Tuesday 29 July 2014

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

[Spoilers all the way from here as I elaborate on my personal feelings about the show] 

Biggest Question in the Drama : How do you define a monster?

Photo Credit : dexjul
Upon watching this drama, there is one big question that will be floating around in the space of your mind for a while. That question, is posed at the very beginning of the series by one of my absolute favorite characters, the "ace of the team", the emotionless genius, Choi Chi-Hoon (played by Sung Joon) : Are monsters born or raised? This is equivalent to the nature versus nurture debate, which questions whether the behavior of us humans are inherited by genes or learned through observation and imitation of our environment. Although this question is more frequently asked than the award-winner, when you think about it, you'll find yourself wondering more on what is a monster rather than how one is created. The original question stems one of what exactly is the definition of a monster? How would you define "monsters"? 

After having these questions prop themselves in my mind for hours and taking away my precious sleep time, here's what I think I think (this is intentional; it's such a complicated topic of discussion I'm not completely sure this is what I think but for now, it is). I've always leaned a little more to the nurture side of the debate. I believe that if you grow up in a certain environment, you will most likely be influenced by said environment. For example, if you are surrounded by a Chinese-speaking community, regardless of your born race, you will end up picking up some of the Chinese language, likely even more than the race you're born into. 

Regarding the definition of monsters and the whole talk about whether we are born with them or we raise them, I feel that the presence of monsters are inevitable. Humans are monsters - we are complicated creatures, shaped by our environment and shaped by nature. There is no single human who will not feel the touch of a "monster". We are not born to kill yet we are not born 100% pure. We are born to be challenged by temptation, by envy, by anger and hatred. The beauty of being human is that we can choose who we want to become. It is true that circumstances can restrain, but with determination, we can be whoever we want to be. When a murderer kills, they have chosen to pull the trigger. When you help an elderly lady cross the street, you have chosen to extend your arm to her. We are not born to point guns or to be generous. We are taught and we should be educated. And then we choose for ourselves. Like a novelist, you write your own story. It is your choices that make you who you are - monster or not. 

Even then, the lines can get blurry. Are you a monster if you steal for your poor family? On one hand, by stealing, you have committed a sin and a crime - bad. On the other, you're aiding the survival of your family - good. Like I said, humans are complicated. Sometimes, out of the blue or when our boundaries have been pushed, we turn into monsters, but then we learn to calm our demons and maybe even eventually slay them.

This is why so many people are focused on getting criminals to be educated rather than just punished. Of course, prevention is best but that is not an option when the crime has already occurred. 

Who won the game?

The ending was a beautiful thing. The doctor claims he "won" because the students pushed him to the edge of the roof and watched him fall, eyes cold and blank, unfeeling. At that moment, he felt that he had managed to turn them into monsters, cold-blooded killing machines. I have to agree. I think it is true. That scene and the interrogation scene that follows show the dark side of the students. Look into Park Moo-Yul's dark eyes during the interrogation and you will find something terrifying - the loss of the innocence of a young boy who once believed that following the rules makes you honorable. They could have chosen to let the police enter and do their job (which they aren't very good at - how can you mistake a frozen body for a fresh one?) but instead they chained the doors together and cornered the doctor into gripping the edge. They let themselves be consumed by anger and hatred. In this sense, I do believe they let out their beasts.

However, within the unleashing of their inner monsters, they also made themselves vulnerable to each other and found among the group, the formation of a new (hopefully) unbreakable trust. They too had won the game by finding the power to trust each other. They all had matching stories during the interrogation and no one person told the truth. Throughout the game, there are rare times you find all 7 of them together and discussing plans or filling each other in. Someone is always missing. But in the end, they're all together and they walk the same path, the same direction. Lying is a sin but trust and teamwork are virtues. 

If you think about it, while playing the game, they were forced to already consider the possibility of being burdened by murder in order to stay alive. Young Jae cracking under the pressure convinces me that he is the weakest link of the group. The rest of them though, remain adamant that they will not become the monsters Doctor Kim wishes them to be. Though they remained adamant about it, they were definitely very close to crossing the border. Jae Kyu almost smashed the life out of Young Jae, but then he took a look at himself and he saw the image he swore not to be. Eun Sung raged at Doctor Kim and threw her cup near him in anger, the want to kill boiling and bubbling at her very surface. Moo Yul thought about letting go of the rope and letting Chi Hoon fall to his death and he faltered. He let go for the slightest moment but he regained himself and he pulled again till Chi Hoon was back to safety. But when it came to the doctor, they all cracked.

I was truly very disappointed that they pushed him over the edge. When the doctor admitted Yoon Su's case had failed but questioned the results of the rest standing in front of him, Park Moo Yul turned to walk away. I honestly thought he was walking away from this nutcase, walking away from becoming a monster. But he didn't. I suppose he actually gave it away in the beginning. He did say, "I had to become a monster to fight a monster". I loved the students so much that I really didn't want them to turn into monsters, even if it was just for a moment.

Adults vs. Adolescents 

Anyway, perhaps it is better that they pushed the doctor to the edge instead of letting the police take over. This brings us to another great thing about this drama which is the incompetence of the adults versus the genius of the adolescents. Perhaps they feared the police would slip up yet again and fail to wrap this whole mess up. Young Jae's mother was frustrating. She should have just waited her turn to speak and the minute she stole the microphone from Moo Yul's father, I was in disbelief. Eun Sung's mother was quite a sad case. There are several theories on why she kept quiet about her greatest sin but I still stick by the simplest, most obvious one, as explained in the movie. She was selfish. 

