Sunday, December 28, 2008

Just a memory

Just a memory. 1962 at the old Kuala Lumpur International Airport, prior to leaving Malaya for the UK. And many in the photo are no longer with us.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Temptations

I am not a Christian, but I am a fan of The Temptations. And I find that this song by the Temptations is very very melodious.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


The Koraan says,
Surah Al-Kauther:
1. To thee have We granted the Fount (Of Abundance).
2. Therefore to thy Lord turn in Prayer and Sacrifice.
3. For he who hateth thee He will be cut off (from Future Hope).

And accordingly for the Eid-ul-Adha, whic fell on 08 Dec. 2008 this year, we did just that, sacrificed a 4 footed animal, in this case a cow.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The phenomena of lawlessness

The phenomena of lawlessness is inherent in the heart of most of us Malayasian (I believe). Though the Authority keeps telling us that Malaysia is a safe country. Safe compared to which country?

Every day life in Malaysia is quite peaceful but cases have been reported (and known) of rape, snatch thefts, murders but most of these are blamed (conveniently) on the immigrants (illegal) population. Conveniently of course.

But the most observable evidence of close to lawlessness being that Malaysian treat traffic lights as ‘suggestions’ instead of mandatory. One may many time see many motorcycles beating the red traffic signal when (they think) that the coast is clear. And I have seen cars also doing the same when (I think that they think that the coast is clear and that there are no Traffic Policeman around). There are traffic light junctions where there are hidden cameras, but many of these camera s are really ‘decorations’. Like many things in Malaysia, there are lot and lots of Laws but the implementation is questionable.

And Malaysians like to live in cages, that is their houses are protective grilled everywhere, doors, windows and for that matter any opening. I suppose these are precautionary measures, and I believe that those grills help to prevent burglaries or robberies. But some time these are carried over board. Here are some photos of apartments where every window seems to be uglily (and presumbably) safely grilled. Or that we Malaysians (majority) like (or preferred) to live in 'bird cages'

Except for one or two or daring owners of apartment owners who have no grill at all.

I sometime wonder if those daring ones get burgled or robbed. I hate to think what will happened to these grilled apartments if a fire ever occur in them, how do the occupants escape. In my career (when investigating the cause of fire, with other agencies) I have seen burnt bodies of the elderly and children hurdled together near grilled windows after a fire.

These photoes are only showing what happens in a cluster of apartments. One will see no exceptions when one visits terraced houses, single or double storeyed, or even big single bunglows/houses or even mansions. The main difference being that the richer the occupants are the more decorative or sophisticated are the grills; probably with battery operated or electrically operated burglar alarms or even cctv cameras ........... and I must say some even have guards for a group of houses and those who can afford it a guard (on shift) for each house.

Well, that is us Malaysians, and our ’prison’ mentality. We actually imprison ourselves, and I suppose its is safer for people to live in a prison than for many of us us to live outside, where we also ‘imprison’ ourselves.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Old but not antique

At least 50 years old. Its a collectors item. Saw one in Kuantan (Malaysia) last week but could not make it stop. Luckily saw almost identical this week in Kuala Lumpur, the photoes. Except for the modified engine electrical system, the rest seemed original.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Yesterday, yes I was there when it happened.

I was not in the actual concert hall, I was watching the show on (B&W) TV.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Some time I need some humour.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


In ones life one may meet a lot faces, some time one likes the face, sometime no, sometime one is fascinated, other time just could not careless, but faces one meets, one remembers some and one forgets most ...... even if one meets again. Some time ones dreams of a face, sometimes just at a glance, probably hundreds of thousands faces one sees eye to eye, other in photographs, and others probabaly when surfing the internet. Others one might tells oneself "I wish I can meet that face again", but most not to be.

The photoes were taken at a party yesterday. Like them?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Just doing a job

Its a part of my job to travel to Taiping (Malaysia) every so often. In the early days I used to stay the night in Ipoh (Malaysia) but soon I was a bit bored of Ipoh. Not that Ipoh is not an interesting place but I soon got bored with the hotels I stayed in. Don't ask me why.

