Becoming rich and famous the billionaires' way

We all have dreams of striking it rich and becoming an overnight millionaire to join the ranks of the Nouveau Riche (that's French for 'New rich') since most of us do not have the luxury of inheriting millions from our family fortune.

However, we can always take a leaf from the experiences of billionaires who have time after time add on to their fortunes faster than you could pronounce the words Nouveau Riche! There are, in fact, a lot of self-made millionaires and billionaires who came into their own wealth due to their entrepreneurship and very wise investing.

One of the world's top ranking billionaires, Tsai Wan-Lin is a really good example of the Nouveau Riche because he started life as a poor rice farmer's son in Taiwan. However, this enterprising and determined man turned his life around by selling insurance. He founded Cathay Life Insurance and has since stepped down for his son to take over. This humble man also lived simply and is very publicity shy despite his billions.

Another self-made billionaire we all know is, of course, William Gates III, or more commonly known as Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft. He is proof that you can be a Harvard dropout and still become a billionaire, as long as you persistently fight to achieve your dreams.

So, if you plan to join the list of billionaires of the world, start reaching out to your dreams now and be persistent. Just remember to also use some wisdom and learn to be humble because it is in humbleness that we learn.

Breastfeeding versus formula milk

When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I made a lot of research into breastfeeding and the benefits of breast milk. I have long made up my mind that I will give my child breast milk and nothing else until he starts on solids at six months old.

However, the journey to breastfeeding is not easy. It is filled with obstacles and a lot of negativity from people who do not understand my conviction that breast milk the best for baby. They have been bought over by all those advertisements on milk powder boasting of this nutrient or that nutrient.

What most people do not know is that breast milk is nature's complete and perfect food for baby. It is the benchmark used by milk powder companies. Why else the claims 'As good as breast milk' or 'As nutritious as breast milk' or even 'almost like breast milk'? If infant formula are really so good why does it even need to promote itself as almost on par with breast milk?

Well, August is just a few days away and the first week is World Breastfeeding Week, thus this post.

To those in Penang, especially new mothers struggling to breastfeed their babies against all negativity and lack of support, there's a Mother Support breastfeeding campaign at the City Bayview Hotel on Aug 2.

For more details of the event, call Deborah at 017-4259378 or Dr Balkees at 012-4551551.


Watch them in action LIVE

To those of you who have never even been to the Penang state assembly before, well, you don't have to go there to watch our elected leaders slinging insults..err...approving policies and acts and whateveritistheydothere live over the internet!

From this year onwards, the Penang state assembly is definitely going to be fun, fun and more fun!


Simple. It is now full of the DAP and PKR fellas instead of only the BN fellas with one DAP and one PAS fella to provide the check and balance needed to keep the state government in check.

Yep, it is now the DAP and PKR against the Umnos. Too bad, no Gerakan or MCA or MIC fellas will be in there since all of them got 'kicked' out by Penangites on March 8.

It will be a great show this Monday to see how the Umnos are at being the Opposition while at the same time, it will be 'showtime' for the DAP and PKR fellas to prove how good they are at policy making.

I remember in previous sessions, Phee Boon Poh the Sungai Puyu assemblyman was the sole DAP representative who stood up and argued with the BN fellas. It was indeed a losing battle because there is only so much that one man can do. However, credit do go to him for being darn persistent!

So, now, we will see how Azhar Ibrahim (the guy who insisted that ALL mega projects in Penang be cancelled and the guy who organised the street demonstration in Komtar) fare as the Opposition considering how brainless he and his gang of buffoons are...

Oh well, if you intend to watch it live, go here or here from 10am onwards on Monday.

Enjoy the show!

All work and no play....

One of my most favourite homeworks during my schooldays was essay writing because it does not involve any calculations and well, I can just use my imagination and write anything I want and still get marks from it.

No guesses why I am now a blogger, huh?

Of course, it was not always like that. At one point, especially in college, I find that it takes up too much time to be producing writing assignments while still enjoying some ME time...after all, college is all about finding myself, right?

I remember being made to write a summary essay on a thick boring book and I was struggling like mad over the whole thing. In the end, I did a thoroughly lousy job and got really lousy marks for it. I darn well deserved that since I was too occupied with..err..other diversions to be concentrating on a summary essay.

And then, can you just imagine the amount of time is wasted on writing assignments? Just think, there you are, with a hot date lined up and several parties to go to over the weekend and you have an essay on Shakespeare to complete. That sure does cramp your time a bit...Shakespeare is definitely not an easy subject to be writing about, I can tell you.

Luckily in this age and time, students writing essays on their own at all odd hours of the day to make the deadline is a thing of the past. There are plenty of writing services available on the internet and all you need to do is to hire someone to do the work for you in as fast as 6 hours' time!

