THE MESSAGE OCTOBER, 2005 NO. 47
THE DR.ABU SAMAH LABAK SERIES -
THE LEE YEW KWONG 2ND EDITION
A JOURNEY UP THE HIGHLANDS
It was a Friday, the eve of some public holidays. There was a stretch of long holidays, and
so we left for a holiday. For us folks living in the ever busy, noisy, dusty and now hazy
cities, we became escapees. We wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of KL city.
Where to? Genting Highlands will be ideal, some would say. But no, that place is busier
than any city especially during weekends and public holidays.
CAMERON HIGHLANDS HERE WE COME
So we drove north to go up the hills.
Our destination: Cameron Highlands for a highland retreat.
Years ago, I was at the wheel heading up the hills. But now my daughter, Lisa whom I have
brought her there for the holidays when she was only a toddler is now steering her
4-wheeler. My youngest daughter, Dana took over the wheel too when Lisa needed a breather.
I sat and relaxed at the back as a passenger. I have time to take in eyeful after eyeful
of the countryside. As I looked around this was what I found.
Unlike the meandering roads of yesteryears, the drive along the wide and straight highways
was monotonous. Things nearby just streaked by. I saw only mountains in the distance.
BLUE MOUNTAINS OF MALAYA?
I remember there was a song that our master composed called "Blue Mountains of Malaya".
Sorry, Sir if you are still singing that song you have to change it to
"White or more accurately Hazy Mountains of Malaysia".
Those days there was only one way up the Cameron Highlands via Tapah.
Now, there is another approach road via a little country town called Pulai.
The junction turning into Camerons is called Simpang Pulai.
TURNING IN AT SIMPANG PULAI
On reaching Simpang Pulai, our little 4-wheel drive then took the well-beaten road up
Camerons Highlands. The road still snakes over hills and descended into valleys.
Then it climbs up to the highlands. However, the drive was smooth owing to the better and
wider road. There aren't many daredevil bends. We have the windscreens down to breathe
in fresh and cool country air.
MASSIVE TRAFFIC JAM IN CAMERON HIGHLANDS
On reaching Simpang Pulai, our little 4-wheel drive then took the well-beaten road up
But, alas! Our dream of getting away from the city turned into a nightmare. Many city folks
have similar intention as we do! They too have left the cities and were heading there.
My ghosh! What a massive traffic jam up the hills there was!!
We inched our way to the hotel. Hotels were flooded with guests. All came there to rest.
But with the influx of people, I doubt that was possible. Food was expensive too.
Fortunately, the weather was just nice and cool. So we just breathed in the free air and
enjoyed the comforting cool. There was nothing much to do.
SHOPPING AND MORE SHOPPING
Not exactly that free. Provided you have brought in your money. There was shopping and
more shopping to do. There were many local produces for us to pick from till we were
spoilt by the so wide choice.
THE PRODUCES OF C.H.
There are strawberries, little tomatoes that look like cherries, miniature potatoes the
size of marbles, purple cauliflowers and cabbages and green veggies of so many varieties.
Prices are as high or even higher than the supermarkets and stalls in the lowlands.
CHANGES IN CAMERON HIGHLAND
Tanah Rata, Ringlet, and Brincang are now bustling towns. Shops and buildings including
some with many storeys are up now. A few famous hotels even proudly loom high into the sky
to beckon guests who are willing to get fried.
Bulldozers have slashed off many hillsides. But with the cool weather, the much-terraced
hill slopes are covered back with lush weeds and shrubs to protect them from landslides.
Of course, some exposed soil stands vulnerable to the harshness of the elements like the
scorching sunshine, mountain winds and torrential rains.
Otherwise, there is nothing to fear at all.
R.E.A.R.C.H. IS REACHING OUT
Talking about the environment in Cameron Highlands, it comes to my mind about an old
M.E.S. guy. He has done a lot to save the lot. Who is he?
ZULKIFLI THE SECRETARY
None other than Zukifli. Zul is the secretary of R.E.A.C.H., the Cameron Highlands
environment protection body. His very active organization reaches out to all the local
residents and Malaysians to protect the environment.
