Monday, April 30, 2007

Rubiah The Blogger?

Here is a sincere message to Rubiah --- please start blogging.

As you have already seen, your little comment has drawn so much interest. People have described your writing as so refreshing. Your tale of your the place where you grew up is such a breath of fresh air.
You know, I can imagine you, in all your innocence, with your "tocang" lepas, and the wind blowing in your face as you sit at the edge of the boat.
I have friends talking to me about your life. How cool is that?

So, Rubiah......what will you name your blog?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Parthiban's Their Man

Let's hope Yang Berhormat Cik Gu Parthiban will not disappoint the folks of Ijok. Let's hope all those promises he made to the good people of Ijok will be kept.
"Kata mesti di kota"!
Syabbas, Cik Gu!
And to the vanquished, Khalid Ibrahim of PKR -- don't be sore. There is always another time, another place, perhaps. If you want to serve the people, there is no time-frame.

And Cik Gu -- will you start blogging, as you have told us you would? Are you going to take over the Ijok.Net website? Will you have time, in the first place?

Till then, hope your kabare will always be waras!

(Picture of Cik Gu taken on Tuesday, April 24 2007 at Kedai Kopi King Kuan in Ijok.)

Ijok Wants Parthiban

BN Wins With Higher Majority

re's the Bernama story.

KUALA SELANGOR. -- The Barisan Nasional (BN) continued its winning streak, retaining the semi-urban Ijok state seat with an increased majority of 1,850 votes in Saturday's keenly-fought by-election.
BN's K. Parthiban polled 5,884 votes while Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) received 4,034 votes in the straight fight.
There were 134 spoilt votes.
Returning Officer Haris Kassim announced the results at 8.42pm (on April 28 2007).
The BN had earlier won four by-elections. They are in Kuala Berang (Terengganu), Permatang Pasir (Kelantan), Batu Talam (Pahang) and Machap (Melaka).
In Saturday's by-election, which recorded the highest ever voter turnout in the the country's election history, a total of 10,049 or 81.88 per cent of the 12,272 electorate cast their ballots.
The predominantly Malay seat fell vacant following the death of Datuk K. Sivalingam, 59, of a heart attack in Chennai, India, on April 4.
In the last general election, Sivalingam retained the ethnically-mixed seat with a 1,649-vote majority in a three-cornered fight, beating PKR's Abdol Rahman Moharam and Mohamed Shariff Nagoorkani, an independent.
Ijok, a traditional MIC seat since 1990, is among BN's fortress in Selangor.
This is the second attempt by PKR to wrest the seat from BN, the first being in the last general election in 2004.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Parthiban Or Khalid

BN or PKR?
Tomorrow (Saturday, April 28 2007) the people of Ijok will choose their Wakil Rakyat.
Who will they elect to represent them in the Selangor State Legislative Assembly? To look after their interest and their welfare?
Ijok, nestled between Rawang and Kuala Selangor, is a Malay-majority constituency.
The last Wakil Rakyat (of BN), K Sivalingam, was from the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) which means he was an Indian.
But he won the seat, thanks to the Malay votes.
If you ask the BN leaders to go on record, the late Sivalingam was a friendly, committed and hardworking representative who had the constituents welfare at heart.
According to other people including the Malay constituents, he screwed up big time. He didn't care for the Malays.
All said and done, you cannot deny that the outcome of the by-election depends on which way the Malay votes go.
That is why the BN leaders have been going over their heads to convince the Malay voters to let bygones be bygones, to let's start afresh and support their 39 year-old candidate, K Parthiban, because he is different and will make things happen.
And this time, the BN top guns will make sure that their guy will not screw up.
And that is why PKR has picked a Malay as their candidate. Khalid Ibrahim, or "Tan Sri" as his party workers refer to him, is a former Umno politician. The 61 year-old is a former corporate man and is a millionnaire.
As a Malay millionnaire, he can make a difference to the lives of the people in Ijok. He has been campaigning as "the saviour of the Malays". An Indian will not be able to help the Malays., as had been proven in Ijok.

Ijok is not unfamiliar to me. It is near Kuala Selangor where we have relatives. My father would take us visiting there during Hari Raya or for wedding receptions.
There had been very little change in this largely rustic constituency. But, since campaigning started, Ijok has assumed an overnight change. Lots of BN money is being pumped to give it things that Ijok should have got in the last three years.

I have met Parthiban. I think the BN made the right choice in him. He is a local boy, a youth leader, a former teacher and well-known not only among the Indians but also in the Malay community. He can even speak Javanese. That is endearing.

I have not met Khalid. So I cannot say whether the PKR made the right choice, Someone said the PKR did a wise thing by having a Malay. I don't know about that "wise" bit. PKR did not have a choice, It was the logical thing to do. I also don't know whether they got the right Malay for the job. But my view is not important. It is the views of the people of Ijok that matter. And tomorrow we will find out.

Tomorrow, we will find out what the people of Ijok want. Will they vote for Parthiban or Khalid? Will they vote for BN or PKR?
Will they vote blindly or wisely.

Rubiah's Story

A regular reader of "Tuesdays With Bapak" is Rubiah Ariff. We have developed a kind of closeness. She was the one who asked a lot about my niece, baby Sharmaine. In a comment in the latest TWB, Rubiah alluded to her childhood. I caught a story there. I said that she had a story to tell.
She certainly has. Rubiah sent me a little tale about her life as a young girl in Sarawak and when she furthered her studies in Penang.
She said, perhaps it was not to be published in my blog, because her husband cautioned to not "steal Nuraina's blog".
Hai, suami, suami.
Forgive me, Rubiah. I have to post your story.
Here is Rubiah's story.

"Dear Nuraina, Assalamulaikumsalam.

Our life is simple saja. I was born in Long Lama (Ulu Baram). Pa was from Kedah (kerja polis) and Ma was a local (masuk Islam after kahwin -- umur 14 tahun). Have 2 sisters and 1 brother before myself and another bro and sis after me.

Long Lama is an outpost town (12hrs journey by boat from the nearest outpost-Marudi). At home, life is too simple. One clinic cum post office cum ofis pendaftar. School is just a small room at the back of the gereja (st. Anthony's). A priest comes in daily to teach. We were the only Muslim family there. (Tapi you can find several chapels in/around Baram, pelik, kristian dah sampai, Islam belum). So Pa susah hati, takut jadi kristian. So he packed us off (the older ones)to boarding in Marudi (malays everywhere).

Parents visit 3 bulan sekali (sebab jauh). Biasa lah, I was known as the "airmata" princess. (makan taugey hari2, no taste). Pa goes hunting weekends, payau (deer) and fishing (prawns, fish) nearby. No fresh beef! No peti-ais, no ais-krim. kalau sakit kena travel in a long boat to Marudi. Nasib baik, emak "murah" masa melahirkan we all. But one thing is clear, we are all brother/sisters to everyone back home. The elders are called Apai/Indai, kakak/Abang, Anak/Adik.

Kerja Pa senang, mana ada gaduh2. Semua peaceful folks. later on, SPM over, I studied nursing in Penang. Wah... sedapnya makan2 situ. By then the elder children dah kerja, Pa&Ma dah pandai naik "belon" (flight). They were at my "grad'tion".

I worked as a "reader" at Kindergarten in Penang (waiting for job). Then dapat kerja kat Adventist Hospital. Disitu bertemu jodoh dengan suami (Shariff Osman). Abah dia accident, kita onduty at A&E. Nenek dia yang jodohkan.

Okaylah, dia juga baik, tak banyak cakap. Saya juga budak "ulu".

Pa&Ma suruh terima pinangan (bukan apa, takut terpikat kat anak2 mamak Penang!) tak balik Sarawak!.

Tunang 2 tahun (suami masih belajar o'seas). Kahwin di Penang, suami dapat kerja (kerajaan) dan lepas tu' transfer to Sibu (sarawak).

Dah masuk 4 tahun di Sibu (another small town). Pa dah meninggal (heart attack). Sebelum Pa meninggal, ada beli rumah di Marudi sebab ramai kawan kat situ. Changes don't happen so fast in small towns.

I love going back to Marudi and Ulu Baram. Suami paling seronok mandi sungai, hunting, climbing. Adventure betul. No fear of crocs.

I remember, each time Pa takes us home for school holidays (year end, sebab holiday panjang) I would sit in the long boat, paling depan sekali, lepas my tocang and let my hair "fly with the wind". Kak/abang bising, menjerit "Ikat rambut, nanti botak". Kat sekolah, rambut ditocang 24jam, skearan bebas!

It still is fun! Good old days. But your life is more colourful. Alhamdulillah, kita semuanya selamat dan sihat.

Eventho' I live in Sibu, my family & in-laws selalu in and out juga. Mother in-law paling suka kalau diajak balik ke LongLama. Tak pernah complain apa2. Pandai swimming, tau! Dia pakai seluar sampai kelutut dan t-shirt besar. She forgets herself sometimes, berenang kat tempat dalam2. Bahaya, ada rapids.

