Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Letter from the Good Samaritan

Today I received a letter from Yakob Abdul Rahman Wilhelm Scholer which was sent through his trusted colleague Mona Hassan. I was told that Yakob is in a critical condition and he is hospitalised at the University Hospital in Mainz, Germany. I supplicate to ALLAH S.W.T. that whatever is good to HIM, bestow it on Yakob and easen the suffering that he is going through now.

I tried to attach the letter which was sent but somehow I just could not get down to it. The gist of his letter covered his recent trip to Kedah, Pahang and Trengganu. He had the opportunity to visit Allahyarham Tunku's grave at the Royal Mausoleum in Alor Star, and it was significant to him because he was his " Bapa Angkat " and thus he adopted the same name when he embraced Islam. His whirlwind trip to all the three States must have taken its toll, for when he landed in Frankfurt, he was too weak and had difficulty in breathing and he went straight to see the doctor. Actually he had been treated with cancer, and true to his indomitable spirit, he keeps on fighting. May ALLAH S.W.T. give him the strength to continue fighting.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Good Samaritan

This is a photograph of a family friend, Yakob Abdul Rahman Wilhelm Scholer, who flew back for good to his homeland in Germany last Sunday, 13 December 2009. We came to know him through HNP-SDN BHD, a home nursing provider when his services were needed during the last few months of my late father-in-law a few years ago.

I believe he was the first home nursing provider that really provide professional nursing services at affordable cost to many who otherwise could not find reasonable alternatives to put the sick and the elderly in nursing homes.

When I met him at first, he impressed me with his tall physique and an earnest fellow who knew his profession with dedication and commitment. Yakob Abdul Rahman Scholer came to this country in 1963. He had been in and out of this country as his involvement in caring and nursing as well in treatment of alcoholism, drug addiction and AIDS led him to upgrade his skills in his own country.

Recently he published a book entitled " Guide to Home Nursing " and Nasimah and her siblings were present during the launch. Though he stands tall in his field, but he is full of humility and whenever he was free he never declined our invitation for a "makan". Now he is back in Germany for treatment and we pray that he makes a speedy recovery.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Class of '64

This is a continuation of my previous posting on reminiscence of my days in Royal Military College and this time I am writing on my sixth form years from 1963 to 1964. The photos above were taken during our class reunion, the top being taken in 2006 and the bottom taken several years before that.

There were nineteen of us in the class and their names are as follows:- 1. Abdul Rahman Hj Embong. 2. Abdullah Abdul Rahman. 3. Azzat Kamaluddin. 4. Amin Nordin Abdul Rahman. 5. Abdul Halim Shah. 6. Mohamad Akbar Baba. 7. Mohd. Shaharuddin Bahaudin. 8. Mazlan Hashim. 9. Lawrence Teoh. 10.Hamzah Pilus. 11. Mohd. Noor Harun. 12. Gnanalingam. 13. Gurdial Singh. 14. Chua Jui Leng. 15. Haron Siraj. 16. Khalidas ( Hamzah Abdullah). 17. Ong Ah Hing. 18. Ridzuan Md. Piah. 19. Zawawi Mahmuddin.

In the photo which was taken during the first reunion organised by Hamzah Pilus, Allahyarham Ridzuan Md Piah was still around. Lawrence Teoh was already deceased and Ong Ah Hing could not be traced. On both occasions there were those who could not attend the reunion, especially Abdullah Abdul Rahman or fondly known as Dolet. We are all indebted to Hamzah for making the effort to organise both reunions.

When we gathered for the 2006 reunion, Gnanalingam made a promise that he would like to have a gathering in 2010 on his ship which is berthed at Westport, and he would like to see all of us again, God willing.

I found that the Budak Boys of the Class of '64 were a noisy lot but fun. With classmates such as Gurdial Singh, Chua Jui Leng,Shaharuddin , Ridzuan and Haron Siraj there could never be a dull moment for they were full of mirth. The serious ones like Azzat, Dolet , Rahman Embong, Amin Nordin and Mazlan Hashim, they always made learning a pleasure.In one of the plays where Azzat acted as the Chinese Emperor, it was amusing whenever the dialogue which goes " Go and commit suicide " was uttered to the audience delight.He also acted in the Shakespearean play, "Julius Ceasar " and it was little wonder that he ended up going to Cambridge University. Dolet always took pride with his long essays which I commented that for every ten sentence that he wrote I could shorten it to just one sentence. Ong Ah Hing provided the comic relief though he looked tense. Ridzuan Md Piah always wore his pullover as he was asthmatic and nicknamed the " Polar Bear ". Sadly he passed away a few years ago after being in a coma for several days. Whenever he was hospitalised at the University Malaya Hospital, he would let me know and as far as I could remember I never failed to visit him in hospital. Mohd.Akbar Baba who now lives in Seremban, my hometown, made us laugh with his funny remarks.Hamzah Pilus gave me the impression as the class singer with him strumming the guitar.Gnanalingam made his presence felt by his towering figure and Ridzuan liked to call him " Anak Adam " for reasons only known to himself.Khalidas ( now known as Hamzah Abdullah ) was amongst those who always made himself heard despite his small stature. Lanky Lawrence Teoh who practised as a lawyer (now deceased)appeared preoccupied in his own world and it was a wonder how he could have presented himself before the bench as his daily uniform when in class looked somewhat unkempt. As for Amin Nordin he was immersed in reading Mohd. Iqbal's writings and today he has written many books on his favourite subject mostly inspired by his readings when he was in our class.

As for the teachers, I recalled that except for two Europeans, the rest were all Asians. They were Flt. Lt. Mc Connon, Capt. Underwood, OP Balakrishnan, Mr. Seow Bin Hak, Mr. Subramaniam, Mr. Lee Lye Hock, Mr. Lee Shau Kong and En. Idris Tain. It was surprising that it was the Asian teachers who left a lasting impression on me though the expatriates were no less dedicated and excellent teachers.

During one of the College term holidays Cikgu Idris Tain led a large group of Budak Boys to the so-called " East Coast Expedition ". For me it was my first experience visiting Kelantan and Trengganu.Mazlan Hashim was kind enough to invite some members of the group with Cikgu Idris to his house in Ledang for a makan and later we were taken to see the " Rodat " which is a special cultural presentation in Trengganu.It was not surprising therefore when the PAS State Government chose him to be the State Secretary even though he was on the verge of retirement. Mohd. Noor Harun and I went to venture into that famous Biaritz Park in Kota Bharu and managed to avoid Cikgu Idris Tain who left the place just as we were about to enter.I wrote a "Sajak " based on the experience and Mohd. Noor's " Sajak " too came out as a response and it appeared in our Malay magazine published by the Persatuan Kebudayaan Kebangsaan which flourished under the leadership of Abdul Rahman Embong ( also known by his nickname as Aji )

When I had to revise for the Higher School Certificate Examination, I was fortunate to do it with Zawawi in the latter part of the weekdays when there were no field activities. We went for discussions at the block which housed the classrooms on the first floor and that helped me a lot in the final preparations. Our class was the first to sit for Malay paper at principal level for the HSC and though not many opted for it( as we were divided into those taking History & Government at principal level and Malay as a principal subject )all who took Malay attained a principal "A" and Mr.Wallwork the Director of Studies was quite impressed. Of course we owed a lot to Cikgu Idris Tain who gave his heart and soul to ensure that we scored.

So when he was critically ill and hospitalised at Ampang Puteri Hospital I went with Mohd. Noor Harun to pay him a visit. It was rather sad that I learned of his passing away some time later and I could not attend to pay my last respects. When I served the Ministry of Education he became the Director of Schools and he was a Dato' by then. Typical of his style he gave me a lot of encouragement and advice when the chips were down to which I am still grateful to this day. May ALLAH Bless his Soul and place him amongst the pious.

To all my ex-classmates, I offer my sincere apologies if I offend any of them with my statements of which I have no intention of doing so, as I regard our friendship to be the most satisfying and hope they are everlasting.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Reminiscence of an Old Putera

This is the College's Crest whose Motto is " Serve to Lead"

The recent postings and e-mails from OP Shuhud , OP Shaharudin as well as comments on my blog from OP Hamzah et al, had triggered my yearning to write about some past memories as a Putera ( previously known as Budak Boy ) in the Royal Military College ( formerly known as Federation Military College ).

What motivated me to apply for entry into the Military College was the publicity given in the newspapers about the achievements of the FMC in the field of sports and also scholastically as evident from the number of first graders in the Overseas Cambridge School Certificate Exams also published in the press. I used to watch their teams playing against the KGV on the school padang in Seremban and they seemed to have lots of stamina and I guessed it must have been the training they received on the field as well as the parade ground.

Though I was not much of a sportsman but I somehow liked to follow the news of sprinters like Shaharuddin Ali who was a record holder in the sprints at National meets. Furthermore Port Dickson, the first home of the College was just about less than an hour from Seremban and I used to pass the College whenever I go to Teluk Kemang. In fact I was only successful on my second interview after the LCE.

