Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Inter-Port Game in Singapore...

The Royal Selangor Golf Club travelled to Singapore to play the Singapore Island Country Club for the annual inter-port competition over the weekend before the Deepavali holiday.

the two-tiered driving range and the club-house

My partner and I took the Nice coach which conveniently could also now be boarded at our door-step at KL Sentral. The trip was a comfortable 5 hours and the club had us booked at the Corpthorne Orchid, Dunearn Road, where the Nice Express Singapore base was located.

my flight teed-off from hole No 8...one has to hit over water to the fairway landing

I have never played in this inter-port game before nor have I played at this course. So I was really looking forward to this game.

hole No 8 fairway.....hit from here over water again to the green..

SICC has four 18's, the Sime and Bukit Courses at the Bukit Location and the Old and New Courses at the Plantation location. The competition was played at the Bukit location.

green of hole No 10...

We had 3 games being played concurrently over the 2 days, the ' Tan Sri Hashim Ali Trophy - off the Stick Match', the 'Dato Loke Wan Tho Trophy - 4-ball better ball match play on handicap', and the ladies' 'CC Tan Leong Hoe Yang Challenge Trophy - 4 ball better ball match play on handicap' . Each club had over 70 golfers playing in the different competitions.

Dr Siew at the tee and Kevin Robinson anxiously looking on..

I partnered Kevin Robinson (HI 21.4 CH 25) in our 4-ball match play games against SICC's Mr Alan Peck ( HI 17.5 CH 20) and Dr Siew Teck Woh ( HI 21.1 CH 24). I played to a HI 24.2 and CH 28. The match-play was played at the Sime Course.

Dr Siew, pakdokter, Kevin Robinson and Mr Alan Pek..

I must admit that my game has improved lately. I returned a score of 44/49 which helped my team beat our Singapore counterparts. Kevin scored 53/52, Mr Alan Peck carded 51/47 and Dr Siew scored 50/54.

It was a pleasure meeting my fellow golfers for the first time. I have never met Kevin at the RSGC before. Kevin is the Country Manager for Newfields, an Oil and Gas company doing exploration in Malaysian waters. Alan Peck runs an aerospace company in Singapore and Dr Siew is a retired veterinary doctor who now runs the Gardenia bread company which is probably the biggest bread company both in Singapore and Malaysia.

On Sunday morning I partnered Jeff Ho Wing, a remisier at a stockbroker in KL, whom I have played with a few times at the RSGC during the club's monthly medal. Our Singapore counterparts were Dr Alex Ooi, an obstetrician/gynaecologist at the Mt Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore and Mr Joseph Tan, a retired lawyer. Jeff played to HI 18.6 CH 22, Joseph to HI 14.0 CH 14 and Alex HI 14.4 CH 17.

I played as well as the day before returning a nearly similar score of 49/45 but not good enough to beat the Singapore pair in the game. Going by my scores here and my performances in Indonesia recently, my handicap from next month should now improve to perhaps around 20 or 21.

We had a sumptous Chinese meal at lunch with free flow of beer and wine. Unfortunately our club lost out to Singapore in all the 3 team competitions.

pakdokter, Jeff Ho Wing, Dr Alex, ?..., John Tan, ...the golfer who plays with 2 clubs only i.e. the driver and Iron-1, ?....., RSGC's Lee.

Monday, October 27, 2008

'Caddy Tales'......

Indonesia has always been a favourite golfing destination because of the great number of good golf courses in the major cities of the republic. Besides the well-maintained and challenging golf courses, the caddies of Indonesian clubs also scored 'high' ratings from the golfers.Most of them are well trained and hard-working, and are good at reading the green. And on top of this, most clubs employ young and pretty girls as caddy for the golfers. For Malaysians, the common 'lingo' is an added advantage. It made communication easy ( unlike in Thailand) and these girls are a confident and communicative lot who can be 'cheeky' and 'flirtatious' at times.

And after having made good 'winnings', some of us become overly generous and 'boros' and may engage more than one caddy for the next game. Why not?

pakdokter with his 4 caddies at Ciputra.....one for the clubs, one for the brolly, one to wipe sweat with a cold towel, and one for shoulder massage...

