- 'Eton of the East' reminiscences
- Johor Sultan buying stake for RM250m cash in Berjaya Times Square
- Compassionate and caring Ruler
- This is no bullshit crowd
Posted: 10 Dec 2013 11:09 AM PST
MEMORABLE REUNION: Shahar Effendi Abdullah Azizi, an old boy of Malay College Kuala Kangsar, recalls his student days at the exclusive school
Naveen Mathew Menon, NST
TO be an old boy of Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) is to be in the company of some of the who's who of Malaysian society. Known as the Eton of the East, the school has produced outstanding personalities in the country.
Sultans, menteris besar, prominent politicians and captains of industry have passed through the portals of this leading institution. When men in well-tailored suits complete with the right accessories gathered at the Malay College Old Boys Association's (MCOBA) 2013 reunion dinner at Hotel Istana recently, they smacked of this exclusive MCKK heritage.
Groups of old boys were seen laughing and joking with one another as they reminisced about their good old days at the college.
One of the students, mining engineer Shahar Effendi Abdullah Azizi, 53, director of Johor Department of Minerals and Geo Science, who graduated from the class of 1978 painted a concise picture of what it was like to study at the elite boarding school.
"I used to hear stories from my grandfather Mat Som, my father Abdullah Azizi and even my eldest brother Ahmad Anuar about how fun, exciting and fulfilling it was to gain a solid education at MCKK.
"It became my childhood dream to study in such a good school and I studied hard to make my dreams come true.
"It was hard for me to get into MCKK. With only 4 As instead of 5, I had to study for a month in SM Sains Perlis because I did not get into MCKK.
"I re-appealed to the MCKK's board and they decided to let me study there after noting that my grandfather, father and even eldest brother were all alumni of the school.
"In 1974, I was admitted into MCKK and I felt an overwhelming sense of joy and happiness because I knew that my childhood dream had just come true!
"I made many friends at the school and we soon became like a big band of brothers. As this was a boarding school, our gang soon became the best of friends and we had a great time studying and playing games together," he said.
"The school which is known to produce the creme de la creme of society counts Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, managing director of Khazanah Nasional Bhd; Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, Defence Minister; Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Deputy Minister of Higher Education; and many others as distinguished alumni members.
"As we were all a tightly-knit group of friends, we came up with nicknames for one another.
"One of my best friends, Ahmad Azhari Abdul Manaf, was called 'Nyamuk' while another, Mazlan Madon, was called 'Melon'. At one point in school, I used to keep my hair long and after giving it a 'gonceng' (short haircut), my friends in school started teasing me by calling me 'Gonceng'.
"Over time, this nickname was changed to 'Jenggo' because of the haircut and because my friends thought it was cool to name me after popular musician Django Reinhardt who was all the rage then," he said.
"Once in a while my friends and I would sneak out of school in the middle of the night to frequent the nasi lemak stall nearby. We had to watch out for prefects, our strict discipline teacher Mr Gupta and our headmaster Wan Aziz.
Recalling the strict discipline in MCKK, he said, "We had to make sure that our beds were made each morning, our shoes were shined, our toothbrushes were clean and that we always looked neat and tidy, otherwise we would be punished.
"I remember how my friends and I would wake up at 5am daily to queue up to use the common toilets with our soap cases in hand.
"At times, when the queue was so long, we would skip our bath so that we could make it to class on time and not be reprimanded for being late. Those who skipped their bath would joke that it was 'dry cleaning' day," he said.
"Friends used to pass around cigarettes and I caught the smoking habit even though I was a good student who usually obeyed the rules.
"We used to hide our cigarettes in our socks and in secret places to avoid getting caught and disciplined. Cigarettes we smoked then included Rough Rider (not available now), Benson & Hedges and Dunhill," he said.
"On the rare occasion when I was disciplined because cigarettes were found in my clothes that were hung out to dry on railings outside our dormitory, I had to attend detention class, clean the toilets, mow the lawn, sweep the school or do other chores. I was rarely disciplined though because I was a good student," he said.
"One funny incident that stays with me till today is how my friend Azhari or 'Nyamuk' used to sport an afro hairstyle back in 1978.
