(Belated) Birthday Surprise @ Home!!!


Back in KL: Weekend of 21st June ~ 22nd June 2008.

Well my birthday was on the 9th of June. So I guess if I skipped my trip back to KL during that time would allow me to miss all the fuss and duzzle, ‘cause recently there is this in-thing now to throw surprises among my old classmates (example: Uncle at Pangkor with foam sprays and Theva at his home with flying cakes). So, coming back 2 weeks later would probably cover my butt from these surprise attacks. WROOOOOOOONG!!!!!!! I still got surprise attacked. In fact, I think I got the biggest surprise attack ever assembled so far. In fact, I think my decision to come back 2 weeks later gave them more time to plan and execute their attack. CURSES!!!!!!!!!!!!

So here’s what these oh-so-friendly people did to me: when I was on my way back to my home, with all the lights still turned off and at the exact moment I opened the house door, a rabid-crazed group of friends attacked me with almost 100 (I think) water balloons (‘high-quality’ balloons that was hard to explode, therefore more painful. Thank you so much Ah Nei Nei), drenched me in fridge-cold water and plastered me with smelly cakes all over me. It feels so ‘good’ to be so appreciated, doesn’t it?

The mortar of water balloons did the most damage, and here’s the damage report:

1.) Head – 2 direct hits at the back, 3 skimmed my head by millimeters.
2.) Body – At least 5 direct hits, and 4 did not explode.
3.) Arms – 1 exploded when I tried too hard to throw it back. Dammitttttt…..
4.) Legs – 2 directs hits to the thigh, approximately 2 did not explode.
5.) Crotch – 1 direct hit. This will not go un-avenged THEVAAAA!!!!
6.) Butt – 1 skimmed my left cheek. Sexy as it may sound, but its not. A few centimeters more and I’ll be crying…

I was super soaked and super tired from throwing back the un-exploded water balloons, and I think Uncle had to stop half way to take a break before resuming the attack!!! I guess we all are too old for this shit hahaha….Anyway, I must admit I was surprised to bits and have to say that it was a damn well-planned operation. A lot of people were part of it, and here’s the list of The Culprits (which I will hunt down one by one. No will escape my wrath. No one…):

The Devil’s List:

1.) Tian Kuan
2.) Theva
3.) Thiru
4.) Majidah and partner
5.) Paul
6.) Ah Nei Nei
7.) Vijay and partner
8.) Emma
9.) Siew Ling
10.) My parents (of all people!!! UUrrghhhh!!!)

This surprise attack was clearly not a work of an ad-hoc basis. It was meticulously planned with operational execution that will make any military general beaming with pride. The operation was in motion the moment the day began (and the planning weeks before this I bet), and here’s what happened on that fateful day, the 21st of June, 2008, in chronological order…

11:00 HRS: Woke up and had Bak Kut Teh for brunch with Siew Ling around Subang area. Noticed Siew Ling made a few anonymous SMSes and calls. I asked who it was, but she changed the subject. My suspicions were ignited….

12:00 HRS: Drove to 1U to watch ‘The Incredible Hulk’. Siew Ling walked off to voluntarily buy me coffee at ‘Starbucks’ while I was queuing for ticket. I wondered why…

14:30 HRS: After the movie then went to ‘Monsoon-id’ to have my hair cut, which took me 2 hours, most of the time waiting for the stylist.

16:30 HRS: Walking around 1U and receives call from Majidah that movie is at ‘Sunway Pyramid’ instead and movie is at 6pm.

17:00 HRS: Siew Ling suggests having something to eat. Went to ‘Sushi Zenmai’, and at that moment she gave me my birthday present (a CK watch). I was happy to bits.

17:45 HRS: Rushed to ‘Sunway Pyramid’ for the movie. Receives calls from Majidah and Ah Nei but Ah Nei didn’t’ say anything over the phone (which was very suspicious)…

18:30 HRS: Arrives at TGV cinema and proceeds to watch ‘Kung Fu Panda’ with the rest of The Culprits…

19:45 HRS: After the movie, Tian Kuan says we are going to “Crocodile Farm” for seafood (but I believed that the place closed down ages ago. My suspicions were exploding). The Culprits says they “got something to do first but will meet again later” with the exception of Tian Kuan (as it turns out, he stayed behind to monitor me. Ingenious).

