Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Winter of '78

It seemed that it was just only yesterday

We were staying down Whitehall Road at Penn Furnace

The courtesy of an old retired farmer

Giving my family a temporary stay

In his duplex overlooking the sprawling farm

I remember trying the ski in Winter '78

And my son trying the sledge near his garage

My classes were just beginning to start

And the snow covered mountains was such a beautiful sight.

Inspired by Magpie #44

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Teethering Poem

  • My mentor in poetry says that my first poem is a stanza. The last person who mentioned this term was my literature master Mr. P.D. Bond when I was in FMC. He was a brilliant teacher and when he taught us poetry he dramatise it to the point of enchanting the whole class in awe as he described in detail the symbols, allusions and imageries.

    The Dragonfly

    As the dew melts

    As the sun rises on the horizon

    I love to see the dragonfly perched on the twig

    It reminds me of my childhood

    Where in the early hour of the morning

    I walked to the clear stream

    For then the innocence of childhood

    In a village, serene and peaceful

    I came across the dragonfly on the bank

Monday, November 29, 2010

Delving into poetry

My fellow blogger, Hank said I should try going into poetry. Though I am not so confident as him, but I shall try my hand. So here goes;

My First Try

Full of trepidation

To find the right words

For the right expression

Lo and behold !

I am no Shakespeare or Byron

But a meek try for a reason.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Further Reminiscence of Angkasapuri

This is a continuation of the previous write-up on my stint at Angkasapuri which was one of the most enjoyable posting I had in my career as a civil servant.

On the first day of my reporting for duty as the Deputy Secretary-General, I received a call from someone who claimed to be a reporter, but he did not say from which newspaper. As someone who had been well grounded in Chapter D of the General Orders, I was wary of talking to the Press, not because I was unfriendly but more for the fear of being being misquoted and when the damage was done the repair would be superfluous. This guy asked me what I intended to do as the new Deputy and I politely replied that I needed to appraise first what priorities are awaiting for me before I could start anything to mend the "Labu". Hearing that he just put down the phone and I suspected it could have been an insider testing the waters.

As what Akhi Norzah wrote in his comments on my earlier posting, Angkasapuri was noted for its scandals involving top personalities with opposite sex , I was very much aware of this and as such my first priority was to erase that image by educating those who worked there that Angkasapuri was not the " Hollywood" which everyone thought it to be. Being hands on, I often practised MBWA, " Management by Walking About" and that surprised many people who were used to be left to their own devices. I recalled a few times when I walked around with Tok Mat and taking down notes as what he wanted to be done. Another person who was fond of jotting down what Tok Mat said during the Post-Cabinet Meetings was Dato' Jaafar Kamin, the DG of Broadcasting and was always teased by Tok Mat in his familiar phrase " Engkau tulislah je Ja'afar tapi satu pun tak buat". It dawned upon me that Angkasapuri was Tok Mat and Tok Mat was Angkasapuri, as most of the people whom I came across, including the Technical staff would not dare to do anything around the compound without the expressed permission from him.

One day I told En. Abdullah, an engineer in charge of the decorative lighting why some of the decorative lights were not functioning and still not removed and the reply was he had to wait for a directive from Tok Mat. I retorted back by saying that why he must wait for a directive on purely housekeeping matters and he just had no reply for that. I just instructed him to remove some of the 'junk' lights and told him that I would answer to Tok Mat, and of course nothing happened. But it proved the hold that Tok Mat had on everyone in Angkasapuri and I agree with Norzah that he was one of the most difficult Minister to understand, but once you gained his trust, it was just plain sailing.

One day Tok Mat asked me why some of the things he wanted done was still delayed and I explained to him that before we could start incurring any expenditure which was not voted for in the year must await the approval from the Treasury. I had asked the Treasury's approval for the work which he asked for and the reply I received was those items had been asked and approved before my assumption of duty and wanted to know what had happened to the funds that had been approved. That put paid to any further query from Tok Mat and he knew from then on that I was just doing my job as expected from a civil servant.

Another interesting discovery I made was how ridiculous was the thinking at the top levels of the Ministry that they had no strategic direction of an organisation and allowed almost everything to be decided by the Minister. As such I organised a course on OD (Organisational Development) by bringing in a consultant from outside with Treasury's approval of course. One senior officer from the Broadcasting Department just gave up and requested me to exempt him from the course when he saw the number of books he had to read for the three-day's course and the participants had to stay-in the training centre Bangi. But it was only an eye-opener and for the first time Dato' Jaafar Kamin dared to ask Tok Mat to let him complete the course when he was immediately summoned for something which was not tantamount to a life and death situation. To me that was a breakthrough, whereby he would not hesitate to drop anything whenever he was called by the Minister. After the course was over, Encik Din, the person responsible in conducting the course gave me a favourable feedback and said in order to make the change it was a good start but there must be a follow-up and unfortunately I was not there to see the change being sustained. It had been always the drawback for any reform in the public service organisations to be sustained due to frequent transfers of officers and the initiative just went away with the person. Nevertheless I had contributed to an incremental change no matter how short-lived it was.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

My Recollection of Angkasapuri

Last Tuesday, 02 November 2010 I was at the Neuro ward of KL General Hospital visiting a long time friend and an ex-colleague during my stint at Angkasapuri. Dato' Yahya Yacob called me in the afternoon to ask me whether I was free to go with him and I replied in the affirmative. Encik Khalili Naam had been in hospital for a couple of months due to a stroke and this is my second visit together with Dato' Yahya who was then the Secretary-General of the Information Ministry when I served as his deputy.

Khalili is an affable and jovial person and I sometimes come across him at the Village Park restaurant in Uptown, Damansara Utama when I go for breakfast there at weekends. He was heading the administration of the Ministry when I was posted as the deputy secretary in 1991 and I was indebted to him for being a trustworthy and efficient subordinate, especially in giving me the tips on how to deal with the moods of Tok Mat who was then the Minister. I had an easy time with Dato' Yahya Yacob being an Old Putra and also with the DG of Broadcasting, Dato' Jaafar Kamin who was my contemporary when we were students in University of Malaya.

On recollection of my stint at Angkasapuri, it was one of the most enjoyable posting I ever had in my career as a public servant not because of its glamour but what I could do to improve the place,especially in housekeeping matters. I suppose many of the people who worked in Angkasapuri were under the illusions of being a celebrity centre because that is where many of the great names of the entertainment industry were born. But I had a different perception altogether. As I was in charge of Security, I had to make sure nothing untoward happened during my term, and as such instituted immediate measures to improve the security image of the place.For the efforts which I took, Tok Mat nicknamed me IGP and some ex-RTM staff still remembered me for that.

But what is most satisfying was that I was able to meet the announcers whose names were household words during my schooldays when TV was not introduced yet. In fact I was toying with the idea of becoming a producer with RTM upon my graduation, but gave it up when I consulted my late Uncle who was then in TV Malaysia, Hashim Amir Hamzah. One day we went around wishing the staff at the Radio House, Selamat Hari Raya as Syawal was nearing and when I met Nurlidar Saidi she was so delighted when I told her that I was a radio fan during my schooldays and she was one of those whom I liked to hear. She immediately asked me whether I heard about that episode in Manila when she had to fly back because the late Tunku was worried that Soekarno had take a fancy on her. She was laughing it off as if it was a joke and said if she married Soekarno, there would be no "Konfrontasi" between Malaysia and Indonesia.

When I left Angkasapuri, by then the Fire-Safety Comittee was revived and I appointed the Chief Engineer, Alimusa who later became the DG as the Chairperson. By a sheer stroke of luck, fire broke out on one of the floor of Angkasapuri but since the sprinklers had been installed and activated, the damage was not so severe. But it was a lesson learnt that safety could not be taken for granted.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Hajj, Journey of the Heart.

I am prompted to update my blog when I read the comment from Pak Cik Al-Manar in Hank's blog " Birdhouse". Frankly speaking I have been attending so many weddings and going to and fro my hometown Seremban for the past several weeks to help my sister in keeping appointments with the doctors on behalf of my father left me quite little time to reflect on what to write in my blog.

