Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sungai Ujong

One of my friend's blog adopted the above name although he's a Kolopilah born son of Negri Sembilan who served in the largest land development agency in the country and became the GM of it's subsidiary dealing with haulage. Now his comments are largely directed at the current administration and the political scenario in UMNO. Another friend whose blog is connected to that feathered kind who's going to bring in the $$ bills with his partner was afraid that one day Sungai Ujong might find himself in the troubled waters of the polluted Sungai passing through the Luak of " Semujong " as it was known in the 18th Century before Negri Sembilan became a full-fledged State complete with Martin Lister as it's first British Adviser of the merger of 9 small "states" thus giving it the modern name. Nowadays not many cared how it all began to be known as Negri Sembilan because most of the available land except for the gazetted forest reserves had been alienated to people who did not even claim to have any relationship to the 9 States, but were nevertheless given huge tracts of the Jelebu jungle fringing Selangor's border hoping that with the road connection coming out through Ulu Langat, the value would one day sky rocket to dizzying heights and even though they already have billions, they wanted to make trillions or quadrillions. As the son of the Adat Perpateh State of N9, I had never dreamt of owning any piece of land, simply because I am no land grabber and I just do not want to answer too many questions come the Day of Judgement because a second's delay in crossing that hairline bridge to Paradise can cost you thousand of years measured not in our "time" but in the space and time of the hereafter, which is in the word's of the religious scholars or Ulamaks " Wallahu wa'lam" meaning only ALLAH is the Know-All. Sungai Ujong had always a chequered history and even till today the issue of whether the present Undang Luak of Sungai Ujong has the legitimate approval of his fiefdom chief's is a question mark although his Balai Undang is there in Ampangan. The issue of legitimacy is a very complicated one for those ignorant about the customary law of Adat Perpateh. The history of who precedes whom in Negri 9 have always the bone of contention of many writers and so-called "experts" of which almost every Tom Dick and Harry claimed to be one. One of my waris who died several years ago was one of the Dato' Dagang of Paroi, who died almost a pauper, but he was supposed to be one of those who determine who should be the Dato' Klana Sungai Ujong. The post till today is still not filled since he died, just the way the previous Dato' Klana was only appointed after more than a 10 year vacancy. So for those who wants to fill in the shoes of the Dato' Tiang Balai ( the 4 minor chiefs in Sungai Ujong who elects the Dato' Klana) will be fraught with controversies and this signals the irrelevance of the Adat in modern times. I do hope that the blogger of Sungai Ujong can become a resurrected politician and solve the many "crisis" of the election to the Luak of Sungai Ujong and also the Yamtuan for the next decade. Over to you Sungai Ujong!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Uneasy lies the Head

I heard it during the 8.00 p.m. news bulletin when a senator said that he's going to bring to the attention of the PM about the residents woes facing them because of unserviceable lifts in their high rise flats. It's one of the problems that seemed so urgent that only the PM is the only person who could do wonders, as if he's an expert at solving mechanical faults instead of the relevant party who's responsible to ensure that the residents problems are attended to expeditiously.Once a Proton car buyer complained to the PM that his new car is giving him a headache because there seemed to be numerous complaints since he bought it, and the PM purportedly said that why tell him and the buyer was urged to deal with the national car company direct. Actually this state of affairs is a reflection of the lack of commitment on the part of those who's supposed to deliver their promise, whether as suppliers or service providers and this is compounded by the lack of action by people who's supposed to enforce whatever legislation either at the local, state or federal level. With the prevailing mentality which characterise the third world, it's rather normal for the people at the apex of the government having to attend to trifling matters which could easily be solved by their underlings. But the perception of people seemed to be more dominant than rational thought and reality. So when my cousin told me of his daughter's plight when I was attending the wedding function on the weekend, I reminded him to deal with the desk officer concerned rather than going through the Minister's office for matters which could be solved at the officer's level. No wonder after more than five months there seemed to be no solution in sight. Just imagine if a simple case of getting a release from the bond of an earlier agreement where there's enough justification had to be attended to by the Minister himself, he would be less likely to tackle issues that plagued the policy or implementation of policy. But this trend is also due to the politician's own doing whereby the people who surrounded him gives the signal to people that every trifling matter is also being handled by the Minister and no less. This perception is being fed by people in the administrative system too, especially those who had axes to grind and they hide their hands after throwing the stones on the glass houses where they are also occupying.Unless we get rid of this third world mentality amongst the public and the officials themselves then we could never rise above mediocrity in our service delivery system,as much as being touted by the PM himself.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Elusive Journey, Searching One's Roots.

