Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"A Rolling Stone..."

Yesterday an old friend and one time contemporary in RTM A. Aziz Ibrahim invited me to his house for tea. Another old friend Haji Yusof Awang was already there and taken for a tour of Aziz’s new house in Ara Damansara, quite near the old Subang Airport. When old friends meet as usual we reminisce of the yesteryears as well as updating ourselves of acquaintances we have not met for a long time.

Aziz has already alerted me of his intention of presenting me his newly published maiden book aptly titled “A Rolling Stone...”, an adventure of a determine man who overcame the tribulations of life to be where he is now. Although the writing on the recollection of his life experience took a short time, the publication came into reality nearly 9 years after he started. I was in the know right from the beginning when he was still staying in Bukit Damansara. He showed me relevant piece of the manuscript which he felt was of interest to me, especially the one that mentioned my name. I was happy to be part of his cause, and gave strong encouragement as there was lack of such writing.

This book is not so much about the man himself. I conclude it should be a motivational text book for all who aspire to succeed based on principle, integrity, discipline, attitude and value. Aziz has met them all and steadfastly hold on.

This book is meant for all to read and digest. It is not only meant for the novice to emulate but for those still serving they should be aware of the pitfalls of the wayward. As for the retires the writing should be taken with a pinch of salt should it reflected on their past experiences.

We have so much talk about the lack of writing on past experience of local personalities for the reading of the new and fresh in take in whatever fields. Well, here is Aziz with his experience in the public (broadcasting) and private sector. He also talked about people of varied characters he has met. So the power that be in RTM should take note and recommend to the staff that this should be a must reading for them. The writing in English should not be a detriment. In fact it should be a tool to improve their skill of the language. After all Aziz is still part of us and we should be proud of his accomplishment, especially in publishing this book of his experience.

I came to know Aziz closely when I joined the Department of Radio (Radio Malaysia) late 1963. We somehow get along very well at the office. When he got married to Zaleha in 1964 he was a devoted husband. Our friendship was more in the office and later at sports location where we did commentary and reporting. I had a change of life and new circle of friends when I was in Penang 1966-1971. We were together again when I came back to Kuala Lumpur to serve the Malay Service to take charge of the duty schedules. We were in the same rank as BA2, BA1 and PA (Broadcasting Assistant Grade 2, 1 and Programme Assistant respectively) through most of our career, and appointed to the post at the same time. It is mentioned in his writing we were together with our unhappiness at not being promoted to the last 2 posts. Anyway we did not fret over that like a child who lost his toys. Work at hand was priority for us at that time and moment.

I was dumbstruck when Aziz told me his intention of resigning and going to the then Malay Service of the BBC Overseas Service in London. We were already in the middle hierarchy of RTM. He was doing well being supervisor in the Malay Broadcast and I was replacing the late Manaf Abdullah who was called by the Almighty at a young age in the Voice of Malaysia (Suara Malaysia). That was after the Public Affairs Services was downgraded after the departure of its supremo the late Dato’ Sulaiman Alias. I was puzzled of his intention as he has 5 growing up children to take care and here he was taking a big step into the unknown. Those days security comes first. He told me of his noble ambition of doing further study privately. It was the fashion of former RTM staff taking up law when they move to London those days, the like of Zulkifli Amin. It turned later I discovered Aziz was doing marketing and advertising in his spare time. He succeeded.

I met him three times in London, two of which while having a stop over from my arduous  journey home from Montreal (1976 Olympiad coverage with Zulkarnain Hassan) Buenos Aires (1978 Football World Cup coverage with Shaharoom Shahaban). The longest and enjoyable period I had with him for nearly seven months was in 1977 (May to November) when I was selected to be a bursar of the Imperial Relations Trust IRT, a British institution that took us into the British way of life, value and culture. I discovered that it was more of an indoctrination for broadcasters, teachers or those in labour movement from the former colonies. They gave us good allowances though. I made good use of the opportunity of learning the broadcasting trade with the BBC and the private station ITV beside the humdrum of visiting the British industries and country sides which I find fascinating.

Our common interest in sports gave me the opportunity of being taken around by Aziz to watch a friendly International of the English team at the old Wembley. I missed the FA Cup Final of that year as it happened the day after I arrived and well before I met the host IRT. Otherwise they could have arranged for a ticket as they did for the Wimbledon. I had the opportunity of being at the Centre Court with Aziz to witness the English lady Virginia Wade won the title for the first time for UK after so many disappointing years. We went to several Division 1 football matches (that was prior to the present English Premier League EPL). One that I remember vividly was when the in team of the time Queens Park Rangers QPR playing at home. Of course there was the opportunity of visiting the Oval, home of cricket.

I had 3 addresses when I was in London, Aziz’s Y-Hotel at Tottenham Court Road where I normally squatted, the warden flat at the MARA Hostel in Bayswater and a relative house way out in Windsor. The hostel warden was Farid Ariffin (now Dato’) an old friend in my Penang days where he was an adult student at the USM, being a former teacher (he rose to become the President of the Students’ Union). We go there for long chat and the sumptuous Malay cooking of Kak Yam (Datin Mariam). Farid did part time with the Malay Service to supplement his income besides studying law.

London was not a lonely stay for me as I had Aziz, Farid and a few other old friends to keep company beside the busy schedule of the IRT. I even had time to catch up with an old friend during my school days in Ipoh who happened to be our neighbour then.

I found Aziz was actually a very lonely man staying all by himself in London, with his family all by themselves in Kuala Lumpur. So he immersed himself in his work, study and passion for football and sports. I suppose my short presence was part of the respite from his loneliness. It was evident he was trying to make me as comfortable as possible to understand life there. I appreciate that very much.

Then came the day of happiness when he received his diploma. He made his way back to the open arm of his family and a new chapter in life in Kuala Lumpur.

We renewed our friendship. By that time I was already taking charge of the newly created Sports Service in RTM. Aziz talent and experience, especially in football where we normally do live broadcast of the matches in England came in handy. He readily agreed when I approached him for his expertise. So I don’t have to train a rookie for the job, as another old friend Rahim Razali (Dato’) was another willing experienced hand. So I had an easy passage in that area.

His career and work load took its bearing on us. Sadly Aziz went his way.

Many may consider Aziz “A Rolling Stone...” but he is no ordinary rolling stone that gathers no moss. In his own word he said he doesn’t need the moss, “a rolling stone is even better for being well polished”. Well done Aziz.

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