Syukurlah. Terima kasih sebab sudi tanya pasal kita. My salam to everyone at home, baby, Bapak & family. Harap2 Nina dah sihat, jangan putus susukan baby, supaya baby cepat besar, sihat dan cantik.

p/s: Tolong jangan publish yang ni kat blog, ya? Suami kata "trying 2 steal Nuraina's blog". Muah Muah

Rubiah Ariff

7:02 AM"

(Note: Picture is of a highland in Sarawak)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Jeff's Case

On Tuesday, April 24 2007 blogger Jeff Ooi successfully withdrew an application to strike out the original claims in a defamation suit filed against him by NSTP & 3 Others, with no order as to costs. This is a similar outcome to Ahirudin Attan's case that was heard on April 2. The date for the hearing of the new striking-out application will be fixed later.

On Tuesday, June 19, 2007, there will be the mention of the inter-parte injunction and the hearing proper of Jeff Ooi's application to consolidate Jeff's and Rocky's case and for it to be heard in KL High Court before Justice Hishamuddin Yunus.

Meanwhile, the ex-parte injunction that resulted in Jeff Ooi having to take down 15 allegedly defamatory postings from Screenshots still stands.

By the way, Jeff's case on Tuesday was heard at the new Jalan Duta Court Complex.

Photos : (bottom) Jeff looking out from the balcony; (top left) the magnificent new court complex and: Jeff with his lawyer, Malik Imtiaz.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tuesdays With Bapak (11)

A Tuesday Tail - April 24 2007
Life was much more settled now that we were allowed to visit Bapak every Tuesday at the Jalan Bandar police station in Kuala Lumpur.
But the uncertainty of Bapak's incarceration never dissipated.
We had no idea how long his detention would be. But for the time being we were simply happy and relieved to be able to see him every week.

With Tuesday being the most important day of the week, the family learnt to revolve their activities around it.

Most things would have to be attended to within the week before each Tuesday.
Any outstation trips, unless absolutely necessary or pressing, would have to be arranged within that period so that none of us would miss the visit.
Tuesdays were precious days which we took great care not to give up for other engagements.
Kak Eda was in college and I had already started work with the NST. Kak Eda and I were lucky to be excused every Tuesday to see Bapak.

Indeed, being able to see Bapak gave us some sense of stability and balance.
It meant that Bapak was kept abreast of developments in the family as well as those of our relatives in Singapore. -- who got married,who got a baby and who died. Yes, who died.

Bapak was very close to his older sisters -- Fatmah, Kamlah and Eichon. His only younger sister, Salhah also doted on him.
The age gap between him and his older siblings was very wide.
Because they doted on him, it seemed natural for them to dote on us as well.

Going to Singapore for us was a time of sheer luxury. We would be spoilt silly. Reluctant as we were to be spoilt, we were rendered helpless against the might and will of our aunts and cousins.

"Jangan basuh piring tu. Biar saja di situ," we would be told. We were always being shooed out of the kitchen.

We were simply not allowed to lift a finger to help. Of course, being the children of their brother who was in detention made it even more emotional for our aunts. That was why we had very little choice in this except to go with the flow, and enjoy the special treatment while it lasted.

It was sometime in 1980 that Mak received a call from Cik Ah in Singapore that our eldest aunt, Wak Mah, had died.

Mak was sure that the news would be devastating for Bapak whose incarceration had deeply affected her.

Everytime we visited her at her home which was just a stone's throw from my grandmother's, Wak Mah would break into tears at the mere mention of Bapak.It was the same with all his sisters.

Kak Olin and I were not around when Wak Mah died. Kak Olin was in England and I was in Boston. But we were duly informed of developments at home and in Singapore.
Kak Ton remembers Bapak's face when Mak told him of Wak Mah's passing. He momentarily lost his composure. Kak Ton thought he was going to weep. He didn't but you could tell that he was shocked by the news. You could see the pain in his eyes. More painful, perhaps, because he was not able to see his beloved sister towards the end of her life.

Yes, Bapak lost a sister he dearly loved while he was in detention. He never got to say goodbye to her. At least not in the way he wanted.

You see, years earlier, my aunts hatched a plan. A delightful scheme, as far as they were concerned. Little old ladies they were not. They were prepared to defy the laws of a foreign land just to see their little brother. And for Cik Ah, her beloved Abang Comel.

Whenever we went to Singapore or any of them came here, we would talk about Bapak. They insisted on knowing every little detail about their brother.

Naturally they knew that we visited Bapak on Tuesday, that each visit would last about an hour or so, that it was at the Jalan Bandar police station, that Bapak would arrive and leave in the same unmarked car, that sometimes they'd use a different car, and that the car would past by some shophouses.
These were details told over and over again. Like a broken record. But which my aunts enjoyed listening.

By this time, the Special Branch officers were no longer strangers to us. In fact, they were hardly the cold and harsh picture that we had of them. They seemed to treat Bapak with respect and were always gentle with him.

My aunts would not take no for an answer. There was no stopping them.

We were preparing for another Tuesday (sometime in late 1978). For Mak , it was going to be another day to look forward to. That it was just an hour's meeting seemed never to matter to her. Even 5 minutes with her husband would be fulfilling.
As always, Mak would be looking so radiant by Monday. By Tuesday, she was all ready, like a blushing bride.

That particular Tuesday, Kak Eda took the bus from Shah Alam and arrived at the Klang bus station about 9am. She walked hurriedly to the police station. So hurried was she that she did not see several familiar faces near the shops.

Inside the "meeting" room, Bapak was in his usual seat, puffing his cigarette.

He asked how Kak Olin was keeping with her law studies, how I was doing at the NST and my plans to further my studies in Boston. About Azah and Kamal, Lalin and Nina. About Pak Cik Tongkat and his family.
It was a time to catch up on everything and everyone.

We had our usual chat. Mak had brought some kuih-muih.

Perhaps Bapak did notice Kak Piah's nervous smile and Kak Ton's uncharacteristic quiet. Perhaps not.

Outside along the five-foot way of the nearby shops, Wak Mah, Wak Lah, Wak Eichon and Cik Ah waited patiently. With them were Wak Hussain (Wak Eichon's husband), Cik Salleh (Cik Ah's husband) and two or three of our cousins.

Should Bapak be told that his sisters were outside waiting just to catch a glimpse of him, so that he'd not be looking the other way?

Of course, at this point, the SB guys didn't seem intimidating at all. They even joined us for our regular little "picnic".

Kak Piah spoke first. Then Mak. And Kak Ton added her two cents worth. Abang Zul, Abang Ani and Abang Med decided to remain suitably silent.

Bapak did not bat an eyelid when told that his dear sisters, brothers-in-law and a couple of nieces and nephews were somewhere outside, along the "kaki lima" of the shops, waiting to catch a glimpse of him.

He leant back on his chair, took a deep puff of his Dunhill, and smiled.
What? No raised eyebrow! Not even a whimper of surprise! Not worried at the thought of his sisters weeping and wailing as they wave at his passing car along Jalan Bandar?

"Yah kah?" - was all that he remarked.

The SB guys smiled. The handsome one nodded.

Was that a signal that they would play along?

It was time to go.

"Mak Cik keluar dulu, ya. Lepas itu kami pulak," said the handsome one.

Well, this was not the routine. Usually, Bapak would be led out first before we could go.

So, off Mak walked with Lalin and Nina. Kak Piah and abang Zul and the rest followed.

Their cars, as usual, were parked outside the police station, along the road.
Usually, everyone would waste no time in getting into the car to go home, or sometimes in Abang Med's and Kak Ton's case, to their office.

Especially Abang Med who would try to look out for the unmarked police car in which Bapak had arrived. We always told him that it was pointless trying to do that.

"You can't follow their car. They're always gone by the time we leave the station," we would tell him.

To which he would quip: "I may have my lucky day yet!". Sure, Abang Med sure.

Abang Med never abandoned his plan to follow Bapak's car. We cheered him on although we realised at some point that it was impossible to tail the unmarked car. They did not always use the same car.

I think Abang Med relished the idea of playing spy. The idea of tailing a police car. Who knows, he might even succeed. Kak Eda and I liked the idea too.

In the beginning, the SB guys were careful to avoid being seen by us. Later, they seemed a bit careless. Sometimes they would arrive about the same time we did, allowing us - by design or otherwise - to see the particular car they were using that day.

I think Abang Med must have tried to remember the cars that they used for Bapak's rendezvous with us. I won't trivialise Abang Med's uncanny ability in remembering details.

Everyone lingered outside, taking their time. Except Abang Med who was already in his car. Kak Eda and I decided to take a ride with him.

Kak Eda was stumped to know that her aunts were "waiting in the wings".
"No wonder.... I thought I saw someone who looked like Wak Mah just now", she said, shaking her head.
I was just as surprised because nobody filled me in on this subterfuge.

As we reached the gate outside the police station, Kak Piah rushed to a row of shophouses nearby and disappeared in the five-footway.
Then, you could see Wak Mah and the Singapore entourage emerging. They stood in a line just at the edge of the "kaki lima".

Everyone waited. It was like waiting for the royal motorcade to pass. Indeed, the only things missing were little flags with which to wave.

Then, a red sedan emerged from the gate of the police station. It turned left and out the road. The car moved very slowly.

Wak Mah, Wak Hussain,Wak Lah, Wak Eichon and the others stood, their hands waving very unobtrusively. They eyed the passing car, trying to catch a good look at a particular occupant inside.

