Long, long queue to get in. Tables are small and it’s quite difficult to sit a large crowd. Notwithstanding that, their ramen and hirata bun (char siu with bun) are awesome. Met Sow here for dinner.
I’m glad that I embarked on a practice involving data protection. It brought me clients that would not normally appoint small firms and it brought me places like Singapore and Sabah to give talks. On 8 March 2014, I made a trip to Kuching to give a talk to the Sarawak lawyers, organised by the Advocates’ Association of Sarawak.
I almost missed my flight to Kuching cause they closed the check in counter 45 minutes before departure. Fortunately, I had no check in bags hence they allowed me in. Phew. Since I was the last person, I was given the last row at the plane. You can’t recline your seat if you’re in the last row! Fortunately, I was the only one there.
It flight lasted about 1 hour 45 minutes.
Kuching is a beautiful and serene city. There were many rows of pretty pre-war shophouses.
The hospitality of the Sarawakian lawyers were great. Upon touchdown, Vice President of AAS, Leonard gave me a driven tour around Kuching city. We even passed by the old Court house and the unique looking State Assembly building.
After that we had dinner and drinks at Junk Restaurant. AAS treasurer Liew joined us after that. I had a few pints of stouts before ending the night at 11pm.
I am told that there were about 400 lawyers in Kuching (there are about 1200 over lawyers in Sarawak). Most of them are general practitioners unlike us in KL where we could specialize in certain areas. The oldest law firms are not really that old unlike the ones we have in Kuala Lumpur. The oldest I know is from the 1950s. I do not know whether there are still any old European law firms.
Membership in the AAS is not compulsory. The Sarawak Court manages the admission of lawyers and the Disciplinary Board supervises the lawyers. Leonard chairs the Kuching branch of AAS. I am told that they had to use their own resources to run the association because they don’t have their own secretariat.
AAS booked me a room at Pullman Hotel.
View of the foyer.
I got an upgrade to family room. It was too big for me! They gave me a King size bed with a single bed.
Before entering my room, I heard the sound of a TV show. I knocked on the door and I thought I was at the wrong room. I re-checked the number and it was the correct room.
I slotted my room card onto the door and opened the room. I was all dark except for the TV. I inserted the room card and the lights were then turned on. TV was showing WWE wrestling. I slept with the lights on the whole night!
Picture taken immediately upon entering the room – can anyone see anything floating around?
View from the hotel room.
The seminar was attended by around 60 people. It was okay. I got another invitation from the Miri lawyers association to speak as well. I even met lawyers from Sibu and Limbang.
After the talk, we had lunch at Tandoori Palace. It is owned by the Secretary of the AAS, Mr. Sarbjit. Food was awesome but shouldn’t have a glass of beer before my meal. I felt quite dehydrated!
The trip back was uneventful. I parked my car at KLIA (costs me RM61 only). Brought back a Sarawak layer cake – it was tasty.
On the next day, the news of missing aircraft MH370 came about. How sad. I could have crossed paths with some passengers. In fact, I later found out that one of the passengers, Stanley, was my former client’s staff. I remember him being a pleasant man.
CNY 2014 went well. We were in the Klang Valley most of the time except for one day where we had to travel to Mentakab to meet some of my wife’s relatives. I spent most of my time eating or playing with Finley, my cousin in law’s son.
Finley’s urinal. So cute!
The only thing that marred our CNY celebration was when my sister in law’s bag got snatched at Damansara Uptown while we were having lunch. She had unfortunately left it behind her seat. A young man in helmet grabbed her bag and ran toward a motorcycle driven by an accomplice. By the time I got out from the restaurant, they were already far away. She was supposed to go to Medan for holiday in the evening but her passport was in her bag! She also lost a quite a lot of money, a Samsung Note 3 and an expensive hand bag. We spent our afternoon in the police station (which was just a street away from the restaurant!). The bastards got away.
Our reunion dinner was at one of the Chinese restaurants at Seri Petaling. It was just my dad, my wife and myself. Mum decided to boycott the place cause she didn’t want to eat there. wtf. Fortunately, she didn’t kick a fuss when we had dinner at Chili Padi on the second day of CNY.
On this rare occasion, Aussie boys Umeng, sLoonG and Jin Han were back this Chinese New Year. It’s been a while since the three of them were in the same country at the same time.
Umeng on his first night in KL.
At WK’s house.
We spent quite a bit of time “playing cards” and attending open houses. My luck was almost the same last year. I won most of my Blackjack games against the banker. However, I lost all my dosh when I became the banker!
Speaking about open house, we had one at our home on the 4th day of Chinese New Year. We bought curry puffs, Nyonya cakes and mee siam for everyone. It lasted from 1pm to 1:30AM. I was so exhausted by then. Different groups of people come at different times!
