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Mamasan – lives behind the scenes of nightclub

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Following the success of his first novel, Taikor, which was nominated for the 2006 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, a storyteller Khoo Kheng-Hor has launched this second novel, Mamasan, which plunges the readers into the glitzy world of nightclubbing.

With simple plot to understand, Khoo’s Mamasan takes you behind the scenes of a large Kuala Lumpur cabaret and nightclub’s life. The main message from this novel is that peoples always wearing different masks for different occasions.

The lives of dance hostesses, managers, bouncers, mamasans and customers are narrated in quite interesting, sometimes quite confusing.

Khoo spins a tale encompassing other tales covering juvenile delinquency, growing up, deceit versus honesty, love, broken homes, corruption and power abuse of police officers, rape, blackmail and murder.

As a matter of fact, Malaysia’s English literature is not very well known in international market, yet Khoo’s effort to be quite satisfactory.

To be honest, his first novel Taikor is better than Mamasan, yet I hope that Khoo Kheng-Hor will continue his urge to tell stories.

I would like to see Khoo’s novel translates in bahasa Melayu, any takers?
Good luck buddy!

Title: Mamasan
Author: Khoo Kheng-Hor
Publisher: Pelanduk Publications (M) Sdn Bhd, 2007
ISBN: 967-978-941-1
ISBN (13): 978-967-978-941-6
Pages: 506
Price: RM38

From Beirut to Jerusalem and Blind Spot

Friday, December 7, 2007

I found two non-fiction books that worth to mention here; Dari Beirut ke Jerusalem (From Beirut to Jerusalem) and Blind Spot. Dari Beirut ke Jerusalem is the Malay version of the From Beirut to Jerusalem book that already in the market for quite sometime. The former book’s author is Dr. Ang Swee Chai and the latter is by Dr. Dzulkifli Ahmad.

I had seen From Beirut to Jerusalem book in the bookstores as well as during book exhibition for several times, but never have second thought to buy it. However, I feel interested to have it in Malay language (bahasa Melayu) version; in addition the price is only RM28 for 400 plus pages book.

This is the story of Dr Ang Swee Chai, a Penang-born orthopaedic surgeon, and her flight to war-torn Lebanon in 1982 to treat the wounded and dying. This new edition, twenty years after the Zionist terrorism in Shabra and Shatila which killed thousands of Palestinian civilians, is a tribute to the ongoing struggle against Zionist occupation in the Holy Lands.

The Blind Spot is book about the Malaysia’s Islamic state debate, new economic policy and other national pressing issues that peoples need to know from second source, rather than only rely on government information. The price of this book is RM25 for 232 pages.

I’m not sure who the publisher of the books is. You can visit Merdeka Books ( website to have a peek at the books, if you have any doubt.

Interrupt – blur!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

This novel is not what I expected. I bought this book at Payless Books, Ampang Point, Ampang because of its story – about IT and hi-tech environment – and the price; only RM7. I like technology thriller, but this novel bored me! Yet I finish reading it.

The synopsis at the back cover promising, unfortunately most of the content and plots are not what you can get as other good techno-thriller.

Not recommended to advanced readers, but for beginners, yes.


In Silicon Valley, profoundly deaf 12-year-old Wayne Faulkner tries to call 911 when an intruder stuns his father in the back yard - and 40,000 phones suddenly go dead. Wayne's father, Andy, can't figure out what happened, and he ought to see it at once: he's a telecom engineer, after all. But the terrorist Interrupt is clever, and Interrupt doesn't mind murder... Andy, soon a prime suspect, must identify Interrupt before the next killing - for Interrupt has taken Wayne. But Interrupt may be anybody, even the beautiful line worker, Nell Colson. Anybody at all.

The terrorist's code name is Interrupt and he is intent on taking down the phone lines. He will not let anything stand in his way, especially the telecom engineer father of a deaf son who depends on the phone lines for everything. It will take all that the father knows to save his son and stop the ruthless modern day terrorist.

Down with hackers!!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

This article has been published in MIMOSMIND, a MIMOS Berhad’s newsletter, September 1999 issue. Most of the text is original as published, but I do a minor adjustment where necessary. I believe this article is still relevant as people, sometimes, not take this matter seriously enough.

