Sunday, October 30, 2016

Forum: Bersederhana Dalam Beragama

As you have already known, Penang was hit by a heavy downpour late evening yesterday, culminating in a severe flash flood in several areas including Ayer Itam, Jalan P Ramlee, and Bayan Lepas (I was informed that certain flights were forced to be re-scheduled).

My area (Bukit Jambul) was moderately affected, resulting in me staying home.

I was initially planning to go to this forum, conducted in Sungai Ara, just next to my house, before heavy rain thwarted my plan. It was moderated by Ustaz Ahmad Jailani, with Dr Rozaimi and Dr Asri sitting on the panellist chairs. All three of them are highly respectable figures with extensive knowledge on Islam.

I first heard of Dr Asri more than ten years ago...during my first spell in USM. Dr Asri was already a rising star then, causing ripples here and there with his brand of new thinking (Reformist and Kaum Muda were Dr Asri's most popular labels during those time).

Dr Asri taught Munakahad, a popular Minor subject among physics/biology/chemistry students back then (I deviated from the norm by taking Management), and always mesmerised his students with his vast memorisation and deep understanding of Hadith. His aura and influence grew exponentially until he was elevated to the status of Mufti by the state government of Perlis.

Dr Rozaimi, now a senior lecturer in UPSI, was heavily influenced by Dr Asri's charisma when he finally decided to further his PhD in Hadith in Jordan (he was formerly in SyariahMuamalat). That proves to be a very wise decision as he is fast becoming a second Dr Asri (he is widely seen as a younger version of Dr Asri). Sharp, witty and hugely talented in organising his thoughts, I am now spending more time listening to his ceramah compared to Dr Asri's. 

Ustaz Ahmad Jailani, a lawyer, came to prominence when he was wrongfully accused of helping a Muslim woman to leave Islam (murtad). This accusation came in a PhD thesis submitted in UKM, which was widely derided as the thesis appeared to be very low in quality, nowhere near the standard that is required of a PhD thesis. Ustaz Ahmad Jailani has a PhD from England, although he never uses the title "Dr" in his accompanying name.

Ustaz Ahmad Jailani and Dr Rozaimi/Dr Asri has some disagreements over some issues, but this never prevented them from sitting together. It's heartwarming to see people with different stance can come together to discuss issues that they are in agreement with. They are truly an embodiment of the real spirit of Islam.

I spent almost my entire Sunday's evening (today) watching this recording, which ran at two and a half hours long, which was worth every minute of it. An interesting point was shared by Dr Asri on minutes 1.24.30 of the video, regarding entertainment in Islam. I intended to write all that was said during the forum, but time is running out as Malaysia Cup final between Kedah and Selangor is starting any minutes now.

I highly recommend this video, as it is full of knowledge concerning the real teaching of Islam (towards the end of the video, during question & answer session, Dr Asri commented about recent failed attack on Kaabah). Wasatiyyah is the way of Islam, not extremism.   

Saturday, October 29, 2016

More Movies

1. Tonight, I'm still out of mood to write (there's a third instalment of USM Convo 2016 wrap up the previous two. It covers the very fine performances by Sakura Band and Dayang Nurfaezah during their closing ceremony concerts).

2. It's a feel good story...but how can you write a feel good story when the good feeling is not there? That's why I'm putting it on hold.  

3. Mood is the primary driving force of my writing. During my youth, I write regardless of it was not unusual back then to find me ranting endlessly about nothing at all.

4. I always support our local music bands. I didn't buy their albums or merchandise (for economic reason...I'm almost broke), so the only way to show my support and appreciation towards them is to attend their concert, simple as that. 

5. They entertained us when we were that's my little token of appreciation for all their effort and hard work.

6. I received an important call today from the main office...directing me to report for duty next week (Nov 1). That call effectively ended my long "sabbatical" leave. It gave me a mixed feeling...I'm still unsure whether to feel happy or sad.

7. For movies, these are those four movies that I mentioned yesterday. All these are highly enjoyable and are worth watching (the first and last movie [Schindler's List & Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind] are both highly rated and critically acclaimed. In fact, Schindler's List is listed among the greatest movie ever made).

