Monday 23 June 2014

Written by Timothy Hock-An Balaguru, Class of 2014, Junior 2 Cempaka

The Netherlands are a side with plenty of potential and an attacking style that suits the group of players they have. Ability is one thing however, consistency is another. At the 2010 World Cup, they finished runners-up to Spain. Two years later, at the 2012 European Championships, they had a disastrous campaign which saw them finish without a single point on the board. The question is, which Netherlands side will turn up? The hapless, misfiring group of disjointed individuals or the explosive, cohesive and well-oiled team of superstars which can destroy any team in the world? 

From what we saw in their opening match against the defending champions Spain, the latter seems to have turned up in Brazil. Almost everything the Dutch attempted paid off, and some people would even say that the four-goal margin of victory could, and should have been greater. That just goes to show how dominant Louis van Gaal’s men were, leaving a huge dent in Spain’s hopes of defending the title. 

Arjen Robben, in particular, was at his fiery best as he made some of the world’s best players look like clueless children. Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique in particular, were left embarrassed, deflated and defeated, as the Netherlands ran riot. Robin van Persie also helped himself to a couple of goals, including a sumptuous header which gave Iker Casillas no chance to get near it, let alone save it. 

After such a brilliant start, the Dutch have to guard against complacency. They will definitely be looking to top their group, so that they can avoid a meeting with hosts and pre-tournament favourites Brazil (who are widely expected to win their group) in the round-of-sixteen. Van Gaal is far too experienced to let his players relax, and this will work in their favour. They can lose and still win the group, but a loss may kill their momentum and expose their weaknesses to other teams in the competition. 

Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie will be especially important to the Dutch, especially during the knockout rounds, assuming they get there. They are senior members of the team who are amongst the finest players on display at the tournament. Their experience will be invaluable in a squad that contains many inexperienced members who are playing in their first World Cup. Besides that, they also have the ability to lift the whole team with moments of brilliance, as shown in their match against Spain. The Spanish took the lead and seemed to be in control but Van Persie levelled the scores with a bullet of a header and from that point onwards, they Netherlands had full control of the game. 

From what I’ve seen so far, it would be easy for me to say that I think The Netherlands are now the favourites to win the World Cup. I am not going to do so just yet, for they have only played one match and the tournament is far from over. Van Gaal also needs to make sure that the players peak at the right time. There is no point in the Dutch winning all of their group-stage games by four or five goals if they end up losing in the knockout rounds. Have The Netherlands peaked too early or was the match against Spain just the start of something special? Only time will tell, and whatever the answer, it is sure to be a memorable one.

Key Players: Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben 

Previews of the teams from Brazil, Spain, Germany, England, Argentina, France, Belgium and the Netherlands will be published on the Lumen Studet. Next: Belgium.

Sunday 22 June 2014

Written by Timothy Hock-An Balaguru, Class of 2014, Junior 2 Cempaka

The 2010 World Cup saw Raymond Domenech’s men eliminated without a single win in simply chaotic circumstances. During the half-time break in France’s defeat to Mexico, striker Nicolas Anelka was embroiled in a heated confrontation with Domenech, which resulted in the former being sent home and effectively banned for life (18 matches, to be exact). This decision was not accepted well by the rest of the squad, who then refused to train as a show of support for their colleague. France eventually finished at the bottom of their group, with just a single point accumulated from their three matches. In the aftermath of this debacle, the president of the French Football Federation resigned, Domenech’s contract was not renewed, and five players were disciplined for their roles in the disintegration of the team at the tournament. 

Four years down the line, the French have seemingly moved on from the horror that was the 2010 tournament, but manager Didier Deschamps still remains wary of how a disunited squad can ruin the hopes of the nation. As a result of this, he did not select the talented Samir Nasri, for reasons that many suspect are related to his personality, as opposed to his ability. Deschamps himself has stated that the squad was not picked solely based on the footballing ability of the players, but rather a variety of factors, including the effects of individuals on the mindset of the squad as a whole. 

I for one, agree with the manager on this. A talented player has the ability to contribute to a World Cup success. However, that is only if that player can fit into the team environment. If he cannot do so, the performance and morale of the whole team may go down and therefore, the player should not be picked. This was probably the main reason why Nasri was not considered for selection. Despite his absence, the French roster still has enough skill and variety to progress to at least the quarter finals. Their talented but inexperienced centreback pairing of Mamadou Sakho and Raphael Varane have been tipped to shine at this tournament, and they are ably supported by the firepower of Olivier Giroud and Karim Benzema. They also can call upon Loic Remy for an injection of pace on the right flank. Remy is on the verge of a move to a top club, and he will definitely be out to prove that he can compete with the best players in the world. 

Another player to watch out for is the talismanic youngster Paul Pogba, who is considered by many to be one of the best young footballers in the world. One notable absence from the squad though, is fiery winger Franck Ribery. Ribery is definitely a world-class player and on his day, can tear defenses to shreds. Thankfully for the defensive units of the teams in the tournament, Ribery has been plagued by a back injury for a few weeks and was consequently deemed unfit to make the trip to Brazil. 

I do not think the French have the ability to go all the way and win the World Cup, but they certainly have a point to prove following their flop at the 2010 World Cup. For me, a lot depends on the collective performance of the team. Individual brilliance will help, but at the end of the day, the whole team has to show up if France are to do well.

Key Players: None in particular, team unity is the most important thing for Deschamps’ men.

Previews of the teams from Brazil, Spain, Germany, England, Argentina, France, Belgium and the Netherlands will be published on the Lumen Studet. Next: The Netherlands.

Monday 16 June 2014

The Young Journalist Club of Cempaka Damansara is proud to announce the YJC Student Competition 2014! Coinciding with our June theme of Summer Fun, the competition will cover all three areas of YJC - Design, Editorial & Photography.

