Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Dato Dr Sharom Ahmat

Dato Dr Sharom Ahmat was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Academic Affairs in 1979. He interviewed me in California when I was in 3rd year university in 1979. I then joined USM after I completed my MSc in 1982. He remembers me because I was late for my interview that day and was the last to be interviewed and he waited till I appeared, and said never mind because I had a class. I had informed him earlier before he arrived on campus that I had a class and maybe I could not make it to the interview. After I graduated with my MSc, I reported for duty to him at USM Penang campus on 28 june 1982. This is my first and last job, in shaa Allah. I met him again at the Penang Story Lecture at the E&O Hotel on 18 August 2013.

Penang Story Lecture 17-18 August 2013

Berita Harian, 10 September 1970, Page 2
Persaingan terbuka, menurut Dr. Sharom Ahmat

Public Lecture

Dr Albert Stanley McKern (1885-1945)-- a Penang Doctor in Myth and Reality

Date: Saturday, 30 November 2013
Time: 3.00pm to 5.00pm
Venue: Lone Pine Hotel, Batu Feringghi, Penang.

Invitation by donation only, PHT Member RM30 nett, non-member RM50 nett.  Tea will be served!
Proceeds to the Penang Heritage Trust. 
Contact +604-264 2631 or email info@pht.org.my before 26 November 2013. Open to 60 pax on first come, first serve basis!
Join PHT as member today to enjoy the special discount, visit www.pht.org.my to download the membership form.     

An announcement in 2008 that Sydney, Yale and Edinburgh Universities had received a multi-million dollar bequest from the estate of Dr A.S. McKern drew public attention to this Australian physician who spent the inter-war years in practice in Penang.  Dr McKern’s death in a Japanese internment camp in Sumatra contradicted the widely held belief that the popular doctor had remained hidden in his Tanjung Bungah house during the Japanese occupation. This talk draws on archival records and wartime internment diaries to lay to rest the myths surrounding Dr McKern’s final years while at the same time recalling his remarkable career and legacy.


Leslie James
Born in Scotland Leslie James is a retired Canadian diplomat with long experience in Asia Pacific, including two assignments at Canada's mission in Malaysia. A graduate in modern history and modern languages from the University of Toronto, he speaks Malay/Indonesian and has resided in Kuala Lumpur and Penang with his Malaysian-born wife for the past fifteen years. A writer and speaker on Malaysian historical subjects with an interest in local and regional military history, he is a member of PHT, Badan Warisan Malaysia, the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society and the British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia. He has been editor of the PHT Newsletter since 2005.

Michael Rawlinson
Born in England, Michael Rawlinson is a retired Hong Kong civil servant with experience in Asia. A graduate and instructor of what is now known as the Hong Kong Police Academy, he has resided in Penang with his Penang-born wife for the past eight years. A speaker on Asian historical subjects with an interest in local and military history, he is a member of Penang Heritage Trust, the Hong Kong and Malaysian Branches of the Royal Asiatic Society, the Royal Society for Asian Affairs and the British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia.

Organisers: Penang Heritage Trust & Think City  |  Venue Sponsor: Lone Pine Hotel, Penang
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PHT ordinary membership RM50.00 admission fee RM60.00 annual fee
Life membership RM1,000.00 | New! Youth membership RM30.00 admission fee RM30.00 annual fee
Donations are tax exempted.
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Thursday, 21 November 2013

Haiyan Aftermath

The Philippines experiences some 21 typhoons a year. Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines on Friday, 8 November 2013. Less than 2 weeks on (today is 21 November 2013), we still hear news of widespread disaster and the victims are trying their best to continue living under very trying conditions. Children cry everywhere. The people are left hungry in the cold, scrounging among the rubble to find anything edible or useful. Temporary shelters on broken buildings and zinc sheets shade some fortunate families from the rain. Some neighbours have drowned and perished right in front of the ones alive today. Rotting bodies lie by the roadsides in plastics mortuary bags, awaiting mass burial. Mass burial is slow as there are not enough hands to assist. Hospitals cannot operate as they are in ruins. The Filipinos depend on outside aid to make life good again. When can all these end? I don't know. It may take more than 2 years, that's what the experts say.

Why did typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines?

In Facebook, there is a video that tells what happened before typhoon Haiyan struck. It showed the grievances of a group of people with kopiah - they are Muslim men. They were complaining that some non Muslims had come to use the mosque when they prayed. Then the mosque was demolished by bulldozers and burned. After that incidence, typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines.

Was typhoon Haiyan a wrath of God?

People have mixed feelings about Haiyan. To the Muslim mass, Haiyan was 'wrath paid in cash' and others reserved what they thought about Haiyan. It is very painful to view entire videos and TV programs about the aftermath of Haiyan in the Philippines, but there are lessons human beings need to learn ie, to respect others and their faiths.

What can we do about Haiyan's victims?

