Poetry @ 10

29 10 2008

KIDS DO tend to outgrow us the older generation nowadays. They simply grow up too fast, I think. Take my 10-year old daughter for instance, who is getting taller than her age — a tennis player, ballerina, swimmer and pianist-extraordinaire all rolled into one.

And lately she seems to have a knack for poetry. When I was her age, I was just starting to learn the most basic English phrases: “My name is Peace.”; “Her name is Love.”; “His name is Kindness.”; “How are you?”; “Good morning!”; “Good afternoon!”; “Good Evening!”; “I am fine, thank you.”

My little princess Ballerina who’s now in Primary Four has already penned her poetry in motion below:

“My Own Poem — Colours

Red is the colour of anger

welling up inside of me.

Orange is the colour of fun,

and all my happy energy.

Yellow is the colour of the sun,

which makes me feel happy and warm.

Green is the colour of giggles, laughs and life.

Exciting and dangerous.

Blue is the colour of calm and cool,

like wading gently in a swimming pool.

Purple is the colour of creative ideas,

crayons, paint and pencils.

Pink is the colour of love, kisses and hopeful wishes.

Although black lacks the brightness of other colours,

it gives you a sense of mystery.

Colours describe how we feel everyday and

it expresses what we feel inside.”

Like father, like daughter? 😉  I don’t know much about my poetic skills but at this budding age, my growing up baby girl may just one day be Brunei’s answer to Emily Dickinson, Emily Bronte of old or new age poet Maya Angelou, to name but a few. Maybe, just maybe her affinity for English runs in the family. Her elder brother has been scoring High Distinctions in ICAS (Australian) English competitions for many consecutive years while my daughter scored her second consecutive Distinction in International Australian English Test this year.

Unlike her eldest and only brother who still hasn’t really made up his mind about his ambition, my lovely daughter has all along always wanted to become a doctor. So I told her it’s a great noble profession but in order to take up a degree in medicine, she has to study all the much harder… 🙂

I’d be a damned idiotic dad not to be proud of my only God-given ‘wealth and fortune’ I possess now i.e. my son and daughter. They may still have a real long way to go before they could reach the ‘Ivory Tower’ in their academic pursuits, it is good for me to know that my bright kids with a bright future are much smarter than their poor old man who was a total failure, academically… 😦 



Generation Gap

26 10 2008

FUNNY HOW I just realise that my 14-year old son is sitting for his “Peperiksaan Menengah Bawah” (PMB) i.e Lower Secondary or junior high school exams this month. Compared to my school days some three decades ago when in Form 3, I had sat for the equivalent Brunei Junior Certificate of Examination (BJCE) and I was already 16 then.

At sixteen years of age, I was worried of how I could help my late father make ends meet since we came from a very poor family. After BJCE exams, I went on my own to the Labour Department to look for jobs. The kind and understanding Senior Labour Officer advised me to continue with my studies and turned me away.

My family is still poor now but to leave school and to help me earn extra money is the last thing my son would ever think of doing right now. Anyway, I will never ever approve of him dropping out of school! 😦

My teen-aged hero is now in a dilemma, ambition-wise. When he was in primary school, he said that he wanted to be an architect. As he entered high school, he was into the diplomatic kind of career aspirations and hoped to major in International Relations once he enrols in a university degree course (he even sounded so confident!). But now, he’s contemplating to become an engineer so I advised him to take up either Mechanical or Chemical or Process Engineering. I said to him he has to excel in his Maths, Physics and Chemistry at ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels in the next four years, though. Then he confided to me that he’s sort of interested in  becoming a geologist, too. I simply told him: “Que Sera, Sera, whatever will be, will be… without hard work nowadays, nothing comes easy!” 😉

Children these days are much wiser and more knowledgeable than we were when we were their age. It shows in their thinking and how they write their essays in particular. I don’t think I could ever express myself as good as today’s younger generation of kids. Take my son’s essay below as an example:

My Dream House

Have you ever dreamt about having your own house? It’s not a rented house, but a house of your own. I know I have. Whenever I see beautiful houses on television, I say to myself, “One day, when I have the time and money, I’ll design my very own dream house.”

