26 June 2008

Super GT Race in Sepang

I think I am rather late in posting this. The event happen on Sunday, 22 June 2008. Well, one of my colleague had bought his ticket to attend the Japan Super GT at Sepang on Saturday and Sunday. He was accompanying his friends who were there to shoot the Race Queens of the Super GT and the Super GT cars too. He told me that that he would be going on Saturday and may not go on Sunday. I did not choose to join him because the cost of the ticket was rather high and I had an appointment to attend a clean-up exercise at Ulu Yam with my other colleagues.

On Sunday, I called him to check out whether he would be going for the Super GT and I was trying my luck just in case he do not want to go, I will take his ticket to see whether I can shot some photos of the Race Queens and the cars. Sadly, he told me that he enjoyed himself on Saturday and his friends had invited him to go to Sepang again on Sunday. He then told me me how exciting it was and I even saw some of the Race Queens photos he had posted in his Facebook.

I hesitated and changed my mind to go to Sepang for the photo shoot. I invited my son to join me and my daughter, Carrie over heard my invitation to his brother. She said that she would want to join me. Hearing that his sister will be going for the event, he changed his mind and also want to come along.

I grabbed by camera equipment bag and we were on our way to Sepang International F1 circuit to attend the Super GT. Nearing to the circuit there were many cars which were also heading the same way as I am. Parked the car and headed to the ticket counter.

Guess what? The cost of tickets was EXPENSIVE!! Ticket to the Grandstand cost RM150-00 each, luckily, Carrie brought along her student card and managed to get a discount on the cost of the ticket to RM75-00, another RM75 goes to the ticket for my son.

Then, the cost of the entrance to the Pit Walk where the Race Queens and the GT cars will be parked at the pit stops. That ticket will cost RM100-00 each. I thought of just buying one Pit Walk ticket while my son and daughter would wait for me at the Grandstand. Both of them were reluctant and wanted to go for the Pit Walk too. Wow.. there goes another RM300-00. Altogether, I have to foot out a total of RM500-00 for 3 Grandstand tickets and 3 Pit Walk tickets.

Off we go into the Grandstand where at the entrance was the Nissan stand. There were a few units of Nissan Fairlady and some GTRs. Nice, good looking and fast.. I LIKE IT!!

Then the time came to go down the tunnel from the Grandstand area to the pit stop. I was surprise and amazed by the number of people that have bought the Pit Walk ticket all carrying their cameras to shoot the cars and queens!!!

Once the gate of to the pit stop was opened, all of us (me and the rest of the people that are holding cameras) rushed to the pit stop where the Race Queens were there waiting to greet us. They were standing in front of the GT cars waving, smiling, posing, carrying their umbrella while all of us rushed to snap their photos. It was a mad, mad rush where I needed to pushed into other people sweating and smelly bodies to be able to get a nice angle to shoot the Race Queens. There were instances where I have even crawled my way under these people just to be as near and close to get nice shots of the Race Queens.

The result.. spectacular as you can see from the photos of the below.

After the Pit Walk session (which lasted for 40 minutes) we all have to get back to the Grandstand to get ready for the start of the feature races and the Super GT race. The first feature race was the Aston Martin race and the second was the Formula V6 (F1 wannabe cars).

Then at about 3.50 p.m. all the Race Queens were lead out on to the track and the GT cars were all fired up. The GT cars left the pit stop and took a warm-up lap around the circuit and came back to the Start/Finish line where the respective Race Queens were standing. Another round of photo session took place, this time it was called the Photo Safari (which cost another RM100), where the photographers are allowed to be on the track snapping away the cars and the Race Queens while they were "parked" on the track.

After, the Super GT race event started in a rolling start, there were so many cars which I could not count and I do not know who are the drivers and their teams. The engine sound was loud and ear piercing. Took some photos of the GT cars and I decided to go home since we did not have lunch at the circuit due to the exorbitant cost of food at the circuit. We left the circuit at about 4 p.m. where the race was scheduled to end at almost 7.00 p.m.

It has been an experience attending the race firstly because it has been the most expensive event that I have ever paid and secondly I was able to shot those Race Queens who if they did not come to Malaysia, I would have to go to Japan to have to chance to shoot them.

