Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hope Is All We Have....

I know Sharlinie is still out there. I pray she is still alive. I quiver thinking about her condition now, the state she is in now, if she is still alive.
It's been more than three weeks since she went missing.

I wonder -- Does she still remember her name?
Does she remember anything, anyone anymore?

I read about another child who was almost abducted in Bandar Baru Puchong at 9pm on January 21. I am utterly dismayed.
Read it here.
Two women witnessed the incident in which a 12 year-old was in a "tug-of-war" with a man who was intent on bundling her 5 year-old sister into a waiting black-coloured van.
The older girl was playing with another sibling, 7, along the walkway outside a restaurant where they had earlier been dining with their parents.
Their parents were still inside when all this was happening.
The man appeared and attempted to lure the 5 year-old with a sweet. Her 12 year-old sister saw this and pulled the little girl away.
The two women came to the rescue just as the man was about to push the older girl into the car. They must have given the man a scare because he vamoosed in the getaway van.

The girls only told their parents about their "ordeal" and rescue when they reached home.
They also said they saw a terrified little boy sitting on the floor of the van.

Of course, I have tons of questions like -- why didn't the women restrain the man or scream for help? Or why didn't they take the girls back into the restaurant to their parents? Didn't the entire scenario hit a nerve somewhere? You know -- Nurin, Nini, black van, man attempting to abduct the kids......

A police report has been lodged by the girls' parents. I hope they can locate the two women who can certainly help in investigations.

I do hope the two women were quick enough to have got the van's registration number and other details including the man's appearance.

Lucky girls!

The next child the next time though may not be that lucky...

Meanwhile, the Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar has urged Taman Medan residents to alert the police if they know of anyone who suddenly moved out of the area about the time Nini went missing.

Read the rest of the Star Online story here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tuesdays With Bapak

Darling Datuk -- January 29 2008

Bapak's youngest grandchild, Sharmaine maybe only 10 months, but she knows her Datuk is one fun guy.
Playtime with her Datuk is usually in his room. You can hear Sharmaine's squeals of laughter whenever she's there.
You'd think that Bapak is tickling her all over, or making funny faces. Well, it's nothing like that.

Just the other day, I couldn't resist peeking into Bapak's room when I heard Sharmaine squealing almost uncontrollably.
I had expected Bapak to be swinging Sharmaine around the bed, or doing a "timang tinggi-tinggi".
It was nothing of the sort. My step-mother was holding Sharmaine up on the bed and Bapak, who was lying down, was just softly calling her name.

"Sharmaine. Sharmaine. Siapa tu? Sharmaine, ya. Cucu Datuk, ya," Bapak was saying, his eyes twinkling and his face grinning.
Sharmaine was thrilled and loving every second of this little "game" with her doting grandpa. She was squealing, her little body jerking with delight.
This little scene, which takes place 3 or 4 times a day is a replay of bygone years everytime there was a new baby in the house.
Only that Bapak today is a less energetic grandpa.

Bapak was a young grandfather when his first granchild, Jasmine, was born.

Jasmine is the eldest of Kak Ton's and Abang Ani's two children. She was born in Sungai Petani Kedah when Abang Ani was a Magistrate there in 1972.

I remember how excited Bapak and Mak were the day Kak Ton and Abang Ani were expected to arrive with their bundle of joy.

During Kak Ton's pregnancy, we were coming up with all sorts of names. And they were all boys' names.

Abang Ani was driving a mini cooper and then an Opel Manta.

So, we'd come out with "Adam Cooper", "Iskandar Cooper" and "Afandi Cooper" just for fun. And then they were "Adam Manta", "Iskandar Manta" and "Afandi Manta".
We never counted on Kak Ton delivering a baby girl.

Oh, I'd be using superlatives just to describe how my parents doted on Jasmine. They simply adored their first grandchild. The way grandparents did their grandchildren.
As for Jasmine's aunts and uncles - they spoilt her rotten.

I was in form five then. Kak Ton did not have a nanny yet by the time she had to resume work after her maternity leave. So she'd leave Jasmine in Mak's care. Somehow I got to babysit Jasmine throughout her stay at our house. I'd bathe her, put her to sleep and play with her until Kak Ton came to fetch her.

I enjoyed taking care of her and would rush to be with her the minute I got home from school. Even after she finally got a maid, Kak Ton would still leave Jasmine at our house. Invariably, it would be Mak who'd be taking care of Jasmine.

It was like that with every grandchild.

When my eldest nephew, Irwan Hakim, was born, we were all ecstatic. Not surprising that he was a little king in section 16. We'd "kidnap" him every chance we could.

In our household, the youngest grandchild gets to enjoy superstar treatment. He or she gets to ruffle or pull Bapak's hair or mess up his work desk. Older ones ONLY get to mess up his bed or bedroom. That had always been the unwritten rule.

Lalin's youngest child, Sonia, is still very attached to Bapak and Mak Cik. She is the second youngest grandchild and still gets the privilege of "monopolising" Bapak's TV remote control. I have caught Bapak many a time watching "Totally Spies". One cartoon programme after another.
Never mind if a special programme on Benazir Bhutto was on BBC.

While Bapak was under ISA detention, only one grandchild was born-- Kak Ton's second and youngest child, Jehan who was born in 1977.
After Kak Ton's "confinement", she took baby Jehan to see Bapak regularly until Jehan was three years old. That was when Kak Ton was transferred to Johor Baru to be Bernama's Johor bureau chief.
By that time, little Jehan had already got to know her Datuk.

In 1980, Kak Olin completed her law studies and returned home. She got married soon after, while Bapak was still in detention.

I was still in Boston then and returned home just a few days after her wedding. I also missed Kak Eda's engagement ceremony which was a day after Kak Olin's wedding reception.

Kak Olin's eldest child -- Khairil Ahmad -- still retains the honour of the grandchild most spoilt by Bapak.
When he was born in 1981, the only other grandchild around was Irwan who was, by that time,
already schoolgoing.
Kak Olin stayed at Bapak's during her "confinement" and when she had to get back to work, she'd leave Khairil with Mak.
As I was still single and was living with my parents, I'd be the one who'd be babysitting him. Khairil grew to be pretty attached to me. I adored him.

Bapak was the quintessential doting grandfather. He broke every rule on parenting. He seemed to hold on to the maxim that grandfathers exist to spoil their grandchildren.

He'd take Khairil to Jaya Supermarket everyday to buy him....a toy. Khairil had He-Man, Transformers, dino-riders, star-com and lego...and all manner of toys. You name it, and Khairil would have it.

Kak Olin would be shaking her head and would be making such a fuss about Bapak's over-indulgence with Khairil.

"Stop spoiling him, Bapak," Kak Olin kept reminding Bapak.

Did Bapak listen? Did he even care?

If Bapak today is as active and energetic as he was in those "Khairil" days, Sharmaine would be one very spoilt little lady.

I do believe I can hear a sigh of relief from Nina...my youngest sister and Sharmaine's mummy.

Monday, January 28, 2008

No Buy! No Lies!

A "Paper Free Tuesday" was launched at Blog House in Bukit Damansara today.

This is part of the "Boycott the Newspapers" initiative undertaken by 8 individuals concerned with the way the "mainstream media" spin news reports which "do not always tally with the facts".

Lawyer and social activist Haris Ibrahim of The People's Parliament blog , who is a committee member writes about it here.

Farewell Felix..

Public Relations practitioner and former journalist Felix Abisheganaden passed away this morning. He was 85.

He was founding partner of Prestige Communications.

Before opting to become a PR practitioner way back in 1976, he was News Editor with the NST --at that time the country's largest national daily. He had held the position for over 25 years.

He joined Hill and Knowlton and became its chief executive in 1985.
At Prestige, he served as counselor for strategic planning and corporate communications.
He had a fortnightly column, "Human Factor", in the NST.

Here's a bit written about him when he was a speaker at an international forum a few years ago:

"Felix Abisheganaden belongs to that singular breed of journalists, ‘local boys’ who made good and helped shape a generation of journalists in the country after independence. He was a news editor, in the then Straits Times in Singapore and the then New Straits Times in Malaysia for 14 years. He believed in on-the-job training having had the credentials of personal experience to show for it.
He chronicled the nation's first two Prime Ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tunku Abdul Razak extensively during those heady days of a newly independent nation out to chart its own destiny. During that time, he was also the Malaysian Correspondent for Time Magazine.

As a journalist, he was in the frontline of a series of major events covering the 12-year Communist insurgency, confrontation with Indonesia, the split with Singapore and the 1969 racial clashes in Kuala Lumpur.
After the 1969 racial clashes, Felix was appointed member of the National Goodwill Council, which helped restore order in the country."

My condolences to his family.
May he rest in peace.

Read Bernama's story here.



