Saturday, September 9, 2017

Qurban 2017 (1/9/2017 - 10 Zulhijjah 1438)

10 September 2017.

Hari Raya Qurban was more than a week ago. The surau run by the Islamic Welfare Association where I'm chairman had our own qurban of 4 cattle and 1 sheep, which was about the usual number we've had for the last few years. The difference was, this was the first time we'd done it with the new secretary of the association. To cut the story short, the old secretary had been holding the post since I became chairman, and I let him run the show undisturbed all this time. But late last year he lost his temper several times  at several of our functions ( and I kept quiet ) and finally said publicly (but not in front of me) he wanted to quit the post. Finally, after a reminder from R.O.S. about our overdue AGM, and the old secretary refused to arrange for it after a few reminders from me, I and the other committee members organized for it, and we appointed the new secretary together with the other office bearers. The old secretary made it easier by just not turning up. So this qurban without him turned out ok, anyway.

We had to do it on the day after the Raya itself, because Raya was on a Friday. It would have been too rushed for time, with the Raya prayers and Friday prayers within a few hours, and it was within the 3-day tashreek anyway. Even then we started later than usual - 10.30 - because the imam who did the actual slaughter had to marry-off someone first. After refreshments after the qurban the imam himself suggested that we should start training someone else to take over the job, plus (showing his trembling hands) he's getting old for it (he's coming to 80, in fact). Nan, the bilal, who was there said he's willing to try next time, but he's not much younger himself.

The wife and three of my children had their own qurban that same Saturday, back at Lonek, which the children had arranged with their cousins months ago. My eldest son chose to celebrate Raya in Keluang this year, for the first time.  So by the time everybody was back in the house, we had about 5 kg. of beef, parts and bones in the freezer. We promptly made some "sup tulang" and "rendang hati".

This Monday the oldest of the grandchildren, Arsyad and Iman, both 12, will sit for their school examinations. I hope they have prepared themselves well. These are so competitive today. Everybody sends his child for extra tuition now, as with these two. I hear they cost a bundle, and I believe them, because one of my golfing "kaki", a retired teacher, also does tuition, and he's not exactly complaining about the money. In fact last year he went for a trip to Europe and England with his family!

I've been following some of my friends' banter on the fb. In the past I'd occasionally chipped in, but lately have not. They're just making conversational comments, and what might pass for innocuos remarks could turn into gory thrust & parry with unthinking replies. As one of them said, we're entitled to our opinion but must also respect other's. In person we're usually more restrained because the other party is right there to give it back. But restrain is something I've to still learn, because even while playing golf I can still shoot my mouth. But if you study the details you'd find there's always reason for the "shooting from the hips". Age and previous superior position held ( say, an Appeals Court Judge ) have not deterred me from shooting from the lips. 

Sadly, I also lost a friend this week. 

Lt. Col (R) Arham Nordin succumbed to illness suffered for a few years but gotten worse only since last Ramadan. About three weeks ago I saw him from a distance at the mosque, being helped by his sons as they left after Friday prayers. I heard about his hospitalisation and grave condition but kept postponing a visit because of my three grandchildren attending nursery and having to pick them up at 5.15, which is about the hospital visiting hours. Regretfully, it's too late now.

Arham was 65, and was very active (and vocal) with the surau's activities. In fact except for this last Ramadan, he would be the regular alternate bilal for our tarawih prayers. Sadly, his children decided to hold the funeral prayers at home. Many, including me, couldn't take part in the crammed space. Many I spoke to also regretted not being able to join the prayers. The surau is only 200 m. away. It would have been a great honour to have the big crowd that came all join in the last congregation in Arham's final worldly farewell. I suppose family wishes take precedent. May he rest in peace.


Saturday, August 12, 2017


Sunday August 13, 2017.

At 11 a.m. yesterday I left for Hj. Latiff's house at Bukit Rasah. The "tahlil" was supposed to be at 11, but I had to finish 9 holes first at S.I.G.C. As expected there was plenty of time, because after arriving there I had a full 15 minutes before we were invited into the house for the "tahlil" proper. It was for the departure of some members of the family for the haj, which season ends at the end of this month, the 9th. of Zulhijjah 1348 H.

On Friday morning Wahid called, conveying Hj. Latiff's invitation. I'd said why are you calling, not Hj. Latiff himself, and Wahid laughed. I repeated this to Hj. Latiff when I shook hands with him. When I saw Wahid there later, I said I'm only angry because he didn't call me about Baharin Taib's passing that I found out only a week later, but Wahid said in fact he was in Johor at that time.

