Monday, August 9, 2010

Joan Baez "We Shall Overcome" (2009)

Just to share with you a 2009 version of Joan Baez's We Shall Overcome made famous by the Civil Rights Movement of Black Americans in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Joan dedicated this version to the Iranian people and therefore parts of the wordings are in Farsi. Why? I don't know. May be to ask the Iranians to be patient just like the Black Americans and that victory or freedom will be eventually theirs. But it looks like the recording was done in her house. Joan is one of my favourite veteran singers partly because she has been around since my bandboy days decades ago. Enjoy and God bless!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

World Cup Final: Bird vs Octopus

On Monday morning or Sunday past-midnight, all eyes (well, almost) on earth will be glued on their TV screens watching the once-in-4-years World Cup football final. Who will win? The frontpage of today's Star, Malaysia's tabloid daily, says it all. Ever since the World Cup started, Paul the octopus had gained worldwide fame by accurately (well,80%) predicting the outcome of matches in which Germany played. But Paul now has a competitor or two - Mani the bird of Singapore says it's going to be Netherlands while Paul says it's Spain. Yet another octopus, Pauline of Netherlands picked her home country to be the new World Cup champions. Looks like the World Cup has turned animals into oracles! (Click on image for better view)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What an Adjutor Bishop is....

It's from the horse's mouth....I managed to get hold of Rev Fr John Wong after today's Morning Mass and asked him what an Adjutor Bishop (his new post) is.

To avoid embarrassment, I first told him that I couldn't find the word adjutor in two major dicionaries. He agreed with me, saying that it's a Christian/Catholic term.

The humble and friendly as well as soft-spoken priest explained to me that an Adjutor Bishop is just like an auxiliary bishop with the right to succession to a full-fledged bishop when a vacancy arises.

Another English/Christian lesson for me. No wonder it's said that learning is a life-long and every-day process. That's why some parties (not necessarily political ones) including the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) do conduct Life-Long Learning classes.

(Footnote: Rev Fr John Wong was promoted as Adjutor Bishop of the Catholic Archbishop of Kota Kinabalu on Monday 21 June 2010; assisting Archbishop Datuk John Lee. Apart from the latter, there are two other Catholic Bishops in Sabah - Datuk Cornelius Piong (Diocese of Keningau) and Fr Julius Gitom (?) of the Sandakan Diocese.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's Coadjutor Bishop John Wong

Here it is, I reproduce herewith Archbishop Datuk John Lee's letter regarding the appointment of Rev Fr John Wong Soo Kau as Coadjutor Bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu.

Yesterday, I wrongly reported it as Adjutant Bishop and I apologize for the mistake. I then based it on my hearing of what was announced only and I managed to lay hands on a copy of the letter only today.

As can be seen, the letter was addressed to all Clergy and Religious communities, and care-taker Parish Pastoral Councils of the Archdiocese.

As stated in the letter, the appointment was made by none other than the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI of the Vatican in Rome.

I still don't know what a Coadjutor Bishop is but I will find out and get back to you. Can't find the word in two major dictionaries. It must be a term used only in the Catholic world. But as I said yesterday the new Bishop must be some kind of a deputy to the Archbishop.

Once again, congratulations Rt Rev Fr John or rather Bishop John!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fr John Wong now a Bishop

The Priest-in-charge of the Catholic Archdiocesan Centre of the Archdiocese of Kota Kinablu, Rev Fr John Wong has been made a co-adjutant Bishop of the Archdiocese.

This was announced after the daily English morning Mass at the St Paul's Church at Dontozidon in Penamnpang on Tuesday 22 June 2010.

The announcement was made by regular morning Mass goer Mr Sylvester Disimon just before the concluding hymn. He was asked to do so by Sister Diana of the church.

Sylvester read out a letter signed by Archbishop Datuk John Lee which said that His Holiness the Pope has approved the appointment effective Monday 21 June 2010.

It was just a short letter and therefor most parishioners remain in the dark as to the exact duty of the new Bishop in view of the extraordinary title. At the moment, one can only assume that Rev Fr John (or rather Bishop) will be assisting the Archbishop, which he has been doing for quite sometime since being posted to the Centre anyway. But of course the new title will give Rev (or should I say Rt Rev) Wong more 'ummph' and added clout. Datuk Lee was the Bishop of KK Diocese before his promotion as Archbishop so one can assume that Fr Wong will be taking over Datuk Lee's former post.

