Monday, May 31, 2010


It is just fascinating how our teenagers communicate and get in touch with with each other nowadays.

It was unimaginable that getting in touch with one another was that simple when I grew up. More so when I had to lead a nomadic life during my ealy years, that was from 1961-1965. Imagine, I had to go to six different primary schools in three different states during that period.

The result? I have lost contact with most of my primary school classmates.
But that was not the case with my children. They are still in contact with their primary one friends even when they finish university!

Reunion is just within a click away for them. But not for me, I have to search high and low for friends and so far found only a handful of them around.

When I was in the secondary school, I subscribed to an International Youth Club and because of that I had pen-pals from thirteen different countries!
But I soon found out that writing to everyone was not only a chore but outright expensive.

Soon I stopped writing to any of them, a fact that I regretted very much. Just imagine if there were such things as Internet, Facebook, Twitter and Friendster then? Our friendship would for sure continue till now.

Recalling back to the list of pen pals that I had, there was this girl from Italy that I particularly liked. She was one Ariella Tritremmel. I wonder how she looks right now.

Then there was this Hermia Pong from Hong Kong. She was really looking forward to come to Malaysia then.

The funiest of them was a girl from Sri Langka, a Muslim. She insisted that I did not write my name on the envelope. Why? Her father would for sure confiscated my letter if he knew that a boy wrote to her daughter!

Coming back to the present world, all my children, they have their own facebook and they are in constant communication with each other and they even have their own circle of friends in the cyber world.

Diyana is still communicating with her standard two friends!


Much have been said and discussed about the danger of food shortage with global warming phenomena and the population explosion.

Food scientist have issued warnings that food production is not in tandem with population growth.

Global warming is also causing harm to the world food production.

I agree that we should be wary of the food securit issue, but I guess we have overlooked on the food demand side.

I am no food security expert, but little has been said about our wasteful way consuming food. We waste too much good food, in receptions and even in our own house!

Have you ever wondered how many tons of good food is rubbished after each dinner function? A lot. Just visit any joint after a big dinner or luncheon. You will see so much good food being wasted.

These rubbished food can feed an entire orphanage!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Strangely they come almost at the same time. I mean the Football World Cup in South Africa, The Malacca 2010 SUKMA and of course my Pre-retirement long leave.

All the events above have its own significance in my life. World cup football, oh everybody just love and can't wait to see all those great goals and poetry in motion with great players like Messi, Ronaldinho and many more!

SUKMA, ah my boy Syazwan will be playing rugby for the second SUKMA. This time he will be playing for Perak instead of Pahang.

And my pre-retirement long leave will start on the 16 June.

The countdown for the three major events have long started. Just cannot wait to see my boy in action, football players playing their best to make sure their country wins and of course to take a break after the long 29 years plus service in DVS!

To Allah I pray that I am blessed with good health, physically and mentally and spiritually too to prepare for the third phase of my life - the golden era (Warga Emas age!)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I don't know about you, but at this age I tend to be very sensitive and outrageously emotional over small things.

Now I realized why bosses behave the way they did when I was a young officer.

At home I am so easily riled by my wife's small commentaries. Yes, those words about how she has to do everything in the house and about no one giving her a hand. I do offer her help sometimes, but as usual with most men, being overly tired is the most used excuse

She is very very particular about the house being spic and span and will not stop sweeping, mopping and rearranging the house. She always insists that drinking mugs be immediately washed after use, much to our displeasure.

"We'll wash it later." That was our answer.

No, she will not take that for an answer. She wants them in the sink and washed there and then!

The same thing goes to our attire, be it working outfit, school uniforms or even casual wear. She will not have us wear even slightly wrinkled t-shirt!

She is always smartly dressed lady, just ask our neighbours. She puts on her baju kurung even when she goes out to dry out her daily washings!

Well, that's my wife and their mom!

On weekends I would like very much to have my hair dry and not greasy with Brylcream...but she will not have me looking as if I have just woke up from sleep!

At times our feelings are hurt by our actions. She can suddenly has her mood swung into another direction, less desirable direction.

