Monday, August 27, 2007

Those Fabulous Men and Their Incredible Submerged Machines!

I received this email picture entitled "The Great Submarine Race!". It took a few seconds for the idea to register and I thought I'd change the title here. Take a look and figure it out yourself! I had a great laugh.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Could It Be Magic? Part 2.

I logged my last entry on the 18th August 25, 2007, regarding an unplanned trip to Malacca the week before. Since then, the days just flew by leaving little time for respite, but providing some unexpected surprises.

On the eve of 20th August 25, 2007, I attended Harakah’s 20th Year Dinner at the Grand Season’s Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. As the official tabloid for PAS, it had stood the test of time which amongst other things includes constant harassment by the Kementerian Dalam Negeri, as well as the new ruling which saw Harakah’s twice weekly editions limited to only twice a month! It was one of the methods used by KDN to reduce the tabloid’s popularity amongst politically conscious Malaysians. From a height of 350,000 copies per edition before the ruling, Harakah’s sale plummeted to only 150,000 per issue; though the effectiveness of the tabloid was curtailed, it still stands tall and defiant. Thus, the night was a celebration of not only Harakah the company, the newspaper, but also the staff who stood - rain or shine - against the adversities and injustice brought by the ruling party against the people of Malaysia.

The night events were recorded by webtv8 and I felt rather strange and left out - being a guest invited personally by Lutfi, the Chief Editor of Harakah- does have it drawback! Roslan, the wtv8 bigwig, later called me to sit with him as he too felt awkward being a mere guest and spectator while the rest of wtv8 crew was in swing.

The night may have not meant much to any one even those invited. But to me personally, it was kind of special as my birthday falls on the very next day - the 20th August! I mean, its like, gee! they're celebrating my birthday! Though in my entire life I have never given it much thought, it does make one feels warm inside. And 2 days after that, sweet and kindly Attiah gave me a birthday call! Thank you for the call, and the birthday cake you brought to the office some 7-8 years ago, thank you.

Unofficially, I am 45. Officially though, by courtesy of some mistakes made by the registration officers of the Registration Department, I will only be that on the 20th December! Hmm...I'm one of the very few people able to celebrate 2 birthdays a year. Another person sharing the same honour is Tun Dr Mahathir.

Magical was it the night of the 19th? You bet it was!

But this 2nd part is not what I had intended it to be. What I wanted to write may be something more, shall we say, magical? Sadly, I am unable to bring it out for reasons only Allah s.w.t., and perhaps I, know deep inside. It involves matter which are too confidential for other persons dearly related would inevitably be drawn into the picture. And with that, it reminds me of a silent vow I have taken years ago to keep such matters to the grave. Let Allah, in His Infinite Wisdom and Kindness be my judge. And let the pain of holding such secret absolve any and all past misdeeds I have done, insyAllah.

Suffice to say: It is to Him we came from, and it is to Him we shall return.

That is something we oft forget: the eternal world of the hereafter is many times more magical than any magics put together here: I bear witness that there is no god except Allah, and Muhammad s.a.w. is His Messenger.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Could It Be Magic? Pt1

It was originally a timeless classical piece of the past century. Sometime late 1970’s, Barry Manilow rewrote it for one of his albums. Since then, it became a piano piece which I love to play; soft beginning that crescendo to a loud ending, displaying an emotion, in motion. To me, it was beautifully rewritten. But as always, there were critics who downplayed it. Well, even David Copperfield and that Blaine guy – with all the magic and tricks up their sleeve - have no answer to critics, what else Manilow? Still, he weaved his tunes a good number of years, many which are still sung now. Magical were they? As much as I like his tunes, I’d have to say no.

Last Friday, Halim, my front door neighbour, had asked me to follow him to this healer in Malacca since he does not know the way there. Besides, it would be good for my leg, he added. Thus we left just after Subuh the next day, taking a leisure drive and reach our destination at about 9. Soon after registering our names we were informed that the clinic begins at around noon. To kill the 3 hours in between, I took him to Pantai Klebang, a beach just north of Malacca Town, one which I have not been to for several years. Now, before I continue, I’d like to explain why I had to stress Pantai Klebang is a beach.

It does seem ironic that Malacca, the supposedly cradle of Malay Civilisation in Malaysia, famed for the story of its royal court and Malay literature, is also the corruptor of the Malay language. I cannot think of other states, but it is only in Malacca where pantai – which is supposed to mean a beach – is found way inland, almost in the jungles, situated on a once lonely road that links Alor Gajah town and Durian Tunggal. If memory does serve me right, it is the village of Pantai Belimbing, an almost unknown village where my mother’s late father came from. In fact, to this day, we still have families there – rather far-flung I need to add for we may meet once every couple of years at weddings or death of a family member. Or perhaps, even the occasional Eid Fitri visits.