You can reach him at R.E. A.C.H. by calling him at
to find out his number.
When I was up there I tried to reach Zulkifli to get to know more about his R.E.A.C.H.
But Zul is a very active and busy man. When I went up, he had come down to the lowlands.
He was managing the hockey team in Kuantan. What a coincidence! However,
when I called him Zul was very apologetic about missing our meeting chance.
NEW FARMING TECHNIQUES
I remember, the farms those days were open farms all exposed to the elements and all bare
to the sky. Nowadays, they are covered with sheets to form green houses within which the
vegetable beds and flowerpots lie. It looks like farming there had undergone a great
change for protecting the produces from the forces of nature. But, are the produces still
as natural, I wonder?
On the day of our descent the uphill side of the macadam was still jammed.
People continued to go up there to breathe in the fresh cool air.
Almost all the cars, buses, vans, four-wheel-drives, SUVs and MPVs stopped at the stalls
and the shops. There, the visitors emptied their purses and wallets to grab whatever farm
produces that attract.
The journey up Cameron Highlands is better than ascending Genting Highlands where most
people carry purses and wallets stashed with cash come down with empty pockets and
At least after a visit up Cameron Highlands you have something in the pots
and something cooking in your woks and pans!
NEAR EPIDEMIC IN BENTONG
The October 7th 1955 issue of the M.E.S.SAGE reported that, "many townspeople have been
going to the hospital for inoculations against the dreaded disease "typhoid".
Then there was an advice to students saying, "If you have fever or severe headache or
stomachache, you should go to the hospital at once."
A grass-green whip snake was caught by Shamsuddin and put on display in the office.
Shamsuddin was bitten by the snake but he was alright! (I think we local people called it
the "green bamboo snake".)
Well, I am sure Mr. Miles taught Shamsuddin how to catch snakes. Remember how our mentor
shocked us when he caught snakes and played with them !!.
Later a slow loris was captured and kept as a mini zoo specimen.
Then the following notice appeared:
WANTED: FOOD FOR THE SLOW LORIS AND THE SNAKES!
What did they eat? Small creatures such as frogs, lizards, insects etc. So a few of us
went on a wild witch hunt to capture the necessary critters for their lunch.
We scoured the niches and the nooks of our houses; and combed the hedges and the bushes to
secure their food supply dead and alive. Though the caged creatures were petted and fed,
but they did not seem to be happy. All the while they tried to find the slightest chance
to escape, if any.
A rudimentary science experiment on common salt was carried out in the makeshift
laboratory at the end of the new block. Students were so excited.
Harbans Singh gave an eye-witness account of an accident. He saw a coconut tree fell
crashing down on a house in Ketari. A man in his sarong sleeping in the house suffered
serious injuries. He was sent to the hospital by the passing O.C.P.D. a Mat Salleh in
those days, see!
(Story personally reconfirmed by Harbans on 7.9.05 after a lapse of half a century)
There was a report on the top or fastest typists in the typewriting class.
Alas, I came out last!
||WORDS PER MINUTE
WONG YENG KEE
THION PANG HUAT
YIP FOOK KHIM
LEE SAI KAN
MOHAMMED SIMIN (the late)
POON CHUN WAH
CHOOI WAI MING (demised)
CHEONG AH MOI
CHAN SUY SANG
Oh my, I'm so shy!
A NATIONAL SERVICE CAMP VISIT
Many of our youngsters are now continually drafted into national service.
Camps have mushroomed everywhere. One camp recently built is in Chamang.
About 7 km from Bentong town the camp is found. It is sited on a flat valley all surrounded
by greenery. A lake, probably a disused mining pool, presents a picturesque scenery.
One day we drove in to visit a junior relation. She is Mariko Lam my eldest granddaughter,
as my eldest daughter is her mom.
As Sunday was a visiting day many parents, grandfathers and grandmothers, uncles, aunties,
brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces have come visiting. Fortunately there were two sheds
raised for receiving guests. Tables and chairs were laid out for all to sit down.
