Texting dilutes relationships

In our fast-paced world, texting is taking the place of face-to-face social encounters and devaluing our relationships. – AFP Photo
When people communicate with gadgets, rather than face-to-face; we increase the quantity, but perhaps not the quality, of our interactions.

I DON’T want to say something that is so painfully apparent that I get labelled as Captain Obvious, or even worse, as Admiral Apparent; but technology is changing the way we live.

Thank you, Ensign Evident.

Specifically, the way we socially interact is changing, and I’m not talking about our friendships on your favourite social media network. A recent study in the United States showed that more and more people are using their phones not to actually talk to anyone but to text.

The ratio of texts to phone calls was 5-1. In fact, texting is becoming the preferred method to ask someone out. That should come as no surprise, as the alternatives of the awkward phone call, or worse – the sweaty, white-knuckled face-to-face ask-out – are just terrible options; so terrible that it’s a wonder humans could even reproduce prior to the text message.

About one third of those surveyed said that they prefer to ask the person they are interested in to meet in a group setting, rather than meeting for a one-on-one traditional date.

The rationale, besides the obviousness of it being less awkward, is that if they don’t click, they will waste less time, as opposed to several hours on a date.

Which makes it seem that people are like paperbacks which should be judged by their synopsis before one commits to spend time with that person.

But why is texting becoming the way that we socially interact? It seems like the refuge of the introvert, but it’s so widespread that it can’t just be introverts who are choosing this method of communication. Extroverts – those assertive bold individuals that crave and seem to thrive off human interaction – must also be texting, even if it seems to go against their nature.

Why is this? The advantage to texting, even if you’re an extrovert, is that you engage others on your own time and pace. The great thing about texts is you can take the time to get it right, whereas in a face-to-face encounter, the right words may only come at the end of the conversation.

Also, phone calls and speaking face-to-face have the problem where you actually have to listen to the other person, you know … talk. Even that takes time.

In a text message, first off, most people won’t send you a life story via text. Secondly, if you see a message more than a sentence long, you can simply skim it, or not read it at all and fire back an emoticon.

Not sure what to say? Or didn’t even bother reading? Send that smiley with the grimace, it’s emotionally ambiguous.

If people were telling a happy story, this Swiss army knife of emoticons looks sufficiently pleasant that they’ll think you get it; if the story was tragic, it looks dissatisfied enough that they’ll think you empathise with them. Emoticons are the inauthentic, ineffectual, pre-packaged greeting cards of text messaging.

Does this mean texting is making us all into self-centered introverts? Yes it does.

There’s no other way around it. If texting takes the edge off asking people for dates and conversing, it also takes the edge off rejecting people.

It’s hard to say “no” to someone face-to-face, but over a text message, it’s easy. That’s why there’re so many confrontational people in online forums and message boards on the Internet.

How many people do you argue with in real life? And how many people do you argue with online? If you’re sucked into actually commenting on the Internet, you’ll probably end up arguing with everyone!

If texting makes it easier to interact because the weight of interaction is reduced, it also makes our relationships more fleeting. Take for instance an interaction I had the other night on Steam, a gaming platform. I logged on with a couple of friends to get some online gaming going on. One of them introduced me to a friend, and we added him to our party.

Now when I say introduced, I mean he typed “My friend wants to play”, and he then popped up on the messaging service and said, “Hi”. That was it. He was in.

One of my friends just disappeared – went AFK or “Away From Keyboard” – something that probably wouldn’t happen in real life. It’s not like we’d agree to play squash and then somebody just walked away without telling us, that would be rude. But online, it was accepted.

Then my other friend had trouble with his computer and had to reboot. I ended up playing with the friend of a friend, who I didn’t know at all, except that we’d said hello.

Now that is the great thing about the Internet and texting. We started playing and it was fine, communicating like we knew each other, polite laughter and all. Halfway through the game, I started having trouble with my connection, and thinking it might be a sign (to perhaps go off and write this article!), I exited the game without bothering to sign back in and give an explanation to my new “friend”.

I too had just walked out of the squash game with no explanation, because I knew it wouldn’t really bother the stranger I’d been playing with, and I’m sure it didn’t bother him.

Communicating via text is great, it’s easy, it puts things on our own terms. But maybe human relations were never meant to be that simple, and ultimately, relationships are reciprocal – we get out of them what we put in, and if all we put in are text messages … then that’s really all we’ll get back.

Big Smile No Teeth by JASON GODFREY
Jason Godfrey can be seen hosting The LINK on Life Inspired (Astro B.yond Ch 728).

Related post:

Technologies: Life like video games?


Life is not meant to be lived alone

care groupAunty is not just talking about any Tom, Dick or Harry. It’s husband material she’s looking for!
– Life is not meant to be lived alone. No matter how many friends and relatives you have, there is nothing like someone to grow old with.

MY daughter just changed jobs. I called her at the end of her first day to enquire how it went. She started telling me about how pleased she was with her new office and her immediate supervisor.

I couldn’t contain myself and interrupted her: “Okay good, but are there any nice guys around?”

That stopped her in mid-sentence and after a moment of silence, she sighed and said, “Oh Mum, give it up, will you?”

Yes, I was more concerned about my daughter’s dating prospects than her job prospects.

Why am I worried? Because she’s 25, single and not dating. As my friend intoned: “If they don’t meet the right guy in college or university, it will be very hard for them to do so later on.”

This may be true once but it is now debatable since women overwhelmingly make up the number of undergraduates in our public universities.

