Monday, September 27, 2010


Rukun Negara Fountain as it stands in its last few weeks at the old crossroads in TelukWanjah before it makes way for a fly over that also goes over the railway crossing adjacent to it.

Continuity and change do not mean disappearance. Not especially for the Rukun Negara Fountain which had stood at the confluence of roads at Teluk Wanjah for over 40 years. Alor Setar will soon see a landmark disappear to make way for greater accessibility for motor vehicles as a fly-over takes precedence at a cross-road that cannot take the heavy traffic that chokes the city as well as a railway crossing barely 100 meters from it. Much as Jalan Teluk WanJah will get a face lift, so too the Rukun Negara Fountain will find a new home.

Built to commemorate the ascendancy of Tunku Abdul Halim, the Sultan of Kedah as the Yang DiPertuan Agong of Malaysia in 1970, it took its place at the crossroad of Jalan Teluk WanJah, Jalan Sultan Badlishah and Jalan Stadium. Back then, the round-about would not cause traffic congestion or would never need traffic policemen on duty at specific hours. It's another story now. All these have come about indirectly with the construction of double railway tracking beginning from Ipoh Perak to Padang Besar Perlis. causing a multiplying effects.

At the date of writing, construction works of flyovers at other sections of town have begun, This one at Jalan Teluk Wanjah and over the existing Rukun Negara Fountain has yet to begin at full steam when the fountain is pulled down. Yet its replacement has been built. The Rukun Negara symbolic monument with its highpoint declaring Malaysia's national philosophy / ideology was created out of the historic May 13 incident which rocked the country. The five symbolic principles which we adopted and promised to adhere to become guiding principles. Now at a time when tidbits of uneasiness seems to shake the roots of our unity and cohesion Rukun Negara needs exertion and 1 Malaysia maybe comes as an added leverage.

Whatever it is Kedah and Alor Setar especially has gained a new landmark far from its old maddening position but twelve kilometers to the north and fronting Sultan Abdul Halim Airport at Titi Gajah. Highlights of testings recently would certainly see crowd halting here either on their way to the airport or taking a quiet evening drive to see it in a new splendour amidst the green or yellow padifields depending on season with vast open spaces and occasionally musically droned by the music of the training aeroplanes of the Royal Air force Training School.

Welcome and see several night shots taken at the new site.

The white light at the top right hand corner adjacent to the crown shows the moving single engine plane flying by.

With a longer time lapse given you notice the stretching light of the plane. Of course the color lights of the fountain added dimensions to the new site.

The consultants together with the technicians, the electricians and the contractors have naturally given their best to make the new landmark a sight to behold and respecting the original objectives of the Rukun Negara Fountain

Two photos showing its early construction at site.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Our annual festival when hordes of people 'balik kampong' are never short of griefs as accidents take their roll. SYAWAL 1431 / SEPTEMBER 2010 seems an epic month for sensational news as it record accidents on the road plus the 'burning' sensations in the country and outside. The small township of 'BANTING' in Selangor captures world attention. So too in Jakarta, New York and Sydney when the 'burning sensations' took precedence where ' the Flag' and the holy 'Koran" became victims. Alas at the township of Banting, less than an hour from Putrajaya, the loss and death of four persons at one instant in the most tragic way will be the talk of the town and that of the country for a long time. Soon when the court sits, the whole will be exposed much to the shock and wonder of many. Who would believe such sordid affair can occur in our country?

Going through some old books a few days ago, I came across several quotations that speak of 'fire'. These and that of William Blake leaves a lingering question.

" What is to give light must endure burning" ( Victor Frank)

" When the heart is afire, some sparks will fly out of the mouth" (Thomas Fuller)

" How can we extinguish a fire if we don't first cut off the fuel that ignited the inferno?" (Arun Ghandhi)

" Whenever books are burned, sooner or later men also are burned" ( Heinrich Heine)

" A thought often makes us hotter than a fire" ( Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

"I am glad I don't have to explain to a man from Mars why each day I set fire to dozens of little pieces of paper, and then put them in my mouth" ( Mignon Mc Laughlin)

" The difference between a violin and a viola is that a viola burns longer" ( Victor Borge)

" There are worse crime than burning books. One of them is not reading them" (Ray Bradbury)

William Blake


Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forests of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps of skies
Burnt the fire in thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? What the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did He smile his work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
Dare its deadly terror clasp?

