Happy 50th Anniversary, Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka

(Please see Kamus Dewan moved for latest updates.)

While I have to admit I have not used products and services of DBP for a very long time already, I still have fond memories of typing word entries from Kamus Dewan into a text file and wrote some Unix scripts to feed LaTeX so that I could typeset a Malay crossword puzzle “dictionary”. This was more than 15 years ago when I was an undergraduate in the US. It was basically a listing of words categorized by their lengths, ordered in forward and reverse directions. It possibly had some other features I could not remember already. I made it because my parents were very much into doing the crossword puzzles in Berita Harian. There was some serious prize money involved. Had they won something, I would have been eternally indebted to DBP for sure. And my parents would have felt the same way too.
Recently, I found out that DBP has ventured into the cyberspace. We could now find out the meaning of a Malay word online through Karyanet. Karyanet’s charter is mainly to provide a mechanism for writers to publish Malay writings. The online Kamus Dewan is a bonus. More recently, I found another bonus: the Pantun (rhyme) repository. You could search a pantun to surprise the love of your life, for example. You may also want to sharpen up your peribahasa (idioms).

On its 50th anniversary (it was established on June 22, 1956), I think it should grab the Internet bull by the horn with a vengeance. Blogging is obviously the in-thing now. DBP should host blogs from the language experts and novices alike. Their dictionaries should be more like what is offered by, say, the Merriam-Webster online. They should provide e-mail services like word-of-the-day or even pantun-of-the-day. Alternatively, maybe the ability to add a word- or a pantun-of-the-day as a content in a Personalized Google page would be cool thing to have.

DBP has offered a lot and still has a lot to offer. There is no question that DBP is still relevant as the purveyor of the Malay language. Now could somebody tell me why it is called “Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka” and not “Dewan dan Pustaka Bahasa”?


Displaying Your Own Kids’ Paintings

According to The Star today, the work of Australia's acclaimed photographer Geoff Letchford is on display here in Malaysia in Bangsar until July 9. He will also be here in person if you want him to put the photos of yourself and/or your love ones on interesting medium like canvas, albums, cushions, calendars, 3×3 panels, curtains, etc.

Fun with colorsOf course it is extremely satisfying to have your pictures on all conceivable items in the house. But if you are short on cash or, for some reason, do not like to see you face on the walls or on the cushions day in, day out, I have a suggestion. Your kids love to paint, right? Now, instead of putting their paintings in the kitchen on the overworked refrigerator, why don't you get some frames from IKEA, frame the pictures and hang them in the living room? Besides, your guests are less critical of an art piece if it is done by children. Especially if they are your children.

Sometimes my 6-year old daughter would suddenly have the urge to paint during the weekends. The younger 3-year old would not want to be left out. She wants to paint too.Exaggerated strokes Some of the better results from her work can be seen on the left. She is very free with her brush. And with colors too. I have to make sure she won't mix all of the colors together and end up with a rather gloomy mess. I could not make out any sane resemblance from the top painting in the frame (maybe someone fencing?). But I could vaguely see two people dancing from the middle and some sort of flowers from the bottom one.

On the right you can see three watercolor paintings by my 6-year old. Everything is exaggerated, of course. From a flower bigger than a house to a bee bigger than a flower. But I like the exaggerated pink fish best. It reminds me of one big flat pale graceful marine fish I saw on National Geographic (or was it the Animal Planet?) the name of which I have forgotten. Man, it is so hard to search the Net for a fish name by its shape and color.

Lines can be funEven a spaghetti-looking colourful random lines could look interesting (left). This doodle is also done by my 6-year old using magic pens.Mother fish, three small fry and an alga Another one she did with magic pens and some template is something I aptly title "Mother fish, three small fry and an alga" (left). I am imitating Paul Martin Lester's "Two guys, a tree, and a bicycle" here.

So there you have it. There are many ways to fill our boring walls. And it does not have to cost much. Kids are prolific when it comes to doodling. Pick the best ones and display them with pride!

Happy Father’s Day

Kids nowadays are taught to say they love their parents without too much thinking about it. It is almost a second nature to them. My elder daughter surprised me with a nice Happy Father's Day card she created at her preschool with some help from her teachers. And, of course, she did not fail to mention she loved her father.

Contrast what my daughter has done to how much courage I had to muster to call my father this morning to say I loved him. It was almost pathetic. I was stumbling with my words even though I had rehearsed what I wanted to say a few times in my mind beforehand. He did not even know that today was Father's Day. I managed to ask him whether he needed anything from me or the rest of his children. He simply said no, nothing in particular. Asked if he was satisfied with all of us, he said yes without hesitation. He is a man of few words. But I love him dearly. The whole call lasted for less than 5 minutes.

