Monday, March 29, 2010

Hats Off to Jins!

A piece of wonderful news from a veteran actor. A rave in his heyday , Mohd Zain Shamsudin or Jins Shamsudin as he is popularly known has just earned himself a PhD. It was conferred on Mar 27, 2010 at the UUM’s 23rd convocation in Sintok, Kedah

The area of studies revolved around what he knows best ie 'Filem Melayu 1930-an hingga 1960-an Sebagai Citra Budaya dan Sejarah Negara' or roughly ‘Malay Films from the 30’s to the 60’s as a Cultural Heritage and National History’ ( ?for want of a better translation!)

Senator Tan Sri Dr Jins Shamsudin achieved it at age 75, probably the oldest in the history of the UUM. This capped his earlier stint at the London Film School from 1970 till 1972 where he honed his skills on the intricacies of film making. He came back with a Diploma.

This is reminiscent of the accomplishments of other men of letters before him. They were already recognized in their own fields (as writers) but went academically further for their PhDs such as Tan Sri Awang Had, Datuk MKY, and the late Datuk Atan Long among others.

For Tan Sri Dr Jins, what makes it more commendable was the fact that it was all accomplished on his own resources.

He had utilised RM30,000 part of the RM60,000 that he received when he was bestowed the coveted Seniman Negara Award before. There were no grants given nor crying or whining for financial assistance.

The Arts and Cultural scene were all the more richer as there’s a dearth of works done on this subject. It would have required extending some form of financial assistance/grants to undertake such projects which would certainly be more than the modest sum spent by Tan Sri Dr Jins.

Not just that, he had also to ply up and down the North South Highway for 2 years from KL to Sintok and back. It is no mean feat to do in your ‘golden years’.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Frighteningly Quick Dash and A Wonderful Bundle Of Joy

Last Sat , Mar 20th, 2010 in keeping with the ‘wedding week’ normally associated with the school holidays we attended yet another wedding. This time it was proud parents Shah and Bee for their son Ijam and his charming bride in TTDI.

We were seated with Dr Ib and Zariah and were later joined by Bang Aziz and Ka’ Su. There were the usual yarn of old times and current happenings, as a way of getting connected on what events transpired lately.

Then someone asked ‘how’s Farah?’ (Farah is the darling daughter of Dr Ib and Zariah) ‘She’s back here’ , Zariah confirmed. An innocent question and a simple answer suddenly led to a flurry of other further little questions and answers on Farah.

Farah evoked a nostalgic and emotional reaction on almost everyone around the table. Farah when growing up had been so close to Bang Aziz and Ka’ Su (almost a daughter to them) that Bang Aziz quickly remarked, ‘We want to see Farah’. Zariah said ok. So we agreed to adjourn to see Farah later.

There is also an emotional attachment Farah had to my loving wife Shadah many years ago. It was on June 26th 1981, to be exact.

Shadah remembered it well. A seemingly innocuous morning, Shadah and Zariah both then were teachers at the Assunta Secondary School in Petaling Jaya. Both were graduate teachers (Zariah later acquired her Master’s from the US) They shared a common bond as most colleagues did in a school.

However, theirs was a very special bond ( a bond that Dr Ib would invariably mention whenever we had the occasion to meet)

This was what happened that morning. Shadah and Zariah were then in the Staff Room. Assunta Secondary was a model school (and still is)

With Sister Enda as the Headmistress then, it was a privilege to be part of its teaching staff. Everyone were so motivated. Teaching in Assunta was just happiness (that was what Shadah used to tell me) That explained why Zariah was still taking classes even though in an advanced stage. Yes, Zariah was due but still at school that morning (dedicated teachers are a rarity these days)

Suddenly Zariah felt it. Yes, the first of many that came (ask any mother-to-be what it means to experience contractions and she’ll swear there and then that , she’ll not have another baby, ever!)

The lingering pain continued. There was no commotion but certainly something must be done, there was no time to lose. Both Zariah and Shadah had to decide immediately on what to do. Baby just couldn’t be made to wait.

An ambulance might take time. Zariah was under the care of OP Dr Idris whose clinic was in Section 14, barely 4km away (OP stands for 'Old Putra', an old boy of the RMC ) Dr Ib was then at his office further than 4km away and would not be in time to drive them there.

