Thursday, December 06, 2012

Merdeka Photos

Right, so first things first, to fulfill my promise of putting up photos from the Merdeka Appreciation Day in Krash Pad. Yeah, yeah that was so 4 months ago.

But the photos are here! Special thanks to our awesome photographer, Megan for the lovely photos. Looking forward to work on a similar project with my team on our next summer break, insyaAllah :)

In no specific order. 

The Krash Pad children, the team and Tunku Abidin giving a big 'Merdeka!' cheer for the camera.

The children listening intently to our special Merdeka talk and video viewing

L-R: Alia, Kist, Elena, Alia, Tunku Abidin, me, Arvind

The judges of the Merdeka plays

Elena listening in to her group's ideas for their short play

Tunku Abidin giving his special Merdeka address to the children

The team with the programme coordinator of Krash Pad, Hasrul

Replica of Tugu Negara by them

That's all of us again. Till next year, hopefully! 

Thursday, November 08, 2012


I was recently locked out of my blogspot account for a couple of months. Terrible, I tell ya. But all is good  now!

A lot has happened and I will write as much as I can. When I find the time and energy. Looking at the graphs of this blog, I still have some loyal readers who still visit this space. Thank you and you shall be rewarded with more stories in the near future ;)

I'll leave you with a couple of recent photos of mine. Speak soon! 

Where I'll be spending my next 3 years at.

KY peeps on a visit to Sheffield

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Merdeka Story

I was never big on Merdeka. Always thought it was just another public holiday. Can't even be bothered to switch on the television to watch the big parade on the morning of Merdeka.

But I decided on something different this year. I've not been back in Krash Pad for quite some time and recently saw the opportunity to organise something for the kids. Merdeka Appreciation Day! That's right. Managed to rope in a few of my friends to help out and they turned out to be such pleasure to work with.

When we planned it, we were thinking hard how to make the day educational yet exciting for the kids. Nothing too heavy or else we risk turning the day into another Sejarah lesson. So, we decided on a few activities; Merdeka charades, screening of old Merdeka advertisements, sketches by the kids on how they view Merdeka and a session on traditional costume designing.

I loved the sketches by the kids. They were divided into 3 teams and were given 20 minutes prep time to come up with a 5 to 7 minutes sketch. The first team's sketch was on how young people these days are so consumed with the modern life that they have forgotten old history and how much our ancestors have sacrificed for us.

Another team's sketch was a replay of the things that happened during pre-Independence. The violence by Japanese army, the Malayan army fighting hard against the enemies despite the lack of sophisticated weaponry, the hard lives of Malayans before Merdeka etc. The final team's sketch was divided into different eras; pre-Merdeka, during Merdeka and post-Merdeka phases. How our lives have changed for the better with each phase but a lot still has to be done.

So nice kan? There were some errors in their historical facts but that aside, I was amazed with these kids' creativity and confidence. They came up with the whole plot, script and acting within 20 minutes! Incredible.

We were also fortunate to have Tunku Abidin Muhriz (IDEAS founding president and one of the trustees for Yayasan Chow Kit) and his cousin, Tengku Munazirah (founder of Hope Factory) with us. I first met Tunku Abidin at McKinsey YLA dinner a month back and we discovered our common ground: Krash Pad. He told me to let him know if I was coming down to the centre anytime soon and there he was yesterday. Tunku Abidin gave a speech on Merdeka to the kids, stressing on the importance to appreciate our History better and hope the kids would study hard and contribute to the nation one day.

We brought chocolates, cupcakes and even a hamper for the winning team! These kids are such joy to be with. As usual, when you're doing a project with them, they're not the only ones who will learn something, we (the organiser) are also on the receiving end. Forget the 'Janji Ditepati' theme, the ridiculous notion we have to be thankful for what our politicians have done when it is in fact their job and put aside the politicking that goes on within our nation.

Yesterday was so innocent and pure. The day spent with kids who have nothing but love and good thoughts for the country. Despite being at-risk children, like what Alia Astaman said on her Twitter, " whose love for the country was unconditional and untainted by political agenda; simple and trusting." If these are the kind of youths we have then perhaps all is not lost.

Kist also shared this very interesting inside story on Tunku Abdul Rahman; how he was badly treated by the British when he went to London to get the independence agreement. He was put in a room where if it rained, the water will seep through the ceiling, he was served food on plates that had cracks. Basically, he was treated no better than the man on the street. But this man swallowed his pride for the nation and clinched the independence for us in the most peaceful manner. THIS is the kind of leader we can be thankful for especially when he did not go around asking people to thank him for his significant work.

