Thursday, January 28, 2010


I was shocked, to say the least, when I read the latest circular from JPA saying that for all those approved for optional retirement as of 1 February 2010 (that includes me) will only be paid 20% of the gratuity they are supposed to get on retirement.

It is unfair! Why should we be treated this way so suddenly? I have made plans to effectively use the money on my retirement.

My HQ has sent my application for optional retirement on 18 January 2010 as it is according to JPA's SOP to only send the letter 6 months before the date, not more.

I hope and pray that my application will be approved before 1 February! They told me that they have gone through my application.

I will not change my mind though.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Since our two papaya trees died of natural disease a few months back, it has been quite a while since we have papaya in our daily meals.

Everybody in the family loves young papaya salad with sardine tamarind dressing prepared by the family's great numero uno chef - my wife.

For the salad to be really appetizing, the papaya must be young and freshly harvested; the sardines (ikan selayang) must be equally fresh and grilled to perfection before they are shredded; and the tamarind juice must be just enough to give that disnct kick to the salad.

The papaya is shredded using a special papaya salad shredder and soaked in cold water plus some camphor to add to its crispiness. The pineapple is skinned and cubed. The cucumber is sliced. If available, young sentul or water apple is sliced.

The sardine is grilled and shredded when cool.

All the ingredients are lavishly drowned with the sardine tamarind dressing. Fried fish crackers are sometimes used to scoop up the excess dressing from the papaya bowl.

Enjoy your young papaya salad with sardines tamarind dressings.


Yesterdau my continuous-since-morning Australian open 2010 tennis session came to unplanned halt by half a dozen magpie robins.

I rushed out to see what the commotion was all about. There they were, six of them, males mostly, standing on Tan's garage roof warring each other gregariously.

Most of them had that distinguishing jet black plumage. I do not know what they were wrangling about, but from the looks of things they were in a heated debate about something.

Their behaviour was keenly observed by the busily-drying-themselves-off Philippines glossy starlings perching on the electric lines barely ten feet away. They had been bathing in the rain water collected in the roof gutter of the neighbour.

Suddenly the magpie robins were quiet. They were hiding in the lush fig tree nearby.

I looked up into the heavily clouded sky and saw the reason for their sudden quietness - crows, plenty of them circling the sky over the warring magpie robins.

Crows, being dubbed as Einstein of birds, you can never predict what they would do next. They could suddenly swoop down and catch hold one of the loud-mouthed juvenile magpie robins.

I have seen crows gathering or rather stealing metal cloth hangers as parts of their nest.

Also in the sky, as if expecting the rain to fall down anytime now, were the swiftlets and migratory swifts.

From the drain in front of Yaakob's house, a 12-inch young snakehead was busy hunting for baby frogs.


As I was driving out of my house to fetch Amalia from school yesterday, I saw a small girl running and crying on the road.

She was only in her skirts and barefoot. I stopped my car as I reached by her side. She was crying.

She looked very familiar.

"Why are you crying?" I asked her.

"My mom left me! She brings her grandson to hospital..."

"Are you the daughter of Pok Kob?" I asked as I realized she was most probably Yaakob's daughter.

"Yes, Pak Cik!" she answered and got into my car.

" Don't're safe with me."

I drove on to SMKSI to fetch Amalia.

The issues here were:

What if someone with bad intention were to have picked her up? We don't want to see another case of a chuild being kidnapped, sadistically sexually abused and brutally murdered.

Why was a little girl like her left alone in the house? Her mom shouldn't have left her alone in the house just like that.

Children should be, brain-washed if necessary, taught never to get into a stranger's car for any reason.

She was safe as I happened to be her uncle, once removed. Her brother accepted her as she got down from my car. Her mother was standing in front of the door, looking worried. Nobody said anything to me.


She was a special friend. A friend from way back in 1963 when were in standard three in SK Kampung Gajah.

We used to walk together to school along the riverbank of the majestic Perak River, sometimes munching on round tapioca chips with hot sambal dip.

Like always I search for her on the Internet but never found her. Suddenly, last week finally I found someone with the same name, Datin Hasnani Saad, a senior Custom Officer in the Custom Officer Association Web-page.

I immediately contacted the web-master asking whether that Datin Hasnani was my old friend from standard three.

This morning I received a reply, confirming that Datin Hasnani is a daughter of a policeman and her father used to work in Balai Polis Kg Gajah!

He even gave her hp number.

I called her and we talked. Indeed she was the Hasnani Saad that I used to know and that I have been searching. Sadly, she did not remember as well as me about our friendship and at things that happened in Kg Gajah.

All she remember was she was very fond of swimming in Perak River and was occassionally caned by her father for that.

Well never mind, this is just the beginning. May be gradually she will remember all those years in Kg Gajah.

I am very happy that at last I have found her. She is married to a Police Officer. Her father, Pakcik Saad to me, has passed away and her mother, mak cik Zaharah (she was from Dungun, Terengganu) is still around.