It is open to all secondary Cempakans (non-members included). All you're required to do is submit an article, design or photo of yours relating to our June theme of Summer Fun. 

You then stand a chance to win some awesome prizes including Moleskin notebooks and other great ones to be announced later. Have fun and be creative with your entries as the sky's the limit.  The details and rules of the competition can be found in the posters below.

Design Guidelines

Editorial Guidelines

Photography Guidelines
If you would like to take part, show your interest by filling up the form linked here! Note that by filling in this form, you have committed to submitting an entry by the deadline, 6th July 2014!

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Wye Mun, Chua Zi, Li Chan or Valerie. Get to your sketchbooks/camera lenses/writing pads and let your imagination run wild. We hope that this competition will be a great opportunity for students to let their creative juices flow and encourage students to pursue their interest. #yjcsummerfun

Best of luck,
YJC Damansara.

*all posters design credit to Valerie Law Veng Yee, Head of Design. 

Sunday 15 June 2014

Written by Timothy Hock-An Balaguru, Class of 2014, Junior 2 Cempaka

I have never rated the English team very highly at all. I think they are vastly overrated and overhyped by the media, who somehow always believe that they are good enough to record their second tournament victory at the World Cup. Despite the faith however time and time again, they have failed to do so. What makes it worse is the fact that they usually fall not at the final hurdle, but rather very early on in the competition. 

This has never surprised me. English teams of the past have been to a large extent, devoid of talent. They do not have the genuine world-class players which other teams can boast of. Take Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, for example. Both men have been extremely successful at club level for a very long period of time. On the international stage, though, they have not had the talismanic impact which their team so desperately needs from them. The same can be said for many other successful club level Englishmen whom for some reason or another cannot pull it together when representing their country.

England's best player at this year’s World Cup in my opinion, is Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney. Whether you love him or hate him, there is no denying that he is a great player who is capable of brilliance on his day. His goalscoring record for The Three Lions is matched only by a select group of the country’s finest strikers. His work rate on the pitch is so immense that one minute he can be found beside his own goalkeeper protecting the near post, and the next minute scoring a goal at the opposite end of the pitch. Yes there is no one quite like Wayne Rooney in the England squad and perhaps even in the entire footballing world. The other three forwards in the squad are vastly short of experience at this level, having only featured in about 40 games between them. 

England's daunting group.

The latest generation of English players has been touted as one of the finest and most technically-efficient generations of players to have come out of the country. This is a statement I cannot argue with, considering the emergence of talented youngsters like Raheem Sterling, John Stones, Jon Flanagan, Jack Wilshere, Luke Shaw and Ross Barkley. However, I think that this World Cup has come too soon for them, keeping in mind their lack of exposure at international level. If they continue developing as quickly as they are now, I wouldn’t be surprised if they manage to lead their nation deep into the latter stages of the 2018 World Cup. 

While that may be a possibility, I cannot see England achieving a great amount of success at this year’s tournament, barring some individual heroics. Their squad is unspectacular and I still feel that the members of the squad have yet to gel as a team. Roy Hodgson does not seem to know his best eleven despite the tournament being just a week away. This does not bode well for England’s already slim chances of success. Considering the strength of the teams in their group, I would be surprised if The Three Lions get past the group stage. Go on, England. Prove me wrong.

Key Players: Wayne Rooney

Saturday 14 June 2014

Written by Timothy Hock-An Balaguru, Class of 2014, Junior 2 Cempaka

I can draw parallels between Germany under Joachim Loew and pre-2008 Spain. A squad with a lot of depth? Check. A squad with game-changers in each and every position? Check. An ardent fan following all over the world? Check. Major titles? Zero. 

This is very hard to understand. Their team-sheet has always been filled with a mixture of some of the finest young players on the globe, as well as established veterans who have shown the ability to perform at the very highest levels of competition. They quite clearly have the ability to win the World Cup, but they haven’t done it since 1990. To their credit, they have been consistently amongst the top teams in the competition throughout the years. They finished second in 2002, and third in 2006 and 2010. For most teams, performances like these are simply out of reach. For a football powerhouse like Germany, though, only wins count. 

This year, the German outfit is in my opinion, the strongest squad Loew has ever had. You could put the names of all 23 members of the squad in a hat and take them out one by one. Chances are, you’ll draw the name of a great player almost every time. The problem for Germany is, this might be the last opportunity for their Golden Generation to win a World Cup. Of course, there will be new players who will develop and take the places of their elder statesmen, but we do not know how the team will fare with the nucleus of the team gone. It will be a great shame if the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm and Miroslav Klose end their international careers without any major world titles to their name. With there being a realistic possibility that this might be the last World Cup for all three of them, the time to win one is now. 

As I said earlier, this squad is very strong in all departments. Nonetheless, there are still a few players who stand out for their sheer brilliance. One of them is Marco Reus. At 25 years of age, Reus is arguably entering what should be the best phase of his career. He is blessed with a remarkable turn of pace, as well as a box of tricks that would not be out of place in the locker of a magician. He also has the ability to clinically put away his chances, which is something that he has done time and time again for Borussia Dortmund. With so many world-class central players in the German squad, Reus’ pace will add another dimension to their game. He can stretch opponents’ defences, ensuring that opposition fullbacks will have to stay further back and remain unable to support their attacking colleagues in the final third of the pitch. His explosive pyrotechnics will also be deadly on the counterattack, especially in partnership with the great passers in the team, such as Mesut Ozil and Andre Schurrle, who themselves are capable of brilliance. 

Another key asset to this German masterclass is acclaimed Bayern Munich shot-stopper Manuel Neuer, widely known as the best goalkeeper in world football. Neuers showcase of trophies since his breakthrough in the Munich club is breathtaking, and the tall German international proves his class each and every time he steps in between the posts, proving to be the key difference maker between a win and a loss. Look out for Neuer to pull out some of his incredible saves and astounding distributions to pillar the brick wall that is the German back-line.

