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Monday, May 18, 2009


I find the new Duta - Ulu Klang Expressway (DUKE) or the E33 extremely useful. I travel from my home/office in Setiawangsa to Universiti Malaya quite frequently, and since my sister started her short semester classes at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) in Gombak, I have also started to commute there from home as well.

The E33 saved a lot of time spent on the road. This expressway connects major highways and roads which otherwise would require one to drive into the city to get across to these places. And when one is in the city, one would likely be trapped in the customary traffic jam of Kuala Lumpur, massive or otherwise.

Essentially, the E33 enables road users to avoid entering the city. In the past, without the E33, it will take me up to 45 minutes on a good day to reach Universiti Malaya. Nowadays, with the E33, I only need around 20 minutes. Likewise, the travelling time to IIUM has been halved with this expressway.

And all it costs is RM2, which to me is money well spent (considering the amount of time one saves).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Snippets of updates

Wow, I didn't realise that I have not posted any entry here for quite a while. Since my wife was discharged from hospital last Wednesday, I had to do a lot of catching up at work. So much needs to be done, so much so that I was not able to focus on other things which are more personal in nature.

Just a few updates:

Alhamdulillah, my wife is recovering well from the surgery last week. She has started working today. Hopefully, her health will continue to improve.

As for the complaint letter I sent regarding the service at a Petronas service station, well both the station manager and the area manager contacted me to apologise. How on earth they got my phone number is still a mystery, although I think I can figure that one out. Anyway, kudos to the both of them for their prompt - and polite - response to the complaint, and for being professional in tackling the issue. I have to say that I am happy that the matter has been resolved.

On a more academic note, I have begun my lectures for the short semester at Universiti Malaya. I find that after a few semesters as a part-time lecturer at Malaysia's oldest university, I am beginning to feel at home and at ease with this role. It's an interesting experience that I really enjoy and cherish.

And finally, that break that I blogged about some time back. After all the things that have been happening of late, I really do need one.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Update: Post-op

It was around 2.30 p.m. before my wife was back at the ward. However, she's still unconscious because of the anaesthesia.

Updated (8.30 p.m.): The effects of the anaesthesia wore off at around 7 p.m. at around the time the ENT specialist arrived for his round. Everything seems to be okay and my wife is expected to be discharged tomorrow, insya-Allah.

My 5 sen

Many people have said that in other countries, the consumer is king. In Malaysia however, consumers seem to be the victim.

I have been in the hospital since yesterday as my wife is warded. So yesterday evening, I walked to the nearby Ampang Point to look for something to eat. My wife wanted tuna sandwich as a snack, so I stopped by at the Dunkin' Donuts outlet there.

It was here that I realise that some outlets do not return the change as per printed on the receipt. If, for instance, you should be getting your change of 15 sen, you will only get 10 sen. These outlets would say that they do not have 5 sen in their cash register. So, the customer will be shortchanged by 5 sen. Small amount, I know, but this is downright cheating especially when the outlet did not even inform that they are unable to give the exact change. I am unsure whether it is a policy of this outlet not to inform their customers of this matter.

Is it difficult to stock up on 5 sen coins? Is it hard to inform the customer that you are unable to give the exact change? For customers who do not check the change they receive, they would probably just walk away without realising that they have been "cheated".

So, as consumers, we have to know our rights, even if it's only a change of 5 sen. It is your money after all, not the shop or outlet that you go to.

Interview in Utusan Malaysia

Last week, I was a panellist in a forum on stem cell therapy at the UKM Medical Centre (formerly Hospital UKM). After the forum, I was interviewed by a journalist from Utusan Malaysia on a slightly different topic but a topic that is close to my heart, namely organ donation from the perspective of Islam. The interview came out today in the paper's Mega pullout section. Unfortunately, there is no link to the write-up.

On a related note, I was informed that there was an organ donor yesterday at Hospital Selayang, and there is a potential donor today also from the same hospital. I hope that people will continue to pledge and donate organs, because this will certainly help to save many lives, insya-Allah.

Warded for surgery

Later this morning, my wife will be undergoing surgery on her sinus. The surgery is scheduled at 11 a.m. today.

She was warded a couple of weeks ago for pneumonia, but apparently the condition was caused by sinusitis. Hence, her surgery today. Even though this is a minor surgery, I pray for her well-being nonetheless.

I'll be updating her condition from time to time.

Monday, May 04, 2009


The following is a very long complaint letter addressed to the relevant party regarding an incident that occurred on 30th April. I am not sure what will come out of this letter, but at least I have said my piece.