A quick check with my mother confirmed that Mak Cik Zaharah and her was very close too.

Friday, January 22, 2010


This morning as I was on my way to work I saw a cat suddenly dashing across the road in front of a Land cruiser. It made it beneath the moving up to the centre of vehicle's body.

Then the left rear tyre crushed the back of the cat. I could almost hear the sound of bones crushed under the impact.

The cat went limp and lay there, motionless. The car driver did not stop, perhaps he was not even aware that he had ran over a cat.

I being the next car behind saw everything, but could not do anything to stop the tragic accident.

I just continued my driving when I realized that the cat was most probably already dead seconds after its body was ran over by the land

I hope that somebody would pick it up and not allow it to be turned into a pancake and later be picked up by the forever searching scavenging crows.

May you rest in peace my dear cat.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


No, I don't mean teachers. 'Cikgu' in this case is a weird larvae of an insect found in loose sand underneath many houses in Kemaman when I was a kid.

They are little creatures that look like something out of science fiction horror movie. This creature makes funnel-shaped, crater-like pits in soft sand, and then waits patiently at the bottom of the pit to ambush any hapless passers-by that is unfortunate enough to fall in.

It is commonly called antlion, referring to its habit of preying on crawling insects mainly ants.

If it is 100 times larger, they would be formidable threat to even us!

Now you remember what a Chikgu is?

They are actually the larval stages of an unusual insect called Neuroptera - 'nervous-winged' insects. They undergo a complete metamorphosis, from an egg, larva, pupa and winged adult.

If you still can't imagine what creature it is, please go to any house that is situated on bris soil and try look under the house. You are sure to find many funnel-shaped pits. Try drop something small in them pits and you will surrely see something coming out of the sand. it is the cikgu that I have described.


I always make it a point to attend all functions where my children receive something from somebody in recognition of his or her achievement. It is a must go thing.

Today, I spend half of my working a day at SMKSI's hall just to make my presence felt by my youngest, Noorul Amalia. To me attending school functions is an official duty.

Amalia receives her award for being the third best in Form 1 (2009). She scored 5A's and 3 B's.

I am impressed with the school. It recognises potential high-flying students in forms three, five and upper six and called them Star students!

Sadly, very few parents attend the function. The PTA chairmen nagged about the parents lacking of interest in their children's academic achievement. He goes on and on in his speech.

The officer invited to officiate the function is the Pengarah Agensi Pembangunan Masyarakat Terengganu (previously known as APU, depending on who is the MB!). He is an alumnus of SMKSI and his speech is both memorable and convincing.

But he is more of a political leader than anything else! His topic is wide, ranging from the new Bukit Kuang bridge right to the students.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Like they say, nothing stays the same. Everything changes with time, like it or not.

Take our physical features for instance. Some age faster and some slower, but age we must.

First to go is the colour of our hair. First there was none or a few. Then there was there, all thick, black and shiny. The minute we reach 40 (many even younger) grey hairs sprout here and there, first on the head and later on other types of hair like the eyebrows, moustaches, nostrils, beards, chest hair and even the hair there.

Then the eyesight. I remember it was in the States that I first realized that I needed a reading glass. Dr Bounous first noticed it. Seeing that I needed to move my reading materials away from my eyes to read, she immediately yelled out,' Azahar, please get a reading glass!"

The incident that finally made me go out and buy one was in the bacteriology lab. I had to put the glass cover slips into the staining rack. I could not put the cover slips individually in the rack!

After eyesight came the physical well-being. Then waking up in the morning was as simple as ABC, nothing much to it. But now, the aches, the pains and the soreness in the muscles and joints all make early morning waking up a real torture. I dread them very much, these waking ups!

Then the strength. I always think that I am still a strong twenty plus man whenever I do things. Whenever I play badminton or even tennis, I would run all over the court, fetching almost all drop-shots. Many a times I am able to retrieve most of them, but the issue is what happen to me after the game?

Knees get swollen and will not subside weeks after the game. Syazwan always reminds me that I am no more a young man whenever I overstressed and overstretched myself.

Saturday gardening is another chore that I tend to overtaxed myself. Once I fell down a tree and removed the branches all by myself, heaving and sweating profuserly in the process of course.

Once I even tried to carry my dad into the bathroom. You know what happened then? I was breathing very hard and my heart beat furiously as I carried my dad's limb body. Luckily Syazwan was quick to help; if not I might have a heart attack!

After strength came my mood. It is also changing dramatically of late. I don't know why, but it is getting more difficult to control my feeling and temper.

Mood swings are happening more regularly now. Small wife naggings that are nothing before can become something that hurt my feeling. Tempers can flare relatively easy. All of a sudden, I become quiet...that's my way of preventing my temper to flare up into a full-blown madness.

Even I am surprised to see this change in me. What more my wife. Is this what they called andropause (the male version of menopause). If the decreasing level of testosterone is the culprit, but why the facial and other body hairs, they are still growing like no other people's business.