Initially I feel hurt too, but later I realized that I just have to be patient with her. She is tired, dead tired after carrying out her daily chores day in and day out for more than a quarter century now.

We can stop talking to each other for a day or two (never more than three days though!). This morning I took her to the hospital after a silent night between us. I missed my seminar just to be with her.

She was ok. Her blood sugar was a wee bit high but was under control. We exchanged good-bye kisses as I left her for my office.

I still remember my former DG, Dr Ahmad Mustaffa Babjee's wise words: "You two can have small will be so sweet after such fights!"


Like always, people here in Malaysia plan their wedding reception so that it will fall during school holidays.

Now that school holidays is coming very soon, and so is wedding invitations.

Last Saturday, that was on 22 May, my wife and I attended two wedding receptions in Kuantan.

First was Dato' Ghani's daughter's wedding reception in Permatang Badak. The Sultanah and Tengku Mahkota of Pahang were the royal guests. I met three fellow sdaras.

Dato' Ghani, the former SS Pahang, was the doyen of Sdaras. I will always make it a point to attend his functions.

Just as we left Dato' Ghani's function, menacing dark rain clouds were up there in Kuantan sky.

We rushed to the other wedding reception in Taman Tas. It was raining hevaily when we arrived. I was flabbergasted when I heard our names were mentioned by the MC as soon as we made it into the tent.

It was Khairudin. His strong voice was recognizable from afar.

On 5 June I have already received ten wedding invitation cards, not to mention my brother-in-laws wedding reception!

Cannot imagine how I can attend all invitations!

Friday, May 21, 2010


"Where did you learn English, Azahar?" That was the question many at Vet. Path. Dept. UGA frequently asked me, after they read my writings, either my routine pathological reports, my papers and even my thesis.

It sounds as if I am blowing my own trumpet. No, it never crosses my mind to brag about my English prowess.

It is just that I myself wonder how on earth a kampung boy like me love English so much that it just comes naturally to me.

Mind you, I spent most of my childhood in rural areas, either in rural Perak or Terengganu.

But, as far as I could remember, I was good in English since from primary school. Still remember exchanging English reading materials with one Secondary school girl by the name of Normah.

From then on my love for English was beyond compare and blossomed into something that I really looked forward very much.

In SDAR I was fortunate to have two volunteer English teachers - one a Voluteer Service teacher from England and the other a Peace Corp teacher from US.

Thus I knew both Queen's as well as American English from the start.

How did I do it? Well in a nut shell there were three ways - reading, writing and listening. You may notice that I never say speaking.

As far as reading is concerned, it started very early in my life. In fact well before I went to school. It was the words written on the first pountain that my father gave me. The words were: Made in USA. You want to know how I read them? I read it as they were spelled in Malay!

Then came newspapers, advertisements and banners. Only when I came to SDAR that I was really exposed to many English books. Back then my name was there in almost all book registration cards. I have read almost all English story books available in the library - I am not kidding.

The books also changed as I grw up. First the books were children books like Three musketeers, Don Quixote and many more; then the Spy books like James Bond, Western novels authored by Louis L"Amour, J.T Edson and many more....

Then came writing. I always love writing Essays, especially those that need our narrative skill - you know the continuing stories. After each essay homework I was always eagerly waiting for the work book to be returned by the teacher.

Why? The teacher would almost always say "Azahar did an excellent work in this topic" Classmates would always gather around me just to have a look at my essay.

My narrating skill did not just in class. It wandered of to one magazine - believe it or not, the Movie News. A few of my short stories did get published in the magazine.

New Straits Times, the Forum section was the other place where I used to send my writing. It is more of my complaints or explanation.

The most controversial letter I wrote was when I complained of the unreasonably low housing allowance for my father. His superiors called him after it came out in the paper. My father just said that it was me who wrote it and not very long after that the allowance was increased!

I was in Form six then.

Many will not believe me when I say television taught me alot about English, especially in understanding spoken English and learning new big English words and phrases.

I was always hooked to tv programmes, even when I was in the final year DVM! All English series, be it detective stories like Kojak, Hawaii Five O, A Team, comedies like All In The Family, dramas like Peyton's Place etc etc I just watched them all.

