Happy 61st National Day, Malaysia!


This year’s National Day celebration means a lot more to Malaysians as it is the first ever Merdeka celebration under the Pakatan Harapan government. There’s a good feeling not seeing any sign of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (former premier) from this year’s celebration onward. Instead, we got to see Tun Dr Mahathir back as the Prime Minister, accompanied by our first ever female Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Wan Azizah and her husband, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (who will be the next Prime Minister) sitting at the front row together with the King (Yang Di-Pertuan Agong) at the National Day Parade held this morning at Putrajaya.

We certainly deserve more fireworks this year as the bad old regime that has been putting the country in bad shape and slow growth for the past 60 years since independence has gone. It would be glad if we never get to see their return again unless they do really go for a serious change (but I don’t think that will happen). The spirit of patriotism has never been this greater and we can call ourselves proudly as Malaysians now from 9th May this year onward after that historic election that we will never forget.

It has been a long journey for Malaysia to come to this state 61 years after we gained independence from the British. The country is growing steadily ever since. The country’s development pace can be much higher if we have this ‘change’ earlier. Anyway, it’s better late than never. My wish to this ‘New Malaysia’ on this National Day is that it will prosper and excel to much greater height and brighter future ahead (more advanced infrastructure, stronger currency, no more race-based policies and mentality, and a more harmonious society).

On my part, I’m back to Malaysia from Singapore to enjoy this National Day holiday with all Malaysians, and most importantly, to spend some quality time with my family in this slightly longer weekend. I had an awesome seafood buffet dinner with my whole family at Gobo Chit Chat Restaurant in Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur just now. There is a variety of food and its seafood selection is impressive. The awesome part is you can just grab a bucket, fill it in with your favourite seafood and order it to be cooked with any one of the different types of sauces available. They will be served to your table shortly after. Other dishes typically found in any buffet (sushi, steak, rice, pasta, salad, dessert, etc) are also offered. The price is not too high (RM140 for a person) too. I was so full until I felt like I can’t move at all.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

 

 

 

Advertisements

Asian Games 2018 update so far and a movie review for ‘The First Purge’.


Asian Games 2018 currently on-going at Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia is reaching its midpoint by now a week after its opening ceremony. China topped the medal tally so far as expected with over 70 gold medals and will stay comfortably on top till the end of the games. Japan is in second now with 34 gold medals while South Korea is in third with 24 gold medals. Iran is on fourth place with 14 gold medals so far while the host country, Indonesia is also doing very well (as predicted too due to home advantage) by being placed at 5th position currently with 10 gold medals.

Where is Malaysia? Malaysia is right now at 19th place with only 1 gold medal, 4 silver medals and 1 bronze medal. We are not performing well so far and it’s quite a challenge to reach our target of getting 7 gold medals. I’m hoping that we could break into the top 10 position but looking from the current situation, that is highly unlikely. We have to further lower down our expectation and it would be fine for Malaysia to just repeat the same achievement they have four years ago at Incheon 2014 with 5 gold medals. It looks like something is needed to be done urgently to bring our national athletes to adequate standard. If not, we will just be in a continuous downhill at international sporting events like this.

I’m only paying attention to badminton. Unfortunately, most of our national badminton players have already been eliminated before even reaching the quarter-final stage. They even failed to clinch any medal for team events. Only two Malaysian men doubles pair are left standing as they manage to get into quarter-final. Lee Chong Wei is not participating in this Asian Games 2018 as he currently quits playing to recover from illness. This means not only that we lost a huge chance to win a gold medal in men single event but this decision also means that Lee Chong Wei will never get to win Asiad (Asian Games champion) title in his career as he is too old for the next edition of the games in 2022.

Let’s move the focus from sports to movies now. ‘Weekend for movie’ is a good plan for me and that applies for this weekend too. There are not many good movies in release currently. I’m more excited for movies next month such as ‘The Nun’, ‘Johnny English Strikes Again’ and ‘The Predator’. I have not much option this month and so I went for ‘The First Purge’. It is the fourth film in The Purge franchise (I have watched all the first three movies in this franchise) and it is a prequel depicting the origins of the first annual ‘Purge’, a 12-hour span once a year in which all crime in America is legal including murder. For this prequel, this ‘Purge’ is being seen as an experiment and it only takes place in Staten Island, New York City.

