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Friday, March 30, 2007


Speaking of Opera. Here's Oprah on 'O' magazine. How does she manage to get on the cover of a magazine every month?! Gee, I guess having your own publication helps. But don't people ever get sick of seeing Oprah and her BFFs... Gayle and Tina Turner? This is so self-indulgent... Does she have so many good things to say about herself? Oh wait, when you're that rich, people are lining up just to say good stuff about you too!

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Phantom Of The Opera

Last night, I was at the Singapore Esplanade to watch the Phantom of The Opera. It was my first time. I was a Phantom virgin, YEA! The show was good, Phantom sang like a nightingale with testicles. All was perfect, except for the role of Christine, played by Rebecca Pitcher. She looks too old, too haggard and way too uncharismatic on stage that any man or ghoul would cringe at the idea of love, with her.

The orchestra was excellent, syncing the moods and the stage characters with great fervour. I know all too well, I was at the front row, just a few feet away from the conductor. Beautiful blonde conductor.

This is where it starts to get a little scary. Sitting on the front row (not recommended), you get a view of these angels being lowered down to halfway between your head and the ceiling... with the Phantom in tow. It sways oh-so-dangerously with the heft of the weighty Phantom, on it. Front row to Phantom of The Opera, definitely not recommended.

All in all, a wonderful performance. A must-watch for everyone... Photos taken from a Nokia 8800, as you can see, shitty quality.

This is how close we were to the performers. At one point, the general crept up in front of us for a scene where Vicompte Raoul was planning to ambush the Phantom. Scared the bejesus out of my friend. So how would I rate the show? This Phantom of The Opera performance gets a 4 out of 5. If only Christine got some Botox...

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Monday, March 26, 2007


People who are easily offended by religious satire (somewhat), please turn away!

Otherwise... ENJOY!

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

PFS - Penang's Failure School?

Our dear ruler, why bother planting a tree? Why not do something more meaningful for the school? To bring back the school glory worthy of your name on the plaque?

The canteen now has two chinese food stalls, out of probably ten or twelve. You know why? Because the number of chinese students enrolling in the school has dwindled down to two figures per year (according to a reliable source). There simply is no demand for chinese food anymore. Wait... you know what? This isn't about the food. This is about how easy it is to enter this "premier school", once held in the highest regard. Back in the 1993, it was already clear to me that the entry requirements have been lobsided. Ask any Chinese school boy my age then, and they will tell you that full A's is the way to enter PFS. Although your chances of entering with one B on the report card is still fairly good. But anything below that wouldn't be accepted. My classmate... had only 2 A's... some only 1 A. But they get hostel lodging on top of an offer letter.

The canteen may now feature television sets (showing Discovery Channel), and increased seating areas but the school is suffering from humiliating results. The school website boasts of 100% passes for PMR (Secondary 3 examinations), when it should be reading "Top 10 Best Results in Malaysia". The halls are now echoed with a foul reputation of the school. Penang kids these days don't aspire to be a Free anymore... looking at the school as a has-been institution... a reputation of being mediocre, over glorified past. I'm afraid if the academic landslide continues, Penang Free School will be nothing more than a name in the minds of the coming generations. It might as well be ABC or XYZ School. There will be no reason to be selective of who it enters into the school anymore. The title of the first school in South East Asia might be it's only consolation. The first, simply doesn't equate the best...

Tha pavillion where students and spectators cheered on the revered sports teams. How many school have a field the size of this and a pavillion to boot? Please don't misunderstand my intentions, I am not a racist. But after 50 years of independence and calling out 'Merdeka', isn't it time all the races played fair? I don't care if the ruling party is blue, green, purple, Malay, Chinese or Indian... but at least after 50 years, isn't it time we understood schools as pillars to the education of the nation has the right to fair entry? How about entry to Penang Free School purely based on results instead of racial quota? Or preferential treatment? Yes, I am all for helping the poor, the needy and the stupid... but there are plenty of just ways to do it.

This is the kind of thing you get from windows today. This photo was taken of a window in front of the school library. An intelligent calling... Ironically, the name "Free" in Penang Free School was coined from the idea by the British to liberate the young from socio-economic stereotypes. Right now, they might want to add an asterisk and a disclaimer, like this "Penang Free* School".

* Terms and Conditions Apply.

While our past teachers may have complained of peeling paint and chalk dust on the decades old building, today the school has to battle with graffitis like this. A sign of civilization and utter intellect, this. Photo taken from a wall on the underused Computer & Engineering Building of Penang Free School.

One dollar for guessing what's the native language of this graffiti artist...

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My Alma Mater

Visiting my high school brought many memories, mostly sweet. I worked really hard to get into this "premier school". Gettting straight A's in the Primary 6 examinations... but only to find out that my Malay classmates only had to score half a result of half B's and A's to receive an offer letter to join the school. Disheartening indeed...

Penang Free School is the oldest (therefore the first) English School in the South East Asian region. The school founded by Rev. Sparke Hutchings in the year 1816 and has history of excellence in academics and sports. The school previously assumed the reputation as the institution for the creme de la creme of junior achievers and fuelled the dream of kids making their parents proud...

The Free School can boast of being the Alma Mater of many established, well known and successful Malaysians locally and abroad. An individual pursuing his secondary education in the Free School is commonly known as a Free, once the individual leaves the Free School, he is automatically an Old Free.

Those who graduate from the school often speak of their alma mater with pride... and who wouldn't when the alumni list reads something like this

Tunku Abdul Rahman, 1st Prime Minister and founding father of Malaysia.
Tuanku Syed Putra ibni Almarhum Syed Hassan Jamalullail, the 3rd Yang Di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia
The Raja of Perlis, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin, also the 12th Yang Di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia.
Tan Sri P.Ramlee, Malay actor, director, songwriter and musician.
Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu, second Chief Minister of Penang.
Dato' (Dr.) Anwar Fazal, probably the most influential figure in the worldwide consumer movement.
Dr. Wu Lien Teh, world-renowned Plague Fighter and pioneer in the modernization of China's public health system.
Dato' Eddy Choong, former All-England Badminton champion.
Hj. S.M.Zainul Abidin, renown educationist. He taught most of those listed above.
Tengku Tan Sri Ahmad Rithauddeen, President of the United Nations Association of Malaysia (UNAM)

But of late. there's been trouble in the school... (so I've heard and seen)

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