Sunday, May 20, 2018

"I never asked. It was you who promised".

Since being appointed as an official of a Non-Government Organisation or NGO more than four years ago, I consider my new office as my second home since I have to be at the office every working day. So I brought along a few of my personal items. Some items are left permanently at the office and some, like computer pen drives, are carried to and fro.

At the same time, another appointed official was also coming to the office but not on regular basis like me. He had a copy of the office keys and sometimes he came to the office when I was not there. I considered him as a friend until recently. 

Less than a year ago I realised one of the personal items I left at the office was missing. I thought it was taken by one of my customers. I just blamed myself for being careless in displaying that item on my table. Nevertheless, I did not give it a thought since the item was not costly.  

Afterwards, I realised another item was missing. Since this particular item was a bit costly and dear to me since I have been using it for decades I sensed something was fishy. So I asked my 'friend' whether he had seen the missing two items. The answer was no.

One day I received an SMS message from him with a picture of the first missing item asking whether it was mine. I answered yes, it was mine. He said he took it home by mistake and promised to return it soon. A few days later I found missing item number 1 right on my table the way I left it a few weeks before. 

When I met my 'friend' a few days later at the office I asked him about missing item number 2. He answered in the negative. So I beg his permission to look for it in his bag. He did not protest. 

When I opened his bag, 'bingo', missing item number 2 was there. Not only that, I also found missing items number 3 and 4 which I never realised were missing until then. So I told him the items either belong to our association or to me. Why did he take it? The least I expected of him was an apology, but he did say anything.

Later at home, I received another SMS message from him. This time he said he was ashamed of taking my personal items and added he was resigning immediately. I replied I did appoint him so it was not for me to decide on his proposed resignation. But I coaxed him to reconsider his decision. 

I told him what happened was between us and nobody else should know. But he was adamant and one day he came and gave me his copy of the office keys and just left. But I still called and texted him to reconsider. After a few days of coaxing from me, he asked for the keys back. So it was back to normal for both of us.

Things went smoothly between us until a few weeks ago. I came to the office as usual and he came a few hours later. When the time came for me to return home he was still there doing his work. 

After a few hundred meters on my way home riding my scooter, I realised the pen drives I used to carry in my trousers pocket were missing. I knew I brought them to the office that morning and I had been using them. So I returned to the office and told my 'friend' about my predicament. After being satisfied that the items were not in the office I scoured my earlier path. After finding nothing I returned to the office.

It was the office's turn to be scoured. I even asked permission from my 'friend' to open his bag. My thought was I might accidentally put the pen drives into his bag thinking that his bag was mine. Eventually, I found what I was looking for near the office's switchboard. I must have dropped them when switching off some lights while pulling my scooter keys out of the trousers pocket. So I waved my 'friend' goodbye again.

That night I received another SMS message from my 'friend' saying he was resigning again. He said I have opened his bag for the second time and he felt very bad about it. He added that I still have the thinking that he is a thief. I immediately apologised and this time instead of coaxing him I begged him to reconsider.

A few days passed and we exchanged phone calls and SMS texts, but he was adamant in resigning. He even said and texted in black and white that he would pay back whatever allowances he had received from our association. After discussing with our association's head I asked my 'friend' to tender his resignation in writing. That he duly did while at the same time returning the office keys again.

After that, I felt it was my turn to turn the tables on him. I texted him asking for the money he promised to return. At first, he replied for me not to worry because he will pay back every 'sen'.  When I asked again he replied he would refer the matter to a lawyer friend of his.

The last text message I received from him was that he had seen his lawyer friend and the lawyer told him he did have to pay back anything.

To this, I replied "The association never asked you to return any money. Neither did I. It was you who promised to pay back. Now you are going against your very own words. I am still keeping your words in black and white on my phone".

Sunday, May 13, 2018

"This is the only English I know".

I am delighted that Tun Dr. Mahathir, our 7th Prime Minister had been giving most, if not all, of his press statements in the English Language.  The reason is understandable because he was facing both the local and international presses.

From what I saw in the local media a few people were not happy seeing Tun Dr. Mahathir talking in English. But imagine him giving statements in our National Language which is Malay. Then afterwards the international press would ask our local press for translations. What if the wrong translations were given?

I got sick watching our ministers and top government officials mixing Malay and English in sentences. To me, I'd rather see them talking Malay in full or English in full.   

Earlier during my working days, I and my office mates talked in English most of the time. Then one by one of my mates retired and they were replaced with people who hardly talk English. To make matters worse my boss who was racist and hated English talking people would scold me if I talked a word of English to him. 

I had no choice but to find people outside my office who could talk English. Maybe through this common thing, I discovered my best friend W as mentioned in my previous blog post. 

I would try to talk in English to my non-Malay customers who had dealings with my office. I would only talk in Malay if I found that my customers understand my instructions better in that language.

There was a particular Chinese customer with a Christian name who I tried to talk to in English. But he kept replying in Malay. One day when I met him at his office his mobile phone rang. To my surprise, he answered the phone in English, although his grammar was not perfect. 

When he finished talking I asked "You can speak English. Why can't you speak English to me?". He replied, "Because your English is high class".  My reply to his reply was simply "This is the only English I know".

