Wednesday, May 28, 2008


This is a sneak preview of an old palace once the abode of a reigning sultan and his consort, which thankfully is being conserved and restored. Surely there are lots of stories to tell about this treasure piece. Its architectural design and influence, its owner and inhabitants, usage through the years and what it will be after more than a century of eclipse and suddenly alive and facing the world again just as it was first born await to be told.
The two pictures below is an introduction to the story that will be unfolded as months come by culminating hopefully in its prestine origin.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


The current flow of governance or management in the country seems a far cry from the steadier or less tumultuous days before March 2008. It cannot be said because there is a change in the person who flicks the whip or the henchmen. They are identically the same but there is perceptibly a huge change and slowdown.

What ails? What is the malady? A breeze of uncertainty, discontent or dejection seems to hover in the air. Probably it is non-contagious but surely the whiffs seem to pervade the wide corners of the country and if not arrested quickly it could build up into a large cloud and may darken the countryside.

This is my perception or put it in a mild way “as I see it” the cliché often used by writers. The catastrophe that hit the neighboring countries recently and continuing to toll the death statistics are alarming and scary. Whatever warning it is meant to be, no one takes heed.

The exploiting or exploding world oil prices now rattle most countries with prices of all goods jumping higher and higher. Food shortage also hits the headline. Redirection is slow and almost non-moving though in Malaysia we hear of replanting and agricultural inclination made by the relevant ministry. Take heed.

Conflicts of personalities rear its ugly heads and continuing unabated. The Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and Dr Mahathir Mohamad are embroiled over issues which suddenly encapsulate many commentators noticeable in the print and electronic media. All manner of homo-sapiens have joined in the bandwagon addressing the issues as if they are righteous and all knowing. Comments and brickbats keep growing especially in the blogs compounded by its hysterical expansion because seemingly influencing the electorates recently. Schisms between other leaders and directions added to the fry. Some words have become sacrosanct less they infuriates the multiracial identity. ‘Ketuanan’ gets corrected. Live television screening of parliament sittings in the name of improvement saw actions galore too. Very recently fishermen in Johore get the freedom to roam the waters close to Pulau Batuan Tengah and Terumbu Karang Selatan but significantly Malaysia lost Pulau Batu Puteh. These and many more in the words of Shakespeare picked from the literature which we were inundated with before “when sorrows come, they come not in single spies but in battalions” Hamlet, 4.5, 78-9. Aren't these food for thoughts?

The complexity and intensity need immediate and profound review and accomplishment.

I am also taken up by such comparison to personalities as ‘one is a case of commission while the other is omission’ and other direct hits or judgments. It appears that unlike archeologists, historians, researchers or PhD students who dwell into their cases with reverence, patience, diligence over a stipulated period and the right tools while considering all points of view and registering their biases if any of the primary sources or of their own, before reaching any decision, compromise or opinion, present day commentators freely diagnose their personal opinion based on merits known to themselves only and guided by sources with much untested facts as any and over an immediate time span .

In all earnest Malaysian who cares for peace, stability and the practiced equilibrium need fast tracking to curtail all disorders and leadership struggle. Let’s hope whatever conflicts big or small see its compromises. More so when we read the message below.

Sunday 25 May 2008

As I signed off this piece, I am appalled to read the breaking news as on the mast head of Yahoo which I quote

…… convinced the planet’s oil supply is dwindling and the world’s economies are heading for a crash, some people around the country are moving into homesteads, learning to live of their land, conserving fuel and in some cases stocking up guns they expect to use to defend themselves and their supplies from desperate crowds of people who didn’t prepare” Associated Press Writer Sat May 24, 2008.

