Sunday, July 29, 2007


These Kirkby and Brinsford Lodge Trained Teachers were from Kedah
Do you know them?
Yes fifty years ago this group of 22 Malayan students met in Kirkby Hall for this historic photograph. Eight of them traveled up from Brindsford Lodge near Wolverhampton to meet their colleagues at Kirkby Teacher Training College. Wolverhampton is south east of Liverpool and about half way to the city of London. I remember that it took more than six hours to travel by coach (bus) between the two sister Malayan Colleges in England.
For record Kirkby specialised to bring out primary school teachers and Brinsford Lodge was given the task to produce secondary schol teachers. On their return they became teachers irrespective of media, primary or secondary. Many moved forward beyond their initial vocation.
Can you believe that all 22 of these trainee teachers were from Kedah. More interesting ALL the males except Jaafar Saidin studied earlier at Sultan AbdulHamid College in Alor Star. Further even FOUR of the female students were schoolmates at SAHC too. Except for Norma, Muhrizah and Mrs Looi Chee Chong ( I forget her name) who studied at Sekolah Menengah Asma Alor Star and Jaafar Saidin the lone male, all of us were from the same school. What excitement and boisterousness when the group met.
On returning home to Malaysia, each took their own journey progressing where they are now with their own families. If we are lucky we meet again but I believe each know where the other lives and would not forget to convey SALAM to one another on whatever occasion.
Sadly as the year take its toll, we have lost several of these colleagues. Only two weeks ago I came to know that Sdr Khir Ismail passed away in Kuala Lumpur. Sdr Zainol Rashid Ahmad and Sdr (Dato) Annas have left us very much earlier. "Semoga Allah mencecuri RahmatNya keatas Roh mereka"
We happened to be at Kirkby in 1957 because we were in the batches that graduated with the teaching diploma between 1957 - 1958. Of course other students from Kedah followed our footsteps and so too from the other states. They arrived later.
I am certain that there were one or two others from Kedah at that time but did not make their way for that moment in photographic session. If they are please let me know. Please.
Zainal Abidin Mohamed (1956 - 1958 group)

Friday, July 27, 2007


Kirkby College 1957

A welcome sight on our return from summerr vacation.
The gateway or 'pintu gerbang' besides the College
Administrative Building and Cafetaria was symbolic
of Merdeka August 1957.

1.0 Introduction

For some people a country that declares its golden anniversary comes August 2007 surely seems a questionable feature. What? Only fifty years old? Yet this is Malaysia's age since securing Independence. Indonesia and India too take precedence in being privileged to gain their Independence before Malaysia and then only a few single digit years earlier. The end of the Second World War only helped to spark nationalism in the South and South East Asian region. Truthfully not many nations in the world can take that pride as Malaysia has done.

We must not of course be confused by its very existence hundred of centuries earlier. Malaysia's historical origin with its culture, episodes, migration, development, influences etc in no way harbor along five decades of consequences. We celebrate 50 years of achieving self government: being able to do things our own way and recognizing our heroes and founders. More so fifty short years have brought us more success and physical development than centuries earlier.

"Sebaliknya bagi usia kita melepasi lima dekad atau 'half a century' bukanlah suatu tempoh masa yang mudah dilalui dan dikenangi. Pertama kalau kita masih hidup selama itu, ia merupakan satu Anugerah Allah. Kita tentu mengenang rakan dan saudara mara yang telah pulang lebih awal dan tidak kesempatan menjengguk berbagai acara yang dirancang oleh kerajaan untuk menyambut hari yang bersejarah ini" Perjalanan hidup kita melalui berbagai liku tentu sekali membawa keinsafan.

Fifty years of a man's lifetime is another story since he must count himself grateful for having been given the privilege to exist when friends and families have been unfortunate not to be here to see the celebrations being garnered by the government or the ruling party or simply to look back at the opportunity given.