Everything moved in slow motion. The car, the waving of the hands, the turning of the heads. Bapak had his head visibly near the window and smiled at them.

They did not take their eyes off the sedan until it disappeared around the corner.

Then, almost in tandem, they broke into cries of joy, relief. Passers-by gave my aunts and cousins a second look, probably wondering what the fuss was all about.

"Alhamdulillah! Ya Allah" Wak Mah uttered. She was in tears. She was overjoyed.

That was their last goodbye -- Wak Mah and her beloved little brother.

Everyone finally regained their composure. Mak was all smiles as she hugged her sisters-in-law. It was a touching, moving moment. And if I could understand then what a feel-good moment was, that was certainly one.

Just as everyone was happily recounting that "slow-motion" event, they saw a familiar mini minor zoomed past them.

"Bye bye....", Kak Eda and I shouted from inside the mini minor as Abang Med tried not to lose the sedan.

I could see the stunned faces of our dear mother, sisters and aunts. Abang Ani's look of disbelief blurred past me. This was going to be an exciting adventure.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Jeff At the Jalan Duta Courts

Tomorrow, April 24, 2007, Jeff Ooi will be at the new Jalan Duta Courts Complex for the hearing of the defamation suit against him by the NSTP & 3 others.
The case is at 9am.
Join Jeff who is All-Blogs vice-president there.

Rocky has more in his Bru.

After our walk with Jeff, we' re off to Kafe 4-Teen in Section 14,Petaling Jaya for our Tuesday mee rebus date.

Back Down the Mountain

At 12.51pm, got an sms from MarinaM. She said: "I did it! Climbed 2 top n down again! Got the cert n aching legs 2 prove it too."
That's really great, I said in response. Cool.
I could almost feel her excitement and relief. The sheer sense of achievement.
Anyway, she said when she gets back she will be posting about her Kinabalu mountain experience.
We will be reading all about it soon.
All I can say is -- way to go, Marina!

A Very Sad Story of Poverty

Many things are happening today that should not.
Some time ago, the NST carried a story of how a few very young children somewhere in rural Sabah had to take a long journey to school, trekking high land and low land, from as early as dawn. I don't quite remember if it was a daily ritual. But, that is of no consequence. The fact that Malaysians still experience such hardship to just go to school is a very sad state of affairs.
I was shocked. I had asked myself why it was happening in this day and age, in our country.
What was the excuse for it to be happening? Never mind if it was in Sabah.

That was not the first time. There was an earlier similar story of a group of young children facing such hardship, also in Sabah.

The number of times such stories appear is inconsequential because we know that there are many similar cases across the country. Once in while, these stories get highlighted.

I'd like to share this news article of an interview with the mother of an 11 year-old boy who killed himself because he could not stand the poverty he was living in.
This is in Kinarut, Papar in Sabah.

Donni John Duin was found hanged from the ceiling of his house at Kg Suangon in Kinarut, Papar, on March 20.
The SK Kinarut pupil had tried it once before but his mother had advised him never to do so again.
His mother,
Hina Joloni, 37, believed the abject poverty that the family of six siblings endured proved too much to make him want to try again.

"He told me he could not take it anymore living in the conditions we were in," she told the Daily Express.

She said that towards the end, Donni also had to endure cruel teasing at school by classmates who likened the porridge he brought from home daily to that of dog vomit.

Please read here for the full story.

To Go Or Not To Go To Ijok

Is that the Question?
All-Blogs plan to go to Ijok to see first-hand what is going on there in the run-up to the by-election.
That's a good thing so we know what's happening on the ground.
We go down to Ijok as All-Blogs because the alliance exists and for practical reasons too.
Of course, we all hope to blog about our visit, if we want to, as individual bloggers.
For some All-Blogs members, it will probably be their first time going to assess a constituency where a by-election is taking place.
For me, it certainly will not be, having been a (socio-political) reporter in my earlier life.
So, the experience will be good for the first-timers among us,
It goes without saying that All-Blogs cannot play partisan politics. But as individual bloggers, some have their own political predilection. Some don't. That is how diverse we are.
Bloggers have their own stand on politics, on a whole range of issues. Or not at all.
The decision to express our views in cyberspace is entirely up to us. There is no compulsion.
Because of our diversity, with each blogger subscribing to his or her own independent views and beliefs, what we write cannot represent All-Blogs.
All-Blogs, in the first place, cannot be having a stand on any political party or ideology.
I think we owe it to ourselves, as bloggers, to see what is going on in Ijok. We're not going there to campaign for anyone or any party. And certainly not for All-Blogs.
Personally, I don't think I want to confuse the people of Ijok about All-Blogs.
All-Blogs and what we stand for are irrelevant to the constituents.
And why get drawn into the campaign. In fact, the safety factor would be a good reason not to go, seeing that our brother, Jeff Ooi and his colleague got caught in somebody else's trouble yesterday.
Well, sh** happens, especially when the by-election fever gets too hot and desperation overcomes you. But we'll try to stay out of trouble.
Certainly, we're not going to literally blow our horns there. But, if they or anyone, do to us what was done to Jeff Ooi and friend, then there is really something to blog about.
Going to Ijok is not about making a political statement.
It is about getting to know Ijok and the campaigns by the BN and PKR to woo voters. Some of us are really curious.
As simple as that.
It's good that there is a debate on why All-Blogs should and should not go to Ijok. Just shows that there is democracy in blogosphere.
All-Blogs does not exist to fight for or against anyone. But as individual bloggers, we are entitled to our say.
As bloggers, we take responsibility for what we write.
And if we believe that we can continue to have a discourse on this or any other issue, then we're on the right track.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Up in Mount Kinabalu

Wonder how MarinaM is doing? Has she reached the desired point in her climb up Mount Kinabalu?
Marina and hubby, Tara, together with a small group are on their mountain climb.
She has been looking forward to this "expedition".
We all wished her and Tara a good climb when we last met for mee rebus on Tuesday (April 17).
I told her when she is up there, to not lose the group.
"There's no other way to go but up-lah," she remarked.
Er, sorry, Marina. Never been up Mount Kinabalu. Must've mixed up the many mountain mystery stories.
I don't know what to wish people who are embarking on a mountain climb.
Have a great ascent and descent? Is this what we wish mountain climbers?
Anyway, Marina will tell us how it was when she returns next week.

Bapak's Birthday

Last year, we invited Bapak's close friends and former colleagues to join us at home to celebrate his 82nd birthday.
For many reasons, and especially a very good one, we thought that it would be nice for Bapak to have his friends with him as he celebrated another birthday.
But this year, we decided to make it a quiet affair.
Although Bapak's birthday was on Wednesday April 18, we had to hold his birthday tea on Saturday (April 21) so that everyone could be there.
We decided on a pot-luck. Everyone brought over a little something. Kak Ton brought her mee rebus, Kak Olin - fried mee hoon, Azah - roast chicken, Kamal - bread&butter pudding and Lalin - birthday cake. I brought the drinks and Adel made spicy beef pasta.
I love the birthday cake Lalin baked for Bapak. She said she plagiarised my latest TWB. Check out the birthday wish on the cake!
Bapak would like to thank everyone who wished him well on his birthday!
Later, after maghrib prayers, we held a "tahlil" for our late sister, Kak Eda who passed away on March 8. Al-Fatihah.
Also baby Sharmaine Hana turned one month old on April 20.

I took some "birthday" pictures: Clockwise from left:1) The birthday cake: 2){this is for Rubiah who wanted to know how baby Sharmaine has been doing} Sharmaine; and 3) Bapak with Mak Cik, children and cucu-cicit.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A Tag & An Award

The Thinking Blogger Award

Just when I thought the tag business is clear out of my way, along comes one. This one is a surprise because it is from a blogger whose writing I so enjoy. She writes so beautifully, so elegantly. I was surprised that she reads my blog. I was touched, honoured.
Jane Sunshine evokes a mystery. I know that she is a friend of my good friend, Kak Teh, who was the one who tagged her and gave her the award. I have not asked Kak Teh about her and I don't intend to. I love the mystery. One day, perhaps, I will find out.
Meanwhile, I will go on opening her blog everyday as I do Eliza Haberdashery and that of Queen of The House. Both, by the way, have been tagged.
This tag, is actually an award. Jane Sunshine has given me a Thinking blogger award! Can you beat that?

As I have said in a comment I left in her blog, I thought it was a mistake.
Her blog is The Splenderful Chronicle which by the way is really, so aptly splenderful.
Reading what she has written about my blog, I felt so touched that she had considered it (among the 5) worthy of the honour.
I am not quite sure I deserve it. But, Jane, if you say so, then, who am I to turn it down?
The truth is, I am a little embarrassed. I mean, I started blogging just to write about stuff, you know.
And then, this here award, from someone I have never met but for whose writing I have admiration and high regard.
I also need to say here that a dear friend and former (NST) colleague, Fauziah X-Matters Ismail, decided to also tag me. When Jane tagged me, Fauziah was one of the people I had wanted to name because I enjoy her running series on "true blue Johorian" and a cancer-sticken friend. Fauziah was tagged by Ruby Ahmad.
Thank you, Jane and Fauziah. and I would like to thank my father, my mother..............

