Friday, June 29, 2007


a. 'Kem Sintok' took root in 1992 within the jungle fringing the campus of Universiti Utara Malaysia in Sintok Changlun Kedah. In 1993 it saw the first group of students participating in a Summer Camp program. Djasriza, the sister ( third from right front row ) participated.

b. At 4 yrs old Abu Bakar Sidqi (ABS) enjoyed the spartan atmosphere of the camp when he went visiting the sister.

c. ABS in a school co-curricular uniform.


d. A program keenly looked forward to by many school leavers. ABS in the PLKN uniform with Mama. It was a happy return to the camp site. I guess.


When you reach eighteen, many things seemed to happen. I remember many decades ago right after completing the School Certificate Examination ( that would be the SPM now) how we groped for information and attempted to appear at whatever interviews available either to continue our education to a higher level or to earn some money meaning of course to secure a position in the public service. The public sector was a closed door. We knew almost nothing about it.

I was fortunate to have records of happenings during those earlier years since I was a camera buff and the old photos continue to remind me of circumstances or nostalgia. Now that our son has come to that point in time, I have pointed to him the value of keeping records and memoirs. I guess our youth are fortunate that almost everyone of them have something of value which they hug along all the time. I mean of course the inevitable hand phones. They are doubly awarded if they possess cameras too. The portable phone also takes photos. So do not confine to conversation or SMS only. Use it. Keeping the record is of course another adventure or assignment. It is worthwhile believe me.

Less Abu ( 'Burn' another familiar nickname friends called him) forget this transition period I am recording the story as I see it. He has of course his own version.

Our son Abu Bakar Sidqi participated as a member of PLKN (National Service Training Program) at KEM SINTOK Universiti Utara Malaysia Kedah from 1 January to 11 March 2007, launching the new year with a dramatic start.

Having completed his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination in November 2006 and touching the threshold of his 18th birthday he becomes eligible for the National Service program that had begun in 2004. Like most youth we believed he was happy to receive the call-up letter and made preparation without qualms.

PLKN being an acronym for "Program Latihan Khidmat Negara" began its Group 1 Series 4/2007 session on the first day of the New Year 2007 at the campus of a university in Kedah. The army type training camp grew out of an earlier camp site started in 1992 by the late Tan Sri Othman Yeop the Vice Chancellor of the university who envisaged a campsite in the forested part of the university campus which would bring youth closer to the environment while absorbing related programs organised towards leadership and survival knowledge. That it became a full training centre under the PLKN network is an honor to his memory. That I had a hand at its earlier development remained a sentimental thought. The first program organized at the campsite already known as "Kem Sintok" saw our daughter as participant. It had no advanced training program as PLKN did. The participants at the original course found the campsite experience exciting and challenging. It was a comeback to Abu Bakar when he entered KEM SINTOK under PLKN. He was there fifteen years ago.
Collecting Centre

It was a memorable day indeed for the trainees and their parents not only at this camp but all over the country. Their New Year break was interrupted by having to send their sons and daughters to the various stations where buses would collect the trainees for journeys to the allocated camps. It meant an early wake up call for those distance from the collecting centres. Still it was taken with good strides. Parents or guardians were happy to see their children embarked on a challenging program good for character building and socialization. The cool morning atmosphere invigorated the sensation while the happy friendly jostling of trainees in their casual attires added to the happy mood. But as the morning temperature raised so too the atmosphere. While the registration of one thousand plus trainees for the various camps in Kedah, Perlis and Penang at the open courtyard near Stadium Darul Aman Alor Star called for better arrangement and planning, the worst was to come. Scheduled to depart promptly at 9.00 am to campsites at Kuala Nerang, Sik etc the trainees waited for their transportation which never came at the arranged time. In their excitement many of the trainees would have missed their breakfast believing that they would be at their campsites early. By half past ten there was a rush to visit whatever stalls opened at the stadium . Not much was available as it was a public holiday. Much so it was an irony that while the trainees faced the circumstances, their families at home were enjoying the delights and merriment's of Aidil Adha celebration which was in its second day only. It was hard to understand why the program had to begin on New Year a public holiday all over the world. Maybe it was a question of 'yours is to obey and not to ask why'.

