Sunday, March 23, 2008

My Tooth is gone but the pain lingers on...

I think just about any one would agree that there is no bigger sin than a tootheache, its there, just gnawing away at your nerves leaving you helplessly in agony that at times it is even hard to think!
My last entry was an excited recurrence of my long time passion of undertaking an environmental issue to the task, that of cleaning the Sungai Pinang river in Penang. I spoke to saverl friends on the matter about the idea and got a mixed response from them. One or two decided that it was genuinely a great 9idea while oithers thought that now is not the time or some other excuses why it could not be carried out. It is ver interesting to note how or what people think about a project that demands immediate action yet would incur high cost rather than make money. The economy is not so good is a common excuse for the nays and the people are not ready for this whole idea of collective coorperative venture to undertake such an effort, lets put it to the back burner for now and concentrate on luring more tourists to the island or make sure that the people have the demands met with to keep them happy. The hell with the dirty rivers and clogged up drains in the meantime, theres plenty of time for that and hey, it does make a good topic though when we run out of things to gripe about.
Why am i so hyped about the damn river anyway? After all it has only been for tha last thirty odd years that this particular river has really been dubbed the worst polluted river in the country, what's a few more years till we can afford to take serious look at what we can do about it. So relax take it easy and try to ignore tha impilses you have about the goddamn river, focus on your upcoming shows! Like where the hell are you goping to find the fundings for the perchasing of your art materials, canvasses, and mounting them, paints and brushes and whatelses that you need to do your work with? Theres three solo shows lined up for this year and they are fast approaching the datelines and how the hell did i got myself into this bind? For the longest time i had shyed away from exhibiting my works for this very reasons and now that i dcided to go full time I am finding myself trapped into producing under pressure. But the dye is cast and commitment hasto be met with, this the nature of the business and so now i have to scrounge around for the meands to get my works done for these upcoming shows like it or not.
Yes I have to focus on what is relevant to my own survival and stop this pipe dream of an undertaking like cleaning a river, its too big an issues especially when I am indepedantly unwealthy. Such is life, you can only try to do just so much while the rest will have to be KIV for the next life perhaps. In a year's time i will turn sixty, an old fart who should start thiking about what to leave behind for my children when i am dead and gone. It is perhaps time to narrow down my options and rein in my impulses and passions, at least those that are way beyond my reach. START ACCEPTING THE FACT THIS IS IT! Join those who have gone before me in the pastures and meditate upon the afterlife. Face the fact that I have tried to excell in what i seek to accomplish but the end is in sight and what i have attained thus far is all that there is to go for and i'd better learjn the hard facts of growing old and being defeated by impermanence. When all is said and done at the end of the day we all have to come to some sort of conclussion about who or what we are, why or how come we are where we are at, the question of what brought you here!
My aching jaw from the removed molar is all there is that i can at present indentify with and it is the only thing that makes any sense abpout who or what i am at the moment and this is all i need to be here and Now.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My personal advise to the Newly elected CM of Penang

The future is in the hands of the present and those who are on position to make the difference are resposible to those who will inherit the country.

