Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Passing of a wayang kulit master

The legendary wayang kulit dalang Dollah Baju Merah of Kelantan has passed away. I had the privilege of making audio recordings of this magnanimous master at work last year and early this year.

You can check out these field recordings HERE.

Wayang kulit master Dollah dies

KOTA BARU: The struggle to keep alive Malaysia’s traditional arts has been dealt another blow.

One of the country’s last shadow puppet masters, Dalang Dollah Baju Merah, died at 3pm yesterday. He was 67.

Dollah, whose real name was Abdullah Ibrahim, was warded at the Kota Baru Hospital on Monday night for asthma and complications from a stroke suffered in 2000.

Eddin Khoo, a former journalist with The Star, who had been Dollah’s student for nearly a decade, was devastated at the news.

“A very real light has passed from my life. There was so much more to learn from him,” he said.

Dollah began performing the Wayang Kulit Siam at 13 and became well-known for designing puppets with modern attire.

He used current references in comic relief scenes and was immediately recognised in his favourite show time garb – a rebellious red T-shirt.

His spirited nature helped him persevere when the PAS-led Kelantan government banned the art form in 1990, a move that caused many wayang kulit troupes to fold up.

Although none of his 10 children (from two marriages) followed in his footsteps, Dollah worked with Pusaka – a non-profit organisation set up by Khoo – to research and document traditional art forms.

Dollah was buried at the Ketereh Muslim cemetery near his home in Kampung Batu Tinggi. - The Star

Interview with Pak Dollah

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

News reports quoting B.L.

May 14, 2004

Challenging start for Mt Kinabalu rescue team

KOTA KINABALU: Adverse weather condition over the past 24 hours in Sabah gave a search and rescue exercise at Mount Kinabalu a chilling start as a team of rescuers plodded on under heavy rains and freezing temperature thousands of feet above sea level.

The rescue team comprising 50 General Operations Force (GOF)’s Tiger Platoon and nine Kinabalu Park Rangers had come prepared, rain or shine, for the week-long exercise which began on Monday.

But the sudden change in the weather in Sabah forced them to re-strategise their operations when unexpected obstacles came their way, GOF Sabah Brigade’s staff officer DSP Bernard Leo said.

“A team began climbing from Kampung Mesilau, one of the three routes to be taken during the operations, yesterday morning and they had to circumvent a landslide which occurred along the pre-determined route.

“This forced them to chart a new route and they are now at 10,000 feet above sea level,” he told Bernama yesterday when asked about the progress of the operations following heavy rains that caused flash floods in low-lying areas here.

Another team which took a route from Kampung Malangkap Kapa in Kota Belud, 80km from here was forced to employ tactical river crossing technique as the Kadamaian River, which can be waded through on normal days, has swollen.

“To cross the river they had to use special equipment, ropes and they are safely through,” said Leo who inspected the progress of the operations yesterday.

The third team which departed from Timpohon Gate along the normal climbing route to the peak of Southeast Asia’s highest mountain, did not face any major obstacle so far, he said.

All the three teams were given this scenario: that two foreign tourists were last seen heading towards Low’s Gully and never to be seen again. Their job is to locate and rescue them.

Low’s Gully, which is among the toughest terrains in the mountain, is where a group of Hong Kong-based British soldiers had to be rescued after they lost their way in a 1994 expedition.

“So now all the three teams are heading towards Low’s Gully to accomplish the mission,” he said.

As and when the duo was located, another component of the exercise – a helicopter with four crew from the Police Air Wing – would be called in to airlift the “victims” to safety.

Leo described the weather condition as something that made the exercise all the more challenging and gave the true meaning to the phrase “preparedness at all times” irrespective of the weather in any rescue operations.

“They went up prepared but they had to face unexpected obstacles such as falling trees, landslides, heavy rains and low temperature, which slowed them down but still, they must overcome it, keep on moving to accomplish the goal,” he said.

