Sunday, December 30, 2007

Fondue fun...

Luck be it... I came down with a fever on Thursday the 28th - the last 4 days till the end of 2007. Well.. if it was meant to be... I'll take it head on and pray for a healthier year in 2008. The Tan family with Amelia in tow left for Montreal for the new year's weekend. It was a trio of a kind new year with Pete and Sharon. They took me out to a late lunch and early dinner at the Melting Pot for some fondue treats :)

Fondue fun

Saturday, December 29, 2007

End of Year Gathering

The Milizia & Tan family at home with friends Chee Ming, Wojtek & Mike over at the house on the last Friday of 2007. As you can see... we had a lot of people in our little townhouse. Yours truly was sick in bed... pictures taken courtesy of husband :)

End of Year Gathering
We're gonna miss our drinking mascot - Eugene!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Holiday greeting card
We wish you Merry Christmas and a happy holiday with your family and friends.
Here's to an exciting new year ahead!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Birthday Jerry!

Originally uploaded by
Many happy returns of the day and a happy birthday Jerry! Hope all is well on your side. Big hugs to mom and dad and Andrea from us! Miss you lots and can't wait to see you next year!

lotsa love,
Sher & Pete

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Viv & Ivan - Wedding #2

Originally uploaded by
Vivian CC Ooi

This evening of the 22nd on Malaysian time, Vivian and Ivan are hosting their Penang wedding reception - round two. Pete and I wish we could be there with you two among family and friends celebrating once again your blissful union. Fear not, we are there with you in spirit!!

I cannot wait to see pictures from this evening. Talk to you guys soon in 2008! Have a happy wedding celebration, Christmas and New Year!!

With love,
Sher & Pete

Happy Birthday Mum!

Many happy returns of the day
and a
Happy Birthday Mummy!!
lotsa love,
Sharon, Sherene & Pete

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Letter from Santa

It's one week 'till Christmas... have you written to Santa telling him what you want? I tried thinking hard of what I really, really need.... and I cannot think of one thing. That's because the most important thing or person that I want badly is here with me already... together forever. Aaaww.... mushy-ness alert! And yes, it's you I'm talking about Pete! :D

I guess I can still ask Santa for some toys.... say an iPod touch?! So I wrote to Santa... and this is his reply:

Letter to Santa

Monday, December 17, 2007

Happy Birthday Dad!


Many happy returns of they day
and a
Happy Birthday Dad!!
lotsa love,
Sharon, Sherene & Peter

December weekend snow

We were in Scarborough on Saturday for Dim Sum with our Canadian family (Jeff, Sylvia, Binthany, Jonathen & Anna). Chele, Amelia, Chin Khee and Jaclyn headed up further north to the Blue Mountain Ski Resort for their winter vacation after lunch. Pete and I made a short stop at Pacific Mall for some chinese movie dvds and to get my watch batteries changed. The uncle there charges me $5 canadian for each battery replacement! Beats what they charge me here in NY! :P

We reached home safely before the anticipated snow storm were to hit our area. Good timing too since there was about 3-4 inches accumulation before midnight. Sunday morning... freezing rain which turned to more snow and add a couple more inches of snow.. you get Sher & Pete staying indoors under their warm covers! Pete went out periodically to shovel... here are some pictures taken yesterday and this morning!

December snow
Snowed in...

Ready for snow clearing!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

27 Dresses

How many times have you been a bridesmaid?! Me? Two and a half! Being the half of a bridesmaid part.... talk to Vivian about it! :P Never been much of a Katherine Heigl fan... but I cannot wait to see her upcoming movie co-staring the ever prince charming James Marsden - 27 Dresses. Heigl's character Jane has been a bridesmaid for a whopping 27 times... thus her accumulation of bridesmaid dresses. In the spirit of my wedding planning madness... this is quite a treat!

**Don't forget to turn off the music on the blog first!

Synopsis - Jane is idealistic, romantic and completely selfless - a perennial bridesmaid whose own happy ending is nowhere in sight. But when younger sister Tess captures the heart of Jane’s boss — with whom she is secretly in love - Jane begins to reexamine her “always-a-bridesmaid....” lifestyle.