Do you subscribe to free email accounts such as Yahoo!, Google Mail, Hotmail, Zdnet Mail and USA Net? I bet you are. Free web-based email services (or web mail) are a common feature on most of the portal sites. They keep visitors coming back, and this will increase websites traffic. Web mail lets you check your email from any computer that is connected to the internet. Best of all, it’s free!

Without doubt, people like the idea of a constant email address. With web mail, one can keep the same address even though there is a change in jobs, schools, or the internet service provider (ISP). For instance, if I switch from using JARING to TmNet Streamyx, my email address may change from to This is true even though the ISP provides web mail service as well. But my web mail address stays the same, or

Some people also like to idea of anonymity provided by web mail. You can use whatever name you like, as long as you type in the information required by the portal sites. You can utilize words according to your taste such as ‘hantu’ as your email ID and put in ‘pokok kelapa’ as your first and second name. Somebody staying in Kuala Lumpur can type in a fictitious address, say Kuala Nerang, Kedah.

But then, what about security vulnerabilities with web mail? Is it safe from hackers – people who gain unauthorized access to computer or telecommunications systems (such as the internet and intranet) for the heck of it?

Some hackers try to obtain internet user passwords under fraudulent pretences. This is mostly done through emails with false headers, which give users the impression that the email is coming from a valid source. The email will make a request for the Internet user’s password. Users should beware of emails that ask for passwords in exchange for gifts as pirated software or pornographic pictures. Sound so stupid, but so many peoples already being cheated.

Some hackers will also try to log-on to your web mail. Several email services allow an unlimited number of log-on attempts. This means that malicious internet users can try password guessing and brute-force password attacks on account that uses those systems.

Some portal sites even ask the hacker if they require help in recalling the password. Scary huh? Thus, it is very important that internet users select passwords that make guessing game and password-cracking as difficult as possible. Your password is the first line of defence against potential hackers.

All web mail services in portal sites have policies regarding security and mass distribution of unsolicited email or spamming. However, repeated log-in attempts are not prevented. Furthermore, the user is not notified when a number of failed log-in attempts have occurred. This weakness in the system affects many internet surfers.

To circumvent this, the best thing to do at the first stage is to have an official email address with an ISP for official, business related and other important communications purposes. Use portal sites email addresses for less important messages. You can also implement the secure socket layer (SSL) protocol or other latest security solution for log-in and for accessing information. SSL encrypts the data that you send and receive from a website and has no discernible effect on your system. It protects your email privacy.

There have been additional attempts to make email increasingly private with the use of encryption technology. This technology is currently used for commercial or political purposes. For instance, online trading. Applying the technology to email is essentially similar. One uses a public-key distribution mechanism and strong encryption tools to render the text of the message unreadable.

A popular encryption program is the PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) suite, which is now available worldwide. PGP is a public key encryption system that has gained popularity for encrypting and signing email messages. Both commercial and freeware are available.

PGP was developed in the US where strong encryption tools such as this are considered military technology, and therefore not exportable except under licensed conditions. Fortunately, the program’s creator, Phil Zimmermann, put the software on a publicly accessible internet host, from which it spread around the world.

For more information about PGP, its user interface and how to use it, visit relevant websites, such as

Mata Hari?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I like this novel because the story involves different culture and taking places across the continent; from Europe to Southeast Asia. A kind of historical saga as well.

Publisher Comments:

In the cold October of 1917 Margaretha Zelle, better known as Mata Hari, sits in a prison cell in Paris awaiting trial on charges of espionage. The penalty is death by firing squad. As she waits, burdened by a secret guilt, Mata Hari tells stories, Scheherazade-like, to buy back her life from her interrogators.

From a bleak childhood in the Netherlands, through a loveless marriage to a Dutch naval officer, Margaretha is transported to the forbidden sensual pleasures of Indonesia. In the chill of her prison cell she spins tales of rosewater baths, native lovers, and Javanese jungles, evoking the magical world that sustained her even as her family crumbled.