The next day newspaper splashes told the story. Transportation arrangement had failed not only at Stadium Darul Aman in Alor Star but at other centres in the country too. In Kelantan trainees had to return home until arrangement could be made the following day. It was obvious there were dissatisfied and angry faces in the PLKN headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. It was not a cliche. Neither was it a minor matter. For most parents and the public it was certainly not a good start for the 2007 PLKN activities and neither was it a right step for a new year


Medical Check Up and M 16 Practice

However the activities at the centre later proceeded satisfactorily. We received good reviews of the organization and activities at the camp. We saw too that the participants interacted well with one another irrespective of sex or race. That there was a case of a trainee falling ill and died at another camp in the country during the current session, it became necessary that all participants for future programs should undergo medical check up. Trainees found excitement visiting the shooting range and had their hands on the M 16 rifles. They had an introductory to survival training should they got lost in the jungle. I believed the trainees acquired camaraderie, confidence and national integration during their stay at the camp. We based our marks on what we saw and surely when Abu Bakar Sidqi came home a more confident person, it must have been a right mix. The allowance given to the trainees must be a start to future earnings. They should realize that it comes with hard work and commitment.

Time Marches On

No respite for a rest. That was what awaited him as he was rushed to Taylor University College at Subang to register as a student for a diploma program which had started a week earlier. We weighed the choice of a UPU registration or a private sector direct entry. Thus the decision and at the time of writing he has completed his first semester. Abu has meantime acquired a provisional driving licence. He has successfully completed a driving course program and passed the relevant tests.

He may remember too that his 18th birthday also offers him to open his own account at the bank. Otherwise to our surprise we found obstacles for a youngster to manage money at the bank on his own since he would need a guarantor and impinge by other rules and regulation.

He must realize the best has been given to him and opportunities are at his disposal to grasp with full vigor and accomplishment. His earlier education, training, guidance and perceptions plus stings at Outward Bound School, PLKN , school prefect ship board and not to mention family internship should be strength and grips for future success. As parents we wish and pray for the best. He has a future ahead. Good Luck and May Allah Bless...

Remember we have a life and a story to tell.

Welcome to Taylor University College for your professional program

With daddy at the Camp Site 2007

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Naturally the countryside around our home town and locality would attract us to notice its development and uniqueness. During visits we would stop to take photos at whatever strikes us. Looking back they afford interesting vistas while enriching our perceptions of what color, beauty, tradition and tranquility can give us. We would like to share that with you appreciating that change may occur at any time. Tomorrow it may not be there anymore. If not caught on film, it is lost forever. We may never appreciate what has actually existed.There is no comparison to be made. That will be a tragedy isn't? So let's go on a short journey appreciating what enfolds.

Scene 1.0 This is an 'Angsana' (rain tree) ten yards from the gate into our house at Titi Gajah. With its huge foliage and yellow flowering blooms it gives a majestic view come April each year. We are grateful to past planners who had the wisdom to line the street with these trees. Many have fallen, victims of age. Yet the twenty odd numbers that have resisted the test of time continue to give shade and beauty as they have done for the last seventy years or more. Drive out of the city to the new airport at Alor Star you will see these sentinels by the side of the road stretched fortunately along a three kilometre route.

Scene 2.0 It is springtime in the city as the golden showers carpeted the streets. They fell on car roofs, buildings and people who walked underneath the trees. Other trees too flower at the same time and the riots of colors surely make the city a place to be visited at this time of the year. If only the present planners realize its potentials. Springtime here would be as attractive as in Kyoto.

Scene 2.1 A scene to tempt our perception of nature's beauty yet questioning our malady at destruction of the environment and pollution. This flowering tree was seen at Gurun Rest Area along the North-South Highway.

Scene 3.0 Now What's this? No doubt it's a man and his pet: a monkey. We see coconuts around too. The male 'beruk' a pedigree type has just plucked ripe coconuts from trees at the back of the house. It is a trained pet accomplished at plucking coconuts at the command of its owner. As a reward for its service, it got fresh coconut juice from Pak Din. It gulped with relish the coconut juice being thirsty and tired after the climb and what more with constant instructions by Pak Din. I was surprised that within a short time it was able to bring down more than eighty coconuts. Make no mistake only the ripe ones were plucked too. It would have taken an ordinary coconut climber a longer time and at a great risk to his life. Pak Din charged according to the number of trees climbed at the rate of five coconuts per tree.

