Thursday, September 29, 2016

Losing another family member.

Thursday 29th.September 2016.

I remember "Ne'ah" when Pak Lang Gani and Mak Lang were still alive. I remember going to the Ulu Bendul house many times, especially during Hari Rayas. Ne'ah was the quiet one. She always kept quiet. When the others present would talk and laugh, she just smiled. She was quietly married to someone down that footpath disappearing toward the other side of the padi field (there was a padifield in front and at the back of the house then). I remember she bore a son.

Kak Ngah Ne'ah passed away last night.

I missed the sms from Yati, but coming back from my golf, Calit called. We were able to join the funeral prayers at the surau, right after the midday Zohor.  When the imam offered any family member to head the congregation, I suggested the son, but he declined and requested the imam to do it. It's a simple ritual that I've told my children to do, when my time comes. My brother Fadzil did it for my father; I did for my mother. It was our final "ibadah" for them.

Fuad Jaafar, Hashim Meon, and Zainal Taib were the familiar faces present. I didn't see anyone from Induk's side. When I went to the bank in Seremban after coming back from Ulu Bendul, I met Ghaffar, besan to the late Kak Ngah of Kg. Ibol, and mentioned the absence of members of this family, but he wasn't even aware of the sad  passing. 

Some major works are going on on the old abondoned sawah in front of the old house. That part is hardly recognizable now. Pak Lang used to park his Ford "Prefect" on that tiny ledge between the steep slope and the stream. It was British, and had only 3 gears. I remember riding it a few times. Many things are just memories now.


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Friday, September 23, 2016

Universities' world ranking.

Friday 23rd.September 2016.

The U.K. based analyst, Times Higher Education, has just produced its ranking of universities world-wide. Obviously the university people are keenly poring over it. Should it be of great importance to the general public?

It has been said it's just a parlour game. The list should draw attention, however, and because it does, it weilds influence. Like the university exams they conduct, surely faculty people would want to know how their schools fare.

I was interested to see how Malaysia ranks in this list. We have never been brilliant before, and we are still far from it this time, too. But on the scores by countries based on 6 chosen "averages", Malaysia is not at the bottom of the heap.

On Average Overall Score, Malaysia is no. 43.
On Average Teaching Score, it's 24.
On Average Research Score, it's 33.
On Average Citation Score, it's 54.
On Average Industry Income, it's 35.
On Average International Outlook, it's 29.

Singapore tops all 6 scores ! 

In fact in the Total Overall Ranking Worldwide, the National University of Singapore is  an excellent no. 24! 

And to think that the Singapore university started as the University of Malaya in 1949, and later in 1959 as the University of Malaya (Singapore), with the sister campus in Kuala Lumpur. It was only in 1962 that University of Malaya was permanently in Kuala Lumpur, and the Singapore campus became the National University of Singapore. 

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia comes out no. 601 in the ranking.

The 2016 list awards Oxford , England , as the world's top university. It's the oldest university in England, the producers of poets and politicians since 1096. There's a lesson there, somewhere.

The oldest university in continuous existence in the West is said to be the University of Bologna, Italy, established in 1088. But this listing arguably  excludes those which are deemed "religious" and not strictly following the operational practices of western universities. If one considers a university as an institute of learning that awards "degrees" to its graduates, the Al Azhar University in Cairo has been in existence since being founded by the Fatimids in 970, more than one century before Oxford or Bologna.

In the top 25 list, 19 are from USA, 5 from UK, 1 Switzerland, 1 Canada and the single one from Asia -  Singapore.

The Singapore government says since the island has no natural resources, it is investing heavily in its small population, and if this listing is any indication, it's succeeding.

Malaysia has 10 times more people, and is abundant with natural 
resources, in comparison to Singapore. The first university was started at the same time as Singapore, in 1959. In fact it was originally the same university. Since then both countries have added more universities and polytechnics. In my last count, there are presently 20 Public universities, 70 Private ones, and 33 polytechnics in Malaysia. It took almost 10 years for the second university(UKM) to be opened in 1970, but they have been breeding like rabbits since. Are these 123 institutions of higher learning sufficient for the 30-million total population ?

Obviously quantity alone is insufficient. The THE formula is: teaching, research, citations, "international outlook", industrial income and knowledge transfer. I remember a faculty member at the UM saying years ago "publish or perish." It's high time that they take a hard look at this list, and take to heart that phrase.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Aris Abas,

Tuesday 20th,September 2016.

Aris Abas has died. 

Asiah called at about 3 p.m. with the sad news. A couple of hours later Kamariah also called. She was on her way to Jengka 23, Pahang, where the burial would take place later to-day. She didn't know if she'd make it on time, but I said she has to go anyway.

Dekna and I were visiting ailing Thareez, at KPJ Seremban when Asiah called.  He had chest pains Sunday, and this afternoon continues with further tests. On admission the bp was very high. Just now he was waiting to be scanned, because the heartbeat is very fast, about 90 ! The earlier prognosis was it could be an infection.

Aris was the older of the two sons of the late Mak Ngah Ramlah, who was from Kelang, that she had before she married the late Pak Ngah Othman, my late mother's second oldest brother, thus "Angah" or "Tengah", meaning "middle." Aris' younger brother, Arif, lives in Taman Permata, Ulu Kelang. 

Ramlee, Zainab, Asiah, Azizah and Kamariah were born from the wedlock with Pak Ngah. Azizah, the fourth child,  passed away some years ago, from cancer. Ramlee and Kamariah are in KL, Asiah in Rawang, and Zainab, now a widow, is in Johor Baru. Her husband died some time back from severe  diebetic complications.

