Saturday, June 27, 2020

100 days of epidemic control, and an OP leaves Parliament.

Sun June 28, 2020

Today is actually the 103rd day of the epidemic control imposition in the country, started on March 18. 

The figure of 4 deaths per 1 million population seems a good one compared to the rest of the world. 

The similiar figures for others are: USA 387, Brazil 269, India 12, Phillipines 11, Indonesia 10, Singapore 4, China 3, Thailand 0.8 and Vietnam n.a. 

But China, India, Indonesia, the Phillipines and Vietnam look suspiscious with their big populations. Thailand's under 1 is probably cooked. We know that the Indonesian authorities have given up on their controls with their uncontrollable population. Having been to India, I can't believe the figures given. But like Brazil, and even the US and Denmark, if they choose to not have accurate indicators, the epidemic is real and relentless, and the actual final toll would expose everything eventually.

The absolute figures are devastating as they are. Globally, there have been more than 10 million cases, with more than 500,000 deaths. I wonder how they compare with all the past wars of the world. And to see USA in chaos politically and administratively in the midst of a very real  and very deadly warfare with an invisible enemy, makes me wonder if maybe the Americans don't realize the extent of their foolhardiness.

This is the 7th. time I've touched on the epidemic in this blog. I hope I can use these notes when I look back at what happened in 2020, the year marked as the targeted emergence of this country as a developed nation. That we have not achieved that, is clear. That we may have regressed is probably also clear, in more ways than we care to acknowledge.

While we can laugh at the goings-on in USA, with the ludicrous White House in ridiclous comedy of errors, Putrajaya is not spared the melodrama of greedy politicians grabbing pieces of the state. Because that's what it is, the state going to pieces. Having avowed the end of avarice of the ousted old regime, the new leaders (there may be one Prime Minister, but definitely many hands are on his throat) have decided to make hay while the sun shine, and the ministries and the GLC's are fair game and literally up for grabs.

Meanwhile, I have missed 15 Friday prayers to date, and may miss a few more, looking at the SOP. Hank called Friday, asking for suggestions about our halted Friday congregation. So I told him to follow the SOP, or like me, wait for August when hopefully normalcy in our daily routine is restored. I think he followed my suggestion.

The OP at Parliament, Yang Arif Arif (The Honourable Arif lah), the Speaker, says Din Pagoh has told him to pack his bag. He's ready, he says. But his Deputy, unlike him, an elected Member of Parliament, has some fight left. He contends that only the House can remove a sitting Speaker and his Deputy.  Well, Monday August 13 looms large, especially that number "13". We'll know if the motion from PAS for a confidence vote for Din Pagoh wins, or Mahathir's motion of the opposite wins.  Or it might be just passing motion in public !  Unlucky 13.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

A motorcycle or a scooter ?

Fri June 26 2020.

When I got up this morning, it was raining heavily. Jane called and said we should cancel our game today. I called Ong and said the same thing. That's why I'm in front of the pc now.

In varsity I had a Honda 90 motorcycle (BN 3950) I bought brand new in PJ Old Town using my NS scholarship of 1,750 per year. This was 1965, so that was sufficient money for school and for modest daily upkeep then. And for the installments. After me, Din, a younger brother who went to med school in the same varsity, used the bike for 5 years. When he completed his exams, I had to go to Ibnu Sinna college to retrieve the bike parked at the back of the hostel. I kept the bike in Damansara Utama for a combined total of 25 years, and would probably have it still if not for the wife. When I was at work in Port Kelang she casually asked a passing Indian man if he wanted the bike, which I had parked outside the house gates because the porch was full, with 2 cars and several very large flower pots. Calit, my youngest brother was witness, so the story corroborates. It was still in running condition, with full road-tax and insurance. Was I annoyed !

Later that year (1991) I bought a superbike and a touring bike in quick succession, a Honda CBR 600, and a Kawasaki Vulcan 750. These were from the motorcycle shop at Section 16, near the original UIA campus. I don't remember why I bought two, but they were for different uses, of course. The Honda was very fast. I did 260 kmph on the highway once. Another time it took me 1 hour from Damansara Utama to KP. The Kawasaki wasn't as fast, and cannot be driven that fast in comfort, anyway. I could do 160 kmph easily, but by that time, because of the sitting position, my trousers would be blown up right up to my knees !

