Saturday, October 11, 2008

Of derak and doktong

I am aware of doktong, it’s Terengganu word for bertandang or short visit to neighbor’s house though not necessarily in a positive tinge. We don’t use the word melawat or n’awak (not n’awok – careful with the pronunciation) because it is normally used to mean paying last respect.

Che’ Mang tak dok dumoh, ye gi n’awak orang mati, arwoh Aji Usok laki Aji Yang. (Encik Man is not at home, he went to pay his last respect to the late Haji Yusof, husband of Hajjah Mariam)

The word doktong is normally used in anger or in spite.

Tu lah mung, ari-ari gi doktong rumoh Jaroh. Nasi laki mung pong mung dok nanok. (That’s so you, everyday dropping in at Zaharah’s house. You don’t even cook for your husband.)

D’erak is also about visiting. Funny I only learn of the word this Raya, in Salwa’s skype message. It (according to Shida) means visiting – a day long, ‘sapa garek’ (right up to Maghrib) hopping from one house to another.

Kita orang KL ni, kalu balik Raya sariang gi derak jelah. Dokleh dok dumoh, sedara mara rama nok kena jupe. (We KLite’s. when back for Raya, will be visiting a whole day long. Can’t stay home with all the relatives to visit)

And so, with all the people berderak at my house, we just can’t go doktong etek.

But it’s been a wonderful Raya.

Happy 47th Birthday to Along.
Thanks for always being the 'big' sister.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

This raya that was

This Raya will go a long way in our memory, to me and Yati.

It began on a slow note on Day One with only us, the singles, Ajik and Along’s family.

Then Day Two hit with a bang. Full quorum but for Amanda.

The living room of Aki’s house was packed to the brim. The duit raya giving session turned so noisy it’s like a pasar borong. For the day and night dining, lucky we had the ‘khemah’ installed all along since Ramadan.

For me, this Raya began two days before. We took the long trip down to Kemasek. Something I had not done for years lately. Fifteen years ago, when I came back to Terengganu, I made the annual trip to personally hand over the zakat and raya goodies to the deserving. Then they were like 30 of them. Now after like seven-eight years hiatus, only with Ayah standing in as my wakil, they were only a dozen or so deserving people left. Many has passed away. Their once homes dilapidated and empty.

I took this trip to show my children once again what was once their father’s kampong, Mak Wan’s house – where I was born, the beach and Kuala Kemasek.

Funny enough they, Alia especially, remember so well the gerai goreng pisang that Ayah Khir ‘langgor’ some years ago. And Alan parrotting her as though he was there when he was only born years later.

Day Three. The family bowling tournament. Soon to be made an annual raya event. The most unlikely strike coming from Along beating even Julian ... Ha..ha.

And 'longkang' champ - Noyoo. Seems like everyone ended with something to brag about that day.

The finale must be Khir’s engagement to Sarah on Day Four. A first of its kind of reception because I was then forced to be the ‘jurucakap’ – that kind of put me in the 'orang tua-tua' bracket now. Lucky the other side made it really easy.

At least I didn’t have to recite any pantun or bermadah. Like some that was proposed …

Naik jambatan Pulau Pinang
Kami datang nak meminang.

In case it may be needed someday, now with twenty-two and counting anak-anak sedara growing so fast, think I better start practicing now.

To Yati, for all the staying up late getting the food and the house ready for the next day for several days, your tireless single effort to keep everyone fed (not to mention the endless request for mushroom soup, nuggets, sausages and maggie goreng) despite the usual raya fare on the table all day long, all the while keeping yourself looking radiant and beautiful, and your sheer exhaustion at the end of each day, you have been remarkably wonderful.

To all that made this raya so memorable, thank you.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lost shoe and broken windshield

I chided Alia when she asked, ‘kasut ayah kena curi kat masjid ke?’

No. ‘Kena curi’ was not a right word I would use especially if it happened at mosques. I would rather consider it mis-taken – by someone whose need was greater than mine. Or I could have misplaced them among the thousand pairs of shoes.

One Friday at UIA mosque, I recall Yat laughing at me seeing me walking bare footed fully dressed with a tie-on. Without shoes, I had to cancel my appointment at UIA that day.

In another incident, one Friday at Masjid Batu Caves my borrowed car was broken, my briefcase gone. That wasn’t so painful. What painful was the reporting and the long ‘interrogation’ by the IO. Another hour I would have shouted, ‘hell, I broke my own car and stole my own thing.’ Worst, they told me, ‘biasalah tu Encik, boleh kata setiap Jumaat kereta kena pecah kat situ, hari ni saja ada tiga.’ Darn! So often? What have they been doing? Compiling statistic?

Another time at Surau Seksyen 9 Shah Alam after the Fajr prayer, I discovered my Carnival passenger window neatly smashed. Gone were my wallet and all. Careless of me thinking that nothing could happen during the short prayer time. After the Batu Caves, I could then laugh when the IO asked me over the phone, ‘Encik ada gantung baju dalam kereta tak?

A short distance from Simpang Empat Kemasek, is a new Balai Polis. Once, it was only a wooden pondok polis with two wooden barrack at the back. I remember only one mata-mata, Pok Long Polis, as we dearly call him going round the village on his bicycle. Crime then was unheard of but for the petty case of curi telor ayam come funfair season.

Well, there was one murder in Kemasek in that many years. The golok fight under the tembesu tree at the bridge near Bukit Rimau Menangis. Last time I checked, the tembesu tree still standing. That will be good for another ghost story.

Compare that to the insecurity we now feel as we walk on the street or while sleeping at night. I wish now I can respect the crime prevention today as I had respected Pok Long Polis back then.

Alas, time has changed.
But then we had neither cars worth breaking into, nor shoes worth stealing too.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

So what do you remember of Kemasek most?


The one little village on the way from Kuala Terengganu to Kuala Lumpur.

Once our home. Now not even a stop.
Not if not for the time traffic light turned red at Simpang Empat.

A quick glance.

There was once the Balairaya where we chased spiders underneath while Mak was busy showing off her cooking skill during WI meet. Or when Ayah had his gathering of Persatuan Belia Angkatan Tenaga Muda or Red Cross assembly. No more the Pusat Pemeriksaan Jabatan Hutan that Ayah Su and Che Su used to stay a while. Nor is the field where we had the election campaigns or the wayang penerangan.

On the Pasaraya site, once stood some of the finer houses of Kemasek, among them the house of Awang Hitam the Juragan and Che Ngah Dayang - oh her nasi dagang kelosong daun pisang. The old mahkamah however is still there, on the hill behind the post office, shrouded by the much bigger trees that I once remember, haunted some says, always a mystery. That’s one place I don’t recall going. Not even in the craziest of time.

N’akut gok sebenornya.

At the very simpang, I recall once we the school children were made to line the street in the scorching sun, to wave flags and shout ‘Daulat Tuanku’ when the then outgoing King was returning. I remember too very clearly that the black Rolls Royce simply whizzed by and we were like looking left, right and then that’s it.

And then there are many more.

But what is it that you remember?

Monday, September 08, 2008

CEO blog

Hey, I should have my own CEO blog. I wonder sometimes if I should.

Afterall I m a Chief Executive Officer too even if I never had such title on my call card. I am a chief that execute my own work and an officer though I don’t work for anyone now. Clients notwithstanding of course. Having to work and look after 50 plus staff should’ve made me one I think. It wasn’t a small establishment too at some point come to think of it.

Now that Tony of Air Asia has a blog, other CEO s would soon be itching to blog too; just like the politicians post 08 election. And let us see who has the patience to keep writing.

Of course, at any scale, my business is a speck compared to Air Asia. I don’t owe banks as much as they do too… ha..ha… and if wealth is measured in the positive and negatives in bank balance my loan nowhere as big I think I’m richer.