So London mayor Boris Johnson couldn’t be more wrong when he said Malaysian women were entering university in droves because “they have got to find men to marry”.

He made the quip upon hearing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak say women make up 68% of the latest public university intake at the launch of the World Islamic Economic Forum.

And that is really the biggest obstacle to the dating-mating game – this changed power structure between men and women.

As I have said before, thanks to education, job opportunities and contraceptives, women have the means to shape and control their own destiny.

They are on the rise and taking over in many fields. I attended a meeting recently at a top local bank to discuss a project and in the room were representatives from the bank, the advertising agency, a TV station and my own media company – all women except for one chap who didn’t say a word throughout the meeting. I never found out who he is and what he was doing at the meeting.

That meeting wasn’t the only one I have attended that was dominated by women; it happens all the time.

Women are so high-achieving at a relatively young age – VPs or senior managers before they are 35 – that they are leaving the guys in the dust, both in the career and marriage stakes.

A dear friend who is very pretty, has a great personality and just turned 40 is a top manager in her company. She is single and, over coffee, she agreed that dating in the 21st century is complicated for this very reason.

Because she is able to more than provide for herself, she isn’t willing to settle for just any guy. And she doesn’t think it’s worth the effort.

And really, where have all the men gone? They can’t all be chefs or mobile phone salesmen and repairmen, can they?

According to a 2011 report, globally, attitudes to sex and marriage have changed under the pressures of wealth and modernisation.

In Western society, it has led to divorce and illegitimacy; in Asia “later marriage, less marriage and (to some extent) more divorce”.

The Economist goes on to say that in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong, women were marrying later (at 29-30 years old) and more and more are simply not marrying at all. In 2010, it was found that one-third of Japanese women in their 30s were single.

Not only that: 37% of all women in Taiwan aged 30-34 were single, as were 21% of 35 to 39-year-olds.

“If women are unmarried entering their 40s, they will almost certainly neither marry nor have a child,” said the report.

It went to say that the “Asian avoidance of marriage is new, and striking” because 30 years ago, just 2% of women were single in most Asian countries. Now it’s closer to 25% among women in their 30s.

Basically, Asian women are quite content to stay single because they don’t see a lot of benefits in getting hitched. They seem to take quite well to the celibate life too. At least that’s what the Economist says.

And it shows no sign of levelling off, according to Prof Gavin W. Jones of the National University of Singapore. In an April 2013 report, he says this East Asian trend in singlehood has accelerated in Japan and South Korea over the past decade, leaving the governments “nonplussed” as to how to reverse it.

In Malaysia, the situation may not be so dire but I am anxious for my daughters (my other daughter is 22 and not dating either) who, I think, are just not trying hard enough. They would rather chill at home than party or go clubbing.

I thoroughly irritate them with my attempts at match-making but I persist. After much prodding and telling them they were getting fat and unhealthy, they both joined a gym. It hasn’t helped in getting them dates though. Maybe most of the guys who love working out are not into girls.

Why do I persist? It’s not because I have no faith in my girls to take care of themselves; they are well educated and already hold decent jobs.

It’s because I believe life is not meant to be lived alone. No matter how many friends and relatives you have, there is nothing like having someone to grow old with and to be there for you no matter what.

True, marriage may not be for everyone and it doesn’t always work out. But I want my kids to have a shot at it. Like the wife of the protagonist in the movie, Shall We Dance?, says: We need a witness to our lives. There are a billion people on the planet … I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage … You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.’”

Where have all the young men gone? 


> The writer confesses she would be a much better witness to her own spouse if she didn’t spend so much time at work. Feedback to junewong@thestar.com.my or tweet #JuneHLWong

The mind-set: how the rich get richer, the poor get poorer? You need more money …

The rich may get richer while the poor may get poorer, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It requires a change of mind-set.



I ONCE overheard someone lament that “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”, which made me think if indeed that statement is true.

The rich do get richer only because they have sound financial concepts required to stay rich. They focus on their net worth, working on their appreciating rather than depreciating assets.

They know how much is required to keep their lifestyle. They don’t necessarily need to be debt-free because they know what good leveraging can do to enhance their wealth. They employ financial strategies which are contrarian to common ones – taking on investment opportunities when others would stay away and having the purpose driven portfolios.

They consciously inject capital into their portfolios rather than on an ad hoc or timing basis. They know the impact of inflation on their money and insurance coverage because they review their financial life regularly. Their financial data is maintained and accessible anytime they want.

The poor do get poorer only because they continue to adopt a poverty mind-set. They focus on their expenses too much either being overly frugal or overly spendthrift.

Frugality means overprotective of your money which prevents risk-taking while overspending means financial leakages and unnecessary bad debts.

Their financial life has no planning and they have never taken a conscious effort to straighten it out. Their finances are all lumped into a “pot” which is meant to be used for everything.

They do invest but usually due to either lack of knowledge or fear of losing their capital, the amount is too small to be financially significant. Their insurance coverage depletes as medical costs rise, unsure what and for how much they are insured for.

It really doesn’t have to be this way. There is a way to change your financial situation. The first step is to decide to be financially responsible yourself. Acquire the right financial knowledge and make that change. Find a financial buddy to help you get started.

- Financial Snacks by Joyce Chuah, CEO of Success Concepts Life Planners

So you need more money … 

The problem always starts when you owe more than what you can earn, financial experts say.

When it comes to money, Adrienne Wong (not her real name) believes she is a reasonable spender.

