Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Blooming Malaysia (Malaysia Day article #12)

Pink Poui or Tabebuia rosea  flowering well along a coastal road in Kidurong township, Bintulu.

A double flower Hibiscus hybrid

 I have a great passion for plants which probably was cultivated in my early childhood days of the early 60's when I often provided a helping hand to my grandpa who used to sweep the garden floor and plant fruit trees at a small garden in the village. I used to help my mother water and weed some of the plants she planted around the government quarters house with flowering shrubs, sun-loving herbs and herbaceous annuals. In school I joined the gardening club which encouraged me in the planting of flowers, grasses and trees to beautify the school compound and their maintenace like pruning, fertilising and watering. At a more matured age I was extremely fortunate to be given the portfolio of landscaping of Bintulu town over many years resulting in planting of landscape trees for golf course, parks, roadsides, and many other civic areas like mosques, children's playgrounds, wildlife parks, mini-botanic gardens, recreational beach areas and roundabouts. When I made landscaping my focus in business I did lots of landscape projects for big corporations and foreign companies' housing in Bintulu. When finally I decided to seriously think about the concept of Malaysian garden I spent many years developing a nature park and an urban garden with my own finances so that the concept of Malaysian garden be better explained and experimented upon. This adventure of my life continues.

Through various blogs I hope enthusiasts and practitioners of the Malaysian garden ( Laman Kambatik) will find a ready, online 24x7 and free source of plant names suitable for the Malaysian garden available at their fingertips. The collection of these photos have brought me places all over Malaysia and the thousands of pageviews on the four editions of the plants list series has been worth the time and expenses. Enjoy the blogs and happy gardening.

Happy Malaysia Day Sarawak.

(Note: This is Article #12 in a series to celebrate Malaysia's national day (Malaysia Day) - 16 Sept  annually) 

A composition of shade-loving plants in Kuala Lumpur


Planting with bougainvilleas at a traffic junction in Kuching, Sarawak.

We were once kids (Malaysia Day article #13)


As the year advances the rainy season would appear  more regularly.  In Kuching it rains almost every afternoon while in Bintulu there are more rains in the nights than days.  Come November it would rain heavily, an annual occurrence that makes me wonder how the rhythm of the rains, its appearance and then flight makes me take for granted the passing of time and the sureness of another year. This afternoon, time took me to a rehearsal of the days when I was just like those innocent, energetic and joyously happy kids playing and running on the village football field.  Rain or shine the "We" feeling of comradeship among friends we grew up with are something I always treasure.  Passing the village football field I thought how fortunate I was when I joined my primary and then secondary school soccer teams.  For a young kid, wearing a football jersey and representing the school in a local soccer league is a mountain of achievement.  It happened to me in 1965 when our school won the soccer league.  A black and white photograph that captured the proud moment of achievement is shown below.
Bintulu Government Secondary School team in dark stripes.  I am at the middle of the front row being captain of the soccer team.  This photo is dated 25 January, 1965

In reflection of the times,  here's a poem I wrote about rains which reads:-

November rain

In pouring rain
come November
we were playful kids
drenched in muddy fields
little friendly faces
kept us in cheerful company
in season of togetherness

We've grown to smile at life's pose
the graciousness of true love
in pouring late November rains
we abide passionately 
its season of endless memories.

23 Nov'15
Kambatik Park, Bintulu.

Happy Malaysia Day Sarawak!

(Note: This is Article #13 in a series to celebrate Malaysia's national day (Malaysia Day) - 16 Sept  annually)

This article is adapted from an earlier blog post as in here...>>>> )

To school by sea ( Malaysia Day article #14)

A coastal launch typical of the 60's is seen entering the Miri river mouth.

Picture credit: Ho Ah Chon, "Sarawak in pictures - 1940's - 70's".

  I have very fond memories of my student days at Tanjong Lobang School in Miri of the 60's.  Coming from a remote fishing village town of Bintulu, some 200 kilometers away from Miri,was something to be lauded about because as prospective students we were firstly selected to study at that premier institution of learning.  Most of the students were picked from the central and northern areas of Sarawak.  I studied there starting in 1967 when it was still called 'Tanjong Lobang School', but later changed to 'college' after the government of the day decided to accept only students studying for Form Four till Upper Six to fill the classes there. 

