Monday, August 30, 2010


For all these glory, peace, growth and directions towards a developed country by 2020 we must never forget their sacrifices. They gave their hearts and souls for what we have now. The country's security still rest in their hands. We begin this 53rd year of Merdeka by extending our Al Fatihah to our Muslim brothers and sisters who have gone before us and more so to those whom the nation recognized their lasting contributions where their names are etched at Tugu Negara.

41. " March forth, whether you are light ( being healthy, young and wealthy) or heavy ( being ill, old and poor), and strive hard with your wealth and your lives in the Cause of Allah.This is better for you, if you but know "
Surah 9 Al Taubah

WE may remember 31 August 1957 in our own individual ways. Now that we have reached the 53rd year of its celebration, surely if we were there when it first begun we would have seen multitude of happenings. Certainly we have seen the country's Prime Minister taken office one after the other. Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al Haj, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, Tun Hussein Onn, Tun Mahathir Mohamad, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi each one of them have left their footprints and curved their individual contributions to the country in their own ways. Right now Dato Mohd Najib is on the pathways to make his contributions to the country. His is shrouded with new challenges.

For one, 31st August is a public holiday through out the country, a must declared off day for all by regulation. Parades with celebrations befitting the national day have been repeated year after year. The national celebration for 2010 is an exception being performed indoor for the first time. We have yet to see it tomorrow morning

I would like to record earlier scenes that met me with regards to such celebration. Of course going back through the years would be a worthy effort , more so it would trace the gantlet of celebrations.

Gates are familiar with us. Even our individual homes would likely have a gate for security at least if not for its decorative features. Similarly gates of various sizes, features and materials continue to be part of our national feature. Let me begin with decorative gates or 'pintu gerbang' which allures Malaysian to welcome the early beginnings of Merdeka .

This is a gate at Kirkby Teacher Training College Liverpool built as part of the Merdeka Celebration in 1957. Though photos were in 'black and white then, this taken as a color slide recorded it in color.

This is one of the gate or arches built in Alor Star to celebrate the first Merdeka Day. It was erected on the main road between Titi Gajah and Anak Bukit. Anak Bukit has now become the Royal Town as the royal palace is situated here. Notice the calmness and serenity of the small township then.

Of course, while gates or 'pintu gerbang' appear in the main towns throughout the country, we were often held up at such gates as in the picture during the 'Emergency Years' much as Merdeka was declared earlier. Austin car was the hit for those who could afford

This was built in 1961 when the Yang DiPertuan Agong visited Brunei. It must be told that Tunku Abdul Rahman visited Brunei earlier when Malaysia was at the proposal stage. Being from Kedah where the long boat festival was a yearly affair, Tunku brought one long boat from Kedah with its rowers to participate in a friendly boat race on the Brunei River. The two men walking by the 'pintu gerbang' were part of the team. I was there and so this historic photo.

As with many celebrating features all the gates in the pictures have been pulled down as fast as they were built.


Sunday, August 29, 2010


ABOVE are three pictures of the KRIS but in reality it is only of one with different shots of it. One shows its original state before enhancement by a skilled silversmith with added metal designs to the nose of the 'hulu', 'dongkok' and the 'sheath". The kris is a beautiful piece of art and yet it can be a menacing implement. A century or less ago it is the proud possession of the Malays. It adorns their everyday dress, the masculines especially in as much as the hand phones have become part of their uniform now.

Truly we have forgotten many things. The 'kris' and all its unique qualities with the skills of its craftsmanship are pushed aside except treasured by collectors. Its symbolic representation too goes with it. So too many others.

