Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Big Yawn ...

Read in the August edition of the Reader’s Digest:

“..... Researchers say our brains burn up to 33% of the calories we consume - and generate heat. Yawning cools brain cells, thus making them more efficient. The researchers also found that yawning increases blood flow and helps maintain optimum levels of functioning. And they suggest we´re biologically hard-wired to yawn to stay alert and protect ourselves from danger...."

The next time you see somebody yawning nonstop in a meeting or a presentation, be rest assured he or she is the most alert one. The one who will take in most if not all what is being discussed or presented.

No wonder I yawn a lot when reading a book. No wonder so many men yawn during khutbah on Fridays . No wonder husbands yawn when the wives pour their hearts out. Come to think of it, men yawn more than women. Now we know why... Men seems to be the more alert species... the more thoughtful...

for better career prospect, next time make sure you yawn a lot in front of your boss. If he asked what is wrong with you, give him a copy of this article. He will definitely appreciate how alert you are and how your brain is functioning at the optimum level..... Guaranteed top management material.... Promotion will follow very very soon....

Monday, July 27, 2009

@$#!&* ....

The clock struck 530pm. Newsreader started the news rolling. This and that. Bla bla bla ....

Out of the blue, Arghhh! I am so gerigitan. Words can´t describe what went through my head. They are at it again. How many times? Will they ever learn? Did anybody tell them? You can call me bibiran on this. I don’t care. Is it just me being so fussy? Nobody else see or hear what I heard and saw? And they announced it to the whole world. Some will say they meant well, they are just doing their work. I am not disputing that. In fact I salute them for all their hard work in keeping our country safe. I really do. Tunjuk langit kind of truth!

But why oh why in the world do they have to say they are undertaking their operations "sempena" or in conjunction with His Majesty´s Birthday? Are they saying more criminal elements appear during this joyful occasion? May be statistics can and will show it is true more crimes do happen. But isn´t that suppose to be the case? Crowds will always attract unsavoury elements. Just like sugar will attract ants. Just like ladies will attract guy´s attention. It´s a fact of life how sad it may sound.

There must be better ways to tell the whole world about what they are doing. Isn´t it better just to say they are doing their duty to keep us safer during this joyous occasion. But definitely and surely not in conjunction! As if it´s part of the official celebration. The last time I checked, I did not recall seeing the operation listed anywhere in the programme book.

I am sorry and sincerely apologised if this seemed to be repeat broadcast of my entry before. Just can´t help it. I am just so gerigitan and geram at the way this piece of news item is being handled again and again. Geram berabis. Some people says KE OTAK....

PS: singing Geram Jangan Engkau Geram as famously sang by Black Dog Bone....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

In a blink....

Time really flies. The week seemed to have gone pass with only a blink of an eye. Sunday to another Sunday to another Sunday here we are almost 70% of the year gone. Wonder how much we have achieved the targets we set at the beginning of the year. 70%? 50%? 30%? Or worse 0%? Are going to quantify it in terms of numbers? Or we do it qualitatively?

Soon, in less than a month will be Ramadhan. The month of ibadat. Month to get in touch with our inner self. Month to do good things good deeds. Well aren´t we suppose to be like that 247 365? (366 in a leap year ....)

Bulan puasa is also famous for being the month of food. All sorts will turn up everywhere. All kind of offers to tempt us. Not just for sungkai and sahur. Catalogues, lists, forms for kek raya flying here and there. All sorts of cakes, kek rolls, biscuits some with strange names like kek lapis Siti Nurhaliza and Dato K as if Siti Nurhaliza can make kek lapis.

As soon as puasa starts, preparation for hari raya will start. Offices having meetings to discuss hari raya celebrations. Shops offering hard to believe sales playing raya songs from day 1 of puasa. Opening hours extended. Midnight crazy sales offered. Shoes walking away. Shirts and pants apart from the size S ones gone. Tailors on 24 hours shift. Sets and sets of new sofas on the road. Crates and crates of soft drinks fronting entrances to shops. Hampers taller than most people who got them walking about. Flowers blooming albeit plastic ones. TVs, large ones appearing in many living rooms. Rolls and rolls of cucul of all sorts of colours and blinks unfurled. Yards and metres of curtain hang. Buckets of paint splattered. New car registrations jumps up. Sounds of air bombs louder by the day. Pawn shops on overtime. Loan sharks having field day. Banks giving out loans in myriad of names but all the same it is still hutang. Credit cards well ironed and swiped with eventual thicker than usual statement waiting.