To whom it may concern,

MESRA service leaves a lot to be desired

I have always believed in supporting local brands. PETRONAS has always been my choice when it comes to petroleum. No doubt this choice is somewhat biased since I was a PETRONAS scholar in the early 1990’s. While I did not join PETRONAS upon completion of my studies, I have never severed my ties with PETRONAS. By filling up at PETRONAS, it is actually a small way for me to show my appreciation to the company that supported my studies for nearly five years. Ever since I owned a car in 2000, PETRONAS is my only choice. And to show further my support to PETRONAS, I have also signed up for the MESRA loyalty programme.

These past couple of years, whenever I fill up at any PETRONAS station, I would use my credit card. As such, there is really no need for me to go to the counter for this transaction as all this can be done at the pump. And as a result, I will not be aware of any notice posted at the counter. On average, I fill up between six (6) to eight (8) times a month, costing me up to RM650.

Last week, one of my staff informed me of a new MESRA loyalty programme, and that applications have to be submitted by the 30th of April. Apparently, there is a notice on the counter (but not at the pumps). If not for the information relayed by my staff, I would not have been aware of it at all. As a loyal MESRA card holder, I picked up a form on the 29th of April. As I was tied up with several things at that point in time, I was only able to return the form the next day (which happened to be the last day).

I went to the Setiawangsa PETRONAS station on the morning of the 30th of April, and I was told that the station has run out of MESRA cards. I was asked to leave my name and phone number, and was duly informed that a new batch of MESRA cards would arrive after 4 p.m. and that I would be contacted once the cards arrive. There were no calls received, and thus, at 8 p.m. I dropped by at the same station simply to inquire further.

I first went to the counter. The staff (whose name I did not get unfortunately) there told me that the cards did not arrive (contrary to what I was told earlier in the morning). I then asked what to do with the MESRA application form, but she was not able to answer. She however was polite enough to direct me to another staff who was at the back, probably at the store.

After waiting for a few minutes, this staff (who was referred to as “Ika”), came out with a sour face. I inquired the same question, what should I do with the MESRA application form? The reply that I got was that the cards were out of stock. Fine, I already have that information as early as that morning, but my question was what was I to do with the MESRA application form. I asked the question again, and instead of getting a direct answer to the question, I got a telling off from this staff. She said that I was late in returning the form.

I tried to explain to her that I was not aware of the notice because I have been filling up using my credit card, but again she stressed that I was late in returning the form. As far as I understand (unless my years of furthering my studied under PETRONAS scholarship dulled my intelligence), the last day to submit the application form to switch to the new MESRA card was on the 30th of April. Had I sent in the form on the 1st of May, then that would be late. By right, as long as the form is sent within the stipulated time frame, then it should never be regarded as late.

I did not get the answer that I was looking for from this staff. She was getting agitated, and I decided to leave things at that. As I was walking out the door, this staff walked up to the counter and in a high voice scolded (from my point of view) the polite staff whom I met earlier. She said, “Why don’t you tell them that we have run out of cards?” I find this situation totally uncalled for. The fact that the polite staff was scolded in front of all the customers was simply unprofessional. And to do this when I was still there was downright rude. I felt like turning back and giving my piece of mind to this stressed out staff, but I refrained.

I purposely wrote this complaint letter today, instead of on the 30th of April, because I had wanted to see if anyone from the station called me up as was promised. To date, no calls were received. When I walked out of the PETRONAS Mesra station that night, I felt that there is nothing mesra about the place. Professionalism was missing, and a simple question failed to be answered. I still have the form with me, but I have lost my interest in renewing my MESRA card. What is the point of joining a loyalty programme, when my loyalty all these years have been rewarded with rudeness and unprofessionalism?

I will still go to a PETRONAS station to fill up, but not at the Setiawangsa station. However, I will no longer use the MESRA card as I have lost faith in the kemesraan of the people manning the stations. The incident taught me an important lesson, and that is the programme is nothing more than a PR exercise that is not translated into action by some of the staff at PETRONAS stations. The number may be small, but it is these few bad apples that spoil the whole lot, leaving the so-called MESRA service a lot to be desired.

Thank you.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Amir Husaini's fourth birthday

Today is Shaikh Amir Husaini's fourth birthday.

Throughout these four years of your presence in our lives, you have certainly brought a mountainful of cheer and joy. And you have certainly taught me how to become a father.

Happy birthday, son.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Give me a break

For the fourth time since late February, I have come down with fever again. I suspect that the reason for this is the lack of rest of late. I have some family matters to take care of in the coming week, and after that, insya-Allah, I plan to take a short break. But then again, it's not really a break in the true context of the word, as I plan to get myself holed up somewhere outside the office to write my PhD thesis and finish my two upcoming novels.

Break? Well, maybe after that...