Get the Sungai Pinang River clean up project on the roll without anymore excuses! In his interview with the public which was published in the Star news paper Mr. Lim touched on this issue answering one question that was of an environmental nature by one of the questioners. The sungai Pinan River is a serious 'Toxic Waste issue" for the State, the newly ellected CM noted and that was just about it except for the fact that one of his collegues was dumb enough to take a dip in it and was attacked physically by unknown microbes infesting the river.
I grew up on the river since the day i was born right smack in the middle of the Kampung Selut as the area was known in the past and most of my childhood life was spent waiting for the hight tide to arrive so that the water world fantasies of our childhood would come to life. This was in the early 50s and sixties before the area was developed. The hightide brought Morgan the Pirate, The Bucaneers, and hosts pof other sea faring characters to our childhood imagination as we swam our way towards the river mouth. The was all kinds of wildlife common to the mangrove environment, the Udang ketak, Ikan Tembakul, ikan Belachak, ketam selut, ketam batu, belangkas, siput lokan, siput balitong, biawak to name a few, which today has become extinct in this area. There were numerous species of birds to wake up to and fishes to trap in the mudholes, as a child growing up in this rustic life at the edge of Georgetown was a blessing for me and on looking back my heart is sick at what i see have become of my river.
The Sungai Pinang is only about six miles in length from the foothills of the Penang Hill range in Ayer Itam area somewhere to the sea and the whole six mles today is contaminated in one way or another. It has played vital roles in the past for those living on this Island not only as a source of water but that of a symbol for the State uniting the inhabitants who are racially pluralistic. To the newcomer this may not seem much to think about as the only sense they would have of the river is the stench that it gives off or the black brackish water that flows lifelessly int and out to the sea often laden with debris and floatsam opf garbage from the denizens of the island. To penangites, those born and raised on this island it is short of a bloody insult to our intelligence if not to our souls. We have allowed the river to deteriorate to such a state that despite all our modern technologies and advanced education the river is practically called a 'dead River'.
To cut to the chase on the matter as e know most politicians are always short of time especially on environmental issues, I am making a suggestion the present take into consideration of using the 'healing of the River' as a crusade that will unite the people into working towards a common goal. Let this be the clarion call for the various groups to come together and give all they got for the well being of one river that has been a common good to all of us regardless of who we are and this will be our legacy to our children. The present administration may have zillions of problems to work on concerned with zillions of issues left behind by the former administration and if not given serious thought over how this should be handled this admin too will be bogged down by the same issues till next ellection day. Tod do the unthinkable would be one option that the State can get a handle on all the issues and that is to not address them but allow them to continue on as they are while focussing all its attention on one unrelated issue which affects just about every walks of life, albeit politicians, doctors, rich man poor man Chinese or Indians , Malays or Bengali. This issue affects the tourism industry, the fishery and wildlife departments and a host of other industries in one way or another, it is an image that stands for All.
I need not go too deeply into the state of pullution in this state as most of us here are fully aware of the matter by just openning our eyes a little bit more to include the environment in our sights like the tourist do. Yes the tourists takes notice of the environment alot more than our average citizens do and if they choose not to revisit our island it is not a fault of theirs but ours, we can talk them to death about why they should visit us but what they see is what they relay to those who ask their opinions when they return to their homes not what they hear. However it is not this reason that we are suddenly deciding to take affirmative action about healing our river back to health, nope, we are doing it bercause it is time that we do some housekeeping in our state. What better time carry out a thourough housekeeping job than with the beginning of a new State Government. We will redesign the Rocket to become a broom and the PKR symbol that looks like and eye to become a garbage bag and we will make every school and institution in the state carry out their own individaul attack plan on this matter without any excuses, for education of the young and old is the key to our success long as well as shortterm. We need to educate the masses, mentally, and spiritually and thus we will approach all the religious denominations for their undevided support for our 'housekeeping project'. last but not least twe will insist upon the media to be fully responsive to our endeavors and make it their crusade as well. We will get all the NGOs and various other existing environmetal groups to become the spearhead for our motion, we will employ the various government bodies like the state laboratories and civil engineers to carry out the preliminary works of desigining and analyzing of the river status, what needs to b done and when. We will utillize the USM students to do soil smaples and various other studies as their contribution towards this venture and we will ask the Rich and famous the major industries, the kongsies and the various clubs and groups to pay for our project, hopefully not the Federal government.
Off course I have given a very simplified scenarion of this project which at later date will be studied and approached in a more proffessional manner making sure that legalities and incentives are met with for those who choose to participate. My idea is basically is to take the bull by the horns in making a clean start for the revival of the Island's glory, the glory that won the hearts and minds of those who used to visit us in the past. To return the pristine and clean water system that we used to enjoy like no other state and to most importantly to try and harness a collective mind among all our different racial groups and thoughts into one affirmative thinking machine in favor of the People and the State as a whole.
The Present CM may have already have his ideas about how to run the state but I hope that he will pause and consider my offer of a suggestion with an open mind.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Election; The Aftermath

