Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Teluk Lipat dalam kenangan?

I certainly hope that it is not the end of Teluk Lipat.

I saw in the news last night on the severity of the erosion at Teluk Lipat caused by the relentless monsoon winds and waves. It didn't surprise me at all. I have seen it all before - the winds and the waves, that is; but to be honest, I have not seen such erosion when I made Dungun my town.

In hindsight, I must say I have seen it coming over the years when I was there, but surprisingly no one had done anything to mitigate it. Obviously as an armchair critic, it is easy for me to say, but for a state flushed with wang ihsan, I am sure they can find the money to mitigate the erosion.

Teluk Lipat holds many memories for me. It is the place I normally went for my jogging in Dungun. It is my favourite place, despite the fact that it is tough to sweat while jogging at Teluk Lipat due to its windy condition. But then again, it is to be expected since road is just next to the South China Sea, so you tend to get constant breeze from the sea cooling you down.

I had never complained about it. It would not make sense anyway. After jogging for a couple of kilometres, I would only need to sit inside the car, wound up the windows and definitely you would be sweating inside the car. It didn't bother me then that it would probably leave the car smelling with my own sweat. It is a 13 year old dad's car anyway. I am sure by then it would have more than the family's share of sweat!

Sorry I digress.

Actually, then I thought the benefits of jogging would be in the sweat. I love the feel of it when I get the whole shirt wet in my own sweat. It is a great feeling; so when I didn't get while jogging at Teluk Lipat, I thought something was missing.

But I found a way to get me sweating and hence continue to make Teluk Lipat my jogging track.

Until much later I was told that the benefit of jogging (or exercise) is to raise your heart beat, rather than the sweating. Aaah, well. I was bad in biology I guess.

Sorry I digress again.

After many minutes inside the car, catching my breath and sweating, I would then walk to the stalls nearby at Teluk Lipat and enjoy my share of that Terengganuan delicacy. With the wind caressing your face and hair - piping hot keropok leko in your (right) hand, and a glass of teh tarik in your left hand, fronting the sea and occasionally the Ganu meks or ITM gals passing by as sweet candies for the eyes, what else could you ask for?

At times I do wonder what I was doing in the land of keropok leko, away from my favourite hometown of Taiping, but surely that descriptions in the previous paragraphs would alleviate any home sickness that I may have felt during those years.
No, I was not jogging when I took the pic. I must have just returned from work - I was
still in my office attire, and wifey and I must have decided to enjoy the breeze at Teluk Lipat.
When you were in such a small town like Dungun, and living just next door to the
beautiful beaches of Terengganu, would you be visiting the malls or the beaches.
 Ooops, sorry. there were no malls then in Dungun!

Then I had lived only 2-3 minutes by car from Teluk Lipat, though our kampung house did not face the relentless monsoon winds - not directly anyway, but another good friend of mine Zai aka Zainuddin Rahim (a former school classmates and house mate in Perth) had a nice (wooden) government bungalow in the vicinity of Teluk Lipat. I had always been envious of him to get that privilege. 

I wish it was mine.

I love slow driving at Teluk Lipat from one end to another. It is at least 5 km in length; even then it was a tad too far for me to jog. Just wind down the windows - forget about air-conditioning. And don't worry about driving below speed limit. You can just act local; everybody does that there in Dungun. They will not honk at you for driving at jogger's pace. 

Life is like that; when you live near the sea.
Teluk Lipat dalam kenangan. It started at POint A and ended up at the ITM campus.
The road is called Jalan Pantai Sura. I am not sure how they got to name it Teluk Lipat.
Lipat, Lepat, I dont know; the road is a straight road anyway. On the other hand, if you were to cross
Sg Dungun, soon you will arrive at the most beautiful beach in Malaysia - Pantai Teluk Bidara,
immortalized by Kopratasa in their classic Keronchong song.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Condolence to Aya

A dear friend of mine lost her mom last night.

I had met her mom only once; and that too during a Raya visit to their home in Assam Kumbang Taiping. I thought she was a very soft-spoken and friendly lady, not unlike her daughter(s), I guess.

While I can still visualize her on that Raya day, inviting us to eat at the table and chit-chatting with us, I don't remember any specific. Years must have passed since that visit and typically I would have forgotten about it. But for some reasons, she is someone I would remember - not necessarily from that Raya visit, but more through her daughter actually.

From my interaction with her daughter, whenever the subjects of parents would appear in our conversations, and whenever I would relate the story of my own father, she would be able to tell me on how my father would walk from Taiping train station to our house on the night before he passed away. That story is an urban legend for our family; but we had never thought that someone outside the family would also know.

And especially her.

And how would she know (since she herself was away in the US when it happened)?

Her mom, of course.

Her mom obviously had related the story to her for her to remember that. I was surprised to be honest; but it was a pleasant surprised. Pleasant since her mom knew the story too.

I am sure she has many other good traits; perhaps not unlike our moms and other moms in the world. And knowing how she turned out, I am sure her mom would have done a great job with great.