On the threshold of Celebrating Malaysia Day 2007 in August, I am fortunate to reminiscence events and happenings back in 1957 or earlier. Thanks to my own inclinations at noting and documenting happenings, indulging in photography and collectibles, evidences of five decades or a half century remain fresh and vivid. Looking back, when I was in my late teen, without so much guidance and yet persevering, I wonder 'What would have been if we had all the orientation and counselling to help us?" Opportunities for present youth are opened for their trust forward if only they want to participate.

2.0 Remembering a Birthday Morning at Euston Station August 1956

In August 1956 I remember taking off from our only international airport at Sungai Besi Kuala Lumpur on a BOAC aircraft for London and then continuing from Euston Station to Liverpool and Kampong Kirkby. My mother and grandma were there to say farewell. I never asked or even thought back till now how they must have felt to see me going away. My dad had passed away only six months earlier. It must be sad mixed with blessings.

I hit my nineteen birthday the very morning I arrived at London Heathrow Airport.

Kampong Kirkby played its important roles. We were there to be trained as teachers. On our return to the country which had just gained independence, we would be playing our roles. As the Federation of Malaya celebrated 31 August 1957, many of the College students were on vacation. I was in Europe grateful to be able to see a foreign country because I was motivated and curious enough to explore the countryside. However the community celebrated the occasion when the College reopened. Tutorial, lectures and various activities at College helped to mould our youthful characters into Malaysians who appreciated one another, adopting a brother and sister relationship a characteristic trait and trademark of Kirkby. We seeked to gain as much experience as possible. Just six months after arrival, I found myself at Aberdeen Scotland attending a British Council Course which came with a home stay in a British home.

When I was in the College sick-bay down with flu, no thanks to the English weather, I had a VIP visitor. His Highness Sultan Abu Bakar the Sultan of Pahang was at Kirkby.

3.0 Photos for Eternity

Photos alongside this essay perhaps captured the best moment if not the most memorable of those years when we would dare do many things because there was no alarm, nor fear, intimidation or coercion. It was safe to travel. It was safe to hitch hike. Fellow travellers welcomed you. Families welcome you into their homes. It did not cost a bomb to travel either in Britain or Europe. The Youth Hostel card that registered you as a member was a gateway to all youth hostels in Europe. The opportunities to travel, meet people and socialize at an age when we were maturing into adulthood must certainly be fortuitous yet fortunate.

Kirkby College near Liverpool recorded a historical moment of its own when Tunku Abdul Rahman after the success of his delegation to the British Foreign Office announced the date of Merdeka Celebration in the College Hall for the first time on 7 February 1956

Kirkby College Liverpool existed for only a decade. Thousands were trained and Kirkby teachers played prominent roles at a time when teaching and education needed the momentum. At this moment in time all Kirkby trained teachers would have put aside their chalks and books as all would have passed their 56th year of golden age. Each one of them still living would happily look back at those years that have passed by. Each with his or treasured memories.

We are joyous that we have seen the country grow alongside its past and present statesmen. We salute them for their sacrifices who invariably had given everything for the sake of the country at the detriment of families' time and needs.

Events and happenings of years gone by are easily forgotten. What more if they occurred a half century ago. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad our fourth prime minister once remarked that "Malays forget easily" in reference to a dilemma. We fear Malaysians may forget too the struggles and sacrifices of the elder statesmen and nation builders if we fail to highlights their contributions continuously.

("Kita bersyukur kepada Allah swt ke atas segala kenikmatan, kesihatan, usia berpanjangan dan rezeki yang terus dicurahkan. Bertapak dari ilmu dan pengalaman diperolehi semenjak lima abad yang lamu insan ini terhutang budi kepada semua." )


Photographed with a group of Spanish children
while on route from Madrid to Barcelona in August
1957. It would be exciting if I could meet the children
again. I was then on a scooter trip around Europe.
The red barret was my safety halmet.

