National Flag on gate

Around this time, patriotism manifests itself in many forms. One is the waving, flying and display of the national flag.

Flags are normally hung from windows, walls, attached to cars, fence etc. But a patriotic residence of Bandar Kinrara, Puchong up the ante and has painted the National Flag on his front sliding gate.

Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka! -)

Sliding Gate Flag

Posted in Uncategorized. Leave a Comment »

Singing In The Rain

Immediately after the afternoon shower today, I heard the chirping of birds at the back of our house. As I look out the balcony, I saw a bird chirping away nosily. It was drenched but it doesn’t seemed to mind and the scene reminded me of the song Singing In The Rain. -)

So I grabbed my camera and managed to fire a couple of shots. The bird immediately flew off.

Bird Singing In The Rain

‘Blackmail’ forced Tunku’s hand

Continuing with the countdown to our nation’s 50th Anniversary of Independence, the NST today published an item on the Father of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman. Those who are interested in the history of our nation should find this article interesting.

Tunku Ahmad Nerang points to himself as a boy in an old family portrait, with his grandparents Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah of Kedah and Che Manjalara (seated), his father Tunku Abdul Rahman and his sister, Tunku Khadijah at the old palace in Alor Star.

Tunku Ahmad Nerang points to himself as a boy in an old family portrait, with his grandparents Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah of Kedah and Che Manjalara (seated), his father Tunku Abdul Rahman and his sister, Tunku Khadijah at the old palace in Alor Star.

The Tunku spent more time in politics than with his family. The nation was the first love of the country’s first prime minister. Tunku Ahmad Nerang talks to SONIA RAMACHANDRAN about what it was like being the son of a statesman

TUNKU Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj was a reluctant politician.

According to his son, Tunku Ahmad Nerang, the first prime minister refused the post of Umno president in 1951 when Datuk Onn Jaafar stepped down.

Apparently, Tun Abdul Razak had asked him to take over but the Tunku was adamant. The Tunku only relented after Utusan Melayu’s Melan Abdullah (later Tan Sri) threatened to publish the headline Tunku mungkir janji pada rakyat (Tunku reneges on his promise to the people).

This was because he had promised in 1946, before leaving for England to complete his law course, that he would return and fight for independence when he passed his exams.”My father asked Melan to give him a month. After two months of waiting, Melan went to see Tunku. The Tunku asked for another month.”When that too was up, a fed-up Melan went to see him again and said he had no choice but to publish an article with the heading, Seorang Anak Raja Tidak Mahu Membela Rakyat ( A prince does not want to fight for the people).”

The Tunku then said that he would consider the request on one condition — that he had the total support of Umno and that it would be full independence and nothing less.

“He felt independence under British protection would only benefit a few and not the masses,” Tunku Nerang, 74, said. What probably clinched it for the Tunku were the “voices” he heard in court in Alor Star one day.

“He heard voices calling out ‘Putra’, the name his father, Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah of Kedah, used to call him.

“Tunku couldn’t see anyone calling him. All he could hear were voices,” Tunku Nerang said.

After the case was over, the Tunku went to his father’s room in the old palace nearby, sat in his father’s rattan rocking chair and fell asleep.

“He then dreamt that his father had said, ‘Putra, belalah rakyat (Putra, fight for the people). Tunku woke up then but since he was very tired, he fell asleep again.

“This time it was Indian nationalist Mahatma Gandhi and former Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru who he saw in his dreams,” said Tunku Nerang.

His father, he said, took this as a sign that it was time for him to do something. He left Alor Star by car and arrived in Kuala Lumpur at 1am.

He went straight to Melan’s house in Kampung Baru and told him to see him the next day.

Melan did — and the Tunku told him that he would accept the post of Umno president.

“And that was how my father, proposed by Bahaman Samsudin (the late Tan Sri who was minister of justice) and seconded by Melan, was voted in as the president of Umno to replace Onn at the Majestic Hotel Roof Garden in 1951.”

Like the British aristocracy, Tunku Nerang was also expected to enter the military. So in 1954, he was sent to India to enrol in the Military Academy in Derahdun.

That was how he came to fly the Malayan flag at the Malayan High Commission in New Delhi on Aug 31, 1957. Also present at the ceremony were Nehru and his daughter, Indira Gandhi.

“I was very proud to raise the flag, as it had the markings of a full and truly independent country, not a British protectorate, besides the fact that independence was achieved without the shedding of a drop of blood,” he said.

That wasn’t the only occasion that Tunku Nerang raised the country’s flag. On Sept 16, 1963, he once again raised the flag, but this time it was at Stadium Merdeka — and the flag was the Malaysian flag.