20:00 HRS: Went to buy ‘JCo Donuts’ and had a cup of coffee at ‘Old Town Kopitiam’. While chit-chatting with Tian Kuan, he receives numerous calls, but I did not suspect anything because he spoke in BM, and he normally speaks BM for his office matters. Very smart move….

20:15 HRS: While walking back to the car, Siew Ling repeatedly asks me for my handphones. I had 2 handphones, I gave her 1 but the other I refused to give at first. After repeated attempts, I gave it to her eventually.

20:20 HRS: I was on the impression that I was driving to ‘Crocodile Farm’ as planned, but Siew Ling suddenly said she got stomach ache and wanted to go back to my home first. I obliged, thinking it would just be a pit-stop. When arrived at my house, Siew Ling asked me to open the door (suspicion EXPLODING like an atomic bomb. Why all these requests??!!) And yet I obliged. I inserted the key. I turned the lock. It clicked open as usual. I swung the door wide open. Pitch blackness. My vision was in darkness. Complete silence. I walked in. I noticed outlines of figures in front of me. Too late. There was a roar. And it had begun….

Around 20 minutes later the attack had died and I was soaked with water. My house porch was drenched in water and exploded balloons littered the area. Some balloons went over to the neighbors too!! It was a warzone. And I was the target…and how could I have been so careless….

It was not all about water balloons as they ordered pizzas, drinks and of course, a birthday cake. And they sang happy birthday too. WOW. I never had that experience in a LONG time. So much effort and time went into this, and I guess I must thank you all from the bottom of my heart for this. Really, it was a great night and experience that I will NEVER forget (and I will definitely NEVER forget who done this to me…my wrath has spoken).

After the party, we went to a nearby mamak stall and I just had to belanja them back for their efforts. It’s not much but at least it was something right!!!

We took pictures of course, and videos as well. Take a look at the night of the balloon fight!!!:

Weapons of Mass Destruction.

"So who dropped their fake boob?"

The battlefield. Take a look at how many ballons exploded!! Curses to Ah Nei Nei (and for the painfully 'high-quality' ballons)!!!

Relics of Battles Past...

We got debris!!! Its Iraq all over again...

Head shot for the styrofoam...rest it piece...

Collateral damage!!! A stray bomb that went to the neighbours...

"Paul to base..mission accomplished." (puffs on smoke).

Group photo!!! (The decent one).

The group is awed by emma's levitating magic trick of the pillow...

B'day cake all round...thanks for the cake peeps!!!

Peace for the pieces of cake.

This damn uncle seems to be freakin' happy about all this...

A mutilated cake...

Either it was a twister that went through here or a giant rat that scurried past the food!!!

Awwwww, my present all wrapped up from Siew Ling...

It's my birthday present!!!! Thanks so much, love you loadssssss!!!!

And here are the videos taken by Majidah documenting the final few moments leading to the surprise attack. Cheeky monkeys all of you!!!

Pre-Ambush: A beautiful message from Emma:

Pre-Ambush: They were in my house!! IN MY HOUSE!! AARRGHHH!!


The Aftermath: Ah Nei the Auntie & Theva the Hungry

And here's a video that Majidah took that was disguised as taking a photo. Cheeky devil!!! Watch the video and see how we bummers prepare ourselves for picture taking. Notice that Ah Nei Nei was the only eager beaver, posing again and again until fedup haha....Take notice that this video is rated 'PG' as parental guidance is advised due to scenes of highly 'suggestive' manner (i.e. Theva and Tian Kuan with the slinky). Be warned to the faint of heart.....

Thank you all for the hard effort and planning!!! Very much appreciated!!!! ~~~*Bows in gratitude & glee*~~~

Review: Wanted

Finally got to see ‘Wanted’ after so many failed attempts at it due to ‘full-house’ sessions at the cineplexes. So was it worth my time at the queues? Well, if you like full-blooded-alpha-male-testosterone-charged brutality disguised in a ballet of flying bullets coupled with stunts that defy all laws of science (which would put Einstein to shame), then yes, this is your cup of tea. But if you are expecting ’27 Dresses’, then stay well clear as ‘Wanted’ is nothing more than a big bad storm in a badly-chipped tea cup.

This film delivers super slick special effects and couple this with a skimpy-clad Angelina Jolie (plus a censored scene of rear-bearing action, download this NOW) while kicking asses as though someone killed her mother all over the silver screen will rock anyone’s balls to the core. Heck, it got mine gyrating at all of her scenes (don’t you just love cinemas with their big screens?) That said, you would now know which demographic this film totally aims for.

