Thursday, April 30, 2009

Superficial Honesty

Once again, reading the Purpose Driven Life book has has reminded me a lot on the basics of a Christian life. Today, reading day 19 is not an exception either.

It basically talks about how to cultivate a community lifestyle in the church. One of the sentences that caught my attention is:

Many church fellowships or small groups remain superficial because they're afraid of conflict.

How true is that? :)

Many just hope they can sweep the dusts under the carpet and hopes that no one remembers it. Clearly, that's not the right way forward.

I myself for one have been rather superficial lately and guilty of the above statement. Even though I knew somethings aren't going right or smoothly, I just kept quiet. Well, most of you who had the opportunity to be in discussions or meetings with me around would notice that I'm not as talking as much as before.

Perhaps influenced by others who told me to keep quiet and avoid conflicts? Because truth hurts! :P

In PDL, we are told to be courteous when speaking out to others. Although I speak softly and most people can hardly hears me, I can sound very authoritative if I have to. Sometimes, people get offended or misunderstood my intentions. So I guess that's a lesson for me to learn.

It also talks about being humble. Being humble doesn't mean act stupid or look down on yourself, be clear about that. Rather being humble is about putting others' interests ahead of ourselves. So they focused on serving others, not boasting to gain credits.

Another lesson for me, which I believe I'm doing or trying to do. Just put my effort in leading a cell group that has been entrusted to me. Been a while since I last lead a group.

As for other stuffs, I was trying not to get involved or know about it. Unfortunately, my heart still itches for it sometimes. I always felt it's a pity things are the way they are and wanted to make them right. Oh well, I guess another lesson I must learn is..............don't think you're smarter than others....LOL. Have faith in your brothers & sisters! :P

So many lessons for a day's topic...

New Stadium In Docklands

Great, with Melbourne getting plagued with rental shortage, lack of housing, increasing parking spaces (traffic jams on roads), health care detiriorating, businesses went bankrupt, etc, here they're...proposing to build another grand stadium!

Worst of all, it's just next to Etihad Stadium in Docklands!!! And it'll fit about 40,000 people.


The Govt will spend $2mil in studying this project. $2,000,000.00!! Not $2,000 or $20,000 only. And after that amount is spent, the end result could be a "zero" as it's just a study plan, not an implementation!

Very stimulating to the economy! And as I posted earlier, it'll only benefit certain minority groups of people.

By the way, it doesn't take a genius to tell you it's not feasible and there's NO NEED for it at least for the next 15-20 years?!

Try getting to Docklands yourself and see how "easy" it is to get around or find a free parking especially in New Quay Waterfront areas where all the actions are. It's basically easier to rob a bank.

I was there at Waterfront last Wednesday or 2 Wednesdays ago, and it took me nearly 25 minutes to get from Waterfront to World Trade Center around 6.50pm. Mind you, it's a Wednesday, not Friday or Saturday. No footy or anything, just a circus in town that has been there for weeks and will continue to be there till July? If I had walked, it'd take me 10 minutes MAX.

Get the infranstructures around Melbourne right before even thinking of wasting money like that!

Imagine the traffic choas adding another 40,000 people into Docklands on a busy footy weekend! Ouch!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jean Todt - A Malaysian Welcome To You!

Date: 28/4/09
Source: Art Harun

Dear Mr Todt ,

I am an average Malaysian busybody. And, also a petrolhead. And, I am about to shower on you the usual Malaysian hospitality.

On behalf of all average Malaysians, I would like to congratulate you on being accepted by our Government into the Malaysian 2nd Home scheme. I could see that you are well pleased as your application was approved “faster than a Ferrari”, to borrow your words.

You see, our Government is very efficient. If they want to be, that is.

But frankly, Mr Todt, that was not fast enough. Because Ferraris are not that fast. You should have said, “faster than a Nissan GTR”. Now, that would be fast!

May I welcome you to Malaysia, your second home. I am sure you will be pleased to bits to be here. Frankly, you will feel at home here. There are so many Ferraris on the road here. And they are all driven within the speed limit, namely, 110km/h.

