Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Till We Meet Again!

I made Pancasara public a day after my outburst with somebody.

It was a moment to forget. It brought my soul to its lowest abyss. I never felt that low in my entire life.

I came across her yesterday in the office. It was an awkward head-to-head encounter. She looked agitated, so was me.

I wondered what was on her mind...I think she was wondering the same thing about me.

I really hold no grudges against her.

She was the one who encouraged me to broaden my friends' circle, to which I did.

I am on my own before this, without any friends.

So much has changed since then. It was all thanks to her advice.

Sometimes, you lose a friend but get a thousand new friends afterwards.

But even that one thousand new friends can't even come near to replacing the one friend that you had lost.


The last time Pancasara resurfaced was a very long time ago. Even then, it was only for a short period.

This is the longest period that Pancasara has ever been available for public view.

So I think it's about time that Pancasara returns to its former reclusive state.

I'll just let it float for another day or two. It will be a very long time before it will resurface again.

Till then...

Nil desperandum. Dum vita est spes est. 

(Never despair. While there's life, there's hope.)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Lab-orious Day

Just came back from lab, totally exhausted.

A lot of remarkable things happened today, so will just note it all down here in a flash so that I won't forget all these memories :
  • Woke up late as usual, but there was an improvement compared to yesterday. As usual Freddy was not mad, I should learn to be more patient like him.
  • Freddy went to extra length to explain in details regarding PCR. Now I fully understand the inner working and function of the mixture.
  • My DNA extraction yesterday was successful, much to my surprise. There were bands developed. I think I did it playfully.
  • An unknown number appeared when I was listening to Freddy's detail explanation. I ignored it at first but called it back when Freddy finished. Surprisingly it was Ziqa, later I found out that she got my number from Biha.
  • Ziqa was to fly home later this evening. She missed her family, as she told me. That was so sweet. And it was even sweeter when she bought me snail repellent. I didn't ask for it. I only asked for a piece of her snail repellent. 
  • If only I had a younger sister like her. My younger brothers are all so mess up that I really wanted to kick each one of them when they started messing things around.
  • Did PCR practice. My hands were trembling, Freddy jokingly said that I was having a Parkinson.
  • A Master student accidentally poured Liquid Nitrogen into the sink. Hastalavista. That was the same Liquid Nitrogen that momentarily killed the bad terminator in Terminator 2. She was terrified as I teased her about the horrible outcome that was forthcoming.
  • But later it turned out that it was all OK. No need to panic. She called me repeatedly to show that the sink was doing OK. OK sis, I got it. But be extra careful next time.
  • I used the same Liquid Nitrogen for my DNA extraction. Daus was so terrified with it that he distanced himself a near 1 metre from me when I was conducting the experiment. When I jokingly tried to pour it into him, he ran out of the lab. Classic.
  • PCR took almost four hours to finish. In the meantime, I went to CAIS. 
  • Freddy called for dinner. He also asked whether I had performed my prayer. Where else can we find a peculiar lecturer like him? He is one of a kind.
  • He took us to a shop just across the campus main gate. And he left us there as he went back home. Wee Soon, Chieng and me were left puzzled. If only I knew it from the start, I wouldn't have followed them.
  • Walked back towards Cempaka. It was a long journey. The concert was about to start, but I chose to head straight back to my room. Performed my Isyak in surau before heading back to lab. 
  • Freddy, now dressed in T-shirt, short pants and earphone hanging from his ears, continued with his thesis writing. It was a cool sight. I very much hoped to imitate him. I was too serious with my studies sometimes...may be need to chill out and enjoy life a bit. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.
  • Daus and Amir arrived just in time when I finished PCR. After waving goodbye to Freddy and my fellow FYP'ers, we went to convocation stalls.
  • Nithya called to give me something, a 'manisan'. I don't know what they called them in English...a "sweet"? It was rice..a very sweet rice. It was as if the rice were covered with sugar. Thanks, Nithya. And you looked beautiful in that outfit.
  • We went to FAMA stall, where one of my friends were in charge there. I was quite surprise to see Baihaqi was also there. What was he doing there? But the Laici drink was cheap...Daus paid for me. Twice. 
  • Had a chat with Munirah. I knew her from our English class, we were always seated next to each other in class. She owned a kiosk in CTF4. She was very business-minded, she even asked me to join a seminar about business two weeks back, although I was not very sure what she was talking about then. 
  • She is also a hijabster, although she clearly belongs to the moderate group. There were instances when hijabsters refused to talk to me out of fear of fitnah. Is that Islamic? May be yes, according to them. I don't know.
  • In 2002, fifteen Saudi schoolgirls were left burning to their death when the Muttawa would not let them out of their burning school building, or allow firemen in, because the girls' faces and bodies weren't covered. Is that Islamic? Yes, according to the Muttawa. Again, I don't know.
  • We were having a great time...Daus, Amir and me. We were having a great laugh all the way along our journey back to Cempaka. It was reminiscence of our beautiful memories of the past. Amir is going to graduate this Sunday. I wish him a very good luck.
  • Before I forget, many thanks to my precious friend in Penang, who sent me a box of chocolate today. That just made my day. If you are reading this (which I think you will), I will treat you back when I come back to Penang. This is a promise. May Allah bless you.
I think that's all. Tomorrow is going to be another hectic day. I need some rest now. This is definitely a day to remember.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Dum Spiro Spero

The old Kingdom of Sarawak Coat of Arms

I was doing some extra readings for my term paper when an image struck me.

It was a fully loaded truck with a banner that read "While I Breath, I Hope". The truck was transporting logs from rural areas of Indonesia. 

The workers were living in abject poverty but they kept fighting for their life. With every breath they took in, they never stopped hoping for a better future. It almost moved me into tears. I can't upload that deeply moving image because it was in PDF format. But all I can say is, we are very lucky to be born in this blessed country called Malaysia.

I searched the origin of that phrase, and it turned out that it was a direct translation from Latin, Dum Spiro Spero. Latin is practically a dead one speaks in this extinct language anymore. 