Genius Kids

Also, the fact that they were all incredibly smart (except I didn't really see Young Jae's intelligence, pardon me and if anyone can show me some proof of this, I'd be thankful) meant that there was no room for ranting at the ensemble for doing the silliest things. Many characters often make obvious mistakes like trusting the wrong person, taking the wrong road or doing the stupidest thing like going out alone in the dark. However, these geniuses don't and that's a relief for it saves me the energy of having to press the space bar and pause the show and just take a moment to detach myself from the utter stupidity of the character. 

Best Death : Choi Chi Hoon

Other contenders include Yoon Eun Sung, Yoon Su, Jung Hye and the teacher. I'm assuming Eun Sung was indeed hypnotized and the teacher didn't really stand out to me as anything anyway. It was a pity he had to die. It would have been handy to have a judo expert still on the student's side. Jung Hye was just crazy but Yoon Su's death was well-done. Even so, the thought of Chi Hoon dying was more saddening though manageable for me. It was honorable. He worked hard to get them out of their mess but Young Jae had to crack under the pressure, once again and put Chi Hoon up for punishment. This particular award could be slightly prone to bias, I'm sorry.

Best Character Development : Yoon Su/Kang Mo

Furthermore, the character development was pleasant. They're all very distinct characters. My favorite characters for development/background were Yoon Su and Kang Mo. Yoon Su taught me that we believe what we want to believe. We twist illusions and make it into our own truth. He was illusioned that his maid/aunt was his real mother and formed a disliking for her real son, who stole the attention away from him. He lied about being kidnapped and eventually even believed his own lie. The corner monster was only a monster because Yoon Su thought it was. It was all in the mind. 

For Kang Mo, he was brave and courageous and I pitied the way they "witch hunted" him. He was so cheery in the beginning of the show; it was heartbreaking to see him lose his smile for about the whole second half or so of it. He is so selfless - he discards his own personal attachment towards Eun Seung, for as long as she is happy, he feels happy. He was separated from the rest and had to hide from the people who were supposed to be his "teammates". And yet, at the end of it all, he saved the day, disabled. 

Young Jae actually had a good chance to win in this department (he's not even the best troublemaker). He battled with consistency and vulnerability and he cracked twice under the pressure of the gun pointed to his head but in the end, he managed to keep it cool and keep the trust. 

Best Bromance/One True Pair (OTP) : Kang Mireu & Choi Chi Hoon

You can't deny it. The moment Mireu found out that Chi Hoon was dead (or presumed so), his face just completely changed. They're from two completely different worlds - Mad Mi Reu & the emotionless genius. Yet, they're bound by the heated passion of competitive youth. Mireu was the one person to ever beat Chi Hoon. Mireu was the only person to ever cause Chi Hoon to feel loss. They don't show great affection towards one another or even friendship, but there's a special relationship found in competition. 

And they definitely beat Eun Sung paired with anybody. If I were to pair Eun Sung with anybody, it'd probably be Young Jae. That part where he cornered her and said that twisted line, there was something magical in the darkness of their relationship. 

Most Angelic : Yoon Su (of course, haha)

Finally, some people argue that Yoon Su killing himself was more monstrous than becoming a killer. I disagree. Indeed, he stayed true to his nickname of Angel. Even if he didn't like it, I felt that Yoon Su was more of an angel and less of a monster than any of the other 7 kids. Not even Park Moo Yul, the most obedient or Choi Chi Hoon, the smartest was more angelic than Yoon Su. Yoon Su killed himself but the 7 of them killed somebody else. Yoon Su had the right over his own life and sacrificed his own to protect those of others. Was the doctor's life for the other 7 to take? No. Stripping it down to the basics, they had killed someone, committed murder and turned into monsters. 

People also speculate that Yoon Su's death was made to symbolize that together they stand but alone they fall as Yoon Su was the only one separated from the group at the end during their recovery while the rest were together in the hospital. I could agree with this and I think it's further testament to the strength of the trust they've formed with each other. It's just a pity that Yoon Su can't be a part of it in the future (hoping for a sequel). 

Character Who Deserved More Screen Time : Lee Jae Kyu

Jae Kyu was one of my favourite characters from the start. I honestly thought he was going to die first because he seemed to be very close to the main protagonist (Moo Yul) and normally the main protagonist won't die but someone close to him will. For example, he was always around Moo Yul and helping him search the student records. 

Luckily, he didn't have to experience death. I also did not expect that Jae Kyu would be the sender of the letters. He seemed genuinely confused and out of place, having only transferred that spring. His fighting scene with Young Jae was thrilling and his blood-spattered face is just, cool. I really am a fan of that scene. Along with the snowball fight scenes (both the ones with and without Eun Sung), Jae Kyu and Young Jae's fighting scene is among my favourites. 

In this scene, we really see that moment of realization Jae Kyu faces when he looks into the mirror. He sees the monster in him and drops to his knees. You can feel the desperation and craze in his eyes. He longs to wash off his stains of cruelty but they don't come off easily. He lost himself. 

