Monday, March 31, 2008

Sufiah's Tragedy - A Reflection

I was sad last night when I read Rocky's Bru's entry on Sufiah.

He picks it up from News of the World, which is a tabloid; not a newspaper one could depend one's life on, so I would be a bit cautious so as to the complete truth of the story.

Sufiah was the toast of the nation many years ago when she gained entry to Oxford at the age of 13. While I was impressed about her achievement, then I was not sure if we had the right to claim her as Malaysian as her father was not.

But that's not the issue here.

I guess as we are so quick to claim her as one of us when she was successful, I believe we should not turn our back on her. While I don't claim that I know anything that could turn her life around, someone out there may know.

I don't believe that the government would be able to do much at this moment to help her; I dont know.

But I believe that this is what we as Muslims lack; a society that cares.

We are good at punishing, but have we provided enough avenues for people like her to rehabilate, without any prejudice?We would talk and talk; over many forums and ceramahs, and we would fault people left and right. You create your own destiny, we kept on telling ourselves. We tell everyone who was willing to listen, you make mistake, you pay for it.


But do we have the compassion in us to help fellow Muslims without prejudice?

And I am not talking about Sufiah alone. I am talking about many other of us who have gone astray for whatever reason.

We are quick in condemning them. We are quick to label anyone persona non grata. "You are no longer part of the family; part of the society," we would tell them, "we don't want to see you ever again."

Beyond Sufiah, there are many other Sufiahs in this country; each equally tragic.

Do we care?


I don't know the details of the case to make any conclusion, but I guess it is time for reflection on my side as a father. I do hope that I have done my part to ensure Arif and Akmal would have their childhoods, and not push them to the brink, both in studies and disciplines. If I look at their study hours, sometime I feel they can do better and sometimes I feel that they don't have enough time in a day to complete what they should be completing.

I have told Arif many times that may be he ought to take a break with his piano and violin lessons and concentrates on his SPM. But him being kiasu on anyone overtaking him on the two instrument would not give any consideration to that option at all.

But that
is not something that I have pushed on the both of them; I hope not. They would have to tell me I guess if I am.

The Handmade Violin - The search is over?

And I thought I have a good ear for music; but apparently I don't.

We had searched high and low for a good violin. We had three violins brought to us at the comfort of our home for testing. We thought it was not good enough. We had to travel to music shops in KL for futher testing, and we had to beat the traffic and the long queue for parking at Bukit Bintang area just to do that.

I honestly don't know why KLites like Bukit Bintang area so much.

But we found ourselves in the comfort of City Square soon after leaving BB. Much less people and much less traffic. In other words, less hassle for us.

We found two good German made violins for our consideration; Lothar Semlingger and Franz Sadner. Apparently Sadner is more well known, but we were told that the one that reached Malaysia would have been typically cannibalized i.e. its expensive parts replaced with cheaper parts so as to make its price more reasonable to Malaysian buyers.

Once we zoomed in onto the two makers, my life is made more bearable.

For the first time, I can differentiate between the two violins, if only in loudness.

You see, in an orchestra, you have one piano, a couple of guitars, a couple of flutes and other percussions, but half of the orchestra members are made of violin players. There is a reason why they need to so many.

You need that many to make the violins sound louder than the other instruments. Hence loudness is a trait cherished for violin.

That I can tell, after listening to Arif playing the two violins for nearly two hours. One doesn't need a degree in music to be able to differentiate; however subtle as it may be. Just two good ears. Semmlingger 1 Sadner 0.

But I can't tell the difference in the tone between the two.
That I guess one would need a PhD in violin.

While I would have chosen one over the other - as we can't tell the difference between the tones of the two, Arif is having second thought on which one he is comfortable in handling. Unfortunately he feels more comfortable with the violin with the less loudness.

So that takes us to a score of 1-1 for the two Germans.

And the tie breaker will be by Arif's teacher.
And I can only see my RM flying away from my wallet!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Discipline please - we are Muslims

Can we Muslims be a bit more discipline please?