Off course the ladies started well well in advance. Some as soon as Syawal ends. Or else they will end up with baju raya from the past. That wouldn´t look good in the photo albums. Even more so now in the age of Facebook where old raya albums are uploaded. Guys can get away with it. Baju melayu is still baju melayu. Apart from the odd one or two people with baju melayu bekatok, all look the same. Even for those who favours the handkerchief hanging on the front style. Add to that saloons offering all sorts of treatment. Lose kilos before raya. I bet those kilos are the weight of the dollars we have to pay for it. All sorts of perms. Afro look used to be the hits in raya pasts. Rebonding. You name it. Whatever you want to do with your hair, they will do it. Even for guys. But if you want to do the kojak look, save your money. Don´t go to the saloon. Just go to the Indian barber. $4 and your hair will be gone in a blink! Massage and head slapping thrown in for free!

About the only thing that seems to be in decline is the attendance for terawih as Ramadhan passes by.....

What am I doing talking about puasa and raya? First thing first, we are in Sya´aban. The month for Rasulullah. The month for puasa sunat even if it is only just a day. I won’t go into detail about it. I m no ustaz. Just another guy with "tuhur" level of knowledge in ugama matters. But let’s remind ourselves of Nisfu Sya´aban, the night of 15 Sya’aban. We are encouraged to do sembahyang sunat and recites Surah Yaasiin three times with doa in between. Doa for panjang umur, murah rezeki and ditetapkan iman. Amin ..... Insyallah this year Nisfu Sya’aban will be on the evening of Wednesday 5 August.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Food.. Food... Food

Recently, a friend asked me why I think of food all the time. My reply.. everything we do goes back to food. Food is among the basic things in life. Abraham Maslow, in his hierarchy of needs theory published in 1943, identified food as one of the basic human needs. He categorised food together with water, air, shelter, clothing and few others including sex as "deficiency needs" which if not met, will cause the individual feels anxious and tense.

It is no different here. On average, each household spent almost 30% of its income on food. The biggest portion of spending. Well ahead of other form of spending

Improving quality of life of the people was and still one of the main objectives of this country. Self-sufficiency in food especially rice has became an obsession. Like it or not, as a country, we have to strive for this. Our over reliance on food import is one of our main strategic challenges. It is not impossible to be self sufficient or near to be self sufficient. We have already one success story in the local eggs production which has more or less managed to meet the local demand. Based on Agriculture Department’s statistics, all of use consumed around 123.66 millions of eggs. That’s about 311 eggs per year for each of us, almost one egg a day. Around 123.21 millions of eggs are produced locally. That’s a self-sufficiency rate of 99.6%! I still can recall, clearly, the years where we imported most of our eggs. It will arrive in wooden crates. During weddings, where eggs wrapped in napkin or handkerchief was the common door gifts, we can see these timber crates closely. There were even instances of egg shortages especially during festive seasons. Now we hardly have these shortages.

Compare to other countries, the figure of 311 eggs per year per person is reasonable. In the Philippines, it is around 94, in Thailand 145, Malaysia 305 and in the USA is around 257. We are indeed an egg consuming nation which is good for the agriculture industry. All those kek lapis, kek batik, kueh makmur, biscuits which required trays after trays of eggs especially near to Hari Raya which is just over two months away is definitely welcome.

What! Is Hari Raya that soon? I haven’t bought any kain yet for my baju melayu. Shortly, all the tailors will be fully booked with baju melayu orders. Here I am thinking of hari raya when it’s not even puasa yet. Should be thinking of puasa more , how to improve ibadat etc etc rather than new baju melayus, sinjangs, new sofas etc.