And so I decided to travel up to Taiping to spend the night after I have finished my jobs south of Ipoh and in Ipoh. I have a few other jobs to do in Taiping, and in those days when I used to spent the night in Ipoh, I drove up the next morning to Taiping.

In Taiping I used to spend the night at Sri Malaysia Hotel Taiping . Its a big chain of budget hotels. Its at a good location, but I wanted a hotel right in Town. So I ended up at this hotel. Its a pleasant little hotel.

It close to the Taiping Main Masjid.

And one of my favourite view of Taiping its the range of hills (more like a range of mountain) behind the Town. Been up there when I was a school boy, and I intend to go up the hill again (perhaps someday). And from the Hotel I could see the hill very clearly.

And I am fascinated with some old buildings in Taiping.
The Perak Museum, which is under renovation is beautiful.

An old high official (British) residence probably (now used as a Malaysian Army Club).

An an old colonial wooden house, which seemed to have been neglected but looked like its under repair now.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hari Raya AidilFitri 2008 (Eid el Fitr 1429)

Allah-u Akbar!, Allah-u Akbar!, Allah-u Akbar!. Selamat Hari Raya every one (Eid Mubarak)
The Hari Raya fell on 1st Oct. 2008 (in Malaysia that is), a Wednesday. And fasting month for another year is gone. How many of us will be here in the next fasting month, next Ramadan?
Every Muslim should always look forward toa fasting month and is sad when the fasting month (Ramadan) is gone. Fasting month is a month of many blessings. A hungry day and one always look foreward to ‘iftar’, the breaking of the fast at sunset. And a Muslim feels sad when the fasting month is gone, sad that a month of blessing is gone.
At home, we always seems to be blessed. Our table is full when the family gets together fot ‘iftar’.

And when the family is away, we still have enough.

For me this year Hari Raya is very special. I was given a very expensive present Hari Raya gift by my daughter Souraya. I was given a laptop, an Acer Aspire One. I have in all my life (to the best of my rememberance) never received such an expensive gift before, such a valuable gift.

And for remembrance of this Hari Raya, I have included here a video of an azan, a Subuh prayer azan, by Ustaz Haji Indra Gunawan, an Idonesian Al-Hafiz ( person who can remember and recite the whole of the Koraan) at our local prayer house (surau), in Wangsa Maju Kuala Lumpur, on the morning of Sunday 28th September 2008, just 2 days before the Hari Raya.

We thank Allah for our good fortune and goood health this year.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I have neglected this blog somehow.

I have been busy with my two latest blogs, which are closer to my heart.

I shall get back into this blog later.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Those were the days.

My friends, as if the world would never end.

I had my first Lambretta as a student in the UK. Similar to the above. And I shall never forget the accident I had on it (a total wreck but it was repaired by the Insurance and like new it was), the other unmentionable pleasures on it and the trip to Northern Europe (with a friend) with it. And the cash I got when I sold it, enough for me to for a holiday in Spain.

The accident? I had just newly bought the scooter, and I was driving to the Devils Dyke from Brighton, when at a T-junction I could not stop to let through the heavy traffic, so to play safe I hit the road "Give Way' sign post. It was in England then, a kind passersby took me to the Hove Hospital where they cleaned and stitched up my head wounds (then crash helmet was not mandatory, and my thick rimmed glasses saved my face from further damage), washed up my blood splattered clothings. They being honest people then, I did not loose a single 'penny' from my pockets in my clothings. They even sent me back to my dig and I looked like a proper stitched up Frankestine. And my friends took care of my wrecked scooter by sending it to a workshop.

But I could not really compete with the Mods of London who really decorated their more powerful Lambretta.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Home made.

Home made firework, in a thick bamboo container.

And home made sedan chair, of bamboo frame, in a shape of a boat.

All for a couple, in a wedding ceremony in Malaysia.

