Monday, March 9, 2009


In the past the seasons were very regular and the pace of life revolved around this regularity. The skies were clear and the rainy season came with the regularity of women’s menses.

The building and development of the towns and cities in Sarawak was slow, but addressed the needs at the times. People were slowly becoming home owners and becoming more affluent. Traffic in the towns and cities was bad, but not grid locked.

Everyday life was slow and uncomplicated. We visited more, talked and socialized more with our neighbors. Our children played outside with the neighbor’s children and they asked for fewer things. We had more time to spend with our children.

What happened in the 1990’s? Life became like life in the 1960’s in the USA. The economy was booming, more and more people were becoming middle class.

People bought more cars one or two or more per family. The cities became nightmares for getting around and in towns you avoided going into the town centre on certain days and at certain times.

Contractors built shop houses and condominiums like there was a never ending supply of buyers and occupants. Hugh projects were proposed, started and completed.

During the early nineties in Sarawak there were small changes. The school calendar was changed to accommodate the landas season. This became unnecessary when the landas slowly changed. There were more periods of drought during this time.

This was the time the stock market was booming. Housewives were learning how to speculate there. Every bank was going into the mutual fund market. New banks were popping up like mushrooms.

In 1997 the month of May the Coxsackie B - Virus started. Seven and half months later, after the closure of all nurseries and kindergartens, thirty three children were dead. The exact cause is still unknown.

Then came the blanket of haze from our neighbor to block the blue skies and send alarm bells ringing all over South East Asia. Schools and Offices were closed. We woke up to a blanket of smoke each morning.

This haze went away, but the ringgit went down, down, down. Will it stop? Many students came back from overseas. Slowly the value of the ringgit went down and it was harder to send money for children’s education overseas. Stocks were unstable and projects were stopped.

When the New Year came in 1998, we hoped for a better year to come. Everyone was excited about the double celebration - Chinese New Year and the Hari Raya. Housewives were cleaning and cooking. Then the water was no more.

Now the struggle was on to wash, cook, and bathe and clean. The guest was to find water, store it and conserve it. Everyone was carrying water to their homes from pipes near the road. Carry, lift, and pour. How long would it last?

In 1998 rationing was on now. Don’t flush that toilet and don’t let the tap run. My plants were dying, the cars were dirty and my sheets were unchanged.

What was to come now? Fires, fires all around the town in Tudan, Pujut and Lambir. Ash was everywhere - on the screens, on the floors, on the porches and in the garages. Also there was smoke. You could smell it and see it each morning inside your home.

We looked out each morning to see how thick the haze was. Could we see the neighbor’s houses across the street? If we could, it wasn’t that bad and if we couldn’t it was really bad.

We considered if we should keep our children home each day or send them to school? We listen to the coughs of all the family members. Would my child get over her cold? We needed our face masks to go to school.

When would the fires be put out? As soon as a fire was out a new one started. Would we get more haze from our neighbor as the drought continues?

Driving in the haze to school each day, we saw completed empty shop houses and condominiums, or more of these being built. Where were the buyers and tenants? Some projects were half built - or businesses closed – Bakun, Saeaga Air and Sime Bank.

Our students were still coming home with shattered dreams. The consumers saw it everyday when buying chicken, rice, vegetables and other necessities. What has happened to the paradise? Would it ever return, or was it lost forever?


Joseph Ruffus Kaos, Jr.
Email :

WARNING: The following article contains a massive amount of football, football and football most particularly Liverpool FC. Non-football fans may still continue reading and risk suffering from a contagious disease known as footballitis. Manchester United fans however are strongly advised to avoid this altogether.

Despair it may seem for the legions of Liverpool fans across the globe following their defeat in the hands of AC Milan in this year’s Champions League final but all is not lost, as the fans have plenty positives to take and bring to the future. AC Milan finally got their sweet revenge against the team that cruelly defeated them two years back in the same stage, with a 2-1 victory at Athens. They say second chances don’t come easily and sure enough the Rossineris as they are affectionately addressed as, took the opportunity and then brought the trophy back to Italian soil.

But many viewers would agree that the manner in which AC Milan had performed throughout the tournament that started in July last year, they truly deserved to win the final match. Just like two years back, they started the match as favorites. On paper, compared to the Liverpool team, they also looked the stronger team, what with world class players such as the Brazilian wizard kaka’ and their two strong center backs, Alessandra Nesta and Poalo Maldini.

