese peers would call a “banana”, yellow on the outside, white on the inside. I was never really into Chinese culture hence I never really got expose to the mandarin language. I find the Western culture more fascinating and bring better opportunity in terms of growth then what my own culture can offer. Most English speaking people are western cultured and western cultured people are usually view as more educated and knowledgeable even though it may not be true.

However, I have to say that being able to speak and write fluent English is definitely more useful then knowing fluent Mandarin. Well, at least in Malaysia. English speaking people are able to express themselves to a wider audience, read more current books, ... even the internet, which is the biggest source of information in the world is largely in English. Hence, knowing English gets you better jobs and access to the higher society. At least that’s how I feel as Malaysian. It’s probable different in other parts of the world. But the importance of English and the Western culture is unquestionable very prominent thru out the world.

However…. In recent times, my views on Chinese culture have change. Well, I still do think that Chinese TV series are corny and badly directed and Chinese songs are usually copy cats of English or Korean songs but I have a new perspective and respect for my own culture.
Don’t get me wrong into thinking that I do not know much about Chinese culture before my new found fascination. I do know about the rich histories of the Chinese culture and how much the Chinese have contributed to the world in terms of education, economy and R&D. This new fascination comes despite me knowing that.

Maybe because I am bored with all those “Britney Spears” and “Puff Daddy” MTV’s or perhaps it is the emergence of China as an economic superpower and the growth it brings. It is probable both. So, I decided to do a culture education and understanding. To travel into the Chinese culture… To understand it better. It’s not so bad that I don’t understand the culture at all, it is just that I feel I am not immense into it enough.

Example, I don’t understand my mother language which is Mandarin. And knowing ones language is a big step into understand ones culture. Next… I don’t really know the Chinese media industry. Well.. I do listen to the popular Hong Kong artist, but it’s minimal. In my point of view, knowing the media industry helps you greatly in understanding the culture. There’s probable more then just language and media… but that’s the 2 things I will tackle first.

It’s funny that Time magazine just release an article about the attention and importance that the Mandarin language is getting in the global community when I have decided to seriously start (again!) to learn that language. It definitely gave me a moral booster……..

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Cleaning the Drawer

The drawer is just so messy. Not really messy. But just messy. Ok.. I am mumbling here…. So I decided, time to clean up that drawer. It’s part of my “lets be organize and efficient” project. Let’s see how long it will last.

I have thrown away tons of old magazines… magazines with fantastic articles like “2 million IT jobs shortage” or the likes of “Most gorgeous Female 1997”. It’s hard to throw this stuff away. My emotinoal brain keeps telling me, “I might want to show someone this outrageous article” or “I want to see how pretty girls look like in 1997”… But I know I will never look at it.

This is how it’s like for some people (most people I think). Can’t throw stuff away because you think you might want it someday but probable never will. We are usually very emotionally attached to junk more then we did like to think. So, *trash*…. Bye bye old magazines. I guess my logical self finally won over my emotional self.

There are however certain stuff that’s really hard to throw. Arguable, it probable shouldn’t be thrown away at all. What are these “stuff” I am talking about? Most of us will probable have them. I know I have, and I have been reminded of them when I was clearing out my drawer….. Cards, Letters, Pictures and small gifts.

Yes, the stuff your friends gave you when it’s your birthday. The stuff your ex gave you when she/he thinks you are the world to her/him. I was surprise I still had some of these stuff in my drawer. Some that I never remembered till I saw them….

Oh joy, oh joy!!! Let’s go back to memory lane!!! I was excited to read and look at the stuff I was given during my birthday or other special moments. Some dated all the way back to High School…. Looking back at these stuff brings back memories. Memories that makes you laugh, smile, cringe and cry.

These “stuff” are powerful. Why do I say that? Well… it makes you look back at where you were and where you are right now. It makes you think about the things you did. Makes you wonder why you did it. Remembering the people who are significant in your life and question, where are they now? Just a mere letter can make you emotionally different and forces you to reflect back. These are powerful stuff.

Well, I went thru my “stuff” slowly. It’s mostly cards and letters… Reading the things my friends wrote… and why they wrote it. Here is one….

