Friday, 23 March 2012

Bukit Bunga

I will be quite busy and probably not writing much for my books. I will be involved with the community very far from where I live and work. The area is about 1 hour drive, just before Bukit Bunga. I will be involved and talking on IT since it be will around the time SKMM brings fibre to Kelantan (the infrastructure is already there). This is the last mile and I will be talking to orang kampung and in Kelantan dialect. Among the Pak Menteri who will be present (from the planned line up) is Tok Pa. His brother was with USM but has retired and moved to Putrajaya or somewhere down south.

Now we have 2 big competing universities in Kelantan - USM and UMK. USM is very old compared to UMK. UMK Jeli Campus is managed by my good friend, Prof Ibrahim Che Omar (also a previous lipids researcher like me). He left USM a few years back when UMK offered him a good post. He is the typical Kelantan man and speaks 50-50 Kelantan dialect. I think maybe because he lived a large portion of his life outside Kelantan. I am an outsider but I have lived in Kelantan since 1983, when I was asked to set up HUSM. I meet Prof Ibrahim in TESCO and sometimes at the airports in KB and KLIA. 

In Kelantan there is nothing to do. Life is plain and unrushed. There is smuggling at the border and a lot of goods get smuggled in somehow.  Well, that's why things are cheap in Kelantan night markets. The largest is the one at Wakaf Cek Yeh, which operates daily maybe after 9pm. Parking is a problem. You can get anything and everything at Wakaf Cek Yeh pasar malam. I have never been to that night market.

The river that separates Thailand and Kelantan is only knee-deep and that alone makes smuggling a favourite pastime or livelihood. Now there is a nice super neat bridge that links us to Thailand, and of course a lot of cheap motels have sprung up the last time I passed by Bukit Bunga bridge. Jeli is further up, maybe another 40 min drive. Jeli is still largely empty the last time I passed by on the way to Penang.

I don't do the planning for the proposed community event with Tok Pa et al. HUSM and Tok Pa's office are doing all the work. I am as invited speaker and the only professor, maybe. I haven't figured out what to wear and what to say for my talk yet as I usually don't prepare until the night before.

I don't like politics but I'm dragged into this one cos the stakes are very high for this 13GE. It is going to be a stiff fight of the blue scale vs the full moon. I'm neither and I couldn't be bothered to take sides, let them fight and we wait to see who wins.

There are a lot of issues for the upcoming 13GE. I have my concerns about what I heard on TV. As an academic my stand is still neutral and I give both sides a fair say (I speak for both sides). If the planning committee decides to bring in the Sultan, then I have to practise my Malay speech, especially the opening after Assalamu'alaikum. Since the event is from Tok Pa's dept, I think the full moon people will also be on site to monitor the events, Tok Pa and also me. I will write here if I'm threatened. 

I can only commit 2 hours of my time on site at the event, and after that I get my makan and I want to go shopping at Bukit Bunga. Bukit Bunga is where I shop for cashew nuts. Good bargaining skills is what you need at Bukit Bunga. For non edibles, you bargain first for 50% and then another 50%, and if you persist, minus a few RM. Food is different - you only need to bargain 3 items for RM10. Done correctly, the profit is only RM1-2 for the seller. That's the way to buy and sell in Bukit Bunga. Sometimes it is better to have the previous known prices in the handphone. That way bargaining is faster and straight to the point.

Kota Bharu is a different skill set for buying and selling.