Monday, April 26, 2010

50 years After – Reunion 2010

Aboard Luxury Coach Being Taken around the Port

Cars Awaiting Distribution

A Container Ship Streaming To Berth

Tea at the 18th Floor, From Left: Amin, Gear, Gurdial, Azzat,Bear, Hank and Hal

Tea at the 18th Floor, From Left: TSG, Bear, Hank, and Hal

Cruising Along The Coast, From Left: TSG, Gear, Bear, Gurdial, Hank, Aji, Azzat, and Chua

Disembarked at Pulau Ketam: From Left: Gurdial, Chua, and Gear

Dinner, From Left: Gurdial, Aji, Gear

Dinner, From Left: Aji, Gear, Hank, Hal, and Amin

Farewell, From Left: Hank, Gear, Aji, Bear, Gurdial, TSG, Azzat, Amin, Chua, and Hal

On April 24, 2010, we had a reunion. This came 50 years after we set eyes on each other in 1960. In fact it all started a few months earlier, sometime at the end of 1959.

We were then a group of scraggy looking kids barely 14 years old trying our best to get into one of the best schools then there was. We had come for an interview to be accepted into Form 3 of the FMC ( Federation Military College )

It seemed there were many groups of hopeful boys that came from all over the country. We came in batches. Everyone would want to join the FMC, ( later the RMC ) many could not as the number offered was very limited.
We therefore considered ourselves very lucky just to be called for an interview, the first step. We came to P.Dickson (PD) where the College was then, certainly full of hope. For 3 days we were pitted against each other, put through a rigorous regime of a medical exam, an obstacle course, and classroom academic tests. At each stage there were ‘casualties’. Only a small number ‘survived’ who had then to go through a final interview.

It was such a thrill when I received later at home the warrant ticket, ( the first of many ) a familiar pink coloured paper that entitled me to a second class KTM ticket from KL to Seremban . (Others came from as far as Kangar, Kota Bahru or JB) Together with it were the various papers containing joining instructions signed by the then adjutant Lt.Osman Zain ( later Maj-Gen ,Datuk ) with instructions to report to the Boys Wing of the FMC.

That was where we first met in PD in 1960, 50 years ago. There were altogether 35 of us new boys in Form 3 . The next year about 27 more joined in direct into Form 4 making a total of 62 Form 4 students in 1961. The number dwindled after Form 5 in 1962, the majority joined the Cadet Wing to be groomed as young officers in the Armed Forces, some others left as a natural form of attrition, and some overseas for further studies.

Only a handful were left to continue into the Lower Sixth Form, 18 in Arts and about an equal number in Science.

Now, fast forward to April 24, 2010. Of the 18 of the HSC ‘Class of ‘64’, 16 are still around and kicking, 2 had passed on and 1 somehow is untraceable (last heard had migrated overseas some where)

The 16 comprised OPs, TSG, Aji, Amin Jerry, AKBear, Dolet, Azzat, Hamzah Kalidas, Mazlan, Hank, Zawawi Emzet (all from 1960) Hal, Chua, Gurdial, Haron, Gear & Shah (all from 1961) The late Ritz & Lawrence had passed on and Ong is MIA.
TSG the Executive Chairman of Wesports hosted the reunion. However much we had endeavoured to get everyone in, only 10 were able to be present.
TSG had dispatched an Alphard to our rendezvous point in PJ where 5 climbed in and 3 followed closely in a car. AKBear decided to come by commuter from Seremban to P.Klang and was picked up on arrival and whisked to Westports direct. Nobody got lost and everything went clockwork. That’s logistics, military style. Resolve a potential problem at source and things fall into place!

We were then taken around the container terminals in a luxury coach, with a police car escorting us with lights flashing ( being a security area the auxiliary police escort is mandatory ) We spent 30 mins just looking through, stretched over 3.5km of quayside, there were then about 3 container ships berthed, some with containers stacked 8 stories high, while more containers ideally arranged on the ground awaiting movements. There were Perodua Alzas in rows due for export to East Malaysia and Mazda cars also in rows just arrived awaiting distribution locally. It appeared so orderly on the ground.

