30 August 2011


“Di hari raya
Terkenang daku kepada si dia
Kampungku indah nun jauh di sana
Ayah serta bundaku….”

Kepada sahabat sahabat semua Pakcik and Makcik ucapkan


Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan


And to my loved one, Makcik, I wish her 'Many Returns of the Day' as well. What an exceptional day, today is.

25 August 2011

Tell me (pt II ) – Lidah Buaya!

So Aloe Vera and Lidah Buaya are one and the same. One silent reader rang me to say that he had heard of ‘Lidah Buaya’ but never thought it was what he had known as Aloe Vera.And from the few responses we know this wonderful plant had so many uses. Ninotaziz told that the plant does bloom but very rarely. As a matter of fact, a few day before I wrote my Aloe Vera posting I was greatly surprised, when while helping Makcik watering her plants one very hot afternoon, I saw

a long stem sticking out from one of the aloe vera pots. I immediately called her and she was equally surprised. After about ten years or more we took it for granted that aloe vera was good for anything else but as flowering plant.

The flowers grew pinkish and after about ten days the flowers remained as close pods and wilted away. We will have to wait for another ten years to see the flowers again!

So, dear visitors, grow this plant for decorative purposes as well as all the medicinal values as we have now learnt from the comments. I thank you for the feedbacks.

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22 August 2011

Tell me ( Pt I }- Aloe Vera?

I think we have had enough of dreams, and should step down to earth, and watch the real objects around. I happen to see plants in the grounds of Nuri, our home. Among many plants are pots and pots of a kind, according Makcik, called aloe vera. It sounds exotic enough and I dare not argue with her, not within my area of expertise. But I am certain there must be scientific names which may sound even more exotic.

Makcik has her pots, certainly more than twenty, on the ground,

on the edge of low brick walls and

even on the floor of our verandah.

I presume it all started with one pot many, many years ago. The one plant must have 'beranak', multiplied. (Incidentally I read in the paper that the new edition of Dewan Bahasa Malay dictionary, which is already a kind of English 'rojak', will have many foreign words, enriching the Bahasa Melayu - so it seems. I dare not laugh. If now we are wrestling with poor standard of English in Malaysian schools, we will soon have poor standard of Malay, a kind of ‘global’ Bahasa Melayu, no longer bearing any resemblance to, or traces of the celebrated Wilkinson’s or Pendita Zaaba’s. To reciprocate, I expect the Oxford or Cambridge dictionaries will also adopt many Malay words of 'taraf antara bangsa', like 'beranak' or 'beranuck' , the way they have done with Malay 'amok' , also spelt 'amuck' - I suppose depending on whether it was spoken by Irish or Scottish English inn those colonial days.

Now, let's get back to Makcik's aloe vera. I would like my learned visitors, who are expert on plants (the like of my respected Tuan Temuk), to tell me two things:

a) Can aloe vera be turned into an edible dish instead of just a decoration?
b ) Does aloe Vera have flowers?

I do not ask a third question which concerns uses of aloe vera for its medicinal value as I have noticed a kind of cream in tubes bearing the word 'Aloe ...'. It may even be something to enhance the beauty of old and wrinkled skin. But please tell me about it anyway. At my age I need all the tips to remain beautifully wrinkled and ‘kuat’ ( the latter to run the tuition classes, mind you) - to be in English dictionaries as 'kowhat' or 'quact'.

Till I hear from you, I rest my case.

Selamat berpuasa and Selamat Hari Raya, including my friend Sintaitai.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

15 August 2011

Pakcik reminisces ( Pt 20 ) – I have a dream

In August 1963 Martin Luther King.Jr. said in his famous speech, “ I have a dream.”

That was 48 years ago at about the same time Pakcik, too, had a dream. I wanted a partner in life to share my pains and joys
"When I was young,
I fell in love
I asked my sweetheart
what lies ahead
Will we have rainbows,
day after day
Here's what my sweetheart said
Que Sera, Sera,
What will be will be."


And in August of the following year He granted my wish.

-------------- What lies ahead ?

However, one wakes up from a dream into another – But now it was no longer MY dream but OUR dream.

--------- We had our first princess

We had our first child to call our own. Then the dream continued.

My three ‘princesses’ ( EJ on the Princess Vandan Plas stands for East Malaysia Jesselton- Before Kota Kinabalu).

Three years later came our second, a hero.

----------------- Now we had two

We had a pair. But the dream did not end. Greedy, we wanted more. And HE granted us.

------------ With a princess and two heroes

Then He made it known to us through a gynecologist that we should ask for no more or else ....

We grew as a happy family. The children were big enough to entertain dreams of their own, surely.

--------- Togetherness - one happy family

Humans we were, we began to dream of acquiring ‘datukship’. And for that He has granted us ten - six heroes and four princesses.

--------------------- This is number ten to give us 'Datukship".

Will there be more? We have stopped dreaming.

