Here In My Home - Malaysian Artistes For Unity

Friday, 29 August 2008

Do Not Politicise The Malaysian Flags, Dumb Bells!

Well this is message to all the nincompoops who called for our beloved flags to be flown upside down, supposedly as a distress signal for the nation. You guys do not know what you are talking about and you have no signs of respects or history, so do not try to impose your ignorance on other people who still know the value of NATIONAL PRIDE. And you declare that you are the RAKYAT sheesh!

Sudirman (S Atan / Sudirman Hj. Arshad)

Tegakkan Bendera Kita

Hormatilah bendera kita

Ia lambang negara

Bersatu padu kita dibawahnya

Hidup berkeluarga

Putih merah biru kuning

Warna bendera kita

Berkibar-kibar megah

Di angkasa

Kemegahan semua

Tegakkan bendera kita

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Revisiting Melaka- Part 2; Battle Of The Sungai Duyong Ikan Bakar

Well we made it back to Sungai Duyong again to savour the ikan bakar offerings there. We decided that on the first night we will dine at the original outlet, Medan Ikan Bakar and the next night we will try out the other outlet across the bridge, the one we vowed we will try out the next time we are in Melaka. This time we took the opportunity to go earlier than after dusk, the time that we usually go if my in-laws are with us. I must say that the scenery is magnificent at this time, with a nice view of the river. We were also surprised by this sign that we noticed for the first time, warning of crocodiles in the river although this did not deter some fishing enthusiasts along the river banks. We did try to look for the crocodiles, but even logs could not be found. Nonetheless we expected a fresh food experience as we saw fishing boats coming in, so our meal should be the catches of the day. Sadly this account would state otherwise as the outlet also suffers the typical Malay food outlet syndrome of success malaise.

This time we ordered two types of shellfish, local green mussels cooked in chilli and lemon grass steamed medium sized lalas, eaten with the traditional nasi lemak so typical of Melaka’s ikan bakar outlets. We believe that the restaurant now have two different nasi lemak suppliers, as they were wrapped in different types of paper, one in brown paper while the other in newspaper. The verdict? You better make sure you ask for the brown paper wrapped nasi lemak if you can when you are here, as the other was quite tasteless. This theme unfortunately continued with the shellfish dishes with only the mussels being palatable as the chilli sauce it came in was quite nice. Alas the steamed lalas only tasted nice when it arrived steaming hot but it soon rapidly cooled down and the taste metre also followed. Sadly that is not the only complaints about the lalas as a number was not cleaned properly and therefore sandy. Worse still as the photo evidences, we left behind almost a plate full of lalas unopened even after the steaming, as the rule of the thumb says that these have most certainly gone bad before cooking and to avoid complications they were left untouched. That meant that almost a kilo of lalas goes down the drain, and that will add to the shock later.

In addition to the shellfishes, we had also ordered sea prawns fried in garlic butter and pais ikan, the older brother of otak-otak, i.e., spicy fish pate barbecued in banana leaves. Yet we still had to find fault with the prawns, as the sauce was nothing to shout about and we actually had to peel the prawns off its sauce covered shells and ate it naked as that were happily were fresh . The sauce was actually unpleasantly salty as they are now stingy and used the cheap overly salted margarine blocks you usually find in the street side burger stalls as a butter substitute, a fabrication that should not be tolerated and shall never be ordered again. We actually could not finish the prawns and took it back to the hotel with the intention to clean the sauce off so as to make it fit to be eaten, but it was actually brought home back to Kuala Lumpur and modified in our kitchen to make it palatable. Thus we were left with saving grace of the meal, the pais ikan that fortunately came in a plastic packet so the cook cannot destroy as it was only a matter wrapping it in the banana leaf and cooking it over the charcoal. Nicely spiced and herby and enhanced with the smokiness of the charcoal fire, the kids loved it and concentrated on this as the accompaniment of their nasi lemak. Luckily it was a substantial portion so the kids were satiated, and we actually had leftovers. This cushioned the final shock of the bill that was presented for an amount of RM95.40 for two kilos of lalas, half a kilo of mussels and another half kilo prawns as the premium items. What a high price to pay for an unsatisfying meal, and this strengthened our resolve to try the other outlet, with a commitment that if it was better than Medan Ikan Bakar, then this place will no longer be something we will look forward to in order to have our ikan bakar meals in Melaka. Sadly this place is now another proof of a Malay food outlet that has allowed success go to their heads, resulting in their service and food quality going downhill thereafter.