The picture above was taken two Fridays ago at Masjid Wilayah at Bandar Tun Razak. The road is wide enough, and typically during Friday prayers, cars would double park but still one lane each way would be available for traffic.

What I saw last week was a blatant disregard of traffic rule by this car owner who parked his car right in the middle of the street, blocking traffic. You can see the three students standing in front of the car since it is not moving; while there is a long queue of cars behind trying to pass, which would then block the cars coming from the opposite side.

The car was tripled parked!

I was there going to my car park futher away after going through my doa after the prayer; so the car owner would have ample of time to remove his car immediately after the prayer. Then again, he may be doing his two rakaat sunat after the Friday prayer, which I didn't.

I remember many moons ago, a sermon at Masjid Kuning in Cheras calling for discipline amongst the jemaah in term of parking car. On one hand, of all thing befalling the ummah, we had to be reminded of this thing that should be part of our culture and psyche. But on the other hand, I guess we have to be reminded.

In the case of Bandar Tun Razak, there are ample of parking space along the road, if one is willing to walk a bit. And I thought that with every step that we take walking to a mosque, our sin would be forgiven; hence the further we walk, more of our sins will be forgiven. No?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Back to the 70s

Aah, the 70s....great moments in music, if only in my mind.

While Sharifah Aini, and Uji Rashid would hold court with other male singers like DJ Dave and Hail Amir, a few other singers - slightly less popular or the second tier, with apology - would also make the list of the singers that would remain in my heart till today.

I believe this due to the fact that the first tier singers' songs have been aired to death, while the second tier singers' songs have only been sporadically aired, making them fresher to the memory. Their songs are not easily available in the market, unfortunately.

Who would not remember Rina Rahman, and Salimah Mahmood, both from Singapore. Rina album were typically produced by the very creative S.Atan while Salimah Mahmood by A Husaini Ajmain, whose musical arrangement would not be of typical pop produced by Ahmad Nawab.

This is Salimah Mahmood. Many good songs in her albums. I believe she is still singing till today, though typical of Malaysia to claim her as Malaysian singer when she was actually Singaporean. But even then, it didn't matter to us.

This is not her best photo I must say. The one from her album "Ada Kesedihan Diwajahmu" is much better. And I remember her from her long flowing straight hair. A few years ago during a Raya program, she appeared on our telly singing Ku Ingin Bahagia. Cair lah kejap. She is now a datin and lives in Damansara. How did I know? Well a friend with whom I shared a birthday date, upon knowing that I am a fan, told me she can get me her phone number. I told her, "What am I supposed to do with her number? You expect to call her and tell her I am fan? You want me to be killed twice - first by her datuk husband and then by my own wife?" ;-)


I purposely chose this song by S Atan which is seldom heard on the radio (compared to another cc hit Ku Ingin Bahagia). The song "Ada Kesedihan diwajahnya" would have some element of Javanese music which was trademark and specialty of S Atan.

Of course, Kathy was a favourite too then though she definitely was not a second tier singer. This song reminds me of SPM 1980 which was held in November 1980 obviously!

One rare song from a group from Sabah - D'Atomic Power. I think many female were going gaga over the lead singer, though the group was shortlived. I believe too there was gossip then between him and Mazuin, before she was hijacked to Brunei.

I mistakenly added the song by Gigi Villa in the list and I was too lazy to take it out. I believe this song was released in the 80s and it was sung by a Filipino singer Gigi Villa (pronounced Jiji Villa). We had our laughs then when the 'juruhebah' pronounced her name!

Well, enjoy...

Of Food Promotion, and Opposition States


have seen blogs being neglected with no entries for weeks or months, and then suddenly the blogger reappeared with some excuses (of being busy, travelling etc).

my case the first week was to enable me to savour that rare moment of those bigwigs being humiliated (after seeing them day-in-day-out the past 4 years or more speaking with arrogance and condescending tone). Too many blogs to read to keep track of things so much so I have no time to write anything. I guess enough has been said without a need for me to put my thought on paper.