The College put up its share of celebration on Merdeka Day August 1957 with buntings on the side road between Block Eleven and the Staff Residential Block.

This was my group tutorial.
We were at Dr Fielding's residence
for a casual evening. He was also our English lecturer.
Dr Fielding and wife seen in the picture surrounded by
colleagues as Amin Zahari and Laila acted a sketch.
Abdullah A Rahman near the door bursting into laughter.

Separuh Kurun Yang Lalu (

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Menyertai Rombongan Meminang (On The Engagement Trail)

21 Julai 2007 bersamaan 6 Rejab 1428 Pagi ini aku menyertai rombongan ke Kangar Perlis khusus untuk melamar seorang gadis untuk keluarga Hj Md Fadzil bin Md Saud. Ta tahulah sebabnya mengapa aku diminta menjadi jurucakap bagi majlis itu. Yang aku tahu maybe I am a senior person dan ada hubungan keluargaan dengan Hj Md Fadzil melalui isteriku Wan Fatimah. Kalau aku renung balik mungkin ada sekali dua dimana aku pernah menjalankan tugas seperti itu.Dan itu pun dah lama dahulu.

Majlis ini kita sebutkan sebagai ' Melamar' atau 'Pertunangan' kerana acara 'Merisik / Menengok/ Meninjau' telah pun diuruskan oleh Hj Md Fadzil sendiri tempoh hari. Jadi senanglah sedikit kerana kita mengetahui pihak menunggu bersedia menerima khusus untuk tujuan dinyatakan diatas. Dalam zaman moden ini tidak ada lagi kes meninjau kerana teruna dan dara telah pandai memilih pasangan masing-masing.

Supaya kami sampai di rumah En Shahrirudin bin Hassan tepat jam 11.00 pagi rombongan telah bersedia untuk bertolak jam 10.00 pagi Dengan membawa lima bekas hantaran yang berisi sesuai dengan adat resam, kami memulakan langkah sebaik selesai doa. Tiba di rumah En Shahrirudin empat puluh minit kemudian, kami di sambut dengan mesra dan dipersilakan masuk. Sirih junjung mengekepalai barisan.

En Shahrirudin bin Hassan merupakan bapak kepada Cik Noor Hafni Syazriyanti yang bakal ditunangkan dengan Encik Faizol Faz bin Md Fadzil. Ramai keluarganya turut hadir untuk sama-sama memberi restu dan memberkati majlis. Tuan Hj Johare yang sempat saya berkenalan memulakan majlis dengan mengalu-alukan kedatangan kami dan tanpa panjang lebar pohon pihak kami memaklumkan hasrat dan tujuan.

Sebenarnya adat resam perkahwinan Melayu begitu indah dengan peringkat atau lapis-lapis tertentu. Bermula dari merisik dan membawa kepada melamar atau bertunang hingga ke perancangan khenduri , akad nikah, membatal air sembahyang, kelansungan perkahwinan (dengan bersanding), majlis kenduri di rumah pengantin perempuan kemudian rumah lelaki semuanya mempunyai hasrat tertentu. Malangnya demi menjimat dan meringkas sesuatu banyak tertinggal. Nampaknya yang sering diberi fokus ialah majlis khenduri, persandingan, perhiasan bilik pengantin dan pelamin.

Persetujuan dicapai. Pihak keluarga En Shahrirudin menetapkan Mas Kahwin RM 3000.00 dan Perbelanjaan RM 7000.00 Mengenai hantaran tidak pula diminta apa-apa dan terserah sahaja kepada pihak keluarga bakal pengantin lelaki. Tempoh pertunangannya ta'lama kerana kedua-dua pihak bersetuju majlis perkahwinan dilangsungkan pada 22 Disember 2007.

