Wednesday 31 July 2013

Notebook Design

Submitted by Law Veng Yee, Class of 2014, Junior 1 Cempaka

Inspired by classic Penguin classics

Reviews Cover

Submitted by Jamie Kok Yixin, Class of 2013

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Silver Diving Expedition 2013

by Amanda Lee Yue Ping, Class of 2014, Junior 1 Cempaka

The Silver Diving Expedition 2013 was off to an early start, 2.30am to be precise. However, all eyes were wide awake by the time we sighted Pulau Redang's famous archipelago from the windows of the ferry. The cluster of islands was surrounded by stretches of startlingly clear, turquoise water. We disembarked at Pantai Pasir Panjang (Long Beach), eager to rid ourselves of the most uncomfortable sardine-squashed-in-a-can feeling - mostly thanks to the boat-handler's energetic disposition and loud shouts of 'Masuk lagi! Masuk lagi!'. After everyone gathered, we had a short walk along the shore towards the hotel, thankfully without having to carry our luggage.We trailed sandy footprints all over Redang Bay's rather simple yet rustic lobby. Room keys were distributed, groups were sorted out and a short briefing was given about the schedule of the day. Being in the advance group, I felt a little nervous having not dived since well, the last silver expedition. All of our underwater skills were no doubt more than a little rusty. 

Photo Credit: Amanda Lee

Being in advance, we were expected to be responsible enough to set up our own gear independently. Ah, the heaviness of a full air tank, the dry, rubbery-smelling air and the forgotten feeling of soreness in your fingers as you struggle to push the stubborn pressure hose into its correct position. Our hotel conveniently had a stretch of coral reef right in front of it, aptly named 'House Reef' as it was a mere 20 to 30 steps into the water from the shore. We explored it sufficiently enough - or so we hoped, during our snorkel and practice dive. As the sun cast it's last rays before disappearing down, we gathered for our night dive briefing. All of us nervously tried our torchlights, switching the powerful lights on and off. Once again, we readied our gear, this time taking extra precaution to make sure that everything was in order for the night dive. The waters were pitch black as we entered through the shore.

Dive Number : 9
Location : House Reef, Pantai Pasir Panjang
Time : 7.30 - 8.05pm
Bottom Temperature : 28 Degree Celsius 
Maximum depth : 10 meters
Notes : Night dive from the shore! It was the same dive site as before, but everything looked completely different without sunlight. We descended with flashlights turned on and at the ready in one hand, the other hand holding on tightly to our buddies. My first glimpse underwater at night - hundreds of tiny silver fish no bigger than my littlest finger, darting everywhere, tickling us as they flashed by. We swam deeper and around the reef, trying to shine our flashlights wherever we could. The coral reef was certainly more vibrant at night, showing it's true colours like red, yellow and green. Tons of sea cucumbers, like giant black slugs littered the sandy floor. Some of us spotted a Morray Eel, peeking it's head out, like a snake but with fish eyes. As we settled down on a sandy stretch, the dive master counted and recounted us to make sure everyone was present. Looking as puzzled as one can look in a mask that covers half your face, he signaled to the other instructor to stay with us while he went off in search off the other two lost divers. The five of us were content to wait and play with the tiny fish as they darted in and out, shining like silver streaks in the light from our torches. At last, the dive master came back with Yi Shuen who had leg cramps, and her buddy. I thought I saw some really bizarre coral but it turned out to be Yi Shuen's hair billowing out of her ponytail as she knelt down opposite me. As we all finally settled down, the dive instructor gave the signal for 'lights-off'. We turned our flashlights off, some of us having more trouble than others. Eventually we could see nothing but blackness. As we waved our hands about in the water like we were instructed to earlier, tiny plankton in the water began to glow, like thousands of minuscule green sparks in the water. It was magical, like mystical, underwater fairy-lights. After a minute or two of frantic waving, the instructor switched on his lights, just in time for us to see a hermit crab, scuttling off on it's long red and white limbs. We then swam back and ascended safely. 

The night dive was in short, exhilarating. We took our time to bathe before having dinner at the cafe. Good company, warm food, the sound of waves washing onto the shore, the distant beat from the disco at a nearby hotel and, of course, the stars: twinkling and appearing silently one by one in the night sky. Early next day after breakfast, we assembled our equipment and took a boat to the dive site, where we would do our second adventure dive - deep diving!