This year’s World Cup will represent Germany’s best chance of success at a major international tournament. They have the players to do it, they have a tactically astute manager and they have a united squad not separated by individualism. With everything in place, all that is left for them to do is go out there and bring home the ultimate prize in football. 

Key Players: Marco Reus, Manuel Neuer

Previews of the teams from Brazil, Spain, Germany, England, Argentina, France, Belgium and the Netherlands will be published on the Lumen Studet. Next: England.

Friday 13 June 2014

Written by Timothy Hock-An Balaguru, Class of 2014, Junior 2 Cempaka

The Spanish have always been a very watchable team. Yet for many years, this beautiful, eye-catching football did not translate into results. 

When Vicente Del Bosque took charge of the team in 2008, something clicked. Their football was still as aesthetically pleasing as it had always been, but there was a difference. At the 2008 European Championships, the Spanish national team won their first European Championship title in 44 years. They added the World Cup to their collection two years later, and added another European Championship crown to their collection for good measure in 2012. Del Bosque had succeeded in turning a group of talented players into an all-conquering, world-class unit. 

Fast forward two years, and cracks have begun to develop. Teams have learnt how to play against the exponents of tiki-taka, by defending deep and hitting them with vicious counterattacks. Spain aren’t particularly big in stature, making them vulnerable to set pieces and crosses. They also often lack the cutting edge which many of their opponents possess, often resulting in critics calling them one-dimensional. 

Despite this, there is no doubting the fact that Spain are still a force to be reckoned with and there is no better way for them to silence their detractors than by winning their second consecutive World Title. Del Bosque has a plethora of the finest players at his disposal. In midfield, he has the luxury of choosing from a group of elite players, such as the Barcelona foursome of Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Fabregas, as well as the likes of Xabi Alonso, Juan Mata, Santi Cazorla and David Silva, among others. Many of these players would be amongst the first names on the team-sheet if they represented any other country but when playing for Spain, they often struggle to break into the first eleven. 

While their squad is laced with international stars from top to bottom, one name in particular excites me. Spain have often played without a recognised striker. Instead of conventional formations which employ a frontman or two, Del Bosque has often played with six midfielders and no striker. This is because his squad contains so many great midfielders. By playing as many of them as possible, he is playing to his team’s strengths. However, this formation often lacks incisiveness and penetration, and therefore Spain may struggle to break down defensively compact teams. 

I cannot fault Del Bosque, though. He has not had a truly world class striker since David Villa exited his prime. Fernando Torres flatters to deceive by scoring the odd inconsequential goal, whereas other recent call-ups like Fernando Llorente, Roberto Soldado and Alvaro Negredo have been inconsistent and struggled for form or fitness. This leaves him with no choice but to play without a striker and when it doesn’t pay off, he is often left bereft of ideas. 

This is where Diego Costa comes into the picture. The funny thing is, Costa is not even Spanish. He was born in Brazil to Brazilian parents and has even represented Brazil twice. In September 2013, he received citizenship from the Spanish government and shortly after, turned his back on his country of origin to represent his newly adopted nation. This decision was met with great outrage from the Brazilian public and even the coach of Brazil, Scolari, who stopped just short of calling Costa a traitor. They have probably grown even more bitter towards Costa, having just seen him finish the best season of his career by far, in which he netted 36 times in all competitions for Atletico Madrid. 

For Spain and Del Bosque however, he could be the answer to their shortage of quality strikers. If he fires, Spain will have the option of playing with a man up front, as well as the alternative of sticking to their “False-9”, striker-less formation. He also possesses great strength and aerial ability, which is something the Spanish attack desperately requires, especially against the more physical teams in the competition. At the end of the day, there is a fine line between victory and defeat, and Diego Costa might well be the man who makes the crucial difference. Who knows, that might mean scoring the decisive goal which knocks his country of birth out of the World Cup...

Key Players: Diego Costa

Previews of the teams from Brazil, Spain, Germany, England, Argentina, France, Belgium and the Netherlands will be published on the Lumen Studet. Next: Germany.

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Written by Keith Wong, Class of 2015, Junior 1 Hawking

Ever since I stepped into this school, I have looked forward to participating in the variety of activities such as, the societies, the after school sport/activities choices (CCA), etc. But one thing I stumbled upon earlier this year was something big, something extraordinary - the once in a lifetime opportunity to take part in the school’s box office production. I remember hearing whispers going about making the humble Cempaka production seem like something on par with the professional broadway shows one might attend live or watch on television. Fair enough, it was. It was remarkable - an incredible experience; a mix of talented performers (all of whom were around my age) along with sets and props made purposefully intended for a particular scene. Cempaka has been always for pushing yourself to the limits and seeing just how far they can be pushed back. The Box Office Production does just that - in a mere time span of just two months. 

     It starts off with you entering a room which is seemingly familiar, but on this particular day seems to give you more chills than thrills. You take your seat next to someone who either looks just as nervous as you or is already looking like the star of the show - either way, you panic a little more inside. Then your name is called and in a split second you realise you can't escape. Might as well get it over and done with. You step up, only to be greeted by three pairs of daunting eyes, eyeballing you from head to toe and scrutinising your every move. The way you walk, the way you talk, the way you speak and even the way you stand idle waiting for further instructions. Then it begins. You let you talent (or what you believe is talent) erupt from inside you hoping to showcase yourself in the best light possible. A quarter of a minute later, it's over. You leave feeling a mix of relief and happiness, then worry and anxiety and finally nothing. Your audition is over - on to the results! 