I think it is all in my mind. Everyday complaining of lack of staffs, too much works and the daily commutings have all added up to the mood swings.
Well, after my retirement, do not hope that I will be a coach potato day in and day out.

That will definitely kill me. I will of course continue working, at my own pace, doing whatever I like with less unnecessary stress and pressure.

Can I do it? To Allah I pray that I will continue living usefully, will be able to walk, have my mind intact and be free from all serious illness till my last breath.


What will happen if an animal, be it a cat, a dog, a cattle, a goat, a buffalo or even a wild pig, a snake, a civet was knocked down and killed by a vehicle here in Malaysia?

Many things could and have happened. Through my many years of driving on Malaysian roads, be it on the highways, federal roads, state roads, or farm roads, I have noticed the following scenarios:

I was driving on a stretch of rural road somewhere in Kuala Berang on my way to investigate a possible Hemorrahgic Septicemia outbreak. I saw a freshly dead buffalo lying by the roadside. I stopped and saw that familiar signs - blood oozing out of the natural orifices and that swollen neck area. I then moved on to see more animals in front. Found a few more dead cattle on the filed.

I stopped and did a PM examination on two of the most freshest carcass. It was indeed HS. With enough samples for lab tests, I quickly drove back to my office.

Reaching the earlier spot where the dead cattle was, I was flabbergasted to see only the head, skin and bones were left. The meat was all taken by someone and I was not the least surprised if it was sold on any of the many meat stalls along the roadside.

The second scenario involved a huge wild boar that had been knocked down dead by a passing lorry along that famous straight road in front of MARDI station in Gebeng.

The carcass was left to rot in the hot sun for days. Only on the fourth day someone covered the carcass with a heap of earth. Much later the whole thing was bulldozed farther from the road.

The third scenario - a ten-foot phyton was instantly killed when a speeding motorcar ran acrros it as it was slithering across the road in the still-misty road.

A car then suddenly stopped. The driver emerged bringing with him a knife. He was soon engrossed in the act of skinning the snake. After getting the skin, he just left the remains on the road. Soon there was nothing left of the snake. It was flattened to oblivion as more vehicles trampled on it.

The fourth scenario - a sadder one. A cat, like many other domestic cats, suddenly dashed across a busy town road. As it reached the middle of the road, it again suddenly turned back and ran to its original place. It did not make it. A car braked hard as it ran over the cats lower back.

The cat ran across carrying its badly mangled back crying in pain. Passers by did not anything to help. They just watched in agony. The cat suffered easily for hal an hour before it finally breathed its last breath.

Cattles have been known to be knocked by vehicles. Many human lives have been lost through such accidents. But as soon as a cattle is knocked down by a car, suddenly nobody will claim it as his. If before, the stray animal is considered by its keeper as a walking ATM, but now it is just a rubbish, useless. How ungrateful!

As a comparison, I have seen a young American lady bringing back a mangy and broken-legged puppy that she found in a drain to her father back home.
The puppy was operated on by her father who happened to be a veterinary surgeon for a whopping US$10,000. Two years later she again came back to Malaysia, this time bring with her a lovely mongrel that someone left to die in the drain!


My hp was busy last night with sms after another, from old friends, children and children's friends and also relatives.

I was on TV3 Bulletin Utama wearing a Kangaroo skin hat and commenting on the conversion of pig house into cattle sheds.

Zamri, my nephew once removed commented that I would look better without my hat on. Rosman said that I looked handsome. Jagjit Singh even went to the extent saying that I resembled Fahmin Rejab, the ex-RISDA DG. Syazwan's rugby buddies called him telling that I was on TV.

Actually I was not that thrilled to be on TV. Gone were the days when I was very excited when I was on TV, even as an extra. Now, they were chasing me to be interviewed for issues.

About the hat, it was sweltering hot and following Saadiah in Musang Berjanggut, I put it on in fear of something (remnants of pigs) falling down onto my head. No, it was just that I like to wear hats whenever i am outside.

The real story behind the TV appearance was that I was very happy that finally that pig farm was closed. IT took us five years to make the old man to finally remove all pigs from the farm.

I remember being called to an EXCO member's room during my first week in Pahang to discuss the closing of the pig farm. They all wanted me to allow Mr Liew Sung to continue farming till he payed all his loan to the bank.

We even lost the court case when we tried to close it using our enactment. You wannna know why we lost? It was on technicality...the charge was operating a pig farm without a licence...he was actually operating on an expired temporary licence. To us laymen, they are the same, but in the eyes of law, they are differen.

He sincerely wants to convert his farm to cattle, and I am obliged to offer him all that I could do to help.

From the look of things, I am very confident he could be as successful. The fifty heads of cattle now he is rearing in the ex-pig house are looking very well, all shiny-coated and looked very happy and most important of all some of them are pregnant.