A house is a private sanctuary where one can relax and spend time with loved ones. In my opinion, a house also expresses its owner’s tastes and personality. It means that a house made of glass shows that its owner is modern and full of innovative ideas. In the same way, a wooden house shows that its owner likes the simple life and is in touch with nature.

My dream house would be made of bricks, concrete and glass. I’m the type of person who likes to mix the old with the new. I’d love to have floor-to-ceiling windows so that I’d be able to get sweeping views of the sea, the countryside or maybe even the city, depending on where I choose to build my house.

I’d design my house in a European fashion. Which part of Europe? I myself cannot decide. I fell in love with European culture because Europe is so diverse in its languages, history and even music. Perhaps I can model my house after a Victorian mansion, a French ‘maison’ or a Spanish ‘casa’.

One room that I must have in my dream house is a library because I have a deep passion for literature. It would resemble the lavish library in the “Beauty and the Beast” film. It would have floor-to-ceiling windows so that the room would be illuminated with sunlight during the day and a grand chandelier for night-time. The bookshelves would be so high that a ladder would be needed to reach the top shelf. This is where I would house my prized collection of books and souvenirs.

My dream house would also have a grand kitchen and dining room for my mother whose passion is the culinary arts. I would include a large window near the nook so that my mother would have a beautiful view of the gardens while she chops fresh vegetables for dinner. For my father, I would build a cosy den complete with a couple of comfortable sofas and armchairs. It would be a great place for him to enjoy his pastime, reading newspapers and watching television while sipping a cup of freshly-brewed coffee. That would be a wonderful scene, wouldn’t it?

I’d also include a music room in my dream house where I’d play enchanting melodies composed by my favourite musicians, Chopin and Beethoven, on a black grand piano. It’d have beige marble tiles and a dance floor for people to dance on as I tickle the ivories on the piano. An extravagant staircase would lead into this ballroom. I can imagine couples dressed to the nines descending down them as I’m writing this. That would be a beautiful sight at a party.

I know that what I’m writing might sound a little over the top but everyone has a dream, right? Whatever my dream house turns out to be like, I want to make sure that it reflects my fun-loving personality. This is because a house is where the best memories of one’s life are often made. Remember the saying, “Home is where the heart is.” 🙂

And all this while, I thought that my teenage kid is still a little boy who needs me to do everything for him… 😉 There are still lots of things that any father has to understand what goes on in a teenager’s mind. I guess one of the ways to try to narrow the generation gap between parents and their kids is to befriend them. 🙂



Time does fly… but in which direction?

20 10 2008

TIME FLIES! In a couple of months, January 2009 will say goodbye to December 2008

In my honest opinion (IMHO), time is created to be the guiding factor in worldly life

IMHO, time has no sense of direction and neither does it know where to go

IMHO, time stands still but it moves itself in parallel along with the sun

IMHO, time is just that – only time to tell when will one really die?

In a nano, seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries

In one century, so many wars have broken out but no one knows who had won

In one decade, millions of humans have been born into this universal world

In one year, so many things have been happening for better or for worse

In one month, there are 31 days or less of unachievable objectives

In one week, there are seven days but only five days of working

In one day, how many times do humans really pray to God?

In one hour, there is only so much that can be achieved

In one minute, 60 seconds of fun come and go

In one second, worries keep on adding up

In a nano, life can be replaced by death

The direction to death is inevitably clear and time knows not when

When the Angel of Death comes no one can be ready for it

Not me, not you, not those people who have died before

Death comes when one least expected it to come by

That is how time and death co-exists in spirit

The soul takes off and goes into thin air

Spirit and soul cry without tears shed

The spirit stays put in one direction

The soul departs for its destination.


“Sepasang Kurung Biru”

19 10 2008

I have failed miserably in my endeavour to seek forgiveness from all close relatives, friends and colleagues during this year’s Hari Raya festivity (still 10 more days to go before the month of Syawal ends, though).

