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

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Remembering Mustaffa Dapat

At Utah Beach, in front of an US Army Sherman tank

My best friend, Mustaffa Dapat would have been 44 today. Unfortunately for me, God Al Mighty called him back to rahmatullah on 28 August 2004, when he was in a coma in a hospital in Caen, due to a rare penicillin poisoning related ailment called Steven Johnson syndrome.

This was one of my greatest regret in life. Only Allah s.w.t. knows the wisdom why Mus was called few weeks short of his 40th birthday.

At St. Mere D'Eglise, the site where the 101st Airborne was dropped the night before invasion. For the longest times since we were roomates in MRSM, we promised ourselves that one day we will come here. We managed to do it only when at the end of his life

I still miss him dearly till present day. The only left is the remembrance of the fondest memory with my dear friend, whom I misses so much. In June 2004, he so insisted that I went to see him in Cherbourg, France, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings, "Operation Overlord". Little that anyone would know, that would his last wish to meet up with me. When we parted, he hugged me in front of the submarine turned museum, Redoutable and till today, I remember and savour that moment.

One day we shall meet again. May Allah s.w.t. bless your soul.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Attending Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's openhouse

I was at International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's openhouse this afternoon. It was held at Damansara Heights. My blogging friend, Dato' Ahmad A. Talib reminded me several times to attend.

Right: With the host at his porch

Left: Explaining to Tun Siti on the my political stance this morning

At 1.58pm, I was sounded out that fourth Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was already on his way to the Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, party with his doting wife of 62 years, Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah Mohd. Ali. As I was still on my errant run, I got the missus to drop me at Damansara Heights, to save time.

Of course, it was the peak time. Well wishers from all walks of life were there, paying homage.

Right: With Rocky, Nuraina and Endie

Later, I joined other blogging buddies, Ahirudin "Rocky" Attan, Nuraina A. Samad and Salahuddin Hj. Hisham on our usual chig-wags.

My family and Tan Sri Muhyiddin's go a long way back. We both hail from Muo.

Left: Catching Tan Sri Muhyiddin's personal thoughts

Later, after Tan Sri Muhyiddin's media conference, we had the opportunity to have a private session with him. He talked about the diversity of the Malaysian economy as compared against Singapore's, which is dependent on services sector. Singapore officially declared they are experiencing 'technical recession' after the US and Western European financial catestrophe lately.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dinner with Darlina and Neil

Last night, we had a dinner with Neil and Darlina Harris. We met at KLCC for dinner. The Harrises will be going back to their home in Bahrain on Saturday.

Right: Dee surfing on Girl-Girl's blog through my PDA phone

We caught up with chats and chin-wags. It is also the first time we met Neil since we last saw him at his place in Knuttsford, near Manchester three years ago. Neil is now the design manager for a British consulting group WS Atkins in Bahrain. He flew in two days before Hari Raya Aidil Fitri. He was his usual self; being witty and a little bit ckeeky.......

Left: Neil and I

It was deemed special as Dee would be celebrating her 4oth birthday tomorrow. This would be our last opportunity to catch up with them since they will busy with her family from tomorrow night onwards, till they leave Malaysia.

Right: As dinner being served

Monday, October 6, 2008

Tun Dr. Mahathir's Openhouse

I was at fourth Prime Minister's openhouse this afternoon in Mines Resort, Seri Kembangan. It was a day to remember. I wasn't sure how many people actually turned up, but it the scores of visitors and well wishers waiting in queue to wish "Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri" to the hosts were endless.

Right: With Dato' Mukhriz Mahathir

There was even a Tun Dr. Mahathir facebook fan club, who organised a trip for the Openhouse. This a manifestation of how the Statesman is very much respected and well liked, by Malaysians from all walks of life.

Left: Facebook Fan club in attendance

Fellow bloggers Ahirudin "Rocky" Attan and Nuraina A. Samad were present too. So were other usual friends of mine. Some were first timers. They all had a great time.

Right: With close blogging buddies

The Hari Raya is incomplete without wishing the hosts personally. And my friend, bloggo-photo-journo shot this.

Left: An action-kodak moment

This was a good afternoon indeed.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The last morning in Puteri Pacific Johor Bahru

This is our last morning here. It has been our home for this Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, since first day Syawal. For thirteen consecutive Hari Raya we did this. It is a 'home' for us whenever we are in Johor Bahru.

Right: Second day Syawal, at the lobby

The morning started with the 'sea trials' again. We did not achieve the results we desired.

Left: Commandant of the submarine operations with HMS Si Kunit

Then back up to the room to change and packing. Soon, we will say goodbye to all the friendly frontline staffs here at Puteri Pacific Johor Bahru, who have treated us more like family rather than guests.