Now we start to impel on the course of history, retracing why our own Malaysian past have been ignored and almost unknown. Historians especially now debate our mistakes and more so our folly for representing science and technology as crucial to our part of education. Maybe they are but to push Malaysian culture and history to the wayside has become detrimental to our survival. Challenges are heard now. Questions of various kinds that hurt and impede unity and growth show their ugly heads. Understanding culture and history through visits and tours to places, monuments, museums etc or by readings can only give a sketchy view. Those educated in the early years before and after 1957 understand their history just as they know the lines on their own palms. So too they adore their geography. They can close their eyes and while on a train or bus journey either from the north or south of the peninsula repeat the names of towns all along the way. They would take you through the years from 1511 to 1957 without a halt, furnishing you with interesting anecdotes.

Now who would know what comes next after Behrang or Simpang Renggam. Many would be attending to their handphones instead.

Today, I view a program on the TV distilling the episodes of the war, its cruelty, challenges, MPAJA, Malayan Union opposition and the path to Merdeka. It is a good recapitulation to those who lived through it or those who understood it. But to many in the country, it is viewed as an everyday drama that comes quite regularly on the idiot box. No way, can it alter the concept of the present generation. Before history was a factor in the school curriculum. So too is geography. Now? Universities had programs in Asian history and Civilization. Not now. So where do we go wrong? For one thing we are confronted by questions that challenges even the roots of our constitution.

Friday, August 27, 2010


The last touches to the dame. Indeed it is great to see the old home standing majestically again in all its finery and may it continue to chart its new history.

IT WAS GETTING TOO CONGESTED, with no fresh air and breeze to cool the wooden house. It has been in the city for several decades now and rightly we have found a quiet and peaceful place for the old home, what more it being beside the Anak Bukit River in the Kepala Batas area. Now it will once again enjoy the pristine atmosphere
of the country side with the added advantage of being cooled by the river, the bamboo and greenery surround.

At 11 years old you could see the carpenters constructing the house with artistry and skills of craftsmen yet they were helped by the barest of rudimentary tools and assisted more by physical strength and skills. Pak Mid, a former prison personnel and his team-mates were employed to construct the house. My father in his wisdom had decided on replacing the old home which had stood on the site with the new home as early as in 1948. Daily upon reaching home from school I would climb the ladder to get to the top and remember enjoying the views as even the Zahir Mosque and the Clock Tower could be seen from our home,

Now sixty plus years later, I am still able to roam in the open spaces of the house as the contractor went about rebuilding the house again. As I have described in earlier blogs, we moved the house after dismantling it piece by piece and later rebuilt it, of course substituting some of the wooden pieces with new ones. Since hard wood the likes of Chengal, Merbau, Tembusu and other quality woods were used, the replacement was quite minimum. Yet of course the rewards to the skilled craftsmen exceeded previous allowances. Still they have done a wonderful job and completed the exercise within five months. Besides waiting for electricity to be connected and cleaning done, probably we could move in before Hari Raya Aidilfitri. It has been a labour of love by all and a good exercise in rebuilding a heritage home.

A detailed description of the home will follow later as we take you to see the intricate detailed sections of the house. In the meantime please enjoy the pictures as much as we had the golden opportunity to see and observe how a Malay heritage home was born again. Surely it would be hard to expect a similar building of its size in present time.

The old timber lattice stood again where it was.

The open veranda welcomes guests and visitors and bamboo clumps by the river side.

The house as seen from the rear. An open veranda has been added and so too a small out-house by the side.The rambutan and mangosteen trees by the side of the house incidentally helped to make the workers happy as their fruits were a welcomed additions.

My architect wife designed and provided the sketches to the contractor. This being part of the instructions for the construction of the small hut by the side.

Sectional parts of the house as seen while in construction before the painter moved in. Wide open windows provide cooling breeze.

The small lane moving through the bamboo clumps takes you to the main road .

