Friday, October 30, 2009


Yesterday, 29 October 2009, for the very first time in my life I walked into a jail, Penor Jail. No, not as an inmate, but as a legally appointed member of the Board of Visiting Justices.

I felt uneasy, indescribable sense of uneasiness plus creepiness, as I stepped out of the car and walked through the guard house and into the prison compound. It was a sort of claustrophobic feel, if you can see what I mean.

It was the first meeting of the Board of Visiting Justices of the jail. There were fifteen of us, duly appointed in person by the Minister of Home Affairs.

The Prison Director bried us on the prison, its history, organization, the number of inmates etc. We were also briefed on our responsibilities and what were expected of us.

After the briefing we were then brought into the prison world itself. But before that we had to leave our handphone and our body searched for concealed weapons.

First the vocational centres - the weaving (tenun Pahang) section. I was particularly impressed with their skills in turning up songket Pahang, very much equivalent, if not better, than the commercial pieces. More impressive was the fact that the wardeds were the instructors. Even DYTM Tengku Puan Pahang was impressed with them.

Second the motor workshop. There they were trained hands-on on the repair, welding and knocking and even car spraying!

Third destination - the kitchen. Cooking was done by the inmates, with very close supervision by the warders. The food quality was determined by the Health Department in term of the calory, the protein and even the menu.

Each inmate is given five meals a day and for that day's lunch it was made up of rice, chicken soup, fried scads and fried long beans - what more could they ask?

We were all very impressed with the way they cook their rice. The rice were first cooked to 1/3 cooked and then transferred into a large steamer where they were steamed to perfection without forming crust at the base.

Then came the section that we all wanted to see - the cells. First the remand cells. Sad and forlorn faces greeted us as we passed the cells. Were they really sad or just to get our sympathy? In each cell there were a wooden bed (pangkin) which was too small for the inmates to sleep comfortably. The toilet (?) was an open one with only a concrete divider 3 feet high.

In the sick bay we met an old man paralysed after a stroke. He was a rapist of his own daughter. His fate?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Our time has finally arrived. What I meant was it is time for us to start having our eldest child wedded.

For the past one month or two, I received quite a few Wedding Invitation cards from classmates. Their sons or daughters were getting married.

Wedding Invitation cards that I had received were from Hamidin, Ramli, Nasaruddin, Zainuddin..

The latest was from Sharifah Aminah, my ex-classmate when we were in standard six, way back in 1966. Her second daughter is getting married on 7 November.

What about ours? Well, we hope and pray that it will be pretty soon. It is quite difficult to say really. It depends a lot on what we call jodoh. When it comes, it will not wait, not even for a day, but when it is not, it is not.

Once I heard her complained (to herself and us): "I won't have to carry this tv set if ma and aboh had a son-in-law!" that was when she had to carry a 15 kg tv set up to the third floor.

This thing called jodoh is very difficult to explain. There seem to be no correlation between how one looks and how fast jodoh comes. All it takes is the right chemistry, or rather hormonal and pheromonal interactions between them two.

Sometimes it takes only a first sight, then everything goes on smoothly to the wedding day.

But when there is no jodoh, the couple will not be married even after a long engagement period.

Once I asked her candidly: "Are you asking us to loook for your jodoh?"

Here was what she said: "Well, I'm still not that desperate, but in Islam it is the responsibility of parents to find a good jodoh for their children."

There she said it all. She was right. It is up to us parents to find suitable jodoh for our children, if they still have not. Many ladies are still unmarried beyond the normal marriage ages when parents leave this responsibility entirely onto their children's shoulders, I think.

But, looking for a jodoh is not like searching for a missing friend. It is difficult, to say the least. It is also not an arranged marriage. We just help to meet them two, but the decision whether to get married or not still depends on them!

One's jodoh is somewhere out there. It is already written in azali, just like like when will we be born or passed away. We're asked to look for it and not just sit around and hope for it to come to our lap.

But, there is a big but here. The way we look for it should follow the teachings of Islam, should practise all the ways our religion teaches us. We have our dignity and self esteem.

We pray that all our children will find their jodohs in good time. A jodoh that will help them to find happiness and prsoperity both in this world and hereafter!


Monday, October 26, 2009


In many things, management in particular, we are too inclined in following, quoting words of the so-called gurus from the West.

We believe too much in what they say, take for granted that the principles brought forward by these gurus are 100% true and applicable here.

We borrowed many of their ways and in so doing, leaving the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his close friends.

We gloat in our success. We are somewhat forced to sell and almost boastful at that, at our success.

Our appraisal and evaluation systems are based on this. We have to tell and show people what we have done. We become almost a show-off, bragful even in our achievement.

