Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Remembering CM, my brother.

                                                 The Obituary

During the festive season of Chinese New Year this year (February 2013) my family could not rejoice the spirit of get togetherness as my younger brother CM was killed in a freak accident in Batu Pahat, Johore. CM, a semi-retired consultant engineer had gone to visit my eldest brother who had been residing in Batu Pahat for the past 3 decades. CM was out having a morning walk around 7am on Feb 9th 2013 near the residential garden where my brother stayed. A woman rider of a motor-cycle (Her age unknown) lost control of her bike and fell behind CM; the motorcycle was flung away from the rider and hit CM at the back of his neck. There was a gush of blood oozing out from his injury through an opening at the back of his neck. He was rushed to the Batu Pahat General Hospital with the help of a kind Samaritan. By using CM’s mobile phone, we were stunned to be informed of his grave condition resulted from a very unfortunate mishap. 

However the BP GH could not handle CM’s worsening condition so they arranged to send him to Johore Bahru’s Sultanah Aminah Hospital in an ambulance with CM’s son Eugene keeping the father company. We were told that he had difficulty in his breathing. By the time we rushed to the Johor Bahru hospital’s Red Zone section, we saw Eugene sobbing, standing next to a pillar, talking on his mobile phone: My father is already brain-dead! My niece FY, a doctor based in KL Hospital, called and talked to the neuron-surgeon to inquire how bad CM’s condition was. She was told that the blood clogged at his neck prevented steady oxygen supply to his brain. 

CM was admitted into the multi-specialty Hospital Sultanah Aminah, JB, where he died peacefully without regaining consciousness on the 1st Day of Chinese New Year Feb. 10th 2013. 

We were very saddened and felt a great loss imminent. CM was transferred to the High Dependent Unit (HDU) of the hospital for observation. He succumbed to the injury inflicted at his neck and died at 2am, February 10th 2013, the 1st day of the lunar calendar Chinese New Year. On the 3rd day of CNY, Feb 12th, CM’s body and casket was brought to Kuala Lumpur for the observation of wake and eventual cremation. There was a trying time when we frantically trying to connect CM’s widow who was in Australia visiting her sister. At long last Eugene got her mother on the phone after two days and she flew back to KL right away. CM’s daughter Grace flew more than 48 hrs, including the transit hours to reach KL from Vancouver, Detroit, LA., Taipei and finally KLIA. I arranged my sons Leslie and Lincoln, and a niece to pick her up; when they met, it was obvious she had been crying over the loss of her dear father. It was a very touching moment when she greeted her cousins in tears at the airport. By the time she arrived at the funeral parlor, she had more or less regained her composure. The funeral was purportedly delayed by two days. It was held solemnly in simple and quiet Buddhist rites. CM was cremated on the 5th day of the CNY i.e. 14th Feb. 2013 around 11am. 

The immense loss of CM of course is a devastating blow to us but we mourn not merely just about his passing but for the fact that he was the smartest and healthiest among all the siblings. CM was a Tai Chi instructor to a small group of health enthusiasts in Kuala Lumpur. We know well that he was not young any more when he left for another world; he was already 62 (He turned 62 last November) when he died. He did not suffer any common senior aged sickness like diabetes, high cholesterol or hyper tension etc. A full fledged vegetarian for more than two decades he could have lived healthily for another 20 years. He met his ill-fate for which he so undeserved for. It is hard for us to accept that CM has left us, yet life must go on; it is so saddening.

CM’s daughter Grace forwarded us an uncompleted mail her father had written in the draft folder of his Yahoo. Mail account, which read:

Dear Grace and Eugene:

As you are growing up as a child until a teenager, your parents may had reprimanded you from time to time for not being obedient or for not working on your home work or just being too involved with computer games and things like that but the fact remains that your parents are the only ones who loves you unconditionally in this whole wide world.

For all ancient civilizations such as the Chinese, the Indian and perhaps the Jews etc.  their culture teaches being thankful and………….(Uncompleted)

I replied Grace’s mail with a short message:

Dear Grace,

We know the loss of your dearest Dad is immense.
Eventually some of his unfinished works and mails
may surface to catch you off guard. Brace yourself
to a world without CM Kok as memories and image
of him linger on in our mind. The short mail from him
meant for his children is so touching and we feel the
sentiment deep in our heart, that's why you always
call your Dad "PaPa dearest." Take care.

2nd Uncle.



