Saturday, February 28, 2009

Oh Sherrie

But I guess men don't live on bread alone, and hence songs like Don't pay the ferryman won't last that long and can't compete with the love songs that dotted our music scene and our lives.

Like Steve Perry and Sherrie!

I love his voice, strong and powerful, and he would sing it effortlessly.

And I thought Sherrie is classy too. :-)


Another blast from the 80s.

To be honest, the 80s is perhaps one of the most amazing time musically. I thought perhaps it was the best of time. My awake time was spent studying with a small radio on my side in my house in Clayton North, a suburb of Melbourne, just next to Monash Uni and I would tape all the nice - make that great - songs that I still keep until today. I believe I may have over 30 60-minute tapes from those days.

Those were the days...

But I guess with YouTube, one need not have done that. We get to enjoy it with its original music video.

Don't pay the ferryman - Blast from the 80s


I never thought I would enjoy a non-love song, and honestly this song was not high on my list when it first appeared nearly 30 years ago. After all, like Arif reminds me, how could one not pay the ferryman, when I mentioned this song to him. But I guess with the advent of time, some songs remind you of life back then even if due to no particular reason. Somehow, I remember this osng last week and found it on youtube.

Can we come up with this type of song - non-love/adventurous song?

Don't Pay the Ferryman

It was late at night on the open road,
Speeding like a man on the run,
A lifetime spent preparing for the journey;

He is closer now and the search is on,
Reading from a map in the mind,
Yes there's the ragged hill,
And there's the boat on the river.

And when the rain came down,
He heard a wild dog howl,
There were voices in the night - "Don't do it!"
Voices out of sight - "Don't do it!
Too many men have failed before,
Whatever you do,

Don't pay the ferryman,
Don't even fix a price,
Don't pay the ferryman,
Until he gets you to the other side;"

In the rolling mist, then he gets on board,
Now there'll be no turning back,
Beware that hooded old man at the rudder,
And then the lightning flashed,

and the thunder roared,
And people calling out his name,
And dancing bones that jabbered and a-moaned
On the water.

And then the ferryman said,
"There is trouble ahead,
So you must pay me now," - "Don't do it!"
"You must pay me now," - "Don't do it!"
And still that voice came from beyond,
"Whatever you do,

Don't pay the ferryman,
Don't even fix a price,
Don't pay the ferryman,
Until he gets you to the other side;

Don't pay - the ferryman!"

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Congratulation SYABAS for being so efficient, and for being a thug

I must say that SYABAS should be awarded a trophy for being the most efficient Malaysian company.

For owing them a miserable RM83.40, they disconnected water access to my house yesterday. No warning, no leeway what-so-ever. All for owing them 2 months worth of bills.

Just behaving like an arrogant bastard thuggish company leeching on the Malaysian economy and the people.

Tell me, how many thousand Malaysian corporations owe SYABAS, and Tenaga, millions of dollars, and were they taken to court to recover the monies? No, nothing right? And how many thousand other big corporations have been stealing water and electricity and got away with it?

Just because you and I are not protected by lawyers (since we can't afford to employ them), hence we are an easy target for this very efficient thug Malaysian company.

I have to admit, it was my fault for not paying. But I didn't do it on purpose. After all, it was a miserable RM83.40, and not RM83,400.00, so surely I can find the money to pay them (insyaAllah).

But can't they give me say a 24-hour notice, a warning or on a-spot demand of payment or something? I paid immediately through once I got the termination notice, but by then they have terminated it. Be selective too; those with less than a certain amount should be accorded some leeway; those with big sum less.

Please join me in prayer that this super efficient thug Malaysian company will no longer exist on the face of the earth! Amin.

Oh let's have back all the non-efficient Malaysian companies, something that we are used to; something that would become the butt of our jokes, rather than our anger!


Yes, I am angry. Thanks for noticing. Oh, and it costs me RM50 for the reconnection, more than a month's bill.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Mat Disko of 1979

It is that time of the year again.

I am running out of idea of writing something new about him, as I have been writing about him yearly now. While everybody thinks highly of him - absence makes the heart grows fonder, that may not be necessarily the case then.