         The following week, should you have been one of the lucky ones to pass the audition rounds, rehearsals begin and the need to sort out your daily schedule becomes very apparent. It leaves you busy for the entire week. While loads of progress has to be made and effort equally devoted to make this production a success, your academics (for the fear of your teacher with his or her hands on their hips, waving a finger at you) has to be in check. Time management is the key to sorting out rehearsals whilst coping with assignment deadlines. Your worst enemy during this period of time is none other than procrastination - your evil best friend set to keep you away from everything important and encouraging you to have as much fun as possible. Sounds good? Trust me it's not. 

       From my experience, the beginning was quite rough, and was especially tough when it hit show days. Half a day of practising, a quarter of the day performing and another quarter lying in bed thinking, "How's the next show going to be?" tends to make any rest seem like a myth. However, after every show night, the satisfaction from performing or simply being part of something this great overcomes everything else. After show nights each day it was customary for me to have supper at the ‘mamak’ watching football. Safe to say, it was a remarkable and resonant experience that I happened to stumble upon and ultimately enjoy. Sadly it was all over in a matter of 7 weeks (yes, I did keep track).

         As the curtains drew on the last show night, it suddenly hit me that production was technically over. All the people I'd met, all the ridiculous dance moves I've learnt, all the songs which were by now cemented into my brain - all memories that'd have to remain memories. No longer would I have to proceed straight to the dance studio for warm-up or any other production tradition. “Post production depression's probably gonna last for 2 months. Or forever.” according to one of the cast (Glen) Zainal Adam. Fortunately, lets hope not as it certainly doesn't sound healthy for the human mind. For some, it might have ended sadly with the lingering thought that they would likely never see each other again. However, for the rest it might have seemed like a place where more friends were made, free food was thoroughly enjoyed, sleepless nights were endured (mainly good ones, not ones filled with negativity), and the list goes on and on. The point is it doesn’t have to be all downcast and sorrowful, there is always a bright side underneath that layer of darkness. I don't regret joining production at all and only wish I were here sooner to participate in more of them. Sadly I can't and my journey ends here. But I leave you with this - if you're sitting on the fence about next year's production; just do it! 

Photo credit : Justin Yap

by Anonymous 16:53 10 comments
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Monday 9 June 2014

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

White Christmas
As lovely as a white christmas sounds, this Korean drama is far from lovely. This is a drama that breaks the image not only presented by its very own title but the image of Korean dramas (K-drama) as well. There's a stigma carried by K-dramas that they are formulated and very cookie-cutter-shaped. In other words, they're predictable and focus more on beauty and looks rather than on actual plots. K-dramas always include unlikely (which have now become rather likely) relationships, silly conflicts and happy endings. Let me give you a few examples, unlikely relationships equal to the rich guy falling head over heels unexpectedly for the poor girl living in a small rooftop shed or two bickering enemies finding love within their spite. The silly conflicts often hang around somewhere between I'm Not Good Enough for Him/Her and Uppity Parent Takes Control and Bans Further Contact. Finally, happy endings, are of course, happy endings. The guy always ends up with the girl. The very predictable, happy endings of K-dramas are what kept me away from them for a while. 

Boys Over Flowers
After having watched the likes of Boys Over Flowers, Coffee Prince and Secret Garden, I'd come to figure out that K-dramas will always end happily. Therefore, having already reached that same conclusion in the first couple of episodes, no conflict or momentous plot twist could actually make me cry or be in shock or suspense for I knew at the back of my mind that a happy ending would always prevail. 

However, White Christmas is not one of these cookie-cutter K-dramas. In fact, it isn't even centered around romance. White Christmas is a psychological thriller drama. The setting is up in the mountains in Susin High School, an elite high school for the cream of the crop - the top 0.1% students in the nation. Basically, it's South Korea's little geniuses all pooled together in one building. They concentrate on studies and studies alone; co-curricular activities are limited. 

Susin High School
The time is Christmas break and who wouldn't want to get out , right? Well, 7 students stay behind and one teacher to look after them. These 7 students are all recipients of a strange letter whose contents have supposedly cursed them and this holds them back from going home. A series of eerie events follow the group and what might have originally seemed/been planned as a harmless stunt soon turned into something a lot darker and deeper. Do note that when I say dark, deep and eerie, I do not mean ghosts (and that's another plus to the beauty of the drama!). There are no ghosts or spirits, only the brutal reality of life. White Christmas has you picking your brain and debating about real-life issues even after you've finished watching it. It deals with themes of humanity, judgement, punishment and also the popular nature versus nurture discussion.

The series only consists of 8 hour-long episodes, which is super short for a drama/TV series as you would all know. American/European series lasts for seasons on end and normal Korean dramas can go from 20 to 40 episodes so it was refreshing to find a drama so short but yet just as, if not more, substantial in comparison. 

The cast is completed by a beautiful set of young actors and actresses who not only portrayed their characters wonderfully but really absorbed themselves into the role (or at least, I felt so). For some of them, White Christmas was a great kick-starter for their career. Take a look at Kim Woo Bin. Most of you will know him from the popular K-drama, The Heirs. What you may not know though, is that White Christmas was one of Woo Bin's first appearances in the acting scene and at that time, he didn't even go by the name Woo Bin, but rather Kim Hyun Joong (his real name). 

Kim Woo Bin
Besides Woo Bin/Hyun Joong, the cast is equipped with the likes of Lee Som (the female lead, who isn't your regular Korean ulzzang or pretty face), Baek Sung-Hyun (who stars in Big and Iris 2), Hong Jong Hyun (who will be on We Got Married with Girls' Day's Yura), Sung Joon (who acts in Gu Family Book with Suzy and Shut Up Flower Boy Band), Kwak Jong Wook, Kim Young Kwang, Lee Soo Hyuk, Kim Sang Kyung and Jung Suk-Won. 

This drama was well done and does the Korean drama industry proud. It stands out from your regular romance dramas that have earned K-dramas the stigma of being (let's face it) stupid. I'm not saying that all romance K-dramas are stupid. There are beautifully-made romance series such as Secret Garden and The King 2 Hearts. However, there are also dramas that went down the drain with terrible plots and terrible acting.