So what were they to do? The two wonderful ladies took it upon themselves to do the inevitable. Yes, Shadah was to drive Zariah to OP Dr Idris’ clinic. It was settled without as much of another thought.

It was a risky but brave decision but it must be done. This they agreed. (to this day I cringe thinking what if baby was really impatient, what if baby decided that the car would do just as well for a quick delivery) I dread to think.

Shadah was then driving a Honda Civic (the old version , a 2-door that looked like the present-day Proton Satria, both in shape and size).

Both scrambled to the car, Zariah gingerly holding and leaning on to Shadah’s shoulders for support. It was a miracle how Zariah could squeeze in onto the back seat of a 2-door car, but she did!

Both ladies were of sterner stuff, they kept their head, they didn’t panic. Every inch of the way, the contractions were there, silently but surely. Zariah likewise said silent prayers, repeating silently, lying face up. Shadah kept looking back, with comforting words (which baby must have heard and decided to wait until they reached the clinic)

After what seemed ages, they arrived at the clinic, they scrambled slowly out again, up a flight of stairs to the first floor. The nurses came, it was action stations. Zariah was wheeled into the labour room. Shadah was there stroking her, comforting her, and OP Dr Idris later arrived.

After all her brave efforts, Shadah was squeamish at being in the delivery room and waited outside. She knew Zariah was now in good hands. So it was ok. She could relax now. ( She later confessed she was shivering throughout the short journey but kept her composure somehow )

Zariah was barely 20 minutes in the clinic and not a moment too soon. It was then that baby decided. It was quiet on the western front. It was time to let herself out. And OP Dr Idris was there waiting with open arms.

It was such a wonderful bundle of joy! Certainly far exceeding every anxious moments the THREE of them went through minutes earlier! It was just sheer joy especially for Zariah,the proud mum!

Yes, a pinkish little darling, Farah wonderfully came into this world, oblivious of the drama that took place a good part of the preceding 40 minutes or so ( it seemed hours to both Zariah and Shadah).

It was a great relief and a great satisfaction to Zariah, now that she had a King’s Choice (a pair now with Farid the eldest boy). It was also a great relief and a great satisfaction to my loving wife Shadah for her good deed of the day (when I asked her later how she managed to get around the normally busy traffic flow , she said 'what traffic?' - in her haste she didn’t see any!) We were thankful to God the Almighty, that gave clear passage for them when mid-morning was always very crowded.

The happy Dad Dr Ib arrived later at the clinic, equally relieved that mother and daughter were there safe and well and profusely thanking my brave wife.

I’m so proud of my loving wife, Shadah. At other times she may appear dependent and helpless but in a sticky situation, she would invariably live up to it.

Now back to the present. After the wedding, we followed Dr Ib and Zariah back to the house. Farah was out but Dr Ib managed to contact her. Farah came back and met all of us. And there we were, and what do you know!

Farah is now in the family way herself. Dr Ib and Zariah are going to be doting grand-parents come July 2010 . And this is going to be their first grand-child.
( that makes it even more special!)

Dr Farah and her hubby, Dr Andy were on a short holiday back here. Dr Farah, the pride and joy of both mum and dad
(whom Dr Ib referred fondly to as 'my princess' in his email to me) is completing her post-graduate specialist course in medicine in Dublin (so also Dr Andy - there will be 2 Consultant Paediatricians in the house in no time) They have since gone back last Monday.

Apparently Zariah has planned to be with Dr Farah,( by her side in Dublin for the big day in July) and stay on for 3 months. ( ample time to reflect on the moment in time a long time ago when little Farah co-operated very well with mummy and timed it perfectly to the dot!)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Updates: F1 Team Lotus

There you have it! Team Lotus met their goals for the 1st outing of the season at the Bahrain Grand Prix yesterday, modest as it seemed. They had set out to have 1). both the drivers finished the race (which they did) and 2). that they beat Team Virgin in the process (which they also did)

Heikki Kovalainen, the first driver was placed the 15th position while Jarno Trulli was placed 17th. It is nothing to shout about though but Datuk Tony Fernandez was elated so also the drivers. ‘Big oaks from little acorns grow’ so it is a good start just as they had set out to do.