I hope that he will be a very good cattle breed-lot operator soon. With his vast experience in raising pigs, I am confident he could be a successful cattle or even dairy farmer!

Friday, January 15, 2010


Have you all seen me on TV3 today and read my name in Metro, Berita Harian, Sinar harian for the past two days?

Yes, I was pretty busy these two days. Busy attending to calls and interviews with them reporters.

Not long ago it was with FIDAF pouring milk and now with FMD.

Actually I never like myself being interviewed by reporters, more so with the camera on.

I am not a politician. I am just a governemnt servant trying to do his best, under numerous constraints, to provide a good veterinary services to the clients.

It is now a trend with a few of my farmers to call in reporters, either Sinar harian or TV3, whenever their animals fall sick. This time it is Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).

Whenever there was an outbreak, they claimed that many of their cattle succumbed to the disease. This time the figure quickly inflated, from 2 to 15 in a matter of minutes dpending on who reported the incidence and in the presence of who?

Oh please! I have been dealing with FMD since I first joined service, way back in 1981 and I know for a fact cattle do not die like flies whenever they get FMD.

I was veri irritated reading published news in local dailies saying that, in one incident, 60 heads of cattle died of FMD. That kind of death is only possible with Hemorrhagic septicemia or acute poisoning, never FMD!

The figures are just given off the cuff with the hope of getting a compensation from the government.

From my observation over the years clinical signs of FMD among our local cattle are decreasing in severity and if not left untreated, they will recover very fast.

The real problem is many of the owners of let-loose-free-to-roam cattle
fail to provide the barest biosecurity measures to their animals.

Their farm (if any) is never equipped with essentials like a holding yard and a crutch. These are very necessary to muster the animals for routine vaccination and other health screenings.

Our boys are ever ready to vaccinate their animals, be it on weekends, if the animals are properly rounded-up and restraint. A few of them still hope that everything is done by us.

No, this luxury is no more with us. We are severely lacking in term of personnels and vehicles to cater for these too-dependent animal owners.

Prevention is better than cure is very much applicable with FMD. Every year cattle have to be vaccinated twice and for the vaccination to be protective, 80% or more of the herd has to be covered.

Also, unvaccinated free-roaming cattle is the most risky group to be infected with FMD. When they catch the disease, they will move around spreading the disease further.

Properly managed animals with good standard of bio-security seldom get the disease.


'You are what you eat." There goes that famous quote.

I am trying to tell you how fussy I was as far as food was concerned when I was a kid. May be Fussy is not the correct word in this case. I did not choose only good, tasty, five-star food. I ate many food items that nobody would give a second look. Things like plain Bengali roti, plain rice with only salted fish roasted on amber or even boiled durian seed! May be 'difficult' is the better word.

Imagine, I would enjoy eating boiled durian seeds while others were enjoying durian flesh!

When I was in primary school, for breakfast I normally took any of these:

Spooncakes (jemput) - either with anchovies and onion (I removed the onion later) or just with plain sugar (sweet)

Pancakes (lempeng) - plain or sometimes with grated young coconut

Roti canai - no curry but just with sugar

Kayu keramat

Glutinous rice with grilled fish, grated coconut and grilled glutinous rice

For lunch:

Plain rice with deep fried fish (any of these fish species: Indian mackerel (kembong), herring Tamban), sardines (selayang), yellow-striped trevally (selar kuning), snapper (kerisi) and bonito (tongkol), grilled or fried salted fish ( I just loved still-damp salted fish (ikan mamba as we Terengganu folks called them) and very rarely chicken or beef either fried or curry.

The same for dinner.

Usually I did not like gravy or sauce on either my rice or grilled seafood or anything for that matter.

As for items that I did not like I can classify them into:

1. Food that I did not eat till today - durian and banana or their preparation, any type of porridge and all vegetables (now I force myself to take in very little vege but I never enjoy any of them except maybe mushrooms)

2. Food that I dislike but would eat if I was very hungry or just wanted to be polite - all types of cakes, steamed cookies and the extra-sweet cookies and any other soft cookies

As a hint, if you offer something to me and I decline, then it must fall into any of the two categories of food. I will not decline any food that is edible to me (rezeki jangan ditolak)

So you see, during lunch and dinner my hand and mouth were always very dry and sticky because I did not use any gravy!

When I went to boarding school, the first big problem to me was nothing else, but food!

But, slowly I began to change my food habit. I had to survive. I still remember the first category 1 food that I took was the margarine (planta). It was when we were in a hotel in KL on our way to SDAR! I was so excited that I wrote it in my first letter to mom.

The first time I tasted it, it tasted yucky. But the more I chew the thing tasted better and now bread with margarine or butter is my favourite!

Then came the curries. They were not that bad as I had feared before!

The other thing is the papaya. Before coming to SDAR I only ate semi-ripe papaya, you know the stage when it was used for making papaya salad. A senior then forced me to take the ripe papaya and thanks to him I am now a great lover of papaya!

