Monday, September 21, 2009

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri...

Today is 1 Syawal, better known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Is it “Aidilfitri” one word or is it two words “Aidil Fitri”? I have seen both versions in both the official and unofficial documents. I suppose it does not really matter as long as we meant it the way we are suppose to meant it. And what’s important is our sincerity, KEIKHLASAN.

To the readers of this blog, there must be a few, very few may be, as the counter keeps ticking even without me visiting it, Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir dan Batin. Please forgive me if there are parts of my ramblings that may have offended any of you. As I had said in my earlier entries, I meant well. I did not mean any harm to anybody, anyone or any soul.

This year’s Hari Raya will be a bit odd. No Istana open house due to the H1N1 situation will be the most significant. To many people, even to foreigners and tourists, Istana Open House is the main event of Hari Raya. To Government Officers, by tradition, most will be heading to Istana on the first day back at work. The highlight of personally greeting His Majesty and the Royal Family is something to look forward too. Add to that the sumptuous spread of food served. Offices will be almost deserted. Strangely for the whole day. So this year we will see the office with a bit more people. No more taking the opportunity of “escaping” from work after Istana visit. Still, no Istana open house will be making this Hari Raya less exciting to most people.

On H1N1, the health authorities advised everyone to be vigilant. Provide sanitisers or at least hand washing facilities. Good advice indeed. On the flip side, hand sanitisers whose price are already exorbitant, will now rocket up. I am sure nobody will hesitate to shake hands berziarah. If we follow our own religion’s advice, we are asked to wash our hands before eating. Stick to that, insyallah we will be alright. Worst case scenario, which is not impossible, we come across someone who will wash his or her hand every few handshakes, carrying with him or her a portable sanitiser. The pocket must be bulging with the sanitisers adding to the things already in the pocket, wallet, keys, phones etc. What’s important is to be vigilant, keep high personal hygiene to avoid hesitancy in berziarah.


Over the years, the number of Hari Raya cards had been on a rapid decline. Short Messaging Service, SMS and emails had taken over the role of cards. This year, the numbers will decline further, even SMS greetings are expected to be lower as Facebook and other social networking services provides a faster and easier platform to send greetings. A simple posting on the Wall is all it takes to greet every single person in our friends list. Less tasking for the fingers clicking when sending SMS greetings. Wonder what will be the future medium will be. May be just thinking of sending greetings is enough to send it to the recipient. But until now nothing beats the feeling of getting Hari Raya Cards......

Sunday, September 06, 2009


History is not everyone’s favourite subject. Back then, during the schooldays, history seemed to be remembering obscure names and dates. Endless dates. Not dates with the favourite girl in school but dates of historical events. Most of us could not understand what use all those history lessons were to us apart from it was another subject, another brain draining exam to pass, especially for those who wants to score straight As. No choice. Must do history. To make things worse, we had history teachers who made the lessons more conducive to journey into the dreamland. Secondary students nowadays are lucky. It seems history is an elective subject, not a compulsory one.

Over the years, as the gray hairs slowly appearing, as the music taste change from the fast beat to more mellow easy listening songs, history has grown more meaningful. Not obsessed with it but more of a curiosity. Not a history buff, but more of taking a keen interest.

People says we study history so that we will not repeat the mistakes of the past. Some says everything has cycles and by studying the past will help us prepare for the future. Some study history to gain knowledge. Knowledge of what happened, why it happened, the environment it happened so they can appreciate it more. Reasons may vary but all points to one thing, it is important to learn, to know history. Not just to pass the exams. Hopefully, this will be stressed more to the students unlike during our time where we were puzzled what good history was to us.

One part of history that always interests me is how science had developed. Science always pride itself in doing things the Scientific Method. With an engineering background, looking at things the scientific way is built in. The scientific method is simply making observation, state the problem, formulate a hypothesis (assumptions), experiments to test the hypothesis, analysis of results, interpret data and formulate conclusion then publish the findings. By all accounts, the pioneer of the Scientific Method is an Islamic scholar, Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥasan ibn al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham, better known as al-Haytham or AlHazen. History has shown the Islamic World contributed massively to the science world by laying foundations to many of today’s sciences.