Happy Father's Day, Abah.

“Reopen 9/11” has landed! In Malaysia!

We Malaysians (read: Malay Muslims) love conspiracy theories. Especially when the perpetrators purported in the theories were Jews. In our Friday prayer sermons, we have been blaming the Jews for "Black Metal" music all the way to Valentine's Day celebration. In short, all predicaments in the Muslim world ultimately have the Jews to blame.

The latest buzz heard on, none other than, TV3 prime time news was there were these bunch of people on some sort of world tour finally arrived here in Malaysia to sell their plea to reopen the 9/11 investigation. They claimed, among others, the World Trade Center towers could not have collapsed the way they did unless they had been planted with explosives typically done in controlled demolition. And TV3 news coverage would not be complete unless we have one Hispanic guy among this group insinuating Jews were to blame for 9/11. He talked about some Jews impersonating Arabs seen taking pictures outside of the WTC moments before the unthinkable happened (or something to that effect).

Amazingly, these people has come up with a film to question the official version of what really happened on that fateful day. More amazingly, TV3 prime time news will show excerpts from this film for a few days from today. Of course, TV3 will not tell us how the claims brought up by these conspiracy theorists have been debunked many times. But the most amazing of all, they wanted Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to support their cause! Notwithstanding how ridiculous this would look, how could he resist? Why don't they also garner the support from our Prime Minister, Dato' Seri Abdullah Badawi, while they are at it?

To have a balance view on this interesting development, please read Popular Mechanics, "Debunking the Myths" (thanks to Setting the World to Rights for pointing to this article) and, by all mean, see TV3 coverage in the days to come. Then make up your mind. Unless, of course, you have got your mind made up already.

Goodbye al-Zarqawi

Goodbye al-Zarqawi
You're not going to be missed

You thought you would die a martyr
You are nothing but a mujahid imposter

Goodbye al-Zarqawi
You're not going to be missed

Sunni and Shia are ultimately brothers
But you turned us against each other

Goodbye al-Zarqawi
You're not going to be missed

While world peace can be rather elusive
Your demise has been a great relief

Goodbye al-Zarqawi
You're not going to be missed

Terrorism we must not forget
Is a political act of the desperate

Goodbye al-Zarqawi
You are not going to be missed

May your horrific end
Be the downturn of bloody jihad pretense


I have just noticed that my blog has passed 666 hits on 06/06/06. How nice. Hopefully today won't be the End of the World (by whose clock, timezone, or calendar, I wonder?) and I would still be blogging tomorrow and beyond.

I started blogging on February 14, 2006. Almost 4 months already. About 166 hits/month or 6 hits per day. I have written 20 blog posts. That is about 5 posts per month. I don't think I would increase this rate any time soon.

I reckon I am getting used to writing to this massive Void called the Internet. Couldn't wait for the 1000 hits.

On “Lelaki Komunis Terakhir” And “Senario Pemburu Emas Yamashita”

I thought the "Lelaki Komunis Terakhir" debacle would have ended already, the ban lifted and we all would be able to see the musical, documentary or whatever the film category might be. But apparently not. Invariably, the arguments against the movie seems to be emotionally driven. Irrationally emotionally driven if I may add. The movie title itself has caused some people to become utterly mad, it seems. And what if there were a lot of people died horrible death at the hands of the communist insurgents during the Emergency. History is filled with death and horror. Go write a book or direct a serious movie on it. Please, let us not forget this bad episode in Malaysia history.

Maybe "Lelaki" trivialized the painful memory of the atrocities committed during the Emergency? We don't know because we don't get the chance to see the movie!

Maybe "Lelaki" tried to show the human aspect of the "other" people of the Emergency by showing and talking to the these people from various places "touched" by Chin Peng, the Party Supremo? We cannot know this for sure because we don't get the chance to see the movie!

Let us see the movie and judge its worth for ourselves. If it is bad and of poor taste, shame on Amir Muhammad. For how long more must we be "saved" from "bad elements" by our "leaders"? Aren't we grown up already and have the capacity for critical thinking?

Maybe we should use the same argument to ban "Senario Pemburu Emas Yamashita" because the name "Yamashita" harked back to the horror of the Japanese invasion. Of course, I would love to see idiotic "Senario" slapstick movies ban for any reason whatsoever but that would be a different story.