Konsert Misteri Jam 12: Jangan Takut Hantu…

For regular readers of this blog, I know this comes as a massive surprise to you, but no, I was not at The Float @ Marina Bay for Countdown 2012, even though one of my favourite singers, Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, was performing on my 33rd birthday. I was happily relaxing and watching the show from the comfort of home, and I would have probably gone had my favourite team not played that night. But the night of rest did me good as I welcomed 2012 by attending the RIA 897FM-organised “Konsert Misteri Jam 12: Jangan Takut Hantu” event held at Fort Canning Park on the first day of the new Gregorian calendar. I have been delaying this particular entry for the fact that I have been quite busy, to the point I was reminded to post this entry as soon as possible by none other than the creative mind behind the success of the most highly rated programme on the radio station, none other than DJ KC himself.

Speaking as the co-administrator of the official blog of the said programme, I have witnessed first hand how the show has evolved since he took over the helm some four years ago from the previous incumbent Zan Sofiyan. KC has done such a fantastic job to lift the quality standards of the programme to the point that his occasional absences through leave or sickness is lamented by fans on the station’s official Facebook page Wall. Even when there were occasions he was not feeling well, he soldiered on, or came back just to do the two hour programme, its popularity spreading across the world with the availability of internet radio and via radio applications on smart phones. I know how popular it is just by looking at the number of emails received by fans of the programme who shared their personal experiences, a bulk of them coming from across the Causeway, as well as as far away as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, even Dubai. The show is such a hit that to have a concert was a good way to show the station’s appreciation to the fans.

This popularity was very much evident on the day of the concert, when 6000-odd fans thronged the lush lawns of the Fort Canning Park. When I reached the venue close to 6pm, a long queue had formed outside the entrance. I was fortunate enough to get a parking lot as a vehicle had moved off just as I was nearing it. We were allowed in at about 6:20pm and it was a sight to behold seeing the area being filled to its brim. I have never seen a local concert filled with just local acts get such a positive response as this. But then again, the topic of the supernatural has always been a fascinating and intriguing one in our community so it was no surprise that even without big names to grace the event, the theme itself guaranteed bums on the lush green grass of the venue. And I believe this was the first supernatural-themed concert held in a grand way in Singapore. Forget any Halloween-related parties, but correct me please if I’m wrong here.

I was pleased to know that a space was set aside for concert-goers to observe their obligatory responsibilities and it was heartening to see quite a number of people observing them judging by the queues and patient waiting outside the area. The only thing I was a little peeved about was why did the pre-show host, who happened to be one half of the hosts during the Grand Final of the Piala Dollah Kassim 2011 tournament, choose to use the time between 7:10pm and 7:45pm to hype the crowd and encouraging them to make a lot of noise??? I personally felt it was disrespectful to those who were observing their responsibilities. He could have at least started say around 7:30pm, not right smack when people were saying their prayers. I dunno if this was the station’s decision to hype the crowd as early as possible or was it the pre-show host’s own doing, but I hope in future, a little amount of respect would be observed. I’m sure for anyone who observes their daily obligations, they hate to be interrupted or disturbed by things happening around them and want full concentration.

Fiza O and Hassan Salleh…

The show began with the hosts Fiza O and Hassan Salleh, the station’s programme director coming on stage dressed as what appeared to be hideous characters. Not sure what character was Mr Hassan supposed to be portraying as he was dressed what appeared to be “Hantu Kum-Kum“, but Fiza was dressed as a “Langsuir” complete with make up on her lower neck to show that her head was previously “detached” from her body. As they welcomed us to the show and thanked the various sponsors, they also took the time to remind the audience that the concert also marked the official launch of the “Misteri Jam 12: Jangan Takut Hantu” VCD / CD containing horror-themed songs normally heard during the weekly two-hour programme. These songs were composed and performed by our local acts as well as DJ KC himself. The VCD / CD also contains a short film titled “Saka Mak Minah” and acted by none other than the deejays themselves. On top of that, there are short video clips of KC reading ghost stories at locations in Singapore regarded as haunted. The VCD / CD was sold at a special rate of $18.00 that night whereas it is available in good stores today at a price of $19.90. Suffice to say, the popularity of the programme guaranteed three-thousand odd copies being sold that night!!!

Besides the concert marking a milestone for the radio station with the launch of the VCD / CD, it also coincided with the annual Projek Rentak competition organised by RIA 897FM and COMPASS. As the theme of this concert was of the supernatural and horror, songs composed for this competition also had to have the same or related theme. The three finalists who came on stage to perform their songs – Klutz (“Mentera Dendam Puteri“), Iskandar Rawi (“Lari“) and Md Bakti Ridhwan (“Madah Pohon Beringin“) did not disappoint. Each song and performance had their own strengths and speciality. In the end, the humour-infused “Lari” was chosen as the winner of the competition, even though my personal favourite was Klutz‘s “Mentera Dendam Puteri“, who came in second. Md Bakti Ridhwan‘s “Madah Pohon Beringin” bagged the Best Performance of the night to go along with the second-runner up tag that he received. All the compositions were judged by Brader Bo, Moliano, Sham Wahab and Noor Hasnah Adam; music producers, composers and lyricists in their own rights. The Best Performance category was judged by Dr. Edmund Lam, president of COMPASS and Ms Zakiah Halim, Assistant Vice-President of Malay / Indian / Expat Programming for Mediacorp Radio.

Iskandar Rawi (second from right) was the winner of Projek Rentak: MJ12, seen here with Ms. Zakiah Halim and his fellow performers receiving their award…

I will not delve too much about the other performances and segments that night as you would be able to view them in the video montage that I will put up in due time. I was suitable impressed with the guest band that was formed (they called themselves “The Momoks“), led by Brader Bo, with Fadly of X-Tech / No Strings Attached fame on lead vocals. Fans of the 2008 Anugerah Band competition would remember Fadly for the vocal powerhouse that he is, and that night he whipped the crowd into frenzy with his unmatched prowess. I know that certain quarters complained that it felt more like a rock concert but I thought the songs performed that night were given a fresh injection with much needed energy. As the title of the concert had stated, “Jangan Takut Hantu“, the pumped-up feeling I got from the blasting music sure as hell made me forget about being scared of ghosts. If that was their intention by playing that kind of loud music, then I think they have achieved their aim. Other local acts who performed that night were Shafyre, Kraton, Rifaah Ridzuwanulhakim of 2D fame and B8, whom I heard, regrouped again specially for that night only.

