Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Other World Story - Love Of The Dead

"Engkau nak balik tengok anak?" Mak Maznah asked the lady with flowing hair who was sitting on her own graveyard. 

It was around 7pm and the mother of four had just been buried hours earlier. 
She died of birth complication. 
Although her baby survived the ordeal, she lost too much blood to live on. 

"Sapa engkau cakap tu Nah?" Her grandmother was curious seeing the teenager (then) talking. 

"Orang yang mati tadi. Kesian dia, Nek." She explained to her grandmother as she pointed outside through the ajar window at her kitchen overlooking the plot of cemetery at Pasir Panjang not far from Haw Par Villa.

The grandmother spared no time. 
She quickly went to the dead lady's house informing the husband what had just happened. 
The husband, with his father, went to the graveyard and performed some religious ritual that very night. 

From then on, nothing of the similar incident happened again.

Hard for me to believe the story related by my elderly neighbour although I knew she's not lying.
She had told me many other stories which, if she is able to write and with memories still fresh, can be compiled into short stories of the unseen world.

But as I read today's Star, how the story likened.


Unbearable loss: A family member (right) consoling H’ng during the funeral in Bukit Mertajam.
Tuesday September 28, 2010 - Teen Spirits ‘Visit’ Daughter Every Night 
THE spirits of a teenage couple killed in an accident recently has been “visiting” their daughter every night since the incident, a Taoist monk has told the family, according to Sin Chew Daily.
Teh Boh Yi, 19, and his wife Khor Lee Mui, 17, who married eight months ago, were travelling in a multi-purpose vehicle with three friends when a lorry slammed into the car, causing it to spin at the middle span of the Penang Bridge before crashing.

Baby orphan: A family member holding Chloe during her parents’ funeral yesterday. Photos: The Star

“The monk told us that my son and daughter-in-law came back to our house every night but they could no longer hold their baby Chloe.
“No wonder after their funeral, Chloe was always laughing while lying on her bed as though someone was playing with her,” said Khor’s mother.
She also urged the road users, especially youngsters, not to speed on the roads.

'Facing' The Tumour

Monday September 7, 2009
Surgical Relief - By S.S. Yoga
HAVING a 90kg tumour wrapped like a boa constrictor around your stomach and back seems like a horrible nightmare. For  Lori Hoogewind,  a mother of two from Michigan, this was true life. She was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis (NF) in May of 1999 and by December, the tumour had grown to that size.
According to doctors then, it was probably the biggest tumour they had ever seen for that condition. It took a serious of highly dangerous operations to remove the tumour; she would have lost her life otherwise as the tumour was leaching her blood and food supply.
Most doctors here in Malaysia do not want to undertake any dangerous procedures to remove the tumours for cosmetic reasons. Plastic surgeon Dr Alizan Abdul Khalil says some patients with extensive facial/neck tumours or lesions would seek advice to remove them.
Neurofibromatosis patient  Huang Chuncai  eating in his ward in a Guangzhou hospital in Guangdong province, after the largest of his tumours, which weighed 15kg, was surgically removed in this August 2007 file photo. Huang, who was then 31, used to have to live with a facial tumour that weighed as much as 23kg.
“Removing NF is like ‘drying a roof-top when it is raining’ which means, it is fruitless and impractical. The lesion will grow back and patients who had their lesion removed will have scars all over. The only role for surgery is when the lesion itself grows and is impinging on a vital structure such as the spinal cord or nerves,” advises Dr Alizan.
NF is a genetic disorder of the nervous system which causes tumours (or neurofibromas) to form on the nerves anywhere in the body. It affects all ethnic groups and both genders equally. It is an inherited disease and is not contagious. It is estimated that 50% of the cases are the result of spontaneous genetic mutation.
There is no known cure though the reason for it has been identified. A gene that produces a protein called neurofibromin undergoes mutation. This results in too little or zero production of neurofibromin. This protein actually acts like a kind of brake on cell division and if the “brake” is faulty, it means the cells will keep on multiplying. Hence the tumour keeps on growing.
Malaysian student Yvonne Foong, 22, has neurofibromatosis type II, which has severely affected her sight and hearing due to tumours in the brain and spine.
Normally these tumours are benign but in some cases they can turn cancerous. The symptoms for NF are varied and can occur in varying degrees, too. Some of the symptoms might indicate other conditons but if one has two or more of the symptoms, it is likely that one has NF.
There are two types of NF. NF1 occurs as cafe-au-lait spots and bumps (six or more is a danger sign) under the skin or even nodules that protrude above (many of which require no treatment), or freckles in the armpits and groin, while for others it can be bone deformities, or even blindness.
NF2 involves tumours in the brain, spine and peripheral nerves and can lead to facial paralysis, deafness, partial blindness, and poor balance.
Both Hong Siew Hui and Tan Kia Khim have NF1.
Trials and research are being done to look at drugs to control the cellular growth and check if cancer treatments can be used.

