Beware of Scammers: Anyone Can Be a Target

It is not unusual to hear scam stories happening to family members, relatives or friends. Almost everyone would know someone who had been scammed before. Some are lucky to realise it before it is too late. Every time we hear such stories, we often wonder how it had happen, and how did they not “see” through such blatant scams. Nonetheless, anyone can be a target if they are not aware, and if they don’t notice the warning signs.

I was almost scammed today but I was lucky enough to see the warning signs and cut off the conversation. To begin telling the story, I have to turn back time to the day it first started. A scammer began texting me on Instagram like 10 day ago. I was wrong to believe that there would not be messages from strangers after I uninstalled WeChat a few years ago. As long as we are on social media, we are vulnerable to scammers. Conversation was casual, mostly daily greetings and how were things at work. So nothing sexual or too personal, but perhaps if the conversation had gone towards that direction, I would have cut it off then. A few days ago, the scammer asked for my address to post a parcel as a surprise. I thought it was weird to post a parcel to someone we barely know, but nevertheless I gave my work address. Yesterday, the scammer warned me that due to some paperwork issues, I might need to pay for the overcharge of the postage. I thought well, let’s see how much that would cost. This morning, the scammer messaged that the courier company couldn’t reach me on my phone. I received a SMS requesting me to pay RM4,600 overweight charges. How ridiculous! So I told the scammer that I did not have the money, would not receive the parcel and that they could deliver the parcel back. It was really weird when the scammer kept saying don’t worry, it is okay, just pay the overcharge to accept the parcel. He started to ask for my bank details to bank in little money. I insisted no, and said that I would report to the police if they force me to receive the parcel. My last sentence was “Ok. That’s it. Everything sounds very fishy and like a scam. I am sorry but I will have to stop the conversation.”, and I blocked their numbers.

Long gone are the days where people/strangers get in touch with good intention. Not to say there is no goodness in humans, but to remind ourselves to be more careful when strangers approach virtually or face-to-face. I am sharing this with the hope to raise awareness. Cops also warn of the new parcel scam. Ironically, we read about the scams going on in the country, we somehow know about it from newspapers, media, internet, but there are still people who fall for it. Scammers continue to do what they do best every day, targeting anyone, or simply everyone. There is no free lunch in this world, and wealth doesn’t come overnight unless you win a lottery. So, if something is too good to be true, it is. We might continue to receive scam emails or text messages, but we need to be aware and more careful not to disclose anything personal and end up as a victim. I am glad I noticed it before it was too late.

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Goodbye 2016!

2016 came before I was ready for it and it is ending before I am ready for 2017. A year seems long and there is so much one can do but I have not really felt like I have accomplished a lot. It is the year where my life changed from working to studying. If I am honest to myself, work has been more fulfilling than doing a PhD. Nonetheless, it has been a unique experience, and most of the time, a learning process.

First is attending conferences, which is something fun, especially meeting people. It’s a great way to get more exposure, learn about what other people do and gain new perspectives. It also provides a valid reason to travel!

Second is writing. It probably comes naturally to some but not so much for me. It requires intense thinking to do good writing. It takes me so long to figure out how to structure what I want to write so that the story flows. Sometimes I can’t find the right vocabulary and sometimes the grammar just doesn’t sound right. I find reading other people’s work particularly helpful, such as the way the authors present their arguments in a way that flows nicely.

Third is reading. I enjoy reading to know the content. Now, that’s not enough. I start to pay notice of how the authors write. The vocabularies they use and the way they phrase their sentences. I also start taking notes as I will never know if what I read could be useful when I write. I might need to cite their work, and if I don’t take note, I usually end up reading it again. Of course, nothing wrong with that but it just takes time to read and process.

Fourth is learning to be a social scientists. Many, including me, probably thought what’s so hard about interviewing people. In natural science research, designing the methods is important. And doing social science research is the same. How interviews are conducted requires careful design too! Plus interviewing people itself is a skill, especially for research. It is a lot about talking to people, just that non-research related talking can be random and full of crap.

Since I am living a postgraduate’s life, it is not surprising that my learning process revolves around the academic world. From times to times, I do other stuff, but not much. That is because every time I do stuff that is not related to my study, I feel guilty. Every time I think of the vacation I want to make, it remains a dream, and I tell myself, after I finish my study. PhD is really like a marathon. From where I am now, I can’t see the end. I just keep moving or stay put. I dare not do other stuff as I am afraid I will go off track, which may lead me further from the end destination. Therefore, my life in 2017 would most likely be similar to 2016, but let’s see as one never knows what lies ahead in life!