An assistant communications manager, Wong, 31, earns about RM8,000 a month, but says her debts take up a sizeable chunk of her monthly income.

The two biggest items in her list, her housing and car loans, amount to about RM3,000.

“My credit card bills usually come up to another RM1,000 plus, so that’s more than half of my salary gone. With utility bills, that’s another RM600. The rest goes into savings, pocket money for my parents and a bit of shopping.

“With property and car prices as high as they are now, it’s no wonder our loan amounts are so big. But what choice do we have?” Wong asks.

Indeed, the rising rate of household debts is a pressing concern – as of March, this year, the Malaysian household debt ratio against the GDP reached an all-time high of 83%.

Last week, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) announced a three-prong approach to curb the rising trend of household debts:

> Maximum tenure of property financing is now fixed at 35 years;

> Maximum tenure of personal loans is fixed at 10 years;

> Prohibition on the offering of pre-approved personal financing products.

BNM Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz had said that Malaysia currently has the highest household debt to GDP for a developing country in the region. In comparison, Thailand’s household debt ratio stands at 30%, Indonesia at 15.8%, Hong Kong at 58%, Taiwan at 82%, Japan at 75% and Singapore at 67%.

Countries that have higher household debt to GDP are the United States at 91.7%, United Kingdom at 114%, Australia at 113%, New Zealand at 91%, and South Korea at 91%.

RAM Holdings Bhd group chief economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng says BNM’s move is a “prudent one”.

“A financial crisis can always be traced back to excessive borrowing or leveraging, and the problem is that we never know we are in a credit bubble until that bubble bursts.

“The higher this figure is, the more vulnerable the household sector will be to economic shocks, which can come in the form of an economic downturn,” he says.

The concern, he says, is when people owe more than what they can earn, which is not sustainable.

According to BNM figures, the three biggest contributors to Malaysian household debt are the housing, car and personal loans (refer to chart).

Personal loans can be used for a variety of reasons.

Teacher Siti Norsharmi Fateh Mohamad, 28, says she took a RM35,000 personal loan three years ago to fund her wedding.

“We wanted our wedding to be special, with everything done up nicely. It didn’t feel like much then, but now that we have more commitments (a daughter and a housing loan), it’s definitely an additional burden for us.

“On hindsight, we shouldn’t have taken the personal loan … it wasn’t a necessity,” she says.

But personal loans are popular lately and there’s a reason for it.

“Banks aggressively push personal loans because it’s one of the most profitable products for them. Interest rates for personal loans can be anywhere from 3% to 12%,” says a former local bank manager who declined to be named.

Spending trends have also changed, says Dr Yeah.

“Previously, people only spend what they can afford, but practices have changed. Today, many people don’t mind spending money they don’t have.

“Taking a personal loan is not necessarily a bad thing, but it depends on why you’re doing it. Taking a personal loan for education, for example, is fine, because you’re improving your skills … or for medical purposes to enhance one’s health. But to take a loan for conspicuous consumption, or to make speculative ‘investments’… I think that should be discouraged,” he says.

Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK) chief executive officer Koid Swee Lian agrees.

“It is quite common now for people to take personal loans prior to a festivity because they want to buy new furniture, change their curtains, do a bit of renovation.

“Consumers must be discerning and responsible in their borrowings, just as credit providers must be responsible in their lending. Earn before you spend, not spend then earn! Use the debit card and not the credit card if you cannot pay in full each month,” she says.

Before taking a loan, Koid says consumers should ask themselves:

> Do you really need the personal loan?

> Is it for a productive purpose or can you forgo it?

> Can you afford to pay the loan instalments? If the interest rate increases, can you still pay the increased loan instalments?

> If the loan is for a productive purpose, would you generate enough income to repay the loan and leave some income for yourself?

If taking up a personal loan is absolutely necessary, Koid advises potential borrowers to do their homework and compare the different bank rates.

“Go to bankinginfo.com.my where you can make a comparison of all the rates. Don’t take a loan just because it’s offered. Also, understand what you’re signing up for. Find out whether the bank is charging you a flat rate, a reducing rate or a floating rate,” she says.

Koid gives an example of a loan with these terms – a RM10,000 loan to be paid over five years at 4% interest rate per annum.

“A flat rate of 4% for a five years may not sound like a lot, but what it actually means is that you’re essentially paying 20% interest for the five-year loan. The amount of interest you pay doesn’t change regardless of how much you’ve repaid,” she says.

“Compare this to a reducing rate. If you’ve paid RM1,000, that means the interest should only be on the remaining RM9,000.”

Those who have trouble managing their cashflow can also seek help at AKPK or call its toll-free line at 1800-88-2575.

“People who have a debt problem often feel very embarrassed, but I think they need to be realistic. You’re in that situation, you have to solve it. Come to us, we will do our best to help you,” Koid says.

Let children be children

Parents have to be more cautious and keep a close eye on their kids to protect them from negative influences.

Naughty Teddy

Naughty teddy: A scene from Ted. Despite featuring a cuddly teddy bear, this is not a movie you should expose your kids to.

AFTER a hectic couple of weeks full of shows, I spent last weekend celebrating friendships, both old and new. I had a massive BBQ party for friends who had helped in preparing for the shows and projects to thank them all for their support, friendship and big hearts. The party was also a farewell of sorts for a wonderful and dear old friend of mine.

