Monday, April 28, 2008
Selamat Periksa-LAH
It was 3 years ago, when scholarships were all important. With me were my desk-mate Hasif who is now somewhere in Australia and Faiz who is now skirmishing to make a break in India.

It was few minutes before the ever anticipated SPM started, when tension was in the air, without we really felt it provided that we have friends looking after and helping each others out.

And few hours before that.

Memories. But they were all 3 years ago. What I'm doing now is a different cup of tea - where I learnt what Kiasu is all about. I’m bidding goodbye to this program in a few weeks time, after a rigorous 2 years. Before I get myself occupied with what supposed people of my age do after 2 years of age-stopper, I have to go through the final check first, the final exam. My final IB exam is just around the corner. 7 days away to be exact. If you read this blog by heart, you might remember the post I wrote about Exam-itis, a disease which spread among students whom exam is minutes away. As you might expect, it happens again.

As the teachers here would say, MARA College Banting specialty is in its IRP program, which stands out for Intensive Revision Program. The one month program aims to prepare the students with modules and intensive tutorials, by conditioning the students to answer past years questions over and over again.

The key for this program is repetition.

But to repeatedly cling to dirty antics of being kiasu is never going to make you STAY on top, though it might be the key to go on top.

Kiasu issue aside, this is what I get after two hours of revision during the program yesterday, which I answered the question which requires me to write an essay about prasangka social dan sikap bias pengarang which suppose to imply social critic. That’s my mind map anyway – Reggie Lee’s style.

Whatever it is guys, good luck for any exam impending – academic test, driving test, eye test, imaan test, friendship test, love test etc. Anyhow, you can’t really run from it, life is a test.

Ya Allah,

Sometimes I feel a little strange praying to You because of an exam. It doesn't really seem all that significant when you consider the ‘big picture’. But right now, the test looms so large that it is all I can see before me. I pray to you for three things the strength to handle the pressure that I feel, the confidence to feel secure in my knowledge and preparation, and the ability to keep an appropriate perspective on it all. Help me to keep in mind what is really important, even as I focus all of my time and energy on this test in the immediate future.

Amin Amin Ya Rabbal ‘Alamin

Semoga berjaya kawan-kawan.
posted by Izham Ismail at 8:17 pm | Permalink | 8 comments
Friday, April 25, 2008
Fiddling Malaysians, Reaping Neighbour
I couldn’t help of being spiteful towards Singapore. Well maybe because it’s a notorious fact that Malaysians and Singaporeans just can’t get along together. Like oil and water, cat and dog or however you put it on how hostile the relationship can get albeit geographically they live side by side and by logic, should be the best of friends. Unquestionably, both sides did a great job undermining each others capacity. Singaporeans took pride in saying Malaysians are lazy, underachieving people, and Malaysians would be in high spirits to label their neighbour kiasu.

Whatever it is, Singaporeans play better football than Malaysians do, which makes me doomed with mixed feelings of madness, fury, embarrassment, discontent and disbelief on how a small country, could make it big in football, at least in Asia. Its official, 3 Singaporeans confirmed their place on the list of 25 candidates to bid for 2008 AFC Player of The Year. They are Aleksandar Duric, Indra Sahdan Daud and Mohammad Shahril Ishak who set to sit on the same roll alongside the likes of South Korean’s evergreen left-footed magician Seol Ki-Hyeon, Middlesbrough stronghold guardian Mark Schwarzer and Tottenham Hotspur’s Lee Young Pyo.

The likes of our starlets in Akhmal Rizal Ahmad Rakhli; who tipped to be the next big thing after his two years stint with French side Racing Strasbourg, Aidil Zafuan and Zaquan Adha twin brothers; who come into view promoting cute Malaysian jersey on some Nike’s adverts, among others, couldn’t be seen on the list. It might be an indication that few hundreds thousands of ringgits if not millions spent by FAM are clear partisan and merely done under undisclosed political agenda. And just few weeks before, FAM sent two Kedah players in Badrol Bakhtiar and a newly promising (as always) chap in Bunyamin Omar to train with Chelsea.

Cute jersey, isn't it?

To acquire new experience. They say.

A waste of money. I say, given that people in Chelsea might have more interest working on their Barclays Premier League campaign rather than grooming underachieving, short, physically disadvantaged Asian players.

