Tuesday, November 25, 2008


SCHOOLS are not as they were before. It’s understandable with the changing time and the priority as defined by educationists and the administrators. Still some commonality stands as they were. There are teachers as well as there are pupils or students. There are classrooms and school buildings too, though they differ now in terms of size and facilities.

For those when schoolings started half a century or more ago, present trends are a far cry from the practices then. Only the ‘lucky’ one would get places as the number of good secondary schools in each state in Malaya would not exceed the number of fingers on your right or left hand. To qualify for a certificate that was a license to higher education or the work place you had to sit for an oversea conducted examination. It was known as the Cambridge Oversea School Certificate with awards in three grades besides distinguishing in the particular subjects and the necessary passes or credits rating in certain subjects.

The students were caught up with subjects ranging from Malay, English, English Literature, General Science, Geography, History, Mathematics and Art. Students in the Science’s stream would go for Physic, Chemistry and Biology instead of General Science.

Physical Education meant exercises in the morning just after the first bell rang. It meant male students had to take off their shirts, lined up at some open spaces in the school compound in regimented rows and performed stationery exercises as conducted by the teacher. Variably the teacher would choose a student to be the ‘conductor’ as it would be quite strenuous for him, perspiring and uncomfortable for his next class lesson. Exercise would include arm, neck, leg, and spot running exercises to keep us lively and supposedly awake for the whole day. Of course the daily chore meant that some of the boys could show off their muscular bodies while some would work hard to make up for their lesser biceps etc come the next school sessions. If the teacher was to leave the session and return to the common room even for a while, then it would certainly be a complete stationery physical exercise till the bell rang. I believe such morning exercise has been discontinued for quite sometime replaced with a more rigorous physical education classes in the school gym or hall where applicable.

In the afternoon, twice a week after our lunch, we returned to the school to attend Islamic Religious Class. Our teacher came from an Islamic College in town. If we attended the morning sessions in school uniform, here we came dressed quite freely. Some even came in their sarong. I believed the camaraderie was much stronger among those who attended the afternoon classes, made more interesting by stories told by our teacher of his experiences while attending college in Cairo Egypt. Our mode of travel was of course the two - wheeler. Not the motorcycles but bicycles of course. Believe me, as students we cycled to and from schools daily. A fifteen kilometer ride one way was no exception. Public transportation much less school buses did not come our way at all.

More often than not we would stay back after the class. We would not lose the opportunity to run about on the large school field and joined in the activities. We would either get to play football, hockey, and rugby according to the season or participate in athletics. After an enjoyable afternoon, it meant cycling home. Not necessarily alone but normally abreast with colleagues from the same kampong too. No doubt the distance was of no consequence at all; more interesting if we were to cycle abreast with the fairer sex from the same school or otherwise.

Now I am quite appalled that ‘GEOGRAPHY” of all subjects is not taught in the upper secondary schools now. Without doubt it was my favorite subject. I can only imagine that present students would miss many things related to the world, physically and intrinsically. Many geographical terms would be beyond their comprehension and many of these terminologies are related to the work-place or career positions too. Could they make good sailors, navigators or astronomers? Already in the daily communication, they loose out on directions and place names. ‘House Hash Harers’ or ‘Motor-Cross” participations would not be their piece of cake as gradients, steep slopes, precipice, marshes, out-crops, contours etc become unfamiliar words. As much as we could count and name the series of towns stringing the drive from Bukit Kayu Hitam to Johore Bharu, it is much to expect present youth to do like wise and much so to define the physical, economical, human aspects of the townships and their surroundings. No way for them to pick up such values without a good grounding in ‘geography’. It would be your guess as good as mine, if our youth now can approach the school blackboard, hold a chalk and randomly draw the map of the country, extending to the whole of Asia and the whole world if possible, unless he or she has taken additional classes. Seriously I believe the subject has held back much knowledge to the detriment of our youth and certainly not of their making.

Present motor vehicles with their own navigation system is an answer to map reading, another adventure our youth has missed. Is it a wonder that many now complained that they can get lost in the concrete jungle?

It has come to light now that serious flaws in the teaching of Malaysian History too has caused an erosion in the fuller understanding of the early heritage and the tangent rights and contributions of the Bumiputras. Who knows now of the 'black hole of Calcutta', 'Saracen and Richard the Lion Heart' or 'Boer War'. World history has become a subject of the past too.

Of course present disciples of our schools can vouch that they learn much more than their grandfathers, grandmothers or the senior dads or mums. Do they?

