Saturday, November 5, 2011

Arafah Day, Today

As the sun of 9th Dzulhijjah rises, most pilgrims already set their feet on 'Arafah.   
Takbir, Tahlil and Talbiyah.

From noon, until dawn the next day
“Labbaikallaa Humma Labbaik” 
O God, here I am answering your call, by nearly three million pilgrims from around the world. 

The once in a lifetime journey of faith. 
The faithfuls gratefully come to Makkah to discharge their owed duties to HIM.  

Haj is ‘Arafah.
Immense spiritual congregation in 'Arafah during this sacred moments.
On the plain, and at hilly slopes of 'Arafah, is where pilgrims standing and supplicating to the ALMIGHTY s.w.t., seeking HIS Forgiveness and Mercy.
Not only to be physically presence in 'Arafah, but mentally too.
Believers are promised during these 'Arafah hours, HIS Forgiveness and Mercy are bestowed.
HIS Presence thus felt weather one is asleep, awake, lying down, resting, sitting, or even walking.

Men, draped in two white unsewn pieces of cloth, an extraordinary symbol of unity and equality.
Men and women formed a massive stream of white.
Getting to 'Arafah is not without difficulties for many.
Hardship aside, having reached 'Arafah is a dream come true, for all pilgrims. 

'Arafah, peaceful, is where the connection with GOD takes place.
Dzulhijjah after Dzulhijjah, over and over again.
The beginning, the present, and the future.
All believers, from all corners of the world, come together to 'Arafah, to pray to GOD.
The feeling of wanting to be near to HIM, HE who Observes from above, the whole body shivers...
While in 'Arafah, wise pilgrims spend the day making supplications to ALLAH s.w.t.

Rasulullah s.a.w said, 
“The best du‘a is the du‘a on the day of ‘Arafah.”
- Abu Dawud.

It is the ultimate day to ask for forgiveness of every single sin of us.
Rasulullah s.a.w. also said,
“There is no day 
in which Allah s.w.t. sets free more souls 
from the fire of Hell, 
than on the day of ‘Arafah.”  
- Muslim.

People spent the day in worship and supplication.
Pray for our needs.
Pray for the welfare of all.
Never mind wherever we are now, in Asia, Africa, America, Australia or Europe.
In this sacred moment, the 'Arafah day, HE opens the sky for all our prayers to directly reach HIM.
The day where HIS promise delivered.
Seize the opportunity.
Rasulullah s.a.w. spent his day at 'Arafah until almost sunset.

Unity in prayers itself has created a peaceful atmosphere, at the most peaceful place on earth. 
"Labbaikallaa Humma Labbaik”,
reenacted again and again, since fourteen centuries ago.
Answer the call of ALLAH s.w.t. and pray for peace and tranquility.
Pray sincerely, spread humanity.
They set out, chanting that they have come to answer GOD’s call.

The endless sea of  'white' pilgrims, in their endless chants,
"Labbaikallaahumma Labbaik”
Ability to make connection with ALLAH s.w.t. is an individual experience.
No words can explain one's feeling, although everyone is on the sacred ground of 'Arafah is obviously with one intention - HIS acceptance.

Performing Haj is obviously about communication and connection to ALLAH s.w.t.
The spiritual faith.
The inner peace is felt by  those whose Haj is accepted.
It is reflected in us, in our doings, in our daily life. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Road Less Travelled, Senai-Desaru Expressway

