This is a personal blog and should be taken as such. So don't sue me if what I write pisses you off. Or if I write lies. Or if I give maladvice. Or if you fail to read through my sarcasm. Et cetera.
I like stalkers.
Is it in bad taste to quote one's self?
"The greatest of debaters are not only the most eloquent -- they are the most bruised, the most resilient, the strongest of heart." -- Andrew Loh
Quotes "How many times have you chickened out?" - Qu Hsueh Ming
"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." - Albert Einstein
"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile - hoping it will eat him last." - Sir Winston Churchill
"Affirmative action is something the good don't need and the bad don't deserve" - A wise man
"The men who create power make an indispensable contribution to the Nation's greatness, but the men who question power make a contribution just as indispensable, especially when that questioning is disinterested, for they determine whether we use power or power uses us." - John F. Kennedy
"The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were." - John F. Kennedy
"I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually." - James A. Baldwin
"Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is but a broken winged bird that cannot fly." - Langston Hughes
"Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference." - Sir Winston Churchill
"Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?" - Alfred Lord Tennyson
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." - John Calvin Coolidge
"We will either find a way or make one." - Hannibal
"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." - Napoleon Bonaparte
"For evil to triumph, it is only necessary for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
"War begins in the minds of men, and it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must first be constructed." - UNESCO Constitution
"The proper study of mankind is man." - Alexander Pope
"My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions or its officeholders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death." - Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens): A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
"Patriotism is to support your country all the time and your government when it deserves it" - Mark Twain
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." - George Bernard Shaw
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw
"Democracy is a system ensuring that the people are governed no better than they deserve." - George Bernard Shaw
"If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all." -- Noam Chomsky
"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." - George Orwell
"When the people fear the government, you have tyranny. When the government fears the people, you have freedom." - Thomas Paine
"I sense a learning: that much dumber people than you end up in charge. Look at the way things are. I'm no fucken genius or anything, but these spazzos are in charge of my every twitch. What I'm starting to think is maybe only the dumb are safe in this world, the ones who roam with the herd, without thinking about every little thing. But see me? I have to think about every little fucken thing." - Vernon God Little, Act II
THE performance at the recent HELP University College's National English Debate Competition 2006 was an intense battle of words and wit with SMK Damansara Jaya (SMKDJ) edging St Michael's Institution, Ipoh for the title.
The battle saw SMKDJ fourth formers Choy Sher Rin, Kalkena Sivanesam, Adeline Michelle Mathew and Ethan Tay Chen Ern convince the adjudicators that HIV screenings should be a prerequisite for marriage to clinch the championship.
"We spent almost 50 hours brainstorming, researching and writing speeches for every motion. It was at times tedious and stressful.
"Some would think we were nuts for putting ourselves through such mental torture.
SMK Damansara Jaya's debating champions (from left) Ethan, Adeline, Sher Rin and Kalkena with their medals.
"But preparation was the key to our triumph – our hard work has paid off handsomely," said Sher Rin.
Kalkena said the debate also made them realise the importance of commitment.
"We had to organise discussion sessions in spite of our busy personal schedules. This meant sacrificing tuition and music classes, missing lessons, and even coming back to school during holidays and weekends.
"In a way, this was a good thing because it made sure that the time we spent together was productive," she added.
The team walked away with the challenge trophy, RM5,000, a computer set, a rostrum and a camera for their school.
They also won individual prizes including gold medals, certificates, mobile phones, partial HELP scholarships and subscriptions to educational magazines.
SMKDJ's victory was even sweeter when the best speaker award went to Adeline. She received a trophy, RM500, a printer, a mobile phone and a full HELP scholarship.
"I attribute the award to the entire team. I couldn't have done it without them.
"Debate is a team activity and everyone gave their personal best. We stood by each other.
"I believe the bonds of our friendship have been reinforced through this unforgettable experience," said Adeline.
Ethan said they learnt many lessons in life through the debate.
"We've become more open to different viewpoints and more perceptive towards history and current events. I hope more students will start debating to reap these benefits," she said.
This year has been a particularly fruitful one for SMKDJ, as the school also bagged the Taylor's College Inter-School Debate Championship 2006 through its fifth formers Lee Su Lyn, Ow Xin Dee, Joel Wong Kae Wei and Lee Liang Hoong.
The students won individual trophies, a full scholarship to any Taylor's College pre-university course and a 30% tuition fee waiver to any Taylor's College tertiary programme.
The school received the challenge trophy and a cash prize of RM10,000.
