When I go from KL to Medan I usually check in at KL Sentral then take the train to KLIA. I must have done it a hundred times. But on my last trip I decided to exert my right as a consumer.
I have always thought that one is free to choose one’s means of getting to KLIA. However, in the past 99 times I have decided to overlook KLIA Express’ implied condition that only they be used. This time I did not (overlook their imposition), and instead challenged it.
KLIA Express has positioned its ticket counter right at the access to the check-in counters giving the impression that only by buying their train ticket can one pass through the barrier.
On this occasion the gate was opened and I passed through without being stopped. I duly checked in my luggage but as I exited the barrier was shut. An officer from KLIA Express asked me how I got in. I told him. He was furious that I had checked in my luggage without buying a ticket first.
I told him that it was not a condition of my airline ticket that I should use KLIA Express which made him even more furious. He insisted that it was but was unable to back up his claim. I told him I could travel by KL Transit if I wanted to, to which he asked if I was over 55 (what a compliment!). What has that got to do with the price of fish I wondered.
Nevertheless, it was a climb down from his original position. I then made it clear to the small gathering that consumers have a choice how they travel to KLIA. One can go by bus which is only RM8 or be taken there by a friend, or go by KL Transit and save RM10 if one were a pensioner.
It is the deceit and arrogance of KLIA Express that if one wanted the convenience of checking in at KL Sentral, one had to use them that I find unacceptable. MAS and Cathay Pacific operate the city check-in for the convenience of their passengers not for the profit of KLIA Express.
I suggest that the electronic gates be removed so that passengers will not be fooled into thinking that only by buying a KLIA Express ticket can they check in.
There may be occasions when I may decide to use them but that is my choice as a consumer. It is unacceptable that consumers must give in to this kind of monopoly.
A two-year plus stint at the psychiatry department of a public hospital in Ipoh provides medical officer Nirmala Kasinathan the opportunity to get up close and personal with patients struggling with mental health issues. This was the inspiration behind her literary debut, ‘Woven in Deception’.
She was touched by the problems faced by these patients of psychiatry, a specialised field of study where science meets the mind, body and soul. It was a combination of two different fields. These people, who were presented with many different challenges in life, were the basis for the characters Dr Nirmala built out of her own imagination.
Dating back to the early 1900s in India, the storyline gradually moved to Ipoh, where the thirty-something writer grew up. The fiction, about a wealthy, high-caste Indian family, and the curse that had befallen upon the family, spanning three generations, makes for an engaging read.
An avid reader since young, Nirmala, who has always been interested in the medical field, history and Indian culture, spending two and a half years studying in India, had used her own knowledge, background and research to develop her characters.
Despite having no formal training in creative writing, although she used to contribute short stories and articles to school and college publications during her schooling days, Nirmala had carefully crafted her words, taking only eight months to finish writing Woven in Deception.
In an exclusive interview with Ipoh Echo, Nirmala said, “With this book, I was able to portray the Indian culture in an international language, for a global audience.” She considers English her first language, and is also fluent in the Malay language and Tamil.
Nirmala hopes that through her book, which teaches one to face life’s struggles, persevere in overcoming them, and to get on with life positively, will help readers triumph over their own challenges.
The author, who is considering a second novel when time permits, added, “Writing is a form of expression that adds to our collection of literature; a written record of our culture, knowledge, or advancement. It is something that young people can aspire to do. I would like to encourage more local authors to continue writing and get their work published.”
Woven in Deception is available at major online book stores such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. It can also be purchased directly from Nirmala via her email email@example.com at RM40 per copy, inclusive of handling charges and postage within Malaysia. The book is also available in e-book format.
The just concluded gathering of poets from around the world for the 33rd World Congress of Poets (WCP) was an astounding success. The grand closing ceremony held at Pangkor Island on Friday night October 25 was witnessed by close to 2000 VIPs, participants and islanders.
The week-long event was organized by the World Academy of Arts and Culture (WAAC) in collaboration with Institute Darul Ridzuan and the Perak State government. It was attended by close to 300 poets from around the world including Malaysia.
Raja Muda of Perak Raja Dr Nazrin Shah officiated at the closing ceremony. He was accompanied by Raja Puan Besar Tuanku Zara Salim. Other VIPs present at the event included Perak Menteri Besar Dato Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir accompanied by his wife Datin Seri Saripah Zulkifli, Nolee Ashilin Dato’ Mohammed Radzi (Executive Councillor for Tourism, Health and Culture), Perak-born WCP President Mdm Wan Hua Chapoutier and Maurus Young, WAAC President.
Before the close, participating poets from China and Mexico presented their poems. Perakean, Mdm Chapoutier recited her Sungai (River) which won an award at the 29th WCP in Budapest, Hungary in 2009.
Perak MB Zambry, who originated from Pangkor Island recited his poem dedicated to “Ayah (My Father)” with verses “You are a fisherman of noble deeds, You are a father whose love is enthroned, You are a husband with words so courteous” which touched the audience.
During the congress the visitors were taken to Perak’s popular tourist destinations where they held poetry recitals. The locations covered included the Lenggong Archeological Museum as well as Ipoh’s Heritage Trail and Gua Tempurung before concluding at Pangkor Island.
The poets described their visit here in superlative terms such as China poet, Bei Ta, who described the Congress as “more wonderful than he had expected”. Describing the role of the WCP as to improve communications between the foreign countries and the host, he was pleased to note the participation of so many local poets.
Describing Perak’s environment as being green with mountains, rivers, rich culture and good food he proclaimed that he has fallen in love with Ipoh. Adding that “as a lot of Ipoh people spoke Chinese he said he felt so ‘at home’ here.”
For Mexican poets, Ethel Bello Solis and Maria Eugenia Soberanis, they were full of praise and described “this congress is so wonderful and amazing. The government was so involved with the Congress. The tourist destinations here are so nice, beautiful and clean and with so much history, is good for writing poetry. However, it is the people here who are so kind, charming and always smiling even when they are tired that we felt truly welcomed”.
Istvan Turczi from Hungary “appreciates Malaysia. Every country is different but Malaysia has Malay, Chinese and Indian in one Asia-Pacific country and that is very beautiful”. Describing the locations visited, Turczi summarized that “Perak is a metaphor, everything is close together and in one place, in your heart.”
The success of this global event would not have been possible if not for the initiative of Perakean, Mdm Wan Hua Chapoutier nee Goh who had approached Zambry way back in 2011 requesting to hold this congress in Perak. Her initial purpose was to introduce the world of poets to Ipoh’s blue hills and delicious kopitiams.
Mdm WanHua, who worked with the Office of The Permanent Delegation of Malaysia to UNESCO in Paris for thirty five years, stated her objectives to have the congress in Malaysia was to “promote Bahasa Malaysia as the future lingua franca for the region and also to introduce pantun as a medium to expose local poets to the region.”
The deciding factor to select Ipoh and Perak was that Zambry was a poet and the choice for Perak to host the 33rd WCP was sealed.
For Zambry’s contribution to poetry in the state he was appointed the Honorary Patron of the 33rd WCP and awarded the “Crane Summit Supreme Honor Crown Medal Award”, the WAAC’s highest award in appreciation and recognition of the contribution of leaders in the field of poetry.
Held in conjunction with the closing ceremony was the handing over to Peru, the host of the 34th World Congress of Poets.
As for Mexicans Solsis and Soberanis, who originally referred to Malaysia as the Twin Towers, now on departure for home, they will inform their friends to visit the Twin Towers and visit Perak too. Now that’s a successful event indeed.