This drama would be perfect for people who like to watch murder mysteries, psychological shows and even crime shows. If you've shunned Korean dramas for their predictability and uninteresting romance plots, check this one out. It might just bring you back into the K-drama world and into a new world of psychological thrillers. 

Lastly, I use the word psychological thriller a lot to describe this drama but do not expect super mind-blowing plot twists. It's not anywhere near Inception or Shutter Island-type stuff but it's good enough for a drama and more thought-provoking than mind-boggling.

Rating : 4.5 / 5 stars

P.S. There's more to come! Look out for Part 2 of this review, one that's filled with spoilers galore. 
Read Part 2 here!
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Sunday 8 June 2014

Written by Timothy Hock-An Balaguru, Class of 2014, Junior 2 Cempaka

Every four summers, sports fans around the world are treated to a spectacle unlike any other. As exciting and dramatic as the domestic leagues and the Champions League are, the pinnacle of professional football will always be the World Cup. The best players in the world, representing their countries in a bid to secure the biggest prize in all of sports, on the grandest stage of all. What more could you wish for?

This year, the World Cup will be hosted by a country where football is larger than life for many of its citizens. Five-time champions Brazil will open proceedings at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, which will be their first World Cup match on home soil in 64 years. The weight of expectation on their shoulders has never been greater, especially when you consider 12 long years have passed since Brazil were last crowned champions of the world. Finishing anywhere but first will be considered a failure. Maybe this pressure can motivate Luiz Felipe Scolari’s squad of 23 into achieving their sixth World Cup victory. 

One thing is for certain — no one is going to hand them the title. As usual, there is a strong European contingent at the World Cup, with reigning champions Spain eager to become the first team in over 50 years to defend the prestigious title. Former champions Argentina and France will again look to give the favourites a run for their money, and it is impossible to rule out three-time champions Germany who have a squad on par with any team on this planet. Of course, these are just a few of the many teams which have realistic chances of winning the title. I will not go over all of them, only the eight teams who I feel have the greatest chance of lifting the coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy at the Estádio do Maracanã this 13 July.

When I look at the Brazil squad, I see a team which is well-rounded and immensely talented. There are no gaping inconsistencies and the team is littered with some of the game’s most naturally gifted individuals. They emerged victorious in last year’s Confederations Cup, winning each of their five matches. They capped off an outstanding tournament with a stunning 3-0 victory over Spain in the final, which to many, signalled the end of an era of Spanish dominance.

At the centre of defence lies the ever-present defensive rock, Thiago Silva. Having recently been named in FIFA’s World XI, the Brazil captain is arguably the best defender in the world, bar none. He lines up next to his new Paris Saint-Germain teammate David Luiz, who himself is no slouch, having just been made the world’s most expensive defender following PSG’s acquisition of him for a whopping £50 million. Luiz may be guilty of the occasional mistake, but these blips are becoming fewer and further between. He possesses a range of passing that wouldn’t be out of place in the centre of midfield, a position which he often played for his former club, Chelsea. This skill will allow Brazil to play out from the back, which may be useful in starting attacks. Together, the pair can hold their own against any attack in the world and may be the key to a successful campaign for Brazil.

When you think of Brazil, you tend to focus on players like Neymar, Hulk, Oscar, and many of the other attacking stars that the are at Scolari’s disposal. However, for them to thrive, they need to have the assurance that they have a stout and impenetrable defensive unit behind them to ensure that the team will not be left exposed to strong counterattacking sides. The onus is therefore on the two Brazilian centre backs to keep a good shape and remain solid under pressure, thus allowing their attacking colleagues to play the fast, free-flowing football which Brazil is recognized for. 

If there are any weaknesses in this team, it would have to be in the two defensive midfield slots which are a part of Scolari’s 4-2-3-1 formation. With players like Paulinho, Ramires, Hernanes and Fernandinho filling these positions, it is fair to say that Brazil may be a touch vulnerable in the engine room. While all these players can put in solid shifts, they do not possess the brilliance of other defensive, or deep-lying midfielders such as Andrea Pirlo, Xabi Alonso, Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal, to name a few. 

With this potential weakness in the Brazilian midfield, it becomes even more important for the defense to remain watertight, because the it will definitely be put under pressure if the deep-lying midfielders struggle. This is what David Luiz and Thiago Silva, and to a lesser extent, the fullbacks Marcelo and Dani Alves, have to be wary of. If the team plays anywhere close to how they did in the Confederations Cup, spurred on by the legion of patriotic Brazilians who are sure to fill each stadium to its full capacity when the Brazilian team is in action, I see every reason to concur with the general consensus that Brazil are the pre-tournament favourites, provided they can cope with the pressure. 

Key Players: Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Neymar.

Previews of the teams from Spain, Germany, England, Argentina, France, Belgium and the Netherlands will be published on the Lumen Studet. Next: Spain.

Saturday 7 June 2014

written by Lee Ting An, Junior 1 Higgs, Class of 2015

Do you like to walk? Do you find the need to move around overpowering? Do you love to stay fit and healthy through constant, vigorous exercise? No? Well, neither do we! Which is why we’re glad to say that on this 15th of June, while the more athletic Cempakans give up their weekend to join the Interact Club’s walkathon and do some good for the community, we will be standing in the shade, giving you water and cheering you on.

Cempaka Damansara’s Interact Club has a long history of helping underprivileged children in our local community. In last year’s book drive campaign, we gathered over 5000 books through donations of the generous Cempakan community and distributed them to two different orphanages. I’m sure the Interactors remember carrying mountains of books and building a few Ikea bookshelves that I sincerely hope are still standing. While this may not seem like much, these structurally unstable shelves are filled with the greatest charity that we can provide them with; the great gift of reading. It's unique in the way it comes with the ability to educate themselves and pave their way for a brighter future.