When I invited her to visit a dear teacher of ours who was battling cancer a month ago, she responded by saying that she only has weekend to go visiting, and that all her time after office hours during the weekdays were occupied with visiting her mom daily.

I honestly did not realize the severity of her mom's conditions then, but she still volunteered to visit Cikgu Wari during weekend. The going back and forth between work, home and hospital (on a daily basis, and during peak hours of KL traffic), I would say, reflected her commitment and love for her mom. She did all that without fail, so I am told by another friend, and I guess she was there until the very end last night.

I am not sure I would have her strength do it for months, to be honest.

Good on you, Aya. I am sure your mom is lucky to have you as a daughter, then again, I don't think she was simply lucky. She had done a good job bringing you up too.

Moga Allah mencucuri rahmatNya keatas ruh ibunda tersayang dan dimasukkan kedalam golongan orang-orang yang beramal solleh.


Friday, October 28, 2011

The Friday Sermon

To be honest, I didn't follow thoroughly the Friday sermon this afternoon. This time the khatib was talking about the roles of the Islamic scholars, and that their seemingly esteemed position in the society  is fast spiraling down in society's eyes. 

I have no excuse actually for not following the sermon. It was after all a multimedia sermon, so it was complete with power point presentation of the sermon, supposedly it was easy to follow. 


But I was, this time around, seated closer to the back of the main hall, so I had a tough time reading the points shown on the projector. May be I need new glasses! Honestly I think very highly of a multimedia sermon - I think all mosques should be doing it every time, all the time and at Masjid Saidina Osman, I seldom, if ever, fall asleep, never mind the topics.

Practically the first point of the sermon talked about how at this moment, the society at large is belittling the ulamaks, and that set me thinking hard as to the reasons why, and hence I was drowned in my self-thought (and self-indulgence), rather than listening intently to the sermon itself.

I remember the 80s when I was a student at Monash. I was (reasonably) active as a member of MUIS (Monash Uni Islamic Society) and every year we would invite some prominent personality or organization from Malaysia during the term break.
Religious Centre, Monash University.
A hang-out area for us students in those days,
other than the library and the student union of course!
And during one year we had invited someone from al-Arqam - I have forgotten the name of ustaz and all the sermons he had given to us then, except for one conversation we had with him during one lull period. 

He was lamenting about the situation in Malaysia, about how the society mistreated the scholarly pursuit of the religion. "Ustaz," he was many times asked, "anak saya SPM dapat grade 3. Nak masuk universiti tak boleh. Boleh ustaz ngajar dia supaya dia dapat jadi ustaz?"

"Kurang-kurang jadi orang berguna."

I am sure the youth of today would not have any idea of third grade in SPM.

Or in another situation, the parents would be thinking if his sons aren't good enough to be engineers or lawyers, he would be grateful if they would be religious teachers!

"Allah, dah tak pass universiti baru nak belajar jadi ustaz. So," according to this good ustaz, "how can Islam progress as a society if the religious teachers are those of third graders and drop-outs?"

An ustaz who would know well how to read the quran, but knew little else outside their trade.

I am not trying to belittle the ulamaks, the scholars or the religious teachers. They are doing their parts in this worldly world; the parts that I am lacking as a person, so don't misconstrue with this piece of article. I am only reminiscing the conversation we had in the mid-80s, and thought it is one of the reasons of the predicament that we are facing today.

The good ustaz, then to me, had a very good point. We need straight As students to take up religious studies, but at the same time not limiting to purely religious knowledge only. We need engineers, economist and bankers to be student of religion.  We need professionals in the scholarly pursuit of Islam. Islam is a way of life, hence we need religious scholars who know economics, engineering, medicine, philosophy, finance and other so-called worldly pursuit. We owe it to ourselves to do that, and not only admit weak students into our religious institutions, someone who eventually could not handle a scholarly debate with the society at large.

And the same goes with our tertiary institutions too. We need high quality students to take up teaching posts at our university. We need the best of our students to move on to PhD level and teach the next generation of engineers, doctors and professionals. Only then our universities can prosper, and move to the next level - and we would too as a country.

What say you?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Somebody amongst nobody or nobody amongst somebody?

Which one do you prefer?

After working for nearly two years at Perak Hanjoong Simen, I got an offer to work for a local black gold company.

Yes, that was the break I was hoping for. All my student life I was hoping that some big black gold companies would come a-knocking and hire me. But instead for nearly two years, I was bathing in cement dusts!
Not much different between the two pictures, if
at least in term of uniforms and helmet!

But I was comfortable there. They made me Head of Packing House with view that I will take over the clinker plant once I am ready. For a novice engineer, I was not keen as I knew I was not ready. But there was only five of us local process engineers then and there were three Korean section heads and one Korean Manager. It was too early for me to eye their positions obviously, but I guess we were kinda important in the hierarchy of things in the organization.