2015 – Annus Mirabilis

How fast time flies, a year has gone by just like that. It has been a wonderful year. I have accomplished a lot of what I had set out to do this year. Of course there is always more to achieve, goals set for another year.

In mind, I was planning to spend my time between my postgrad research and establishing a turtle project. In reality, I spent all my time and effort in setting up the project. Regrets? No. Even if I could turn back time, I would have done the same thing. Nothing beats living the dream. It has not been easy and there have always been challenges but everything has been worth the effort in the name of translating “science” to “conservation” on the ground.

In the midst of working hard, my experiences taught me a lot about life and people. One thing that I always have to remind myself is nobody is alike! Nobody works alike, nobody thinks alike, which makes individuals unique. It is not fair to put my expectation I have on myself onto others. To be honest, this is not imprint in my mind, at least not yet and I am still trying to get it so I am glad to be surrounded by people who try their very best to work with me.

I am grateful for everyone who came into my life and for everything that happened. It is for you all that it has been a miraculous year and to that, thank you! Bye bye 2015 and Happy New Year. Let 2016 be another great year!

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GE13 – is it democracy?

As far as I can remember, I have always stayed out of politics. I have never been interested in politics. For me, politics is dirty. Nobody in politics is not corrupted. All these years living in my home country, although feeling very unsatisfied for not having equal rights as a Malaysian, I gradually learned to accept it. Like many, I learned not to depend on the government, knowing that if I want something, I have to work for it.

When I was younger, living abroad opened up my mind. Nobody could understand how a democratic country like Malaysia doesn’t even have equal rights! I have foreigner friends who strongly commented that Malaysians should stand up for what we want. Peaceful demonstration is common abroad but in Malaysia, it isn’t so. Malaysians are not allowed to voice out what we think. Before the Internal Security Act was repealed, it allows for detention without trial or criminal charges under limited, legally defined circumstances. Due to this, I would never participate in any demonstrations. I even thought it is not effective and a waste of time. Although demonstrations can sometimes be a hindrance to the public, it is enough to just draw the citizens’ attention to it! Most news updates on TV, radio and newspapers have been edited as how the government wants people to perceive them. Through demonstration, it is another way to get a different message across to the public.

I always thought, one day, I will migrate. I realised many Malaysians choose to migrate too, if the opportunity arises. I have lived in Switzerland and everyone is proud to be a Swiss. I can understand that my ancestors originated in China but I was born in Malaysia. Legally, I am right down to the core a Malaysian! Why should we be divided by race? It is because of all the inequality in Malaysia that many don’t see ourselves as Malaysians but by races, eg. Malays, Chinese, Indians, etc. If everyone was equal and had the same right, would anyone complain that the government is only helping certain race? I love that Malaysia is indeed truly Asia as we live in a diverse country. Nobody should be outcast because of race. We are all Malaysians regardless of the origin of our ancestors.

Although corruption and bribery are nothing new in Malaysia, it has become worse. Malaysia Boleh (Malaysia Can) is supposed to be a motivating slogan. However, if it is interpreted differently, it can also mean anything is possible in Malaysia, especially with corruption and bribery. I can’t remember since when cash for votes became a norm. How much can a few hundreds Ringgit help us Malaysians in the long run? Is giving out money blindly the solution to curb poverty? This is what happen when the government started to ‘buy’ the citizens with money. Money should never be the motivation but once began, it could not stop. This billions of ringgit could have instead be used towards projects with long-term benefits to all Malaysians, such as implementing regular rubbish collection from islands to mainland.

Majority of us Malaysians want a change (UBAH) for a better future. Although most political parties are associated to a certain race or religion, we have to keep in mind that in the end, we are all Malaysians! No matter what race or religion we are, we all want the same thing. 55 years under the same government, Malaysia has developed in all aspects including corruption and bribery. Does it really matter that much where our ancestors came from? We were born and raised in Malaysia, doesn’t that count as much as being the citizens of Malaysia? If this is not our home, where else is? I realised how important a government is. They can either make or break the country! As a Malaysian, I just want to live in a fair and clean country in true harmony where I can call home!

Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country. – Franklin D. Roosevelt – 

A new season

Does a new season means the end of winter that welcomes spring? For those who works on an island or who is involved in turtle work would have a fair idea what a season is. For me, although it is my second year at Ecoteer Perhentian Project, it is also the start of a new season, which should imply the end of the monsoon. However, it is not the case here, at least not now. It is still raining and the weather has remained the same for almost one week. It just feels refreshing…like a brand new start for 2013.