Scene 4.0 Step out of the patio, and onto the grass patch. This scene I see every morning. It is wondrous to walk on the grass with the overnight dew wetting your feet. In May the fruit trees start to flower and later bare fruits . The 'rambutan' and mango trees in the compound also attract birds and squirrels that come to share the bounty. It has taken several years to have a scenario like this right at our door step. No need to go around searching for a resort ambiance. We have created it and now our duty is to preserve its tranquility.

Scene 5.0 Recycling this time comes full circle. My grand daughter Laila found the bright red and blue dress too captivating to take her eyes off it. My wife had earlier picked up the dress long worn by our daughter almost twenty plus years ago from a locker and lo and behold it adjusted perfectly on the young lady's body. All are happy. She got a new dress ( bought at Marks and Spencer Scotland 1984 ). Who would know that its ages old? Both grand-mother and daughter realised the benefits of keeping items and not to discard indiscriminately once they outgrow their usage. Grand dad recorded the situation live. Is it a surprise therefore to see the 'Bundles' getting customers into their outlets?

Friday, June 15, 2007


Versi Bahasa Malaysia

Semangat Gotong Royong; Kaum Ibu di Rumah

Pada masa-masa tertentu adalah wajar kita bersyukur diatas kebahagian dan kenikmatan yang diberi dan ditempuhi. Jesteru itu kita menjemput jiran dan rakan ke rumah serta mengadakan khenduri arwah sambil merapatkan hubungan silaturahim.

Majlis seperti ini memeriahkan sausana kampong dan merapatkan hubungan kekeluargaan. Lebih lagi ia membolehkan kaum wanita khususnya bermesra sambil menyediakan masakan dalam semangat gotong royong. Di rumah kami kenduri sering diadakan sama ada kecil atau besar ia tetap meriah. Ketika inilah sanak saudara dan jiran tetangga akan berkumpul, meraikan acara, bertukar cerita dan berkongsi rasa.

Kebiasaanya apabila kenduri yang diadakan di masak sendiri oleh tuan rumah, maka jiran tetangga akan datang membantu seawal pagi. Pasti ada yang membawa pisau sendiri untuk memotong, ada membawa kuih muih, buah-buahan untuk di kongsi semasa gotong royong di lakukan. Pada ketika ini pasti ada seorang "anchor man" yang akan mengetuai gotong royong, dan pastinya di kampung Titi Gajah tugas itu dipegang oleh Hajah Asma Harun ( lebih terkenal sebagai Mak Ma). Beliau akan memberi arahan kepada kaum wanita apa yang perlu dilakukan. Ketika inilah kebiasaannya hidangan kampung seperti gulai ikan kering, sambal belacan, ulam, daging bakar di saji kepada para tetamu hasil air tangan orang kampung yang menjanjikan keenakan. Tamu yang datang di layan mesra dan kadangkala pulangnya meraka di iringi cenderahati. Tidak kira bangsa, agama dan arah politik semua tetamu pasti di raikan. Budaya kenduri merupakan suatu budaya yang indah dan murni serta mampu mengiratkan silaturahim antara tetangga.

Agar sukar untuk menyaksikan pemandangan ini di bandar-bandar, yang mana kebanyakan kenduri pada hari ini di sediakan oleh pihak katering. Tetamu datang untuk makan dan terus pulang. Tak heran kadang-kadang jiran pun tidak di jemput kerana kurang di kenali.

Kita terus bersyukur dan mendoakan kenikmatan berterusan!