These 12+ students came to school in their best attires to have a picture taken with their class teacher.It is a most memorable keepsake in my album, Imagine them participating in the physical education class as described above Recognize the boy third from right first row?

Six years later they turn up as young men ready to hit the job market, do service to the country or continue on the rung of scholarships. The blogger sitting next to the class teacher fourth from left. Besides him Dato Ishak Ariff former Director General Town Planning and on the left side of the teacher Tun Mohd Zaiddin Abdullah former Chief Justice.

Young teachers with their Principal ready for a 'Times Magazine" posing session.These brand of teachers have been taken over by a new generation equipped with skills in modern technologies.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


More often than not, when we visit places either in the country or outside, we are hit by ideas varying many shades, of course pertaining to our experiences and training. We look at things through many scented eyes.You and I may gaze with the same adoration but the intensity may differ in terms of degrees. One may zoom right to the apex but the other may be at its lowest ebb. More fervently, it is the question of registration. What does it connect you with? Does it arouse you to do something or hopefully put you on high-drive to get the best for yourself too, immediately or in the future?

So it is with masterpieces of art. A few may fathom their intrinsic inherent beauties. Others may be floundering in the abyss of nothingness, declaring 'What do you see in it?' People who make their way to the zoo may not necessarily trot to the museum which stores dead, lifeless antiquities and even mummies. Each has their own preferences. For those that even in the thinness of shades have congruent with one another, it is a blessing. That of all things call for semblance of unity, comradeship, willingness to share each others interest and love.

The pictures following capturing scenes and moments at home, Perth and Kota Kinabalu caught the eyes of the photographer for reasons peculiar to himself. Could it be the beauty of the scenery, ideas for future planning, sweet temptation or people's artistry or craftsmanship with natural objects made him click the shutter? Your guess is good as mine. Truly the pictures that we focused upon reflect in no simple way our inherent interest and simply our character too.

We are thankful that digital photography has made communication a bliss with the ability to record and retrieve at a moment's notice.

I thought I saw the same picture in a friend's blog recently. It turned out his was on the east coast of the country while the above was at a seaside resort in Kota Kinabalu.

The ingenuity of people sometimes beat you. Here the indigenous bamboo is put to good use. It makes you think of one thousand and one ways of using many other things including the discarded items if we want to.

No it is not only for 'angklung' or the 'bamboo cannon' but more so as a decorative feature - a room divider

Once at Perth, I noticed the hedges in the background of this picture. A gathering of dry branches, neatly arranged no doubt with some skill make a spectacular divider at a park outside the city. Imagine the range of natural products we have and yet we do not make use of them.

Of course timber is abundant in Sabah and its luxury stands out in one of the resort on the beautiful beach just outside Kota Kinabalu. Here thick solid woods stand upright in the foyer giving the guests feeling of solidarity and closeness to nature

It's a road layout with cycling and pedestrian roadway too. Safety and cleanliness however become the guiding factor. Why can't we enjoy such simple basic facilities?

Hard standing surfaces alright but the combination of soft landscaping and the utilization of marine equipments in the form of anchors etc make us feel that we are in the heart of a sea-side harbor. A big question come flashing by "Would it escape being carted away with the high cost of iron in the market?

The Railway Station at Perth Australia with a large bouquet of wild flowers in the tub.
It caught me having a good look. Maybe our 'anuk' and other push carts amidst a clean surrounding would be a crowd puller. Simplicity in arrangement seems to pay.

Fish and Crab dishes cooked in the most tantalizing style would make us repeatedly come back to the same place. Certainly not many would attempt to cook such delicacies. A return visit would be about the best approach. Maybe it's a way to tell the Mrs let's get some cooking classes.

A casual walk by the shore may surprise you . This common plant growing wild against the blue sky presented a beautiful picture. Notice the curves of the leaves as they are hit by the wind

A most welcoming feature at the front foyer of a hotel. Notice the giant drift wood and the combination of flowers. If you have the space at home wouldn't you like to have such a decorative item too?

Another 'wood power' . The scene at the entrance of a restaurant and the other the huge carving above the check- in counter of a Malaysian Resort Hotel

I leave you pondering what you have seen recently that set you thinking, ways that would tempt you to make the better of things. Or would you just abandon all feelings and be contented with what is there around you for it is already blissful?

I can only feel flabbergasted alongside you when confronted with a scene like this. Obviously the owner has all the discarded tiles at his disposal to turn into a wonderful comfort room.