Every time we passed by the security, they would salute us as if we were big-shots, never mind that we were only small fries in the ocean. It does not matter to them either that most of the time, I would actually walk pass them since I would take the Taiping-Kuala Kangsar bus to work.

They would salute me nonetheless.

Some other times I would take my father's old Opel to work. 

They would still salute as if I was driving a brand new three-pointed star.

At the office, I can even drive the locomotive if I wanted to, for the locomotive was under my charge.

But in late 1987, I got an offer to work at a much bigger organization, and while I did not hesitate to accept it, I was apprehensive about it. I told me my sis that at PHS I was somebody and now I will be nobody again.

Her remark then would be that currently I was somebody amongst the nobodies, and soon I will be nobody amongst somebody!

She was right of course and then again there was the money factor involved too obviously.

So I went from the cowboy town of Padang Rengas with two rows of shop houses on the both sides of the road to a non-existent town a.k.a. fishing village of Kerteh within two weeks of October twenty five years ago.

What have I gotten myself into?

At least Padang Rengas people made proper curry, while in Kerteh they even put sugar in their curries! 

Oh dear!

Coming to the office, we would normally be checked for stuff we brought in (or out). The securities would not salute you anymore; you would have to salute them if you want them to let you in.

Not quite, but close enough I think.

Once I was caught taking pictures in the office compound - the camera was confiscated and we had to plead to the security to return our camera - we didn't get a permit to take photo in the first place. I thought we only need permit to take photo in the plant, so I didn't realize the office is considered an extended part of the plant.

That show how my importance in the new job.
LIfe as an engineer in late 80's Kerteh. We were not engineers who
sat around in the office writing file memoranda, at least not
while taking pictures! I even had scrapers with me to take
samples of deposits during the turnaround and inspection.
Hard working me! Hahaha.

But I realized the examples above are only artificial way to see thing and it is not the most utmost importance in my life as an engineer. They are only true in a remote and individual office complex as noted above, and is not applicable in a public office towers in a typical setting in Kuala Lumpur. Here in Kuala Lumpur, we are more anonymous, and as long as one has the parking card, you would be let in.

At Dayabumi, no one would know what car I drive, or if I drive one at all!

You can really be anonymous which is why, in many ways, I prefer life in the big city.

Even till today.

But that was more than 25 years ago. In any case, the title is no longer true. It has not withstood the tests of time.

For me now, I am nobody amongst nobody! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Belasungkawa: Ahmad Jais (1936-2011)

I once asked Ahmad Jais, "From the hundreds of songs that you have recorded, which one is very close to your heart?"

Suddenly he lowered his gaze, and paused. He didn't answer me immediately, unlike the question before. There was silence in the air - a queasy silence. In fact the pause was an extended one, such that I felt uncomfortable about it. May I had asked a wrong question. He had been so chatty up to this point.

He had recorded over a 100 songs in 15 albums. Most of his songs are a hit, and if you were to buy his EP in the 70s, you would not regret it. All four songs for each release are halwa telinga, every time, all the time.

Then he looked up at me  - I was waiting with bated breath, and he said, "It would have to be Sejak Kita Berpisah."

I knew most of his songs as I grew up with many of them, and I am talking about the late 60s and the early 70s, even though I was practically a child then. But I didn't know this song. I was expecting him to say Diambang Sore and the likes. I looked at him with a blank face and suddenly it occurred to me and I blurted out, "Isn't that the Kartina Dahari's song?"

Yes, Sejak Kita Berpisah is a favourite keroncong song of mine, and I thought it was Kartina's and no one else's.

He looked at me in bewilderment. "No, no, it is a copyright control song," he explained. "It means the composer is unknown."

I didn't have the heart to ask him why he picked that one up, over the hundreds of other songs. But my imagination were running wild with speculation, and I left it at that.

Apparently he recorded the song in 1966, while Kartina Dahari recorded the keroncong version in 1969.

We went on to talk about how much royalty he picked up during his heyday. "It was a miserable two cents per song!" he exclaimed. How ciput it can be, and I guess I can imagine (real) life as a singer, glossing over the glamourous pictures as shown on telly and magazines.

Yes, and I thought too that I could be multi-millionaire by running my own company! ;))

That Dato Ahmad Jais for you, ever willing to share his stories to this busy body. We were chatting over at the changing room for artist at Dewan Perdana FELDA in 2006. I managed to get into that room by virtue of Arif performing on the same stage with him.

I told him of the many EPs in my collection. Unfortunately I didn't bring it with me for him to sign. I think it was Mak who bought many of his EPs, so we would listen to them whenever she played it. Most of his song are really lovely. Until today, I can relate to them. Nak Dara Rindu - beautiful, Gelisah - well, dark, very dark. I love Budi Setahun Segunung Intan, a duet with Kartina Dahari too.

Moga Allah mencucuri rahmat keatas ruhnya. Amin and Alfatihah.