Incidentally I met someone at the car wash which I frequented every week, lamenting on the late notifications by Tabung Haji even though the would be pilgrims have been confirmed of their turn this Hajj season. Whenever I pass by Tabung Haji complex in Kelana Jaya and seeing the tents sprouting around the complex and reading the complaints from all quarters about the way the Mecca bound pilgrims are being handled from the point of reporting at the departure hall in the complex, left me wondering whether these people realise that the Hajj journey is first and foremost begins in the heart.

Notwithstanding all the quirks and discomforts that these people are experiencing from the stage of preparing to take off for the journey to Mecca, they should be thankful that their life long ambition of performing the last Pillar of Islam is coming to fruition. That is the most fulfilling journey of the heart which should not be confused with any other journey that one normally goes through. As a journey of the heart, all concentration is focused on thing, that is to perform all the mandatory rituals of the Hajj to the best of one's ability and whether it is a Hajj Mabrur or not is not of prime consideration. If it could be achieved, than it is a bonus, but the basics of the 'niat' Ihram and Hajj is just for the sake of ALLAH and none other. The ustaz of the morning TV program mentioned a funny episode where a question was posed to a would be pilgrim before departure what Hajj is he going to do, and the answer was " Haji Mabrur", whereas what was intended was to find out whether he was going to do " Haji Tamattu'" or " Haji Ifrad " since he was going on the last few flights direct to Mecca.

One of the many complaints in the past was the pilgrims who were allowed to perform their Hajj many many times, whereas there are those who have not been even once are still awaiting their turn. Apart from those with valid reason for going more than once, such as accompanying their ageing parents or whose spouse is going for the first time to be accompanied by the husband, others should not be allowed as they are depriving those who are patiently waiting for their turn to perform the Hajj for the first time. If Hajj is the performance of one's obligation, then priority should be given to first timers. After all, going to Hajj more than once is not obligatory or mandatory. May ALLAH be the final arbiter on those whose turn is yet to come and more than ready to go to Mecca to perform the Hajj.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Where art thou, Suhaimi.

At about midnight on Friday 17 September 2010, my aunt Habibah passed away at the General Hospital Kota Bharu, Kelantan. She was rushed to Tumpat Hospital by ambulance two days earlier from her house in Pengkalan Kubor near Tumpat and fortunately all her grandchildren were at home for the Hari Raya then.

By the following day she was transferred to Kota Bharu General Hospital, though concious but unable to speak and the last I spoke to her grand-daughter, she would go for the CT Scan and the following night she passed away. May ALLAH Bless her soul, Al-Fatihah.

The last time I spoke to her on the phone was several weeks before Ramadhan and she was always enquiring from me about whether I managed to get in touch with her only surviving offspring, my cousin Suhaimi. I was fortunate to meet Suhaimi five years ago in London when I was on my way back from the US and Ireland. He spent more than two hours at the flat where I put up and he listened more on what I had to convey. When I took my flight home, he came to send my wife Nasimah and I at Heathrow. That was the last I saw of him.

All my efforts to trace him since then had failed, because his phone number and even his email account have expired, perhaps he did so deliberately or otherwise, ALLAH only knows. When his father died in an accident, we tried to get in touch with him to no avail. Now his mother's demise, no one could tell him because he went incommunicado.

Suhaimi is a prodigal son but somehow he had strange ways of showing his relationship to his parents and siblings. Being the only son of a two child family, he went to boarding school in Kelantan at an early age. Perhaps that made him rather detached from his parents. When he was in ITM in the seventies, he won one of the top place in the professional accounting qualifications for the region and with that he went to London to continue as a chartered accountant.

It was in 1972 when I went to see him at his 'dig' right on top of the attic, and I told him how his mother would cry if she saw the place he was staying in. But typical of him, he just shrugged it off. When he came back, he managed to secure a good job and the last I knew he was doing his own business, unfortunately he was hit by the financial meltdown in 1997.

He went to become an accountant in the UK when the late Tan Sri Yahya wanted someone whom he could trust to manage the books of Lotus when he took over the Company. Thus I bumped into him in Sussex Gardens in London in 1997 when he was in the doldrums, after the death of Tan Sri Yahya. Again when I met him in 2005, he was a rolling stone, going on one job after another. After sending me a long e-mail when I came back after a few weeks, he was completely off my radar.

Now I wonder where could he be, and true to Auntie Habibah or fondly known as Mak Uda to all her nephews and nieces, she would not be able to meet him, after I told her that Suhaimi might not come back even after 5 years time, and that was when I told her in 2005. May ALLAH place her soul amongst the chosen few and open Suhaimi's heart to contact any one of his nephew and nieces who are the only surviving members of his immediate family.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Aidulfitri 2010

The picture is taken impromptu, unlike previous years where the family gatherings must end up with a family picture at my late father-in-law's house in Section 11, Petaling Jaya, except for last year it was at my house in SS3/94 in Kelana Jaya.

As such there were many absentees, and it cannot be helped because each family have commitments to attend too. But one thing that is different this time, the gathering is in Kota Damansara, my sister-in-law's house which is a newly occupied residence when she moved early this year from her rented place in Mutiara Damansara. To make it more memorable the late afternoon thunderstorm was so heavy that it looked like another flash flood would have occurred in many areas in Klang Valley.Fortunately being Hari Raya, I did not come across any news of such occurrence.

This Hari Raya I have my father and sister with me at SS3 because he had just been discharged from Hospital Tuanku Jaafar, Seremban after being admitted on the 17 August at 3.00 am and I had to go to and fro PJ-Seremban to help my sister going up the steep slope of that unfriendly hospital. He can continue to recuperate here, for he badly requires the rest as he is still not back to his normal strength.

Yesterday, 12 September 2010 I have to bring him to the nearest private hospital, The Kelana Jaya Medical Centre because he complained of acute pain due to his stricture of the urinary passage of which he has been under treatment at Ampang Puteri Hospital for the past year. The urology clinic in Ampang is not opened until this friday, so I have to find an alternative and he is given a dose of pain-killer and antibiotics. The good thing is that, the doctor who is on duty told me that the regime which Seremban Hospital gives for the insulin jabs is not appropriate and so he changed the type which has two-in-one function. It is only recently that he has become insulin dependent, since his hospitalisation in Seremban. So I have to make sure that the dosage is correct and this morning I went to KJMC once more to confirm the dosage since he introduced a new prescription of insulin. Well it looked like my hospital trips is the feature of my Ramadhan 1431 Hijri as well as Aidulfitri 1431 Hijri. Alhamdulillah!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Private vs Public Hospital

I have been going to and fro the hospitals for the last decade quite frequently whenever my ageing father is down with a number of illnesses that require treatment and hospitalisation both public and private. The most glaring difference between the two is of course the charges incurred whenever he is discharged.

Nobody likes to be hospitalised unless one has to be admitted for one reason or another, and since the last decade my father had been in and out of hospitals for many many occasions that I could well remember, whether in Seremban, Petaling Jaya or Kuala Lumpur. And this Ramadhan he is hospitalised again when all of a sudden he became very weak and shivering after a nap one afternoon.

The strange thing this time is that the doctor told me to take him home after being wheeled into the emergency by ambulance and with the understanding that I should bring him again to the hospital Seremban should his condition warrants it. I suppose on that day the number of emergency cases were too many that hospital beds were at a premium. True to what was promised, I had to rush him to the same hospital at 2.00 am in the wee hours of the morning because he had the chill again.

Upon being warded at 3.00 am and being Ramadhan, I had to take my "Sahur" at the restaurant which was opened nearby and then went to my sister's house in Paroi.I managed to get help from friends to get him transferred from the third class ward to the first class ward after my father had to spend two sleepless nights because the conditions in the ward hardly enabled him to get some sleep.

I had always called Seremban General Hospital an unfriendly hospital when compared to other hospitals because I had to climb a hundred over steps in order to visit the ward from the parking area. What more if I had to do it in the heat of the day in Ramadhan. Often times I had to stop for my breath before stepping out again, because of the steep climb. I noticed that a new multi-storey car park is being built by the road leading up to the hospital and it would be completed in two years. By then I hope I can be sure of getting a parking bay without having to stop for my breath. For now it is still an unfriendly hospital to me.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ramadan O Ramadan

For many who are true Believers, the holy month of Ramadan signifies one of the greatest Blessings from ALLAH S.W.T. because the rewards of performing one of the obligations as required of each and every Muslim and Muslimat is very much awaited for in the Qamariah calendar.