I enjoyed the first movie in this franchise very much and I’m amazed by the idea of this ’12-hour murder spree’ thing in a film. The first movie is good as it builds up a lot of suspense in a confined environment (the whole story sets entirely in a house and is about the parents protecting their children from a group of outsiders who wanted to purge and broke into their home). As more sequels are coming, they are no longer decent as the direction changes from small-scale intimate setting and suspense building type of movie to large-scale shooting and brainless violence. Excessive unnecessary scenes of people dressed in masks and weird costumes and parading through streets are added in the sequels including this latest film. For me, those are rubbish. I am not here for massive action or gangster kind of movies and I am not here either for weird cosplay on the big screen. I’m here for intense adventure of hide-and-seek game and survival-driven film plot. Recent films in this franchise sway away too much from this more engaging approach. I only get this portion in the last quarter of this ‘The First Purge’ movie when a group of hired killers moved to the apartment block where the main characters are hiding to kill everyone in the block while the main lead character is going in for the rescue. The first half of the movie is very boring and draggy. The momentum only starts to build in the second half and that is very slow. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘The First Purge’ a total of 6.0. If there are more sequels coming in for this franchise, I hope they listen to my opinion here.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Spotlight on Indonesia as Asian Games 2018 began.


Yesterday is a very auspicious day as its date is 18.08.18. It is also picked as the day for the opening ceremony of the 18th Asian Games; Jakarta Palembang 2018. For the first time in the history of the games, the games are being co-hosted in two cities. In the original bidding for this edition of the games, Hanoi is declared the winning host city after defeating Surabaya, Indonesia. However, not long after, Hanoi dropped out of the hosting duty due to financial constraint. Indonesia is then selected to host the games and two cities have been brought forward to the task; Jakarta (its capital) and Palembang.

This is the second time Indonesia is hosting the games. The country previously hosted the 4th Asian Games back in 1962 at Jakarta. How many times have Malaysia hosted Asian Games? None. It is quite an embarrassing fact that my country have not hosted it before. We have the sports infrastructure, we have all the other supporting facilities, we have the manpower, and we have the capability to do so and yet we have not done it before. Our glory in hosting mega sporting event stopped at 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur. That was already 20 years ago.

Malaysia should look seriously into bidding for another large-scale international sporting event and should start with this Asian Games. I don’t think we will need to spend a lot since we already have most of the infrastructure in place. The KL Sports City (Bukit Jalil complex) is capable of handling most of the games. Our neighbouring country, Thailand had hosted it four times and we are still at zero. We should really set sight on hosting Asian Games. Hangzhou (China) has been selected to host the 2022 edition will Nagoya (Japan) is also chosen to host the 2026 edition. Malaysia should come forward with huge effort to bid for the 2030 edition. And then, let’s carry on the tide by bidding for 2032 Summer Olympic Games (need to work together with Singapore for a single bid on this one).

Anyway, best of luck to all the participating 449 Malaysian athletes in 2018 Asian Games. We are among the ten largest contingent in this games and we should be having no problem to get into top 10 position in the overall medal tally too. We have to do much better than our previous participation in the Incheon 2014 edition that only won 5 gold medals, 14 silver medals and 14 bronze medals for a 14th place finish.

Jakarta Palembang 2018 opened yesterday with an opening ceremony that saw a unique entrance moment by Indonesian President, Joko Widodo on a cool motorbike ride. Next, the synchronization of the performers is something to be praised and I always love this kind of performances where a huge number of performers are involved to make the synchronization works beautifully. By the way, I only watched the highlight of the ceremony (not able to watch the whole thing as I couldn’t find any platform to watch the whole ceremony online). A huge stage setup of a volcanic mountain, waterfall and vegetation became the centrepiece of the show as the volcano forms the cauldron for the symbolic torch lighting segment. There were also some singing and performances showcasing Indonesian culture. The ceremony ended with typical fireworks display.

The games will run until 2nd September 2018 (day of its closing ceremony).

(Images and video in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Movie review for ‘Skyscraper’ and ‘The Meg’.


So far in the nearly 4 months I have been here in Singapore, I have visited quite a number of places in this small island already in the weekends when I’m free from works. I have been to Marina Bay Sands (the must-go place and an icon of Singapore), its neighbouring Gardens by the Bay, Pinnacle@Duxton (amazing view from its rooftop deck), Resorts World Sentosa and Universal Studios Singapore. As for popular streets here, I have been to Little India, Chinatown and Bugis Street (just went here today). For malls, Raffles City, Vivo City, Plaza, City Square Mall, Aperia Mall, and Tampines Mall are my go-to spots for movies, shopping or meals. It’s just 4 months and I felt like I couldn’t find any more new interesting spots here to hangout in the weekend. Singapore is really small.

