Archive for September, 2009





I can’t say I know Isa Samad personally!

The only face-to-face encounters I’ve had with him was when my father died on 22 July 1996. He was the first to arrive at the Seremban General Hospital and read the Surah Yasin with my three siblings and me on the bare hospital floor. He was at the pengkebumian at the Makham Tuan Haji Said where he gave an eulogy in memory of  Dr Mohd Said, his predecessor as ADUN Linggi and the first elected Menteri Besar of Negeri Sembilan. I sent a note on behalf of the family thanking him for his kindness.

Isa actually called my father Pak Ngah as apparently he is a waris Linggi but grew up in the neighbouring constituency of Telok Kemang, Port Dickson. If he is from Linggi, then like my father he must be of  Bugis ancestry – or at least part Bugis as I am. The current Menteri Besar Mohamad Hasan is also a Bugis from the neighbouring area of Rantau. Three of the post- Merdeka Menteri Besar Negeri Sembilan are Bugis and two Minangkabau (Mansor Othman from Kuala Pilah and Rais Yatim from Jelebu). 


I grew up plying up and down the Seremban, Linggi, Rantau and Telok Kemang roads accompanying my father on frequent trips to Linggi to visit my grandmother. I would always drag along Saroja the gardener’s daughter and my Brahmin friend Manjoola. Together we climbed the rambutan  trees and plucked langsat, rambai, buah bidara and manggis with a long galah. Then while I tucked in on Tok Majidah’s Bugis pencuk daging salai, Saroja and Manjoola would savour the upih– wrapped smoked lempuk durian or cempedak rolled in coconut freshly grated on the kukur by my cousin Nab.

They were the three childhood friends I spent long hours with doing the things that girls did in those days – flying kites, spinning tops and marbles – which were not much different from what the boys did!  On the way to or from Seremban, depending on the time of day, we would stop in Rantau to be treated to the most delicious doughnuts at a Chinese kedai kopi. In the car boot were udang galah from Kuala Linggi or Pengkalan Kempas to be turned by my mother into creamy pencuk udang or swelteringly hot masak lemak cili padi. These are the wonderful memories of  much-loved children and grandchildren of beloved parents and grandparents! 

Now back to Isa! I bear him no personal grudges not knowing the man nor his private life, hopes and dreams. All I know is what I read in the papers and what I pick up from local talk, one of which is that when he was MB he was not liked by the Yang di-Pertuan Besar and the royal family for standing up to them. I remember a royal birthday celebration where he felt unwelcome and stood sheepishly in the background while the elite of Kuala Lumpur partied in Istana Seri Menanti. I felt sorry for him then as my father had had a similar experience!

 Politically one can say that he is outstanding having become the MB at an early age and served the state for 23 years. He was a Federal Minister for a short period before being found guilty of breaching UMNO party ethics – the newly branded euphemism for abuse of power and corruption. He was duly suspended for three years while his colleagues have got away with more serious offences and even crimes.

Isa may be a popular candidate who will deliver Bagan Pinang with a stumping majority to start UMNO’s return to splendour! But I very much doubt the support from the urban electorate grown much wiser with the knowledge of and exposure to the blatant wrongdoings of the UMNO hierarchy! Meanwhile UMNO’s rural grassroots base will continue to be hoodwinked by and embroiled in the corrupt activities of their branch and division committees! 

With the widely debated and wildly controversial reinstatement of Isa Samad in the Negeri Sembilan UMNO hiearchy, UMNO’s name is tarnished forever for not being consistent in pursuing its promise of reform and affirmative action on the party constitution but most of all on its members and the mechanisms by which they operate. UMNO will go down in history as the party that pledged to eradicate corruption but did not have the political will and know- how to handle the malaise of the corrupt Malays.

It will be remembered as the party which vowed to uphold the constitutionally- defined interests of the Bumiputera Malays and their language, the Malay Rulers and Islam, and ended up as the abuser of Malay sentiments and corruptor of the Malay psyche!





I’ve just heard the devastating news that Isa Samad has been named the UMNO candidate for the Batang Pinang by-election!

What must the leadership be thinking? Or are they thinking at all?