The deal is that I must memetag five more blogs. This is a little difficult, because there are certainly more than five that I'd like to tag. After a lot of hard thinking, I have decided on five. You can either thank Ilker Yoldas for this, or blame him!

1. Rocky : I have known Rocky for a long time but that's not why I have picked him. I think Rocky's Bru has set the tone of socio-political blogs in the country. He has taken blogs to a different level, making the powers-that-be and others sit up and notice. That he is being sued by a media giant and four of its executives has made bloggers and internet writers think about the future of blogosphere in the country. Meanwhile, Rocky is still blogging the things he likes to blog. Never say die, Rocky!

2. Raden Galoh : We have exchanged emails and smses. We drop in each other's blog. When she first dropped a comment in my blog, I clicked on her nick and got into her blog, Onebreastbouncing. My heart missed a beat when I found out that she is a breast cancer survivor. I feel so connected with her because I lost two sisters to breast cancer. I marvel at her how she is living life. She writes with such honesty. Sometimes, raw honesty.

3. Ibu : I enjoy reading her "cerita" about her life and her family. I feel I know her already, although we have never met or exchanged email or smses. I even feel I know her children, especially Idin, 11, who just started a blog. Ibu has demonstrated, through, her writing, what a wonderful mom she is.

4. Mat Salo: When I first went into Mat Salo's blog, I got transported to a foreign land, yet there was so much Malaysian about it. He is a Malaysian working in an oil rig, in a land, not so far from here. He was in Sudan when the first ethnic conflict broke. In one of his postings, he offered a gripping account of his experience. He has also taken us to "see" his mother and grandmother. I was fascinated by the thoughts of this man, and so well-written too. He has transported me to Sudan, to those early anxious and turbulent days. And now, he has taken me to somewhere in Kalimantan.

5. Haris Ibrahim: He is my kind of lawyer. When I was first introduced to him I thought he was someone in entertainment or the performing arts, or something close. Ok, Ok. I thought he was a musician. I was wrong. It was a delightful surprise to know that he is a lawyer. Non-conformist and irreverent. I cannot claim to know him well because I think everytime I see him, it is usually a "hi!" and the longest "conversation" I had with him lasted 20 seconds. But, I read his blog. His People's Parliament has made me think about things that I should have thought deeply about but had never done so.

This award was started here:
And now my dear recipients, your award comes with a price. You have to award five others whose blog you think deserve this award.

Should you choose to participate, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging. The participation rules are simple:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme

3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.

Please, remember to tag blogs with real merits, i.e. relative content, and above all - blogs that really get you thinking!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tuesdays With Bapak (10)

Happy 83rd Birthday, Bapak !- April 17 2007
His parents decided to call him "Comel" because he was such a tiny baby and because in those days they believed that calling a newborn by a different name would mean better health, wellbeing, or simply that the child would survive an illness and lived.
And in Abdul Samad's case, it was a matter of life and death. His parents, Haji Ismail Shirazi and Aida Majid did not want to take any chances.
Their baby son must survive because all their four older boys - Abdul Samad's older brothers - had died, either in infancy or childhood.
In those days, it was indeed a case of "survival of the fittest", in its literal sense.
The uncles and aunts I never knew died of diseases which we would, today, consider ordinary, like fever and diarrhoea.
I remember Bapak telling us that one older brother lived only a week or so. Another was about 10 years old when he developed fever and died not long after. Bapak also lost three younger sisters.
Bapak is eighth of seven boys and seven girls.
The surviving children of Haji Ismail and Aida were Fatmah, Eishon, Kamlah, Abdul Samad, Kamaruddin, Salhah and Abdul Majid.
Home was 11 Jalan Yahya, Off Jalan Eunos, Singapore 14. Until the late 70s when Kampung Melayu, earmarked for re-development, was torn down.

In Malay, they'd say that he was loved and nurtured like "di tatang bagai minyak yang penuh".
Comel was Haji Ismail's and Aida's first surviving son. He was adored like he was the prince of the house, nay, the whole kampung.
He was the pet and the jewel of the family.
But his parents did not spoil him, even if his older sisters did.
So loved, sheltered and protected was he, that his parents never allowed Comel out unaccompanied, unchaperoned through his growing years. And that was right through adolescence and the early part of his working life.
He was so precious that every year, his mother would take him to "Keramat Habib Noh" (shrine of Habib Noh, a sufi and revered holy man in Singapore) in Anson Road to have a "doa selamat" performed to seek the blessings of Allah SWT for her beloved son.
The visits to the shrine stopped when he joined Utusan Melayu.
Can you imagine that?

Haji Ismail Shirazi was a former headmaster of Rochore Malay School and later Katong Malay School in Wilkinson Road.
He was a man of great piety, a Malay scholar and a man of strict discipline,
He was tall, a six-footer, and handsome, so I was told.
Haji Ismail whose father, Harun Shirazi Murtadza came from Banyu Mas in Central Java, was also a mystic and an artisan, craftsman and artist, specifically in Islamic calligraphy (Khat).
He designed the beautiful Jalan Yahya house which he built with his own hands. Not a single nail was used to build the house.
He designed the beautiful staircase, fitted with elegant balustrade.
The living room of the house was decorated with some of Haji Ismail's beautiful "Khat" paintings which today can be found in the homes of his living relatives in Singapore and Malaysia.

Aida Majid whose family originated from the north-western Indonesian province of Cheribon (or Tjirebon), was of a more refined Javanese stock than Haji Ismail.
And she was proud of her pure, unadulterated Javanese pedigree.
I remember her sitting in her huge bed in the adjoining living area where a television set was placed against the wall in front of her bed.
All the grandchildren would be sitting around her bed while watching tv.
She was the family matriarch.


Year: 1968 in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Nuraina: Bapak, I would like to buy a swimming suit because I have joined the swimming club.

Bapak: Eh? No, no. You will drown. Withdraw your membership.

Nuraina: But, but....

Bapak: No, no... I will take you all to Changi next time we go to Singapore.


As a young boy, Bapak was deprived of many things a child should be enjoying.
He was never allowed to ride a bicycle for fear that he would bruise himself.

According to Pak Cik Melan (the late Melan Abdullah), Bapak "had never enjoyed a swim in the beaches of Katong Park, Bedok or Changi.
"He could only enjoy a picnic by the seaside or, perhaps, fish in the shallow waters of the beach."
It was, I am certain, for fear that he would drown.

Pak Cik Melan was like an older brother to Bapak. The older brother Bapak never had.
He was a family friend entrusted to take care of Bapak when Bapak got the job in Utusan Melayu.

In a biography, "A. Samad Ismail: Journalism and Politics", Pak Cik Melan was among those invited to write in tribute of Bapak.

Pak Cik Melan wrote:

"He led such a sheltered childhood. He was never allowed to leave the kampung without an elderly relative to accompany him. Even to watch a Sunday matinee at the Garrick Theatre in Geylang Serai or the Queen's Theatre in Geylang, he would be accompanied by an elderly relative or a trusted friend.
When he had to stay back in school - Victoria School in Jalan Besar - he had to go to his brother-in-law's shop in Arab Street who would then see to it that he got safely home.
His mother made all the rules. Samad played the guitar and was a member of his kampung keroncong group. But he had to stay home on Thursday nights (malam Jumaat), could only leave the house after Friday prayers, and whistling or singing in the kitchen was strictly taboo. If he missed fasting for a day, he was the last to have dinner. He was not allowed to wear anything black."

I do, however, remember a story my aunt (Bapak's older sister) told me about how Bapak came home from a fiesta at the beach.
The story was that Comel followed a group of older friends to the beach, unbeknown to his doting parents.
A boy and the sea -- what a fascinating combination! Comel was carried away, playing in the beach and in the water in abandon. Naturally, he returned home late.
Traces of his beach affair were evident and when confirmed that Comel had a fun time at the beach (because Comel did not know how to tell a lie, even a white one), mummy was hysterical.
Her darling Comel could have drowned. Mercy me!
So, to ensure that Comel never repeated that unthinkable act, he was punished. His mother "smacked" his legs and feet.

I could not quite understand why Bapak did not allow me to join my school's swimming club.
I actually disobeyed him and joined anyway. Mak was an accessory.
Although she did not explain why Bapak was adamant not to allow me to learn how to swim, she told me not to withdraw.
"Tak apa. Nanti kita cari swimsuit, ya," she said.
It was later that I found out that Abang Med was also never allowed to go swimming. Neither was Kak Ton nor Kak Olin.
In Abang Med's case, Bapak was protective of him as he was the eldest boy.
Perhaps that was why Bapak encouraged Abang Med in music and guitar-playing as that kept him home!

We were also not allowed to ride bicycles. None of us ever had our own bicycle.
But we did learn to cycle, though. We had our ways. Not at home but in Singapore..
We had our cousins in Singapore to thank for this because everytime we were there for a holiday, learning to ride a bicycle was top priority.

You learn many things from your parents, including what not to be. That was why I made sure my children learnt swimming at a very young age and had their own bicycles to ride!

If anyone else knew Bapak intimately, it was Pak Cik Melan. Here is his story:

"I was A. Samad Ismail's chaperon and companion from the day I met his parents in Kampung Melayu after my return to Singapore from Johore. I became a chaperon under licence from his father and mother, in fact up to the day he became editor of the paper and married Hamidah.

