Wednesday, July 29, 2009


A few old-timers still take the trouble to flatten it open, fill it with tobacco, roll it into a cigarette, light it and puff away. It is the nipah cigarette I am talking about.

As for me I use to puff it, but minus the tobacco, when I was in the primary school. Lucky for me, it did not form a habit. It stopped just like that.

Rahim, my former staff in MVK Bukit Tengah and now in DVS Pulau Pinang, I think is still puffing away rokok pucuk.

Do you know how nipah cigarette is processed?

First the Nipah shoot (pucuk nipah) is collected. The five to six feet spear like shoot is cut at its bottom, usually by using a sharp parang. My late brother, in his prime years, was a famous nipah shoot collector. He single-handedly could fill up a boat with the shoot in a short time.

The shoots are then carried to a landing place on the river bank. My mother and a few other operators then take out the young unopened nipah leaves from the spear (mmatik pucuk) by means of a knife.

The young leaves (comprising of both male and female leaves) are then bundled and ready to be brought home for the next process.

I was always given the chore of pushing all the left-over out into the river so as not to clog the area.

In the house, my mother separate the male and female leaves and then separate (siat)

the part that is later to form the cigarette from the slippery and shiny waste.

The cigarette wrapper is then placed under direct sunlight to dry. Care must be taken to ensure that they are properly dry. Rain water will cause them to turn red and useless.

I remember carrying them into shade everytime it was going to rain. Spoilt ones I exchanged them with freshly baked bread in Kg Banggol (the bakery was no more there now).

When dried, we have to count them two by two. The total is divided by two as the original leaf is made up of male and female leaves.

The counted dried leaves are then tied together and ready to be collected by the towkays.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


The nest was already empty when I had a look yesterday. I had forgotten all about the nestlings after replacing the fallen nest onto a well hidden group of branches of the water apple tree.

Most probably all of them had flown away by now. Their mother had done a wonderful job raising them.

Two weeks ago I saw them gaping in anticipation of being fed. Their nest had fallen, most probably by a sudden gust of wind, by the drain.

Their mother was frantically flying and making noise in the mango tree nearby.

It looked like the mother returned to her chicks despite of my interference. What a wonderful mom!

They were the busy Philippines Glossy Starlings. Together with the yellow vented bulbuls, they inhabit our house compound. They share our trees - the mango, the water apple and the palm trees.


From afar the all-galvanized sheep sheds looked impressive. So too were the launching tents.

I was on my way to Runcang, the would-be launching site for the Pekan agropolitan come August 4 2009. It will be launched by non-other YAB Dato' Seri Najib, our Prime Minister and the Pekan Member of parliament.

The sheds looked more impressive, at least from their cost of construction, as I neared them. Three weeks ago there was nothing on the ground, now there were six of them, four were ready and the other two in the final construction.

600 plus Dorper ewes and rams in the ration of 1 ram to 25 ewes had just arrived from Australia. Their winter coat was still evident.

Surprisingly, they appeared healthy. None had died since their arrival.

Finally there will be ten sheds housing 1000 ewes and 40 rams in the area. Each shed will be looked after by three poor Orang Asli who will be paid monthly.

For the first 6 months the sheep will be under the care of Major Transglobal Sdn Bhd (MTG). After that Felda Farm Products will take over the running of the project.

Besides the minor modifications and repairs that had to be done on the sheds, I think it was the pasture that they really need if the project is to be successful.

The rushing to get the thing impressive enough for the launching repeated the same mistakes by many new livestock farmers.

In their eagerness to start, they most often forget that they are living things that they are dealing with. They often develop the pasture last!

The grand ECER design of the project ,which upon completion, will house 25,000 sheep in 250 such luxurious sheds, training, auction, R&D, abattoir, tannery etc etc will make the project the biggest in Malaysia.

They are also thinking of naming the breed as Pekan Dorper!

Good luck Pekan Agropolitan.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Yesterday evening I drove home early, 4.30 to be exact.
Diyana's Toyota Vios E was ready to be driven home.

So excited I was to receive my eldest daughter's first car that I forgot that I was fasting that day. I casually accepted the salesman offer for a nescafe. I only realized that I had forgetfully broken my fast that night!