When the whole country is watching and waiting to see if the President and Deputy President are serious about their pledge of eradicating party corruption, they have selected the very person who was found guilty of money politics and suspended by the party for 3 years!

They have appallingly succumbed to the pressure from the very people who should be booted out of the party. What does this say about the integrity of the leadership!

Or is it the case of I scratch your back, you scratch my back; I hide your skeletons, you hide my skeletons – in your cupboards that is!

Some of the UMNO branch and division leaders, supreme council members and even those higher up in the hiearchy will continue to hoodwink the rural folks who are still loyal to the party and made to feel dependent on the handouts they receive! They will be beholden, terhutang budi and continue to give their votes.

But I believe the Opposition will gain ground and slander UMNO and its leadership further! I believe the support for UMNO will diminish among the thinking and rational voters!

I really hope there’ll be many more Malaysians who will think straight and place utmost importance on personal honour and dignity!





                                                          DYNAMIC MANAGERS


                                                        UK POSTAL VOTES


                                                                        BLOGGERS’ NETWORK


                                                                POLITICAL CONNECTIONS


                                                                        KETUA WANITA


                                                                        MIC SUPPORT


                                                                             MCA UNITY


                                                                              RESTU ULAMA


                                                                            KAKAK & ABANG 



                                                                            UNDI WANITA


                                              PUTERI AYU 


                                                                            YOUNG VOTERS


                                                                             ANAK  CUCU


                                                                         FAMILY TOGETHERNESS



                                                                           GRASSROOTS SOLIDARITY


                                                    PERALIHAN KUASA


                                                         WARISAN KITA


                                                                                 MELAYU LAMA 


                                                                                   I (ONE) MALAYSIA


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I’m not sure whether I’m flattered or amused by the commenter pakbelalang’s suggestion on Tun Mahathir’s ( blog posting CALON BERSIH that I’m the right UMNO candidate for the Bagan Pinang by-election in Negeri Sembilan.

Apparently, I will be accepted by the local people because my late father Tan Sri Dr Mohd Said was the former Menteri Besar of Negeri Sembilan who hailed from the neighbouring state constituency of Linggi. My academic background, it is asserted, will stand me in good stead as a credible, reliable candidate whom the voters will support. More amazing is the suggestion that I might be the future Menteri Besar.

Here goes:

Dear Tun,

I want to make a suggestion that the best candidate for BN to be considered seriously to contest for the Bagan Pinang state constituency of Negeri Sembilan is none other than Dr Halimah Mohd Said, the daugther of Tan Sri Dr Mohd Said, the former Menteri Besar of Negri Sembilan.

She was an academician aged 59 and comes from a well respected family. Her root is from Linggi and I am very confident that she will be accepted by local people there irrespective of race.

It will be smooth sailing for BN to campaign with a candidate of high stature like Dr Halimah. What say you,Tun? She can even be the potential Mentri Besar !!

Worth trying to approach her whether she is interested to contribute her service to the rakyat.

I am suggesting this to you because I know you know her family well.

I must thank pakbelalang whom I’m sure I know or who knows one of my six siblings or the whole Said family well, for having such confidence in my ability to enter active politics. He must know a little or a lot about my family culture and values to make such a bold presumption – and to none other than Tun Mahathir himself.  

To pakbelalang and to my readers I would like to say that although I have a keen interest in the political developments in Negeri Sembilan because of my father’s involvement in the post-Merdeka era and my own current interests as a socio-political writer,  my aspirations shall remain at the level of commentary and comment on, and perhaps criticism of political happenings.

Not having been an active member of UMNO all these years disqualifies me immediately both in terms of knowledge and exposure to UMNO’s political culture at the very basic grassroots level, as well as the inter-personal influence and networking essential for a worthwhile political career.

Whatever information I’ve been able to gather about state and national politics comes from reading the newspapers and the blogs and sharing bits of information with family and friends. A lot comes from my father’s manuscripts and writings which he patiently and diligently documented all those years. Leafing through them and reading the detailed entries in his diaries gives me a privileged sense of the history and politics of a past era.

In other words, I myself do not have a political base or aspiration. It’s certainly tempting to think that one can serve the nation and help to influence the lives and fate of the people in direct (political) ways. But politics is not the only option for national service!