But Pak Mat and Pak Awang too are wealthier than me. Anytime. They are debt free when I’ve a few million in the negatives. So much ha?

Well, maybe I should.

Who cares?

After all it’s all about writing. Not really about anyone reading it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Season of sumpah

So everyone who’s anyone is taking to the mosque for a sumpah session. And they all swear for the calamity to fall on themselves or others. Nauzubillah.

Soon, I’m afraid we will all be going through the curse of seven generations a la Mahsuri, and this beautiful country will for a long while be –‘padang jarang padang tekukur.’

Decades ago, I remember Terengganuan were fond of swearing ‘tobat kafir serani’ – to the effect of saying I swear lest I am a disbeliever or a Christian.

That swearing is something I had not heard for so many years now. Not even among the children. Maybe better understanding of Islam has significantly reduced if not almost purged the swearing and cursing. That the swearing is making a comeback is an indication otherwise. That some ‘learned’ people are resorting to it is downright alarming.

I don’t believe that swearing is even encouraged in Islam whatever some ulama may say. I am not an ulama, far from it; but I know enough to form an opinion that it is not.

Remember how Allah s w t had chided Rasulullah saw when he swore not to have honey only to please his wives?

O Prophet! Why holdest thou to be forbidden that which God has made lawful to thee? Thou seekest to please thou consorts. But God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful
(at-Tahrim 66:01)

Remember how Allah s w t had called for the ummah to break away from the bond of oath?

God has already ordained for you, (O Men), the dissolution of your oath: and God is your protector and He is full of knowledge and wisdom.
(at-Tahrim 66:02)

Remember how Allah swt had warned against those who go round swearing and taking oath in His Names?

Heed not the type of despicable man – ready with oath,
A slanderer, going about with calumnies,
(Habitually) hindering (all) good, transgressing beyond bounds, deep in sin

(al-Qalam 68: 10-12)

Okay, so some ulama said that sumpah lian (oath of calamity) is in the Quran. But my reading of it is about the accusation of a husband on his allegedly unfaithful wife.

And for those who launch a charge against their spouses, and have no evidence but their own, their solitary evidence (can be received) if they bear witness four times (with an oath) by God that they are telling the truth,

And the fifth (oath) that they solemnly invoke the curse of God on themselves if they tell a lie.
(an-Nur 24:6,7)

If it sound so easy, similarly easy was the way out for the wife as the accused party.

But it would avert the punishment from the wife, if she bears witness four times (with an oath) by God, that (her husband) is telling a lie.

And the fifth (oath) that they solemnly invoke the curse of God on themselves if (her accuser) is telling the truth.
(an-Nur 24:8,9)

I am not an ulama nor do I know about taklik and hukum but in my limited knowledge, I see it more as Allah’s way of putting stop to any fitnah – accusation and slander. For in Islam fitnah is worse than murder.

Fitnah and oppression are worse than slaughter.
(al-Baqarah 2:217)

Enough is enough. Why can’t we too do the same? Put a stop to it.

When we were young, and when we swear to escape punishment by saying ‘tobat lillah aku do wak, supoh kapir serani’- the elder and wise among us will say, ‘Awang, dok baik tobat gitu.’

To them that now do, I say the same too.

‘Awang, dok baik tobat gitu.’

Translation of Quran from Abdullah Yusuf Ali

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kaca, kuca dan k’uca.

To kaca is to disturb.

To kuca is to stir.

K’uca is a state after thing had been kaca-d or kuca-d; messed or muddled up.
In worst scenario it’s said to be k’uca hanya.

Jangang kaca orang tengoh kuca bubo tu. Kang jadi k’uca hanya pulok. (Don’t disturb people stirring the broth. It will mess thing up)

To describe k’uca hanya is to look at our room when we were young. Mak used to say ‘gi gok kemah bilek mung tu, hanya banya – macang kapa pecoh (go tidy up your room, it’s so messed – like a wrecked ship). Or another time, ‘macang tepak ayang t’elor’ (like the where hen lay eggs)

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Another word of the same genre I missed in my last blog is c’amek.

It’s something every kids (and politicians too…ha..haha..) loves to do.

To c’amek is to put your hand into something – like how kids love to put their tiny fingers into the bowl of cake mixture.

More aptly, c’amek is to meddle in someone else’s affair; all usually to a disastrous effect. The English proverb of ‘too many cook spoils a broth’ came to mind.

To c’amek is also likened to ‘tikus baiki labu’ (a rat mending a pumpkin). A perfectly working something spoiled by a touch of someone unskilled. ‘Lapu tu nyale molek doh. Mung gi c’amek wak mende gok? Doh padang pulok doh.’ (The lamp was working well. Why do you meddle with it? Now its swicthed off)

On a more serious note, Islam has a very strong view about the meddling of the ignorant (jahil) in everything. The list may well include those unskilled and incompetent and those giving views on subjects way out of their league. There was a quote that I remember well, ‘give not your affair to the ignorant lest a disaster is forthcoming.

So if there’s a meddling from someone you know well as incompetent in things you know best, just tell them ‘shut-up!’

Sunday, August 17, 2008

P’etak sikek je

Everyone seems to talk about the Saiful’s story these days. I’ll just p’etak on it too.

To p’etak is to touch. A quick one.

When a person is so busy he may only p’etak this and p’etak that.

In such a commotion things may just go awry. ‘P’etak tu dok jadi p’etak ning pong dok jadi gok.’ (That doesn’t work, that too doesn’t)

The opposite that is to touch with due care is to m’etek.

Nok wak kueh tat macang Mok Wang wat tu payoh sikek, kerja m’etek. (To make tart like Mak Wan is a bit difficult. It’s arduous work.)

People say a lie may lead to another lie. A lie is a mother to all evil. Siakap senohong gelama ikan duri, mula-mula cakap bohong, lama-lama mencuri.

When a person gets in a difficult situation to wiggle out from a lie, he may resort to create another lie. Unless he is a compulsive liar or someone suffering from severe delusion, he may fumble when pressured. He may fumble even without pressure - like mentioning a future date for a past incident. The same description of ‘p’etak tu dok jadi p’etak ning pong dok jadi gok’ may apply.

A good example is the Saiful’s sorry story. That he had been s…mized several times without any blot indicates that he was never even ‘p’etak’. So he conveniently changed the occurrences from several times to just one, and the date from the past to the (okay it’s a slip of tongue) future.

Him or the story?

I just do not know which is sorrier.
Itu je!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Good times and beautiful thing.

This was a hectic weekend. (Any un-hectic weekend? ha..ha..)

Thursday was in KT, trying to finalize the ‘temporary buildings’ detail and cut off ‘half a million, can you?’ from the already cheap design. Friday was in Rasa-rasa because I forgot my office key and A’s akad nikah later at night.

Rushed home to catch the end of the Beijing Olympic opening. At least managed to see the run by wire and the lighting of the torch.


The whole of China must have cracked their head at producing another Olympic torch lighting original, something the whole world can associate with. The other one memorable was the single archery shot in Barcelona Olympic.

They came up with the concept of unrolling scroll and a chapter from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Perfect. The paper scroll was undoubtedly Chinese.

As the athlete was raised by wire and air-run along the Bird’s Nest perimeter, I can almost see Chow Yuen Fat and Michele Yeoh running atop the bamboo forest. Once, when the spotlight moves ahead of the scroll, I thought I saw a dragon chasing a globe. Wish they had a female athlete with him. It would have been an ideal finishing touch.

Saturday was a long drive to KT. Attended the kenduri at Rusila then to office working on the talks to UIA Architecture students on Gerbang Persilatan Terengganu.

The lecture was well received (I think). I only wish I had more time to dig up the store for old drawings and pictures. But 1997 was a decade away, and we had moved office twice. Many things were lost. Made a mental note to keep all the sketches safe next time.