Everybody was excited with the new car. It was no Mercedes or BMW of course, but it was our first daughter's first car!

She was much more excited than us. She kept on reminding me to take the car. She also continuously asked me what did we think of the car, was it beautiful?

It was a pity that she was not the one who first drove the car.

At first she reminded me not to allow his brother to drive the car. Syazwan does not have a driving license but he drives ok, my car that is.

Later, pitying her brother perhaps, she gave her ok but Syazwan should only drive with me next to him.

God willing may be next week we will deliver the car to her. This weekend she will be in an official function at PWTC. For that she could not come back to drive around in her brand new car.

Thank you Bank Islam for the NewGrad programme. The program offers a full loan for new grads. All that is needed is the job offer letter and the degree certificate.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Yesterday was my birthday. There was not much celebration, but just wishes from wife, children, staffs and friends.

To me it is just a day for me to reflect and recollect.

A schoolmate dropped by at the office and we went out for lunch at The New Horizon restaurant, just the two of us.

Today is my late son's birthday. He would be 23 today if he was still around. Everyone of us, even Amalia his younger sister, in the family remembers his birthday.

Khairul Syakirin, that was his name, was so special to us, especially we two and Diyana. The four of us were very close...when he was facing the great trial of Leukemia.

We have come to term and accept his is just that his memories still linger among fact he is still very much a part of us...

We can still remember his antics...his words were so sharp and witty...sometimes so full of wisdom for a five year old.

"If I were not'll be easier for Ma." That was what he said when he realized he had caused so much trouble to his mother....tears flowed from our eyes...

When he had to undergo fasting because of his gastric bleeding he asked," Why aboh do not buy KFC for me? If aboh do not have money, please take my money..." Both of us were sad for not fulfilling his wish...he did not understand why he was not given food...

When his kid brother (Syazwan) was not brought to the ward for some times, he once said," I miss Syazwan a lot ma..."

But most amazing of all, so many times he asked me to write his story..."Please write my sufferings in my fight against that other people will understand how tough it is..."

I did fulfil his wish...his story came out in The New Straits Times, in four weekly series....

I wonder, if he is still with us now, how he will look? All full grown young man....

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


H1N1 has been detected in UITM Seri Iskandar students!

The university will be closed for one week beginning tomorrow. Situation is rather chaotic at the moment as students are forced to vacate the university by tonight.

Our Syazwan frantically calling me to get two bus tickets to Kuantan tonight.

Having worked in Perak is an advantage. I called Puan Habsah, my ex-staff in Perak Tengah Veterinary Office for help. She immediately rushed to the bus ticket counter.

Syazwan was lucky. Habsah managed to secure two bus tickets to Kuantan. The bus will leave Sri Iskandar at 6.00 this evening.

For that she had to fetch Syazwan and his friend at the front gate of the university. No visitors are allowed in.

Thank you Habsah for your great help!

To me H1N1 is spreading. Please take care and practise social distancing. Avoid crowded places. We can never be extra careful these days as far as H1N1 infection is concerned.


I woke up at 5.20 this morning. Soon after my hp began ringing...happy birthday wishes from Syazwan and Diyana. My wife, disturbed by my toss and turnings woke up and gave me a peck on the cheeks as she wished me Happy Birthday.

Well, you know what? I'm 55 today. Those days it was mandatory for government servants to retire at 55!

With my birthday today, this means that I have lived 20,075 days on this precious Earth.

The question is how many more days I have to spend here with my family? How should I spend the remaining days?

Career wise, I just have another year with the department. I'm retiring this date next year. Come July 22 2010 I have worked with the department for 29 years 2 months and 6 days.

Many people ask me why I should retire at 56. I told them I want to rest, take a break, run away from unnecessary stresses and do something that I like.

I want to pass on all that I have learnt, especially in Pathology, to the young ones out there before I forget. God has blessed me with some knowledge and skill that I think will go to waste if not properly passed on to those who need them.

I want to give more to my ailing parents that I have somewhat neglected because of the work.

I want to make preparations for that sure-to-come day. I confess that I am not yet prepared for that. Too many days just passed by like that. Been too busy with this temporary world.

Today, the countdown to retirement begins.

Just received a call from Mohd Dan a friend who shares the same birthday.