"In order to avoid getting caught, he would style his hair with gel and comb it down so it looked like he had short hair. One day, our disciplinary teacher called his bluff when he touched his hair and suddenly it puffed up again," he said laughing, adding that 'Nyamuk' was immediately disciplined for breaking the school regulations.
"As I was on a RM100 scholarship, this monthly allowance, which is probably worth more than RM500 today, was sufficient to pay for whatever I needed back then as in those days inflation was low.
"My friends and I used to enjoy eating together in the 'mess hall'. When some friends could not make it to lunch or dinner because they had other appointments, we used to tell the kitchen staff that we would 'keep' their food for them on our table but instead would help ourselves to it.
"On some days, the chicken tasted like plastic. We used to look forward to sitting with our teachers and prefects on a special platform overlooking the mess hall where the food served was better and tastier and we even enjoyed ice-cream!" he said.
"Another of my fond memory is that of my friends and I playing music as a group since Form One. I learnt to play the angklung and the guitar and we would have fun jamming at the school.
"Our band 'Wheel Machine' was a hit among the students and we would play at school functions.
"Artistes like the Bee Gees, Doobie Brothers, Santana, P. Ramlee and others were popular then. My friends in school were like brothers to me. Even today, my friends and I still play as a group, but Wheel Machine now performs at weddings, birthdays, corporate and other functions," he said.
"Joining the Cadet Club in Form Two was a great experience, too, as I enjoyed going on camping trips with my friends to the Port Dickson Army Camp where I learnt to use a real rifle.
"I am indebted to my favourite teachers like Mr Nadarajah who taught us English throughout high school and to my other English teacher, Gitu Chakravathy who taught me in Form Five," he said.
"I went on to study mining engineering at the University of Leeds from 1981 to 1984 before returning to Malaysia to work," he concluded.
During the reunion dinner, the alumni members enjoyed a sumptuous meal and were treated to a series of interesting performances.
The were plenty of laughter and cheers as a humorous skit and soulful music performances kept the crowd entertained throughout the reunion dinner and concert.
If you have a reunion coming up and would like them to be featured, let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the date, time, venue and contact details.
Posted: 10 Dec 2013 09:41 AM PST
(The Star) - Fresh from selling six plots of land in Johor Baru for a whopping RM4.5bil, the Johor Sultan has entered into an agreement to buy a 20% stake in Berjaya Times Square Sdn Bhd (BTS), which among others, owns the Berjaya Times Square Mall in Jalan Imbi, for RM250mil cash.
This is not the first investment the ruler of Johor has made in recent months, as he is seen to be picking up assets and emerging as shareholder in companies.
Yesterday, Berjaya Assets Bhd told Bursa Malaysia that it had inked an agreement to dispose of 150 million shares of RM1 each, or a 20% equity stake, in BTS to Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar.
A unit of Berjaya Assets, BTS owns and manages Berjaya Times Square Mall which has a gross built-up area of 7.5 million sq ft on 4.05ha in Jalan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur.
The building comprises a 12-level shopping mall, two 46-storey towers of serviced suites and hotel, five levels of basement and 10 floors of annexed carparks.
Besides that, BTS is also involved in the operations of carparks and theme park, and its other subsidiary owns and manages Berjaya Waterfront, Johor Baru (formerly known as The Zon in Johor) with properties spreading over 7.28ha of prime land in Johor.
Berjaya Assets said the sale allowed it to raise immediate cash and that the Sultan's entry into BTS would enable him to participate more actively in the future direction and developments of the BTS Group.
Berjaya Assets intends to use the proceeds for working capital and future investments.
Just over a week ago, China-based developer Guangzhou R&F Properties Co Ltd bought six plots of land totalling 47ha in Johor Baru from the Sultan for a whopping RM4.5bil or RM891 per sq ft. It is a record deal as just months earlier another developer from China, Country Garden Holdings Co Ltd, had bought 22.26ha in Danga Bay for RM376 per sq ft from another developer.
It is said the estimated sellable floor area of about 3.5 million sq m for the R&F deal worked out to a plot ratio of 7.5 times and that is seen as high, given that the land is worth about RM891 per sq ft.
In comparison the Danga Bay plot ratio is 5.22 times.
