Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Going Back in Time to 1957

The New Straits Times had a novel idea of republishing (or was it photostating) The Straits Times of 1957. I do not know how long this has been going on but I caught the first one in yesterday's (28 August) issue which carried the old ST issue of 28 August 1957. It was an eye opener to say the least.

Most of the news were about the impending Merdeka celebration. But among the other items that caught my eyes were the following:

1. The advertisement for "Craven A' cigarettes with the tag line of "Kind to Your Throat". How can smoking be kind to your throat one would wonder?
2. There were advertisements for products which are still around today such as: Listerine, Brand's Essence of Chicken, Parker pens, Nespray Milk, F&N, and Bata and products that have ceased to be around such as BOAC airlines, Whiteaways Stores, Verkade biscuits.
3. There was a report that goes like this - "A Singapore judge, Mr. Choor Singh, yesterday told K. Suppiah, A National Serviceman, not to tell him a "cock and bull" story". The judge sure is telling it straight to the accused.
4. The first prize for the "Social Welfare Lottery" was $350,000.00, a lot of of money in those days.

There are of course other news items worth reading such as the make up of the first Malayan Cabinet which comprise 12 ministers.

A commendable effort by the NST.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Great Idea

A group of friends from my High School community came up with the idea of visiting the graves of our friends who have left us. I thought that was fantastic idea, so did a few of our other friends. So they are now taking the necessary steps to get this going. Doing this sort of work is never easy. We need enthusiastic people to work with. My recent experience of organising a Reunion for my college mates was pleasant only because the group were all equally committed to make it a success. That made it fun, despite the hard work.

On Sunday, 2 September we planned to meet in Cheras and visit the grave of the late Sdra. Anuar Johari. I think he had leukemia. Then we will convoy to Melaka to meet up with friends in Melaka and also visit the graves of the late Sdra Yusof Sulaiman and the late Mazlan Yassin. Both died of heart attacks.

I will only join them in Melaka as I plan to visit the graves of my parents that same weekend. Hopefully as many people as possible will join us. More important I am hopeful all will contribute generously to the collection which we are having so that we can pass the money to the families of our late friends.

I am looking forward to meeting up with old friends and also doing something worthwhile.

Kudos to Hj Wilmie and friends.

A Week to 50th Birthday

In exactly one week Malaysia will celebrating its 50th birthday. Technically, this may not be correct as Malaysia was only born in 1963, before that it was Malaya, but lets not be picky.

For a person, 50 years is "old". In one year, I'll be 50 and most people will consider that old and they may not be too far off. After all, how many of us will live up to 100 years old. Muslims consider 63 as the age of man. The Prophet s.a.w. lived up to that age. So reaching 50 for a man would mean he would have lived more than half of his expected life.

Not so for a nation though. A nation of 50 years of age is considered an infant still. So, how has infant Malaysia performed? To me, viewed from any perspective, Malaysia has performed rather well. Given the peculiar nature of its populace, with its diverse racial, religious and cultural backgrounds, Malaysia still managed to steer itself clear of inter groups tensions, except once. For this alone, everyone deserves a pat on the back. Arising from this success, other successes followed. Eradication (or rather drastic reduction) of poverty, better health service, access to education, higher quality of life and the likes were the rewards to the population.

God's Kindness is also in abundance. There are lots of natural resources, fertile land, sufficient rain, enough sunshine. As if tin was not enough God gave us oil. And more importantly, we were not subjected to major disasters. The annual floods in the East Coast cannot be considered a disaster since the people will go out in their best dresses during the flood season as if to celebrate the floods. It is now not uncommon to hear people "complain" about the absence of the annual floods.

With all going for Malaysia, why should people complain? Is it just for the sake of complaining? After all, people are never satisfied and will never be fully satisfied. That's the nature of Man. "They are forever ungrateful", some would say. But, feeling grateful should not preclude me from criticising, I would say. If I know things can be better why should I be satisfied with whatever I have now?. If I see wasteful activities, why should I keep quiet? Is not wastage a sign of ungratefulness in the eyes of God? How can I pretend as if everything is alright when I know for a fact they are not?