In its heyday, Latin was the language of the elites...Sir Isaac Newton used Latin to describe his famous gravity equation. Every plant species found should be described in Latin for age old ruling that was lifted only last year. This once mighty language fall from grace and how it went to grave are still incomprehensible to me...but Latin still holds some of the most memorable quotes in history.

In a rather quirky coincidence, this phrase was the motto of the old Kingdom of Sarawak. In Malay translation, it is called Berharap Selagi Bernafas. Selagi kita masih bernafas, kita tak sepatutnya berputus harap. Allah akan bersama orang-orang yang terus berusaha.

I will keep fighting. Dum Spiro Spero. While I Breath, I Hope. Berharap Selagi Bernafas.

A Promise

Found this hilarious picture at Nury Vittachi's blog.

It shows that Apple is smart, Samsung is trying hard to copy, while Nokia is a lost cause at the back.

This pretty much sums up my day.

I owned an Ipad2 some time around two semesters back.

My friend sent an entry for a competition using my identity card.

When the result was announced, my name appeared as the grand winner. I took the prize and my face was splashed on its official facebook page.

The problem was, who owned that thing? Me or him? That was the dilemma.

So we struck a deal. I would use it during 'on' semester, while he would use it during 'off' semester.

A sweet deal. Nice and simple.

But unfortunately, he reneged on that promise. What was I to say?

I kept my silence all this while, hoping that he would somehow and someday realize that he had made a mistake. A promise or a deal should be respected whatever the circumstances. Even Islam prohibited us from renegading from any promises.

But he never did. Maybe he forgot it all subconsciously.

So I just move on with life. As I said many times, money or whatever trendy gadgets people are using nowadays don't interest me at all.

I just want a good book, a good read, and a good time for myself. And to help other people in need to the best of my ability.

Today is a resoundingly a good day. Visited greenhouse to clear all the poly bags. My plants were heavily attacked by snails.

Ziqa remarked that we shouldn't be fooled by their appearance. They are cute but deadly at the same time.

She was dead right.

She was accompanied by Ainul. I never really knew them before. But since the start of this semester, I was trying hard to get out of my shell and meet new people. I think so far I've succeeded.

Both of them are quite shy...but as thing goes, we are getting comfortable with each other, particularly Ziqa. I used to regard them as 'rigid', as my former experience with hijabsters would testify. But I think I was off the mark this time.

I don't know what they thought of me, but I viewed them as my sisters. They are even younger than my second brother. The breakfast, prepared by them, was among the best that I've ever indulged.

I settled all the required works (with Jefrey and Anis) before heading back. Somehow all the beautiful memories from Langkawi kept playing at the back of my mind. It was fascinating as well as intriguing at the same time.

How are they now? I left them without saying a word, leaving them totally in the dark. Faisal in particular, used to contact me repeatedly to find my whereabouts. But I ignored him. I ignored all of them. It was done for a reason.

When the time comes, I'll revisit all of them.

This is my promise.

And unlike my dear friend of above, I will never renegade my promise.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


It is raining mildly. I've been reading articles since I came back from DI two hours ago. I have nothing to write actually, but looking at this peaceful rain makes me want to write down something.

I miss my hometown really much. I haven't been home for almost two years. I have no idea what Jitra would look like now, the last time I was back there it was a totally different city from the one I used to cycle back and forth during my early days.

Jitra was a quiet city, before the mushrooming of learning institutions disrupted its peaceful existence. UUM, KMK, SBPs, MRSMs and even KMP contributed to the sprawling growth of Jitra. Now it is crowded with outsiders. It is not uncommon now to hear outside dialects being spoken in Jitra, a rare occasion twenty years ago.

I was not born and I've lived half my life outside Jitra, but I still regard it as my only hometown. I miss Kedah dialect, that is my natural language and I haven't spoken it for a long time. It's hard to find a fellow Kedahan's here.

That is all for today. I want to fully enjoy this peaceful rain. With every drop of this rainfall, it was as if my problems were slowly washed away with it.

Maybe that's the hidden power of rain. It secretly soothes the soul.

Friday, November 1, 2013

"If we knew what we were doing...

...then it wouldn't be called a research" - Albert Einstein

The above quote was the opening line of Siddiq's proposal presentation yesterday. It drew a nice and warm smile from Puan Dayang, his supervisor. And it created a fine starting atmosphere for his presentation delivery.

He dressed just like me a week ago…the same shirt, the same tie…it was as if I were looking at myself giving a second presentation. We shared so much in common. My heart beat faster as he moved smoothly from slides to slides, I think I was more nervous than him.

I skipped the first half of my class to attend his presentation. He has been practicing with me to prepare for his eagerly awaited D-day. I gave insights on how to improve his overall performance…his slides, his delivery and his confidence.

A JPA scholar, he has natural talent for academics. I have cordial relationship with his supervisor, Puan Dayang. Our relationship went back a long way. He did his project under her guidance partly because of me. Although we were separated by different courses, our bond still binds miraculously.

Siddiq's main problem seemed to stem from his unusual penchant for British accent. I tried hard to help him suppress this annoying habit, because I really couldn't afford to have another carbon copy of Zamir. One was enough to drive me into the brink of insanity, two would surely make me a mad man.

He did well to deliver his points. And he kept his presentation well within his allocated time, much to my relief, because during our practice, he usually went beyond that. Overall it was a good performance.    

My only complaint was his opening quote. Although he claimed that was attributed to Einstein, I doubt it very much. I've been a keen follower of Einstein pretty much throughout my whole life and never once did I come across that quote in his official records.

It makes me think of this virally-shared quote from Abraham Lincoln. 

The problem is, Abraham Lincoln died long before the internet was even created. But people kept sharing this nonsense as if it were the holy truth. Where is the common sense?

Time to get back to my work.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


"Mr Different Shoes!"

She came out of nowhere and greeted me with her lively voice. It was at exactly the same spot as last week. DejaVu? Apparently she fastened her step to catch up with me.

She was that sassy first year nursing student.

We chatted a bit and she revealed more about herself. She hailed from Johore, graduated from matriculation and stay in Cempaka. She was the only student from her batch that took up nursing here in Unimas.