Promises,promises and more promises, this is the political scenario of every major or minor elections anywhere and everywhere in the world. We will do this and put a halt to doing that we will make sure that the people come up ahaead regardless of what it takes and we will, we will and we will!
In the coffee shops in the roadside stalls in the offices in the backrooms of the offices, in the bars and tha taverns, in the market place and the dentist's waiting rooms debates are being carried out as to who or what really won the election and how or what the future holds for the average person on the street. Accusing fingers are pointed at the fallen and thumbs up for those who won, each and every person with an opinion stood firm in their belief of what is good or bad for the nation while the embattled politicians gathers around their confrence tables licking their wounds or pondering over what next. This is it, the election's aftermath, time to pick up the pieces or or put them together to make sense out of what has been scattered to the four winds. The people has let their feelings expressed the choices made and their mood for the day felt and it is up to the elected leaders those reelected and those newcomers to put their mind to the grind, their intentions to the test and to 'walk the talk'.
This has been an unprecedented major change in the outcome of the election as the opposition has garnered a good proportion of the seats both in the states as well as the parliament and there will be a very strong check and balances between the ruling party and the opposition as never before. The country is in for another tsunami and the people will have to brace themselves for the fallout untill things settle down and a coherent routine is achieved by both sides to run the country so that it benifit the people as a whole and not the winners or the loosers in the elections. Pride and egos that has been stepped over, guilt and incompetencies that has been exposed, trust and faith that has been shattered, all have to be buried and laid to rest among the political components and candidates and what is of paramount importance is that the country will continue on to greater heights of achievements despite all these travails. There is a lesson to be learned from every failures and a lesson to be learned from every success, both equally important in the fact that a positive outcome results from these lessons.
Time to bury the hatchets and parangs, time to heal the wounds and time to find reconcilliations among all those involved in the management of the nation's welfare. Those who harbor illwill or carry in their hearts the crave for revenge should not be lauded or encouraged as these are the ones who have failed to learn and has only their welfare at heart and not the nation's as a whole. These have to be reined in and their mouth muzzled so that they have no chance to express their negative impulses due to their inability to understand defeat or victory. They have failed to see the bigger piture as they will always be haunted by the personal loss. The nation will move onwards towards greater glory or perish in the agony of defeat at the hands of the uncompromising selfcentered individuals who still holds the power to rule. It will still be up to the people who have awakened from 50 years of belief and trust in the governement to make the necessary changes in and when the majority of them sense that an ellected member is not performing as he or she has been ellected to or this past general election would still become meaningless to all. Let our past experiences with the performances of each and every individual character of the political stage be our guidance and take continuous action towards those who deviate from the wellbeing of this nation for their own self glorification no matter who they are or what party they belong to.
The talks in the foddstalls and coffeshops will sooner or later subside and those who has been mandated to take the reins of running the country will find ways and means to put together a win win card on the parliamentary table. This nation deserves no less than that those elected perform for the benifit of the people and this is to be done with no time wasted.There is no more elections for the next five years or so and the people need not waste their effort and nor their money be spent over more uncompromising incidents that would jeopardize the formation of a vibrant management team to run their country for a strong economic future that would benifit them as a whole. Malaysia Boleh!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Ghost Ship of Unimack Path

I was instructed by the skipper Donald bark earlier on how to read the radar screen identifying all the silohuette of land marks apperaing on the greenish illuminated screen. I was told of the verticle and horizontal lines and how far a distance they actually represent in actual nautical mileage, that eash was two nautical miles from the next line, the center was of the screen was the Iceland, the boat, me! All I had to do is maintain a course according to the compass and not deviate from the exact number given and keep an ey for any flahing blips on the screen as it meants that there is another vassel in the vicinity. That was about how much I was made to understand about navigation on the high seas and the final advice was scream for help if something is not right.
I was in the pilot house of the fishing vassel 'The Iceland', a sixty five footer wooden hulled vassel out of Sand Point,Alaska, the Iceland being one of the oldest vassel in the fleet out of this small fishing town. She was build by a Norwegian by the name of Paul martinez who it was recorded had constructed twelve wooden hull vassels in all and having all their names ending in 'Land' like Iceland, Wonderland, Dreamland and so forth. The Iceland was one of the remaining of the twelve that still sail the Bering Sea is search of fortune in the fishing industry. She used to be 90 feet in length I was told and was involved in shrimp fishing untill the Bering Sea ran out of shrimp. Her length was shortened to 65 feet so that she can be used for Halibut and salmon fishing later on. Many stories were told about the weird things that had been happening on the vassel by her crews from the past to present, they agreed that the vassel was haunted and that the late Paul Martinez had his prescence on her. Hence she became the whisper of the the fishermen who fished out of Sand Point. But to the five crew members of the old wooden tub the Iceland was as unique a vassel as she was old. She was a part of the fishing history of the fleet and stood more than just an equal among the more sophistcated fibreglass vassels with their state of the art nautical gadgets.

