Saturday, April 21, 2007

Ijok Nomination Day: A Firstperson's Account.

We were supposed to make our way to Batang Berjuntai as early as 6.30am. Somehow, we overslept. I left at 7am and the only time where traffic slowed my travel was at the Kota Damansara toll gate. It was an overcast morning with sun breaks in patches for the short distance between Kota Damansa and Rawang Interchange. And since I was going against the morning traffic, my trip was a plain sailing. At the rendezvous point, I had to wait awhile as Wak had to travel from Subang Jaya, where the traffic can still be a killer in the morning.

The town of Batang Berjuntai, Ijok, lies a mere 53km from Kuala Lumpur. Normally a sleepy, one-street cowboy town, it suddenly jumped to live as though the circus had come to town. And indeed, it was just that, a circus!

Were one to be geographically poor with a bad sense of general direction, one could have sworn had one taken a look at the town, that Batang Berjuntai is in the state of Kelantan, where the Federal Government insist is the least developed state in Malaysia. Looking at the town, I may have to agree with them; I have seen better looking towns in remote Kelantan. But Batang Berjuntai is not in Kelantang; it is, a mere stone-throw away from the capital of Malaysia, and in the state of Selangor which declared itself a Developed State. Need it be said that Batang Berjuntai is under-developed?

There were no breakfast for us that morning - all the food had been taken by the bus loads of party campaigners and supporters; we grudgingly made our way on foot to the nomination center. As we walked up the pebble-strewn streets pass by the Police Station, we were joined by the KeAdilan entourage. It was a coincidence.

As Wak began shooting the scene, I lumbered on with the microphone and its 10foot wire, as well as a stepladder. A stepladder? Yes, it was definitely a stepladder which was meant to give elevated shots for our cameras (we had 3 for that day). Unfortunately for me, it was hardly used. I felt like a BEF soldier at Dunkirk - carrying a PIAT to be used against a Tiger Tank; only glancing shots. Oh, Tiger Tanks were not deployed at Dunkirk yet then.

Halfway to the nomination center, the 2,000 odd KeAdilan supporter had to stop as the BN supporters had blocked the street with almost a Rio-like carnival. Like a stampeding herd, you need time and constant urging to bring it to a dead-stop. And that is when troubles began a brewing.

Khairy Jamaludin, in his statement to the press, blamed the KeAdilan supporters for bulldozing their way through. If any, the blame should fall on the Police and SPR for not allocating a different route for each party. Blame too should fall on BN supporters for their revelry: they did not only blocked the KeAdilan march, but they impeded on the flow of traffic as well!

As we reached the nomination center, Wak and I joined the media inside the compound of the...shoot! I don't know what building it was!, while supporters of both parties were herded onto the nearby soccer field.

As each made their way to their designated area, cheers and jeers began free flowing. Banners and placards were raised possibly as high as their spirit for the day with no quarters to be given. And I believe none would physically have been had not for the barrier and empty space placed between them. But the barrier did not stop the plastic water bottle throwing. Only Allah knows who really began it, but both sides took to it with vigour normally shown by fans of opposing soccer teams. If true as asserted by Khairy that KeAdilan supporters began it, why then is the field strewn with bottles which carrying the BN's emblem?

Now, how best does one douse a small fire from becoming a raging furnace? Water, I guess. And true enough, it began to rain. First, a drizzle, then a short burst of cold torrent which left many, yours truly included, soaked to the skin. And as soon as the FRU's rushed in to the middle of the bottle-throwing frenzy, the rain stopped, and the sun shone its fullest...briefly. Then the clouds came in again.

The SPR manager stepped onto the podium with the candidates and party officials, and announced the polling date. Soon, the crowd began making their way out of the field, leaving the media wandering and chasing party officials for their comments, while supporters of both side walked amid others who were still cheering and jeering. That, is when UMNO Youth supporters snapped.

I did not witness it firsthand but received the information from a policeman. It seemed, incensed at the jeering KeAdilan's supprters, UMNO Youth members came rushing out of their bus, carrying wooden staff and anything the could lay their hands on, and made their way towards the KeAdilan party.

The few FRU and police constables standing nearby rushed to intervene, where a scuffle or two may have broken - a prelude to a riot that may have been. Alhamdulillah, nothing untowards developed. But in his bid to rush in, a policeman suffered an ankle injury when he unwittingly stepped into a hole. In his aid, an old man standing within the KeAdilan's rank, rushed in and applied massage to the ankle.

Wak and I later trudged our way back to our cars, parked some 1 km away from the nomination center. Apart from the incidents mentioned above, there is another which did not make the news: a reporter who made his way into the nomination building was apprehended by the policemen there, simply because he was, a reporter. He was later released.

