26 December 2009

DIA Sahaja Yang Kekal

Al fatihah

Novelist Ariffin Ngah Dies

KUALA TERENGGANU, Dec 25 (ernama) -- A well-known novelist in Terengganu, Ariffin Ngah, 70,died at his house in Kampung Bukit Tunggal on Friday.

Ariffin, who was said to be suffering from various diseases since five years ago, died at about 1.15pm.

His wife, Zainab Muhamad, 67, said her husband had diabetes, kidney problem, and high blood pressure and was discharged from hospital last Sunday.

She said Ariffin, who used to work with Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka, had been writing Malay novels since he was a teacher and had won several awards, including the Terengganu literary award last year.

His works included "Anugerah Wahyu", "Tangisan Pusaka Bangsaku" and "Revolusi Kenyir".

Ariffin, who has 12 children and 50 grand children, was buried at the Kampung Bukit Tumbuh Muslim cemetery after the Asar prayer.


Last pose for Pakcik's camera
... eyeing with a smile ... not really seeing.

Pakcik have little to say but a lot to remember of the gentleman I dearly addressed as ‘Cikgu’. Indeed he was a very established writer with many awards, and a real ‘cikgu’ at heart, full of compassion for children and their education and well-being.

“ Hassan, tulislah riwayat hidup …..biar saya editkan….” I cannot help recalling his gentle voice urging me over and over. He was so sure he could make something worth reading of what I see as my simple life. A great writer made the offer and I kept on giving excuses. Pakcik only began to see his point of view too late, when his eyesight had started to fail him. I knew I had missed the chance of life time.

And now I remember Cikgu Ariffin with a lot of affection for what he stood for in life, but with regret because I had failed to live up to his expectation. Now I harbour the hope, oh, but just a dream, that one day I shall be able to dedicate a work for him. May Allah bless him.

Sinar Harian 6 months ago

.. Perjuangan yang belum selesai ..

- Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan -

13 December 2009

Whither Goest Thou?

By now all discussions and excitement over the results of UPSR examination should have petered out. For the children concerned and their families, it is still an unsettling time. It is so until the children are placed in their respective schools by mid-January. Strange enough, Pakcik have my concern that has nothing to do with my own family.


In April this year, Pakcik received an SOS from a primary school situated about 25 km away. The school serves a relatively poor community. There were just 40 pupils in standard 6. Could I help with a group of 20? UPSR results over the past years had been dismal, often a year without a single pupil with 5A’s; the best year on record was when 2 pupils scored that elusive result. How ironical it was when the country as a whole and the state of Terengganu in particular had been jubilant over great successes through the years.

Somewhat with a heavy heart but duty bound, Pakcik obliged the school. So the next five months saw Pakcik driving that 25km distance once a week. That was all I could afford. However, the sight of cheerful faces of about 20 small boys and girls, the age of my two younger grandsons in Kuala Lumpur, welcoming Pakcik, was reward enough. All the same as I watched the innocent faces I could not help asking myself, “Why should I do this for these children and not for my own flesh and blood?”

Finally, on the day the UPSR results were announced, an excited call came through just to tell Pakcik that THREE children from that school scored 5A’s. Of 40 candidates, this small number gives a success figure of 7.5%, a far cry from the state’s acclaimed performance of 15.3%. There was a celebration, nevertheless, as that was a new record for the school.

Yet away in Kuala Lumpur, the school headmistress of one of Pakcik’s grandchildren could not conceal her disappointment that only EIGHTY candidates of her school scored 5A’s, a drop from the previous NINETY; how ironical that was when in my corner of the country, a school celebrated over an increase of ONE pupil from TWO to THREE, a whopping 50% increase!


Who are the three pupils who jointly broke the school record?

1. A girl whose very poor father passed away barely two months before her UPSR exam. Without hard counseling and coaxing by her teachers the distraught girl would have abandoned school for good there and then.

2. A girl whose parents operate a small village food-stall.

3. A boy whose father braves the South China Sea in a small boat at the mercy of the weather – for a few ringgits a day or nothing.


One would expect the poor families to rejoice over the success. It came as a shock to learn that they would not allow the children to get into any boarding schools. They could ill afford the few hundred ringgits to prepare their children to join one. After all the village secondary school had been there for ages, within easy reach and for free. So what was the fuss all about? Their children and other children had been conditioned to accept this reality.

I was saddened by what I heard. Would the families concerned allow their children to go into boarding if there was a sponsor who would take care of all expenses, was my next question. The answer to Pakcik’s question came a few days later. Yes, in that case the families would allow the children to leave home. Accordingly, their teachers have helped to submit the necessary applications for the three children. .


It is Pakcik’s hope that the three children will get admission into a boarding school, giving hope for a better future for themselves and their families. It is strange that Pakcik have no such concern for my own flesh and blood. It is of no consequence that they do not wish be separated from their parents, but these three from this community do. Perhaps, this may be a prelude to Almanar starting the sponsorship/anak-angkat scheme, an idea that Pakcik have been towing with for some time.


Will 2010 promise another record-braking year for this school and its poor children? Pakcik have been requested to continue helping next year’s standard six but teachers see gloom ahead. I was horrified to be told that of the new group of about 40 pupils moving from standard 5 to standard 6, TEN pupils, or 25% of them, do not know how to read and write! “ Pakcik’d better believe this”, I was warned. I can only give a sigh – negeriku, tanah tumpah darahku, kebanggaanku.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.

P.S.:For their past good performance the four boys of Pakcik’s clan earned a short trip ‘overseas’ early this month to see ‘Cat’.