The Star Online used my photo without permission and without payment

I was quite surprised to see one of my photos being used in a feature video of the headlining exclusive on The Star Online today.

The Star Online Screenshot
Screenshot taken from “Killed by heat, not drugs” on The Star Online

This photo was taken by me and published on my blog 25th July 2003 and clearly has my “” watermark intentionally obscured. This is the original image:

White MX Ecstasy pill

It came from the blog post “Ecstasy pill reports: Yellow Tp and White mx (Melbourne)“.

This has happened a lot of times before (with other newspapers) and I’m going to email the writer to send them my rates, based on the National Union of Journalists. I’m outraged that the photo had been used in a way that made my watermark moot. There is a clear text overlay stating “FILE” or “(Date of publication)” in all other photos used in the video.

My photo was used in the video for almost 5 seconds (from 2:00 to 2:04) without my permission by The Star, who should know better.

3 random things I haven’t blogged about

1. Sea jacuzzi photo in Sin Chew

Photo from

I just found out about this last week from Twitter. Thanks Jessy! It’s an article about my last trip to Langkawi. I’m the one with the red phoenix tattoo on my chest, holding on to the net with one hand. Heh.

The link above to the post is in Chinese, which I can’t read, so I used the auto-translate feature in Chrome – it’s about the trip, the sea jacuzzi was fun, going to post about that sometime. πŸ™‚

2. Full 30 minute interview video on Bernama Radio24

I was on Bernama Radio24 to speak on “The Lounge” a couple of months ago – I posted about my interview on radio before but I didn’t have the link to the YouTube video. You can see the entire 30+ minute radio interview below if you missed it the first time round.

It also shows the inside of the studio and me and Gerald’s expressions and gestures – it’s for an hour long talk show segment, this is the entire almost 40 minute interview, the rest of the time are filled with songs and such. Thanks for the link Junsern! πŸ™‚

3. NuffnangX

I was at the launch of NuffnangX Malaysia and have been using the beta of NuffnangX before it was released. Interesting concept, it makes reading blogs on a smartphone so much easier, as I found out one day when I was waiting for the laundry to open in my car. Heh.


That’s a customized USB drive made to look like a business card with a personalized β€œ” stamped on it with the beta version inside. I love collecting USB drives, this is one of my more unique ones.

Follow me on NuffnangX! πŸ™‚

That’s a wrap for media related news. Have an awesome weekend everyone!

Snail mail from Nicole Tan

nicole mail

I just came back from a really enlightening conversation about life and relationships in general to a dark house and picked up two pieces of mail – one was for my car insurance premium for RM 1,704.60 (=_=!!!) which I have to pay before next month and the other was a padded largish envelope.

star metro

The writing at the back says “Sorry it took so long, but here you are”. It’s the autographed copy of The Star from two months back with a feature of me by Nicole on

star leaf

I have read the article in the online version of The Star and was surprised at the more positive key in the actual paper.


The front page Saturday Metro text has Drug blogger turns over a new leaf” which is a much better angle than the “Former drug blogger comes clean about his past” headline that the online version features.

star metro kissed

I asked Nicole for an autographed copy of the paper and she finally got around to sending it to me. πŸ˜‰ The article is an interview about and my experience as a drug blogger in the past and how I’ve turned my life around.

nicole auto

Nicole wrote “To Huai Bin, Hope you continue to thrive in life, be happy in whatever you do” on the top of the article…


…and autographed the bottom with “You’ve been Nicolekiss-ed!!” πŸ™‚

Thanks for sending me the papers Nicole, much appreciated! I like the article in the off-line version, it’s much more positive.

Harian Metro

Well, at least it can’t get any worse than this. πŸ˜‰

Deadline: 3rd December, 2005

Harian Metro
[Image from Harian Metro Ahad]

I have been contacted by the authorities and I’ve agreed to delete
all drug and pharmaceutical related posts in two days (before this
Saturday – GMT +8). I will not write about drugs and pharmaceuticals in
the future on this blog.

I hope that all of you understand why I have to do this – the alternative is very
unsavory. I will still continue to write about other things (alcohol
and tobacco is still okay, as is all legal things) on and
I hope that you can understand and accept the decision I’ve made.

RIP to the first drug blog in Malaysia with photos and videos.

2002 – 2005

It was good while it lasted…

Thanks to:
Sashi []
Lainie []
John Kuan []
mahagurusia []
Shaolin Tiger []
mmulibra []
annabella []
Applegal []
asiapundit []
cyber-red []
laineylashes []
Lainie []
loquterz []
kimberlycun []
Terenceg []
Silly Wabbit []

and everyone else who showed their support during this difficult
time. Thank you everyone – from the bottom of my heart, as always.