In December 1958, Tunku Nerang returned to Malaya and joined the Federation Regiment where he remained until 1967, when he opted out for a career in business.

“My rank was that of captain when I resigned. They offered me the rank of major but I refused. My father was very disappointed as he wanted me to continue serving the nation.

“He disapproved of my venturing into business as he believed business and politics should not mix.” Since he was the prime minister, he did not want me in business at all. He believed the mixing of politics and business would lead to abuse. He believed one should never enter politics to make money.” This principle was something Tunku lived and died by, said his son. Tunku was a rich man when he entered politics, owning rubber estates and shop houses in Penang and Alor Star, most of which he sold to finance Umno and to win independence.”

After being in politics for 15 years, my father ended up much poorer than when he entered politics.”I am very proud of my father as a leader, but as a father, he never had time for me and my sister, Tunku Khadijah.”

Tunku Nerang’s mother, Mariam Chong, was Tunku Abdul Rahman’s first wife. She died of typhoid and malaria a month after he was born in Kuala Nerang in 1933.

“The Kuala Nerang people’s dialect was such that they would look at the full moon when it was bright and say, ‘amat nerang’.

“So my father decided to name me Tunku Amat Nerang. He said I was supposed to be very bright.” But Tunku Nerang was not fond of that name as the Chinese at that time would call their drivers, Amat. “So when I was 12, I changed my name to Tunku Ahmad Nerang in my identification card.”

Tunku Nerang used to drive his father around while he was campaigning for the federal elections. He recalls an incident in 1953, when after a long and tiring day of campaigning, a hungry Tunku and Tunku Nerang returned home past midnight to find nothing in the house to eat. I searched the kitchen and all I could find was one egg. I boiled it and then I went to my father’s room and knocked on the door. He opened it and asked me what had happened.

“I told him I had searched the kitchen and found one egg which I had boiled. I told him I had cut it in half and that he could have one half. Tears rolled down his face and he patted my head and told me I could have the whole egg,” he said. Tunku Nerang’s wife, Datin Liliana Nerang, described the Tunku as special in many ways.

“My father-in-law had a way about him. When he talked to you, he would make you feel very special. We would chat about everything, from football to current affairs,” said the retired lawyer.

Added her husband: “This year we are celebrating 50 years of independence. I hope and pray that all the races in Malaysia will live together in peace and harmony, something which my father really cherished and believed in all his life.”

Merdeka stamps galore

In less than 2 weeks we will be celebration the 50th Anniversary of our nation’s birthday. Around this time, there are many articles relating to this event being published in the local media. One of them is on the Malaysian stamps issued pertaining to Merdeka and The Star today has an article about this exhibition at the Penang Museum.

Just wondering why a similar exhibition is not held in Kuala Lumpur. After all, this is the nation’s capital and the bulk of the collectors are based here. Over to you, Pos Malaysia.

Merdeka stamps galore

PENANG: An array of first-day covers and stamps released to commemorate Merdeka on Aug 31, 1957 are being displayed at the Penang Museum.

The historic stamps and covers, some from private collections, will be exhibited for a month on the first floor of the double-storey museum in conjunction with the 50th Merdeka Anniversary Philatelic Exhibition 2007.

Engrossed: Visitors John van Langeveld and his daughter Linda admiring some of the Merdeka collections at the museum yesterday.

“Although the covers and stamps are not rare collections, we felt that the exhibition is meaningful because most of the younger generation did not have the opportunity to see the commemorative stamps released 50 years ago,” said one of the exhibitors, Lim Ken Beng, who has 30 official Merdeka Day covers and 50 unofficial covers.

Two of his framed official Merdeka Day covers are displayed at the museum.

“The most important collection is the Merdeka Day cover with official cover bearing the government emblem,” said Lim, an engineering manager who started collecting stamps about 30 years ago.

The exhibition is jointly organised by the Penang Museum and Penang Philatelic Society, and sponsored by Pos Malaysia Bhd.

The society’s oldest active member Abdul Salaam Mohd Anver said the 10-cent Malaya stamp bearing the portrait of Tunku Abdul Rahman was now worth RM6.

“The original cover could cost about RM100 each,” he said.

Moving House

Spotted this moving item in the NST today:
This is gotong-royong at its best!