As I have said earlier, these caddies are generally very young. Take Erma for instance ( picture below). She is hardly 18, finished SMA ( Sekolah Menengah Atas - High School) and has been caddying for about a year when she was assigned to me.

Half-way through the game she asked me ' pakdokter ini spesialitas nya apa?' ( what is my medical speciality). On being told that I am a 'shrink' ,she said ' Oh..kalau gitu Erma bisa curhat sama pakdokter ya! (curhat- short form for curahan-hati, 'to pour out one's feelings' as in a counselling setting I presume).

I promptly told her...' Oh pasti bisa....nanti malam temuin saja di kamar pakdokter ya!...( Sure...just come and see me in my hotel room tonight..)

Usha ( full-name Puspasari) is 19, started caddying just about 5 months ago at the Royale Jakarta. She too studied up to SMA. After getting to know me better she asked ' pakdokter ni apa rahsia awit muda nya?' ( what is your secret for looking young?)

I jokingly told her ' kita mesti aktif seks....kurang lebih sekali sehari ' ( you must be sexually active...at least once a day!)
'Kalau Usha sanggup tiga kali sehari, pakdokter bisa bawa Usha pulang ke Malaysia?' ( If I am willing to have sex thrice a day would you take me back to Malaysia?)

That was the end of my game.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cafe Batavia ....

I must admit that the only time I did the 'touristy' things in Jakarta was during my first trip there some 20 years ago. My subsequent trips were either on 'business' ( i.e. medical conferences) or of late golfing holidays. As such my idea of 'Turismo Jakarta' is purely the Monas ( Monumen Nasional), the many 'revolutionary' sculptures of Sukarno era at many intersections of the city's boulevards, the Ancol theme park and the Mini Indonesia Complex, which if I am not wrong, was initiated by Ibu Tien Suharto.
My partner who almost always travel with me has had her fair share of Jakarta shopping whenever we came to this city and decided, this time, to explore this city for its tourist and historical attractions. And judging from her report, Jakarta has many interesting sites and museums to visit. And the Puppet Museum only charges an entrance fee of 2000 rupiah!
In particular are the streets in the area called Old Batavia. Apparently many reconstruction/rehabilitation works are being carried out to revive this district and many of the heritage buildings are converted into museums.
My partner was lucky to have found a very honest and helpful taxi-driver, Pak Tarsono, and for the whole duration of our holidays there Pak Tarsono was at her disposal all the time. She was very happy to tip him as generously as I did to the caddies at the golf course, every time after Pak Tarsono had chaufferred her around according to her itinerary.
On one of the nights, we decided to check out the Cafe Batavia , located at the Fatahilah Square. The 'square' is to Jakarta what our Selangor Club Padang (Dataran Merdeka) is to Kuala Lumpur. Many young couples ( I assume they are college and university students) occupied every nook and corner of the square. Cafe Batavia is located in an old building at one corner of the square. The interior is reminiscent of the Alkaff Mansion in Singapore (which is also another stylish restaurant as the Cafe Batavia.)
I like the feel of 'old Batavia' of this restaurant. The wall is decorated by pictures of old luminaries who have been to the establishment before. They serve ala carte western cuisine and I chose to try their fresh tuna slices drenched in lime sauce for starter and 'bebek goreng' for the main. (bebek goreng - roast duck). It went down well with a caraffe of the house pinot noir.

The Imperial Karawaci, Jakarta

On the third and last day in Jakarta, we played at the Imperial Klub Golf , Lippo Karawaci which is situated quite near to the Sukarno-Hatta Airport so that we have enough time to finish our game and catch the late evening flight home.

Most of us have played here during our previous golf trips to Jakarta. Imperial is a mature course measuring a total of 6337 yards from the blue tees. Although short, it is made difficult and challenging by its narrow and tight fairways and the many challenging lakes to overcome.

There are several interesting holes for example the hole No. 4 par 4 where you have to drive onto an island from where you then attack the green at the end of the lake which is guarded by a deep sand bunker.

pak Zul Rauf teeing off to the island fairway at hole No 4...

