Thursday, March 31, 2011

TNB in Limbo-Legal notice shocks landlord!




Surprised: Sien showing the legal notice which he received for “stealing electricity”.

By QISHIN TARIQ qishin.tariq@thestar.com.my

Landlord perplexed over TNB’s demand to pay RM3,500 for ‘electricity theft’



KUALA LUMPUR: A landlord who settled about RM5,000 in electricity bill arrears chalked up by his errant Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) tenant thought that would be the end of the matter.

Stanley Sien, 51, said he was irked with TNB's inaction against its staff, despite several complaints that they had run up the arrears.

He then paid up the arrears, repaired his badly maintained terrace house in Puchong for RM16,000 and signed a new tenant in 2009.

Then came the shocker last October a legal notice from TNB demanding Sien to pay up RM3,452.49 for “stealing electricity”.

 
“After I paid the outstanding arrears, there was an understanding with TNB that the file would be closed and there would be no more extra charges.

“However, despite the mutual agreement, I was shocked to receive the legal notice later,” he said.
“It was their own employee who stole the electricity, so why should I pay?

“I had so much problems with the TNB tenant who did not even pay my rental for more than a year.”
Sien said the TNB worker concerned had been able to reconnect power supply on his own whenever it was disconnected.

“I don't know how he did it,'' he said, adding that he had filed several complaints to TNB to contest the initial arrears amounting to RM5,000 but was told nothing could be done since his tenant had reconnected the supply himself.

When contacted, TNB said it was investigating the complaint.
TNB chief operating officer Azman Mohamed was unavailable for comment as he was overseas.

China’s five-year plan and global interest rates

COMMENT By MARTIN FELDSTEIN



CHINA'S new five-year plan will have important implications for the global economy. Its key feature is to shift official policy from maximixing gross domestic product (GDP) growth toward raising consumption and average workers' standard of living. Although this change is driven by Chinese domestic considerations, it could have a significant impact on global capital flows and interest rates.
China's high rate of GDP growth over the past decade has, of course, raised the real incomes of hundreds of millions of Chinese, particularly those living in or near urban areas. And the funds that urban workers send to relatives who remain in the agricultural sector have helped to raise their standard of living as well.

But real wages and consumption have grown more slowly than China's total GDP. Much of the income from GDP growth went to large state-owned enterprises, which strengthened their monopoly power. And a substantial share of China's output goes abroad, with exports exceeding imports by enough to create a current-account surplus of more than US$350bil over the past year.

China now plans to raise the relative growth rate of real wages and to encourage increased consumer spending. There will also be more emphasis on expanding service industries and less on manufacturing. State-owned enterprises will be forced to distribute more of their profits. The rising value of the yuan will induce Chinese manufacturers to shift their emphasis from export markets to production for markets at home. And the government will spend more on low-income housing and to expand healthcare services.

All of this will mean a reduction in national saving and an increase in spending by households and the Chinese government. China now has the world's highest saving rate, probably close to 50% of its GDP, which is important both at home and globally, because it drives the country's current-account surplus.

A country that saves more than it invests in equipment and structures (as China does) has the extra output to send abroad as a current-account surplus, while a country that invests more than it saves (as the United States does) must fill the gap by importing more from the rest of the world than it exports. And a country with a current-account surplus has the funds to lend and invest in the rest of the world, while a country with a current-account deficit must finance its external gap by borrowing from the rest of the world. More precisely, a country's current-account balance is exactly equal to the difference between its national saving and its investment.


The future reduction in China's saving will therefore mean a reduction in China's current-account surplus and thus in its ability to lend to the United States and other countries. If the new emphasis on increased consumption shrank China's saving rate by 5% of its GDP, it would still have the world's highest saving rate. But a five-percentage-point fall would completely eliminate China's current-account surplus. That may not happen, but it certainly could happen by the end of the five-year plan.

If it does, the impact on the global capital market would be enormous. With no current-account surplus, China would no longer be a net purchaser of US government bonds and other foreign securities. Moreover, if the Chinese government and Chinese firms want to continue investing in overseas oil resources and in foreign businesses, China will have to sell dollar bonds or other sovereign debt from its portfolio. The net result would be higher interest rates on US and other bonds around the world.

