31 July 2007

Mabuhay from Manila

Greetings from Manila.

Landed here in Sunday and will be here for the next few days. Did not bring my camera, so no photos to be posted. Another hectic stay in Manila just like last month.

24 July 2007

The good wins - The Harry Porter book saga

Finally, the 3 bookstores agree to sell the book Harry Porter and the Deadly Hallows for RM69.90. As I have guessed, what will the publisher do with the stock of books that were printed and order. Instead of a total loss, the bookstores might as well sell the stock of book to cut their losses.

Incidentally, the controversy over the Harry Porter book also sparked off an article in The Star mentioning that the hypermarkets should not have sold the book at such a low price. The bookstores are not making much money as they are only selling books, magazines and stationery as compared with the hypermarkets are selling everything under the sun. When people go over to the hypermarket to buy the book, they would have also visit the hypermarkets to get other stuff. The loss in profit due to the low price in which the hypermarket is selling would be covered by the profit derived from the sale of other items in the hypermarket.

Read the article below:

Price discount a marketing ploy

American entrepreneur King Gillette famously invented the loss leader business model, in which razors were sold at a loss so that his company could profit by selling disposable razor blades.

IT WAS around about two o'clock on Saturday afternoon by the time I finally made my way to the Twin Towers.

And it was with very little resolve that I then sauntered softly up to the top floor of Suria, to what has long become my second home.

Kinokuniya Books was heaving. The queue to the check-out was longer than I had ever experienced and everyone in it was, by now, at least on chapter two.

I waited patiently for my turn. In my hand were a Bloomsbury children’s edition (I could never understand the pretence of having an edition with an “Adult” cover) and my 20% discount voucher.

I stood in line, with neither the excitement nor the fanfare of those around me. Having grown up with C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, the Star Wars movies, and more recently, Philip Pullman’s trilogy of Dark Materials, I found myself barely affected by the ensuing phenomenon.

Regardless, the purchase of this last volume was obligatory. It was something that needed to be done. It was a lot like reading Proust. You force your way through to the bitter end unsure of why you’re even doing it because you’re too busy pretending that it’s a classic.

Whether it is a rite of passage or a necessary evil, I am yet to decide. But it is however, a conclusion to that which I had started almost ten years ago.

Now getting my hands on the RM109.90 (RM87.92 with my 20% discount voucher) copy of the book was easy enough. Queues and crowds aside, it proved to be a simple enough undertaking.

Alas, this was not the case for many Malaysians. Because if you had woken up on Saturday morning with the hope of buying yourselve a copy of the book from your local MPH, Times, Popular, or Harris bookstore, you would have been greatly disappointed.

The four major bookstore chains, in what was supposedly an act of protest, refused to stock the latest book on the boy wizard following an announcement that the Tesco and Carrefour hypermarkets would be selling the book at RM40 off the cover price.

Because, instead of facing up to their competition, the four major booksellers in the country decided to throw a strop. There was huffing and there was puffing. There was pouting and there was the stomping of feet.

But most of all, there were the thousands of disappointed customers – most of them children.

Now when running a business, it is probably a good rule of thumb to not turn away potential customers. Pushing them in the direction of your competitors is also not common practice. Maybe it’s time to rethink your day job.

We Malaysians do not read. If we do, it’s usually some trashy magazine we’re clutching while crouching in a corner at the local Borders. We hardly ever buy books. If we do, it’s usually for school.

It’s because we as a society haven’t done enough to instil a reading culture. It’s because books are too expensive, and therefore a luxury that many cannot afford. It’s because libraries are far and few between, and even these are under-funded and under-stocked.

But, for some reason, through some perfect combination of clever marketing, global hype, and mediocre storytelling, this “scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy” seems to have awakened the slumbering bookworm in many Malaysians, an achievement to which the four major booksellers in the country have effectively turned their backs on.

People want to read. All they’ve done is make it that much harder. Maybe now they’ll stop their whining about how unprofitable the book business is.

To MPH Bookstores, Times the Bookshop, Popular Bookstores, and Harris Bookstores, I only have this to say: “Bad form!”