Aerial view of Miri town  in the 60's
Picture credit: Ho Ah Chon
 Travelling to Miri when the school term begins and back to my hometown for the term holidays would entail travelling by sea.  In those days, travel by sea evoked mixed feelings of adventure,fear, mission, sea sickness and sacrifice. I had to endure these experiences for four years  to get the best education available during those times which money cannot buy.  
The journey meant a full day and night in small coastal launch in heavy seas or moderate waves.  In daylight we could see the endless green coast and sandy beaches, felt the salty sprays brushing our young faces and watched the waves ahead and past us.  In reflection we were indeed fortunate to have survived the ordeal at sea because in the 60's we had little choice in travelling to school since road travel from Bintulu to Miri was non-existent and air travel was too expensive and largely beyond the means of most parents.
My travelling journey at sea to begin the school term or back for holidays would not have happened safely if not for the expertise of the ship's captain. I now feel greatly indebted to those unsung heroes.

Happy Malaysia Day Sarawak!

Aerial view of Bintuulu town in the 60's

Note: This is Article #14 in a series to celebrate Malaysia's national day (Malaysia Day) - 16 Sept  annually)

"Little Indonesia" on Sarawak border (Malaysia Day article #15)

 In Kuching last August I had a little window of opportunity to pay another visit to Serikin where the "Little Indonesia" is.  We  took to the road on a Friday morning  to visit the little border town of Serikin. It is about less than an hour drive from Kuching city center. The road to Serikin is all paved and is very safe to travel even alone in your own car. Serikin is where Indonesians bring and trade their goods to Malaysian tourists and visitors. It would take about a day or less for Indonesians to travel by road to Serikin which sits on the Malaysian side of the Indonesian-Malaysian boundary line. Here trade in Indonesian made products are brisk and keep on expanding yearly. It seems to me that the place thrives due to private sector dynamism. Indonesians provide the goods that are produced at relatively cheap cost and sold to Malaysians in Malaysian currency. Transaction-wise, Malaysians are bound to benefit due to the high value of the ringgit ( Malaysian currency) vis-a -vis the Indonesian rupiah. At the same time Indonesians find a captive market for their products. But the attraction of Serikin lies also in its ample and wide range of products from household items, personal attire and accessories, food, furniture, handicrafts and souvenirs, herbal medicines, toys, etc. Today the sun was pouring its heat and the tiny road that tugs the stall on both sides were shied-away by visitors as they preferred to walk under the sheltered canopy of the stalls. Despite the heat I thronged together with hundreds of other eager Malaysians to savour a little of Indonesia. This place has turned out to be a well-patronised "Little Indonesia" on Malaysian soil.

Ethnic designs on textiles

The rattan business is the main attraction at Serikin.  In our local Malaysian culture especially among the natives, rattan is very much ingrained into their daily lifestyles. Rattans are used for ties or fasteners for scaffolding and timber building construction, strings for various purposes e.g. rafts, carrying baskets for industrial, domestic and personal uses, cultural artifacts, furniture, handicraft or souvenir items e.g. bangles, handbags, food covers, mats, chairs, fish traps,etc. Such is the versatility, robustness, and usefulness of this climbing palm species from the jungles of Kalimantan (Indonesia) and also Sarawak. You can be spoilt for choices. Rattan mats of varying sizes, patterns and material mixes ( e.g. rattan plus tree bark) catches up with Malaysian tastes and fads. The prevalence of these mats indicate the richness and sustainability of the rattan plants in Indonesia while in Malaysia these plants are a declining and dying species in large part due to conversion of virgin forests to oil palm plantations and acacia plantations for the production of pulp especially in Bintulu area.
A female supplier for rattan mats downloading her motorcycle fully loaded with folded rattan mats.

A plate of krepek
The wordings in Indonesian Malay indicate the type of chips available. "Bandung" is tapioca, "Pisang" means banana and "Keladi" is for yam. A packet above costs RM 5 .

I tried some free samples of chips ( see inset) before I decided to take home a packet of spicy tapioca chips . On the plate were chips from the breadfruit, yam, banana and tapioca. They were all very crispy, tasty ,fried and without any preservatives. In Malaysia now there is a growing interest in the processing of chips as a cottage industry because the rural entrepreneurs produce the basic material plus many of them enjoy some micro -credit assistance from banks and other financing institutions. Many of them are eyeing the export of chips to overseas countries especially Arab nations where consumers are concerned with 'halal' food products and Malaysia is only one of the few Islamic countries that is pursuing 'halal' manufacturing hubs on a global scale. However, for export purposes the products are rigorously manufactured and packaged to meet international standards of quality, safety and longer shelf-life.

Needless to say, today was another  fun outing to a gradually popular destination  for visitors to Kuching city  called "Little Indonesia", but sitting squarely on Malaysian soil.

Happy Malaysia Day Sarawak! 

Note: This is Article #15 in a series to celebrate Malaysia's national day (Malaysia Day) - 16 Sept  annually)

Puzzles in the Malaysia Plan ( Malaysia Day article #16)

The Council Negeri meeting in Kuching, Sarawak on Malaysia Day 1963.


