Malaysia's Mosquito

We cannot stop mosquitoes lay eggs at any stagnant water in drains/ponds or water collected in waste pails, tanks, tins, used tyres etc. etc. Of course if you have fish inside the tanks/containers then there should be no problem.

Do you know that there is a very simple and very economical way to destroy the mosquitoes' eggs and not let them hatch into larvae.
 Malaysia's 1 Cent Coin

Very very simple, just put in a few 1 cent copper coins into the tanks/containers then it will solve all your problems. Because in accordance to Japanese Research Scientists, they found the mosquitoes eggs will be destroyed by a kind of mineral discharge from the copper.

DON'T BELIEVE it, Try it by yourself and even the small snails also will not visit the containers (with copper coins) collected with stagnant water. You will observe the water collected in the containers will be very clean and clear.

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By: Michelle Chan Yew Wan

My last visit to Japan was in October 2009 after 4 years absent. Obviously, I do not expect many changes since land and spaces in Tokyo are already fully occupied and well utilized. But to my surprise, they do change despite the congestion. New shops in old places. New design in old styles. New look in old area. New technologies in old goods.

Japanese had become taller where they were branded as shorties in the olden days. Their legs had become slimmer compare to ancient time where it was bended or crooked due to their ‘seiza’ (Japanese style sitting). Because of that their legs were often called as ‘daikon’ for it looks like a radish. They do not talk to strangers anymore. Or had they become ignorant??

Image of Japan to me was a 'smoke country' until my recent visit which changed it. About 90% of Japanese are smokers regardless of men or women, young or old. They have a cigarette between their fingers even while on the street walking, at commuter stands, stations, in every restaurant and at this corner or that corner. Cigarette butts are threw everywhere on the streets. Now the ‘smoke country’ image had disappeared!! I don’t see anybody smoking on the street anymore. No more cigarette butts on the ground. Lots of restaurants prohibit smoking now. NO SMOKING sign has become a common post. I was puzzled, had they given up smoking? Or had their government kept them under control just like Singapore? Neither.

Aaaahhh…….. then something caught my eyes. On the middle of the pedestrian walkway, I saw white lines drawn in a square of about 3 meter by 3 meter on the ground. Some places had chain around it. Some places had potted plants as the partitions. In the middle of the square ‘box’ a BIG public astray was placed there. Aaahhh…. so, that is the designated smoking area in the public!! During lunch time, desperate smokers will flock or even squeeze themselves in the open 'square box' puffing away to their hearts content!! Wait in line if the square is too full. Beware not to even have one of your foot out of the line while you are smoking unless you are ready to be penalizes!

Next, what's new?? Something I would never thought of Japan not having!! GARBAGE BINS!! Surprise, there aren’t any garbage bins at all in the public area such as shopping complexes, on the streets, at stations, in restrooms and not even at the airport!! What happen and why??
 Garbage Sign

I find it very inconvenient. There is nowhere to throw an empty drink can or even a piece of tissue paper. I noticed signs at all parks, public area and even tourist spots that stated clearly: "BRING YOUR OWN GARBAGE HOME!" What??? So, everybody is taking their own garbage home.

Slip your hand into a man’s pocket and you’ll find it’s full of candy wrappers, receipts, chewing gum wrappers, even cigarette butts, all kinds of garbage!! No wonder the latest design of a ladies handbags are becoming bigger and larger. To carry your own garbage in it!! So, in Japan, everyone is a garbage collector.

I was in a restaurant for my dinner and was about to leave the place after settling my bill, when the manager called out to me that I'd left my 'own' used tissue paper on their dinning table and I am supposed to take it home with me !! Isn't it strange? When I met my friend, I asked "why is there no more garbage bin in Japan now?" "Isn’t it very inconvenient?" My friend answered: "About 2 years ago, terrorist placed a grenade in a garbage bin. So, from that time onwards NO garbage bin is allowed in any public area in Japan !" Huh….. the work of 1 person had the whole country suffer……
 Girl Garbage Bag

YES, I got myself the biggest handbag I saw in Tokyo ! I too am a garbage collector.


(skip this if your faith forbids reading it)

4 april, 2010: Back in hometown Bentong for All Souls’ Day or Qing Ming in Chinese common pronunciation - pudong hua.

By seven the missus, Min and Barry started to stir and soon they were up getting ready to go to the Liang Guang cemetery. There was a tussle as to take which car. Finally Min drove her new Proton Saga. As soon as we reached the entrance to the area in Chamang there was a heavy gridlock. Min parked the car by the roadside and we all began to walk up the much-crowded cemetery.

The missus pointed a direction and we all ascended the slope weaving along the narrow passageways among the graves. Everywhere there were gathered little groups or rather families of people paying homage to their dead. They laid out items of food in front of the graves of their departed ones as offerings. They burned red candles, joss papers and all sorts of replicas of things such as cars, video recorders, hand phones, computers, clothing, air tickets, hell money - you name it they have it - all made of paper.

