Friday, July 11, 2008

Moments of My Life - Part 10

After about seven months in the institute, finally I received my transfer letter. I was to report duty to the Department of Veterinary Services Terengganu on 1 January 1982.

I was very pleased with the letter. Actually I was not really surprised with that letter as Dr. Fadzil had earlier called and informed me about my transfer to Terengganu.

So, one by one we left the institute for our first real tour of duty as a Veterinary officer.

In Kuala Terengganu I rented a room beneath the landlord's house. Come to think of it, it was just like the room that the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee stayed after he had gambled away all the money given to him by his mother-in-law in the classic Malay film Ibu Mertuaku.

The room was newly constructed and the strong smell of the cheap paint was still there, making life quite unbearable for me. I had no choice really. Without a car, that was the only affordable room close enough to the office.

The room was only about five-minute walking distance from my office.
The landlord and his family were kind to me. They even invited me for lunch and dinner during the first few weeks of my stay. He knew who I was then. I was sure that there were no strings attached with their generosity. It was just the way of many Terengganu folks back then.

Furthermore, I was sure that he had no ulterior motive behind his kindness as he had no daughter whom I could fall in love with because of his generosity. He was even amazed in seeing an officer like me being humble enough wanting to rent his room.

Our friendship, especially with his son, a technician at the Department of Drainage and Irrigation, remained good even after I had moved out of the room a few months later.

He was my personal driver and driving coach when I first bought myself my first car, a golden Ford Laser 1.5 GL with the registration number of TF 7977.

By the way I had driven the car around Terengganu for almost three months without a driving license! By the way strangely then a valid driving license was not required for the approval of a government car loan.

The first and second week working in the Department of Veterinary Services Terengganu was fun, though at times nerve wrecking to me. Being totally new to the government procedures, I was just like a seven-year old kid going to school for the first time.

I was on my own, learning one thing at a time. Dr. Maamor, the director had just been transferred to Kedah and the new director; Dr. Ahmad Suhaimi was still nowhere in sight.

Out of my total ignorance of the treasury instruction and without being properly advised by the chief clerk, I opened up the letters of offer from companies for a project without the presence of the representative of the State Financial Officer.

Realizing that I had breached the treasury instruction, I immediately went to see Dato' Setia Wangsa Abdul Rahman Nasir, the then State Financial Officer. As I took my seat in front of him, I frankly told him that I had breached the instruction merely because of my ignorance.

"I was just two weeks in the real government service, Dato'. Please excuse me for my ignorance".

He was pleased with my truthfulness. Being a very understanding officer, he said that it was all right and he even instructed his chief clerk to teach me the proper way of doing things.

Since then and even after he was promoted to be the State Secretary, he would always remember and knew me by sight.

As a director, Dr. Ahmad Suhaimi was good in teaching me all the necessary things to be a good veterinary officer. However, sometimes I thought that he went just too far.

Once he asked me to present the department's Fifth Malaysian Plan mid-term review to the state financial committee. I was nervous just thinking about how to present the one-and-half-inch thick document to the committee in fifteen minutes.

The knowledge that the meeting was going to be chaired by the Menteri Besar himself increased my nervousness.

Having learned my lesson well from my first mistake, I quickly telephoned the State Financial Officer and explained my position. He assigned me as the fourth presenter to give me the chance to see how other more experienced officers present their reviews.

That changed things a lot. I became less nervous. When my turn came, many thought that I had done an excellent job. That was because my presentation had produced many responses, in term of questions, even from the Menteri Besar himself.

He was interested to know the results of our artificial insemination services. He seemed impressed with my explanation. After these two great experiences, I started to believe more and more in myself.

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