Friday, 27 March 2009

Meeting a Friend I Made Over Cyber Space.

Meeting a friend I made through cyber space We were once, one people. Now our countries have drifted apart. Nonetheless, despite being a different country now, many from both sides are still being held by the nostalgic memories of the yester years when we were one. Cyril Gabriel and I are two of that old breed who still cling to the nostalgic past and dare cross the barrier and form that thing call friendship. We met on March 26, 2009 and here is our story:
Entertained to some light refreshment by officers of 9th Rangers
in the Officers' Mess in Taiping.
I presented a pair of my books to the Officers' Mess
Cyril also presented a book to the Officers' Mess
I signed the Visitors' Book
The internet, certainly, has more good than bad. A couple of days ago - March 26, 2009 to be exact, I met a Singaporean whom I had befriended over the internet. Well, really, it was he who had got us acquainted.
Cyril Gabriel is a retired senior Singapore Police Officer. Although he was with the Police, in his own words, he said he is "a military buff". His keen interests are on the history of pre-Independence Federation Regiment, Federation Armoured Regiment and The Royal Malay Regiment. He reads and collects books, visits places related to these units. He also collects cap badges, insignias and medals of the pre-Independence forces of Malaya and Singapore.
How did I get to know him? Well, in his relentless searches, he was introduced to 7th Rangers blog administered by Major (Retired) David Swami Gwekanandam. One thing led to another and he came to my blog to purchase a pair of my books. That started him to make a plan to visit Taiping where I reside, in particular, Camp Town Barrack which is currently occupied by 9th Royal Rangers. This camp was used by the Gurkhas and other British units and some pre-Independence Federation units.
After a week of planning and coordinating, Cyril and his wife Daphne finally arrived at about 1030 a.m. on March 26, 2009. A vehicle from 9th Rangers was dispatched to pick them up at the town bus terminal. I did not know what went wrong but he missed the vehicle. Or could the vehicle had gone to the other bus terminal in Kamunting? Anyway, a friend of his, sent him and wife over to 9th Rangers Officers Mess where we met the officers.
It happened to be their tea break and we joined in. Cyril and I exchanged momentos. I presented the Officers Mess with my books and likewise Cyril also gave a book.
After the tea break, we were taken for a drive through the camp. It was a walk down memory lane for me too, as I was there from 1969 to 1978. Indeed, it held a thousand nostalgic memories of my young and early life in the Army, in particular in 3rd Rangers.
The camp had gone through a lot of transformations. Most of the old wooden barracks have been demolished and new modern concrete barracks and offices have taken over their places. As we drove around the old football field that doubled up as a parade ground in those days, I noticed the "Dewan" have been torn down. A new one is coming up.
Some parts of the camp are however, still the same old wooden buildings built by the British Army. For me though, I didn't see the old and discoloured walls. I saw only the vivid memories of the time I was here in the 60s and 70s. I wish I could relive that part of my life again but we know history only come once in our life time.
All too soon, our guided tour was over. We parted ways at the Officers Mess. I headed for my Kembara and home. Cyril and wife were sent to the bus station by the unit vehicle.
Thank you 9 Rangers for the warm hospitality and the tour of the camp. You really have enlivened my somewhat monotonous life as a pensioner and an old man.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

World's Fastest and S.E.Asia's Longest Cable Car

I accompanied my children and grandchildren for a two-day trip to Genting Highland from 23 - 25 March 2009. I wouldn't miss the chance of having a good time with them. And it really was a good time when they tried out almost all the fun rides there were. I accompanied them on the less violent ones. After checking out in the afternoon of the second day, we decided to take a cable car ride to the bottom of the hill. For those people who love roller coaster rides, riding this cable car is peanut or "kacang". The trouble is I hate roller coasters or anything that spin and turn you upside down at break-neck speed. But curiousity got the better of me and I followed my two grandchildren into the gandola. The take off was scary. You just imagine jumping off a platform into a deep valley below your feet! If you are not a free fall enthusiast or parachutist, you wouldn't be able to understand what I mean. But never mind I'll tell you anyhow, how I felt. My gandola sped towards the end of the platform and suddenly I found myself hanging by a little cable in mid-air with a deep valley a thousand feet below! Suddenly I found so many questions crammed into my head: what if the cable should snap? What if the cable car fall off the tiny cable? Oh God! I don't want to lose my grandchildren! The fear was all very unecessary though. The cable car is built to last with the safety of its passengers foremost in the minds of the designers and it is computerised. Except for the take off, the ride was really exhilarating and enjoyable. As you glided over the thick lush rainforest far below, we were told that the cable car is the world's fastest and S.E.Asia's longest at about 3km. When we reached the other end, our bus was already waiting for us. Some of the beautiful and breath-taking sceneries.
Feel the exhilarating ride in this video