My brother CM Kok was trained at Universiti Malaya in the early 1970s as a civil engineer and upon graduation worked for the Public Works department under the Works Ministry. Prior to that he was given a scholarship to study at the University of Sheffield, UK for his engineering degree. However a bumiputra student was selected instead at the last moment to replace him by the PSC (Public Service Commission). In 1986, after working in the civil service for 10 years, CM obtained a scholarship from the PSC to pursue his Master of Engineering at University of Florida, Gainesville, US. He had varied and vast experience in harbor management, coastal and marine engineering works. He had a brief stay in Japan to study bridge engineering too. He spent 2 years stationing at the Port of Kuantan as chief engineer. During his tenure in the Public works department, he was involved in projects like the construction of the East-West Highway, Kelantan, the expansion of causeway, Johore Bahru, and the designing of the jetty at Kuah, Pulau Langkawi.   During his final few years in PWD HQ, he oversaw the construction of residential housing for the poorer islanders of Maldives, in the Indian Ocean.  CM left the works ministry early at 42 and founded his own engineering consultant firm. He was telling me that he would slow down to retire soon but fate did him a cruel blow that rendered us in shambles to grieve over his inopportune demise.

                        Candle burns to mark a passing life
Alan CY Kok

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Death of a cat helped to avert the collapse of an agro-farm enterprise

The ambitious and far-sighted entrepreneur Xu Ji Yuan 徐纪元 now receives thousands of visitors to his famous landmark agro-farm resort village "Long Jia Le 农家乐 " everyday some 20 km from Chengdu City.

Back in the early 80s China began to open its door to the modern world for tourists’ influx in a large scaled manoeuvre. The ancient country decided to discard their out dated image as a socialist, Stalinist doctrine state when Xu Ji Yuan 徐纪元 was still a struggling middle-aged farmer trying to make both ends meet. Xu toiled hard on two acres of his farmland on fruit orchards, flowering plants and vegetables. In the early 80s he opened his orchard and farmland to the public for leisure visit without charging a fee. Visitors were impressed with the tastefully designed and well maintained agro-farm he ran with the scenic surrounding of his farmland just 20kms from Chengdu City, Szechwan Province. With the gradual increase of local and foreign tourists arriving every day, it seemed that something should be addressed urgently. Visitors to his “Long Jia Le - 农家乐” agro-farm needed to get back to the city for their meals as quickly as they arrived with curious eyes and anxiety to explore. The owner of one of the traveling agencies suggested to him that he should establish a restaurant at his farm to cater for hungry visitors. The agency owner would share with him the profit for providing meal for ten at RMB 300 per table, i.e. Xu would keep RMB 200. He was told that the local Chinese tourists wanted only simple but tasty home cooked meals. After calculating his cost, farm owner Xu still made RMB 100 of profit for keep per table and he usually served three tables of visitors per coach. During those difficult, pioneering years, it was rare to earn RMB 300 in a day, while an average civil workers earned less than RMB 20 per day.

Such serene cottage accommodation provides sheer living comfort in midst of bamboo trees.
A wooden directional map ensures tourists enjoy a leisure walking trail without being getting lost.

A hesitant but sanguine Xu Ji Yuan began his new found business adventure with one table on his maiden trial as a restaurateur. Visitors were seated in the open air on broken chairs and slanting tables. Very soon the numbers of arrivals of tourists expanded tremendously; there were many tour coaches dropping off hundreds of visitors everyday and all of them needed to be fed before departure. Xu erected new restaurant building on land he leased from the provincial government. It was some 40 acres of adjacent agricultural land to expand his agro-farm enterprise and to build home-stay dormitory hostels for student groups who came from far-away villages and cities. Xu also enlisted the help from his sister’s family members as well as his own – 3 hard-working sons and his wife’s to help running the restaurant, besides employing some villagers as restaurant hands.

Tour buses bring in thousands of visitors to Long Jia Le 农家乐Agro-farm resort everyday!
Lake and fish ponds, and pony rides etc. are attractions added to entice more tourist arrivals.

