Saturday, February 28, 2009

Penang War Museum


Visit war museum today together with daughter, SY and a group of students, for their school project.

War museum was opened in 2002, it is located at the South East of Penang Island, on the top of Bukit Batu Maung with area of 20 acre. This is Malaysia's first war museum.

The museum is actually original British military defence fortress built in 1930.

There are two underground complexes, which house the ammunition stores. The barracks, which houses British, Malay and Indian other ranks. There are also cookhouse.

The British expected Japanese attacked from the sea, but Japanese invaded from the land and within 6 days, Penang was taken over by them.

The Japanese invaded the fortress in late 1941, and turned it into an interrogation centre for POW.

The museum did not provide much on the Japanese occupation in Penang, I only found few photo by James Tait, on the bombing in Chulia Street, Penang. This happen to be the place where my grandpa was having a shop during the Japanese occupation, and it was bombed and destroyed. I do not know whether the shop bombed was grandpa's shop. But it did attract my attention. Personally I do not like war, even I like war movie. Two of my uncles passed away after returning from Siam-Burma Death Railway, and my grandpa died after Japanese war during WW2. No matter what is the justification for war, peace is better than war.


























































Friday, February 27, 2009

Khoo Kongsi - The clan house for Khoo family












Lorong Kulit - Penang







































































Lorong Kulit (The lane of the skin as translated from Malay), it is the place where you can shop for cheap fruits, local or imported. It is also the place you can search for the junk goods. If you are lucky, you may discover some priceless antique here.

Located near the City stadium, entry from a left side road off Dato Kramat Road, just opposite the Penang prison.

Adventist Hospital - the day I was admitted to hospital


God Heals, We help



Today(27-2-2009), I was discharged from Adventist Hospital, Penang. Thanks to the team of Dr Teh Aik Sang, Siew Ai, Melissa, Lee Yu Kheng and Robert.

This is first time after 54 years since birth( I was not born in hospital), that I was admitted to hospital. Friends said it is blessing that I went to medical check up prior to retirement. I normally dislike go for medical check up even the check up will be paid by the employer. But I have visit many hospitals in Penang, Kota Bharu, Kuantan, and Kuala Lumpur. The visits were for other family members or friends, sometime for a stranger who I do no know.

The most unforgotten event in my hospital visit was a visit to an Iban boy, who suffered from acute kidney failure. It happen in Kuantan. It is by chance that we met the parent who was asking for a place to buy chicken for their boy who refused to eat hospital food. It was late at night, and we have to help the parent searching for the food. We become friend because of the event, the child was very happy to have his chicken dinner. Looking at the boy's face, we feel very sad, despite his smile it was swollen, as the child was seriously ill. Weeks later, the child was discharged.But one day we received a call from the parent, that the boy has passed away after he re-admitted to the same hospital. They have no relative in Kuantan, we are their only new found friends, and the grandma of the boy who come all the way from the home village. We need to arrange for the funeral , with Pastor David Pitchai conduct the funeral, and sent the body back to their native land in Sarawak. It is touching and simple Christian funeral for the boy, and we are his only friends here, we have to make the best for the young boy. The departure cry of the parents and the grand mum, at the moment my tears dropped with theirs. This young boy is my new found friend and he has to leave so early. I know the boy will be having good time eating chicken in heaven. The tearful eyes of the parent and the grandmother after the funeral, the peaceful face of the child......... my heart go for the family, and still remember them, because they touch my heart. The boy was still young, and yet he has to leave.

The second incident was my own dad. He was admitted to hospital in Penang , after a fall due to the bone fracture. But was re-admitted after operation for internal problem, which we still not satisfied with the answer given by the said hospital. Dad was not ready to leave, and not expected to leave. Dad may have many things that he has not fulfilled or completed.

Another incident was my father in law, he was a heavy smoker. But lived until 85 years. He was admitted to a university hospital in Kota Bharu, Kelantan. I still remember when he was critical ill due to lung problem, and he was laying on the bed. Suddenly he wake up and searching for his bicycle, and he want to check the business account in his two shops. He used to cycle each morning to his two shops to check on the accounts. The last days of his life he still remember his business. His business is his life until the end.

The moment I admitted to hospital, pastor's wife was with me; wife was with me. The mind was in the prayer mood, the Psalm 23 was with me. I was naked when I admitted to operation room, It remind me of Garden of Eden, where human was naked before God. All is clear, we cannot not hide anything from the almighty. There is where we come in nakedness, we have to go back home in naked. We have no choice, God see everything in us. This is lesson that I learn, need to be prepared for the event. It is natural process; birth, aging, sick and death. It will come one day, are we ready for the day? May God help us to prepare for it.

The service of the hospital is good; especially the nursing staff. The registration and pharmacy staff are equally polite. I really enjoyed staying there, especially the smiling faces of these people and the information provided for each process taken really make you feel comfort. Despite the hospital is busy, the staff are still having the smiling faces, this is remarkable. This is unlike the other private hospitals in Penang.

May be it is because the hospital is managed by Adventist Church, a non-profit organization, which make the difference.

It was a blessing, that I am fine. Thanks to the doctors and the nursing staff, thanks to all church members who supported me in prayer. Thanks God for giving more time for me in this earth..........I will be thankful for each day that God give, I know that it will be a blessed days for each day I live. Each morning when I wake up, I will be thankful , thank God for giving me another new day and that ......... I am still alive for another beautiful day.

This is the first time I was admitted to a hospital ; it was also the first time I admitted to Adventist hospital( a friendly hospital), it was the first time I go for an operation; they said it is my blessing, as only after 54 years that I have my first visit recorded.