Despite her fragile frame, she has a lot of energy when it comes to conversation. She also has a unique way of speaking, which I can’t explain properly. And some people have this rare gift of being pleasantly very nice looking. I think she is one of those.

Although she was clearly still occupied with my eccentricity (what so strange about wearing different shoes anyway?), I think she'll get used to my way in no time. It is always a good thing to get a new acquaintance.

Among a flurry of events yesterday, that was the only positives.

The rest are mundane, some are almost craps.

I hope today will bring a new, fresh experience. I'm tired of the same old routine.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I am what I am

The mid semester questions were direct and straight to the point. I could have finished it by the first 45 minutes and then rushed to catch someone's presentation, but that just wasn't me. I never submitted my answer script early.

As usual, I ended up being the last person to submit my answer. I made full use of the two hour allocations to elaborate on my answers. To the person concern, very sorry I couldn't make it to your presentation session.

Had a progress meeting with my supervisor. He wanted me to add a new section to my project. Azizul didn't quite manage to get a satisfying result with his experiment, so the burden was passed to me. Freddy seemed to hold me in an unfathomable high regards, which puts me in a difficult situation sometimes.

Although I love to have someone who has full faith in me, high expectation can hurt me sometimes. And it can hurt the other person as well if I fail to accomplish his or her whatever wishes. The more hope you placed on someone, the harder the effect of the fall if he or she couldn't get that thing rightly done.

To deviate a little, Sir Alex Ferguson biography was a refreshing revelation. He was at his best again; narcissist, wily, candid and raw. I never really admired him, but I have full respect of what he had done in Manchester.

I used to be very candid in my assessment of people or events. If I like or dislike someone or something, I would say or show it straight away. Somehow I'm holding myself back nowadays due to some circumstances.

And I want to change this. I want to become my former self. Starting today.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Another Monday

Today is a bit of a frantic day. Found myself waking up very early in the morning. Class started at eight, and had nowhere to go after that.

Wasted some time in herbarium, where a group of my course mates was having a discussion. I was the only man, and it was a strange thing.

Something was bothering my mind, which was why I loitered around with them.  

I struck a conversation with Rasila, my first ever with her. She was quite surprised that I knew her by name, because of my reputation of not recognizing a large chunk of my own course mates.

She first caught my attention when she attained highest score in molecular systematics…ahead of Zila, who is arguably our best student.

You just don't overscore Zila by chance. Her mind was like a sponge that soaks up everything at ease. Both of them consistently maintain their Dean List achievement, which is quite a feat.  

She had a cut on her finger, wrapped by a medicated plaster. I suggested that she changed into a plastic medicated plaster. She asked about my bag, to which, according to her, was strange.

Just last week, as I was walking to the sports complex, a nurse student asked me about my shoes, which was very strange to her. I wore a different kind of shoes on my left and right leg. It's partly for good luck charm.

I think this is how I live my life.

Caught a glimpse of biotech presentation, but just as I was approaching TR10, they stopped for break. Bad luck. Went back to herbarium where we continued chatting about ghost stories.

Class finished around two…and that ended any hope of catching somebody's presentation at 1.45. Another bad luck.

A storm is brewing on the horizon…I knew something was not going into the right direction when Freddy asked whether I was aware of the latest incident.

For now it's better for me to be a bystander.

Friday, October 25, 2013


My intense and torrid week has finally come to pass. I cleared all the hurdles, felt completely worn out.

Took a deep sleep right after Isyak, realized after waking up that Daus and Firiz came to study for their upcoming exam. Firiz stayed until now (it's already half past three), no wonder he is among the best student in chemistry.

Although he is a bit eccentric at times, for me he is a good person, with a gift of a brilliant mind.

He works in a machine-like efficiency. He was the one who thoroughly gleaned over my proposal references to check for any inconsistency. They way he did that was simply breathtaking...I remember looking in awed for his precision and memory. He corrected it all almost effortlessly, like a machine.

A machine can do a work of ten ordinary men, but no machine can do a work of one extraordinary man. I think this quote best describes him. But unfortunately his course mates didn't give him much credit for his outstanding ability. He was always ridiculed, which left me fuming. People now prefer to treasure something else, I guess.

Need to get a short rest before resuming my usual work. It's been a tough week, but I think I did well to soften its impact.

Time to sit back, relax, and enjoy a cup of coffee.

Monday, October 21, 2013


When I uttered my last words, Freddy was the first to give his round of applause, and he gave the loudest.

It was a job well done, although not entirely free of blemishes. He was quite impressed with my abrupt improvement. He was so incensed with my slow adaptation to his method the day before, he even slammed me and said (right to my face) that he was "pissed off" with my performance on the mock presentation.

I took it as a challenge and drilled myself intensely last night. And it clearly bore the fruits of success today. I may not be the best among the rest, but that was the best from me.

I went passed him and he whispered to my ear "well done, very good". It was heartening to hear those words, because just yesterday he seemed to lose all hope on me.

A burden has been lifted. A hurdle has been crossed.

But for sure there is still plenty more to come. I will keep myself ready to face all the upcoming challenges. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Final Preparation

My mock presentation went off badly. It was a rather shoddy performance. I turned up late (as usual) and started the presentation after Jeffrey. Halfway the line, I completely lost the plot and went all the way snafu. I knew I was a sitting duck…an open target. As expected I was gunned down by my supervisor. It was fortunate that he reserved me some mercy.

My nervous breakdown still gripped me mercilessly now and then. My former coach used to lambast me in the past because I kept losing easy matches against lower rung opponents, mostly due to my nervousness. He made his point known that if we cannot get hold of our emotion, then our emotion will get the better hold of us. When that happened, it was pretty much the end of everything. Now I’m comfortable in court, but still find it uneasy to handle myself properly on stage.

Some interesting development happened today (not related to presentation or proposal), but I had no time to ponder upon it for the time being. Two more days to go, I better get myself fully prepared. Freddy won’t be so merciful when the real day comes.

Friday, October 18, 2013

"Let's just desert him then..."

I was just finishing my class when I met Giha, Fatin and Yam in front of the office.

Giha had just received the corrective version of her presentation slides. She needed to overhaul almost everything…pretty much it means starting over from scratch.