Whether interest rates do rise will also depend on how US saving and investment evolves over the same period. America's household saving rate has risen since 2007 by about 3% of GDP. Corporate saving is also up. But the surge in the government deficit has absorbed all of that extra saving and more.

Indeed, the only reason that America's current-account deficit was lower in 2010 than in previous years is that investment in housing and other construction declined sharply. If Americans' demand for housing picks up and businesses want to increase their investment, a clash between China's lower saving rate and a continued high fiscal deficit in the United States could drive up global interest rates significantly.

Martin Feldstein, professor of economics at Harvard, was chairman of President Ronald Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers and is former president of the National Bureau for Economic Research. - Project Syndicate

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

China 'to overtake US on science' in two years, set to outstrip US in science research output




China 'to overtake US on science' in two years

Infographic

Chinese-made bullet train China's surge in progress could soon overwhelm the US, say experts

China is on course to overtake the US in scientific output possibly as soon as 2013 - far earlier than expected.

That is the conclusion of a major new study by the Royal Society, the UK's national science academy.
The country that invented the compass, gunpowder, paper and printing is set for a globally important comeback.

An analysis of published research - one of the key measures of scientific effort - reveals an "especially striking" rise by Chinese science.

The study, Knowledge, Networks and Nations, charts the challenge to the traditional dominance of the United States, Europe and Japan.

The figures are based on the papers published in recognised international journals listed by the Scopus service of the publishers Elsevier.

'No surprise'
 
In 1996, the first year of the analysis, the US published 292,513 papers - more than 10 times China's 25,474.

By 2008, the US total had increased very slightly to 316,317 while China's had surged more than seven-fold to 184,080.

Previous estimates for the rate of expansion of Chinese science had suggested that China might overtake the US sometime after 2020.

“Start Quote

There are many millions of graduates but they are mandated to publish so the numbers are high”
End Quote Dr Cong Cao Nottingham University
 
But this study shows that China, after displacing the UK as the world's second leading producer of research, could go on to overtake America in as little as two years' time.

"Projections vary, but a simple linear interpretation of Elsevier's publishing data suggests that this could take place as early as 2013," it says.

Professor Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith, chair of the report, said he was "not surprised" by this increase because of China's massive boost to investment in R&D.

Chinese spending has grown by 20% per year since 1999, now reaching over $100bn, and as many as 1.5 million science and engineering students graduated from Chinese universities in 2006.

"I think this is positive, of great benefit, though some might see it as a threat and it does serve as a wake-up call for us not to become complacent."

The report stresses that American research output will not decline in absolute terms and raises the possibility of countries like Japan and France rising to meet the Chinese challenge.

"But the potential for China to match American output in terms of sheer numbers in the near to medium term is clear."

Quality questions
 
The authors describe "dramatic" changes in the global scientific landscape and warn that this has implications for a nation's competitiveness.

According to the report, "The scientific league tables are not just about prestige - they are a barometer of a country's ability to compete on the world stage".

Along with the growth of the Chinese economy, this is yet another indicator of China's extraordinarily rapid rise as a global force.

However the report points out that a growing volume of research publications does not necessarily mean in increase in quality.

One key indicator of the value of any research is the number of times it is quoted by other scientists in their work.

Although China has risen in the "citation" rankings, its performance on this measure lags behind its investment and publication rate.

"It will take some time for the absolute output of emerging nations to challenge the rate at which this research is referenced by the international scientific community."

The UK's scientific papers are still the second most-cited in the world, after the US.

Dr Cong Cao, associate professor at Nottingham University's School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, agrees with the assessment that the quantity of China's science is yet not matched by its quality.

A sociologist originally from Shanghai, Dr Cao told the BBC: "There are many millions of graduates but they are mandated to publish so the numbers are high.

"It will take many years for some of the research to catch up to Western standards."

As to China's motivation, Dr Cao believes that there is a determination not to be dependent on foreign know-how - and to reclaim the country's historic role as a global leader in technology.