The river banks, by the side of the lane right in front of the house.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


NOW THAT WOULD BE PUZZLING. however it sounds familiar.It's in German, the original yet when translated every one would say " Oh I know it". Surely since it's none other than " BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER"

The Malay translation may take many forms and shades but suffice if it also mean "Kalau Getah Meleleh, Kalau Daun Melayang" .The subject seems to browse on the family's attitude, closeness, concern and in all probability when it falls to the last straw, It would be the kins who would be offering their helping hands, showing their concerns where necessary. Therefore Islam enjoins upon its believers to believe in the faith and offer prayers for the well being of those around and lend their helping hands when necessary. Close and deep rooted friends and acquaintances may necessarily be as brothers or sisters but the certainty would be more leaning towards one's blood linkages.

I am not touching or harping on the question of getting assistance or help here but rather on the urge to trace and be acquainted with the family tree. Now how many would stop albeit care to be linked to his or her family tree.? Even to start guessing itself may be the last game they would play. Malays in Malaysia, including those in the land below the wind ( Sabah) as well as Sarawak, Brunei , Singapore and Indonesia may hail from many other regions. Of course discourses, family trees help to tract down ancestors. Therefore it is with great admiration that I salute three visitors who came to our home recently. They were from Banjarmasin Indonesia. Actually they have been in Kedah for sometimes but occupied with their studies as post graduate students at UUM.

Now people at Kampong Titi Gajah Alor Setar at least the elders are rather familiar with a famous religious personality of the late 19th and early 20th century who hailed from here. In fact the local mosque bears his name - Masjid Tuan Hussein. Tuan Hussein bin Mohd Nasir bin Mohd Taib Al-Masudi Al Banjari
a 'tokoh ulama' of the old school , founder of a religious 'pondok' at Titi Gajah and several others traveled all over the country and even outside to spread Islamic teaching. Born of Banjari heritage in 1863 at Titi Gajah, he died at the age of 75 in 1935 and was buried at his birth place . It is recognized that his parentage were from Kelampaian, Martapura Banjarmasin.

Our friends from Indonesia actually made a visit to the mosque at Titi Gajah to visit the grave of Tuan Hussein and by stroke of luck were guided to our home. Only then did we know that one of them was asked to get in contact with the descendants of the Tok Guru residing here. The request of his grandfather at Banjarmasin was successfully executed by Saudara Ahmad Syadzali from 'Fakultus Ushuluddin (Kompleks Iain Antasari) Banjarmasin Indonesia. The linkage once again gives hope for the familes here at Titi Gajah to know more of the people on the other side of the South China Sea. If before Banjarmasin was a name linked with the Tok Guru now it has greater depth and substance. For sure it shows the continuance of blood relationship and the search justifies the end.

The city of Banjarmasin is connected via Jakarta and a flight from Kuala Lumpur would certainly takes us there in no less than three hours. We look forward to meeting our kins on that side of the border and learn more of the Banjaris.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Alhamdullilah kesempatan diberi kepada mereka untuk
bersama di hari yang baik ini

IT has always been 8 days to that historic day since 1957. I am always reminded of that closeness whenever today's date return each year. This is my best of days, historic and lovingly adored by those who care. How do we keep track of each returning year? How do we remember particularly what transpired that very day or days surrounding that special day?

Looking back for the past five years or so may help but what about scores of years behind. Where and what were you doing back in 1957 when Malaya heard the deafening shout of 'Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!'?
Unless you are always in earnest, strict to the point of being meticulous and in short a habitual diary person you would be able to supply bits of stories linking one year after another. Many of us would be grasping for breath to even come up with anecdotes of what transpired a year ago.

I would be able to define where I was on 31 August 1957 since I left a note on a Youth Hostel Card, still intact. I was on a Dutch dike site some where in Holland and spending a night at the hostel having reached the place on a motor scooter.

I am therefore reminded to record some if not all, the attractions that come with this Monday morning 23 August 2010. Local as well as foreign news would help to define the auspicious day. Still the good wishes by the wife, children and grand children while sharing a chocolate cake after the breaking of fast this Ramadan evening defined the necessity.