Then she showed me a message from our supervisor, Freddy the great, which was posted on our FYP group’s page. Freddy asked me the other week why we kept eerily silent whenever he mailed anything to us.

I threw my two cents worth of opinion, stating that mail is so old-fashioned, so yesterday…facebook is the order of this new crop of generation. Facebook is funky, mail is so quirky. It was then decided that he would create a facebook group specially catered for us…which left me in limbo.

I never had one…and never wanted to have one, not even a fake one. Please don’t force me. I’d rather die than having one.

I decided to stick to my status quo. I prefer e-mails. But Freddy stuck to his newfound idea. That was when the battle of our ego’s erupted.

In that facebook posting, Freddy apparently plotted with everyone else to ditch me, or in his exact word "Let’s just desert him then…". Of course it enraged me.

Looking at the content of the group page, it was heavily loaded with updates, announcement and current information. I was not only left deserted, I was also left deprived of all the crucial updates and information.

I relented at last, I had to put my ego behind, for the sake of my future. It took those three people to create my first ever account. I promised somebody in the past that I would never create a facebook account, which explained why I let those three of my friends there create that account for me. At least I didn't break my long-held promise.

That also explained my hell-bent attitude against facebook.

Have a mock presentation tomorrow. Time to refocus.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Double Blow

It’s official. I will be the first presenter on the first day of our presentation week. My worst case scenario had been confirmed.

Zila was the first to alert me pertaining to this incoming bad news. At first I thought she was just pulling a prank. But on second thought, I asked myself, when was the last time she played prank on me? Never. That was when I feared for the worst.

And when I started receiving "congratulatory" wishes from my course mates along the corridor, I knew my worst nightmare is slowly creeping into reality.

On top of that, the department had gleefully decided to land me another blow. They had chosen me to be the chairperson for the second day of the presentation. What a landmark decision. They almost gave me a heart attack in swift double moves.

It’s a double blow for me. I think there was a complot to kill me. They wanted to frighten me to death.

I dreaded speaking in front of the crowd. It was like a death sentence. I skipped almost all my awards ceremony because of the stage fright. I even stayed away from my last convocation partly because of that.

I never wanted to be basked in the limelight; I prefer slipping quietly underground below the radar to avoid any public attention. That is my way of life, the one that makes me tick.

I negotiated a secret pact with Zamir…he would be replacing me as the chairperson in a swap deal. As expected, he agreed promptly to my suggestion, without any hassle. He loves all the attention, all the public spotlight…he is the right person for the job, not me. I think the public would be amused by his thick British accent.

I solved one problem, but couldn't do anything about the other. As usual, I’ll just plan for the worst, and hope for the best.   

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


couldn't sleep last night, didn't know why. Maybe I thought too much. Sometimes I tend to remember something that needs to be forgotten, sometimes I forget something that needs to be remembered.

The problem was solved today. They went by bikes. That appeased my earlier fear yesterday. We were a bit late, so we headed to Pusat Islam for AidilAdha prayer. It was a full house affair…crowd thronged the over-packed venue from as early as seven o’clock.

The sermon was delivered by a familiar face, although I was not sure who he was. At first glance I thought he was Dr Jamal, but my friend denied it. But his sermon, albeit monotonous in nature, had some good points. He stressed the importance of listening carefully to speeches, juxtaposing his point with our prophet’s last sermon.

And he also made a point about deeds, or our ibadah…it’s not the quantity that matters, it’s the quality. So to those houlier-than-thou wannabes; better take a good notice of his advice. I've known many hypocrites who hide their wicked behaviour under the cloak of piety. This doesn't bode well for the overall outlook of Islam.

We visited five open houses…my personal record. It was fortunate that I met Syafira the other day…she was the one who arranged everything. I was informed that she recently lost her dear mother…but she didn't show any sign of sorrow, let alone any emotional distress. Maybe she’d already overcome that emotion. The reason she tagged along with us was that she felt lonely at home.

My course mates were never dull, they always created jokes, sometimes out of nothing. A burst of laughter was the usual event surrounding their conversation. Torrid time lies ahead next week, so we made full use of this festive break to enjoy ourselves. It was a thoroughly nice experience.

Speaking of torrid time, I got quiz tomorrow, and still need to finalize my proposal. And the project paper…maybe the weight of all this burden is causing me to lose sleep. I better not waste any more time.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hope For The Best

After re-reading my last posting, I realized the content was not that "light". It was a bit heavy…but actually the title was more to do with "Light" of the protagonist character of the famed Death-Note, not "Light" in the literal sense of "not being heavy".

A Light Moment was therefore, an indirect link to both Light and L, who fought each other over a differing stance. Both are genius in their own sense. I always refer to these two epic characters when it comes to evaluating two contrasting opinions. Sometimes, the answer is not just a plain right or wrong. It lies deep beyond that.

Light was not entirely wrong; L was not entirely right, and vice versa. The system that we are currently inhabiting in was not entirely right, but it was not entirely wrong either. The best we could do is to live with the system and try to make necessary adjustments / improvement, to the best of our ability.

Then we hope for the best.

I am in the midst of a big dilemma. Tomorrow is going to be a hectic day…got plenty of houses to visit.

But the problem seems to be the shortage of cars. All cars seem to be fully booked, leaving us with little options. There are six of us, with only a Viva available…it would be a magical feat of sort to fit all of us into that. I could imagine some of us getting strangled at the back seat.

I tried to book another car but it was too late. Initially I planned to go there by bike…but eventually there was a spike in requests to join us. I relented and agreed afterwards to accommodate them, but now it’s coming to haunt me.

Fifi left my room in complete agony just now after failing to reach a consensus. It was secretly agreed upon us all that he was the one to be booted out. Although that agreement was done in jest, I feared that he may take it seriously. But what more could we do? We cannot jettison somebody just like that.

Just hoping that this problem would resolve itself tomorrow. I’m running out of idea to find a good solution. 

Time to sleep. And hope for the best, tomorrow. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Light Moment

Finally finished my proposal…I put all my best effort to piece it all into completion. It felt like a huge burden has been lifted off my back.