That aside, Berjaya Assets is part of Berjaya Group which is ultimately majority owned by Tan Sri Vincent Tan. He is a long time investor in REDtone International Bhd and in July bought more shares to raise his stake to 13.86%, making him the second largest shareholder in the telco and WiFi infrastructure builder.
Earlier in May, the Johor Sultan ended with a 51% equity stake in REDtone Network Sdn Bhd (RN) via a transaction with REDtone International, whose stake in RN has been reduced to 49% from 70%.
RN is one of the three companies that was shortlisted by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission in November last year for the digital terrestrial television broadcast (DTTB) infrastructure contract.
Posted: 10 Dec 2013 09:29 AM PST
Wani Muthiah, The Star
Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah is known for being a well-read and knowledgeable Ruler who is able to speak on many topics and issues with finesse.
He always keeps abreast of happenings in the state and steps in whenever there is a need for him to do so.
Being a just man, Sultan Sharafuddin also speaks up when he feels and believes there is a violation of individual or collective rights.
In 2009, when the privacy of a state assemblyman was violated with private pictures of her being circulated in cyberspace, Sultan Sharafuddin immediately voiced his concern.
The Sultan issued a statement that he was upset and worried over the intrusion of privacy and private rights for the purpose of destroying a person's dignity and reputation.
He added that he was saddened that private lives were being made public and subject to public scrutiny via the mass media.
Sultan Sharafuddin also raised concerns over the plight of the orang asli (aborigines) and had asked for their rights, especially with regards to their land, to be returned to them.
He urged the state government to expedite the identification and gazetting of orang asli land in his speech during the opening of the state legislative assembly sitting in 2009.
Sultan Sharafuddin said in his speech that the orang asli community had undergone an erosion of identity and it is time their rights be returned to them with the resolution of their land problems.
"I want to stress the need to acknowledge and preserve orang asli land which had been seized from them in the last few years,'' the Sultan had said.
Klang's Orang Besar Daerah Datuk Setia DiRaja Datuk Abdul Ghani Pateh Akhir said the Sultan always put the people's welfare first.
"Tuanku is always concerned about his subjects and emphasises that whatever projects planned by the government and other parties must first and foremost benefit the people," he said.
He added that the Sultan also often stopped to speak to people whenever he attended public events or prayers at mosques.
"He has never not stopped and listened and responded when people come forward to speak with him. Whenever he attends charitable events involving the needy, he would speak to them and ask them about the problems they faced," said Abdul Ghani.
Sultan Sharafuddin's love for books goes a long way back and he is the proud owner of a massive collection on all topics.
His private secretary Datuk Mohamad Munir Bani had been quoted in a previous interview saying Sultan Sharafuddin spent almost all his spare time reading.
"Tuanku is always reading whenever he has some free time. He also reads while travelling in the car," Mohamad Munir said.
The Sultan's collection of books is kept in his palace as well as several other locations and the ruler has also donated a substantial amount of books to libraries.
Sultan Sharafuddin is also known as a working Ruler and is said to use his vast experience as a former civil servant when carrying out his royal duties.
Tuanku had served in the Selangor state secretariat as well as the Kuala Lumpur district office and the police after returning from England upon completing his studies.
Sultan Sharafuddin is also known to be very direct and is a stickler for detail. However, any decision he makes is always after meetings and discussions with relevant parties.
Meanwhile, Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said the Sultan's guidance in matters related to the state was valuable.
"We are blessed to have a capable Sultan who not only supports us but also guides us with the wisdom of his experience," said Khalid.
Sultan Sharafuddin was born on Dec 24, 1945 at Istana Jemaah in Klang when his father, the late Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah was the Selangor Crown Prince.
Sultan Sharafuddin, whose birth name is Tengku Idris Shah, became the Raja Muda of Selangor at the age of 15 in 1960 when his father was installed as the Sultan of Selangor. He ascended the throne in 2001 after Sultan Salahuddin's demise.
On his 68th birthday, the rakyat of Selangor wish Sultan Sharafuddin good health and many more blessed years ahead.
Posted: 10 Dec 2013 12:59 AM PST
I was on the streets the day the government of Thailand resigned and Parliament was dissolved
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