Newscribe : get free news in real time

China set to outstrip US in science research output



China has shot to second place in the number of articles published in international science magazines and in a few years will take the top spot from the United States, according to a new report.

"China has already overtaken the UK as the second leading producer of research publications, but some time before 2020 it is expected to surpass the USA," said the report by the Royal Society in London.

While the top 10 is still dominated by the major Western powers, their share of research papers published is falling, the report said.
Advertisement: Story continues below

And as well as China, Brazil and India are coming up fast.

"The USA leads the world in research, producing 20 percent of the world?s authorship of research papers, dominating world university league tables, and investing nearly $400 billion per year in public and private research and development," said the report released Monday.

"The UK, Japan, Germany and France each also command strong positions in the global league tables, producing high quality publications and attracting researchers to their world class universities and research institutes," it added.

But while these five countries alone produced 59 percent of all spending on science globally, their dominant position was nevertheless slipping.

China shot up from sixth place in the period 1999-2003 (4.4 percent of the total) to second place behind the United States with 10.2 percent over the years 2004-08, overtaking Japan.

While the United States remained in the top spot, it saw its share shrink from 26.4 percent to 21.2 percent.

Britain remained third with its share at 6.5 percent, down from 7.1 percent.

In a statement last week after Britain's budget however, the Royal Society welcomed finance minister George Osborne's promise of another £100 million (114 million euros, $160 million) of capital investment in science.

Japan slipped from second to fourth place, falling from 7.8 percent to 6.1 percent, said the report.

Germany, in fifth place, published six percent, down from seven percent, while France, in sixth, published 4.4 percent, down from five percent.

Rounding off the top 10 were Canada, Italy, Spain -- and India, which pushed Russia out of the top 10, moving up from 13th position.

"China?s rise up the rankings has been especially striking," said the report.

"China has heavily increased its investment in R&D (research and development), with spending growing by 20 percent per year since 1999 to reach over $100 billion a year today," it continued.

That came to 1.44 percent of the country's GDP in 2007, it added.

"China is also turning out huge numbers of science and engineering graduates, with 1.5 million leaving its universities in 2006," the report added.

Further down the rankings, but making dramatic progress, were Iran and Turkey.

Turkey's improved scientific performance had been almost as dramatic as China's, the report said, noting that it had declared research a public priority in the 1990s.

The country had increased its research and development nearly six-fold between 1995 and 2007, and during the same period, the number of researchers there had increased by 43 percent.

Iran was the fastest-growing country in terms of numbers of scientific publications, rising from 736 in 1996 to 13,238 in 2008.

"The scientific world is changing and new players are fast appearing," said Chris Llewellyn Smith, who chaired the study at the Royal Society, Britain's national science academy.

"Beyond the emergence of China, we see the rise of southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, north African and other nations.

"The increase in scientific research and collaboration, which can help us to find solutions to the global challenges we now face, is very welcome.

"However, no historically dominant nation can afford to rest on its laurels if it wants to retain the competitive economic advantage that being a scientific leader brings."

The Royal Society's findings were published in its report entitled "Knowledge, networks and nations: Global scientific collaboration in the 21st century".

© 2011 AFP
This story is sourced direct from an overseas news agency as an additional service to readers. Spelling follows North American usage, along with foreign currency and measurement units.

Newscribe : get free news in real time 


US bank regulators criticised: 30 times more paid than engineers

By YVONNE TAN  yvonne@thestar.com.my

Top bankers earn more than shareholders in crisis time 




PETALING JAYA: An academician and top financial adviser has reiterated his criticism for regulators of the banking sector in the United States, saying that banks were the clear winners in the global financial crisis of 2008/09.“In the crisis year 2008, salaries of bankers from the top 10 banks rose to US$75bil from US$31bil in 1999 but cash dividends to shareholders amounted to only US$17.5bil,” Tan Sri Andrew Sheng Len Tao said.

Sheng, who is adjunct professor at the University of Malaya (UM) and Beijing's Tsinghua University as well as chief adviser to the China Banking Regulatory Commission, said based on this, banks' management took home 4.3 times more than shareholders, when in fact shareholders were the ones that had to inject capital and government guarantee deposits.