Amazing, isn't it? For a small sum of moolah and you could go party all night through and have someone do your homework for you. And it is done professionally too. You can do a google search or even check out Custom Writing which offers rather great writing services.


Do we need so many commercial complexes?

I feel that there are just too many commercial complexes coming up all over the island recently. Okay, just look at the existing shopping and commercial complexes:

1. Island Plaza in Tanjung Tokong - it is pretty much a dying place with most of the shops closing down and moving out. Having Metrojaya there did not really help it much. It was destined to suffer this setback the moment Gurney Plaza opened years ago. Right opposite it is a huge commercial complex which is also turning out to be quite a failure. Many of the shoplots are vacant and only those on the ground floor are occupied. Even the hawker centre within it are barely surviving.

2. Gurney Plaza - it is now expanding in preparation for the fierce competition it may face from the soon-to-be-opened Penang Times Square complex. It is fortunate that it is still pretty much packed on weekends and public holidays.

3. Midlands Park, One Stop Centre - This is another dying behemoth. It is destined to be a white elephant soon because many shops have closed down and those few that are left are practically struggling to survive. The only shops with brisk business are the DVD / VCD shops on the ground level.

4. Penang Plaza (Fima) - Now, this plaza only has Giant to keep it alive or else it would probably end up abandoned like the white elephant it is soon to become. About 70% of the shops on the upper levels are all vacant.

5. Komtar - although they are upgrading this grand old lady of Penang, it is pretty much a very dark and dinky place. Much more like a covered bazaar than anything else. I wouldn't want to walk the empty corridors even in broad daylight. There are way too many suspicious characters hanging around those dark, secluded corners. The Penang state government has plans to revive it and I am waiting to see what they could do.

6. Prangin Mall - it is like the Sungai Wang Plaza of Penang and although most of the shoplots are occupied, it is also a fire trap with most of the shops placing their wares along the corridors and walkways, obstructing the way. As for the tech section near Parkson, it is like a dead town there. Many shops have closed and only a few strong ones remained.

7. Gama - this is a very old supermarket that has been around for decades. Though old, it is still enjoying brisk business and has sales all the time to draw in shoppers.

8. Sunshine Farlim - this is a hypermarket selling mostly groceries so it does not really qualify as a shopping complex and yes, business is still quite brisk there.

9. Bukit Jambul complex - this is another soon to be white elephant. There is an ongoing legal battle or something between shop owners and management or something. And also, many shops are closing down. And it is pretty much run down.

10. Sunshine Square - it is a departmental store under the same group as Sunshine Farlim and though business is slower it is not dying yet.

11. Queensbay Mall - the newest shopping complex in town and the largest in the state for now. It is so new that many of its shoplots are still vacant. However, it is one of the latest 'in' place to be until a new mall opens up.

Commercial complexes / office lots:

12. Wisma Central along Macalister Road - it is practically a white elephant with only a few shops left open.

13. Axis Plazone in Pulau Tikus - another white elephant in the making. It currently has the Bandar Baru supermarket on the ground floor to keep it alive.

14. Bangunan KWSP - although newly built, most of its office lots are still vacant.

15. Bangunan Umno (along Macalister Road) - the shiny blue building is also soon to be another white elephant as it also has a lot of vacant lots within.

There are actually plenty more office buildings and commercial complexes all over the island and most of it are not even fully occupied. There are so many I actually lost count!

The worst of all is that residential houses are being turned into shops while there are so many of such complexes with plenty vacant lots. AND more are being built even as I type up this list.

Every single new development coming up on the island has a commercial complex or an office building or retail lots. It is all very well and good if ALL those buildings I mentioned above are filled and above their capacity.

However, that is not the case at all. There are plenty of vacant units in the older buildings and some new ones too and now, they are building even more. Shouldn't something be done about those older buildings first before the government approve more commercial complexes?

Seriously. I remember some DAP fella would point at some decrepit building or other (in the newspapers) and declare that the state government should do something about those white elephants in the past.

So, now, my question is, will the DAP-PKR state government do what they preach?


Bored with nothing to do?

Here are some events happening over the weekend for you to spend your time constructively:

For Single Mothers

What : Free handicraft / sewing lessons by the Women's Centre for Change

Where: Surau Al-Islah, near Botanic Gardens

When: Saturday, 10am - 12.30pm (also available on Aug 9 & 16)

Call: 04-2280342.

For Everyone

What : Charity Jumble Sale by Penang YMCA Deaf Club

Where: YMCA Courtyard, 211 Macalister Road

When: Sunday, 10am - 4pm.

