By Angie, Aziz Kamaruddin & Eric Koh
Persatuan Alumni AOTS Malaysia once again successfully organised a tea talk entitled Occupational Safety and Health in Malaysia on 28 May 2005. A total of 35 participants attended this program.
We were privileged to have Ir. Dr. Johari Basri, the Executive Director of National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and En. Mohd Yahizan, PAAM former vice president, as speakers.
The session began with Dr. Johari’s dynamic presentation on the topic of ‘Accident Prevention.’ Through his vast experience and knowledge, he explained the rationale for any organisation to implement a safe working environment. He further enlightened us that organisations such as the big Multinational Corporations (MNCs) have regular safety programs in their work place, such as safety meetings, safety audits and safety awards for zero Lost Time Accidents (LTAs). He further emphasized that targeting zero accident relates to better company results and profits. It was also unthinkable to have a family member who is bed-ridden or in a wheel chair caused by accidents at the work-place!</p.
Our second speaker, PAAM member En Mohd Yahizan was able to share his wide experiences including implementation of safe working environment in a construction industry. Various scenarios with interesting pictures were shown. He also shared some of his interesting challenges & opportunities as a Safety Manager when overseeing the construction of our KLIA (KL-International Airport) in Sepang including dealing with workers of different nationalities.The tea-talk sent a clear message on the urgent need to have a safe and healthy working environment for everyone. Those who attended the talk found the programme an eye opener, and now understand the principles of “Utamakan Keselamatan” (Safety First). For members who have missed the talk and are interested to know more about the availability of Safety training courses, you can always contact our PAAM office.
On 8th June 2005, welcoming dinner was organized by PAAM for Masaki Watanabe San, the new General Manager of AOTS. He replaces Ichikawa-san, who was formerly holding the position for the past four years.
|The New Team!|
Further to a resolution at the Federation of South-east Asia Alumni Societies (FOSAAS) Convention held in Singapore in 2004, Persatuan Alumni AOTS Malaysia (PAAM) generously contributed US$ 800.00 for the World Network of Friendship (WNF) Fund. The Fund is used for training activities amongst the Alumni Societies in the world.
From 3rd May to 15th July 2005, AEON Co. (M) Sdn. Bhd. (formerly known as Jaya Jusco) enrolled its staff for the Japanese Language Class. The class was conducted by Sensei, Misako-san. Eleven students passed the examinations with excellent results. All of them are now in Japan pursuing their training courses.
|AEON’s students and Sensei, Misako-san|
An orientation program for the Hippo Family participants on what to expect in Japan was conducted by Kenny Woon – our CCM, at the PAAM office. Various topics were discussed to get the 15 participants familiarised and prepared for the union with the Japanese families and culture in Japan. This group would be enjoying the summer holiday season from May 28th – June 6th , 2005 in Osaka, Japan.
|Kenny-san sharing his experiences||“Are you ready??”|
Well that was the first e-mail I received from Rinako-san, a new friend who I love for her warmness and eagerness to learn a lot about other countries and foreign people. I never told her how they should call me, but she already had a nickname for me, Nura-san! Rinako Kamakura, a housewife and her husband, Hirooki Kamakura, a real-estate businessman are my Homestay host family. They are blessed with two lovely and brilliant kids, Soutarou and Rio, who are 3 and 2 years old. I remember how the kids felt awkward having me staying in their house for a week that they ‘attacked’ me in the room but then ran away when I acted as a ghost and scared them out. Rina-san will always ask them to stop bothering me but chasing and being chased by the kids was the only way to communicate with them…
|Rio-chan and Soutarou-chan: Brilliant but mischievous!||The lovely couple: Rinako-san and Hirooki-san|
To have the opportunity to visit Japan really excites me. Traveling is my hobby after all but I never had as much preparation as I did before leaving for this country. To learn Japanese was the top of the list besides maps and train routes. Everyday I browsed through the Osaka city website so that I won’t miss any interesting places. Japan’s transportation system is so systematic that I could even get the access to all bus and train routes together with the ticket prices and the timing from a single website, believe it or not?