“If banks increase leverage, then they have more profits but assume greater risk. But they can take home larger shares of bonuses because profits would be rising,” he said.
“Essentially, financial sector losses would be paid for by future taxation, which would lead to large fiscal debt, devaluation or inflation, but agents are walking (off) with bonuses,” Sheng said in a talk held at UM last week.

Sheng, who appeared in the 2010 Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job, a narrative which traces how the global financial crisis started, pointed out during the talk that financial engineers at Wall Street were paid some 30 times more than engineers.

“Financial engineers build dreams but when those dreams turn out to be nightmares, the people pay for it,” he was quoted as saying by foreign press following the release of the documentary.

Touching on the area of global imbalance between the West and the East, Sheng said there were currently three imbalances that had to be worked on.

Simply put, these are current account imbalances with an apparent pattern of Europe being broadly in balance, the United States in deficit and Asia, in surplus; foreign exchange reserves imbalance with the Chinese, Japanese and the rest of Asian foreign reserves exceeding US$4 trillion, which is larger than the rest of official reserves collectively, as well as national savings rate imbalance where Asia clearly leads.

As far as an international currency is concerned, unless and until the world recognises a global fiscal policy with a global tax, an international currency cannot work, according to Sheng.

IBM pays $10 million to settle Asian bribe





IBM has agreed to pay $10 million to settle charges it gave cash and gifts to Chinese and South Korean officials to win contracts for mainframe and personal computers and other products.

The agreement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) calls for the US computer titan to pay disgorgement of $5.3 million, interest of $2.7 million and a civil penalty of $2 million.

Under the agreement, which is subject to court approval and was released by the SEC on Friday, IBM does not admit or deny the allegations it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

In the complaint filed with the US  District Court for the District of Columbia, the SEC outlined the accusations against IBM, which is based in Armonk, New York.

The complaint detailed instances of IBM Korea employees allegedly handing over envelopes filled with cash to South Korean officials in parking lots, providing them with free notebook computers, fiddling bid sheets and making payments to the bank account of a "hostess in a drink shop."

It said employees of IBM subsidiaries and a majority-owned joint venture provided cash and improper gifts, travel and entertainment to Chinese and South Korean government officials between 1998 and 2009.

From 1998 to 2003, employees of IBM Korea and joint venture LG IBM PC Co. paid $207,000 in cash bribes and gave improper gifts to South Korean government officials to secure the sale of IBM products, the complaint said.

It said that from 2004 to 2009, employees of IBM China provided overseas trips, entertainment and improper gifts to Chinese government officials.

"The misconduct in China involved several key IBM China employees and more than 100 IBM China employees overall," the complaint said.

IBM China employees "created slush funds at local travel agencies in China that were then used to pay for overseas and other travel expenses incurred by Chinese government officials," it said.

"In addition, IBM China employees created slush funds at its business partners to provide a cash payment and improper gifts, such as cameras and laptop computers, to Chinese government officials," it added.

"Deficient internal controls allowed employees of IBM's subsidiaries and joint venture to use local business partners and travel agencies as conduits for bribes or other improper payments to South Korean and Chinese government officials over long periods of time," the complaint said.

It said improper payments were recorded as "legitimate business expenses."

In a statement acknowledging the settlement, IBM said it "insists on the highest ethical standards in the conduct of its business and requires all employees to follow its policies and procedures for conducting business."

IBM shares were up 0.95 percent at$155.65 shortly before the closing bell on Wall Street.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sleep interrupted, Test while you rest



Sleeping while standing ... serious sufferers of sleep apnoea are so tired during the day that they can fall asleep at any time. – File photo
Sleep interrupted

By TAN SHIOW CHIN    starhealth@thestar.com.my



We often fail to realise how important sleep is to us until we don’t get enough of it.
WE spend about a third of our lives sleeping. Some of us enjoy escaping into this restful oblivion, while others  resent the intrusion of this act into the conscious part of our waking lives.

