Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sufficient evidence to prove Teoh Beng Hock was murdered?

I wonder what will be the outcome when the report goes public on 7 January ....

Tue, Dec 29, 2009


IMG_0369BKUALA LUMPUR: Teoh Beng Hock was murdered. Top Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand (picture) has sufficient evidence to prove that he was killed.

The Parti Keadilan Rakyat organ, Suara Keadilan, reports in its latest edition that her forensic report will be presented at the January 7 inquest into Teoh’s untimely death.

The weekly quotes unnamed Health Ministry sources as saying that Pornthip reached her conclusion after a second postmortem at the Sungai Buloh hospital.

The report adds that Pornthip has made known her findings to all TBHock 1relevant groups, including the Teoh family and the Selangor government, which commissioned her services.

Teoh (picture) was the political secretary to Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah. Yong is the Seri Kembangan assemblyperson and a member of DAP, a member party of the ruling coalition in Selangor.

On 15 July, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), investigating allegations of misappropriation of state allocations, raided Yong’s office. Teoh was questioned as a witness at the Selangor MACC office later that day.

At about 1.30pm the following day, a janitor found Teoh’s sprawled body on the fifth floor of the building.

The coroner’s court allowed Teoh’s remains be exhumed on Nov 21 for a second-post mortem.

Earlier in October Pornthip told coroner Azmil Mustapha Abas that based on photographs of his remains, she was 80 percent sure that Teoh was murdered.

The second autopsy was witnessed by British pathologist Prof Dr Peter Venezis acting for MACC, Dr Khairul Azman Ibrahim and Dr Prashant Naresh Samberkar.

X-Men: Magneto Testament

Yesterday I picked up two new comic books from my local library that I had booked a few months ago. I had a good evening curled up in bed reading them.

One of them was X-Men: Magneto Testament. All five volumes of the mini series in one glossy graphic novel.

It is an "origins story" that seeks to piece together and harmonize (as there are discrepancies) the various snippets of Magneto's origin from years of comic book story telling by many different writers.

WARNING: SOME SPOILERS AHEAD! But I have tried to be as general as possible and it is based on history so .... :-)

It has no typical comic superhero story-lines - no Magneto using his mutant powers etc ... well just once but he doesn't know he has this power ... But it's a great read as it strives to be as historically accurate as possible so it is a good historical graphic novel (unlike Dan Brown's DaVinci code!). It's a story of how Magneto (Max Eisenhardt) as a young boy learns to survive and fight to protect his family and the girl he fell in love with from his time as school boy and then in war torn Poland, and finally in Auschwitz-Birkenau. It does help make the Magneto character all the more human and conflicted and adds more depth into why he thinks the way he does.

Lots of great moments in the book.

Magneto does try his best to not retaliate despite all the injustice (following the advice of his teacher and friend who tells him "The Japanese say that the nail that sticks up gets hammered down."). But it is hard and when he snaps and retaliates, he indeed gets "hammered down".

How he loses hope and decides to die till he sees ....

And I like this conversation (Magneto's in red) with his fellow inmates (not that I agree with his reasoning but I can certainly understand and sympathize):

October 5, 1944:

The resistance sent a note ...

No. No more delays.

Kapo please ... they're BEGGING you not to fight.

The Germans already took the names of three hundred Sonderkommnado in Creamatoria IV and V ....

They'll kill THEM next week and the REST of us within the month.

You don't know that.

Don't lie to yourself. This is the END.

The resistance says if we revolt, the whole CAMP will suffer.


On Kristallnacht, my father wanted to fight, but then the Nazis might have killed the whole family.
In the ghetto, I could have gutted a Nazi murderer. But then they would have killed a hundred Jews in retaliation.
Two months ago, I could have pushed the Haupschafuhrer into the fire pit. But then they would have killed the rest of my work crew.

So to save everyone, I did nothing. And guess what? They killed them all anyway.

Okay enough spoilers except to say that there is a bonus true story with reproductions of actual artwork (portraits) by an artist who was forced by the Nazis to paint them in Auschitz. The artist is still alive today.

I wonder if Marvel will have the guts to make this it a movie like they did to tell Wolverine's origins. But then I doubt it ... stories about the Holocaust is not PC today and such a movie probably won't make much money ... :-(

I found this graphic novel it compelling and I intend to hold on to it a little longer before returning to re-read the in depth end notes and extras (many are not in comic book form but little essays).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ramblings on my mixed Kiwi Christmas holiday season

I think I have become more "kiwi" this Christmas holiday season ... I have always been fascinated with how things kind slow down here during mid December and January and how so many people disappear for their annual Christmas holiday breaks. Even church attendance drops as members take off for their holidays. Then there's the frantic holiday shopping sprees to take advantage of the huge Christmas and the Boxing Day sales. As I came to NZ in late Jan 2007 and went back to Malaysia with the family in 2007, I was not affected in 2007. In 2008, well, I was still in my super savings and frugal mode - with the purchase of a house and a whole lot of other commitments. Christmas holiday season was pretty quiet for me.