In line with this theme of educating children who are less fortunate, we’ve decided to take a step further in the same direction. This year’s campaign, named ‘iTeach iLearn iGrow’, is geared towards providing these kids with an education better suited to the current, modern, technologically-driven world and we aim to do this by imparting unto them some basic, essential, computer skills. In an age dominated by internet and smartphones, knowing even just the bare basics like email will propel them to greater heights when they reach the working world. Not just that, we're imparting knowledge that we've been fortunate enough to obtain what with our education in Cempaka. 

To educate these kids, we have to start at the basics. And before we even consider that, we have to get them those computers. Which is why we are holding ‘iWalk’, our fundraiser walkathon organised with the dual purpose of engaging and interacting with our fellow Cempakans as well as generating funds for our campaign. On the 15th of June, around 250 Cempakan students, teachers, alumni, other Interactors and representatives of Rotary Club Pantai Valley, District 3300 will be walking 4.5 kilometres at the Bukit Kiara Park for a noble cause. 

Later on this year, our Cempakan Interactors and volunteer students will teach the children from ‘Shelter for Children’ home in Petaling Jaya in a series of workshops called the ‘Technology Workshops’. They’ll be taught the absolute basics and essentials of using a computer such as email and internet before slowly moving on to more advanced programs like word-editing and presentation software on computers bought through the generosity and sweat of Cempakans. Armed with this knowledge, they will be better prepared to enter the real world later on in their lives, able to obtain better jobs and fully provide for themselves.

To those who are coming, we promise that even as we sit down in our shaded ‘rest-pondoks’ along the daunting trail to make it as fun for you as possible. The walkathon is a paired event, meaning those who attend have to do so with a partner, and there are some checkpoints along the way to ensure you enjoy the experience. If we’re not entertaining enough to keep you occupied the entire trail, there are plenty of monkeys up the hill (Did we mention it’s a hill? No? Whoops.) who’ll gladly lighten up your day and steal your food, which we will provide. Just remember when you’re panting up the steep incline with a friend who’s begging you to carry him that you’re running (walking) this race for a good cause.

We'd also like to thank our many sponsors for their vote of confidence in our endeavours, Dominoes, Ecotint, GSD Architecture, Proactive, Munchy's, Nestle, and our very own Cempaka Incorporated for the lovely banana nap sacks. Your contributions were a vital aspect to our success.

Did we say race? Keep in mind that although it is a competition with prizes to be won that you are not allowed to run at any point on the trail (thus the word ‘walk’ so subtly implemented into the event name). Placings will have to be decided by how fast you can walk without us deeming it as running and the speed with which you can finish your checkpoints. If you manage to bypass all the monkeys on the trail, you'll be up for our wonderful technology-themes prizes! First prize is a 2GB iPod shuffle, 2nd prize an @muse powerbank, 3rd prize a Superman/Darthvader 8GB pen drive and hampers worth RM50 for the remaining seven places. On a last note, we’d like to thank all of you for your support, and we hope you have fun!

Here's a brief announcement to all iWalk participants:
Do meet at Bangunan Bakti Siti Hasmah (6 Jalan Changkat Abang Haji Openg, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur) LATEST by 8.00am on the 15th of June, Sunday for registration and payment which begins at 7.00am. Please be punctual! A map to the place is attached below. 

A light breakfast will be provided in your goody bags after registration, along with our iWalk event T-shirt which all participants must change into. As for attire, we suggest long pants (due to mosquitoes), sports shoes, mosquito repellant as well as a raincoat just in case of bad weather - fingers crossed! Each pair must also have at least one charged phone with a working camera application which is necessary during the checkpoints.

Hope to see everyone there, join us in walking for a good cause! Also, do follow us on twitter : @cempakainteract for more updates/sneak-peaks on iWalk!

"Service Above Self"

Thank you
Interact Club,
Cempaka Damansara

Friday 6 June 2014


We've all been counting down to it and finally, after weeks of studying, test papers, sports practices and dreaded results, the month of June has finally come and with it, the long-awaited Mid-Year Holidays. 

That last sentence just feels so good it needs to be said again; It's the Mid-year holidays! In fact we can't imagine anyone saying that sentence without jumping up and down while hollering it, yes, it's that good. As much as we love classes and sports practice (though the latter may be a bit of a stretch), the mere mention of the holidays makes one all warm and fuzzy on the inside thinking about all the lazy days of nothing ahead. We can finally sleep in, become zombies, go out, watch movies, or whatever else school deprives us of doing (though becoming zombies might be excluded from that list); the world is your oyster. 

To get you into the holiday mood (which unless you're a stick-in-the-mud, you should be in one already), we've chosen the theme of Summer Fun this month. From travel articles of sunny, sandy beaches and lovely vistas, to movie reviews of the various much-awaited movies coming up this summer - we'll try our best to cover them all. We've also got something up our sleeves, which will hopefully be revealed to you all later in the week, so do stay tuned! 

Also look out for many an article on the year 2013 which we'll be throwbacking as part of our collaboration on the IB student's yearbook project. Working together with the them to painstakingly gather (more like beg for) articles, we're glad to see that this project will come to light soon, and we for one can't wait to see the final product! 

Looking back on Manic May, it really was a crazy month but like we said in our last editors' note, it's something we'd look back on and wish we could experience again. For the seniors out there, we just swam our last lap, scored our last goal, faced the terrifyingly high rope during high jump for the last time. Though our legs still turned to jelly when it was our turn to walk the talk and do what we've been cajoling our juniors to do all day, SFA was definitely to sum it all up in one word - fun. (wow, and we call ourselves the YJC). I'm also sure we can all agree, persuading scared freshman to jump into the pool was a riot. 

