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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Voice imperfect

I have nearly lost my voice.

I'll be giving a lecture on Islam and organ donation tomorrow at the UKM Medical Centre. The following day, I'll be presenting a paper on using science and technology for daawah at a seminar organised at Universiti Malaya.

While my fever has receded, my body has yet to fully recover. I hope my voice won't cause too much problems when I talk in the next couple of days.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New maid

My maid from Indonesia finally arrived on Monday. I hope this new one will work out well for us. It's not an easy task getting the most suitable maid for the family.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Have passport will travel

I don't travel much. I don't like travelling really. Most of my travels are work or study-related.

My first passport was made when I was 11. At that time, I was living in Johor Bahru and the school had organised a study trip to Singapore. So, I made my first passport in order to enter the Lion City.

My second passport was made when I was 17. This time around, I needed the passport since I was leaving for the UK to further my studies.

My third passport was made in 2003. I needed the passport because I was involved in meetings and conferences in Indonesia, Egypt and Algeria.

On Tuesday, my boss told me (before sending me home) that I should be prepared for a couple of overseas trips in April and May. I just said "okay" without thinking much about it. After all, it is part of my work. Then when I got home, I noticed that my passport is no longer valid. Looks like I have to make a trip to the Immigration Department very soon to get my passport renewed.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sent home

For the first time in my working life, I was asked to go home by the boss yesterday afternoon.

He wanted me to get a good rest so that my fever would recover. I did as he instructed and went home. But my body temperature was fluctuating up and down that I didn't get to sleep until 2 a.m. Even then, I didn't sleep soundly.

And by 5.30 a.m., I was already up and getting ready for work.

I wonder if I'll be sent home again today?

Feverish panellist

I was a panellist for the recording of "Forum Bicara Addeen" at the Centre for Civilisational Dialogue, University Malaya. The topic discussed was "Berdakwah dengan Sains dan Teknologi". My ex-colleague, Encik Abu Bakar Yang, was my co-panellist, while Ustaz Mahathir Shaharuddin moderated the forum. The forum will be aired on Radio IKIMfm on Saturday, 21st March at 9.00 p.m.

I wasn't too well during the recording yesterday. My body temperature was quite high. Nonetheless, I gave it my best and hopefully the recording comes out good.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Territorial workers

There are those who think that they are extremely clever that no one else knows how to do their job. These are people who think that they are indispensable.

Truth of the matter is, no one in any organisation is irreplaceable. One might think that one is good at his/her job, but there is someone else out there who can do the job better. You would see that these very same people have difficulties in delegating tasks to their subordinates, for fear that their subordinates would not be able to deliver. These type of workers are very territorial, guarding their work territories with the same ferocity of a lioness.

I don't have any problems with territorial workers who think they are irreplaceable, for as long as they can deliver and prove that they can actually do the work. Some of these territorial workers are really good in delivering what is required of them.

I do, however, have issues with workers who think they cannot be replaced, but could not even complete a simple task. Imagine having given a menial task many many moons ago, and yet until today the task has yet to be completed. When asked, the reply that you get is, "I forgot" or "I'm busy". When suggested that the task be delegated (since it's not a task that required a genius like Einstein to complete), it never got done. The irony is, for a "busy" person who guards her territory and thinks that she's irreplaceable, she has time to read magazines while other people are busy working. If you ask me, it's procrastination to the nth degree.

I do applaud workers who go beyond their call of duty, willing to contribute for the benefit of the organisation, and put the organisation before themselves. This category of workers is difficult to find, but once an organisation has them, then they are always considered valuable assets that should be emulated by all.

P.S. I am still feverish, hence my touchiness. At least, I got this out of my system.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pain in the head

I have been having high fever since yesterday evening. Part of my head is throbbing. I guess that's my body protesting for some rest.

In spite of the pain, I managed to get quite a few things done today. Having said that, I do feel somewhat exhausted.

Unlike previous weekdays, I'm planning to go home early to rest. Hopefully, by the time of tomorrow's forum, my fever and migrain will recede.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

No time to rest

The next couple of weeks will be busy. I have a lot of speaking engagements and a few books to take care of. At least, the academic semester is coming to an end, hence I'll be wrapping up my class in the next few weeks.

No time to rest.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Akhir Sa'ah

When I was in the city of Kaherah in Egypt a few years ago, the students there brought me to a fast food outlet called "Akhir Sa'ah". I was informed that the meaning is "last minute" implying that the outlet could cater for food ordered at the last minute.

