30 December 2010

Pakcik Reminisces ( Pt 14 ) – With prayers in my heart

Today, Saturday 01. 01. 1011


1956 diary

Pakcik can never look back to read certain entries in my old dairies without tears in my eyes. So much water has gone under the bridge and all has been well for me. How appropriate it was that I chose Quranic Surah 95 / Ayat 4 as the opening line for that year’s diary.

Sunday 1st January1956 – fifty-five years ago today

And the first line of the new year's entry reads:

Muhammad Asad gave the following interpretation :

Verily, We create man in the best conformation. ( ie endowed with all the positive qualities, physical as well as mental, corresponding to the functions which this particular creature is meant to perform )”

Having started the new page thus, Pakcik followed it with a personal prayer, in Arabic, which roughly means :

“ O God, please bless me in the coming year and the years ahead of me.
O God, please endow me with goodness, physically and morally.
O God, please let me be one of those who worship you with their hearts, not just in words.
Indeed you have created me, and so allow me to be one with faith, devotion and success.
And grand me an end after charitable work.”

The following entry in English followed the opening prayers.

It almost makes me delirious when I think of Post School Cert Class. Late as it is for the result of the entrance exam to come, I am yet certain that it WILL come, and it will always be in my favour. It is always my feeling that the Almighty will never disappoint me, for my desire is pure..”


That was 55 years ago – I had just sat for the Cambridge School Certificate Exam ( the Form 5 exam ) followed by a much dreaded entrance examination for entry into the Higher School Certificate Class ( the Form 6 ).

How pleased I am today to be able to play back and listen to the old cries in my heart, of worry and hope. I realise today the prayers on my first day of new year 56 years ago were answered and I was able to successfully ride over my share of ups and downs in life.

And today, yet another new year, I wonder with humility why, 56 years ago, I chose to end my personal prayers, begging that HE would grant me the end of my term with servitude to humanity. It does appear what I have been doing the last 17 years is the realisation of what I prayed for 55 years ago.Praise be to HIM.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.


To ex and present Almanar pupils.

It appear strange that I usually encourage you to reassess your year's performance and start a new year with a set of resolutions. Pakcik, on the other hand, sat back woth prayers in my heart on New Year's day. Either way, resolutions or prayers must be followed with continuous efforts in earnest without which it is just an exercise in futility.


23 December 2010

Stop press – Partial PMR results

Right now I am out of town after telling pupil that Almanar would be closed for one week (Pakcik’s turn to have a break too!). All faces grinned at the announcement. And today PMR results were out. A few children have been in touch with Pakcik – naturally the ones with better results!

After enjoying that papaya, the ‘peace offering’ a few days ago, Pakcik am now riding on the cloud nine.

Results known thus far:

FIVE girls are known to have obtained 8A’s, and at least one with 7A’s. Syukur.

I have nothing more to say – not ashamed to admit that my eyes are literally brimming with tears - This is it, my share of joy, my rewards.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.


P/S Note for Almanar pupils.

Pakcik ucapkan taniah kepada semua yang meduduki PMR. Janganlah kecewa kalaupun bilangan ‘A’ tidak memuaskan. Biarlah apa yang kita dapat kali ini menjadi durongan buat lebih berusaha. Bukan ‘A’ yang menentukan rezeki dan kebahgian kita dimasa depan.

Percayalah kepada NYA dan kudrat NYA

21 December 2010

And finally - A peace offering!

After class this morning I walked to my house just across the road to find a huge papaya waiting on the front doorstep and smiling at me. It was a huge one.

As the size was rather unusual I put it on a scale and, lo and behold, it weighed all of THREE kg. That should be enough for my three meals a day for three days!

Someone knew how to cheer me up, and that I needed it. It is unlikely that any one would confess to this attempted ‘bribery’!

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

20 December 2010

They are coming back – Plus bonus

It has been raining on and on and the sea is very heavy. Some people in the state have been evacuated as flood water is beginning to rise. But this morning Pakcik had a pleasant surprise. Compared to just nine all-girls there were seventeen children in class this morning, 14 girls and 3 BOYS. Their faces lacked cheerfulness reflecting the gloomy sky outside.

And the bonus was a new boy, Armin.

Armin is very special to me, being the FIFTH in her family to attend Almanar. The first four are his elder sisters, three of which have gone for further studies. He is the only boy in his family and one with the best UPSR results – 5As. For the parents to continue the tradition of having their children attending Almanar, it shows a vote of confidence, making it a personal record for Pakcik, credited with five siblings going through this humble tuition class ; the previous record stood at four siblings.

So despite the heavy sea within sight of Almanar, it is class as usual. And Pakcik will plod on.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.

15 December 2010

With a sigh ( Pt 4 ) – Do I carry on or call it a day?

O, no, … only NINE ….?” cried my first little thought when I stepped into my class at Almanar one day last week. Rising to their feet to greet me were just nine pupils, ALL GIRLS. What has become of all the boys?

These were children of 13+ who have completed their standard 6 (UPSR) exam and are waiting to be slotted into the various prestigious secondary schools (the like of MRSM, SBP, Sekolah Integrasi, Sekolah Elit, Sekolah Kelaster, sekolah agama negeri, not to name the private ones as well) or just into the nameless and humble one close to my home.

Almost 50 of these 13+ pupils have enrolled at Almanar for an interim class which I run during this long end-of-the-year school holidays with the aim of helping them to pass their free time in something useful. Of this number there were 15 boys, a creditable percentage.

But that morning there were just 15 and without a single boy!

What has become to the children of this vicinity? This seems to be the trend within the last few years, despite the known increase in population and the visible increase in the number of schools? Are the parents not interested to see their children spend some time usefully during these long holidays? The situation was far better during my earlier years with Almanar.

I say all these WITH A SIGH.


I had to put aside my feeling of dismay. Life must go on. Among the nine children present that morning were four girls with 5As in UPSR exam. The government of this state has been very proud of the UPSR results, topping other states for several years. So that morning I had a fair share of ‘pelajar pelajar cemerlang’ (excellent pupils).

In the course of doing some simple exercises in English, I asked if anyone could tell me the meaning of the word ‘these’ in a sentence that began with ‘ These words …..’. There was dead silence. Finally, one of the girls with 5As responded by saying that ‘these’ meant ‘berikut’.

What about the meaning of ‘this’ was my next question. All seemed to know ‘ini’. I followed that with the word ‘that’ and ‘those’. That literally drew a blank. At the end a couple of them plucked up the courage to say that they thought both words ‘that’ and ‘those’ meant ‘ini’ as well.

I can quote many examples of the above nature among pupils of higher forms attending Almanar. I may put a small posting on this one day.

Indeed, some may be proud to blow the trumpet over the improved performance of our children in English.

But I can only DRAW A SIGH.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.

I may not seem to be doing justice to the children elsewhere, especially in the urban areas. But I say what I have been seeing the last sixteen years in the area where I am. The social ills among school children, mat rempit, stealing, house-breaking, drug addiction, birth outside wedlock etc keep gaining prominence, and they are very real and frightening indeed.

