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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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.


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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.


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