Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Shell& snails

PokKu- Remis picking by the seaside is like strawberry picking by the farm side in the early summer. You eat as much as you can; and what you can’t you weight and pay. In the case of remis, you can only eat what you pick and there are not much remis nowadays except for the empty shells lying on the beach. However, there are many cousin and second cousin of the remis which may a different name or look but taste as nice. The smaller version is known as etok. Eating it very tedious job like eating kuaci since not much meat in the shell. The bigger version is the kepah (kepoh) whose shell is thicker and white/ brown in colour. When cooked, it can be a kuali full but the meat is only a handful. Those are the flat shaped mollusk. The white siput look like the thumb and you boil it and use a tooth pick to pick it and dip it in the kerepok lekor sauce. The white shell is beautiful which is used for playing “batu selambut “or “batu seremban”
The “lala” with an elongated slightly grayish greenish shell is always available in the market. It used to be RM 3.00 per kilo in the 80’s but now, it shoots up to RM 12 per kilo (due to the price hike of Brent Crude Petroleum to US$ 59.98 per barrel). The cooked lala will be RM 15- 20 for small portion in the restaurant or may be a bit cheaper at the Tom Yam stalls. Nowadays, many just buy only 250 grammes for use as rencah /garnishing. There is the “ambal”, which resides in a green bamboo like-shell. It is gathered by using a stick with the lime (kapor sireh) at the end which is poked into the ambal hole. The poor thing cannot stand the heat of the kapor and surfaced up the sand to be collected. It is cooked with or without the shell. The best gravy for nasi lemak is the “sambal ambal “– try it and it is finger sucking good. . .
The cockle (kerang) used to be 30 sen a kilo. It was a poor man food – boiled with the shell with serai, salt and gelugur to make the cockle soup. When there was no Maggie mee yet during the student days, the rice was eaten with kerang soup( 30 sen/kati) fried eggs ( 12 sen/egg) and kangkong.( 10 sen’/ 8 tahils). The kerang rebus or bakar is very popular in the hawker stalls. The expert eater can open the kerang shell with only two fingers!! But now, it has gone to RM 2.00 per kilo... The price of kerang in Sabah and Sarawak relatively high (up to RM 5.00 per kilo!!) The kerang Sabah are very big (sebesar sepenumbuk- clasped fingers), and when opened, it shows the red fleshy meat which always reminds us of some other organ which look exactly the same when it is opened up!!
The lokan is found in the muddy river. The texture and colour of the shell is like the buffalo or elephant skin. It is so rare a delicacy and it is not cooked on its own but use as rencah( garnishing) to the vegetables. They are gathered by digging into the river bed mud with the feet or in swampy area with a parang by “ tetak selut” ( cutting into the mud) and the click sound showed their presence . In the mangrove swamp, there is
The siput sedut. (Sucking snail) whose shell spirals up to 2 to 3 inches long. It is usually cooked as masak lemak or masak asam pedas cair with batang keladi. . If the pointed part of the shell is not cut opened, however hard you suck, it will not come out. The fun is in sucking this snail - choot, choot and it will spiral up into your mouth

There’s the kupang from the Muar River. . It looks like the lala but greener in colour with orange meat. The price per longgok has also gone up too since it has become a common sight in five star hotels buffet stations sitting proud alongside the imported oyster. The oysters have to be alive. Why do they put the lime on the oyster? First, to nullify the uncooked raw taste. ( hanyir) Second, to test whether it is fresh, alive and kicking – that’s what happened when the lime is squeezed on them. Poor creature, it has to be tortured first by the acidity of the lime and then eaten alive!!
On the other hand, you will swear if you get the “dead” empty shell of the kepah/lala /kerang. Kerang busuk is a popular proverb for those who like to smile with overexposed teeth with the bad breath. The empty shell is filled wit the swamp mud. When opened, it will release the swamp gas and mud. Can you imagine that you are seeping the soup in which this muddy thing is part of the recipe?
These mollusc, cockles etc. they are the Nature’s Indah Water. They lay on the river bed and processed of all the pollutants and clear the river. That why they gather lots of mineral and mercury. However, the unfortunate creature cannot evolve fast enough to cope with modern chemical pollutants discharged by the mills and factories and nowadays, their population is fast depleting.