How do I reconcile the following?
> There are still many poor people working hard trying to make ends meet while the rich are fighting to get richer, sometimes at the expense of the powerless poor.
> Subsidies are given to the rich just because they are of a particular race or with a particular political leaning. Shouldn't help be given to the needy regardless of race or political preference? Why should a Bumiputra buying a RM2 million bungalow be entitled to a subsidy? All housing subsidies should be given to purchasers of low cost houses only so that these houses are really low cost but of certain quality. Just imagine, a 10% discount on a RM2 million bungalow is equal to 4 free low cost houses. The 10% saved by the multi millionaire Bumiputra will be used to buy Italian furniture while the 4 low cost houses can protect 4 needy families from the perils of nature. Who do you think will value the subsidy more?
> The government is spending lots of money on development but are the amount paid justified? Nobody will complain about expenses for as long as they are "value for money". How else do you explain the project subsidies and bail outs. Most of the time, the intention of the projects are noble indeed. It is only the implementation stinks. It is only the contractors that benefits. Once the project fails, the government (meaning all of us) takes over the burden. Examples, too many to enumerate.
> Contracts are given to specific groups. Quite okay as long as they are not over priced and everyone is given a fair chance. More importantly, those given the contracts should be capable of delivering what they promised.
> Have a fair election. Fair in all respects. Lets give everyone a shot at leading the nation. Not that we want to change the government unnecessarily, after all, we need some kind of stability and continuity. We just want to ensure those in power know that their positions are only safe if they perform and they do not deviate from their oaths. Is that too much to ask?

There are a few more but lets not dampen the achievements with too much complaints. As I said earlier, we have done well by almost any standards but it could have been better, much better, in fact.

As we approach 50 (both Malaysia and me) let us strive to better ourselves. Let us offer our thanks to God Almighty for all that have been blessed upon us. Let us thank our forefathers for their foresights and forgive them for their shortcomings. Let us be true to ourselves, correct our mistakes and work together as Malaysians. A man's life is too short for us to destroy a Nation.

Happy 50th birthday Malaysia.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Another Busy Weekend

I thought I'd be able to rest after the Reunion weekend but I was wrong. Friday was the last day of school so the kids have started becoming restless. "Lets have an outing" they say. "Not this time" I said. "I'm tied up with work", I continued. "Ayah nie asyik kerja jer", Aizat said. He is the only one who dare to come up with these kind of remarks.

I'm really tied up. I've got a price negotiation with the Dept. on Monday. Then there will be Consortium meeting on Tuesday. Hopefully, I'll be free on Wednesday onwards. If so, I can take a short break, but I've got to come back by Saturday. Ada kursus AJK Masjid organised by MAIS. Got to attend this, no choice. Dato' Nazir has forced me into it. Well these are for the coming week. I'm supposed to write about last weekend.

On Saturday morning I decided to take the whole family out for breakfast. Nasi lemak, bawah pokok, near my house. The stall is operated by a Haji from Melaka. Typical Melakan. If you listen to what he says you would not want to patronize his stall. All the four letter words can be heard from him. But, he serves good nasi lemak. After that we decided to visit my wife's step mother. After the death of my father in law a couple of years ago our visits to their house in Section 16 PJ are far in between. She is a nice lady despite her favoring her children more often than not. But how can we fault her.

After Zohor, we went to a friend's house in Shah Alam. A High School colleague who I have managed to keep in touch all these years. He is having a doa selamat. I brought the whole family along. He was happy to see us. Both he and his wife are good cooks and they make mean "kuih samperit". Every year I will buy about RM6k to RM7k worth of kuih samperit from him. I have turned it into a "must give" gift to the Dept.

I decided to stay home on Saturday night catching up on my readings. There were some EPL games on TV but I decided to skip them as MU was not playing until Sunday. Dinner was also very light. Just had tau fu fah.