In 1995 when I  moved to Seremban I was the only one riding these big bikes in town, and I had to go back to PJ for servicing. That, and the fact that I felt (wrongly) my new career didn't allow for big-bike riding, made me sell off the relatively underused bikes, at a loss, of course.

I bought two kapchais in between, one after the other, this time. The first one was when still in Damansara Utama, but Adik took it to Arau when he was at UiTM, and later Memi used it until it was stolen when parked at the Kelana Jaya LRT. He said he had the chains on like I told him. Later I found the chains in his room in D.U. About 8 years ago I bought an LC 135 Yamaha that I used for a while before Adik took it to Subang Jaya and used until last year, when he bought the Kawasaki 900 he's using now. So I took the Yamaha back.

Adik drove the Yamaha hard when he had it. But he'd always maintained it well, except the tyres are now not 100% alighned, because of a fall. When I take a sharp corner I can feel the off-balance, which can be dangerous. 

Riding long distances is not the strong point of the kapchai. In town it's very convenient, and I use it all the time now. I consider my bike-ride a hobby, but I need to ride longer distances to nearby towns or places of interset. 

When Adik came back for the belated Hari Raya, I made him drive me in Memi's Wellfire to the Senawang motorcycle shop. It has a large stock of all grades of motorcycles and scooters. We inspected a couple of Dominar 400 from India and the scooters Elegan from Modenas and the XMax Yamaha. The price differences were substantial.

The Indian Dominar is very cheap for a 400 c.c. motorbike. At RM 11,000 it's an attractive buy with a catch. Because of the engine configuration and the suspension type, the read-ups I checked on the internet say that the biggest problem is the vibration. Actually this is serious if you talk of hours of long rides. This is one reason the smooth-riding Japanese bikes are superior to other makes.

I've never owned a scooter, although I've ridden them. But the modern Taiwanese and Japanese scooters are a different breed from those early Italian jobs we see here. They are well-balanced, well-equipped and powerful machines. And the scooters are much more comfortable rides.

I've narrowed down my choice to 3 models - the XMax Yamaha 250, the Sym 250 and the Elegan 250. The Yamaha is the superior model on all counts, but comes with the highest price of 24,000 o.t.r. The 2 Taiwanese Sym and Elegan are much cheaper. Sym has superior features to Elegan but costs 19,000. Elegan costs 13,000.

The Dominar 400 will never match my CBR 600. A Kawasaki tourer costs nothing less than 35,000 today.

I think I should try the scooters. And I think the price should be my deciding factor. So here goes.


Saturday, June 20, 2020

Father's Day 2020.

Sun 21 June 2020.

Adik's congratulatory sms on Father's Day reminded me about it. In fact I received another one from Jack Harper, and I wish him the same thing, being a father himself. But there's silence from the other three. But it's ok. I've never celebrated this thing, anyway.

I remember a "hadis" which says "the duty of a father is give his offspring a good name, educate him/her, and marry him/her off." It's for this hadis I chose my children's names carefully, I spent a lot of money on their studies, and provided for their marriages.

Since my own name starts with the last letter of the alphabet, I was determined to pick names with "A", the first letter. So we have Azat, Ashraf, Ahmad and Amalina. That "Ahmad" was because of another "hadis" which says "if you have three boys, name one of them after the Prophet."

I remember in school, it was in Std. 6 and the teacher was Mr. D'Cruz, and he read out the results of a class test. He'd finished reading out the names and the scores, but there was no me. I raised my hand and asked "what about me, sir ?" Mr. D'Cruz looked at his list and couldn't find my name. Then he turned over the paper, and there was my name, the only one on that page. And I think I beat everyone, except Peter Kam Chin Aik, the dental surgeon's son.

And through life, when it came to lists, I always end up last. Even on my university graduation day. So "A" it was for the kids, and they're always on top of their own lists.