But, of course, the owners forget, the 110 shown on the Ferrari’s speedometer is in mph. At the F1 track, there are also many Ferraris, although, quite strangely, some of them could be seen resting in the gravel trap at turn 13. I don’t really know why.

You may want to know what an “average” Malaysian is. Allow me to describe. Average Malaysians are simple men and women. In the good old Great Britain, they might be referred to as “the simpletons”.

But you must remember, in Malaysia, there are 2 categories of “simple” people.

First, there are simple people with entitlements to a lot of things. Like flying first class on taxpayers’ money. Like making technical trips to Disneyland, Dubai or whereever. Like staying in Presidential suites at 5-star hotels and being driven in a limousine rented for more than RM2,000 a day. These are simple people with entitlements and also with simple tastes.

The second category are the simple people without entitlement. These are people like myself. You can meet these people on the streets of Malaysia, in the LRT, LCCT or at the Central Market in KL. Their Disneyland is in Ulu Kelang. Their presidential suite is in their own terrace houses. And they are driven daily in buses which also, sometime, double up as mobile caskets!

I was looking at your picture with your pretty girlfriend the other day Mr Todt. Gosh, you look old!

But don’t fret. In Malaysia, you can get easy and cheap treatment for your old look and start looking younger by the day. You just have to eat what most simple men eat in Malaysia.

We call it “tempe” (pronounced “tempt-pay”). Eat that stuff, dude. You will look younger in no time. But it won’t make you any taller though, sadly. Or any longer, for that matter.

If you are feeling a tad tired in bed, fret not, Mr Todt. In Malaysia, we do not take viagra. We take a herb called Tongkat Ali. I tell you. We have Tongkat Ali coffee. We also have Tongkat Ali tea. Even Tongkat Ali isotonic drinks, we have.

The other day, I even saw Tongkat Ali toothpaste. Although I must confess that it escaped me as to the exact functions of the Tongkat Ali in a toothpaste.

Soon, I heard, Petronas might have a Tongkat Ali premium fuel for cars like your Ferraris.

Perhaps, with that fuel, your Scuderia or Maranello might be able to be nearer to the GTR’s tailpipe on the track. Just perhaps.

There are several things which you cannot do in Malaysia, Mr Todt. First of all, you cannot, ever ever, mention the name of a certain dead Mongolian woman. No, you cannot do that. You see, I am not even mentioning it. Not only that, you cannot read about her too. Or hear news about her. No, you cannot. Remember that.

If you did, you might be arrested and put in the lock up. Oh no, you wouldn’t want that to happen Mr Todt. In the lock up, you might turn crazy and beat yourself with certain blunt, hard, but flexible (let me repeat that, “but flexible”) object. This may cause lacerations and deep wounds on your body.

But, again, do not fret, Mr Todt. Because if you do not suffer from an “underlying acute myocarditis”, you will be okay. Meaning, you won’t die. You will only die if you have that condition.

Otherwise, you may continue to whack yourself silly with the blunt, hard but very flexible object and nothing will happen to you. You might froth in the mouth, like the first time you saw Ms Yeoh, but you will not die. Don’t worry.

Speaking of being worried, are you worried about your safety in Malaysia? If you do, just call the Home Ministry. It will organise your detention under the Internal Security Act, in order to protect your safety.

You can then wine and dine in a dimly lit dungeon. A blunt, hard, but very flexible, object might be given to you for further safety.

By the way, while we are talking about safety, you may not want to go anywhere near a place in KL called Chow Kit. That place, mind you, is so unsafe that even a police beat was closed down because the police were feeling unsafe!

Do you like reality TV, Mr Todt? If you do, Malaysia is the place for you. You can choose from an array of reality TV shows. We have all the reality TV shows from the US and UK. But if you prefer local ones, there are also a lot of those.

The thing is, Malaysia – the whole of Malaysia, that is – is a reality show by itself. But the voting takes place only once in 4 or 5 years.

The current reality show started on March 8 last year. The voting will take place within the next four years or so. But sometime, just to test the ground, there will be “mini-voting”. Just to allow all Malaysians a chance to show their voting trend in the big one in four years’ time. So far, we already had five mini votings.

