Gap: Made in Malaysia

Today, I found out that one of the many manufacturers that produce clothes for this iconic American brand is in Malaysia.

Not just in Malaysia, but in Batu Pahat.

Not just in Batu Pahat, but in Perusahaan Chan Choo Seng. For over 20 years too, so I heard.

Perusahaan Chan Choo Seng.

I find it hilarious that the garments endorsed by the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, Eva Herzigova and Missy Elliot are made by Perusahaan Chan Choo Seng in Batu Pahat.

After picking myself up from the floor (from rolling with laughter, you understand), I surfed the Gap Inc. website.

Wah, strict quality control when it comes to producing their products.

In Perusahaan Chan Choo Seng.


ps: Surf Gap Inc. to find out about how they give back to the community, their firm belief and support of the arts and their long standing contribution to the global fund to fight AIDS.

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Meet: Pepe

Pronounced "pay-pay". It's his nickname. And it's Spanish, he informed us with a flick of his hand.

He runs Lanta Resort, a cool chalet on Long Beach where I stayed during my recent super-excellent Koh Lanta holiday.

Pepe is friendly, kind and very generous. He's also very gay. In fact, Pepe was once a winner of a beauty contest in his district. (No, that's not a typo.)

On our last night in Koh Lanta, Pepe and his friend (and resort staff) Gung, threw us a little farewell party. Squid thai salad, BBQ-ed fresh pomfret and lots of Samsong (killer Thai whiskey).

A farewell party that was financed from their own pockets.

Pepe is one of the coolest people I know. No, not because of the free food. But because he's completely comfortable with himself. No inhibitions. No trying to be overly-cool. He's just himself.

He wore short purple lycra tights and a too-small purple shirt (with purple stars) when he played beach volleyball. He did a perfect mime of Anatascia singing. He told my friend she didn't look "very fresh" when she had a hangover from too much Sangsom. He took a photo of me with his camera phone, and insisted he takes another one because in that first photo, I looked "very ugly".

If you don't like him, he doesn't care.

We liked him. And he cared.

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This is a letter written by a 17-year old student in condemnation of a disgusting, barbaric act that was carried out. In his school.

Published in The Star, 2 October, 2006.


I AM a Form Five student in an Ipoh school. On Thursday, a disgusting show of inhumanity was seen in my school. It highlighted the depravity of humans.

For some time, a dog had been sleeping behind the school toilet. By nature, this dog was loving and showed no aggressive behaviour.

It was generally well-liked by the students and was easily ignored as all it did was sleep. It never approached anyone unless they first approached it.

On that day, the Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh (MBI) came into the school grounds and shot the dog in its abdomen in front of our chemistry lab. It upset the girls deeply as the dog did not die immediately and wailed as it bled to death.

The MBI did not shoot it a second time, instead they allowed it to die slowly. Then they carried it off by a hook when it was not completely dead as if it were a carcass at the meat market. The MBI men also waved jovially in the midst of all this as if they had not done something completely barbaric.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”. I think the general way animals are treated here is appalling. Countries like Australia, New Zealand and England do not shoot dogs as we do yet I never saw a single stray on the street when I was there. This tells me there is something wrong with our system and the general mind-set of the average Malaysian.



MNS Belum-Temengor Campaign 2006

This forest has been around for over 130 million years, making it older than the Amazon or the Congo. It holds such a vast number of flora and fauna that every scientific exploration means the discovery of a new species.

Yet, the Belum-Temengor Forest is facing threat from, who else but, man. One little corner of the forest has been reserved as the Royal Belum Park. Although reserved, it has yet to be gazetted. And this Park is just a fragment of the entire forest - 117, 800 hectares compared to the total area of 300, 000 hectares.

Please, please help save this forest.