For those who look forward to this month which is termed as Ramadan al-Mubarak it holds many significant promise as found in the Al-Quraan and the Traditions of our beloved Prophet (PBUH), but for many it is just another ritual which must be fulfilled. Nevertheless all believe that in this period of the year, we must perform one of the Pillars of Islam. But lo and behold! for those who do not perform the obligatory prayer for five times a day, their fasting is all a waste and all they get is ' Lapar dan Dahaga' which means they shall not benefit at all in terms of what ALLAH has promised.

It does not take a rocket scientist to know the benefits of fasting, because it gives the stomach a much needed rest at least once in a year and that is only during the day. However it still does it job during the night. And for those who perform the Terawih prayers after the solat isya' knows that it helps the digestive system to function better.

So let us do our best this Ramadan because one can never be sure of meeting the next Ramadan.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Count your Blessings

I talked at length today with my cousin about her husband who was 'lost' last week for more than twenty hours after sending their daughter to school. My cousin and family went to Brisbane to see their daughter who is studying at the University of Queensland more than three weeks ago, and her husband and the youngest daughter came back earlier.

One day last week he send his daughter to school in the morning but something strange happened when his daughter had to guide him on the directions and after dropping her off, she had the instinct to call her brothers who were at work informing them about the incident. After being alerted of the situation, the eldest son immediately tried to locate him to no avail. It took the son and the daughter to be on the road for ten hours trying to locate him and a police report was made saying that he was missing.

To cut the story short, their father managed to find his way back home at 2230 hrs much to everyone relief. It seemed that he went to visit his ex-colleague in Putrajaya and then he reported to the police on the loss of his car. Actually he had forgotten where he parked it and then with the help of his colleague's staff and then drove home. But instead of home he drove a total distance of 700 kilometres for the whole day trying to figure out where his house is.

After this incident his sons brought him to see a neurologist and he was diagnosed as vascular dementia. It meant he had a silent mild stroke which affected the brain and thus contributed to his lapse of memory.

When I am told of his predicament, I am grateful to ALLAH S.W.T for the Blessings bestowed to me in the form of an active mind and a relatively healthy body. I still have the risk factors but it is under control and God Willing I intend to keep it that way. One of the ways of keeping the mind active is lifelong learning and thus I keep busy at the keyboard,much to the consternation of my wife sometimes. But that is how to keep up with knowledge instantly nowadays and the most effective method of communicating with my friends. I supplicate to ALLAH S.W.T. that I am always protected from such a condition and manage to have a healthy mind, body and soul.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Taking Care of the Elderly

We have been told many a times that it is the Asian value to care for our elderly parents especially when they are infirmed and senile and the term bandied about is filial piety.

But recently there have been a number of incidents reported in the Press where parents or one of them have been left on their own either to roam the streets or placed in the Old Folks home without bothering to visit them or seeing them even on festive days. Even in my neighbourhood of the so-called elegant satellite city to the Federal capital there is a mushrooming of nursing homes and centres for abandoned old folks run by individuals or charities.

Last week I went to visit a close relative at a privately run centre for the elderly and the infirmed about half an hour drive from my house. I only came to know about his presence at this particular home by chance, when I met his brother-in-law at a wedding function in Taman Tun Dr. Ismail.

Before going I enquired from the owner of the centre where the place is and when can I pay a visit. The good lady answered me giving the directions from my house and said that I can pay a visit at any time. I took along my 90 year old father and my family one fine morning to visit the place because he had not seen my uncle ( cousin to my dad) for many many years. Upon reaching the centre, I took out the wheelchair from the car boot and gave it to my sister for her to wheel my dad up the slight slope to the centre. While I was parking the car, one of the centre's helper opened the gate and allowed my wife and sister with my father being wheeled into the house. When I entered the house after them, I found my uncle seated on a sofa and I could not recognise him initially. He is so frail and looked very different when I last saw him several years back. He could not talk and he could not recognise any of us. The helper told us that he could not even recognise any of his siblings except for the youngest sister of his.

Instinctively my tears were shed when I went to inspect his room where a bedridden inmate is placed next to my uncle's bed. I stroke the person's head and he lay there as helpless as a baby, complete with diapers and unable to speak a word. It was such a pitiful sight and I prayed that I would not live to such a situation, God Willing.

We were told by the helper that ' Tok Misai ' the nickname given to my uncle, his condition is such that he suffered insomnia and he fell a few times at his house in Seremban which needed a few stitches and probably contributed to the hapless situation where no one could take care of him anymore. I was informed that his wife is now with her daughter and she is also not in good health.

We spent about two hours trying to relate to him but to no avail, though he smiled when I told him that we are from the same roots, ' Tambusai' because he was the first pro-tem Chairman of our family association called ' BERKAT' as the acronym. The last time I met him, we could talk about the activities of the Association and he was happy that it was still running after its formal inception in 2002. I then assumed the post of the President for two terms and I resigned voluntarily a few months before the end of my term for personal reasons.

I told my father that God Willing he would not be send to such a centre no matter how well run the place is, because I have a responsibility and duty to take care of him till his last days. And I pray that I would not have to be an inmate of such a centre because all the faces whom I saw there were evidently sad ones and hardly any who smiled. Such a fate hopefully would not befall any of my family members, now and ever.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Reminiscing the Past Grand Malay Weddings

I was invited to attend an Akad Nikah ceremony on the evening of 15 July at one of the exclusive neighbourhood in Kuala Lumpur which is neighbouring the grounds of the Istana Negara which is still under construction. The card was sent to me by one of the office staff of the host whose office is situated in Bangsar, and looking from the box which is tastefully designed (it is an invitation card really) I knew that the person who is inviting me is indeed one of the " Nouveu Riche " which fellow blogger " Norzah " had written about recently. But this " Nouveu Riche " is not a sleeping partner of a Chinese towkay or a proxy of any VVIP but he worked hard to be where he is now, but of course the NEP had a hand in helping him too.

Upon receiving the invitation, I immediately could guess from whom it came from because he is a close relative. When he was still studying in Australia, his father passed away and before he died he was mumbling something which I could not comprehend but only heard he mentioned the name of this prodigal son who was also a product of the other school which was at one time catering exclusively for the Malay aristocracy and their cohorts. Probably he wanted to know how his son was doing, and a few days after that he died.

Now that prodigal son of his is a multi-millionaire if not a billionaire. I met many of my kampong relatives who were present at his newly occupied palatial mansion and the celeberation just for the Nikah just reminds me of what my grandmother used to describe as " Olek Bosa " and fit for a King. In the past Malay weddings lasted for three days and three nights and complete with all the ceremonies which reflect the social standing of the person. Last night's event was just a repeat of that "Grand Malay Weddings " which is absolutely grand and expensive. My cousin who is also an invited guest came all the way from Seremban and he was so excited that he asked me to accompany him to explore the three levels of the house and urged me like an excited child to try the lift in the house. Of course I obliged him and said how I wished I could own a palatial mansion like it, but that is just wishful thinking. I met also many old friends, and one of them was Mariah who attended the SEP 40 Course in LBS London, way back in 1997 when I was still a public servant. I also met Molly and OP Azat and he profusely apologised for not being able to attend my invitation last 19 June 2010.

There is another reception that will be held this weekend at Mandarin Oriental but I had told the host that I would not be able to attend that function. And there will also be a post wedding celeberation in the following weekend to be held also at his palatial mansion where merrymaking, movies, dancing and singing will remind us of " The Olek Bosa ". Fortunately I was not invited to that celeberation.In the yonder years of the past where the post wedding night was celeberated with "Joget Moden" and where "Joget Girls" would adorn the night in the compound of the family abode in Terachi, Kuala Pilah it would last till the wee hours of the morning. But all those had gone into the recess of my memory chip upstairs and now this grand wedding is to be repeated after more that half a century at the heart of the federal Capital neighbouring the grounds of the new " Istana" and the address is always associated with 'Gold' as a symbol of the " Nouveu Riche".