What made my life different from KGV School was of course the military discipline. The moment you wake up until bedtime, life is governed by the clock and the famous phrase which still sticks to my mind is " Punctuality is essential ". On looking back, not many who upon leaving the College to join civilian life continued the good habits of time keeping and being disciplined in everything they do.

I owed a lot to many friends in College for the wonderful lessons in life which prepared me for the world. It would be too many to name them and I hope they do not feel offended if I forget to mention them. The people who are the closest to you are normally your dormitory mates and those who are in the same " Company " or " Coy" for short. The " Budak Boys " who were in the same " Coy " with me included my cousin OP Mohd Basri Hamzah and OP Habibur Rahman who once served as President of the Old Putera Association.

Even when I attend recent functions at the OPA Penthouse I come across OP Hashim Hj Abu and OP Sheikh Taufik from "D" Coy. Both of them joined the Cadet Wing and graduated as Officers, the latter went on to Sandhurst, that prestigious Military Academy in the UK. OP Sheik Taufik despite having a "transplanted kidney" which he had it done in China is still his "funnybone" self whenever I meet him.What made that strong bonds of comradeship or esprit de corps amongst us was the common experience that shaped our life beginning from the "drawers" that were issued as part of our uniform and the barracks to the food in the Dining Hall right up to bashing up the Parade Square on every Saturday. Military training which followed the Drill on Saturdays and in the evening was the film show. Prep hours from Sunday to Friday started about 8.00 pm till 9.30 pm and lights out 10.00 pm.

One of the characters whom I remembered very well was Allahyarham Zakaria Aziz, whose father was Minister of Agriculture, YB Dato' Aziz Ishak. His bed was just next to mine in RMC in Sungei Besi and he always depended on my Kiwi polish every friday evening when we would be busy preparing for the Saturday Drill. The " Chaplis " or sandals which we had to wear everyday to the classroom had to be polished too, and my kiwi would last at the most was just a few weeks.

Normally in the first year as a new boy, we had to take up boxing. Somehow I had to continue boxing even to the second year. In Sg.Besi I had the late Thomas Mathews as my trainer and he was a good boxer. During the sparring sessions which I had, Habibur Rahman and the late Aloysius Choong had a bloody nose from me. But I could not win any championship even though I reached the finals for my weight and my opponent then was Raja Aman Shah ( who became the CEO of Affin Bank ).

One of the annual camps that I attended was in Kamunting, near Taiping. At a night march we lost our way and had to spend a night near a cowshed. The next morning many of us were furiously scratching our bodies and found that many had the cow ticks. Finally we came out far away from what it should have been and the leader was scolded by the others for the poor map reading.

I have to stop now and continue later since the Azan for Asar prayer is already heard on my laptop.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Reward System in the Works

I came across the by-line in an English daily today after my good friend Nik Mahmood who had also retired as Director of the Mechanical Engineering Division with the JKR many years ago mentioned to me this morning about what the PM said in the monthly gathering of all the departments under his charge in Putrajaya. The report in the daily said that the Government is considering a reward system to encourage performance in public administration which will be different from the "vertical and horizontal" system which is not working. He is quoted by the daily, " It will be a system that is effective and will motivate civil servants not only to perform but to perform excellently."

The PM must be to all intent and purpose referring to the Sistem Saraan Malaysia or SSM which had been introduced to replace the SSB which was the remuneration system for the public service of the federal government and the respective public service of the State Governments in Malaysia. CUEPACS which is the umbrella organisation of the various unions of government employees had been calling for its abolition many years ago because of the exam-oriented evaluation of efficiency apart from the annual assessments made on each individual employees for the movement in salaries and also promotions which was supposed to be performance driven.

Since it is only at the thinking stage, therefore it would be interesting what would be the new reward system that will motivate public servants to perform with excellence.

In my view, whatever system that would replace the SSM, it should not be a carry over of the present one which is claimed by the unions as being stultifying to many in the lower categories due to the many impediments such as competency level examinations and the unfair evaluations given by Departmental Committees in giving the salary increments whether "diagonal", "Vertical" or " Horizontal" in accordance to the scores which are of course highly subjective.

In reality many in the public service such as those in the teaching profession and other closed schemes of service in areas such as medical and health, public works, agriculture, security, customs and a host of revenue generating schemes of service had expressed their long dissatisfaction over the reward system which they claimed as being lopsided.

To be fair to all sides it is high time for another Royal Commission on Remuneration for the Public Service to be established to look into the critical areas of dissatisfaction and the proposal to fix the problem once and for all. The last Royal Commission appointed to look into the remuneration of the public service of the Federation was the Ibrahim Ali Commission whose recommendations were rejected by the Government. The present remuneration system is mostly devised by the Public Services Department with no wider inputs although the Cabinet Committee on Salaries deliberated and approved it.

Furthermore whatever system that is going to be adopted by the government, the key to excellence is on the leadership at all levels of the organisation at the Federal, State and Local Authorities. There must be a clear line of responsibility as who should be accountable on performance or non-performance. The boundary between what is administrative and what is politics must be made as clear as daylight and there should not be any overlapping of functions and role between politicians and public servants. The rules and procedures which had been in place to ensure proper checks and balance must be reinforced and maintained without any compromise. If the top echelons in the public service are unable to perform their duties and responsibilities without fear or favour and putting personal interests above the public interests, than no matter which system is applied to enhance performance to the highest level will just be an exercise in futility.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Solat Hajat & Doa on 29 October 2009

The announcement for the Solat Hajat & Doa on Thursday night of 29 October came from the Old Putra Association's executive secretary, OP Azudin Fuad when I received the notice through the mail in mid-October.

As usual I made the arrangement with my ex-classmate of the Class of '64, OP Hamzah Pilus to pick me up from the house at 6.15 p.m. on the designated day to attend the " Solat Hajat & Doa " at the OPA Secretariat, off the Old Airport road near Saujana Resort. OP Shaharudin Bahaudin also came along, and it was a pleasant surprise as I have not met him for quite some time. When we reached the OPA building we met OP Mike Tan at the basement car-park and he told us that OP Dato' Termidzi , the OPA President was already upstairs and talking with OP Shuhud in London via Skype connection. We were the early birds to arrive for the function and with the rain, quite a number were caught up in the traffic congestion on their way to the Saujana.

The Old Putera Association informed us that OP Shuhud had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and he made the request for the Solat Hajat and the President had consented. I met OP Shuhud in 2007 when the book " The Port Dickson Years " was launched by OP Dato' Radzi Sheikh Ahmad who was then Home Minister. He was requested by the OPA to write the book about the early years of the formation of the College and he spent six months in Malaysia to complete it, because he is a permanent resident in the UK.

In early October this year OP Abdul Kadir Kassim and OP Che Md Noor Mat Arshad visited him in London and they came back with the sad news . When he was speaking to OP Shaharudin and OP Hamzah on the Skype I could see that he put up a lively conversation despite his illness and he was pleased to see that his request is being entertained. I did not have the heart to continue the chat because only God knows what is running in his thoughts because I have read the tone of his mail which he sent to his contemporaries namely OP Wahab Nawi and OP Muslim Ayob requesting their presence for this function.

After the recital of the Yasin following the Maghrib prayer, OP Azudin brought the laptop to the front row of the congregation and asked OP Shuhud to speak and see his close friends. It was a touching scene, and OP Shuhud just could not hold back his tears. He spent about ten minutes expressing his gratitude and appreciation to all present for being able to spare the time to perform the Solat Hajat and Doa.

I could see the emotions and eyes brimmed with tears from his colleagues who knew him well, and they were mostly retired generals. I could also feel the depth of their comradeship which most Old Puteras have for one another because the experience of sharing the joys and sorrows of life in a Military College could never be understood by those who studied in other day or residential schools in the country.

From what he had written in the book " The Port Dickson Years " it was not only about his life but also of others, his colleagues, teachers, instructors and all those who made and shaped his life and for that matter all of us who went through the portals of the FMC/RMC. OP Shuhud is the hallmark of the vintage product of the FMC years in Port Dickson and his courage and example as an upright and a man of integrity shall forever be remembered. We pray that you have the strength in facing your illness and May ALLAH S.W.T. bestow His Mercies and Blessings on you always.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Perak in The Limelight

The Silver State is in the news again this time not so much as having a sitting of the State Assembly under a tree opposite the building where the august chamber is housed but about the tragedy involving schoolchildren who were attending the 1 Malaysia camp just across the Kampar river not far from the school in Kuala Dipang near Ipoh, Perak.

Some years ago Kuala Dipang was also in the news where an orang Asli settlement was swept by a swollen river, perhaps by the same name, and by coincidence the swift currents caused havoc where precious lives were lost. When that incident took place, my good friend Dato' Yusop Yahaya was the DO of Batu Gajah and Kuala Dipang came under his jurisdiction. Since Perakians love to be in the limelight, now the focus is how did the suspension bridge which straddle across the Kampar river came to an abrupt end.

