Friday, December 28, 2007

Al Fatihah (a tribute to Benazir Bhutto)

too much love for the homeland
(touch down in Pakistan after 8 years in exile)

Western-educated but very much a believer (Benazir, reading the Quran)

The Audrey Hepburn in her

Gentle but firm

"If we have to die protecting our be it"

She could have been a beauty queen but chose to die a martyr.If she were caught in the games men played, was she a victim or was she just being brave? Can rule of law be applied to a country in which illiteracy still runs high? Is 'democracy' a word used to accommodate violence?And more violence?By all D.C., Rawalpindi, Karachi...

If you want to give peace to a troubled nation, give it schools and universities.Not guns and ballot boxes.

But Sister Benazir, we will remember you NOT as a courageous woman but a courageous leader who did not turn away from her people.Trying.Hoping.That humanity can be restored.

Al Fatihah.

Monday, December 24, 2007


My niece (Dr.) Ummi taking care of drinks
at her nenek's kenduri

The room at Cyberview Lodge

Fish, Nik caught without bait

Z, trying her hand at tennis

It was a long break for us.We drove back to Raub after work.Arrived at about 9 pm.The following day was Eidul Adha.Didn't feel like going out or visiting relatives so I stayed home, entertained relatives who came and waited for Angah to collect the qurban meat from his wife's kampong.We didn't even go to watch the slaughtering but I am happy to know the qurban meat was distributed to the poor.

On day 3, my mom held a huge feast.She said this Raya was going to be her last.So we played along and helped cook.Mizi and his mom prepared the Arab rice as well as korma mutton (and a traditional dish which was a delight to everyone who came).My sisters and I did the rest: salad and spicy fried chicken. Truly tiring but I think the whole thing went pretty well (some 100 people turned up and they did Raya takbir and aqiqah for Eishah's kids as well).

I rushed home the following day to unwind at Cyberview Lodge. First thing we did was get a Balinese body massage at the Sembunyi Spa...then sauna, steamy room and warm jacuzzi.Nice...truly nice.

There was a garden wedding in the evening.We went to have a look and lie on a hammock by the pool, under the moonlight. Ruzy asked if this was our second honeymoon.Ha ha. I sms-ed back, "Saja nak habiskan annual leave as well as nak mengabehkan boraih."

The following day we went fishing (at a man made fishpond).It was truly frustrating.The fish ate our bait but escaped being caught.Cyberjaya fish are more intelligent than us!

But just before we left, Z caught one (but returned it back to the water).Then Nik caught another (without bait!) We thought that was really funnyyyyyyyy.....

Z wanted to play some tennis before we left for her friend's bday treat at One Utama so we did.

It's a nice place to unwind and it's so close to KL/PJ.You don't have to travel far for a holiday you so deserve. I'd rate it 5 outa 5.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Poetry workshop

I arrived late at the British Council poetry workshop (facilitated by British Poet Coach, London DJ, music producer Charlie Dark I was late cos' I had to chair a panel of 3 who spoke on World Peace: The Contributions of Islam and Hinduism. It was enlightening.Bro. Anuar (born in Tamil Nadu but now a Malaysian citizen) spoke on Hinduism as a revealed religion and pointed out how Prophet Adam landed in Ceylon when Ceylon was still part of India.There was a river which widened into a sea at the time of Noah's flood and he said in India, there are graves of Habil and Qabil (Cain and Abel) and how in one of India's old texts, there's a story about how a crow taught a man how to bury the brother he killed (the story is also in the Quran.Bro Anuar said this Indian text is older than the Quran).He pointed out that Allah sent many prophets (to every race since Adam) and that He only taught one Deen (belief) but syariats are many.The Deen is La Illahaillallah (there is only one God). He said reincarnation was never taught in the original Hinduism.No mention of it in the Vedas.That came only in the Upanishad.

Interesting.Interesting.To think that Prophet Adam could be an Indian.I have heard claims that he was African.

Then I had to rush for the poetry workshop.It was my 3rd workshop with the British Council. BC sends good ones to train us. Wave, thanks! Charlie Dark is a wonderful being but a slave driver.Wough..he made us perform twice on stage.I hated that but saw his point: if you want to be taken seriously, you have to get out of your comfort zone.You have to be brave.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Goodbye 2007

It's already December.My life is still on the fast lane (busy, no proper rest).Was at the film premier hosted by the NZ High Commissioner. Met new friends during cocktails held after the show. We planned for some 'get together' event soon. Best juga.Z came with me.Anthony Hopkins in The World's Fastest Indian gave his most excellent performance. Kita terhibur.

I hope 2007 will go gently.We are expecting another major earthquake just before Xmas.I hope there will be no more tsunami coming our way. :(

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mabuhay Manila!

The choir which sang folk songs from Asian countries

From left: Eugen (Germany), Baibonn (Philippines), me (Malaysia), Chan (Vietnam) and Harry (Australia)

I just got home from a symposium in Manila.Second visit to this land of beautiful and hospitable people (although a friend told me they were also constantly at each other's throat over petty things).I met up with some wonderful people I met 5 years ago.Krip, Jimmy, Danton and George (G and his tunang came to my hotel) And oh! Chan was there too and we met Eugen at Starbucks, Megamall.Finally! Pics as above.

I got lucky with Dr Mariam's choice (Baibonn took me around.What a nice, crazy woman she is! We shed tears together at Hossein's as we ate our lamb bryani.She told me about her mother, butchered mercilessly in the 1970s and how she escaped marriage at 9 or 10) She showed me how Manila had progressed.I love their malls which are shopper-friendly (Trinoma has beautiful, spacious gardens.Baibonn says there are more but we don't have time to visit them all.Prices are cheaper in Manila than in KL, folks).

The symposium itself was nicely organised.I also found out who my real friends were and what made genuine scholars genuine. If they are reading this, wave!

Monday, November 12, 2007


Banyak yang berlaku selepas Deepavali (open house Datuk FOMCA kat Maharaj Restaurant bagusssssssss...I know nama kuih2 Deepavali which I ate when young during Deepavalis: kalu rendek, niyi rendek and paito rendek.Syok sangat makan sampai tak sempat ambik gambar from Penthouse Restaurant tu). Sebelum tu hadir GHEF 2007 at Nikko.I malas balik, I took a room (Man bagi discount).Best juga bertekak pasal Higher Education worldwide.Sekarang semua negara maju nak mai Asia sebab kita pasaran besar untuk education industry ni (untungnya billions beb!) Europe nak buat block dia gayanya...Amerika dah mula kontrol Gulf countries (kata Aslam, sapa2 nak buat MoU dgn unis mereka kena ada accreditation dari this American body.Binggung betul! Lebih percaya org asing dari sedara seIslam)

Yang I benggang semua nak berlagak mcm good samaritans bila bercakap pasal giving access and equity tapi masih selective (mesti beri pada yang berduit, ber-internet, ber-electricity) Someone asked hok kat war zones tu sapa bagi access to higher education? Palestine? Iraq? Afghanistan (kebetulan I spoke at AIKOL to an NGO from Kabul yang kata 70% of their population tak pergi sekolah sebab sekolah takda). I rasa tak salah kalau kata terang2 we are in this biz cos' it's the best money making industry.Tak payah la nak bermuka2 kata we are helping the marginalised by having Open Unis or e-universiti (kalau baik sangat bagi la free education!). People of the old school would be concerned with quality and academic excellence.Yang hamprak sibuk dgn market forces. I came out from the session on Access and Equity truly disillusioned. Nasib one VC from South Africa (dia orang Muslim tapi hebat!) bentang paper which gave me hope.