The Malaysian Government has sent its army to assist. They include the army field hospital. But that was in the part of the Philippines least hit by Haiyan, so it is easy to put back the state to normality. Tacloban was hardest hit and most featured in many TV programs and in the news. I am surprised to come to know that there is so much wood and wooden articles among the rubble. There is very little remains of brick structures. I don't know how long it will take for Tacloban to fully recover. I suppose plastic tents and temporary small wooden homes will help. There should be satellite photos of Tacloban before Haiyan, so that the people helping out would know where the roads should be repaved or rebuilt, and where temporary houses need to be set up or tents pitched. For now everything is a big mess.

Google search for 'Haiyan Aftermath'

Sunday, 17 November 2013

St John Ambulance HQ, Kota Bharu, Kelantan


The St John Ambulance HQ in Kota Bharu is behind the Esso petrol pump and bordered by Jalan Gereja and Jalan Mahmud, adjacent to the Pembangunan Perempuan building and right in front of the new Hotel Perdana, and some distance from Hotel Sentosa. The main entrance is near the Hotel Sentosa side. The left side faces Hotel Perdana, and the back faces the Pembangunan Perempuan building. The building appears dilapidated but there is movement and some cars are parked on its grounds. I don't know who works there. Google map indicates the venue is that of Ibu Pejabat Cawangan Bulan Sabit Merah Kelantan.

View St John Ambulance HQ, Kota Bharu, Kelantan in a larger map

History of the Early Malay Doctors

In our medical history, the St John Ambulance is a favourite organisation and many of the early Malay doctors joined the St John Ambulance in order to help their communities and offer their expertise. They were also members of the Order of the St John (OStJ).


1908 -- establishment of St John Ambulance in Malaysia

1908-1938 -- first 30 years, activities limited to Army and Railway

1938 -- formation of St John Ambulance Brigade in major states. Members were recruited as Stretcher-Bearers and attended First Aid lectures (in due light of WWII). First Aid Posts were opened at the Divisions.

September 1941 -- introduction of Medical Auxiliary Service (MAS). St John Ambulance Brigade members absorbed into MAS; they used uniforms and held ranks.

1946 -- St John Ambulance Brigade members were paid 'war allowance'.

8 December 1941 - 15 September 1945 -- WWII; the St John Ambulance Brigade served alongside the British Armed Forces (military) and the British Malayan Railway Administration (railway). They retreated from the Japanese conquered towns and headed south to Singapore to assist in the Battle of Singapore.

14 & 15 February 1942 -- the St John Ambulance Brigade members were involved in the Battle of Singapore.

15 September 1945 -- surrender of the Japanese in Singapore.

1945 -- reoccupation of Malaya by the British Armed Forces (military).

1959 -- the St John Ambulance functioned in all the Malay states.

1972 -- the St John Ambulance Association and St John Ambulance Brigade within Malaysia, were amalgamated into one Corporation known as the St John Ambulance of Malaysia, under the St John Ambulance of Malaysia (Incorporation) Act, 1972 which was passed by the Malaysian Parliament.

St John Ambulance HQ at left and Hotel Perdana at right.
Main entrance on Jalan Gereja
Viewed from Jalan Mahmud

External links
St John Association of Malaysia - http://www.orderofstjohn.org/st-john-worldwide/australasia-asia-pacific/malaysia
St John Ambulance of Malaysia - http://www.sjam.org.my/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/St-John-Ambulance-of-Malaysia
Order of the St John - http://www.orderofstjohn.org/

HRPZ II Kota Bharu, Kelantan (4)

Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II (HRPZ II)

The casualty section is a big building with old Malay architecture and facade, and is labelled as Kecemasan. In other hospitals, it is called and labelled as Accident and Emergency (A&E). The Kecemasan building fronts Jalan Hospital. Ambulances drive on Jalan Hospital, enter through the main entrance (arch) and drive up the ramp at Kecemasan.

Site map and layout plan of the hospital. The old colonial buildings are low single-storey and with tiled roofs. The more recent additions are mixed, some are low and some are high-rise and the roof styles differ greatly. Visiting hours are posted but the parking lot is always full and the public seems to be on the hospital ground 24h. The public likes this hospital as they prefer the old low-lying buildings as opposed to the more modern high-rise complexes.

View HRPZ II in a larger map

Visiting hours for the public

The director's office building is a single white building with red roof. The director's office is upstairs on the first floor (tingkat 1). The office is very small and packed.

A hawker selling pau in front of the director's office complex. The high-rise is Wisma Persekutuan. The casualty is at left.

The new orthopaedic department (Jabatan Ortopedik) and clinic are housed in front of the casualty. The old orthopaedic clinic used to be in the old colonial building near the old x-ray unit.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

HRPZ II Kota Bharu, Kelantan (3)

Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II (HRPZ II)

HRPZ II underwent a big building project to build its multistorey day ward complex. It took about 2 years to build (2011-2013). The new complex replaced the old TB ward which used to be flooded waist-deep from before the 1960s to the early 1980s.

