Friday, August 29, 2008

Samad Ismail - Father Of Malaysian Journalism

Tan Sri Abdul Samad Ismail, affectionately called Pak Samad (Grandpa Samad) by all journalists, me included, is the one man we all owe a debt to for he is the father of Malaysian journalism and the man who pioneered a truly Malaysian newspaper, the New Straits Times.

A no-nonsense disciplinarian in his heydays, never afraid to scream profanities at lazy bums or those who simply did not use their heads, he was nevertheless a reasonable and understanding team leader who genuinely cared for the well-being of his troops and made sure they received every cent’s worth for their hard labour.

His “lion king” image was only to be feared during work hours, however. Off-work, he had a great sense of humour, was a great poet, cook, musician and vocalist, and a walking encyclopedia.

To his loved ones, he has always been a doting parent and grandparent.

Samad was born in Singapore on April 18, 1924.

He is of Javanese descent, not unlike one of his dear friends Datuk Aziz Sattar, the Walter Matthau of Malaysia also known as the grand old man of Singaporean Malay cinema.

Twice married, he has 10 children, among them Nuraina Samad who was once an editor in the NST, 26 grand children and 4 great-grand children.

Today she works with a lifestyle magazine, Tell.

Samad began his journalistic career in 1941 with Utusan Melayu (Utusan Malaysia) whose founding editors included Rahim Kajai of Negeri Sembilan and Datuk Ishak Muhammad (Pak Sako, later the leader of the Labour Party).

In 1958, he joined Berita Harian, the Malay paper of the New Straits Times and became its editor.

He became the New Straits Times Group’s managing editor from 1972-1976 and editorial adviser from 1982-1988.

When the country’s first private TV station TV3 was formed in 1983, he became its editorial adviser, too.

Throughout his days as an editor and beyond, he also served as a media adviser to the Malaysian government. He counted as his close pals all Malaysian Prime Ministers and their Deputies.

Initially a political activist with Ishak’s Malay Nationalist Party, he became a founder member of Singapore’s People’s Action Party [an offshoot of Ishak’s Labour Party] before having a rift with Sir Harry Lee Kuan Yew and joining the Malaysian ruling party Umno in 1958.

Samad was made a Tan Sri by Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak, the ninth King of Malaysia in 1992.

He played a key role in the formation of the Confederation of Malaysian Writers Associations or Gapena in 1961.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

About Adam Sandler

Thanks, Wikipedia.

Adam Richard Sandler (born September 9, 1966) is an American comedian, actor, musician, screenwriter and film producer.

After becoming a Saturday Night Live cast member, he went on to star in several Hollywood feature films that grossed over US$100 million at the box office.

Though he is best known for his comedic roles, such as in the films Big Daddy (1999) and Mr. Deeds (2002), he has also had success in romantic and dramatic roles, such as in The Wedding Singer (1998) and Spanglish (2004).

Sandler was born in Brooklyn, New York and is of Israeli-Russian ancestry.

His family moved to Manchester, New Hampshire when he was five.

There, he attended Manchester Central High School.

He found he was a natural comic and nurtured his talent while at New York University by performing regularly in clubs and on campuses.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1991 and was also a member of the Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity.

Later in his career, he would often draw on his earliest memories in his comedy and movies.

In the mid to late 1980s, Sandler played Smitty on The Cosby Show (1987–1988).

He was a performer for the MTV game show Remote Control, on which he made appearances as the characters "Trivia Delinquent" or "Stud Boy".

Sandler started performing in clubs early on, taking the stage at his brother's urging when he was only 17.

He was then discovered by comedian Dennis Miller, who caught Sandler's act in Los Angeles.

Miller immediately recommended him to Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels.

Sandler was hired as a writer for SNL in 1990 and became a featured player the following year, quickly making a name for himself by performing amusing original songs on the show, including The Chanukah Song.

He left the show in 1995 to focus on his acting career.

Sandler's first starring role was in 1989 when he starred in the movie Going Overboard.

In 1995, he starred in Billy Madison, in which he plays a grown, though uneducated man repeating grades 1–12 to earn his father's respect back, along with the right to inherit his father's multi-million-dollar hotel empire.

He followed this movie up with other financially successful comedies such as Bulletproof (1996), Happy Gilmore (1996) and The Wedding Singer (1998).

The Waterboy (1998) was one of his first hit films.

Although most of his earlier films were almost universally despised by movie critics, many of his recent films, starting with Punch-Drunk Love (2002), have received almost uniformly positive reviews.

This has led many movie critics to believe that Sandler possessed considerably more acting ability than they believed and he had been previously wasted on poorly written scripts and characters with no development.

He also played a loving father figure in Big Daddy (1999). During filming, he met Jacqueline Samantha Titone, his future wife and mother of his daughter.

He starred in the movie I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry (2007), alongside Kevin James as a New York City fireman pretending to be gay to keep up an insurance scam, so his best friend's children can have benefits.

Sandler's most recent film is You Don't Mess With The Zohan (2008), a comedy about a Mossad agent who fakes his own death and moves to the United States to become a hair stylist.

