Wednesday, December 31, 2008


THE PROCLAMATION of the 11th Yang DiPertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan on 29 December 2008 brought forth the uniqueness of 'Adat Pepatih' of Negeri Sembilan, one of the states in Malaysia. Where as most other states in the country, choose their ruler hereditarily Negeri Sembilan adopted a system peculiar to itself. Those of us who had the opportunity to see the live coverage of the 'Laying in State and the Burial Ceremony' of the Yang DiPertuan Besar Tuanku Jaafar at Sri Menanti plus the proclamation of Tunku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir as the new Yang DiPertuan Besar would certainly be curious to know more of this particular tradition. Occasion like this comes once in a blue moon. True it is there all this while but only when it hits the headline, then we are shocked to realise that there are things that we do not know and there is that curiosity to know now.

I am attracted to the above picture as appeared in the media. It is a ceremonial function and uncharacteristically no one wears a headgear; not even a songkok. Intrigued. Extraordinary because it beats any other ceremonial functions. Surely all of us know about the matrimonial linkages and followings of the Negeri Sembilan people but admittedly less of the ceremonial functions and traditions. Today we know about the roles of the four chieftains of Sg Ujung, Johol, Jelebu and Rembau. Each with their respective titles and callings namely; Datuk Undang, Datuk Johan Pahlawan Lela Perkasa Setiawan, Datuk Mendika Menteri Akhiral Zaman and Datuk Lela Maharaja. They chose and proclaimed the heir to the throne of Negeri Sembilan.

We are made known that the official swearing in ceremony of the 11th Yang DiPertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan will take place after the 100 days 'perkabungan'. Meantime we have time to dig into the references and learn more about the state which gives many statesmen especially from the royal household who have been exemplary. Al Marhum Tuanku Jaafar's siblings namely Tunku Laksamana (Tunku Naquiddin 61), Tunku Muda Serting (Tunku Imran 58) and Tunku Panglima Besar ( Tunku Nadzaruddin ) were candidates for the post just as Tunku Besar Sri Menanti ( Tunku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir, son of the 9th Yang DiPertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan was.

Learning experience is perhaps the best anecdote for all of us to take along as we swing into the NEW YEAR. Coincidentally the "Hijrah" 1430 and the 'Masihi' 2009 coming almost simultaneously. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL especially fellow bloggers.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Kita memang suka segalanya khusus apa yang kita hargai dan inginkan. Tapi ada juga yang kadang-kadang kita marah sangat dan merunggut mengapa ia terus berlaku. Khusus dalam musim cuti ini, kita kerap ke kedai baik yang besar atau kecil. Yang saya pantang sangat malah marah sekali TIGA perkara. Mereka seolah-olah tidak bersedia atau sengaja hendak memudahkan diri sendiri tanpa mengutamakan pembeli.
1. Sudahlah kita telah mengeluarkan wang untuk menjelaskan segala yang dibeli tetapi sebaliknya terus meminta pula " Ada dak duit kecil 40 sen atau 10 sen?" Hendak kita seluk saku mencari duit bagi memudahkan dirinya? Mengapa RM100.00 yang kita hulurkan tadi tak cukupkah? Maaflah saya tak akan menunaikan kehendaknya. Dia kena buka kotak wangnya dan dapatkan pertukaran yang secukupnya. Ya penjual kita sudah jadi malas dan harap semuanya disenangkan. Pernahkah kita jumpa kes seperti ini di luar negara. Kalau di Saudi Arabia sekali pun khusus di Mekkah dan Medinah penjual disana tak pernah pula minta wang kecil.Di negara maju lain pun tak berlaku kes ini.
2. Kini ada pula 'promoter' yang merayau-rayau di pasar atau emporium. Sedang kita mencari barangan yang tetap kita hendak beli kerana sudah menggunanya berpuluh tahun, dia menghampiri kita' " Encik, dapatkan 'pencuci' ini. Bagus, menjimatkan dan serba serbi yang lain" Kita diam saja. Dia kejar kita. Rayu lagi. Baiklah. " Kalau kamu kata begitu baguslah. Kamu boleh beli sebanyaknya dan bawa balik. Saya akan ambil yang ini. Saya berpuashati dengan mutunya bertahun-tahun" Ya kalau hendak membuat tawaran atau promosi gunalah cara lain. Jangan pula paksa pembeli. Kesian mereka yang tak dapat berkata apa-apa dan terperangkap.
3. Apa pula pantang yang ke tiga? Dah dapatkan semua barang. Berat pula. Nasib baik ada bakul atau troli. Kita beratur di kaunter. Sedia dengan barang dan wang. Datang seorang pelanggan. Potong barisan dan terus membuat bayaran. Dilayan pula! Tak cukup dengan barangan yang dah dilonggokkan di atas kaunter dia masuk semula ke pasar/emporiam untuk mendapatkan barangan lain. Kita tunggu. Tak datang kembali. Kita diam juga. Penjual tak dapat tutup kira-kiranya. Tak dapat melayan pembeli lain. Kemudian kita disuruh pergi ke kaunter satu lagi. Marah padam buatnya. Dan ini berlaku kelmarin semasa membeli belah di Pulau Langkawi.
Ya itulah tiga pantang tok nenek. termasuk bagi diri sendiri. Saya harap tahun 2009 baru ini akan menyaksikan perubahan kecil dalam hal-hal seperti ini. Hendak harap pada hal-hal besar maklumlah ......
Banyak yang kita mendoakan bagi kebaikan negara kita.Kalaulah kelemahan-kelemahan yang ada dapat diatasi tentu sekali negara ini akan lebih maju dan bermanfaat.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


