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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mistaken identity

This happened twice to me in the last two weeks.

Last week, I received news that "Prof Halim" of Universiti Sains Malaysia passed away. But it turned out that the "Prof Halim" who passed on was the one in Universiti Malaya.

Tonight, I received news that "Dato' Ismail Kamus" passed away, when in actual effect, it was "Datuk Ismail Salleh" who passed on.

It is understandable that people would spread news of someone's death without giving it a second thought. But one lesson I think we can all learn from all this is that, whatever the news may be, in this day and age of fast information, it is worthwhile to stop and check first.

Online forms not original?

Last Monday, I took my parents to the Immigrations Department to have their passports done. As I had blogged some time back, my experience dealing with the department was pleasant. The experience on Monday was similar. The service provided by the department was efficient, prompt and pleasant. The whole process took less than one hour much to my parents' delight.

However, there was one thing that I found somewhat "odd". My parents had to fill a form in order to get their passports. It was the same form that I had to fill up when I renewed mine. So, I went to the department's website to download and print the form. My parents had the form filled up at home before going to the department.

Here comes the odd part. When we got there, the officer at the counter informed us that the downloaded form could not be used. Instead we have to use the "original" form. I find this pretty absurd. Why have the forms online for people to download and print, when people have to use the original forms?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ramadhan is here again...

I know this post is somewhat late as Ramadhan has started on Saturday, but nonetheless, may I wish all Muslim friends and visitors a blessed Ramadhan.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Where can I get this?

I received this picture in my e-mail. Any idea where to get one of these delicious-looking keyboards?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Reading Room

Two of the books I edited when I was with IKIM are reviewed in a column called "Reading Room" in The Star. Incidentally, these were the last two books that I edited during my tenure at the institute.

Unfortunately, I could not find any links online for this column. As such, I am reproducing (by retyping) the part which featured the two books.

Compiled by ROUWEN LIM

Food and Technological Progress
Author: Multiple authors; edited by Shaikh Mohd Saifuddeen Shaikh Mohd Salleh, Azrina Sobian
Publisher: MPH Group Publishing
193 pages

We all need to eat to live. Common food-related issues that are raised globally include famine and poverty, nutrition, ethics, and shortages. The subject of food in relation to Islamic beliefs is rarely, if ever, raised in detail. This book delivers an Islamic perspective on the subject of food security; the availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food; and the ability to acquire food in socially acceptable ways. It maintains that it is important to fulfil the criteria of halalan tayyiban (lawful and of good quality).

Genealogy and Preservation of the Progeny
Author: Multiple authors; edited by Shaikh Mohd Saifuddeen Shaikh Mohd Salleh
Publisher: MPH Group Publishing
223 pages

This is a guide to upholding the tenets of Islamic religion against the challenges of the biotechnology age. It kicks off its argument with referencing Islam as a way of life and goes on to explore various dimensions of biotechnology in relation to preservation of the progeny. It is likely the first book to link one of the objectives of Islamic law, maqasid al-shariah (preservation and safeguarding of the progeny), to advancements in biotechnology.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

That one decision in life...

I am somewhat nostalgic, perhaps overly-nostalgic, this afternoon. For some reason, I got myself thinking about my memories of Scotland, a place where I called home for nearly half a decade. Without actually realising it, it has been 13 years since I left Scotland. Time does actually fly, I guess.

Never in my wildest dreams when I was growing up would I think that I would wound up in Scotland. But alas, that decision that I made in December 1991 changed the course of my life. Regrets I have none. Only fond memories of the lochs and the bens of Scotland, as well as its unique culture and friendly people that I got to know over the years.

While it is true that there is no place like home, and home to me is Malaysia, I have to say that if ever there is a second home for me, then Scotland would be the place.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Friday, August 07, 2009

Misdirected mail

This morning just before leaving for work, there was a letter in my mailbox. It was quite odd, because usually the postman arrives around noon. Most definitely, the postman does not send letters that early.

The thought that came to mind almost immediately is that in all probability, this letter was sent to another address (probably one of my neighbour's). This neighbour (whoever he or she is) probably put the letter into my mailbox on his/her way to work. I am very grateful for this neighbourly act.

However, I am a bit saddened for two reasons.

First, the date on the stamp is 22nd July. That was 15 days ago. As far as I know, the mail service in the country only takes two to three days to arrive at its destination. Did the person who got my mail keep it for almost two weeks? Or did the mail itself arrive late?

Second, I found the envelope opened. Who opened my letter up? Could it have been an honest mistake? Or was it the act of someone curious? Whatever the reason may be, I find this worrying. Fortunately the contents which included a letter, a few documents that I needed to sign and a cheque were left intact (at least I think there was nothing missing).

I was a bit upset over this in the morning. Not only the letter (which I have been waiting for since early July) arrived late, its private contents were, most probably, irresponsibly scrutinised by someone.

I have to say that I am grateful that the letter is finally in my hands. But this is an episode that has left me rather suspicious.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Double H threats

Most people's concern in the country lately is the haze and the Influenze A (H1N1) virus. I call this the "Double H threats".

The roads today were relatively empty. For some reason, not many cars were on the road. Traffic was pretty smooth. A friend said it could be due to the fear of H1N1. It feels somewhat surreal to see Kuala Lumpur with very little traffic on a normal day. The city was not deserted, but the roads were certainly rather quiet.

Quite a few schools, offices and institutions are closed. A man working at a kopitiam near my office told me that a few offices at our office complex are shut down for a few days. He wondered out loud if it could be down to H1N1. Later in the morning, I found out that my sister's faculty in Kuantan is also closed down for a week because of H1N1.

Just after 4 p.m., I drove to Universiti Malaya for my lecture at the Faculty of Science. I noticed the dark grey hazy skies. The haze has enveloped the city for the past couple of weeks. Brief rain brought some respite, but only temporarily. One could smell smoke in the air.

When I arrived, I noticed quite a few students coughing. I'm not sure whether this was due to the haze or flu (hopefully not H1N1). During the lecture, I could hear a number of students coughing from time to time.

As I switched on Facebook not too long before I type this blog entry, a doctor friend wrote on her status:
H1N1... getting worse... HUKM at least 15 patients infected... including one doctor. Some patients resistant to Tamiflu!

One does not need to be a genius to figure out that the situation is not improving. And yet, I find it ironic that many of us seem oblivious of these Double H threats.

Be safe everyone. Stay indoors if there is no reason to be outside.