Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Charisma or Dilemma?

Dear Friends,

I don't normally blog on politics. After all the 'ruckus' and comedy that has been going around recently, I thought I would just jab the clowns a little.

This is after all BOLEHLAND politics. It is funny how we are driving the "ONE MALAYSIA" concept with a "TWO PERAK" 'legality' of government. Today, was the second assembly sitting of the Perak Legislative Assembly. Surely parliamentary behaviour must be expected of leaders elected into public office. But, not today. It was a day of, "You don't play-play with me ar !", "Your face like 'Lanun Pirate'-lah, better go die", "Give me back my speaker's robe, don't tear it - lah". The best of it all was, "Get out - Get out, You don't get out I squeeze your BALLS!" For crying out loud, an assemblyman had his private part fondled and squeezed in the august house today.

All is not well in current politics. In the, "M ust C hange A ll", one would never expect the reconciliation of Ah Keat and Ah Lek. For their survival, Ah Lai from HERO is now ZERO. A real CHANGE in the cards. In the, "P lease K autow R epeatedly"; charismatic Zai Zaid is suffering 'exhaustion' and has gone on leave; better still in Sabah, Jeff KittyCat has quit citing lost of confidence. Who lost confidence in who - lah? I guess he will be 'KATAK-ING' again looking for a bigger pond. The Talibanias didn't want to be left out either. Out of boredom, they have joined in the game of "Let's call an EGM" like their 'friends' in "M ust C hange A ll" to wallop fellow Talibanias who are pro - "U M ust N ot O bject".

So, HOW-LAH? Is our political situation reflecting a "Charisma or Dilemma ?"



Saturday, October 24, 2009

No Money No Talk

Dear Friends,

There were some differences. When we had that fella that was sleeping in the 'TEH TARIK GROUP', we had a sleepy budget. He was imaging that every Malaysian will be laid back. With a 'Serunai' in our hands, blowing to the tunes of 'Lanchang Kuning' and sipping 'Kopi Tongkat Ali' in the opened padi fields. Much importance was put into the agriculture sector in last year's budget.

This time around; from a SLEEPING economy, we are hopefully going to emerge number "ONE". Everything converge around the numeric number "1". From "1 Malaysia", "1 Malaysia- 1 Voice", "1 Malaysia Fund", "1 Malaysia Unit Trust" and yesterday, "1 Malaysia, Together We Prosper"- Budget 2010.

It reasoned to be a budget for the 'RAKYAT' aiming to make it a high income economy. In simple words, Ah Jeep was saying, "I will not be able to do this alone, to transform this economy, every ONE of us had better work our ASS OFF and sacrifice". Reflecting the budget, nothing clear was mentioned on how are we going to arrive at a SERVICE economy from the previous sleeping 'serunai blowing' economy. When I learned Economics during my tertiary years, I was taught that a human's want is never satisfied. Thus, only a few proposals; either PERSONAL or PROFESSIONAL struck me in the budget that was tabled yesterday.

I was ELATED to learn that RM899 million had been allocated for tourism spending, which in return will secure 24 million proposed visitors to Malaysia. I trust Ah Yen will spend the money wisely and not have another 'PEMPENA' which only prospered a few individuals instead of '1 Malaysia'.

I was NEUTRAL when sin taxes remained. Not that I condone to burning Samy's lungs and stoning his head out. But, if we are really serious about visitors to our shores, we have to be 'human' and know what the world wants instead of hiding behind our so PIOUS beliefs. "We have really ARRIVED", the day Beyonce is allowed on stage sexily and the Talibanias not having to worry, that their 'skull heads' wetting their beds in their dreams.

I was not IMPRESSED with the imposition of service tax on credit cards. The truth of the matter is, if the 'teh tarik group' really wants to encourage prudent spending, it is education that is needed. If Ahmad has already maxed out his credit limit, do you really think RM50 is going to deter him from spending? Sufferers in the end, both Ahmad and the 'teh tarik group'.

I say THANK YOU for the SLIGHT cut in personal income tax. A 'ONE' percent cut from 27 - 26%? I hope this is not due again to the "1 Malaysia" conceptual numeric campaign. I felt that the cut should be applicable to all instead of only those in the higher income bracket. With calculations done, an estimated RM 150 - 200 per month is 'earned'. Enough for two extra bowling nights.