I sing praise for this drama for it is not your regular Korean drama. It is not predictable and though there are slight plot-holes on which the drama can be criticized on, the overall impact was enough to cover it up. It has much more of a real, human feel to it than many of the Korean dramas out there. I look forward to more good psychological, thriller finds in the Korean drama scene. Some people may find my praise for this drama to be exaggerated and overly-hyped but I stand by the fact that this is one of the best dramas I have ever watched and no one will be able to change my opinion. Also, I'd be happy to engage in any discussion in the comments below about the drama. 
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Saturday 26 July 2014

Written by Nadia Marissa, Class of 2014

Love her or hate her, Kim Kardashian has built herself an empire from which she can mint money constantly. A recent addition to this is her free-to-download game (available on both Android and iPhone), KIM KARDASHIAN: HOLLYWOOD. 

The premise is simple, you start at the bottom and crawl your way to the top by making appearances, modelling and walking the runaway. This is done by tapping a series of buttons to complete tasks, in order to fulfill your current goal. At first glance, it’s vapid and superfluous. So why is it that this game stands to make $200 million this year and has a five star rating on the app store? 

Some of Kim Kardashian's favourite outfits in the game!

You don’t have to look far into the human psyche to find the answer. Only a microscopic group of people have the luxury of luxury. Kim Kardashian: Hollywood allows you to experience the life of an elite where bicoastal flights are worth mere dollars and it’s okay to blow off $950 on this really nice tank top which is an absolutely necessary purchase, thank you very much. There are no credit card debts, utility bills to foot or taxes to pay in Kim Kardashian’s world. 

The media mogul has intelligently created a warped, idealised, and infinitely more glamorous version of adulthood within this small game. A twisted piece of reality which apparently, everyone wants. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a fashion shoot to complete.
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Thursday 24 July 2014

Written by Ho Wye Yew, Sophomore Cempaka, Class of 2016

Neo Nvan Netereok
Rocky Red Cliffs
30th June 2014

Cempaka Damansara Campus
19 Jalan Setia Bakti 1
Bukit Damansara
50490 Kuala Lumpur

Dear Earthling,

I received a letter from you a year ago, asking me to describe how I spend my summer holidays. Unlike your two month holiday, Martians get to relax for 6 Earth months since our summer is longer than yours! Be warned: do not get overwhelmed by the complexity and absurdity of what I shall write below. Keep in mind that Mars and the Earth are two different planets, so expect a huge cultural shock!

After the mundane term, my friends and I usually head to the meteor valley to play a game of Meteorball. Usually, we have to wear ‘gravity gainers’ which overcome the lack of gravity and pull us downwards in our everyday lives. Basically, Mars has a significantly lower amount of gravity than your planet and as such we will float in the air during this game. When the game commences, two hundred meteor balls will be unleashed upon us on the field. As individuals, we need to catch as many balls as we can to win the game. The twist is, that when you place your meteor balls back into the cage, they may escape so you are required to keep an eagle eye on it. The highlight of this game is that a rush of adrenaline and pure excitement always surges through you when you try to partake in the frenzied pandemonium for the first time.

To the contrary of all the commotion, many Martians enjoy hiking up Arsia Mons to enjoy the serenity of what the mountain has to offer. Whenever I get the solitude to stroll briskly up the mountain, I grab the chance to gaze at the psychedelic sunset, where a warm orange glow of sunlight glistens upon the edges of the clear yellow sky. Purple clouds envelop the vicinity, creating a picturesque yet mystic panorama. Eerie but interesting creatures can be found roaming the area. Defining fun on Mars is not just the presence of friends and activities but also by observing Nature’s talent. Although many people do not even notice it, there are so many things to learn in this area which really defines the educational side of my summer fun. For instance, observing a different creature can improve your biological knowledge on the classification of Martian animals.

If the gruelling sun takes its toll on me, heading to my mother’s dance studio would be ideal. Not only have Martians placed first place consecutively in universal dancing competitions with their authentic ‘jelly dancing’, we have been accorded with twisting dances from different planets as well. At first, when I tried dancing, I forgot to put my ‘gainers’ on, so I ended up twisting my entire body in mid air. It was a real disaster. Nonetheless, failure is the head start to success. As I learned new techniques, I felt more confident in meandering myself across the hall.

In life, I believe that people should experience their summer fun by indulging in unattempted activities yet having that irresistible feeling of excitement, enrichment and exhilaration. Holidays filled with opportunities should not be demolished by stress and pressure. One word of advice—prepare cold refreshments with you! On Mars, all of us get dehydrated extremely easily so we need more redeau, which is our source of hydration. Anyways, I hope you will invent some activities on Earth based on mine! Cheers!

Regards, Neo.
Written by Yap Jia Xin, Class of 2015, Form 4 Science 1

For most people, the bare mention of the word “summer” triggers the uncontainable excitement that builds inside of them as they yearn for the summer holidays to arrive year after year. As summer inches closer, many even count the days till they get to kick back, relax and enjoy that time of the year where the very existence of stress and worry have no authority over anyone whatsoever. Unfortunately, or shall I say fortunately, we Malaysians do not fall into that category as living in a tropical country, we experience this much anticipated season all year-round. However, let’s not talk about how we spend our year-long summer indoors with the air conditioning set to the lowest temperature permitted, but about how we would spend our summer if we did experience the four seasons. 