I am happy to report that the other outlet, Anjung Medan Bakar, however exceeded our expectations especially since when we entered the place we had our initial doubts as the outlet was quite empty. Located within the compounds of an NGO’s training centre, the place was kitted out as a Balinese courtyard , with the tables set in their individual wakaf(shelters) , with a section beside the river though we chose to our have our dinner in the wakaf with the hardwood furnishings. A regal setting that was fit for a royal meal actually. You could even take a ride on their wooden swing while waiting, and you could also pray there since it was a training centre and had such a facility. So ambiance wise, they surely are a winner in my book.

Now turning to the food, we suspect that the kitchen also serves the training centre's cafeteria's kitchen during the day, so it was not a typical ikan bakar place. In fact they serve normal Thai style seafood meals with ikan bakar as an additional menu for the night, but their seafood is as fresh as the other ikan bakar outlets. Thus if you are looking for an alternative style of having your ikan bakar, this is a good place to consider as you can have the seafood with fried rice or other typical seafood restaurant dishes. They even have quail though this was not available the night we were there. As this was our first time here, we only ordered the basic stuff which was fried rice, batter coated squids and garlic fried prawns that actually was also fried in a thin batter coating but flavoured with the garlic. The kids loved the fried rice as it was flavourful but not hot so it was suitable to their palates, while they really dove into the squids even though we had the same thing for lunch as their version was so crunchy and flavourly spiced, it actually became a different sort of a dish for them. The prawns were slower to be consumed, though smaller than the ones from the night before, as they were shelled and the kids did not appreciate the additional work but we adults appreciated the crunchy shells so it was no hassle for us. I must apologise for the lack of photos as we were too busy finishing them off, especially since they were not that photogenic that belies their tastiness, so you should try them yourselves. We will definitely try their ikan bakar and chilli sauced mussels that we saw at another table, as they really looked delicious and we envied the family savouring them. They charge more for their prawns so our bill actually came to around sixty five ringgit, but the sweet fresh prawns cost was justifiable, especially for a hidden A-Graded food haven in such a heavenly setting. Lets hope they do not suffer the same malaise the next time we visit.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Let Law Takes It Course

“Let the law run its course. At this point, nothing can be said, for every individual is innocent until proven guilty.” These are your words as quoted in the newspaper my dear Menteri Besar when commenting on your executive councillors arrest for graft. Yet you go on and accuse UMNO and Barisan Nasional of orchestrating this whole episode as a conspiracy to topple the state government. His Deputy even questioned the speed and timing of ACA's action against his men as a political move. The Menteri Besar even suggested that the claims against his men to approve or expedite the induced action is beyond them. So you can accuse other people of doing wrong while your people's wrongdoings must be decided by the court eh? The fact of the matter is that the suspects were detained immediately after accepting the money and the State's ACA Director herself stated that the money was found in a bag belonging to one of the suspect, identifed as one of the Exco men in a newspaper report. So let the court decide whether your men are angels or otherwise, shall we.

By the way if these Parti Rakyat members are really angels, why is it that a PKR Division leader and two others have been held by the police in relation to the assault of the photographers when it was previously intimated that these were the work of fifth columnists. And still it was claimed that they were helping the photographers by protecting them from the mob. So again shall we let the courts decide, shall we.

This Is How A Debate Should Be Done

Last night the second debate that I hope will be a series of debates between a member of both opposing political parties was held and this time it was the stalwarts that carried the mantle, resulting in a more balanced and informative repartee between the two parties. Penang's former Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Su Koon showed how its done when he refused to be baited into making personal attacks or politicising the issue at hand, i.e., the supposedly widespread land scams that happened under the previous administration, but defended that that administration actually had an almost perfect record of 99.9 percent in handling land matters. Although this was greeted cynically by the current Chief Minister Mr Lim Guan Eng, the pregnant pause immediately after that seems to imply that we shall see if his administration could do better. As it is, he had already waffled when after declaring grandly that his state administration will eliminate hard-core poor in one year, he then said that these land scams would distract his administration from achieving just that. Walauwey! If he already knew that, why make that declaration in the first place eh? Anyway if your state administration is any good, you should be able to overcome all the challenges that comes at you right. Otherwise you would begging off and whining away instead of doing your job when you are unable to meet your objectives so where would that put you Competency, Accountablity and Transparency slogan?