11 Participants of Protes Rally Freed

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 27 (Bernama) -- Eleven of the 56 people arrested Saturday for participating in an illegal assembly at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) have been released unconditionally, the police said.
The other 45 were still being investigated for participating in the illegal gathering and for defying court order, said a statement from the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters.
"They were also arrested for obstructing public officers from discharging their duties," the statement said.
Meanwhile, the proceedings to obtain remand orders for those who were still under police custody were still progressing at 8pm tonight at a Kuala Lumpur court, with 13 of them had already been issued with the remand order until tomorrow.
Yesterday, police arrested 56 people including several opposition leaders and members of the non-governmental organisations (NGO) for participating in the illegal assembly which they said was to protest against rising cost of living.-- BERNAMA

Let's hope the rest will be released real soon!

Across The Universe - The Movie

Ok, so I'm a bit behind. I didn't know it was the fall (autumn) MOVIE in the US last year, and that people raved about it. Somewhere between last fall and January this year, I got left behind.

But, I did get to watch it.
I'm talking about "Across the Universe" - a movie directed by American Julie Taymor.
I mean, how could anybody pull this one off? You could really go wrong making a musical featuring 33 Beatle's numbers, including a few not-so-known songs.
The songs were re-recorded and sung by the actors.
Taymor more than pulled off this 60s musical fantasia (aptly described by the New York Times).

I therefore watched the movie without prejudice.
Needlessly to say, I fell in love with the movie. More and more, every second I sat there, watching. I laughed, I wept and most of all, I sang along.

The songs accompany unfolding scenes, some of which are lightly fictionalised historical events such as the civil rights movement and anti-war protests in the US. And of course, there is a lot of love.
Hey, all we need is love, right? Imagine that.
The characters take on names featured in or are titles of Beatles' songs.
The story revolves around Jude (Jim Sturgess), a Liverpool dockworker who falls in love with Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), a girl for upper-crust east Coast suburbia.

It's very 60s. You get taken on this psychedelic trip with Jude and Lucy. You get to see a Jimi Hendrix and a Janis Joplin lookalike too, though not in those roles.

Sure, there are imperfections, but I can't seem to remember them. After all, if Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harris have found nothing in the movie that they dislike....

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Suharto Dies



FORMER Indonesian President Suharto died at the Pertamina Hospital in south Jakarta at 1.10pm local time (2.10pm Malaysian time) after slipping into a coma earlier today. He was 86.
The announcement was made by former Minister of State Secretariat Moerdiono over a local radio station to the nation after a team of doctors treating Suharto since Jan 4 confirmed the death of the former Indonesian strongman.
Suharto helmed Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous nation, for 32 years from 1966 to 1998.
Suharto had been in critical state since admission to the hospital on Jan 4.
Earlier today, the team of specialists attending to Suharto said the former president's condition turned very critical at 1am, with all his vital organs having failed.
Suharto was breathing with the help of a ventilator, they said.
Moerdiono said Suharto's children were at his bedside when he died.-Bernama.

Al- Fatihah!

Read about his legacy here.

Police Vs The People

I don't know how else to put it!

Court order against the 5 Protes representatives preventing them from being at the the KLCC and its vicinity yesterday.

What was the protest about -- anti-price hike, anti-inflation et al.

What is wrong with that?

And then the police rounded up 50 people and arrested them.

Do that more often until election day... do that.

Read it here.

The protesters are not the bad guys.....

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Police Warns PROTES 5

There's a court order against the rally planned by NGO Protes to be held in front of the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) today.

This is to protest against the rise in prices of goods.

Police have named 5 Protes representatives -- Dr Hatta Ramli, Tian Chua, Arutchelvam Subramaniam, Simon Ooi and Ronnie Liew -- and warned them against taking part in the rally.

Dang Wangi police chief ACP Zulkarnain Abdul Rahman said if they ignored the order, they could be detained immediately.

Police obtained the court order from the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate Court yesterday.

Here's the rest of the Bernama story:


The (court) order was also relevant for any associate member of Protes and anyone suspected of participating in the rally, he said.
Zulkarnaian said the police would put up copies of the order tonight in the vicinity of the area where the rally was likely to be held.
"The police have designated two restricted zones within a one-kilometre radius of the KLCC building encompassing Jalan Ampang, Jalan Lumba Kuda, Jalan P. Ramlee and the area around the KLCC Assyakirin Mosque.
"If they defy the order, the police will not hesitate to take stern action," he said.- BERNAMA

But, Polytikus is inviting everyone to experience democracy. Click here for more.
And don't miss Rocky's 2-sen here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Nini, Where Are You?

It's been more than two weeks that 5 year-old Sharlinie Mohd Nashar has been missing.

Much has been done in efforts to find her. Still, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.
But let's not lose hope. I know we're still holding on...

I hope too that the police will not give up.

I'd like to suggest - as is being done under AMBER Alert and the proposed NURIN Alert -- that the police (IGP, OCPD or some high-ranking officer) get some air-time and "engage" Nini's abductors.

Not, ad-hoc responses to the Press. But, arrange for a programme to really "talk" to the abductors, tell them to not harm Nini and to let her go because the whole country is on the look-out for Nini and them.
In other words, issue them a warning.

Put the fear of (not just the police) but the people in them!

This tactic seems to have been effective in the United States when AMBER Alert is activated in the event that a child goes missing.

The community can do its part every effectively by knowing their own neighbourhood and neighbours. In some instances - though this is not the done thing here -- residents help in the search for a missing child by going door-to-door.

Most often, residents willingly open their doors.

This could be unlawful but for the sake of a missing child, most people cooperate with their residents' associations.

I think if every neighbourhood's Rukun Tetangga or residents' association initiate this -- check every house including vacant houses --we'll get somewhere.

If no one is home, leave a note to the absent occupant, or return to that house to make a check.

I'm sure there's a way of going around this.

And this is not a lot to ask from the community, let me assure you.

We have to help find Nini before it is too late!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Condolences

Former Cabinet Minister Megat Junid Megat Ayub passed away after "subuh" today. He was 65.
He had been battling prostrate cancer for some two years.

Megat Junid was the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister between 1997 and 1999 and Deputy Home Affairs Minister for 11 years before that.

He was also Umno information chief.

He was also active in sports associations and headed the Malaysian contingent for the Jakarta South-East Asian Games in 1997.

He leaves behind two wives, Faizah Shuaib and Ziela Jalil, as well as five children -- three sons and two daughters.

My condolences to his family.

Al-Fatihah...

UPDATE

According to Bernama, Arwah was buried at the Bukit Kiara Muslim cemetery after Zuhr prayers.
Here's the Bernama story.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Get Ready!

Never mind when the general election is, just get ready to go out and VOTE.
It is anytime soon and I am all ready.

Are you?

This will be the first general election I am NOT covering as a journalist (with a mainstream media).
The first GE I covered was in 1982 when Dr Mahathir Mohamad had just taken over from Hussein Onn as Prime Minister and Musa Hitam, was his deputy.

Together, Dr M and Musa was dubbed the Two Ms and they traversed and toured the country expounding and exhorting the slogan the BN coined -- "bersih, cekap dan amanah".

That was a household slogan.

When Dr Mahathir announced the date of the GE that year, I was assigned to Alor Star where Dr Mahathir was campaigning.

I was, of course, a little nervous. Kedah was pretty alien to me. Strange it may seem for anyone in this day where a foreign country is just a click away, but Kedah was to me a faraway place where people spoke differently, ate different food and where even the currency was foreign.

I had lived in Petaling Jaya for some 23 years and the only northern state I had been to was Penang (in the north).

Okay, so I had been to the United Kingdom and had studied in the US but I had not been to Kedah.

I went to Penang as a child some time in 1962 or '63 to visit Mak Busu (my mum's youngest sister) and her husband Ayah Chu who was sent to the island to assume a post at the Penang Port Commission.

All I remember was that people there had a strange accent.

Of course, I knew many Kedahans-- at ITM (my room-mate, Naimah, was from Kedah) and at work.

But, I had never been to Kedah.

By the time I got to Alor Star, I was fine. My senior colleague, Zainon Ahmad (Pak Non) was already there, having been assigned the more important task of assessing the situation.
There were also my colleagues Farush Khan (then the state correspondent) and Balan Moses who was the NST journalist in Alor Star.

With me from KL were Kadir Jasin (then associate editor of Business Times) and Nazri Abdullah who was Berita Harian journalist.

So, I was really in good company. Thanks to all of them, my assignment was a lot of learning and very gratifying.
And yes, I learnt to use "kupang".
It was a good experience.

And that seems like just yesterday.

So today, I am just waiting for the announcement on when I can go to Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Sultan Abdul Samad in Section 11, Petaling Jaya.

There will a booth with a ballot box waiting for me!

THAIPUSAM -- A Celebration of Faith

Today commemorates the day Lord Siva's consort, the powerful goddess Parvathi, gives her son, Murugan, the vel (lance) to vanquish three demons and their large army which were plaguing the world.