The promise of summer brings great hype and expectations- tanning, swimming, going to beach parties, the list goes on. You and your best friends spend the whole month planning out the perfect summer, but let’s face it, odds are that the exhilarating activities and action-packed agenda will not quite go as planned. Nonetheless, chances are that it will not result in summer break being any less spectacular. Having that said, here is a breakdown of typical summer fun, where expectations meet reality.

It is almost guaranteed that the first thing on everyone’s summer to-do list is to hit the beach. That said, your expectations would in all likelihood, be to get a tan or swim in the ocean. Either way, when summer rolls around and the reality of the sun beating down on your back and frying you on the sizzling pan (otherwise known as the beach) would suddenly make watching movies indoors with the air conditioning on full blast seem like the more reasonable choice, which you take without a moment of hesitation. Just like that, all hopes of getting that beautiful sun-kissed skin is thrown out the window. 

The next thing on the list you would expect yourself to fulfill - start being healthy and exercise every day. Alternatively, this could also be written as - start working hard for the perfect beach body. In reality, and also the unbearable searing heat of the summer, you may as well just cross this off the list as it would be immediately ruined by your overdose of ice cream, frozen yogurt and shaved ice. Well, that was quick.

Besides that, surely you would expect to spend every waking moment of summer break with your friends going to phenomenal beach parties or simply just letting loose. However when reality kicks in, your inner sloth would probably have revealed itself and have you stay inside and be socially awkward in every possible way. Incidentally, no, this in no way implies endless hours of stalking your friends on Facebook, Twitter or even on Instagram. Of course not!

As you can see, reality has quite distinctly triumphed in the expectations versus reality war. In spite of that, one thing remains unchanged. The element of fun in the summer was always at hand whether in expectations, or reality. Truth be told, although it is wishful thinking that we would ever live through the four seasons and get to experience summer from this point of view, one thing is undeniable - summer is always filled to the brim and bursting with fun, whether it lasts for two months, or a whole year.
Written by Sarah Rajaratnam, Class of 2016, Sophomore Cempaka


After I bounced out of bed, I tied my flawless hair into a perfect bun, and admired myself in the mirror! After getting ready, I went jogging around the park, took a shower and cooked delicious breakfast for myself!

Translation into reality, you may ask? I dragged myself out of bed, and caught sight of myself in the full length mirror, attached to my cupboard. I saw... a confident young woman, who really needed to stop looking like a zombie that had been electrocuted. I looked at my phone. 11:50am. Wonderful, I was late for lunch with the neighbors, which had started at 11:30. Honestly, I did not expect my holidays to start like this.

I’m sure this essay was a bit unexpected, since most people would write about how good their holidays were, and how much they achieved, and how much fun they had during the holidays. However, I cover everything, down to the last nitty-gritty, disappointing detail. Don't worry, it doesn't get worse.(not by a long shot anyway!) Also, since summer is all year round here in Malaysia, I’m just going to refer to it as holidays, instead of summer holidays.

Summer fun. When the phrase comes to mind, so do a lot of other things, like playing volleyball on the beach, swimming in the crystal-clear ocean with tropical fish, and taking selfies with your best friends. What probably doesn't come to mind is spending hours, you’ll never get back, on your laptop, and promising yourself that you will finish that assignment today, but never really starting it. Usually, plans get a little messed up and sidetracked, along the way. The trick is how to deal with it when things don’t go completely perfect, though, to you people who’ve had ‘perfect’ holidays, good for you! Otherwise, I’ll let you in on a little FBI Secret’... You’ve got to look at the positive side when things go south!

“What is this silly writer talking about? How can I be happy after I... (bought a game on Steam, and it went on sale later, , got sick and wasn’t able to meet up with my friends, etc.) ? Ah, this is just going to be like one of those encouraging hipster posts, about being happy no matter what happens, and stuff like that.”

I’m going to bet some of you thought this.

To be honest, summer fun could be spending a day at the beach with your best buds, or it could be finishing holiday homework with friends the night before, and thinking of the worse-case scenarios of when school starts, but it really doesn't matter what you do during your holidays, weekends, or free time, as long as you don’t feel like you're wasting most of your youth, (even if you are a little), because every moment is worth enjoying.

It’s time to end the essay with a very deep and knowledgable line, or else you’ll only finish reading this essay after Hari Raya Holidays. It isn't so much what you do, it is your attitude while you’re doing it. You can choose to complain and generally be the pessimist, or you could choose to make whatever you’re doing, fun. (or at least pretend to!) 

Written by Aishwarya Baskar, Class of 2016, Sophomore Cempaka

Parents these days do not understand what a teen’s life is like. Hormonal teenagers have a lot of things on their hands and barely have enough time for themselves. The stress that teens experience is very different from what it was like in the 1900’s. Back then, teens barely had stress till they started working. Now, we experience stress even before high school. Teens have homework, household chores, baby-sitting, peer pressure and the list goes on and on.

Just the other day, I was deprived of one the most important necessities in my life other than nasi lemak, my iPhone. It was confiscated for a month and I was devastated. I begged and cried and begged but nothing worked. For them, it is simple: if we could live without a phone till we were in our 20s, you can too. The older generation do not understand that we have been exposed to technology since a very young age and thus it has become a necessity in our very short lives.

The other thing that parents often do not understand is the difficulty of trying to juggle classes outside of school and homework. For instance, I play the piano and the violin, I do Taekwondo and I also play badminton. I often find that I barely have time to do revision or even talk about practicing the piano and the violin. In the 1900’s, students never had much homework and had more time to practice other skills and be more well rounded.

