Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sorry la Man United fans (5)

Things were rather quite at office today. I guess many were mourning Man United's loss to beautiful Barca.

But to me the defeat was only to be expected. After all, if Liverpool (which only reached the quarter-finals of CL) could thrash Man United 4 - 1 (at Old Trafford, some more ma...) then surely Barca could finish the job off far more easily.

The blank stare on Ferguson's face says it all. Man United just lost the plot this time.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ipoh 'revisited'

The grand Padang Ipoh

Ipoh Town Hall building

St Michael's Institution

I had the chance to spend the early part of this week in my hometown, Ipoh, to attend a budget review retreat.

Staying and working in KL, it is not very often that I get the opportunity to be in Ipoh during weekdays. Usually, when I go back to visit Emak, I would set off from KL early Saturday mornings. Then by the Sunday afternoon it’s a rush back to KL.

The three days I spent there this time gave me the chance to see Ipoh a bit more and reminisce about old times. The times spent there during childhood.

You know, I may be biased (obviously) but seriously I think Ipoh is the best city in Malaysia to stay in. Ipoh still has that laid-back and relaxed atmosphere. It has lots of greeneries – the biggest parks being the Taman D.R. Seenivasagam (or the Coronation Park as it was originally known as) and of course the Padang Ipoh (with a field that is so green and well kept till today). The traffic is still manageable. The locals are still friendly enough and have time to spare to chat with strangers. And I should add that the streets are clean and tidy, too.

Ipoh has a great history. Located right smack in the middle of tin-rich valley of the Kinta River, it was a town that tin built, so to speak. So much so that during the British Colonial era, Ipoh was the second city of Malaysia. Many rich and famous (mainly rich) must have rode their gleaming British-built cars up and down its grid-iron laid-out roads in those days.

Up until a few years ago, if you were to arrive into Ipoh from the south (from KL direction) via the Federal Highway Route 1, as you approach its outskirt (just before reaching Sungei Rokam/Sungai Raya) you would have noticed a very big, three-pointed Mercedes Benz star atop a limestone hill from afar.

There you have it…the ultimate status symbol of Ipoh.

The city boasts some awesome buildings and architecture from the colonial period which further adds to its grand stature and ambience. These include the magnificent St Michael's Institution, the Ipoh Railway Station, and the Ipoh Town Hall.

Perhaps a special mention is in order also for the not-so-grand but equally significant Masjid India. For this is where I used to visit quite a number of times with my Tok Hussein for prayers. I really looked forward to such trips. Why? Because after prayers To Hussein never missed to treat me to the nice, tasty cendol at the mamak cendol’s kiosk just across the road from the mosque, in front of the Padang Ipoh.

Things haven’t changed much in Ipoh from the 1980s. Not even from the 1970s, I would say.
Sure some new buildings have sprung up here and there. Road systems have been changed a bit (more one way streets now). Some roads have been renamed too, including Ashby Road, where my alma mater (Sek Ren Jenis Kebangsaan Ashby Road) was located. But otherwise, it’s more or less the same old Ipoh as aptly captured by Lat (a local boy himself) in his comics.

Aahh, Ipoh…what a great place to retire, eh?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Towards a cycling family

Pelicans at Putrajaya Wetland

Syafiq (the tall one on the right) listening to comments on his recently-acquired bike

The whole gang's bicycles lined up outside a restaurant as we enjoyed our after-ride drink

This morning I left home for my weekend cycling a little earlier than usual - at 7.00am to be precise. But this time I wasn't alone. I was accompanied by my son Ahmad Syafiq.

More than a year after taking up cycling - and enjoying it thoroughly - I'd always wanted my family to join me in discovering the joys of cycling and experience the health benefits it affords. However budget constraints have hindered this from happening much earlier.

My early outing today was to pick up a mountain bike at Kolonel Azudin's place so that Syafiq could join me in our group's ride at Putrajaya Wetland.

Once we had gotten the bike, we drove with it straight away to our start-off point for today's ride. I had wanted Syafiq to give it a try before we set off for the long ride that was to come. I must admit to being slightly worried that he might not feel comfortable with the bike. If so, then may ambition of him in joining me in future rides would be in tatters.

To my relieve, he took to riding it like a duck to water.

So once the whole gang had gathered, off we went on an off-road 24km ride within the wetland. How delighted it was to see Syafiq enjoying it all along. And for a first timer, there wasn't trace of tiredness and fatigue - except for a complaint on sore butt. Which is to be expected, I might add.

Welcome to the world of riding Syafiq. I look forward to more long hours of riding enjoyment together with you, Anas and even the Mem Besar, too (if I dare to dream big).

Friday, May 01, 2009

Labour Day blues (Maintenance Day)

Asset maintenance is, to put it simply, the culture and practices of maintaining or keeping assets and properties in good shape. It is an established culture in most developed nations.

Here in Malaysia we just build and build, but we never really think of how the properties and assets constructed would be maintained to ensure that their usage would bring about the optimum benefit as intended and (most importantly) be hassle-free and do not endanger the public in any way. After all, who would want to own or use a building with piping which leaks continuously or ceilings which fall down on peoples’ head.

The spate of problems at public institutional buildings last year served to highlight this lack of maintenance culture in Malaysia. First there was the embarrassing leakage at our iconic Parliament Building. And then this was followed by leakages (again) at the Immigration Department Headquarters in Putrajaya and the ceiling fall-down at the Ministry of Entrepreneurs and Cooperative Development building, also in Putrajaya.

Hopefully, these high-profile cases would bring about the much needed change especially after all the hues and cry by just about everyone from the former Prime Minister Pak Lah, to parliamentarians (yes it was debated in Parliament forcing certain male MPs to apologize for their un-called for sexist remarks – only in Malaysia) and down to the men in the street.

But I digress.

Coming back to the topic of this posting, I just want to highlight how much I’m ‘enjoying’ this one-day break afforded by the Labour Day.

You might be thinking that I would be lying in bed or just sprawling in front of the television in the living room. Fat chance!

For it has been ordained by the Mem Besar that Labour Day equals Maintenance Day for the Azizi household :- (

You see, there are a couple of leaking taps in the house. It has been so for the past few weeks, I might add. And then there is the railing for the langsir pintu bilik air to be put in place (the Mem bought that last month). The pokok dedap in front of our house needs extensive pruning to prevent the thorny branches from poking some small kids in the eyes when they play under it. Finally there is the staircase parquet waiting to be varnished. Hmmph…I must have bought the varnish paint two months ago now, and this is my own project. So I can’t complain much there.

So, despite it being Labour’s Day it’s a slogging day for poor old me.

Doesn’t the Ministry for Human Resources have some law or something to protect a worker from being forced to work on 1st May?