Search Engine


Saturday, February 28, 2009

Coming out in March

Title: Sekilas Pandang Ismail Haji Ibrahim
ISBN 978-983-44372-0-6
Editors: Shaikh Mohd Saifuddeen Shaikh Mohd Salleh & Norhanizah Ismail
Publisher: Yayasan Ilmuwan
Number of pages: 316
Price: RM28.00

Will be out in the third week of March.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Misdirected message

I had a good laugh yesterday.

At around 6 p.m., while having a discussion with a colleague at the office, I received the following text message from a friend:
Syg... I kat ofis skrg. TC.
[Honey, I'm at the office now. Take care]

Upon reading the text message, I realised that my friend had misdirected the message to me. I had a good laugh when I confronted him with the message. And he was very much embarassed, to say the least. He explained that he had wanted to send the message to a special someone whose name also starts with the letter 'S'.

Moral of the story? Check that you have the right receipient before sending your SMS or MMS.

P.S. I don't mind getting misdirected SMS or MMS. They serve as light-hearted entertainment for a workaholic like me.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Those of us who use Yahoo Messenger (YM) would certainly be familiar with the notification sound when our contacts come online or goes offline. The sound is akin to a whisper (for lack of a better way to describe it). It sounds like "Psssttt..." or something like that. This is actually the default sound for YM which one can actually change if one chooses to. I never changed the default setting simply because I didn't think that it'd make much difference.

Several months ago, my wife was at my office. She was marking her exam scripts while I was doing my work in front of my trusted laptop. Then I had to leave the room to attend to some matters on the administrative floor. When I came back, my wife asked me whether I have an automated air freshener in the room. You know, the one that would spray air freshener at certain intervals. I said, no. When I inquired her reason for asking, she said that she heard the sound of something similar to an automated air freshener.

I didn't respond because she could just be imagining things. Then I had to leave the room again, this time for a discussion on Level 2. About 15 minutes into the discussion, I received a text message from my wife saying that she has left the office building. When I met her later, she told me that she kept hearing the "whispering" sounds when I left the room. To hear whispers when no one is around was certainly too much for her to take. Strangely enough, these whispers were conspicuously absent when I was around.

Now, bear in mind that this incident takes place one day after a staff who was working late said that he saw "a shadowy figure" lurking in the background on his floor (Level 1). The staff rushed out of the office into the elevator, and he could hear "footsteps" chasing him down the stairs. He could also smell some sort of fragrance during the incident.

With that incident happening the day before, I did not want to speculate on the whispers that my wife heard. For days and weeks that followed, I have been staying back late for work, and I didn't hear any whispers in my room. That certainly got me puzzled.

Puzzled, that is, until two days ago.

I was at the office late at night with Rohaizad working on the book "Ke Arah Umat Hadhari". I was just outside my room when I heard a "whispering" sound. At first, the sound took me by surprise. But upon rationalising things, I realised that the sound was very familiar. I rushed into my room, stood in front of my laptop, and I started laughing when I realised what the whispers were.

It was the sound of one of my YM contacts going offline. All this while, I hear the same sound when I am in front of the laptop. So, the sound comes at the same time as the text notification of someone coming online or going offline. As such, my mind did not register anything peculiar or odd. Only when I was not in front of my laptop that I realise that the sound can be mistaken for someone whispering.

When my wife heard the whispers, she was not in front of the laptop. To her, it was like someone was whispering to her.

I told my wife what the whispering sound actually was. She nodded, but I don't think she is totally convinced. After all, the incident involving my staff on Level 1 is still unexplained until this very day.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Long overdue

I know I have been away from the blogosphere for almost a week. That's a relatively long time for me. Since the beginning of the year, I have been very busy, comparatively speaking. It wasn't like this last year. Nowadays, I would be lucky if I get around four hours of sleep.

Office hours are between 8.30 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. However, since the beginning of the year, I have been clocking in at around 7.30 a.m. and clocking out at around 10.00 p.m. on a "normal" day. The month of February is worse as I find myself clocking in at 7.00 a.m. and clocking out at 1.00 a.m. on most weekdays. It feels like I'm working double shift. On weekdays, chances are you'll find me at the office as well although I'd only spend about 6 hours working.

It's exhausting, but I don't have much choice. I have a deadline to meet. Yayasan Ilmuwan is in the midst of publishing a 600-page (approximation) book entitled "Ke Arah Umat Hadhari". This is actually one of my first assignments when I joined Yayasan Ilmuwan. There are 22 chapters in this book. The on-again, off-again, on-again status of the book contributed to its delay. There are a few chapters that were challenging because of the difficulty in finding writers. There were also writers who have agreed to write but changed their minds without informing the publisher. There were quite a few chapters that needed to be rewritten.