One itinerary in the programme line-up that had the crowd in stitches was the “Momok Paling Sachok” segment. Concert-goers were encouraged to dress as ghosts, even the stagehands and concert crew were dressed as scary characters. Most notable of all was one of the crew members (if I’m not mistaken, it’s DJ Harie Azhari of XFM 963FM / Warna 942FM), who portrayed the irritating “Makcik Keropok” by walking to and fro giving crackers and asking for money in return. The five finalists who went on stage for that particular segment certainly had to be given full marks for the effort they came up with. I must say most in the audience were also very much impressed by their respective get-ups. Some even formed queues to take a photograph with them. In the end, the one who won the segment was the lady by the name of “Wati“, who was dressed as a Pontianak. The funny part about that segment was not only were the “ghosts” cracking jokes on stage with the hosts for the segment, Aura Shai and Nity Baizura, but they were also game enough to dance along to the tunes of Inul Daratista‘s dangdut songs.

The true star of the show: DJ KC…

All in all, I had an enjoyable night. What was supposed to end at 10:30pm ended about thirty-five minutes later, but I did not feel the time passing by at all. I heard complaints afterwards that the sound system was bad. Where I was, it did not feel that way, maybe because I was seated quite close to the speakers. I was just thankful that I had premium “seats” in the house. As the co-administrator of the Misteri Jam 12 official blog, I felt heartened by the turnout of the concert. I felt extremely happy and proud for the producer of the concert himself, KC, whose hard work to make this programme and subsequently the concert a success, paid off big time. People only see the end product of his efforts but the amount of time and sacrifices he puts in daily to entertain listeners is extremely commendable, especially moreso when days leading up to the concert, he stumbled upon several personal obstacles to overcome physically and mentally. For that, respect and my humble salute is accorded to him and to me, he was the true star of the concert. No one can begrudge him of that.

Video clip courtesy of DJ KC‘s Youtube channel…

Snapshots of Konsert MJ12: Jangan Takut Hantu

Fazly Sapuan, lead singer of Klutz, performing “Mentera Dendam Puteri“, the group’s composition that made it to the finals of Projek Rentak: MJ12.

Iskandar Rawi, the composer of “Lari“, the other finalist of Projek Rentak: MJ12

Md Bakti Ridhwan, the son of Md Khair Md Yasin of Rausyanfikir fame, performed his composition “Madah Pohon Beringin” with his father contributing to the lyrics to the song…

Dr. Edmund Lam, President of COMPASS and Ms. Zakiah Halim, Assistant Vice-President of Malay / Indian / Expat Programming, Mediacorp Radio, were the judges for Best Performance of the night by the three finalists of Projek Rentak: MJ12

Moliano was one of the judges for Projek Rentak MJ12

Klutz awaiting their fate…

Projek Rentak: MJ12 2nd Runner-Up: “Madah Pohon Beringin“…

Iskandar Rawi and friends bracing themselves for the final results…

Klutz receiving the 1st Runner-Up award…

 

 “Makcik Keropok” was in the house as well…

Fadly of X-Tech was in his element that night…

So was Brader Bo

 Shafyre performed “Jampi Serapah” and “Mimpi Duyung“…

 

 Nity Baizura and Aura Shai took over hosting duties for the “Momok Paling Sachok” segment…

 

 Contestants of the “Momok Paling Sachok” competition…

Makcik Keropok” dances along to Inul Daratista‘s “Goyang Inul“...

He must have breathed through his mouth throughout the night…

The winner, Wati the “Pontianak“…

Fuzzley of B8…

 Izad of B8

 KC reading a story to the audience…

 Lamenting how hot the mask was…

Rifaah Ridzuwanulhakim of 2D fame, performed “Hantu Relek One Korner“…

Rico, the younger brother of Rifaah

KC performed a medley of songs normally heard during the Misteri Jam 12 programme…

Rifaah unmasked…

 

Surayah of Kraton performing Misha Omar‘s “Pulangkan“…

She was complemented well by her husband, Jufri, whose showmanship is a hallmark of the group’s performances…

Kraton also performed their hit single “Fanaq” that night…

KC gave away these cushions to the audience…

The finale witnessed the performers singing the classic hit “Pontianak“, made famous by Allahyarham Dato’ Ahmad Daud

RIA Big Bash Flashback…

2010 seems like a special year for our local Malay entertainment industry thus far. Mediacorp Suria turned ten years old late January. By mid 2010, we will be seeing new faces who would be gracing our television screens in the near future when the second edition of Anugerah Skrin comes along. Last Saturday 27th February 2010 at the Canning Ballroom, Raffles City Convention Centre, for those who attended, we witnessed the launch of the Malay Artistes Association to look after the welfare of Malay artistes and industry movers in this country. And for the first time, 2010 will see our first local Malay music awards presentation show on 3rd April 2010. Landmark events all around, which also includes the twentieth anniversary of the existence of RIA 89.7FM.

Over the past two decades, RIA 89.7FM has evolved from a station that inspires its listeners through its tagline “Radio Inspirasi Anda” to a station that plays music according to the current generation’s trend (“Tren Generasi Terkini“). There was a time when Dangdut was the in thing and boybands were the craze. RIA certainly lived up to their tag by playing songs from these genres / eras. Its tagline has since been updated to “Tren Muzik Terkini“, in line with its role in playing the latest hits. RIA has also inadvertantly taken up the role of a station that promotes our local acts through the constant airing of their new singles upon their release. Of late, their weekly RIA Chartz, which reflects the weekly Top 20 requested songs in the station, has shown a healthy number of local songs in it. As recently as the previous weekend before last ending 28th February 2010, of the Top 5 songs on the charts, the top three belonged to local acts with Hady Mirza‘s “Angkasa” at the pinnacle. This past weekend he topped the charts again for a thirteenth straight week!!!

With the rise in number of local acts making their marks in our local Malay music industry, it was no surprise that RIA marked their first outdoor event for 2010 called “RIA Big Bash“, to celebrate their twenty years of existence, with an all-local line-up. I’ve been to countless shows organised by them and have also performed on a number of occasions after winning the Impersonation Category at Kriatif RIA 1997, one of their many organised talent competitions. I must say the response in attendance has always been resounding. But what I felt was something special for “Big Bash“, an A-classed event by their standards, was the fact that they did not feel the need to invite artistes from across the Causeway to grace the occasion. It definitely was a statement of intent for them to show how far our local acts have progressed over the years and that the audience would come and give their support. It also helped that we had Hady Mirza and Taufik Batisah performing that night, sure bets for bums on seats, as the main attractions. Though I knew all along it was deliberate, but if it ever was a gamble to have an all-local line-up, it certainly paid off as the event was a sell-out.