However, as studies (and torture methods) have shown, depriving oneself of sleep is a sure-fire way of losing one’s grip on reality.

I remember the last time I stayed awake for more than 24 hours – a couple of friends and I were having one of those deep, insightful conversations that lasted throughout the night during our college days.

I had an appointment the next morning, so off I went without a wink of sleep to meet another friend at a fast food restaurant. When I got there, the door of the restaurant refused to budge despite my Herculean efforts to pull it open, as per the sign on the door.

It took several minutes before my sleep-deprived brain caught up with the fact that while I had read and interpreted the sign properly as “Pull”, somewhere along the way, the scrambled neurons communicating with my arm were convinced that the act of pushing was actually pulling.

So there I was, trying to push the door open, while totally convinced that I was actually pulling it.
Fortunately, my body got its second wind after that, and I managed to stay sensible and fairly alert throughout the meeting and the journey back to my hostel, before I crashed out on my bed to pay my sleep debt.

 Inadequate sleep

While staying awake for more than 24 hours is not the norm for most people, the fact is, in our fast-moving, instant gratification and instant communication society, sleep is increasingly being sacrificed in order to do more, accomplish more, “live” more.

Says Philips Home Healthcare Solutions senior vice-president and chief medical officer Dr David White in an email interview: “People are simply too busy, do not manage time well, and have too many 24-hour entertainment options. Thus, sleep gets lost.”

Of course, like in most other countries, many Malaysians are caught up in trying to balance work, family and recreation, with sleep time often paying the price.

In the Philips Index for Health and Well-being: A Global Perspective Report 2010 published last November, 81% out of the 800 Malaysian adults interviewed said that they did not get enough sleep at night.

In comparison, the average number of adults who gave a similar answer was 69% out of over 31,000 respondents from 23 countries.

Over half of the Malaysian respondents blamed their lack of sleep on going to bed late at night and getting up early the next day.

Other less significant reasons included bring a poor sleeper (13%), and being worried or stressed out over life (8%).

While sleeping less might seem to be just a lifestyle choice, studies have shown that a chronic lack of sleep can lead not only to poor performance and decreased productivity, but also significant health consequences.

Among the possible effects of inadequate sleep are increased hunger and subsequent weight gain, decreased immune function, poor glucose control (contributing to the development of diabetes), increased blood pressure, and higher incidences of heart problems.

Sleepy people are also grumpy, irritable and unable to focus properly, which can lead to social problems, as well as cause work or car accidents.

Awareness of these effects seems to be generally low among Malaysians in the report, with only 35% saying that a lack of sleep affects their job performance a lot, and 42% agreeing that decreased sleep significantly affects their physical health.

Thirty-six percent of respondents also think that less sleep affects their mental health a lot, while 35% say it really affects their home life, and 30%, their relationships with others.

The lack of sleep is also a contributor to the stress levels of around 37% of the Malaysian respondents, with other contributing factors including losing their job, the economy, healthcare costs, their boss and having enough money to pay the bills.

Overall, an average of 42% of respondents from the 23 countries involved in the report said that trying to get enough sleep contributed a lot to the stress that they might feel.


Breath-less pause

The lack of sleep does not just mean not sleeping enough hours for your body to recharge properly, but also the quality of sleep you are getting.

For example, you may think that you are getting around eight hours of shut-eye every night, but if you keep waking up every other hour – even if you go back to sleep immediately after waking up – then, you’re not getting the quality sleep that you need.

While some people are aware of the disruptions to their sleep, others may be oblivious to it.
Consultant ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh says that the two major complaints usually relating to sleep are sleeping too well, and not being able to sleep.

The former problem is usually related to sleep apnoea, a medical condition where the patient stops breathing while he is asleep.

Apnoea can be divided into central apnoea, which is caused by a failure in the brain to properly regulate the breathing process, and obstructive apnoea, which is caused by the physical blockage of air into the lungs by the body’s own muscles and soft tissues.
Dr Kuljit estimates that around 75% to 80% of cases in his experience are obstructive apnoea, with the remainder being central apnoea or a combination of both.