8. That's all for today.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


This week, I am blessed (again) with plenty of free time.

So in order not to waste all those precious time, I watched all these movies (I finished another four besides these four as of today; two yesterday, two a day before yesterday, but I am not updating it yet).

All four are highly watchable...especially the Snow White series.

I've had no mood to write anything tonight...I'm doing some casual reading.

So, good night.   

USM Convo 2016 (2)

1. Dark clouds hovered on the horizon as USM continued her Convocation's festival.

2. The crowd was less than last year; this was expected as students were home enjoying their mid-semester break.

3. I was told by one of the cafeteria operators (Desasiswa Aman Damai) that an Officer from USM ordered her to cease operation for a while. This, I think, was part of a concerted move to assist stalls in convocation arena to achieve more sales.

4. I moaned quietly as I was thinking where would I buy my dinner tomorrow? The observant cafe operator noticed my grief, and she offered a quick solution,"boleh pi cafe bawah...mungkin depa bukak?"

5. "Saya jarang pi sana...selalu memang saya mai sini", was my subsequent reply.    

6. My answer elicited a strange duality of feelings to her...both joy and sympathy. She quickly gave me free food that she packed earlier (fried egg and sausages).

7. And then, the night came.

8. Drama Band was scheduled to perform after 9 p.m. I knew this band from my time in Unimas, when I was truly enthralled by a girl's rendition of the band's song Cerita Dia (I wrote about it here).

9. The much awaited show started around half past nine. 

10. Aepol Roza, the vocalist, appeared to be a playful character on stage. Actually, he was the composer of Ronnie Husin's hit song, Dikoyak Waktu.

11. Contrary to popular belief, I had nothing but respect for Ronnie. Even Kechik addressed him as "sifu"...signalling his own admiration for him. So the rumours of discontent between them were just that...fiction.   

12. Aepol certainly lived up to expectation. On stage, he enjoyed himself and was lifting the crowd's mood as well. He moved around the stage with ease, dancing to the tunes of his song. 

13. He knew exactly how to properly channel his energy. There were times when he slowed down his movement in accordance with the song's tone...only to raise it a couple of bars higher later to keep up with the pace of the music.

14. They presented five songs in total...including a rendition of Jon Bon Jovi's hit song It's My Life. They did enough to captivate the audience while keeping them entertained. 

15. A good performance on a good night was a fitting finale on a rather good day.     

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

USM Convo 2016

1. Convocation week is back in the groove.

2. There are plenty of lights and sounds again permeating the drab atmosphere surrounding Malaysia's only Apex university, USM.

2. Some people were drawn by the carnival-like atmosphere; some were excited by the great deal of foods on offer; while some were drooled by the graduation ceremony itself.

3. Me? I was only interested in concerts.

4. Last year, Hujan entertained us with a succession of their hit songs. Noh was exceptional...full of energy and enthusiasm, he treated the crowd with respect (he ordered one of the spectators who removed his shirt to put it back on as there were VIPs present).

5. It rained when Hujan took the stage last year. Luckily it wasn't this year.

6. Man Kidal kicked off the show with a rousing start. Armed with his trademark left-handed guitar, he showed off his skills in swashbuckling style. Rock-queen Ella followed through with her evergreen golden voice.

7. Special mention deserved to be allocated towards a family of Chinese who performed admirably in the Battle of the Band contest. Police officers from north-east district of Penang (who nicknamed themselves NEPD) also made a special appearance as contestant.

8. I hope this wind of joy continues unabated till the end of the week. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016


This is a list of movies that I've spent considerable amount of my precious time to watch (or waste) this week.

The latest is The Visit, which I just finished just now, while waiting for UEFA Cup to start (in an hour's time). This movie gives you an uncomfortable chill right through your bones. I can't say it's a good movie...but I can't say it's bad either.

I watched Inferno yesterday in cinema, which was a bit of a disappointment. To make up for that, Syafiq recommended that I watch Identity (which I already watched back in 2015, Inferno fails so badly that I feel the need to watch other movie to compensate for the RM10 ticket that I had already burned), to which I happily consented. 