Photo Credit: Nicholas Kong

Dive Number : 10
Location : Black Coral Garden
Time : 9.00 - 9.30am
Bottom Temperature : 27 Degree Celsius
Maximum depth : 30 meters
Notes : Our first boat dive, finally! This was to be our second adventure dive, a deep dive. We descended slowly, looking down all the time at the immense coral reef spread out before us. Like its name, most of the coral was black, with scatterings of Staghorn corals - long, thin and shaped like antlers in its midst. We swam deeper and deeper, equalizing the pressure in our ears every so often. There weren't many interesting fish about, or maybe I was just distracted by the stinging scratch on my palm. It wasn't caused by any long-tentacled jelly fish or a spiny lion-fish, nope. The long gash on my palm was cause by an innocent, stationary coral I accidentally brushed against in my hurry to regain control over my buoyancy as I found myself floating too close to the coral. Blood looks scarily black when you're at a depth of 30 meters! Also, salt water and cuts? Not a good idea. With my hand stinging, I wrote my name backwards on the slate the instructor handed me. On deep dives, symptoms of nitrogen narcosis are often felt. The symptoms are similar to a drunk person and also include slow reflexes. Besides writing our name backwards, we also did some simple equations to test our reflexes. It was not exactly World Maths Day worthy, but doing an equation 30 meters underwater was really something. On the way swimming back, I spotted a Fanta drink can among the coral which my buddy picked up and threw away once we got back to shore.

We had a good rest on shore, sitting at the hotel's quaint little coffee shop overlooking the beach, run by an old Hokien-speaking couple. When it got too hot, we took a swim. When we felt peckish, we snacked on plates of Chee Cheong Fun and whatever we felt like having from the convenience store nearby. Food, sand, sun and the sea - what more could one want?

Photo Credit: Lee Yue Yu

At Redang Bay, we fell into the same, lazy routine. From where we sat at the coffee-shop, the dive-shop was to our left, the sea and beach to the front, and food almost all around us. We also spent our leisure time with our faces glued to the compass, walking around the beach and bumping into people, beach chairs and volleyball nets as we tried to navigate a square in preparation for our next dive. There was just time for a good game of volleyball, before going for what sadly would be our fifth and last dive.

Dive Number : 12
Location : House Reef, Pantai Pasir Panjang
Time : 6.20 - 7.00pm
Bottom Temperature : 27
Maximum depth : 8
Notes : Another shore dive. We stood in shallow water as our instructor briefed us shortly on navigation during a dive. This time though, we gave him back our compasses as we had to do it the 'al natural' way. We started out with the basics, navigating a straight line and back. We swam off with our buddies in different directions. It was a simple task of just twenty fin-kicks forward, turn and then 20 fin-kicks back. Attempt #1 to navigate and I would say we were doing pretty well. Till we got to the 19th fin-kick that is. We were getting ready to turn back and head towards shore when suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a turtle! There was a lot of pointing, underwater grinning (pretty hard to achieve with a regulator in your mouth), and frantic signaling of 'Turtle! Turtle! TURTLE!'. Obviously after that, we got pretty lost. Attempt #2 to navigate was significantly harder - we had to do a square and come back to the starting point. Using small indicators like the sand pattern and depth of the sand, we swam straight for fifteen fin-kicks, before turning 90-degrees to the right. Or left. Or was it right? Needless to say, we were pretty confused. All around us was the same; sand, sand and more sand. It was hard, rather near impossible, to tell where you started from. After about two minutes of confused signaling, we finally surfaced to see where we were - unsurprisingly way off course. We then just swam straight back, giving up on the square. Attempt #3 to navigate a horizontal line was finally successful! We went back onto shore before our navigation dive could become a night dive. Navigation was already hard as it was.

Sometimes, it doesn't really matter whether you're an Open Water diver or an advanced level diver. Diving is all about the experiences you garner and with twelve dives under my belt, I look forward to learning more. I definitely learned something new on every dive. Be it the names of fish, how hard it is to put a wet suit on, the types of coral, or how you should never stay underneath your buddy whose fin kick I learned, is pretty powerful. All of us went home with wonderful memories, experiences, and also with a lasting reminder of Redang's powdery sand in our shoes.

People Cover

Submitted by Jamie Kok Yixin, Class of 2013

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Friday 26 July 2013

On the Front Cover

Submitted by Shariffah Dayana binti Syed Mohammed Feisal, Class of 2013

Inspired by Chris o's Peace

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Thursday 25 July 2013

My So Called "Teenage Angst"

by Pang Huey Lynn, Class of 2013, Form 5 Science 2

As I near the end of my teen years, I think it is safe to say that they were not a walk in the park. Being a teenager can be stressful and tiring. One minute I am trying to finish my homework and the next I am rushing off to finish my chores or help my parents bring in the groceries from the car. On top of all that, I may have some responsibilities in school such as organising the Young Journalist Club's Swimming Gala Booth or organising talks for The English Debating Society as a favour for a friend. If you have ever been a teenager you probably understand what that feels like.

If you are a teenager, you have also probably heard of the term "teenage angst" from others, most probably your parents or other relatives. The term is used to describe teenagers when they get mad or upset at something that others may deem "unreasonable". It is often used as an excuse for a large percentage of my behaviour. If I ever get mad or upset, it is usually because of my "teenage angst". In all honesty, I have never understood why I even had any teenage angst. I live a normal life and mostly have nothing to complain about. I realise that I am extremely lucky and I am grateful for all that I have. So where did all the angst come from?
My parents say that that my angst comes from the stress of everyday school life. Others may say it comes from raging hormones that come with being a teenager. Most agree that it comes from a bad combination of both. After giving this some thought, I asked myself why it was specifically teens that were so full of angst. Why were we so angry and emotional all the time? Adults got upset too, so where is the term "Adult angst"? I came to a conclusion that both baffled and excited me.

