Monday, November 29, 2004

Jejak Kasih - Part II

Zack (my junior in Dorm 21) was in Kerteh for an audit last weekend. I supposed Zack wanted to try his luck by asking whether I could pick him up from Kuantan Airport to Awana Kijal - but I was frank enough to tell Zack that he was not jambu enough for me to entertain that kind of request (ha ha). A nice kid, but not jambu enough.

We had our normal monthly gathering and it becomes very clear now that Bobo and I had become the official patrons. I think we are going to call it McD Club (for lack of a better name for a secret society). While we are on it, McD Kerteh was a victim of terrible vandal acts recently, with vandals such as "McShit", "Bodoh" etc. scrawled prominently on its floor and walls. Rasa-rasanya McD is not really welcome in Terengganu after all.....

Bobo came late, but Nuddin (Class of 98), Zack (Class of 96), Amon (Class of 96) and I were almost on time. Zack paid for the dinner - until now I curse myself for having only a Milo and french fries (yes in Kerteh it is still called french fries, not freedom fries), I should have had 3 Bigmac, 2 McChicken etc. etc. just to dent Zack's pocket.

Bobo came with Pacal, his office mate. Exciting kid, eyes always glowing (Pacal that is, not Bobo) ha ha.

In the end, it became a reunion for Amon and Zack who had not met all this while, with Zack updating Amon on the what has been happening with their batch members. Since Bobo and I used to share the same interest, we asked for an update of B86 - not much coming from Zack though.

Before we left (around 1 am something, kesian adik McD tu kena kerja lambat that night), the conversation degenerated into "what it could have been", with Bobo suggesting that I started my own "order" business back in koleq with people like B86 to man the operation. A sure success considering the interest back then ha ha.. along the way I was kicking my head thinking how dumb I was back then not to have thought of such a brilliant business venture.

So that's McD Club for November, I know Bobo needs this McD Club as much as I do if only to feel that he is still unmarried and free to do whatever he wishes for, at least once a month....

MCKK Centenary Celebrations Treasure Hunt

The MCKK Centenary Celebrations Treasure Hunt will be held on the 18th and 19th December 2004 from Kuala Lumpur-Ipoh-Kuala Kangsar.

Entry fee is RM160.00 per person, with a minimum of two participants and maximum of four in one car. The entry fee covers participation fees, buffet dinner and one night stay at Ipoh on day 1, a buffet breakfast and lunch on day 2, as well as t-shirts and goodies.

Entry fee for children under 12 years old is RM100 per child. Participation is limited to 100 cars. Registration closes on 11th December 2004.

Entry forms can be obtained from the MCOBA Penthouse. Enquiries can be directed to Sdr. Sam Rahman at 017-338 2389 or 03-7781 7159.

Radin's Wedding
23/11/2004 09:58 AM

Assalamualaikum semua,

Aku nak menjemput korang semua ke kenduri kahwin aku pada 19 December 2004 di Dewan Kompleks Sukan Sri Delima, Off Jalan Kuching KL.

Sila beri alamat korang utk aku poskan invitation card aku. atau korang boleh sms address korang kpd no. hp aku 019 2369 577

Jejak Kasih - Part I

More picture here

From: Noni
To: Batch-net
Date: Sometime lepas raya

Official duty aku hari ni still to send e-mails (just like any other days).

Anyway, last Monday I went out ngan Sharap and Zadin - since I have not seen nor spoken to them for the past 10 years. It wasn't really a tearful reunion so I spare you the sentimental bit, but it was good meeting people you have lost contact for a very long time. At least with Sharap, I was very close to him in F5, but Zahadin and I rarely had an encounter even when we were in koleq.

Unfortunately we had to do it kat Starbucks - because I hate Starbucks and kedai2 kopi yang sewaktu dengannya. I was planning for a treat at a Chinese restaurant nearby, but it seems my appetite for big dinner and fattening food was not shared by the other two, so we had to settle for Starbucks. I had a feeling that Zadin thought I was a yuppie-kind of person who could not survive without occasional dose of surreal experience at Starbucks, if only to feel that I was close enough to the place of happenings/hip etc. So the money that would have been better spent at a gerai nasi ayam or on good Chinese dinner that night, was spent enriching Zionist-backing Starbucks.....