Talking about food and my encounters with food , there are many memorable, wonderful, funny, and delicious stories. I am sure everyone has their own stories. One of my earliest recollections was with kueh malaya. One stall in the old tamu at Padang Besar sold the best, the meanest kueh malaya. A favourite indeed. A relative joked, it was not because the kueh malaya was any good, but the daughter of the owner was pretty! Well, what did a 6 year old know about pretty girl. Not much! So it must be the kueh malaya. Next to be encountered was the talor dadar (egg omelette) taken together with lauk goreng cacah with the Brunei chilli sauce (nowadays it is in the familiar yellow cap to differentiate it with the Singapore ones). The ever favourite is my nini’s fish curry. Out of this world!

Another that stuck in the mind is the kebab in Manchester. Abdul Kebab to be precise. It was so deliciously hot, we were sweating in the middle of winter by the kebab. The briyani was also fingerlickingly delicious. But beware! Consume at the risk of regular trips to the small thinking room more famously known as the toilet. Must be all the spices. The trick was to consume it only when we were safely at home and with no plans to go out after that.

Talking about briyani, more precisely nasi bukhara, we used to bring back boxes and boxes of the supa dupa delicious bukhara from a particular place in Kuala Lumpur. Once we took back more than 10 big boxes, the custom people did not believe us. They thought hidden among the bukharas were some contraband stuff!

Food industry is definitely growing here. Restaurants, cafes, gerais mushrooming everywhere some with catchy names. All sorts of food. Local, ambuyats, western, chinese, indian, french, italian, fast food, slow food and many more including the popular nasi katoks. All the best to them but what’s important, they must be halal and must maintain high standard of hygiene.

PS: Today, passed by a new row of shops and saw a well known food chain in Kuala Lumpur famous for it’s supposed to be secret recipes, opening an outlet here. Good luck to them. Hope they can keep up with the established ones such as CA Mohammad, Chop Jing Chew, Thien Thien..............

Friday, July 17, 2009

Playing Catch Up ...

Finally able to catch up on my readings, especially newspapers, which I had neglected for the past week or so for many reasons. Luckily these are just papers... if not I would have gotten some yellow card for abandoning my duties... worst I can be charged for desertion.

In one article I came across an interesting result from a survey which polled almost 1,000 people across Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. When asked what are the worst attributes of the opposite sex, men think women are materialistic and difficult to please, always dissatisfied and always complaining. The women think men are indecisive and difficult to please, always dissatisfied and always complaining. So what’s new? It took 1,000 people to state the obvious. It took three countries wide survey to confirm that men and women are the same. Both are difficult to please, always dissatisfied and always complaining. Ha ha ha ..... Well, for the single ones, who according to this survey rates finding it hard to meet someone who shares their values or interests as one of the top three reasons to remain single, at least being difficult to please, always dissatisfied and always complaining is a good start to having a common interest. Interest in complaining ha ha ha ... Statistics indeed paint many pictures depending from which angle you see it. This reminded me of a famous quote attributed to one Aaron Levenstein ... “Statistics are like bikinis, what they reveal is suggestive but what they conceal is vital.”

On another note, the new Harry Potter ( I always thought all this while it’s Porter not Potter) movie, the so called Harry Potter 6, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is finally here. Being avid fans and reader of the novel, obviously the kids have been waiting for this. I don’t know much about Harry Potter apart from it spans over seven books which are thick enough to be my paperweight. At least the kids are into reading. That’s what matters. Reading is important. Very important. It keeps the mind, the brain alert. On top of that we can gain something useful such as knowledge. The boss at work has been bugging us, again and again stressing how important reading is. To the extend just read anything, novels, papers, comics, magazines etc. A friend, when asked, what book he is reading now, answers FACEBOOK. Good one!

PS: I am struggling to finish the Jeremy Clarkson series of books. As interesting as the stories are, they are very interesting and very funny, often made me laugh out loud when reading them on the bed at night some may think I am having some sort of extra pleasurable strenuous activities, lately the eyes still manage to shut effortlessly.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Surreal ....

