Twenty Three Years

Soldering On To & Soldiering On in the Service

Turning twenty three (23) in the State Civil Service was another ordinary day. In fact I never realised the anniversary until I signed some documents and I asked my colleague the date I should put in the date column. When she mentioned its the eleventh of July then I remembered it was 23 years ago this once young officer reported for duty at the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, at eighth floor Wisma Bapa Malaysia.

Looking at Wisma Bapa Malaysia
Looking across at Wisma Bapa Malaysia building from my office window, a structure that many think from afar look like an old structure, out of place as it is being surrounded by many modern buildings

Looking back at how long since I embraced the Civil Service I realised how things have changed. In fact I can see with great admiration and sadness at Wisma Bapa Malaysia, where I first reported for duty, from my new office as it was there the sweet and bitter memories, the ups and down lies. Recruitment that time was not so complicated like it is now where one needs excellent grades to be considered qualified for selection. Yes its the age of talents now for those who wish to join the service. For many who have applied in the recent years and those who succeeded to reach the examination, assessment and finally interview stage will know how tough it is. The ones who made it through the various phases are considered the cream on top. I would not know if I would have survived if I had to go through the process myself.

Each time a young officer comes under me I would sound like an old uncle saying things like “Boy, in our days we had to use bus to the waterfront and cross the river by official boat, then use van sapu to get to office”. Its true back then, we had no hand phones in our hands before they were called smartphones. Only my banker friends would have one and those working with Sarawak Securities that I could recall would have more than one probably for dealing with different clients. Personal Computers were additional luxuries and well basically only the typists will have them. Officers get to share one computer at the resource room ~ a unit provided by MAMPU back then.

Being a young officer that time the office left it to me how to figure out it worked and there was a lot of trial and error. Yes the standard of measurement to be competent with computers that time was as long as you are young you know how it works. So from there on, most of the knowledge was self taught and self learning because I hate to see technology lay to waste. By coincidence most of my friends that time were the young Sarawak Computer Services (SCS back then but now known as SAINS) fellas who were a few floors below and they come up to service the MAMPU computer every time I infected it with virus. My senior officer colleagues wished no part in touching it and I understand why as the computer interface was pretty confusing. Icons were not easily memorable and opened up different things when clicked. So we usually end up having “Boy, in our days we did it this way and that way….” conversations with me but I learned a lot also from them as these officers could memorise service circulars like a super computer. No need to refer to any internet or links as their brains worked like Google’s browser and have almost perfect accuracy in quoting reference numbers for the different circulars.

A different world
Its a different kind of world out there right now, one that involves hashtags

Yes I have to admit those were memorable days and fast forward 23 years the changes has been overwhelming. In a way we could say the introduction of information technology (IT) or rather Information Communication Technology (ICT) has been quite disruptive. But its necessary also as the load of information run in the millions especially if we talk about Big Data now. With the Digital Economy journey in full gear and the strive towards Fourth Industrial Revolution you start thinking, maybe I can get my younger officers deal with all these changes. After all they are young and these Internet of Things stuffs should be kacang (come natural) for them. But then one has to come to terms with the new challenges of serving in the 21st Century. The New Synthesis preached by Jocelyne Bourgon explains it well on how to ‘anticipate what might be, to prevent what can be and to adapt to what will be‘. Well I have to agree on the adapting part and we have to adapt together. Its a world of hashtags now, that’s for sure as this is the way the millennial generation express themselves these days.

Talk about hashtags, come now, lets not get too serious in this posting and lets celebrate another anniversary in the form of the Rainforest World Music Festival 2017 as it dishes out its twentieth (20th) anniversary this year. Post your images while you are there and do that hashtag thing with #RWMF2017. See you when I see you and very surely in social media.

Sada Kamek 2017

Nature’s Tunes

Basically I was wondering also why the event would be called Sada Kamek but it was described as the sound of nature by the Rainforest Fringe website. It could have been called a pre Rainforest World Music Festival concert to give it more oomph. But Sada Kamek was picked by the organisers and I guess its there to stay, hopefully.

The atmosphere at the Kuching Amphitheatre was befitting of a Sarawak Talents concert as the performers were all from Sarawak and they played and sang along to traditional instruments; though not all but for some of the songs they did. Although some singers sang modern songs, the massive crowd that gathered there was very responsive to the different tunes. Sometimes fast and sometimes slow then fast again. It was like a good teaser to a really exciting dance movie. In fact the party vibes were in the air and people actually danced. My mind was already thinking about work as tonight was a Sunday and I have a whole load of assignments waiting for me in the office. But the star attractions in the likes of Dayang Nurfaizah, Noh Salleh, Nading Rhapsody, At Adau, Pete Kallang , Alena Murang  and Mathew Ngau were too much of a magnet to miss. Either that or it was my boss’s instruction to attend. Whatever it is I am thankful to have seen these bands and individuals perform. The idea of experimental music both by Nading Rhapsody and At Adau was something newto me and its pleasant to the ears.

And So We Danced

Towards the end of the night the weather was kind, the music became the only source of energy that flowed into one’s tensed muscles giving way to a rhythmic move that can only end in dancing. It provides an exciting preview of what would be coming to the Sarawak Cultural Village within the next few days. Some Oohaaa moments awaiting and with most bands that are coming into Kuching will be equally exciting. The beer will be good too for me I hope. After all there are shuttle buses to bring one to and fro the venue not forgetting Grab Car and Uber are in town.

What would be my survival guide advice to those who are coming down for the World Forest Music Festival? I read a lot of advices being posted by the Rainforest World Music Festival veterans recently. DDJ can only stress on the idea of being fit to be able to dance all night long for the 3 days of the event. Hit the road, run the mile and hit the gymnasium before you all come here for the fun and dance. Download those fitness apps and also the Grab Car and Uber apps. I am sure they will be useful in one way or another.

