You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2007.

A few months ago, I watched on BBC the recent North Korean military parade. An immaculate show of power that symbolizes the country’s firm stance on what it believes, or at least what their leaders believe. When Kim Yong-Il took the stage for his speech, an audience of thousands clapped vivaciously in a simultaneous fashion. The clapping went on for at least 15 minutes, before Kim Yong-Il can start his speech. From what I can see, military personnel monitored the clapping, making sure everybody claps. I can see these armed personnel pointing at weak clappers, shouting in anger.

It reminds me of the Soviet Union’s Revolution Day parade in the 80s. A similar demonstration of power, with thousands of audience lined up along the Red Square, waving the hammer and sickle flag. I can recall seeing a man getting the butt of a Politburo militiaman’s Avtomat Kalashnikova for not waving the red flag. All done in the name of what they (their leaders) believe, communism. Can it be called patriotism?

In the mainstream newspapers today, Rais Yatim said, buildings with no Jalur Gemilang during the 50 years independence celebration will be ridiculed in the media. Utusan wrote, as “punishment”. Rais, are you saying that you withdrew from the Commonwealth secretary-general race just to make statements like this?

Patriotism cannot be forced, no?

Advertisements

In the 60s, life in the Royal Malay Regiment was hard. At least hard enough to be honest. An independent country was still in its infancy. Economic development, racial tension, communism and citizenship issues were what most people had to embrace and face. No exceptions for the Royal Malay Regiment. They had to counter all, especially with the communists’ armed threat and the May 13th tragedy. During the latter, they had to bring down anybody with parangs, anybody who posed threat. The situation was totally fucked up.

Joo was a Major in the Royal Malay Regiment. He was a good soldier and an excellent officer. But he has issues with his higher ranks. He refuses to obey their personal orders. Personal, corrupted orders. His higher ranks decided to reassign him. Soon after, Joo was a personal bodyguard for Ghazali Shafie, a secretary for Malaysia’s Ministry of External Affairs at that time.

His service to Ghazali was more than just physical safety. Joo has become more or less like an assistant, thus showed Ghazali’s professional affection towards him. He received privileges that his higher ranks can only dream of. Out of jealousy, they had to do something. Once again, he was reassigned.

This time as an officer in a remote district in Sabah. Joo accepted this challenge and began his service in Sabah. He left his wife and children behind because of the environment. An environment not suitable to bring up a family, what more a young family like Joo’s. He spent one year in Sabah before he received a call from Ghazali Shafie. Ghazali asked him to retire from the Royal Malay Regiment.

Ghazali had strong ties with the Sultan of Selangor. It so happens that the Sultan needed a new protocol officer. Ghazali suggested Joo. Joo resigned from the Royal Malay Regiment and started his new role as the Sultan’s protocol officer, an aid to the Sultan. As always, Joo performed well with his responsibilities. Things were starting to get better for Joo. The Sultan took good care of Joo and his family. But then, the happiness was cut short by envy, yet again.

Distant royalties in the istana were uncomfortable with the Sultan’s relationship with Joo. To them, subjects should not be that close to a Sultan, what more receiving privileges such as borrowing the Sultan’s car! (the Sultan offered Joo, not the other way around). They started bad-mouthing Joo. This then leaded to slander. The wise Sultan didn’t believe what he heard. Joo in the other hand decided that if the royal family doesn’t like his presence around, he’s willing to go. He asked the Sultan to let him go.

The Sultan concurred with Joo’s decision. His highness didn’t force Joo to stay but decided to bargain give tribute. Before Joo left, the Sultan told Joo, “I am sad to let a friend go. To show my appreciation to you, I’m giving you the Dato’ship”. Joo replied, “I’m sorry but I don’t think I’m an adequate candidate for that position”. The Sultan continued, “How about a huge piece of land in Batu Tiga?” Joo humbly replied, “There are others who needed the land more than I do”.

The land intended is at the heart of the present Shah Alam.

I can’t stand the words how could you when I’ve done nothing wrong. Yes, I’m selfish. Selfish enough to think only about my future rather than others. I’m not going to apologize since they fucked me up in the first place. There’s no heart left in this god forsaken place. Goodbye is just a matter of time.

When he talks, he bores. When he acts, he falls short. Words that came out from his mouth were mostly unconvincing, insincere, pre-planned, lame and of course outdated. But yet, he seems to believe in what he says. “Orang putih di negara barat yang bertaraf eksekutif pun kebanyakannya menaiki pengangkutan awam. London Tube. Mereka memakai bowler hat dan membawa payung sekali. Heheh!” His final smirk makes it all worse.

Ah, he doesn’t care about the people. He’s weak. He looks weak, his words are weaker and his actions are the weakest. Imagine one day when he becomes the premier (God forbid!), he’ll be giving a typical, overused, speech something like, “Kita patut bersyukur kepada Allah SWT kerana dapat hidup dalam suasana aman-damai, harmoni dan muhibbah disamping peningkatan ekonomi yang semakin mantap di bumi bertuah Malaysia”. I assure you he’ll be looking down, reading the whole script and looks up to the crowds or cameras just slightly before the word Malaysia.

