Thursday, April 26, 2012


A learning experience  certainly comes in many forms. For sure it continues to educate us , realizing many. shortfalls. Only yesterday I was in a coffee house , but sipping tea instead and paying RM 10.00 for a cup. I deserved it as I was in an 'established' coffee hut one of many in the world. I am sure all are familiar with Starbucks and I was in one of its many branches all over the world. This is not about advertising the coffee bean but about knowledge you picked up in an unexpected places. Then only I realized that there are 17,003 Starbuck branches all over the world as of October 2  2011. Mind you India and Myanmar do not appear in the list.  Interesting. Whatever it is that total figure to date is extraordinary and a good lesson as a start if you propose to start a business, whatever it is; a most successful way of establishing a business.

For a cup of coffee or tea at any 'warong' or coffee shop you would only dipped into your pocket for a small sum of RM 1.40. Now why would you walk into one which only multiply the rate?  Several excuses maybe - an easy parking bay for one, a quiet resting corner and more rightly a connection since you are outside your base. You will get connection at such a place. Meaning of course a link for your laptop to electricity and the internet. So you may see customers enjoying their 'refreshments' in the comforts of their choice. Here I was at Tanjung Pulau Pinang, sitting at a side table and next to a group of youth attending a session. Initially I thought it was the manager briefing his staff  for the day's business but it turned out otherwise. A new group of Starbucks crews were being introduced into the business and I was at the hearing distance to listen and pick some interesting dossiers.

While casually reading the morning newspaper and making notes in my laptop, I must say I picked up several interesting points from the group's discussion. Simply why many restaurants and cafes failed to make good!

Firstly Starbucks educate their crews; instilling in them the know how of coffee beans, taste of various coffee beans, customer and staff relationship, the crews behaviour in the coffee house, customers likes and dislikes and observing correct etiquette. I realized it was a big order for the new youthful crew members but good examples are around them at the existing chain. So they would learn fast. Educating them is the correct forte.

Believe me, I would have to pay to get such disclosure, Then again I was at the right place and at the right time.  I believed I had never stayed that long in a coffee house over a cup of tea, and it was all worth the bill. Besides I managed to pull aside the instructor or core leader and congratulate him for his briefing and apologizing for over hearing. He was surprised yet thankful and requesting me to contact him for a cup of coffee whenever I am in Tanjung again. Starbucks recognized 'lucky' customers for the day by their own means. That day I was the lucky customer unknown to them.

If and when we open our own restaurant business, the initial introduction from a casual sitting for a cup of tea would surely be the guiding principles. That may be soon too. It was a wonderful day.  

 There they were , no more than two meters away from where I was sitting( Be sure your camera is powered and ready for snapshots like this)

The coffee house . one of the 17,002 outlets in the world

Below the recent update to the Starbucks logo. The 'Siren' from a Greek mythology and 'Starbucks' came from Herman Melville's Moby Dick

How we raved about 'coffee' as marketed by Starbucks, yet just look at the Malaysian Coffee beans of all types and the 'Tea' too. Except for display in the sachets and hung on cardboard display cards and some TV programs, there is no power advertisement. Walk into a Malaysian Coffee House, there is no push for us to try any special brand. Sufficient that the order comes as '1 teh O' or 'Teh Tarik' and 'Kopi Kampong'. or  '1 cawan Nescafe'. Yes there is where we lost in customer liking and choice. No sale gimmicks.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Two pictures recorded recently. I was intrigued  by its deco and arrangement. No wonder it is an entity of its own since 1 August 1992  when it broke away from Kuala Lumpur General Hospital. You may not have been a patient here but probably you have been on a visit here to see its patients. Undoubtedly many Malaysians and foreigners have visited IJN. Yes this is a foyer of Institute Jantung Negara at Jalan Tun Abdul Razak.  It represents a 5 Star Hotel establishment offering facilities you would expect at such a centre.  The new annex sees visitors enjoying the comforts of the centre while they wait for the visiting hours or when themselves consulting the institute as patients.

IJN is recorded as committed to deliver advanced standard in cardiovascular and thoracic medicine.It is truly a premier heart centre. Surely it has done a yeoman service saving lives.