Also, many teens this days have bags under their eyes. This is no doubt the cause of lack of sleep due to overloading of homework. Homework has become a major issue among teens these days. The amount of homework given by teachers is literally so exorbitant that my bag returns home overflowing almost every day.
Peer pressure. Peer pressure is one of the main causes of suicide these days. Peer pressure has became a major worry in today’s world. Peer pressure is basically when

a teen feels pressured to follow their friends. Suicide occurs when their friends tease them due to something they do not have or because of their body size or even because they are smart. Peer pressure often makes teens make decisions that they will likely regret later on in life. I find that teens are often very insecure because little things like friends calling them ‘fat' or teasing them can actually cause them to commit suicide.

I think a lot has changed since the 1900’s. Things have affected the way people behave and how technology has evolved from large telephones to small pocket-sized mobile phones. 

Written by Ayena Shaneez, Class of 2016, Sophomore Aer

“I am so sorry Olaf. They were...they were the best snowmen in Winter Woods.” With that the last mourner left. Olaf stood silently under light shower of snowflakes as the graveyard turned silent once more. He dropped to his knees and cried, hugging himself for warmth. As his sobbing receded, he gave his last eulogy.

“Dad, you were the bravest snowman I knew. You were my role model and I will miss you. I will miss your gruffness, how we bonded through baseball, how your eyes lit up when I hit a home run, how you had always been there for me.” Olaf said, placing frozen irises at the base of his father's tombstone. He turned to the adjacent tombstone.

“Mom, you gave the warmest hugs in Winter Woods. I don't know how to live without you. I love you, mom. I love you so much.” Olaf said, and with that, he bid his final farewell to his parents and began walking home.

As he stepped into the threshold of his home, he was assaulted by a barrage of happy memories. His father reading the paper in the morning. His mother knitting beside the kitchen table. The delightful trio eating dinner together. Then it hit Olaf like a ton of bricks. He had no one else. He was alone, and so he began packing. To where, even he didn't know. Anywhere but where he was now.

He packed his tiny amount of belongings into a bundle, and he was set. Olaf walked and walked for what seemed like ages. He spent his nights on the ground or nestled near frozen foliage. He scoured the ground for nuts and acorns. He came across a perching owl one morning. “Hello” he said - waving to the animal. The owl ignored him-extending its wings, ready for flight. “Hey wait! Wait!” Olaf called out as the great bird flapped its wings and soared into the shaded sky.

The owl was now a speck in the sky, and yet Olaf followed it throughout the morning. He forced himself through the labyrinth of pine trees until his whole body was numb. The owl was the beacon-the guide- and he, the follower.

Olaf felt it before he saw it.The heat. And then he found it. Summer. The line between winter and summer was so narrow and distinct, with Olaf standing a mere inch away from crossing that boundary. For a second, Olaf was caught in a conundrum but then he remembered that he had nothing to live for anymore. And so he crossed.

The feeling of sunlight was euphoric,unlike any other sensation. Olaf twirled in the warmth, a prominent smile plastered on his face. He inhaled the pollen with extreme gusto and listened to the chirping in the air. The emerald leaved trees rustled slowly,whispering to each other. Heaven, he thought. Olaf found himself staring at the azure sky and the sun nestled in between cotton clouds like an untouched egg yolk. That was the last thing Olaf remembered.

The owl watched intently, astounded as Olaf melted in a matter of seconds, leaving behind only black stones, a carrot and two sticks. His heart went out to Olaf's family. Little did he know what the melted snowman had been through.

Written by Riana Kumarajothy, Class of 2015, Junior 1 Venter

Dear Kate,

Thank you for writing to me and staying in touch with me since the move. Glad to hear that you and your family are doing well. We are all doing great here. Summer break has finally arrived after months of monotonous school days and the dreaded early morning wake ups, am I right? I will be on a ten day break during the time you come visit so I have loads in store for your fun filled summer!

As you asked about in your previous letter, Kuala Lumpur itself has plenty of details I can drone on and on about. The weather is something you can look forward to as you said the temperature back in England has been fluctuating. Well, get ready for the warm and humid yet pleasant weather as we head off on our brief journey!

Firstly, we should certainly take a trip to Port Dickson, home of the most attractive beaches of the state, Negeri Sembilan. Not too far away from the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur, the crystal-blue ocean waters and soft, golden sand are definitely things to anticipate. We should undoubtedly capture the picturesque scenery of the sunset at Port Dickson before heading off to our next destination after a few days of relaxation by the seaside.

Next, we should visit the historical state known as Malacca. Knowing you for about 10 years now, I have learnt that your favourite subject is History. A must to explore is the A’Famosa Fort. This is where we can learn and gain knowledge about the colonisation of Melaka by the Portuguese through the remains of this event. I am sure you will enjoy it!

From the historical spot, we should definitely take a stroll down Jonker Walk whilst waiting for the Night Market to begin along the Jln Hang Jebat, in Chinatown, where you can spend a little bit of money on a wide array of delicacies and handicrafts. Did I mention that it might get quite crowded? Not to worry, the delicious treats and pretty souvenirs will make up for that.