Friday, May 23, 2008


In the aftermath of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad opting out of UMNO Monday 19 May 2008, we may reflect on comments and opinions expressed. One specifically caught my attention and it is none other than that from his own son the parliamentarian from Jerlun Kedah Dato Mukhriz. Mukhriz may not follow his father’s footstep in defense of the political need to uproot the present leadership but expressed it in a more exacting way. In short he expressed that there are many ways ‘to skin a cat’. Ever since the 8 March 2008 country’s election result, there is a lack of euphoria but instead a horde of unsettled issues overhang the country.

Still that is not the issue at hand. “Skinning the cat’ is. Now why would any one want to kill the poor cat and worst of all in a most unbecoming and cruelest way? We know the phrase smacks of a proverb but what is its origin? Is the cat really the victim? Maybe it is. As it is disclosed that cat is used as the animal to teach anatomy in medical classes being that cat’s anatomy is similar to the human. An American folklore instead meant it to be the catfish, much like our ‘ikan keli’ which naturally required it to be skinned first. Another described the exercise that you and I ( as youth) may have performed by hanging with both arms from a branch or an iron bar and then bringing the feet and legs and body up through the opened arms ending yet more gymnastically with the body curling up the branch or iron bar. That exercise got to be named ‘skinning the cat’ too. To describe several modes used observe: “ …. More ways to killing a cat than choking it with cream” ; or ‘ ……… killing a dog than choking him with pudding” The truth is that there are many ways or alternatives to achieving one’s goal.

Mukhriz in the running for the upcoming UMNO nomination and election while not following his father’s foot - steps, commented that the objective of dislocating the president’s position can be approached in more ways than one. Be that as it may, what ever action taken certainly would ‘get into someone’s skin’ and you would be fortunate ‘to escape by the skin of one’s teeth’, remembering that the opponent too would want to ‘skin yourself alive’ too in all earnest to be at the top. It is perhaps perceptible that the current issue of leadership or more significantly premiership should hug on to skinning and the feline loveable creature the cat.

I am sure amongst us , those who just love the domestic cats but would in no way dare come face to face with its other larger sisters who roam the forest and the savanas. Just so it depended too which of the cat family that one dares to skin off.

Its a cat alright but certainly not the feline one and just try skinning this one
in what ever way possible.

Monday, May 19, 2008


The above metaphor is a choice no less for celebrating an anniversary of a happening. It was exactly a year ago that I went into outer space so to say; launching into the web pages and recording my earnest desire to start writing and putting down words and expression hopefully fulfilling to oneself and at the same time arresting friends and visitors to come and see the printed words and pictures. The random topics materialized on the spur of the moment, sometimes coming out of the blues. The blog entitled KOTASTAR had its birth and ever since ‘ a lot of water has flowed under the bridge’ leaving many residues behind. The beauty of blog is that it managed to hold on to these particles of garbage that we have somehow thrown out of our thoughts and imagination. To date it has registered seventy varied topics, all saved and to be referred just with a click. Now tell me where can you get result so immediately? Don’t expect your normal filing system to grant that immediate accessibility.

For good thing too, there are others who somehow managed to look in, pick up quite easily just by clicking and lo and behold interesting issues, personal or otherwise appear. You will surprisingly get comments from persons unknown to you. Still it is the freedom to come visiting without first calling which makes blogging a popular pastime. Yet once you are bitten by whatever ‘bugs’ you will not want to be away from it too long. A friend in Sik that small township on the eastern flunk of Kedah started blogging three months later than me and he has attained a record of sort for having published 300 topics of varied subjects. Now if he were at any of the institute of higher learning he would have easily completed his thesis; for determination and perseverance indeed came out to the fore.

As a new media ‘blog’ too has won itself a record of some sort. It seems that bloggers and their news managed to either informed or misinformed their readers and the 2008 Malaysian Election showed the swing that culminated in the result as seen. Extraordinarily now more people have become bloggers. Even politicians have found its attractiveness. ‘Che Det” blog that began 1 May 2008 has invited up to day no less than 470,000 visitors. No wonder a blog can also secure strong financial gain to its owner. Imagine its popularity and advertisers would be willing to pay for advertisements. Yes your blog can also make money.