Yang nyata orang2 negara maju sukakan competition.Orang Asia disuruh go for collaboration oleh VC USM (who spoke very well tapi ada juga suggestion dia yang merbahaya like open the door to minimum requirement.Wei...kalau areas yang menyabitkan nyawa, how? Like Medicine or Engineering? La ni byk komplen engineering students tak leh baca manual books in English..bila buat jambatan, jambatan runtuh, etc.Apatah lagi those yang buat Medic).

News hebat is the successful gathering by BERSIH on Saturday.I was at Nik's friend's Open House (so sure gathering tu tak jadi cos' the rakyat were intimidated by Msian fear culture).I sat next to this guy yang dapat reports/pics of the gathering (so I helped text the world about dev in the city.Dah lama nak jadi pemberita!). I could not believe they got the Agong.Pandai elak polis! But how do you control a population whose IQs are higher than their leaders'?

As long as they are peaceful marches, why fear? Buat tak tau je.Besoknya semua balik makan nasi 4 pinggan balik.

Mat rempit pi mana on Saturday? Depa pun pakai baju kuning kot? :))

Gambar-gambar di sini:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More reviews, more sales

I had fun at PENA House on Saturday (malamnya I was in Raub celebrating my school's 60th year anniversary.Can you imagine it's older than Malaysia?). Seronok jumpa kawan-kawan sealiran. Kausalya and I took to the stage again. Nostalgic.We were always performing.Kami lah Lantai.At Pena function, some funny characters I have not met, I met (Tan Sri Adam is a good example). Dato Baha and Dato Othman Kelantan and Dato Ahmad Sebi were there as well.Yang best dengar Dato Dr. Hassan Ahmad Affandi bercakap.It was a pleasure listening to him. :)

I was in a panel session with Prof Irwan and Dr Chong on nasib sastera 50 tahun akan datang.Managed to sell some books. Ha ha..this would be the best part, I guess.Then bumped into a review on one of the Art of Naming poems which is also published in Voices of Resistance (Ca, USA). The review came out in Postcolonial Text, Vol 3, No. 2 (2007) and I quote Masood Raja of Kent State University:

Part Four, Re-Claiming our bodies/Re-claiming our sexualities, deals with, as is obvious, women's bodies and sexuality, most sensitive subjects in Muslim societies. The challenge to a stereotypical view of the Muslim womanhood becomes obvious in a few lines of Nor Faridah Abdul Manaf's poem "The Veil, My Body":

It's just a piece of cloth
But after Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Maluku, Kosovo
This is all I have. (246)

The Muslim female identity is constructed within the larger imperatives of native patriarchy and the international power politics, and in such a complex scenario any reading of the female Muslim subject will have to be much more nuanced and complex. Voices of Resistance brilliantly places itself in between the two extremes of politics of representation --West and the Islamic East -- and lets the female Muslim subject speak for herself.The collection, besides being interesting for non-academic reader, will be a useful text in fields as diverse as literature, politics, cultural studies, women studies and studies of gender.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Spore trip

An early start but berbaloi! I think our team of 12 had done a good job today.

We went to NUS (met Dr. Talib briefly but we learned much from him too. John and Shirley were hospitable) and visited an NGO in Geyland (phuiyooo...even Prince Andrew visited them!) A lot to learn from this group.As always, Dr H and I are thinking big (for our own NGO helping the needy)

Hoping to dine with Ai Girl tonite.Besok NTU pulak.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Malek: My ISA Detention Horror (article by Li Tsin)

Malek: My ISA detention horror
Soon Li Tsin
Oct 20, 07 1:47pm

People often forget incidents of the past but for former ISA detainee Abdul Malek Hussin, one horror event will forever by inscribed in his mind - his living hell in detention.

Abdul Malek Hussin, 51, was recently awarded RM2.5 million in damages against the government over his arrest and torture in 1998. This was the outcome after he filed a civil suit in March 1999, naming special branch officer Borhan Daud, the then Inspector General of Police Abdul Rahim Noor and the government as respondents.

It has been nine years since the chairperson of polls watchdog Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) was detained under the draconian Internal Security Act and he recollects every moment of it in an interview with Malaysiakini.

Here are some excerpts:

It has been nine years, Malek. Can you relate to us what happened then, what did they do to you and how you felt?

When (former deputy PM Anwar Ibrahim) was expelled by the government on allegations of immoral activities, there was widespread dissent among the people against the injustice of (Anwar’s arrest) and as a private citizen, I undertook to support the cause of justice for Anwar. I was among the many who were unhappy with how the government under Dr Mahathir used and abused powers then to expel Anwar and I decided to show my support.

I was involved with the reformasi movement from the first day on Sept 4 1998. After the arrest of Anwar Ibrahim, I took the initiative to organise another massive gathering to demand the release of Anwar and the resignation of Mahathir and Inspector-General of Police Abdul Rahim Noor then. I then led the gathering at Majid Negara on Sept 25, five days after Anwar was arrested.

I was arrested at my home. It was about 10-11pm and I was staying in Ampang then. I returned (home) in a car driven by a friend who dropped me (off) about 200 metres from my house and the police arrested me at the gate. I was handcuffed and forced to open the gate of my house by the arresting party led by ASP Borhan Daud.

First of all he forced me to open (my house door) and of course I asked him, “Why are you handcuffing me?” and he said I was being arrested under the ISA. Then I asked, “Why do you need to handcuff me?” he said “ISA” and I asked him “What's the reason for my arrest,” (and he said) “ISA” and he mentioned it like some mechanic and robotic answer that everything was (under the) ISA. He then said he wanted to conduct a search in my house and I asked him where's the warrant. In fact I asked for the warrant of arrest under the ISA. He said it was not necessary and I asked him why and he said well, ISA and he said I should know that.

He wanted to search my house and I asked him where's the warrant of search and again, he said it was not necessary and I asked him why and he said ISA. I called my kids and my family to open the door and the policemen went in with their shoes straightaway to the ground floor and the first floor of my house. Then they went to my study room and ransacked and checked all my documents. Then then entered my master bedroom where my wife and children were sleeping. My wife was shocked and asked me what was happening and I showed her the handcuffs and when she asked me why, I said, “ISA”.

Then, they confiscated some documents and they also recorded the documents. After 40 minutes in my house, they told me to leave with them. I was then asked where was my car. Borhan forced me to show him my car and I said I was driven by a friend and I was dropped about 200 metres away. I showed Borhan exactly the spot where I was dropped. My friend had just left the scene. (Borhan) became so angry and irritated by my response that he slapped me there and then - the pain I can feel until today, I tell you. There is this drizzling sound and I am still hearing it now, until today. I think I have got more than 40-50 percent hearing loss in my left ear. When this was brought up in the courts, Borhan denied it.

After that, he forced me into the car, it's not a police car, it's an unmarked car. I was told to wear a certain (pair of) spectacles with blurred vision but then I realised that the frame here (on the left) was broken and I told them that it was broken and they told me to (take off) my specs and once of the officers (took) off his black t-shirt and wrapped my whole head (inside it). You can imagine the smell from the t-shirt which he must have worn from early morning and it was then midnight. It was so smelly and they forced me down inside the car. I knelt down and told not to look anywhere because they did not want me to know where I will be taken.

Then they drove and about a few minutes later, the car stopped at a location. I didn't know where. They then carried me up a staircase of a building which later turn out to be the (Kuala Lumpur Police Contingent headquarters). They brought me to a room and I was told to sign a certain (piece of) paper which stated that I was arrested under the ISA prepared by Borhan, so Borhan was the arresting officer.