06 December 2010

Moment to Reflect (Pt 2) - The FOAM - Truth or Vanity

The year 1431 is coming to and end. I ought to post something appropriate for the occasion.

I have just written a philosophical aspect of my coconut watch, the ageing and dying generation and the young ones ready to take over. How about the sea, the old timeless ocean? It has a lot to offer.

Within these couple of weeks what is more prominent is the incessant sound of waves beating the shore day in and day out. This is a normal annual event and as I have already settled down here for nearly two decades, the sound from the sea no longer bothers nor disturbs me and my sleep. Instead it becomes a welcome background to this otherwise quiet environment. It is music to the ear to wake up in the middle of the night hearing the rhythmic sound and imagining the rollers rushing ashore unleashing themselves with force onto the vast expense of the sandy beach, sweeping it smooth and clean.

Accordingly, armed with my small camera I walked over to the beach at the back of my home to watch the wonderful, at times fearsome scene of the marvel of nature, the magic of His creation especially when the Monsoon wind blows hard from the vast South China Sea. I was fully aware that somewhere down town, twenty odd kilometers away, some people were absorbed and excitedly watching the glory of man-created Monsoon Cup battle now being held off the coast of the City of Warisan Persisiran Pantai.

As expected the sea was rough, not as rough as it should be when the time comes, but a far cry from one’s picture of a peaceful scene on the beach. There I stood all alone watching the ocean drama. I was not disappointed. Each time a series of waves unrolled themselves at full speed the end result was a vast sheet of white foam covering the whole stretch of the beach - yes, the FOAM. Think about it, the beautiful clean white foam, the froth, the bueh. What has Quran got to say about his?

From my copies of Quranic tafsir I picked up two, one of Pustaka Imam Asy-syafi’i’s Tafsir Ibnu Kathir, and the other of Abdallah Yousuf Ali. I had the verse I wanted written on a white and photographed it. It is part of ayat 17 from Surah 13 ( Al Ra’d )

Pustaka Imam Asy-stafi’i’s Tafsir Ibnu Kathir :

“…..Demikianlah Allah memisalkan kebenaran dan kebathilan. Dan adapun bueh itu akan hilanglah dengan sia-sia, adapun yang memberi manfa’at kedapa manusia, maka tinggallah dia di bumi. Demikianlah Allah membuat perumpamaan-perumpamaan.”

Abdallah Yousuf Ali’s :
“ ……Thus doth God (by parables) show forth Truth and Vanity. For the scum disappears like froth cast out; While that which is for the good of mankind remains on the earth. Thus doth God set firth parables.”

This is what I wish to leave to my readers to see and sleep over. Watch the beauty of Quranic parable of truth and vanity (Yousuf Ali ), kebenaran dan kebatilan (Ibnu Kathir) – the momentary beauty of fresh, white foam (froth or bueh) adorning the beach.

Happy maal Hijrah. May the New Year ,1432 be a rewarding year to my dear visitors and ex-Alamanar pupils, wherever you may be.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.

19 November 2010

Pakcik Reminisces (Part 13) - Generations

This picture was taken on the recent Hari Raya Qurban showing a grand old lady and one of her great grand children - the most senior and the youngest in my family.

She is 87 and the little girl is just two, making them 85 years apart, spanning four generations. In the Merdeka year of 1957, my mother-in-law lost her husband. She was 34 and the father-in-law I never met was 39. And since then, for 53 years, she has lived a single mother, raising her four children, and now enjoying seeing her great grandchildren howling and shrieking around. How I wish I had met the man she loves all her life, the man who left a simple book TIGA BERADIK Di-ENGLAND, publishe in 1954, recording in simple children’s language, the family’s sea voyage to England where he was among the first lecturers at the Malayan Teachers’ Training College, Kirkby.

I have gone through materials left by my father-in-law ( the person I never met) and I cannot help feeling certain that I would have loved this man as I love my own father. We have many things in common. But life is never that simple. Who are we to have all the wishes we fancy. I have often told my other half that had her father lived long enough the chances were that I would have never met her at all, and the life we cherish today would never have been there in the first place.

That is life, perfectly destined, sculptured and shaped by the Greatest Creator.

How often I look towards the sea from our bed room window, watch the old and young coconut palms and philosophise on life. The old trees are truly very old. A number have rotted away beginning from the top, first losing their leaves followed by sections of their stems blown down by the wind. And finally the bottom section would just fall to the ground. They have served mankind in so many ways.

I cannot imagine there is another plant on earth which can equal a coconut palm. Its uses and usefulness are so numerous and varied from its stem to leaves; from making a temporary bridge for crossing to brooms for sweeping the floor and ground; from preparation of foods and drinks to medicine. Indeed it is a plant created for service, for life.


Every so often I ask my pupils to watch a coconut tree and think of the answer to a simple question. How on earth so much water can rise all the way up the solid trunk to as high as 160 ft or more to fill up the nuts? An engineer would have to work out the size of a pump to send water to the top of 16 storey building and can never be sure the pump will never fail. What is the perfect mechanism we take for granted used by this palm? Look at the stems and watch how they bend in the strongest of wind - and I have never seen one break. Look at the roots and see how they grip the sandy beaches to remain anchored.

The picture above shows an old plant, without its top. Coincidentally it is about 87 years old, the age of my beloved mother-in-law. At the end of its life a years ago its height was not less than 170 ft, higher than its younger sister standing nearby.

By comparison look at the small figure of a form 5 girl standing at the base. The tree is about 17 times taller, still healthy, occasionally throwing down a nut or two.

Not far from the dead tree a section of its fallen stem lies not far from a young plant, a new generation ready to grow and take over the duty.

As Pakcik ‘struts and frets his hour upon the stage’ he looks at the coconut trees and wonder how, blown and forced to bend in all directions, they keep serving mankind ‘to the last syllable of recorded time’. Yet we despite being the best of creation ( .. ahsani taqwim... of Surah 95, ayat 5) often fail to observe and learn to be a little selfless.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

06 November 2010

Pakcik Reminisces ( Part 12 ) – Oh my God, what am I eating - Section (i)?

News from
Published: 2010/09/07


By Sharen Kaur
Jom Makan, will open its third outlet in the UK on September 27 at the Loughborough University.

The opening represents a major coup for the Malaysian restaurant brand as it will be the first full-fledged Malaysian food outlet to operate in a PRESTIGIOUS CAMPUS in the UK.

With an annual STUDENT POPULATION of 25,000, Jom Makan will introduce the Malaysian dining experience that will impact the future international working population for Malaysian cuisine.

Jom Makan serves fast, fresh Malaysian food of the traditional and hawker vendor styles with a fusion touch.

It will offer HALAL MEALS to the students, the Muslim community and general public in the Nottingham, Liecestershire and Loughborough areas.