Dato Ahmad Jais posing with Datin Orchid Abdullah
at the rehearsal at Dewan Perdana Felda in 2006 for
the retirement party of the FELDA DG.
Alfatihah to both Dato and Datin.
Two generations apart, and two-size apart! The kids with the master singer
and composer. He had written many songs. Once on stage, while practicing
with the ghazal band, he wasn't pleased with the key chosen, so he called
for Arif, "Tukang piano, tolong bagi A." So Arif rushed to the piano
and hit the key for him. Tukang piano - sounds so much
like a PRamlee's movie!

The kids outside Dewan perdana at the end of the party with Dato seen
on the right in his white pants and shoes!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fadjar Menjinsing - Glorifying the beauty of the new day dawning

A song long before Cat Steven's glorification of the new day's breaking - he must have heard this song/lyric before he wrote Morning has Broken. ;))

And who said beautiful songs have to be about 'love'?

When we were kids, bapak (or Mak) would always play this song at night. I guess coming from a family with no television in the 70s, listening to songs would be our form of entertainment then. Then it was the vinyl and this song is one of his favourite.

We were kids; we listened to whatever he or she was playing!

But this is one song so smooth and soothing and I found it so very relaxing when listening to it. It is best to listen to this and other songs in this album late at night or very early in the morning. In other words, dikala dinihari.

It is like calm before the storm, I guess.

You would not find this anywhere else. I tried looking for it at Jalan Surabaya, and while I do find similar cover, I could not find the vinyl again.

So I am really treasuring this song and album.

Siapa tak Kenal - Fadjar Menjinsing

Emmy menjanjikan Fadjar Menjinsing, sebuah lagu pudjaan kepada alam indah, dikala matahari terbit dan langit diudjung dahan.

Lagu ini berasal dari tahun 1943, tapi berkat warna suara dan pembawaan Emmy jang halus kembali memperoleh kelembutan dan kesegaran yang wadjar. Satu lagu pudjaan jang baik tidak boleh tidak harus memiliki sifat2 demikian.

Fadjar Menjinsing (Jahja) - Emmy dengan Orkes Lima Serama

- Kata2 dari album "Siapa tak kenal - Fadjar Menjinsing"
The Indonesian Music Company Ltd

Fadjar menjinsing, kemerah-merahan
Ayam pun ramai berkokok, menyambut alam nan elok

Burung berkicau, berlompat-lompatan
Embun menghias berkilau, di-pohon dan dahan

Alam ria dan gembira, menjambut sang suria,
Alangkah indah sanga suri, di Timur bercahya

Hatiku riang, menantikan siang
hari yang gemilang datang, membawa harapan

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Janjimu, kini jadi kenangan saja

Aah, Janjimu. What a song! Sad, and melancholic; just the way I'd like my songs to be.

I once wrote in my blog pleading that (Datuk) Khatijah Ibrahim sing this song (for me) in her concert. I was pleading to no one, actually - I was more like talking to myself, as it was only published in my blog, and no one - as far as I am concerned, reads it.

A couple of days later, one of her brother commented and told me that she (Datuk Kathy) has actually read it and thank me for my support. That was in July 2008. You can read about it here.

And sure enough, in November she sang the song in a medley. I blogged it here.

You don't ask someone her stature and they'd be willingly respond and comply, but she did just that. Thanks again, Datuk.

Mind you, had I asked for her to sing say Ku pendam sebuah duka, or Tangisan Hati, it would be no request at all. For sure she would be singing her signature songs.

But Janjimu is something else. Not many, unless you grew up in the 70s would know this song, and yet this was the class anthem for many.

Kini jadi kenangan saja
Kau berdusta
Hidup ku kini jadi sengsara

Remuk luka
terguris hati nan suci
cintaku setia
kini kau mungkiri janji

Berlinangan airmata
mengenangkan kembali
segala kisah asmara
suka duka ku harungi

Kini ku sendiri
Tiada lagi kau bersama
kurasa sepi
membawa hati duka lara

Ku mengerti
Kita tidak bersua lagi
kini kau pergi
meninggalkan ku sendiri

I have not heard this song for years, beyond the fact that the song has been playing in my mind for years. The last time I heard this song, albeit in half, was in the November 2008's Kathy's concert. 

Not many knew this song; it was not one of her most popular song.

But for some reason - and I remember it vividly, this song song seems to the class anthem for Pasteur 5 '80. I mean, (Datuk) Kathy has so many great songs by 1980 - Ku sangka siang kiranya malam, Tangisan hati yang derita; all those sad and melancholic songs that were our cultural standard in the late 70s and 80s, but nothing beat Janjimu to many of my classmates then.

Especially this blogger.

I remember it well, as I had the lyric of this song on the cover of my file; written in beautifully crafted hand-written font (even if I said so myself!), that a few of my classmates asked me to write the lyric for them which I did on a Pejabat Tanah Taiping's letter head that I took from bapak's possession.

Then of course we had no internet and there was no way we could search for lyric unless we wrote it ourselves or from magazines.