A sign that a new year is just across the line with this tree flowering its yellow blooms. It also heralds that the dry season or 'musim timor' is back in the Kedah plain. We will enjoy cool days and nights and time to start flying the kites too.

IN A FEW DAYS TIME we will usher in two new years, Awal Muharam and 1st day of January 2009. In fact both will run concurrently with Muslims and other nationalities or religious observers practising all the special dates and occasions attached throughout the year in the calenders. We will do that as we have done in the past years,

Yet 2009 has already caste a dark cloud on the horizon with countries feeling the coming economic turmoil. In fact thousands have already had their last pay cheques and worrying what the coming months will be for them. Malaysian are still in happy mood, unperturbed because our leaders are of the opinion that we could ride the waves and we are 'economically' strong. But all that trust and optimism seems to dissolve as days go by. Now they are talking in different tones.

Be that as it may, what has 2008 given or not handed us? Yes it has thrown on our laps many: the goodies as well as the brickbats. It has yet to answer to many unresolved issues. Foremost who blew up a young pretty woman from Mongolia; next where are the kidnapped or missing children? Will we continue to deport illegal entries into the country rather than close our doors? Making Malaysia an educational hub is one thing but allowing it to be a resort for 'students' to enjoy our facilities and sun shines detrimental to safety and security is another. What next re the teaching of science and mathematics?

It may be daunting to dwell on such petty issues as we stride into a new year. Still we have to be cautious while of course plan and approach the coming months with steadfast determination. We would like to believe that it will continue to provide us all the necessities.

A latest story about Lombok an island off Bali, seemed to tell the background of 'disappearing' young women from Malaysia. On record five are known to have left their families without traces. Now it seems, Lombok has a unique 'tradition' of kidnapping or running away with pretty damsels. This seems to be natural and 'manly' , showing shades of 'kelakian' when you could graped the women you like or fall in love with from their homes and later take them as wives. But running away with women from another country, crossing the border and international waters without proper documents , much less without the knowledge of their legal parents is no game or home-grown 'adat' anymore. That our young women, with much destruction on their families are gullible to such sweet talks and ploy is a subject of immediate attention less we find them in many corners of the world and not as near as Lombok anymore. That I hope and with other issues at hand will find remedies in the very near future.

Could it be that we have to be more thoughtful of one another and adopt strictly the neighboring and community spirit of yesteryear's and put aside this 'mind your own business' phobia ?

I trust 2009 though daunting as it seems right now will still gives us the best as the other past years have provided. Insya'Allah.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


It’s a Friday morning and a weekend and a continuing day in the month of Ramadan, most people in Kedah would likely be lingering snugly in their homes happily knowing that they do not have to rush to office or work. Those who normally go marketing on weekend would likely delay till later in the afternoon: a departure from the normal weekend outside Ramadan. The housewives deserved a good rest having served the household during the weekdays with all manner of dishes and concoctions, tempting the appetites for those breaking fast when the sun hits the horizon and the muezzin calls the followers to prayer.

