By Chan Suy Sang in collaboration with Lee Kim Thai

It came to past, there was a sweet young thing from Repas. After finishing her schooling, this local lass went back to teach in her alum mater - MES. She wanted to use her former school as a stepping-stone to a career in pedagogy.

As her fate would have it, she was swept off her feet by the changes that were sweeping through the country. Many people living in the 1940's to 1760's had gone through many traumatic and dramatic changes. They might start off learning Malay, Chinese or Tamil. Then the official language became Japanese. So they mugged up Japanese. When they could make do with some Japanese syllables like ome kayo, arigato, Nippon kou, kakgu, etc, they had to switch over to English, after the Japanese defeat!!

Then when they have mastered English the country switched over to a national language - the Malay language of course. So many of our studies were actually veered off course! We had studied and we had learned but with what we were proficient in we found we could not earn!! Many of us were in this predicament!!!!!!!!!!

If we did not adjust or adapt to the changes we could become misfits and frustrated. Kim Thai was qualified yet not satisfied in one way to take up teaching.

 Lake Bera, Pahang, Malaysia However, for Kim Thai jobs were beckoning. There was the timber boom and she found a lucrative position in a timber logging office in Mentakab. With that job she had to travel to timber camps in Rompin, Lake Chini and Lake Bera. Timber tycoons were her bosses, lumberjacks her friends and wild animals were her companions. So she was not lonely there as she went. Wonder if she had sighted the Lake Chini monster then!

As more trees tumbled and succumbed under the onslaught of bulldozers, cranes and chainsaws, there was the logs over-production. The timber industry slumped. So the timber bubble burst and Kim Thaiís career in the company went bust.

Hurriedly, she packed her few belongings and ran off to the city. Where? She sauntered to the Lion City, down under of course. There she took up a prestigious secretarial course. After much efforts and burning a lot of midnight oil she got her reward - a secretary certificate award.

Came 1969, happenings in Malaysia sent many scurrying out of the country. Many of the exoduses went down under to Australia. There was built up a pool of most eligible bachelors of Asian and particularly Malaysian descent. Kim Thai too went down under to look for a better life and enlisted Cupid to be her helper. However, with so many match to be matched the deity was too busy and missed our lady. Going there was in one person, she had to return in one person too, fortunately still in one piece. She decided nothing was better than home in Malaysia. Heard of such names like Darwin and Alice Spring? There she picked coconuts to eke out a living. She earned her air fare back to Malaysia.

Back to Kuala Lumpur she landed herself in various jobs like tourist guide, association secretary, property agent etc.

There were vacancies ready in a newly founded chemical company. She just hopped into the company as she knew someone there and that someone knew our mentor. Connections you see! It seemed such a small world to her! But she had a big job there and remained serving the company for more than a decade. During her tenure in the company, she took up various jobs like logistic assistant, marketing, administration, and as accountant.

During the twelve years working in the company she met many companies. One matched her chemistry and they were married. She built up her little modest family with Tony. The union produced an issue. To jingle with her name Kim Thai had named him Kim.

For a few months Kim Thai babysat and self-fed the junior Kim. She adored him; she kneaded him. But baby sitting was not Kim Thai's line. So she searched and searched for a job that would give her more challenges in life. She left the caring of the baby to a trustworthy nanny.

Next, read what Kim Thai did next

By Chan Suy Sang

When the train reached the Labu station, as was reminded by Mahalingam the night before, I made a hand phone call. He had promised to pick me up from the train station. About 15 minutes later, the train pulled into the Seremban station. On coming out of the station, Mahalingam came and whisked off to a coffee shop. There we had a simple Malaysian Indian breakfast of tea and churned out crispy bread.

 Yen Herbs Mahalingam drove me out and we hit the Port Dickson highway but instead of going in the direction of Port Dickson, we made a detour into the road to Linggi. Our destination was Kuala Sawah a shantytown about 10 km away. Soon we arrived and I directed Mahalingam to turn into a lane leading to a palm oil plantation. There we met our cyber fan Yen.

As soon as we alighted from the car, Yen's best friends gave us a roaring welcome. The dogs barked and barked non-stop. One was in chain and we presumed that he had the habit of sinking his fangs into anybody who dared to near him. He growled and howled aloud, while he bared his teeth to show that he was real aggressive.

We were fascinated by the different types of herbs cultivated by our friend Yen. He rattled off names of many herbs, which sounded Greek to me, but I knew that most scientific names were in Latin! He named the uses of many plants as medicines, but I was impressed by their scents.

Mahalingam was so pleased to be exposed to so many herbs for many cures as he knew some of them as being common plants in Indian family gardens. We engaged in small talks while the clock tick-tocked. It was two o'clock when Yen suggested that we leave for Mantin. There, he wanted to meet his friend.

Backed to Seremban Mahalingam's little Kancil was abandoned. The three of us went in Yen's Mercedes which actually was a vintage jalopy.