The intricacies of blogging include not only the written form, but allow pictures and videos to be uploaded. I guess it present many other possibilities. Suffice that for the past 365 days I have been blogging, expressing as well as posting news or articles which would never have seen their existence if not for this free media that has captured the whole world. Happy BLOGGING.

Friday, May 16, 2008



Friday, 16 May 2008. The nation celebrates ‘Teachers Day’ today with the attendance of the Prime Minister and other officials at its gathering. For reasons known only to the organizers and the Ministry officials, Kedah had to relegate its place. Earlier preparation had been done in the northern state to welcome the celebration, but changes were made at the eleventh hour. So it moved to Malacca where the action took place today. Maybe one day we may learn why Kedah lost out.

Like other mammoth gathering, the elaborate celebration with an attendance no less than several thousands must have gone like clock works. Teachers and educators are efficient at organizing such functions as they have been doing so for ages. From the very orthodox to the most sophisticated display with the participation of hundreds to thousands of students, teachers would be the task master unequalled by any others. The participants mostly school children are after all rightly under their care and supervision.

We are therefore privileged to learn of the ‘slew of incentives’ (as reported by Bernama) thrown in by the Prime Minister himself at the celebration. Not able to guess what ‘slew’ meant, I checked it out. The dictionary explained ‘to turn about the axis. That meant a turn around and surely as reported teachers would be able ‘to look to better days ahead’. When the news hit the newsstand tomorrow it will surely eclipsed our downfall at Stadium Senayan Jakarta.

So much for the teaching fraternity as it is now. But surely ‘Teachers Day’ celebration is not only fulfilling expectations of rewards and incentives. It is the expectant recognition of the teachers role in society and more so in the classrooms. Besides their functions and directions would not have bloomed and become effective without the communities around them. Teachers and schools owe tremendous debts to parents and personalities around their work areas. Teachers owe their achievements to their own students like school prefects, librarians, scouts and other uniform bodies that contribute to their institutions success. Only then they move up, get promoted. Thanks to those who have helped them.

It is gratifying to receive messages from former pupils who somehow or other have not forgotten the roles played by their teachers. Congratulation for duties performed almost a half century ago, whatever it was must surely be grasped with joy and melancholy bliss. Being in schools and teaching then especially in the rural areas would be hard to imagine by the current breed of teachers. The encouragement and the ‘slew’ of incentives they receive today must surely push them to greater heights and a good recourse to finding alternatives in the teaching skills and parental care. For they are parents to those who are in their ‘homes’ from the time the students arrive till they depart for their homes.

Those of us who have been teachers take pride in being continuously referred as ‘Che Gu’ . It’s a two letter word yet fulfilling honor, respect and love. Surely it is a magical word because policemen too call their seniors by the same token of appreciation. Next time you see a policeman greeting another, just listen.

Rambling as it is, in recognition of this special day for the teaching fraternity, it would be good if future celebrations dwell into the strength and depth of the teaching profession and come out with alternatives do.

At least as teachers, we must congratulate the state government and the religious authority for not ever forgetting to recognize the role of teachers, ‘ulamas’ and all those who gave their time to educate the communities. Today’s Friday Prayer summon read by the ‘bilal’ again in all mosques in Kedah paid tribute to all teachers dead or alive. Yes, that is the simplest and most effective gratitude we seek I believe. Nothing more.

To all ‘Che Gu’ Thank you for your guidance and making us what we are today.

My uncles, my cousins, my partner and I too were teachers before. Only one of my children has taken up the profession and that too being at the tertiary institution. Perhaps other professions confront them and many others with better or adventurous choices. So to exclaim “Guru Cemerlang Negara Terbilang’ would be easy enough but to achieve in its finality would be a challenging episode as we don't capture the top echelons.
This 37th (2008) Hari Guru Celebration today beckons to those years when we set foot to start our training program overseas and the following photos tell about it all. We had become teachers fifteen years earlier before Teachers Day was first declared and celebrated.