I am RELIEVED for the RM500 on broadband services. Now, I pledge to BLOG more frequently and TWEET at every minute that I can. If Streamyx continues with their crap service, I will 'SUNAT' them off with P1 Wimax ("1" again?). Their "You CUT already ar?", struck me in amusement.

I am INTIMIDATED these days with the lack of security. Crimes are similar to a full time job, especially so with the many permanent residencies approved for the 'boat arrivals' at our borders. The budget has allocated a BILLION ringgit for the police coffers.

I am IMPRESSED with our ROBOCOP, he mentioned today in the Star; that he is going on a spending spree to purchase more police vehicles, to combat crime besides ensuring that crime rates will be reduced. Mr. RoboCop, allow me to demonstrate to you:

As a proud Malaysian, we now have this:







While 'shopping' please be bold in your spending. But, spend wisely ok? Buy something that is reliable, fast and furious. While you boys are at it, please SCRAP THIS BLARDY METAL.








It may help improve the economy with the price of steel rising.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tell Tale Signs

Dear Friends,

While reading the newspapers these few weeks, I have concluded that there are more BAD than good news daily. In today's Star headlines, a 'Millionaire' Director of a government agency was arrested for accepting a bribe of more than a hundred thousand ringgit. The trial of the death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock took a new twist; now there is a 80% chance the death could be classified homicide instead of suicide. With the ongoing MCA crisis, President OTK is feeling 'hurt' that his once comrades had now turn their backs on him. The recent strong Padang earthquake has caused mass destruction killing at least a thousand people.

A tell-tale is a sign that clearly signals that something is true or is about to happen. The BIBLE affirms that wars, food shortages, earthquakes, hatred, crime, a lack of love, would all be markings of the time of the end. Are these TELL TALE SIGNS of the end times in comparison to the above headlines?

With age catching up, I respond to the slightest tell tale sign. Call me a hypochondriac if you want. I was at lunch today and for no obvious reason, I felt like blacking out. Could it be the weather, hunger, the 'teh-see' that I drank? I don't know. I am always 'over-reacting' because I had scores of friends who have DIED from various causes. Chris Oh was 44 years old and died in his sleep due to heart failure. Another friend was Ace. We had dinner a night before his death and he was only 29 years old. In my previous 'Scarlet Sheets' blog posting; my gym friend Sam, died cycling next to me in a group exercise class and he was only 47 years old, also due to heart failure.

Back in the year 2000, I was managing a business as a co-partner. It was an Italian restaurant and a bistroteque in Melaka. Food and drinks were in abundance. The hours were long and the daily lifestyle of wining and dining took a TOLL on me. I could still connect with that evening; I had dinner with a friend, DSP Baldev Singh from the district Police. We also had the friendly 'Johnnie Walker' for company. Baldev was alone on secondment in Melaka while his family was in Johor. It was similar in my case with my family in KL. We were accompanying buddies by default. Going into the night with our conversation, I suddenly felt that I had breathing difficulties. There was a tingling feeling from my ankles, later gripping my knees and tightening up at my thighs. My feet became WOBBLY, I felt nausea and I let off a scream amidst Kenny G's Song Bird, saxophonist Din was serenading. Baldev a trained policeman wasted no time and with the help of my staff assisted me to his official vehicle (my first time in a police car with sirens blaring :D) to be sent to the medical center. The feeling was horrendous. I buckled under to a panic attack because I thought it was a heart FAILURE. At Accidents and Emergencies, I was wheel chaired and they hurriedly took my pulse and blood pressure readings. It was a 170/115, remembering vaguely now. Nearly a stroke, I think. They vaccinated me with muscle relaxant and the numbness eased. The attending doctor recommended that I take various tests the following morning. That night, I had my blood pressure monitored every hour by the nurse and I was wondering if it was a tell tale sign. Morning came; I did the ECG, heart scan and some other tests. I met with the cardiologist and he was DUMB STRUCKED that they could not diagnose a cause to my admission. Despite some high readings, there was nothing abnormal. I was discharged after being given a clean bill of health. What actually happened? Clueless.
Since then, it is approaching ten years now. What were the TELL TALE SIGNS telling me then? Was it stress or was it over exhaustion? Was it loneliness or was it sacrifice chasing after my entrepreneurial dreams? CLUELESS again. I guess the body always has a way of telling us enough is enough. There is only so much a worn out body can take. Our human problem is we tend to think that we are smarter than our CREATOR, when we choose to ignore the signs.