In 1979 he released an album called Perasaan. After the success of Aku Penghiburmu album, it was a hard act to follow. Of course by then Ahmad Nawab has left for WEA, and EMI was at lost as to who could replace him.

So it was left to one Ooi Eow Jin to produce the album for Sudir. While he did come out with a beautiful piece Gerimis di Lautan, the album may not be up to the previous standard. But for diehards like me, it didn't not matter. The album was touted to the last album, as by then he had graduated with a law degree, and might pursue a career in law instead.

So by hook or crook, we will all like this album.

Yes, Senja berulang senja by AR Ismail is a beautiful melancholic piece. Mat Disko was a funny piece, I guess in a way vying for the coveted spot against Travolta. Hah, how about Toyol? It is another funny piece albeit being a copy-righted song.

I remember having a poster piece of the album cover on my file. A classmate then by the name Jamil saw it and dismissed it by saying that the album should be called Perasan!


I guess by 1980, he would have eaten his words as Sudir came up with two masterpiece albums, and I am sure by then he was into everything Sudirman.

Well Sudirman, rest in peace. Alfatihah.

Kemanakah hilangnya pemuda harapan bangsa?

My dear bros,

I am still sticking to my opinion that English should be the medium of choice at our school, and not bahasa.

In the meantime, I fully support the use of English as a medium to teach science and math. After all, most - if not all, of the terms used in science and math are already english words, Malaynized that is.

So what's my point? Let's try these terms - Negative, positive, electric, cathode, anode, battery, engine, wire etc. Please give me the Malay words for them - negatif, positif, letrik, katod, anod, batery, enjin, wayar.

Hello - are you guys listening, or not? Simple isn't it? Hahaha...

If the problem is with the implementation, then let's tackle the implementation side and not the policy.

I know many of our teachers were not trained to teach in English. Then again, I believe most of their subjects that they took at the uni were in English. So I fail to understand why would they have difficulty to teach in one?

I should know a bit. Arif came back from school one day (years ago) and told me that he learnt about wole number. I have no idea about wole number, so I asked him to explained. Then it occured to me that he was talking about whole number.

Apparently his math teacher pronounced it as wole number. In other words, the 'w' is not silent.

I laughed, corrected him but I guess he understood the concept even if the pronounciation was wrong. So it was not too bad, in my opinion.

I have been chatting with my primary schoolmates and teachers recently. I am sure many had read my entries on them.

You know in 1970, many of the kampung children nearby the small rural town of Lenggong would send their children to this school then named SRJK(I) Lenggong.

Of course we have many SRK in the remote villages surrounding Lenggong. I know that for sure as we have had our scout Jamboree in out school in 1972 with many of them participating.

So they don't have to send their children to Lenggong.

Many of my classmates didn't come from Lenggong town. Some were from Kuak, say about 15 km away or more then. Some from Gelok, Air Kala, and many other villages. It would take them over one hour by bus to come to school in town.

"Why did they bother? It was quite far for them to commute," I asked Mie recently during our chat in Bukit Antarabangsa. I didn't get a satisfactory answer from him. I only got my answer during the chat with Cikgu Hizam and Faridah recently.

Originally according to Cikgu Hizam, SRJK(I) Lenggong was called the Lenggong Government School (or something along that line). It was perhaps the only English school in town.

Many of the villagers in town would send their children to Lenggong Government School to get them educated - in English that is. They could not have done so in many SRK nearby. They could get their children educated in bahasa. While many of the parents were peasants, farmers and doing many other kampung odd jobs, they knew the value of educating their children in the language of the colonialists. To them, it is a way out of the poverty for the children and them.

Coupled with strong-minded teachers like Cikgu Hizam, who would twist your ears, or cane your butt (or cubit your perut) if you don't speak English. My friend (Lok)Man and many others would remember this for sure.

Bapak for one would only buy New Straits Times, so we kids have no choice but to read that newspaper while growing up.

Surely if kids like us from the 70s, from a remote town and villages near Lenggong, can master the language (sort of) and survive America, I am sure kids nowadays living in the new millennium can do better than us.

This the era of the internet, and they are many means for them to learn.