The lecture, more than anything else was a right jolt to the memory.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Postcard-perfect memory

I had seen it.

A black and white postcard of a single coconut tree on the rock at Pantai Kemasek under the glass cabinet of one photo shop that I could not remember where. I knew I had seen it as I was sure seen it in a book of collection of Malaya postcards, or something like that, I think.

I remember that postcard as much as I remember that coconut tree. Coconut tree don’t grow on rocks but this one did. That makes it special. That someone in the time when cameras were rare and owned by the few that recognized its significance makes it even more special.

I wonder sometimes, why I tend to remember all these pictures in my mind’s eye. I can’t remember names and faces to the chagrin of my contacts and business partners, even friends – bad for business they said, but I can recall vivid details of things from my life years ago.

Like the way lights penetrated through the ‘kerawang’ of one rumah Tok Ngah next to rumah Awang Hitam in Kemasek. Yes Tok Ngah the ‘tilam kekabu maker’ if you can still remember. Remember her going about the kampong delivering a roll of tilam on her head?

Like the streaks of white and red lines on the rocks of Bukit Batu Taping?

Like the breaking of waves on the rocky cliff seen from the top of that same hill that I often climbed alone some school holidays years ago?

Remember Tokeh Abung?

The crazy Taiwan University graduate that cycles round the kampong talking, giving speech out loud only to himself?

And should I add that he wore a pair of the famous architect Phillip Johnson’s like glass to accentuate his intellectual disposition?

Remember Mok Su Che Sek?

Oh her? Her pet rooster?

I promised myself I’d write about her someday but just couldn’t get around to it. I know I must for she was my nanny and years later when I return to Terengganu she found me.

We have all left Kemasek years ago. It now is only a town we pass by on the way. But memories of the growing up years linger. The courthouse on the hill, still standing the last time I passes by.
The balairaya that is no longer there.

The house of Tok Penghulu Wan Hamid, the house of Mak Wan Gayah where I was born and the house of Pak Man Porong.

Majlis Tempatan Kemaman Utara?

The long timber bridge linking Kampung Feri to Kuala Kemasek?

There can never be enough space in one’s writing to capture all that recollection.. But nevertheless I must. I owe it to them children.

The coconut tree had fallen off ages ago. Nothing was left to proof its existence save for that one postcard. For that I must seek.

For, that postcard was the epitome of a picture perfect memory.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

They keep the Mercs after all.

Maybe it was another dosage of P. Ramlee’s tale of the sons of Ismet Ulam Raja of the faraway land of Isketambola last night.

I am in the mood to ‘ngarok’ today.

Thursday was a hard day. I had a screw-up since morning in Cemerong I was in the mood to ‘carok’ but did not.

Late yesterday’s news, MB said he got the okay from the Leader to use them for Excos. This morning news, the Leader said it was only for the foreign dignitaries.

So soon at the new Sultan Mahmud International Airport you will see this notice. ‘Welcome to the Nation Of Terengganu. All foreign dignitaries from Malaysia may proceed to the lobby where we have 14 new E-200 lining up for your use.’


A VIP visit.

Crankshaft was a blog I visited often. So to be commented by ‘her’ was an honor.

Much like when someone asks ‘would you like a ride in my new Merc?’


Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Merc? I was totally wrong after all.

As I am writing this, Bernama newsflash reads ‘pembelian kereta Mercedes bukan guna wang royalti kata MB Terengganu

A short while ago [19th June 08] I wrote about some more than 10 new S-Class moving north towards Kuala Terengganu. I also wrote about the possibility of them being purchased for the State Excos [having been ordered by the previous administration]. I was wrong. Those were Mercedes E-200 Kompressor and the decision to purchase them, based on Star report, ‘was made several months ago’ so said the SS. I was double wrong.

So I want to be the first to congratulate the State Government of Terengganu. Now the excos would no longer be second best or feel inferior to most of the local contractors and consultants who are driving much more expensive S-Class, Brabus and Beemers especially X-5. Now at least they can join the site meetings where the site office cabins (for the mega projects I mean) normally appeared like a second-hand luxury car show rooms. Now too they can be waited by their drivers at the new Sultan Mahmud Airport without being asked to drive away to make way for the more important Mercs in the queue.

After all, the state only spend 3.4 million and its not duit royalti or wang ehsang. The money must have come from other sources like from cukai tanah, cukai balak or cukai pasir or perhaps federal grants.

So you jealous people out there….. shut up! Be a politician and when you come to power, do the same.

What about me?

Too late to be a politician but I’ll go out and get one myself.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A little on minyak and tahi minyak.

Some of us may still recall rumah Che/Aki in Kampung Baru Tok Kaya Kanan, Kemasek. [I just love to say that ‘Tok Kaya Kanan/Kiri thing] On the back lambor, was a dapur kayu with two tungku. Che’s very own kitchen. Here was her domain that she treasures despite having in the later years a dapur minyak and even a rice cooker. Underneath the sand-filled stove was her store of kayu api. Firewood she collected from the broken branches of trees, tempurung (coconut shells) and sabut (coconut husk) around the house, I recall too of her in her late years, hunched but still going round collecting the kindling. Her canisters for her own baulu and kuih bangkit were from the discarded tin milo and dumex that the cucus consumed aplenty. She was living the life of a true environmentalist long before we were talking recycling.

She too makes her own tikar mengkuang from the mengkuang plants at her backyard. She would brave the swamp to cut the leaves, soak them, strip them, dye them and daily bit by bit on the front lambor, made them into mats. I remember when I first rented my house in Setapak, before I can afford a mattress, the tikar was a treasured possession.

What I remember most in the kitchen however was the periok of her coconut oil.

She would without fail when coconuts were plenty, cook her own coconut oil. The oil then was used for cooking, hair oil and minyak urut too.

The cooking of the coconut oil was always awaited. Any thing ‘makan-able’ was awaited. After the oil was filtered, the waste was the tahi minyak. It can be made into a sambal tahi minyak mixed with fried shredded coconut (that is the origin of the phrase tahi minyak gaul nyior) eaten with nasi kapit or plain rice or eaten just like that.

First on tahi minyak.

Tahi means shit. Minyak means oil. Tahi minyak is however not oily shit but leftover from the making of coconut oil.

But tahi minyak can mean something else. To say to a person that he is a tahi minyak, like in 'mung ni tahi minyak sungguh' is like saying you are shit but you can’t be discarded because you could still be useful.

Now on minyak.

Who is not angry at the recent oil price increase?

I know two. Check Utusan Malaysia the day after the bomb dropped. Utusan ran a full color page of crowds protesting; vehicles queuing at petrol stations, people with empty jerry cans looking for some last minute cheap oil. No one was smiling. But at the top right hand corner of the same page was the picture of two men looking cheerful captured to prosperity. I wish they were not ‘that’ happy but they were happily smiling so they must be.

They were obviously the tahi minyak. If you know what I mean.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

For whom those luxury rides?

Two days ago (19.6.08), we took a drive down south to Jay Bee. On the road from KT to Kemaman something peculiar happened. I noticed it. Saiful noticed it too. Along the way they were like more than 10 S-Class Mercedes going north I think to Kuala Terengganu.

Wow, I think aloud.

Is business so good now those numbers of Merc were ordered.

By whom? I wonder.

I haven’t heard of any mega job going to Terengganu contractors lately.

Or the dealers just pre-empt the ordering having heard Pak Lah giving back the oil royalty?

Or was it true the previous ‘kerajaan’ had ordered them for the excos?

In this ‘change your lifestyle’ and ‘ten percent cut’ climate?

Let’s just wait and see……

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Of bahang bahan-bahan

Material or goods in Bahasa Malaysia is bahan. Terengganuan pronounced it bahang with a g at the end.

