30 August 2009

Pak Cik Reminisces (Part 8) – Tanah Tumpah Darah Ku

On the page for 31st August of my 1957 diary, my entry carries the following baffling line:

“Am I happy to see Malaya’s Independence?” – yes, MALAYA it was.

That was written 13,000 km away from where possibly the greatest national event of this country was being celebrated; Pak Cik at a young age, lonely and feeling being left out.

As I read and reread that line and try to fathom the depth of my feeling 52 years ago, I am convinced of one thing. I was being possessive. I did not want to lose MALAYA, tanah tumpah darahku. It did not matter who would govern it but I wanted that country intact as I had grown to love, enhanced by the distance that separated it from me at that very instance. I did not know whether Merdeka and Malaysia would carry anything meaningful to my future.

Today, my fortnightly lunch group consists of just four regulars, two Malays, a Chinese and an Indian. Not many years ago there were four Malays, two Indians and three Chinese in that very special and closely knit group. The number has whittled away. In time, like the ‘sepuluh budak hitam, there will be none. All of us would have been Malayans as much as Malaysians today. Nothing would change, needing no spirited slogan to keep us together with love and respect, drawing our spouses along.

And Pakcik would want my Almanar pupils to learn from that, patriotism in its essence.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.

24 August 2009

A son commented – A clean bill of health - almost

The following comment from Pakcik’s son was the first received but withheld on purpose:

Babah and Mami,

Wow, look at that young couple, with all their hopes and dreams still ahead of them! I hope and am sure, looking back, many of the dreams have come true.

Happy anniversary Babah & mami. We are truly blessed that you are both still healthy. Last weekend was a little sad for my office because an ex-colleague who had just left the company passed away due to a heart attack. He was only 45. Many of us went to his house, and it was heart breaking to see his teenage children, robbed of a father whilst still so prime in their lives. Some had just met him a few days earlier, making golf plans and dinner plans etc. How something like this remind us of our mortality, and sometimes how insignificant all our planning are! I think almost everyone there (including me) vowed to go for a full medical check up soon.

Nadia hit 39.5 degrees a few hours ago. We rushed her to the doctor and after some drugs, her temperature has come down a little. We will be monitoring all night to be sure. The doctor said at ANY sign of breathing difficulty, head straight to Univ Hospital.

Please, Kak Enon and Abang Nuar, monitor the kids closely.




And here is Pakcik’s response:


You are right to say, “ – am sure, looking back, many of the dreams have come true.” That young couple have had their dreams answered. You are one them. The elderly couple can now sit back and watch how you worry and handle your problems. They have gone through it.

At about midnight of 17th July, 37 years ago that young man in the picture rushed his young lady from their Damansara Heights home to Assunta Hospital in Petaling Jaya, worried and hoping against hope that nothing untoward would happen on the way. He knew the young lady lying on the back seat could not deliver by natural birth. Adding to the desperation, Dr McCoy, the gynecologist, had to tell the couple, after exaimining her at Assunta, that he was sorry the operation could only be performed by him at Tock Seng Chinese Maternity Hospital on Jalan Pudu. Again the couple were on the nearly-deserted roads of KL, driving like mad. Adding to the agony, having located the hospital the young man took some desperate moments to find its entrance.

Then, at last, at 2.15 am you came out into this world. Now it is your turn to worry over one of your three "Charlie’s angels” hitting 39.5 degrees. The old couple share your worry no less, but in a seasoned way. They have given the three of you what they have had in their lives, and rest assured they are ready to serve in whatever way they can, as long as they are around.

From Babah and Mami - with love to all of you.

21 August 2009

A Clean Bill of Health - Almost

The two of us went over to see our regular doctor for our not-so-very-regular annual check-up. Of late a number of ex-Almanar pupils had been showing concern when, on seeing Pakcik, they asked, “Pakcik betul sihat?” So, it was not without some trepidation when the two of us sat in front of the doctor to get the verdict. For us, just about welcoming our 45th anniversary, we have little to worry, said the doctor. Alhamdulillah.

Pakcik have been avoiding telling my Almanar pupils my age. They are all a Nosey Parker when it comes to my age. I can bet my bottom ringgit they never pose the same question to their class teachers. So (watch this word ‘so’ which Dewan Bahasa will soon include in Kamus Dewan to replace ‘jadi’ and ‘oleh itu’ because everyone uses it on TV!) my answers over the years have been consistently ‘25’. But these children of Almanar will invariably respond with a chorus of laughter – without any show of respect! That is a typical example of familiarity breeds contempt. Not many teachers can claim being with any one individual pupil for three continuous years teaching him/her English, Maths and Science, breeding that kind of bond and ‘familiarity’.

Now that I am disclosing our wedding anniversary of 45 I will be able to prove my point to Pakcik’s ‘anak buah at Almanar’. This is how I will explain to them. 45 years has passed since Pakcik married Makcik. If I married Makcik at my age of 20, my true age now must simply be 45-20=25. If they still laugh at that, it would take them quite a while to figure out. After all they have never questioned my Mathematics! To those who find it hard to believe my age, they would have to take a close look at the anniversary photographs.

