Category Archives: Personal

Opinions and thoughts about things

Things I’d learnt buying my first apartment

January 3, 2018 5:00 PM

I own a home!
(source: xkcd)

This past September I embarked on an adventure of a lifetime: perpetual debt! You laugh but 30 years is a hella long time to be owing money, is it not? And this is AFTER you’ve managed to save up the requisite 20-30% deposit (possibly even higher for apartments in some markets because banks are currently wary of a property bubble with apartments), which was near impossible in my case if it weren’t for my generous parents and uncle.

The house hunting was the easy part. Organising the loan and going through the purchasing process were not.

In no particular order, this is what I had learnt:

  • Getting a pre-approval from your lender of choice to get an idea of how much you can borrow is essential, but it is really just a rough guide and has no bearing on what the bank will actually lend you. The hard part comes when you want to actually apply for the loan. This is when you need to bare your financial soul to the bank: your savings, your credit card debts, your living expenses, your existing financial obligations. EVERYTHING. You will feel your privacy being thoroughly violated.

    I thought that going through the bank where most of my money is parked would make the process easier. I was wrong. My advice: use a mortgage broker.

  • When buying an apartment, factor in at least a quarter of the annual body corporate fees and associated council rates and water charges plus the transfer of land title. And also the cost of a conveyancing agent. All of which added to close to $8000 for me. This is money that you need to have aside from the deposit, on the day of the settlement.

  • There are no stupid questions when it comes to this large amount of money. Ask them at every opportunity and don’t be afraid to harass the real estate agent, your bank and the convenyancing agent. Be polite of course, but ask immediately if something does not make sense or look right.

    Ask the agent how much the body corporate fees are, and how long the property has been on the market (if you hadn’t already looked it up online via sites like That will give you a sense of how much you should bargain. Don’t bother asking how many other people are looking at the property if not obvious on the inspection days – they will always not answer the question directly anyway.

    Ask the bank about ALL the fees and your obligation to them so you have a clear picture of what you are signing your life away to.

    Ask the conveyancing agent about all the important milestones/dates in the purchasing process. The good ones will tell you all this from the start.

  • The conveyancing agent is meant to be your go-between yourself and your bank, the seller’s bank, and the relevant government authorities. They are meant to do all the talking and you just have to make sure that your funds is available on the day of settlement. “Meant to” anyway because in my experience, I was asked by the agent to clarify things between my bank and themselves. This added unnecessary stress because I was not expecting it. My advice: expect that this WILL happen.

  • If you had a dodgy seller like I did, you might not be able to inspect the property until very close to the settlement date. If you were not moving out of a rental property and thus not adhering to a tight schedule, always insist on a re-cleaning and repairs of defects if things are not to your liking. I didn’t have such an opportunity and so was forced to accept the less than satisfactory level of cleanliness and a defective stove top which cut off the power to the apartment twice. Luckily for me, that was the extent of the issues.

  • Don’t expect to be able to do or change everything in your new home immediately. Just enjoy the fact that you now own a piece of land / hole in the sky.

  • Living within your means really take a lot of stress out of the mortgage payments. If you did your research right, you may even pay less than what you have been paying in rent.

The mortgage process ain't easy but not insurmountable if you do your homework
This is not necessarily true but if you do your own homework and have financial discipline, it’s not as scary

Fun for all ages

July 13, 2017 10:15 PM

There’s this really moronic article in the news today and this is the headline:

New study reveals most people stop clubbing at 31 and at 37 it is considered ‘tragic’ |

The sneering tone of the article rubs me the wrong way: “there was nothing worse than seeing people out nightclubbing when they are well past their prime.” Though it does get one thing right – spending time at home watching TV or having dinner parties with close friends and family is indeed very comforting and usually costs less. But that does not preclude you from also clubbing occasionally if you want to. I’m 42 going on 43 and I go out almost every weekend because I have the time and energy, and I can afford it.

Of course, this is not for everyone but you don’t see me telling these other people that they are lame for being at home. If they are happy, who am I to judge? Likewise, clubbing is fun to me and I’m happy doing it. You know that saying, “you don’t stop having fun when you get old, you get old when you stop having fun?” Yeah let me illustrate with this photo.

Granny clubber
Is this 70-year-old deep house fanatic the UK’s oldest clubber?
“My husband thinks I’m an idiot – but I love it”
Hahahaha! And I love this woman’s attitude!

(source: The Tab)

And here’s an awesome couple.

Elderly clubbers at Fabric night club
The elderly couple who went clubbing at Fabric until 5am (!!!)
(source: BBC)

From the article that accompanied this photo:

“Club culture often is portrayed in a bad light by press focusing on the wrong things, forgetting how important it is for people to dance, lose themselves and enjoy real togetherness,” he continues.