The reason the hypermarkets can offer such an “indiscriminate” price discount is really just basic marketing strategy. The American entrepreneur King Gillette famously invented the loss leader business model, in which razors were sold at a loss so that his company could profit by selling disposable razor blades.

In the case of Tesco and Carrefour, they could make a loss on the books in an effort to draw customers into their stores where they are likely to buy other goods. It is much the same with McDonald’s and their value meals, with movie theatres and popcorn, and with Sony and their PlayStation 3.

Now, what Tesco and Carrefour have done isn’t new; and it isn’t by any means noble. I do however applaud them for their effort, as cheaper books mean more people can afford to read.

23 July 2007

Darren's journey to the Optician

Last Monday, my son Darren approached me and said "Papa, are you free on Sunday?". I said yes and asked him the reason for asking me. He said that he could not see clearly the writing on the white board in his class and requested me to bring him to the Optician to have a check on his eyes.

On Saturday I brought him to an optical shop at Leisure Mall, the same shop where I did my glass to have his eyes checked. I requested the shop assistant to check Darren's sight to see whether he is short sighted. The machine came out with a reading that he was short sighted on both his eye. The level of short sightedness was minimal and he could afford not to wear corrective glasses at the moment. Darren said that he wanted to get a pair of glasses to give him the comfort when he is attending his classes. So I agreed to make him a pair of glasses.

Since the machine reading was a guide of his short sightedness, he would require to be examine by an Optician to have an accurate reading of his short sightedness. However, the refractor room was occupied, so he began to choose a frame for his glass. Wow, I was surprise by the glass frame that he has chosen. Some were way too fashionable for him to wear in school. I am sure that the teachers would disagree with those fashionable type of lens frames. In the end he found one which is simple and practical.

Off he went into the refractor room to have his eyes examine by the Optician. The readings of his short sightedness by the Optician were a bit higher than that read by the machine. So, the reading was confirmed and there was stock of the lenses in the shop. The lenses can be fitted to the frame within an hour's time.

Darren having his eyes examined by the Optician

An hour later, he was trying on his new glasses and he looks good with them. Here a photo of him with the glasses.

He is now happy wearing his glasses in school and he told me that could now see clearly what is written on the white board of his class.

Ferrari 430 Scuderia

The new Ferrari 430 Scuderia will be unveile at the Frankfurt Motor Show by none other than Micheal Schumacher. The new Ferrari is a 4308cc V8's 510 hp at 8500 rpm and has all the F1 software with a new traction control system.

Ferrari 430 Scuderia has the same 510-horsepower V8 engine as the 430 coupe and spider models.
Ferrari's latest, the 430 Scuderia.

New Ferrari 430 Scuderia will be presented by racing champion Michael Schumacher at the Frankfurt show in September.
Ferrari 430 Scuderia is a lightweight model, 220 pounds lighter than the standard F430 and intended for "passionate and sports-driving-oriented clients."
But the technology is intense, including Ferrari's Superfast F1 software that cuts gearshifts to 60 milliseconds.
The cost of the new 430 Scuderia will likely be in the USD200,000 range.

Ferrari 430 Scuderia is a minimalist version, with few interior "trimmings," says Ferrari.

Battle of the good and evil

The battle between the bookstores and the hypermarkets over the book Harry Porter and the Deadly Hallows was like a battle between the good and evil.

But the question is who is the good and who is evil?

Well in the beginning the good were the bookstores who took the liberty to take advance orders for the last book of the Harry Porter trilogy at RM109.90). But the bookstores' evil intentions were exposed when the hypermarkets started to sell the same book at a much lower price (RM69.90).

The battle continues when the bookstores realised that their evil intentions would backfired. They went for a press release to say that they no longer would sell the book and all activities related to the book release were cancelled.

However, were the hypermarkets the hero or the villains? Well I would say that the hypermarkets were the hero in selling the books at a discount of RM40-00 per book where more people can afford to get a copy. Now I start to wonder what will happen to all those unsold books that the bookstores have ordered. Will there be another price war???

15 July 2007

Die Harder Harry Porter!!