These paraphernalia were to be consigned by fire over to the dead for their use and enjoyment. The whole cemetery of a few thousand acres was enveloped in smoke. Besides the black and white wisps of smoke, there was the ear-splitting non-stop din of firecrackers. Selling and firing of firecrackers was banned. But somehow, by some means so many people managed to get hold of bundles of these merriment creator crackers. They let off them continuously in the cemetery so much so sometimes we found difficulty to communicate among us. Our voices were drowned by their continuous bang, bang, bang like there was no end!

The crooked way we took up the slope was not that painstaking though breath-challenging. Finally I saw the tree that marked my family ancestors’ graves. When I reached there, I was still not short of breath, but one of my brothers was. He had retired from his rubber tapping job, and now enjoying his golden years. Pity, otherwise he could have raked in at least three to four hundreds dollars a day tapping rubber trees! After downing his tools, he had grown sideways. So as soon as he reached the graveyards of our ancestors, he was gasping and panting.

When I reached, my cousin and his family had packed up, after all the doings and goings-on of paying homage to the deceased had been done. My brothers' families gradually trickled in. All in all there were my brother Chee Siong and his only son and elder daughter. Another brother and his spouse and their son Ah Sun were around. Candles and joss-sticks were lit and foods were laid out for the feasts of the hungry ghosts. Somebody said it was the New Year over the other side. How appropriate and right, for there was a festive air throughout the cemetery. Family members gathered and friends met.

Somebody greeted me on my descent from the hills. He was my student in primary school back in the 1950s. He admitted that he was the naughtiest and most disobedient in class. Yes, he was. But now he still recognized and addressed me 'sir'. He has a family now and they all are doing well.

Then at the entrance building of the cemetery I met Yap Kim Hee. From him I also come to know that Yap Kim Loy was back from Singapore! Pity he didn't call. We had a short talk and soon we were off.

My daughter drove the car over and we climbed the hills to make the descent to another part of the cemetery. The rest had walked over there and was paying homage to Chee Siong's deceased spouse, who had succumbed to cancer a few years ago. After the necessary ceremonies, we were back at home waiting for the next big occasion - the festive lunch for after feeding all our departed ones it was our turn.

The feast was at my brother Chee Siong's residence. It was a two-table gathering. The ghosts had been fed, but we were still hungry. Everybody tucked in for the food was good. No wonder people said if you wanted people to relish the food starve them first. My brother Chee Siong got all the accolades as the chef! What a wonderful Ching Ming festival! We have really celebrated what more those long lost souls - the ghosts.

(Excuse me if I have enticed you to read the above story. My apologies. Just trash it aside if your beliefs, customs and culture are otherwise.)


Ted Miles had returned from the US, to be with us. He was obsessed with the idea of setting up a hostel for the out-of-town boys. After some house hunting he settled with the hostel project by renting the late Wong Yoon Chong's bungalow. That pre-war edifice stood facing the road strategically positioned indeed. During the Japanese occupation, it was used by the Japanese soldiers. It was rumoured that they had tortured local anti-Japanese elements and executed some of them there. Thus, there was spread the tales that the bungalow was haunted, eerie plus scary.

Bahari was not only the youngest boy but he was also a naïve 13 year-old kampung lad who was not used to sitting at dining table with Mat Salleh (local slang for white man). Well in the village dining was done sitting on a mat spread on the floor. The first time in the company of Mr. Ted Miles he felt rather uncomfortable as Mr. Miles hawk-stared at him. Mr. Brian came to his rescue by requesting Mr. Miles not to frighten Bahari by his sharp piercing gaze.

Bahari moved in and stayed in the hostel started by Mr. Miles. So far Bahari behaved well and had no ghost pranks schemed. But something happened. Something befell his family. That fateful February Bahari received a letter from home that was doomed. Their family house was burnt down in a conflagration! His father could not stump out the sum to pay his school fees what more of the hostel charges. But he was lucky, that the master waived all these temporarily. That was a great relief to the then homeless family.

Bahari's father was a headmaster of a primary school. Being a son of a school head had some social status too. Once, Bahari was scheduled to clean the bucket latrine in the hostel. With forty students' pooh all collected in a bucket, you know how the wisps of fragrance would be! But the duty roster said on that particular day it was his duty. With him was also fixed the son of a royalty. The royal issue refused, so did Bahari. "Why should I, when royalty could refuse. If a royalty has a social status so do I, being the son of a headmaster," he argued.

The royalty did not budge; the head teacher's son gave in not an inch. So, they did not clean the latrine. There was a complaint. Finally, the master told them off saying: "forget your status, and do the job." With that he quashed the standoff. The rule was: duty was duty; there was no exemption for those in the high up social hierarchy! Both did the obnoxious job most obediently!!

Bahari stayed in the hostel for five long years. Few boys lived there that long as he could remember save Ponniah, Rajagopal, Aziz and Ah Soi, Leong. So Bahari had seen much and observed a lot of the demeanours of the cheeky lot - the hostel boys.

