Friday, March 03, 2006

What ways?

To read a book requires no big effort for me.....but to finish reading a book, it requires a really big one!

Well anyway, I managed to kind of force myself to read a book given away to leaders of the organization. Being in the “non-leader” class, I thought I should appreciate the present by completing reading it soon as possible....and that was exactly what I did.

The book (am not going to disclose it here - maybe you already have read it or just have it somewhere on your workstation/ bookrack!) is about the life of a kampung boy that became a successful businessman. Written by the author that “yearns for the nation and young people to remember our ways, so that young people not just explode in joy for the holiday that comes with the independence day, hoping that Merdeka will be celebrate with the rakyats of the past in mind, those who led lives with principled dignity and pride in building the country as it stands now”...well, that what’s it says on the paperback.

I am not a writer, neither am I a (good) researcher nor historian. It’s just what I think about the book based on my experience being raised as a “budak kampung”.

With due respect to the writer and those involved in the publication of this book, I just want to put my views on the contents of the book.

Here it goes....

The story started off quite nice, providing the introduction of kampung boy with detail of his kampung life & family....well, not really detailed but almost, just enough for the readers are able to develop a mind image of the subject and yet not being bored with minute detail of it......if you are being raised as a kampung boy it will be much easier to picture some parts of the book - it’s what we see & do as a kampung boy anyway.

The boy came from a poor family of petani and the story started the day before the independence day - a big event at the school padang and everybody was there.

The kampung life changed after that day and the boy was very sure about the importance of education and he (in that early stage) decided that he would like to go to a boarding school. He took his lessons seriously and sacrificed the time he used to spent at the sungai & bendang as a kampung boy, in fact he also had to sacrifice his mengaji sessions and make it up over the weekend, just so that he will be able to get through the ordeal in being selected into the special school that will materialize his ambition.

And of course, he was selected (only two from his kampung) to pursue his study to an English medium school and finally get a degree in the Malaya University.

The distraction started from here. As the focus shifted towards the campus life, the happenings in the campus - students being activist, probably to gain popularity & power in those days - while the progress of the kampung folks are told in spurts of events, related to the main focus mentioned.

It was in this stage of the book I realized that, this guy is really not able to see the “big picture” of the event. He mentioned he was into this activist thingy until one day when he came back from a demonstration and found the so-called “leaders” was busy chatting and having tea. He decided - there and then - not to be active in any students demonstrations again because the leaders did not “walk-the-talk” although one of the leaders (his senior in high school) asked him to cool down and invited him to have tea with them to explain why they cannot be seen in the public and especially a demonstration since the authorities have marked them and will arrest them for being the leaders/ arranging the demos. I am not sure whether the writer actually decided to drink tea with them while being explained on the issue but he sure did make it clear he did not join any demo after that - because the leaders were not there in the crowd.

What? It was never made clear whether he joined the demo because of the leader or the real issue behind the havoc. If it was because of the leaders - then the guy is a dumb dumb. Excuse me for being rude but, almost like macam lembu kena cucuk idung. If its because of the real issue then the guy was really missing the ability to see the bigger picture, if the leaders are caught who’d be leading the demo later on? Definitely not the guy since he’s so blurry on the cause of the whole fiasco in the first place! If this guy is the leader of the people back then, memang parah laa our country.....

Apparently, he “almost” become the leaders of the people too, when upon graduation he got a glamourous position in a government office. Needless to say the “our way” is already lost lah in this section of the book. it became more about his way of becoming a millionaire, starting from being a respected (and portrayed as glamourous!) government officer to become a contractor for government projects.

Of course, during that period of time any appointed leaders (or maybe also self appointed) or government officers at any rank were considered a level above the kampung folks, i.e. people like the ketua kampung, tok imam, teachers and the likes. And they have their own duties & responsibilities they have towards the kampung folks, which (according to the author) they managed to deliver. Above all, they seem to have more (monetary & land) than the normal kampung people.

Hmmm.....ok...well, got anything new to tell?

Well anyway, the kampung boy did make it clear that he climbed up the “status” ladder by being hardworking in his primary & secondary school years. In MU, he started being an entrepreneur with the influence of his room mate - a humble son of a Chinese business tycoon - who apparently was the top student in MU in his school. The kampung boy and his roomie started a small durian selling business by getting durian on weekly basis from an orchard owner in PD. They do this weekly and in one incident he saved his room mate from drowning while on those weekly picnic stint to PD. Yeah....the kampung boy have time to spend while being entrepreneur. He made some bucks and kinda supported the family, and managed to get a motorbike, which he mentioned he used to go back to kampung upon graduation. The scholarship back then must be luxurious huh? Must be...cuz in the book it was mentioned they spent their scholarship on Clarks shoes Arrow shirts and stuff.....Isn’t that equivalent to a Zara/ Raoul today? Oh boy! I sure did not have the dough to plonk on designer wear during my campus days!

The kampung boy managed to do well and got a position as a government officer upon graduation. During the same period, the kampung folks has already improved their standard of living, due to the advancement of padi planting technology adopted by the government this allowing them to harvest twice a year. People are riding kapchais now, and the kids already have their own bikes. Transistor radios are pretty common - used to be a luxury items - and televisions are introduced. In short, the kampung folks are entring a new era.

Getting a position as a government officer raised his status above the others in his kampung. He managed to save more than enough to get married to the daughter of his ketua kampung - whom he used to tutor - and he had enough balance to get a car. They stayed in Kampung Baru KL and their residence became a stop-over for relatives or kampung folks with any business to attend to in KL. After 4 years in government service, the kampung dude managed to get a house in Bangsar - rm45,000.

WOWW! I mean WOWWW!!