Back to Pantai Klebang, I had quite a shock as soon as it came into view. Due to the rapid development of the historical city, and the lack of space enclosed by the city’s boundary and the waterline of the Straits of Malacca, the State Government has embarked what I think is an over-ambitious plan to reclaim a very large part of the straits for their want to expand the size of the city. And it does so without much thought not only to ecology, historical aspects, but also to the livelihood of the coastal people and the natural beauty and attractions of Pantai Klebang.

As soon as the car pulled to a stop, Halim stepped out and rushed to the banks where a man-made structure of mountain rocks and cement blocks line the coastline kilometers long, in an effort to stop soil erosion caused by the seawater. As much needed it is, it is also quite unsightly and reminds me of the Atlantic Wall which Hitler ordered built to stop any invasion by the allied force. And as much futile the Atlantic Walls was, could this wall be too?

But the sight that caught Halim’s eyes was not the wall, but some dark dots seemingly bobbling on the water. I knew what they were on a glance for having been to here countless time, they are to me, as natural as the sand on a beach. But to Halim, it was a sight he has never seen before – some men and women walking in the water and moving parallel to the beach; each of them pushing two sticks of bamboo tied in a cross on the upper part, with a finely weaved netting tied to the bottom half. These are the catchers of geragau – tiny shrimps almost plankton-like used especially to make belacan (shrimp paste).

These catchers are heavily dressed from head to toe to protect them from the sun on the surface and the nibbles of fishes and other creatures under it. For many of them, it is a livelihood that was passed down generations ago. They work at low tide pushing their sieve-like apparatus to a distant of some 50 meters before turning back to where they started from. With no buoys to mark the boundary for each, their work is hard; depending where they started from, they inevitably will have to face the sea current.

In between one point to another, the catchers will frequently stop a moment or so to check on their netting. Sometimes, they scoop their small catch into a bag-like netting towed behind. Most of the times though, it is to clear the net from any sea debris. Yet, there are also times when they stop just for a brief respite from the raging sun, or to rest the weary legs from walking in the water where the pull of gravity can be many times heavier than on land.

Still they move on till a time of the day only through sheer experience they’ll know when to stop. When we were there, low tide was in the morning. With the sun near its zenith, several of the catchers began walking towards the beach to get back on land. That alone can be a distance of 2 or 3 kilometers. As one walked pass in front of us, I shouted to him asking about his catch. With the sound of water flopping on the rocks off the wall and the sea breeze blowing, he could not hear my question. I put forward my arms, hugging the empty space in front of me. The guy lifted his left hand, shakes his wrist and his head at the same time in a reply that is more apparent from the looks of his face…a very poor or no catch at all.

Further out to the deeper waters of the straits, 2 small boats move towards a man-made island of more mountain rocks and atop of them, a metal beam measuring several square meters sits horizontally. Somewhat in the middle of the beam, a metal structure stands vertical several meters high. Then we noticed several more of this ‘islands’ dotting the straits and stretching towards a small peninsular that marks the boundary of Pantai Klebang. These are the points for works-in-progress for the land reclamation that now haunts the ‘geragau’ catchers. In time, perhaps no longer than a year or two, Pantai Klebang will no longer have a beach and for the catchers, a traditional way of livelihood that has perhaps been passed down for centuries will disappear.

In my mind, I see the silhouette of a catcher against the backdrop of an evening low tide disappearing just as the sun would at sunset. But for the catchers, there will be no magical sunrise. For the state of Malacca and its people, another of its magical charm and identity which too few people know about will also disappear.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

webtv8 Hacked!

That's right. I had a shock when I tried to view it earlier this evening. Instead of the usual stuff, what appeared was (and still is):

Hacked By SheKkoLik & Desperad0 & SacredBoy & JacKaL & TeamTurks & DarkturK & KostebeK aL C.A.T Users.. *** Capraz Ates Team *** Turkish Islamic Security Team !

If you've read the line, you'd noticed it that the hackers claims to be from some Turkish Islamic Security Team! Bull!

For one, webtv8 had so far from my association with them, never broadcasted anything non-Islamic. And as far as my mind serves me correctly, we never covered any story within or about Turkey. Thus, why the heck, the mind does wonder, would an Islamic group claiming to be from Turkey would want to hack us? The answer is simple: The hackers are not an Islamic group nor are they from Turkey.

Then who, some query minds asked? Well, I would not speculate who, but it does seem that webtv8 has instilled some small fear within the minds of the ruling party. But I would not point my finger there just yet. In time, we will know, insyAllah.

In the meantime, for those who wants to watch webtv8, you still can do so by visiting this link . Happy viewing.

ps. by the way, webtv8 is the only tv channel listed in this worldwide site. There use to be several more namely RTM1 & 2. But they were taken off the list as they received no viewers. Not bad eh, for a group of amatuers. Alhamdulillah, I must add.

