Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Celebrating the coming of Hijrah year in Masjid Sultan

The Awal Muharram is a celebration of the coming of the new Hijrah year, in Islamic calender. It was an auspicious ocassion amongst Muslims as they pray for forgiveness at the eve of one Hijrah year and pray for wellness, when the new Hijrah year starts.

Right: Outside the east entrance of the Mosque

(By the way, the Muslim calculate the dawn of a new day from when the sunset).

Left: At the beginning of the Maghrib prayers

I was lucky to have celebrated this moment, at the infamous Masjid Sultan, North Bridge Rd., Singapore. It is by farthe most iconic symbol of Islam presence and practices in Singapore.

Right: Post Maghrib new year doa

The number of worshipers gathered in the mosque for this special doa recital actually surprised me. The congregation was like a mini Jumaat prayers.

It was a very refreshing experience indeed.


Friday, December 26, 2008

A Christmas dinner

Tonight, I was invited for a Christmas dinner. My colleague, Kenneth Karnan, was kind enough to extend the invitation for the holiest day in the year for Christians.

Right: Upon arrival

So, at 800pm I and Girl-Girl had a short drive to Kepong Baru. To our suprise, it was a grand do for Ken's family. They actually closed the road to accommodate the dinner party, which was held under two tents on the street.

Left: As usual, Ken would shake the camera!

The buffet spread was sumptuous and the beverages offered befit a night of celebrations and joyous occasion. From the looks of it, they were expecting a lot of company.

Right: I and Ken in the living room

Anyway, we were thankful and glad we were invited and attended the dinner.

It was a good evening indeed!

Monday, December 22, 2008

ANSARA Dinner 2008

We had our annual Ex-MRSM Alumni (ANSARA) Dinner last night. It was held at Mawar Room, PWTC. The dinner was in commemoration of the year end. Also, ANSARA needed to raise some funds. So, tables and tickets were sold to ex-MRSMers.

Right: The ticket and menu, over a bowl of sago gula Melaka.

It was the same time as last year. I missed last year's, where Astronaut Dr. Sheikh Muzaffar, an Ex-Muo, was the guest of honour. My father had his CABG surgery during that time.

There was an array of attendance to the dinner. The guest of honour is MARA Chairman Dato' Seri Idris Jusoh.

Left: With ANSARA President Mukhriz Mahathir and Muo Chapter Head Salehuddin "Hud" Hj Ahmad Khalid

Of course, ANSARA President YB Dato' Mukhriz Mahathir was there, to address the audience. He reminded members to take ANSARA to a new level. During dinner, he made time to go round the tables to socialise and catch up on chit-chats and small talks.

Its nice to see old friends, in such a warm and social environment. Of course, there were reminesences. It would be ashamed for guys and gals who bonded for years, did nostalgically 'relive' the best of thier formative years. It is surreal that the memories live on, eternally in our hearts.

Right: Me and Azha "Gell" Jalil

During dinner, an R & B group called "Infinite", which comprise some ex-MRSMers entertained the audience with their songs.

Left: Bhadharul Bahrain and I

It was a good night indeed.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A working trip to Penang, again

Today started very early in the morning. I was up by 500am to catch the 730am flight to Penang from KLIA. Considering I slept at 200am this morning and it was a full day of Hari Raya Aidil Adha yesterday, getting up was near impossible. Never the less, Kenneth gave me a wake up call at 500am, to ensure I was up.

Right: Over the Malacca Straits, somewhere near Pangkor. Notice the thick clouds

Flying at daybreak is always exicting. One get to see the sun come up, from the altitude of 27,000 feet. We arrived at 830am and after a hearty breakfast, we took an airport cab to Komtar, where the nerve of the Penang State Government.

We had a quiet chat with a Special Function Officer in the Chief Minister's Office, mainly on the Penang economy and the affect from the global financial melt down and thus Penang's export, especially to the US and Western Europe.

Left: On the 53rd floor office

Then we presented the concept of cashless Penang society and the implementation of electronic payment system to one of the Excos.