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Forum at OPA Penthouse

Last Friday evening of 09 July 2010 a Forum was held at the Old Putera Association Penthouse in Saujana Resort where the OPA Building is situated. I am not a regular visitor to the OPA Secretariat and I only made my presence felt on occasions which I deem fit to be there, such as the Annual Tahlil or events of similar nature. At the behest of my colleague OP Azudin O Fuad, I agreed to become the moderator for his so-called " Chief Raggers Convention" but I suggested that the topic should be renamed to a more palatable one, and so he changed it to, " Serve to Lead; A Tradition of Honour and Excellence ". The aim of the Forum was to provide a platform for the OP's ( Old Puteras ) to look for ways and means to make the RMC relevant in the context of the tragic incident involving the death of a New Boy, Putera Naim Mustakim at the hands of his seniors supposedly from "Ragging" which turned ugly.

The media blitz and a bold attempt by one OP to defend the image of the RMC from the barrage of attacks made many OP's feel the necessity to hear what actually happened from the horse's mouth so to speak and look at the RMC's relevancy vis-a-vis its Charter and suggest a series of action for consideration of the BOG. It appeared the problem of " Ragging " had been swept under the carpet for too long and very little effort were taken by the authorities to prevent such misadventure.

So prior to the Forum, I went to see OP Azudin in his capacity as the Executive Secretary of the Old Putera Association to discuss my role as a Moderator.When we have agreed on the modus operandi and who should sit as Panelists, then I made my exit as I had other appointments to keep. Incidentally I met the writer of the book " Kolonel Jihad" at OP Azudin's office and I took the opportunity for him to autograph 3 copies of his book.

The Forum that Friday evening comprised of 4 Panelists each representing the Generation of the 60's, 70's, 80's and the 90's. The attendance of OP's initially was small but as time increased a few more turned up. This was expected as the past trend had shown that few OP's turned up at such gatherings. But those who attended were very attentive and participated actively when the Forum was opened to the Floor. There were a few startling revelations as how mild the "Ragging" practice was in PD which I went through until it became unthinkably violent. Nevertheless most kept their cool, as OP's we were quite accustomed in facing adversity with stoic calmness and with that training of the mind and matter which saw most of us able to weather any 'cyclones' or 'hurricanes' in our chosen field or profession.

The conclusion of the Forum was that RMC should remain relevant BUT with the proviso that a thorough and comprehensive reform must be carried out Pronto! There should not be any dilly dally as what transpired in the past when the "Way Forward" was mooted but did not see the light of day, perhaps there were more important issues that require greater attention and on merit probably the problem was conveniently overlooked. Now the death of Allahyarham OP Naim Mustakim has changed the RMC's BOG priority and if this matter is not resolved, they all should resign en bloc. The photos above were the few taken that night just for rememberance.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Mind Over Matter

This phrase cropped up in my fellow blogger's comment when I posted my remarks about his recent posting about the "Nouveau Riche" or the "New Rich". It reminds me of my cousin's private company which goes by the name " I.M. Rich " which signified his quest to repeat his late father's nickname when I heard people calling him in Kuala Pilah, "Manaf Kayo".

In the pursuit of wealth and riches "Manaf Kayo" had gone from "Boom" to "Bust" in his fortunes and my late grandmother used to ramble about who were his friends when he was loaded and when he was completely down all of them just abandoned him. But that is all history.

What my blogger friend is focusing on is how and what this group of lucky creatures managed to be where they are today.

It is pretty obvious that we have come across how some fortunate felda settlers from Kg. LBJ in Negri Sembilan became overnight millionaires and also how they ended having to work as security guards once the money were gone. Never mind, they do not mind and money did not matter. Insofar as many of the New Rich amongst the Malays, there is a glaring leap in their numbers amongst politicians who yesterday were either country bumpkins in their dress and lifestyle, suddenly flaunted their new found wealth by having palatial mansions, savile row tailored suits and a fleet of Mercedes-Benz and BMW's in their garage and probably more than one wife.

The question that goes a begging is how could they acquired such immense wealth and riches without even lifting a finger so to speak? The explanation is quite plain and simple. Just do it in any manner deemed to be expedient,and if the Bosses do not mind how you came about to be rich, it does not matter from where you could have obtained the bundle, whether at the sweepstakes or at the Genting casino, even though Believers are not allowed there, but if you know some 'Tengku Wongs' up in the trees, he could help you out with money derived from timber licenses all in the name of his patron who lives in Pekan.

Many looked at this phenomena rather nonchalantly about how lucrative it is for people to join Politics in order to put their hands into the public till without any feeling of guilt and take out the money hoping that he could put it back the next day but were never accounted for. This is how many robber barons in this country operated unashamedly all because their political bosses do not mind and it does not matter if you become rich overnight because they expect you to contribute to their special fund and their privy purse.

I used to take pride that we were not in the same category of countries in the ASEAN region where corruption is a way of life. Once when I was in Jakarta, a very long time ago, before Habibie became President, the official driver of our entourage lamented how difficult it was to make ends meet and life more of a constant struggle for survival,especially " Orang Kerdil" like him, whereas their Pak Mentris and their cronies owned a swathe of factories and businesses as well as monopolies which enabled them to live in grandeur and splendour . Alas, that picture can now be found in our Nation and these are the very people who shouted at the top of their voices that KKK ( Corruption, Cronyism and Collusion ) is the myth of the Opposition.They easily forget that such enormous wealth and riches wre acquired through ill-gotten methods which are wrong in life and in Law. This is evidently clear as what Lord Acton said, "Power Corrupts and absolute Power corrupts Absolutely". But it is a question of mind over matter, that is if you do not mind, then all the crooked ways do not matter. Many said that our country is going to the dogs, but to me, every dog has its day, maybe tomorrow is mine, but I am no dog, because it is unclean, at least to the Believers.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Public Statements

When I was a public servant for more than three decades, the rules and regulations governing conduct and discipline of government officials especially at the higher echelons was an integral part of one's career and any infringement of the Chapter D of the General Orders would land an officer in jeopardy if a prima facie case is established and disciplinary proceedings is instituted. Although the Cap D of the G.O. went through several name change, but generally speaking all civil servants refer it by its original name.

When I became the Secretary of the Public Service Disciplinary Board for the higher grades officers in the civil service, I rarely came across any civil servant who was charged with an offence pertaining to making public statements which were deemed to be an offence under Cap D. However a public officer need not get prior approval if the public statement issued to the press or aired over the electronic media is related to his departmental functions, role and responsibility.But he should not make any comment as to the merits or demerits of any policy matters in making public statements.

The reason for this code of conduct is to ensure that public servants do not speak out of turn, thus causing embarrassment to his Minister or the Government.

But of late it seemed that such a code of conduct which is only applicable to civil servants should be equally applied to Members of the Administration. The Federal Constitution states that a politician who holds a designated position in the Government such as a Cabinet Minister is regarded as a Member of the Administration . Being elected representatives they are not subject to Cap D and thus they have to exercise self discipline where conduct and discipline is concerned. But when new MP's or Senators are appointed to hold high office, they only take an oath before the Agong or the PM whichever the case may be, and they have to go on a learning curve which sometimes can be quite costly in terms of credibility of the government. Often times they make public statements which contradict even their own Ministry's stand and this can cause unnecessary embarrassment. I think it is high time a provision not unlike Cap D of the G.O. should be also be applied to those who hold office at Cabinet level. A glaring example is the statement made by the Minister of Defence on the tragic incident of a new boy who died due to ragging in the RMC. The Ministry issued a press statement that a Board of Investigation would be set up to look into the tragedy but a few days later the Minister himself announced the expulsion of one Budak boy and four more suspended. Thus it looks as if a verdict is handed down to the culprits even before the Board began its work. This is just one case, and I recalled the incident of the RMN landing ship which caught fire at the Lumut Naval Base when he said that the fire was due to a short circuit even before investigations was conducted. He went to the extent of announcing that the Government was looking to procure another similar ship to replace the vessel which was still in embers.

The standard ruling by the Cabinet Division of the PM's Dept in the past was that no public statements should be issued on matters that falls within the purview of the Cabinet, which literally covered a whole operations of Government. It is no use to come out with another law to solve this problem, if the political will is lacking. Members of the Administration should not become the laughing stock of the global village.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Whither the RMC?

I am proud of the crest which symbolises the institution which shaped my formative years and instilled in me the meaning of discipline, honour, integrity and honesty, all attributes of good upbringing and sound character. Perhaps the so-called paragon of virtues had been cultivated by my father and mother, my early teachers in Malay School Rasah right through KGV Seremban, but the final grooming was done in those four crucial years where the pain, anguish and suffering were the ingredients that separated the men from the boys.