This time around, however, nobody wrote off Liverpool's chances of winning as they had proven in 2005 that even with a weaker side you could still win if you approached it in the right way. Manager-cum tactical genius Rafael Benitez saw to that and on that historical day in 2005, the manager inspired his team of rookies to come from 3-0 down in the first half and level it at 3-3 in the second half. They eventually defeated AC Milan on penalties. Till this day, that event was known as “the miracle of Istanbul.”

This time around both teams had scores to settle in this match. Liverpool FC had just finished 3rd in the English Premier League in which the champions were their bitter rivals Manchester United. Manchester United however crashed to AC Milan in the semifinals. So Liverpool was looking to prove to the world that in England, they were the untouchables when it came to winning the European cup. Winning this final would make it six trophies overall, the highest ever by an English team. The only teams to have won more than Liverpool were Real Madrid from Spain and the Italians AC Milan, who have won nine and six trophies respectively.

AC Milan, on the other hand, mainly had revenge on their mind. As midfielder Gennaro Gattuso said, “The heartbreak at Istanbul will forever remain in our minds”. Here he got his chance to erase that memory by winning it. Two years back, they thought they had won when they led 3-0 in the first half. They were actually celebrating in their locker room at half time as it is almost impossible to lose when you are 3-0 up. Their over confidence punished them and this time they will not want to allow it to happen again. Only a victory will do.

Both teams got themselves heavily prepared before the match. The managers had to take a thorough inspection of their squad to find out which players made the starting eleven. Rafeal Benitez, the Liverpool manager had started out that their team has to contain danger men Kaka’ and Clarence Seedorp . Which was why he fielded Argentian Javier Mascherano to mark Kaka’. Javier Mascherano may be small in size but he was well known for his hard but clean takers on players twice his size. He seemed the ideal person to keep Kaka’ quiet.

AC Milan’s boss Carla Ancelotti definitely put his hopes on his golden boy Kaka’, who scored 10 goals so far throughout the tournament. His headache, however was who to play the lone striker's role. He had two strikers at his disposal. He could play Alberto Gilardino, a young and quick striker who was very dangerous. Gilardino however hasn't been in the the best of form recently. The other choice was Filippo Inzaghi, the veteran goal scoring machine who knew how to poach goals out of nothing. The concern for him however was at his age he might not be as quick as he used to be and might not be able to cope with the high energy of the match.

The match attracted not only the 80,000 supporters at the Athens Olympic Stadium, but millions of football fans around the world who watched it live the television. The match started at a fast pace and the noise around the pitch was deafening. The players were playing one of the most important matchs of their lives and everyone played their heart out. Liverpool had quite a number of chances into he first half and Jermaine Pennant nearly had the Reds in the lead if not for Milan goalkeeper Dida who saved his weak shot. The experienced defence of AC Milan kept out the Liverpool attack, led by Dutchman Dirk Kuyt and close to the half time whistle both teams were still goal less. At the 45th minute, Xabi Alanso made a dreadful mistake by fouling “kaka” just outside the penalty box. It was just the right distance for AC Milan’s free kick expert Andrea Pirlo to curl it into the net. Liverpool prepared for the free kick while fans watched with great anticipation.

Goal! 1-0! The Milan fans were on their feet and jumping in jubilation about the goal as Audrea Pirlo’s kick found it’s way to the net past Liverpool custodian Jose Reina. The world thought Pirlo was the scariest but television replays showed that it was Fillip Inzaghi who flicked the ball off his chest and deflected the ball into the net. The deflection sent Jose Reina the wrong way. Poor Liverpool appealed for a handball but it wasn't accepted by the referee and the goal stood. Inzaght repaid his manager’s faith in him by giving the team a precious 1-0 to lead.

Half time was over and the players returned from the break with both their manager’s team talk still ringing in their minds. Liverpool had to find a way to equalize to still be in the running to win the Champion’s League title.

The intensity of the first half was slightly less but both teams still battled their wits out. The Liverpool defence did a good job of not letting Kaka’ terrorize and Clarence Seedorf was pretty invisible throughout the match. Liverpool got themselves a golden opportunity to bring the game level and was one and only on-one with the goalkeeper had to continue pushing and pushing.