PokKu- Your revisit on “latah” prompted me to melatah on this topic. The latah can be switched on by a “provocateur” who acts like a battery to the car engine. The switch can be a “cokek” or “cuit” (a hard or soft finger poked at the stomach), tepuk bahu /belakang (slap at the back ) ; jerkoh ( surprise shout), or prompted leading words ( like the TV series “ whose line is it anyway” ) or self provoked when something moves unexpectedly ( an object fell down). There must be an element of ambush or surprise by the provocateur to set up the chain reaction by the “pelatah”. I suppose if deprived of the starter or catalyst, the latah behavior will be gone. I don’t see many among the younger generation having this latah behavior– except for Rizal of AF3 who pretended to be one only as pelatah pelatih (trainee copycat). When startled (jerkoh) without his anticipation, he did not react as a real pelatah at all!!
In those kampong days, latah was a form of entertainment; they didn’t have the radio/TV/Cinema comedy programme – no Mat Kambing, no Haris Iskandar, no Senario, and no Apek. Latah performance was a traditional form of spontenous stand up comic plus slapstick comedy. This psycho–physico -oral comedy tradition was maintained to keep them entertained during the family or village gathering. Probably, in 20 years time, the latah per se will be lost from the Malay kampong society. On the other hand, it may be transformed into modern latah in the urban areas especially among the politicians and public officials.
The traditional Malay society years ago live in bungalow (single pondok) elevated link/terrace house (long house) squatter huts (bangsal pisang sesikat) and latah was explained by researcher in this context. As a child, the parents used to play “peek a boo “(aauuu cak, aauuu cak. - a mild jerkoh?) The child responded by laughing continuously. After some times, he will guffaw automatically with the same stimulus. It is the conditioning of stimuli and response as explained by Skinner in his dog salivating by the sound of the bell. The other habits among the Malays were to tickle the child on the stomach either by fingers, you head or the father’s unshaven chin. The child will laugh due to your tickling but after some time; it is on the auto pilot which may not be enjoyable anymore. This habit of trying to surprise and startle one another remained as a fun game in the adult life as latah.
There was a story in Trengganu of how a latah lady met a tiger in the jungle. The tiger roared at her and she roared back. The tiger waved its paw at her, she waved back. When the tiger jumped, she also jumped. In the state of latah, she imitated whatever the tiger did without any fear. Finally, the tiger gave up and moved away. When the villagers found her, she was exhausted sitting down under a tree. Since the incidence occurred during a fasting month, the tiger may be fasting too and just wanted to have some fun with the latah lady. It reminds me of the man in the film “Dance with the Wolves” and in this case, it was a lady who “Dance with a Tiger”

What is interesting is that latah will be followed by the uttering of words and body gestures – at times rather vulgar!! The person who “cokek” like to hear those words or see those gestures uncensored, which is a taboo for a normal person but excusable by a latah person. Perhaps, those vulgar words and actions were bottled up in the individual / society and the latah incidence is an acceptable safety valve. The off colour words and gestures may be done by the pelatah. This is reflected in the entertainment business .nowadays. The local films and TV shows are fully censored but the satellite TV network can show the explicit sex and off colour dialogues as they am, I supposed. In the state of latah? It even occurred among the bloggers and you can check with the AhPek blogging with his creative beautiful poems. It is not censored since Ahpek is in the acceptable latah blogging state. (Always saw Lucia & Belacan there)
The fun of latah is sometimes accompanied by its danger. If some one who latah is holding a weapon (knife, gun, even cangkul) or he is a martial arts exponent, to provoke him is very risky indeed. The latah provocateur may just poke with his fingers and in response; the pelatah will poke the provocateur’s stomach with his knife or a good fatal blow on the neck. The pelatah may plead temporary insanity of latah type which may be admissible defense and need to be proven in court. The public prosecutor will be very careful to prevent him from melatah while the defense counsel will question to induce him to latah. If provoked enough, he will jump and do a silat pulut on the judge bench even though he was not called to the bench.

One of the modern version of the Malaysian latah is the political latah. This latah culture had being upgraded from the kampung pondoks and long houses to the urban setting of political, administrative and even legislative system without a clear separation of joker ( pelatah). The kenduri event as platform in the kampong has been upgraded to the modern media platform – newspapers and TV. The immediate unthinking reaction which may lead to libel and slander suit of Million Ringgits. Some people are in the habit of snubbing others which was being carried forward even before retiring. Of course, it has to be remedied by one million apologies. If not, it will be libel and slender case of millions Ringgits. Or in some cases, it demanded for both, namely, apologies and damages.
The latah behaviour had crept in the legislature. Shouting and hurling harsh words –reminds of those school days after a game of football or rugby when cheering squad start exchanging insults at one another. Under those conditions, you just melatah with all the creative and vulgar words and gestures. Fortunately, these latah are not being upgraded to verbal or physical “amok” yet. At least, not as bad as other countries – punching, hair pulling and throwing of shoes which were all televised live. In Malaysia, what was caught on TV was that they were with closed eyes and open mouth deep in their thoughts (or in their dreams) especially during the late Friday evening budget session. But the TV anchor lady with the lovely tudung in the Bajet commentary was very good and the pensioner was ex-cited to the announcement of RM 200 bonus...


PokKu – Amok is one a few Malay word being incorporated into the English language and “embedded” into the American language I remember reading Hikayat Hang Tuah when one mad man ran amok in the market and the warrior hunted him down. The Megat was upset and ran amok when the Ruler performed a Caesarian on his wife just to retrieve a jackfruit (the operation was successful but the patient died.) He ran amok and killed the Ruler while being carried on the sedan chair (mangkat dijulang). Even Hang Jebat was damn sore when he thought Hang Tuah was killed and ran amok in the palace. He was killed with his consent by giving the Taming Sari Keris to Hang Tuah. (If not sorry to say that Hang Tuah may never have any chance to kill him). Is the amok behaviour only occurred and originated in the ancient Malay society??

