Friday, November 27, 2009

Two Nations in Distress

Just to commemorate the holy day of Eid, I would like to further reflect on the social environment that we are in this very moment. Based on my two-day observations while on a trip to Jakarta, our neighbour down south just the day before Eid.

First Case:
A family of four, including their teenage son, was caught 'stealing' a gunny of cotton (kekabu) from a plantation. They were remanded for 45 days in prison.

How much is that sack of unprocessed cotton? Rp6,000 or approximately RM2.50.

Second Case:
A guy was caught stealing slipper. He was bashed by the public and blood was all over his face when brought over to the police station. He pleaded to the police, in front of the news camera for leniency and told them that he didn't have any money to buy food.

While being questioned by the police he attempted to run away by climbing the roof and after being cornered, he jumped and broke his leg.

All in the name of a pair of slipper and for him to have a meal for the day.

How much is a pair of slipper? Rp6,000! Or less, I must add.

Third Case:
A grandma was tried and convicted for stealing 3 'cocoa' bean pods worth Rp1,500, or around RM0.50. She is sentenced to 45 days in prison.

Click on the pic above to read the case.

How much money have the working elite been stealing from the country's coffers in the last 50 years and why should small people like them be subjected to this stringent law while the 'jaws'
got away scot free?

Remember the guy who stole RM22 M from Bank Negara 20 years ago? How long was he imprisoned? Honestly I thought it was well worth it for him; for twenty years on, I have not amassed anything closer to one million ringgit, let alone 22 millions!

I am sure he would have done his time by now.

Now this is a Malaysian case that I read today in the newspaper.


A grandma (66 year old) was killed when she was injured during a snatch theft.

What was inside her bag? A telekung and her ID.

Two nations of culturally similar people. Two nations in distress.

What more can I say.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Doa dihari Mulia

Sempena hari yang mulia, Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha.

Moga ibadah kurban dan ibadah kita diterima semuanya.

Upon returning from Jakarta this evening, KL KL were playing this Uji Rashid's raya classic from the 70s. It is a wonderful Ahmad Nawab's song, but for some reasons, this song didn't get its fair share of airplay during Raya.

So I thought I should use this song this time around.

Again, Selamat Hari Raya to all.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Haj - A reflection

This was posted at least two Haj seasons ago (2007). And I thought it is high time to remind myself again this Haj season.
The Haj - A Reflection by a non-Haji

I thought it is about time I put my thought on the Haj on this special day. I have been keeping it close to my chest until recently.

You see, coming from a person who has not performed the Haj, and the Umrah, and currently has no specific timeline when he is going to complete the last pillar of Islam, this reflection is definitely not going to be about the experience in the holy land. All those great philosophical, eye-opening and heart-warming stories; I have none to tell you. I have only seen the Kaabah in the telly and pic; I have seen documentary in National Geographics on people preparing for and doing the haj.

Nothing beyond that, I supposed.

I have always wondered when I will be going there. To use the over-used phrase "belum sampai seru" is blasphemous to many. To them, it is like blaming to God when you have the willpower and means to decide it yourself. So I can't, and I won't, use that.

And going from the criteria that make the Haj compulsory, I know I have the mean and that I am still 'young' and healthy enough to be going soon (man, I never thought I would be able to use the word 'young' and 'I' in the same sentence!).

Mum been wondering when I am heading there. Few friends been asking too. Normally I would smile at them without specifically answering them. Some of them went when they were only in the mid-twenties, which is considered very young by the haj convention.

A year ago, a former schoolmate An went to the Haj with his wife Liza (another former classmates). I visited them prior to them going, and after their return, An and I sat at a mamak restaurant in PJ; for him to narrate stories from Mecca, and for this non-haji to benefit the baraqah from someone just returning.

At the end of it, after hearing many stories from An, I made a confession to him that has always been in my mind when the subject of me heading for the Haj was broached. I had never told anyone before. "You know, An, I can't imagine myself in the holy land with 3 million pilgrims and have to fight for basic amenities. Queue to go to the restroom? That was a story unknown to me after 1980. This is my main worries that kept me away from the holy land. Can I survive the 15 hour journey in a bus? How do I answer the call of nature in the middle of the desert with no water?"

I hate to even share restroom with strangers in Malaysia .

I guess it is inevitable. He has had that predicament in one of the bus journey in the middle of nowhere.

I made the same confession to a client when I visited her at her office at the twin tower yesterday. I had earlier made a remark that it is not much of a Raya this time around. So she asked me if I had been for Haj myself.

