Wednesday 18 June 2014

A poignant story of a filial son

I read with great sadness in my heart this poignant article in the New Straits Times yesterday which I am reproducing in full here,

Thank you, Bapak


THE sound of rain beating down on the corrugated iron roof of my father’s house was loud but the din was not what had awakened me from my sleep.
In the semi-darkness of the hall, I could see that my 81-year-old father, whom we call Bapak, was sitting up in his armchair. He was weeping and it was the sound of his sobs that woke me up.
“It is raining,” he said when I asked him what was bothering him.
“How do I tap rubber tomorrow? I cannot earn any money tomorrow. How do I feed my family if the rain continues,” he said in between sobs.
Bapak was re-living his past experience, or rather his worst experience. His failing memory often returns to the time in the 1970s when he worked as a rubber tapper in Masai, Johor. The rainy season was his worst nightmare, as it would mean the loss of his main income to feed, clothe and send his nine kids to school.
I remember him having bad moods during the rainy season but I did not know he shed tears for us until that night, about three months ago, when Bapak thought he was back in the 1970s.
He then decided to work in an oil palm plantation, harvesting fresh fruit bunches. His new job was much harder and did not pay much, just four sen for every oil palm fruit bunch he harvested. However, it had two big advantages over tapping of rubber trees — his working days were no longer dictated by the weather and the whole family could help him earn more money.
And help him we did, working as a unit to harvest around 1,000 fruit bunches a day, earning around RM40, which was a big jump compared with the RM5 he earned at the rubber estate.
When he started working, Bapak had no money to buy a wheelbarrow (it cost RM50 at the time) so he had to use rattan baskets and a wooden shoulder pole provided by the estate management to transport the oil palm fruit to the roadside.
His resolve to earn as much money as possible for his family was much stronger than the thick mahogany pole he carried.
This was proven one day when Bapak kept telling me to load more oil palm fruit into the basket as he wanted to carry as much as possible to the roadside collection area. I was reluctant to add more into the twin baskets as they were already full.
I was afraid the extra load would hurt Bapak’s back and shoulder and was horrified when I heard a loud crack when he put his left shoulder under the pole. I thought that he had broken something.
And he had. But it wasn’t any of his bones. Bapak had a tough time explaining to the estate management how he had broken the shoulder pole before he could get a replacement. That was almost 40 years ago, but the event was vivid in my mind as I gave my father a massage last Sunday.
Bapak spent all his energy raising me and my siblings that he is physically weak now. He cringed in pain as I massaged his left shoulder, the very same one that broke the thick wooden pole many years ago.
“It is up to you. I will follow your decision. Whatever you think is good, is also fine by me.”
Those were my father’s words when I told him of my intention of bringing him to live with me in Terengganu.
How I wished I had also said the same words to him when I was a kid, but at least I can now care for him much like he did for me.
I have decided to dedicate my time to care for my elderly parents and the only way for me to do that is by quitting my job as a journalist.
Friends and colleagues have told me not to quit, that I can care for my parents and be a journalist at the same time but the hectic work schedule means that I will have to be away from them even if I bring them to live with me in Terengganu. I cannot put my career ahead of my father, who, despite being unable to read or write, had taught me my first few English words.
Piston, crankshaft, connecting rod, timing chain and other parts of a motorcycle engine were the first English words that got stuck in my head, and it was Bapak, who could barely speak Malay (we spoke Javanese at home), who taught me those words when, as a toddler, I sat beside him as he repaired motorcycles to earn some extra income.
I will be repairing motorcycles in my little workshop in Tok Jembal and this time Bapak will be by my side. My friends said that I made a bold decision to be an entrepreneur, but actually I just reverted to my former role, to be my father’s son.
Happy Fathers Day to all the fathers out there and, on behalf of all sons everywhere, thank you.

Satiman Jamin is the outgoing NST bureau chief of Terengganu.

He had just resigned from his post a few days ago for the reason he stated in that article.

He is indeed a truly filial son.

My heart goes out to him as his full story is actually really heart breaking. It was however not for me to tell it here.

I had actually first read Satiman's articles when he was a JB-based NST journalist.

They were very good, particularly the features and human interest stories.

You can just google his name to read his past articles.

I am wishing Satiman all the best and hopefully he will continue to write, one way or another.

May Allah bless him and his family.

