Friday, February 10, 2012

Bukit Kepong - Attentive Past, Mundane Present.

PROLOGUE: After 60 years, finally the station received it much deserved attention. 

Last Raya I went for an open house at Johor. On the way back to KL, I stopped by at Bukit Kepong, a small town made famous by Bukit Kepong Incident where the only police station was besieged by communist forces back in 1950. The defending police forces were almost all KIA, and to make things worse, the station was burnt down, sadly turning them into human barbecue together with their trapped families. The commies were led by Mat Indera, whose name sparked a controversy last year for being deemed as a hero rather than a commie rebel.

Mat Indera issue had renewed national interest about the Incident, reopened the chapter of history about our struggle for Independence...

and might reopened an old wound...

Nevertheless, the case was sensational enough for me to stop by, discover the site...

and come up with some most intriguing finds. 

As I reached the police station-turned-museum, many people already flocked there. Controversies are indeed good for marketing. 

Entrance into the attentive past, or mundane present... 

Cardboard box of the old police station. More like a penghulu house!

Observe the 3 communication towers on the hills overlooking the police station. The police on duty informed me the towers marked the site where Mat Indera might positioned his armies, their arms were restless, ready to attack in the morning of February 23...

The towers loomed the station - a forgotten stark reminder of what happened that day... 

New station over the fallen one.

The Two Towers of Bukit Kepong!

Jetty of Muar River - still stands after all these years.

"I kill you Mat Indera!", posing of a patriot(?)

Abandoned room - nothing but a store.

Creaky old station. So much for a holy ground of the police forces.

Another view of the Towers.

Muar River behind the station. No wonder the station was easily besieged.

Old battered boat - no more sailing in this one.

Safe Come To Hill Besiege! - welcoming sign near the site.

After a few minutes walk, I reached the Muslim Cemetery where the defending casualties were buried. I still remember many years ago that the cemetery was overgrown and rusty gates, abandoned...

And now the vegetation is cleared, the graves are given new golden gate, with national, state and mourning flag.
List of the fallen police forces.

The graves were embellished with new enclosing wall -built by two Indonesian workers. Again, so much for the so-called holy site of the Royal Malaysian Police forces that they couldn't find at least a platoon to have the honor to do the job. 

"Nothing special, just a regular job for me", said the Indonesian worker.

Don't be fooled by his Malaysia team jersey!

On my way back to the station, I stopped by the surau near the cemetery. I thought it was the meeting of the victims' families. Turned out to be a casual meeting of the old folks of the kampung. I took this shot and bashfully left. 

"We are now discussing about water problem..." boring... zzz... 

Arriving back at the station, I glimpsed the towers once again. I wondered what Mat Indera had seen that he chose this police station as the target. After asking people around,  I went to the top of the hill without haste. 

The view up there was amazing.

In front of me was vast open sky without any sort of elevation. Only the Muar River, serpentinely crosses the lone village below.


Mat Indera had set his target for the spot at the centre of this photo:   

I realized the surrounding land of the hills have been stripped its vegetation. Maybe to deny the commies any lurking spot after the Incident, as shown in photo below: 

Overall, the journey was plain good. But I only recommend for you guys who passing by Muar or serious observers since all traces of the original Incident were absent. I wonder why they don't display artifacts that were present during the Incident. If they could do that, this place would really be much interesting.

That time of my visit, Mat Sabu Controversy kept the visitors coming. I bet not much people are there now. Guys, don't waste your time coming here, unless you're history geek like me.

Nevertheless, I finally saw Bukit Kepong through the eyes of both the polices and the commies. I shall wait for Bukit Kepong to be one of the must-go site in Malaysia. Until then, it is just a place with attentive past, yet mundane present.


EPILOGUE: Trailing Mat Indera down the hill and history... 

Monday, December 12, 2011

SPM Intellectica - Nitrogen Cycle

Click to enlarge.

World is indeed full with wonders. Just go out and there you are, stepping on the soil once belonged to ancient mountains, breathing oxygen once belonged to a dead star, or gazing stars once belonged to the Big Bang.

Each thing in the universe has its own story, if only we let ourselves to hear them.

Nowadays we have internet to access to any info imaginable -from the comfort of your room. We are getting smarter even better than our predecessors. The internet could shape our thoughts and mould our characters. If we were to go back in time, we all would easily become aristocrats or the privileges. Or rule the ancient world and treated as a deity.

We have the most powerful tool ever created, yet we waste it on trivial social networking and gossiping. 

Regardless, I prefer to enlighten my students rather than teaching them. You already have the Web, textbooks, school teachers...

...and it's my job as the Science seminar speaker to show you all its sublime beauty.