If I am not mistaken, the Afro-American who wrote his family odyssey with the title " Roots" became the title of a box-office movie , and also there was a cartoon by Lat depicting the same with the dialogue way back in the eighties. Of course the writer became rich and he even went back to trace his village in the Western part of Africa to see for himself the birthplace of his ancestors. He was also generous enough to contribute towards the mosque fund of the village. The roaring success of the book and the movie then started a frenzy of sorts whereby people began to trace who were their ancestors with the hope that it would unearth some surprising discovery, albeit even unsavoury past for some such as the former US President Jimmy Carter who found out that his ancestors died after a fight in a tavern because he had one too many and landed himself in a brawl. So the search was terminated prematurely because it could save a further embarassment if it did not show up a better pedigree. So when I had the meeting yesterday, Sunday 19 October 2008 of BERKAT-Rasah at 16 A Jalan Rasah, Seremban, and this time with improved attendance compared to the last, we had a hilarious time when we discussed the design of the crest to be adopted for the family association. The motto which I proposed at first was " Keberanian-Kebenaran " below the shield in the centre of the Coat of Arms. But remembering that the motto for the Federation is " Unity is Strength ", I suggested a change to " Berani kerana Benar " to denote our ancestor's struggle to uphold the Faith and his fight against the Dutch in the province of what is today known as Riau in Indonesia. The elders in the larger family circle known as Tambusai were fond of telling the younger people ( my generation then )that we possess a not so admirable trait of being " quick-tempered " or in Malay the tendency to become " Panas Baran". For so long this description of the blood relatives on my father's side seemed to go unchallenged. But I have been saying to the now younger generation that this " stereotyping" got to be erased from our dictionary because the character of our ancestor as depicted in the drama shown on TV way back in 1992 was the opposite from what we believed it to be. So now I aim to find out the real version if I can say so when I travel the path of the " Benteng 7 Lapis " in the village of Dalu Dalu in the Kabupaten Rokan Hulu on the 24 November 2008, InshaALLAH! I look forward to meet the descendants of Tuanku Tambusai who still reside in Dalu Dalu and reestablish the " Silaturrahim " from the other side of the Straits of Malacca. Once our roots are rediscovered from the feeling of being at his birthplace, the aura perhaps would be transferred to our spirit as the man of honour and dignity who fought not for personal glory but in service of mankind and ultimately his Creator, ALLAH Azzawajalla. Let this journey bring back the memory of his heroic last stand even though defeated and beat the retreat. I want to seek my roots in Riau in particular Dalu Dalu.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Rambutan Tree

I planted a rambutan tree in my house compound when my first grandchild was born on 04 October 2000 and when it flowered profusely I prayed that it would bear a lot of fruits. My prayer is answered and when we celebrated Muhammad Haziq Shah's birthday recently, I said to him that his rambutan tree is generous this time around and he smiled broadly indicating a sense of pride and satisfaction that he would be tasting the fruit of his grandfather's labour. My neighbour's rambutan tree near his front fence also is fruiting well and it seemed all the houses having rambutan trees are harvesting ALLAH's bounty if they cared to pluck them. There's the house at the end of the road where my house is, where there are two rambutan trees of different species and no one seemed to have the time to pluck them. Perhaps it's because the house is accommodating a group of Nepalese working as security guards and true to their nature of trustworthiness, they did not touch the rambutans or they probably had no liking for the fruit. I just came back from my late father-in-law's house in Section 11 of Petaling Jaya and the lone rambutan tree in the garden is also fruiting. But when I started to pluck them, soon I was bitten by red ants or "kerengga" and it was a nuisance. But I continued with the help of Nasimah and managed to get a plastic bag filled by rambutans. When I came back home, Nasimah immediately gave some to our next door neighbour Poh Ling and Aik Jong. She also plucked some of the fruits from our rambutan tree and added it to the "imported" ones from section 11. When Sheo Aik Jong commented recently that he was waiting for the rambutan to ripen, I told him by all means he could take from the overhanging branch into his garden as it's his territory but he declined and preferred my giving him whatever bunch I want to. So good is our neighbour on my left and right, that it's a blessing for us and I thank ALLAH ALMIGHTY for giving me such considerate people despite my earlier misgivings when I first moved into my present house. The rambutan tree carries not only a reminder of sorts connected to my first grandson but it does contribute to good neighbourliness.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Gloom of Doom.

