Germanwings, Sedition, TMI

The last few weeks, everything on my Facebook feed is related to GST (Goods & Services Tax). More recently, more depressing stories continue to develop revolving around Germanwings, sedition charges and the recent arrest of The Malaysian Insider (TMI) journalists. Another big news in the past week was about Lee Kuan Yew.

You see, my history is not really that good. And I can't understand why everyone is so fascinated about this man, LKY. But I finally did understood a bit more in the last few weeks. It's hard to imagine how a first-world country is like. Confession: I have not been to Singapore in my entire life.

LKY had single-handedly led Singapore from a small port city into a wealthy global hub. Here we have someone who was criticised for his dictatorship yet it may be a huge irony.. but I see so many Singaporeans, educated citizens from all walks of life, who overlooked his leadership style simply because they know that this man loved Singapore.

Okay, I'm not even Singaporean right but what to do. I'm catching up with a lot of Singapore news because now that I have a sister studying there, I can't help it.

Anyway, amidst all these posts that commemorate one of the greatest world leaders, my local news feed is filled with.. news about arrests.

Everyday I'm seeing the Twitter boss on the newspaper, on national primetime news.. for what? Arresting politicians, activists, lawyers, even a cartoonist! - all in the name of sedition. And today is the worst. The all time low happened - police arresting journalists. I understand that the arrest of TMI journalists was apparently because of false reporting. We'll see what else develops from this.

I have always supported the freedom of speech. And I can never understand the motion that the Sedition Act should be still in place but with amendments. I'm no law expert or what but I just think that freedom of speech and Sedition Act simply cannot coexist. How can we, on one hand wants freedom of speech but then think that Sedition Act should stay to impose restrictions. The problem is when we impose restrictions, by whose standards are we going by? It doesn't make any sense.

Thus when I see racist bigots making dumb statements, I don't call for them being arrested. I don't believe that anyone should get arrested for speaking up. It is everyone's right and I stand by it. That is why one of my favourite quotes is by Evelyn Beatrice Hall: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to death our right to say it".

Anyway, things aren't looking good for my fellow country. Future seems bleak. But you know what? Reading Psalms 46 just gives me the confidence that I will be okay.

Should I Sell my BB1M Vouchers?

Recently, there was a rather huge debate in a Facebook group. The topic? It was about BB1M vouchers. A particular FB user (I assume an existing student) threaten (this word used very loosely here) that he will report other students are who selling their book vouchers, or trading them for cash.

The trading or selling of BB1M vouchers is not an unusual practice, and in fact many people are doing this since the BB1M scheme was implemented by the government a few years ago. The market price ranges from RM150 to RM200 cash for RM250 BB1M vouchers.

Students have justified their actions of selling/trading their BB1M vouchers for cash by saying that they need cash more than books. However, as my former lecturer had put it wisely: "These book vouchers are people's money.. tax payers' money.. your family, friends who contribute..which soon will be our turn. If you do not need the voucher, don't take it. You would not like to see this kind of abuse done too. Be empathetic. It's not being heroic or about moral. But it's doing the right thing."

My sentiments exactly.

My take on this issue is simple: Why should I trade my vouchers for something at a lesser value? My cash vouchers are worth RM250 and I should be getting something that is worth RM250 in return, whether in cash value or tangible items like books. Another advantage for using the BB1M vouchers to buy books (which is actually the original intentions of getting the vouchers, really.. BB1M = Baucer Buku 1 Malaysia..hello?) is that I will be getting receipts, which in turn could be used to claim tax.

We can not simply justify things by saying that we "think we need 'X' more". Let's say we put this in a different scenario: will we use the money given to us to attend a training course to instead buy a laptop for our own because we think need it more?

Just a food for thought.

Before I get accused of being insensitive to people's needs, let me say that I understand where you are coming from; that not everyone needs a book and need cash more for other essentials. But my point is, we need to strike a balance in the things we do. For this case, at the end of the day, it is about accountability. We can continue to attack and blame the government for corruption and all but the underlying fact here is that we are the same as them if we are doing the very same thing.

I will end here with this:

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

BB1M 2015: Where Should You Use It?

*Last updated April 8, 2015

BB1M season is back but late, late, late this time round!

I've scouted a bit for BB1M promotions and my initial verdict is .. things are not very exciting for BB1M holders this year.

Anyway, I'll come up with the list of places where you can spend your BB1M vouchers like I did in the past two years. Read on below:

1. Popular Book Co (M) Sdn Bhd

Source: (link)

Spend RM250 - get RM50 Popular Gift Vouchers + Popular Card
Spend RM150 - get RM10 Popular Gift Voucher + Popular Card
Spend RM100 - get RM5 Popular Gift Voucher

Remarks: Nothing exciting here. Popular is basically recycling their promotion (even same banner design!) but unfortunately no additional contest this year. But they are having a lot of book sales and accepting BB1M as well. Check out their Facebook for more info.

2. Borders Malaysia

Source: (link)

Spend RM150 - get RM10 Borders Gift vouchers + 1 drink from Starbucks
Spend RM250 - get RM20 Borders Gift vouchers + free preloaded Starbucks card 

3. MPH Bookstore/MPH CLICK

Source: (link)

1. Spend RM50*, get RM5 book and stationery voucher + MPH Readers Circle Membership
2. Spend RM250* get RM50 book an stationery voucher

Source: (link)

Remarks: Looks like MPH is tackling stationery lovers. For MPH, you can either spend it at the Putrajaya International Book Fair 2015 (event ending really soon!) (event ended!) or at their bookstores to enjoy the promotion.