As a start, I present you this infographic about Nitrogen Cycle -one of the frequently asked questions in SPM for Biology (Science-stream students) and Science (Art-stream students). Stay tuned for more!


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Incubus Live - Thomas Cup Resurrected

PROLOGUE: We come, We perform, We leave.

INCUBUS - Anyone with my age almost somehow recognizes these guys. They're known with their hit song 'Drive' back in 2001. Cool musicians who were in KL last July. And I was there to see the show. 

The venue was Stadium Negara beside Victoria Institute (VI). As I arrived there, somehow I was more attracted to the school and the stadium. VI is one of the oldest, most prestigious school in the state. Stadium Negara is the first indoor stadium in Malaysia,

and a holy spot for those who remember.

After a long queue, I entered the stadium and quickly found myself back in 1992 again. The roof design, the seats, the floor, the stairs, the atmosphere (albeit a bit darker) -they seemed to be the same, welcoming me like old pals. I didn't attend the matches but I still remember them all from newspaper clippings and TV I watched before. 

Glorious and proud. That was some 19 years ago. 

Some instinct of antiquity I'd gotten in me. Let's get back to the concert, shall we?

People queuing to watch badminton, excuse me, concert!

A few minutes before the show. People already thronged the front of the stage. We waited until the band arrived before we go down there and start banging our heads! 

The concert started with a Malaysian band called Rosevelt. New, young and ambitious, they were intended to create impacts in our local music scenes. Not bad for a fledgling ensemble. Yet somehow as I scrutinized their performance for the whole 30 minutes, something was missing. The group lacked of the coolness of Cobain, the wrath of Hetfield, the charisma of Mercury. Or to take some recent examples, the Martin awesomeness or originality of Thom Yorke. 

I took these examples as I was raised in the 80s where rockstars were gods and concerts attended exceed ten of thousands. Maybe their music was meant for newer generations. As I said, fledgling ensemble. 

Reputation takes time. And you guys had made quite a mark that night. Keep on rocking dudes! In years we all shall know how awesome you really are.

After half an hour from Rosevelt, we went down and claimed our place among the restless crowd. After another 15 minutes intermission, finally it's time for the real show. Then, without warning the band appeared out of thin air and the lead singer Brandon Boyd just sang without intro whatsoever. The crowd seemed to love the surprise, but for me it's like...

Pak Ali: Bile nak start ni? (When will this commence?)

Ajib: Kejap lagi mula la tu.. (Anytime soon...)

Pak Ali: Tadi aku nampak macam ada orang atas stage.. (I think I saw someone on the stage...)

Boyd: I HEAR YOU ON THE RADIO! (1st song 'Megalomaniac')

The people went wild with the performance of Boyd and his members. They sang along, especially the hit songs such as 'Drive'. I joined the mob wrecking havoc by cheering the Incubus, making lots of noise, and grooved to the music of the band.

Ajib was definitely the star of the crowd as he has been a big fan of the group. Also, he's responsible for inviting me here in the first place!

Nevertheless, despite the sign and common courtesy, I realized more and more folks started to draw cigarettes that the hall quickly turned into a parlor of smoking orgy. I couldn't stand of the reek and moved to the upper section of the indoor stadium.

Ajib stayed to keep rocking as he always has the better immune system. Surprisingly no audience sat up there and it was me all alone enjoying the whole view for the rest of the show.

The show ended with Boyd final words 'Thank you boys and girls' and the band simply went away. Just like the way things started, just like that it concluded as well.

Showmanship is more than just performance. Like poetry, it has opening, body and closing. The concert was great, yet it lacked the essences of grand opening or memorable finale. I know because I'm a seminar speaker, a kinda performer myself. Maybe it's just in Malaysia. It might be different in other countries. 

Concert aftermath. Ajib with RM204 VIP ticket and VVIP special pass.

I never attended a concert before and I must say this is such a great experience. The group was medium with some 5000 people supporting Incubus. Yet, I could imagine being in one back in the 70s-80s when 100,000 horde was a norm. And I silently wished to attend Radiohead's in near future.

Yorke, we all awaiting thee . Show us how tipsy you can really be!

Above all, the venue shall always be special for me, where greater support was given, by all Malaysians, echoing throughout the country some time in the past, 19 years ago...

EPILOGUE: Malaysia wins 3-2! 


Monday, August 22, 2011

Infographic - Malaysia-Singapore Interesting Comparison

My Singapore adventure had gained much attention in my inbox messages. So here is my very own infographic about the two neighboring countries. Kinda love doing it. I intend to make more of this. Cheerios people!



Saturday, August 20, 2011

Singapore - Going Undercover

PROLOGUE: Twice came, twice never be the same.