"But what headaches I had with Samad during those days when I acted as his brother, chaperon and companion, especially when he was wooing Hamidah.
I was his chaperon in the strictest sense, his "amah", so to speak charged by his family to look after him. I was simply carrying on a family tradition.
Samad had always a chaperon to look after his whims. And I was his chaperon during the most boisterous years of his life.

"Thus, Samad grew up to be a very obedient boy with pleasant manners, like most children who are their mother's pet.
Samad had no older brothers as playmates. The only man who came close to be his elder brother was the late Haji Samon Haji Dahlan who owned a shop in Arab Street, selling caps and capals and was well-known in Singapore before the war as a social worker. But Haji Samon was too old for him.

"Haji Samon was married to Samad's eldest sister, Hajjah Fatmah before Samad was born.
.... this void in Samad's early life, his almost complete dependence on an elder person to serve as chaperon and companion, perhaps drew him to me.
His mother had wanted very much for Samad to be an ulama like his relative, the late Mas Isom, who had a large following in Singapore before the war.
his mother and sisters laid down the rules for him: Comel must never be allowed to drink..Comel must never be allowed to commit adultery... Comel must never gamble...Comel must never show any disrespect to his elders. Comel means small, or beautiful or darling.
As events later proved, he was neither small, nor beautiful nor darling to most people.

"He proved, instead, to be a veritable bundle of trouble to me. It was quite a list of do's and don'ts which Samad was supposed to observe for the sake of family honour and self-respect. But Samad flouted almost every single rule that was laid down for him."'

Bapak sure broke those rules. Emancipation? Free and unshackled?
Comel , so protected and sheltered, grew to be a non-conformist. A radical, some even say. An enigma to so many. Whatever.

April 18, Bapak celebrates his 83rd birthday. Pak Cik Melan is gone. So have many of his close friends including Pak Cik Tongkat (Usman Awang), Pak Cik Kamal (Keris Mas), Uncle Swee (Lee Siew Lee) and Pak Cik Dahari (Dahari Ali).
We are glad that Bapak still has Pak Mazlan (Mazlan Nordin), Abang Syed (Syed Husin Ali) and Uncle Rajah (Dr M Rajakumar), to name a few.

Mak died in 1990 but Bapak sometimes asks for her. He probably is not even aware that he will be 83 tomorrow.

I remember how distraught he was when Pak Cik Tongkat died some years ago.

"Kawan-kawan aku ramai dah tak ada," he remarked.

Bapak.... Happy 83rd birthday and may your remaining twilight years be wonderful, blessed always by Allah SWT!

(Caricature by LAT in tribute to A. Samad Ismail, April 1986. The words below the caricature say: "Samad telling a joke.")

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Blogging and Etiquette

Can the Two Converge?
We all know how fast the blogs are growing. As the numbers increase, we find a diverse range of blogs and therefore, bloggers. We also find that the freedom allowed and encouraged in the internet has given rise to some discomfort among users.
In Malaysia, we have not discussed the need for a code of conduct among internet users (read:bloggers). Should we?
Here, some people have gone directly to the courts to seek redress over alleged defamatory postings in the blogs.
In the United States, a debate is raging about the need to have some etiquette or a form of code (of conduct and ethics) to prevent abuse. This came about after a prominent technology blogger received threats to her life, in her blog.
Fearing for her life, Kathy Sierra decided to quit blogging. Following this, some of her friends and supporters, including two internet luminaries, decided that the time has come for internet users to discuss the issue of blogging etiquette.
Why is it so difficult to make a decision on whether or not to allow crap, vitriol, abuse and all those negative and evil things in our blogs?
If we're not talking about cyberspace, blogosphere and the internet, it would be so easy.
As Technorati founder David Sifry said: "One of the core principles that the internet is built on is the principle of free speech".

Here's a quote from the article:
"A lot of this is really kindergarten ethics. It's the adult way to handle this kind of thing. How do we make distinctions between a vibrant, healthy but rational debate versus hate speech and lunatics? I don't think it's that difficult and I don't think any responsible bloggers are opposed to that." - Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

Read the article here.

Read also this, this and this.

Yin's Case: Myanmar Couple Detained

Suspected of Abducting Yin

Here's an update of Yin's case. According to Bernama, the Myanmar couple with whom Yin was staying in the 2 weeks he was missing, has been detained. Police suspect the 27 year-old woman and 37 year-old man to have abducted the boy.

Police suspect the couple, believed to be beggars, had used the 5 year-old boy for begging.

Here's the full story:

KUALA LUMPUR, 15 April (Bernama) -- A Myanmar couple suspected of abducting five-year-old Muhammad Nazrin Shamsul Ghazali or Yin two weeks ago, believed to be used for begging, has been detained by police.
Acting Kuala Lumpur police chief SAC II Zul Hasnan Najib Baharudin said the couple, aged 37 dan 27, believed to be beggars, was arrested at their house in Sentul Pasar at 1pm today.
"Police have received information that the couple has been using children for begging in the Klang Valley area," he told reporters here today.
He said the health check on the boy also showed that Yin had not had measles as claimed by the couple when they returned him to a close friend of the boy's father yesterday.
On the statement by Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan that Yin's case was closed, Zul Hasnan said the investigation was still going on although the search had ended.
He said the Myanmar couple was being investigated under Section 363 of the Penal Code on suspicion of abducting the boy and would be brought before the court tomorrow to obtain a remand order to assist in the investigation.
Yin went missing about 2pm on March 31 while his father was trying on some clothes while his mother Nor Amizah Ahmad, 25, was watching over his younger brother Mohd Nazmi, 4, at the Sogo shopping centre in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman here.
The boy was reported to have been picked up by one Baharuddin Hassan from the Myanmar couple's house after he received a call from them that Yin had been in their care since he went missing and that they only knew about his case yesterday.- BERNAMA

Read yesterday's good news of Yin being found. Click here.

Yin Reunited With Family

Safe And None The Worse For...
All Shamsul Ghazali Shamsuddin and his wife could do was pray and hope that their 5 year-old son would be found and returned to them -- safe and sound.
It had been 2 weeks of agony and anguish for them and their family after Muhammad Nazrin or Yin, as he is fondly called, went missing at the Sogo shopping complex in the afternoon of March 31.
It was almost as though little Yin had disappeared into thin air, although he was fleetingly sighted by the couple's friend on the day he went missing and the Sogo's CCTV caught him walking out of the complex.
But, after that - nothing.
After more than 2 weeks, without a trace of Yin's whereabouts, many people, and I am sure, Yin's parents, must have feared the worst. But prayers and hope were strong for Yin to be alive and well.
Today, news of Yin being found drew much relief and joy. All that mattered was that he was safe.
According to Bernama, Shamsul, on hearing Yin singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", on the telephone, broke down and wept.
Listening to that little boy singing his son's favourite nursery rhyme convinced him that it was really Yin on the other line. It was not a hoax like the many he had received the past 2 weeks.
Yin was said to have been under the care of a Myanmar couple, Rasidah Nur Islam, 27 and her husband, Abdul Rahman Doli Rahman, 31 in their Sentul Pasar home.
Rasidah claimed that she found Yin on the day he went missing, attempting to cross the road At Jalan Raja Laut, and took him home after nobody claimed him.
She claimed that, as there was no TV set at her home, neither she nor her husband was aware of Yin's identity and the fact that the whole country was looking for him.
Until, of course, today when she was back at Sogo when the couple's friend, Baharuddin Hassan was distributing posters of Yin.
She took one and went home. It was when she was home that she took a good look at the poster and realised that the boy (in the poster) and Yin were one and the same person.
So, she called the telephone number on the poster.
And that was how Yin was found. All's well that ends well.
Shamsul is just so happy and thankfiul to be reunited with his son that he has accepted Rasidah's account of Yin's 2-week stay with her.
He will not press charges against the couple because he thinks that she was telling the truth.
"Perhaps it is true that they cannot read or have no TV to learn of Yin's disappearance," the 34 year-old told a Press conference.
Well, one thing that bothered many people was the fact that Yin's head was shaven.
We could choose to be very suspicious of Rasidah's account. We can choose to not believe anything. It is her account. But, don't expect the little boy to give his version. He is just so overjoyed at having been reunited with his family.
All I can say is Thank God Yin has been found, safe and unharmed.
And on Rasidah: Thank God she called the telephone number on the poster.
For this, I must say to the Malay Mail: SYABAS!

Read Bernama's story here, here and here.

*When Yin went missing. Click here.

(Photo from the Star.)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Yin Found!


Bernama has this:

Five-year-old Mohammad Nazrin Shamsul Ghazali or Yin, who has been missing since March 31, was found in Sentul this evening, Acting Kuala Lumpur police chief SAC I Zulhasnan Najib Baharuddin said.

Where Are You, Yin?