Then came 2009 and with my mum visiting and planning to stay for 5 weeks plus (and over Christmas too) ... and I knew it was the ideal time to experience a typical Kiwi Christmas holiday season. So with money saved and time blocked out ... we went for 2 holiday breaks - Rotorua as a base earlier in the month and a just before Christmas, a camping holiday. And also went to check out some Christmas and Boxing Day sales. Interesting experience!

I have never spent so much money in a month in my entire life (getting a car and paying the house down payments does not count :-)) and I found it liberating. Perhaps this is a good once a year thing to do. For those of you who know how stingy I am when it comes to spending money (unless it is ministry) ... I found a way to spend without feeling "guilty" .... Here's how I did it. I set aside the rebate money the government gives back to me for my donations to charitable organizations (church is one of them)!! I look at the rebate as extra money and a kind of "reward" for my giving! :-)
Okay ... what did I personally get myself for Christmas?

1. The satisfaction of going away on a real family holiday that is not paid for by someone else (like my mother or brother) or a half holiday (mostly work but some free time) that has to be negotiated as a condition for being a camp speaker.

2. I bought myself a $30 itunes card (to buy stuff for my itouch Christmas present).

3. A new 20 inch TV for our room (with a free DVD player) so I can watch my magic DVDs in peace! I really want to block time next year to work on my magic hobby cum ministry.
Getting a new TV was a tough one to get as I could not find a CRT TV. Did not want to get a 2nd hand one and wanted a new one but I found out that they hardly sell them anymore and the only ones I could find were display units. So I ended up getting an LCD TV. Salesperson was wee bit disappointed with me as I told her .... the cheapest one please and that is my final word. LOL. $300 ++ is a pretty good price.

4. A USB charger (for my itouch)

5. A bluetooth external speaker (cheapest one again) for my car as NZ has finally passed the law banning use of mobiles while driving. At first I did not think I would need one but I have noticed that of late I get a lot of calls when I am driving.

6. Was keen on a $97 samsung camera but was sold out as I did not do what most Kiwis would do. Wait in line early for the shop to open and then charge in! Not sure I want to do that. Maybe next year ... Though I did bring my mum early (first in line) for a Boxing day sale (shoes)

But it was also a mixed experience for me as this year it was pretty exhausting for me. My fault I guess as I pushed hard for a number of church based activities (which I am so pleased had so much enthusiastic support from my church members) - our games nights, outreach BBQ, carrolling etc ... and the fact that due to the holiday season I felt it unfair to ask others to take the pulpit so I had (and still have) a heavier pulpit schedule. Also so many unexpected emergencies ... It does get tiring to be on holiday and yet have a lot of work to do. Crazy juggling!

Today I am back at work to focus on some preparation for our watchnight service and my next Sunday sermon, plus handle a number of administrative and pastoral matters. AND interestingly, it feels good to be in the office! Too many distractions at home and snatching an hour or so every how and then to check my e-mail, call someone, make some notes etc is not the best way to work.

Okay back to work ...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Blessed Christmas everyone!

May you have a blessed Christmas and New Year!!

Christmas is quiet here for me in NZ and it is a nice change from the hustle and bustle I have grown accustomed to!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Intwernet archeologist finds friendster (The Onion)

I'm off for a camping holiday tomorrow with a group of friends from church. Am in church waiting (on my day off too!) for a geothechincal engineer who is almost 2 hours late!! A bit sore at him for asking me to come in early - 8;30 AM to open up for him and not or calling me to let me know he is running late

While waiting I found this hilarious piece on the Onion. I forsee more of such networks dying!
Yes he's here!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

My new favourite Christmas carol

This has been a quiet morning ... and so far, a quiet afternoon as well and I am thankful to God for this. It has enabled me to spend time correcting and working on my carol sheet chords as I am the sole guitarist for our carolling team (tonight and tomorrow afternoon / night). As I think of Christmas and our purpose for going carolling (to share the Christmas story via Scripture and song) to different groups on non Christians, I found myself wishing that we could add this carol onto our carol sheet. But it's not exactly a crowd favourite ...