Adik did one better than me. He has given all his four boys the names Arshad, Amer, Azim and Arish. So they're all "AA" !

I sent Azat to Hawaii-Pacific University. Ashraf went to Charls Sturt University in Sydney. Memi went to UiTM and obtained his Chartered Accountancy from Glasgow. Dekna also went to UiTM, and got a double-degree in Law, with a First Class Honours to boot. So I think I'm all right on the education obligation of the hadis.

They all picked their own life partners. I set up their marriage ceremonies - three at the Seremban town hall, and one at the Dewan Merak Kayangan Felda in KL. They were not extravagant, to be sure, but they were not to be ashamed of either. But the guests contibuted enough to cover the catering costs in all of them. So, again, I think I'm all right on the marriage obligation of the hadis.

Dato' Sulaiman says I married late. That's why my eldest grandchildren are only in Form 3, when he says he has three already in the university. But that's understandable. I only graduated at 23, worked for 4 years and then got married. He was an H.A. at Seremban Hospital and naturally married a nurse there in his early 20's before embarking on his legal career.

My 11 grandchildren seem living a pampered, good life. Both parents are gainfully employed in all cases, whilst my wife stopped work after marrying me. Now my silent prayers are for their good health and good fortune in life.

In the meantime, after the sms, I replied with a dollar sign and a question mark. Adik replied was a dollar sign with wings. "Flown".


Friday, June 12, 2020

State of the union.

Sat 13 June 20

I'm not referring to the USA. Trump is insane in the madhouse.

I'm referring to the union of misfits in the Malaysian hung Parliament right now, in the middle of the pandemic. It looks like "when it rains, it pours". What with the invisible but deadly virus  along with the very visible and equally deadly political upheaval, Malaysians have their plates full, so to speak.

I was talking to a Chinese friend yesterday, while patiently waiting for our turns to tee-off at SIGC, with the new SOP, product of covid 19. He admitted that he has left MCA. (I knew that already - all the Chinese have left MCA since the last GE). On my question of whether Din Pagoh would survive the many-times-rescheduled Parliamentry sitting, this guy went all over the world, and finally said "yes".

"Why ?" I said.

Again he went all over the world,before finally settling with "everyone can be bought".

I disagreed. If Din Pagoh is so confident about his numbers, why the repeated postponements of Parliament ?

"Agong already approved" he retorted.

"Agong believed Din Pagoh's version when he beat the Old Man to the gun" was my answer. "Now he has to count hands in Parliament, and that takes precedent over the Agong."

In the mean time the rumour mongers have been at it full blast, thanks in part to the gift of temporal space provided by the lockdown. Each side claims it has the numbers.

The truth is probably somewhere in-between. Probably less than 10 MP's would make the difference.  If money can change minds (of course it does), minds can change, still (keep money, not word).

A lot of cliches here:

These are the worst of times, and the best of times.

There is no honour among thieves.

Politics have strange bed-fellows.

There are no permanent enemies, no permanent friends.

Here today, gone tomorrow.

A man is as good as his words.

Promises are meant to be broken.

Everything has a price.

Facts can be stranger than fiction.

"Janji Melayu".

And so it goes. 

Just ponder, if we can still think properly. There are tons of testimony, evidence, proof and what-have-yous, in print, on tape, on video and in all the mass media about the basis of PH's fight against the long-ruling UMNO. And yet, less than 23 months later, UMNO and the other "thieves" are deemed clean enough to be embraced, when pkp and clean politics (if there is such a thing) say "dont't get close !"

Now talks are rife that a snap election is on the cards. That's UMNO talk. They have everything to gain and nothing to lose from a snap election. 

PPBM is in the worst possible position. The party is in complete disarray. People are digusted with its shenanigans. Even hanging on to its constituencies for GE 15 is in clear doubt. It has everything to lose and nothing to gain from a snap election.

Din Pagoh will try to buy more MPs to his cause. UMNO will maximise its bargaining position. If Din Pagoh survives, UMNO benefits. IF not, and there is a snap election, UMNO benefits. To quote another cliche, "heads I win, tails you  lose."