And then, in flight from her husband, Margaretha reinvents herself: she becomes an artist's model, circus rider, and finally the temple dancer Mata Hari, dressed in veils, admired by Diaghilev, performing for the crowned heads of Europe. Through all her transformations, her life's fatal questions — was she a traitor, and if so, why? — burns ever brighter.

Mata Hari is Malay word for "Eye of the Sun".

Novel by Douglas Chua, a must read

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I read all this books by Douglas Chua. Indeed, very interesting to see Asian author in international market. Two of the books, The Missing Page and Ransom, have been restricted by KDN Johor Bahru, Johor. Want to know why, read his books.

The Missing Page (Prequel to the Crisis In The Straits)

Singapore’s sovereignty is at stake. An ancient document pushes Malaysia and Singapore to the brink of war. Chua has been described as “Singapore's Jeffrey Archer”.

Crisis In The Straits

Malaysian ambassador in Singapore is gunned down, triggering a crisis which threatens to escalate into a full-scale war between the two countries. At the heart of the row is a secret document, code-named The Missing Page. If authentic, the document would undermine Singapore’s existence as a sovereign nation.

Special agent Alex Han, a decorated hero, is the only one who knows the whereabouts of The Missing Page. Accused of murdering the vicious killer Othello and fanatical diplomat Mustapha ambassador, Alex is torn between country and family as he confronts two men, who will stop at nothing to possess the document.

The tension mounts and Malaysia invades Singapore, bringing to a head the Crisis In The Straits.

Something strange is happening to the water in Singapore. Kerosene is mysteriously found in water tanks, farm animals are dying drinking it and a mystery diver is spotted swimming in a reservoir under cover of darkness.

Special agent Alex Han is called out of retirement by the Prime Minister on another mission to save his country. When he agrees to negotiate with a terrorist who is holding the island nation to a US$100 billion ransom, Alex discovers there is more at stake than just money. A string of mysterious deaths occur around the island as Alex races against time to save Singapore and confront a faceless terrorist.

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Publisher Comments:

In The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically. Exposing the thinking, the money trail and the puppet strings behind the world-changing crises and wars of the last four decades, The Shock Doctrine is the gripping story of how America's "free market" policies have come to dominate the world- — through the exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries.

At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq's civil war, a new law is unveiled that would allow Shell and BP to claim the country's vast oil reserves.... Immediately following September 11, the Bush Administration quietly out-sources the running of the "War on Terror" to Halliburton and Blackwater.... After a tsunami wipes out the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches are auctioned off to tourist resorts.... New Orleans's residents, scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discover that their public housing, hospitals and schools will never be reopened.... These events are examples of "the shock doctrine": using the public's disorientation following massive collective shocks — wars, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters — to achieve control by imposing economic shock therapy. Sometimes, when the first two shocks don't succeed in wiping out resistance, a third shock is employed: the electrode in the prison cell or the Taser gun on the streets.

Based on breakthrough historical research and four years of on-the-ground reporting in disaster zones, The Shock Doctrine vividly shows how disaster capitalism — the rapid-fire corporate reengineering of societies still reeling from shock — did not begin with September 11, 2001. The book traces its origins back fifty years, to the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman, which produced many of the leading neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinkers whose influence is still profound in Washington today. New, surprising connections are drawn between economic policy, "shock and awe" warfare and covert CIA-funded experiments in electroshock and sensory deprivation in the 1950s, research that helped write the torture manuals used today in Guantanamo Bay.

The Shock Doctrine follows the application of these ideas though our contemporary history, showing in riveting detail how well-known events of the recent past have been deliberate, active theatres for the shock doctrine, among them: Pinochet's coup in Chile in 1973, the Falklands War in 1982, the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Asian Financial crisis in 1997 and Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

Amazon Planning E-Book Debacle

Amazon is apparently planning to release a $399 e-book reading device called Kindle on Monday. I'd have thought that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos would know better since he was around at the turn of the century, during the first e-book flop.

If the pictures posted on Engadget are remotely close to the final form of the device, I have to say that Kindle is a thing of unsurpassed ugliness. The iPhone it is not. And that's a problem: The iPhone is, in my opinion, the best e-reading device currently available. Kindle's failure to learn any lessons from the iPhone will be its doom.