Here are the photos of the Race Queens that have the most number of views at my Flickr Photo Album:

17 June 2008

Photo shoot at Maju Junction

A "photo week" was held at Maju Juntion from 12 June to 15 June 2008. The event was held by some photographer school, photographers and some photographic supplies. I only found out about the event when I saw some photos posted by my friend SooHK.

After checking out the events that would be held, I went over to Maju Junction on Sunday (Father's Day) to see what I can shoot.

There was a model shoot contest and there was also opportunity for the attendees to try to shoot some models using professional lighting system and backdrop.

I managed to shoot some photos of some Malays models which I will post it here. For more photos, please visit my Flickr Album.

I hope that these photos will be enjoyed by my Malay readers and friends (especially Mazhar!!)

12 June 2008

Fuel Subsidy

As you are aware the price of petrol went up and up by a whopping 78 sens a litre. From Rm1.92 the new price was RM2.70. I posted my comments when the price of petrol went up by 30 sens (follow this link). The cost of my car's full tank was RM100, with the increased in fuel price, the cost a tank full has gone up to RM140.00.

The impact.. prices of everything also went up and up.

I received an e-mail on the issue of fuel subsidy. Have a read and judge it for yourself:

Petrol Subsidies

WHAT IS NEVER MENTIONED IN Mainstream Media like
NST/TheStar/Utusan/BH are these facts....

Malaysian PerCapita Income USD 5000


Singaporean PerCapita Income USD 25000

Further The Star made a comparison of prices in Thailand , Singapore and Indonesia.

For Thailand it is quoted at RM3.90/liter, however are they aware that in Thailand new cars are cheaper than Malaysia by RM10,000? They pay only one life time for their driving license? No renewal fee after that? Also that goes for road tax as well? And do The Star also aware that you can drive all the way from Hadtyai to Bangkok on a six lane highway without paying any Tolls ??!!

Whereas here in Malaysia you have to pay yearly renewal for road tax, driving license and TOLLS, TOLLS, TOLLS!!!

For Singapore how can you quote RM 5.20 ? Please quote in Singapore Dollars because they are earning in Sing Dollars. You might as well say Europeans are paying RM10/liter. RM5.20/liter = Sing $ 2.20/liter, still cheaper than Malaysia in view of fact that Singapore is not a crude oil exporter. Are you saying that you fill up petrol in Singapore by paying Ringgit?

In economy, dollar to dollar must be compared as apple to apple. Not comparing like durian in M'sia is much cheaper than durian in Japan!! Of course-lah, Japan is not durian producer!!! Comparing Malaysian durian with Thailand durian make more sense!!

For Indonesia we might say is cheaper there at RM2.07/liter but compare that to their level of income!

Now, let us compare the price with OIL PRODUCING countries:

UAE - RM1.19/litre
Eygpt - RM1.03/litre
Bahrain - RM0.87/litre
Qatar - RM0.68/litre
Kuwait - RM0.67/litre
Saudi Arabia - RM0.38/litre
Iran - RM0.35/litre
Nigeria - RM0.32/litre
Turkmenistan - RM0.25/litre
Venezuela - RM0.16/litre
MALAYSIA - RM2.70/litre

RM 2.70!!! Individual perspective:

As of last month a Toyota Vios would 'cause a damage' of about RM 89,000.
In the international market, a Toyota Vios is about USD19,000

USD 19,000 = RM 62,700 (using the indicative rates of USD 1 = RM 3.30)
That makes Malaysian Vios owners pay an extra RM 26,300.
This RM 26,300 should be cost of operations, profit and tax because the transportation costs have been factored in to the USD19,000.

RM 26,300/ RM625 petrol rebate per year translates to a Vios being used for
42.08 years.

I do understand that the RM 625 is a rebate given by the government, but it
also means that one has to use the Vios for 42.08 years just to make back the
amount paid in taxes for the usage of a foreign car. Would anyone use any kind of
car for that long?

Now with these numbers in front of us, does the subsidy sound like a subsidy
or does it sound like a penalty? This just seems to be a heavy increment in our
daily cost of living as we are not only charged with high car taxes but also with
a drastic increase in fuel price.

With all the numbers listed out, I urge all Malaysians to join me in analyzing the
situation further.

