Sunday, December 16, 2007

MIscellaneous - From 2007

December 26, 2004 in remembrance
December 26, 2004 in remembrance magnify

I would never forget the fateful day of December 26, 2004.

Prior to that day, tsunami was just a Japanese word, and a phenomenon that will only occur in Japan. Now, I believe it is Indonesian - Acehnese to be precise, and can occur even here in Malaysia. It is no longer as foreign as the Japanese Katakana.

That week till end of the year of 2004, I was on leave. I had not taken long leave for a long time and I thought the family deserves some kind of holiday. So I decided to take a driving tour of the peninsular, going up North, up to Langkawi.

This holiday was supposed to be a leisure one. The destination was not important. What matters was to enjoy the journey itself.

So I drove to Lumut using the coastal road through Kuala Selangor and spent a couple of days there. Nothing fancy there I guess. We spent a couple of hours on the beach in Teluk Batik Lumut, lazing around. The kids took up kayaking and enjoyed the water there. An uncle living in Manjung provided the accommodation, so it was a plesant two-day stay.

On the 24th, I drove to Taiping. Taiping was just a stop over and we are supposed to move on to Penang on the fateful day of Dec 26 for a beach picnic and by end of the day, move on to Langkawi.

I had it all figured out.

Or so I thought.

I fell ill - I can't remember the exact date, most likely upon reaching Taiping. It was a case of bad flu. I was in no position to drive, and being in Taiping was the perfect tonic for it. Like I have said, we were in no rush. I may have gotten the long leave, and we have ample of time.

Noon that day - the most tragic day in human history, I received an sms from my uncle in Manjung, "Aman kat mana?" he asked. I was surprised with the question as I didn't expect him to be wanting to monitor my whereabout. "Taiping. Kenapa?" was my response. But he didnt reply.

I only came to know of the tragedy during the 8 pm news. By then the news of the devastation was trickling in. No one had any inkling what was exactly happenning or the extent of it.

By then, I knew that my family could have been part of the statistic. We could have been wiped out. I was definitely planning on a sea-side picnic in Penang that day, and we definitely should be in Langkawi by end of the day.

But we didn't make it - thanks to the flu.

Over the next few weeks, colleagues through out the Hyprotech offices worldwide were sending me emails asking me about the situation here in Malaysia. We were lucky, the devastation was just a fraction of those experienced by the Indonesians and other countries. "And I am thankful," I told them. " For I could have been there along with my family enjoying the beaches of Penang."

But fate intervened that day.

Pardon me if this entry sounds like it is about me. No, it is not. It is about the 250,000 who died in the tragedy and many more millions who lost practically everything to the tsunami. My near miss is nothing of concern and just like a particle of dust in the history of mankinds.

Alfatihah to all who died.


I sincerely hope those affected by the tsunami have been able to rebuild their lives. And my hope is that all the funds collected have been fully disbursed to those victims. But I know this is only wishful thinking on my side. Remember the Penang victims who only got their house prior to Raya puasa this year, nearly three years later?

I wish we would audit all these accounts.

To think that nearly 200K people died in Aceh alone is mind boggling. It was the most tragic of all of human tragedy. For someone who had spent weeks in Aceh (albeit in the PRamlee's home town of Lhokseumawe - an oil and gas town bigger than Kerteh) - training the Acehnese process simulation, I felt it for them. Especially the Hariri clan do have some Acehnese bloods.

You feel so small in the face of the earth.

I had thought of adopting a kid in the aftermath of the tsunami. But it didn't work out.

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Wednesday December 26, 2007 - 06:21am (SGT) Edit | Delete | Permanent Link | 0 Comments
The Senjakala Rambling

This week has been a slow week in as far as visitors are concerned.

I guess it is inevitable. I have been less political in the past weeks since Bersih and Hindraf, and people like to read those better than stories about me and my families. Hahaha, I have no problem with that.

Other than that, people have been getting plain bored with my story mory lah.

Talking about politics, I have been warned by a concerned friend to start burning any yellow t-shirts, if I have any, for fear that one day the police might come a-knocking at my door.

I responded to his serious-sounding sms, half jokingly said, "Eh, you know where I can buy that Bersih t-shirt? I should have bought it earlier."