But I have no excuse for the subsequent weeks!

I hope my life is back to normal (may be not, but that's not too important).

Of Food Promotion & Vacant Position

I received an sms a couple of days ago from a friend (one Soraya Merican aka Aya; a former classmate blogger who is in my blog roll, but had not updated her blog since day one) informing me of the joyous occasion that she is now a restaurateur. Apparently she had taken over steamboat restaurant in Kelana Jaya.

It is called Smokehouse Steamboat and it is located at Dataran Glomac behind the Giant Mall.

I have not had the opportunity to go there yet and sample the dishes, but I would certainly try to be there and test it out.

I tried googling it - I got some steamboat smokehouse website in Colorado Spring. Much as I like the mountains in Colorado, it is a tad too far for me to go there for my steamboat need! ;-)

But I did find this entry. The entry was dated Jan 5, 2008 and it stated that the restaurant was only recently opened. Steamboat buffet at RM18.50? Sounds good to me. The gist of the review is that it is good value for money.

Smokehouse Steamboat
E-G-2 Dataran Glomac,
Jalan SS6/20A47301 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor Darul Ehsan

I have confirmed with her that the restaurant is hers and that she has taken over it from the owner listed in that blog.

Congratulations again, Aya; we'll be there soon. I will provide a report here once I have been there. For sure she would not be uodating her blog anytime soon. She used to be called a lady of leisure (after her retirement a few years back), but with the restaurant, I doubt she would have time for that anymore. We would have to strip her of her title.

Well if you are in the vicinity do try out the latest steamboat in the neighbourhood. She is someone who has taste and I am confident this will be a success.

One by one of my classmates is becoming entrepreneur. You know, when En Wahab Alwi came up with the idea of setting MRSM (based on that Bronx school in New York), he did face resistance in MARA since MARA was not set up to provide education to the poor, but to create a base of bumi entrepreneurs. I guess many of us have come full circle in that respect.

On another note, I am also looking for account clerk cum admin cum secretary. Everything lah, since it is a small company. The person should have a few years of experience handling company's account; and be able to chip on almost everything, so if you know anyone I can be contacted at 012-383 2180.


Last week, I had to travel to Arau Perlis for my rare teaching duty at one IPTA there. It was done over two days starting from Friday, and of course had to end by late Saturday afternoon.

was quite a feeling actually. We started at 9 am from the office in Bandar Tun Razak, crossed over KL downtown (all 'oppositions' territory, pass through Selangor (another opposition state), crossed over the length of Perak (again 'opposition' territory), Penang (of course in opposition hand), Kedah (hmm...another one) and then to Shahidan's territory (which I have to say the odd one out). Apparently when we were there, Perlis was also changing hand!

do wish that the new state goverments were daring enough to have given us free tol or at least discounted tol!

My apology if I misuse the word 'opposition'. They are no longer that, but you know what I mean!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Election '08 - A finale

Let me reiterate one thing here - this is not a political blog and it will not be one. I am just recording election '08 as a personal reflection as the theme of the blog would allow it.

As a finale, I would like to record a couple of issues during this election.

The kids
and I had a big flag during our journey to and from Kuala Lumpur. To be honest, I am glad we did it. Along the way from Dungun to KL, we had over 38 cars giving us the wave, or the slight high beam or the honk. It is nothing compared to the thousand of cars that we had passed by, but significant enough to be mentioned.

These were typical scenes during the journey.

If we were to pass by cars with BN flags - and they are many I must say, I would not even bat an eye lid. I would simply ignore them. To me it is done in the spirit of the election - opposition or otherwise.

Until I had a chat with a relative upon returning from KL today - he is an UMNO party member and have business dealings with UMNO. Upon knowing I had a flag on my car, he asked me if my car has been fully paid. I said no and asked him why. "Be prepared that by Monday, you would be asked to pay back all your loans in total," he warned me. "How would they know? The SB would have recorded my car's number," he explained.

