Thursday, August 30, 2007

salam merdeka

rakan dan kawan
teman dan kenalan

eratkan setiakawan
teguhkan perjuangan
kuatkan iman

pahit manis ditelan
perit jerih jadikan laluan
simpan seribu kenangan
jadikan azimat sepanjang zaman

ayuh teruskan perjuangan
semangat jangan luntur
hati mesti berani
jiwa mesti merdeka!

30 ogos, 2007
kuala lumpur

Monday, August 27, 2007

Kelantan Delight - goodbye and good luck!

MIKHAIL S Zhovner walked into the Kelantan Delight restaurant at KLCC last week asking if he can try the nasi kerabu, a famous rice dish from Kelantan and the east coast. He insisted that he wanted to try the rice because it was recommended by the author of a Russian tour guide book!

Restaurant owner Juhaidi just couldn't believe his ears. Here was a genuine Russian tourist, who hails from Moscow, and was asking for nasi kerabu! Zhovner had walked into the restaurant on Aug 22 with four other friends who had all heard about the dish and were so eager to try it out.

But they were disappointed. They came on the closing night of the famous restaurant. The kitchen has been closed and the owners had instead organised a private function to say Thank You to their loyal patrons over the years. Instead, the Russians were treated to the buffet spread and went away happy and cheerful.

You see, Kelantan Delight had to close it doors to customers, and have to move out to a new location near KL Sentral in the next couple of months. High rental and some strange policy used by the management of KLCC Suria had forced the restaurant to close.

Its owners, Juhaidi and Zainab, have been at KLCC since 1997, operating at first from the food court before opening a proper restaurant, one that has done so well, beyond the expectation of its owners.

I had thought that Juhaidi had invited the Russians to the restaurant's final night, a sort of farewell to regular customers and friends. As it turned out, the Russians were indeed genuine tourists.

The restaurant is no stranger to local and foreign food hunters; and they seldom go home disappointed. Specialties such as lompat tikam (desset) have long been a favourite of many. My favourite is the daging masak merah and tom yam.

On the closing night, Juhaidi had invited orphans and old folks and gave then a treat. With Ramadhan just round the corner, I thought that it was a fitting farewell. The owners of Kelantan Delights are not shy of sharing their wealth with the less privileged and have-nots.

Many people have good memories of Kelantan Delight. The owners have done well for themselves, especially for sticking to their guns when they opened the restaurant 10 years ago. The naysayers have been plentiful, but most have been won over.

But Juhaidi did not succeeed in winning over the policy makers at KLCC Suria. It seems that retail outlets at KLCC Suria have to refurbish and refresh their outlets regularly to maintain a 'new' look all the time. This costs money, big money.

And not many retailers have the capacity or deep pockets to do this, without eating into their margines. Operators like Juhaidi and Zainab braved the competition and did well for themselves. But to continue operating at the KLCC, they have to spend more to make their outlet look 'new and fresh.'

And how would they recover their costs after spending on renovations and new tables and chairs? Pass them to customers? Would the rental remain the same after all the renovations? No way! Rental will go up and the price of the lompat tikam and daging masak merah will all carry new and revised (upwards that it) price tags!

I wish Juhaidi and Zainab will find a more reasonable landlord when they reopen soon. They are a victim of their own success. Good luck with your new outlet!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

In this corner, weighing 50kg...Karim S!

COME August 12, Karim Sulaiman, celebrates his 46th birthday. Which is just about a week from today. And he celebrates it with extra kilos to his weight - 50kg to be exact! In Dec last year, this award-winning journalist was only 35kg, and reducing.

Karim, as you may be aware, suffers from an extremely rare skin disease called scleromyxoedema. The disease makes his skin taut, stiffen his joints which makes eating solid food difficult and sometimes impossible. To date, medical scientists are still trying to find a cure for this ailment.

I spoke to him today after getting a text message from his wife, Siti Hawa. Siti Hawa had given me an update and she sounded happy and excited on the phone. When Karim came on the line, he was even more excited:

"Cik Mad! Alhamdulillah! I'm most thankful to Him for allowing me to continue to survive this far. I've gone for my sixth treatment at the Department of Dermatology at Hospital kuala Lumpur and the doctors have just been wonderful.

"They are going all out and have been very thorough in their examination. I have only Thank You to say to them!"

His voice is also a lot clearer and stronger. Last year, it was almost difficult to make out his words. One has to strain to try and make out what he was saying. Often, his wife had to intervene and translate his slurred speech.

Today, Karim moves about in the house more independently; he can climb stairs unaided; and is also able to climb the higher stairs in the mosque near his house much better and with less difficulty. He's also an avid Internet surfer.

I asked him if had seen his picture in the Berita Harian special supplement to mark it's 50th anniversary a few days ago. He said No, but he's heard about it. I suspect he no longer buys newspaper. Maybe Berita Harian should send him daily copies of the newspaper...

Three of Karim's children are in boarding school and each of them receive some financial support from the SP Setia Foundation chaired by Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye. Since Karim was still salaried, albeit only a half-month, each child can claim up to RM500 per year for their school expenses.

They can claim up to RM1,000 a year if Karim is no longer getting his salary. Siti Hawa is very grateful that many well-wishers have poured help to Karim and the family. They are just as grateful to everyone who offer doa and words of encouragement as they battle this hardship.

Karim's progress has been so encouraging and he's very eager to meet deputy health minister Datuk Dr Latif Ahmad, the person who helped facilitate his treatment at HKL. Maybe we can all drop in at his house and celebrate his 46th birthday together.