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Our writer, STEPHEN NG has been a secret admirer of Tan Sri Ani Arope, a former Executive Chairman of Tenaga Nasional since 13 years ago. He finally gets to meet the man he has always wanted to interview.

Tan Sri Ani Arope is one person you would enjoy listening to, if you have a few hours of your time to spare. He is one of a rare kind which, in his own words, should be breasting the finishing line soon. Unassuming and broadminded, witty in every sense of the word, at 79, this former Executive Chairman of Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) is still mentally active and comes on regularly to chat on Facebook offering some of his quotable quotes once in a while. One of such quotes which caught my attention was his fatherly advice: 'In your careers, you will meet many people from all walks of life from the CEO right down to the cleaner. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say 'hello.'

Although known only as Ani Arope on the social network, he is known and well-loved by many of his friends, relatives and acquaintances as Pak Ani. In fact, Pak Haji Ani, as some would also call him, is in the midst of writing his memoirs in response to his friends request and for the sake of posterity. When a personal friend wrote a synopsis of his soon to be published memoirs, he described the man with precision: Ani Arope is also highly principled....when Dr. Mahathir allowed independent power producers (IPPs) to set up plants and to sell power to TNB, Ani Arope objected to the skewed terms of pricing that virtually guaranteed profitability of the IPPs and forever rising costs to the average consumers. Of course Dr Mahathir told him to buzz off...and so Ani Arope went back home to his native Penang to join the ranks of the unemployed... He is one such a man who would not budge, even if it was an instruction by the prime minister to sign the contracts on behalf of Tenaga Nasional. In his memoirs, he will reveal more. Posterity? he quipped, quoting a line from his memoirs. That sounds a little ostentatious to me. However, being now a member of the endangered species heading for the departure lounge for the final flight beyond, I would now collate some of my thoughts on life as I see it and leave to the readers to interpret them as they see it. Life Back Then Born to Arope bin Mat and Alus binti Mohamad in 1932, Ani Arope considers himself as a `pendatang (foreigner). My paternal grandfather is Bugis. My grandmother was described as having a dark olive skin with a prominent hooked nose, he described, unashamedly. She could have been of a Bangladeshi or Burmese parentage, as there was a large community of them in Kampong Bengali in Province Wellesley or Seberang Perai. My fathers family was raised around Sungai Rambai, Bukit Mertajam, Penang. On the maternal side, his great grandfather was an Achenese fisherman. Being a newcomer, with his Achenese language, he must have found it hard to marry a local Malay lass; so he married a maiden from the Kuai kongsi. The Kuais were a group of Muslim Chinese who were unable to integrate into the then Malay society, as were the Arabs and Indians. Unlike the Indians and Arabs, who sat with legs folded on the floor, the Kuais were not accepted as they ate using chopsticks and squatted on benches. The Malays then wanted those who professed Islam to imbibe the Malay culture wholly before being accepted as Muslims hence, the concept of Masuk Melayu which was used for those who had assimilated into the Malay Islam society.

Apparently, everyone in the family referred to their grandmother as Tok Kuai. Recalling how Tok Kuai, being a Pendatang herself, stuck to her language, Ani eventually understood why her mother spoke flawless Hokkien! Growing up in Penang Ani, as a boy, grew up in a highly mixed environment of Malays, Javanese, Boyanese, Hokkiens, Tamils, Thais, Burmese, Eurasians, Arabs and Jews. As young as five years old, he and his friends had turned the uncovered monsoon drain along Cantonment Road as their meeting spot. During siesta hours, we would sneak out of the house and tease out the hair-like worms found between the concrete slabs lining the drain to feed our fighting fish, he laughed. We risked facing the wrath of our parents if we were caught playing there. When one of our names were called out, we would reply in the language of the caller (with accent and all) that Ah Hai or Gopal (or whoever) was not with us -- and probably grounded at home! One of his best friends at St Xaviers Institution was a fellow classmate, George Manasseh, who overcame the same initial problem of acceptance in class. We became close friends and have remained so until today, he said. We reveled in the camaraderie and were protective of each other. For one, they knew that they were the children of immigrants and it was no big issue, until much later the way he sees it it was played up by some politicians with their own agenda. The word immigrant or to use the colloquial term pendatang has unfortunately been given a derogatory twist, he lamented. Strictly speaking I am a third generation of Pendatang as both great grandparents on my paternal and maternal sides were migrants. What is there to hide or be ashamed of our own roots? he asked. In fact, I am proud of my lineage. Some of us have our origins from India, and dare we be ashamed of it! Worse is when we try to deny our fathers lineage. If our forefathers came from India, so be it! What is there to hide! Being Multilingual Ani Arope epitomizes what I consider as a truly patriotic Malaysian. He is multilingual. Besides having a strong command of the English language, from the way he speaks and writes, Anis ability to speak in fluent Hokkien, Japanese, French and Tamil, is a plus point. At some point, it makes me blush because he speaks better Hokkien than I could manage myself, Hokkien being my mother tongue! He picked up Japanese during the Japanese Occupation, when everything was taught in Japanese. It was years later that he found useful, when he had to deal with Japanese staff at Malaysian Rubber Research and Development Board, while serving with the Rubber Research Institute.

