No Piped Water No Electricity No metalled road – The Price for Blind Loyalty

Note: dedicated to the people of Batang ai and friends in UMNO

We got our piped water in the late 60s about a decade after independence. The kampong were wired up for electricity in 1980, when I came back from England. The potholed laterite road was asphalted at about the same time.

That was the price for Blind loyalty. The Malays of Batu Pahat took pride of the origin of UMNO. UMNO was established in Batu Pahat, when Dato Onn was the District Officer.

My abah liked to relate this story about this speech by Dato Onn “Kalau kita tak suka parti kita dipanggil UMNO,  kita bolih beri ia nama apa sahaja. Kita bolih panggil ia parti cengkarung, asalkan perjuangan kita membela Melayu dan kemerdekaan tidak kita jualbeli”

That proposed name of the party, cengkarung or Chameleon, got gigglish response from the crowd. Now nearly 6 decades later the UMNO is becoming more like a cengkarung then the one advocated by the founder.

Besides the Malayan Union, a few years before the Malays got a taste of Chinese Chauvinism that resulted in the Perang Parang  Panjang. The Malays of Batu Pahat took up arms to revolt against the menacing MPAJA or Bintang Tiga. Dato Onn stopped the march to Muar at a small pekan called SEMERAH.

UMNO was born and the people of Batu Pahat waited for the fruits of their struggle. But they continued to struggle. UMNO was hijacked by others and I guess the followers of Dato Onn in batu pahat were just ignored.

In Johor, Muar became the choiced district, and many Chief Minister hailed from Muar. The deep rooted prejudice against the Javanese did not help because the majority in Batu Pahat was Javanese.

So we continued getting our water from the kolah, the above ground well. There were also the tempayans, the earthen jars, to collect the rain water. My abah became an accomplished kolah builder and ocassionally I joined the fun in playing with the concrete and cement. We had four kolahs, others may just have the tempayan.

The kolahs were startegically located to allow water drawing be done from the windows. My sisters were all experts in throwing the pail on a line into the kolah and drew the laden pail up. It was very innovative. It had its pluses. I became chlorinated only after I was 12. My source of drinking water has always been natural and organic.

Electricity to us to us then was just the dry cell for the transistor radio. I grew up becoming an expert in the lampu gas, or the pressurised kerosene lanterns. Just about Maghrib someone would have to light the lantern with the fragile filament. Sometimes the glass mantle broke and a moth would fly into the filament resulting in reduced lux.

The group of us learning to recite the Quran would gather around the lantern.

There were times, when the filament became victims of the kamikaze moths and we had to rely on the oil lamps. There were two types, the chimneyed lamp which was more energy efficient and there was the bare oil lamp. The lampu cimni was my favourite. While The Quran party was stiil in session, I could privately withdraw to do my own private reading with my lampu cimni.

To motivate his son, a distant uncle according to emak would say “kau tengok tu anak mak ngah, belajar guna lampu minyak sampai hilang bulu kening. pandai dia. Rumah kita ada letrik, tapi kau malas belajar”

Both of us went to the Malay College.

I say it again, the people of my kampong were ignored because of their blind loyalty. They were not  a threat to UMNO. You can even put the trunk of a banana palm, batang pisang, as a candidate, Perikatan will win. Any member of PAS would be severely boycotted. PAS had no chance.

Not any more. In 1997, for the first time a PAS candidate was welcomed and did fairly well. Now There are more PAS markaz then UMNO service centres.


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