Friday, November 17, 2017

Small miracles happen.

Friday 17 November 2017.

Small miracles happen.

No earth-shattering moments, or heaven-shaking explosions, but miraculous all the same.

Thursday, I had to sacrifice my golf and my fiddling with the internet to send my only daughter to Ipoh for her High Court appearance Friday. Hanif was engaged elsewhere, and I couldn't let my daughter drive alone for the longish distance.

Friday noon I had to make a bigger compromise by converting the compulsory Friday prayers into the solat musaffir jamak-kathar, may Allah Forgive me. Maybe what happened later was some sort of message for me, but I offered a sujud in thanks later that day.

We arrived home, the three of us minus Dekna we dropped off at the AG's in Putrajaya around 1.30. It was now about a quarter-past two, and a slight drizzle fell. As usual, the wife scooted into the house with 3-year-old Wafa, and there was just poor me to unload, stack and store the stuff we managed to collect the last two days on the road. Because of the hands-full situation, I just put the 2 bunches of house keys and car keys on the boot of the old Volvo that was left parked in the porch all the while. I must have placed the 2 sets of keys right up to the edge of the Volvo's back glass screen, where there is a slight indention between the glass screen and the top of the boot. That, in hindsight, must have made the keys less slippery on that boot top. That the house keys were in a leather-like key-holder, and the car keys were in a ring with a designer key-strap may have also helped.

Anyway, while I went to clear the stuff into my den and the kitchen, the wife hurried to change to go for her precious Pekerti meeting at the Pekerti Hall about 2 K away. I got Wafa some chocolate and a drink she wanted, conscious that I needed to perform my already delayed prayers. As I went back to my den and started to sort out the debris, I remembered to look for the keys as is my habit when returning home. By then the wife had, I vaguely remembered hearing, driven out. As usual, she didn't check for anything before putting the key in the starter switch and starting the car. Now I realized, suddenly, the keys were not where I expected to find them, either on my writing table or on the cupboard ledge, their usual spot. I went outside the den and couldn't find them on the centre dining table or the decorative side-table, the only two likely places in the sitting room. With sudden panic I rushed outside into the car porch, to see maybe the keys were on the two tables there, while suddenly remembering maybe I had put them on the boot-top of the Volvo, which was by now no longer there ! My heart sank when I now realized they had been left on the Volvo and I had forgotten about them. And now they were already probably lost.

In TDS, with several new additions, there are probably 100 road bumps, installed to cut down the speeding vehicles moving about the housing estate. To go to the Pekerti Hall, you have to also go through narrow, congested roads that lead to the heavy Ampang main road, through about 3-4 traffic lights, and a U-turn to the Klana Resort and the Hall some 300 m from there. What I'm saying is, if the wife, because she was late, sped through the bumps and the swerves and sharp turns, there was no reason for anything on the flat top of the car boot not to slip off, fall on the road and get lost forever!

Once I accepted that I had left the keys on the top of the boot cover, I did the only thing left to do - call the wife on her mobile phone.

Now, this wonderful contraption is not attended to by my wife like normal people. 50% of the time, calls are unanswered. The rest of the time the device is left somewhere else. In other words, if getting her on the phone is that important, don't hold your breath!

But this time, one ring, or maybe 2, and she answered! I said to check on the boot-top straight away for the keys. I had time to scold her why she doesn't check the car before driving off, as if that was her fault!

I called Wafa, grabbed an umbrella, took the spare house key (her spare key she's supposed to always take with her, and this time didn't), and was about to lock the house door and somehow try to trace the car track from the house to the road junction at the "Angsana" and look for 2 tiny bunches of keys on the road or on the side of the road - a scheme that looked hopeless even before it started, when Idah called back. "The keys are here" she said.

I called Dekna and related the whole thing, more out of relief than anything else.


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Friday, October 13, 2017

MUBARAK NS 3/2017 meeting.

Fri 13 Oct 2017.

Just 5 days after "the fight at OK Corral" in Kota Bharu, Yazid called for to-day's "sudden" meeting. Sudden because the AGM was just 5 days ago, and the NS meeting exactly 1 month ago, and this is only the 3rd. meeting for the year. Remarkably Yazid admitted he had a one-hour meeting with the MB this morning. I think he must have let his heart out about being double-crossed in Kota Bharu.

The truth is, Yazid took his loss in Kota Bharu very badly. In these elections, losing 48-84 is huge. He had wanted to resign in a hurried and imprompto meeting in Kota Bharu itself. But, among others, Sainy the former secretary, and Ismail his old friend talked him out of it. Anyway the meeting never happened because there were not enough members present.