"I think I speak for both teams when I thank our teacher adviser Koh Bee Lian, and our coaches, Andrew Loh Zhu An and Anton Atli Marc Jitab, for leading us to both titles. Their guidance has been invaluable and their coaching nothing less than inspiring," said Xin Dee.
Andrew Loh and Marc Jitab are former champion debaters who represented SMKDJ in 2003 and 2004.
"You don't get many teacher advisers and ex-students who are willing to sacrifice so much time to work with us," commented Su Lyn.
"They motivated us to grow, both as debaters and individuals.
"We wanted to repay their effort by giving them nothing less than our best," she added.
Joel added: "Not forgetting the help we've received from fellow students who came to help us in our discussions even though they were not in the team.
"Their spirit and assistance have indeed been commendable."
Adviser Koh said a successful debating team needed more than just good speakers.
"This year, we've been fortunate to have the whole works going for SMKDJ.
"We have dedicated students who don't shy away from hard work; ex-debaters and teachers enthusiastically spurring the team on; and more importantly, recognition and appreciation from our principal Lee Mei Leng," Koh said.
With all the right ingredients, it is no wonder SMKDJ is a giant in the Malaysian debating circuit.
SMKDJ has won eight debating titles in the last seven years, namely the national Tan Sri Datuk Wira Abdul Rahman Arshad Cup (2001, 2003), Taylor's College Annual Inter-School Debate Cup (2000, 2002, 2005, 2006) and HELP University College's Tan Sri Paduka Dr Saleha Debate Cup (2004, 2006).
Principal Lee is proud that the debating culture that the school has been cultivating has paid off.
"I congratulate both teams for their achievements.
"The dedication of both debaters and coaches has been exemplary. We need more students and teachers like them.
"They have my full support – the administration is always open to suggestions to help maximise the potential of SMKDJ's debaters," she added.
Acknowledging that talent has to be trained, SMKDJ has implemented inter-class competitions, even for afternoon session students to expose them to debate.
It aims to instil in potential debaters self-confidence and mastery of public-speaking techniques.
The school is starting a much-needed debate room, complete with a computer, printer, rostrum, and debate furniture for the convenience of future teams.
It is also planning to build an "Excellence Tower" to commemorate its impressive debate resume.
"The Excellence Tower is to ensure that the next generation of students do not forget the school's glorious legacy and to instil school pride," added Lee.
I should've reformatted my computer bloody ages ago.
I should've reformatted my computer bloody ages ago. I should've reformatted my computer bloody ages ago. I should've reformatted my computer bloody ages ago. I should've reformatted my computer bloody ages ago. I should've reformatted my computer bloody ages ago. I should've reformatted my computer bloody ages ago. I should've reformatted my computer bloody ages ago. I should've reformatted my computer bloody ages ago. I should've reformatted my computer bloody ages ago. I should've reformatted my computer bloody ages ago. I should've reformatted my computer bloody ages ago. I should've reformatted my computer bloody ages ago. I should've reformatted my computer bloody ages ago. I should've reformatted my computer bloody ages ago. I should've reformatted my computer bloody ages ago. I should've reformatted my computer bloody ages ago. I should've reformatted my computer bloody ages ago. I should've reformatted my computer bloody ages ago. I should've reformatted my computer bloody ages ago.
It's so fast now.
I'm a happy boy.
Here's another picture I forgot I took :) that I'll be using for my desktop background now. I should get into photography, eh.
To: Menteri Tenaga, Air dan Komunikasi Malaysia, Perdana Menteri Malaysia, and The Local Media
We, the sound and the Rakyat of Malaysia, are fustrated by the
broadband service offered by Telekom Malaysia's TMnet Streamyx. TMnet
monopolize the market by owning most of the 'last mile' in Malaysia and
failed to provide a decent coverage to the Rakyat.
1. TMnet capped some of the users at a lower speed than subscribed.
2. Some of TMnet's staff and technician are inexperienced, rude and 'malas'.
3. The fees charged by streamyx is expensive because we need to pay the rental of the fixed line beside the dsl fees.
4. Frequent disconnection.
Jaring's and Time's wireless might be an alternative to some of us but remember the coverage of both service is limited.
We the Rakyat agree that TMnet Streamyx provide bad broadband service at unreasonable price.
Therefore we hope the goverment will do something about this
dilemma such as unbundling the local loop and bringing in foreign
I am so evil nowadays with all my long long posts! :D
And well I'm posting my MPH Young Writers Competition essay here because if I get shortlisted they'll post the essays on some website also, so I'll let you all read first lor. Very big "if" lar. See I'm so kind. And if there's some online competition thing like last year I expect you all to vote for me kay kay kay?! Muacks.