Besides the local acts  and the twentieth anniversary of the station being the draws of this event, the night also saw the announcement of the Top 20 songs over the past two decades aired by the station. Since the end of December 2009, listeners were invited to cast their votes on which songs have been their favourite ones since RIA was incepted on 1st December 1990. They were given a list of 100 songs to choose from. How the 100 songs made the list can only be answered by the good people working in the station. But I was quite surprised that songs like KRU‘s “Awas” and “Ooh La La” did not make it to the list, monster hits back in 1995 and 1996 that defined the group, but “Di Dalam Dilema” (the list reflected the song as just “Dilema“) did. There were also other absentees which I thought deserved to be on the Top 100 list to choose from, but I guess they already have their hands full coming up with one and try to include songs from different artistes as much as possible. I think if I had come up with the list, Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza would have at least ten of her past hits on it.

This entry though it will be quite lengthy with photographs that I have taken that night, I will just comment or caption as I go along. For the record, “RIA Big Bash” was held at Republic Polytechnic‘s The Republic Cultural Centre on 21st February 2010 at 8.00pm (the show actually started approximately 8.20pm). It was brought to us by main sponsors Breeks Cafe and Seoul Garden Restaurant. The event was also in support of  Tabung Amal Aidilfitri charity fund.

This percussions group call themselves “Sambateria” and they opened the show with their rousing performance which made us all want to get up and dance along with them…

There was something distinctly fresh about how dikir barat group Si Anak Seni performed that night right after Sambateria. They ditched their traditional outfits and broke away from the norms of what you would expect from a normal dikir barat performance by taking up the different musical instruments and playing to a song honouring RIA 89.7FM, its segments and presenters, which they specially composed for the bash. A pity that the sound system did not fully give them a good account of themselves. I was straining my ears trying to figure out what they were singing.

The hosts that night and the previous morning show hosts on RIA, Aura Shai and Hafeez Glamour. Their antics certainly entertained the audience and gave each performance a smooth transition between one another.

This three-piece band, The Lion Story, is famous for the catchy ditty “Kucing Kemari” which they performed that night, along with another single. They remind me a lot of those bands from school gigs, clean cut and definitely with loads of potential.

Ever the charmer, Didicazli serenaded Ms Zakiah Halim to Jamal Abdillah‘s 1991 hit “Kekasih Awal Dan Akhir“, which came in 17th on the Top 20 list of popular songs on RIA over the past two decades. He dedicated the song as his way of saying thank you to her and the station for believing in his music when he first started off as a singer.

He then followed up his performance by singing his latest hit single “Takkan Kembali“…

S.K. (Suriani Kassim) and T.G. (Tahar Ghalib), two very popular radio presenters previously on RIA‘s roster and now at Warna 94.2FM, rolled back the years when they performed the classic hit “Dua Insan” made famous by first M. Nasir & Yunizar Hussein, and then Ezad from Exists & Iva Virginia. It was heartening to see S.K. in the pink of health after what she went through some time ago. Coupled with the fact that their performance was backed up with still footages of previous RIA events over the past twenty years, I felt a lump in my throat, getting nostalgic watching and reminiscing them. I was also momentarily stunned when I saw a photo of myself featured during the Tingkap Tingkap 897 event in 1997 a few months after my group’s win at Kriatif RIA and we were invited to perform.

Zaibaktian always gets a resounding reception  from the audience whenever he comes on stage. A very warm and likeable character, he performed his two hits “Dunia Yang Fana” and “Ejen Cinta” that night…

I think it is fair to say that the only female artiste on show that night, Nana, blew the whole auditorium away with her two songs. Rather than singing her hit “Lafaz“, she sang two songs that made it into the Top 20 hits of the past two decades, Misha Omar‘s “Bunga-Bunga Cinta” and Aishah‘s “Janji Manismu“. My hairs stood on end listening to her. Somebody of her calibre should be creating storms and causing ripples in our local music industry and I hope she gets all the support she needs. I for one thought that she should have been one of the longer standing performers in Singapore Idol Season 1 alongside Jeassea Thyidor.

The night not only saw performances by local acts, even the RIA presenters had something up their sleeves for the audience. Of late DJ KC has been practising street magic skills, of which he has incorporated into his weekend hosting events for weddings and functions alike. Though not many knew of this new-found interest and skill of his, that night, he showed his abilities to the audience alongside RIA‘s Programme Director, Mr. Hassan Salleh. Generally everyone was impressed. Just that I felt that it was a bit too draggy as they invited some of the audience to participate in the segment. It was a Sunday afterall and a lot of people had to work the following day.

From the amateurs, the centrestage then belonged to the professional, none other than Imran of Illusi fame. He wowed the audience with a few tricks like making himself disappear on stage and in his place was Fiza O, before reappearing at the back of the auditorium. He also made Nity Baizura and Aura Shai appear on stage. God knows how he did those tricks. However, certain sections of the audience especially those at opposite ends, saw through him. He has to make sure that in future, his surroundings are well covered and that no one should be able to detect his flaws.

Proceedings were then halted for awhile as RIA‘s presenters, current and former, came on stage to cut its twentienth anniversary cake. It was heartwarming to see some of the former presenters being invited and able to attend the event. Azmi Sempoi who was based in Kuala Lumpur, made the effort to come all the way down just to see his former colleagues. Some of them like Fiza O and Azlin Ali, were overcome with emotions upon seeing him. He is now based in India on a business venture.

Boy Raven who was supposed to perform alongside Man Toyak, ended up performing alone. He is seen here singing his current hit on radio “Kesuma Jiwa“.

Boy‘s second set came with a surprise. He sang “Mentera Semerah Padi“, which came in ninth on the Top 20 list of songs over the past twenty years on RIA, alongside Didicazli and Zaibaktian, to the cheers of the audience.

Kraton was up next. This RIA Band Remix champion in 2008 received mix reviews from many quarters. While most people did not like their rendition of Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza‘s “Cindai“, me included, I felt that overall, they were a breath of fresh air with their elaborate costume and unorthodox showmanship. The male singer, Jufri, pranced around and kept jumping up and down the stage. Fortunately there were no pregnant ladies seated at the front row, lest they would have gotten unwanted shocks and trauma, especially since he was wearing a special kind of contact lens that made him look scarier. He certainly performed like a man possessed that night. I for one love their hit single “Fanaq” as it reminds me a lot of “Puspasari Penawar Puteri“, made famous by the now-defunct Malaysian rock group Metalasia and Ning Baizura sometime in 2004.

Since its inception, RIA 89.7FM has organised several talent competitions for aspiring artistes and performers to showcase their talents. Over the years we’ve had competitions like Karaoke 897, Kitalah Bintang, RIA Band Remix and Kriatif RIA amongst others. Such competitions have been good foundations for artistes like Hetty Sarlene, Rudy Djoharnaen, Mansor Warren, Izzla (Malaysian artiste), X-Tech, Kraton and many more. So it was apt that during the event, Styles From Beyond, who were the winners of Kriatif RIA a few years ago and also participated in 2008‘s The Dance Floor competition on Channel 5, were invited to showcase their talents once again.