Apart from being Priest-in-charge of the Centre, Fr Wong has also been in charge of a group of young Aspirants to the priesthood; twelve of them to be exact - just like the 12 disciples, perhaps co-incidentally. Being an Aspirant is the first step to the priesthood, after which one will enter the Formation Year of the Seminary in Kota Kinabalu before going to St Peter's College, Kuching for the study proper.

Present at the Mass this morning to hear the announcement was none other than Fr John Wong himself. He presides over the Mass most mornings as the Centre is just below the hill where the church is located. Also present were his students, the Aspirants, who served as the Choir.

The church members present gave Fr Wong an applause after the announcement. Fr Wong in his short speech thanked the Archbishop for his trust and everyone for their prayers and pledged to do his best.

The announcement took almost everyone by surprise because Fr Wong was due for transfer back to Sandakan, his hometown, at the end of this month. He infact spent last weekend there.

Bishop John Wong was born on 6 June 1968. His promotion could not have come at a better time as it is the best birthday present for him. He was ordained a deacon at Sacred Heart Cathedral on 8 January 1998 and as a priest on 21 January 1999 at St Mary Church, Sandakan. On 18th Feb 1999 he became Assistant Rector of Sacred Heart.

Congratulations to our new Bishop and a belated Happy Birthday!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What a Father's Day for me! (Part 2)

Mechanic Jo Jo did not get back into KK until nightfall. I didn't get my petrol drained and refilled them with diesel until 9pm+. He asked for RM30. I gave him RM50. It was a 'dirty' job though it looks and sound easy to most other people who are normally only good at talking. Most people would say "Itu senang saja bah tu" (that is easy enough) but when you asked them to help they would tell you to get a mechanic. This is the world that we live in or the reality that we have to face - that the world is full of people who only know how to talk and insist that they know everything. Jo Jo got his shirt soaked by petrol while underneath my Hi-Lux. Besides, he had an assistant. I figured the assistant would get only RM10 had I gave the RM30 Jo Jo asked for. So I gave RM50. As I said in my earlier post, you pay for the expertise. What is an extra RM20 to buy the goodwill of someone whose services I may continue to need from time to time, including helping a friend in need? Happy Father's Day!

(Footnote: Jo Jo's workshop is just cross the road from the Jalan Lintas Petronas station near the airport. I am tempted to put his tel no here but then I don't have his permission. Today's episode has reminded me that even a mechanic deserves the utmost respect. But if you have an emergency, call me and I'll gladly redirect you to him.)

I'll Never Dance Again by Herman's Hermits

Another down memory lane song I used to sing as a bandboy in the 60s-70s. In the mood bah, today's Father's Day bah. Apart from this one, other Herman's Hermits songs I used to play and sing included My Sentimental Friend and I'm Into Something Good. My friends who were teenagers between the 60s-70s would find this sentimental and walk down the lane with me. This was a British band whose fame was second perhaps only to their fellow-Brits, the Beatles. Enjoy.

Joan Baez - We Shall Overcome

Time flies. It has been a month since I posted We Shall Overcome sung by Joan Baez at the White House for President Obama and family.
Today, Father's Day, I chanced upon this original version sung by Joan in 1963, the year her record was released. Notice it says "Original Vinyl 7" Single" on the cover. Yes, it walks me down memory lane. Kids of today have the Internet. They have E-Mail, Facebook, Twitter, Friendster, MySpace, You Tube, blogs and what have you. They also have Astro so that they can see live World Cup matches all the way from South Africa- some in HD, mind you. My generation (I was born in 1954) - we had nothing. No telephone, let alone IPhone or Smartphone. No radio (not the first few years of my life), let alone TV. The only entertainment was the cinema. Itupun pandai putus filem dan kerusi rotan dia ada bangking! The disco was not invented yet, let alone Karaoke. Kids nowadays are using MP3. Ours was the good old Vinyl Record like Joan's, even then it was only for those families who could afford one. The tape recorder came much later, in the 1960s, using literally tapes; unlike now digital. Then you had the big catridge which you play in the car, followed by the casette which was later replaced by the CD. So I grew up (in the 1960s) listening to the Beatles, Bee Gees, Shadows, Ventures, Rolling Stones, Cliff Richard, Elvis, etc on vinyl records or what Sabahans called Piring Hitam which literally means Black Record. If you tell this to kids nowadays, their standard reply will be: "Itu dulu!" (That was before). Sorry there is no picture of the young Joan on the record cover but anyway enjoy listening to the good old Piring Hitam. Kids nowadays are lucky because they call listen or watched what their parents used to decades ago - thanks to the Internet. The guys who invented Internet and You Tube should be given the Sabah Datukship or Malaysian Tan Sriship. Happy Father's Day. Happy listening!