Due to my busy schedule, I’ve been missing out on much needed quality time with the important people in my life. As with all parties, not everyone was able to make it, but this didn’t prevent me from having a blast. It was fantastic to see everyone enjoying themselves, chatting, drinking and eating. Of course, saying farewell to my dear friend was quite heart-wrenching, but we still managed to share many laughs. Even my children enjoyed the evening playing with their old friends and making new ones.

Aside from the usual party banter and gossip about people we knew, lots of memories were relived; we caught up with current news and just generally had fun. One topic that seemed to dominate the evening was how fast our children were growing up. This got me wondering, whose fault is it really? Is it because of the advanced technologies they are exposed to these days … or rather the fault of parents?

I have heard horrifying stories of under-aged children – sometimes as young as 12! – who are having sex, often without protection, and their parents are OK with this behaviour. Some European friends say this is pretty common for them. In fact, research has shown that over the past 50 years, the number of teenage girls who are sexually active has quadrupled! Unfortunately, this kind of behaviour is no longer contained within the West and becoming more rampant even here in Asia. Personally, I cannot begin to understand this but it seems more people have begun to accept that it is normal for teens to be sexually active.

A while back, I was watching a documentary about traditional weddings, which highlighted arranged marriages involving children, especially among minority tribes. This documentary shared the story of four sisters who got married at the same time, the youngest of whom was only four! According to some traditions, if a boy of that age isn’t married yet, he will bring shame to his family. It’s sad to think that this practice continues to exist in this day and age.

I know for a fact that my grandparents had an arranged marriage. Grandma used to tell me how many of her friends back then were arranged to be married even before they were born. But circumstances were different then.

I guess in certain communities where marriage is seen as economic security for girls, things are different. But in societies like ours, where girls have every opportunity to create their own financial security, children are still maturing too quickly. And I feel both parents and technology have played a role.

Technology has become so accessible, allowing kids to be exposed to sites they shouldn’t be viewing. And parents are not monitoring what their children view online. I have even heard of parents watching pornographic movies in the same room as their young children! Children these days are smart and they learn fast.

They are also impressionable, and being exposed to this sort of film would make them think this behaviour is acceptable and that it’s okay for them to imitate it. Scary!

Even movies these days expose young children to unsuitable words and images. Stories that seem innocent enough for young kids are often laced with topics that are too mature for them. Take the movie Ted, which was released not too long ago. I actually contemplated taking my children to watch it because I was under the impression, from the posters that I had seen, that it was simply about a young boy and his teddy bear.

Luckily, I went online to check out the trailer and reviews. The movie was full of obscenities and actions that I definitely would not have wanted my young children to watch.

So, yes, in a way the Internet is great as it allows us to access useful information so much easier and faster. However, if not used properly, it can open Pandora’s box of elements we want to keep away from our kids. I was told by a friend that even adding filters to websites is not completely fool-proof. There seems to be no way around this one – we are living in a very advanced world where all sorts of data, including the unsavoury kind – have become very accessible. This makes the world a very scary place indeed, especially in terms of young children and teenagers.

Even TV channels, such as MTV, present girls in revealing clothes and seductive dance. Too many little girls will therefore think that dressing and behaving in that fashion is “cool”. It makes me sick when I see so many girls these days acting much more mature than they are. I also feel sorry for our children, the future leaders of our world, to have been injected with such unnecessary images in their heads from such a young age.

I’m not sure how we can help change this world to be a better place for our children. It will definitely be a tough mission, but it’s vital that we try anyway. We just have to be more cautious and keep a close eye on our kids’ daily activities to protect them from negative influences.

It’s important that we show them happy movies and stories, and preserve their childhood for as long as possible. Childhood is the most carefree and happy time they will ever have. Let’s not rob our children of this wonderful, innocent experience.

It really is difficult being parents today, but we can only try.

Mel’s Place by MELINDA LOOI

Award-winning fashion designer Melinda Looi tries to marry consumerism and materialism with environmental consciousness, and believes her greatest creations are her children. Follow her on Facebook or write in to star2@thestar.com.my.

Son, mum in bloodshed by wife, her daughter-in-law !

Son-mum bloodshed by wife_her in-lawInjured: Lim and her son Liew Pang @ Low Pang after they were allegedly assaulted.

KLANG: An old woman and her son ended up with head wounds so bad they needed to be stitched up. Both alleged that they were attacked by the son’s wife with a metal spatula.

And the fight was over joss paper.

It all started when Lim Kae Poy, 67, went to her 31-year-old daughter-in-law’s condominium in Bandar Baru Klang on Saturday, to collect schoolbooks belonging to her grandson.

“As soon as I entered, she accused me of stealing joss paper from the living room and threw a metal can at me but I dodged it,” she told reporters yesterday.

“She then hit me on the head with a metal spatula.”

Lim managed to get away and fled to the Bandar Baru police station to lodge a report, but the policemen took her to the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital because she was bleeding profusely. She needed five stitches on her head.

klgbeaten 3Battered duo: Liew and his mother Lim received five stitches each following the attack.

Her son, Liew Pang @ Low Pang, 37, who had earlier tried to break up the fight, was also allegedly whacked on the head by his wife.

He stayed back in the condominium when his mother fled, in order to restrain his wife.

Liew later sought treatment at a clinic. He too needed five stitches to close his head wound.

He told reporters that when he went to lodge a police report the following day at the Sungai Kapar police station, he was instead detained for four days.

The police told him his wife had reported earlier that he had beaten her up.

North Klang OCPD Asst Comm Shukor Sulong confirmed that police reports have been lodged by all three.

newsdesk@thestar.com.my/Asia News Network

Mutual love and marry, so what?