So to-day Yazid really let fly. The only thing he left out was naming the  target of his fury, but everyone knew who it was. The funny thing was, I'm not sure that guy knew who Yazid was talking about. I know him from the 1970's. He was one of my very junior subordinates, and I can't vouch for his intelligence.

Yazid went as far as threatening a sacking for his "enemy in the bedsheet." He mentioned his sacking of the secretary of one of the other organizations he chairs.

For to-day, he completed the shut-out by naming the secretary as the second member of the Central Committee, and Yusof Misai as his stand-in. The poor guy who is Negeri's alternate in the Central Committee now is left high-and-dry.

I'd told a few other members of the Negeri committee that I won't come for this sudden meeting, knowing that a fight might take place. I came anyway, because after talking among a few of us, we agreed that we should solidify and not allow Yazid to resign. If this Deputy takes over, MUBARAK NS would be dead. Thus this quickly-summoned meeting had an almost  full-quorum. And in spite of the livid language from Yazid, his target remained wordless and looked lost in his own thoughts. As I said, maybe he was too dumb to realise that Yazid was targeting him! On the way back from Kota Bharu, a couple of the Chinese members also said this guy should resign, not Yazid. Seeing as to how he's friendless now (even his ever-present wife didn't come to-day, a first in my memory), maybe he'll resign now.  That's too good to be true. But not impossible.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

MUBARAK's 14th. AGM.

Wed 11th Oct 2017.

8th. October was the 14th. "Persidangan Agung Tahunan MUBARAK  Malaysia",  the ex-wakil rakyats association's annual general meeting, held at the Perdana Hotel, Kota Bharu, Kelantan. Saturday 7th. was the dinner and opening ceremony, 8th. the AGM proper, and 9th. departure. The importance of the political retirees group to the powers-that-be was underlined by the no-show of the Federal Minister from Kelantan who was supposed to officiate, despite the advance planning. The bias of the group was shown by the non-invitation of the MB of the state, from PAS, although PAS this time around is touted to have reconciled with UMNO, its erstwhile political enemy.

There are 13 states in Malaysia, but Sarawak has yet to join MUBARAK.  With 10 delegates from each of the other 12 states, there should be 120 of us. The actual count was 136. That came from the Central Committee making up the absence of several state delegates.

The main event was supposed to be the voting for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, the President, the Deputy President, and 3 of the 4 Vice Presidents, with the Sabah one pre-nominated. The rest of the Central Committee members are made up of the 12 state Chairmen, selected by each state. The Hon. Secretary, Treasurer and Information Chief are appointed by the President, as are the auditors. All seemed staid. What transpired was the old UMNO dirty tricks, again.

The voting for the present line-up 2 years ago in Kuantan was more robust, I thought. The delegates campaigned for their candidates for the contested posts of other than the President's, who, as this time, won without contest. In fact, it was agreed that I print the name card for the nominee from NS, our chairman, but in Kuantan Chong from Bahau also came with his own cards printed. That Yazid, our chairman, won was because of the apparent extra effort by our delegates from NS, even if it was Yazid's own vote that won him the Deputy Presidency, because he beat the other only opponent by 1 vote !

At our NS preparatory meeting there were misgivings about the Kota Bharu elections.  The earlier announcement by Yazid of his intention of contesting for the Presidency had been retracked because of his so-called compromise of going only for the continuition of his Deputy incumbency. Zaharudin, our secretary, said Yazid should make sure the President  let the Deputy's  contest also be put aside in favour of the incumbent.

To be fair, Yazid had worked hard after his election to the Deputy's post. For NS, he managed to get the MB to approve the land in Bahau, and to revise the pension by 100% ! He was also in the midst of the review for the overall pension structure for all 12 states.

But as the two Ismails said, Yazid's style was an issue. There's a certain snobishness, even when conducting the state meetings. Imagine at the Central Committee, where we have some former Federal Ministers and even MB's. And Yazid was only a State Exco. Surely some salt must have rubbed some wounds !

The last-minute withdrawl of Abu Hassan Omar from Selangor also suggested some power play. 

In the end Yazid lost soundly - 48 to 84, in fact. That's huge by these types of elections. I heard Yazid wanted to convene a Negeri meeting that same night, but Sainy managed to get him to postpone it to some later date, back in Negeri.

By contrast, the clearly inept Chairman got reelected, in spite of the bungles he made in front of everybody.

I took exception also, to this bungling Chairman. I had personally handed him my written request to speak after the lunch break. While some states had already had multiple speakers, Negeri, although scheduled for the morning session, had not been called. And here was the Chairman calling for the next agenda. It took Yusof Misai to grab the floor microphone and loudly demanded Negeri speaks. And that was how I got the mike from the Chair.

All the previous speakers had spoken off the cuff, including the President. Yazid, too, spoke without notes towards the end of the afternoon session, as the outgoing Deputy, and he spoke well enough.

