Is life a battlefield ?

I woke up this morning  with these pressing questions in mind: Is life a battlefield? Am I  struggling  to get something or fighting to win something ? If so, who is the enemy? Am I on the winning side or losing side? Am I the good guy or the bad guy? Where is my weapon? In a battle people shoot with guns? Where is my gun? Maybe that’s why I see many people struggle in life because they are in a battlefield. Some drove fast and furiously dangerous maybe because they didn’t want to lose out in their battle. They jumped traffic queues, supermarket queues or any queue because staying put, being static, means they would be in a  vulnerable state; a very dangerous position in any battle. People fight each other a lot, well this is what people usually do in a battle, which causes a lot of pains  and sufferings. Politicians fight an ugly battle nowadays just to win whatever they believe should behold for the society. Friends, colleagues, brothers, sisters, husbands and wives are all the warriors or fallen heroes of some battles. We set to endure pains for the possibility of wining the battle. It’s like losing a lottery for the sake of maybe, just maybe that he would be that winning millionaire. “perjuangan yang belum selesai…” –a slogan that shows a battle of some sort—for some it is not a mere slogan but a lifestyle. I feel so remote and isolated because I really hate that stupid slogan.
I see life as living not fighting. That’s why I don’t understand why people compete just to get to the food at the surau. I would sit for iftar because no one struggles to get anything before the azan but after that they will fight their way to the food; and I always  would  leave them alone. It’s okay maybe they need the food  more than I do.I would prefer a quiet dinner at home. I love driving not because of the speed but because it takes me some where, let me see more people and most importantly for me to enjoy the scenery during the ride. That’s why I drive very slowly. I hate when people ask “berapa jam sampai KB?”—and they compared with others who has done it in half of my time. I always came in at the bottom. Go away, I just don’t care how fast I drove or how fast you have driven.  Maybe life is “ a survival of the fittest” , a natural phenomenon that fit very well in describing how things evolved and changed. Well I beg to differ with Mr Darwin because I am a human and I realize that I have this thing called “intelligence”. With my intelligence I drive my own evolution and cast my own destiny without leaving anything to chance. I will call my theory “ an intelligent selection for the survival of human species”; how’s that Mr Darwin?
I have survived for nearly half a decade of wonderful life and hoping for more in the future. In many of those years I always tried to be someone else: smart like so and so, lively like so and so, have muscles and six-pack like some actors and what not. In the end what makes me happy is to be myself; nothing fancy just me and my own self. I don’t fight to live; I just live it.
I’m sure your life is far more challenging than mine; live it to the fullest folks! And good luck.

People do play tricks

After a week-long Gawai break, we were back in the meeting room. The LAF (Lembaga Akademik Fakulti) meeting was held this morning. This is one important meeting not to be missed. I have been planning for months to present our newly-reviewed diploma curriculum—Diploma in Computer Science. It is one of the oldest programs in UiTM. I am honored to be part of the evolution process of DCS.As I studied the curriculum, I saw many flaws and shortcomings. It’s like mending an old house—you renovate the kitchen at one point, and then the living room for the coming Raya, or extending the bedroom for more space etc. The house does not look better but it serves the ever-growing needs of the family. That what happened to our DCS. Over the years we changed this and that to meet certain purposes or solved problems but had never been successfully reviewed the curriculum thoroughly. I am not gonna try to do it either because it is a never-ending task. Anyway, my presentation at the meeting was okay—so I thought. I could have never imagined that today I would learn another lesson in board room meeting—people do play shit. I brought into the meeting a proposal of a new curriculum that we have put a lot of man hours into it. Workshops , meetings, debates and discussions have been initiated to come up with this proposal. I have put a lot of time putting together the bits and pieces to support our arguments. Today I learned that those are shits that people like to play around in a board meeting.  I was speechless to see my words were twisted around, my arguments were not seen and understood and my justifications were irrelevant most of the time. I learnt today that you don’t go into a meeting with a big pile of working papers or properly aligned documents. It’s like a kid going to the football field in the kampung wearing soccer boots, knee pads and guards where as the other kids are playing with kaki ayam—they will create a whole new game to make you look like an ass. The same thing happened in the board meeting today, I was stunned as the others were playing a whole new ball game. I just did not understand at all. I was cornered last time in the same board meeting and now again in this meeting. I feel so stupid as I could never learn my way around this game in a board meeting. How do you feel when your own buddy  had turned  against you…hey wait a minute you said something else last time….nothing can help you now…as if you were alone in a crowded room, gasping for air to nurture your disbelief of the circumstances.
I went on trying to get a new footing in this mad and noisy situation but nothing helped as if I went deeper and deeper into a shit hole. What went wrong? I don’t have the answer but I know I don’t have something that I should have—and I don’t know what that is. I thought democracy plays well in a board meeting—nope, that’s how they will officially kill you or make you suffer by sending you away with a big question mark and ask you to come back and ask the same question again and again. I thought having friends would save my ass, nope people see that as an opportunity to gang up that would include everyone else but you. I thought a good paper work will strengthen your argument ; nope, they will play around with your words and plans until the whole thing collapsed. I am really confused. Now I have to go back and explain the whole thing to my department and get another round of kick-ass thingy.  How positive can I be at this point and time ? am I being punished or something?
So far I am still at it trying to get through. Deep down I know there are answers to all those questions. And I know I will get to them eventually….in my own way. Maybe I need that X-factor the next time I walk into the meeting room.—whatever that is. Or maybe I just keep talking until someone listens ……
By the way, good luck in your next meeting.

