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Monday, December 31, 2012

The day the wall came down

Yes, I know. The title may sound a bit dramatic. But I can assure everyone that things are taken very seriously right here in Setiawangsa.

Late Friday evening, around 10 p.m., part of the retaining wall at Bukit Setiawangsa came falling down. I got a call from my uncle asking me about this as his daughter's friend tweeted about this incident. At that point in time, I was at home at Taman Setiawangsa which is further down from where the landslip took place. Upon checking Twitter and Facebook, I found that, yes indeed, the wall had come down. If this happened before the era of the social media, I am sure many would still be in the dark about the incident, and that news would not have spread that fast.

Speaking of being in the dark, I called up a friend living at Puncak Setiawangsa. Apparently the whole area of Puncak Setiawangsa went dark. He told me that the police had asked them to leave their homes and be outside the house. When I told him that there had been a landslip, he was not in the know at that point in time. Some ten minutes later, he called me back, and confirmed that there was a landslip slightly further up from where he lives.

Credit should be given where it is due. The police, fire brigade, local authority and residents all acted promptly and swiftly. No lives were loss, thankfully. But property damage is definitely huge.

As of today, the affected house at the edge of the peak is being demolished. This started earlier today and is still ongoing. Two other houses may be demolished as well. In the meantime, the experts are studying the soil movement in order to rectify the problem.

Those who had to be evacuated are still awaiting news. Those living near the affected area are definitely nervous. News (both factual and sensational) on this matter are everywhere.

In a way, it is good that people take notice of the incident. I am just hoping for several things:

  1. Hopefully, this incident will not result in finger pointing and accusations because this will lead nowehere. Find the cause of the problem and remedy it for the safety of the residents in the area.
  2. For the past two decades, there have been numerous incidents of landslips and landslides around the Hulu Klang area. Some of the incidents involved the loss of lives. Most of the times, people forget about these incidents after a few weeks. I hope that this incident will not be seasonal in nature. We should not talk about it only when it happens, and forget about it after things have quieten down. There are many high risk areas around the Klang Valley. There must be continuous efforts to ensure the safety of these areas.
  3. If there are weaknesses in the system, identify and improve them. I find it rather disturbing that the report made by the affected tenant of the house several days before the actual landslip was not acted upon promptly. Reports such as this should be looked at seriously by the authorities.

As it is now, I am hoping that the situation will improve. Everyone gets the jitters each time it rains here, as this will definitely increase the risk of the soil collapsing further. So far, things seem to stabilise and everyone is praying that it will continue to be so, until the problem is rectified (soon, hopefully).

What a way to end 2012.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sinking ship

This is a fictitious story of an ill-fated ship. 

Before the ship set sail, the captain of the ship succeeded in gathering the best of crew members he could find. They were a skillful and dedicated lot, willing to do more than what is asked of them. The journey was long and perilous, but they all managed to overcome whatever dangers that come their way.

After sailing for three years, they noticed that the ship's supply was beginning to dwindle mysteriously. The first officer who had been with the captain even before the ship began its voyage, was the first to suffer. He had to go without food for days at end, just to ensure that the other crew members had enough to eat. Strangely, the captain did not have that problem. He seemed to have all what he needed, all in the comfort of his lofty cabin.

Some crew members started talking, and the captain did not like it. A few of the crew members were dismissed, and they were left on small remote islands. The rest of the crew members decided not to speak anymore for fear of being marooned on deserted islands.

The suffering of the first officer continued. He was left fending for himself while the captain seemed to be very comfortable. It was around this time that the first officer started to feel suspicious. It was also around this time that he noticed that the ship was sinking.

He alerted the crew members who did what they can to contain the leaks. But the holes became bigger and bigger, while the captain seemed to be comfortable in his cabin, as if oblivious to the problems. Whenever told of the problem, he would always say, "I am busy thinking of the solution." Yet, the solution never came. He went on living in his own world, so to speak, comfortably pampered in his luxurious cabin.

The first officer, who had been left fending for himself without food, decided that enough was enough. He took it upon himself to leave the sinking ship. One night, he took a small boat and sailed away. He was rescued by a huge sailboat.