“It brings people together from different social layers in society.

“Sometimes I hear people saying they feel too old to go out and it’s sad, you are never too old in my opinion.”

Yes, yes, yes.

You may not like clubbing and that’s cool but we like it, and some of us like it very much. So you do you, and we do us.

In 30 years time, if I’m so lucky I’d still be doing this …

Party hard, party safe and don’t be a creep. PLUR and all that. 😀

Me at Ms Collins

The Last Ooi In The Village

April 15, 2017 3:03 PM

My parents serving tea on their wedding day
My parents serving tea to my father’s parents on their wedding day

To understand this story of mine, there are three things to know. First, in East Asian societies where Confucianism informs the way of life like China, Japan and Korea, carrying on the family name is viewed with utmost importance and the responsibility always fall on the sons of the family. Second, it is a widely-held belief that mistakes and burden accumulated by a past generation can have an effect on the current one, ie. karmic retribution.

Chinese views on sin – Wikipedia

Third, my paternal grandfather was my great-grandfather’s first son (from the second wife; he had three), my father was his eldest son, and I am my father’s eldest son; hence I’m also the number one grandson with the family name. My younger brother is the only other grandson with the family name. So yeah, no pressure at all.

My parents on their wedding day
My parents on their wedding day

With all that out of the way, I can carry on telling this story. So for the longest time now, family and relatives have always been trying to fix my “problem” of being unmarried and childless. I know my mother especially yearned for grandchildren of her own, if what her siblings tell me are true. And then the problem slowly morphed from being solely mine to being predestined.

My mother relayed her thoughts of karmic retribution to me a year back. She said that perhaps there had been some problems or issues in the family a few generations back and that is why myself and my brother are unmarried and childless, and why the Ooi name might stop with me and him in our family. Sounds plausible if you believe in that kind of thing. Or perhaps the idea of carrying on the family name is gradually becoming outdated.

The name “Ooi” is indeed a rare one that originated from the Hokkien people who settled down in Penang in the colonial days. But since then, I think they have been prolific breeders. Just google it and see. At last count, there are about 300,000 results for “Marcus Ooi” alone. So yeah the name won’t die out just because me and my brother are not producing heirs to the throne.

Anyway so my mother has now changed tack and is no longer encouraging marriage so that I can produce more Oois in the world. She said to me, “You know I don’t even care about not having any grandchildren anymore. I just don’t want you to die alone.” The woman if nothing else, is very blunt.

I said to her, “Don’t worry mom, when I’m old there will be robots who will service me in that department.” I know what you are thinking about how my mother reacted and you will be right. To which I answered, “What? The robot will check if I’m alive every hour … amongst other ‘things’.” :mrgreen:

Me as a toddler
Look at that face and all that procreation and name propagation potential

My heritage vs my country of birth

September 5, 2015 3:29 PM

I’m a proud Australian of Malaysian heritage. I like to tell people that I grew up in Perth, and when I tell people that I’m Chinese, I always add “from Malaysia”. I’m proud of every component of my upbringing and my culture. I like to think of myself as a rainbow of colours and influences.

My first 14 years of life was spent in Kuala Lumpur. My dad was second generation Malaysian Chinese, and mom was first generation. Both were born in Penang. Dad was English educated and mom was Chinese educated. So while they both look Chinese, culturally they were different but what they had in common was being Malaysian. They both studied university in Australia (dad in Ballarat and mom in Sydney). They didn’t meet until they went to KL for work. I’ve written a bit more about them previously.

I’m telling you all of this to show you the stuff that I was born into. Then, living in Malaysia up till my early teens I enjoyed going to school and learning three languages (English, Malay, Mandarin) and thought that was the most natural thing ever. And also picking up Cantonese and Hokkien on the side – the dialects that the Chinese speak in KL and Penang, respectively. I enjoyed switching between all of that as much as I enjoyed celebrating each other’s religious and cultural holidays. I enjoy eating Chinese food, Malay food, Indian food and everything else in between. I hate to use the word “fusion” but it really was that. And I enjoyed seeing Malaysians of all races enjoying each other’s foods unless not allowed to by their religion (ie. halal vs. non-halal).

Dat uniform tho

I enjoy speaking in the colloquial English shared by both Malaysians and Singaporeans, better known as “Singlish“. I enjoy the rivalry between our two peoples – hey Singaporeans, Hainanese Chicken Rice was invented by us ok? Just give it up already. Hahahah!