Source: Children’s Tumor Foundation (www.ctf.org) and Neurofibromatosis Inc (www.nfinc.org). - The Star


Monday September 7, 2009

A Life They Can Face - By S.S. YOGA and G.C. TAN
They are a model of courage, spunk and tenacity as they take adversity in their stride.
ONCE in a while, we come across an individual who reminds us of how grateful we should be for what we have. Hong Siew Hui and Tan Kia Khim are two such individuals. Despite living with a disfigurement for a good part of their lives, the spirited duo display a tenacity and strength of character that will take them far.
Hong and Tan have a condition called neurofibromatosis (NF), in which large tumours grow on the face. Most people associate NF with  Joseph "Elephant Man" Merrick,  an Englishman born in 1862. Merrick was treated as a freak most of his life and ended up as a sideshow attraction. He was befriended by a surgeon and became a permanent resident of London’s Whitechapel Hospital. He died at age 27.
When we met up with Tan, 28, at his home in a rented unit above a shophouse in Kampung Berjaya, Alor Setar, he had just woken up and was still drowsy. But pretty soon he was all smiles and opened up easily.
Brave heart: Tan Kia Khim before his surgery in 2006 in Guangzhou, China, to remove his face tumour.
“Life was just the usual, you just deal with it,” he said, when asked about his childhood days.
However, he remembered the bullying he endured in primary school. “They hit me with a ruler, pulled my hair, shot at me with rubber bands. They called me char siew pau (barbecued pork dumpling) and ghost.”
Children can be cruel and the taunts and bullying continued into secondary school.
“But there were a lot of students who were my friends and all of my teachers were nice to me, except one, who asked me what I would do after SPM since I didn’t have a brain and couldn’t think properly,” recalled Tan, whose parents run an “economy rice” stall at a coffeeshop.
Hong, 21, who also hails from Alor Setar, was more stoic in approach when we spoke to her at her single-storey terrace family home in Taman Bersatu, Simpang Empat, Kedah.
“In school there were a lot of naughty pupils who passed all kinds of remarks. I just ignored them. There’s no need to cry over it; it won’t solve any problems. It’s not like you can change anything.”
Tan during his kindergarten days. – Pictures by G.C. TAN and courtesy of Tan Kia Khim
She added that the teachers never knew about the teasing and she never thought of complaining to them.

Hope Comes
The year 2006 marked a turning point in their lives. Both were given the chance to have their tumours removed. Hong had a growth of about 3kg covering most of the left side of her face, including the left eye, most of the nose and mouth.
Tan’s tumour was relatively smaller, starting from the left eye, disfiguring the nose and pulling down the mouth.
Hong first attracted media attention after her SPM results came out in 2006. “Actually, my SPM results were not really fantastic, but they exceeded my expectations,” she said. She scored 1A in Mathematics, her favourite subject, a 3B, two 4Bs and a 5C.
One of the newspaper reports which featured Hong was sent to Prof Xu Ke Cheng, president of Fuda Cancer Hospital in Guangzhou, China, which has carried out many successful procedures on NF patients.
Prof Xu initiated contact and flew down in April, 2006, to assess her condition.
Prior to the visit, her parents, padi farmer Hong Wah and home-maker Goh Jit Yang were reluctant for her to undergo any operation.
“Doctors in Alor Setar and Penang had told us that the condition could not be treated or the operation would be highly risky, so why take the risk?” said Hong in an earlier interview.
Tan, too, concurred that doctors in Penang and Alor Setar had discouraged him from removing his tumour.
After speaking with Prof Xu, Hong and her family changed their minds and agreed to go ahead with the procedure to remove the tumour. At the press conference to announce this, a member of the press who knew of Tan’s case brought him along. He was excited to meet someone who had the same condition as him. As it turned out, Prof Xu had a quick look at Tan and said his tumour was more easily operable.
Tan had no hesitation about going through with the operation. “Why should I turn down the chance to look handsome?” he quipped, flashing a beaming smile.
Meanwhile, the Kedah Chinese Assembly Hall (KCAH) had initiated a donation campaign with the co-operation of the Chinese Press (and others like The Star) for the duo to be sent to Fuda. The collection raked in close to RM360,000 and in May 2006, Hong and Tan were flown to Guangzhou. The hospital had waived many of the charges and provided free room and board for the entourage. Tan was accompanied by his father while Hong’s mother kept her company.
In June of that year, both of them underwent surgery – Hong first followed by Tan the next day. Tan’s operation was done in two hours, while Hong’s was spread out over several months as her case was more complicated.
A team of 14 surgeons worked on her. It was apparently the biggest and most challenging operation in the history of the hospital.
One of the procedures undertaken was cryosurgery, a technique where extreme cold (below -160°C) was used to destroy tumours.
After the tumours were removed, both had to undergo plastic surgery to reconstruct parts of their faces.
Tan returned home in mid-July that year, while Hong stayed back for more follow-ups. Tan returned to Fuda in November for cosmetic surgery and both eventually flew home on Dec 12. In March 2007, both went back to the hospital for more follow-ups.

