By Fathol Zaman Bukhari
Durian season is back and it is impacting durian lovers in many ways. Though I am not much of a durian aficionado, unlike my wife, I do take to the fruit when an opportunity presents itself. Unfortunately, the durian season in Ipoh is from October to December not in August and September, as some had unabashedly claimed. The fruits you see at roadside stalls and at pasar malam (night markets) are from Lenggong and Grik and not Batu Kurau, as you would wish to believe. They are the ubiquitous and less popular durian kampong that tends to leave a lingering sweet-pungent smell in your car should you decide to place it in your car boot. I have suffered this ignominy before.
We were in Tapah recently and chanced upon some durians sold along the old Ipoh-Gopeng trunk road before exiting into the Plus Expressway. On our way home we stopped over at Kampong Gunong Mesah on the old Kampar-Ipoh trunk road. The traffic along this route is rather heavy and is frequented by six-wheelers, goods-laden lorries and unspecified commercial vehicles, as the road is toll-free.
The Jeram-Gunong Mesah stretch is a favourite spot for durian sellers. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, before the advent of the Plus Expressway, enterprising villagers would sell almost anything, sourced locally, to passing motorists. The most popular items then were banana, rambutan, pulasan, cempedak and mangosteen. Durians were only sold when they were in abundance, as the area was noted for the King of Fruits – the kampong variety. However, today with much of the land being opened for development not many durian trees are left to satiate durian lovers in Ipoh.
I was warned that the fruit is no longer cheap, as the going rate for Musang King, a top-end variety, is RM106 a kilo. The fruit, apparently, has gained much notoriety after President Xi Jinping of China took a liking to it. Today our durians are being exported to China in bulk so much so that the fruit has become pretty scarce in our own backyard. The scarcity explains the spike in its price.
We stopped by a stall in front of the Kampong Mesah mosque and enquired the price with the rather gamely seller. When quoted a jaw-dropping RM25 a kilo, I went into a spin. RM25 a kilo? It was madness but my wife took the blow rather well saying that was the going price for durian kampong. And since she had been harping on durian for the last few days, I acquiesced.
I bought two medium-sized fruits and the bill came to RM107. Back in those less-stressful days of yore, RM10 would buy you enough of the thorny fruits to last a week. The uneaten fruits would be turned into tempoyak (fermented durian) for keeps. I swore not to go near durians till the end of the year, at the very least. My annual pilgrimage to the durian orchards of Balik Pulau in Penang is also on hold for the moment.
Enough said about durian. Now let’s dwell on something more pertinent to our nationhood – attitude and behaviour of Malaysians, per se.
The just-concluded South East Asian Games 2017 has shown the sinister side of Malaysians. The audacity of our supporters to chant, in unison, “Singapore Anjing” during a football match between the two neighbours was disgraceful indeed. If anything, it goes to show the level our youths have descended to, courtesy of an education system that has gone awry due to an overdose of race and religion in schools’ curriculums.
I don’t blame the system; it is the people behind the system who are at fault. The easiest way to frighten the Malays into supporting the ruling coalition is to impress them that the Chinese are out to wrest control of the government and destroy Islam. How naïve could they be? Divide and rule, a divisive methodology employed by the British, is here to stay.
Then there was the exhortation by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi during an assembly of pensioners at the Malaysia Agro Exposition, Serdang on August 14. In his opening remarks he urged pensioners to remain loyal to the government reminding them “to show gratitude to Allah by being thankful to the government, which has given them a good life”.
Zahid said the government had disbursed over RM20 billion in pensions and was committed to providing pensioners with better facilities such as quality healthcare. “Never bite the hand that feeds you,” he reminded.
I am a pensioner and I have this to say, “Pension is an entitlement not a privilege, so whoever is the government has to honour the pledge”. I sacrificed my life for 30-odd years bearing arms for King and Country so people, like DPM Zahid, can have a sound sleep and a good life. My political leanings and orientations are not for sale. Period.
The despicable act of a grandfather, father and two uncles raping a 19-year-old girl in Sarawak is shocking. The three had sexually assaulted the poor girl since she was 13. Can you believe that? There are many more such cases. Social media, unlike the days of yore, have made news readily available to all. You just need a Wi-Fi accessible smartphone to gain the latest news. It is so simple. News, good and bad, are at your fingertips. Broadsheets, radio and television have literally gone out of fashion. And the good thing about social media is, you can read and make comments on the spot. And I have been doing so since I acquired myself a smartphone some years ago.
So who say things don’t make sense? They certainly do make sense.