A container ship is in port 65% of the time of travel. The secret is to reduce the mph (movements per hour) of the crane speed of loading and unloading so that less time is spent idly in port instead of plying the high seas. ( the other measurement is of volume in millions of TEUs - to google ‘Westports, TEUs’ for more )

TSG, later met us at his conference room on the 18th fl and gave us a walk through of Westports. ‘It is S.E.A’s multi award-winning port, that’s leading the world when it comes to productivity’ he said. We did not argue with that because it is true!

We later had tea before TSG and all of us adjourned down to the wharf for a boat cruise. We then had a stop-over for our anniversary dinner at Pulau Ketam of fresh sea-food (of course) and came back to the mainland by 2200hrs.

Before we left , Chua exclaimed when bidding farewell ‘..well done, well done, well done..’ which best summed up our appreciation, respect and awe at one of us, namely TSG who was able to see a niche, seized the opportunity and got himself into the Malaysian Business’ ‘ List of 40 Richest Malaysians in the Country’ some years ago, all within 1 generation.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Family Gathering – What a Day!

It was on, yes, April 17 to be exact. The first two dates earlier had to be postponed upon constraints relating to venues. Since this was going to be the first gathering following our adoption of everyone were all excited.
The scenario was one of anticipation and awareness. This was prompted by exchanges on the network of new-found relatives complete with their pictures but were still strangers at that point.

With this sort of feeling I had left on Friday the 16th afternoon to put up in Seremban for the night. The next morning I would just need to take a leisurely drive to Kuala Pilah for registration beginning 9.00 am. I need not have to rush.
The trouble started Friday evening itself. I suddenly felt a chill and a slight temperature that worsen as the night progressed. In the morning after prayers I still could not claim to have recovered. I told my loving wife, Shadah that we must make an appearance. “I want to be there,” I insisted. This was the Inaugural meeting. It was important to be there.

She agreed. I gulped my medication, rested awhile after breakfast then off to Kuala Pilah barely making the registration before the session began.
It commenced most appropriately with the Organising Chairman’s speech ( by my nephew Ano), doa ( by my nephew Abu ) and a walk through of the matriarch, Saamah who was fondly referred to as ‘Wan Kulu’ as what I had remembered ( which strangely was not mentioned that day)

The narration on 'Wan Kulu' ( my late father's loving mother)was done by our elder, my cousin Bang Ngah Jamal who also touched on Idris Abdullah (known fondly as Atuk Itam Oyek , my late father's loving father) and Yusof (known fondly as Datuk Dagang) both of whom were married to Saamah ( at different times, of course) thus the Family Tree of Hjh Saamah (Oyek and Tok Dagang)

( I would request Bang Ngah Jamal to get someone to transcribe the contents of his narration later as the sound system and acoustics in the hall that day left much to be desired.)

Then followed the crux of the matter - a narration of the structure of the family tree and the naming of the head of family and all decendents from top to bottom and identifying them if they were present then. This was ably done by Ano who later requested that amendments be updated and a corrected version later distributed. This took a major part of the morning.

This was necessary , being our first gathering, the information were all new knowledge heard for the first time by most of those present. There followed then a group photo snapping session of the whole family and the sub-families which took quite a while.

During this session, we the elders were seated in the front row while the crowd at the back were replaced to make way according to each respective family’s appearance as a sub-group.

It was then about 1.30pm? It was at this point that I suddenly experienced a very funny feeling. I kept yawning every other minute, my eyes watered, my head spinning and my throat dried and I felt a soreness of my muscles. It must be the heat outside, it must be the bad ventilation (only fans were running), it must be the carry-over of my fever from the night before, it must be pangs of hunger ( no appetite the night before) , just two pieces of bread before leaving that morning.
All sorts of things ran through my mind then.

After some while, it was then announced food was ready. I asked someone for directions to the ‘Gents’, when still seated. Others got up for lunch so did I. They got to the food spread, I didn’t!