Call: Rahela at 04-2298276 / 04-2288211

What: Bon Odori Festival

Where: Esplanade

When: Saturday, 6pm - midnight

What: USM Astronomy Convention & Expo 2008 - “Astronomy and Space - Open Your Heart”

Where: USM’s main examination hall and Padang Kawad

When: Friday to Sunday

Call: Dr Chong Hon Yew at 016-3157318

For mental patients caregivers and family

What: National Family Link education programme by D'Home Mental Health Association

Where: D'Home Premises, 11A-6-5, New Bob Place, Jalan Gottlieb

When: Saturday, 10am - 3pm

Call: 04-2291111

For the artsy people

What: A Poetry Exhibition by Marzuki Ali

Where: The Muzium & Galeri Tuanku Fauziah, USM

When: Now till Sept 15, 9am-6pm. Closed on Mondays and public holidays.

Call: 04-6533888 ext 3261

What: Budding Artists exhibition

Where: @ The Sun at Sun Yat-Sen Centre, 65, Macalister Road

When: Now till July 26

Call: 04-2265181

What: The Sketch Artist solo art exhibition by Ng Bee

Where: Galeri Seni Mutiara, 118, Armenian Street

When: Now till Sunday (July 20), 11am to 6pm.

Call: 04-2620167


Time for state government to start WORK

They are new at governing a state, that I know.

They are still grappling with the heavy responsibility of running a state. That also I know.

Most of the state executive councillors are new and one or two barely held any positions within their party, DAP and PKR. So, they are mostly inexperienced and are pretty much like lost kittens mewling and bewildered.

However, it is now July. It has been four months. True, four months is not enough time for them to be experts at running the Penang state government but it is enough time for them to know their facts, to at least have an inkling of what their responsibilities are now.

It is also enough time for them to LEAVE behind this 'BLAMING' mindset. Why do I say this? Well, they have been blaming the federal government this and that. And before this, they are blaming the previous administration for this and that.

My opinion is: GET OVER IT already.

So, the previous state government screwed up. They squandered state funds (allegedly). They drive investors away (allegedly). They sanctioned land scams (allegedly). We all heard and read about it all the time in the news. Heck, we stay in Penang, we blardy well know what the previous state government did or did not do. So, stop this finger pointing already.

And yes, the federal government is holding out. They have stopped the mega projects. Boo-hoo. Bawl all you want but the federal government is not going to pander to your every whim and fancy. So, blardy hell stop wasting so much time bawling and blaming and demanding for just treatment when you blardy well know it is not forthcoming.

Why don't you start acting on your own? Why not make your own decisions now? There are still things that you could control and have jurisdiction over. Like what Phua Chu Kang always likes to say,

"Use your brain!"

Is that so hard? So, no monorail project. Can't you find other alternatives? Why not get corporates to propose other ideas with corporate sponsorship thrown in? Better still, why not just do away with the monorail and concentrate on providing a complete network of public bus covering every possible area and then supplement that with taxis by getting the taxi drivers' cooperation.

Also, what the heck is the state government doing about those rogue taxi drivers who insist of cutting the throat of passengers? They still do not use the meter. And what is the state government doing about it? Yes, I know, you are putting the onus on CVLB again to take action.

So, are you saying there is nothing the state government could do about it?

Seriously. Stop pushing the buck around. Stop finger pointing. And most importantly, STOP going down the same path as the previous state government of pushing things around and not getting anything done.

Time to act. So, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, my call to you is to get your excos to start solving problems and change this 'Opposition' mentality of blaming everything on Barisan Nasional. DAP and PKR was not voted into power in Penang merely to blame others but to turn the state around.

So, please, just fulfill your promises and forget about finger pointing. Really.


Penang Bon Odori Festival

The annual Japanese festival featuring Japanese music and dances, Japanese food and fireworks will be held on July 19.

From my previous years' experience, it was really fun and a really great place to spend a Saturday evening. It is free to enjoy the performances on stage and although the food being sold are quite expensive, there are a lot of varieties and if you love Japanese food, all the more better!

Also, do remember to bring an umbrella and raincoat because it is bound to rain as it did EVERY year. Trust me. And don't wear high heels, unless you want to sink into muddy grounds. Wear something that you can tramp over muddy wet grounds easily.

Here are the details:

What: Bon Odori Festival

Where: Esplanade

When: July 19, Saturday, 6pm - midnight

Fireworks is set to be lighting up the skies at 8pm so go early.

So, enjoy!


Penang Hill funicular train service temporarily stopped

(Picture borrowed from Keny Neo Penang Travel Page)

If you plan to go up to Penang Hill for some cool respite, think again because the funicular train service has stopped taking tourists up in the past few weeks.

There was some problems or faults with the cables and despite numerous repair works over the past months, similar problems kept cropping up, thus causing frequent service interruptions. So, in the most recent problem, they decided to just shut the whole thing and stop taking tourists up that way rather than leaving tourists stranded for hours.