A-G’s report lists faults and cost overruns for Senai-Desaru Expressway

PETALING JAYA: Despite the land acquisition costs for the Senai-Desaru Expressway project in Johor ballooning from RM365mil to RM740.6mil, the highway has been found to be unsatisfactory and a danger to road users.
According to the Auditor-General’s Report, among the reasons for the doubling of land acquisition costs were the compensation payment which exceeded market prices, high injurious affection and severance payments, and interest of 8% due to late repayments.
The completed 77km-Senai Desaru Highway, worth RM1.37bil, was also found not to be in accordance with specifications, resulting in damage to the road surface and endangering road users.
“Although the project for Package 3 was 100% completed in April, the road surface is undulating and river protection has not been built on the Sungai Selat Mendana, Sungai Layang, Sungai Papan, Sungai Semenchu and Sungai Chemaran.
Bad job: Despite its high cost, the Senai-Desaru Expressway was found it to be a danger to road users.
“Revetment protection has yet to be constructed along the Pulau Juling Highway causing soil erosion along the area and pollution to the mangrove swamps,” the report said.
The construction agreement for the project was signed between the Federal Government and the concession company on July 31, 2004, with the intention of linking Johor Baru to the Desaru tourist area, and to reduce the congestion on the Pasir Gudang Highway.
The report also found that the statistics prepared by the Malaysian Highway Authority (MHA), which regulates the project management of the highway, showed that the actual number of vehicles using the highway was less than the traffic forecast by the concession company (which was approved by the Road Planning Division of the Public Works Ministry in December 2001).
The actual traffic volume achieved was only 1.9% of the forecast for three months in 2009, and 8.3% in 2010.
The report also found that the concession company had failed to complete the construction work in the stipulated period and did not maintain the highway satisfactorily.
“The concession company has yet to take action to resolve the non-compliance reports issued by the MHA,” the report said, adding that delays in completing the project had resulted in delays for the Government receiving the income of 20% of the profits of the toll collection.
The report then recommended for MHA to review the feasibility studies done by the concession company to ensure that the facts presented were accurate, and to take into account realistic land acquisition costs to avoid unnecessary significant cost increases, and for the concession agreement to be reviewed thoroughly.
The Treasury Department said that, although the initial planning had been done thoroughly, the land conversion factor as well as the development order by the state authority had contributed to the spike in land acquisition costs.
“This is because the Government had to pay a high compensation rate on buildings which had already been built,” the Treasury said, adding that the acquisition cost was first estimated in 2002, while Valuation and Property Services Department had valued the land based on rates as at November 2004, which was higher than in 2002.
“To prevent this from recurring, allocation for land acquisition will be capped for highway privatisation projects.
“If the land acquisition cost exceeds the capped amount, then the additional cost for the land acquisition should be borne by the concession company,” the report stated.
On the issue of the undulating road surface, the Treasury said all 15 problematic locations had been identified and the report for the repair work had also been submitted to MHA on April 29.

Source: The Star - Saturday, October 29,2011


Motorists want extension of lanes

KOTA TINGGI: Motorists have expressed their disappointment on the last stretch of the newly opened Senai–Desaru highway.
The last stretch spanning 27km from Cahaya Baru to Desaru includes a single plane cable styled bridge across Sungai Johor but most of the road only has two lanes.
Safety officer S.Amuldass, 50, said that the last stretch was more like a trunk road.
“Of course our travelling time is shorter by half, but we were puzzled as to why the road only has two lanes instead of four,” he said.
Only two lanes: The new stretch of the Senai-Pasir Gudang- Desaru expressway which was officially opened recently. Many users were disappointed with the new stretch of the expressway as it only has two lanes.
Factory worker Looi Hock Kiat, 44, who agreed with Amuldass said that it was the only flaw on the new highway to the dual passageway.
“If the road is not expanded, I foresee traffic jams in the future as many people will be travelling to Desaru especially during the holiday season,” he said.
Assistant manager Mohd Azman Emus Abdullah, 41, said that he was also surprised to discover new stretch with only two lanes.
“The only area along the stretch which has four lanes is the bridge itself but the moment you cross the bridge, you are back to a two-laned highway,” he said.
Desaru Tourism Association chairman Lt Kol (Rtd) Mohd Jamal Salleh however said that the opening of the highway was a blessing for the tourism industry in Desaru.
“Most of the resort owners and other tourism players here have upgraded their services and renovated their premises because we are all anticipating greater tourist arrivals with the opening of the highway,” he said.
Commenting on the matter Senai-Desaru Expressway Bhd (SDEB) chief executive officer Mustaza Salim said that the decision to build two lanes for the last stretch was based on earlier traffic forecasts conducted in the area.
“We will continue to monitor the flow of traffic and if needed we will widen the roads,” he said adding that so far he has received positive feedback from motorists.

Source: The Star - Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Read More: Senai-Pasir Gudang-Desaru Expressway

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Drowning Sorrows In Bedok Reservoir

Chinese national Lin Xiao, 23, had been missing since April 28.
On the day he went missing, mother and son left for work together that Thursday morning.

When 43-year old Madam Hu Ping Zhu, a hawker, returned home from work in the afternoon, her son's mobile phone was on the table.
She discovered he did not report to work as an apprentice at Kaki Bukit.that day, after reading an SMS from his colleague.
His divorced parents had paid $6,350 agent fee to get him a job here.
The university graduate arrived in Singapore last year in November, to live with his mother.
She married a Singaporean more than two years ago.

A quiet person with no other relatives and no friends in Singapore, Hu was worried that her son could have run away due to work stress.
He had once asked if the agent fee could be earned back.
Although the mother had never asked his son for repayment, she felt he could have been pressured to earn the money back.
For the sake of her son's safety, the mother was willing to let him return to China if he reappeared.