Today I went to my usual photo shop near my house to get the prints of the film roll which Nasimah asked me to collect. But what surprised me wasn't the beautiful snapshots taken during First Raya, but it was the conversation between the shop owner and me. Coincidentally there was a group of Filipinos which I presumed waiting for a photo shoot as entertainers because they did not look like they were maids. One of them was proudly showing a frame from his phone taken recently with Anwar Ibrahim at his house. The chap who showed me the snapshot said Anwar was extremely easy to talk to as compared to AB, since as PM he is always surrounded by tight security and no one can just strike a conversation with him. But what struck me most was the question he posed to the shop owner. He asked whether AI would be the PM and the reply was in the affirmative. I almost wanted to chip in but restrained myself because it was not a proper place to have a debate. But it's the sign of the times, where it's not the truth which is believed anymore but it's what people want to believe that matters most and the ordinary man-in-the street thinks they knew better. As for me, whether AI becomes the PM is immaterial, because I am listening to my conscience and hopes that it will not become a reality, because I cannot reconcile that a person who had been found guilty of a criminal offence especially for corruption and his appeal was not allowed by the Federal Court showed he's stigmatised. I just won't accept such an individual to determine the fate of the Nation. Well we have to brace for the coming recession and whether one likes it or not, it will hit us hard. The struggle for power seemed to have put the pending economic gloom to the sideline, but come the New Year we might not be smiling or having a grand usual celebration at the Padang opposite the Secretariat Building along Jalan Sultan Hishamudin.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Annual Grand Logjam

Without fail the highways in Peninsula Malaysia are the equivalent of the logjam in the temperate country's timber industry where rivers are filled with round lumber which have been felled and allowed to flow with the current to the timber depot. Come Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Chinese New Year our toll operator, PLUS will be coming out with their travel advisory urging motorists to depart to their destinations in accordance with the recommended travel times. It seemed it worked during last year's long weekend after Chinese New Year, but somehow it didn't happen to work this year's Hari Raya Balik Kampong rush. So true to form, Malaysian drivers are the rudest, most ill-disciplined and inconsiderate people in the world. Well, we should also go down in the Guinness Book of Record that we have amongst the highest fatalities due to road accidents in the world. One particular year I remember that the PM himself bemoaned the fact that we have the infamous world record and he's at a loss what needed to be done. Despite the fact that a Road Safety Department had been established with branches in every State, but there had been no marked improvement in Safety on all roads, especially during festivities. My way of finding a solution is rather simple. Just reverse the flow. Instead of city-folks emptying their abode come the festival days, why not just stay put and let those from the Kampongs come to the cities and towns. After all there are not many who have old folks in their Kampongs anymore, and soon even the Kampongs would not carry the nostalgic landmarks which reminded many city dwellers of their roots. It's not necessary to feed their psychological attachment to their birthplace because we have become nerds and geeks especially with the rise of cybercities which makes life just a few clicks away. The problem is that we are told that we should revive the ties that bind us to our relatives in the Kampongs. So be it, but can't we transport them to come to the cities. How we should do it is to be worked out, but the change in mental attitude must be embedded in our psyche first. The adverts depicting that we could only be filial sons or daughters by making the drive back to our ancestral villages got to stop forthwith. Otherwise people tend to believe what is bandied about on TV and other medium. I do hope change can be carried out imperceptibly without fanfare, and it must start first with our penchant for "Balik Kampong" and it should be replaced by " Pergi Bandar ". I don't think the reverse flow is as big a logjam compared to the rush to the kampongs.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Malacca to PD via Sg. Udang

