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Taiping Lake Gardens Revisited

By Paul Chong

A Chinese by Descent An Australian by Consent

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Jalan Samanea Saman, Taiping Lake Gardens

Jalan Samanea Saman, Taiping Lake Gardens

In the words of George L. Peet ( in his A Journal in the Federal Capital), when he visited Taiping in 1933: “I know of no more lovely sight in this country than the Taiping gardens when the rays of the early morning sun are shining obliquely through their clumps of bamboo, palms and isolated trees scattered on islands among the expanse of water. One receives in that glorious half hour an experience of light in foliage that is quite unobtainable in England”.

The truth lies in the eyes of the beholder & the beauty is manifested in so many aspects beyond words of description. More pictures:

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It’s even grander & more spectacular with the century year-old rain trees lining the roads with their branches & foliages sweeping or more appropriately “raining” down over the roads onto the shimmering surface of the lake. Here’s a paradise for both amateur or professional photographers.

I guess those rain trees will forever endure & keep on attracting both local & foreign visitors. Other attractions include the Zoo, Monkey Forest, swimming & picnic spots where our carefree young days were spent, not to mention abundant fresh air sunshine. There was even a golf course in the days gone by.

Tin was first discovered & mined largely by the Chinese in the Matang & Larut District (where Taiping is sited) and when tin was depleted, the abandoned tin mine ground was donated by Chung Thye Phin as a recreation park for public use. In 1884 the gardens were planted with grasses, flowers and trees; a part of the gardens was fenced, to keep bulls out.

“The 64 hectares (160 acres) site was the first public garden (1880) in Malaya, and was cherished for its beauty; it has been well-maintained since its opening. There are ten scenic lakes and ponds, which highlight the gardens. Along Residency Road, near the gardens, were golden rain trees (Malay: angsana) (pterocarpus indicus) planted along the pathway.” – Wikipedia.

Taiping Lake Gardens was conceived as the brainchild of Colonel Robert Sandilands Frowd Walke r, developed by Charles Compton Reade (1880–1933), who was also responsible for planning the Kuala Lumpur garden town, together with Lady Swettenham.

Fortunately indeed, I still find the manicured green beneath my feet when I revisited there in late December 2014. Those days lawns were maintained by Indian labour using the scythe not the luxury of present day lawn mowers or tractor mowers or brush cutters. The fragrant smell of newly-cut lawns still taunt my age-old nostrils & after the abundant rainfall of Taiping (for which it’s famous), the scent filled the air even more.

Flamington Hotel

Flamington Hotel

Lots of improvement have come about in the Lake Gardens, visitors can now stay in 4.5 star Flamington Hotel (1 Jalan Samanea Saman, Taiping, Malaysia 34000) with 116 rooms. Lake View Hotel in the vicinity used to be grand in the days I got married. It’s now incomparable.

If you are an early riser, you can join the throngs of health conscious people having their morning jog or practising their “Taiji”. Others are out to catch the flight of morning birds & the glorious glow of morning sun rise over Maxwell’s Hills – a spectacular sight often missed & forgotten, as we tend to watch sunsets more than we ever get the chance to watch the rising sun.

As usual, after expending their energy, breakfast is most welcoming. The former durian ground has been converted to a food galore centre. Everybody’s favourite is the “chi-cheong-fun” & it’s not surprising for tourists to eat there & bundle home for their loved ones as well.

Taiping is no longer a “sleeping hollow”, even though it’s off the route of the North-South Highway link. Parking is a premium fight for space & traffic jam is something unheard of. With new roads & flyovers, new railway station, new shopping malls, hotels & multi-storey buildings, Taiping is well keeping in its growth & progress. True to its name, it has remained peaceful till the present day.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Family-Togetherness Brings Closeness

By Paul Chong
A Chinese by Descent
An Australian by Consent

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Kids grow up . . . we grow grey & old

Kids grow up . . . we grow grey & old

We get to be so engrossed in our daily lives that we tend to drift apart from our loved ones, especially when we live afar from each other. For weeks, months or years we may not have any contact, then family get together on account of an unexpected demise of someone dear. Sorrow & grief appear to draw people closer than happiness – that’s because your emotion is touched more by the loss. When a loved one passes away, it means also the passing away of a father, husband, grandfather, or brother. Grief covers friends as well. A period of mourning naturally follows. Have we ever considered contrarily to celebrate life . . . to focus on the positive side rather than all the negativeness of life?

