Saturday, March 28, 2009

Seorang Pengemis dan Seorang Tua


Dalam meniti zaman seorang anak,
Bermain ulang-alik antara rumah dan surau,
Ternampak aku seorang pengemis,
Sedang berehat selepas mungkin berjalan jauh,
Terus aku dipanggilnya,
Dan diberikannya sebiji ketupat
Yang kemanisannya masih kurasai hingga sekarang.


Dalam meniti usia remaja di balik Tititwangsa ini,
Sedang aku menunggu bas di bandar gagak itu,
Di celah-celah manusia pelbagai bangsa yang begitu nafsi-nafsi,
Datang seorang tua menyapaku 'Anak nak ke mana?'
Dengan senyum aku memulakan perbualan,
Kemudian katanya lagi 'Oh, pak cik pun pernah belajar pondok di negeri timurlaut sana'.
Sebelum berlalu dia memberikanku dua ringgit dengan katanya,
'Buat beli makanan di asrama nanti.'


Seorang pengemis dan seorang tua itu,
Mungkin tiada lagi di dunia ini,
Tapi ketupat pemberiannya begitu enak rasanya
Untuk seorang anak yang hingga kini mengingatinya
Dua ringgit cuma tapi besar nilainya
Untuk seorang remaja kampong di kota Di Raja ini.

Seorang pengemis dan seorang tua
Telah mengajarku nilai satu pemberian
Seorang pengemis dan seorang tua
Juga telah mengajarku erti sebuah ihsan.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bila Amanah Diperdagangkan

Tempat : Sebuah restoran di Kuala Lumpur

Masa : Tengahari (lunch hours)

Sekumpulan lelaki sedang rancak berbual sambil menjamu selera di meja berdekatan. Tiba-tiba telefon bimbit salah seorang dari mereka berdering dan terdengarlah perbualan berikut.

'Hello, YB. Sedang makan ni'.

'Oh, saya stay di hotel *******, no bilik ****.

'Jangan risau YB, kami confirm sokong YB'.

Sekarang adalah musim seseorang menjadi pengemis untuk menjadi pemimpin, ataupun pemimpin bertukar menjadi pengemis untuk kekal jadi pemimpin. Dan kita mungkin akan terus dipimpin oleh pemimpin yang berjiwa pengemis, yang mempunyai harga diri yang terlalu rendah.

Kepimpinan adalah satu amanah, dan amanah tidak boleh diperdagangkan. Bersedialah untuk bertalkin kepada bangsa ini jika mereka masih ingin terus menerus memperdagangkan amanah kepimpinan di kalangan mereka.

The farce has just started.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ali Rustam - Good Riddance?

Looks like it is the end of the road for Ali Rustam when UMNO appeals panel upholds the disciplinary board's decision to bar him from contesting the UMNO deputy president's post. It was not my intention to take sides in the UMNO election, but I think the Malacca's CM disqualification is one of 'good riddance' and as a citizen of this blessed nation, I am glad that a person who could hardly be classified as intelligent has been barred from contesting for a post which could automatically make him eligible for the Deputy Prime Minister' post.

I shudder to think of having a Deputy Prime Minister who got his degree through distance learning. I shudder to imagine if he sits together with his counterparts from ASEAN big boys in any dialogue or negotiation. Surely we will be cornered or check-mated in a very short time. Compare all our potential Deputy Prime Ministers and either Singapore's or Thailand's, or even Indonesia. I think ours is the least qualified in term of academic qualifications. Remember that Singapore's Deputy PM was also a professor in law and a graduate of Yale, and he was part of the team which had beaten us in the case of Pulau Batu Putih.

We need the brightest among us to be our leaders, and that is the secret of Singapore's success so far. This characteristic is even specified in Islam as a leader. In Malaysia, our present leaders are not the best among us in terms of intellectualism and moral, and therefore we would continue to hear various misdemeanours committed by our so-called leaders. We are even going to have a number one leader whose private life becomes one of the famous coffee-shop talks, and the image is very much tainted.

Really I am waiting for a more complete 'good riddance' soon, and not just Ali Rustam as a person. The nation needs people with full of 'fathonah' and 'akhlaq' which could not be questionable at all.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Down Memory Lane - Paya Tok Gading

My first 'encounter' with Paya Tok Gading was when I was around 7 years old when we moved (or 'had to move?') from our house inside Sekolah Naim LilBanat to a house near Paya Tok Gading, which is not very far from Berek 12. It was a wooden house without electricity or water supplies, and we had to use pelita every night to study. The rental was RM10.00, if I'm not mistaken. The house was inside a small rubber plantation.

I still remember when we reached the 'new' house, the first thing I did was to play beside the paya together with my elder brothers and try catching various types of fishes there (and the first time that I saw 'ikan terubok' which would easily died, which puzzled me at that time). That was the start of my 'attachment' with Paya Tok Gading until I was around 14 years old, when I started my study at KIK.