What A Father's Day for me!

Something happened to me around noon time, a couple of hours ago, which spoilt my otherwise Happy Father's Day.

It took me quite a while to decide whether to share this with you, for it may be embarrassing. I finally decided to share in order not to be selfish - least the information may be useful to you one day.

To cut the long story short, I went to the Petronas station to fill petrol (or rather diesel) for my Toyota Hi-Lux twin-cab, otherwise known as Vigo (a name which UMW Toyota does not recognise, although that may be the name in other countries.)

After I inserted the pump into the petrol/diesel tank, I walked into the station just to see if there was anything I could buy. As I was walking back to my vehicle, a pump attendant asked me "Uncle, you filled with petrol or diesel?"

Alamak! I was like being struck by lightning! I filled with petrol instead of diesel!!! First time in my life!

Can't blame the attendant because he wasn't around when I chose. In any case, it's now supposed to be self-service.

Instead, I should thank him for his alertness as he was trying to help me put the pump back into its place. Had it not been for his alertness, I would have started my engine and that would indeed be a COSTLY mistake!

So, for the benefit of those who do not know, Rule No.1 when you across such a situation is NEVER start your engine, even if it's just to move your car to the side.

The owner of the station (a Malay lady) instructed her workers to push my car to the side. She also gave me the phone number of a nearby mechanic who is supposed to be on stand-by, just like a doctor on call. The owner was very helpful as I am her regular customer. Loyalty pays, I suppose.

I got through to the handphone of the mechanic, whose workshop is just across the road (Lintas highway near the airport). Today is Sunday, so his workshop is closed. But just call, said the lady owner, for he would help as long as he is around.

But luck was not with me. The mechanic (Jo Jo is his name, reminds me of Father Jo Jo) was on his way to Keningau and would only be back late this afternoon. He called his friends but none of them was available, today being Sunday and eve of schooling day tomorrow.

The alert worker, prompted by his lady boss, said he might be able to help if there is a hole below the fuel tank. But this is new model Hi-Lux and there wasn't any. The only option is to pump the petrol out and he did not have a pump. He could actually use a rubber hose to suck out the petrol if he wanted to but since he didn't offer that I didn't want to force him, after all it wasn't his job.

The only other option left is to wait for the mechanic to come back from Keningau, since according to the owner it's his field of specialisation. There is no point to tow the vehicle to a workship or UMW - today being a Sunday. I need the vehicle since tomorrow schooling starts and my wife is a teacher. My two other cars are used by my sons. Nasib si bapa! Happy Father's Day!

I am about to go back to the station to wait for the mechanic. According to the station worker, it should cost between RM20-30. Even if it were RM40-50, I wouldn't mind. You have to pay for expertise or things you can't do yourself! Which reminds me a story of a tourist in Hawaii commenting to a street vendor that his straw hat was too costly at US$10. The vendor took the straws apart and said to the tourist: "What you are paying for, Sir, is not so much the straws or the hat, but rather the expertise in turning the straws into a hat!" The tourist walked away embarrassingly.