Oooo and I have a SCHOLARSHIP named after me. The Andrew Loh Scholarship for Analytical Chemistry awarded here. ROFLMAO! =)
MPH Essay: The Test (I know, very uncreative title, but what to do)
Andrew Loh Zhu An
Prompt: How is it that a few seconds can seem
like an eternity yet years can fly past without our realising it?
He counted fifteen items on his spacious
mahogany work desk, and frowned.
The clock chimed eight.
Mr. Tan was late, but he didn’t rush.
“Mr. Cheong.” He had barely entered the class when
he headed purposefully towards a specific occupant of the far side of the room,
who had chosen that particular seat so he could be as close as possible, to both
the windows overlooking the school field, and Jennifer.
“Your project, please.”
“I, um, don’t have it with me right now.”
“It’s not done yet. No time, sir.”
“Every single student in your class had time
except you,” Mr. Tan said, sternly and deliberately for the words to sink in. “What
makes you so special?”
For starters, I went out with Jennifer last
night, Kyle thought, and all the boys are jealous.
“Do you have anything to say in your defence, Kyle?”
“Uh, you were late too, sir.”
“You were late to class by six minutes, sir. So,
proportionately, a one day extension for a three week project should be, uh,
The class stifled their snickering somewhat
“Nice try, son, but it doesn’t work that way.”
Some sense of justice you have, thought Kyle.
“The truth is, sir, I, uh, didn’t bring my
project because it’s a joke I’m playing on you. April Fools!”
His attempt at exploiting the date fell flat
with most, but fortunately for Kyle, some classmates guffawed anyway. He
should’ve known better than to joke with a Physics teacher who couldn’t find
humour in ‘mho’ as the SI unit for conductance.
“I am not amused.”
“Aw, come on, sir, can’t you take a little
joke? I mean, what’s the difference between handing my project up today and
“Your grade, Kyle, that’s what.”
Mr. Tan turned away from Kyle to the whiteboard
to begin his lesson, satisfied with the enormity of his threat. Kyle sighed and
closed his eyes, as if deep in contemplation.
Kyle didn’t want to flunk Physics. He did all
right in all his other subjects, and even excelled in History, but the mother
of all science was his Achilles’ heel. The enigmatic equations and complex calculations
in his textbook could be mumbo-jumbo and hocus-pocus for all he cared. Stupid
subject, he thought.
It was a matter of habit for Kyle to stare at
the whiteboard with every ounce of concentration and still see little sense. Today
he amused himself by observing how Mr. Tan’s thin, unsmiling lips puckered
tensely after each sentence. Kyle also noticed that he swallowed his saliva
once at least every thirty seconds, then wrinkled his nose, adjusted his
glasses, and brushed off dandruff flakes from his shoulders. Predictable,
boring, routine, ugly Mr. Tan. No wonder he’s a Physics teacher, he thought,
the teacher reflects the subject.
A refreshing breeze blew his boredom away,
albeit temporarily. Almost instinctively Kyle turned and looked out the window
onto the school field, where some class was having P.E.. I belong there, Kyle
muttered, not in Physics class. It was agonising to be restrained in this de
facto prison. Every hour seemed like a decade, perhaps even longer when he
saw other people having fun.
But then there was Jennifer.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
RING, BELL, RING!!! Kyle’s restless soul had
enough of Mr. Tan’s facial dynamics and the goalless football match. He wanted
to scream and break free of such misery, but social constraints dictated
otherwise. Therefore he contented himself with fantasising about his date with
Jennifer after school. Ignoring the incomprehensible verbiage from Mr. Tan’s
moving lips, his eyes gradually made their way to Jennifer.
She looks ravishing as usual, thought Kyle, but
rather dejected today. He worshipped every inch of her; her piercing eyes, her
teasing smile, her fragrant hair. Her mere presence made Physics almost bearable!
If only Jennifer was teaching me, Kyle wished, instead of the old fogey. If only. Then I wouldn’t mind
spending years in a classroom, even if it was Physics.
Kyle had never failed Physics per se,
but the low Ds he scraped through with were a perennial source of disharmony
between him and his parents. He was under intense pressure to get his grades
up, or at the very least sustain them, or he would be banned from seeing
Jennifer. Jennifer – the love of his life! Kyle was infatuated with her. He
could skip meals and computer games and television shows whenever she
telephoned, and not even notice! Although his parents liked her personally,
they thought her too much of a distraction for Kyle and his lacklustre results.