The Minister of Education as usual had directed an investigation be carried out and even the Raja Muda of Perak had visited the site where the bridge had collapsed. I am sure the people responsible for organising the 1Malaysia camp are now very worried about as to who would become the scapegoat. In the first place, I just could not see the reason why the children had to cross the bridge at night, since the camp is sited just not far from the school. Under normal circumstances the camp commandant should ensure that all participants be in their tents after dark, unless there was a night march activity going on and if there was such, it should be under strict supervision because the participants are primary schoolchildren. The teacher-in-charge should now be answerable.

What is most perplexing is that the suspension bridge was not built from government funds but from somebody's or a group of people who were kind enough to defray the costs. But most important of all since it is built near the school, it should be under the responsibility of the school headmaster.

In many instances where such a tragic incident happened resulting in loss of life, the aggrieved party can sue the authority who is responsible and in this case is the headmaster and the Education Department. Since this is a clear example of lack of supervision it would not be difficult for the investigation team to finish its work and submit a report to the Minister within a short time. It would be interesting to know its outcome, because by and large most Perakians or for that matter all Malaysians have very short memory.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Public Service Reforms

I would like to continue my conversation with Datuk Z last sunday with regard to the delivery system which had always attracted a lot of criticism from the public in the past as well as at present and perhaps in the future.

What intrigued him most is the state of reforms that had been started in the eighties with the issuance of government circulars on the improvement of all government agencies especially those serving the public directly. The period of the nineties saw a torrent of PKPA circulars which focused on the "Quality" improvement and the at the turn of the new millennium saw the adoption of ISO certification of the delivery system. The pace of reforms was such that before these circulars could be implemented at the departmental level in the whole public service of the Federation, new ones were launched.

In fairness government departmental heads tried their level best to keep up with tempo set by MAMPU, that government department which issue and oversees the implementation of the reforms contained in the circulars, but somehow only some of the departments could really show positive results.

From what Datuk Z told me, it seemed that what was introduced during his time with MAMPU had lost its momentum from what he experienced in trying to get a report in order to make claims for health insurance which could only be delivered in four weeks. He just could not believe that it could take that length of time just to obtain a report, which would normally take at most a week! What happened to all those reforms which were introduced by MAMPU he wondered.

From my past experience in implementing change in any organisation, the most critical factor in ensuring success is the rationale and methodology to be applied, since dealing with human beings necessitate a change in the mind-set followed by the behaviour. If it is just changing one type of form to another in any transaction of government it is simple and easy. But to change attitudes is the most difficult, unless drastic measures are instituted but it would be short-lived and in the end little would be achieved. A time-table must be drawn up in implementing change and continuous monitoring is essential so as to see whether the steps taken are practical or otherwise and thus modifications might be required. Since the Public Service is huge and unwieldy, one circular cannot cover all the peculiarities of the people and the needs of every department and thus the importance of leadership is vital at all levels of the organisation.

Unfortunately owing to the varying nature of departmental needs and requirements which sometimes involve frequent transfers of officers, this could become a serious obstacle in ensuring the success of any improvements being carried out. Thus we find that whatever reforms being introduced and implemented during the tenure of the Head of the Public Service may not be assiduously pursued by his successor. And this is part of the reason for the failure of any initiative towards reforms.

However all is not lost as yet because we do see improvements in the departments delivering direct services to the public such as the National Registration Department, The Immigration Department and the Road Transport Department.

I believe if the top leadership in the Public Service is dedicated to continue the reforms until the end , we should be able to do much more provided a running audit of performance is done annually and the reward system is not flawed by cronyism or worst by corruption.

Blogging and Public Opinion

Yesterday I met Datuk Z who served as a fellow PSC Member at a wedding invitation in Putrajaya. In our conversation with the host, I told him that we should try blogging as an avenue to express our thoughts and share past experiences as public servants and in so doing contribute to a platform for " Public Opinion " based not just on perceptions but on facts which were once privy to us without breaking the law.

Of course there are those who abuse this new found freedom and liberty to put across views which sometimes can be categorised as "fitnah" and lies to vent out venom and vexations to the extent of being slanderous. In a plural society like ours the inherent dangers of racial incitement and prejudices if given much latitude in cyberspace are always there and could be damaging but those who go beyond the boundary of our laws would have to face the music as evidently made clear by the authorities in recent reports where a few were charged for sedition.

The "Blogs" when used as a platform in developing a " Public Opinion " where "bloggers" can make themselves heard is becoming a powerful tool to check the excesses of the authorities in the performance of their role and functions and also acts as a feedback for the improvement of the delivery system. It is just an extension of the print media but in an electronic form. The idea of setting up an electronic government should also incorporate blogging by members of the public.

One must be selective as to distinguish which blogs are beneficial to read and just ignore the blogs which are detrimental and destructive to the development of a moral and civil society. Being ex-civil servants who once contributed their services for the well-being of the country, it would be a disaster if we allow the good work of the past be destroyed by those who lack the integrity and competency in moving the country to higher planes of achievement with honour and dignity amongst the sovereign nations of the world. Let us not waste the noble efforts of our past Statesmen in making Malaysia a shining example of a developing country steeped in a proud tradition of a civilised society with the Federal Constitution as the sound basis of good governance for posterity.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Are We Prepared for Crisis?

I spoke to Azudin Fuad yesterday about the unfortunate fate of KD Sri Inderapura, the Royal Malaysian Navy's vessel which caught fire at the Naval Base in Lumut and now lies at the bottom of the sea presumably within our waters, still laden with its cargo supposedly made up of spares for the military to be sent to Sabah. What is worse there is still millions of litres of fuel in it just waiting to spill into the ocean.

What is appalling nobody seemed to have the sense of urgency to re float the vessel and siphon out the fuel before a catastrophe happens. It appears that nobody cared as to what the consequences be on the environment, especially to the livelihood of the fisherman around Pangkor and Lumut.By right all the relevant agencies such as the DOE, The Maritime Authority, RMN and the Fisheries Department should form a task force and monitor the situation 24 hours daily. Azudin who has friends in the Navy informed me that Lumut Naval Base is not properly equipped to deal with fire and this is mind-boggling. How can we afford to acquire assets like submarines but the Naval Base does not have the capability of putting out fires should any of the vessels catch fire? Furthermore the Command structure to tackle such an emergency must be unambigious and clear-cut.

This reminds me of my short tenure of nine months as Deputy-Secretary General of the Ministry of Information in 1992 where I was shocked to know that nobody was entrusted with the responsibility of managing safety in case of fire occurring within the Angkasapuri. Without further ado I revived the non-functioning comittee on fire-prevention as stipulated for installations which has a high risk, such as a radio and TV stations. As safety was under my charge at that time, I quickly appointed a senior engineer with RTM to be responsible for ensuring that preventive measures are taken and also to ensure fire drills are instituted. Everyone from the bottom of the ladder right up to the Secretary-General should be conscious of the fact that owing to the nature of work which the staff of Angkasapuri is involved in, safety should be our top priority. I was also disappointed with the lackadaisical attitude of the auxiliary police who were stationed at the entrance and at the strategic perimeters of the facility and beat them up into shape. For my concern and the measures which I adopted to make the personnel working in Angkasapuri be mindful of safety, I was nicknamed " The IGP" by Tok Mat, then Minister of Information.

The issue which I would like to raise here is that where safety and lives are concerned, our government servants are too complacent and this is a reflection of the public in general. A clear evidence of this is our "Ops Sikap" which had been in operation for donkey years and very little ground is achieved. I shudder to think what would happen if we have another "tsunami-like" disaster hitting us again. Crisis management should be inculcated right from primary stage of our public right up to the senior citizens as how to cope in emergencies or disasters such as fire, floods and major disasters. I do not think many of us know even how to deal with kitchen fire and very few install fire detectors in their homes or kitchens, what more to have fire extinguishers.

I have been given to understand that should we are confronted with war, this country could be easily be defeated within a matter of days because our state of preparedness to meet such a contingency is severely lacking.For that matter even a small incident such as the landslide at Bukit Antarabangsa sometime ago had proven to us that our Government emergency response was chaotic and lacked urgency. May ALLAH S.W.T. save us from much greater calamity.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hj Amin Nordin, My Friend

Sunday 11 October 2009 was not only the D-day for the electorate of the state constituency N31 Bagan Pinang but also happened to be a two in one gathering of my ex-classmates of the HSC class of '64 in Seremban, hosted by Haji Mohamad Akbar Baba at his house in Jalan Padang Golf, Ampangan, Seremban. I left the house in Petaling Jaya together with my wife, Nasimah at 10.57 a.m. and followed the route to Seremban via the new Kajang-Seremban highway or LEKAS for short.