A Chinese New Year card from a gal I have been infatuating since primary school! “Thanks for your $1 card….” Hhahaahaa… It’s hilarious… OK OK… I know,
what’s so funny about that sentence? Well, I remember sending her greeting cards and stating below how much the card cost and what pen I use to write in. Reasons why I did that is not clearly known even by me… Hahahaa… how childish….. However, that’s the wonderful thing. It makes you remember the funny (or childish) things you do and the replies you get.

Here is one from my best of buddy who I still keep in touch..
“Hey pall!! Just thought I’d give you the pictures of yourself. Sorry about the ink mess etc…” dated 4/98…. Looking at the photos….Arrrgggg!!! Horror!!! My eyes!!!!....
Man…I am so ah beng… I mean the hair looks like shit… my shirt is oversize and I am skinny as hell… Thanks buddy for reminding me how horrible I look last time. You know who you are!

Then there are the photos and letters that just bring a smile to your face and tears to your eyes. These are the stuff that really makes you reflect back. Letters, notes, pictures, gifts from your Ex… I couldn’t help but feel a certain sadness…wondering of how things would have turn out if we did things differently, if we met at different stages in our lives. But also a feeling of Joy, for remembering the things that we did and the happiness that we shared.

“Always know that my thoughts are constantly where you are”.... sentence that have meant so much before. Sigh….. But of course, we all might have different feelings when we look back at our live with our Ex. Some might not feel a thing… some just a feeling of hatred… but for some who had a great relationship but ended in rational situations…. You can’t help but feel sad…..

Going thru these “stuff” makes you realize how strong and yet so fragile human connections are. These are people who had share with you their triumph, fears, growing up experiences, laughs, tears, etc.. Some of them used to be your closest friends, best buddies and lovers. But without constant interaction… we lose touch… we don’t feel the same way again. We can be best buddies but hardly talk after the lack of interaction. We can make love to someone but never feel the same again in just a couple of months.
It’s funny we humans… how fast we can forget….

And ironically that’s how it should be. Or we would just end up reflecting, regretting or dreaming. Still… a little nostalgic for a couple of minutes is a wonderful thing and I did just that.

Life goes on… and I am sure memories will re-surface again when it is time to once again, clean the drawer.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Naughty Police - Why.. oh why?

There has been a lot of bad press lately for our Malaysian police. It isn’t hard to understand why. The famous “coffee money”, rudeness and human rights violation are all well known to us Malaysians.

Recently, the police even threaten the government not to impose the IPCMC (an audit board for the police). What about the recent police violence in the petrol hike strike at KLCC? “Minimum force was used” said the inspector General.

The police threatening the government on their website which has since been remove.

“Minimum force was used” – the police inspector general.



Hardly is there a time when I see a police car that I feel safe.
“Oh, a police is near by. That’s good. Feel so safe and sound.”

There is always a slight worry when I see a police drive-by. Never a safe feeling. I am sure most Malaysians feels the same way. Do we feel safe when we see a police car on the road? Even though we are well aware there is nothing to fear. Not fear per se, more like “I wonder if this police will coupe up an excuse to get money from me”.

Yes, we leave in a country of fear. We fear when a police drive pass us. We are perhaps even afraid to make a report at a police station. Afraid that they will take hours to process a simple request which will probable never be look into. Or just plain rudeness we receive from them just because we want to report something (I have personally experience this once).

Now, let’s take a step back. Why are our police forces like this? I am of course speaking in general for most of the police that faces the “rakyat”(people). I am sure there are some good “Hong Kong CID” or “American 911” out there. But why are we constantly facing disservice from the “bad cop”?

I am no expert in police organization or the inner-workings of police society, but here are a couple of my opinions on why we are facing this.

I would put Education & Culture as the #1 reason. Yes, I know they probable have the value system, promises to serve the country speech, moral classes and handling citizen classes, all setup. But it is pretty obvious that even if they have them, the education system of the police force failed. Just like our general public education system. How many graduates are jobless again?

There is probable no proper program to instill the culture. No on-going review of instilling this culture. No inspiring leader to guide them. Yes, leadership is another reason. It may just boils down to leadership. No good leader to show them the “light side of the force”.

Another reason is probable money. Yes, cash. It shouldn’t be a reason to do a bad job but let’s face it, money talks. If you pay like shit, you probable get shitty people. I am not sure how well our police are paid but I am guessing not a lot. I am not saying that doubling their salary would make a miracle change to the police, but it probable is a factor from years of lousy salary history and no proper budget planning and execution to build a world class police force.

