This tragedy came too soon before we can even digest the first one (MH370).
To those abroad the ill-fated MH17, you’re in our thoughts and prayers……
This tragedy came too soon before we can even digest the first one (MH370).
To those abroad the ill-fated MH17, you’re in our thoughts and prayers……
Chinese Community Council of Australia Media Release 18 July 2014
The tragic news came through this morning (18 July 2014), on SKY and CNN TV news that Malaysian Airline flight MH17 had crashed in Ukraine with 295 passengers including 27 Australians aboard.
The loss of all passengers on MH370 seemed not so long ago and now another tragic loss of 295 lives on MH17 seems so impossible and yet it happened. On behalf of the Council, we express our deepest condolences to the families in Australia, Netherlands, Malaysia, and other countries, who have lost their loved ones on flight MH17.
It is hope that the authorities in Australia, Malaysia, Holland together with Europe, America and particularly the UN, meet together to gather more accurate information about the crash and through their efforts, make the world a safer place to fly.
Dr Anthony Pun, OAM
A touching story featured in yesterday’s Oriental Daily (a Chinese language newspaper, 不知妈妈去世 “孝顺”猫肉留母自己啃土 ) once again proved that filial piety is not only practice by human beings but by some animals too. In this case, the “good son” was a kitten.
This stray kitten was spotted by some rescue workers wandering along an alley in South Korea. They followed it back to its mother who was lying motionless in a corner. Unaware that its mother had died, the hungry kitten survived by eating mud and twigs and also, drinking water from a puddle nearby.
But what moved the rescue workers to tears was when they saw the hungry kitten carrying a little piece of meat in its mouth back to where its dead mother laid and placed it near her mouth, hoping that she would wake up and eat it.
According to South Korea’s SBS television program which aired a video clip featuring this filial kitten, some plastic bags were found in the mother’s belly. These items were thought to have killed her because she could not digest them. Most probably people tossed food to her together with the plastic bags. She was too hungry and ate the plastic bags too since they contained the smell and flavor of the food.
But all well ends well – the filial kitten was quickly taken up for adoption. The knowledge that it has found a roof over its head, food and love will bring smiles to those who loves animals.
June is an interesting month for me. I got to meet readers from all walks of life buying my book at D7, The Refinery, when they went there for a cooking demonstration, art jam or simply to have a cup of coffee.
At a nyonya cooking demonstration in mid June, among the interesting personalities I met was Judy Lam whose family used to own Hotel Lok Ann in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown. We all knew this famous hotel had been sealed off to make way for the MRT project. Her family is still fighting to keep this piece of heritage. Let’s hope in the end, common sense will prevail.
Another interesting reader I met that morning was Lee Mun Woh who resembled one of my former school teacher. He was a very friendly and humorous person and yes, very generous too – he gave me a big note and said smilingly, keep the change!
The following week, I met Chan Sook Mun from Ipoh. She was in Kuala Lumpur to attend a seminar and was at D7 to have coffee. How glad she was to meet another person from Ipoh and writing about her hometown too, so Sook Mun grabbed a copy of my book without hesitation. My next reader is also from Ipoh. Hoe Yeegn Lougn’s grandfather owes the famous and familiar Nam Fong Piano along Brewster Road and he got a copy for his beloved grandfather who is still in Ipoh.
Esther Siew is a friendly and supportive lady. A mother with three beautiful daughters, she was from Petaling Jaya and was very glad she came to D7 and saw my book. It didn’t take much persuasion to have this delightful lady purchased a copy to read together with her equally enthusiastic daughters.
Omar Zaini is an architect who came with his elderly mother to draw and paint. She used to be an art teacher and she could still paint very well despite her advanced aged and failing eyesight. Zaini bought a copy for his mother as a gift.
I caught Abigail who was on the way to have her coffee and guess what, she instantly picked up a copy. She told me she loves reading English books, especially those by local writers. From her face, I could see she was very happy with the book in her hand.
Today, I met another lady who loves to read. Rachel is a mother from Johore and she was very much into reading English books too. She read mostly books by writers from India and told me, “Wow, I love your book! I must have a copy straight away. Please don’t forget to let me know when your second book is out. Give me a call or notify me.”
Then the most dramatic moment came. Zung Heng, the international award-winning Malaysian photographer and his friend, Angelld Quah, walked past on their way to have their coffee. They were very interested in my book and yes, they bought a copy too!