Earlier yesterday, I had wasted almost two hours of my life watching Rock Sangkut. No story-line, no clear direction, poorly-written script...what was the purpose of this movie anyway? 

Left Behind and John Wick were also below par, but I finished watching them nevertheless.

I watch movies not only to pass my time...this is also one of my avenues to discover/experience new things. Good narration, strong story-line, and script imbued with beautifully-constructed words are important elements that make a right movie.

Independence Day was the the best among all these movies. Maybe I should start digging old movies to find the one that truly satisfies my innermost curiosities.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Sunday, October 16, 2016

8 Mile

Since it's debut in 2002/2003, I've always wished to watch this movie, but strange circumstances preclude me from having the required time and space to watch it.

Eminem was a global phenomenon then...a record-breaker (to date, he is one of the world's best selling artist) in an awkward situation. He made his breakthrough in a field dominated by Black Americans, no less than a significant achievement.

In an era when Youtube was not even invented yet, we (my generation) depended solely on MTV for video clips (new songs were only available via radio, my preferred radio station was HitzFm during that era). NTV7, during its formative year, used to air new video clips for hours non-stop, to which I enjoyed very much.

The title 8 Mile is not about is actually based on the name of a highway separating two classes of people somewhere in the United States (the correct translation in BM should be Batu 8 instead of 8 Batu).  This is where Eminem actually grew up before his eventual rise to stardom.

I finally had the chance to watch 8 mile yesterday, albeit over a decade late. It's an above-average movie (I rate movies based on my desire to watch it again. A movie is good if I want to watch it again. Above-average means I would love to watch certain scenes, not the whole movie, again).

I am not Eminem's biggest fan...I couldn't even comprehend what he was spouting in his song. But no one can deny his impact on the global music scene. To me, Eminem's biggest contribution is his hand in the emergence of another music's legend...


(to be continued)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Badminton's Great Mystery

1. Lin Dan, Chen Long, Chen Jin (retired), Xia Xuanze (retired), Wang Yihan, Zhang Nan, Ma Jin. 
2. Lee Chong Wei, Tan Wee Kiong, Goh V Shem, Goh Liu Ying.

Notice the difference?

The first set of badminton players are all from China. The second set are undoubtedly all-Malaysians.

Players from China are all composed of two words in their name, whereas for Malaysian players, all of them have three words accompanying their respective names.

They are all of Chinese origin, so why are the Chinese of the mainland have two words in their name, whereas Malaysian Chinese have three?

This has been puzzling me for some time now.

I asked one of my friends, Wong, to explain this.

A Liverpool supporter just like me, Wong is one of the untypical Chinese that I've ever met.

During the badminton matches (we watched Olympics together; matches that we watched include [1] Lin Dan-Lee Chong Wei, [2] Lin Dan-Viktor Axelsen, [3] Lee Chong Wei-Chen Long; [4] Tan Wee Kiong & Goh V Shem-Fu Haifeng & Zhang Nan) I overheard him muttering 'mata sepet' towards the Chinese pair, because they were leading at the time.

It is very unusual for a Chinese to say such words towards a fellow Chinese, but that is just Wong.

Wong explained that most or almost all of our Malaysian Chinese originated from southern China. Even his grandfather was from there. 

"He arrived here penniless," was the exact phrase used by Wong. 

Chinese from the southern part of China have three words in their names (e.g. Lee Chong Wei), whereas from the rest of China, their names composed of only two words (e.g. Lin Dan).

That indirectly indicates that all (mainland) Chinese badminton players hailed not from the southern part, right? That would be another mystery.

Whatever the case, now my great mystery of badminton has been solved.  

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Batu Kurau - Finale

I visited Batu Kurau for the last time.

It was tranquil and comforting as always...the small river flows quietly from the dense hilltop through the constellation of rocks inhabiting the riverbed.

So much memory in so little time. All my time spent here was worth its weights in gold.

I will still visit Batu Kurau next week...but not this site anymore. Our next site will be Sungai Ara.

Till we meet again.