New Chapter
Hong’s tumour started out with a pretty big bump on her face, and grew over the years. At the age of six, she had some semblance of sight in her left eye which was not enveloped by the growth yet.
“Now I’m so glad that I don’t have to carry all that weight around. Before I could not even use a crash helmet but now I can. Oh, and I don’t have to wear loose T-shirts now,” she says with a big grin on her face.
Her mother seems to display symptoms of someone who has NF as she has small bumps and cafe-au-lait spots all over her face and body. Her father has misshapened legs, which are sometimes a sign of the condition.
Phases of life: Hong Siew Hui’s mother Goh Jit Yang looking at the scars on her face after surgery.-Pictures by G.C. TAN and courtesy of Hong Siew Hui
Hong is the youngest of four siblings. Her brother, Theng Yau, 24, has a small tumour on the right side of his neck. A few months ago, he had it surgically removed in Alor Setar.
As for Tan, his father has cafe-au-lait spots and a few bumps so chances are he has the condition, too. His mother and three younger siblings do not have any sign of the condition. Tan’s tumour developed when he was still a baby.
Hong now spends most of her time on her studies. She is a diploma student at Politeknik Sultan Abdul Halim (Polimas) in Jitra, and expects to complete her three-year accountancy course early next year.
“I have had no problems there. Everyone is my friend. In fact, I’ve just finished doing my practical at (KCAH president) Mr Cheng Lai Hock’s accounting office. It was good training for me,” she beamed.
Hong with her brother Theng Yau playing outside their house in Simpang Empat, Kedah, during their childhood days.-Pictures by G.C. TAN and courtesy of Hong Siew Hui
Tan is still working for the same understanding and caring employer (as he puts it). Before surgery, he was working as a coffee-shop assistant but his boss closed shop and opened up a mini-convenience store. Tan is an assistant manager of sorts at the store.
Some people have the knack of making friends and Tan is one of them. He proved so popular with the hospital staff and media in Guangzhou that they flew him back last year for press interviews that even took him to Beijing.
The gregarious and genial young man spends his free time hanging out with friends.
The future is looking bright for Tan and Hong as they look forward to Prof Xu’s visit to Alor Setar this Thursday to check on their progress. - The Star

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Maid Story - The Home-Wrecker

Maids In Singapore (6)

For 8 years, the couple paid a monthly installment of S$1,000 for their terrace house in Bukit Indah in JB.
In a couple of years time, the second home, their weekend house, will be fully paid.

But a twist of an event took place:
The husband had run away with their maid and is now staying in Batam.

The wife, a staff nurse in one of the hospital in Singapore, was not aware that their maid and her husband were having an amorous affair for many years until he disappeared for good.

The wife was at lost:
Having no helper and left with three school going kids to look after single-handedly.

Not to add more financial woes to her already tight budget, she returned the terrace house back to the bank, after 'giving' the bank close to S$100,000.
Such a price to pay for a man's folly and a maid's joy.

Sad to say, I had just known it yesterday during my Aidilfitri visit although I had always reminded relatives, friends and those who intended and wanted to buy property over here, please... for goodness sake, valuation for properties purchased here is not the same as in Singapore.

All the furnitures was given to another Singaporean's son who had just bought a house in Johor Jaya in JB.
With the renovation added, probably another S$100,000 went down the drain.