Friends of yesteryears as we gathered for a group photo while waiting for the train to arrive to take us to our respective schools.Place: Kirkby Railway Station Year 1958

Boys and Girls everywhere will take the same stance whenever their group photo is taken. Here is my first class at Ormskirk Elementary School near Liverpool, England . Year 1957

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Viewing the news may induce you to think of many things. Political commentaries may stir you to heights of displeasure or otherwise depending what and where you are. What with the current setting and uncertainty, leadership turmoil and challenging voices, one cannot help being perturbed and distrustful. It has been two months since 8 March 2008, yet the leadership has yet to show significant headway. Incidents of road accidents, robbery, murder and abandon new-born stir you to much uneasiness.The latter being quite too often in the news, certainly seek urgent focus. The poor young girl,traumatized by the early conception, carrying a new life within out of wedlock, loss without the comfort and blessing of her family and sympathizer could only decide the simplest and best alternative to her grieve: abandon wherever and whenever.

On the other extreme disasters that hit the world from time to time may leave such predicament as a small spec in the world calamities. Only a few days ago the cyclone that devastated neighboring Myanmar carried in its wake total annihilation of the Irrawaddy plain killing almost 100,000 by conservative estimates. Rescue and aid facilities are farther blocked by the military junta government, multiplying the increasing sufferings.

In its simplest situation, imagine the time you are inundated with flood waters that crept into your home slowly and yet allowed you time to move whatever belongings to higher ground. For several nights you are left in the dark as the electricity has been cut and you suffered the enormity of going without fresh water too. You freaked and complained. Yet you and the family had the greatest pleasure of wading and splashing in the knee-height flood water. A the end of it all, you still received, monetary assistance from the government. The luckier one got compounded by their insurance companies. That would be the closest we in Malaysia come to seeing flooding excepting when 'tsunami' hit parts of the north-west shores.

So telling about great disasters, that incessantly struck Indonesia, the Irrawaddy Delta, the Hwang Ho Basin to the larger majority is likely to be passed as natural and without qualm.

Wait until we see it in its true identity. So give a prayer to those who are suffering from the latest natural calamity so near to home too.

Friday, May 2, 2008


Many a time your eyes caught hold of objects and happenings that seek answers but being in a hurry and preoccupied with other things in mind, it was brushed off. Such pursued answers remained a mystery or query, only making us less knowledgeable by an iota of a fraction. Multiply it successive times it may tantamount to a knowledge gap.

On May Day, being a public holiday, we were in a small border town and came upon the palm tree as in the picture above. Standing inside a building, it cannot naturally be a natural tree though it looks like one. On closer looks it discloses many characteristics and foremost it speaks of ingenuity, craftmanship and business acumen. It stood errect because its a concrete 'trunk' comouflaged with genuine palm fronds. Thick, treated, cut fronds are arranged as natural as possible around the concrete trunk from top to bottom. Any signs of nailing, joinery etc are painstakingly hidden from view. The broad palm leaves at the top escaped our perusal but they look as natual too. Had it stood in a more natural setting no one would bother to have a second look trusting that it is a natural palm tree. Imagine when large quantities are exported to countries which cry out for such natural vegetation with unquestionable affordability. Creativity with perseverance by no mean vouched for financial gain.

I thought I have seen a row of similar trees at Dubai International Airport, never giving a second glance then. I would'nt be surprised that they came from the same source. So we have it. Hardwork, perseverance and creativity will certainly reap a good harvest sooner or later. Nature surely captivates us and not surprisingly natural and native products have become epitomes in the tourism industry . Next time you are in a tourist market see the choice of souvenirs that visitors prefer and bring home as momentos. Of course, the wealthy one will not refrain from carting home the palm as seen above.

Row of Palm Trees at Dubai International Airport welcoming you to the desert kingdom