The heavier side of Raya-go-rounds and eat-till-you-drop Open Houses took its toll on me last week when my blood pressure shot up, followed by flu and fever and now my incessant coughs have been keeping me wide awake for the past few nights! 😦  Ah well, illnesses can be tests from the Almighty as one of God’s mysterious ways to cleanse anyone of His creature’s sins… Ameen! 🙂

The lighter side of Aidil Fitri was listening to Malay Hari Raya songs! 😉 Days before the Eid Mubarak, my younger colleagues in the office had been dishing out evergreen Hari Raya tunes from S. Jibeng’s oldest hit, “Musafir di Hari Raya” to the late Sudirman’s “Balik Kampung” and Allahyarham Tan Sri P. Ramlee’s “Dendang Perantau”, etc. But one really touching song that caught my ears was called, “Sepasang Kurung Biru” (or literally – “A pair of blue dress”). I know the title of the song has no direct connotation to Hari Raya but the sombre music and meaningful lyrics had me flabbergasted in the sense that how could I have not known about this great tune all these years? I hadn’t a clue as to who was the actual singer/songwriter…

Until I spent one of my sickening and laziest Sundays yesterday and watched Astro Prima around 10 in the morning. Lo and behold! One of the Malay entertainer-Divas, my all-time favorite Anita Sarawak, hosted her own show called “Kwek Mambo Anita Sarawak Raya Special”. And guess what? One of her Guest Artistes was the composer, song-writer and singer of that ‘killing me softly’ song, “Sepasang Kurung Biru”.

His name is Professor Madya (Associate Prof) Khairil Johari Johar, a young music lecturer in one of the Malaysian universities. I was indeed very glad to have watched that TV program yesterday. When interviewed by Anita, the singing lecturer related how the inspiration for him to compose that song came about early dawn after “Sahur” one fine day during the Fasting month of 1986. The lyrics had been created by Hafsah Hassan who is one of the most prolific and creative song lyricists in Malaysia with hundreds of songs under her belt and many years of experience behind her. In my honest opinion, it wasn’t just any Hari Raya song but  Khairil’s inspiration may have come from the Angels of the morning, one never can tell, right? 🙂