Kazakhstan-born director Timur Bekmambetov understands how bring silliness to the extreme and yet make it all look oh-so-cool, and that in turn is what makes this film distinctive from the rest. Stylized hard-core action now has a new face, and quoting ‘Borat’ the most famous Kazakhstan person I know, “I like”. Yes in deed.

This film contains no plot complexities ala “The Matrix” or has such opera such as “Blade Runner” as this film’s story is as simple as any film can get. It is at times tedious and often generic, with stereotypical characters filling up the plot holes just to keep the movie moving to the next action sequence. I’m not going into the details of the plot as usual, but for optimum enjoyment of this film, just go into the cinema with your brain left totally locked in your home and simply sit back and enjoy the visual eye candy (and for velvet flashes of Jolie’s flesh. For the female audiences, Scottish hunk James McAvoy does bare his chest intentionally throughout the film. So, flesh fetish happiness for everyone. Yay!!!).

Speaking of James McAvoy, this is in fact his first foray at being an action hero and I must say he does a pretty good job at it (being a hero with some resemblance to brains). His best work were all dramatic roles which resulted in some pretty good appreciation from film critics such as the wrongly-accused lover in “Atonement” and the naive doctor in “The Last King of Scotland”. Obviously his role in “Wanted” do not provide him the palette to flex his acting abilities, he however gives his character a genuine sense of realism that provides the audience something to relate with. And that makes him reasonably likable, which is important as he will take you on a journey from one end of the character’s spectrum to another. Just watch and you will have what I’m talking about.

Angelina Jolie impresses as usual (hey, it’s Jolie. How can you possibly go wrong with her?) and you can see she is obviously having fun with her role as the uber-assassin Fox. At times she may be just that typical sexy cardboard box character that is plastered on screen just for kicks, but she ignites things up with perfectly timed smirks and winks that will make you smirk in turn. And THAT for me is a mark of a true action heroine.

As for Morgan Freeman, I’m honestly bored to death of him playing the usual ‘boss/mentor’ character with all that deep-toned speeches and smarty lines. Even though at one point in the film he NEARLY stole the entire show (NEARLY) with a very rare but impressive quip of a bad word, Freeman however a waste of a fine actor in my book and should get a better movie agent pronto, otherwise he will forever be stagnant in a quagmire of stereotypical characters for life. And that will be very sad for a fine actor like him.

All in all, this film was made not to impress the critical masses, but to simply provide a collage of visual/audio/action/flesh combo to kick any action-loving viewer’s balls to bits. Eccentric, outlandish and defying all laws whatsoever, this film comes closes to ‘action porn’ than any movie I have ever seen (note: porn as in NOT the typical Pamela Anderson porn, but action played to the extreme just like porn).

Almost worth a second-viewing in my opinion, if not for the fast action I missed but maybe just to see Angelina Jolie fellate a gun barrel for almost 2 hours. Now THAT is almost worth the price of the second admission….

Verdict: 7/10

Reviewed by: Raymond Choy

Chaos At The Pumps...AGAIN!!!

It was chaos at the pumps again!!! WTFFFFFFFF!!! Causing so much traffic jam!!! Can’t get home fast enough to watch my latest episodes of ‘Smallville’ on my com!!! Petrol prices increased again?? Actually no, there was this wild rumor flying all over by SMS yesterday that petrol stations will be closed for 3 to 5 days to protest their non-increment in commissions. So we typical Malaysians panicked (as usual) and OOooopps, did it all over again. I’m not sure if KL were affected by this madness but here in Labuan and other major parts of East Malaysia, there was petrol-panic all over. My friend even went to the pumps on a motorbike and filled up 2 plastic bottles with petrol (is this even legal??!!) I wish sometimes everyone would just calm down and think first before panicking and not to cause other Malaysians like me to miss their favorite TV shows. GEEEEEEEEZZZZ PEOPLE!!!!!!

But in actually, the rumors were indeed quite true. I saw a quote from Charles Soong, the president of Sabah Petroleum Dealers Association on NST’s website that read:

“The national association is asking the government to meet a few more requirements, including raising our commissions to an acceptable level and if that demand is not met, we plan not to sell fuel for eight hours tomorrow.”