The island of lions. Doesn't matter how did the animals native to Africa and India stuck up there. Good and hardworking people. Always have something new downtown. But unfortunately city life is not for me. Give me wilderness and historical complex anytime, and I shall be enthralled to no end. Not hip city/urban attractions.

Dynamic. Energetic. Lively. The city I once knew a girl. The reason I went there -twice. 

It was back then in 2004 and 2006. Although the visits were brief, interestingly quirky incidences already befell on me. Here are the chronicles of Narnia Pak Ali:

Scenario 1 - Saved by the Savior

I was exploring along the Orchard Road to find one particular bus station and got lost. Fortunately a young lady approached and offered her aid to show me the way. Turned out she was kinda Christian missionary with black-white outfit and Holy Bible in hand. As we reached our destination, I thanked for her kind and much-needed help.

Lady: Oh, do not thank me. Do thank to Our Lord Jesus. He brought you to me to show you the correct path. Now let's pray to Him.

Pak Ali: Indeed I will, I also wish to pray to Him too! (lifting my hands like regular Muslim prayer position).

Lady: Why you did like that ahh?

Pak Ali: Miss, we Islam also believe in Jesus as one of his prophets.

Lady: No, no. Jesus is the God.

Pak Ali: Thank you for your help Lady. And I think God wants me to make haste now.

She was a bit persuasive. Yet I respected her for her deed that day. I bet that I felt an angel's touch on my face before we parted...

Scenario 2 - Cursed by the Kiasu 

Ha, now comes the interesting moment. I was roaming the island, taking pictures when suddenly I was approached by an old, scruffy-looking lady:

Lady: Sir, please give me some money. I need some money to go home.

Pak Ali: Are you sure you need one? This is a small island. You can always walk.

Lady: Sir, I worked hard, still not enough money... Sir, please help...

Pak Ali: (in Malay) Yikes, it is almost 3 pm.

Lady: Are you Malaysian?

Pak Ali: Yes, why madam?


I played with her for a while by offering SGD 50, 100 and 200. Fortunately she refused out of her pride for Singapore not to accept anything from Malaysia. As a history geek, I know too well the residue of pathetically sad sentiment still pervading these two countries. I did not blame her. I blamed myself for not offering SGD 500 instead!

Scenario 3 - Deconstructed by the Driver

After the kiasu incident, I decided to use my Arabic look to go undercover. I took one of the Mercedes taxis sprawling the Singaporean roads. The driver, and old chap, was friendly, maybe because of my impeccable disguise as an Arabian tourist.

Driver: So where you from?

Pak Ali: (with thick Arabic accent) UAE. Arab Emirates. You know the country?

Driver: Waa, rich country! I pick up some Arab here and there. Many Arab come here to do business. So you here for business?

Pak Ali: I'm here for pleasure. Come here to see your rich country.You all must be lucky that your country is very rich with good port, good food and good Mr. Lee!

Driver: Ha ha, thank you friend. You heard we are rich. But we have to pay many this and that. Old people like me still have to work. This (he took out a thick wad of money) is not for me.

Well, that's kinda result you get if you're living in a highly capitalist and materialistic world. I'm glad I've got no knack for things superficial. My honorable Orang Asli ancestors had taught me pretty darn well.

Scenario 4 - Silenced by the Student

This happened during my second visit with Haris. In an MRT train, I sat beside a cute-looking girl. She was reading her self-made notes and a quick glance revealed she was a university student. She was totally wrapped in her study that she failed to notice me taking interest on her. From her super-packed and tiny handwriting notes, I knew just where she was studying:

Pak Ali: Such a diligent girl. NUS (National University of Singapore)?

Girl: (nod)

Pak Ali: Your writings are all over the notes. You must be studying all night!

Girl: (smile, nod)

Pak Ali: Your exam is around the corner?

Girl: (nod)

Pak Ali: That note. Physics is indeed hard. All the best then!

Girl: (smile, nod)

Pak Ali: (silent)

Girl: (silent)

Pak Ali: Aite, take care k.

Girl: (smile, nod).

Lesson: Use open-ended question to approach any girl.

Scenario 5 - Interrogated by the Immigration Officers

Here is another interesting point of my travel to the island. At the Singapore checkpoint station, I was taken by the authority to be questioned. I realized it was post 9/11. Coupled with my Arabic look made solid by my Arabic slang, this going undercover had just gone way too much! Yet, I ready for anything the Singapore govies had stored for me in that austere interrogation room:

Officer: Why do you come here in Singapore?

Pak Ali: Oh you have such a beautiful country. I'm here as tourist wanna see the sizzling Sentosa Island, awesome Orchard Road, great Geylang Street!

Officer: Do you have anyone to contact here in this state?

