Friday 21 February 2014

by Nicole Lee Poh Sim, Ow Syen Yee and Lai Li Chan, Junior 1 Higgs, Class of 2015

After a long break from last year, the Annual Games Carnival 2014 resumed with three events - intense matches of squash, black and white chess, and barbecue session, also known as House Decoration.

The day started of with chess which was held in the Cheras campus. Moving simple black or white pieces and following a set of regulations really isn’t as simple as it sounds. House captains were panicking, trying their best to find extra players to avoid getting walked over. After the players were briefed, the games finally kicked off with Helang against Harimau and Seladang against Beruang first. The game was played as a round-robin tournament. In the very end, it was the Seladang boys and Helang girls who triumphed over all the houses in the tough battle of wits.

Helang Chess girls captain, Ambika Meenatchi, (whose prowess in chess definitely runs in the family looking at previous Helang Boys Captain and winner, Annamalai Meenatchi) shared her chess experience with us.

"I was extremely excited earlier on when I was appointed to be the next captain for chess because I always thought it would be fun. However, it was only this year when it dwelled upon me that being a captain wasn’t all smooth sailing. I would say it wasn’t as tough as I thought it would though, because Helang already had an almost full team from last year with only one missing person. Finding that one more person to complete Helang's dream team was my only obstacle. When we found out that the person who just joined our team won her all matches, it made me beam as we won the gold again! I'm proud to be able to continue Helang's winning streak in chess and I hope the future Helang batches keep it going strong!"

Photo Credit: Encik Khairul

On the same day, the four house-coloured pavilions at the very end of the field stood proudly, waiting to be decorated. This year, the Beruang went for a ‘Toy Story’ theme, Harimau, ‘The Hunger Games’ theme, Helang, an Egyptian theme and lastly Seladang, ‘Globe Trekkers’. The final scores between the first two spots were very close, Helang managing to grab the gold with just a six-margin gap between Seladang. Here's a sneak peak into what really goes on during presentations on House Decoration day as quoted by Khor Su Wern, from Helang house and Amanda Lee of Seladang house.

Photo credit: Encik Khairul

“The centerpiece of our pavilion was a pyramid made of rafia string tied onto hooks nailed into the floor. Inside the mysterious pyramid was the tomb of Queen Eaglepetra, with her two guardians holding staffs made of oars (the mystery item). The judges were researchers and archaeologists who had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to venture into the tomb of the mighty Queen Eaglepetra. But first, they had to decipher a code to enter the mysterious land of Eaglegypt. On Valentines Day (the other half of the mystery item), Eaglepetraʼs heart was broken 5,000 years ago by her lover and her heart was scattered around Eaglegypt. The researchers had to find those missing pieces of her heart in the river Nile and place them on her tomb in order to resuscitate the queen. To get to the tomb, judges also had to dance, sing and satisfy the mummies of the Nile. In the end, they successfully manage to resuscitate Queen Eaglepetra and all the mummies of the Nile and Eagleyptians celebrate with a Helang cheer. All the hard work under the sun was worth it, as Helang managed to grab the gold!”

Photo credit: Encik Khairul
"Our theme being Globe Trekkers, we decided to turn our pavilion into an airport and airplane. After the whole check-in process including our very own friendly 'bulldogs', the judges were led onboard the plane with the customary 'Welcome abroad Buffalo Wing Airways!'. Stewardesses then led them to their first-class economy airways seats - a pile of newspapers on the ground. The judges were flown to New York to witness the first event of the year, the dropping of the bull in Timesquare! After the countdown, the plane passed over Japan whereupon judges were graced with the presence of Master chef TeriyakiEdamame - a culinary wonder who served up Ocha and sushi for breakfast. The last stop was India! Where famous director Shazwan Khan was furious over a shortage of backup dancers for his upcoming film. Of course, the passengers were invited to volunteer, and they all jived in their seats to a mash up of famous Bollywood music. Before the plane touched down, a special announcement was made as the tour guide proposed to one of the judges on the plane! After a tragic rejection 'Sorry, I have to ask my husband first!', the plane went through some turbulence (looking at our windswept waterproofing sheets, it definitely looked the part) due to some thunder in the air before landing safely." 