Dia juga Menteri Pertahanan, Nuri dah banyak kali jatuh. Aku yakin Nuri akan tetap beroperasi dan akan jatuh lagi. Siang tadi aku nampak sebiji Nuri terbang rendah di langit Sungai Besi.

Weak and unconvincing, leadership are not necessarily inherited by blood.

As I was nearing the corner, I saw a pudgy man standing outside a barbershop. His receding hairline seemed obvious. He was smartly dressed, with a red tie that some people prefer to call a power tie, and a grey suit. My first guess was he’s in his late 40s, waiting for somebody. Business maybe. It was kind of awkward since the dodgy neighbourhood seems to reject the presence of this man.

I, in the other hand was just passing through. Killing time some would say. Driving though such places opens my mind and makes me think about a lot of things. To be honest, most of them are sad things. Anyway, I looked at the man’s face. He was sweating like most people in this tropical climate. Maybe the suit made him sweat more. Our eyes met. I quickly looked forward as if I never even had a glimpse of him. From the corner of my eyes I can see him coming towards my car.

Damn! Why is the car in front not moving? Why must there be a traffic jam at this particular moment? I was at a stand still. I checked my doors. It was locked. Good. There was a knock on the opposite window. It was that pudgy man. He pointed his index finger at me and draws it to his lips. Hush was his signal. All of a sudden, he punched a pedestrian lady nearby, grabbed her bag and took off, disappearing into the crowds of hoodlums, layman and angels. I froze.

The traffic began to move. I realized it when somebody honked. I was still in shock. As I was just pushing down the handbrakes, a BMW X5 slotted itself in front of me, intentionally sideways. It was seated in full capacity. I seemed to recognize the driver. His co-driver was a dark, chubby man with excessive amount of eye shadows. The rest of his passengers were also softies playing ‘sep-sep-sep, tum-tum-tum’ with each other. The scene was appalling, or maybe it’s just me. The driver was waving at me. His hair was blonde and spiky. His foundation make-up level was out of this world. He was smiling widely and still waving his hands at me. From what I understand from his hand signals, he was inviting me to join them.

Now I know who he was. Aznil Nawawi. Yes, the Aznil Nawawi. Again I checked my doors. Locked. I can’t move forward. At the back a cab parked itself inches too close. The driver was nowhere to be found. I’m stuck again. In my stereotyped mind I thought, softies are much stronger than a normal male. I was scared. Another thirteen minutes inside my car, sitting still, stationary.

*****

Found my way upstairs and had a smoke
Somebody spoke and I went into a dream

Di atas ku lihat mendung,
Burung-burung enggan lagi berkicauan,
Rerama enggan lagi bersayap,
Angin kurasakan dingin

Di bawah ku lihat semut,
Berteritip enggan lagi berjabat,
Berduyun enggan lagi bersahabat,
Hujan mula menitik

Dalam kebasahan ku melangkah ke depan,
Berselisih mereka-mereka yang merdeka,
Manusia-manusia enggan lagi menoleh,
Dalam kebasahan ku terus melangkah

Ku berhenti seketika,
Melihat atas, bawah dan depan,
Di dalam mendung, dingin dan basah,
Alangkah indahnya semalu menggeliat

I was at peace. Cleared my mind and focused for what’s ahead. I desire, I write, I planned and I write again. That moment, I cared only for myself and it was bliss.

Not for long. Something came up. Well something came up for someone. I doubt that it has anything to do with me but my evil inside said otherwise. Again, I fell into the dark side. Everything suddenly became bad. Bliss was nowhere to be found. I was angry. I was in pain. I was disillusioned. I was the fool who swears by the moon and gets duped by a simple speculation by my own self. I was exhausted.

*****

The sky was beautiful that day. At a perfect proportion of fluffy white and soothing blue. It was chilly but it’s ok. I was not angry anymore, nor in pain nor disillusioned. It has to be perfect because that day, I’m going to meet you.

This time it’s not about some whacky rugby tournament. Not about the cuts and bruises, the stud mark below my left eye. Not even about the crunching sound of a perfect tackle. Ah, all small potatoes.

Now, it should be more subtle, wickedly subtle. The blow I would get is when answering the questions. Yes, the damn old, tricky, difficult, mind-boggling questions. If this is going to be my second, I should remind myself of my first ever work interview, about two and a half years ago. First question from the interviewer, “Can you start work next week?

Damn it! What experience do I have in these kinds of things?

Gerimis damai kala dinihari,
Aku melompat ke persada ini,
Meninggalkan segala yang tak pasti,
Dan menyedari, mereka semua deras berlari

Aku terpaku, melopong walau mereka sedia memberi
Melopong, terpaku; aku didalam teka-teki

Aku berdiri,
Menghela nafas panjang;
Dengan namaMu yang maha merahmati,
Aku bersedia menggerakkan kaki

10/11/2005 1.30am

Here I come,
With a psychedelic gun in my hand
Shooting the apple on your head

Caramel,
Bitterness trapped in sweetness
Ignoring the call for forgiveness

Take your time,
We can finish this off tomorrow
No one can ever live in sorrow