  • Not often you get the chance to attend a 'Foundation Day' since it seldom comes around and if it does you may not be around or ever get an invitation. So on Sunday 15 April 2012 it was a golden opportunity to be invited to one. It was at the Universiti Utara Malaysia Campus. in Sintok .The University was celebration its  anniversary. Started in 1983, with an instruction to get the university rolling within SIX months from the go ahead sign, the 6th University saw its first intake of 265 students in April 1984 at its initial (temporary campus) at Tanah Merah near Jitra. ( Then there were only Universiti Malaya, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Universiti Sains and Universiti Teknologi Mara). Kedah got its tertiary campus then ahead of other states in Malaysia excepting Penang, Selangor and Johore.  Now functioning at its main campus in Sintok near the Malaysia Thai border it boasts an enrollment of 30,000 + students , undergraduates and post graduates in various management disciplines.  A university campus with its extensive planning and development necessarily bring about greater opening for the area and the community. This has been proved at all the localities where tertiary institutions have taken roots.

Being a member of the original task force that started the project and later a member of the University administrative staff for the initial ten years, it was a memorable come home and to see the growth and development. It was also appropriate that the main guest for the occasion was the task-master who proposed and mastered the planning of the university itself i.e the then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. 

The university with its infrastructures and innovations would easily put up a fine program and that day it rises to the occasion. 

The golden opportunity to start a university from its initial,  devoid of anything but only the direction to begin one is an opportunity that comes only once. Being there then to take the task with Almarhum Dato Hamid Ayob who was the the Director of Education Kedah was a reward indeed opening the Pandora box of magics. 

The  grand ceremony of the Foundation Day  to remember the past 28 years of the University's expansion is observed with the invitation to its 'founder' to give a lecture and undoubtedly expressed his gladness to see its growth in all directions. Indeed we thanked all that have initially contributed to its early beginning and continued growth.    

    The guest of honour takes the salute at the foyer of the Dewan Muadzam Shah

We continue to learn. As mush as it is a normal scene when the guest walks to the seat, here we notice the courtesy and care given by a lady to another. She held her hands in support as the security officer too follows.

 The large attendance of guests, staff and students added to the atmosphere and UUM had the grand hall since its initial beginning, including all the other infrastructures. 

                     Performance by the students highlights the presentations

No you don' strain your eyesight and neither your ears since technologies make seeing and hearing easier and clearer. On occasion like this we observe the good and dismissing the bad if any.

 It was good to meet former staff members who are still in service. With the age extension those who would have been pensioned are still in office. Yes on such a visit you do remember the other colleagues who have been there but unfortunately not around anymore.

But more significantly the opportunity to welcome my former teacher / lecturer and his wife at our home the following day was the highlight of the week. Dato Baharuddin Marji was also an alumni of Kirkby College Liverpool and later returned to the College to become its Malay lecturer. Their official visit to Perlis to officiate in the 'Hafaz al Quran' function, gave us the opportunity to receive them as our guest. Dato Baharuddin' s service to the community and the alumni at his golden years is a source of pride and exemplary.

Our guests with our 'alumni' members who made the trip to Brunei in September 2011

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Installation, Tsunami Alert and Benign

Since last Tuesday 11 April 2012, many things have come our way. The above topic may alert one to the activities that transpired in Malaysia. The  'Installation' refers to official and ceremonial appointment of the 14th Yang Di Pertuan Agong, a historic occasion being that the Sultan of Kedah Tuanku Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah takes office for the second time.

In the evening as the people took a restful day they were suddenly jolted by a tremor that occurred  west of Acheh with a significant 8.9 magnitude followed by a tsunami  alert. It was a blessing that much sooner the alert was discontinued.

Now I come to the last quoted word ' benign'. Both Prime Ministers of Malaysia and  Britain agreed to express the shortcomings between Britain and Malaysia for the last twenty years as being a 'benign neglect'. David Cameron's visit coming after two years after his entry into 10 Downing Street , saw Britain's PM entry into Malaysia after a lapse of twenty years. That too recognizing both are members of the Commonwealth. Now what is 'benign neglect'? or as translated in 'Utusan Malaysia' as ' kerjasama yang terabai'. When two world leaders come out with such a word, it stuck and become a historical byword reflecting the advances if any that would see a fresh start or a major breakthrough. 

Reference gives the following explanation :-
 benign' an adjective; 'benign neglect' a noun meaning " an attitude or policy of noninterference or neglect of a situation which may have a more beneficial affect than assuming responsibility"; well-intentional neglect.   

Malaysia and Britain have existed with decades of attachment between one another. It leaves me attached to the word expressed expecting what the the executives in power would execute in the years to come and more so with the beginning of  a new Yang DiPertuan Agong at Istana Negara and soon enough the coming general election.  