I’d like to think that I’ve contributed in some small measure to educating the nation’s young for more than thirty years – 7 years as a school teacher and  24 years as a university lecturer. Bukan kah ini juga perjuangan demi bangsa, agama dan negara? 

Perhaps if I was five years younger I would consider it worth my while to enter the political arena and battle it out with the wolves, lions and tigers out there – not to mention the snakes, monkeys and rodents!

It would be wonderfully enriching to strengthen one’s political beliefs and ideals through it all! It would be spiritually fulfilling to consolidate one’s philosophy of life through living a life of politics!

But my vocation and calling lie elsewhere! I will continue to write! Besides pakbelalang – I’m 63, not 59! Sigh!






In the context of criminal law, “assault and battery” are typically components of a single offense. In tort law, “assault” and “battery” are separate, with an assault being an act which creates fear of an imminent battery, and the battery being an unlawful touching. Assault and battery are intentional torts, meaning that the defendant actually intends to put the plaintiff in fear of being battered, or intends to wrongfully touch the plaintiff. The wrongful touching need not inflict physical injury, and may be indirect (such as contact through a thrown stone, or spitting). This article describes the law of assault and battery as it is commonly applied, although the law may vary in any specific jurisdiction.



An assault invoves:

  1. An intentional, unlawful threat or “offer” to cause bodily injury to another by force;
  2. Under circumstances which create in the other person a well-founded fear of imminent peril;
  3. Where there exists the apparent present ability to carry out the act if not prevented.

Note that an assault can be completed even if there is no actual contact with the plaintiff, and even if the defendant had no actual ability to carry out the apparent threat. For example, a defendant who points a realistic toy gun at the plaintiff may be liable for assault, even though the defendant was fifty feet away from the plaintiff and had no actual ability to inflict harm from that distance.



A battery is the willful or intentional touching of a person against that person’s will by another person, or by an object or substance put in motion by that other person. Please note that an offensive touching can constitute a battery even if it does not cause injury, and could not reasonably be expected to cause injury. A defendant who emphatically pokes the plaintiff in the chest with his index finger to emphasize a point may be culpable for battery (although the damages award that results may well be nominal). A defendant who spits on a plaintiff, even though there is little chance that the spitting will cause any injury other than to the plaintiff’s dignity, has committed a battery.


In order to be liable for an assault or battery, the defendant must lack privilege to assault or batter the plaintiff. The following are examples of “privilege”:


Where a defendant has the plaintiff’s consent to commit an act of assault or battery, the plaintiff may not later bring a lawsuit. The most typical context for consent occurs in sports. The intentional foul in basketball, or the tackle in football, are an anticipated part of the game. While it may be possible for certain conduct to be so far outside the realm of what is reasonable to nonetheless give rise to a tort – for example, chopping an opposing player off at the knees in a football game, an action which is known to have a very high probability of causing serious and even crippling injury – rule violations which are part of standard play are unlikely to support a legal action. Consent also exists in the context of authorized medical or surgical procedures.

Police Conduct

A police officer is privileged to apply the threat of force, or if necessary to apply actual force, in order to effect a lawful arrest. A defendant who suffers injury as the result of reasonable force exerted by the police to effect a lawful arrest will not be able to sustain a lawsuit against the arresting officers for assault or battery.


A person who is assaulted may use such reasonable force as may be necessary, or which at the time reasonably appears to be necessary, to protect himself or herself from bodily harm. An act of self-defense must ordinarily be proportionate to the threat. That is, if you believe a person is going to spit on you, depending upon the context it may be reasonable to push the person away, but it would not be reasonable to hit the person with a baseball bat.

A plaintiff may be expected to withdraw from the threat, if possible, before engaging in forcible resistance. However, if the plaintiff is in his own home and the defendant is not a member of the plaintiff’s household, a plaintiff will typically not be required to further withdraw from the threat once the plaintiff has retreated to his own home.

Defense of Others

Defense of others is similar to self-defense, and usually occurs in the context of one family member protecting another. Some jurisdictions permit a defendant to assert defense of others, even where the defendant is mistaken as to the existence of a threat, as long as the mistake is reasonable. Other jurisdictions do not permit this defense unless there was an actual threat or battery against the other person.