I arrived at 12 noon in Ampangan and as my car went up the steep slope after the entrance of Akbar's house, he was ready to guide me to a vacant lot to park my car. What a wonderful host, I thought and later on I profusely apologised to his wfe, Hajjah Azizan for almost knocking down her flower pot as I was reversing into the vacant lot.

As I joined the guests who came for the Hari Raya gathering at the table, I shook hands with Zam, Haron Siraj, Haron Awal, Mazni and Hamzah who arrived earlier than me. Of course Hamzah only had to drive from his house in Seremban 2, which is his weekend retreat, as his other house is in Tropicana Country club precint. Later we were joined by Zawawi Mahmuddin. He came with his wife.

Of course the food was simply mouth-watering beginning with the soup or "rebusan" which I remember vividly would be served at all "kenduri doa selamat"and Hari Rayas at my Kampong in Terachi, Kuala Pilah. But I started with the "lemang" and "rendang" which I liked better. The table conversation revolved round the current politics, especially the one related to Negeri Sembilan.

But what I want to write about is this friend and ex-classmate by the name of Haji Amin Nordin bin Haji Abdul Rahman. To me he is an enigma, and I could recall as clear as day that he was so talkative when we were hospitalised at the RMAF base hospital near Sungei Besi , that left me wondering whether he was sick or not. He told me that the doctor was going to extract a certain amount of fluid from his spine and he was wearing a funny type of spectacles which had a bluish tint. I could not remember what was the reason he was wearing that funny spectacles but he was as fit as a fiddle. Those who were close to him, nicknamed him Amin Jerry presumably after the comedian Jerry Lewis.When we entered University Malaya campus in Pantai Valley in 1965, he was a non-hostelite and he cycled to campus, and if I was not mistaken he was putting up with a relative in Kampong Datok Keramat. We graduated together in 1968 and he joined FELDA after I left to join the MCS. I learned that he did not stay there for long.

When we were in sixth form, he was known for his preoccupation with readings on Muhammad Iqbal works, the famous philosopher who was associated with the founding of the State of Pakistan. Mohamad Noor ( Gear ) and others liked to tease him and whenever he saw Amin, he would always say, " Here comes the fan of Iqbal, the philosopher and if you do not mind listening to his lecture on Iqbal, then you can talk to him for hours".Unfortunately Gear did not turn up for this Raya do at Akbar's house after confirming with Hamzah that he would come. Just a fortnight before Ramadhan, I received a photostat copy sent by Amin about the remarks or comments about his book being written in a Malay tabloid. Hamzah did mention that he would to get a set of the books that Amin wrote.

Amin however does not know the direction to Akbar's house and he went straight to the Seremban Railway Station following Hamzah's instructions to the letter and only then phoned Hamzah. Hamzah obligingly drove to the Station and led Amin to Gedong Lalang, Ampangan.While we were enjoying our food and at the same time getting into the mood for some serious discussion, I wittingly told those around the table that Amin's writings predict that the glory of Islamic civilisation would be emerging in our part of the world. Of course that only opened the floodgates for Amin and he went into a lenghty discourse.

Personally I admire Amin's guts for going into the realm of freelance journalism and that's probably his only source of income. I bought the books that he brought and now I am in the midst of reading them. Amin, I salute you for your steadfastness and convictions to write on what you believed in. Perhaps one day, your writings will be used as a reference point and what you foresee as to the future of Islamic civilisation in the twenty first century will materialise, InshaALLAH. I am sure then that if Cikgu Idris Tain is still alive, he would be very proud of you.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Neutrality of the Public Service

One of the most important institutions created for the purpose of good governance is the "Public Service" and owing to this fact, our Federal Constitution provides in part X beginning from Article 132 right up to Article 148, a comprehensive array of provisions so that our country shall be served by those who are qualified, competent and professional. Thus the " Public Service" also includes not just civilians but also the Police and The Armed Forces.

Since the promulgation of the Federal Constitution and its beginnings in 1957 it is synonymous with Merdeka and when Malaysia was formed in 1963, it was amended to incorporate the States of Sabah and Sarawak ( Singapore left the Federation ). The tremendous emphasis laid by the Government on development was made possible with the implementation of programs and policies by the public servants. The move from just maintenance of law and order to higher levels of commitment to achieve progress made the role and function of the public service in manning the government agencies to be a vital component of development.

After more than half a century, the public service should have moved up the ladder in terms of maturity, finesse and quality. The expectations of the people on the public service to deliver the promises of Government is getting higher by the day and most important of all is fair play and justice.

Unfortunately the public service instead of being neutral in the context of partisan politics has degenerated into being servile to politicians and some openly sided with party politics. This is unbecoming for a nation which aimed at becoming a developed country with a strong sense of morality and ethical conduct of its public servants. In the recent political campaign of the bye-election in Bagan Pinang, even the military is not spared, where campaigning in the guise of Hari Raya celebrations took place in the military garrison. The powers that be should have not allowed this to happen and this reflects badly on the top leadership of our Armed Forces. We must go back to the basics and extol the virtues of neutrality of the Public Service.

Monday, October 05, 2009

My Vague Memory of Padang

It was way back in 1977 when I was with the Ministry of Education in charge of higher education that I went to Indonesia for the first time in my life. The Secretary-General then was Dato' Kadir Talib ( Tan Sri Kadir Talib who later became the Chairman of the Election Commission) and he was leading the big delegation on the invitation of his counterpart the Sekjen of P & K ( Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan) of the Indonesian Republic.

On our return journey back to Kuala Lumpur, we went to Padang and Medan, after visiting Jakarta, Bandung, Jogjakarta and Den Pasar. I could vaguely recall how the place which is famous for its Nasi Padang looks like, but all I could remember was an incident which left an imprint in my mind till today. One day I was going out alone to find a shop that sells souvenirs and its name if I am not mistaken is " SiLungkang". It has no relationship with " Longkang" whatsoever and as I had no inkling on its location. I asked a man who dressed like a " Supir " or driver for directions. Politely he described to me how to get there and after a few clarifications I more or less was confident that I could find it. He said either I could go and take a horse carriage or "Babendi" or just walk. I asked him how much if I were to go by Babendi and he said it would be around " Lima Puluh Perak" which is equivalent to fifty cents in Malaysian currency. As I was about to leave, I offered him a tip but he politely declined and said, " Ini bukan Jakarta, ini Padang kota Aman" which means Padang is different from Jakarta and one does not take money for helping to show directions to visitors.

So I went on my way to find the shop and sure enough the directions given by this supir was accurate. But the shopkeeper being a businessman was like the same everywhere, he was just interested in raking in profits. And he told me that Dato' Samad Idris ( Allahyarham Tan Sri Samad Idris, a former UMNO veteran from Negeri Sembilan) used to visit his shop whenever he made his trip to his "kampong" in the Minangkabau region of which Padang is the entry point. I had no choice but paid the price of the goods that I chose, without even a small discount. Then I realised how shrewd the Minangkabau people were in doing business, and I always like to relate a story of how the wily Minangkabau man was taken for a ride by a Rembau family by taking a bride full of scabies.

I could not remember the name of the hotel we stayed, but it was small and cosy and was managed as a family business and the owner an elegant lady took pride in running it. I could not go along with the group to visit Bukit Tinggi because I had to recover from food poisoning and as such I stayed back. I could recall having a chat with a middle-aged American couple while I had to stay back due to my tummy ache, and he was on leave from the oil town on the other side of Sumatera, some where near Acheh. The man was telling me how the authorities treated the expatriates much to the discomfort of his wife, but I told them that I had my own observations and opinions of the authorities. Padang then was just a backwater and the electricity supply was also insufficient. During one of the dinner given to our delegation at a local hotel, the lights kept flickering in intensity, sometimes bright and sometimes dim. I was told the electricity often got interrupted as demand often exceeds supply. Apart from that the water supply was also in askance and I just prayed that the water I drank did not give me any further problem.

Now with the earthquake being experienced in Padang, I just could not imagine how normalcy could be restored. But I was relating the situation about three decades ago, it could well be a different place today. I only hope the people and the authorities could bring back the life of the people back to normalcy and knowing the people's resilience and steadfastness in facing adversity, they could emerge faster than Acheh from the disaster, as long as another earthquake is not forthcoming. May ALLAH S.W.T. bestow His Mercies and Compassion to the people of Sumatera.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Earthquake and Tsunami on 30 September 2009

If one were to recall what happened in Indonesia more than three decades ago, the term " Gestapu" meant something which could never be erased in the history of Indonesia, when the whole country was engulfed in another bloodbath causing the death of top Generals at Lubang Buaya or " Crocodile Hole", and it marked the rise of another strongman, viz; General Suharto who succeeded Sukarno as its second President of the Republic.