I am dragged into slumber too. Yet in such moments, you seemed to fathom issues. Foremost I begin to seek answers to an equally simple query. What task do we performed at home? What is its scale in relation to other activities? I am inclined to believe that more contributions by male folks are due and forthcoming. Maybe I am stepping on thin ice. Six decades of living cannot be a better reason to justify this observation. Do women work more or ‘harder’ at home than men?

I am not suggesting that men have to slog and do all the house-works. The question is “What do they really do when they are at home or don’t do? Do their duties measure equally with that delivered by their other halves?

The old adage that women stayed at home and the male went to work is dead and gone. Now husbands and wives fulfilled their obligations as career persons, leave and return homes almost simultaneously. Observably the ladies of the home change into another role almost immediately upon reaching home as housewives. Husbands: they change their garbs mostly to exercise, offer their prayers or relax; waited to be served with hot cups of coffee and maybe some delicacies that were bought on the way home. Would they leave their sofas and moved into the garden, water the plants or got hold of the hose to wash the cars? Your answer is as good as mine. The wives would be fortunate if they had helpers at home otherwise they would have to turn their attentions to the children, their needs and urgencies too. A chance to turn on the TV and hear the news broadcast at six? Not likely. Even to attend to prayers would be a matter of urgency.

It is an after thought that the equal or unequal sharing of responsibilities needed a look in. We notice that the women have a greater or heavier burden of responsibilities or duties. ( who impose them in the first place?) They seemed to have abundance energy diving into the roles of motherhood and wives etc, ready to serve the needs of the family.

Where do we start to weigh these sharing responsibilities? Could it be at the primary or secondary level education? At home itself, when children learn directly from their parents? Or wait for lessons to be included in the compulsory marriage courses (right now for Muslims only)

Yet with all that endurance and iron – women reflections, the tender genders have longer or prolonged lives and able to bear the consequences for what may come in the pipelines. Or would there be resistance as already seen in other countries when marriage becomes hard to come by?

(This is a point noted during one day in the last fasting month. Possibly my point of attention was directed at one particular sector and yet I remained to be corrected if it is untrue, biased or inconcrete)

Monday, December 8, 2008

HAJ 1429 (2008) 10 ZULHIJAH/ 08 DECEMBER

Syukur Al'hamdullilah. Perjalanan urusan Haji di Mekkah Al Mukarammah tahun ini berjalan lancar tanpa apa-apa berita buruk sehingga petang ini, hari pertama kita di Malaysia menyambut AidilAdha. 8 Disember 2008 . Sempenanya elok juga dicatatkan serba sedikit perihal Haj.Jesteru mengucapkan Selamat Menyambut AidilAdha and menyempurnakan 'korban' jika berkaitan.

Thankful that the Haj obligations have seen no major setbacks. It is always a daunting prospect for pilgrims and their families.

The Saudi authorities have taken precautions to avoid the perennial mishaps that had happened before. The previous Haj had seen incidents which claimed lives due to stampede, building and tunnel collapses, fire,uncontrolled mass movement of people and road accidents. Naturally it is easy to blame the authorities, but bearing in mind an invasion of over TWO million people at one place and time for a particular duty and obsession it must be a Herculean task for all concerned. That it comes around every year, none stop with increasing demand from Muslim pilgrims all over the world to get there is no respite for rest and good planning. Yet they have done the best to welcome the world's Muslims to Allah's home and also at the Prophet Muhammad's abode in Madinah.

Those who made their first visit would inadvertently whisper quietly within themselves for a quick return visit to the Holy land. They pray that Allah would grant them another opportunity to be there again. The clamour and the feeling surmounted all other hopes and decisions. Mind you, travelling to Mekkah from the far reaches of Asia is no bed of roses particularly with the higher cost of fuel, accommodation and other services. Pilgrims who make the trips are generally from the hard-earning wage earners or the rural folks. We understand this year 1.7 million visas were issued and 500,000 Saudi nationals gained permits to perform Haj this season. They had to restrict their own nationals to perform the Haj in respect of the magnitude envisaged annually. That construction works have been going on in Mekkah especially for a modern city with all the infrastructures and faster communication augers well for pilgrims in the future years.