Right: Lunch at Hameediyah, whilst surfing

Of course, a trip to Penang would not be complete withour nasi kandar. We had ours in Hameediyah, on Lebuh Campbell. Like always, it was something to remember.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Appearing on RTM 1

Tonight, I was a guest on the RTM 1 post prime news program, Blog. I was asked by producer, Hasshim Abu Hanifah to speak on political and current issues, from the context of "Korban", since tomorrow is Hari Raya Aidil Adha or Korban.

Right: Appearing on prime news slot live on RTM 1

I was notified for this on Friday, which does not give me so much time to prepare. Moreover, I was not given neither the script nor any of questions before hand.

Left: A full view profile

It was a new experience, as RTM is the official Government electronic propaganda machinery. I must say, it felt honoured to be able to talk about having a single school system and doing away all vernacular schools.

It was indeed a very interesting experience.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Discovering Perth

Today, we spent the whole day shopping, again. Mak needed to go back to Harbour Town factory outlet mall, which is the west end edge of Perth city. We spent afew hours there. Of course, the more time we spent shopping, the more things we buy.

Right: Harbour Town mall main street

Girl-Girl also had her first doner kebab today. Whilst waiting for the missus and Mak to finish their rounds, I took Girl-Girl for Adidas t-shirt shopping. Then we had more time to spare. So we parked ourselves in a west Asian cafe. So she had her first kebab, after she found mine rather "interesting".

Left: Biting into her first kebab

Later, she and Abah went for a walk along Swan river, which is a stone's throw from our apartment. They found it to be exhalirating and utterly refreshing. They walked along the banks till the causeway that link Perth to Victoria Park. It also mean they were at the banks across from Burswood Entertainment Complex, where we were on Saturday.

Right: The river of Swan river

Girl-Girl had a new discovery. Today, the first time in her life, she climbed a tree.

Left: On a tree for the first time

She is the person who had the most fun in this trip.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Experiencing main street shopping of Perth

Today, I decided to take my parents to go shopping in main street Perth. They have already experienced suburban shopping on Saturday. So today, I decided to take them to Hay St. and Murray St. high street shopping, via the London Court arcade.

Right: The London Court arcade

The Christmas shopping has already started.

Left: Murray St., in front of the Forest Centre

Then slowly, we walked my parents to Hay St., then cut across David Jones departmental store to Murray St. Since it was a Monday, there was not many people in the mall between the these streets. It was a pleasant walk, although the sun was far to bright for Mak.

Right: Harbour Town factory outlet entrance

Our shopping trip ended at Harbour Town factory outlet, at the far end of the city on Wellington St.

Visiting Fremantle and west of Perth

It was a typical lazy summer Sunday in Perth. I decided to take my parents, for a drive to Fremantle and experience the market there. So after a hearty breakfast, we waddle along Canning Highway towards south east coastal city of Fremantle.

Right: The colours in E Shed

Left: Fremantle, in front of the market

Our first stop was E Shed Market, on Victoria Quay, Fremantle. We got tons of souvenirs from a merchant, who is actually an Indonesian. Then a short stop at the Freemantle Maritime Museum. There is a former HMAN world war II submarine on display.

Then it was the Fremantle Market. It is an important attraction to Perth. It has been in operation since 1897. We saw some baskers, doing some street entertaining. Then it was lunch. A trip to Fremantle would be a complete failure without having fish and chips meal on the jetty, across from the Esplanade. And we did just that.

Right: Overlooking Mosman Bay (Note Perth skyscrapers in the right horizon)

Then, on the way back, we took the Stirling Highway. We passed Mosman Park. So we decided to drive around the posh area, to first hand feel what was the hype was all about. It was an amazing experience. The view was breadth taking and words were not made to describe the feeling of being there, on Bayview Street, overlooking Mosman Bay.

Left: Overlooking the cliff from Bayview Stt. Park, on top of Mosman Bay

Some people are so lucky to be able to afford homes in this area.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mak's surprise birthday bash @ 33,000 feet

The surprise of MH 125

Today is Mak's 68th birthday. Today also we took her to Perth, for a holiday. This morning, by 730am, we checked in onto MH 125 departing at 940am. So we did not have time to do anything for her.

