Showing posts from 2007

Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong and his friend

A friend of mine sent me an email this afternoon. It is a news clip titled: Genting founder dies. And so, Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong (林梧桐) is now dead. He passed away this morning at Subang Jaya Medical Center.

It is not easy to build a business like Genting, because you need a lot of hard work and a lot of luck.

There is no doubt that Lim fulfilled the first criterion. To understand how dedicated Lim was, you can read his autobiography or you can go to Genting's website.

The second criterion, the luck element, is rarely mentioned. And it is my intention to highlight a little bit in this article.

At the time when Lim was 32, he was introduced to a Muarian named Mohammad Noah Omar (1898 – 1991). And the friendship and business partnership between Lim and Noah turned out to be very fruitful and beneficial to both parties.

In 1948, the second daughter of Noah, Suhaila, was married to Hussein Onn. Four years later, Noah's youngest daughter, Rahah, was married to Abdul Razak. So, Lim is ind…

The Angkasawan of Malaysia: Part II

In 2003, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov came to Malaysia to do promotion on his fighter jets. Ivanov is a very good business man because he knew his customer very well. And in May 19, 2003, Najib Razak announced that we have agreed to purchase 18 Indian-made Sukhoi-30MKM fighter jets from Russia.

Later, it was announced that the price of the 18 jets is $900 millions and there is also an offset agreement in which Russia will offer Malaysia one seat in the Russian spacecraft.

Did Ivanov and Najib discussed in detail about the offset agreement in 2003? We are not very sure. But I guess Ivanov must have hinted Najib on the possibility of realizing Malaysian dreams of creating his own Angkasawan, free of charge.

Initially, we were told by the Russians that our boy will be trained in Star City, Moscow in 2004 and be sent to space by 2005. But the American businessman, Gregory Hammond Olsen paid $20 millions and he got the place in the Soyuz TMA-7 mission, launched in October 1, 2005.


The Log-Antilog Procedure: Part I

When I was in my upper secondary some 12 years ago, calculators were forbidden in modern mathematics examination. Nevertheless, I bought my first scientific calculator, a Casio FX570, at that time because I fancied the buttons with many strange symbols on them.

One of the topics in modern mathematics was to perform numerical computations using the four-figure tables. I remember vividly that in the classroom, I watched bemusedly, as my teacher demonstrated to us, the lengthy and laborious procedure for obtaining product like 10.8 x 87.85.

The procedure involved reading the logarithms for the two numbers from the logarithm table, add them up, and reading the table again for the antilogarithm of the addend.

At the end of the class, I approached my teacher and asked him why we should learn such an unproductive technique when we can directly generate the result with just a few key strokes on a cheap calculator. My teacher’s tone was authoritarian: “because this is the syllabus outlined by t…

The Angkasawan of Malaysia: Part I

17 years ago, journalist Akiyama Toyohiro (秋山豊寛) was the first passanger to go to space with private fund. On December 2, 1990, he flew on the Russian Soyuz TM-11 to the Mir space station.

Akiyama's main purpose in Mir is to conduct live television broadcast to celebrate the 40th annivesary of Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS, 株式会社東京放送), and I believe that this is surely some marketing gimmicks. But there was a very expensive price to pay, for his 190 hours in space, his boss at TBS spent approximately 10 to 20 millions.

When he returned to his hometown in Tokyo, Akiyama was rightfully recognized as the first Japanese cosmonaut (日本人初の宇宙飛行士).

I am not sure whether or not Dr. Mahathir knew about Akiyama. Chances are that he did not know Akiyama back in 1990, otherwise he could have issued a purchase order to the Russian government and included the Angkasawan project in his Wawasan 2020, announced in 1991.








葬礼的时候,在阿嬷的第四的儿子的家,我看到阿嬷的孩子们用道家的仪式来处理阿嬷。一个黑袍道人在两脚伸直向外,仰卧在棺材里面的阿嬷面前,用福建话叽叽歪歪,不懂在念什么。你这样子,如果有天使的话,天使是会被你吓跑的。 所以我说,孩子们都没有体恤老母亲,他们都不清楚,也不理会一般教徒的遗愿。


Evolution of the Structure of the Bible: Part I

About 1700 years ago, the Roman emperor Constantine the Great made two decisions that would forever changed the course of human history.

The first decision was made in 313 when he signed the Edict of Milan, which granted civil rights and freedom to adopt any religions including Christianity. With this, hundreds of years of oppression of Christianity in the Roman Empire was effectively brought to an end.

The second decision was that, shortly before his death in 337, Constantine was baptized and thus, formally adopted Christianity.

In some ways, these decisions have profound effects in accelerating the growth of Christianity, and therefore making the Bible the most important literature ever produced.

However, pious Christians often see the Bible as a source of spiritual inspiration and lack the knowledge of the evolution of its content. To understand the present structure of the Bible, it is necessary to go back to the Jews living in ancient Judea.

The ancient Jews, like many other early …

On the Kingdom of Malacca: Part I

We learned quite a great deal about Malacca in secondary school. We were taught, for examples, that Malacca was a great seaport during the 15th century which has attracted a lot of people to do business there, that the founder of this kingdom is an Indonesian prince called Parameswara, that Tun Perak is a wise prime minister, and so on. However, the standard history textbook pays extremely little attention on the connection between Malacca and China, despite the fact that Malacca is intricately related to Ming China.

In 1403, Zhu Di (朱棣) became the third emperor of Ming Dynasty. One of the important decisions he made almost immediately after he ascended to the throne was to order a series of marine expeditions to the Indian Ocean. This famous series of expedition is, as you might already know, led by a muslim eunuch named Zheng He (郑和).