Thaipusam falls on a full moon day in the auspicious 10th Tamil month of Thai when the constellation of Pusam, the star of well-being, rises over the eastern horizon.

For me, I often think of the Batu Caves temple near the city where devotees converge for as long as I can remember.

I was there for three consecutive times as a young reporter assigned to cover the festival. At one occasion, I interviewed a priest there who told me why and how he embraced hinduism.

The first time I was there, I almost fainted when I saw - at very close range -- devotees with their bodies pierced as they made their way up to the caves. It was an experience.

The Batu Caves temple began to attract devotees as early as 1892 when two Tamils (among the earlyTamils who migrated to colonial Malaya) trekked up the ancient limestone hill and planted a vel in the cave.

The cave now houses a temple dedicated to Lord Murugan.

The vel, made of metal and shaped like a lance, symbolises Murugan who is also known as Velan.

Today, the tallest statue of Lord Murugan stands at the foot of the hill.

To my friends celebrating Thaipusam and those enjoying the holiday, may I wish everyone a Happy Thaipusam!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tuesdays With Bapak

Back In '73 -- January 22, 2007

Years ago, I enrolled at Institut Teknologi Mara (now Universiti Teknologi Mara or UiTM) in Shah Alam for pre-University studies.
It was not my plan actually because all I had wanted to do was the the regular thing most kids did after their form five -- do sixth form.

Since Kak Olin wanted to study for her LLB (law) after her HSC and Kak Eda, architecture -- both at ITM -- Bapak thought it best that I applied there as well.

You see, studying at ITM was not in my scheme of things, It was in Bapak's.

I was not interested in doing a professional course. I wanted to continue sixth form, sit for my HSC and do a degree.

(Kak Eda and I had both sat for our MCE the previous year.)

Bapak knew that, of course. But I think he wanted to support ITM, in his own way. Kak Olin had also applied to University of Malaya to do English Literature for which she was offered a place. After some discussion with Bapak, Kak Ton and Abang Ani (Kak Ton's husband), she opted to do an external degree in law at ITM. Kak Eda and I both got a place in a Petaling Jaya school to do sixth form. But Kak Eda opted for ITM.

There is sixth form at ITM?
Bapak knew about ITM's pre-University course that prepared students for HSC and about how good the lecturers were.

He asked me whether I wanted to do my pre-U at ITM. I was at first reluctant because the idea of having to stay in a God forsaken place like Shah Alam was not appealing at all. Eventually I agreed after reading about the course in the ITM prospectus. But mostly, I think Bapak convinced me about the merits of studying there. Also Kak Eda had impressed me on "campus living".

You know, campus vs school.

"You'll learn to be independent...make your own decision. Anyway, Kak Olin and I are there," she said. And did I mention that I had three cousins and a few close friends from Singapore there as well?

The snag was that I had not submitted my application early enough. Kak Olin and Kak Eda had already submitted their application to ITM. I hadn't because studying at ITM did not figure in my (own) academic plan.

I was late in sending my application although I did not miss the deadline. The reply also came late. Actually very late because I missed orientation week.
In fact, I thought my application was rejected. But I was called just at the end of the orientation week for freshies.

In those days, there was orientation which was akin to "ragging" but I think a little milder. At least for the girls. I don't know whether there is still now at UiTM the kind of "orientation" that "siswa-siswi ITM" had in my day.

Kak Olin and Kak Eda came home the weekend after Orientation Week and told me stories about what they had to go through the whole week. Real horror stories although it was easy to see the funny side of things when they were well and over.

Kak Eda seemed to have got more "teasing" than Kak Olin.

During Orientation Week, the "siswa" and "siswi" were made to wear "uniforms". The boys in batik and songkok and the girls, also in batik baju kurung and scarf.

They had to wake up for the "kuliah subuh" and attend talks at the lecture theatres all day long (with solat breaks) during which they would be at the mercy of the "senior ladies and gentlemen". Which means that the hungry seniors would pick you out from the whole mass at random or otherwise, for several reasons -- 1) they liked your face, 2) they didn't like your face 3) you looked like easy game and 4) you were from PJ or KL, an "anak Lord" or royalty.
Or for all of the above.

If you were smart like Kak Olin was, you'd try to be as inconspicuous and invisible as possible. Be a mouse. Be nothing. Be quiet. Boy, if they only knew......

So, Kak Olin got away with the not being "ragged" while Kak Eda got pretty much the routine treatment although the seniors weren't sadistic or mean to her. She was lucky.

One thing that came out of the Orientation Week was that my two older sisers were called Jawa Murtad or JM for short. Kak Olin was JM1 and Kak Eda was JM2.
I think this happened because we had some "saudara-mara" who were already senior students there.
Some of the seniors also called my sisters Jaling (acronym for Jawa and Mendahiling).

Let's just say I was quite prepared for the full monty when I finally went to Shah Alam to begin my pre-University studies. But that never quite happened.

However, before long, the very same seniors who called Kak Olin and Kak Eda Jawa Murtad found out that there was another JM. And that was me. So, I was JM3. But since orientation week was over, I escaped the hard stuff.

But not so at my hostel (hostel 2C) after some seniors saw me arriving by car. Nothing serious, though. One "garang" senior lady named "Sam" who was doing business studies, decided that this new freshie must be easy game and"summoned" for me.

Oh...I played the part of the new kid on the block pretty well. Speak when spoken to. Don't be a smart aleck. Just be sweet. Before long, I was "declared a junior".

At that time (in 1973), Bapak (then managing editor of NST) was one of the "professional lecturers" at the School Of Mass Communication which he had helped set up.
He'd be at the 13th floor (the MassComm floor) of the multi-storey building some week mornings to lecture news reporting and language translation.
I think he was a hit with the students for very known (not unlawful) reasons but which I cannot mention.

Now, how could I have known that some of the MassComm students would actually know the three of us.

In my first month there, a certain guy (son of a then sitting Ruler who shall all remain unnamed) got to know me and we became friends.
According to him, we had actually met in my neighbourhood which apparently also happened to be his neighbourhood. He was not lying because I did remember the incident but not him although by the time he related it to me, it all came back. So, we were actually neighbours.

It was pretty innocent as far as I was concerned. But he must have had casual conversations about me with his classmates who happened to be my hostelmates. I suppose, him being who he was, an exaggerated version spread around like wildfire.
The story was that we were a couple. Which was not true.

Someone or some people in the School of MassComm must have mentioned this to Bapak.

When I was home that weekend, Bapak asked me if I was "going around" with a certain anak Sultan. I told him the truth and said that there was no such thing.

He did not press further. I did ask him who had been telling him this tittle-tattle. He didn't name anyone but told me that I had been seen with this guy in question.

"Just friends. Nothing to it," I said. But, really, what was wrong with being seen with anyone. It was campus. I guess, as far as Bapak was concerned, anyone was not just anyone.

The following week, he sent someone to fetch me home from campus and got Kak Piah to take me shopping for material to make baju kurung.

"Bapak wants you to wear baju kurung in campus. He has given me some money and instructed me to take you shopping to buy materials and then to take you to my tailor to make baju kurung," Kak Piah told me when I reached home.

I was, to say the least, stumped. What was all this about? What was wrong with wearing t-shirts and jeans. This was college, after all. Besides, I had a few sets of baju kurung. In fact, really nice ones.

Kak Piah said I needed some for daily wear not formal silk ones.

"But why.....what have I done?" I asked, so bewildered, so despondent. I felt I was being punished for something I had done but I had no inkling what it was.

And then I asked: "What about Kak Olin and Kak Eda? Aren't you getting for them as well?"

Kak Piah shrugged her shoulders and said she had no idea why Bapak's instruction to her was to make baju kurung for only me. Only moi.
But I knew that she knew why.

I was a little upset. How could Bapak curb my dressing? What was wrong with jeans and t-shirts and skirts?
I was only 17, fresh out of secondary school. It was 1973. It was the era of James Taylor, Carole King, Jackson Browne and ...Led Zeppelin, Crosby Stills Nash and Young (CSNY), Three Dog Night, Grand Funk Railroad, Deep Purple.....

Baju kurung in campus? What will Bapak make me wear next, I shivered just wondering about it.

Most importantly, I kept wondering "why, why, why...."

When I told Kak Olin and Kak Eda, they tried to console me.

"Maybe just for a while," Kak Eda remarked.

So, the obedient me did as I was told. I had five or six "pasang" of baju kurung made and I wore them over two weeks.

Bapak still had not told me why. I had figured out but I was not entirely sure. Mak, however, confirmed my suspicion. It did not make sense at all to me then. Was I supposed to be making a statement with my dressing?

"You did nothing wrong. He just feels that you need to be less conspicuous," Mak reasoned.

So, I reasoned that everybody else was wearing jeans and t-shirts and very casual clothes.
Mak said that Bapak thought it best that I dressed in a way that would not attract anyone's attention, so that I would not be distracted and I could concentrate on my studies.