Meeting ! meeting !

I guess I just could not get away from this daily ritual. Meeting. There is no fun whatsoever in doing this but we have to do it anyway. I have never come across someone who can make meeting fun and enjoyable because the very nature of it , it is no fun. I just wish to come across such a person; he /she must be really something. Anyway, since my admin appointment and a regular at the faculty’s meeting , I have picked up a few soft skills:
1. Don’t lose your temper over an issue; it’s not worth it. If it is so important to you than stick to it but if the meeting is not going your way, let it be. There are other ways to resolve your issue. For some , meeting seems the only way but believe me there are other ways as well. Find them.
2. Drowning an issue. When the meeting is facing an issue deems sensitive to the upper board; the issue will eventually get dismissed. If you raised an issue that you think important but others don’t, they will start picking up your issue bit by bit until a completely new issue emerges. Your issue has been drowned and if no effort from you to save it then it will be gone.
3. If you have something to say then say it at the beginning of the meeting. Mr Chairman, Sir, before we start let me say……if Mr Chairman is a happy chap that day you will be lucky but otherwise you might get a smackdown. But always try your luck because if you say it at the eleventh hour of the meeting nothing will get through; we would either be too hungry to stay on or too tired to contemplate your statements.
4. Get an early start. Sometime you can try putting your issue ahead through an email. This can also be a good tool to lobby a decision.
5. Better late than never. Being late to a meeting is more acceptable than being absent altogether. Cook up a good excuse and you are as good as the others. You can catch up with the agenda later on with the secretary that you must always be nice to.
6. Keep your honorable manner with the chairperson and respect your colleagues. Address people properly.Always begin with “ Tuan Pengerusi, izinkan saya …..”. Talking big as if you are the most intelligent person there is a strategy from yesterday; no one will respect you for that.
7. If there is one meeting that you can avoid then skip this one …..meeting with bendahari (bursar). It will drag on and on .
8. Never keep your wife or kids waiting until you finish the meeting. It will never finish. Make arrangements way beforehand.
9. Always take notes. Sometime minutes of the meeting are not exactly the same as what has been agreed upon. You will find your scribbles more important than ever.
10. Don’t serve double standards with your staff; inside or outside the meeting. Be truthful. If you promise to support your staff then by all means support him/her; even if that means sticking your neck out. Some people promise something outside the meeting but once inside he’s a sucker only good to save own ass. Be honest to yourself and your people.
OK that’s it. Good luck in your next meeting.

Does money define your dignity?

All civil servants are now in dilemma yet again. To opt or not to opt the new salary scheme called SBPA. It offers new salary and reactivates the classic “ass-kissing” way of promotion. The increment ranges from 300 to a whopping 5K and as usual the higher end belongs to the higher ranking civil servants. In my term, the professors receive the biggest increment and I as usual will be at the other end. The deadline to opt is at end of the year but due to some loopholes in the scheme some people feel victimized and report a complaint not to the police but straight to the PM. And with ‘mesra rakyat’ slogan the PM office could not say NO but postpone the deadline for a review. The loophole seems to be at the middle-higher structure of the scheme. The transfer to the new scheme will put a 10-year senior at the same salary spot with a newly appointed junior. A 10-years associate professor, for example, will have the same salary with a newly appointed associate professor. Where is the fairness in this? ,someone asked. The government should recognize our seniority and reward accordingly. It’s not about money, but our dignity, they seem to justify. And how much money/salary range that we are talking here -7-8K basic salary per month. With all the allowances that will easily come up to at least 10K per month but people just never satisfy. We want more and more.
But we can’t blame anybody now as money seems to define our life. Students are given RM200 for the books, the BR1M gives RM500 to buy groceries and everyone gets a bigger fatter wallet at the back pocket. We have become so caught up counting money we never realized that we have turned capitalists; where money is everything. Every single drop of sweat has a dollar sign and things won’t move unless you pay for it to move. Day by day we can feel all these coming to our doorsteps and soon will get into our hearts and minds. We have become so much like the West, so modern and advanced. But are we not aware that the West is going bust in their economy—-the capitalist. Are we going the same way ?
We seem to forget the strength that we have all along called Islam. some of us hate it because the West hate it. They have painted everything bad about Islam and we just follow. In Islam dignity is not about dollars and cents but one’s closeness to God .For some it’s hard to comprehend, as being good won’t buy you lunch or feed your children. Our modern society has isolated the thing called faith from our everyday life. The thing that we know will make our life easier—faith not the money. But it’s difficult to realize that until we change our perspective of life. The thing is not easy but can be done. Make doa and he will show the way, InsyaALlah.