Yesterday I came across the news of the death of one new boy who was ragged by his seniors that ended in his demise. Now it has become a police case and investigations is under way. This is indeed a black chapter in the history of my Alma mater which I left nearly half a century ago. As an OP, the name given to members of the Old Putera Association, we carry with it a certain responsibility and dignity, that we must uphold the values imbued in many ex-Budak boys that we serve to lead, in keeping with our motto. But just like what is happening around us after 50 years of Merdeka, the reputation of my Alma mater has seen better times.

I wanted my son to follow my footsteps by applying to join the RMC after his PMR but fortunately I was dissuaded by another OP who was then in the exco of the RMC Parent-Teachers Association. I did not know the rhyme or reason for his advice but one word remained in my memory bank. He said then the leadership of the institution was falling below our expectations. To me it was a sad state of affairs because I had gone through its portals and was convinced that it was the home of future leaders.

Now the process of decline is being arrested where the OPA was involved in charting its future direction but alas this had to happen. I wish the RMC the best of luck in its efforts to return to excellence. The vital ingredient is pretty obvious, ie. excellent leadership must be seen to be done and not just being talked about.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Taking a short Break

As a matter of fact I have been rather busy with attending to some urgent family matters for the past weeks, but still faithfully not losing track of the Internet, as it has become an integral part of my life.

I learnt yesterday of the sad news of the passing away of my former classmate, Hamzah Abdullah who could not turn up for the Class reunion in May, and my hope of seeing him this Saturday is thus unfulfilled. His son told me that he was hospitalised for a month but requested that the news be kept away from his friends. His health had been on the poor side for so long and he told us that he almost did not make it some two decades ago. But we thought he had recovered as he served as a member of the Film Censorship Board. Al-Fatihah and may his soul be amongst those who are upright and blessed.

To my dear friends who always visit my blog, I am going to take a short break after this, but will be back as soon as possible to pen my remarks on matters which are close to my heart. Salam and Regards.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Flip Flop Policy

The term 'Flip Flop' is normally used to denote frequent changes which take place with regard to a position one normally takes, especially in making policy pronouncements and it reflects the fickle mindedness of the authority. Yesterday I read in a Malay daily about the suspension of a previous policy announced by the Minister responsible for human resource whereby companies providing security services have to implement hefty pay rise to all personnel employed in that sector. The main reason cited for the announcement was to improve the quality of people being recruited since the low wages paid to security guards just did not make sense in the light of the current challenges posed to these workers who have to put their lives on the line owing to the nature of their job.

Now the Minister says the companies involved appealed to the Ministry to defer the decision because they might have to wind up if the policy is implemented. What is most perplexing is that, under normal circumstances before an important policy is announced, there should have been consultations between the Ministry and all those involved in the security industry. Especially when a law is to be enforced any changes should have been discussed at length by all government departments and agencies concerned and if the matter requires approval, a Cabinet paper is prepared and circulated for comments before it is tabled to the meeting.

There have been many instances where a policy which have been announced had to be retracted because of the changes taking place which were not anticipated before.This should not have happened if good governance is our prime objective.During the era of the first few Prime Ministers, this is taboo, because such a 'flip flop' position would erode the confidence of the international community on the credibility of the government. We always took pride in the stability of our government, and it is not just the absence of political turmoil, law and order but most important of all is the integrity of all the people, the myriad bodies of authorities found at local, state and federal levels. A fickle government is least trusted by those who want to put their money for investment over a long period.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

PSD Scholarship, An Annual Nightmare.

Almost every year without fail we read in the news, especially the Star newspaper highlighting the issue of high achievers not getting scholarships to further their studies overseas. No matter how much adjustments on the way selection of candidates had been made over the years and the announcements by the PM on merit scholarships, this annual problem always get highlighted in this daily.

In the past the question of PSD's method of awarding the scholarship did not attract much attention because those who could afford to send their children overseas for further education did it with their own money, or they had other bodies giving the scholarships. But ever since the costs of overseas education went up astronomically and the opportunity for sponsorships are getting less, the issue has been turned into a political one.

I recalled the days when I had to contend with demands from the MIC on a 10% quota for the Indian community for places in local universities. Their demands were so vocal that the then Vice-Chancellor of University Malaya had to be called to the PM's office to resolve the matter, but fortunately he could rebut the arguments put forward by the MIC on their demands so well that even the PM could do much to make him budge. So was the autonomy enjoyed then by my alma mater.

When I was Director in charge of scholarships in PSD in 1994, there were a few who tried to intefere in our decision of giving the awards but I managed to keep them at bay unlike today. Once I received a note from the DPM and the Minister in PM Dept's office but I gave the feedback as to why the applications were rejected and there were no further query.

But it is so much different now where the PSD had to be put under duress annually whenever an announcement were to be made on the awards of the coveted overseas scholarships. There has to be a stop to all this and politicians should not be allowed to hold the PSD to ransom and meddle with administrative decisions to the minutae. If this goes on, we might as well legislate an Act where in accordance with the Federal Constitution we should define what scholarships are meant for whom and should not be used as a political trade-offs to earn political mileage.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

In Denial Syndrome

When I came across the Star's headline on Friday 28 May 2010, I thought what Idris Jala said at the KL Convention Centre is a wake-up call for the Nation when he said if nothing is done to close the budget deficit the country would end up like another Greece by the year 2019. What shocked the people is on the very same day the PM was asked to comment on the revelation, he stated that it is just a projection.

What sheer nonsense is happening in this country whereby the PM is downplaying the findings of his own Minister who is obviously bent on saving the country from bankruptcy but the stark forebodings seemed to be ignored more or less by his numero uno. This is a sheer example of the PM being in-denial of the truth.

Idris Jala is a technocrat and he does not politicise the hard facts, but not his boss, and it would not be long that his famous labs which are aimed at turning the country around would be redundant. The scenario could be somewhat be compared to the Roman Emperor who fiddled while Rome was burning. Poor Idris Jala, now his credibility as the Minister in charge of the GTP is in question. Being a raw Member of the administration he thought what he did was the right thing, perhaps he forgot to abide by the other maxim, that is it should be revealed at the right time and at the right place.

Now we can expect the uproar amongst public in response to the coming crunch which would be likely to be translated into votes for the next GE. Little wonder that the foreign PR consultant had been hired to deal with such eventualities where damage control mode now is in operation. We will see what happens after this.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Getting Past The Gatekeeper

On Tuesday 18 May 2010 I managed to keep an appointment with The Director of the Institute of Respiratory Medicine of HKL which is situated just next to the Jalan Pahang interchange. I began to see this specialist more than ten years ago upon my return from attending a senior administrative course at LBS in London when I complained of chest pains.

It was my officer who suggested that I see this specialist because he was acquainted with both husband and wife when he was in the Health Ministry and I consented. It was quite a breeze then to fix the appointment because I was still a serving officer and this specialist doctor was a junior specialist.

Although I had been a patient but my file is not that active and the last visit was less than two years ago. So when I phoned up to make an appointment to see the top gun in that place, there were many questions asked and I almost abandoned the hope of seeing the doctor.

Since I am now a pensioner, the gatekeeper being unfamiliar with my name as the patient gave many excuses so that I just go and see other doctors there although it was not directly suggested. But I insisted that the doctor knows me as I had been treated a few times over a period of time way back when I was still in service.

It was only after mentioning the name of my former officer who introduced to me this particular specialist that I managed to make the appointment. The moral of the episode here is when you have retired from service the entitlement to see a specialist will be closely vetted and only the persistent ones gets through the gatekeeper. That is the way of the world.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Ma(i)d Hassle

The problem of getting someone reliable and dependable to help out when you need it most has been a classical theme from a single family unit right up to various sectors in our service industries. I had the experience of a maid whom my son employed when his first child is still an infant, who ran away right under my nose one day while I was dozing off in the living room. When I woke up and realised that my grandson was alone sleeping, it dawned upon me that the maid could be outside and called out for her but to no avail. Only after I saw her sandals missing, I sensed something wrong was happening.

When I asked my wife if she had seen the maid, she too gave me a negative answer. Two weeks later my son told me that the agent informed him that she died of dehydration. Apparently she took refuge at her friend's house and went down with diarrhoea but being too afraid to go and seek medical aid since she had no papers on her, she died probably after losing so much fluids.