Photo Credit: Encik Khairul
The last event of the day was squash, which was held at the Jalan Duta National Squash Court. Helang bowled over Seladang in the first round for boys, whilst Beruang dominated the match against Harimau - no surprise since the bears have national squash player Nicholas Tan in their line up! This left Beruang and Helang to fight for the top spots, leaving Seladang and Harimau to fight for third and fourth. 

The first match for girls was between Harimau and Seladang. As a strategic manoeuvre, the captain of a few teams chose to play second or third rather than first, which lead Seladangs to battle against Beruang for first and second placing. In the end, blue and gold proved to be victorious followed by Seladang, Helang and lastly Harimau on the girls' side whereas Helang grabbed the gold for squash boys followed by Beruang, Harimau then Seladang. 
“As well as having our competitive spirit take over for those few moments in the court, we also tried our best displaying good sportsmanship."
- Lai Li Chan, Seladang girls squash captain

The event ended on a good note, leaving us to go back to school and talk about our “smashing” achievements, or “squashed” chances. No matter the outcome of the scores we earned, it was a great day filled with joy, laughter, a few minor injuries, and a soreness that doesn’t seem to go away. This is just the first annual inter-house event of the year, and it hasn't even ended yet! The final event for Games Carnival, tennis, will be held later on in the year, and will determine the final scores for the Annual Games Carnival 2014.
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Monday 17 February 2014

written by the Panel (Akhilan Manivannan, Alisraa Aldin, Lee Ting An & Tiffany Tan, class of 2015)

In what can only be described as a roller-coaster ride hurtling off its tracks, the First House Cup 2013 was a thrilling and nail-biting experience for each and every Cempakan. Going back to its roots as Merpati, Rumah Beruang clinched the title away from Helang in a tension soaked finish. 

“We were never leading at any point throughout the competition & with such incredibly great competitors no less, but in the end with all your blood, sweat & tears, I am so proud to say that we finally made it.”
- Wong Shi Jinn, Merpati House Captain 2013

Photo Credit : Mr. Ashwin

While the year of the dove will forever be remembered by all Beruangs involved, 2014 is a new year. With the Annual Games Carnival having begun early in extremely rushed conditions (in November 2013), this year is shaping up to be an even more unpredictable FHC Year than any before. Luckily for the bears, they started their campaign off well by achieving a great second place lead so far in the Annual Games Carnival 2014. 

New Beruang house captain, Ezzamel Zarif very aptly compared this year’s FHC to the English Premier League due to the extremely tight competition and level of unpredictability. However he remains confident in Beruang’s chances of retaining the FHC title and is happy with current performances, although he concedes that there is always room for improvement. When asked of his opinion on the extremely early Games Carnival 2014, Ezzamel agreed that it was difficult to prepare for because of time constraints and lack of key players participating due to holidays. Furthermore he also shed some light on a few injuries to participants here and there due to the arduous training sessions held by sports captains. Despite the problems however and the latest painful last placing for House Decoration this year, Ezzamel stated that it was remarkable to see everyone in Beruang coming together and giving it their all to contribute to their house.

When asked on which FHC event he thought Beruang could struggle with the most, Ezzamel unsurprisingly stated the Annual Swimming Gala, as Beruang does not have the best track record over the years when it comes to Swimming Gala. When asked on which FHC event he thought Beruang could excel at, Ezzamel picked out 3 events that Beruang has done extremely well in, in the past. These 3 events are the Interhouse Dance Competition, CeMA and Intellectual Week (Maths Olympiad and English Competitions). Ezzamel  stressed especially on the teamwork and co-operative prowess of the Beruangs. In his words exactly, “We have juniors and seniors contributing ideas for CEMA from previous years, seniors helping out the younger category dancers with their routines and others helping out our debaters, oratory speakers and many more. I would say that we have a really, really good opportunity to win those three events mentioned above.”

What the Panel has to say :
We can definitely say that Beruang, especially the senior levels, for one, never fail to give us dance routines executed with perfect synchronicity. Stunning the judges, wowing the crowd and frustrating the other competitors to no end. As for CeMA and the intellectual competitions, we feel that all the houses are almost on the same footing. 