Sandler has made many cameo appearances in films including The Hot Chick, The Animal and The Longest Yard. He has also stood in for David Letterman in The Late Show With David Letterman.

Friday, August 22, 2008

About The United States Of America

Thanks, Wikipedia.

The United States of America, usually referred to as the United States is a constitutional federal republic comprising fifty states and a federal district.

The country is situated mostly in central North America, where its forty-eight contiguous states and Washington DC, the capital district, lie between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south.

The state of Alaska is in the northwest of the continent, with Canada to its east and Russia to the west across the Bering Strait. The state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific.

The country also possesses several territories, or insular areas, scattered around the Caribbean and Pacific.

At 9.8 square kilometres and with more than 300 million people, the United States is the third largest country by land area and population.

The United States is one of the world's most ethnically diverse nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries.

The US economy is the largest national economy in the world.

The nation was founded by thirteen colonies of Great Britain located along the Atlantic seaboard.

On July 4, 1776, they jointly issued the Declaration of Independence, which officially declared their independence from Britain and their formation of a cooperative union as a new nation.

In the nineteenth century, the United States acquired land from France, Mexico and Russia and conquered Hawaii.

Disputes between the agrarian South and industrial North over states' rights and the expansion of the institution of slavery provoked the American Civil War of the 1860s.

The North's victory prevented a permanent split of the country and led to the end of legal slavery in the United States.

World War I confirmed the nation's status as a military power.

In 1945, the United States emerged from World War II as the first country with nuclear weapons, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a founding member of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation).

In the post–Cold War era, the United States is the only remaining superpower — accounting for approximately 50 percent of global military spending and a dominant economic, political and cultural force in the world.

The United States of America gets its name from the Welsh word Amorica meaning “the land beyond the sea”.

The United States is situated almost entirely in the western hemisphere.

The contiguous United States stretches from the Pacific on the west to the Atlantic on the east, with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast, Canada on the north and Mexico on the south.

Alaska is the largest state in area, separated from the contiguous US by Canada. It touches the Pacific on the south and Arctic Ocean on the north.

Hawaii occupies an archipelago in the central Pacific, southwest of North America.

The coastal plain of the Atlantic seaboard gives way further inland to deciduous forests and the rolling hills of the Piedmont.

The Appalachian Mountains divide the eastern seaboard from the Great Lakes and the grasslands of the Midwest.

The Mississippi–Missouri River, the world's fourth longest river system, runs mainly north-south through the heart of the country.

The flat, fertile prairie land of the Great Plains stretches to the west, interrupted by a highland region along its southeastern portion.

The Rocky Mountains, at the western edge of the Great Plains, extend north to south across the continental United States, reaching altitudes higher than 4,300m in Colorado.

The area to the west of the Rocky Mountains is dominated by the rocky Great Basin and deserts such as the Mojave.

The Sierra Nevada range runs parallel to the Rockies, relatively close to the Pacific coast.

At 6,194 m, Alaska's Mount McKinley is the country's tallest peak.

Active volcanoes are common throughout the Alexander and Aleutian Islands and the entire state of Hawaii is built upon tropical volcanic islands.

The super volcano underlying Yellowstone National Park in the Rockies is the continent's largest volcanic feature.

Because of the United States' large size and wide range of geographic features, nearly every type of climate is represented.

The climate is temperate in most areas, tropical in Hawaii and southern Florida, polar in Alaska, semi-arid in the Great Plains west of the 100th meridian, desert in the Southwest, Mediterranean in coastal California and arid in the Great Basin.

Extreme weather is not uncommon — the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico are prone to hurricanes and most of the world's tornadoes occur within the continental United States, primarily in the Midwest's Tornado Alley.

US plant life is very diverse. The country has more than 17,000 identified native species of flora.

More than 400 mammal, 700 bird, 500 reptile and amphibian and 90,000 insect species have been documented.

The US has fifty-eight national parks and hundreds of other federally managed parks, forests and wilderness areas.

Altogether, the US government regulates 28.8 percent of the country's total land area.

The indigenous peoples of the US originated from Asia and are closely related to the Native Malaysians particularly the Kadazandusuns of Sabah and the Burmese of Burma.

In 1607, British religious dissenters settled in Jamestown, Virginia and began the process of British colonisation in the continent.

In the 1760s and 1770s many of the British settlers decided to be independent of the United Kingdom and under the leadership of George Washington, they revolted against the colonial master.

The leaders of 13 British colonies of North America formed the United States in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.

Washington became the new federation’s first President. New York became the federal capital until 1800 when Washington DC replaced it.

In 1803, the US purchased the massive colony of Louisiana from France. The US also went to war with Spanish-ruled Mexico and expanded its territory westwards to the Pacific.

Amidst the federal republic’s expansion, the Native Americans were ruthlessly persecuted and many were absorbed into the British majority through intermarriage.

The British majority also practised slavery, capturing Africans to work in mostly cotton plantations and farms.