Rafeal Benitez made a substitution by replacing the ineffective Bolo Zenden with Harry Kewell in the hope of getting the goal they desperately needed. But as fate decided, it was not to be Liverpool’s night when a through pass by Kaka’ found Inzaghi who coolly slotted it into the net. It was about 10 minutes from time and Inzahi had just about single handedly crushed Liverpool. Revenge was complete.

But just as it was in Istanbul two years back, Liverpool prayed for the same miracle to happen again. In the final minutes Dirk Kuyt scored a close range header to make it 2-1 but it was definitely too late for a last-minute miracle as the referee’s whistle confirms that AC Milan had won their seventh European Cup in Athens.

Heartbreak in Athens it was for Liverpool FC but it was definitely not the end. Liverpool had looked a much stronger team that two years back and will only grow stronger next season. Their new American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks has already promised a strong financial backing to sign world class players. Liverpool would be looking to challenge Manchester United for the English Premier League and fight for another Champion’s League final next season. From the looks of it, the defeat had only turned Liverpool into a stronger and more determined outfit.

(1,360 words)


Sarah Adiba

For every human, there is a passion. The passion that rises from any soul, a young one or old one. It keeps them moving with doing those unique things that they like. I for one, share a general interest that maybe eight percent of teenagers in this century have, the craving or passion for ____ music.

Fiction or non-fictionally, music has the power to heal even the most broken or torn soul. This particular beautiful interest which I must say is so far the most wonderful passion I have ever felt for anything in particular ever since, I first heard and knew of the thing called “songs”. Eventually after that, music became my best friend. My medicine throughout any situation. The best thing is something that I have - the talent such as singing, writing or even listening to music.

Throughout these high school years of my life, this passion of mine has kept me alive and here I am, breathing and feeling alive once again. Doubtlessly, music has become a part of my soul, the healing side of it that one cannot deny the power which grows stronger within. Like the heat of summer sunshine throughout an ice age, a small part of me could feel and live in this harsh reality called “life” with confidence and compete for triumph with dignity.

A general interest could also turn into something you cannot live without, something to pass those meaningless spaces filling up in your life and mine, a thing that leaves everyone satisfied with no matter who they are or what they do after a busy week or simply relaxing a complicated mind. My interest for music however has grown into an addiction like a drug, used for healing any scar or burn shattering the peace in my little heart.

There was a time that happened to trigger a loose wire in my head. A horrible incident, leaving me lifeless and I lost all my hopes of taking another breath. It was because of a drug case, involving jail and many police which happened to jeopardize my future and the ... Rest of my remaining life. The case, where innocence was tested and guilt lingered halfway up in the air. I was confused and lost. At that moment the only trusted companion I had was my loyal music. Indescribable what music means to me, how much feeling it could stir up in me with hearing its presence. My soul would be kept alive and finally, I felt like I could live again.

Music has the unique power able to uphold beautiful secrets that can be transpired in the form of music. When you feel depressed, sad or going through excruciating pain, music can sooth these feelings through expression in the form of lyrics that can convey messages of hope and can be very meaningful to you.

Music is my healer and it will accompany me as something I can live for the rest of my life.

Music is the food of love
Music heals
Music comforts



As the days passed, we find that there are actually things which are beyond our control. Every day is a challenge to us. For those who faced death, life has to go on. For those of us faced with financial crisis, we just have to keep going.

I remember what my father used to tell me a story about a sparrow who tried his best to do simple things that may seem impossible.

It was a cold and windy day when the farmer came upon this sparrow lying on its back in the middle of his farm. He asked, “Why are you lying upside down like this?” The sparrow replied, “ I was told that the sky is going to fall today,” The farmer chuckled, “ So, you think you can just hold your little legs up to stop the sky from falling ?“ The sparrow said, “I just do what I can do to my capability!”

This story held special meaning in my life which I passed on to my daughter. It is true that whatever we do, we do the best we can to achieve the best.

I often find that many talented people are far too busy because they have to keep up to their schedule and want to increase their popularity. There are people who are less talented but with the little things they do behind the scenes are the best things that cannot be seen, because they are not known to others. A pastor once said, “Your good deeds will only be known when you are no longer in this world. The result can be seen by the number of people who attended your funeral.” That is true when more than 400 people attended my late brother’s funeral. He did little tasks for the people on the street.