Every Parent's Nightmare
It's been more than 2 weeks since 5 year-old Muhammad Nazrin or Yin (picture) went missing while out shopping with his family in Kuala Lumpur.
There's been no news of him yet.
Last weekend, the Malay Mail distributed posters of Yin in the hope that it will help in the desperate search for him.
It has been so long. We hope and pray that he is safe and well.
Yin was last seen at 2pm on Saturday (March 31) when he was on the 2nd Floor of Sogo Shopping Complex, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur.
Yin was out shopping with his family -- father Shamsul Ghazali Shamsudin, 34, his 25 year-old mother and 4 year-old brother.
They are from Medan Klebang Restu, Chemor, Perak,

Friday, April 13, 2007

Charting the Uncharted

First Meeting of All-Blogs Pro-Tem Committee
It rained cats and dogs last evening and only tapered off by about 9.30pm. You'd think that people would use that as an excuse to be fashionably late for any function. And Malaysian time-keeping is notorious, even in this day and age of the 21st century.
But, delightfully, no. Except for Elizabeth Wong who was involved in the Machap by-election, everyone was there on time, give or take a few minutes. Emy Husni and Soon Li Tsin could not make it due to some pressing engagement.
And the Pro-Tem commitee of Malaysia's first alliance of bloggers - National Alliance of Bloggers or All-Blogs - conducted its first meeting at the borrowed venue of the National Press Club in Kuala Lumpur.
Thank You, NPC for consenting to allow us to use the premises.
Present were (president) Ahirudin Attan AKA Rocky, (vice-president) Jeff Ooi, (secretary) Nuraina Samad, (treasurer) Tony Yew and committee members: Bernard Khoo, Patrick Teoh, Syed Azidi Syed Abdul Aziz, Syed Jamal Al-Idrus, Elizabeth Wong, Rajahram Ramalingam and, Annuratha K.

Here's what the committee decided on:
* the alliance to be called All-Blogs for short,
* Elizabeth to head a sub-committee on drafting the constitution,
* Elizabeth to incorporate the issue of membership in her sub-committee, with Syed Jamal to
assist in this,
* a logo to be designed and conceptualised with Syed Azidi tasked to work on it,
* Bernard to look into the legalities in setting up welfare fund under All-Blogs, and
* Jeff to look into training and related programmes for bloggers.

There was a lot of discussion and debate, particularly on a key issue -- membership. We are hopeful that subsequent meetings will iron out some contentious and crucial bits.
We are confident that Elizabeth's wide experience in this area will be of immense help.
The committee also discussed the need to have a suitable place for All-Blogs. We are on the look-out for one. Of course, mindful of the fact that we are starting at zero-kitty.

Next meeting has been scheduled for April 27.

(There was a small farewell do after the meeting for Syed Azidi, otherwise known as Sheih of Kickdefella who will be leaving for Kelantan tomorrow (Saturday, April 14) to begin a new job with the Kelantan government as corporate communications officer.)

We're really in uncharted waters, here. The alliance, by its very nature given the diverse composition of its members and what they represent, is clearly and undoubtedly unique.
A body of cyberspace writers - a huger than huge mass of the named and the nicknamed - evokes a daunting picture.
There will certainly be some hiccups, many rough edges. And we have not even gone over the first hurdle yet -- registration.
We can all take a bet on how long the process will be, mindful of the fact the bloggers in this here country, are not the flavour of the day with the powers-that-be.

The formation of the alliance is a starting point in the process of engagement (and perhaps, even embrace, you think?) with the detractors and critics (read: government/authorities/ignoramus) of blogosphere.
It cannot be denied that its formation was triggered by the lawsuits against our brothers, Rocky and Jeff by a media giant and its key executives.
But All-Blogs is, first and foremost, committed to promote blogging and, protect bloggers.
So, we'll go where the waters take us, which in time, will be charted.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Welfare Woes

No Milk Today
Pi Bani, a blog sister, writes about her work with HIV patients. Hers is one of the most inspiring stories I have had the privilege of following.
In my book, she is indeed a wonderful, a selfless human being.
I was drawn to one particular posting about the hardship faced by two women, made worse by the delayed disbursement of their allowances by the welfare department.
This is not an unfamiliar tale. It has been told many times over, for God-knows how long.
These are the poor and the needy who depend on welfare staff members every month to give them their allowance.
I don't know whether the government servants handling welfare cases are indifferent or uncaring or both. Perhaps the delay in giving the money is genuine, due to problems beyond their control.
Whether or not it is, what is clear is the unkind treatment these people are getting from welfare staff.
One of the women had been waiting for news (of her application for allowance) that never came. The other - a mother of two - was to have received her allowance of RM115. That was on April 5. Let's hope by now, she would have already received the money.
Both were offered such shamelessly lame excuse by the welfare department staff.
The women need money to buy milk for their babies, and to live.
This is an excerpt of Pi Bani's posting, "More House Visits, More Welfare Woes":

"As expected, Yah too ran out of milk powder for her baby, so she had no choice but to buy
some using the RM160 she gets monthly courtesy of MAC.
I asked if there was any news from the Welfare Department as she had already submitted her
application personally in early January. Yah said since she did not receive any news from
them, she went to the welfare office again some time in February to follow up. Guess what??
she was told they never received her application. Oh dear… then what on earth was she doing
in their office in January? Paying them a courtesy visit?!

Yah had no choice but to submit a new application. I asked her for the name of the officer in
charge and promised her I’d try to follow up on the matter. I also promised her I’ll try to visit
her next weekend as I’ll be away elsewhere this weekend.

.... Fuzi’s application for welfare aid had already been approved (of RM115 a month) and she
had already received some money in February – handed over by hand.
The welfare officers then asked her to open up a bank account so that future financial aid
beginning March can be banked in direct. Bank account done in February, and account
number submitted to welfare department immediately.

But yesterday was already the 5th of April, and according to Fuzi she has gone to the bank to
check, but her financial aid for March was not in yet. Again, I promised Fuzi I’d try to follow
up on the matter."

Read the full story here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Tuesdays With Bapak (9)

The First Tuesday - April 10 2007
Abang Med walked into the living room and made his way to the piano at the end of the room.
I was behind him with Nina beside me.

"Tannggg", went a key of the piano.
Then, he seated himself and started playing a song. A lilting melody.

It was one of the many songs that Bapak used to "serenade" us when we were kids. But when Abang Med hit the keys, he made it sound much sadder.

Bapak, I had always believed, would have either been a musician or a dancer, if he had not thrown himself so completely into journalism and politics.

In his younger days he would play the harmonium (a musical instrument) belonging to his family who owned a "bangsawan" in the old days in Singapore.

Then, before he ventured into journalism, Bapak was known (to everyone except, I suspect, his own parents) to enjoy joining in the kampung festivities, including dancing the "zapin".

And then, journalism beckoned.

"Semalam di Malaya" was one of the first songs Bapak sang to us. It meant something to him. Although he did not say so but we knew it reminded him of his sojourn in Jakarta as an Utusan Melayu correspondent and of his return home to Singapore.

He had often referred to his time in Jakarta as his "political exile", a result of friction between him and Utusan Melayu boss, Yusof Ishak, with Lee Kuan Yew in the picture .

To me, it told of a poignant part of a man's life. I always imagined the sense of desolateness and isolation Bapak must have felt during that part of his life away from family and friends..

It used to touch a chord somewhere in me whenever I hear "Semalam Di Malaya" on the radio or when Abang Med used to play it for Bapak on the piano or guitar. Bapak would sing it with Kak Ton sometimes accompanying him.

Mak would sit, watch and listen approvingly.

That day after returning from visiting Bapak for the first time since his detention, "Semalam Di Malaya", like never before, moved me to tears.

When we were little, in the early 60s, Bapak would take out his "Akai" tape recorder and then asked us to gather around him.

He would then fix two rolls of tape onto the recorder and plug in the microphone.

This "ritual" was usually on weekends when Pak Cik Tongkat, Cik Senah and their children visited us at our Jalan Sentosa home in Kawasan Melayu in Petaling Jaya.

I would sing all the nursery rhymes I learnt in school and Lina (Pak Cik Tongkat's eldest) would join me. Everyone would have a great time.

Those were our early days in Malaya. We had just arrived from Singapore and newly-settled in the country. Kawasan Melayu seemed to be the place where the newly-arrived settled. There were familiar names, besides Pak Cik Tongkat, such as Samad Said, Mazlan Nordin, Alias Ali and Salim Kajai who were our "neighbours".

A few years later, Mak's relatives from Sumatra settled next door. Mak Cik Mon's relative was married to Mak's relative in Sumatra. Mak was about her only known relative in Petaling Jaya and lucky for her the next door house was vacant and ready to be occupied.

One of her sons whom we've known as Agam went on to become quite well-known as a singer/songwriter who has now made Indonesia his home. The music industry knows him as Odie Agam who wrote "Antara Anyir Dan Jakarta" popularised by local artiste Sheila Majid.

It turned out that Agam, then hardly a teenager yet, was already a good guitarist. He would "jam" with us. He and Abang Med who was also a cool guitarist got along famously and played music together.

We learnt a lot of Indonesian classical and folk songs from Kak Linda (Mak Cik Mon's eldest daughter) and her sisters Tina (Ristina) and Kechik (Suslita), The youngest girl, Magda was my best friend then.

I think we moved out of Jalan Sentosa in 1964 to Jalan Lembah in section 5, Petaling Jaya.

I remember, in our singing sessions in our Jalan Lembah home, Kak Ton rendered a Malay hit song "Selamat Tinggal Bunga Ku" or something like that. We told her that she should stop schooling and be a singer.