Wowed! Proud! Inspired! Moved! Stirred! Some of the words to describe the reactions to today’s Titah from His Majesty. No need for me to repeat what was said. I am sure all eyes were glued to the TV and all ears tuned to the radio. Some even commented RTB got their biggest ever audience for the 8 o’clock news. It’s the hottest thing in town and will be in the foreseeable future. Some are looking forward to the Titah on 15 July.

In the cyber space, on Facebooks, Twitters, in Blogs, forums, people are talking about it. Commenting, suggesting, letting out how they feel. Some are serious, some are funny, some are sarcastic. It will not be complete without some commenting along the lines of “I told you so”; “Baru ia tau ...”; “Padan mua...”. But in all, one common message that came across clearly, visibly, undoubtedly, is the people’s awe and love to His Majesty. All in all, today’s event seemed surreal .... dreamlike.

Whatever and however we feel, we all can talk endlessly on how to react and what to do, all of us have our responsibility. To borrow from a famous phrase from a well known brand, lets JUST DO IT!

PS: Happy Birthday His Majesty ........

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weekend Ramblings .....

Not much happening this weekend. Pretty uneventful. I suppose the last few weekends had been uneventful too. Even more so now with the H1N1 scare. Only out for essential matters.

Surfing the net, checking the latest cricket score (beginning to regret not subscribing to the cricket on the only legal satellite TV provider here), Facebooking, listening to the news at the same time, suddenly overheard the newsreader saying something about “Kumpulan Belia Lasak”. Involuntarily, I burst into big laughter. Flashing through my mind is a group of “Bald Youngsters” running around. I am sure most people, if not all, local Bruneians at least, knows what “lasak” is in our local cakap Brunei. Lasak in short means bald. Other words associated with lasak are “gondol” and “botak”. “Kojak” is another, the origin I was made to understand, was from the popular American television series starring Telly Savalas (he is bald) way back in the 70s. So popular the series was, the word Kojak is synonym with being bald, especially if totally bald (botak licin). Parents, family members and friends even gave nicknames to boys with no or little hair. We ended up with many “Si-Kojak”, a few I know personally. One interesting about Kojak, he was famous for sucking on lollipops as a substitute for smoking. Smokers may follow this.. suck lollipops to stop smoking!

Talking about nicknames, another popular one is “Si-Kanon”, associated with overweight boys. Again, another popular 70s TV series was the influence. Cannon was a detective series about an overweight private detective Frank Cannon, who had resigned from the LAPD and become a private detective. He was indeed shaped like a cannon ball! I am sure a lot of us know of “Si-Kanon” here and there.

Coming back to the “Kumpulan Belia Lasak”, it is actually a group of active, all action youngsters on a mission of doing good deeds. Definitely an initiative to be given full support and backing from all of us. I just wish the people naming the group were extra careful in naming the group ........

PS: this is how boring this weekend has been... the mind even had the time to wander on such trivial things as “Si-Kojak” and “Si-Kanon” ............

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Hi-tech ....

Reached the office, settled down, switched on the notebook, turn on the radio tuned to the self proclaimed No1 radio station in Brunei, few sips of water, munching the customary cucur pisang, started the day as usual browsing through the local paper.

There on the front page, a big bold headline that reads "Hi-tech battle against flu". Finally, we are fighting back. Finally, I thought, we are employing and getting the latest technology to fight this menace. My mind went off into orbit thinking what hi-tech things we are getting our hands on. Are we getting the virus zapping lasers as in the Sci Fi stories? Are employing Optimus Prime and its transformers clan to help us? On further reading, the hi-tech thingy the headline referred to was the sms advisory service. Flat feeling engulf the mind. An anti climax. Sms is hi-tech? I am sure a lot will agree sms service is nothing to shout about nowadays. It is common even companies such as banks publicise their promotions through sms.

Admittedly sms is one of the best if not the most successful communication tool ever invented. A very useful tool for mass communication and to spread the word. Even rumours spread in no time through sms. One big factor in Brunei is the booming mobile market with penetration reaching 90% The figures published in Brunei Darussalam Key Indicators showed the total number of mobile subscribers in 2007 is 397,013 from an estimated total population of 390,000. It seems even babies have their own mobile phones!