The twist to their performance was they had Fiza O and Nity Baizura dancing along with them and the two of them did not look out of place at all. Yours truly also belong to the Kriatif RIA alumnus but I don’t think my group would be relevant in the current context had we been invited to perform, seeing that we were only impersonators of KRU and the real McCoy have since cooled off to concentrate more on their music and filming empire. Anyway, we’ve had our time and what great memories they were. My only regrets were the lack of videos and photographs of our past performances. If only YouTube was invented earlier.

I could sense the restlessness amongst the audience when Styles From Beyond were performing as the night was getting late. But all those feelings disintegrated when Hady Mirza came onstage to sing “Merpati“, which came in third on the Top 20. He even took time to come down and shook hands with everyone seated on the front row. And what is a Hady performance nowadays without his gargantuan hit “Angkasa”??? I have to repeat again that it is tops for thirteen weeks now on the current RIA Chartz, a phenomenon of sorts.

Taufik Batisah‘s appearance towards the end was a no-brainer. But I was surprised that his song “Usah Lepaskan” came in first on the Top 20 list of songs. Not that I have any doubts or have an axe to grind with Taufik, far from it, but it reflects the current demographics and patterns of voters out there, not to mention preferences. Had this poll been done in 2000, there will be no surprises as to which singer or song would top the charts. However Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza could be pleased with the fact that three of her previous hits “Cindai“, “Aku Cinta Padamu” and “Percayalah” made it to the list, thus making her the top artiste over the past two decades. That’s another no-brainer really given how much she has achieved in her career spanning fifteen years and counting.

What was unique about Taufik‘s performance was the fact that the producer of RIA Big Bash, RZ himself, came on stage to sing the first few verses and chorus of “Usah Lepaskan“, just to keep the audience in suspense, anticipating the arrival of the first Singapore Idol onstage. Though he forgot the lyrics at some point, I thought RZ did a decent job singing the song. The tiredness on his face was evident and I knew he has been spending long hours at work preparing for this big-scale event. Taufik followed up his performance singing “Tiada Dua“, a song that is fast gaining its admirers. But it is not a surprise to me at all. Taufik seems to have the Midas touch in that any single of his that is introduced to the listeners, it will surely be a guaranteed hit. No question about it.

The last act of the night belonged to the RIA male presenters who formed a band amongst themselves and are simply called RIA Band, with DJ KC on vocals, Brader Bo on lead guitar and RZ on drums. Apologies as the identity of their guest bassist was lost on me though. The band, which was formed during the first Band Remix competition back in 2007, performed Ricky Martin‘s “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and literally burnt the house down with their virtuoso and energetic performance.

It was also a nice gesture for them to call up Zan Sofiyan, one of its original members, and Azmi Sempoi to perform on stage with them halfway through the song to signal its finale. And what a finale it was with Brader Bo smashing his guitar. It truly felt like watching a proper rock concert.

RIA Big Bash was overall, a resounding success in my opinion, not because I’ve been a loyal listener since 1st December 1990, or because I used to be an intern back in 1998 or for the fact that I regard some of the presenters as good friends. The main thing for me is that for a big-scale event like this, RIA can pat themselves on the back for being able to attract a full house (the empty seats in the auditorium I believe, belonged to representatives from sponsors and invitees who did not turn up) and most importantly without the need to call upon a guest artiste from Malaysia or Indonesia. It was an all-Singaporean affair which in itself is a landmark and progress that we have made over the years to see our local Malay music industry bloom. Indeed since its inception, RIA has done a commendable job to introduce and support local acts, even to the point of granting airplay to songs which do not meet the basic quality standards.

However, there were flaws that could have been avoided. The day of the event which was on a Sunday was top of the list, bearing in mind that the next day was a Monday and people had to go to work or attend school. It was too evident when the show started almost half an hour late and certain segments were too draggy or absolutely redundant. The magic show for instance could have just been done by KC or Imran. The opening acts involving Sambateria and Si Anak Seni I felt was just a repetitive segment which could have been done either by fusing their respective genres or limited to just one. With so many acts on show, there was a tendency of the old adage of too many cooks spoiling the broth rearing its ugly head.

The event also felt like a repeat of last August‘s Rentak Singapura event organised by both RIA and Warna 94.2FM. Even though I did not attend that event due to personal commitments, the main artistes on show that night (Taufik, Hady, Zaibaktian, Nana and Didicazli) were also the same headliners on 21st February 2010. Not meaning to take anything away from the five talented singers, I believe we still have other acts patiently waiting for their opportunities to make themselves be heard and seen. But I can understand why they were chosen because they have their own sets of loyal supporters who would go the distance in supporting them. As a result, we saw that the event was a full house. The sound system was also left to be desired as the vocals of the singers were sometimes drowned by the music that accompanied them. Which was a pity really cos the talents on show certainly deserved better justice to their performances.

The positive side of it is that this event is only the first of many for 2010 and one could expect more local acts to be invited for upcoming ones in store. I just don’t want to hear something like so-and-so is a golden child to so-and-so or this person charges lesser that’s why he / she was invited. Have heard of such things like that across the Causeway and I don’t want our industry to suffer the same thing. Have yet to anyway, that’s why I’m just throwing caution to the wind. Not pointing fingers at anyone in case some of you feel that way. Jealousy breeds contempt in so many ways and what I brought up has happened before, so I wouldn’t like to see it repeated here. Before I end this entry, here is the full list of Top 20 songs on RIA over the past twenty years:

Top 20 Songs on RIA 89.7FM (1990-2010)

  1. Usah Lepaskan – Taufik Batisah
  2. Demi Waktu – Ungu
  3.  Merpati – Hady Mirza
  4. Cindai – Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza
  5. Percayalah – Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza
  6. Kaulah Segalanya – Hazrul Nizam
  7. Janji Manismu -Aishah
  8. Dealova – Once (Dewa 19)
  9. Mentera Semerah Padi – M. Nasir
  10. Mungkin Nanti – Peterpan
  11. Kenangan Terindah – Samsons
  12. Seribu Tahun – Imran Ajmain
  13. Bunga-Bunga Cinta – Misha Omar
  14. Aku Cinta Padamu – Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza
  15. Cenderawasih – 2D
  16. Menghitung Hari – Kris Dayanti
  17. Kekasih Awal & Akhir – Jamal Abdillah
  18. Bilang Saja – Agnes Monica
  19. P.U.S.P.A. – ST12
  20. Hijau – Zainal Abidin

Onboard RIA Anniversary Cruise…

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Apologies for this purposedly delayed entry, if you consider publishing this extremely long entry some seventy-two hours later from returning as “late“. I was having a massive headache when I got home last Friday due to lack of sleep and getting up on the wrong side of bed on the last day of the event, that by the time I reached home, the first thing I wanted to do was catch up on lost sleep “suffered” during the trip. As always, when there is such an event as long as this (this is definitely by far the longest!!!) and when I’m there to witness it firsthand and tell it as how I see, hear or experience it, it is jolly well gonna be a massive entry for your reading pleasure. I’m updating this as slowly as I could and taking my own sweet time. So again I apologise if you people out there have been waiting for my update on this trip, which was from 3rd to 5th December 2008. Oh and I need to add on, it is the longest entry to date that I’ve done so far in my history of blogging. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!!