Having been posted to the rural areas of Kelantan in his early years as a fresh graduate, Anis ability to speak the local Malay accent also proved to be crucial in being accepted as one of them. The rural Kelantanese is very sensitive to outsiders coming in with an inflated sense of self-importance, he surmised. I have fond memories serving in the hinterlands or ulus of that state. One had just to speak their brand of Malay to be accepted, failing which one would be referred to as anjing luar daten cari maken literally a foreign dog coming to look for food. Kelantanese charm Commenting on the rural folk in Kelantan, Ani said, they seemed to know their faith at its deepest and richest best and this gave them a robust confidence to know enough of their non-Muslim neighbours faith to respect it. That is why you find the longest sleeping Buddhas statue in Tumpat, Kelantan, he added. Another lesson that he learnt while serving in Kelantan in the mid-50s: When there was a flood the folks came out in their best clothes to celebrate 'Pesta Ayer'. Here I learnt that 'Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.' A strong advocate of English, he said that the importance of learning the English language cannot be overemphasized. This emphasis needs to be reinforced, because English is the bridge for cross-cultural and global communication. We have to maintain or further improve on the quality, innovativeness and communication skills of the English language to ensure that we as a nation are not left behind in our global endeavors. A philosophical man himself, Ani said: Development in the Islamic world took place at a rapid pace because scholars accepted and acknowledged the fact that learning and understanding another language was crucial for the overall advancement of the position of man. Many Islamic scholars learnt Greek, Persian, and Mandarin, Urdu and anything and everything else for the pursuit of knowledge. Education Ani was the countrys first Fulbright Scholar, but he claims to be the first Halfbright to have gone on a Fulbright scholarship. He currently holds an undergraduate degree in agriculture from, Lincoln College University of Canterbury, NZ, a Masters of Agricultural Economics, University of Vermont, USA and seven Honorary Phds/DScs from local and foreign Universities. For most part of his primary education from as early as five-and-a-half years old, and his secondary years, he attended St Xaviers Institution in Penang. From young, people of all races were mingling freely. One of his close friends was in fact a son of a Jewish family. We never had this inkling of choosing our friends based on our races, he said. I dont see why we cannot maintain our good relations as fellow Malaysians.

During the Japanese Occupation, his education was interrupted. But when the war was finally over in 1945, together with these friends, Ani went back to school to prepare them for the Cambridge School Certificate. By 1949, when Ani himself sat for the papers at the age of 17, most of his friends also did well. One of the star students was Jasper Mehta, who was the youngest to sit for his School Certificate at the age of 14. However, he did not enter the university until he was 16, and he chose to study medicine. Recalling his friendship, Ani described Jasper as someone who was always playful and pulling pranks on others. Jasper is now retired from government service and is with a private hospital as one of its top surgeons. Another outstanding student was Abu Bakar Merican. He was far ahead when it came to Physics on Heat, Light and Sound even ahead of the teacher! He would scour around the radio scrap yards to pick up parts with which he would fashion his own receivers and transmitters. Mericans Chemistry and Biology were above the standards required even in the Higher School Certificate level. He would have been a leading Physicist but was given a place in University of Malaya to do Biological Science. He graduated with Honours and joined the Fisheries Department but died in a commercial plane crash in Johor. The last time we met was in Terengganu in 1962, Ani said. George Manasseh went on to do his degree in the United Kingdom after his Diploma from the Technical College (CHECK FULL NAME AND WHERE IT WAS LOCATED). After leaving the Malayan Railways, he joined Shell and went up the executive ladder. He subsequently migrated to Australia and we met up again like long-lost brothers in Perth, he said. His other friends were the Mong brothers Boon Mee, Boon Khan and Mong Kong who grew up with him. They all decided to join the police force. Coming from Myanmar and Thai parents, they spoke their mother tongue fluently. Talking about the sacrifice of the non-Malays for this nation, Ani immediately came to the defence of his childhood friends: Their mother was of Thai origin. For that, they volunteered for undercover work and were posted to the border area. One of them was kidnapped and very nearly executed. Ajit Singh was a junior member in his Scout patrol. Because he was the only turbaned member in the troop, some less sensitive members would peck on him. Being his patrol leader, I had always to tell them to back off, Ani recalled. Being young and growing up together as fellow Malaysians long before Independence, Ani spoke of his friendship with Ajit: This bond between us grew over the years and Ajit still looked up to me for a lot of things. When later I enrolled for the College of Agriculture, Serdang, he too applied and we met up again.