Out in theatres: January 11th, 2008
Starring: Katherine Heigl, James Marsden, Edward Burns, Malin Akerman


Snow is here to stay... here are some pictures taken as I left the office to get home yesterday.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Animal tracks?!

As I was heading out the door this morning for work... I saw animal tracks on the lightly snow covered ground. Deer prints? Doesn't look like it. And where would they have come from? The little forest-y area down the road some 2-3 miles away? What attracted them to my humble abode? Could the old pumpkins we got from Halloween be the culprit in luring Bambi and family to our townhouse community? Or was it the multi-colored Christmas lights I left turned on overnight? Dog prints?? It could be canine. I don't know... it's a winter mystery!

Footprints Tracks from the front of our house....

Animal tracks from our main entrance.

Monday, December 10, 2007

hugs & kisses post from Viv

What a beautiful and true to the heart posting from Vivian! I so agree with you on the best friends in high school bit! Friends either get it right from the start or not. The ones that get it right... get OCD (obsessive compulsive) and crazy, wedding plans making together!! :P Even if you were not requesting Hershey kisses for favors in the Penang wedding.... you deserve a billion of them hugs and kisses from me!

Read Viv's post below....

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Shere xoxo
Originally uploaded by
Vivian CC Ooi

Monday, December 10, 2007
Hugs & kisses from a dear friend

Check this out! My Christmas-themed favours-cum-decor, all the way fr the States! I cannot wait to get my hands on them next week and start packing. I love doing these things, it reminds me of the good ol' high school days when we DIY-ed everything and sold them to raise money. I'm going to have my girls with me this time around, too (the 'Georgian guides/rangers').

Actually, it's really true what they say, you find your best friends in high school. You may lose touch with some, drift apart from others, but you will get closer to those you were already close with and form a stronger bond with those who weren't that super-close in the first place. But in any case, you know you can rely on your high school girlfriends in a way that you can't with anyone else. These girls are kindred spirits and friends for life, friends you know will be there for the rest of your life :)

I'm all sentimental not just because of a couple of bags of chocolates from Sherene (though I'm super thankful!), but it's just that weddings make you see a lot of things, some of which aren't even things you want to see. There will be heartache, disappointment, hurt and even anger, but at the end of the day, there's no better time or place for you to re-evaluate your friendships a little and really see whom your true friends are- those who'd do everything and anything to help in any way they can, wherever they may be.

Weddings also make you appreciate your family more for all things they do (even though you know they don't really have a choice :P). It's the little little things, like how your fashion-ignorant dad gets multiple shirts in assorted colours to get THAT perfect combo and your mum who's not normally very fashion-conscious obsessing about getting the perfect pair of shoes to match her dress etc. It's just really heart-warming and brings a smile to your face just thinking about it... :)

Lori's night...

The girls and a few gentlemen helped celebrate Lori's birthday last night. We took the birthday girl out for an italian dinner at La Scala Ristorante. After dinner, we headed home for cake and presents!!

Lori's birthday
Hope you had a great birthday Lori!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Happy Birthday Lori!

Many happy returns of the day
and a
Happy Birthday Lori!!
We're gonna be celebrating tonight!!
lotsa love,
Pete & Sher

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Cup-a-Cakes Wonders!

Christmas 2007 could not have been any brighter in Penang, thanks to the generous sweet treats which my dearest baker extraordinaire friend, Ween has made for children at the Bukit Tengah Home. This generosity is made possible from 30% of cup-a-cakes(TM) sales in the month of December from orders placed or will be placed from loyal customers such as you and me (I played my part, one way or another :P).

Holiday sweet treats from cup-a-cakes(TM)!!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Speaking of cupcakes.... I recently surfed by a website which claimed that cupcakes are now available in Penang. Has it not been made available? Why then, let me share with you the amazing wonders of cup-a-cakes(TM) creations from WeenNee. Since you haven't been on-board with us lot here who are just mesmerized with Ween's creations, you simply must place an order yourself and do the needful (30% of all December sales goes to charity)!!