Can't thank my team enough; Alia Astaman, Alia Ezannee, Arvind, Elena and Kist. I'm glad you guys had fun as much as the kids did. Definitely our most meaningful Merdeka so far, yes? At least to me. 

Another thing we realized, we are horrible at speaking formal Malay! Especially in public. There really is a difference between speaking the conversational Malay and the formal tahap Dewan Bahasa Malay. Though I've to say, Tunku Abidin had the worst Malay among us on that day. Hehe sorry Tunku! But really :p

Will post some photos from the day. As soon as our wonderful photographer, Megan pass them to us. Thank you, Megan for being such a great sport too!

Selamat Hari Kemerdekaan yang ke-55, kawan-kawan :)

Friday, August 10, 2012

D-day is coming!

So, A-level results will be out this coming Monday. Am I nervous?

Heck yeaahh!

It's nerve-wrecking that all those 2 years in KY boil down to this one moment. Kinda like SPM but this is even more crucial. Imagine, 2 years of our lives which we will never get back, our future and where we will go for the next 3 to 4 years, RM400,000 worth of scholarship/parents money are at stake. All will be revealed this Monday.

I can't say much of my chances. Will I strike my straight As or will I walk away with less-than-impressive results? People keep telling me, "Ahh, I'm sure you'll make it!" or "You'll ace them la, no worries." or "Insyaallah, mesti dapat semua As kan". Very kind of them to say it and I think most of them sincerely meant what they said. But I've to be honest, the last 2 years have not been a walk in the park for me.

I never had a moment of surety where I could confidently say, "Yes, I'm gonna make it!" There is always a "But what if...?" echoing the thought right after. One thing I was sure of was that I definitely worked harder in my last year in KY. My AS results was the much-needed wake up call, calling me for a change in my game plan.

But I can't be sure if it was all enough, enough to guarantee me my scholarship and university place in Bristol. Which led me to think of 101 different back-up plans if I happen to miss my AAA mark. My parents have assured me they WILL send me to university this September. If not in the UK then perhaps a twinning programme somewhere locally first. I suggested a gap year so I could apply to the US but mehh, I'm already so old! It'll take me half a decade to get my undergraduate degree.

At this point of time, all I really want is to make my parents proud and at best, not to burden them in any way. But I think I've to accept that whatever happens after this is, it is by Allah's grace.

If I do meet my scholarship and university requirements then alhamdulillah, this is the path He wants me to walk on.

And if I don't meet the requirements then I'm sure Allah will lead me to another path. A detour or a different route but He will get me there, Insyaallah.

All the best for Monday, friends!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The McKinsey experience

This post is one week late. I've been busy and lazy. Mostly lazy. Hehe.

Anyhow, I applied for McKinsey Youth Leadership Academy, got interviewed and got into this year's programme! In the next 7 weeks, we'll be divided into teams and we're supposed to come up with a social entrepreneurship initiative which will be presented to our mentors at the end of the tenure.

But first, we had to go through the first workshop which was about a week ago. Got to rub shoulders with some of the impressive industry leaders and learn a whole lot from their stories and advice. 

First half of the day, we had 3 guest speakers who came to share their experiences in their respective fields. Mark Chang; CEO of Jobstreet, Khairy Jamaluddin; UMNO heartthrob and MP of Rembau as well as Azran Osman Rani; CEO of AirAsia X.

Mark Chang talked about his humble beginning as he hailed from a poor family in Kampar, Perak. Today, he is the CEO of a company worth more than RM700 million. Mark said the 4 pillars he holds to when managing his business are 1) Make sure the company is profitable 2) Create a happy working environment 3) Leave an impact on society 4) Humility

These are not magic recipes, by any means but they are noble pillars to hold on to and clearly, it has paid off well for Mark Chang. 

Next up was KJ who spoke on his leadership experiences in politics. A politician with one of the best oratory skills around, no doubt. Some of the points he touched include the need to diagnose a problem thoroughly before initiating any actions. Also, as a politician, one must be relevant not only within the party but outside of the party too. KJ also stressed on the need to have policy-oriented politics instead of politics based on people's dirty laundry that we often see these days.