However, that's not what I would like to blog on today. One of the things that I find annoying is last minute tasks. I was about to leave the office at about 7 p.m. yesterday when I was asked to do something. The problem was the person who knows how to prepare the material is down with chickenpox. There is no way I could get him to the office in his condition.

I was fortunate that a couple of weeks ago, I actually sat down with the person to come out with the draft of the required material. It didn't dawn on me at that time that I would be using the draft under this circumstances. I am glad I actually got it done when in actuality, there was no directive or need for me to have it done at that point in time.

In any case, the proactive act paid divident today. I was told that the draft material "saved the day".

Lesson learnt today: Work well in advance.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Faster than the brain

I am sure that all of us know of people who speak without thinking. Or rather, people who speak faster than their ability to think. These people would often spew out words without actually thinking about what their words will cause. That is why, it is often best if "we think before we speak".

People whose mouths are faster than their brains, more often than not, cause problems to others. One word of advice, if you can, stay away from these people.

And for those who speak faster than their ability to think, jangan menyusahkan orang lain (don't cause problems to others).

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


If a picture is worth a thousand words, then my blog entry today (aside from this sentence and the title above) will be represented by the following picture:

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Prophet

Today is the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. There is nothing more valuable to a Muslim than the faith in the One and Almighty Allah. And if not for the dedication of the Prophet, we would not know the teaching of Islam.

On this special day, let us learn from the Prophet. Let us emulate his noble character. Let us strive to be better Muslims. And let us not forget the sacrifices of this special man.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


I have a number of talking engagements (which require a lot of reading and thinking) lined up which will keep me busy for the next couple of months or so.

On 10th March, I'll be giving a motivational talk at MRSM Batu Pahat to some 500 students there in conjunction with the college's seventh anniversary.

On 17th March, I'll be one of the panel members in a forum recorded for Radio IKIM's Forum Bicara Addeen. The recording will be at the Centre for Civilisational Dialogue, Universiti Malaya. The discussion revolves around utilising science and technology for daawah in conjunction with Bulan Dakwah Kebangsaan. The programme will be aired on 21st March at 9.00 p.m. over at Radio IKIM.

On 25th March, I'll be talking on organ donation from the Islamic perspective in conjunction with World Kidney Day at Pusat Perubatan UKM (formerly Hospital UKM) in Cheras.

On 26th March, I'll be presenting a paper entitled "Dakwah Menggunakan Sains dan Teknologi" at Universiti Malaya during a seminar organised in conjunction with Bulan Dakwah Kebangsaan.

On 2nd April, I'll be involved as a panelist in a forum to be organised at Akademi Pengajian Islam, Universiti Malaya. The topic will revolve around current issues of science and technology from the Islamic perspective.

On 27th May, I'll be presenting a paper entitled "Anak-anak dan Perkembangan Terkini Teknologi Maklumat: Panduan Berguna untuk Ibu Bapa" at the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM).

There are a few other engagements which have yet to be finalised. Aside from being kept busy with books, I will also be running around delivering lectures and talks.

This used to be a normal routine for me when I was working at IKIM. When I left in December 2005, things slowed down quite a wee bit. However, with the economic slowdown that we are experiencing, I'll be very much occupied with the things I used to do some years ago. Apparently, the more things change, the more things remain the same.

It looks like I'm back in business, and it's business as usual.

Have a listen

Since I'm having nostalgic trips down memory lane, have a listen to the following bagpipe performance playing "Scotland the Brave".

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Bagpipe tunes

Buchanan Street

For some strange reason, I am getting more and more nostalgic of my Glasgow years lately.

Back then, one of the places that I like to go on weekends was Buchanan Street. Buchanan Street is a pedestrian street, where you walk from one end (that begins at St Enoch Square's underground station) to the other end (that ends at Buchanan Street's underground station). Along the way, there are shops to your left and right.

I liked Buchanan Street for three reasons.

One, it is where my favourite comics outlet - Forbidden Planet - is located. Forbidden Planet was where I used to buy my comics.

Two, it is home to Princes Square, a quaint mall (by Malaysian standards). This is one of the most beautifully-designed shopping complexes that I have ever seen. I took one of my first photos in Glasgow there, and the photo is one of the best that I had from my Glasgow years.

Three, along Buchanan Street there would be buskers performing with bagpipes (though there were other types of performers performing as well; some would play guitars, others would sing). There would be small crowds cheering them on. And I would usually be there to enjoy the free show as well. It was like watching a free concert, I guess.

