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THE MESSAGE AUGUST, 2005 NO. 45
- THE DR.ABU SAMAH BIN HJ. LABAK SERIES -
THE CHAN SEE PHONG 2ND EDITION


Merdeka!!

BENTONG NEWS,
NEW BENTONG

On 16 July, the Sultan of Pahang His Royal Highness Sultan Ahmad Shah declared Bentong a Municipality a rank higher than a town and just one rung lower than a city.

It was the celebration of the century never before seen not even with the new millennium being ushered in. Residents of the neighbouring villages, elders and youngsters, children and babies came to town.

Grandpas, grannies, uncles and aunties dragged along their progenies to converge on the golden triangle of the town. All dressed up in baju kurung, samfoo, dresses, t-shirts, singlets, shorts and longs. Some with nice shoes on some just dragged their slippers along.

Among the milling and expectant crowd slipped in yours truly. I was among the sea of humanity. We all wanted to see. See what? See you , see me for nothing was then ready. The stage was empty. Under the canopies naked chairs are devoid of their invited VIPs.

At nine o’clock sharp we heard the siren of the Royal motorcade blared forth. Soon His Royal Highness the Sultan of Pahang arrived.

There was a barrage of speeches. Finally Bentong was declared a municipality. Entertainment programmes followed. We heard the serenade of songs from the people surrounded celebration platform.

As I sauntered over to Ah Peng Street near the former Lido, I saw people gathered and traffic clustered. I especially noticed an ordinary citizen in shorts and clogs trotted down the street. Click, clog, click, clog with a palm-leaf fan in hand he walked. He was a typical singlet wearing local man.

Firework Firework Firework

The first volley of the firework display was fired at 10.

"Bang!" the explosion stunned the singlet cladded man. He looked up and pointed at the sky waving his fan. "Wahh....! Ho liang ahh. ( so beautiful) and he shouted, "Mun tong yan untong lor! (Bentongites are so lucky)"

The firework lighted up the night sky. Bang, Bang, Bang, Boom, Boom, Boom! Now the sky turned red, now the firmament turned bright. Then descended balls of fire that disintegrated into meteorites. Some volleys shattered in the air and showered down sparkles that scattered everywhere. For fifteen minutes people's spirit soared. "Wonderful, so beautiful, very colourful!" they roared.

So Bentong is a shanty town no more. It is now a municipality, ranking just below the status of a city!


TREATS OF CHAPPATIS AND A HERBAL NURSERY

Herbs

One day, I was taking things easy. I dropped in to Dr.Abu Samah's clinic to see how was he. Well, he was very fine and happy.

We discussed on things that we had planned already. We wanted to produce a bonanza issue of the MESSAGE. Why? To celebrate and commemorate its 5th anniversary.

What? So soon the MESSAGE would have been published for 5 years, and as a monthly too? Yes, you are right. Aren't you surprised!

Dr. Abu then took me to a nice Indian restaurant for a treat of chappatis. As we dined alfresco, we continued our babble.

The chappatis there was so superb with the right condiment for dipping in. The gravy was of sliced potatoes with onions added in. It goes very well with the main item on the menu: chappatis.

When Dr. Abu found that I enjoyed the fare so much he ordered more for me to take away. He wished me to send the food to our mentor to share with him. So I left the restaurant with a full belly and some takeaway.

Dr.Abu brought me to a house with an expanse of land at the corner. He has taken over the house to turn it into a treatment center and a nursery for nurturing herbs. The setup was still in its infancy. However, work has started to build up his dream herbarium.

Potted Herbs

He needs all kinds of herbs to grow there. Do you have any out of the way plants that would be useful as a medicine?

After visiting Dr.Abu, I headed for Bentong. I attended to whatever matters I needed to attend to first. By then it was already lunchtime.

I drove up to Mr. Miles mansion bringing Abu's treat for him. He was delighted to know that such caring people like Abu Samah are around.