Anyway, I was quite surprised that after 10 years, people hardly change in appearance (wokay I put on 30 kg, but what's the big deal?) or behaviour, although they do grow up and become more matured. The worldview is quite different and it was quite obvious (but then again hardly anyone shares my worldview and complex) - but unlike those days in koleq when people yelled when they disagreed on something (on an issue as trivial as kena confinement sebab katil kotor or someone's bapak was allegedly a setan), Sharap and Zadin were very accommodating to my unusual views (although they seemed to flinch uncomfortably when I suggested that **tut tut**, or that **tut tut** - too sensitive!)

All in all it was a well spent second hari raya - there is still a huge gap but it's amazing how such gaps no longer intimidate us or stop us from sitting down at one table, whereas in koleq you would never have done that if you know there's a huge chasm between you and the next person.

I met Sharap again a few days after before he went back to Bangi and talked about a lot of things (well actually Sharap had to listen to my babbling most of the time) - it's refreshing to know we still share the same views on a lot of issues.

Next is to meet Madad, who I haven't met for the last 2 years and is back in Malaysia until 6 December.

(Yeaaaay, dah habis half an hour writing one e-mail, I need to write a couple more e-mails to kill time before lunch break, then sepah2kan meja to look busy after Jumaat to survive the next 2 hours.... It's a wonderful life!)

* gambar attached to prove I did not make up stories - aku did berjejak kasih this raya

hafiznizam hashim
19/11/2004 10:29 PM

apa rasa Starbucks kemamang??? kopi dia kaw ke??? hehehehehe...ko mesti ada running tab kat situ kan??? muahahahahaha...aku raya ni bonding ngn fly je tapi tak de la pulak ambik gambar mcm ko...yang lain tak dak sesapa...dah la masuk tahun nie 2 tahun berturut2 raya kat seremban...tak dapat bonding ngn syed asruru...

pengumuman lagi satu...anak aku dah boleh berjalan...

Amir Zafily B Zakaria
20/11/2004 09:52 AM

tak sampai ker ayien, idzam, mongger etc ke rumah kau? anyway, rasanya still tak terlambat nak ucapkan Salam Aidilfitri to all, Maaf Zahir & Batin... Jangan lupa buat puasa enam ye...

"Muhammad Gadaffi b. Hussain"
21/11/2004 01:56 PM

Ceh tergamak kau minum kat kedai yang ada sumbangan kat zionis! Apa nak jadi dengan korang bertiga ni.

Apsal Zahadin dan Saraf satu fesyen???- ada janggut tak ada misai???? Depa join kumpulan Rhoma Irama ker berdakwah sambil berdangdut????

M Rafizi B Ramli
11/25/2004 12:45 PM

>> pengumuman lagi satu...anak aku dah boleh berjalan...

sure buas/liar macam bapak dia masa kecik - cuma bapak dia dulu obesity limited his buasness masa kecik, anak dia tak tahu laaa

Amir Zafily B Zakaria
25/11/2004 12:51 PM

rasanya epit junior ni tak sebuas bapak dia la kot sebab dia kurus sket...

25/11/2004 01:19 PM

jambu jures n jita (tapi jita x claim lak sekarang) masa kat koleq, zen akmal, is with accenture

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Aleng's Wedding

Assalamu'alaikum wrt dan salam sejahtera,

Dengan segala hormatnya saya menjemput kawan-kawan ke majlis meraikan perkahwinan saya pada Ahad, 4 dan 5 Disember 2004.

Semoga kehadiran kawan-kawan akan memeriahkan lagi majlis.

Terima kasih

Ikhlas dari,
Arulhaizal Adam Hamzah

Note: Tak pulak diberitahu alamat or kat mana dia nak kahwin - kena call dia la kot.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

The Final Battle

Courtesy of The Guardian

Their story is the hardest to tell: that of the Iraqi civilians who have remained in the besieged city of Falluja. They have no embedded Western journalists to speak for them, only a few Iraqi correspondents. They cannot leave their homes because of the risk of constant sniper fire. They have no water to drink, no electricity. If they are injured, they have nowhere to go.

Suddenly, the bitter urban war that many feared would greet the advancing coalition troops during their invasion in March last year, has become a reality in Falluja and is threatening elsewhere.

With it has come the awful realities for civilians. 'Anyone who gets injured is likely to die, because there's no medicine and they can't get to doctors,' said Abdul-Hameed Salim, a volunteer with the Iraqi Red Crescent. 'There are snipers everywhere. Go outside and you're going to get shot.'

Rasoul Ibrahim, who fled Falluja on foot with his wife and three children on Thursday morning, said families left in the city were in desperate need. Doctors at Falluja's hospital said there had been an increase in typhoid cases. 'There's no water. People are drinking dirty water. Children are dying,' Ibrahim told aid workers in Habbaniya, a makeshift refugee camp 12 miles to the west of Falluja where about 2,000 families are sheltering. 'People are eating flour because there's no proper food.'