Of course adults get mad. They get upset and mad too, just like us teenagers. However, this is not noticed as much as in "hormonal teenagers". Parents and teachers are blaming the fact we get emotional on the fact that we are supposed to be filled with raging hormones. They think that we as teenagers only acted the way we do not because something had genuinely upset us, but because of so called "hormones". This concept is absurd. We are all humans and we should be allowed freedom to express how we feel. Why should teenagers be given the advantage of blaming it all on hormones?

Adults and teenagers, where is the line between the two? The age of 18 years old? Does one wake up one day and go "I am a full grown adult now, no more feelings for me. That angst is only for hormonal teenagers."? Let's face it, we only do all this because society tells us it is wrong to be over-emotional. Adults go through so much more stress that teenagers do. Among other things, they have to maintain a proper job, feed their family while caring for their loved ones. Their responsibilities are so much bigger than ours. So why is it that we get a fall back plan and adults are left to contain their feelings and try not to crack under pressure?

In fact, we all feel the same things. Anger, sadness, stress, excitement, joy and so on. Once you are old enough though, you are immediately expected to be able to control how you feel and not act like a child anymore. "Grow up," they say. Is it so wrong to be allowed to feel? So wrong that when teenagers show emotion it is all blamed on the mere fact that we are supposed to be more hormonal then adults.

Teenage angst is a flawed concept. It is also used as a reason to explain why we feel the way we do especially when adults are unable to understand why we did what we did or feel the way we do. Instead of trying to understand what has upset us and why we feel that way, they use "teenage angst" as a simple way out. Blame it all on the hormones. No wonder we constantly find teenagers saying that their parents 'just do not understand'. Adults sometimes fail to see eye to eye with us because of this. They are unable to sympathise or empathise with us because they feel that they do not need to. They somehow think that the things we feel are somewhat less important or less significant because of our age.

The fact is that teenagers do not have "teenage angst" due to hormones or stress. Adults are just better at hiding their emotions than teenagers are. Adults have to hide behind a facade just because they are expected to do so by society. That is the sad world we live in. Stop blaming how we feel on "teenage angst" and just think for a second. When was the last time you voiced your opinion freely? When was the last time you yelled at someone and then felt bad about it later? We are all the same deep down and we should be allowed to act accordingly. I do not have teenage angst. I simply refuse to hide how I feel. I refuse to let myself be judged based on something I have absolutely no control over such as my hormones. Call me spoiled, call me hot-tempered. Judge me based on my actions but do not say that I act a certain way just because I am young or because you cannot come to terms with the fact I am not perfect.

Time & Tide Wait For No Man!


Alas, it's July already and we're now well into the academic year! It seems like only yesterday I took my first step into school as a senior, ready to take on all the challenges of my final year and to cherish the memories 2013 would bring. Yes, it certainly has been a challenging year! Being a Cempakan, one's schedule is never empty and you're constantly on your toes- participating in various school events,  studying for topical tests, taking part in sports, or even the occasional writing for school newsletters. As a senior, I feel the onerous brunt of the workload even more heavily as I try to juggle my responsibilities and stretch my time to its maximum capacity.

From the very beginning of the year, Cempakans got down to business and busied themselves with the array of activities to do around school, starting with none other than the Launch Pad project, which was  introduced just last year. Furthermore, for the first time ever, Cempaka held an Appreciation Day assembly in May, where students paid tribute to our wonderful teachers and loving mothers who have done so much to ensure we receive a holistic education. In fact, if one were to just glance at the school calendar for the lineup of events, you might scarcely be able to believe that so much can really be accomplished in the timespan of less than a year. 

Yet, here we are taught that 'Nothing is Impossible', and so we will continue to live, sleep and dream by our mantra. 2013 promises even more events, surprises and excitement as the Cempakan community gears up to celebrate a very special year- the 30th anniversary of Cempaka. It will undoubtedly be a year-long celebration to commemorate the marvelous journey we've all been on and travelled together, mile by mile. It is a year full of remarkable milestones, of commemorations, celebration and accomplishment. Yet, after all these years, we must not rest on our laurels but aspire to aim even further and soar even higher.

Thus, as the year passes by and the days come and go, I can only say 'bring it on!' to whatever the future has in store for me and the rest of us. To all Cempakans, always find support in each other and take the time to rounden yourself through the assortment of activities that will doubtlessly come your way during your time here. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavours, dear reader, and please, take your time to browse through the plethora of articles our wonderful writers have contributed for this issue.

Best regards,
Jamie Kok Yixin

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Design A Company Logo

Submitted by Jamie Kok Yixin, Class of 2013, Form 5 Science 1

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Tuesday 23 July 2013

TV Series Review: HANNIBAL

by Loh Stacey, Class of 2013, Form 5 Science 1

Hannibal Lecter. Just the name itself inspires fear within a personʼs soul. The series is captivatingly macabre and one cannot help but fall for the charm of our favorite cannibal. Follow a criminal profiler, Will Graham, as he aids the FBI on the hunt for the serial killers who terrorize the state of Minnesota. Little do they know, the most notorious of them all is sitting right under their noses.