I think it is no excuse for our kids nowadays to become Mat Rempits just because they could not understand the lesson in school. Honestly, I think the Malay kids (the boys that is) are a gonner case. They are becoming pondans, and taking the easy way out.

Pondan here is taking the easy way out, and not strive to try and do our best to learn irrespective.

I told my staff recently after interviewing a batch of 10 Malay male engineers (the day before I interviewed 3 female Chinese engineers) and exclaimed loudly to her, "Kemanakah perginya pemuda-pemuda harapan bangsa?"

The presentation was poor, many could hardly string up a sentence or two needed to save their own lives, and results at the uni leave much to be desired.

Unlike the Malay female engineers, and of course the Chinese counterparts.

Mat Rempit menace? Our boys are becoming pondans? Or is it simply because it is easier to become Mawi and Siti Nurhaliza. Do you remember the first interview Siti gave in English? How does she compare to say Datuk Kathy and Sudirman, both I believe were educated in English.

We have to re-start somewhere. I think may be we should have two medium school like the old days. Some would sit for LCE, some for SRP, and some for MCE and some for SPM. If needed.

Only if we have do.

Otherwise, persevere. Do not have a flip-flop policy. If our parents and grandparents in the 40s and 50s can master the language, why can't kids in the new millennium?

They didn't become Mat Rempit, Fadhil.

EPILOGUE (updated 25 Feb)

The previous policy of teaching in Malay has been around from over 100 years ago. Back then, we have Sekolah Melayu, sekolah Inggeris and Sekolah Ugama. I guess prior to merdeka, sekolah Melayu would only cater up to primary school level. Later on, we would have dual language policy with the SRJK(I) school system - Malay medium and English medium. Hence students (or parents) would have a choice between SRP/LCE and SPM/MCE. I think it went very well. Many of the kampung kids enrolled in the English school to get educated, or if the parents were nervous that their kids would be influenced by the missionary as some were organized by them, then they would send the kids to Malay medium school. This I guess were very much dependent on their parent's vision for their kids. Later on in 1970, all schools were converted to a single medium only - Malay medium, and I believe, this was due to the government succumbing to the nationalists' outcry to place where they thought BM should be; hence no more english and we have seen the results of such policy in ourselves.

It was done at the expense of our children and future competitiveness.

Forty years on, the situation has deteriorated to such an extent that a rethink is required.

I don't believe it was Mahathir per se who wants to change the policy. I think we needed the change in policy to survive in the competitive climate that we are in today, regardless whether it was him or someone else.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A step closer for Tun Tijah

You know in many ways I am glad for our two local favourites.

Both deserve their datukship. If there are two singers that I can identify with during my growing up years, they would be the two.

Senandung semalam while at school, and Hingga Akhir Nanti when I was alone in Perth. No introduction required, I guess.

Of course I have written many entries on her. She playfully reminded the audience which included the sultan of Perak during the Pearl Anniversary Concert; that she would not mind getting a Tun.

It suits her after all.

Tun Tijah.

It was so cheeky of her then.

Congratulation, Datuk. Hope you wish will come true one day.

Much ado about BM

Honestly I believe the issue of teaching of Science and Math in English is going too far.

Police report made, street demo; columns and columns of arguments in the newspaper.

Honestly I think we should look at it with our children and grandchildren in mind, and not for any political mileage for anyone. I think too this sort of policy should be decided by the policy maker without interference from those with vested (political) interest.

God helps us all with the quality of our graduates that we are churning nowadays, if at least in their spoken and written English's skills.

I have written about my own experience from my first year at the uni at Monash back in the 80's as the first batch of Malaysian students to be educated solely in the local language. I guess back then it was a triumph of the nationalists to get rid of the language of the colonialists.

It was a disaster for me. Read it here.

Honestly looking back at my mum and dad, and my elder sis lucky enough to go through 11 years in her primary and secondary education purely in English, I can't see a reason why we should be so afraid of educating our kids in the language of the world. English didn't make bapak, mak and my sis an orang putih celup. In many ways, they are more Malay than say many of us who were educated in BM. 

I think that policy introduced in 1970 was a disaster as far as I am concerned. Since then, the standard of English has been deteriorating and is currently in the dump. We should not only be teaching our kids science and math in English. The whole medium for our school should be in English.

