THE MESIAN-MESSAGE JULY, 2009 NO. 92
THE TENGKU ISKANDAR SERIES
THE LADY ANON. 5TH EDITION
92 NINETY TWO
I AM COUNTING UP AND UP TO REACH THE ENVIALBE
100 ISSUES OF THE MESIAN-MESSAGE
AFTER BOWING COMES GIFT-GIVING AND OTHER THINGS
PART II - THE LAND OF THE RISING SUN
- by Chen Khin Sang
Beside bowing, gift-giving is an important custom in Japan, socially as well as in a business environment. There
are many occasions for giving gifts - dictated by calendar festive seasons, one's milestone such as wedding or
funeral, or for specific circumstances. No matter what the reason for the gift, usually the recipient is obliged
to return a gift or favour of some type. First-timers (especially foreigners) will not be expected to be
spot-on. Japanese are quite an understanding and helpful lot. Hence, it is sufficient if we bring along
"buah tangan" when we are invited for dinner at a Japanese home.
Recently, my wife and I were invited to a Japanese home. His abode is on the 38th floor of a condominium
on reclaimed land in the Tokyo Bay. I removed my coat before I ring the door bell - considered to be good
by the Japanese. The host opened the door. I bowed. He returned the gesture and we exchanged greetings.
As I step in, I noticed a small area (just behind the door) where shoes were neatly placed. Aware that shoes are
not worn inside a typical Japanese home, I slipped off my shoes. A pair of slippers was provided for me to wear
inside the house. It is customary to wait to be invited to take a seat. I was ushered to my seat at a low glass
table on a tatammi mat. Other guests soon arrived. I saw they bring gifts such as a box of cheery, a bottle of
wine or even a box of biscuits - much like we multi-cultural Malaysian do when visiting someone.
We were served an assortment of raw vegetables: thin slices of spring cabbages, spinaches, turnips and
cucumbers. These are to be mixed with mayonnaise, other Japanese sauce and wasabi - a greenish yellow spicy
mixture. Main dishes include meat and fish. Fish come in two varietieS: raw and grilled. Then miso soup
(soya soup with mushrooms, vegetables, prawns and crab meat, all thrown into one concoction) followed. Lastly,
sweet desserts and green tea were served. Japanese generally has a preference for sweet food. I also noticed
guest take great care not to spill things they consume. They put their left palm under their chin to prevent
spillage. I left after dinner with the usual bowing formality.
There are specific rules that one need to learn regarding how and when to put out garbage for disposal. Like the
saying goes "When in Rome, do as the Roman do". I did just that right from the beginning in order not to offend
the local community. I need to follow different day of the week to dispose different trash. Generally, Mondays
and Fridays are for burnable items, such as small pieces of dirty wrappings and food scraps. Non-burnable
materials such as an old defunct iron or an unwanted umbrella are on every alternate Wednesday. Thursdays are
plastic and foam stuffs. On Saturdays, cardboard boxes, old books and newspapers neatly tied up in separate
bundles as well as bottles and metal cans can be disposed. If you put out the wrong things, that bundle will not
be collected. The rubbish collector would just stick a note on it and you are expected to take it back! Everyone
obey the rules. I guess, in Japan where 99% of the population is ethnic Japanese, it is much easier to enforce
Tokyo and its Rail network:
Tokyo is the present capital as well as the political and economic center of Japan. Its creation started some
four centuries ago when the warrior society (the Shoguns) seized political power at the beginning of the 17th
century. The Shoguns shifted the nationís capital from Kyoto to Edo (now called Tokyo).
In Japan, shops and businesses cluster around a railway station; much like the riverine settlements of olden days
that start from both banks of a river. As such, with a few hundred railway stations dotted all over its capital -
Tokyo had developed into a vast city which has buildings that stretch as far as your eyes can see; literally to
Hence, today's Tokyo boast of streets lined with skyscrapers at the urban city center.
Here, at Tokyo's central district, are some of the country's biggest railway stations that form a ring with many
subways connecting many more stations beneath the busy streets above. From these big stations, rail-roads
in all directions to Tokyo's hinterlands.