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The main lobby on the 7th floor…

I’ve been an avid listener of RIA 89.7FM right from its inception on 1st December 1990 at exactly 5pm. I still remember listening to it for the first time about a month short of my 12th birthday whilst sitting in my father’s car, trapped along the Causeway due to the traffic jam heading towards Johor Bahru. We were making our way there to watch the 2nd leg of Singapore‘s Malaysia Cup semi-final match against Johor. It was the heady days of Alistair Edwards and Abbas Saad and we duly won 4-1 that night. Anyway back to my story and I have to apologise if I were to sidetrack a bit and relate my past experiences with the radio station before I describe what happened during the trip.

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One of the karaoke rooms…

I’ve grown up listening to the station, seen its evolution over the years and many changes to those on its payroll as deejays come and go every few years with the exception of Hafeez Glamour who has been onboard right from the very start. I grew up with it from the time I was in primary school to my current standing as a father of two. It is also ironical that my firstborn shares the same birthday as the radio station as well, such is my apparent “loyalty”, as mentioned by former programme director of the station, bro A.B. Shaik, when I first broke the news to him on the birth of Syahindah Adawiyah.

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One of the highlights of my internship 🙂

Over the past eighteen years being a listener, I’ve had good memories being a part of their events and for a good period of three and a half months in 1998, being a part of the staff as an intern doing my polytechnic attachment programme, which till now still remains one of my best memories in life and for the fact that I was perhaps the first to do my internship without a Mass Communications background, as noted by former RIA deejay Morniyati Tukimin back then, who is now at Warna 94.2FM. Another memorable event was of course “kRIAtif 97” whereby my best friend Nizam, cousin Ezaad and myself impersonated KRU and won the Impersonation Category, performing on the same stage along with a certain up and coming Datin Sri. Circa 1998-2001, I was also a volunteer at their outdoor events, my way and form of gratitude in having me onboard as an intern.

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kRIAtif 97… An unforgettable event…

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Being invited to perform at Boom RIA Boom in 1998.

But in any relationship out there, there are bound to be differences in opinions and clash of personalities over the course of time. I’ve had several run-ins and misunderstandings with some of them before in the past and I’m sure certain events I’ve reviewed like Anugerah Planet Muzik for instance, would have ruffled some feathers within their hierarchy. However, I’m not the kind to prolong whatever differences I have. Like I had mentioned in my entry on “Being Impartial” recently, I let go what is trapped inside and I move on and not dwell over it. Anyway, criticisms do not constitute with having hatred and angst inside, nor does it decay to the point that we’re no longer on talking terms. There could possibly be future run-ins and misunderstandings in store, touch wood, you’ll never know, but such is life in that it would not have that wee bit of pizzazz if we were to agree on the same things all the time. I believe whatever differences we might have in terms of opinions and how things should be run in the past were because we all care for the station and want to see it thrive even more.

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Entertainment by the pub…

As a listener, we can complain and rant objectively and not based on emotions, but we also have the power to suggest what could be done to make things better and it’s up to them to weigh them up and implement them. I’ve had a few suggestions taken on board and implemented which shows, they do take our suggestions quite seriously, where policies and working guidelines are not compromised. At the end of the day, no matter what differences we have in terms of personalities and opinions, I still respect them for what they do for a living. It helped that my internship a decade ago made me understand how they work trying to please the masses on a daily basis. And it is definitely not all glitz and glamour as seen by most people out there.

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The Gallery – Where they placed our photographs taken just before we boarded the ship…

In Malay speak, you would say my foreword would be “Panjangnya mukadimah dia, bila nak start cerita pasal trip!!!???” Ok I shall not bore you any further then with anecdotes of my colourful past and just get on with talking about the cruise trip. My thesis is just about to get longer as I spin my yarn so please bear with my long-windedness.

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The cinema room… Looks more like an AVA room found in schools…

Pre-Trip

The idea of having the cruise trip was first mentioned sometime in September when the station ran its “Lagu Apa Sayang???” promotions where listeners would call in and guessed the title of a particular song which contained the word “Sayang“, and they have to guess just by listening to a one to two seconds clip of the song. At first, I was not that interested to go on the trip, but when they eventually said that “Misteri Jam 12“, a hot favourite programme amongst the listeners and mine as well, was part of the agenda of the trip, I secretly yearned to be onboard to experience the live atmosphere.

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As I had mentioned before, I used to be a part of SFOGS.com (Singapore’s First Online Ghost Stories) and it’s been quite awhile since I’ve gone on adventure trips to experience being in the same environment as the supernatural. This “Misteri Jam 12” experience on the ship would have more or less rekindled the days of yore, even if it’s just relating ghostly experiences onboard. Well it was an open secret as I had cajoled the wife to come along and take a break from her gruelling work schedule. The moment they added meeting artistes under the Suria Records (SRC) and Siti Nurhaliza Productions (SNP) umbrellas in the activity list when we reached Port Klang, that clinched it for me.

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The helipad on Deck 13…

You might be wondering why I was so interested with the latter event when my interest has always been just Datin Sri (forgive me for using this term cos I think it’s even higher than just a Dato’ since her hubby has been promoted to Dato’ Sri) and Liza Hanim when both used to be under SRC. Prior to my marriage in 2005, I’ve actively helped out at events involving SRC artistes and made friends with some of them and the people working behind the scenes as well. Knowing full well that the very same people working behind the scenes would definitely be at the event, it was like killing a few birds with one stone. I don’t go up to Kuala Lumpur that often and even if I do, my schedule is so tight that I do not have the time to catch up with the friends I’ve made over the years.

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The basketball court reminds me of the steel cage used in wrestling…

This was the perfect opportunity to meet some of my old friends again, especially Saerah (Datin Sri‘s younger sister) and her cousin Aju, whom I was tasked to help chaperone around town when they were here for Malam Amal Suria in 2002. Saerah, for those of you who do not know, is now an up and coming artiste who would be releasing her debut album next year. The last Aida and I met them was back in November 2004 when they were here for a short performance at IMM, in conjunction with Manja magazine’s event, a promotional show to find new faces to grace our local entertainment industry, if my memory serves me well. They had wanted to come to our wedding but could not make it due to other prior commitments. So yes, four years is a long time and our only modes of communication so far has been through the occasional sms and Friendster, which personally I feel is quite passe with the increasing addictive level associated with Facebook.

