I had lunch with my old friend Ruslan Zainal in Port Klang yesterday. We have not met for quite some time and he has recently returned home from a Haj pilgrimage to Mecca.
Ruslan is one of the colourful and interesting characters one can meet in a port. A lowly technician who can barely speak English, he was a fearless yet humble trade unionist who was for a long time the president of the port's powerful staff union and at the same time chairman of the national joint council of unions in the government statutory bodies. The funny thing about him is that he stutters or stammers badly and it is sometimes difficult to carry on a normal conversation with him, but the amazing part is that when you put him in front of a microphone before a large audience, his painful stutters will magically disappear!
As president of the port's senior officers' union, I had the good fortune of attending many international conferences, ITF congresses* etc., with Ruslan and the leaders of other unions in the local transport sector. Together we had fought the good fight to make sure our members did not lose anything during the many intense joint tripartite meetings and negotiations with the port management and the government leading to the privatization of the port in 1992.
Ruslan, well, Haji Ruslan has asked me to join him on a two-week umrah and ziarah package tour of the Holy Land with a 3-day stopover in Istanbul some time in May. I have been postponing my Haj pilgrimage for no valid reason all this while, so I may just join him this time.
* Above photo taken at the 1983 International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) Congress in Madrid, Spain. Ruslan is on my left while on my right is the late YB Dr. V. David of the Transport Workers Union (TWU).
(Ahem, nampak eden masih jambu lagi, kan kan kan ?)