William Blake ( Nov 28, 1757 -Aug 12, 1827) English poet, painter, print maker.

( I equate the above poem to the tragedy that happened in Banting, realizing that humanity in all glory still have marauders who stalk around as animals: heedless to what Blake meant)

Monday, September 6, 2010


1. Sesungguhnya Kami telah menurunkannya
(Al Quran) pada malam kemuliaan
2 Dan tahulah kamu apakah kemuliaan itu?

3. Malam kemuliaan itu baik dari seribu bulan.
4. Pada malam itu turun malaikat-malaikat dan malaikat Jibril dengan izin Tuhannya untuk mengatur segala urusan
5. Malam itu penuh (dengan) kesejahteraan sampai terbit fajar

Surah Al Qadar, brief yet when read and heard it conjures thoughts and memories associated with Ramadhan. Especially the last few nights of the 'Nights of Decree'. The Night of Al Qadar ( Decree) is better than a thousand months (i.e worshiping Allah in that night is better than worshiping Him a thousand months i.e 83 years and 4 months). Especially it reminds the faithful the ending of Ramadhan and they would have to wait for another year to see it again. It would be a long wait for not knowing whether they would be around the next time it comes along. Ramadhan always invokes many happy and worthy experiences. For one, it is the Muslim 'fasting' month and one especially when Muslims observe their obligations in no uncertain terms. Even children as young as five would want to 'fast' alongside their parents, experiencing the gifts and other duties that have to be performed. When the community together practiced their religious duties, then the tendencies it would be exemplary for many to follow. Thus the mosques and 'surau' are packed with worshipers or 'jemaah' during the night who attend their Ishak and 'tarawith' prayer during the whole month. No other month in the year would ever see such attendance. The recitation of the verses from the holy Koran echoes even after the last jemaah leave the mosque or 'surau'.

Over the years, ( tak kurang jumlahnya) surely there would be many reminiscence of the puasa months; one with its own definitions, styles and commitments. Puasa when we were still in the beginning primary school, later on reaching puberty and then in marriage enclosure all has its own definitions and memories. One would of course never forget, going on errand to buy ice blocks at the roadside stall when refrigerators were unheard of. Ice blocks covered with sawdust or rice husks clammed to the bicycle's carrier arrived home at a reduce size. Naturally as we have cycled a fair distance and the hot weather added its damage too. Knocking the ice block into small pieces would be another duty. Then no fresh coconut or sugarcane drink as you would have to climb the tree yourself and scout for the sugar cane plant if you so desire. How fast and easy to get such luxury now. Alarm clock was not generally available. Certainly no hand phone with all its accessories. Instead a 'tok-tok' man would be moving around the home to wake you up for the 'shahur' . Time for breaking fast was announced by the loud blast of the cannon fired by members of the security force. Its deafening sound vibrates throughout Alor Setar town. Yes those were the early memories of Ramadhan in our younger years. I am sure colleagues will add their stories to this throwback into the past.

Ramadhan sees also contributions to the less fortunate and this year especially it is the turn of orphanage homes to get their dues. Iftar , the religious observation of Ramadhan when people gathered to break fast together at dusk, saw orphanage being given VIP treatment. Mosques distribute 'kanji' or special broth for Muslims to break their fast. One mosque at Kampong Baru Kuala Lumpur is especially known for its quality 'kanji' and surely no end to takers who await its distribution every evening.

