Here In My Home - Malaysian Artistes For Unity

Friday, 28 December 2007

Why do we read Quran, even if we can't understand a single Arabic word????

This is a beautiful story of an Old American Muslim who lived on a farm in the mountains of eastern Kentucky with his young grandson. Each morning Grandpa was up early sitting at the kitchen table reading his Qur'an. His grandson wanted to be just like him and tried to imitate him in every way he could.One day the grandson asked, "Grandpa! I try to read the Qur'an just like you but I don't understand it, and what I do understand I forget as soon as I close the book. What good does reading the Qur'an do?"The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and replied, "Take this coal basket down to the river and bring me back a basket of water."The boy did as he was told, but all the water leaked out before he got back to the house. The grandfather laughed and said, "You'll have to move a little faster next time," and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again. This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he returned home. Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was impossible to carry water in a basket, and he went to get a bucket instead. The old man said, "I don't want a bucket of water; I want a basket of water. You're just not trying hard enough," and he went out the door to watch the boy try again.At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got back to the house. The boy again dipped the basket into river and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather the basket was again empty. Out of breath, he said, "See Grandpa, it's useless!""So you think it is useless?" The old man said, "Look at the basket."The boy looked at the basket and for the first time realized that the basket was different. It had been transformed from a dirty old coal basket and was now clean, inside and out."Son, that's what happens when you read the Qur'an. You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, you will be Changed, inside and out. That is the work of Allah in our lives."
Sourced from my friend's blogspot.

Year End Thoughts

Well today is the last day of me working in 2007 and 2008 is already in the horizon. That means that I will only be one year away from the big Four Zero and I hope that after that I will have at least another forty years of good health and happy life. Anyway next year my younger daughter will start her kindergarten after pestering all this while that she wants to go to school. I hope she likes it and not get too turned off with studying because personally I believe that five years is a bit too young to start schooling but the thing as it is that she is now actually lagging behind some of her age group and will start classes with those of four years old. And I hope this time the elder will start waking up to her responsiblities as a student and start working hard to achieve good results as she does have a good mind, only she still lives in a dream world of her own.

I am also happy to mark this occassion with my hundreth posting on this blog. I hope those of you who have visited would at least obtain something to chew over after reading the postings. I may be writing things that the Malay term syok sendiri is most appropriate to define with, but I do hope that there is at least a nugget of knowledge to gain for you kind readers. Well I look forward to post more of the syok sendiri postings but I do hope those of you who visit would be able to enjoy it. Thus I bid you a good new year and I hope you will gain whatever it is that you strive for next year. Cheers!

Monday, 24 December 2007

Museum Walkabout In Port Dickson

Over the long weekend I went to my wife's kampong to celebrate the haj festival and took the opportunity to go to a museum visiting round in Port Dickson. More famous for its beaches, you would not usually think of going museum visiting there but since it was a short trip and we were already tired from the beach trip to Kijal previously, I thought my family and I should finally take the opportunity to visit the Lukut Museum and Army museum that we tend to ignore in our previous travels to Port Dickson.

The Lukut museum now incorporates the entrance to Kota Lukut fort itself so do not be misled by the road sign that shows the the fort to be further up the road. Although on the surface the museum looks well maintained, I am afraid that the fort itself is in disrepair with the signage virtually non existent. So what is left are basically remnants of the forts and ex-water storage pits that is quite dangerous if you do not take the necessary precautions. In fact I had the rare experience of releasing a monkey that fell into one the water pits by shoving a bamboo pole I found in the area into the pit so that he can climb it to get out. On the museum building itself, the exhibits was interesting but there were only three small galleries to look at so the visit can be done within half an hour only. The sad part was that only two galleries was dedicated to the history of Lukut while the other featured the royal lineage of the Negeri Sembilan royally that I felt was inappropriate to be located here.

After the museum visit, we went to have a short visit to the beach before visiting the army museum. We went to our regular eating place at the Pee Dee cafe at Batu 4. Even after visiting a small temporary shopping arcade set up there for the holidays we still had much time to spare so we crossed the road and visited the beach. My kids were only able to play the sand at the beach as we did not prepare swimsuits but I must say that the local council had done a good job rehabilitating the beach as the sand there was now soft and white instead of muddy as it was some time ago. They must have dumped quite a lot in order to turn the beach into the condition it is today. We even found a piece of coral and a beautiful sea shell at the uppermost side of the beach, that shows marine life are returning to beach.