Anyway this carol, "I heard the bells on Christmas Day" is fast becoming my favourite Christmas carol. The tune and lyrics have never failed to move me since I first took the time to sit down and listen to it (surprisingly only last year!). Last Sunday I closed my Advent sermon with this youtube clip of the song (below). Not my favourite version of the song as I like the traditional version but I liked the video adaption (images)

Here's a site that tells the story behind the carol

"Christmas Bells"
(The original poem, complete with all seven stanzas)

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Okay, back to work ... still need to put in more work on my Sunday sermon. And if I fail to blog for a while ... hope you have a blessed Christmas!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Freedom to Refuse Love - Henri Nouwen

The Freedom to Refuse Love

Often hell is portrayed as a place of punishment and heaven as a place of reward. But this concept easily leads us to think about God as either a policeman, who tries to catch us when we make a mistake and send us to prison when our mistakes become too big, or a Santa Claus, who counts up all our good deeds and puts a reward in our stocking at the end of the year.

God, however, is neither a policeman nor a Santa Claus. God does not send us to heaven or hell depending on how often we obey or disobey. God is love and only love. In God there is no hatred, desire for revenge, or pleasure in seeing us punished. God wants to forgive, heal, restore, show us endless mercy, and see us come home. But just as the father of the prodigal son let his son make his own decision God gives us the freedom to move away from God's love even at the risk of destroying ourselves. Hell is not God's choice. It is ours.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Information overload ... so thank God for prayer

Over the last few days I have been privy to many P & C matters. Matters that I cannot share with others. I started this morning feeling exhausted. I tried to turn in early but tossed and turned in my a tiring dream filled sleep. Too much on my heart and mind and it does not help that it is a super busy period with caroling, 6 sermons to preach in 2 months (5 more to go!) and a service to lead the worship (and I am also on leave for half of the time!). And then today I had two more P & C matters to listen to!! I feel so drained and my mind has been lapsing into occasional momentary "zombie like" ("catatonic" is too strong a term :-)) moments. The thought of having to deal with a couple more delicate P & C pastoral matters before the week is up is almost "paralyzing".

It is a huge privilege to be a pastor ... to be taken into a person's confidence and told things deep within a person's soul - sometimes for counsel but always for prayer. But it is hard because for some matters I wish I could talk to someone about the matters at hand - to gain counsel and support but ... there is a need for confidentiality.

It is times like this though that I have come to appreciate the privilege and gift of being able to go to God in prayer. It is an incredible feeling to know that God is with me and is listening to me, knowing my struggles of inadequacies ... and will do something about everything that concerns me.

Philippians 4:
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Interestingly, God laid it on my heart to preach a month ago on prayer and I hear my own message on prayer coming back to me and helping me "re-focus". And though a second sermon on prayer has been postponed, the work done on the message for the second sermon too is still fresh in my mind. God is good all the time!! And all the time, God is good!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Annual Church BBQ

Our annual church BBQ held on 5th Dec was a great success. Some photos can be found on our church website - click HERE. Then look for:

KCC BBQ December 5th 2009
The annual KCC BBQ was a relaxed affair, with members and neighbours meeting and talking over food and carols. The weather was lovely despite a week of rain preceeding it - praise God. Click HERE to see pictures of the

Was particularly pleased that among the many neigbours who came and enjoyed themselves, many were first timers and almost all our Hindu neighbours came! Was great too that the local High School teacher in charge of TT came with his wife.

Weather was taken care of in a marvelous way by God. One week of heavy rain ... and then came Saturday and the ground dried up so well we could sit and play games on the grass without even a tinge of muddiness

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'm back from my holiday

Got back from my family holiday earlier today. A wonderful but tiring holiday ... which I suspect is normal? :-) Will blog on it next week... Just too busy right now preparing for a busy next few days of ministry and my Sunday sermon needs fine tuning!

Till then ...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Busy (but hopefully enjoyable) week ahead

Despite the poor weather forecast, am hopeful for good weather for our church friends and neighbours BBQ tomorrow. Fingers crossed!! (in prayer that is ... :-))
Going to be a busy day preparing and running the BBQ. Thank God for an incredible team of people handling the BBQ - enthusiastic, energetic and well organized!

Glad that I am not preaching on Sunday but I am going to go and standby mode in case I need to as this Sunday's preacher's son got rushed to hospital earlier this morning. Quite a number of other emergencies and pastoral matters currently happening. Praying all goes well as I am going for a long planned family holiday on Monday.

Been playing around with my new itouch / ipod - my Christmas present from my mother! :-) Nice but still not used to it yet. Was fun using gmail on it though. So much easier to do a quick check of my emails.

Ah and my credit card details were stolen yesterday ... hmmm,.... so now no credit card for a week or so. Real pain as unexpectedly I need my credit card this week! *sigh*

I may not be posting for a while but "I'll be back!" :-)

P/S: Forgot to mention that I had a nice though short visit with Dr. Alex last week (he was in Auckland for a couple of days on the way to Ozland). Now I know another reason why he is into spiritual formation ... he can really draw all kinds of stuff out of me! (like a therapist) LOL!! Positive stuff lah ... no laments! And he gave me a stack of "Spiritual Formation the Run". Will enjoy giving them away soon!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My son Andrew got baptized on Sunday

My son got baptized on Sunday. Great day for the whole family especially since my mum's arrival on Saturday meant she was there for the baptism!