But mom, he’d complain, I don’t spend enough
time with her anyway. Besides, she’s really good in Physics for some odd
reason, and concentrates so hard in class that she ignores me.
Jennifer paid no attention to her admirer’s
longing gazes. Kyle had no choice but to entertain himself with either Mr. Tan’s
antics or the monotonous game. What a humongous waste of my time, he grumbled.
Let it end, please, I beg of you, prayed Kyle.
Let my suffering end.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
Mr. Tan knew how to control a class. His exact,
precise manner instilled Machiavellian fear into his students. They all
listened attentively when he lectured, or at least they seemed to. Everyone
except Kyle. Only his eyes dare wander when I speak, he discerned, as Kyle
winced at yet another wasted football goal opportunity.
Mr. Tan also loved Physics. Since twelve, he
relished the thought of enlightening young and malleable minds about the wonderful
world of science. O, how he remembered his schooldays, always sitting in front,
always getting the right answers, always being praised, always teacher’s pet.
How he would passionately devote five unflinching, intensive hours a day
studying Physics in the library because the curriculum wasn’t challenging
enough. The good old days…
He snapped out of it and was transported forty
years into the present, from Tan Chong-Ming the prodigy to Mr. Tan the teacher.
How fast time flew.
Especially during my Physics lessons, he
thought. There’s never enough time for my lessons. Every time I get the
students energised enough to learn productively, every time I’m having fun cruising
along the syllabus, the dastardly bell rings. What’s wrong about schools today
is that they schedule too little time for science and too much for useless
subjects like Moral Knowledge.
Don’t ring, bell, hoped Mr. Tan. Please, I beg
of you, don’t ring.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
Thank you, God, smiled Kyle.
Blast it, cussed Mr. Tan. I wanted to finish
The students poured out of the class as fast as
they could. As Kyle was about to catch up with Jennifer, he heard: “Hold on, Kyle.
I’ll have a word with you.”
Kyle cursed his luck. Mr. Tan remembered his
missing project! “What’s up, sir?”
“I’ll be working on your final grades today.
Since you did not bring your project, you shall stay back and complete a test
for your marks. You understand?”
“Bu—but I’ve a date after school!”
“You do, indeed. With me. Remember, without
this test you will fail your Physics.”
Defeated, Kyle gave in. Bummer, he thought,
Jennifer won’t be happy.
“The time starts now.”
It was an inverse juxtaposition of sorts. Now,
Kyle lunged at his test questions at a furious pace, while Mr. Tan lounged in his
comfortable recliner with a relaxing anthology of poems.
…explain the Theory of Relativity in layman’s
terms, quoting Einstein…
To every thing there is a season, And a time to every purpose under heaven.
…sitting next to a pretty girl for an hour feels
like a minute; placing one’s hand on a hot stove for a minute feels like an
A time to search, and a time to give up as
lost; A time to keep, and a time to throw away.
…the time needed for K to reach the ground when
dropped from a height of…
The only audible sounds were the rustling of
pen against paper and the hypnotising tick-tock of the wall clock. Sweat
dripped profusely from Kyle’s forehead as Mr. Tan’s eyelids gradually grew
heavier. Kyle squirmed uncomfortably, jerkily, as he tried to hold it all in.
“May I use the bathroom, please?” Kyle pleaded,
still scribbling feverishly, not even looking up.
“Huhh–ah,” muttered Mr. Tan, caught unaware.
“You may, but there will be no extra time.”
Kyle swore under his breath for the second time
today, admonishing himself for forgetting to take the trip before the test, as
was his custom. He stopped himself, although he was thirsty, from adding to the
already burgeoning burden in his bladder. He did not have enough time to
accomplish both his mental and physiological tasks, and so after a quick value judgment
he chose the more important one.
…the large specific heat capacity of water…
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
…friction will substantially decrease velocity…
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
…differentiate Charles’ Law from Boyle’s…
To the last syllable of recorded time,
…interference destroys waves…
Out, out, brief candle!
…according to Newton’s Principia…
It is a tale
…Bernoulli’s principle was…
Told by an idiot,
Full of sound
…the nuclear advent…
He hurt everywhere. It was not only his throbbing
headache, sore fingers and bursting bladder, but also emotional agony, and a
pulsing dread of the immediate future. He was crucified, and he made his slow, painful,
encumbered walk down his via dolorosa to the bathroom.