Based on the characters from the best-selling book ʻRed Dragonʼ by Thomas Harris, the series acts as a companion to the movies that were previously released such as Hannibal Rising and Silence of The Lambs. Hannibal : The Series is directed by Bryan Fuller who is known for directing Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me. The series progresses with a new serial killer in each episode with underlying tones of unfinished business that continue to grow as the web spun incarcerates our main characters to a point of no return. One fact though to be pointed out is that the series is full of gory goodness be it emotionally or physically (mainly physically). This show is definitely not for the fainthearted.

The main character in this series is Will Graham, who is a gifted FBI criminal profiler, and by gifted I mean that he is able to fully empathize with the serial killer he is in pursuit of. When he looks at a crime scene, Will Graham is able to see in his mindʼs eye exactly what has happened and feel exactly what the killer would have felt in that instance. Unfortunately (and alarmingly), he can be completely consumed by the persona he is assuming and sometimes finds himself in a state where his own thoughts meld together with those of the killer. As the series progress, Will begins to think that he is losing his mind and constantly goes to Hannibal for guidance. Hannibal Lecter is a brilliant forensic psychiatrist and well know among his peers as a culinary expert, not forgetting his side job- cannibalistic serial killer. It is exceptionally thrilling to see the interaction between these two characters because even with the gift that Will Graham possesses, the true colors of Hannibal is hidden from him.

Although the series is mostly centered on crime solving, the psychological aspects within each episode is very profound. Hannibal : The Series talks of manipulation in the highest form especially on Hannibal Lecterʼs part. I for one, find it riveting to see Hannibal serve others dinner. It is at moments like these that the viewers connect with Hannibal. The inside joke is shared and we can only watch as his guests are deceived wholly into involuntary cannibalism.

To end this review, I would recommend this series to adults mainly but also to those who are taken with the deep meanings displayed symbolically as well as those with a keen interest in psychology. While the show is quite slow-progressing, I can say that not one scene can be taken out without defiling the whole picture. Though I have to add, the thing that first captivated me was the cinematography. It is very beautifully filmed and deserves that one hour of your time. I have to warn you though, you might want to rethink that decision for a snack while you watch it lest your foods come back up.

Hannibal : The Series is currently showing every Tuesday at 10 PM on AXN

Rating: 5/5


by Jamie Kok Yixin, Class of 2013, Form 5 Science 1

It's that time of the year again, one of which every Cempakan knows all too well. It all starts when the prefects, donned in their striking black blazers, patrol the corridors intimidatingly and whisper among themselves secretively. Next, amidst the sea of black, you would notice (and no doubt sympathize with) two parallel lines of timid students clad in their green blazers, cowering under the scrutinizing, piercing gazes of the prefects. These hapless students I refer to are none other than the hopeful probate candidates who could only quail and try their best NOT to fidget, NOT to make any sound whatsoever and NOT to look anywhere else but ahead under the fierce watch of the prefects. 
Thus began the candidacy for prefectship for the year 2013. 

We are now well into the probationary period, and one can already hear the collective sighs around school as even more people approach students to nag them about their smart cards, collars, socks or shoelaces. You can hear the inaudible rants from a mile away: 'As if those thirty-something prefects weren't enough, how tiresome!'  These same people tend to ask the same question every year to the brave bunch who dare to send in their applications: Why? Prefectship is a time burdening, emotionally and physically exhausting, tedious process. So why bother with it?

Well, being a prefect myself for nearly two years, I can certainly vouch that it isn't an easy job, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks so as well. Yet, year after year without fail, a new board of prefects is installed, and in each of them there blazes the flame of determination, dedication and duty. 
Therefore, I took it upon myself to ask my fellow consorts a few questions about their journey through prefectship and what it took to get them where they are now. I'd like to share some of their answers with you. 

When asked on what he thinks prefectship is all about, Ezzamel Zarif of Form 4 Science 1, Class of 2014 replied: "We are able to make a difference as well as contribute to the school in which we have taken so much from. In my opinion, that is what prefectship is all about, to be a role model and maintain discipline in the student body. To me, prefectship gives you the chance to lead and inspire others."
Ryan Yoong Ka Jun, Ezzamel's classmate had this to share: "To be honest, there is only one reason why I wanted to be a prefect. For that feeling of self satisfaction and hard earned achievement. The feeling that I managed to accomplish something that I can be proud of. I was never really satisfied with whatever I was doing before applying for prefectship but after going through the whole process of pre-probation and probation (which was a grueling one at that!), it felt good to have something positive come out of it."

And what good comes out of it, you ask? Well, according to Johnathon Wong, Form 5 Science 2, Class of 2013, he says that the proudest thing a prefect can earn throughout his/her journey through probation is the bond with your seniors, and the sense of achievement one can savour the moment you officially become a prefect. In his words: "The moment when you pass probation and achieve prefectship is just indescribable. Your seniors will give you their congratulations and advice, and bid you farewell as they entrust the board to your care along with the rest of the newly installed prefects. When I was called on stage on Leadership Night to swear upon my duties and responsibilities, all I can say is that it was one of the proudest moments of my life."