On Sunday over two million Muslim pilgrims had gathered round a small hill east of Mekkah in the plain of Arafat. Here all the male pilgrims came dressed in their white 'ihram' shrouds and women in dark or white dresses, gathered in the plain for the peak of the Haj before they moved to Muzalifa and Mina for the consequent throwing of the stones. The surge of pilgrims in great numbers saw the mushrooming of tents stretching for miles especially at Arafat with all the comforts of homes. The more comfortable ones would have central air conditioning and other necessities. It would be a picture repeated once each year and at other times it beacons back to the open desert plain though inundated with hordes of piping system allowing trees to grow and afford shades very much desired by pilgrims and visitors.

Journeying to the Holy land,Mekkah and Madinah for the Haj, meant a lifetime saving for the great majority. Through Tabung Haji ( the Malaysian Pilgrimage Board), the current all-in costing for a duration of forty days would be in the range of RM9000 -RM10,000.00 per person. This would mean being accommodated in a six person-sharing room with all boards included. Should you choose to take a double room and with your spouse then it could go between RM15,000 to RM25,000 depending on the choice of hotels and closeness to the mosques. Airfare, accommodation and board fifteen years ago was RM4500.00

The number of pilgrims from Malaysia alone in the queue for the Haj is quite outstanding. Depending on the number of visas accommodated by the Saudi Government annually, a haj candidate who registers now would be expected to get his turn in the year 2022. Anyhow concessions would be given to senior persons or those with valid reasons to gain earlier dates.

For all the circumstances that faced pilgrims on the Haj journey, it is reasonable to expect that they would attempt to fulfill the fifth pillar of Islam when they are strong and not when they reach their senior years. Our daughter and her husband are currently on this year's pilgrimage. At thirty years plus, they would be in a position to bear all the circumstances as well as assist others as need be. We hear that they are in that frame and we wish for them the state of mind to obtain 'haji mabrur' and happy home coming.

A Haji or Hajah returns home cleansed like a new born baby and ready to tread on a new life-style. InsyaAllah. We wish all friends who have taken this year's journey to Mekkah a happy return and may Allah gives you all the blessings and future undertakings as you would wish for.

As they stepped out with their right feet from the home attended by prayers from those who loved them just as many before them have done before.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


I am SURPRISED but much more aggrieved that such a revelation, whatever it may mean does not get the attention of those responsible to highlight the city for what it is worth.

An fDi report recently accorded ALOR STAR, this city in KOTA STAR KEDAH in the following term:

" Of Asia's major cities, Tokyo scores top for infrastructures, while Melbourne comes out top for quality of life. Alor Star the state capital of Kedah in Malaysia is fDi's small Asian City of the Future, scoring well across several categories, including economic potential, cost effectiveness and business friendliness."

Now with such a laurel, what are we waiting for. Now that the city tops even others in the counting such as Newcastle ( Australia), Jeju City ( South Korea). Taoyuan City ( Taiwan) and Ipswich(Australia) over many categories too, it can be a big reward and even a major investment if it need be. But do we (State Government, Officials, Industrialist and Business people) are awake to this declaration? It is all quiet in the northern front except for a small extract in Utusan Malaysia, the Malay Newspaper recently. Given such an advantage and honor, Dato Bandar ( Lord Mayor) especially would grasp the opportunity and together with the tourist development authority bring about greater participation and increased flow of tourist and visitors into the state and city especially. Maybe it needs a wakeup call.

The report is available: html

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Of all places I ended being at Banggol Derom, a small village near Bongor in Baling Kedah today. It was by chance that I came here and I suppose I would never have known about this kampong which lies parallel to the Baling - Siong main road had I not decided to take two young grandchildren for a dip in a ‘charok’ as opposed to a ‘sungai’ or river while the grandmother attended to some project works nearby. We are by choice their caretakers or nannies for the next forty days or so since their parents have left for Mekkah on this year’s Haj.

It would not be safe to take them to the fast flowing Baling River and with the water quite coffee-colored after a heavy downpour the previous night. So the stream was suggested. It was a marvelous suggestion as we found the place extraordinarily peaceful, tempting and delightful for the children as well as anybody who have been in the maddening cities for sometimes. The cool, light forested corner with gentle flowing mountain stream dashing against pebbles and sand that have barricaded one piece of its bank is indeed a good respite for the juniors and seniors alike. Not likely to impress anybody with descriptions however flowery and imaginative it may be, what excellent way is to take a look at the photos accompanying. I am assured you will be tempted to seek similar corners if possible. I came home with a basketful of polished eroded pebbles fit for the fish aquariums too among other things.