A Plea For A Noteworthy Campaign

Found this plea for a campaign at Amin , relating to the deaths of a family in Johor Bharu. The originator of this campaign is a Kak_Zar and she is being assisted by a kadetpencen in quite a number of yahoogroups. The idea behind it is to remind each of us - individuals and corporate citizens - to be morally responsible especially in matters relating to the basic needs of a family - any family - in Malaysia. I reproduce the introduction as well as the draft letter here in hope you may join the campaign as well.

"apa kata kita tak bayar / bayar separuh saja bil letrik bulan ni dan
sedekahkan kpd anak-anak yang telah menjadi yatim piatu itu? tulis
kepada syarikat letrik minta izin, kerjasama dan ehsan mereka juga..

contoh surat kepada syarikat letrik untuk merestui sedekah kepada mangsa kebakaran yang ditolak dari bil letrik anda…:"



Syarikat letrik


Sedekah amal kepada mangsa kejadian kebakaran yang telah menjdai yatim piatu disebabkan rumah mereka terbakar kerana bekalan letrik dipotong

Saya / kami dengan segala hurmatnya memohon jasabaik syarikat korporat tuan untuk menolak bil letrik kami bulan ini sebanyak RM_______________ dan disedekahkan kepada mangasa kebakaran di Kluang yang tersiar dalam Utusan Malaysia pada 9/8/2007. Kami percaya syarikat tuan yang sangat besar tidak akan terjejas dengan kekurangan kutipan hasil bulan ini dan tidak akan jatuh bankrap.

Kami juga percaya syarikat tuan amat prihatin dalam soal-soal kebajikan sosial untuk masyarakat sebagaimana yang iklan-iklan PR syarikat tuan tonjolkan didalam media mega. Kami juga percaya tuan akan merestui sedekah ini sebagai satu uasaha suci CSR syarikat tuan.

Mudah-mudahan dengan sedekah yang tidak seberapa ini syarikat tuan akan diberikan keuntungan yang lebih berlipat ganda lagi dimasa akan datang.

Sekian terima kasih."

Friday, August 10, 2007

Another Purple Heart?

When the American Independence Army was suffering losses after losses, General Washington had to find a way to boost the sagging morale of the ranks. As I remember reading it, an aide suggested that soldiers wounded while in action be accorded with a medal. Since metals and its likes were scarce and that is use as an ingredient for other needs, the first Purple Heart was made from a rag and pinned to the wounded soldier's tunic. Since then, the Purple Heart has evolved with finer materials but its purpose remains the same - a show of the country's appreciation for soldiers wounded in the battlefields. Irrespective whether the war they wage is legal or not!

It is rather unfortunate then that I am a volunteer (in military terms, I would be a militia) with webtv8 and not the US Army. For as Purple Hearts go by, I figure I would have an array of them on my chest - basically a host of misfortunes(?) that afflict yours truly while on duty. But then, as far as I am concerned, the entire US military can go jump into the Marina Trench, fully dressed in battle fatigues and their 3-day rations and all the Purple Hearts they can carry, yet not one would give a hoot. Er...Sofian my nephew should be excluded for that exercise, thank you.

Now, if you're wondering where I'm heading to, wonder no more.

While covering the MTUC Picket last Wednesday, my left leg gave away again causing a sprain on the ankle. It was, bloody painful, I don't mind telling you. But as I was trying to catch hold of Tn Syed Shahir, I shook off the pain and hobbled towards him. My mind then was totally immersed with the interview and my loathe for the SBs, that I forgot my pain totally...till I got into the car. By then the pain had subsided and when I reached home, I poured a whole small bottle of 'minyak cak kapak' hoping that the pain would cease and the ointment would 'unsprain' the leg. It didn't. Thus tomorrow, I'll be following a neighbour to see a pakcik urut in Malacca in (vain?) hope that he can 'righten the wrongs' of my leg...hehe, what a way to put it.

Anyway, all this while I thought I'm having one heck of a painful experience. Then, I came across a blog where this guy is actually suffering more! If you have time, kindly visit Let's Go and put some friendly words. If anything, just to make a guy feel good. But for heaven's sake, don't ever mention about my blog!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Who GuardsThe Guards?

Late this afternoon, Wak and I made our way to the MTUC Picket in Shah Alam. We arrived at 5 at an empty scene. As I got out of the car, I noticed 4 plainclothes police personnel hanging around at the motorcycle parking bays; in all probability, they are the local-beat based Special Branch officers. I couldn't give a s**t about them.

A few moments later, 2 guys rode in on their respective motorcycles and dressed in overalls. We exchanged kind greetings and got into a small conversation while waiting Tn Syed Shahir, the MTUC President. It was a short wait as not 5 minutes later, Tn Syed came and suddenly out of nowhere, a large group of people appeared, making their way to the corner of the section 15 roundabout in Shah Alam. In a matter of a few minutes, banners and placards were either held high or tied to the young trees on the roadside. Then, it begins...