Despite all that I still grew (though a bit skinny) and managed to reach 5 foot 10, the national standard for US men, and was quite intelligent came to think of it.

Now I think I am more of a carnivore...I eat a lot of meat (all the halal meat of course) and fish (except keli and patin) and very little vegetables. I am trying my best to change, but make very little progress.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


At first we expected 100 participants to register. But after a mass promotion through newspaper, here they come, nearly three hundred of them.

Our hall can only house 150 at the most. So thanks to our neighbours, RTM, they allowed us to organize the course in their multipurpose hall.

So the first Swiftlet management course for the year was moved to RTM's multipurpose hall. Sorry for having to remove your shoes, folks, that is their rule!

The topics that will be presented today include:

Swiftlet GAHP


Import Export procedures

Swiftlet raising - a business - by Director DVS Terengganu

Swiftlet diseases and sampling

The course will be officially closed by YB Dato' Chuah Boon Seong, ADUN Mentakab on behalf of YB Dato' Hoh Kai Mun at 4.30 this afternoon.


She fell down hard on the tiled verandah floor as she missed the chair that she was trying to sit.

'It was very painful, and I could not move my right thigh,' she complained to Roseyati (Su Ti), mys sister who happened to be there at the time.

It was Friday, almost prayer's time. Most males were either in the mosque or working (that was me).

My mother could not move at all. There was very little option except to call the ambulance. Very smart move by the women folks.

The ambulance came fast. The very understanding and empathetic medical personnels in the ambulance were quick to act to move my mother into the van.

Off they went to Kemaman Hospital. My mother was examined by a doctor and x-rayed. Nothing seemed broken. Bruised thigh muscles most probably.

She was presribed some analgesics for her pain and allowed home despite my mother's asking to be warded.

"There's nothing broken. So there is no need for Tok wan to be warded,' explained a very friendly nurse.

I only received the news ten minutes after I arrived home from work. The message was simple and clear: Mother fell down. Brought to hospital, nothing broken and was discharged. Please visit mother tonight.

When I arrived half an hour later, there she was on her favourite lazy chair with stacks of sofa cushions as her bed.

She looked to be in great pain. She was more scared than anything, at least to me. Scared that she could not walk, just like my dad next door.

She was all skin and bones, not much fat in her body. She used her left leg to bring up her right leg whenever she wanted to move around. She did it on her bottoms, moving to the bathroom for her ablution.

Last night I received another message from Su Ti. This time it said that my mother was getting worst.

I rushed to her side and found blue bruises getting larger in size on the inner side of her right thigh. The doctor was right, she had bruised her thigh muscles.

I hugged her ever so softly as she complained that her grandson had carried her so hard that her axilla areas were sore. Her wrinkled face reminded me of my Tok Wan.

I gently asked her to move her right leg just to be sure. She did it. She asked me how lung would such an injury would heal. I said may be two to three weeks.

I left her as she was preparing for her Isya' prayers. She was so disciplined as far as her prayers were concerned. We all pray that she would be ok fast.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


My grandmother, or just Tok Wan to us all, never mentioned about her mother. Then just before she passed away many many years ago, she asked my mother to pay for her mother's pilgrimage to Mecca.

She told my mother that her mother's name was Sharifah Fatimah Zaharah. She was from either Beserah or Balok.

She was married to one En. Musa and after marriage they moved to Besut. She passed away when my grandmother was still a small girl.

It is pity that only recently that I knew this piece of information. I know that it will be just like looking for a needle in a hay stack looking for her descendants in Pahang.

The urge to find my roots is getting stronger now.

My mother also told me that when she was still around, many of her distant relatives begged her to visit them in Beserah, but she declined. She was very conscious of her 'poorness'.

It was then that my mother knew that Syed Noh was also her relative.

When we were living in Alor Akar Police Filed Force camp in the early sixties, she used to meet a man who later told her that they were related. That man was known then as Pak Awang. He told my mother that he felt a crtain bonding between them two.

So, if any of you reading this blog who happen to know anyone who is realted to Sharifah Fatimah Zaharah or her desendants, please tell me.
I really look forward to meet them just to finish my family tree puzzle!


I was a fan of the Incredible Hulk long before movies were made from the comic character. In fact back then I read many editions of the Incredible Hulk comic books.

Khalid Bulat, my one-year junior, knew this well. He was very fond of mimicking Hulk's transformation, or was it metamorphosis?

Who can forget Banners famous words..Don't make me wouldn'nt like it when I'm angry."

Besides Hulk, the other super heroes I was glued to include the Rawhide Kid, The Iron Man, Fantastic Four, G.I. Joe, Batman, Superman, Thor etc etc

Beanos and Dandy were another comic book series that I collected a lot then. Pity that I had lost all of these comic books...Some say they would fetch a handsome price now, especially if they were of the limited or special edition.