Dengan persetujuan itu, bekas cincin dengan kandungannya serta hantaran yang dibawa bersama di majukan kepada keluarga En Shahrirudin dan majlis ' Menyarong Cincin' dilangsungkan sebagai tanda puteri En Shahrirudin kini ditunangkan kepada putera En Mohd Fadzil. Majlis ini kami serahkan kepada kaum ibu yang dah lama menunggu saat-saatnya . Selesai sahaja serah menyerah, dan cincin disarongkan menandakan pasangan iti telah rasmi ditunangkan, acara doa diadakan bagi memberkati perhimpunan dan majlis yang mewujudkan hubungan kekeluargaan yang berkekalan. Kami percaya pasangan berbahagia itu serta ibu-bapa mereka turut rasa lega dan bersyukur. Hanya menunggu perancangan yang akan disediakan menjelang Disember ini.

Tentu sekali tetamu tidak akan pulang sebelum dijamukan dengan hidangan yang sedia menunggu. Pelawaan 'Sila! Sila! menjemput semua tetamu menjamah. Suasana majlis yang informal itu berakhir apabila rombongan kami memohon untuk berangkat pulang. Kalau tadi kami menyampaikan lima bekas tangan kini kami membawa balik sebelas bekas berisi dengan berbagai barangan sebagai tanda kemuliaan, kemesraan dan keikhlasan tuan rumah dan bakal bisan kepada Hj Md Fadzil .

Begitulah halnya. Apa yang diberi mendapat balasanya.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

To Anticipate Is Better Than To Arrive

Back in days when I was at Kirkby Teacher Training College Liverpool, I recollect being assigned to write an essay entitled as above. I believed I must have touched on the aspect of traveling: imagining and planning while zeroing on the itinerary. Then we do not have Internet or Astro programs the likes of 'Travel and Living Favourites' or ' Globe Trekker' which give vivid description of visitors' favorites holiday spots. We had to trust brochures issued by agencies and at the most use our imagination. Therefore it is valid and true to say that we dreamt and expected the best of the places that we were headed for. Be it a mountainside chalet, seaside campsite or family home stay, we always saw the best and the expectation itself became an added incentive. We stepped out always on an adventure. I must say the induction seemed to remain intact thus I benefited both from the expectation and the realization of the true nature.

Our holiday or excursion cum break have taken us to several places around the region and outside. Foremost our contact with individuals, members of hospitality club of which we subscribed to and friends living there make such visits worthwhile, memorable and beneficial. For sure the trip would not be pleasurable and exciting had we proceeded without having an insight of what we would expect. Arriving at the destination with a clear idea of what to get and experience is an added bonus. Of course if you were traveling on a package tour it would be a different story. You have initially made it known that you would follow the pack: do and go as scheduled. I would not accept that kind of arrangement.

One Autumn day we found ourselves on the grass tarmac
on top of Australia's Parliament House Canberra.

Come with us on a short tour of places we have visited and see whether what we prioritize met with your likings. Images captured in your mind or on film/ digital camera vary from person to person. A return visit to Canberra A.C.T Australia where I was a student at ANU brought back the earlier experience of finding a quiet peaceful city and especially clean and beautiful. It was more beautiful with autumn in the air this time. Sydney and Melbourne no doubt have their attractions and we recognized their distinctions. Again we seek to remember the unfamiliar and uncommon. We may continue to anticipate even when we have arrived and our sojourn will surely be more rewarding

I chanced upon this horse carriage and the newly wed couples while they were being photographed on the wide open fields near Lake Burley Griffin Canberra A.C.T You would certainly not anticipate to come across a situation like this.

We could smile knowing that we were on the grass tarmac atop the roof of Canberra's New Parliament Building opened in 1988. The view from the top amidst cool strong breeze guarantees a panoramic view of the city.

Seen here is part of Lake Burley Griffin named after the landscape architect who designed the city in 1912. As centrepiece it pulled the populace to its lake sides throughout the year. ANU ( Australian National University is close by and a walking distance to this site)

At one of Canberra's suburb I saw this familiar scene. Besides all its modernity and efficiency the old display board continues to service the community's need. This gentleman taking time to browse the adverts.

