Thursday, September 10, 2009

A crocs and the memory of a pair of plastic shoe

Some years ago I had a pair of white plastic school shoe. It was cheap. Then I think it cost only less than two ringgit. It was practical. I can not wash it on weekends as I do to my canvass Bata. I only need to just to wipe it with ‘sabun toko’ then rinse it and wipe it dry just before going to school. Never a need to spend time to ‘kapur’ it. I can also walk in the puddle with it.

But the plastic shoe came at the time our family was at the most difficult time. Ayah was working far away in Padang Kubu. I tried to recall that difficult time but I guess some memory had been blacked out. In bits and pieces I recall going to school in selipar jepun and get a scolding from a teacher. Which che’gu? Slipped my mind too.

Maybe our mind had a way of erasing those hard time from the memory bank and keep only the better time for recollection.

Imagine my reaction to ‘Crocs’ - the ugly plastic shoe that everyone seems to long for if not already have. Never mind if they were Maidin’s China made look-alikes – Crocs wannabe I call them.

It’s ugly. And it’s plastic. Period.

But it’s comfortable. Bloody comfortable. Still its ugly. And it’s still plastic.

First Adlan had one. Then Alia, then Atin. And Amir too wants one. Then Yati had one. And two and three. Or is it now four?

Then I made the mistake. I walked into a Crocs Store. Worst still I tried on a pair. D**n it. It’s so light like I wasn’t wearing a shoe at all. It was so @#&&+ comfortable. Ahhh! Now I need some justification for splashing 200 plus ringgit for a pair of plastic shoe.

But it’s plastic? Nope! This one came with a canvass upper.

But it’s ugly? Hmmmm… this isn’t exactly the ugly one.

And so once again I wear a pair of plastic shoe. And I am walking happily….. ever after.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

MBKT sent us this form to fill and return. I'm sure most of warga kota would be happy to oblige. Somehow I wonder why must this simple request to the 'rakyat' be accompanied by some level of "amaran" as well. "Jika Tuan/Puan tidak mengembalikan penyata ini dalam masa yang ditentukan, Tuan/Puan boleh diambil tindakan di bawah Seksyen 140 Akta Kerajaan Tempatan."

Are we rakyat so, so disrespectful to the ruling elites that we must be threatened every steps of the way?

Can they not explain nicely why such form filling is important to the City and nicely ask for cooperations.

Yes we see that a private company is involved now and that's the more reason to be tactful.
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

The perils of an 'usahawan’

One advertisement, government sponsored, says, ‘kita bukan along, kita mahu tolong’ or more or less to that effect. I’d take that with more than a pinch a salt. In fact I would take it with a sack of salt, ‘se karung’ for effect.

I have been an usahawan for more than twenty years now. Still, in the so many years I am not without the nagging feeling that my life is being made miserable by the so many agencies and institutions that rules our so called usahawan life. EPF, SOCSO, Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri, Kastam, SSM (Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia) among the many. Now they are all so trigger happy to compound and to sue. Certainly our courts are so free, so it seems. Or is it in their KPI – I must compound not less that 20 companies within a month or else I and my boss the ‘pengarah’ will not ‘naik pangkat.’

EPF and now SOCSO will now sue for delay in contributing. Even after you have paid albeit late and paid penalties for the late payment. They don’t care if you can’t pay your staff salary, they don’t care if their salary was paid late because you have no or not enough money, to them come hell or high water, EPF must be paid. And hell and high water awaits those who delay, what more those who fail.

SOCSO now threaten to sue you for your staff not reporting an accident or death. And sue you the same if the report is made late. ‘Buat salah, tak buat pun salah.’ SSM so happy and proud to impose a two thousands ringgit fine and then threat you with court action for not filing your return.

Then there is the income tax, scouring for mistakes in your tax return some five to seven years earlier. And how can you win when they say your business expenses was not business expenses. It is always our words against theirs and theirs are always to only one right.

The list seems almost endless.

So what are we to them ‘pegawai-pegawai kerajaan?