Pak Ngah's marriage to Mak Ngah Ramlah was also his second one. He had a daughter, Zainapsiah, from his first marriage in Senaling, Kuala Pilah. Zainapsiah has also died from  cancer not too long ago. She was a retiree in Bangi.

I first met Aris when Pak Ngah was staying at  the Police barracks at Kampong Attap, Kuala Lumpur, not far from the KL railway station. The first famous badminton hall in KL was at Kampong Attap also. I must have been in primary school then. Aris was older than me. One morning during one of our overnight visits he took me to watch him play football across town, all the way at TPCA stadium near the KL General Hospital.  And he was on a bicycle while I walked !

When I was in Felda, Aris also worked in Felda as a Supervisor in one of the schemes, but later resigned to become a Felda settler at Jengka 23, where he passed away to-day. All the Jengka schemes were given the names of flowers by Raja Alias, but I can't remember what flower Jengka 23 is. This Raja Alias proclivity for "flowering" was carried over into MISC when he was Chairman there, naming all the ships commissioned in his tenure after flowers. I don't remember "Bunga Taik Ayam" though !

A bit later in Felda, when I was running the Transport Corporation, I made Aris the ffb transport supervisor for Jengka, and gave him a small four-wheel-drive Suzuki for his work. The job meant extra income for him. I even instructed  to have his name painted on the door of the Suzuki, as it was done for the others in the other "Wilayahs". The idea was to give a personal feeling for the vehicles given, so they would take care of them like their own.

All the marriages of his daughters were held in Jengka 23, and I think I attended all of them. In fact I also attended his own wedding to Imah in Kelang when he first got married. He had a son, Bob, whom I liked, but tragically he was killed in an accident early in his Felda settler days.

The last time I met Aris was at a wedding reception in KL. I don't think he was sick at that time, but at one of our relatives' wedding reception a couple of years ago I got to know that he was ill, because he didn't attend. I'll forever regret not making a visit once I knew that he was indeed very sick. His brother told me then that he had made a few visits to Jengka 23, that he already had to have assissted breathing 24 hours a day. When he died this afternoon it was at the hospital in Jengka town. 

The step-brothers were never treated less than like real siblings by all the brother and sisters. Mak Ngah Ramlah was also an aunty I felt close to, although Pak Ngah was always less than talkative, though friendly. No matter what time we came for a visit, and they were frequent, at all the places they stayed - the flat before going to Kampong Attap, Kampong Attap and later the Jalan Travers Police Barracks (now demolished), and when Pak Ngah retired, in Datuk Keramat - Mak Ngah Ramlah would quickly cook up something, and her "sambal tumis" was always the "best in the world!" Even when my brother and I were studying at the university, we would often come to the Jalan Travers barracks. The university at Jalan Pantai is a short distance from this location.

Good bye, Aris. I'll miss you. May God have mercy on you.


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Monday, September 19, 2016

A cup of tea.

Monday 19th.September 2016.

My late mother didn't just pour hot water into her tea pot.  She boiled it on the stove. Now my wife does the same thing. You can imagine all the boiled catechins and quercetin just turning the whole mess thick , black and very bitter !

My mother's introduction has meant that tea is my beverage of choice. As luck would have it, health-related  literature now is full of praise for this potion. 

It's claimed that after water, tea is the most consumed liquid in the world. And there isn't just one taste. Tea can be, like my mum's, bitter, or suggests notes of sweet, nutty, floral, or grassy flavours, or as someone said somewhere, "astringent."

Studies indicate that the likely single place of origin for this shrub is the northern part of Myanmar bordering the Sichuan and Yunnan provinces of China. Tea drinking started as a medicine. In many places in China it was called "cha". In fact in Malaysia the Chinese still use this word. The Japanese call it "ocha". The Hokkien of the south coast of China called it "teh" and the Europeans adopted the various versions of the word "tea" to this day. In England to have tea has sometimes been simplified to having "a cuppa."

Carper gives a chapter in one of her books  the title "The Ancient Longevity Drink." It's tea.  She says this extraordinary drink, made from the leaves of Camellia sinesis, is blessed with antioxidants, and is from the fountain of youth, if ever there is one. She refers to studies, and quotes comments praising the goodness of tea and its various medicinal attributes. In another book Carper says an International Scientific Conference in New York in 1991 said tea protects arteries by influencing blood-clotting factors. There are several other references of the benefits of tea-drinking in the same book, enough to support the proposition that tea-drinking is good for everybody.

Portugese priests and traders were the earliest recorded to have shipped  tea from Macao to Java in 1607. The Dutch East India Company was the first to ship tea from Hirado, Japan, to Europe. Tea drinking, expensive and upper-class, became fashionable in the Hague, and the Dutch later introduced it to the Germans, the French and shipped it to New Amsterdam, New York. Tea was sold, in of all places, coffee houses in London in 1657. By the 19th. century, tea became an everyday beverage for all levels of society of Europe. 

The British introduced tea planting to India to break the Chinese monopoly. The first production was in Darjeeling in 1856, from plants brought from China. An endemic variety was found in Assam, which completely replaced the Chinese variety.

As a side note, tea has also played politics. In fact the very beginning of the creation of the great United States of America was celebrated with a tea party, the" Boston" one ! But that needs a different story.