After that they told me to undress - to take off my shirt and my trousers. I thought that was okay because I knew ISA detainees will be given a special detention uniform (that is) blue in colour so I thought I would be given a new uniform. (After) I undressed myself completely, suddenly an officer handcuffed me very tightly from the back and there were about six to eight officers in front of me in a small room on the first floor. I was handcuffed and they blindfolded me with two (pieces of) black cloth and I was completely disoriented. I did not know who they were so I guess they were all the arresting officers led by Borhan.

Then Borhan just kicked me and punched me and I can hear his voice right in front of me because he arrested me and I can recognise his voice. One officer would take a hard object and hit me on the right leg, another officer would hit me on the left leg and then they started punching my face. Then I was given a flying kick, a side kick and I was just turned back and they force me to stand up.

Soon I fell unconscious for the first time and they poured water and forced me to stand up again and I fell unconscious again - all in a total of five times. And I also counted how many times I was hit by using my fingers [...] altogether it was 63 hits. After that I completely could not withstand it and I passed out. That was what I could recall consciously.

Now in one of those moments I was hit by a very powerful punch and suddenly my blindfold just dropped down and right in front of me was (Abdul) Rahim Noor who was wearing a red (boxing) glove. He was wearing an Indonesian batik (shirt) in dark trousers and brown polished shoes. I could remember and I described that in court in detail. And because the (blindfold) had fallen, I was shocked and he was also shocked because I could recognise him and he just ran away behind the door and the officers all fled the scene because they did not want to be recognised. Then they turned me to the wall and blindfolded me again and the beating went on until I passed out.

When I regained consciousness, it was still before 4am. They told me to go to another room with the air-cond in full blast. I was still stripped naked and my body was aching from the beatings. The air-cond was right in the middle of the room and for every couple of minutes they poured cold water on my head. You know you've already been tortured, you're physically severely injured and you're not in the right time of the day and they poured cold water and I was shivering. They asked me whether I was cold and I said yes and they would pour more cold water until about 4.30 am. Then they stopped, no questions asked.

During that ordeal, Borhan asked me if I was thirsty after all the beatings and I said “Of course”. Then suddenly one person would be holding me from the back and another opening my mouth wide open with his fingers. They then poured this dirty, rancid tasting liquid into my mouth. It was urine and they told me it was urine. Their urine, not mine. They just peed between them and they forced into my mouth two cans of their urine.

When they asked if I was hungry or not, I said “Of course I am hungry”. Borhan told his officers to prepare tahi anjing (dog faeces) for me. It was near to my mouth, I could smell the stench. And he threatened me that he wanted to use the syringe which contains HIV virus to be injected into my body because I told him “You better kill me. What's the point? What are you trying to prove? What are you doing here? Why are you so cruel,”I asked them. (He said) “Oh you wanna die, oh then we'll kill you slowly, we'll put the HIV virus into you”. Of course they didn't do that.

And then after about 5am, they stopped the beatings. I think they were also tired and went home.

On Sept 26 by mid-afternoon I was taken to Bukit Aman and placed in solitary confinement only to see sunshine on the 28th day of my detention. So if you ask what's my feeling about that, (it was) very cruel and inhumane. (The police) are not human. I feel even animals have compassion. Even dogs know their masters and even dogs don't bite any other people. They are wost than dogs. If people say they are anjing kerajaan (government dogs), I think at that time they are worse then dogs.

How were you treated there?

I wasn't allow to contact anybody. A couple of days later before the 28th day, they asked if I wanted to see my family. Of course before meeting the family they would arrange a special session for me not to mention anything about what happened to me, not to give any hint that I was tortured and to show to the family that everything is okay and to convince my family (not to file) a habeas corpus or else (I) will not be released. So the threat was there.

And I told my investigating officers in Bukit Aman that I was tortured in IPK and I want to make a police report against Borhan, they said, “No, you don't need to - we have already taken action against Borhan”. Which was of course not true. I was not given any opportunity to lodge any report, not given any opportunity to meet my lawyer, no access to my family and I was only given medical attention a couple of days later in Bukit Aman.

I told the doctor and he checked me and it was confirmed in the medical report about the bruises on the left leg, on the right leg, on the abdomen and the injuries. I complained to Dr Vasantha Ponniah about what happened to me and she had testified in court about my condition based on the bruises that I sustained.

(The) special branch methodology is (to) give harsh treatment on the first day as a very strong reminder to the detainees that things are going to be worse if we fail to give our cooperation. It's more psychological in nature. And of course in Bukit Aman it is already more institutionalised in terms of how they handle the detainees. I was under solitary confinement alone, there was no sunshine, I did not know whether it was in the morning, I did not know at all. On the 28th day on the family visit when I was taken to IPK from Bukit Aman that I really appreciate the sunlight, it was wow, the beauty of the sunray. I tell you it was beautiful.

What was interrogation like?

I was subjected to interrogation for 17 days on the third floor of the building. They would ask me questions from the morning, afternoon, until evening and then sometime, late in the night. Once when they were dissatisfied with what was going on outside where people were still gathering on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (and) in Kampung Baru, they were unhappy so they call me very late in the night for further interrogation until early morning.

During the course of the interrogation by Bukit Aman officers, the questions they asked day in and day out, questions about the reformasi movement, on Anwar Ibrahim, his relationship with this person and that person. Then Nurul Izzah was meeting (deposed Philippines president Joseph) Estrada in the Philippines and (former US secretary of state) Madeline Albright. I was inside and the activities were outside, and they were asking me what this Gerak and that was formed, and about political reform, on PAS, on whether ISA should be abolished or not.

I don't think you need to arrest me under ISA to ask me these questions.

They denied me of utensils if they found I was not cooperative enough. (They would) pull out the mattress or take away the pillows. After the family visited, they told me I would only be detained for a month and they would release me. (They said) if I do not get the recommendation to release me, then they would extend it until the end and it went on until the 57th day.

There were also days when they (did) nothing. They would send the food and at that time, I got food it was like packed rice and fish with maggots. That means it was done on purpose. I mean we were detainees and this food was supposed to be provided by the government of the state and this means the state had provided me with rotten food.

What happened after your release?

I was released on Nov 21 and subjected to some kind of monitoring thing appointed by the special branch to monitor my activities. I have to report to them and they even threatened me that I could even be re-arrested, I must cooperate with them and the psychology was that they have the power to re-arrest me. So there was that constant fear in me of being re-arrested. It took me quite some time to gather the strength and courage to lodge a police report and I arrived at that decision in March (1999).

What influenced me much more was when the government decided to form the Royal Commission on (Anwar’s black eye incident) when we read about the testimony of Dr Vasantha Ponniah. Then I remembered “Well, that's the lady who treated me”. I thought that was some help. I thought that with the formation of the Royal Commission there will be some space to make a complaint.

From then on, when I was cross examined in the court they asked me why I took such a long time. Well this is not a road accident. This is something you have been tortured, subjected to. You need to rebuild that courage back.

Were you scared? Did you ever feel like giving up?

I tried not to look scared although I was very scared. I feel the special branch are almost everywhere. (I felt) intimidated but to regain that, you have to meet people, and you have to talk to people. Slowly, I started to tell people what happened in detention. They were really surprised. Then friends convinced me why not I speak out and in February I spoke in an event organized by (opposition alliance Malaysian People's Movement for Justice) Gerak by (the late former Pas president) Fadzil Noor in the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in February 1999. I regain my courage and you have to make the most of the report. And you have the understanding that you be subjected to be accused of making a false report. I have to prepare a very lengthy police report and very detailed and an affidavit to file for the civil suit.