When I told him that mine is P***'s, he changed his statement a bit and said if my loan is with P**** Bank, may be I'll be ok, but C*** certainly would have revoked my loans.

I believe him. He has no reason to lie to me as a relative, and Muslim and a lawyer. More importantly he is on the other side of the divide, and a reasonably prominent one I would say.
And I had enjoyed our conversation the past week or so.

Well, if so, what can I say? This is a police state?

any bank for that matter would have difficulty finding a commercial reason to do that - I have been a good customer. But I guess in a police state, they need no commercial reason.

I would have to say that the trip back and forth was typically good natured. Until we reached MRR2, with the massive traffic jam. Fortunately the jam was on the opposite direction!

On another note, I would like to record too, that upon reaching the flyover above the "Makro" roundabout, a motorbike overtook us on the left and slowed down, while doing a zig-zag in front of our car in the middle lane of MRR2.
He has no business overtaking me on the left, so close to my car and then slowing down while doing a 'jig' right in front of a moving car. If he was to fell, I might not have enough time to stop and I might have run him down.

Out of the blue and for nothing, I must say. He was wearing a BN white t-shirt and had his face covered up. The first two digits of his number plates was also covered with - of all - a KeAdilan sticker.
Why is his plate covered with a KeAdilan sticker? Is he trying to be mischevious? Definitely this is a no no. But the fact he is wearing a BN tshirt but a KeAdilan sticker covering his number plate, and trying to provoke a car in the middle lane with a PAS flag, it is all too fishy.
Close up of his number plate. See the KeAdilan sticker conveniently covering his number plate?

As far as I am concerned, he was a provocateur extreme. I have heard of this type of person many times and this is my first encounter first hand - just because I was carrying the flag for an opposition party. I managed to overtake him, record him, and upon realizing that he was being captured on camera, he sped up and showed us the finger.
His face is all covered up. But he didn't cover the front plate. After he passed up by the second time (we managed to overtake him after he slowed down on the left lane), and upon realizing that he was being recorded, he showed us the finger (which unfortunately was not recorded by my damn slow Olympus! )

Enuff of the election - irrespective of who would win tonight. I have done my part. The rest I leave it to God.


lawyer relative of mine called last nite to inform me that he was only joking when he said that my number would have been recorded by SB when I flew the flag while driving around during election day. I will take that remark in good faith and at face value - that it was just a joke on his side.

Election '08 : The Banner War

These two banners greeted 'pengundi perantau' or if you are like me, pengundi luar albeit one that is registered for 18 years already. The one below was right near the entrance to Merteh mosque.

The PAS workers were still unfurling this big flag at 5 pm yesterday, while the BN workers were nowehere to be seen.
And the battle begins. There is nothing like it in the Malay heartland of Terengganu.

While I can't speak for Kelantan, I am glad to be a voter in another Malay heartland - Terengganu. To me, what I saw in KL pale in comparison compared to Terengganu. KL looks like childplay to me. Terengganu is the real thing.

Terengganu is not about flags and poster. Terengganu is about banners. Banners on issues of the elections, of their needs, of their dissatisfactions. It is a war out here.

Here is one about the royalty.
Hope it is as clear as the day and need no translation. Take anything they give.

Or else the gasoline price will go up again.

Just a reminder to the government of all the promises in 2004.

Yeah, and this one again.

These are all in Kerteh - the heartland of the oil and gas industries.

According to the banner below, they listed the deed of PAS and the misdeeds of BN. Let's hope the BN would respond.
(Below) this was one banner that we show justifying their voting trend in 99 and 04, and how they should vote in 08.

These are the three BN banners condemning PAS. On this basis, BN lost DUN Kemasik big time. Then again...

This one say that PAS is a liar, but no other detail is given.

Lastly some snapshots of me and the kids in Kerteh. The leko was at Teluk Lipat in Dungun.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Election '08 : Live from Terengganu - The Journey

Well, not quite live, but close enough I guess.