The remaining school events include CeMA and the academic events so be ready to switch out your football boots for boring school shoes and your swimming caps for thinking caps. On that note, we'd like to wish everyone a very happy holiday!

Happy holidays from your Editor-in-Chief and Deputy,
Amanda Lee and Chin Wye Mun.
by Anonymous 21:06 47 comments | in , , , , ,
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Wednesday 4 June 2014

written by Akhilan Manivannan, Junior 1 Higgs, Class of 2015

What makes a movie brilliant? Is it the excitement? The suspense? The action? The plot? The cast? All these individual attributes can make a movie good, maybe even great, but what truly makes a movie brilliant is its ability to make viewers think and analyse in awe. When you are completely engrossed in a movie and yet walk out of it full of questions, your brain wheels spinning out of control with creativity, that’s when you know a movie is brilliant. I discovered this personally while walking out of X-Men Days of Future Past as its ingenuity is inspirational beyond belief.

X-Men Days of Future Past is the seventh instalment of the X-Men film series and takes place some time after X-Men The Last Stand. In this high action thriller the mutant race is severely threatened by “Sentinels”, robots which are specialised in detecting mutant genes and exterminating them. These Sentinels also detect humans who can possibly have mutant offspring, exterminating them as well. The film starts off with a few, very unique, new mutants shown battling the Sentinels and eventually escaping the near death situation to meet past favourite X-Men; Storm, Wolverine, Professor Xavier and a surprising inclusion in long time villain Magneto. It is then revealed that the Sentinel programme was initiated back in 1973 when another mutant favourite, Mystique, murders scientist Bolivar Trask, the genius behind the Sentinel concept. In a last ditch effort, Wolverine’s consciousness is sent back to the past in a race against time to stop Mystique and alter the course of history before the present day Sentinels arrive and destroy our heroes.

From start to finish, X-Men Days of Future Past is as perfect a Sci-Fi Superhero movie as we are ever going to get, with intense action throughout coupled with some delightful drama and refreshingly light comedy. This comes as quite a surprise as the plot admittedly is nothing special. New villains, a group of heroes, a life-changing choice for the villain towards the end of the movie, we have seen it all before. However Days of Future Past is executed so well that it takes this seemingly mediocre plot to new heights with twists and turns that  keep viewers constantly excited. What is even more noteworthy is how Days of Future Past impacts the entire X-Men franchise to such a mind boggling degree, truly making it one of the most must-see Marvel productions in recent memory, particularly for fans of the franchise.

As for characters and acting prowess, X-Men Days of Future Pasts different time periods allowed for a wonderful mix of characters, most prominently everybody’s favourite Wolverine Hugh Jackman, Mystique played by Jennifer Lawrence, young Professor X played by James McAvoy and young Magneto played by Michael Fassbender. These four stars shone the brightest on the big screen and delivered wonderful performances in their own individual way. Hugh Jackman continued his spot-on embracement of the Wolverine character and thrives in playing the cool, manly stud of a mutant. Jennifer Lawrence’s graceful yet stealthily aggressive Mystique is no pushover either and continues to capture our hearts since coming onto the Marvel scene in X-Men First Class. 

The true show stealing actors however were James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as their beautifully contrasting portrayals of their characters was breathtaking to watch. James McAvoy played Charles Xaviers depression and mental trauma post First Class so well that it seems to have injected new life into the years of stale, monotone Professor X. His emotional and extravagant Charles Xavier truly touches the heart firmly, but so does Michael Fassbenders Erik, just in a very different way. Michael Fassbenders superbly calm yet passionately unpredictable demeanour makes you stop and forget that he’s only playing a role. That is how natural the character appeals to him. These two actors together strike an unparalleled emotional connection with each other and the audience, playing a huge part in the success of the film.

X-Men Days of Future Past single handedly takes the entire X-Men franchise to a whole new level and Marvel has definitely struck gold with this slobber knocker of a film. If you have not seen it yet I urge you to catch it in cinemas as soon as possible as we may just be looking at the clear frontrunner for Sci-Fi Movie of the Year.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
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Tuesday 3 June 2014

Written by Dato Freida Pilus, Founder Mentor of Cempaka Group of Schools & Chairman of Cempaka International Ladies College

It is difficult to pin-point an exact time when education started. It was probably about two hundred thousand years ago, when we emerged as a species called Homo sapiens, and developed an instinct from our daily experiences of where opportunities and dangers lay. 

We learned to see them as patterns (for example, fire is hot, predators are dangerous, the river provides water) and passed them on in simple signs and language to others in the group and to the young offspring. That sort of education was informal but invaluable in accumulating knowledge. It took a great stride when we learned to make symbols of such bits of knowledge. The Assyrians and Phoenicians were producers of agricultural and household goods. They traveled and sailed to distant lands, and were among the earliest known traders. They were also the first known communities to 'write' and record their possessions and trading transactions.

Among the first major civilizations that 'wrote' was Egypt, with its hieroglyphics and accounts of pharaohs in their tombs. The Egyptians also produced a medium for writing from the reeds (papyrus) along the Nile River. In the second century AD the Chinese invented paper, and this freed a large amount of silk (hitherto used as writing material) for export to Europe. Later paper followed the Silk Road to Europe. Here was a latent basis for an explosion of knowledge and education in Europe. This was ignited by a German craftsman, Guttenberg, who invented the first movable type of printing. Before the movable type, the most important book, the Bible, was handwritten on valium — each an ornate work of art.  But they were limited in number, and were kept safe as the property of the church. Only the clergy and members of the aristocracy were literate. In the UK, since the thirteenth century, only the clergy and the aristocrats were admitted to the teaching houses of the two old universities, Oxford and Cambridge. These houses were incorporated formally as largely independent colleges as members of the universities. 