I was also intrigued with documentaries. Pharses like "it is always human's nature to bend nature to fulfill his goal..." always fascinate me.

Sadly, now the standard of English in school is deteriorating, to say the least.

I hope the authorities will do something quick to stop this and so that we can be proud once again of our citizens' mastery of English.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Syafiq is recuperating from ILI. The fever, the general malaise and the dyspnoea are gone but the coughing persists. He was scared when he first contracted the disease.

He texted me: "Is ILI fatal? What is ILI dad?"

I told him that it was Influenza Like Illness. His blood tests showed that he was H1N1 negative. Thanks Allah for that. His mom is planning to prepare yellow glutionous rice for that!

Diyana is complaining of sore throat and nausea. At the clinic the doctor said that she was under great stress and strain. Well, may be it was her works, especially her boss.

Syazwan is still in Perak, undergoing centralized training for the coming SUKMA in Malacca. This time around he will be playing for Perak, instead of Pahang.

He lacerated his eyelid in a rugby brawl. It did not require stithches though.

We are ok in our house. I still have that bowel problem though. The gas, the frequent evacuation and of course the hemorrhoids.

In a week's time our house will once again be busy with siblings and relatives who will congregate for Kamal's weddibng reception in his in-laws' house.

In 17 days I will start my long pre-retirement leave. Aziz told me verbally that I got the post, but asked me to wait for the offer letter.

As usual, I am not good at keeping secrets. I soon divulged this supposed-to-be secret to all.

Syazwan said that soon my name will be longer. Syafiq and Diyana congratulated me for my success in securing the job.

Today Mokhtar called asking me of my plan after retirement. He told me that he will be joining UMK this 1 June.

Well, what about me? UDM or UMK? Most probably I will optr for UDM but Azam will surely hate me for this.

Sorry, at this point of time, I will choose the job that is easy for me and does not caues too much stress and strain.

So I choose Universiti Darul Iman!


I arrived in KT at around 12.15, just in time for the famous Yunan Chicken rice in Batu Buruk.

After the delicious chicken rice and Zuhur prayers at the nearby mosque off we went to UDM. We were surprised when one of the guards led us to s pecial parking place in front of the chancellory.

I was early. It was only 1.40. The interview was at 2.30 instead of 2.00 as I was told. There were four names on the list. One of them I knew. He was from IBVK Jerantut.

I was the first to be interviewed. It was more of a get-to-know session rather than a real interview. It went smoothly and from the look of things I got it.

Happy with the interview I called Yusof Nong and Jalil Md Zin for a th-tarik session somewhere.

Only Yusof Nong replied. We met at a food joint in Batu Burok. We have not met since 1972! He brought along his only and one daughter, She was so shy that I failed to get her to talk.

As we parted he gave Ramli Musa a call. So Ramli and I met over in Restoran Lempeng for its famous lempeng nyor.

Ramli was now the Principal of SMK Merchang. He reminded me of the time when I was the judge of a science competition many many years ago. His school won a place then.

I reached home very happy and slept peacefully throughout the night.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Whenever you find cashew trees you are bound to find cashew fruits strewn all over the ground underneath the tree.

Whenever you find busily fruiting un-owned cashew trees along major roads you will find lorries and cars stopping by to pick up cashew fruits.

The cashew season is in, but cashew trees are not as numerous as they used to be when I was growing up.

Cashew fruits come in two clours - yellow and red. The more common one is the yellow variety. The red type, well I have not seen it in ages.

The fruits are not so nice as their seeds, of course. They are somewhat bitter and rarely sweet. I find out that usually the crinkled smallish ones are sweeter and crunchier.

Be careful of their can stain your shirt and the stain is not washable.

Cashew fruits are usually julianned (that is after they are squeezed out of the juice) and cooked with coconut milk mixed with squids. They are delicious, according to my wife.

I will go back in the life cycle of cashews. First is the sprouting of cashew shoots. They are favourites among many. They are usually consumed raw dipped in hot sambal or a mixture of fish paste (budu).

Then come the fruits.