And then the night after the official marriage ceremony, they are made to ride on the sedan chair, carried on the shoulders of the village youths, and greeted with the fireworks.

This is not just another noise!

This may sound like a noise but its not. It has a recognised beat to it. Its a kompang, (similar beat but with a drum added), a bit noisy but the people there liked it.

It was at a Malay wedding.

And the night before they have this saucer dance (Malay = tari piring) in honour of the bride and the groom.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Medicine man of Temerloh (Malaysia).

He is only available on Sundays at the location..

His pantun, and sinsong ways of selling his medicines attract the crowd.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I like this place.

There is a town in Malaysia called Taiping

It was the centre of activities for tin-mining for a long time, initially when tin was earlier discovered and mined in Malaya (then, Malaysia now). I am told that ‘taiping’ is a Chinese word for ‘forever peace’ (I stand corrected here) because when the Chinese first arrived in that area and started to mine tin, they were opposed strongly by the local Malays. I don’t really know the history of Taiping, but every time Taiping is mentioned, the name Ngah Ibrahim a local Malay Leader, keeps cropping up. It was because of all the fighting, feuds and killings that brought the British into Taiping to established a ‘peace’ town. In the olden days it was called Matang (again I stand corrected).

However I shall not go into the history of Taiping, as my knowledge in this area is almost nil. I just want o say that Taiping is one of the most pleasant town in Malaysia today. As you drive into Taiping, into the older part of the town, the streets seems to criss-crossed, the shop houses (mostly two storey brick buildings with 5 footways, built before the WW II) in square formation, with some old mosques and the Taiping Hospital in the middle. At the end of the town is the Administrative area. Go further and you are in open space called the Taiping Lake Garden, where in the old days it used to be the tin mining areas. Now it’s a very green area, with old trees, mostly raintrees and matured tall tembusu trees. Just on the fringe of the Taiping Lake Garden you will find the Prison (which used to be the main prison in Malaya), the Taiping Museum, and all the schools. Go further you will end up at the foot of the hills which used to be known as Maxwell Hill, now called Bukut Larut. Just before the foot of the hills you will find the very well maintained and kept British War Cemetary, and a few natural cool water pools. I remembergoing to those pools in my younger days. If you dare to go by the Land Rover up the hill, through some of the most curvy, narrow and winding roads in the country, you will find yourself in cool air of the hills, where even daffodils will grow. And from the hill you will see the whole of the Taiping Town. In my young days I had hiked up the hill from the bottom, not by the road but by climbing the steep slopes.

Taiping has got a military garrison, and in addition to the prison it also has got an intern centre where people are keep without trail in a camp called the Kemunting Camp, where political dissidents are kept under the Internal Security Act. Thus Taiping peaceful as its is, it has an evil secret which is quite unpleasant.

Whatever evil Taiping has, it has some of the most pleasant aspects, the people are friendly, air fresh and cool (according to weather records, Taiping had the highest rainfall in the whole country) and the food reasonable good. Just the other night I went to their night food stalls and I had this taufoo and sotong kangkong.

By looking at the photo you will know what they are. And in the end my wife and I dug into the concoction,

and we had a very pleasant dinner.

Once a year this region has its fruit season. And you can imagine what variety of fruits they have.
Durian, with skin,

and when you open it and keep in a plastic container. See the beautiful flesh on the seeds,


Cependek, a sort of smallish jack fruit,


And a few others like petai , langsat ,

and even bananas.

Durian and petai are fruits smelling to high heaven and the other fruits are all sweet to the taste that when you care eat them with your hands and fingers you will have sticky fingers (you may even lick your fingers to get the better taste of those fruits). Most locval over here eat fruits with their hands, and you can imagine the results.

And now after going there a few times a year on duty, I am just beginning to like the place. Remember that I went to a residential school about 40 km south of this town. So I am no stranger to Taiping really.

Taiping can be reached on the net through ‘taiping talk’

Saturday, July 19, 2008

wedding gift containers.