Car taxation is government profit, fuel sales is Petronas' (GLC) profit which also
translates into government profit. The government may ridicule us Malaysians
by saying look at the world market and fuel price world wide.
Please, we are Malaysians, we fought of the British, had a international
port in the early centuries (Malacca), home to a racially mixed nation and WE

We know the international rates are above the USD130/barrel. We understand
the fact that the fuel prices are increasing worldwide and we also know that
major scientist are still contradicting on why this phenomenon is happening. Some
blame Bush and his plunders around the world and some blame climate change and
there are others which say petroleum 'wells' are getting scarce.

Again we go back to numbers to be more straight forward
1 barrel = 159 liters x RM2.70/liter = RM 429 or USD 134
On 1 hand, we are paying the full cost of 1 barrel of crude oil with RM2.70
per liter but on the other hand the crude oil only produces 46%
of fuel.

Malaysia sells crude oil per barrel at USD130 buys back Fuel per barrel at USD134. And
not forgetting, every barrel of fuel is produced with 2 barrels of crude oil.

1 barrel crude oil = produce 46% fuel (or half of crude oil), therefore 2 barrel crude oil = approximately 1 barrel fuel In other words, each time we sell 2 barrels of crude oil,
equivalently we will buy back 1 barrel of fuel.

Financially, Malaysia sell 2 barrel crude oil @ USD 130/barrel = USD 260
= RM 858 then, Malaysia will buy back fuel @ USD 134/barrel = RM

Thus, Malaysia earn net extra USD 126 = RM 416 for each 2 barrel of crude sold/exported vs imported 1 barrel of fuel !!!
(USD 260-134 = USD 126 = RM416)

So where this extra USD 126/barrel income is channeled to by Malaysian Government?????????

Another analysis:

1 barrel crude oil = 159 liters. 46-47% of a barrel of crude oil = fuel that we use in our
vehicles. 46% of 159 = 73.14 liters.
@ RM 2.70/liter x 73.14 liter = RM197.48 of fuel per barrel of crude oil.
This is only 46% of the barrel, mind you. Using RM 3.30 = USD 1, we get that a
barrel of crude oil produces USD 59.84 worth of petrol fuel (46% of 1 barrel).
USD 59.84 of USD 130/barrel turns out to be 46% of a barrel as well.

Another 54% = bitumen, kerosene, and natural gases and so many more.

And this makes a balance of USD 70.16 that has not been accounted for.

So this is where I got curious. Where is the subsidy if we are paying 46% of
the price of a barrel of crude oil when the production of petrol/barrel of crude
oil is still only 46%?

In actual fact, we still pay for this as they are charged in the forms of fuel
surcharge by airlines and road taxes for the building of road (because they
use the tar/bitumen) and many more excuse charging us but let us just leave all
that out of our calculations.

As far as I know, only the politicians who live in Putrajaya and come for their
Parliament meetings in Kuala Lumpur (approximately 60+ km) are the ones to
gain as they claim their fuel and toll charges from the money of the RAKYAT's TAX.

It is so disappointing to see this happen time and time again to the Malaysian
public, where they are deceived by the propaganda held by the politicians and the
controls they have over the press.

Which stupid idiot economist equates rebates for rich or poor with the cc of
the vehicles? An average office clerk may own a second hand 1300cc proton Iswara
costing $7,000 (rebate = $625) while the Datuk's children can own a fleet of
10 new cars of BMW, Audi and Volvo all less than 2000cc costing $2 millions and
get a total rebate of $625 x 10 = $6,250! Wow what kind of economists we are
keeping in Malaysia...wonder which phD certificate that they bought

Misleading concept of Subsidy:

The word "subsidy" has been brandished by the BN government as if it has so generously helped the rakyat and in doing so incurred losses. This simple example will help to explain the fallacy:


Ahmad is a fisherman. He sells a fish to you at $10 which is below the market value of $15. Let's assume that he caught the fish from the abundance of the sea at little or no cost. Ahmad claims that since the market value of the fish is $15 and he sold you the fish for $10, he had subsidised you $5 and therefore made a loss of $5.

Question : Did Ahmad actually make a profit of $10 or loss of $5 which he claimed is the subsidy?


Ahmad makes a profit of $10 which is the difference of the selling price ($10) minus the cost price ($0 since the fish was caught from the abundance of the sea).
There is no subsidy as claimed by Ahmad.