I killed two movies in a day. None of my family members were interested in watching Die Hard 4.0 I decided to watch the movie on my own since I was lazing on Saturday. At the same time, I planned to take the family out to watch the latest Harry Porter trilogy, Harry Porter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Die Hard 4.0 is where our hero John MaClane (Bruce Willis) saved his country from a criminal plot is in place to take down the entire computer and technological structure that supports the economy of the United States. As in the other Die Hard trilogy, you expect to see car crashes, flying objects (cars, planes and helicopters) and blood. There was no stop action from the start to the end of the movie. However, there are some unconvincing parts where the movie magic did not manage to excite me. There was a scene where the helicopter was chasing and shooting his car where he smash into a fire hydrant. The water from the water hydrant shot up to the helicopter can dislodged the shooter from the helicopter to the ground. How accurate and lucky could such an incident happen??? But I was impressed by our Miss Maggie Q. She plays the part of Mai Linh, the girlfriend of the villain Gabriel. Wow, she is a tough cookie and can really match John MaClane in fights using her kung fu skills. But the best part was she managed to stay on to a SUV where John MaClane drove into her all the way to the elevator shaft!!

At night, took the family to watch Harry Porter and the Order of the Phoenix. Since the movie was just premiered on July 11, getting tickets for the movie would not be easy which is why I decided to buy the tickets early when I went to watch Die Hard 4.

As usual the battle between Harry Porter and Lord Voldemort still has not come to an end. The movie started off with Harry Porter was almost expelled from Hogwarts for using his spell in front of a muggle. This time around we have a "bitch" running Hogwarts. She's Professor Dolores Umbridge who was sent by the Ministry. This time around there was a kissing scene between Harry and Cho Chang. The best part was when Ron and Hermoine asked Harry how was the kiss. Harry replied "It was wet!!!". As in the previous Harry Porter movies, the ending is where we see the good battle with the evil. All hell broke loose where Sirus Black was killed and Professor Dumbledore was the only one who can hold back the attacks of Lord Voldemort. In this movie, we learned about the prophecy that in order for Harry Porter to survive, Lord Voldemort must die or the other way around. So the next offering of the Harry Potter trilogy will give us the anwer on who will die and who will survive. If you cant's wait, go and get the book which should be in the bookstores on 21 July.

08 July 2007

Transformer - The Movie

The long awaited Transformer - The Movie premiered on 26 June. Before the movie premiered, my son has requested that I take him to watch the show. But I was on assignment in Manila when it premiered in KL. The moment I landed in KL on Saturday, he made a date with to take him to the movie. The next day we wanted to see the morning show at 11.00 a.m. so we took off to TGV in Cheras Selatan. There was already a long queue lining up to get their tickets. By the time we reached the box office, there were only singles tickets left. We left the place empty handed and disappointed.

To make it up to him, I promised that we will see the movie by the end of the week. So on last Friday (6 July) I managed tickets for the midnight show which starts at 11.30 p.m.. Naturally, being the eve of the weekend, the tickets were selling fast. I managed to secure 6 tickets for the family.

In the end.. wow.. it;s a great movie. The special effects were great and the sound was superb. Now I understand why there were so many people queue up to get a ticket to watch it.

More movies to wacth.. Die Hard 4 the continuing series of the Die Hard series and the new Harry Porter trilogy will premiere on July 11.

07 July 2007


Today, July 7 of the year 2007. All the numbers in the calendar came aligned. So what so special is today.

Well today I went for my company's 777 Bowling Tournament. All staff were requested for teams of 3 men and 3 women to battle it out at the bowling alley. The event was held at One Utama, where we have booked up all the 36 bowllng alley lanes to accommodate all teams participating in the events. It has been more than10 years since I have even bowled. It was out of fun where I was asked by my other colleagues to join in the event. Each of the team member have to bowl a total of 3 games. By the end of my first game, my left leg was already aching. In the even, I managed to pull through all the three games scoring slightly pass 100 points for each game. I did not stay for the prize giving ceremony since I know I am not one of the winner.

I need to rush back to bet myself prepared for another wedding dinner. Coincidentally, today is an auspicious day to get married or a date which can be easily remembered. According to the papers today, fifty couples are set to wed at the Buddhist Maha Vihara in Brickfileds while 121 couples will do so at the Klang Hokkien Association. Today's dinner was on the invitation of one my colleague, Rachel Tan.