When all the fruits are gone, people will go out searching for the seeds. They are dried under the sun for some time just to make sure that they are dried.

After that they are roasted (please see my earlier entry where I narrated the SOP of cashew nut roasting).

Cashew nuts, well everybody loves them. However, there are people who believe that eating cashew nuts is not good for memory!


They were the sons of my cousin neighbour and his friends from surrounding villages.

They had built a movable ping-pong table and depending on the weather, they placed the table either just to the left of our main gate when the weather is fine or in Yaacob's house compound when it rains.

They realy play ping-pong,these boys. The bright street light and the night breeze makes playing fun. Boys being boys, they play with ernest and interspersed with words such as 'natang mu' (you animals) and 'bodo' (moron).

The words are just that, nothing in them. They are just the way kids communicate and stress their points between one another. They are the way Tranung kids express themselves.

The husband of my other cousin always asks me why I allow the ruckus to go on in front of my house. I say it is ok. It is far better for them to play and make some noise rather than they going around on motorbikes endangering themselves as well as other road users.

For me, they are just like security guards guarding our houses from unwanted persons from intruding.

I told them go on playing but plaese do not litter. They promise not to do so, but a peek into the drain reveals there are rubbish in it.

Once I even allowed them into my house compound to get the mangoes. They ask me when the sight of relatives picking the fruits is just too much for them not to ask.

They came in, climb the mango tree and came out with lots of green mangoes in their t-shirts turned into bags.

They are still playing and guarding, these boys!


16 May is always remembered by many as the Teachers' day. I attended the Selera Pahang Dinner organized by the State Pahang in conjunction with the 2010 National Teachers' Day celebration held in Dewan Jubilee Perak, Kuantan.

It was indeed a huge dinner. The entire hall was packed with teachers and guests.

In conjunction with this year's teachers' day celebration I would like to dedicate this to one very outstanding teacher, the greatest teacher of them all (at least to the magnificient nine) - Chikgu Yong.

When the nine of us were selected to represent SK Pusat Kemaman in the special examination to select students for fully residential schools (SBP), he went all out giving us extra classes to see us through the exam.

Still fresh in my mind how he kept on changing our tuition centres just to make sure that nothing disturbed our focus and attention.

First it was in his house, then his children were too much of a distraction, He then moved our tuition place to scout's room.

Out of his dedication and zealousness all the nine of us were selected to SBP and the rest is history.

This morning, like many other mornings, once again I met him at Kemaman Hospital. He was walking ever so slowly, almost staggering at times, to a seat next to me outside the outpatient department.

It was still very early and the hospital's door was not yet opened.

What amazed me was his excellent eyesight. He knew me from twenty metres away!

While seating in the waiting area he saw his nephew (his late wife's niece). She was a Chinese lady. I was of course flabbergasted by his introduction.

As usual, I started to probe into his personal life. He then told me that his late wife was a Chinese adpoted by a Malay family. So, that Chinese lady was in fact the daughter of his wife's sister.

He also told me that his mother was also an adopted Chinese. Back then (according to him) Chinese will only give away their daughters to be adopted and Malays would only adopt Chinese girls.

His niece's husband told me that they were still very close because of their blood ties.

Chikgu Yong also concluded that that was the best way for the ethnic groups in Malaysia to live together, much better than the now-hailed 1 Malaysia concept.

So, Chikgu Yong, we all would like to say: TO SIR WITH LOVE and may you continue to be in good health.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

MVP - Malaysian first animal vaccine producer

It began with Prof. Aini's PhD work on Newcastle Disease. She and Prof. Latiff were working with V4, heat-tolerant ND virus.

ND is a devastating poultry disease that can kill as high as 100% of unvaccinated chickens within a matter of days. I have seen my mother's village chickens falling dead from their roosting place, just like that. Ok a day before and dead a day later.

Vaccinated chickens are normally protected, but it is always almost impossible to catch and vaccinate free-roaming village chicken.

So with this problem a new idea was born. Why not come up with a vaccine that is heat-tolerant? That was how V4 ND vaccine came about.