( English Version)
In the Spirit of 'Gotong Royong' ( Doing Things Together).
The Ladies at a 'Doa' Session at Home.
Besides the normal get together of family members and friends, we like to host 'doa' sessions at home in rememberance of the dear departed besides extending our gratefulness to God for His benevolence and kindness to us and the community. It sees the gathering of the community : friends, neighbors, and family members. Normally about 150 persons would attend, enough to give an atmosphere of its own for the day. .It would be a nice respite too since it falls on either Friday or Saturday being the weekend. The preparation of the dishes would be collectively done by the 'kampong' members under the supervision of an anchor-person. In all probability it falls on a senior lady, Asma Harun or Kak Ma in short. She would decide what to be cooked and how. Amidst the chatter and telling of tales, the preparation proceeded and the ingredients got on the boiling caldrons.The men folks also turned up helping where necessary..
By lunch time and after the 'Zohor' prayer and the mandatory 'doa' often said by the men, the dishes are served. Home cooked food never tasted better when prepared in the spirit of togetherness. With varied side dishes,'ulam' (greens), and freshly prepared chili paste it is mouth watering and finger licking food to say the least. Naturally if the occassion falls during the fruit season, it will be either 'durian' or 'chempedak' galore besides 'rambutan', 'manggis' or 'langsat' too being served. The fruits would be brought over by the guests as part of their contributions.
We look forward for the next do and the meeting of friends

Disini Kita Akan Disemadi. Satu Renungan
Kalau dahulu perkuburan Islam terhad kepada tapak di sisi atau di belakang masjid kini pihak Kerajaan, Majlis Agama Islam dan Kariah-Kariah sendiri telah berusaha mendapatkan tapak yang lebih luas serta menjaminkan pengurusan jenazah yang teratur. Tanah-tanah perkuburan yang lama tentu tidak lagi boleh menampung tambahan penghuninya lantas menimbulkan kesesakan dan tidak kesempurnaan. Syukurlah usaha ini mendapat perhatian sewajarnya.

Kehadiran kebanyakan kita di tapak kubur tidaklah kerap. Namun ramai menziarahinya sempena Hari Raya Aidil Fitri dan Aidil Adha sambil menghadiahkan 'al Fatihah'atau membaca surah-surah Al Koran. Kesempatan juga diberi semasa kita menemani jenazah. Dalam sausana pilu dan sedih itu kita diingati sesuatu dari kandunan 'talkin' yang dibaca oleh Imam atau wakilnya. Elok juga kita renung pesanan yang berulangkali dibaca atau dipesan kepada mayat yang baru disemadi.

Kandungan talkin yang dibaca selesai sahaja jenazah dikebumikan antara lain berbunyi seperti berikut:
" Sebentar lagi akan datang dua Malaikat Mungkar dan Nakir, wakil Tuhan. Janganlah berasa gentar, cuak atau takut, berdukacita dan risau.Jangan susah hati dan terkejut. Jawablah soalan berikut dengan cermat, terang, tepat dan betul"
  1. Siapakah TUHAN kamu?
  2. Siapakah NABI kamu?
  3. Apakah AGAMA kamu?
  4. Apakah nama KIBLAT kamu?
  5. Siapakah SAUDARA kamu? Apakah pegangan kamu? Apakah kalimah yang kamu bawa bersama sama kamu?

Dengan penuh keikhlasan dan bimbingan dinasihatkan menjawab:

  1. Allah Ta'ala Tuhan aku.
  2. Muhammad Nabi ku.
  3. ISLAM agama ku. Kitab suci Al KORAN ikutan ku
  4. Baitullah itu Kiblatku; malahan Sembahyang, Puasa, Zakat, Mengerjakan Haji diwajibkan keatas aku.
  5. Semua orang Islam dan orang-orang yang beriman adalah saudaraku, bahkan dari masa hidup hingga aku mati aku mengucap 'LAILAHA ILLALLAH MUHAMMAD DURRASULLAH'

Dalam nada yang sedih dan pilu, pembaca talkin terus mengingatkan bahawa simati kini berada di dalam alam 'Barzakh' menanti untuk dikumpulkan di Padang Maksyar. "Selamat Berpisah. Selamat Tinggal di sisi ALLAH TAALA" Kita sama-sama seolah berucap.

Para keluarga dan rakan yang hadir melangkah pulang; tersentak dengan nasihat atau teguran tadi. Paling tidak tersemat dalam hati mereka bahawa TIGA tiang hidup sahaja yang berkekalan setelah seorang itu meninggal : SEDEKAH AMAL JARIAH, ILMU YANG BERMAANFAAT dan DOA ANAK YANG SALEH.