After leaving the island for about 3 months, it feels good to be back. Everything is like deja vu all over again, mostly in a good way but some problems still stay the same. For the past few days, while preparing for the start of the project, it reminds me of how much I had seen, experienced, learned and grown in one year. From an amateur who faced various obstacles to being good at work, not perfect but at least I did my best. More importantly, I have great friends who are not afraid to tell me my weaknesses and how to improve them. I gotta admit, it is way easier to be a follower but it is time to manage instead of doing everything like a kuli. Hopefully, with another great team, it will be a fantastic season!

A friend used to ask me to look at what I had achieved last year, instead of what I hadn’t. The positive feeling can be a motivation to do more and better. As I started to look back, I realised how much I had accomplished and how fortunate I was to have help from all the wonderful people. I sincerely hope that the new season will be GREAT!

Fated?

To experience another land through work and travel visa has been in my head for years. However, due to certain reasons, I never had the chance to apply for any. It still isn’t a plan to apply this year until 10 days ago when my friend mentioned about it over FB chat that another friend of ours thought of applying. Then I thought, this year might be my last year to apply (sucks to grow older), why not give it a shot? So I started to google about the application, even asked a few friends about it.

I actually wanted to travel and volunteer after the season ends this year in November, most probably around Asia or Central and South America. I know one day will come that I would feel the urge to visit New Zealand but just not yet. Still I had already decided to apply for the visa. After consulting a friend, I realised I have to renew my passport in order to do so. Luckily, I flew back to Malaysia 2 days before the application started so I actually had the time to renew my passport.

Unfortunately, sometimes things just don’t happen as planned. Thinking that I had everything ready, all I had to do is wake up at 5am on the day the application would be opened. I managed to fill in the online application but as I was about to click to pay, it said quote had been filled up! That was within 40 minutes! Hell!!! My close friend faced the same problem except that the payment page showed up after she refreshed a few times. I obviously did the same but without much luck!

I did feel frustrated but at the same time I felt kinda relief because it also means I could then travel elsewhere. More options available. Even so, I still wished my payment had gone through as my close friend is going and I so wanna travel with her! Thinking on the bright side, I believe everything happens for a reason and sometimes some things might be fated. Life is full of surprises and it unfolds itself, most of the time, unexpectedly AMAZING! One good news is I could still try next year or just visit New Zealand under a tourist visa! 🙂

The Best Buddha’s Quote!

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不悲过去,非贪未来,心系当下,由此安详 《釋迦牟尼》

This is the one philosophy that has always stick with me. Easy to understand but not necessarily easy to practise it! Instead of enjoying the moment, I probably have spent so much time looking back and thinking about the past, otherwise planning and feeling anxious about the future. If I keep planning ahead, I won’t be able to concentrate on the present moment which would later become a past that I will think back. Life is short, enjoy the present and live life to the fullest with no regrets!

Friendship Fling

Friendship fling is the other kind of fling. I always wonder who my close friends are. Although I have many friends, I seem to be equally close to everyone of them. I know fling exists but I never knew that a friendship can be a fling too until I read it on CLEO. Just like the dating equivalent, friendship flings are all about a good time, not a long time.

Throughout my secondary school, I was in a different class every year. Hence, I hung out with a different group of friends each year. I ended up having many friends but I never belonged to any. As I move around quite often, I meet new friends along my life. Probably some of these friendships were flings but no doubt we had a memorable time together. Fortunately, I do keep in touch with most of my friends, not on a regular basis but I believe whenever we see each other again, it will feel like we have never been apart! There’s a reason why we became close. We probably share something in common, have the same taste or simply enjoy being around each other.

Whether or not a friendship is a fling, the good memories together will always be in my heart. I can’t forget the fun we had, the craziness hanging out together, the time when we cheered each other up…etc. A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same! I’m grateful to have known you and it would not have been the same without you in my life! You definitely make an impact as you came into my life!

Aria is back!

After one month apart from my baby, Aria (yes, Aria is my handphone), I’m so glad to have it back again. When it fell out of my pocket, I heard it hit the bricks on the ground. I picked it up and saw cracks on the screen. At that moment, I wished I could turn back time but life doesn’t work that way. Although I felt sad about it, I remember the saying ‘you can’t change what has already happened so don’t waste your time thinking about it. MOVE ON, LET GO & GET OVER IT! After doing some research and making some phone calls, I decided to fix it. It cost me RM433 to change the touch screen. Not cheap but still cheaper than buying a new one. I’m grateful that it came back to me looking and functioning just as good as new! I had missed Aria as it took me some time until I became familiar to a basic phone. No sliding my fingers around the screen, tapping on the letters but buttons instead. It’s just awesome to have Aria back in my life! 😀