He was half screaming at me back, "Dude, I am asking you to burn it, not buy it. If I were you, I would even burn my yellow underwear!"

Hahaha, he is a funny guy. Of course he doesn't know that I don't have a yellow underwear.

I told him that I am no Anwar Ibrahim or Mat Sabu!

Anyway, I have a couple of yellow t-shirt, long before it was made fashionable by Bersih. I am not worried about t-shirt to be honest. At times though, I do wonder about blog. Then the other question would be, should I delete the entry and pics in my blog on the rally? We didn't do anything wrong. This is not a police state, even if the police would like to claim it as theirs.

When I sms-ed my sis on Nov 10 about the rally, she told me later that her thought was more like, "Oh no, not another one. Would I need to visit him at the Penjara Kamunting?".

Again I thought she was funny.

Well, I think the police has been witch-hunting with the recent arrest of many activists, not-with-standing those of Hindraf. And the Nurin murder case is still unsolved. The culprit who released the the pictures of her post-mortem is going to get away scot free despite police statement warning the public that they are closing in on the suspect.

Empty promises. Typical.

Similar to those feel good statements our politicians are keen to tell the public to show us how lucky we are.

I remember in 1998, a few months after Anwar was sacked and arrested, Rafidah Aziz was in Houston for a conference. So us Malaysian Houstonites were invited to a public forum with her at the Four Season Hotel (??). After the speech on mostly bitching about Anwar, during the question and answer, this writer found the courage to ask her this question.

"Dato Seri, we have been warned many times about the over-heating of the economy and the impending economic crisis. Why didn't we pay heed to all these warnings? Instead, we kept on saying how well our fundamentals were," I asked.

She didn't look too pleased with the question. She prefers political question.

Of course she went on denying that there was the overheating of the economy, and blamed it on the speculators. Since then too, I have read books by Prof Jomo, and attended many lectures by Prof Ubai as part of my MBA program and I guess I knew a bit more now than then.

Nonetheless, why can't we all call a spade a spade? If the economy is doing badly, why don't we admit it, and takes actions to rectify it?

We don't like bad news, especially if it is painful to all. We prefer good news, even the news is not true. It makes us feel good. The economy is doing well. We will have 6% growth this year. Our inflation will be at lowly 2%; never mind that actual is over 20% or more. Our election is fair, nevermind that they would gerrymandeer it every now and then. Everybody is getting their fair share of the economic pie despite report saying that Malaysia has one of the world's most skewed wealth distribution.

So that Gerakan vice youth chief would be sacked by Koh Tsu Koon for saying what many believe to be the truth, even if part of it was exaggerated a bit. The government is saint, and infallible. They are the untouchables; like their counterparts in India.

We feel good when Pak Lah gave 180 cows for Korban; as if it comes from his pocket. We feel great when Kayveas gave 30 camels for korban himself. At Hussein Onn, the mosque committee invited a Chinese MP to officiate the Kurban ceremony; oblivious to the fact that this is a religious event. What's next? Invite him to be the imam for the Solat Raya too?

What some mosque committee would do to show their political connection and affiliation even while doing something for God.

I don't know; I think things are going from bad to worse. We should be able to take stock and rectify the situation. It takes a man to admit mistakes; and I don't see that man in the establishment right now.


This is what I call a rambling. Hahaha, what's my point, really?

I really don't know myself!

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Monday December 24, 2007 - 06:49pm (SGT) Edit | Delete | Permanent Link | 2 Comments
Three helping and A Wedding
Three helping and A Wedding magnify

What has gotten into me?

Three helpings at a wedding feast in Seremban today is not going to help me lose weight, and I need to lose weight fast. The foods at the wedding were too good not to be finished off by this writer. The fact that it has been months since his last jogging rounds in Hussein Onn is only making it worse for him.

Of course cendol as a desert after that hearty lunch is not going to help either.



In any case, I love going to family and relative's wedding. Actually the idea to meet up not-so-distant relatives that I don't frequently meet somehow appeals to my senses. It really makes me feel good today to be meeting with the host Pak Karim who was nice enough to come to my house 4 years ago for a small kenduri. Since then I have been back twice to two of his childrens' weddings. Not to mention seeing again PCAziz, cousins Abg Nai, Ned and Kak Anne and many other long lost relatives.