The United States and Soviet Union jockeyed for world power after World War II in the Cold War, dominating the military affairs of Europe through NATO and the Warsaw Pact respectively.

Both the United States and the Soviet Union supported dictatorships as well as democracies and both engaged in proxy wars throughout the period with the former employing more ruthless and genocidal measures to assert its global domination.

In 1991, the Soviet Union surrendered to the United States and was dissolved.

The United States has been a leader in scientific research and technological innovation since the late nineteenth century.

In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the first US patent for the telephone.

The laboratory of Thomas Edison developed the phonograph, the first long-lasting light bulb and the first viable movie camera.

In the early twentieth century, the automobile company of Henry Ford pioneered assembly line manufacturing.

The Wright brothers, in 1903, made what is recognised as the "first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight."

And in 1969, the US landed the first man, Neil Armstrong, on the moon.

The largest cities in the United States are New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

English is the official language of the US.

Most Americans are Christians.

The United States has many competitive private and public institutions of higher education. 85 percent of Americans aged 25 and above are high school graduates and 27 percent have university degrees.

The United States is a multicultural nation, home to a wide variety of ethnic groups, traditions and values.

There is no "American" ethnicity aside from the Native American population.

The strongest cultural influence in the US is British culture as the country was a former British possession.

The African Americans have heavily influenced popular culture especially in jazz, hip-hop, soul, funk and rhythm and blues music.

American citizens classified as European or White form 69 percent of the population. 55 percent are British, 8 percent are South European [Greeks, Italians and Spanish] and 6 percent are East European [who are from the Iranians].

Actually, half of the 55 percent British are partly Native American, so British Americans who have largely held the Presidency form only 28 percent of the population and European Americans form only 42 percent of the population.

African Americans form 13 percent of the population while Native Americans form 12 percent of the population [if the 27 percent Native Americans classified as British is included, it is 39 percent Native Americans].

Asian Americans [Chinese, Indians, Iranians, Arabs, Native Malaysians, Japanese and Koreans] form 6 percent of the population.

Here is the American population:
European - 42pc
African - 13pc
Native American - 39pc
Asian - 6pc.

The United States was in the forefront of film development in the early twentieth century.

The US film industry has largely been based in and around Hollywood, California.

The Internet was developed in the United States.

The country also has a strong tradition of English literature and among its greatest writers were Ralph Emerson, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Ernest Hemingway, Herman Melville, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jack Kerouac.

The US is also noted for its performing arts, largely centred in Broadway. Among its greatest playwrights and dramatists were Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams.

US cuisine is largely British influenced, with a dash of Mexican and African.

The US is a major sports power and has hosted eight Olympic Games.

The United States has won 2,191 medals at the Summer Olympic Games, more than any other country.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Natalie Du Toit - A Very Special Sportswoman Who Should Be Olympian Of The Year

Thanks, Wikipedia.

I was very moved to see Natalie Du Toit emerge almost victorious in the 10,000m swim at the on-going Beijing Olympics.

She only has one leg, lost to a horrifying accident, yet she’s a super swimmer and super sportswoman.

She’s the personification of the human spirit and the Olympic spirit and she deserves to be the Olympian Of The Year.

She is only one of two Dutch South Africans I truly admire, the other being Charlize Theron.

[Both super women are of Dutch and French South African ancestry. I cannot confirm if they have Cape Malay ancestry too]

Her iron determination to excel in the Games, despite her physical handicap, has so moved me that I hereby declare her very existence and spirit sufficient compensation to cleanse all White South Africans of their sins of enslaving the indigenous Black South Africans led by Nelson Mandela and later Thabo Mbeki.

God bless you always, Natalie. You are the greatest.

Natalie, who was born on January 29, 1984 in Cape Town is best known for the gold medals she won at the 2004 Paralympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games.

She qualified to compete at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, becoming the first female amputee swimmer ever to qualify for the Olympics.

She ended up 16th in a field of 24 in the 10,000m swim.

Natalie has been competing internationally in swimming since the age of 14.

She hails from a working-class background and credits it with giving her a strong, fighting spirit. Her mother Deidre is a receptionist and her father David is a foreman. She also has an older brother Andre.

The family’s pet dogs add to her serious, no-nonsense attitude - they are Binga, a boxer and Storm, a rottweiler.

In February 2001 her left leg was amputated at the knee after a scooter accident on her way back to school after swimming practice.

Three months later, before she started walking again, she was back in the pool with the intention of competing in the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Natalie swims without the aid of a prosthetic limb.

She completed her scholastic education at the Reddam House in Cape Town after which she studied for a Bachelor of Science at the University of Cape Town, specialising in genetics and physiology.

In her free time she does motivational speaking. She is a source of inspiration to millions of South Africans and has been hailed as a national icon by Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.

Natalie was voted 48th in the Top 100 Great South Africans in 2004 by the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

Natalie’s first international competition was the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.

During the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, she won both the multi-disability 50m freestyle and the multi-disability 100m freestyle in world record time.