All of which is to say, yes I’m proud to have come from Malaysia and all that it entails. But, I’m not proud of Malaysia as a country. As John Oliver has joked, Australia can be a bit too comfortably and casually racist. However, at least the racism is not systemic and built into the laws like it is in Malaysia. The affirmative action policy in Malaysia (one that overwhelmingly benefits the dominant race in the country) ensures the following:

  • 30% of the equity of publicly-listed companies are reserved for a Malay person(s) or entity
  • 85% of the civil service (besides teachers) are Malay
  • And the biggest bugbear and cause of brain drain from the country, and why my parents uprooted us to move to Australia in 1988 – 75% of university places are reserved for the Malays. Ostensibly, this quota system was removed in 2002 but bias persists still.

A Never Ending Policy | The Economist
Is Malaysia university entry a level playing field? – BBC News

And yet, more than 50 years after independence from the British ultra-nationalistic Malay politicians in the UMNO party (United Malays National Organisation) still refer to the Chinese and Indians in the country as immigrants even though both races have been there way before the Dutch, the Portugese or the British. They constantly play to the racist view that their special rights as Malays are being impinged upon, especially by the Chinese. All of this where the laws are written in favour of them and where important levers of the government (political, judiciary, military) are dominated by Malays. All of this when UMNO is the dominant political party in the ruling coalition since independence.

Bersih4 rally in KL
Bersih4 rally in KL

What prompted me to write this post are the events that happened recently, whereby USD700 million of funny money appeared to have been funneled into the PM’s account and how he subsequently fired his deputy PM who was critical of this, and the attorney general who was leading the investigations into it. And people who participated in the massive street rallies that followed did so under threat of arrest.

Investigators Believe Money Flowed to Malaysian Leader Najib’s Accounts Amid 1MDB Probe – WSJ
Why Malaysians are disillusioned with Najib Razak – BBC News

But the depressing thing about this is, it has happened before when another PM (Mahathir) fired another deputy PM (Anwar Ibrahim) in 1998. And before that, he has also locked up anyone who dared questioned his behaviour and policies.

BBC News | Asia-Pacific | Malaysia’s deputy prime minister fired
Operation Lalang – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

And what is hilarious about it is that Mahathir seems to have felt that the current PM has gone too far, even by his standards.

I want to say that not all Malays are part of or agree with UMNO (just like not all Australians agree with Tony Abbott’s stance against refugees – a topic for another day) but the rot will not stop until UMNO decides to stop it which is unlikely. Why would they when the current system perpetuates their dominance, their existence and their illicit ways? And that is what is depressing about Malaysia as a country. Malaysia may be close to being “Truly Asia” but it is not even close to being “1Malaysia”.

Nasi Lemak, Malaysia's national dish
Nasi Lemak – the one thing that all Malaysians agree on

ps. If you are Malaysian and you can vote, please exercise your civil rights and do so. Thanks for reading. This has been a long one. 🙂

No Fate But What We Make

December 30, 2014 10:46 PM

Anytime there’s a disaster of any kind, man-made or natural, I see a lot of exhortations to pray. I am going to be callous here and call bullshit on that.

I don’t believe in prayers because I don’t believe in God. If there is a God though, I don’t think He has a plan for us. God is like a kid and we are like ants in his ant farm. I don’t think He is benevolent because bad things happen to good people all the time. However, I don’t think He is necessarily evil either in the sense that a kid that uses a magnifying glass to burn the ants does not know that what he is doing is evil. For example, shitty and catastrophic weather is not evil – it just happens.

Whilst He may be fascinated by our freewill, one that He has so generously gifted us I don’t think He cares one way or another if any individual one of us lives or dies. But somehow He cares who gets to enter heaven? This brings up another bugbear of mine with monotheistic religions.

If good people die early so that they can join God in heaven, then God is selfish because surely a good person can do a whole lot of good amongst the living, right?

If good people, along with the bad, the not-so-bad and the occasionally naughty ones die together in the same random events, then God is not a just God.

And if babies and children die before they can even be deemed good or bad, and if they die in the womb or if their mother dies in childbirth, how is that a plan?

How are people being born into, and living and dying in war zones through no fault of their own a good plan?

No, there is no plan. If He exists, He doesn’t care. There is just chaos and randomness and whilst we all spin around together on a little blue planet in one of many vast universes, we have only each other. We try to enforce structure and order where we can and live the best that we can, and if we are good and most of us are, we try not to be evil assholes who ruin someone else’s life along the way. If we are really good, we go beyond that and actually help others live a better life too.

The natural state of the universe tends towards increased entropy, ie. randomness. Like all life on this planet, we live and then we die. Some of us are lucky to die old, whilst some are taken away too soon. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. Where we do have control is how we live the life that we are given, once we are able to comprehend the difference between being a good person and a shitty one. Don’t do something because you think God would approve and you will get to go to heaven. Do it because it’s the right thing to do.