The MNS Belum-Temengor Campaign aims to do the following:
  1. Gazettement of the Royal Belum State Park
  2. Extension of the Royal Belum State Park to include the Temengor Forest Reserve
  3. Protection of a stretch of natural forest flanking the East-West highway from conversion to plantation
And here's how you can help:
  • MNS is distributing postcards addressed to the YAB Menteri Besar of Perak and the YAB Prime Minister of Malaysia for the public to sign. This set of postcards conveys your concern and support to save our natural heritage to these 2 very important decision makers. Just pen down your signature and some simple details about you and send them to the MNS HQ on the prepaid envelopes that are provided.
  • Buy a Candle of Conscience from The Body Shop outlets throughout Peninsular Malaysia. Choose the candle with the MNS logo; the contribution will come straight to the campaign.
  • Sign on the online signature form to support MNS’ call to stop all logging activities in Belum-Temengor and to protect this forest complex.
  • Write letters to the Malaysian dailies urging the Federal and State Government to take immediate action and to stop all logging activities in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex.
  • Donate to the Malaysian Nature Society (please direct all donations to the MNS Belum-Temengor Campaign 2006).
  • Look out for events that promote this campaign and join them. Your presence will make a big difference to the campaign.
Visit the Malaysian Nature Society website for more details on this campaign.

If you would like a stack of postcards, let me know. I'll get them for you.

Your voice, even if it's just a little peep, CAN make a difference.


The Coolest Mural In The World

While wandering though the streets of Madrid, with nose firmly stuck in Lonely Planet, I heard ThinkTank exclaim, "Check out that mural!"

I looked up. What mural? She's nuts.

And then realised the side facade of the building, which I thought was real, was actually a mural. It was painted in accurate perspective to look like the side of the building. Its facade was painted the same red brick wall, tall windows and wrought-iron rails. There were even delicately painted plants on a few mural verandas.

Spectacularly lifelike.

The only thing that betrayed it was the ugly grafitti some vandal monkeys sprayed at the bottom of the mural.

If it weren't for that, this amazing mural would have gone by unnoticed. So real was the effect.

In fact, I might even have waved at the old man, standing on his verenda, leaning against the rail.

It would have made me look real stupid, of course. But definitely a compliment to the artist.

How do you say, "Wayyyy cool mural!" in Spanish?


Happy Deepavali

If I were Muslim, I would have just done grave wrong.

According to Takaful Malaysia's Syariah department head Fauzi Mustaffar, Deepavali is a religious festival where Hindu deities were worshipped. Thus wishing Hindus was like syirik (practising polytheism - that's the translation, I swear!) to Muslims.

Quote. Unquote.

This was hurriedly decried by someone in the Prime Minister's department as being not fatwa (Or edict - I've always wondered what fatwa meant. Sorry for being ignorant.)

Speaking of ignorance, I also recall the (dare I say it) "controversial" (I said it!) decision by the National Fatwa Council about Muslims not being allowed to conspire (they used that word, not me) to join in the celebration of the festivals of other religions, including Chinese New Year.

(Never mind that Chinese New Year is a cultural celebration, not a religious one.)

Both issues, of course, were followed by a barrage of Letters-To-The-Editor, Tell-Us-What-You-Think, Public-Poll and So-And-So's-Opinion type articles. Each bellowing the writer's vehement outrage at such audacious decisions.

"We live in a multi-racial, multi-cultural nation." "We must respect and tolerate each other's beliefs." And so on, went the comments.

The debate raged for a few days/weeks. And then, like how most issues do in Malaysia, died down.

But some damage had already been done. One that ran on a deeper level. It hovered on our subconscious. Suddenly, we were reminded about each other's skin colour. On how we must Respect Each Other's Belief. Living In Harmony became hard work. It became a conscious effort.

When we say this or that, will we be insulting our friends from other religions?

Should I do this in front of my Indian colleague?

Oh no, I am eating a meat of suspicious origin in front of my Muslim friend.