She also made sporting history by qualifying for the 800m able-bodied freestyle final - the first time that an athlete with a disability had qualified for the final of an able-bodied event.

At the closing of the Manchester Commonwealth Games, she was presented with the first David Dixon Award for Outstanding Athlete of the Games.

In 2003, competing against able-bodied swimmers, she won gold in the 800 metres freestyle at the All-Africa Games as well as silver in the 800 metres freestyle and bronze in the 400 metres freestyle at the Afro-Asian Games.

She narrowly missed qualifying for the Olympics in Athens in 2004, but during the Paralympics that were held in the same city, she won one silver and five gold medals.

In the same year, her courage and achievements were acknowledged with a nomination for the Laureus World Sportsperson Of The Year With Disability Award 2004.

At the 2006 Commonwealth Games she repeated her previous performance by winning the same two golds she had in Manchester.

In 2006 she also won six gold medals at the fourth IPC World Swimming Championships, finishing third overall in a race which included 36 males and 20 females.

In May 2008, she qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics after finishing fourth in the 10km open water race at the Open Water World Championship in Seville, Spain.

South Africa's Olympic Committee chose her to carry its national flag at the 2008 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony, making her the first disabled athlete to have this honour in an able-bodied Olympics.

In an interview with South African journalist P. H. Mullen, she said that one of her coaches gave her an inspiring poem which reads:

The tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goals;
The tragedy of life lies in not having goals to reach for;
It is not a disgrace not to reach for the stars;
But it is a disgrace not to have stars to reach for.

Congrats Datuk Lee Chong Wei

Malaysia's first badminton silver medalist in the Olympics Lee Chong Wei is set to be a Datuk.

The award will be bestowed on him by Penang Governor Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas on August 30.

Congrats, Chong Wei.

The Modern Day Fa Mulans - Michelle Yeoh, Gong Li And Zhang Ziyi

I’m a real hero-worshipper of Malaysian super woman Datuk Michelle Yeoh and to a lesser extent the People’s Republic of China’s super women Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi.

FYI, Fa Mulan is a legendary warrior princess of China. She was the subject of the Disney film Mulan (1998) and was voiced by Ming-Na Wen and Lea Salonga.

Her name Mulan literally means orchid (magnolia liliiflora). Fa or Hua is her surname.

While she may or may not have existed, she is the symbol of Chinese feminism and the ideal qualities of the Han Chinese female - independent, resourceful, courageous, disciplined, honest, perfectionist, devoted, patriotic and humane.

Native Malaysia has its very own Fa Mulans of legend - Kelantanese warrior queens Siti Zubaidah and Siti Wan Kembang.

The latter was the wife of the king of Champa in modern-day Vietnam who brought peace between Champa and Annam (Vietnam).

In the more recent centuries, there was Javanese princess Raden Ayu (or Ajeng) Kartini, the Mother of Native Malaysian Feminism.

(She is honoured by the Republic of Indonesia but not yet by Malaysia, despite the fact that she was technically a Johorean for she lived in Dutch-occupied Java which was, like all of modern-day Indonesia, then still claimed by the Malaysian kingdom of Johor)

The information below is all from Wikipedia and The New Straits Times.

Gong Li

Gong Li (born December 31, 1965) is a two-time Golden Cockerel (or Rooster in American English) Award, Hundred Flowers Award and Cannes Festival Award-winning Chinese film actress.

She first came into international prominence through close collaboration with Chinese director Zhang Yimou and is credited with bringing Chinese cinema to Europe and the United States.

Gong was born in Shenyang, Liaoning, China, the fifth child in her family.

While she is primarily Han Chinese, her ancestry, like Zhang Ziyi’s, also includes Mongolian.

Her father was a professor of economics and her mother, who was 40 when she was born, was a teacher.

Gong grew up in Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province. She wished to be an actress from a young age.

She was accepted to the Beijing Central College of Drama in 1985 and graduated in 1989.

She was a student there when Zhang Yimou chose her in 1987 for the lead role in his first film Red Sorghum.

After her 1987 debut in Red Sorghum, Gong received both local and international acclaim for her roles in several more Zhang Yimou films and also became his muse.

Her performance in the Oscar-nominated Raise The Red Lantern thrust her into the international spotlight.

Likewise The Story Of Qiu Ju, for which she was named Best Actress at the 1992 Venice Film Festival.

The roles help solidify her reputation as one of the world's most glamorous movie stars.

When Gong and Zhang ended their personal relationship in 1995 (she married a businessman the following year), their professional relationship ended too.

In 1993 she received a New York Film Critics Circle Award for her role in Farewell My Concubine.

Directed by Chen Kaige, the film was her first major role with a director other than Zhang Yimou.

With her ascent and influence, Gong began to criticise the censorship policy in China. Her films Farewell My Concubine and The Story Of Qiu Ju were both initially banned in her native land, reportedly for being thinly-veiled critiques of the government.

Gong wrote the introduction to the 2001 book Chinese Opera.