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In this digital age there is no reason whatsoever why persons cannot keep in touch with the ease of instant communication, by & large free of charge, such as Email,Skype , FaceTime, WhatsApp, SMS & the like. It is inconceivable that people should fight shy of such devices, unless he or she chooses not to. Also in a family circle, some members besides being inward looking, develop attitude of aloofness.

Personally, there were nine of us siblings . . . one living in UK, one in Melbourne, three in Perth, one in Penang, one in Taiping & two in Kuala Lumpur. Now there are seven of us siblings left with the two in Kuala Lumpur gone. Ironically, living near could be distances apart when one focuses inwards rather than forward & outwards.

Family-togetherness is always such a pleasure. Over the years, family gets larger & larger . . . the young grow up & the elders grow grey & old. That togetherness can well be maintained these days, not necessarily physically but “electronically” as through such devices like WhatsApp with photo exchanges & conversation for all to participate in. Of course, every once a year or two, a family gathering is recommended over dinner with fun & recreation like karaoke. Be surprised to find lots of hidden talents among your own loved ones.

Weddings are special occasions to look forward to. Family holidaying together is also welcoming.

Oppo Oppo - China's New Mobile Smartphone

Oppo Oppo – China’s New Mobile Smartphone

Let’s move on with the advance of time lest you’d be lagging behind. It’s never too late to learn new things. Who said you can’t teach new tricks to old dogs? This old dog (at the “tender” age of 76) just been taught lots of new tricks electronically by his young niece, who has a pharmaceutical graduate daughter who could soon get married to make her a young grandmother. Just can’t imagine that her daughter is the oldest of my son’s generation!
So “Oppo . . . Oppo” here we go. My youngest brother Mike was spontaneous in his response . . . “Oppo Oppo . . . your grandsons may think it’s Hippo”. By the way, “Oppo” is a new Chinese brand of smartphone with capabilities that matches iPhone or Samsung! It’s tremendously good value. My excitement caused me to purchase another one for my dear wife, when I was happily skyping her from Malaysia. Surely she was not going to be left out!

Let not smartphone outsmart you!

Global interconnection

Global interconnection

I have maintained a personal blog http://p21chong.wordpress.com (and http://paulchong.net ) for a few years now with some 600 articles of various interests to share with one & all and enjoying over 860,000 hits
globally, except China.

Hopefully & prayerfully, the million hits target will come soon with your help . . . sharing messages worth spreading.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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A Stranger in His Country of Birth

By Paul Chong
A Chinese by Descent
An Australian by Consent

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Pernas Twin Towers

Pernas Twin Towers

I was born in Malaysia, a country I always refer to as the “Golden Chersonese” but have migrated to the “Lucky Country“ or “Down Under” (as it’s otherwise known). I have been away for 33 years, only returning briefly occasionally for family events.
Though I was born there, the government never consider any of us as “Bumiputra” – a term they use to distinguish people born there as “Sons/Princes of the Soil”. It’s a known fact that many of the so-called Melayu or Bumiputra are from foreign lands like India, Indonesia, Middle East & others. Discrimination & prejudices stare glaringly at your face, if you are a non-Malay. The unfairness & injustice cover every facet of your life – education, employment, opportunities & what more can I say.
A guided democracy practised without meritocracy.
Admittedly, I still have great sentiments attached to the country I left behind. My siblings & relatives are still living there. My grandparents, parents & two siblings including my parents-in-law are buried in the soil which the non-Malays cannot lay claims of ownership.
My alma mater in Taiping has an appearance alien to me. So is the premier
Anderson School in Ipoh where I taught for several years after my graduation from the University of Malaya in Pantai Valley, Kuala Lumpur.
I am grateful for the government teacher training scholarship at Kirkby, Liverpool, UK, and had served part of my five-year teaching contract in Flu Kelantan & Ipoh in Perak. Up to this point in time, most of us were happy & contented with our lives in Malaysia.

The scenario & political landscape took a drastic transformation after the May 13 Racial Riot & upheaval when the ruling UMNO lost their great majority. Tun Abdul Razak, father of the present Prime Minister Najib, ousted our beloved first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, set himself at the helm. He began to implement the New Economic Policy, switched the education medium of instruction from English to Malay, unjustifiably demanding 30% share of all businesses & enterprises for the Bumiputra “without any input of capital” . . . sheer daylight robbery…suffice for me to mention just a few. Tun Razak didn’t last long on the throne. His sudden death was quite unexpected.