Are we usahawan all liars and cheaters? Is that how they see us? Definitely that’s how they treat us.

Maybe the first rule to being an usahawan is to be a perfect human being, a ‘maqsum’ who committed no mistakes, one who is well versed and obedient in all aspects of laws and regulations. And given the current rate of laws and regulations change in this country, you end up studying statute books and little time to be an usahawan.

Sadly, we all [at least most of us] became usahawan first and learnt the rope and the whips as we journey such perilous journey.

Sometimes, and many times you look at people like politicians and project brokers and the new breed of ‘sumbangan amal’ solicitors selling tables, zooming around in brand new mercs and beemers, building multi million dollar house in cash, knowing they never pay taxes, knowing they have no business or office or employees to look after. You knowing that EPF, SOCSO, even SPRM never bothers them, you wonder why did you became in the first place an usahawan.

Wonder, if I am the only one.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Death and PPSMI remembered.

This is not really a new news. On 8th July 2009, the government had finally decided to kill off PPSMI or Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik Dalam Bahasa Inggeris. Slowly really. The euthanasia taking effect in 2012.– a policy perhaps so well thought (at least by one person) supported by the sycophant and the well meaning but so badly implemented is finally on the way to its rest. Of course with the sycophant again clamoring loud – it’s a good decision.

Well and good I thought until my 10 year old son said, ‘Bakpe pulok?’ He’s been scoring well in Mathematic and Science and the thought of it to be taught in Bahasa Melayu confuse him. My son is right I guess. We the parent had been fiddling with their lives. Maybe a little too much.

So now, to bring knowledge to the rakyat we can perhaps go back to translating. I got my contract translation hanging for years half done. Time to dust the cover, again. I think.

Now, to digress a little.

This is one story about death, translated from Jeffrey Archer’s To Cut A Long Story Short. Archer admitted that it was not his original because story has been told since long ago in the Sufi traditions. I heard them too long before I found the book. and I think it is an interesting story to share.

So here’s my take on the story.

Pada zaman dahulu, di Kota Baghdad, seorang saudagar telah mengarahkan khadamnya pergi ke pasar. Tidak berapa lama kemudian khadam itu pulang dengan wajah yang pucat dan dibasahi peluh.

‘Kenapa?’ Tanya sang Saudagar yang kehairanan.

Si Khadam tidak menjawab. Sebaliknya dengan nafas yang tercungap-cungap dia berkata, ‘berikan kuda tuan hamba kepada hamba. Hamba mahu lari ke Kota Bukhara.’

‘Baiklah kata Sang Saudagar. Tapi jelaskan dulu kenapa tuan hamba tergesa-gesa.’

‘Hamba terserempak dengan Maut tadi. Dia terperanjat melihat hamba. Hamba masih muda. Hamba ingin lari ke Kota Bukhara supaya dia tidak dapat mencari hamba.’

Sebaik diberikan kuda, Si Khadam terus dengan pantas memacu kuda ke Kota Bukhara.

Si Saudagar langsung ke pasar. Ditengah-tengah orang ramai Saudagar berjumpa dengan Maut lalu menegurnya. ‘Wahai Maut!, apakah benar kamu mencari Si Khadam? Kurang moleklah kamu menyergah dia ditengah orang ramai disini.’

‘Maafkan hamba,’ jawab Maut. ‘Hamba tidak berniat mengejutkan Si Khadam. Hamba pun sebenarnya terkejut bertemu dia di sini.’

‘Kenapa begitu? Tanya Saudagar.

‘Sebab hamba patutnya bertemu dia di Kota Bukhara esok.’

Friday, June 26, 2009

Al-fatihah To a legend that passes away

Michael Jackson passed away this morning. Since eleven, he had spent his life singing, making music and making millions of people emotional or happy.

It was wonderful as a Muslim to know that he left this world with the God’s greatest gift of being a brother Muslim. May he find his place amongst those blessed by Allah.

For him Mikhail, Al-Fatihah.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kapas in my mind…..

I finally took that dip.

How can I not?