Mohd Zuhri Abdullah, the managing director of Jom Makan in the UK, said he is proud to open a third outlet in the region and serve healthy and tasty Malaysian meals in a prestigious campus.

"(The) Loughborough University is an exciting new site for us and great news for the thousands of students who will be given the opportunity to sample real Malaysian food at a great price right on campus," Mohd Zuhri said in a statement.

"With the third outlet, we believe it will open up spin-off opportunities," he said.

Mohd Zuhri said pricing of the Malaysian dishes at the university will be more affordable than at commercial restaurants in London.

The first Jom Makan outlet opened at Pall Mall East near Trafalgar Square in June 2008, followed by the second outlet at Westfield Shopping Centre in White City in October 2009.


Business Times had the above item published but I do not read Business Times. In my part of the world if I need to read the nst daily, I would have to drive to a newsagent who only gets his supply by about 11 am – sorry, no home deliveries available! Fortunately, knowing that this news item would be of interest to me, a close friend had it e-mailed.

Having read the news I am pleased to see that Loughborough is, first of all, regarded as a perstigious campus with an annual population of 25,000. During my time it was not as populous 55 years ago. But it had the pride of having students from 52 countries in the world, for which reason the Club of International Students played a role then. I know that because I had the honour of being its Secretary for two years.

Then, secondly, Loughborough now has a Malaysian restaurant serving Halal meals.

Yes my memory flashed back 55 years, yes indeed, back to 1956/57. As I am putting this down I see in my mind’s eye the campus, the cold foundry where I was made to work in the freezing winter, the heated swimming pool where I enjoyed my swim in mid-December, the many tennis courts, the town hall, the beautiful falling leaves in the park, the early spring cherry blossoms along Forest Road, the famous bell making factory in town, the forest up the Beacon Hill where the young went loitering in summer.
And the misery of not having Malayan food.

And today, half a century later, Jom Makan is serving HALLAL Malaysian meals!

And I remmber today how I struggled to suppress my craving for what resembled Malayan. For that, every so often and all alone, I would board a bus to take me to Leicester city about 25 km away. Two shop corners away from the bus station was an Indian restaurant. Did it serve hallal food? I did not wish to know as it did not matter if what I wished to have was simply some rice and prawn curry, none of the exotic chicken and meat dishes. I wanted some real rice (not the English rice pudding) and the taste of spices. Then, half an hour later, satisfied, a lonely young man I was, walked back to the station and boarded another bus home - until the next time, I promised myself.

Then the opening of a Chinese restaurant in this very English town was news among the Hong Kong students – the first oriental restaurant, can you believe it? They all talked and were excited about it. To me it meant rice for certain. Feeling somewhat generous I pulled my friend from Nigeria aside.

“Paul, how about some fried rice for lunch?” I knew Paul Emirinini was game for anything. When he grinned, the set of white teeth would seem whiter against the shiny dark face, a charming fellow.

So it was to be simple Chinese fried rice with egg and marshroom. I was certain that, without asking too many questions, it should be ‘safe’ enough. Yes we sat down comfortably talking and enjoying the dish when among the egg pieces a few fine cubes of pale reddish substance caught my attention.“Oh my God, what am I eating?” I asked myself, yet knowing it too well even without beeing told what those fine pieces were; and without alarming my guest I stopped, calling the waiter for some desserts to follow.

No I will never ever forget that incident` half a century ago. Living in that kind of environment I learnt to rationalise in order to console myself and to survive - Prophet Muhammad asked the Arabs to travel all the way east to China to seek knowledge, and I took the opposite direction, but for the same purpose. Surely God is most forgiving.

( to be continued in part ii )

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk

02 November 2010

Awnag Goneng Kita Pulak Buat Pasa - His comment on Halloween or Monsoon?

Our celebrated modern writer on old/ancient Terengganu, Awang Goneng, himself enjoying the beautiful autumn far away from his monsoon stricken state, has chosen to send the following comment. I am sure many would want to share his genuine Terengganu-speak. This time he goes poetic, perhaps the fore-runner of his future works. It would be interesting to see our readers, the like of Ninotaziz, try translating this into English. I am sure many would like to have the following ‘translated’ into ‘bahasa baku’ in the first instance. As usual this blog encourages healthy exchange of views. I welcome volunteers.

Comment By Awang Goneng ;

Muséng jo'ong mari döh O Mèk,
bila burong ciök dök bbunyi cèk-cèk
pasir rebih ttepi pata, ömbök parök
Ikang pong takdök ssèkör d'lauk

Döh nök wak guane O wok aku sayang
Kita makang pucok je lah cicöh garang
Takdi Mök mung gi ppasör Keda Payang
Cari ikang takdök ssèkör sebutér harang

Tohok gök ubi setököl ddalang bara tu Song,
Biar garing ddalang api ceröh museng jo'ong
Kita minung kawe denge ubi cicöh gula
pah tu kita dengör bangsawang d'udara

Ggininglah bila hujang turong ssining
Habis ketör anak beranok, laki bining
Mung batok köh-köh, aku pong bereséng
Dengör sayu anjing nyallok Ppula Kambéng

Nök ccöcök ttanang pong aku dök reti
Badang letéh aku dök rök göhék tèksi
Kita gi ppanggong Sultana bila malang
Ada nasib buléh tèngök cerita hindustang

Ggitulah le ning basöh jjerok
Dok ngökkör bbawöh atap nipöh burok
Nök bèkki takdök ppitih setarang habok
Tunggulah bila ikang mari balik d'lauk
Tue Nov 02, 09:18:00 PM
Pakcik's Response

Pakcik cannot let this go without a response. I am afraid I have none of the skills to produce anything creditable, let alone in genuine Terengganu-speak.

Aku pegi Pasar Batu Nang
Nak cari ikang
Oloh Mok Mu nok tahu
Semme ikang bbau

Ikang kerapu mate merah nynyala
Penoh lalak ijaa atah ppale
Aku tanye bakpe jjadi ggitu
Die rowak molek tahang seminggu

Keda hak se lagi jjua kembong
Semme napak perok bucik kembong
Aku tanye die jawab sombong
Tu sebab panggey ikang kembong

Kalu mu nak hak molek
Ambik hak dalang kotok pelastik
Buke tudong aku nok tengok
Ikang jerok bbau macang orang berak

Aku teringak pulak Pula Kambing
Lerni ade tepak jjua ikang
Dulu dulu aku tekenang llaki ppuang
Jalang jalang maing ujang.

Orang ppuang bawak payong
Belah atah Kering kkutong
Bawah basah sampa ppunggong ttonggeng
Orang llaki ketawe pecah keng

Mu Awang Goneng dudok jauh di inglang
Mari balek Ttanjung
Lame sangak dok ngeri orang
Habih rumah ambik kerajaang

Kata orang
Ujang mah nggeri orang
Tak same nggeri tngganu
Ade Aer bah ade budu

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk memanusiaan

31 October 2010

From Teng Teng Teng to Wan Toteng - Halloween Or Monsoon ?