While central apnoea comes under the purview of neurologists, obstructive apnoea is treated by ENT specialists.

Dr Kuljit explains that patients with obstructive apnoea suffer from a significant collapse of the muscles and soft tissues around their air passage (ie within their nose and throat) when they sleep – such that they cease to breathe adequately for the body’s needs.

When this happens, the body either wakes itself up, or moves from a deeper level of sleep into a more shallow one, to kickstart breathing again. (See Stages of sleep)

As many patients do not actually wake up during their apnoeic episodes, they are not aware that they have this problem. Oftentimes, it is their bed partner who notices their apnoeic episode.

According to Dr Kuljit, most people with this condition tend to feel groggy, irritable and tired throughout the day, despite having had six to eight hours of so-called uninterrupted sleep the night before.

“They feel so tired that they can fall asleep anywhere, at any time of the day,” he says.

Other warning signs of this condition include an irregular snoring pattern (although some apnoeic patients might not snore at all), obesity, especially with abdominal fat and a collar size of 17 inches or more, and other medical problems like heart conditions, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Dr Kuljit adds that this is a condition that can affect children, as well as adults, and the solution is usually surgical or the application of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) through a machine while sleeping.

No rest for the weary

On the other hand, many people are aware they have a problem when they face trouble falling asleep – a condition known as insomnia.

Stedman’s Concise Medical and Allied Health Dictionary (Illustrated Third Edition) defines insomnia as the “inability to sleep, in the absence of external impediments, such as noise, a bright light, etc, during the period when sleep should normally occur”.

The degree of insomnia can vary from restlessness during sleep to absolute wakefulness.
Dr White, who is also a Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, explains that there are a number of causes of insomnia.

They include:
  • ·Psychiatric disorders: The main ones being depression or anxiety states.
  • ·Medical conditions: This would include pain syndromes, respiratory disorders (asthma and emphysema), neurological disorders (Parkinson’s disease), etc.
  • ·Conditioned or psychophysiologic insomnia: These patients have a predisposition to insomnia (probably mild anxiety), and when faced with a stressful situation, develop insomnia. They then become so concerned about their sleep that further anxiety develops and a chronic insomnia develops.
  • ·Circadian rhythm disorders: Trying to sleep when your circadian clock says you should be awake. The most common examples are jetlag and shift work.
  • ·Other causes like drugs, etc.

As such, insomnia cases generally come under the area of psychiatry or neurology, with the exception of respiratory disorders, which will be managed by a respiratory physician.

Dr White says: “If a specific condition can be identified (eg depression), that should be treated specifically (ie with antidepressant medication). When that is not the case (conditioned insomnia), there are two general approaches.”

One approach is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which tries to modify the patient’s behaviour so that he or she will be able to sleep well; for example, through relaxation techniques and teaching the patient to associate their bed only with sleeping.

And the other is prescribing sleeping pills to the patient for the period they require.

When asked what is considered good quality sleep, Dr White says that good sleep quality is not a technical term, but simply means:
  •  ·Sleep was of adequate duration.
  • ·The individual was not waking up frequently (less than two to three times over the course of the night).
  • ·That there was acceptable sleep stage distribution with normal amounts of stages N1, N2, N3, and REM.
  • ·The person felt well rested the next morning.




Test while you rest

WHEN a doctor suspects a patient of having a sleep disorder, the next step is usually to send the patient for a sleep study.

This diagnostic test, also called a polysomnograph, monitors several physical and physiological parameters while the patient is asleep over the period of one night.

The most comprehensive test monitors the patient’s brain waves, heart rate and rhythm, eye movements, airflow, chin muscle tone, chest and abdominal movement, leg movement, body position, and oxygen saturation rate.

Previously, sleep studies could only be performed at sleep labs in medical centres, where a sleep technician would monitor them throughout the night.

Dzulkarnean (left) adjusts the sleep diagnostic system on Aida to ensure that it will not dislodge from the harness. Hidden are Thanapalan (in striped shirt) and Goodlabs Medical sales manager Low Meng Imm.
 
However, the availability of smaller and more mobile devices have enabled patients to undergo the test in the comfort of their own homes.