Got to go now, wish me good luck. Will report back to you later.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I first heard this song almost ten years ago when I first got involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) movement. In late 1999 I was introduced to the Friday English Prayer Meeting (now known as the Bethel Prayer Group) of my Church, the Sacred Heart Catheral in Kota Kinabalu. I liked the song instantly because of both the wordings and the music/tempo. Infact, I can spend hours ecah day at home or in the car just listening to this song and singing along softly. In no time I found myself singing this song at the Prayer Meeting or at the funeral parlour while strumming my guitar as I was a member of the Benevolent Ministry, part of the Prayer Group. I also sang it at the end of my sharing at a Life In The Spirit Seminar at the St Simon's Church, Likas a few years back organised by the Prayer Group. I was backed by my sons on the guitar and saxophone then. Howver, for years I only got to hear it through the cassette or CD as to the best of my knowledge no video or karaoke version was recorded. So, minutes ago I was plesantly surprised to find this karaoke version on the Internet or to be exact the Facebook. The power of the Net and Facebook and Youtube! Praise the Lord! Thanks to Linda Cabanlit (I introduced CCR to her and husband Alex) who posted it on her Facebook homepage. I think she got it from one Victoria who in turn got it from Scott's EmulSon. The version I posted here is from someone else, so I don't know who first produced and posted it on the Net. Anyway, the composer is Mr Jude Antoine who was the main speaker at the Seminar where I did my sharing and that was partly why I chose this song to end my sharing, apart from the relevant wordings. Forgot the name of the guy who sang this song but he is a West Malaysian Chinese guy who also sang the theme song in the Proton Saga TV advertisements in the 1980s. And the best part is he wasn't even a Christian when he recorded this song. Nonetheless, he was chosen for his voice. I guess that was why Proton chose him too. He said as he was on his way to the studio, he was still learning the song, being a non-Christian and the song having been just composed by Jude. This guy is also popular at dinner functions or shows throughout Malaysia, having sung in Kota Kinabalu at least twice in recent years. Since 1999 I have learned a lot of Christian/Gospel/Charismatic songs, being a musician, but I guess I like this one best apart from a few others. Even the Filipino doctor and wife team who used to come here to give us talks at seminars liked this song and asked if I could give them the CD so they could learn and sing it in the Philippines while doing missionary work! Mabuhay! Thanks Jude, you coverted a lot of former Christians-in-name through this song, me included. May God bless you and your family.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

IN PERFORMANCE AT THE WHITE HOUSE | Joan Baez - "We Shall Overcome" | PBS

Here is Joan Baez singing We Shall Overcome at the White House soon after Obama became President in 2009. Decades had past since she first made this song famous at the height of the Civil Rights Movement started by the blacks in the 1950s/60s. Imagine how she must have looked in her younger days and of course her voice then. If I am not mistaken, she sang this song during the March on Washington led by the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, during Woodstock and again during Obama's inauguration. Anybody can confirm this? I will appreciate it. I have suddenly become interested in US history especially the Civil Rights Movement because there is a lot to be learnt from it, though unfortunately man's memory is short. Pay attention to the wordings and you will understand why I'm so much into it. Simple though the wordings may be, the song together with A Change Is Gonna Come was enough to capture the imagination of the black Americans which eventually won them freedom from slavery and equal rights with the whites especially the right to vote and education and health. Which reminds me of the song Berjaya which was the 'anthem' of the Berjaya Party which defeated the Usno-led Alliance Party in 1976 in Sabah. During the April 1976 State general election, nobody would dare bet that the all-powerful Alliance would fall to the 9-month-old Berjaya; not with memories of detention at the infamous 'Kepayan University' still fresh in their minds. I mean, before the Federal Government took away the special detention powers of former Usno strongman and former Chief Minister Tun Datu Mustapha, the mere mention of his name or Kepayan (prison) was enough to make the average Sabahan shiver! Indeed, in April 1976 Sabahans (majority of them at least) OVERCAME! although a different song (Berjaya) was used.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New Orleans-- We Shall Overcome