How does your family feel about all this?

They are used to what I have been doing. They are very supportive of my activities. The fact that my children and wife knew that I’ve already resolved to report activities for the rights of the people, political activities or social activism. They've been very supportive in the sense that there has been no resentment from my family.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Raya pics

The beauties: Christine, Sivanes and daughter

Deric enjoying his nasi gam.Chee Min looks on

Thian Chai who looks like Tian Chua

Siew Meng buka cerita pasal his new LRT project(architect Thian Chai terpesona)

Peter Yong,Ricky Lee and Andrew Leong, waiting for nasi bryani gam to arrive

After 26 years...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Back at work

Nothing spectacular but I'm back at work. Raya was so and so. Spent 5 days with my mom.She had too many guests....

Some raya cards from former students now holding important positions here and there.It's nice that they remember to drop me a line. At least I know where they are. Husni is now with Majlis Keselamatan Negara, JPM... (Husni, I hope you are still writing)

Ms Shaik and I may work on a new project.Too many I need to work on, actually.Nanti satu haram tak menjadi.

This Sat. we'll have a reunion meeting & lunch (Mahmudians) We gotta finalise things.We've been talking for 2 years!

Oct and Nov ni tak lekat kain.Pusing when I have to travel again.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Man in space vs urban poverty

Malaysia's first cosmonaut (or space traveller?) will begin his first journey into space today.We wish him well and may he inspire more Msians to be interested in space exploration bla bla bla.Nabi dah lama pi space.Tak kecoh pun.In fact sampai la ni ramai tak percaya he did it.Jumpa Tuhan lagi.

Back in KL, Kak Mun ajak kita pergi visit urban poor in Jelatek, Gombak and Kota Damansara.I had energy only for the first two areas.Dr H had to leave earlier but in Jelatek, we were moved, macam tak percaya urban poverty is so well-hidden in this city.We met up with some 60 single moms and handed Raya hampers, duit raya and beras.Short term assistance but Dr H and I thought we should come back and run workshops for their kids.Harap2 menjadi.We always want to do EVERYTHING but time is not always on our side.The women were so touched, some wept openly.Sedih juga.Tak pernah I lalui Ramadan macam ni.

Then we went to Kg. Kedas 2..hardcore poor.Aiyoo..where do we begin to help long term? It's like we have to re-plan everything ==> from whom you should marry to what you should do when you are constantly abused by your drug addict, good for nothing husband and where to send your 9 kids while you try to recover from a recent childbirth (at 33).

And on TV, Ministers are congratulating one another for the first space programme...

I can't go on, folks.The rich-poor divide is still a grave concern in this country, too eager to pose as a high-tech, affluent nation.

But I must admit it was an emotional launch for me as well -- seeing Soyuz carrying Malaysian hope.Takut meletup...Moga2 Sheikh selamat pergi and selamat kembali. I can imagine how his Mom felt.

Today is also Nik's b'day.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Have a blessed Eid!

Hyper sibuk this Ramadan and how constantly tested.May I deserve Eid!

We took my mom and little Nabil shopping at MJ at the Curve last weekend.Z and her granny got what they liked but I had to go to another mall the following day to get what I liked (baju raya tahun ni semua jarang2.Kalau body kurus mcm Twiggy takpa la juga...)Not much of a choice cos' it's the last week of Ramadan, I guess.So we went to another mall to finally get what I liked.Lepas tu cepat2 hantar tailor to alter the kain.Tapi elegant gitu. Ha ha.

I was at Prof Morais' inaugural lecture today at MU (on international law in crisis).I liked what I heard although it wasn't anything new.Somehow Prof Morais' analysis on international law crises was convincing and he came out as a genuine person.He's in Msia for a year.

If I don't see you again before Raya, here's wishing you a selamat hariraya, have a safe journey wherever you're travelling and catch you soon after raya.

Maaf zahir batin.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Happy fasting

How blessed to get to celebrate another Ramadan.And to be with your family during this joyous period.Allah is the Most Merciful, Most Compassionate.

Every year we pray we'd become better people.Ramadan is our training month.Abdal Hayy saw it as a rehearsal of death when he first converted to Islam: no food, no drinks, no sex (despite the 12 hours or so abstinence!)

My pledges this Ramadan:

1.I intend to give more.
2.I intend to do more, talk less.
3.I intend to sleep less to read the Quran.
4.I intend to sleep less to pray.
5.I intend to eat less, drink more.

Bukan lah susah sangat, right? :)

Have a good one, folks.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Of rajas and sufis

Wough, this week has been quite a week (apart from the fact that I have to cook and wash dishes after my domestic help of 3 years left and the new temporary helper was possibly a psycho)

After I had done my household chores (there's a lump in my throat as I type this), I sat glued to watch a prog on the National Geographic.I was waiting for the prog On Becoming a King about the present Agong, Sultan Mirzan of Tganu.I'm glad I did.He reminds me of the late Sultan Selangor (who I met and salam hormat masa b'day garden party dia kat Istana Negara when he was Agong)yang berjiwa rakyat.When Tuanku Mirzan spoke of his culture shock when he first studied abroad, I thought..geez..I could relate to him too!(that he sounded like one of us).He played football with the kampong kids,he went down to visit the tukang kayu without much protocol,etc etc.How timely that he's the Agong when we are about to celebrate our 50th year Merdeka.Daulat Tuanku!

Lepas tu last night I got to see the sufis from Konya, Turkey.They came to perform at UM City Branch (organised by the Turkish International Sch) I had missed similar performances (perhaps by a diff group) when they were at Cornell (I had to attend my Dept's would be rude to leave them for whirling dervishes and sufi musicians!)

The funny thing is I almost didn't make it this time too.Nik was away.I could not go on my own (kawasan tu gelap and bekas tempat askar Jepun bunuh orang?)When Nik came back, it took a while to persuade him.That he was tired, that he had no interest, that he'd rather watch football..haiyo...but my wifey charm got the better of him.Ha ha (the deal was I'd iron his shirt!) so off we went.It was very, very pleasant and mesmerising,tak pening pulak budak tu berpusing2 dan tak jatuh pulak topi of having yin and yan in life! Simply incredible.One of these days, I'd like to try whirling like that. :)

The music was better than the dance (the troupe just got back from Jakarta and will be flying back to Istanbul very early the following day..the dancers looked particularly tired)

I woke up energised this morning.Anything sufi would do that to me.Entah mengapa.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Of Nobel Laureate for Peace and Muslim men

If I had been quiet, it's because I had been busy.Last week was another exciting week.
First there was the 'Contemporary Muslim Women' conference at Renaissance (in which there were more men than women).I guess it's because in Islam, we don't believe in the gender divide but I have my reservations of what happened at the conference (or what DIDN'T happen).There's nothing wrong with the men flooding a women's conference but I thought just becos' it was a conference on Muslim women, there was no reason for the guys NOT to talk about men's role in assisting women achieve their fullest potential.Instead we still heard from some (I said SOME cos' there were so many supportive and nice men at the conference who bombarded other men who were of other 'odd' persuasions) men who believed women could not lead and be leaders (even some women were saying this as well.I almost fainted.Isn't this 2007?I thought the ummah had gone past this issue?)