Life is still beautiful, isn't it?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ipoh City

I suppose to write something about Ipoh,
but lost all the photo I saved. May be the photo was not saved correctly. Sorry, all Ipoh friends, sorry LTC.

Anyhow, I ensure you, my friends, I have fond memory of Ipoh. Ipoh is a nice place, I still remember the first day I arrived in Ipoh, as usual I wake up early, and nothing to do in the hotel. I went round the old and new city alone, at that time it was 5 am, few shops were opened and just walked alone in the city. Along the Kinta River, into DR garden, it was dark but the air was fresh. It was wonderful experience to be alone early morning in Ipoh city. I am just a crazy man walking lonely in the city, searching for the past glory of Ipoh.

I love the heritage buildings in Ipoh, it remind me of Penang. I love to look at the building and admire its architecture. Old Ipoh is an attraction to me, just sip a glass of ice cold white coffee, inside the old colonial shop house, listening to the Cantonese voices, may be eating the Hor Fun and Dim Sum at the same time........... it is Ipoh's life.

Ipoh is famous for food. Unlike Penang which is famous for hawker food, Ipoh's restaurant is good. Penang is for Nyonya, Teowchew and Hokkian food, Ipoh is for Cantonese and Hakka food. This is mainly because the early Chinese who come to Ipoh are mainly Hakka and Cantonese tin miner. They have Hakka Mee in Ipoh,which is not found in Penang. Ipoh's Hor Fun, Tauge, Taukua, soya water are the best; but I once try the Char Koay Teow in Ipoh, using the Ipoh Hor Fun, it was too soft. You cannot fry Char Koay Teow with Ipoh's Hor Fun, it just not match.

The night in Ipoh city was quite, nothing exciting , except the place with the tauge chicken. Perhaps Greentown or Ipoh Garden and other residential areas. The city itself has lost its past glory. The Huge Low Street is no longer a busy street.The name has changed to Malay name, which I have forgotten.

The first visit to Ipoh was 1970. I stay in Ipoh at the army camp near the Japanese garden, it is 1970, just after LCE examination. On the way back from Port Dickson, following an army land rover together with uncle David(who was in the army) and a young army officer. They are on the way to Taiping. We stopped at Ipoh for the night. There were not much buildings at that time, only army camp and some bungalow houses. The place has now developed into residential areas.

The picture on the right is the Cowan Street, taken just beside Jubilee Park; another forgotten landmark of Ipoh. Jubilee Park was the place I spent my night when stopped for a night while hitch hiking to Kuala Lumpur in 1972 after MCE examination. It was once a famous entertainment hub in Ipoh, but now the area was quite without activities except a shop selling Mee Rebus, Ramli Mee Rebus.

Still remember staying in Anthony Tong's house in Ipoh in 1975 , a single terrace corner house located near the railway track, and also near Kinta River. The father was the Head of state election commission. The auntie's hospitality still linger in my memory, she is a kind lady and mother. I remember her. Unfortunately I cannot locate the place when I worked in Ipoh, but got to know that Loh also know this family.

It is difficult to find the old names of the city street if you had been in Ipoh long ago, all street names had changed. The Chinese will tell you the name in Cantonese; the old Ipoh guy will tell you the old street names in English(the old colonial street names); but the younger generation will tell you the new names in Malay. But if you give an old name or even the new Malay street name to a taxi driver, the chances that he may not know the place....... Why must we changed the street names?, Are we fearful of our colonial past? Are we lacking self confidence on our independence that we must erased completely all the colonial history? History is the truth, we cannot erased them. History is a valuable intangible assets, be it good or bad history, it is the thing that attract the tourists. The old names of the street will tell the history and story of the time, not the new name.

Ipoh is beautiful, peaceful and historical place, it is potential for tourism attraction if developed properly; but the recent political development has caused some anxiety to the city.

Ipoh is quietly waiting for its fate, waiting for a new state government?

What is its next destiny? Uncertainty.....Unknown at the moment.

I pray for Ipoh, and thankful for people who help to make my stay an enjoyable one. Especially LTC, Loh, Koo, Doss and all my office mates.

I missed you, folks......

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Retired- good bye to employer



Today 24-2-2009 is the day I officially retired from my employer of 30 years in Ipoh. I redeemed my freedom from the employment contract that I have given to the employer when I first joined the company. I am a free man today. There is no farewell for me today, as I do not like to said farewell for the day, it is the beginning of new phase of my life. It should be a celebration, not a sad farewell. It is the beginning, not the end. So why said farewell........

I still remember the first day I walked into the Bukit Mertajam branch of my employer in 1979. The employer was at that time, rank first in the market position of the industry. But the day I retired from the employment, the employer has slipped into 3rd ranking in the industry. It is sad to see that happen during my retiring time.

What is retirement?

The retirement is defined as withdrawal or disengagement from one's occupation, business or office or a career job. The career job is the position occupied by a worker for substantial portion of the working life with single employer or in a single setting. But some said that definition is for the past, the retirement as permanent separation from the work place is being replaced with new definition. Retirement is a permanent disengagement from the career job, and enter into a bridging period of semi-retirement. Not complete retirement. He may go for a bridge job.The act of retirement is now redefined as bridge retirement. Bridge retirement is the form of partial retirement in which a senior workers ( I do not like to use an older worker), alternate period of disengagement from the work place with periods of part time, temporary, occasionally and self employed engagement in work. It is the start of second career or the start of second education.It is a beginning, not the end. For more reading, there is an article from www.ericdigest.org on the new meaning of retirement.