Adding to that, this particular website also claimed that Christmas designed cupcakes were its newest creation. If so, what were the not so new creation(s)?? A little perplexed here... where's the comparison?! Why call something new when there isn't a something old or less than new to contrast the claim? Did I forget to mention that I simply adore the candycanes and snowmen on cup-a-cakes(TM) Christmas cupcakes?

How did I come to learn of this website? The cupcake website link was erroneously posted on my blog's tagboard. After a little sleuthing around, it appears that the website owner was trying to promote her new business on my blog after checking out her competition cup-a-cakes(TM). Her first attempt in trying to post her link was unsuccessful, she inserted the competitor's website instead. Genius!! She did manage to post the correct website link of hers later on to which I had just gladly removed.

My bone to pick with this particular website owner... no way are you "advertising" in any means on my blog. That is not what this blog is for! Healthy competition or not... I simply do not allow unknown person(s) to utilize my blog is such a sneaky manner. If your creations are so wonderful, people will take notice or even try to help you spread the word. On a final note, there's no cupcake business like cup-a-cakes(TM)!!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Matrimonio all’italiana (Italian Wedding)

Pete and I are having a Sunday wedding... this was largely driven by the fact that the place we wanted to have the ceremony and reception was fully booked on Saturdays for the 2008 summer/fall wedding season. So was many other places - but we were glad we at least have the place we wanted the very same weekend. As I was browsing for wedding ideas... this article came up. Lucky me us that Pete's Italian!

In Italy, Sunday marriages are considered to be the luckiest. Another superstition concerning Italian weddings is that the bride should not wear any gold on the day she is married, until wedding rings are exchanged.

According to the traditional Italian wedding custom, the bride will carry a satin bag (la borsa), in which guests place money to defer the expenses of customarily lavish weddings in Italy. Sometimes during the festivities the bag is guarded by the bride’s grandmother, or the bride might wear it and allow the male guests to put money in exchange for a dance with her.

An Italian wedding is a festival for all the invited guests. The wedding day begins with a Mass in the morning. The couple leaves the church and rides back to their families’ neighborhoods, then, the newlyweds spend some time together, while the guests are preparing the reception site for the festivities.

Before the banquet begins, sweet liquors are served to women, and strong drinks are served to men. The menu at an Italian wedding is nearly as important as the wedding itself. Guests may be served as many as 14 different courses with wine and other beverages. After dinner the customary multi-layered Italian wedding cake is served with espresso.

A cookie dance is started, where the bride and groom lead the guests dancing around the reception area, and then over the cake, where each person takes a piece. The non-dancers then can welcome themselves too. A traditional wedding circle dance, called the Tarantella, will be joined by all. Before the reception is over, the bride and groom usually break a glass. The number of pieces of shattered glass symbolize the number of years the couple will share.

At some weddings in Italy, a pair of white doves is released into the air, symbolizing the couple’s love and happiness. In Veneto, it is customary for the couple getting married to walk to the wedding chapel together. The townsfolk place obstacles in the bride’s path to see what kind of a housewife she will be. If she picked up a broom, for example, she would keep a clean house. If a child is in her way and she stopped to talk with him, she would be a good mother. Also, the bride and groom must cut a log in half with a double handled saw, before they reach the wedding site. This demonstrates the solidity of their relations.

Another popular wedding tradition is a ribbon, tied in front of the wedding chapel, symbolizing the bond between the couple being married. The actual wedding ceremony (sposalizio) is officiated by a priest or a civil authority. Old church traditions warn against marrying during Lent and Advent, and also in May and August. The celebration begins with a mass in the morning; dancing and feasting that follows may continue till early morning.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Happy Birthday "mama" Mindi

Many happy returns of the day
and a
Happy Birthday
to Alyssa's loving mommy dearest, Mindi
lotsa love...
Sherene & Peter

Monday, December 03, 2007

Vivian & Ivan's Wedding - Studio Pictures

Vivian & Ivan
Viv & Ivan.... you two look amazing!! Love the pictures! Thanks for sharing!
Are you running a workshop for Posing for Wedding Pictures 101 anytime soon?!
Pete and I sure need all the help we can get before it's our turn! :P

One wedding (07/07/07) down and one more (12/22/07) to go for you two...
Good luck with the final wedding plans for the Penang wedding!

iFlops - Xmas prezzies!