A look at the morning news via the internet, since it is too early to get the printed pages of the newspaper recorded the following:-

i. A van Gogh piece stolen from a museum in Kaherah ( Cairo) has yet to be found. It is valued at US $60 million

ii. " Jangan biarkan orang Melayu 'gila' - a leader in Utusan Malaysia's page. It
recalled some of the current unhappy situation and one particular where the 'khatib' in Penang praised the disallowed to the point of being an action accorded 'haram' .

iii. Jakim and 'Halal' certificates come into the news. Perhaps that's a reason why there are not many adverts in the newspaper this year of hotels and restaurants in Kuala Lumpur especially luring Muslims and friends to break fast at their 'sumptuous' spread. What better to 'buka puasa' in the comforts of your own home with the 'sejadah' ready at your side when the times come.

iv. The Australian ballot saw " Pilihan Raya Tidak Menentu" The result saw independent candidates being wooed to join in by both sides to form the government. What if the magnificent 5 decide to stay where they are?

v. Flood situation in China has been reported since June 2010 and now River Yala at the border of China and North Korea caused 100,000 to be evacuated. Pakistan and Bangladesh too are affected by flood waters. Jogjakarta was rocked by an earthquake too.

The above should be definitive pointers to what transpired or reported in the early morning of today. A definite exercise to remember my yearly 'celebration' is to purchase a book and define in the inside cover some pointers. One it pointed to my choice of title or subject and another it disclosed where I was then.

Maybe this is a good day to glance at the previous collections.
What goes with August 2009? KELEBIHAN AMALAN DI BULAN REJAB, SYAABAN DAN RAMADAN translated by Nabilah Abd Jalil, Al Hidayah Publication KL 23/08/2009

For 2010 there is THROUGH MY LENSES by Mahathir Mohamad MPH Printing (M) Sdn Bhd 05/08/2010

2008 saw TRADITIONAL MALAYSIAN JEWELLERY by Mohd Kassim Hj Ali ,Utusan Publications & Distributors Sdn Bhd KL as a collection piece and in 2005 THE KRIS AND OTHER MALAY WEAPONS by A H Hill and others, published by MBRAS took to the mantle piece. ' MALAY SOCIETY Transformation & Democratisation by Khoo Kay Kim published by Pelandok Paperback was my reading list for 30/08/1992. together with METAPHORS an ANNOTED DICTIONARY by N E Renton published by Schwartz & Wilkinson.

I may not keep a diary but reading the opening pages of the books purchased all through the years since the first Merdeka days and earlier be at home or where ever I happened to be that year would help to rekindle some past stories or happenings since invariably notes are scribbled on their opening pages.

Each has its way. This is MY WAY. Syukur Allah for all the good healthy years.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


WE may remember that once we were advised that should we forget to remember things then we may tie a knot on our finger to make us remember what we were told to do. Then if you were asked to go the grocery shop you would not forget the various items your mother had listed. Imagine sending a male to the shop to buy the necessaries for the kitchen. Still who else? Of course not the elephant though it is known to have excellent memories.

Then I caught sight of this great loop or vine somewhere on the island of Langkawi. Imagine if this giant loop is tied around us and then maybe we will not forget anything and remember all.

Well it somehow give me a purpose to recollect many things as well. The picture of a Hollywood film star popular in the early fifty's may make us realize how as boys we collect cinema programs and pictures of starlets such as Terry Moore. Mind you, now such postcards are in great demand and do not cost 10/20 cents as they did then. You make expect to be rewarded 50 or 100 times its original cost. Sadly I don't have many left in my old drawers.Like many others we discarded them or others of similar circumstances without realizing their values.


The electric train that now brings you from Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur takes only TWO hours and landing at Seremban station will only add another hour. So mind you the often familiar calling " Ipoh Mali" will re echo once more in a lighter vain. Now I have yet to see whether the same 'kayu' are used as sleepers for the track knowing that many has been taken off. Some being at the front of our ancient home.