Yes, from Teng Teng Teng ( 10.10.10) we move to Wan Toteng (01.02.10)

Pakcik Googled to get what Halloween is. Here it goes:

Halloween (or Hallowe'en) is an annual holiday observed on October 31, primarily in Canada, Ireland, the United States and the United Kingdom. It has roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Christian holiday All Saints' Day, but is today largely a secular celebration.
The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth

I am not in the least interested in the Haloween. But during my younger days I happened to be among the community who celebrated the Halloween night., the end of summer and the beginning of winter. So in a way Halloween is not altogether something foreign to me.

Right now, however, I want to write about Monsoon, the end of a hot spell and the beginning of rainy season with wind and salty air. That is as far as the similarity goes between HaloWEEN and MonSOON – from summer into winter, from hot spell into wet season.

Just past midnight I woke up from my sleep last night hearing the sound of window panes vibrating in the wind, and the continuous droning sound of waves hitting the sand. I knew too well what that meant, the arrival of monsoon ( musim tengkojah )on the East Coast of peninsular. If tonight is the Halloween, last night seems to herald the arrival of our wet season.

True to my expectation the sun never showed its face all day today. The sky was totally covered in layers upon layers of grey clouds and the rain came down in drizzles all day long. In between the drizzled I ran out through the gate of my backyard to take some shots of the grey sea. Waves, moving with increasing speed, unrolled themselves onto the sandy beach spreading sheets of white froth far and wide. I turned to look to the tops of coconut palms lining the beach. As expected their leaves were being swept landwards in the wind which was blowing hard from the north east direction - the forerunner of the famous North East Monsoon, my winter without snow.

While I now enjoy the cool wet weather of monsoon my heart bleeds for the men whose livelihood depends on the generosity of the sea. I know for sure some of them are fathers of my pupils. It is a painful time for them. And tonight, after more than nine months of hot weather, I will not have to switch on the aircon in my bedroom to enjoy my sleep. And the ghosts of Halloween are enjoying themselves playing and singing in the rain.

Such is life.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

28 October 2010

End of the tunnel (Pt 10) - With love from Bandung - Fara

I sat wondering what subject should be chosen for my next posting when the following message appeared on the screen:

“ Salam …….
Pakcik, just dropping by to share some good news. Yesterday was the day I officially graduated with a degree, alhamdulillah, after 4 years. I’ll be heading home by December, looking forwards to meet you and makcik.
Lots of love from Bandung.”


That is from Fara Waheda who hails from the fishing community of my neighbourhood. Here is another lass I admire and am proud of. She will now return to Malaysia as a graduate in pharmacy, a pride for her family and the community as a whole.

In response to her message I have this to say to her:

Dear Fara,

Makcik and Pakcik congratulate you on your success.

It does not seem such a long time ago when you first stepped into Almanar. You were not happy with the facility at the boarding school you enrolled yourself a couple of months earlier. You had a mind of your own and decided to join a day school instead. Almanar was more than happy to accept you for extra tuition.

I do not easily forget how you strived to be among the best.

I do not forget that easily when you were faced with personal problems and accepted a shoulder to cry on.

And after all these difficult years you are leaving Bandung behind to return home qualified, hopefully ready to serve. You are an asset to your family in the first instance and to the community at large. Challenging times are ahead. Life is never that simple. Bur I know you have learnt that over the years. Perhaps one day Batu Rakit may yet see its first chemist’s, owned and managed by one belonging to its community.

We look forwards to seeing you, Fara.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan


I regret not having your photograph to accompany this entry. We will put it right when you are home later. We will record you cheerful smiling face.

20 October 2010

Teng Teng Teng – My mission accomplished

The newly wed couple - Hazrilullah and Zuriana

Hazri, the subject of my series, End Of The Tunnel (Pt 2) series, sent the following comment:

“ Pakcik,

Teng Teng Teng . At last, my mission has been accomplished.

Hazri Hazmi ”

Yes, indeed, this qualified mechanical engineer has accomplished his mission – acquiring himself not just a career but also a life partner.

Pakcik and Makcik attended their wedding reception last Saturday, Oct 16th. The whole kampong were there to celebrate the occasion. Sadly the one who most wanted to see his son end the family’s fisherman saga was not there. Ironicall, his grave lies a stone’s throw from the house. To him we offer Al-Fatihah, and to the newly married couple we wish a happy and successful married life with equally successful children to start another mission.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

10 October 2010

Teng Teng Teng - Mission accomplished

It is ten, ten, ten ( 10/10/10) with a ‘g

When the bell tolls, time is up and we have to drop our pens. We did what we could and now we wait to know what there is in store for us.


On hearing the death of her father I drove to their house barely five kilometers away to join the ‘sembahyang mayat’, the last thing I could possibly do for someone I had known for several years. His eldest child, Syuhada and a younger brother are ex-Almanar pupils.

I arrived somewhat early. As I was waiting for the rest to come I sat quietly looking at the plants in the grounds of the house. A clump of banana trees caught my sight. Some ten years earlier the man of the house gave us a young plant from that clump. I had it planted near our house and that had grown, multiplied many times over, giving us beautiful Pisang Abu, especially good for frying and making‘pengat’. I remembered admiring this clump of banana plants the first time I was in this house. Today the same spot still had banana plants. The old ones had long gone replaced by younger ones. Funny, I thought, how banana plants kept generating themselves. But the one I brought home had not produced healthy young ones like the ones I was looking at now. Perhaps the man of the house knew how to do it and I did not. But today he had gone. I wondered who would now take over to look after the many plants around the well fenced grounds of this house....

Suddenly I was awakened from my reverie. It was time to say our prayers for the deceased man of the house, the owner of those flourishing banana plants.. Yes, there he was lying motionless and all of us stood in rows to say our prayers, knowing it too well that each and everyone of us would have to go through this moment, no matter what we were, rich or poor, among the proud or trodden low, the lot of us without exception.

I will now continue to have him in my memory with Alfatihah in my heart and a lump in my throat.


Only four days earlier Syuhada dropped in at Nuri to tell Pakcik and Makcik that she had been called to report for duty on the following Monday. Din of my earlier post was to report for duty as well on the same day and at the same university hospital. Like Din, Syuhada had successfully passed the final exam at the University hospital, a coveted place to work, and she was now a qualified a nurse and din in radiography. More than three years had passed and it seemed not very long ago I sat with her, guiding her how to go about the interview, which she ultimately went through successfully.
We were happy for her and for her family that come Monday she would start working - never for a moment it ever crossed our minds that it would be a fateful Monday.

The Monday came and I told myself that it was truly a memorable day for two of ex-Almanar pupils, reporting for duty on the same day at the same place. There could not be many teachers who could boast of having two ex-pupils achieving this. And this was not all. There were two other ex-Almanar girls who reported for duty here two years ealier, making a total of four ex-Almanar pupils working here. If that is not enough, the fifth one has just been accepted to do a course there (a likely subject of my future posting.)