We spent an hour at this beach before we proceeded to the army museum that was my main purpose of visiting Port Dickson actually. This was an excellent military museum, with well thought out galleries and displays although some of the interactive audio visual aids was out of order. My daughters loved the galleries, especially the walk in armoured cars exhibits located at the side of the museum buildings. I must say amongst the four branches of Malaysian Armed Forces museums that I have visited, this museum is the best followed by the police, navy and the distant last the air force. It may even rate a return visit for a more leisurely look at the exhibits there. At that time I would also make time to visit the related Royal Armour Corps Museum that I somehow missed during this trip that is another part of the Port Dickson museum circuit. So who said that Port Dickson is only good for the beaches eh.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Pasar Payung Shopping and Seafood Splurge

Well after the very short 3 days 2 night stay at Awana Kijal due to the tiring journey, we proceeded to Kuala Terengganu's Pasar Payung, oops Pasar Payang for my wife periodic stocking up of silk batik suit materials, amongst other things. This is normally the routine for our family when we visit the east coast, stay within 50 kilometres Kuantan and then make a day trip to Kuala Terengganu, or KT for short. Only this time we intended to stay at a hotel in Cherating for the night after returning from KT instead.

The reason my wife likes to stock up on her batik suit materials in Pasar Payang is because if you are able to locate a good shop, you are able to buy it at a steep discount and the pattern you get is unique and usually one of a kind, so you will not find anything similar elsewhere and thus it will not age. This is true if you are a regular client as they will offer you the exclusive designs at not exclusive prices, so you can actually purchase high street wear at regular prices. Just to give you and example, a 500 ringgit piece was offered at a price of 180 ringgit and to demonstrate to you that the price is really below the normal offering, this was shown to us via calculator rather than spoken out loud so nobody else in the store will know. So basically you are able to get five pieces of silk batiks at less than a thousand ringgit, as a piece of batik for my daughter was only sold at 150 ringgit as a friend's price. So for a sum that may not get you an exclusive designer piece in a Kuala Lumpur boutique, my wife was able to buy 3 pieces for herself, 1 piece for her mum and one piece for our elder daughter. Still makes it worthwhile to drive all the way to KT right.

In addition to batik, we usually stock up on indigenous food and this time we manage to borong the special leaf wrapped tapai of the east coast. Usually this is difficult to find but this time we managed to find four stalls selling the tapai. So I bought a whole bundle in various stages of fermentation based on the condition of the leaves. Heaven! This time also we looked for brassware to prepare the wedding items for my daughters as such brass ware are usually used in the ceremonies. Even though my daughters has not even entered their teens I told my wife we should start making a collection as I am afraid that such items will be difficult to find in the future, at least the good quality stuff. Actually our fears were well founded as the ones on offer was awful, especially on the soldering portions. Finally we only bought some basic stuff as the batik shopkeeper told us to come again next time and go the master's workshop itself as they themselves agreed that the brassware shops in the market are now selling poor quality brassware. So it is off to the mastershop's next time.

Finished shopping, off we went to off Cherating to have our overnight stay but made a pit stop at Batu Burok Hawker Centre for lunch as the Chinese Moslem Seafood shop we initially wanted to to go to was already closed for lunch as it was already past three. We had a great Chinese style chicken rice there complete with complimentary taugeh. Thus this will be a regular pit stop from now on. Anyway this time we didn't buy any keropok from KT as the best for us is at Batu Rakit instead of Losong as everybody else keeps claiming and this was too far away from KT city centre for the day trip since we were so tired. Instead we bought some at Merchang just because it stopped raining there while the rest of the way was rain non stop. In fact in Kerteh my MPV somehow got submerged by a water splash from a tinny winny Kancil that it felt like we were in a submarine for awhile. The rain also stopped me from buying roti poung(the Terengganu name for roti pound), fresh corn and nira vinegar so I guess another trip to KT after the rain stops is in the cards. Other than that, since we were so delayed by the rain and poor road conditions that I had to change the hotel of my original reservation to another one nearer to the border. This was a good stroke of luck in a sense as it was the hotel I originally wanted to reserve but it was full at the time I called for reservations but that day it was quite empty as many groups had cancelled due to the floodings. So I managed to get cheap and reasonable stay finally. However I wonder how will Visit Trengganu Year 2008 fare since major portions of the roads to KT is still under construction just two weeks until its start, so good luck travelling!