Remember our proverb that says: Be like a padi, keep low even when it is heavy with rice grains and not like lalang (Imperata cylinderica) standing tall show-offishly even though with nothing!?

I knew a man, a great man, very few men greater than him in any achievement in his field. He is a fellow Malaysian himself. Malaysian law and constitution was just at the back of his hand.

But, unlike many others whose achievement paled against his, he kept a very low profile, talked only when asked. For his greatness, a faculty was named after him - AIKOL.

Even after many years of his passing, people still remember him, talked about him and his achievements, including his involvement in Natrah's case.

Who was he?

He was non other than arwah (the late) Professor Ahmad Ibrahim!


Yesterday, for the first time, we were all alone. Just the two of us in the house. It was sort of a training for us to feel and experience what and how is it to live just the two of us in the house.

With Diyana and Syafiq in Klang Valley and Syazwan in Sri Iskandar, normally there are three of us, my wife, Amalia and I.

yesterday Amalia went to a motivational camp over in Rantau Abang. Three top students from each school were selected to join the camp.

In the morning, after my walk to Kg Tuan, I started my day with some gardening works. Donning my track bottom and an old t-shirt and armed with a rake and a parang I started to chop down the old I-have-forgotten-what-tree-they-were in front of our house.

Then I worked my way into the drains and began clearing weeds and other what-nots tree and rubbish in it. The contractor given the responsibility to clean it did not their job well. They were not supervised at all by the MPK officers!

Then came the most physical of them all - to prune the flower tree (again, I did not know its name). It was creeping uncontrollably into another tree and some of its branches overshot the fence.

A brisk-walking neighbour said," Hai ya! So hardworking very early in the morning."

"It is an exercise..." I replied as I began raking in dead leaves from the tree and made a heap of rubbish along the roadside.

I lighted a fire and soon the crispy dried leaves burnt without emanating so much smoke. I guessed I did not do much harm to the ozone layer with that small fire.

Chikgu Hilmi, who happened to drive by, did not think so too.

After sweating it out for almost an hour, I took a long rest in front of television. A refreshing glass of mango juice and freshly prepared scrambled eggs were already waiting for me on the dinner table.


Yesterday, after sending Amalia to School, I took a right turn and drove straight to my late aunt's house in Kg Tuan. I have been planning the visit for ages, but failed to do it with my children at home.

It has been my intention to show and tell them where I was actually born and played as a kid.

I parked my car and walked to the house. To my surprise the house was in such a poor condition, dilapidated. It was overgrown with creepers and bushes. The wooden wall was almost collapsed.

There was so much changes in the surrounding that I barely recognised Kg Tuan anymore. The space where I used to practise my high jump was somewhat lost.

The riverbank where I used to collect wild mushrooms and sweet coconut buds was now fenced in and there was a tarred road connectring Kg Injin Gergaji to Kg Tuan and we could drive straight to town using the road.

The old graveyard where I used to climb kelat tree to catch kingfisher's babies was all fenced up, thus hiding the book that I used to catch tiger prawns before.

The all wooden and using no nail surau (little mosque) where my afterbirth was buried, was still there, as strong as ever. In fact, an add on feature was there, perhaps to make more rooms for prayers.

I wonder whether it was still a destination for djinns or not, but I guess not for my hair did not stand on end when I walked near it.

That was my first visit to Kg Tuan. Perhaps later, when all my children come back, I will bring them all there - just to feel the place where their father spent a few years of his childhood life.

Looking at a school girl riding a motorbike with he two siblings at the back, I started my car and slowly left Kg Tuan.

I promised I will take a walk from Kg Injin Gergaji to Kg Tuan and straight to Kg Banggol one of these days.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Today we went in and bulldozed oil palm trees illegally planted on our Livestock reserve meant for Permanent Food Production Area (Poultry).

I was advised by my wise officers not to show up at the site. I was glad that I did so.

The operation went on smoothly at first. This was confirmed when an officer called me and reported that operation was ok.

Just minutes after the call, another officer called telling that there was chaos on the site. Then the perpetrators (the illegal planters) came causing much hurrahs.

The lonely two police officers present were just not enough to calm things down. We then decided, for personnel safety reasons, to cease operation and continue on another day when things are in our favour - I mean when there are more police officers (this time PGA perhaps) around.

The last time the three called on me in office after receiving my letter that said no to their application. After reiterating the no answer, one of them even threatened to go and see the highest authority to make sure they will remain in the area.

I don't want to rock the boat when I have just got another few months to go. I want to leave calmly, with full of good memories.

I did it because it has been decided so by the authority. The place is going to be developed into a modern well-planned poultry production area.

Our intention is that it will become a disease free compartment, where poultry could be sent to the Halal Food Park to be further processed into halal food for export.

Poultry industry in the West coast is already saturated. There is not much more suitable land for rearing poultry. There is very stiff competition between human dwellings and livestock farms.