Freddy was quite satisfied with it…he admitted that he saw a marked improvement compared to the last one. Minus one or two minor corrections, it was ready for submission.

My proposal was very thick and heavy in contents…it was full of molecular details. Personally I tried to avoid all the complicated terms, because the general public may find it confusing and I do not like that situation. But my supervisor insisted that I included all the details, it was for academic purposes, he claimed.

There are two kinds of people in this world…the one who explains simple terms in complicated manners to appear intelligent, and the one who simplifies complex concepts in layman terms for easier understanding. The former think they are intelligent; the latter think intelligently. There is a gulf of difference between these two groups. It is obvious that I prefer the latter, although I must admit I had limited ability to reach that level. Only a select few could achieve that.

I had the rare privilege of studying both molecular biology and molecular physics (it was called ‘quantum physics’ in physics). Both are very challenging subjects…they stretched our mind to the limit. I read news recently that reported a vast number of professionals are fast becoming an atheist. The more they learned, the more skeptical they were towards the existence of God.

If the purpose of learning is to edge ourselves closer to God, then they had violently violated that principle.

On a lighter note, Freddy called to inform that he was picking me up for a simple discussion. He won’t be around for two days, and this was our last chance to iron out all of our disagreements regarding my proposal. He appeared to be in a bullish mood…he cleared all of my confusions with his elaborate explaining, fuelled by his enthusiasm.

He actually rewrote part of my proposal (in his own words) to clarify and improve it as a whole. I don’t think any other supervisor would have gone to such extent to help their students. It was truly my privilege to have him as my supervisor.

Towards the end of our discussion, he expressed his high hopes for us to perform well during our presentation. It was around this time that I asked him about the imminent departure of Dr Lim. He revealed that Dr Lim will be leaving for UM “for some reasons”. At first glance, it was unclear to me what he meant by that, but then he went on to explain everything in details.

What started out as an offhand question, proliferated into a full blown revelation. He exposed in great length about the inner working of our department, the ‘cog’ in the ‘machine’, the so-called ‘deadwood’, what the lecturers were talking about the students, the flaws of the system, the KPI’s, the ‘free-riders’, the grants and teaching money, the ‘perception’ and ‘pre-conception’, including the ‘power rangers’ who abused their position. Some of his assertion were so controversial that he made me promise not to divulge anything to anyone. I will stick to that promise. He was thoroughly disappointed with all the happenings around him.

Sometimes, we can change something…but most of the times, we just have to learn to live with it. I am not implying we shouldn't do anything…we should always strive to turn thing for the better. But after all, we are just a small player in a larger scheme of things. Nothing that we do will matter much anyway.

Or as the late L of Death-Note series once said, “No matter how gifted, you alone cannot change the world”. As a person, we are powerless…but as a group, maybe things will change for the better. Maybe, one day.   

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Half of our class were in tears. Almost all female students had a bit of tears in their eyes. Some couldn't contain it, even some guys cannot hold back their tears.

It was a sad moment. After 16 years serving in Unimas, Dr Petrus finally called it a day.

He didn't renew his contract, even though he was given another term to continue his service. He stands among my most favourite lecturer. He was the first to recognize me by name, long before any other lecturers began noticing me. He is truly soft-spoken, always cracking a joke here and there, has passion for teaching and tries his best to explain complicated concepts in a simplified manner. 

That surprise farewell occasion, it was brilliantly executed to perfection. They planned it carefully, all credits should be given to the mastermind. Even I was left in astonishment to their crafty planning. They left the lecture hall one by one after finishing their exam paper. I sent my answer script quite late, because I wanted to have a small chat with Dr Petrus. After all, that was his last class with us and I was treasuring all the little fraction of time left to be with him.

The hall was almost empty, I was among the last person still standing in the hall, chatting with Dr Petrus, apologizing for my past mistakes, as well as enquiring about his next move. The atmosphere was sombre...I was quite disheartened with all of them because almost all left without wishing Dr Petrus anything. I felt that they didn't show enough sense of gratitude to the person who had given them so much. That was when suddenly they came in droves, entering the hall one by one, and dispelling my earlier scanted presumption once and for all.

There were fruits and cake and cards. The dying and sombre atmosphere suddenly came alive with flashing cameras and well-wishers. Even Dr Petrus himself was taken by surprise. He tried to choke back his tears, but emotion overcame him eventually. With teary eyes he addressed us in his last speech, wishing us all the best in our future undertaking.

It was a pleasant surprise, the one that I’ve never experienced before. As for Dr Petrus, thank you so much for everything. I could never repay his deeds and his faith in me. You may be out of Unimas, but you’ll never be out of my heart. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013


A friend notified me of an e-mail from our supervisor. After that ‘bashing’ session, I was totally grief-stricken that I'd lost any interest to check on my mail.  

But after a while, I regained my conscience and opened my mail. It was an unusual mail from him (our supervisor), and I’ll produce the content here verbatim.

   Dear all,
If I stressed you out or I hurt your feelings or I am too hard on/fierce for you, please let me know. I can try to change my supervising style. It is not healthy for you to have such feelings. Student-supervisor communication is really important to make things work. 

I apologize if I make any mistakes but I would like to let you know I have no bad intention to treat you in such a way. So, I hope we can work things out. 


Judging from the timing of the mail (around 6.00 p.m., the day of my suicide mission with him), it was sent right after that session, where he (unintentionally) skinned me alive.

I harboured no hard feelings towards him, honestly. I took it all as a challenge. It’s part and parcel of life to be criticized. I accept criticism with substance.

But I don’t know what the rest of us are feeling towards his approach. He’s brutally honest…blasting his points with razor sharp words. His candour and demeanour have no middle ground…you either like him or loathe him. There’s no grey area.

I’m looking forward to working closely under his tutelage. There is so much more to learn…sometimes I feel like I’m running out of time. Time is of an essence. Seeing people wasting their time by playing games, surfing facebook, talking incessantly and doing nothing makes me angry. We have no more time to waste. Let's pull our socks up and stop wasting any more time.

I'll work harder after this.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Suicide Mission

I went into a suicide mission today.