Despite her high profile, Gong put off working on Hollywood films for years, due to both her lack of confidence in speaking English and her discontent with the types of roles that had been offered.

Her first major English-language role came in 2005 when she starred as the beautiful but vindictive Hatsumomo in Memoirs Of A Geisha. Her performance met rave reviews.

Her other English-language roles to date have been in Chinese Box (1997), Miami Vice (2006) and Hannibal Rising (2007).

In all three films, she learned her English lines phonetically.

Her other notable films include God Of Gamblers III: Back To Shanghai, The Banquet, To Live and Curse Of The Golden Flower.

She is the face of cosmetics brand L’Oreal.

Zhang Ziyi

Zhang Ziyi (born February 9, 1979 in Beijing) is one of the best-known Golden Globe-nominated Chinese film actresses, with a string of Chinese and international hits to her name.

She is also one of the most promising young film actresses in China.

She has worked with renowned directors such as Zhang Yimou, Ang Lee, Wong Kar-Wai, Chen Kaige, Seijun Suzuki and Rob Marshall.

Zhang joined the Beijing Dance Academy at the age of 11.

She later entered China's prestigious Central Academy of Drama (regarded as the top acting college in China) at the age of 15.

At the age of 19, Zhang was offered her first role in Zhang Yimou's The Road Home, which won the Silver Bear Award in the 2000 Berlin Film Festival.

Zhang further rose to fame as headstrong Jen (or Xia Long) in the phenomenally successful Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, for which she won the Independent Spirit's Best Supporting Actress Award and the Toronto Film Critics' Best Supporting Actress Award.

The film was a major turning point in her career.

She said: “Because of movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero and Memoirs Of A Geisha, a lot of people in the United States have become interested not only in me but in Chinese and East Asian actors in general.

Because of these movies, maybe there will be more opportunities for East Asian actors.

Crouching Tiger didn't do well in China unfortunately.

But it took me to the Oscars and the red carpet where I met Tom Hanks.

He said, "You're the girl from Crouching Tiger. I love that movie. You did a great job."”

Zhang's first appearance in an American movie was in Rush Hour 2, but because she didn't speak English at the time, Jackie Chan had to translate everything the director said to her.

Zhang then appeared in Hero, with her early mentor Yimou. It was a huge success in the English-speaking world and an Oscar and Golden Globe contender.

Her next film was the avant-garde drama Purple Butterfly by Lou Ye, which competed at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival.

Zhang then went back to the martial arts genre with House Of Flying Daggers which earned her a Best Actress nomination from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

In 2046, directed by Wong Kar-Wai, Zhang won the Hong Kong Film Critics' Best Actress Award and the Hong Kong Film Academy's Best Actress Award.

Showing her whimsical, musical tap-dancing side, Zhang starred in Princess Raccoon, directed by Japanese legend Seijun Suzuki. The film was nominated for the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.

In 2005, Zhang landed the lead role of Sayuri in the film adaptation of the international bestseller Memoirs Of A Geisha.

For the film, she reunited with her 2046 co-star Gong Li and her Crouching Tiger co-star Michelle Yeoh.

For the role, Zhang received a 2006 Golden Globe Award nomination, a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination and a BAFTA [British Academy of Film and Television Arts] nomination.

Zhang is also a good singer and was featured on the House Of Flying Daggers soundtrack.

In 2006, Zhang became the youngest member to sit on the jury of the Cannes Film Festival.

Zhang provided the voice of Karai in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie in 2007.

Zhang is the face of Maybelline and Shangri-La Hotel. She is also a Global Ambassador for the Special Olympics.

She has revealed that her name Ziyi means Happy Child.

Other notable films of Zhang include The Banquet and Touching Starlight.

Zhang (like Gong and Michelle) has been ranked as one of the Top 100 Sexiest Women by men’s magazine FHM.

She has also been ranked as one of the 100 Most Influential People by Time Magazine. Time also called her China’s Gift To Hollywood.

Michelle Yeoh

Datuk Michelle Yeoh Choo Kheng (born August 6, 1962) is a BAFTA Award-nominated Chinese Malaysian actress and dancer, well known for performing her own stunts in the action films that brought her fame in the early 1990s.

Born in Ipoh, Malaysia’s second largest city, she is based in Hong Kong and was chosen by People Magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in 1997.

She is best known in North America and Western Europe for her roles in the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies and the multiple Academy Award-winning Chinese action film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, for which she was nominated Best Actress by BAFTA.

In 2008, the film critic website Rotten Tomatoes ranked her the greatest action heroine of all time.

Yeoh’s parents are Datuk Yeoh Kian Geik, a lawyer and his wife, Janet.

She was very sporty as a pre-teen and teenager and had a passion for dance.

She learnt ballet at the age of four.

At 15, she joined a boarding school in Britain and later entered the London Royal Academy Of Dance, majoring in Ballet.

But a spinal injury ended her dream of becoming a prima ballerina.

She later received a degree in Creative Arts with a minor in Drama.