Described as diligent by a colleague, Lin found it tough being in Singapore.
His mother spent sleepless nights not only roaming the streets near their home, but forested areas in Kaki Bukit near his workplace too, searching for her only son.
She printed and distributed 30 fliers.
She also searched temples and churches, with hope that he had gone to the temples for the free meals that these places provide.
She searched relentlessly for almost two months for her missing son.

Lin's parents offered $10,000 to anyone for information leading to the son's whereabouts.
48-year old Mr Lin Zuliang, a plant nursery owner in Zhejiang, flew to Singapore from China on May 13 scouring the island for his missing son
In February, the son had reportedly sent an SMS to his father in China, stating that he (Lin) was useless, could not fit into society, could not speak well, did not have enough strength, and not smart enough.
The father did not think much of it.
Instead, he advised him to work harder.

The mother's hopes of her son's safe return was dashed on Monday, June 20, after 20 days of frantic search.
Her worst fears was realised.
The police had gone to her flat after a PUB officer made a report about the highly decomposed body found floating in the reservoir, 2 km away from their residence in Chai Chee.
The mother had earlier filed a police report after her son went missing on April 28.

A bunch of keys was found on the partial body discovered in Bedok Reservoir.
Police officers found the keys fit for the door.
Even before the police has the DNA test results, the depressed mother recognised her son's black Puma belt and the faded jeans she had last seen him wearing.
Undertaker Roland Tay handled the cremation for free.
He used a bamboo board to complete the body.

******      ******      ******

After two years of courtship, Tan Sze Sze and Willy Chin registered their marriage in 2006.
Not long after the registration, she found a condom in her husband's car.
He claimed it belonged to his friend.

While renting a flat in Ang Mo Kio, Tan became pregnant.
They returned to their respective parents' homes before their baby was born.

The 31-year old ex-secretary started suffering from post-natal depression after giving birth to her baby, but refused to seek help
She then became temperamental..
She was increasingly short-tempered and irritable over the past year.

An introvert and easily depressed by nature, she was extremely protective of her son, whom she called "Baby".
Her relationship with her husband soured about two years ago.
She initiated the divorce proceedings.
She told her mother that life had become too much of a torture.

She was fiercely protective of her 3-year-old Jerald Chin Le Hui.
She spent most of her time looking after him.
She had frequent fights with her estranged husband over their son.
She became increasingly upset after being embroiled in a bitter child custody battle with her estranged husband.

Last year, Madam Tan had once allowed her ex-husband to take their son home.
But the then 2-year old came back with a nose that did not stop bleeding for two days.
He cried constantly.
From then on, the mother refused to let her son go with his father.
The boy was only allowed to see his father in the vicinity of their home with her, or his grandmother's presence.
53-year old Tan Geok Lai, claimed her ex-son-in-law would kick up a fuss at their home.
She admitted to yelling at him to go away. 
The elderly mother use vulgar language to tell him off. 
Once, he called the police when his mother-in-law use a shoe to hit him.

Things turned ugly when he threatened them with a lawsuit.
He had to call in the police and applied for a court order for access to the boy on weekends.

Once, when policemen came knocking at their flat in French Road, the mother grabbed her son and crouched in a corner, repeatedly saying that she was afraid.
They told her that if she did not comply with the court order, she would be fined.
She might have to go to jail, or punishment would be heavier the next time, if she could not pay the fine.

Tan had been fined earlier, for not allowing her husband access to their son.
She was worried that she would be jailed if she could not pay up.
She lived with her part-time fortune-teller mother, and four other family members in a one-room rental flat in Lavender area.
Unemployed, she lived on her mother's Central Provident Fund savings, as well as $300 monthly allowance from her husband.

The father would come to the flat every week for more than a year, pleading to see his son.
Often, the door would stay shut.
Or Tan would be chasing away her husband with a slipper and swearing at him.
The father had been seen waiting or squatting by the door and called out his son outside the flat, with a bag of diapers for him.

Tan was afraid that her son would be snatched from her.
Her son was her life.
Just before she went missing on Tuesday, September 20, Tan told her mother that she planned to kill herself and take her child with her.

Tan Sze Sze, 32, with her three-year-old son, Jerald Chin. The two were found drowned to death in a Singapore reservoir last week. On Friday, relatives of the dead woman disrupted her wake by attacking her estranged husband.  (Straits Times Photo/Lau Fook Kong)
On Thursday, September 22, Tan was found floating face down in Bedok Reservoir, with her son.
When PUB officers found them, Madam Tan was hugging her son.
The pair were pronounced dead about 10 minutes later.