This video is self-explanatory. It shows scenes of the aftermath of typhoon Catarina (hope I'm not wrong) which devastated South Eastern USA especially New Orleans when George W Bush was still American President. He was criticised by the American people for his slow response to the natural disaster. But that's not the reason why I'm blogging this. The reason is the song or background music sung by Bruce Springsteen. The title of the song is 'We Shall Overcome', a song made famous by black Americans at the height of their fight for Civil Rights between the 1950s-60s. One of those responsible for making this song famous was Joan Baez - though she is white. Since then, many other singers had recorded their own versions of the song - Bruce being one of them. This song was also sung during the famous March to Washington which culminated in the late Rev. Martin Luther King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech. Indeed, together with another song called A Change Is Gonna Come made famous by Sam Cooke, We Shall Overcome became an anthem for the civil rights movement. At least one former (white) US Presidents also used this rallying cry of We Shall Overcome in his speeches. By the way, I can't help but notice that most of the victims of New Orleans typhoon were blacks and I guess that's why the video producer appropriately chose this song. Hope you like the song. Enjoy and please feel free to comment.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Borneo Comes Together in Cyberspace"

"Borneo comes together in cyberspace" is the title of the lead story of today's update of Insight Sabah, a State Government-sponsored web site or portal, if you like, with the tagline "The Voice of Sabahans".

And rightly so, for the story is about the historic launch of a new portal dedicated to Borneo called k@Borneo which stand for key to knowledge on Borneo by Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman (photo courtesy of Insight Sabah). Next to Musa is Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili, whose federal ministry helped fund the project.

The best part is that the birth of this site was the result of the collective effort, for the first time, of relevant organisations from the three countries found on Borneo island - Indonesia (represented by Kalimantan), the Sultanate of Brunei, and Malaysia (represented by Sabah and Sarawak).

I took a look at the new site ( Just like anything new, give it time to grow. But what immediately attracted my attention was that there are already more than 140 books/titles about Borneo listed under the Bibliography section of k@Borneo. This is a treasure chest and should be useful to scholars and researchers alike.

Since my site is also about Borneo in general, I feel duty-bound to help introduce and promote k@Borneo. However, in order not to be accused of plagiarism, I leave it to you to find out more at and

Congratulations to both k@Borneo and Insight Sabah and happy surfing to my visitors.

Thank you.

Monday, February 22, 2010

My Chinese New Year (Part 3)

Yesterday, I wrote about the Yee Sang ceremony as a way to celebrate people or human day known as Cho Chat or the 7th day of the Chinese New Year (CNY).

However, it was a pity that I only managed to show you a sample picture of Yee Sang and a couple of pictures showing a typical Chinese family sitting around their Yee Sang.

Today, I managed to lay my hands on a couple of pictures of people (not necessarily Chinese) tossing the Yee Sang for the benefit of my non-Chinese visitors. However, it is just a co-incidence that both pictures comprise politicians from different political parties. It is not my intention to publicise them.

Meanwhile,today I also learnt a bit more about Cho Chat or People's Day. According to Chinese belief, the hen or chicken was created on the First Day, followed by the Dog, the Sheep, the Pig, the Cow and the Horse on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Day respectively. Then, of course Man on the 7th Day.

Looks like ancient Chinese also have their own version of the Bible's Genesis or 1st Chapter; except that God rested on the 7th day after creation.

Once again, Happy CNY, Happy Birthday everbody and I welcome any comments, corrections, additions, even criticisms, of what I have written about CNY for the past couple of days. I studied Chinese only up to Primary Six level and I stand to be corrected.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Chinese New Year (Part 2)

I was supposed to have blogged this yesterday but circumstances prevented me from doing so.

I wanted to blog this yesterday because it was the 7th day of the Chinese New Year (CNY) or Cho Chat. Anyway, it's still the 7th day of the lunar calender in some parts of the world. (What an excuse!) So what is so special about the 7th day?

Well, the Chinese believe that Cho Chat is a day for all human kind or the day when we were created. In other words, it's everybody's birthday including you and me! So happy birthday everybody!

It is common knowledge that the Yee Sang (also known as Lo Sang or Lau Sang) is part of CNY ceremonies. The Chinese perform this ceremony at the start of the family dinner hoping that the year ahead would bring good luck or prosperity.

(Pix above) A typical plate of Yee Sang. The main ingredient is raw fish. Nowadays, salmon is popularly used but those who can afford even use abalone. Other ingredients include peanuts. Notice the different colours of the ingredients. Some advertisements say "Colourful Yee Sang". I am not sure why the Chinese want their Yee Sang to be colourful but I suppose variety is the spice of life.