Making a stand: Dr Koh (right) making a point as Lim smiles and listens at the debate between the two men in Kuala Lumpur last night.

Well to sum up, I congratulate Tan Sri in showing that having such a debate is a good way to be transparent as he mentioned that having 'private meetings' to thrash out such political issues may result in a party twisting the facts discussed, and even though as he pointed out also his direct questions to the Chief Minister was left unanswered he was gentlemanly enough to let it slide. He stuck to his facts and let them speak on his behalf, and I believe the audience appreciated this. He also managed to highlight the Chief Minister's penchant for saying half-truths to which the CM had no reply. Anyway a word on the audience, I do not know who they are but I must congratulate on their non-partisanship as compared to the previous debate, though someone seems to have brought his own cheerleading squad who clapped on their own even though there was no support from the others. I guess this time they were really interested to discover the facts rather than hear more political rhetoric, and Tan Sri was right in serving up what they wanted. So it is now up to you to determine who is right or wrong without any political sentiments. And I hope the next time around, more party stalwarts will take up the mantle to debate more issues of great public interest publicly and let the public be the judge.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Revisiting Melaka- Part 1

Well we just got back from Melaka for a short holiday since the younger daughter's kindergarten had organised a day trip to the historical city, so we though we might as well extended her visit to a full fledged stay as we thought it would be a tiring affair otherwise for her. Well since her trip itinerary was concentrated in the historical centre of the city, we made reservations in a condotel in the town centre. Despite some unflattering comments in the internet about the condotel, the service and the rooms was actually not bad and their breakfast spread was excellent, on par with the better hotels we have stayed in with the added bonus of easy parking with easy access to elevators straight near my room unit. In fact their swimming pool was great and they had many lifeguards on duty, a definite plus in my books. One of them said that this was the city authorities are very strict with the pool regulations, so the hotel has been kept on their toes. I also suspect that the presence of an international chain hotel next door also keeps their service in ship shape form, as otherwise tourists will be deserting the condotel for the brand name hotel. Kudos to the hotel from me.

As for the kindergarten trip which we joined partly for lunch and the river cruise, I must say the organising committee was flustered with the overwhelming number of visitors to the city during the first day of the school holidays, so many of the planned events did not work out. Luckily the river cruise was a success, and it actually opened up my eyes to new and previously hidden attractions that we may have overlooked before, and at the very least gave me new perspective to some of the attractions that we have frequented many times before. Otherwise I may not have seen the new watermill, The Melaka Pirate Park that housed the Eye On Melaka and the newly excavated riverside fort that they are now restoring. Where else could you also see monitor lizards either sunning themselves in the muddy or rocky banks of the river or swimming in the middle of a city. I would not have guessed that was possible in a river that at first glance is definitely not a clear water haven for any living creatures. Nonetheless the river banks are still a work in progress with on-going construction to make it a more attractive waterfront, so a repeat visit is definitely in order the next time we are in Melaka.

The next day was spent revisiting the historical sites for the sake of the little one that her trip missed so we duly went to A'Famosa, Saint Paul's Church, Stadhuys and Jonker Street. Well I must say getting older no longer allows you to undertake the trip as easily as before, and we needed to catch our wind several times during the visit. You really feel your age when the kids had the temerity to say why are we holding them up. Well the visit was not only site hopping, but also a journey of discovery as we did discover some of the foodie attractions in town that we usually give a miss before, but one I would like to specifically mention is the cendol in front of the clock tower. This was one cendol that to me did not live up to its hype, as I really feel that the cendol in Penang, Ipoh and even Sungei Besi is far better than the ones on offer here. Sorry but that is my honest opinion. To end the visit we took the colourful bechas to go to my car parked near the A'Famosa, as seriously I don't think I could walk a step further at that time. I then took the family to Klebang for a cheap but delicious seafood and nyonya meal, far better than the seafood dinner we had the night before than I will mention in part two of this notes, and this was a meal that was worth the trip out of the town centre. After swimming in the pool and going out for dinner, the day was ended with a night-time ride on the new Menara Taming Sari, a rotating platform ride that was the price of the entrance ticket, with a great bird's eye view of the city at night though it did give me a short vertigo anxiety attack at the beginning of the ride as it was wobbling too much at the time for me to stomach. As it is the view from the ground was also interesting as you actually feel that you are watching a flying saucer going up and down.