"Itu punish-lah," I told Mak. As far as I was concerned I had not caught anyone's attention, I was not distracted by anyone or anything and I was able to concentrate on my studies.
I told Mak that if I wore baju kurung, I would really stand out in a crowd of jeans-and-tshirt students.

"He wants me to dress modestly.....," I thought aloud. Mak smiled.

I was prepared for further instructions to make more baju kurung when at the end of the second week of my "punishment", Bapak took me aside. I was home for the weekend.

He told me that I did not have to continue wearing baju kurung in campus if I did not want to. He said it would be good to wear them occasionally. I nodded. But I needed to make one thing clear to him.

"Ena tak ada boyfriend di campus," I said. He leaned back on the chair, and, well....chortled. It was not a mocking chortle but more like telling me "yeah, yeah....maybe not now.."

Well, I did not have a boyfriend and that was the truth. At least at that point in time.

I had always liked wearing baju kurung. Even then. It was having to be forced to wear it that bugged me. If I were forced to wear t-shirts, I'd just as much protest. Besides, I was aghast that anyone would even think that my dressing was in any way responsible for anyone's reaction to me.

I was all of a youthful 17, remember?

Needless to say, I continued wearing baju kurung. Only on Fridays, though.

I might have not understood Bapak's intention then. I realised that he was a little worried for me although he really did not have to be. I learnt to appreciate his act of being fatherly but never stopped wondering why he handled his "fears" -- whatever they were -- the way he did.

So, one day I asked him whether we were still living in a feudalistic world...

Monday, January 21, 2008

"Fairytale Kampung" Wedding for Ning Baizura and Englishman

Whatever that is, you may wonder.

Exactly what it says -- "fairytale kampung wedding". Just let your imagination go wild, although I think it needs little imagination.

This fairytale kampung wedding will be an informal affair, according to her.

Yes, our very own Diva Ning Baizura is to wed her fiancé Omar Sharif Christopher Layton Dalton.

According to the Star, she wants her wedding to be a "fun event". It will incorporate the Malaysian concept of gotong royong.

Ning is 32 and her fiance is 33.

The Star spoke to them when they were at a fitting for Omar at Lord’s tailor in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

Here's the rest of the story by Rubin Khoo:

To create the atmosphere, Ning and Omar have used the concept of village life for the decor of the wedding, which will include the construction of a wooden house for the bersanding ceremony, set to take place at the Matrade Exhibition and Convention Centre on Feb 2.

The ceremonies are planned on different days to ensure that there will be a build-up to the bersanding. The celebrations will begin on Jan 29 with the berinai, and the akad nikah and a private reception will then take place on Jan 31.

For the bersanding, the couple will wear three outfits. The first will be the traditional outfit of the state of Pahang, designed by Riezman & Ruzaini. Next, Ning will wear the Java Ceribon outfit - because of her Javanese heritage - created by Jovian Mandangie, and finally, she will wear a colourful gown designed by Michael Ong while Omar will complement her with a suit by Lord’s.

“I didn’t want to wear white because it is so clichĂ©,” she said.

The artiste will, however, not be taking time off from her career as her English album is planned for a March release.

Ning met Omar, a 33-year-old gas and consulting manager from England, in September 2006. The couple were engaged in July last year.

Since their engagement, he has been adjusting to the fact he was marrying one of the nation’s biggest celebrities.

“I accept it and go with the flow.”

---------

Well, I wish the couple all the best and hope that their wedding will really turn out as they had planned it to be.

And...aaah... Ning has Javanese in her blood..

Looking For Nini -- Police Check 10,000 premises

If the police continue to do this -- going door-to-door to look for Nini who has been missing since January 9 -- I have no doubt that they will find a lead or 2...or Nini.

I have to believe that she is alive -- somewhere. I pray that she is safe and sound. Like the rest of you, I am also always on the look-out. Who knows....

Meanwhile, according to the NST, police have visited more than 10,000 houses and buildings in the (PJ) district since 5 year-old Sharlinie Mohd Nashar (Nini) was abducted.

They have drawn up a list of possible hide-outs of her abductors.

Read the story here .

To Debug Or Not To Debug...

People's fear of being watched by spying or prying eyes is real after the DVD sex scandal of former Health Minister and MCA leader went public recently.

Convince them all you want that no hotel would allow their guests' privacy to be violated by compromising security, they're still wary.

In case you didn't know, this is a very hi-tech world we live in. Anything can happen. Sometimes, anything goes. And if you don't already know, some not-so-strange things have happened before our very eyes.

That's why debugging equipment or battery-operated spy camera detectors have seen brisk sales.
Read here.

It's not just hotels. It's anywhere and everywhere. Meeting rooms, houses and apartments, offices -- people are really paranoid.

According to Bernama, some 1,520 units of a spy camera detector, called Shieldbug, has been sold in the past one week.
Shieldbug weighs only 25 grammes and about the size of a car remote control.

Nada Sepakat Corporation (M) Sdn Bhd is the sole distributor of the gizmo.
Its chief operating officer Al Hardy Fakharuddin said the comapny stared marketing Shieldbuf last month but after Chua's scandal hit te headlines, sales went up. Like really really up.

Al Hardy said Shieldbug is compact, easy to use and effectively scans for hidden wireless pin-hole spy cameras.
It is an Australian product manufactured under licence in China and currently retails at RM277 per unit.

Now, before you rush to buy one, consider what counter-espionage expert Akhbar Satar has to say.

He told the Star, in an interview recently, that it's
always best to get the professionals to sweep the room or building for you.

“Those detectors are like cheap toys and there is no guarantee they will work,” said the former Negri Sembilan Anti-Corruption Agency director who is a certified fraud examiner as well as a forensic polygraph examiner.

Read here for the story.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Thaipusam To Be a National Holiday?

UPDATE (Sunday, Jan 20, 7pm)

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has declared Thaipusam a public holiday in the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya from this year.

Thaipusam falls on Wednesday (Jan 23).

Bernama quoted the PM as saying that the government made the decision "in respecting the request of the Indian community and the Hindus in the country".

Thaipusam is currently a holiday in Selangor, Penang, Perak, Negeri Sembilan and Johor.

Read the Bernama report here.

Also, what Rocky has to say in his Bru, here.

And Barisan Nasional gets the Indian votes, says MIC president S Samy Vellu who thanked the PM for that decision to declare Thaipusam a holiday in KL and Putrajaya.

Read here.

MY EARLIER POSTING:

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has given an assurance that he will consider declaring Thaipusam a "national public holiday" after approval from the Cabinet.
MIC president S Samy Vellu has thanked the PM for this.

Here's the rest of the Bernama story datelined Kuala Lumpur, Sunday, Jan 20:

"It will be a long-awaited decision to have Thaipusam declared a national holiday or even a public holiday for the Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory," Samy Vellu told Bernama.
Samy Vellu said he contacted Abdullah in Madrid from New Delhi recently to request him to consider declaring Thaipusam a public holiday and this was followed with an official letter to the prime minister.
Abdullah was in Madrid for an official visit while Samy Vellu was in New Delhi to attend the People of Indian Origin Conference.
Samy Vellu said the MIC has been asking for Thaipusam be declared a public holiday for more than a decade "but now we are confident our request will be fulfilled".
He said Thaipusam is currently a holiday in five states, namely Selangor, Penang, Perak, Negeri Sembilan and Johor.
"More than 1.2 million Hindus converge at Batu Caves every year for Thaipusam from all over the country. As such, it will be good if Thaipusam is declared a national public holiday," Samy Vellu said.
Samy Vellu said he raised the matter with the Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Zulhasnan Rafique at the last Cabinet meeting to have Thaipusam declared a public holiday at least in Kuala Lumpur.
"I will raise it again at the next Cabinet meeting," he added.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Always My Little Boy...

We - my son, Adel and I - were watching a DVD -- "The Pacifier" at home the other evening. An old film but we just picked it out from our collection of DVDs for no good reason at all.
At the end of the movie, Vin Diesel and his leading lady Lauren Graham kissed.
Instinctively, I put my hand over Adel's eyes. Then, as quickly, I took my hand away, remembering that he is not a little boy no more, for heaven's sake!

Oh. Call me old-fashioned or stuffy. Whatever. And I don't know why I would always do that, although that was not a regular occurence.

But, just as I was taking my hand away, Adel remarked:

"Mummy, I'm going to be 18 in a couple of weeks...". He wasn't irritated. In fact, he seemed so amused by it all.

I almost slapped myself. I felt a little embarrassed for that unnecessary display of "over-protection".
My little boy is going to be 18! Did I know that he went through 15,16 and 17?

Why.....it was just yesterday that I changed his diapers! And how I remember him holding my hand ever so tightly as I led him into his kindergarten classroom which must have seemed to him to be a strange new world.