For more photos, click HERE (church website) and follow the link under Baptism Service November 2009.

Are you listening? Are you ready for Jesus (and Christmas)? (pastor's notes)

Just posted up my Pastor's Notes. Click HERE to read it.

Not been blogging much as I have been pretty busy. Lots happening and my mum arrived on Saturday :-) and my boys are basically on holiday as their exams are over. Steven has just one more paper tomorrow but it makes little difference :-)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Not Bumi, no uni?

What a sad story from Malaysian Mirror ...

A personal note: My eldest will be sitting for his final High School (Secondary school) exam paper today. Next year he hopes to enter university. He is a hard working intelligent young man, though he may not be a straight A's student. I am more than confident he will meet the criteria that will allow him the privilege to enter the New Zealand University of his choice - according to merit.

He has NZ PR status and is of Chinese ethnicity but he is not discriminated against. No wonder he loves NZ and even as a mid year teenager he wants to contribute and give back to the community.

Compare his lot with this poor girl, a Malaysian citizen but of mixed heritage (and supposedly the wrong heritage). I thought our diversity is our blessing? Click here for that!
And I thought the government is so concerned about the brain drain and want best minds and professional Malaysians working and living abroad to return to help the nation.

I would have thought it would be a smart move to makes sure the best minds of our current youth be encouraged and given places in our local universities?

Marina, you're no bumi. E-mail
Friday, 30 October 2009 02:02

KUCHING - For 17 years, Marina Undau lived a life of a child growing into a young adult.

School, her family and friends were a central part of her existence. She dreamt of doing her parents proud by furthering her education in a university and eventually getting a good job.

SPM came and went, and the 18-year-old science stream student of SMK Simanggang did well, scoring 9As and 1B last year.

But then she had a rude shock.

Not eligible

The education system said she was not eligible to enroll in a matriculation course, a prelude to varsity and a degree. The reason? She was, it seemed, not a bumiputra.

Born to an Iban father and a Chinese mother, Marina’s hope for a smooth climb up academia was dashed. With it went a part of her identity and the drive that made her a top scorer.

sarawak-semi-bumiputra.pngIn an interview with The Borneo Post at her house in Sri Aman on Wednesday, Marina expressed her feelings in Iban: “Aku amai enda puas ati nadai olih nyambung sekula ngagai universiti (I’m very sad that I can’t pursue my university education).”

Meantime, she has started Form Six in her old school as a workaround solution.

Upset and bewildered

Seated between her parents, Undau Liap and Wong Pick Sing, the disappointment in the teenager was plain to see.

Her elder sister never had a problem getting into a university. Her identity was never questioned and she is at present in her second year at Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang.

Marina is worried that a similar obstacle she faced after SPM awaits once she completes her STPM.

“If I get good results, what’s next?”

Marina’s father, Undau, would not take no for an answer.

When her application to enter matriculation was rejected, Undau, a civil servant, contacted the Education Ministry’s Matriculation Department in Putrajaya on June 23 and was told that her daughter was not a bumiputra.

Pressing on

Dissatisfied, the father wrote to the ministry on July 1. The reply he received shocked him, and it is bound to challenge the identity of many Sarawakians who are of mixed-parentage.

The ministry said in a reply on July 14 that Undau’s appeal was turned down because “the candidate is categorised as non-bumiputra (father is Iban and mother is Chinese)” based on a definition used by the Student Intake Management Division, Higher Learning Department and Higher Education Ministry.

Their definition is as follows:

• If either parent of a candidate is a Malay who is a Muslim/Orang Asli as defined in Article 160 (2) of the Federal Constitution, the child is considered a bumiputra.

• Sabah – If the father of the candidate is a Malay who is a Muslim/native of Sabah as defined by Article 161A(6)(a) of the Federal Constitution, the child is considered a bumiputra.

• Sarawak – If the father and mother is a native of Sarawak as defined under Article 161A(6)(b) of the Federal Constitution, the child is considered a bumiputra.

Despite the explanation, Undau is still dissatisfied and urged the government to clear up education issues that differentiate bumiputras from non-bumiputras.

He said the 1Malaysia concept would be rather hollow if education today continues to be polarised along such lines

“Why all the differences in the intake of students for higher learning? I am not questioning the Constitution, but what is the meaning of 1Malaysia if things like this happen?”

NRD and Native Court weigh in

The National Registration Department (NRD) headquarters here said it has received a flurry of enquiries about the bumiputra status of late.

