Saturday, January 15, 2011

Announcing Changes

A broadcaster’s life has been considered as glamorous but when the occasions arise it could affect one’s life and future. We will overlook the glamorous part and look at the extreme when the announcer was tasked to announce changes to the governing of a nation.

The latest is the fall of Zine el-Abidin Ben Ali the long time President of Tunisia on Friday 14 January 2011 following a popular protest in Tunis the capital of Tunisia. He had the dubious distinction of being the first Arab leader to be overthrown under such condition. The national TV broadcaster who made the announcement Abeer Madie al-Halibi quoted part of a poem “and the people wanted life, and the chains were broken” and continued to mention that it would serve as a “lesson for countries where presidents and kings have rusted”. It is a prophesy that could reverberate in the Arab World. The media was quick in dubbing it as the beginning of the "Arab Spring"

Nearer to home changed did take place in different form. When the Communist Party of Indonesia PKI wanted to take over the country, one of their first targets was the national radio network of Radio Republik Indonesia. They managed to reach the main continuity room of RRI, the pulse of radio broadcasting on the air at that time. At gun point on the head they forced the duty announcer Dahari Oskandar to read the declaration of the take-over. Better known as “Os” the broadcaster coolly read what was given to him. That task affected his life for many years. Later he and his family found their way to Kuala Lumpur and Os spent many years at the Indonesian broadcast of the Voice of Malaysia as our key announcer. He is a pleasant hard working man and never complains about burden of work. His voice was husky and presented the programme very well. When I left VOM in 1980 he was still there but later when I went to Jakarta for some work I saw him reading the news over TVRI and made contact through mutual friend. Os told me the trauma of his “unpleasant experience” was in the past and that he could now meet his friends and relatives without any feeling of guilt as in the old days.

At home the nearest experience I had was the separation of Singapore from Malaysia. The formation of Malaysia was on 16 September 1963 when the people of Sabah and Sarawak agreed to join Malaya and Singapore under Malaysia. Singapore was having problem adjusting to the new federation. On 9 August 1965 without the representative from Singapore the Malaysian Parliament passed a bill favouring separation of Singapore 126-0. I was in our office at Federal House that morning when the news came and was asked by En Tahir Ramli to assist in the wording of the announcement as special “news break” over the Malay Network, the only Radio Malaysia network on the air at that time. Tahir read the announcement in his cool style which reverberated throughout the country. That afternoon in a live press conference Lee Kuan Yew declared Singapore a sovereign, democratic, and independent state. In tears he told his audience, “For me, it is a moment of anguish. All my life, my whole adult life, I have believed in merger and unity of the two territories”.

There are many such happenings throughout the world. It will continue to happen until we co-exist with each other peacefully.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Rewarding the Tiger

At the end of 2010 the Malaysian football team that went by the name of “Tiger Malaya” at last gave great satisfaction to Malaysian football fans who were craving for victory by coming out winner of the AFF Cup at the regional tournament for Southeast Asian countries (ASEAN).

The whole country was gripped by their exploit reaching the two legged Finals against Indonesia, many considered as arch rival in sports, which turn into some sort of political and cultural ranting echoed well after the event was over.

The country was rewarded a public holiday on the last day of the year 2011 by the Prime Minister. The detractors jumped on this as a populist political stun of the governing party. Anyway it was a most welcome holiday for majority of Malaysian who incorporating it into a long weekend of preparation for the school going children.

At last football is getting the long awaited attention. As usual there were immediate talks of rewards for the team either in monetary form or in kind. Even the conservative Menteri Besar of Kelantan jumped on the bandwagon by announcing that the goalkeeper, a member of the state team, will be rewarded a house for his exploit in the national team.

There were questions on the virtue of rewards for winning a minor tournament. I feel the team and its members deserve them as an incentive to perform better in future. It is an impossible dream to win the FIFA World Cup as Malaysia has never qualified to be in the final tournament since it participated about half a century ago. We have never even qualified for the Asian continental qualifying round. The national body FAM should concentrate towards this.

Malaysia finds it so difficult to qualify for the final tournament of the Asian Cup limited to 16 teams of the continent. Success at qualifying for the Olympics at Munich and Moscow was a distant proud memory. We did play at Munich with mix success but never went further than the group matches. We can forget Moscow as the country was among those that boycotted the Games there.

Malaysia did well at time in the Asian Games but never good enough to be in the Final. It was up and down at the SEA Games and we won the last one a year back at Phnom Penh. It was almost the same team that won the AFF trophy.

The two victories at the regional level is a coup of sort for the “Tiger” to claim the no 1 spot in Southeast Asia. Still that is not good enough to be so at the FIFA ranking list (15 December 2010) which placed Malaysia in 5th spot among the Southeast Asian countries. Thailand leads at the 121 spot, followed by Indonesia 127, Vietnam 137, Singapore 140, Malaysia 144, Myanmar 149, and the Philippines 150.

FAM has to work a plan to move the Malaysia football team ahead of the pack and break the psychological barrier to be among the top 100 countries in the world before talking of grandiose scheme.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Diary

The days of the diary are bleak.