Tun Razak started it all following up with Mahathir (someone who has lost his original root of descent) perpetuating the system & his supreme own brand of politics. Though much development has come about during his 22 years reign . . . much is best left unsaid. Abdullah Badawi, the Prime Minister after Mahathri, was an easy going kind of person, always caught sleeping at his job & in parliament. Najib, the five straight A’s Prime Minster, has developed “Najibism” apart from the existing Corruption & Nepotism. His slogan of 1Malaysia is appropriately replaced by such slogan as CNN (not the TV channel) but Corruption, Nepotism & Najibism.(Refer to my article on Najib: Straight A’s Malaysian Prime Minister (Thurs. 27 Nov. 2914).

The political landscape, economic management & the lack of meritocracy, law & order, media control all draw criticism from foreign press & commentators.

By & large the Chinese population which has dwindled to mere over 20% are complacent & unconcerned politically. As it is the Chinese are moist assiduous in their economic pursuit & are not likely to starve or be deprived of their business acumen, innovativeness & creativity in running businesses & enterprises.

As such, it was pointed out by past Deputy Prime Minister Musa Hitam who once said that the Chinese were themselves to be blamed for the present state of political situation. Needless to say, the less competitive Malays were kind of forced to be politically inclined & with political power, all other policies fall into their grip.

On the surface, everything seems quite normal. The Chinese work hard at their businesses, but only a sprinkle of them are ever found in government employment. They live well in suburbs sprouting up everywhere & having two cars in each home is quite common. But every home is gated with bars of steel for security – even though the suburb may have security in force. In some areas, even like Bungsa,
break-ins & robbery are common features that occur even in daylight. No one can really feel safe at home or in public.

Undoubtedly, Chinese feature in most economic activities, a vital link in the system from small eating stalls to corporate establishments. Not to be handicapped in other areas of human endeavour, they circumvent the system which closes all doors of opportunities available. Domestically, the best schools & tertiary education institutions are all reserved for the Malays. Nevertheless, the deprived non-Malays work hard to send their off-springs abroad & has often happened, after graduation, all these brainy graduates stay back to work & live in foreign lands. This brain drain is very evident. As Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore would say that the Malaysian government would sacrifice such losses in order to hang on to their political power.

There is a Malay saying: “Gaya mahu, lain lain tak apa” (meaning pride matters, others do not count). What a brilliant mentality.

The highways within the metropolitan Kuala Lumpur & the North-South link are both impressive. The alignment of the super highways, quite often choked with traffic jams especially during holidays & festive seasons, avoid passing through scenes of kampongs with their stilt attap & timber homes. Road houses & rest places are also impressive with businesses dominated & reserved for the Malays. But I have a lingering thought how much benefits really penetrated to the average folks living in rural areas. The political UMNO cows are well fed & enriched is a known fact.

The ruling UMNO-Baru knows how to keep the peasant Malays happy by building mosques everywhere. Religion is such a useful political tool. Votes are easily bought with monetary bribes, constitutional change of voting boundaries, importing undesirable immigrants so long they are Muslims or vow allegiance to the UMNO Party by voting to keep them in power. Politics is such a dirty game!

Malaysia with its wealth of resources such as gas & oil, should have stayed ahead in economic terms of its Asian neighbours. Instead it is lagging behind its immediate neighbour Singapore, only a City State without any natural resources. Malaysia pales in significance when compared to the Indonesians.

What is going to happen when the oil & gas run out? The greatness of a nation cannot rely just on its natural resources – more tangibly & important is the human resources. Therein lies the wealth of the nation.

The concept of “easy comes easy goes” will soon spells disasters. When the going is rough & tough, the tough get going, but for the weak & life-time of takers they will sink beneath the economic quagmire. After all survival is always for the fittest.

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Malaysia Boleh

Gaya sampai poket kosong!

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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AAI – Community Service With A Difference

A Christmas Gift  . . .

AAI – Asian Australian Initiative Inc.

Registered No: AA1007004H  (20 November 2012/Perth WA) 

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I FOUND IT . . . I FOUND IT . . . I FOUND IT!

* Something good, something wonderful . . .stimulating & exciting
* Something which YOU & I can share with each other while fulfilling 
  our service to the community
* It’s a NGO with a difference and the difference grows  
* Both men & women are welcomed, provided you have a sense for 
  community service and a willingness to spare some time & effort
* Lunch/Dinner meetings will be interesting on a fortnightly basis . . .
  guest speakers, invited guests, fun, jokes & laughter 

All nations of fraternity & fellowship of the esteem

No mandatory age limit

. . . ALL happening in good time right here in Perth!