Anyway, I loved making contacts with fellow women academics from Africa, the Gulf and Australia and Europe.That's the best of any conference.We women will get together and think of an action-oriented event soon.I hope.

But I still can't get over meeting in person 2006 Nobel Laureate for Peace, Prof Yunus of Grameen Bank fame.Oh wow..he had this very kind look and was always smiling.I shook hands with him when I got to be in the welcoming line along with the rest of the IIUM team.I felt like NOT wanting to wash my hand after that .Ha ha.

Whatever criticisms his critics have of him and the Grameen Bank, they would have done them out of jealousy cos' they could not do what he did/does.Here's a saint who could have chosen to teach in ivy league unis of the world but chooses to live among the poor to improve the conditions of his people.Not only is he kind to women, but he is also kind to the environment (using solar energy to supply electricity and recycling animal waste to produce gas for cooking) Oh wow, he should be cloned!

For so much excitement,my video cam failed on me.Satu gambar pun takda with Prof Yunus!

On dangers of globalisation:

Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairman Ole Danbolt Mjoes called microcredit “a liberating force” for women and Muslims, many of whom have traditionally shunned interest-charging institutions.

“All too often, we speak one-sidedly about how much the Muslim part of the world has to learn from the West,” said Prof. Danbolt Mjoes. “Where microcredit is concerned, the opposite is true: the West has learned from Yunus, from Bangladesh, and from the Muslim part of the world.”

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Monday, August 13, 2007

Raja Dr. Nazrin's keynote

Challenges and prospects for nation-building: A lesson for the young and bright

Keynote address by the Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Dr Nazrin Shah, at the
first annual Student Leaders Summit 2007 -- "Celebrating 50 Years of
Nationhood" -- on Aug 5, 2007, at Nikko Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

I am delighted to be here this morning to deliver the keynote address
at this Summit, dedicated as it is to Youth. All of you in this room
are the creme de la creme of the young generation -- those fortunate
enough and intelligent enough to benefit from the best education. You
are the future leaders of this nation.

This morning, I want to talk to you about the challenges and prospects
for nation-building. Nation-building refers to the structuring of a
country, with the help of state power, to ensure a strong national
identity that is viable in the long run. It is predicated on national
unity and is a topic of utmost importance to all of us, not least the
younger generation. Fifty years of the national relay race has been
run. Soon the baton will be handed to those of you who will run the
next lap. The Malaysia familiar to most, if not all, of you is the
modern prosperous nation with its increasingly urban population and
robust middle class; not the poor and predominantly agricultural
society of 50 years ago. When Malaysia gained independence, we were
on a par with countries like Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Ghana,
Morocco and Senegal in terms of per capita income. Today we have far
surpassed these countries in economic growth and human development.

However, it is important to be aware that this was a far-fetched
vision 50 years ago. The first Merdeka generation, almost overnight,
found themselves tasked with an onerous job when Malaysia gained
independence. The country was born against the backdrop of a virulent
communist insurgency. Poverty was widespread, particularly in the
rural areas. There was very little sense of unity and national
identity. The states that made up the federation were only loosely
integrated. Many people regarded themselves primarily as natives of
their state rather than as nationals of Malaya. The enlargement of
Malaya into Malaysia in 1963 was vigorously opposed by our neighbours,
leading to confrontation with Indonesia. After the traumatic events of
1969, many predicted the imminent disintegration of Malaysian society.

That we have been able to forge a successful nation without resorting
to the rule of the gun makes us something of an oddity in a region of
coups, civil strife and people power. This has been due in large part
to wise leadership, the innate good sense of the Malaysian people --
and a bit of luck. Today, the nine Sultanates, two Straits Settlements
and the two states in Borneo have united in a tangible way despite
historical separation and physical distance. Development policies and
communication channels have managed to fuse together the myriad
religions and ethnic groups and forged a sense of belonging and shared

Malaysia is one of the very few countries with a diverse mix of race
and religion that have been able to do this. Our peace momentum is
also demonstrated on the international arena. Malaysia played a
seminal role in the creation Asean and its enlargement from six
members to 10, then Asean plus 3. It still has a lead role in the
first moves towards a regional architecture, particularly the East
Asian Summit

Our group culture is very distinct from the individualism of the west.
We participate actively in one another's cultural and lifestyle
choices. We celebrate festivities together, we learn and speak one
another's languages, we wear each other's traditional costumes, we
appreciate different arts and types of music. A chat over teh tarik is
an example of a typically Malaysian pastime that all races and ages
take delight in.

However, every coin has two sides. Let us not be naive in thinking it
is all a rosy picture. There is still much room for improvement.
Interaction between the ethnic groups, to the extent that it exists,
remains more of an urban phenomenon. In recent years, ethnic identities
appear to have become more explicit. In some instances, what divides
us has become more emphasised than what unites us.

When the New Economic Policy (NEP) was established, it was to address
the problem of economic function being identified along the lines of
ethnicity, and the problem of widespread poverty. All quarters of
society came to an agreement that in order for nation-building to
proceed, certain sacrifices had to be made to help the underperforming
groups. But it was not a case where one party was to benefit at
another's expense. Distribution was to take place within the context
of a growing economy. It was meant to be a situation of give-and-take
that would result in economic growth shared by all segments of society.

Today, the give-and-take attitude seems to have dissipated. Malaysians
are exhibiting signs of polarisation along ethnic and religious lines.
Some groups bear grudges against what is perceived as preferential
treatment. Others regard preferential treatment as an indisputable

Moreover, the impasse at the global level between Islam and non-Islam
affects even a moderate country like Malaysia. Matters of faith are
topics of immense controversy. They provoke overzealousness and
coercive action, and drive Malaysians further and further away from
each other. Our diversity was meant to be our unique asset. The
Federal Constitution and the Rukun Negara institutionalised living
together in peaceful, harmonious co-existence. Yet years after
Merdeka, we are still grappling with concerns about unity.

So what are the challenges to nation-building that we need to face
head on? To me, the challenges are many, but the one that stands out
is the need to balance change with continuity. The current phase of
nation-building should be in tune with the temper of the times to
reflect the new realities of the modern world. We are facing a
globalised environment where excellence and meritocracy are the rule
of the game.

Opportunities in the global world reward those with ability,
regardless of colour or creed. A multi-ethnic country like ours has to
be especially watchful. In the absence of a strong national identity,
we are prone to polarisation and competition along ethno-religious
lines. Therefore, a most expert balancing act is required to maintain
socio-political stability while not losing out on global competitiveness.

As I have said elsewhere, to ensure sustained success at
nation-building, Malaysians of all races, religions, and geographic
locations need to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have a
place under the Malaysian sun. Only when each citizen believes that he
or she has a common home, is presented common opportunities, given due
recognition and is working towards a common destiny, will he or she
make the sacrifices needed for the long haul.

Managing change is not easy and nation-building does not occur
naturally in any society, let alone a pluralistic one. Allow me to
suggest three essentials for effective and sustained nation-building.

The first is the Rule of Law and the inviolability of the constitution.
The constitution is the supreme law of the country which guarantees
fundamental liberties to every citizen. A cleverly crafted document,
it clearly provides for adequate checks and balances against excesses
through the separation of powers between the executive, legislative
and judicial branches -- with each protected from encroachment by
the other.

It has often been said that many a misunderstanding may be avoided
if the principles embodied in the constitution are adhered to
strictly.Upholding the Rule of Law is paramount. In this connection,
I can do no better than to quote the words of Baroness Helena Kennedy QC,
a leading jurist, when she delivered the Sultan Azlan Shah Law Lecture
in Kuala Lumpur last month:

"Law is the bedrock of a nation; it tells us who we are, what we
value. It regulates our human relationships one to the other and
our relationships as citizens with the state. Law is cultural. It
comes out of the deep wellsprings of history and experience within
a country...