At Mantin we meet three others: a Joseph Chang, Jake and a lady. We had a wonderful happy hour of chatting and tucking in at a Chinese restaurant. After lunch, Yen drove us to a farm of his friend Joseph Chang. The place was undulating flat land with meadows neatly mowed. Fruit trees of various species were growing there. It was there I first set eye on a breadfruit tree as Mahalingam pointed out to me. I too saw an avocado tree.

The 10-acre orchard had two living quarters fit for a comfortable stay-in if you would bring your camping beddings. You can also do cooking. The boss Joseph Chang was a very amiable man. He seemed to welcome friends to stay there for a good rest away from the hustle and bustle of the city. He himself is from Kuala Lumpur.

Since we had been well-fed, lassitude set in. We found a raised platform sort of veranda in the second building seemingly the boss dwelling. He pulled out some wicker-basket chairs and all of us slumped our bums on the comfortable seat. I thought some of us were going to doze off but to my amazement all were wide-awake and joined in a lively conversation on many topics from fairy tales, to philosophy of which Chang was quite conversant, to spirituality and even to happenings of the other-worldly.

Talking of seeing beings of the otherworldly, one of us told a real self-experienced story. One late afternoon he and his cousin sister were looking after some cows grazing in a meadow. They had forgotten to bring a bottle of water to quench their thirst when they felt thirsty. He sent his cousin sister away to fetch a bottle of water from home, which was not far away. The girl went off as told.

But in an instance, our narrator saw her came back, passed him by and went farther off. Suddenly, he saw the bush parted like Moses parting the Red Sea. The girl went through the bush, veered off course and disappeared among the shrubs. Our storyteller was puzzled why his cousin sister went past him and ignored him though he called her.

Some time passed and on turning round, he saw his cousin sister walking towards him. He asked her why she walked to the bush earlier and disappeared. She denied. Our narrator then kept quiet but a chill went down his spine. When he went home, he had high fever and fell sick for the next few days.

With such exciting stories, all were listening and full of energy. We delved into other topics and our host Joseph was a good conversationalist. He touched into great men of spirituality like Confucius, Lao Tze, Jesus, Krishna and other renowned prophets in history. He seemed to have an open mind and wishes to see a good world, good people and good lives.

I got a lift from Joseph back to Kuala Lumpur. All the way, he was talking of a scheme. He bragged about his idealist dream of turning his 10 acres orchard into a meeting place for good people to talk and to converse and may be give discourses on forming a good society. He has named his orchard: Sanctuary of New Knowledge. Hey! That's real new!


At the beginning of the year, there was recorded a lot of new students and a horde of new hostel boys. The number of hostel lodgers skyrocketed to more than 50. so as far as enrolment in the school ws concern, it was a bumper year.

There were mentioned some very historical tenets of past year living. Then, cooking was done with firewood and the hostel bought lorries of firewood.

There was reported the election of student council members which we never heard of in any of the government or government aided schools those days. Students in the school also actively participated in the various activities to promote the National language - the Malay language.

Names mentioned in Ted Miles diary were: Virasamy, Vesian, Tengku Jamaluddin, Amran, Zamri, Mohd Noor Ta'ayun, Abdul Latif, Ow Wai King, Alamshah, Jamaluddin, Brian, Kenneth de Alwis, Kwai Weng, Kim Hee, Abdul Rahim, Tengku Ibrahim, Vanasadchy, Shafie, Hay Yin, Janan, Tengku Jamaluddin, Foi Lan, Kim Foong, Nyit Chin, Eng Choo, Ponniah, Othman bin Haji Mat Nor and Sunny. Whither are these ladies and buddies?

 Smiley Love

"You must have noticed a lot of changes." That's often the opening sentence of the conversation when some new visitors finds out I've lived in Bentong since 1953. "One or two," I joke.

Over time, changes in a town - any town - are inevitable, of course, and I suppose the important thing is whether they are changes for the better or changes for the worse.

It's only natural for a Town Council to want to be remembered for some renovation project or an addition of some sort to the beauty of the town. I've lost count of the number of times attempts have been made to beautify the streets with potted plants - worthy endeavours until keeping the plants watered and trimmed became more than the authorities had bargained for and the unsightly pots with dead or dying plants had to be removed.

Once, I remember, no expense was spared for ornamental lights that were perhaps a bit too ornamental for the plain architectural designs of shop houses on Loke Yew Street, Ah Peng Street, and Chui Yin Street. Even requiring shop owners to paint the front of their premises with blues, yellows, and greens didn't glamourize the shops enough to make them go with the fancy street lights.

I've recoiled in horror when stately old trees have been mercilessly sacrificed for tacky plastic replacements. Thankfully, the plastic monstrosities have never lasted long. (Even Town Council members come to their senses, given enough time.)

Yes, I've noticed some changes in Bentong during the last fifty-seven years. It goes without saying that there are a lot of new buildings that have been erected over the years, but most of them are on the outskirts, and the three downtown streets look very much as they did on that day in 1953 when I settled in at No. 61 Ah Peng Street to begin my lifelong love affair with the town.

- Ted Miles. -


When our mentor said there were just 'one or two' changes in Bentong since his more-than-sixty years stay in the town, he was really joking.