We, in Malaysia, talk of our own popular  "teh tarik" (pulled tea). I found out that Malaysia is not the inventor. Apparently, in North Africa, such as in Algeria and Morocco, long ago they had learned to pour hot tea from height. It was to create different flavours, pouring from different heights, ostensibly because of the aeration effect. But really, as in this country, it's probably to allow for quick consumption of the drink, because  warm climate doesn't allow for quick cooling. I remember in Mecca, I had to wait forever for my glass of "susu" (the Arabs selling tea around the Holy Mosque use this word for tea with milk), the temperature being maybe around 35 degrees celcius. 

Drink tea by all means , but "teh" (tea in Malay) must be used carefully in this country. Very different connotations are carried when uttered with different intonations, and in different situations. "Minum teh" (drink tea) means taking a break, or sitting down for chit-chat. But "duit teh" (tea money) is a bribe you give a government official for favours ! It's not my cup of tea, but I saw an inscription on Raja Alias' office door years ago that said " Life is like tea, it depends on how you make it."

I make mine with milk and no sugar.



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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Keeping well.

Sunday 18th. September, 2016.

At our age, our priority should be keeping ourselves well. Without realizing it or planning for it,  I've been trying to do it for some time now. There wasn't any reason for it. As far as I can remember I'd always enjoy moderate physical activities right from my school days. I played some games then, and used to run around my kampong before jogging was "fasionable",  the months before I started  university. I even made my own tee shirts at that time, with various logos and wordings, as I said before these became fasionable.  I played tennis when I started working, casually, and only stopped because, quiet late,  I found golf. I'm a golf-addict now and only injury and bad weather stop me.  I'm thankful it keeps me healthy and wise. I haven't seen the "wealthy" part, though, ha ha !

What I want to share with you here is my experience regarding looking after your own health. 

I could say that I'm blessed with an "acceptible" health, notwithstanding a couple of  "scares" scattered through the last fifty-odd years of my life. And except for the bad back I had in the last three months, and of that I'm probably 95% cured, I feel fine.  I eat modestly, and find sleep easy.

On the 7th. of April, 1993 I bought a book called "The Vitamin Book" by Harold M. Silverman, Pharm.D( Bantam Books 1985). On the 14th. of May, 2001 I bought  "Stop Ageing Now" by Jean Carper(Thorsons 1995) . Carper is said to be "a leading authority on health and nutrition and an author of numerous books." A second book by her was bought on 30th. of September 2003 titled "Food, Your Miracle Medicine"(HarperPaperbacks 1998). So it can be said that in bits and pieces I have followed  some of the recommendations that I found in these 3 books, for the last 23 years. Mostly it's the supplements that I now take. I've changed a few, and then put them back in again, and after the visit with Dr. Li Ling  Pharm D. (U.M.) recently, I'm probably  sticking to my list. And this is why.

Experts agree that vitamins and minerals are needed to prevent some deficiencies, including life-threatening diseases. And aging is the large part of the monumental progressive deficiency disease. And a Chinese proverb is claimed to have said "whoever was the father of a disease, an ill diet was the mother." Trust the Chinese on food !

I needed someone real, and an  authority, to assess my conviction on my book-acquired knowledge. Since I'm on some medicinal drugs, I also wanted to know if supplements were compatible. My son helped locate Dr. Li Ling for me. An hour-long session, and a couple of email commentries have given me the confidence in my choice of supplements now. 

If there's a magic potion for youth everyone will want it. Many scientists now view aging not as an inevitable consequence of time, but as a disease itself. A theory was published in a scientific journal in 1993 claiming that " oxidative damage to the cells' genetic DNA accumulates with age and is a major contributor to aging and the degenerative diseases of aging, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, immune-system decline and brain and nervous system dysfunction, such as Parkinson's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, and cerebral vascular changes that we know as senility."

Viewing aging as the ultimate conglomerate disease caused by a lifetime of environmental assaults on cells, leading to a slow degeneration of the body and culminating in multiple breakdowns of bodily functions, it's now believed that the process can be slowed down, or even reversed.

Antidisease and diet-connected research helps the focus on aging's degeneration and discovered that nature's own agents exist in vast supply in food and plants.

The "antioxidant" camp is met by the expected scientific community's wariness, many maintaining that extensive tests are required. But there are others who say that the whole truth will never be revealed. Generations could pass before answers emerge from these trials. Most scientists see no danger in taking supplements, and say it's foolish to wait, when the stakes are so high, while the risk is low.

Consider the case of scurvy in the Middle Ages. Scientists in that period  suspected for 200 years that fruits rich in vitamin C prevented the disease. By mid 1700 this was proven. Yet it took the British government another 50 years before mandating that sailors at sea be given limes or lemons. By then 200,000 British sailors had died of scurvy.

It's estimated that by age fifty, about 30% of our cellular protein has been turned to rusty junk by free radical attacks.

I'm inviting you to share my experience and  consider taking the following supplements:

Vitamin E.
Fights clogging of arteries. Improves immunity functions.
Vitamin C.
Anti-cancerous. Raises good HDL. Reduces bad LDL. Cuts lung problems.
Beta Carotene.
Cuts stroke risk. Improves immunity.
Chromium.
Prevents insulin imbalance.
Calcium.
Prevents bone loss. Fights high blood pressure.
Magnesium.
Protects the heart by preventing spasms and abnormal rhythms. Deters blood clot formation. Works with calcium for bone protection and blood-clotting prevention.
Selenium. 
Blocks cancer. Reduces heart disease. Improves immunity.
Coenzyme Q-10.
Corrects deficiencies to your heart, brain, and general resistance to diseases.Sparks the cells to function.
Ginkgo. 
Improves blood circulation.
Garlic oil.
Acts as an anti-stress and producer of good mood.
Fish oil.
Anti-clogging of arteries. Raising good HDL. Improves heart function.
Spirulina.
A natural algae source of protein that detoxes arsenic, eliminates intestinal irritation, lowers BP, reduces cholesterol, fights strokes, and boosts energy (with such claims I take the full  dose of 2 tablets, thrice a day with meals)

Here's to our good health. Keep well.