Voluntary (Mutual) Combat

Where the plaintiff voluntarily engages in a fight with defendant for the sake of fighting and not as a means of self-defense, the plaintiff may not recover for an assault or battery unless the defendant beat the plaintiff excessively or used unreasonable force. If two people voluntarily enter a brawl, it is unlikely that either will be able to sue the other. However, if one falls, and the other takes advantage of the situation by kicking him and causing injury, that act may well be considered to be an excessive use of force which would support a cause of action.

Defense of Property

Many jurisdictions allow the use of some amount of threat or force by a person who is seeking to protect his own property from theft or damage. In most jurisdictions, there is no privilege to use force that may cause death or serious injury against trespassers unless the trespass itself threatens death or serious injury. Please note that there are some jurisdictions with extraordinarily broad laws, permitting the use of significant and even deadly force to prevent the theft of property. (Leaving aside the moral issues of using physical force to defend property, be sure that you know your local laws before applying force in such a situation.)


Some people are legally authorized to apply physical restraint or battery in order to discipline others. For example, in most jurisdictions, parents are legally authorized to apply reasonable physical discipline upon their children. In some jurisdictions, school teachers are permitted to apply a certain level of physical restraint or discipline against students. The staff of a mental health facility may have legal authority to apply reasonable restraint to prevent a patient from causing harm to himself, to others, or to property.

Merchant’s Privilege

Most jurisdictions grant merchants the right to apply reasonable force to detain shoplifters, or other persons who the merchant reasonably believes are attempting to steal the merchant’s property.



Words alone, no matter how insulting or provocative, do not justify an assault or battery against the person who utters the words.

Aaron Larson

Law Offices of Aaron Larson

 October, 2003





As a Malaysian loyal to the Malay Rulers and concerned for the dignity and prestige of the Royal Houses, I view with some disappointment the current spat between the younger members of the Negeri Sembilan and Johor royalty over the alleged assault and battery.

As an anak Negeri Sembilan who would like to nurture the highest regard for the Yang di-Pertuan Besar and his extended household, I’m deeply saddened by the unnecessary controversy that has ensued over the royal brawl.  

What appears to be a case of assault and abduction by the Johor prince’s group on the Negeri Sembilan prince and his companion has now been distracted by irrelevant issues like the demand for monetary compensation made by the Negeri Sembilan side.

It is most natural for the parents of the young princes on both sides to be devastated by the injuries and injustices suffered by their sons, especially if it is a physical one. It is only right that they seek legal redress if there has been a breach of the country’s laws, and damages or compensation if it is so decided by the courts. In this there should be no controversy. 

However, there is no excuse whatsoever for people to inflict bodily harm on one other when they are embroiled in an argument. When a weapon or firearm is alleged to have been used to threaten and intimidate it becomes a clear breach of the criminal code which the police and the Attorney General’s office must investigate thoroughly without fear or favour. The country’s justice system must be expediently and efficiently executed for the people to have confidence in it.

It is imperative too that the Malay princes and princesses fully understand the roles and responsibilities that come with their privileged positions in society. People look up to them and would like to give them the respect they deserve. But as ordinary Malaysians, they owe it to themselves and their families to conduct themselves with honour and dignity. 

As a Malay who would like to accord the highest respect to Malay royalty, customs and traditions, I’m disconcerted by the untoward behaviour of the young including those with blue blood. When we should be exemplary in showing the finest Islamic adab and adat we are inviting criticism by breaking its rules and tenets. 





31 st March, 1969 


My dear Doctor

I have received the recommendation from our election committee to the effect that I should appoint you as a Cabinet Minister rather than allow you to stay in Negeri Sembilan as Menteri Besar. There seems to be a lot of opposition to you there, in particular from UMNO members, who said you have not done much for the party. They insisted that there should be a change in the leadership in the Negeri Sembilan UMNO as Negeri is the only state in Malaysia where UMNO possesses no building of its own as its Headquarters.

If you agree to stand for Parliament, I shall be only too happy to appoint you as a Minister.