There are many changes in fact. In place of the old dirt, greasy splattered bus station opposite the post office, now houses banks and shops. Just behind where the Garden cafť was, is now the biggest and busiest supermarket called Tong Fatt value-mart. The South Union bus station had been eaten up by a wider Ah Peng Street one-way only thoroughfare.

The old wet market had been replaced with a bigger structure that encroached upon a larger area by swallowing up eateries like Tai Tong Restaurant, Cheong Fatt coffee shop and the noodles specialists named Mah Siew Nam and Hor Wah Kee.

Correct, the huge rain tree that stood at the entrance to the demised Chong Kong private Chinese school had been chain-sawed down. The place is now occupied by a few rows of shop lots that house several restaurants and shops selling various types of merchandise. The build-up area there stretched right up to the riverbank and is connected by a pedestrian cum motorcycle bridge to Perting Village.

 Bentong Street The latest addition of building constructions are two rows of shops just beside the town's Indian temple at the main entrance to Perting village where the former Hong Choo Chan rice gowdown was. Further up behind the old CEB, later called the NEB and still later known as TNB, but now the land had been empty. There, I discovered a discarded old cemetery. It is now overgrown with banana plantains and some fruit trees.

The upper end of Chui Yin Street is now covered with shops opposite Methodist Church. It used to be the PWD and later the JKR workshop. Oh yes, the old church had been torn down and in its place is a much expanded magnificent edifice now.

Moving over to the upper end of Loke Yew Street, the District Office now has doubled its office buildings with a new block of three storeys high taking up all the parking area and extended up to the roadside. Just beside it is now the new magistrate court. Opposite the Tras Road football field, the elite government quarters had given way to an impressive and new town mosque.

At the other end of Loke Yew Street, just opposite the Chinese temple is now the now the bus hub of the town.

Do you see now! There have been so many changes in the actual Bentong town!!

Now bear with me, I will next tell you the development in the town-s periphery. - Suy Sang


How to achieve good vision while driving during heavy downpour. We are not sure why it is so effective just try this method when it rains heavily. This method was told by a Police friend who had experienced and confirmed it. It is useful.....even driving at night.

Most motorists would turn on HIGH or FASTEST SPEED of the wipers during heavy downpour, yet the visibility in front of the windscreen is still bad......

Sunglass - T In the event you face such a situation, just try your SUN GLASSES (any model will do), and miracle! All of a sudden, your visibility in front of your windscreen is perfectly clear, as if there is no rain.

Make sure you always have a pair of SUN GLASSES in your car, as you are not only helping yourself to drive safely with good vision, but also might save your friend's life by giving them this idea.

Try it yourself and share it with your friends! Amazing, you still see the drops on the windshield, but not the sheet of rain falling. You can see where the rain bounces off the road. It works to eliminate the "blindness" from passing semi's spraying you too. Or the "kickup" if you are following a semi or car in the rain.

They ought to teach that little tip in driver's training. It really does work.

NOTE : The SUN GLASSES reduce the reflection / refraction of light through the rain drops, ergo, you see better!!


 Christmas Feast As pre-arranged we left for Sungai Marong at 10.45 am to fetch Sar Kim Len. She was all ready to come with us. Then we went to pick up Lee Kim Thai in Repas Village. The lady brought along a pot of good luck glutinous rice dumplings.

When we arrived at Mr. Milesís residence, guests had already poured in. From Subang Jaya Garry and Mary had come early. With them also came Choo Oi Mei and another former Taylor's College colleague. As usual quickly they formed up the kitchen crew and busied themselves in the kitchen. There were not much cooking but most of the chores were laying out the food on the huge long dining table in the dining area of the bungalow.

Over in the living room, were the early arrivals. Chan Siew Mun, Yap Kim Hee, Mahalingam and company were chattering to catch up with the latest news and views. I joined them and had had earful of stories. Suddenly, Kim Hee mentioned the name Leong Kah Wah. Chan Siew Mun cut in and told us that Kah Wah had expired. When? Just a few months ago. I did not know. In fact not many of us knew.

Lee Yew Kwong came with his family with wife, sons, daughters and daughter-in-law. There were his grandchildren in tow. Mahalingam and his family had driven up all the way from Seremban bringing pots and pans filled with the most delectable aromatic mutton dalcha. Then there was the briyani rice to add to the fare.

Just before the gong went off for lunch, Ramasamy drove in. Soon, lunch was ready and we tucked in with all the potluck goodies. Yummy, everybody was in festive mood gulping down the good food.

A little later Wong Yeng Kee drove in. He was with us for a while before his time was up to leave for his Esso station.

Later Babir Kaur aka Mrs. Sarjeet Singh came in with their sizeable family. More food topped up of what was still left aplenty on the table.

Cik Fatimah came in escorted by En. Omair. Later in the evening, the Kok family members who run a stall in the market visited him.

Our mentor and host Mr. Miles had a busy day receiving guests, greeting, talking, commenting and rushing in and out all over the house.


Birthday Cake - Green

JAN 10
JAN 21
JAN 30
JAN 31

 Happy New Year 2011
 Happy New Year 2011

 Book and Quill

Written and edited by Chan Suy Sang

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