On the night in particualr we were headed for Dutch Harbor, Alaska considered the Western most of the United States of America that is inhabited and was at one time the only part of the United States the Japanese ever attacked during WW2. Today it is the fish processing town with a ahrbor lined with old battle ships that were permanently anchored and turned into floating cannaries. The Iceland was loaded with twenty five thousand pounds of Halibuts in her hatch and was headed for Dutch harbor to offload the catch of which the largest fish was seven feet six inches in length and weighed almost 450 pounds which was named 'Big Bertha' by the Skipper, Donald Bark. Halibuts are bottom feeders and average about 60 to 180 pounds they have a very strange shape as both eyes are located on the top of their heads like mud skippers. The bottom part is pure white while the top is deep sea green. To catch them baited hooks of salmon heads and herrings sometimes when available octopus tantacles were used and these were laid out in what is called a long linning method of fishing.

Anyone having fished in the Bering Sea for any length of time will tell you that it is no joke as far as hazardous work is concern for your life is worth twon minutes if you fall overboard, not from drowning but from the frigid cold waters. The weather was also something that fishermen gamble with where their fate is concern, where a gail warning issued can mean a matter of survival within minutes from a fair to a perfect storm. For one who had never fished in the ocean before this was quite an experience that i would not wish to repeat for i was wretched with seasickness on the first few days out at sea and had wished that I had never left land. But having had the experience I can today claim that I fished in the Bering Sea of the Pacific NorthWest and survived. I survived the Pefect Storm, the Rip Tides, the Sea Sickness, the Tempers and Frustrations, the slime and grime of commercial fishing. HOW MANY MALAYSIANS CAN MAKE SUCH CLAIM?

The Skipper was from Teanaway Valley in Washinton State and lived in a beautiful wooded valley where he also collected 'out houses'. All over his yard were old outhouses or toilets some used in the old days of the wagon trails. I had the oportunity to stop by his place on the way up north from Green Bay, Wisconsin in the early month of may in 1982. My friend and I drove in his car a Chevy Nova all the way from Green Bay in the Midwest to Seattle, Washington which took us three days or so. We drove through the States of Michigan and Minnesotta, Wyoming and North Dakotah and thn when we were passing through Spokane, Washington we had to drive through thick dust from the eruption of Mount Saint Helen a few days earlier. We left Green Bay on the 1st of May, Robert Serge and I in a car that could only hod a quarter tank of fuel at a time in its tank because the tank had a leak in it. Before leaving Wisconsin, we stopped by Little Suamaco and ehlped grew some baby pine trees together with a small community of nature lovers, Robert's friends.

I met Robert at Belin Hospital in Green Bay where we were supposed to have a two man show, he with his photogrphy while I had my printmaking works. I was astonished by what I saw of his works, the pictures he had hung on the walls were out of this world. I asked Robert where he had taken them and he told me of his annual fishing trip to Alaska. I immediatly insisted that he took me with him that summer and nothing was going to stop me, not money nor the ordeals that laid ahead as spelled out to me by Robert insisting that it was madness for me to do so. Not to mention the cost but the trip itself would demand that I have some sort of accomodation if not a job lined up before I could even think of making the trip. But my mind was made up and partly due to the fact that I had to leave Green Bay for one reason or another at the time. I had graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay the same year, my son and his Mother had left to live in Germany and my love life then was headed for the rocks. There was no excuse for me to hang around the Packer Town any longer without drowning myself into drunken and disoderly despair.

