Friday, August 31, 2007



FRIDAY 31st August 2007 is a special day for Malaysia. Today the country celebrates its 50th Anniversary. Fifty years ago cries of MERDEKA vibranted throughout the breadth of the peninsular and later in 1963 in Borneo ( Sabah and Sarawak). Fifty years have gone by and it is certainly not easy to recapitulate past events. It would help if you have records or notes or anything that can bring back the memories. I have consciously in the past and present made a point to note events and happenings that come my way. Notes, photos and collectables all help. I would not have remembered happenings and tidbits of fifty years ago or further back without the help of such reminders. May I advise friends and families to adopt a keeness for details and record what you see and discover as you leave your footprints behind. It help when we want to delve into the past or even look to the future. Become a historian yourself. One that writes history as well one that can solve the mystries of the past. Believe me it will be a fulfilling time.


FRIDAY 31/08/2007; 18 SYAABAN 1428

As we settled down for a siesta or a quite respite after a hectic and rather busy morning with Friday morning shopping at the wet market in town over purchases of 'ayam kampong, udang, ketam' and the tempting 'lala', intermittently viewing the live telecast of the Merdeka Parade from Dataran Merdeka, and consuming the extravagant lunch since the large family had been invited, we thought it right that we leave some notes or footprints of things discovered and engaged in before today's significant day. The latest would be that since it was Friday, the male population including those in the house had gone to the mosque for the Jumaat prayer. The Imam read a prepared khutubah entailing the spirit of nationalism and the significance of wrestling for independence since 1511 from the Portuguese, Dutch, British and Japanese. Kedah and Perlis had the distinction being under the Thai kingdom too. For that it was not just fifty years of skirmishes against the British, Japanese and Communists insurgents. It had been a lasting struggle very much in the minds of the older generations: our fathers and their fathers before them. They had endured the simplicity of life; none of the comforts that those in the twentieth century has tasted. It was true 'Merdeka' for them.

I bought several editions of today's papers: New Straits Time, Utusan Malaysia and the Star all came out with bumper issues. The New Straits Time hit the market since 25 August with free distribution of the papers published fifty years ago to the very day. It is a noble venture or publicity that not only help the young generations to know about the past but to discover strange unheard things from the news and the advertisements. Suddenly they became aware of goods or purchases that people fifty years ago choose and buy. They are surprised by the prices quoted or advertised, Fifty years from now the coming generation will again find such familiarities again, aghast at things we did. Surprised at what they see, read and hear. The multimedia and ICT would have added a new dimension which Merdeka 2007 lacked.

On 27/06/2007 we attended a grand launching ceremony at PICC Putrajaya. We accepted an invitation to observe Ministry of Higher Education's disclosure of its New Strategic Plan for the future. Over 3000 guests including students from Colleges and Universities attended. Our expectation was short lived since it became more ceremonial rather than distinct exposures of what to come in future amongst the universities and colleges. Still there will be new growth and approaches in higher education to meet future wants in the private and public sector be it domestic or foreign. Gainfully we had a sneak look at the majestic and imposing international convention center noted for its security measures known with no less than seven stages to deter incursions of a dangerous manner while an important international convention is held there.

We have visited Putrajaya on many occasions and yet to realise its full potentials, layout and distinctness. One thing we know there is always at any given time a large number of foreign and local visitors visiting the Putra Mosque and its peripheral.

Other observations or visits that came our way are best shown in the photos following with the appropriate notations. Surely it has not been a quiet eight months since the beginning of the year. What more since I too had hit the seventieth year of existence surpassing Malaysia my country by twenty years. I can surely shout Merdeka many times over since securing my independence upon reaching either eighteen or the twenty-first. I have casted my votes at several general elections in the past and will do again when one comes by soon. From the looks of things it should be just around the corner.

The imposing Putra Mosque at Putrajaya which has become an icon
for visitors to the national administrative center of Malaysia.

The Prime Minister and two of his cabinet members at the launching of the Ministry of Higher Education Strategic Plan at PICC Putrajaya singing the National Anthem along with the assembly.27/08/2007

We took time to visit the flora show at Putrajaya and this floral arrangement at one of the pavilion depicts what I believe to be the entwining of our society. 27/08/2007

The large assembly at PICC during the launching of Ministry of Higher Education Strategic Plan - promising autonomy for tertiary institutions plus other innovations. 27/08/2007

If you have wondered why you were going in a circle to get to the various precincts or the ministries wonder no more. This aerial photo taken as I was landing at KLIA on a flight from Palembang shows perhaps the largest round-about in the country at Putrajaya. April 2007

These lily petals and seventy roses were a special loving reminder of a blessed day when I chalked another decade. Thanks the wife, children and grand children for helping realise another good year with the hope that good health and family unity continues on. 23/08/2007