The then Prime Minister was very impressed with the discovery and asked for it to be commercialized. At that particular time there was no company in the nation that was involved in vaccine production. So, MVP (Malaysian Vaccine and Pharmaceuticals company was born).

The vaccine was proven very effective and exported to many African and Asian countries.

The strange thing was that Malaysians at first were not very confident with our own vaccine. They still trust more the imported vaccines. I hope with time and after they have looked at the efficacy of the vaccine used in foreign countries, they will fully support our cheaper but more effective vaccine!

The recent seminar highlighted one main issue - the very long time taken from the birth of the idea to finally produce the vaccine commercially. As in this case, it took them 12 years!

The other issue is lack of fund for such a research. Government as well as the industry players should make it their social obligation to help by allocating certain percentage of their profit to R&D works.


Time really flies as the countdown to my retirement begins. I do not have that much time anymore. There are still places I have to visit before I call it a day.

Top of the list is of course my laboratory, the place where I spent 6 long years, perfecting my histopathology skills.

The laboratory, now called The Northern Veterinary Laboratory, is the brainchild of my staffs and me. Together we disccussed and thought it over and finally came up with the design.

As if fulfilling my wish, there was a 1 Malaysia seminar in Kuala Terengganu on 6 May. After the seminar I dropped by DVS Terengganu office to meet a few friends.

Then straight to Penang via the East-West highway. I reached Bukit Mertajam at 10.00 pm and after a simple dinner checked-in into Summit Hotel.

The laboratory was indeed something worth remembering. From afar it looked grand, but the colour and the landscape needed change and upkeeping. It should have been painted with a vibrant colour instead of the dull unconvincing colour. The landscape was bare and the grass should have been cow-grass instead of non-descript species admixed with Mimosa gigantica.

A quick briefing by Dr Marzuki explained it all. No matter what, the top management should look into this matter seriously for the sake of the image of the department.

I then spent more than three hours walking-about the entire lab. There were still vacant posts unfilled.

Most of what I had planned were there, except the negative pressure rooms, the PM gallery, the animal house and the staff quarters. The so-called air-conditioned corridor was there too.

At last they have carried out PCR! They have bought a brand new RM200,000 ++ Real-time PCR!

Despite of the not-so-good finishing, at leats they built the coving and in some rooms the elbow-operated pipes!

The staffs looked cheerful working in their new lab. Muniandy seemed very happy. So too were others.

The lab has a new name - The Northern Veterinary lab. I wonder whether this is appropriate.

The PM room was not as I had wanted. the PM tables were too low for comfort. But the gas machine was great and so too was the incinerator.

The old lab buildings were still there, overgrown with bushes. They had not been demolished for lack of fund, so I was told.

Overall, I was happy that finally the lab that we all designed was completed. All that is needed now is the right people to man it, to bring it to the standard it was first thought of.

After the tour I visited Taman Pauh. Mak Cik Putih's house was locked. The jejawi tree that I was forced to leave was still there, in front of mr old house and so was the stall selling a variety of lauk. The new masjid was huge.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


My wife was crying as soon as she received the call from a still-sobbing Izan, her sister-in-law, from Kg Tempoyang, Lipis.

Ali, her brother, was no more with us. He has passed away so suddenly at around 6 in the evening after complaining of a fever for a few days.

It was just last Friday that we talked on the phone. He was laughing all the way telling me that he could not make it to Kamal's Nikah ceremony as Izan was not well, but promised us that they all would come in June, during Kamal's wedding reception.

Life is very fragile. We never know when our turn will come. Seemingly healthy people may just passed away suddenly while those who chronically ill stay on for a long time. So never say that we are still healthy and will live for a long time...

We all rushed to Kg Tempoyang the next morning in three cars. Appandi braved on despite his bad eyes and lack of sleep.

We all just wanted to be with the family, to see Ali for the last time and to share the great sorrow the family was confronting.

When we arrived at Kg Tempoyang's masjid, the body was ready for burial. They were just waiting for us to arrive to see him for the last time. That we all did. My wife gently kissed her brother's cheek and forehead.

YB Dato' Abdul Rahman, ADUN for Padang Tengku was there and so many many people who knew Ali in his life.

