Friday, April 27, 2007


Ijok goes to the polls tomorrow, so when my good friend Alex Thiagarasan rang me yesterday to invite me to join him on a visit to Ijok this morning, I thought it was a good opportunity not to be missed. Alex, a businessman and a Klang Town Councillor is also the head of the Klang division of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC). I thought this would give me the rare chance of observing up close and personal the well-oiled Barisan Nasional election machinery at work.

Ijok, a one horse town in Selangor was indeed gripped by the by-election fever with flags, posters and buntings everywhere. There was a carnival atmosphere but security was tight with many police road blocks. However, despite the fact that our car had a Klang Town Councillor's official crest, we were stopped at the very first road block into town, only to be told that it was all OK and to proceed.

At Coalfield, with Alex (in dark glasses) and YB Devamany

Our first stop was at the MIC Ladang Coalfield's Pusat Gerakan or operations center where we met its head Y.B. En. S.K. Devamany, who is the Barisan Nasional MP for Cameron Highlands. Having read about it in blogs, I wasn't really surprised to see the newly tarred roads leading into the estate right up to the workers' brightly painted living quarters. I did wonder whether taxpayers money was used to pave what obviously were private roads.

"Vicky" and me

On our way back, we stopped in Batang Berjuntai (!) to have a quick chicken curry lunch with Y.B. En. S. A. Vigneswaran a.k.a. "Vicky", parliamentary secretary to the Ministry of Youth and Sports who is also the national head of MIC Youth. When he was a young boy, Vicky's family and mine were neighbours staying just a couple of doors away in Jalan Seroja, Port Klang. This was in the mid 70's when I first started my career with the port.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Academics

I almost forgot. On Monday, the Institut Kelautan Malaysia or IKMAL council and I played hosts at a luncheon for a group of visiting professors from the graduate school of management, Universiti Industri Selangor or UNISEL at the Malaysian Petroleum Club. They were led by their deputy Vice Chancellor, Prof. Dr. Mohamad Ali Sekak (second from the left in above photo).

The profs were in town to seek ways of collaborating with the Institute for developing their MBA programs in shipping and logistics management and the possibility of offering other subjects in nautical and maritime studies. An MOU between both parties is in the offing.

The university has its new main campus in Batang Berjuntai, Selangor. An interesting tit-bit we noted from our guests was that it seems that HRH the Sultan isn't too happy with the name of the town and wants it changed to Bestari Jaya or BJ instead. Hmmm ... I am in full agreement with HRH.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Untaggable

I have been tagged twice for a Thinking Blogger Award by friends for which I truly apologize but will have to respectfully decline. Many thanks but I blog merely to inform, to educate and even to entertain as the case may be. It has never been my intention to force anybody to put on their thinking caps.

I am also averse to jumping on just any band wagon, pantang nenek moyang den, and take a dim view of self-grandiosment and what appears to me like the formation of another MAS ... a rather juvenile Mutual Admiration Society.

"Walk your talk" means "Go out and do something constructive in line with the principles you preach." Its not about walking and talking on your blue tooth cell phone while trying to look important or just talking or writing about issues in cyberspace while hiding behind pseudonyms. So lets cut the crap and move on.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Rocking the Boat

Some years ago during an MCKK class reunion, at a trying time when a very prominent classmate whom everyone thought was destined to become the country's numero uno was incarcerated on very dubious charges, there was mostly small talk. I was a mite distressed when an old friend told me why certain subjects were really taboo then. He explained that it was probably because of our common fear or phobia of having to “choose sides”, and many would prefer not to discuss anything controversial and risk a “falling out” that thereafter might just mar our lifelong friendships. "Its simply not worth it," he said.

I found this bloody depressing. Weren’t we all on the same side? Can’t old friends peacefully agree to disagree?

Here, Usman Awang’s poem “Melayu” comes to mind:

Watak Melayu itu menolak permusuhan
Setia dan sabar tiada sempadan
Tapi jika marah tiada nampak telinga
Musuh dicari ke lubang cacing
Tak dapat tanduk telinga dijinjing
Maruah dan agama dihina jangan
Hebat amuknya tak kenal lawan

In other words, we probably were all not sufficiently pissed off or agitated enough about the current situation then to mengamuk and to say or do something really meaningful for fear of rocking the boat. Each and everyone of us were undoubtedly snugly ensconced in our respective comfort zones.

I fear this is what is probably going to happen with the electorate in Ijok and elsewhere, but I hope I am wrong.