8 hours can easily turn into a few days can’t it? So that’s why people panicked. Sighhhhhhh. I thought life was about love, money and all that. Petrol is part of it too. How romantic.

I guess I’ll just stay at home and blog about what happened to me in KL last weekend hehehe…..

Harvest Festival '08 @ Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

From 30th to 31st May, I was in Kota Kinabalu to witness the much celebrated festival of harvest called ‘Tadau Ka’amatan’. It was a cultural baptism of unique dances, exotic foods, wicked rice wines and quaint games during 3 days and 2 nights in the heart Sabah’s capital, Kota Kinabalu, where the ‘Harvest Festival’ or the ‘Tadau Ka’amatan’ was celebrated as gloriously as any major festivals we come to revere. When you are in Borneo, no major festivals come close to the ‘Tadau Ka’amatan’. Christmas, New Year’s Eve, & even the Merdeka celebrations all pale in comparison to the significance and distinctiveness of this festival of harvest, whereby Sabahans celebrate the ‘Harvest Festival’ or sometimes called the ‘Kadazan Harvest Festival’ (simply because the Kadazans forms the biggest indigenous tribe group in Borneo), to collectively worship the ancient Gods.

Interestingly, as told by a local friend of mine in Kota Kinabalu, the Gods consist of 5 main spirits: the ‘Rogon’ or the spirit of all things evil, the ‘Koududuvo’ or the spirit of the living, then there is the ghostly spirit which is called the ‘Tombivo’, the ‘Rusad’ that represent the spirit of all living things and the focal of it all is the ‘Kinoingan’ which symbolizes the God of Creation and the Almighty.

So what role does these Gods have play in the festival of harvest? Well, the story that I heard on the street (ha, macam sound so local like dat) is that the God of Creation, the ‘Kinoingan’ is the revered overall creator and all-supreme life source for all things living. As most native Sabahans consider rice as the main staple of food, certain sacredness and spirituality is attached to it as they believe that food, in particular rice, is blessed to them by the ‘Kinoingan’. Now the most interesting part is this: the ‘Kinoingan’ always believed He being the all-almighty Creator, His people should never be left to suffer of any lack in the most basic need, which is food. However, then came a time when food was indeed scarce due to severe drought. As an act of ultimate benevolence to His people, He sacrificed his only pure and holy daughter, ‘Huminodun’ to the fields where rice grew (forgoing an offspring, especially one that is pure, is considered the ultimate sacrifice). Magnificently, his act of kindness yielded results and from the body of ‘Huminodun’ out grew rice of great abundance, thus the people were left to hunger no more. This act of absolute kindness was ultimately worshiped, and even to this day, His people repay the deed by performing various acts of ceremonies to honor ‘Kinoingan’, hence the ‘Harvest Festival’ (but others believe that Sabahans pay homage to the Rice Spirit called the ‘Bambazon’ as an act of gratitude for their annual bountiful harvest. Whichever the actual story may be, its all for a good cause lah).

So it is during this festival that Sabahans don their proudest costumes and enjoy a carnival of dances, food, and worship while mingling with folks from all walks of life, be it the local or foreign. Celebrations are held in virtually all villages and districts throughout Sabah, but to bring the festivities closer to the hearts of the general public, an annual ceremony is held at Hongkod Koisaan or KDCA Penanpang (a non-political association of nearly 30 indigenous ethnic communities of Sabah), and this is where my soul was exposed to the melting pot of various tribes and their cultures. It was a congregation of traditions, merry-making and feasting of the most unique food accompanied by rice wine (and lots of Tiger beer, a sign of modernization creeping in?) throughout the event. Traditional-styled huts where erected all over the giant premises of the KDCA, and within each of these huts lay a showcase of each of the tribes. Photos of past glories were pastured all across the walls, offerings of tribal delicacies rested welcomingly on tables and friendly indigenous folks greeted the guests with multi-colored costumes and affectionate hospitality. Hut after hut I went, and more and more exceptional traditions lay before my eyes, and I absorbed them with feverish interest. It was a baptism of culture, and what a baptism it was. The skies threw rain at the numerous guests (probably a test of some kind?) but everyone stood firm, not budging from their place with gleaming smiles remaining on their faces. From this reaction to the rain you know that the Festival is indeed in full glorious swing…

I heard from my local friend that every year the ceremony had a theme. Last year, it was what my friend described it as “cute”. I guess they had many adorable children wearing traditional costumes hopping all over the place? Well, we were trying to guess what this year’s theme was, and my bet was on ladies. To be more precise, pretty ladies. Not the sassy and seductively-dressed ones, but I mean pretty in their own distinctive way. See for yourself:

Isn't she lovely? Looks Chinese abit...