Next morning found us lazing till check-out at noon and pool time for the kids. Before heading to Kuantan we made a return trip to Kuala Kemaman where we found much better satar than the one we initially purchased and also great pais ikan made from the freshest ikan tenggiri. Sadly on this trip I was unable to locate the charcoal fired roti pound vendor along the Cherating-Kemaman road that I had mentioned in my previous posting but then found another stall that advertised they were also selling warm roti pound. Unfortunately that day was the day of their rest so they were not selling any so we must try this spot the next time we are around Cherating. We then had lunch at the venerable Pak Su restaurant that I had been meaning to bring my family to and I ordered their Vietnamese fried prawns, stuffed crabs, scallops, bak choy in home made oyster sauce and mapo tofu. The kids loved the stuffed crabs and scallops so much so the prawns were neglected even though they were still excellent. However they polished off the oyster sauce from the bak choy as the home made oyster sauce did not have any of the brownish stuff you normally get from the bottle, just pure oyster juice. So it tasted naturally excellent without needing the sacharine sweetness. Too bad the mapo tofu was too sourish as the cook was too generous with the towcho and vinegar, otherwise it would have made a memorable meal. And all that for eighty-eight ringgit that made my wife blinked with disbelieve. I told her we should have taken their imported lobster as it would have cost us only around one hundered sixty bucks for a kilo sized live one, and this was no crayfish like the one in Desaru.

For desserts we crossed the road to buy the famous beserah baulu and also tried their kuih bakar that actually tasted more like bengkang pandan. My elder daughter loved their pandan baulu and basically ate the whole lot up. The funny thing was when I buy these baulus on journeys by flight, they usually dry up when I reach home but this time they remain as fluffy as they were originally at the shop. We then stocked up on dried fish products at our favourite ikan masin shop in Beserah before making our journey home. Luckily the highway remained open so we made the jounery back to Kl in the normal 2 and half hours instead of the horendous journey of 9 hours on the way to Kijal. Now what remains is to finish off all the good stuff we bought in the journey.

For Want Of A 100 Metres, A Detour Of 100 Kilometres

Well I just got back from a real Cuti-Cuti Malaysia trip with a visit to my never heard before places on my way to Awana Kijal for my company trip. All because I had to take a detour from Bentong to Temerloh as the East Coast Highway was flooded in the Lancang area for what I heard was a 100 metres stretch. Thus I had to take the diversion route using the trunk road via Bentong ----> Raub ----> Benta ----> Jerantut ----> Temerloh that is about 100 kilometres longer as the other nearer possible trunk road routes were also washed out.So a trip that usually takes around three hours now took me 9 and a half hours via a mix of good dual carriageways and harrowing secondary hill roads. But still it was a good diversion despite a tiring journey as it gave me and the family an opportunity to run through places that has never crossed our minds. Too bad I could not take photos as we were not prepared to go through the areas and anyway I was too busy concentrating on the road to really take in so many beautiful scenic views of valleys tucked away from normal travels. Well it was the grand stupidity and bad luck of the trip organisers to organise a holiday to the east coast during this heavier than expected monsoon season. For sure there will be no swimming at the beach as the horses mane was very predominant on the incoming waves. There was intermittent drizzling also so it was lucky that it did not rain during the beach games activities otherwise the whole trip would have been a total washout. At least my kids managed to score some prizes in the games so at least there was something to gain from this trip.

As we were still too tired we basically lazed around the hotel but since we were not served lunch we took the chance to go into Chukai town and had lunch at Hai Peng Kopitiam that before this we only managed to pass through but never stop at. Overall the food menu was quite acceptable but the coffee was just ordinary to me. I had both the Vietnamese style and the Cham version but it was not really smooth and actually quite bitter. As for the food, the Asian Spaghetti was enormous and tasty as they used local sardines and we had to throw away a portion after tapauing back as we were too full to finish it at the hotel room. This was because we paid full attention to the serikaya toast which was really good and the half boiled eggs. Imagine that, it was nicer to have breakfast items for lunch. This time I took back three packs of kaya for eating at home so let's see if the packed item is the same as those served at the kopitiam. Well the next trip we will try the nasi dagang and other food items and also the other western menu food item that was not available that day.

On the way back to the hotel, we took a detour to Kuala Kemaman to stock up on satar and keropok lekor for snacking. Now you know why we could not finish the leftover spaghetti. This was the first time I was there as we usually buy from the main road side stalls, therefore we had no idea which stall was good so we tried some from a store that we picked at random. Their boiled keropok lekor was good but the fried version was fishy and their satar was smallish and just okay. Still they were polished off quickly by my kids so I had no chance to take pictures. Nonetheless they really pale in comparison to the ones we bought on the journey home after staying for an extra day in Cherating so that we can make a day trip to Pasar Payang in Kuala Terengganu. Well that story I will save for the next posting.