The hole No.5 par 3 measuring 139 yards is another interesting play. It is an island green where one can put a bet of 50,000 rupiah and get your money refunded by simply ensuring that your ball lands on the green from the tee. And if your ball falls within the few concentric circles around the pin you will be rewarded between 100,000 to 500,000 rupiahs accordingly. And you guess it right....it is not that easy to hit your ball on to the green as the island is small to begin with and you have to deal with the force of wind that normally sweeps accross the flight of your ball.

...pak Ali, pak Ariffin and pak Zul having a drink before teeing off and loosing 50,000 rupiah for sending their ball into the water...

the par 3 hole No. 5 where you bet 50,000 rupiahs that your ball lands on the green..

Pakdokter (handicap 26) played with Pak Zul Rauf (handicap 27), Pak Ariffin ( handicap 18) and Pak Ali (handicap 27). With the higher handicap pakdokter returned a score of 48/53 enabling a good enough stableford points to become overall fourth in the 3-day events. Pak Ariffin who carded 45/43 became the overall winner for the 3 days and collected a handsome amount of rupiahs. The biggest casualty from our flight was Pak Zul Rauf - he enabled pakdokter to recoup the losses of the previous day. Pak Zul Rauf blamed his game on exhaustion, lack of focus and 'self-generated distractions'.

The biggest casualty however was Pak Sirajuddin. I will not mention what his 'deficit' was but he was determined to make amends immediately on Monday in a game to be played at the Glenmarie with Pak Ali, Pak Shaber and Pak Roslan.

hole No. 16 par 3 measuring 171 yards. Clubhouse in the background

As we will definitely come back to play at the Imperial in our future trips to Jakarta, we decided to make a special arrangement with the GGRO ( Golf and Guest Relation Officer) at the Imperial who will ensure that our needs will be given priority attention. " Semua nya bisa di atur. Nelpon saja pada Rinie bila mendarat di Bandara dan segala nya pasti di urus. Nomor hepe ( h/phone) Rinie ia lah...........)

GGRO Rinie di apit oleh Pak Shaber and Pak Roslan....

Monday, October 20, 2008

A New Gem...the Royale Jakarta

The Royale Jakarta is a new golf course located adjacent to the old Jakarta Halim Airport. It is about half an hour's drive from dowtown Jakarta.

view from the club-house.....

A few golfers from the group had actually played here about 2 months ago and the club-house was not even ready then. They must have worked around the clock to have the lovely club-house ready in such a short time.

Being a new course, many of the trees lining the fairways are still small and thus did not provide much shade yet. This is a 27-hole course is designed by Robert Moore - JMP Gp.

hole 18 South Course with the club-house in the background..

We played from the blue tee on the South and North courses which measured a total of 6258 metres.

pak Roslan and pak Ali with their respective caddies..

Pakdokter's flight included Pak Roslan ( the Captain), Pak Ali, and Pak Shaber. Pak Dokter partnered Pak Shaber against the other two and we also agreed to play the 'chaccarat' against each other.

pak Roslan in trouble?...getting his ball out from the rough...

Pak Roslan, our Captain, having played here before ( and of course not denying the fact that he is a good player!) carded a score of 43/48 playing to a handicap of 12. Your goodself retained the previous day's handicap of 22 and returned a score of 54/53, which is probably a true reflection of pakdokter's standard of golf. Pak Shaber, who is generally a good player was not in his usual form and returned a score of 51/52 playing to a handicap of 18. Pak Ali, playing to a handicap of 25 returned a score of 50/51.

From the scores you can guess who ended up collecting the most rupiahs from pakdokter and Pak Shaber. However the ever pleasant and sweet caddies made up the day for us.

Syawal in Jakarta.....