"The rule of law is one of the tools we use in our stumbling progress
towards civilising the human condition: a structure of law, with
proper methods and independent judges, before whom even a government
must be answerable. It is the only restraint upon the tendency of
power to debase its holders. As we know, power is delighful and
absolute power is absolutely delighfful.

"We must be the protectors of those who are vulnerable to abuse. We
have to stand up and be counted. We have to protect the things that
make our nations great..."

The second element necessary in nation-building is economic and social
justice for all. All groups in society, regardless of ethnic group,
religion or gender, must participate in making decisions that affect
their lives and livelihood. They must have a voice and a place in all
sectors. They must carry equal responsibilities in making society
work. The people we work and play with, the friendships we make, must
never be constrained by ethnicity. Preconceptions, parochialism and
chauvinism can be eradicated if we interact actively with others of a
different ethnic group or religion -- even if it is just one teacher,
one man or one schoolmate. In many areas, this is absent and it must

The third requisite to nation-building is good governance and a
thriving civil society. Institutions of governance must demonstrate
and generate norms and behaviour that are fundamentally efficient,
productive and just. Only those who are capable, responsible and
scrupulously honest should be allowed to serve in positions of
leadership. Those who are inefficient, incompetent and, most
importantly, corrupt should be held in absolute contempt. There must
also be concrete anti-corruption measures and management practices
based on efficiency, transparency and accountability. It is also very
important that we have leaders who are earnest in maintaining unity,
never resorting to religious or ethnic posturing to further their
political careers at the expense of peace and security. Should they
fail in this respect, they must be held accountable and answerable
before the law.

What can you do to help promote national unity? I'm going to assume
you are still at an age when you are still idealistic -- that you wish
to improve the human condition. That you are patriotic. That you
believe in friendship and peace. That you would rather build than
destroy. You are in the best position to tenaciously forge this
nation. Let me suggest a few ways how you can contribute towards
Malaysia's continued success at nation-building.

First, get a copy of the Federal Constitution and familiarise
yourselves with it. The constitution is the supreme law of the land.
It guarantees the rights of every Malaysian. As such, the integrity of
that document must be protected.

Second, study the nation's history, particularly the lives and works
of past leaders who have sacrificed so much for this country. One such
leader is Tun Dr Ismail. He was an exemplary Malaysian. He envisaged a
Malaysia for all without colour lines, without ethnic borders and
without any one group feeling a sense of inferiority. He recognised
the importance of open-mindedness in addressing day-to-day issues and
problems; the importance of listening and learning from others,
particularly from those who are more advanced. He strongly believed in
the principle of life-long learning, visiting other lands and adopting
best practices without losing our core values and our identity as a
nation. He had the interest of the nation at heart and went beyond the
call of duty in the service of his nation. He put his country above
himself and served till the very last day of his life. The leadership,
sincerity, sacrifices and integrity of Tun Dr Ismail and other leaders
of his generation should serve to inspire the next generation of leaders.

Third, you must take personal ownership over the wellbeing of the
country. Do not succumb to indifference and apathy. Hold on to your
ideals. Do not give way to cynicism and opportunism. Believe that you
can make a difference. Channel your energies in a constructive manner
to bring about positive changes around you.

Fourth, participate actively in community service that is geared
towards promoting interaction between communities. Volunteer your
spare time and energy to work with Malaysians from other walks of life
and ethnic groups.

Fifth, be prepared to serve your country to the best of your ability.
All of you represent the valuable future human capital this country
needs. The outside world knows the value of our best brains, which is
why they set out to attract our people, creating a brain drain for us.
Do not exacerbate the problem of the brain drain. Also, do not be
averse to building a career in public service. I believe all of us
have some innate desire to serve. Always think nation first.

More than anything, Malaysia needs a future generation of leaders with
unquestionable integrity. In countries where specialised expertise and
technical know-how are lacking, they can be imported from elsewhere.
But integrity, by definition, is something that cannot be bought or
hired. You and the quality of leadership you provide are the key to
continued peace and harmony in Malaysia. At a time when new powers
like China and India are rising, we cannot afford to lose our harmony
dividend. It is the anchor of this nation.

The Merdeka generation after a tough climb managed to make it to base
camp. The summit lies ahead and I can guarantee you that it will be an
arduous climb. But it can also be exhilarating. It will need climbers
who are skilled, courageous, confident and above all, steadfast. To
face the challenges ahead, you need a bedrock faith in what you and
our country stand for. I wish all of you the very best in your future.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The latest

Go to this link

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Happy 50th year

It's still early to wish everyone Happy Merdeka and I am usually not patriotic in thaaaaat sense but when Dr. D sent me a very touching email about his happiness getting a Malaysian PR just a week or two ago (he's Anglo-American), I thought I'd share with you his mail (I have gotten his permission to post his mail here in my blog)

Sometimes we don't know how blessed we are as Malaysians.It will take someone who has been around telling us that our grass is greener than others.Wah, me so semangat.

Dr. D, congrats on you becoming a family member.Welcome home!

Dr. D's email:


When President Kennedy was assassinated, I was
standing in the lobby of the International Student
Center on the Stanford University campus. My legs gave
out beneath me and I fell into a nearby chair. Almost
everyone my age remembers very well that split second
when the history of my country was changed forever.

Killing had entered American life. Not the far-away
killing in Vietnam, but the very nearby killing of one
of the most beloved American presidents in modern
times. Everyone everywhere seemed to love JFK. The
Global popularity of American presidents since then
has done nothing but fall, until one of the most hated
presidents now occupies the White House.

And so has the ethical credibility of the office. The
big lies started with the assassination itself. No one
yet knows who was responsible. Then these lies
escalated with the “body-bag” counts coming in from
Vietnam as JFK’s successor tried to justify a losing
war – inflated enemy dead, much reduced American dead.

Many of my generation, sent to Vietnam or not, were
profoundly traumatized by that undeclared, therefore
illegal war. I myself made my escape to Jakarta in
1969, to seriously take up my practice of Islam. Islam
was seen to be a viable ethical and spiritual response
to unfolding events when the great Muhammad Ali
embraced the religion, and then did jail time to
escape serving in the military. The conversion of
“white America” began then. My own conversion occurred
after that “escape Ramadan” of 1969, to the home of my
future Ustaz in Indonesia.

To make a long, sad story short, I was awarded PR in
Malaysia the other day. My initial happiness was that
no one could henceforth order me to return to the USA
against my will. My aversion to any and all
government-sanctioned killing, no matter whose
government, was exonerated.

I am now a Permanent Resident in one of the few
countries in the world where the routine
extra-judicial killing of human beings is not taking
place, unlike Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines,
Myanmar, Pakistan, and many other countries, including
of course, those killings sanctioned by the USA in
Iraq, Afghanistan, and perhaps presently in Iran.

Let’s go back to 1961. The real beginning of my PR
happiness took place on a Bangkok city bus in that
year. Even before the appalling entry of assassination
into modern American political life, I was smitten
with the very natural beauty of a young Thai bus girl
as she took my fare. For the first time in my life, I
became aware that cosmetics were not necessarily the
key to feminine beauty. Here was a woman whose every
move seemed graceful and unstudied, whose face
radiated happiness and friendliness without any paint.