For the records, Fernando Alonso of Team Ferrari stood on the podium as the winner and collected 25 points followed by Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton.

The list of the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Standings with points collected are appended below:


01 Fernando Alonso - 25
02 Felipe Massa - 18
03 Lewis Hamilton - 15
04 Sebastian Vettel - 12
05 Nico Rosberg - 10
06 Michael Schumacher - 8
07 Jenson Button - 6
08 Mark Webber - 4
09 Vitantonio Liuzzi - 2
10 Rubens Barrichello - 1
11 Robert Kubica
12 Adrian Sutil
13 Jaime Alguersuari
14 Nico Hulkenberg
15 Heikki Kovalainen
16 Sebastien Buemi
17 Jarno Trulli
18 Pedro de la Rosa
19 Bruno Senna
20 Timo Glock
21 Vitaly Petrov
22 Kamui Kobayashi
23 Lucas di Grassi
24 Karun Chandhok


01 Ferrari - 43
02 McLaren-Mercedes - 21
03 Mercedes Benz GP - 18
04 RBR-Renault - 16
05 Force India-Mercedes - 2
06 Williams-Cosworth - 1
07 Renault
08 STR-Ferrari
09 Lotus-Cosworth
10 BMW Sauber-Ferrari
11 HRT-Cosworth
12 Virgin-Cosworth

Saturday, March 13, 2010

F1 Team Lotus

The season opening Bahrain Grand Prix ( of the 2010 FIA Formula One (F1) World Championship) is on tomorrow, March 14th 2010. There are altogether 12 teams of which 3 are new entrants this season (with 24 cars/drivers on the grid)

It is of special interest to Malaysia this year for 2 reasons namely, the real presence of Malaysia in F1 racing with the debut of Malaysia’s very own Team Lotus , and the collaboration of Team Mercedes with Petronas in F1 racing.

This is therefore more than just a participation but the first foray into F1 which was announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak only in September last year which is now a reality.

When it was first mooted late last year, many were sceptical. Only the Principal Officer, Datuk Tony Fernandez and the Technical Head, Mike Gascoyne were positively identified together with Naza Motors as joint backers. Then there were a flurry of behind the scenes manoevering to get additional sponsors (especially with the loss of Petronas to Team Mercedes) and to naming the drivers and the management team.

The detractors spewed countless venom, mindful of the enormous financial burden to be carried by Team Lotus. Tony Fernandez ventured on anyway. Lotus at their factory in Norfolk, England came up with a new car (within 6 months) after assembling ‘80,000 components'( a report stated that in all seriousness a 99.9% perfection will still mean 80 component parts are not up to mark)

The testing must be more than perfect. It is awesome! It is no small wonder that an F1 car that made it on the starting grid can still stall at some point in the race owing to a less than perfect testing. It cannot be more perfect than that!

The Lotus T127 rolled out on a T127 chassis supporting a Cosworth 2010 engine. It went through the various precision factory tests and last month was presented on the tracks in Spain for final tests by the designated drivers.

So we have Malaysia’s very own F1 car to be driven by the named drivers, Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalinen with Malaysia’s own Fairuz Fauzy as the 3rd and reserve driver.

The Management Team comprised, the CEO, Riad Asmat (son of OP Tan Sri Asmat), Mia Sharizman Ismail as Head of Operations (Asia), Alex Yoong as Head of Driver Development (Asia) and Nino Judge as the Head of Driver Development (Europe).

So what is it in for Malaysia apart from the ‘novelty’ and the hype worked up for our presence on the world’s stage which is a grand PR adventure for prime movers Tony and his team.

For a start Alex Yoong and Judge will co-host a driver’s development programme with the aim of nurturing young drivers for the future. Alex’s father OP Hanipah Yoong went up against all odds singled-handedly in guiding Alex as an F1 driver before. So Alex is very much aware of the difficulties and pitfalls.

On the technical side, a team of young engineers are already in Norfolk working towards building up a core of technically experienced personnel. These would be conveniently absorbed into Proton and Naza Motors in future, I imagine.

With the impending production of the compact EMAS hybrid of Proton recently exhibited at the Geneva Motor Show, it is imperative that we need these engineers in large numbers.