An NRD spokesman said that in Sarawak, a person’s race is registered based only on the race of the father.

On whether such a person is automatically accorded bumiputra rights, the spokesman said: “We don’t actually handle that. We look at the race of the father. If the father is Iban, the child is Iban. If the father is Chinese, the child is Chinese. The bumiputra status comes under the Native Court.”

Native Court registrar Ronnie Edward said the bumiputra status was a “birthright” and the Native Court only hear cases where a person who was to be declared a bumiputra although his father was not a native.

He said Marina was not alone in facing this problem.

Edward believes the only way to clear the air is to amend the Federal Constitution.

“Article 161(A) of the Constitution has to be amended. The article says that in Sarawak, both parents have to be ‘exclusively’ a native,” he said.

Lighter side but with much needed messages (Comics)

I have been struggling the last couple of weeks with tiredness - due to a lot of unexpected things happening, a lot of ministry work, some major year end church activities and 4 more sermons to go for 2009, and pushing hard to make sure when I take my holiday breaks I am really on holiday!!

It hasn't helped that it has taken a long time for my eyes to readjust to my re-corrected prescription glasses, and having to get used to an extra pair that I need to use when I am using my PC. So many literal headaches the last couple of weeks and getting home feeling so tired and surviving on short power naps (they do help!)

Thank God that the last two days, headaches have been less intense and so I think the worse is over.

I like these set of comics! :-)

The Hidden Resurrection (Nouwen)

Another little gem from Henri Nouwen ... I like the insight in the 2nd paragraph ... 2nd line. How true ...
Only those whom he called by name, with whom he broke bread, and to whom he spoke words of peace were aware of what happened.

The Hidden Resurrection

The resurrection of Jesus was a hidden event. Jesus didn't rise from the grave to baffle his opponents, to make a victory statement, or to prove to those who crucified him that he was right after all. Jesus rose as a sign to those who had loved him and followed him that God's divine love is stronger than death. To the women and men who had committed themselves to him, he revealed that his mission had been fulfilled. To those who shared in his ministry, he gave the sacred task to call all people into the new life with him.

The world didn't take notice. Only those whom he called by name, with whom he broke bread, and to whom he spoke words of peace were aware of what happened. Still, it was this hidden event that freed humanity from the shackles of death.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Malaysia to one day export maids?

Interesting news report from the Malaysian Insider.

On a side note, it is amazing for me to note that so many of my former classmates are working and living outside Malaysia.

And I never thought I would be doing so as well ...

Malaysia’s next export: Maids?
By Lee Wei Lian

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 — The nation’s mismanagement of talent could have serious repercussions not only on its ambitions to become a high income economy on par with that of developed nations but could also lead it to fall further behind even its counterparts in the region.

Head of research at Corston-Smith Asset Management, Lim Tze Cheng, recently did a tour of South East Asian countries and came away sufficiently impressed that he feels Malaysia may soon be found lagging behind its neighbours that it was once ahead of.

He cited a recent visit to the Philippines, a current major supplier of maids, where he visited a company, International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI) and he drew comparisons to local port champions Westport and Port of Tanjung Pelepas.

He said that ICTS now draws 50 per cent of its revenue from eight profitable ports outside the Philippines, and noted that no Malaysian port company can boast of similar achievements.

“I give it a 70 per cent chance that Malaysia will be exporting maids in 20 years. I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens unless we get our act together,” he said.

Click HERE for the rest of the article

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Let us remember both Christ’s first and second comings (pastor's notes)

Posted up my latest Pastor's Notes. It's Advent period!! To read IT, CLICK HERE

p/s A carol that has to do with Christ's 2nd coming!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sign for me to reduce some weight?

This photo was taken 2 weeks ago - on my son Steven's birthday before we went to attend a friend's 60th birthday bash.

When I finally looked at the photo last week, I noticed that my tummy had become rather prominent. :-)

Of course I at first wanted to creatively blame the look on my shirt (as it is an older shirt) but that only emphasized the point further that I have put on weight. *sigh* So I have been trying to be good and not eat too much and do a bit more walking. Not sure how much the size of my tummy will go down but at least I have dropped 1 kg in just over a week (but I still need to drop a few more!)

But my mum's coming next week and I am looking forward to her cooking up a storm! *drool* ...especially since the weather is so much warmer meaning I can do some nice cooking with lots of oil using my electric wok outside on my back deck. Have not been able to do too much fried stuff as it would stink up the whole house. NZ homes are just not built for Malaysian style dishes (especially the deep fried stuff)*sigh*

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Who's the Boss? (pastor's notes)

Just posted up my Pastor's Notes. To read, CLICK HERE.

A Steven update 09

My youngest Steven is really enjoying life in NZ. He happily graduated from the Project K programme. That's a picture of him receiving his graduation cert.