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Friday, September 16, 2016

"Let them eat cakes !"

17 th. September 2016.

The great French Revolution was about to happen, and this was what the last French Queen was supposed to have said when told that the people had no bread to eat - "let them eat cakes!"

In spite of many researched  write-ups about the current state of the Malaysian economy, yesterday a supposed-PhD holder on the top echelon of UMNO said the economy to-day is better than during Mahathir's time ! I don't know what subject his PhD was, or if it's genuine at all, but obviously he's been reading the wrong report. The cleverness of this guy's comments of late is something to behold. He was also the one who said Dollah was the best PM in Malaysia, ever. And UMNO sacked the poor bugger 6 months into his second term!  

Getting back to what I want to say to-day, clearly the ruling UMNO Masterclass lives a far different lifestyle from the common people below. The people are complaining about the rising costs of even the most basic food items like vegetables and chicken. Some imported stuff like infants formula are so expensive that the shopkeepers put them under lock and key ! And yesterday I read a WSJ report on how, on her husband's salary as PM (she's unemployed and ostensibly has zero income) she had managed to rack up  USD 6 million in credit card charges in designer stores world wide! Wow, a real-life 6-million-dollar person ! (That's RM 24,863,700). The Malaysian government pays its PM less than most Executive Directors of the Malaysian companies on its stock exchange. In fact Singapore pays her ordinary Ministers more ! In short Najib is no Bill Gates.

The piece listed, with photograhs, several purchases she's supposed to have made, along with the incredible prices. I choose a few here, limiting myself to some handbags, watches and a bangle. 

WSJ  says she has at least 12 Hermes Birkin handbags. These cost between USD 12,000 and USD 223,000.

She wears several watches, as the photographs show. The Hublot Big Bang Black Magic watch is listed at RM 79,200. The Franck Muller Master Square Lady is listed slightly more at RM 153,500. The real "Bang" here is the Richard Mille Lady Diamond Cruncher watch carrying the price tag of RM 656,300!

The one bangle I pick from the report is the Jacob & Co Zebra Safari bangle costing a cool RM 1.65 million!

One adjective that comes to mind immediately is "obscene". But I think it does not even do justice here. I mean, even in these inflationary times, I can buy a bungalow with that bangle she's wearing on her plump wrist !

Where is reality, and where do you draw the line on fantasy ?

The proverbial "behind every man, is a woman" is truly being stretched here ! Whatever fate awaits the poor husband, this particular wife can take well-deserved pride in the role she has played in his larger-than-life public performance.

As an afterthought, I add here the sad passing of PAS strongman, Dr. Harun Din, day before yesterday, in California, from long-suffered heart problems. I'm being  mean here, but can't resist the spin. The family said that the late ulama' willed that he be interred in the US. In death he appears to have avoided the contamination of the 1MDB money, in that Najib & co had made preparations to bring the body home.


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Thursday, September 15, 2016

The 101-day break, and a ball in the tree.

This morning, Thursday 15th September, 2016, I ended my forced 101-day break from golf. I stopped on 6/6/2016 and to-day is 15/9/2016. Calculate.

The two nine-hole rounds I had with Tok Molod last week don't count because we were just hitting the ball around as a kind of feeler practice round before a proper full game. This morning was a full 18-hole competitive round with 9 by 9  betting, partnership, and "doubling up" the second nine. I ended up playing alone against the other two in the second nine, and won one ball. It was "game over" at the 17th. hole, but my opponents asked to buy 2 balls, and they won that last hole because Tok Molod birdied that par 5.

On stroke-play I played nett 74, 2-over par. Not bad considering the extended forced break because of the pain in my right back. It's practically gone now, except if I walk too far. On the buggy to-day I felt no pain, and also took three-quarter swings throughout. Maybe I should do this all the time now. It was the short game that got me, but in golf this department is usually the first thing to go, and the last to come back when this sort of break happens.

I always enjoy playing with Tok Sleman. There was no Tok Zahar to-day ( he had to attend the Dewan Keadilan: the Undang Johol case is still not fully settled, apparently. There is this "Patah tumbuh, hilang berganti" thing being invoked, although in Johol itself everybody has more or less accepted the new Undang). I had got Tok Mail Kamat to replace Tok Zahar on Tuesday, but last night he sms'd me that he can't make it. I didn't hear the sms, and only saw it this morning. At 7 a.m. I called Mazlan, but he was in KL. While waiting for Tok Sleman and Tok Molod at the club, I called Jane, and she came, but had to leave after 9 holes because of her mahjong appointment. She could have finished our game, but surprisingly to-day there was a good crowd playing, and the flight ahead of ours took forever to play. We had to wait on every hole!

At Tok Zahar's house a few weeks ago I admitted to Tok Fadil in front of Tok Sleman when the subject of golf came up, that Tok Sleman's drive is better than mine. To-day this was the case. Except at holes no. 3, no. 4, no.12 and no. 18.