Friday, 20 March 2009

I'm Missing My Golf

I'm Missing My Golf I am missing my golf. I have not played for the past one year due to a very bad left shoulder joint. I did not know how it happened. I couldn't remember having a fall. I remembered the little nagging pain at first, when I did my morning exercises. It got worse by the day until one day I couldn't stand the throbbing pain anymore. Any little movement I made would send the sharp pain shooting up throughout the arm and shoulder. I had to go to the hospital (the new extension of Taiping Hospital mainly for the not- so- serious illnesses). I was referred to a physiotherapist. The place was new and she was the only one running the place. It was ok when I was alone but when other patients began to come in, she had difficulty attending to all of them. I remembered during one of those day, she was massaging my arm with a massaging machine. Another man was walking in and out waiting for his turn. She told him to do some workout on an exercise machine. Being new, the man didn't know how to use the machine and I noticed the physiotherapist was ignoring him. I didn't have the heart. So while I was being massaged, I began to give instructions to him on how to use the machine properly. After a few sessions I began to lose faith and decided to try the other one at the main hospital. That too did not last long. What they did was what I was doing at home - the warm/hot water bottle treatment. After a few months, it was getting better. Then one day on July 1, 2008, we had a reunion in Sibu. The next day we went up the Rejang River in a rented old luxury boat. With about 30 people crammed onboard, it was labouring up the mighty Rejang. It was keeping mostly to the middle of the huge river - a fatal mistake which almost cost some lives. Hardly half an hour later, the boat rammed into a sand bar in the middle of the river. It caught us off guard. Most of us who were sitting on the side of the boat were thrown off. Some were sprawled on the deck and others were thrown against the wall. I was on the upper deck with my grandson. He was thrown forward and if not for the raised floor, he would have gone through the opening and fell down to the lower deck. As for me, I was thrown against the railings at the opening. I was caught fully on the bad shoulder. It became swollen and the pain was excruciating. For the next one year I gave the shoulder a complete rest. No golf for me. Today, after a year, it has recovered by about 90%. That 10% seems to be very stubborn and there is no sign of complete recovery! I don't have the patience anymore. If it is not going to recover in the next one month, I'm going to a doctor to have it injected with pain killer. Anyone out there who have suffered the same illness and share your experiences to recovery?

Saturday, 14 March 2009

A Prayer Answered? Telepathy? Coincidence?

A Prayer Answered? Telepathy? Coincidence? This is the letter that gave Singapore the win over Pedra Branca.
Call it what you will, but I was totally surprised by the little incident today (March 14, 2009) that involved the letter above.
Let me tell you how it happened.
I was trying to find an article I wrote and stored in my computer. Sometimes, trying to find them can be a headache.
I sort of "turned my computer upside down" and still couldn't find the article. I almost gave up. One topic caught my eye: The document that gave Singapore the win over Pedra Branca (Pulau Batu Puteh). I wanted to send it to my Extanjong Forum some months ago but had forgotten. So I decided to send it immediately.
A while later, Professor Hasmadi's email appeared. He thanked me for the document. He said he was awake till about 2 a.m. last night trying to figure out how he could get hold of this same document that I had just sent a while ago. He said it was an important document he needed very much for an article he was writing. (Professor Hasmadi, a Sarawakian, is currently with University Brunei Darulsalam and I am in Taiping, Perak.)
What do you think? Was that a prayer answered? Or was it telepathy? Or was it pure coincidence. For me, it could be a combination of all three. But what a bizarre incident it was for me that left me wondering how on earth it could have happened!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Solving Sarawak's Rural Electricity Woes