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We would have loved to let Syahindah enjoy the facilities meant for kids here…

Still the challenge of getting the wife to take a break proved to be quite a daunting one. Her punishing work schedule requires her to return home close to or around midnight, jumping from project to project, having to meet datelines and answer every whims by her company’s clients. It was only after I had personally talk to her manager when I sent her home, after I had picked both of them up from the office, that she said it was ok for the wife to have a short break and re-energise, even though they are currently in the midst of a project. I thought the wife deserved it as she has been with the manager and the latter should know how committed and dedicated the former is at work, staying late at the expense of quality time with family.

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A giant chess set… Wished the wife could play the game as well…

And so we only confirmed our trip about ten days before we were due to depart. The original plan was to bring Syahindah along and not bring Syadiyah, bearing in mind we were to have “Misteri Jam 12” onboard and it would not be suitable for her. In fact, we were also in two minds whether to bring Syahindah along since she is afraid whenever she listens to the “Misteri Jam 12” trailers, saying “Akut dobash…” (that’s “Takut Dua Belas” in infant speak) and running out of the room. But we still decided to go along with it since it would be nice to celebrate her recent birthday together onboard.

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The arcade was closed when we came in to see…

Since we were late confirmers and the cheaper rates have all been taken up, we got ourselves the most expensive deck on the 10th floor. But I was quite appalled to know on the day of registering for the trip that Syahindah who would have already turned two by the time we depart, had to pay the same rates as an adult. If you think this was an idiotic policy on the part of E-Ventions International & Travel, the co-organisers of this trip, to squeeze every dollar from us, it was not. It was apparently the part of Star Cruises Pte Ltd, the main body in charge of the Superstar Virgo which we were supposed to board. The question that played in my head was “How much can my daughter do and eat onboard???“, even when we paid so much for someone as young as her.

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The deck gallery at Deck 7…

Another thing that I was quite pissed off about was when I received the programme schedule. It stated that we were supposed to go on a three days two nights trip. But the schedule showed that we were to report at HarbourFront at 7:30pm and the cruise ship would only depart at midnight. What three days was this??? It felt more like a two days two nights affair!!! I felt extremely shortchanged by Star Cruises‘ policies. This is daylight robbery to the core and they really should do something about it and increase the age limit of infants to at least 7 years or 12 for that matter and state clearly their schedule. I had that sinking feeling so to speak after I made my payment. I was angry at Star Cruises and not at E-Ventions nor the people at RIA 89.7FM as I believe the latter two had no choice themselves but to comply with the former.

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The corridor leading to our room…

But miracle of miracles came along later on on the same day, when my mum called me up and said that my family were planning for a trip themselves to Kuala Lumpur on 4th December 2008 and it would be nice to bring along Syahindah to keep both my sisters and the maid company. After a short discussion with wifey, we decided the best was to let Syahindah follow my family and get our money’s worth back. We’re not gonna let Star Cruises have their way. So that’s a crotch chop aimed at them. If you dunno what a crotch chop is, go to YouTube and search for “D-Generation X“. You’ll find your answer there.

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Our room had no windows and we had to sleep separately…

If not for the fact that this was our virgin trip onboard a cruise ship, I wouldn’t have gone at all. Life is all about experiences and we had for some time wanted to try this out and such an opportunity should not be passed on, especially when you know you’re gonna have lots of fun and activities. Which was why we still went ahead even though we already felt the bitter taste in our mouths even before we embarked.

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Our room number…

3rd December 2008

And so it ended up like a third honeymoon for us (the first was our Umrah in 2006, the second being Aida‘s cousin, Malaysian actress Nadia Mustafar‘s wedding in 2007). I thought my anger with Star Cruises would subside by the time we embarked on our trip but a call made at 3pm by one of the E-Ventions‘ staff only served to increase it. She said the ship had not returned and there would be a delay. Instead of 7:30pm, the meeting time then was set at 9pm. There was a good omen about that in that we did not have to rush through Maghrib but the bad point was it only made us felt shortchanged by the timing stated on our schedule.

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All set for the trip…

We left home at 8:15pm and took the train down to HarbourFront. It helps that staying across the road from Sengkang MRT Station means we save on exorbitant taxi fares, just to cater to our luggage bag. We reached HarbourFront at about 9pm and whilst I dashed upstairs to the ATM machine to withdraw cash, Aida waited just outside the Cheers convenience store. When I returned, she was being kept company by cousin Ezaad (he of the recent Kallang Roar The Movie fame) and wife Julie who had come to see us off. It was their 3rd year wedding anniversary that day so they were out on a date sans their son, Eshaan. When we reached just outside the Arrival area of the HarbourFront Cruise Centre and after taking photographs, we said our goodbyes and made our way to the reporting area, which used to be the small area outside the old Delifrance restaurant, if the memory of the place is still fresh in my head. The place has been somewhat converted into a holding area of sorts.

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They sent us off whilst dating and celebrating their 3rd year wedding anniversary…

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Good to go…

Once inside the holding area and after taking the E-Ventions’ stickers to indicate that we’re part of the travelling group over the apparent three days, we stood at the back to listen to the briefing given by Syah Ibrahim, former RIA and Warna deejay and now the big boss of E-Ventions International & Travel Pte Ltd. Listening to him speak and pulling the legs of some of the fellow participants was a throwback to the heydays when his voice simply pulled in the ratings for whichever station he was at. Once he was done, he handed the microphone over to the RIA deejays to do their own welcoming speeches and what to expect during the trip. There was such a huge number of people at the holding area, I reckoned there were more than two hundred people on the trip. Confirmations later on indicated the total strength was three hundred and thirty pax!!! This was definitely more than I had imagined.

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The briefing by Syah Ibrahim

Halfway through the rundown of events to be held on the ship, Syah interrupted the briefing and informed us to be patient as there was quite a chaotic scene on the second floor where the departure gallery was. Apparently there were many unhappy people upstairs who had been waiting as early as 5pm and couldn’t wait onboard to gamble at the casinos. No wonder they say “Money is the root of evil“. We were fortunate in that whilst waiting for our cue to go upstairs, we were entertained by KC and Brader Bo as they bantered and made a lot of funny jokes to make us forget about the waiting. In the process, we also learnt a bit more about both deejays which we probably have not heard of. While I will not specifically say what is its significance, now whenever I see a bird, I will forever be reminded of Brader Bo.