Truth be told, I enjoy bagpipe music. It has a certain air of mystery to it. Play a bagpipe tune accompanied by drums, and you'll get some of the most amazing tunes. Every now and then, when I hear tunes like "Scotland the Brave", "Skye Boat" or "Amazing Grace", my mind would be transported back to the past. I am a sucker for Celtic tunes.

Have a listen to the following tune, "Flower of Scotland". To my mind, it's a tune that is difficult not to appreciate.

I wonder why, after nearly 13 years since I left Glasgow, I am now feeling overly-nostalgic about the place.


Friday, March 06, 2009

Working holiday

I will be away from tomorrow until Monday. Yayasan Ilmuwan is organising its first family day at the A Famosa Resort in Melaka. While the three days will be used to unwind, I will be bringing along some work that needs to be done by Tuesday.

Working holiday of sorts.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


Alhamdulillah, I am very much relieved now that the two books that I have been working on are now at the printers. The books - Sekilas Pandang Ismail Ibrahim and Ke Arah Umat Hadhari - will be out by the end of the month, insya-Allah. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude in particular to Norhanizah and Rohaizad for assisting me in getting the books done.

I am going to focus my attention on other things for the next few days, before starting on a couple of new book projects next week.

Until then, I will say with utmost cynicism that I will try to get some rest as well.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Wish I had brought some bread to go with the jam

Picture from The Star
How ironic.

While the evening drizzle on Monday brought back wonderful memories of years gone-by, the afternoon rain yesterday was an entirely different story altogether.

I left home for Universiti Malaya at 6.30 p.m. expecting to arrive around 7.15 p.m. I was unaware that the two-hour downpour that ended half an hour before had created havoc in the city. I was trapped in a massive traffic jam and only arrived at the university just before 9 p.m.

It took me nearly two and a half hours to reach my destination. While I thought that I had gone through the worst jam in my life some time back (which coincidentally was a trip to Universiti Malaya as well), this latest experience certainly broke my personal record of being trapped in a bad traffic jam.

As they say, sabar sajalah.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Busy 2009

Time sure flies when you have plenty to do.

It sure felt like yesterday when I bade 2008 good-bye and welcomed 2009. Lo and behold, the first two months of 2009 are now but history.

Plenty of papers to present. Plenty of books to publish. Plenty of events to organise. New staff members to be recruited. New projects to look forward to.

I have been tied down with work these two months, and from the look of things, I've my schedule virtually packed until June of this year.

Now, where do I slot in my holiday?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Autumn drizzle

My alma mater, the University of Glasgow, during autumn.

I am still at the office as I blog this. I just came back from dinner, and it is drizzling.

Somehow, the ambience of the night reminds me of an autumn rainfall in the UK. It certainly felt like walking down a street in Glasgow during one of those nights when I walked back from the mamak shop to the office. And I can't help but remember the half a decade I spent there.

Those were certainly one of the best (and perhaps surreal) times of my life. And they will forever remain special and cherished deep in my heart.

Heavy lips

I notice that in Malaysia, it is difficult for people to say "thank you" to others. It's not so much that we want to be appreciated by being thanked by others, but rather it's part of our manners when we express our appreciation to others.

From my experience in the UK, the people there are more appreciative of others. When they receive help for instance, they would instantaneously quip "thank you". When they are asked if they want something, they would say "yes, please". When they don't want something, the would respond by saying "no, thank you".

Similarly, the Japanese people have manners that would leave people in awe. They bring good manners to a new level altogether. The phrase "domo arigatou gozaimasu" is seldom forgotten. From the first time you get to know a Japanese beginning with the introductory phrase "hajimimashte" to "dozo yoroushiku", you'll find that the Japanese culture is full of respect and appreciation towards others.

Sadly though, I find that Malaysians have heavy lips. The words "thank you" or "terima kasih" are seldom uttered these days.

I am sure many of us have gone through this experience. At the rate that good manners are being eroded these days, I wonder if there will be any left in the future?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Happy birthday, Facebook

I just found out that Facebook has just turned five on 4th February. Its predecessor, Facemash, was set up on 28th February 2003 (about a year before Facebook came into being). I wonder if it's founders ever thought that Facebook would turn out the way it is now.

Whatever it is, I have found Facebook to be extremely useful in tracking down old friends as well as networking with people.

So, if you're not a Facebooker yet, perhaps it's time to jump on board.

More on Facebook here.