Back to the scientific method, it will be a good thing if each and every one of us make it a habit to think in a scientific way. Think based on real facts. Know all the facts. Not just jump to baseless conclusions. Do not assume unless we have proven our assumptions, unless we have the evidence. Determine first if there is really a problem before sitting down to solve it. Addressing the wrong questions may lead to the wrong solutions, no matter how wonderful such solutions seemed to be. Ending up with a complete waste of everyone’s time. To quote the youngsters, “BUANG KARAN SAJA!”

Here are some quotations on what History is all about:
Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. – George Santayana
The past is useless. That explains why it is past. - Wright Morris
Only a good-for-nothing is not interested in his past. - Sigmund Freud
What experience and history teach is this-that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.- G. W. F. Hegel
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are. - David C. McCullough
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. – Karl Marx
One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say. – Will Durrant

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Thinker .... Doer.....

Simple is beautiful. Most if not all architects believed that. Economics, albeit a very complex subject, keep to simple models in trying to explain everyday life. Many people, I am sure, like things simple too. Who want all the stress, the headaches, the fear, the scare and all those not so nice feelings complicated things bring with them. Men, especially, like to keep things simple despite some of their actions complicate their lives. Partly due to, some says, easily loses his head, the big head and the heart is overwhelmingly controlled by the smaller head. As for the ladies, the jury is still out there. Mix signals from them. Who in the right mind would make an already beautifully designed piece of fabric and turned it into complicated lines and lines of sparkling beads? Unless they want the dress to get the full attention rather than the person. Distractions from those red pouting lips and perky cheeks, botox assisted in some cases. Opppps! Here I go again, digressing. Better be careful with what I am saying about the female species. I may end up being labelled a lady basher. Let me get back on track.

As a habit, looking at things in a simplistic way had become a tendency. Remember when we were kids? Our maths teacher used to say, simplify the equations before solving it? Apply that to life, it is still the same. No matter how complicated things are, break it down to little pieces. The solution is out there. Admittedly, it is not easy. There are times, a lot actually, the mind goes overdrive. Instead of simplifying things, more and more branches are added. What is a small thin lean tree of a problem will end up with a tree with a blown up afro look complete with hanging messy beards. Oh no! Digression No.2.

Well, here it is. Over the years, out of observations, some in passing, some ogling, with no reference to any academic publications, at least to my knowledge, if any it is purely incidental, everyone, in its simplest form has two sides when it comes to approaching a problem or an assignment. On one side is our “THINKER” part, on another is our “DOER” part. Sounds familiar? Both parts have good and bad things associated with it. These two exists in each and every one of us but in different composition. Some with the Thinker part as the majority shareholder; some the Doer part, with different effects.

The Thinker tend to be creative, brilliant, refreshing, enthusiastic, but at the same time individualistic, eccentric (this can be good too!), disorganised, may not be a team player and think too much ending up with no work being done. They can think up just anything, any solution but may lose interest and stubborn especially if their suggestions are not chosen. In short, exciting but risky.

On the other hand the Doer in most cases will stick to standard, tried and tested solutions. Not giving it too much thought, just bulldozing it and get things done. Most will tend to be formal but good team player and more organised as he is less distracted by too much thinking. In short boring but safe.

In an organisation, in a team, observed carefully enough, we can suss out who the thinker and who the doer is. A balanced mixture promises better outcomes. But, as in everything, there are always challenges to be faced and questions to be answered. Who is the ideal leader of the pack? The Thinker? The Doer? How do we reward? The thinking part or the doing part? Same remuneration packages for both? Same career scheme and development for both? Do we treat them equally or as different entities? I am sure if a study is done, there will be cases where the Doer gets all the credit for the Thinker creative solutions, and there will be cases the Thinker gets all the credit for all the hard work of the Doer. Both sides will want fairness.

Life is not that simple after all ....................

It’s the assessment season again. Our challenge is for each of us to identify which part of us, thinker or doer, is stronger, utilise it to the maximum, at the same time strengthens the weak part. A perfect marriage of thinking and doing is the end zone.