In a Malay wedding in Malaysia, not only the exchange of vows is essential, but the exchange of gifts between the bride and the groom are also essentials. The quality of the wedding shows by the quality of the gifts and the containers where the gifts are put in during the wedding ceremony.

Below are some of the better quality gift in the containers that are exchanged nowadays. The photoes show what the bride will present to the groom; note the quality of the containers.

Friday, July 18, 2008

We liked the British.

They came, they saw and they conquered. And we (the Malays) subjugated ourselves to them.

When I read in an eGroup (which I am a member) about what happened in a kampung (village) in Pahang, Malaysia, after the WW II and just before the Malayan Emergency of 1948 or about, on how they formed groups to fight the British in the Administrative District where my kampung (village) was situated, then I begin to recollect what happened in my own kampung (village) at about the same time.

Those trying to fight the British were what I might call anti-British. They were branded as bandits and Communists by the British rulers. But in my own kampung (village) and in the neighbouring kampung (village), we were pro-British. The anti-British kampungs (villages) were only about 10 miles downriver from our kampong (village). In those days paved roads were rare commodities, travel was always by the main rivers, in this case the wide and slow flowing Pahang River.

Let us start with the village school, a primary school where 6 years to 12 years old went, and I went there in my childhood days. The British Doctors & nurses used to come to the school to medically examine us and to take care of our health. They brought medicines, powdered milk and distributed (for free) the milk to the pupils.

Our lives were basically under (and ruled) the British. And I had the impression that we liked them. The British District Officer (looking after the District Administration and the Land Office) used to come to our kampung (village) once a year during the collection of land revenue. And he was a chatty chap as well, though he talked with a very strong English/British accent. Small in stature and almost fair haired, I remember him as smoking a pipe, young guy, in white shorts, whiter shirt, white stocking up to about just below the knees and wearing a sort of leather shoes, and carrying a walking stick. And he was always there to supervise the collection of the land revenue. He came in a house boat (pulled along by a diesel engined boat) similar to what the Sultan then had.

And we used to be given free film show every month, well almost, on showing how bad the bandits (Communists) were. Propaganda that was. Of course there were other films showing development for the country, and even Charlie Chaplin films which the folks loved best.

We had British soldiers coming into the kampung (village) showing the kampung folks how to use shotguns (and sometime semi-automatic weapons). They always seemed to have biscuits to be given to the children, I was one of them; but we could not really tell whether they were dog’s biscuits. And at time Gurkha soldiers used to march through our kampung (village). No British or Gurkha soldier got shot in our village, though in some other villages a few miles away some people did not took to much liking that the British and Gurkhas soldiers who visited those villages.

Our village is by the wide and slow flowing Pahang River. And about 3 to 4 miles inland the British buffalo bombers were bombing nests of bandits (Communists) in the jungle and by the hills. Later, in life, after reading the book My Side of History by Chin Peng (the Communist leader of Malaya), it was his men that the British was bombing.

Why I conclude that we were pro-British? We never made the British and Gurkha soldiers felt unwelcome. And we never took pop shots at them. And our Penghulu (village head man) was on very friendly terms with them. The British provided him with a revolver which he carried around for his self (and probably family)protection, though he was not (as far as I knew) given a personal bodyguard. But his house was well fenced up, and many thick stockades were built on the inner side of the fencing and the villagers took turn to guard his house at night. The bandits (Communists) used to come many times at nights to try to capture him (the Communist has high price on his head), but they mostly only managed to shoot into the air, it was too dark to see their target. Over the years the Communists came many times on many nights. And the villagers guarding his house fired back, using whatever shotguns they had. And in the morning we children then used to go to the ‘fort’ to hear what happened the night before, the men boasting about their shooting experience, and to collect whatever bullets that got stuck in the trees surrounding the ‘fort’, bullets from the shooting the night before. No villager got killed and until today I do not know if any of the Communist even got killed. And the penghulu (village headman) went about managing the village in the day time as though nothing happened the night before. In fact in the day time it was very safe in the village then, the village folks just went about their business, planting padi or tapping rubber trees.