Right: A stewardess presenting to Mak, her birtday card

Left: The two IFS on board

At KLIA, I was trotting about looking for a birtdhday cake and candle, but non avail. Upon checked in, I was introduced to a Malaysia Airlines executive, who is doing an audit on the flight. I sound it out to him that it was Mak's birthday and he said, he will do the best he can.

Right: The IFS for the flight MH 125

There it was. At 33,000 feet somewhere over Java and northern coast of continent Australia, Mr Sagadevan, along with the IFS for the
flight Lazri Gunasegaran and a few of the stewardess, called on Mak, wished her "Happy Birthday", sang to her and presented a lovely adhoc birthday card. There even were desserts, as makeshitft birthday cake (minus the candles!).

Considering they had limited resources onboard, their creativity, innovation and resourcefulness should be admired.

Left: The smile tells it all!

She smiled instantly. Now after eight hours, she is still smiling!

To the crew of MH125 today, thank you! You guys really live up to the Malaysia Airlines campaign, "Malaysian Hospitality".

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I, live on TV

Captured as how it appeared on Astro Awani

This evening, I was on national TV. I was invited to be the guest in the forum, "Analysis Awani" on Astro Awani Ch. 501. I was interviewed live on TV by Suhaimi Sulaiman, Kamarul Bahrin and Nazri Kahar, all at once. It was a live show, which aired at 530pm.

Right: Addressing Suhaimi's question

The questions were tough and intense. Some of the questions I seriously felt shouldn't be leashed against me. One after another, I was charged with questions even experienced and seasoned politicians would find it tough to deal with. After all, I am no politician. Just an amateur political analyst, maybe.

Left: Kamarul Bahrin grilling me live on TV

It was a sureal experience indeed. The bright lights and multiple cameras aimed right to your path, added the anxiety and consciousness. Most of all, there is a large LCD screen just to my left, where all of us on the table could watch ourselves the live program as it is being aired, added more stage fright.

Right: The angle the viewers caught of me whenever I say anything on air

Regardless, I tried my best to address all the issues raised. Considering instantaneously the speed of the response I gave to some of the toughest issues raised towards me, I must say it was an experience indeed.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Experiencing Singapore

Since my family ambushed me with a surprise visit in Johor Bahru, on my 41st birthday, I decided to take them to Singapore that night. We managed to get a hotel, with the right arrangements.

Right: Mama and Girl-Girl with a glimpse of the Orchard Road as the backdrop

So I had to shuttle back and forth between Orchard Road to Persada in Johor Bahru, for the M2K convention. That means I had little time for them. Only in the evenings that I get to do things with them. The get to wander of on their own. Itinerary includes shopping along Orchard Road, a visit to the Science Centre in Jurong and swimming.

Left: In the pool

Right: Lunching at Zam Zam

On Sunday, it was much better for me. I get to lunch with them at Zam Zam Restaurant (Straits Time claimed that it is the BEST nasi beriyani in the island-state).

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Briefing the Minister at M2K

This morning, the Domestic Trade and Industry Minister Dato' Shahrir Samad officiated the Bank Negara's Minggu Kesedaran Kewangan (M2K) in Persada Convention Centre, in Johor Bahru. In his speeh, he remided Malaysians to be cash thrift and spend on what they earn. All the major bankers and financial services players were present to chow case their products and support the central bank's awareness campaign on financial management.

Right: The Minister making his speech. Seated on the stage is Bank Negara Deputy Governor Dato' Zamani

After officiating, the Minister went for a walk-about around the exhibition and drop by to several booths. He was briefed on the latest products, especially retail and consumer financial items available in the market.

Left: The Minister being briefed on our EDC terminal, which was used for the cash card loading

One of the booth he dropped in was ours. I had the opportunity to present to him our electronic payment system and conveniently demonstrated to him how e-money is being used to pay for services and goods, which include information about registered companies procured from Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia, which falls under his ministry.

Right: Kenneth demonstrating payment using MyKad on our mobile handheld unit. At the back of the Minister is Bank Negara Deputy Governor.

He was rather impressed with our developments. For this event, any parking payments made via our payment gateway would be given a RM 1.00 discount; a test of the acceptance to the usage of MEPSCASH. For the first time, a parking environment went on live via our system and it went on seamlessly. Of course, it was very encouraging indeed.