Ask Ms Yeoh. She might be able to tell you who is leading in this reality show. But then again, this show is so full of twists and turns that you will never know.

Just sit back and observe, Mr Todt. I am sure there is no other show on earth which is better than this Malaysian reality show.

In fact, this whole business of you being accepted into this Second home thingy is also a part of the show! Wooo….you are now an actor, Bro!

One more thing that you might notice soon, Mr Todt, is that we are obsessed with the phrase “social contract”. Everyone is talking about it, including me. But nobody has ever seen it. Nope. Nobody. I will leave it to you then to surmise whether we, Malaysian, are a hallucinating and delusional lot.

Then there is the mainstream mass media. These are local TV channels and local newspapers. You can of course watch the news on these channels. Or read them from the local newspapers.

May I suggest, however, that after you had done that, please read the same news on the Internet. You will find there are differences between the one which you read in the newspapers or watch on the local TV and the one which you read on the net.

You are, of course, at liberty to believe whichever version you like. You would not, however, be wrong to opine that Malaysian journalists are a schizophrenic lot.

You might not be used to some of our concepts here, Mr Todt. In your country, you pay taxes. Your Government then use your taxes to provide amenities for you and all citizens. However, in Malaysia, despite your taxes, you still have to pay toll for using the highways and pay money for some people to take care of your sewage, for example.

You pay duties on your cars and also road tax to use the same.

You pay fees for broadband services but you only get slow Internet connection and when you ask the provider what the hell is going on, they would say “sorry, sir, the speed is on best endeavour basis”. Well, sometime, when you are tired, you might just say best endeavour my fu@#ing foot, you cheats!

You will find, Mr Todt, that in the corporate world, Malaysia is quite unique. For example, we have a monopoly business making a 900 million loss! The CEO of that company then became CEO of the year!

Then we have a government fund management company whose investment shrunk by 10 billion and instead of raising questions, their fund portfolio is increased by 10 billion, too!

Then we have a company which cannot deliver ships which they were supposed to build for whatever billions. In your country, the buyer of the ships would terminate the contract and sue the pants off of the ship builder. But here we give extension of time to the builder and voluntarily increase the price of the ships by a couple more billions! And until now the ships are nowhere to be seen.

Then we have some kind of a port service area built for gazillions but it is not utilised.

Yes, Mr Todt, we are a bit different from the others. Perhaps, because we take Tongkat Ali.

May you enjoy your stay in Malaysia, Mr Todt.

Yours sincerely,

H. Art

p.s. if you must know, Ferraris are lame!

– loyarburok

Stimulus Package

Stimulus Package: A term that I've never heard before in my life suddenly just became one of the most common term that I hear daily for the past few months. Every financially capable Governments around the world are stimulating their people, even some companies (Malaysia Airlines, etc) are applying the same technique.

Contrary to what we've always been taught: save, save and continue saving.

The package encourages: spend, spend and continue spending.

The theory is, keep the ball rolling and don't stop. Once it stops, you're dead. There're pros and cons to both spending and to continue saving.

To continue spending, you sort of "saving" the world by keeping it going but in actual fact, it might be just benefiting several minority groups. To continue saving and spend when you need to, you're classified as "selfish" as you only save enough money for yourself. It's also for a minority of people as most people don't know how to save!

So which is more righteous? I don't know....personally, I'd spend when I need or want if I felt it can bring me benefits in the long run. For the record, I've spent slightly more than the $900 package by Rudd!

The best way is to be the benefiting party when others keep spending. How to do that....? Let's slowly plan our way to it :P

Oh by the way, in times of recession, churches are not immuned too. Everything is in relative to one another. What'll be the churches' "stimulus package"? Any ideas...? :)

As my colleagues saying: Have you been stimulated yet?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Investing Properties In Malaysia

Recently I was chatting with my cousin from Mukah regarding the house/apartment prices in Malaysia, West particularly. To my amazement, the prices she told me was not as expensive as I thought. Perhaps due to the the slowing economy that reduces demand or the oversupplied properties left hanging there.
Prices for a condo starts around RM170,000+ for about 110sqm. Now that's not bad when compared to Aus. It's only about AUD $70,000 for a decent condo. She also told me it's for one of the nice premium locations.