It was late in the evening of that Monday when I was shocked to receive a short sms from Syuhada – her father had just passed away of a heart attack. Subhanallah. How HE had planned to take away a man at the end of the very day he was happy to know for sure that his beloved daughter had safely reported for duty - satisfied his mission accomplished.

Such is life.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.

p/s: Unlike Din of my ‘End of the tunnel (pt 9)’ series, Syuhada, for reasons of her family background, does not quite qualify to appear in that series. She belongs to a home in which children have what it needs to develop themselves without handicap.

09 October 2010

From Russia With Love - Just a picture

Yes, that is the picture of Hairie, the one sitting on the left. Hasn't he the likeness of a Russian boy ?

For whatever reason I had in mind Pakcik took that picture. The other boy is Faizal about whom I intend to post something shortly. They form a good pair. And I wish them both success, and they will live up to :

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

07 October 2010

Ninotaziz’s Comment – From Russia With Love

Our visitor, Ninotaziz left a comment to which Pakcik responded. Typical of her, a talented poet, she sees ordinary words and phrases as having special messages. Following that response she left a second comment. Here it is:


“ Dear Pakcik,

I haven’t heard the phrase Jauhari mengenal manikam for a long long time … it inspired a little pantun here …

http://pantundanselkaninotaziz.com/2010/10/jauhari-mengenal-manikam.html “


With Ninotaziz’s permission, here is her short pantun in three languages:

“ Jauhari mengenal manikam

Jauhari mengenal manikam
Bersinar di atas baldu
Kaca memancar lagi manikam
Menyusuk hati palsu

Jauhari tidak tertipu

The Diamond

The diamond bedazzles
Upon dark velvet
Yet the shining crystals
Hoaxed all wallets

But not the king’s jeweler …

Le Diamant

Le diamante brille
Sur de velours sombre
Pourtant, les cristaux aussi
Berne tout le monde

Mais ce n’est pas le roi bijoutier …”


Thank you, Ninotaziz. Fifty years ago Pakcik might have tried to put that into Arabic!

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan


30 September 2010

From Russia With Love

There was a call on my h/p. I picked it up, looked sat its face, and wondered at the number, 0127966xxx1127, an unusually long one.

Before I could open my mouth the voice from the other end came through loud and clear, “Pkcik, kenal sapa ni ?”. And as I was just about to pick out his name from my memory bank the very familiar voice continued excitedly, “ Hairi ni . Dari Moscow,Russia Pakcik. Saya dah sampai …..” (“ This is Hairi from Moscow, Russia. I have just arrived ….”
Yes indeed it was a very pleasant ‘From RussiaWith Love’. It made my
day At the end of the brief conversation he promised to send an e-mail the moment he got his computer and things sorted out.

Hairi, who will feature in my ‘End of the tunnel’ series, was a star performer in last year’s SPM exam, obtaining straight 10A’s. He is today in Moscow, having lost his mother not very long ago, leaving behind a sick father who had just gone through an emergency operation of a burst appendix; and he is determined to be a doctor.

That was two days ago. When I opened my laptop this morning I noticed a short message from Hairi, just as he promised.

Salam,,,pak cik,,,
I miss u a lot,,,mak cik also,,,
How are u now???
Now,I am in Moscow, Russia,,,,studying medicine at the First Moscow State Medical University,,,
It is really cold here and I can say that I trembeled like a leaf,,,
the class will start on 15th oct,,,and now,all of us spend our time shopping and visiting somewhere,,,,
Moscow is a beautiful city i....now it is auturm season...so beautiful,,,
Hairie, Moscow..
Pakcik’s note to Hairi:

How I appreciate your communicating with me so soon.

I know, because you have told me, that in your heart you have a place for Makcik and Pakcik.

Whatever we have done for you is never as important as the value we hope you have learnt of being compassionate and caring for others. You will need this when you have a career of your own one day, insya Allah.

We will always pray for your success, Hairi.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.

28 September 2010

Hold on - Is this a hoax?

A regular visitor to this blog kindly forwarded to Pakcik from USA,certain views found in a website called ‘hoax-slayer’. In particular, the circulated message contained in Pakcik’s post under ‘Medical Advice – Pending a heart attack’ was commented upon by a couple of parties, namely the American Heart Association and the Resuscitation Council of UK.

I am duty-bound to mention, even in not so many words, the gist of what the two parties said. Firstly,reference was made to the American Heart Association that "the usefulness of 'cough CPR' is generally limited to monitored patients with a witnessed arrest in the hospital setting".

Secondly, the Resuscitation Council in UK "knows of no evidence that, even if a lone patient knew that cardiac arrest had occurred, he or she would be able to maintain sufficient circulation to allow activity, let alone driving to the hospital".

I am somewhat relieved that no party implied that the simple method prescribed was wrong or dangerous. The stress was on getting professional help. Yes indeed, we all want professional help. But do we all have access to medical help that readily as in those developed countries?

A doctor I consulted felt that one should not stop trying something after initiating 999, while being driven to hospital or while waiting for the ambulance. “What else is there to do apart from ‘mengucap’ – especially when we still a little bit more time on God’s earth?”

Hasma, a visitor to Pakcik's posting (also a doctor) stressed in her comment the importance of knowing how to dial 999 in emergency situation.

Pill Pusher ( I suspect he is in medical line as well) left the following comment at the end of Pakcik’s posting:

“jgn lupa kunyah dan telan 1 biji aspirin 300mg jugak mase tu (kalau ade kat situ)

Indeed why shouldn’t we do something recommended by certain people, something not known to be harmful, rather than ‘mengucap’? I am of this view and now I will make sure some aspirin is kept readily available at home as suggested by Pill Pusher. Then, after ‘berikhtiar’ we sit ‘mengucap dan berdoa’.( try all what we can do and rest to say our prayers.)

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

25 September 2010

MEDICAL ADVICE - Pending a heart attack

A friend sent Pakcik a circular the content of which I feel should be shared. It is a simple advice on what can be done in the event of a heart attack, something dreaded by many. It may help if one can sense its coming and is able to do something himself/herself while waiting for help to arrive. For this reason I am posting the following information.


A Valuable Piece of information

Let's say it's 6.15pm and you're going home (alone of course), after an unusually hard day on the job.

You're really tired, upset and frustrated.

Suddenly you start experiencing severe pain in your chest that starts to drag out into your arm and up into your jaw. You are only about five miles from the hospital nearest your home. Unfortunately you don't know if you'll be able to make it that far. You have been trained in CPR, but the guy that taught the course did not tell you how to perform it on yourself.


Since many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack, without help,the person whose heart is beating improperly and who begins to feel faint, has only about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness.

However, these victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly and very vigorously. A deep breath should be taken before each cough, and the cough must be deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest.

A breath and a cough must be repeated about every two seconds without let-up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally again.

Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements squeeze the heart and keep the blood circulating. The squeezing pressure on the heart also helps it regain normal rhythm. In this way, heart attack victims can get to a hospital. Tell as many
Other people as possible about this. It could save their lives!!