Development in Sarawak is seen and felt to be painfully slow. There seemed to be not much changes since it became independence within Malaysia 46 years ago. Before Independence, we were unhappy about 4 things - our roads, electricity, water and livelihood/economy. Today, we are still clamouring for the same thing plus an additional problem in the form of Native Customary-Right land (NCR)

Roads. The Kuching-Sri Aman trunk road was built in 1960. At about the same time a side road from my kampung (Lachau) to the many long houses deeper inland was also constructed. It made a big circle inland to connect the many long houses inside and came out to rejoin the main trunk road a few kilometres further up from the Lachau Bazaar. Whilst the upper half of this road had been sealed more than a decade ago, the lower half remained as it has always been. Although it was purportedly under the maintenance of CMS Sdn Bhd, proper and scheduled maintenance is apparently lacking judging by the uneven and rocky/stony condition which is hardly fit for vehicles.

Electricity and water supply. It is the dream of every household to have a proper TNB/SESCO- supplied power. We thought, the construction of the Batang Ai Hydroelectric Power Dam would solved this problems for the folks in the Second Division. We were wrong. That project is not for us. Today, we are left gaping at the sights of the pylons and high tension cables bypassing us overhead, bringing the power supply to Kuching. There is some comfort, though, as the long houses are given a generator. Soon, however, it became a burden. They have to buy diesel to keep it going. Even running it for only two hours each night, would incur our long house a diesel bill of RM400.00 a month. For a family who don't have even a small rubber plot and a fix income, the amount they would have to chip in to buy the diesel, though small, is big amount to them.

Turbine (red drum) and Dynamo (blue)

One end of the turbine, powered by water from a nearby waterfall. The water is channelled by pvc pipes into the turbine. The powerful water that turn the turbine spill down to the ground.
The water can be stopped by a vavle (the red lever)
Wilfred Sedau showing the vavle.
This is the picture of a modified Mini Hydroelectric power generator used by a Penan in his home. It is powered by a 3kilowatt dynamo which is enough for a home. Total cost is in between RM3,000 to RM5,000.
However, for bigger use by a long house community, I would suggest a more elaborate Micro Hydroelectric Power (MHP) which can supply generators ranging from 3kilowatt to 18kilowatt at the cost of up to RM30,000. Components which include turbines, generators and stabilisers are factory- manufactured which guarantee safety and dependability.
A dam, however, will have to be built and designed to supply the water to power the turbine. To save cost, it can be built by the long house people themselves.
There is nothing new about this technology. One has been built in Abok Mawang, Sri Aman by a group of UNIMAS students. I'm sure the hundreds of millions that has been allocated for rural development can be utilised for this.

Monday, 2 March 2009

The 76th Army Day Parade on March 1, 2009

At the Tea Reception, after the Parade, I took the opportunity to present the Army Chief, General Tan Sri Ismail Jamaluddin with my books. Contigent from the Military Police Corp. Contigent from The Royal Rangers Regiment
The Army Chief inspecting the Parade
A section of spectators from the Army's Officers Corp
Some of the PGB holders who could make it to the Parade. Notable presence was Captain Abdul Hamid SP. Kanang ak Langkau another SP & PGB holder couldn't make it.
Only twelve (12) SP and PGB holders were present to witness the 76th Army Day Parade at Sungei Besi Camp on March 1, 2009.
The riddle as to why I was never invited to the Army Parades the last few years is now solved. Since I moved out of KL to Taiping 5 years ago, they have not updated my postal address. The same goes to many other Bravery Award Receipients. The Army Secretariat could have asked for the correct address from the Veterans Department who keeps updated records.
For the first time we stayed at the grand new Wisma Transit Kuala Lumpur - a transit for officers, soldiers and their families, replacing the old Transit Camp at Ampang. It is self sufficient with its cookhouse, cafeteria and a shop to cater for soldiers needs.
With fully airconditioned rooms and fittings that you'll find in a 3/4 star hotel, it really is a luxurious treat for soldiers, who all these umpteen years have been given facilities well below par. They deserve such treatment. Well done to the Army.