My late aunt's (Mak Long) house in Lorong 3, Kg Besut (adjacent to SMU Al-Falah) fast became the centre of curious television viewers from the neighbouring houses. It was our television set brought there from Perak when my parents decided I be left in Kemaman to continue my studies.

It was, if my memory is right, somewhere in 1964. At the time Terengganu just began getting tv services and not many folks owned a tv set at the time.

I remember seeing so many people watching tv programmes at night in my aunt's house. She graciously placed the tv set in the hall where many people could sit and enjoy the programmes.

Many funny incidents happened during these tv viewing sessions. I do not mean to make fun of them, but just to highligh the realities back then.

One came from my grandmother. She was puzzled seeing cartoon series for the first time that she asked,"Where are these people from?"

"Wan, there are not people. They are cartoons," replied Zaimah, my cousin.

We all burst into laughter and so too my grandma.

At the time there a was long family drama that was liked by all of us, including my aunt and my grandma. It was Peyton's Place. Despite them not understanding a word of English, they knew the storyline and even knew the characters by name, names like Norman.

There was also this girl by the name of Zaitun, the same age as me, but she studied in an English medium school. She was so uppity that she thought that she was the only one there who understood English. More than once we got ourselves in heated debates about the meanings of some words in certain series.

Little that she knew even at the time, my English was quite good, perhaps better than hers.

That time it was still black and white. My favourite series included Dangerman, The Fugitives, Honeywest, Peyton's Place, The Saint, High Charparral, All in The Family, etc.


Below are some riddles tha I could still remember for you all to test your cerebral cortex and find the answers.

1. What is it that when you forget, you bring it along, but when you remember, you leave it behind?

2. What is it that when you want it, you throw it, but when you do not want it, you keep it?

3. Can you name the three practices (Islamic practices) that have the following conditions:

a. In is ok, but no out
b. No in and no out
c. No in, but it is ok out

Give them a try and give me the answers if you have found the answers.


'What are we having for dinner tonight grandma?"

'Ikan goreng dengan sayur cemperai. Su Cikgu beri ikan kelisa pagi tadi."

Wow! Deep fried Arowana! Can you imagine having a few thousand ringgit fish for lunch!

Yes, that was true way back in the sixties. Arowanas were just like any other river fish. They were caught either by line fishing or usng fish traps.

I remember fishing for them in Sungai Ibok using 'umbut kelapa' as bait. All you had to was to throw the line with the bait and slowly pulled it. In no time you would catch a few arowanas.

While fishing I witnessed a sight that I would never forget. You might not believe this.

A baby short-taile macaque (beruk) was playing on a small branch very close to the surface of the river. Suddenly a huge arowana, with its silvery scales clearly seen, surfaced and jumped towards the baby monkey.
In a few seconds, the baby monkey was in its huge mouth and as fast it surfaced, it disappeared in the plain-tea-coloured river.

That was how voracious an arowana was then. But now, arowanas are kept as good-luck bringung pets in houses of the rich and super-rich. Nobody in his or her right mind uses them as food!

Back to the day where arowanas were eaten almost daily by the folks near rivers where they were abound. When deep fried, their scales were crispy and had that distinct plain flavour.

I still remember how they were hunted down by many when they fetched very good price, was it in the eighties?

People, small and big, young and old thronged the then shallow Ibok river looking for arowanas. At the time a two-inch aroawans could easily be sold for RM100!

As always, due to their over hunting, now they are almost extinct from many rivers in Terengganu.

A little bit about cemperai. It is a herb gathered from the secondary forest. Its shoot were delicious when made into soups or cooked with coconut milk. I rarely see them sold in markets nowadays.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


A friend used to bring 'sambal tumis' something to school after the vacation. He was kind enough to share with us his delicacy from home.

Having a voracious appetite and still hungry fro home-cooked tit-bits, soon we all were busy gobbling down the 'sambal tumis' with the famous Bengali roti.

It was very delicious. When we were full and burping, then he broke the secret.

"You know what you have eaten just now?"

"Sambal tumis udang!"

"Are you sure?"

"Of course, we are sure...sambal udang petai!"

"No, it was sambal belalang!"


Everybody look at him. Some even ran to the bathroom, puked.

For me, I kinda guessed that it was not prawn, but did not know what it was.

Actually I used to eat grasshoppers before, but not in such an amount. All I ever did was eat one or two rice field green grasshoppers grilled over open fire.

In Islam, grasshoppers are one of the few halal creatures that we can eat without having to slaughter them, just like fishes, crabs and squids.

Now, with globalization, everybody knows that in Tahiland they eat everything, right from sago crawlies, roaches, scorpions, grasshoppers , etc etc.


Watching elegant Blue-throated bee eaters flying in the azure sky and with the afternoon zephyr blowing so gently, is just like watching poetry in motion.

I am always amazed and fascinated by these birds, especially when they perch on telephone lines and watch for the flying bees passing by. The minute they see bees flying by, they will immediately took to the air and give them a chase.