Looking back at the whole thing, I somehow felt like I was a war correspondent in a battlefield. I know I do not even come close to qualifying as such but the whole situation in Ijok could have turned ugly had there not been cooperation from the Police and opposition leaders in calming the crowd. Am I being prejudiced here? Take a look at the video footage here. Is that the way a leader should behave, any leader? Would a hungry tiger turns its back from a trapped mousedeer?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Totally Awesome!

When television was introduced in Malaysia, I was, what, 5 or 6 then? As a kid, I cannot remember much about it. But just as any kid would, I was mesmerised by the video and the sound emanating from what is now called, the Idiot Box! But back then, any family owning a television set was like, wow!

Don't really remember how many programs they had per day then. But I sure do remember several such as Dr. Kildare, Jiganto, and most especially, Jacques Costeu underwater series. I was like, totally fascinated by the oceanic life, as well as those men and women who went - literally - an ocean length to capture those creatures on film. Somehow, amongst all those creatures they managed to film, the sharks enthralled me the most. Perhaps, it was the gruesome images of the sharks feeding that did it.

As years passed, I managed to get hold of books and images of sharks, sharks, and more sharks! I was like, totally fascinated by them till, 'Jaws' appeared on the silver screen. For many years after that, I like totally terrified of it. And it certainly did not help then that, some still many years later, I was in Manila for a 2week stop-over enroute to US.

I remember it somewhat clear now as it was on the eve of Christmas; 2 ferries loaded to the brim with passengers collided of the Cebu Island, with more than 1,000 fatalities. Many who survived the collision jumped into the sea, clinging on to flotsams and debris to stay afloat. But as it was, the area was a shark-infested! And like hounds of the sea, the sharks came in great numbers, devouring the dead, and the still living; a large number of the initial survivors perished in this manner. There was a recount where a father had put his 6year old child on a flotsam large enough for a small person, before he himself was ravaged on by sharks. The entire nation was numb shocked by the news.

As it was, I was still recovering from my own trauma of an automobile accident and certain family matters. Needless to say, I was at the lowest ebb of confidence. Thus, when I boarded the plane to US some 3 days after the ferry accident, I was scared out of my wits and kept praying silently all the way through. Alhamdulillah, I survived from my personal trauma, though the accounts of my US stay was another story altogether.

Anyway, we're back in the present day, and I would like to share this video I received in an email. Its still about sharks but its nothing gross or bloody like the Texas Chain Massacre or Friday the 13th series. In fact, its a natural film shot rather accidentally by the staff of Seattle's sea aquarium. Just click on the link above and be pleasant surprised! Er...I do not mean that in a vengeful manner.

By the way, can someone kindly teach me how to add pictures to the bottom of the entry instead? Also, I need to learn how to upload wmv's and so forth; can someone teach me, please?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Home Alone...

I'm at home....alone. Its dark out there. Has to be, its night time! Hehe...

Ok, emak's sleeping over at Emi's new house tonight. Why? Well, Emi went off to Kuantan or somewhere, looking at a new landscaping project. And since his new house is still going through some renovation works, he needs emak to accompany Maya, his maid. think that's not a well-thought plan. I mean, sending emak? So I told emak "why don't you follow Emi to Kuantan and let me accompany Maya? It'll be a short break for you (and a big one for me! hehe)". Hmm... you should see the expression on her face! Hey! I was just joking!

Incidentally, I'm on MC today and maybe tomorrow as well. Had a half day yesterday, on the accounts of a fall I had on Sunday. The physical kind, mind you, and not matters relating to the heart.

It was, as usual, my left leg that had me sprawling on the road on the way back from a surau meeting. Funny thing though, the whole incident was like one slow motion movie being played. And that honestly, had me scared. Can't explain it though...don't know how to.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


In my last posting, I wrote the name of Dato' Kadir Jasin's secretary as Puan Noreha. It seem I was wrong. Dato' informed me her real name is Puan Norsiha, and that she is a super efficient lady. I do not know her personally, but from the short exchange we had, I take it she is a kind listener as well.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Historic Meet

All the familiar faces were there: Raja Petra, Dato' Ibrahim Ali, Malasyiakini team, TVPAS team, and Harakah.

It was a historic meet, between 2 political legends in Malaysia and the public. Ironically, and unfortunately, since it involved these 2 legendary figures, the mainstream media did not come. Or were told not to. A shame indeed as the 2 figures were:

1) YBM Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah was invited as the speaker for 'Ceramah Agung Tahunan 2007' at the Universiti Malaysia, last Friday, 30th March. His speech was entitled "Pemikiran Dan Visi Tun Abdul Razak Dalam Pembinaan Negara-Negara Bangsa Malaysia Merentas Sempadan Etnik". Guess the English version would be: "The thoughts of Vision of Tun Abdul Razak: Crossing Ethnic Boundaries for the Development of the Nation".

2) Tun Dr Mahatir, as the Guest of Honour.