Yours Sincerely


Y.B. Tan Sri Dr Mohd. Said, P.M.N.

Menteri Besar, Negeri Sembilan




1 April, 1969

Y.T.M. Tengku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-haj

Prime Minister



Dear Tengku

After you were kind enough to meet the delegation of Negeri Sembilan UMNO, MCA and MIC members numbering more than thirty at 6 p.m. yesterday, I have only to confirm in writing my decision not to stand for Parliament and, if successful, be made a Minister.

I am unable to express in words how sorry I am to have to decline your generous offer, but there was no other course open to me in view of the strong pressure from my constituents and the present MCA and MIC leaderships to make me contest the Linggi state seat again….

With regard to the statement that Negeri Sembilan UMNO is the only state in Malaya where UMNO possesses no building of its own as its headquarters, there is of course an UMNO Building in Seremban opened by you some years ago. But this building belongs to the Seremban Division of UMNO…

With regard to your hint that I was constantly quarelling with the Ruler, I submit most respectfully this is rather an exaggerated view. Of course I have had to turn down some of his more unreasonable demands, but everything was done with the full concurrence of the whole Executive Council, as was explained to you yesterday …

Besides I had been specifically charged by Tun Razak to try and uphold the prestige and honour of the Negeri Sembilan Royal Household…

In conclusion, I would like to say that I dwell under a profound sense of gratitude to you and Tun Razak for having given me the opportunity to serve the people and the state of Negeri Sembilan in my capacity as Mentri Besar for the last ten years…

Yours sorrowfully,


Mentri Besar

Negeri Sembilan



7 May, 1969

Duli Yang Maha Mulia Yang di-Pertuan Besar

Negeri Sembilan


May it please Your Royal Highness,

Before vacating my post as Menteri Besar of Negeri Sembilan, I am taking the liberty of addressing this farewell letter personally to Your Royal Highness, and of asking your forgiveness in case I have displeased or offended Your Royal Highness during the last two years.

I admit quite frankly that on some occasions when I was admiited to an audience with Your Royal Highness, I spoke and argued with Your Royal Highness in a manner altogether too frank and direct.

This was perhaps why on the 31st March 1969, the Prime Minister openly accused me of quarelling with the Ruler (“bergadoh dengan Raja”) in front of some forty UMNO, MCA and MIC leaders who were appealing to the Tengku to retain me in Negeri Sembilan to contest the Linggi state seat for the fourth time.

I denied the Tengku’s charge and said that I had never openly quarelled with Your Royal Highness and was in fact acting in the best interests and upholding the dignity and prestige of the Negeri Sembilan Royal House, …

For the rest, I vacate my post with a clear conscience. Although the circumstances surrounding my retirement from the political arena were very suggestive of a plot or conspiracy against me, everything happened so suddenly and at so late a stage that I could not fight back with any hope of success…

I am Your Royal Highness’ humble servant,








No leader is invincible!

Whether it is in the corporate and business world, in politics and government, in cultural and religious movements, in the community and among kinsfolk – no one person is indispensable however smart he/she is and however exemplary his/her leadership qualities are; however much he/she has contributed to the group or organisation and however greatly he/she is loved and respected.

Even in families where the father is the head, the roles and responsibilities of the mother and the other members are diverse. Together they form a whole and together they function as a unit. If one member falters or fails or the head of the family dies, the next in line assumes responsibility.

Of course there are extraordinary people whose talents and skills are outstanding and whose leadership is visionary. Such leaders will carry the organisation to great heights, leaving a string of achievements and an everlasting legacy. Excellent teachers inspire confidence and breed excellence in their students. Dedicated parents raise children who are outstanding whether it is in their scholastic achievements or in their personality traits. 

A true leader builds a strong and loyal team and nurtures the strengths of each member of the group and each echelon in the organisation. He/she lays down the principles, sets the targets and determines the pace for  the organisation to achieve its goals and realise its vision in the most effective and efficient ways.  

So it is whether the person is the manager of a corporation, the director of a government department or the head of a political party. Assuming a leadership position requires you to trust and to delegate and to mobilise your team for the general good. No person can do it alone or has the capacity to do so! No leader should selfishly pursue his own ambitions at the expense of his team!