As more and more workers congregate, so did the police personnel - uniformed and plainclothes! The plainclothes police personnel I spotted earlier, I was wrong about them, they were from Bukit Aman and were later joined by their colleagues equipped with still and video cameras! Perhaps, apart from wanting to use the pictures and videos as incriminating evidents, they would be used as intelligence gathering as well, especially for their masters - the BN. And I guess Wak and yours truly mugs are already in their books by now.

After Wak had begun taking shots from angles he fancies, we decided to get several workers on tape, in hope that viewers of wtv8 could judge from it the plight of the low-income workers. While moving from one end to the other, we noticed that the SBs were following us. True enough. As soon as we manged to pull Tn Syed aside for a short interview, the SBs homed in on us: one stood directly behind Tn Syed, taking notes of his words; one took still shots and another had us on tape; yet another one was not doing anything but just hanging around like a vulture.

Soon as Tn Syed had finished, Wak and I moved on. But I noticed those SBs were acting like secondary schoolchildren - they were exchanging notes of what Tn Syed had said in the open! Goodness! How bloody crude and unprofessional they were. Yuk!

It was then Wak and I decided to play a prank on them. We pretended to interview more workers while at the same crept closer to the other SBs mingling in the crowd. Then while I held the microphone to the SBs, Wak began taping. Hehe! You should see the surprised looks on their faces! We hounded several and each time they stepped further away from us. I mean, too can play the game. But we decided not to pursue too much. Still, we sort of promised one another to do the same thing at every event we cover.

By the way, pictures are courtesy of Harakah. Oops! Did not get their permission beforehand; hope Lutfi does not mind :)

Who guards the guards? We will, insyAllah.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Confession of A Mushy Man

Age must be catching up on me. Things which I thought no longer choke, does now though less sparing than before. Have to admit, I was never a tough guy in the neighbourhood nor in primary school. But things changed rather drastically once in secondary school though not as drastic as one would want to imagine.

It is said that we live in a cycle; as we grow older, some parts of our behaviour or character in younger days would surface again. Its like a warning for some of us that our time may soon come. Then - as they say - our life history would come rushing by us.

The other day when Jeff Ooi announced his decision to join D.A.P., I was present. It was during Jeff's speech when I spotted Ahiruddin Atan. Decided to introduce myself and as I was doing so, someone tapped my shoulder from behind and asked "Were you my junior from school?" Just prior to that, I had noticed something peculiar about this guy but could not put my finger on it. Thus when I turned around to look at this same guy who tapped me, somehow I instantly recognised him! I mean, wow! It been like 26 years since I left school and this guy 5years my senior still recognise me? But it was embarrassment that I could not remember him earlier. Afterall, he was the taiko in school.

The only reason I mentioned the above is because its related to the title and that of late, I seem to be meeting some long lost friends and cousins.

As a committee member for "Kami Perihatin / We Care" club I've just joined, I volunteered to call the broadcast media to request free airtime for the free concert we are preparing. After calling several radio stations, I decided to call TV3. The voice that answered the call sound strangely familiar. But since I was concentrating on my task, I did not give it much heed. When the extension I requested did not answer, the telephone operator asked me to call back. Somehow we got into a short conversation and before I could say bye, he called my name! I was like shocked! But he introduced himself as Sofian, the sightless telephone operator for TV3! We came to know each other when I was selling insurance and haunted the TV3 station in Jalan Liku quite regularly. MasyAllah! After a good 13 years this guy still recognise my voice! We met, what, only once or twice!

I thought the two incidence within the matter of a few days apart was getting scary already. But it got worse today. It was just after Asr and I wanted to watch the TV. Once switched on I surfed the channels and found a movie I thought I would never want to watch again - The Sound of Music!

The first time I saw it I was about 4 or 5 when we were living in Pengkalan Chepa, Kelantan. Then after several years of having shifted to KL, the movie made a rerun and the whole family went to see it again. It was only then I understood the story...and choked at several scenes. But as I grew much older, I resolved not to watch such soapy-mushy movies ever again. After all, men, must act tough. Still, there I was, glued to the TV along with emak. Never had I seen her watching an English movie so intently. Something either in or about the movie brought back lots of memories to her and yours truly. Then I realised the story of Von Trapp family and mine have several things in common, especially the final part when they crossed the Alps. I choked! In fact I began to choke much earlier in the story, as I noticed emak too did.

Getting mushy again? Perhaps. Perhaps because as age takes hold and maybe with it a grain of wisdom, I keep being reminded of a life thats constantly near its end. That, is the only thing that Allah s.w.t. promised to us: to each a life to be lived till the end. Whence? Only He knows.