Now the living room echoed with the melancholic sound of Abang Med's piano rendition of "Semalam Di Malaya".

Hot afternoons and "Semalam Di Malaya" on the piano would ordinarily lull us all to a nice slumber.

But not today. Today we wanted to let it all out. In a song. Bapak's favourite song that meant so much to him years ago and now, to us in ways we could not explain.

Halfway through Abang Med's playing, I sang to the tune. I knew the lyrics very well. So did the rest of Bapak's older children. Kak Ton joined in and then Kak Olin. What a sad performance.

"Semalam Di Malaya" would from then on be our "anthem" of sorts. I loved the song. And I love it more now.

Earlier, our visit had been one filled with mixed emotions -- sadness, anticipation, uncertainty and fear. But there was a lot more joy which warmed the occasion.

The drive home from the Jalan Bandar police station seemed to be much shorter than the drive to reach it earlier in the morning.

When Bapak walked into the huge room that had been reserved for our visit, Kak Ton almost collapsed.

I could see her face turned ashen, her eyes glistened. In fact, everyone seemed shaken by the sight of Bapak -- his head shaven, he looked so pale - almost white - thin, tensed and very nervous.

Abang Med, if he wasn't the number one son, would have displayed similar emotions as Kak Ton had.

Instead, he was stone-faced but he eyed the SB guys suspiciously. I can tell you, if looks could kill, those SB guys would have been dead in a second.

Mak must have sensed the tangible air of uneasiness in the room. If her children had any ounce of what her husband was made of, would there be trouble right here in this room?

But, on that score, Mak was proven wrong. Much as we despaired about Bapak's condition, we were overjoyed to see him that nothing else mattered.

It was Nina who broke the ice, so to speak. At first hesitant to go near Bapak, Nina then just hugged him, as though remembering that he was the reason for her to be in this strange place.

Bapak, thankfully, had the same old pair of thick spectacles on.
"So, they didn't throw them away," I thought.

I think everyone of us tried to act normally while at the same time, assessing (nay, studying) Bapak, from head to toe.

Was Bapak stammering? I asked myself.

Every now and again, we would look at the SB officers looking at us.

But they were extremely nice. Not just in their mannerisms as they gave us quite a lot of room to be with Bapak. But in their facial expression. They actually looked kind.

Bapak asked us very mundane run-of-the-mill questions about school, exams, Abang Med's column in the Sunday Mail, Kak Olin in the UK, his grandchildren and so forth.

The mood warmed up eventually.

Oh, how we wished one hour could last forever. When the one hour was up and we proceeded to say goodbye, one of the officers told us to not worry.

"Tak apa. Ada masa lagi," he said.

Mak thanked him and everyone resumed talking. Bapak listened mostly.

Somehow, we knew we could not say anything beyond the mundane things. And we knew he could not say anything beyond that.

We were later to tell each other that we wanted to "play safe" in case it would be worse for Bapak. Just a feeling but, truth be told, we need not have been so unduly worried.

Bapak, certainly, did not seem to be the same Bapak we knew. It was apparent to us that the two-month incarceration had changed him.

When it was time to go, the officers told us to wait in the room.

"Nanti bila boleh balik, kami akan beritahu," the older officer told us, amiably.

We kissed Bapak's hand and hugged him.

"Ok. Be good. Take care. Jangan boyfriend-boyfriend, nanti fail exam," he remarked before he left. Which of course, left us quite stunned. Did we touch on the subject of boyfriends with him?

But, because he said it so light-heartedly and to hear him say so in that way, warmed our hearts.

Yes, the drive home was less tensed.

Abang Med must have wanted to release tension when he decided to just play the piano and naturally chose that song.

After the sad singing session, there was a deafening silence in the living room as everyone wanted to get themselves together. I felt spent after mouthing the lyrics. It was an emotional experience.

Then Abang Med turned around. The sadness and anger had lifted from his face. In its place was a smirk.

"Next time, we follow Bapak's car, ok?"

No, it was not a question.

Little Aisya

Thanks to Generous Malaysians
Remember little Siti Aisya Syazreen who has Fraser Syndrome (fused eyelids)?
The three-and-a-half year-old had undergone surgery but this was not successful.
Because of her age, doctors felt that she was not ready for another surgery until 2 years' time.
A wonderful Malaysian, student Daphne Ling went on a mission to help Aisya. I was one of those she approached. I posted Aisya's plight on March 26.

Last night, I received an email from Daphne. Here's what she said:

"Hi Ms Nuraina,
Latest developments on Aisya on my blog:
I'll sum up for you here. Collections have reached Rm 8100, slighltly over...Have compiled a list so that people who wanna donate things (some are worried money might go astray, be misused etc) can do so...
Anyone who wants to do so can please alert me, so I'll put next to the item they wanna donate that there's already a pledge, so we wont have repetitions...Just sms/email/comment and I'll put it up...Nobody has to donate a whole sum...They can just say, "I'll sponsor two months of *fill in blanks*"...
Thanks a million. Will keep in touch...

We hope and pray for Aisya to lead a normal life!

Pas' Coup

Sheih in Kelantan
Syed Azidi Syed Abdul Aziz, otherwise known as blogger Sheih Kickdefella has joined the Kelantan government as corporate communications officer.
Sheih has resigned as lecturer in broadcasting and filming from a local university.
In his 12 years in the film and media industry, Sheih has worked as director, producer and script writer for films and television.
Kelantan is Parti Islam (Pas)-ruled.
As we undersand it, Sheih's work will be encompassing of the state government's publicity activities, which are, of course, Pas activities.
Pas is certainly having a broad outlook of things. Must be the "new " Pas today.
When you want to reach out, you'll just have to think out of the box! And get serious!
I'd say that having a blogger on board is THE thing to do. I know, some would say, is a brave thing to do.

We will certainly be looking out for Sheih's handiwork in the next general election.
It is interesting to note that Sheih is NOT a Pas member. He is in fact a card-carrying Umno member. He was a two-term Youth leader for Umno Sri Hartamas and now sits on its exco.

Well, There you are. Certainly a coup for Pas.

[also read Rocky's Bru, Susan Loone and Jeff Ooi's on this].

Monday, April 09, 2007

Politics and The People

Why Everyone Should Be Politically-Motivated
Mekyam is a regular commentor here as well as in Rocky's Bru, Sheih Kickdefella and other blogs.
Mekyam (I dare not suggest that she is a woman just by her nom) dropped a comment in my posting "Building Bridges".
I am reproducing the comment as a posting. Here's what Mekyam said:

" Nuraina: This is going back to basics -- basic propaganda.

I'm with you. They ARE ignorant, but not THAT stupid! It's not blogging per se they are against, it's having their DISHONESTY, IRRESPONSIBILITY and TREACHERY against Malaysia and Malaysians EXPOSED!

Like you said, they are just using a blanket accusation against local bloggers. They are not concerned about those Malaysians who blog about their personal interests and idiosyncrasies.

They want to stop bloggers who are concerned and informed, who blog openly and intelligently under their own names, from revealing things the government would rather keep from public scrutiny. This is directed at owners of news-portals like Malaysiakini and MalaysiaToday too, especially the latter, because Raja Petra provides interactivity not unlike blogging for every news and article on his site.

They have labeled these bloggers and news-portal owners as "politically-motivated bloggers," making it sound like being politically motivated is a dirty word.

It is NOT! If "politically-motivated" is what some Malaysians do, advertently or indvertently, to thwart actions of public servants, from the PM on down, which are not in the public interest, then why shouldn't these bloggers be politically motivated? They are after all Malaysians.

In fact each and everyone of us breathing Malaysians, whether we are blogging or not, should be politically-motivated. Politics concerns us. All of us have a vested interest in all things political. In fact, the trouble with Malaysians is that we have not been political enough. We have been too complacent and uncomplaining about how we are being governed. That is why the current government think they can get away with what they're doing.

Politics is the simply the tool of governance. Thus it touches every aspect of our lives as citizens. Who are they, these people we ELECT and PAY to take care of our politics (i.e the running and governing of this political entity we call Malaysia for us Malaysians), to tell us not to be politically-motivated? Who are they to start this propaganda, this smear assaults, against our some of us for being good responsible citizens? Who are they to turn around and attack us for defending our rights? How dare they!

I'm not a blogger and not likely to be one anytime soon, but this bullying and sly vindictiveness of our elected representatives, especially ignorant ones, really incenses me as a citizen."

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Building Bridges

Don't Build a Wall Between Us
As far as Ruhanie Ahmad the "Kuda Kepang" is concerned, government mouthpieces, including Zainuddin Maidin, need to be taught a lesson. Literally. About the multimedia in Malaysia. Hopefully, Zam and others who have been demonising bloggers, will understand something about what they've been attacking. Perhaps, then, they would not be too unrestrained in their attacks against bloggers.

Ron said:
" Di Malaysia sendiri terdapat ramai pakar undang-undang ICT. Kita juga mempunyai MCMC. Kalaulah, umpamanya, perisian iklan multimedia mempunyai etikanya yang tertentu,
mustahilkah kalau bloggers Malaysia di ajak berunding untuk sama-sama membentuk kod
etika blogging di negara ini suatu hari nanti?

Pra-syaratnya, jangan ada sesiapa jua di dalam pemerintahan negara ketika ini bercakap
pasal bloggers secara rambang dan hentam keromo.

