Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Nice from far; far from nice
Malaysia's newest icon Klia2 is certainly nice from far. But using it is far from nice! 

You seem to have to walk for miles to reach your aircraft. Arriving is worse if you have to use the airport's taxi service. Signage was poor; fortunately, the staff are courteous enough to give your direction. You need to descend one floor to reach the taxi rank. Sorry lah if you are arriving or returning with heavy baggage! And the girls manning the taxi coupon counters, besides their lack of proficiency in English, have hardly been trained for the job; most destinations to them - as far as I can see - appear to be located in the outer space! 

Distance-wise, Klia2 is fractionally nearer to my pad in Saujana Resort than KLIA1. The fare for a premier taxi from KLIA1 is $85.20  (or thereabout). But it is something like $118 for the same class from Klia2. You save on budget air travel only to be slugged on the ground! (The drivers are hardly to be blamed, though.)

How many bosses there practise MBWA (management by walking about)??? Instead of going all over the world to study other great airports to emulate, I suggest they to to Changi to see how things are done there. And Changi is only 300km or thereabout from Klia2.

Hotel Elevators

These are the lift buttons you often see in many hotels. The panel below is one I found in Pan Pacific Serviced Suites at Beach Road, Singapore. The buttons' brightness has been enhanced by my phone camera's flash; they are otherwise darker. If you are using their elevators for the first time, you are likely to fumble a little. Where is the bloody one for Floor 13? Or Floor 7? Do any of these engineers have common sense, let alone brains? 

There is also this need to use your room's card key to activate floor access. The one you see here is not too bad; all you have to do is to press the key card against the card reader box. But some do require you to insert the card fully into a slot. Just imagine when there are many guests trying to go up to their floors? If you are housed in one of the lower floors, by the time you get a chance to insert your card key, the lift would have gone past your floor!

Vision 20/20
Design of elevators is the responsibility of engineers, which I am one. But I am in total agreement with the following observations which have been extended to me by, of course, a non-engineer friend:

Understanding Engineers #1
Two engineering students were biking across a university campus when one said, "Where did you get such a great bike?"

The second engineer replied, "Well, I was walking along yesterday, minding my own business, when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike, threw it to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, "Take what you want."

The first engineer nodded approvingly and said, "Good choice: The clothes probably wouldn't have fit you anyway."

Understanding Engineers #2

To the optimist, the glass is half-full. To the pessimist, the glass is half-empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Understanding Engineers #3

A priest, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers.

The engineer fumed, "What's with those guys? We must have been waiting for fifteen minutes!"

The doctor chimed in, "I don't know, but I've never seen such inept golf!"

The priest said, "Here comes the greens-keeper. Let's have a word with him." He said, "Hello George, What's wrong with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?"

The greens-keeper replied, "Oh, yes. That's a group of blind firemen. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime!"

The group fell silent for a moment. The priest said, "That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight."

The doctor said, "Good idea. I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist colleague and see if here's anything she can do for them."

The engineer said, "Why can't they play at night?"

Understanding Engineers #4
What is the difference between mechanical engineers and civil engineers? Mechanical engineers build weapons. Civil engineers build targets.

Understanding Engineers #5

The graduate with a science degree asks, "Why does it work?"

The graduate with an engineering degree asks, "How does it work?"
The graduate with an accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?"

The graduate with an arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with that?"

Understanding Engineers #6

Three engineering students were gathered together discussing who must have designed the human body.

One said, "It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints."

Another said, "No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous system has many thousands of electrical connections."

The last one said, "No, actually it had to have been a civil engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?"

Understanding Engineers #7

Normal people believe that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.

Understanding Engineers #8

An engineer was crossing a road one day, when a frog called out to him and said, "If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful princess."

He bent over, picked up the frog, and put it in his pocket.

The frog spoke up again and said, "If you kiss me, I'll turn back into a beautiful princess and stay with you for one week."

The engineer took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket.

The frog then cried out, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you for one week and do anything you want."

Again, the engineer took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket.

Finally, the frog asked, "What is the matter? I've told you I'm a beautiful princess and that I'll stay with you for one week and do anything you want. Why won't you kiss me?"

The engineer said, "Look, I'm an engineer. I don't have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog - now that's cool."

And Finally

Two engineers???

Two engineers were standing at the base of a flagpole, looking at its top.

A woman walked by and asked what they were doing.

"We're supposed to find the height of this flagpole," said Sven, "but we don't have a ladder."

The woman took a wrench from her purse, loosened a couple of bolts, and laid the pole down on the ground. Then she took a tape measure from her pocketbook, took a measurement, announced, "Twenty one feet, six inches," and walked away.

One engineer shook his head and laughed, "A lot of good that does us. We ask for the height and she gives us the length!"

Both engineers have since quit their engineering jobs and are currently serving in the United States Congress.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

"Kurang Ajar"

In the wake of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, Indonesia had to be bailed out by IMF. The country's signatory was none other than President Suharto. There was nothing really humiliating about it; after all, Korea and Thailand also found themselves in the same shoe. However, the picture of the ceremony was most disconcerting: Witnessing the Strongman penning his signature from behind - with arms folded - was the Managing Director of IMF. He acted like an all mighty conqueror. 