Back in 1999, I spoke with IDC analyst Sean Kaldor for a PC Computing Magazine article on e-books. He said basically that no one was buying e-book reading devices.

"The fact that we don't see consumers adopting these devices en masse tells me that it's not just a device issue," he said. "It's a fundamental shift in consumer attitudes and actions that needs to happen."

Eight years later, that shift still hasn't happened.

Full story:

Bigger book bonanza

IF you’re a book lover with groaning bookshelves at home, any store that sells books is a dangerous place to step into: because it’s so difficult to leave without buying an addition to those shelves.

Well, fellow book worms, it’s with trepidation I report that the Kinokuniya Bookstores in Suria KLCC has become even more dangerous than it used to be: it’s bigger! From about 2,000sq m, the store has expanded to more than 2,700sq m.

Full story: The Star Online

Khoo’s third novel - Nanyang

Thursday, November 1, 2007

In his third novel, NANYANG, Khoo spins an absorbing saga of Nanyang, literally meaning the Southern Ocean, a name given by the early Chinese migrants for the part of the world known today as Malaysia and Singapore.

It is an engaging tale linking the multi-racial peoples such as the orang asli (or original people as the aborigines were called), the people from various parts of Southeast Asia collectively known as the Malays, the Chinese (migrants and Straits-born Peranakan), the Indians, and of course, the Eurasians, descendants of inter-marriages of the natives and the Europeans, such as the early Portuguese who came to colonize the wealthy Malacca Sultanate, before being chased out by the Dutch, who in turn were outmaneuvered by the British, who thereafter systematically colonized the land to be known as British Malaya, and the Crown Colony of Singapore until they too were driven out by the Japanese.

Here is their fascinating stories as seen through the lives of four generations of a few families.

Who Changed the Bible

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Who’s Dr. Bart Ehrman?

Dr. Bart Ehrman, the author of Lost Christianities and Lost Scriptures, has devoted his scholarly life to the recovery and interpretation of ancient biblical texts. He is unapologetic about his intense commitment: In the absence of original manuscripts of the books of the New Testament, he notes, questions of transmission and text become paramount. Misquoting Jesus offers a revelatory view of the Gospels and Paul's Epistles, arguing that scribes and editors altered almost all extant manuscripts. Part memoir, part biblical history, part textual criticism, Misquoting Jesus challenges us to look anew at texts that have shaped our culture.

The Bible Delusion
A Review by Doug Brown

Source: Powell Books

Those who call the King James Version of the Bible the unerring word of God have a slight problem. The New Testament of the KJV (as the King James Version is usually referred) was translated into English from a version of the Greek New Testament that had been collected from twelfth-century copies by Erasmus. Where Erasmus couldn't find Greek manuscripts, he translated to Greek from the Latin Vulgate (which itself had been translated from Greek back in the fourth century).

Here the problem splits into two problems. First, Jesus spoke Aramaic --- his actual words, never recorded, were only rendered in Greek in the original gospels. Thus, the KJV consists of Jesus' words twice refracted through the prism of translation. Second, Erasmus's Greek New Testament was based on handwritten copies of copies of copies of copies, etc., going back over a millennium, and today is considered one of the poorer Greek New Testaments. It is this second problem that Ehrman spends most time on in Misquoting Jesus, a fascinating account of New Testament textual criticism.

Many people have a vague notion that all the original biblical texts are preserved in vaults somewhere, and translators work from those original texts. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. The earliest surviving versions of the gospels are handwritten copies dating from centuries after the original texts were written. Also, we don't just have a single version of each gospel; we have many versions, and even more fragments. The trouble is, none of the versions agree with each other. As Ehrman puts it, there are more points of disagreement between manuscripts than there are words in the Gospels. So which one is right? How can one tell what the original authors intended?

One way is to try and establish which manuscript is the earliest, and call it closest to the author's intent. However, it may not be. Ehrman describes how the earliest copies of Christian texts were done by everyday folks, many of whom were barely literate; it is thus among the earliest copies that the greatest disagreements are found. In later times, professional scribes did most of the copying, resulting in fewer inter-copy disagreements. Also, we may have a document from the fourth century and one from the eighth; but the latter might have been copied from a second-century document, making it closer to the original. In general, though, if most early manuscripts have a given wording and later versions have another, scholars assume the early version is correct.