One thing about Ajit that Ani would never forget: I remember well the day he decided to cut his hair short. The Tamil barbers refused his request unless he got a letter of consent from his parents. They did this out of respect for his religion and did not want to get embroiled in any controversy. Such was the mutual respect and caring about others religion in my growing up days. Anis education did not just stop at the College of Agriculture in Serdang. He was offered a place at Lincoln College, University of Canterbury in New Zealand. I enjoyed my stay at Lincoln as I got myself involved with the local community there, he said. As the Cub Master of the Lincoln Pack, every Saturday was down at the village with the Cub pack. As he recalls, the children at the village were very expressive for their age. I had two lady assistants, Akela 1 and Akela 2. One was, let us say, well endowed. When the pack was divided into two, I gave the kids a choice of which pack they preferred to join, he recalled. One cheeky Cub said without hesitation, `The one with the bigger tits! There was an embarrassing silence, but it was hard to pretend not to have heard the remark.

Becoming a Nation As the nation turns 54 come August 31, Tan Sri Ani Arope is lamenting that a lot of todays woes are the result of gutter politics played by politicians who are bounded by arrogance, boastfulness, avarice, hate and jealousy. There seemed to be no rules governing their behavior, and these are the people who formulate bad laws and bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny, he said. On the issue of special rights for the Malays, the outspoken Tan Sri Ani wrote, with the hope to see the loopholes of the New Economic Policy being plugged: The issue of special rights for Malays and other Bumiputras is and will always be a delicate issue. If these rights will benefit Malays and other Bumis who truly deserve, then Malaysians will view the whole matter in a different light. However, it appears that these rights have been skewered to benefit the privileged Malays. The rural folks and those who really need help are getting the smallest of crumbs, if at all. Having grown up in the same era as the first four prime ministers, where he is critical of one of them, Tan Sri Ani raised the question in the midst of todays political scenario: What is the answer? At this challenging period, we do not need party loyalists, but people who are sensible, temperate, sober and well-judging persons to guide us through this tumultuous political time. For him, common sense must prevail at all times. A race-riot or a civil strife should never be our political option. The collateral damage is too great a cost of human sufferings, he warned.

When speaking at the Fulbright Scholars meeting a year ago, Tan Sri, who was the countrys first recipient of the Fulbright Scholarship, said his major concern is to see a more stark polarization of races in our schools and institutions of higher learning. This polarization opens the door to prejudice and bigotry amongst the various races, he said. Harnessing our diversity could be the driving force for development not only in respect of economic growth but also of leading a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual life. He opined that, whatever the conflicts, they should not be swept under the carpet but met head on and discussed honestly about everyones concerns. We may disagree but we must understand that healthy disagreements would help build better decisions, he advised. We must be prepared to discuss our value systems and our priorities. We should not feel embarrassed to talk of the short-comings amongst us or the marginalized sections of our society who are not able to participate in the mainstream of society. Just one final advice from this endangered species something which he posted on his Facebook: Do you know why a car's WINDSHIELD is so large and the Rearview Mirror is so small? Because our PAST is not as important as our FUTURE. Look ahead and move on!