For such a long time, my wish to go on the coastal road from Malacca city to Port Dickson via the coastal road at long last is fulfilled. I left the hotel around 11.45 am and took the road to Tengkera and Klebang in the direction of Tg. Kling. The only familiar sight I used to see is the Riviera Beach Resort in Tg. Kling where I used to attend meetings when I was still serving the Govt. After that I begin to find myself in new territory. But knowing that travelling on country roads can be hazardous as evidenced by the statistics of fatalities especially during festivities, I drove with great care and at a speed which is on average a slow drive. Though I went on a slow drive, but it was pleasant because I could see that the sights along the way are a lot better if one were to travel on the coastal road in Selangor. In fact, Malacca has a better claim than Selangor as developed State in terms of infrastructure. After a few kilometres out of Sg. Udang, I took a left turning when I saw the signboard leading to Tanjong Bidara. When I came to a T-Junction showing left to Pantai Tanjong Bidara and right to Kuala Sg. Baru, I took a left turn trying to figure out where Tanjong Bidara Resort is, but alas I was disappointed, as I only found Samudera Beach Resort after going through a winding narrow kampong road. It was a dismal sight. So I left and went towards Kuala Sg. Baru, and I found it a much better drive along the beach where from far I saw the Independent Power Producing Station standing out prominently. I proceeded past the Maritime Training Academy or ALAM and arrived before Kuala Linggi where I took a right turn towards Port Dickson. Once I crossed the bridge over Linggi river, I knew at once that I was in Negri Sembilan. The next town is Pasir Panjang and it looked somewhat bigger that what I could recall before.What I thought as the Federal Govt bungalows turned out to be the Negri State Govt bungalow for state public officials. I tried to stop at Blue Lagoon, but I was once again disappointed to see that the access to the public beach wasn't clear, and so I made a u-turn out to the main road. How sad I was to see that instead of getting a better view, only to be disappointed. So I made a quick drive towards Teluk Kemang and to the Hotel on the 5th mile. What a way to see how our assets which are graciously endowed being destroyed by so-called " Development " of imposing high rise buildings all along the coast. It might as well be called the " destructive tourist mile" than the " golden mile" which we used to describe the seventh mile of Port Dickson.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Eidh 1429 Hijrah

As I am writing this posting, it's the third day of Eidh of 1429 H and here in a hotel room looking out at the Straits of Malacca, near the estuary of Sungai Melaka. How surprised I am when I tried to manoeuvre the way towards Mahkota Parade, thinking that it was the same as before and found that I could not enter it from the Melaka Raya row of shop houses near the Equatorial Hotel where I used to stay whenever I had an interview here. How things have changed near the surroundings of Padang Merdeka where the Tunku announced the date of Independence for the new nation called Persekutuan Tanah Melayu. Now it's only a shadow of what used to be an expansive Padang facing the Straits of Malacca and the strong breeze which came with the changing monsoons coming from across it. It's not often that we can recall these past events which took place more than fifty years ago. But now it all went down past memory lane, just like my childhood days spent at the government quarters in Labu Road where the Terminal One now stands. I suppose that's the way progress is charted in our beautiful land that it was at one time in the past. I saw the wide open spaces before, now only cluttered with ugly structures in the name of progress. In reality, progress is nothing more than a term which spells destruction of the past. People think that progress is inevitable and the past has to make way for the future. But from what I saw today, many of the historic past almost in every State within the Peninsula have been destroyed in the name of progress. What is defined as progress is nothing more than profits. As long as people are laughing as they go to the banks all the way, that's the only benchmark of progress which they understand. The authorities proudly announced that Malacca received the recognition by the world's body as a world's heritage city. But what was the evidence received by the UN in order to qualify such an honour then? Most probably all the landmarks and sites which were submitted for that consideration, now have almost disappeared if not all, but the majority of it. Alas, who the heck cares anyway, as long as we can trumpet it to the universe that this is a world heritage city. As I drove last night to a small village about an hour's drive from the city centre of Malacca, I was astounded to see grand visions of structures mushrooming along the country roads to replace the quaint, placid and slow moving pace of village life of the district of Jasin. Jasin used to be the backwater of the state, but no more. I saw the prominent signboards announcing the nearing to Al-Ghaffarrudin mosque, an imposing building but I wonder who forms the congregation for it's daily call to prayer. Perhaps the numbers could not even fill half of the first row, just like it is in the mosque near my house. I recounted how visitors to Istanbul lamenting that the grand Blue Mosque hardly had anybody to pray there on a daily basis. I could never imagine such a thing would be repeated here, but how wrong I was. It's the reality now for me in my beloved country which provides Islam as the religion of the Federation!