It was a pleasant surprise that, Kim Ta come all the way to from Penang to Ipoh, to celebrate the event together with me , the day of new beginning, and the day of my new freedom. It is a joy to see him here in Ipoh..

Loh help me to transport my belonging to Penang. We also stopped at Taiping for a dinner with Teh, Chan, Draz and Sashi. We have a good time in Taiping, talking about the new development in the state politic. By the way it was surprise to know that the coffee shop we have dinner is owned by Miss Koo's parent, what a coincident.

Ipoh is the state capital of Perak. The name Ipoh come from a local tree, pohon epu or pokok ipoh. It was formerly know as Paloh by Chinese. Ipoh is referred to old town & new town, which was divided by the Kinta River at the heart of Ipoh. I retired at Ipoh, which I worked for past 4 years(in New town), it will be a sweet memory for me and a special way to remember Ipoh.

Taiping, the city of everlasting peace. It is the wetest town in Malaysia. On the day of retirement, I passed through the town, and have dinner there- city of everlasting peace. It reflected that my retirement will be an everlasting peace. Life will be beautiful after retirement. Initially there will be period of adjustment and re-adjustment, but it is all part of life process, I need to learn how to face new challenge in my retirement.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Penang & Pinang Tree


The Pinang fruits or Betel Nuts



Pinang, the Malay word for a species of palm commonly called Betel Nut Palm or biologically it is called Areca catechu. It is commonly grow in tropical Pacific Asia and part of Africa. The Pinang tree is medium size palm tree, growing in about 20m tall, with a thin trunk. The fruit or betel nut is red orange in colour.

The betel nut is popular with the Taiwan, Malaysia, and India people, they always chewed the fruit(betel nut) with the betel leaves ( a leaf from a vine of Piperaceae family, some even mixed with white kapok. The Penang and Malacca nyonya chewed betel nut as their past time. The Taiwanese even has stalls selling betel nuts along the highway. Sometime beautiful young girls are employed as promoter to attract the highway customers. They called the female promotor, Pinang Xi Shi. The betel nut or areca nut contained alkaloids such as arecaine & arecoline( a stimulant that color the teeth and the mouth red when chewed), which when chewed is intoxicating and is additive. Medically it is used to treated intestinal worms.


The Pinang tree on the left was found in the junction between Brown Road and Burma Road, Penang. It is the state symbol of the Penang state. It is difficult to see Pinang tree in Penang now. There was call by Penang people to plant more Pinang trees in Penang.

Penang, a state of Malaysia, is located at northwest coast of Malaya Peninsular, by the Strait of Malacca. Penang was given to British East India Company in 1786 by Sultan of Kedah,in exchange for protection against the Siamese and Burmese. Some books said that the island was found by Captain Francis Light(1740-1794) on 11-8-1786. But I personally not agreed with the view, Penang is known as Pulau Pinang(Island of Betel Nuts) by the locals. It was renamed Prince of Wales Island by British.

Penang has been called Pulau Ka-Satu(First Island) by early Malay, and Binlang Yu(檳榔嶼 ) by Admiral Zheng He of Ming dynasty during his expeditions to the South Sea in 15th Century. How can Penang was found by Captain Francis Light?.It was either found by the earlier Malay, or may be by earlier Chinese.

When Francis Light landed in the island, there were reported 58 fishermen, including 3 Hakka chinese in the island who came in 1745, earlier than Capt Francis Light by 41 years (note: The three Hakka was known as Tua Pek Kong by Penang Chinese, there is a temple in Tanjong Tokong in remembrance of them). The others must be some Malay. It was also reported that when Captain Francis Light landed in the island on 17-7-1786, there was a Captain China Koh Lay Huan(吉打华人甲必丹的辜礼欢)from Kedah visited him, come all the way from Kuala Kedah together with some Indian Christian. Captain Francis Light only claimed Penang Island for the British empire, and did not found Penang; he can only said to have found Georgetown & not Penang.

Note: One of the founder of Adelaide, Australia was Colonel William Light(1786-1839), son of Capt Francis Light, born in Kuala Kedah, Siam(now Kedah, Malaysia)



The capital of Penang is Georgetown. In 1826, Penang , together with Malacca and Singapore become part of The Strait Settlement under British administration from India, but in 1867, the Strait Settlement was under direct rule from Britain as crown colony. In 1946 (1-4-1946) , Penang become part of Malayan Union, and on 1-2-1948, part of Federation of Malaya. The Federation of Malaya become independent from British rule on 31-8-1957. All Penangites become Malaysia citizen by operation of law. On 16-9- 1963, Northern Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaya and formed Malaysia.

The Penang state now consists of Penang island and Province Wellesley (or Seberang Perai in Malay). The state flag of Penang state consists of 3 colours, blue on the left and yellow on the right, and at the middle of the state flag is a Pinang Tree with white background.

The island was a free port until 1969. Despite the loss of free port status to Pulau Langkawi, the state become an industrialised state, it build up one of the largest electronic industry base in South East Asia under the former Chief Minister,Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu. The industry was in the free trade zone in Bayan Lepas, near the Penang airport located at the south of the island.

Penang was declared as UNESCO World Heritage site on 7-7-2008.

Penang should plant more Pinang trees, and hope to see more betel nut used as brand names, symbol, in art and in every circle of Penang's daily life. This is to reflect the true identity of Pulau Pinang, Island of betel nut.

Penang, Pulau Pinang; the island of betel nut......... Maju lah.

Is security in Klang valley OK?