That's the state of the union - for Din Pagoh.


Monday, June 8, 2020

Khairuddin Ahmad.

Mon 8.6.20.

I had a shock just now when I saw on the whatsapp about the passing of my old friend, Khairuddin (lion).

It was only a couple of days ago that I heard he had a fall in his house. I didn't know how serious it was. What with this pandemic and travel restrictions, and not knowing exactly where he was admitted to, I'd allowed myself the loss of any opportunity to visit him and lend support in his hour of need. I'll regret this forever. But I pray that Khairuddin finds selected company before our Maker, amin.

I was in "B" coy with him. He was a senior. But when I enrolled into University of Malaya in 1965, he also enrolled in the same year. By right he should have been ahead of me by 2 years. I never did ask him the reason, but we resumed old friendship. 

I was staying in section 11, close to campus, in the early part of my first year. So did Khairuddin. He was putting up with a relative or something, a MARA officer, I think, in his quarters even closer to campus. I used to visit Khairuddin there, and one time even spent a night there. That morning I saw the owner coming down the stairs, going to work, but we  just looked at each without saying anything.

Khairuddin was doing different subjects from me. But in 1965 the student population was small, and we met often. The Arts Concourse was close to the library. In between lectures the undergraduates would linger in the common area, chatting, smoking, or on some days making speeches and the the usual student commotion they figured they had to make being university undergraduates.

If not in the common area or the concourse, the students would be in only 3 other places: the Union House, Amjal restaurant just outside the varsity main entrance, or the 4th. College. The canteen was at the Union House; Amjal restaurant was the closest eating place outside of campus; 4th. College was the girls' college.

One evening we decided to go to the movies together. Khairuddin rode a Vespa, me a Honda 90 motorcycle (not a scooter). We decided to go on my bike. We went to Cathay cinema in Jalan Raja Laut, close to Chow Kit. The cinema is no more there, of course. On the way it rained. We were soaked, but didn't change plans. The air con dried us up, and fortunately we didn't get sick the next day.

When I started working in KL after a brief stint in Melaka, I opened a bank account at the new City Bank on Jalan Ampang, at the AIA building, later made famous by the terrorist attack. At Felda HQ and Jalan Gurney at that time there were no banks. Anyway City Bank seemed a nice change from Malayan Banking, Chartered Bank and the few others at that time. Bank Bumiputra wasn't thought of yet at the time. And who did I find in City Bank? (its Citibank, now). It was Khairuddin. Not behind the counter. He was one of the officers in the back room. So every time I went to the bank, I'd call him out if I wanted to meet him.  Citibank now has another branch near the now defunct Ampang Complex. And I still have my account in Citibank. 

In 1977 or 1978 while posted to Seremban, I was walking in the State Secretariat car park when a BMW drove past me. Khairuddin was driving it ! He stopped and we chatted briefly. He came to see OP Ismail Mansor, who was the SS at that time. He didn't say what for, but I think it was about the car registeration number, because some time later I saw Khairuddin's car with a nice 2-digit Negri registeration. 

Sha and Nor Shaari used to arrange for golf for us in KGNS at one time. Those days the traffic wasn't what it's now. I would join them, and Khairuddin would be there, too.

Khairuddin couldn't attend one of my son's wedding because he had to be with his son in USA. But for my third son's wedding, he almost missed it,too. We had arranged for the ceremony in KL, at the Dewan Merak Kayangan Felda. My other children's wedding were all in Seremban. My invitation card clearly stated the venue. But Felda has two halls, one is Merak Kayangan, the other the Dewan Perdana. It so happened that there were two different weddings that evening. Khairuddin went to Dewan Perdana. By 9 p.m. he realized he must have been in the wrong wedding because he couldn't recognize anyone. Luckily the two halls are within walking distance. When he and his wife finally made it to the right one, he came to me, and I made arrangement to seat him among my in-laws' group.

The last few OP gatherings we had were not attended by Khairuddin. So the last time I met him was too many years ago. And now he's gone.