We had an interesting journey. In fact to my mind, the journey itself was as important as the destination. We were heartened by what we saw on the way to Dungun. We still have hope, I think, irrespective of the result come Sunday morning.

These are what we (the kids and I) saw this day 7th March 2008 - the day before the election '08.

These two big bikers saw us with a similar flag when they overtook us at the Karak highway and gave us the hands-up as an acknowledgment. That was the spirit during the journey as quite a number of cars with BA flags wave us as they overtook us. I was taking it easy with the accelerator.

Unfortunately, Maxis Mobile is so slow here in Kerteh that I am unable to upload all the interesting pics that we took during the journey and of course all the 'funny' and not-so funny banners in Kerteh. I had a chat at the PAS post in DUN Kemasik, a constituency that was in the realm of UMNO even when PAS ruled Tranung Kite, and apparently the workers there are confident that the ground swell this time around is bigger for them to take over DUN Kemasik.

Updated 8 March 08 - 1514 hours (after returning from Dungun)

The long queue to exit the East Coast Hiway at Jabor. Luckily we have a touch-n-go that was on sale during the last Raya, so it was a breeze for us. Phew!

Someone would have to climb to plant this bendera at this bukit in Geliga Kemaman

The bridge near Chukai

This one right in the middle of town in Cukai near Hai Peng.
This is the Paka Bridge
This one in Dungun

Friday, March 7, 2008

My wishes for the election '08

By the time you read this, I hope I am on the way to Terengganu, or perhaps at my voting centre in SK Sura in Dungun.

If SPR think that by moving my wife's voting centre to here in KL would cause us not to travel to Terengganu where we had voted twice, then they are sadly mistaken. I hope to be travelling with the kids while she would be doing her duty casting in Selangor. Hope it will be an easy ride - nothing to rush, but hopefully Allah will make it easy for us to do our duty.

The kids with their flag before the journey

I do have a wish for this election - I mean I have many wishes for the election. I wish for a government who
  1. is clean from corruption
  2. would not pay commission of RM500 millions for purchasing a French submarines or pay commission of RM340 millions for the purchase of army aircraft or whoexploits the poor and make RM900 millions from land deals
  3. would give free education (I mean really free) for all from primary to university level
  4. would not build a crystal mosque just to showcase Islamic civilization (huh?)
  5. would guarantee the security of the people and the nation
  6. would calculate & report inflation correctly and not be in cohort with industries to increase prices at the expense of the public and consumers
  7. would not use government project to fill up one's own pockets at the expense of the country
  8. would not use ISA for any reason, nor would use C4 to blow up anyone
  9. would not appoint 'sedara-mara' to government's post or projects and run the country as if their grandfathers own them
  10. would not send Malaysian passenger in a Russsian space cab
  11. (whose) prime minister would even sleep while standing up (with the other world's leaders) - NOT!
  12. Fill up as you please

Selamat Mengundi, and may we get a (new) clean government by Sunday morning. Aameen.


I have been sent this sms by my sis. Apparently according to the sms, it was the doa recited at Nikko Hotel by Nik Aziz.

" Ya Allah, kami diserang, dihimpit dari segenap penjuru dalam menegakkan agamamu, sesungguhnya kami tak terdaya. Maka kami berserah kepadaMu untuk bantu kami dalam menegakkan agamaMu"

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The art of ageing

So I am 45 going on 55 today. Or if my partner is to be believed, then I am actually 45 going on 60!

Funny guy this Peter. He has no sense of diplomacy at all with this friend of his. Luckily I knew him well enough not to get offended!

I remember reading an article about Alex Ferguson when MU won the league last season in the Daily Telegraph. The writer describes him as 65 years old, looks 55, and has the zest of a 25 years old. In response to that, I wrote that I am 40 something, look 60 something and has the zest of someone on a death row!

That describes me well, I must admit.

I have read somewhere that it is all dependent on how one present oneself. If you, like me, act as if you are 15 years older than your age, then people would perceive you to be just that.