***** ****** ******

By Zubaidah Nazeer

Mon Sep 20, 2010  

I Saw My Maid Hugging My Hubby In Bed
They are linked by marriage but live in separate homes.
But now, an elderly woman and her daughter-in-law claim to share a common
fate in the disintegration of their marriages.
Both women point the finger at the same "home-wrecker" - an Indonesian maid.
The elderly woman, Madam Sarah, 65, took out a personal protection order
(PPO) against her son for allegedly assaulting her when she confronted the
Her daughter-in-law, Madam Lisa, 35, claims her 10-year marriage to Madam
Sarah's son was abusive from the start, but things got worse when the maid
started working for them.
She claimed that she caught her husband in their bed with the maid one day.
The couple are now divorced while Madam Sarah is planning to file for divorce
from her husband, who is also 65.

All the names have been changed to protect the identity of the younger couple's 
three-year-old child.

She said she knew that her husband was someone who would get drunk and
become violent.
She married him anyway, thinking she could change him.
Within their first year of marriage, she went to court to successfully apply for a
PPO against Mr David.
The violence, in the form of slaps, punches and hair-pulling, continued, and each
time Madam Lisa would return to her mother's place to complain.
She told The New Paper:
"I didn't want to have a baby all these years because I feared he would be violent.
I was pregnant in 2002 but aborted it."
Said Madam Lisa's sister:
"None of us wanted her to marry this man.
Not even my mother, but she kept insisting she was in love."
Agreeing, her mother said:
"I prayed for her not to marry this person.
We had heard about his behaviour from his relatives."
She added:
"He has too much drama.
Once, when Lisa returned to our home, he appeared outside our flat and said he
had drunk Dettol and dropped on the floor in self-pity.
"I kept telling her not to go back but she would do so after two or three weeks."
Then, in the middle of last year, Madam Lisa employed an Indonesian maid, who
was recommended by her husband's friend.
About two weeks later, she went home around 5pm and saw Mr David behaving inappropriately with the maid.
"I saw them on the bed, he was without a shirt and she was hugging him.
Once he saw me, he pushed the maid away."
They argued and he pulled out the telephone line and took her handphone, she
Two days later, they argued again after he was unhappy that she was
exchanging SMSes with her male friends.
She claimed he punched her on the right arm and pulled her hair.
He also scolded her with vulgarities.
Four days later, they quarrelled again over the SMS incident.
She said:
"He used both hands to choke me and I shouted for my maid to help but she did
not come out of her room."
Her husband then released his grip on her neck and told her that he was taking
her to his mother's house.
They went there with the maid and their child.
Said Madam Sarah:
"My son came to complain to me about Lisa.
He said she was having boyfriends.
I was on his side because I had no idea what was going on in their marriage
and I told him to talk it out."
Mr David then left with the maid and their child in a taxi.
Madam Lisa called a friend and stayed with her for a night.
She then moved to a shelter for women for seven weeks.
During her time there, she reflected on her life, got advice and gathered the
confidence to walk out on her marriage.
She also made a police report, which she showed to The New Paper, about the
above incidents.
After leaving the shelter, she went back to retrieve her child, accompanied by the
"The padlock on the gate had been changed and we got a locksmith to break it.
The maid ignored me when I took my child," she said.
Madam Lisa, who now lives with a relative, wants to put her past behind her.
She said:
"My child has gone through so much trauma.
I realise that even having a child has not tamed my husband's violence."

Her problems began early this year when her son moved into her flat with the
"I was all right with him moving in after his flat was sold.
He was going through a bitter separation and divorce with his wife," she said.
But she found it odd that he moved in with the maid.
Madam Sarah, who still works, said:
"I pitied him because of the marriage breakdown but I also wondered why he
brought the maid along.
I told him I didn't need a maid but he said she could help with the housework."
In a matter of months, she was facing verbal and physical abuse from her son
and husband.
She made three police reports against her son and one against her husband.
She also wrote a letter to the Indonesian embassy in February to plead for the
maid to be returned, saying she did not need her and that she had ruined her
The New Paper saw the reports and the letter.
She claimed the men would often get drunk and hangout with the maid.
They would abuse and beat her when she questioned their behaviour.
One serious incident occurred in March.
In her police report,Madam Sarah said she used her mobile phone to take a
picture of the maid after the latter returned home around 5am with the two
The maid complained to Mr David who then grabbed the phone from her, threw
it on the floor and punched her on the face.
"I was frightened for my life.
I did not expect such a violent reaction," she said.
She then obtained a PPO against her son on July 15.
But this did not stop the violence, she said.
The latest incident occurred last month.
In a police report dated Aug 10, Madam Sarah said her son had questioned her
about meeting his ex-wife.
She said:
"He thought I was scheming with his wife.
I met her to see my grandchild. I told her about my problems with my son."
Madam Sarah said she was worried about her safety and went to a police
station and called her older son.
She was persuaded to return home, where her younger son and husband
taunted her.
In her police report, she said they gestured to the beer bottle and then spat at her
She said she called the police after her husband and son beat her older son,
who had gone up to check on her.
She has moved out and is now staying with her daughter.
She has applied for a PPO against her husband.
She said of her son:
"When he told me of his problems at home and accused his wife of having a
boyfriend, I believed him."
"But I see clearly now that my son is the one to blame. He has treated me like
I have seen him hugging the maid and calling her 'darling'." 