The moral support he shown this morning to us is definitely very encouraging. Accompanying him is the Bank Negara Deputy Governor Dato' Zamani Abd. Ghani.

Left: The Minister giving a full attention

It was a very good morning indeed.

Kenneth and I in our booth. On the right are our EDC terminals

Friday, October 24, 2008

First day of Bank Negara conference

My day started early, way before sunrise. I woke up in the coldness of rainy Friday morning at the southern most city of continent Asia. I fekt rather squiggy all morning and was goin through half of a cheese omelette when I stopped. Later, I came back to the breakfast table with my unfinished plate being whisked away. Four cups of capucino actually added to my 'edgyness'.

Right: Ken and I at our booth

Today is the first day of conference. Like expected, it was swarmed by visitors, which include school going teenagers and kids. I am beginning to feel the pressure of the event and the meetings I have to attend.

Left: Syed Azlan loading Ben Chong's MyKad

Our strategic partner in online cybergaming merchant development, came all the way here to give support. It is important that young Malaysians be exposed and utilise the cashless habit, in built in the MyKad and common bankcard.

*Updated 430pm

Later, I took our IT Applications Manager Siti Hamimah and Corporate Communications woman Jazreen for an assam pedas lunch. They were utterly pleased with the freshly cooked snapper in rich Johorean style assam pedas.

Right: Lunch being served

On the way back to Persada Convention Centre, we dropped in on the Johor State Planning Unit and the Menteri Besar's Office. It was a follow up from our succesful meeting yesterday. Siti and Jazreen was also pleased to be in one of the oldest Government buidling in the country, which is still operational. "Its like walking through the corridors of history".

*Updated Saturday, 25 October 2008 100am

Tonight, I was given the shock of my life. At 700pm, I was unable to locate my family, who were missing from home. And no one at home could tell us where they were. I was trying to call them frantically.

To my biggest surprise, at 730pm they dropped in on me in Puteri Pan Pacific Johor Bahru. They flew in to surprise me on my 41st birthday.

Right: Birthday dinner at Danga Bay

So, all of us went out for a dinner at Danga Bay. Ken was gracious enough to buy all of us what turn out to be a gluttony-like dinner. First time, my family and team from work met each other and socialise.

This week had been a very testing period for me. Of course, I will remember today for the longest time. It was a day of too many surprises!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bringing the troops to Johor Bahru

Today, we were in Johor Bahru. It was a planned trip. This time, I had the troops here instead of just Kenneth Karnan.

We loaded somemore stuff into the Enterprise and a rented Naza Ria and pushed off a quarter to ten. It was a pleasant ride all the way.

Right: Enjoying Mee rebus, otak otak and rojak buah while ctaching up on chin-wags

The moment we reached Johor Bahru, our first order of the day was lunch. And in Johor Bahru, my trip would not be completed without Mee Rebus Hj. Wahid. By one, we were already at Plaza Angsana. To my expectations, the troops were pleased. By half past one, we were already on our way to Puteri Pacific Hotel, my usual home whilst in Johor Bahru. Siti and Kenneth were scheduled for a meeting by 2pm.

*Updated 530pm

Later, by three, we had our meeting at the State Economic Planning Unit. The Deputy Director is an old Newcastle buddy of mine, NoorAzam Osman. This was a follow up on the earlier presentation we had. The UPEN saw the merits of our proposal and want to implemented it in Johor.

Left: Presenting to Lokman

Right: Kenneth demonstrating to Lokman and Noor Azam

Then, he cordially arranged for us to meet Lokman Abu Bakar, another buddy from my England days. He is now the Principal Private Secretary to the Menteri Besar of Johor. Briefly, I presented the same proposal we did for UPEN and he also saw what the objectives are and how the State Government could benefit.

Hence, he arranged for another presentation appointment. This time for the State Government of Johor and the Menteri Besar and Excos would be there. It looks like we will be back here in Bangunan Sultan Ibrahim on the eighteenth of next month.

Left: Infront of the MB's office

We took the opportunity to capture our photograph in front of the Menteri Besar's office. Soon, this office would be vacated and the entire State Government will move to their new home in Nusajaya.

It was a very good day indeed