Today at about 11.00 a.m. the Maid who stayed with my sister in Seremban to help her looking after my aged father left her house when she had to go to hospital for an appointment.We took this new person after the previous one went home and her replacement had not been able to settle down with her work and we sent her back to the agent. But due to some unavoidable circumstances, we took her back because we had no choice. The haggling between the two countries on how much maids should be paid seemed to have taken a toll on many.

So I had to go along today with my brother to the Police Station to make a report on the missing maid. Fortunately the procedure is simple and straightforward, as we have to submit the report to the authorities responsible for her visa.Since the maid took her passport with her, she could easily claim that her stay here is legal, but once the work visa is cancelled, her stay here is deemed illegal. Now we have to sort out with the Immigration Department and the effort to find a replacement has to start all over again. This is what I mean by a Ma(i)d hassle.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Speedy Recovery Ustaz

On Monday 03 May 2010 I was informed by my former colleague who worked with me during my sojourn in Putrajaya that Ustaz Husin Ahamad who was at one time served with Legal Aid Bureau as the Deputy was in a bad shape after he collapsed when attending a meeting in Malacca. Being a Shar'iah Judge on the Apellate Court he is still serving as Judges serve until the age of 65.

He endeared himself to all who worked with him owing to his cheerful disposition and I wondered how he had to keep his reserve while on the bench. I recalled that he presided on the case of "Harta Sepencarian " when the divorce of Datuk K took place upon him marrying Siti Nurhaliza, that celebrity singer.

I reached his house at 12.45 pm and he had just moved in to Bangi barely six months ago. When I arrived he had just finished the massage session conducted by one of his kin who came all the way from Jeli in Kelantan. When I whispered to him that I came to visit him, he gave me a cry as he could not utter a word. We had been postponing many a time to keep a lunch date and here I managed to see him as a helpless patient whom the doctors said nothing could be done and ask his family to take him home.

It is such a pity to see him in such a condition and fortunately all his family members rallied around him to help him to recover. I supplicate to ALLAH S.W.T. that Ustaz Husin will be able to recover speedily, IshaALLAH.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Class of '64 - Pulau Ketam Reunion

The pictures above showed our Class of '64 Reunion in Pulau Ketam which took place at one seafood restaurant on the island on the evening of Saturday 24 April, 2010. The picture at the bottom is the bus tour of Westport in Pulau Indah, followed by the trip to Pulau Ketam in the Marine Department launch and then the dinner.

My colleague, Hank had a detailed report on this same subject in his blog " Birdhouse", and I am just fitting in where he left. This class reunion was following the last one held in 2006, when our esteemed colleague Tan Sri Gnanalingam suggested a cruise. So as usual Hank got things organised late last year and we all agreed on the date. I recalled TSG said that he wanted to see how many of us would still be around, and though only 10 of us could make it this time, 6 others had to be absent for many reasons known to themselves.

This time around we were shown the living example of how a port is managed and the person who started it all is none other than Tan Sri Gnanalingam. It is not entirely a single person's achievement, but by his own admission, the success of running a port depended a lot on all his workers from the security to the crane operators. But without his leadership and entrepreuneurship, the port would not have been born. It is a manifestation of how perseverance and risk-taking could be the vital ingredients to such a colossal undertaking.

We ended the day with a dinner of seafood which we all relished. The memorable reunion reflected our lasting bonds of comradeship true to the College's motto, " Serve to Lead ". Thank you TSG and to Hank, for making it happened.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lekas, Lokeh or Lekeh

I had written earlier about Lekas Highway as shown above and found it quite a pleasant experience driving along it. Although the journey from my house is longer, about 91 kilometres to reach my sister's house in Taman Sri Telawi in Paroi, but the time taken is the same if I take the PLUS highway on a normal weekday.

The term "lokeh" is the Negri dialect for "Lekas" and from my observation, it is not faster to take this highway as compared to the PLUS highway. So probably the way I see it being underutilised would one day make it "Lekeh" meaning insignificant or being looked down upon, since I found very few vehicles using it. One of the reasons for this is perhaps the entry points to join the highway is not convenient or confusing to many drivers, especially those who are from the north going south. I suppose the concession holders found it hard to make ends meet and thus had insufficient funds for promotion.

If the traffic on Lekas is not going to pick up within a reasonable time, it could suffer the same fate as Seremban-PD highway where the government had to take over the operations from the previous concession holder.If that were to happen, then my coining of the term "Lekeh Highway" would be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Twin Pillars of Rukunegara

On tuesday 13 April 2010 I came across in a leading Malay daily about two of the principal ingredients of Rukunegara, namely the "Supremacy of the Constitution" and "Rule of Law". In Malay it is " Keluhuran Perlembagaan" and " Kedaulatan Undang Undang". The first was related to the speech of the Sultan of Selangor during the opening of the new term of the Selangor StateAssembly and the second was an article written by Prof. Emeritus Khoo Kay Kim.

By coincidence I touched on both in my earlier postings with regard to the Federal Constitution and "due process". But what is of interest to me is the call made by the Sultan in his speech is that all citizens in the State should understand the provisions in the Constitution so that no parties make excessive demands beyond what is provided for by the Constitution. And he urged the politicians to explain to their constituents the meaning of the salient provisions relating to their rights and obligations as citizens . More importantly he called for more focus in delivering service to the people and lessen the emphasis on politicking.

The problem with most of the State Assemblymen is that they themselves are probably in need of being tutored on what is in the Federal Constitution before they can convey the same to their constituents. And even the MB once called for a revival of local elections when there was a repeal of the Local Council Election laws to boot, which could mean he did not consult the State Legal Adviser before making the proposal. Being an MP at federal level also, he should know where to forward such a proposal if ever he wanted to revive it. So probably in the not too distant future the first criteria before any person could be nominated for election is that he or she must pass a test on the Federal Constitution. This is not wishful thinking but out of sheer necessity, judging from many of the statements coming out from politicians at State and Federal level which reflects their ignorance.

The article by Prof. Khoo is more dissecting, where he suggested that the citizens especially the younger generation should be educated on the meaning and implications of the Constitution so that not only they know of the limitations and their rights as citizens but also for those who enforce the laws do not exceed their powers. No matter how well the laws are framed, but there must be a human touch to it where discretion should be exercised and not merely apply the law to the letter. This is where integrity is a vital requirement for all law enforcers so that citizens can have confidence that their rights are not being trampled upon.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Impregnable Fortress, Bukit Aman.

If one were to visit Bukit Aman for some reason, it is tightly guarded in terms of security like an impregnable fortress where one is not allowed to drive into the compound and the walk is quite far and steep. But that is only for the visitors who need to appeal on say the traffic summonses like I did more than seven years back.

From what has been raised in Parliament by the leader of the opposition recently, it seemed the proverbial impregnable fortress has been breached by some erstwhile 'enemy' of the State which is rather embarrassing for the Home Minister and the IGP and their responses appears rather unconvincing. I would have thought when it was uncovered in 2008, such a serious lapse of our most strategic spot in the country would have been dealt with utmost urgency and those responsible should have been penalised accordingly.

During the period of Emergency, our security personnel were trained to ensure that there should never be any compromise on the safety of our people and property against sabotage by the enemy, and even our government officers were required to attend courses conducted by the Government Security Office on how to detect breaches of security and the steps to be taken to prevent confidential material from falling into the hands of the enemy.

However with the advent of the new millennium we have descended into a period of laxity and the idea of being infiltrated by the 'enemy' had been absent. This is rather dangerous because 'threat to our security' comes in many form and worst of all the lure of money to our own people can compromise our internal security. The people should be vigilant at all times and our intelligence services must be always proactive and prevent our secrets from being leaked out because it will spell disaster for our future. Heads must roll if negligence is proven, otherwise our PM's talk in Washington about how we defeated the Communists would be laughed at by the Americans when they come to know how easy it is to penetrate our Police records by foreign sub-contractors doing what seemed to be a job that could be done by our own local boys.

Pulau Redang, Terengganu's Jewel in the Crown

The picture above is only one of the many hotels and resorts which dotted the Redang Island white sandy beaches, notwithstanding some budget chalets for the less privileged or adventurous visitors to the Jewel in Terengganu's crown.