Whereas here we still have ample land for that. It is my sincere hope that all the four TKPA's will soon become top poultry producers in the very near future.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Malaysians are becoming obese. In fact we register the highest percentage of obese population in South East Asia. Nothing to be proud of, I guess.

More and more people suffer and die from bad-eating-habits-diseases. Yes, diseases like diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases.

People of a younger age group, as young as late twenties, have been and increasingly diagnosesd to be suffering from heart disease.

Yes, situation is becoming bad. We eat just too much nowadays. We eat as we like, not when we are hungry, as it is supposed to be.

We have heavy breakfast, tea breaks at 10.00, equally heavy lunch, tea at 5.30, heavy dinner at 8.00 and sometimes another quite heavy supper.

We overeat. The amount of food consumed does not relate to the amount of physical energy we do.

Look at these facts:

1. We park right in front of anywhere we want to go, right into the shopping mall if we can, does not matter if we double or tripple park.

2. We use elevator, even if it is just for one floor. I wonder if we ever climb the stairs anymore?

3. We use mostly something that is ready-made, automatic, operated by just a switch or a click.

4. When was the last time that we do real exercise? Casual walking does not count in this case (even this not many of us do often unless forced to)

5. We talk about calories, cholestrol, fat...but most of us practise NATO (No Action Talk Only)

6. We consume too much sugar, carbohydrates, fats - far beyond our daily needs.

7. We seldom add the bitter, the sour, the kelat...we only favour the sweet, the sweet and more sweet...

8. Our meetings, seminars, conventions are too laden with food. Buffet breakfast, Buffet lunches and Buffet dinners are the culprits...we eat too much at buffets...many lose self-control with buffets

9. May be we are too polite in as far as food is concerned...imagine when you are already full and yet still have to comply with sopan santun when a hiot offers you food.."just a little food.." Too much too little will be a lot too.





Rubbish, rubbish and more rubbish. They are everywhere. Domestic rubbish, garden rubbish, the after-consert-or-show rubbish and what nots.

Rubbish are dumped by roadsides when rubbish bins are either too small or absent; Rubbish are dumped into rivers and water ways when people are not looking; Rubbish are casually dropped and left behind after each concert, show or expo and Rubbish are legally dumped into hills at dumpsites that are fast become critically needing newer dumpsites which are impossible to find anymore.

Rubbish, rubbish and more rubbish. They turn beautiful residential areas, roadsides, rivers into eyesores. They pollute the earth.

Rubbish are made up of many things, some bio-degradable and others non-biodegradable and a few are outright toxic!

No matter what type of rubbish they are, they are still rubbish. They need rubbishing! Not by Alam Flora, PBTs or other agencies, but by us all.

We need to seriously look into how to rubbish our rubbish efficiently and safely.

We need to look into ways to reduce our daily rubbish.

We need to do this fast before we are overwhelmed with rubbish.

We need to do something before rubbish fill the earth.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Last week there I was in Veterinary Research Institute (VRI) Ipoh presenting my journey as a diagnostic veterinary pathologist to fellow members of the recently established Malaysian Veterinary Pathologist Associaton and department's budding pathologists.

It was the first time I narrated in details how I came to love and finally became passionate with pathology.

Dato' Dr Anwar was there too. He smiled when he heard his name mentioned in several parts of my talk.

Questions arose from the floor asking whether there was a future for pathologists, especially in the era of molecular technologies.

I answered yes, nothing can take away the noble role of pathologists (good ones off course) in disease investigations.

Pathologists are not only dealing with dead animals or human as many believe. Pathologists deal with the living as well as with the dead, trying to find out why the animals were sick, not producing well, or dead.

To be a good pathologist is the question. He or she must be knowledgable in multi disciplines in Veterinary science in order for him to do well.

The outcome of many disease investigation will depend on the quality of samples coming in, the history of the disease or condition, the clinical signs, etc.

He should not be blamed for not coming with a good diagnosis if what he received was just a piece of liver, lung, heart and spleen in formalin.
In such situations, the best he could give was to give a morphologic diagnosis...and if he was lucky, there was some pathognomonic lesions, then he could come up with a disease diagnosis.

The need and relevance of veterinary pathologists will depend on so many things - the public love of animals and how far they are willing to spend on their pets' welfare in as far as diasease diagnosis and treatment.

Here in Malaysia, Veterinarians in clinics just remove lumps and bumps found in pets without sending them to pathologists to know wht they are.

Why? Tests and cancer treatments are expensive and owners are not willing to pay.

In the US, lumps and bumps are sent to pathologists to know what they are -benign or malignant growth. Knowing what they actually are, Veterinarians then could prescribe radiotherapy or chemotherapy for treating the cancer.