In any case, I am glad that the agony of getting the book out is almost over. I am fortunate to have the able assist of Norhanizah (on editing) and Rohaizad (on layouting). Hanizah has the unenviable task of proofreading the whole manuscript, while Rohaizad has been patient enough to work with me on minimising errors on the book as well as making the book presentable. I'll put up the cover once it is finalised.

We have also identified a very credible company to do the printing. And I hope, come the third week of March, the book will finally be out after a long gestation period of two years.

I can breath easier when it's all done.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

In memoriam: Mohd Zin Mohd Sel

I received the news of Pak Zin's passing at around 5 a.m. this morning from his son-in-law.

I knew Pak Zin from my Glasgow years. He was the warden of Malaysian students in Belfast. He was seconded to Glasgow twice (once in 1994 and once in 1995). It was during this time that I made the acquaintance of Pak Zin.

He was always a jovial fellow. I remember how he would come over the Malaysian Student Centre which is next door to the warden's quarters, and spend hours chatting with us - finding out our problems, etc. There was never a dull moment when Pak Zin was around. He would share stories from the Japanese era right up to the early days of independence. He would share his experience of dealing with the IRA in Belfast to ensure the Malaysian students' safety. He would often tell funny stories and would laugh out loud at our silly jokes. His passion was playing scrabble.

He even extended an invitation for us to visit him in Belfast. I remembered how three of us - Azri, Suhaimi and myself - flew off to Belfast for a whirlwind visit. It was quite an experience to be there, and Pak Zin was kind enough to host us for the duration of our visit. In 1996, Pak Zin was posted to Manchester. I visited him just before I came back to Malaysia for good. And again, Pak Zin played the role of a very good host.

After most of the student centres were closed down due to the 1998 economic recession, Pak Zin came back to Malaysia. He stayed for a while in Bukit Antarabangsa, which is just a stone's throw away from where I stayed. From time to time, I would visit him. And there were occasions that I would accept his challenge to play scrabble.

Later on, he moved to Puchong. I didn't get to see him as often as I did before, but still I was very much in contact with him. Towards the end of last year, I met up with him several times. I would drive to Puchong and accompany him for a chat over teh tarik. That was when I knew about his deteriorating health. Even then, he was still very jovial.

When I received the news of his passing just before subuh today, I was very much saddened. Pak Zin had touched the lives of many students during his years serving in the UK. I am sure most of the students especially those in Belfast and Manchester would find his passing a great loss.

My sincerest condolences to the widow and the family of Mohd Zin Mohd Sel.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

School buddies, 24 years later

About a month ago, five school buddies - some of whom have not met each other since 1985 - were reunited.
From left: Shazali (the engineer), Norizuddin (the businessman), Wan Alimi (the corporate figure), Yusrin (the lawyer), Shaikh (the academic)

I don't know about the others, but it didn't feel like we haven't met in nearly a quarter of a century. Our paths may have diverged and our thoughts may have matured differently, but we still share a special bond in the form of a mutual past.

Flashback 1985: Shazali (back row, extreme right), Norizuddin (sitting, extreme right), Yusrin (sitting, second from right), Wan Alimi (sitting, fourth from right), Shaikh (sitting, fifth from right).

I would say that all of us have certainly went a long way since our schooling days in the 1980s. I am very happy that my friends have found success in their lives today. Then again, we are talking about some of the brightest students I have ever known. Shazali is an engineer with an oil and gas consultant. Norizuddin has his own business. Wan Alimi is the vice president of a well-known investment bank. Yusrin is the senior partner of his own law firm.

I am indeed proud to have made the acquaintance of these friends of mine long before they are "somebody". Someone once remarked to me that friends whom you make during your school days would last longer because the friendship is not built upon what you have become, but rather, who you really are.

Monday, February 16, 2009


When I was in the UK, I was pretty much active in student activities, though initially not by choice. I was appointed as Assistant Secretary of the UMNO Club of Glasgow in 1992 with the understanding that I was only there to help the Secretary who is a friend from my batch.

The following year, I was made Secretary - again not by choice. I had wanted to relinquish all positions because "being active" was exhausting. However, when I was given the trust to do something, I would give it my very best. With the able leadership of the Head of the club and dedicated team in the committee, we managed to make the club the biggest in terms of membership and the most active in terms of activities in the UK at that point in time.

I remembered going around from house to house alone after class during the cold winter to get people to join the Club. It was exhausting, but the outcome was rewarding. I managed to get 133 members to sign up as paid members.