A cardiologist says If everyone who gets this mail sends it to 10 people, you can bet that we'll save at least one life.

Rather than sending jokes please.. Contribute by forwarding this mail which can save a person's life....If this message comes around you ......more than once.....please don't get irritated......U need to be happy that you are being reminded of how to tackle....Heart attacks....AGAIN...


Haz xxx

Needless to say one must initiate 999, not just simply depending on the above emergency attempt.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.

18 September 2010

End of the tunnel ( Pt. 9 ) – from burger stall to MRI T.0 Tesla

Din, the name I prefer to use at times, is today a young man of twenty three.

Nine years ago Din joined our tuition class at Al-Manar after getting 2A’s, 2B’s and 1C for his UPSR. That was not much of a result to boast about. Under better circumstances, if life had not been rather hard on him, I am quite certain he would have done better. His father, now in his mid fifty and like many man folks in the area, has been depending on the generosity of the rough South China Sea for livelihood. According to Din his father began his ‘apprenticeship’ at sea as young as eight. This, too, is nothing new in this part of the world. And Din’s mother helps to supplement the family’s earning, working for keropok makers and operating a burger stall in front of their house. Din himself helped out at the stall, making it hard on him to attend Al-Manar classes regularly.

So if we talk about making burgers, Din knows all the tricks.

From the UPSR results of 2A’s,2B’s and 1C, Din improved his academic performance three years later to gain 5A’s and 3B’s for his PMR. He went on to do it even better two years later to score 7A’s and 2B’s in his SPM examination. Seeing how hard he worked, not forgetting his commitment to the burger stall, Pakcik knew that I had not yet seen Din at his best.

“Pakcik apa patut saya buat? ( What should I do ?)” was his question when his SPM results were known. Now he wanted to map out his future. Whatever it might be, he wanted to start something that he could realistically expect success. He did not want any uncertainty.

We discussed at length various possible courses for someone like him who did not make all A’s at SPM. Personally he would like to see himself doing a hospital-related job. That being the case, and having excellent results particularly in science subjects and mathematics, backed by reasonably good English, he should go for a diploma in radiography. The odds would be against him to compete for a place to do medicine. For Din there was no room to gamble. Ukur baju dibadan sendiri. With a good diploma in radiography he would be able to find a job and would still have the opportunity to continue for a degree in due course.

It had already been decided between us that joining Kelas Metrikulasi should be avoided. Accordingly, Din sent his applications and a month later he received three offers one of which came from a university hospital for a diploma course in radiography. This was one which he wanted most; but he needed to get through an interview.

Din had no idea what an interview was like and how he should conduct himself. To give him all the confidence he needed Pakcik lent him a book on radiography and pointed out parts he should try to familiarise himself. A few days later we sat rehearsing mock interviews. It amazed me to see how much of the subject he had digested from the book. So, reasonably assured of himself he left for KL.

When Din returned to brief Pakcik how his interview was conducted, I was reasonably certain he would make it. I had my doubt any normal candidates could engage on a discussion on radiography as he could. Indeed, a couple of weeks later he turned up with a broad smile. He did it.


Din spent the next three years shuttling between KL and KT, never failed to brief Pakcik of his progress each time he returned home.

It was not all in vain. Din did it in style. At the end of the course he topped the group, emerging the only one in the Dean’s list. He was particularly happy realising that his brilliant achievement was his greatest reward to Pakcik. For that performance he was given a choice to start his contractual service at the university hospital or continue on a course leading to a degree in radiography. Following a brief discussion Din expressed what he personally preferred, “Pakcik, I would like to work for a couple of years to save some money. Then I will join the degree course.” I supported the idea. A couple of years’ experience would stand him in good stead to perform well for his first degree course and beyond. However, deep in my heart I knew the true reason for his preference to work first before continuing for a degree - to earn some money so that his family would see the first ringgit from him.


Early next month Din will start working at the unversity hospital, and have the satisfaction of seeing the fruit of his patience and sweat over the years.

I have a vision that Din will ultimately be at university lecturing in radiography.

I have a vision, too, that many years into the distant future, his children will sit around him listening how their father once operated a burger stall, and how their grandfather rode the rough sea, all for them to emerge from the long dark tunnel. The children will realise how far his father has travelled from frying burgers to operating a sophisticated MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) T.O Tesla machine. I wish him all the best.
Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.

09 September 2010

Pakcik reminisces ( Part 11 ) – Hari Raya


--- 54 YEARS AGO ---

Indeed I am fortunate to have kept a diary and today I look back literally with tears in my eyes. As I read the pages, my mind's eye races back in time bringing back vivid pictures of yester years.

As I look back with nostalgia and feel how pleasant things were then I cannot deny that, after certain changes, there are better things today. I take as an example the events which I had jotted down in my 1956 diary of what I had to go through on 27th and 28th January of that year.


In the morning of the 27th January, 1956, seven of us were heading for Kuala Lumpur eagerly to join HSC, the Cambridge Higher School Certificate class (STPM of today) at two old schools in KL, the Victoria and St. John's. A smaller group was heading for Anderson School in Ipoh. As the Cambridge School Certificate (SPM of today) results for 1955 were not yet known our admission into HSC was based on a special qualifying test. I firmly believed I failed miserably. I had cried and prayed hard for this. So the offer to join HSC was heaven-sent as far as I was concerned.

Accordingly, the seven musketeers, three Malays, three Indians and one Chinese, all boys except for one Indian, merrily boarded the so called 'bas express', the first stage being KT-Kemaman, then Kemaman-Kuantan and the last 'bas express' Kuantan-KL. Now allow me to pick out a few parts of what I had jotted down on the pages of that diary.


Friday 27th January(1956)
7.30 am left KT by Kemaman Express. (fare $5.30)
1.35 pm reached Kemaman 2.40 pm left Kemaman for Kuantan
4.35 pm reached Kuantan

Saturday 28th
Woke up and had bath at 4.15 am (mistaken time for 5.15!)
8.00 am left Kuantan by express bus for KL (fare $ 8.50)
11.00 am reached Temerloh 12.05 am left Temerloh after being delayed by ferry.
4.30 pm reached KL

One certainly finds it hard to believe that travel time was 9hrs 5 min on the first day and 8 hrs 30 min on the following day, making a total travelling time of 17 hrs 35 min in two days.


That was 54 (FIFTY FOUR) years ago. Pakcik must have been so excited that on the second morning, as noted in my diary, I had a bath at 4.30 am!

That was Pakcik's historical first trip to KL with six very close class-mates. Before we left KT, we went to a photo studio to take a group photo for memory. I cannot remember seeing anyone with camera those days. One would have to go to a photo studio or call the studio to send a cameraman.