Also, many forget the fact that it was the pathologists who discovered so many diseases. Diseases like BSE, West Nile Virus, Nipah virus, etc are discovered by pathologists!

Pathologists will continue to be needed in the far future. They should be working closely with people from other disciplines to achieve what they are for.

Stand alone pathologists cannot survive in this time and age, and so are molecular technologists!


She was on her way to Kota Kinabalu, her very first time flying there. She was attending a negotiation course in INTAN Sabah.

Like always, I was worried about her safety. I knew that she was experience enough to handle the journey, but being a father, I was still a bit jittery about her travelling all alone.

I quickly called fellow Sdaras up there, Dr Punimin and Dr Nasip, in Kota Kinabalu. Dr Punimin gave me Dr Normah's number.

I called her and she graciously arranged for her office car to fetch Diyana at the airports and send her to INTAN. One probelem solved! That was what the advantage of having a friend.

She safely landed at KK Airports at 2.30 and at 3.00 she was received by a female officer and a driver from Dr Normah's lab. As requested, they brought Diyana to Phillipines market for souvenir hunting.

Diyana was very impressed with INTAN's facilities, especially the room. I hope she would have an interesting and fruitful training there.

Monday, October 19, 2009


A newborn baby with umbilical cord still attached found abandoned by a cleaner in a mosque.

A newborn baby found wrapped in a plastic bag found dead by a school worker.

Remnants of a newborn baby found floating in the river.

A newborn baby found wrapped in clothes and with insect bite marks all over the body found abandoned under a tree.

Why all these have to happen in Malaysia? Where have humanity gone to?

In a nutshell, all these are the result of free sex among couples. Too much emphasis on sexual activities on electronic media, be it tv, cds, etc.

Teenagers are allowed to mix too freely irrespective or times of day or night, without close parental supervision and guidance.

I have seen teenagers loitering in towns, at junctions without any regard to the time, as if their parents do not care or want to know where they are.

I remember those days when we were teenagers, it was an unwritten rule that we all have to be back home before maghrib (dusk prayers). Failing to do so will result in us getting spanked or at least scolded by our parents.

Raising up children is more than just giving them food, clothing, money or sending them to school.Children need more than that - they need guidance, supervision, teaching, educating from their parents.

Or else, it will be just like raising cattle in feedlots!

One great thing lacking now is the community's responsibility in the upbringing of children.

People now are becoming too individualistic so much so that they take great offence when one of their neighbours remind their children for doing something wrong.

Teachers are attacked for punishing children for their misdeeds. Those days teachers are asked by parents to do whatever necessary to educate and teach their children, as long as no bleeding or scar formation!

The boy-friend girl-friend phenomena are to blame too for this. The sights of young couples necking, kissing and groping in public places, without even the decency of feeling embarassed to the passing-by crowd are just too much.

A girl will feel out of place, a nerd if she did not have a steady boy-friend and vise versa. Some parents are just welcoming this practice which in reality is not our culture at all.

We all are Asians...Asians have high moral values...more so among us Muslims. We are forbidden to even getting close to zina (extra-marital sex)let alone free sex.

We parents and children should go back to basics - respects our parents, children and remain strict to our religion and cultures.

Phornographic materials should never be allowed into one's house in whatever circumstances.

I have seen many incidents of incests resulting from viewing too much phornographic materials at home.

Respect the sanctity of marriage as a mean of propagating human race. Never allow 'living together' as commonly practised in the West to ever exist here.

Love our children as much as we love them when they were born right up to the time when they become adults. Give them proper guidance and education.

Do not spend too much time on chasing the worldly materials.

Revive the big family concept in a village and residential areas so that we look after our children as a common responsibility.


She was always smiling whenever I stopped by her food stall in Sri Kemunting.

Always customer friendly, she had even allowed Syazwan and his rugby chums to have lunch and dinner there without paying cash. All they had to do was to write in 555 book!

For two years I was her loyal customer. My favourites were plain (without a shred of vege) fried noodle and an egg or saled fish friend rice.

An SMS from Ahmad Zainal really shocked me. Kak Timah was found dead in her house with evidence of being robbed and suffocated to death.

It sickened me to know such a fine lady being victimised such way. All of us have to look after the safety of our family. We just cannot depend on others.

Sometimes I wonder what is happening to our beloved Malaysia. Crime is everywhere and it is no more safe, even in our own house!

To Kak Timah are my prayers that you will be blessed by Allah and to her family, please be patient and redho for Allah greatest test.

To the criminal, the murderer, may you receive the punishment of Allah for the crime you did.


Once again, we were very eager to be there, to be in person and witness her as she walks on the stage to receive her Degree.