The feat reminded me of our Angkasawan, who was sent to space for RM3.4 billion. Malaysia beefed up its air force, became the 38th country to send a person into space and found prospects to explore how gasing works in zero gravity when there are still 75,000 drug addicts, 57,000 people with HIV and 65,000 reported cases of motorcycle theft in Malaysia, not to mention thousands more living in poverty.

RM3.4b logo

If not because of science, we sent him for international recognition. Well, pepatah Melayu said it best in the saying

Ukur baju biarlah di badan sendiri

Why not start with the quality of our grass root football. I am sure there are plenty of football enthusiast and real football hero around who works around the clock organizing football tournaments around the country, asking for sponsorship and monetary supports. They need the money. Our football scene needs the money.

The admissions of the three Singaporeans players speak volume on how Singaporean football has grown by leaps and bounds, which definitely sends a clear message why they quit from Malaysian football many years ago – Malaysians football are not up to the standards they want to pull off their career.

I was particularly dejected, not because of their achievement, but more towards Malaysian football apathetic attitude towards making it big in the world arena. It seems that we are not serious enough to make into the fray where big players would look up and see us as a stern competitor.

Stop calling them kiasu I suppose. They achieve more than us as we speak.

Anyhow, I love this country.

Towards a lively Malaysian football scene, and a much matured Malaysia.

posted by Izham Ismail at 3:32 pm | Permalink | 5 comments
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Keeping up with the Jameses
..if you couldnt keep up with the Joneses.

Vesper Lynd : Are you trying to seduce me?
James Bond : No. You are not my type.
Vesper Lynd : Because I’m smart?
James Bond : No. Single.

And that’s why I like James Bond.

posted by Izham Ismail at 8:37 pm | Permalink | 0 comments
Monday, April 21, 2008
Satu belakang, dua depan
The title can suggest on something dodgy isn’t it. Let’s not go into that. It actually stands for the step we have to take to move forward, to thrust ourselves ahead in whatever we do.

Put aside unrealistic missions and objectives. Thrust aside fantasies to lift the World Cup. At least for now. Let’s get back to basics. Maybe the best gift, or the answer to Malaysian football team in its trail on very challenging years ahead.

"Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man." - Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

Stupidity is not an option. Football is not just about kicking, passing, holding up the ball and score goals, well they might be true, but intricacy of football lies in its philosophy, values and principles which compose the definition of a beautiful game.

Perhaps we don’t really understand football enough to enjoy it.

posted by Izham Ismail at 9:16 pm | Permalink | 0 comments
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Pesta Tari Menari Di Longbourne
Title - a scene from the translated version of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, 5ive, some of my favorite boy bands I used to learn their lyrics by heart. Most of the boy bands would have a front man who usually be the most cute, fashionable and certainly the best voice. Girls (and some sissy boys, OK, some normal boys) would scream their lungs out when the likes of Justin Timberlake and Nick Carter grab the microphone and hit the stage with their moves and charming voice. I beg to differ. I had always adored the second man, for I had secretly cheered for JC Chasez and Kevin whenever their band’s front man took his breath after long dominating the microphone and center stage. Second man deserved the limelight as well, as they sometimes can be better than the front man himself, as in the case of A.J, whom I find better than Nick Carter (whatever say you Nick die-hards) – not because he dressed like Puff Daddy, but his dancing ability which I secretly admire up until now.

As Long As You Love Me, Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely, Bye Bye Bye, It’s Gonna Be Me, Tearing up My Heart etc are just some of the deep-rooted icon of boy-bands music genre which are still in my playlist, and maybe hundred more years to come. It was a down memory lane when I randomly shuffle my playlist only to have the voice of Justin Timberlake singing to Pop! and Brian Littrell to Everybody tuned my ears.

With the likes of Breaking Benjamin, Billy Talent, Snow Patrol, Placebo and blah blah blah representing the new age band, those magicians from the boy bands era are ceased to get the highlight, as they are just part of the long-forgotten piece of music history. Yes, they are just memories.

And just last month, I had the chance to bring the great music memories, the boy band era back to earth (at least to KMB) and left people around lip-synching and sing to the long-forgotten tune of boy-band genre. I had the chance to be the second man.