Hj. Latiff bin Othman was the personnel officer, Felda, Jalan Maktab, KL, who I reported to on March 15, 1969 upon accepting the offer from "Lembaga Kemajuan Tanah Persekutuan" for the post of "Pegawai Pentadbir" in a letter signed by Kamaruzzaman Abd. Halim b.p. Pengerusi, Lembaga Kemajuan Tanah Persekutuan, dated February 8, 1969 ref. (T) 1/A/1AO. The letter said I was to reply before February 15 whether accepting or not. The pay was $850 a month on the salary scale $850 x 50 -$1,000/E.B./$1,050 x 50 - $1,250/E.B./$1,300 x 50 - $1,500. At that time, since October 1, 1968, I was employed as "Penolong Pegawai Daerah, Alor Gajah" on a 3 - year probation with a monthly salary of $430 per month. L.K.T.P.'s offer was 1.98 times more. I couldn't refuse.  Today, of course, this is peanuts - a general clerk starts at almost 1,000 now. But for perspective, in 1968 a brand new Volkswagen (beetle) cost $5,300.  A bunglow in Ampang Jaya, KL, cost $15,000! I was 24. I had just graduated from U.M. in the middle of 1968, and although I went for an interview at the PSD, Jalan Young, KL, I failed to get a scholarship to read Law in England. So the Alor Gajah stint, when it came, had to be grabbed. The late Mokhtar Selat, our former ambassador to Chile or Peru ( I can't remember which one - you remember the embassy kidnapping case) also attended the same interview, but he succeeded where I failed.

When Noraya Khalidun came to our table yesterday, I told her that Hj. Latiff's father was related to hers, from Tanjung Ipoh. In fact Hj. Latiff  had just told me that, when I said I saw Noraya with the women, but she didn't seem to recognize me. Even Noraya didn't know that, saying she thought his father  was from Juasseh. Hj. Latiff's mother was from Rembang Panas, which was where I thought both his parents were from. I know exactly where his old house  is, because from 1995 to 1999 I was the State Assemblyman for Senaling, and I pass that location more times than I can remember. Noraya was with me in Seremban for a brief period, in one of my two postings there.

Hj. Latiff started with the Police, but couldn't get used to the social life in the force, and resigned and joined Felda. Yesterday, recalling this, Hj. Latiff remarked if he didn't leave he could have been sacked! Like me, he also went through a few transfers between KL and Seremban, but stayed with Felda to the end. He's 81 now, is mostly wheelchair-bound because of his knees. I remember meeting him a few times in the last couple of years with a walking stick, but was still able to walk then. But unlike me, Hj. Latiff always stayed in Seremban, in this very Bukit Rasah house. In fact he also bought the next house, during the real estate downturn in the 70's. When he was first posted to Felda hq, he would rent a room on top of Hameed's restaurant at Jalan Gurney.  I would see his old 122 Volvo parked there. Then he bought a diesel-powered Toyota, when diesel cost 50 sen, and travelled every day from Seremban. In fact many Felda officers drove diesel cars because of the amount of travelling involved.

When I reported for duty at Felda, Halim (rock foundation) and A.K. Bear (Lumumba) were already there, but both left for the MCS after about one year. But surprisingly, unlike many of our contemporaries in that service, neither made it to the Chief Secretary of the Ministry. I met Halim recently at the OPA, and A.K.Bear called me about somebody about 2 weeks ago.

I remember Hj. Latiff's father and younger brother. In 1958 I entered the finals of the oratory competition for "Afternoon Religious Schools, N.S.", held in Rembau. His brother entered the Quran reading competition - his father was a Quran teacher, I think. I won my competition, but I can't remember what happened to his brother. Hj. Latiff also remembers about that competition.

Several people at Hj. Latiff's place, I remembered well enough. But all seemed different, with the white hair and the sagging faces. Sometimes I feel lucky to still have decent health and to still play golf almost daily at the club. Hj. Latiff is a case in point. I told him I met Dollah Yusof at Datuk Sulaiman's reception. He's 77 and has glaucoma in the right eye, but is still walking straight, except he can't drive. But I also met Raja Alias at Fadzil's place, and he's still sprightly at 83, although he's also all white now.

One of the reasons why Hj. Latiff arranged for yesterday's khenduri, Wahid said, was to gather old friends. I think it's the nice thing to do. I wouldn't want to miss these if I can. If invited.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Back to Jalan Maktab.

Almost forgot. On Tuesday, August 1, visited Jalan Maktab. After 27 years. Adik just moved office to UTM here. I left Jalan Maktab the last day of December 1990.