I am sure introduction of the SMS advisory will complement immensely the fight against H1N1. But to call it Hi-tech? I suppose the editor meant well and is trying to spread good news in this troubling time. But in my case, to my brain, this painted the wrong image. The expectation is wide off the mark. So distant from the actual thing. In the eagerness to have a feel good headline, it painted a not totally correct picture.

Here I go again, complaining as if I am an expert in mass communication and PR. At the rate I am going, I won’t be surprised if the editor or someone from the paper will walk up to me, throw a copy of the paper at me and bark “Mun fikir pandai, cuba tia buat nah!”

At least I mean well............

PS: Keep up the good work MOH.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Hunting ....

Since the outbreak of the swine flu here the last few weeks, groups of people can be seen hunting. Hunting high and low to quote the song by a famous 80s Norwegian band, A-ha. No, they are not hunting the swines. In fact they are hunting for protection against swine flu. Sanitisers, alcohol laced wet tissues, thermometers and the coveted face masks. Ironic, just a few weeks ago these items minus the alcohol laced wet tissues were lying about almost untouched. Wet tissues with alcohol content were very hard to get even before. I wonder if it has any relation to the alcohol ban. A more realistic explanation would be the producer of the wipes trying to meet the market demand of this muslim majority region. We are not suppose to have any alcohol contaminating things around us especially our clothings even more so the ones we use in our prayers. Some will say they still smell the branded expansive very likely containing alcohol perfume in the jemaah...... well as in most things, this particular believe is subjective depending on what we accept as the true rule......

If we do a quick survey and spend sometime in a well known pharmacy, you can bet your life 9 out of 10 of the people entering will ask, “Ada mask kah?”, “Ada hand sanitiser kah?”. These things are hot in the market and their prices are on a steep incline... naik harga berabis. Imagine a pack of 5 of those N95 masks costing more than $17! For those still in the dark about the correct type of masks, I am sure not that many, the recommended masks are the N95 type that are designed to prevent the inhalation of airborne particles such as viruses. Off course there are shops trying to make a killing in this trouble times. One particular shop tried to pass off a normal standard dust mask as N95 mask and selling it at almost $4 a piece. Saw a few gullible and desperate people fell into this trap.

Some people suggested the government to provide free masks to each and every one of us. Imagine $3 per piece, 400,000 pieces every other day. That’s almost $3.6M in a week, assuming three pieces per person per week. Imagine this whole thing lasts its two year cycle? A staggering amount of over $350M! That’s equivalent to building SIX new hospitals at current costs. I am sure everyone will agree the money is better spent on building new hospitals especially specialised one for this kind of pandemic and to improve the health service. As for the masks, most of us in our own way can provide our own.....

I suppose some form of price control can be introduced and the needs of the real needy must be looked after by the government. At the same time, the importance of good personal hygiene must be stressed again and again. A friend said, wash your hands regularly, insyallah we will be alright.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Freebie ...

“Wedding guests get energy-saving gift” front page headline in one of the local paper. It goes on to say .....“A profound energy-saving message was sent out in a novel way yesterday when around 500 guests at a wedding ceremony in Kuala Belait walked away with energy-saving bulbs given away as traditional wedding gifts to the guests..... the energy-saving light bulbs priced at $7 each were generously contributed by the Energy Division in the efforts to cut down on energy costs and also help the environment.... “

Wow! Definitely a novel idea, an excellent wedding gift, an even better way to promote energy saving mentality. It is indeed a worthy action, killing many birds with one stone (in this case 500 stones).

Energy is a critical and strategic area for our beloved country Brunei Darussalam. Being a producer and energy exporting country, we are also one of the biggest user / consumer of energy. Be it petroleum products or electricity, we are way up there among the top user. Not sure what are the actual figures, in terms of electricity usage, in the region, we are the third highest consumer of electricity after Japan. Compounded even further by one of the lowest electricity tariff in the region. May be it is our Brunei nature, doing and consuming in a big way. Big houses, big cars, even bigger number of cars, everything we want big, even hutang also we are known to have big hutangs and liabilities. Big thing is our thing. On another extreme, we Bruneians love freebies...