Santa came early this year for Vivian & Ivan!!

Mr. Penguin & Miss Froggie iFlops wishes an early Merry Christmas to Vivian & Ivan.
Don't fight over Mr. Penguin... Miss Froggie feels left out!!
'Tis the season to be be sharing! :P

Happy Birthday Mel


Happy Birthday to you...
Happy Birthday to you...
Happy Birthday dear Melissa
Happy Birthday to you!!
Miss you lots...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sinatra's Cadillac

Pete and I were out early this afternoon to do some shopping. As we were trying to locate a parking spot, this car pulled in front of us - a Cadillac DeVille. And it was not just any other Cadillac... it was Sinatra's!!! The Chairman of the Board! :P

Sinatra's Cadillac Deville
Heya Ol' Blue Eyes... doing some Christmas shopping too?!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

1st snowfall

Peter felt he wanted a Wegmans (giant) muffin - early Saturday morning. It was 8.35a.m!! Craving or not... my dearest husband woke me up a little to let me know he was going to head out to Wegmans to grab a couple of fresh muffins for breakfast. As for me... I whined a little... okay a lot more than little :P so that he would come back to bed and snuggle under the covers for two more minutes. I got want a wanted and this two minutes stretched to about 15 minutes or so. Then, I got up and got ready to head out with Peter to Wegmans.

1st snowfall for winter 2007-08
We opened the front door and it was all white.....

there was about 3 inches of snow. The date was December 1st and it was our first official snowfall of the season! A clean slate of snow covered the ground, my pumpkins (they are still very much well in tact!), car, the parking lots, etc. You know what that means... head out to make shoes prints, snow angels, snow-art, the lot!!

Snow 101 - if the snow does not stay on the ground and accumulate - it does not really count as snowfall. Well... to me at least!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My friend, the cup-a-cake Queen!

If you have not already seen Ween's amazing cupcake creations.... you are missing out! My dear friend Ween Nee from high school has turned out to be one heck of a baker. A loving wife, restauranteur, baker and cupcake turned entrepreneur - she can do it all!! Adding to the list, she is also a part-time event coordinator helping out dear friends with their wedding!

To help Ween out with her passion for baking and cupcake business - Pete and I sent out a package and a half of holiday baking tools. The darling cupcake queen did two postings of thanks to us for the little gift.

You are so welcome WEEN!!
All we can do to help out our baker extraordinaire friend!

Here are some of her cupcake designs for the holiday season.
To see more of Ween's wonderful creations... check out her blog at cup-a-cakes.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Alex's Engagement

My dearest friend, Alex a.k.a. my Texas cowboy proposed to his girlfriend Ashley on Thanksgiving day. I last spoke to Alex less than 2 weeks ago as he was driving home after picking up the E-ring for Ashley. He had it all planned out... a Thanksgiving family getaway to the Biltmore Estates in North Carolina where he will propose to Ashley. Here are the pictures which I just received from him. Pete and I are so happy for him and Ashley! We can't wait to meet the future Mrs. Beasley!!

Alex & Ashley's Engagement

Congratulations Alex & Ashley on your engagement!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

Thanksgiving this year like always... was packed with family and friends at the Milizia household. Every Thanksgiving, we celebrated birthdays (Pete's and cousins, Ryan & Kyle). This year, Matt and Alicia are home - adding to the birthday celebration, Matt's birthday which fell on Thanksgiving this year. The total of people this year was 23 - we have reached a high number of 27 at one point :P This year's pictures from my camera was captured by Amelia... not that I was lazy... but was busy cooking, setting up tables, etc. Thanks a bunch Amelia!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving wish....

Gobble gobble...
Have a turkey-fic Thanksgiving time feasting with your friends, family and your sweetheart.
Happy Thanksgiving!!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Fashion alert...

Supposedly, Chele and I were shopping for Pete and Mathew's birthday gifts... we ended up shopping for ourselves. After a day at the mall and pre-thanksgiving/black Friday sales... this is what we have to show for... (Pete's included because he is so darn handsome and stylish :P)


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Viv!