As I stood in the wheel house of the Iceland my hands clutching the wooden wheel and my eyes peering out int the darkness ahead of me with and occansinal glance at the greenish illuminated face of the radar screen, my thoughts floated into all kinds of reminascents of my life past and future. Sometimes I would be elated from the factthat i was able to do whatmany in my own country had not and most probably would never have a chance to do in their lifetime. Sometimes I would feel the sadness and loneliness of the fact that there i was all alone as alone can be in thw middle of nowhere and no one to talk to least of all my loved ones or my family. If anything were to appen to me then there was no way anyone would know how to let my family back home in malaysia know excep for my exwife who was then living in Germany. But thee were just thoughts hat haunted me due to the solid darkness of the environment around me and save for the hum of the boat engine which by then had seeped into my being to become unnoticeable there was total peace and quiet.

I noticed the blip of a light cming downwards from the left hand corner of the radar screen about two squares away from the center. I was almost excited that I had company, I was not the only one awake piloting a vassel in the dark onf night, something I had never done in my entire life and was doing it for the first time be it day or night. I watched the blip moving downwards in a straight line at what would be four nautical miles if what the Skipper explained was true that each square represents two nautical miles distance. I was well safe away from whatever vassel it was that was floating silently pass by me, the center point on the radar screen. I almost felt like saying goodbye when it almost disappeared off the screen at the bottom but to my amazement the blip did not fell off the screen bottom but decided to start climbing right back upwards!! And what was more astonishing not to say frightenning was the fact that it was moving at an angle and head for the center of the screen, Me!

As I watched in disbelief and mounting fear I realized that it was less than half a square from the center point of the radar screen and that was I pressed the panic button and started to yell and screamed for the skipper who was sleeping in his bunk on the othe side of the wooden wall that seperated us. At the same time i was spinning the wheel like I knew what the hell i was doing to stear the Iceland away from the oncoming whatever vassel. The skipper was at the wheel without me realizing it shouting and screaming obscenities while I was stunned by the bright light that bathed the whole area in and around the Iceland and it was coming down from above the vassel. I stared in disbelief up at it through the cabin window while the skipper kept spinning the wheel and as I watched the huge what seemed to be a searchlight slowly became two huge searchlights!!
Then things started to happen like in slow motion of disbelief. The next thing I knew I was staring at the rear end of a huge ship, grey in color with all its lights on and the deck clearly lighted but no a single soul in sight. The ship slid away silently ahead of us leaving behind in it wake just a reflection of bubbles and like what ships normally leave behind in their wake. Then it was all dark again and the skipper told me to hit the bunk without as much as a word of what the hell happened. Later in the morning i found everyone sitting in th galley in silence and I thought I was going to get my head chewed but that too did not happen and from that day on no onetalked about it ever till we parted company. The only person who ever mentioned anything of the incident later was JR the Skipper's nephew who told me that he caould not sleep that night and was in the galley and watched the whole thing but could not register what truelly happened except that the ship whatever it was appeared out of nowhere and isappeared just as mysteriously into the night. He had told the Skipper of this and was told to not dwell on the incident too much.
Till this day even as I write I still could not belief that what had happened really did happened and I hve told and retold this incident to many but the more i talk of it the less i am beginning to believe in it myself. However it does make a great 'Fish Tale' after all anyhting can happen in the Unimack Path of the Bering Sea or so the Alaskan Fishermen used to say. Considered among seafarers to among the most treacherous stretch of water, the Unimak Path is often compared to the Bermuda Triangle and the Tip of Cape Horn.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Elections Is over