So far dear reader, we've learnt from three established prefects that the process of attaining prefectship is well worth it. Then again, we've all heard about how taxing the probationary period can be, and even more how challenging the life of a prefect is. I asked Chin Wye Mun of Junior 1 Cempaka, Class of 2014 about her source of inspiration, which not only has pushed her to become one of the most respected prefects of the board, but also made her an active, contributing member to the school community. This was what she had to say: "My source of inspiration is the entire Prefects' Board itself. When I see the other prefects working hard at their job, I feel inspired to work harder and to improve myself. Whenever my determination falters, I think of my seniors and how amazing they are, seriously. They are good at sports, good at studies, active in community projects, responsible leaders of the student body and good, trustworthy friends. They remind me to never give up and that the goal I aspire is achievable. To me, they embody the saying that "Nothing is impossible!". They remind me of the person I want to be - someone others can look up to, someone respectable, someone who inspires. Besides that, the experiences I gain and the rewards I earn from being a prefect keep me motivated and inspire me all the time. The happy smiles on the faces of people we help and the memories and relationships we build are unforgettable and priceless."   

Her friend, Amanda Lee, shared with us her favourite part about being part of the prefect's board. She says: "My favourite part about being in the prefect's board are definitely the moments we share together. It's the moment when you restlessly await the results, thinking of all the challenges you've faced, hardships you've overcome, mistakes you've made. It's the moment you step into the classroom with all the other newly appointed 'profects' amidst cheers. It's the day you first wear black instead of charcoal grey.

Then, it's leadership night - needless to say a moment I'm sure all prefects will never forget.  
After that, it's the part where we kind of become one big family. It's like how I laugh at funny mistakes in duty reports, or when we share funny moments during duty like that freshman kid who always greets prefects on morning duty (who is really pleasant by the way!). Seniors and juniors alike become closer. We have triumphs and memories we share together, which no one else outside the prefects board will be able to understand - in a way I guess it truly is 'Prefects United'."

With such sincere responses from all the prefects, I can't help but hope this year's board will wear their crest and blazer with the same pride and honour. Finally, a word of advice to all aspiring prefects: "Be yourself, learn as much as you can, and keep a positive attitude to make a difference in the school community. Secondly, never give up. Probation will be a long and arduous journey, but one which will be very rewarding at the end of the day. Even if you do not pass, it's not something to be depressed over - just think of how all the experiences that will make you an even better leader if you choose to try out again the following year. Lastly, being a prefect isn't just about the black uniform, or how well you carry out your daily duties, but how you inspire others around you and create the change you want to see. I would advice all juniors out there to try out for prefectship. Although it may not be the right thing for everyone, the last thing you'd want to feel is regret over being afraid to try." - Tai Kai Xin, Form 5 Science 1, Class of 2013.

Coming from a prefect who never gave up and passed successfully in her second attempt, I would say that those words are golden because they are wrought from experience and triumph.

Truly, prefectship isn't just about how loud you can tell off students, or how loudly you sing the school song, nor is it about wearing the uniform and putting on the tie. 

No, prefectship isn't about all of that. Because there is no textbook answer to what a prefect should be or what you need to do to be one. It is simply this:

The word, prefect, is defined by the person who is one. Looking around us, I see some pretty good examples already. 

With that, I would like to wish the best of luck to all the aspiring prefects and juniors. Also, kudos to the current board whom I've enjoyed working with tremendously, let's hope we leave a legacy behind as the Prefect's Board continues to grow and grow.

Interview with the Head Prefects

by Ram Rengasamy Pillai, Class of 2013, Form 5 Science 1

We welcome the new year with a power-packed duo that personify the new face of the student body - Head and Deputy Head Prefect, Wong Sher Lynn and Azmin Arman Massoumi-Sourey. I interviewed them recently (both being good friends of mine) to share a little insight about their experience spearheading the student community thus far, and also to find out what they are usually up to both on and off work hours. I can't help but point out that the apparently 'strict' and 'stern' head prefect and deputy head prefect that people make them out to be... is hardly the complete truth. Interested? Read on!

RAM: What does it feel like being Head and Deputy Head prefects of the school, knowing that "with great power comes great responsibility"?

SHER LYNN: It's great and comforting to know that there are so many people in the school community who look up to me. However, in all honesty, the fact that I play a dominant role in the upbringing of the name of the school definitely brings about additional stress. At times, I may have the tendency to upset a certain party in the process (which is not the best feeling), but all in all, I sincerely hope under my leadership, I will be able to ensure that the school remains a distinguished and conducive place for people to learn new things, grow as a community and make a difference.

AZMIN: Well, it's actually so unreal. To have seen all the Head Prefects and Deputy Head Prefects throughout my whole school life in Cempaka, and to be able to say that I hold that same position is quite hard to take in.

RAM: Do you think the both of you make a good pair?