I was warned to be very careful about food and drinks over there. Muslims of course have to take care of these obligations but as for some Japanese, not drinking alcohol could be very weird for them. For some reasons, most chocolates and breads are even considered non-halal and I could understand if they were so bizarre for them. I never resisted chocolates before!
We left Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, 28th May with Japan Airlines. Man, the food was not to my taste! I couldn’t even stand the food in the plane, how could I survive a week in Japan???
Day 1: Sunday, May 29, 2005
|The view of Kansai International Airport from the sky.||There was even a guardian to monitor the bicycle parking area|
After approximately 7 hours, we arrived at Kansai International Airport which is built on a man-made island. We bought ¥1300 airport limousine bus to Hankyu-Umeda Station, the transportation hub of Osaka. At that point, I sighed, “how expensive is life in here…”.
The journey from the airport to the city centre served us with views of the coastal area of this city of the Kansai region. The area was fully occupied with industrial activities but yet they looked so clean and well-organized. Logs were arranged nicely and so were the boats. No rubbish could be seen at all. Amazing!
After almost an hour, we arrived at Hankyu-Umeda Station. From there, we crossed a street to Osaka Information Centre. Almost everybody seemed to walk very fast and they looked very busy though it was a Sunday. I wonder how it was like on weekdays! At the Information Centre, we grabbed as many leaflets as possible though very few were in English… Then we walked about 20 minutes to the HIPPO Office. Everything looked small to me; even the lift was half the size we have here in Malaysia. While walking I observed that cycling was a popular mode of transportation among the city dwellers. I thought if Malaysia has mild weather like Japan or such countries, we would be walking and cycling too, right?
|Some of the streets in the cities are very narrow to discourage access of automobiles.||This was just how she wanted to be snapped|
All of us were nervous to arrive at the Hippo Office because there we would meet our host family for the first time. All of them were holding mini banner with our names on them. The banner made by my host family was written ‘Selamat Datang Nurussaadah Mokhtar’. Cool! All of them were written in Malay! Before we traveled, my friends and I talked about how funny it would be if they waited for us at the airport and raise our names on that kind of banners. Awful! But we were lucky that they did it ‘indoor’.
We just sat with our host families and I noticed everybody was holding a dictionary together with a lot of hand movements, struggling very hard to explain things or create a topic… everybody was smiling, some kids looked happy but some looked amazed at the people of different skin and some women wearing scarves.
Rio-san looked very stressful because she was sick. Her tiny size attracted me and I made a move to make her to accept me but she was the ‘hard’ kind. She kept saying ‘iyak’ which means no! And she cried out for ‘okasan’. I understood she only wanted her mother to soothe her. Kids really are fascinating. When Rinako-san, Hirooki-san and I were struggling to make ourselves understood each other, Rio-chan suddenly created a scene. Poor Rio-san, she vomited! There we went… While other families were busy greeting and welcoming, we cleaned up Rio-san. So guess what was our immediate plan? Went shopping for Rio’s dress!
|Worm’s eye view of the Osaka Castle.||The first snap with the family; our own history created at the Osaka Castle.|
Hirooki-san dropped Rinako-chan and me off at Hanshin Department Store. It looks not different at all from typical Malaysian stores. I took that opportunity to get to know more about Rina-chan. I wasn’t really sure how she felt actually when I told her I was a fan of Takuya Kimura and Nanako Matsushita. I was quite disappointed when she did not favor any of them. Perhaps I was hoping too much to find something common between us… Yeah; I was going too fast…
It was lunch time and so we went to dine in a restaurant. That was the first time in my life when I felt worried about what was I going to eat. Wild vegetable noodle soup was what they ordered for me. Vegetable sounded okay but noodle comes from flour and I was concerned for a probability of non-halal substance in it. At that moment I could see how worried Rinako-san was and I tried to explain my situation in the most pleasant manner as possible. Since Japanese were very polite, they could be very sensitive too. Of course, I must have looked like a dreadfully weird person! I mean, vegetarians do exist in this world but it was not easy for them to accept people who could not eat even noodle or bread or chocolate in their country. I myself felt uneasy with people who refused my offer. Kamakura-san’s family had received HIPPO guests from America, Indonesia and Vietnam before. Obviously none of them were Muslims. So I said to myself not to worry as people take some time to adapt to new situation in a totally different place.