Whatever it is, this touchy-mushy number does give me goosebumps (not in a scary way but spiritually or much closer to the heart thingy)… 😉

~~~“Tiada salam atau ucapan
Tiada pesan tanda ingatan
Suasana penuh keriangan
Ku teringat pada seseorang

Di hari yang berbahgia ini
Hatiku kosong dan sepi sekali
Betapa manis kenangi lalu
Menyambut raya bersama denganku

( korus )
Tiada bisikan lembut yang ku dengar
Hanya suara azan sayup bergema
Masih kurasakan hangat tanganmu
Di pagi raya bersalam dengan ku

Tetamu datang tetamu pergi
Namun tak tiba orang ku nanti
Hanya sepasang kurung nan biru
Menjadi teman mengubat rindu ku

( ulang korus )~~~~

http://video.filestube.com/video,30168e54b394451803ea.html (www.youtube.com)


ASEAN nation to watch – Indonesia

15 10 2008

AND A GREAT leader the Indonesians have in President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) who has just offered to mediate in the ongoing border rift between Cambodia and Thailand! 🙂 BRAVO General SBY! Way to go! 🙂

Amidst brewing political uncertainty in Thailand and Malaysia, an economic giant to emerge from within the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will undoubtedly be the Republic of Indonesia.

I am no political and economics analyst but the way I look at how stoic Indonesian President SBY has weathered through the natural calamities and disasters which have befallen the country over the years he has been in power has indeed been both courageous and admirable. Most impressive was his cool handling of the Aceh Tsunami catastrophe and the earthquake on Java island, one after another a few years ago. Both tragedies had left hundreds of thousands of people dead and millions homeless.

Now, if such extreme presidential tests were the mysterious works of the Almighty, then it could only mean one thing… Indonesia, with SBY to win re-election again in next year’s General Elections or PEMILU, will soar to much greater heights as God-given rewards for the Indonesians’ patience and resilience.

In fact, SBY’s own choice of his running mate, Vice-President Jusuf Kalla (JK) who heads one of only two largest political parties in the country i.e. Golkar will only strengthen his position and chances of being re-elected as the President of Indonesia. His closest contender in next year’s PEMILU is the leader of the other biggest party, PDI-P, former president Megawati Sukarnoputri. However, the SBY-KJ combination looks most likely to be a winning one. A strong Indonesian leadership is vital in facing the current gloomy outlook.

Below is an early political analysis as published in the Jakarta Post recently:

Bahtiar Effendy, Jakarta

For the public, it was neither surprising nor highly anticipated. But for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono it was necessary that he reveals his intention to participate in the upcoming presidential election.

As pressure mounted, with potential and in fact impossible presidential hopefuls beginning to sell themselves through television ads, billboards and roadside banners, President Yudhoyono had to disclose his candidacy once again for the top position in the country for the 2009-2014 period.

Knowing he was still the strongest contender, with Megawati Soekarnoputri close behind him, there was no way he could pass up this very opportunity. So there it was, the politics of silence was broken.

The announcement was hardly surprising. It only confirmed public perception that he would contest the presidency. What was surprising was the mention of Vice President Jusuf Kalla as his likely running mate. Equally surprising was Kalla’s response, which was highly positive. Reflecting on the past four years of working with Yudhoyono, he said he was happy and comfortable to be entrusted by the people to work with the President.

What should we make of this political exchange — knowing their leadership has often been plagued by seemingly irreconcilable differences in form and substance? All things considered, Yudhoyono’s statement and Kalla’s response were indeed a shrewd and calculated political move. With such a political exchange, they kept their options open.

A presidential candidacy is not something declared by an individual or organization. Only a political party, or a coalition of parties, that wins a certain amount of votes in the parliamentary election has the right to nominate a candidate to contest the office of president.

To date, the presidential election law — under which the 2009 election will be regulated — is nonexistent. A special committee in parliament is still assigned to it, ironing out a number of crucial points. One of them is the percentage of votes (or collective votes) required by a party (or a coalition) to secure the right to nominate a presidential candidate.

Considering the ongoing debate over this issue, there is a strong possibility that the minimum percentage will increase. In the last election, the figure was only 5 percent, therefore many parties, including Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, nominated their own candidates without support from other (smaller) parties.

For the upcoming election, there is a good chance the minimum percentage will be in the range of 15 to 30 percent. Medium-sized parties such as the National Mandate Party (PAN), the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the United Development Party (PPP) and the National Awakening Party (PKB) are comfortable with the range of 15 to 20 percent. Bigger parties like the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Golkar Party are proposing a larger figure, between 25 to 30 percent.

Should the 15 or 20 percent figures become the cutoff point, the likelihood is that only Golkar and the PDI-P will be able to nominate a candidate without support from other parties. Yudhoyono’s party, on the other hand, would have to form a coalition.

This is where the mention of Jusuf Kalla fits in. With it, Yudhoyono is trying to secure a possible partnership with Golkar. Of course, he could always foster a coalition with other parties, such as the PKS, the PPP, the PAN or even the PKB, to ensure his nomination.

As the chairman of the largest party, it would be logical for Kalla to have his eye on the presidency. In addition, he is also seen as a capable person who can get things done. The Aceh peace deal was certainly one of his signature achievements. Because of these qualities, many want to see him in that position.

Surprisingly, however, his chances of becoming the No. 1 are low, as reflected in a series of surveys. His numbers have never gone beyond the 3 percent mark. The fact that to date Golkar has not yet decided on its presidential candidate can only lead one to speculate that it may well be influenced by these disheartening numbers.