My last medical check up in August was reassuring. My heart is strong and I EXCELLED in the stress test. My lungs are at its optimum coupled with a very positive 120/80 blood pressure. Since then, I told myself to be forever GRATEFUL, to APPRECIATE life and to live it HAPPILY. My three times a week to the gym; exercising and releasing endorphins accelerates this happy process.

Please remember to be MINDFUL of how much our body can take. Every part of our body has an 'expiry date'. The more we use it, the earlier it will 'EXPIRE'. Now, when did I lose my virginity?

I came across this video recently. Is this really the end times? Now, you INTERPRET the tell tale signs.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Jekyll & Hyde

Dear Friends,

Today is DIWALI, the Festival of Lights celebrated by Hindus around the world. I woke up today thinking of my Indian friends both celebrating near and far. One of them that came to mind was my ex-hotel General Manager whom I worked with in the late eighties. He is Mr. NSP. We shall call him 'Jekyll'. He is an Indian national who has now recognized Malaysia as home. Jekyll was every hotel owner's dream. He produced the numbers, turned around difficult situations and was every customers' gem.

Situations that I remember of Jekyll:

BEFORE -Dining period at the Swiss restaurant. He was on his rounds and came across a discontented guest. The subject was concerning a bread roll that was too hard to be consumed. He immediately asked the Maitre D' to mobilize the Pastry Chef while he was making small talk with the guest. Before the Chef could even make it to the table, Jekyll FLUNG the roll towards the Chef in the presence of the other guests and cautioned him; "Never-Ever!! serve this piece of shit to any of my guest again" - word for word.
AFTER - He would then move along to the 'back of the house' with the Chef and with EMPATHY apologizing profusely hoping that he didn't hurt him.

BEFORE - As a young Sales Executive, I used to be TERRIFIED by Jekyll. Our work stations were located almost fronting the General Manager's office. 'Judgement Time' was 9.30am SHARP. We needed to exit the office for the marketplace or be exited. I recall that I was caught on the telephone with a client (there were no mobilephones then, sales people carried pagers). Five minutes after 'Judgement Time', I had Jekyll standing in front of his door and screaming at me; "F**k Off, F**k Off, F**k Off!!" Not realising that my brief case was still open, I grabbed it and it further delayed my exit, with all my sales documents sprawled on the floor.
AFTER - He would then approach me while I am 'shitting bricks' with empathy and apologizing repeatedly hoping that he didn't scare me.

I remember of another person today. Let's just call this person Hyde. A person with terrible mood swings. The swings are mostly severe, long lasting and hinders the person’s ability to function normally. This person suffering from this condition, however, would feel intensely elated, energetic, and irritable at most times and then experience painful sadness, negative thinking, and complete indifference.

Similarities on Jeckyll and Hyde? People like that are not in control of their EMOTIONS and their rapid mood change. There could also be complementing indifferent disorders like stealing, perpetual lying and yet they do not realise. Situations as these are called 'BIPOLAR'. My interest in this subject arose when I came across these videos recently, with the spate concerning Ex- Miss Singapore, Ris Low. She is a Bipolar sufferer which has resulted in her losing her crown.

Today is Diwali. It is a celebration of the VICTORY of good over evil; the uplifting of spiritual darkness. I pray that sufferers of this disorder with medication and support would be victorious. During this festival, some empathy on people that we know are Bipolar would be good. Check this blog on empathy, "Have A Meaningful Deepavali" by my friend Anas Zubedy.

To Mr. NSP, you are probably in your seventies now. Despite your stern leadership and erratic mood swings, I have learnt a lot about hotel success from you. I have always thought of you as the 'Last Escaped MAHARAJA' that arrived our shores. To 'HYDE', I wish you well. To my other Indian friends, "HAPPY DIWALI AND MAY YOUR HOUSEHOLD BE BLESSED".

By the way, my current hotel CHIEF, is a Frenchman. He has also started blogging his thoughts and I liked his recent insertion on 'The Law of the Garbage Trucks', which somehow adds value to this posting.

It was said, "So.. LOVE the people who treat you right. FORGET about the ones who don't. BELIEVE that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance , TAKE IT! If it changes your life , LET IT! Nobody said it would be easy".

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Laughter - The Best Medicine

Dear Friends,

'DOCTORS' don't like me very much and that is because I hardly allow them to prosper from me.