Then he won the school doubles table tennis trophy. That's a picture of him with his partner Prasad (came to NZ from Cambodia when he was 5). The other photo is the new silver plated TT trophy donated by our church - The Kelston Boys School Table Tennis doubles trophy donated by the Kelston Community Church! I am very happy we are able to do this. And the boys are thrilled with the trophy as it is a much nice one that the Singles trophy. The funny part was our informal ceremony after the year end tournament where I presented the trophy (when not yet engraved) to Steven. He was not expected to win and they narrowly won based on number of points won.

He also got the Harlow Cup for Academic endeavour. It's a Year 11 (his year) special prize for all round excellence in the academic part of school life. He also won the Senior Music performance award (Year 11) for his drum performance in the music performance exams. (I think this is his favourite award as it has with it a
electronics shop gift voucher.

Thanks be to God to His abundant blessings!

Gardening photos Nov 09

Took these photos last week. My first year of trying to plant vegetables and other green stuff. First year I was here I only went as far as to buy a few young chilly and capsicum plants.

This year I decided I needed to try and do a little better - and each year add on a bit more. I was a bit adventurous as I decided to plant from seeds, which takes longer. Was later told it was mistake for 2 reasons.

1. I do not have a conservatory so it meant I had to plant later (best if they are planted in punnets indoors where the seedlings are protected and warm so when spring actually comes they will be of a decent size and can be transplanted to the outdoors). No wonder the seedlings from the shops are already of decent size at the start of spring! LOL - I am obviously pretty ignorant

2. We had an unusually cold spring so not enough sun and warmth and too much wind and cold making it hard for the plants to spring forth from the seeds and when they do, they struggle to grow. Ah ... now I understand :-)

Of course I also messed up by using the wrong kind of soil for my seeds - a bit too harsh.

BUT STILL ... I am pretty happy with the results so far.

My little green posts in the first photo are actually chilly plans (from my last year's seeds!!) The little black punnets on the left are additional seeds I planted later and this week they are coming up (was empty when I took the photos last week!) The bigger pots contains one of my bean plants (from seeds as well). I did not plant in sand (I just covered the top layer of soil with sand as I have lost of sand I was thinking it might help keep weeds coming up). The bigger plant on the right is a capsicum plant (bought it as a seedling).

The second photo has my cucumber plants (a couple of different types), a curry leaf plant (bought as a seedling) - strange looking and not like the curry plants I am used to but I thought why not plant it and see what it will taste and smell like? Far right are my chives (also from seeds!) And in the front row is my mint plant and some of my bean plants (got them mixed up so I am not sure which beans they are - but I will know once I see the fruit! :-)) Front row are some of my variety salad plants

The third photo are (back row from left) my tomato plant, my strawberry plant and some herbs from seeds that I have forgotten what they are! LOL. Will find out later! Front row is my mint plant and more bean plants.

The fourth photo is of my backyard sand pit which I am slowly converting into a vegetable patch. You can see onions, some salad plants growing well (back room). The green plant on the right (back room) is actually a potato! Second row is some salad and rows of beans! And right in the front is a whole batch of carrots (also from seeds)

The fifth photo brings a big smile to my face. It is one of feijoa trees that is the same size as when I planted it in late August last year but lots of buds and shoots and now flowers (meaning it is alive and well). This week, even more flowers :-)

Planting vegetables is very therapeutical.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hone Harawira got me thinking about Malay rights and Maori rights, their similarities and differences?

I am following this mini saga (side show) with interest as I see some parallels between Malay rights and special privileges (in Malaysia) and Maori rights and special privileges (in New Zealand).

First, from today's NZ Herald.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia publicly fronted over Hone Harawira's inflammatory email for the first time yesterday, saying his behaviour had been "unacceptable" and had prompted a flood of racist and abusive emails to the party.

She said neither she nor Pita Sharples would be attending a hui in Kaitaia today at which the party is due to decide on any disciplinary action against Mr Harawira. They would instead leave it to the party president and council members.

Mr Harawira had expected the co-leaders to attend and did not know they would not be until the media rang. He told the Herald it was disappointing that they would not be attending. He had understood today was chosen because it was the only day on which the co-leaders could attend.

It was to be the first time the co-leaders had met him since his email to Buddy Mikaere referring to "white mother f******" was made public.

It has resulted in at least 365 complaints to the Race Relations Commissioner. Both Mrs Turia and Prime Minister John Key expressed dismay at the impact the email and public reaction was having on race relations.

Click HERE for the rest of the report and related news links.

Of course there are numerous differences as I think the parallel to begin with ought to be more accurately "Orang Asli" rights and privileges as opposed to Malay rights and privileges since the the argument for these rights and privileges seems to based on indigenous people of the land. It seems to me that the many different Orang Asli tribes both from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak were certainly the earliest settlers in the current land called Malaysia, that can be traced historically.