Another method of deciding which of two text versions is closer to the original is geographic comparison. If all the manuscripts from Alexandria have one version of text, but copies from everywhere else have another version, the Alexandria version is probably incorrect. Also, Ehrman controversially argues that if we have two passages, one with an easier interpretation and another with a harder, the latter is more likely correct. Scribes would often clean up passages that were hard to interpret, or that seemed to make Jesus hard to understand.

Then there is the issue of later scribes just plain adding in things that weren't there before. These additions often came from the verbal tradition of the early church, or to bring a given gospel in line with other gospels. One of the biggest apparent additions to the gospels is the last twelve verses of Mark (16:9-20). They are not present in early versions of the gospel, and include the famous passage that is the primary basis for Pentecostal and snake-handling churches, as well as for many a fly-by-night faith healer:

And these are the signs that will accompany those who believe: they will cast out demons in my name; they will speak in new tongues; and they will take up snakes in their hands; and if they drink any poison it will not harm them; they will place their hands upon the sick and heal them.

In addition to not being present in earlier versions, Ehrman states the writing style of these verses are different from the rest of Mark, and contain vocabulary not present in the rest of the gospel. Some later scribe possibly felt that the gospel ended too abruptly and added a more Messianic coda. And in doing so, condemned many an Appalachian pit viper to a life of abuse at the hands of people who think Jesus said something he likely didn't.

Alteration of texts by copyists was such a problem that many ancient scribes and authors would include warnings similar to today's anti-copying legal disclaimers. One figure in Misquoting Jesus is a page of a fourth-century manuscript on which a medieval scribe has scrawled a complaint in the margins about an earlier scribe altering the text: "Fool and knave, leave the old reading, don't change it." The book of Revelation contains one of the first copyright warnings, which Ehrman quotes: "I testify to everyone who hears to the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book; and if anyone removes any of the words of the book of this prophecy, God will remove his share from the tree of life...." The wording may have changed over the centuries, but the sentiment hasn't.

In many respects, the Bible was the world's first Wikipedia article. So many hands have altered and edited the now lost originals that we will never know for sure what those originals said. I find it amusing that the Christian Right in America spends its energy attacking evolution, arguing that teaching evolution is teaching atheism.

For Ehrman, learning about the Bible is what caused his belief to change. He still believes in God, but no longer believes the Bible is an inerrant source of the Word. It would be interesting to know how many people became less religiously devout after learning science versus learning about Bible and church history. Instead of convincing believers not to read Dawkins and Darwin, the biblical literalists might better spend their energy keeping folks away from Ehrman (in fact, backlash books attacking Ehrman --- often personally --- and defending Biblical infallibility are already appearing).

Ehrman isn't an atheist assaulting belief; he is just a scholarly believer saying he feels the evidence is clear that the gospels were written by men with personal agendas, and both accidentally and intentionally altered over the centuries by other men with agendas of their own. Then, from all the texts that existed, some other men with agendas selected the canon and deemed the other texts apocrypha. The main thrust of what Jesus said and did is undoubtedly in there, but that's all we can be sure of. For believer or atheist, I recommend Misquoting Jesus to anyone with an interest in where this ancient anthology that has helped shape our culture came from.

I’m Muslim but I have two Bibles for my own reference.

Inside Hamas: The Untold Story of the Militant Islamic Movement

Monday, July 2, 2007

To know about Hamas, why they exist and why Palestinians fight Israelis, this is the book you should read. The truth is still the truth, no matter what; just open your eyes and heart.

I feel really excited to get this book.

From publisher

The radical Islamist movement Hamas shocked the world when it won a landslide election victory in January 2006 in the Palestinian occupied territories.

One of the few journalists not to be surprised by this outcome was Zaki Chehab who has developed an international reputation as a fearless reporter and was one of the first to interview members the Iraqi resistance in May 2003. Fluent in Arabic, he is a Palestinian refugee who grew up in UN refugee camps and has unique access to and understanding of Hamas.

