09 March 2011

With a sigh ( Pt 5 – sec III) – Awang Goneng’s Comments

( C ) Of reading books Vs
How right Awang Goneng is. He said ‘hold on tight’
‘They probably don't read a book in a week because of tiredness and minyak Cap Kapak (for the aching limbs

I know, by comparison with children in other big towns, how much love for reading is among the children in my part of the country. I look at the library of a club in Kuala Lumpur and marvel at the large number of members’ children busy returning and borrowing books, each with more than one copy in hand. I visit the beautiful library of my famed bandaraya and can only draw my famous sigh at the pathetic scene.

The so-called ‘c-cafés’ are found in all the corners of my neighbourhood. They exist even in the midst of low cost housing estates. There is money to be made and the operators have no qualm over the damage their private enterprise does to the young kids. It is a common sight to see children from primary schools spending whatever little pocket money they have at these places, sometimes during school hours. Here I would like to relate a case involving a young brother of a pupil at Almanar.

One day a Form 2 pupil moaned over his failure to persuade his Form 1 younger brother to attend tuition class at Almanar, being so hooked up on computer games with friends. Whatever few cents he receives every morning from his single mother, who worked as a helper in a teacher’s home to supplement the small monthly allowance from Social and Welfare Department, would be spent on computer games. Not enough, the boy worked part-time helping to do the dishes at a food-stall nearby, just to earn a few ringgits, all for the computer games.

And now this rich state is applauded for having started distributing computers to school children. I would have thought the students at the universities ( of ‘taraf anatara bansa’, no doubt) have greater needs for them.
We have three desk tops at Almanar for children to work on. Of late I have to begin tight control over these computers after realising that, among other things, the computers were on to provide ‘music while you work’ - working indeed! Furthermore, seeing the many prohibited items sold at ‘pasar malam’, I fear other uses/misuses of our computers; these are not unlikely hearing what the children have been saying to Pakcik. They are a clever lot on the novel uses of computers and hand-phone with cameras. These young kids are one up on Pakcik on taking pictures and sharing them through friends’ hand-phones. I only know how to operate a less-than-one-hundred ringgit Nokia, which is complicated enough for me. One day a boy confided that he had just received a picture of xxxxx through his hand phone. The subject was a known pupil of the same school! In fact the pleasure of sharing such pictures is common among his friends, girls no exception. I shuddered at the disclosure.

In short, who wants to read books which takes ages to read and understand when a computer can give all the things one needs without having a stack of reference books to page through.
Of ‘tiredness and minyak cap lapak’, I think ‘minyak cap rimaa’ is better.


Sebagai akhir kalam, Pakcik would like to apologise if dear readers, especially teachers, do not share the views expressed above.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.


Wan Sharif said...

Reading habit need some role model or encouragement.. I did not have both as a child. I was encouraged to read Straits Times cartoons when in secondary school by My Headmaster (then) after I was sent to see him for making english sentence such as "the bicycle is below the tree"..
Now there is so much pressure on the children to excel that reading books other than their examination subjects is almost a no no..
with all the tuitions attended by the children (required by school or in competition with peers).. I believes there is not much times for reading.. with all the computer games, facebooks etc..
Ah .. C'est la vie..Non?!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Dear Pakcik,
Gone were the days when a child gets transported to a different world just by reading a book. Aaahhh....the smell of fresh ink on paper... Nowadays, their eyes glued to the computer/TV screen, to the point of being rude to whoever happen to visit the house. Usually, it falls on the cats to greet and meet guests. Too bad if they're allergic or claiming to be "geli". purrr....meow!

sintaicharles said...

Though Internet-surfing provides us a myriad of information, I still strongly believe reading books is the best way to improve one's mind and language proficiency.I have always regretted not having spent enough time on reading. If I had borrowed books from the library on regular basis, my Bahasa Melayu and English grades in the SRP and SPM could have been better.

ninotaziz said...

Dearest Pakcik,

I am here again today just after I have finished the night ritual of reading stories to the girls. Tonight it was Harold's Purple Crayon, a 1950s classic. I am lucky because if I am not at home early enough, our dear Bik will read Nasib Sang Buaya or Ratu Balqis or some other malay book to the girls.

So your topic is so timely.

First and foremost, I need to tell you how much I miss dropping by and sharing and sometimes - just smiling for one full minute especially when I see comments like"....the bicycle is below the tree" (I am still chuckling to myself...)

Of course you know my thoughts on reading .... it is like breathing to me. But it really needs to start before kids go to school. How can we ensure children have access to books?

How can we get libraries, library boxes, library vans out there to enough children?

Malaysia is rich enough that global charity organisations with such expertise will not open such facilities in Malaysia and yet we are so obsessed with building our economy, we forget this basic tool to move forward in the long run.

Sorry for the long comment. I am in between jobs, I leave RSGC on the 14th and I start work again on the 16th. So I know I will have to disappear again as the new job will need all my concentration in the beginning. And the book of legends is taking up precious sleeping hours in the wee hours of the night.

But I do miss all of you...til then, salam mesra and take care. Salam to Makcik. Please tell her my chillies are wilting and I would appreciate her advice. Everything else - the plants, and yes,the girls,are fine!

Al-Manar said...

Ayah Wan,

The bicycle is below the tree,
Where are you me cannot see?