The penghulu (village headman) must have been a brave man, and the British liked him. In fact in some ways he tried to please the British by being very good to them and speaking in a soft tone to the British and to the villagers, just like the English speaking their language in the colonies.

In the neighbouring village, the same thing happened and again to the best of my knowledge no fatalities occurred, even though the Communists attacked that penghulu’s (village headman) house more often than that at our village. Now this penghulu (village headman) was more dignified looking, he had been given a revolver and an armed bodyguard by the British. He used to dress like the British, white shorts, white shirt, white stocking up to just below the knees, walking with a walking stick (British gait), hair well greased and combed back, and sometimes wearing a hat, but in most cases wearing a songkok ( the Malay velvet head gear). He was on a higher wanted list than the penghulu (village headman) of my village. This neighbouring penghulu (village headman) guy was a proper coloured colonial whiteman then.

Our two villages were the model pro-British village in the Administrative District then.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Abdullah Munshi

The voyage of Abdullah, translated by AE Coope.

This book gives insights into what the States of Pahang, Trengganu, and Kelantan were like in about AD 1838. These States are all now in the new country called Malaysia.

I wish to just quote a few paragraphs from the book.

“I saw that the country of Pahang looked like an orchard; there were no market places or shopping centres; nor were there any regular paths, except in Kampong China where there was a practicable path about 100 yards long. I was sorry to see how neglected and overgrown the country was owing to the laziness and slackness of the people. But anything you sow or plant will grow, and all the trees looked fruitful”

“As for the people, as far as I could see, not one in ten did any work; the majority of them loafed about all day in poverty and vice. And each man carried four or five kinds of weapons and never parted from them”

“There were some who liked to make themselves smart and wore fine jackets and trousers, but they did not earn their living by work”

“Many of them were thin and pale – obvious opium smokers”.

"The people’s houses were all made of thatch; some were large and some small, all of them on dry land. The surroundings of the houses were thick with undergrowth, and they were sighted higgledy-piggledy, some in the jungle, some on the shore. Some of the compounds were fenced, some not; each man followed his own fancy. There were clusters of houses at intervals all along the river front”

“Under the houses was a lot of filth; each house had under it a puddle and piles of rubbish; when one entered a house, the stink seemed to fill one’s nose. Some people just let the undergrowth grow. Some lit smudges every day under the house to smoke out mosquitoes; if one went into these houses, one at once had achoking feeling and ones eyes watered and smarted”

The question is, has the above changed?

Of Trengganu he said,

"I question the Head of Customs …………".

“’There is no market at this time of day,’ he said. ‘The market is held only in the evening. As regards the laws of the country, you must not keep an umbrella up when passing the house of a Raja. And you must not wear shoes or yellow clothes of fine muslin. All these are absolutely forbidden’”

“But when it comes to prohibitions which are sensible and beneficial to mankind, nothing is said! What about the smoking of opium, which ruins people! What about all the different kinds of gambling that go on, and bad customs learned from the Chinese! There is no doubt that they ruin the people, but they are not forbidden”.

“What about clothes stiff with dirt, not washed for four or five months! (Full of lice too – sit awhile and catch some lice as you sit!) That is not forbidden.”

“And all through the town there are puddles and rubbish and filth and undergrowth full of snakes and almost high enough to harbour tigers. But that does not matter!”

“The houses were scattered about without order or arrangement; each man had built as pleased, and the fences of compounds were not aligned. The houses were high and thatched, and surrounded were filthy, and under the houses was rubbish and also stagnant water. Most of the houses had piles of coconut husks under them; they used to light it with at night to smoke out the mosquitoes. All around the houses were coconuts. In each cluster of houses was a chapel, also thatched.”

“The houses had no regular frontage; some had their backs to the path, some their front, some were built on a line with it; in some places the path between the houses was so narrow that one could only squeeze through.”