I guess coming out to meet my readers personally is most rewarding and satisfying….. I got to meet interesting people from all walks of life besides telling them more about my book.
In 1950s, Menglembu was blessed with 2 large patches of green within the town centre. Patch A (see picture) was a green park with swings bounded by the old railway road (now Jalan Lee Ming Hin), the back end of the terrace houses in Main Road (now Jalan Lahat), the mysterious house & hidden temple, the Lee Wan Sang house, the toddy shop & public toilet. Patch A has a softer and moist surface. Patch B (see picture) was a vacant lot bounded by the old bicycle repair shop, No 61 Main Road, the mysterious house with a long brick wall, previously a soya sauce manufacturing place, and the Main Road. A satellite map of these two patches are shown above. Parch B is a grassed area with harder and drier surface. Bat ball games can be played on the two green patches but Patch A was more suitable for soccer games. Today, Parch B no longer exists and is occupied a row of terrace houses.
In all the bat and ball games described here, the bat is made from rubber wood and used tennis ball is used.
The first bat ball game, called BG1, was an adaption of the American baseball game. The players were divided into two teams of nearly equal capabilities and even distribution of age in the teams. Normally, a minimum of 4 players were required. On the field, 4 bricks were placed on the ground forming the corners of a diamond shape. The home brick (see illustration above) and brick No 2 faced each other whilst brick 1 and brick 3 facing each other. The toss of a coin was used to choose the batting and bowling sides. Once chosen, the batsman stayed behind the home brick, the bowler behind the brick No 2 and his team mates (fielders) were scattered all over the field behind the bricks No 1, 2 and 3..
The direction of the run for the batsman is counter-clockwise, starting with the brick No 1, Brick No 2 and Brick No 3 and finally the home brick. The game began when the batting team sent out the first batsman and the bowler team sent out its bowler. The bowler is usually the strongest of their players and sometimes they did switch bowlers during the game. The batting team took turns to become batsman and they position themselves just in front of the home brick.
The bowler faced the batsman. He “chucked” the ball in a similar fashion as the baseball bowler would but never a gentlemanly fashion as the cricket player. The aim of the batsman was to hit the bowler’s body (if it did, the bowler is out) or the home brick, and the batsman job was to defend his body and home brick with a bat fashioned generally from a piece of rubber tree fire wood, shaped like a cricket bat but flat. A baseball bat was never used. The batsman could also “whack” the ball in the air. If the ball was caught in the air, the batsman was called out.
The batsman hits the ball and he dropped his bat on the ground. As the ball was up in the air, the batsman would attempt to circle as many bricks as possible (making sure he was on the left side of every brick). Meanwhile, the fielders was attempting to retrieve the ball as fast as possible and return it to the bowler who would attempt to use the ball to hit the body of the batsman. Alternatively, the bowler can hit any brick whilst the batsman is running. If successful, the batsman is out. Otherwise, depending on the risk of being hit by the returning ball, the batsman had a choice of stopping at a brick and putting his foot on it. Whilst his foot is on the brick, he could not be called out even if the ball hit him. There was no referee in these games and at times, controversial decisions taken can cause the game to be abandoned. When a batsman returned behind his home brick, the team score one point. In summary, a batsman could be called out when his ball was caught by a fielder in the air, being hit by a ball whilst running in between bricks or the (another variation), the ball hit the brick before he could reached it with his foot.
When a batsman has to stop to rest his foot on brick 1, 2 or 3, another batsman comes out to bat. As the ball is hit, both of them will try to retain to the home brick. Each batsman returns score a point. Both batsman can be a body target also and if they get hit whist running, they are considered out.
When all the batsman were declared out, the team changes side and the game continues. The team with the highest score was the winner. This was an example of a team effort game played by the children of Menglembu. The game was usually played when the sun is not high in the sky or a cloudy day. The game cost nothing to play.
The second bat and ball game (BG2) is more individualistic and could allow some bullying to take place when confronted with physically strong built bowler. Each player would chose a position in the field by dropping his stone (half-brick size) on the ground and putting one foot on it. A minimum of 5 players were required for a good game and sometimes more than 10 players participated. One player was chosen to be the bowler and he had no home stone. His job was to take a batsman out and occupy his/her home stone.