It took quite a while to relieve himself of his
most pressing urge. He splashed his face with water, took a hard look at his
wretched self in the mirror, and decided that he had to face the cold, hard
truth. It was time to be a man. He started the long journey back.
A sense of irony prevailed. For Kyle, an hour
of Physics passed lethargically, excruciatingly; an hour of testing zipped by,
hastily, like an arrow to its target. Paradoxically, Mr. Tan was always acutely
aware of his lack of lesson time; while his leisurely, even sleep-inducing
invigilation session dragged by without him realising it.
Einstein was right. Time is relative.
Kyle found the room deserted,
but his paper was still on the table. He crept up to it, taking long strides that
lasted centuries. There he found it intact, but with newly added bold, red font:
APRIL FOOLS TO YOU TOO. I expect
your Physics project to be on my desk by 8 am sharp tomorrow.
P/S: Jennifer won’t be seeing you
this evening. I’ve grounded her for breaking her curfew last night.
Go to his blog and leave a congratulatory message.
And now, London, as promised.
We stopped over at London because IMPAC was generous and flexible enough, they booked air tickets with 3 days for us to visit London.
We stayed in Malaysia Hall (they had an 11 pm curfew you know!!!!!) where we could get Malaysian food cheap. Mmm.
London Heathrow SUCKS ass. Hot and old and LONG LINES. Why do they only have 2 immigration queues? Stupid. Ack.
London in summer is hot hot hot hot hot hot hot bloooooody hot. It was exactly like Malaysia, only less humid. I came all the way to feel this very familiar temperature? .........
I can't (don't want to) remember the chronological sequence, so it's all random.
We were here for the Changing of the Guards. Very boring and crowded, overrated. Red mounted soldiers on horses, yada yada yada. The only interesting bit was that the military band played the Beatles!
Statue of Victoria outside Buckingham Palace
St James' Park
Pelicans at St James Park
Eh, all the Monopoly site names come to play now eh! Hhehe. St James Park is in the Orange Group!
St James Park
Parliament Palace by night
I like this pic. The reflection tells it all: we were in a bus.
Hahahhahahahaha. Camera at some Underground station.
I LOVE the TUBE. MUACKS MUACKS it goes everywhere and is so bloooody cheap because you can get a unlimited day pass for 4 - 6 Pounds depending on which zone you're travelling to on the UNDERGROUND AND BUS.
Our LRT, on the other hand, is no doubt, air-conditioned, unlike the Tube, but the coverage is not very comprehensive.
(Think Abdullah Hukum is only 100? meters away from Midvalley Megamall - the stupid people didn't put an LRT stop at Megamall because they thought that would increase the competition to KLCC. Satoopeeed. And the LRT Bangsar free feeder bus that goes to Megamall is supposed to come every 30 minutes bt actually does every 90 minutes. Asses. I will NEVER go there again. Unless someone drives me there.)
Plus it's not integrated very well either compared to London. There were complimentary brochures about the various stops on the integrated lines there, but Malaysia doesn't even have one.
And the LRT is overpriced you stupid money sucking dumbasses who run it. $4.80 to go to KLCC and back!!!! I can eat two chicken rice meals la bodohs. No unlimited day passes, no unlimited monthly passes, no plans, nothing. Where is this komuniti penyayang ah, kerajaan yang aku cintai?
Parliament Palace from the London Eye. Very nice!!! They should start a KL Eye or something. Cool cool.
Oh yeah that reminds me that London is so paranoid after the July 7 bombings that they don't have TRASH CANS at ALL in their underground stations!!! Litter and garbade and rubbish = on the ground, baby. Hahahhaha mom and I thought that they were just as dirty as Malaysians, cause we couldn't find anything. Ahahahahahha so there's a reason behind that after all.
(Only the most recognized piece of Britain worldwide.)
@some old cathedral near Parliament Palace
Look at the Baroque spires man! Gothic architecture is always cool.
Eh the blue paint damn ugly right.
St Paul's Cathedral
Designed by the one and only Sir Christopher Wren.
Museum of Natural History, South Kensington
The brickwork is just so... awesome.
Got dinosaur fossils also you know? Coool leh, and the best thing was: IT WAS FREEEEEEEEEEEE. When was the last time a Museum in Malaysia was free?
King George V
Check out the feathered guests, his crowning glory.
There was a party of some sort!!! Guess what it was???
There was open proselytizing and free foooood, baby!