Sooner or later we have to come to terms with what HE says:

---------------- Surah Alkahf

"Wealth and children are the ornament of this life ….. "

We have had most of what we dreamt for. Today, 47 years down the road our dream is simply that He grants us more days so that we can acquire more children, no longer our own but those who need love and care, the unfortunate.

--------------------- Orphans and of poor parents

Let us give these children a fighting chance to have a dream.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

11 August 2011

With a sigh ( Pt 8b ) – Bring in the clowns

Kotastar left the following comment against my post ‘With a sigh ( Pt 8a )’. The gentleman behind Kotastar, suffice to say a product of the famed Kirkby teachers’ training college, explained briefly how a teacher of his era was trained. Here is what he wrote:

‘Thank you for remembering Kirkby and Brinsford Lodge. Yes they were two teacher training colleges set up for Malaysians overseas. Successful for that period.Don't know if the same experiment will show similar result. Just to enlighten. We started reading the 'Chong Beng' book and ended with almost all editions of Shakespeare and not to mention other literary books the likes of authors Thomas Hardy, Conrad, L. Stevenson and other literary figures. Only then, we were able to speak and write English as it was. Maybe as good as the Queen's English itself. So no short cut, no brief induction courses will push our teachers and students to that height. It took good six /seven years of hard learning, practice AND 2+ years overseas in native English speaking countries to get us to that position.Similarly people like Shahnon Ahmad,Kassim Ahmad ( two Malay writers) English educated with strong command of Malay Language to be active and well known writers. Mind you English Literature and Sastera were two strong subjects in school.

Next,I attended our PAMKM (Persatuan Alumni Maktab Kirkby Malaysia last Tuesday at KL and surprisingly yr name was mentioned after I brought up your father- in- law's name. Dato Baharudin , Dr Shaari Isa and others know of your activities at AlManar. Our President Tan Sri Yahya too was surprised how an engineer got into such 'predicament' but with success. We referred to your 'kampong' near Tg Malim plus the durian tree.Ha.Ha what a small world. Just to let you know the old Collegians are still 'active' though many have even touch the octogenarian period.We are proud to be able to share your success story. Wishing that the teaching and learning of Malay and English too will find the lights in the tunnel.
Salam to you and 'family' Selamat Berpuasa dan Selamat Menyambut Shawal.”

I am truly humbled by what Kotastar related in the second part of his comment. A few truly learned people talked about Almanar and the person running it. It is praise indeed to be commented in that vein by these people. But my fear is that this may be a case of ‘Indah khabar dari rupa’.

Kotastar, you were not certain whether the ‘experiment’ you underwent to be a teacher in English would still produce good results today. I maintain we need not reinvent the wheel. Our ‘cerdik pandai’ have experimented and failed badly. And now we do not know how and where we have gone wrong that the result has been all but wrong. So now bring in the clowns.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.

08 August 2011

With a sigh ( Pt 8a ) – Bad English?

Why the bad English?

That was the headline on Sunday. It was followed by another question :
Are teachers incompetent, or school books unsuitable?


For many years, schools and pupils benefited from teachers who were trained at the two colleges ( not universities of taraf antarabangsa, mind you) in Kirkby and Wolverhampton. Those young men and women returned to Malaya and successfully taught English (Queen’s English) with pride and dedication for many years. Then we became very clever, with graduates and post-graduates, PhD and all coming home from countries like America, England, Australia etc. Every one was clever and had new ideas which had never been thought of by the likes of the lowly diploma holders from the two teachers’ training colleges. And so, the people in position implemented novel ideas. Not long ago a very senior personnel from the Education Department went to a great length to convince me how the centre of learning English had shifted away from the good old England. With humility Pakcik listened to the mini lecture.

Here we are. Too many cooks spoil the broth.


And today we have thousands of teachers who are graduates with first and second degrees, many of which are from our own universities of taraf antarabangsa, no less. The so called English schools in the country would never dream of having such a high percentage of university graduates.

And we will be importing, by hundreds, teachers from America to teach real English at our schools. I have seen two of these English speaking teachers who spent useless couple of years trying to get used to the local culture and feeling distressed for not being totally accepted by local teachers.


And only last week one of Pakcik’s Form 2 pupils came to relate how her teacher marked as wrong a sentence she wrote – ‘ My home address is in Batu Rakit.’ Apparently the sentence was wrong. It should just read ‘ My home address in Batu Rakit’, the verb ‘is’ should be deleted because the sentence has ‘in’, making ‘is’ unnecessary! Now that is some English. The girl had a good laugh telling me that. Maybe I had taught her the wrong kind of English. The need for finite verbs etc is now obviously out of date.