Education as an activity can be traced to Socrates, a wise Athenian, in the fourth century BC. The form was informal. The sons of the city's aristocrats would gather around Socrates who, one might say, was the first formal teacher in history. Scholars might argue that the first teacher was really Thales (pronounced 'They-leez') in Meletus, a Greek colony near Anatolia in present day Turkey. Thales was perhaps the first teacher, in the sense that during a time of rampant superstition, he introduced reason and the scientific method. When it was common to attribute earthquakes or floods or any natural disaster to an angry god or gods, Thales taught that there was no need to look for supernatural explanations in life. He taught, "For every natural event, there was a natural explanation." This was the beginning of the scientific method.
Socrates; The Pioneer of Education
Two centuries later, in Athens, Socrates taught the same message. He went further, and introduced questions as the primary driver in education. The Socratic method was simply to ask questions, to probe, and to seek answers, as well as to reveal unsound beliefs, assumptions and ideas. In short, Socrates used questions to lead to the truth, and to uncover pretension, hypocrisy and sham. He was popular among the young, and one of his star pupils was Alcibiades, a young aristocrat, who later joined his teacher, Socrates, as soldiers in the long Athenian wars against Sparta. Another star pupil (from whom we were to know so much about Socrates' life and ideas) was Plato.
Plato; A star pupil of Socrates
The format of education was simple and informal. They would gather around the teacher and discuss mathematics, philosophy, literature and poetry. Socrates believed in dialogue, and thought that true education exists only when there was "contact" between two minds.  As I mentioned earlier, one of Socrates' pupils was Plato. Plato was a man consumed with ideas. Today, we have the term 'platonic' meaning as of ideas, not material. 

Plato set up the first formal Academy in Athens to carry on his teacher's legacy. And one of his star pupils, whose influence was to be greater than his, was Aristotle, another great teacher in the Greek tradition. His Ethics and Logic was to influence the course of science and education to this day. His ideas of analysis and synthesis and classification remain the core of scientific method even today.  Without Aristotelian logic and method of classification, there would be no biology or exploratory science today. Such was the influence of classical educators upon our lives today.

When Greece declined in power and Rome emerged as an empire, Roman aristocrats sent their sons to Greece, or had Greek tutors in Rome. It was the prestigious thing for a Roman aristocrat to do. They spoke in Greek more than Latin. To have a Greek mind, a mind that is open to ideas and yet disciplined and precise in its method was the ultimate aim, the ideal education.

The great works of the classical education were nearly lost, with the decline of the Roman empire and Europe broken up in bits in the Dark Ages that followed. But the Dark Ages applied only to Europe. The rise of Islam from the eight century AD over the next seven hundred years saved the great works of the Greco-Roman period. Muslim scholars together with Christians and Jews, gathered in centres of learning in Baghdad, Mecca, Cairo and Andalusian Spain, where they translated and studied the works of Greek scholars into Arabic. European scholars later translated them into Latin and later into their various vernacular languages.

As I mentioned above, education in Europe was reserved only to the few, fortunate well-born. School education was found only in private schools, and only the well-to-do could afford to be privately schooled. Again, there were very few universities, only five in the British Isles, and they were all incorporated by charter, and private. Education was mainly confined to a few subjects - Divinity, Classics, Mathematics, Law, Medicine and the Natural Sciences. Divinity was an early course to supply candidates for Ecclesiastical positions, Classics, Mathematics and the Natural Sciences for the sons of gentlemen, Law, Medicine and Natural sciences for the professions and sons of tradesmen.

At all times education was a reflection of society. When society was classified, so was education. When society gradually became de-classified, so did education. 

Throughout the early and middle Medieval period, books were rare and expensive. The process of making paper was still evolving, and printing was set, and labour intensive. However, from the middle of the fifteenth century onwards, with the widespread use of the Guttenberg printing process books became plentiful. The Bible was no longer the sacred property of the Church. It was translated in the British Isles into English, the King James Version, and elsewhere into the vernacular. The grip that the Church had on the minds of the people was, for the first time, loosened. 

Education, too, became more secular. In the case of Malaysia, formal secular education became available in the early nineteenth century onwards, with the foundation of the first English-medium school in Penang. Both Church mission and government schools became available to the people. After Merdeka in 1957, the independent government set out to establish more national type schools throughout the country. The objective was to produce more citizens with patriotism and skills to build a stable and prosperous nation.

How do I see the role of the teacher in this country? Very central. Everything begins in school. Today’s leaders and professionals and administrators all began as school children. Tomorrow’s leaders and professionals and administrators are in today’s school. They are being taught by today’s teachers.

We have a diverse society. It is the role of teachers not only to impart the skills in the three Rs, but also to develop the character of future Malaysians. The next generation of leaders, now still in school, should develop to be strong, skilled, honest, and empathic. 

It is the responsibility of teachers to shape the skills and ethos of the future generation of Malaysians. That is how important it is.

I have my own vision of a good education. I want an education that produces a disciplined, yet open and creative mind. That was the reason, in 1983, why I founded Cempaka School. I had the education of my own children in mind. Yes, Cempaka School was founded expressly for Dr. Rizal, Encik Fareed, Encik Raphael, Encik Hisham, and Encik Zahir. But now it is for thousands of other young minds.

First Cempaka Schools Campus, taken from Yearbook Committee 2013 page
My idea of a good teacher is one who produces the next generation of Malaysians who have the skills and the strength of character to build an even better society than the one they found. 

As to whether an ideal teacher exists, I would say no. The point of an ideal is that it is a destination that we must maintain our aim for. It comes from the Platonic concept of the ideal, the perfect, form that exists just beyond the reach of imperfect humans. Therefore by definition, an ideal teacher, or an ideal anything, is a point just beyond reach, beckoning us to move ahead and continue to make progress.

Photo Credit: Encik Khairul
As I have always said, nothing is impossible, but then we are all work in progress, trying to reach the perfect ideal with our imperfect human capacity.

Photo Credit: Encik Syariz