Bahang in standard Bahasa Malaysia means heat, like the heat from a furnace.

Bahang bahan(g)-bahan(g) thus can means either to steal the goods or the heat of the materials.

To ‘merasa bahang’ (feel the heat) can mean to be affected; by events or something. It’s much like the proverb ‘siapa makan cili dia terasa pedas’ (he who eats chili shall feel the heat). But bahang in Terengganuspeak is strike. To ‘bahang’ someone is to hit him either by hand or by words like in scolding. Sometimes Terengganuan says ‘tibang’ to suggest the same.

‘Abis lebang-lebang belakang dia kene bahang denge tok laki die.’(Her back is blue-black being hit by her husband)

‘Pucak lesi Mamat parok kena bahang dengan boh die.’ (Mamat was pale after a scolding by his boss)

Bahang too can mean to steal or in a more politically correct term misappropriate.

‘Doh wang ehsang tu dok wi ke kerajaang negeri, nye pakak bahang sek-sek die je lah.’ (With the royalty money not channeled to the State Government, it was being misappropriated by the cronies)

‘Bahang rambang’ meaning to hit at random is a term Terengganuan used to describe blind accusation, similar to ‘serkap jarang.’ or Javanese ‘hentam keromo.’

‘Doh bakpe mung kate gitu ke Derih? Dok baik mung bahang rambang je kate kokrang.’ (Why do you say that about Derih? It’s not right to accuse people blindly.)

‘Aku pong dok tahu sape buak. Doh dia tanye angat, aku bahang rambang je lah.’ (I’ve no idea really. Since he asked, I just answered blindly)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Just by chance

"Oi...Get your filthy hands off my desert!"
"What 'e say?"
Brezhnev took Afghanistan.
Begin took Beirut.
Galtieri took the Union Jack.
And Maggie, over lunch one day,
Took a cruiser with all hands.

Apparently, to make him give it back.

(Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert. Pink Floyd / Roger Waters 1985)

In the movie, Forest Gump, the character played by Tom Hank by sheer stroke of luck appeared at the defining moments of history, influencing some important event in popular culture; among them, the origin of Elvis’s gyrating pelvis, the Nixon’s ping-pong diplomacy and Lennon’s Imagine.

Just by chance or pure coincidence though unlike Gump, it seems that all my overseas visit coincided with some important event or other.

My first Sydney visit in 98 was on the day Anwar Ibrahim was arrested, Australian diplomatic opposition almost led to a diplomatic scuffle with Malaysia. That event led to the infamous black-eye incidence. My Jakarta 2005 visit was during the Ambalat Incidence, with street protest against Malaysia on the street of Jakarta. Sometimes earlier, some few months after the visit to the Hadyai’s Kre Sek Mosque, came the bloodbath that marked the beginning of the end of peace in Southern Thai.

My visit to (actually my return from) Singapore 23.5.08 was on the day International Court Of Justice delivered the verdict. It was the day Pulau Batu Puteh legally became Singapore’s Pedra Branca. I was at the Changi departure lounge when all homecoming Malaysian eyes were fixed on the TV screen. I could not bother as I was exhausted. After all that piece of rock is to me nothing more than a piece of rock.

At KLIA’s arrival hall, someone concerned Malaysian broke the news. It was confirmed by some breaking news on the electronic media later.

The International Court of Justice has decided in favour of Singapore in a 28-year sovereignty dispute with Malaysia over Pulau Batu Puteh - a tiny but strategic uninhabited island the size of half a football field.

[Malaysiakini 23.5.08]

I don’t know Batu Puteh more than a picture of rock with some Singaporean’s helipad and communication tower on it. That’s all. People, the patriotic kind would nevertheless lecture me on matter of national pride and sovereignty. To them I would say ‘why wait a hundred over years to react? It would be a non-issue had we cleverly persisted and retain the southern island some decades ago. A read into Lee Kuan Yew’s memoir of the last decisive moments in the 1963 separation brokering doesn’t help quell the sense of betrayal at all. Never mind the apologetic later written ‘Duri Dalam Daging’.

For now, let’s just let the issue dies down. A lost is a lost and can never be a win, much less a win-win. (Sorry Dato’ Seri Rais, I don’t agree with you) A sense of winning however will satiate some quarters and no one I hope would be raising any keris, tombak or lembing.

Roger Waters wrote the Final Cut after the Falkland War, as a personal protest against Margaret Thatcher’s senseless war venture thousands of miles away in South America. But Falkland was (and is still claimed as) British land and the Union Jack must be defended by all means necessary.

Pedra Branca was lost in the court room. We certainly need not now raise arm and inadvertently go south the same Thatcher’s way.
I pray.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Doh kite seme ni nok makang ape?

Don’t read if you think this is seditious.

The crime of seditious libel was defined and established in England during the 1606 case "De Libellis Famosis". The case defined seditious libel as criticism of public persons, the government, or King. (Wikipedia)

But to criticise and hurt the feeling of the non public person, the ordinary man on the street, the rakyat jelata is seditious too, I think. In democracy, is not the rakyat the true government? Just that they don’t have some big time lawyer arguing for them one can go about hurting their feeling. They too can change a government.

Sedition, is a big, big word these few days. Whatever it means, I don’t want to be charged as seditious and hauled to court. So this blog is dedicated only to my children, and that of my siblings, and probably in the future, the children of their children. The rest, read on your own free will.

The price of rice, our only staple food is up. Among the cause, as the article implied; too much is being consumed. Terenganuan and Kelantanese eat up to four times of rice a day. ‘Please don’t eat rice that many times’ our good minister said, more or less.

Sometimes last year, when petrol price went up, another minister said, ‘change your life style.’ Of course he can keep the Cheyenne in the garage and drive a 325i instead. But what do the rakyat change their kapchai to?

I was at the nasi dagang stall that day. An old man reading a newspaper at a table in front of me remarked angrily, ‘Menteri bodo! Doh nok suruh kite seme ni makang apa?

So what are we supposed to eat?

I want my children to know their own history well. Our family was not always well off. There were times, when we were younger, when aki was jobless or in-between jobs, we suffered. Yes, we still manage to eat but it was all basic. We were lucky because Wan was always creative with food and it all tastes so good. Or was it because we were always so hungry the food was good always. She too works wonder with ubi kayu or ubi stele. When ubi is available, it was time for ubi rebus, goreng ubi or kueh keria. Otherwise, all we had was rice. So it was rice in the morning, afternoon and dinner and all that was in between. It was the cheapest and the only food affordable.

For breakfast it was the left-over from previous dinner (nasi dingin) turned to nasi goreng or nasi lemak, for lunch nasi, for tea maybe some dried rice turned to lok-lik and for dinner nasi again. And if ever we turn hungry in between we turn to the periok for what else but nasi. Chicken and beef rarely available if any will be considered a feast.

The minister must have been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, ‘beranak dalam beras’ some Terengganuan says; to have a choice of bread and pudding for breakfast and tea. That s why he can by choice not to have nasi that many times a day. Unfortunately we didn’t as certainly many more, even now. Many that I know around me are still as poor, depending only on a single kind of food to live another day.

I am telling this to my children.

Even if you feel that you are rich, look around you, please look around you, at your friends in school, the friends in your neighborhood.


You don’t even have to look that hard, to see so many that are poor.

They eat rice four times a day because they don’t and could not have McD and Secret Recipe in between. They eat rice four times a day not because they are being excessive but because that is all they can have, that is all their mother left for them in the periok when the mother is out washing cloth at somebody’s house.

I know you could not feel their suffering because you just couldn’t. But even if you couldn’t, do not ever make fun of them. Never say anything that can be mistaken as making fun of them. Never ever tell them to eat less of the least that they are able to. Please do not do that. Not now. Not ever. Not even after you have become a minister. To say that hurt the poor. To say that is in a way seditious too.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


A gong is drum like brass musical instrument used in traditional music. A single strike will emit a ‘gonnngggg’ sound with a rippling echo. Berdengung I think is apt to describe the effect.