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They saved the day with their stand-up comics…

At about 11:15pm we were told to go upstairs via a special route which they had opened up for us. Even though it was still a sizeable queue, we went in without any glitches. It was during the briefing earlier and at the queue that I realised that within our travelling group, there were familiar faces like our secondary school mate’s parents and younger brother, my junior in polytechnic, Erliana and her husband Kamal, who just got married the weekend before last which we attended and a fellow listener, Kak Yati, whom I’ve not met for quite some time. At certain points along the way, we were greeted by the Star Cruises‘ mascots and they had appointed photographers to take a photograph of us with the mascots. Once inside the ship, even though we were supposed to have a very late dinner at the Bella Vista restaurant on the 6th floor, we instead made our way to our rooms to put our luggage inside. Once that was done, we went up to the said restaurant for dinner.

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Moving towards the ship…

I was extremely famished as I had gone to the gym earlier in the day, my last meal being about two plus in the afternoon and the dinner was served at midnight. But I did not eat more than I should, bearing in mind I’ve always loved breakfast whenever I go on overseas holidays. When dinner was done, both me and Aida took the time to walk around the ship and explore the facilities. I had actually planned to sing my lungs out at the karaoke rooms but somehow I wasn’t convinced they had enough Malay songs for my liking when I saw the interior settings of the rooms. When we reached the open deck on the 13th floor, there was already a crowd upstairs enjoying the view from the top of the ship and I must say it was a breathtaking view of Singapore‘s south coast.

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That’s the HarbourFront on the right of the photograph…

We turned in for the night at around 2am but I still woke up at 4am to catch the live telecast of the English Carling Cup quarter-finals match between Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers. I drifted in and out of sleep whilst watching the game due to my tiredness but when the game was over and I had said my dawn prayers, I suddenly became fresh and looking forward to breakfast even though I tried to force myself to go back to sleep for at least an hour as we had a long day ahead.

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The score says it all…

4th December 2008

Breakfast was held at the Mediterranean Buffet & Terrace situated on Deck 12 of the ship. We were one of the early birds and was quite impressed with the spread on offer, even though my personal favourite, scrambled eggs, was not available. One interesting aspect about this cafe is that they have a Kids’ Section, whereby the tables and chairs are much smaller in size as compared to the ones meant for adults. Whilst queueing up for food, the deejays came in to have their breakfast as well. The female deejays were conspicuously wearing shades, perhaps indicating the lack of sleep due to the last minute rehearsals they might have done the night before, for the “RIA Anniversary Show“, which was slated at 9am.

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The kids’ section at the Mediterranean… Note the sizes of the tables and chairs…

Once breakfast was done, Aida and I set off to the open deck at Deck 13 for some project that I had planned the night before when we walked around the ship. A good thing that no one was around at that time lest I would have been extremely embarrassed at the unnecessary attention I would have attracted. Cos I had brought a few clothes to change into so as to make my project looked a bit realistic. I’m sure you guys would like to know what project I had in store and was about to experiment on. Well, wait no more and look at the next photograph.

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Once that project was done and dusted, we went over to the 7th floor where The Lido was. The Lido is not the cinema that we all know so well but a big auditorium that could fill about a thousand pax. The interior was quite lush and reminded me of a grand theatre like the Esplanade‘s Concert Hall that I recently went to, to watch “An Evening With Anuar Zain“. It was also the venue where cabaret style entertainment and topless shows were being held at night. And why were we there so early in the morning??? Well, it was our first activity of the day, watching the “RIA Anniversary Show“, performed by the deejays for the listeners. Even Syah Ibrahim joined in the fun.

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It was a 2-hour show packed with fun and entertainment, with the deejays taking turns to perform songs from the 90s down to current hits and playing games with the audience. Ok granted that the singing at times could be improved on, but credit has to be given to them for making the effort to prepare something for the listeners to enjoy. The games that were played on stage were unforgettable. We had “Pump-the-balloons-with-your-bums“, “Impersonating Your Favourite Deejay” and “Musical Chairs” which were riots. I especially liked the first one as all the five participants had to don on several masks (Osama Bin Laden, George Bush, Scream, Charlie Chaplin and the common Chingay mask) for added humour. I think the whole audience enjoyed themselves judging by the howls and roars of laughter.

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But that was not all. Towards the end of the show, forty-one names were called up to the stage, me included. When I was making my way up the stage I had an idea why we were called up, that is, possibly those who celebrate their birthdays in December. However I became sceptical when I saw so many on stage that I wondered if that many people really celebrate their birthdays in December. And I was proven right when the deejays wheeled out a large birthday cake for everyone to join in with the singing of the birthday song, led by none other than Ms Birthday Radi-O herself, Fiza O. The show ended with the deejays singing Matta Band‘s “Ketahuan“. I just wondered why they sang so many Indonesian songs.

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The December babies…

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Digging the nose of Osama a.k.a. KC… Wonder what his left hand is pointing at…

Once the event was over, we went back to the Mediterranean Buffet & Terrace for lunch and after that, walked around The Gallery area situated on the 8th floor to look at the photographs we had taken with the mascots prior to boarding the ship the previous night. We were quite appalled at the charges they offered. A 5R photograph cost about SGD$10.00, a photo magnet SGD$10.50 and a key chain went at SGD$10.30. Quite a cunning way to make money, we’re being suckered into adding to Star Cruises‘ coffers. We pondered and weighed the options on which ones to take back for memories’ sake but we could not come to a decision yet, so we went back to our rooms to observe our responsibilities and take a short nap before getting off the ship when it reached Port Klang in Selangor Darul Ehsan.

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The view at Port Klang

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Before disembarking the ship, we had to return to The Lido again where we were divided into six groups. Not all the participants were interested on the land tour that was planned, so there was a reduced number of people at the auditorium. Each group was led by a deejay, some had two in their group. Somehow my gut feeling was our group would be led by KC and I was proven right when we assembled together. The good thing about my group was, the people I knew before this were in the same group, so it was nice to be amongst familiar faces. We were due to board coach number 4 and I remembered exchanging some banter with KC with regards to my nick, which “Cik Mung“, the chipmunk character in his weekly show, had changed to something vulgar and unprintable in this family-oriented blog.

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The coach number 4 gang, led by KC

I had actually planned to sleep during the journey to Taman Connought in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur where we were headed for. But with KC onboard, that was definitely impossible as we exchanged ghost stories and he shared some of the stories that he had aired before for the benefit of those in the group who had missed out. Not only that, he took the time to interview a few of us, me included, just to get some feedback and thoughts on the trip that could be included in his “Galaxy” programme to be aired this coming Saturday at 11am. I also took the time to sit next to him and get some mp3 files from his handphone, the trailers associated to his “Misteri Jam 12” programme.

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Entertaining us with his stories…

In between the bluetoothing of mp3 files, we shared our experiences on artistes we had met before, especially the hypocrisy that a small minority of them portray away from the public eye and how the “Puasa Yok Yok” song, which he sang with “Cik Mung” during the past Ramadhan, came about. It was a sly dig at a local artiste who was seen not fasting in public. Who that person’s identity is will remain with me. All I hope for is that artiste would realise his / her folly and wisen up. You’re in the public’s radar 24/7 and you’re only jeopardising your career by doing something dumb like that.