The Hariris were in full force today. Mak, KSham, this writer, Aboy, Ani, Ata, Farah and Aishah were all there. It is the biggest assembly of the Hariris outside of Raya gathering.

All in all, I would say that this is the biggest assembly of the Bulan's Minang clan in the home state in recent years.


That's Mak with PC Aziz and MC Maznah (the anak-anak Adam Chemana, a Minang from Tasik Meninjau and a Royal Malaysian Custom officer), and in the next pics is with PC Yan.

Oh by the way, did I tell you the acar and the daging masak hitam (?) were excellent?

Oh my God, I am begginning to sound like Bapak, who loved his food!


This writer having the time of his life. I like this pic - it shows a different side of me I seldom see. It was taken by Arif. The gamelan band at the wedding. Not too bad, but personally I prefer a ghazal outfit anytime. But this is a nice change from recorded music.

Hang on a second. Where is the wedding pictures? Where is the bride and the bridegroom?

Unfortunately we were there very early and were able to catch with quite a number of relatives. But left while most were having their lunch. By that time, the couple was nowhere to be seen and hence we didn't get to meet up with them.

Hmmm, looks like we were just using their wedding to meet up with the clan. Ok, whose wedding is next, and when?

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Saturday December 22, 2007 - 05:11pm (SGT) Edit | Delete | Permanent Link | 1 Comment
What we will do for Richard Clayderman
What we will do for Richard Clayderman magnify

I don't understand why Genting is so popular.

The Singaporeans come to Malaysia, and they go to Genting. My Indonesian friends came and they went to Genting too. Personally though I think Genting is over-rated. It is boisterous, it is loud and it is noisy. Not to mention that it is unkempt and extremely expensive (if only to me).

If I have the choice, I would not find myself shivering in the cold at the entrance of Arena of the Stars. I would prefer to be in the comfort of my own home, watching the lizards fight for insect on the ceiling. But with me being the slave to my kids, I agreed to drive them to Genting to to enable them to watch their pianist idol Richard Clayderman in action. Mind you, more than a year ago, I did the same thing when they wanted to attend a concert by Maksim.

I do enjoy the romantic songs of Richard Clayderman. This is one popularity I can comprehend, though many a times his beautiful songs are just too painful. But seriously I don't want to indulge myself in concert anymore. I am not getting any younger, so I tried not to attend those things no more.

Arif and Akmal will be entertaining my guests at next week's office warming which should include one of my favourite teachers cikgu Dr Fatanah; so I guess this concert is nicely timed to get them into the performing mode.

Luckily it didn't rain on the way up, but I am nervous thinking about the journey down. The mist is quite thick and on a bad night, the road might trecherous due to limited visibility. As we were early, we went for our early dinner at the First World Indoor Amusement Park.

This is where I found it boisterous, loud and dirty. It is way too crowded and at times I feel like I am in Hong Kong.

May be I don't like crowded places, much like what I said in an earlier entry. May be, I don't know. If not for the kids, I would not be here.

The two briyani and the couple of drinks we ordered cost me a whopping RM38. Man, this place is damn expensive.

Arif akmal at richard

In the end, as I have two hours to kill while waiting for the kids to be entertained by the King of Romance - King Richard - I managed to convince myself that an RM11 hot vanilla is worth the price for me to get a sofa and a hotspot to write this entry at Coffee Beans - my first in more than a year.

Aah heavenly.

Genting, anyone? Thank you very much. Gimme Maxwell Hill anytime!

FREE service provided by


UPdated 22 Dec 2007 at 1958 hours

Someone sms me late this afternoon and said he was disappointed with the concert. Apparently he prefers the 'older' selections like Lady Di and many others. The kids didn't complain about the song selection; in fact enjoyed some of the surprises in the concert.

However, one common complain stuck out. For some reasons, his jokes were directed to the mainly Chinese audience. If you don't speak the language, then you are lost. As he pointed out, "Typical of the frog, simply refused to learn English."

I am sure the frog was directed to a certain pianist Frenchman! He is a funny lawyer, and a Clayderman fan. Apparently this was his second - and last, he insisted - concert due to that reason.