Friday, 14 December 2007

InsyaAllah Aku Akan Jadi Begini Satu Hari Nanti! Amin!

Saya bukannya seorang yang Alim dan mengaku beribadah pun sekadar ala-kadar sahaja. Dosa memang banyak tetapi saya berharap macamanapun mizan saya tetap akan seimbang apabila ditimbang kelak. Jadi saya terharu membaca akan CintaNYA seorang mukminin ini akan masjid sehingga dia terkorban demi rindunya dia untuk beribadah di sana. Semoga dia dikira sebagai syahid dan dilepaskan seksa kubur dan dikumpulkan bersama Syahidah di sana. Al-Fatihah!

Lemas ke masjid

Oleh Ahmad Fitri Che


“Saya terharu dan sebak terkenangkan kata-kata arwah bahawa dia terlalu rindukan masjid selepas dua hari tidak bersolat di rumah Allah itu sehingga sanggup mengharung banjir walaupun tahu air bah belum surut sepenuhnya.“Dalam dua hariitu, arwah resah dan tidak senang duduk kerana selama ini dia tak pernah terlepas untuk bersolat Subuh di masjid kerana itu rutinnya setiap hari,” kata Shamsiah Chik, 66, isteri kepada warga emas, Madin Mat Kilau, 75, yang lemas diKampung Mempateh, Lanchang di sini, semalam.Difahamkan, arwah Madin dalam perjalanan ke Masjid Kampung Mempateh sebelum dihanyutkan air deras selepas cuba mengharung banjir yang menenggelamkan jalan sepanjang 300 meter dari masjid berkenaan.Banjir itu berpunca daripada air Sungai Semantan di kampung berkenaan yang melimpahi tebing selepas hujan lebat tanpa henti sejak beberapa hari lalu.

Menurut Shamsiah, pada pagi kejadian, arwah mengejutkannya untuk memberitahu dia mahu melihat keadaan banjir di kawasan masjid kerana hujan sudah berhenti dan mendakwa dia mendengar desas-desus banjir sudah mulai surut.Katanya, arwah juga menyatakan hasratnya untuk bersembahyang Subuh di masjid jika banjir sudah surut kerana sudah lama tidak ke sana dan sangat rindukan rumah ibadat itu.“Walaupun tahu keadaan banjir masih teruk, saya tidak dapat menahan kemahuan arwah kerana faham perangainya dan tiada sesiapa menghalangnya ke masjid.“Saya tidak nampak perubahan pada arwah dan dia kelihatan biasa, kecuali beria-ia benar mahu ke masjid sedangkan waktu itu baru jam 5 pagi,” katanya.Shamsiah berkata, dia mula tidak sedap hati apabila suaminya tidak pulang ke rumah seperti kebiasaannya walaupun sudah jam 7 pagi lalu menyuruh menantunya mencarinya di kedai makan di kampung itu.“Kami mencarinya di dua kampung berhampiran dengan harapan dia mungkin mengikuti rakannya bersarapan atau menjaring ikan. Kami turut meninjau parit besar sekitar jalan kerana bimbang dia terjatuh ke situ, tetapi gagal menemuinya.“Hati saya semakin gusar apabila ternampak motosikalnya diletakkan di bawah jambatan dan ketika itu, hati saya mula mengesyaki sesuatu tidak baik berlaku padanya,” katanya.

Difahamkan, sebelum kejadian mangsa meletakkan motosikalnya di bawah jambatan tidak jauh dari tempat dia terjatuh dalam arus air deras ketika cuba memeriksa paras air di situ.Jenazah Madin ditemui jam 9 pagi, 150 meter dari masjid Kampung Mempateh oleh jirannya, Roslan Mohd Dani, 38, yang meredah air bah itu menggunakan bot untuk mencari mangsa.“Sebaik melihat Roslan membaringkan arwah di atas jalan, saya tidak dapat menahan air mata, namun berasa lapang kerana pemergiannya ke rahmatullah ketika dia dalam perjalanan ke untuk melakukan ibadah.Sementara itu, Roslan yang menunjukkan tempat dia menemui jenazah Madin kepada Harian Metro petang semalam berkata, dia segera meminjam bot daripada rakannya dan bergegas ke tempat kejadian sebaik mendapat tahu penduduk kampung sedang mencari arwah.“Saya bersama rakan mendayung bot untuk mencari arwah. Kami berharap dia selamat kerana tak sanggup kehilangannya yang sudah lama berjiran dengan saya sekeluarga.“Apabila melihat seliparnya terapung, saya sebak sehingga menitiskan air mata kerana berasakan sesuatu tidak diingini berlaku,” katanya.Menurutnya, dia terpaksa menyelam ke dalam air banjir sebelum menemui arwah di dasar di bawah seliparnya yang terapung.“Jenazahnya dalam keadaan sempurna dan kelihatan tenang walaupun beberapa jam di dasar air,” katanya yang mendengar cerita penduduk kampung arwah ada memberitahu dia terdengar azan di masjid sebelum ke sana.Jenazah Allahyarham Madin dikebumikan di Tanah Perkuburan Kampung Chempaka, Lanchang jam 4 petang semalam.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