On another note, it's unfortunate that the one and only pro-establishment English newspaper in the country lost another good writer as its circulation slides further down to below 100,000 copies per day.

Hopefully, the bosses of NST will soon find a way to revive its fortune.


  1. Satiman are a good throw everything off just in order to do something that is good....this guy is really a good guy,a good son and a hero lah....

    i hope NST will do something for him and atleast by not to lose him, maybe by employing him back and letting him be with his father....

  2. Re. its circulation slides further down to below 100,000 copies per day.

    It is a natural progression for most print media in the present ICT world. The growing number of younger generation no longer buy and read hard print materials, unless they are free. In addition, most news will be fast reprinted by other electronic media.

    The end is inevitable and near. FRANKLY, I am all for it for as a society we should be heading towards paperless transaction. meaning there will be minimizing felling trees activity to produce papers and destruction of forest at large. As a society, we fail to Reduce-Reuse-Recyle (3-R), resulting in the fast filling of landfills through out the country which is another form of "Bio-Hazard" activity which is detrimental to human health in the long run. Those who have experienced passing by any of these landfills may have noticed the stench that follows you for miles. Not to mentioned the failing of 3-R has also resulted in drains and river being clogged and polluted, in Pulau Pinang under IGUANA ENG, 8 rivers are classified as critical, where 4 of the rivers are considered dead based on the last report due to poor environment management and over development.

    Eight rivers in Penang in critical state, 4 classified as 'dead' this page
    June 6, 2014 ... Eight rivers in Penang in critical state, 4 classified as 'dead'. GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government has identified eight rivers to be in a .

    (Note: The articles can no longer be traced in NST online media but you can still read it in others; a proof of my earlier point i.e if I can't get it from you, there are many other options available)

    The same scenario has plagued the industry in the US and the UK, where in the US " 166 US newspapers vanish in two years Since 2008, more than 166 newspapers in the United States have closed down or stopped publishing a print edition, according to Paper Cuts, a website dedicated to tracking the US press industry downturn. More than 39 print titles shut down in 2008, and 109 did so in 2009. So far in 2010, more than 18 papers have vanished. Since March 2007, there have been nearly 35,000 job losses or redundancies."

  3. Re. Hopefully, the bosses of NST will soon find a way to revive its fortune.

    There is nothing much that the management of NST can do to revive NST print version to its former glory, for time is changing. They have to start looking and planning ahead by embracing the development of ICT technology wholeheartedly, and there is no two ways about it. The Guardian UK, The New York Times, The Huffington Post etc. have started going towards that direction.

    Therefore improving the number of online hits is utmost important for NST. Advertisers will look for this number in their decision making process, the longer the NST wait, the farther they will be left behind, for one thing that they have to understand, consumers/readers are habitual creature, their loyalty will depend on how aggressive you are in promoting your services and products, as well as your brand building strategy.

    Restricting the content of the news will only work for so long, for readers will learn to pick up the whole story from other online medias. Further, online subscription doesn't work well with the Malaysian population at large, for many of them have the habit of 'SEMUANYA KALAU BOLEH NAK PERCUMA, KALAU TAK DAPAT PERCUMA TAK APA, BOLEH PINJAM KAWAN PUNYA", not knowing that there are a lot of blood, sweats, and tears that have been put into the papers, from felling down the trees to produce paper to its final print.

    Meantime, as a short term strategy, Helen Ang has called for MARA to cancel the The J-Star subscription who is a "GUNTING DALAM LIPATAN' and owned by MCA from all Mara Junior College, plus any subscription to the GLC and Government agencies. This should be replaced by NST at once.


    1. The correct move is to cancel all English paper subscription. After all how many Malay can still read English paper?

    2. Re. After all how many Malay can still read English paper?

      To answer your question, Satiman Jamin is one example of many Malays out there who speak and write good English. Whereas, outside this circle it is not that they can't read ENGLISH, but rather they are habitual creature who are more at ease with reading materials in Bahasa Melayu and which more in tune with their culture, environment and lingo. This scenario is common across all other races. Thus to ask a question of "After all how many Malay can still read English paper?" is rather shallow.

      For academic purpose, hard copy is still needed, thus to cancel the subscription is out of the question, although moving towards online subscription is applaud.