She reckons that may be I have to go for the Umrah first to get a feel of it. "Doa banyak-banyak and ask for Him to give you the strength."

Of course she herself has horror story about the restrooms there. I shall not repeat it here.

I was reading Harakah this morning while waiting for the Raya solat. It was written by Lanh. He noted some of my worries well in his article.

Perjalanan Arafah-Mudzalifah menguji ketahanan diri sama ada dari segi mental dan fizikal. Apabila ratusan ribu jemaah berhimpun, berlaku ketidak-tentuan yang menguji keimanan dan kesabaran diri.

Bayangkan dalam masa mengerjakan manasik haji, masih ada jemaah berebut-rebut, takut ketinggalan bas. Ada isteri yang sudah naik bas, suaminya belum. Berlakulah kekecohan dan perselisihan, sedangkan perbalahan dilarang sama sekali ketika menunaikan haji...

.....Di situlah jemaah berehat, berbaring berlantaikan tikar dan beratapkan langit. Sambil baring-baring, sesekali sekala terbau najis binatang, mungkin pada siangnya tempat itu menjadi lokasi persinggahan kumpulan unta.

......Berusahalah untuk menjaga wuduk kerana untuk memperbaharuinya atau ke tandas, selain jaraknya yang jauh, terpaksa menempuh ribuan manusia, kemudian beratur panjang. Bersabar dan terus bersabarlah sepanjang malam itu.

Ketika berbaring dalam khemah di Mina, terbayang dalam kotak fikiran saya akan kesukaran sesetengah jemaah dalam perjalanan Arafah-Mudzalifah-Mina yang diceritakan oleh ibu saya ketika beliau menunaikan haji.

Katanya, antara masalah terbesar dihadapi jemaah veteran adalah berkaitan buang air kecil dan besar. Bayangkan jika seseorang jemaah yang lemah sistem perkumuhannya, bagaimana dia dapat bertahan sehingga berbelas-belas jam dalam bas. Tiada apa yang dapat dilakukan, kecuali berdoa dan berdoalah agar perkara mengaibkan diri tidak berlaku ketika perjalanan yang amat sukar itu.

Demikian juga apabila berlaku kes kecemasan, seperti jemaah tiba-tiba jatuh sakit kuat atau meninggal dunia dalam bas. Maka terpaksalah pesakit dibantu oleh jemaah lain setakat yang mampu manakala jenazah terus dibawa sehingga bas dapat keluar daripada kesesakan itu.

I guess I am too proud of a person - egoistical, to be more precise. I have to get rid of it. I need to lower myself for me to see Him. I am lowest than lower in many respects. After all twenty years ago when I first started working, I lived in a kampung house with only basic amenities in Dungun. Of course I have a choice but I was just starting out. I had to be very prudent living my life then.

If I can do it twenty years ago, she reckons I can do it today.

I know it may sounds petty. It is petty. I know that. But it is these petty things that have kept me away from the Kaabah.

God, please give me the strength to meet you at your abode. Soon.

This was posted at least two Haj seasons ago.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bagaikan mutiara

The clip was taken in 2006, but we didn't do anything with it until today.

The song, a favourite from 1980 when I was in Form 5. But it didn't click to me then of the 'pearly' wisdom of Sudirman (and of course the writer, his buddy Syed Haron) until I sat in front of this small pond during a rainy evening and all of the sudden, it all came to me 26 years later.

Hujan yang turun bagaikan mutiara
berkilau bersinar bekerdipan

How could I have doubt Sudirman and Syed Haron, though not in public as this song was too beautiful to be questioned? Memang bagaikan mutiara.

Video taken by Arif during one rainy day in 2006 and put together by Arif today.

And to commemorate the rainy season, here is a tribute to this glorious heavenly gift.

The rain. Aah, bagaikan mutiara!

Enjoy the show!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kenang Daku Dalam Doamu

Which version is for you?

I always think that the original is better, hence I would go for M Bakri's version. But SM Salim and Sharifah Aini's versions are not too bad. In fact I would put them a close second.

But there is caveat to my judgment there. The close second is the original SM Salim's version in his album in the 70s as produced by Johari Salleh - not the karaoke version. That's a much better version than the one I found in Youtube. This one in the karaoke version certainly sounds like an el cheapo music to me.

But the originals are heavenly. What else can I say on this keroncong classic? I love the 'rolling' guitar, which is a trademark in keroncong songs.