Reason #3 is probable society itself. Perhaps the history of “I take care of me first” culture in our society and the lack of social responsibility had bred this police force. Police are generally citizen anyway and they form a part of society. If society has such a behavior and culture, the police who are part of society will have them.

Although I am all supportive for the establishment of IPCMC, I can’t help but feel pity for our police force. I hope IPCMC which stands for “Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission” is more then what it name implies. We need more then just a complaints and audit body.

We need an education and culture overhaul. We need to improve society habits and values which hence directly impact the police habits and values. We may need to review the budget of our police force in terms of better education, training and wages. What’s the point of having the IPCMC if the root of the problem is not address?

Another thing I just thought of which could be a reason, remember our police force is generally just people with a career. A career where they need to see the value in the job they do, a proper career ladder shown to them, recognition and appreciation to the people they serve, proper direction and good leadership etc. All the general HR policies and practices apply to them. Again, these policies are probable all in place. But I doubt it is executed well.

A less then adequate police force is generally a failure in HR implementation of them. They are not like that because they are born like that. It is the system that makes the police where they are today. Fix the system from the root level.

Friday, June 02, 2006

It all about the EQ !!!!

I am sure we all have said something similar like this to ourselves from time to time, “Damn, if only I was better at mathematics” or “if only I could speak Japanese” (while eye-ing that hot Jap girl at the bar).

What I am trying to say is that there are times when we wish we were just good or better at something. Having that extra skill-set to strive in today’s highly competitive world of flashy cars, flashy hand-phones, flashy job-titles… you get the idea.
Now, what if you are granted one wish to drastically improve oneself. (no mutant ability please).

If you could drastically improve one particular trait, ability, skills, values, behavior, personality…just anything.. what would it be? Would it be having a photographic memory? Better fitness level? Higher sexual prowess? Better communication skill? Or maybe just having a nicer ass?

If I have a choice to choose, a choice to be really good at it, perhaps master of it all, it would be having high “Emotional Intelligence”. That’s right!!! EI which means “a subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions” – Jack Mayer & Peter Salovey

Some people refer Emotional Intelligence as EQ for measurement. I am just going to use EQ to reference Emotional Intelligence moving forward.

From a general agreement of all the brainy professors out there (yes there are many debates on what EQ means), High EQ basically boils down to being able to be aware and control of ones emotion, understand social emotions and use it to act logically.

It doesn’t mean that we don’t cry when we are sad or get angry when we get punch in the face. Not able to express feeling is actually low EQ. Able to understanding emotion and knowing why we express it is the key to high EQ.

OK before I continue, let me note that I am not an expert in EQ. Very likely just a beginner in this topic. I am just giving a general idea on what I read about EQ and what I think it is all about. Nether less I am sure it’s around the context of self-awareness, self-control, social-awareness etc… so don’t expect Phd write-up on EQ in this article.

Why, of so many human improvements to choose from (like having a nice ass), I would choose high EQ?

Just think about it. Assuming you have a reasonable good IQ and live in a modern society with basic necessities. Good IQ meaning able to read, articulate ideas, do some complex mumbo-jumbo quiz… basically an IQ higher then 90. Basic necessity meaning the mass majority in a non-starving country.

What’s stopping you from achieving what you know you can achieve or want to achieve?
I am pretty sure the stuff you wish to achieve in life, beginning with the end in mind, got little to do with physical or intellectual. I am pretty sure it will be goals such as these, “gaining a skill-set to advance in career”, “able to run 10 miles without being half-dead”, “learning a new language” etc.. etc…

You might say, “heh!! Isn’t gaining a new skill-set about intellectual learning?” or “running 10 miles is all about physical fitness?”. Well you are right, but more often then not it is more about the heart then mind and body. Why we are not achieving what we set out to do is more likely due to this, Laziness, Fear, Shyness, etc…. traits of emotions.

Imagine, what if we have passion and discipline in the things we do. I remember how I could stay up for 24 hours in-front of the computer gunning down people with my AK-47. Sit me down on a table to study for an exam…. *zzzzzz*…. 30 minutes.