The Not Silent Majority

My! My! Look who are the 'silent majority' really are you surprised?


Thursday December 13, 2007MYT 3:41:43 PM

'Silent majority has spoken'


PETALING JAYA: Damai Malaysia, an umbrella body comprising 395 non-governmental organisations representing nearly 1.5 million members, handed over a memorandum to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
The memorandum criticised recent illegal street demonstrations, which Damai said had caused problems and created tension among Malaysia's multiracial population.
Upon receiving the memorandum, Abdullah said that illegal street demonstrations were not part of our culture or way of life.
"We have progressed because we have been able to maintain democratic institutions which respect the law, while the people have enjoyed the fruits of peace and political stability.
"If freedom cannot be respected and used in a responsible manner, the people themselves will be at the losing end.
"As can be seen from today's memorandum, the people who remained silent have now stood up to make their stand.
"They want peace to be maintained," he told reporters after receiving the memorandum.
Damai Malaysia representatives also included those from 75 Chinese-based and 20 Indian groups and associations.
In the joint-declaration read by Damai chairman Mohd Saiful Adil Mohd Daud, members expressed their disgust at street demonstrations, and the use of religious and racial issues to create hatred among Malaysians.
They also condemned individuals and groups who used lies and slander against the country and asked for foreign intervention into Malaysia's internal affairs, he said.
Damai advisor and Bukit Bintang MCA chief Senator Datuk Dr Lee Chong Meng said the Bersih and Hindraf illegal demonstrations last month had caused tourists to avoid Malaysia.
Cheras Hindu Youth Organisation vice-president S. Ariivazhagan expressed disappointment that Hindraf had used religion to protest.

Who Loves You Baby?

About Time! Now let's get on with our lives.

Thursday December 13, 2007MYT 3:59:19 PM

Five Hindraf leaders detained under ISA (2nd update)

PETALING JAYA: Five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders have
been arrested and detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

The five are P. Uthayakumar, M. Manoharan, R. Kenghadharan, V.
Ganabatirau and T. Vasanthakumar. They were picked up at various locations in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Seremban.
It is learnt they were detained under Section 8 (1) of the ISA after Internal Security Minister Datuk Seri Abdulah Ahmad Badawi signed their detention order.
Their detention is for two years.
Uthayakumar and two others namely Ganabatirau and P. Waythamoorthy were charged under the Sedition Act on Nov 23 in Klang 23 for allegedly making speeches to incite hatred at a gathering in Batang Berjuntai, Selangor, on Nov 16. Waythamoorthy is currently overseas.
Under Section 73 (1) of the ISA, the police can detain any individual for up to 60 days without a warrant, trial and without access to legal counsel if he was suspected to have “acted or is about to act or is likely to act in any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia or any part thereof or to maintenance of essential services therein or to the economic life thereof."
After 60 days, the Minister of Home Affairs can extend the period of detention without trial for up to two years, without submitting any evidence for review by the courts, by issuing a detention order, which is renewable indefinitely.

Need I Say More?

to continue posting articles of interest..

Opinion Thursday December 13, 2007

NO SINGLE episode in Malaysian society in recent years has had such a negative impact upon Indo-Malay ties as the actions and allegations of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf). Its reckless, scurrilous allegations have hurt and angered a lot of Malaysians from all walks of life.
It is utterly ludicrous to accuse the Umno-led government of embarking upon the “ethnic cleansing” of the Indian community. Is there an organised, systematic attempt on the part of the state to eliminate the Indian minority which is what ethnic cleansing is all about? Do Hindraf leaders even understand the term and what it implies?