I would just normally close my eyes and be immersed into this wonderful song. In other words, one would cease to exist as a person.

What do I mean by that?

You listen to it, and you would be one too. With the yearning and the longing!

Yeah, kenang daku dalam doamu.

This is MBakri.

And here is Sharifah Aini. Interestingly this is one piece with a twist - not the dancing genre type ok!, but this piece is laden with asli flavour that change into keroncong during chorus. I prefer the keroncong to be honest, but it makes this version different.

SM Salim - not his best version to be honest.
The instrumental version by Hamzah Dolmat

Although I would not rate this version too highly, I know this song is one of the most covered Malay song.
I think she tried too much to sound like a genuine keroncong singer, but failed miserably.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tigo Gunuang - A Humanitarian Tragedy


This is not my entry per se; meaning I did not write the entry. But it is definitely of interest for me and I am reasonably sure to many too. And I have posted the same entry at my - practically the same exact word, but that entry is dotted with more graphic pics of a humanitarian tragedy. If you want to see more pictures, please go to that site. The link is also on the side bar of this blog.

My brother Aboy and his friends Wan and Hafis went to Padang on the 9th Nov (or 40th day since earthquake hit Padang). Basically it was humanitarian mission albeit on a very small and personal scale, with many boxes of old but usable clothes and of course cash that hehad gotten from friends and relatives - anybody actually who is sympathethic to the plight of their own kind and brothers.

If you were to ask me during the Acheh tsunami, I had always thought that the main reason the mosques had stayed intact in many places in Acheh, when most other buildings surrounding it were in total annihilation, was that it was made of concrete and that they were better built than the others. 

But I could not explained what happened in Padang. As pointed out by Aboy below, the earthquakes was centered at least 50 km from Padang, but the way Padang was destroyed was way beyond what our eyes could perceive. Some buildings were left untouched, some were in total ruins. I am not sure if you could explain it from the plate movement of the earth beneath.

All the pics were taken by Wan and Hafis.

Here by I post his entry with minor changes for clarity. OK Aboy, take over from here.

Tigo Gunuang jadi makam besar

Perjalanan dari Padang ke Lubok Laweh mengambil masa 2 1/2 jam. Kami tiba jam 1245 wib. Ada dua laluan, satu melalui Sicincin kearah Bukit Tinggi, satu lagi melalui Pariaman. Kami guna laluan Sicincin.

Sicincin ni kira pekanlah jugak, tapi kena lalui kampung Tandikat, sebelum masuk kearah gunung dan hanya ada laluan satu lorong jalan jenis simen blok.

Kampung ni juga dikenali Tigo Gunung, sebab ada 3 gunung keliling, dibahagi kepada 3 dusun. Lubok Laweh, Cumanak dan Palo Koto (Kepala Kota).Terletak dilembah gunung sebab ada sungai mengalir melepasi ketiga kampung.

Here are the actual photos before they were combined using photoshop by Akmal.

Lubok Laweh 132 kematian, 51 dibawa keluar, yang baki tertanam hidup2 Cumanak 76 kematian, Palo Koto 32. Digunung sebelah kiri tu agak mistik sebab ada penemuan barang2 mistik spt bantal, lesung etc. katanya tempat bunian.

Caption: Hampir jadi padang Jarak padang tekukur di sini. Di lopak air tu bekas masjid yang dah hapusada gerai kopi sebelah kiri, semua di gerai mati, hanya nampak gerai aje. Bendera putih tu tapak kubur lama.

Direkahan sebelah gunung tu, tempat rumah pengantin yg sedang pesta, emak pengantin didapur mati, sementara pengantin dpt diselamatkan, Dihujung atas ada sebuah rumah yg masih tersangkut , hanya boleh dilalui dgn heli masa kejadian.

The house is hanging precariously. 

Nofaldi 28 tahun, dimasa kejadian katanya sedang tidur dirumah, dia lari keluar rumah masa gempa pertama, jerit emak dan adik 23thn, dan 2 keponakan yg baru 2-3 hari balik dari Jakarta bercuti di tanah Minang. Tanah waktu itu beralun, ada yang terangkat keatas dan kebawah, dan dia dpt lihat gunung yg kami berfoto itu bergerak kebawah sebelum menghempas kampung. Semua pokok karet (getah).

Selepas kejadian, dia merayau cari emak, tapi ada org kampung kata emak dia bawa cucu2 dan adik ke kedai. Hingga kini tak berjumpa. Sedangkan abang ipar dan kakak naik motor keliling kampung, hanya jumpa mayat, tapi motor hilang.