A group of us decided to revisit Jakarta for a weekend of golf after the month-long break of Ramadhan. The evening MH flight was at least 60% taken. Perhaps the economic meltdown has not yet fully reared its ugly head.
The drive to downtown Jakarta was a surprisingly free flow without the usual 'macet' that we were frequently told during our previous trips. Perhaps I was wrong in my earlier observation about the economy. But the hotel we checked in was a hive of activity and I must admit the Le Meridien Jakarta was a good choice in terms of comfort and accessibility to the golf courses where we played.
Rancamaya is about one and a half hour drive out of Jakarta in the resort hilltown of Bogor. It is one of the better golf courses in Bogor and a favourite among the many golfing tourists. I played here early last year and I noticed that many of the residential homes being built then had been completed.
one of the many luxury bungalows at Rancamaya...
We played from the blue tee which measured 6471 yards. As Pak Fakaruden had to cancel his trip at the last minute due to having to do a site visit of his project at home, I was put in a flight of 3 with Pak Ariffin and Pak Zulrauf for company.
pakdokter, pak Ariffin and pak Zulrauf...
pak Ariffin at the tee..
The fine weather and the cool gentle breeze probably had helped my game. I returned a score 0f 49/46 and playing to a handicap of 22 managed to accumulate a total of 35 stableford points. That gave me the second best score for the day rewarding me a few hundred thousand rupiahs from the pool.
And of course, thanks to my ever sharp and accurate caddy, Eliss.

pakdokter and Eliss....

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Gift of Rain...

This is a gem of a book written by a very talented Malaysian author.

Tan Twan Eng is a lawyer who is now based in South Africa working on his second novel. His first novel 'The Gift of Rain' was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize 2007.

This is the story of an intense friendship between Philip Hutton, a half-gwai-loh-half-chinese young man in Penang with Endo, a Japanese diplomat, built over their common interest in 'aikido' - a Japanese form of martial arts.

The Japanese invasion of Malaya exposed the fact that Endo had also used his relationship with Philip to gather strategic information to prepare the Japanese invasion of Malaya. And this affected Philip's relationship to his family some of whom lost their lives during the war.

This is a story about love and about loyalty ( to family, to friend/sensei-teacher ?lover).

Twan Eng has done a lot of research into writing this book. One learns so much history about the early settlers and migrants of Penang and Ipoh. Reading his descriptions of old Penang and old Ipoh makes me want to take a holiday to these places again.

And reading his description of their 'aikido' practices enables me to picture their 'moves' as if I was watching a ballet performance.

This is a book that can make a good movie scrip. I can imagine Takeshi Kaneshiro acting as Philip and Ken Watanabe playing the role of Endo with either Zhang Yi Mou or Wong Kar Wai directing it....

I wish the Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka would translate this book into Malay so that it will get a wider readership.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Coming Economic Collapse..

Stephen Leeb, the author of this book, has a BA in Economics, MSc in Mathematics and a Ph D in Psychology. He edits the prestigious newsletter 'The Complete Investor'.

In 2004, Leeb wrote the book "The Oil Factor", in which he predicted that oil will cost $100 a barrel. A few months ago, the book's prediction was prophetic!

In 2006 he came out with this book predicting the 'coming of an economic collapse' again emphasising on the risks of an ever-increasing oil price . His prediction is that if the addiction to oil is not addressed by the development of alternative energy, this civilisation will collapse. He reasoned that several previous civilisations (the Romans and the Pacific Islands communities) had collapsed due to the depletion of commodity resources that helped sustain those communities. And depleting oil resources to feed especially from the demands of emerging Chindian economies and a neglect in the development of alternative energy, to his mind, will be the cause of collapse of the current civilisation.

Leeb, I believe, belongs to the same school of investors, like Jim Rogers ( the commodities guru), who advised that we should be investing in commodities ( gold and other precious metals as a hedge to increasing inflation), agriculture and, since oil will be a depleting resource, in alternative energy.

Today we are facing an economic collapse..but it is not from a depleted oil supply. It is collapsing from a financial crisis brought about by the subprime mortgage failures! And oil price seems to be falling. Does his arguments still stand?

I belive so. you have to read the book to make your own conclusions.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Veronika Decides to Die...

My son, Rastam, (who lives and works in Tokyo), introduced Paulo Coelho to me a few years ago through the book - 'the Alchemist'. I have probably bought every book written by Coelho since then, although I must admit that I have yet to find time to read them all.