By the same token, how can one talk of the marginalisation of the entire Indian community? While it is true that 2.9% of Indian households live below the poverty-line – the national average is 5.7% – aren’t Indians well represented in the middle and upper echelons of society? They constitute 11.5% of the professional and managerial class, which is above the percentage of the Indian population in the country of 8%.

For a community which does not command a majority in any parliamentary or state constituency in the country, Indians are not only members of parliament and state assemblies but also occupy places in the federal government and in most state executive councils. They are executive council members even in those states where the Indian component is less than 5% of the population. Would a government that is bent on marginalising and cleansing Indians accord such a significant role – in relation to its population percentage – to the community in national and state politics?

If the government pursued a goal as diabolical as ethnic cleansing, would the principal language of the Indian Malaysian community, namely Tamil, be a medium of instruction in the government managed national primary school system? Would Tamil be a language medium in the public broadcasting system? Would Deepavali, the main religious festival of Hindus, be observed as a national holiday? Would a community that has been completely marginalised and is threatened with ethnic cleansing be able to practise its religion and its culture in relative peace and harmony? If Hindus are facing annihilation, how does one explain the glaring fact that in Selangor, on a per capita basis, there are more Hindu temples than mosques and suraus put together? The total Hindu-Indian population in the state is about one quarter of the total Malay-Muslim population.
Even on the demolition of a Hindu temple in Shah Alam on Nov 15 – the one issue that triggered a massive emotional backlash against the government – Hindraf leaders and their supporters have been less than honest. It was not widely made known within the community that the temple was on private land and that the developer had offered cash assistance to the temple committee to build a new temple on an alternative site. The temple was not the only place of worship that was brought down; a surau was also demolished. In most instances, when temples or other places of worship are forced to yield to development projects, alternative sites are made available. As structures, temples in particular are somewhat problematic since a number have been constructed without obtaining prior approval from relevant local authorities. Because they are illegal structures, the authorities have been forced to act.
This is a problem which the government had sought to address more than two decades ago. A committee was established under the aegis of the Prime Minister’s office in 1980 comprising government officials and NGO leaders (I was a member of that committee) to formulate guidelines on the construction of places of worship. Unfortunately, these guidelines have been breached on numerous occasions by both representatives of the religious community concerned and local authority officials. Instead of explaining the complex sensitivities involved in the whole question of the construction and demolition of temples, Hindraf appears to have exaggerated and distorted the real issues at stake. Together with other issues such as Hindu-Muslim legal tussles over conversion and custody, the deaths in police custody of some Indian prisoners and the Kampung Medan incident of 2001, demolitions have provided grist to the Hindraf mill. They have served to fuel baseless allegations about the “ethnic cleansing” of the community.

At this juncture, we should ask why Hindraf leaders and certain politicians have chosen to dramatise specific – sometimes legitimate – grievances via wild allegations about ethnic cleansing and marginalisation? Dramatising the alleged “oppression and suppression of a people” through exaggerated claims is a technique which unscrupulous individuals and groups resort to in order to win popular sympathy. They also serve to smear and shame one’s target – in this case the Umno-led government and perhaps indirectly the MIC leadership. What this suggests is that there may also be a political motive. Of the three communities in Peninsular Malaysia, it is the Indian community which has, in the course of the last three decades, provided near unanimous electoral support to the Barisan Nasional. With the 12th general election just around the corner, certain politicians linked directly or indirectly to Hindraf are perhaps seeking to weaken the BN’s electoral strength by exploiting genuine Indian grievances against the Government.

Whatever the motives, the genuine grievances of the community should be addressed in a sincere and rational manner. Some of them I have alluded to. Others are linked to the ethnic approach to nation-building, the camouflage of the underclass in society, the limited scope for democratic protest, the role of Indian political leadership and the long-term debilitating consequences of a plantation culture upon a segment of the community. To resolve these and other challenges, there has to be a truly national effort that goes beyond ethnic perspectives.

How can one expect the nation to commit itself to such a mission when Hindraf’s communal pronouncements and postures have poisoned the atmosphere?

Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Milk In Triangular Packets

Here is a quick blast from the past. Came across the picture in one of the net forums and it brought back some memories. Anyone remember that the Milkmaid brand of condensed milk and also F&N used to sell their condensed milk in such triangular or wedge packaging a long-long time ago. Presumably it was sold in such packages as economy packs as at that time packaged milk was a luxury item, and the fact that many of us Asians were naturally lactose intolerant also did not endear itself to be sold in larger sizes due to lack of market demand. Nonetheless such condensed milk packets found itself being sold as a snack in my old school canteen, and me with a sweet tooth was quite a regular customer when I had saved up enough extra money to buy a pack. It cost about 5 to 10 cents for a very small wedge at the time and this was a substantial portion of your daily school allowance of 20 cents. Actually condensed milk was readily available at home but you knowla no way your mum gonna allow you to drink it raw, the best you can get was to lick off the spoon. Anyway it was not uncommon to see kids milling around sucking out the milk from the triangular edge, and to think back now it must have been one hell of a sugar rush.

Well the last time I saw such wedge packaging was when I was in Australia where the hotel room fridge stock it as a regular item for your coffee and tea. Sure beats the creamer in small packets you get in the hotels nowadays locally. The only difference was it was not condensed milk but fresh milk instead, but still good to drink off the pack since I have learned to love fresh milk since that time long ago. I took back about a dozen home when I returned to KL, and they were quickly polished off by my kids. So I guess even tough it was not condensed milk, the kids actually loved the idea of drinking out of such triangular packs. Anybody game to bring back such packs to our shores then?

Putting Back The Fizz!

It is quite a coincidence that after posting about the old carbonated flavour cream soda, what do you know the main maker here made a promotional blitz to bring back the fizz to this old and tired flavour. A long ago favourite, I guess this may be a last gasp attempt to repopularise the flavour before taking out of the market. I really do not see many people drinking this original non-cola fizzy drink, so it may be already a dying market if the young generation cannot be persuaded to drink it other than its traditional use as the original ice cream float drink. The manufacturer this time has tried to jazz it up by suggesting it to be served as a cocktail drink, with mixers quite similar to what has been done to vodka or tequila. Since it is also a clear drink, the recipes provided and its appearance does give it an elegant if not cool look when mixed as suggested. Well if my suspicions are true, I hope this marketing push works as it would be a pity if the flavour is discontinued. In the meantime, Cheers Mate!

ISA for dummies

I was born during the aftermath of our May 13 incident when my uncle braved himself and my in labour mother being shot when he drove through curfew in order to reach Ipoh hospital for my mother's delivery. Thus it has been clearly etched in my mind and I guess of those in my generation what racial discord can do to the social agreement our forefather's has reached in order to gain our nation's independence and then to build our nation to what it is today without necessitating any real bloodshed that has occurred in many other countries, including the supposedly pillar of democracy America. This outlook was further strengthened when I was entering adulthood when again our nation brushed with cinders of racial friction when in my first semester of college life, we were officially informed by the management to prepare to defend ourselves as our branch campus had become a target since it was a potent symbol of Malay achievements during a period when questions were raised about the order of society by certain elements that resulted in bad blood between our two main races. It was a surreal experience for someone like me who has just graduated from a pluralist school to face something just like in the movies, when lion dance drums peeled outside our gates, similar to movie scenes of war drums announcing the gathering storm against the besieged fort walls. That was an experience that I do not wish to relive except then we faced yet another crisis during the reformasi movement, when for the sake of political expediency subversive elements began importing inflammatory street culture to our shores in the hopes that our society was not more sophisticated than the nations they imported the culture from. Nonetheless I noted with satisfaction that our society was actually above it all, and such a movement actually petered out to cinders that was easily stamped out.

Throughout it all an element that seemed to be forgotten as it never makes good press was the fact the majority of our society treasured public security above all else. Thus it was highly acceptable to the majority of society that measures like ISA was taken in order to secure the public security. To those who claim that we the majority are docile sheep who do not care about human rights, please explain how public security is not essential to human rights, even to its existence in fact. What good is the right to public assembly when the outcome is strife and disorder. I will take jailing of these trouble makers any time over public inconvenience, especially when they act as if they are above the law. And that is essentially what this is all about, respect for the law passed by a government that was elected by a MAJORITY, and that includes ISA for public security. Why has anyone not questioned why the majority did not throw the government out when they legislated the ISA, and why the majority did not support any "People Power" movement that such street demonstration hoped to create? Do they do not want to hear the answer that our civil society actually believes our enacted laws are just, and they actually question whether those who think they are above the law are actually closet anarchists? We just want to remain a civil society living in harmony, and if the price we have to pay is for ISA to be used against these seditious elements in order to preserve this, well that is just a price we have to pay. We still have avenues to show dissent like the walk-out of parliament session by the opposition when a disagreed legislation like the Constitutional Amendment is being passed, but the fact remains that it is a majority government that passes the legislation. We the majority do not need to be like the demonstrators showing their displeasure at the Parliament gates to show whether we approve the act or not. We will do it at the ballot box when election comes. And that my friends is the most just and equitable way to do it.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Living In Your Dreams?