It puzzles me to this day on the reason why song were not popular on the airwaves but left an indelible mark on many of us in that class high up in the then new building of MRSM in Pengkalan Chepa then.

One thing for sure, it is a beautiful sad, melancholic song.

I guess I was the only one taken back to 1980.

But one can't find the songs in her compilation albums, and no one has posted it in Youtube until recently. 


Monday, September 26, 2011

The Classic (Malay) Pantuns

Can you recognize the classic (original) Malay pantuns? Yes, for some, not for the others. For sure I would not be able to translate this into English the way George A Fowler did.

Pandan Island lies far out at sea
its sight by Angsa Isle conceals
However broken the body may be
Kindness is always the balm that heals

In the meadow there is a spring
surely you may use it to bathe in
if many years my life doth bring
Then surely, too, we will meet again

The sun moves west in a sky so blue
soon the cattle must come home
It was so very long I looked for you
why, oh why, did I ever start to roam?

Whence comes the lowly leech?
From the paddy field to the brook
Whence comes the love's speech?
From the eyes falls to the heart's nook

Excerpt taken from the classic Malay Indonesian novel, Sitti Nurbaya, written by Marah Rusli, and translated by George A Fowler.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

National Anthem - The Australian Experience

There has been a lot of debate and discussion of late on the Malayan/Malaysian history.

Apparently a lot of agony and anguish - made-up or real, were generated during such debates, depending on which side you are on. I would not want to add on to the debate, but just would like to give the perspective of another nation, which we share some similarity and history.

When I was a kid, I was told by Mak that our national anthem was taken from the Perak anthem. Obviously we were proud of that fact and honoured, but without internet and youtube, there was no way we would know then that even the Perak anthem was taken from Terang Bulan which was taken from song from Seychelles. Apparently it happened when Sultan Abdullah of Perak was exiled by the British and he was taken by the song.

Similarly, there have been many debates on our Jalur Gemilang, previously and lately. I remember the reading a news report that when our PM (TDM) first went to the US (in the 80s?) -  during his early days as the PM, he was indeed asked as to why the Malaysian flag looked very much like their Star and Stripes. Honestly, I don't remember his answer anymore, so it can't be that memorable.

Australia went through similar predicament much earlier than us; not on the flag, but their national anthem.
The Australia's national anthem booth in 2005 in Canberra
I remember the debate in the 80s if Advance Australia Fair should be their national anthem. Obviously many thought that a more popular tune that seems to represent (fair dinkum) Australia would be Waltzing Matilda.

Even then, and especially now, I would be able to humm Waltzing Matilda and have no clue about the melody of Advance Australia Fair. Waltzing Matilda would be more Australian to a foreigner like me, and would be get my vote along with Down Under (Men at Work)!

Apparently the original Advance Australia Fair was written Peter McCormick, a Scottish-born song writer and was first performed in 1878. It was originally sung as a patriotic song and not as a national anthem.

Up to 1974, God saves the Queen was Australia's national anthem. in 1973, the Whitlam government decided that Australia needed a new national anthem to represent Australia with distinction, and started a competition. On the recommendation of the Council for the Arts, none of the new entries were felt worthy enough, so the contest ended with the suggestions for Advance Australia FairWaltzing Matilda and Song of Australia

A nationwide opinion survey was done in 1974 and Advance Australian Fair came on top.

In 1976, the Fraser government reinstated God save the Queen as the national anthem.

In the 1977 referendum on various issues.Advance Australia Fair received 43.29% of the vote, defeating the three alternatives: Waltzing Matilda (28.28%), Song of Australia (9.65%), and the existing national anthem God Save the Queen (18.78%).

Advance Australia Fair, with modified lyrics from the original, was adopted as the Australian national anthem on 19 April 1984 by a proclamation by the Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen,[8] on a recommendation by the Labor government of Bob Hawke[Wiki]

But I still love Waltzing Matilda. It is as Australian as the kangaroo and billabong!

Can we do it in the Australian way? A lot of debate and discussion were held in Australia in the 70s and 80s, and practically everybody has an opinion on this, and obviously no one agrees with everyone else, especially the politicians.

But no one accused everyone else as traitor for wanting to change the national anthem. No one demanded that ISA be used on their opponents. As far as I remember it in the 80s, it was a proper and  educated debate, though I am reasonably sure that a lot of emotions were generated during these debates.

There were many Australian royalist (if I may term them as that) who would want to keep God Save the Queen as the anthem, and I am sure as many Australian who would want to have the Australian identity in their national anthem.

Can we have a debate on what's constitute Malaysia's national anthem and national flag please? If Negaraku and Jalur Gemilang are the proper anthem and flag, then so be it, even though it may be derived from a song in Seychelles and the American flag respectively. If we want to find one that could represent Malaysia with distinction, we could do a nationwide survey or referendum and even hold competition if we could come up with better anthem or flag.

Is it too much to ask of us?