In Chinese, Yee means fish and it sounds similar to having extra or leftovers. That's why they use fish including salmon as the ingredient; hoping that there will be 'extra' (money) for the family in the year ahead.

Meanwhile, Sang means to live or to be alive. So Lo Sang means to have an easy life or easy to earn a living. Thus, when they do the ceremony, they try to lift the ingredients trapped by the chopsticks as high as possible. The Chinese believe that the higher you lift, the easier to earn a living or to have a better life.

(Pix above) A Chinese family getting ready to mix their plate of Yee Sang during a CNY dinner.

Thus, in view of the above, and although CNY lasts for two weeks, the 7th day (apart from CNY Eve during family reunion dinner) is a favourite day to do the Yee Sang. It is, afterall, their 'birthday'.

In Malaysia which is a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious country however, this ceremony is also participated by non-Chinese (e.g. Malays, Indians, Kadazans) when they visit the CNY Open Houses.

Only yesterday, at Pandamaran near Klang in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak joined in such a ceremony at the humble house of an ordinary Chinese folk, much to the surprise and delight of the house-owner. This is the beauty of Malaysia.


Friday, February 19, 2010

My Chinese New Year

Time flies, and it has been more than one month since my last post on 31 Dec 2009; and by the time I am in the mood to blog again it's Chinese New Year (CNY)!

Today is already the 6th day of the CNY but it's not too late for me to wish you Gong Xi Fa Cai (or Kong Hee Fatt Choy in my native Hakka). This is because the Chinese celebrate their New Year for 15 days; culminating in Chap Goh Mei (the 15th day) on 28 Feb which happens to be my birthday, yahoo! So this month alone I will have two double-celebrations - the other being 14 Feb which is both Valentine's Day and Day 1 of CNY.

So how did I celebrate my CNY which is Year of the Tiger? Well, first of all as usual we had our family reunion dinner on 13 Feb which is CNY Eve; except that this year instead of going back to my brother's in Tamparuli we just had a simple dinner here in KK; just the 5 of us - myself, my wife, our two sons, and my mother-in-law.This was because we had a morning flight on Saturday the 14th and therefore did not want to take any chance of missing the flight. Nonetheless, simple though as our dinner was, it was not without the Hakka dishes one would expect during CNY like Kiu Nyuk and Steamed Chicken.

Coming back to the flight, although it was CNY Day 1, we (my wife & I) had to send my mum-in-law to her son's place in Ipoh, Perak where he works - something which we had promised her for some time and so we took advantage of the week-long school holiday (my wife is a teacher).

After spending two nights in Ipoh and leaving my mum-in-law behind as requested, we moved south to Kuala Lumpur where we spent 3 nights before coming home (sweet home) in KK a few hours ago. The first nite in KL was spent in Mutiara Damansara which is quite a distance from downtown KL. There was a reason for that but I will only elaborate in my next posts.

Most of our 2-day stay in KL city proper was spent along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (TAR), known in the pre-Merdeka (Independence) days as Batu Road. The reason was simple - my wife wanted to buy from the traditional Indian textile shops which are aplenty along TAR road and they are all next to each other. Another beauty of TAR road (especially the stretch nearer Merdeka Square) is that once one has finished shopping at the textile shops, there is also the ultra-modern Sogo Shopping Complex selling more luxurious and branded items. If I am not mistaken, Sogo is a Japanese emporium chain just like Yao Han which was popular in the 1980s both in KL and KK but has since 'disappeared'. And both the Monorail and RapidKL are within walking distance too so you don't have to depend on the blood-sucking taxis.

Another characteristics of Jalan TAR is that it is one of the oldest parts of KL so that most 2 or 3-storey shops were built between the late 1940s and the early 1950s after the 2nd World War. Infact, standing at what used to be Batu Road and looking at the old shophouses (some of which look as if they can collaspe any time), one may start wondering if he is actually in the middle of a city. Batu means stone in the Malay language. I am not sure why it was called such but a good guess would be it was one of the first, if not the first, KL streets to be paved after the War.