He is a big boy now. He's grown to be a very thoughtful, considerate and responsible son.

A man.

And soon he will be flying the nest...sigh!

Too Little Too Late?

Let's hope not.

I'd like to think that it is never to late (for anything) if it means there are people who will benefit from it.

According to Bernama, MIC president S Samy Vellu said today that the party had applied (to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) for an annual allocation to conduct economic, educational, social, housing and health-related activities as well as skills training for Indian youths.

He said the party made the application three months ago.

Here's the rest of the story:

Samy Vellu said Abdullah was deeply concerned with issues facing the Indian community, especially in getting employment with the public sector.
"The Prime Minister agreed to act and we believe he will have the answer soon," he told reporters after presenting certificates to contractors who attained the ISO 9001:2000 certification via the "Do It Yourself" 9001 CIDB scheme.
He refuted claims by certain quarters that the Indian community had remained backward despite 50 years of independence.
"The many Indian graduates, teachers and businessmen are proof that the community has progressed but the opportunities may be limited. We will try to help the youths so that they will have a brighter future," he said.

I'm just hoping that the allocation goes to where it is supposed to go!
I hope this is not election balderdash!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Yezzaa, Lingam?

We must give it to Mr V. K Lingam of that Lingam video clip. And we can all learn something from him if we're ever caught in a similar situation.
You know, not actually denying, but no, no...not admitting at all.

That man that looks like him and sounds --"correct, correct, correct" -- like him...in that contentious clip, was just that.

From the Sun:

Commission member Datuk Mahadev Shankar asked Lingam's lawyer, R. Thayalan, if Lingam admitted it was him who appeared in the clip.
"Is it your position that your client is not him in the clip?" asked Mahadev.
"He said it looks and sounds like him in the clip," replied Thayalan.
Mahadev pressed Thayalan further and asked if Lingam admitted the details which appeared in the transcript was uttered by Lingam.
"I have to take instructions from him, but his stand now is that it looks and sounds like him," replied Thayalan.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

One Week, Still Missing

MORE UPDATE:

Today (Thursday, Jan 17), I heard over the radio that the police are getting Interpol to help in Nini's abduction case. There is fear that Nini may be smuggled out of the country and the Malaysian police want help at the border exit points to ensure that this does not happen.

Meanwhile, just an aside -- I wish the newsreader (LiteFM) stops referring to Nini as a "toddler". She isn't. She is five years old. A little girl but not a toddler.

UPDATE


According to Bernama, police today re-arrested the woman whom they had earlier released .

The woman, a foreign maid was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of spreading false information on the abduction of 5 year-old Sharlinie Mohd Nashar who had been missing since Jan 9.
She was released at 5pm today but was re-arrested on suspicion of criminal intimidation.
Selangor CID chief SAC II Mazlan Mansor told Bernama that the case was being investigated under Section 507 of the Penal Code because investigatins showed that the text message sent to Sharlinie's family conain elements of criminal intimidation.

Meanwhile, the two security guards who were arrested to assist police investigation into the assault and murder of 8 year-old Nurin Jazlin Jazmin last September and several other molest cases around the Klang Valley were freed today.

Read the rest of the story here.

MY EARLIER POSTING:

It's that terrible sense of frustration and helplessness all over again when Nurin Jazlin went missing last August.

It's been a week now but nothing has come up yet on the whereabouts of 5 year-old Nini (Sharlinie Mohd Nashar.)

God Almighty -- while we are all looking for her, please protect her from evil!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tuesdays With Bapak

Kawan Lama - January 15 2008

Bapak seemed chirpy Sunday morning. You can tell. His eyes were twinkling, and he wore a cheeky puckered "smile". You know, like there are delightful things on his mind.

He told my step-mum that he would like to meet his old friend Rosihan Anwar (from Jakarta) who was in town.

Now, that was really something.

It is very rare that Bapak asks to take him somewhere, to meet someone.

In the wee hours of Sunday morning -- past midnight to be exact -- we were in Bapak's room after returning from the "Tokoh Wartawan Dunia Melayu" Awards dinner which was held at Armada Hotel in Petaling Jaya.

The awards were presented by the Persatuan Bekas Wartawan Berita Harian.

It was not a lavish extavagant event but nevertheless, memorable for me, at least. I got to meet many old friends who are ex-journalists - my seniors at New Straits Times Press. Some of them were already senior journalists when I first joined NST in the late 70s.
Most of them had worked under Bapak when Bapak helmed Berita Harian in the old days.

Bapak was named one of the eight recipients of the award. He could not be there to accept the award due to his frail condition.
Nina accepted it on his behalf.

The awards were presented in association with journalists' bodies in Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei.
Two eminent journalists were chosen from each country. The other Malaysian recipient was Mazlan Nordin.

Pak Rosihan and Tarman Azzam were named the Indonesian recipients while from Singapore were Sulaiman Jeem and Othman Wok and from Brunei, Ahmad Arshad and Fatimah Md Nor.
The only other absent recipient was Othman who was not well.

I felt so nostalgic yet so delighted to have met my old ex-BH friends. I could not recognise some of them as they seemed to have aged.
I'm sure some of them could not recognise me.

They were really precious moments for me because I don't know when I'd see all of them again. I know it's silly to feel that way, but really....time flies so fast and before we know it, everyone's gone.

Nina says I'm so morbid.

I went to the dinner with her husband (Mack) and our step-mum. I drove us all to Armada and I drove us all home.

Strange. By midnight, Bapak would usually be asleep. But when we reached Bapak's place a little past midnight, he was still up.

Nina showed him his award. Aah, that same "puckered" smile.

He feigned ignorance as though he knew nothing about it. We could tell that it was his "clear & lucid, sharp & alert" moment because he seemed anxious to know details about the event. He just could not sustain his pretence at not knowing about the award.

Yeah. There are times he cannot fool us.

Before he could say anything, Nina told him this and that person "kirim salam". He seemed visibly pleased, and nodded and grinned.

"Siapa lagi?", he asked. We rattled a few more names that we remembered. He smiled.

Then Nina said that Rosihan Anwar, his old friend from Indonesia was there.

His face lit up.

"Papa ingat dia?" Nina asked.

"Yes....he was there?", he asked.

We told him that Pak Rosihan was one of the two recipients from Indonesia.
(Pak Rosihan is the doyen of journalism in Indonesia' and one of the republic's most vocal journalists.)

"He remembers me?" he asked.

I told him that Pak Rosihan had asked about him and was a little disappointed that he was not there.

I caught a faraway look in his eyes.

What could he be thinking of?

Bapak must have reminisced and reflected on the past. That was why later that morning, he was all ready to be driven to Armada to meet his old pal.

His kawan lama. His rakan seperjuangan.

For, Pak Rosihan (standing at right) it was a delightful surprise when Bapak turned up at the third floor of Armada Hotel to meet him.


Yes. it had been so so long.

Monday, January 14, 2008

N.U.R.I.N Alert Is In Place, Says Shahrizat

YES! We are so glad this is happening. We are so hopeful that NURIN Alert becomes an established mechanism and part of a system in the search-rescue-saving of missing children in the country the soonest possible.

This will go a very long way to help find and save missing children.

We could not help 8 year-old Nurin Jazlin who went missing for 28 days before she was found battered, and dead. At least there is hope that we can now save 5 year-old Nini who was abducted on Jan 9 and is still missing.

NURIN Alert is for Nini and missing children in the future.

NURIN Alert is a bloggers' initiative.

When Nini disappeared I texted Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil saying that it was all the more compelling, with every new case of a missing child, to have such a thing as NURIN Alert in place.

She replied with a firm "YES!"

I'm pleased that it was not lip service on Shahrizat's part. When we (Shahrizat, Tell Magazine's Roundtable comprising Tell's publisher Wahti Maidin, writer Mustapha Maidin, Jasni Abdul Jalil who is Nurin's uncle and Citizens for Nurin Alert's deputy chairman, crime analyst Kamal Affandi, two NGO representatives including a lawyer, journalist/blogger Ahirudin Attan and I) met late last year to discuss what should and could be done in the aftermath of Nurin's murder, Shahrizat was responsive to the proposal by Citizens for Nurin Alert (and here) that an alert system/mechanism modelled on AMBER Alert be in place.

And immediately after Nini went missing, Shahrizat was already activating the alert.

I was indeed heartened when LiteFM flashed Nini's picture and details on its website and Celcom sent SMSes to its subscribers about Nini's disappearance.

So here's the report in the Star (datelined Kuala Lumpur).

A system to immediately alert everyone when a missing child case is reported is already in place, said Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.
She said this could be seen in the case of Sharlinie Mohd Nashar where various groups, including the media and the community, were coming together quickly to locate her.
“We are awaiting the Cabinet’s approval before formally implementing the system,” she said yesterday (Sunday) after launching a Nur Sejahtera health event at Desa Pantai flats in Pantai Dalam.
She was asked to comment on when a system such as the Nationwide Urgent Response Information Network (Nurin) Alert would be implemented to help locate missing children without delay.
The Nurin Alert was first suggested following the murder of eight-year-old Nurin Jazlin Jazimin who was abducted and her body was found stuffed into a sports bag a month later last September.