When you had the chance to be waist deep in crystal clear water, with school of fish, thousands and thousands of them, swarming after the dissolving biscuit in your hand, time it seems, passes away so very slowly.

And as you doze off napping under the shades on the soft sand, worries were light years away.

You were in the moments you could savor for a lifetime. Moments otherwise only captured on Lonely Planet and Samantha Brown on TV.

You could have been in Sipadan, Mauritius or Redang.

I had that moment.

I found that bliss was only fifteen minute boat ride away in Pulau Kapas. To think that my last visit was some fifteen years past and I had let all those time slipped by me.

I would not have take that dip in the water had it not been for my kids and the other half endless pestering and I am glad they did.

Pulau Kapas

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

........ up, must come down


the one year old state's stadium came tumbling down.

I got endless ring from concerned friends inquiring if it was my building. It was not.

My sister asked 'What happened?'

I said 'What goes up must come down.'

The only plausible answer that came to mind.

She laughed.

I could have laughed too but couldn't.

The other architect's pain is equally mine.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Serung and seghia.

What sends shiver down your spine is ‘seghia’ in Terengganuspeak. ‘Seghia aku lalu tepi rumah Mek Joh tu, ramoknye betul dia be’le.’ It physically describe when you are ‘meremang bulu roma’ or ‘naik bulu tengkok.’

When one is said to ‘be’le’ (bela ) it means he or she kept a ‘pelesit, hantu raya, polong, rimau’ or the likes. In Kemasek those many years ago, a person is said to be’le something when his eyes is bloodshot, walk with hand clasping at the back ‘gendong’ing something. We see nothing of course but he was carrying a toyol. To test, jelir lidah (put out your tounge) at him and he will turn around and stare at you with eyes blood shot.

There was one old lady in Kemasek said to be harbouring a pelesit, a grasshopper like creature that sucks on ones blood, sent to terrorize one’s enemy usually the other women.

Then there was one said to be’le a rimau. Yes a tiger. This was not harimau jadian like the one in Maya Karin’s movie but a real one he uses to guard his kebun from wild boar and as a transport. Just don’t try to steal his timun china or ubi setela.

‘Serung’ more or less means the same. It can mean fear of something or that niggling feeling of despise or dislike at someone presence, act or behavior.

‘Serung saya denge budok-budok puang le ning. Manjanya cakak denge laki kite!’

Monday, April 13, 2009

The bicycle story

Admittedly I’m quite into cycling these days. The only form of exercise doctor recommended for 40 plus people other than swimming. I can’t afford to build a private pool and swimming in public is quite an embarrassment – with ‘perut boroi’ and all. Mine is a Giant TCR bought 5 years ago, Yati got her TCR-3 RB [road bike] replacing the heavy MTB [mountain bike – for the uninitiated] only recently.

The first ever bike we had was Along’s in her standard six. It was a Raleigh I think. A ‘basikal puang’ (a lady bicycle) rewarding her Penilaian 5 As. When she went to STF it was handed down to me and later to Ajik and A. Before that all we had was the old ‘Norton’ a ‘basikal tua’ we used to learn cycling. That Norton was the family workhorse capable of loading ‘kayu api’ or several gunny load of ‘ubi setela’ from Tanah Belia. It could also take Ayah and three of us – usually two at the rear carrier and one perched on the bar. Unlike the present tricycles kids have these days, we learnt cycling the hard way with an oversized bicycles riding ‘celah batang’ until you learn the art of balancing and move to riding on the saddle. But because of the bicycle height and the foot hardly touching the pedals a sudden stop results in great knock to the groin.

The current bicycles are much more advanced than the bicycles Mr. Frank Bowden produced on Raleigh Street in Nottingham England in 1888. It now comes with advanced frame materials like carbon or lightweight aluminum alloy. If the old ‘basikal tua’ weigh a ton, the new bike weighs a mere 9kg. That, we are not talking about the state of the art competition road bikes yet.

Bicycles now are downright minimalist – basic engineering components meant for lightness and speed. They used to be well adorned with side mirror, mud guard, rear reflector, dynamo powered light, thumb-bell and fitted with a back carrier and a front basket. Those with babies even had a rattan child seat on the bar.