This (the open proselytizing part) would never happen in our
OH-WORLD, LOOK-AT-ME because I'm a paragon of multicultural, multireligious, multiethnic TOLERANCE AND UNDERSTANDING, the bastion of internationalism where so many races and so many religions can coexist peacefully and harmoniously, and where we can discuss ALL OUR ISSUES LIKE LOGICAL PEOPLE AND NOT ACT LIKE GANGSTERS unlike you European neo-imperialists and colonists and blatant hypocritical racists who only discriminiate against Muslims,
NOW, would it.
(Stop being a hypocrite, Badawi)
The guy who defeated Napoleon at Trafalgar.
This park was the nicest of all the parks in London. This and St James'. Hyde Park was nothing but weeeds and grasss.
News alert (I know, I'm repeating myself, but I can't help it)
SMKDJ WON FIRST and THIRD at
the HELP LAW OLYMPIAD 2006 !!!!!!
Pwnage la DJ this year. Rawr. Pn Lee sure damn happy one.
I wrote this article for theStar but I sent it in late so I don't know whether it's coming out one.
A free trip to Ireland for two, a seven day stint at one of the most happening cities in Europe, and a chance to meet the winner of the world's most lucrative literary award – not too bad a reward for listening to my mother and staying up late to write an essay on the extended competition deadline itself!
Winning the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for Young Malaysians 2006 came as an absolute surprise to me. I was already more than satisfied to be short listed. Before, I never really thought of myself as a writer; but now, I found confidence to explore a new, exciting field of study. Nevertheless, I was nothing less than thrilled when I won: my mom and I were going to the emerald green isle of Eire!
We arrived on Sunday, 11 June. The first thing I liked about Ireland was its weather; its cool, rejuvenating, I-can-hardly-break-a-sweat-even-if-I-run weather. Oh, how I relished the wonderful, perfect breeze bringing life back into my tired, jet-lagged frame. I instantly knew that I was going to like the place.
We were taken to the posh Morrison Hotel, where we were to reside for our entire trip. This centrally-located four-star hotel overlooks the River Liffey, which runs through the heart of Dublin City, or Atha Cliath in Irish.
River Liffey (a bit the dirty one. can see green mold, hehe)
Atha Cliath is a pleasant-sized city; not too big, not too small. Home to about 1.2 million residents, it is the capital of Ireland. A lot of its buildings still retain their original facades, and the city is a fusion of romantic cobblestone streets and Georgian and Edwardian architecture. I believe that there is a cap on a Dublin building's height at four or five storeys – there aren't any skyscrapers in Dublin! This policy preserves the city's cultural and historical atmosphere – ancient structures with their flying buttresses, soaring steeples and Romanesque columns seem more prominent this way.
(Look reeeally carefully and you'll see that the streets are strewn with cigarette butts. Dublin is as dirty as Malaysia, but it doesn't feel that way, because of the perfect weather and breeeeeeze.)
Georgian architecture (think red red red brick)
Tourism and immigration have given Dublin a very metropolitan, multicultural feel. Mom and I tried to guess of what ethnicity people we met on the streets were (Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French, Polish!), with varying degrees of success.
One thing about Dublin: it is an extremely walkable city. Everyone walked everywhere! There were traffic lights and pedestrian crossings at almost every junction, and even the waiting periods at these intersections were soothingly short. The perfect weather definitely made it easy – I couldn't resist going out for a stroll in such conditions. (It never once rained when we were there – Mom claimed that we brought the sun over from Malaysia!) Truly, the best way to explore Dublin is on foot.
Four/five storey cap for buildings.
I met the other Young Writers – John Raithel and mom from Rhode Island, and Britta Bell and dad from Connecticut. John had won for a story he wrote entitled Perimeters, and Britta, a poem called Keeping My Father. We trotted over to Trinity College Dublin for a walking tour and an exhibition of the famous Book of Kells.
Trinity College Dublin
Trinity College Dublin
The Book of Kells is an ornate, colourfully illustrated medieval manuscript produced by Celtic monks. Intricate artwork and stunningly complex decorations interweave with lavish calligraphy to create an awe-inspiring, breathtaking, almost sacred sight, even to the casual observer. Striking hues of green, red, purple, gold, pink and blue belie their true age. In the days when paints were painfully expensive and hard to obtain, surely the monks didn't spare any expense in its creation: pigments were acquired from all over Europe; the extraordinarily costly semi-precious blue lapis lazuli was imported from Afghanistan!
We then went over to the IMPAC Office to have an enjoyable, light, getting-to-know-you session with the illustrious Judging Panel for the International Literary Award. (They wouldn't tell us who won!)