In those premium locations, it's easily to get over RM1,200 in rents per month. So that comes to about 8.5% gross return. In Australia, you'd be lucky to get about 5% gross return for similar property.

Seems tempting and looks like a good investment? If so, why hasn't investors flocked in to buy them instead a lot of Malaysian investors are buying properties elsewhere?

Let's examine some of the reasons why I wouldn't invest there:
  1. Lack of legislation protecting landlords
    - Court system is slow, expensive and pro-tenant. There're no real laws governing this issue. Renting only makes up of 9% in Malaysia, so not strangely enough, is being ignored.

    - In 1997, an act has been passed called "Control of Rent"mainly to help landlord to gain possession of the property back and prevent abuses from tenant, however, according to sources, it sucks and not doing much different.

  2. Poor urban plannings
    - Lack of urban planning is not something new in Malaysia, basically they see a vacant land, they build whatever they like! Only recently Governments and councils have stepped in to minimise some of these random structures popping out of nowhere.

    - Public transport is pathetic and always overcrowded. Traffic is nightmare. Cycling is standing on cliffs edge. Walking is not an option.
  3. No proper insurance cover
    - Well, nobody is going to insure you if they have nothing to insure themselves to begin with!
  4. Agents
    - Never dealt with any agents in Malaysia before. However, impressions are they're dodgy. So how to trust them? Unless someone intro me a good agent? :)
  5. Tenants
    - As we can see from the wonderful infranstructures we have, our citizens in Malaysia are not very good in caring things that do not belong to them. Would you trust someone like that to look after your house?

  6. Renting market
    - The market is just a mere 9%, though expected to increase, is just not big enough. With oversupplied of properties, the rent prices can only go down.

An important aspect of investment is about risk management. If the risks can't be managed, it's just not worth it. You might be better off dealing with banks or like other investors have done: move your funds overseas.

Lately, we have seen some changes by the Najib's administration. Let's see if they can tackle this issue as well. Billions of RM have went out of Malaysia into properties in other countries, how much more can Malaysia afford to lose? How much longer can Malaysia keeps foreigners away from Malaysia?


Sunday, April 26, 2009

RACV - Total Care

Just before Easter, I got a call from RACV offering me free upgrade for my roadside assistance cover from my current existing Roadside Care package to Total Care package. Not sure whether next time my costs will be higher or not but I think it should be!

Anyway, for that cover, let's see what I can get:

Total Care
$172 p.a

Extra Care
$125 p.a.
Roadside Care
$76 p.a

Accident advice




Accident Assistance



Minor parts to the value of $33*



Accommodation (100km+ from home) after an accident



Rental vehicle (100km+ from home) after an accident



Vehicle transportation (100km+ from home) after an accident


Covers any vehicle


Service calls per year


12 calls

8 calls

Towing - metropolitan

100 km

30 km

20 km

Towing - country




Accommodation (100km+ from home) after a breakdown




Rental vehicle (100km+ from home) after a breakdown




Taxi - to get you to your destination

Yes3 @ $80

Yes3 @ $60

Yes1 @ $50

Fuel - to get you to your nearest service station

Yes5 Litres

Yes5 Litres

Yes5 Litres

Vehicle recovery (100km+ from home) after a breakdown



Caravan & trailer assistance







Rental vehicle (close to home)


Use of mobile phone (where available)




Toll free phone number







Personal effects cover


Medical repatriation (Like Aussie Assist)


Fatal injury insurance


Legal advice from a barrister

Yesup to $330

National service




Special towing equipment allowance



Wheelchair/scooter cover


Bike Assist coverage


So if anyone has a car breakdown, out of petrol or flat tyres, just let me know! If I'm nearby, you can use this service for FREE too!!

I've only used this service once when I locked my keys in my old Lancer car previously. Didn't realised I have it for 4 years already! Soon I'm eligible for upgrade to Bronze Membership which will give me an extra 5% discount on all other RACV product/services aand Hertz car rental.