Veronika is a pretty young girl from Slovenia who decided to die because everything in her life was the same and once youth was gone she feared that it would be downhill all the way - getting old, getting sick and friends dying one after another.

She took an overdose of sleeping pills and woke up to find herself in a mental asylum and being told that her heart was so badly damaged by the overdose of the pills that at most she had another week to live!

During the week in the asylum, she made friends with Zedka, a lawyer in her 60's, who sufferred Panic Disorder and Chronic Depression -(and due to her illness lost her job in her law firm and was abandoned by her husband )- and found refuge as a long-stay patient of the asylum. Zedka made an interesting definition of insanity - to Zedka, 'insanity' is a state of being unable to communicate your ideas, it is like you are in a foreign country, able to see and understand everything that is going on around you but incapable of explaining what you need to know or of being helped because you do not understand the language they speak there.

Veronika also met Eduard, a 24 year old schizophrenic whose parents wanted him to become a diplomat like his father but whose own passion and interest was to be a painter and to paint his 'vision of paradise'. Eduard's dilemma of pursuing his artistic inclinations as against his parents academic ambitions for him probably precipitated his psychotic breakdown.

Veronika was introduced to music and piano as a child and developed a passion for it but her parents did not think music can offer a 'good life' for her. So she was made to go to university for they believe it will secure her future. She ended up becoming a librarian with a regular income, had no difficulty getting boyfriends as she was pretty but still found life was becoming more and more routine and boring. In the asylum she found in Eduard some one who appreciated her talent in piano-playing and brought back to her her passion for music. With death lingering at her door-step she rediscovered her need to live and experience 'life' once again.

Veronika and Eduard decided to escape from the asylum so that she can live the remaining days of her life to the fullest....

But there is a twist to the story as the psychiatrist at the asylum, Dr Igor, had actually used Veronika as a subject in his research to discover the 'toxin' that is responsible for suicide.....to find out about the 'twist', you have to get the book and read it yourself!

Paulo Coelho was himself hospitalised in a psychiatric hospital in Rio de Janiero when he was a teenageer. He was even given ECT (elctroconvulsive treatment) for his illness!

In typical Coelho's style this book is easy to read and understand.It gives another perspective of psychiatry and insanity from the view-point of the patient. A book I would recommend every student of psychiatry and psychology to read.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Ramadhan in Langkawi.....

I had bought the MAS tickets to Langkawi during the airline's zero-fare promotion a few months ago without realising that it was smack in the middle of Ramadhan. Anyway it turned out to be a good break from the city and allowed us to get a feel of what Ramadhan was like in this resort island.

The MH flight that afternoon had at most 12 passengers! If this was not proof that the global economic malaise has now reached our shores, then it must be partly from the fact that Ramadhan is generally a low season for Langkawi.

The Andaman Hotel where we were booked was also eerily empty. There were only four couples at dinner and we were told that at most maybe 15 rooms were taken up that weekend.

The hotel staff were mostly young Indonesian and Filipino girls and guys. I wonder what have our colleges and universities churned out from their institutions. Oh...maybe their graduates are all only good for posts of managers.......

The driver of the limousine that picked us up from the airport was a Malay gentleman...and so was the handsome boy at the concierge. They both thought that we were foreigners....Filipino? Indonesian?...Indian maybe.....one chap at the restaurant even suggested that we were residents of Australia ( Malaysians who have migrated..) who were on a late winter break.

breaking fast at the Teppanyaki bar of the Andaman

Both these chaps spoke to us in English and I must commend them for effort. They could help us get by with their English, so I guess it should be helpful enough for the hotel's English-speaking guests. But once they discovered that we were 'Melayus' they apologetically addresssed us in 'loghat' Kedah . I told them that they should practise their English language skill with us and not be shy about it!

We spent the first day lazing around the the beautiful hotel but unfortunately it rained heavily in the afternoon which forced us to our room for a quiet time for catching up on reading. We tried out their restaurants for dinner, the coffehouse served a fusion cuisine and the japanese restaurant offerred the whole range of japanese dishes.