Had him pick me up at Damai LRT, and went for early (12 p.m.) lunch at "Bismillah" Jalan Gurney. Then visited his new work-place at UTM, Jalan Maktab branch. In fact today was his first day, and the assigned office was still bare. There were a few people about, but they just ignored us. So Adik showed me around the empty rooms, with unarranged brand new furniture and boxes of equipment strewn about, unopened. This is his sixth or seventh job, I've lost count, but at least he's holding a more senior post (and the suitable incremental stipend, hopefully).

I just suggested that he gets a bigger room and an assigned parking space, appropriate with his position. Once that happens, he's to call me and we'll have lunch at "Impiana Hotel". Just don't tell Banjat. He'll find an excuse to disappear.


Wafa, Muaz & Miqdad.

Monday August 7, 2017.

Today is the first day of "play-school" for my daughter's 3-year-old daughter and her 2-year-old twin boys. It's at the neighbourhood's "Mindaku" nursery & kindergarten. For 5 days each week they'll be there from 7.30 to 5.30. It'll cost 1,240 monthly, which seems to be the standard fee, but this includes food and drinks and full day-care.

The 3 have been a handful, for parents, grandparents and 1 full-time servant. The house has been a mess since they could walk, as you can imagine. The wall-paper has been a victim, as has the walls themselves, of modern art and quick little hands. We've lost count of the broken cups and table decorations. Any audio recording would have the screams of all 8 mentioned above.

This seems to be a workable arrangement, but only time will tell. The older girl seems to take it all calmly just now, straightaway picking up the toys, but the twins are screaming their heads off. The old house will get a respite, and the tots should learn social skills for most of the day, and peace should reign. The twelve hundred seems reasonable.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Abdullah Yusof

Saturday Aug 5, 2017.

Datuk Sulaiman, erstwhile Appeals Court judge, current golfing opponent, had been talking about his in-law, Dollah Yusof, in a few of our earlier golf rounds, maybe a year ago, adding that Dollah's wife was "Miss Terengganu". Well, today he put me at the same table with Dollah & ex Miss Terengganu, at the reception for his son's wedding at Pusat Dakwah, Seremban. This was a special seating because the sign "reserved" was still intact on the table. Dollah, of course remembered, but the wife obviously was lost. I said "I went to your house once, when still with Felda". That didn't help but was all I could offer.

Dollah looked older and much more frail. I remember him as tall and thin. Today he was not so tall and much thinner. And unlike before, wearing thick glasses. He's 77, he said. He has glaucoma in the right eye and says he can't drive anymore. He served 41 long years in Felda. That's twice my own time there, and maybe 4 years longer than Raja Alias. Dollah said he started in 1966. That's 3 years ahead of me. But I left at the end of 1990.  That's 17 years ahead of  him.

I first met Dollah in Felda at one of the regular Regional Managers' meetings at our hq in Jalan Maktab. He was then the R.S. Terengganu, and the most senior among the R.S's. At the end of the meeting he said "let's give a hand for the closure of this meeting". That's when I learned that he was the most senior of the R.S's. We had the meeting in the only meeting room we had at our humble hq, on the ground floor of the L-shaped 4-storey building that right now awaits destruction making way for more modern development in this highly-priced area of the city.

All the years that we spent together in Felda, in a few of them in direct superior-subordinate relationship, we never spoke much when we met, either in the office or passing each other. Dollah had a funny way of smiling at you. The ends of his upper lips would jerk up very quickly and come back to square almost immediately. That was supposed to be a smile, I think. Fadzil noticed it, too, and used to comment to me about it, and we would chuckle.

Today, over the sumptious lunch, we probably spoke more than the 21 years that we spent together in Felda. There were  no hard feelings today by both of us, I'm sure. Those were different times. I learned that he has 12 grandchildren, to my 10. His son sitting with us drove them today. He's with Shell, and I said my no. 3 was with Shell also, but left to join another O & G company. I told him I met Raja Alias at Fadzil's house recently, and when I commented "what's happening to Felda, ungku?" he responded "our time has gone". Dollah said he meets Raja Alias once in a while. He's 83. His father died at 101. His second son, now around 40+, is still not married. Many of our old friends in Felda have passed on, he lamented. Taufik, Ghani and Hj. Nasir among them. I said Fadzil told me about Hj. Nasir when I was in Kelang, and drove to his house at UK Heights and found the remains already at the mosque. I saw Aziz Zakaria, Husein Menggong, Muhammad Jamil and Ismail Atan there. I said I joined MISC January 1990 and stayed for almost 5 years, and I resigned and stood for elections in 1995. I was a politician trying to work like an administrator, and that wasn't it. And I introduced Maulud, sitting with us, to him. And on and on we went, and I had to leave because Maulud wanted to go to Shah Alam.