Hostel lives taught the boys of other culture and habits. Bahari noticed at the beginning, the Chinese boys were afraid to touch water in the early morning what more of taking a cold bath. Malays always bathe in the morning no matter how chilly the water is. That was a kind of ablution a pre-requisite for morning prayers. Gradually, Bahari observed that the Chinese boys also followed suit bathing in the icy water in the chilly morning. They picked up a healthy habit, that is!

Bahari also saw everybody did the daily housekeeping chores. They had to tidy up their beddings. Each person had to keep his things in an allotted compartment in some cupboards. And in the cupboards each kept his secrets. Oh yes some boys even kept their cigarettes! Others kept the booty of their raids - I mean those little kleptomaniacs.

"So the master and company also carried out corrective raids called spot checks," Bahari said. What they found in the little compartments were big items like pants and panties belonging not to the owner but were others properties. Others were little items that had long been lost and now found. All and sundries were returned to their rightful owners. The un-rightful owners had a lot of explanation to do to rid the blame and clear their names. Otherwise, they would receive the inevitable - the cane. (What that feared tropical vine, had returned as the weapon for Ted Miles! What a surprise!!)

What secrets they had they kept, as secrets are absolutely personal - not to be revealed. But cigarettes were dug out and ostentatiously consumed. How? No, there was no free for all. Some were openly smoked in front of the boss who enforced the "NO SMOKING" law. Bahari recalled someone who had not tasted a fag, now Mr. Miles lighted him a cigarette. He puffed, choked and coughed as he smoked. He wanted to snuff out the fag. But no, he was not to waste the cigarette. Mr. Miles asked him to finish the whole stick of cigarette. They enjoyed watching the smoker smoked, coughed and choked until there was only the stub left! After that the smoker swore that he would never touch another fag again!

Once, some boys' beddings were infested with bugs. The whole lot of beddings in the building were sunned. The most bug-ridden items were burnt.

Bahari also remembered when the hostel ran out of water. Those days, Bentong used to have water rationing. The taps would run dry for many hours of the day. On the tap running hours, they collected as much water as they could in the tank and other receptacles. But with 40 people in the hostel water usually ran out. Then they walked to the stream behind the school and took a dip in the icy cold water before dawn.

50 YEARS AGO MAY, 1960

The principal went on a witch hunt for truants. From classes a juvenile stayed away for days feigning illness. The master thumbed a lift from a friend and called at the delinquent's house, but he was out! The next day when he appeared in school he voluntarily asked for some medicines and swallowed the bitter pills to bury his guilt, though he was not actually ill.

Names mentioned in his diary: Abu Amin, Say Kuang, Nadzry, Tengku Rahmin, Tengku Ibrahim, Samah, Ragwans Kaur, Iyasamy, Ng Teik Poy, Ponniah, Fook Cheng, Jane Chwee, Krushchev, Eisenhower, Annuar, Sunny, Murad, Tengku Jalil, How Seng.

The students did a charity by organising canteen days to raise funds for a blind lady to further her studies.


I've lost track of the number of times I've seen "Gone with the Wind" since the first time I was thrilled by that American Civil War spectacle in i940 when I was thirteen. The film lasted so long - four hours- - hat there had to be an intermission, something unheard of in cinema up to that time. When I saw it at the Cathay in Singapore in 1955, I noted in my diary that it was the sixth time for me, so "twenty-four hours of my life have gone with the wind."

 Gone With The Wind
By 1962, when I saw it again at the Lyceum here in Bentong, Malayan censors had been busy with their scissors. That memorable scene where Rhett Butler asks Mammy to lift her skirts so he can see her new red petticoat was actually cut! Surprisingly his famous line, "Frankly, my dear, l don''t give a damn" passed the censors in spite of that four-letter swear word having caused quite a stir all around the world at the time the film was released.

Now the reason I'm going on and on about this film is that someone I know who is not particularly well-versed in history saw it for the first time recently and thought it was about the First World War! Don't laugh.

Not long ago I was interviewed for a History Channel documentary about The Emergency, a period that certainly cannot be considered "ancient history;" - but the questions put to me showed how little the Malaysian interviewer knew about the tumultuous events that occurred in this country as recently as the 1950s and 60s.

That's not surprising, really. When I arrived in Bentong in early 1953, Joseph Stalin was on his deathbed and the Korean War was winding down, but I'll bet anything that in your History classes you were studying the Norman Conquest of England, the Battle of Waterloo, and possibly even the American War of Independence. And all the while, history was being made right here under our noses. If kids in school today are being fed facts and figures from Peloponnesia to Parameswara, but not learning about The Emergency, then it's up to us grandfathers and grandmothers to brush off the cobwebs of our memories and thrill our grandchildren with stories about our first-hand experiences before they're all gone with the wind.

- Ted Miles

Birthday Cake - Green

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 Book and Quill
Written and edited by Chan Suy Sang

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