Caption: Nofaldi sedang diinterview team Padang.

Kami jumpa khemah Mercy dan Amal Malaysia. Mereka agak aktif, termasuk yang antarabangsa. Mengikut infonya, ramai NGO antarabangsa cuba ubah Aqidah anak2 di sekolah kpd Kristian.

Kalau NGO Muslim beri 1 gula2 kepada anak2, mrk beri 4!!

Secara keseluruhan , tak se-ngeri Acheh, tapi, trauma kepada yang hidup, masih ada yang berkhemah dihalaman rumah, dan masih ada gempa kecil. Sepanjang 2 mlm di Padang, kami tak rasa gempa .

Jarak pusat gempa is 50 km di Laut Pariaman, and Pariaman ke Padang is another 50km atau lebih, tapi mengapa Hotel Ambachang and sekitarnya menjadi sasaran utama, selain dari perkampungan Tigo Gunuang (kena ikut telo minang) Mssjid yang sentiasa di imarrahkan terselemat dr kejadian, yang sentiasa berkunchi, dikuburkan.

Hotel Hang Tuah, still kukuh, I rasa sebab owner muslim n dia tak benarkan pasangan bukan muhrim menginap, sedangkan hotel yg 4 atau 5 bintang, tahu tahu ajelah. Hotel Rocky di Jln Permindo, pun tutup.

Spt baca dlm harakah, Jln Dipenogoro yg kelam setiap mlm n dipenuhi waria, kini sepi.......

(Caption: The five star 'solid' Hotel Ambacang runtuh)

Yang kagumnya, mengapa ada yang terpilih dari Allah, hotel Ambacang dan sekitar, hancur, tapi kem tentera bangunan lama didepan mereka, steady aje. Begitu juga Kompleks Matahari, Ramayana, rusak teruk sdgkan toko2 disepanjang jalan tu tak runtuh pun.

Masjid di pergunungan, yang aktif dan penuh aktivity keugamaan, selamat, sedangkan yang sentiasa berkunci atau orang jarang solat berjemaah, hancur lebur.

Team ke Padang bergambar ramai - Hafiz, Aboy, Kak Yus, Wan and Pak Supir.

Air Asia - Memang appreciate dgn tambang kos murahnya, dan beri tiket percuma 3 hari lepas gempa. Tapi dari komen2 NGOs yang gunakan pkhidmatan Air Asia, mereka tak kompromi dari segi berat bagasi kpd kakitangan NGOs. Jadi, kos agak mahal bagi NGOs nak bawa masuk makan melebihi 15kg (RM10) 25kg RM55.00.

Sebaiknya, kos bagasi NGOs di beri diskaun sebab kerja2 amal. Group Amal paling aktif pada mata I, kira turun naik kapalterbang , mesti ada orang2 mereka silih berganti.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tigo Gunung - Padang Jarak Padang Tekukur

(Click on the pic or scroll down for the full pic as it was meant to be. Taken by Wan and edited by Akmal)

Coming soon - watch this space and my fotopages for personal pics and narration of the Padang earthquake, after 40 days.

Lifetime lessons to be learned here, that's for sure.

Alfatihah untuk semua yang meninggal akibat gempa.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ku Ingin Bahagia and The Universality of Music

Yes, music is universal. This is one (overused) cliche that I will use as the premise of this entry.

During the 60s and the 70s, or perhaps even in the 80s, we have adopted and adapted foreign song as our very own. It is called lagu saduran.

Some are really foreign to our ears and are really painful to listen to, but there are some songs that are perhaps more Malay than many Malay songs, especially songs from this decade. After the popularity of Fantasy by Earth Wind and Fire in the 70s, it was quickly adapted by BDB and so Khalayan was born.

Picking up English songs for adaptation was harder especially these days since many would have known these songs, and many would mock these adapted songs, especially us teens in the 70s. When Bee Gees released the Spirit Having Flown album, a friend Kamal would come to me day and said BDB has came up with a new song Terjadi.

Nice one Madi.

one were to buy an album in the 70s, you would know immediately if the song is composed locally or somehere else by the notation CC. For some reasons, they would not just revealed the song writer and the composer, instead they just put a note saying that it was copyright controlled.

Obviously the gomen aka RTM didn't like it then (in the late 80s) and banned adapted songs from the airwaves. It was said that adapted songs hinder the creativity of local composers and make it too easy for anyone to come up with an album.

Much like our soccer scene I guess. Just hire any pak hitam to be your striker and hey presto you have a super league team.