Now, if you think I'm going to write about these 2 people, you're dead wrong.

As I mentioned earlier, the familiar faces were there. But much to my pleasant surprise, there were more!

I was with Wak Kathiran, my usual webtv8 partner cameraman-partner for this occasion. It was just before the event time and we were, as usual, talking nothing and having small laughs, when I noticed a face in the small audience. He was alone and sat noticeably far from the small groupings of people. Curiousity got the better of me, and I purposedly walk along the aisle where he sat next to. And sure enough, it was him, and he had recognised me ealier too!

Abdul Razak Abdullah, the former TV3 newscaster and reporter, was also one of my insurance client way back when I was with Arab-Malaysian Eagle Assurance (then). He had purchased 3 Child Education policy, and we were almost buddy-like, dispensing the agent-client formalities. In fact, I owe it him for assisting me getting several more clients within TV3. As it is, he was the emcee for the occasion and therefore we could not talk much but I did manage to get his number. InsyAllah, we will meet for old times sake.

By the way, he told me he had encashed all 3 policies at their appropriate due time.

It was soon after that another figure caught my attention: Datuk Kadir Jasin.

Some 2 weeks earlier, wtv8 held a public forum and had invited Datuk Kadir as one of the 4 panelists. Unfortunately, though he initially agreed, he was not able to make the forum, citing his ailing mother. Thus, when I saw him that day, I wasted no time.

As I introduced myself, Datuk seemed rather apologetic. But that was not the real reason I wanted to meet him; I actually wanted to thank him personally about an episode that happened almost a decade ago when he was heading NST.

I was with a very small agency then, and we had landed a big hotel client who had newly opened 2 resorts - one in Kuantan, and the other in Damai Laut, Lumut. It was the Kuantan resort that became the subject matter.

The agency had proposed a beautiful proposal which utilised pantone colour-mix and
the client had agreed to splash several full-page Ad in NST. Though I like the colour-mix, I hate the procedure involved for it. But, since the client's own logo was in pantone, we had no choice. The date for the campaign was set, and bookings were made with NST. Then, came the crunch!

Somehow, due to a reason which to this date I know not what, the client canceled the campaign! Horrors! It was a Saturday and NST's had a prodecure where cancelation of full-page pantone Ad must be notified 7 working days prior...that particular Saturday was 8 working days prior!

My boss tried to act cool and call and spoke to one NST officer. The officer assured my boss and asked him to fax the cancelation order. Then, another horror! The fax machine broke down at the particular moment! The time...11.55am. By the time we found out that the machine was like totally dead, the office hours had come to end. Still, my boss was coolheaded, for the period between then and the Monday preceding it. Then, he blew his top! The office he spoke to, well, he went for a 1-month course in Singapore! It seem, he left for Singapore soon after he spoke to me boss! Horrors! Horrors!

After some nasty words passed between my boss and the NST people, the latter decided that the agency would still have to put in the Ad, or pay the hefty RM50,000 where NST will run a blank page! RM50,000?!!!

Ok. I was not trying to be a hero. But I tried to put years of telephone conversation training as an insurance agent to test. I called the NST operator and managed to get Datuk's direct office and fax number. Then, told the boss to write details of this event and fax it to Datuk, while I visited another client. Well, actually, I did not. I just wanted to get away from the foul words being yelled by the boss and his wife.

I went somewhere and waited several hours. The I called the boss to confirm of the fax sent. He grumbled and affirmed the matter. I then called Datuk's office and spoke to Datuk's secretary, Puan Noreha, I believe.

cakapaje: blah blah blah blah (in the most polite manner I could).
Pn Noreha: And you faxed it to Datuk's personal fax? Oh dear! When he gets back (apparently he was away for the day), there'll be hell raised!

cakapaje: Alamak! I'm sorry ma'am. I didn't know, otherwise I would not have faxed it there!
Pn Noreha: Never mind, not exactly your fault. I'll try to get things fixed before Datuk gets back.

And true enough, she did just that and the agency was relieved of the matter. With it, off course, the matter of RM50,000. I continued my PR thingy and visited those involved to personally thank them, especially Puan Noreha. Even told my boss to send over several pizzas. Afterall, another NST officer even offered to farm out several jobs to the agency. But, my boss being my boss, he could not care much. It was not him who met the NST people personally, not his face they was mine. Needless to say, I left the agency soon after. Alhamdulillah! Above all, guess what? My boss lied to me - he did not bother to fax to Datuk!

None the less, when I met Datuk last Friday, I thank him; it was his aura that put matter to rest. It was Puan Noreha who assisted in it. At least, my conscience is clear on matters relating to this.

I have thanked Datuk on the matter. Now, for Puan Noreha: May Allah bless you for your assistance on the matter. If He permits it, I would dearly love to thank you personally, and not on the boss behalf. Thank you, ma'am.