I rarely fall ill and if I do, I self medicate. 'Polaramine' for colds, 'Lozenges' for sore throats, 'Xelox' for gastric and 'Paracetamol' for fevers. If I ever need to visit a clinic, I must be in pretty bad shape. I contracted a cold last Thursday and I obviously self medicated. By Friday morning, my nose was running the marathon. Sunday came and I felt hoarse with a bad throat. Lozenges didn't help and I was stubbornly at work yesterday. With the blaring aircondition at my workplace, I knew shit has hit the ceiling.

Reluctantly, I had to go see a doctor. I arrived the clinic at about 4PM and waited. I was dazed and started to lose patience. I asked the nurse why the wait. I was told, "Doktor belum sampai", literally translated as the Doctor has not arrived. WHAT THE GOONIEGOOGOOS?!!
I was fortunate that I was no accident victim or I would have died from profused bleeding.

After a while, a 'witchy' looking Indian lady, probably retired from government service a decade ago walked in. She donned her white coat, took her time releasing herself in the backroom, washed her hands, went in her consultation room and rang a bell. My name was called and I entered.

The same customary questions on what was 'irritating' me that I was at her clinic. I was allured to say, "Besides the throat and my lungs wanting to pop out, it is your LACKADAISICAL attitude in treating sick patients like me!" Clearly remembering that I am a sick man, I applied tolerance. She further said, "You also have a temperature, 37.8 C which means you are having fever". That was probably because I was furious of the service. Being sick, I know that I do not enjoy the prerogative of losing my temper and forgetting my manners. She then asked me, "Are you working today?" I said yes. She was so 'sympathetic' and replied, "Okay, I will give you HALF DAY MC today so you can rest". I was like, 'WHAT THE GOONIEGOOGOOS?' again; it was already four plus in the evening and the day was coming to an end. No MC tomorrow? I am home today recovering from my atrocious body aches, a subsiding fever but I am still coughing my lungs out. The dreadful part is, I am recovering not with an official 'sick leave' but personal annual leave. I must thank the Doctor for her HALF 'GENEROSITY'.
As I was reading the papers today, I came across my favorite 'Doctor'. He is Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. At his age, he is still looking healthy despite his heart bypass history. This old man is still so vocal when it comes to matters of his heart. He was still at it during the recent Bagan Pinang by-elections, UMNO and other national matters. There are still many nagging issues where he is concerned about even though he is now just a commoner. In the article he expressed, "Speaking out is not something I enjoy doing. It is something I must do. If everything is fine, I don't think there is a need for me to OPEN MY MOUTH". My true Statesman :)

During the interview with the journalist, Dr. Mahathir signalled that it was time for his lunch. A HEALTHY spread of curry chicken, stir-fried french beans, salted fish, green salad and rice. It was also known that Dr. Mahathir was specific about not being photographed during his meals when he was the Prime Minister.

Dr. Mahathir does not mind opening his mouth to speak out but he dislikes being photographed with his MOUTH OPEN.



Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sounds of Music

Dear Friends,

As the Swedish band, ABBA would sing in the seventies, "THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC, THE SONGS I AM SINGING".

I have always been passionate about music and regretted that I was not given the chance to learn it during my childhood. Hempen growing up years, I had to just contend with tuition as 'extra curricular' at that time. When I grew up and with assurance,I would put myself through music classes. As my maxim goes, the spirit was willing but the head was not. It was because I am always 'So Busy' that I 'assured' myself that I DO NOT HAVE THE TIME.

If only we have more than 24 hours in a day, many would say. Apart from the eight hours of sleeping time, are we really exploiting the remaining 16 hours of our awaken time? Are we really busy or do we think we are busy doing the wrong things? We tend to flow with the rat race motion that we have forgotten to value LIFE.

Recently, I came across a TRUE STORY.

This happened in Washington DC's Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approximately two thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes, a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 Minutes Later:
The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw the money in the hat and without stopping, continued to walk.

6 Minutes Later:
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 Minutes Later:
A three year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent without exception forced their children to move on quickly.

45 Minutes Later:
The musician played continuously. Only six people stopped and listened for a short while. About twenty gave a tip but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32 dollars.

An Hour Later:
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was JOSHUA BELL, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell had a sold out theater in Boston, where the seats averaged a hundred bucks.
This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about PERCEPTION, TASTE and PEOPLE'S PRIORITIES.
The questions raised is this. In a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we PERCEIVE beauty? Do we stop to APPRECIATE it? Do we RECOGNIZE talent in an unexpected context? One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this; If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made; How many other things are we MISSING in life?