Right: Girl-Girl dwell into her My Space whilst Mama packs

I shall be back here again soon. Most probably by end of next week, for work. This time, half of my Business Development Team would be here as well.

Left: Bangunan Sultan Ibrahim from our window

Friday, October 3, 2008

Annual trip to Singapore

Like any other Hari Raya Aidil Fitri ritual, to spend time in Johor Bahru is incomplete without a trip to Republic of Singapore. So at half past ten, we shot off across the causeway. Our first order the day would be a visit to Linda's late father's resting place at Pusara Aman, Chua Chu Kang. Hari Raya Aidil Fitri is always All Souls moment for us.

Right: Pusara Aman

Most probably this will be our last visit to this cemetry. Mohamed Said Sulaiman's remains. who has been interned here since 18 September 1979, has now been asked to be relocated to a smaller plot. This is the usual Singapore Government policy, as land is very scarce in this nation state. So they recycle cemetery plots. By January, we shall be moving the remains elsewhere. Most probably, somewhere in Malaysia.

Right: Crusing along PIE eastwards

Then, we off to do some shopping. We left Pusara Aman, along Jalan Bahar, onto PIE eastwards and then into Newton Circus via Stevens Rd. This leads right into Scotts Rd., where one can turn into Orchard Rd. However, since its weekday, the ERP is being enforced.

Right: Nasi Beriyani and Murtabak Singapura with a new view

So after some shopping, which include some basmati from Mustafa Centre in Serangoon, we headed to North Bridge Road for some very late lunch. The restaurant we frequent is right infront of the famous Masjid Sultan.

Left: Rush hour at the Singapore CIQ

Then we experienced the Friday evening rush hour at the causeway. Personally, I am intrigued at the amount of Malaysians who commute across the border for employment everyday.

Right: First 'sea trials'

As soon as we reached the hotel, its 'sea trials' for me and Girl-Girl. We bought a remote controlled submarine. Like our annual Hari Raya trip to Singapore, one of a required acquisition for her are toys. So this year is this submarine.

Left: The commander of the new submarine

She spent a great deal of fun learning through discovery about the submarine! Of course, we have to do more sea trials first thing in the morning. She needed to perfect her submarining skills.

I must say, it had been a very good day indeed.....

HMS Si Kunit

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Second day of Hari Raya with old friends

Today is the second day of Hari Raya Aidil Fitri in Johor Bahru. I decided to look up old schools friends.

The first thing in the morning, I dropped by my cousin's place. His quarters is nearby our hotel. Then, I went to look up Mohd. Fazil Ismail. His mother lives in Larkin. Its been sometime since we saw each other. This year marks the 28th anniversary we have known each other rather closely.

Right: At Fazil's mom

Then we popped by Abah's cousin's place in Desa Rahmat. This had been an annual agenda. Then, we went to visit Fadhil Ahmad, another ex MRSM buddy. He reside in Pulai Perdana, ever since his marriage five years ago.

Left: Catching up on a lost whole year

Fadhil and his wife Jid are ever as great hosts as they are, despite Jid is due to deliver any time now.

This was another great second day Hari Raya Aidil Fitri indeed.

Typical Hari Raya in Johor Bahru

Like any other year, we will go back to Johor Bahru after all the rituals at home is done. This afternoon, after my cousin and neighbour left, we pushed off at quarter to three. We load the Enterprise up, with all the usual things we always bring with us (which include 'Super Soaker' guns!). It was a rather boring journey, as getting through Seremban was a drag.

Right: The Enterpise loaded up. Notice the 'Super Soakers', to the left of the Minnie Mouse luggage and pillows on top of it. The blue luggage is our thermal bag. The white paper bags on the bottom right side are mineral water.

The journey this year required 15% more time or 30 minutes to be precise. After Air Keroh, it was a smooth ride and the weather was fine.

Left: Commandering the Enterprise
, somewhere past Simpang Ampat

My navigator, Girl-Girl, kept me company all the way. We reached mom in law's place at half past six and we had our traditional Hari Raya feast, with all the food we brought fom Kuala Lumpur. The missus prohibit the mother to cook this year because of her recent state of health.

Right: The navigator

At half past eight, we checked into Puteri Pacific Johor Bahru. This has been our annual home for the 13th consecutive Hari Raya Aidil Fitri visit. It is a place feels like home. The warmth of the people who serve us here is the key.

Left: Puteri Pacific lobby

After shower, we went to Chu's for dinner. Later, at half past eleven, its the traditional Hari Raya visit to BJ's. Usually, we'd only be back at the hotel by two. For twelve Hari Raya, we do this.

It's a good Hari Raya Aidil Fitri indeed.