Like Hezbollah in neighboring Lebanon, Chehab shows how Hamas built a formidable social base in Palestine through its welfare programs. He also explains why, in the face of the endless complexities, disappointments and delays brought about by the signing of the Oslo Peace Accord, Hamas's strategy of armed struggle and terrorism offers the Palestinian people a seductive, simple and deadly alternative.

Title: Inside Hamas: The Untold Story of the Militant Islamic Movement

Author: Zaki Chehab

Asy-Syahid Sheikh Ahmad Yasin

A Review by Michael B. Farrell

On April 6, 1994, Yehia Ayyash, one of the more elusive members of the Islamic Resistance Movement known by its Arab acronym Hamas, left an indelible mark on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The man whom former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin called "the Engineer" dispatched a Palestinian named Raed Zakarneh on what would be a historic mission. When Mr. Zakarneh blew his car up, killing himself and eight Israelis at a bus stop in the Israeli city of Afula, he became Hamas's first suicide bomber.

The attack was retribution for a massacre perpetrated by a Jewish settler, Baruch Goldstein, who threw a hand grenade into a crowded mosque, killing 29 Palestinians.

And so Hamas literally exploded onto the world stage. Today, Israel and the US consider it a terrorist organization with which they refuse to negotiate.

Yet neither they -- nor the rest of the world -- can afford to ignore Hamas, particularly since the group's most recent historic feat: seizing control of the Gaza Strip and routing out Fatah, the main faction of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

So how did this marginal group, inspired by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, grow from its shadowy beginnings in the densely populated slums of the Gaza Strip to first win a landslide victory in the January 2006 Palestinian election and now to hold complete control over all of Gaza?

Zaki Chehab's new book, Inside Hamas: The Untold Story of the Militant Islamic Movement, goes a long way toward answering such questions. Chehab's book not only explains the methodical rise of Hamas, but also offers insights into the group's psyche that go beyond the stereotypes perpetuated by so much of today's news coverage.

Chehab is a veteran Arab journalist who has covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for a quarter century and is now the London bureau chief for Al Hayat.

But he is more than that. Chehab is also a Palestinian who was himself born in a refugee camp, a credential that has allowed him unprecedented access to any number of high-level sources.

Through interviews with Sheikh Ahmed Ismail Hassan Yassin, the so-called "father" of Hamas, Chehab lays the groundwork for the group's evolution: "The first phase was to build institutions; charities and social committees which would open their doors to the young and old -- anyone who could play a role in resisting the occupier," explains Sheikh Yassin.

The second, he told Chehab, was to work on "strengthening the roots of the resistance within every household in the West Bank and Gaza."

From there, it became possible to build a military that evolved from rock throwing to rocket launching and finally to establish a dialogue between Hamas and its Arab and Islamic neighbors.

Hamas saw success on all fronts, as Chehab explains in interviews with other key Hamas members who have managed to survive (avoiding the fate of Ayyash, the Engineer, who the author says was assassinated by Israeli intelligence) to lead it today.

But Chehab doesn't stop with an examination of the group's leadership. He moves on to probe its rank and file and offers the reader a glimpse of the poverty and anger that turn ordinary men and women into militants.

He talks to the mother of a young martyr who urged her son to take up arms at an early age. So enmeshed in her family's daily life is the fight against Israel that on their wall hangs a framed piece of barbed wire torn from a Jewish settlement.

Chehab watched as two Hamas members caught the elderly, grieving father of a suicide bomber in their arms as he collapsed from grief. Within minutes, they had persuaded him that this was not a loss but an honor. Such views, Chehab makes clear, are not the ravings of an isolated few. The Islamic Resistance Movement, he argues, is not going away, or not going quietly. It has broad and growing support among Palestinians, deep backing within the region, and impressive resilience.

Inside Hamas could hardly be more timely, although, written before the seizure of Gaza, it runs the risk of being overtaken by events. But that doesn't alter the force of Chehab's conviction: Hamas must be part of any regional negotiations.

"Attacking and isolating Hamas, as has been done," he writes, "is merely making the movement more popular."

Michael B. Farrell is the Monitor's Middle East news editor

History made easy

Monday, June 25, 2007

I have always searched for English fiction books written by Asian and local authors. One day, I can’t recall the exact date – maybe it was two years ago – I found Taikor by Khoo Kheng-Hor at one of the bookstores. Despite my busy schedule, I looked forward to reading the book, which I finished within a week.