SHER LYNN: Yes, I believe so. Azmin has always been a close friend of mine and I'm really grateful that he was chosen to be my partner. He has been nothing but a great help to me these past few months.
Azmin helps remind me of things that I forget, as I tend to be a pretty forgetful person. Also, I normally handle things in a panicky yet serious way, because I like things to be done with great efficiency. However, Azmin on the other hand, is more easygoing. We strike a really great balance, like Yin and Yang.
However, one not-so-great thing is that I think he is too tall to talk to. Nonetheless, he is very special in his own way and I appreciate his help.

AZMIN: I suppose so, especially since we're close friends. Adding to that, we're also in the same class and we have worked together on numerous accounts in the past. We are a pretty productive pair!

RAM: What has been the toughest challenge that the both of you have undertaken as Head and Deputy Head Prefect?

SHER LYNN: Gaining respect from several different parties in the beginning. As we all know, respect is not easily earned! 

AZMIN: Well... since we were first installed (towards the end of 2012), until the beginning of 2013, both of us did not really have anyone that we could lean on to or seek assistance from if we weren't sure about how to tackle a certain problem. However, over time, we both have improved drastically. Now, we have the entire school community depending on us instead of us depending on others! It's a great feeling when friends, juniors or even teachers approach us when in need of help.

RAM: Do you have any specific plans for the Prefects' Board of 2013?

SHER LYNN: I like to keep my plans confidential.

AZMIN: One thing I've always been hoping for the Prefects' Board is not only to train the prefects to play a dominant role in ensuring that every Cempakan obeys the school rules but in addition, to become someone who is easily approachable by students. 

RAM: Azmin, could you share with the readers some of the best and worst things about working with Sher Lynn?

AZMIN: The best thing would probably be the fact that she does everything that needs to be completed. The quality of her work is also quite remarkable. Quality AND quantity! She is very efficient too.
The worst thing is probably when she's doing her work, or when she's thinking of something, and if you try to communicate with her, it's close to impossible - it's almost as of she is in a world of her own!

RAM: Sher Lynn, how do you spend your time after school hours on a regular basis during the weekdays?

SHER LYNN: To be honest, my after school schedules are really tight. Since the First House Cup events are piling up, I stay back very often to supervise Merpati trainings and to attend school team trainings. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I have to stay back for Handball trainings until 6pm, and on Wednesday for Netball trainings. My Fridays are usually kept free for society meetings and other Merpati Games Carnival trainings which will take approximately 1 to 2 hours. After all these trainings and meetings, when I get home, I usually take a power nap for around 30 minutes to ensure I'm focused when I'm doing my school work after that. You could definitely say that my life is almost completely devoted to school.

RAM: How do you juggle between your studies and prefect duties?

SHER LYNN: I won't say that I'm a very disciplined student, as I haven't been following the 'study timetable' I was assigned to create for my tutor, Mr Sheat. (If you're reading this, Mr Sheat, I'm sorry!) However, just like any other student, I cannot pay absolute attention during lessons, but I try my very best to so that I don't have to spend more time studying what I've learnt in school as the amount of work I have already take up my sleeping hours! I also start recapping on previous topics taught by my teachers 1-2 months before exams.

AZMIN: I usually do all the non-studies related work after I get back home, and I do my homework or my studying at night, which is the time when I find I can concentrate even more.

RAM: What's the one thing that keeps you motivated every day?

SHER LYNN: "Don't do your best, but do THE best" - my dad always tells me this. This keeps me going because I'm an exceedingly competitive person. I always try to be above everyone else. Trying my best isn't always enough, because there are many other people out there who can do greater things!

AZMIN: Knowing that people are depending on me, and the fact that they have relatively high expectations of me, probably because of the impact my older brother (Deputy Head Prefect 2011) made in the school. Although it can really take its toll on me, I've always told myself that I have to be the sort of person that I used to look up to in the past.

Well readers, the head and deputy head prefect of Cempaka Damansara seem to be working well together, so here's to them making Cempaka's 30th anniversary a memorable year! I can safely remark that they've done quite constructive and productive progress in leading the student community to a whole new level. I for one cannot wait to see what the Prefect's Board has up their sleeves for the students this year. Thanks very much Sher Lynn and Azmin for taking time off of their extremely busy schedule for this interview, and thank you readers, for taking the time to read the interview! I hoped you've enjoyed getting to know your new head and deputy head prefect as much as I did!

The Great Debate — Is same-sex marriage right for America?

by Victor Teoh Yun-Chen, Class of 2014, Junior 1 Cempaka

Same-sex marriage (also known as gay marriage) is a highly controversial issue that has once again made headlines in the United States of America. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases — United States v. Windsor, regarding the right of same-sex couples in states permitting those unions to federal benefits such as social security and health coverage (Defense of Marriage Act) and Hollingsworth v. Perry, concerning whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional right (California Proposition 8).