That suicide mission was…seeing my supervisor.

Much has been said about him. Some described him as complicated. Some said he is strict. Others thought of him to be funny. One of my friends said he is “immature”.

For me, he is the combination of all of that.

One of his red-flagged comments to my proposal was that he will kill me. This was because I made a very stupid technical mistake. I accidentally mistook something for something else, and for that reason alone, for him I deserved to be executed.

Another of his colourful comments was that I was like a disk-jockey…spinning words here and there just to describe the same thing. When Giha read that comment, she just couldn’t stop herself from laughing.

She and Nithya burst into another laughter when they read another of his brief comment that I “like to slap my own face” with my contradicting elaboration.

I didn’t contradict myself, it was just a case of interpretation. Your mind sees only what you want to see. Your perception and mind-set guide your interpretation of the world. Maybe I see things differently.

But scientific thinking now endorses us to conform to popular notion. It doesn’t encourage outliers. Deviation from popular thinking or fact would be whipped to maintain order.

Just a simple example, up until today, most of us thinks that physics dictates an object cannot be in two places at the same time. Is it?

Actually, it is the opposite. In quantum physics, at any given time, an object couldn’t be at the same place. Nothing has definite position. Or in simpler word, nothing can be in the same place at the same time. This is called Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.   

Back to my proposal, together with my supervisor, we rigorously inspected my proposal words by words. Every sentences were scrutinized for mistakes. He felt that my writing was “too beautiful” for a scientific writing. I was like a novelist, with a plethora of flowery words accompanying my every sentences.  

Yes…scientific writing shouldn't be beautiful. It shouldn't be readable. It should be ugly…the more unreadable and understandable the better. Is this the case?

The explanation was that scientific writing is more slanted towards precision. Sharp and direct to the point are the order. All the beautiful phrases are for the arts stream. While I was not fully in agreement with this line of argument, I think I need to abide by this, for the time being.

When the clock was approaching 5 p.m…I asked for the meeting to be postponed, because I needed to adhere to my practice session. This was when he went into a rage…he bluntly stated that squash doesn't have any bearing on my future. He accused me of putting more emphasis on squash over academics.

I was not emphasizing squash over academics, it never was. It was just that I was very tired mentally and needed a rest. I didn't think I could give full attention anymore. I couldn't continue any longer...I had reached my limit. It is always better to have something of everything than everything of nothing, no?

But he insisted that we finished everything today. We scrolled to the end of my proposal and tightened up all the loose screws. By the time it ended, I was thoroughly exhausted, mentally and physically.

All in all, it was not so bad…because I came out of his office alive. But he did tear me apart emotionally. Some of his words pierced right through my heart. But I took all that as a challenge…I think he just wanted to extract the best out of me.

I will rise to the challenge, hopefully.   

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


I just received a message from Nithya. She never messaged me this deep into late night, something bad must have happened.

She had to change her proposal, because her title was changed at the very last minute. Most of her initial proposal was rendered useless in the blink of an eye. All her hard work and perseverance (she stayed up directly for countless days to complete her proposal) basically had gone down the drain. She had to alter most of the contents…even her species was changed.

In short, she needs to do everything again from scratch. To describe her situation as unlucky is truly an understatement. This is an outright disaster.

I must admit that I’m a bit worried for her…she doesn't seem strong enough to hold off this impending test. She once confessed to me that she gave up easily when the going gets tough. She’s a nice young woman…with a bit of a character. She asked me to teach her and her boyfriend squash, to which I readily accepted.

I would never forget her sincere concern when I was about to crack under the same pressure a couple of weeks back. She was the one who consoled me in my time of hardship here. I know she won’t be reading this, as she doesn't even aware of the existence of this clandestine blog, but I do hope that she'd be able to brave this trials and tribulations successfully.  

I discovered this evening that my title was also not in accordance with the one submitted to our course coordinator. Tough days are coming, for sure. And many students from the retiring Dr Petrus’ charge were asked to pick new title as per the instruction from their new supervisor. More tough days are coming, I guess.

I better sleep now. Things have gone haywire lately…hope I could keep my sanity.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Reds & Interpretation

I just received my proposal’s result…it was red all over. Maybe my supervisor somehow knew through some magic balls that I am a lifelong Reds supporter (Liverpool YNWA). So he marked it almost all red to acknowledge my flaming passion for the Reds. Really appreciate his understanding.

What seems to keep me all smiling now is the fact that Red Devils are spiralling downward. They are in a free falling mode. They've been taken off the perch by my Liverpool and my second favourite Arsenal. Down you go devil. Your time is over.

There is this saying that says “a smile is a curve that keeps everything straight”You've been hit by a serious trouble (such as…your proposal had just been marked red all over?). Surely you’ll feel distorted? Like the sky is crumbling onto your head?

But someone anonymous smiles at you for no apparent reason…then you’ll feel straight again. You feel resurrected…up and running again.

I’m smiling now in the hope that Red Devils would go straight into the relegation zone. And get relegated. And never resurface again. I’ll then live in a utopia. I really mean this. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. My hatred of Man Utd is beyond a shadow of a doubt. It’s beyond repair.

Regarding my proposal, while it is true that it needs a major shake up, most of my points are valid. But sometimes the truth, or fact, is irrelevant. What matters is the explanation, or interpretation. Truth is nothing without the explanation. The interpretation is mightier than the fact.

To give a simple example, imagine a sales advisor who was stranded at a mysterious island. He observed that all the inhabitants of that island do not wear shoes. This is the fact. There were no shoes on that island. What about his interpretation? This is where it gets tricky.

When he gets back to his homeland, he is called up by his company to report his findings. His report depends solely on his interpretation of the situation on that island. He could suggest that the company should manufacture a shipload of shoes and ship all of them to that island to make shedload of money (they are shoeless so they must be craving for shoes).

Or, he could suggest that there is no point of trading shoes with the people of that island…they never wear shoes anyway and it is highly likely that they would never buy one. It’s a waste of time.

One fact, but with two very glaringly different interpretations.

I remember a sentence from my secondary school period. One sentence, but with two different meanings. 