Not really the last, even this young sister is fondly caring and loving her youngest brother. During Ramadhan especially all should give a moment or a lasting time to remember our elders for all the comforts and blessings they have given us.Mind you without their helps our present knots would not have been tied too. So do what you should do and don't wait for AidilFitri'. We forget. Ya bukan sahaja Melayu cepat lupa. Sebenarnya ramai yang suka lupa.

Being a wolf cub in my early school day I learn to tie many knots.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


RETIREMENT 'is one thing and why is 'TRANSFORMATION' implicated?

On 3 August 2010 we attended a seminar with the theme 'Retirement Transformation'. It is quite an eye opener especially for me a retiree who lapped into the 'third age' without any thought of earlier planning but jumped into the cauldron and survived. The one day seminar held at Sime Darby Convention Centre Kuala Lumpur attracted a good share of participants with international speakers from Japan, Australia and India adding their views and opinions regarding current growth and development of the subject matter. Now it has come to a point that one has to look at new approaches and tendencies but surely a relook at many aspects of the present retirement processes first. Retirement conditions and facilities are at a new gear and therefore a relook is necessary; therefore the 'transformation' gearing towards the immediate future.

One would immediately identify the program as attractive and conducive to financial planners, insurance people, developers etc but the attendees at the seminar included a spectrum of people from all disciplines and it helped to a large extent put a new perspective and look at our approaches to planning for a happier lifestyle after crossing the 'retirement' age. Yet it is now established there are now no such retirement age for many countries in the world. Singapore for one has identified that. Malaysia's goal at 55 has now been moved forward extending a year and later two more golden years. Only a day earlier to the seminar the Sultan of Perak as Chancellor to University Malaya voiced that academicians get extensions to their retirement age, granting that they mature as they moved along. Don't others do too?

The seminar identified key problems, various perspectives on the subject, tendencies towards our ageing society and the needs for building of retired homes or villages. Malaysia especially with its religious, cultural and historic tendencies or perspectives requires a much greater challenge to meet the correct solution.

The lucky us who have worked or are still in the public services have promises of the pension scheme to look after us after retirement. Especially with any rise of public service salary we are equally affected; getting increment where necessary. With spouses in the same sector they too reap benefits. With the government paying out pensions to widowers, husbands see better perspectives in their children upbringing etc. Free medical benefits are provided for too. Then again the public sector people, is a small portion of the populace. Others hope their EPF and Socso contributions will support them after retirement. How far their savings or contributions can meet their retirement needs is certainly a large issue. With Malaysia's life-long age extending to 75 year now, can their contributions take care of them for the next 20 - 30 years? Such burning question make the participants wake up to reality. Alas those who should be made aware of the consequences are not around. Still more perplexing are the self employed who have no such contributions to look to but their sheer determination and control in managing their lifestyles and financial management.

That brings to personal financial management which is sadly not in our current school curriculum. One may therefore distinguish a person who lives with a purpose and one who leads a lifestyle? The former is an epitome of goodliness and a perfect financial planner who obviously can retire and enjoy life, do what he likes. Whereas the latter is a wizard at spending money and in the end does not know how to retire and obviously will be in the doldrums for many years.

What do I get at attending such seminar? Securing greater knowledge is one but certainly it is an adage to live-long learning, never stopping to learn. Next it helps in net-working. Being at Anak Arshad Architect it pushes us to look at planning retirement homes for the upcoming trends.

Do you by any way see a move towards 'transformation' in the aspects of your current gearing towards 'retirement' or hopefully you are not one of several who are likely to adopt an 'RTM' (Rehat Tunggu Mati) trust, satisfied with their commitments of the last twenty five years or so in the public service and therefore halts or put a stop to everything? Mind you we are never alone and we have responsibilities and it is sad or sorrowful to halt your existence by surrendering and ceasing to do the necessary while still breathing.