It’s all about the heart isn’t it? Now put that “self-discipline” into what you want to achieve. Guarantee! Go to GYM twice a week! No slacking. Guarantee! Go to language class every week to learn a new language….
What’s holding us back from self-improvement is usually emotional.
Which is why by having a high EQ, I believe I can pretty much achieve almost anything, without having unnecessary fear to stop me…and having the discipline to achieve what I set out to do.

Having high EQ is not just about Self-Awareness and Self Regulation. It is also about having good Social Awareness and Social Skills. We all know being independence alone won’t bring us great happiness and success in life. Great living is about being able to have healthy interdependent among one another.

Never have I met someone who is successful career or family wise, who is solely independent. Having high empathy, able to communication, collaboration, cooperation, manage conflicts etc.. is what having good interdependence with society is all about.
Interdependence is what makes us strive in life.

Actually, more importantly… having a good and stable EQ ensure you stay mentally healthy and alive. Think about the number of intelligent people who commit suicide due to small issues like “gal-fren don’t want me”. Or the many Hollywood who seem to have it all but fall to the dark side of drugs and even death. Ain't very smart is it?

Which is why my choice is Emotional Intelligence.
“Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Self-Motivation, Social-Awareness, Social Skills” – Daniel Goleman

Monday, May 15, 2006

Hiring Discrimination??? or NOT !!!

It is an article I read about in one of Malaysian’s top political blog sites Jeff Ooi…
And then I saw an advert about it in one of my employer's email newsletters sent to its employees. Then I read it again on some discussion board online.

What the hell is it I am talking about?

Well, the article on the Blog site I visited is about the discriminating advert Multimedia University and Motorola place on offering scholarships to certain race only.



The email newsletter my company HR department sent out is about its Employee Referral program. Extra RM 500 if female, an extra RM 2000 if “Under Represented Minority Race” (mainly Malay and Indian).

The discussion board I read was discussing (obviously) about companies hiring base on preferred race and gender.

So, is this racial and gender discrimination practice by Companies and Universities in our country? Or is this basically their rights to hire base on what suit them most.

Let’s talk about the companies first.
I remembered reading somewhere about someone suing a restaurant because they only wanted to hire gay people because gay people help lift the service and environment of the restaurant… I don’t remember the decision of the court...

So, what’s the fine line for discrimination? I went and check out my employer’s “employee referral reward bonus” for other countries and guess what…… only in Malaysia is an extra bonus given base on Race and Gender, compare to 11 other countries in Asia alone….

Now, I am pretty sure my employer (a big well known MNC, famous for its strong people and diversity policy) will not let such a thing slip pass them. Hence, it must be legal right? However, it just doesn’t stop me from thinking. Why is it only in Malaysia but not in other parts in the world? Perhaps there is no such law of such discrimination in Malaysia? Hence companies take advantage of it. Or perhaps it is not a form of discrimination because it is the rights of companies to choose whoever they want to hire.

Regardless it is againts the law or isnt, my personal opinion is towards this is on the rights of the companies. Frankly, in the beginning I was disgusted about the idea of paying more money to people to find employee's base on a race and gender criteria. This means that certain race and gender would have an advantage. I mean, just because you have no penis or is of darker skin then me you should have a higher chance of being hired? Oh.. the pain... Oh the unfairness!!!
However, if you think about it, it makes sense.

I mean, if I own a business and going to pay good salaries for my employees, it better hell be the best employee I can get to increase my bottom line or for whatever other reasons. (increase diversity, work culture, etc…)

No way am I going to hire macho man to walk around selling cigarettes (if that’s my biz) or to take example of my own personal business (retail fashion), to hire straight guys selling women clothing. My preference would be the ladies as sales executive. Preferable pretty and sweet….

Of course it doesn’t seem right and it hurts to know that you are discriminated because you have a penis or your skin color is not dark or white enough. But tough luck, deal with it, because that’s the reality in our current environment.

Please don’t get me wrong and thinking that I am some racial and gender bigot. I am actually very much the opposite (I hope), but reality is that hiring certain people base on color and race helps and is it wrong? NO… because the company is paying for it. I firmly believe if we are paying for something, we damn well should get what we want.

Of course, this context differ base on scenarios. Is it right if scholarships, most likely fund by tax money from a diverse racial society be only available to certain race?

It is not. That... is just plain discrimination.