I am glad that I made it to En Peng’s Pai Tin Kong session at his house on the 8th day of Chinese New Year. I’ve been attending it since high school and I thought I shouldn’t miss it at all. Attendance this year was sightly better with WK, Kiang, Mandy, Ping, Yoke Chin and myself. We folded some offerings while waiting for En Peng to serve the roasted pork. [Edit: Unfortunately, this is my last picture of En Peng's father. He passed away on 28 February 2014 after a heart attack. May his soul rest in peace]
Kiang got told off by En Peng’s dad for wearing a cap while praying. Caught En Peng’s dad in action Haha.
It’s our turn to organise CNY dinner with my sisters and their family. We had steamboat again.
Group picture taken with my camera phone. I broke my dSLR after I fell off the tripod! ARGH
It was a rather happening Chinese New Year. The year of the Horse will certainly bring joy, luck and happiness. HUAT AH!!
2013 had been a good year. My practice was doing well. My book got published. I don’t remember any bad thing that happened that is worth a mention here.
I had more work than last year. I don’t have many litigation cases but I managed to defend a patent infringement case in the High Court and successfully defended it in the Court of Appeal.
I also managed to get some large corporations as my clients. I think my ability is win work is not due to my media features but based on my reliability and likability. I always return calls, emails and messages within 24 hours. I am contactable 24/7. I am easy with my clients and not calculative. I will do what I promised. I think these are the keys of winning clients. Media features and articles are just a method to increase leads and educate potential clients and clients of my skills.
This year also marks the departure of my partner, Dymphna, to greener pastures. My previous intern, Chia Ann, rejoined me as an intern after her return from UK for her studies.
This year also marks the first time I went on a reading rampage. I’ve never enjoyed reading books until last year. I always thought I don’t need to read any books since I read case laws and contracts everyday. However, this year I read more than 20 books.
Karpal Singh’s book made the biggest impact on me. It made me rethink of the death sentence. His description of a mother dressed in black outside the prison waiting for her son to be executed was a sad thought.
Former High Court’s Judge, Ian Chin’s autobiography, “Justice Encounters”, was a good read too. This book comes with a CD of few hundred judgements written by him. The late PG Lim’s autobiography, “Kaleidoscope“, was also a good read. I love how she described her life was in the 1920s and 1930s.
I also bought some old antique books. I have a copy of a 1942 copy of Frank Swettenham’s Footprints in Malaya. His description of old Malaya is intriguing. He met Yap Ah Loy (third Kapitan of Kuala Lumpur) for a meal and he knows the guy who discovered Cameron Highlands!
The Last Eunuch of China – Life of Sun Yaoting has great insight of the Forbidden City during the Ching Dynasty. Sun’s story begun with him castrated by his own father. He was there was the last Emperor was kicked out from the Forbidden City. Of course, I read the Puyi’s, the Last Emperor of China, autobiography as well.
Visited Beijing, China. It’s my first time in motherland. Finally got to touch and climb the Great Wall of China.
We stopped by Hong Kong for a day to shop and eat. I took the opportunity to meet some business associates.
We took a ferry from Macau to Hong Kong. We had to bring our passport to get into Hong Kong. Although the trip to Macau is only an hour, I was seasick. I find it rather strange as I once survived a 8 hour grueling boat ride to Tioman (and terribly seasick too).
I am told that one should look at the horizon if one is seasick. However, all the windows were covered! However, I slept throughout our journey from Hong Kong back to Macau. I didn’t feel a thing.
We had dim sum for lunch at Lin Heung Tea House. I’ve never eaten dim sum in Hong Kong. My first time was interesting.
In Lin Heung, you must first fight for your seat. Then you must fight for the waiter’s attention to clean the mess left by the previous customer and for him to serve you drinks.
Once you win those battles, you have to enter the war against the other customers for your dimsum. The dim sum cart doesn’t come to you but you need to hunt them down to grab your dish. Some of the dim sum cart ladies were pushing the cart while I was choosing my dish. I felt like a refugee hunting down a lorry with food.
But I must say that food was good.
Awesome Ma Lai Kou
After lunch, I met two Hong Kong Intellectual Property lawyers to catch up with them. One is a partner of an international law firm whereas one just joined a newly established law firm as a partner. The former’s office is located at Central with numerous floors. Their reception has a few receptionists. It reminded me of another law firm in the UK. No doubt it was grand. We had a quick chat at a cafe below his office.
The latter’s office does not have a reception. I walked straight into their meeting room. In fact, the latter’s office is a paperless and open space office. They do not have receptionists or secretaries. But they do have junior lawyers and paralegals. Work from the western countries still flows into Hong Kong and this include subject matters arising in or relating to China notwithstanding that Hong Kong lawyers cannot practice in China unless they are PRC qualified. However, not all foreign law firms in China are profitable. I am told that many such firms are running at a loss.