Experience of Iftar at Mekkah or Madinah would make pilgrims long to return given the opportunity. Here it is enough to break fast with a few dates and a hot cup of tea blended with ginger. No arrays of servings especially prepared or bought at bazaar Ramadhan to tempt you. The focus is on religious duties. As we celebrate the 53rd year of Merdeka this year, national parade at Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur was replaced with an indoor show at Bukit Kiara. Meantime at many places colored buntings and flags continue to add color to the forthcoming Aidil Fitri celebration. At Iftar, Muslim in Malaysia break the fast or 'berbuka puasa'; Indonesian 'buka puasa' and our Brunei neighbors termed it 'sungkai'. With cakes galore in the street and stalls offering dishes of all kind at the Ramadhan bazaar, one is tempted to break fast with mouth watering dishes. Alas how much can you eat? Still it can be an educational tour visiting the bazaar and picking out various names of dishes either traditional or modern. It can be observed that the bazaar attracts now not only the Muslim but the other races too who obviously cannot resist the offerings at good price too. During the last weekend we had the opportunity to travel to Putrajaya and return. On the outward journey we stopped for Iftar at Juru and on the return trip at Bukit Gantang. The latter is an exceptional halting center with all manner of fruits being sold there. Not often you get the chance to sit at the garden counter and break fast in a colorful atmosphere.

Berbekal dengan minuman dan hidangan yang dibawa bersama kami menikmati iftar di perhentian Bukit Gantang pada Ahad 5 September 2010. Kebetulan bendera negeri tertkibar di sana pula.

Waktu menunjukkan 8.47 malam. Semua yang berhenti di Nasi Kandar Pelita telah berbuka puasa; masing-masing dengan pesanan tersendiri. Apa pun syarikat Nasi Kandar tersebut menyediakan kurma dan pisang untuk pelanggan mereka. Berbuka semasa dalam perjalanan di Juru Pulau Pinang, juga terletak di tepi Lebuhraya menunjukkan kaum lain turut sama menanti waktu dan kesempatan diambil untuk bersama dengan rakan-rakan Islam mereka atau staf dari Jabatan yang sama sempena Ramadhan. Singgah di sini semasa ke Kuala Lumpur.

Roti Nan, Teh Tarik, Pisang dan Tembikai antara hidangan yang dipilih

Wah! Ini lain pula. Bazaar Ramadhan di sini banyak menyediakan hidangan yang istimewa. Gulai Kawah yang panas tentu memikat hati siapa saja yang lalu di sini.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


14. " Dan Kami perintahkan kepada manusia (berbuat baik) kepada dua orang ibu-bapanya; ibunya telah mengandungnya dalam keadaan lemah yang bertambah-tambah, dan menyapihnya dalam dua tahun. Bersyukurlah kepada-Ku dan kepada dua orang ibu bapakmu, hanya kepada Kulah kembalimu"


The home continues to take shape as we have wished. The exterior caught our sight much earlier. The interior with its exacting finishes labors on and once completed will provide the home as we would have wanted. It is our home and not just a house and more than anything else it rekindles all the past glories and more so of times when both our parents were the masters and our little feet thunders on the wooden floors as we run around in its voluminous space. It is a fait accompli that one has to rebuild the home otherwise it just vanish with neglect and time. The whitish floor finish looked accomodating but it stood for a day only. The next morning it took a dark rich red color. The space as one would imagine would allow a congregation of a hundred to fill the space when we will use the home for the first time again.

The large wooden doors are originals, even the door knock and the locks hasten us back to times when we used them to enter or leave the home. Not to mention all the windows with double shutters and hooks and the floorings with its sizeable tonques and grooves wooden planks.

The lady architect and planner surely enjoys her fruits of labor.

Parts of the interior fittings, a minimum sufficient to take several volume of books, momentos and a service counter for hot cups of coffee when you are here.

The door is already wide opened . Stepping onto the veranda you would take the staircase to enter the home.

The suspended ceiling with its slanted wooden sidings give a harmonious look with a right glow when the lights are on .

For a labour of love one would forgive the superfluous redemptions. An appreciation of skills at building old Malay homes has to be discovered.

Conservation of 'The Malay Home That Ayah Built' by Anak Arshad Architect 604-7345196 Fax 604 7345197