Monday, 6 February 2012

An ignorant & naive wealthy man's encounter with a fisherman

Such wonderful sunset scene on one of the Terengganu Beach is a daily occurence for the fishermen.
The covered jetty of the Kuala Dungun town as seen from a distance away
The state of Terengganu boasts of a very modern, upgraded toll-freed highway along the coast.
The state definitely have benefitted from its off-shore oil and gas exploration activities. Kerteh is well-known in the country as a Petronas Town.

Ibrahim pulled his car, a posh BMW5.28i saloon to a stop by the jetty of the East Coast town of Dungun, Terengganu, Peninsula Malaysia. He got off his car, lighted a cigarette and began to puff a month full of the nicotine-filled smoke into the breeze of the fishing village that welcomed his arrival. With that Ibrahim felt so relieved of his tiredness after driving for more than 5 hours from Kuala Lumpur. He found it hard to move his heavy body of 130kgs along the rubbish strewn walkway towards the jetty where he could sit down and enjoy the myriad-colored sunset. At 52 years Ibrahim was a successful businessman in the construction industry. He was a class ‘A” contractor; many thanks to the federal government’s effort in grooming bumiputras into the wealthy class among the citizens. He counted himself lucky as he had some correct connection and contacts whenever he submitted his tender for works. With some extra last moments effort he always had his way to gain the winning bid. He had always smiled insidiously with the notion that one needed to be unscrupulous sometimes in order to possess a winning edge.
Many rags to riches men in the country could not wait to equip themselves with high powered luxury cars.
                Two wealthy men in the midst of some serious discussion.

Ibrahim found he was not alone at the covered end of the long jetty; “Heck, I thought I could enjoy the sunset alone here!” He grumbled quietly. A middle-aged man slowly raised his lowered head and greeted him softly: Salam Wailaikum! He had just awakened to realize Ibrahim was near. Wailakum Salam! Ibrahim instantly replied the accosting. After a handshake and the greetings done, Ibrahim lighted the second cigarette and promptly handed one over to the seemingly tired man. The man turned down his kind offer; instead he lighted up his own rolled tobacco leaf. “I’m Ibrahim, and you are? You’re a fisherman, am I right?” asked Ibrahim exuding an air of arrogance like a person who had found sudden wealth. “Yeah. I’m Mat the fisherman” Answered the man meekly; he seemed to be a person with few words.

Whilst the Terengganu villagers traditonally picked turtle eggs from the beaches to sell to supplement their income, a number of turtle hatcheries were set up to educate the people, urging them to stop the practice. This huge turtle (1.5m long) was found to be dead on the beach in February 2008. 

Ibrahim suddenly felt a necessary urge to part what he wanted to say to the fisherman: Why don’t you be like me, go seeking a better life elsewhere in the bigger cities like Kota Baru, Penang, Kuala Lumpur or Johor Baru? I hailed from somewhere around here but I’d made my millions in the city. Now I own large houses, some pieces of lands, and big cars. I can choose my own time to drive here, after a hard day’s work, seeping tea and enjoy seeing the sun going down the horizon. Don’t you think life is wonderful?

The bitter gourd omelette can be found in Chinese eateries in Kuala Dungun
          The ever popular Keropok Lekor is a favourite small bite for all.

Just then the fisherman picked up a half-consumed, packed tea in a plastic bag, hung from one of the pillar of the covered jetty and sipped the drink with a straw. He answered Ibrahim in a matter-of-fact manner, still softly and gently: Am I not doing that NOW?

Racing bicycle teams going through the tedious journey to the south towards Kuantan, flanking the South Chinese Sea on their left. Fortunately for them as here it is flat ground all the way.

The words sounded like thunders to Ibrahim’s ears. They silenced him straight away and for that moment removed his haughtiness and overbearing self-esteem. Ibrahim felt ashamed about his naivety and shallow mindedness, though he still cursed about wasting time talking to a wretched, haggard village fisherman. He left the jetty quickly to overcome his embarrassment. Within minutes he steered his car to the highway, and made a beeline towards Kuala Lumpur where he made his first million, forgetting his intended trip to the northern most city of Kota Baru.

Alan CY Kok


  1. Hi Alan,
    Salam Wailaikum!
    Just finished reading your blog. Thoroughly enjoyed it. I should visit Terengganu in future.

    Thanks for including me in all your previous emails.


  2. Hi Alan,
    Good and well-written on 'The Ignorant and Naive Wealthy Man's Encounter With A Fisherman'. It highlights the true teaching of Jesus who said in a parable he narrated to his followers," He who humbles himself shall be exalted; He who exalts himself shall be humbled'......

    Jeremy LKH,

  3. Hi Alan,

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