"I didn't cheat on my wife'
No, I didn't hit my mother. Nor did I cheat on my wife.
This was what Mr David said when The New Paper contacted him yesterday.
The security guard claimed that accusations of his violence are false.
"They can make all these police reports but I have never hit my mother," he said.
His mother, Madam Sarah, has a court order granting her a Personal Protection
Order (PPO) against him for an incident in March.
His ex-wife also took out a PPO against him.
Mr David said that he was filing for a PPO against his mother for hitting him with
a shoe and hitting his leg in July.
He added:
"My mother has never been that way... making lots of police reports and taking
out a PPO... until my ex-wife came into the picture.
In fact, she hated my ex-wife.
"But now, I believe my ex-wife was the one that had instigated her.
"How can I hit her and beat her... my own mother?"
Asked about the two women's allegations about his having an affair with the
maid, he reiterated that his ex-wife hates him and has turned his mother
against him.
He said:
"Both of them are going around telling everybody that I am having an affair but
this is not true."
He said he had initiated the divorce because his wife had cheated on him.
He refused to comment further, apart from confirming that he has divorced his
When contacted, Mr David's father refused to comment or let us speak to the maid.

Mr Harry Low, a marriage counsellor, advises those who face family violence at
home to:
1. Have a safety plan and assess your risk.
2. Be aware of all the emergency contact numbers.
3. Have a mobile phone handy in case all residential lines have been
4. Get help from neighbours.
5. Apply for a Personal Protection Order.
6. If desperate, take refuge in a women's shelter and talk to counsellors there.
He said: "The most important thing is to realise that you should not hesitate to
seek help.
Often, the victims lack self-confidence or have low self-esteem and don't realise
they can break free from this cycle of violence.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Music And Umrah Syawal

An American  hip hop group,  Remarkable Current,  is now touring Indonesia since September 21 till October 1.

Its music and style of the group are unmistakably Western and no different from what one hears from other American hip hop groups. While the main focus of the music is urban, the artists are also influenced by Rock, Jazz, Opera and traditional World Music.

Remarkable Current is a passionate modern fusion of styles that represents blending - it's musical styles reflect the multi-faceted backgrounds of the artists.
With mission to be universal musical ambassadors - to unite people of all cultures, all ethnicities, all religious backgrounds, unlike other hip hop group, what sets RC apart is the spirituality that the group has introduced into its songs that is Islamic-American musical culture today. They have no fear to show their music and being Muslim.
Chants from the Islamic traditions are often infused into their performances.

The group that was founded in 2001 in California, from a group of friends in a basement to a nation-wide collaboration of artists and activists who share the same goal, to creatively shape the contemporary American Muslim identity and share it with the world community.
The group create an identity that is uniquely American and Muslim, and try to tell the world who they are.

Remarkable Current delivers tour de force performances from the Americas to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and now, South East Asia.
Its mission is to excel, to uplift and to inspire consisting of musicians, writers and producers who are bonded not only by their love for music and art but also by their shared Islamic-American tradition.

The founder, Anas Canon, was recently included in the first edition of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World (a publication of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talaal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding of Georgetown University).
He has worked with hundreds of gifted artists and released over 10 full-length albums that span close to a decade.

"Because our background, our primary focus is spirituality - it comes out in our music. But it's not a strategy, it's not a gimmick, it's not something we designed in order to have a certain effect."


Music, being a universal language that transcends all boundaries, was misunderstood by me.

A man, with Jamaican-styled hair, wearing his sloppy-look hat, was pushing the airport trolley loaded with luggage.
He was talking to the person-in-charge of our group.
Who was he sending off?

Until we entered the departure area, then I realised he's one of us.
But in rapper's attire to Mecca?
He confused me.

He talked very little while transit in Sri Lanka but nevertheless, he approached us volunteering to snap our photos many, many times.
Most of the time, he's either with his laptop or photographer's camera.
He chose to be alone in the hotel room in Medina.

Then on the 6th day, his hairstyle changed, all cropped up to almost bald.
It was the first time that we saw his bare head.
Prior to this, his head was covered with his sloppy-look hat all the time, but with hair neatly braided.