I know I shall receive brick-bats from many. But the past years and the past weeks I have done many interviews as I am looking to hire engineers. I cringe everytime they attempt to open up their mouths. But I need to hire someone with reasonable skills in the English language, whether I like it or not.

Let's do it for our kids - for their future.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Selamat Pagi Cikgu

I would have never thought I would ever see them like what I saw when I was in their class in SRJK(I) Lenggong in the early 70s. Thank you Jie - how precious these pictures that you have in your collections, and thank you Jerd for scanning and emailing them to this blogger.

The above picture was taken in a studio in Lenggong, I believe, and the one below must have been taken in school.

Aah, life in the 70s. Simple life.

But what a life!


I remember a song from those years. I think it is a song from those years. A female singer, but can't seem to recall her name or the title. It was quite a popular song, despite the fact that it is not a typical love song. But I remember the melody very well.

Disana tempat aku menuntut ilmu..
Disana tempat aku menunggu kawan
kawan-kawan sama sekolah
sama-sama belajar

Marilah kita sama
Usaha selalu
Hormatlah guru
Selamat pagi cikgu

(la la la...)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sepetang dipinggir Bukit

(Or loosely translated as "An Evening in Paris".)

It was 8.30 pm. I was getting my nightly dose of the news and looking forward to an uneventful night. All of the sudden the phone rang. Now who could be calling me on a Saturday night? I pondered. Reluctantly I switched on the hp, saw a very familiar name. It was a pleasant surprise to get a call from our district engineer. "Hang buat apa tu, wirid ke?" he asked me. "Wirid depan tv," was my response. He laughed.

"I'll pick you up at 9.15 tonight," he said.

I had been expecting the call for a couple of days now and was looking forward for it

While I was eager to go, I was apprehensive too. For one, I am not a night person. I can count of the number of nights in my whole life I had spent over at the mamaks late at night with friends. I don’t normally do that at all; I try to avoid them at all cost. Secondly, I have not met Jerd and Mie or communicated with them for over 36 years. The last time we were in the same class, we were only 9 years old. I am not sure if they would remember me, and I guess I would not blame them for not remembering. It is one thing to be chatting faceless over the net; it is another to be doing them face to face. "Would there be a connection?" I wondered.

It is different with our district engineer - we were corresponding even during our high schooldays.

I am sure we were friends, in my own kids' way, but at nine, seldom we would understand the importance of such friendships. And the impact they would have in your own life, years down the road.

So he picked me up in his 4WD, and we chatted as we cruised on MRR2.

"Man, it is easier for me to remember the gals in our class," I confessed. He smiled. "For one, there were fewer of them," I tried to justify my statement. On the other hand, after leaving Lenggong, I enrolled at King Edward VII-1 primary. KE is a boys' school. No more gals in class. So I have about 40 additional boys names to remember.

So we went through the gals's names while he was driving. Tata, I remember. She is one of the more prominent gal in class. Salmi, sure. Bani - she has a unique name, so susah nak lupa. Sarah, because I was asked to sit beside her at the front row (near the door) as I had developed eye sight problem that year. Fadillah I remember too.

I remember Anis, I told Lokman. But I thought her name is Nor Anis Aniza, and not Nor Anis Aliza as posted in the class pictures. Lokman seems to concur; but I could be wrong of course. I remember her from her drawing in a ‘Berita” class in Std 2. She had drawn Orkes El Suraya performing on stage at Dewan Merdeka, while this blogger only drew the curtains. I may have been helping Cikgu Laily mark the book, may be that's how I was able to see some of our friends' art work then.

He had no artistic skill what-so-ever then, and not now.

"Hey, you remember Norlida Ghazali?" I asked him. He stares at me wiith a blank face. "Alah, anak postmaster Lenggong," I said. "Oh, yang lawa tu?" "Haah," I said. Now he remembers. Who would not, I guess.

"But I didn't see her in the Std 4 class pictures," I told Lokman

May be she left early too; like me. Lokman nodded in agreement.

I remember her well enough. She joined Class 3A, probably from Ipoh in 1972, and while she may have lighted up the class for the boys to notice, I remember her particularly from one incident. At one time, Cikgu Faridah must have handed the class under my care and Norlida asked me if she could be excused for a restroom break.