“Woman without her man would be useless”.

“Woman! Without her, man would be useless”.

A comma and an exclamation mark made all the difference.

This was done by some witty geniuses.

What is the point of this post?

The fact is, I was under tremendous pressure after reading the feedback of my proposal. It was red all over. Then I started writing this piece to distract my mind.

No interpretation needed.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


I’m taking a short break from this proposal writing. A lot of editing needs to be done. As usual need to distract myself a bit, so I can fully refocus on this task later.

I went to Summer Mall this morning, for our assignment. This was my only third time going there, despite the fact that I didn’t go back for my semester break. I knew some people went there twice a week, even thrice a week.

We got what we needed, and did some shopping later. When I was about to pay, I noticed a strange situation. The cashier that I was approaching was a supermodel. I backtracked and changed into another lane, but the same thing was happening. The cashier over there was also a supermodel.   

In fact, almost all the cashiers there were very good looking, supermodel-like.

Something was not right. Something was not in place.

In economy, there is this phenomenon termed “Hot Waitress Economic Index”. I’m not so sure about the plausibility of this theory, but it had already featured in prominent publications such as CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. That speaks volume about its popularity.

According to this theory, when we see waitresses, or to some extent baristas and cashiers, are all good looking, that means something is wrong with our economic condition. It's some kind of economic indicator. In simpler word, when waitress / barista / cashier appears to be very good looking, it's a good indication that our economy is spiraling downward, it’s going into uncertainty.

It happened in Penang circa 2009, when suddenly there was a surge of attractive women filling the positions in various hypermarkets and shopping malls. We had a recession in 2008, so either they were forced to work there after being retrenched, or their parents were retrenched and they were forced to get out from the comfort of their home to find extra money, I was not so sure. But it did happen.     

I knew that this theory is vaguely sexist in nature. Maybe a large majority of women in Sarawak is attractive, that could be the explanation of that strange phenomenon. Or maybe it was a pure coincidence. Or maybe I was half awaken...because I slept very late the night before. Who knows.  

But I heard that sirap in pavilion was already seeing a price hike. And prices everywhere are shooting to the rooftop, literally. I am yet to witness a major price increment myself, because I rarely bought items, but I think there is some truth in it. No major price hike, but there exists a price hike in several items.

And today I made one of my best friends moody. I promised to go out for a pizza together, but had it postponed for two weeks. I think she was disappointed. Maybe next week would be ok…for now, this proposal is killing me.

Almost forgot about my proposal…time to refocus.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Good Day

I’m in a good mood today. I'm beaming with a radiance of joy.

Settled a persistent issue with a stroke of an unexpected luck.

Thank you, Dr Wong. I’ll remember your good deed for the rest of my life. You are one in a million.

I have nothing much to say actually, still busy editing my proposal.

My supervisor wants an Everest-grade proposal. Currently I’m only reaching a Kinabalu grade. Still a long way to climb, but I’ll keep trying to scale that height.

And, Pancasara turns six today. Happy birthday, and thanks for being my faithful companion all these years. You are also my one in a million.

I hope better days are coming.

For the moment, just want to savour this good feeling.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Battle Is On

I think I'm feeling the heat right now.

This intense pressure is slowly building up its fortress to assault me physically and mentally.

I won't give up easily. I'll strive to overcome this challenge.

I'm a Saiyan. What doesn't kill me, makes me stronger.

I'll keep fighting.

Starting now.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Let's Not Burn The Bridge, Just Yet.

I am taking a short break from notes. As usual need to pen down something to clear or digress my mind a bit from all these notes.

Have exam today at noon, and need to edit my proposal. Have bulk of works to do. Need to properly reorganize myself.

Missed another class today. I promise to myself this is the last one.

Read something over the net, regarding a so-called “Malay-Intelligentsia” proposing to scrap Article 153 of our Federal Constitution.

That was an uncalled-for suggestion. For someone who had received all that assistants and now is fiercely calling for its abolishment is absolute absurd. 

You've safely crossed the bridge, but now you are calling for the bridge to be burned.

We are not ready to battle openly on the same level playing field. We were never ready. Even the playing field is not level.

Fact is no fiction, and fiction is no fact. We need to separate between the two.  

I think I need to write something related to our history. Just to get it out my chest.

Many are unaware that special privilege accorded to Malays was there even before our independence. The British created this provision to protect the indigenous peoples (Malay) as they were being swarmed by immigrants.

UMNO didn’t create this provision. This is the hard fact.

UMNO just continues the enactment of this special position of Malay to safeguard the rights of the native peoples. This was agreed upon by MCA and MIC, where they formed a partnership known as Perikatan.

This was the precursor alliance of the current ruling government of Malaysia, the Barisan Nasional.

When Malaysia was born, the term “indigenous peoples” was expanded to include the natives of Sabah and Sarawak, so the birth of the “Bumiputera” term.

One of the reasons of the formation of Malaysia was to balance the population of Malay against the increasing number of immigrants. At one time, Malays were outnumbered by the combination of Chinese and Indians in their own land.

When Malaya achieved independence, the British left, the Chinese took over most of the gaping holes of the enterprises and businesses left over by the British. With almost 4000 years of history, a competitive streak, shrewd mind and acute strategy, they controlled the economic sector up until today.

Tun Dr Mahathir, in his controversial book “The Malay Dilemma’, succinctly said that “The British at least left something for the Malays. The Chinese left nothing, not even crumbs”.

I read that book thrice during my younger years, and I still remember much of its content. And much of its content still holds true to this day.

Special provision of the Malays is not just there as a protective measure, it also serves to crack open the hard wall of opportunities for the community at large.

Many are unaware that a lot of Malays are still living in deplorable conditions. They are being deprived of opportunities to leap out of this hard knock cage. I understand it better than most of the people because I live my whole life in it.

We are a young race, below a thousand years in age, with half of that was spent under the clutches of multiple colonial rules, still plying and learning the trade to compete with the rest, with their own history spanning more than a thousand years old.

Plus with our lay back attitude, honestly could we be on par with them? Without quota, a portion of us wouldn’t step foot in university. Half of us wouldn’t even get scholarships, including the illustrious JPA or any other government-linked companies.