Hong Kong Law Society abolished scale fees many years back and I am told that it affected conveyancing lawyers quite badly. Scale fee for trade mark registrations will soon be abolished too.
I’ve told many young lawyer, especially during my seminars with them, that they should move away from conveyancing as their main focus. Eventually one day the Bar Council will abolish scale fees and probably liberalise the conveyancing practice to non-lawyers. Lawyers with no other skills other than conveyancing will have a hard time surviving.
It rained the whole evening in Hong Kong. We got conned into buying a lousy HKD20 umbrella.
We had dinner at a highly recommended place called Tai Ping Koon. It was packed with people. We ordered fried beef noodles, roasted chicken and Portuguese chicken. The bill came up to 500+ HKD. LEI LOU MOU.
The chicken must have been fed with diamond and water from an extinct mountain and cooked with a gold work.
Cute baby seeking attention
I guess Hong Kong isn’t one of my favourite places on Earth. I have a conference here next year. No more Tai Ping Koon for me!
No trip to Macau is complete without visiting the ruins. I wasn’t keen with this place as I thought its a tourist trap. Indeed it is a tourist trap but there are many interesting things to see.
St Paul’s Ruins was filled to the brink. Many people were posing in front of the ruins to take pictures.
Took this photo with my Samsung Note 3. Click on the image for larger view.
We do not know why there was a group of photographers congregating here.
Back facade of the famous St Paul’s ruins.
There is a small crypt and museum behind the well preserved façade.
We hiked up to Monte Forte to check out the panoramic view of mainland Macao. Most of the views are uninterrupted thus it was a treat for photographers.
Another interesting picture I took using my Samsung Note 3. Click on image for larger view. I was blown away with how much details this camera phone can capture.
There is also a small museum in the fort. We paid a small fee to get in to learn a little about Macau.
Cricket fighting was very popular in Macau but it died down eventually. I guess all the crickets died due to mass development. Cricket fighting was so popular that enthusiasts had coffins and tombs for their beloved crickets.
This view reminds of the smelly peep shows of Amsterdam. Euw.
Street food is abundant in Macau.
Here we tried a fruit cocktail with orange juice.
Check out the menu.
“Gold coin egg biscuit” at Pun Ving Kei run by some old people. Although it looks like a simple pastry, there was a huge crowd in front of the store. Probably one of the best business one can hope for – simple recipe, low operation cost and unlimited supply of customers.
In June 2013, The Malaysian Bar and Sabah Law Association jointly organised a seminar in Kota Kinabalu and I was invited as a speaker to speak on data protection laws. We had about 50 people.
Sabah Law Association had kindly booked a room for me at Horizon Hotel. It costs RM300 a night. My room was nice and spacious.
View from the hotel
I discovered that it is extremely difficult to grab a taxi in Kota Kinabalu suburbs. Suaran (another lawyer and invited speaker) and I took taxi to Damai to eat at the legendary Fook Yuen at Damai. Our 5 minutes cab ride costs us RM20! Although the ted madras and roti kahwin were worth it, we were stranded in Damai after our delicious meal at Fook Yuen. We couldn’t get a taxi for half an hour.
Fortunately, we managed to flag down one Mr Usman to fetch us back to the hotel at a very reasonable rate.
Suaran and I also wandered around the city and went on an eating rampage. Although I’ve been to Kota Kinabalu many times, I’ve never had the opportunity to see the Filipino market and its surroundings.
I was in Kota Kinabalu for a short time but I managed to squeeze an hour with my in-laws after dinner. They brought me to the legendary and awesome Fook Yuen (again!).
The seminar was fun. It was well organised and the turn out was good. As a token of appreciation, the Sabah Bar presented me with a book consisting of a compilation of cases decided in the Native Court of Appeal, a special Court that deals with Sabah natives’ customary issues. The cases revealed disputes regarding wrongful trespass by animals, destruction of bamboo trees, theft of animals, damages for embarrassing someone, right to harvest bird nests, inheritance of customary lands and also marriage issues. Many of these cases involved the payment of damages by way of sogit – usually a cow or other animals. Failure to pay sogit can put the wrongdoer in jail! Sabah Law Association painstakingly went through many old files to extract the judgments. Many of these cases were presided by local Judges such as Richard Malanjum, Ian Chin and Nurchaya Haji Arshad. It was an interesting read. I finished it while waiting for my flight in the airport.
We later found out that our hotel was charging RM120 to fetch us to the airport (!!!) notwithstanding that it is only a 15 minutes drive. I called Mr Usman to fetch me and he agreed. However, he was uncontactable an hour before he was supposed to pick me up. Fortunately, he turned up on the pick up time and explained that his mobile phone ran out of battery.
My flight back to Kuala Lumpur was delayed for few hours. It was almost midnight and the airport was empty. I wandered around the airport and even went to the empty immigration desks and international departure hall. No one stopped me!