Old TB ward in the centre foreground (behind the parasol) and to the right of the director's office (Pejabat Pengarah). The Kelantan Trade Centre (KTC) is in the centre background. The water tank belongs to the hospital.
Old TB ward (1930-2009) (later demolished)
End of old TB ward (27 April 2009) (before it was demolished)
Water tanks of the hospital (27 April 2009)
Parking lot in front of old TB ward (27 April 2009)
Construction of the day ward near the main entrance to the hospital (31 May 2011)
Main entrance to the hospital with its wooden arch (31 May 2011)

The main exit for the hospital is at the busy intersection of Jalan Abdul Kadir Adabi and Jalan Dusun Muda. Ambulances exit here, controlled by the traffic lights.

Ambulance exit gate of the hospital
Jalan Abdul Kadir Adabi fronting the exit gate of the hospital
Traffic lights at Jalan Abdul Kadir Adabi in front of the exit gate

Turn right into Jalan Dusun Muda which ends at Jalan Pengkalan Chepa.

Two new white multistorey complexes with red roofs on Jalan Dusun Muda are adjacent to the casualty department on Jalan Hospital. They can be viewed from the traffic lights at Wisma Persekutuan and Sutera Inn.

Hospital viewed from Wisma Persekutuan, 5th floor

Viewed from Wisma Persekutuan (left) and Sutera Inn (right)

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Obituary: Prof Datuk Dr Ir Radin Umar bin Radin Sohadi

His father is Radin Sohadi @ Wak Raden, a Javanese and who was conversant in Javanese. The family lived at Kg Batu 9, Ulu Chemor in Perak. He had many children, including Radin Umar. Wak Raden was a petty trader, and bought live chickens from his villagers to sell at the market in Chemor town.

His son Radin Umar attended Sekolah Menengah Aminuddin Baki Chemor (SABC), and later Maktab Tentera Di Raja (Royal Military College, RMC) an elite military college at Sg Besi, Selangor before studying overseas in the UK. He returned and worked at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) in Serdang, Selangor. He became Dr Radin Umar, and then Professor Radin Umar.

He then joined and headed the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety (MIROS; Institut Kajian Keselamatan Jalan Raya) in 2007 as its Director.

The following year, he was the Director of the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE; Ketua Pengarah Jabatan Pengajian Tinggi) as reported in the news on 31 May 2008.

He is known to the Malaysian public as Prof. Datuk Dr Ir Radin Umar bin Radin Sohadi.


I remember seeing his photos in the newspapers and on TV. I remember the 'Radin' name. I didn't know who he was except that he appeared briefly in media and was at UPM, then MIROS and MOHE. Then there was hardly any news about him.

My eldest daughter who was then an undergraduate aerospace engineering student at UPM mentioned a lot about him but it did not occur to me that it was the same young man who had created such a great impact at his university and upon his students. He was an engineer but I'm uncertain of the details.

I have sat in a meeting with the MIROS researchers when they came to our campus in USM in Kelantan. It was then I looked up MIROS to see what it was about and its scope of research. Much later our own USM lecturer Prof. Ahmad Farhan replaced Prof Radin Umar as MIROS Director; Prof Radin Umar moved to MOHE.

Prof. Datuk Dr Ir Radin Umar passed away of liver failure on Sunday, 13 October 2013 (8 Zulhijjah 1434 Hijrah; day before Wukuf in Arafah; 2 days before Aidiladha). He is laid to rest at the graveyard up on a hill near Masjid UPM. Al-Fatihah. He leaves behind a wife and 5 children.

UPM pic


Month of Muharram

5 November 2013 marks the first day of the month of Muharram (1 Muharram 1435 Hijrah), the first month of the Hijriah calendar. However, the Prophet's Hijrah (move from Makkah to Madinah) did not occur in Muharram. The Hijrah is hooked on to Muharram for reasons. Maal Hijrah marks the new year in the Hijiriah calendar.

When dating events such as date of birth and death in Malay history, it is common to provide both the Gregorian date as well as the Hijiriah date.

The Gregorian calendar system is inexact. Because of its inaccuracy, there is the leap year in the Gregorian calendar system.

The Hijiriah calendar system is exact. There is no leap year in the Hijiriah calendar system. As such dates in the Hijiriah calendar system are accurate compared to Gregorian dates.

There are many interesting events and dates in the Hijiriah calendar system.

The first man, Prophet Adam a.s. was created on Friday and Qiamat will occur on a Friday.

Prophet Noah's ark landed on a Friday.

Prophet Muhammad SAW was born on a Monday and the Quran was first revealed to him on a Monday.

Muslims fast on Mondays and Thursdays.

There are many more interesting happenings in history.