    3. Anon 09:55 must be an ultra-kiasu Chinese. How many Chinese can read English newspaper?

    4. I was teary-eyed reading the story. Most of us Malays started from humble beginning. My parents were not educated but being Kelantanese, they were good in business. They would not allow my sisters and I to do household chores but only study. All the 3 of us managed to further our studies even got scholarships for studies abroad but our mother (our father died when we were still very young) would not allow us to be too far away from her. We succeeded and held good jobs. Now both my sisters had sent all their offspring abroad for further studies using their own money. The moral of the story is education is very important to uplift a person's status.

  4. It was a good write-up. I have nothing against him as a person, but I have a beef with the "newspaper" he works/ worked for. Many times it wasn't reporting news, just political spin.
    The only way NST can revive its fortunes is to drop the "pro-establishment" bit and be a real newspaper.
    I don't expect it to be pro-Pakatan like Malaysiakini.
    Just report the true news as it is, no spin, no concoctions.

    1. Be more specific. List down the spins. Give a few example

    2. Anon 10:50 thinks Malaysiakini and TMI are the only newsportals which are 'true' in their reporting because he/she lives in a cocoon surrounded by his own kind and gets a daily dosage of 'feel Good's news by reading those garbage.

    3. Malaysiakini pro-Pakatan? Maybe, but I would've thought that it along with Malaysia Chronicle, Free Malaysia Today, Malaysiandigest and the like are more anti-Malay and anti-Muslim than anything else. Their articles have low journalistic quality and are mostly written by bitter and emotional individuals who seem to have an axe to grind with the Malays & Muslims. Or are they being paid to write such drivels by some 'unseen hands'?

  5. It's really heart breaking story by this Satiman, personal experience in life , I almost shed tears myself .
    I believe many still has that kind of life in the present times , but the evangelist Chinese say that, UMNO leads government should stop giving them "tongkat" , but they themselves has been successful with that tongkat policy ,yet they say they had been successful on their own effort .
    Bribing their way to success , in the same time screaming to stop cronyism and corruption .

  6. This story dispels the myth that Malays are lazy. The rubber tappers for example work before dawn but they are still poor. The paddy farmers also work equally hard.

    So laziness has nothing to do with race and religion.

    1. Dan (ingatlah), Allah memberi rezeki kepada sesiapa yang dikehendakiNya dengan tidak terkira (menurut undang-undang peraturanNya).(Baqarah:212)

  7. YTL Power withdraws from the consortium to develop power plant in Pasir Gudang

    KUALA LUMPUR: YTL Power International Bhd has withdrawn from the consortium awarded by the Energy Commission to develop the 1,000MV to 1,400MV combined cycle power plant in Pasir Gudang, Johor.

    “In view of the misconception over the project, YTL Power has decided not to participate in the project under the present arrangement to dispel any misgivings over the government’s commitment to transparency and good governance,” the company said in a statement issued today.

    YTL Power said the Energy Commission has been transparent over the terms of the award which have been announced.

    Despite the commission’s clarification, YTL Power said there has been, in recent weeks, much misunderstanding and public debate over the award of the project.

    The commission issued a letter of award dated May 27 2014 to SIPP Energy Sdn Bhd, which provided for participation by YTL Power and Tenaga Nasional Bhd for the development of the new power plant in Johor.

    ps. When it comes to showdown with an organised group, such as TNB Union, Najib always have his tail between his legs.

    Just wondering what is the compensation to YTL?

    1. Voluntary withdrawal will not be entitled for any compensation.

    2. Is there such thing as "voluntary" in this chinese bastard's vocabulary?

    3. They may have put in the "escape clause" in the MOU.

    4. Nobody walk away from billion ringgit deal just like that. The one in front is just a convenient, just like toilet bowl. There are many parties waiting for their share of the loot, some may have been paid advances. A few might even have paid deposit for his/her sportscar or bungalows.



    Joy at the start
    Fear in the journey
    Joy in the coming home
    A part of the heart gets lost in the learning
    Somewhere along the road

    Along the road your path may wander
    A pilgrim's faith may fail
    Absence makes the heart grow fonder
    Darkness obscures the trail

    Cursing the quest
    Courting disaster
    Measureless nights forbode
    Moments of rest
    Glimpses of laughter
    Are treasured along the road

    Along the road your steps may stumble
    Your thoughts may start to stray
    But through it all a heart held humble
    Levels and lights your way

  9. Loving your pictures and the genuine and poignant way you have put your story across - you're an inspiration and I am following your journey - awesome work!