“The people’s clothes were poor and dirty, and their persons were unclean. But everyone carried four of five javelins and a kris and cutlass. Their work consists of carrying weapons hither and thither! It is the women who sell in the market and act as hawkers and do all the work necessary for the earning of a living. But the men are drones; they eat and sleep and repair their weapons – that is they do.”

Has the custom changed todate?

On Kelantan then.

“The shore was thick with thousands of people, all armed; every man had six or seven javelin, a chopper or cutlass or sword, and a kris at his waist; some had guns – they bristled like the branches of dead trees.”

“I notice that among all those thousands of men there were none really fair skinned; one or two were fairly light-brown, the rest quite black.”

And later in the book,

“As we went along I saw many trees which had been shattered or had their branches broken by shot; some indeed had collapse. And many houses had been riddled with shots”

“In distance the cannon roared uncreasingly”
“On top of the fortification were two large cannons which were continually firing and registering hit on the Bendahara’s house”

And the stories in Kelantan was most interesting.

Nothing really has changed in all the three States, except that now instead of using weapons, they use political will.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Another artist

This morning when passing the Shell Fountain at Kuantan Town (Malaysia) I happened to see some painting being displayed. I stopped to take a look and found them to be good (at least to me). One showing Munshi Abdullah, famous both in Malaysia and Singapore, arriving in Trengganu (Malaysia) in his book Kesah Pelayaran Abdullah (a must read book called 'The Voyage of Abdullah' translated by A.E. Coope, The Lotus Library, Oxford University Press 1967).

And another a Malay worrier named Abd Rahman Limbong showing he was about to fight the British soldiers in the early days of Trengganu (Malaysia). Those soldiers happened to be mostly Malays recruited by the British then.

And the artist was Osman bin Limat, a local artist.

He told me that he had been an artist for a long time, probably one of the first few who started the artist Association in Kuantan (Malaysia). I have no mean to confirm that. But his work was good.

Kuantan (Malaysia) seems to have quite a few artist, good ones they are. I am familiar with Ismail Hussein a book where I have included many of his art work, at Hyatt Regency Hotel by the Kuantan (Malaysia) beach. Earlier I wrote in my blog about him.

And recently about Mohd Noor a new comer in the local art world, I am told.

My earlier blog on an artist in Kuantan (Malaysia) was on Artist Mee .

I am sure this meeting with Osman, the artist will not be the last meeting with good artist of Kuantan Town (Malaysia).


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

wasps again

(Click on the posting heading to see the previous story on wasps)

The story of red wasp seems to present itself in real life. We discovered a red wasp nest right in front of our windows, of our apartment in Kuantan (Malaysia).

It was about the size of a soccer ball.

And it was active, and may grow bigger if allowed to remain there. However it was to be noted that the insects built the nest on a stalk of a palm leave, so it was not on a very strong support. The stalk of the palm leave may give away due to the weight of the wasp nest (the weight will increase as the size of the nest grows) or that the palm leaves may die when the stalk of those leaves at the bottom dies (one after the other, in a series normally) and falls off. If either event happens the nest falls off (together with the stalk and the leaves), then we the residents of the apartments will be in such a danger of being attacked and stung by these wasps. Actually in such a panic situation the wasp will attack anything that moves, and we human tend to move about out in our daily activities.

We informed the local Fire Brigade (in Malaysia its called The Fire and Rescue Department), whom we were told would be the right Department to report to, that morning when we discovered the wasps’ nest. They came when it was dark (normally wasps cannot see its target in the dark, we are told), unprepared as they were, they managed to get some rags and a pole, and they burned down the wasps nest.

The next morning I took these photographs.

The wasps casualty.

The next, in one of the nest's layers (looking like a bees nest), still having some of the live larva inside, and a wasp trying to salvage the nest.

A closer look at the dead larva on the ground next to the burnt nest.

And looking up I could still see a few of the live wasps trying to locate the nest at the palm stalk, they are dangerous now, they will seek revenge.