Nurin’s uncle Jasni Abdul Jalil and several bloggers drafted a proposal on the Nurin Alert and submitted it to Shahrizat’s ministry late last year.


In the United States, the Amber (America’s Missing: Broadcasting Emergency Response) Alert is a warning system implemented to immediately trace missing children via a comprehensive network involving authorities and the community.
It was named after Amber Hagerman, nine, who was abducted and murdered in Texas in 1996.
Shahrizat said lessons were learnt from Nurin’s case and efforts to locate Sharlinie started earlier, including the immediate distribution of posters.
“Police have also taken quicker action and there is more involvement from the community and non-governmental organisations.”

A Very Bad Morning....

I must apologise to the young lady at counter 7 of the third floor (bahagian pekerja asing) of the Immigration Department at Pusat Bandar Damansara.
This morning, I snapped at her. Which is something I had never done to any counter clerks at the immigration department, only because I had never faced any rude ones.
And this young lady was not rude. In fact, she knew her job. Perhaps better than her immediate superiors.
It was just that she was beginning to assume that typical government counter clerk's "I don't have time to deal with your problem" tone on me when handling my "transaction" today.

This episode today had to do with my application for a work permit for my new maid.
You see, everything was in order. Or so I thought.
Let me also say that this morning was my third visit to the foreign workers' division of the Immigration Department since my maid arrived here last month.
And certainly, will not be the last.

I have been unlucky to have been referred -- twice during separate occasions --to two low-ranked immigration officers who were incapable of making decision on the status of my maid's work permit application.
And these officers, sadly, happened to be female.
To me, they might as well have remained counter clerks.
During both (separate) occasions, these officers were not able to assess my application on a "case-by-case" basis.
The first time was in 2003. When an officer I was referred to, could not resolve my simple predicament, I was faced with a "road block". Any decision she could have taken to enable me to proceed with my application would not have broken any law in the country.
Still, she was not able to make decisions beyond the cut-and-dry slip-ups. Anything beyond that was incomprehensible to her.
So I had to resort to asking my immigration department contact to help me which is something I was always hesitant about doing.
My contact was a little surprised that I was faced with a road block so he willingly helped.
(Still, to this day I think it was so unnecessary that I had to resort to asking for help from an "orang dalam")

The second "encounter" with another low-ranked female officer (she was a supervisor, actually), was on Dec 31, 2007 when I was going to have my maid's work permit stamped. That, of course, did not happen.
That became my predicament and explains my 4 exhaustive visits to the Indonesian Embassy to have my maid's passport extended.
That in itself was a problem because I had to explain to the Indonesian Embassy officer why my maid's still valid (it expired November 2008) passport had to be extended in order for her to get her permit (which expires December 2008) issued and stamped in her passsport.

Apparently, the immigration department will not issue an 11-month work permit (instead of the normal 12-month validity) for first-time work permits such as in my maid's case when the expiry date of her permit would have exceeded the expiry date of her passport.
For first-time maids, their work permits will be effective from the day of their arrival in this country.
In my maid's case, she arrived her on Dec 3, 2007.

And apparently, the Indonesian Embassy does not extend the expiry date of valid passports.
My maid was instead, on January 11, issued a spanking new passport which expires in 2010.

I have never relied on any third party to deal with this. All these years, I have been doing it myself. And this has been since they first started legalising illegal immigrants in 1991.
So, this is familiar ground to me.
And I thought for immigration officers too.

When my maid got her new passport, I was pleased but was a bit sceptical about the Malaysian immigration side.
I sensed that the immigration department would still find something amiss because her old passport, under which everything was applied with regards to her employment, was now invalid as it had been cancelled.

I knew somehow that something was not right but I could not pin point what it was.
Would I have to re-apply for her permit all over again?

I was at the third floor of the department in Pusat Bandar Damansara at 7.45am today. I immediately took a number (4003).
At 8 sharp, the counter opened. The first number was 4001.

In less than 10 minutes, I was called. So far so good, I thought.

I told the young lady what I was there for, handed my maid's old and new passports. She looked and flipped through the passports, and asked again what my application was for.
I explained. She finally understood but said that she could not issue the permit because my maid's medical report was under the old passport so I had to go to Fomema....
I told her that her medical report was made when her old passport was still valid so, couldn't they....
That was when she began to assume that, er...unpleasant tone. And that was when I snapped and told her that all this should have been told to me that day on Dec 31 2007 when I was asked to make that RM100 special passs to extend her one-month temporary visit pass, that day when I could not obtain her work permit and was asked to extend the validity of her passport.
You know, so that I could have got the Fomema thing settled before coming to the immigration department.

Sensing my exasperation, she said very gently that I should see "the pegawai" inside because, really, there was nothing she could do. I suppose that was the only other option.

Aah..the same "pegawai" I was referred to that very same day too. The one whose instruction his female subordinate quashed and threw out without any hesitation. And that explained why I had to have my maid's passport renewed.
Nevertheless, I went into the waiting room. I was ready for a fight.
But he was not in.
I took a seat and while waiting for him I called Fomema and someone told me to just have an amendment made so that the number of my maid's new passport would replace the old one.
She asked me to bring my maid's new passport as well as copies of the first and last page of the passport. And in three hours, I could go to the immigration department and get the work permit issued.

Fomema was just at the end of th building so I decided to have that settled.

I've come to the conclusion, that there was really nothing that "pegawai" could do, anyway.

If I had to have that Fomema medical clearance attached to her valid passport done, then I'd do it.

At Fomema, it took me less than 10 minutes to have my maid's Fomema report amended to include her new passport number.

I'm sorry, folks, to have to lay all this on you. But you know-lah. I thought the Immigration Department practises ISO standards. So, it should have procedures in place to deal with "special" or the non-run-of-the-mill cases.
Its officers should be adept in dealing with "glitches" faced by members of the public. They should be effective and capable of making decisions on indvidual cases.

Oh well....laying all this on you guys has been cathartic.
That's what blogs are for, right?

So, until my next visit to the immigration department....here's wishing your day has been good!
And I once again apologise to that young lady whose day, I hope, has not been spoilt.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Nurin's Murder: Man Arrested In Chow Kit

Kak Ton alerted me to a Star (online) report about the arrest of a man in connection with 8 year-old Nurin Jazlin's murder.

The report, datelined Petaling Jaya, said that the man was arrested in Jalan Chow Kit in Kuala Lumpur.
Nurin's brutalised and ravaged body was found in a sports bag on Sept, 17 last year, about 28 days after she went missing near her home in Wangsa Maju.

Here's the rest of the story:

Police believe there may be links between her case and that of five-year-old Sharlinie Mohd Nashar, who went missing on Wednesday, and the case of the so-called "Kampung Baru molester."
Sharlinie was abducted in Taman Medan, just a few kilometres from where Nurin's body was found.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan Musa confirmed the arrest in Johor Baru after visiting Johor MIC headquarters, where MIC state deputy head Datuk S. Krishnasamy was shot to death on Friday.
To assist their investigations, police on Sunday brought five kids believed to have also been victims of the Kampung Baru molester, to a building in Kuala Lumpur.
It is believed that Nurin was held there by her abductor.

Let's hope the police will get something substantial on which to go on.

Journalist Extraordinaire Rosihan Anwar ..


...and a living legend.

Meeting him was the highlight of my evening at the "Tokoh Wartawan Dunia Melayu" awards dinner at the Armada Hotel in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

I did not know that Pak Rosihan, Indonesia's foremost journalist was one of the two Indonesian recipients of the award.
After finding out about it from the evening's programme, I asked Norshila, one of the Persatuan Bekas Wartawan Berita Harian (PBWBH) members whether he was around.
She said he was but did not know where..
I just looked around and spotted him seated at a corner, having a chat with someone.

I must meet him, I told myself. At least to say "hello". And to kirim Bapak's salam although Bapak did not know that I would be meeting Pak Ros.
I had no doubt that Bapak would be happy to know that I'd met his old friend -- his sahabat seperjuangan.

I had met Pak Rosihan some time in 1981 when I was in Jakarta as part of the media delegation covering the first official visit to Indonesia by a Malaysian Head of State who at that time was the Sultan of Pahang.

It was my first overseas assignment and I believe it was just after Bapak was released from ISA detention.
Bapak had asked me to contact him, though I can't quite remember about what.
I got Pak Ros' telephone number from an Indonesian journalist.
I got to see him and he was very pleased to meet one of Bapak's children.

I believe there was (and still is) mutual admiration between the two men of journalism.

I made my way towards this gentle-looking elderly man. He was in conversation with someone. He looked up. I offered my hand and introduced myself.