# If SUPP (Sarawak United Peoples Party) had won the 1963 direct election and formed the state government, there is every likelihood that Sarawak would be an independent state today.  The formation of Malaysia is the end of a dream of the CCO (Clandestine Communist Organisation)

# SUPP condemned the Malaysia proposal as unacceptable to the peoples of Sarawak.

#  On 4th September, the newly elected Council Negeri, sitting for the first time, passed a resolution welcoming the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia by 31 votes to 5, all the five 'no' votes came from SUPP.

# The Malaysia Agreement cannot be changed through constitution because this agreement was signed among sovereignties.  The Malaysia Agreement was signed on 9th July,1963 by Britain, Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah in London.

# The Malaysia Agreement stated that Malaysia would be proclaimed on 31st August 1963.  However, due to the turn of events i.e. the Presidents of Indonesia and Philippines wanted if truly the peoples of Sarawak endorse  the Malaysia Plan and wanted the 1962 and 1963 Elections to be verified.  Thus the UN sent a mission.  This delayed the launching of Malaysia till 16 September, 1963.

#  Even Malaya was itself only partly independent in that it relied on Britain for its defense.

#  Although British officials still remain in administrative capacities in Sarawak and Sabah, they did so at the behest of elected governments.

#  One of the reasons that the British government pushed for more self-rule in the last days of colonialism in Sarawak was that they feel unwelcomed by the anti-cessionist movement.  Thus this fact points at the role played by the anti-cessionists in bringing about the formation of Malaysia.

#  The process of decolonisation saw the leaders of the colonial states of North Borneo (Sabah)  and Sarawak to seek ways to achieve independence.  The British appointed Malcolm Mac Donald as High Commissioner to the territories implied that British policy was to coordinate and push for the merger development in Malaya, Singapore, and the three Borneo territories.

#  The Cobbold Commission can be said to have functioned as an important "cover" to legitimate the British decision to withdraw from Sarawak without having first granted self-government, as promised at the time of Cession.

# It would be more appropriate to presume that the British plan for the disposal of the colonies was in accordance to their grand plan.  They suggested, and the Tunku concurred.

Patriotic songs and flags waving on the main stage during the Malaysia Day celebration (National level) held in Bintulu at the Old Airport site. on 16th September,2016.

Happy Malaysia Day Sarawak!

(Note: This is Article #16 in a series to celebrate Malaysia's national day (Malaysia Day) - 16 Sept  annually)

Najib is listening


I was overjoyed when I heard over the TV1 news yesterday that the Federal Government has finally agreed to make Malaysia Day a public holiday for all the 13 states of Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak included. The Malaysia Day issue has been a sore point in the relations between the eastern and western states of Malaysia for many years . I have written at least three posts on this issue here and here and again here.

Malaysia was formed on 16th September,1963 when the ex- British colonial states of Sabah, Sarawak and the Malay States of Malaya decided to form a Federation despite being distanced and separated by the South China Sea. The one anomaly in Malaysian history that remained uncorrected and purposely avoided by generation of Malaysian top leaders was the fact that while the act of forming the modern federalised political entity was a major historical landmark, it was never given official recognition and a source of pride by setting aside a day like a public holiday to remember it. Forty five(45!) years have passed and yesterday it was finally agreed by Federal leaders that it is time to give due recognition to the eastern states of Malaysia for their sacrifice and compromise in teaming up with the Malayan states to form Malaysia. Of course, it will be in the interest of historians in future to outline the reasons why and how the decision was made. But to me, living in the present I am more inclined to give my version of what made the Prime Minister changed his mind. Najib has always been adamant about the demands of the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak. Why did he change his mind? For one thing, the politics in West Malaysia has been bad for UMNO ( Najib's ruling party) recently where in the last election it lost five (5) states to the opposition parties. It could remain in power today because the eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak are giving UMNO full support by siding UMNO at the Parliamentary level. Assuming both states withdraw their support, UMNO would sit on the opposition bench - a dreadful thought for any UMNO leader. Secondly, I find that despite the hype about" One Malaysia" concept mooted by Najib ( since he took over the reins of the government a few months ago) the states of Sabah and Sarawak gave it a lukewarm response for reasons we all understand ( if you are a Sarawakian or a Sabahan). I am speculating here. But could it be that the celebration to commemorate Malaysia Day in Kuching recently with its dismal turnout made Najib radically revise his calculations? What do Sarawakian leaders and peoples want to show? Thus in a pre-emptive move he quickly announced yesterday the need to make Malaysia Day a public holiday. Najib is listening and Sarawak gets what it wants without begging.

( The above article is a re-post from another blog of mine, follow this link...>>> )