Talking about the view though, it has certainly changed a lot as evidenced by these photos taken from the condotel room and St Paul's clearly shows. A visitor that time travelled from ten years ago would be hard put to recognise what is spread out before him. He would no longer be able to see the sea lapping up Bandar Hilir nor recognise the view of the Dataran from St. Pauls. No would reading from a tourist brochure from a time before then would give you an idea of what is now populating the grounds where The Cry Of Merdeka was initially heard more than fifty years ago. I myself was hard put to recognise many of the new structures that now dot the place, though when I went to to ground level I find that most of them were malls rather than any historically significant bulidings. Makes me wonder how they conduct the light and sounds event at the site, and makes me wonder further how Melaka would have got Unesco's recognition in the first place if the decision was made purely based on what is happening in this historical centre. Well at least we still have a cause to celebrate, as the excavations carried out for the construction of all these commercial venture has unearthed new historical sites, putting put to some of the commercial plans themselves. Like my elder daughter said,"Wouldn't it be great if they find more such sites so that they will be preserved." A noble sentiment no and something we can give Amen to right.

Wither Art Thou PKR?

ACT 1. Degrading Without Substance

Well I did not want to comment on the stupidity of Tan Sri Khalid’s comments on my alma mater recently, as I do not really care about the suggestion to open up a percentage of the enrolment to non-bumiputeras, as it may actually improve our student’s performance. Nonetheless to say UITM students and by extension her alumni “were unfriendly, of poor quality and non-competitive” really gets my goat. Thus I agree with what the Univesity’s statement that Tan Sri should apologise for making the statement as it was not only false but unethical and degrading to the university. I must ask if Tan Sri has recently looked at where this supposedly unfriendly, poor quality and non-competitive students has ended up in the job markets. Are they not holding positions of power not only in the corporate sector but in his own political coalition. I wonder how they ended up in such positions, eh? Well you may think other multi-polar universities are doing better than UITM like UIA that you chose to give as an example, but why don’t you quote your own alma mater as a perfect example. Or do you know that something is rotten in the state of Denmark? By the way UIA by definition is an international university with foreign students in her fold by charter even, so how can you compare with UITM that was established to level the playing field for Bumiputera students? We do not really need your politikus apology my dear Tan Sri, just your sincerity in taking care of our students welfare. Or is this some kind of payback because an UITM student had the temerity to bring his state government to court for not keeping their election promise to give cash rewards eh awards to Selangor born tertiary student, you think?

ACT 2. From Mob Rule To Lynch Mob?

Well in 1997 our society saw the beginnings of Mob Rule whereby actions by a MOB is considered right just because it was popular by a vocal group of society, regardless if they broke the laws of the land while they are doing such actions. Well the silent majority seemed to have given tacit approval for such actions by giving the proponents of such mob action their votes in the last election, and this may have emboldened them to now step up to organising lynch mobs to act against people who they feel are threatening their interests. Two recent cases involving hitting photographers and in one case stealing their equipment by people identified as opposition’s supporters, against what in any other civil society are held up as beacon’s of truth, shows the underlying mentality of these people who believe in mob rule aka might is right. Is this an example of a progressive society because the last I checked such actions are actually usually carried out by lawless people. So are we as a society are actually regressing instead if we continue to accept people breaking the laws with impudence? What adds insult to the wound is the cheek of a spokesman from the party that implied it was fifth columnist who had actually assaulted the victims, as if the victims are so dumb as not being able to identify their assailants. Well if our society can continue to accept such intimations, then we deserve to live in the turbulent times we now live in.

Friday, 8 August 2008

So What Is Your Favourite Break Treats?

Well below is a list of favourite Malaysian Break Treats as listed by the Metro Sunday In The Star :

Sunday August 3, 2008

Top Malaysian treats

Cutting down on tea/coffee breaks is virtually impossible with the array of tempting snacks we have. One of the favourite pastimes of Malaysians is eating snacks and if you feel like having some local delicious for your teatime then head out and buy some of these food and enjoy them with your family and friends.