If bicycles now are recreational, they were once a symbol of effluence. Those who can afford bicycles are those well off, son of government officers or those in the employment of British companies. At the least, a clerk or a teacher. To own and flaunt a Raleigh is like flaunting a Honda if not a Beemer these days. Ayah then must have fitted the bills; son of the Government Forrester working for Bukit Besi Mining Company.

Ask Mak about this.

She once told us (after much persuasion of course) that she fell for Ayah when he and Ayah Da Hadi used to cycle around kampong. At that time Mak was recently moving from Kuala Terengganu and staying in the house near the Pondok Polis. The house later known as Rumah Che'gu Man Ayam. Aki Man had just taken a job as a bus driver with Thong Aik after resigning from the police force. Then Ayah had been widowed and the new kampung lass, a young beauty from Kuala Terengganu was quite a sensation. Those bicycle rides were not without reason. The rest was our history.

Funny Mak never learn to cycle to these very days.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The first candat of lifetime

Yesterday, starting at 2am we had every conceivable dish made from sotong. Sotong goring kunyit, mi goring sotong, sotong bakar and for the finale - ketupat sotong. All caught from the first ever candat trip for me.

Sounds good? Well I haven’t talk about the mabuk part yet.

We went out in three boats. In mine were me, Yati, Amir Kecik, Amir, Kak Ani, Sarah and her brother, [Khir decided not to join – takut mabuk], Saiful and his wife Yah and Pok Sang and the Juragan and his assistant.

We set out at about 530 from Jeti Pelancungan Marang and after an hour ride reached the candat zone. By then there I counted 31 boats. It was still early in the season and the real nest was not discovered yet. The number of boats could reach a hundred at the peak of season, I was told. From the mainland it looks like a row lights from a pasar malam. Trips a few nights earlier came back empty handed, but then again this was all about luck and rezeki.

Yati waited to go candat 19 years since moving to Terengganu but this for me is a trip 46 years in waiting. After a week of heavy rain, the weather was just perfect for this candat adventure. It was a night of full moon and calm but bubbly sea.

Those with fishing gears, mostly gleaming new gear – now that fishing has set as a new craze in the family; started fishing, Ma caught a few kerisi and suddenly the tekong started to land the sotongs. Soon everyone scrambled to candat. I too, until then uninterested in the fishing put aside my camera, asked for a line and began. Sara caught the first one. I got mine soon after. After two sotongs, the bubbly sea took its toll on me. I threw up – big time. Funnily I felt good after the vomit and continued. There were excitement all around when everybody started to bring in the sotongs.

At 900pm dinner was cooked – with lauk sotong of course. It smells terribly delicious but I can only entertain my nostril.

At 1030pm some has had enough and gone to slumber.

At 1230am Amir had her second serving of nasi and gulai sotong. Soon we all decided to ‘angkat sauh’ and head home. In Amir’s word, this was his best ever candat since he first started in 97 – this must be beginners luck for the likes of me.

Gosh this candat thing, mabuk laut included was fun. The mabuk and vomiting makes it tough. I wonder how it would be if the sea was rougher and I am grateful that for us this was not for living.

Next time at Pasar Tani, I won’t be complaining of expensive sotong anymore.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

In defense of taxi drivers.

I took taxis often and I am generally happy with them. They are in a way your private chauffer that enable you to leave your car at home and sleep through the traffic jam or long boring journey to or from KLIA. Of course I never rode in a Brabus or a Rolls Royce, my standard can’t be much of a benchmark. Still the taxis are to me just fine.

I love to talk to them. What their previous work was, the kind of income they are making and the general chat about family, how many kids or wives and all those nonsense. I always believe that if we treat a person with kindness, talk to them as friends would, the response would be reciprocal. You would be surprised at the information and entertainment quality of these chats. I find it even fair and at times necessary to tip them a little. After all that’s what we do at the hotels and restaurants. After all, in our students days we used to work part times in restaurants and those tips were greatly valued. It was never the amount but the appreciation that matters.