So choose the right word to define your dignity and your life. And choose the right people to govern and define our society.

MQA Visit to UniKL

There has been a while since my last visit to UniKL. The last visit was at the old place in Pertama Complex. Now they have this beautiful place right in the middle of busy KL.

Prof Dr Roslan (Dean) and his Deputy
 The Management Staff

KL Tower

Jalan Sultan Ismail

Meeting with students

trying to explain why UniKL is the best…

EGM at Surau Al Taqwa Seksyen 7 Shah Alam

So it’s the time again that we will pick the surau committee to manage and organize all activities at the surau to benefit the surrounding community.It seems uneventful but believe me the meeting will be a hot one. There’re already lobbying activities going on as the event is still more than two weeks away. There are people who will go all the way to make sure their team will sit in the committee. I mean what is there to fight after all this is only a surau. Well folks this is no ordinary surau and sect 7 shah alam is no ordinary community.That’s what they say, whatever that means. For me it’s just like any other surau and I go there to do my prayers, that’s all.Some people want the surau to be something else and when a lot of things are going on; the surau will be a bit complex in nature.I guess that will be good for everyone including myself so I shouldn’t be complaining.

So far the surau is doing fine. The ceramahs are on most of the time and the five daily prayers are gaining more safs everytime. The Ramadhan and Qurban were celebrated without a miss; so if I had it my way I would have just retained the old committee and get on with our regular activities.The committee has lined up a few big names that have come our way such as the Mufti of Perak, Ust Hassan Mahmood al hafiz, Ust Ravi, Ann Wang Seng, YB Dr Zul, YB Dr Mujahid, YB Rantau Panjang in addition to our monthly Kuliah from Ust Nazmi, Ust Amran, Ust Aleh, Ust Halim Din, Ust Azahar UIA, Ust Heryanto, Ust Muhaimin, Ust Fadhil, and a few others. It was quite active and every night it has become a routine to prepare for the kuliah as the timetable is available 1st day of the month. It’s hard to keep your notes updated as each ustaz will see you once a month and by the next lesson you may have forgotten the last one. A new and more structured way of learning should be in place and this is one thing that I would like to see done by the new committee.

I moved to Section 7 about five years ago and I’ve seen many things have changed at the surau over the years. Last time when I arrived for the solah (especially Maghrib) there would always be a circle just beside the entrance where people chatted and smoked. This is a regular scene at a surau in my kampong many many years ago. So when I saw it here I said Oh no not here also……everytime you want to go in then you have to greet every single one in the circle; especially if you are a new member of the community I really didn’t feel comfortable with that because for me it is just nothing but a waste of time. Besides, I don’t smoke. But today alhamd that circle has disappeared, all the chairs are gone and people don’t sit around anymore. I think that’s a big improvement and, unless the new committee feels the need to reminiscent, things are good as they are.The surau is air-conditioned; very comfortable in fact that was the first surau I went into that has an air-conditioning system….only in Shah Alam. And the people are very generous; the tabung could see a few hundred dollars collected every night during the kuliah maghrib alone. The Gazza fund was nearly RM30K where RM17K was collected cash during that night alone. And every year they have a Golf tournament going on and that will contribute about RM12K to the surau fund. All these figures are posted at the surau for everyone to see. Very transparent indeed. And at the moment a renovation is going on and the surau will be spending more than 100K for that; about 50K came from the people and the rest was generously sponsored by a corporate individual.

I am proud to be part of this Surau—Al Taqwa Seksyen 7 Shah Alam.

The Clogged Artery, Majestic KLIA Mosque

On Sunday we visited our uncle who’s recuperating after a surgery. He is not yet forty and got the early warning after a stress test. One thing led to another and the next thing he knew ,he was lying on an operating table for an angioplastic surgery. The scary picture below is his right heart before the insertion and after.

(left) the arrow showing the part where the artery is clogged
(right) the artery repaired by inserting “a spring”
(click on the image for a bigger pic)

The Majestic KLIA Mosque