His face lit up. He asked how Bapak was as he was aware that Bapak could not be there to receive the award.
(My youngest sister, Nina, received the award on his behalf.)
Pak Ros spoke in impeccable Indonesian-accented English (He studied at Yale university in New Haven and Columbia University in New York).
He said he remembered me.
"You came to my house in Jakarta years ago?" he asked.
I said yes although in my mind it could have also been Kak Ton who was in Indonesia in the late 80s to cover the Golkar elections.

He introduced me to the man he had been talking with.

Pak Ros asked me about Bapak and whether he was still writing.
He seemed a little sad when I said that Bapak had not been writing due to his frail condition.
"How is his mind? Still sharp?" he asked.

"Yes...but he has his moments," I replied.

I asked him how he was.
"I'm fine, considering my age", he replied. "I am older than your father by three years".

If he had not said so I would have thought that he was younger than Bapak.
He certainly belies his age -- all of 86 years.

Time did not permit me to spend more time with Pak Rosihan, Indonesia's renowned journalist and author .
Another time, I hope. Another place, certainly.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

PM Flies to Spain To Attend A Forum

Hola!
It's his first overseas trip this year. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi arrives in Madrid tomorrow to attend the two-day annual First Alliance of Civilisations (AoC) forum.

The forum, hosted by the Spanish Government, begins from Tuesday (January 15). It seeks to find ways to bridge the growing divide betweebn nations and cultures worldwide to establish new partnerhsips to promote global understanding.

Click here for the Bernama story, "PM Kicks Off 2008 With Madrid Visit, First Overseas Trip".

VIPs Visit Nini's Family

The family of missing girl -- 5 year-old Sharlinie Mohd Nashar or fondly called Nini -- has been receiving VIPs at their home today.
Prime Minister's wife, Jean Abdullah was there to comfort Nini's mother, Suraya Ahmad,.
So were Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and Selangor Menteri Besar Mohd Khir Toyo and his wife Zahrah Kechik.

Jean told Suraya to be patient and to pray for her daughter's safety and said that her husband always prayed for Nini's safety.

Nini has been missing since Wednesday (January 9) when she was abducted at about 11am at a playing field near her home in Taman Dato Harun in PJS.

Later, speaking to reporters, she appeald to the public to be the eyes and ears of the authorities in helping to find Nini.

See here for the Bernama story.

Shahrizat called on all Malaysians to help look for Nini and reiterated her appeal to Nini's abductors not to harm her.

Khir Toyo said that the Selangor Government would immediately begin installing closed-circuit television cameras at all public playgrounds as a safety measure.

See here for the story.

I'm just so glad that Nini's family is getting moral support from the VIPs. More than that, "everyone" seemed to be involved in the search for Nini.

I won't cast any doubt on the sincerity of politicians (or their spouses) given that the general election is drawing so near.
I can vouch for Shahrizat because she had been untiring in efforts to introduce child protection measures.

It's too late and useless to mull over Nurin's brutal murder. But just a thought....if only it had been the same for Nurin.
Be that as it may....as I have often said. Let her death not be in vain.
And, thankfully, it was not.

God Almighty, please protect little Nini...

Activating (NURIN) Alert for Nini

NURIN Alert - a group of concerned citizens advocating an alert system in finding, locating and saving missing children -- is pleased that Celcom, LiteFM (and its sister stations), television stations and the print media have taken prompt pro-active measures in complementing police efforts to find 5 year-old Nini (Sharlinie Mohd Nashar) who has been missing since she was abducted at a playground in Taman Dato Harun (PJS) on Wednesday (Jan 9).

NURIN Alert pro-tem deputy chairman Jasni Abdul Jalil said in advocating the introduction and implementation of NURIN Alert (modelled on AMBER Alert, the original US mechanism), it is hoped that these bodies continue unabated in volunteering to fortify efforts to save Nini in the shortest possible time.

(AMBER also stands for American Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response while NURIN stands for Nationwide Urgent Response Information Network.)

The action by Celcom and the broadcasting and print media is key in activating a system like AMBER alert on which the proposed NURIN Alert is based.

This will go far in the search and rescue for Nini.

NURIN Alert is pleased with the swift and serious action by Women, Family and Community Development Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil in appealing to TV stations to flash Nini's picture as often as possible and in warning her abductors not to harm her.

NURIN Alert believes that time is key in the seach for Nini.

All that had taken place since Nini was reported missing on Wednesday has demonstrated the mechanism by which the proposed NURIN Alert works.

With new cases of missing children, NURIN Alert feels that it is all the more compelling that an alert system such as the proposed mechanism be swiftly put in place.

At this stage NURIN Alert is working closely with the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, a corporation and a unit of the Royal Malaysian Police as well as a group of professionals to make NURIN Alert a reality.

NURIN Alert (formerly called Citizens For NURIN Alert) was formed following the death of 8 year-old Nurin Jazlin Jazimin in September last year.

Nurin was abducted on Aug 20 near her home in Wangsa Maju. Her brutalized body was found stuffed in a sports bag at a shoplot in PJ on September 17.

It was felt that not enough had been done to search for her and to save her in the 28 days that she went missing.

A mechanism based on AMBER Alert should be in place "to save the next child" as AMBER Alert had proven to be highly effective, and thus, successful in saving he lives of missing children.

Nurin's death should not be in vain. NURIN Alert is named (with her parents' blessings) after her and is in her memory.

NURIN Alert's pro-tem committee comprise chairman Kamal Affandi, Jasni, and committee members Nik Farez, Nur Azrina Abdul Samad, Hanizah Hashim and Nuraina Abdul Samad.

For more on NURIN Alert, click here, and here,.
Read also Tembam for an education.

A Date With LiteFM...

Well, that's the truth.
I was invited to have breakfast with LiteFM at "Tongkah Bean" coffee house of the Impiana Hotel, KLCC at 10am today.
I'm not sure who will be there -- could be Simon or Caroline or both as I was invited by them when I called to give my views on an issue they raised on their breakfast show one morning early last month.

I'm taking my friend, Mia, as I am allowed to bring one person. My daughter Shaira and Mia's daughter, Liyana will also tag along and have breakfast at the same coffee house but will not be sitting with us.

My son, Adel, who has taken a temporary job at Lavand (a shop selling baklava) in Megamall, Midvalley will be taking a ride.

So, gotta go.....

UPDATE:
Mia, Shaira, Liyana and I arrived at the hotel about 9.45am and made our way to the coffee house.
LiteFM had five tables for its "winners" -- listeners who tuned in and took part in something or other.
Met fellow listeners Nesen and his nephew, as well as Nesa, her husband and kids. Also met old friend Adi (also of LiteFM) and her mum, Emilia (a former RTM TV broadcaster).
Adi used to work with my sister's company, Media Strategy (which I have taken over) when it first started in 1990/91. She had just finished high school. It was a temporary job for her.
I remember her lovely voice everytime she took calls. She'd say :"Media Strategy, Good Morning/Afternoon".
So, it was not surprising to any of us when she became a DJ with Time Highway Radio later.

Of course, we got to meet Simon D'Cruz, LiteFM very popular DJ.


Wondering where he was, I turned around when I heard a familiar voice. It was his, and it was as though someone had turned the radio on.
We said "hi" and introduced ourselves.
He looked very casual in a white collared t-shirt, dark trousers (not sure if they were jeans) and wearing a white cap.
But Caroline was not there as she was on leave.

Breakfast was excellent. The company was good and fun.
Simon was great. Got some "goodies" from LiteFM.

Now, I must mention here that I laud LiteFM's part in helping in the search for 5 year-old Nini (Sharlinie Mohd Nashar).

If you click on its website, www.litefm.com.my, Nini's picture will flash, with some details about her. It is the same one that Celcom is flashing to its subscribers.

Kudos LiteFM and Celcom.

Suspect In Johor MIC Leader's Murder

The main suspect in the murder of Johor MIC deputy chief S. Krishnasamy is an Indian man of medium built and about 152cm tall.

According to Johor police chief Deputy Comm Hussin Ismail an eyewitness saw the man, who was dressed in a black shirt and jeans, running away from the state MIC headquarters in Jalan Segget here.
He was, carrying a package and a helmet.

“The man fled the scene in a red motorcycle heading towards Jalan Wong Ah Fook,” he told reporters at a press conference at the state police headquarters here late last night.
DCP Hussin said police recovered a slug believed to have been fired from the murder weapon.

Read the Star report here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sir Edmund Hillary Dies...


The man who conquered Mount Everest has died.