He laid out the chappatis and its accompanying gravy. Then we feasted. Our mentor enjoyed the food greatly. He was so pleased. I am sure later he wrote to Dr.Abu to thank him very profusely.




WHAT HAPPENED THIS MONTH AUGUST 1955
50 YEARS AGO
Diplomat and Hat

The August 1955 M.E.S.SAGE announced the Honour Rolls after the examinations. For classes from Standard One, the Principal's Honour Rolls were a 90% performance average marks for the examinations.

Yours truly came out last on the roll for Form III - the highest standard of the school.

It was immediately decided by the school that we would open a Form IV class in the coming year i.e. 1956. Well, we have to because where else could the Form III students go?

The formation of a new and the first of Form IV class put some students at ease. However, there are those who thought that they might have to get into schools that are more established. They have two years to go to finish their schooling and many would then go out into the job market.

It was also planned that the Pahang District Methodist Youth Fellowship be held in Bentong with the school as the center.

But, a stroke of ill health struck our master and he was indisposed for quite a while. Doctors could not diagnose his ailments. Under such circumstances, we the locals could have consulted mediums and quacks. But our master being a true westerner held on to his disbelief and distrust for such witch doctors and chose to suffer instead.

In his own diary Mr. Miles wrote: "I thought I was surely going to die". (Past Notes Volume I, page 351).

If what he thought was right, he could have become a martyr. He suffered for a long while from the attack of some parasites. What kind? Find out from his book. Fortunately, he survived.

But the MYF Rally was transferred to Raub. I remember I attended the function for three days sleeping on classroom desks. But it was a great experience to just travel out of Bentong those days.

THE PAHANG STATE CAPITAL WAS TRANSFERRED TO KUANTAN ON AUGUST 27, 1955. CAN YOU REMEMBER WHAT THE FORMER PAHANG STATE CAPITAL WAS?




OUR NAME LIST YOYOES A BIT

Our name list was on the upward trail since I revived the MESSAGE. From a mere 10 Mesians it progressed into many tens. Then it hit 100 but it did not stop. I struggle on to reach 200 strong. On the way upping the numbers, it yoyoed and floundered - the result of several departures for the hereafter.

By January the Mesian name list has hit the 200 target. Presto! I thought I could then print the new list and send it to you.

But you know our fraternity is a fragile thing. People easily drop out. Why? They drop and never get up again. They hitch rides over to the other side without even having the time to say bye-bye!

So in March my 200 full member list suddenly receded one rung down to 199 again. Who was the culprit? Our goldsmith, Chui Tai Fan made a very sudden, unexpected and so untimely exit.



HEY, WE HAVE A PAL IN NEPAL!

Nepal Flag

But now the roll has recovered to the 200 strong list. It was by a long way to achieve it. Let me relate you the following little story:


One day David Chinniah e-mailed me. The subject: Greeting from Nepal Via Mentakab. The story: David has roped in Nasahari from a College in Balkumari. From what country? Be at ease, Nepal, please. So in comes a Nepalese.

According to David, Nasahari is a Mesian who used to live and so roam in Tras Road.

Nepal Royal Flag

I guess he could be one of those descendents of the Queen's Gurkhas, heh! Those hardy mercenaries under the British much feared by the communist terrorists. They terrorized the terrorists until the latter submitted and surrendered to the British. Remember those brown-skinned soldiers with their curved machetes as their insignia? The Gurkhas. (Wrong guess, when our mentor and I met, "Nasahari's root is local", he corrected).

David and our Nepalese are keeping in touch. Nasahari yearns to contact us and receive the MESSAGE. I am sure he is wishing to get in touch with our master and many of his friends here. His address:
email me to find out

Welcome back to the fold, Nasahari.



HE'S ALWAYS LUCKY BUT FOR ONCE

One day two guys visited our mentor. They were David and Yong from the local hospital. David is a resident of Chamang Baru whereas Yong has his abode in Taman Bentong Makmur. That is the housing area up the hill just behind the Catholic High School.