In the beginning of the game, the bowler toss the ball high up in the air and any batsman can “whack” the ball away from his home stone, whether the ball was still up in the air or on the ground. The bowler would be looking at the batsman on the field and would attempt to occupy a stone if it was not guarded by the foot of a player. Since each batsman could whack the ball with his rubber wood bat, it was rather dangerous to retrieve the ball with your bare hands. You could get whacked with the bat. It would be better to occupy the “whackers” stone rather than to challenge his bat with your hands!
One the ball is safely retrieved by the bowler, he could be standing in a position surrounded by batsman. He would then choose the weakest batsman, and chuck the ball at him whilst the chosen batsman would protect his turf by attempting to whack the ball to away from him. The batsman is out when the ball hit his body, or when the ball is caught in the air by the bowler or his home stone was occupied by the bowler. It was quite a frightening experience for a physically small built batsman when facing a physically big bowler. Of course it hurts when the ball hits your body at close range. Hence bullying little ones did took place. But, one can take revenge, by targeting the bully, and in this case, it was a satisfaction that you can still whack the bully even though you could not cause too much pain. The old principle for a fearless victim was this: “if I could not win the fight, the least I could do, was to bleed all over him!”.
In retrospect, this game was quite rough and despite that, girls were also allowed to play. Nevertheless, it was fun!
On day in 1961, the school decided to train students in From IV how to make public speeches. It was an interesting day as the teachers went around gathering information about their charge and discussing in their teacher’s room who to select. A total of 8 boys were selected for the preliminary program and I was one of the eight selected.
The selection criteria was not known to us and in retrospect, I gathered that they were looking for intelligent bright boys, vocal and extroverted. The topic was “What would you do if you were elected Councillor in Ipoh”. It seemed to be a harmless topic as such, but it did not turn out the way the teachers expected.
Among the 8 selected, at least 4 or 5 of them were noted for being “naughty”, playful and undisciplined. Maybe the teachers wanted to make good boys out of us and that was their mistake. Five of out the group decided to hold a “caucus” meeting during recess and tried to make a common goal in our speeches. Many subjects were discussed and one matter became unanimous. Each of us will use the same statement of action in our speeches.
Speech day came, and all of us Fourth Formers arrived at the School Hall in the main building. Today was the day when we were to utter the same statement of action and we had kept this secret for a whole week. I cannot remember the sequence of the speakers but I remembered that only 4 of us made the same statement in solidarity and we were the last four speakers.
We made the same statement to the effect that we will sack the Principal of ACS Ipoh if we were elected Councillors. This statement is almost “treasonable” in terms of the autocratic rule of the Principals in those days and the Moreira type discipline we had to endure. What made us do it? Was it peer pressure, was it stupidity or just simple madness! No, it was none of that. In our minds then, Mr Teerath Ram was a good Principal much respected and feared at the same time. What would anybody risk canning or sacking?
It was a prank, stupid and simple. We thought we could become heroes after we made the speech and if anything did happened to us, we could become martyrs to our cause of being a rebel. To this day, I still do not understand why it happened and why we allowed it to happen. In our moment of madness we have forgotten about responsibility of speech nor did anyone taught us in school about this.
The controversial speeches caught the teachers by surprise and they had a week to decide what to do with us. Luckily, we did not make any defamatory remarks in regard to the reasons for sacking the Principal. We, the offenders, did not have a good week either because rumours were floating around about imminent public canning or even expulsion from school. I believe it was a crisis for the school. The question is whether the school can expel 4 students in one go? What is the public consequence to the school, the reaction of their parents and the reputation of the school?
On the other hand, we live in democracy and free speech is important right of a citizen. Does the statement “sack the Principal” a defamatory remark by itself? Or the remark, an “expulsion” offence?
Fortunately, none of the nightmare came about, canning or expulsion. In their wisdom, the teachers and Principal have decided that the students needed serious counselling in making public speeches. To our relief, we were pardoned by the Principal. One would think otherwise that the school which was strictly governed by a Moreira’s Cane would take a soft option. None expected this compassionate action and yet in crisis, a wise decision was made to re-model the “prankster”. And modify their behaviour consistent with the then current community values.
We were quietly and seriously counselled and made to promise not to do it again. It was not the first time our group got into trouble with school authorities, it was the most serious offence so far. We are indebted to the wisdom of the teachers in giving us another chance to finish our secondary school education.