On Sunday, I decided to return to bed after Subuh and finally got up around 9:00am. There are a few things to do today. At 12:00 another friend had aqiqah for his grandchildren in Sentul at 12:00 noon. Left home a few minutes before 12 noon. The kids decided to do their own thing. Kak Long took them out. Must be to some shopping centers. I lost my way in Sentul and only reached the house at around 1:30. Just in time for doa after doa selamat.

At night there was a wedding reception at KGPA. I had to go to this fully dressed in baju Melayu. It was a good reception, tastefully done. The food was good. Reached home around 11:00pm. MU lost the derby. They really started badly this season despite the promises of better things. The only consolation is that they have been in good form and controlling all their games that they played so far. I guess the time will come when they start winning again.

So another busy weekend.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The School Did Well

I received an sms from the Principal of SMK Sri Permata yesterday telling me that they managed to collect more than RM100k in the recently conducted Jogathon. That's good, real good. Their target was RM60k. Everybody worked hard, the teachers, students, PIBG, in fact, everybody. The Principal, Mr Ong and Mr Heng, the Chairman of the Jogathon Committee worked real hard in this. The teachers were also very motivated to see the success of this event.

In the end, the results did not come as a surprise. It just shows that if we want something badly, we can achieve it. My only wish is that the Education department would be a bit more flexible with their rulings on collection of funds. We could have performed much better if we were given a bit more leeway in asking the students to do more. After all, these are 16 and 17 year olds who are very mature and full of ideas.

With this success, we hope to see the roof to cover the assembly area become a reality after the SPM exams later in the year. It is definitely long overdue.

Syabas SMK Sri Permata

Friday, August 17, 2007

The School Holidays is here

Today is the last day of school for the third term. Starting from tomorrow school will be closed for one week. That would be a relief for my wife as she do not need to send kids to school and collect them after that. But they will be home most of the time and they can be more than a handful.

Somebody enquired if we were going for a break somewhere. I just kept quiet and pretend that I did not hear what was said. I don't think I can spare any time next week. There are 2 meetings scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. Thereafter, I was thinking of going to visit some of the Immigration offices up north, just to show my face. I was thinking of going back to Melaka for the weekend of 25 August but I just received a letter today asking me to attend a course for mosque Committees organized by JAIS. There goes my weekend.

Maybe I should send the kids to balik kampong, but it would be a burden to their grandma. Well lets just see what happens.

Good nite.

p/s: Our top badminton pair suffered a heartbreaking loss in the quarter finals of the World Badminton Championships a few hours ago. They put up a good fight but I thought they had their chances. It was a tough loss.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Oh, What a Weekend

The weekend of 11 and 12 August 2007 must be one of the most hectic for me in recent times. It all started the week before. First, there was my Company's Board Meeting on Friday 10 August. Things went on pretty fine despite the threat of some fireworks before that.

In the afternoon I had to go to my son's school to see their final preparation for the Jogathon on Saturday which I'm unable to attend. When I reached the school, the teachers were busy counting the money they had collected. Everyone looked so excited as apparently they had surpassed their RM60k target by quite a bit. I left around 7:00pm to pick up my daughter from her Kumon class. After Maghrib, I had to go to Giant to buy some things to be brought to the Reunion. By the time we finished dinner and bought the stuff it was almost 10:00pm. We left the house shortly after that and reached Selesa almost 11:00pm.

Three other families checked in early with us. After sending the wife and kids to our apartment, I went back to meet up with Ruslan, Shukri and Anwar. We played cards, "400", until almost 2:30pm.

Saturday started rather slowly. Ruslan's wife, Mawa, prepared a good breakfast for all of us. We had planned to play some table tennis in the morning but had to abandon our plans and started preparing for the big check-in. I had to return to town to pick up my office projector and buy some mineral water. The rest were busy finalising the packing of the goodie bags, checking rooms and others. By mid morning we started receiving calls from friends who were making their way up to Selesa. Among the non-Committee members, Shariff was the first to arrive and he started helping out. The registration process, as we had expected, could cause some problems. We had wanted to do it outside the Reception area but that privilege was given to another group which had a bigger number.