Not wanting a repetition of history , my junior is able to play the piano and my princess both the piano and the violin. May I suggest you take some time today to breathe, to smell the flowers and to appreciate a loved one.

And me; NO, I CAN'T PLAY THE VIOLIN. Maybe, a Joshua Bell wannabe?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Eighth Day of October

Dear Friends,

I acquired a real taste for Indonesian cuisine when I was living in Jakarta. In particular, 'NASI PADANG'. My personal favorites were their 'Cabe Ijao' (Green Chilli), 'Sop Buntut' (Oxtail Soup), 'Perkedel' (Potato Patty), 'Ayam Goreng Kalasan' (Fried Chicken) just to name a few. To top it off, I will savour the 'Jus Alpukat' (Avocado Juice with Chocolate Syrup). Nasi Padang is the epitome of Minangkabau cuisine with no less than 20 dishes being offered and served with white rice. The Nasi Padang moniker actually pays tribute to the origin of the food; whereby Padang is in fact a city in West Sumatra of Indonesia.
Last week 30th September, while I was practicing some dance moves to a hip-hop number, I could suddenly hear a Carole King's rendition of "I feel the earth move under my feet, I feel the sky tumbling down". Only to realise later, Padang in West Sumatra was hit by a huge earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale. Almost immediately, Malaysian relief teams sprung into action. MERCY MALAYSIA sent a surgical and a medical team to treat the earthquake victims, the SMART team was sent to assist in searching for victims and survivors."TOMORROW IS THE EIGHTH DAY OF OCTOBER".
I envision all Air Asia flights into the LCCT from Indonesia will experience full load factors. Why? It is 'GANYANG* MALAYSIA' (Crush*) invasion day. A self vigilante group calling itself 'Bendera' is planning to attack my beloved homeland with sharpened bamboo sticks. I don't know whether should I laugh or cry, should I flee or fear? This is the same group of fellas which set roadblocks in Jakarta some weeks back SWEEPING out Malaysians.

"WHY SO RADICAL-LAH?" You said we stole your folk songs and dances, you said we abused your maids, you said we exported terrorists to you. Please don't forget that we are 'SERUMPUN'. You eat rice, we eat rice; you eat 'Ayam Goreng', we also eat 'Ayam Goreng'. Folk songs like 'Rasa Sayang' and 'Burung Kakak Tua' ; "WE SHARE SHARE - LAH'".
Your country has 'GEMPA' (earthquake), ours do not. Yet, we were compassionate. We sent teams to help in your disasters. Plane loads of food and supplies were sent but yet you said that we sent you expired items. We have also spearheaded donation drives for cash to be dispersed to your country for rebuilding. If this is not help, what is?

"WE GIVE AND TAKE-LAH". You have almost 1.5 million of your citizens 'Cari Makan' in my beloved homeland. Some have stayed here long enough that they have been given permanent residency. You don't 'Salah' you know, I am talking about your construction workers. Year on year, we have many foreign applicants for residency; many of them foreign doctors, engineers and professionals. But, yet 'we feel' your construction citizens deserve them more. It still puzzles me.

My family had Bak Mira, Bak Soli, Bak Uhn, Bak Kampi and many that I now can't remember worked for us. We cared for them, fed them well and treated them like family. We also came across one of them, taking our belongings without permission and keeping it in her bag. I think that is called stealing. I was taught from young that I must FORGIVE & FORGET. Bak Kampi was best of them all; after returning to Indonesia, she sent us a picture of her all 'dolled up' resembling a 'Datin'. She was standing in front of her newly built house with money she earned here. She repeatedly, 'TERIMAKASIH PAK' in her letter to us. We were happy for her.

I really pray that the 'warning' issued to us was just for funs. Both our countries have come a long way. A little GIVE & TAKE and FORGIVE & FORGET would do the trick. Let us loosen up a little. Geographically, we have no choice but to be neighbours.

"TOMORROW IS THE EIGHTH DAY OF OCTOBER", I hope to wake up and know that the sun will still rise from the East. I am planning to have my 'Nasi Padang' for lunch at Sari Ratu with my favorite 'Teh Botol'. So, please - please do not ruin my plans tomorrow.

If you are still really at it, I hope you will at least specify the time you are planning to invade; since I will be quite busy tomorrow.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

And The Power Goes To...