As we had four days to kill we decided to rent a car for 2 days to check out some of the island's attractions which we have not done during our previous visits.

view from cable car ...Telaga Harbour Park and Marina

The Langkawi Cable Car is a must for tourists to Langkawi. The ticket costs RM25 but if you are a Malaysian with a valid MyKad you only pay RM15. Schoolchildren pay much less I guess. Being a low season, there was a very small crowd and there was no rush nor queue to the cable cars. I must admit the view from the car as you are hauled up the steep mountain was simply majestic. This is as good if not better than the cable car ride up to the Table Mountain in Capetown, South Africa.

lovely view of the Macincang Range from the highest point of the cable car at 710 metres above sea level...

Having spent half a day at the cable car, we drove to the Telaga Harbour Park which has not improved much from the time we were last there 2 years ago. There were the usual number of yatchs anchored there and only Che det's Loaf Bakery and the Russian CCCP Restaurant were open. Many of the shops and boutiques which were there 2 years ago were now closed.

The Langkawi Fair - Langkawi's biggest mall - was also a pitiful sight. And many shops in Kuah town looked like they have closed down for business.

Fortunately there was a big and lively Ramadhan Bazaar in Kuah town....a few times the size of Bangsar Ramadhan Bazaar in KL and definitely a popular food site for the locals and tourists alike. ( For a photoblog of the Langkawi Ramadhan Bazaar look up my partner's blog at http://www.aginghippietales.com/)

Having had dinner twice at the hotel we decided to go for a seafood meal at one of the few seafood restaurants at Pantai Cenang/Pantai Tengah district. The lobster, prawns and fish were fresh and these restaurants are recommended if you happen to go to Langkawi. Their prices were reasonable too.

The next day we drove to Tanjong Rhu with a view to sneak into the Four Seasons Resort. We ended up at the Tanjong Rhu beach instead and while admiring the white powdery sand of the beach ( Tanjong Rhu has the beast beach in Langkawi I believe) we were approached by an enterprising young man offerring to take us on a 2 hour boat ride up the Kilim River to watch the famous white belly eagles of Langkawi. Business was really slow he said, and offerred us the outing for RM100 per head provided he can get another couple to fill up his boat. We were lucky as a French couple arrived on their motor-cycle and agreed to share the boat with us. During normal times it would cost you between RM160 to RM200 per head for that trip. So coming to Langkawi during Ramadhan has its own advantages!

the white sandy beach of Tanjong Rhu...

I have read about this tour and was glad to be able to do it this time. Furthermore the weather that day was just perfect. My partner has also put up a nice photoblog of this trip in her site.

Man ( Rosman), our boat boy, is an enterprising chap. He too thought we were foreigners and only took courage to ask us where we came from after we had warmed up to him half-way through the trip. He spoke enough English to get by and he kept checking with us whether we could understand his English.We encouraged him to learn and improve his skill and I was impressed by his knowledge of the habitat, the animals and the flora and fauna of the area.

my partner and our boat-man,(Ros) Man, at the wheel and doing a good job as a tourist guide..

As there were very few tourists, Man told us that the eagles were all quite hungry and will come out in droves whenever a tourist boat approached the river. It was spectacular to see so many eagles suddenly appearing from the nearby hills and trees upon hearing the rumble of our outboard engine!

The next part of the cruise took us upriver through the Crocodile Cave and down the Kilim River where I was surprised to see so many yatchs and boats anchored in the middle of the river. Man told us that these boats are mostly owned by Aussies and it is cheaper to anchor the boats here ( about RM 750 a month) instead of keeping them at the Telaga Harbour Park or the Langkawi Yatch Club ( maybe up to about RM2000 a month). The boats and yatchs anchored at the river are looked after by the operators of the fish-farms located along the river, some of these fish-farmers also operate sea-food restaurants there.

boats and yatchs anchored along Sungai Kilim....at a discount

We visited a fish-farm and had a good close-up look at some barracudas, sting-rays,etc and interestingly a 'jumping and spitting fish'!

a fish-farm on Sungai Kilim...