Well, what can you expect? For one, the audience is mainly Chinese. Arif said too few Malays were in the audience on the way back to KL. I said, "The Malays would mainly watch Konset JomHeboh!" He laughed. So in some way, King Richard was only doing what's expected of him to please his audience.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Airport Polonia - What does a Polish airport doing in the midst of the Malay Archipelago?

So Airport Polonia is in the news again!

I have not heard that name for a long, long time. Airport Polonia is a name from 80s made famous - to many of us - by Kumpulan Harmoni. Kumpulan Harmoni, on the other hand, is a group of four, led by Zubir Ali, who made poetic songs as their calling.

Of course I was away at uni in Melbourne, so during the year my diet was more on English pop music; I had no idea that poetic songs were making in big in Malaysia then, with Harmoni pioneering the way, until I returned home during the summer hols.

Then the song "Penantian" was the song of the year that year (sorry, can't recall the exact year). Even though Zubir Ali was no Mawi - he's better actually and he can sing eventhough he's no M.Nasir, but his strength (and hence Harmoni's) was his music with poetic lyrics. (To be honest, anything ballad would make it big then - poetic or thrash lyrics. Not quite, but close to.)

One of the song in the Penantian album, was a poem written by Zubli Zainordin about Airport Polonia. Azie's voice was so soft, so romantic. She sounds great.

I remember the conversation about this song very well at our house in Bukit Kerajaan.
Sister:"So where do you think is Airport Polonia located?"

Me: "This is a Pop Kuiz question. Give me a question with more substance."
Sister: "OK, so where on earth is Airport Polonia?"
Me: "Ah well, there goes my plan to save the world. OK, it has to be in Poland."
Sister: "And you told me you are so good in Geography that your teacher gave you RM1. You are wrong, it is in Medan Indonesia."

So I have always wondered then, how the 'heaven' did they derive the name Polonia for an airport located in the Northern part of Sumatra. It sounds Polish to me, but then again may be not. "Must be some Batak name," I thought. I had passed through this airport many times during my days at Hyprotech, on my way to the gas fields of Aceh, and I had never bat an eyelid about the name while I was there. But while the airport was a bit crowded and perhaps rundown, I never had problem there with the authorities unlike Palembang.

Until the news 2 days ago about the fire at Airport Polonia which destroyed a good part of the Bandara. That basically triggered my interest in that name again after all these years. Searching the web in general, Wikipedia in particular, I found that the name Polonia is indeed Polish. The area where the airport was built was owned by these Polish entrepreneurs who developed the area for tobacco farming.

Don't ask me how these two Polish entrepreneurs got to own a good piece of real estate in the third biggest town in Indonesia.
I thought I should celebrate the beautiful music of Harmoni while I hope that the Indonesian government would repair and upgrade the airport quickly and swiftly. The song Airport Polonia was about a group of Malaysian poets meeting their Indonesian counterparts in Medan, I guess, for a discussion on poems and literature.

Airport Polonia - Zubli Zainordin
Aku tiba jua oh Polonia
Didakap jambangan senyum
Jari-jari lembut menyambutku
Sebagai pengembara yang rindu
Terasa senang dihati
Rindu terubat sudah
Bila ketemu di Polonia
Penuh memori
Salam puisi aku ucapkan
Pada kalian saudaraku
Ketanah air ku kan kembali
Membawa kenangan abadi

Tuesday December 4, 2007 - 10:22pm (SGT)

Monday, December 3, 2007

A blast from the past - Magni Nominis Umbra

King Edward VII primary school will be celebrating its 125th year anniversary in 2008 and I thought I should kick-start the celebration by remembering my three years of being a Tiger. As the saying goes, "Once a Tiger, always a Tiger".

The plaque at the school states the following fact:

"In 1883, the Central School was opened to house its first 13 students. Its first headmaster was Mr Francis Stainer BB (London) who served between 1901-1921. In order to cater for more students and their needs, a new building was constructed in 1904 in the former site of Taiping railway station, which was the first railway station in the Malay States. The school was officially opened by DYMM Sultan Idris Mushidul Azam Shah in 1905. It was subsequently renamed to King Edward VII National school in conjunction with the coronation of England’s 7th King in 1901. The school is renowned for its academic and sports potential; and it is alma mater to many well known educationists, corporate and country leaders. The school is under the administration of the Ministry of Education."