The picture is at best patchy. In the battle for Falluja the fate of those who have remained - perhaps between 30,000 and 50,000 in a city whose population is normally 250,000 - remains largely unknown. And for a reason. One of the first actions of US troops in the hours before the full-scale assault on the city from the north was to the seize its general hospital to prevent what one US officer described as 'insurgent propaganda' over casualty figures.

So the condition of those who have stayed has come out in dribs and drabs: a nine-year-old boy who died of a wound caused by shrapnel to the stomach because he could not reach medical aid; the claim by Mohammed Amer, a doctor at a Falluja clinic, that 12 people had died in the opening assault; and the statements of the aid agencies.

On Friday, an Iraqi journalist leaving the city gave one of the few insights into civilian conditions. Those who have not fled, he said, had stayed indoors for fear of constant explosions. 'If the fighters fire a mortar, US forces respond with huge force,' said the journalist, who asked not to be named. There was heavy damage to houses. American forces were destroying every car they saw for fear of car bombs, he said.

The city had been without power or water for days. Frozen food had spoiled and people could not charge their cellphones. The journalist said US forces controlled the northern half of the city, but insurgents were still fighting in the central Wahda and southerly Shuhada and Sinai districts. 'Some people hadn't prepared well. They didn't stock up on tinned food. They didn't think it would be this bad,' he said.

Yesterday a four-truck Red Crescent convoy of relief supplies was finally given permission to enter the city. The trucks were carrying food, blankets, first-aid kits, medicine and a water purification unit.

There is another group whose names and histories remain obscured amid the statements by senior US officers and the Pentagon that they have killed hundreds of insurgents. They are the US soldiers who have been arriving in their plane-loads at the US military hospital at Landstuhl in Germany, the biggest in Europe. They are the wounded who cannot be treated in the Iraq theatre - suffering from spinal and neurological injuries.

Already, confronted by the surge in combat casualties that has seen 24 US soldiers dead and more than 200 wounded, the hospital is expanding its capacity. Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Jordan, a physician at the hospital's deployed warrior centre, which assesses incoming wounded after their six-hour plane trip, said: 'We've had more cases of bullet wounds than usual, though some have also suffered blast wounds from rocket-propelled grenades.'

These are the costs of war with consequences that go beyond the simple and oft-stated objective of reclaiming Falluja from the insurgents. On one side is an increasing allied death toll that threatens a lingering political impact in both the US and Britain. On the other, is the already escalating 'blow-back' on the interim government of Ayad Allawi and his security forces and on his allies in the US-led multinational forces.

The assault on Falluja has coincided with the insurgents' own November offensive across the areas where they are strongest - most obviously in Mosul, a city of a million people that in recent months has threatened to equal Falluja as the main resistance centre.

Yesterday the Iraqi government was rushing reinforcements to Mosul after co-ordinated attacks against police stations and Iraqi National Guard centres that had in effect driven security forces from the streets and left large areas under the control of the insurgents. According to residents, insurgents were in charge of some areas of south and western Mosul, holding two police stations and manning roadblocks, as Iraq's third-largest city appeared to be sliding out of US and Iraqi control. Residents in neighbourhoods throughout the city on the Tigris, 240 miles north of Baghdad, said there was little visible presence of Iraqi security forces or US troops yesterday. They said armed gunmen held some areas.

'In the south and the west of the city, insurgents are doing patrols to protect banks and shops from looters. They are guarding hospitals, schools and fire stations,' said one man, who would give only his first name, Thamer. Another resident said there were Iraqi National Guards and some US troops positioned at the ends of some of the five bridges that span the Tigris, but other than that, security was light.

Mosul province deputy Khissrou Gouran said that on Friday gunmen had tried to storm a food distribution centre in the city's Yarmouk area, but were forced back by National Guardsmen and security guards. The gunmen were trying to destroy election registration cards held at the centre, he said. Militants in Mosul have also assassinated the head of the city's anti-crime task force, Brigadier-General Mowaffaq Mohammed Dahham, and set fire to his home.

'With the start of operations in Falluja a few days ago, we expected that there would be some reaction in Mosul,' Brigadier-General Carter Ham, commander of US forces in the city, told CNN. He doubted the Mosul attackers were insurgents who fled Falluja and said most 'were from the northern part of Iraq, in and around Mosul and the Tigris river valley south of the city'.