Did you know that no less than four Irishmen have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, namely William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, and Seamus Heaney? Not forgetting giants Oscar Wilde and James Joyce, Ireland has contributed remarkably, disproportionately to world literature. And for this Irish literary heritage, the world's richest book prize – the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is held there.
Poet, Dramatist, Wit: Oscar Wilde lived here
Dublin Coat of Arms. But check out the irony: Flaming castles and obendientia in Dublin.
John, Britta, Me
It was there, in Dublin City Hall, where we were among the selected few to learn, first-hand, that Colm Toibin had won the award and the 100,000 Euros for his tour-de-force, The Master. He is the first Irishman to win the award since its conception.
John, Britta, Colm Toibin, Me
Actually I won lah.
Later, Mom and I went on a walking tour of the city, where we visited, among other Dublin landmarks, the all-imposing Dublin Castle, historic Temple Bar, refreshing St. Stephen's Green, and a few ornate, antique churches. We would also attend the celebration dinner for Colm Toibin, where we would eat our hearts out and receive complimentary autographed copies of the winning book!
Mom and I, Christchurch Cathedral Dublin
I like the pic mah.
The Young Writers and their parents were escorted to the IMPAC Office to meet the newly crowned Colm Toibin. It was very nice to get to know him personally; Colm was very humble, very down-to-earth. We congratulated and chatted with him about what it meant to be a writer, and about his experiences as one. His advice: take note of anything that motivates, touches, enrages, discourages, inspires, frightens you. Anything at all – for it is from your personal experience that you draw from when you write.
Rubbish!!! Mala = Bag in Irish.
The Four Courts
Next, Judge Eugene Sullivan, the chair of the Judging Panel and former Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals, took us on a tour of the Irish Supreme Court – the Four Courts. There we witnessed a civil hearing, saw some dangerous criminals in handcuffs, talked to an Irish judge, and took in some legal trivia from our affable guide. Did you know that toilets in courtrooms have a form of ultraviolet lighting to make it next to impossible for people to locate their veins, thus deterring them from committing suicide in the heat of legal action? Now you do!
Today was a free day. Mom and I went on a bus tour to the south of Dublin, where we saw dramatic changes in scenery from the flat, sandy beaches to the East and the alternating green hills and rocky mountains to the West.
We went to Powerscourt Gardens, which is this gigantic, hauntingly beautiful, aristocratic estate to the southwest of Dublin. Its main mansion is said to be based on Versailles, albeit on a much smaller scale. Here we could see endless miles of evergreen forest stretching into the misty horizon. There were also the vast seas of emerald plains for which Eire is so famous for, and that very site was where the movie Braveheart was filmed! C'est magnifique!
The entire delegation went to a couple of readings held for the Dublin Writer's Festival where we listened to several accomplished, internationally-acclaimed novelists and poets present an eclectic selection of their work.
The harp: a symbol of Ireland
That afternoon was also quite an experience, catching the World Cup live from a hotel room in Europe!
The nights I had were reserved for hanging out with John and Britta – chatting and joking, alternating between school, life, politics, other deep stuff, and nothing much in particular. I had my first pint of Guinness. It wasn't bad, but comparatively, it's staggeringly thicker than other beers. Surprisingly, even in Guinness' birthplace, beer was quite expensive: 4 Euro for a pint (500 ml)!
Statue of Guinness founder in St Stephen's Green!!!
We left the next day for London.
I wish to thank IMPAC for making this trip so enjoyable for me and my mom. Thank you so much for your flexibility and generosity. Also, another huge thank you to the IMPAC staff in Dublin: Linda and Tana for taking care of us so well, and Chris and Gorpin for taking us out so often to make sure that we'd get at least one good meal a day!
All in all, my trip to Ireland was immensely fulfilling. I definitely see myself going back again. Now, if only they'd change the age limit next year…
Why Israel is damned if it does and damned it it doesn't
Edited: CHECK OUT THIS VERY APT CARTOON!
Hizbullah is not made of idiots. They are highly intelligent, calculative strategists. Their newest action has forced Israel into another Catch-22 situation.
1) Hizbullah kidnaps 2 Israeli soliders.
2) Israel has to do something. If it does nothing, the coalition government will fall, of course. And it's simple psychology. You do nothing to retaliate, you lose face, you lose support. You are weak. You get voted off.