Viva la veritas!

Photos of me in the newspapers (yes, again, again)

march 18 huygens 1

There was a thing (yes, a thing) going on at the Civic
Center in Kuching yesterday and ntv7, RTM, Vision 8, etc (basically the
entire alphabet soup) were there as well as major papers from Malaysia.

march18 huygens 2

Most of them featured the guest of honor (not us, the big wigs, it
wasn’t a press conference for us), but surprisingly one of the papers
did print a full page story of us. I did manage to position myself in
front of several press photographers and rolling TV cameras but I don’t
know if I managed to get my ugly ass on the air coz I don’t have TV.

march18 scanned me

I got into Sin Chiew Jit Poh, one of the largest Chinese dailies
though…here’s a scanned image of me. Unfortunately, the shot didn’t
have one of my much lauded Kung Fu Hustle (TM) poses. The images in
this post are all from Sin Chiew Jit Poh.

Oh, mirror mirror on the wall, who is the biggest publicity whore of them all? πŸ˜‰

MBKS news coverage – photos of me in major papers!

papers stack

I have managed to get my photo in SIX newspapers! =D There was a
press release yesterday afternoon organized by MBKS (South Kuching
Council) for the CCTV system we installed for them. Our company
actually specializes in remote surveillance solutions, but we can and
do provide conventional security solutions as well, and this one has an
option to upgrade to off-site monitoring and recording.

Sin Chew Daily

sin chew macro

This paper gave us (meaning me ;)) the best photo coverage. Although
it’s not front page, it more than makes up for it with the multiple
color photos. It’s on page five of today’s paper and I took great pains
to stand as close to the mayor as physically possible to increase the
probability of my photo appearing in the papers. πŸ˜‰

sin chew 1

Here’s a close look at the first photo. It probably helped that I
gave out my business card to every press photographer and turned on my
charms on the predominantly Chinese female photographers. πŸ˜‰

sin chew 2

This is the second photo. I can’t read Chinese, but my coworkers
told me that my name is also mentioned in there along with my position
(System Engineer). I was asked for my Chinese name, which I can’t
write, but a helpful reporter managed to get it right for me. πŸ™‚ I can
recognize the characters, I just can’t write it.

The Borneo Post

borneo post macro

I got into the second page of The Borneo Post, which had a black and
white photo, but it was a good one nevertheless. It’s the largest
English daily over here too.

International Times

intl times macro

This one gave us front page coverage. woot! Color photo, and the caption has my name and position too.

Utusan Sarawak

utusan sarawak macro

The largest BM paper put us on page 3, with a B&W photo. I’m
“Jurutera Sistem Encik Poh Huai Bin”. πŸ˜‰ The caption reads: Pilot
project…The mayor of MBKS Mr Chan Seng Khai (middle) listening to the
explanation of the functions of the CCTV system that was installed in
the MBKS building grounds from System Engineer Huygens Asia Sdn. Bhd.
(Huygens) Mr Poh Huai Bin (left). Also seen is the Marketing Manager
Mr. Ainsey Lai KC (right) in Kuching, yesterday.

See Hua Daily News

see hua macro

This one gave us a large front page splash and a large column. It’s good. πŸ™‚

United Daily News

united daily macro

This is the paper that scooped all the others yesterday. It gave us
front page again, with a color photo. This is the sixth paper that has
a photo of me. There were other papers covering the press release, but
those were only text only or didn’t have photos. I managed to get into
every single photo that has the mayor in it. πŸ™‚

United Daily News features photo of me

united daily huygens

I graced the pages of the United Daily News today. Unfortunately, it
was just a back shot of me. The article spans a whole page and the
photo of me is here:

united daily mbks

I’m the one in the purple shirt. The one in the blue shirt is my
coworker and the only one with the visible face is my CTO, Alex.

united daily photo

Here’s a closer look at the photo. I think the paper wanted to scoop
all the others by one day since the official press conference was held
today. Look for photos of me in the papers tomorrow, coz being the
publicity whore I am, I stood as close to the mayor of MBKS as
possible, thus increasing the probability of my photo appearing in the
papers. πŸ˜‰

My apologies for not posting much and not being able to reply the
comments today, I’m swamped with work and I’ll have to fly to Sibu
tomorrow again to oversee another installation. It’s part of the work I
do, even though I mostly develop systems and do R&D, I also propose
solutions and supervise the deployment of it. in The Sunday Times, Print Edition

blog sunday times letter

I received a print copy of the article this blog’s URL appeared in,
courtesy of The Straits Times (The Sunday Times), Singapore Press
Holdings. It came in a cardboard reinforced envelope today. was mentioned in an article in The Sunday Times
[] last week. I wrote an email to the author of the
article with my opinion and also to request for a hard copy of the
article and they obliged and gave me a free copy. Thanks!