A historical saga, Taikor brings back the past for those who can still remember and for the young (like me) who wish to know how things used to be in the years between 1932 and 1982. It certainly took me down memory lane to forgotten places. It also briefly explains the events leading to our country’s independence.

Thus, it is very suitable for those who aren’t fond of reading long-winded history books but are looking for something where historical facts are built into the story as part of the saga.

This is one of the very rare, well-written English works of fiction by a local author. No wonder it was nominated for the 2006 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Briefly, the story begins in pre-war British-ruled Malaya and is about the life of a boy as he grows to manhood. Ya Loong’s family migrates from South Thailand to Penang after his father passes away.

After his mother remarries, the young Ya Loong is sent away by his stepfather to live with a relative in Shanghai. His life is somewhat changed by events in that war-torn city. Upon his return, he faces a difficult situation as he has to find a way to earn a living and survive the bloody days of Japanese occupation.

After the war, he discovers his destiny by becoming a taikor – a term meaning “big brother” as accorded to a secret society’s chieftain – in Penang’s chaotic underworld. But after Malaya becomes an independent sovereign country, for the sake of his family, the taikor breaks away from his past involvement in triad activities and begins a new life.

The tale has very interesting plots and sub-plots that make it almost impossible or frustrating (as in my case) to put aside the book after you have started to read it. And, the author doesn’t try to impress anyone with bombastic English but writes in simple language.

I found it a breeze to read the book and enjoyed every moment of it and can’t wait for the next book by the author.


Author: Khoo Kheng-Hor

Publisher: Pelanduk Publications (M) Sdn Bhd (, 2004

ISBN No: 967-978-878-4

538 pages

International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is the largest and most international prize of its kind. It involves libraries from all corners of the globe (including Malaysia National Library), and is open to books written in any language.

The Award, an initiative of Dublin City Council, Ireland, is a partnership between Dublin City Council, the Municipal Government of Dublin City, and IMPAC, a productivity improvement company which operates in over 50 countries.

The Award is administered by Dublin City Public Libraries.

Potter’s impact to the book world

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Report says that book industry will miss Harry Potter. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in J.K. Rowling's series, goes on sale July 21. The series' impact can't be overstated: 325 million copies have sold worldwide. This is massive!

One bookseller says, “Everyone seems to be talking about life after Harry,” and world publishers agree that Harry will be missed.

"I don't know if we are ever going to see anything like Harry Potter again in children's or even adult books," says Paul Crichton of Simon & Schuster Children's Books. "Harry will be missed like there is no tomorrow. But publishers have to forge ahead and move on. What Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling have done is incredible. To lose something that strong is going to have an impact.

Can Malay publishers give the same impact to the Malaysia’s book industry as what Potter done to the world?


Reading is a passion which is developed from young age and is absolutely irreplaceable.

Anyone can beat me?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sometimes, I’m a bit greedy when comes to reading books. Too many books to read make me read four books in one time. Reading, slowly and steady, in between catering sessions, I always look for time to be alone and occupied with book.

Latest in my hand is Applying Sun Tzu's Art of War in Managing your Money by Khoo Kheng-Hor. Here you will find tips that could help you effectively manage your money. Just as generals of old could find practical tips on how to apply the 2,500-year-old military treatise to enrich their kingdom's wealth, you too could enrich yourself. The tips here could very well help you on your way to becoming financially independent, if not wealthy.

Opps, wrong, another one, book by Dr. Aidh bin Abdullah Al-Qarni, “Kisah Kerasulan Nabi Muhammad S.A.W (Intisari Dari Sirah)”.

Buy books online or offline?

Dear readers, I published this story because it’s interesting to take note that in the age of Internet, booksellers, and booklovers especially, still like to buy books at physical bookstores. Really? Some says better buy online, some says not. Hey, you have a choice.

Read this report.

Book world prepares to network at expo

NEW YORK- This year's BookExpo America will be a story of networking, the old way and the new.