Before you head back to England, I have to take you to our twin skyscrapers at the heart of Kuala Lumpur, the Petronas Twin Towers. It really is mind-boggling to think about how they came about building such structures! As we will already be in the city centre, we can also visit the historical site known as ‘Tugu Negara’. This National Monument commemorates the many soldiers who lost their lives in Malaysia’s arduous journey to freedom.

I really hope you are looking forward to your trip to Malaysia even more now that I have given you a brief overview of what is in store for you! Please let me know if you require any other details before you make your way here. I can’t wait to spend time exploring different places with you!

Lots of love, 

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Written by Yap Jia Xin, Class of 2015, Form 4 Science 1

As the name suggests, this year's English Games featured an improvisation cum acting competition amongst some of the finest actors and actresses from the Form 4 and Junior 1 level. (or at least, deemed by their house captains)

Photo Credit: Lai Li Chan
“Act it Out” consists of two rounds. Round 1 required an individual representative from each house to tell a story related to the theme given to them half an hour ago. That’s right, not only did they have the daunting task of going up in front of an audience solo, but they also had to conjure up an entire storyline within that short amount of time.

First up, was Eg Zhong Qi from Rumah Harimau. He started off his money-themed story describing a teapot, owned by a couple, which converts acts of violence into money. The story revolved around the value of money and its ability to drive a person beyond belief which eventually, ended with a heated argument causing the murder of the wife by her husband. Zhong-Qi then concluded his story by providing us with food for thought. “How far would you go for money?”

Next up, the crowd welcomed Joey Teoh from Rumah Seladang onto the stage. He received a warm welcome after surprising the crowd with an unorthodox opening. His split personality was certainly a unique trait that differed him from the rest of the speakers. His story primarily focused on his dual personality and the hopes that people will have 'Faith' in him. Safe to say, he definitely shocked and awed the audience with his superb acting abilities!

Following that, Beruang’s representative, Akhilan, debuted his story with a very emotional confession regarding his theme, Love. His story centred around loneliness till he met a woman - the love of his life (obviously). However, this typical love story did not end too happily when we learn that his wife cheated on him with another man. Overflowing with emotions of sadness and despair, his short-lived love story ended with him expressing his agony as a man who had his heart wrenched apart.

The final speaker of the event was Syafiq Aqmar, from rumah Helang. Syafiq spoke about his dream of being a farmer despite his father being a billionaire. His story described his father’s great disappointment towards him, followed by his hard work and the complications he had to endure as farmer. Eventually, he managed to earn some money and performed his signature victory dance subsequently to mock his father.

After the applause and cheers of Round 1 had died down, Round 2 commenced without a second to lose! Round 2 is where team work and quick-thinking comes in. Pairs of two from each house firstly had to watch a muted 2-3 minute clip taken from random scenes of films or sitcoms. Following that, they are given a solid 30 minutes to construct a dialogue based on the actions and gestures as well as emotions seen in the muted snippet. Their aim is to mimic those acting in the muted excerpt as best as they can except this time, incorporating the element of speech into it.

First up, was the dynamic duo from Seladang! Khandhan Nadarajan and Keith Wong were the pair who had to take on the challenge of playing a married couple with their “Love” themed excerpt taken from the widely known American television sitcom, “Everybody Loves Raymond”. Their take on the scene had involved Keith walking in on his wife, Khandhan (yes, you read correctly) doing some...business. The type that takes place in the bathroom, to be more specific. I’m sure all of us remembered that line accompanied by Khandhan’s continuous humorous whining.

Photo Credit: Lai Li Chan
With the audience pumped up from the first performance, the Beruang pair, Edryna Zarif and Timothy Yang picked the audience right up from where the Seladang’s had left off. Within the first 10 seconds of their performance, themed “Tears”, Edryna and Timothy already had the audience roaring with laughter with their Bollywood approach to the excerpt they were given. The plot they came up with revolved around a heartless son who only appreciated his mother for the delectable sandwiches she makes. In a way, they did keep to their theme when they had us hold back tears whilst laughing hysterically at just about every word they uttered. Not to mention when Timothy began to sing “A Thousand Miles”! 

Next on the list was the Harimau pair, Alisraa Aldin and Andrew Wong, acting out an “Education” themed extract from yet another popular television sitcom, “F.R.I.E.N.D.S.”. Comparatively softer in terms of volume than the first two acts, it was relatively more challenging to pick up on their story line. Their scenario was based on two friends, one assisting the other who had an acting audition lined up. It’s no secret that the pair from Harimau have not quite mastered the art of pronouncing their Rs - which was clearly heard with their repeated use of the famous Shakespearean line “Romeo, Romeo, where for art thou, Romeo?”. Ironically, Alisraa, who was playing the role of a teacher, criticized her student for his pronunciation when she herself was no better! Was their wobbly pronunciation unintentional or part of the act? We’ll probably never know. 

Last but definitely not least, was the pair from Helang! Carried by Dhanya Kuladeva and Yap Jia Xin (yes, yours truly), they had to mimic a scene which also happened to be from “F.R.I.E.N.D.S.”. Keeping to their theme, “Sisterly Love”, they delivered a very dramatic and amusing performance. Long story short, two best friends had the hots for the same guy only to have one of them backstab the other by going on a date with him. It then ended with the two crying and hugging...and crying again...and hugging again, after mending their treasured friendship.