We are looking for serious-minded people who would want to create history & leave behind a legacy.
Make your life interesting & meaningful.

Contact: paul.chong33@gmail.com

See YOU at the Top!

IMG_0522 - Version 2

Paul Chong

Founding Chairman & President

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Crisis Breeds Opportunities for Russia

By Paul Chong A Chinese by Descent, An Australia by Consent
Tuesday, 23 December 2014

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Vladimir Putin – Russia’s Unyielding Man

To every action there’s the usual opposite reaction. Such is the Law of Nature which operates in every sphere of our lives. Seeds of opportunities are sown by crisis, and progressive human beings are quick to perceive these seeds of opportunities. Negative people see nothing & are drown further in the quadmire.

Putin’s Russia has been assaulted by the US & its European running dogs & UK too without exception. They are all out to kill Russia with economic sanctions & political seclusion . . . the result of which has seen the Russian rouble tumbling down to 50%. Can Russia withstand the onslaught? Will it fight back? Whatever is conceived can be most frightening. The West obviously is dangerously pushing towards the nuclear warfare. If it must be, it will be the end of mankind to say the least. There will be no winner or loser!

The unexpected result is a closer liaison between China & Russia. China has indicated it would help Russia, so what is the rest of the world going to respond? The alliance is stronger than ever – a formidable force.

War is never a solution. War destroys rather than builds. Putin is not a man to fool with, and under his calm disposition, wisdom dwells, strategies abound & pretty sure he can still wave his magic wand.

Russia’s rich resources of oil & gas must not be their total economic dependents. Diversification of productivity is raising its head to the rescue.

Russia faced crises before in no small measures. In the 1990s, 2008, and especially 1998 when Russia defaulted on its bonds. Rouble plunged sharply & crisis seemingly worsened. Russian leadership learnt one of the most important lessons of survival that along that along with dangers, crises also present opportunities.

With 30% fall in oil prices brought on by the present crisis, Russia just needs to push forth its diversification program & diversify its economy away from its dependence on exporting natural resources. Newepoilicies, innovations & ideas would flow & crisis will be overcome & the nation will take a different path of growth & progress.

A country of pride would rather die on its feet than live on its knees.

Source: China Daily

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Link

Source: BMJ-British Medical Journal

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Eating a diet from this region might help extend your lifespan, suggests a study. The diet appears to be associated with longer telomere length — an established marker of slower aging.
The Mediterranean diet has been consistently linked with health benefits, including reduced mortality and reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease.
It is characterised by a high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes (such as peas, beans and lentils), and (mainly unrefined) grains; a high intake of olive oil but a low intake of saturated fats; a moderately high intake of fish, a low intake of dairy products, meat and poultry; and regular but moderate intake of alcohol (specifically wine with meals).

Telomeres sit on the end of chromosomes (like the plastic tips on the end of shoelaces), stopping them from fraying and scrambling the genetic codes they contain. In healthy people, telomeres shorten progressively throughout life, more than halving in length from infancy to adulthood, and halving again in the very elderly.
Shorter telomeres are thus associated with lower life expectancy and greater risk of age-related diseases. Lifestyle factors, such as obesity, cigarette smoking, and consumption of sugar sweetened drinks, have all been linked to people having shorter telomeres than typically occur in people of a similar age. Oxidative stress and inflammation have also been shown to speed up telomere shortening.
Given that fruits, vegetables, and nuts — key components of the Mediterranean diet — have well known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, a team of US researchers, led by Immaculata De Vivo, Associate Professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, set out to examine whether adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with longer telomere length.risk of chronic diseases
They analysed data on 4,676 healthy middle-aged women from the Nurses’ Health Study — an ongoing study tracking the health of more than 120,000 US nurses since 1976. Participants completed detailed food questionnaires and had a blood test to measure telomere length.
A diet score ranging from 0-9 points was calculated for each participant, with a higher score representing a closer resemblance to the Mediterranean diet.
After adjusting for other potentially influential factors, the results show that greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet was significantly associated with longer telomeres. Each one point change in diet score corresponded on average to 1.5 years of telomere aging.
However, none of the individual dietary components was associated with telomere length, underlining the importance of examining dietary patterns in relation to health, not just separate dietary factors such as intake of whole grains, say the authors.
“To our knowledge, this is the largest population-based study specifically addressing the association between Mediterranean diet adherence and telomere length in healthy, middle-aged women,” they write. “Our results further support the benefits of adherence to the Mediterranean diet for promoting health and longevity.”