This is the story from a blog of known party ,which the writer personally experienced the robbery. The story is real, and it happen each days in our daily environment. I experienced it in KL, robbery by six malay robbers during Hari Raya Haji at LRT station in 2006. It is still a nightmare to me, and has little trust now on the security condition in the Klang valley, I try not going to Klang valley if I can avoid. I used to be very familiar in KL, and come often to shop for books and visit friends, but the fear of facing the same experience and inconvenience caused after the event, really make me think twice, and avoid visit KL. My sons had experienced it,my friends had experienced it.........who else has no such experience in Klang valley?

Daylight Robbery in 61 (Petaling Jaya)

It was an exciting moment of thrill and adrenaline rush throughout my body. I feel a lot alive compare to the few days before. I felt the basic instinct of surviving, I felt I was alive.

It happen a few hours ago...
(Well, before I tell you the story, let's have a glimpse at what happen long long time ago... this post : The Day I was Afraid)

All this happen around 1pm, 17 Feb 2009, yeah it is today...

Lance was back from paying the bills, waiting for me downstairs. I was making myself ready at the 2nd floor to tapau all my rubbish to move to his house. Then suddenly, I heard some people coming in our house, I realise something is going wrong and run down and saw 2 malay guys wearing helmet asking, "Mana XXX? Dia tinggal sini, panggil dia." The moment I heard this, I sense that something is wrong, so I stop one of the big guy from going up to the 2nd floor. He was wearing a blue jeans,white collar shirt and a silver helmet. The moment I try to stop him from moving, he took his "parang" out.

You know la, when psychotic people like me saw a parang, sure I will run back to my room. I locked myself in my room and started shouting "Tolong!". I don't know why I shout in malay, maybe because they were Malays??? Straight after I shout, the door was break and the "parang" is in front of me. I dunno why, but he ran down back to where Lance is.

At that moment, my mind only focus on running. So where's the best place to run? Definitely the balcony, which I will jump if they try to hurt me. So I quickly take the keys hanging beside me and open the balcony's door and stay outside the fence of the balcony (I forgot to lock it, damn.) . I took off my shirt and wave to anyone that I saw. Only my neighbour reponse to my help, other people was just passing by. ( What a sad scenario...) I use my body language and movement of my lips to tell her that I was robbed. She ask her maid to call the police.

Right after that, the big guy come and look for me. Shit, the "parang" still in his hand. I know I have to surrender. So I let him search my pockets, and luckily I hide my stuff under my bed but unfortunately, my phone is in my pocket T_T. He took my phone and run down to the living room. I don't know what they are doing there, but a moment later, I saw a bike with 2 person on it, speeding out from our house.

That was the time when my rational mind come back to me, I ran down and grab the phone that the neighbour hand it to me and contact the police.

Description of the Suspect :
First Suspect - Around 30 year old Malay male, 175cm, Bigger size than me. wearing blue jeans ,white collar shirt and wearing silver helmet when they robbed us.
Second Suspect - Malay male with unclear age. He was wearing orange chocolate stripes shirt.
Both Suspect was suspect to take drugs before they rob us.
They was riding on a bike with plate WBQ 8841.

The ronda police came 5mins after the event took place. I'm glad the police did their job. Those are not normal police, they are armed police. I feel like I'm in a police movie. Anyway, we did our job by reporting to the new section 17 Police Department near the nasi kandar there. ( Reminder: We must always make a report no matter how inconvinience it is to do those report.) We were ask to go to the cirminal police departmeent at mutiara damansara to be interviewed by Inspector Kalang. Handsome man with a good manner. It was a total different experience from what I had in Rawang. The police in Rawang was rude! We finish our questioning and we heard back for home. The police was there to take photos and look at the surrounding. One weird part of it was, why are they asking me about the price of the rental and house??? The 1st police until the last police ask the same question.


The end of my story and my experience.

Please remember this number plate WBQ 8841 and take a photo of the driver and mail it to me. Please, your cooperation will definitely improve PJ's calm and peaceful environment :D.

After the robbery, lance and me discussed on the factors that cause this robbery.
1. We didn't LOCK our DOORS!
2. NO CURTAINS blocking their view inside the house
3. They realize we are moving house. Rubbish all outside the house.
4. Lastly, it was lance 1st time, he is still a virgin. :D He was robbed of his virginity and dignity in surprise :D.

Viewing from a psychological aspect, there is a few factors that save and delay us from harm.
1. The moment we sense danger, seek for safety and help. An example for my experience is that I run upstairs and lock myself in the room. While in the room, I shout as loud as I can for help. That anyhow, alert the dogs and my neighbour.
2. Seek for open space or places that normally public can see. Well, I think I did that pretty well. I ran to the balcony and wave my shirt for help again. And that was a critical move, it cause the robber to hesistate stabbing me in open air. It was also the time where my neighbour saw me. A mistake is that I didn't lock the balcony door. Ish!
3. Our house is too messy to really find anything valuable. HAHA, I have to say, making ourselves a mess actually helps.:D
4. Hide your belongings in places that is totally unpredictable. I hide it under my bed.

There's always something disspointing in tragedy like this, here's one.
Never ever just stop and ignore shouts that come out suddenly. Those are critical moments where crime was happening. Don't be idle, be alert and look for the source. You might actually save a life from being curious and brave. That's what nowadays people lack of, being curious.
Another thing is that people seems to critize on the event that is happening and ignore the feelings and emotion of the victim. Those people are people I call them 马后炮. They only help to make you more troublesome and making you feeling down after what had happen. I pity lance, cause he gonna go through that later tonight.

A bit of information.

----

A forwarded email.

Subject: Rise In Crime Rate In Klang Valley
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2003

Dear Ladies & Gentlemen

Key this number into your handphones! Please be careful!
Some good advises for the prevention of crime.
The telephone number 03-22626555 is to Bukit Aman!
Hotline Wilayah Police: 03-20520199


It was brought to our attention by the city police that
there has been a 7% rise in crime rate in Klang Valley (Kuala
Lumpur) over the weeks.