Photo Credit: Lai Li Chan
Alas, with that, the “Act It Out” competition came to an end. That could only mean one thing - it was time for the much anticipated results! The victor of Round 1 surprisingly turned out to be Syafiq from Rumah Helang, which came as a shock as many had expected Joey Teoh of Rumah Seladang to win. However, props to him and the rest of the participants for making the audience laugh and cry! For Round 2, Rumah Beruang came in as the clear winner.

All the same, all the participants put up a good act (pun intended) and definitely proved to be sporting contenders. The acting does not stop here however, with tomorrow being the screening of the much anticipated iMovies for the Cempaka Movie Awards. Stay tuned!
by Anonymous 23:22 22 comments | in , , , ,
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Top Design Winner;
Law Jeng Yee, Sophomore Terra, Class of 2017/2018

Lim Wei Xin, Junior 2 Cempaka, Class of 2014

Monday 21 July 2014

Written on behalf of the Prom Committee 2014 

Prom - often times, referred to as the most exciting part of senior year is fast on approach. Remember, however, the event is a senior-only one (unless your date’s a senior) and all you juniors reading this right now can either look away for fear of spoilers (if you’re really that concerned) or carry on for a taste of what is to come in the future. Of all the events in the year however, this might just prove to be the most memorable for the senior batch; the amazingly diverse (but surprisingly intact) Class of 2014. Making it’s way into the month of December, prom night, aptly themed “Film Noir” is set to dazzle with good music, good food and good company (or so it says on the Facebook page). 

A night to remember.

Most of the night will probably be filled with amazing outfits, awkward dance moves (with the occasional superstar taking centre stage to bust a move and show you how it’s supposed to be done), food galore and last-minute friendship pictures - rest assured the Prom Committee has got remembering every single candid, awkward, special and amazing moment covered. As such, looking and being your absolute best is essential. 

Not forgetting the prestigious Prom King and Prom Queen awards, other special titles are up for grabs and with only about 80+ seniors, there’s a pretty good chance you might be among the proud recipients. Despite the severe lack of details in this article (we like to keep things shrouded in mystery - just like our theme might suggest), we hope you’ll consider attending on December 5th! Any inquiries can be directed to Samantha Lee, Anishaa Jeyakumar, Nur Habibah or Samantha Goh - hope to see you all there! 

Design by Valerie Law and Lim Jade
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Friday 18 July 2014


June has come to an end, and with it all the joys of summer. Soon to come, YJC will be holding An Afternoon with the War Poets, as a tribute to those who perished in World War 1. This year marks the 100th anniversary of World War 1, the massive conflict that shook the world to its knees. However the world war is not the only thing we would like to pay tribute to. We would also like to highlight the recent tragedies across the world and nation that have happened, and are still happening right now. 

It seems to be a difficult time for the world, especially our own country. Fresh from the recent MH370 tragedy that darkened Malaysian skies, the public is now reeling at yet another airline disaster. Much has still yet to be confirmed, and we urge everyone to be responsible in disseminating information as well as to be considerate. 

In these trying times, we decided our theme will be perseverance. Like the people who have stood through the great war, and come out still standing, we too must go through this together. 

Right now, we are at a loss. Our hearts burdened. Our souls weary. It comes to a point in time where you don't want to wake up, and see another tragic headline, read another devastating statistic. But we will persevere. This difficult time serves as testament to just how strong the human spirit can be, how strong we, as a country must be, to pull together and get through this tragedy. 

As a nation, we will weep. 
For the victims, their families, the children. Our grief for the losses everyone has suffered goes beyond words.

As a nation, we will pray. 
We pray for Gaza. We pray for humanity. We pray for our lost brothers and sisters of MH370. We pray for MH17. We pray for many things but above all, we pray for a brighter tomorrow. 

As a nation, we will come out stronger in the end.  

Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. 
Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. 
Dr. Martin Luther King

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Wednesday 16 July 2014

Written by Ryan Yoong Ka Jun, Class of 2014, Form 5 Science 1

Traveling isn’t for everyone. For some, it’s an escape from the overly cluttered reality we long to seek refuge from but for others it’s a terrifying trip into the unknown and unfamiliar which can, admittedly, be frightening on occasions. I personally look at it as a mix of both, with a slight edge towards the former. Such was particularly true during my recent (well not so recent) trip to Aotearoa, or more commonly known to us all as New Zealand. If you personally know me, you’ll know that almost everything I do somehow has a twist to it; and this trip was no exception. 5525 miles away from home, I decided to embark on this trip alone - a solo mission to the near edge of the world just for the thrill of it. Out of his mind? I agree. However, having a dream and actually executing it are two entirely different things altogether. As you’d imagine, convincing my parents was nearly impossible (then again, we learn that nothing is impossible), and eventually, after much debate and discussion, I was 3000 feet in the air on a 10 hour flight to a country I had never been to before. Did I mention I was alone? 

Once you’re in the air, there’s no turning back. Did I want to turn back? Yes, several times actually. The thought of potentially having nowhere to stay, not enough money, difficulty in understanding the locals (yes, amidst the panic I seemed to have assumed that  the Kiwis only spoke Maori) among a billion other things actually frightened me quite a bit. But alas, there was nothing I could do but shrug it off and hope for the best. Besides, after what seemed like an eternity in the comfort (or lack thereof) of my seat, we finally landed at the Auckland International Airport. And so, it began. 