The amok culture also occurred in the advance countries as demonstrated by the shooting spree among the US youngsters. That’s the case of not only transfer of word amok but it is the phenomenon of cross psycho cultural transference (what a mouthful!!) from Malaysia to America. I remember seeing the TV on the days of Chicago gansterism where Al Capone and the Italian Godfather’s main hobby was to run amok and killed the whole restaurant. Even today the US pilots and aviators seems to run amok now and then and bombed to death thousands of innocent people called as the collateral damage. While flying the pilots keep singing the old McDonald song

The American pilots have the guns …
They shoot ,shoot here…shoot, shoot there
They bomb, bomb here... bomb, bomb there
a shot here, a bomb there…
Sorry lah for the Iraqis and Afghans
Those with poor eye sight are good in the sense of touch as shown by the Japanese film of the Blind swordsman and may be Mr. Mat Liking Leé learns the art from the blind. The blind politician is also having a good sense of being touched since the masseur to the former President obtained billions of Rupiah worth of properties. King Arthur knights were said to be good in practicing this art but use a more refine instrument. When questioned by King Arthur whether he was playing around with the wives of those who went to battle, he was speechless after his tongue cut off by a specially designed guillotine chastity belt. Mat Licing Le’e uses the “Touch and Go “method. He touched and if it is super smooth, he will go. Except for one unfortunate day, when it was “Touch and Amok”. Sometimes, you feel like doing the same thing “touch and amok” when your smart tag do not work and there are five cars waiting in line behind you.

The amok may happen under the influence of anger and revenge. It is usually due to crime of passion. The hubby coming home at night and find the wife with her lover and he ran amok – that’s the crime of passion in a non polyandry society. One can also run amok under the influence of alcohol. The cars in Brazil are able run at the amok speed when it uses gasohol. It is interesting to note that under the influence of alcohol (during the fasting month!!); three Johorians can claim an island belonging to them and run amok against the hotel guests. However, not in all cases one cannot pretend to be under the influence of alcohol as an alibi to run amok. A man was very drunk and he asked a stranger to help him to get home. The stranger agreed to help and he pointed to the parking lot and said “that’s my car “. So, the stranger started the car and drive on with him. Then , he pointed to a road and said “that’s the road to my house”.and the stranger followed the direction. Then, he pointed to the house and said “there my house, please stop”. The stranger stopped the car and he went to open the door. Then, he pointed to the master bed room and said “that’s my room” and pushed opened the door. There he saw two persons on the bed, his wife and another man. He pointed to the bed and said “that’s my wife and that’s me sleeping besides her”.

Tujuh Liko

PokKu – Malam Tujuh Liko was when the children of yesteryears lighted up the night. This year it may coincide with the Deepavali, the festival of lights. There is a new term being coined the Depa Raya. As those in Penang (Lucia?) will say, this year “depa saja yang raya” but last few years we have to “kongsi raya. “Liko, lekor, lekur,” - words that may sound the almost same but having different meaning. – Pada Malang tujuh liko, kita makang tujuh lekur kerpok lekor. (Lekur-basket/coaster for cooking pots)
The children then looked forward for the tujuh liko night like the adults of today looking forward for the Merdeka Night to raise the flag or counting down at the clock tower on the New Year Eve. Coming back from school, the boys looked for the discarded condensed milk tins. The use a special tin opener did not detach the cover and the hole on the tin cover itself was used for putting the wick (sumbu) made from tali guni. Cigarette tins were preferred but it was difficult to get unless you father was a real chain smoker. Bamboo can also be used but it consumed a lot of kerosene. Some use the white candles which are of two types – the long, slim one and the short, fat one. We had the illusion the long ,slim ones last longer, but in fact, the short, fat ones last longer –I suppose, it may be the same in real life. The oil lamp (pelita ayam) was then used for lighting the house and not for tujuh liko night decoration. However, we can now nostalgically buy the ready made pelita in the supermarket. With the coming of the C.E.B , the modern “api lip lap” become more popular.
The famous fire flower (sparklers) was the Black Cat Brand (Chop Kuching). It will light up and sparkle which brightened the children’s face and feelings. However, my father opted to buy the cheaper inferior brand where only half will be lighted.. It was considered not so dangerous to the children unless it was thrown on the attap roofs. Well, not so in my case. When the sparkle finished, the wire rod was still hot with orange colour. My younger brother was very impatient when he wanted another sparkler. Feeling ignored, he placed that hot wire rod on my arms – next to the vaccination scar. Wow, it was so painful. I have great sympathy to the cattle that were branded by the cowboys. Luckily it was on the arms . If it is on the face, I will be like the Zulu warrior. If it is on my eyes , I will be like Long John Silver…Anyway , I still have two vaccination marks on my arm.
Bamboo Canon was synonymous with malam tujuh likor. It can be specially made from the galvanized iron pipe where the hole is dugged and the end is sealed end with brass. ( tembaga.) The material use is the carbide plus water that produced gas for good explosion. ( Carbide was available since it was used for my father head lamp to tap rubber). The art of making and operating the bamboo canon was passed from my uncle to me. The bamboo used were the buluh betong reinforced with the rattan ( simpai rotan) .The Inter Kampung competition was to decide which kampong had the loudest one and the champion cannon get the respect of others. The technique of mixing the carbide need a special skill. If not, ( with too much water), it will sound with a weak “ddebohh like a loud fart. And you don’t want to be associated with a farting canon . The most dangerous part is just after the explosion when the remnants gas is still glowing.. You have to check with the help of pelita or torch light and if you were unlucky, it may re ignite and boom, you got it boy!! You can loose you whole eyebrow or your whole eye. To be safe, you have to wait until no more light in it.
There were many types of mercun( fire crackers) in different colorful or checkered wrapping. Mercun minyak was the thumb thick red coloured types and they were the loudest. There were also the small ones, the mercun padi – it just sounded …. kelepeeh. The fun was to light it up and cover it with tin can. If you were slow in covering it, you get the blast in your fingers. When it shot up like the Apollo rocket and you catch it on its way down. In the dark of the night , you kicked the tunggul (sepak tunggul)which split open you thumbnail.
Anyway , I had a few the Malam Tujuh Liko Souvenirs that I keep until today. The scar on my arm, finger scar for trying to feel vibrations of fire crackers, short eyebrow from blowing the bamboo cannon and the split thumb nail for kicking the tunggul . I had lived a fruitful and meaningful traditional Malay kampong boyhood. And still enjoy the tujuh liko nights even today and tempted to shoot one or two bamboo cannon but I am sure the police car will be in front of my gate in a matter of minutes.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Pele Pele

