Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Monday, October 29, 2007
In the fishing villages of Terengganu, keroncong is the part of the fishing net where the anchovies are trapped. In other parts of Malaysia, keroncong is the sound the stomach makes when one is very hungry. Keroncong is something we all can agree the Indonesians can claim to be theirs, unlike "Rasa Sayang Eh".

I can still remember my father fiddling the shortwave radio dial trying to get an Indonesian station so he can listen to some keroncong music. If we were lucky, we could catch Gersang's "Bengawan Solo" or "Jambatan Merah" or even "Keroncong Moresko". Many years later, we are still fascinated by keroncong tunes. Listen to the various versions of "Kasih" and I am sure you will agree that the original keroncong version (even not sung by Hetty Kos Endang) is still the best.

Keroncong dates back to the 1600s. Some say it was influenced by the Portuguese music fado much like our joget was influenced by another genre of Portuguese music. Early keroncong orchestras had sitar,rebab, bamboo seruling, gong and the gamelan's gendang, kenong and saron. These later gave way to cuk (3 string ukelele), cak (4 string ukelele), guitar, violin, flute, cello, double bass and sometimes the accordion.

Malaysia used to have many keroncong groups (or sometimes called "party") but not anymore. Apart from a certain radio station in Johore, the only group that I know that is struggling very hard to keep keroncong alive is Orkes Keroncong Seri Lukisan. The members are mostly artists (painters) based in the Jalan Conlay Handicraft Center. They were fortunate to have Dr.Ariff Ahmad (former RTM and later UM staff) as their coach/mentor. Now they are good enough to be invited to play at special functions and at hotels on occasions. Half a year ago the group wrote a paper to the relevant ministry asking for help so that they can go to Indonesia and learn from any surviving "Buaya Keroncong"(Keroncong Master). They in turn will use the knowledge to keep keroncong alive and well in Malaysia.The video I am trying very hard to upload is a sample of the group's presentation. The video does not do justice to my good friend Razak (the singer) or the group. Please forgive the passers by. They apparently have keroncong in their belly and not in their heart or ears. Real keroncong fans would know the title of the song.
*Blogger Video Upload did not work for me. I had the video but no audio so I will try other methods.


I give up. I tried You Tube with the same frustrating result (no audio). The 3GP file has sound though. Sorry folks. Flash and DiVX doesnt mix well I guess.

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Monday, October 22, 2007
Many years ago a friend told me about a government officer who declined a promotion. When his colleagues chided him for the decision, the officer, a Muslim convert explained that it would be sinful for him to accept the promotion because he could not do justice to the post.His salary would be haram. His Muslim colleagues felt ashamed that they did not understand the Quran like him. But they admired his principles and his iman (faith).

Religion aside, how many people in this country really know their job? How many people really have the will, the wit and the ways to do what they are paid (or elected) to do? Do you know of any? In Terengganu, we call incompetents "dak ngopong". They can be anyone. They can be the mechanics that made your car worse or tailors that made your balls (or breasts) appeared lopsided.

Sometimes these Dak Ngopong people are the manifestation of the Peter Principle. Professor Peter said we can be promoted to our level of incompetency. It happens a lot of times. A superb carpenter would be promoted to a supervisory post. He knows how to make a superb table but he knows nuts about supervising people and people suffer. Look what happened when Hitler was promoted.

This is not to say that we should not promote anyone. What I am saying is get the best person for the job. The hadith says that if you put the wrong person in the right place, trouble follows. Remember that the next time you vote.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007
If you were a fan of Radio Malaya in the 50s, you would remember "Bangsawan Di Udara" with its unique signature tune that ended with a bell. The program 's producer was Encik Hashim Amir Hamzah (the gentleman with the bowtie below, between a young Adibah Amin and Aziz Ibrahim together with rest of the cast of the hugely popular radio drama serial "Pedang Puaka").Encik Hashim - we never called him Pak Hashim but always Encik Hashim passed away today in the early hours of Syawal. His wife, another notable Radio & TV drama personality, Noraini Hashim passed away a few years earlier.

We mourn the passing of another Malaysian Radio & TV pioneer and our heartfelt condolonces and deepest sympathy to the children and family of Encik Hashim Amir Hamzah. Al Fatihah.



Monday, October 08, 2007
I saw this unusual bunga telur at our surau yesterday. We had the Khatam Quran for the Ladies Taddarus group and we handed out duit raya to orphans, single mothers and the few aged that we could locate around Vista Angkasa. The bunga telur, ubiquitous at Malay weddings didn't have any eggs on them. The one in the picture above have jellies instead of boiled eggs. How many weddings have you been to and brought home, not bunga telur with the telur but sweets, chocolates, hand towels or silk tissue boxes? Even the pulut kuning bristling with bunga telur is now replaced by indigestible styrofoam. Don't they know that they are contravening the Trade Description Act? I guess we are used to nasi lemak that is not lemak at all and coffee without the caffiene. Some of you might have been offered Honeymoon Suites even when you bring along grandmothers.

I guess traditions are old fashioned nowadays. "Biar Mati anak, jangan mati adat" gave way to the Child Protection Act. The fear of cholesterol and depleting chicken might have something to do with eggs being replaced by other items. But let us not forget that traditions make us what we are. And they do have purposes. As an example, The red egg is a symbol of fertility. Grooms need the protein. In deference to the remaining days of Ramadhan, I shall refrain from elaborating on the aphrodisiac value of boiled eggs. Just watch "Cool Hand Luke" and you will know what I mean.

Being true to tradition and in the spirit of Hari Raya, I wish everyone Selamat Hari Raya and even if you do not know me from Adam, Maaf Zahir Batin!

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Monday, October 01, 2007

You might have seen this frog on the news yesterday. Professor Masayuki Sumida and his team from Hiroshima University made a breakthrough by successfully breeding transparent frogs out of mutant albino frogs. It was reported that even the tadpoles are transparent.

Why transparent frogs? The scientists reckoned that the frogs will make biological research less messy and traumatic. You can examine the innards of the frog without having to cut them open. Traumatised science students who had to dissect frogs would appreciate this. Professor Sumida believes in the commercial potentials of the frogs and he is going to patent them.

I am not very sure of the potentials of those frogs other than selling them to queasy science students but I hope to see more transparent politicians and public officials. Maybe some kind princesses will kiss these transparent frogs and maybe they will turn into transparent politicians. We can wish, can't we?