4. BookXcess 

Source: (link)

1. Spend RM100 in BB1M vouchers and get 3 years FREE BookXcess membership
2. Spend RM150 in BB1M vouchers and get 3 years FREE BookXcess membership + RM10 BookXcess voucher
3. Spend RM250 in BB1M vouchers and get 3 years FREE BookXcess membership + RM20 BookXess Voucher

5. Times Bookstores

Source: (link)

1. Spend RM250 - get RM50 Times Bookstores voucher + TPC member card
2. Spend RM150 - get RM20 Times Bookstores voucher
3. Spend RM100 - get RM10 Times Bookstores vouchers

6. Big Bad Wolf Books

Source: (link)

Spend RM150 BB1M vouchers - get RM10 BBW vouchers
Spend RM250 BB1M vouchers - get Rm20 BBW vouchers

7. PTS Media Group 

Source: (link)

Spend RM100 - books 
Spend RM150 - free delivery in West Malaysia, exclusive prize, books
Spend RM250 - free delivery in whole of Malaysia, exclusive prize, books

8. Lejen Press

Source: (link)

Each voucher (RM50) entitles you to get 3 books. 

Source: (link)

1. Spend RM150 - limited edition bag + bookmark + sticker
2. Spend RM200 - get free membership + bag + button badge


Disclaimer: I do not endorse the usage of BB1M vouchers to purchase items such as hard drives etc as according to the BB1M guidelines, the BB1M vouchers should be used to buy books. I am just simply providing the information that people are looking for. 

OTHERS/Those looking for stationery/hard drive:
1. Gedebook Sdn. Bhd (link)
2. Puteh Press (link)
4. Bookurve (link)
5. Monaliza Mastura, Kota Bharu (link)
6. PC Image (link) - I heard that PC Image charge RM10 for every RM50 BB1M voucher used.
7. IT-Bezz (link)
8. Pustaka Rakyat
9. Weststar / The Art Shop (link)

Got a question/feedback/comment? Leave them in the blogpost - I will try my best to help you!

Share this blogpost with whoever you think may find helpful. I will keep updating this post :)

Have a good day!

Food: Restoran Wak Jos Ikan Bakar dan Asam Pedas, Muar

Had the opportunity to come to Restoran Wak Jos Ikan Bakar dan Asam Pedas in Muar last CNY to get fulfill ikan bakar cravings. The place is clean but a lot of cats around. Place is packed from 7pm onwards.

Once you get to the restaurant, there is a small booth outside. Here, you can pick your own ingredients and let them do everything else. Price stated clearly as well.

Food took quite some time to come, which is understandable since they need to BBQ them. No need to worry about smelling like smoke because they actually do all the BBQing in their kitchen, away from customers. Anyway, we ordered satay for appetizer :P

Cockles for RM3 only! In KL, please triple the price for one basket.

This super big plate of Kupang for only RM15! Seriously, you can never enjoy this kind of price in KL.

Fried squid. Two plates of this for about RM40. SUPER CHEAP cause the portion is amazing.

This is a super big ikan pari (string ray) but it's only at RM28! Super good deal again cause it's so big. But I don't really like the curry paste that goes with it.

Got good view of sunset while we were having dinner as well. Overall, I enjoyed the dinner very much! Food is great and what's even better that the food was amazingly cheap and affordable. Clean place and I don't smell like smoke afterwards. The only thing was the cats.. :P 

Not Enough People Talking About FSOG OST

Everyone is talking about Fifty Shades of Grey (FSOG) - the movie. And it's banned in Malaysia. But there's no surprise there. I think the surprise is that the OST has surpassed's everyone's expectation. Well, somewhat. I didn't really pay attention to all the hoo-haa about FSOG. I've seen the trailer, yeah. I really like how they remixed Beyonce's Crazy In Love to sound like a really different song. I continued to see promotions by Universal Music Malaysia about the OST but I didn't bother ... until I heard Tanner Patrick's cover for Ellie Goulding's Love Me Like You Do.

Great... the song is still stuck in my head! I haven't been listening to the radio lately but when I did, the song was on radio - a few times! I bet it was on the last few weeks but I only discovered it a few days ago. Lol. I need to keep up with top pop songs again.

Well, I went on to listen to the other OST that I can find on Spotify. I also watched it on Youtube. I like reading comments, y'know..instead of watching the video. And from my skimming, I found out that a lot of people said the movie was so crappy and the only good thing that came out of it was the soundtrack. LOL. 

Coca-Cola 8 Auspicious Chinese Character Cans (CNY Malaysia 2015)

(Left to right; top to bottom)

Chinese English Malay

 Wealth Kekayaan
Ān 安 Peace Keamanan
Mǎn Abundance Kelebihan
Xǐ 喜 Happiness Kebahagiaan
Jí 吉 Good luck Tuah
Shùn A smooth year Kecemerlangan
Fú 福 Prosperity Kemakmuran
Wàng 旺  Fortune Rezeki

Remember I said I want to collect all of the 8 designs to complete the CNY Coca-Cola set after getting my personalised can? I finally managed to do it - much thanks to everyone who helped me along the way! 

P.S: Btw, guess how long I took to searchfor the right Chinese characters... One of the things I hate for being a banana.