PokKu- “Pele Pele” as it is spelt is difficult to pronounce unless it is in phonetic. This is the problem with the Malay language when the various “e” like e-teleng, e-pepet, e-sepet and e-rempit are discarded. Probably, the Malindo Committee on Spelling Standardization had the foresight then that lots more of “e’s coming such as e-mail, e-banking, e-commerce etc. and I was better to do away with it. Generally, it is difficult to pronounce by only looking at the spelling. Different pronunciation depending on how it is sounded consequently convey different meanings. PokKu invited me to illustrate and elaborate but is a tough challenge without the assistance of any Kopi O, Rokok Sigeret and “Gho Tu” !!

When pele is pronounced with Kelantanese slang like the Besutians, it may mean mango, plan or male vital organ. Since orang orang ( scare crows) ,kuda kuda (bench or the roof support) means the artificial version of the original objects, pele pele should be the artificial mango, plan or male organ . Depending which syllable is stressed in the pronunciation, buah pele may mean the mango fruit or the man’s fruit. The English expression is always that it is the woman who “come” and the man who “go” as in the case of the night that falls but instead ,the day that breaks !However, if it is using in a different context, pele means plans / technical drawings(lakaran)/map of an area. During a site meeting in Kota Baru, the lady contactor asked the architecture “tulung bukok pele letok atah mejo kito nok kelih” which can be transliterated as “Please open up the plan and put it on the table so that we all can see.” Since the architect is not from Kelantan, he blushed and refused to do it.

When pronounced with a slight Portuguese accent, pele is the famous Brazilian football player (as construed by Lucia). Pele can dribble the ball very well and we can say that “ Pele panda gete bola.”. But reverse the sentence as “Bola panda gete pele” can be vulgar. Try to read this with the appropriate pronunciation “pele Pele lepe macam pulut lepe “ .(lepe =leper , pulut lepe =pulut panggang) Porfavor Senor Pele.Mucho obligado

Perchong or sengeleng means is the deliberate action or sengaja. However,it has often been translated and spelt into sahaja . In praying or fasting, the action of praying or fasting is preceded by the deliberate intention (niat yang sengaja buat) . May be the first person who translated the Arabic “nawaitu” spelt sengaja wrongly as “sahaja”. The sengeleng, sengaja or sahaja has a lot of use in religious ritual. For example, I intend to fast tomorrow or “ sahaja aku puasa esok hari……..”.I intend to pray tarawih now (sahaja aku sembahayang terawih). Perhaps in Trengganuapeak, I should say “sengeleng aku puasa” or “sengeleng aku solat tarawih”. On the other hand , “saj’je je aku posa” may mean that the fasting is of no use, wasted or burned. This may be true if one refrain from eating and drinking only but violated all other forbidden things. For all the haram and makruh behaviour, the pahala marks will be deducted which ends up in negative marks !! “Prosa jadi saj’je je, dok dapat apa apa hanya lapar dan dahaga.”

The other confusing word is “tunai.” To many, it means cash money. However, when it is translated from Arabic, the tunai need not necessarily mean cash. The tunai there may mean fulfill ( fulfill my wish-tunai permintaan ku). Sembahayang tunai means it is not the qada’ (replacement /delayed) of the missed solat. The word tunai is used in the Muslim marriage vow. The man has to undergo the aqad nikah ( marriage contract ) ceremony by performing the ijab ( offer) and acceptance (qabul). This whole proceeding may look simple but it has serious implications. The father of the bride or in most cases delegated to the Qadi made the offer of the bridegroom “aku nikah dan aku kahwin akan dikau dengan ….( biride’s name) dengan mas kahwin nya RM 80, TUNAI”. The bridegroom has to immediately accept (if he is not so nervous ) “Aku terima nikah nya,bride’s name dengan mas kahwin 80 ringgit, TUNAI. So, what does the word TUNAI refer to ? Is it the value of the mas kahwin in cash not in cheque or bank draft or IOU ? Is it the aqad (marriage contract) that is DONE NOW? So, we have to go to the basic original Arabic version “ankahtuka wazawajtuka maa’ Fulanah binti Fulan bemaharin 80 rinjit, al’aan”. The word al áan here I think refer to the ijab and qabul which is being execute now, at the present moment .And definitely , it should never be comprehended as referring to hard cash or money!! I am wondering where we do get such an idea that it refer to cash? May be the first translator translated that way and many who were not familiar with the context straight away linked to the monetary value. May be the late P Ramlee , in making fun of the situation used to say “ aku terima nikah nya hutangggg….. When you have the wrong concept performing the oral marriage contract, it may not affect your aqidah but one may question the validity of such concept or niat . May be many feel bad and want to rectify it and perform the second time with your wife? But many more want to correct it the second time with the second wife??. !!