Yong has worked in the Bentong hospital, then Kuala Lumpur and now back again to the local hospital. He is a blood man who works for the blood bank. But all the time he has been living in Bentong. How is that possible?

Oh! Yong commuted daily between Bentong and Kuala Lumpur and back before nightfall. Wow, that's quite a distance to travel to work and all by public transport! It takes a little more than an hour for the one-way trip. The cost? It used to be RM3.70 for a one-way journey. But just as Yong got a transfer back to Bentong recently, the fare hiked to RM4.30 - the spin off from the recent hike in fuel price is the cause, of course.

Yong was so lucky! For all those years he did not pay a sen more than the former rate of one-way journey, RM3.70.

Yong has more luck too with his daily travel to work journey. The bus never broke down halfway during the Bentong-KL and back journey daily. Thus he always made it in time in his travel to work much to the amazement and satisfaction of his boss.

However, one day Yong and his friend had a frank talk. His buddy asked if he had ever been held up because the bus broke down. "Never!" Yong boasted in answer. But that broke the good luck chain. The next day, as he took the Bentong-KL bus to work, halfway the bus suddenly stopped. The engine just refused to throttle to life again. This was Yong's one and only one unlucky day in his experience of commuting daily on his work journeys.

(Months later when I met him at a coffee shop in town he recognized me and reintroduced himself in full, saying, "I'm Yong Swee Teng." Wow! Moh tak teng. {best of the best}).



THE TRAVELS AND FUTURE PLAN OF PAUL

"Is Mr. Miles from Washington?" This was the question that Paul Fong emailed me. When I met our mentor next, I posted him the question.

"No, I'm from Missouri", said he.

To know a little further about American geography, I made further inquiries. I come to know that there are two Washingtons in the US : Washington state and Washington D.C. These two places are not the same. They are miles and miles apart and different in status. Washington state is in the west whereas Washington D.C. is a city in the east - 43 degrees longitude away - about 2,500 miles apart.

Which Washington do you think the American President lives?

Paul has traveled down from Canada to Seattle - the Washington state capital. He said his son is down there. Cupid has led the junior Fong for a deal. He is dating a beauty - an Indonesian Chinese working in the world famous Microsoft company.

Paul said he and his wife fell in love there. What! Now only? No, the couple fell in love with Seattle. Oh! the long-wedded couple is having honeymoon with the city and in the city.

Paul will retire from his job soon. Then he would travel over to China. He wishes to go back to school again. He intends to study Chinese brush painting in the University of Peking. So he would switch from nuclear reactor work to something artful, more humanistic and much more interesting.

I just cannot help speculating that in Paul a Picasso is in the budding. Who knows? He may have the potential to be a future Van Gough. Bravo! We all hope you will make it, Paul.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE FOLLOWING IN AUGUST

Birthday Cake - Green


No.
NAME
BIRTHDAY
1
MOHD. SHAH MD. YUSOF
AUGUST 4
2
TG.DATO IBRAHIM TG.SULAIMAN
AUGUST 6
3
WONG KEM CHIN
AUGUST 7
4
BRIAN FOENANDER
AUGUST 8
5
WONG SWEE SANG
AUGUST 8
6
HASSAN LONG
AUGUST 10
7
AU ZI SHOI
AUGUST 11
8
A.VELLAIYATHAM
AUGUST 14
9
HJ. MOKHTAR MATPIAH
AUGUST 14
10
LIONG HA
AUGUST 14
11
FONG SHEK PHOOI
AUGUST 15
12
MOHD RAZLAN MARZUKI
AUGUST 16
13
ROSLY JOHAR
AUGUST 20
14
ZULKIFLI BIN MOHD ARIFFIN
AUGUST 27
15
WEE SIEW HOCK
AUGUST 29




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Written, edited, produced and delivered by Chan Suy Sang.

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MANY THANKS TO DR.ABU SAMAH FOR LEADING THE SERIES. OUR GRATITUDE TO YOU CHAN SEE PHONG FOR SPONSORING A 2ND EDITION.


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