Dear Friends,

The Miss World Malaysia pageant is the most prestigious and glamorous event staged annually in the country. A worthy candidate is selected each year to represent Malaysia at various international platforms. Adopting the motto of “BEAUTY WITH A PURPOSE”, the Miss World Malaysia pageant has contributed and assisted in raising over RM10 million for various charity organisations across the country. In line with the motto, the pageant strives to make the country a better place.


THANUJA ANANTHAN, 23 years old
Hobbies:Reading, yoga, swimming, pet enthusiast
Long-term Ambition:To be a Criminal lawyer

STEFANIE CHUA, 21 years old
Hobbies:Playing tennis, swimming, playing piano
Long-term Ambition:To be a successful Businesswoman

CHRISTY YEOH, 23 years old
PR Executive / Musician
Weight:52 Vitals:34-25-36
Hobbies:Music, photography, reading, movies
Long-term Ambition:To be an Ambassador of orphanages as well as a photojournalist


'X' Factor or 'X'-treme Factor?

Dear Friends,

The pre-judging for the Miss World Malaysia 2009 pageant took place on Thursday. It was so cool to meet Jaslene Gonzalez, the winner of AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL, Season 8. Strutting down the runways in New York City, she is in town to execute photo shoots and casting. Capitalising on the situation, Models.Com invited her to be part of this years' pageant judging panel.
In the panel, there were eight of us. Apart from Jaselyn and yours truly, the others were Pietro Felix who host the 'Morning Show' on MIX FM, Engku Emran - Chief Operating Officer of Suria FM (also husband of actress, Erra Fazira), Rubin Khoo - Editor from August Man, TV personality - Joanne Rozario and Miko Au - founder of Salon Espirit.

We were given a judging synopsis by Amin Hussein; the Executive Producer of Miss World Malaysia, also General Manager of Beyond Events. Our assignment was complex; to identify a winner from this pool of nineteen finalists. The girls will take on the panel individually; as they enter the room they will remove their robes and catwalk in their bikini. It was quite a DISTRACTING moment. They will then be seated in front of the panel. They are then given two minutes to convince the panel on why they should be our next Miss World Malaysia. Upon completing their 'hard sell', the panel will then field questions which will ascertain their spontaneity, knowledge and communication skills.

I took the role of 'Simon Cowell' being the intelligent nasty one. Most of the girls had their introduction so well rehearsed that it sounded politically correct and 'plastic'. There was one particular finalist who was trying to impress with a 'twang' that got her sounding neither Australian nor American. She was asked why she spoke in that manner. She said that it was required to, if she wanted to sound 'internationally' professional and not too Malaysian. All of us in the panel were like, "What??" But she 'swore' that she was proud to be Malaysian.

Finalist: "If I win the crown and represent Malaysia, I will promote our food, culture and the '1 Malaysia' concept in South Africa".
Judge: "Name me three Malaysian Cabinet Ministers and their portfolios"
Finalist: "Errr...Ahhh...Sorry, I don't know"

Judge: "I say you are young, you are not ready and you are not what we are looking for. What do you say to that?"
Finalist: "Huh, really ah? PLEASE LAH, I really want to win this"

The youngest finalist was 19 and the oldest 24. Most of them had really good intentions to win. So much so, that they have forgotten to be human. Most of them made over a SUPERFICIAL persona of a beauty queen for themselves.

I liked Stefanie Chua . Despite being only 21, she carried herself confidently, she is elegant and she is poised. During the 'Question & Answer' session, I asked her what was her take on the recent controversy surrounding ex-Miss Singapore, Ris Low. She was composed in her answer and she was convincing. Okay, she had a 'melting' smile too :) *Pictured below
I also liked Renee Erin from Melaka. She had the most natural answers and she has personality. I could feel her genuine in her spirit.

Thanuja Ananthan was really confident despite reassuring the panel that she was nervous a few times. Who wouldn't be with a panel of eight? Before the pre-judging, I had the opportunity to speak with Tiong Su Lynn whom I found knowledgeable and friendly. She is a FOOD BLOGGER and also write food reviews in a local daily. I also liked Christy Yeoh whom I found sincere and real.

Being a pageant judge for a competition of this stature is no easy task. I had the responsibility of selecting a REAL WINNER to represent this land in South Africa. I constantly reminded myself that our Miss World Malaysia must stand out, she must stand tall and she must be intelligent.

One thing is for sure, I could not locate the 'X-FACTOR', not in anyone of them.