From Sungai Kilim, Man took us out to sea and visited a boat catching prawns. While waiting to see the prawns being hauled up with their net, a school of dolphins suddenly surfaced near our boat. What a lucky day for us.....Man said that he had not seen the dolphins for about a month!

fisherman catching prawns from the Andaman Sea....

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Reset.....by Suflan Shamsuddin

The short break in Pangkor Laut allowed me to catch up on my reading.

Reset..by Suflan Shamsuddin is the fourth book published by ZI Publishers ( ZI by the way is Zaid Ibrahim). The company's first book was Zaid Ibrahim's own "In Good Faith" and their second and third books were written by Kassim Ahmad and Farish Noor respectively. Zaid told me that his plan for ZI Publications is to publish quality books that other publishers do not consider to publish!

Suflan is a lawyer by training and works for a multinational and is currently based in London. He also happens to be Zaid's brother-in-law.

Reset discusses the political situation the country is in today. Suflan worries about the political stalemate the country now faces and set about proposing a formula that may be tried to solve the current dilemma of race politics.

He reiterated the Social Contract upon which our forefathers have agreed to allow and give automatic citizenships to the immigrant communities in exchange for the special rights and positions of the Malays to be enshrined in the Constitution. Rather than continuing to argue about who is the son of the soil and who is the immigrant , Suflan introduces, as a concept, the 'Notion of Hospitality' which he believes is inherent in all Eastern cultures and can be used as a platform to bridge the communal gap we encounter in this country. Reading this chapter a few times, I cannot help but feel that this 'Notion of Hospitality' still carries a flavour which is not palatable to the younger generation of our society today. Unless I misunderstood it, the "Notion" still leaves a feeling that the Chinese and Indians are guests of this country! We are already into the third generation post-independence, and such a notion is increasingly unacceptble by our children.

That aside Suflan also wrote a few chapters on a proposal to reconstruct our political dynamics with the objectives of moving away from race-based politics towards a more inclusive politics that may help us avoid an unpleasant racial conflict. Suflan's book is a good start to more constructive discussion on our politics.

For another review of the book I recommend you to also read http://www.bakrimusa.blogspot.com/

One Island One resort...the Pangkor Laut Resort

Raena came home for a 2-week vacation after which she went back to Edinburgh to continue her postgraduate study for a MSc in Economics/Finance at the Edinburgh University School of Business. As she had missed our earlier trip to Redang and Tg Jara (which was actually planned for her) we decided to check out the Pangkor Laut Resort to fulfil her request for a beach holiday.

I had been to Pangkor Laut many years ago. It was then called the Pansea at Pangkor Laut and the chalets were built using container cabins! What I remember very clearly was the crystal clear water of the island's Emerald Bay.

Today, Pangkor Laut is an upmarket resort, with comfortable villas built on stilts over water and equally comfortable villas tucked prettily along the steep slopes of the islands hills.

lovely water villas seen from the infinity pool of the beach club..

hillside villas built along steep slopes with little damage to the original habitat..

Despite the chaos of the financial market worldwide and the doom and gloom prediction to the world economy, I was surprised to see that the resort had a reasonable number of guests. Many were European couples (probably on honeymoon) and of course you cannot escape the group of newly-rich mainland China tourists in most places these days.

view from the balcony of our hillside villa....the jetty of the island and the Pangkor Island in the background

Emerald Bay is a long uphill walk across the island but you can call for the resort's shuttle to ferry you across the hill to this beautiful beach. I wish all resorts in Malaysia will emulate the YTL hotels in deploying some staff to sweep clean the beach continously to clear it of the leaves, branches, weeds etc as these were swept ashore by the strong currents of the bay.

sweepers continously clear the rubbish from the beach...

Pangkor Laut is a great place for a quiet holiday, to keep up on your reading, to walk and jog and enjoy nature at its prettiest while toning up your body and stamina ,or to just laze around under the sun and swim in the pool or the sea. Their restaurants serve a whole range great food, local ,western or fusion.

And if you are one that cannot stay unconnected, the Library offers free internet service

my partner updating her 'aginghippietales' and my daughter checking out her business..