Most often I see them flying back to the telephone line with bees and sometimes dragonflies in their sharp beak.

Watching them hunting bees brings back memories of my childhood where I used to dig up their nests looking for their eggs.

Strangely, and don't ask me why, they themselves are not edible but their eggs are ok (just like turtles).

They normally dig holes just enough for them to fly through deep inside bris soil to lay eggs and bring up chicks.

They were very agitated, flying here and there, sometimes swooping down at our heads as we were robbing their nests.

We also were very fond of catching them by using a loop of string placed at the entrance of their nest. They would get trapped as soon as they flew away from the nest.

When caught, we tied the leg and then let it go, flying high into the blue sky. After once or twice the string broke and off it went flying free.

Monday, January 11, 2010


I'm neither an engineer nor an architect, but from what I have seen, read and knew for a fact, our building industry (particularly government building) is in trouble.

I have yet to see for a long time now, a government building, be it as simple as school computer lab, completed perfectly in time and quality.

I remember long time ago, in the early eighties to be exact, a demolition contractor found it very difficult to demolish a class H quarters. Why? Because it was built of according-to-specification concrete. The wall was so solid that the contractor had to work extra hard to have it in rubbles.

Unlike many of the the present government buildings, the wall are so shabbily built that a karate blow will knock it down to dusts (more sand than cement).

But, the cost of constructing one is way high above its real cost. ????


As of today, 11 January 2010, I have got just another 105 more days to serve the department. Beginning 16 June I will be on long leave prior to my official retirement on 22 July 2010.

Many people asked me why I choose to retire at 56 whereas I can do so at 58. Some said why not just wait it out till I am 58. A few even asked me why, after being awarded the Dato'ship, I still want to go.

I told them I want to rest. I want to have more time to myself and to my family; more time to do what I like to do, without having to go through all the stresses and strains of being a head department.

"Are you going into business Dato'?"

"No! I'm not."

On my retirement day I would have been working in the department for 29 years 2 months and 5 days, in a variety of positions. I have served under six Director Generals - Thuraisingam, Osman Din, Ahmad Mustaffa Babjee, Nordin Mohd Noor, Hawari Hussein, and Aziz Jamaludin.

I have seen how the poultry industry grows, from a backyard into a vertical integrated industry, with the help of our locally-produced poultry vaccines.

I have seen how a disease nearly wiped out our pig industry and I have been greatly frustrated how someone else found the virus whereas our boys, me including risked our lives in combatting the disease.

I have also seen how deadly H5N1 was, and am so proud of our achievement in confronting the disease head-on and preventing the disease from spreading and finally eradicating it.

All in all, I am satisfied with my achievement so far, though deep inside I would like it very much to continue serving as a pathologist in the laboratory.

Better late than never, I am going into pathology more seriously as soon as I retire. I'm going to teach the budding veterinarians all that I have stored in my grey matter. I want to give them all before senility erases them all from my cerebral cortex.

Writing is another thing I am passionate about that I am going to continue. I hope to finish the three novels that I had started and a few more that is still in my mind.

So please, I will retire but I will not stop working. As long as I could, I will make myself useful and I will improve all that I have been lacking in preparing for that day.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Very early morning, 4.00 am to be exact, there I was driving in the wee morning drizzle on my way to Putrajaya to listen to Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industries' new year speech.

Barely a kilometer from my house, I had to suddenly swerve the car just to avoid some huge buffalo droppings on the road. A few seconds later I had to push on the brakes hard and the car screeched to a stop just a few metres away from a group of a dozen or more casually-walking-along-the-road buffaloes.

They were smart, these mud-wallowing cloven-hoofed creatures, coming out only at night when the weather was cooler and staying well hidden during daytime in the secondary jungles around Bukit Mentok.

They were hemmed in by rapid housing development in the area. Their usage as beast of burden had been lost and now they were kept just as walking-banks for times of need by their owners.

I rarely saw their owners tending their animals. But, they told me that they knew which ones were theirs. Their rule is simple, they knew the cows and bulls, so all those that follow them are theirs!

The presence of the droppings along the road revealed their presence nearby. They are the buffaloes, the animals that many Kemaman folks still prefer as beef, especially during festive seasons.

Then, barely a kilometre away, again I had to slow down. This time it was a group of six wild pigs crossing the road. They must be returning from their nightly scavenging of rubbish bins looking for easy food left by humans.

They were two sows and five young ones jogging in a straight line across the road straight into the bush.

Of late they or their relatives had made headline news when they went on rampage attacking and goring people, one of which in broad day light in front of a food joint in Kampung Besut!

They did that for a reason. Some said as a revenge for poachers who had shot them. Some people prefer their meat over their domesticated cousins. Why? Their meat is leaner, meaning less fat, but careful, they may harbour those nasty parasite, cysticercus.

Recently an American tourist was hospitalised and diagnosed with cysticercosis, meaning there was a long tapeworm in his gut.He told the doctors that a week ago he enjoyed wild pig barbecue with a hill tribe in Thailand.