Beating of a gong is now extensively used to signify opening of events like the opening of an upacara or like starting of trading day on the Bursa (KLSE). In the old movies, a gong is sounded just prior to a proclamation; normally reading of a king’s order. Old Malay hikayat, (this one, Hikayat Awang Sulong Merah Muda) beautifully described the effect of gong once sounded on rakyat jelata .

Yang capek datang bertongkat
Yang buta meraba-raba
Yang tuli leka bertanya
Yang kecil terambin lintang
Yang jarak tolak tolakan
Yang pendek tinjau meninjau
Yang kurap mengekor angin

(I have no idea what the last phrase mean)

In Kemasek, there is a village called Gong Chengal and in Kuala Terengganu a Gong Tok Nasik. There are also Gong Pak Chang near Kedai Buluh and Gong Pak Jin in Gong Badak. If I may deduce, the former was founded by the father of Hassan and the later by the father of a genie. Whether there is anymore jin living there I would not know. That gong in a village name refer to a higher piece of land or an elevated plateau as against ‘mengabang’ meaning a water logged area. Gong Badak unknown to many is located next to Mengabang Badak.

Gong to Terengganuan refers to a person, proud, big headed, an egoist – one in English idiom described as proud as a peacock. Imagine the peacock dance, just like the cock, cocky.

Awang tu, padang muka dia kalah pilihang raye, Baru jadi wakil rakyat sepenggal pong, gong do’oh lalu doh.

A gong person, like the land (as in Gong Badak) is elevated above and sounds equally berdengung if he ever utter anything. Maybe it was his nose that is elevated because a gong can be as what the Malay proverb describe as ‘hidung tinggi’ (high nose or tall nose?)

When writing a gong, be careful to space the a from the gong else it means something significantly significant. Agong means great. A gong on that respect is not an agong no matter how he pretend to be.

My father loves to dismiss a person as ubi atas gong especially to the kind that is stubborn or those that refuse to listen to other’s opinion, one that thinks that only he is right. I have no idea if is a Terengganu proverb because I could not find any official writing on it.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A short take

I suppose I should be continuing from my previous blog ‘to be a councillor’ but I just want to do a quick one for now.

A quick one?


A short one?

To Kedahan, water in short depth is cangkat. Or changkat depending on the new or old school spelling. Standard terminology is cetek. In Terengganuspeak its tohor.
So a person who is shallow (superficial, frivolous, insignificant) in thought is changkat, his analysis is cetek. Never heard anyone being termed tohor however. Not even in Terengganu.

And of course there’s the other cangkat.
Cangkat Jering in Taiping or Cangkat Tambi Dolah in KL.
Is it referring to short road or once a water-logged area?

Want to solve English problem among school children? What about introducing English Literature at primary age. Get them all to read Shakespeare.

Good frend for Iesvs sake forbeare,
To digg the dvst encloased heare.
Blest be ye man yt spares thes stones,
And cvrst be he yt moves my bones.

….ooops. That was from his tombstone. Not his play.

That kind of thinking is kind of cangkat.

I think.

Monday, April 21, 2008

To be a councilor

PETALING JAYA: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday voiced his support for a proposal to have members of the Institute of Engineers Malaysia serving as local councillors.

That is an excerpt from NST yesterday 20th April 2008.

I couldn’t help but smile. At least I can now say proudly, I have been there, done that.

In that same report, IEM President said that his members are willing to serve all states. That means the opposition (now Pakatan Rakyat) states too. Maybe that’s because an engineer is now a state Menteri Besar in Perak.

I had been there as a councilor in Kuala Terengganu once for a short while during the tail end of PAS rules, for about four months. It was out of sincere desire to help and against my better judgement. Come 2004, it was all over. Making up for the ‘punishment’ I had to endure afterward when the state goes back to Barisan, was the exposure to the system, fathoming the depth of problems, learning first hand why things simply can’t get done and more than anything else making friends with the top to the bottom of the municipal power rung. What I could not understand to these days was the blind hatred from the other side of the political divide.

I must say now that I accepted the councilor post innocently, thinking that it was nothing more than a professional seat as allocated in the Local Government Act. The first sign of trouble was when friends started to desert me, saying things like I was being groomed for the higher position in the party. What party? I had not been a member of any party. I was later informed that PAS Youth objected to my appointment saying that I had been an UMNO man. Yes and no. I was quite visible during Dato Seri Wan Mokhtar’s administration, doing some visible projects for the state. No I was not a party member. My father did however without fail paid my UMNO membership subscription but that was in the old UMNO. Post 1988, I was told my application to UMNO Baru was not entertained. Well, I never get my membership card to say the least but it never bothers me. When PAS rule was over I was in turn branded a PAS man. So I was both an UMNO and PAS ‘member’ without even being in membership. That was cool. Anyway that story would be reserved for my autobiography.

This blog article is for me to share my experience.

As a practicing professional, an architect or an engineer can’t be an effective councilor. At least, me. Too often I had to excuse myself from the meeting because it is legally and morally wrong to be involved and worse to decide in meetings where my projects were being discussed. I could participate in technical meetings and seek to be excused when any of my project was up for deliberation. But technical meeting was only at the third level in importance. The way it was structured, I almost couldn’t participate at all in the full council meeting because that one project I was doing is lumped with the rest of the papers and I could not be involved at all. So the few of us professional councilor ended having tea when the full council was in session, practically leaving it to the quasi-politicians.

The councilor post however was powerful enough to move something. I believe I had successfully introduced the compulsory requirement for architects to have an appointment letter from the client before his plan could be accepted. I did that because many architects had complained of clients running away with the approved plan without paying the fee. At least that appointment letter can be used to take them to court later if need be. I too was part of the effort to implement (or was it to continue implementing?) the one day building plan approval and to rightly reinterpret the term temporary building much to the chagrin of the legal advisor. Temporary building could then be built better. Again this is not about self promotion and the fun ended so soon. I will keep the story to another day.

What kind of people were in the council?
The strongest voice I would say was the government appointee by way of their post, District Officer for instance. The Yang Di Pertua normally was the political appointee and in my time the state assemblymen himself. So was the majority of the seats - filled with Ketua Cawangan, Ketua Wanita (or was it Muslimah) and Ketua Pemuda. I was jolted when someone interjected with ‘Yang Di Pertua, ini kawasan saya. Rumah ni rumah orang kita.' (This is my area. The house belong to our people.) The meeting in general was sombre. Few actually raise their voices except when it was about ‘kawasan saya’ or ‘orang kita’. Fewer bother to read the Act and By-Laws depending in turn on every words of the legal advisor, happy waiting for a deadlock and vote by show of hand. That’s power mind you. Agitated, I at least forced the Majlis to provide them with a set of the by-laws and got a nice attache to go with it. And then there were the few loud professionals – us.

How much can you achieve?
How much depended on three things. One, the political willingness. Two, the council’s money and three, the capacity of the officer. Four if I would add is trust. In general, councils are poor and running on tight budget. Majlis in our time could not even afford laptop and projector, much less equip the officer with digital camera and transport. We even had to move a motion in the council meeting for the officers to be well equipped and the budget be found for it. (Fortunately or unfortunately power change happened so soon and we could not see the result. Anyway the Majlis under the new Barisan government seems flushed with new four wheelers it could have been attributed to us too (wink). The lack of fund forced us to be flexible. We introduced a system whereby applicants had to invite and drive the officers from the office to the project site for inspection. This system was almost shot down for fear of corruption. The liberal among us interjected that given our capacity we can’t afford to be choosy at the expense of efficiency. We too had to stress that the law is hard enough and anyone if corrupted can be brought down legally. That was the issue of trust. Trust is also about empowerment. More power could actually be delegated to the technical officers, reducing the load on the council and in the final count tremendously improve the delivery.