However, residents still get to take the train up midway if they do not stay higher up. Those living further up would need to take a jeep up all the way. It seems that the state government is really at a loss over what to do to solve this problem.

The federal government had promised RM40mil to upgrade the whole funicular train service and guess what? Yep, the project has been 'deferred'. Apparently, this project is also not people-centric enough.

I guess cutting off tourists from one the major tourist sites in Penang will not affect Penangites that much. I mean, after all, Penang Hill is only one of Penang's major landmark. It is nothing. Tourists do not need to go up. And the funicular trains. Those are also another of Penang's landmark. Nothing great. Not important at all. Tourists do not even bother going there anymore. (sarcasm, people, sarcasm...)

Is it me or do I feel that the federal government has already started 'marginalising' Penang just because it is now under an Opposition government?

First they 'postponed' the Penang Outer Ring Road and Monorail projects and then this upgrading project too. Okay, so, I fully agree that PORR should be scrapped. But we do need an integrated public transportation system that THEY, BARISAN NASIONAL, HAD BLARDY PROMISED before the general elections.

This goes to show that the BN government NEVER EVER keep their promises, huh?

Anyway, blame and finger pointing aside, what is the state government doing about this? Well, it seems that they are still stuck in their Opposition party mindset. They are pointing fingers at the federal government for canceling, errr postponing, the projects.

Yeah, sure. We ALL know what the federal government did but what ARE you going to do? What is the DAP-PKR state government going to do about it?

I mean other than pointing fingers and blaming the federal government and urging the federal government to fulfill their promises. Heck, we ALL know the federal government couldn't care less about what the Opposition state government has to say or urge, right?

I think it is REALLY time that the DAP-PKR state government start thinking about solutions and solving problems like putting in place an integrated public transportation system and a way to replace the cables or upgrade the funicular train service FAST.

After all, George Town is now one of Unesco's World Heritage Sites. Soon, we will be having droves of tourists and it won't do that they find that they could not go up to one of the main landmarks in Penang that is, Penang Hill. Also, how are they going to get around the heritage city of George Town if the public transportation system is in a shamble?

It is just so wrong. So, to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, I think it is time that you stop pointing fingers and start working on solutions. Preferably NOW. And please, DON'T place any bets on help from the federal government because NONE is forthcoming.


Penang Matta Fair this weekend

If you are looking for special travel deals and 'cheap' travel packages, the Penang Matta fair is here this weekend. The details:

What: Penang Matta Travel Fair

Where: Pisa

When: July 4, 5 & 6

Time: July 4 (5pm - 8pm), July 5 & 6 (10am - 8pm)

A note of warning, not all the deals are really great bargains because I have booked a few packages before and later realised that the rates aren't all that cheap compared to other times. AND they offer really crappy deals too. AND they tend to change the dates of travel or even cancel it if they don't get enough people to go on a certain trip.

Better to go to different tour agencies to check their special promotional rates on times when they are having 'sale' or discounts.

Updates on Penang second bridge

It was all out on today's papers that the Penang second bridge is now even more expensive - RM4.585billion to be exact.

I know many people, including the state government, must be damn sceptical over the progress of the bridge and well, here are some of the facts/ claims I found in the papers by UEM Group (the contractor building the bridge).

  • It's a box-girder bridge - meaning a bridge made of box-girders (read all about box-girder bridge here)
  • It is right on schedule and will be completed by end of 2011
  • Costs - RM4.3bil (construction costs) + RM285million (development costs)
  • Connects Batu Kawan to Batu Maung - approximate 20 minutes drive
  • Length - 24 km of which length over water - 17km
  • Three lanes each side - 2 for cars, 1 for motorcycles (each)
  • Built by UEM and China Harbour.
  • Currently they are still building the casting yard (the factory) that produces the box girders that made up the bridge.
  • Piling works for the bridge is expected to start early next year.
Here are some things not so easily found in the press:

UEM has an agreement with the federal government (for the first Penang bridge which they are the concessionaire and also undertaking the expansion works now) that UEM is entitled compensation in the event of a second bridge being built for possible loss of concessionaire 'income' from toll collections.

UEM is making tonnes from the expansion of the first Penang bridge and now the second bridge.

UEM will be financing RM2.1bil (from the federal government) while China Harbour RM2.2bil of the costs for the bridge. The RM285mil will probably also be taken up by the federal government.

UEM will be in charge of producing the segmental box girders and assemble these while China Harbour will be doing the piling and the foundation.

UEM will tender for the concession of the second bridge and will probably impose a heavy toll like the first bridge.

Penangites are pretty well screwed because it may mean another bridge but toll charges will be cut-throat.