It is fortunate that such corners of serenity are still available

The young brother and his sister having the best time frolicking in the mountain stream. Notice the pebbles strown on the side.

It was not the delightful spot that really struck me so much, but the peripheral activities just close by which invariably I perceived escaped the attention of many including those who came regularly to share the splendor that was there.

Remember Shahnon Ahmad and you will of course linked him to one of his great novels namely ‘Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan’ translated it meant “No Harvest but A Torn” It was to be my close apprehension of Lahuma.

Today perhaps I came face to face with ‘Lahuma’. The elderly person tending to his small plot of land was busy moving around doing the necessaries, aided by his wife and relatives. His plot of hill padi was ready for harvesting and he had to reap them as fast as possible. Already, just as Lahuma had dreaded, the small tiny birds have come in groves, chirping away and their resonance echoed in the quite afternoon sun. Any man would panic. Our man Pak Daud by name was in no rush but tended as calmly as possible.

I quote abstracts from the novel Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan:

Lahuma dijemput menghadapi ILAHI”

“Hidup mesti diteruskan. Tugas Lahuma perlu dipikul oleh Jeha dan anak-anaknya. Mereka tidak harus mati kelaparan, sawah padi perlu menguning. Hujan lebat, banjir besar dan kedatangan ketam serta burung tiak yang menjahanamkan padi perlu ditentang.

Berbekalkan doa dan usaha, mereka tekad – tiada apa yang dapat menghalang perjalanan hidup ini”

I knew Pak Daud was as cautious as possible. He had ascertained the birds ‘burung tiak’ were eliminated as far as possible. But these little creatures can come in squadrons and make light works of the rice stalks. Pak Daud held a pair of the small creatures in his hand, cursing them for continuing to invade his plot although he has taken the necessary steps. So these were the tiny crop destroyers. Just like the grasshoppers, ‘burung tiak’ are just as vociferous. He offered the little creatures if I cared to keep them. They are small. The one he held was the size of Pak Daud’s thumb but in numbers they are disastrous. Still the crabs have not been taken into account yet.

He and his family went about harvesting the crop in the traditional ways and hopefully pray that all would go well. In their moments of exuberance, they ascertained that they would reap a gainful harvest; thankful that they had worked hard. Unlike Lahuma, Pak Daud was still the core member of his family. I looked at him, a man who must have crossed seventy years plus, maybe nearing eighty but still agile, strong and focused at making the best of his toils. No not many would be that exemplary as shown by many hillside plots in the neighborhood left vacant, unattended and overgrown with ‘lalang’ and bushes.

They had built a frail hut on the plot of land, temporarily giving them shelter day or night if necessary. Perhaps the main tarmac road, supply of electricity and closeness to the neighbors and the ‘cherok’ added to give some comfort and security. Lahuma and Jeha of Banggol Derdap in the district of Sik, no more than an hour drive from this village, had no such luxuries forty years ago when Shahnon wrote his novel.

I am thankful that either ordained or by chance I had the opportunity to come across a live situation much discussed by Shahnon Ahmad in his epic novel, read, discussed even crucified at secondary, college and tertiary levels. That it has been made into a film ‘Rice People’ produced in Cambodia in 1994, directed and co-written by Rithy Panh speaks highly of the intrinsic value of the peasants and their livelihood. (The film premiered in the main competition at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival and was submitted to the 67th Academy Award, the first time a Cambodian film had been submitted as a possible nominee for Best Foreign Language Film) See https//

I have read ‘Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan’ before; imagined the hardship and landscape as described by Shahnon but sincerely have not seen its true self. Today I did even though at a neighboring kampong site and thankful for understanding all that are worth. Maybe the children’s thrill and frolicking in the mountain stream put off what would have been a much deeper recollection of time past when hardship knocked on most peoples’ doors irrespective where they were.

3 December 2008

"Lahuma tending to his small plot of 'hill padi' which has taken six months to give him the substance"

Notice the special traditional instrument used to reap the rice stalk. This is the 'ketam padi'
He is a happy man. Thankful that his hard work has given him the wealth of hard toiling and the richness of the earth

Tiny tots but the plague of the farmers especially when they come in squadrons