No Ryme Loan

Pok Ku- No rain, no storm and suddenly, no streamyx. That’s really a frustrating experience. What is expected - “rain or shine, the service should be streaming on …?” If not, it should be considered as “stream my- ex”!! There are the others, i.e., Atlas One and Time Webbit but they can also be also “dua kali lima”. Nothing like a direct dedicated line but even that is not a guarantee. It seems that they may be very keen competitors in giving the frequent interruption service. It reminds those days when the class back benchers were competing hard to get the last place in final year examination. Our present backbenchers are also competing hard to get their voices heard by doing all the ridiculous things. At least, they were and are well known for some reason, and not just being Mr. Average.

It is difficult to find what rhyme for streamyx. There are two I can think off hand, i.e, Tumyx and a Premyx. Tumyx is brand for tomyam paste and the Premyx is the mobile cement mixer on the way to the construction site. So, let’s start the rhyme on the streamyx (in tune wit the rap song)

Streamyx PokKu, duk putuh sokmo

Sakit nyo hati , tapi nok wak guano

Kalu buleh, nok tera hok lain pulo

Tapi takut takut, jjadi duo kali limo

Sema nya samo, kata Derumo

Those who borrowed money from PokKu , don’t reply the sms. Probably, they can’t afford to sms back. As the saying goes, neither a borrower nor a lender…that’s my personal monetary policy. It helped to maintain my financial stability without complying with the liquidity ratio regulated by Bank Negara. You may not get a sms reply from a borrower- eventually may loose a friend. You may loose more if you’re the borrower and the generous lender is your Big Brother (Along). It is not only your property being not mortgaged but your family safety and peace of mind too. So, tolong, tolong never play along with Along for any loans. On the other hand, there are friends who treat you as his Big Brother (Abang Long) They‘re the one who love to borrow and never pay back. In dealing with this character, the trick is to give a fraction of what is requested, not to disappoint him. He will take it and you treat it as a written off bad debt- small contribution to a friend for old time sake . (Perhaps, your conscience says that it’s better for you to buy books for your children or pay his computer installments.) Then, pray hard that he will be too shy to come for another loan. However, at times he thickened his skin and face and still come again. This is the multiple comes type. Remind him of the last unpaid loan and donate a fraction of what he asked. If you’re lucky he would not come the third time but be prepared for the many subsequent times . Better to loose them rather than keeping being his abang long - big brother!!

The most difficult situation to deal with is those who ask to guarantee their bank loan.. The loan has no collateral and he is asking you to pledge you salary or property as the collateral. If he could not afford to pay or conveniently forget to pay, you are the collateral damage to the loan recovery process . But how to get off such a tricky situation especially if he is your good friend. First, tell the story that you were once a guarantor and still paying the loan that was not paid by your good friends. Or if you are daring enough, you can say that you were once declared bankrupt and therefore cannot provide any guaranteed. The alternative approach is to get mutual guarantee. In the early days, when they want to get married but their savings were insufficient, they had to register as a member and borrow from the Cooperatives. So, the two borrower’s guarantee each other and no one can default. However, the marriage certificate was still being endorsed by the Cooperatives ( like the car registration card by the Finance companies! ) until their third child when it was finally cancelled. By then, they may be itching to take another Cooperative loan for another one more !!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