Our next point was Osaka Castle. I had some initial information about this huge castle from the internet. It was quite a hot day while we walked up to the castle. But it turned very cool and windy as we reached the top of it.
|Rio-chan finally settled on my lap to see her face in the digital-camera!||Like father, like daughter…|
For dinner, we had grilled seafood in a restaurant designed with Japanese traditional interior. Seafood was served on a small table and we sat on the wooden floor. Gosh! I ate a lot that night. And I could see how Rina-san looked relieved seeing me eating that much! Seafood was my most preferred meal and I had it with rice and fresh salad. Japanese really are particular about everything especially food. I bet you can never find any food either from a restaurant or a shop that is not clean and fresh. They insisted that I try raw salmon. I did but I could not take more than a bite.
That night was so unforgettable! We walked into a cool night of Kambara neighbourhood. It was such a peaceful place. Japan cities recorded very low crime rate. I was not worried not to walk alone in their narrow streets just to look at small gardens that almost all house had in one of their corners. Though it was cool and windy, it was dry too. My nose was bleeding a bit and I knew I had to drink a lot and applied more skin moisturizers.
On the way home, we passed Kurakuenguchi Station, the nearest local train station to the house and walked along a river which was a famous spot for cherry blossom season. Hirooki-san told me that during the week of cherry blossom, many people will come to have picnics or lie down under the trees. It was quite a pity because I actually missed the cherry blossom season which took place for only a week in the early month of April. As a substitute to cherry blossom, I get to watch fireflies instead. There was no comparison to cherry blossom of course but those fireflies were charming enough to me.
Japanese food is one of the most tempting delights that Japan has to offer. Healthy, delicious, and attractive to the eye, Japanese cuisine comes in all shapes and forms with dishes to please every appetite.
Sushi restaurants generally serve fresh fish that is prepared raw. The most popular variety is called nigiri-zushi, flat pieces of fish on small cakes of vinegared rice. An order of sushi is usually two pieces, and served with pickled ginger to cleanse the palate between orders. Also on the menu is norimaki: raw fish and various fillings rolled in dried seaweed. Some of the most popular sushi are maguro (tuna), ebi (shrimp), tamago (egg custard), and anago (conger eel).
Perhaps the most widely known Japanese food of all, tempura is a study in contrasts. Although the food is deep-fried, good tempura tastes light and delicate. Most tempura restaurants offer a set course (teishoku) that may contain kisu (whitefish), ebi (shrimp), and an assortment of vegetables accompanied by soup, rice, and pickles. Tempura is served with tentsuyu, a dipping bowl of soy sauce and soup stock to which is added grated radish and ginger. It is good idea to just lightly dip the tempura in the sauce, without soaking it.
Hotpot dishes are a favourite with hearty eaters and sukiyaki is perhaps the most popular of all. The basic ingredient is paper-thin slices of beef, cooked for just a few seconds in the hot pan in front of you. Then a broth is added, and the beef is lightly simmered. The best beef is from Matsuzaka, where the cattle are massaged and lavishly feed to ensure the most tender of meats. After the beef is cooked, a selection of vegetables joins the pot and diners start fishing for their favourite morsels. Each person is given a dish with a raw egg in it for dipping the meat jus before eating.
|WELCOME NEW MEMBERS|
|JOHOR BRANCH NEW COMMITTEE MEMBERS|
|Johor Branch Annual General Meeting was held on 18th June 2005, below are the new committee members.|
|PAAM BRANCHES CONTACT DETAILS|
“By overcoming difficulties you receive strength. Therefore, never be afraid of them.”
“Inner strength and will-power overcome negative influences.”
“When we highlight the positive qualities, one begins to shine.”
“The richest person in the world is one who knows how to make each moment happy for the self and others. Today is a gift, that’s why it is called present.”
Two of PAAM central committee members, Mr. Lim Eng Swee and Mr. Eric Koh attended the ALEPS AGM dinner in Shah Alam on 14th May 2005.
|Lim-san (on the right) enjoying himself at the annual dinner||Eric-san with one of the invited guests from the Japan Embassy|