In retrospect, having sat on the legal bench and pronouncing legal decisions, I must say that the statement itself is not defamatory but mischievous as it undermines the disciplinary system of the school. Challenging the establishment may not be a criminal offence but inciting rebellious behaviour in school should not be tolerated. Outside the school, political debates are full of these similar statements and yet people accepted it as a fair comment if backed by facts. However, a hierarchical system exists in the school and the discipline must be maintained for good character development. Counselling is far more superior than canning or expulsion and in this case all the “naughty” boys were successful in world as professional or business people and indeed, they benefitted from a school of discipline, compassion and care, and that is the Ipoh ACS.
For those readers who had read the Cendol man story in the small playing field of the 1950s would appreciate that the “new” carpentry block was built in the late 1950s to include carpentry as a vocational subject. Under the captaincy of our favourite teacher, Mr Chan Tuck Wah (fondly known to us as Bodak), the carpentry subject flourished in ACS Ipoh, just as the typewriting class and the industrial art class (stationed next to the Boys room under Mr Negara’s office).
I took carpentry for one year and learned quite a number of things from Mr Chan. The most unforgotten thing in my mind was the word “Meranti”, a kind of wood, which still ringed in my memory after more than 50 years have passed. This wood was abundantly available in Malaya and would be less expensive to use other woods for practice.
We learned how to use the basic carpentry tools, the chisel, and the wooden & metal plane, the hammer and chisel action, drilling and gluing. The basic task in keeping the tools sharp was an important skill in carpentry and blunt tools were not only useless for work but dangerous. Each of us was given a sharpening stone and began to learn how to sharpen the chisel, firstly the up down motion with the angled side down on the stone and later the circular motions. Finally, the chisel is turned around and all blurred areas removed. Similar sharpening techniques were used for the blade from the plane.
Next lesson was about planning the wood to give a smooth surface. You always plane in the same direction of the wood grain, Mr Chan used to emphasise this basic action. Yes, we did tried to do the opposite and we took chunks out of the wood. You get a knock in the head with that piece of wood before you get another piece of meranti.
After some lessons on planning, we went on to make joints. Simple joints, dove tail joints and other multiple exotic joints. Some students are better than others and they were moved upwards and given projects to really built things, such as chairs, tables and cupboards (the latter required high skills). Unfortunately, I was not too good with my hands then, and had to remain to making joints with no nails. I remember Lam Kok Wah (Falim boy) was pretty good with his hands and was miles ahead of me in carpentry.
The most dangerous occupation in the carpentry shop was electrically powered devices such as the electric sharpener for knives and blades and the lathe. I spend some time learning how to fashion a block of wood into table legs. With the wood properly locked on into the lathe. I put my safety goggles on, place the lathe guard in position and turn the lathe on. With gentle pressure on the chisel onto the rotating piece of wood I began to shape the piece of wood with no plans for its shape. It was fun! In the next carpentry class, it was classmate turn to be on the lathe. He had an accident on the lathe and he later told me that it all looked too easy and he began to be inpatient and pushed the chisel too hard against the rotating block of wood. There was a loud “ping”, and hid chisel was snapped and the broken piece hit the roof and fell on the floor. Luckily, no one was hurt. Yes, Mr Chan had told us before not to apply too much pressure on the wood and something like that would happened.
What is the use of learning carpentry when you want to be a professional anyway? Wrong again. The carpentry lessons gave me skills which I did not realise that I would need later in life. I stayed in Australia after finishing my degrees, I bought my own house and started to tool up my garage. I had to survive as a handyman since I could not afford to pay carpenters, electricians and plumbers to do all the small repair jobs in the house. Yes, I bought chisels, screw drivers, hammers (iron & wooden), screws, electric drills, electrical sharpening tools, electric sander, and elementary carpentry tools for joining and aligning and gluing wood. All these tools came in handy, but without the elementary education by Ipoh ACS Carpentry Shop, I would have been scared to use power towels. I even got myself an electric router and power saw. Here again, the skills accumulated in the humble carpentry shop became an asset to me in my adult life. The moral of the story is also simple: learn a skill today and you will always use it in the future even though you can’t see it now. I am not the best carpenter but at least I can change the door hinge, resize the door to fit the door frame, put in a lock on the door, and strengthen wooden frames with glue or screws. From my school vocational education I have become a simple handyman (including some plumbing & minor electric work) and save a bundle of money which I cannot afford to spend in my younger days. Thanks you Mr Chan Tuck Wah.