When I was little, about knee high, I had a Malay best friend. (Her mom also happened to own the kindergarden I was attending. But that's another story.) We would run around in the playground during recess and climb the monkey bar. We shared our packet of UFO rings. I copied her homework. Happy childhood stuff like that.

I recall lots of friendships like that. Even now, as an adult (ok, ok - I am trying to be one; stop twittering), I have friends who are Malays and Indians. Not because I am putting on a pantomime to prove to them naysayers that I am Living In Harmony.

But because, let me see, how do I put this? Because they are my friends.

Many people I know don't look at skin colour when making friends. Or think thoughts like, "Ok, let's see. I need 3 more Chinese and 2 more Indian friends to Live In Harmony."

They just see the other person's smile. Warmth. Friendliness. Generosity. Intelligence (where applicable).

When did living in harmony become a conscious effort?

Hmm. Maybe I do miss writing festive/Merdeka scripts after all.


Meme! Me! Me!

My first "meme"! (Why is it called a "meme"?)

I've been tagged!

I've been mentioned on someone else's blog!

Ohmygawd! I so jakun!

Ok, on to the "meme".

I've been tagged by Wandernut. According to her, a "meme" is something you answer so other people can get to know you better.

So this "meme" is titled 8 Things About Myself. Which means I have to write 8 things about myself.

I still read Enid Blyton books. But only Famous Five, mind you. None of those childish Secret Seven rubbish.

My first bicycle was given to me by my grandmother when I was 8-years old. She stole it from a kid who lives down the street from me.

I want to be a boatman when I grow up.

Or a vet.

wow, this is harder than I thought.

My fastest time to complete an EVIL Sudoku puzzle is 5 minutes. And some seconds.

I have an attention span of a goldfish. And it's getting worse. I can't even finish watching a whole episode of CSI Las Vegas in one sitting.

I threw up my breakfast of sardines on my friend, after singing Negaraku when I was 10-years old. I'm not sure if she's still my friend.

I just realised I'm not a very interesting person.

Ok! Now for the fun part. Tagging! I tag Think Tank, The Box and Makanologist. And Clare, Walter, Nisha... wait, they don't have blogs (hint hint).


The Coolest Merry-Go-Round in the World


The "carriages" are old rubber tyre, cut and fixed together into shapes of animals.

The "motor" is manual, worked by a man who pedals to work the machine.

The "music" comes from an old stereo, propped up nearby.

The "bright neon colours"... er, none.

But from the gleeful laughs and shrieks from the little kiddies, it sure sounded like they were on the best ride of their 6-year old lives.

We stumbled upon this cool merry-go-round while in Granada, in a little square outside our hotel. Being wayyyy too big and wayyyy too old to have a go, we sat and watched.

A long line of little kids, with their parents, were standing and waiting for their turn. Before the ride, the man picked up each kid, placed him or her onto a rubber-tyre animal, strapped on the seatbelt and made sure they are secured in.

When all the seats were filled, the man hopped onto his own bicycle-like seat and began pedaling. The music began. The merry-go-round started turning. The kids were all laughing and waving at their parents. They were having the best ride of their lives. (I mean a real ride you sick, cynical adult.)

Value-Added-Service: Before the ride ended, the man handed out a lollipop to every kid, which they grabbed by stretching out their chubby arms as they passed him.

The music winded down, the merry-go-round slowed down, signaling the end of the ride. The man jumped off his bicycle-like seat and the kids waited patiently as he unfastened each of their seatbelt and lifted them off their seat. And he repeated everything all over again, for the next line of kids waiting.

Check out the cool animal shapes, made out of old rubber tyres!

Popular business ,ok. The merry-go-round was turning all day, the seats always full of happy kids.

A few days later in London, we saw a carousel in Camden Market. A brightly coloured (read: 1000+ lightbulbs all over), elegantly painted machine, with carriages of haughty, porcelain horses and those candy-cane like pillars coming up from each horse.

It was also empty. No kids. No laughter. No free lollipops.

Long live Carrusel Ecologico!