blog sunday times compliments

The two pieces were clipped with a note saying “With Compliments – Singapore Press Holdings”.

blog sunday times blurb

This is the front page of the paper, where the blurb was.

blog sunday times page

This is the main article – it spans a whole page.

blog sunday times mention

This is the bit where my blog was mentioned.

blog sunday times hazel

Hazel [] also sent me a copy, thanks for that!

Any publicity is good publicity! πŸ˜‰

This is the email I wrote for anyone who’s interested in reading it:

Hello, this is Huai Bin from One of my readers notified me of the blog’s URL appearing in your article.

Anyway, a lot of benzodiazepine users do have an existing issue,
which makes them prone to self-administration and the escalation of
dosages as needed.
Granted, this is dangerous behavior as benzodiazepines are physically
addictive and to quit “cold turkey” after a prolonged period of
consumption may result in life threatening seizures, much like acute
alcohol withdrawal, but worse.

Personally, I do have social anxiety disorder, I’m constantly
worrying about what others are thinking about me and those thoughts are
usually delusional and paranoid in nature. Benzodiazepines have helped
me a lot – I’m more comfortable around people, that helps me
communicate better and I find that I’m more productive at work.

Your article seems to paint a negative light towards self-medicating
people like us. It’s understandable, I feel strongly about certain
issues too. However, if you don’t mind, let me voice my opinion on the

Brutally honest, Michael admits that being on drugs has stunted him
emotionally: ‘My thinking, my personality, it’s still that of a 16 year
old. I still throw tantrums.’

I have to say that this is a classic benzodiazepine rebound side
effect after bzd dependant people quit. It’s due to the way benzos work
– they bind to the bzd receptors in the GABA region of the brain, which
regulates, amongst other things, sleep and acts as a natural agent that
calms people down.

“Michael” is not throwing temper tantrums and being “emotionally
stunted” or immature. He’s just agitated because the brain is used to
having benzodiazepines binding and activating the GABA in the brain,
and now it’s not.

An analogy of this would be someone driving down the road, relaxed,
when another driver swerves in and cuts the driver off and provokes the
driver by preventing any attempts to overtake the offending vehicle.
The driver is stressed out – GABA production is unable to cope with the
stress hormones, and thus, they get angry and would probably “throw a
tantrum” or do something violent.

In time, the effects are reversible and the brain grows to expect
less and less bzd receptor binding and GABA production, though this
usually takes a while (years) before it returns to normal levels, which
is where the importance of tapering (slowly reducing doses over a
period of a year or more) comes in.

Benzodiazepines, like alcohol, acts as a disinhibitor. It’s unfair
to portray benzodiazepine users as criminals and petty thieves.

Alcohol is another GABA agonist (it enhances GABA production) – it
would be accurate to make allusions towards alcohol and benzodiazepine
dependency, as they work basically the same way, by (in)direct GABA
stimulation, just like the barbiturate group of drugs before

To single out benzo users as somehow more prone to commit crime is,
forgive me for the use of this term, just spreading fear, uncertainty
and doubt (FUD, I’m sure you’re familiar with this phrase). The
tendency has to be in there in the first place for it to happen.

It won’t turn church going Christians into deviant rapists
overnight…unless, of course, they were already suppressing that urge
in the first place. It’s just a disinhibitor, like alcohol, no more, no

Anyway, I thank you for reading my email and cheers for mentioning
my blog’s URL in your article, although I would have described it
differently. πŸ™‚ I never meant for it to be a forum for drug recipes, I
do not respond to chemistry related questions. However, intellectual
discourse is encouraged, so long as no dealing or soliciting is going

Thank you for your time Salma, and if it’s not too much to ask,
could I have a copy of the print edition of The Sunday Times on 20th
June 2004 (the one with your article)? My mailing address is:

Poh Huai Bin
(deleted my postal address)

I will be willing to pay for the postage and your trouble. Please
get back to me if you can, I can be reached at and I
would appreciate it if you could get back to me about the status of the
print edition.