Sing a song of Birthdays
full of fun and cheer,
and may you keep on having them,
for many a happy year.
Happy Birthday Viv!!
Lotsa love
sher & pete

Happy Birthday Barbara Panzica

Happy Birthday Auntie Barb!!
Many happy returns of the day!
lotsa love...
sher & pete

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Emails GONE! :(

I lost all my emails ( account) in my Outlook Express Inbox!! Somehow, after a really short blackout, more of a resetting in the power supply of our townhouse... my PC rebooted itself and lost all old emails! The most recent emails I have left in the inbox is dated January 22, 2006. AaacckkK!!! Some of you must be like... "Sher, did you backup?!" To which I would reply.... "Eerr... NO!" GUILTY!!

I had in the past moved emails which I have read to their respective categorized folders... the organizer I am. But lately, or to be precise... as of January 22nd, 2006 I had been really bad in moving my read emails to their respective folders. Serves me right, right?! I know for a fact that the chances of me revisiting old emails are slim.... however, there are days when I just want to go back and refer to (eg: papers, articles, picture attachments, etc.) them. There must have been a reason I saved them instead of instantly deleting upon reading!

*sigh.... okay Outlook Express, let's start a new.... starting from today. After reading each incoming email, I pledge to move selected emails to their respective folders and to delete and expunge all other not-for-keeps emails.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Disney's Enchanted

The holidays are not far from sight... and one of the best parts about them are holiday entertainments. I am speaking of holiday movies. Disney has a new installment for us... Enchanted. The girls and I are anxiously awaiting the date the movie premiers (opens on Thanksgiving eve).... don't know if that is a something I should be publicly admitting to, but it's a DISNEY film. You cannot say no to Disney! Holiday season, a princess, a prince and his sidekick squirrel in a bustling New York City and add McDreamy (for Chele) to the equation = you get DISNEY MAGIC!

Check out the trailer...
*Don't forget to turn off the music on the blog first! :D

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Happy Birthday Cat!


Many happy returns of the day and a
Happy Birthday Catherine!!
We miss you lots!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

tRick or tReat!!

Knock Knock
Who's there?
Wanda who?
Wanda go for a ride on my broomstick?

Monday, October 29, 2007

IA Family


The IA Family: (L-R) Ming, Young Sang, Nafisa, Isabella, Sherene & Ji at the Malaysian Student Assocation's Raya & Deepavali Celebration

IMG_0862 IMG_0863
Here's pictures of everyone enjoying yummy Malaysian cuisine.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A green story...

Now that we have set our dates and venues for both weddings, one of the most frequent question I get from family and friends is on the color(s) of the event. Luckily for Pete and myself, we have always known it would be some hue/shade of green with accents of ivory and white. Reasons being...
  • we both have bedsheets that are of some pastel shade of green.
  • we found the perfect wedding favors (they are green!) that "symbolizes" our relationship.
  • we the simplicity and elegance of the cymbidium orchids (green, sage cymbidiums).
  • we enjoy lime! (key lime, mandarin lime, kaffir lime, Persian lime, etc.) And they are a shade of green.
  • Sher margaritas and they are made with = lime, which is = green.
  • Peter loves granny smith apples = green.
  • Kermit is Green, and it's not easy being green.

I think you get the idea... :D
Here's a look at our color pallette and ideas for our wedding!

Color pallette

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The musical Janet Lee

I came to know of Janet Lee through Ke Wynn's (our Penang wedding photographer) recent wedding shoot. The lovely couple had procured the talented Ms. Lee to perform at their wedding reception. I visited her website(s) and blogs and was mesmerized by her voice and accomplishments to date. Most of all, many of the songs in her repertoire consists of classics and jazz standards which are on our wedding song list.

Speaking of a song list, we never really had a wedding song list... what started off as a list of favorite american jazz standards which we enjoyed dancing to (YES, Pete does indulge me in a dance or two every now and then! I love him for it!) from my favorite crooners such as Steve Tyrell, Jane Monheit, Stacey Kent, Michael Bublé, etc., brought about this wedding song list which I have compiled and presented to my dear friends who have tied the knot.

Needless to say, I was impressed to have found a local singer who have these songs in her repertoire and especially one who can belt out the classics in the way they were meant to be adding her own personal touch to it. Maybe Ms. Lee will be singing at our Penang wedding? Maybe?!