The BN government claims that it is a subsidy because the oil is kept and treated as somebody else's property (you know who). By right, the oil belongs to all citizens of the country and the government is a trustee for the citizens. So as in the above simple example, the BN government cannot claim that it has subsidised the citizen!

Darren Turned 12 Today

My son Darren turned 12 years old today. I took leave today to arrange to go with him to the National Registration Department (NRD) to do his MyKad. Last minute changes to his school schedule did not allow us enough time to go to the NRD to do his MyKad. We have to do it tomorrow where I would need to seek his class teacher's permission to release him from his afternoon class. Furthermore, tomorrow is Friday the 13th and Muslim's prayers day where the NRD is only opened from 2.45 p.m. to 4.45 p.m.. It will be a rush job going there to queue up to do his MyKad.

Dareen has grown tall since last year. You can see his photo taken 2 years ago on his birthday from this link. He is taller than all the members of the family except me. He has already reached my ears and I think he can be taller than me soon.

Tonight, his birthday was celebrated by the family with a cake and a gift from his mum and his sisters.. a SWATCH watch. Me? Well I have not got him any present yet because I could not think of anything I can get him for now. He has also everything a boy of his age wants.

Finally, HAPPY BIRTHDAY , son!!

10 June 2008

Firefox 3.0 is coming

Download Day
I have been a Firefox fan all the while. The browser has multi tabs to enable be to navigate to more pages in in single screen. IE 7.0 can do the same after they saw what Firefox can do but loading a tab in IE 7.0 is a real hassle and it looks clumsy and heavy.

Firefox 3.0 is coming and I have tried the Beta version of it. However, I uninstall it after a try. Why? Because I used many add-ons in the current version of the Firefox and the 3.0 beta version does not offer any add-ons or themes.

Now for the coming event for the launch of Firefox 3.0, preparation are underway to break the Guinness World Record for the most number of download in 24 hours. A pledge page has been set up to allow interested people (like me) to be informed of this historiacal event of achieving the Guinness Record.

You can sign in your pledge at the following URL:

Download Day

MARK YOUR CALENDAR 17 JUNE 2008 - Firefox 3.0 Launch Date

05 June 2008

Prices of everything goes up, except your salary

First it was the price of rice and foodstuff. This was just the beginning of other cost of things to rise. Yesterday the Government announced that the price of petrol will go up by 78 sens tp RM2.70. I was waiting for my son at the school when I received and SMS from Mary of the fuel price increase. Luckily I still have half a tank of petrol in my car and would not want to rush to the nearest petrol station to fill up my tank.

On my way back home, I can see that all the petrol stations were jammed with cars all lining up to fill up their tanks. A savings of 78 sens on a full tank of petrol would be savings of some money for some if the car is being used to travel long distances on a daily basis.

The price of fuel is just one of the many things that was declared by the Government that the price has risen, other things include other petroleum products like diesel and NGV. The other important thing was the cost of electricity will also rise. This would impact 59% of the total consumers.

As compared with our neighboring countries like Singapore and Thailand, the cost of fuel is still cheaper.

With an adjustment in our income, the rising cost of living means that most of us have to watch what we spend.

03 June 2008

After 1,500 km I am back home

Continuing my adventure in Kota Bahru. After the shower and a a rest.. I meant a real rest I ventured out again. The time was about evening almost 5.00 p.m. I decided to take a trip to PCB to see what are the happenings there. I was in for a surprise again.. no parking space. The beach was filled with people from everywhere, there were may cars with registration plates from KL and Penang. I managed to park away from the beach and took a stroll to see what are the activities that were going on.

People were flying kites, taking their bath at the beach, picnics and most of all there were many people are the stalls next to the beach. The stores were selling fried things like, fish balls, crab stick prawns and crabs. All dipped into a flour mixture and then deep fried.

Time to set off back to KB. While driving back I saw the sign "Zakini Nasi Kukus" (Zakini Steamed Rice). This was the place that I had I steam rice and curry the last time I was in KB. The store was originally located at the stadium and it has since shifted. I decided to have my dinner there. The food remained unchanged with the steamed rice and ayam perchik. Nothing much was left at the food counter and the food was cold. I took a piece of ayam perchik, ayam goreng and two pieces of pineapple. Plus a can of soft drink, it cost me RM10.60, rather expensive and the taste was not as good as the last time I had it at the stadium.