Besides than heading out, staying indoor and watching some movies (be it old movies or the new ones) is my next favourite thing to do. Sometimes, I like to replay the movies I have watched countless of time before when I have no new film to watch. Fortunately, there are two new movies that I got to watch this past week and here’s my quick review to these movies as usual.

‘Skyscraper’ is an action film starring Dwayne Johnson (I kept seeing him in films in recent years, he is one big blockbuster actor and is one big man physically too) as a former FBI agent who must rescue his family from a newly-built skyscraper, the tallest in the world, after it is taken over by criminals and set on fire. The film starred Neve Campbell as his wife (aah, I remember her from her iconic role as Sidney in ‘Scream’ film series), Chin Han, Rolland Moller, etc. The movie features a fictional 1100m high , 225-storeys tall skyscraper in Hong Kong called as ‘The Pearl’ where the story sets in. The film is quite entertaining and is particularly suspenseful and intense on several scenes such as when Dwayne has to jump over to the burning sksycraper mid-air from a crane, him crossing the fast-moving turbine near the top of the tower, and him almost falling off from the edge of the building only to be saved by his prosthetic leg, etc. The movie is mostly about Dwayne. He is big, but ‘The Pearl’ is much bigger. How about the other characters, his family? I couldn’t felt a thing for them. This is what the movie fails in. Probably lack of character’s development and emotional depth in that aspect. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Skyscraper’ a total of 7.0.┬áIt gives thrills and chills especially to those who are very afraid of height and are watching this movie on the big screen.

The other new movie I have watched recently is ‘The Meg’. ‘Meg’ is the short name for megalodon, and if you do not know what it is, then here’s the definition; megalodon is a shark species that went extinct 2.6 million years ago. This giant shark (can grow near to 20m long) is several times much larger than the great white shark (only about 6m long and is considered massive in present day) and is regarded as one of the largest and most powerful predators to have ever lived. Well, back to the movie. The film is about a group of scientists on a mission to explore what may be an even deeper section of Marina trench (deepest part of the ocean). They encounter a 23m long megalodon shark in the process, and you would probably know what’s going to happen after that (the shark is going to terrorize and devour all these tiny humans). The film starred Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, etc. The movie is fine. I do like shark movies generally (except those super low-budget crappy shark films) and this ‘The Meg’ is generally a fun popcorn movie to watch. It has nothing new (in story wise) except it introduces the extinct megalodon into film for the first time. Well, it’s actually hard to be doing new things in this kind of movie. ‘The Meg’ actually gets away from some usual cliches (that’s good) but still couldn’t run away from some other ones already seen in the past shark films. For example, when the crew successfully brought down the megalodon when the movie is only halfway through, I already knew that was not the megalodon. It’s hard to bring surprise anymore to people who have watched plenty of monster movies in the past. Anyway, ‘The Meg’ is still a nice entertaining movie with great visual effects as expected from its big budget production. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘The Meg’ a total of 7.1.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

UN Studio + Cox Architecture won the competition to design Australia’s tallest building.


A competition to design Australia’s tallest building in the city of Melbourne made headlines recently as it has drawn entries from some of the world’s best known architects. BIG, MAD, MVRDV and OMA architects have made it into the shortlist but it was UN Studio + Cox Architecture‘s scheme that has won the competition as announced recently. This international design competition calls for a mixed-use development at Southbank, Melbourne by Beulah International developer and is set to break ground in 2020.

Their scheme which is nicknamed ‘Green Spine’ features a pair of twisting towers where greenery will burst through the facing facades of both towers as they rise and twist towards each other. The skyscraper is then crowned with a publicly accessible botanical garden. The taller tower will reach 356.2 metres and become the country’s tallest building (currently Q1 Tower in Gold Coast is the record holder with 322 metres in height). This taller taller houses the residences while the other shorter taller (252.2 metres high…still tall though) contains offices and hotels.

Plenty of public spaces, school, cinema, library, restaurants, bars and shops filled the base of the tower that spreads out from the terracing facade above to meet the ground. The natural materials forming the greenery and outdoor spaces blends harmoniously with the glazed facades. I do like this winning scheme. We already have twisting sksycrapers in many parts of the world and it would be nice to see Melbourne having one too.