Leo said that despite the conditions, the rescuers were in good spirit. “All the equipment are also functional”.

The exercise, which is the first to involve the three components in the mountain – the GOF, park rangers and the Police Air Wing – would enable them to exchange expertise and also to assure tourists that the authorities were well prepared to face any eventuality at the mountain. – Bernama

May 11, 2004

Mock rescue op on Mount Kinabalu

KOTA KINABALU: An eight-day search and rescue exercise on Mount Kinabalu next week involving elite police teams and Sabah Park rangers will pave the way for co-ordinated rescue operations on Malaysia's highest mountain in future.

The exercise will see the police general operations force's (GOF) Tiger Platoon personnel, a police air wing helicopter team and park rangers carrying out rescue exercises on the mountain from May 10 to 17.

Sabah GOF staff officer Deputy Supt Bernard Leo said yesterday the exercise would see the Tiger Platoon using the global positioning system (GPS) and their newly acquired thermal imaging equipment.

"Our men involved in this exercise will be called in should there be a need for an actual search and rescue operation on the mountain," he said, adding that the exercise will involve 50 Tiger Platoon members, four police air wing personnel and nine park rangers.

He said while the park rangers were familiar with Mount Kinabalu's terrain, the GOF personnel were well trained for search and rescue work as well as using the GPS and thermal imaging equipment.

DSP Leo said the exercise would involve some risk as the temperatures on the mountain could drop as low as 0 °C.

"This exercise should reassure Malaysians and tourists who trek up the mountain by the thousands every year that we are prepared for any eventuality on Mount Kinabalu," DSP Leo added.

Daily Express, Sabah, 2 February 1999

Man gets jail for raping wife's niece

KOTA KINABALU: A lorry driver was sentenced to jail 22 years and ordered caned six times for raping his wife's relative on two occasions.

Awang Hussin Awang Ali, 28, received the sentences Monday after he pleaded guilty to two counts of raping the underaged girl on two occasions at Kampung Lapasan Tenghilan, Tuaran, near here, between Aug 28 and Sept 1 in 1998.

He received 11 years' jail plus three strokes of the cane for each count. Sessions Court Judge Abdul Rahman Sebli ordered the sentences to run concurrently from the date of Awang Ali's arrest.

Prosecuting Officer ASP Bernard Leo told the court that Awang Ali's misdeeds was discovered by her aunt after reading the girl's diary.

He said the girl then broke her silence and told her aunt what had actually happened when questioned.

Awang Ali was arrested on September the same year following a police report lodged by the girl.

It was revealed that Awang Ali had raped the girl and threatened her not to tell anyone about it.

Frightened, the girl jotted down her ordeals in her diary which were later recovered by her aunt.

Awang Ali was charged under Section 376 of the Penal Code which carries a jail term of between five and 20 years plus canning upon conviction.

Borneo Mail, Kota Kinabalu, 4 September 1998

Local youth gets 15 years, whip for raping minor

KOTA KINABALU: A local youth from Luyang was jailed 15 years and ordered whipped 10 times Thursday by the Sessions Court here for raping a nine-year-old girl.

Jamadil bin Sapar, 22, pleaded guilty before court judge Abdul Rahman Sebli to the charge framed under Section 376 of the Penal Code of committing the offence in a house at Kampung Shantung, Luyang between March 1 and 20 last year.

Jamadil and the girl are neighbours. He raped her on several occasions.

He was arrested following a police report lodged on Dec 20, 1997 by the girl's mother after being told about the rape by her younger daughter who had seen him raping the victim, prosecuting officer ASP Bernard Leo told the court.

The girl had kept the rape incidents from her family as Jamadil had promised to marry her.

Leo tendered a medical report on the girl confirming a tear in her hymen as an exhibit by Leo.

He urged for a deterrent penalty because rape cases involving young girls were rampant in Sabah.