I decided to go back to the hotel and knock off early since I will have a long journey for me to travel from KB to Jeli crossing over to Gerik.

The next morning, I woke up at 7.00 a.m. and got ready to check out. I took off from KB and headed along highway number 8 towards Machang. From Machang junction I turned to Tanah Merah where I intended to have breakfast and to fill up my tank. I stopped at a road side stall where I had my favourite Nasi Dagang. Filled up my tank and I was on my way along hightway number 4 heading towards Jeli. Jeli is located right smack in the middle of Kelantan.
From Jeli I moved on to Gerik where I stopped at the Pulau Banding jetty to snap some photo of the bridges that crossed the man made lakes.

My journey was to travel to Gerik to Lenggong, but I saw the sign of the place Baling. Baling is the famous town where the peace treaty was signed between the then Prime Minister with the Communist Part of Malaya. I then decided to change my routing to follow the communist journey.

Reaching Baling was a dissapointment. Nothing much there except some rolls of shops. I then decided to travel to Kulim where I would join the North South Highway at Butterworth. The drive from Baling was long and reaching Kulim, I managed to join Buterworth via the Kulim Butterworth highway where it joined to the North South Highway. From there, I was thinking to take a trip to Penang Island but on second thought I changed my mind because I would want to drive home.

From Butterworth I drove to Ipoh where I had lunch at McDonald's and then did some shopping at Ipoh city before I drove off back home. I called home to say that I will be back at 6.00 p.m. for dinner.

I finally reach home at 6.00 p.m. as promised and back to my familiar and wonderful bed.

The whole journey for the past 3 days and 2 night took me around the Peninsular of Malaysia crossing the states of Pahang, Trengganu, Kelantan, Kedah, Pulau Pinang, Perak and Selangor. The whole trip was about 1,550 km from my trip meter reading. A hectic and enjoyable one. Now I am thinking whether I want to travel toward south to cover the states there.

Here is a map of my journey. The routes I have taken is in red.

01 June 2008

My Great Malaysia Journey

I have a week long to time to kill, what should I do? It has been a long time since I have taken a drive around Malaysia. I have been travelling overseas for the past one and a half years and even holidays with my family is going overseas (the last trip was to Bangkok in December 2007).

Taking a week off, I planned to travel by driving to the east coast to Kuantan, and then work myself up north to Kota Bharu. I took another challenge to drive across the East-West highway. All this was planned out within 2 days.

I am travelling alone this time around because my wife and daughters are busy with their work and studies. My son is very impatient when travelling in a car. I offered him to join me and he declined my offer.

For accommodation, I managed to get a free night at Renaissance Hotel in Kota Bharu from the points that I collected for my Marriot rewards. I did not make any accommodation bookings in Kuantan (where I planned to stay for the night) because I was not sure whether to stay in the town or the beach.

So I started my journey on Saturday morning (31 May) heading to Kuantan. I was in for a surprise. It has been almost 7 years since I step foot in Kuantan. My last trips there were during the 1990 when I doing audit of the Kuantan branch and my last trip there was with my family to beach resort in 2002. The East Coast highway has been completed and the road was good. I managed to speed along the highway at an average speed of about 150km/hr where some stretches I managed to go as high as 180 km/hr. The trip from KL to Kuantan last time took about 3.5 to 4 hours, took me just under 1.5 hours this time.

I was very disappointed when I was in Kuantan, it was a Saturday and the town was like deserted. There were not many people and cars around town around. Even when I went to the beach area, there were not people too.

So I decided to travel along the shore to hunt down some beach resort. All beach resorts were packed due to the school holidays.

Not so many people at the beach at Kuantan

Passing pass all the beach resorts, I decided to have lunch at Cukai, Kemaman for the famous stuffed crab at Tong Juan Restaurant. I reached there right smack during lunch time where all the table were packed. Luckily for me, I managed to get a table for myself. I ordered a stuffed crab, kangkong with belacan and a lemon chicken. I noticed that the size of the stuffing in the stuffed crab have shrunk and it does not taste as good as the last time I took it. All three dishes plus a drink cost me RM24.00. Reasonable? Well, looking at the rising cost of food, I would say that the price was rather on the high side for a lunch at this place but then again, this is a famous restaurant.