Seven also plays something in my life too. I was born on 17 of the month, see the number seven. And I was born in the year of 1961, 6+1 = 7.

01 July 2007

Photos from Manila

To commemmorate the centennial of Dr Jose Rizal's martyrdom, the National Centennial Commission and the Department of Tourism have introduced Rizal's shoeprints embedded in the pavement and plaeed markers in areas where he passed on his way to Bagumidayan from his cell in Fort Santiago. Marking his last walk to martyrdom this centennial freedom trail memorizlizes his brave path to martyrdom in early hours of December 30, 1896 and symbolizes the birth of the Filipino nation.
One of the soldier statues around the Fort

Fort Santiago
My daily drink from the hotel's buffet bar
The entrance of Intramuros
Red water lily

Hectic week at Manila

Flag of The Philippines at the Manila Bay area

It has been a week since I last posted that I was in Manila. My schedule there was tight as the team went to Manila to kick start our project there. Meetings were held with the Filipinos the whole day. We normally reached back to our hotel late at night. There was no time to go sight seeing or shopping even though the shopping malls were very near to our hotel.

In Manila, I stayed at the Renaissance Makati City Hotel which is located in the financial district of Manila City. In front of the hotel is the Greenbelt area.
Before I was in Manila, I thought that Greenbelt is a park but it turned out to be a large area of complexes of malls and restaurants where there are Greenbelt 1 to 4. Connecting the Greenbelt area with overhead bridges are other shopping complexes like The Landmark, Gorlietta and SM Mall. The shopping malls and restaurants in the area are packed with people even on weekdays. On weekends, the crowds got bigger.

One thing I like about about the Makati area that I was staying is that there is a long overhead bridge that interlinks all the places that I require to go like to the shopping malls and even up to the office in Ayala Avenue. Walking on the overhead bridge was safer and at the same time the I can view of the streets below which is packed with traffic. But the weather in Manila is very humid. A fifteen minute walk from the hotel to the office would make me sweating even though it is in the morning or evening.

Along the route to Fort Santiago taken from taxi

Another thing that caught me was the level of security in Manila. When I arrived at the hotel, my luggages were required by a dog and I was required to go through a metal detector before going into the hotel lobby. Similarly, security guards were stationed at the entrances of the shopping mall and office building. There would a door for entrance and exit and everyone entering the malls of offices were subjected to the screening and some with metal detectors. The security level made me feel like Manila is under high security threat but the locals are used to these style of life.

It was only on Saturday that I managed to have sometime to go around Manila. My flight was in the afternoon and I thought I would go to an interest tourist spot for a few hours before I head to the airport.

The local guidebooks recommended to go to Fort Santiago where the shrine of the Philippines national hero Jose Rizal lies. I engaged a taxi to take me there and he offered to take be to the other Intrauros area for Peso1,000 (about RM80). Along the way I managed to snap a few photos from the taxi. The first stop was at the Rizal Memorial, then to Fort Santiago and the church area. The whole journey took me about two and half hours. Some of the photos are are here while the bulk of it are posted at my Flickr photo album.
Rizal MemorialFort Santiago

My flight back home was at 3.30 p.m. and I checked out of the hotel at noon reaching the airport in half an hour. From what I understand from the taxi drive there are three (3) Ninoy Aquino Airports which consist of 3 different terminals but only 2 of the terminals are function. The newest terminal which is nearer to the city was not opened due to so dispute between the Government and the people. When I reached the airport there were many passengers there in long queue going at the entrance. All luggages are to be screened at the x-ray machine before going to the check in counters. All the check-in counters were also queue with people. MAS opened up 5 counters for checking 2 flights going to Kuala Lumpur. After the check-in process, then I have proceed to the counter to pay the airport and security charge which cost me Peso 750. Then to the Immigration counter before going to the last security check before going to the board hall. I was caught by surprise at the security check. Every one was required to take off their shoes and belts which are required to be x-ray. Wow, this is the first country that I been to where the security check was so strict and stringent.

The flight to KL was 3 hours and 50 minutes and I reached from the airport at about 9.00 p.m.