It has not just been in Mosul. In Baghdad on Friday clashes erupted in at least four neighbourhoods of the capital. Clashes also broke out from Hawija and Tal Afar in the north to Samarra - where the police chief was also fired at - and Ramadi in central Iraq.

Such has been the violence in response to the assault on Falluja that politicians and officials are already changing their briefing lines on what the battle for Falluja was supposed to achieve. Six weeks ago officials on both sides of the Atlantic were talking about how they hoped that giving the fighters in the city 'a big slap' would be definitive in ending the insurgency and quickly pave the way for elections in January.

It is a promise that has been made before. The establishment of an Iraqi governing council was supposed to do the same, as was the capture of Saddam and the handover of sovereignty. Yet all have seen the violence get worse.

Now senior military officers in Britain and the US have begun to express private doubts over whether the battle for Falluja will make things better in the long run, or much worse. By yesterday even George Bush was rowing back on expectations that there would be any improvement in Iraq's security situation, instead warning that it could worsen in the run-up to the planned elections in January.

Falluja, it now appears, may be a turning point, but of a kind that London and Washington had not anticipated. For while the US marines may win the battle in the 'city of mosques', the inevitable question will be: at what cost?

Already the fighting in the city, and the preparation for the battle, has overturned hard-held assumptions about the nature of the insurgents. For months, in briefings in Baghdad and elsewhere, the picture of the insurgency was of a chaotic and largely criminal affair, bolstered by ex-Baathists and foreign terrorists from the Zarqawi network.

In recent months, however, intelligence officials in Washington and the UK have drawn up a picture that is infinitely more troubling for the interim government and its sponsors in the west. From an estimate that the fighters number hundreds, latest figures put the numbers of insurgents at up to 20,000 fighters and allies. Even that appears to be a guess. What is also clear is that, far from being loosely organised groups, the insurgency is well funded and led by up to 20 former regime members, including cousins of Saddam, and Mohammed Younis al-Ahmed, a former aide to Saddam and regional Baath party leader.

On the ground, too, the US military appears to have underestimated the sophistication and determination of the insurgents, particularly in Falluja. As the battle has unfolded, US troops have been surprised by the ingenuity of the fighters who, aware that their communications can be listened to by the American soldiers, have used flags to concentrate their attacks.

The insurgents also appear to have fine-tuned their tactics against US helicopters, bringing down four by ground fire from rocket-propelled grenades and small arms in a few days.

In what appears to have been a major tactical error, it now appears that perhaps the majority of insurgents in Falluja, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose alleged presence there was the pretext for the assault, may have been able to slip away to regroup elsewhere.

US military reports show that bands of up to 15 guerrillas at a time left Falluja in the days before the US onslaught. 'That's probably why we've been able to move as fast as we have,' one officer from the Army's 1st Cavalry Division, said. 'We gave them so much fair warning that the only ones who stayed had a death wish.'

There is another view - that those who chose to stay and die did so as an overtly political act of immolation. Because they see their deaths in Falluja not as a last stand, but as the beginning of a wider insurrection.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Fallujah, Arafat, Tak Bai, Eid-ul-Fitri

We live in a globalised world – and I must be one of the more globalised persons in this globalised world, for here I am, feeling utterly depressed and worried with what is happening in Iraq, Palestine, Southern Thailand and other Muslim hotspots around the world – less than 12 hours before Eid-ul-Fitri, a day to commemorate and celebrate our victory throughout Ramadhan. I cannot be alone; there must be millions of Muslims around the world feeling this pinch of globalisation lately.

This year’s Eid-ul-Fitri is reminiscent to 2001’s Eid-ul-Fitri, when I celebrated it moderately in London in the midst of cluster and daisy cutter bombs being mercilessly dropped in Afghanistan. Back then, the most common Eid greeting that I sent to friends was not to forget the Afghans in our joy and spending spree – to the point that I must have irritated some of them immensely.

History repeats itself. More than a month ago, we saw and witnessed helplessly the slaughter of our brethren in Tak Bai and the systematic inhumane treatment meted out by the authority. If each day we are accustomed to a few Muslim deaths in Palestine – never before we were hit with hundreds of Muslim deaths in one day so close at home. It is more painful to bear in mind that the Muslim population of Pattani shares the same language, blood, culture and heritage with us.