Xu Ji Yuan, now in his 60s, related an alarming, and yet a lesson-well-learned anecdote to the visiting CCTV channel recording and filming crew that he was alert enough to save his business from certain collapse when he saw his family cat vomited and died. It happened in the initial stage when he began to serve meals to visitors at his agro-farm. On that crucial day he had 5 tables of hungry mouths arriving at his restaurant after their brief visit to his agro-farm resort village. Xu had not had enough kitchen hands then that he doubled as one to process the cleaning of chicken, fish, and other meat ingredients. He was cleaning the internal parts of five slaughtered chickens before sending them to the cooking pot, just outside the kitchen. As he took out the heart and liver of the chicken he saw his family cat raised its head, meowing at him. Xu threw the liver part of the chicken to the waiting cat. The feline grabbed the liver and left to have its meal. Minutes later Xu while carrying the buckets containing the chicken meat to enter the kitchen; he saw his home cat lying on the ground, with foam around its mouth, dead.

A poor hungry cat paid for its life for eating poisoned chicken internal parts.

Xu attributed the death of his cat on the fact that one of the chickens he processed had eaten some rat-poison, or had fed itself on a dead mouse. The poor family cat had eaten and swallowed the liver of a chicken, thus paid its life for it. Had Xu served his visitors the poisoned chicken dish, some of them would definitely be stricken with illness and some might even lose their lives; and that could mean the certain collapse of his budding enterprise. He apologized profusely to his customers for the delay and replaced with sumptuous pork dish to the awaiting visitors. The incident taught Xu Ji Yuan a valuable lesson to be vigilant and cautious for his future endeavors.

Xu Ji Yuan demonstrated his cooking skill to a visiting CCTV host.
She was so curious about the soya bean grinding mill used in the early years. It is still functioning and the soya bean curd tastes even better. It could be used for rice grinding too.
Xu was interviewed by CCTV filming crew with his hotel shown in the background.

As China entered the new millennium, Xu introduced many attractions to his resort world of “Long Jia Le Agro-Farm”. Now tourists and visitors of all ages are able to enjoy themselves amidst scenic surrounding; they could go strolling, or just remain sitting and chatting. The younger set will go for pony-rides and have pictures taken with the multitude of fanciful colored flower beds. A man-dug mountain stream with a mini-water mill over it runs though the agro-farm, with some large fish ponds added so as to enhance the enchanting natural ambience. Ambitious Xu added two more hotel blocks to meet his ago-farm resort’s need for its accommodation facility. The hotel boasts of a large convention cum multi-purpose hall. Xu bought a 200 acre wide, gentle sloped land a short distance away from his farm to plant red-colored maple leaf-like low shrub plants as well as to plant trees for his conservation measures and project. It was particularly meaningful as his agro-farm resort “Long Jia Le” provided employment opportunities to many villagers of all ages, who otherwise would be idling or be leaving for distance cities to seek employment.

Xu and his family live in these two impressively majestic bungalows. Three of his sons are married with children of their own. His sons are great helpers in running his Agro-farm resort.

It was estimated that the farmer turned entrepreneur earned about RMB 80 million in gross income per year for the past three years after his undying effort of persistent diligence bore fruit of his success. The big break through came some 10 years ago when he first upgraded his ago-farm with RMB 2 million fund; till now he had already upgraded his resort attraction 4 times at a total cost of RMB 200 million. For his achievement since Xu began his business venture some 27 years ago, the China National Tourism Board awarded him on April 2006 as the winner of “The Pioneer and Originator of Agro-farm home stay-styled Resorts of China” in founding his “Long Jia Le 农家乐 Agro-Farm”. His resort now receives few thousand of visitors every day, and that is a remarkable feat. Villagers nearby began to emulate and imitate Xu to have their own agro-farms in various sizes so as to try their luck in venturing into the tourism trade. Now there are about 50 of them in the vicinity of Chengdu City, Szechwan Province. Xu Ji Yuan has never felt threatened as he is always No. 1 in his specialized field as a hardworking farmer, a learned environmental agriculturist, a hotelier and a far-sighted, successful entrepreneur.

Alan CY Kok           

Monday, 4 February 2013

Life for the seniors - no offence intended

Let's go - do crazy things together! 

for reading.

Comic cartoons obtained from
mails received through the net.

Alan CY Kok

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Two jokes and two short stories

E for empty!! We're running out of gas! quick, make a beeline to the petrol kiosk!

Short story no.1: Wife’s former beau

On a fine weekend John Adams, Senior President of a large corporation was free enough to accompany his wife Magdalene for shopping; they were out with him at the wheel when he realized that the car needed refilling of gas. “Damn!” John was cursing his driver for not topping up the gas when he handed the car to John before the weekend.  While waiting to fill up the gas for the car, John realized that his wife was being uneasy in her expression.