A Mediterranean diet is the cornerstone of dietary advice in cardiovascular disease prevention, and the fact that it also links with a biomarker of slower aging is reassuring, says Professor Peter Nilsson from Lund University, Sweden in an accompanying editorial.
He suggests that genetic background factors, reflecting ancestry, could probably explain some of the variation in the association between dietary patterns and telomere length, and that future studies on this question “should take into account the possibility of interactions between genes, diet, and sex.”

So, fruits, vegetables & nuts are good for you!

SOURCE: http://bma.org.uk

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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China’s President Xi Jinping – Leader of Leaders

By Paul Chong – A Chinese by Descent, An Australia by Consent (Friday 19/12/14)

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Xi Jinping just got to be a very special person to be
at the helm of the country with 1.3 billion. He went
through the mills of every facet of leadership training & testing, through the rank & file before being appointed as China’s President. He’s wise, knowledgable, tough, fearless but not dangerous.

Here is a man who was groomed for the job.

His vast experiences have come to shape his speedy decisions & policies.

It’s said that some men are born great, others achieve greatness & still others have greatness thrust upon them.
You’d be the judge & jury on this point.

Xi Jinping (born 15 June 1953) is the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, the President of the People’s Republic of China, and the Chairman of the Central Military Commission. As Xi holds the top offices of the party, state, and military, he is sometimes informally referred to as China’s “paramount leader”. As General Secretary, Xi is also an ex officio member of the Politburo Standing Committee, China’s de facto top decision-making body.
The whole process of his positional attainment is essentially meritocratic, quite unlike Obama merely through a monetary process of democracy.
As I see it, there’s no merit on how an American ascends the Presidential throne. It’s all money politics, helped by financial supporters & sponsors, gift of the gap & rhetoric and in the case of Obama with the promise of “change”. Indeed, Obama did bring about changes for the US . . . from the position of victory to being vanquished economically by China.

Democracy is demo-crazy* as is depocrisy* (Two new words not in the dictionary yet).

The Rise of China’s Xi Jinping

Taller than most of his predecessors, he’s a man of substance & vision. He knows where he’s leading China to & since his accession he’s been exerting his influence on a wider global scale with his brand of leadership – fearless but not dangerous.
His rhetoric is written in deeds . . . not just mere verbal convention or rhetoric. Here’s someone acting his role as a real leader with none to compare. His book “The Governance of China”is to be read & we’ll be hearing more from & about him.

Sure enough, it’s just been announced that Chinese President Xi Jinping was the highest rated world leader in many fields, according to a survey published by Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.

This is not being conferred ironically the Nobel Peace Prize on President Barrack Obama, who waged more wars than all the other past Presidents.

In terms of ratings of their own leaders in their respective countries, Xi was the highest rated leader with a nine out of 10 rating. Russia’s Putin followed with an 8.7 with India’s Modi and South Africa’s Jacob Zuma rounding out the top. When it came to how the 10 leaders are rated by people in other countries, Xi also fared the best, with Modi, Merkel and Zuma trailing.

Xi is highly respected in Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe.

The Chinese president had the highest average score, at 7.5, based on international scoring. With the exception of Japan, he is reasonably well received in all countries in this survey, according to the analysis of Anthony Saich, a China expert at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Findings also show that 93.9 percent of Chinese respondents claimed to pay attention to President Xi.
In regards to the confidence citizens have in how their own leaders handling of domestic and international affairs, President Xi topped the list in both categories at 94.8 percent and 93.8 percent respectively. In second on the list was Indian Prime Minister Modi with 93.2 percent and 93.3 percent respectively. Russian President Putin came in third with 86.2 percent and 86 percent.

The ten national leaders used in the survey are Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South African President Jacob Zuma.

The survey questioned people from 30 countries in total, 12 from Asia (China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Pakistan, India, Israel and Saudi Arabia), 4 from Africa (Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa), 4 from the Americas (United States, Canada, Brazil and Chile), 8 from Europe (Russia, Ukraine, France, United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Italy and Finland) and 2 from Oceania (Australia and New Zealand).

In short, the findings cannot be disputed. It does make the Chinese proud – not just in China but right round the world.

Source: China Daily & Wikipedia

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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