This time it was much more meaningful than her first Diploma convocation. This time it was for her Law degree, her choice and for that she had to fight hard just to get in, and she would receive it from HRH Sultan of Pahang himself!

We put up a night in The Zon on the Park all suites hotel, just five minutes walk from the Suria KLCC.

On the 10 October 2009, that was her convocation day, we all woke up very early. At 6.15 we were all ready for breakfast and at 6.45 we checked out of the hotel and made our way to IIUM, Gombak.

We arrived relatively early in IIUM campus. The parking spaces were still ample.

Diyana, in her convocation robe looked jubilant. She had made it. Just like her father almost three decades ago, she was blessed with a job well before her convocation!

Outside the hall there was already a big crowd of graduands as well as family members. Amalia was frustrated for not being able to be in the hall as only two were allowed in per family.

Souvenir shops were every where. They really made money by selling flowers, teddy bears, etc to the graduands.

There was impatient among the family members. We had to wait it out before being allowed to get into the hall.

We got a nice front row with a very clear view of the ceremony. To our left were Diyana's friend's parents.

Looking at the convocation booklet, we were proud to see that our Diyana was one of those law graduands with a star marked in front of her name...those who graduated with a CGPA of more than 3.0.

Talking to other parents, we learned that there were still many without a job. Diyana was very blessed for she had, not one but three job offers...and pretty soon, God willing, she will once again on the move...this time to PETRONAS.

When it was all over, we were very busy taking pictures with her.

After a delicious lunch at a Malay restaurant in Taman Melati, we drove back to Kemaman, for I had a class the next day.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I do not know exactly how many cars have skidded and spinned at that particular stretch of road. I do not have the exact statistics on that.

But I am sure many cars have just gone through that, more so on rainy days.

The day when my car skidded and spinned, there were seven cars within less than 30 minutes.

Last Sunday when I passed that same stretch of road, I saw four cars suffering from varying degree of damage. It had just drizzled before the accident, I presumed, for the road surface was drying off as I passed through.

Of course, the ever vigilant tow-truck company was always there whenever such accidents occurred. Too punctual and too if pre-planned. As if they already knew that car accidents will soon happen!

It is the notorious so-called S-bend - the 70th KM Karak Highway from KL to Kuantan side, not far from Sg Dua.

While waiting for my police report to be processed, that was at Karak Police Station, just after my last accident, I noticed several things:

1. It took long a time for the IO to come

2. Those making police report of road accident will, almost always, be compounded for "not being able to properly handle their vehicle!!!!"

3. Giggles and chatterings may be taken as there exist a conspiracy between two or more parties (you know who?) leading to such road accidents

4. It is hightime that relevant authorities take effective action to overcome the problem - they can either straighten that particular stretch of road, or paint that rubberized material on the road just to warn drivers of the imminent danger

Driving will always be pleasurable without road accidents.

Roads should always be driver-friendly, safe and risk-free.

Relevant authorities please improve the S-bend.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Sungai Bernam oh Sungai Bernam. I should be particularly thankful to you for so many things in my life as a student in SDAR TANJUNG MALIM.

You had affected so many young lives back then. You brought cheers and joy to so many of my friends.

Rarely, you too brought great sorrow to us all, when a friend lost his life in one of your many deep ends.

I remember how you have taught me how to swim. It was strange how a Terengganu boy, with the open South China sea at his disposal, chose you as his training ground.

Really, I am not joking, I learnt how to swim in Sungai Bernam.

The swimming lessons began with me learning the strokes...first the strokes were so fast that I tired easily...later the stroke became firmer and less frequent...

I crossed the river at the narrowest point, making sure that there were things that I could grab on on the opposite riverbank .

In a few weeks, there I was, a swimmer.

From then on I improved my swimming prowess, from just a swimmer to a free diver, fish hunter and an adventurer in its depth.

I remember spiking a lampam fish using just a simple self-made fish-gun. I remember too playing hide-the-stone-and-you-find-it with my close friend, Ripin.

The game involved one of us hiding a marked stone on the riverbed and the other searching for it and bringing it up.

But, most important of all, its riverbank provided us a retreat from our bullying provided us a place to pour out our feelings...

Sungai you are not the same river that I used to know...the water is no more flowing as it used to are the victim of the so-called human development...


Just before the Japanese occupation, my late aunt (Mak Long Hawa) and family lived in Kok Lanas, Kelantan following her husband who was an anti-malaria worker there.

Despite of her very small physical stature (petite), she amazed us all when she told us that she, out of desperation for her family's safety, walked all the way from Kok Lanas to Rembau, just to get away from the marauding Japanese soldiers.

I have forgotten how many months she took to complete the arduous journey. She told me that she had to endure it all just to reach Rembau. Friends advised her to just stay put and lie low in hiding and waited it out till after the war.