Forty-year-old Riduan Masmud who allegedly had sex with a 13-year-old girl,

KOTA KINABALU: He allegedly had sex with a 13-year-old girl and saw no wrong in it.

Riduan Masmud, the 40-year-old who shocked the nation after being charged with raping the minor and later declared that he had married her in the midst of the case, has opened up for the first time on why he decided to take the girl as his second wife.

The restaurant manager defended his action, saying it was a case of suka sama suka (mutual consent), adding that it was acceptable under Syariah law.

It could not be ascertained whether the girl met Riduan while she was at school or whether she had been working for him. She is from a very poor family.

As his rape case came up for mention at a Sessions Court yesterday, Riduan told reporters that he had known the girl for about six months and felt he had the right (to marry an underage girl).

“There are many cases of men marrying underage girls. I do not see why my case should be any different,“ said the father of four children, aged between two and 17. He declined to say if any of them is a girl.

Riduan was speaking to reporters outside the courtroom after Sessions Court Judge Ummu Khatom Abd Samad set July 1 to 4 to hear the case.

Judge Ummu Khatom gave the Attorney-General’s Chambers until June 6 to make a decision on whether to proceed with the case.

Riduan was charged on Feb 28 with raping the girl inside a car parked by the roadside in Inanam near here at 10am on Feb 18.

On May 7, DPP Ahmad Nazmeen Zulkifli told the court he had no objection for the case to be withdrawn after the girl withdrew the rape report against the man April 18.

It is understood that it was the girl’s aunt who lodged the police report after she found out about the “affair”.

The courtroom was packed yesterday with concerned groups turning up in full force. Many women interest groups and NGOs turned up for the hearing yesterday, including Befrienders Kota Kinabalu president Datuk Seri Siti Rubiah Abdul Samad, the wife of Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.

All eyes were on the girl who appeared briefly in court. She has a childlike face, wore some make up, and tied up her long hair in a pony tail. Thin and looking under-developed, she was dressed in a T-shirt and jeans.

Riduan said he would let his child-wife finish her studies first and “maybe later take up a cosmetic course with my first wife”, adding that she was a make-up artist.

His wife also told the press that she had accepted the teenager to be her husband’s second wife and promised to guide her through her studies.

However, Riduan stopped talking and moved away from the media when he was signalled by a lawyer not to talk.

The girl’s father, who was also at the court, said he accepted his daughter’s marriage to Riduan as they liked each other.

“It is best for her that they get married. What else can I do?” he added.

As the case came up for mention yesterday, DPP Chaw Siang Kong told the court that he needed time to review the case as it involved public interest.

Lawyers Datuk Mariati Robert and Mary Lee held watching briefs for Sabah Law Association and the Sabah Women Action Resource Group respectively.

Counsel Loretto J. Padua informed the court that the Syariah marriage certificates had been presented to the investigating officer and confirmed that the two were now married.

The court ordered that the man’s RM8,000 bail be extended till June 6.


Love triangle led to murder of teenage girl !

Love Tringle_Lucia-Mejia-Kaur PETALING JAYA: A love triangle is believed to be the reason for the brutal murder of Parhwine Lucia Mejia Kaur (pic), whose body was found in a drain near a football field in Bandar Puchong Jaya on Tuesday.

Serdang OCPD Asst Comm Abdul Razak Elias said investigations revealed that the 18-year-old might have been the victim of a love triangle that went awry.

He added that Parhwine’s boyfriend, who is in his 20s, was detained a few hours after her body was found at 6.50pm. Her motorcycle was found some 50m away.

“He is the prime suspect. However, there is a possibility that there were others involved as well,” he said yesterday.

It is learnt that Parhwine was murdered after a quarrel with her boyfriend over his “indiscretions” with another woman.

The boyfriend was said to have cheated on her with another girl and sources revealed that the boyfriend was the last person seen with the victim before she died.

ACP Abdul Razak said police were also investigating several blogs which picked up the story on the murder.

“Some blogs had highlighted a comment on the victim’s Facebook page, taunting the police saying Parhwine’s murderer will never be caught.

“We are working together with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to find out who had posted the comment. It may also have been a sick joke posted by a hacker,” he said.

ACP Abdul Razak said a post-mortem revealed that Parhwine died due to loss of blood from severe neck injuries. Parhwhine was reported missing on Monday, a day before her body was found.

Friends and family members told the police that the victim knew the suspect for only four months and that they were always arguing.

ACP Abdul Razak urged anyone with information to call the police hotline at 03-2052 9999 or visit the nearest police station.


First lady in the limelight

China‘s Peng Liyuan joins the ranks of the world’s most fashionable first ladies.

Xi Jinping and Peng Liyuan arrive in MoscowXi Jinping and Peng Liyuan arrive in Moscow. Photograph: Ivan Sekretarev/AP

He is the most powerful person in China and head of the world’s second largest economy, but when Xi Jinping arrives for the Brics summit in South Africa on Tuesday, chances are that all eyes in his home country will be on the woman at his side.

Peng Liyuan, China’s new first lady, was the talk of Chinese social media at the weekend during a trip to Russia when she emerged as a trendy contrast to her predecessors.

Pictures of Peng stepping off a plane with Xi in Moscow on Friday – the first stop on his first trip abroad since assuming China’s presidency on 14 March – went viral online with praise for her attire: black high heels and stockings, an understated leather bag and a light blue scarf emerging from beneath a dark trenchcoat, collar turned up against the wind.