The recent announcement by the Mentri Besar that only 5 - star ratings accommodation would be allowed to be developed on the island in future, had invited unhappy comments from certain quarters who perhaps had never been on the island. I only stayed at the only 5-star resort available more than a decade ago in conjunction with Federal Heads of Department Meeting, and to be frank I found the place rather dull, maybe of much interest for those who love snorkeling and diving off the waters around the island, but I did not fall into that category.

In fact I learned that although it was declared as one of the protected marine parks off the coast of Terengganu, a lot of undersea marine life had been destroyed probably by uncontrollable development which took place on the island and also lack of enforcement of the marine park by-laws and mostly by those irresponsible divers in search of marine life to be sold for profit.

The announcement by the MB does not contribute much to ensure the preservation of marine life surrounding the island because pollution is one of the major factor which have killed the corals and reefs which at one time form the basic infrastructure to support the rich diversity of marine life surrounding the island.

Once I heard a scathing remark from one of the owners of the resort there how the politicians of Terengganu are oblivious to the damage that was caused by their lack of concern in preserving the island for future generations and just thinking of dollars and cents.

Similarly at one function which I attended where the former Sultan was the host, he spoke of how he told the Premier that the bounty which ALLAH S.W.T. had bestowed on Terengganu with the discovery of oil and gas was to benefit its people who had lived in poverty all along and as such it was befitting that the new found wealth should be enjoyed by all.

However, if one were to visit places like Kuala Kemaman and other fishing villages straddling its coastline, the wisdom which came out of the Ruler's mouth is still waiting to be realised. So now with another Jewel in Terengganu's crown, the words of the former Sultan would still be ringing in many people's ears when ordinary mortals would be prevented from going to Redang island due to its declared intention of the State's MB to turn it as an exclusive playground for the rich and the famous.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Whither our MSC on the PM's US Visit.

It is interesting to note that PM's visit to the USA includes a session organised by a think thank where he is going to speak on the Malayan Emergency as how we defeated the communists who fought against the British after the Second World War and then against the Federation of Malaya on the attainment of Merdeka in 1957.

I recalled reading somewhere when our Finance Minister who went to the US on a mission trying to convince a group of Congressman for their support to provide us a much needed inflow of their capital during the difficult years of stagflation, also used the same method of " selling our success in defeating the Communists " to attract their attention when they seemed to be disinterested in the session perhaps due to his inability to give an impressive public lecture on the state of our Nation.

So this time not only the PM will speak, but also the former IGP, Tun Haniff Omar and the former Chief of the Armed Forces, Gen. Hashim Mohamad Ali . I am not sure who would form the audience, but if our past performances in trying to woo investors to our country, this approach is already outmoded. We are no more in the Cold War mode and the past experiences of our success fighting against the communists is probably not getting us anywhere. I do not know who are the people who advised the PM on this score, because we should not be glorifying about the past but what would be our strengths that would be attractive for their investors especially in the age of the digital economy. I would have thought the PM should bring along people who are knowledgeable about our strengths in the provision of infrastructure for the promotion of cyberworld industry and not some have beens who should be sitting at home and enjoy the company of their grandchildren.

Perhaps this is a reflection of our foreign service people in Washington whose quality is wanting in terms of providing the appropriate advice as what should have the focus of our PM's visit. What we see is nothing but the spin doctor's usual drum beating of the pending meeting between the US President and the PM. In actual fact the real influence in dealing with foreign policy is the Congress and Senate who calls the shot and not the President. Meeting the President is only a public relations exercise and we could have been poorer by tens of millions in taxpayers money for such frills. That is why the other leaders of Asean are not interested to waste such precious money just to be on the White House lawn for a brief appearance with the US President.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Due Process

The term "due process" is usually used when the law has to take its course in bringing the accused to court and given a trial, and for those who had been a public servant involved in administration whether at local government level, district, State or Federal would have at least have been familiar with what is known as due process especially when an offence has been committed by a person directly or indirectly either as property owner or ordinary citizen when there is a breach of the law in the form of subsidiary legislations , State enactments or Acts of Parliament.

Often times we hear the phrase " Ignorance of the law is no excuse" which means all citizens are presumed to know the law related to the commission of the offence and when the authority issue a compound or when a summons to appear in court is served, one cannot plead ignorance by uttering " I am not aware of it" because it is presumed that everyone have been duly informed by publication of the government gazette.Nowadays I am not sure that people knows what a government gazette looks like, especially those who have no exposure to government administration. During my early days in government service I looked forward to see the government gazette when it was circulated by the office in order to know what was new in there, especially who were confirmed after finishing their probationary period as MCS officers because in determining one's seniority was not only the date of appointment but also more importantly the date of confirmation. Recently there was a lot of fuss about a woman from Perak who was found guilty for breaching the Shariah law enacted in the State of Pahang, was spared the whip and the sentence commuted to doing community service, after due process of the law had taken place, because an appeal was made as provided for by the State Enactment.

Thus whether the outcome of the due process of the law is accepted by everyone or not is immaterial, as long as the steps have been followed in accordance with the provisions of the law. In civil courts, the term " natural justice" do crop up whenever a person have been given the opportunity of being heard. This is also closely related to the term "due process" because if the principle is not observed by the prosecution, a flaw exists in the procedure and shall jeopardise the case before the court.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Federal Constitution

Today I came across a report about the Federal Constitution being given free to some individuals from an ethnic based political party as a reminder on what the supreme law of the land says about matters pertaining to the special position of the Malays and other provisions touching on the Malay Language and Malay Rulers. What seemed to be a document which contains a language which requires a certain legal skill to explain in depth about its ramifications is now being used as a means of expressing a group of Malay NGO's unhappiness of how others should view the historic antecedents of the Federal Constitution before it came into being.

In fact I have my doubts whether the people who are doing this could really understand the meaning of the legalese terminologies without the help of Constitutional Law lecturers like Prof. Shad Farouqi from the UiTM in Shah Alam. To make others aware of the country's history is not by giving them the Federal Constitution but suffice to give them any book on the short history of Malaysia.

When I was a student at University of Malaya more than 33 years ago, it took no less than the Solicitor-General who was then Dato' Salleh Abas ( now Tun ) to give us the lectures on the subject " Constitution of Malaysia ". From what he told us, one must not only be able to understand its literal meaning but more importantly the " spirit " behind the provisions. After having been through the mill, so to speak and having worked with many legal advisors in my career in government and administering the provisions of the law, only then I realised the wisdom of his lectures.

I think those who themselves lack the depth on the knowledge about the Federal Constitution should be the first to be taught about the meaning and spirit of the Constitution before giving it free and not for the right purpose. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones, as the saying goes.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

On the Learning Curve

I have been attending classes on every saturday mornings in Kota Damansara together with my wife and daughter trying to pick up the Arabic language. I had a very limited exposure in learning the language, apart from reciting the Al-Quran and saying my prayers in Arabic during the five times a day solat, though I know a bit of the meaning through the translation but acquiring the ability to write simple sentences in Arabic, one has to be on a learning curve.

Although I found learning the language at this stage of my life is challenging but since I have the company of wife and daughter in learning so I might as well carry on. My colleague, Dato' Ishak Ibrahim have been learning Arabic for the past one year, but the approach taken is more focussed on mastering the grammar first rather than vocabulary. I prefer the approach taken by the Academy of Arabic Language whereby one is exposed to vocabulary and pick up the grammar as we go along. Now whenever I read the Al-Quran, some of the words in the verses seemed familiar and this motivates me to keep on to be on the learning curve.

May ALLAH S.W.T. gives me the perseverance to continue as far as I could on the learning curve. InshaALLAH.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Al-Fatehah to My Mak Teh

I had been expecting the inevitable for some time since I visited Mak Teh last at the University Malaya Medical Centre slightly less than 3 weeks ago where she lay on the hospital bed for I guess for the umphteenth time and this time and cousin Zakiah said that she had a mild stroke and she was not able to talk nor recognise anyone, that she would bid us farewell for " Alam Barzakh ".

When Mona phoned me one day after she came back from her German trip and paid a visit for her usual nursing routine she felt rather awkward when Mak Teh was reluctant to let her go her hand and cried. Mona had been attending to her for some time and tried her best to manage her bedridden situation. She had been weakened by the numerous blood tranfusions that she had been on for several months and the last visit for the blood transfusion was supposed to be on the morning of 22 March 2010 when she passed away.