Come September 30th 2009, the world got another shock which was carried over the satellite TV channels across the world, namely Tsunami in the tiny islands of Samoa in the Pacific and the earthquake in Padang, Sumatra. Malaysia too felt the tremors of the quake and it was felt as far as Kota Bharu on the East coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

Actually Malaysians are a blessed lot because we have been spared the natural disasters unlike our neighbouring countries of Indonesia and the Philippines. We should be thankful to ALLAH S.W.T. that so far we have not suffered natural disasters to the magnitude which Padang and Pago Pago had gone through. With the ferocious swath of the Typhoons hitting Luzon right up to Vietnam, I begin to wonder is this a final warning of global warming and the much touted climate change which many think is just wishful thinking. Actually there is a verse in the Al-Quran which says that all the calamities that befall Mankind is due to their own hands, and if we continue to ignore this, then we only have ourselves to blame. I spoke to a guy named Simon recently about what has happened to our rivers and our pristine jungles which we had taken for granted before and perhaps it will not be long that these will perish owing to the greedy hands who think of nothing but money.

Amongst we believers, there is a term called " Kiamat Kecil" which is meant as the " Mini Doomsday". Death is one of them, but it is more apt to be associated with earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, cyclones, typhoons and hurricanes which can cause havoc and untold damage to mankind and the environment. I emphatise with those people who have lost their loved ones, their homes and property due to the natural disasters that befell them the past few days. I hope the people of Malaysia shall render whatever help that can be given to relieve even a bit of the suffering the people of Padang and the other places which have been hit the hardest. We could not be so complacent as to think that disasters only happen to others but not ourselves. Only when we go through such calamities do we know what it is like to be in such a situation. May ALLAH S.W.T. grants this nation of ours His protection from all disasters, Amin!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Syawal 1430 Hijri

The memory of first Syawal 1430Hijri and Eidhulfitri for the year of 2009 is being recorded in many digital cameras of my family members as shown in a few photos here. This is the first time of my life in celebrating Hari Raya Aidilfitri with the most of pictures taken compared to past Hari Rayas.

I am indeed grateful and thankful to ALLAH S.W.T. to be granted this privilege of being together in a peaceful gathering to commemorate the mostly welcomed Hari Raya insofar as I could recall during my childhood days with new attire from top down and the joy of seeing the same thing being repeated on my grandchildren is one of the signs of ALLAH's Blessings to those who follow the righteous path as shown by the Al-Quran and the Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad S.A.W.

It is my fervent hope that I am able to continue the practice of bringing together all the family members as a gesture of Silaturrahim which is espoused in Islam and thereby increasing the awareness to all that it is a religion of Peace, mind body and soul. It is not just a mere passing fancy but it encompasses the whole universe and all the beings occupying it. Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Walillahilhamd!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Farewell to Ramadhan 1430

My experience during the Ramadhan of 1430 Hijrah is indeed a fulfilling one because I am blessed with good health and feeling a sort of wellness which I am very grateful to ALLAH S.W.T.

Although I supplicate for the meeting of Lailatul-Qadar which promised the reward which is better than a thousand months, only ALLAH knows all. According to Imam Al-Ghazali if the "Puasa" begins on a saturday, then the Lailatul Qadar falls on the 23 rd night of Ramadhan, which falls on the night of September 13, 2009 AD. It is also said the morning following the Lailatul-Qadar would be neither hot or cold but just in between and the morning has a bright glow. I noticed that it rains slightly that particular morning and it was pleasantly cool and in fact the whole day remained shady from the normally hot spells and sudden downpour in Klang Valley at this time of the year.

I believe that as long as one performs all the obligations of the fast in accordance with Shari'ah then you would be conferred with that most blessed night. Thus I say farewell to this year's Ramadhan sadly because there's no other month in the Muslim calendar that carries such great significance when the Al-Quran was first descended from the Lauhul-Mahfuz to Baitul-Izzah, and then only it was revealed in stages over a period of 23 years to our beloved Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. through the Archangel Jibril A.S.

InshaALLAH let us pray that we be given the Blessings and Mercies from ALLAH S.W.T. and be bestowed the grace of seeing the next Ramadhan 1431 Hijrah.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Last 10 Days of Ramadhan

Muslimin and muslimat as believers look forward to the final ten days of Ramadhan fervently to be spared the Hellfire if they have diligently performed all the conditions of the Saum (fast) with the exception of those who are allowed to 'buka' due to factors beyond their control such as the old and sickly or women undergoing their periods and those who had just delivered but they have to make up for it by fasting before the next Ramadhan or paying the 'fidyah'.

During this last leg of the fast, it is made more significant by the presence of Lailatul-Qadr which simply means that special night which is better than a thousand months where the Angels of Mercy will be coming down to Earth to see who deserves to be spared the Hellfire, thus one must not miss the chance of this benefit by performing the non-obligatory prayers and reciting the Al-Quran especially on the odd nights of the 21, 23, 25, 27 and 29 Ramadhan. Although I have been told about " Malam Lailatul-Qadr " since I was small and the stories of how those who seemed to have experienced it said that one of the sight to behold is that the the crown of the tree will be prostating itself, but I had not seen it with my own eyes. But what is more important to me is that I want to be spared the Hellfire just as others do when the time comes.

Once I was told by a very senior person whose son is now a "Wakil Rakyat" for a Selangor state constituency that he saw the colour of the fire in a furnace in the Pohang steel plant in South Korea as white rather than yellow and definitely it could be in the region of thousand degrees fahrenheit. I shudder to imagine how one could live in such a place if that is the home of those who are thrown there in life hereafter.

Since I have been taught by the Ustaz that what is promised by ALLAH S.W.T. is true, then this is what I supplicate most to ALLAH that I and all my Family members be spared the Hellfire. In order to be given this blessing we as believers must not let this opportunity to pass us by during this last ten days of Ramadhan and do the needful by sacrificing some sleep especially on the odd nights so that we shall be spared the Hellfire, InshaALLAH.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Winds of Change for the OPA

OPA stands for the Association for Old Putras, of which I am a life member and it was OP Sheikh Ghazali aka Arab who urged me to convert from ordinary membership so that I save myself the hassle of settling my dues every year. When I first got a job after graduating as a Settler Development Officer in FELDA, Arab and another OP whose name I have forgotten were already there as Agricultural Officers.

I am indebted to Allahyarham OP Ridzuan Md Piah and OP Hamzah Pilus for making me to give some effort to attend OPA activities initially. I thought that the least I could do in order to show my appreciation and have a sense of belonging to my alma mater is to be involved in one way or another with the activities organised by OPA.

In the past from what I perceive the OPA's focus had been to keep abreast with developments of the RMC and provide the linkage with those who had been fortunate enough to go through the regimented life as a Budak Boy and the thing that I always associate it with is the Annual Dinner. Apart from that I hardly could connect with the association except for recent attendance of talks organised with the support of the OPA secretariat.

However at the recent Buka Puasa do organised by the OPA I begin to see a wind of change in the OPA when the President spoke of amongst other things the effort he's taking to see to the welfare of the less fortunate OP's or those who had taught there as teachers who otherwise suffer their predicament silently where only those who are their family members and close friends rallying to extend a helping hand. I welcome this new focus and I agree with Maj- Gen(B) Dr Termidzi that as more and more OP's are getting into the Senior citizen's list they also are prone to all sorts of health problems and are too shy to ask for help from the Association. So it is a welcoming news that a fund is set up for the purpose of extending this badly needed service whenever it merits anyone in such a situation. For those who are still young and have the means to plan for their future in health matters should give this a serious attention. No matter how careful one could be, but there's no guarantee that one could not fall ill in their old age. Let us give generously to the newly established Welfare Fund.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

An Eventful Day in Ramadhan

About ten o'clock on the sunday morning of 06 September and 16 Ramadhan of 1430 Hijrah, I was informed by a short message on my cellphone that Zawawi's mother had passed away of old age and will be brought to At-Taqwa Mosque in Taman Tun Dr. Ismail for the solat jenazah and then to Bukit Kiara Muslim burial ground.

So I quickly dressed and told Nasimah that I would be going to pay my respects to Zawawi's mother and join my friends at the mosque. On arrival at the mosque I saw Hamzah and Mohamad Noor ( Gear ) seated around a table with a few others and greeted them with Salam. Then Zawawi came and I conveyed my condolences and he said the Imam of the mosque would be coming soon for the solat jenazah.

After the solat jenazah I took a lift with Mohamad Noor's car together with Hamzah and we followed the rest of the crowd to Bukit Kiara. The burial site is much further inside and we had to drive again after being told by the caretaker that it is one kilometre from where we originally parked the car.

The weather was hot and fortunately I brought two umbrellas as was suggested by Hamzah. When the talqin was recited by the Imam, it invoked in me that we would all be going the same way but only ALLAH shall determine that moment in time, not even a second earlier or later. Later in the evening when Hamzah dropped me off after the Buka Puasa do at OPA Penthouse in Saujana Resort, that I told him the talqin is meant more for the living than the dead and it's encouraged by Rasulullah ( S.A.W.) to accompany the deceased right up to the burial rites. Only then if one is willing to be reminded that our passage in this world is only transient and the final place for all believers will be the hereafter.