Honestly, I do enjoy some of the adapted songs. They were so good that you didn't even know they were adapted. Japan would be one source with it melodious and soft language, that it was ideal to be adopted into Malay song, never mind that culturally we are a constellation apart.

In 1979, Rina Rahman (now Datin) was reasonably popular with this melancholic song Ku Ingin Bahagia. I love this song and have played it to death, to be honest. But only with the advent of You Tube, I would know that it was Japanese song by Momoe Yamaguchi titled Akai Unmei.

Arif, just like me 30 years ago, thought it was a Malay song through and through.

Here is the Japanese version.

Another one was this 70s song by Rafeah Buang - Tangisan di Sisiku. Aaah, again, it was a sad song that I love so much. You can compare the two here.

Here is the original by Mieko Hiruta. I guess the first one was her in the 70s, and the second one when she was older. You can hear it in her voice.

There is another song in the 70s - Hari Ini tak Seindah Semalam by A Rahman Kadir, which I believe, was adapted from a Japanese song, but I could not find even the Malay version anymore. So there is no way for me to find the Japanese version.

Of course not to mention the beautiful songs and voice by Mayumi Itsuwa that we used to listen to in the 80s.

Even if I didn't understand a single word of Japanese then.

This one has no translation but the recording is better. This is Koiibitoyo (My Dear Lover). And a powerful rendition by Mayumi Itsuwa.

No wonder in the 90s, when I was spending months of my time in Japan, I was taken by their songs. I even took the time to spend hours in their CD shop in this small town of Tokuyama and look for the songs that I love so much which I spent time listening to after coming back from my training at the Idemitsu refinery there.

To me, Japanese is such a beautiful language and it shows in their songs.

And people, if I may add.

But then again, we are not the only one guilty of such digression, if you could consider this as a sin. The Americans did it with this Sukiyaki rendition by A Taste of Honey.

It was quite a popular in 1981 in Australia.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Kuala Kangsar Banjir!

Don't worry, it happened nearly 43 years ago.

These pictures were taken in January 1967 in Kuala Kangsar. I believe it was Raya day, as we were all dressed up. And I am sure the occasion was not the flood per se.

(Here we were at the kaki air near the clock tower roundabout. This is the road leading to Bukit Chandan and Lembah where the jetty of Sg Perak is if you want to go to Sayong. Nowadays though one can cross the river via a bridge.)

Nowadays with the Chenderoh and Temenggor dams, I don't believe Kuala - as we affectionately call Kuala Kangsar, will ever be flooded again, unless of course if something catastrophic were to happen. Nauzubillah.

But like Kota Bharu and Kelantan during the monsoon every year, here too we would be enjoy ourselves too in the main street of Kuala Kangsar. I bet you, if you were to go to pekan Kuala nowadays, you would be able to recognize this part of town. Nothing has changed that much; and I love it the way it was.

Kuala Kangsar is of course our 'kampung' on my paternal side, and beyond it being our kampong, it was also our hometown after we moved to Kuala from Taiping in 1978 (to the protestation of us kids, who were by then so accustomed to the bigger town that is Taiping after moving from Lenggong at the end of 1972). In the family, in the end, we have two groups - those who speak with the Northern slang of Taiping and those who speak the Perak slang.
Of course then us elders would always mock the youngsters for the then perceived less-than-refine slang.

That's the golden triangle for us - Taiping, Kuala Kangsar and Lenggong. Towns I would call home at certain points of my life.

Here are the Hariris with Opah Wan Tak and PC Mat at Jalan Besar Kuala Kangsar during the 1967 flood.

Here we are again at the Sg Perak where it burst its bank that year. I was just four years old then, with my sis and an auntie. This is the road leading to Bukit Chandan I guess.
That's Mak with her sis-in-law aka our auntie and her mother aka our 'grandmother'.
Here we are in Talang at my grandpa's house. I guess these were us after our raya in the flooded town of Kuala. That's my grandpa Bab. The house is still intact in Talang.

Talang of course was not flooded, but then again this house was on stilts, so it does not matter if it flooded or not.
Now I am bored. Where is my PS2? Oh sorry, wrong decade. Hehe... Where is my little red corvette? Or with my cowboy dress, I need my gun!

Now I am really bored! What a big yawn. May be by now I was wondering when this picture taking session was going to end. Hahaha.

I am glad bapak was much into photography and recording those moments then. The problem being the photographer is that he would almost always not be in the pictures.