Paya Tok Gading would be full with water during monsoon season. Playing at Paya Tok Gading exposed us to various dangers and we also got to know all of our village's nerds. When the monsoon rain started, we would keep watching its level, and when we thought the level was just adequate, the fun would start with all types of activities like rafting (made from banana trees or bamboo), fishing and of course swimming. We were never afraid of the danger by swimming inside the paya. The only danger we foresaw was when we reached home with our bodies covered with mud, and this would create trouble with Ma, who would of course made noise. Then we would get our 'reward' from Ma for the adventure. The mud was quite difficult to remove even after we had washed ourselves from our neighbours' wells. Or sometimes the 'spies' would keep Ma informed of our adventures in Paya Tok Gading, and we would never be left off the hook. And the 'spies' were none other than our own younger sisters who were still considered 'underaged' and not 'eligible' to join the ranks of the adventurers of Paya Tok Gading.

One thing I still remember is that our late father had never let us eat the fishes from the paya, saying that the paya is dirty and the fishes are not consummable. Usually he would buy 'ikan darat' from a source which he was very sure to be clean. He was very particular of what we take, either in term of 'kesucian' or halalness of the food. He used to say that 'kalau sumber tu haram, jangan bawa balik ke rumah bagi anak makan'.

When two of my sons were still small many years back, I passed by the paya together with my family, and I told my sons, almost proudly, of the place where I used to have fun as a boy. They were quite shocked and said 'ayah mandi kat tempat macam ni?', with disbelief looks on their faces. Well, I think Paya Tok Gading managed to shape us to become adventerous and full of ideas, just like one of your uncles and aunties who could be considered 'veterans' of Paya Tok Gading, who are now in the pinnacle of their careers.

Paya Tok Gading no more exists now and the area is full with houses and bushes, but the memory is still there.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hell Hath No Fury........

(NSTP picture) a nenek scorned.

The body language tells everything, indicating that animosity is very intense in Wanita Umno. The internal struggle will likely leave the wing divided after 25 March 2009.

One of them will meet her Waterloo in two weeks time. And when we talk about 'Waterloo', we always refer to a person who has been in the conquering mood for quite a long time. As you know, Kak Ijat has been 'conquered' during the last political tsunami in Lembah Pantai.

It is very likely that the nenek will meet its Waterloo in two weeks time. With the intense fighting for various posts in Umno General Assembly later this month, the infighting in Umno will further escalate, and maybe it will be the start of 'Waterloo' for Umno itself.

Hopefully all the vanquished will not be sent to 'St Helena' after 25 March.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Water Transfer Tunnel-At Last, The Award

It has been quite disgusting to see the political development in Perak, and the scenario is becoming more like a circus, with all the politicians to be like clowns. The scenario managed to put me into hibernation for quite a while. It is not my intention to write further on this and become part of the circus. Let's discuss a more 'serious' issue.

At last, the much-talked about Interstate Water Transfer Tunnel project is likely to be awarded to the lowest bidder, the consortium of Shimizu-Nishimatsu-UEM and IJM with their bid of RM1.31 billion. The fund for the project is from Japanese loan under the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), and understandably the award will go to a Japanese-led consortium. I was told by one of my friends in a major construction company in Malaysia that his company was not even pre-qualified for the tender, which specified that the tenderer should have completed a certain length of tunnel as a pre-qualification for tendering. But knowing the company myself, which has successfully completed one of major tunnelling projects in Malaysia, I am quite confident that it would be able to finish the project (with minimum participation from foreign experts) if given the opportunity and trust by our government. Sadly, I think we were obliged to award the contract to a Japanese company.

As reported by media, the lowest bidder submitted a conditional bid which specifies that the consortium would be compensated if it encounters rock strength higher than estimated. It is reported that negotiation is still ongoing for the consortium to drop the conditional bid. Hopefully our government will succeed in the negotiation, or the contract should be awarded to the second highest bidder. If not, the government would end up spending more money than expected since a conditional bid is like giving an open cheque to the contractor. In my own experience, the contractual claim for higher rock strength in tunnelling will be no less 30% of the original contract sum.

Let's look at the members of the consortium. It is okay is appoint Shimizu, one of the top three construction companies in Japan. It is also quite understandable if UEM and IJM get the contract as a government-linked company and the third largest Malaysian construction company respectively (even though they will end being sleeping partners only). The major issue here is the presence of Nishimatsu in the consortium. This company is embroiled in high profile corruption cases in Japan and Thailand, and it has been banned from bidding for any public works projects in Japan. I also heard that it has also been banned in Singapore. It should be noted that Nishimatsu was also responsible for the Nicoll Highway tragedy in Singapore in 2004, where a section of the underground wall of Singapore Circle Line MRT project collapsed, killing 4 people. For the incident, it was fined $121,400 and the whole Circle Line project was delayed from 2008 to 2010. One of the reasons cited for the collapse was design errors which led to weakness of the underground wall and its subsequent collapse. It would be a big gamble on our construction safety standards if we were to appoint this type of contractor, and it would be a mockery to our construction standard to appoint a company which has been rejected by others.

Civil engineering developed from military engineering, and I believe that major infrastructure projects should be given to local players mostly for safety reasons, especially for tunnelling projects. As I mentioned in my earlier posting, one of our neighbours use tunnels as part of their civil defence system, and in a conference on a major project in Malaysia, the neighbour even sent their delegates from its Defence Science and Technology Agency. In Malaysia, we do not give a damn on the sensitivity and importance of our infrastructure projects.

I still think that the best solution for the interstate water transfer tunnel is to forgo the Japanese loan and to build it using our own fund, if it is really necessary. All the GLCs should play their roles as part of their collective corporate responsibilities for this initiative.


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