In October 1403, Zhu Di sent friendship emissaries to a lot of foreign countries. A eunuch named Yin Qing (尹庆) was sent to Malacca (满剌加), bringing with …







On Sex-related Taboo-words such as "Fuck": Part II

The attitude of Chinese towards sex or sex-related issues is, most of the time, aversive. As a result, not many people know how to write the proper Chinese characters for external genitalia, even though we may sometimes use them as profanities.

Usually, external genitalia are directly associated with the word 阴 (pronounced yin, literally, dark or invisible). We can form words to describe parts of the reproductive organs by adding the prefix 阴 to a more descriptive noun.

For instance, when we add 阴 to 道 (tract or conduit), we form the term 阴道, which is the vaginal tract. Other examples include 阴茎 (yin + stick = penis), 阴囊 (yin + bag = scrotum), 阴毛 (yin + hair = pubic hair), 阴唇 (yin + lips = labium), 阴蒂 (yin + stalk = clitoris), and so on. And collectively, the male and female external genitalia are called 男阴 and 女阴, respectively.

There is also another set of Chinese characters which can be used to denote the external genitalia. However, these characters are less well known in their writte…

Dietary Taboo of Religious People

There are many theories proposed to explain why Jews, Muslims and some of the pious Christians cannot consume pork or pig products. Reasons such as pigs are filthy, pork are extremely contaminated, pig is the object of worship in the Abrahamic religions, etc are frequently given. But you should not listen to any of these because all of them are not correct.

The correct reason is very simple: because this is an order directly from God. For Muslims, this order can be found in Al-Baqarah (سورة البقرة) Verse 173. And for Jews and Christians, the order is explicitly mentioned in Leviticus Chapter 11 Verse 7.

Accordingly, an animal is edible if only it is clean. And a clean animal fulfills two criteria: it chews cud and has split hoof. In Leviticus 11:4 to 11:7, God mentioned Moses and Aaron, four examples which fail His criteria. Because cows and goats fulfill the two criteria, beef and mutton are considered clean for consumption.

However, because the above Mosaic dietary criteria have been …

On Some of the Chinese Gods: Part I

It is well known that the traditional religion of the Chinese is polytheistic. And two of our most popular deities are Guan Yu (关羽) and Avalokitesvara (阿婆卢吉低舍婆罗).

According to Chen Shou (陈寿), Guan was born in between 147 to 167 AD in Shanxi (山西). Near the end of Eastern Han Dynasty (东汉, 200 – 220 AD), he was recruited by the warlord Liu Bei (刘备) at Hebei (河北) and became his bodyguard. When Liu was defeated by Cao Cao (曹操), Guan was captured and given a post in Cao’s administration.

However, because of his loyalty to Liu, he did not stay long with Cao and later returned to Liu. He was subsequently killed and decapitated in Hubei (湖北). Guan's death is intricately related to Zhuge Liang's (诸葛亮) decision for not dispatching military forces to assist Guan when he was surrounded by Sun Quan's (孙权) men.

Deitification of Guan and mass constructions of temple worshiping Guan actually started about 900 years ago. During this period, Guan was given many honorific titles by many imperia…

Darwinian Explanation of Evolution: Part I

Darwin did something very important for us some 150 years ago, when he published his "On the Origin of Species" in 1859. This famous book, as you might already know, is about evolution.

However, contrary to popular belief, Darwin is the not the originator of the concept of evolution. Darwin's grandfather, for example, had also a similar idea.

The contribution of Darwin is that he conceived a logical notion to explain the mechanism of evolution. Darwin's explanation is quite simple indeed: the evolutionary mechanism is by natural selection.

The important thing to highlight here is that evolution is not a theory, it is an observable fact. For example, that human and other lifeforms living on earth is an observable fact.

To explain this fact, we may invoke the Jewish notion that we are created by Elohim using only dust of the ground. The Chinese also have a similar notion for the origin of humankind, they postulated that we are created from soil by a goddess named Nǚwā (女…

Alan, Stella and their Doctoral Degrees

Usually, people with "Dr" in front of their names are treated with respect in our society. They are better remunerated and can talk louder. So, naturally a lot of people want themselves to be called doctors. Nonetheless, only a few groups of people may put the title "Dr" in front of their name.

First, we have the medical doctor. Medical doctor receives rigorious undergraduate training in the field of medicine at the university/hospital for at least 5 years. At the end of their training, they are awarded a bachelor degree. Mahathir Mohamad, for example, is a medical doctor trained in "University of Malaya", Singapore.

Second, we have the doctor of higher degree. The most common doctor of higher degree is the doctor of philosophy (or Ph.D). To be awarded a higher degree doctorate, the candidate, who already equipped with a basic degree, will usually do research on one particular subject and spend 3 to 4 years on it, usually guided by one or more academic supe…

Reproduction: Why Human Females are More Cautious? Part I

The biological aspect of human gametic cells is very interesting. At birth, a baby girl has only a fixed amount of eggs (maybe around one million) in her body. When she reached a certain age, we will see that her breasts will begin to grow bigger, and a little genie residing in her ovary will say to these one million eggs: "ok, I shall now start to send you to meet your boyfriends".

Each month, the genie will pick a few thousands eggs and give them whatever training that is necessary. At the end of the training, the eggs will need to take what is known as the atresia examination. And the egg who score the highest mark will get the chance to embark on a romantic journey. The rest of the eggs are not sent back to the reservoir, but they are destroyed.

From that point onwards, about 13 eggs are ovulated each year from the egg reservoir until the woman reached what is known as menopause. So, for her whole lifetime, a human female will only release about 400 eggs.

The number of the…