Anyway, history politics, race relations and stuff like that are beyond my expertise so I won't even attempt to fool myself into pretending I understand in great depth the intricacies of the matter at hand.

Just to say that while many people in NZ are treading carefully so as to be as PC as possible, it is heartening to know that people of all races are not condoning this maverick Maori politician's words. Not just that, it would seem too that leading politicians from all the major parties, including the Maori party are united in condemning such words. Not a perfect country I know but it is to me something positive (I will not second guess the motives).

And also to say I wish that such sentiments are shared by Malaysians of all races and leaders of all the major political parties. We have too easily let off the hook leaders and people who make blatant hurtful racist remarks (and even worse, racist based threats)!

BTW, I actually do think there is a place for race based special rights and privileges in order to help give more opportunities to those from certain races who have been for generations neglected and are poverty stricken in order to help them break the poverty cycle. I guess my own issue or concern is how race based policies are implemented. Still thinking about this ....

Updated 13th Nov:

Maori Party leaders give Harawira the message - jump or be pushed

Click HERE for the story/

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hannah’s example of prayer (Pastor's Notes) and some ramblings

Just posted up my Pastor's Notes. Click HERE

Ramblings ...

I have found it both difficult and not so difficult to write a weekly Pastor'as Notes for my church bulletin. It is not required of me but I thought it would be a good thing to do in terms of personal discipline. The basic idea was that if I can keep coming up with something "fresh" each week, it would help me gauge both my "spiritual well" (one gauge as how well I am keeping myself spiritually fresh), and also whether I would be able to take on a heavier preaching load next year.

It has been difficult in terms of putting down my thoughts in writing and (of late) keeping the number of words down to make it fit into the allotted space. But not been so difficult in the sense that there is so much in the Bible (more of a too much material problem).

Interestingly the added benefit is that I have had more and more people come up to talk with me (appreciatively) about stuff I have written. I felt especially blessed on Sunday when one senior lady who joined us early this year when her former church (Baptist) closed down and told me that she appreciated not just my writing my Pastors Notes (seems her former church never had such devotions in their weekly bulletin) and how much they have helped her BUT also that she felt that I had out in a lot of time and thought into them. She knows I am busy and so she appreciated it even more.

Man, I love such encouraging feedback!! :-) Thank God for such old saints!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why the Hulk should be red not green (Spirtual Formation on the Run) and some not so spiritual ramblings too

It has been a tiring few weeks. One major reason has been a problem with my prescription glasses. *sigh* Makes my eyes so tired that I literally have to shut them. And of course it is hard to focus. Hope the new ones are ready soon. I tend to sleep a little earlier too as I literally can't keep my eyes opened but I dream a lot and get up often as my "brain is not happy" to be asked to power down when it has a lot on its mind :-) The human mind is really a wonder!

Anyway, I have finished this Sunday's sermon early, which is good as I have a lot to do this week. And this time I am not going to work harder in resisting the temptation to look at my sermon before Saturday. And since I have a birthday party on Saturday, that might help as well :-)

It's a good time to pause and do some re-centering. Been a while since I posted up anything on my slow but steady "run" with Dr. Alex's book so here's one ... under his 'HEROES AND SUPERHEROES" category"

Quick preliminary note ... I suspect when Dr. Alex wrote this particular chapter, Marvel had not yet come out with the RED HULK or RULK story line :-) Interesting read ... click HERE for a summary. I am still waiting in line for my turn (booked it online at my local library) to check out Vol 2 of the Red Hulk graphic novel compilation. Vol 1 was interesting. First the chapter from the book ... Spiritual Formation on the Run, not the Red Hulk!


The fictional comic book character, the Incredible Hulk, was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962. The Hulk is the alter ego of a mild-mannered physicist, Dr Bruce Banner, who is accidentally irradiated by gamma radiation. Whenever he gets angry, he will turn into the Hulk, a creature of pure rage that is invincible and incredibly strong. The angrier the Hulk gets, the stronger and bigger he becomes. I guess he is green because of the gamma radiation. Why green and not red? The English expression for becoming angry is "seeing red." A red Hulk will be more appropriate.

Many of us are aware of the beast within us. And of the thin veneer of civility that makes us respectable citizens. Occasionally, someone snaps and the beast breaks out. Then we are horrified by the violence done to persons and properties. Sometimes, it is not a person but a mob or a nation that rages. In the aftermath of the carnage, we are again reminded of the evil that lurks in the heart of human beings. In our hectic, chaotic and stressful lives, anger is a constant emotional companion. While some of us are aware of it, others are not. Many try to repress their anger. In doing so, they become impatient, irritable and aggressive. Repressing anger does not make it go away. Like energy, emotions can be converted into other forms. Repressed energy is converted into hatred, bitterness and anxiety.