May Allah bless me with health, peace and tranquility to continue on. Retiring does not mean stop is just stop working with the present department...

Monday, July 13, 2009


Nadrah Maarof or Maria Bertha Hertogh passed away at the age of 72 due to leukemia.

She was adopted by one Malay Lady by the name of Aminah Mohd from Kg Banggol, Chukai, Kemaman. It was the village where my grandmother raised her children and where my mother and my aunties grew up.

In Banggol she spent her childhood days as an active girl doing what other girls were doing. She went to Quran reading classes, was active in sports.

What surprised me most was the fact that she was very close to my aunties, arwah Mak Cik Som and Mak De Hitam. I have seen her pictures with both of them when I was still in school.

The sad thing about Nadrah was that she was forced to change her faith. There was very little that we could do that time for we were being ruled by the colonials.

Her parents' greatest mistake was to bring her to Singapore. Many said that things would have been different if she stayed in Kemaman.

We did not have power then.

Her adopted parents' attempt to keep her by marrying her off also did not help her case.

We knew how she had suffered being forced to leave her legally wedded husband and change her faith from being a Muslim to a Christian.

May she rest in peace.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Comparing National Health Systems

This morning as I was waiting for my youngest daughter, Noorul Amalia, to get dressed for school I saw a documentary on National Health Systems of US, UK and France.

Within ten minutes the director (an American) of the film had successfully brought to light the reality of things in the three countries.

Before, I always admire the way they do things in US, but now I am having second thoughts about it all.

The Americans require medical insurance for treatment. I know this as Malaysian government had to pay US$6,000 ++ when my wife delivered our Amalia. That was for a normal delivery. Later I learned that my insurance card did not cover my son's dental treatment when I brought him to see the dentist to treat his teeth.

In UK and France they do not have to pay for medical treatment! Not only that, an uninsured Frenchman living in the US for 13 years had to go back to France for treatment of his tumour. Much to his surprise he did not have to pay anything for his chemotherapy and surgery and he was given 3 months leave with full pay just that he got his rest!

A retired British MP explained that by right with Democracy the country should pay for the health system.

The documentary also shocked me when an old lady with stitches in her forehead was left at the roadside by officers of a well known University Hospital just because she could not pay the bills without even asking her did she know where to go looking for shelter.

On the other extreme, in France a mother with a newborn baby was very happy that she was given a maid to take care of her laundry and even to prepare her meals. The maid was paid fully by the government. She said " Now I have more time to look after myself and husband!" How lucky she is to be in France.

The director of the film then interviewed a British government doctor. I did not know of his exact intention, but I guessed he in a cynical way want to say that American doctors work mostly for the money.

"How much do you earn?"

"96,000 per year...this could be more depending on your success...I could get more if more people quit smoking, less hypertension cases.."

"Do you drive an old car?"

"No, I drive an Audi."

"What kind of house do you live in?"

"We live in a 500,000 pound house.?

"That is US$ 1 million."

My fear is that the thing happening in US is gradually coming here, our national health system that is. I do not feel the pinch now as being a government servant, I still enjoy most of services offered at the government hospital for free. A non-government employee still enjoy medical treatment by just paying RM$1 for registration fee!

Monday, July 6, 2009


Still clear in my mind how our Khairul Syazwan, or just Acik to us, first got to know rugby.

It was in Penang, Bukit Mertajam High School to be exact, he was first introduced to the sport. He was in Form one then.

Still blessed with a copious amount of baby fat, he was a chubby boy then. Of course his weight did not make him a fast player then.

"I'm too slow, aboh..." he often complained.

"Don't worry, you'll get better soon."

Coach Yek always motivated him to workout harder...drop off that excess blubber! True to his words, through grit and determination, Syazwan soon became a note-worthy player.

That was all history. From BM High, he moved to SMK Gunung Rapat, Ipoh, where he matured as a good rugby player. He was a forward. Tackling was his forte.

Still remember even players of the great KE became scared stiff when he and his gang tackled hard.

His greatest achievement, at least from my point of view, was when he scored the winning try against STAR! They were Perak Champs then.

Rugby is now his game. So too are we. We never missed his games.

Now, even when he is in UITM, he still plays a lot of rugby. During the recent vacation, he even volunteered coaching the SMKSI budding rugby team.