I stood barely a few metres from the Imam who was seated with Zawawi and his brother-in-law when the talqin was recited. It still rings in my ear when he said that do not be afraid when the two angels appear and start asking questions as who is your Rabb and your Prophet and what is your religion amongst the other questions. Thus I told Hamzah later that how would one be able to answer correctly if your preparation for the hereafter is less than satisfactory. Therefore we must constantly remind ourselves to perform our obligations as a Muslim diligently and without fail so that we would be able to face our fate when we are six feet underground.

After the crowd dispersed I met Yusof Ali Zain whom I have not met for a very long time and another colleague Samsudin Osman. I reached my house after going back to the mosque again to fetch my car, at about three o'clock as I stopped at two other places on the way home. It was a poignant moment of a day in Ramadhan especially when you are reminded of how fragile life is and what should one prepare to face that crucial "Question Time " where only your deeds which one performed when alive is the only salvation.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Buka Puasa at KGNS

Yesterday 03 September I waited for Hamzah to fetch me on his way to Kelab Golf Subang for berbuka puasa with friends. He left his house at Tropicana about 6.30 pm and while on the way he messaged me that he was stuck on the LDP.

Perhaps he was thinking that traffic would be normal and he would arrive at my house fifteen minutes after he left his house. Fortunately we arrived at the Golf club just about five minutes from breaking fast time.

When I entered the restaurant with Hamzah, I could discern from the passage leading to the seated area someone in baju Melayu and songkok and it happened to be Dato' Mahfar Sairan. He's there not as a host but as a guest. The host is Dato' Yahya Yakob, an Old Putra one year my senior in RMC and we served together in Information Ministry way back in 1992.

The group comprised mainly of his golf buddies and though I am not a golfer but Hamzah asked his permission to bring me along and he consented. Since we are all Old Putras, none of those present are stranger to me.

It was an enjoyable buka puasa, because we had a separate table and made our orders separate from the buffet served. We performed the maghrib prayer together at the surau and then only had our meal. We broke up in time for the Isyak and were supposed to go to Tengku Kelana Mosque but Hamzah and I gave it a miss due to the congestion for parking there and made it to Al-Hidayah Mosque instead. Alhamdulillah ! Hamzah dropped me home after the Terawih. Thank You Dato' Yahya Yakob and Hamzah for the wonderful Buka Puasa.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Blessed Ramadhan

I was told as a boy that Ramadhan is a month when the Divine verses of the Al-Quran were delivered to our Prophet Muhammad ( S.A.W.) through the Archangel Jibrail. Furthermore its the most blessed month in the Muslim lunar calendar where the satans are chained and whatever good one does is amply rewarded more than in any other month.

I am sure most who profess Islam have heard it before. But what is most intriguing is that whatever way one looks at it, although the satans are chained during the blessed month but the 'nafs' of those who perform the fast still follow the bidding of satan. If you happen to break the fast at hotels, it is common to see how much food is wasted at the tables. It is quite a scene to see people who pile up their plates with enormous amount of food from the buffet spread only to end up as leftovers. And we know that such behaviour is that of the satan. Thus I have refrained from breaking my fast in hotel restaurants unless I cannot avoid it.

Another thing which I noticed during the month of Ramadhan is that of the Terawih prayers in the mosque for the first half of the month is well attended but as the nights come to a close the congregation seemed to be declining. The reason given by some is that they do their terawih at home. It is very well if they do, as that's what Rasulullah (S.A.W.) did for the nights close to Lailatul-Qadar where the members of his family were awakened to pray together with him, because that night is better than a thousand months.

I supplicate to ALLAH S.W.T. that we are given the opportunity to experience the next Ramadhan and we are the better person for it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ramadhan O Ramadhan

I remember vividly that as a child, I could not join to break the fast together with adults if I have not learnt to fast during Ramadhan. So it was to impress upon me that if you want to break the fast together, you must perform it.

So when the obvious reward is right in front in the form of delicious food, one is more or less persuaded not by religious obligation but more for the immediate gratification. But it's just another way of learning so to speak.

Now when I look back over my childhood days, the learning curve in understanding one's obligations can be short or long depending on the environment you grow up with. If the upbringing is strict and harsh, one can either be compliant for the sake of avoiding punishment or compliant but resentful. I suppose that's how people easily discard what they learnt when it does not come with persuasion and faith.

Another thing which I observe is that Ramadhan is more of a month of feasting rather than restraint, with the proliferation of Ramadhan bazaars and " Buka Puasa " advertisements by five star and lesser star hotels in cities like Kuala Lumpur. Well times have changed and so does the meaning and significance of Ramadhan.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Wisdom of Enquiry

Now the Government has agreed to give in to the calls of a Commission to enquire into the death of Teoh, the political secretary of a Selangor State Exco, it takes the heat off the backs of the powers that be, for the time being.

From what we have seen before, the Commission of Enquiry on the management and improvement of the Police Force and the one which enquired into the " Lingam Tapes" have not resolved the critical issues which were raised and proposed by them. Of what use is there for another one, to enquire into the standard operating procedures and the methods adopted by the Anti- Corruption Commission in performing it's investigations would be, is surely going to be asked in future.

What needs to be done perhaps is not to enquire into the workings of the newly revamped ( even though just in name and form ) but more to develop a competent leadership and high calibre personnel to perform it's arduous task. It's no use paying lip service to the vital importance of human capital, but taking no drastic action to get the right people to perform the job. Of late we have seen a plethora of publicity on the MACC, but none about the rate of success in getting the corrupt behind bars. The numbers of convictions as compared to those being charged should be their key performance index, amongst other things.

Perhaps the enquiry should be focussed upon measuring the efficiency and effectiveness of MACC in stamping out corruption and benchmark it against the ICAC in Hong Kong.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Call for Enquiry

These past few days the barrage of calls for the Commission of Enquiry to be set up following the death of an aide to a Selangor State Exco member seemed to be gaining momentum.

I would like to reflect upon it's propriety, and in order to do this, a rational thinking process must be adopted. Let's look at the Act which provides for it's establishment, which inter alia says-

Issue of Commissions 2(1) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may, where it appears to him to be expedient so to do, issue a Commission appointing one or more Commissioners and authorizing the Commissioners to enquire into- (a) the conduct of any federal officer; (b) the conduct or management of any department of the public service of Malaysia; (c) the conduct or management of any public institution which is not solely maintained by State funds; or (d) any other matter in which an enquiry would, in the opinion of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, be for the public welfare, not being- (i) a matter not involving any question relating to the Islamic religion or the Malay custom; or (ii) in relation to Sabah or Sarawak, a matter specified in item 10 of the State list: Provided that where any federal officer whose conduct it is proposed to enquire, was, at the time of committing such conduct, serving in a department of the public service of a State, such Commission shall only be issued with the concurrence of the State Authority.( Commission of Enquiry Act, 1950 )

Hence since the death of the individual concerned is being investigated by the Police and it's only 60% completed, the talk of forming a Commission of Enquiry is to all intents and purpose is superfluous. The due process of the law must be allowed to take it's course and the Government must not be pressurised into something which is unlawful.

What is of vital importance is that suspicion can never be a good substitute for substantive evidence, no matter how circumstantial the case may be. If the authorities are not free to conduct an investigation without inteference, then the confidence of the people in the impartiality of the departments in question will suffer and the government's credibilty will be eroded. We must maintain a clear head and not allow our judgement to be overtaken by emotions and sentiments. The rule of law means just that, let the due process be completed and only then the next step should follow. The people must have confidence in the apparatus of the Government or else there will be anarchy.

Train Journey to Prague

I had very much wanted to put the photos of my journey by train to Prague from Vienna a few months ago, unfortunately I had difficulty in arranging them in proper layout.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Civic Hall in PJ

Yesterday I arrived at the MBPJ office at Jalan Yong Shook Lin at 9.00 a.m. sharp, this time not to settle my parking fine but to make enquiries of booking the Dewan Sivik and the attendant conditions attached to it. But after parking my car I went to the lobby of the hall just to find out where the banquet is normally held. The security guard behind the counter politely told me that I have to obtain a letter from the office to do that. So off I went.

When my number was called, I approached the counter and the young lady greeted me and I started the conversation saying that I want to find out what's involved in booking the Dewan. When she was informed that I plan to book it in June 2010, she was hesitant and said that I have to call her again in September because the booking for next year is not yet opened, especially the MBPJ plan to have an anniversary bash at about the same time, but their calendar is not yet fixed.