According to Associated Press (dateline Welington, New Zealand), Sir Edmund Hillary still insisted on being called just "Ed".
He was 88.
New Zealand's prime minister announced the death today, saying Hillary was "the best-known New Zealander ever to have lived."
Hillary and his Nepalese mountain guide, Tenzing Norgay, reached the summit of Mount Everest in 1953. Hillary says they snapped pictures as proof of their achievement before descending the slopes.
Back at base camp, Hillary famously declared: "We knocked the bastard off."
Until Norgay's death in 1986, Hillary refused to confirm that he was first, saying they'd reached the top as a team.
After Everest, Hillary pioneered a new route to the South Pole.
And despite his achievements, he described himself as an ordinary beekeeper.

Johor MIC leader shot dead

What's happening-lah?
I hope the PM's promise "for drastic action" against crime is for real. Criminals seem to be so brazen, like they really couldn't careless about the law or/and getting caught.

Here's a murder case in Johor:

Tenggaroh State Assemblyman Datuk S. Krishnasamy was found shot dead inside a lift at the MIC building in Jalan Segget this afternoon (Friday Jan 11).
The 61-year-old politician was found slumped in a pool of blood about 2.10pm by MIC officials.
It is understood that earlier, Krishnasamy, who was also MIC state liaison deputy chairman, was headed towards the second floor of the building to attend a liaison meeting.
Johor police deputy chief, Datuk Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Sharif said a special unit was set up to investigate the murder.
He appealed to the public to let the police probe the killing and not to speculate on its motive.
R. Vithiya Mohan, the Johor Puteri MIC chief, had found the body in the lift. No weapon was found near the body.
According to a witness, a man was seen leaving the place hurriedly on a motorcycle.
Krishnasamy is the second MIC state assemblyman to have been shot dead. In November 2000, Lunas state assemblyman Dr Joe Fernandez, 54, was shot by a pillion rider on a motorcycle when he stopped at a traffic junction in Bukit Mertajam.
Krishnasamy, who is also a member of the MIC national central committee, became the state assemblyman for Tenggaroh in the 2004 general election.
He was also the MIC Labis division chief.
Taman Datuk Chellem MIC branch head S. Arumugam said before Krishnasamy entered the MIC building, he (Arumugam) had lunch with him at a restaurant in Jalan Trus, about one km away, together with three MIC divisional heads.
"We just chatted...Datuk (Krishnasamy) had nasi campur," he said.
After lunch, Krishnasamy excused himself as he wanted to attend a meeting at the MIC building and left in another car, he said.
Arumugam said upon reaching a car park outside the MIC building, he heard two women crying in the building.
Vithiya, meanwhile, said she wanted to take a lift to go to the 5th floor but was shocked to find that a body was slumped against the wall in the lift.
Police said they were investigating whether Krishnasamy carried a gun himself.
His body was taken to the Sultanah Aminah Hospital for a post-mortem.-Bernama

When Bapak Presiden SBY came a-Visiting...

I just happened to be at the Indonesian Embassy this afternoon, accompanying Daniri, my maid who had to collect her new passport.
I was minding my own business, reading the latest "Economist". I decided on a more colourful take on life, and took out my not-so-latest "O" magazine.
I was enjoying that bit about what you should say if your best friend hates your partner/husband....

We were in the embassy's new air-conditioned "passport renewal/collection" area on the left side of the embassy building that has 25 counters and about 500 seats.
Our number was 4170 and the numbers on the screen were going very fast. It was 2.45pm.
Then I sensed some activity in front.
I looked up (my reading interrupted) and saw a couple of official-looking men in dark coat&tie pacing up and down in front of the counters.
I heard them saying something aloud to the people seated in front but they were inaudible. Then they signalled to the counter officers/clerks to turn off the screen and cease operations.
One official took the microphone and announced that Bapak Presiden would be visiting this very new area which he said represented the much improved operations of the embassy's delivery system.
All this was new and it was for the people, he added.
He asked for two "volunteers" - a man and a woman -- to come forward to be the ones who would be receiving their new passports from the President.
Nobody came forward because I suppose, they were too excited to comprehend the purpose of volunteering.

The official explained again. This time, I think they all understood.
A man and a woman came forward. Everyone cheered.

"Namun begitu, bukan saya ingin memperjodohkan kedua-dua mereka ini..." Laughter...

The official said Bapak Presiden would be arriving at 3.30pm. Meanwhile, he appealed for his fellow countrymen and women to be "tertib".

"Kita harus nunjukkan yang kita ini rakyat yang tertib dan rakyat yang baik. Kamu jugak pahlawan, walau bukan di medan perang, Namun pahlawan jugak karena bekerja keras di negara ini demi mengirim wang untuk keluarga tersayang. Bukan?"

"Iyaaah!", came the thunderous response from the crowd. Gemuruh, I'll say.

No. Bapak Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono did not turn up at 3.30pm but at 5pm.
The crowd got very restless by about 4.40pm. A couple of children were fretful and wailing.
Two or three guys started drumming the chairs. Some others made funny "fed-up" noises.

And then a flurry of activity at the right-hand door. There had been some false alarm when a couple of security officers in coat&tie walked into the room.
This time it was for real. Cameramen and journalists walked through the door, followed by a few officials. A couple more camermen, and then it was the man of the hour Bapak SBY -- the Bapak Presiden.
All exasperation at having to wait for him was forgotten as everyone stood up, cheered and clapped. An excited Daniri included.

Bapak SBY stood out from among the delegation. I'm saying this because the Indonesians around me were not sure who's who.
He was tall and elegant and was the only one wearing a songkok. He was accompanied by his wife, Ibu Kristiani Herawati and several officials.

He presented the passports to the two beaming Indonesian nationals and a few in the front row managed to shake his hand. Bapak Presiden also managed to have a few words with a couple of them.

Those around me got their handphone cameras out and started clicking away. I tried with mine but I gave up as I was sure the pictures would turn out poorly.

Bapak SBY then gave a brief impromptu/informal speech to the more than 500 Indonesians in the room.
SBY said he was happy to see that they were being given good treatment and prompt service at the embassy in improved conditions.
This was what he had suggested when he visited the embassy in May last year.

He also told them the primary purpose of his visit to Malaysia -- to hold talks with his Malaysian counterpart on the protection and treatment of Indonesian workers in the country.

The current situation was mutually beneficial to both countries, he remarked with Indonesians benefiting from having employment and Malaysia benefiting from a workforce to help in its economic development.

But he appealed to Indonesians in Malaysia to respect the country's laws and customs.
He said there were some 1.2million Indonesian workers in Malaysia. With such a huge number, some of them were bound to face problems.

He said their problems could be resolved through the proper channel, as judiciously as possible, and as long as they did not commit criminal acts, the Indonesian government would do all it could to protect them.

SBY also told them that he had met with their fellow Indonesian Nirmala Bonat -- the maid who was allegedly abused by her employer in 2004.
He was pleased that the process of law was taking place with regards to her case.

Before he ended his speech, he declared (to the Indonesian nationals) : "Kami semua sayang pada kamu dan mahu melindung kamu!" (We all love you and we want to protect you!)"
And of course, a thunderous applause followed.

And what about Daniri's and everyone else's passports?
As soon as SBY and his delegation left the room, the screen was switched on and it was back-to-work-as-usual.

We were out of there in 20 minutes, new passport and all. With 25 counters, you can expect speedy service, I tell you.
And Daniri, was one excited lady.

For Bernama's update on SBY's visit to Malaysia, click here.

Nurin Alert For Nini..

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil has her pulse on the case.
She has already come in to say her piece.
And she is doing what they do in countries including the United States that have adopted the Amber Alert -- by having the picture and details of the missing child widely publicised to ensure that she or he is safely returned in the shortest possible time.
In Malaysia, there is a group called Citizens for Nurin Alert, advocating this system.
As Amber Alert was started in memory of 9 year-old Amber Hagerman who was abducted and brutally murdered in Texas in 1996, it is hoped that 8 year-old Nurin Jazlin's death will not be in vain. Nurin Alert is being advocated in her memory and to save other children, like 5 year-old Sharlinie Mohd Nashar or Nini who has been missing since Wednesday.

In the absence of such an alert system, Shahrizat is certainly trying her best to "alert" the nation.
Ok..the police are hunting down the abductior/abductors so, on her part, Shahrizat is making an urgent appeal to the media to highlight Nini's disappearance.
To flash her picture every hour or half-hour "so that everyone will know and remember her face.
"If we have learnt anything from Nurin's case, it is that time is of the utmost importance and we don't want Sharlinie to be in any danger," she was quoted to have said.

Shahrizat also said she had asked Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin to publicise Nini's disappearance.

"We also want to remind the abductors not to harm her," she told a Press conference at the Petaling Jaya district police headquarters yesterday.
(Reminding and warning the abductors is also part of how enforcement agencies manage Amber Alert.)

Shahrizat was with Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan, Petaling Jaya Selatan MP Donald Lim and Taman Medan Assemblyman Abdul Wahab Ibrahim.

For the rest of the story, click here.

Well, I say Kudos to Kak Ijat!
And that it gets more and more compelling with every new case of a missing child that we have such a thing as Nurin Alert!