I never consider my English to be high class. But I try not to make mistakes every time I talk or write in that language. I always corrected my friends if they talk English wrongly. For this, my best friend W really appreciated. 

He would call me for advice on how to reply to phone messages. If he was invited to an event and could not make it he would ask me for the right words in reply. 

As I see it, the present standard of English among Malaysians is deteriorating. Maybe this is due to our education system. The recent general elections witnessed the change of government at the Federal level. With it, I hope there is a change in our education system. In the end, I hope nobody will complain if the Prime Minister gives press conferences in English or Malay. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Erti PRU 14 bagi saya.

Tidak adil rasanya jika saya tidk menulis apa-apa mengenai keputusan Pilihanraya ke-14 (PRU 14) yang baru sahaja selesai. Saya tidak mahu komen terhadap keputusannya yang semua orang tahu. Saya cuma hendak memberi pandangan dari sudut lain, iaitu persahabatan atau 'friendship'.

Kata orang kita memilih kawan atau "we choose friends'. Kita tidak boleh dipaksa untuk berkawan dengan sesiapa. Saya nyatakan di sini bahawa kawan terbaik atau 'best friend' saya ialah seorang yang lain bangsa dan agama dari saya. Yang sama antara kami ialah kami lelaki. Dia berbangsa Cina dan saya akan sebut kawan saya ini sebagai W sahaja.

Saya mula berkawan dengan W berpuluh tahun dulu semasa saya bekerja dengan Majlis Perbandaran Seremban atau MPS. W mempunyai sebuah kedai aksesori kereta. Yang agak lain dari yang lain ialah W meletakkan perkataan Melayu pada nama syarikat perniagaannya. Perkataan itu juga boleh jadi nama lelaki Melayu.  

Saya pun tidak tahu mengapa saya memilih W sebagai kawan terbaik saya. Mungkin kerana  kami berkomunkasi dalam Bahasa Inggeris. Dari apa yang saya nampak W juga menganggap saya sebagai kawan terbaiknya. Ramai orang menyangka kami berkawan kerana kepentingan masing-masing. Mereka berkata bila saya bersara W tidak akan pandang muka saya.

Kawan-kawan saya di pejabat semua tahu akan hubungan saya dengan W. Sehingga boss saya juga pernah menegur tentang persahabatan kami. Dia bimbang orang akan memandang serong terhadap kami dan meminta saya memutuskannya. Saya terus jawab kawan saya berniaga aksesori kereta. Tetapi tengoklah kalau kereta saya mempunyai apa-apa aksesori? Kalau dia syak ada unsur-unsur negatif antara kami dia bebas untuk menghantar orang mengekor kami atau 'tap' perbualan telefon kami.

Jelas sangkaan ramai bahawa selepas bersara hubungan saya dengan W akan terputus, tidak terjadi. Persahabatan kami diteruskan seperti biasa. Dengan takdir Allah dan tanpa rancangan awal, kami masing-masing membeli dan berpindah ke rumah baru yang yang jaraknya cuma satu kilometer antara satu sama lain. Ini berbanding dengan jarak lebih kurang lapan kilometer sebelumnya. Senanglah kami untuk berjumpa selepas W menutup kedainya. 

Semasa mula-mula saya berkunjung ke rumah baru W anjing jirannya akan menyalak saya. (W tidak menyimpan anjing). Lama kelamaan anjing itu tidak menyalak lagi dan cuma berbunyi 'yelp' bila saya menegurnya. 

W bertanya bagaimana ini berlaku? Saya jawab anjing mempunyai deria atau 'sense' tidak seperti manusia. Pada mulanya dia menyangka saya musuhnya, sebab itu dia menyalak. Dia tidak perlu memandang muka saya, menghidu bau saya sudah cukup. Lama kelamaan dia tau bahawa bau saya bukan bau musuh. Sebab itu dia tidak menyalak lagi.

Tiap kali kami ke mana-mana restoran atau gerai untuk makan dan minum tentu ada jelingan terhadap kami.  Mereka hairan bagaimana si Melayu dan si Cina ini boleh berkawan baik. Memang ada ternampak orang Melayu dan Cina duduk semeja. Tetapi biasanya yang Melayu itu pegawai kerajaan dan yang Cina peniaga. Mereka duduk semeja kerana masing-masing punya kepentingan.

Seperti biasa kami berceloteh dalam Bahasa Inggeris. Pernah satu kali seorang lelaki Cina memandang kami dengan serious dan bercakap sesuatu dengan isterinya. W yang faham apa yang dicakapkan terus menterjemah. Katanya saya pernah mendakwa lelaki itu di mahkamah. Saya jawab saya tidak boleh ingat setiap orang yang saya dakwa di mahkamah.

Bila keputusan PRU 14 diumumkan sudah tentu saya dan W berbincang mengenainya. Bila W bertanya apa pendapat saya mengenainya jawapan saya senang sahaja seperti berikut:-

"Mulai sekarang bila kita duduk makan dan minum semeja saya harap tidak ada lagi apa-apa jelingan serong terhadap kami. Mulai sekarang juga saya harap semua bangsa di Malaysia boleh berkawan tanpa ragu-ragu dan syak wasangka".