Yesterday was eletcion day and today there is alot of changes in the lives of many whose well being has been affected by who is in power for better or for worse. The major significance in the outcome of this past election is the fact that the deposed deputy prime minister Anuar Ibrahim has made a effective comeback into the political scene of this country and his former political opponents those who were notably very much involved with his demise has today a cause to be concern about. Anuar is back and he is back with a vengence and how he will go about exacting his paybacks is yet to be seen.
The Rocket has been launched and the DAP has got Penang under its rule and this aught to be and interesting phenomenon to be observed. The democratic Action party is predominantly Chinese and has always been in the thorn in the flesh of the ruling party in the form of its leaders Lim Kit Seang and Karpal Singh both men has the experience of being in the opposition benches for a long time that they have become the nation's symbols for making sure that the Barisan National never got a total free reign over the management of the country. I have always believed that the nation aught to have given these two gentlemen the titles they deserve by now they should have been awarded the titles of at least 'Tan Sri' as a token of respect for their services rendered to the country even if as opponents to the ruling party! However this would be too much for the average Malaysian imagination especially the Malays. The menteri Besar of Kelantan Nik Aziz, Kit Seang and Karpal are the political icons of modern Malaysia just as much as the present and the former Prime Ministers. However now it is a little too late for such gestures as it would appeare inappropriate seeing that the DAP has gained an enormous momentum in becoming a force to be reckoned with in this country and any affirmative gesture would be misconstrude by all parties concerned unless this can be achieved with a unanimous agreement of the Malaysian Parliament as a whole and only the King is the most appropriate person to award the titles to these individuals.
We tend to overlook the contributions of those who has disagreed with us or are not benifical to oour cause, not on our team eventhough these individuals has been the part and parcel our our political heritage and their names will go down in hitory as such and our children will read about them in years to come whether we like it or not, what is wrong with honoring them even if it is merely with such titles as 'Tan Sri' or 'Dato Sri' after all even a dead film star gets a Tan Sri for his contributions!
What promises will the DAP deliver we will have to wait and see for this island of Penang. Will the predominantly Chinese party make the Malays nightmares come true or will the party be smart enough to maintaion the status quo of the Chinese, Malays and Indians in the state and even with some added compassion cater to thje Malays plight even more which in my view will strengthen their support and trust from the Malays. The Malays in the state of Penang in my opinion have been disillusioned long enough by the Barisan National and Gerakan coalition parties. They have been sidelined often like dogs being thrown pieces of bones every once in awhile to pacify their needs. This election the Malays here has decided that enough is enough and has taken a leap of faith in letting the state be trusted into the hands of the oposition party with no much hope to look forward to but hoping that mlife would be better.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Golden Rule

I was moved by the final chapter of the great works of Napoleon Hill, The Law of Success. Do unto others as you would them done unto you, the Golden Rule, of the ancients' of Confucius, The Buddha, Christ and the Prophet (of Allah) those whose ideas about life comes down bascially to this short statement of the Golden Rule. As I read what Hill expounded in his book my thoughts became further awakened with enlightenment over the many truths that had eluded me in the past and some of which had been the cause of my failures or dispointment. It is a simple truth and its simplicity is what had made me complacent over the depth of its meaning and the gravity of its consequences toward my daily actions as well as my long term search for the meaning of my very own existance.
Although the Book was primarily aimed at those seeking to become materially well off such as a successful businessman or a well sought after lawyer and so forth, for me it touched more deeply into my understanding of the workings of my spitiutal self and how it controlls or is controlled by the externals. My ups and downs my rights and wrongs they suddenly are beginning to make sense. It is like yet another major piece of a jig saw puzzle has fallen into place and one is beginning to see the whole picture. In my life I have been the cause of alot of pain and suffering for others my loved ones as well as those whose life mine had touched in one form or another, in the Buddhist sense I had created alot of bad karma and as such have a big time karmic debt to pay. Do unto others! Yes I am not proud of alot of wrong turns I had taken to get to where I had wanted to and often enough I never even slowed down to regret these negative actions especially when it affected others in my life. But I can afford change while I still have the time and state of mind to do it before the final curtain calls and this is the journey I had taken, the journey towards the Lord of Truth through complete right understanding of who I am and where my journey ends.
I cannot apolgize to all that I have offended, taken advantage of or used in one way or another but I can undo myself, unllearn all my negative lessons and right all the wrongs of my thinking mind. This is my work on myself through reading, through my creative exprtessions through writing all my thoughts down through giving the best I can afford to raise my children and through eventually my services to society as a whole if and when I have attained to right to do so without any more doubts and fears.