Starting Thursday, thousands of authors, publishers, booksellers and librarians will gather at the Jacob Javits Convention Center to discuss what's coming out and what's going on. They will catch up as they always have, face to face, at exhibitors' booths and in conference rooms, in restaurants, bars and hotels.

"It is a sort of tribal ritual for the industry that can only happen in person," says Jonathan Burnham, senior vice president and publisher of HarperCollins.

"It's a bit like what happens when you're buying a book. There are people who think you can do all your shopping online, but if you go to a bookstore, there's a physical experience of things you might not see. With the convention, it's also serendipitous, a meeting of 'X' with 'Y' and 'Z' that can't happen with the Internet."

But BookExpo will also be a demonstration of how "X" and "Y" can meet online, and then link to "Z." For the first time, will attend the convention, hosting a panel on networking and serving as a supporting BEA sponsor. The industry has increasingly turned to the Internet social site, which features reading groups, author postings and its own list of the most popular titles, ranked by the number of "blog links."

"I think MySpace and YouTube and all the blogs are really the coming thing now," says David Shanks, CEO of Penguin Group (USA), which has been using MySpace to promote "Requiem for an Assassin," a thriller by Barry Eisler.


Science fiction 'thrives in hi-tech world'

Monday, May 21, 2007

Science fiction fans, here is one news for you, read on!

By Darren Waters, Technology editor, BBC News website

Science fiction writer Alastair Reynolds is in a prime position to look dispassionately at the present and project into the future, having spent 12 years as an astronomer with the European Space Agency (Esa).

He spent more than a decade combining his work at Esa with writing science fiction short stories, before making writing his career and publishing novels such as Revelation Space, Pushing Ice and his latest, The Prefect.

Science fiction has always been regarded with disdain by the literati but the genre has helped the world understand some of the most profound changes to society wrought by technology - such as space travel, satellite communications and robotics.

But when we live in a world immersed in nanotechnology, quantum computing and discoveries of Super Earth-like planets, do we need science fiction anymore?


The Jade King

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Jade King is the story of three generations of a Chinese Muslim family, from the turbulent years of the Japanese invasion and Second World War to the present. Central to the theme of this tragic novel are the four harrowing love stories of father, son, aunt and daughter, each victim of prejudice and fate.

The novel is regarding a modern Chinese culture set in the Muslim community in Bejing. Fascinating, and full of reminders of the importance of the past. The author Huo Da, a Muslim herself, locates her narrative in the specific milieu of Beijing`s Muslim community with its jade artisans, astute merchants, hardworking housewives, and its young people struggling to assert their independence and individuality in the face of religious and social bigotry.

The Muslim community and family concern in this novel is centered at Hui clan of Chinese races. This community pays a great attention to cleanliness, abstinence from pork, as well as wears white caps the Muslim men wear. And the fact is that the existence of a Muslim district in Beijing and the Ox Street Mosque.

Old Master jade artisan Liang, a poor but talented jade craftsman, has one regret in life; he has no son and heir to carry on the family business and run the Rare Gem Studio. One day, a venerable old Muslim (Tuloyedin) on his way to Holy City of Mecca, Saudi Arabia and accompanied by his young disciple (Ibrahim or Han Ziqi) appears at Liang`s door to ask for sustenance. Entranced by Liang`s exquisite jade work and his two beautiful daughters, the disciple begs to be allowed to stay. The fate of the Liang family is changed forever.

Richly textured, moving, tremendously exciting, The Jade King is a veritable tour de force. It was accorded China`s top literary accolade, the Mao Dun Prize for Literature.

I hope readers will realize that amongst China`s 56 ethnic groups, ten are believers in Islam, and among the 1 over billion Chinese people there is a young Hui writer, who was written a book in Chinese about the life of the Hui people.

The publisher is Chinese Literature Press, Beijing, China, under trademark of Panda Book. In the 1980s and 90s, the Beijing-based publisher published the Panda Book series of Chinese literary works, similar to the UK`s Penguin Books, in English, French and German. The Panda Book series include modern and classical Chinese fiction and poetry, and is said warmly welcomed by Chinese literature funs.

Author: Huo Da
China Literature Press, Beijing, China, 1997
ISBN: 7-5071-0090-1 and 0-8351-2099-6

Paperback, 595 pages