This morning [31.3.09] on radio, three deejays were discussing newspaper report of Malaysian taxi-service. Utusan Malaysia even front-paged ‘Khidmat Teksi Teruk.’ So they exchanged opinion. The lady deejay excitedly related her bad experience over 2-ringgit extra than normal 6-ringgit meter charge, and the gentlemen deejay came with great idea of proposing a GPS based tracking and metering system. He even expounded on, ‘No GPS no taxi!’

The tone of their talk, insinuating that taxi drivers are rotten, manipulative, breed, pissed me off. Granted not all are angels but they deserve some humane respect at the least.

I wanted to call and give them a piece of my mind but I am just not into the talk show thing. So I write.

One. The extra 2-ringgit charge could be due to several factors. In cities, the distance back and forth from two points may not be the same due to actual distance traveled. The road going and back may not be exactly the same. At the current rate of RM2 for the first kilometer and RM1 for subsequent 1.5 kilometer, the variation of RM2 is only for an additional 3 kilometer. With KL road network, that is only the length of getting pass the traffic light and back. The time of the day when there are traffic jam or slow down due to heavy traffic may incur extra time charge. To accuse the cabby for overcharging without giving a full fact and to lash out at the poor soul is simply unfair.

Two. To propose a GPS based metering system is a brilliant idea that can only come from a company out to bring the proposal to the government to make into law. Like the flashing light on speeding buses law. Come on. We already had too much regulation that was ill-thought and benefited only certain well-related companies. Please don’t promote another one because the cost will eventually end up hurting the consumers pocket without improving the system. In Seoul, all the taxis use GPS navigation but from my personal experience, they hardly know how to use them and we still can’t get to where we want to go. I don’t see our cabbies a better lot from them either.

The deejays may be part of the society intellectuals with no time and tolerance for the less fortunate and the bit of chaos and imperfection in the society. But it helps if they could ponder.

Taxi drivers are ordinary Malaysians who largely came from the lower income bracket of the society, from Government pensioners, ex policemen and soldiers; people who lead a proverbial ‘kais pagi makan pagi’ kind of living. They had to work doubly or even three times harder than most of us 8-hours a day workers without any benefit of EPF or SOCSO to bridge them in time of difficulty. The exorbitant daily rentals they had to pay the taxi companies, fuel, services and maintenance takes most of their earning away leaving little for children and family at home. See any rich taxi drivers? My point exactly.

If we, or if the deejays wants so much to champion a cause, like to address the issue of taxi service, try looking into their plight. Try highlighting the few who own hundreds of taxi permits, see how they live and compare with the real taxi drivers life. Do some arithmetic. See how far a taxi driver has to travel daily to just meet the rental. Maybe some intellectual in universities can research their life. And maybe some politicians can start championing their cause.

I can bet the radio deejays will chicken from talking about such subject.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Oh those days we were sick.

As I am writing this Alan is warded at KMC. His cough is getting so bad and so long now Yati is so worried. Mak said his batuk is ‘ggegor’ – shaking his body badly.

Other than that he’s fine. He still eat as much. In hospital he even walloped the ikan kembung masak sup air, something he never touch at home. Maybe its got to do with doctor’s order for him to lose at least 7kg.

On day one, he was supposed to have his blood taken for test. The first attempt by the nurses failed. He cried, screamed, struggled and acted like someone was going to amputate his arm. The nurse gave-up. ‘Ni mesti anak bongsu ni kak ye?’ she remarked.

So a couple of hour later I have to drag him to the lab. He kept questioning, ‘kenapa nak ambik darah Alan?, kenapa nak ambik banyak sangat?.’ To that I answered, ‘Nak buat test macam dalam CSI.’

‘Tak sakit, macam semut gigit je,’ the nurse said.

‘Sakitlah!. Macam seribu semut gigit,’ he retorted. The nurses giggled.

I wonder if all his tantrum was a sandiwara. In between his sob, and cries of ‘sakit, sakit’ he still managed to demand, ‘can I have my PSP?.’ What else can you say in such situation but ‘okay, whatever.’