I didn't want to grope around when speaking, and the subject matter entrusted by Negeri was "pension", something everyone was interested in right from the inception of MUBARAK. When I was serving back in 1995 - 1999, I always spoke from my notes. The rumbling speeches before me carried their points, but I wanted to make myself crystal clear and emphatic. I had spent several days writing and rewriting my 3-page notes, and had read them over several times, loudly, in practice. There's this Malaysian style of speaking when the address at the beginning sometimes takes a big chunk of the time. And there's always the repetitions and the loose direction, all time badly spent and all distracting. Speaking from notes is less glamourous, but there's no missing of points.

The notes distributed to the delegates included one on the issue of the pension, from Selangor. I thought the writer was verbose, and trying hard to be legalese , the grammar lethargic. I wanted mine to be street-sharp and curt. I wanted to emphasise justice and fairness, reason and deserved reward. And there was no need for long, vague sentences, with  repetetive and bombastic words.

I took all of 5 minutes.

As I walked  past the Central Committee's dias, the President said "great !" something, and I turned, and both he and the Hon. Secretary stood up and reached for my notes as I handed them towards the President. The Sabahan Vice President later said to me "very clear speech." One of the Melaka delegates said "you did your homework." There were also a couple of congratulations from the other delegates. So I guess I had achieved what I wanted my speech to convey.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Kota Bharu trip.

Tuesday, 10 Oct 2017.

I can't remember when my last trip to Kota Bharu/Kota Bahru (those are the different spellings being used) was. I think it was Shima's wedding. We stayed at Sutera Inn; the groom was from Kg. Sireh, right in town. I remember renting a van from Seremban, driving through Kuala Lipis , Gua Musang, Kuala Krai, and Machang to Kota Bharu. I think it took us one full day, with many stops.

This time I took the one-hour flight from KLIA 2. In fact going, it nearly took half the day. 11 hours, in fact.

This was my first time with the low-cost Air Asia, and the first time through KLIA 2. The travel agent said to be 3 hours before the 1 o'clock flight. I had to believe him. I urged my daughter to drive me at 8 a.m. We arrived at KLIA2 at 9. I checked in at 10, as insructed by the girl guarding the q-line. I went into Gate K 4 when they called at 12. Then they announced the plane had technical problems. At first they couldn't say when the flight would be rescheduled, and gave us food coupons and bottled water. I drank the bottled water, but didn't redeem the food coupons because I had to go out to the main foyer just to cash in RM 20. Finally, the flight was set for 5 p.m., 4 hours late. We landed at Kota Bharu at 6. We collected our baggage from the carousel, caught a taxi to Perdana Hotel, and arrived at close to 7. That's 11 hours !

I found out at Kota Bharu airport these delays and cancellations were common for Air Asia.

Returning 3 days later wasn't as bad. There was no delay, and after 30 minutes in the air, we were already making the landing descent. My next-seat fellow passenger, a Hoe from Kota Bharu, said Air Asia sometimes speed up the flight, because the plane would continue to another longer  destination. Hmm. I think I know the trick.Better turnaround, better load factor, cheaper variable cost.
But Air Asia is cheaper than MAS. The return ticket, including RM 50 for 15 kg checked in luggage, was RM 305. They say if you do your own midnight internet booking at home, you can get even cheaper ticket. In fact it's all digital and on-line now, something very different from my old flying days. I feel out of date.

I stayed at the old but newly refurbished Perdana Hotel for 3 days and 2 nights, for Mubarak Malaysia's 14 AGM, on which I'll write separately. Because of the AGM and the dinners arranged, there was no time to go to town. But the hotel stay was ok. The room was ok.  The food was ok.  The staff was ok. It was all paid for. So everything was, well, ok ! I wonder how much it cost. Let's see. The room RM 200/night, food RM 180/day, times 3 days and 2 nights, that's 800 x 136 participants = RM 108,800.

Kota Bharu airport is as small as I remember it. Maybe there're more shops now, but nobody seemed to be buying. With bottled water at RM 3, and a sandwich at RM 7.50, I wasn't surprised.

KLIA 2 was a pleasant surprise. I remember the hue-and-cry in the news when it was opened, about all the glitches. But now I find it well laid out, well-stocked and well patronised. I think it's about the size of KLIA, but there are more shops. Certainly there's a much bigger crowd. This must be because of the bigger number of destinations and busier schedules. If you're not into walking, KLIA 2 isn't for you. They should put in more of those "walkerlators" like in Singapore's Changi Airport. I saw several buggies, but nobody was driving them and they were conspicously parked here and there. What a waste.



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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.



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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Hj.Latiff.

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.


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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.


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