Rainforest Fringe Launch

Rainforest Fringe Official Launch

The Rainforest Fringe has just been launched promising an interesting array of 10 days events meant to warm up the early bird fans both locals and abroad who are streaming into Kuching for the Rainforest World Music Festival 2017 . The different sideline activities which will be held before the the main event on 14th to 16th July 2017 are also attractive in its own way displaying the rich cultural and arts resources that are mostly Sarawak based. So it was at the Sarawak Tourism Complex (the Old Court House) the program took off. Simple but meaningful, the ceremony was officiated by the Sarawak’s Honourable Minister for Tourism, Datuk Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah and those present included his two Assistant Ministers YB Datuk Lee Kim Shim and YB Snowdan Lawan. Those who were present and those who will be participating in the various upcoming events are encouraged to share their activities in social media using the hashtags #rainforestfringe #rwmf2017 .

Sape player before the launching of rainforest fringe
A meaningful launching event with the sound of sape being played to entertain the guests


YB Minister giving his speech during the launching ceremony
The Honourable State Minister for Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports, Sarawak (MTACYS) Datuk Haji Abdul Karim Ramhan Hamzah delivers his speech to officiate the Rainforest Fringe


VVIPS for the launching of Rainforest Fringe event Sarawak on 7.7.2017
The top brass from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports with the Sarawak Tourism Board attending the launching ceremony of the Rainforest Fringe


Selfies momeny at the Sarawak Rainforestfrinve 2017 launching
Selfies moment for those present at the launching ceremony of the Rainforestfringe Sarawak comprising mainly of those fans of the Rainforest World Music Festival 2017

Digital Thumbprint & Footprint

Sharing Your Digital Self

Are you one of those who have decided to jump on the digital bandwagon? Everything is about that word digital now. Unknown to many we already have a “digitised” identity on the day we came into this world. Starting with the registration of our name at the National Registration Department (NRD) where we got our birth certificate our details are keyed in and we are assigned an identity number. If not it may be just that number you have in your medical card in between birth and the time you were registered with the NRD recorded somewhere. In a way its any form of information that is related or in modern term ‘linked’ to you.

Thus it is the start of your journey but not so digital as you carry on with life like going to school with your name tag or class photo that you have taken in the school magazine. Social media has not really reached our shores then but we do have that excitement of making new friends and of course in the old days we have pen pal columns where we look for friends in newspapers, entertainment magazines and I also distinctly remember through radios. We exchanged letters, photos, even cassettes and if opportunity allows we will arrange to meet up if they happen to be nearby. Yes, if you were born in the late 60s like me that “digital life” was considered at infancy stage.


Now lets forward that to our present time, the changes have been a hundred folds, The tools, the equipment and medium with which we interact being the social animal we are. Which is why we have our own social media presence or platforms via facebook, instagram, twitter ecetra ecetra. These social media enablers enhances your digital profile by giving by giving a face to the name, description of your likes and dislikes. Even if one uses a different profile image it shows what type of person you are. It may show your pet cat, some famous stars or rock group that you like or something more sinister (like being a Manchester United or Chelsea fan). In a way it will still link you up with people who love cats or those who are fans of the same famous star and rock group or those who support great soccer teams like Liverpool.

These days one can just sit at a kopitiam, a shop which has been tagged by many (including yourself) using Google Map, facebook, Waze, Foursquare Swarm. You whip out your smartphone and take a photo of your favourite dish and upload it to your social media outlet for your online friends to see. A few years ago it can be a delayed post but now it can be live (No thanks to Facebook Live, Instagram Live or Twitter Live). You can actually share online what you are presently gobbling (only God knows why) and it stays there also for others to see later. Anthony Bourdain is smarter as he had other people to hold the camera for him while he enjoys the Laksa Sarawak (and gets paid to do the show).

But there are different levels of sharing depending on the person holding that powerful digital tool especially if its a smartphone with camera-video-gps-face recognition-4G speed capability (powered by the latest Android). Though I would like to say those in my generation will be satisfied just to take automobile accident photos just so we can remember that plate number (for 4D numbers to purposes). Seldom will we share it instantly online unless its a really bizarre incident involving a rabies infected dog and several cars – well maybe put in a zombie turtle that caused the accident.

On an extreme level by my standard will be an image of a beer drinking session with the buddies minus the pretty ladies whom we exclude out of the photos even if they are with us. If we do take the ladies photos we won’t be in it ourselves but we will send it to our buddies in Whatssap and see if they can do better than us. Unlike the younger generations who will whip out their hand phones for selfies, welfies anytime, anywhere including the standard of “washroom mirror image” photos.

I wanna hold your hand Selfie is okay in this case ~ with Sibu Resident Mr Hii Chang Kee

On an extreme level they will share their personal videos online for all to see be it with friends and strangers especially if one is familiar with Biggo Live. I came across a Biggo Live broadcast where it shows no one but still the ‘likes’ were coming in. Still its an interesting observation as the world wide web (especially that browser or apps you are using) now will know you more (where you have been, what you are doing and what you like at what particular time) than your best friends whether you consciously know it or not. If you play the DOTA 2 game online for enough hours the game console will already inform what type of player you are. Similarly if you watch enough Youtube channels the browser or apps will know what genre of channels you prefer. That’s a point to ponder and there is no escaping as the digital infrastructure creeps into the secluded corners of Sarawak for that matter.

Let’s embrace this digital age for its here to stay to disrupt our lives. Do not worry about those beer drinking session photos put online but do make sure that its not posted with a time stamp showing its office hours and that you should be back behind your desk that time.