Those years ago when we were sick and hospitalized, the most we can ask for was ‘anggur dalam tin.’ The bribery rate has certainly gone much higher.

Hmmm….. those were the days.

Monday, March 16, 2009

There is only Allah

And if indeed thou ask them who it is that sends down rain from the sky, and gives life thereafter to the earth after its death, they will certainly reply ‘Allah!’ Say, Alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah)!’ But most of them understand not. [Al-Ankabut 29:63}

We are in another predicament because Christians wants to call their god Allah. I mean they want to translate the word god to Allah. Some are fighting against it. Some ulama however have no problem with it. I am inclined with the later.

This is my view.

When we say our shahadah, we proclaim that there is no god but Allah. He is to us the only one God. So to me, to us Muslims there can only be one name for Him. That name is Allah.

What about the gods of others? The gods of the Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Zorrostrians, Freethinkers, even atheists?

Their God is Allah. For there is no god but Allah. It doesn’t matter if they think or believe or taught that there are more than one god because the God remain one – Allah. It doesn’t matter if they call their gods Siva, Vishnu, Holy Spirit, Dewata Mulia Raya or whatever. Their gods can’t be the God, Allah.

That was what I believe what my ‘tok guru’ taught me.

So if they want to use the name of Allah for their god, well and good. Now they know, they acknowledge that only the name Allah is fit for God.

Imagine a non-muslim saying my god is Allah. He is finally agreeing to what our Prophet Mohammad had been saying more than fourteen hundred years ago. If fact Mohammad had only proclaimed what all the prophets were proclaiming since time immemorial. If they are now convinced that the god is Allah, what left is to convince them that Mohammad is the Prophet of Allah.

May as well I end this with Wallahualam (Only Allah is All Knowing)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Do we have to be made to cry.

Some few thousands people, decided to gather and march to protest against use of English as teaching medium for Mathematic and Science. Politics aside, they represent the voice of dissent and dissatisfaction crying loud across the country on an ill-thought policy.

Yes they were always two sides to it, those who support and those who are not. I speak English, my children too; but in the kampong we live in, children are struggling, parents are at a dead end.

Of course it was the ‘government’ decision, they can do it, they can force the rakyat to accept it. They can if they want do a Shih Huang Ti or Kamal Atarturk, burn all non-complying books, chop off the head of hard headed opposition and stand as a true leader, cruel or otherwise.

But in this state of affair the leader even lost their balls. Leadership is like non-existent.

Against the background, it was also a protest symbolic against the current state of leadership nihilism.

And so they march. The march and the voice were then met with a barrage of batons and tear gas.

It made many of us cry. Those who were in the line of fire. And those who can only watch from afar.

Yes those tears were for this beloved country.

But do they have to tear gas us to it?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hanging on to faith

I wonder.

I wonder why is it every ten years or so, economic recession will come calling? And at the same ten years the political scene will be in a shamble? Why is it both the economic and political turmoil come every decade in pair like an evil twin?

I was still in school when the first recession in 76 came. The second ten years later in 85 to 86 was felt because I was a graduate and I had lost my job. It was such a bad year that architecture students in their fifth year couldn’t even find a place to do their practical. That was the time we had the Chow Kit incident, the UMNO Team A (Mahathir-Anuar) and Team B (Razaleigh-Musa) battle and the eventual pengharaman of UMNO.

Then again in 97, we had then the Asian Financial Crisis. Anuar was sacked from his DPM post after tasting the Pemangku Perdana Menteri seat for the few months Dr M was in Argentina horsing. I had then just started on my business and the rising interest was painful.

Now another crisis is visiting and we have our politicians busy quarreling.

Do they (politicians of opposing parties) secretly sit together someplace secret discussing ways and means to keep the rakyat attention away from the economic shambles? 'Hey, things are so bad on our side, can we start something messy? Let there be a little chaos. We'll send some of you to Kamunting, to make it look real.' Do they plan all these so that the rakyat are busy debating legal principles and power of the royalty. Anything so long it’s not economy? A placebo to numb the pain of those (hundreds of thousands of them) finding themselves unemployed or soon staring at the face of it?