But she was very adamant of going home to Rembau, to be with her mother and other siblings.

I don't know much about her epic journey. Had no opportunity to ask her when she was still with us.

All that most of us knew is that she surprised her mother and siblings when she arrived home alone!

She was so distraught that she forgot many things that had happened. Two or was it three of her darling daughters persihed in the long walk. They were buried somewhere in Jabor, Kemaman.

How I wish that one day I will go down to Jabor and began searching for their graves.

In her life she rarely mentioned about her daughters. Perhaps the trauma was too great for her.

We pray that she will meet her daughters later, in the hereafter world.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

FDI - Good or Bad???

Recently I attended the annual PTDs conference in INTAN Bukit Kiara.
There were many distinguished speakers presenting their views. Among them were MAS Chairman, Dato' Munir and of course the much awaited Tun Dr Mahathir.

Dr Munir boldly said that Malaysia was not ready for political change. The recent change caused a long uncertainty period, where important policy changes.

We should emulate Japan, where Public service actually runs the country. The too-frequent change in Political government do not bring about uncertainties as suffered here.

Tun in his talk on Vision 2020, what we have achieved and what's next agreed that FDI which according to him, he was the inventor, did not bring much gain to the country. In fact, there was not much foreign investment at all...only 10% of the investment were foreign, whereas the other 90% was borrowed from local banks!

After the ten-year pioneer period, they just moved their companies, lock stock and barrel, to other countries which now believe in FDI.

Except for the jobs offered, these companies did not give much to the country.

However, ironically, we still are looking forward for FDI for our development.

I am no economist, but that was what I heard from Tun himself.

To the economists out there, kindly give your comments.


It is true what they say about unoccupied houses being dead houses.

It is alos true that a house left unoccupied will soon lose its spirit.

No. I don't mean that kind of spirit...

That kind of spirits are there...ask my children, they all know them well...they ar so used to their fleeting around in the house...they even sublimed into a humanoid form in the kitchen, that's according to Syazwan...

What I mean was the house will lose its soul if it is not lived in.

Take our house...when it was just our rest house during school holidays and Eids, the compound was full of Imperata cylinderica (lalang) and the soild was dry and al,ost barren...

But now, there are earthworms' shit indication that the soil is fertile...

Imperata is now replaced by very healthy Axonopus and Paspalum...

But, the most impressive of them all are the birds. There are plenty of them, either playing around, looking for food or even breeding in the house compound.

The mango, the water apple and the yellow palm trees, they all provide excellent rendezvous for the feathered creatures.

Very early in the morning, barely five o'clock, a pair of Magpie robins and their two chicks were already busy gathering worms from the dampened-by-the-heavy-rain soil.

They even sing their heart out at such an early hours sometimes.

Up the roof and the mango tree, the Philippines glossy starlings were congregating either chatting or building their nests.

Flying from frond to frond and from twig to twig are the forever busy and hardworking yellow-vented bulbuls. Their lazily buily nests stand very clear on the water apple tree.

Once a while the tiny tailor bird is seen hopping around the neighbours overgrown flower plants searching for bugs.

House sparrows are normally seen either picking up rice grains from the drain or harvesting the seeds of love grass.

Olive-backed sunbird is always seen on trees gathering nectar. It is the closest bird to the beautiful hummingbirds that we don't have.

On the latest member of our tree, the cherry tree, the birds termed as the jewels of the forest always stop by checking whether the fruits are already ripe and ready for plucking. They are very small birds less than 25 gm in weight, but can be very colourful, especially the males.

Rarely, black-naped oriole dashes around the house compound, too scared to stay put on a branch for too long. Its bright yellow plumage always makes it stands out among other birds.

As rare as the oriole, white breasted water hens do wander into the compound searching for juicy earthworms.


The tragedy in Padang makes me think how the three of them brothers left their Minangkabau base in search for a better place in Tanah Melayu.

The three were the father and uncles of my late grandfather, father side.

The three of them, Hj Ali included (my great grandfather, so I was told) crossed the Straits of Malacca by using the bare minimum of a boat with a batik sail!

Their epic journey was worth writing as a novel. I'm seriously thinking of doing just that soon.

One landed in Bagan Datuk, Perak where he married a local girl and started a great family there growing coconut.

The second one landed in Rembau giving rise to my family and was a member of Suku Mungkah (I have to check the spelling).

The third one went further south and stopped at Serkam, Melaka.

I was told that the three brothers did not lose contact despite the long distance separating them.

I guess it is on my shoulder to track them before my time is up.


Sometimes back in the early eighties, the then Tan Sri (presently) Dr Ahmad Mustaffa, the then Director General DVS and I used to walk around the beaches of Batu Rakit and Merang looking for birds.