Suddenly, one day, he pulled a chair, sat opposite My Husband and I while we were having our dinner.
From casual talk, the subject went to his vanished hair.

He was performing his tahajjud prayer at around 2am in Masjidin Nabawi, when all of a sudden, a man around his 40s, who stood praying in-front of him, fall and was pronounced dead in-front of his very eyes.
It shook him a little, but not more.

After finishing his prayer, he went to Starbucks, opposite the Al-Majid Gate of the Prophet Mosque, which was at the ground floor of Oberoi Hotel, a 10-meter walk and adjacent to Masjidin Nabawi to get his cup of coffee.
As he was scrutinising the building, he saw a woman, her body covered by her long flowing hair, was standing at the ledge of a window of one of the Oberoi Hotel room, about the height of an eight-storey flat.

He was quick to give a hand signal, signalling and shouting to the lady to hold on, not to jump down.
But seconds later, her body, all covered with blood, laid in front of his very eyes.
Blood splattered on many other jema'ah too who were heading back to their room.
The Arabic newspaper reported that the woman, an Egyptian, was a doctor.
She was with umrah visa too.

The 2-death incidents in one night, less than an hour apart, was too much for him.
This time, it shook him a lot.
He did not sleep for a few nights until he vowed to start a new chapter in his life, thus initiated the new beginning with a new 'hair style'.
From then on, we get to know him better, erasing the negative thoughts of him.

He is happy that at last, he is able to make his mother happy with his new hair.
For many years, the lady had been nagging him of his hair.
To make his mother happier, he will be performing his umrah again, for the third time, some time next year, and this time, he will insist that his mother will be with him, together performing the umrah

Being a music composer, always in his own world, the surroundings did not bother him one tiny bit - nor his mother's nag.
He said whenever he performed his prayers in mosques, subuh especially, where jema'ah was only a handful, the imams will surely turned their heads more than twice for salams, while ending the prayers.

His outstanding hairstyle had distracted many imams and attracted many stares and curious looks from others who attended the mosques wherever he was.
With his lock of hair disappeared, it will once again attract another new kind of attention from imams and jema'ah where he usually perform his payers in mosques in and around Geylang area.

Despite his rapper style, he was often invited to give motivational and inspirational talk to secondary school teenagers and polytechnic students.
It hits the right note with students, saluting him for inviting them to his office somewhere in Lau Pa Sat.

Unlike me who spent a lot of free time watching interesting television programmes in the room, he spent most of his nights in mosques.

The last day of our stay in Mecca, he spent the whole of the last night in Mecca, holing himself i'tikaf in Masjidil Haram.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Latest Bus News

Photo: Straits Times

In their quarterly review of bus services, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and public transport operators announced yesterday that more buses have been added on 11 heavily utilised stretches bus services during peak periods.

In a joint statement, the LTA, SBS Transit and SMRT said SBS Transit has identified nine heavily-utilised bus services for improvement and that more double-deck buses have been deployed and additional bus trips have been added to these four services.
On another five, the operator will add additional bus trips.

SBS Transit will add more bus trips later this month, on Service 15.
SMRT will also be adding more buses and trips to two of its heavily utilised services.

It will also be launching a new express bus service 868 on Tuesday September 28 that will take commuters an hour to get to the city. The bus service will run from Bukit Batok to the heart of Central Business District (CBD), another travel option during the morning peak hours in about an hour.

The improved bus services are:
 5 - Pasir Ris Interchange-Bukit Merah Interchange
15 - Pasir Ris Interchange-Marine Parade Road (loop service)
17 - Pasir Ris Interchange-Bedok Interchange (loop service)
58 - Bishan Interchange-Pasir Ris Interchange
78 - Jurong East Interchange-Clementi Avenue 3 (loop service)
97 - Jurong East Interchange-Marina Centre Terminal
174 - Boon Lay Interchange-New Bridge Road Terminal
190 - Choa Chu Kang Interchange-New Bridge Road Terminal
240 - Boon Lay Interchange-Yung Ho Road (loop service)
410 - Bishan Interchange-Upper Thomson Road/ Sin Ming Avenue
856 - Yishun Interchange-Woodlands Regional Interchange


Seeing that the queue with 'umrah' visa was very long, we were ushered to get our passports endorsed at the work permit lanes as the lanes were many, and with shorter queues.

There, Chinese nationals who flew in with SIA, were photographed by immigration officers at the counters. Their 10 fingers-fingerprints were obtained too.