I felt badly this time of economic uncertainty too. If a fortnight ago I felt all the confidence of bridging through this meltdown, now I felt unsure. The world economy has this time affected us directly. A fax to my office late evening two days ago put halt to everything I counted on to carry us through. I may be still putting up a brave face. I may still count on the strength of my faith. But I am also very afraid.

This is the time we should be putting the brain and the best part of our mind to work. To keep jobs, to keep paying salaries and to keep some dapur berasap (many a kitchen smoking).

I can only hang on to faith.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

A note for friends in Perak

I am troubled.

I know I share this apprehension with friends all over Malaysia. Friends who felt that something is terribly wrong. The feeling that we are spiraling into political dumps. Where is democracy when the voice of the rakyat is meaningless; when power to rule can be decided by the few and forced down the throat of the masses.

I do not have the answer.

I seek solace in the knowledge that it is all temporary.

I find this much meaningful than any.

Say: "O Allah. Lord of Power (And Rule), Thou givest power to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou strippest off power from whom Thou pleasest: Thou enduest with honour whom Thou pleasest, and Thou bringest low whom Thou pleasest: In Thy hand is all good. Verily, over all things Thou hast power.

[Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation of ayat 3:26 Al-Imran]

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Khir and Sarah wedding

Khir and Sarah marriage was solemnized at about 10pm 23rd January 2009. The ijab and qabul by the bride's father recorded on Facebook for posterity. Never mind Khir's fumbling the first try. 'Ni ketar ni,' the bride's father said.

At reception at the mertua’s house the next day, Ayah was as usual reluctant to go up the dais to do the tepung tawar but he did eventually with someItalic persuasion. Then somebody (I think it was Mad Leh) shouted from the crowd. ‘Ni menantu paling lama tunggu ni.’ Most who know, laughed. The family indeed had waited so long for this.

At 36, Khir managed to be the longest holding bachelor in the family. Over the years, no amount of persuasion could make him see any girls that family tried to introduce. To the point that the anak-anak sedara were so used with Khir’s standard answer to ‘Ayah Khir bila nak kawin? – esok’

And then suddenly the girl who walked in to his office walked right into his heart, as the father of the bride jokingly remarked, ‘masuk perangkap.’

To Khir and Sarah Anis Sulaiman, congratulation. May your marriage be blessed with happiness and many beautiful child.

And by the way, the anak-anak sedara is still discussing whether to call her Cik or Auntie.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Let me be TNB boss.

TNB has just announced a loss of 944 million ringgit.

I can only take a deep, very very deep breath and exhale slowly.

Years ago, Misbun Sidek was the hope of Malaysia at the All England. I can’t remember the year exactly but it must be in 82 because I was staying in Taman Melawati then. Those years, long before the advent of Astro, live telecast was only on radio. So we stayed up late for the hope that Misbun would do well. It was only the early round but all our hope was dashed because of his quick exit in straight set, garnering only a few points. So angry were we that we screamed in frustration.

‘Kalau nak bagi kalah 15-0 bagi aku wakil Malaysia lagi baik.’ (If its only to lose 15-0, better let me play for Malaysia), someone said. ‘Mung pandai ke main?’ (Do you know how to play?) I asked. ‘Kalau setakat kalah 15-0 aku main pun kalah 15-0’ (if it’s just to lose 15-0, I can get the same score) he retorted.

Today I said, let me be the CEO of TNB. I will surely make TNB lose as much. TNB can pay me just half or a quarter of what paid to Khaleb so I could make the loss slightly less.

Are they not fortunate? Those CEOs, I mean. Sitting in such posh offices, the cars, the first class travel, good hotels, huge salaries and they can be still drawing fat check even after the company losing hundreds of millions.

On the other hand, businessmen like us struggled to earn just enough every month to pay our staff salaries and when the collection fall short be the last and least to be paid.