What I found heartening was the sincerity and sacrifice of the officers, working within a limiting environment, poorly equipped, badly understaffed and worse, distrusted. The few had to attend the so many meetings and functions leaving them with little time to work effectively. The time is also consumed by the systems of meetings, deliberation of minutes and approval. Some quarters complained that the council is being used to deliberately delay or reject applications despite obtaining technical support and approvals. I must state that I did not find so despite the system working exactly that way. The officers if given trust and empowered could achieve much more. I was very sure of that.

To be continued.

To be branded.
Do I want to do it again?
How professionals can contribute.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Selak spelt with e tanda means lock, both verb and noun. It also means bolt using either keys or some other kind of locking accessories. My favorite one is using a piece of wood laid across the door. ‘Galang’ was the correct term I think. The difference between the two is that selak requires ‘tupai’ on one side while ‘galang’ requires two. That tupai is not a squirrel.

Spelt with e takdok tanda, it became selak, meaning to lift usually of something clothlike – selak kain (to lift the skirt), selak kelambu (to part the mosquito net).

Usop balik rumah lewat malam. Mek Jah isterinya dahpun tidur. Usop selak kelambu. Napok Mek Jah tergolek. Slo, slo dia selak kain Mek Jah….. (Oops. I’m not translating this)

In Terengganuspeak, selak with e tanda can also mean to pass out, shocked or desperate.

‘Mek Ngah selak dengo anok dia jatuh moto.’ (Mek Ngah fainted hearing her son fall off the motorbike)

‘Habih sekapung selak dengo cerita Tok M’ulu kena igak.’ (The whole village was shocked to hear the village headman arrested)

‘Selaklah gining. Jeput orang makang lepah loho. Ning puko dua belah doh. Berah dok basoh agi, api dok ingak agi, ayang dok m’eleh agi.’ (We are desperate now. We invited people to eat after the noon prayer. Now at twelve the rice is not yet washed. The fire not yet lit. The chicken not yet slaughtered)

The a in selak is so uniquely pronounced it is a dilemma to either write with a or o. Some Terengganuan preferred o over a, spelling selok while others a over o, spelling selak. It can only be resolved if written in phonetic which I have no idea of so I would not try.

To spell as selok (with e tanda) in standard Bahasa will bring a different meaning. To selok (also with e tanda) is to dig into something, like into the pocket. Sometimes it is spelt as seluk. Suluk if you come across is further off. Bersuluk means to went away; as of becoming a hermit.

Senyak senyak Usop pung selok dalang kain. Tibe-tibe kain hok sakut di tiang tu jatoh. Usop k’ejuk. Derah-derah dia keluo bilek. Dang ambik pitih sepuloh rial je. Mek Jah tergolek teruh. Nye tido selok-selok kediri. Dok sedo setarang baroh pong.

Monday, April 14, 2008

After a pound of my flesh

In Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, 1596, the insistence by the Jewish moneylender, Shylock for the payment of Antonio's flesh was the central plot of the 18th century play. Shylock insisted that ‘The pound of flesh which I demand of him Is deerely bought, 'tis mine, and I will have it.’ It now carries the meaning of ‘something which is owed that is ruthlessly required to be paid back..’ The figurative use of the phrase refer to 'any lawful but nevertheless unreasonable recompense’ - to quote from Wikipedia.

Imagine being booked by a policeman for a traffic offence. You paid the compound fines and yet you have to appear in court for another round of punishment for the same offence because the law says you have committed an offence and that offence in punishable. I use the phrase ‘the law says’ to denote an interpretation by this one person. Okay, I am not a lawyer. But as I understand the law, an offense once punished can’t be punished again. A compound is a punishment so I should not be hauled to the court again for the same offence. Or was my understanding all wrong?

Last Thursday, EPF visited me. Handed me a summon to sign. I was to appear in Court this Monday 14 April 2008. The offence was for not making EPF contribution to one of my staff in May 2007. That was almost a year ago. I checked my record and proved that payment was made. Late of course but paid all the same. I was willing to pay all the fines and dividends, but the dividend statement is forthcoming. Not my fault fully. Still the EPF guy is insistent.

So I checked the EPF Act.

Clause 43(2) says I’m liable if I fail to pay within time.
So I’m guilty on that ‘within time’ count. But why can’t I resort to the other clauses which somehow accept delay to the contributions provided that I pay the dividends and interest on top of the contributions?

Clause 45(3) says if I don’t pay within time I can be liable to pay for dividends.
Clause 45(4) says if I don’t pay the dividends I’m liable to imprisonment (3 years maximum) or fine (maximum 10K).

Furher down,

Clause 49 says I’m also liable for interest for unpaid contribution.

So my understanding is I can be charged only if I don’t pay the contribution or if I don’t pay the dividend. Repeat, if I don’t pay the dividend! Not for late contributions.

So why take me to court?

‘Well, you have not contributed to the Feb, March and April’ he said.

‘Sir! Yes I was late for Feb and March. But April wasn’t even due till 15 this month, a day after my due appearance in court. Don’t charge me for an offence I was yet to commit. And still you can’t bring me to court for the two months that was not even in the charge sheet.’

That I think is a blackmail. Okay, arm-twisting, if blackmail was too harsh a word.

The fictional episode is one of the many events that we must all face because we had chosen to leave the comfort of withdrawing salaries to one that pay salaries. Migrating from being an employee to an employer.

Most of the laws governing employment, especially EPF Law regards all employers as someone with a deep pocket and an ever flowing fountain of cash. EPF contributions must be made not later than the 15th every month, come hell or high water. Damn you if can’t scrape enough to meet the salary. Damn you too if your salary payment was made after 15th. Pay EPF first. Fill the coffer and leave your staff hanging dry if you have to.

So all of you budding entrepreneur, beware, be afraid, be very afraid. Be not like me. Pay EPF religiously. You have to.

The law as it is, was intended to protect employees from some unscrupulous employers. But not all employers are bad as not all are rich. Many are simply entrepreneur who struggles to make ends meet. Yet they contributed to the socio economy by employing people when these people were otherwise jobless. Not all employees are bad too, not all will willingly kill the goose that lay the golden eggs, not all will haul their employer to court for reason of late EPF contributions. But EPF will; in the name of the employee, haul the employer. The way things are, some quarters in EPF considers all late contributor as bad employer, penalties alone are no longer enough. The way things are, some quarters in EPF will be happy that employers close shop, so that none pay EPF late. Nevermind if the employees end up jobless.

Maybe some explanation is necessary.

Late contribution can be due to several reasons. One, the employee preparing the payment made a mistake or forgotten about the dateline. Two, the money wasn’t there. At least not yet.

The law maker in drafting the law I believe saw that possibility. So they wisely introduced a penalty clause. Any employer who’s late because of some employee inefficiency or was simply broke at that point in time can at least when they can afford it pay the penalties, escape the hassle of court appearance and continue doing business.

For unfortunate employer like me, summoning me to court means punishment not once but thrice. They have taken claim, collected my money and now after my pound of flesh.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bilang membilang.

I have a problem with numbers, with arithmetic, kira-kira, bilang-bilang. The problem will never make me great because to be ‘terbilang’ I must first be good at ‘membilang.’ Of I course I don't want to be great by 'tembelang.'

I could not count something say from one to a hundred without forgetting the actual count if distracted. Most of the time I have to start all over again. Okay, I admit sometimes I find it difficult to even remember how many rakaat has I prayed especially in the zohor and asar prayer. It is hard to have a full concentration or ‘khusyu’. Moreover with my frequent travel and the equally frequent jamak and qasar, I sometimes unconsciously qasar the solat at kariah too.