Thanks for your time, Salma, and have a nice week ahead. πŸ™‚

Huai Bin in Singapore’s newspaper

Thanks for the tip off, Kristian.,4386,257247,00.html

The link expired, here is the emailed version, courtesy of The Sunday Times:


This message was forwarded to you from Straits Times Interactive ( by

Are they drug dealers with stethoscopes?
by Salma Khalik

MICHAEL, 36, has a list of 20 doctors whom he calls ‘sellers’.
These are general practitioners (GPs) who willingly sell sleeping pills
to addicts.

These GPs don’t bother with consultation. They charge $3 to $5 a pill for Dormicum and $12 for Erimin.

The man who calls himself Michael is a former computer technician
and a drug addict for 20 years. He told The Sunday Times: ‘It takes
just 1 1/2 minutes to get the pills from them.’

Those 90 seconds or so are the sum total of the doctor’s
‘treatment’ – all the time he needs to check when he last prescribed
pills to this patient. To satisfy health authorities that they are not
overprescribing, they stick to the guideline of a pill a day.

This cynical approach to rules designed by the health authorities
to protect addicts from themselves may be at the core of a worrying
change in Singapore’s drug culture. Over the past decade or so,
effective police action has reduced access to hard drugs like heroin
and cannabis. The addicts’ solution: prescription drugs.

More interested in profits than healing, unscrupulous GPs are
believed to have already turned Dormicum and Erimin sales to addicts
into a sizeable business. Doctors are the addicts’ main suppliers: An
Institute of Mental Health (IMH) survey found that three in four
addicts got their supply from GPs. The black market accounted for only
22 per cent.

Each pill costs a doctor just a few cents to buy. The selling price
of a Dormicum pill ranges from about 70 cents at public hospitals to
about $5 at some private clinics, with most selling it at $3. Dormicum
pills alone can bring in thousands of dollars a month for a clinic. If
a doctor freely sells both Erimin and Dormicum, well, he won’t have to
do much doctoring to earn a good income.

Since 1990, the Singapore Medical Council has censured 18 doctors
for prescribing sleeping pills too freely to patients – with six dealt
with this year alone. Several other doctors are now under investigation
for this breach of professional conduct.

But the practice continues, and not just in Singapore. There are
Internet chatrooms – like weblog – where addicts share
their favourite drug recipes and experiences.

There is no shortage of supplies. No one seems to know exactly how
many sleeping pills are imported into Singapore. The Health Ministry
does not keep records of the 79 different brands and generic
benzodiazepines – a category that includes Dormicum, Erimin, Valium and
Xanax – that are allowed in. But people in the know estimate an annual
import of between 25 million and 30 million benzodiazepine pills.

Either taken on their own or in a cocktail mixture with other
drugs, alcohol or even Coca-Cola, the sleeping pills can give a feeling
of well-being, or in Michael’s words, make ‘everything more beautiful’.

Called hypnotics or depressants, Erimin, Dormicum and the like are
highly addictive. If taken long term, they can damage internal organs,
cause memory failure and weaken muscles.

Moreover, society suffers. An IMH survey of 50 such addicts found
that at least a third of them shoplifted while under the influence of
the drugs.

Michael has been arrested and thrown into jail several times for
this. But he can’t recall doing it at all. All he remembers is waking
up in prison and being charged with the crime.

He was sent for drug rehabilitation, but relapsed the moment he was
out. As he put it: ‘Sobriety brings clarity. With clarity comes
responsibility. And responsibility sucks.’

In 1998, in an attempt to keep a lid on such addiction, the Health
Ministry set a cap on the amount each clinic is allowed to buy. Clinics
are permitted a maximum of 12,000 Erimin and 21,600 Dormicum pills a

In 2002, the ministry issued warnings that one pill a day for just two weeks could lead to addiction.

But this guideline seems to have had little effect. Michael and his
sleeping-pill addict friends, who take more than a pill a day, visit an
average of five GP clinics a month for their supply. Doctor-hoppers
have an average of 12 doctors prepared to prescribe for them. One
person went to 23 different doctors.

The addicts identify three supplier categories: pure ‘sellers’ who
aren’t the least interested in the people asking for such pills;
‘reluctant’ GPs, who charge high for the pills, claiming that this is
to discourage addiction; and ‘concerned’ GPs, who try to help them
overcome their need while still supplying them with the pills.

Says Dr Munidasa Winslow, head of IMH’s Community Addictions
Management Programme (Camp): ‘In private practice, you have to be both
businessman and doctor.

‘The vast majority of doctors practise ethical medicine, but there
will be some who are more businessmen then doctors. It is highly
competitive and there is a lot of pressure on doctors to give patients
what they want.’

Singapore can’t just stop the pills’ import as the drugs have real
medical value. Dormicum, for example, is often used to sedate patients
undergoing a colonoscopy to check for cancer and other problems in
their large intestines.