Here below are the other 5 shortlisted designs:

‘Urban Tree’ by MAD Architects + Elenberg Fraser – A 360-metres high ‘mountain village’ surrounded by foothills, with a hotel shaped like an illuminated cloud near its peak. The tapering tower will have its glass facade pierced with trees.

‘Lanescraper’ by BIG + Fender Katsalidis Architects – Two 359.6 metres high interlocking blocks with voids created between that contains public spaces and lanes of different themes (Melbourne is famous for having many happening lanes on the ground and BIG attempts to have them on the sky in this scheme).

‘Propeller City’ by Coop Himmelb(l)au + Architectus – A 335-metres high tower shaped like a tri-blade propeller and is topped with a penthouse with its own private landscape garden and pool.

‘Stack’ by MVRDV + Woods Bagot – A single tower of 359 metres high that features different textures to its facade to represent the various stacked neighbourhoods. The center of the tower has a hotel’s pool with an underwater glass window.

‘Vertical City’ by OMA + Conrad Gargett – A skyscraper with a simple form and a higher emphasis to the foot of the tower that features a colourful take on the traditional vaulted markets and arcades found in Melbourne. A vertical city will be built between arches supporting a rainbow-coloured facade.

References:

https://www.dezeen.com/2018/08/15/unstudio-cox-melbourne-australias-tallest-building-architecture/

https://www.dezeen.com/2018/07/27/big-mad-mvrdv-oma-unstudio-and-coop-himmelblau-shortlisted-melbourne-skyscraper/

https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/australia-tallest-building-intl/index.html

 

 

 

Not many good series to catch this year.


Over half of the year is gone and it’s time to evaluate on how TVB series are performing this year so far. Not good as expected. I have watched 7 series and none of them stood out. Only two are considered good and they are ‘Daddy Cool’ and ‘Succession War’. The others are almost reaching to the point that they can be categorized as awful and boring. After the ending of ‘Succession War’, I couldn’t find any more interested new drama to watch. ‘The Story of Yanxi Palace’ has Charmaine Sheh in it but it’s a China’s production (not into it) while ‘The Stunt’ has a very weak cast and I don’t want to see Shaun Tam again that fast after ‘Succession War’.

I have no choice but to fill my evening’s time with past dramas released early this year. I went for ‘Who Wants A Baby?’ series and I had finished its whole 20 episodes in less than 4 days. The series starred Chris Lai, Ali Lee, Rebecca Chan, Angelina Lo, Tsui Wing, Samantha Ko, Stefan Wong, etc and is about the hardship and struggle of a mum (Ali Lee) and her husband (Chris Lai) in raising a newborn daughter from an unexpected pregnancy that totally changes her previous way of life. The family dealt with a lot of issues like financial burden, stress of taking care of a newborn, conflict with in-laws, etc.

This isn’t the drama that will get you hyped or excited for the next episode. The story is all about baby upbringing and how the parents cope with it. No climatic points, no intense and heart-stopping scenes (unless you count in the plenty of moms screaming and baby crying scenes in this), and no plot twist, death or unusual directions. It’s just a simple drama with some warm and moving moments. Ali Lee did a good job portraying as the emotionally charged first-time mum while Chris Lai also contributed a solid performance as her husband. On the other hand, the veterans are really outstanding here such as Angelina Lo (she has been getting a lot of more important supporting roles in recent years) and Rebecca Chan (long time didn’t see her on screen). Their presence add spices to the story. So, in overall, it’s a mediocre series that will be forgotten very soon and will not get any attention in the awards season end of this year. Out of 10 points, I will rate ‘Who Wants A Baby?’ a total of 6.6.

So, who is expected to win TV King and TV Queen end of this year? There are news saying that the Singapore’s Starhub TVB Awards (usually held in October) and Malaysia’s TVB Star Awards (usually in November) are cancelled this year, which means that there is only one awards left; Hong Kong’s TVB Anniversary Awards. The reasons behind this decision are that TVB are now reducing its expenditure oversea and they found that these oversea awards are getting lesser popularity and lesser meaning to the winning artistes. If that’s the case, TVB should open their TVB Anniversary Awards’ voting to all oversea Chinese too since now they have no other platform to choose their personal best.