Tan Sri was a keen birder then. We used to just casually walk along the beach. On the way we passed a wakaf (gazebo) where they played dam aji. They used the gazebo's plank floor as their dam aji board. So much shoving and pushing of the metal soft-drink's bottle cover used that the board was nicely sculptured with hillocks and holes.

"Look Azahar...that's what life is all full of free time - doing something that you like without any worry of bills to be payed!"

The players were mostly fishermen and they played during their leisure times.

We continued walking...once in a while he snapped pictures of birds such as the blue-throated bee-eaters and kingfishers as they perched on the telephone lines.

Then we came to a stall where a middle-aged lady was busy cleaning yellow-striped trevally (ikan selar kuning). The freshly caught fish looked delicious.

"Kak, can you fry the fish for us?"

"Sure, how much do you want?"

"All that you have."

"How do you like them cooked? Fried with tumeric?"

"No, just fry them like that, plain."

In less than an hour, the delicious fried trevally was ready. The entire fish was as quickly gobbled by the three of us.

Then he said," This is life...they have all the proteins that they ever need...fresh ones at that. This to me what being rich is all about. No need too much money and no stress at all. Life is so easy for them. Don't go spoil their life by giving them one or two cattle under pawah scheme!"

His words remained with me till today. But is it really so? Can we live now with as less money as they had then?

I always wonder why is it that now we need significantly much more money than say, in the sixties?

Is this the side effects of progress and development?

MONEY IS NOT EVERYTHING...that's how the cliche goes...but on the other hand, NOW EVERYTHING NEEDS MONEY!


That is what everybody talks about and lives for, day in and day out.

Familes break because of the greed for money or because of lack of money.

People cheat, kill and do anything (sometimes unthinkable things) just for money. If lack of money is the reason, it is still pardonable...but when they do things because of their desire to collect more money, it is beyond forgiveness...

Why not we forget about money once in a while? Why not make a day in a week or a week in a month where we stop using money or if it was too difficult to go completely without money, why not use as little money as possible.

Oh how much I miss those days when I could live happily for a day with just 15 sen!

Monday, October 5, 2009


Yesterday he did it. Stocking has finally realized that he was already a grown up tom cat.

He gave chase the tom cat that had been bullying him around all these while.

The old tom cat was seen scurrying around the house with Stocking chasing close behind.

Stocking was no more a timid orphan. He had overcome his fright. He is now the king of the compound.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Of kepah, kemunting and wild water melon

As I drove along Chendor during my routine Kemaman-Kuantan commute, I couldn't help but felt nostalgic about that part of the beach.

Chendor beach, though not as famous as its neighbour, Cherating, it has a special place in my memory.

Its rather shallow waters (you can even wade far into the sea without even wetting your hair) attracts many, especially us, Kemaman folks.

The only problem is that at times the water is infested with jelly fish, and you wouldn't like to be stung by these creatures!

Those days, I'm talking about the 60's friends, Chendor was famous for two things - kemunting (wild berries growing well on the bris soil) and kepah by the thousands!

I am not exaggerating to say that I used to rake in kepah by the pails and so too was kemunting. I used to gather these black-when-ripe berries by the basket.

Kemunting resembles budu (anchovy paste) in a miniature tempayan. The difference is that kemunting is very sweet and seedy.

Whereas kepah is a just like a lokan that I had talked about in my older entry. It is smooth-shelled however. They are very delicious if stir fried or just steamed.

From the look of things, Chendor is not that well developed compared to its neighbour, Cherating. May be its vicinity to Terengganu border prevents it from challenging Cherating as another tourist destination.

No matter what, we all loved to swim in Chendor waters, not in monsoon seasosn of course!

Why not try it!


I was used to hearing old folks (most of them have passed away) telling this and that we should do and not do.

I don't know how much these old folks sayings are true in these days and times, but I just want you to stop a while and ponder about them one by one.

I'll give you a few examples.

1. Never sit on a pillow or else you'll have a boil - well I guess this is a diplomatic way of saying that it is rude and almost disrespectful to sit on a pillow which we normally use to rest our heads!

2. A single girl singing in the kitchen will marry an old man. How true is this? Perhaps all they wanted is to ensure that girls will concentrate and learn how to cook well.

3. Do not move from a place to a place while having a meal or else you'll have more than one spouse!

4.Do not eat chicken's neck or else your neck will fall over (melentuk) on the wedding chair....just a warning to scare you away from the dangerous bones..or the harm of hormones normally injected in the neck (those days)

5. For those still uncircumsised boys, please stay away from taking gizzards (mempedal) or else your foreskin will be tough to cut! All they were saying was that stay away from the part that was reserved for them!

6. Never tegur (make remarks about) anything strange that you come across or hear, especially in the jungle or at night.

7. When you have started your journey, it is almost a taboo to return home to get something that you have left / forgotten and continue the journey. They belived that you will meet an accident if you continue.