Of this forgetfulness and anomaly with number, I laugh at myself everytime I see the rerun of P. Ramlee’s Nujum Pak Belalang when the crook in the cave could not count pass three and resort to everything his partner said including and kepala hotak kau.

I have problem remembering names too.

Anyway, I counted six entries in my blog since the day after the election. Things were so fascinating, I just have to record them as it happen; as I saw them happening. Tomorrow I might see them in a different light and write about them differently. The frequency surprises the lazy me.

Now I feel I must put another blog about the final chapter of the MB saga. ‘Selesai dohlah’ was not so the end after all.

On Friday, I was in KL. By chance, met some important Terengganu guys at Masjid Negara. They asked me, ‘Mengadap ke?’ I knew they were just joking because I believe it was they who were. When I told them I was taking the evening flight home, they asked, ‘ Sambut Tuanku esok?’ I laughed. They laughed too. The Terengganuans were finally laughing, happy at the turn of event.

The mood home was a surprise to me. Almost all cars in town tied the yellow ribbon. My father’s Jeep had not one but three (put there he said by the guys at Pasar Tani), so was all the office and my staff’s car. Someone even sponsored the yellow ribbon and because the demand was so good limited them to not more than ‘sekaki’ each only.

The rakyat, the ordinary non political people are responding with a sense of relief and gladness. The ordinary people I think don’t really care who is the MB as long as we have a MB. The delay of two weeks was embarrassing and the mood is jittery.

The yellow ribbon became a symbol of relief as much as the expression of love for the Sultan and the State.

So what has counting got to do with all this?

This morning 25000 turned up at the airport to greet the King. That’s what Malaysiakini said. 30000 said Siasah. 20000, said Harakahdaily, conservative this time. 25000 said Star, 10000 said Utusan. I know there was no counting booth to add the number safely but the stark difference was outrageously funny.

The people I asked about the turnout simply answered, ’ramai’ meaning many.

So maybe, when the people at the newsroom can no longer count, we could just tell them to resort to the logic of Pak Belalang.

Eh, eh’

‘Eh,eh untuk kau, eh,eh untuk aku.’ Lepas eh, eh apa?

‘Kepala hotak kau!’

‘Kepala hotak kau untuk kau, kepala hotak kau untuk aku.’

That is for the people who’s handicapped at counting, I mean, in the older days, they might just get telor temelang.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Selesai doh lah.

My breaking news came from Sedi. His sms read ‘Slamat Mat Said jadi MB.’

I was on the way home from Masjid Terapung. Not exactly from the mosque. I was on the way there when I made a u-turn seeing lots of cars there today. More than the normal malang jemaat (malam Jumaat – Friday night) crowd. I just remembered that they were having a munajat to pray for the Sultan.

I decided to just go home. Ustaz Aziz won’t be giving ceramah anyway.

In front of the shophouse, some strange looking people were there. Strange because I don’t normally see them before. I have been a Friday night regular at the mosque here and I didn’t see them around before. One was in songkok and kain pelikat, much like the guy Sepol said appeared in the riot video both at Batu Burok and Rusila. Ah, my imagination.

So today finally UMNO supreme council endorsed Dato Mohd Said as MB, ending I hope the long stand-off between palace and ruling party. I said I hope, because I m not sure if its truly the end. Politicians will stay and fight another day. What else can they do eh?

Tomorrow, the gere, the kopitiam and wakaf dam will be abuzz with a different gossip. Who’s back in the exco?, who’s not? What’s the new scandal?

As for the MB drama? It’s old news.

Cakak mende gok agi? Selesai doh….

Deafening silence

The hurt that you try to hide is killing me
I drink a thousand lies,
To freeze the past in time

[machine head – deafening silence 2001]

Deafening silence – A silence or lack of response that reveal something significant.

In Tranung the closest to it perhaps is ‘senyap kkatup’ – so quiet you hear pin drop, your own heart beating.

There is another kind of silence. When everybody and everything in all the commotion suddenly became momentarily quiet. So quiet it’s hair raising – ‘naik bulu roma’. Here, we say, ‘malaikat lalu’ - an angel just passes by.

I wonder why the national papers are silent on Terengganu.
Here, we are still left to wonder. Depending on and perhaps ‘drinking’ the gossips. Siasah Online said Pak Lah has backed down and agreed to Dato Mohd Said but NST Online says the 22 Aduns are still adamant. Nothing on Malaysiakini. Not so ‘kini’ afterall huh? Can Pak Lah agree to a non UMNO MB? I mean, I thought Dato Mohd Said was reportedly sacked from UMNO. Rumors too that two former exco and MB were stripped of datokship. Truth or just rumors?

Hey! Can someone tell us what is going on?

Or has Zaid Ibrahim successfully moved all the attention away leaving us rakyat in the dark once again.

Or is something else significant cooking?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Guane ghamok teranung kite?

As of now, Dato’ Mohd Said has assumed the office of Menteri Besar, becoming an MB for what may be (in his own word – as reported in media) a short spell. Dato’ Idris Jusoh on the other hand has called a press conference saying he will respect the decision but so.
Like many orang Tranung I am confused because NST Online and Malaysiakini gave a differing version. Can somebody put the whole press conference on Youtube please, so we can opined for ourselves.

Now is a hard time to be in Teranung. No, not because we are the second poorest people in the nation, or because of the oil stop flowing, but because calls from friends and families are streaming in non stop.

Guane keadaaang? (How’s thing?)

Mung ade baju melayu itang dok agi? Nok wak mende? Wak gi akat supoh!
(Have you got the black baju melayu? What for? To attend swearing in ceremony?)

Mung dok gi berarok ke? (You are not demonstrating?)

Doh mung dok beloh Derih ke Mat Said? (So are you on Dato Idris or Dato Mat Said side?)

And this SMS among the many circulating around.

Kepada semua rakyat Terengganu, Tanda sokongan kita sebagai rakyat menyokong penuh Institusi Beraja & taat setia kita kepada Raja, pasangkan riben kuning pada kenderaan……., bertindak segera supaya Tuanku kita tidak diperlekehkan.

Bring to mind the song, ‘Tie a yellow ribbon, on the old oak tree….’

I find it even tougher to answer my curious children.

This episode will go as a watershed in Terengganu history. The older generation may recall the similar event in the Pas led government in 1959-1961. The then Menteri Besar, Mohd Daud Samad faced a vote of no confidence from the Dewan after two Pas YBs switched camp to UMNO. This time around, Dato Mohd Said may be sacked from UMNO and faced a vote of no confidence from UMNO itself. Opposition can’t do anything because their numbers are insignificant. Unless of course there’s a larger support to Dato’Mohd Said from within UMNO and all of them are sacked too. That is unlikely to happen given the current national climate.

But even now I’m not sure of ‘unlikely to happen’, Terengganu lost to Pas in 1999 was unlikely to happen, six states falling to oppositions in 2008 was ‘unlikely to happen’, but it does happen.

So I know I can’t read the political scenario and be a pundit, much less be a politician.

Maybe I should just go shop for a yellow ribbon.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The reason to blog

Welcome to the unreal cyber world.

It is heartening that not long after being regarded in the same basket as bored housewives, the youth ministry is toying with a proposal to start of all thing – a blog. Imagine some high level ministry guy donning pink polka dot apron to work….. (ah! you may not get my drift).

I don’t belong in the elite blogger group that triumphantly claimed to have moved the political consciousness of the nation nor do I belong to the nemesis Putra (or is it Puteri?) cyber trooper. I, if anything, is one among the millions who for some spare minutes of our day sat in front of the laptop typing something that is of no value to others but ourselves, not even hoping for our words to be found in the cyberspace. We derive joy in letting go of what we felt, strongly or otherwise. We care not for the feedback or the backlash of others. Blogs are our personal notes put on cyberspace, nothing more, nothing less. Once in a while we pat ourselves in the back, seeing a hit on our page, someone somewhere in Banjarmasin chanced on our words and wrote back.

