Sunday, June 21, 2020

Civic-Consciousness – Is there such a thing in many of us?

Come weekends and public holidays, in the early morning you will see long rows of cars parked along the pavements of Persiaran Golf at the Saujana Resort. These visitors are taking advantage of the tranquility of the place to jog and exercise. You can tell that most of them are white collar professionals. Many are well-mannered; they will greet if there is eye-contact.

However, for resident walkers like me, I find the way the cars are parked a nuisance. First, they block your way and you must go to the road proper to navigate ahead. Second, they damage the pavements, which are only coated with a thin layer of concrete. Many sections have already been broken up by the weight of vehicles. These people are educated, I just cannot understand why they don’t bother to think. Whenever I happened to cross path with one, I would suggest he or she give a thought to my concerns. Some understood; others gave me the “So what?” look. Be that as it may, you still see the same habit being exhibited, nonetheless.

I have written to the City Council and the District Police of Shah Alam about this. Unfortunately, I have yet to receive an acknowledgement, let alone any action on my complaint. I suppose they are too busy to be concerned with this trivial matter.

Yes, the matter may be trivial, but it says a great deal about our citizenry culture, or the lack of it.

Persiaran Golf is quite well kept. But you still some bad littering habit, probably by workers and visitors – food wrappers and containers, beverage cans and bottles, plastic bags and now used masks. You also see abandoned cars from time to time. Why are people so un-civic conscious?

Even the golfers are guilty. This Persiaran Golf is also the artery to Saujana Golf Course. I would say most of them have totally disregard for good driving protocols. Many don’t bother to slow down let alone stop for pedestrians when they want to enter or exit the branch road leading to their club house! I suppose they believe they are the higher mortals in society.

These ABCs should be inculcated from young. But how many parents and teachers are conscious of having to be civic-conscious?

Friday, June 19, 2020

Some Loose Thoughts on China

Despite all our self-exultation that we of Chinese heritage are always thinking of long-term when we plan and act, I see the realities are that many of us are also very emotional in decision-making to the detriment of our long-term interests.

Being an ethnic Chinese, I could help feeling proud if I saw achievements coming from Chinese, regardless of their geographic origin – Mainland, Taiwan, or overseas. It is just natural that my blood begins to boil each time I see China being acted upon unfairly by any country. As we all know, the Five Eyes are going all out to demonize China. But a few other countries are also happy to see China fall – significantly India, Japan, and Vietnam. The people there have forgotten what the West have inflicted upon them historically. I suppose that is their choice.

But China should act more mindfully – a combination of Sun-tze and Kung-tze. In Sun-tze, it is tactical - keep things close to your chest, spring surprises, ruffle one end but attach the other, etc. In Kung-tze, stay true to your philosophy and principles, which should include  humanity virtues like magnanimity and what-have-you.

Know your enemies well is No 1 in strategic lessons.

I must confide in my lack of confidence in Chinese products even at this moment. The Chinese are entirely capable of coming up with world-class products, but they seem to be very weak in conveying their products’ features and benefits. I recently bought a Xiaomi CCTV system. They are selling to the world. No doubt there is English instruction, but the woman’s way of speaking Chinese can really irritate your ears. And the instruction was so Mickey-mousy that you feel like giving the gadget a hard knock.

CGTN is China’s channel to the world. But somehow it appears not that sharp if you compare it to CNN or BBC or CAN. I thought China’s ICT technology is second to none in the world. I also seem to have difficulty in opening its pages in CGTN’s mobile app. Many a time, it read “Load Fail”. Is it my Internet or my Apple phone? But I do not seem to have problems of this nature with CNN, BBC, and CNA. I had used China-made Android phones before and had never been satisfied with their features. So much has been said of Huawei’s preeminence. I shall try the next time I need to change my phone. Hopefully, it lives up to its reputation. Moreover, I am a great fan of Ren Zhengfei.

My message to China is simply that they must pay more attention to details and world feedback!

I was surprised that Mike Pompeo had requested to meet with the Chinese leadership. However, I was disappointed that China had dispatched Councilor Yang Jiechi to Hawaii for the meeting. Councilor Yang is certainly a distinguished diplomat. But he is too much of a nice uncle or mild school assistant headmaster for a wolf like Pompeo. The West only respects might or machoism. I always think you need someone like Wang Yi or one of the rougher type leaders to handle Pompeo. Afterall, nothing much will ultimately materialize even if Pompeo or Trump were to concede anything in the meeting. Trump is forever changing his mind.

My message to China: Do not believe in what Trump or Pompeo undertakes! Just play Tai-chi with them!

A Thing or Two about Entrepreneurship or Initiative

Friends would have read that I had been taken for a ride by Astro for years. I was mad at Astro’s attitude and decided to cancel my subscription of its Internet-TV package. I emailed to serve notice on them. I received a “Do Not Reply” advice asking me to contact 03-9543-3838 and follow the prompts to effect the disconnection. It is all rubbish because the instruction does not take it there. It is “Sorry, good-bye” after the first two prompts.

I finally got another lead. Someone had advised me to try this number instead: 03-9543-1543. It worked and I managed to speak with someone at Astro and got the message through. I could help rubbing a little salt. I said I had read so much negative feedback on Astro that I was worried for his job!