Holes 4,12 and 18 are in front of water. Tok Sleman managed to get wet in all three. That's not uncommon. No. 3 was special to-day. His drive hooked to the left and ended up in a Temensu tree, about waist high, and I duly recorded it and sent it to Tok Zahar. I naturally made Tok Sleman take a 2-club length drop (I re-dropped the ball because he just placed it) and he duly recorded a nice round "10" for the hole. I said I'll write to the club and ask them to print new score-cards with wider columns, so that double-digit scores can be entered !

That was a good outing, like our regular foursome before the fasting month. Now that Tok Sleman has gone back to work at the AG's Chambers, he can only play on public holidays. To-day he said he "ponteng". And he took his staff car to the club. I said the car is only for work !


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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Talking politics, again.

Bok had arranged for this morning's "discussion". He reminded me on his sms; I don't usually forget these things. In fact I asked   Maulud and Yunus to join in. Maulud came, but Yunus was already in KP. Masyun came at the agreed time, and Bok was last to come, but on time as well.

I had printed the electoral returns of GE 13 and gave Masyun and Bok a copy each. When I came home I found out an error on PRS(Sarawak) Parliamentary return - it should read 59,540 votes for 6 seats, instead of 74,959 votes. I'll tell them the next time I see or call them.

There are several points that were touched on that can elaborated here, but for now I'd just talk about the votes that Bersatu can reach out to.

The Election Commission reported that 11,257,147 votes were cast on the 5th. of May, 2013 General Elections, the 13th held since Independence. This was 84.84% of the total registered voters of 13,268,002, which is exceptionally high for a political election anywhere in the so-called free world.

What is interesting is that the Commission says that 17,883,697 out of the total population of 29,628,392 are eligible to register as voters. Which means there are another 4,615,695 persons who are unregistered as of this 2013 report. This is significant if you look at the votes that the no.1 party, UMNO, got - 3,252,484. It's almost 42% bigger ! This is the number one area Bersatu should tap into.

Independent candidates obtained 86,935 votes. or 0.8 % of the total cast.This is a useful amount of support to be attracted, and should merit careful scrutiny.

Small parties like STAR(Sabah) with 45,386 votes,BERJASA with 31,835 (in Parliament Seremban it obtained more than 8,000 votes with hardly any campaigning), SWP(Sarawak) with 15,630 votes, and SAPP(Sabah) with 10,099 votes should at least be sought out to get their supporters' votes. Their total is 102,950 or almost 10% of the total votes.

Next Bersatu should look at each state, both the Parliamentary  and the State seats.

Perlis seems pretty solid for UMNO, but the earlier Bersatu road show there received  a good response. It has 100% of the Parliamentry seats, and 80% of the State seats.

Kedah is a good target because the BN just managed to wrest it back from PAS the last time around. UMNO seems stronger at Parliamentry level, with almost 67%, but it only won 52% of the State seats.

The UMNO's 3 Parliamentry and 10 State seats in Pulau Pinang should be worth fighting for, seeing as how DAP is very strong here.

Perak has been a weak UMNO hold. Bersatu should put a strong front here, especially where Zahid and Nazri stand. Their not-so-clever bombast in recent weeks should inspire proBersatu people to do that extra bit and put salt in UMNO's possible wounds. The former 2nd Finance Minister could be roped in with proper handling. Perak has less than 42% of the Parliamentry seats, and slightly more than 50% of the State seats. Remember the Istana political drama with the late Sultan ?

Selangor is of course UMNO's grave yard. It has only 4 out of the 22 Parliamentry seats, and 12 of the 56 State seats. Taking out more from it's meagre hold seems like stealing from a child.  But then again, you might as well put it out of its misery.

Wilayah Persekutuan's 3 areas of  KL, Putrajaya and Labuan have been nightmarish for UMNO. Luckily for them they retained Putrajaya, the seat of the government, so to speak. Out of 13, UMNO hangs on to only 4. Putrajaya and KL look good for the taking next time around.

I remember NS not so long ago having 0 opposition. Now 3 out of the 8 Parliamentry seats and 15 out of the 36 State seats are not in UMNO's hands. In 4 State seats UMNO's majority in the last GE was less than 200, the lowest being 86 in Ampangan, where I live. Don't forget Parliament Jempol with its many Felda schemes where the long-serving ex MB and the incumbent Chairman of Felda faced Aishah, the singer and novice PAS candidate who hails from the area. I remember the ex MB making fun of Aishah by referring to one of her songs when campaigning for the Wanita UMNO candidate for Sikamat. UMNO lost Sikamat , and Jempol nearly did,too. Aishah the novice got 48% of the votes !

Melaka has only 50% Parliamentry UMNO seats, and a slightly better 60% State seats. The last Chief Minister lost at Parliament last time, and the present one can lose wherever he stands next if he continues talking like a schoolboy instead of an engineer.

Nobody could forsee what happened in Johore, a former "Blue State". This is where UMNO was born 6 decades ago, and the grandson of its founder is still trying very hard to help his first cousin, the PM, go through the current mess. He shouldn't refer to his late grandfather too much. The late old man and his late son, the 3rd. PM, both died outside UMNO. As the Minister of Defence, he should do something about the rumblings in the ranks of Armed Forces. The noise from the army pensioners is also getting louder. Johore UMNO has less than 58% of the Parliamentry seats and 57% of the State seats, a far, far cry from its position as the BN stronghold in the recent past.