Such is the environment in Malaysia that I am a bit unsure if I should even be bothered to post this entry. Would I be labeled a traitor for even mentioning it, or would someone call me to be incarcerated into ISA, nevermind that Najib is thinking of abolishing it. I am not saying one way or another, but I am asking all of us Malaysians to look at how our Australian counterparts handled their diversities in opinions and came out unscathed, if not stronger, as a country.

There was another movement in Australia even in the 80s. The movement calls for Australia to become a republic instead of having the Queen as the constitutional monarch. Please read about it here. Again, no one calls for the citizenship of these republicans to be revoked!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Squeaky wheel gets the oil

By nature, I am a quiet guy.

Tried very much to stay off the limelight, never one to hog them.

I normally would pay my bills without batting my eyelids. At times, I would even pretend that I was expecting the sum of the bill, even though upon reflection (later), I knew I had been conned, or at the very least, cheated. So I tried very much to protect myself, noting and making mental calculation before going to the cashier to pay my bill.

I have a car - 3 year old car last Sept 11. 2011. The warranty expires on that day, eventhough my mileage is only 74,000 km (as opposed to 100,000 km, as it is on the basis of whichever one is earlier).

I sent my car for its 70,000 km service in July 2011, when I was told that the engine oil was leaking from 3 places - the valve cover, the oil pump and another location which I have forgotten. I was also told that since this is considered normal wear and tear, it is not included in the warranty of the car. Nothing major I guess, but apparently it was going to cost me over RM1,200.00 for this repair work, in a any case.

I tried to argue that it should be considered under the warranty programme, but the service advisor was adamant that it is not.

Not wanting to make a scene, I told them not to bother and would decide later what to do with it.

I had thought that once the warranty is over (in two month's time), I would send the car to my favourite mechanic (and not to the official make workshop). I was sure it would be cheaper.

And I had not bother getting it done, until I started smelling like something burning coming from the car.

By then, it is urgent to get it done.

So I decided to call the official workshop to get the details, so that I could get my favourite workshop to work on it. By then, the 3-warranty was definitely over.

Talking to the service advisor, I decided to make a fuss over the phone.

1. Being the most expensive car I had  bought in my entire life, I told him I was surprised that such model and make would have problems such as oil leaking, while my other cheaper cars would trouble free (at least no leaking). My RM26,000 Saga which I bought in 1989 did not have the oil leaking within 3 years, and it was multiple-fold cheaper than my present car.
2. The car, while it is 3 year old by Sept, has very low mileage (i.e. only 74,000 km in 3 years)
3. The car is fully maintained by the car maker itself.
4. The problem was found to exist while the car is under warranty (i.e. in July 2011), even though I decided after the warranty to send it to the official workshop.

So when I brought the car in a week's later at the maker's workshop, I was told that the repair work would now be considered under the warranty program, and hence I would not have to pay for it. I was surprised, but thankful.

It pays to make noises or create a scene, so that they would not take us for granted. On what basis did he tell me earlier that it was not under warranty and two months later, changed his tune, I am not sure.

Personally I would prefer if the conditions of a car's under warranty are clearly spelt, so that there is no misunderstanding. We have to protect our right as consumer.

In another incident, after Friday prayer last week, I decided to buy some dokong. Thinking I could get 3 kg for RM10.00, I was taken aback when I was told that the price is RM5 per kg. "What? I thought it should be 3 kg for RM10.00," I told the seller.

Without batting an eyelid, she reduced the price to RM4 per kg, so I bought a kg just to satisfy my craving for dokong while walking to the mosque earlier.

I didn't try to bargain, I was only telling her as a matter of fact.


Squeaky wheel gets the oil!

It does not pay to stay quiet, and not make a fuss in doing business in Malaysia. They would try to get out from their responsibility if they could help it. They are hoping that all Malaysian consumers are indifferent to their rights.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Di Bawah Lindungan Kaabah

The original's cover of the novel, as I remember it.
Taken from Idris Talu's blog wo permission,
with apology
It is one of Dr Hamka's darkest novel, much darker than Tenggelamnya Kapal van der Wijck, or any of the short stories in Di Dalam Lembah Kehidupan.

And it is the most expensive movie in Indonesia.

I read the novel when I was in primary school - heck, I read most of Dr Hamka's novels by then, so in a sense, when I was young, I lived and breath all his sad, and most melancholic of stories. Mind you, not all, were love stories, if you know what I mean. His story lines were more diverse than typical Malaysian novels, nowadays especially.

I tried looking for the novel in my library, but somehow I could not find it. It is not the thickest of Bapak Hamka's novel. In fact it is one of the thinnest, so it could be the reason I have difficulty in locating the movel. In my mind too, I believe I could finish the novel in less than one hour, and thought I should pen my thought for this entry after I had re-read the novel.

To me, while I was captured by the twist of fate of Tenggelamnya Kapal van der Wijck, I thought the fate of the two lovers in DBLK were worst off. While I was captivated by the described beauty of Sitti Nurbaya (by Marah Rusli, and her suffering in her forced marriage the old but rich Datuk Meringgih, I thought that Zainab suffered the most through her marriage to a man deemed more suitable than Hamid by her parents.