Nevertheless, the intense race for best actor and best actress are still on. However, so far, there isn’t any really outstanding performance I can remember this year. A lot of people are rooting for Alice Chan to win best actress from her Princess Tai Ping role in ‘Deep In The Realm Of Conscience’ but I disagree. There is still a huge room of improvement for her and I find that she tried too hard in her voice and facial expression in that drama that makes her acting unrealistic. Mandy Wong is a dark horse contender from her role in ‘Threesome’ and I couldn’t comment on this because I didn’t watch that drama. Ali Lee shown a lot of effort in ‘Who Wants a Baby?’ but I don’t think that is sufficient to be crowned best actress. Now, I would point out Selena Lee from her performance in ‘Succession War’. She nailed that role. Although it’s not a heavy role in a male-dominated series, but she did very well and making the usual kind-person role unusual and gives life to it. TVB should recognize her and reward her with at least the ‘Most Favourite TV Female Character’ if not the best actress (she has very low chance here) this year.

 

As for best actor, many are thinking of giving it to new face this year and that directs the attention to Carlos Chan who are praised for his performance in ‘Daddy Cool’. I think it is too fast to give him this big award. A ‘Most Improved TV Male Artiste’ award will be enough for him. There’s a long bright road ahead for him. Wayne Lai has won best actor three times and it’s kinda boring to see him winning again. Ruco Chan from ‘Succession War’? He is good in that drama but not a memorable work and also he has won once before not long ago. Steven Ma then…from his emperor role in ‘Deep In The Realm Of Conscience’? Well, it’s good to reward him finally but his performance is also nothing spectacular and the overall drama’s poor quality is obstructing his way to claim TV King title. I guess, we will have to wait for the remaining series to be released and so there will be more options later on. Currently, no one really deserves the best actor and actress yet based on the performances in the first half of the year.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

August’s first weekend back in KL.


Currently, I have been heading back to KL twice a month ever since I started working in Singapore three months ago. That’s quite a frequent travel back home. Some people do told me that once you stayed here in Singapore a little longer, you will eventually travel back home to Malaysia in lesser frequency soon. I will see if that happens to me as well. There’s a high probability for that to happen because it is actually very exhausting to travel back home and return all within the short typical 2-days weekend by the long bus journeys. There is no worry for that if you are traveling by plane but that is super costly.

So for August, I am planning to head back to KL on its first and last weekend. And so here I am now back at my home, chilling in my bedroom after having a nice dinner and durian as supper. This is most probably my final chance of eating durian as the present durian season is going to end very soon. I have tried D24 last month and I’m having Musang King just now. I prefer D24 more because of its slight bitterness but I also like Musang King from its very yellowish colour and thicker and creamier texture. Whenever there is durian, I will enjoy it. The ‘king of fruits’ rules.

Weekend in KL is very short as the 2 bus journeys are already taking away a lot of time. I would prefer to get some of the things done or get to meet up with my friends in KL. However, I couldn’t do much in these short 2 days. In fact, I only have one day to spend in KL technically. I only can spend the weekend playing with my two little nephews who are getting naughtier and more disobedient as they grow, get a free haircut from my sister, check out my letters sent to my home when I was away, and had durian as mentioned earlier.

There is not even a time for movie as watching movie here in Malaysia is so much cheaper than in Singapore. Talking about movies, the recently released animated film ‘Incredibles 2’ had just grossed over US$ 1 billion in worldwide box office. The movie is the 36th film to cross the 1-billion milestone and is only the 7th animated film to do so. So far, it has accumulated over US$ 1.005 billion. It rides on the success of creating nostalgic emotion to all the adults now who once watched the first ‘The Incredibles’ animated film back in 2004 as a kid (me included). However, I still have not watch this sequel yet. I’m not going to miss it anyway. For this year, 4 films have joined the 1-billion dollar club and they are; Black Panther (US$1.346 billion), Avengers: Infinity War (US$2.044 billion), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (US$1.248 billion) and ‘Incredibles 2’ (US$ 1.005 billion).

On the other hand, I have been following the updates of the Malaysian badminton team in the on-going Badminton World Championship in Nanjing, China. We only have our independent shuttler, Liew Daren left in the competition after all the other Malaysian players crashed out in earlier rounds. However, he lost out to Kento Momota from Japan in the semi final match today mostly due to the injury he had yesterday. Anyway, it’s already a huge achievement especially for him. He is an instant Malaysian star for a short moment though.

FW729480_KL17_270618_AXIATA-lpr.jpg

It is too bad that our best hope, Lee Chong Wei couldn’t participate in the championship this time due to health complication. He has never win World title before (same goes to Olympic title and Asiad title). That’s just very poor luck for him in all these years in his career.

 

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)