The bigger stations in Tokyo area have ten to twelve rail tracks in their station; some are subway stations going
2 to 3 level underground i.e. some 150 meters down, really a civil engineering marvel.
A lot of rail tracks also run on elevated viaducts. Singapore has only 2 MRT lines. Tokyo has 93 train & LRT
lines in a very elaborate and extensive network of stations. Consequently, most inhabitants in Tokyo travel in
their efficient train system. They do not use their car to go to work even when they own one - partly due to
parking constrain too. (Disembark we have reached our destination. What city? Read the next issue to get the
STORY NO. 4 - PART 4 - THAT'S ALL - NO MORE -
by Mohd. Razlan bin Marzuki
Hi Chan, this is Razlan again to continue. The last time I mentioned the ghost or spirits disturbances at the
DO's garage. The very kind DO's name was Encik Aziz bin Yassin.
The man responsible to spread the news to the whole town was Lim Tai Peng. This boy was really friendly with us.
He didn't believe in ghosts or spirits. One evening at around 9 pm he came over and talked to us about the
I remembered sitting on the kitchen floor with him together with Khalil. While having the conversation, all of
sudden a small pebble was thrown from the roof and the pebble landed on the wooden wall. The pebble as big
thumb dropped just beside Lim Tai Peng. He was shocked and got a little scared. So, I asked him "Do you believe
it is a ghost now?"
He was scared and started taking shelter under the cemented kitchen stove, where we all took cover when the
attack started. So, I think he was the man responsible for the crowds who marched up to the DO's garage.
After teaching in Malacca for years, I asked for a transfer to Kuala Terengganu because of marriage. I have got
5 children, 2 boys and 3 girls. Three of them are already married. Now I am a grandfather of one grandson. At the
moment I have to mark students' final exam paper for this semester. All the best and warmest regards to you
PETER CHONG SANG FAH
This is the year of 2009 and I am 65 and running.
ERA OF CRAWLING AND MESSING AROUND
I have a slim memory when I was born in the year of 1943 and my parent brought me up in a secondary jungle
settlement in Bentong at the vicinity of Chamang area. Where it is located now, I cannot recall the place
anymore, however little memory during my upbringing there was built around chicken coops. As I grew up and
to crawl, I was put to crawl and play around the compound where the chicken coops were and you can
imagine how it
was like that I had to always entangle with the chicken shits and other blessed immunities that had brought to my
healthy life style until now.
ERA OF CHILDHOOD GREAT ADVENTURES
Other avenues of my infant memories are blanked until I realised vividly of my life when I was staying in Loke
Yew Street. All my peers had called me "Nga Nga Chai" and I was popular by that name because I was very
mischievous and adventurously naughty. Beside school works, everything pertaining to childhood antique
play-stations like playing cards, tops, kites, rubber bands, kundi kunda and many more including combing around
town and the jungle fringes were my specialities plus stealing neighbour's chicken and ransacking their fruit
gardens. Going to their vegetables plots and uprooting their sweet potatoes and tapioca was a norm. Happiest
was when we were spotted and being chased by the owner for being a ransacker. Climbing the nunnery orchard
trees at night were exciting memories as I tied the about to ripe durians to their branches with intention to
climb up again the following nights to pluck it off. Imagine how frustrating the nun would be when the durians
dropped and were still hanging up the tree. Why I was in this mischievous nature which I analyse now was
THE COBLERíS SON AND LAKSA SELLING MOM
My father was a cobbler practicing his trade at the Ah Peng Street and my mother was a street hawker selling
curry noodle. Both of them put their time and effort to earn a meek income to survive and up keeping me. Their
professions I consider as noble because they worked for their keep. They had no other avenue to enhance their
income. Because of this fate of their life, I consider that I came from a family of poverty. I have nothing from
them except that they have given me a good body and health to go by until now. Bear in mind, I was their only
Because their life was such, they had not much time to take personal care of me and coed my education and I
left to fend for myself during this growing age hence I have cultivated and took a liking of these misendeavours.
I excelled in all the play-stations and the adventurous happenings as described in the aforesaid except studies
and revision of school works that caused the reason why I had to be retained in my class for a number of years
which I do not remember how many years. During this period, you can imagine that I could not even speak a
ERA OF REALIZATION
Upon reaching the youthful life at about the age of 12 or 13 years old, a sudden surge of maturity and
responsibilities became conscious to me and I became more of an obedient child and the desire of wanting more
knowledge in school works and activities.