So next time there’s a disaster, don’t pray – do something more practical instead.

Michaelangelo's Creation of Adam
He sure has inspired a lot of awesome art though

Going home in three different places

December 2, 2014 8:49 PM

In November, my leave from work took me back to Perth for a week, Taiwan for 9 days and KL for 2 days. During this time, it felt like I was going home in three different places.



Home is where my family is. I had not planned on going back to Perth this time as I was already planning to go back during the Christmas break. But Snoop’s surgery to remove some cancerous lumps compelled me to want to see him as much as I can. He is a 14 year old dog and our time together is limited, even more so now that I’m living in Melbourne.

I’m glad I made this trip back – seeing him bouncing around like nothing has happened put my mind at ease.

During the week here, I also caught up with all of my friends which I thought was quite impressive (yes, I’m saying that I have a lot of friends :P). And I got to spend time with mom and dad and Marvin. I like my life in Melbourne but I will always miss my people in Perth. Thankfully Whatsapp and Facebook makes it feel like that they are just there.


Tainan old street

Home is where my cultural roots are. I have been to cities in China – Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Now that I’ve been to Taiwan I can honestly say that I feel more at home there than those other cities. Outside of Singapore and Penang, which also have an ethnic Chinese majority, I can now add Taiwan to the list of places that I feel very comfortable being in. I felt that the people are friendlier than those in China and Hong Kong, and it also helped that in addition to Mandarin, most people also speak the dialect that both sides of my family speak – Hokkien.

Hearing it widely spoken evokes memories of my family and childhood, and feelings of warmth. It was very intangible but very comfortable. The look and feel of Tainan especially, a city south of the capital Taipei, are very similar to the older corners of Singapore and Penang. And the street food is equally delicious.

Taiwan will deserve another post from me here, with more photos. 🙂

Kuala Lumpur

Here on a whirlwind stop and spotted this. #wheninmalaysia

A photo posted by Marcus Ooi (@real_mooiness) on

Home is where I was born and had spent 14 years growing up in. Although the racial politics depresses me whenever I read about it, and I don’t foresee myself ever living here again, there was still something making me feel at home here. It’s not the maddening traffic, nor the heat and humidity. I’m guessing that it must be the food even though we can get very authentic and very good Malaysian food outside of Malaysia these days.

There was something intangibly comforting about eating Malaysian food in Malaysia, and seeing Malaysians of all races enjoying each other’s food. That gives me hope that someday like the food, the politics will follow suit and be less divisive, and be more binding and uniting.

And I also quite like that upon seeing my place of birth on my Australian passport, the customs officials will immediately switch to speaking Malay with me. A few broken phrases of Malay from me, and they smile and I smile. 🙂

And the sun comes out

October 12, 2014 9:11 PM


Sun shiny day.

View on Instagram

We have transitioned into spring in Australia, and the weather in Melbourne has gotten warmer but no less schizophrenic – the sun can be shining on you warmly and along comes a cold blast of air. The questions of whether to bring a jacket out, and when you are out whether to keep it on or take it off are persistent ones. I’m still getting used to it all.

During the winter months I’m certained that I went through a mild case of the SADs (seasonal affective disorder). I’ll be lethargic, and I’ll be depressed without knowing why or have a reason to. However, there was one legitimate reason in July and that was when we found out Snoop had multiple lumps on his body. Over the next few weeks after that, although I was not a mess I was not my usual happy self. And the way I usually handle my depression is not the easiest on myself as I prefer to deal with it on my own and at home – I don’t show it to friends and colleagues.

But good news is, our vet recommended a surgery specialist (yes, for pets!) and after two rounds of surgery we got all the lumps out – the first one cut out the obvious ones with an X-Ray taken to guide the surgeon to clean out the rest during the second one. I think I’ve mentioned the importance of pet insurance before because it’s really worth it. I ended up paying about $6000 and that’s roughly half of the actual bill. The price of unconditional love, right? And I will get to see him soon when I go back to Perth for a week next month. 🙂

July was also the month I started my new job and I’m happy to say that I’m really loving it. The work is varied, and I am trusted with and get to recommend IT-related stuff. Best of all the people are awesome. And I’m not gonna lie – the fact that there are more females in the office really livens up my work day. Only downside? Formal business attire means not-so comfortable shoes and more laundry and ironing. Small price for a more satisfying work life and a happier me during the work day.

Plus my social network has expanded and is still growing. So yeah I’m glad that the sun has come out – in more ways than one.

Sunny Melbourne