The daunting feeling, the pressure, the urge - to relieve myself. Much better. Now where was I? Oh yes, arriving at the highly anticipated land of sheep (which there were surprisingly few of). Checking out was easy; though being stared down by a Walter White lookalike was not highlight of my trip. What came next, was much more frustrating. Waves upon waves of people were queueing up to collect their baggage from the conveyor belts. Queueing - imagine how scary that was to a Malaysian like myself. The order of the rows, the synchronization of the personnel, the efficiency of the system as a whole. Some scary stuff. 

Now here’s the part where I write about how my trip was absolutely perfect with experiences such as bungee jumping from the Auckland Tower, walking the trails of the Hobbit set, reaching the peak of Cape Reigna or having a go at the SkyCity Casi.... no I shall not. Allow me to begin by saying, if you’re planning on doing this, it’s not for the faint-hearted. Amongst the transportation and accommodation fiascos I consider myself very lucky to still be in one piece. From motel to motel, with bus rides that last on hours ends, seeing New Zealand as a whole was going to be much harder than I had imagined. 

Alright, I lied. How can I not be inclined to write something good about an even better country? I guess if I had to sum up my experience in one word, it would have to be - unique. Not better than anything, but different on its own. When you take your first few steps on New Zealand soil, I guarantee you will be greeted with the freshest air anywhere around the world - the kind that rejuvenates you instantly (as evidenced above). A few more and you’ll realise how peaceful and calm the community is around you. A lack of bustling city life, despite being in the city, noisy cars and people hurrying left and right. Compared to Malaysia, it’s safe to say everything was on a constant slow-mo which was difficult to comprehend, let alone understand. Then you take a right, and you’ll notice how the shops and buildings are almost never more than two stories high making them look like cute piano keys in an array of different colours. Finally, you take a left and.... You’re lost!

As you can tell, navigating clearly isn’t one of my best traits (damn genetics). Being lost however, doesn’t always mean you’re off track. In my case, I ended up at a vintage-looking souvenir shop which was definitely enticing me in. Being a guy, and not knowing what to do, I settled to buy, a necklace which I wore the whole trip through.

Now that I had essentially completed what was meant to be the last part of my trip, I was set to enjoy the rest of it. First on the agenda of fun was to find a place to stay. In case it hasn’t become apparent to you yet, hear me out - you’ll never really appreciate home, until you can’t find one to stay in. For almost half of my arrival day, I spent most of my time running through the phonebook and directory only to find that every location that I had hopes for was either fully booked or had closed down. Great, first day on the streets it is! No, just kidding. After some frantic searching I managed to find a small motel which, luckily, had one more room. If the first day was an indication of how the rest of the week was going to be, I was definitely in for one interesting ride. As expected, the process repeated - 6 different times to be exact.

Finally, we come to the “real” fun stuff. You’ve probably either seen Lord of The Rings or the Hobbit at some point (if you haven’t, I suggest you crawl out of the hole this instant). Well, for those of you who are normal, you probably also remember the Hobbiton Village and the Party Tree. What you most likely don’t know is that it’s actually right in the middle of a sheep farm! Did you know that while the filming process was taking place, the sheep had to be moved daily to be hidden from the scenes. Some 4000 sheep were moved to and fro daily just for one day’s worth of film. And we complain maths is hard.

Further north from the humble town of Rotoroa was the massive tourist attraction of Cape Reigna, which was technically the north tip of New Zealand. There I was also greeted by a cousin of mine who was also traveling alone (yes, the whole family tree is full of daredevils). If you’ve ever wanted to see what the edge of the world looks like, this is the place to go - where the fog meets the horizon in perfect harmony and the colour of the sky somehow blends in with the colour of the sea beneath it, it was truly one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen.

Moving down south towards Auckland, I made a quick stop at the infamous sand dunes which seem like just a huge pile of sand. Well it is, but it’s certainly much more fun than you think. From sand surfing, to dune buggy riding, the activities on the dunes were plentiful. Once in a while, when the sand is moist enough, you’d even see people making gargantuan structures from the dunes themselves. I stuck to the humble cylinder, a feat I knew I could more realistically accomplish. 

Last on the adventurous trip around the North Island of New Zealand, was the bungee jumping from the Auckland Tower. “No! It’s not that tall!”, you’d hear the locals say. Then as you’d make your ascent to the tip you’d hear chatters and whispers of horrific accidents. Just great. Regardless, when you reach the peak, it’s a whole other feeling that takes over. I think the best way to describe it is when you cross anxiety, with fear, a touch of excitement and - woops! Before you know it, you’re flying down the tower at speeds that are not voluntarily possible. Screaming doesn’t really help much since your screams are usually answered with cheers from the ground as if wanting you to scream more. Then a tug and you instantly become a pendulum at the mercy of the rope. Now is the time to thank your lucky stars you’ve made it; and also decide how many more times you want to go for it.

A buffet and 10 hours later, I was back on Malaysian grounds with heat waves that last for eternities and food that simply blows others out of the water - it’s a bittersweet feeling. New Zealand is a treasure trove of activities for absolutely everyone. An amazing location for sights, sounds and fun. Whether you love the sea, the sand or even just sitting on a couch watching television, New Zealand has got it all. Perhaps the more important note I’m getting at here is that traveling alone may not be as scary as it seems, although I seem to have made it sound like hell above - I assure you it’s not. Go out and do it. It’s worth it!

by Anonymous 20:56 213 comments | in , , , ,
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