Category Archives: UKEC

Sashimi, Panda, Udon, and Modern Art

I popped into London last Friday to attend my Mantin alma-mater’s reunion dinner. It was really great to see the old faces; my favourite principal of secondary one and two, the proctor a.k.a disciplinarian, my seniors, and the super seniors, and several other ex-members of staffs.

We had a buffet of Malaysian food, stories were exchanged while we hovered around the dessert table waiting for the kuih serimuka to be replenished. The super seniors (+4 years older) all seem to be doing very well. Most of the super seniors who came are currently working in London with all the big topshot companies, wahlaowei. That evening, it struck me why people keep bugging me to brain drain.

Several years ago, before really ma-fan rules were implemented in the youh-kayh-bee-ehh, given a strong academic results and extra-curricular performance dozens of companies would be happy to snap up the non-local graduates to work with them, more so for consultation and corporate finance bodies.

Today, there’s probably 999 clauses and rules to adhere to in order to obtain a working visa. From my undergraduate perspective, it is the minimum qualifying wage of £31,000 per annum. How, what, where, why, and who would pay a fresh graduate THAT sum of money? Another one is something about a visa sponsor. For example, university students have their visa sponsored (you still have to pay the processing fees) by their respective universities. The same goes to applying for a working visa. The last I checked even massive companies like Rolls-Royce doesn’t sponsor working visas. Anyone (non-local) who’s got an offer to work here do tell, sharing is caring heheh.

I ventured into Camden Town after breakfast the next day, countless of trips to London and I’ve never been there. My verdict : Overrated. The atmosphere reminds me of pasar malam (night market) back in Malaysia, chinese food vendors shouting out their offers, custom-designed t-shirts (Star Wars Coffee : May the Froth Be With You), overpriced merchandise, and cannabis. Cannabis everywhere. A lady tried to sell me hair removal pads which are silicone crystal pads that removes hair as you rub it on your skin for a £20 buy-one-free-one offer (I said no thanks, later found out you can get it for less than £10 on the internet).

A little blue bird informed that @WaiYeeHong will be in London that afternoon, so I was relentlessly asking for a tweetup. We went to a little Japanese cafe very near to South Kensington tube station, Tombo. Tombo does bento sets, simple yakisoba, and katsu with rice. I had a bento with special of the day – sheared salmon sashimi. I had two vegetable sides of a seaweed salad and something that had lotus root in it, I can’t remember the name. Green tea eclair for dessert. Did a trip to the V&A after and unleashed my museum geek.

Woke up damn freaking early the next morning for UKEC’s Projek Amanat Negara. Could have gone a bit later, but was worried for a girl friend of mine to walk and take the tube alone at 7am. She had to be there early as she’s sort of one of the committee members and have to do a bit of set up and stuff. Since I was so free after we got to the venue, I went back out again to fetch some coffee for myself, hot chocolate, assorted croissants and muffins for the poor kids who rushed there without breakfast. That day I learnt the proper pronunciation for Pret-A-Manger from the hotel porter (who was French, if I wasn’t mistaken). Ready to eat.

When the first session was about to begin, my left eye felt as if I had an eyelash fallen in. A few minutes later it started to water. I was lucky the friend I was sitting next to had contact lens eye drops and it helped me hold on a little while longer. While the speaker was going on about globalisation of Malaysian market (the session’s topic) I was going “tsk tsk….(“we’ve expanded our market to oversea”)…..tsk tsk…..(“we’re better than our counterparts..our (somethingsomething) can speak better English”)…..tsk” while dabbing my eyes with tissue. So drama. I so passionate about this topic ma’am tsk tsk…PFFFTT. I couldn’t stand it so I SOS-ed the friend I was staying with in London if there was anyone home, rushed to her place, took off my contact lenses, put on my glasses and headed back to the event.

The 3rd session which discussed religion had a very good speaker. That deserves a post of its own. I zoned out on the 4th session onwards. It was something about economics and I must have been half asleep. When a girl went up to the microphone during the Q&A session she said “open tender” and I misheard it as “open panda”. TWICE.

Had a dinner date at Koya that evening and they had oyster and jurusalem artichoke in miso on their board specials. I ordered that and a kanoko atsu-atsu, hot udon in hot mushroom and walnut miso. It was the most satisfying dinner I’ve had to date. Too bad Chatime ran out of Pearl Milk Tea, otherwise it could have been dessert.

Considering I had overspent on food the past couple of days, I had ramen kimchi (home cooked on stove, babehh) for lunch and dinner the next day. Visited a friend after lunch and killed time watching Running Man and braved the wind and rain to Tate Modern.

Tate Modern was sensory overload. Too many things going on, too many European students occupying all visible chairs, tables, and sofas turning the place into their lepak center. One of the sinks in the ladies on the lower ground floor appears to have been pissed in. The cubicle doors are decorated with uncommissioned art.

Appreciating contemporary works are difficult when the pieces seem to be lazy strokes of brushes on canvas given pompous titles and description. Maybe it’s just not my taste. Could be the headache I was having (which I realised yesterday was a symptom of stomach flu). It was dizzying to have so many interactive exhibits within close distance to each other. There was a short movie being played in the same corridor as a musical playground. One epileptic video light show followed by another. A sound effect accompanied exhibit adjacent to another. Notwithstanding the smell of some of the materials used mingling with the perfumes several ladies were wearing.

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My Notes During Projek Amanat Negara 2012

Projek Amanat Negara is an annual event organised by UKEC which brings together prominent figures in the Malaysian political, social, and entrepreneurial arena to London for an ‘intellectual discourse’. I have spent a bit too long exchanging opinions across Facebook walls today so I am only putting up a copy of the scribbling I did during the event for now. Pen and notebook in one hand, mobile phone in the other live tweeting updates, so there are some bits I missed out writing. Will put up a selected list of my tweets in a separate post.

The event was on the weekend right after my exams. By Monday I was really exhausted. Syawal Hafriz is the Chairman of UKEC, Dato’ Sri Zakaria Sulong; Malaysian High Commissioner, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz; Chairman of AirAsia X.

I started writing the points in linear format, but after seeing Shanon Shah (who sat next to me) noting the details in mind maps, I took cue.

The top page was the end of  my note-taking for Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz’s speech. The following is the Human Rights session, moderated by Melissa Kong. The speakers for the session was Dato’ Yunus Raiss; a former Magistrate at West London Court, Pang Khee Teik; a founding member of Sexuality Merdeka, and Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir; former chairperson of the Malaysian AIDS Foundation and an active women’s rights activist. Dato’ Yunus Raiss gave hand outs listing expression and ideas for possible questions (will share that in another post). I thought he was the only one relevant to the topic of human rights. The other two on the panel went passionate with gay rights and feminism blah blah blah.

Next was Religion : Islam in Malaysia which I personally thought was the best session ever. On the panel, Karim Raslan; a lawyer, Zainah Anwar; founding member of Sisters in Islam, Dr. Haji Dzulkefly Ahmad; PAS strongman,  Dr. Carool Kersten; historian of religion and Islamicist. Dr. Zulkefly and Zainah Anwar had completely opposite and highly contrasting views, yet throughout the duration of discussion everybody expressed their opinions in a very civil manner and debated using relevant points.

The last session was the debate between Khairy Jamaluddin and Rafizi Ramli “Public Policy : Vision 2020: Is Malaysia Moving Towards the Right Direction?” At this point I stopped writing altogether and was tweeting points most of the time. It was a brilliant debate with points well-argued without much personal attacks and some of my friends are still debating about the debate at the moment.