Jangan dimulakan proses konfrontasi antara kerajaan dan bloggers. Jangan
tembok pemisah sebelum pihak pemerintah mengenali hakikat
sebenarnya mengenai blogging."

You can read more of what Ron has to say here.
Rocky in his Bru talks about Ron and Zam, both ex-journalists.

" Ron was a Member of Parliament between between 2000 and 2004 while Zam was made a Senator by Dr M before he rose to become the Information Minister. In other matters, the two differ. And on the question of blogging, they are at loggerheads."

Read Rocky's "Ron On Zam" here.

My take on this?
I don't think people instructed to attack bloggers are that stupid.
They don't care what you and I think. They know what you and I think.
The message to us is simple-- stop blogging.
The message to the public, including the voting masses is -- DO NOT TRUST BLOGGERS. THEY ARE LIARS.

This is going back to basics -- basic propaganda.

Royal Pain 2

"Victim" Withdraws Police Report
On April 1, I posted a story about a police report lodged against a prince from down south. The report was lodged by a 21 year-old girl who was said to be the prince's mistress.
Now, according to Rocky's Bru (which had it first and I got it from the blog), the girl has withdrawn the report.
This latest bit of "news" was actually posted by a commentor (anonymous) in Rocky's Bru. Anonymous also claimed that the prince was framed by another prince in the state.

Read Rocky Bru's "Chick-bashing Prince Part 2" here.


All-Blogs Going Places
For your information, news on the National Alliance of Bloggers have made its round across the globe.
Jeff Ooi's Screenshots has the list of online newssites which published the story.
Quoting Jeff : " Again, it was Internet speed, within 36 hours of earth time, that the world reacted to the formation of Malaysia's National Alliance of Bloggers (All Blogs). The story was published online in Malaysia by mStar and Malaysiakini on Thursday, April 5, 2007 from 9pm onwards."
- mStar: Penulis blog tubuh 'pakatan nasional'
- Malaysiakini: Bloggers unite in face of hostility
- National blogger alliance takes shape
- Malaysiakini: Blogger bersatu hadapi 'serangan'
- Malaysiakini: 维护发言权鼓吹部落格风气, 全国部落格联盟昨正式成立

Then, the following day, Friday April 6, they had the story:

- The Star: Bloggers form grouping
- AgendaDaily: Bloggers kini sudah ada ‘payung’ sendiri
- IHT, Paris: Malaysian political bloggers form alliance to counter criticism from government
- Al-Jazeera, Doha: Malaysians form 'band of bloggers'

By Saturday, Associated Press (AP) article by Yeoh En Lai was published by some 40 on-line newsites in the US, Australia and Canada. Among them is MSNBC, USA: Malaysian political bloggers form alliance. The others include:

- The Age, Australia: Malaysian Bloggers Form Alliance
- San Francisco Chronicle, California: Malaysian Bloggers Form Alliance
- Houston Chronicle, Texas: Malaysian Bloggers Form Alliance
- MWC News, Canada: Malaysians form 'band of bloggers'

Find out about the rest here.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Fear of Blogs

Anti-Blogs Propaganda.
I am convinced that an anti-bloggers campaign is underway.
Today I am hearing about "politically-motivated" blogs. Whatever that means. Blogs by individuals who have political motives?
Well, that's what our Information Minister said. He thinks he can fix the problem (with bloggers) the Singapore way. But he hasn't got it quite right. Read it here.

Too many general and vague statements about blogs and bloggers.
Some statements don't make sense.

Must be made out of fear because people cannot be that "sense-less". Or can they?

These are not criticisms of blogs and bloggers. These are attacks, against specific blogs. Systematic attacks to discredit some influential bloggers. Never mind if the rest get hit.

Nothing spelt out yet. But we get the message. The heat is on.

"Stop criticising what you perceive to be excesses and abuse in government and by the government, of bad decisions and anything you see to be an example of poor administration."

"Stop blogging or else!"

Or else what?

"Or else we will put the fear of government into you."

Are bloggers getting out of control?

Are blogs bad? Are bloggers worse?

I think not.
Read this and get an education.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Searching For Nazrin

Muhammad Nazrin or Yin (picture) is missing -- somewhere out there, where he shouldn't be.
The 5 year-old was last seen at 2pm on Saturday (March 31) when he was on the 2nd Floor of Sogo Shopping Complex, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur.
Yin was out shopping with his family -- father Shamsul Ghazali Shamsudin, 34, his 25 year-old mother and 4 year-old brother.
They are from Medan Klebang Restu, Chemor, Perak,
His distraught parents are awaiting news of his return.
A police report had already been lodged.
PLEASE PLEASE HELP IN THE SEARCH FOR LITTLE YIN. The Malay Mail will be distributing posters to help in this.
The Malay Mail story is here.

BlogosFear And Accountability

Watching the Watchdog
According to TimesOnline of the UK, bloggers have exposed untruths and cover-ups that traditional watchdogs in the mainstream media have missed; one blog scoop famously cost the American newsreader Dan Rather his job.
There is a media revolution with an explosion of blogging and citizen journalism worldwide.
But, there is a need for bloggers who report news to adopt the same standards of journalism as journalists (of the traditional media) if they want to win public trust and confidence.
Read the rest of the story by Bernhard Warner.

"Bloggers have also kept consistent heat on companies for neglecting customers and lying to shareholders, forcing boardrooms to make swift decisions.
Radio Shack’s board sacked CEO David Edmondson earlier this year after a blog swarm erupted over revelations that he lied on his CV. (The board acknowledged the ire of bloggers in the decision to dismiss Edmondson; Wall Street analysts believe the slumping share price more likely did him in.)
Bloggers are also changing the face of spot news coverage.

At the E3 Expo, the annual video game conference held in Los Angeles last month, bloggers were given press accreditation to cover the event.
Handing out press passes to select bloggers is nothing new, but E3 organisers dramatically relaxed the old line, giving bloggers at, say, Blues News (with the memorable tag line "All the carnage that’s fit to post!") access equalling that of the Washington Post.
The coverage was exhaustive. There are more than 25,000 photos of the expo on Flickr alone – many are incongruously entertaining shots of bloggers posing with booth babes.
Blogs can and do take on more serious subjects too.

Iraqi bloggers featured on Global Voices report on the heart-wrenching conditions of life in some of bloodiest parts of Baghdad and Mosul.
Already on the inside, their posts take you on to the streets of the Amiriya neighbourhood where mainstream media seldom tread to report on lethal sectarian clashes.
According to Salam Adil, an editor of Global Voices’ Iraq coverage, there are a hundred blogging news correspondents whom he profiles on the site.

They are dentists, engineers, doctors and some Iraqi journalists.
Adil says they consistently scoop the likes of the BBC, CNN and the news wires, citing the bloggers’ exclusive coverage of militia groups effectively shutting down local newspapers with threats of violence to the staff and on-the-ground dispatches that often debunk official US Army reports.
"The established media has to listen to local people," Adil advises. "Otherwise, they risk getting the story wrong. And if they get the story wrong, how are policymakers going to understand the issues?"
Scalps are mounting in the West too, and the bloggers are reloading with bigger targets in their sites.

Watch for a bloody skewering on message boards, fan forums and in blogs should the national squad limp out in the early rounds of the World Cup next month. Take heed, cable company. The next time you leave a customer waiting without explanation it could land your brand in a spotlight of ignominy.
And big media, don’t for a second believe blogger scrutiny will die down any time soon. Any one of us journalists could wake up one day to see our words being dissected with attorney-like precision by a pack of agitated readers.
I, for one, welcome the post-analysis, comment and critique blogging affords.

Every citizen should have the ability to hold accountable elected officials, chairmen of the board and, yes, news columnists.
The citizen journalism revolution may be our best shot of cleaning up our collective spotty record.
A near daily supply of scandals has badly eroded the public’s faith in government, big business and media.
According to a recent poll financed by Reuters and the BBC, 52 percent of those surveyed trust what the government has to say, while 61 percent trust the media.
Among the 10 nations surveyed, Britons were most sceptical, with 51 percent believing the media and just 47 percent trusting the government. Hardly encouraging.
Can bloggers save the credibility of these once-proud institutions? Can their probing analysis of every utterance keep public officials, journalists and CEOs honest and accountable?
Sadly, the answer is no. Well, not yet at least.

According to the same poll, bloggers suffer the biggest credibility gap of all with just one in four surveyed regarding them as a trusted source of information.
Bloggers bellow that it is illogical and unfair to lump all bloggers into a single category, but, I respond, you could say the same about media and government and business.
Welcome to a club where we are all held to the highest standards. Bloggers also contend that blogs are by their very nature more transparent because they invite feedback and commentary at the end of each post.
But if a blogger’s original post is poorly sourced or misinformed – in short, bad journalism – all the comment in the world will not smooth out the original tone and somehow make it a well-rounded discussion.
No matter how unappealing it may sound, the blogosphere is duty-bound to adopt the basic tenets of journalism – identifying your sources, checking facts and never sacrificing accuracy and fairness for the sake of a "good" story.

The role of watchdog demands you be fully identifiable and accountable. (Full disclosure: we journalists need you.)" - Bernhard Warner.