If this is the case, Kalla’s future political position is actually in the balance. This is where the merit of Yudhoyono’s offer lies. It is an opportunity Kalla can exploit to ensure his continued service to the nation.

Other than the above analysis, one can always argue that there is nothing else for either Yudhoyono or Kalla, other than to engage in precisely such an exchange. There is no way the former would announce his intention to run again and not offer Kalla the deputy role. Similarly, it would be impossible for Kalla to reject the offer.

If Yudhoyono had offered the vice presidential position to someone else, or if Kalla had rejected the offer, one could only imagine where the country would go in the next six or seven months.

So, besides the political shrewdness of the move, it also has the dimensions of the politics of being polite.”


London calls the shots!

14 10 2008

THE LORD MAYOR of London was in town over the weekend… and Bruneian intellectuals and top economists did not bother to attend a half-day forum in Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) in which His Excellency Alderman David Lewis gave his keynote address last Monday (October 13, 2008). Only a handful of interested audience were present… 😦

The Lord Mayor, who is also the United Kingdom’s Ambassador for Financial Services, touched on a number of crucial issues vis-a-vis current global credit crisis during his short, punchy speech. He also kindly suggested that Brunei ought to become a ‘tax-haven’ already as an International Offshore Financial Centre, given the solid political stability and the Abode of Peace as a truly peaceful country, amongst other advantages. 🙂

Incidentally, on that day one of the world’s leading economics gurus, Professor Paul Krugman of Princeton University in New York was awarded the Nobel Prize for economics science. And even he has praises for London ‘Economy 101’ school of thoughts:

In his New York Times Op-Ed column (published October 12 2008), Paul Krugman, rhetorically asked:

“Has Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, saved the world financial system?

O.K., the question is premature — we still don’t know the exact shape of the planned financial rescues in Europe or for that matter the United States, let alone whether they’ll really work. What we do know, however, is that Mr. Brown and Alistair Darling, the chancellor of the Exchequer (equivalent to our Treasury secretary), have defined the character of the worldwide rescue effort, with other wealthy nations playing catch-up.

This is an unexpected turn of events. The British government is, after all, very much a junior partner when it comes to world economic affairs. It’s true that London is one of the world’s great financial centers, but the British economy is far smaller than the U.S. economy, and the Bank of England doesn’t have anything like the influence either of the Federal Reserve or of the European Central Bank. So you don’t expect to see Britain playing a leadership role.

But the Brown government has shown itself willing to think clearly about the financial crisis, and act quickly on its conclusions. And this combination of clarity and decisiveness hasn’t been matched by any other Western government, least of all our own…”


Honestly speaking, what do I know about economics, anyways? 😉


Neighbourly row only

13 10 2008

I MAY BE travelling to Cambodia in December. I have been to only five ASEAN countries before and it will be my first time to visit Phnom Penh in a couple of months’ time. But I am quite surprised to find out about the latest news on border tensions between Thailand and Cambodia. I got the BBC News link below:

Cambodian military police officers patrol past a famed temple of Preah Vihear, Aug 2008

Cambodia’s decision to ask for Unesco status sparked tensions

“Cambodia’s military says that Thai troops have pulled back from a disputed border zone after its prime minister issued an ultimatum.

There was no immediate Thai confirmation of the reports which came shortly before the Cambodian deadline was due to expire.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had warned of a potential “battle zone”.

Earlier, Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat reportedly said that troops would not leave the area.

Singapore’s foreign ministry has reportedly called for both countries to show restraint and “resolve the issue through negotiations without resorting to force”.

Tension has been high since July, when hundreds of soldiers on both sides faced off only metres apart.

Temple tensions

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had given Thailand until noon (0500 GMT) to pull out its troops but did not say what would be the consequences of failing to do so.


Cambodian army commander Brig Gen Yim Pin later said that all Thai troops had retreated and were about 1km (half a mile) from the contested territory.

He told the Associated Press that the “tense situation [had] now eased”.

Thailand’s foreign minister was quoted by Reuters news agency on Tuesday as telling a reporter in Bangkok: “We are in our homeland – how can they expect us to leave our home?”

The stand-off between the two countries centres on 4.6 sq km (1.8 square miles) of scrub near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple, which sits on a jungle-clad escarpment dividing the countries.

An international court awarded the temple to Cambodia in 1962, but land surrounding it remains the subject of rival territorial claims.

The decision by the UN in June to list Preah Vihear as a Unesco World Heritage Site reignited lingering nationalist tensions over the issue.

In early July Cambodian troops detained three Thai protesters who had entered the site illegally, sparking the military stand-off.

The two sides have already held several rounds of talks on the issue, but failed to reach agreement.”

Well, well, I pray for mutual sensibilities and good feelings of neighbourliness between the two feuding nations or else I may have to cancel my travel plan to Cambodia this year. My Air Asia ticket have been paid for online, though, and low cost fare means non-refundable. Oh what the heck, I will just go (Insya Allah). After all, the great ASEAN spirit is PEACE at all costs, isn’t it? 😉

Besides, what’s the worst case scenario of a minor territorial dispute over less than two square miles of land? Let Peace, Love and Kindness settle the score once and for all… 🙂