Pahang is Najib-land. UMNO has 50% of the Parliamentry seats, and almost 67% of the State seats. But remember, Najib won Pekan by less than 300 votes in one of the last GE's. And the mishandling of Felda by the current Chairman has neither the love of ex Felda staff, nor the support of large sections of the settlers who are suffering the loss of income because of tumbling commodity prices.

Terengganu has been in the news recently, for the wrong reasons. Of course there's the exMB loudmouthing about 1MDB and jumping the UMNO ship. Then the Sultan stripped the current MB of all his honourary titles, but Najib managed to stop the Sultan from asking for the sack. Then there was the little storm about the Terengganu-born bronze-medal Olympian who took a swipe at the MB about not even responding to his written request for assistance in his chosen sport. Terengganu was under PAS for sometime, and the State government is held by UMNO with the grand majority of 2 seats. If the ex MB and 2 friends abondon ship, UMNO's government would go kaput.

PAS-held Kelantan doesn't appear to be about to lose its master in the forseeable future. Anwar Musa and his talk of UMNO recapturing Selangor should redirect his bragging toward his home state and see what he can or cannot do there. It's highly probable that he cannot.

Sabah and Sarawak are now the "security deposit" for Najib and UMNO. Sarawak may be a safer bet. But there's no UMNO there, so Najib better maintain his close link with the newly installed Strong Man of Sarawak. Sabah is an unknown. After Shafie Afdal, with frequent party changers in Sabah over the years right from USNO days, anything can happen. Sabah provides the only non-Muslim UMNO members. Zahid and Hishamuddin used to refer to Shafie as the Lanun. They may regret that now.

I'm talking about numbers here. Whoever gets them, wins. 
Politics isn't that simple, of course. But it's the numbers that will count, literally. 


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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.

After exactly one month from submission, on the 9th. of September, 2016, BERSATU was officially approved by ROS, with a couple of minor conditions that obviously have nothing to do with ROS requirements. One is that "Bersatu" must not be used by the party. The UMNO minister must be worried BERSATU sounds too close to the "Bersatu Bersetia Berkhidmat" slogan of UMNO, and people might get confused, and all to BERSATU's advantage. It seems that this won't deter supporters calling the brand new party BERSATU ! anyway, as the night at Ampangan showed.

Tun Mahathir and the founders of BERSATU have been going peninsula-wide promoting their new organization. Yesterday, Saturday 10th. September, they came to Seremban.  This was the first time the founders put up their official red flags at a gathering. In fact at Ampangan  it was the second time, because they had an earlier gathering at Simpang Pertang and the flags were put up there, too. At Ampangan Muhyiddin said it nearly brought tears to his eyes.

Maulud told me last week about yesterday's event.  I also saw it on the internet, and then Bok sms'd me about it. It was supposed to be at 8.30 pm on the open ground next to the "surau hitam" Ampangan. To avoid possible parking problems, the missus and I left the house after Magrib prayers, and parked the car in a  spot about 20 meters from the venue. By the time we came, vehicles were already arriving and digorging their occupants in front of  the surau hitam. 

We had time, and went to one of the food outlets nearby for our dinner. We would have gone out for dinner, anyway, because the missus didn't cook yesterday, having attended our besan's kenduri at noon in S2. When the Isyak's prayer call came, I joined the surau's congregation.

I had determined to come for two reasons. I wanted to see what sort of crowd BERSATU can pull. I also wanted to see how Muhyiddin and Tun M. perform. I've heard them countless times over the years, but the circumstances have changed dramatically. I know that the Malaysian crowd can be a deceptive one. It draws both supporters and detractors, and  on top we have the "look & see" gawkers. You know, like the traffic that suddenly jam up both sides of the highways because everybody wants to gawk at the accident on one side. Malaysian crowds are also famous for being stingy with their public show of appreciation or otherwise. In both cases, I wasn't disappointed. And I think UMNO officials should take note, and not simply rubbish this new political party. There was a large crowd, and Tun M. and Muhyiddin delivered.

After the Isyak prayers I walked to the missus seated against the shophouse wall, and she was talking to Ainina, the exWanita UMNO from Langkawai who summoned Najib and "Teuku" Nan.
I've already read about her impressive scholastic background. When I asked what she's doing now, she didn't exactly gave a clear answer, except to say that she's been black-listed from all teaching jobs in the local universities. I wished her luck, and identified myself as an UMNO member !

I estimated the crowd at no less than 1,000. Maulud says more, because there were people on the side of the road, and cars were double-parked  right down to the DIY shop about 100 meters away.  For a non-government event and a brand new entity, this is impressive showing. And it was loud, and there was easy banter between speakers and audience. The good p.a. system helped.

We're talking about veteran politicians and experienced speakers in both Muhyiddin and Tun M. But I've seen their public speaking  wax and wain. Not this time, though. The subjects of mention were anticipated and already well-known and much talked-about. There were as usual no notes. Not like American politicians, with their notes and tele-prompters, and their well documented practice sessions and professional mc's. I don't easily fall under Malaysian speakers' spell.  I don't impress easy.  Tun M. sometimes mumble through inaudibly, and unsmiling Muhyiddin usually lacks dramatics, unlike Najib. But last night I give both 9 out of 10 !