Besides the two near mishaps, the drive was smooth and we arrived safely and early in Putrajaya. We even had time for breakfast at the canteen where we were joined by Rafi who looked very familiar (we were together in Teengganu) and later by Dato' Suhaimi.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


It is the hottest topic debated all over Malaysia now. The high court has overruled the decision banning of the use of Allah made earlier by the Interior Ministry.

Muslims and Non-Muslims citizens of Malaysia both have conflicting views. Some were against the idea, while the others were all for it, even among the Muslims.

It is strange, I mean the split views.

Ideally, at least for me, as there is no God except ALLAH, it seems right for the Non-Muslims to use it if they really want.

But, are the Non-Muslims really want to use the word ALLAH because they like the word so much (which I don't think so) or because they have ulterior motives.

Motives like they want to sway weak-faithed Muslims (many of them nowadays, even among those who professed that they are Muslims but choose only those rules suited to them and rubbish those that they think restrict them) and become them?

I know, there are modern Muslims who said that why should we be scared of allowing the use of the word. We should not be afraid if we have confidence in Islam.

Oh yes, I have very great confidence in Islam, without which I will not be a good Muslim. Everybody knows this. But have we forgotten Allah's reminder that there those who will never be happy and will work hard and never stop swaying Muslims till we become them?

Those who agree say that with the use of the word, they will undertsand us better and may be many more people will embrace Islam. Sounds so nice and pure. Just like the point made when they say do not force women to put on clothes that cover their aurat; by doing so hopefully more people will embrace Islam. They have lived in hope ever since!

Only ALLAH can open their heart and embrace Islam; all we can do is try our best.

My experience tells me that the best way is not by mere talking, but by showing the way Islam should be lived. Islam is the way of life. It covers every aspect of our lives, this world and the hereafter.

The way we raise our children, the way we eat, the way we do congregational prayers, the way we treat our spouses, the way we respect our elders, the way we love or youngsters, etc etc will for sure attract other to embrace Islam.

I have personally met people embracing Islam after they saw how we eat together, pray together and they were very impressed when they saw my wife cooked three times a day for our meals and my daughter asked our permission to go on a class camping trip!

Please think it again, for the sake of our children. It is true that there is no compulsion for someone to embrace Islam, but once you are a Muslim, you have to follow everything that is expected of you and not doing anything that is forbidden.

Say ALLAH is one.AlLAH is the place to seek help. ALLAH has no children and not the child of anyone. There is no one similar or like Him.


Arif (my nephew) did not believe me when I told him that when I was a kid I used to play around with those big red centipedes and scare girls with them.

It was true, centipedes were so common those days that I was not scare of them at all. All I had to do was to snip off its fangs with a pair of scissors and it would then be harmless.

I remember being bitten by one centipede when I was sleeping in my grandma's house in Kg Tuan, Kemaman.

The wooden house had nipah attap. At nights my late aunt, who was a great cookies maker, she used to place grilled sardines in beteen the nipah attap for safe keeping.

The grilled fish, through its aroma, would normally attract centipedes around it. I used to see four or five amber coloured giant centipedes crowding the fish to get bites of the succulent fish flesh!

That night I slept on the wooden floor right under the part of the roof where the grilled fish was kept. Most probably one of the centipedes fell down onto my body and my movement caused it to bite my arm.

The arm was swollen in no time. It was very painful no doubt, but my grandma was there to get rid of excessive pain by saying a few words and sprayed betel leaves fluid into the puncture wounds.

Centipedes come in two different forms. One is amber red (they called it amber centipede (lipan bara) and the other is dark blue (ground centipede (lipan tanah). Both are equally nasty.

Then there was also giant scorpions. They too came in various forms and sizes. It was the giant, green scorpions that attracted me most. At nights they came crawling out of their hideouts looking for food.

Despite their scary appearance, I was also very fond of catching them and snipping off their fang (at the end of its tail). With their fangs removed, I could play with them without getting myself stung.

Then there were also a kind of mushroom normally found on damp or wet surfaces. These mushrooms emitted green light at night. We boys used to collect and paste them on our foreheads and ran around the village at night.

Well, those were some things that we children used to play back then. There were no tv and lap tops then.

Monday, January 4, 2010


It seemed so very very long ago that I first went to school. It was in 1961 in Sekolah Kebangsaan Galing, Kuantan (Galing Elementary School, Kuantan). It was all hazy now, but all I can say is that I did not cry that day!

My mother can vouch on this. In fact I was all very excited to attend school. I was tossing and turning all night long the night before.

I did not go to preparatory school (kindergarten) before...there was no such thing back then.

So too were my siblings and children. None cried or insisted that their parents stayed with them during the first few days of school. In fact mine did not even want me to stay longer than necessary in school!

Why then even now there are still grade 1 students crying in class or worst still wanting their parents to stay?

Why is it so?