Which led me to ask him some very touchy questions at the end. Since he doesn't believe in championing just the Malay rights (or so he claims), I asked if he thinks race-based politics are no longer relevant in Malaysia and if we could do a way with it in the future? On top of that, despite having great vision for changes, many top leaders in UMNO do no agree with him, so does that mean his leadership is not the best fit for UMNO culture?

And he went, "Haah, I might as well go back home now." Hehe. He did answer them, in a very round-about way. Good boy. I'm not a fan of UMNO but I'm certainly a fan of KJ. There, I said it. 

Then we had Azran from AirAsia X. Out of all our guest speakers, I thought Azran had the most exciting, colourful life stories. He was jumping from one job to another but they're all so interesting! While the other 2 speakers before him kept telling us to have a vision, to plan for the future yadda yadda, this guy came in and broke all the rules! 

He told us it's impossible to plan for the future when the world is changing by the minute. Taking example from his job at AirAsia, he said there isn't a point of having a 5-Year or 10-Year business plans in an industry like aviation because there are so many variables that you can't control. Like oil  prices fluctuating every day, unforeseen natural phenomenon like the Iceland volcano eruption that put a halt on Europe air travels etc etc. How do you plan for these things? 

You can't! What you can do is learn to analyse and make decisions quickly but most importantly, not be afraid of making mistakes. He said, "Ask 5 level of Whys for a problem and Why Nots for an idea" every time you're about to venture into something new. Impressive stuff.

We spent the evening working in our teams alongside our assigned McKinsey consultants. We learned first hand how these people work while they impart some of their invaluable tips and guidance for our projects. For free! McKinsey consultants working with you for free, how cool is that? Outside, their consultant fees would cost some serious bucks we would not be able to afford. 

Then we had our dinner with our mentors at KL Hilton. This year, we have 23 mentors who will help us with our projects and gosh, they're such amazing people! Some of them include Johan Merican from TalentCorp, Dzameer Dzulkifli from Teach For Malaysia, Tunku Abidin from IDEAS, Dr Habibah from Ministry of Education and many other astounding industry leaders.

Each team gets 3 to 4 mentors and I'm excited to have this unique access to these people who clearly have done some amazing stuff in their lives. My team has come up with a project on the table but more on that later. Still in the planning process and I hope it goes well. 

Some photos from the day.

KJ speaking on his leadership in politics. 

Clockwise: With Johan Merican; CEO of TalentCorp (he's also one of my mentors, yay!), Dzameer; co-founder of Teach For Malaysia, Azran; CEO of AirAsia X and Tunku Abidin, Chairman of IDEAS

Of course I had to take one with this man too.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

New York City of the East, Singapore

(Okay, this is gonna be a rather long-winded post. It's been awhile since I've written anything so, I figured why not write a really long post here. Hehehe.)

Some of us decided to celebrate the end of our A-level by going on a trip to Singapore over the weekday. Me, Alia, Zehan, Niesh, Elaine, Megat, Hazman and Tank. Half of us had never been to Singapore while the other half couldn't remember the last time they were there. 

And the trip was surprisingly delightful albeit a little bit expensive. Even then we got the cheapest accommodation we could find so, we could spend a lot more on other stuff (i.e shopping!). The Singapore I knew 3 to 4 years ago has changed into a city that was almost unrecognizable, like it has shed its skin to become this whole new entity. And I love it!

The first day we were there, we walked for 9 hours; from Chinatown to Orchard Road to Marina Bay Sands to Little India. My favourite moment from the day has got to be the trip to the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands tower and saw Singapore and all its glitter from the top. I was overwhelmed by the sight and clearly Singapore is well on its way to become the New York City of the East, rivaling Hong Kong. Did I also mention how clean Chinatown was? It was spotless! Probably the cleanest Chinatown I had been to.

Our second day was just as exciting. Started the day off with a trip to Universal Studios Singapore. Undoubtedly, it isn't as big and as thrilling as the Universal Studios in California but it is still pretty impressive. We enjoyed the roller coaster rides (Battlestar Gallatica rides, Mummy ride etc) and had a good time being transported to different worlds every time we walked on different sections of the Park. We even managed to squeeze in some time for luge rides in Sentosa. Awesome gilaaa. As exhilarating as a go-kart race but safer and easier.