This is "kurang ajar". In English, it can be loosely translated as "less instructed". But this translation does not quite do justice to its full meaning. Anyone who sees this picture will know what I mean. There are serious kurang ajar as well as minor kurang ajar consequences; they are kurang ajar behaviours nonetheless.

In a widely reported case in Pahang recently, a young woman was caught in camera abusing a senior citizen after the latter accidentally bumped into her new Peugeot. The damage suffered by her car was minor, but she went on to snatch the man's car keys and steering lock and used the latter to repeatedly hit the man's car. She also used racial slurs on the man. The man had to suffer the indignity but he remained composed. The video went viral. This is "kurang ajar".

I myself was a victim of this racial rage one morning many many years ago. I used Jalan Damansara to travel to office. Morning traffic was usually heavy along this road. I had to apply my brake when the car in front came to a halt. Moments later, I felt a jerk from the back; someone had knocked into me. I came down to investigate. What shocked me was this: The driver alighted from his car and charged at me aggressively and went on to accuse me of causing the accident. He next spit into my face and called me "kurang ajar". Could I afford to start a racial riot?

It is very common for children in western societies to call their fathers and even grand fathers "John, Jack, etc. This is kurang ajar to us. But to the westerners, there is really nothing kurang ajar about it. If you didn't insist that your children call you "papa" or "dad", would they know that it should be so? But in our society, we teach our children to respect elders. I naturally expect to be addressed as Mr Lim by people who are junior to me in age or rank. But increasingly I am seeing more and more "educated" young executives calling me "Yu Book" - as if I am a buddy to them. I would say these people are kurang ajar too. To those who has acquired this kurang ajar taste, I urge you to drop it. Don't assume!

Some people are fond of throwing potshots at friends and colleagues. These people think that people enjoy their "cleverness". To me, this is also a form of kurang ajar behaviour too. These people don't realise that many in the receiving end are too dignified to lower themselves to trade barbs with them. I have come across many such characters in work. They are very kiau-su and usually have low EQ. Many of them are very intelligent individuals. What is totally lacking in them is WISDOM. I myself was guilty of such behaviours during my sixth form days. I used to call a good nature classmate names; he never retaliated. I got to catch up with him years later, I could see that he was giving me cold shoulders. (Foo Pak, if you are reading this, I know how you have felt; thousand apologies!)

A very senior banker after his retirement was invited by a wealthy client to do some part-time work. In a meeting overseas, the "boss" suddenly went berserk and pronounced his 60-year-old new recruit kurang ajar - just because he was "caught" responding to the boss's "lecture" with a gentle smile. After the meeting, which I had the misfortune of witnessing, this gentleman excused himself and took the next flight back. He said he was prepared to be scolded, but by being called kurang ajar, the boss was insulting his parents, which was the straw that broke the camel's back - as far as his tolerance was concerned.

As parents and responsible adults, we need to help weed out this kurang ajar attitude.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ayers Rock

Aborigines? Some are whiter than White Aussies!

How not to laugh all the way to the bank - the rate for this modest hotel is more than AUD300 per night!

In front of the Holy Rock
Ayers Rock is said to be one of the great natural icons of Australia. Running out of ideas to take our two grand kids for this winter's two-week school break in Melbourne, my wife and I decided to do a five-day, four-night visit to Uluru, which geographically is almost the bull-eye of the Australian continent. Temperature in winter ranges from -2 to 22!

The Jetstar flight was full and like all budget airlines, the legroom is tight, even for an average Asian like me. The Caucasian sitting next to me had to keeping shifting himself to feel at ease. It was a 2-1/2 hour ordeal!

There are only three hotels in Uluru. The room was most spartan; everything was quite basic, yet, we had to pay something like A$300 per day per room! There is only restaurant in our hotel; again it is nothing fanciful, yet there is a need to book. There are two other outlets, one a take-away do and the other, a BBQ yard where meat is the only choice!

There is a "town centre", which is nothing more than a square with a restaurant, a cafe, a take-away noodle wok, a mini market, a couple of shops for souvenirs and aboriginal art and an open "theatre" for visitors to enjoy (and take part in - if you are game) the aborigines' traditional dances, which mimicked animals like emu, kangaroo, iguana, etc. At night, a long queue to patronise the restaurant prompted us to settle for the wok, where three adults could possibly share a single order - thanks to the palatability, or the lack of it, of its food. All visitors can make use of a shuttle which plies the loop which the whole Uluru is built- maybe around two kilometres or so.

Oh, we flew 2,500 km to see the great rock; surely we must make the best out of the visit! We had to leave early to experience the sunrise, followed by a walk around he perimeter of Ayers Rock. The tour guide talked about the legends of Koniya, Liru and Langatha (the human form of their legendary non-poisonous snake, the venomous snake and the blue tongue lizard respectively) - all so awe-inspiring and sacred to the local tribes. To me, this basically explains the inertia behind the Darwinian trap even though these people ware said to be amongst the first to leave Africa some 40 or 50 millennia ago. And most surprisingly, not a single aborigine could be sighted in this heartland of theirs.

The only consolation was Camel on the Sunset. It was well organised and my grand kids, who usually prefer their iPads to wildlife, were pretty satisfied with the ride.