Ahhh, this ones looks for exotic doesn't she? Ain't she lovely...

Time for me to get up close and personal with one of them ~~~

This time I got two by my side. Hey, I'm just absorbing the culture that's on offer!!!

Back to the theme of the event, my friend rubbished my opinion of pretty ladies of the theme for this year and said that it was instead a parade of beautiful hats. I pish-poshed his suggestion and went along with pretty girls theme. I mean, what’s wrong with pretty girls? I was happily snapping away with my camera, and then my friend suggested that if pretty tribal girls (sounds so sexy doesn’t it???) are my cup tea, we should head off to the main hall where the ‘Unduk Ngadau’ was held. What is the ‘Unduk Ngadau’ you ask? Well, paraphrasing the modern world, it is basically a beauty pageant. Usually it is the highlight or simply the most popular event during the Harvest Festival, it is a pageant to identify the darling of the Festival, to find the crowning brilliance in beauty and brains, and to find the Queen of the Harvest Festival. Even contestants from Peninsular Malaysia are allowed to participate (which I think is wrong!! It just spoils the unique flavor of the pageant!!!). As a reward for being crowned the Queen of Traditions (which is what I like to call them. Okla, they are actually the Ratu Ka’amatan), the grand winner are given a cash prize and hampers, but the most rewarding of all is that they are given a scholarship to complete a diploma locally. Not bad eh? I should have participated when I was about to enter college. Oh wait that’s just wrong…

Other attractions litter the compound of the KDCA, such as a stage erected for various performances of dances, music and the like. Stalls selling souvenirs, refreshments and paraphernalia scour the rest of the area, filling up valuable space to the brim. At one glance and you would think that the vicinity of the KDCA is endless with a sea of people bustling all over like ants over a sugar jar. It was a massive event, and the support for it was just as enormous.

It was nearing the end of daylight and yet I’ve not seen all that was on offer. The stalls were calling it a day and the festivities were slowly loosing its haste. I too, was to call it a day and I duly departed the compound with a bag full of memories and a gem of a contented feeling. The bus back was full, it was shoulder to shoulder with people and the air was stale with hues of smoke and perspired humidness. But it did not matter, for all that is worth, I absorbed it all and will become a priceless speck in my mind as an experience that will be cherish for some time to come.

Buuuuuuuuut, the festivities did not end. No no no, The ceremonies will not cease and as promised, it did continue well into the night. At the ‘Padang Merdeka’ in the heart of the Kota Kinabalu town, an ‘open house’ for the general public was vibrating with celebration. The ‘house’ in mention was in fact an entire field the size of many football fields. The scene was very welcoming, hence we pierced the gathered crowd to see what was on offer. And it did not disappoint, with rows after rows of generous food was put forward for anyone to taste its delicacy and uniqueness. Lines of people queued up to accept this offer, from curious foreigners (like me, I think I’m considered one haha) to the celebrating locals (hey free food!!).

Symbolic huts were erected to house the many playing bands that lashed out their traditional music and dance, which added much delight and tribal vibe to the atmosphere. But the main attraction was at the center of the field, where an enormous stage was built to give way for performances of tribal plays, music and dance that is fit for a king. A ‘king’ was indeed in attendance as our dear Prime Minister, Pak Lah was revering in the atmosphere and celebrations, and with him his entourage of VIPs. Entertaining the royalties was performances that are truly mesmerizing, as no words can really put justice to the feeling. As such, it is best to see it for yourself:

Video to be Up-loaded Later...Sorry Folks!!!

Showpieces of this sort gyrated the audiences until midnight, from traditional performers to more current singers (such as folks from ‘Akademi Fantasia’) showcased their culture and ability to flawless excellence. As the hordes of gathered people slowly vanished from the field and back to where they came, I too snaked away from arena with no regrets whatsoever. Two huge events in one day was a lot to absorb in one day, but I absorbed it with feverish contentment. I’m starting to like Kota Kinabalu very, very much indeed…

For a little bit more photos from these events, you can click here!!!