A week ago, fresh from the so-called mandate (although one cannot miss the fact that Republicans manipulated the referendum on gay marriage and abortion to attract evangelical Christians to come out in drove for Bush – Bush was a secondary issue, it was the referendum that worked to the disadvantage of the Democrats) he received in the recently concluded election, Dubya authorised the assault on Fallujah – as it was with Afghanistan in 2001, this former cocaine addict ignored the importance and sacredness of Ramadhan and Eid-ul-Fitri to the Muslims. Fighting continues till this very hour, with the main hospital being overrun by the GIs and the town lacking basic medical supplies. Guardian reported that there is not even a single surgeon left in the rubble of what once a prosperous Baghdad’s suburban.

As if that is not enough to plunge me in a depression, this week we learnt of Arafat’s death. I may not be so fond of him or his PA of late, but the fact this man embodies the struggle of Palestinians over five decades for self determination and dignity cannot be denied. In Arafat we learn of Palestinians’ hope, disappointment, courage, struggle and longing for a homeland which was taken away unjustly from them.

With the geopolitical shape of the world in its current state, one cannot help but feel utterly hopeless and devastated. Conservatives and right wing governments are taking hold in Washington, Canberra, Rome, Paris, Tel Aviv, Tokyo and other important governments of the world. Even Blair’s New Labour is a shadow of its past – sometimes it sounds more right wing than the Tories. In South East Asia, we are surrounded by right wing governments left right and centre – from Thaksin in Bangkok, to Arroyo in Manila to SBY in Jakarta (although we are yet to see SBY’s true colour, the conventional wisdom says that his army background and violent suppression of Acheh separatist movement to name a few is enough to conclude that this man is a conservative right wing) to PAP government down south.

The only consolation that I can draw in this moment of utter sadness is the fact that this is not the first time Muslim ummah is besieged in such a way. Back in the 80s when Reagan was in White House, Muslims were under attacked from all fronts in a similar way, if not worse. Reagan and Thatcher were on a manhunt of Gadaffi’s head – Tripoli was on constant hit list. The massacre of Shabra and Shatilla in 1982 barely had any effect on Reagan’s or Thatcher’s foreign policy, even at a time when Soviet Union was still around. Soviet Union was busy getting its hands bloody in Afghanistan. Marcos’ regime was ruthless in its suppression of the Moros’ liberation efforts in Mindanao. Saddam Hussein was armed to the teeth as a US’ stooge to conduct daily raids and bombing of Iran.

As much as so many things have changed after 20 years, nothing has changed when it comes to the fate and dignity of the ummah.

But we cannot be in perpetual despair since that will not alleviate our misery. I keep telling myself that the last time the Latin Kingdom was occupying Baitul Maqdis and the surrounding area, it took Muslim warriors of the era more than one hundred years to dislodge the Latin kings and knights for good from Jerusalem. Palestine is in the hands of the Zionist for sixty years, a comparably shorter period – and American hegemony has only come to its full form for less than two decades. Muslims have a long way to go and we cannot despair, for we have a lot of work to do – Allah grants His every promise and we shall be victorious.

It’s a question of time. Each time I think of this, it saddens me more knowing that realistically speaking, it will not happen in my life time. It took more than 100 years during the Crusade to dislodge the Latin kingdom from Middle East – this was when Muslim governments were far more superior in every aspect of life (though they lack unity among themselves). For one hundred years Imadudddin Zengi, the Atabeg of Mosul, and successively Nuruddin (Sultan of Syria), Shirkuh Asaduddin (Vezir of Egypt) and finally Salehuddin al-Ayubbi (Sultan of Egypt and Syria, Defender and Champion of Islam) harassed and attacked the Latin fortresses to rid the Holy Land of the oppressors. In spite of many victories on the battle field – it still took them more than one hundred years to retake Baitul Maqdis.

Now with the quarrelling Arab and Muslim nations, with no leadership whatsoever and each Muslim country is ruled with iron fist by a dictator who does the enemies’ bidding to save their own skin – it will take more than a mere one hundred years, let alone with the current state of appalling poverty, lack of knowledge, economic disempowerment and dispossession of Muslims around the globe.

It is with this realisation that we shall celebrate Eid-ul-Fitri this year. It shall be Fallujah, Arafat, Tak Bai and Eid that will occupy my mind in the next few days – in that order. Our prayers and tears of helplessness to the oppressed brothers and sisters around the globe, may we find our strength some day and in Allah we seek solace and protection.

* I may meet Zadin (the batch mate who is 15 minutes drive away but have not spoken to for 10 years), Sharap and Gadap this Hari Raya, since I don’t think there are many of us in this part of the world.