Indeed, video speaks a million words.

We took 3 days to practice, 4 minutes to perform and rest of our life to cherish the day we tried to be like our used-to-be idols and hark back to the moment when BSB and N’Sync came to our life.

The Rabbanis turned N'Syncs - Bal, Nazha, Thaksin, Cucam, Abu, Tot, Apek, Majin, Se, Dedust. You guys rocked.
posted by Izham Ismail at 1:10 pm | Permalink | 4 comments
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Tanah Ayaq
The startling general election has spawned plethora of responses from the public for few weeks now. So many issues were hoisted and much to my delight, most of them were raised in much matured fashion, all to have a say and contribute towards building a better Malaysia. 

Fair enough, public expectations are high-ceilinged, entirely to push the leaders to perform better. While they shoulder massive responsibilities in running the country, we should bear in mind that nation building is not just about having an efficient administration and line of resourceful leaders. Ordinary Malaysians have a say in nation building as well.

As far as I’m concerned, it is good to throw our piece of mind on how to build a better country, as for what-should and what-shouldn’t our leaders do. In other words, a politically active citizen symbolizes maturity of the country, at least as our own Vision 2020 would suggest. Newspapers, be it mainstreams or tabloids, online news and blogs or even conversation with your dentist are just some many resources made available to you to keep yourself updated with the going-ons in our country’s political arena. Reading and keep yourself updated are fine. In fact, it’s a good way to become politically active without being overly so.

The country should be built on the basis of intelligence and should be constantly geared up towards advancement the same way. It is only wise if we could close ranks and avoid nasty and unnecessary confrontations which are reflections of the country’s incompetence and the people’s immaturity. Not all counsels are constructive and flare-ups are not entirely destructive, and we have to build each others opinion from there up as to really build a nation in unison. 

Most of the responses, comments and opinions from the public had keep me amused very much, as the tone and style could give obvious idea which party or side they had their votes for.

But despite the differences in tone, and perhaps degree of profanity, they share one definite similarity, they are hoping for a better Malaysia. They love this country. So do all of us. I love this country.
Yes, I love this country.
I repeat, I love this country.
posted by Izham Ismail at 4:14 pm | Permalink | 3 comments
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Bernafas Dalam Lumpur
Well I have missed quite a number of momentous events in the world of football, from the appointment of Fabio Capello as England coach to the confirmed entry of Liverpool in this year’s edition of UEFA Champions League. Fixed between the two occasions was the emergence of new generations of young starlets in Alex ‘The Duck’ Pato and Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero, who made a massive break in the world of football, with Pato scoring a goal in his debut for Brazil, and quick to become a useful replacement for injured Ronaldo and misfiring Gilardino to provide AC Milan with goals galore. Meanwhile, Aguero, whom two years younger than me, had tasted European football lavishness, having been paid few hundred thousands Euro per week to wear number 10 jersey in Atletico Madrid, and set to become the perfect heir to Torres’ legacy. Football has been a successful sport over the century and it is constantly growing and developing, so does the quality of young players across the globe – who are quick to become prime target for European, rich clubs. The quality of young players South American football has been producing is a reflection of how well-developed and proficient their football system is, with a huge boost of delirious passion to the beautiful game.

Would it be nice if Alexander Pato is actually Iskandar Faizol from Seri Petaling

and Sergio Aguero is Syeed Al – Baharom from Kelana Jaya, both playing for Selangor and wear the cute Nike-designed national team jersey to bag goals for Malaysia.

Well, I flew far enough, let’s get back to reality, the Malaysian football scene, my football scene, our football scene. FAM has been singing their own praise when they coined out that Malaysian football is growing year by year, by some measurements or standard which I am not sure about. FAM boast that the status of our league has been uplifted with the introduction of separate league in Super League and Premier League – all with the goal to promote a more competitive atmosphere among the competing teams. By doing so, we actually put our country’s performance on the line with other competing nations as we are not the only team registered in the football congregation FIFA. There are Brazil Football Confederation, English The Football Association, and other heavyweights as well, growing by leaps and bounds and surely lightning year ahead of us. How can one imagine how troubled we are in the world of football, when Japan had to shed blood and few billion litres of sweat not to lose to Brazil, the same team which can easily tame Thailand who can break Malaysia to pieces.