                    Topping up the gas before going for a long distant ride.

“What’s bugging you, Mag my dear? You seemed to have seen a ghost!”
“Nah! I didn’t see anything ghastly.” Magdalene spoke almost inaudibly while remaining seated in the car. She pointed to a pump attendant at the petrol station, “See that man, John? He was my ex-boy friend before I married you.”
“Now don’t you feel proud and glad to have married me – I am the Senior President of a large conglomerate of chained corporations?”
“What make you so certain? If I were to marry him, he will be the Senior President of the large conglomerate of chained corporations, NOT you!” The husband was caught tongue tight and was unable to retort at that instant. 

Short story No.2: 

The glass window couldn't be opened!

                                Look Mom, I'm about to hold her hand.
                   Girl seated next to the glass window of the school bus.
                One by one, no hurry. The patient driver will wait for you.

On the first day of a new schooling year, 12 year-old Jaime was excited to find himself in the school bus seated next to a sweet young thing; the cherubic doll-like girl was sitting close to the glass window but she did not utter a sound, nor she returned a ‘Hello, Good morning!’ accosting from Jaime.  Gathered enough courage, Jaime scribbled on a piece of paper and handed the note over to the girl of his dream. It read: ‘Do you want to be my friend? If you do, kindly pass the note back to me. If you don’t, just throw the piece of paper out of the window!” Jaime was elated to receive the note returned to him from the girl. She wrote on the returning note: 

"The damned glass window of the bus couldn't be opened!"

The school bus, India.   
                        Old School Bus with open window              

Story no. 3 is not a joke:

Boss had been working very hard for me.

Wealthy Chinese women showing off the fruit of their hard work,
                                         and conquest of the day-expensive
                                               branded apparels bought.
A modern day Chauffeur 

Middle aged Chinese titan tycoon of Zhejiang Province (Shanghai and the neighboring cities) Wang Jin Yao died prematurely in his prime in the modern business world of China. It was most unfortunate as his business empire had been reaping handsome rewards after more than two decades of his matriculate planning in marketing and sales and untiring effort.  Shortly after his demise, Wang’s widow, armed with a cache of RMB 1.9 billion worth of property and solid cash, married his driver. While basked in fortune, bliss and sudden wealth, the lucky former chauffeur sighed: In the past, I thought that I had been working busily and faithfully for the boss. Now I realized it was the other way round; he had been working very hard for me.

Heavily dressed up for the occasion. A bride wears as much of gold as possible on her big day when she ties the knot. These are mainly the gifts presented to her by in-laws, relatives of both parties and from friends and folks. To the wealthy and famous people, this is a day to show off how much they are worth. Very often it is way too extravagant and excessively ostentatious in displaying their vanity in their traditional cultural practice. 

Story no. 4:

If you don’t want the gift from the boss, you can give to others.

How do you like it when your boss presents you a casket like this as an incentive in recognition of your hard work.

A company in Southern China was doing fairly well that at year end the owner selected one of his best employee to be bestowed a rare gift from the company as a token for his loyal service. However the gift turned up to be a coffin! The employee was looking forward for some cash reward or something precious like a branded apparel or a gold pendant etc. For most Chinese people, receiving a gift in the form of a solid coffin was a great taboo that should be shunned as it signified death. However the weirdo bigoted boss insisted that the coffin was an ideal gift for his worker. He explained that coffin in Mandarin words ‘kuan cai’ meant ‘official wealth’ when written in different Chinese characters but pronounced as the same. He claimed to mean well to the employee and had harbored no funny idea or hidden agenda. The employer lamented: “As for the gift, if my employee did not want it, it could be donated to those who needed it.” He incurred the wrath of hundred thousands of China’s netizens who cursed him for his miserly ethics and insensitive treatment to his staff.

Back in the 1800s (or even earlier) till 1960s some wealthy Chinese families hoarded old styled coffins at the back of their large houses, in the store rooms, to standby in times of "emergency use". With the elders witnessed so much untimely death and misery during the warring years, the seniors were concerned that their descendants might have no money to buy coffins when facing their demise. Honestly speaking, though the art of making traditional coffin has been deemed a crafty value of the Chinese heritage, the finished products always present an eerie, ghastly look, especially under dim light. The traditional Chinese coffin if available, is very heavy and expensive too. 

Alan CY Kok