Mak Teh as she's known to all her nephews and nieces had been a caring and wonderful woman and lived to a ripe age of 91, just a year older than my father. I remembered she would always remind us to complete the recitation of the Al-Quran and she was responsible for me continuing my lessons at Pondok Rasah where the late Tuan Haji Mohamad Noor, the brother of the Mufti Negeri then was teaching. We all adored her and she became the repository of all the stories about Tok Ungku ( Tuanku Tambusai)whenever the rest wanted to know more,especially Ayahsu Ghazali who began compiling the family tree more than 8 years ago.

Al-Fathehah and may her soul be blessed and placed amongst the pious, Amin!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Travelling on LEKAS Highway

Last night I was searching for the advertisement which appeared in a local daily on 05 March 2010 in conjunction with the official opening of Lebuhraya Kajang Seremban or E 21. Fortunately that page had not been turned into trash since Nasimah always wants to keep the week's newspapers in order for her to catch up on reading them.

So today I decided to take the LEKAS highway from Seremban after sending my father back to Seremban after his follow-up with the urologist in Ampang Specialist Hospital yesterday, Monday 08 March.It's not that I had not been on this highway before, but it ended only at Mantin if one is travelling from KL. Since I was curious where is the current exit/entry point nearest to Seremban, I called the toll free number and enquired where to take the entry if I were coming from Paroi.I was told to go towards Seremban-Jelebu road from Ampangan and from the junction where the traffic lights is situated on the Y-junction, its about 3-4 kilometres.

So after a short rest at my sister's house in Taman Sri Telawi, I took a short-cut to the Seremban-Jelebu road through Kampong Tok Dagang, and to my surprise the entry to LEKAS highway is so near the junction at what used to be a small bridge. It was fortunate that I did not take a much longer route as suggested by the person on the toll-free number.It is a completely new upgraded road at the interchange and as I took the ramp entering the highway, hardly there was no other traffic. It is a beautiful scenery with the hills on either side of the highway and it is a real pleasure to drive on this new stretch. Once the interchange at Simpang Paroi is completed, it is very close to the Taman where my sister's house is. I hope LEKAS highway will provide an alternative route for those who go back to Kuala Pilah and Seremban, other than the PLUS highway.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Oh What a Relief !

What a relief ! No it is not about the current spell due to El Nino where the temperatures around the country is way above the normal readings and drought is experienced especially in the northern part of the Peninsular.

On thursday 04 March I went to my bank in Section 14 Petaling Jaya to withdraw cash for my monthly expenses as I do not believe in using the automated machine although I am issued with the card. As usual I always wait for the branch to open because parking is at a premium there if you come when the doors to the main lobby are opened. Being the first customer, my number was called immediately and I went to the counter with Nasimah who accompanied me to withdraw some money too.

After completing the transaction Nasimah and I went to the Lembaga Zakat Selangor's office and then to the bookshop on the same row as the bank. Then we headed for home but along the way we decided to go to Kelana Mall in Kelana Jaya because Nasimah wanted to mend the broken arm on the frame of her multi-focal spectacles. After that we had something to eat at Atiqah Cafe at the mall and then only drove back home.

That afternoon we went to Kota Damansara to my sister-in-law's house and as I was having tea a received a call from the bank teller asking me about the morning's transaction. He politely asked me to check whether I received more money than what it should be and I answered him that as far as I could remember as I counted it in front of him, the amount was correct but I did raise a query why the money counter showed a higher number. Either I could not figure out his reply or he did not hear me properly and let it pass by. Anyway he asked me to double check once I got home. While driving home from Kota Damansara, another person from the bank called my hand phone and I asked Nasimah to reply and she said we are still on the way home.

I went straight to check the money once I was home and lo and behold, there was indeed an extra amount that I received from the teller that morning. So I called the bank and the lady was grateful and told me that the bank teller would come to collect the excess money after maghrib prayer. I waited till after Isha' prayer for Faizal to come and when he arrived with another friend, it was a face of great relief. Fortunately I have not spent a single sen yet and the amount could still be reconciled. Oh what a relief especially so for Faizal!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Ops Sikap or Ops Salam

During each festive season the public is reminded of 'Ops Sikap' launched by the authorities namely the PDRM, Road Transport and Road Safety Department to bring down the number of fatalities due to accidents on Malaysian highways and roads.

Many quarters had questioned the effectiveness of such operations and it seemed somewhat like an exercise in futility. Nevertheless the Police insisted that such an operation is necessary to reduce road fatalities.Just a few days before its launch for the Chinese New Year 2010,a senior Police Officer died in an accident near Bukit Tagar, Rawang on the southbound lane of the North-South highway. After the launch a whole family perished near Senawang, Seremban. These senseless loss of precious lives reflect the seriousness of the situation and it means a lot more have to be done to make our highways safer for road users.

When the Malaysian Highway Authority was first created before the privatisation of the North-South Highway, a special Police unit was attached to the quasi-government body to patrol the whole stretch of the North-South Highway, but it was disbanded when PLUS took over the management of the operations from toll-collections to maintenance and construction.

It would be a good idea to reintroduce the special unit of Police Highway Patrol again to ensure that no violations such as indiscriminate parking of heavy vehicles on emergency lanes does not happen, as in the two tragic accidents mentioned here were caused by Trailer lorries left parked on the emergency lanes.

I think the name 'Ops Sikap' should be changed to 'Ops Salam' to reflect the objective is to ensure safety of road users and the term 'Salam' is also to denote 'Peace'. The senseless loss of lives on our roads must be tackled in a holistic angle and let peace prevail on our Nation's Highways.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Renewing Old Ties

Last Saturday evening of 30 January 2010 I was in Seremban. The timing had to do with fetching my father for his follow-up appointment with the urologist at Ampang Puteri Hospital slated for Monday 01 February and using the opportunity to attend a wedding invitation at the Dewan Majlis Perbandaran Seremban for the reception of Riduan's daughter.

I went to Masjid Negeri for the solat maghrib first and then drove to the venue of the function which was just nearby. At the Mosque I met someone whom I realised later was going to the same function and he happened to be the husband of a distant relative and she was also my classmate in KGV Seremban.

I was one of the early guests to arrive and I did not see any familiar faces apart from the host. Since Nasimah did not come with me for the function, I had to wait for some familiar faces before sitting down at one of the tables. Then I saw Zakiah, my cousin, with her husband Wan Nasir. Zakiah was the one who phoned me earlier informing me that she was forwarding Riduan's invitation card. So there we were standing near the aisle leading to the dais greeting the guests whom we knew. Of course some of the relatives could not recall my name and I had to remind them. Such was the outcome of such an event where we renew the old ties.

The whole evening went like trying to place who's who, especially those whom I had not met for more than two decades or more. Thank You Riduan @ Mohd. Faksi.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An invitation from Mohd. Faksi

I have not been posting anything since my last about the passing away of a dear friend, Yakob. Recently I attended a Tahlil for OP Shuhud who passed away in London due to cancer too. I received the short message from OP Azudin who forwarded the message which he received from a close family member of Allahyarham Shuhud.

When the time comes, one has to answer the call not a second too soon or a second too late. It reminds me how short life can be and what have I prepared for my turn. Sometimes we forget that we too could be next. That is why we should always be reminded of our time.

I had been quite busy for the past several weeks in fetching my father from Seremban for his appointment with the specialist hospital in Ampang Puteri. This weekend I shall be going again to Seremban. On saturday night there is also a wedding function of my childhood friend's daughter at the Majlis Perbandaran Seremban Hall smack in the centre of town. So I hope to see many friends and relatives whom I have not met for quite sometime. The invitation is actually from my second cousin whom I called Riduan, not knowing his real name until I saw the card. His real name is Mohamad Faksi bin Sheikh Husin.If not for the card I thought his name is Riduan all along.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Passing Away of the Good Samaritan

On Sunday 03 January 2010 I received the sad news that Yakob Scholer had passed away at 1542 hrs local Malaysian time and approximately 0842 hrs in Germany. Innalillahi Wainnailaihi Rojiun.

By sheer coincidence an article on him appeared in the Starmag of the daily newspaper, The Sunday Star on page 7 of the Starmag. It was something like an obituary on him.

Al- Fatehah and May ALLAH S.W.T. place his soul amongst the pious.