(English Version)
The Last Resting Place
I remember telling my trainee tourist guide students once that they have a story to tell about Muslim graveyard. For a fact it tells the direction of the setting sun or the north and south sector depending where they are. Of course there are many other cultural and religious issues embued and likely to be expanded by an interesting tour guide.
This narrative however looks at the point of the dead being buried and the 'communication' or 'doa' read. Much as it is sad and heart rendering, it hits hard at telling Muslims what they should observe and practise in life. In the end we are reminded only THREE values stand important and worthy as one's inheritance or contributions. i.e i) the Giving of Alms and Contributions to the needy ii) the Significant Knowledge left and iii) Devoted and Loving Children who will always remember you and pray for your souls..

Monday, June 11, 2007


Hj Latiff Long of Pasir Tumbuh Kota Bharu Kelantan is a master craftsman whose works adorned palaces, mosques, corporate offices and homes in Malaysia and oversea. At his workshop, I was fortunate to observe several pieces of his artwork albeit the smaller but not necessarily nonexclusive collections. There was the 'rehal' (book stand) with exquisite carving, fittingly meant for holding the 'KORAN' and several curved ivory ' gagang' ( kris hilts) which take the form of bird, crocodile, sea-lion etc. Hj Latiff gave me a 'tongkat' ( walking stick) an added piece to my small collectibles.

HO! Ho!.Sarang Tebuan pun ada." Yes it's a hornet nest right in his open veranda overlooking the bay. You will also marvel at the solid wooden tables and stools that form his dining furniture. Pak Wan of Teluk Baru Langkawi is a conservationist cum fisherman and carpenter. For fresh seafood get to his cafe .It's finger licking good.

'Give Me Roots I will Create a Work of Art' likely to be said by Pak Him (Ibrahim) of Kg Pandan II Kuantan Pahang. Drift wood or discarded wooden pieces become significant objects of value when they come into his hands.

ArisAziz is one die hard member of 'pelukis jalanan' ( street artist) of yesteryear's who now operates from his studio at Pasar Seni Kuala Lumpur. Twenty years ago I had a portrait of my wife done by him. He is at his easel doing what he knows best. June 9.2007.

Malaysian civil servants may celebrate with glee their recent upgrading of salaries and allowances. An increase of 7.5% to 35% will of course make a big difference to those who care to plan and spend accordingly. Naturally enough those in the private sectors look with envy and hope that they too would receive some token of sympathy and understanding. That is left to be seen.

Nevertheless there are also others: entrepreneurs and self-supporters who continue to earn through mere hardworking and efficiency. In the last few months I came across personalities of that calibre who generate income from hard work coupled with loving interest in what they produced. They are the hobbyist who promote their interests into lucrative productions. I wish I could do the same but sadly I don't have the dexterity either acquired or inherited to do what they do.

I would put them as artists in their own rights. Take a look at the accompanying photos and realise that the personalities are located in many parts of the country. Surely there are many others whom we have no chance to meet and thus do not realise their abilities and capacities. They may be close to you; in your own town or district. It would be a great discovery if you can seek them out. It will initiate a synergy between both of you. Please let me know should you meet people of such stature.

Those whom I met are craftsmen or promoters of our culture. They do not need or seek the incremental rise as wage earners. Their handiwork, polished with years of experience would naturally be valued at exorbitant prices because they are the sole producers. I am sure you too would like to treasure their products; realizing their very perpetual presence on the home's mantelpiece or shelving would be an added attraction and assets.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


Two new terms and unlikely being of Bahasa Malaysia derivatives. I was attracted to the 2's' as it marked a new sophistication for the Ministry of Defence Malaysia. More so, it saw the placement of Malaysians at Cherbourg France and Irkut Russia. Navy personnel and their families found a new home near Brest while undergoing training and familiarization. At Irkut future Malaysian astronauts took to training under Malaysia-Russia terms. It is right that the two strategic ventures deserve our attention.