Pak Ali: I had a girlfriend here one. Hot as hell. You should meet her. But she dumped me for good. Now I don't know how to contact her but if by any chance I meet her, I'll let you know ASAP.

Officer: Do you have any reason to be here?

Pak Ali: Oh yes, I wanna experience again the Singaporean hospitality. You're country is so good. Many new things to explore. Many things to buy. Cheaper electronic goods. Friendly people. Save and clean city. I'm glad to be here.

Officer: OK, OK off you go.

Pak Ali: Thank you officer. You did your job well.

I heard stories of Malaysians stuck in Australian and New Zealand airports for deemed highly suspicious by the securities. These people of authority mean business. First world attitude. Cool words are required to ease their strict demeanor. 

Singapore is no exception. I definitely have got no idea that I would be suspected. I was baffled. Who or what was the real culprit?

Noordin M. Top. No wonder.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Perak Expedition - Epiphany Part 2

PROLOGUE: Map is not the territory. Which is why GPS really comes in handy!

We continued our journey to Pasir Salak. A place once bloomed as one of the centre of British administration back in colonization era. Now a peaceful kampung area, leaving behind all legacy of blood once garishly coloured the scene...

And I came to pay respect to the one caused everything in the first place, JWW Birch.

Unfortunately his tomb located deep within a plantation. Plus, the road leading to it was bumpy as all hell. On the way, my tire got stuck with some twigs. As I went out to pull it away, howls of unknown primates and canines perilously all over the air. 

"Birch, don't tell me you've got your own personal guards...".

Personal safety won over curiosity . We called off the visit and head for the nearest exit.

Whatever you say Birch. Just don't let me change your R with T.

Next we went to the Pasir Salak Historical Complex. Time was already past 5 pm and it was already closed. We took a few pics of the exteriors of the complex, the site where Birch was killed, and the grave site of one of the killers, Seputum, Malaya's very own Ezio Auditore!  

Sungai Perak, the only surviving witness of the Birch assassination.

It was getting dark, so me and Razif drove back to Kuala Kangsar. Along the way, we stopped by at Gua Tempurung. It already closed, and we just chatted with the only guard available. He told stories about his 10 years experience with the cave -of course a bit tinge of paranormals.

Interesting, very interesting indeed. It's been a while since the last time I had the speleological adventure. Next time, indeed this cave is a must go!

Next morning, we went to this gallery below at Kuala Kangsar. The gallery storing mementos of the current sultan of Perak. Outfits, antiquities, souvenirs, you know that stuffs. In short, all things glorifying Sultan Azlan Shah!

We were exhausted after seeing all those spoons, plates, pajamas, portraits, jewelries, all things trivial and crucial. We took a nap at the VIP room. Comfy. Cool. Royal. El grande. Only for both of us that afternoon! 

Guys, make way for the His Highness and Most Holiness Tun Tan Sri Dato' Amar Diraja Yang Berbahagia Lagi Mulia Razif! Wait,something about the couch...

Yep, a gift from Emperor of Japan himself just for Razif to have a good midday snooze~

Yo king, were busts or statues are meant for fallen heroes and Islam endorse aniconism? Oh I forgot you're the king and kings have exemptions and lot of excuses.

Picture perfect with a princess beside. Oh my darling angel, where were you when I need one.

We prayed at the nearby Ubudiah Mosque, the edifice already covered in my blog before. Then, I paid some respect on the great Sultan Idris, ancestor of Sultan Azlan Shah. He was responsible for the mosque. Responsible for my brother's alma mater Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris. 

He criticized them during Durbar meeting in 1897 and enjoyed British money afterwards. And responsible for keeping Perak chained under the colonialist administration. 

His tomb dominated the Royal Mausoleum beside the mosque. May you rest in peace, brother Idris.

Outside, I spotted one grand tomb. It belonged to the previous Perak Sultan. I concluded that the adjacent empty plot is where Sultan Azlan Shah will be interred. Sorry dear king, I already booked your final resting place :) 

Before I head home for good in KL, I stopped by at a junction in Kuala Kangsar with the oldest rubber tree in Malaysia. Such a historical plant that this is the forefather of all rubber trees of Malaysia that turned Malaya into one of the rubber producers in the world and cash cow for the British colonialists. I took a fallen bark as souvenir.  

In the end, these lines shall suit them all well:

Two big houses,
One incomplete,
Other turned gallery,
Such void, lifeless,
Not even  fit to call home~

The journey was an enlightenment. Even at places so familiar as these in Perak, I always find something to discover. I shall always look forward for more travels in the states of Malaysia, and ultimately, more entries for my blog. 

This is no longer just about traveling, this is my spiritual journey, my personal pilgrimage...

... and it has been my true epiphany.