I have recently posted my observation on our tendencies to overinflate our self-worth, most visibly through vehicles like the pasting of so-called "very important" windshield stickers. Nonetheless today I have seen yet another prime example personified by the car through a rather ingenious means. This was by modding his what I believe to be a middle 90's Ford Laser sedan into what the driver wants us to believe is a souped up Brabus Mercedes. I have no problem with modding or souping up your ordinary cars into a rally fit, drift fit or replica sports cars, as that is natural thing to do. Anyway no matter how souped up the car is, the basic model is still identifiable. In fact it is usually a matter of pride for the owners to show how much they can modify their basic models into super cars, and I personally if I have the time and the wherewithal would love to do the same with my run-about. Nonetheless to try to convert what is essentially a small capacity car into an internationally accepted super car is beyond my comprehension. Is this a case of living your dreams or living IN your dreams? Who are you kidding?

Friday, 7 December 2007

Roti Man Through The Ages

Since I have been harping on the topic of bread recently, I thought I might as well try to preserve the memory of our Roti Man before they can only be seen through paintings. Nonetheless I am not so old to remember if the Roti Man ever peddled his breads via 'kandar' or yoke, but my earliest memory of buying bread from the bread vendor or Roti Man is from one who cycled in our neighbourhood while balancing a specially designed container that shows off his wears. And something that sticks to my mind till now was that at that time, the Roti Man even offered something that what we called 'tikam-tikam' or actually a form of roulette except it can be of two version, a real spin the wheel number game where the number you get determines the prize you win or the pull type like shown here. The prize is not big, either another piece of bread or bag of crisp. I was quite good at it actually but the fun stopped when the authorities wisen up to the gambling elements and put a stop to the nonsense. I had thought that this species of a bicycle paddling roti man was extinct bit recently I saw one roaming the backstreets of Jalan Ipoh in KL, so I guess the prevailing high price of gas may see them making a comeback. But this guy had his bread container at the back, unlike those traditional types here.
Next came the roti man with the tricycle that are still prevalent in my hometown of Ipoh but seems to have vanished in Kuala Lumpur. I guess it is not easy to maneuver a tricycle around KL traffic so they have gone the way of the dinosaurs. However one advantage of this machine is that the roti man can still maintain their business of stacking kuih2 and loose breads and buns in the bread trays in their special container unlike what is happening with the more common roti man with a single covered container on the motorcycle back with all manners of goods hanging by the side. I loved the variety of breads showcased through the glass windows, and would not fail to buy a different type of bread when he called to the house. Beats the monotony that you get from the roti man nowadays.
The road hazard type of Roti Man you see nowadays is what I guess the last evolution of the species before they vanish from this earth. Yes you used to see bread vending vans previously but I have not seen any for a long time so I think I can safely assume they are gone. Yes the Roti Man still serve a variety of bread, but like I said you cannot get loose breads and kuihs from them anymore. At least in KL though I see in Penang they can still maintain the tiered type of container at the back. Although they seem to be an endangered species nowadays, I do not think they can vanish that easily. Too many households still depend on them for their daily bread delivery. Oh yes I forgot to mention a special service that sets them apart from buying bread from stores. They offer credit so it is convenient for some to maintain their regular bread purchases. Enough said!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Very Important Gobbler

Of late I have been seeing cars displaying a fast food retailer's VIG stickers which I understand to mean as Very Importan Guests. I guess those displaying these stickers either get express service at these restaurants or a discount, at least this is what I expect if I am gonna stick someone's logo on my car. Nonetheless this got me thinking, are some of us so desperate to be looked upon as VIPs that we can stick on such stickers without thinking that this is just another evil genius mechanism by a slick marketing team to suck you in as free publicity providers. How else can you explain people leaving VIP stickers for so long ended events on their cars in a cavalier attempt to denote their importance. Otherwise it just means that these people do not mind to advertise the fact that they are fast food junkies, something that I personally do not want to do despite being a non fast food antagonist myself. My previous postings should attest to that though I do lament certain slow food becoming endangered. Nonetheless the fact that such stickers are can now be commonly found seems to underscore the fact that people do not mind being associated as voracious gobblers of such meals, a true testament of its meaning. Well the VIG sticker has even been bought and sold on Malaysian e-bay for god's sake. And to think people spend so much money to slim down :>)