We met our blossoming granddaughter, Mariko. She was so happy to be in the camp. She said
she had a lot of interesting activities there. She looked toughened up and ready for all
outdoor activities. Of course the 3-month course of national service disturbed her studies.
But she benefited from her experiences of mixing with others from near and far!
Syabas, Khidmat Negara!!
On another Sunday, I was again there. You know what happened? A long distance call came
through Mariko's mobile from the USA. It was from her mother, my eldest daughter who was
traveling there. Wow! We are baffled to know how advanced telecommunication technology is
now. That little hand held gadget can also communicate from an out-of-town area Chamang
with someone in the US! So the mother and daughter had a long chitchat.
Thanks to the mobile phone. Salute to that most efficient handheld gadget!
NEWS FROM THE ROOF OF THE WORLD
I sent Nasahari MESSAGE No. 43. As soon as he received it, he e-mailed me. Subject:
Greetings from the Roof of the world. Just imagine our newsletter has gone up so high,
almost reaching Mount Everest. Nasahari is our Mesian who now lives and thrives
in Citwan, Nepal.
Nasahari was from the first mile Tras Road. He studied in M.E.S till 1968, then in
Tutorial College P.J. Later he attended and graduated from the Oberoi Hotel School,
New Delhi, majoring in hotel management and catering sciences.
Thenceforward, Nasahari began an illustrious career in hospitality in numerous renowned
hotels, resorts and even palaces in many different countries.
I guess he would have rubbed shoulders with many celebrities and royalties.
Have you an interesting story about any celebrity or royalty, Nasahari?
With his knowledge and enriched by experiences in so many countries,
he now teaches people about hospitality in College Balkumari.
Great guy, Nasahari. We wish you the best of luck and longevity.
Nasahari has put forward a great proposal to bind our fraternity in greater prosperity and
security. He has proposed the formation of a Mesian company. Business?
To open a restaurant of international reputation.
Read his proposal in our next edition.
A GANG OF FOUR CALL ON OUR MENTOR
One Saturday afternoon when I called on our mentor I met a gang of four.
It was a group of youngsters made up of Sara, Alex, Pang and Hasri.
They have come around to visit our mentor.
The four are a loquacious lot. They talked and talked non-stop. They grumbled about the
local haze and mentioned how houses in Gaza were razed. Seemingly, they blamed the haze
for chasing them from the city to find an escapade in Bentong.
The four cracked their craniums with some little board games to keep their restless spirit
in check. They babbled and laughed at the jokes they cracked. They solved riddles and
rolled off tongue twisters. The revelers seemed to enjoy the visit very much indeed.
They even dabbled in politics and cackled in economics. Gosh! They are a knowledgeable and
HOT: There are many leafy plants that Mr. Miles nurtures a lot in pots. What I mentioned in the
last number were the plants in old pots. Probably these are the ones waiting to be
transplanted or to be repotted. My apologies for not mentioning the flourishing lot.
LAUGHTERS FROM READERS
Fong Tee: Which is nearer, the sun or Denmark?
Mr. Rajendran: The sun, of course.
Fong Tee: Why?
Mr. Rajendran: Because we can see the sun, but we can't see Denmark.
- Yip Fook Khim. -
Jaganathan: Father, congratulate me. I have been made half back on the football team.
Father: I see by your report card, you're all the back in your studies.
||ABDUL HALIM HJ. OTHTMAN
||BARBARA RED LAPSLEY
||OW WAI KING
||LIM PAK HENG
||CHEW TEE KAN
||LIM SWEE CHOO
||TAN SOON SENG
||LEONG KAH WAH
||CHAN SEE YUEN
||WONG YENG KEE
||CHAN KAM SWEE
||RICHARD LOW QOOI TEE
||ABU SAMAK LABAK
||HILDA PONMU (MRS. CHOONG)
||SONNY LAM PHAT CHEE
We just need more sponsors.
RM100 for helping to bring out an edition.
More to continue a series.
Written, edited, produced and distributed by Chan Suy Sang.
MANY THANKS TO DR. ABU SAMAH WHO STILL LEADS THE SERIES.
THANK YOU LEE YEW KWONG FOR SPONSORING A 2ND EDITION.
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