The 50-year-old People’s Liberation Army singer is often compared to Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Michelle Obama, Raisa Gorbachev and even Kate Middleton: a charismatic performer, trendsetter and dash of colour in an otherwise monochrome regime.

“I kind of knew she would play some role in public life, but not in this way,” said Wang Zhengxu, an associate professor of contemporary Chinese studies at the University of Nottingham. “Somehow she just hijacked the limelight from Xi Jinping on Chinese cyberspace. That’s quite a dramatic development in my view.”

After bloggers identified Peng’s bag, coat and scarf as products from the Guangzhou-based outlet Exception, the company’s website crashed on Friday from an overload of traffic. On Sunday the site was still loading only intermittently.

Exception was founded by a Guangzhou-based couple in 1996 who now run about 100 outlets across the country. “[Its CEO] once said Exception is best suited for this type of woman: a bit artistic, someone who appreciates quality but also stands apart, someone who understands international trends but wants to express her eastern flare,” the LadyMax fashion website reported. “Is this not Peng Liyuan’s style?”

The Beijing-based entrepreneur Wang Lifen said Peng’s life story was a classic inspirational tale.

“Born into poverty, she used her innate singing ability to leave her home town, worked diligently to complete a master’s degree at China Conservatory of Music, and used her gradually growing fame and visionary intelligence to start dating a low-level cadre,” she wrote. “This is why so many people admire her.”

The recently retired president Hu Jintao‘s wife, Liu Yongqing, and Jiang Zemin’s wife, Wang Yeping, were both known to keep low profiles. Looking for their names on Chinese search engines brings up only fragmentary biographical information such as birth dates and alma maters.

When Xi assumed the Communist party’s top post in November, analysts predicted that Peng would remain as low-key as her predecessors: after all, the soprano had chosen to eschew large-scale performances in recent years to avoid drawing attention from her husband’s political career.

Yet Peng’s arrival in Moscow was covered extensively by China Central Television and received a full-page spread in the Beijing News. The couple arrived in Tanzania on Sunday, and on Monday Peng was pictured in a bright red scarf casually draped over a tailored black jacket and white dress.

Some commentators have expressed hopes that she will take a more active role in forthcoming visits to South Africa and the Republic of Congo. Peng was appointed as the World Health Organisation‘s goodwill ambassador for tuberculosis and Aids in 2011.

Peng joined the People’s Liberation Army as a civilian at 18 and had already reached the heights of folksinging fame when she first met Xi in the south-eastern province of Fujian in 1986. She is best known for her 24 years as a soloist at the annual spring festival gala, perhaps the most-watched television event in the world, belting folk songs in her brassy, nasal soprano.

In one widely shared video clip, Peng, dressed in military garb, sings about “bravely advancing for victory” amid a chorus line of bayonet-wielding soldiers. The stage show is juxtaposed with stock footage of battle-ready Chinese tanks, jets and warships.

Internet censors have given largely free reign to positive discussion of Peng but have kept a grip on the conversation. Terms such as “Auntie Peng” and “first lady Xi” have been blocked on Sina Weibo. Wang Zhengxu said censors probably wanted to maintain Peng’s image as a symbol of public diplomacy rather than brash commercialism.

By Jonathan Kaiman Guardian News & Media

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Measuring your Heart Rate for fitness

Why do you need to know your heart rate? What heart rate zone will give you the absolute BEST results for fat burning from your cardio?

I was recently inspired to write this article on heart rates in relation to fitness due to the numerous questions I have received lately about it, and the importance of knowing what it is, and why. Even though the heart rate is a huge element to achieving an optimal workout, and its been around forever, many individuals do not know what theirs is, or how to measure it, or even to care about it. So I am going to clarify this simple yet important component to fitness.

Resting, Exercise and Maximum
Heart Rates
There are three HR to consider when training to get fit, or as it relates to cardiovascular fitness, as well as your Target Zone.

The first is the Resting HR. This is your HR when you are not engaging in any physical activity that elevates it, or when you are in a resting state such as sleep. As you become more fit, this number will decrease because your heart and lungs have become stronger. The heart is then able to pump more blood, which is called stroke volume, throughout the body with less effort. The lungs are able to pull in more oxygen, which is called maximum oxygen uptake, with less effort, which means more blood and oxygen to the working muscles makes up the endurance portion of being fit. Having enough oxygen going into the blood keeps the lactic acid out-thus you can sustain a prolonged aerobic workout.

A normal Resting HR can vary as low as 40 BPM to as high as 100 BPM. 70 BPM is usually the average for a man, and 75 BPM is average for a woman. The Resting HR should be used as an index to improve your cardiovascular fitness level, with a focus on decreasing it. The best time to measure your Resting HR is when you first arise from sleep in the morning. The palpation (beats) of the Radial Pulse is accurately measured in your wrist in line with the base of your thumb. Place the tips of your index and middle fingers over the Radial Artery and apply a light pressure to it. DO NOT USE YOUR THUMB. It has a pulse of it’s own. You may count the beats for one full minute to get the HR, or for 30 seconds and multiply by 2 for the number of BPM.

The Second is the Exercise HR. This is the rate at which your body is in motion from a sustained exercise, and the rate increases. Of course you measure it during exercise. The goal here is to stay within your Target HR Range or Zone, which is normally between 75% to 85% of your Maximum HR which is the third. Maximum HR is the rate at which your heart beats at 100% Max. during a sustained aerobic activity. You never want to work at 100% of your Max. HR unless a professional has you on a specific program designed for that, and your fitness level can sustain it. 100% of Max. will cause you to cross over into an Anaerobic Threshold. These numbers can vary depending on your age and fitness level.