Anyway I told her just let me have the booking form and tell me what are the conditions attached for it's usage. What she told me was quite absurd. Any preparation for the function can only be done on the same day and not before and for the use of every facility like the waiting room and even to use the hall for the preparation is separately charged and not inclusive of the rental for the occasion. Even for the use of the rostrum is charged RM 50.00! What a ridiculous rate on the scale of charges for a public facility which is paid for from the taxpayer's money. No matter how well the hall had been refurbished, but it just did not make sense to charge for every little thing used. The name should be changed to the Uncivic Hall.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Interruption

I have no excuses for the interruption of my blog for quite sometime since my last posting, perhaps due to loss of steam. I must take all the rap for being plain lazy to continue the journey from Vienna to Prague. At first I just wanted to post the photographs but somehow got them in a juxtaposition which just did not make sense, so I aborted it.

Now I would like to continue with what's happening yesterday at our breakfast meeting of the Class of '64 at the KGNS. Although we came up with the idea of having this meeting after attending the Tahlil at the Penthouse of the OPA Building near Saujana Resort, I told Hamzah that it's not the number that mattered but the spirit does. And so we fixed the thursday of 25 June to have our breakfast meeting at the KGNS of which I am not a member. So it means I cannot sign any orders and only members of good standing can sign the bills.

So this time it's Zawawi Mahmuddin who is willing to pick up the tab, and as usual I asked for a ride to the place since my house is just on the way to KGNS. I was expecting Mohd. Noor Harun to pick me but it turned out the good samaritan Hamzah appearing at the appointed time and then we had to fetch Akbar at the Taman Bahagia LRT Station. Finally we arrived almost one hour after Zawawi.

I was expecting the breakfast meeting to last at the most for about two hours, but lo and behold it dragged on almost to 2.00 pm with the next one scheduled in Seremban sometime in October. Apart from listening to the " War Stories " of the Budak Boy days in College, we updated ourselves on our health, because it's the most precious asset that we treasured most next to our beloved families. I suppose when have another Class of '64 gathering on the cruise vessel belonging to one of our classmate, we are going to talk about the same things again, but never mind, as long as they are around, these stories will never get stale. As the potential owner of the vessel said, he wanted to see if the same number remains.

Monday, May 04, 2009

World Heritage Scenic Route, Semmering.

Monday 20 April, we managed to catch the train at Sudbanhof Station just in the nick of time before it rolled out of the platform. It took sometime for me to regain my composure because we almost missed it, and the lesson was well learnt that plenty of space must be given for the time taken from the hotel to the Station the next time we are going to take the train to Prague from the same station, as it's quite a distance from the main Westbanhof Station.

Nurul had taken the Eurail pass for three of us to be used for the train trip to Salzburg and Semmering, otherwise we had to pay a lot more. The train journey this time passes through one of the most scenic route in Europe and it had been declared as a World Heritage site. It's truly a beautiful sight to behold as we passed by along the valley looking at the the mountain slopes overlooking the valley.

Nasimah asked me to take the snapshots when we were nearing the Semmering Station, and I had to move over to the other side of the passenger seat where an old man is seated and he seemed to be unperturbed by my presence snapping away at the scenery as he was engrossed on going through a pile of newspapers taken from his briefcase and choosing the pages that he wanted to keep.The densely wooded mountain slopes interspersed by what looked like limestone cliffs and villages must have been a familiar sight to him, but not for this first time visitor.

We got down at Muzzulshlag Station at 12.29 pm to catch the train back to Vienna at 12.37 pm. As I was walking to the other platform, I found the place to be much colder than Salzburg. Perhaps it's due to the proximity of the mountain range near the station and the sun wasn't out like when we were in Salzburg.On this return journey I managed to catch a glimpse of the plaque near Semmering Station where the World Heritage Site is inscribed and tried to take a snapshot of it. This time we did not get down at Sudbanhof but one stop before it at about 2.05 pm and then took the Metro to the place where we were going to find a Halal Restaurant at Alser Strasse.It was quite a long walk to find the As-Sala Halal Restaurant but it was worth it because I had rice for lunch.After a late lunch we then walked towards Mariahilfer Strasse to catch the Metro at Neubaugasse and back to the hotel. So another day well spent in this historical city of Vienna.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Salzburg, the Fortress on the Hill

On Sunday 19 April we boarded the train from Westbanhof Station in Vienna at 9.33 am going to Salzburg. We hopped on the nearest coach at the platform only to be told by the ticket inspector that we have to move forward by five coaches since the one we were in would be disengaged and we made the move at the next stop. This time the train ride is pleasant and comfortable, unlike the one which I had to sit by the door when we came back from Antwerp which was right in front with the engineer compartment.

My attire for the Salzburg trip was complete, in the sense that I would not want to shiver should the weather is unoredictable, after all it's supposed to be near the Austrian Alps. But what a bright and sunny day it turned out to be, Alhamdulillah! When we were on top of the 900 year old fortress called " Festung Hohensalzburg" I had to put on my hat and take off my pullover because it was hot. The view from the fortress to the city and the river Salzach the was just superb. I could well imagine how the Alps look like in Winter! The fortress is the biggest and one of the best preserved in Europe. The exhibits inside tell a lot of stories of the power once held by Prince-Archbishops and the splendour of their wealth.Rumour has it that Leonard von Keutschach, the Archbishop of Salzburg from 1495 to 1519 used to squander money and his uncle threw a turnip at his head to knock some sense into him. Ironically the turnip became a symbol for Leonard's new found wisdom.

As time was short we had only a few hours to spend in Salzburg and to make the trip worthwhile for Nurul, she went into Mozart's house which has been turned into a museum while we waited on the small park opposite it. We managed to catch the train after an hour of Nurul's tour of the museum and arrived back in Wien at 8.45 pm. Tomorrow we plan to go to Semmering which is a world heritage site and it's one of the most beautiful scenic route in Europe.

Wien, Vienna.

On the 17th April 2009, we departed from Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam by SkyEurope a low cost carrier towards Wien ( or known by most as Vienna). The plane was supposed to take off at 9.10 am, but it arrived late and thus it departed only after about twenty minutes delay. So even a low cost carrier in Europe can be late, I said to myself, no wonder back home Air Asia doesn't bother too much when it's late for the take off.

It was a one and half hour flight, and as we were about to land, the captain decided to go up again, perhaps on instructions from the control tower. On landing, the plane parked very far from the terminal and we had to be transported by bus for disembarkation and the ride took about ten minutes. Well you cannot complain much when you go low-cost carrier. Being at Vienna Airport for the first time it took sometime to get our orientation as where to look for the taxi. Fortunately I had written the information about airport taxi services from the guidebook to Austria, where the advice is to take a taxi that offers fixed fare.

The taxi took about 45 minutes to reach the "pension"( another term for a hotel with private toilet) which had been booked much earlier, as it's the most affordable alternative to a hostel where facilities like toilets had to be shared or the expensive hotel. The entrance to the pension looked somewhat "antiquated" and on approaching the lift, again surprise as it reminded me of the "lift" in pre-war period where the "carriage" is made of solid timber and has a sliding door as well as the steel framed outer cage. The keys to our room is pasted on the door entrance contained in an enveloped and when I rang the bell, there was no answer. It seemed that anyone who had confirmed reservation should just use the key to enter the pension and to our room.

What irked me most upon entering the room is that there were only two single beds placed close to each other and movement is limited. Except for the bathroom, it was hardly suitable for three people. I joked that this is somewhat like a cheap lodging house in Kuala Lumpur's Chow Kit Road. But of course not the bathroom. Later on we discovered that the person who took down the reservation made a mistake and the person who dealt with us profusely apologised and reduced the rate accordingly, after putting an extra bed in an already cramped room. Since we only wanted a clean room and a private toilet, this seemed a bargain in an expensive city. So that's how the stay in Vienna started off.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Delft, Delve or Dig

Nasimah, Haniff and I got ready by 10.25 am to walk to the Central Station in Den Haag to catch the train to Delft. As usual I am always dressed to expect the worst because it is not my habit to absorb the cold, and I am very vulnerable to it. So even it's Spring, but I am dressed as if it's Winter! Better safe than sorry, as people use to say.

The return fare is 4.30 euros per head and the train took off right on the dot at 10.51 a.m. arriving at Delft station at 11.03 a.m.This is something which KTM Berhad should inculcate into their system, where punctuality should be second nature.

Walking slowly to the town centre in the bright sunshine without the blustery wind is a Gift from ALLAH, one which I appreciate with humility here. The town centre in Europe is usually the market centre, so since I had already mapped out the route to be taken from the Station it wasn't that difficult to find it.There wasn't the usual holiday crowd, unlike the one we came across in Antwerp yesterday. Nasimah went into the souvenir shop, while Haniff and I savour the sights on the Market Square.

Delft simply means "to delve" or "to dig", in reference to the construction of the canal in the 11th Century, now known as " Oude Delft ".Although people always associate Delft with it's blue ceramics, but in fact it is an intellectual centre and Delft Technical University has 15,000 students.Incidentally we met a group of Malay students who are still studying in Leeds, U.K. at the Market Square and they told us they were going to Keukenhof.