It was said that their arrivals is needed for the coming 'haj' season this November.
Although starting this year, GOD willing, trains will be plying between the 4km distance Muzdalifah and Mina, these Chinese national services will be needed too - they will be driving SAPTCO, the Saudi's buses.
The Muslims will drive around Mecca and Medinah.
The rest, around Jeddah and the neighbouring areas.


An Indonesian driver drove us to Medinah and Mecca.
Once, he asked me about any job opportunity in Singapore or JB as he wants to work at this side of the world when his 2-year work permit expire.
I told him that many people envy him for getting to work in the holy place, but holiness did not matter to him - he wants a job that he wants.

For our 'miqat' trip in Tanaim, we waited 3 hours for him to make his appearance.
And for the sightseeing trip around Mecca, he simply disappeared - his place was taken by an Arabic man until our last bus day back to Jeddah International Airport for our flight back to Singapore.

Judging from the 2 men's driving experience and knowledge of places, the latter is better on the road, because, perhaps  its his motherland.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Umrah Syawal - The Disappearing Baitullah

I was reading Mr Reme's latest blog.
His mentioning of  orang yang mandikan mayat  reminded me of a 'quote one incident which you will never forget' which we posed to the daughter-in-law of ex-imam Masjidil Haram whose house we visited last week in Mecca for the recent Idilfitri.
"This lady who cleanse corpses as her profession, was able to see Baitullah from inside Masjidil Haram. 
But the object disappeared from her sight when she intended doing her tawaf

She approached the ustaz who accompanied the group of pilgrimers and was asked to repent what she had done wrong.

Repent she did, but the sight of Baitullah disappear from her sight again when she was about to tawaf
This time, the ustaz wanted to personally know what she had done wrong but the ustaz was unable and refuse to help her after knowing her story. 

It was one of those corpse cleansing day when this lady was approached to stuff black magic in one of the corpse's mouth.
Twice she placed the black magic in the mouth, and twice it popped out.
The third time around, she secured the black magic in the mouth by sewing both lips... 

Upon hearing this, the ustaz straight away refused offering any help to her.

GOD will forgive all those even with mountain loads of sin done with sincere repentance.
But GOD will not forgive those who did wrong to another human unless the other human forgive him.

Will this corpse cleansing lady will one day find the corpse which she had sewn both lips and asked the corpse for forgiveness?

The purpose of cleansing is to return to THE CREATOR as he was created.

But this corpse return to THE CREATOR with black magic in tow...       

Monday, September 20, 2010

Happiest Greetings

The moment the airplane touched the ground of Changi Airport at 3.10pm on Friday, I was back in Singapore again.

My 2 weeks trip although with only 20 people, was but from diversified backgrounds.
Singaporeans from Malaysia, Australia and United Kingdom came back to Singapore to make this trip happened.

So many things to share but little time I have in hand in this Syawal.

Packing the bag yet again for the few days KL trip today....

Till then, Eid Mubarak.    

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Maid Story - Babies At Stake

Maids In Malaysia (2) And Singapore (5)

SERDANG: An Indonesian maid allegedly stomped a 15 month-old-infant to death in Puchong and then disappeared. It is learnt the incident occurred at 4pm last Friday when the only child was found unconscious at his home by a relative.
It is learnt the 25-year-old Indonesian maid from Majalingka, West Jawa had called the victim’s father to inform his son had fallen ill and was unconscious.
The victim’s father, Tang Meng Kiang, 40, a businessman asked his relative who lived nearby to rush his son to a nearby private hospital.
However, the infant, Tan Jin Yang was pronounced dead on arrival.
Serdang OCPD Supt Abdul Razak Elias said that, initially, the case was classified as sudden death.
However, the post mortem from the Serdang Hospital revealed numerous elements of fould.
It is learnt the child had strangulation marks on his neck, internal brain haemorrhage, bruises believed to be from being stepped on and lung infection.
“In light of the post mortem results, we re-classified the case as murder and have been on the lookout for who could help shed light on the child’s death,” he said.
Further investigations revealed that the maid had been working with the businessman’s family for nearly two years.
“At one point, the parents suspected their son was abused when one of his legs was fractured, but they did not follow through their suspicions”, he said. - The Star

****** ****** ******

After almost 2 weeks of absence, Fahmi was sent straight to the classroom by his mother.

He entered the room wailing aloud,
"Teacher, police catch Bibik." 

The mother signaled that she'll be outside the room waiting for Me.

"Why?" I asked him.
"Baby sick so police want her to sleep with baby at hospital."

After having adjusted himself with friends, I met his mother who was patiently waiting.

"You remember when I told you that my baby girl was still sick?
She was warded for observation.
Then the very night, the police wanted us to be at the station because x-ray showed  fracture on the skull.