The month of July has many charitable events; one of them is the Dance humanity, a charity organized by the Red Crescent, Miri Chapter. People in Miri are very supportive of charitable events.

In the month of September the State government has been charitable too. SOSWE received a grant of RM 5,000 for our 1st publication of articles written by members. The process of editing is under the charge of our dedicated member, Florence Enau.

The 3rd Quarter articles are as follows:-
 LOCAL INTEREST - Hari Raya by Jennie Soh
 LOCAL SHARING - Book reviews by Molly, Judy and Helen
 MEMBER’S CONTRIBUTION - The fear of growing old by Matthew Sim
 SENIOR SECTION - Life’s like that by Leigh-Ann-Bong (13 years old)
 JUNIOR SECTION - My Great-grand mother’s Funeral by Tien Eu Min (10 years old)

Wishing every one a SELAMAT HARI RAYA and Cheers!



Molly Sim
HP: 013-8390468
BOOK REVIEW – “Book” yet to be written by Molly

Today, I do not share a book, but I shared my reading habits. I must admit that I have not read a complete book for quite a long time. But I am a bookworm and an addict for knowledge via reading.

Today, I did not have a book to share. I have read books ranging from parenting, childrens’ upbringing, management, self development, keep fit, beauty and others which I cannot mentioned. My choice of books and articles depends very much on my interest and my needs at these snapshots in time. Also, I read articles and books shared at social gatherings and reading circles. Simply, I am just a book worm.

Books, Books, Books are very much a part of my life. I have owned more books than clothes in my wardrobe. If I have to make a choice between a book of my interest and a dress usually, I get the book. My husband has his own collection. My four children have their own collections, so much so that we are out of book shelves constantly and it is a hard decision to select whose and which books to donate to someone. Apart from books, we also have comics such as Archie, Veronica, Betty sounds familiar. We have a big collection of this. Why I read “Archie” is in fact it is a very down to earth comics covering the environment, the handicaps and the reading is good fun. Reggie, Vain and Egoistic, Jug head, the eater etc. I had good fun when telling my girls if they are a Reggie or a Juggie head when they have their vain behaviors. Instead of getting angry, they laughed and learned if I asked who wants to be Reggie or Veronica or Betty, they know who the good and popular characters are so hopefully they will emulate them.

I cannot imagine a life without books or reading material. I remember still very clearly on my one trip that I forgot to bring a book. While at the hotel, I could not sleep. I arrived late so the hotel drugstore was closed; this hotel had no reading materials. The only pamphlet they had was the card about the fire escape route stuck on the door, so for the first time, I really read and studied the card well. This lesson I never forgot and I always pack a book first in my luggage before my underwear.

Basically, what I want to say here is reading habits can be addictive and this is a good addiction. I begin reading from a very young age because there was no television or Internet. Up to now, I seldom watch the box. The benefits I got from this good habit are: I have improved my English, I learnt styles of writing and also I became knowledgeable in a lot of subjects. I am never without a pen and a note book while attending talks or meetings.

So I always tell myself that I should write a book now.
(557 words)




Judy Morshidi
Hp: 019-8854986

BOOK REVIEW – Malaysian Flavours

This is a compilation of articles published in the star newspaper. It is not a cook book as the title may suggest. It is an insight into Malaysian life styles on a variety of aspects such as :-

(a) Malaysian English - English spoken in the Malaysian way with uses of local dialects.
(b) Cross Cultural Encounters
(c) Observations of behaviors
(d) Malaysian names
(e) Yesteryear - lifestyle, food and games of the author’ childhood days.

The book captures through amusing asides and deft observations, the quires and idiosyncrasies of Malaysians.

Being a perankan, the author gives detailed description of the lifestyle of baba & nonya, a culture that is unique in Malaysian and it is vanishing fast in this fast paced modern world.

Lee Su Kim is currently Associate Professor of English at UKM, Bangi.

(188 words)


Dr. Hisham Khalef is an Eye Specialist, also from Egypt and has two major things to share. The first is Hari Raya is the feast of all Muslims who are happy to be able to fast during Ramadan wherever they are. The second is that he is among a number of people whom he has known for many years regardless of their religion. He is happy to be among all those people who are sharing his happiness. Moreover, technology facilitates communication. Consequently he can be with his family and his friends in his home country through the internet.

Picture - Dr. Hisham singing arabic song composed by himself. He is a talented key board musician.