For more information about Janet Lee, visit her website at and you can also listen to Janet's Demo tracks on her MYSPACE site at or here on my blog of her rendition of Misty.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Whizarts wonders!

One of the most vital part in our wedding planning is locating a wedding photographer that would not only capture moments of our special day (in our case, days) but to also be able to capture it in a candid, journalistic and artistic way that reflects our personality and vision of simplicity, chic and elegance. This was no easy task!! Seeing that we have two weddings... we had double duty in search for wedding photographers.

I was home this past summer and was fortunate enough to communicate and meet with two photographers that Pete and I had narrowed down from our internet research. Thanks to the internet, early planning stages and browsing of options were possible especially if one were to plan a wedding from a far. And even then, it was no walk in the park! My dear friend from high school Ween Nee accompanied me to meet with my photographer. Yes, I did go with with them - Whizarts Wedding Photography. I was very delighted to have met Ke Wynn (principal photographer) & Alishia (senior photographer).

Upon inspecting their portfolio, I knew that they were the ones to capture our wedding day. One of the pet peeves Peter and I had on wedding photography is that the photographer should have a good balance in capturing small details of the wedding as well as everything else to it. In our search of photographers around US and Malaysia, we have seen many photographers who steer either too much into tiny details in pursuit of being "artistic" to those on the other end of the spectrum who simply took pictures as one would with a point and shoot camera - no photojournalistic vision what so ever. In addition to that, Pete and I wanted a local photographer who would be able to share his vision in incorporating sights and backgrounds of my lovely island city home of Penang.

We are both really excited to be working with Ke Wynn next December 2008. It may be more than a year away... but eager nonetheless to have him with us on our special day among family and friends. If you are interested to see more of his work... visit his blog HERE!

Penang wedding photographer... CHECK! That means the search is still on for a photographer for our NY wedding in September 2008. And what a whirlwind of a seach that has been... details to come in a future post.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Help me get my Jimmy Choos (shoes)!

I am absolutely, totally, crazy in love with this pair of Jimmy Choos!!! I have been searching high and low for this pair. Wouldn't it be so perfect with my bridal dress? Don't I sound like a bride now?!! Well, I can always keep the design in sight and look out for something similar or have it custom made. Or... I can be a little desperado and try hunting down Mr. Choo to have him make another pair for me?! He is after all a Penangite and a Penangite would not let leave a sister in despair right?! Wishful thinking!!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Happy Birthday Mario!


Happy Birthday Dad!!
We love you lots...
Sher & Pete

Happy Birthday Suveea!

Many happy returns of the day and a
Happy Birthday Suveea!~!
Hope you like your surprise at work!
Miss you lots,
Sher & Pete

Thursday, October 18, 2007

With love from Vivian - Part deux

To Catherine with love... from Vivian

Catherine also had a collage compiled and made with love from Vivian. And Viv is right... she does have a Cameron Diaz smile :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

With love from Vivian...

With love...  from Vivian

Vivian made this mosaic for me (with love of course) and made a posting on her blog. And according to her... I have been given the title of Flickr Ambassador 2007. Hurrah!! Errmm.... wait. Question... do I get paid for this? :P

Duh?! I told you so!!

Now... we all knew there were darn good reasons things should be done meritocratically and not through racial preferencing. We all knew down the road that there would be repercussions.... as the Chronicle pointed out...

"Each year the country's leading institutions slide farther down on international surveys that rate academic quality — or they don't show up at all."

Well..... DUH!?! " I TOLD YOU SO!!"

So much for wanting to compete with Singapore and the rest of the world in becoming some center of academic excellence when all your bright, university deserving students are fleeing the country!

Malaysia Announces New Higher-Education Strategy

The Chronicle of Higher Education
From the issue dated October 19, 2007

Malaysia Announces New Higher-Education Strategy

The government of Malaysia, whose universities are battling a reputation for mediocrity, recently announced plans to revitalize its lagging university system and turn the country into a center of higher education in Southeast Asia. But critics of the proposals say that until universities operate on a system of merit that is free from political interference, the plans will be empty words.