Sunday Metro reporter Aida Ahmad had the experience of undergoing a home sleep study, arranged by Philips Healthcare through their Malaysian distributor, Goodlabs Medical Sdn Bhd.

She shares her experience below:

“When I knew that I was going to participate in a sleep study, I was actually excited and was looking forward to it.

Moreover, I hadn’t been sleeping well, so this opportunity to find out why I was so sleep deprived was too good to miss. At first, I was told that it would involve me being hooked up to a machine and electrodes, while the sleep technicians, as they are called, would monitor my brain waves and sleep activity in a sleep lab.

A little too close for comfort, I thought, but I was willing to be the guinea pig in the name of science.

A sleep study is a test that records a variety of body functions during sleep. Instead of performing the test in a lab, the technicians decided that it would be better to conduct it in a place which would be more comfortable for me – my home. After all, this was a sleep study, and a conducive environment was essential to achieve proper results.

During the day, I was given specific instructions by the executive from the company which distributes the device, called the Alice PDx Sleep Diagnostic System. As I was supposed to be ‘hooked up’ at 9.30pm, specific instructions were to be followed on the day of the home sleep study.

One should not nap, consume coffee, tea or carbonated drinks, chocolates or any sleep aids (ie sleeping pills, sedatives, etc), wear any body lotion, face cream, make-up, jewellery, acrylic nails or nail polish.

So there I was, fresh after a shower and in my comfortable sleep wear. There were three people who came to my home – one sleep technician and two executives from the distribution company, Goodlabs Medical Sdn Bhd; although usually, only one sleep technician does the setting-up at the client’s home. I was also told that the gadget used to gauge all the essential functions was the mere size of an MP3 player with a few wires to boot.

Trying to fall asleep with the diagnostic system on.
 
I was wrong.
In the black bag (similar to a laptop bag) was the main gadget, sort of like a mini computer that stores and records data in a memory card.

This was followed by the unpacking of wires and electrodes (that were to be stuck on my head), adhesive gels, sensors and bands to go on one of my index fingers, chest and nose.

After a short briefing about the procedure, I began to wonder what I got myself into.
Unfortunately, it was too late to run far, far away, so I rose to the occasion and braced myself.

The sleep technician, Mohamad Dzulkarnean Mohamad Haniffa, first told me where the seven electrodes would be attached on my head. The entire procedure is actually painless. To attach the electrodes, he had to use a cleaning paste (like a facial scrub) to clean the areas on the back of my scalp, and my forehead. Then, the electrodes were dipped in a temporary adhesive paste and placed on my head.

About thirty minutes later, with seven electrodes on my head and two small sensor pads on my chest attached to colourful wires, I felt like I was part of a human cloning experiment.

Next, came the two bands, which were attached to my chest and waist to measure my breathing effort.
Lastly, I was hooked up with a temperature sensor to monitor airflow at my nostrils and mouth.

It took about an hour to attach everything, and when I looked at myself in the mirror, I thought I could really scare the staff at the American Embassy.

So, what is one supposed to do after this?
Sleep would be an appropriate answer. But actually, you can watch television, read a book or simply lie in bed until you fall asleep.

Don’t worry if you need to get up and use the bathroom in the middle of the night. But for convenience’s sake, try not to drink too much water before the procedure.

There is a way to interact with the device should you get up in the middle of the night. There is a Pause button you can press, so it doesn’t interrupt the data input.

In terms of sleeping positions, try not to roll onto your stomach for obvious reasons.
I slept quite well, I must say, despite all the wires and the fear that one or two might get entangled or dislodged from the device.

When I woke up, it took about 10 minutes to disengage myself from the shackles of medical research – meaning the electrodes and the sensor bands.

The device with all the accessory equipment was then picked up by Goodlabs Medical business manager (Sleep and Homecare Ventilation) B. Thanapalan to be taken back to the company for analysis and the production of the final report.

Thankfully, the results, which came back a few days later, showed nothing abnormal. So perhaps, I had just been sleep deprived, because sleep was a low priority for me. I know better now!”