There you go; a brief history of King Edward. The writing leaves much to be desired, but I would take it at face value.

At least there is some description.

Born and raised in Taiping, I guess we were destined to be Edwardians. While I started my primary school in the town of the Perak Man, bapak got a transfer back to Taiping on health reason at the end of 1972. Even if I had enjoyed my stint at SRJK(I) Lenggong and had lots of good friends there, I guess no one complained about living in a bigger town that is Taiping.

The green rugby field and the rugby post. It was at this end I nearly scored a try for KE, but I was 'tackled' at the last minute, practically on the line. The pic on the right was our playground, underneath the century old raintrees - playing the guli, guli batu and of course popia (using tennis ball). Sakit wo if kena bantai with the tennis ball.

I remember well my first day at KE; I was initially given a seat at 4B. They must have thought that small town boy would not do well in a bigger town’s school. But when the class teacher tested me on my reading - I was asked to read a paragraph from an English book, they put me into class 4A instead. I must have passed the test.

Our teachers at KE. Mrs Wong was my class teacher in Std 5, Mrs Kuppu in Std 4. Mr Naranjan Singh was the coach who took us to the pinnacle of Perak rugby in 1975. Ustaz Adnan lives nearby my mum's house in Taiping. Next to Ustaz Adnan is the teacher who announced MRSM entrance test and who broke the news to me about the interview at Pejabat Tanah. We even had a dental nurse in the school, and she would come over weekly to announce the 'chosen' one. This pic was taken in 1976; the dental nurse in 1975 was cuter, so we didn't mind at all!

I was more academically more consistent at KE than I was in Lenggong - that is, I was never able to get No 1 at KE. That was apparently reserved for my best friend Zakri Khir who is of Malay-Chinese parentage. Even the No 2 spot was already reserved - to Cheong Gim Leong. Aah, well. While I was no longer the star as I was in Lenggong, I was not anonymous either. Unlike in Lenggong where the school was co-ed, KE was boys' school. Being a boys' school, we thought we were macho kids then. We had more freedom to do boy's stuff. Of course the other schools in Taiping were not as good and were not in the league of KE.

Or so we thought.

We had given 'names' for the other schools in Taiping. First and foremost was our sworned enemy – the St George School. They were the Georgie Podgie; they were sissies to our minds. Even the gal’s school Treacher Methodist Girl School (TMGS) was not spared. They were the Tiny Monkey Goes to School gals! For some reasons the Convent Girls School was spared by us.

Well, we weren't interested in gals during those years! Yet, I guess.

The hall where we used to play badminton and my classrooms (ground floor 4A) and 1st floor 6A. These building were constructed in 1904 and opened in 1905 - wow, a class A contractor in the days of yore. I bet you, even if when the KLCC had crumpled, these buildings will still be standing. The pillars are so big, to support t.e building. The height of the ceiling must be at least 30 ft high, or equivalent to two storey building nowadays.

Our academic prowess was nothing to shout about. We did OK I guess. But KE was very fierce in protecting and maintaining our sporting traditions. Of course we were the best in Taiping in soccer by virtue of winning 2 out of 3 finals at the Larut Matang district level. But it was in rugby the Edwardians really excelled at. We had teams even in primary school and the pinnacle of our sporting achievement then was being the Perak champs. Year laters of course King Edward went on to be the first and only non-boarding school to win the Malaysian school championship at the secondary level, even beating MCKK and STAR.

Of course there were not that many schools then with a rugby team. I think there were three in all of Perak. In rugby term, bapak’s alma mater (Clifford School Kuala Kangsar) was our arch rival. In 1974, KE was beaten something to the tune of 98-0 in a primary school competition by Clifford.

So when I was in std 6, it was up to us to redeem the school's pride. Obviously we were quite apprehensive preparing for the game. The coach Mr Naranjan Singh, a former Malaysian player - if my memory serves me right, had planned for us a very important strategy this time around. We were to take our free kicks short; and take it quickly. In other words, once we were given a free kick, everybody would have to be behind the ball in seconds, and Muniandy, our captain, would take it short.

The idea is to catch the other team as they would have to retreat at least 5 yards from the ball when it was taken. If not, we would gain another five yards into their territory. They had to retreat and retreat fast.