Three earlier speakers did their part at working up the crowd, especially Ainina. Sanusi's son did ok, as also that Cikgu whose name evades me. Their speeches were sufficiently short but bolstered with revealing  personal anectdotes connected to the main theme of UMNO being lost under Najib. When Tun and Muhyiddin finally arrived, and Negaraku was played and sung heartily by everyone present, the mood was set. We were ready to hear what these two had to say.

Muhyiddin spoke first. Other than the brief must-have Quranic recitation (and Muhyiddin, a product of Johore religious classes, impressed with an uncommon verse) and a mercifully short salutation to the audience (these things can go forever in this country, believe me !) he went straight to point. A personal conversation between Najib  about 1MDB and the 2.6 billion "Arab" donation and Najib's negative response can only happen with these two.  Cost-of-living, sliding exchange rates,the DoJ civil action preceeding a criminal one on 1MDB in the US, and the sacking of Mukhriz after putting him up in GE 13 in the bid to beat PAS in Kedah were pertinent material strongly supported with direct personal knowledge that now the Ampang audience could hear live. There was the distinct mark of authenticity all over the story-telling. There were even a few shared laughters, not common with the Muhyiddin that I know of. You work the crowd, but you don't go overboard, I say.

Mahathir was quintessential. 

Cynicism often just ooze in the old man's speeches. Last night there was not too much of it, except when referring to the current Attorney-General and saying he studied law but only knows how to say "no case"! It was the soft-spoken, simply-worded descriptions of how to measure and imagine how much RM 2.6 billion is (2,600 lorry-loads, he said); how he was an UMNO member from 1946 and when Tunku sacked him in 1970, it never crossed his mind then about leaving the party; how people saw him when 1MDB was exposed and asked that he did something; about the talks he had with Najib following that, and Najib said "cash is king" and didn't do anything different; about how Malaysians were proud to be identified as such when abroad, but not now; about all the negative spin the Malaysia main media and tv give to the critics of Najib. Now he said he's no longer interested in asking Najib to go, he wants the whole "dedak-eating" gang and the entire  BN group to be defeated at the next GE. If it takes place, he added.

It's the simple language giving perspective to an unimagineable financial mess Malaysia may never fully recover from that gave the Ampang  audience a clearer  picture of this Najib-created  catasrophe. This should not be about winning a debate, as some quarters have suggested. This is about laying down the facts and figures so that there is no mistaking about what is wrong, what was done wrong, who are the wrong-doers, and what is the solution.

"Shop" was closed at half-past eleven. But the real national crisis is far from closed. My fear is that the old Malay saying would apply: "win, and you are charcoal, lose, and you are ashes" ! BERSATU may very well beat BN in GE14, but nobody gets out of the big hole dug !

I took 2 copies of the application forms to become a BERSATU member, but couldn't hand in my form because I need to attach a photocopy of my I.C. 



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Friday, September 9, 2016

Repose.


Repose.

One is too old to mind, it shouldn't matter
For if it matters, one shouldn't mind
For the long years carry too many memories
And varied, tortous implications
And Time is absolute, there's no turning around
As one plods on, or watch helplessly Time passing by.

Has it been ten weeks ?
Is there a better measure of  the decades that are now gone?
Certainly no historic event has been created
And the whole world hasn't taken note
Of the touching of hearts that the protagonists hold in esteem
Of what there once was, and what might have been
Ten weeks haven't broken new grounds
Fifty years leave their indelible mark on one's mind's spool


One burst out in joy
The moment, glorious, the magical past was rekindled
One didn't question "why this, why now ?"
But simply opened the palms in supplication 
For the lovely images all this brought out
Perhaps this was redemption
For unrequited love, or puppy love, or just infatuation
But one embraced the nostalgia
Of happier times, now seemingly receding from reach.

What went wrong?, one beseech
It can be only a word here and another there
Or wrongly tapping the wrong button at the wrong time
It seems technology has been both boon and bane
It really falls down to mere impression of embrace or disgrace
While the truth is miles away.

The years that have gone by
Haven't been empty, regardless
The second and third generations have come
Bringing joy and love to family and friends
So one's little secret rendezvous
Doesn't exist in emptiness
But sits quietly in between real hectic life around
And
A missed call happens all the time
Disgruntled, the real reason offered
Seemed unpalatable
But the flippant dismissal and monosyllabic response
Can hurt, too
Which wouldn't be the case
If the relationship is trivial, unimportant
When words like "dump"
Regurgitate a foul taste
Of unwantedness, or unwanting.

One is perplexed
But one has to be of the real world
Of missed meanings, and missing messages
One can only hold on to the cherished memory
Content that good intentions should survive the test of time
The friendship remains, genuine
Valued forever
And  one accepts
That this is His Design, and one should find peace
In repose.



Seremban
10.9.2016


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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Dr. Li Ling.

Ashraf, my no. 2 son, had arranged for this appointment for several weeks. It was only to-day that I was finally able to make it. It's about reviewing my medication, by the university's pharmacist, some kind of service for the staff members and their parents - an excellent idea.

I had expected a middle-aged male  medical practitioner. I didn't look at Ashraf's email beforehand. Dr. Liling is an unassuming pleasant young lady, completely without  airs about her, simply attired and plain-spoken, belying her scholastic credential. When she asked what I did before retirement I couldn't say more than "ah, just an administrator".

After the hour-long session she insisted that she'd walk me back to my son's place, where I started that morning. She was hinting lunch, but I quickly said I'd like to get back to my son because he was taking me to Kelana Jaya. We shook hands, and she reminded me to get back to her for further medical advice. Right there she also said we're alumni  because she'd mentioned that she got her degree at the U.M. and then her PhD there, and I said I was there,too, but graduated  before she was born !