Tong Juan Restaurant at Cukai. Famous for its stuffed crab

Beach at Kemaman

After lunch I thought of traveling up to Kuala Trengganu where maybe along the way I may stop over to stay at any of the beach chalets along the way. However, to my disappointment, most of the beach chalets were not to my liking other than the Awana Kijal, but I know that that it has been fully booking.

I have left with no choice but to carry on my journey to Kuala Trengganu hoping that I stay in a hotel at the town. However, I faced another problem. Kuala Trengganu is the host for SUKMA or Sukan Malaysia where it is the nation’s “Olympics”. Before reaching Kuala Trengganu, I was caught a long traffic jam from Marang. I first thought that the jam was caused by the road works that were being done. The traffic jam carried on from Marang to Kuala Trengganu which is about 25 km long. Reaching Kuala Trengganu, I found out that the jam was caused by the high volume of traffic that was in Kuala Trengganu for SUKMA. All hotels were all booked up and there were no rooms in town.

I am frustrated because there were no rooms for me to stay for the night and I was caught in the long traffic jam for more than 1.5 hours. So what to do next, it was already 5.30 p. and it is getting dark soon. I decided to call the Renaissance Hotel in Kota Bharu to check with them whether there are any vacant rooms for the night. The Reservation told me that the hotel was also fully booked for the night. Why? It is the school holidays and it is a weekend and there were many Malay weddings where the relatives of the couples came by the bus loads and took up all the rooms.

My only choice now is to sleep in the car if I fail to get a room. So I decided to drive another 150 km from Kuala Trengganu to Kota Bharu hoping to get a hotel room there. I stopped over for fuel and the attendant told me that there were no rooms in Kuala Trengganu since Friday and many people were also caught in the same situation as I was. I then asked where is the nearest place I can get a room before reaching Kota Bharu. She said I could try to get a room in Besut.

After filling up my tank (I have travelled more than 500 km on my first full tank) and it has already turned dark, I drove north to Kota Bharu. The road was dark but it was a thrill to drive in the dark. I reached Besut district where the town where there could have hotel rooms is at Jerteh.

Guess what? All rooms in Jerteh were also taken up.. all because of the Malay weddings that were going on. I stopped over at Kentucky shop to have my dinner before carrying on my journey to Kota Bharu.

I reached Kota Bharu at almost 10.00 p.m., I decided not to look for accommodation for the night and decided to sleep in my car. The next question is where can I safely park my car and sleep? I saw the sign, “Pantai Cahaya Bulan(PCB)” ( Moonlight beach) in Kota Bharu and though maybe I could park my car on the beach and sleep in my car. When I reached PCB, I was in for a surprise, there were so many food stalls just next to the beach. The beach was separated from the stalls by a long granite boulder wall. I can find a place to park my car, but it is definitely not a place to sleep because there are so many people around.

I decided to park and sleep at the basement of the Renaissance Hotel. At least, it would be safer place and I would not be disturbed. I brought along two pillow where I managed to pull down my driver seat and sleep. Sleeping at the basement was not too comfortable, it was stuffy and hot because I did wind down the car windows and the basement was warm too. So I need to turn on the car air-cond to cool down before switching it off to sleep. I think I did this for about 4 times. Luckily I managed to get some deserving sleep.

I was awaken at about 7.30 a.m. in the morning due to a bang at my car door. At first I thought it was the security guard who did that but it turned out to be the owner of the car next to mine opened his car door which knocked into my car door.

I got up and went to the reception desk to ask when I can check-in to my room. I was told that I could only check-in at 2.00 p.m.. So, I took my car and drove around Kota Bharu to have my breakfast at White House. White House served the best half boiled eggs in town and at the same time, I wanted to eat Nasi Dagang. I managed to find the place and had the stuff that I wanted with a cup of coffee where all cost me RM4.30, reasonable price.

I could not wait till 2.00 p.m. to check-in to the room so I went back to the reception before noon and asked whether I can have a room. Luckily, there was a room available and I managed to check-in. The first thing I did was to have a nice shower and after that write down all this events before I forget about it.

So there are more to come of my journey.. stay tune!!

View of Kota Bharu from my room