Hizb 1, Israel 0.
a) Negotiatewith Hizbullah, exchange few thousand prisoners for 2 soldiers. Hizbullah wins, Israel loses face. Moreover this will incite Hizb to launch MORE kidnappings to free MORE prisoners.
Hizb 2, Israel 0.
b) Force Lebanon or whatever external organization to force Hizbullah to return the soldiers. Will not happen. Hizb listens to no one.
c)Do it themselves - invade Lebanon and get rid of Hizbullah. Hizbullah still wins, because
1) Although they might lose the military war, they will win the political war - casualties from the Lebanese will definitely outweigh Israeli civilian deaths, and they can count on the World to condemn Israel, yet again.
Hizbullah 3, Israel 0
2) People are nothing to Hizbullah, and everything to Israel. Hizbullah sees people like Arafat the Corrupt did, as matyrs, as compulsory sacrifices, as collateral damage, as world sympathy bait. They don't care how many people from their country die, the more the better, for the world will condemn Israel.
Hizbullah 4, Israel 0.
3) Hizb hides their weapons amongst civilian targets. Kill more people, yay! Israel, of course, seeks to minimize civilian casualties but cannot because of this often overlooked fact. Hizb on the other hand invites the Israelis to kill more people, becuase in their dictionary loss of life = political gain mah. You really think Israel is that daft to want to kill more civilians for fun meh?
Hizb 5 Israel 0
4) Israel has to INVADE sovereign Lebanon to get Hizb. Bad political maneuver. Sure kena hentam one. What to do? Lebanon so weak, cannot disarm Hizbullah, so Hizbullah is grabbing them by the balls lah!
Hizb 6 Israel 0
5) Hizb will batter down Israeli columns into a bloody guerrilla war in southern Lebanon. Remember, every Israeli casualty inflicted is horrendous loss to Israel, while Hizb can't wait to sacrifice more martyrs. As I think King Saud of Saudi Arabia once said in the 1948 War of Liberation, "there are 50 million Arabs and 1 million Jews. What would it be to sacrifice 5 million Arabs to throw all the Jews into the sea?" The longer the war is, the more Israel will suffer, and it will suffer more than Hizbullah.
Hezbollah's motto is: "You love life, we love death." There is nothing, gushes Hezbollah's patron Ahmadinejad, "more beautiful, holier or more eternal than the death of a martyr."
What are you going to do to a group which WILL NOT BE CONTENTED UNTIL YOU ARE WIPED OUT FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH? What CAN you do? They don't care if they die, they WANT to DIE! Rhetoric it may all be, but you know how fanatical people can be from rhetoric la (think Hitler and his Nazis).
Imagine if an Israeli PM says that he wants to wipe out the Palestinians from the face of the earth to put it into perspective OK.
Only some other selective people can say things like these (wiping people off the face of the earth), start a war, and get away with it, and even be supported by 10% of the world's population.
The irony is that Israel can win 100 brilliant, against the odds wars and still be insecure, while if it loses just ONE, it can be destroyed forever.
Israel is damned if it invades, and damned if it doesn't. Israel. is. trapped. by this ingenious, brilliant political maneuver by Hizbullah.
Given all these of course lah Israel doesn't care what others think.
And so Hizbullah is MOSTLY, if not SOLELY responsible for the destruction of Lebanon, responsible for escalating every act of violence now. The blame IS theirs. Stupid, brilliant, crazy, heartless Hizbullah. If you want to point your fingers, point it at Hizbullah.
Hizbullah is willing to sacrifice the entire country of Lebanon and lose another military war to score another political victory against Israel. Much like Arafat sacrificed his hundreds of Palestinians and kept them in poverty and susceptible to fanatical illusions to spite Israel.
Go on, Malaysia, support these godless beasts.
But of course, the stupid, horrendously idiotic, inhumane way Israel has been treating the Palestinians is another thing.
But as Kuan Chuen said, it's alllll politics! Yay.
Why Hizbullah will still be in power in Lebanon? Because although the Lebanese hate Hizbullah for inviting Israel in wreak havoc on their fragile country, the politicians cannot say it out loud, because in true Malaysian fashion, saying that would mean that you are against Hizbullah and if you're against Hizbullah you're for the Israelis and if you're for the Israelis you're a traitor. Lebanon is TOO FRACTURED, politically, militarily and economically to take a stand against Hizbullah. It will remain in the Lebanese political scape for years to come.
And also a huge part of the Arab population in countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia support Hizbullah for being able to whack the Israelis up unlike their cowardly governments. See lar, if the war continues you'll see these people going to Lebanon to fight some more as irregulars.