I have been looking for a descent diary for the last few weeks and finally got one last week compliment of a good friend. I still have to acquire one for my wife who wants to be reminded of her various appointments at the hospital, friends and invitations.

Normally I would go to the shopping malls and supermarkets where they would be laid out on a special counter but that’s not to be for this year. I went to several bookshops and stationers who said the supply did not arrived. Finally I decided to look up at the Mydin Hypermarket in USJ while I shopped for something else. True enough the special counter was there together with the hard to get wall calendars with the majority of them being tailored for the Muslim. That suit us fine as we are interested in knowing the Muslim dates, prayer times and the quotes from the Quraan among other things. They were going at a discount.

This makes me wonder the reason for it being so scarce this year. The office workers are supplied by their employees to keep track of their activities but ordinary folk too need to keep track of theirs too. Perhaps the suppliers and printers find it not profitable venturing into this. It could be for economic reasons that the private enterprises are limiting their expenditure on this item to save costs. Obviously it is related to the world economic condition which has not improved from the recession.

The internet could be another reason. Some websites are supplying their own calendars and diaries as a way of keeping being visited regularly. Face book (FB) even included birthdays and event reminders which seem useful and popular among its users, making the diary irrelevant.

With the laptops, notebooks and the mobile gadgets in hand everyone seem to be hooked to them and there is no time to jot down and look up a diary anymore. Everything can be done via the internet and the facilities it provided.

Obviously the golden days of the diary as a writing tool are bleak with the onslaught of the internet but I am not saying goodbye just yet to the diary.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sports Broadcasting Rights

I am happy to note that the New Year started with a lot of interests in Sport in the country. The three sports that came into focus are football with the success of the “Tiger” squad at the AAF Cup tournament, the regressive news at the badminton court with the sudden resignation of Misbun Sidik as the chief coach of the singles national players, and the reported news that P.Arivalagan has been dumped as national karate coach in a surprise move by the Malaysian Karate Federation (MAKAF) favouring a foreigner from Iran.

The public through the media are very concern with the development and the future of the three sports. There is not much news on the Tiger’s future except for the worry where the players are going to earn their livelihood especially the “stars” of the team, some of whom has been reported are going to move to the professional teams in the neighbouring countries. Meanwhile FAM was busy tying up contracts on the future of tournaments under its jurisdiction with satellite and pay broadcaster ASTRO. This is an interesting development as the contract is tied up to the marketing of the tournaments by the broadcaster. I followed the announcement which was repeated incessantly by Astro indicating a successful foray and coup into the local football scene fortifying its position in local sport by introducing several channels to the effect lately.

No one seem concern on how the ordinary folk who don’t subscribe to the pay TV. I noticed FAM spokesman did mention as footnote that the satellite broadcaster will deal with the terrestrial broadcasters. There are two such prominent broadcasters in the country, the national public broadcaster RTM and the commercial private entity Media Prima (which has in its stable TV3, ntv7, tv8 and channel 9). It is interesting to note that all the broadcasters have close working relationship as the terrestrial broadcasters are beamed over the ASTRO satellite channels.

I noticed lately there was close working relationship between the three entities in the field of sport coverage with interchanges in programme materials. This is a good development in a small country with limited resources. I noticed most of the local big events has been covered by RTM with its superior infrastructure for outside broadcasts, and the signal has been utilised by the co-broadcasters, a wise move in saving expenditure, manpower and utilities.

I believe Astro will extend its broadcasting right to both terrestrial broadcasters favouring RTM for its proven commitment in sports coverage, programming and future planning. Further RTM has studios, facilities offices and staff in every state of the country. In Sabah and Sarawak RTM coverage extended to other towns and remote areas with its local representatives.

Whatever the future lays we hope the ordinary Malaysian all over the country especially in the interior and remote areas will get to watch their sports heroes in action live via the free TV broadcasts.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Happy New Year

I started the new year by having breakfast with my old friends Zulkarnain Hassan and Tengku Mohd Ali (Pok Ku) at our  favourite prata restaurant Mehran in Jalan Ipoh KL, reminiscing old times and updating on old friends. Pok Ku was kind enough to supply each of us with a pocket diary for the new year which will be very helpful to remind us of future events and appointments which come far and between in our golden years.

In the old days when I was working, the department supply the diaries to keep us abreast with our appointments. At the end of the year most of the public agencies and the private sector would be pouring their diaries and calendars in excess which came in handy as gifts to our closed ones and good friends who were not fortunate to own one. This year I am waiting for the usual calendar from another old friend Haji Yusof Awang.

I got strings of New Year greetings through the short messaging service SMS as well as the internet’s Facebook. The FB is quite handy with reminder of friends’ birthdays.

Being a retiree I don’t have ambitious resolutions for the New Year but to continue with what I have been doing all these days and hoping to be able take better care of my health and faculty. I also wish and resolute I could be a better person to others.

I strongly believe this could be a better world if each and every one stops speculating and rumour mongering. Let us talk with facts and figures, do our best not to distort them.

Looking forward to a better and peaceful world with the coming of the New Year.