We were kept overnight at the station suspected of abuse.
You think we want to do that to the 3-months old?
After going hell, we were released.

Then I asked the maid what she had done to the sinless being.
You know what she said?
She purposely dropped her BUT on the bed with thick mattress on!!!

I could not believe her admission that I called the police straight away!
She said the same thing to the police!

When I asked her why she vent her frustration on the poor soul, she said there's just too many things to handle.
Too many things to learn all at once and too many electrical things to operate."


I used to have a brief chat with the maid, in her 30s, when she passed Fahmi to me while carrying the baby girl.
The maid was a typical Javanese lady from remote village with heavy accent, whom I saw as slow in picking up new things and adapting oneself to new environment.
She was always with a tired face most of the time.

The 3 children were left in the maid's care for most of the time as the parents had to be at their 'Yong Tau Fu'  stall 12 hours daily, ever since the father was being retrenched from work.

I knew the mother as a super insurance agent, forever on her feet.
She was a warm, friendly woman whom others would want to go to for advice.
She would always volunteer to help out the school and would occasionally drop by to update herself with the latest development.

Before this incident, Fahmi used to say,  
"Teacher, baby fall down on the bed again."

I thought he was talking about his 4-year old sister as I did not find anything amiss as he was closed to his Bibik and often expressed his love for her.


Six months after the maid was being taken away, the baby was still in hospital.
By then she was already 9-months old, but still unable and will be forever unable, as the doctor said, to turn herself on her belly, to crawl, to walk, to blabber, to talk...
Though it maybe only a hairline crack, the baby has had only 10% survival rate.

Fahmi by then, had became withdrawn as he was too attached with the maid, since his 4-year old sister was born.
Occasionally he would say that the police is bad and naughty to take his Bibik away... 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Teacher's Day And Singapore Education

Award to Teacher’s
September 1,  Singapore Teachers' Day,  an official school holiday with celebration a day earlier.

Neither Singapore nor Malaysia appreciate their teachers on the actual World Teacher’s Day which is celebrated across the world (?) on September 5. Since the importance of teachers has been recognized by UNESCO, World Teacher’s Day has been celebrated annually.

Malaysia celebrate their teachers on May 16th.
This date was chosen because on the same day in 1956, the Federal Legislative Council of the Federation of Malaya endorsed the Razak Report, who was Education Minister at the time, one of four reports of the Education Committee regarding education in Malaysia.
Although Teachers Day is not an official school holiday, celebrations are usually held on May 16, or earlier.

To my knowledge, only India celebrates its teachers on the World's Teacher's Day.
The date coincides with the birthday of the second President of India, academic philosopher  Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
It is considered a "celebration" day, where teachers and students report to school but classes are replaced by activities of celebration, thanks and remembrance.
At some schools on this day, the responsibility of teaching is taken up by the senior students to show appreciation for their teachers.

Happy Teacher's Day to all teachers, and everybody out there.
Yes, everybody!
In one way or another or in our own unique ways, we are teachers too, to our family and friends, relatives and neighbours, and society at large.
Teachers are celebrated for their special contribution in a particular field area or the community in general.

Although  education system in Singapore  is ranked fourth in the world by  Newsweek  after Finland, South Korea and Canada, in the recent  National Day Rally 2010,  Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong still emphasised the importance of education to give our young the best chance in life, instill the right values and sense of national identity as well as prepare them to compete in a globalised world.
Singapore has given its students a strong foundation and makes them effectively bilingual. Nevertheless the Government will do more to help each child with different interests, academic inclinations and aptitudes to achieve his or her potential: Nurturing all-rounded students in the primary level, widening and enhancing the range of options and pathways offered by secondary schools, enhancing the polytechnic route and the creation of University Town, the like of Cambridge and Oxford.


Get It Right!
This year's  Speak Good English Movement campaign wants Singaporeans to try and use English correctly when they speak English.
It encourages Singaporeans to broaden the environment where  Standard English  is spoken and heard in Singapore.
The campaign hopes to expose Singaporeans who are weak in the language to good English and to be immersed in it, teaching them to learn by example.
Not just for Singaporeans who are trying to improve their English, those who are proficient in English are encouraged to join in as well to collectively and consciously raise the standard of the English language in Singapore.
Hence, the new tagline, 'Get It Right!'
The movement is providing an Activist Toolkit which includes sticky notes, stickers and notebooks to encourage users to correct English errors they see in their daily lives.
Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Vivian Balakrishnan will launch The Speak Good English Movement on Sept 7. - The Straits Times.