Coming back to the wedding gift, $7 wedding gift is in my opinion is on the pricey side. I suppose in this case the energy saving objectives made the cost more or less acceptable. Then again, not many apart from few well off group, can afford a $7 per piece wedding gift. Generally, any gift, as long it is free, people will gladly accept. Observe around us, free things will be gone in no time. Remember the near riot scene of the wang zakat applications? Time and time again we hear stories of people seeking assistance. Of course there are genuine cases, but there are also cases due to the person’s own reckless way, living outside their mean.

On a more worrying note, some may see it, now at least they have an alternative agency to apply for assistance especially weddings in particular wedding gifts.... some can now go to the Energy Division he he he .........

When you leave a room, turn off the lights. Save energy by turning off household appliances too when not in use. You can save money when you do these simple things. The money save if collected over a period of time can pay for your wedding gifts.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Prodded, Poked, Pulled ....

It used to be holding the mobile, clicking away, typing the text and whatever else you can do nowadays with your mobile. Smart phones on the hands of the addicted means Facebook, Twitter, MSN, Googling etc. But lately we can see another phenomenon.... people walking about holding their forehead. Some do that once every few minutes. Some more frequent. Not enough with the forehead, other parts will also be touched. All in the name of feeling the “hotness” level of our body. Well to the hot chicks and other hot feeling people walking about out there, it’s not a measure of how hot you are. I am sure in a scale of 1 to 10, your hotness can be specified albeit it being subjective to each individual likes, dislikes, tastes, naughtiness etc.

The hotness level we are talking here is our body temperature. Lately, due to the very unwelcome visits of the not so very friendly, in fact very very detested, H1N1 flu, body temperature has become a very big deal indeed. Everywhere you go, depends on the way they take the temperature, your forehead will be poked (skin method), your ears pulled, your armpits pushed (axillary method), your mouth prodded (oral method). Fortunately the rectal method (thermometer shoved up your behind), which is the best way to measure the body temperature according to the Wiki, is not used. Imagine if it is? Smiley happy people walking around we can see for sure. For women, the vagina can also be used. I bet a lot will volunteer for this... NOT!

Under normal conditions, our body temperature should be around 37C (98.6F). Then again this depends on the method of measurement we use. Temperature in the anus (rectum/rectal), vagina, or in the ear is about 37.6C. Temperature in the mouth (oral) is about 36.8C. Temperature under the arm (axillary) is about 36.4C. Furthermore it varies slightly from person to person.

“Temperature examination in the rectum is the traditional gold standard measurement used to estimate core temperature (oral temperature is affected by hot or cold drinks and mouth-breathing). Rectal temperature is expected to be approximately one Fahrenheit degree higher than an oral temperature taken on the same person at the same time. Ear thermometers measure eardrum temperature using infrared sensors. The blood supply to the tympanic membrane is shared with the brain. However, this method of measuring body temperature is not as accurate as rectal measurement and has a low sensitivity for fevers, missing three or four out of every ten fevers in children.[4] Ear temperature measurement may be acceptable for observing trends in body temperature but is less useful in consistently identifying fevers.” .. the Wiki says..

Confused? Let the experts worry about the detail. For us, no matter what we used minus the hand on the forehead method (style lama ni!), let’s keep it simple, anything above 37.5C (doctors and experts please correct me if I am wrong here, admittedly I am no expert nor I have any certificates even forged ones) take extra precautions, follow the Health Authorities instructions.

I do hope the guys taking the temperature in the office know what they are doing. Been hearing strange readings of as low as 31C.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Sad... Shocked... Scared....

It is a sad day. A sad day as our country suffered the first fatality due to the H1N1 flu. The details and the circumstances are in the news. Upon this news was made public, the internet was and still is full of blame game. Sad as we are about this loss, blame game is the last thing we want. Add to this news another 27 new cases, we have almost a century of cases now. Scared? Worried? Most, if not all, will be ..... Mixed emotions .....