M.E.S Bentong had been a good institution for me. It was just a private mission school ran by our mentor Mr.Ted
Miles. Without the school, I would not have reached the level of Form 5 and become what I am now. Though
was a small institution, the school participated in many sport activities in the Pahang states and had professed
many achievements in the district and the state level.
I was then representing hockey and basketball for the school and we were prominently feared by our opponents
their respective field of competitions. Credit must be given to our teachers who were ever studiously and in
their uncunning ways taught us to excel in these fields. They were Mr. Brian Foenander and the late Cikgu
Samsuddin Pandak. On the more subtle side, Mr. Wong Yen Kee thought us Art and that is why I still got a knack
for drawing of colour scenery until even now.
We had an American missionary by the name of Rev. Don Turman who came and stationed in Bentong for two
played a good part to influence my life. He thought me to have courage to lead and be independent and
responsibilities. Hence, I took up the leadership in M.Y.F activities and other societies like scouting, etc not
to mention that I helped out daily in the family chores.
M.E.S Bentong was an academic institution, but it was also a school that taught us commercial subjects like
Bookkeeping, Shorthand and typewriting. Comparatively, other schools did not offer any of these at that time.
Students who wished to learn these subjects would have to attend classes with a commercial school. With the
additional knowledge of these commercial subjects, our M.E.S peers were easily accessible and well demanded in
the job markets when they left school including me.
From MES I was flung out into the so uncertain world to fend for my survival to upkeep myself, for the rest of my
(To be continued. Read Peter Chong's Part II story in Mesian-message No. 93)
FROM THE OTHER SIR
OF THE TWO SIRS TO SIR
Well, my passenger Selvaraj Daniel has told his most captivating story, now it is me. This is John Chinniah the
driver and retiree.
The cruise to Bentong was a cool drive. The highway was neither jammed up nor the roadsides looked wild. It was
open and peaceful yet so full - of two-wheelers to many wheelers.
Dozens and dozens of cars recklessly overtook me on my left and on my right for the one-way highway was
However, the coolness and the greeneries of the early 1960's were not there for that is by another way. The old
road still exists and passable to all traffic! Toll free too!! Cool.
I remember along that old road, the curves and bends, the police convoys now certainly devoid, and the
army tanks within which soldiers crouched with big guns readily trained upon the hilly terrains.
Back then snakes used to zigzag across the serpentine Bentong-KL road. Wild beasts used to dash across just in
front. Arboreal creatures sometimes descended from the overhanging canopy of trees. There were the water falls
pouring down icy cool water cascading from the steep hill slopes in silvery sprays. Maybe Suy Sang's mighty pen
can add more info and glamour of the early days than my ball pen. (Your pen is already that mighty! That is if I
have not spaced the pen and is. Proof: your big family.Joke poked by editor)
It was an enjoyable birthday get together of ex-Mesians and Taylors' lecturers and acquaintances. Mr Miles was
very hospitable and opened the mansion to entertain not less than 50 of us - old and young.
On reconnaissance the former MES land, I was too shocked to see the MES School building missinG. It was like
David Copperfield had come to cast a spell over the hills. Lalang and trees, the two blocks of MES buildings that
used to be, are all gone! Houses have spruced up from there and beyond.
As a former teacher, I am still proud to be associated with this Institution, which gave the opportunity to
knowledge hungry students looking to improve them selves to get an education.
I remember the teachers namely the late Mr Wong Yoon Chong (the principal), Maud Foenander, Brian
Surendranath (deceased), Wong Yeng Kee, Allahyarham Shamsuddin Pandak, Mat Gimon, John, Mrs Gnana
Sundram, Mrs Daniel, Hilda Ponnu and Ahmad Awang. The teachers were dedicated and worked very hard to
standard of the students in the classrooms, in sports and in other school activities.
MES was above the others in many ways. It was because of the cooperation and contribution that existed
the students and teachers.