Dinner was at Clarke Quay and it's definitely one of my favourite places in Singapore. It's so beautiful at night, lovely to just walk by the river while you watch the colourful lights and boats cruise past you. Across the river where most eateries are, the place would be pumping with energy and loud music. Not the place if you're looking for quiet dinners but definitely the place to people-watch and just absorb in the atmosphere. Met up with Muzz who happened to be in the city with his sister and brother-in-law. Whom later treated us to supper at Marriott Hotel on Orchard Road. One of the loveliest couples I have known and every time we meet, they would be treating us to desserts and drinks. Too kind!

Before we caught our bus back home on the last day, we went over to Somerset to do some last minute shopping. It's crazy how every time we came out of an MRT, it was ALWAYS in a shopping mall. Just how many shopping malls do they have in this small city?! Not that I've complaints especially when it's the Singapore Great Sale at the moment. And boyy, did we really shop there! :p

So, we ended our trip with hugs and 'See You Laters' once we reached back home. Travelling is nice but it's always nicer to travel with your friends and I couldn't have asked for better travelling mates. 

And Singapore, I have fallen in love with it all over again. I tweeted a few days ago, "If I were to become comfortably rich one day, the two cities that I'd love to live in would be New York City and Singapore." I think you could enjoy Singapore a lot more if you were rich and not students travelling on tight budgets ;) 

Ohh, I must tell you this interesting chat I had with a cab driver on our way back to our hostel from Marriott! 

Cab driver: Hello! Where are you from?

Me: Malaysia.

Cab driver: Selamat datang! Want to start Bersih here?

Me: Hahaha. No, thanks. I wouldn't want to be jailed in Singapore. But what do you think about Bersih?

Cab driver: Well, it's probably not right for me to comment since I'm not Malaysian. But what Malaysia  really needs is a revamp. A due diligent process. Microsoft Word has Windows 7 but BN is still running on Windows 95. 

Me: Yes, unfortunately we are not as systematic as you are. And our government needs revamping, no doubt. But how's Singapore? Despite all its advancements and impressive growth, I know a lot of Singaporeans remain unhappy in this country. 

Cab driver: Yes, but no country is perfect. You know how those famous civilisations like Roman and Ottoman Empires collapse? It's when the leaders became laid back and practiced corruption. That is what is happening to BN. 

Me: And what about PAP? The party is not all that clean, is it? Hsien Loong is known to be practicing cronyism and nepotism himself.

Cab driver: No no no. Hsien Loong and his family is VERY CLEAN. Very clean wan. His family all has regular jobs as engineers, CEOs, doctors. (At this point of time, I silently went "Yeaaahh right.")
All our MPs have degrees and Masters from top universities; Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, MIT. We make sure they have their own careers first before entering politics. Serve two to three terms then they are free to go back to their careers. Like in Malaysia, not many MPs like that hah? See Najib, he's only from Nottingham. Oxford, Cambridge and all do not guarantee they produce the smartest people but they definitely do not produce idiots. 

Me: Well, there is increasingly more highly educated people entering politics. There are Khairy Jamaluddin and Tony Pua who went to Oxford...

Cab driver: Yah, but Khairy is not given any important posts what. He'll be gone next election la.

Me: Haha perhaps. But I wouldn't write him off completely. Give it some more time. There will be more educated, intelligent Malaysians leading the country. As it is, we are entering a changing phase where more young people are brave to voice out their opinions and want what's best for the country. Who knows, the three of us (there were me, Niesh and Megat in the cab) could be some of those future leaders. Haha.

Cab driver: Yah, yah. Good luck ah! Hopefully Malaysia can become better.

Yes, it's no secret that taxi drivers, even in Malaysia could be one of the best political commentators around. This Singaporean taxi driver was no exception. There is a lot that Malaysia could learn from Singapore. They only really started their development 20 years ago and within that 20 years; they have been transformed from a country with very little resources to a prominent leader of the ASEAN region. 

Where do we stand at this present time? 

With Niesh at Clarke Quay. Pretty innit? 

5th Avenue, New York! Or rather Universal Studios Singapore

 Bumped into Charlie Chaplin. After the photo, Mr Chaplin literally took Alia by the hand and ran away with her! Looks like Alia found herself a new suitor ;)

 In front of ION Orchard

Doing the Gossip Girl pose (kononnya) on the steps of the New York Library

Marina Bay Sands. I like this view better than the Hong Kong's skyline. It's more serene and calm here.

Orchard Road

Group shot with Transformers character (sorry, not sure which one!)