These crimes are mainly Bag Snatching, House Break-Ins, Car Thefts
and etc. By far Bag Snatching has been the one with the biggest
increase and police is advising especially ladies to avoid walking
about with hand bags if possible.

During the meeting it was also brought to our attention that the
emergency number 999 is at times not well manned so calls can go
unanswered. This happened recently when the German Ambassador tried
calling 999 when his house was broken into and could not reach
police
in time to avoid the robbery. Police now have a control centre
telephone number and everyone should be able to call in case of
emergency. The number is 03 2262 6555. Please keep this number handy
and educate your family members on this.

Please find below some tip on Bag Snatching.

Bag snatching.
Never carry a handbag, but instead try a backpack style worn
correctly or a 'bum bag'. Do not carry anything in your bag you
cannot afford to lose. Be particularly mindful of your bag when you
are on your hand phone, loading the car, getting in and out of a
taxi
in a crowded area or if motorbikes are coming past you. To help
prevent snatch thieves taking your phone, switch it to vibrate, keep
it in your pocket and use a hands free set while walking ? If they
can't see or hear it, its less likely to attract attention. Walk
away
from the kerb edge, not along the side of the road.

Mugging.
Be suspicious if you get a puncture after leaving a bank or ATM. It
is possible that someone saw you withdraw the cash and placed the
nail in your tyre so they could grab it as they offer to help you
change your wheel. Be suspicious of people offering to help you into
your car with shopping etc. It's easy for them to snatch a bag when
you are occupied with kids or bags.


Sexual assaults/Improper advances.
With an assault, scream, shout, fight, run? Do whatever is.
Necessary to attract attention to yourself and get out of the area
fast. It goes without saying that most attacks of this type tend to
happen in isolated, dark or empty places ? Avoid such places if
alone
and make sure that you have your hand phone available ? If you are
unhappy, start making calls, describing the man/ the taxi driver,
registration number, location, anything that will put the attacker
off before hand. With improper advances; most offences of this type
tend to happen in public, and in crowded places; particularly on
buses and in trains. The best way to deal with this is SHOUT,
directly at the offender or in his general direction and tell him,
in
no uncertain terms that you do NOT want him to touch you. Don't get
off at the next station, unless its your stop and there's people
with
you. If its in the workplace? Report it immediately.


Emergency Numbers

Police & Ambulance 999
Fire Brigade 994
Civil Defense 991

Police Stations
Kuala Lumpur - HQ 2262-6222
Selangor 5510-5522
Shah Alam 5510-2222
Petaling Jaya 7956-2222
Subang Jaya 5633-2222
KLIA Police 8787-2222
Dang Wangi 2691-2222
Brickfields 2274-4465
Cheras 984-2222
Ampang 4252-2222
Klang 3371-2222
Damansara 7722-2222
Puchong 8075-2222
Subang SAAS Airport Police 740-2299

Fire Brigade
Kuala Lumpur 2148-6362
Petaling Jaya 7958-5870, 7958-4444
Shah Alam 5519-4444
Traffic Offence Hotline 232-1140

Taken from Palmdoc's page of useful Malaysian info for your PDA
http://medicine.com.my/palmdoc


Phew, things go so fast that I almost forget, I still need to clean up my house! Yeah I'm finally back to myself. Dang, I didn't know an event like this actually pump my motivation to do something. :D

The experience of the writer remind us to be careful when moving inside Klang valley, & even if you are staying at home, still take the precaution.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Kinship

Kinship is defined as relationship between any entities that share a genealogical origin,either biological, cultural or historical descent.

Relatives are the the people that related to us by biological relationship e.g. family, both by descent and marriage. There are other form of kinship without being biologically related. A descent group is a social group whose members claim common ancestry. Some accept matrilineal descent( can be from mother), other accept only partilineal descent(only from father). These are unilineal, but there are society which accept bilaterally descent or bilineal, both from father and mother.

A lineage is descent group that can demonstrate their common descent from a known apical ancestor. A clan is a descent group that claims common descent from an apical ancestor, but often cannot demonstrate it. Some hill tribes have their clan's apical ancestor from non-human.

Kinship is one of the most basic principles for organizing individual into social groups, whatever the relationship.

Malaysian Chinese have strong clan relationship during the pre- Merdeka days; especially when they just arrived from China to the Nanyang. The clan houses were established to take care of the people with same surnames and ancestral home. Clan house for the same surnames, including Khoo kongsi (邱公司)which is reputable clan house in Penang build in 1906. Khoo Kongsi is the clan house for kinsman from Sin Kang clan village, Hokkien Province, China. These clan houses will provide social activities for the members of the same surname , and provide aids in case of needs. It is a place where the people of same surnames gather together to perform their cultural activities and ancestor worship.

The clan house based on ancestral location, like Taipu Association, Teochiew Association. Their members are of different surnames, but with their ancestral home from the same location in China. Like Taipu Association, the members may be from Lam,Yong, Xiao, Tan etc. But due to the people are from the same location, they normally speak the same dialect. The type of clan house also can be divided into those from the same village town , district to the same Province. The clanhouse from the same village are Chayang, Choayang, etc; clanhouse for the district are Taipu, Teochiew etc. Penang Teo Chew Association(潮州會館) is a typical example, formed in 1855, and where a beautiful Han Jiang Ancestral Temple was constructed. The clanhouse has won the 2006 award from Unesco for Cultural Heritage Conservation. Clanhouses for the Province are Kwongtung association, Hubei Association etc

These clanhouses played significant role in the history of Malaysian Chinese. But sad to say the support of younger generation for the clan house are lacking today. Some generation do not known where their ancestor come from. Some not able to speak their ancestor' s dialect, including myself, because their parent are either do no know the dialect or they did not teach the younger generation. Some may fell to the trap of the colonial education policies implemented, and only speak English as their social language. We are worried that one day the younger generation will become ABC Chinese, and followed the fate of Ahom people, and lost their roots.