Excellence in higher education has been elusive for Malaysia. Each year the country's leading institutions slide farther down on international surveys that rate academic quality — or they don't show up at all. Their mediocre reputation has called into question the government's goal of attracting 100,000 international students by 2010.

At an August meeting of government ministers and higher-education officials, Malaysia's prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, said that some 20 public universities would be granted autonomy from the central government, though not in all areas. They will be encouraged to raise their own money and will be given more power over how to spend it. Some universities will also be given more indepedence in hiring faculty members.

But the prime minister stopped short of allowing public universities complete freedom to enroll only the best students or recruit top faculty without regard to race, stating that the universities will still have to reflect the racial makeup of the country.

Although they are the majority, ethnic Malays benefit from an affirmative-action program that was created in 1971 when they were the poorest and least-educated ethnic group. Today, Malays are still given preference when it comes to government jobs, and they pay lower interest rates and housing prices than do other ethnic groups.

Ethnic Malays also take an easier university entrance examination than non-Malays. Unable to gain admission into the country's better programs, and often denied government scholarships, thousands of ethnic Chinese and Indian students leave the country each year and do not return.

The race-based system also applies to government teaching jobs, making it difficult for non-Malays to get hired. Faculty members complain that promotion is not based on research or publishing, but on pledging loyalty to the government-appointed administration.

Lim Kit Siang, a prominent member of the opposition Democratic Action Party, criticized the plans for failing to end a system that favors one race over the others.

Azmi Sharom, an associate professor of law at the University of Malaya, who has been critical of the government's interference in higher education, said he applauded the plan to give public universities more autonomy, particularly if vice chancellors are selected for their academic qualifications and not their political allegiances.

"When you have decisions that are made for political reasons, then it's not sound academic practice," said Mr. Sharom. "If you are going to be the best, you can't be having any of this hanky-panky."

The government has vowed to overhaul higher education before. But most of the measures have been cosmetic, designed more to raise the country's rankings in international surveys than to actually improve the quality of education.

The economist Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, was given an endowed chair at Malaya partly to elevate the profile of the languishing university. The move has caused grumbling among local scholars who wonder how Mr. Sachs, who holds multiple positions at Columbia and has rarely set foot in Malaysia since his appointment in 2006, can make a contribution.

"Anyone can see it's all show," said Mr. Sharom. "They are so obsessed with the rankings, they are doing things just to boost them. Jeffrey Sachs is a symptom of that."

Section: International
Volume 54, Issue 8, Page A33

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bridesmaids dresses... check!

The bridesmaids dresses have been finalized!! Big thanks to all the girls for their input and approval :) Special thanks to Claire for running to the store and inquiring, comparing and trying the dress on this past Friday evening.

If you think it is fun hunting for dresses, I'd say its more tiring and hair-raising at times. Finding the style was not a hard task..... it was trying to locate the dress in the style you want with the correct fabric material you have opted for and deciding over the different color hues different designers have to offer - that was making things difficult!! However, I'd have to admit that was one heck of an experience and I am glad that is over and done with.

The dress I chose was one of the very first collections which I looked at. So after much searching, it all came back to what first caught my eye. If only I knew to just go with my first hunch..... save some crazy trips to bridal shows, bridal stores and even a bridal salon in Canada! Everyone says you just have to look around just in case you find something better - and it's all part of the process in the making of a bride.

All the girls ordered their dresses before the weekend ended and what a relief that was for me!! And now, what are we going to do with shoes?! The (new) search hunt continues!!

** The comic above was so cute, I couldn't resist adding on with the posting.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lazy Lobster weekend!

Just uploaded these photos from last weekend which Pete and I deemed as "lazy lobster". It was a couple of hours where we had time to ourselves and what did we do? Played with a member of our meal - Mr. Maine New-Shell Lobster! Wegmans had a weekend lobster special for $7.99/lbs. Coming from a seafood lover.... how can I miss that?!

Lazy lobster weekend

**Notice how Mr. Lobster tried escaping from the refrigerator!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Recovering Sharon!


Sharon is doing well after her right foot surgery. She is getting somewhat used to the crutches :P She's a cheerful recovering patient!