People doing shift work may also have difficulty getting enough
sleep, because their body clocks get disoriented by changing sleep

Most hospitals and clinics don’t stock Erimin, because this
Japanese product is a controlled drug and involves a lot of paperwork.
Non-doctors caught selling it can be jailed 10 years and given five
strokes of the cane.

Clinics that do prescribe Erimin buy an average of 6,000 pills a
year. Most clinics stock Dormicum and they buy about 2,400 to 3,000
pills a year.

Yet last year, 23 clinics bought the maximum of 12,000 Erimin pills
and 12 clinics bought the maximum 21,600 pills allowed for Dormicum.

Before 1998, when no limits were placed on the number of pills
clinics could buy, sleeping pill revenues were even higher. Some
clinics circumvented the Health Ministry cap by opening more outlets.

Grace Polyclinic was one such clinic. It was in the news recently
when its doctor-owner was struck off the medical register and no longer
allowed to practise. Seven of its other doctors are either under
investigation by the Singapore Medical Council or have been censured
for grossly overprescribing sleeping pills. The clinic had seven
outlets each buying the maximum 12,000 Erimin tablets a year. Each
outlet also bought between 3,600 and 19,800 of the less lucrative 15mg
Dormicum pills in 2000 and 2001. Six of the seven outlets have since

Dr Winslow suspects that a surge of sleeping pill addicts in the
1990s followed successful police crackdowns that made heroin and
cannabis more difficult to get. With their drug sources drying up,
addicts had to look for alternatives, and these were readily available.

This was what happened in Michael’s case.

He started his drug trip when he was in his late teens. He wanted
to be ‘one up’ on his school mates. So while they smoked cigarettes, he
puffed on marijuana.

A few years later, he progressed to heroin. Being a drug addict was
an expensive vice. He would spend about $60 a day to get his fix. He
once splurged $4,000 on a two-week binge.

‘I had to be manipulative and scheming to get the money for drugs,’
he says. When he couldn’t borrow or steal the money, he would help his
colleagues with their work, and suggest they thank him with cash.

It was partly the high cost – the price for one straw of heroin
shot from $7 to $8 in the late 1980s to $15 to $20 in the mid-1990s –
and partly the increasing difficulty of getting heroin that pushed him
towards sleeping pills and high-codeine cough mixtures.

He needed as much as $90 a day for heroin, but only about $30 for pills.

Dr Winslow says addiction is an expensive business as addicts would
spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month to satisfy their
cravings. Since early last year, more than 200 sleeping-pill addicts
have sought cures at IMH. Three in four addicts surveyed by the IMH
said GPs were not interested in discussing their plight.

Breaking the addiction is far more difficult than getting hooked.
Michael, who is married ‘to a saint who has stuck by me’ and has two
young children, is now entirely cured.

But he still attends therapy because the temptation to return to a
drug-induced paradise is everywhere. Every time he goes to the toilet
(where he used to hide to take his drugs), ‘I think of how beautiful
life was,’ he says. ‘Everything I see is a trigger.’

Brutally honest, Michael admits that being on drugs has stunted him
emotionally: ‘My thinking, my personality, it’s still that of a 16 year
old. I still throw tantrums.’

It was to help people like him that the IMH set up its addiction clinic.

Ms Catherine Dong, the Camp psychologist who did the survey on
addicts, thinks that just treating patients is not enough. She wants
something done at the source of such suffering.

Her suggested solution: a national registry of benzodiazepine users so addicts can’t doctor-hop.

Such a move would involve considerable paper work, but it should
drastically reduce the amount of such pills available to addicts.
Addicts can also be identified and sent for treatment. It would not
only cut down on addiction, but also shoplifting and other crimes that
go hand-in-hand with drug abuse.

Quote: There are Internet chatrooms – like weblog – where addicts share their favourite drug recipes and experiences.
The Straits Times, Singapore

This kind of publicity, I don’t need. I have received news from
another friend who tells me that my residence will be violated very
soon. I have to do housekeeping, excuse me.

Kinetic power doesn’t deplete natural resources


I’m going to Powerstation’s concert/autographing session tonight at
the Sibu Civic Center. See Hua (a local Chinese newspaper) had an
advertisement running the whole week on their front page, where you can
cut out the ad and pay another RM10 (A$5) to redeem a ticket at their
headquarters. Powerstation is a Hong Kong band which mostly plays cover
songs with a twist but I like their sound. They’re actually called Dong
Li Huo Cher (direct translation: kinetic powered train) but their
official English moniker is Powerstation. Go figure.

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