Of course, that was not an easy task. More often than not, people would ask me, "What do I get in return if I join?" My standard answer was, "We'll be having a lot of activities for the students here, and members will be given priorities and will enjoy special privileges."

Most of them did sign up after that. In the weeks that followed, people could see the varied activities that we had lined up for the students in Glasgow. Those who didn't sign up initially would sign up later on when they saw the benefits that they could gain as members.

Nonetheless, there was always the problem of "ahli manja" or "pampered/spoilt members". There are those who kept on asking for more benefits, rather than offering their services and help in organising activities. Sometimes, I just wished I had paraphrased JFK's famous quote: "Ask not what your club can do for you, ask what you can do for your club."

Since coming back from the UK, I have taken an inactive and silent role. I am not interested in being active in any organisations, clubs or whatever. I suspect the same can be expected here in Malaysia.

I suppose part of the problem that the country faces when it comes to corruption and money politics is due to the existence of these "ahli manja". They will keep on asking what (and how much) they can get, rather than asking what they can give for the benefit of all.

I have also noticed these "ahli manja" in my workplace. I guess they are probably everywhere. These are people who would make sounds when they feel that they should get something, but would suddenly disappear out of sight and not make any noise when they could not deliver what they are supposed to do (read: what they are paid for to do).

Frankly, I am tired of these manja people. To me, I am more concerned that every sen that I get from my salary is worth the amount of work that I do. I would rather give more than what I get. I remember one Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad that mentioned to the effect that the best of people are those who are beneficial to others.

That is why I commend and salute my staff members who go beyond their call of duty. These "rarities" are assets to an organisation. And believe me, these are the people who would be rewarded.

Not the manja ones.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

New look

It has been a long while since I changed the look of TeropongSkop.

I hope that this new look is fresher.

Do note that I am still doing changes to the blog's layout from time to time. Some of the links have yet to be added, but will be taken care of in the not so far future, insya-Allah.

Enjoy, and as I used to say (and haven't said in quite some time), keep on coming and I'll keep on blogging.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Disclaiming disclaimers

"Goods sold are not returnable".

"Deposits are non-refundable".

"Once broken considered sold".

These are some of the common disclaimers that we see at most shops. But apparently, according to this article I read today, these disclaimers are not based on the law. Even fact, the National Consumer Complaints Centre (NCCC) said that these disclaimers are unlawful and should not be displayed on receipts or within shops.

This is an important information to every consumer. Consumers have right, and these rights are enshrined in the Consumer Protection Act 1999 and the Sale of Goods Act 1957. The disclaimers that we often see, however, are not.

Read the article in The New Straits Times. It's an eye-opener for us, consumers.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Terima kaseyyy...

I am happy to read this in the news today. Some weeks back I commented on the undeserving Datukship of Shah Rukh Khan. But today, I am more than glad that David Arumugam has been made a Dato'. To me, this is long overdue.

Alleycats, one of the very few successful non-Malay band in the Malay music scene, has left an indelible mark in Malaysia's music terrain. Their tunes are evergreen and even today's generation is familiar with the band's brand of music.

David Arumugam, the lead singer of the band, is perhaps one of the most recognisable singers in the country. His trademark "terima kaseyyy..." after every song is most unforgettable.

To David Arumugam, and also singer Khadijah Ibrahim, congratulations on being made Dato' by the Sultan of Pahang.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tennis elbow

Since I started playing badminton again, I have developed a condition called tennis elbow. Medically, it is called lateral epicondylitis. In simple terms, it is a condition where the outer part of the elbow becomes painful.

Truth be told, I have never heard of any of the terms before. The pain is familiar but not the terms that come with the pain. So, today I have learnt something new. Here is more information on this condition.

Apparently there is also a condition called golfer's elbow or medial epicondylitis. Fortunately (or otherwise, depending on who you talk to), I am not a golfer.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A day in my life

Today has been very hectic, for lack of a better way to describe it. The morning began with the ritual checking the e-mail. Then I rushed to Universiti Malaya for a meeting to discuss a seminar on Islam and science that we are organising next month. This was followed by a press conference, which I knew nothing about, to talk about the said seminar among other things. Frankly, the reporter was more interested on other matters.

As soon as that was over, I rushed to the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia for a discussion on the possibility of organising a radio forum, also next month. As it was already near lunch time, I suggested to the senior producer that we have a lunch meeting instead. That way, I could save my time by not having to go for lunch after the meeting.

Then, I rushed back to the office for another meeting regarding a book due out, guess what, next month. After the meeting, there were two discussions at the office, after which I rushed back home to change for the weekly badminton session.