May your soul be among the blessed, dear friend, amin.


Sunday, June 7, 2020

Memoriies from "rumah sekolah".

Mon. 8.6.20

Let's see. I entered Std. 1 in the Sekolah Latihan SITC Tg. Malim in 1951. I was 6. So these recollections from pre-Tg. Malim years have to be from 1950 and earlier. I must have been 5 or younger.

I remember living in the "rumah sekolah" - the school quarters, Sekolah Melayu Kuala Pilah, but remember also that we often went to wan's (granny) house in Bukit Temensu. We would go by "becha" - the tricycle type, with the operator pedalling the bicycle attached to the one-wheeled cab.  There were a few of them, then. We would also go by "becha" - the two-wheeled cab pulled by a Chinese "tukang becha". There was only one, pulled by an old Chinese wearing black sandals made from old tyres. When he retired, the service also ended. We would also go by car, though I can't remember the type. I do remember, though,  going to Senaling and into the kampong along the old Senanling-Sri Menanti road in a taxi without side windows, like the old T-type Ford you see in old photographs.

The rumah sekolah had walls that did not go right to the floor. I suspect this was for ventilation, though I doubt it was good for the insect-prevention aspect of it. We had no mosquito problems, though, because we had mosquito nets for everyone. I remember many afternoons, lying on the cool cement floor, peering out through the gap in the wall, looking at the plants and feeding chicken outside of the house.

Relatives often came to the rumah sekolah. Bukit Temensu was only about 2 miles away. Tg. Jati and Pekan Lama were about that distance also, but in the opposite direction. Only Terachi was 18 miles away, and we needed to take the bus or taxi.  I mention these places because those were where our close relatives were.

Notwithstanding that, dad's relative from Simpang Durian, which is close to the Pahang border on the Jelebu side of the state, also used to visit. She was dad's second cousin or something, Mak cik Niat. On one such visit, after spending the night, which was usual, she left the next day while dad was at school and mom was doing some house chores. But she took along Fadzil, my younger brother by about 1 year.  She didn't tell anyone about it. I didn't realize it, too. Imagine the consternation when dad came back and mom realized Fadzil was missing. They both concluded Mak cik Niat was the culprit. Dad was furious, but I don't remeber mom crying or anything. I remember dad saying "tell us first !" ("bagi lah tahu !")

Both of my parents went to fetch Fadzil from Simpang Durian. I don't remember if it was the same day. I think it was the next day. But I remember mom saying when they reached Mak cik Niat's house, she was lying on the verendah and had her long hair hanging over the verendah, singing.

There was a time when British soldiers were encamped on the town padang, just opposite the school. They were there for some time. They even had a tent chapel, complete with the preacher's rostrum and pews with yellow cushions stuffed with coconut husk. I know this, because when they eventually broke camp, they gave us some of the yellow cushions.

The soldiers also held archery practice in the shallow valley behind our rumah sekolah. I remember one time my brother and I peered over the edge of the practice area, and one of the archers turned his aim at us. We ran back to the house, scared stiff.  Today, this would have been an issue.

We kept some chicken. Of course, the "musang" also visited. One night the musang got hold of a hen which made so much noise we all woke up, and the musang fled without the kill. Dad called someone who came with a shotgun. It was a moonlit night. They put the bloodied carcass on the trunk of a coconut tree in the house compound, and waited in the house varendah for the musang to return and claim its kill. The musang outfoxed everybody.

The school has been renovated and enlarged over the years, but the basic facade with the cobbled wall remains. I was surprised to see its sister school in Port Dickson, the GES. It must have been the same government architect. The rumah sekolah also remained for a time, even after I had started working and drove by to have a look. But it's gone now.

But the memories remain. 


Friday, June 5, 2020

Salleh Md. Nor.

Sat 6 June 2020.

Last month Hank asked to check for typographical errors on a few articles to be published by the OPA group. One source was OP Salleh Md. Nor, the first FRIM DG. I happen to know a bit of the child about 70 years ago, and I told Hank that.