Today, only nine out of the fifty states, as well as the District of Columbia, have legalized same-sex marriage. In this respect, the United States does not lag behind the rest of the world — only eleven countries have done so, with the Netherlands being the first in 2001. It is time, however, for America to take the lead and legalize same-sex marriage nationwide; polls indicate that most Americans (51% for, 43% against) are in favour of same-sex marriage.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the issue recently, with each of the justices listening to arguments from both advocates and detractors of same-sex marriage. Thousands of impassioned demonstrators from both sides gathered outside the Supreme Court Building opposite the Capitol in downtown Washington, D.C. to show support for their cause; the mood remained festive, with people singing, dancing, waving placards and giving speeches.

Each of the justices, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, took turns to weigh in on the issues over the two days (26 & 27 March) of arguments. The witty Justice Antonin Scalia spoke too, frequently causing the audience to burst into laughter. A notable exception was the taciturn Justice Clarence Thomas, who remained silent over the two days — he rarely speaks during oral arguments; he last spoke on 14 January 2013, and before that, on 22 February 2006.

During the 26 March hearing, Chief Justice Roberts and the Court's liberal wing (Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan) questioned attorney Charles Cooper (who represents and indicated that they did not believe the Court had standing to hear the case. Justice Anthony Kennedy (the court's swing vote) indicated his concern for the welfare of same-sex couples' children, and Justice Stephen Breyer also questioned how allowing same-sex couples to marry is different from allowing opposite-sex couples who cannot have children to marry, in response to Cooper's argument that the state has an interest in 'responsible procreation'. Conversely, the conservative Justices on the court spoke in favour of Prop 8.

The Justices questioned whether the Court had standing again during the second hearing, even appointing a Harvard law professor to argue that they didn't. Justice Samuel Alito appeared skeptical about DOMA's constitutionality, though he was likely to support the law, while Justice Kennedy sided with the liberal wing, telling Paul Clement (who represents House Republicans) that the question is "whether the federal government has the authority to regulate marriages." Justice Ginsburg was dismissive of Clement's attempts to minimise DOMA's impact, saying that federal benefits "touch every aspect of life", while the Chief Justice tried to undermine the idea that LGBT marriages need special protection.

It is too soon to say definitively how the Supreme Court will rule on the two cases. In United States v. Windsor, some experts believe that the Court will strike down DOMA. In Hollingsworth v. Perry, they believe the Court will invalidate Prop 8 under the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, and rule that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. Others think that the Court will uphold it, as under the Tenth Amendment, marriage is for the states to decide.

I feel that legalising same-sex marriage is the right thing to do. It is unfair to discriminate against the millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans who want equality. America is the land of the free and home of the brave, and it is time to take a courageous step forward in legalising same-sex marriage. It is inevitable that laws against same-sex marriage will be struck down, just as laws against interracial marriage have been (Loving v. Virginia, 1967).

'[There are] two kinds of marriage, the full marriage, and then this sort of skim milk marriage.' – Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 26 March 2013.


by Chin Wye Mun, Class of 2014, Junior 1 Cempaka

I'm sure that at some point or other, we have all desired to be superheroes. We all have dreameed of being able to see through walls or to run at the speed of light or lift cars like we were picking up a pencil. We all have given Spiderman's signature pose a try, hoping to find webs sprouting out of our fingertips. We all have ran circles around the house, hoping we'd suddenly be able to feel our feet burning up from our incredible speed and to see the world in smudges of colour.  I'd also bet that a handful of you have dressed up as a superhero for Halloween or any other costume party.

Why do we like superheroes and what is it about them that makes us want to emulate them so badly? Sure, they're cool to watch and it's nice to pretend that we can swing from one building to another or burn stuff with our eyes. Not to mention the thrills we feel during the fight scenes with the evil villain. However, when it really boils down to it, I think it's the benevolent part of the job that's more important about being a superhero. In fact, when you think about it, superheroes are really just one step away from being villains.  

Yet, they are not, because they seek justice, not revenge; compassion, not ruthlessness. They have managed to overcome the darkness in their hearts and look past thoughts of revenge. We admire their sacrifice, for they have given up all possibilities of living a "normal" life for the better of society. They watch over us silently but bravely, they put others before themselves and are prepared to put their lives on the line for people they don't even know. As the Powerpuff Girls' familiar opening theme puts it, superheroes "have dedicated their lives to fighting crime and the forces of evil".

Besides that, superheroes give us hope because we can always trust them to pull off their astounding rescues and save the day at the end of it all. I mean, just when we think all is lost, a man clad in red underwear and blue tights appears in the nick of time to stop the 100-ton burning aeroplane from crashing down onto the screaming citizens of Smallville. While the city runs amuck and people are turning into lizards, cue the Amazing Spider-Man to fight off the reptile mutant and disperse the antidote with just a second left to spare. After all, they don't call him "Amazing" for nothing.

Nonetheless, as the years go by and we grow up, everyone eventually comes to the painful realization that our favourite childhood superheroes do not actually exist.

Even so, the message that superheroes bring still lives on. It may be unreal, tales spun out from 'make believe', but like all forms of fiction, they still inspire.