48 years is a long time. But the first 21 years of those still bring memories, both good and not-so-good. This is one such note.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ishak Ismail, Al Fatihah

Wed 19 July 2017 (25 Syawal 1438)

At 12.20 noon today, I stood on the first line of the funeral congregation at the Paroi Jaya mosque, right behind the covered shroud containing the remains of my old friend, Ishak Ismail, Dato', Yang Berhormat, the late Assemblyman for Lenggeng. At around past midnight last night, Jimi called, saying that Ishak had just collapsed at YB Samad of Seri Menanti's Raya function, and died. He asked that I visit the next morning, in Kuala Pilah. I calculated that services would be at around zohor prayers, and there would be sufficient time for my regular 9-holes before driving back to KP. But as I was unloading my golf bag from my boot at the club's car park, I heard over the p.a. system of the nearby  Paroi Jaya mosque the bilal announcing  the funeral bathing and prayer  arrangements there, not in KP.  So here I was, in good time, saying my silent goodbye to a fellow "wakil rakyat". We started together in 1995. Ishak was 66.

Ishak would have been proud of the thousand-plus crowd that came. The car park was full, overflowing on to the roadside outside. It was mostly men, with a smaller group of women, as is customary.Many familiar faces were there, many expected ones were absent, but the vast majority were unfamiliar faces and they took up all the space in the mosque, as well as  filling the footpath area  outside. The ablution took longer than expected, but by 12.15 the freshly washed and shrouded remains were brought into the prayer hall. The prayers were led by the incumbent UMNO Ketua Bahagian of Seremban, YB Dato Abu, who surprisingly beat Ishak in the last party elections. 

As a long-time party man, Ishak had both supporters and detractors. He was loud and very opinionanted, and took sides bravely. You may not agree with him, and many don't, but he was never shy. I thought that he was unnecessarily strident when a quiet, firm stand would have sufficed, and at other times strangely mute, when the public issue demanded criticism from someone in his exact position. His own private follies had become more public in recent times, sadly, but we're in no position to judge him. He most certainly attracted admirers in robustly carrying out his responsibilities as an Assemblyman and the long-time chief of UMNO Seremban. It's interesting, but probably fitting, that the quiet man who toppled him led the final prayers for him today.

May Allah accept all your supplications, and forgives all your weaknesses, Ishak. Al Fatihah !


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Port Dickson's Federation Military College alumni Raya.

Sunday 16 July 2017 - 22Syawal 1438.

About 150 of us gathered at the OPA Penthouse, Saujana, at noon today, for a Raya gathering of the Port Dickson batch of the 1952 - 1961 intakes. These were those who entered the College at the Port Dickson camp, because in the middle of 1961 the College moved to Sungai Besi. Of those surviving who could make it, anyway. When Salim Rahim and Halim Shah Murad finished marking in red all the names pinned on the wall of these intakes now deceased, there was a generous swath of red ink across the list. When Radzi Shiekh Ahmad, the gathering chairman, offered prayers for the dear departed, I felt a touch of sadness doubtless many present shared with me. For the 1952 intakes, they're now 65 years past their third-form ages of around 15, making them about 80 years old. The youngest intake of 1961 like me are all above 70 years ! Certainly the hairlines and hair tones were indicative, and there were a few walking sticks, too. Many showed the ravages of time, but there were those that seemed to age well, like Yusuf Ali Zain and Raja Aman.

I recognized, greeted and exchanged banter with many of my 1961 intake. There was Hank, Salim, Shahruddin, Nor Shaari, Mooi Yoke Loong, Gurdial Singh, Yusuf Ali Zain, Amin, Abd. Rahman, Megat, Hamid Arshad, Farid Wardi, Mansor Salleh, Raja Aman, Liew Yeow Kheong, Li Heng Tiong and Khairuddin amongst them. I recognized many of the older intakes, too. It was nostalgic.

In spite of being a life member of OPA and a former member of the Saujana Golf Club from 1980 to 2000, this was the first time I set foot into the OPA penthouse. I had the vague idea that it was closer to the golf club than it actually is. I think it's quite a nice place and seems well-run. I see that the whole area has been fully developed and looks well-to-do, as it should be, I suppose. It's a Paremba project, I think. In fact it's OPA Razali of Paremba who got the site for the Penthouse, if I'm not mistaken.

After the customary photo sessions, the food served was good. I had a bit of everything, as it was exactly lunchtime. But I slipped out early through the kitchen while the din grew louder with the live music in the dining room, and everyone was engaged with everyone else. I had to get back to Seremban because the missus had to attend some function of her own.

Well done, Nawi & co.