We were in Bukit Temensu, Kuala Pilah before my father was transferred to SITC Tg. Malim in 1950 -1951 or thereabout. We used to stay in the Sekolah Melayu Kuala Pilah's only quarters near town, the one they called Sekolah "A" to differentiate it from the other smaller school near the old hospital, Sekolah "B". Bukit Temensu was my grandparents' house we moved back to before the Tg. Malim transfer. I should be no more than 5 at that time, because I only started school in Tg. Malim.

There was this young school boy, who lived with his parents in the converted garage of the Istana Hinggap ( roughly, "the holiday palace" ) that was on royal grounds of maybe 3 acres next to my grandparents house. His father, Md. Nor used to be the Yang Dipertuan Besar's driver. At that time I don't remember if he still was the driver or not, but he was housed in that Istana Hinggap belonging to the Royal family.  It was said that the Yamtuan brought him to London and he drove there, and knew the roads! Years later, I think after we came back from Tg. Malim, I learned that he had moved to his old kampong in Simpang Ampat, Alor Gajah, where he later died. I think his wife, the boys's mother, was from Juasseh. His uncle, Bador, moved into the vacated quarters. I know Zainal Abidin, Bador's son, who became a Major in the army, who became a golf teaching pro when he retired.

The boy I'm talking about is Salleh.

Every afternoon we could see Salleh looking after a few cows after school, always with a book in his hands. He would herd the animals close to the large drain that run across my grandparents' house, because between the house gates and the then very lightly travelled road was a stretch of grass just nice for the cattle. Plus it was not far from his house. My father would remark "look at that boy, always reading even while looking after his cattle." It was said in praise, and obviously as an example for me and Fadzil, my younger brother. We would watch Salleh engrossed in his book in admiration

Salleh went to FMC, PD, and went on to get his PhD and later became the first DG of FRIM. When I enrolled in PD, Salleh had already left.

I met Salleh a few times when I was in Felda.  I think this was in the late 70's or early 80's. The first encounter was in the car park. He was leaving, and I greeted him. "I'm Cikgu Yunus' son" was my way of introducing myself. I had recognized him. He seemed to remember Cikgu Yunus. We had a brief exchange. Years later the same thing happened, also at the car park, I think. But Fadzil met him at a few official functions, and he said Salleh remembered.

Also next to my grandparents house was a large Malay house with a "loteng" (loft), an uncommon feature. The house was traditional and built with "ponak" (hardwood). It belonged to Omar, the petition-writer.

Azizah, Omar's daughter, was the staff-nurse who looked after the Yamtuan Abdul Rahman in his last years as the first Agong. Ita (Kamal "Yamashita") was Omar's son that I was friends with until his death because of diabetic complications some years ago.

When Omar, and then his wife, passed away, the house was left empty because everyone had moved out. Azizah, Baharuddin and "Unnga" had died. Lokman, Ita, Kakak and the other sisters have long moved out to their own houses in KP, Johore, Seremban and KL.

Ita, who lived in Batu 46, some 3 miles away, would come to the empty family home daily to plant some vegetables. The land the house was on is very large - at least 4-5 acres, stretching from the main road right into Kg. Tebat Kering, where my parents had built their house.  When my mother was still alive, I would visit once or twice a month, and seeing Ita's black Morris Minor, would saunter over to chit-chat with him. I always told him that he should replace the thatched roof of the old house with zinc sheets, because the attap was obviously disintegrating.  With the roof gone, the house would soon go, too, I warned.  His reply was always "there are many beneficiaries, and all must agree first."

Naturally, neglected, the house lost all its roofing, and the walls were now visibly damaged by the weather. Only the quality of the timber put some resistence to the wear.

So who came to the rescue ?

I don't know how he knew. I'm sure he had not returned to Bukit Temensu, because there is no reason for that. I've heard him say that he used to visit his aunty in Juasseh, but that is the opposite direction. But Salleh apparently found out about the house.

Salleh had the whole house dismantled and the valuable timber all hauled to its new site somewhere. I heard Salleh built a new house.

Might as well. In the notes I helped check, I read that Salleh has a new wife.