Photo Credit : Encik Khairul

With a very good balance of both sportsmen and academically-talented people, Rumah Beruang certainly has it all covered with perhaps the exception of Swimming Gala. A surprising turn would definitely be the recent House Decoration event, where Beruang placed fourth in comparison to last year's gold medal. In overall, from what we see this year, Rumah Beruang stands quite a good chance to retain it's position as first in the First House Cup competition. Not only is Beruang headed by two very capable and known leaders of the school, the juniors in Beruang are also enthusiastic and sporting. If they are able to weather through the problems above, the bears could very well rock the house once more. 

Photo Credit: Mr Ashwin

Our final question to Ezzamel was, “If you had a gathering of each and every Beruang in front of you, but you could only use one sentence for motivation, what would it be?” 

"If you ever feel like giving up, just remember why you started." 
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Friday 7 February 2014

by Akhilan Manivannan, Sophomore 2 Cempaka, Class of 2015

In a century where reboots are as common in the entertainment industry as bread and butter, director José Padilha has succeeded in a the monumental attempt to take the already highly-rated 1980s Robocop franchise, and turn it into a present day marvel. Despite being released only recently, Padilha's Robocop has earned rave reviews from critics.

Robocop takes place in 2028, where multilateral OmniCorp is the center of robot technology, media influence and national power in the United States. At present, OmniCorp is earning big in the military; their drones are being used in foreign relations in a questionably oppressive manner. However, due to the publicly supported Dreyfuss Act, which prevents any drones from bearing firearms in the United States, Omnicorp's revenue is held back considerably as they are unable to release any of their drones in the US. 

The CEO of Omnicorp, Raymond Sellars, thinks he can have the act overturned by swaying the public’s opinion on robotic crime-fighting. He enlists the help of Dr. Dennett Norton to create a new type of law enforcement—combining robot and human. That turns out to be policeman Alex Murphy, who is critically injured by a car-bomb which was planted by his corrupt fellow policemen. The tale unfolds then, when Murphy and his family endure a journey of transformation, deception and manipulation. Will OmniCorp’s scheme backfire as they underestimate the power of the human spirit?

This is a well thought out film with a good plot, cast, and great production values. While seeming simple at first with its almost childish title and superhero look, Robocop deceived me into thinking it was just another good guy against evil villain type of film.

I was pleasantly surprised by the complexity and realism of the plot. Robocop[2014] outshines its predecessor with the introduction of current world scenarios, such as America’s influence in the Middle East and their media presence all around the world, not to mention their advances in STEM fields. The film stresses upon the unseen side of the American government, making the film refreshing and edgier. José Padilha seamlessly incorporated all these subtle realities into a typical sci-fi plot.

Robocop also highlights the prevalence of power inequality in our world. Raymond Sellers and his crew constantly exhibit this in the film when they use Murphy as a human project and attempt to subdue his human side, in the end even turning on him, all for their profit. 

One of the of the standouts is television presenter Pat Novak(Samuel L. Jackson) who acts as a master manipulator, blatantly biased to OmniCorp and all its proceedings. Novak has a brilliant but short monologue at the end of the film, definitively signifying the mindset of the American government depicted in the film.

This film may well be an early contender for 'Sci-fi Movie of the Year', hitting home on all fronts with its suspenseful action for casual moviegoers, and complexity for the more engaged viewers. Be sure to catch it.

Rating: 4.5/5
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Tuesday 4 February 2014


After Launchpad, January became a blur of lessons and topical tests, classes and homework. We’ll admit that it has been taxing, especially with teachers going through the syllabus like freight trains, frantically repeating the words, ‘There’s no time! There's no time!’, like some sort of mantra - and this being just the beginning of the year. 

Its true that the sheer number of extracurricular activities have given the teachers something to be worried about, hence the earful for even just a five-minute late arrival to class. Five minutes, not one, because floating in Cheras is a particularly challenging endeavour. With stairs, stairs, and more stairs to climb, it isn't surprising that our thighs and backs are burning after just one week of school. Not to mention the new classroom names take a little getting used to - we’ve seen many a student wandering through the corridors like lost sheep looking for the rest of the flock. And we can't count the number of times we’ve been asked for directions to S2 - the furthest classroom at the Cheras block, a good number of stairs away, to everyone's chagrin. 