Fish stock is sold at a reduced rate at an outlet in Canberra . At one time parts of fish are discarded until the Aussies found that Asians had strong clamor for these particular sections.

We think our rates are high. Looking at the parking charges at Sydney you may not want to drive into town often. You have to be ready with RM 100.00 per day.

Sydney has one extra to compete with our twin Petronas Tower. Moving along the Parammata Road you may come across these structures.

Ha,ha. What's the gentleman doing? Can we cooperate
to bring our washroom to that level or better?

These row of gum trees remained part of Sydney's identity. Much loved , they helped to adorn this suburb close to the Sydney Bridge.

At the famous Bondi Beach we met with this Restaurateur who served delicious hot Fish N Chip. The takeaway are wrapped in paper. A bundle is seen on the right with the buyer extending his $50.00 note. In the end it's people that make our holiday a thriller and the jovial friendly Italian added that much needed spice.

Our expectation on the visit to Australia was to look at waste control and its collection especially at Sydney and Melbourne. Through contacts and friends it was fulfilled. You don't of course see the unglamorous aspects of it all in pics.

In between we managed to take in the scenario around. The anticipation surely concurred with what was expected. On arrival everything was just as fine. It could not have ended better with lunch at a Restaurant in Melbourne favored by the Italian community and dinner at Sydney harbor wharf. Take a pick and order 'Oven Baked Barramundi' or a 'Whole Lobster.

Friday, July 13, 2007

We Continue To Learn

Three days ago a friend, an ex-headmaster of a premier school and currently a petrol station owner in town called at the office to ask about the technical aspects of drawing plans for renovating his house. Our conversation digressed towards petrol station and know how of running such a business. We asked about approaches when applying for an agency and the necessary do and don't. Now that Petronas and Shell being two leading companies are opening many new stations throughout the country, there is of course a large demand from would be entrepreneurs to jump on the band wagon and apply for the status of ownership.

He told us that amongst other things required, he was surprised to receive a phone call one morning. " We are at your front gate. Would it be possible for us to see you at home now?" They introduced themselves and once inside the house requested if they could visit the the bathroom and the bedroom. That done they took leave with the normal thank you. "But before getting into their car, they asked to look at my car too parked in the drive way."

We were told that the Company's agents looked at many wide ranging aspects including finance,diligence and of course personality while requiring the applicant to attend interviews etc. The visit to the home was of course an eye opener to what you do or don't do everyday

Of course the petrol station owner got what he wanted from us regarding his approaches for wanting to renovate his old home or to build a new one on site. Likewise we discovered a true approach at identifying cleanliness and attitude.

From the currently sensational Altantuya court case being heard at Shah Alam High Court we are deluge with many new discoveries too. The actors ranging from the judge, prosecutor, prosecution witness, accused, defence lawyer etc appearing in the case made us understand why the judicial and legislative service continue to be attractive. Yet more interesting is learning from the daily, statements that qualify actions or inaction from the witnesses with many interesting disclosures too. You have of course come across MP3 but now we hear of MP5 sub machine gun loaded with thirty bullets in each magazine. We heard of 'operatives' who received arms without having to sign in or out. We heard how an accused brought back to Malaysia was required to carry a knapsack on his back for reason of clear identification should he bolted while at the crowded airport. Police probes into the case caught our attention when notes, laptops, visitor's book , blood stained slippers, Sm's messages, videos, phone calls, CCTV etc became evidences for the prosecution. It appears that our common daily friendlies the likes of our desktop , laptops and hand phones hold evidences when so required. Necessarily our purchases through credit cards will show where , when and what we do at any particular time. All these help to glamorise movies and television series the likes of "Intelligence" and the evergreen "Mission Impossible". Hopefully there are senior executives of the relevant departments who take notes of outpouring and adopt a stance to put things on the right railings as much as we have learn to be cautious too.