The Exercise Pulse is most accurately palpated at the larger Carotid Artery on the side of the neck. It is usually located beside the larynx. Place your index and middle fingers alongside the base of your ear lobe and slide it down to the side of your throat and apply a light pressure. DO NOT apply a heavy pressure to the Carotid Artery when measuring your Exercise HR. These arteries contain Baroreceptors that sense increases in pressure and will respond by slowing down your HR. You will feel this pulse easily during a workout, so heavy pressure is not needed to locate it. The Exercise HR should be taken for 10 seconds, always counting the first beat as “0,” then multiply by 6. This number is your Exercise HR. Which brings me to the point of all of this information.

For Determining Your Max Heart Rate 

To determine your Maximum HR, use the calculators below. The simple formula: Take 220 and minus your age which is accurate to approximately +15 BPM. You then take that number and multiply it by .75 – .85, which will give you your percentages of 75% — 85% of your Max. HR. This is the Target Range or Zone that you want to stay in when doing any type of cardiovascular (aerobic) activity. When in this range your body is getting an optimum workout with maximum benefit, and it stays in a Fat Burning mode.
There are two different ways to calculate your maximum heart rate and your target heart rates. The method I just explained is the simple method.
Simple Target Heart Rate Calculator
Using the 220 – Age formula.

Enter Your Age
Max Heart Rate
75-85% Max Heart Rate
THR 15 sec count


The Karvonnen formula is more advanced since it also takes into account your resting heart rate. This is your heart rate at complete rest. To determine this, take your pulse for 60 seconds just before you get out of bed… or take it for 30 seconds and multiply by 2.
Advanced Target Heart Rate Calculator
Using the Karvonen Formula.

  • For your age, use a whole year. (Between 0 and 100)
  • Put your Resting Heart Rate in the next box. (Between 30 and 100)
  • In the % box, use a number between 50 and 85. Do not include the %.
  • Click on the Calculate button, and it will calculate your target heart rate or that percentage.
Your Age in Years
Resting Heart Rate
% of Maximum Effort
Your Target Heart Rate

When you start to work over these percentages, not unless you are in great shape and can push yourself into a higher range, then you have gone into an Anaerobic Threshold. Which means that you are pushing yourself way too hard, and no healthy benefits are being obtained. You are defeating your purpose. If you push yourself into an Anaerobic Threshold your body can no longer meet its demand for oxygen. You will start to feel exhausted, your HR increases above the Max. (which is 100%), you will stop the fat burning process, and you will start to hyperventilate due to the excessive amounts of lactic acid in your body. In other words, you are not pulling in enough clean oxygen through the lungs to clean it out of the blood. Your heart can no longer pump enough blood to your working muscles to sustain your activity, and you are overloading yourself. You prevent this from happening by staying in your Target HR Range. As you become more fit, you can push yourself into a higher range without going over into the Anaerobic Threshold. The purpose of this article is to give you insight to perceive that, and always know where you are in your range or zone when working out.

AN FYI Remember that Aerobic means “with oxygen,” and Anaerobic means “without oxygen.” Aerobic exercise is training at a certain level of intensity for a sustained period of time, usually 20 minutes to 1 hour as on a stair-climber, treadmill, or in an aerobics class. You need oxygen rich blood to maintain this.

Anaerobic exercise is training at a level of intensity that does not require a sustained period of time, usually 30 seconds to 1 minute. Such as weight training, strength circuit, circuit and interval training sessions when sets/reps are involved. Because the time period is shorter and faster in cases of intervals and circuits, you use all of the oxygen rich blood more quickly to complete your sets/reps before lactic acid causes you to stop the exercise. That’s what “The Burn” means. Then you take a break so the blood can be cleaned of lactic acid and you catch your breath before your next set.

One more element to consider is the Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale. This scale provides a standard means for evaluating your perception of your exercise intensity. You can use this scale on a 1 – 10 basis with 1 being “very very easy,” and 10 being “very very hard.” If you’re like me, I don’t like to stop during my aerobic exercise sessions to measure my HR, so I use this scale to measure where I am in my Target Range. I know how I feel at 75% — 95% of my Maximum HR, so I can either increase or decrease my intensity before I cross over into an Anaerobic Threshold, and maintain my work out and Fat Burning process. If you are going to use this scale, make sure that you too know how you feel at 75% — 85% of your Max. HR so that your perception is accurate on this scale.

Working out in the Target Zone helps me get lean!
(Editor’s Note: This pic gets MY heart going.)

Knowing this simple information will help you greatly in evaluating your progress when training to get fit, or when training to compete. You can develop your training sessions and know what you need to change or add in your program by being in tune to your Heart Rate. Always be aware that you are in THE ZONE!

Train for Success!!!



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Rightways for Heart Health

Rightways for Heart Health

Work to stretch and strengthen your body for 30 minutes, and you will pump up your heart

Run For Heart Health!

Unless you live on another planet or under a rock, you probably know by now how important exercise is to overall fitness and heart health.

It is a message that is hard to escape these days. There is plenty of research to suggest that exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

It can also help lower high blood pressure and lift your mood. And it has been shown to improve self-esteem and help with weight loss.

Yet despite the many studies backing the role exercise plays in heart health, a lot of adults aren’t listening. Two-thirds of them are considered overweight and one-third fall into the obese category with a body mass index over 30.