PokKu – What do pensioners do when they retire? One option is to listen to Pok Ku’s Radio Pencen. However, your old radio pencen had also retired and has been replaced by a new one. After 20 to 30 years of working in the public sector, one is compulsorily retired (bersara wajib) at 56 and the optional retirement ( bersara sunat) is still at 45. Recently, it was reinterpreted as after the age of 55 – many had one more year automatic extension. Usually, the newly pensioned person feel a bit lost. He is a bit sensitive to be called a pensioner. Work had been the major part of his life and is embedded as part his personality and identity. So, once retired he will loose his identit , his financial security, his authority and even his cultural sanity. He will also loose his rigidity and turgidity but it is normal and acceptable at that age. Oh what a fearful situation to go into – especially among the would be pensioners!! However, the adjustment to retirement may take some times and finally the retiree will somehow get adjusted despite the continous rambling desire to be retained in the service.
Some may look forward to the retired life. That’s the balance or residual of your life ( sisa hidup) which you should be free to do with it. Many want to retire in a quite life back in the kampung. . Away from the rumbles and noise of the urban working life to the way of life of their childhood which they nostalgically missed. But some may find it difficult to readjust to the kampung life since many things had changed. Much of the urban and working life values had seeped in. So, it is not surprising in some cases , the retiree remigrate to the urban life where things are more familiar. Some, especially among the Muslims, will retreat to the mosque and surau. They join the Hereafter Club and become the permanent fixtures of the masjid. They attend the religious lectures and try to correct their reading of the Quran. That’s the peaceful life for them. They will comfortably changed the jubah for the jogging track suit after Subuh to jog or do morning walk at the nearby jogging track. And trying hard not to ogle those ladies in sexy track bottom and bulging track suits.
On the other hand, some would prefer to continue working . The recent rumor that the government may increase the retirement age to 58 seem to be exciting to those who is going to retire this year. The reason being that all our neighbouring countries are retiring above 56 years since the average survival age of Malaysian is 70. Furthermore, there are gaps in the second echelon of the government servants as the result of job freeze policy implemented years ago. The financial burden of paying the pensions is getting bigger – since you have to pay to those who don’t work . The deferment of two years will give the government a moratorium period of two years of pension payment. The most important thing is that those approaching 56 at the end of this year have a lots of commitments – housing loans, cars loans, Along loans, children going to the colleges /universities. However, their hope was dashed as there was no such announcement in the last budget. They keep wondering how they are going to survive at one third of their pay. The only solution is to temperorily balik kampung and celeberate the hari raya and by the end of the year to “balik kampung tanam kacang.”
When one retires from the government service, one gets about one third of the last drawn salary. Since the optional retirement age is 45, it means that from 45 to 56 years in the service, one is getting only two third of the salary as another one third is due to him anyway even though he is not working. You work more and increase your productivity but paid less. Many don’t realize the irony of the pre retirement salary. However, the retirement age was overshadowed by the retirement party when it is overdone. The government allocation is RM 15 per head of the celebrators for the retirement party plus a token gift valued ar RM 200 and a certificate of appreciation for you to frame. To be fair, one also should remember the gratuity, the bonus,the purchase of the office car at the book value ( after depreciation) and the three months handshake which come to a handsome amount received by the retiree as his parting gift.

Traditional Management

PokKu – There are many management principles in the old traditional Malay books. That perpatih seems to show the optimal mobilization of all resources. The clever experts are employed as consultants. (Jurunding). The rich venture capitalist will be tapped for their fund (emas) and it should be the list of companies with the blessing of the Tabung Haji Investment Panel. If not, it becomes controversial!! It is not only covering the management of 3Ms Money, Manpower and Materials but also to manage the W’s - Weaknesses. The immobile / paralyzed (due to severe bone fracture/ deformed) can stay put in one place and shoo the chicken away. The blind blow the lesong‘s edge. The lesong top will be full of padi husk and it has to be blown off to avoid the husk dust from re contaminating. The blind can also pound even though they cannot see the lesong opening. After all, most of the pounding is done without looking at it and even in the dark! The deaf can light up and fire the canon but should have a good knowledge of the sign language. The one with the ringworms (berkurap) were sent to look for bamboo since additional itchiness from the bamboo makes no difference generally, the handicapped are given the responsibility which they can excel in.
However, the workers/ staffs today are physically and mentally fit but unfortunately some are attitudinally handicapped. Given the job as the telephone operator, they ignore the ringing phone and answer it impolitely which require the sopan santun campaign. The fractured or paralyzed use it an asset to beg. However, those with good handicaps can be trained in golf to become BJ Singh or Tiger Wood... The modern employees who had the ring worm don’t look for the bamboo /bamboo shoot. These are always hamsap (miang) for a scratch and wanted other to scratch their back in return for a small scratch. It is pronounced as the original Malay as “kurap” but is spelt in the anglicized version as “corrupt”.

There are many examples of the traditional management style as there are management gurus like Mr. Peter Druker, Mr. Kohler etc. Unfortunately, it is more the case of only 5% management and 95 % style and the management Theory “X” is more applicable. The management style of Mr. Mark Jennings (alias Mat Jenin) was a very good long term planner. While climbing up the tree, he was seriously planning to sell the coconuts (paid in kind to him for plucking the nuts) and build up his business to be the Billionaire to marry the King’s daughter. But he fell from the bed to his death on the honeymoon night when trying to do his duty to his bride. This is the case too much idea, talk and planning and the company do not move any where. Never employ Mr. Mark Jennings as your advisors since they will give sound advice (95% sound and only 5% business advice!) There is Mr. Peck Cardock (alias Pak Kadok) whose fighting cock won in a match with the King’s fighting cock. But he lost his bet since he was not very knowledgeable in the trading and hedging in foreign exchange. He exchanged his own good fighter cock for the weaker fighter cock belonging to the King. He lost his village which he bet and lost even his sarong when he was jumping happily up and down thinking he had won. This is the case of one who mortgage and second charge his property to go into business. But he invests heavily in non income generating assets, i.e., luxury cars, posh office and even lovely houses (which are the status symbol of success).
Finally his mortgage assets had to be auctioned and was bankrupted by the court and lost his pants. Mr. See Loong Chay (alias Si Lunchai) is a good in the crisis management. He offended the king by equating the King bald head as his father’s and was sentenced to death by drowning. However, he managed to negotiate and wriggle out with a good VSS (Voluntary Separation Scheme) just for a song!! There is Mr. Pander (Pak Pandei) who was not “pandai” (clever) but very “pandei” (foolish). He rowed upstream against the tide and then downstream to attend two kenduris but missed both to go home starving. He took on too many contracts /tenders calculating his profits and finally faces the cash flow problem and failed to complete the project. There is Mr. Pock Douglas (alias Pok Dogol), the shadow play character, who was only a servant /jester to King Rama and Sita. He was very wise and in fact, the king’s advisor and the Tok Dalang in the palace. There is the Mr. Matt Prantecham (alias Cik Mamat Parang Tajam). Many people have wrongly associated his “parang tajam” to his phallic capability. Actually, it should be associated with is “sharp” brain and management style as portrayed by Wahid Satay in the old film. Then come the question, parang tumpul siapa punya? Dare not continue the lyrics since it may be sensitive and may be wrongly interpreted. It will always be an honour to become the apprentice to Pok Dogol, Cik Mamat Param Tajam or for that matter Si Luncai and not necessarily the apprentice to Donald Trump since I don’t like his hair style!!