A quintet at a wedding ceremony reciting the verses and leading the 'Marhaban' session. These senior citizen group help to liven the atmosphere at ceremonies while perpetuating traditions and religious obligations. Their attire and preparation throughout give color and sophistication. 19/08/2007

The entire notice above is not the totality but suffice to record some of the events that came our way and we became participants. Rather than being vague or uncertain of anything that crossed our path the few that remained identified would certainly become creditable clues should we wish to recapitulate and look back to those moments at the stroke of midnight on Friday 31 August 2007 or thereabout.
Friends let's Shout and Cry Merdeka as they do with full convictions. May we see challenges accepted by our community and the target for a developed nation status by 2020 become a reality.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


AS I SEE this 50th Anniversary
NEWSPAPERS,radio and TV programs claim it as ' di ambang kemerdekaan' highlighting the hours before midnight.. Tonight programs hit the streets and open spaces with lots of variety and shows. I suppose they will begin as early as 8.00 pm or earlier and extends past midnight. Rightly going against the wishes as voiced by the Kedah Religious Department through the 'khutbah Jumaat' read at the last Friday session. In respect of malam Jumaat it was deemed proper that extensive celebration of the merry kind be curtailed. That is not to happen.
Tomorrow will see a massive parade at Dataran Merdeka a show piece of the nation and televise throughout the nation. The commentator will have a field day describing the riots of colors, deafening noise and the uniformed groups that will show their marching skill practised over a period of no less than several weeks. All will be resplendent in their best uniforms. The crowd will go wild appreciating the grand show, wavering their mini Malaysian flags along with the dignitaries including cabinet ministers, ambassadors from foreign countries having their embassies here and of course the prime minister and the Yang Di Pertuan Agong accompanied by their wives. For several days the celebration will continue throughout the breadth of the country. Imagine the time, energy and finance poured to make it the highest point in the country's history.
All of us may have noticed that countdown to 31 August 2007 had begun as early as the first day of January or earlier with the Ministry of Tourism declaring 2007 as 'Tahun Melawat Malaysia' Many and varied programs were arranged to make the world visitors enjoy Malaysia. Did they make their marks? Does the number of tourists into the country met with the target figures?
Sarawak had its world forest music. Sabah its Kinabalu climbton. Kedah its Bendang Run and the Langkawi International Dialogue. Trengganu celebrated the Monsoon Cup with no sight of the monsoon storm hitting the coast. Wilayah Persekutuan held the International Koran Reading Competition. Of course Johore took the giant lead when the Iskandar Development Region which saw its birth with promise of greater investment and development. The Northern Corridor next materialised. Coming soon after the Raya break will be the Eastern Corridor. Great, Great, Great. Civil servants got rewarded with a super rise in their salaries. Government pensioners too had new figures added into their bank accounts.
Today we read that the government spent RM 5.6 million for a one day launching of the Northern Corridor agricultural show at Ampang Jajar Alor Star. All together RM 11 million for Penang,Kedah,Perlis and Perak. We are told that Sime Darby bore the expenses. It must be an extraordinary do. That much spent for a short period of just a day at each city.
We must be a very rich country endowed with wealth that seems to come from everywhere. The 9th Malaysia Plan took to the starting line this historic year too with billions of MR development projects spread throughout the country.
On Monday 27 August we were at PICC ( Putra International Convention Centre) Putrajaya to see the launching of the Higher Education Strategic Plan which will put Malaysia as hub of Higher Education in the region while giving the local universities self autonomy and new directions. An apex university will be established out of the present tertiary institutions having the distinction of recruiting the best students and the best academic staff and geared with its own mechanization .Then we would have a Cambridge or Stanford equivalent. Will our Bumiputra academicians and students get through the portals into this apex university? We pray for the best.
Alas with all the excitements, proposals and development seen happening, we are taken aback especially today 'di ambang menyambut 50 tahun merdeka' terdengar rioh rendah di Parliament when parliamentarians in the august house cry out 'traitor' and 'unpatriotic' just because the opposition members did not stand up together to cry out simultaneously 'Merdeka. Merdeka. Merdeka'. They will be at each others throat since provisions allow them to do so with the attendance of the Speaker as 'referee'.
Surely we hope Malaysia too has a polished referee to take care of its future many years ahead.
That we won the Malaysia Cup Invitation Game by defeating Myanmar 3-1 last night was a right start to football much needed push. It was delightful and warmth to see the Sultan of Pahang as president of FAM embracing each one of the Malaysian players as they come up to him to receive their prizes. If a beloved ruler and leader can express such care, love and admiration what's to stop the commonality to do so?We need to express such love and respect without qualms. More so on the highways and trunk roads.
How do you see the future of our country for the next half a century?
MERDEKA,MERDEKA,MERDEKA .............................