For many, getting fit and healthy might seem like an unachievable goal, but experts say you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to see the benefits of exercise.

A minimum of 30 minutes of cardio exercise can do the trick.

“It doesn’t matter what type, as long as you do it,” said Dr. Daniel Clearfield, Cowtown Medical director and a sports medicine and primary-care physician.

“Ideally, you should do it five days a week but even two is beneficial.”

Casual exercising is not going to do the trick, said Dr. Benjamin Levine, director of the Institute of Exercise and Environmental Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Texas Health Resources.

It has to be something that you are committed to doing on a regular basis.

“Exercise should be part of hygiene, just like brushing your teeth,” said Levine, who is also a professor of medicine and cardiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Running and swimming are excellent. But cycling, walking on a treadmill or working out on an elliptical can also be beneficial.

Even yoga or tai chi can make a difference if the workout is strenuous enough to elevate your heart rate.

Any combination of endurance exercises that get the large muscle groups moving is going to get results.

Whatever exercise you chose, you should be moving enough to produce a sweat. Runners should be moving at a clip that is fast enough to make talking possible but not easy. A Zumba class can get you the same results, if you are moving fast enough.

“Anything that gets your heart rate up, makes you sweat a little and makes you short of breath,” Levine said.

To improve your overall health and keep your ticker pumping effectively, add strength and stretching exercises to a cardio routine one or two days a week. Yoga is great for stretching, and you can build strength with or without the use of weights.

Commit to exercising regularly and your body will respond.

The heart is a muscle, so you want to strengthen it, but you also want to tone the arteries around the heart, just like you would tone your arms, Clearfield said.

“When you work your biceps, you’ll find it easier to lift things,” he said. “It’s the same thing with your heart.”
With regular exercise, the heart starts pumping more efficiently and your stamina improves. That can pay off in big ways.

If someone is sedentary and one day has to run hard to catch a bus, he may end up having a heart attack, Levine says, as an example. “But for someone who is fit, that’s barely a blip,” he said.

Although the younger you start exercising, the better, you are never too old to get into shape. Someone who is really committed to fitness when they are young could have a heart that is as youthful as a 30-year-old later in life.

If you start at 70, you won’t be able to protect against arteriosclerosis but you can protect your heart against sudden death and see the health benefits of regular exercise, such as lower blood pressure, Levine said.

It takes about six weeks to start seeing an improvement in physical fitness, but the payoff continues over a lifetime, Clearfield said.

“Exercise is great at combating obesity and keeping the heart healthy,” he said. “In the long run that can mean more years of life.”

Expert tips on starting a healthy, heart-wise excercise rountine

We asked three fitness pros from the Amon G. Carter Downtown YMCA to demonstrate three ways to kick off a healthy routine that includes cardio, strength and stretching.


Yoga is one of the best ways to stretch the body, but a lot of people steer clear of this type of exercise because they are afraid it is just too hard to get into those pretzellike poses.

But you don’t have to be limber like a rubber band to benefit from yoga. Poses can be modified, and most teachers are more than willing to do what it takes to make yoga accessible.

Yoga is all about focusing on your mat and not worrying about how flexible your neighbor is. The best way to enjoy the many heart-healthy benefits of yoga, including stress reduction and lower blood pressure, is to just do it.

“Yoga is how you get flexible,” said Lisa Rodriguez, a trainer and instructor at the Downtown YMCA. “You don’t have to start off flexible to do it.”

Two to try at least twice a week:

1. Downward-facing dog – (Watch your dog stretch for hints on how to do this)

What it does: Strengthens shoulders and back. Stretches hamstrings and calves.

What to remember: Breathe through your nose. Keep your core muscles tight, your spine long and your shoulders down.

Kneel on all fours with your hands providing support and your fingers spread like starfish. Lift your hips so your tailbone is pointed toward the ceiling. Your body should be in an upside-down V shape. Shoulders should be down. Your hands and feet should be your foundation. If your hamstrings are less flexible, you can bend your knees to lift your hips up and back. Listen to your body and only stretch as far as you are comfortable.

2. Side gate

What it does: Increases strength, balance and flexibility. Opens hips.

What to remember: Maintain your alignment so you don’t injure your rotator cuff.

From all fours, turn toward one side, bend one leg and use it for support. Raise the other leg, pushing the heel forward and keeping it flexed. Raise your arm to the ceiling, keeping your hand and shoulder aligned, fingers spread. Hold the position for a few seconds.


3. Lunge

What it does: Strengthens glutes, thighs and calves

What to remember: Keep your knee behind your toes when bending.

Standing tall, step forward with one leg, bending at the knee. Drop the other leg toward the floor, then slowly return to starting position. Repeat on the other side, working up to 12 reps. If this too easy, try holding light weights in each hand.

4. Pushup

What it does: Strengthens chest, triceps and shoulders.

What to remember: Keep core muscles tight

Start on all fours with your spine in a neutral position and hands spread wide apart. Drop toward the floor, keeping your spine straight. Repeat.


5. Running

What it does: Improves endurance, stamina and heart health

What to remember: Start off slowly and gradually build up. You need to walk fast or run about 30 minutes five times a week for heart health.

For fitness, you need to move fast enough to sweat for 30 minutes.

For interval training, alternate between 1 to 2 minutes of running at 85 percent of your maximum heart rate and 2 to 3 minutes at 65 percent of your maximum heart rate. Repeat for up to 30 minutes.

By Jan Jarvis jjarvis@star-telegram.com
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