I thought the whole registration process went very smoothly, thanks to Fuzi and her would-be doctor daughter, Hasnor. There were generous amount of goodies, definitely worth more than the RM50.00 paid per head. The scenes at the registration counter were mostly fun but at times emotion filled. Friends who have not seen each other for more than 2 decades definitely have a lot of things to talk about. Some did not even know where to start, themselves, their spouses, their children or careers. Witnessing these happy scenes make all the hard work the Committee had put in worthwhile, and we haven't even started!!

Most of our friends had arrived by 1:00pm. The biggest entourage was definitely Datin Norsiah's and her 5 well built children. My son, Afiq, who was so fired up for the futsal game, told me we definitely had no chance after seeing Datin's sons. After checking-in they were told to assemble again by 2:30pm for the "Ice breaking" session. Shukri, Asmah, and Rohani handled the session very well. In no time, we were all put at ease for the rest of the program. Afternoon tea was prepared by Anwar's wife and augmented by Mawa's sandwiches.

After tea and Asar prayers, the telematches and volleyball games were held. ALL games, from the indoor games, quizzes, to the field games were won by the teams from the 75 batch. Not surprising, since they had the biggest contingent, more than 40.

The men later had their maghrib prayers at Selesa's surau. It was small so not all can join the prayers. Shukri led the prayers while Syed led the doa selamat later. At least some members of the 76 batch managed to make themselves useful.

By now its time for the big one, the Grand Dinner, which was supposed to be the highlight of the Reunion. I must say, I had the jitters. We wanted this to be just right, if not perfect. After all, we worked hard to prepare for it. The fact that almost all of us were on time for dinner showed that they were looking forward for this. We had purposely planned for the afternoon sessions so that all "small talk" would have been completed by the time we have our dinner. But this was not to be the case. To be fair, we cannot expect over 2 decades of stories to be completed in 2 or 3 hours.

We started the proceedings at around 8:45pm, about 15 minutes later than scheduled. When I and Fuzi took the mikes as MCs for the nights, the mike used by Fuzi started giving problems. I personally tested the mikes extensively in the afternoon at the expense of joining the telematches and volleyball games and they were alright. But, we moved on. The customary speeches were held with Anwar (Organizing Chairman); Tan Sri Yahya (founding father of SIUMSA) and Dato' Fatmi (first president of SIUMSA) giving their pieces of mind. All of them can't keep to the expected time limit. Even Anwar got carried away. This shows, given a mike and a crowd everybody will have something to talk about :-).

By the time we were done with the speeches, it was almost 9:30pm. We are now 30 minutes behind schedule. Before we serve dinner, we played a short video entitled "The Making of Saluki Reunion '07". With the background song of "Semalam Di Malaya" by D'lloyd, it provides a fitting start to the video show that is to come. Dinner was served shortly after and I was told it was good. I can see they had a good spread. I did not managed to eat much. When in these situations I will normally lose my appetite for everything.

About 20 minutes into dinner, we played the main video "Kampongdale". This 40 minute collage of photos was prepared by Hassan. I know it was a lot of hard work, not only getting the photos but also choosing the songs and thinking of the captions. The best thing for me is that the songs chosen were definitely most appropriate to the scenes. I think everyone of us (the ex-Salukis) would have been reminded of our times in Carbondale by these photos. For me, it reminded me of some my best carefree years. No wonder Dato' Fatmi remembered me as "orang yang paling malas belajar". The end of the show was greeted with a big round of applause. That applause is for you, Hassan. We completed the slide presentation with a short tribute to our late colleague, Abd Rahim Othman. This also moved some of us to tears, I was told later.