The School was more of a sharing and caring Institutional Center for the students and Mr Ted C Miles was the main
I remember MES continuously held the state Inter School Challenge table tennis Trophy for more than 6 years as
Now when I visit Bentong, I have nothing to show my grandchildren of the institution, that once stood tall among
the people of Bentong, the then friendly teachers, those obedient plus naughty and cheeky students and most of
all the atmosphere of fellowship that existed.
Where goes the small stream behind the hostel where Munzir and Kamal used to prowl in the summer afternoons?
I recall the famous teachers' hostel ghost stories directed by Brian and John Chinniah, was the talk of the Town.
(So you were one of the head ghosts, eh! - editor)
Maybe, someday someone will approach the housing developer to persuade him to name the area as Taman
SINCERELY YOURS, JOHN CHINNIAH P.P.N
- he writes 3, he types click-clack when he's free......
FROM SIR WITH LOVE
People coming to visit for the first time often ask me if my house has a name. "No," I say, "just call it 'The
House on the Hill' or 'The Big House at Batu Tiga'" Taxi drivers know it as 'The Home of the 'orang Puteh'. In
the days before the Shanghai-Pahang Estate was fragmented, it was The Manager's Bungalow, pure and simple.
I'm quite aware that some people call it "Rumah Hantu", and I don't mind at all. If it has that reputation,
burglars are more likely to stay away. It all started because the story was that a ghost1y spirit in the form of
a beautiful Lady lived in the old pokok ara right at the entrance. If a string was tied from the tree to the
house, she would slide along it and come in about midnight, or so the story went. Alas, that old tree crashed
down in the Big Storm of '06, taking. the Lady in White with it, I suppose. A pity because that story was perfect
as an introduction to the house and its atmosphere.
Malay film directors, looking for an old house with atmosphere, have chosen this place for several made-for-TV
movies. "Ina" was the first, followed by "Aku Raja Gunung mi". Then came the two "bloody" films, "Rimba Berdarah"
and "Sungai Berdarab". Only in the last film made here, though, was the house given a name "Villa Maya". (For the
record, an "Asia Bagus" episode was filmed here, and it was the setting for ,Sheila Majid's "Ratu" video.)
Whatever the house is called, to me it's "Home". You who are reading this may think of it as "Headquarters", a
place you can come back to every year once or twice for a reunion. You'll be sitting on the same chairs that you
sat on at M.E.S., around marble-top tables that used to be in K.K. Mohammed's coffee shop, seeing reminders of
your old school everywhere in photos and books. Whether it has a name or not, it's a place where you'll always be
welcome. Think of it that way.
HISTORY REELING BACK HALF A CENTURY:
BACK TO 1959 - JUL
In his column last month our mentor said "remembering makes our lives richer" and he mentioned "teenage
too. In July 1959, a case of teenage romance hit the headlines. It was a tragedy all because some people reacted
too harshly. The cause was the discovery of a letter, not even a love letter, being exhibited and probably
purposely corrected for language errors. Likely thinking that she had been shamed both in behaviour and lingo
errors a female student, hyper-reacted by swallowing a poison. As a result her life hung on a thread at the
hospital. I think this was something that we do not want to remember, but the unfortunate incident happened. In
our Mesian history, it is written!
Oh, talking of teenage romance, I have been teased and linked to a beauty queen. She was much older and
matured than me. But if she had clung on to me I would probably have a different romantic story. To think of it,
a senior partner would probably make life steadier.
There were other misdemeanours by the delinquents in the hostel when someone was near to being expelled.
when the master calmed down, no matter how serious the minor crimes, they were let off and given a second
Pleasant visitors showed their presence and made the hostel dwellers' lives lively and pleasant.
Oh! Look at the bottom of the page. It's already 6. Pack up and leave for this issue's sake!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE FOLLOWING IN JULY
||ABU BAKAR MOHD ISA
||HOOI YEW CHEE
||LEONG SIEW LING
||YAP KIM LOY
||GOH SENG KWANG
||NIAM HOCK SIK
||CHUNG KOON SUNG
||MOHD ZABIL HJ ABD KADIR
We wish to express our heart-felt condolences and sympathies to the families of Ng Shui Chuan and Mrs.
who passed away recently.
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