O, what a couple that is, never growing old – at heart if nothing else!

But don’t look now, says Daphne du Maurier (a book recommended for reading at Almanar)..

Now that 45th anniversary has come and gone what warranty period has the bill of health to offer Pakcik and Makcik?

“ …………….. and no one knows what he can expect tomorrow and no one knows where on earth he will breathe his last …………..” Luqman, 34

A sobering thought indeed that ayat gurantees us, an unquestionable certainty. For the infinite number of gifts we have been receiving and enjoying from Him over these many, many years we will carry on with Almanar all the way.

“ ……………and should you try to count God’s blessings, you could never compute them …………” Ibrahim, 34

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.


Did we celebrate the day? But of course we did. We had a romantic twosome dinner while a younger artist doing her songs softly. As if that was not enough, on the day itself we went for a lunch at a familiar restaurant. I had my choice and Makcik had her nasi berryani. Plus fresh fruit juice and all Pakcik had to fork out a whacking sum of RM11.50 (repeat, eleven ringgits and fifity cents), the tip one pays in a KL restaurant! How we laughed all the way home like a young couple. But of course we are, Pakcik being just 25! Our phones, facebook and e-mail were busy with messages from our loved ones in Kuala Lumpur.

16 August 2009

Apa Nak Jadi - further comment from Mekyam

Mekyam telah menambah ulasan tentang kedudukan masalah ketidak-seimbangan pelajar lelaki dan perempuan. Kali ini penulisannya dalam bahasa Melayu. Pakcik menyanbut baik ulasan yang boleh meluaskan pandangan tentang tajuk tajuk yang penting kepada kita. Beginilah Mekyam menambah:

"salam pakcik

amboi, komen saya yg tak seberapa telah diberikan sorotan! rasanya tak layak, tapi terima kasih banyak, pakcik. =)

tujuan saya menyampuk semata2 nak beritahu bahawa bilangan perempuan mengatasi bilangan lelaki di tahap pengajian tinggi ini bukan hanya unik kpd malaysia sahaja. tapi nampaknya ia telah menjadi trend seluruh dunia. merata2 situasi ini sedang dibincangkan.

tapi pada saya, ini hanya merupakan data umum. fakta yang boleh diterima bulat2 di sini hanyalah nisbah yg menunjukkan trend dan perbezaan dari segi bilangan sahaja. kesimpulan lain yang lebih khusus seperti adakah ia menunjukkan, misalnya, perbezaan antara keupayaan otak semula jadi antara lelaki dan perempuan, atau perbezaan sikap terhadap pelajaran antara lelaki dan perempuan, atau perubahan sikap ibu bapa terhadap menyokong pendidikan anak mereka telah bertukar menjadi lebih progresif, dsb, memerlukan banyak pembolehubah (variables) yang lain.

satu drp faktor pembolehubah yg diketengahkan sebagai harus diambil kira ialah jenis bidang dan ijazah yg diperoleh oleh pelajar lelaki dan perempuan.

setakat ini bidang sains ilmiah dan fizikal, iaitu hard sciences, masih dimajoritikan oleh pelajar lelaki. sebaliknya, bidang yg dipenuhi oleh pelajar perempuan (hingga terjejas graf lepasan pengajian tinggi lelaki/perempuan... hehehe!) adalah sains2 social yang dianggap sebagai soft sciences.

di kalangan akademia, hard sciences biasanya dianggap sebagai lebih saintifik, lebih berdisiplin, yakni lebih mementingkan ketepatan. hard sciences juga memerlukan kemahiran matematik dan ketangkasan daya analisis.

walaupun banyak bidang dalam social sciences juga tidak kurang mementingkan kerapian akal, tetapi sekarang ramai berpendapat bahawa telah terlalu banyak bercambah bidang2 di dalamnya yg dianggap tidak langsung memerlukan ketangkasan daya fikir yang lebih rapi dan tajam. [saya yg bekelulusan sains sosial ini tentu sekali menyangkal habis2an dakwaan ini! ;D]

selain itu, ada juga yg mengutarakan perbezaan yg mungkin terdapat dalam cara pendekatan terhadap pembelajaran antara lelaki dan perempuan, terutama di peringkat umur sebelum belasan tahun, sebagai satu lagi pembolehubah yang harus dikaji.

perbezaan ini mungkin dari segi cara kanak2 dibesarkan dan disosialisasikan dan tidak dari segi biologi. namun keketaraan yang ada telah menyebabkan ada golongan yang mencadangkan persekolahan kanak2 di peringkat rendah diasingkan dahulu (seperti zaman dahulu) dan pendidikan secara co-ed (lelaki-perempuan bercampur) dimulakan hanya di peringkat menengah untuk menangani fenomena baru ini.