Why can’t we do a simple thing like teaching English the way it used to be done? I can only draw a long sigh.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

01 August 2011

With a sigh ( Pt 7 b ) – Prebet sapu

Selamat berpuasa kepada pelawat pelawat Muslimin dan Muslimat yang kami berdua hormati


Finally Almanar has a fair share of orphans and children of poor families. Numbering about 80 and made up of pupils in Form 1, 2, 3 and 4, they belong to the first intakes into the new home, Darul Akhyar (of my earlier post),

In order to assess the level of their knowledge, particularly in English and Mathematics, I have taken it upon myself to conduct all classes and necessitates opening of evening classes for the first time. On me it has been particularly taxing on two counts. Until now I had never considered sacrificing my evening hours, and that I now have. Secondly, as Darul Akhyar would not have its promised transport facility until next week I volunteered to help out, anxious to get on with the classes as early possible.

Watch the picture of that beautiful white multi-purpose vehicle in the picture below. We acquired that last year. Among its many uses we thought of the great opportunity to load the vehicle with fruit when we go to Makcik’s kampong during the next durian season. I could imagine having a stall in front of Almanar selling durians! That is what a fruitful imagination is all about – making money.

----------- Prebet sapu

We never bargained for the vehicle to run as a ‘prebet sapu’ (illegal taxi). But that was exactly what happened for about one month. Do not laugh when I relate a typical day in July.

The last happened for days ago. A group of 27 pupils had to attend class at Almanar at 3.30 that afternoon. In the absence of any help Pakcik did a wonderful job fetching them from Darul Akhyar, a mere one kilometer distance from Almanar. Instead of loading that vehicle with durians I managed to cram into it 9 children of assorted sizes, finely separated between sexes, to travel the short distance from Darul Akhyar to Almanay. In 15 minutes flat I made three trips to transport all the 27 kids. Two hours later I repeated the acts to send the children back.

Then came the evening class. At eight I was at the wheel again also making three trips, this time to shuttle 28 kids of Form 1, one more; that meant ten passengers on one of three trips. Of course at the end of that I had to send them back. How they giggled and laughed and the poor driver shouting hoarse to keep quiet!

To them it was great fun, at the end of which the boys kissing the driver’s hand and the girls thanking Pakcik voluminously – and a couple of them were heard to add, “ I like you Pakcik.”

But the strain of that one month had begun to tell on the driver of the ‘prebet sapu’. Pakcik had to stay in bed for 24 hours, canceling classes for three days! Thankfully that was the last.


-------------- Part of Form 1

The new group of Form 1 pupils from Darul Akhyar consists of 28 children, ten of whom are boys. It is so satisfying to me to realise that this group is the 16th group of Form 1 to have joined Almanar over a period of 17 years of its life. It gives me a greater satisfaction to realise that this group of 28 has fourteen orphans and the rest belong to poor families of gardeners, rubber-tappers, broken homes and so on. The same goes with the rest of the 80 kids from Darul Akhyar - orphans and children of the very poor. Helping children such as these was the very objective Almanar trust (private) was established in 1992. Alhamdulillah.

Nevertheless I cannot help drawing sighs of regret to see how poorly these children were treated academically during their six years of primary education. Let us look at the 28 pupils in Form 1. In their UPSR exam at the end of 2010 this group can only boast of 1 A and 2 B grades in English. For the five subjects examined, only one pupil scored 4 A grades, and three pupils scored 3 As each. Nine children achieved only C,D and E grades, and of course, ‘my poor little thing’ can only boast of 5 E’s.

-------- Poor little thing's smile of hope


Sintaicharles, a fairly regular visitor from Sarawak, left the following brief comment against my last posting.

“ Pakcik, I got 3Ds and 2Es in UPSR.”

It is slightly better than Pakcik’s ‘poor little thing’ but definitely worse than some of my new group described above.Yet, today, he is a damned good teacher in English, if I must say so without any reservation. And this man from Sarawak even exhibited an exemplary attitude as an educator. This is reflected in his earlier comment against Pakcik’s posting:

Nine years ago, out of pity, I taught a very naughty boy how to read and write everyday after school. However, many colleagues insinuated to me that I was an empty vessel trying berlagak pandai mendidik budak yang tiada harapan lulus SPM'.I was hurt by what they said and soon gave up tutoring that boy.
Now, come to think of it, I should have persisted in teaching that boy. I lacked the spirit of Pakcik

That is Sintaicharles’s attitude and the general attitude of his colleagues.

To this fine teacher who started from a low beginning, I would like to tell him this:

Perhaps, Sintaicharles, you have now learnt something from what you called ‘the spirit of Pakcik’, a pseudo teacher who has never been taught all about the sophisticated teaching techniques and what ‘exam formats’ are all about. You are one person of my own heart, an example of one who does not believe in the need for a good early start to succeed. It is YOUR SPIRIT, Sintaicharles, that I need to plant in those Melayu punya children. I thank you and I say forget those colleagues of yours. Sadly, after having qualified, attended courses after courses they lack the natural attitude every educator should possess in the first place.

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