Tigers roar, not giggle.

Physique? Skill? Technique? Management? Money factor? What went wrong?

Then again, to list down what is the problem with Malaysian football might take years to be completed as the list is long enough to enfold the Bukit Jalil National Stadium. Maybe the root of the problem is in the root itself, the fans – as my two cents which should be published in a local newspaper some months ago would suggest on what is wrong with Malaysian football,

“Finger pointing won’t cut it. The team needs their 12th man, the fans. I’ll blame myself for this - for not being able to be at the stadium to support our team, and support Liverpool FC even more all this while.” Izham Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. (With a picture of me wearing a sombrero attached)

I was dejected after knowing my letter was scrapped maybe the same way I scrapped one lousy article when I was in magazine editorial capacity back in Malay College. But this listening experience I had few months back made my hypothesis seemed to be spelled out clearer.

“Why don’t we just do what we do best, wait and see the team to karam in the sea”, some smart alec or a pundit wannabe suggested.

“Itu la pasal. Hancur beb! Hancurrr! Main bola macam tak sekolah je sorang-sorang”, a panel nodded in agreement.

“At least they play better than you. They are the best Malaysia have. You terer sangat pegi main la”, some honest nasi lemak stall owner rebutted, who sent the pundit back to reality.

I walked away stomach-full of nasi lemak sotong with extra groundnuts and richer with Malaysian football spirit.

posted by Izham Ismail at 9:03 pm | Permalink | 4 comments
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Here Comes The Sun
Scores of events happened over these few months, ranging from things beyond my apprehension and dealings where I have long expected. Any other way, they somehow are of my prior concerns which stand as a reason or maybe reasons of my evaporation from the blogging tube. Busy? Well, maybe it is too early for me to define what the word busy stands for. Living for just two decades and telling people I have no time to do other things would insult the people who have been making do with their life longer than I do. Running away? No way for this is what I love, my passion, my obsession if you need more emphasis, and to run away from thing I love is like digging my own grave – I would die alone and left wrinkled to death all by myself. Writing is my love. Giving opinion is my responsibility. Writing to give opinion synchronizes my idea of complete joy, with the hope to change and touch the souls of many, if not myself.

They say little knowledge is a dangerous thing, which I suppose something true to dwell about. Little knowledge I gained from the period of nonexistence gives the unambiguous idea that nothing is a surety. Everything changes. The values of friendship, overcoming adversities, hard work, loyalty, passionate and modesty were some of the lessons I learnt not to master, but to understand – as they are all unconditional.

Before you get me wrong, I am not being any melancholic or trying to express my angst over something ambiguous or any sort. I am having the time of my life. I have to.

Leaving blogosphere dusty and not updated is not a reflection of desolation I am having with myself, or my life. But it was indeed a highly significant event despite my days were actually scary and very much daunting. I guess it was a blessing in disguise, as leaving blogosphere to immerse in the colourful real world gave me an unusual opportunity for me to come out from what was used to be a very comfortable and protective shell. When you see yourself doing things effortlessly, maybe you should stop and ponder for something else new. If you don’t find any relevance in the previous line, then make an assumption that I’m talking to myself. I want to do something that requires me doing something, an effort. I have to dig deep, find my own thoughts and opinions and unite them with others to make a singular, but not definite piece of mind – all to open up wounds to discover myself. I have to heal myself.

When things becoming more and more intricate and thorny, I tell myself, I got time. And I would expect someone to pat my back and say hey, time waits for no man. I am learning. I am studying. I learnt that studying and learning are not the same as I used to think.

If time cannot wait for me, I hope my friends can. Friends, the people I have come to love dearly. As I walk, run, march and stumble peacefully in my own unique fashion into my fairly premeditated future, I sing come what may, for I know, I will not, and hope never be alone. I have my friends, and they know who they are. I know they will guide me along with their knowledge, wisdom, patience and love. I hope they know that I love them too.

And I hope, each and every one of them will pray for me as I go through yet another chapter of my life, shaping possibilities and challenging destiny.

This is white – but not empty

posted by Izham Ismail at 9:13 pm | Permalink | 6 comments