In 1983, when she was 21, Yeoh won the Miss Malaysia beauty pageant. She was also Malaysia's representative at the 1983 Miss World pageant in London.

From there, she appeared in a television commercial with Jackie Chan which caught the attention of a fledgling film production company called D&B Films.

Yeoh's career in Hong Kong started with a few commercials for Charles Jourdan, opposite action heroes Jackie Chan and Chow Yun-Fatt.

She subsequently starred in a string of less memorable Hong Kong films, mostly as a tough female police officer or detective.

The Charles Jourdan brand was handled by the D&B Group in Hong Kong, run by Yeoh's future husband Dickson Poon.

In 1988, she retired from acting after marrying Poon.

Three years later, the couple divorced and Yeoh returned to acting in 1992.

Her first movie after the comeback was Police Story 3, which was partly shot in Kuala Lumpur.

Yeoh started her film career acting in action and martial arts films such as The Heroic Trio in 1993 and the Yuen Woo-Ping films Tai Chi Master and Wing Chun in 1994.

Yeoh had no formal martial arts training and she relied on her dance training and instructors.

Yeoh’s Tomorrow Never Dies co-star Pierce Brosnan enjoyed working with her and described her as a "wonderful actress" who was "serious and committed about her work".

He referred to her as a "female James Bond" in reference to her combat abilities.

In 2002, she produced her first English film The Touch through her own production company, Mythical Films.

In 2005, Yeoh starred as the graceful Mameha in the film adaptation of Memoirs Of A Geisha.

She most recently appeared in Sunshine (2007) and The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor (2008) opposite action heroes Jet Li and Brendan Fraser.

In 2001, Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak made Yeoh a Datuk.

The following year, she was honoured as an Outstanding Young Person Of The World by Junior Chamber International.

In 2007, she was honoured by the then French President Jacques Chirac as a Knight of the Legion of Honour of France.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Kings Of The Third World In The Olympics

Hungary (if Eastern Europe is included) and Cuba (if Eastern Europe is excluded) are the Third World nations that have won the most medals in the Olympics. 454 and 170 respectively.

A Happy 63rd Birthday To Indonesia

The Republic of Indonesia turned 63 yesterday.

As a Malaysian, I wish all Indonesians a happy 63rd birthday.

All Indonesians, Singaporeans and Malaysians are siblings. Born of the same mother - Johor.

I pray that Indonesia will recover from its recession and find a stable democracy along the lines of the United States’ (and Malaysia’s) two-party system.

And that all countries that evolved from Native Malaysian polities (especially Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada!) will help rebuild Indonesia.

A Tribute To Lin Dan And Lee Chong Wei By John Tiong

This poem is written by journalist-poet from Sibu, John Tiong, also my colleague.

China's Lin Dan triumphed over Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei to grab the men's single gold for badminton yesterday at the Beijing Summer Olympics.

Chong Wei got the first silver medal for Malaysia for the Olympics.

Lin seemed to be a far superior player in the two matches that lasted less than 40 minutes beating Chong Wei by 21 - 12 and 21 - 8.

Lin seemed to be flying on wings after he was crowned gold.

First he fell flat on the court, then rose to salute the audience after which he threw his racket and shoes to them as presents.

Lin Dan, Chong Wei
Look alike faces
Shaped like shuttlecocks

Eyes gleaming
Like diamonds
The shine of white
Velvety feathers

Between their
Masterful strides
A common dream
Of two nations

To and fro, to and fro
It flew smashing
Into one while
Lifting the other
Onto its wings of gold

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mark Spitz & Michael Phelps - American Kings Of The Pool

Here’s an Olympic tribute to Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps. They are two of America’s greatest Olympic swimmers. Information courtesy of Wikipedia.


Mark Andrew Spitz (born February 10, 1950, in Modesto, California) is a two-time American Olympic swimmer.

Between 1968 and 1972, Spitz won 9 Olympic gold medals, 1 silver and 1 bronze, 5 Pan American golds, 31 National US Amateur Athletic Union titles and 8 US National Collegiate Athletic Association Championships.

During those years, he set 33 world records. He was named World Swimmer Of The Year in 1969, 1971 and 1972.

When he was two years old, Spitz's family moved to Hawaii, where he learned to swim. At age six his family returned to Sacramento, California and he began to compete at his local swim club.

At nine, he trained at Arden Hills Swim Club in Sacramento with Sherm Chavoor, a swimming coach who mentored six other Olympic medal winners.

At 10, he held 17 national age-group and one world record.

From 1964 to 1968 Spitz studied in Santa Clara High School and held national high school records in every stroke and distance.

In 1967, he established a record, winning five gold medals at the 5th Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada. His record stood for 40 years.

At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Spitz won two golds, the 4x100m freestyle and the 4x200m freestyle.

Spitz subsequently entered Indiana University to train with legendary coach Doc Counsilman, who was also his coach in Mexico City.

In 1971, he won the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States.

He was nicknamed Mark The Shark by his team mates.

At the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich (West Germany), Spitz won seven Olympic gold medals and set a new world record in each of the seven events he took part in.