The moment I got up, my head spun , my mind twirled and I heard a dull thud and I then heard nothing more ( the dull thud was my fall from a standing position on to the hard floor)

When I came to, after about 5 minutes I was lying on a row of 'folding chairs' after being picked up from the floor. The first thing I did was to touch my forehead and the back of my head (to check if my head hit the floor) I did not cushion my fall, I did not remember falling, only the dull thud. I had a black-out. Apparently I landed on my left side, my left shoulder took the brunt of the fall (still sore today, after 4 days)

A crowd built up around me. ‘give some water to drink’, ‘get a sweet drink for energy’ ( I got both drinks) ‘unbutton his shirt’, ‘take off his sandles’, ‘you need to go to the hospital’

Amidst my protestations that ‘I’m ok, no need hospital’ that we heard the wailing siren of the ambulance and within 5 mins it was parked right at the hall entrance.

I was very lucky. That day there were 2 doctors, 1 matron, a few nurses (I was told , but not fact checked) They were in the crowd and all were my waris. My cousin Azizah, even though retired still wielded strong influence and got the ambulance and an accompanying doctor in it within minutes. When I thanked her she later quoted what her father ( my late uncle Ulung Sulaiman) had wisely imparted to her, ‘ Take care as any of those signs and symptoms are impending warning signs of medical emergencies’ How true it was!.

An ambulance ride is out of this world. Even for barely 3km it put the F1 Grand Prix drivers to shame. I was tossed left then right then left and luckily was conscious enough to cling tightly on the stretcher railings for dear life.I wonder if they strap-up those who were really sick and bedridden. Otherwise they would not survive the journey.

I was put on drips at the emergency/trauma centre straightaway and later wheeled to the wards for admission.

While my ego (health ego?) took a dent ( considering I was given a clean bill of health by IJN no less, as recently as March 04, 2010) there was a sense of appreciation that it happened, though.

As to my waris, they had a real life emergency situation enacted right in front of their eyes and seen how they had rallied together in high drama, cool and composed with no panic.

It was a field day on Facebook of nephews and nieces who fished for news of the gathering but stumbled on news of my blackout, extending concern and 'get well soon' wishes.

As for me, it is a wake-up call. As my nephew Alifi had rightly said, ' it was a way of God the Almighty’s indication to show that we were extended solace and affections in sickness so that we should enhance our submissions, piety and goodness when in a healthy state'

What to make of it as an outcome ? It was recorded at the hospital as a viral infection arising from the fever the night before. It was not a stroke nor any of the current illneses making the rounds. It is just the tail-end of a fever compounded by dehydration. Nothing serious. The remedy - a round of antibiotics, salt/saline solution and paracetamol/panadol, nothing heavy nor any kind of spectacular kind of medicine - and a good rest!

I wish to extend our congratulations and record my appreciation to the Organising Chairman my nephew Ano, the committee comprising my cousin Mus, nephew, Zain, niece Nor and others not named for their excellent efforts. I was told there were projects discussed to be undertaken later. Considering, there were Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, Professors/Lecturers, Economists, Entrepreneurs,Public Relations practitioners among us ( to 'fact check' for numbers),things look good not that far off in the ensuing years.

Here on a personal note that I wish to record my sincere appreciation to all those who helped me and showed so much concern and some later visited me during my one night sojourn at the Kuala Pilah hospital namely, my cousins Bang Ngah,Kak Ngah, Kak Limah,Mus,Azizah,OP Yusuf,my nephew Ano, niece Nor, my daughter Adura, son Hafidz, Zaf, my wife Shadah (all the while by my side), my sis Aishah and hubby Alias, my Induk Maridah (bought food), my brother Jai and wife Normah, my cousins Rohaya (brought home-cooked food) Bang Ngah Hashim – all in sequence and order of visits. And last but not least my bosom buddy OP Zam (who unfortunately came Sunday afternoon after my discharge)Thank you all!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Ulu Selangor By-Election