A definition of travel quoted as " Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights, it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living" by Mariam Beard is a likely proponent to the thoughts above.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


After a brief respite from an exciting weekend, what more welcoming than to write about a hobby that can be lucrative as well as challenging but pain staking. Cast aside the professional photographers, you and I can also qualify to have a move at capturing such momentum and record as long as we are awake to the realities of things. In the case of President Elect Obama, initially not many dare to give him a chance and so the personality that was to become the 'numero uno' may escape attention.The few that hogged him through his campaign period now breathe with sigh of relieve and thankfulness. They have what others throughout history will envy: moments caught for perpetual identity and record.

Indeed a beautiful homecoming scene and being greeted by the loving family. They may have hoped for his success but it it is the wildest dream come true. We have been at the airport many times. Do we ever think of getting a shot as this?

On a hot humid day, nothing like ice cream. Being a careful man he took time to wipe the desk of some spilt-over.

I am sure many of us would have sets of photographs but do not have any inkling of what to do with them. These photos taken through time would set back memories, if presented, arranged and captioned in a most popular way. Lately I have seen web pages and adverts of photo books now in the market which would readily sort out these collection of memories and bring back alive the nostalgia of old times as much as the present. If we have been viewing them, mostly in standard post card or 4R sizes glued or fixed to the old type albums, now they come resplendent in odd sizes and printed on beautiful glossy hard paper with a particular title if need be. Its greatest attraction is of course able to pull in newly weds, presenting them a much desired souvenir. Wedding photographers now have a harvest to reap of course.

It's waiting time till you get your cue. Whom do you expect to greet you? So have a breather and gather all your strength and wits before facing the crowd.

Goodness! It's not a classroom but this huge collection of people. Is the p.a system all in order?. Hopefully it won't rain. Otherwise where do they run to.
Thank you one and all for coming. Sorry I can't shake hands

Right now, President Elect Obama has his pictures in all the media and memorabilia of his days before 7 November 2008 is a hit. I happened to come across a collection of Obama photos and they certainly would be treasured items and more so a recognition of the photographer's prowess and challenge to record history which was in the making. You see them here. It remind us that such transition do occur anywhere and at any time and the person at the moment has the opportunity to be part of that happening. What more if he has a media that can record it. A good camera is exceptional but now even your hand phone can spring surprises. A video and a sound track would certainly add spice.

Excited as well overwhelmed by the vivid and personal photo shots of the President Elect, it struck me that the very collection that each one of us have must certainly be preserved and presented in a more exciting way. More so we must take pain to make the pictures more exciting and naturally able to tell their own stories even without any captions. For all purposes don't fail to go for candid shots. It could become perhaps the best in the country if not for the century.

A shut eye is necessary and no choice for a place

After that delightful rest he is at his best again

Our Malaysian Political Party is on the verge of choosing its candidates for the whole set up. If we struck on any particular candidate, we may be lucky enough to get the best photo stories of the year. Go for it. Do check out on the photo-album too .

p.s compliments to photographers of pix above

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I remember mentioning earlier, that at any time we can be a part of history. Today is one. Though we are miles and hours away from where the historic happening took place, yet we follow with candid interest, caught up with either the Internet or the television the winning moments of the American presidential election. Maybe the long campaigning was not our piece of cake but certainly the euphoria of the national casting of votes in choosing a new President of the United States between two candidates respectively from the Republican and the Democrats must struck some measure of interest. After all it marked the very wishes of Martin Luther King, activist and civil right icon, that a 'black' as opposite to 'white' could seek the highest office in the United States and become the Field Marshall as well as the President. The result as announced today was a stunning blow to the Republican but sweet success to the Democrats and especially its candidate - Barack Hussein Obama. His acceptance speech " If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all thing are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer" was truly in response to the millions who want change. He promises that 'Change is here".

Neither Obama or the United States of America is our friendly neighbor. Yet daily we hear about them and from now on Obama the President will appear more often either in the prints or the electronic media. We shall be following the conclusions hopefully of the skirmishes in Afghanistan, Iraq and other warring nations where Bush and his Republican government had had their hands in earlier. We hope to see the world economic standing propped up again and America play a more constructive role.

One thing for sure, watch out for in the split of an eye, Obama the youthful President elect, son of a Kenyan and schooled in Jakarta when he was a child and later at the University in Honolulu will get transformed image wise . I have always noticed that world leaders will definitely be transformed. After all they need to present themselves publicly at all time. Just like beauty queens they have to be at their best image wise. Their composure and confidence throughout must be at the apex at all time. Imagine the roles of the image builder on the onset of the President being elected.Security wise, the mechanism must be at its full blown throttle too.

We must be grateful that we have been witnesses to all that has happened today. How much we see and remember is left to our discretion. At least I make an effort to record its happening.