My youngest brother didn’t do very well in his UPSR, yet he received full scholarship to study in a boarding school. With his result, he couldn’t enrol in that school if pure merit was the criterion.

But the government saw his potential, and took into consideration of our family’s economic condition. Sometimes he was ridiculed by his friends because of his not-so-stellar results. I just hope that he keeps working hard and proves everybody’s wrong.

Even with his scholarship, he struggled to keep up and almost drop out of school because my parents couldn’t afford to buy him new school bag and stationery. Lucky my scholarship came in time, and it was spent for his purposes.

There were times when I shuddered when he wanted something, because I knew most of the time my parents couldn’t afford to buy it. I tried my best to satisfy his whatever wishes, because I love him very much.

Without him being awarded the scholarship and the quota entrance to that boarding school, I don’t think he could continue his study in his secondary school.

Full scale meritocracy wouldn’t work in Malaysia. Not for the distant future. We need Article 153 to safeguard our future, and our next generation’s future. It’s not just there as a protective measure, it also serves to open up possibilities and break the cycle of poverty that has entrenched us for generations.

For the holders of scholarship, just bear in mind and ask yourself, do you deserve it?

Are you really fully deserved of it?

Keep working hard and don’t ever rest on your laurels. Count your blessing. They are many more people who are not so fortunate.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Taking a short break from study. I’m writing this to clear my mind a bit.

There were some ups and downs for these past two days. Giha called me in the midst of yesterday’s morning rush just to make sure that I’ve already woken up. I think it was kind of funny. But I do have a habit of waking up very late, plus my sleeping disorder lately.

I love order…I love being in order. And I love doing something in an orderly manner. But my life is currently in turbulence, literally. It was all a mess. And I’m trying my utmost best to put myself in order again.

We were scheduled for a practical session for our project. After listening to our supervisor’s lengthy explanation, I let out a huge sigh. The whole procedure was complicated, and laborious to say the least.

We need to cross-pollinate the flowers, observe its progeny, and build molecular markers. It’s a tedious work. We even will be having a work-station erected just outside the Persaintek room for the sake of our project.

We will wear a spacesuit-like dress, and we’ll be belting the hell out of all that filthy germs that have the guts to pollute our sacred pollens. And we’ll defeat them. Definitely. We’ll emerge victorious in the end. This is our war. I’m getting ridiculous here.

On the way home, Freddy asked whether we knew possible good students from the current junior batch, because he wanted to screen them out for his future project. I joked that maybe we were all vetted by him in the first place?

To which, surprisingly, he answered yes.

He revealed that my name was recommended to him by our head of department. No wonder he personally invited me to do this project with him. It was such an honour…I promise not to let him down. I’ll give my best.

Back in faculty, I came across Azizul and Farah. We were having a casual conversation when Dr Aida approached and interrupted us. She asked whether I told something to our junior crop of students, to which I denied.

She revealed that her class was almost empty (15 students out of maximum quota of 50) and this was due to a mischievous senior that has been spreading words about the difficulty of that course. And she suspected me. It was certainly not me, Dr Aida.

I knew nobody from our junior batch…so it can’t possibly be me. But whenever unknown juniors asked for my opinion, I would always say every subject is a challenge. This was to drive their determination further. Nothing could ever be taken for granted. Nothing is easy in this world. We have to fight to get anything.

Maybe that was why I came under her suspect.

Enough rambling for today. Time to get back to work. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fever & Anger

I’m struck with a mild fever today. I think my body has reacted to all the torments it has been subjected to in these past few days. I rarely contracted fever…I took this as a signal to slow myself down a bit.

I gulped down a Panadol before having a deep sleep just after Maghrib. Woke up around 11.30p.m, my head still felt a bit dizzy, but it was a lot better. I’ve already notified my ‘steamboat’ friends of my condition…they cancelled a car because I couldn’t attend the function. One or two of them showed a degree of concern…really appreciate it, although I don’t really give a hoot whether anybody is concern or not about me. I can take care of myself. I can live by myself.

There was a bit of a situation in the English class last evening. The lecturer (a young Chinese) was giving a lecture on diversity of cultures, when she implied that Malay is a kind and polite race. She asked the opinion of the class, when suddenly a female Chinese student daringly said that Malay is not that polite.

I suddenly raised my voice, telling her off that we (Malay) are indeed a polite people. She changed her tone afterwards, perhaps partly because of my directness, saying that majority of the Malays are polite, with few bad apples, as with other races.

How impolite to say that a certain race is not polite in front of the whole class? This has never occurred before. They are getting very loud and vocal lately. A case of superiority complex? They claimed to be treated as a second class citizen, whereas they continuously depicted us (Malay) as having a second class mentality.

There was this case last semester when a Chinese student indirectly saying in front of the whole class that Malays are lazy. It didn’t help to have a lecturer who was more of a liberal Malay apologetic. For me, this was not a laughing matter.

There was another situation in the same class (economy), where I tried to explain something (related to the subject) to a Chinese student, in which she listened half-heartedly. I knew what was playing in her mind. For her, as a Malay, I did not have the intelligence to digest the subject better than her.

When the mid-semester result was out, in which the lecturer called out the names of the top scorer in front of the class, my name was among the list. That Chinese girl looked at me in disbelief. There were two or three more Malay names on the list besides me. Surprised to see us Malays do have a brain, eh?

Also on the list was this one quiet Chinese guy, who always seated next to me at the back row. I admired his personality; calm, quiet, never uttered a single word. And most importantly, he was not boastful. He explained to me that his goal was only to pass the subject, not scoring an A.

He reminds of a quote from Plato “Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something”.

I have nothing against the Chinese, almost all my good friends in Penang were Chinese. In fact I worked under them closely for three years. I went out with them, hang around with them. We ate together, went to cinemas together, played badminton together, gossiped together, and argued together. But a handful of them just raised my temper indefinitely. And I really couldn’t stand it.

I think my fever has slowly subsided. Will watch some episodes of Spellbinder 2 before reviewing one or two subjects. Need to do some practical work tomorrow. I hope everything goes as planned.