There has to be a concerted effort to trigger off the multiplier effect of human capital development to meet needs of industry. A home grown F1 venture can certainly provide the platform to enhance the numbers.

On the prospects of notching up glory in this debut presence, Tony is being realistic. ‘We hope to finish each race, anything better is a bonus’ he said. He has 19 opportunities to do that as there are 19 races in the 2010 calendar. The 3rd leg in K. Lumpur will be on 4th April.

Apparently, we’ll get to see the real, the actual, the car that is going on the tracks in Bahrain tomorrow at the Pavilion in K. Lumpur when it is put up on show in early April (before its debut on our Sepang Circuit)

This is mainly because there was insufficient time to produce an additional car for exhibition purposes. So be it!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Clean Bill of Health

I was at the IJN (National Heart Institute) for the better part of the morning today, March 03, 2010. It was the culmination of a series of tests conducted which started sometime last month and I came away smiling from ear to ear.

I got it off my chest. Yes, that’s where it all started, my chest. There was a slight tinge on my left side where the heart is. It came at odd times lasting just seconds though not that frequent, but enough to cause worry to me. The GP years ago said it was muscular. The specialist that saw me quite recently said the same thing.

I want a second opinion I said, not that it mattered to anyone. If it was anything to do with the heart, a pain would have been triggered off by a physical activity, say 'running up the stairs or rushing to catch a plane.', they said. There ought to be an exertion of some sort on your being, not when watching the TV or while having a meal.

It may not have anything to do with the heart they reasoned. So it is, I thought, but still it left me unsettled. It was unsettling and it was worrisome.

In the meantime, my blood pressure is under control through medication so also my cholesterol. I needn’t worry.

The good thing about the medical specialists looking after me were their positive attitudes. None stopped me. They encouraged me to explore the various avenues to determine what was the affliction. So started the series of tests.

First, the Stress Test on the treadmill and the accompanying ECG. I did the walk, brisk walk, slight trot, faster and faster trot and completed Level 3 within the standard time required for my age. Would I need to go on to Level 4? No, I did not have to prove anything, so I stopped there.

I then sought a reference to the IJN, the premier heart institute in the country. I mean, if you cannot trust the IJN with your heart who else would you trust.

, 3 weeks ago I went to the IJN for a CT Coronary Angiogram. It was a heart scan in simple terms. A ‘spiral imaging with resrospective gating was performed’ – images in colour from various angles in other words!
Aorta: - ascending aorta is normal in size with no significant atherosclerosis - descending aorta is normal in size with no significant atherosclerosis
Myocardium: - appears normal . No evidence of scar or other abnormalities
Chambers: - normal size chambers
Valves: - normal to extent visualized

(my comment: I am fascinated by the word ‘normal’ in all instances)

Third, the Pathology Report(blood test) showed all were within range, kidneys are ok and cholesterol is ok

Fourth, the Echo done this morning showed an EF of an acceptable % ( the number I shouldn’t reveal here)

All in all, it was a satisfying morning. So what’s next?

All that I’ve heard before as advised by the GP ought to be given serious adherence not just serious thoughts ie Diet and Exercise

Diet - you can eat what you want but of a smaller portion and of less frequency. Less carbohydrates and noodles but take oats and fibres. No limits on fruits and vegetables, take fish and chicken but avoid red meat and anything deep fried. So it is , simple enough (now to be religiously adhered to, yes, adhered to)

Exercise - No, not jogging. Just brisk walking around the neighbourhood. BUT do it! Yes, a regime ought to be worked out and improvements to weight shedding to be noted. (It should not have to follow the vigorous gym work of the ‘Biggest Loser’ though)

I ought to renew my ‘love affair’ again and be more demanding. Yes, my clubs are all rusty. I will have to go back to the Driving Range to hit some balls first. My ‘golf muscles’ ought to be toned up and fitness enhanced. Only then can I accept calls from my buddies to have that round of golf ‘on a regular basis’ again ( which I had declined all these while ‘on doctor’s orders’)

Last but not least, a regular medical check-up every 6 months must be done to keep in check anything untoward that might just appear undetected.

Tiger Woods has gone through rehab and ‘domestic counselling’. He is ready to take on the world again. So am I!