If the whole point of business is to lose so much money, might as well let anyone be the CEO. Pok Mat, Pok Awang, Ah Leong or Mutu can be just as effective with so much smaller paycheck.

If I can take the place of Misbun to lose 15-0, surely I can take Khaleb’s place to lose 944 million.

Just let me be TNB boss.

Kalu dok menang gok saja sangatlah …..

Kalu dok menang gok saja sangatlah …..

Now is already the aftermath of a war. The police troops numbering six thousands (official figure) or twelve thousands (some claim) has gone home. The street is now starngely quiet. Even the party flags only recently waving proudly in the late monsoon gust are packed and stored for the next battle someplace else.

Last night when we drove around town (oops… Bandaraya), Yati remarked, ‘This is Kuala Terengganu that we knew.’

Perhaps as well Farah can now take off her ‘Ni Tranung ke Gaza’ notation on her Facebook wall.

I had refrained from making any comments on the election before the election. Too much has already been said and written.

But it was now over. PAS and Pakatan Rakyat winning it was only reinforcing the knowledge, hope and fear of many depending on which side of the divide they were.

I grew up in a fiercely parochial UMNO family. I watched and took pride in all UMNO winning the elections as early as my memory of attending the rapat umum during that historical first Barisan election. I remember Barisan (then both UMNO and PAS) bashing Kasim Ahmad on his poem of ‘tuhan sudah mati.’ I recall the impact of hate Utusan Malaysia created on the person of Tengku Razaleigh when he donned the tengkolok with what looked like a Christian’s cross in a Sabah campaign; with it igniting the fear of the Muslims, thus killing the hope of Semangat 46. I remember too the Lim Kok Wing led advertisement in the 1999 election, the advertorial in televisions, the full page picture of gnarling Lim Kit Siang, angry Anwar and ferocious Haji Hadi. Those were the days when newspaper played a major role in igniting the feeling of the masses.

But 1999 was also the turning point. With the extreme overkill, rakyat began to see and loath the popular media. I felt the same too. Oppositions saw the power of new media, the web and captured its potential to seriously challenge the establishment.

Sadly, Barisan’s campaign strategist in this is age of Youtube are still living in the cocoon of yesteryears. Internet has enabled anyone to check on any news to learn about what is exactly happening and what was truly said. Full text of statements, remarks and speeches can be downloaded to neutralize the venom of selective reporting. Body language can now be viewed and believed.

In those years, I recall my father (then a key UMNO campaigner) dashing everywhere to solve voters problem. Those who complain of not having electricity will have the tiang letrik put up almost immediately by then LLN. All for that important one vote. The actual power supply can wait till the next complain in the next election, if ever.

We now live in a much richer Malaysia. The election gifts are very much in practice albeit in grander scale. To UMNO, what is sadly happening is the negative impact it created. While a hundred contractor walked away happily with projects, the other seventy thousand nine hundred voters squirmed, ‘doh kita ni buleh mende?’ (so what do we get?)

In this KT by-election, the result was not really that bad. Thirty over thousands still for whatever reasons crossed the dacing. The cup can always be seen as half empty or half full.

The lost of Barisan was very much anticipated. Barisan though early on declaring themselves the underdog (so much for self esteem) did however put up a grand fight. Cost some say goes to a hundred million. It was of course a rumor but even a quarter of it is a serious amount of money.

A friend who came all the way from Kedah to help in the campaign (apart from ‘tunjuk muka’ and carrying a project envelop) drop by at 3 pm, on the election day, exhausted. ‘Dah kalah dah’ he said. ‘For that amount of money’ he said ‘Barisan should have worked out a magic.’ ‘What magic?’ I asked. ‘duit banyak ni tak payah teruk-teruk kempen. Hang bagi duit je kat pengundi suruh pangkah Barisan. Kalau hang bagi seribu sorang pun ada baki lagi dua puluh juta.’

Hahaha… we all laughed. A painful laugh.

That kind of sums up the mood in the run up to the big day. When asked ‘Barisan boleh menang ke dok?’ many simply answered, ‘kalu dok menang gok, saje sangatlah.

It is. Apparently