From many they told me that Ali was a very good man, difficult to find another man like him. "Nobody prepares tea like him!" the YB said.

We were surprised to see so many people came to pay their last respect to Ali. They came in all throughout last night and that day when he was laid to rest.

His three grown son did all the burial procedures under the able instruction of his brother-in-law. They carried their father's body into the grave and placed ever gently their father's body into the liang lahad.

Back in Ali's home, we all sat and talked for we have not since each other for quite a long time. Tears were still in the eyes of many of Ali's children. Shila was especially sad as she would be married soon.

Abang Long, in his laughter, understood that as the eldest he had a great responsibility to be the man of the house and take care of all.

They two youngest children seemed to be the hardest hit by Ali's departure. We took turn playing with them to make them temporarily forget their sadness.

With heavy hearts we all left Kg Tempoyang at 3 in the afternoon despite my wife's plea to stay on for the night.

Al-Fatihah brother Ali, may you be blessed by Allah and placed amongst His beloveds. Amen.

Monday, May 3, 2010


The lower Congo River is very treacherous because of its huge rapids with waves so big and rapids so fast that not many kayakers have made across it safely.

The rapids and the fast-flowing current make that part of the river a natural boundary for many types of fishes that live below and above it.

Only the mighty Tiger fish have been known to have the ability to swim across that part of the river where hydrologists have found out that there are canyons in the river bed beneath. Some parts have been measure to be around 750 feet deep making Congo river as the deepest river in the world.

A type of Tiger fish, called Goliath Tiger fish, is a force to reckon with in this water. It has triangular sharp teeth that will make our kitchen knives look just like toothpicks.

They are also equipped with muscles and caudal fins so formed to resist being swept aside by the swift current.

They have been reported to reach sizes up to six feet in length and 400 kg in weight!

I wonder what is its taste like.


We planned for a small reception, involving mostly siblings, relatives and close friends. We ordered food just for 60.

When they came, they really came. My wife's eldest brother, or Ayoh Long to us all, came all the way from Bandar Pusat Jengka with his wife, Kak Ton, his daughter, Rini, his son Firdaus and his fiance, Ayu in his brand new white Alza.

Then there were our usual guests, Che Soh and his family plus their latest grandson, Shapawi's first son; Cik Ani and her three daughters, Kak Long, Kak na and the ever smiling baby all the way from Seberang Takir.

Cik Ana, her husband Apandi and their two sons were there too.

Jamaliah, my wife's cousin, and her husband and mother, Mok Su Rendang came too. Mok Su Rendang was perplexed when I told her that somehow, in a round-about way we were related...too long and winded to tell here. Somehow too, Shamsiah Abu Bakar, my standard six classmate was in there too.

Pok man and his big family, De and Siti Mahfuzah and Sutie and family were also present.

All in all the house was full of people. sadly, our son, Syazwan was missing. He could not make it, or rather I advised him not to come back as he has got the exams to handle.

Our mango tree suddenly became the centre of attraction to many, especially the ladies. The mangoes were just too enticing to let go. Many of them went home with plastic bags full of mangoes.

Cik Ani prepared a very special sambal belacan using the mangoes. It was a hit with many of the guests.

When it was over, my wife and I discussed what had happened during the last weekends. She felt that the reception was somewhat blessed by Allah as it was enough for all even though at first we were afraid that it would not.

Even Kamal's in-laws and relatives, who at first did not want to come, came and were seen smiling as they were enjoying the food and knowing that we were not strangers.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


With just two tries Kamal said his ijab kabul, clearly and right from the heart, With that, they are now husband and wife, legally married.

The ceremony was held at Masjid Bukit KUang, witnessed by his siblings, minus his special brother of course, nephews and nieces. Zul, his friend and wife were there too.

It was sad that my in-laws were not with him to witness their youngest son getting married.

After the ceremony we all rushed home for a simple yet merry reception. Relatives and neighbours came in one car after another.

Our house was once again became the congregation centre for relatives. Daus and his fiance, Ayu came too.

Good luck Kamal. May you too blessed by Allah and have a happy and blissful marriage,