And I said no to her.

She looked like she was going to cry, I tried to ignore her request, and continued prowling the class. But in the end I relented. Aiyah, terrible me.

Of course we talked about the boys too, if you must ask. Lokman mentioned Syed Agil and I was in agreement with him on Syed. I mentioned Fahmi and he was wondering about his whereabout too.

"You don’t have Johari’s number?" I asked him.

The answer was negative.

I told him I went to Kuala Kangsar visiting last Raya, and went to the place I thought his parents would live. But I could not find the house and was too proud to be asking anyone. Jo and I even went back to Lenggong in the 80s together for old time sake. He was studying QS then.

By that time, we probably had reached Bukit Antarabangsa. We had no difficulty finding it based on Jerd’s direction, but he didn’t give the exact house number. “No problem," Lokman said, “we only need to find that is different from the others.”

After all, we are going to an artist’ studio. All artistic people live in a different world than the rest of us. Even the gate had to be different!

So there he was waiting for us, embracing Lokman like long lost friend, and then this blogger.

His studio is fantastic. Balinese waterfalls adorned the studio at both the front and at the back and stream of water flows through out the studio, and hundreds of fishes, I guess made the ponds their homes.

My eyes were eyeing many pieces of art adorning the walls, and many of them are not simply painting. Some of them are even made of kuali, bicycle and wheelbarrow, and many pieces of metals. All in the name of art.

Jerd complains that these pieces cannot adorn the wall of his house for safety reasons. Yes, it is true, but I guess worthy to be in any art gallery.

He took Lokman and I on a tour of the gallery, painfully explaining of his vision of how the studio would look like when it is finally completed. I am very impressed. Mie is one hell of a talent, he is down to earth, and he is one of us.

He briefed me about his life and career since graduating from St Louis 20 years ago. He still commutes between St Louis and KL, and the Maybank CEO had just visited his studio looking for painting. He is no ordinary artist; he is a qualified architect too.

(I later told Lokman on the way back that no matter what we will do in the next 5 years with our careers, Mie’s career is simply out of this world, or at least out of the ordinary. You know, ours being an engineer, doctor, and administrator etc, though I am in no way trying to belittle our careers, mine included. Anyone can have such career, right?)

I was in awe of what he had achieved and I still am.

Jerd arrived 10 mins later. He looked like he needs a good night sleep. This man is a workaholic, always meeting people looking for contract. “Aku nak kena pegi Kajang ni,” he explained, “ada orang nak jumpo pase projek.”

At times I can only watch in amusement the banter between LokMan, Jerd and Mie. There were incidents that didn’t involve me, but there were many others that I can relate to too.

“Hey, I thought you would be wider,” Mie told me. “What do you mean?” "Well, engkau dulu besar, lebar, so kami expect engkau lebih lebar lah sekarang. Tapi ni lebih kurang jer mcm kami,” he explained. He is quite open and didn't mince his word. I took that as a compliment.

Well I have grown vertically too, so in the end the proportion was not too bad. But I know I need to lose about three more kilos before the reunion. I know for health reasons I need to do it.

In the end, Jerd left for Kajang, but not before promising this blogger to email him the teachers pictures, and we (LokMan, Mie and this blogger) went to a restaurant to continue our chatting. It was a lesson in history for this blogger. All the things I may have forgotten over the years suddenly were re-told. I am touched however by Mie's story on the difficulty of lives then for many of our friends, something of course that may have slipped my mind. Basically according to him, then one could see the difference between students from the nearby villages, and those from around (Lenggong) town. A single uniform to be used throughout the week, and shoes that have seen better days for many of us.

A far cry from life in 2009 obviously. Honestly we have come a long way, but it is always good to reflect back and find our footing again in this world.

We talked about many things, too many to mention here. In the end, Mie and Lokman told me that they would like to meet up with Cikgu Hizam and Cikgu Faridah and I promised them I would arrange a time next week (before he leaves for St Louis).

The chat ended at about 12.40 am, with promise to meet up next week for a quick reunion with the teachers.

Thirty six years that have passed, all compressed in 3 hours.