"Please don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry" are well-known words from the Hulk television series. They turn up in every comic, TV programme and movie involving the not-so-jolly green man. What makes you angry? Could it be social injustice, exploitation of the poor, religious intolerance, and maybe abuse of political privileges? My reasons for getting angry are often not so righteous. I get angry because I do not get my way: Why do people not behave the way I expect them to? Why do projects not go the way I plan? Why does the universe not happen the way I want it to? I get angry and then I feel guilty. I remember what Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold" (Ephesians 4:26-27). Paul was referring to Psalm 4:4, "In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent'

I also remember an old Cherokee story named "The Two Wolves.' An old Cherokee was teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me;' he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego:'

He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too:'

The grandson thought for a minute and asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed:'

As I reflect on this story, I draw out some wisdom. The psalmist, the Apostle Paul and the old Cherokee did not deny the existence of anger or being angry. In fact, they all acknowledged it. They also taught me that the only way to deal with anger is not to feed it. The only way to deal with anger is to starve it of attention and other emotions. The Hulk is pure rage - violent raw energy - and red is an appropriate colour. Green reminds me of leafy meadows, peacefulness and calm. Methinks the Hulk should be red. Or even better, blue...

Reflecting on the subject matter of this chapter is not easy for me as I have a problem with anger. However at the same time has also been an encouraging time of reflection as while I am still an angry person by nature, there I can see by the grace of God that there has over the years been a clear positive difference in my life in the area of anger.

In a "tensed" counselling session last week, it was interesting that this person reacted in surprise when I mentioned that I have an ongoing struggle with anger. Made me realize when I had time to think about the reaction that it is nice to know that by God's grace, people notice!

I do agree that repressing our anger doesn't help. So one way I deal with my anger is to talk about it or let it out quickly so that it can be a controlled anger release. Another way is to try to tackle an issue that is making me angry quickly so that it doesn't build up. As the Hulk would say "You wouldn't like me when I am angry". Not that I destroy things but it is not a nice look for me :-)

But I do think it is okay to get angry for certain reasons. Of course the Ephesians 4 passage is an important reminder and guide that unless carefully managed, anger leads to sin. (BTW, it is another interesting coincidence that in 2 weeks time, my sermon text is Psalm 4). Over the years (as part of my very long term on-going life reflection :-)) I have come to the realization that God has used my anger (in response to certain situations) to help mold me into who I am today. For example, some incidents during my secondary school years that made me angry (soci-economic and racist attacks by a certain teacher against some students) became seeds of a dream to help build and pastor a multi-racial, socio-economically diverse church community. It encourages me that even outbursts of anger can be used by God for some good.

I also like that old Cherokee story. It has remained with me from the first time I read it umpteen years ago - sure fire sign of a good story. One great lesson I learnt from Henri Nouwen helps. it is to focus on the lovely (i.e. Jesus) and everything else will fade away in comparison. For me, counting my blessings too is a related helpful way that eliminates or at least reduces any anger build up.

But proper rest too seems to play a big role in how I manage anger. If I am tired, I find it harder to keep my anger in check. Reminds me that as a human being, I cannot separate my physical, emotional and mental condition from my spiritual.

One aspect that I disagree with Dr. Alex is ....

... the Hulk should not be red but remain green. LOL.

The Green Hulk may get angry and smash things but essentially he is violent not because he is evil and wants to destroy things. He has the mind of a child and just wants to be left alone but everybody except a handful of people do not understand or respect his wishes and keep trying to imprison or hurt him out of fear. The only time he was deliberately evil was in the World War Hulk storyline when he was driven by rage and wanted revenge for the death of his wife (yup, he actually fell in love and got married).

BTW, if you are truly bored and have loads of time on your hand, and you want to figure out the HULK storyline, click HERE. Be warned, it is confusing as there are many manifestations of the Hulk. I have scanned though the article before but wasn't that interested as I hated the Grey Hulk story lines.

The Red Hulk on the other hand is maliciously evil and selfish, deliberate in his wanton destruction.

Let the poor original Bruce Banner Hulk remain green. Though the various story lines may at times be questionable in quality, he at least is essentially a character I can feel sorry for :-)

I had a good laugh yesterday when I watched an episode of ENTERPRISE that I taped the other day. It introduced a new race, the Orions, evil to the core (they deal in piracy and the slave trade). Their skin colour? Green! Their features? Ogre like. Their temperaments? Nasty and violent. But the funny part was seeing the huge almost 500 lb wrestler, Paul Wight, a.k.a. THE BIG SHOW as an Orion slave trader.