The first officer did not forget the fate of the crew of the ship that he left. He tried to bring them on board to the new ship whenever there was an opportunity. Other crew members also started to leave one by one. The captain did not seem to care. The only thing that he said was, "Everyone is a grown up. You are old enough to decide what is best." His words were cold as if he did not care what was happening to the ship or the crew.

At the end of the day, no crew members were left on the ship. The only one left was the captain - still feeling comfortable in his luxury cabin.

And when the ship finally sank, the captain was left on his own to sink with ill-fated ship.

And no one missed him.

Not one bit.

This is a fictitious story of an ill-fated ship. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Put your wealth not in your heart

Several years ago, someone I know said to me, rather proudly, "I once had a million ringgit." At that point in time when he said those words, he no longer had such amount of money. On the contrary, he was borrowing money from people just to keep up with his rather lavish lifestyle.

When a mutual friend passed away, he asked me for RM1,000 on the pretext of borrowing it to help out the family of the mutual friend. At that time, I was also in some difficult times, but I helped out because I felt the need to help the deceased friend's family. I just smiled when the friend who asked for the "loan" gave the money to the widow as if the donation came from him personally. Never mind, I said to myself. The person who provided the money to the person who handed the donation would surely be bestowed with even greater rewards from Allah SWT. Even to this day, I hold firmly to this belief.

This debt was never recovered. My conscience is clear. Even if this particular loan was not repaid, I regard it as my own donation to the deceased friend's family. True enough, five years on, the qard al-hasan remained unpaid. Instead, the debt grew. Promises were made, only to be broken. I could list down all the empty promises made, but I won't. Suffice to say that with more promises made, the level of trust eroded slowly but surely.

What saddens me is that he does not even show a sense of guilt. He goes on living lavishly on, what some people may argue, other people's money which is due to them. People talk, and people will continue to talk. And this friend goes on living as if people are oblivious.

He also once told me that people will look up to others because of two things, i.e. the car you drive and the shoes you wear. Both these things, according to his materialistic philosophy, will open up gates and doors to important people and opportunities.

Frankly, I could not care less about what car a person drives or what brand of shoes one is wearing. The car I drive is based on the needs of my family. I don't buy cars because of their brand names. Why drive a Mercedes when I cannot afford it and if it does not serve my purpose? If you can afford luxury cars and shoes, by all means, go ahead. If, on the other hand, you are like me, a pair of Bata shoes costing RM50 will last me for up to two years. If you don't believe me, just take a gander at my shoes the next time you see me.

One of the things I hate in life is owing people something. If I have debts with other people, I will have difficulties sleeping. When the debts are repaid, I find myself at peace. That is why I will do my very best to avoid borrowing money from people. Even when the need arises, I will make it a point to settle it as soon as possible.

I do not want people who help me during my times of need having to ask for what is rightfully theirs. Worse still, I do not want people to feel like beggars when they ask about their repayment. Unfortunately, this is how I feel each time I inquired about the money that is owed to me. The creditor should not be made to feel like a beggar. It is the debtor who should feel guilty for not paying up.

I know this is very much a personal jotting. But please allow me to use this blog as an avenue for me to put this down. It is not my intention to put anyone down. I just feel that there is great injustice in the way some people act.

Even if one has a mountain full of money, the money will certainly run out if one is lavish. If one borrows money just to cover his lavish lifestyle, at the end of the day, one will have debts the size of a mountain instead. No doubt, money is important. But if one puts money as one's priority, one will end up getting addicted to it.

I like what I read somewhere that gives the advice: "Put your wealth in your hands and not in your heart." In other words, you should control your wealth, and not let your wealth control you.

After much thought, I figured that this friend must have put his wealth in his heart, otherwise he would not only still have his million, but also would have doubled or tripled his million. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

New novel "Detik" is out

After a long break from creative publication, my third novel is finally out. Technically, I finished writing this novel late last year. The manuscript was submitted for a science fiction writing competition. When the result was announced last Thursday, my novel clinched third place.

I am most grateful for this interesting experience. I have never written a novel for a competition before, so being able to clinch a place is a bonus. In many ways, this achievement has pumped up my spirit to continue writing creatively.

The novel is now in major bookstores in the country. It is called Detik, a story that I can only describe as debating the ethics of time travelling.

Get a copy, and enjoy the reading journey.