They were joined by red string at their wrists and wore red T-shirts.
Both mother and son's fingernails were painted red.

They were were last seen in Clementi Central on Tuesday morning.
The elder mother was at work in Clementi Central when her daughter arrived with Jerald.
She cried inconsolably, saying she was a disappointment.
She was unable to protect her son.
After they left, Tan switched off her mobile phone.
When the family could not reach her, they called the police, who then released a missing persons statement to the media at about 7pm on Wednesday.

Family members found Tan's house keys in the mailbox.
There was also a box with photo album in it, and the namecard of undertaker Roland Tay, who handled her father's funeral three years ago.
A suicide note was attached and instructions on what to do after her death.

The stress of her broken marriage, and fear of losing the custody battle for their son, pushed her over the edge.


Mr Willy Chin arrived at the wake early Sunday morning at 6.50am to pay his last respects to his wife of five years, and his son, for a short five minutes.
He was to avoid meeting the family.

He was earlier deprived by his wife's relatives from attending the funeral wake.
He had secretly gone to the wake seeing his deceased family on Friday night, but was angrily accosted by relatives of his wife.
They crowded around his van, tried to drag him, hurled vulgarities and accused him of causing double deaths.

He managed to escape, but was subsequently confronted at his house by Madam Tan's mother, sister and her husband and two other relatives.
The police were later called to the scene.
The sister's husband was arrested when he refused to leave.
On Saturday, Chin went to Roland Tay's office, crying and begging the undertaker to speak to his wife's family.

In life, Chin wanted to give his son the toys he had painstakingly collected - more than 50 of the Happy Meal toys, which only come out once a week.
That's more than a year's worth of toys.

In death, the colourful toys were his last present to his only child, Jerald Chin Le Hui.
He arrived at the wake with three shopping bags full of toys and clothes for his son.
But again, Mr Chin never got his wish.
The toys did not follow his son to the other world as he had wished.

His last gifts to his son were later stuffed in black trash bags and left at the rubbish collection area.
It was unceremoniously thrown away by Jerald's 8-year-old cousin and his maternal grandmother.
Madam Tan's grieving family members believe Chin's act was only a show.
They will never forgive hm.

Although this is the second incident of bodies found in Bedok Reservoir, it is the ninth case of dead bodies found floating in waterways and reservoirs in Singapore this year.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

While Waiting For Eidul Adha...

Praise belongs to ALLAH s.w.t.
Peace be upon Rasulullah s.a.w., his family and companions.  

Dzulhijjah days are among the most magnificent days in Islamic calendar.
Dzulhijjah has many virtues, based on many things, particularly in its first ten days.
The first ten days of Dzulhijjah are the days of virtue and righteous deeds.  
Quranic verses and Hadith indicate that the first ten days of Dzulhijjah are better than all the other days of the year.

The first ten days of Dzulhijjah have been preferred by ALLAH s.w.t. over all the other days of the whole year,
except that the last ten days of Ramadhan,
which are considered better than them for they include Lailatul Qadr
- the Night of Power,
which is better than a thousand months. 

Celebrate the Praises of ALLAH s.w.t. during the appointed days: 
Tasbih (Subhaanallah), 
Tahmid (Alhamdulillah) 
Takbir (Allahu Akbar) and
Talbiyah (Labbaikallah Humma Labbaik).

It is our duty to appreciate the blessed month of Dzulhijjah,
having more concentration in our prayers,
always on our very best. 
Dzulhijjah is a wonderful moment
immersing ourselves as much Iba'dah, acts of worship, as possible.
Devotion and sincerity do have its reward.

Abdullah ibn Umar r.a., the son of Saidina Umar r.a.,
reported that The Prophet s.a.w. said: 
"There are no days greater in the sight of ALLAH 
in which righteous deeds are more beloved to HIM 
than these ten days, 
so during this time 
recite a great deal of 
Tahlil (Laa Ilaaha Illallah), Takbir and Tahmid." 
- Reported by Ahmad

Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. commanded the believers
to recite a lot of Tasbih, Tahmid and Takbir during these days.

Ibn Abbas r.a. reported that The Prophet s.a.w. said: 
"There are no days 
in which righteous deeds 
are more beloved to ALLAH 
than these ten days." 
The people asked, 
"Not even jihad for the sake of ALLAH?" 
He said, 
"Not even jihad for the sake of ALLAH, 
except in the case of a man 
who went out to fight giving himself 
and his wealth up for the cause, 
and came back with nothing." 
- Bukhari

These ten days are a great blessing from ALLAH s.w.t. to all of us.