In the next two years they will be quite familiar to many people. One will take to the high-seas and the other will soar into the open sky. Malaysia joins the military nations with the acquirement of modern arsenals. 'Scorpene' is a submarine type from France for TLDM (Tentera Laut DiRaja Malaysia) and 'Sukhoi' a jet-fighter aircraft from Russia for TUDM.(Tentera Udara DiRaja Malaysia).

In May 2001 Malaysia received a proposal from Daewoo Ship Building and Marine Engineering Co Ltd of Korea for the supply of three submarines ( 2 new and 1 used) promising a substantial saving of RM20 Million but the choice was for DCN Shipyard International of France to build 2 'Scorpene' submarines . In March 2007 it was reported that the attachment of its two body parts, the front and back of the Scorpene at its dockyard at Cherbourg near Brest was successfully carried out. The front section was completed by DCN and the back by Navantia of Spain.The submarine is expected to sail back to Malaysia in January 2009 and reach home four months later. Its base near Kota Kinabalu in Sabah which is under construction at the cost of RM 318 Million is expected for completion by February 2009.

It seems that both Malaysia and India have chosen to purchase the same aircraft and submarine. Naturally it will see a closer working relation between the two defence ministries involving training and logistics. Today we read that the government has allocated a special allowance for the defence personnel who will be the future crews of the submarines.

Alas I remember an earlier proposal to promote tourism in the country by taking people in a submarine to observe our tropical seascape around our beautiful islands. Hopefully it will also come true.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Roofs Over Our Heads

The Old Market Place
It is fortunate if old buildings are saved from being demolished to make way for some supposed renovation or upgrading. Markets built previously in outskirt of cities, came to occupy strategic positions in current times. They would be likely favorite victims.
This wet market in Langkawi (opposite picture) thrived with fishermen landing their catches off the beach fronting it as late as 1970 and was a centre point for the folks of Langkawi who would get the freshest of seafood: fishes, crabs, prawns, cuttle-fish etc. in the early mornings. The fresh sea breeze that blew across its open courtyards and the friendly intimacy of sellers and buyers made for the the legendary characteristics of the island. Graciously it was saved. An entrepreneur and an architect by profession turned it into a gallery. An extension deck over the sea offered an open-air cafe. It became a popular spot when the island embarked as a free-port and a tourist center in 1988.
Alas when I was on the island in May 2007 it has disappeared. The picture taken a month earlier remained a stark reminder of properties that suffer similar fates due to the process of innovation and modernity. Have we lost anything? Perhaps the reminder of straight tubular white columns, pitched roofs and moments in the past when we bargained for a kilo of "temenung" fish for several cents rather than seven Ringgit Malaysia now. People of Langkawi got instead a wider road and the seashore a quarter kilometer away from its original.

A Malay Traditional House

It is a sight to treasure and congratulation to the owner for keeping his property in a splendid condition. This wooden house constructed in the tradition of northern Malaysia (Kedah) craftsmanship was likely built in 1950 or earlier. That would make it no less than 57 years old. I can vouch for its age as a similar house ( perhaps a little bigger and higher) was built by my father in 1947. It is still standing but sadly not as distinguished as this one. Such houses would have used good quality hard timbers obtained from the forests.
Shortage of hard wood plus dirge of carpenters and craftsmen saw its eclipse.
Its characteristics are enhanced by the open veranda and staircase in the front. The inner wooden staircase leading into the house proper has balustrades along its railings. The house is built on stilts. Thus it has free flow of air and an open atmosphere on the ground floor. No need to construct a garage somewhere else. Your vehicles: a motorcar, motorcycle and bicycle can be kept safely under the house. So too other household items if need be. In flood prone areas, this typical house would save the owner from worries.
No need for air-conditioning. The wide open windows and air vents above them keep the house cool. The living room would occupy the front section of the house with the bedrooms being in the middle. The kitchen and bathroom would be at the back of the house.
Graced with curtains, paint works and landscaping it makes an ideal home. Not surprising therefore hoteliers are scouting for similar vintage homes to be rebuilt in touristic zones and selling for no less than several hundred Malaysian Ringgit for a night. An advertisement can appear as " Spent a Night in a Malay Ancient Palatial Home". No need to extend that much of cash. Call me if you need to see such homes.