Then we took a ride on what is known as blue delft-xpress, just like a two coach tram with wooden benches going round the city, and it took one hour to complete the trip. Delft has much to offer than just the blue ceramics, and if one should visit Holland, this is a worthwhile place to visit.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Keukenhof, Garden of Flowers ( mostly Tulips)

We were in Keukenhof near Leiden yesterday to see it's 60th Anniversary Flower Exhibition.One has to experience one of the wonders of nature which is truly one of the Signs of ALLAH's Greatness. The area is famous for it's tulip bulbs, but the Exhibition area is specially cultivated like a botanical garden and there are hundreds of varieties of flowers being planted in between the trees and places in a park sorrounded by man-made lakes.

We took a train from Den Haag Central Station and got down at the Leiden Station in the direction of Amsterdam, a journey of about twenty minutes.Then from a bus stop just outside the Station,we hopped on to bus number 54 to Keukenhof for another 25 minutes. There was already a large crowd at the place and obviously the bright and sunny day made it more auspicious.

We spend the day following the guide-map shown in the book bought for four euros. While we were just covering a quarter of the exhibition area, it began to drizzle, but fortunately it was brief. While Nasimah was in the shop looking for souvenirs, Haniff and Nurul bought ice-cream from the stall nearby.

The word "Keukenhof" literally means "Kitchen Garden" because the place was used to gather herbs for the kitchen at the Castle.My impression of the place is one of appreciation of ALLAH's Gift to this world where the sweet smell of the flowers is just perhaps one would experience in Paradise.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Praise be to ALLAH, it's a bright Sunny Day!

Being from a country near the Equator, it's taken for granted that we enjoy the sun all the year round. Of course there's the monsoons and inter-monsoons, but somehow the sun on average does appear on the horizon. But since I arrived in the Netherlands, the weather has been mostly cloudy and cold, and this weather pattern can depress you.

So today when we were at the " Haagse Market" which is a huge " Pekan Rabu " of some 500 stalls, the sun shone brightly and the temperatures must have climbed up notably in the high of 19 degrees, I felt elated for the first time since I am here. It's the will of ALLAH that the weather differs in various parts of the World, because it's one of the Signs of His Greatness!

I am expecting Haniff, my youngest son to fly in from Ireland this evening for the Easter Holidays. I supplicate to the Almighty that he'll have a safe and smooth journey. Nurul, Nasimah and I would be going to the Central Den Haag Station to fetch him as it's only about fifteen minutes walk from the apartment. And InshaALLAH we shall be endowed with more bright and sunny days ahead. Alhamdulillah!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Barking at the Hill

There's a Malay proverb which goes like this, " Seperti Anjing Menyalak Bukit " which refers to a futile attempt to get attention. So since yesterday I came across a group of people demonstrating at a " Plein " or a Square very close to the Den Haag City Centre.

One of the "demonstrator" even gave me a flyer which unfortunately was in Dutch, and I have yet to learn the language.The girl who gave me the flyer must have been in her early teens and yet spent most of the day at the Square. The other people in the group kept shouting as they faced a building facing the Square, next to the Department of Justice,presumably an Embassy. It still continued when I passed the same Square on my way to the City Centre Malls. I could not make out what the shouting was all about, but my guess is it's connected to the a Liberation movement's struggle which had been dragging on for a long time and a lot of innocent people are caught in the crossfire recently between the government troops and the rebels.

Perhaps it's one of the way to attract attention, but since yesterday not many people took notice of them, and the cause they are trying to champion is somewhat coming to an end, so it seemed. But their commitment to stand and shout at the building in the cold weather, to me is really admirable.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Cycling World

No, it's nothing to do with the Tour de Langkawi which is an annual event in our country. But it's the fascination that struck me upon seeing people that I come across here in The Hague ( or Den Haag ) cycling which is almost second nature to the Dutch.

Without going into the factors that make cycling to be a habit whether it's to the young or old, male or female, it's part of their national psyche.And their climate is conducive to the habit. But one thing I am sure about is that their population is healthier and live longer because it's a good exercise, next to swimming.

But if I remember correctly, before we became more prosperous as of today, majority of our people mostly cycle too, whether in towns or villages. Alas if progress made us discard this habit, then it's not progress but regress.

My OPA Secretary would vouch that his cycling group is getting more people to cycle and being in Putrajaya does help a lot. So keep it up

Monday, March 23, 2009

Plodding the Blog

I have been laying off writing my blog for quite some time and I have no excuses for that. It's just that I am busy with other things in preparation for my trip overseas. My daughter Nurul is in the Hague for a short stint and my wife and I would be joining her in less that a fortnight, InshaALLAH.

Since I am not a seasoned traveller anymore, I have to plan very carefully not to bring along unnecessary stuff so that I would keep within the allowable check-in baggage since I am travelling economy. I have to balance the need to keep myself warm and the practicality of living like a nomad in a foreign country where the temperatures are obviously much lower than in the equator.

Being someone used to the comfort zone of my house, I have to get used to living on a less than what I am used to either in terms of food and the like. So please pardon me for my long silence as I plod along in my blog.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hooliganism, their trade mark

I just cannot imagine how the guards at the entrance to the Parliament could have allowed a group of hooligans to come into the compound of the august Parliament, the symbol of democracy which is the revered institution in our beloved Nation.

If we are mindful of the recent address by the King on his sadness to see the unparliamentary behaviour of our MP's, then nobody seemed to care what happened outside the building. For the bunch of idiots who seemed to have nothing better to do than to confront a wheel-chair bound elderly vocal politician by the roadside is a reflection of their mentors who claimed to govern this Nation within the realm of the Federal Constitution.

No matter how provocative Karpal's statement in Parliament had been, there's no excuse for these hooligans to act in the despicable manner and people who are sensible should condemn their utter disrespect towards the institutions of democracy. Those responsible in guarding the sanctity of the area within the compound of the Parliament House must take the rap for this lapse in security.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The toothless tiger

If I am not mistaken it was Tun Salleh Abas the former Lord President ( now known as Chief Justice ) aptly described the role of a Treasury representative on the Board of Bank Rakyat during the trial of the late Dato' Harun Idris who was then charged for corruption.

Today I saw on the news headline about the so-called new Commission to stamp out corruption with it's corterie of 'watchdog committees' to ensure that it's not a toothless tiger. Whether it can bite as much as it roars is much to be seen. But from my past recollection, it's rate of success in getting convictions was rather poor.

But from what I see in the newspapers, a lot of attention has been given to their new uniforms which looked rather more like the ones worn by dictatorial heads of some African countries. If these people who are going to catch the scoundrels who practice corruption start to admire each other's medals and their overhanging gold lanyards most of the times, then they could be fittingly be analagous to those toothless tigers. It's not the name or the uniforms that will do the trick of catching corrupt bums but diligence and hard work that requires patience, alertness and less conspicuous uniforms.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Bare Truth

People seemed to be quite adept at using technology to bare the truth nowadays. One of the recent victim is Elizabeth Wong, who got voted with a thumping majority at the last GE. Despite our dark clouds over the horizon and the forecasted millions who would be jobless in this part of the world, our nation is immune to these gloom of doom, so to speak.

No matter how much bare truth is being spewed by serious writers about our economic situation, an equally good number of spin writers are gleefully engrossed in circulating the bare truth of another kind. I don't think the people realise what's coming for them or what's going to happen to their ricebowl, for the denial syndrome seemed to have spread like a plague.

According to the EC, it's going to cost them a total of RM 1 million for the two by-elections and no one bat an eyelid or cared very much. Perhaps the amount of money that would be thrown around would be multiplied by ten for all to savour.

If the price of democracy is measured in terms of million ringgits, then we should call it "money democracy" to follow "money politics". That's the bare truth!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Saturday Talk at OPA Penthouse

Last Saturday 14 February I attended a talk organised by the Old Putra's Association on the theme " Where to Malaysia " and the panel speakers were OP Abdul Rahman Embong and OP Nasir Hashim.

The number of OP's attending was rather small and it was expected, because people are always committed to some chores on weekends, I mean personal errands. But it's not the crowd that matters, but the substance which should be on the people's mind.

After listening to the panelists who were moderated by OP Gurdial Singh Nijhar and also the comments from the floor, I took the opportunity to speak my mind.

From what I gathered, OP Rahman was focussing on the Rukunegara which was inadvertantly referred to as Rukun Tetangga by OP Rozaly Rahman and OP Nasir was focussing on more mundane matters related to the masses who are presumably the oppressed poor workers and squatters who have less in life and who should have more in law. One of the floor speaker, OP Rahman Daud commented on his experience in trying to energise the Trengganu civil servants to no avail.

My point was made known that whatever way we looked at the future, the most pertinent thing to focus is the system operators who get things done for the people. They must be on their toes and they should have the right mind-set and not be easily politicised. It's a tall order, but nonetheless essential to make our future generations uphold the good governance and ensure justice and fairness to all.