Do people up in the ivory tower at Astro really know what they are doing? I honestly doubt it.

We cannot obviously do without Internet now. I signed up with Time. The technician who came to install the service is the same one who did my Astro package installation two years ago. He still could remember. Time’s 500 Mbps is more or less my need. But as expected, the Wi-Fi signal was too weak for my desktop use at my study. I asked him if he could offer me any solution. Adnan is a helpful man. But he was totally without much idea when it comes to things like this. I do not mean to be racist. But I think some cultures simply do not quite build in INITIATIVE into their DNA. He has been on the business of installing Internet for many years, yet Adnan is totally quite blind to opportunities. I am sure many would be happy to buy Wi-Fi extenders/boosters if he were able to help solve issues on the spot. I always admire people who know how to think beyond the box – so long as they do not try to take advantage of their service.

A visit to a digital mall solved all my weak Wi-Fi issues. The chap at one of the stores was able to walk through all the ABCs of 2.4Ghz versus 5Ghz connections. He was happy to offer me some token discounts on the Fast Mesh Wi-Fi system that he suggested for my use. 

No wonder his store is full of customers! It is all a matter of INITIATIVES. And indeed innate entrepreneurship. 

Friday, June 12, 2020

Daylight Robbery

I had been using Pos Laju for my courier needs until I found that they were not competitive in their charges. Private service providers seem to be able to offer better rates.

During the early days of Malaysia’s Movement Control Order restrictions, I chanced upon this FMX service at Citta Mall, which is quite near my apartment. I wanted to send a couple of books to a friend in Melaka. To my pleasant surprise, I was told it would cost me only some MYR8. I gave the counter MYR10 and was more than happy to say, “keep the change”, since I wanted to minimize hand contacts.

I had a light document to send to Singapore this afternoon and thought FMX should be a good choice. To my horror, the counter quoted MYR70 plus.

What, have you made a mistake?

The woman who was manning the counter showed me a schedule. True enough, it was to be MYR70 plus – the minimum cost.

How could I pay for such an exorbitant charge? I proceeded to another provider at the nearby Evolve.

MYR14.50. City-Link ok? The counter girl asked.

I just cannot understand; hadn’t these companies do a little bit of homework before they launched their business? MYR14.50 versus MRY70 plus? Five times?

I suppose many think they can take customers for a ride. Daylight robbery for sure!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Astro's Atrocious Service

My wife and I normally spend, cumulatively, only three or four months a year in Malaysia. We do not usually bother about television programmes, but I do watch news. We first went for Unifi’s IPTV package, but Unifi’s did not offer good news channels. We decided to switch. Astro’s MYR215 IPTV package looked better and its men promised that my Internet speed, though at the time of offer was only 10 Mbps, would be upgraded to 30 and later 100 Mbps. Whenever we were in town, the Internet connections were adequate enough for us, although my wife did complain that she was not able to access her favourite Korean drama channels often.

Then the Movement Control Order restrictions kicked in. We literally got locked in. TV news channel hopping became a habit. My wife also spends more time on my Korean drama channels. And my Singapore meetings are now conducted via Zoom.

I began to realise that my Internet was not stable, and the speed was low. The service kept stalling. I called up Astro. They told me that my contract is for the 10 Mbps service. And there is NO way that could do anything, even though my neighbours are enjoying high-speed Internet deliveries. My neighbours have long abandoned Astro; their Android Boxes are giving them all the satisfactions! And the TV and VoD services are absolutely FREE!

What’s Astro up to? Killing the goose that lays golden eggs? They should value customers like us who believe in fairness, for I am happy to pay for the services provided.

I have written to Astro, attaching their own people’s email message sent to me some two years ago that I would be entitled to 100 Mbps; unfortunately, at the point of writing, they have yet to respond!

I suppose I should just follow the wise neighbours, pay only MYR135 a month for 500 Mbps and get myself an Android Box for my TV and VoD needs.

Silly Astro!

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

CCTV6, General History of China

A friend forwarded this link to me:

This is a 100-episode history of China produced by CCTV6. It spans the last five thousand years or so of China’s history. The length of each episode is about 45 minutes. It will take you 75 hours to view all of them.

I must say it has been well-researched and produced. However, I do take exception to a couple of things:

1. While most of the experts who were invited to give commentaries on the various important historical figures and events do appear to be authoritative in what they say, I just could not help conclude that many are story tellers, rather than researchers in the true academic sense. Supposedly private or intimate conversations, say between the emperor and his favourite concubine, or between a minister and his adversary or confidant, were used by them to draw conclusions, how could this be acceptable? They may argue that they have the “historical records” to back them up, but these records also carry the same baggage.

2. You often hear “million-strong army” or “hundreds of thousand-men army” were mobilized to go into a battle. But I thought I heard the populations of the early dynasties were about 60-70 million or so. And there were divided into so many warring states. How could each have such a strong force? Early historians sure loved to exaggerate.

I am surprised that this series is only available on YouTube. It will be good if it can be also made available on DVDs. I am sure it will also be welcomed by non-Chinese speakers. One with English subtitles is apparently available, but it is too grainy for viewing comfort.