Hassan and Anwar took over the mikes from me and Fuzi for some simple quizzes about Carbondale and gave away prizes, lots of prizes. More prizes were then given out for the winners of the events held earlier in the day. By the time we finished it was almost midnight. Most of us had to call it a day, a long but eventful day indeed. Some of us continued reminiscing a few hours after that. I had to go back to my room as I had given the keys to my wife earlier.

Sunday started very early. I know it started even earlier for Sle, Mawa, Anwar and wife as they had to prepare breakfast. By the time I arrived at the futsal field at around 7:30, most of us were there. My son, Afiq was so fired up for the futsal game that I had to calm him down. He said he wanted to make up for the volleyball game which he had never played before. I pulled a fast one on everybody as I had bought T-shirts for the 76 batch. The others had not thought about this. Hassan must be sore with me. After all he bought T-shirts for everyone, of course he can buy some for his 75 batch. Dato' Fatmi would have gladly sponsored some, but I purposely did not share my plans. Sorry guys, but I have to beat you at something.

The futsal games were good. It was more competitive than I had expected, especially the performance of the 77 batch. I had expected them to be trashed by 75 and 76 batches but Sle and his gang proved me wrong. Had they had more numbers, they would certainly been a handful. After some tense moments and a lot of help from the Convener, Shukri, Team 76 was crowned champions of Futsal. I played for a few minutes and I had a muscle pull. It was an old injury which never seemed to fully heal. We then had our group photos.

The last event was the jungle trekking. Well, it was not much of a jungle. It was more like a stroll in the park. But the kids had a good time in the stream. I should have stayed in my room but I did not. The additional walk aggravated my injury and I can hardly walk when I got home.

Soon enough it was time to say goodbye. I settled the final bill at Selesa and head home. We stopped in Taman Melati for lunch and by the time I reached home I was almost half dead. After Zohor, I went straight to bed and only woke up for my prayers. Dinner was served in bed as I'm not up to walking. I woke up at 11:00pm to watch Man Utd. held to a 0-0 draw with Reading despite dominating the game fully. Reading even had a man thrown out in the later part of the game.

The weekend ended at 1:00pm for me. It was long but definitely memorable weekend. I wouldn't trade it for anything else. For those who missed this event, well, you don't know what you missed. And you know what, there may be another Reunion at another time, but it will never be the same. As they say the first one is always the best and most memorable.

Thank you everyone for the memories. Lets meet again sometime.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Ramlan had a Massive Heart Attack

Sallam semua,

Last Wednesday, on my way to JB for a short working visit, I received an SMS from a friend (ex-Melaka High School) that another friend, Ramlan Md. Nor just had a attack and is in SJMC ICU. Ramlan whom we called Adik (I do not know why) was also known as Tarzan (also I do not know why) and I were together in High School from from One to Form Five (1971 to 1975).

In the past few years, several of our High School friends had died because of heart attack. Of hand I can remember 2, Yusof Sulaiman and Mazlan something (we had a few Mazlans in High School and I do not want to get the wrong one). Anyway, I was busy the last week so I had no opportunity to visit him but I was kept informed of his condition. Apparently he was transferred from ICU to CCU.

So today, I decided to pay him a visit. I went into SJMC's CCU and started looking for Adik. All the rooms in the CCU were occupied but I did not see him. Apparently a lot of people suffer from heart attacks. All the nurses were busy so I had to wait. Finally a nurse was free and I asked her. She looked in the register and told me that Ramlan has been transferred into the normal ward, Room 216. I was relieved and headed straight to the room. As I walked into Rm 216, I saw a lady lying on a chair besides the bed. On the bed was Ramlan, he was watching TV. A movie, Home Alone (do not know what number) was on. I recognised the bumbling crooks immediately.