Event Manager

PokKu- Organizing an event such as a conference plus its dinner is a real headache. The main problem is in the budgeting. More often than not, it may run into deficit .To overcome this, it is worthwhile considering to organize an exhibition and get advertisements for the dinner souvenir program book. Built 30 exhibition booths plus space rental for the cost RM 500 each and rent it for RM 2,000. Print 1,000 copies of the slovenlier program at RM 5,000 and collect RM 30,000 from the advertisement. There you get a clean income of RM 70,000. Cakap tak serupa bikin , loh… – How to get people to advertise or participate in your exhibition?? . Even to get the paying participants to respond and register is a problem. Every one wants a free invitation or a discount rate. What about the choice of the venue of the conference? It is better to do at the hotel which do not charge the use of their conference hall (since it is included in the charge for food). If it is in the dedicated Convention Centre, they will charge for everything – for plugs, OHP, microphone, tables, chairs etc. and the food catering is a separate arrangement. I suppose, it was charged separately since they don’t want to have plugs, screws, microphones etc, in your food!! Anyway, when the breakeven point number of paying participants is reached, it is a relief to the event organizers.
There are people who employed the professional event manager. It will relieve you of the all those problems and headache. But the headache will come when you want to pay their fees. You often feel that have to pay a lot for so little being done!! It is better to have a dedicated committee of active people and pay them some honorarium, which is only a fraction of the event manager fees..
Conference management is very trying too. The speakers could not confirm till the last minute. Those confirm don’t show up and you still have to pay 25% for the tickets and one day the hotel room for no show. They want to travel first /business class and want to book their own which go round the world with Malaysian as the last travel destination. When arriving at the airport, they demand the VIP treatment. They want a single limousine or official transport. We are hospitable and too obliging – what to do? that’s our culture (except when we are in the traffic jam!!) On the other hand, if you are presenting a paper in a conference in the so called developed Western countries, they just give you the address and it is all on your own.
In choosing the MC for the conference/ dinner, the professionals are expensive. (However, the MC fees charged by Elida is still very reasonable) So, prepare a very good script and appoint those with some good voice, clear pronunciation, etc to read it and these amateurs/ semi pros will be happy to get a token honorarium. As to the singers for the dinner, the professional artists in Malaysia are very expensive nowadays. It is no more the token sum paid to the “kugrian kenduri kahwin”. The top one costs more than RM 50, 000 for 5 songs only. Many cannot afford it. So, try the budding artists who can quote at competitive rate. If it is an international audience, make sure the artist can speak English. If not, she will be conversing in Malay all through out – even though she twist and twirl her tongue to sing impeccably in her English song. If you ask her manager, he will say that she can do English – it turned out to be her English is limited to “Yes, No, Alright and Thank You” only. I once had an experience to in engaging a well known male artist (singer/comedian/ MC/etc.) who can speak English for an international conference dinner of 1,500 participants. He cracked a very silly joke about how woman fart – and it was considered as in good taste by the august audience taste after which the whole hall was empty ten minutes after that. The irony was that we have to pay him for chasing our participants away from the dinner. Years later our conference participants still remember and talked about that incidence during the dinner.
In estimating the number of tables, that’s another headache. If the dinner is inclusive of the conference fees and located in the Golden Triangle, usually one third of the participants don’t come since there are other attractions in Bukit Bintang!! If you ordered the tables for the whole participants, you’re wasting money. If it is RM 85++ per head, just imagine how much will be wasted if 30 tables are empty RM 25, 00 that’s a lot of money and food. What ever you make from the exhibitions and souvenir program book will go to pay the hotel dinner bill. You work hard to get the advertisers and exhibitors and then pay the hotels for the tables not used. . The hotel will not reduce the number of tables one or two days before the dinner but on the other hand, you can double the number of tables with one or two day’s day notice!! If you booked for a lower number of tables, you will be shivering when the dinners come streaming in.
How about your secretariat staffs? Usually, they are not provided for but if there are empty seats they can come in. Everyone should have the host spirit, the preference is to the guest and the host will take the left over. It is very difficult to treat your secretariat that way – but what to do. But most of the time there are empty tables and they can go in. If not , there are lots of 24 hours Mamak stall where it cost RM 8.50 minus minus per person and not RM 85.00 plus plus per person.