I got home about 8.30 p.m., and managed to play with my sons for a few hours before they went to sleep.

By the end of the evening, I was virtually too exhausted to do anything else.

In case anyone is wondering, this is a typical day in my life. And for no reason whatsoever, I just thought I'd like to share this song by The Beatles entitled "A Day in the Life".

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Working papers

It has been quite a while since I last presented any papers at any conference. Today, when I got into the office, I have four invitations to present working papers at conferences, including one international conference. Two of the papers are on Islam and biotechnology, while the other two are on Islam and information and communication technology.

I guess I better start cracking. Better get these papers ready early, otherwise I'd be rushing for time at the last minute.

Monday, February 09, 2009

What holiday?

I spent Monday working as I have a discussion with a biomedical professor at Universiti Putra Malaysia. He just came back from a conference in Hyderabad, and he had actually forgotten that Monday was a public holiday.

When he messaged me about meeting up on Monday, I agreed as I didn't have anything on that day. It was only moments before our scheduled meeting that the professor realised that it was a public holiday, and asked whether I wanted to reschedule. Since he was already in his office and I was already in the vicinity of the university, I said that I didn't have any problems to proceed with the meeting.

In any case, one of my staff found out that I was working on a public holiday. And the immediate response from the staff was, "I'm glad I'm not the boss. At least I have my days off."

I realise that it is somewhat true that the so-called "bosses" work regardless of weekends or public holidays. One of my colleagues who head a project management team, was at the office yesterday (Sunday). The executive chairman meanwhile would be at the office until about 9 or 10 at night.

I don't think that it's workaholism. Rather, it's a sense of responsibility to ensure that the organisation is well that we have to give it our all, public holidays or not.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Revitalised spirit

I am not one who likes to sit down and attend courses. I am the impatient type, especially when the speakers talk gibberish and more so when I detect factual errors in what is presented.

Anyway, earlier today, I decided to attend a workshop organised by Penerbit UTM Press and Utusan Publications and Distributors Sdn Bhd. The workshop was for those who would be interested in joining the science fiction writing competition.

One very good thing that came out of this workshop was that I have managed to regain my writing mood that got lost when my pendrive went missing. Now, I am back to writing regularly again. I hope the momentum will continue.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Nine years on...

Last Monday was the ninth anniversary of my marriage. My wife and I are now blessed with two boys.

I have a lot to be thankful for. And one that I will never forget to be grateful for is the wonderful family that I have.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Changing lifestyle

Subconsciously and consciously, I have been making an effort to live a healthier lifestyle.

These days, I have been taking packed breakfast from home consisting of sandwiches. I rarely take my breakfast outside anymore.

I have taken up badminton again after a 15-year break. We have a weekly badminton session for the staff. I am pleasantly surprised that I still have the stamina to play this game.

I have also increased the fibre intake in my meals, and taking olive oil as a supplement.

Hopefully, these efforts will help me libe a healthier life, insya-Allah. It's quite a challenge to remain disciplined in observing these changes, but what is a little sacrifice for a better and healthier future?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I'll have tea and wifi please

Office broadband is offline.

Mobile broadband is too slow.


Go to a bistro or a coffee shop for free wifi.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

It could be worse

Imagine sitting in front of the computer. Imagine you were sending a very important e-mail. Imagine that your e-mail needed to be sent urgently.

Now imagine, just as you were about to push the "send" button, the Internet connection went off.

I guess that's the story of my life lately. Things go wrong at the wrong time. It's part of life's many challenges. And I keep telling myself, it could be worse.

The whole office had an Internet disruption this afternoon. One of my staff checked with the Internet provider and we were told that there is indeed a problem with the connection. And the problem is in Merbok in Kedah. And somehow, in this small borderless world, Kuala Lumpur is also affected.

Oh, well. As some might say, "Sabar aje lah..."

Monday, February 02, 2009

Finding that which is lost

While my data may be gone forever, another aspect of me that is equally missing is my writing mood. I have yet to find my writing mood since that incident.

My priority at the moment is to recover whatever I can especially data that are work-related. Frankly, I am not sure whether I can get myself back to writing in the near future. Academic writing, perhaps... since it's part of my job.

But I am not too certain about creative writing. My mind is not ready just yet. It is tiring just thinking about it.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Soldiering on

Looks like the first month of 2009 has come and gone. Time sure flies when you are occupied. I am not sure how I will cope with my workload this year. In spite of challenges (anticipated or otherwise), I will try to soldier on and give it my best.

I can only pray that I be given the strength and good health to do so.