I gave my sallam and he seemed well when he replied, his trade mark smile was on. When we started talking, his wife got up. Ramlan told her, "kawan High School". Apparently quite a number of our High School friends have visited him. I'm happy for him and also for my friends who took the trouble to come, some from Melaka. Apparently one of the first to come was "Ibrahim Jagung", on the first day itself, but he only arrived at the hospital at 11:00 pm. "Aku kena hantar jagung dulu Dik sebelum datang sini" he told Ramlan. Before he left, he even told the nurse to take good care of his dear friend. No wonder he has 2 wives.

I chatted with Ramlan for a while and I gathered the following which I want to share with everyone.

1. Ramlan had the attack when he was in Subang Jaya to pick up his wife who worked in one of the colleges.. (They lived in Kajang).
2. He described the pain as follows:
1. Very sharp pain in the back
2. Very thrusting and excruciating pain on the chest
3. Numbness to his left arm
4. Finally he was sweating
3. He knew he had a heart attack because he had some experience with friends before. He has also read about these things. He said once he felt the numbness in his arm he knew he had a heart attack.
4. Though his wife wanted to drive, Ramlan insisted that he should drive to the hospital from the college, I think he said Stamford College, which is not too far from SJMC. He was afraid his wife would panicked and he would be in more stress had he allowed his wife to drive. So he drove even though in pain.
5. When he reached SJMC, he left the car at the porch and asked his wife to park it while he walked (as he said he practically ran) to the Emergency room.
6. He told the everybody that he needed help as he had a heart attack. They put him on the bed and was immediately attended to. Tests were conducted and it was confirmed that he had an attack.
7. By the time his wife returned from parking the car he had been whisked into the ICU to be treated.
8. They put a stent into his main artery which was 100% blocked. He tried to explain some medical procedures but I'm not too inclined to remember.
9. Anyway, he looks okay to me today.

The main points that we should remember are the following:

1. You must KNOW if you had a heart attack. I think somebody posted something on this previously.
2. You must seek treatment IMMEDIATELY. Ramlan was lucky he was in Subang Jaya and managed to get to hospital in a short time. Others may not be as lucky.

Another very important thing Ramlan told me was: Make sure you have an insurance coverage. He would have to think twice about going to SJMC had he not have insurance coverage. I know some of us have medical scheme provided by our employers but we should advise our children to take up medical insurance while they are still young because the premium in affordable. At our age the premium is already high but still lower than the cost of the treatment.

I think I should stop now. Somehow, I get carried away when writing.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

AGM Masjid Nurul Yaqin

Hari Jumaat, 3 Ogos 2007 telah dilangsungkan AGM tahunan masjid Nurul Yaqin Kelana Jaya. Setelah apa yang berlaku tahun lepas, semua AJK Masjid berada dalam keadaan berjaga-jaga. Sebagai Setiausaha, saya telah menyediakan Minit Mesyuarat 2006 lebih awal lagi (dalam masa seminggu selepas mesyuarat). Laporan juga telah disiapkan beberapa hari sebelum mesyuarat.

Alhamdullillah semuanya berjalan lancar. Terlalu lancar hingga tidak ada usul yang hendak dibicangkan. Dua perkara yang selalu menjadi perbincangan ialah Minit Mesyuarat Agong lepas dan Laporan Kewangan. Pada tahun ini tidak ada perkara yang ditimbulkan untuk kedua-dua perkara ini.

Cadangnya nak letak jawatan sebab tak ada masa untuk membuat kerja Setiausaha dengan baik. Tapi tak ada yang sanggup. So kena gagah juga setahun lagi nampaknya. Harap-harap beberapa AJK dapat berfungsi dengan baik. Penolong Setiausaha merangkap Setiausaha Kerja Sekolah Agama bekerja dengan cukup baik. Begitu juga Bilal merangkap Penolong Bendahari. Tanpa mereka ini aktiviti masjid pasti akan lumpuh. Tapi ada juga orang yang tak puas hati dengan mereka. Tapi pada tahun ini orang-orang tersebut tidak kelihatan.

Banyak perancangan untuk tahun depan telah dibuat. Semoga dapat dilaksanakan dengan jaya.