Moving House

Moving home: When most of us move house, we pack our furniture and household items and hire a lorry to take them to the new location. But farmer Abu Hasan Ahmad was so attached to his home, he decided to take the whole house with him when he had to move. “We have lived at the old site for more than 20 years, but now we want to be closer to my mother-in-law to take care of her.” The 56- year-old padi farmer said several village elders got about 150 villagers to help with the “big move“. Besides helping to carry the house half-a-kilometre to the new site, the villagers also took part in a gotong-royong to clear the land at the new location. It took over an hour to move the house. — NST picture by Rahmat Othman

Rare Solar halo over Langkawi

Spotted this interesting report about a rare natural phenomenon in the NST today.

LANGKAWI, MON:

The sudden appearance of a solar halo (also known as the parhelic circle) above the skies of Langkawi today caught the attention of participants at the Langkawi International Dialogue (LID) as well as members of the media.

Solar Halo

Dozens of photographers covering LID hurriedly snapped away at the halo encircling the sun at about 2.40 pm, before it disappeared about 20 minutes later.

The photographers were not the only ones captivated by the phenomenon.
Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, who is here attending LID, was also among the crowd of onlookers admiring the rare sight.

This phenomenon similar to a rainbow, except it is formed by the refraction of sunlight through ice crystals, instead of raindrops suspended in the air. The ice crystals are from cirrus clouds and have to be of the type with a large radius for the phenomenon to take place.

There must also be no wind and the sun has to be at an altitude of less than 34 degrees for the halo to to occur.

Solar Halo

Living Fossil Caught

Found this very interesting news item in the BBC News today.

Imagine a creature that survives 350 million years virtually unchanged!!

Fisherman catches ‘living fossil’

An extremely rare “living fossil” caught by a fisherman in Indonesia is being examined by scientists.

The 1.3m-long (4.3ft), 50kg (110lb) coelacanth is only the second ever to have been captured in Asia and has been described as a “significant find”. An autopsy and genetic tests are now being carried out to determine more about the specimen.

Coelacanths provide researchers with a window into the past; their fossil record dates back 350 million years.

These fish are odd in appearance, looking almost as if they have legs because of their large-lobed fins – they are sometimes dubbed “old four legs”. The blue fish can also perform headstands, hovering with their head just over the sea floor, possibly to detect food.

Scientists previously thought the fish group had died out about 70 million years ago, but were shocked when in 1938 a species was caught in a fishing net off the east coast of Africa.

Since then, more than 300 of the modern coelacanth species (Latimeria chalumnae) have been found in the waters around the Comoros Islands, which are situated in the Western Indian Ocean, and the eastern coast of Africa.

A living coelacanth (Hans Fricke/Max-Planck Institute)

Their unusual fins make the fish look like they have legs

However, scientists were surprised once again when a coelacanth was discovered thousands of kilometres away in Indonesia in 1998.

It looked similar to the coelacanths found near Africa, but genetic analysis revealed that the genomes differed by about 3.5%, and it was described as a new species called Latimeria menadoensis.

Peter Forey, a coelacanth expert at the Natural History Museum, London, said: “When the Indonesian coelacanth turned up in 1998, lots of people went out to look for more around this area, but nobody ever saw anything until now.

“The fact that another specimen has been found is significant; it confirms that this is a genuine location for another coelacanth’s population.”

A fearsome catch

Justinus Lahama, an Indonesian fisherman, caught the fish two months ago off the coast near Manado, on northern Sulawesi Island.

He told AFP news agency: “It was an enormous fish. It had phosphorescent green eyes and legs.

“If I had pulled it up during the night, I would have been afraid and I would have thrown it back in.”

Justinus Lahama

Justinus Lahama caught the fish

He took the catch back to the port where it remained alive for 17 hours in a netted pool outside of a restaurant. It was then frozen and is now being examined by scientists.

Genetic fingerprinting tests to be carried out by an international team of scientists will confirm if it is the same species as the coelacanth found in 1998.

The tests, said Dr Forey, could also help to reveal more about how and why the two species exist thousands of kilometres apart.

“The fact that the two populations are separated by this enormous gap of thousands of miles begs the question of how long ago and why they separated,” he said.

“Estimates from the genetic fingerprinting carried out on the fish caught in 1998 suggest that they separated about four to five million years ago, however if you look at the geology of the oceans, it suggests that they should have separated about 30 million years ago.

“More sequences taken from this new fish will help us to calibrate these estimates.”

Various efforts to conserve these ancient fish are underway. They are considered to be endangered and are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

On Wednesday, another group of scientists announced that they had discovered a 400-million-year-old fossil of a coelacanth fin.

The find was reported in the journal Evolution and Development.

Researchers from the University of Chicago said it had been excavated from sediments at Beartooth Butte in northern Wyoming and would reveal more about the evolution of the creatures.