When I was in secondary school, I followed closely on the TV series " Roots", where it told the story of an American negro searching for his ancestral home. It was a touching story and had great impact to my life. I like to read books on the stories of people who take their journey to their ancestral home.....

I still remember after my MCE examination, I hitch hiking to Singapore to meet my auntie, who I have never meet before. The re-union and the feeling of getting to know some one related to you, talk about ; but never meet. We have strong relationship after that despite living in two countries, and we do not often meet.

Another one is the recent trip to the ancestral home of my wife, and my mum, Taipu. I bought along my children, as I want them to know how is life in their beloved grandpa, grandma and great grandma's homeland. We stayed there for sometime, and walking the path that they once walk; looking at the house they once stayed; and eating the food they loved. It was a living history lesson for the younger generation. It also solved the missing puzzle of my life. I have been to many places, near and far; but never to the ancestral home. Another reason for the trip, and the main reason is to visit grandma's birth place,my 99 years old grandma, who long to visit her house again. The journey taken on behalf of her, bringing the memory of her to reality.

The only disappointment was, I did not locate my own (paternal) ancestral home even I have been to Chaoyang, Teocheow (潮州)......I still having my own missing puzzle.....the only consolation was I have seen the Han Chiang (Han River韩江), the mother river of both Hakka (upstream) and Teochew (downstream).The Hakka and Teochew drank the water from the same river for generations. This is the river, where my parternal and maternal ancestor were from the land beside the river. My ancestor drank from the same river, Han Chiang is my mother river.

Prior to the trip, there were many negative feedback from the relatives; some against and question why. But after our trips, there are many trips make by families and friends. We started a new trends among the friends and relatives.

Talking about ancestor, which lineage should we follow? Chinese believed in paternal lineage; and yet the most influential person in our life is normally our mother. Some of us know our mother's dialect but do not now father's dialect, who are we? There are trend in China ,mainly due to their one child policy, they are accepting maternal lineage into their ancestor book, which was forbidden in the past. At least there are sex equality in China!

I am a teochiew, but speak hakka all my life. Who am I ? My mum is Hakka(my maternal grandma is also Hakka) , my paternal grandma is hakka (my father is half hakka), my wife is hakka, I am 75% hakka, then who am I? My children will be more than 75% hakka?. The issue is common in Malaysia, as there are mixed marriage among Chinese from different dialects background. Yet I am not allow to join Hakka Association.

Even some clan house in Malaysia do not allow married woman to join her paternal ancestral clanhouse, she has to follow her husband.

How about kinsman with different religion?

There should be re look on the clan house and its social function to attract the younger generation, for the survival of the clan house, for the survival of the culture........

Friday, February 20, 2009

Nanking Massacre & other genocides

On April 1975, the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot, took power in Phnom Penh. They emptied Cambodia's cities in a bid to forge an utopia. Up to 2 million people died of starvation, overwork or were executed by the regime. The newspaper reported that there will be a trial in March 2009 on Duch or Kaing Guek Eav, the teacher turned torturer of killing field.

From the news, it remind me of the Nanking Massacre or the Rape of Nanking(1937-1938), and the documentary film I watched recently. There were 300,000 deaths by the Japanese armies.

Another incident of genocide, the Holocaust. The Holocaust was the genocide of six million European Jews , by the Nazi during the Second World War(1939-1945).

In 2005, Iran's President Mahmood Ahmadinejad reported saying that Nazi Holocaust was a myth used as a pretext for carving out a Jewish state in the heart of the Muslim world. On several occasions since then, he has cast doubt on the genocide. Recently on 21-2-2009, former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder visited Iran, he told Teheran that Holocaust, the slaughter of 6 million Jews during WW2 is a historical fact. A strong affirmation from a German leader should put to rest any doubt on Holocaust by the Iran President and any other persons. Schroeder said " It does not make any sense to deny this unparalleled crime for which Adolf Hitler is responsible"(source: The Star 23-2-2009).

Some right wings Japanese still deny their past involvement in Nanking Massacre, unlike the German who had admitted their past war crime during the 2nd world war and their involvement in the Holocaust. The action by the German is respectable. Genocide History is the truth, where many had died, many survivals told the stories personally; no one can erase the painful history from the memory of people. Whether from the Jews, Cambodian, Chinese, or any other people. The acceptance of the fact and admission by the state, provide an avenue for the victims and their families for forgiveness and psychological peace in their life.

Related articles/websites:

1. Nanking 1937, Princeton University website: http://www.princeton.edu/~nanking/html/main.html
2. Iris Chang, http://www.irischang.net/(One of history’s worst atrocities might have remained little more than a footnote had it not been for Iris Chang).
3. http://www.leekianseng.com/seJapaneseHistoryMuseum.htm

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Ahom people in Assam, North East India

Just wonder what Tai people of Shanland was doing in North East India? How the Tai people moved from Yunnan to Burma, and then to North East India.