Friday, August 24, 2007


Yesterday 23 August 2007 I crossed into another year of my life, marking a mark into another phase hopefully holding forward a sagacous and remindful years. God knows how we need them in moments when we crossed the threshold of a ripe age.

I was born on 23 August. That is the date permanent on my birth certificate and it has become a cut off point for many events, actions or inactions. By the age of seven, it pushed you into primary school and then four years later crossed into secondary schooling. By the 19th year you found yourself in College ready to step out into the vocational world. You would also focus on a ripe date when you decide to share your life with another person as companion. It would not be too much earlier because you would be responsible for the upbringing of children of your own too. Too early would be a disaster.

Every year the gracious date passed by. More often then not no big reminder or special do for celebration. More often then not I would buy myself a book and noted down in its opening page a brief comment of the current news on that very day plus where it was bought and the occassion why I was there. I will take an opportunity to collect the books and discover the backtracks. It least I know I have a mirror to reflect upon.

Still we have many other clues to remind us of our past glory or trepidations. Souvenirs, items purchased, marriage, births in the family, tragedies, friendships, rewards etc all helped to guide us discover the backtracks. That too if we care to be reminded. Being a historian by training and liking I am able to itemise the years that I have trespassed. Would you care to do that or just abandon it since it has lost its glitter and significance? That would not be true. Just look at the current celebrative mood the country is enfolding because we are on the very threshold of crossing the 50th anniversary of Malaysia Day 31 August 2007. That is only because we are striking fifty. So by touching the 70th year of your life wouldn't that be more rememberable and significant?

How would I record this special day in the yer 2007? I have not yet bought a book. Therefore no blank pages to pen down notes of significance. Fortunately my daughter Djasriza has just presented me with two volumes. I will act on that immediately. Maybe there are lenghty sentences to be penned down being this a very special annivessary.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I have not written or pen down an observation for a week or more. Cannot put it to work overload. Neither for lack of mood or listlessness. So what reason can I give for the lack-lustre period?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

VISITOR EXTRAORDINARY - Half A Century Ago ( Continue)

One morning in early April 1957 a hulking, robust person walked into the room. I guessed he must be over six feet tall. It must be one of my luckiest day. 'Nay' ( as in the words of old English and often said in Shakespeare's play). It is I believe the most auspicious day in my life.

I was a patient in the 'sick bay' of Kirkby Teacher Training College Liverpool, being down with flu and fever and at a time when other students were away on vacation. I am certain of this date as I have a post card sent from Dublin by a friend to wish me a quick recovery and not to be envious of others having their holiday during spring time.

They did not know that I had a far more interesting episode to speak about for many years to come. Yes it remained so even half a century later. Today I am disclosing that on that special day royalty walked into the small room accompanied by Papa G.J Gurney the principal of the College. The principal introduced my visitor. Promptly knowing who he was I offered the familiar royal greeting " Ampun Tuanku" though unable to stand up and be more respectable while observing decorum. His Highness acknowledged and enquired how I was getting on. I believed Papa Gurney also briefed His Highness on the function of the College sick bay. After meeting other students and a brief tour of the sick bay His Highness took leave. Later I remember Papa Gurney asking if I greeted the Sultan with the proper salutation. Being from an Unfederated Malay State, I knew the right salutation. By the way Papa G.J Gurney happened to be my school principal at SAHC Alor Star back in 1950.

Yes the Sultan of Pahang was a distinguished visitor at Kirkby. He was there and I had the honor to meet him. Sultan Abu Bakar Riayatuddin al Muadzam Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdullah ( May 29, 1904 - May 7, 1974) was among the Malayan leaders and personalities that honored the College with their visits during its glorious days.

When in Malaya we had often read about His Highness paternal, friendly approach that made him an extraordinary figure in Pahang especially. He would travelled into the remote interior of Pahang and meet the rakyat in his famous friendly manner. It is also acknowledged that His Highness indiscreetly encouraged resistance movements in Pahang during the Japanese Occupation Period. Askar Wataniah and Force 136 had his support. As we celebrate the golden anniversary of Merdeka we must not forget such leaders who have contributed in no uncertain manner to the development and growth of the country. I refer my readers to an article in Time,8816,937304,00.html which speak loudly of His Highness the Fourth Sultan of Modern Pahang.

That I had the privilege to meet him at Kirkby Teacher Training College in May 1957 three months before MERDEKA DAY of August 1957 remain an indelible mark in my memory and recollection.

You too may have crossed path with some important person or event at one time or other. Think back it may have escaped your mind all these while. It would be a pleasant and rewarding look back.

His Highness Sultan Au Bakar Riayatuddin al Muadzam Shah Sultan Pahang at Kirkby Teacher Training College Liverpool April 1957

and me in the pyjama ( baju tidur) most popular in those days