Consider ourselves lucky that we do not have to go through the life of our grandchildren today. On the other hnd they do not have to bother about the multiplication table.

Al-Manar said...


You pprobably started with pencil and dipping pen nib in a bottle of fresh Parker ink, hence what you remember of the fresh smell. I began with the use of slate and limestone pencil. It was the final phase of the stone age. And do you know what we use to erase the slate in a hurry? Even the cats will scuttle away ...

Even Ayah Wan may be past the stone age too.

Thu Mar 10, 04:09:00 AM

Al-Manar said...


Your are not satisfied with your old SRP and SPM results. Do you honestly feel your pupils with excellent results on paper today have the same proficiency as you had then? Your pupils are lucky to have you as their English teacher. I am in total agreement with you what internet-surfing can and cannot help us to achieve.

Unknown said...

dear pakchik, this is a topic very close to my heart. if i had my way, my time would be spent reading, reading and reading. and i see that in my children too. only the media has changed. now they read from the computer screens. they would start by looking at pictures, then go on to reading comics online and gradually to words-and-no-pics stage. i don't object much to their reading the comics because i see they also have the dictionary-online page open to check on unfamiliar words. but of course we have to keep a close watch. and not to say they are not attracted to the siren songs of facebook, twitter and such. just that everything has to be within limits.
we explained how these things can be misused by irresponsible people causing harm and heartache to other people. are we doing enough? who can say for sure...
for some reason, our computer would just shut down by itself when you try to play online games. this has been so for quite a while now. we don't know how this happened. you bet i'm not in any hurry to remedy that situation...

Al-Manar said...


Dearest Nino,I knew you were busy with your book and all and am pleasantly surprised to see you dropping by. Your new job, what, where ? – (in KT? - who knows). Whisper to me.

I did not read books to my children but, night after night in the dark, I made up imprompto stories about Pak Pandir after creating a scenario – his village we called Kelompong upstream of a river; family, friends, habits etc – river with croc, ikan yu, ikan merah, ikan kuning, ikan puteh, ikan hijau (and all the coulours!), ikan lapan, ikan sembilan, ikan sepuluh (and other numbers!)finally ikan buntal;etc, etc. The kids would love counting in chorus the varuios names. After so many minutes would come the incredible adventures of Pak Pandir – in a bus, in a lift, in a super market, in plane, at sea, roller skating, climbing durian trees etc etc , making the ends hilariously silly. Coming to think of it there were enough for a book!

Makcik is away in Kalumpang (watch the name of Pak Pandir’s village!) near Tg Malim looking after her aged mother who has not been well. In this hot weather, with my dislike for watering plants, her chillies are wilting too, drooping and looking so sad!

Al-Manar said...


I am glad to have written about something close to yur heart, Nali. You mentioned comics. I believe in good comics for children. For my children I was able to purchase in london many years ago almost complete sets of Astrix and Tin Tin. One never gets tired reading good comics. These were handed down to my grandchildren who read them over and over again.

I suppose there must be good cartoons on TV which can help children in conversation.

Getting hooked up by computer games is the least beneficial, if not about the more damaging in terms of time mangement.

kaykuala said...

Dear Pak Cik,
Nothing beats reading as one is focussed on just one book at a time. The internet provides too many choices for young people. Now everyone seems to be on Facebook. When they communicate, its the same as their text messages.
Apparently their essays are also influenced with such forms of writing.
I suppose with discipline one can still access good Queen's English web-sites.
It's a pity many did'nt seem to exploit this opportunity.

Al-Manar said...

Dear Hank,

How nice it is to hear from you again. Since you went 'international' and in a field I am very weak at, I only visit you and just watch dumbfounded at the progress you have made. Of late ,however, you have not been updating your work.
Our friend AHS is takig a long leave and I do miss him too.

I think reading is close to our hearts - of the early generations. We see, as you commented, the disadvantages of leaving non-interactive books aside as a media for reading. We can only sigh helplessly. As you said, I fel sorry to our young people catching up so fast on simplifying things, throwing aside the necessary grammar, spelling and so on - not making it better in literary aspect, if not worse.

Wan Sharif said...

I was rather "barrok (naughty)" at 5-6 years old.. that somehow has forced my mother to send me to school. as kampung Pulau Duyong lacked parents who were keen to send children to school at that time.. The Tuan Guru Besar then accepted me to join standard one in 1960.. the last year when slate and limestone pencil were in used at Sekolah Rendah Pulau Duyong. It was like Pakcik said.. the final phase of the stone age.
P.s. how come I can still hear somebody chuckling at my bicycle sentence..(that was in form remove..)

Iskandar aka DR Bubbles said...


Nice entry Pakcik, I am reviving my efforts to build libraries for orphans. You can find out more at my blog.

DR Bubbles

Al-Manar said...

DR Bubbles,
I have visited yor blog without leaving comments. I just wonder whether you are a Dr in person.

Organising libraries is to my mind a very worthwhile initiative. One centre for poor/orphan children of Form 1 to Form 5 will soon be operating in my vicinity and I will be ery much involved in tuturing the kids. I certainly will attempt to make the authority in charge (Religious Dept) provide a library in due course. Otherwise I will do what you have been doing; more so as I will be close to the children in class.

I would certainly like to get some ideas from you if you care to email me your address for communication purposes.