I am not sure why to be honest, just the way the stories was told from the two lovers' perspectives. May be because the two were too fragile in characters, that we have no choice but to drown our sorrow with them.

As I have mentioned, the novel is a bit too short for one to develop the characters and give it more depth - not unlike those of short stories, but then again it had developed to such an extend that I was aggrieved when Hamid was banished.

You should read the (love) letters between them - it is sad, and melancholy and they had basically given up on living. She had become a 'walking skeleton', someone devoid of life.

At least, that's how I remember her and the ending of her life.

I may be wrong, but without going through the novel, after 40 years, I can still imagine her agony. And I don't want to relive them, or in a sense, I even dread re-reading them!

Di Bawah Lindungan Kaabah - The Movie

Apparently, it was released in Indonesia last Lebaran and that it went to No 1 for 3 weeks. I would not have known about it had I not read the Jakarta's edition of The Straits Times. Apparently, it has been released in Singapore yesterday.

Apparently too, it is the most expensive Indonesian movie.

I guess I am not into movies nowadays and hence this escapes me.

So I am all excited and at the same time too, I have mixed feeling. I remember all too well reading the Count of Monte Cristo (Alexander Dumas) when I was in F2, and yet disappointed with the TV series, starring one Richard Chamberlain and totally disappointed with the movie version. I think somehow one can beat the novel version of TCMC - we were all left to our imagination then and I can many stories are best left to the imagination.

I can imagine him in prison trying to chisel open the wall in order to escape, and his friendship with Abe Faria. My heart beat faster as he sneaks in into the casket of his best friend, and escaped. I can only imagine the beauty of the girl who stole his heart, whom he eventually lost out due to his vengeful bitterness at the end of the novel.

How sad, I thought.

So I am all excited and at the same time too, I have mixed feeling. I remember all too well reading the Count of Monte Cristo (Alexander Dumas) when I was in F2, and yet disappointed with the TV series, starring one Richard Chamberlain and totally disappointed with the movie version. Yes, the TV version was a better one, and I thought Richard Chamberlain did a great job as Edmond Dante, but still it lacks the emotional punch from reading a novel. I think somehow one can beat the novel version of TCMC - we were all left to our imagination then and I can many stories are best left to the imagination.

We can only imagine the beauty of the leading girls in the novels (Sitti Nurbaya, Zainab and Mercedes), I don't think the leading girls in the movies would live up to my standard (of imagination). If they are beautiful in life, I thought that the girls in the novels are a hundred time more beautiful than the actresses in the movies.

But I am told that the sets for the movie (DBLK) are lavish, if not spectacular; from the authentic Minang  roofs in the village to the water-wheels, and the uniforms worn by the train operators in 1920s Sumatra. It should be real enough to me, and I hope to see a replica of the grand mosque in those era.

This movie can only live on in that era. Anything else would make a mockery of the novel by Buya Hamka.

It looks like movie set of an epic to me, to be honest, and for that reason alone, I would love to see the movie.
1920s Minang town. Love the scene, though it looks
like a bit unreal to me.
I wish they would leave the set behind and make living museum out of it.
A real working waterwheels in a Minang setting
Zainab - of course when I was younger, I thought
the Zainab in the novel is more beautiful than this actress. Sorry,
Laudya Cynthia Bella - you are pretty but you can't live up to Sitti Nurbaya's beauty for sure.

I am prepared to be disappointed in term of character development - I have to feel their pain for me to be totally absorbed in the story line and feel the pleasure of watching this movie - any movie, for that matter; and I do know many can't lived up to my standard,  but I think the set may make it for me - just may be.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

You know what we did last Merdeka day?

Ok ok, so I stole the title from the Jennifer Love Hewitt's movie.

While waiting for our esteemed guests - the Mahmoods, to arrive for a second day visit, the kids and I decided to head to Port Weld. Port Weld is not a destination that we would frequent to even when I was living in Taiping. I thought that there was little to see in this Chinese-based fishing port/town. As with many fishing ports, it is a bit untidy and smells.

I knew exactly where I would be heading on the Merdeka day.

Kota Ngah Ibrahim in Matang!

How apt it is to be visiting a historical figure at this time and age when so much debate and emotions had been conjured. I hknew of his existence for the longest time, since his name is always in the history book as far as Malaya/Malaysian history is concerned. It's Ngah Ibrahim this, Ngah Ibrahim that,  Long Jaafar this and Long Jaafar that.

But I have never been bothered - until 31 Aug 2011, that is. Well, he is not a hero in my eyes, but we had a spare of a couple of hours, so why not, right?