Standing L to R :Ravindran (deceased) , Arifin Yasin (deceased), Prasad (deceased) and Dato’ Wan Hussein.
Sitting L to R : Yours truly, Sarada Devi (deceased) and Dato’ Dr Wee Lian Hong (deceased)

Notice the seven names above. FIVE of the musketeers are marked (deceased) leaving just two of us, Dato' Wan Hussein and Pakcik. Yes, the picture was taken perhaps to remind me today that I have a lot to thank for.

It is interesting to note here that the three Indians in our group were in fact two brothers and one sister. They were clever children of a school principal. The two younger ones were accelerated to join the eldest (the only girl in the group) and be in the same class, sitting for the Form 5 exam in the same year, 1955. That was possible during our colonial era when Malaya was just a small colony. Can we now have this in our independent Malaysia, I wonder. Have we, in this case, really changed for the better?

So all the three siblings are gone with two others in the picture, leaving that photo for me to reminisce. No, that is not quite all. One of the three, Prasad, the last to depart left me something else, something that has prompted me to retrieve my diary of 1956 and urged me to write this posting.


In 1956, Hari Raya fell on Saturday 12th May. There was no way for us to return home (balik kampong). As we see above one needed four days of traveling time to make a return trip in 1956.

Obviously it was a lonely Hari Raya for me, being away for the first time. I cannot believe that one from K Terengganu can really be lonely on a Hari Raya in KL today. We can now communicate and watch each other's face across the world. But we did not have as much as a crude telephone to hear the voice of the loved ones.

My diary tells me today how I spent my lonely Hari Raya's eve in 1956.

"At 9.05 saw Mega Mandong at Coliseum". Today it seems unbelievable. But that diary was not meant to tell a lie.

On Hari Raya day I went visiting a few houses with Malay friends. In our class we were fortunate to have Malays from around KL, one was Tan Sri Zaleha Ismail, the ex National Unity and Development Minister.


In brief that was how I spent my Hari Raya’s eve, in a cinema watching a Malay film, and the day itself visiting friends' houses.

This brings me to the present, 2010, 54 years later.

Last week I decided to send a few cards in response to those who took the trouble to send me greeting cards last year. Fortunately I had their cards safely stored away. So I retrieved them and started to I leaf through. Then among them, staring into my eyes was a card signed by MK Prasad, one member of the group of seven (in the picture on top) who made the maiden trip to KL with me in January 1956. Here is another reminder of my past. Prasad passed away last July and in his memory I wrote my posting on 19th July ‘Bila Musim Durian Tiba – berguguran

2009 Hari Raya card from Prasad

Prasad was such a jovial person, never stopped pulling our legs in his suppressed humour as we enjoyed our monthly lunches. He had the following foot-note written at the bottom of his card :

Food for thought.
They say that money does not grow on trees, but the banks have many branches !


That is Prasad's last note to me, just two months ago. He, his two siblings in the picture, and two other dear friends have left this world - leaving just two out of seven. Isn’t this a sobering thought?

It was finding that old Hari Raya card from Prasad that prompted me to say farewell to this Ramadhan and welcome the coming Hari Raya in a reflective note - as I did on welcoming this holy month. I would like to feel that Ramadhan has left a more lasting effect on us all, and the joy of Hari Raya would equally do - that there are out there people who are not as lucky as we are, and the need to forgive and forget in the spirit of Hari Raya.

I would like keep reminding myself of the stark reality of the Quranic ayat 26-27 of Surah 55 , translated by Muhammad Asad as “All that lives on earth or in the heavens is bound to pass away: but forever will abide thy Sustainer’s Self, full of majesty and glory.” - Nothing, absolutely nothing is permanent


Pakcik and Makcik wish all our visitors and ex Almanar pupils Selamat Hari Raya. Semoga masih ada lagi Ramadhan dan Hari Raya di tahun-tahun hadapan.

07 September 2010

Follow-up on Jane’s Ground Zero - Manhattan

I am pleased to post another comment to Almanar. This time it is from Mekyam.

As someone for whom this town is home and the horror that was 911 was a reality personally felt [5 days to the date, 9 years ago, on a gorgeous day not unlike the ones we're having now] and not just something read in the news…” Mekyam went on to comment.


From Mekyam:

Salam idilfitri pakcik, makcik & family, termasuk keluarga almanar and readers of this blog!

first, thank you jane and pakcik for sharing the link to that heart-warming article.

now, let me share here the writings of rabbi bruce warshal. it pretty much sums up the feelings of most nuyorkers, including our mayor, on the cordoba house/park 51 issue.


as kaykuala pointed out, the issue has been conveniently politicized by vested interests. it is actually a non-issue, not only because it is nowhere near ground zero and the existing bldg has been a muslim prayer place for years with nary a squeak from anyone, but also because the site is a privately owned property and the permit to build has already been given by the city. the concerns left is that donations for the actual bldg should not come from organizations connected to terrorists.

as someone for whom this town is home and the horror that was 911 was a reality personally felt [5 days to the date, 9 years ago, on a gorgeous day not unlike the ones we're having now] and not just something read in the news, i have to say that most of the fuss about park51 have also come from people who don't live in this town. they probably would not know Ground Zero if they fell in it, much less care what sort of establishments share its neighbourhood. truth be known, nuyorkers in general are pretty much waiting for all the fuss to die down already. there are more pressing matters to think about.

just like right after 911, when nuyorkers themselves were too busy huddling together trying to help and comfort one another in their shared shock and grief, quite oblivious of race or creed per usual, it's always those outside who don't realize how much the people of this town embrace their differences and diversity who overreacted and blew things out of proportion. those are usually people who see the world through their own prejudices and are thus easily manipulated by vested interests and manipulative media.

in fact, this excerpt from the NY Daily News of a few days ago...

BY Samuel Goldsmith
September 2nd 2010, 8:10 PM

HEADLINE: Muslim-bashing televangelist Bill Keller to bring inflammatory brand of worship to Ground Zero

A Muslim-bashing evangelical preacher is bringing his inflammatory brand of worship to Ground Zero - and even the anti-mosque crowd doesn't want him.

... shows that even nuyorkers who are against the idea of a mosque in the vicinity of GZ have no time for bigots.


Mekyam, we are privileged to get this from someone close to ZERO when most of us are on the other side of the world shouting our heads off. Thank you

As Pakcik welcomed this holy Ramadhan with a posting, Pakcik will, insya Allah, post another to say farewell and to welcome Hari Raya.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

05 September 2010

Ground Zero - Manhattan

Pakcik received the following comment from a daughter of a very dear late friend of mine. She is in the States. Let us share what she has sent. To her and family ,Pakcik and Makcik wish all the best and expect to see them in Terengganu one of these days.


Jane said...
Dear Pakcik and everyone in Al-Manar's blog community:No doubt you have heard of the great controversy happening at Ground Zero in Manhattan regarding the building of the mosque. My heart saddens. I share with you this: http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,2015518_2185139,00.htmlHow do we get the 'hand' poems out there for America to read?
Sun Sep 05, 09:38:00 PM


Thank you Jane with love from us in KT.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

29 August 2010

What’s in a name -Part 2

Concluding Part 2

The campus of the second centre of learning on my drive home, UMT (Universiti Malaysia Terengganu), approaches soon after we pass the University mosque (my Kusza mosque). UMT is across the road on the right. So if I were to salute the two universities I would have my left hand up for UniSZA and my right for UMT until I part with them both at a mini roundabout. Now let us see how this second great university developed itself since 1994.