There are 2 million of Tai origin lived in North East India. Ahoms, a very small group of Tai people who came into Assam in the early 13 th century, 9,000 of the Shan of Mong Mao(mostly men) fought their way to Brahmaputra valley in 1228. They were following a prince, Sukaphaa. They spoke Tai language and followed their traditional religion of Buddhist. But after the first generation, the Ahom mixed marriage with local people, Borahi ( a tibeto-Burman ethnic group) & Moran, they adopted the Assamese language, and its kings and high officials converted to Hinduism. Prince Sukaphaa established its first state in 1253. The Ahom people kept good records of the past in their chronicles, called Buranjis. Ahom is the largest group of Tai group in India, settled mainly in Assam.

There are also other groups of Tai people; Khamti, Phake, Aiton, Turung, Khamyang , who came to the valley at the later periods than Ahom and made their settlement in various places of Assam and Arunanchal Pradesh.

The Burmese occupied the state in 19th century, then the Burmese was defeated in the 1st Aglo-Burmese War in 1826, and the Britain controlled the state under Treaty of Yandanoo signed on 24-2-1826. The treaty resulted in the end of Ahom rule for 600 years( from 1228-1826 AD).

The discovery of Tai language buranjis led the colonial administrators to conclude that a ‘foreign’ group had migrated from the hills of Burma into Assam, established an Ahom kingdom, and used the buranji literature to record their history and culture. Immediately after declaring them an ethnic group, the colonials made the Ahoms ‘unthinkable’ by proclaiming them ‘dead’.The colonials classified the Ahom community as dead community, and identified them based on language under Assamese (source: Tha Tai - Ahom Connection by Yasmin Saikia in the journal Gateway to the East, June 2005)

The Tai Ahom are unable to communicate in a Tai language. Because of influence of Indian and Bengali culture,the Tai Ahom use the Bengali,Hindi and Assamese languages in their daily lives and completely forgotten the Tai language( pg 118, Inheriting Tai Ethnic Culture- A spiritial Bond: Bhramaputra River Basin, Bunyong Gettet). But Tai Khamti, Tai Pake , however still speak Tai language. The identity struggle of Ahom to identify with Tai group based on their history and culture, will be a difficult journey as they have lost the language in their daily usage , only used them in religion fuction, and only by priests. But it is still in positive direction.

A book which is interesting for the people who want to know more about Ahom people is the book named " Fragment Histories: Struggling to be Tai-Ahom" published by Duke University Press in 2004. The book can be order from Amazon.com. The writer, Yasmin Saikia is Assistant professor of Histor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is Assamese herself.

The history of Ahom, and Ahom's identity struggle, remind us to preserve our own identity and love our own language. This is a strong reminder to us that race can be disappeared, language can be lost if we do not protect our heritage.

Shan People(Tai) 傣族;

The Shan people(掸族) are the Tai tribal group (傣族).They are the distant cousin of Thai(Thailand), Lao(Laos)& Dai (China). There are over 100 million Tai in China, mainly in Southern Yunnan, Sipsongpanna (西双版纳) China. There are also Tai people in Assam state, the north east of India, they are called Ahom, they are now Hindu.

They are believed to migrated from Yunan, China. Shan are descandants of oldest branch of the Tai tribe, they are called Tai Long(great Tai) or Tai Yai(or big Tai). The Tai who migrated to the South in modern days Thailand and Laos are called Tai Nyai. Those inhabited in the Northern part of Thailand and Laos are Tai Noi(or little Tai).The Shan has been in the Shan Plateau, Burma since 10th century AD. The name Shan come from Burmese,which meants Siam,the name ancient Khmer called the Tai or Thai people. Most of the Shan in Burma lived in Shanland.

The people live in Shanland are multi racial,the majority of the Shan are Tai, of the same ethnological stock with Thais and Laotian. The other included Wa, Pa-o, Palaung of Mon-Khemer stock,and Kachin, Akha, Lahu of Tibeto-Burman stock. There are some Yunan Chinese living in the area.

After the World War II, the Shan, Kachin,Chin and the other ethnic minority leaders signed an agreement with the majority Bamar leader at the Panglong Conference彬龙会议, agreed for the independence from the Britain. The agreement is known as Panglong Agreement(彬龙协议)The Shan state were given the option of secede, after 10 years of independence. The Shan state become the Shan State, part of the new Union of Myanmar in 1948. The capital is Taunggyi. The democratically elected government was overthrown by General Ne Win in 1962.The Shan begin the civil war with the Burma. There are two insurgent forces operated in the Shan state, SSNA and SSA/RCSS. In 2005, SSNA surrender to the Burmaese army.SSA/RCSS still continue the guerrilla warfare with the Burmese armies.

There is United Wa State Army(UWSA), of Wa minority, their 20,000 armies controlled the Special Region No2, including the town of Pangshang, Monk Pawk. The UWSA is currently backing the Burma armies against Shan State Army-South(SSA-S).

There are actual war in the Shan states, Burma. There are 500,000 internally displaced people(IDP) in Burma, most of them are Karen, Karenni, Mon and Shan, and other minority groups. Many Burmese IDP cross the border and come to Northern Thailand. There are many illegal border crossing point along the Burma-Thai border,especially in the mountain. They are not given the refugee status. There are 10 Burmese Border Refugee site or camp in Thailand, feeding 134,942 refugee as at November 2008. The largest being in Tak Province(3 sites, K3,K4 K5)and Ban Hong Son Province(4 sites). The site in Chiangmai Province,Waeng Haeng site is the smallest , mainly Shan people, located just near the Piang Luang village town, about 1 1/2km from the border. There are only 656 refugee as at 31-12-2009(source: www.unhcr.org). These are official statistic, there are many illegal crossing not recorded by UNHCR, reported there were 2 million workers in Thailand.