The battle lines are drawn. With the announcement of the MIC candidate for the BN yesterday it is now battle stations. There’s so much at stake and so many permutations to draw on and being a by-election all eyes are focused on just this.
Not into politics, not before nor now, but it is too tempting when it comes to a by-election. I can still be an observer, why not? I don’t have to make a stand nor do I have to declare my political inclinations and sympathies but I can still have an opinion, yes, why not.
It was a strategic move to retain the MIC for the seat. In one stroke, the MIC stopped making noise, so also from the UMNO diehards. This is basic. What it means is that here’s no disagreement nor talk of non-cooperation from day one of campaigning from either. There could have been some disgruntled few from both (the MIC and UMNO) but these may just be personally inspired and may not matter.
Both then would have to show their best in the campaigning that follows. The MIC to justify why their candidate was chosen and UMNO to justify and stamp their strength with the shackles of the GE 2008 broken and is now history.
Likewise, the MCA would go in with vengeance. It is mainly to justify consolidation and unity and tell the world that their earlier troubles are now within control, not over yet but ok.
For the Gerakan, PPP and the smaller offshoots within the BN, well…just be there to show you are still alive not kicking but still around. They are not expected to be in the limelight, lest they spoil the broth. Just keep smiling as they have been doing after the GE 2008 debacle and ‘don’t say nothin’ (as the Americans would say)
As for the PR, they would have to take great pains to control the groundswell currently bothering them. The PKR especially is very vulnerable. Its their candidate and they have been getting the flax. What with the ongoing court case and the spate of resignations of their legislators (even until today there’s one) Not forgetting the Indians in Penang had not forgotten the Kg Buah Pala fiasco. There were reports of mass, en-bloc resignations of members, even. And here they are trying to woo the Indian votes!
Let’s see how the candidates stacked up. Kamalanathan, the MIC candidate is squeaky clean, up-and-coming,young, a PR person (read: Public Relations) and a blogger to boot – and with no known baggage.
The PKR’s Zaid is a high powered, and a high profiled person, used to being a ‘de facto’ Minister monetarily strong, was slapped with suspension/sacked? on money politics when in UMNO (but vehemently pleaded innocence) – with some baggage no doubt.
My take on the outcome? The MIC candidate will find solace in being a ‘local boy’ and can well relate with the younger set MIC or otherwise.
The PKR, has imposed a helicopter candidate (half the hall left when his candidature was announced) who had jumped ship ( may well be reminiscent of V. David’s answer when asked why he changed parties from Socialist Front to Pekemas and then DAP. He said that there’s nothing wrong with him but all the parties he left were wrong )

If Zaid wins it is said he may be one of the PMs-in-waiting apparently, that’s how he has styled himself (if Sg Buluh comes into the picture earlier). Of course he has to content with other contenders ( Ku Li may be?)If he loses then he may yet again jump ship out of frustrations.

My take again. Given the PM’s high ratings after one year, and his successful US trip and the woes of PKR, the BN will win hands down.

Monday, April 5, 2010

‘Many Happy Returns of the Day’, Honey Dear!

Try it! Say it out loud, ‘Honey dear! Yes, Honey dear! No, You can never say it that well. You cannot call out loud to someone dear to you when saying ‘honey’. The word has to be taken softly. The same thing with ‘love’ or ‘yang’ (short for sayang) It must be softly whispered, sometimes barely audible.

You would have to be physically close to your loved one to utter such endearment. I could never call out to my loving wife Shadah ‘honey’ or ‘ni’ when more than 5 feet away. It cannot be me in the lounge and she in the kitchen and I shout ‘honey’. No, it did not work out that way. If I have to call out to my loving wife I would have to come closer to her.

And another thing. I had never for the life of me called my loving wife ‘yang’ . Not in front of others as it sounded odd. It was embarrassing, and others hearing it would feel uneasy (meluat). But some people do and are proud to do so. At least ‘ni’ sounds like a name and sounds pleasing enough. I would always settle for ‘honey’.

Somehow ‘honey’ is universal and I very nearly always use it. It changed slightly when they came into our lives.(read: children) In front of them I would use ‘your Mama’ or call out ‘mama’ instead of honey. In our private moments it is still ‘ni’, even now.

Recently Zee Avi was in town. She’s the 23 year old Miri-born who was discovered through her ‘You Tube’ recording of her own song called ‘Poppy’. I’m saying this because one of her recent hits is called ‘Honey Bee’. On hearing it on the air, it rekindled times of togetherness with my loving wife, ever so sweetly , and it lingered on.