Back In KL from 20th June to 22nd June...

Just a short shout-out to anyone that is bothered about it: I'll be back in KL for a vey VERY short break from the 20th June until......22nd June. Yup, told you its short. Hopefully to see all you KL peeps in time. Catch y'all then!!!

Arrival KL: Friday, 20th June.
Depart KL: Sunday, 22nd June.

So I'm expecting my B'day prezzies from ALL OF YOU!!! BE PREPARED OR FACE THE CONSEQUENCES!!!! ROOOOAAARRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!

Review: Kung Fu Panda

The first time I heard that Jack Black is working on a kiddie movie, I laughed. And after watching that kiddie movie, I was still laughing. Not at it, but with it. And that movie was called ‘The School of Rock’. This movie totally shifted my perception of Jack Black from a narrow and tenacious comedian to a broader and multi-faceted one. And a more talented comedian with his tenacious reputation intact too, as in the case of ‘The School of Rock’, Jack Black did not lower himself to childish whims like Vin Diesel in ‘The Pacifier’, but he successfully turned the table and made the kid actors raise their energy levels to match his level of intensity. And it worked like a charm, and in my opinion ‘The School of Rock’ remains as of one of the greatest comedies ever to be produced in the modern era.

But then came ‘Kung Fu Panda’, and my immediate reaction? I think Jack Black has gone too blardy far. Jack Black as a cuddly panda learning the arts of kung-fu? Let’s not even start with the choice of a panda, I mean I think for Jack Black, a bear would have fitted him better. But I guess that’s another story (or cartoon), but the premise of someone (or some animal) learning kung-fu has been done to death, how could another attempt at this repetitive tale be anything fresh and innovative once again?

I was wrong. I will never doubt Jack Black ever again. I honestly have to say that after watching this hilariously zippy tale with a massive smile on my face, I will believe in Jack Black in whatever he does. Forever. ‘The School of Rock’ pulled the rug on me, and now ‘Kung Fu Panda’ did it again.

I will not go into details of the story, as I might spoil the enjoyment, but the premise of it is rather simple. It’s the evergreen tale of finding self-belief and overcoming the stigma of being over-sized. But what was amazing was definitely the way this over-common and rather predictable story was brought to life again in a way that was massively enjoyable.

The highly amusing banter between the characters, especially Jack Black (playing the role of Po the Panda) and Dustin Hoffman (Shifu, the…raccoon?) makes it a joy to watch. The chemistry between all the characters are done to near perfection, with the main characters delivering line after line of laughter intertwined with moments of total comical inspiration. My particular favorite is the training sessions between Shifu and Po. When Shifu realizes that Po does his best Kung Fu when he is being offered food as a reward, Shifu takes this to his advantage and trains him in the arts of Kung Fu in this approach. The outcome is comedic brilliance tainted with a bit of controversy in the best Jack Black way. I mean, think about it: I’m not sure how parents are going to feel about this idea of food as reward for good behavior….

“Throw out the rubbish son!!”

“Yes daddy!”

“OK! Good boy!” (throws a bag of chips to his kid)

*munch munch munch* ~~~Blurrpp~~~

As with so many animation movies currently being shoved into our attention every year, one would think that the animation style of ‘King Fu Panda’ would be no different from the rest. One can be wrong. In ‘Kung Fu Panda’, the kinetic energy can be felt so vibrantly as you watch it on screen. The fight sequences are alive with tenacious vigor that is akin to Jack Black’s style, and that truly gave this movie its life-force. The characters are comically created, with one look and anyone laugh at it (such as Shifu’s facial hair. The thickness of it and the way it curves around his face just cracks me up!). The set details, the costume design and the fighting styles of the main characters are all meticulously constructed, and it’s a joy to see them unfold on the big screen.

Being a kung-fu movie, I don’t think that anyone will need to be a kung-fu fan to enjoy this movie. Of course some soft of knowledge in old kung fu movies do help, as certain jokes in ‘Kung Fu Panda’ pokes hilarious fun at stereotypical aspects of kung-fu movies. And don’t be afraid to watch this movie filled with kids (as I know watching movies with kids can be a drag). Because believe me, if the movie is engaging and enjoyable, kids will simply sit back and enjoy it with little disturbances. And ‘Kung Fu Panda’ is this kind of movie. You will eventually howl with laughter at this movie, and long with the kids.