So my first disaffection with American life took place
when I returned from this youthful journey to Thailand
and many other countries along the “Silk Road”.
American women simply did not look very beautiful to
me any more, and the more cosmetics they used, the
less beautiful they appeared to me. Only now, looking
back from the standpoint of my new PR, can I
appreciate that my heart’s “inner dream” of living
abroad really began then.

When I awoke the first morning after having my PR “in
hand”, I felt so light. It was as if a ton of extra,
unwanted concerns had been removed from my mind. I was
a free man. No more stressful border crossings,
wondering if maybe somebody turned me in to some
immigration blacklist as had happened to other
westerners I knew. No more reminders that I was only a
guest in this or that country. No more having to
report and beg permission from various immigration

And on a more subtle level, no more
difficult-to-answer questions like, “Going back
home?”, which people always used to ask me as I rolled
my suitcase full of laundry through the streets of my
neighborhood on the way to the “dobi”. No more having
to be polite to aggressive, man-hating, painted
western women, nowadays proud, so proud, to have slept
with many men and tried many drugs. Another American
convert friend of mine married a Malay woman because,
as he put it, the only thing his recent American
girlfriends seemed to know well was the price of
street drugs and the use of various sex toys.

Have I established a precedent for younger western
converts? The late, great Syed Hussain Alatas urged me
to discover somewhere within the Malaysian
governmental system a corruption-free path to PR. He
truly wanted to see me “graduate” from “Musafir” to
“Muhajir” status. “Muhajir” as an immigration category
is not recognized by most Muslim governments, for
whatever reason. And now we have found it here in
Putrajaya. Alhamdulilah.

As the days move on, I realize this PR is a truly
priceless gift. When we western converts convert and
then often so eagerly leave our home countries, we
always simply assume there is a Madinah out there some
place, with a real Islamic Ummah that we can migrate
to. Well, there isn’t. There simply isn’t. Almost all
legal systems in use by Muslims copy or were written
by western colonial powers. We are welcome by Muslim
governments only so long as we can work forty hours
per week. If not, we are out. No residence permission,
unless we can manage to buy it (Malaysia’s Second Home
program, or else PR-by-bribe).

Did the Meccan Muhajir have to buy their status in
Madinah? How could they? How could I? They, and I,
lost everything including property and inheritances
when we became “traitors” to our ancestral families.
Can well-meaning Muslims in so-called Muslim countries
take us in and really be Ansar to us? No. They have no
legal basis for doing so, except to give us work and
residence permits as “Musafir”. Pass the age of sixty,
as I have done, and the truth becomes clear. We never
were more than “Musafir” in these countries. “Malaysia
My Second Home”? This is only a program for rich
Musafir or richer non-Muslims. Malaysia is my first
home, not my second home.

Could the Meccan Muhajir go back and forth to see
their families and bank balances in Mecca? Nor can I
go back and forth to the USA for similar purposes. For
years before they passed away, my parents forbade me
to see them unless I re-entered the church. On a
recent visit to the Masjid in my son’s town in
** beeeep, the Imam took me quietly behind closed doors
and told me that white Muslims were under surveillance
and often called for interrogation by FBI and CIA who
were chasing “money trails” in the “war on terrorism”.

Innocent or guilty, the US government can and does
cancel passports for any reason they like, trapping
people in the USA. There was a young American student
at the Islamic University here whose passport was
cancelled so that he could be brought back and jailed
by two American Federal Marshalls. The Malaysian
government said they could do nothing to stop these
Marshalls since all the student’s travel documents
were invalid.

The unspoken thoughts that I have often sensed behind
local Muslim eyes when I tell them I am virtually
penniless is something like, “How could ANYBODY be so
stupid as to come away from the great USA without
money and property? Asians all succeed over there,
what’s wrong with this guy?” After only six years from
date-of-application, Malaysian government authorities,
up to and including the Home Minister, realized that I
really did deserve recognition here as Muhajir, and
they granted me the PR. My cost? Only a few hundred
ringgit altogether.

May Professor Alatas of blessed memory be pleased from
his Afterlife, as he did not live to see the success
of his constant and unswerving dedication to the task
of establishing real “Muhajir” rights for the sake of
future Muslims who may wish to emigrate, or, as the
Malays say, “berhijrah”. As Professor once put it at
the beginning of our long association, ”There must be
some real Ansar around somewhere”.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Nuri Tragedy

I think the whole nation is touched by the recent Nuri tragedy in which all 6 crew and passengers were found dead after almost a week's search.This is the 18th crash in 39 years. I haven't jotted how many deaths which involved trained pilots and personnels.

Sikorsky is no cheap heli and Malaysia is among many affluent countries which uses the heli (safety-conscious and smart countries like Israel and Singapore are NOT among the many operators around the world which include the USA, Canada, Australia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, India, etc).US has phased out its use since last year (Jan 2006)and is now using SH-60 Sea Hawk (since the 90s actually)so Mr. DPM...what gives? Why are we still risking the lives of our young, talented people?

I am emotionally touched cos' the pilot was my neighbour and I think this is too close to home.If it happens to your own family member, then I'm sure you'd want to do/say something.How can DPM blame the weather for most of the crashes? My question is was the heli installed with weather radar or whatever you call it? (radar cuaca) that even if the vision is bad, Nuri could still be guided through its radar use?

And why now is the government considering (considering!)buying an automatic gadget which could assist the heli in times of emergency?

As a Muslim, I believe in ajal but I also believe in dying appropriately!(and how doa/usaha can change our qada and qadar).

If Nuri is so safe, we want to see more pembesar/ministers riding it during their official visits outside KL.Don't leave it to the ikan bilis to die before going to war!!!

NEWS UPDATE: The kitchen cabinet announced yesterday that the government would replace sikorsky with another heli in 2-3 years' time.This news is superb! Alhamdulillah.We're yet to know why it'd take so long to get rid of nuri helis.Why can't it happen immediately? (nuri grounded?)

Thursday, July 12, 2007


I've been home almost 3 weeks now.Not a min passed without me doing something or going somewhere.I was there for my mom's second angio.She's with me cos' she has some physio sessions for one whole month.

Chan is also here visiting from Hanoi.Last night I was at Tun Musa Hitam's talk at Sunway Resort Hotel.He gave some new perspectives on FELDA and how it slowed down rural-urban drift and helped with rural development.Issues on race and class were raised openly.KJ was there too, looking like some Bollywood movie star.He spoke very good English but nampak very young and his thinking was also very young. :))

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Goodbye Ithaca

With Assoc. Prof. Dr Andrew Willford and family. Andrew was my Cornell host.Thanks, Andrew!

This was where I spent most of my time at Cornell.Will miss walking down the corridor to Kroch lib

My Maplewood bed which was not warm enough in winter but thanks to the effective but noisy heater, I slept well

My study desk where you heard from me

my Maplewood room wardrobe

Z likes Cornell

Nik and Z on Cornell University tour

So this is it.My journey closing down...mahu tak sedih!

Andrew tukar plan dinner (which worked well cos' we didn't get back from Waterloo till late). Mula2 letak some items at Saiful's garage sale.My album free tu I dapat jual at USD2.Yang lain2 tu tak laku so I just gave them away cos' bag dah tak muat.

Lepas tu showed Cornell Uni to Nik and Z. It's bigger, more beautiful than Harvard or Columbia so Z said she would not mind studying here. :)

Lepas tu kita pi Premium Factory Outlet.I dah tak kuasa nak shop.We took the scenic way so we came so close to Cayuga Lake.Rumah2 along the lake very2 nice.The wineries and berry farms pun cantik dan hijau.Pulang agak lewat juga and luckily Saiful picked us up at the airport after we returned the car there.Rushed back to our hotel, rang Andrew cakap pukul 8.30 baru ready.Agak lewat for him but what to do.