The leader of a government must be relevant for the times and the needs of the nation and its people. He/she must not only have the resilience to face the greatest challenges and withstand the harshest adversities in the country’s development, he/she must have the courage and dare to take the toughest stands and the most unpopular decisions for the common good. Both praise and criticism must be handled with equanimity for the responsibilty to the nation and its citizens are great indeed. 

For a country’s leaders to cling to power when they sense the people’s displeasure and a shift in loyalties is foolish indeed! That politics has its ups and downs is a truism that must be taken more seriously. Playing political games at the expense of the people you lead is dishonourable and shows a lack of principles and integrity. When the support is gone politicians must realise that their time is up and they must pass the baton on to the next in line.

When the first elected Menteri Besar of Negeri Sembilan Dr Mohd Said was asked by the then Prime Minister not to contest the state seat in the 1969 election on the grounds that he had lost the support of  the major state UMNO divisions, he acceded. He knew that his time was up although he had the support of the state MCA and MIC and some of the UMNO divisions. 


He submitted his resignation, turning down  the Prime Minister’s offer of contesting a parliamentary seat and the post of a federal Minister. This he politely did in a letter, but not without refuting the flimsy argument that his leadership was flawed because he had not acquired a building for the state UMNO headquarters, and that he had not acquiesced to the state Ruler’s demands.

His principled stand was that he wanted to continue serving his constituency, Linggi and his state, Negeri Sembilan. This he had tried to do to the best of his ability for ten years, with the wisest of counsel from his political mentors and government colleagues and the highest standards of integrity. If the support was no longer forthcoming then it was time for him to move on. Being a federal Minister was not part of Dr Mohd Said’s personal or political ambitions despite the power and glamour it promised.

Ultimately one has to ask what one’s purpose and mission, goals and visions, ethics and principles in life are? Whatever path one chooses, whatever decisions one makes, ultimately one has to be able to hold one’s head high! One has to be able to live one’s life with dignity!

No one is invincible! Leaders come and go but their good name lingers on!





The Bagan Pinang by election in Negeri Sembilan will mark the watershed in UMNO’s efforts at redeeming the party’s badly-battered image and reforming itself.

In the run-up to the general assembly in October the party seems to be in first gear for change. Big pronouncements have been made by party leaders to reform the party electoral system which will see major changes in the constitution. Malaysians await with bated breath to see how much change will occur at the policy level.

More importantly, we want to see how these reforms will translate themselves in the day-to-day decisions of the party hierarchy – from the top leadership right down to the grassroots. This will decide whether UMNO will regain the support that is crucial for its survival. 

If eradicating money politics is UMNO’s  most serious reform agenda, the actions and decisions of its leaders must show and do just this! If the party is really serious about cleaning up its image and regaining its flailing dignity, the calls by the party President and Deputy President must be echoed by the branch and division heads to reverberate among their grassroots supporters. 

There’s no point talking about eradicating corruption at the Supreme Council level when members revert to the status quo as soon as the meetings are over. There will be no change if branch and division leaders continue to promote their selfish, parochial agendas and pass on the same outmoded ideas on the excuse that they are promoting the Malay cause; that they are sincere in helping the people.

 There is no room for even the smallest margin of stuttering in UMNO’s discourse and stumbling in its steps. Not only are the Opposition parties on the lookout for the party’s errors and the leaders’ failings in order to slander them, ordinary Malaysians honestly want to see the changes that are promised. Those still loyal to the party’s original cause want to be able to hold their heads high in speaking up for it even at the expense of being branded archaic.

The choice of candidate for the Bagan Pinang by election is important not only for the integrity of the Negeri Sembilan UMNO leadership but for the party as a whole.  To put up a candidate who is certain of getting the majority votes is undoubtedly the main consideration in any elections. To have a popular figure as candidate will stave off some of the incursions made by the Opposition. Granted UMNO and Barisan Nasional cannot afford to lose another by election having lost all but one recently.

However, the choice of a candidate who was suspended for party misdeeds  is hardly the way to go if you want to restore your credibility. Besides confirming the public perception that UMNO is all talk and no walk, it will provide bitter ammunition for character attacks which will tarnish the private and public image further.