And I would like to know the mainstream version of history, and judge things for myself.
Partially blue sky on 31 Aug 2011, and on the second day of Syawal.
Surprisingly the Ngah Ibrahim Fort - now a museum, is open.
The house that Ngah Ibrahim built. If he can live luxuriously like this in
the 1800s, I certainly know how the Malay peasants live
in those days. I am sure this house of his is located right in the
middle of the Malay kampungs, just like the Mat Deros' mainsion.
The fort from the back/side. As I have mentioned, Taiping is
very green, and if we are lucky to get blue sky, the picture
can be stunning
The man who started the gold rush in Taiping. Eh I mean
the tin rush. This is Che Long Jaafar
Long Jaafar was descendent of the chieftain of Lubok Merbau in Kuala Kangsar, which is about 45 mins or so from Matang or Taiping, and was sent to Larut Matang district, I presumed by the Sultan, to manage the district. In 1848, he opened a tin mine in Klian Pauh and brought in the Chinese to work in his mine.

Apparently, he is a multi-millionaire and a well influenced guy. Click on his picture to read his bio in more detail than what I have written.
And the man who lost it all - Ngah Ibrahim
Upon Long Jaafar's death , his son, Ngah Ibrahim who took over as ruler of Larut. To protect his wealth, he built his house surrounded and protected by a fort, which is later known as the Ngah Ibrahim Fort. He brought in more Chinese workers to work, and they are divided into two different clan - Ghee Hin and Hai San.

And it is because of the clashes between these secret societies that led to the Pangkor Treaty and the starting of the the British colonialization in Perak and Malaya. The person who asked for their 'help' is none other than Ngah Ibrahim.

Let me say this:

1. First the job is inherited. It can be passed down to one's son. I wonder if my former job at one oil's organization can be passed down to Arif?

2. He is so rich, that he built a fort to protect it from his fellow Malayans, I would think. Who was there then? Malays mainly, with his Chinese workers. There was no British yet in his early days of administration. He is probably worse than the owner of the Mat Deros' mansion. At least, the mansion owner did not build a fort!

3. I am sure his fellow 'citizens' are poor but lazy Malay buggers, who prefer to idle their time away and not work in a mine, eking a living. Malays are known for that and perhaps would prefer to enjoy themselves at a pub and discotheque. Otherwise they would be underneath some trees, and would disturb some Malay lass passing by.

4. And to protect his wealth, he called in the Brit and the whole country was then ruled by the colonials. Is he a hero or what?
Dan jangan lah kau Jebat bermaharaja-lela di sini. Eh salah
century la, Dato Maharaja Lela wasn't even born yet then. Pity him,
to be honest, even his own race has disgraced him!
I pity Datok Maharaja Lela. I am sure he is a rich man too as he derived his income from tax collection, and is a high ranking office in the Sultan's court. But he did the right thing and started the war against colonialism by murdering the man below.

I wonder what's his role in the getting the Brit in in the first place. Was he opposed to it? Was he in favour, but later on realized that he had sold his own soul and country? I am not sure but I am sure I need to read more history book.
All because of this Mat Salleh
And because of the treaty in 1874, we practically handed over this
country to the British. So the Union Jack would be flying
in the tropics
So it is death to Dato Maharaja Lela, and Sultan Abdullah
was exiled to Seychelles. You don't know where Seychelles is? YOu know
the 'she sells sea shell on the sea-shore. That is where Seychelles is!
While Ngah Ibrahim still sleeps comfortably in his room in this
comfy bed
And still have an office to collaborate with the colonials
While many were lucky enough to still be living, if they are not sentenced
to death, even if it only in this small cell at a penitentiary.
Only the elites get to go to school
or ride a bicycle - otherwise you walk.
As I was reading the plaques and the information boards inside the museum, I was left wondering. The rich and powerful feudal leaders of then Malaya would invite the foreign Chinese workers to work in the tin mine. What's the difference between those feudal leaders then with the current breed of politicians who would bring in foreigners from the world over, on the pretext that Malaysians did not want to work the menial jobs, and then give them IC and citizenship?

Our current leaders are only following what our fore-fathers did - they are great teachers. This time around, they brought in the Indonesians and Bangladeshis, and start giving them IC.

I wonder too if the peasant and poor Malays then were so choosy - like the Malays today, that they refused to work in the muddy estuaries to look for tin, so much so that you had to import foreigners from outside?

I am not questioning my fellow Chinese citizens' right as at 2011. History has been made, and there is little we can change what transpired between the local leaders prior to Merdeka day in 1957. We have to live with each other and make the best of it. We have to live as Malaysian now.

But as a citizen, I am compelled to question the 2.4 million illegals currently in the country and in no time, they would be accorded citizenship.

History never repeats - so says Split Enz, a popular NZ group quite popular in 80s Australia. It is a beautiful song.

They are certainly wrong.

Those who fails to learn from history are doomed to repeat it, that's a more credible saying attributed to Winston Churchill/George Santayana.

Inilah Melayu - Melayu yang jual negara dia sendiri. Tidak perlu kepada pertolongan penjajah dalam hal ini. Even then, especially now. We are the expert in this area.

I felt so ashamed, as I left Kota Ngah Ibrahim, and trotted off to Port Weld with a heavy sigh.