Furthermore, fret not for we may not realize it but we do live among superheroes, in a way.  A superhero is someone who saves the day and is willing to sacrifice for others. Think of all the regular, workaday lives that "save" our day. For example, bus drivers, janitors, security guards, and firefighters. You may not find Thor banging his hammer in front of your house or Aquagirl going for a swim in your local swimming pool but you can find a pretty good carpenter with an equally capable hammer to fix your door as well as a qualified lifeguard to watch over the pool patrons.

I highlight these people because I personally feel like they're often overlooked. I feel that they are very rarely praised or given recognition, unlike entrepreneurs and politicians even though their jobs are equally challenging. They work long hours too and hold jobs that may not seem exciting but if not for them, we would live a less secure and convenient life. In truth, we don't thank them enough for their services. It's time we start showing our appreciation to these everyday superheroes who help us go about our daily routines smoothly and peacefully.

Finally, I also urge you to become an everyday superhero. You don't need radioactive material or super high-tech weapons. Find something that you're passionate about or something that you're good at. Then figure out how it can benefit others, no matter if it's singing or cooking or gaming. There's something for everyone and there's a chance for us all to become a superhero too. Even just being alive, keeping a smile on your face and letting that happiness inspire and infect others, is already a "superpower". I believe that everyone has a superpower deep inside them.

Start looking for yours.

Monday 22 July 2013


By Justin Koh, Class of 2010, Ex-Cempakan

It has been two years since I’ve graduated from Sri Cempaka. Over the course of my stay in Cempaka, I have seen people with their entries and exits — new students coming in at every level, students migrating to other schools, seniors leaving after their SPM examinations. And then it was my turn to take my leave. In Cempaka, I learnt to grow up, to adapt, and to make friends. I truly treasure every experience I had there.

I visit Cempaka on occasions such as the Annual Swimming Gala and more recently, the Inter-house Games Carnival. Being there, and seeing everyone bustling about in their house colors brought back a sense of nostalgia. You could just stand at a side, watching everyone run, scream and cheer in support of their house. Yes indeed, it was such a beautiful sight

It reminded me of the years I spent as a Harimau, pushing forward in hopes of winning. Not only for personal satisfaction, but also for the glory of the house. When engaging in such competitions, we tend to think only for ourselves and nothing else. We completely miss the bigger picture. What are we really fighting for? Of course we will tend to strive for personal goals. And then what? It just ends there. I believe that there is always a bigger reason to do something on top of doing something for oneself. If we take a step back and look at the situation as a whole, we realize that there is a bigger goal in store for us, that is, to do your utmost best for the house. For everyone.

To the sportspeople, you see the mass of people standing at the side cheering. That is your motivation. Sometimes you get so lost in the moment until you don’t notice that they are there, but subconsciously, they matter a whole lot. Imagine playing basketball without an audience. You will definitely feel a enormous loss as if something is missing. Your drive to succeed and the feel of victory will diminish. This shows that not only will you strive for yourself, but for your team as well. So do work toward your goals, but never lose sight of the bigger picture. All it takes is just a change in mindset: “I want to win for myself,” compared to “I want to win for my house.” To know that everyone is counting on you to do your best, let that be your drive.

To the house members, together you are the backbone of the house. ‘United we stand’ will help you to form an unbreakable bond. You support the sportspeople throughout the whole course of the game. You are the reason they fight and that is why we cheer for the glory of the house and the satisfaction of being able to contribute to a greater goal. Imagine being able to hold the trophy in your hands, celebrating amongst your comrades over the win. Maybe you are at the sidelines, but you are still able to pat yourself on the back and proudly tell anyone, “Hey, I contributed to that.” However minute the contribution to the house is, when done wholeheartedly, should be something to be proud of.

As a house, as one, aim for the best and never give up on your hopes. Even in times of trouble, despite knowing there may be nothing much you can do, you should never throw in the towel. The excuse “Yeah... It wouldn’t have mattered anyway,” is a terrible one. It matters because you should have tried your best whatever happens. A pessimist would say it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. But what if it did? Shouldn’t that be enough a reason to keep you going? If you say that it would be too much effort to work for a small possibility of success, please change your defeatist attitude. Nothing great ever came from not trying. You won’t regret it.

Even if you don’t win, you tried your best, and that is all that matters. Be happy for the winners, congratulate them, and learn from them. The next time, try again. We must always strive to push our limits. If you win, celebrate your efforts, but remember to be gracious. Also, never forget to commend the efforts of your rivals as well. Everyone tried their best, after all. Celebrate the bonds you strengthened with your friends, the new ones you made, and the whole experience of being able to contest with them in a friendly manner.

Competition is different from selfishness. Just because you strive for something does not mean that you need to act condescendingly toward others and push everyone else aside. We strive to win, but if we don’t, it’s all part of life. Sometimes we are going to have our ups and downs. Yes, do your best at everything that you do, but win or lose, enjoy the whole experience altogether. You will never get it ever again. The moments with your friends from different backgrounds, different houses, cherish that. One day, you will look back at your high school experience, recalling all the things it encompassed; the laughs, the jokes, the memories and the fun times, and will never regret a single moment of it. So Cempakans, make every experience count!