Early in the morning, most if not all the people I came across were alarmed on the sudden rise in the number of H1N1 cases. Some people say it is inevitable. Just look at the United Kingdom where they have given up in preventing the spread. Now, they have moved into the treatment phase in managing this outbreak, treating the ever increasing numbers affected by the flu. It is projected, by August, over 100,000 cases per day will be seen. I guess any plan to go the UK will have to wait for now.

While it is very worrying to see the trend, the good news is that vaccines may be available as early as August this year. A consolation, if we can call it one, the experts acknowledged H1N1 is a mild flu and with early detection and treatment, most will recover. Follow the advice, keep good standard of personal hygiene. No more of the favourite past time of picking the noses for now. Wash our hands with the ever increasingly difficult to find hand sanitisers. Check the body temperatures twice remembering the flexible thermometers you used for the armpits not being used in the mouth. Better to get the ear digital thermometer which is running out fast like the Fun Donuts when it arrived here. Put the masks on, it is trendy now to have one on. Stay home if we are not well. Exercise self quarantine for at least seven days if you have just arrived from an affected area. I am sure many will take this offer of extended leave which I regretted not taking. Have adequate rest. Avoid crowded areas, for now, a perfect excuse not to attend weddings, functions etc. Regularly clean our work area and equipments. I must keep this in mind... should not take the mobile to the toilet. So no more Twitter and Facebook updates “live” from the BilekTermenung.

In our office, as in many other offices across the country, the various action plans or SOPs were activated. To be honest, the plans were for the Bird Flu. I suppose the action plans would be similar for H1N1, just a matter it is swine this time not the birds being the culprit. With the modern technology, it is not difficult to convert the Bird Flu action plan to Swine Flu. Just click “search and replaced” bird with H1N1, we will have an action plan for the H1N1. And do not forget to delete the part on when we find dead birds lying about.

Everyone, everybody is doing their best to counter the H1N1 threat. One thing we must not forget, is PRAY.... pray and doa so we, the whole country will be spared from H1N1. Amin .............

to those in MOH, keep up the good job.... you have done the best.....

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

H1N1 online ....

66, yes 66 cases of H1N1 as of this afternoon. Since the first case detected ten days ago, the numbers had shot up. Are we supposed to be alarmed? May be we should. Should we panic? May be we should not. Stories, rumours spreading like wildfire about this flu. Every media you can think off, be it official, print, electronic etc. In blogs, forums, facebook, twitters, chat lines stories are exchanged. How many of the stories are true? How many are half truths? How many are straightforward false allegations?

In Brunei, like the rest of the world, more and more people especially the younger generations are sceptical of the government media. Even when the government media is telling 100% the truth, they will not take it totally. Look what is happening in Iran. It is doubtful such voting fraud in a massive scale could have taken place. Yet despite the government effort to explain and to certain extent appease the protestors, they still believe the non government media. In the case of the H1N1 spread here, if we follow the internet chatter via Facebook, Twitter etc, you will get the sense the government media is not fully trusted. In certain extremes, we get the sense there is a perception the government is not totally transparent and trying to hide something.

Being part of the IT generation, I am all for free speech and unrestricted access to information. But at the same time, we must realise, freedom comes with responsibilities. We also must understand the role of the government. Government agencies have responsibilities to ensure the public’s well being and to maintain calm. With these responsibilities, ensuring the right and accurate information reach the public is of paramount importance. Whose reporting we rather believe? The government with its responsibilities or the people online who has no direct responsibilities, some if not all, are strangers to us?

The challenge for the government media and agencies is to provide accurate, up-to-date almost real time information to the public and to be seen as approachable and fully transparent....

The last six days was a roller coaster emotional ride. Scared, beuri, kabak-kabak, ingau, terrified and many more emotions all mixed up. Why? Coming back from an H1N1 affected areas, can’t help feeling all those with any slight changes in the body temperature and other flu like symptoms. If before, any cough, sneeze would be taken on my stride, now, have to pause and contemplate. People nearby will be staring at me like I am an outcast. Endless self checking of the body temperature, to the extent of carrying my own thermometer. Allhamdulillah, so far so good. Another day, can I say our group will be declared H1N1 free? It will be like independence day for our group .....