Zee Avi is special. I like her style. She is an acoustic guitar and an ukulele strumming singer and song-writer. Her rendition of “Honey Bee’ is plainly music to the ear, nothing pitchy, no high notes nor screams. It is so serene, innocent and peaceful. Her songs are reminiscent of Norah Jones on piano.( you can google more of her songs on You Tube)

Let’s get back to reality. Actually my loving wife’s birthday was on April 03. Yesterday, April 04, Adura and Hafidz (read: children) treated us to lunch together with their respective families . The option for lunch over dinner was prompted by the kids , Norman,Kimie,Nabil and Sarah Aishah (read: grandchildren ) who need to be early to bed. Azhar, my youngest boy chose to miss this out to attend a wedding in town instead.

As to the venue, both Adura and Hafidz chose a quaint little Korean Restaurant in One Utama that offered something different – a Korean buffet with a DIY grill-and-boil set-up (grill plus steam-boat like ) for each table. I thought it was perfect, not lavish nor overly crowded. It was ok.

It seemed to be popular with the younger set too. The attraction as opposed to a Japanese fare is pretty obvious. It is different, more savoury, spicy and hot ( akin to a Thai offering) The pickled kim chee ran out fast and was being topped up every now and then.

Last year, we had it at the Shogun, a Japanese buffet in town where it was practically twice as expensive (for the same number of us)

It is a far cry from those days , when I was in my final year and Shadah a freshie during Orientation Week. We would adjourn on my 2-wheeler to Amjal Corner (the eatery at the main entrance of MU) where RM5 could fetch 2 plates of whatever plus drinks ! ( I think it is no more there now, a sad casualty of road alignment works)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Malaysian Grand Prix - April 4, 2010

It is now 1800 hrs ( 6.00 pm). The Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang has just ended. I’ve not seen the write up as yet but I’ve seen the event ‘live‘ a short while ago. The race ended just after 1730 hrs or so.

It was a 1 - 2 finish for the Red Bull team. On the podium was the winner Sebastian Vettel with his team-mate, Mark Webber in second place and Nico Rosberg from Mercedes-Petronas in third.

The event did not have the high drama of the Australian Grand Prix last week in Melbourne when there was a skirmish ( was it a minor pile-up? ) as early as the first turn and some minor crashes along the way.

In this race, Vettel had pulled away right at the first turn from his team-mate who held pole position. By the 8th lap it was Vettel, Webber, Rosberg, Suttil, Hamilton in that order. Kobayashi was out of the race at Lap 9, followed by Schumacher at Lap 10.

At lap 13, the positions remained . At this point the Lotus F1 team was not anywhere in the running. They were at positions 17 ( Jarno Trulli) and 20 ( Heikki Kovalinen)

Hamilton tried his best to make his impact. In fact at Lap 33 he recorded the fastest lap at 1.37 secs but remained at 7th place. A consolation for the Lotus F1 team however was when Trulli managed to jump to position 15 at Lap 36.

At that point it was 1708 hrs and it was a very clear sky. They had talked about the rain, but the expected rain did not come. It was a clear day right until the race ended. Apparently, the heat was scorching when the race began. Vettel the winner had mentioned at the post-race briefing that he was profusely sweating. Contrary to what we had expected he said he was praying for rain. ‘It would at least cool things off’.

At the closing moments, at Lap 55, the last but one, sparks and smoke spewed from Fernando Alonso’s car and he was out. It was good fortune for the eventual winners . They chalked up good points without Alonso. Alonso who ended with zero points in this race was the winner in the season-opening Bahrain Prix and 4th in Melbourne.

As for the Lotus F1 team, they met their target of completing the race. It was a switch this time. Trulli who did not complete the previous two races came in position 20 eventually. His team-mate Kovalainen went out of the race at Lap 21.

The unhappy Tony Fernandez twittered some unsavoury remarks during the course of the race, apparently. The CEO, Riad Asmat and and the reserve driver Fairuz Fauzy took it within their strides. ‘We would have to check on the hydraulic systems of the cars before Shanghai, the next stop’ they said.

However, it is not bad for Malaysia, not bad at all. In fact it was good! No, I’m not talking of the Lotus F1 team. I’m talking of the Mercedes-Petronas team. They achieved the 2nd runner-up position. It is a podium position. Isn’t that something?

In fact at the post-race briefing, Rosburg mentioned proudly and clearly that he was ‘happy to achieve a podium finish in Malaysia, the home of Petronas”. Of course, that’s something to be proud of!