Dinner at Clarke Quay. The waiter accidentally said, "We got Halal pork." when he actually wanted to say "Halal Pepperoni". Haha.

With the girls on the 57th floor of Marina Bay Sands

With Ibu's friends, Natalie and Karl. They were the ones who brought us to the top of the Tower.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Back From Hiding

Hello, I'm back!! Some of you may wonder why did I private my blog for the past 3 months or so. It was due to a personal problem and well, there was also A-level to worry about. So, I wouldn't have the time to write on here. But now that A-level is over (yay, finally!) and the problem has sailed through, I'm back and I'm here to stay :) More posts coming up in the next few days. But for now, welcome back to this space, peeps!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chao, Hanoi!

I should tell you about my History trip to Hanoi, Vietnam before I forget all about it. KY's History Department organized a History trip to the Communist state somewhere in February for us to have a better understanding of Communism and to find the links between Vietnam and Cold War in the earlier years, if any.

Hanoi is a quaint city, to say the least. It's chaotic and the traffic is horrible. There are seas of mopeds and cars everywhere! Crossing the roads can be quite a nightmare. But Hanoi has more layers to it than just busy roads and chaotic traffic system. The city tells a thousand different stories from its French architecture, red Communist flags waving at every corner of the street and the statues as well as monuments that carry distinctive meanings. Then you see regular Vietnamese going about their daily lives. Women selling vegetables/fruits by the roadside, children playing at the lake or open spaces/parks after school and in the midst of modesty of the people, you would see latest Porsche or Mercedes zooming pass you.

Before we came to Hanoi, we always had the impression from our readings (mostly written from Western perspectives) that a Communist state was repressive, backwards and well, basically seen as evil. But when we arrived in Hanoi and got to know the city better, it was a great contrast to what we have learned before.

While Vietnam still largely practices Communism, they have also opened up to the World especially economically and culturally. For a country that went through a war that ravaged them horribly just 40 years ago, Vietnam is doing impressively well in terms of building the nation again. It is still a one-party state but a lot more freedom has been granted to its people in the past decade. The country holds on to the Communist elements that are still practical in a 21st century while opening up to a more globalized world. Hanoi is a picture of that balance; between Communism and Capitalism.

Though something rather unfortunate happened to me during the trip. I was walking around the Night Market on our second night when my handbag was slit with a knife and my purse was picked. It had everything in it; cash, credit card, ID card, student card etc and I was penniless in Hanoi. Good thing s/he didn't take away my handphone and camera too. And the hotel kept my passport. Pheww.

Thankfully, my mum's good friend, Chan was there to help me go through the whole police report procedure. Which would have been even more complicated without her cos the policemen spoke no English. But I wasn't about to let the incident dampen my spirit for the rest of the trip so, all of us just went ahead with it as planned.

I love Hanoi. I love the weather, the people, the spirit of Ho Chi Minh that is still fresh in their minds. And I found out what it's like to travel abroad with a group of friends. Such fun! Makes me look forward to the possible trips we would go on once we get to UK. Insyaallah, very soon :)

Some photos from the trip. The rest, you know where to find them.

In front of the statue of Lenin

Remnants of US Army B-52 bombers

The whole group in front of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum 

Me, Yaya, Eijas, Amir and Gamii taking a break after our museum visits

The night of the mugging. They were all being very nice about it. Offered to cheer me up through hot chocolate and French pastries. 

Love this shot! Looks like First Lady and her bodyguard no? Hehe. Fine, that's actually me and Megat. 

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Welcome, 2012!

Happy New Year, people!

Wow, another year has gone and another year coming in. While I don't think time flew any faster than it already did, I'm glad to see 2011 finally drawing its curtains down.

No retrospective post this year because honestly, I do not have the energy to recap the big and small details of my 2011. Also, 2011 wasn't particularly an exciting year for me. Ups and downs, disappointment, weariness, spiritual rejuvenation and hopes basically summarize my year. If that makes sense.

No New Year resolutions either. Only one. To get my straight As for A-level and fly to my choice of university in September under Shell. Yeah, that's hardly a resolution. That's more like a life-and-death matter to me if I don't fulfill it. Education-wise.

To 2012, I welcome you with a hopeful heart. Hopeful that you will be a year where I will have the chance to get things right. The year that will make me stronger in dealing with the challenges ahead. Basically, be the year that won't make me fall flat in the face.

Here's to another year! May God bless you, always :)