This was the first time that I've actually entered  Taylor's University campus, in Subang Jaya. University of Malaya has probably 1,000  acres of land, and you need motor transport to go from one end to the other. I remember in the 60's the most outlandish man's attire was probably the chequered bermuda shorts and the girls in tight stretch pants. Taylor's is built more upward and tight because there isn't much land area. The total 3,000 students at U.M. in 1965 were dispersed over the sprawling campus. The 12,000 students at Taylor's seemed packed into all the rooms available, and in the ultra modern shops they have, with the branded food outlets and convenience stores and a few major banks. To think that everyone had to eat at the one and only Union House canteen and not a single bank in campus when I was at U.M. ! And the dress code at Taylor's ? What code? I saw some co-eds with low-cut blouses flapping over high-cut shorts. And a third of the students are foreigners, both the blonde-blue-eyed European version and the dark, brooding Middle Eastern variety.

Then you should see the cars, moving slowly through the winding campus roads, or parked everywhere else. The expensive sports cars (we're talking about Ferarris, Porches and Datsun 240GTI's here) belong to the students who stay at the 3,000-a-month flat nearby, my son explained. The other ordinary cars belong to the lecturers, he added.

We had to rush to Kelana Jaya for my missed appointment last week. It started to rain, so we had to put on our rain gear. We were riding on my motor cycle now hijacked by my son. We made it to the place, the one I couldn't find last week, but the guy didn't come today.  I called, and he said he had to go somewhere, and so he'll try to fit me in next week.

Ashraf dropped me at the Kelana Jaya LRT. Next week I'll come to this station and take a taxi to the place. I asked my son to say "thank you" to Dr. Li Ling. I think I'll email her tonight.


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Thursday, September 1, 2016

A.K.Bear, Kamariah and ending a 91-day forced golf break.

59 years of Merdeka and I was reflecting on it, and then I bumped into A.K.Bear and Kamariah Sabeh outside the Uda Mall, Ampangan ( more popularly known as Giant Ampangan because of the chief tenant ) in  not so convivial circumstances. It's been 56 and 51 years since I've known  of them, respectively. Incredible numbers, these.

It was Thursday noon, September the 1st. 2016, and I was waiting for Maulud to go to KL for "jalan-jalan". That morning I'd broken my 91-day forced break from golf and played 9 holes with Maulud, using a buggy. I dared not force the issue because I wasn't sure I should even try to play again. My small-of-the-back hurt hasn't completely disappeared after all the medications and x-ray and accupuncture and physiotherapy.  But I can walk without discomfort, and I haven't touched the clubs for three months. And Maulud, my old adversary, called at 6.45 am. I had to take the buggy, though, and couldn't help demanding the usual wager. "Loser pays for roti canai at KRS!" KRS is our regular watering hole in Ampangan, because Umi works there, but that is a different story. I lost the bet because Maulud birdied the 9th. hole, a par-3 and our last for the day. Considering the lay-off, I didn't play terrible. It was a score of 46, at handicap 14 a  3-over.  I even birdied the par 4 fourth hole  with a chip-in ! But that last-hole birdie beat me.

My wife drove me to the Uda Mall to wait for Maulud. I was walking up to the ATM's when lo!, there was A.K.Bear, both hands full of groceries, going back to his car. He asked if Hank had invited me for the class reunion and I said no and cursed him because he has my number and we're in contact. Anyway, it seemed just a moment and Bear walked away, and the next moment  I turned the same way, and around the corner of the Mall I saw a small crowd around Bear who was on the ground on his back between his car and the curb, and his groceries all over the pavement. I rushed and with other helping hands pulled Bear on to a sitting position, everyone sounding concerned, and poor Bear with beads of sweat streaming down his forehead. Just then Kamariah Sabeh appeared out of nowhere, trying to be helpful. We recognized each other - it's been many, many long years since we last met, although she stays nearby - and I promptly asked her to fetch a glass of warm water for Bear. Water seems to work in such a situation. I gave Kamariah a schoolmasterly tone, but she obeyed and quickly came back with a mug of warm water from the restaurant from across the road. She said I should drive Bear back, but he declined and said he'll just rest a bit, and after he'd calm down, I held up traffic in that busy side road, and guided Bear out of his parking spot. I told him to go for a medical check up immediately, but saw him cross the traffic lights straight up instead of turning right to Gedung Lalang where his house is, and then I guessed he must be going to BSN there, because I met him years ago at that same bank and he said he gets his pension from BSN.

Meanwhile Kamariah drove off with her windows down and shouted "no commission ah !"

Just now I told her, in front of the resting Bear, I remember going to her house in Terusan with Fadzil, and she was in the "sawah" behind the house. We were in the university then. Mischievously I asked her if she was really divorced from Basirudin, whom I know, but she said no, but Basiruddin is divorced from his second wife! "Fadzil got married again isn't it ?" she countered. They were classmates. With Najirah.  I say this because out of the blue she said "Najirah lost her husband", but I didn't respond to it.

This is a lot of trivia, but surprise remains that decades of now non-contact friendship came face-to-face in a narrow side road under a health-scare situation, and so much in the past wanted to blurt out and the circumstances just seemed both hilarious and scary and impossible at the same time.

Aah ! We should live a day at a time, and be thankful that family and friends make each day enjoyable. For me, meeting old friends are always happy moments. Throw in a bit of golf, and I couldn't be happier.


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