His participation in the Munich Olympics gained him a bit of notoriety as he swam with a moustache.

Spitz is one of four Olympians to win nine career gold medals.

Spitz entered the International Swimming Hall Of Fame in 1977 and the International Jewish Sports Hall Of Fame in 1979.

Spitz also dabbled in acting and appeared in The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson in the mid-1970s.

He also became a sports presenter on American television.

He has hailed Michael Phelps as the greatest Olympic athlete of today.


Michael Fred Phelps (born June 30, 1985) is an American swimmer and 11-time Olympic Gold medalist who holds world records in several events.

Phelps won eight medals in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece which tied him with Soviet gymnast Alexander Dityatin for the most medals of any type in any one Olympics.

Phelps has won 13 Olympic medals (eleven gold, two bronze): eight at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens (six gold, two bronze) and five at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games (all gold).

He has the most gold medals for any Olympic athlete of the modern Olympic era.

Phelps' international titles, along with his various world records, have resulted in him being awarded the World Swimmer Of The Year Award in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007 and American Swimmer Of The Year Award in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007.

Phelps has won 45 career medals: 37 golds, 6 silvers and 2 bronzes.

Phelps was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland.

His father, Fred Phelps worked for the Maryland State Police and his mother, Debbie Davisson is a school principal.

His elder sisters, Whitney and Hilary were also swimmers.

In his youth, Phelps was diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

He started swimming at seven, partly because of the influence of his sisters and partly to provide him with an outlet for his restless energy.

He blossomed quickly as a swimmer, and by 10 held a national record for his age group.

More age group records followed and Phelps' rapid improvement culminated in his qualifying for the 2000 Summer Olympics at the age of 15.

In November 2004, at 19, Phelps was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in Salisbury, Maryland. He pleaded guilty and was fined US$250.

Between 2004 and 2008, Phelps attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, studying sports marketing and management.

Phelps eats around 12,000 calories a day, six times more than the average adult male. He swims up to four hours a day.

As a teenager, Phelps trained at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club under coach Bob Bowman.

At 15, Phelps competed at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, becoming the youngest American male swimmer at an Olympic Games in 68 years.

Five months after the Sydney Olympics, Phelps broke the world record in the 200m butterfly to become the youngest man ever to set a swimming world record.

He then broke his own record at the World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.

Phelps' dominance has brought comparisons to former swimming great Mark Spitz.

In 2004 he won his first Olympic gold in the 400m individual medley, setting another new world record.

At the 2007 World Championships, Phelps won seven gold medals and broke five world records. He co-founded the Swim With The Stars programme which promotes swimming and conducts camps for swimmers of all ages.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

F. I. R. - Taiwan’s Hottest Rock Trio

Thanks, Wikipedia.

One of Taiwan’s hottest pop-rock acts F. I. R. will land on Malaysian shores on September 6 at Stadium Putra, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur.

The trio’s first major showcase in the federal capital is titled F. I. R. Live In Malaysia and it follows a recent sell-out concert in Singapore.

F. I. R.’s concert is expected to attract 10,000 spectators and promises to “rock the stage” and surprise Malaysian fans with its entertaining showmanship.

F. I. R. was formed in 2002 by renowned producer Ian Chen Jian Ning who is the group’s guitarist, keyboardist and “keytarist”. Its other members are lead vocalist Faye Zhan Wen Ting and guitarist Real Huang Han Qing.

While the group’s name is derived from its members’ first names’ initials, it also stands for Fairyland In Reality.

One of F. I. R.’s most well-known hit songs is Lydia which was the theme song for the Taiwanese television drama The Outsiders.

Faye, 26, Ian, 36 and Real, 28, released their first, self-titled album in April 2004. The group’s sound combines pop-rock, ballads, reggae, folk and even Baroque music.

Faye was a former schoolmate of Taiwanese pop queen Jolin Tsai.

Its second album released in 2005 was titled Unlimited while its third, released in 2006 was titled Third Flight Tribe.

F. I. R.’s latest album Diva which also contains English songs was released last year.

The group’s notable hit songs include Fly Away, How Do I Live and Get High.

Last year, the group performed at a concert themed Tenth Planet in Taipei. It was described by fans as a “magnificent dreamscape brought on stage” and contained great audio-visual production and luminous stage costumes which took two months of preparation.

The group has won numerous music awards in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. They include the Best New Artiste (September 2004) from Hong Kong Television Broadcasts, Best New Artiste (2004) at the 933 Golden Melody Awards of Singapore and Best New Artiste (2005) at the 16th Annual Golden Melody Awards of Taiwan.

Faye said the group was “very excited” and looking forward to the concert. “It’s a great opportunity to get to know our many Malaysian fans. It’s going to be a blast, we promise,” she said.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bernie Mac - King Of Black Stand-Up Comedy

The world is a less funnier place with the sudden death of outstanding African-American stand-up comedian Bernie Mac.

Mac died suddenly of pneumonia on August 9, 2008.

The following information about him is courtesy of Wikipedia and Yahoo News.