From a hill in Piang Luang village, you can see the Burma military outpost on the top of the hills that straddle the border. The hill tops arecontrolled by various players, UWSA(United Wa State Army), The Shan State Army(SSA), Burmese Army, as well as Thai Army.

If you are interested in Shan people, there are many web sites on Shan, Shanland, Burma refugee issues. But they are mostly politically centered. There are articles in You Tubes , which are easy to find.

Each day, the Shan will continue crossing the border from Burma into Thailand; the war still continue, the Shan people are still waiting.....

I remember you,my little friends.


Shan people of Tai tribe

The children of the Shan people or Tai (傣族). My good friends during my stay in Piang Luang. The group of Shan boys staying in the neighbourhood houses, near the place we stayed. They will come and played football with us each evening. We enjoyed the simple game, and each others even we cannot communicate with them as they spoke only Thai and Shan language. They are active and friendly. The game are filled with laughter, and the way they played look like a professional, serious with commitment.

Their laughter, their smile, and the reflection of their face when we left........

We will always remember them, as a bond of friendship has established with these little village boys.

Good memories.......



Piang Luang( เปียงหลวง)邊龍村

Beautiful Yunan chinese girl
My little friend that played football with us every evening. He is a Shan boy.
The Lemang alike of tribal people,bamboo filled with black glutinous rice
The flower remind us that Christmas is coming
The harvest season of paddy is over, but galic season is still on.
The village path to Hui Hai village
The school children coming back from Thai school, walking in the town wearing their school uniform.
The Shan people
Another view of the town from the higher ground
The view from the higher part of the town
The drying of vegetables and lobak(white carrot), a common sight for the village houses.
The school block donated by Teressa Teng Foundation(Foundation set up in memory of famous Taiwanese singer, Teressa Teng). We took the picture at night while visiting the Chinese school. The school is only opened at night, as the students only able to come at night, in the morning they attend Thai school.
We take a rest at the road side ,this is the view from one resting point at the high mountain road
The locals said they have pink Sakura flower in Piang Luang. The flowers are still in the closet, but after we left the place, it was reported in the newspaper that the flowers has blossom.
On the way to Piang Luang from Chiang Dao, Chiang Rai. It was hours of winding road

Piang Luang( เปียงหลวง)邊龍村

Today, I remember my friends in Piang Luang, a border village town in Northern Thailand. Their simple and peaceful life style still linger in my memory. I spent an eventful Christmas there last year,2008.

Piang Luang( 邊龍) is located at the border of Burma and Thailand. The meaning of Piang Luang is great plain. It is located at the Wiang Haeng district(孟幸縣)(Thai: เวียงแหง) in the northern part of Chiang Mai Province(清邁省), At the other side of the border is the Shanland of Burma. There is one official crossing to Burma, but there are many unofficial mountain crossing to Burma, and many has closed, and filled with bobby traps and land mines. There are 3 subdistricts or tambons. They are Mueang Haeng(เมืองแหง), Saen Hai (แสนไห)and Piang Luang(เปียงหลวง). There are total 26 mubans or villages in the district. The neighbouring districts are Chiang Dao, a famous tourist location due to the hill of Doi Dao; and Pai of Mae Hong Soon Province.

The area is the home of many hill tribes, including the Shan, Lahu, Lishu and other hill tribal people. The majority in Piang Luang is Shan tribe, local and refugee from the neighbouring Burma. There are also large number of Yunan Chinese, who are the descendant of the Kuomintang army. The Shan people is fighting a war with the Burmese, every Shan believed that under the Piang Luang Agreement, that Shanland is an independent nation.

The town is mainly agricultural based. Their products including galic, rice, coffee, lyechee, mango, pipeapple, papaya, potato, yam and tea. Most of the young people left the village town and work in Chiang Mai(for those who are not citizen but having PR), Bangkok, or work oversea in Japan, Taiwan, Singapore or even Malaysia.

There are school provided by the Thai government, but for the children of refugee, who are illegal resident without official identification,they cannot go to government school. The Yunan Chinese are much better, as there is a Chinese school 邊龍光華中學 ( from primary to secondary) in the town, which followed the Taiwan education system. The Chinese children who are schooling in the Thai school in the morning will attend the Chinese scool at night. There are 827 students. The Chinese school are privately run by the local Chinese, sponsored by donation, mainly by donation from Taiwan. Teressa Teng Foundation (鄧君)donated a school block to the school, and a Taiwanese Catholic group(Ming Ai Hui明愛會) is closely helping financially and in training of the teachers. The school is the 3rd largest Chinese school in Chiangmai Province. We are amazed with the local students, they need to attend Thai school in the morning, and also attend the Chinese school at night. The Yunan Chinese love their Chinese heritage and language.

There are other NGO helping in the education of hill people and refugee. Their children also can attend the Chinese school.

For the Yunan Chinese, the war is over long ago, but they are facing some social-political problem on their citizen identity and the restriction on them to travel out from the province, except for those who are having citizenship of Thailand. Some of them are also refugee from Burma, without identification. There are 3 categories of people, (i) citizen of Thailand,who are free to travel in Thailand, and can applied passport to oversea, they are normally Yunan Chinese and tribal people who are descendants of the Taiwanese army (ii) Refugee status, mainly for those who are in Thailand for more than 20 years, they can travelled within Chiangmai province; but cannot go to Bangkok and other area of Thailand, & (iii) Stateless or people with no status, who are restricted to stay only in the village, and cannot move out of the village town.

There are many stories in Piang Luang, every resident, young or old, have great story to tell. The story of their village, their parents, their schools, their family, the war, the drug trade......there is no ending story despite this village town is peaceful and located within the mountains.