Blogs are special. They are because they are not bound by rules or bias except by what is personal. We, bloggers are not afraid because we chose not to be bound by any rules or guidelines. We would be in journalism if we do.

We too are aware of the spectre of law (that put fear in our soul) often impressed by those in power. We knew well that the law says we have to be responsible for even an independent phantom opinion on our blog but that if it ever happen will give us (and we would cheekily accept) our time in court or our brush with fame.

So, the idea of ministerial blog is if my opinion is worth anything, an inane proposition. Imagine a JPA advert in NST; Situation Vacant – Blogger. (Ha..ha… I’m already laughing to myself). Place of work – Kemaman Kopitiam; work hour – as you fight insomnia at 237 am.

I would have a much greater respect for the dear minister if he begin by starting his own blog, using the free blogspot template and (in the word of Anna Scott in Notting Hill) fire away. I would even have a much higher respect to him if he is willing to put on an open forum, airing comments all and sundry.

A blogger read another blogger, many, many other bloggers for that matters. That’s why we have a link at the side of our page. (oops I don’t). We click from a blog to another because we look not for some lengthy Pullitzer’s material but some simple sweet, forthright, honest, bold and hilarious pieces. We could sense a fake and move to another click.
Please, dear minister, understand what blogging is all about, undertand the soul of a blog. Less it will end up like the plenty outdated .gov webs.
See you then.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Teka teki aishah

Mak, Aishah ada satu soalan.


Nombor apa yang orang tak suka?

Emmm… nombor tujuh?


Nombor 3?


Nombor lapan?


Nombor satu? dua? sembilan? Enam? Empat? Lima?

Salah. Salah. Salah……

Dah tu nombor apa?

Mak nak beli ke?

Ok Mak beli.

Nombor yang anda dail telah ditamatkan perkhidmatan.

The reason for it all

Raison d'ĂȘtre is a phrase borrowed from French where it means simply "reason for being"; in English use it also comes to suggest a degree of rationalization, as "The claimed reason for the existence of something or someone". A raison in nature may also symbolize wisdom or knowledge.

Che’ Jak was our lecturer in UTM. He was to many of us who graduated from there a philosophical sifu; in his own special, slightly crazy yet wise way. Of the many thing about him, I remember his story about a food shop he found somewhere along his travel. The shop was nice, the place clean, the service was fast, with a smile and the food was good. The owner himself moving from table to table, smiling, cracking little jokes, laughing a little to the customers enquiring if everything was okay. He seems so cheerful and happy.

Pleased with what he saw Che Jak told himself to return again someday.

When that day came several years later, he sat at the same table as the last time; observing. The shop was still the same but the same owner was now sitting at the till, busy collecting money. The shop was still full of customers but the owner was no longer smiling, cracking little jokes or laughing. He was no longer a cheerful self.

Why? Che Jak asked us.

There were many reasons and arguments put forth that day. They were all correct he said. But more than anything else, the reason for the happiness he said was because the shop owner was in the beginning doing a service to the people, his customers. The later unhappiness came because he was now no longer doing service but a business. He had lost the reason to be happy.

I find the similitude from the above, in the days after the election. Strange enough from both camps of the victors and losers, winners and whiners.

In the aftermath of the election, the bickering by the winners over the exco seats, and the coveted MB or chief minister position would embarrass a third grader fighting for a cekelat. The losers and whiners too, not to be left out, hit out at the people they once so called served, threatening them with the end of the world. Maybe that was what the press said but that was how it seems.

It brings to light the sheer arrogance and hypocrisy from the people called politicians (some if not all) to what they really were.

Strange because only a fortnight earlier they were screaming for a chance to serve or continue to serve the people.

So was all the hoo ha, all those promises meant to serve the rakyat jelata or themselves? What has positions got to do with serving? Must you be in position to do good? Is the collective power not good enough?

I do hope at the end of it all, sensibility sets in. The people need leaders, a good one at that. Not some selfish self serving dot dot dot. Not ever again I hope.

I pray those smiles they flashed during those grueling campaign will come back. And insyaAllah it will bring smiles to the wajah (faces) of the people too; happy, knowing that at the end of it all they chose to be wiser.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The day after

Its been a long while since the last blog. Why? Oh that’s for another time.

I passed by Kemasek the day after the famous 8th March 08 election. The day that all feng-shui believers will look back at in disgust and disbelief. The 8th was not ‘ong’ at all, at least not to Pak Lah and his Barisan’s men. Already, my phone is being filled with smses of jokes and gurindams, making fun of the unfortunate losers; but I m not putting them down here. You can find them easily on the web somewhere.

Despite the tsunami that swept away five states, six if Kuala Lumpur is included, Terengganu remained in Barisan’s hand. As was the Kemasek state seat . This is one place I often joked that Barisan can win even with a ‘batang nyior’ as a candidate. I was not being disrespectful. I knew how loyal the folks here were to UMNO and Barisan. I knew because my family was a firm believer in UMNO. My father was once one of the kampong stalwarts of the party, having been for years the ‘wakil calon’ for the YB and once he claimed almost to be the candidate for the party. I said was because I was not sure where the allegiance is anymore, certainly not since 98.

The traffic light junction in Kemasek (the only one) still look festive with the party flags from both sides flying in the strong wind. The blue on the upperhand, of course. It looks fun.

In my much younger day, election was fun. It was time to help cooking kanji paste to glue the posters on coconut trees, challenging one on the other side on who could go higher, hanging out at the party posts, truly bangsal wrapped in party flags, having free biscuits and tea and helping to print t-shirts and banners. The flags and banners would be much sought after, for kain sahang, and the billboard plywood for gok ayang, good till the next four years. It was way before election paraphernalia were imported from China.

Elections every time held had for us some measure of memory.

I remember the first Barisan’s rally in front of the balairaya. It was the first post Perikatan election and the kapal layar (or was it perahu layar) was replaced by the dacing. [I wonder why dacing is still used as a symbol when SI system was introduced not much later and all dacing were banned from marketplace – talk about being outdated/outmoded] Then it was against Kasim Ahmad’s parti p’ala lembu (how the people called Parti Sosialis Malaya). I remember the scathing attack on Kasim not for his socialist ideology but because of his poem ‘Tuhan Sudah Mati’

That year PAS was part of the pioneering Barisan.

In another time, even earlier, I remember how Che would quietly told us when we asked she voted kapal layar against Aki’s instruction to vote bulan bintang.

And later in another time when the young Hj Hadi helmed the rejunevated PAS I remember how Ayah Mat’s family would be avoiding us because they were pro PAS and we were all the instruments of thaghut. But that was a passing fad I believe and air dicincang takkan putus.

In 78, my father spent his time campaigning for Barisan and ended sacked from his job – such sacrifice.

In 99, I recalled how embarrassed I was because my son Amir, then about six but well into reading Harakah for his age, asked his Aki for a flag and when given an UMNO flag refused and said, ‘Amir nok d’era PAS.’ That year, under the current of reformasi, Barisan took a beating and Terengganu was lost.

My family has all left Kemasek. Most in KT with the rest scattered from KL to south of peninsula. We have become at most politically conscious yet distance from the thick of politicking. We had seen how ayah had spent the best years of his life, once putting life at the golok’s end (that’s again another story) for his party, retired and watched in disgust at the excesses of his party men. We became non political because he encouraged us to be professional and businessmen instead. That way we can help people he said, albeit in our own small way.

We passed by many more villages along the way and see flags, posters and bunting some with funny quips being slowly brought down and put to fire. The battle for seats how ridiculous it sometime seems was now over.

Elections, the many of them seems to pass just a while away.