terpulanglah kepada individu untuk membuat kesimpulan sendiri daripada perkara2 yg telah diutarakan di atas. saya sekadar menyampaikan sahaja.

salam menyambut ramadan mulia kpd pakcik dan keluarga, termasuk keluarga al-manar"

Ribuan terima-kasih, Mekyam. Selamat menyambut puasa

11 August 2009

Apa Nak Jadi – mekyam’s comment

Pakcik’s ‘apa nak jadi’ has drawn a visitor,Mekyam, to write a comment which is interesting. It is explicit and informative. I feel it more appropriate to bring it to the fore for all to share. Here is what she had to say:

salam pak cik & fellow visitors of al-manar,

this is a worldwide phenomenon. it is not only happening in the teaching profession but in education in general.

data and reports from many countries all over the world show that girls are outperforming boys all the way from primary education to university. statistics are also showing that there are more females than males doing tertiary education.

in the US, for all levels of higher education, women have earned more college degrees than men in every year since the class of 1982, and the degree gap has widened in every year since then, and is expected to widen in the future through the 2016-2017.

there have been many theories put forth to explain this new reality. here are two interesting articles discussing this issue that provide facts and figures and some possible explanations:



note: if the links don't work because the URLs are too long, please cut & paste into a new window.

wrt the situation in malaysia where men do not seem to be attracted to join the teaching profession, i think perhaps the lack of incentive is not just monetary. i think it's a question of a shift in mindset.

the profession is no longer regarded as cool enough for the male of the species. i won't be surprised if many boys today would consider the teaching field as a field of last resort. every boy wants to join technology. esp IT, the industry considered the most happening, to use a modern jargon.

unlike yesteryears where teachers are held in high esteem and many good students felt a calling to join this noble profession, today the priorities of good students, both male and female, are elsewhere. many today view the teaching field as not offering any sort of exciting upward mobility. one doesn't get to be a corporate or technology hotshot in the teaching profession, not even as a lecturer in a university.

i suppose it's the attitude of the time. very unfortunate, but the only way to counter this is to make teaching the young something noble and sought-after again.

malaysian girls, i think, still do not have this mindset. but from the way they are educating themselves to populate all kinds of fields and industries, it won't be long now.

Mekyam, I thank you.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

10 August 2009

Apa Nak Jadi?

Tan Sri SM Salim asks that. Yes, indeed, what will happen?

The front page of the New Sunday Times dated August 2nd 2009 has the following to say:

"Men in the classroom face extinction in 20 years – going the way of the dinosaur ….

…….. Despite great efforts, it is a losing battle. From a ratio of 70:30 for females to males would-be-teachers, it has dropped to 72:28."

That was what the vice-chancellor of UPSI said…..

What a bleak picture has been painted for male chauvinism! Can Pak Cik help to defend it? Well, I have some data of sort. Let us have a look at it.

For a start, being where I am now in age, I would be exceptionally lucky to see the extinction of male teachers 20 years from now unless Pak Cik can improve on that figure to make it sooner.

In the case of UPSI, comparison is made between the total of new intakes in one year with that of the following year. Pak Cik will, on the other hand, will take one group of pupils joining Almanar early in 2008 and see how this group grows smaller in size a year later, a measure of their perseverance.

Early last year 45 pupils enrolled into form 1 at Almanar. There were 15 boys among them, giving a delightful ratio of 3:1 for females to males, slightly better than 70:30 of UPSI. Today, 20 months later, the number has shrunk to just 20, leaving only 3 boys in that group. The ratio now becomes 17:3 which is approximated to 82:18. More girls outlast boys.

The reduction in number is due to a number of reasons. Some choose to leave Almanar, having found out that it is not all fun here. Some find it too taxing to meet the expectation of Almanar. There are some who are dismissed for regarding the free-of-charge Almanar class as a place for a social get together. Pak Cik have done everything humanly possible to motivate and retain boys (and girls, too, no doubt). But I cannot tolerate ‘cancerous’ cells that can damage the rest.

Hence, the male percentage of intakes at UPSI reduces from 30 to 28.

At Almanar the perseverance figure of male pupils reduces from 30 to 18.

Pak Cik am sorry to see this. But that is a reality, more girls moving ahead. To comfort myself Pakcik must ask myself the question, ‘so what is wrong having all females in education?’ After all, if females are the ones who conceive, deliver, and rock the cradles, they are ‘natural’ at educating children. QED.

During a light moment in class recently Pak Chik quipped to the boys that they had better be prepared to take up diplomas in cookery or fashion design. We have chef Wan and Choo the shoe-maker. Leave all the mind-boggling jobs to the girls. And the girls, Pak Chik assured them that their future was assured. There would be enough husbands to look after babies, do the house-chores and all! There would be ample male ‘maids’ as well, cheap and robust. My Mak Cik at home laughed when I related the scene in class. At Almanar we have a fantastic ratio of 0:100, nil female teachers! How about that for male chauvinism?

Apa nak jadi?

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.