When I began to drive along this road in 1994, UMT was then the Terengganu campus of Universiti Pertanian (UPMT). However, in 1997 the PERTANIAN matured to become Universiti Putra (still UPMT).

In 1999 UMPT took a new name, KUT (Kolej Universiti Terengganu). Then in 2001, KUT transformed itself into KUSTEM (Kolej Universiti Sains dan Teknologi). I can only presume that Terengganu would not want to be seen lacking in the in-thing, science and technology.

That was not the end of it. In 2007 KUSTEM had to undergo further development. That K for Kolej had to make way for a proper U (sudah jadi universiti lah). After all, its neighbour across the road had shed off the college image. KUSTEM now became University Malaysia Terengganu (UMT).


IPGM Kampus Dato’ Razali Ismail

Pakcik must not be seen to sideline another establishment known as Kolej Perguruan Batu Rakit, just about 3 kilometers away from my home. Because changes in a name was becoming quite common, I hardly realised that this very important centre of learning for teachers was upgraded from a college image to Institut Pendidikan Guru Malaysia (IPGM)- Batu Rakit.
Then last year this IPGM was declared assuming a new name Institut Pendidikan Guru Malaysia Kampus Dato’ Razali Ismail (IPGM Dato’ Razali Ismail).


Not Bothered To Change
Seeing what I have seen, I wonder whether I want to feel sorry for those who refuse to change with time. Since I have picked three centres of learning close to me, a matter of six kilometer radius away, let me, likewise, take three centres which are far away, three that do not seem to have advanced with time. They have been there for more than 100 years, a whole CENTURY without a change. The following centres of excellence have remained an institute, a school and a college respectively.

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
. Founded in 1861.

2. London School of Economics (LSE).
Founded in 1895

3. Imperial College London (IC London).
Founded 1907


While we continue making changes to reflect advancement and achievement, I am reminded of Ayat 26-27 of Surah 55 translated by Muhammad Asad as “ All that lives on earth or in the heavens is bound to pass away: but forever will abide thy Sustainer’s Self, full of majesty and glory.” -
Nothing, absolutely nothing is permanent


Special note for dear ex-Almanar pupils.
Do not be surprised next time you call on us you will see a more glamorous (canggeh lah) name than Nuri and Al-Manar. But I will still be Pakcik to you, and a Datuk to ten individuals who shortened it to a simple ‘Ki’ to reflect endearment and respect to a real datuk. You, too, may consider changing as you move through life, but be mindful that you and I can never dream of making anything permanent - like the above Quranic verse itself, immortal.

Berkhidmat Kerana Tuhan Untuk Kemanusiaan

28 August 2010

What’s in a name -Part 1

This is part 1 of 2

Is a name not important?
But of course it is. Take such terms as ‘orang-orang ternama’, ‘jenama’, ‘nama baik’ and so on. They all give the sense of importance, top quality and all which should be accorded admiration and respect.



To illustrate this point let us look at how two important centres of higher learning in Terengganu got their names changed since 1994, in a period of 17 years. There is nothing magical about the choice of 1994 other than that being the year I was drawn back with Makcik to Terengganu a state I had been away from for about 40 years – since before Merdeka of 1957. So in 1994 we moved into our retirement home which we had it named ‘Nuri’ giving that sense of aristocracy, especially if the owner does not belong to one.


A short digression!

Giving the house a name gave that significance, didn’t it? That return to ‘negeri tumpah darah’ (I wonder what the English translation is – ‘land where blood is shed’ sounds like a second world war story!) coincided with my plan to establish a small tuition centre. Again it was given a name, ‘Al-Manar’ – signifying something, surely.


It should be noted here that the name Terengganu is also known by its Arabic honorific Darul Iman (abode of faith). As a child in my primary school I was given to understand that the state I was born in drew its origin, rightly or wrongly, from Taring Anu (fang of something). From that it became Trengganu which subsequently progressed to acquire an E to become TErengganu.

Now I hope the readers are beginning to see the significance of a NAME.



Now we go back to those two centres of learning I was about to describe. Coincidentally they form two important landmarks for visitors who intend to drive to our home (that Nuri) from Bandaraya Kuala Terengganu (upgraded from a simple ‘Bandar Kuala Terengganu’).


Second digression!

What used to be MPKT (Majlis Perbandaran) is now MBKT (Majlis Bandaraya) – giving Pakcik and Makcik the uplifting feeling that we are now living in a city, not just a town when we first returned here in 1994. We returned to a place somewhat rural and now a city dweller – thanks to the NAME.


The first landmark, about six kilometers to our house, is a beautiful mosque which has been popularly and passionately known as Masjid Kusza. Sited close to the main road it is the prominent symbol of this old religious college known as KUSZA (Kolej Agama Sultan Zainal Abidin) which opened its door in 1983.

The college was beginning to gain prominence when in 2007 it was restructured to signify its maturity to become a university, a full blown university named University Darul Iman (UDM). Pakcik can distinctly recall the event when it was declared that this university would be modeled after the renown Cambridge University which was described as being made up of different colleges. What was rather odd to me was when the spokesman clarified that the constituent colleges of this university would be established in various towns of Terengganu. The logic seemed to suggest that if Cambridge University has colleges throughout Cambridge , this university of Darul Iman would have colleges through out Darul Iman. Professors in Cambridge cycle round from one college to another whilst those of Darul Iman being chauffer-driven from one town to another! That sounds logical enough as a model.


Third digression !

When I mentioned ‘modeled after the renown Cambridge’ I was reminded to say something. One should appreciate that Terengganu is unique in her ability to reproduce models of world famous structures such as the famous mosques of the world. World travelers can visit the beautiful miniaturised buildings all on one island.


That change from KUSZA to UDM took place just under three years ago. I was greatly puzzled a couple of months ago, when driving home from bandaraya I saw workmen busy hacking away at the UDM sign board at the main entrance of the university. But I left it at that. Surprise, surprise, a few days later the sign board read Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA). Quite used to name changes I have not bothered to enquire the reasons for the change – presumably it is stilled modeled after Cambridge.

So when I went for my tarawih at my favourite KUSZA mosque a few evenings ago I could not miss seeing the new name ‘Masjid Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin’ on the mosque. But I do not imagine that I would bother to learn to call this mosque by another name. Let me risk being branded non-progressive. I am not about to fool around with the name of one of HIS houses, as much as Masjidul Haram, Masjidul Nabawi and Masjidul Aqsa. After all, who knows it would not assume another name some time in distance future? Nothing is permanent.

Berkhidmat Kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

(To be concluded tomorrow, insya Allah)