Vasantha cooked nice meal for us (and desserts!)Lama juga kita sembang2.Balik buat last touch up on our packing.By 12 midnite tidur.Pukul 4 am dah kena siap.

When Saiful rang 4 something, kita masih tidur! Imagine sempat brushed our teeth and sembahyang Subuh je! Yuks! Tak pernah I macam ni.In Detroit..I was hoping we could check into a hotel in Detroit, mandi, tukar baju, etc.But tak sempat juga.Sigh.

This is it.This is goodbye Ithaca and goodbye USA.

Unprepared, almost unwilling.Ha ha.

How would I summarise my 4 months' stay here? Am I wiser after the Fulbright experience? Would I contribute anything when I go home? Can I change anything? Have I changed?

Eh, susah nak jawab.Like my many years abroad, alone, I hate being on my own.In terms of my academic work, I think I had done what I set out to do (alhamdulillah) although I could have done more if I were not too busy coping with winter or if I had longer time.In terms of networking, I think it had been a fabulous time out, meeting people of different walks of life, race and colour.I have many joint venture projects lined up and I hope dgn izin Allah, akan berjaya dilangsungkan.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Back in Ithaca

at Ain's apt

the path to Olin lib/Cornell bookshop

my Maplewood Apt in Spring

After days of city life in Columbus, Boston and's strange coming back to Ithaca...when I saw Lake Cayuga, green hills, creeks and 2 deers feeding in the garden of someone's home, I know I'm gonna miss Ithaca during rushed hours and traffic jams in KL.

We got Saiful to collect us at Ain's apt to rent a car cos' kita nak cari hotel for 2 nites (Ain's room tak cukup nak letak our 8 suitcases!).Her flatmate Pei Jun was so kind to ferry our luggage to our hotel at 8 pm.Lepas tu we went shopping at TJ Max.I never got this far cos' tak tau nak naik bus mana.Kesian tak? :)

I hope I have time to say goodbye to some friends at Maplewood besok.Kinda rushed cos' we leave early on Sunday (6 am)which means by 4.30 am, we must be ready to leave the hotel.

Friday, June 22, 2007

New York and New Yorkers

NYC from where we stayed

a bit blurry cos' it was taken from Lucky Star bus

Mamma Mia, a Broadway play we saw and enjoyed

we took a ride on the horse carriage at central park

Nik wanted the tall buildings in as well as him in the pic.We took many shots to arrive at this: we got all he wanted!

the family at Columbia University,NYC

harap2 nampak apa yang saya pegang tu..jangan marah tapi ia tas asli.

We can't really let go of this city, can we?

Saw Mamma Mia on Broadway semalam.Z and Nik suka.I liked the songs but ceritanya biasa2 sahaja.5 years already on Broadway.

We visited Columbia Uni, WTC site and had brunch at Riverside Park.
Met up with Susilo and had lunch with him at Haandi next to Hurry the Curry.When we sampai at Chinatown, ada polis Muslim baik tolong kita hailed a taxi (also a Muslim driver).Dia siap ajak pi ke rumah and offered nak bawak kita jalan2.Too kind. :)

The place we are staying in at Amsterdam Ave boleh tahan juga.

I notice that selain the kind Muslims I met on the street (who gave salam and offered help cos' they recognised me as a Muslim through my scarf and I met african american muslim who worked as cleaner at the subway station, Lebanese muslim taxi driver and Bangladeshi muslim policeman), others were not that hospitable (you think Muslims in London are sombong...try NYC!)

My best vote goes to Dr. Susilo.He's so kind and obliging.Semoga Allah berkati hidupnya sekeluarga. we were walking down Times Square, tiba2 ada lelaki who looked like he's French bagi salam (cos' he saw my tudung).Muka macam hero Hollywood film tapi rupa2nya he's a banker, originally from Venezuela.He speaks fluent Arabic and other languages and knows so much of world politics termasuk Malaysia's.Kami sepakat (Nik, Susilo and I) kata dia ini sepai CIA.Ha ha.

But we love NY.It doesn't sleep, like Paris.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Boston again

testing the waters, Cape Cod

with Prof Muhammad and Kak Ani at Cape Cod

at Quincy Market, Boston

We were stranded for long hours yesterday and missed a day of Boston (arrived 10 pm instead of 3 pm) cos' after boarding Delta for almost 2 hours, the pilot announced that they had to cancel the flight but reasons were not given but some of us found out it's becos' his co-pilot didn't have the required papers to fly.Oh my! So this is America!

We had to fly via DC and got in Boston at 10 pm (I have said this, huh?)Holiday Inn isn't as nice as Hilton but we were happy to have a place to sleep.It was a long day.Penat nak mampos.

On second day in Boston, we terpaksa pulun habis.Z wants to visit Harvard.Nik wants to see its Business Sch.I nak pi shopping. :)Prof M and wife will meet us in a bit.

I took them to Quincy Market pagi2 buta tu.They had nice artistic stuffs here.Kita pun borong.

We then took a Harvard (pronounced Hahvahd) tour by Harvard undergrads.It was fun and Z liked it.One of the guides said when students are tense during their exam week (esp in winter) they'd run screaming and naked in the garden with some 5,000 people watching (and videotaping!) Gila betul. :)

Prof M, Kak Ani took us to Wrentham after a trip to Cape Cod (I had swordfish for lunch after failing to get the yummy2 blue fish.Swordfish is ikan todak.Sedap juga dimasak ala Italian) Then we got home very late...had dinner at Kak Ani's (first time daging bakar and kicap bercili in months! Wough, we also had kurma daging, masak pedas salmon, etc.)

Took the train back to Andrew Station to get to our hotel just before 12 midnight.
Besoknya nak naik bas Cina ke NYC (at USD15 when others are charging at USD30)But Prof kata kekadang dia terbalik sebab laju sangat.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Second day Columbus

snake child

Looks like a cake

Museum plastik

Brunch at Deb's with Evan, Alan,Nik and Nancy

By now we'd fallen in love with the city.It's so accessible and friendly.But our stay at the Hilton spoilt it all cos' the front desk staff is so bodoh.Bagi info salah.I have zero tolerance for inefficiency (and stupidity).But we had dinner at Easton Mall (something like steamboat and yet not quite) It's Father's Day so I guess it's a Father's Day dinner with Nik.Mahal. :)

Nancy left.Kesian dia drive balik sorang-sorang.2 hours' trip for her.She took us to a book shop (Book Loft) which had 32 rooms in German Village.Pics later.

We went to the Art Festival too -- before joining Evan and Enid at their brunch for close friends and family members.Lagi jumpa orang kelakar.Deb's neighbour ada museum barang2 plastic toys.Met Daniel, a retired Prof of Maths from London.He and Evan's step dad kawan baik.I like Alan too.Dia pun kelakar.Ingat nak jumpa Evan's Dad today (semalam tak sempat berbual.He's a writer too)

Columbus is on our 'can live city' should we decide to migrate to the US later.But mengingatkan service kat Hilton ni..mungkin tak jadi.Bak kata Nancy quoting sedara Evan in Mexico who wrote to his relatives after the last election in the US: are you guys that stupid?

nb: I spoke to the GM of the hotel and she refunded our taxi fare to Easton.Oh cool.So Hilton is back in my good hotel list now.