When I was in F1, I remember queueing for food at the dewan makan. Two seniors wanted to overtake the queue and so they seek my permission. "Dik, akak potong, boleh kan?" they asked me. A friend of mine (Birin) at the same queue responded, "Adik? Ni bukan adik, kak ooi, ni bapak budak dah."

Smart aleck, this friend of mine. But he was not wrong, I looked matured enough even for a F1 student.

When I first joined an oil company in the late 87, I had to undergo orientation week at a training centre in Bangi. When I introduced myself and of course my age, the facilitator asked me, "Are you sure your parents didn't lose your birth cert?" Oh boy, another smart aleck, but I guess I looked that old.

On the other hand, I also know someone having the same birthday albeit many years apart. When we found out that we shared the same birthday - she was a classmate in my MBA class at UIA, another classmate remarked, "Obviously! That explained why the two of you behave very similarly."

There is no doubt about it - we share very similar traits; impatient, emotional and hot tempered.

I would like to think that this single positive trait - passionate - as encompassing these three negative traits.

That's Piscean to you, if the 'horror-scope' is to be believed.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The day Tuan Guru became tok kadhi

I remember the days when we used to sponsor the top guns of Malaysian politicians of the alternative kind.

As members of the Monash University Islamic Society (MUIS), we used to be active politically and were very politically aware. The weekly usrah, where we learnt the religion (and politics), and of course the cricket or badminton games shortly after - we look forward to all these each Saturday.

But the highlight of it all, in hindsight, was the fact that we used to sponsor Malaysian politicians from the alternative camp even in those days.

Who said Malaysian students are a pampered lot, are not patriotic and would only know how to party?

I remember the 3 years in the 80s, we had sponsored two top guns from Al-Arqam, whose name escaped me at the moment (definitely not Abuya). The previous years we had Allahyarham Haji Yusuf Rawa, then President PAS and Wan Mutalib Embong, and the year after Al-Arqam, we had Haji Hadi (now Datuk), then third in line to Haji Yusuf Rawa and Allahyarham Hj Fadzil Noor and Mustapha Ali (now Datuk).

Before you start thinking that we students had too much money, let me assure you that as a registered body at the university, we received grants from the Students' Union too.

Beside, unlike ministers from the establishment, they would be staying at students' house and we would take turn to cook. Definitely they weren't expensive at all.

While I don't remember the details, I remember Almarhum Haji Yusuf Rawa as a soft spoken person. His English though was very good. I remember too Wan Mutalib Embong as being a good translator during the ceramah we organized for the benefit of other Malaysians students at Monash.

But I remember the year we had Haji Hadi and Mustapha Ali well too. At one stage, we even had a young Lim Guan Eng at our centre to discuss the details of the logistic of having Haji Hadi giving a speech at the university for the Malaysian students. Lim Guan Eng then was the president of the Malaysian Students' Association at Monash (he was studying economics, I engineering).

I must say that Lim Guan Eng then was so soft spoken and very unassuming that I was doubting that he was the son of the fiery Lim Kit Siang. I would not have thought he would have made it far in the context of Malaysian politics, but he had proven his worth; being jailed for trying to protect that Malay girl in Malacca, and of course for becoming the secretary of the DAP.

At the talk by Haji Hadi, we were practically ready for anything. We were strategically placed to protect him. Not that we were expecting anything - just in case. I remember seeing him looking down on the rostrum when he was speaking, so I thought he has a script to guide him.

But he was only playing with his watch!

I must say the highlight of his trip, from a personal perspective, would be the fact that Haji Hadi became a tok kadhi that week by marrying off two of us brothers (both Dr, one in medicine and another in engineering) to two of the sisters. I remember it well, because I was the official photographer on that occasion. I believe the two grooms were very satisfied of my picstures then, but since they had given me the camera for me to take pics with, I didn't have any copy at all.

I wish I have a copy of the pictures from the occasion. I have lost contact with the two grooms then (Dr Rainey and Dr Dzahar); otherwise I would be posting them here, just to showcase the PAS president in a very different and rare role.

That of a tok kadhi!