Me? I have been on rocking boats all my life and have been none the worse for it.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Man's Best Friend

Today's Sunday Star story about Lucky and Flo (see above photo), a couple of dogs brought into the country to help 'sniff' out pirated CDs and DVDs makes fascinating reading. Apparently the dogs have struck fear in the hearts of local movie pirates over the past month, and pirates will be further aggrieved to learn that as far as the two canine crusaders are concerned, sniffing out hidden contraband stashes of optical discs are all in a day's work. They help bust pirated goods to the tune of millions of ringgit and the desperate pirates have now placed a bounty of RM50,000 on their heads!

I have never had any experience with dogs and have never owned one, but my wife's family (her late father was a senior police officer) kept a guard dog at their Aida Street bungalow in Singapore in the mid 60's. There was once a fearsome neighbourhood mongrel called Blackie which somehow never got used to me and chased me on my bicycle almost every day when I was a schoolboy in Seremban. It became the bane of my existence. Many years later I was to find out that the little boy who owned the pesky mutt grew up to become a colleague of mine in the port and together we laughed over this for some years thereafter.

When I started greenfield port operations as general manager of the new West Port in Pulau Indah, Port Klang with a few officers and a skeleton staff in August 1994, the island was quite deserted then. The connecting bridge to the mainland had just been completed and our cars and motorbikes were the very first to be seen on the island. We had almost daily encounters with alligators, ant eaters and what looked like panther tracks outside our makeshift office cabins. Everyday at dusk on my way home during the first few days was especially a terrifying experience for me, having to walk to my car surrounded by a large howling and growling pack of wild dogs. It struck me then that the island's wild dogs' strange fascination for my old Proton Saga must surely be for the simple fact that they have never seen any cars before! True enough, they all appeared to lose interest, completely ignored me and stopped chasing my car after about a week or so.

I much prefer cats actually, and we have recently lost our beloved Koko in his sleep a few months ago which completely devastated my entire family. But thats another story ...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bloggers Spot

I went to PJ Section 14 for lunch with Mat Salo to meet fellow bloggers yesterday. The place was indeed a bloggers spot and everyone was there including Rocky, Kickdefella, Zorro-unmasked et al. The mee rebus, a treat by Tony a.k.a "alliedmartster", was delicious.

Me and 'Rocky' (Photo courtesy Mat Salo)

The camaraderie was indeed fantastic. I was feeling a bit apprehensive at first, especially being the new kid on the blog, I wasn't exactly a spring chicken like the rest. With Anu calling me "uncle" and Nuraina kissing my hand reverently didnt really help matters but I was reassured by Zorro that he was indeed my abang, being at least several years my senior.

I suppose it makes perfectly good sense for all of us to join forces, especially now that our very existence is under threat. So as I keep saying, watch this space.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Putrajaya Two Step

In the 1994 movie Clear and Present Danger, the hero Dr. Jack Ryan (played by actor Harrison Ford) was ordered by his boss, the President of the United States, to commit perjury in the interest of so called "national security". Ryan flatly refused, saying:

"The Potomac Two Step? Sorry Mr President, I don't dance!"

Of late we have local politicians doing the kuda kepang in their mindless onslaught of bloggers. Perhaps they are just testing the waters.

But we are not dancing either.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

When things dont work ...

It has been more than three days and my family and I have had to trudge up and down the stairs daily to our 5th floor unit in our 12 storey condominium block. Both the lifts or elevators have broken down after being struck by lightning during heavy rain a few days ago and I truly sympathize with those with very young children and the elderly on the upper floors. A very lethargic management doesn't seem to help much and we owners cannot yet take over building management because we have still not received our separate strata titles after almost nine years. Another victim of bureaucratic Malays ... there I have said it again. And we are supposed to be in a "fully developed" state?

Friends of Kelana Jaya Park, a NGO of which I am very much involved in are now left to our own devices and have to look for our own funds after being cut off from a very small international funding program. The reason? Well, Selangor has been declared as a "fully developed" state by the MB, so they have decided that we dont need any help.

I wonder why do we continue to elect mentally challenged kampung politicians with foot in the mouth disease.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


April Fools' Day and it is raining cats and dogs here in Kelana Jaya.

I am supposed to go and join my friend Hj. Harun man our Friends of Kelana Jaya Park exhibit stall at the week-long carnival organised by Lembaga Tabung Haji at their nearby HQ building open car park. But the way it has been pouring since early morning I doubt very much if anyone's going to turn up this very wet Sunday. Not many turned up at the official launch yesterday by a former Mentri Besar, even though it was a public holiday here in Selangor. Hj. Harun just called to say he isn't coming today either.

Hj. Harun (on the right) and Yap at our FOKJP stall yesterday.

It has been quite a hectic week, trying to help some friends and associates by opening some doors for them and culminating with an IKMAL Council meeting at the posh Malaysian Petroleum Club (MPC) premises on the 42nd floor of the KLCC skyscraper towers on Friday afternoon. Had to borrow a tie to get in ...

View from MPC