By Ani Arope

I have been asked many times why I took up flying at this stage of my life. Wasnt there a more sedate way to spend ones retirement than to go in for something that demanded ones full attention to master a potentially lethal set of circumstances? Well meaning friends point out that if I were adrift in the ocean, the chances of being picked up was a real possibility. Or if I were to go off on a jungle track and got lost a search and rescue team could still go searching for me. But if something untoward happened in the cockpit whilst I was up in the air no rescue party could drop in to give me a hand. I dont know about being cast adrift in the ocean or getting lost in the jungle. I have had my share of excitement up in the clouds and always there was a reassuring voice coming from the tower or another flyer who happened to be within radio range to give me help. I tell my well wishing friends that the most dangerous part of flying, and this is being corroborated by statistical figures, is the drive from the house to the airfield! Flying is a great sport especially for those who want a release from their high pressure jobs. The total immersion it demands helps soak off the cares of

the day. From start-up to shutdown, the time is spent on aviating, navigating and communicating. At the end of

the flight, there is this sense of personal satisfaction, a useful work well accomplished and time well spent. Those who fly enjoy the thrill of meeting up with the challenges of managing risks and equipment involved to bring themselves and their craft back to terra firma. More mid-level and top executives in the private and public sectors should consider giving it a go. If dummies like me could take to the skies at this late stage in life, there is no reason why others cant. YOUNG FLYERS For the youngsters, it is good discipline. It trains leadership and responsibility. When one of my children (a hyperactive kid) was at college, how was I to guide her 8000 miles away? I encouraged her to take up flying as one of her electives, though she was majoring in Microbiology. Flying was done on Saturdays at eight in the mornings. When students turned up blurry eyed and looking under the weather, they were sent back to their dorms. So in wanting to fly there couldnt be late Friday nights or attending boisterous student parties. And what was more the students that took flying were the more responsible types and were a lot different from the ultra holier than thou groups of all denominations that were rampant on the campuses then. In short if you have an ultra super active child, one way to hive off that extra energy is to channel him/her to take up flying. Under their instructor they develop discipline, leadership and responsibility. They get to meet up with flyers of different age groups and professional interests. This is good for them in their formative stage of their development. AIRPORT PECULIARITIES

When I first received my Private Pilots License (PPL) and was able to wander off on my own, I undertook to visit most of the major airports on the East and West Coast of the Peninsular. Every airport has its own peculiarities. Coming in to land in Kota Baru, you would be warned to beware of low flying kites in the vicinity. In Langkawi, as you come in for a touchdown, a gust of wind might throw you off the center line. You would have to crab in and use the opposite rudder with a tad of power to land on one main wheel first before settling on the other.

Flying into Tioman, your circuit level is 800 feet and right hand down wind. Without being able to see the airfield which is supposed to run parallel to your flight on the right you take your cue from the checker board on the hill to make a descending right turn to base. At 600 feet you make your final approach to land. Once cleared, you give it full flaps, slow down the plane to its appropriate speed, trim and aim for the landing point.

As the ground rushes to meet you and the width of the airfield fills your

windscreen, you pull up on the yoke and keep the plane flying straight and level and shifting your gaze to the far end of the airfield. As the plane sinks, you pull back on the yoke just enough to keep it flying straight with the nose pointing a little up. As the main wheels touch ground, you cut power and take the flaps off. You slow down by raising the planes nose and touching the brakes. You get a tremendous satisfaction when you call Tower to say Bravo Delta Bravo, shutting down. Good day and thank you. Your flying is not over until the engine is shut down, master switch is off and chocks are put in the front wheel.

DIFFERENT PLANE MODELS There is no end to the number of different makes and models of aircraft one might eventually fly. I must admit that I have a fondness for flying different models of single engine planes. I started off with the Cessna 172, a very forgiving plane. then spent some time on the Eagle 150, a stick and rudder plane with power control on the left pretty nippy and responsive. I had an opportunity to fly the MD3, a Malaysian manufactured plane under licensed from the Swiss. When I was visiting Italy, I had the occasion to fly the Piagio 2 Seater Trainer. Now I fly regularly on the Piper Warrior.

A Piper Warrior

CONCLUSION Flying sharpens my mental faculties. It gives me added motivation to keep healthy as I have to appear for my medical every six months to keep my license current. So I have to watch my diet, keep myself physically fit with regular exercises. I socialize, meeting with fellow flyers ranging from 18 years to their late fifties. I

get to talk to pilots and controllers whom I dont get a chance to meet and building a sort of camaraderie up in the air. Finally one cannot imagine the satisfaction of watching the country side roll under your wings. The perspective from on high is both powerful and humbling. The puny efforts of man to alter the landscape fade into insignificance under the leveling press of altitude. In this way, the experience of flying is reward enough.

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