It was in this stage that I found the kampung boy & his wife are starting to become more orang bandar....the very the urbanized!

The position he held in the government office allowed him to see many opportunities and he finallly jumped the boat, created a company of his own, with the help of his old roomie he started chasing contracts from the government. An unfair advantage to the rest of the world, obviously.

And the story gets boring and boring from there. The company did well, and managed to keep the head counts despite economic downturn, they ventured into real estates and whatever. Started to join golf clubs to expand the business possibilities, the kampung couple now plays golfs! How fast they can adopt to a city folk lifestyle!

Well, then the drama kicks in. Bila dah berjaya tu, of course la will tend to easily lupa his Creator. A typical Malay type of trying to be a modernized & very urbanized class laa kot?! He started playing poker, and drank the devil’s piss (air kencing setan lah!), could not care less to perform the 5 times a day prayer (well infact it was never mentioned he actually abide this rule in the book...not interested to know anyway!) The wifey started voicing her concern, business went bad again but still surviving....and all that jazz you can get from the old drama minggu ini lah.

At one point, the kampung dude was busy playing poker and drinking the devil’s piss when the wifey called with a news from kampung - the parents had a serious accident. Well, that definitely would change a person to become insaf!!!!!

The couple rushed back to their kampung the same night, after that kampung boy had a dose of strong coffee to battle the devil’s piss.

And of course, the kampung boy regretted his acts.

He then joined tabligh.....which (get ready for another one) he claimed as Arqam! HELLO MR WRITER! Have you done any research before you actually start writing?!! There are differences between the Tabligh & Arqam, why and how tabligh exists goes back a long time. Anybody who went to sekolah agama or spent time at the local surau with the ustaz & iman will know about this lah.

Anyways, the turnaround happened and after a few round of outings and while he was on his way to be a reformed Muslim, the business wnet on, with the wife being in charge. The grand finale of his journey back to the correct path was when he went to perform hajj. He mentioned he paid twice the normal rate to get a better package then the normal one. Hotel closer to the Al-Haram, dedicated ustaz to the team and what else you can get from a special package. (Ghee!! for a millionaire, it was easy for him!)

Note: when we (me & my family) performed hajj, we took the normal package because our uncles & aunties & grandies could not afford anything more than what they have saved their whole life. We witnessed lots of snobbish act and talk by those in the so called special package....not saying all for them are not good but some of them are really missing the point. It just beats the whole purpose of being there in the first got money, you pay to get better treatment....but please just be humble to others and don’t look at them like they are second class/ third class Muslim, because you carry a more distinguished label on you hajj tag.

Well saudara-saudari, in the hereafter, would you be able to pay for a better seat in heaven?!

Of course, back from the pilgrimage the normal businessman schedule starts again but this time he already have a relative to run the show - engineer from a local oil gas company. Well, the business started booming back, played some stocks, buy some real estates, well you know the concept, buy low sell high. Then he talked about his trip with his good old roomie, sourcing of parts from China and other countries, the akar seruntun project with a US research company, then the bad times comes again (BORINGNYA!)

The whole book could not get more boring that that and in the end they decided to do some charity and the last part was when he donated money/ sponsorship for students in his old primary school and then the grand finale was his speech at the same school padang, where the story begins.

The first question that I asked myself after completing the book was.....WHAT WAY?!!!

I looked for the answer to that question and decided that the book is not worth buying (good thing I got it for free!) and reading. In the end it only shows:

1) People who came from kampung family can be successful - yes, insya-Allah, with some extra effort and doa.

2) Government has worked out the way for the people to progress since the early days - not going to comment too much on this but in short, yes.

3) Those early days, the people who made it through high school and get enrolled into MU (or any institution of higher learnings) will definitely make it big in the government offices.

4) These people (see above) will be have the some sort of (perhaps) unfair advantage to get business once they decide to move out from government services.

5) When a Malay is successful (or thinks he is successful) he will start to join golf clubs and plays golf,. even a housewife regardless of her educational background, as long as the business is successful OR the husband plays golf & hang around with the tycoons, she would be able to play golf almost immediately......and speak like a Mat Salleh (ok ok.... I added that one up...but its nothing new whaaat!)

6) When a Malay is successful, he will start playing the stock market(or maybe the contemporary trend would be whoever have dough and wannabee richer than everybody will play in the stock market), although he has no clear clue how to go about it but hey! there are stock player at the golf club, hang around with them and you are IN!

7) Then, when you get richer and more urbanized, you will have to drink the devil’s piss lah, baru lagi IN. The some unfortunate event will happen to your family and you will have a turn-around....extreme opposite. No need to know whether the opposite is the correct one or not, as long as it the opposite, you are doing well. As long as you think and look you abide to the religion, you are good. Then, you will realize that you will have to run your business too, and the religion would want you to strike a balance between worldly needs and hereafter. So, you can start playing golf again lah!

8) Then you go to perform your hajj, like everybody else who has the capability to do so. Well at least in this kampung boy’s case he had the opportunity to do it and he just go ahead and did it. Some people still think they ”Belum sampai seru lagi lah” !

9) Then the lament of not being able to conceive, the pressure of working and people asking about it, was mentioned in the book but no conclusion to it. Tergantung abis. Maybe it has never been a priority to the kampung boy in the first place.

10) Finally the story stops where it began - the school field. The successful kampung boy donated some money/ scholar and delivered a speech....vaguely relating to the name of the book.

The author can do better. I am in no position to say he is not a good writer, but I can conclude that the book is dull. I didn’t live my life that way and I believe not everybody lived theirs like that too.

Good thing it’s a free book...if not I would have regretted purchasing it.....

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