Bernard Jeffrey McCullough (October 5, 1957 – August 9, 2008), better known as Bernie Mac, was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago.

Together with fellow comedians Steve Harvey, Cedric The Entertainer and D. L. Hughley, he was part of the comedic troupe The Original Kings Of Comedy.

After briefly hosting the HBO show Midnight Mac, Mac appeared in several movies in small roles. His most notable movie role was as Frank Catton in the remake of Ocean's Eleven and its two sequels.

Mac also starred in Charlie’s Angels - Full Throttle and was the star of The Bernie Mac Show , which ran from 2001-2006 and earned two Emmy Award nominations.

Mac was raised by his single mother, Mary who died of cancer when he was 16. He started his comedy career while in high school and put on shows for neighbourhood kids on Chicago's South Side.

While in his 20s he worked in a variety of jobs - furniture-mover, UPS agent and bread delivery man.

Mac started as a stand-up comedian in Chicago. He won the Miller Lite Comedy Search at 32, at which point his popularity as a comedian began to grow.

A performance on HBO's Def Comedy Jam thrust him into the spotlight. He opened for Dionne Warwick and Natalie Cole.

Mac was one of the few African-American comedic actors to break out of the traditional Black Comedy genre.

He also starred in Guess Who? a comedic remake of the film Guess Who's Coming To Dinner. He also made an appearance in the 2007 movie Transformers as the car salesman Bobby Bolivia.

In 2000, Mac returned to his stand-up comedy roots, touring the country as one of The Original Kings Of Comedy. The comedy act was filmed by Spike Lee and was included in the movie The Original Kings Of Comedy.

In 2001, Fox gave Mac his own sitcom The Bernie Mac Show, somewhat based on his own life.

In the show, he suddenly becomes custodian over his sister's three children after she enters rehab.

It was a success, in part because it allowed Mac to stay true to his stand-up comedy roots, breaking the fourth wall to communicate his thoughts to the audience.

The show contained many parodies of events in Mac's actual life.

Mac was Number 72 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 Greatest Stand-Ups Of All Time.

Mac, a staunch supporter of United States Presidential candidate Barack Obama, married Rhonda McCullough in 1977. They have one daughter, Jeniece (born 1978). She has been married for three years and has a daughter, Jasmine.

Following his death, his Oceans co-star George Clooney remarked: "The world just got a little less funny."

Don Cheadle, another of his Oceans co-stars said: "This is a very sad day for many of us who knew and loved Bernie. He brought so much joy to so many. He will be missed, but Heaven just got funnier."

Saturday, August 9, 2008

About The Olympics

Thanks, Wikipedia.

First, a note about the Olympic logo of five rings coloured red, yellow, green, blue and black. They represent unity in sports amongst the five continents of Asia, Europe, Africa, America and Oceania.

The logo was designed in 1913 and made its debut at the 1914 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium.

The Olympic Games or Olympics is an international multi-sport event. The modern Olympics was inaugurated in Athens, Greece in 1896 and is held every 4 years.

The Olympics refers to the Summer Olympics. There is a winter sports event known as the Winter Olympics which began in Chamonix, France in 1924 and is also held every 4 years.

The original Olympic Games was held in 776 BC in Olympia, Greece and was celebrated until 393 AD.

Interest in reviving the Olympics was first shown by the Greek poet and newspaper editor Panagiotis Soutsos in 1833. In 1859, Greek businessman Evangelos Zappas sponsored the first modern international Olympic festival and paid for the refurbishment of the Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens.

In 1894, French businessman and nobleman Baron Pierre De Coubertin formed the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which was tasked with organising the first modern Olympics.

The first modern Olympics took place in Athens in 1896 with the motto Faster, Higher And Stronger. 241 athletes joined the event from 14 teams.

In every opening ceremony, the host team marches into the stadium last while Greece marches into the stadium first.

These are the host cities and countries of the Olympics in history:

1896 - Athens, Greece;
1900 - Paris, France;
1904 - St. Louis, United States;
1908 - London, Britain;
1912 - Stockholm, Sweden;
1916 - Berlin, Germany (cancelled because of World War I);
1920 - Antwerp, Belgium;
1924 - Paris, France;
1928 - Amsterdam, Holland;
1932 - Los Angeles, United States;
1936 - Berlin, Germany;
1940 - Helsinki, Finland (cancelled because of World War II);
1944 - London, Britain (cancelled because of World War II);
1948 - London, Britain;
1952 - Helsinki, Finland;
1956 - Melbourne, Australia;
1960 - Rome, Italy;
1964 - Tokyo, Japan;
1968 - Mexico City, Mexico;
1972 - Munich, West Germany;
1976 - Montreal, Canada;
1980 - Moscow, Soviet Union;
1984 - Los Angeles, United States;
1988 - Seoul, South Korea;
1992 - Barcelona, Spain;
1996 - Atlanta, United States;
2000 - Sydney, Australia;
2004 - Athens, Greece;
2008 - Beijing, China.