When the times come however, within 10 minutes we were behind 8-0 by two tries and the previous year's debacle was in our mind at that time. "Oh no, not again!" we thought. But soon we got into our stride and applied the strategy well. It worked. The Cliffordians didn’t expect the quick free kicks; they didn't know what had hit them. And we went on a scoring spree, with this blogger nearly scoring a try from a middle-of-the-field run.

But he was brought down on the line at the very last moment.


So we had our revenge that year - we went on to win 19-11. It was a tactical win for the Edwardians. We were tactically superior. But I must admit that it was a hard fought game. I had cramps at night in the aftermath of that game.

In the final, we beat Sekolah Khir Johari Sg Sumun 22-6. This was an easier game for us; we were superior than Sg Sumun in all aspects. I even had a nemesis on the pitch – someone my size and both of us were trying to get each other riled up.

But I had the last laugh with the trophy at the end of the game.

My only fame as champions. Funny thing, I forgot to tuck my collar during the photo session, so I was cursing myself afterwards for being the odd man out. Years later, Eric Cantona would wear his collar straight up and made it very popular and 'cool'. But I had my collar up in the photo 20 year earlier! I believe this team did well in Under 18 later on in life. To be honest, had I stayed on at KE, I would not have made it to the U-18 team. I was only in this team by virtue of my size, and by the time we were 17, many had caught up with me. I was no sporting animal in any case. I know that. Rugby had allowed this 'kaki bangku' a chance at sporting fame.

While the majority of the students were Malays, we had our shares of other races too to provide competition to us all. And the teachers were from all races of Malaysia – Indians, Malays, Chinese, Sikh. You name it, we have it.

Those were the days when we had fun teasing our Sikh friends. I know, I know; we should not have, but we weren’t infallibles then. “Cop bai, cop bai, off” were our favourites phrase everytime we saw someone of Sikh descent (with a turban of course). If you didn’t say "off" when someone saw a Sikh before you do, you would get a poke behind your back, so to speak. It was kids’ stuff basically, until one day we saw a Bai cycling in front of the school and many of us were screaming “Cop bai” and was of course overheard by the person himself.

So he swung around into the school compound, and asked us if we have any problem with him.

We were stunned into silence. Luckily we had a Chinese teacher (seated, second from right in the rugby pic above) with us and he protected us by telling the Sikh cyclist that we were just talking amongst ourselves and not about him; so the Sikh left soon afterwards. The main culprit who got the toungue lashing from the teacher was of course the guy who started it - Sivanathan; he is now the secretary of Old Edwardians (4th in the first row from right in the rugby pic). Ah well, I don’t know why the Sikh was the subject of our tease then when we had so many of them in our midst.

Of course I have many other sweet stories about the old days and about King Edward. Except for Ustaz Adnan who live near Mak’s house in Sri Kota and another ex-classmate friend Rahman Salleh (4th from left in the rugby pic, next to this writer) also nearby, I have lost contact with many friends. I thought next year’s anniversary would be a good time to reacquaint myself with them, and re-live the pride and joy of being a tiger again.

We used to be called Edwardian Muda in this school magazine. I guess we are now Edwardian Tua - Old Edwardians.

Magni Nominis Umbra.

I hope no one would be offended by my Sikh story. It was us in the mid 70s, and done without any malice or prejudice.

A question comes to mind. I have four alma maters - two in primary (Lenggong and KE) and 2 in secondary (KE MRSM KB). So what am I? Old Edwardian? ANSARAn? Or am I Lenggongians or should it be Lenggongites?


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Sunday December 2, 2007 - 10:45pm (SGT) Edit Delete

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Once A Tiger, Always A Tiger. My journey begin at Std 6 (1984). Changing as Cliffordians to Edwardians, I remember was told, by a teacher, to change my standard long pants, to a short one as school uniform, technically which I don't have (I am pioneering the long pants to KE then, nowadays all school children wearing a long pants)
Saturday December 8, 2007 - 04:26am (ICT) Remove Comment

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It is all about the inertia. To change one would need to overcome that inertia, and it's always not something we relish. At least for a year, you have the taste of studying under the majestic pillars of King Edward school building. It remains, for obvious reason, my favourite colonial building in Taiping.

Saturday December 8, 2007 - 08:04am (SGT) Remove Comment