Most men would not trail their wives when the latter shop for obvious reasons. So while my wife shopped and shopped, I had plenty of opportunity to explore Batu Road and surrounding areas on my own for two days, on foot. When I had walked far enough and was tired, I returned to the hotel by the nearest light-rail transit train.

One of the old shops I managed to explore, rather frequent, was an old Hainanese-style coffee shop while waiting for my wife. By the time we had to go back to Sabah, I had already made friends with the owner of the shop - the Capital Cafe. I did not ask the owner why it was called Capital but my suspicion is that it was because KL was the first Capital of Malaya (later Malaysia) and everybody was proud of the Self-Rule (1955) and Independence (1957) gained from the British then. It must be remembered that the Merdeka (Independence) mood filled the air around that period.

(Pix above) The Capital Cafe situated on the ground floor of an 'antique' 3-storey building along Batu Road in KL. The upper floors served as hotel rooms but I am not sure if the hotel is still in operation.

Another reason why I decided to write about this coffee shop is that after a few visits over two days for lunch and high-tea, I realised that it was unique in the sense that although it was a Chinese-owned coffeeshop and the cook (who fries noddles and rice) at the right entrance of the shop is also Chinese; the Muslims including Malays would not hesitate to eat there, including what the 'Chinaman' cooked. Now this is something very rare in KL. I know because I worked in KL in the 1980s for 3 years.

(Pix above) Another view of the Capital Cafe. Note the 3 Chinese, Indian and Malay stalls on the right, centre and left respectively at the front entrance of the coffee shop.

Although the coffee shop does not serve pork, still it is not easy to convince the Muslims to eat there. To complete the cafe's services or products, there was also a stall offering Indian-style fast food at the centre of the entrance and then an Indonesian-style Nasi Padang stall occupying the left entrance of the shop. So you have Chinese, Indian and Malay stalls all under one roof - this is not easy to find in KL and this is what I call a true 1Malaysia Cafe!

(Pix above) The younger Ling (left) at the cashier counter of his cafe. Behind him (left, with fan) is where Tan fries his noddles and rice. On the right is the Mamak stall selling Indian light food.

However, although the middle-aged Chinese cook only fries Hainanese-style noddles, neither he nor the shopowner are Hainanese. Infact, they are both Foo Chows. The cook, a Mr Tan (Ting to most Foo Chows) was born in China, came to KL as a young man, and has been standing there frying mee for the last few decades! The owner, a Mr Ling, who is now in his 60s was born in British Malaya and his son is assiting him in the shop. In other words, it's already 2nd generation running the shop. But the younger Ling said he wasn't too sure if his children would want to take over one day for obvious reasons.

(Pix above) The senior Ling, in his 60s, still makes the drinks in his cafe although he is assisted by Indian workers. I suppose it's not easy for him to give up something which he has been doing for the past few decades and having built up the clientele over half-a-century some of whom have either retired or even died. But the younger Ling has already been groomed to take over him any time.

The Capital Cafe is also popular with guests staying in the many budget hotels along Jln TAR, so much so that the younger Ling called it "the coffee house of the budget hotels", in an obvious reference to the absence of coffee houses in budget hotels and the Capital Cafe's popularity with such hotel guests.

(Pix above) The Malay/Indonesian food stall on the left entrance of the shop. It's popular with the lunch crowd, both Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

The day may finally come, may be another couple of decades from now, when even the younger Ling retires and if his children refuse to succeed him, the future of Capital Cafe may be at stake and with it a piece of KL history may be gone. I certainly hope not, for I look forward to visiting the coffee shop many more times, God-willing.

(Pix above) A view from the front of the shop. On the left is the Indian stall while uncle Tan is busy frying his noddles or rice on the right. Truly 1Malaysia!

(Pix above) A close-up of the Capital Cafe signboard which must be half-a-century old. Notice the spelling of Capitol. This must have been the original spelling before it was changed to Capital. It means the same thing though.

(Pix above) Uncle Tan has been practically standing like this frying noodles and rice over the last few decades. Note the notice on the wall - it's the menu which has been there since 1956! Uncle Tan is no longer young and it's a pity if there is no one to replace him. By the way, the noodles and fried rice are much cheaper than in Sabah, although the price has of course gone up compared to the 1980s when I worked in KL.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!