With so much going on, this one week break is much needed. Whether you celebrate it or not, Chinese New Year is a pretty interesting time for all, filled with reunion dinners, relatives, not-so-legal fireworks, and home-cooked comfort food that fall into the ‘only my mother/aunt/grandmother can cook this right’ category. 

We have a lot in store for us post-CNY-holidays. Senior games carnival, games carnival, and Valentines day make up the most of our February - all events that will be covered by our dedicated YJC team as they unfold. In short, savour the remaining precious few off-days, as we can guarantee that February will bring about a whole new definition of ‘busy’. 

Happy Chinese New Year!
Amanda Lee Yue Ping & Chin Wye Mun
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Sunday 2 February 2014

by Chin Wye Mun, Junior 2 Cempaka, Class of 2014

Photo Credit : Koh Jia Yao
The deafening sound of fireworks going off at ungodly hours, the surprisingly clear roads in the city and the influx of red all around - all these symptoms can only result in one diagnosis. With great pleasure, we would like to welcome the Year of the Horse and Chinese New Year. It's time for tiny red packets, mountains of sinful snacks and a rather poor hearing after all the loud fireworks and traditional festive music. Following the tune, Cempaka Damansara had our own celebration of the Lunar New Year on Monday, 27th January 2014, before breaking off for the week-long holiday. 

The assembly started off with a lively lion dance, performed by our very own Cempakans from primary school. The little lions were extremely adorable and did a good job of beginning the assembly. After witnessing the lion dance, we had Ashleigh Teng of Freshman performing the School Song in Mandarin. It was great to see another version get added to the many different renditions of the School Song.

Following the school song was the tossing of the yee sang. When the colourful ingredients are tossed, you may or may not have seen people competing to toss to the highest point. This is because it is believed that the height of your toss reflects the height of growth of your fortune. As such, it is natural that the table gets a little messy during this tradition. 

Photo Credit : Koh Jia Yao
Once the yee sang was tossed, the performances were cued to start. First up, we had the Primary Choir. They did a medley of Chinese traditional songs and I'm sure I speak for a lot of us when I say that their cuteness and adorable voices captivated our hearts. 

Photo Credit : Koh Jia Yao
The next performance proved that the talent doesn't stop at singing when it comes to the young ones. The Primary Orchestra performed a traditional medley, which had the hall swaying along to the bubbly New Year music in no time. 

Following the lovely orchestra performance was a solo by young Cempakan, Charmaine Koh who had prepared an amazing performance of The Moon Represents My Heart. Dressed in a dainty cheongsam, ready with a sweet smile and armed with a stunning voice, Charmaine was definitely a charmer.

After Charmaine's solo, Kaye Leong of Junior 1 showed that the oldies (not really old, but when you compare us to the primary kids, we've aged quite a bit) have some superb talents too. She performed a jaw-dropping cover of Harlem Yu's Qing Fei de Yi. Though Mandarin is not her first language, I would say Kaye covered the song just fine. She was powerful and light and her singing abilities are really commendable. She was accompanied by Ong Jia Ying on the piano, who also possesses admirable musical talents and achievements. 

Photo Credit: Koh Jia Yao
Finishing it off with a bang, the Form 5s presented us with a fun and vibrant dance performance. The performers were namely Chua Zi, Hana Hurst, Jazmyn Chang, Mithali Maya Mittra, Samantha Lee, Sharizah Shihab and Woon Tyen Yee. Their routine and music was modern with injections here and there of traditional sounds to match the theme. As always, the dancers left us in awe at their flexibility and smooth yet sharp movements. 

Photo Credit : Koh Jia Yao
That marked the end of the Chinese New Year Assembly. All in all, it was a great way to get everyone in the mood for the Lunar New Year as well as bring us all together in the festive spirit. I wish everyone good luck, good fortune and prosperity in the year of the Wood Horse! Don't be fooled or too taken aback by any horoscopes telling you you'll have a bad year. Your year is what you make of it! Happy Chinese New Year to all.
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