1. Pulut Panggang
Filled with a delectable coconut and dried prawn filling, this cylindrical snack is further grilled to ensure the glutinous rice is smoky and slightly charred.

2. Curry Puff
A good filling is no doubt, the most important part of this snack. A good one would be filled with potato and meat or in recent times, sweet potato, which is cheaper, has become an alternative.

3. Egg Tart
There are two versions, the smooth egg tart that is always sold by Nyonya cake sellers or the Portugese version, which is baked with a slightly crisp top in a puff pastry shell.

4. Seri Muka
The queen of Nyonya kuih, the seri muka, which has a bottom layer of glutinous rice and the top, a concoction of eggs, rice flour and pandanus juice, it is served cool and easily digestable.

5. Kuih Lapis
This is definitely a hot Nyonya favourite as many, be they children or adults, just love to peel the cake layer by layer and eat it as slowly as possible, alternating between the red and white layers.

6. Cucur Udang/Prawn Fritters
Crunchy and flavourful, it is one of the main ingredients for rojak and pasembor and one of the fast moving snacks that is simply eaten with diluted chilli sauce when bought at stalls for evening tea.

7. Vadai/ Dhall Patties
Savoury and filled with onion and chillies and roughly mashed lentils, they are best eaten when freshly fried and sizzling from the pan.

8. Pau
This round morsels of fine bread, filled with interesting fillings from savouries of meat and chicken to sweet ones like kaya, custard, red bean and lotus paste, is welcomed at any time of the day as a snack.

9. Putu Piring
Made of steamed rice flour, palm sugar and rounded off with freshly grated coconut, this cake is further steamed after being shaped into round saucers and can be addictive, even after you feel full.

10. Goreng Pisang
There is nothing like it in the world. First you feel the crunch as you bite into it, then the juicy sweetness and a little sourish taste as you bite in deeper. The goreng pisang is undoubtedly a national favourite.

Although I would agree with most of the selection, I would still like to list down my own personal favourites as follows :

a. Popiah

Whether in wet, fried or sauced form, this is one treat that I strongly feel all Malaysians would agree should be included in the list as every ethnic component has their own version of this anytime treat. My personal favourite is the sauced version where a fried popiah is dipped in a sweet and spicy sauce coating and left to dry afterwhich it is sprinkled wit sesame seeds. It takes great skill to ensure that the popiah itself remains crispy after being coated with the spicy sauce.

b. Tepung Pelita

The favoured name in my homestate is Limas, this sweet boat of layered pandan flavoured glutinous rice swimming in sugar syrup and topped with a coconut milk sauce is a favourite breaking fast treat whereby you can find stall only selling this treat at the Ramadhan Bazaars.

C. Chakoi

This chinese cruellers that is known as yau char kwai in chinese and just plain chakoi in Malay is a true Malaysian bread enjoyed by all Malaysian, and unlike its other Malaysian brethren the Roti Chanai is a compact and portable food that can be eaten anywhere. Although it may have originated elsewhere, Malaysians has taken to this food of 2 pieces of dough stuck together and fried greatly and it can be seen being dipped into many types of sauuces, broth, or even with fruits rojak but the best can be eaten on its own as the flavour is so yummy by itself.

D. Putu Mayam

Over here putu mayam or string hoppers in general are eaten more as a sweet treat with shave cocunut and palm sugar rather than as complete meal with curries and such. I personally prefer it this way as I cannot seem to get full when it is eaten as a meal. Though usually sold cold by travelling food vendors, there are places where you can get them freshly steamed and these are the best way to eat them if you are are able to do so.

E. Kacang Putih

Coming from THE Kacang Putih City in Malaysia, I consider Kacang Putih as an anytime treat, something to keep at hand when you do not have time to make your own treats or patronise the kueh stalls. You can recognise an Ipohite if you find their bag of Kacang Putih is a mixed with the various type of kacang in what is internationally known as the Bombay mix although I prefer to call it the Ipoh mix. This mix with a myriad of flavours is an excellent accompaniment to your cuppa, especially when you are reading a book or watching the idiot box since the mix are usually dry, you do not get messy fingers when indulging.

Well these five are the list left-outs that immediately comes to my mind although there are many others that I can think off later. Maybe I will write about them another time eh?