In passing sentence Abdul Rahman dismissed a request for leniency from the undefended Jamadil, who said that he was not aware it was an offence to have sex with a minor.

The court has to impose a heavy sentence even though Jamadil is still young as "you've raped the girl who is still young not once, but several times", said Abdul Rahman, adding that public interests also call for stiff punishment on rape cases.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

250 covers of 'House of the Rising Sun'

BL's final emails to me

March 10, 2005

Yo, my train town strat slinging good buddy! Sorry for
d long silence. I!m still wired but sometimes too
wound up to take time out to check my mail.
Some happening news. From April this year I will be in
KL for 1 year, that's right man, 1 year! I've been
selected to take a diploma course in Police Science
sponsored by UKM. So it's time for me to hit the books
again. It'll be a 5 day week thing, weekends, semester
breaks and other holidays off. Full salary as well.
Can't really complain.
Looking forward to seeing more of u guys. Keep in
Cheers. Leo

March 11, 2005

I'll be in KL on the 20th back to Sabah on the 21st
and then to KL on the 31st. My course starts on 1st
April. Will the bands still be on in April?
Cheers. Leo

March 13, 2005

Maybe meet up on the 20th. I should be in by

March 19, 2005


Saturday, September 24, 2005

A song in memory of my late buddy Leo

Savage Grace by RS + ARCHTOP SOUL

Early mix available for download only for a week. Final version to be included in the album 'Traintown Blues'.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Bernard Leo, 1958-2005

My old buddy Bernard Leo departed this miserable world for a better one last night, succumbing to cancer after a bold and spirited fight. A gentle soul with hardly a mean bone in his body, Leo was the most devoted Led Zeppelin fan I've ever known, and tried to emulate his big hero John Bonham every time he sat at his drum kit at home.

He had his faults — he was as human as all of us, after all — but in many ways he was better than most of us, as he hardly ever raised his voice, never bore a grudge, and was as helpful as he could possibly be to anyone who sought his assistance.

We — Leo, Ajaya, Raja, Mathi and me — were firm friends during our teenage years, most of which we spent obsessing about music that ran the gamut from mainstream and quirky pop (Elton John, the Sparks, Loggins & Messina...) to blues and progressive rock (Led Zeppelin, Queen, Rory Gallagher, Jeff Beck, Rick Wakeman, ELP, Yes...).

We were an odd bunch, cycling and clowning around on modded bicycles and going on camping trips that turned out to be mirthful adventures.

Unlike the others, Leo was fairly even-tempered, which made him a natural moderator in petty quarrels that arose. He wasn't always successful in solving the mainly juvenile issues, but he was not one to be easily daunted or discouraged.

All of us were astounded when Leo joined the Police Force as a probationary inspector, but when he rose to the rank of Assistant Superintendent and carved out a niche as a no-nonsense prosecutor with many successful cases, we realised that he had found his true calling.

At the time of his passing, Leo had risen to the rank of Deputy Superintendent and was in charge of a Police Field Force contingent in Kota Kinabalu.

The last time I saw him — about six months ago — Leo seemed cheerful and hardly showed any trace of illness. Unsurprisingly, it was difficult to shut him up each time the conversation turned to Led Zeppelin.

It was a shock when more than three months ago we discovered that he was terminally ill. Not one to give up easily, Leo took treatment in his stride and was in a cheerful mood when I spoke to him more than two weeks ago.

I mentioned my idea of writing a book about the railway roots of our hometown, Prai, and he brightened up at the prospect, expressing keen interest in the project and remarking that he knew some old railway people in Kota Kinabalu who had worked in Prai.

Two days ago, a friend of his based in Parit Buntar called to tell me that Leo was in a bad way. A day later, Leo had gone "gentle into that good night".

We will all miss Leo, a kind soul we're all proud to have known and been good friends with.

Leo, we know you will be reunited with your long-lost dad and jamming with John Bonham in music heaven. Have the time of your life, mate!