8. For adolescent boys, never eat and drink in succession or else you will lose out during your first night!

9. Crabs caught during full moon nights are not fully is true, but they did not give reason for their observation, they just stopped there. Actually during full moon, it is difficult for the crabs to catch their food!

10. Eat the tail parts of fried fish, you will be good at swimming. They either wanted you to have a safer part (less bone) or they wanted the best part (the hear) to themselves!

Think about. Don't just rubbish them or accept them just like that.


Cenderawasih is the Indonesian word for the bird of paradise. The Raggiana bird of paradise (Paradisaea raggiana) is the national bird of New Guinea.

Because they have such rare and beautiful plumage, birds of paradise have been hunted for centuries, and their feathers used for decoration and their supposed mystical properties.

Legends have it that the birds were the birds of the gods and never touched earth, feeding only on dew.

This legend accentuated the value of the birds for over 100 years, and the feathers were in such high demand that it almost brought it to extinction.

Cenderawsih is only found on the island of New Guinea. The males are known to gather in a specific tree together in the morning and will engage in mutual display, where they fluff out their extensive colourful feathers to try and attract a female.

They live in the tops of trees and in the underbrush, making nests in tree branches and holes.

A friend of mine is a great believer of this legend. According to him the bird is from heaven. Even in a stuffed bird, the feathers will regrow if they were pulled out!

There are four stuffed Cenderawasih in his house which I visited recently. He even claimed and showed me the supposed bird's egg. The egg glowed and emitted radiant red light when soaked in a glass of water.

I did not know what to believe. The glowing red light did not look real to me. It was like an electric bulb..but why it glowed like that?

To me, Cenderawasih is just a bird, a very beautiful and interesting bird at that. Once I saw a documentary showing the bird in courtship display and suddenly a wild cat coming out of nowhere, jumped in and killed it! What a pity...but that was what life in the jungle was all about.

What about you? Do you believe that the bird has magical powers? I don't.


For most of us, those who had gone through the life offered by Sekolah Dato' Abdul Razak (SDAR), be it in Tanjung Malim, Sikamat, Seremban, or Sungai Gadut, Seremban, we are friends, chums, buddies, comrades (call what you like) forever, even when we were from different batches and have never studied together

That is what Sdaras are all about. We live exactly as our motto: ONCE A SDARIAN ALWAYS A SDARIAN.

For us the batch of 67-72/74, we were very very close, almost like brothers. As we age (some age faster while a few never seem to grow old) the invisible bond inexplicably grows stronger.

When one falls sick, the news is spread wide and fast between us and some will rush to visit, giving moral support.

When one's child gets married, the great day will almost certain will be filled by many of us.

When one passes on (a few of us passed away recently), doa and tahlil will be organized and donation for the bereaved family will be made according to one's financial capacity. The motto: Sikik soghe (Kelantanese dialect meaning a wee bit by everybody).

I remember when a few of us went missing (MIA), all of us tried our best locating them. One very talented guy in doing this is of course our very own Computer. With his ingenuity, he found our Arshad Dol (my best buddy).

Sadly too, ver few just don't want to (due to their own personal reasons) be related to SDAR. Very sorry for them.

A few kept their private life to themselves, including their health status. One such guy is arwah Razak Ismail. He passed on after a period of coma without anyof us knowing.

A few faced sickness boldly without even grimacing. He was non other than arwah Dr Abdul Manaf Hamid. He went through heart by-pass operation, kidney failure, loss of sight and hearing and finally bilateral limb amputation. He continued teaching Medical students till his very last breath...a wonderful teacher indeed.

There was also arwah Nawam, the silent one. He passed away a few years ago, without many of us knowing. Ismail Shamsuddin aka Pak Mat, diligently went around Serdang area tracking his family.

On the 7th raya, he found them. She told him that arwah Nawam suffered from Systemic Lupus Erythematosis (SLE)....

After leaving our alma mater, we went through life in a variety of ways. No matter what financial and social status we finally are, the bond that tie us together is a strong one. We are still great comrades, sahabat till we die.

With that principle, two great reunions were organized - one in Port Dickson and the latest was in Kangar.

As our wise Pak Mat said, from now on it may be difficult to organize such a gathering...but we will try to do something, to get in touch with everyone till that very day.

I know I have not been as mobile as I would like to be, like some of us, especially those in Klang Valley. I have missed many of our reunions and teh tarik sessions, but deep in my heart, I'll always be with you all. Tempat jatuh lagi dikenang, inikan pula tempat bermain ( Even places we had fallen we remember, what more places we had played).

I hope and pray that we will continue keeping in touch for a long long time to come and may our children and grandchildren continue this tradition.