Was there after all ' a benign neglect' ? Truly an academic exercise for historians in the soon future! 


Wednesday, April 4, 2012



The two towns, close to our Malaysian border, frequented by tourists, visitors and families  especially from Malaysia continue to sit on a hot bed as long as the trouble southern states of Thailand see no end to its conflicts. It has gone on for decades now, with no clear signs for settlement. Was it an April Fool misdeed?

That was the greeting we received early Sunday morning as we opened the pages of the morning newspapers. Malaysian visitors in the two towns no doubt never imagined that they would be caught in trouble waters. 

However , I had a more pleasant early morning gesture of surprise and good humour when I discovered the above picture in the media when clicking the net very much earlier in the morning. Ingenuity must have been this  man's strong trait, designing a vehicle of such characteristics and beauty too. 

That seems to take me on a fanciful trip yet realizing how fortunate we are for having the opportunity to move around, record what we observed and sharing them where possible. Many in our age profile would much like to continue to have that opportunity. We are grateful, being still mobile and continuing to see and discover new things.

Pasar Minggu or the 'weekly market' sprouts almost everywhere in the country. Its diversity, colors and spirited endeavour  by the traders especially to do business with a penchant of mobility and nomadic is much to be observed. Even at Putrajaya, the national capital, this market organization held its court in an open courtyard, made more dramatic by being in the shadow of the Treasury Building. Held twice weekly, on Friday and Tuesday it attracted the Putrajaya populace and others in the surrounding area plus tourists who are fortunate to be there. Naturally, tidiness and cleanliness become parts of its characteristics being where it is under good supervisions.

   Yes, it spreads out in the open court yard fronting the Treasury Building, implicating that Pasar Minggu business is as good as any.  27 March 2012

'Satay' what a choice for your evening meal or 'tea break' .Trading begins as early as 3.00 pm and  after 5.00 pm there is a big crowd, not surprisingly the stalls with delicacies pulled in the customers.  

The likes of Pasar Minggu in Kota Bharu, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu , Pasar Minggu Putrajaya can also developed to be a part of the main attractions in Putrajaya.

Not a mosque but 'Istana Kehakiman' or the Court of Justice standing close by. Yet Masjid Besi or Masjid Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin is a walking distance away too.

      You see a camel at the spiral end of a tower. Yes as I caught this picture at the Arab Malaysian Bank Building along Raja Chulan Road Kuala Lumpur 30 March 2012

         Jalan Raja Chulan, where the 'Weld Supermarket' still  does its business here.

       Menara Kuala Lumpur as it stands amongst the foliage that framed its stature.

30 March 2012 . An opportunity to attend a gathering of   'Persatuan Penduduk Super Link Presint 16 Putrajaya'  yang diadakan di Kelab Tasik Putrajaya.  The next day it was the AGM of the Association. Its virtue being in Putrajaya and supported mostly by residents who have retired from services the Association carried out many successful activities uppermost  helping towards good community relationship. 

         President of the Association Dato Hj Salleh Abd Wahid giving away lucky draw prizes. Being recent resident member of Presinct 16, we realized the efforts put in by the committee to make the association a great success. Linking comradeship, helping each other while sponsoring activities at the local mosque/surau top the agenda. We are looking forward for the members to come north to Alor Setar with their 'folding bikes' and therefore enjoy 'a cycle tour' in the padi-field area.

  31 March 2012 made our way to the National Craft Exhibition , Extraordinarily many fine exhibits  or workmanship from the Kelantan and Trengganu were displayed, this large wooden jar being one..

 2 April 2012 Penang. Visiting a home on the island, we discovered several antique collections. This blown glass decorative item being one. We had early last year saw a similar one in Singapore and we are envious of those who possessed this fine item for the very reason we had one of the kind but alas only a fraction of it as several parts are broken and only now discovered its true feature and value.  

Yes these would be antique pieces too, much used in yester- years.A Malay wedding ceremony would not be complete without two bearers carrying these lighted candle containers accompanying the bride and bridegroom as they approached the dais for the 'bersanding ceremony' If you happened to have them, be grateful for you will never get a replacement.    

Traveling up and down the peninsular clocking more than 3000 kilometres within a week make you realized how fortunate you are to enjoy good health, clear eye sights and Allah given energy to endure the journey and yet accomplishing your objectives. We guess  and we know it is a blessing from Allah SWT.