The quiet Sunday I had hoped for turned out to be quite sensational and actually ended up with a big bang BIGBAND@UM after a big brush with RELA&COM!

At 5.30 pm I retrieved two maids from the RELA base in the Chow Kit area after going round in circles for more than an hour to locate it. Two family maids were rounded up together with 10 other women and about 40 men on the first Sunday of RELA’s new operation to nab the illegals in the city. They did not have valid identification papers with them.

My son and I witnessed what we thought was an orderly exercise managed by (i)  the plain-clothed RELA volunteers who mingled with the crowd in the Masjid India and Tunku Abdul Rahman areas, which apparently have become the haunt of illegals looking for work at the bazaars and food stalls; (ii) uniformed RELA members who coordinated the arrests, rounding up the illegals and transporting them in two caged lorry vans.

In a large hall on the first floor of the base building the errant illegals were seated on the floor in two groups facing a table of 4 RELA officers who recorded their particulars.

As my son and I were the first on the scene and we had the maids’ passports, they were the first two to be released. We were politely told to equip the maids with a signed photocopy of their passport complete with our contact number whenever they were out in the streets.

It was a relief to be spared the agony of retrieving them from the detention camp in Lenggeng where those who were not claimed by their employers after four hours were to be taken. Apparently, once in Lenggeng there would be the hassle of dealing with the Immigration Department where the paper work would take up to a week. Those without valid travel documents would be sent home.

I have only two complaints to make: (i) the RELA people were not able to give me clear directions or an address to get to their base. All they said was “dekat Masjid India” and “belakang Pizza Hut di Jalan Chow Kit” assuming I was a regular there; (ii) the lorry van which has space for 10 sitting and 10 standing was crammed with about 40 men. I can imagine the discomfort and the potential health hazard if the ride was longer or if the men were older!

The experience was certainly an eye opener to the kind of work enforcement agencies undertake to make our cities and our country a better, safer place. The work is neither pleasant and easy nor smoothflowing and clean. These men and women, many of them volunteers, need our support and our encouragement! They, too, need a pat on the back when the job is well done! 


From downtown Chow Kit I moved on to upbeat PJ for an ear opener! And listening to/ watching the BIGBAND@UM concert at my alma mater and former work place the University of Malaya, was a coming home of sorts and a Sunday treat indeed!

The Royal Concert by the UM Symphony Orchestra conducted by Dr Mohd Nasir Hashim presented a repertoire of well-known English and Malay songs and melodies translated into the Big Band style of American music of the 20s and 30s – upbeat in tempo and raunchy in rhythm!

It was wonderful to hear the stylised interpretation of  favourite songs like My Funny Valentine and You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine and rendered so well by soloist Razif Mohd, Mohd Rauzan a.k.a Roy and beautiful female vocalist Rohimi Sobeng. These Malaysians do us proud and are as talented as the Sinatras, Basseys and Bubles of the West.

But nothing beats the joy of hearing the medleys of haunting Malay tunes like Ibu, Jeritan Batin Ku and Hujan Di Tengah Hari and the more “rancak” ones Bila Larut Malam, Sejak Ku Bertemu Padamu  and Jikalau Abang Merindu being juxtaposed against the wind and percussion instruments of the American big band tradition.

Conductor Mohd Nasir was quick to assert that it is not the intention to propel or popularise a Western tradition but to recognize it as a genre in the development of the modern orchestra. Besides, big band is part of the UM music curriculum.

I must commend Dr Mohd Nasir and UM for having the academic and professional insight and foresight to move into a genre which may not be popular with the more conservative Malay music lovers who may view the scores as being too upbeat or “unMalay”! Western classical music lovers may also scoff at the renditions of the UM Orchestra which may be considered as not being elitist enough.

But as the conductor explains, giving Malay music a fresh interpretation is one way of  placing it in the global music arena and on the international stage. And I would like to add that removing the elitist traditions and constraints of Western classical music is one way of popularising serious music. Music must be accessible and pleasing to the ears of one and all.

I have one criticism to make: the dancers who accompanied the music were redundant and an unnecessary distraction which took away some of the goodness from an otherwise great performance. Not only were their movements jerky and uncoordinated, the stylised dancing was just badly choreographed! Their costumes were badly designed too!

But really – all in all I had a great Sunday!


4 Responses to “”

  1. July 14, 2009 at 6:39 am

    Love it when you let your hair down with telling and cheeky sentences such as:

    1. All they said was “dekat Masjid India” and “belakang Pizza Hut di Jalan Chow Kit” assuming I was a regular there.

    2. I have one criticism to make: the dancers who accompanied the music were redundant and an unnecessary distraction which took away some of the goodness from an otherwise great performance. Not only were their movements jerky and uncoordinated, the stylised dancing was just badly choreographed! Their costumes were badly designed too!

    I have a feeling the director watched too much of RTM locally-made “entertainment” programmes, no?

  2. 2 ninitalk
    July 14, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Hi GUiKP

    Actually I was scratching my hair out in despair as I circled Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman 6 times in the heavy Sunday shopping traffic, crawling into Masjid India twice. All these through the directions given by one maid and two RELA officers on the handphone. And admittedly, I was not as civil as I’ve made myself out to be. My son cautioned me to behave as he reminded me that these RELA men and women were only doing their job. They need public cooperation!

    But having lived abroad where the ordinary person on the street is able to give accurate and precise directions, I’m amazed at the direction-giving skills of Malaysians! In the end it was a jaga kereta boy in a seedy side lane who told me to turn right and drive until the second traffic lights where Pizza Hut was. Pizza Hut in Chow Kit Road is not exactly an important or well-known landmark!

    Re the dancers – I fail to understand why tiny dancers prancing up and down the stage set, which included a staircase, had to accompany tall, magnetic Roy. To me they looked like colourful grasshoppers (COLOURS OF MALAYSIA?) hopping around against the black ensemble of the members of the orchestra. Black and white outfits would have been appropriate for a right Royal Concert! Besides, full long skirts were what girls wore in the big band and later rock n roll eras – not skimpy short skirts!

    Haven’t I said enough!

  3. July 14, 2009 at 11:46 am

    I just went gaga reading more of your low life tale. Am meeting a group of bright young people at 12 noon shortly to pick up their brains on “community service for 20-year old armed robber”. So really must be going now. Chao.

  4. July 14, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    What I would like to mention here is Refugees are Human. Everyone can be Refugees. Sometimes, we need to share one’s life so that you can understand them. If we see only the benefits for us, we are not from human community. The world is for all human and for all living and non-living things. Not only for you but only for me. We all are human. Refugees are human being like you. We had better share our love to other before we die.


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