Even for us, who are not undertaking the Haj,
the first ten days of Dzulhijjah are a special time to remember ALLAH s.w.t.
A great opportunity to sincerely correct oneself.
Bettering our deeds and seek HIM for forgiveness and guidance.

The Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
encouraged people to do righteous deeds
due to the virtue of these days
and the Haj season during which the Haj season is situated.
The Prophet s.a.w. said that
the first ten days of Dzulhijjah
are a special time for devotion,
for during these ten days that most of the Haj rites occur.

i) - 9th Dzulhijjah is the 'Arafah Day (Yaumul 'Arafah),
the date when all pilgrims assemble on the plain of 'Arafah, six miles away from Makkatul Mukarramah.
Pilgrims perform the most essential part of the prescribed duties of Haj - Wuquf  - the stay in 'Arafah.

Yaumul Arafah is the day when the Mercy of ALLAH s.w.t. descends in Abundance. 
Yaumul 'Arafah is the day when sins are Forgiven,
and do'a Accepted,
all through HIS Compassion and Mercy.  
Yaumul 'Arafah is the day which ALLAH sw.t. perfected one's Religion.

The Prophet s.a.w. was asked about fasting on Yaumul 'Arafah.
He s.a.w. said,  
"It compensates for the (minor) sins of the past 
and the coming year."  
- Ibnu Majah

The 'Arafah fast has been emphasized by the Prophet s.a.w.
as a desirable act.
Fasting on these ten blessed days,
or at least a day, on the 9th Dzulhijjah, will bring us closer to HIM.

Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. has said,  
"One fast during these days 
is equal to the fasting of one complete year, 
and the worship of one night during this period 
is equal to the worship in the "Lailatul-Qadr".

For us not performing the Haj,
it is desirable to fast on this day.

ii) - Beginning from the Fajr of the 9th Dzulhijjah up to the 'Asr prayer of the 13th,
it is encouraged on us to recite the Takbir of Tashriq after each daily prayer

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar,
La Ilaha Illallahu, Wallahu Akbar,
Allahu Akbar wa Lillahilhamd.
(There is no other God but ALLAH and ALLAH is the Greatest, 
Allah is the Greatest and to ALLAH belongs all Praise).

iii) - 10th Dzulhijjah is Eidul Adha.
Unlike 'Eidul Fitr,
sunnah is not to eat before the 'Eid prayer.

iv) - The Qurban.
An act of total submission to ALLAH s.w.t.
and a complete obedience to HIM, without hesitation.
It is encouraged for all to make sacrifices for themselves and their dependents.
The sacrifice of animals - goat, sheep, cow or camel - during the 10th, 1lth and 12th of Dzulhijjah.

Looking beyond its mundane benefits,
it is to understand the spirit of most superior qualities so necessary
to keep humanity in a state of lasting peace and welfare.
Qurban is but a powerful symbol of the required human conduct
submitting to the DIVINE commands.
The spirit of total submission to HIM,
irrespective of difference in our economy or society.

Pine not, whine not, if we are unable to slaughter a sacrifice.
For general Qurban included all acts of charity too, all year round.
The purpose of charity is nothing,
but to seek ALLAH s.w.t.'s pleasure.
And, sacrifices are in many forms too.

Sincerity is always priorotised.
Verily, good deeds remove small sins.
A gentle reminder for the mindful, for those who accept advice.

Perform sincere prayers.

"And establish regular prayers at the two ends of the day 
and at the approaches of the night: 
for those things that are good remove those that are evil: 
be that the word of remembrance 
to those who remember (their LORD)"
- (Hud: 114).

Pray that HE Bless us with HIS Virtues.
Pray that HE Bless us with spiritual gains
Pray that we are all Blessed in these magical moments of Dzulhijjah.

Reflecting of our past doings will have great benefits for us:
People around us, family, neighbours, relatives and friends.
Pray for the very best.
For His Bounty of what's already in our possession.
His Reward, not a burden:

"On no soul do ALLAH place a burden 
greater than it (the soul) can bear. 
It gets every good that it earns, 
and it suffers every ill that it earns. 
"Our GOD
condemn us not if we forget or fall into error. 
Our GOD, 
lay not on us a burden like that 
which YOU did lay on those before us. 
Our GOD, 
lay on us not a burden greater 
than we have strength to bear. 
Blot out our sins, 
and grant us Forgiveness. 
Have Mercy on us. 
Help us against those who stand against Faith." 
- Al-Baqarah : 286