Writing Inggeris

Pok Ku – My mother is not English. So, her tongue is not made in England. My father’s tongue was made in Malaya. Therefore, my mother tongue is not English. So, my English is wyswyg language (wyhwyg = what you hear what you get). Generally, it is not that good and it is also not that bad. So so lah……. My first encounter with English was in the Special Malay Class. There was a subject known as English Language. I used to call it English Lang Lang Guana (that’s the nearest pronunciation of the word language in Malay.) It was difficult to pronounce since the spelling did not match the sound. Special Malay Class was a misnomer which should be Special English Class for Malay kids from Sekolah Melayu. That was where we get the first taste of English –which was sweet or at times bitter. Sweet was when your family look up at you as “boleh speaking orang puteh”, irrespective how broken it was since they don’t speak English. Bitter was when you have to forgo missed the canteen nasi lemak since you have to pay the fine from your pocket money for speaking Malay in class. On second thought, we should have learn the sign language, since such signaling may not be construed as “talking”. No doubt, we have a good vocabulary of our own sign language then but it was only handy when we were quarrelling with other student in the class and started showing that “creative” sign language behind the teacher’s back.
There were also students who were in the Remove Class. Well, they were in standard six in Malay or Chinese school and then joined the English school to repeat the standard six. Sometimes, we called it the half past six – half in Malay medium and half in English medium class of standard six. Until today, I don’t know why it is called the Remove Class. I suppose they were removed from the original Malay or Chinese school to the English school. One seemed to be more proud to have your educational institution called School (English) rather than in Escola - Sekolah (Portuguese) or in Madarassah (Arabic). Since the Remove Class pupils were from other streams i.e. Chinese, Malay or Indian, they were more mature student and their original Malay, Chinese accent was thicker. So are those from East Coast, the North and Negeri Sembilan. It is interesting to listen to the various local flavored versions of English then.
So, our pronunciation is thick with Malay /Chinese accent and ending with laaah or maaaah…or if you were from the then North Borneo baaaaaa. It is interesting how English had been localized or domesticated with local flavor in this region. Malaysian tends to speak fast at the speed of the Malay or Chinese language. My teacher used to caution me that English is a slow language especially when spoken in the cold winter. In Indonesia, they had the Dutch influence - pronounce the consonant “V” as “F sound … “Good Efening”. If they are a Ninoy (male) or a Filipina (female) , their English is more Americanized but inevitably, the deep thick Tagalong crept into their provocation .When they pronounce the word “ in fact” , it sounds more like “in fack” ( spelt with the vocal “ u”) and the comprehension is pronounced ending with shion and not shen. We cannot expect every one to speak, read or write good English. At times, we also cannot understand the Cockney accent in England. In the Midlands of UK, they pronounced “shorter” in distinct two syllables as “shot her” making you wonder who is the murderer?
How was English learned in those days? It was very structured English which stressed very much on grammar. The main book used was the very thick red cover book entitled “The English Grammar” by Wren & Martin. The mastery of this thick book may result in excellent grammar and written English but unfortunately not very conversant in spoken English. We were rather shy to speak English then which was often equated with snobbishness .The only time when a Malaysian will start twisting their tongue towards the English, American, Stralian accent was when they go to study abroad- if you stick to the Malaysian accent , they natives cannot understand what you were talking . Non comprendo, Senor!!
When you went to Form I, you were fascinated with news words. There were student who learn the English direct from the Oxford English Dictionary, starting from A to Z. There were those naughty boys who looked for equivalent vulgar words in the Malay –English dictionary and happily discovered fascinating words like fornication and adulteration (?). There is a special small book – 555- where they write the new words. Those boys in science class were very amused in deliberately pronouncing wrongly the scientific instrument like burette and pipette. Some girls were fascinated with bombastic words. Their essay becomes a jigsaw of sentences with some planted bombastic words to impress but unfortunately out of context and it end up in big red question mark by the teacher who gave low marks. There was the abbreviation in the speech like BF, GF and in the autograph like ITALY (I Trust And Love You), MALAYA. (May Allah Look After You Always).
The radio is one of the source for the student to listen and learn English. . They were very thrilled to hear their names announced by the then Deejay i.e. “The song is requested by Robert Elvis Edwin Chong and dedicated to Evon Christine Jessica Phua.” The Malay students did not use the given English names ( or Christian names) but anglicized it to Joe ( Johan ) Jeff ( Jaapar), Matt (Mamat) Emmy ( Aminah), Cathy ( Khadijah) . The boys who can sing the Frankie Avalon or Elvis Presley song may attract many girl fans!! At the class party, the boys or girls will form singing groups with fancy names (e.g. The Proboscis, The Breeze, and The Molecules) and sang English songs. Without comprehending the lyrics , the famous song “ Oh darling , I am but a fool” was sung confidently at the top of their voice as “Oh darling, I am a bloody fool”. The end of the year party was organized with the dance, the far apart dancing like the twist , cha cha in beat or off beat and joget lambak ( e.g. the Petronas Merdeka TV advertisement where the lead actor dances the twist in the school class party!!! What did he whisper to her….kalau menari twist kena tunduk kedepan , jangan tunduk kebelakang ..nanti jatuh lerrrr) It will end up with a tearful farewell English song the OLD AND SIGN (Tua dan Tanda) and only later to discover later that it is pronounced not as it is spelt - Auld Lang Syne.