Of course Tan Sri Isa Samad has nothing to lose. He is a veteran politician whose prowess has been tested as the state Menteri Besar for more than twenty years and as a Federal Minister later. His loyalty to the Negeri Sembilan UMNO and to the Malay cause they represent is indisputable. Indeed he has done more than his share of good work!

However, if the greater good of UMNO and the Malays constitutes part of his political vision he must surely be humble enough to step aside and support a less controversial candidate.

For UMNO’s sake sacrifices must be made. So what if it looses another by election! At least it would have tried to maintain party honour and Malay dignity!





101 Gedong Lalang was the house my father built for retirement on an abandoned tin mine overgrown with lalang. I suppose that’s why the area is called Gedong Lalang located just beyond Ampangan, the bigger and better known Malay kampung in Seremban. Beyond Gedong Lalang  is Paroi  which marks the entry into the snaky road to Kuala Pilah, one of several Minangkabau strongholds in Negeri Sembilan. In this district is the royal town of Seri Menanti – home of the Antah and Melewar clans.

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Teratak Jasa, as my father’s cottage was called, is a combination of two syllables ja and sa which were part of my parents’ names ( Khadijah: ja + Said: sa ). The alternative saja was rejected after much deliberation because  Teratak Saja would have sounded too falsely modest. Jasa was thought more appropriate in representing what service to the government and the country meant in those days. Besides, though modest in size and cost Teratak Jasa was huge in spirit as it is to this day long after Said and his beloved Jah have gone.

This was where the family moved  to after 4 Lake Road. From the colonial bungalow originally built for the British Adviser in the rolling hillocks and dales of the Seremban Lake Gardens later named Taman Tasik , we moved to the Malay kampung house set in the derelict lalang manufacturing field. I was the only daughter whose wedding was held in a humble teratak in Gedong Lalang, four of my sisters having celebrated their nuptials with distinguished government guests in the glamour of the government residence.

The small plot of land may have cost a paltry sum even in those days,  dust cheap by today’s inflated land prices but the wooden house which was modelled after his ancestral Bugis home in Linggi was my father’s pride and joy. He planned its design meticulously,  incorporating the concepts in Malay traditional living – anjung, rumah tengah, rumah dapur each slightly higher or lower than the other making for a rather interesting layout connected with steps. He supervised its construction diligently, dragging us there on regular visits after work or in the weekends.

And so the family lived here and watched Gedong Lalang grow first  at a snail’s pace but picking up later when retirees wanted an affordable piece of land to build an affordable home with their hard-earned government wages and pensions. And so we acquired new neighbours some of whom were old neigbours, and life settled steadily in the neighbourhood.

101 Gedong Lalang progressed slowly too as my father acquired the adjacent back lot to have bigger grounds for the herb garden and the fruit trees which my mother tended to besides the hens and roosters. There was room now for their own expanding brood to stay during the holidays- for the menantu menantu to park their identical volkwagens and for the cucu cucu to aim their fancy football kicks and shuttlecocks without knocking down the stilts.

The main house extended too as we added another anjung, a bigger dapur, another bilik and a rumah luar to accomodate the seven families that came on regular visits. The bawah rumah surrounded by stilts and popular with the over-fed family cats was soon to be cordoned by a brick wall and floor-tiled with mosaic. This provided a large sitting area where the ladies sewed or weaved their crochet and tatting in-between downing sticky hot black kopi or milky teh and munching on kuih kodok and pisang goreng.


Meanwhile my father faithfully wrote, cursive in his diary every morning without fail and on his tatty typewriter in the late afternoon after a without-fail siesta. While the women of the house chatted and cooked, and cooked and chatted, he read without fail. 

Life was literally and figuratively simple and sweet as we tucked into mouth-watering dodol, baulu and kuih bakar  painstakingly made over firewood, charcoal or sabut- laid stoves and ovens. Life was also hot and spicy with each helping of asam pedas, masak lemak cili api, sambal tumis and rendang expertly prepared by Saminah and Yam, strictly supervised by my mother!

It was a blissful time!

September 2009