Definitely a zappy comedic cartoon that provides the kicks that is not to be missed.

Jack Black, I hail to your brilliance. *Kisses at his feet* ~Muaks muaks muaks~

Verdict: 8.5/10

Reviewed by: Raymond Choy

Riding the Wave of Petrol Price Increases

Labuan actually experienced a jam!!! And it’s on a non-holiday too!!! Shock!!! Horror!!! Terror!!! Why? Simply because the dwellers of Labuan Island were scrambling their cars to the petrol kiosks for re-fills. A rise of 0.78 cents or 40 % from RM 1.92 a liter for petrol is a MASSIVE increase (especially when the previous price hikes were only at the maximum of 30 cents). Well, I can’t say it was a surprise as around the world petrol prices were shooting up faster than New Year’s fireworks, and Malaysian petrol prices were kept at the region of RM 1.92 a liter for most of the time due to the infamous petrol subsidies. But as the government kept crying like a baby that they can’t take it no more with the subsidies (the Treasury claims that it had cost the government RM 45 billion alone this year), the price hike was bound to happen. It was only a matter of when, and by how much.

But things could get a lot worse. The word from our Government is that they intend to bring fuel prices in-line with global market cost. Now you consider that the market price of crude oil is sky-rocketing daily to new levels of the stratosphere, a RM 0.78 cent increase is merely a tiny ripple on a global perspective. Crudely-speaking (pardon the pun), things could get A LOT worse. Remember that not too long ago that the Government were saying an increase would be in August this year? Well, it's not August yet and already an increase had occurred. My point being, in August, there could well be another increase if their alignment in global market cost of petrol is true. In the long-run, we could well be seeing another increase to RM 3 per liter of petrol...

The Government’s defense to the increase is obviously the global skyrocketing of oil prices, which is at most out of their control. But they also keep saying that prices of petrol are the cheapest in the Asian region. Indeed this is true. But, have the people realized that in most Asian countries, they do not need to pay toll for their use of highways? We Malaysian pay through our noses just to commute to our workstations on time, but realistically speaking, do we have any choice? Let’s not even start on our public transportation woes, or even our rapidly diminishing options of toll-free roads that is silently eradicated on the pretense of development. My point is, I’m not honestly against the petrol price hike, but at least provide us with some notion of an option not to utilize petrol. Car-pool? You and I know how badly that fared, and how inconvenient it was. Hybrid cars? A good and environmentally-friendly option, but the petrol price increase would effectively place it on the high-demand list, hence causing its price to increase wouldn’t it? Again, back to square one. The only feasible alternative I see is public transportation, but a massive overhaul is needed if it is truly to become a viable option to the mass public. We are light-years away from the efficiency and convenience of our Asian counter-parts like Singapore and Hong Kong. So in the meantime, what options do we have but to bite the bullet hard and ride the tidal wave of consequences from the petrol price hike. We got no choice, our balls are in their hands.

Yes, there will be consequences from this petrol price hike. As you might have guessed, once petrol increases, so does everything else. According to the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Shahrir Abdul Samad, national inflation rate will likely to hit 5 % from the after-shocks of this price increase. A brief search on the net showed that national inflation was only at 3 % (April 2008), which was a 15-month high. Forecasts for the year before the price hike announcement was only at 2.5 %, hence we could see a doubling effect on all initial price increases (i.e. a RM 0.10 cents increase before price hike could now be RM 0.20 cents).

We were riding on a wave of new rejuvenation for this country, such as the rally of the stock market early this year. But now, the engines of reinvigoration would probably stall and the momentum of growth will slow further. The Central Bank has cut our economic growth forecast from around 5 to 5.5 % this year from an initial 6.5 to 7 % forecast. Couple this with our recent political turn-around that will take its time to settle-in, we could yet be experiencing minimal growth for this year. So dear Malaysians, it’s high time to put on your saving caps because it’s going to rain HARD.

Interesting times indeed for us Malaysians, but more interestingly will be how well our Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will face these challenges considering he is already at chest-deep in political turmoil and fighting for his survival. Even with their recent announcement of offering yearly cash rebates of up to RM 625 for owners of cars that is up to 2,000 cc in capacity that could just be seen as mere sweeteners, but the overall cause and effect for all Malaysians involved in this recent petrol price hike may just be too bitter to bare.

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