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The owner herself, Kak Rozie

We reached Restoran Resepi Sang Dewi, situated at Taman Connought, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur around 5pm. This humble restaurant is owned by Kak Rozie, Datin Sri Siti Nurhaliza‘s sister-in-law. The first person I met when I was walking towards the restaurant was Abang Bard. Abang Bard is the Head Public Relations Officer with Suria Records (SRC) and I have known him for almost a decade now from my experiences helping out at SRC events. We exchanged hugs and pleasantries before asking how each other were doing in life. He has two kids now, same as us. It was just extreme pleasure meeting him once again since the last I met him was at the last Anugerah Planet Muzik in Kuala Lumpur. He has a gentle personality and one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known.

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Me with Abang Bard

When we reached the restaurant, we were greeted by the artistes who were slated to make an appearance like Saerah, Saida, Indah Ruhaila, Sofaz, Coda and Tomok of New Boyz fame. It was like an open house where the artistes played the hosts. The first person we met was of course Saerah and it was great to meet her again and seeing how slim she was as compared to four years ago when we last met her. Her secret was of course to lay off eating rice. I think I should continue doing that cos the last time I did it for about a month, I think I lost about 3kg, and that too was laying it off during dinnertime. If I were to lay it off totally, who knows, I might lose about 5-6kg.

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Saerah with Aida

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Aida with Aju

Another person that we longed to meet, Aju, who is Saerah‘s cousin, was nearby grinning away when she saw us. Again when we met, pleasantries were exchanged and we wondered how long it took us all to meet again. It was just the reunion that we had envisaged all along and we were happy to meet the people we had wanted to meet, not forgetting Kak Sabariah, an old friend of ours who had made her way up to Kuala Lumpur earlier in the day to liaise between the Malaysian and Singapore sides as well. Kak Sabariah is the Singapore representative of Suria Records and she’s also in charge of looking after our local group Revalina.

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Saerah, Indah Ruhaila & Saida…

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Tomok being interviewed by Fiza O. Apparently the group have rebranded themselves and is now known as just “N.B.” Reminds me of a famous Hokkien expletive… 😛

Kak Rozie, the owner of the restaurant took the time to mingle with everyone and thanking us all for coming over to her humble restaurant and I must say the food served was simply appetizing. A pity I was still full from lunch and dinner was just a few hours away, that a second helping was simply impossible for my stomach to take in. Kak Rozie still remembers yours truly, she still does, cos I used to be a familiar face at the airport to send her sister-in-law off in the past.

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Zimi & Are-meer of Sofaz

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Coda came without their drummer…

The event was also meant to promote and introduce the artistes to the listeners, save for Sofaz and Tomok, the rest are relatively new in the entertainment industry. We had a quiz session whereby after the introductions were made on each individual artiste, we had to answer some questions and win for ourselves some goodies courtesy of Siti Nurhaliza Productions (SNP). I answered one question with regards to Coda and got myself a goody bag containing “CTea“, the other famous product of SNP other than its owner’s award winning albums. We then had another birthday cake cutting session with the deejays and artistes before the artistes themselves took turns to perform their latest singles. It was quite a happening event so to speak.

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The birthday cake to RIA, courtesy of SRC

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We spent the remainder of the time chatting with Aju and Saerah, just catching up on life. Soon it was time to go and we said our goodbyes to the people we knew. Kak Rozie invited us over to the restaurant again whenever we are in the Kuala Lumpur vicinity and of course, God willing, we would like to return again someday. But first I have to learn how to negotiate my way there all over again cos Cheras is not like Kuala Lumpur City Centre itself, where it’s a big circle that would lead you back to where you originally start off no matter where you go.

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Before boarding the coach, some of us visited the A&W restaurant nearby for a quick fix of something that we had not had for a long time back here in Singapore, the Curly Fries and the Root Beer Float. Even the deejays joined in as well. Brader Bo and I took the time to reminisce the good old days of A&W in Singapore and how badly it turned out for the owners in the end, especially when all the other fast food outlets were reinventing themselves every few months. I’d like to say thank you once again to the newly married couple Kamal & Erliana for sparing us some loose change as there was no money changer outlet in the building.

On the way back to Port Klang, we had a change of deejays in the coach. KC was no longer with us. Instead, Syah Ibrahim and Aura Shai took over. Syah as always, was in his element, pulling the legs of the aunties and there was one particular aunty whose laughter was so infectious that the whole coach imitated her. That aunty was very adorable, a pity she suffered a fall at the ship and had to have one of her arms bandaged. When Shai took over the microphone, she promoted something which was music to my ears. You see, RIA 89.7FM is now on the hunt for a part-time deejay and they were on the lookout for possible candidates during the trip.

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Syah addressing us in the coach…

Since I was the most prominent participant in the coach, Shai asked if I was interested, I instinctively said “In the past…” Actually to tell you the truth, I am still interested in the job, it was my first love and dream to be a producer-presenter all those years ago and God knows how shattered I was when I did not get past the first round due to having a sore throat on the day of my auditions, the same one which saw Fiza O and Azmi Sempoi joining the station. But the position currently being offered is a part-time one, something that is not to my fancy due to work restrictions on moonlighting as well as the fact that part-time deejays normally have to work during Hari Raya. The full time deejays normally do not work on both Hari Rayas and I’m the kind who would prefer to spend those two special days with family, especially now that I have kids. Till now, I still lament to my wife how I wished the position being offered was a full time one. I would crawl to Caldecott Broadcast Centre just to land the job. But for now, I’m just happy being a listener.

Out of entertainment’s sake, Shai called me forward to showcase my talents. Before me there was another guy, Fathulah, who had showcased his. Fathulah is a familiar face, having had experiences as a host on one of those Screenbox productions, which I have forgotten. He had also attended the Radio Academy last year. Yours truly attended in 2000 but over the years I think quite a few things have changed with the advent of the sms system and a few other new technology integrated into the working environment of the station. When I made my way to the front of the coach, Shai gave me a warm introduction to the others.

She said that I’m quite the prominent blogger. Adding on, she said that my comments can be sharp, but they also make sense and jokingly she said, but sometimes can be nonsensical as well, which I agree judging by the wisecracks I sometimes send via the sms system. Shai threw me a challenge to speak about Anuar Zain, but I was more at ease talking about Datin Sri, so I did, for about a minute or so, the time slated for me to do it. I dunno if I did well or not cos there were some errrms and ahhhs coming out from my mouth, definitely not what they were looking for, but come to think about it, some deejays I know started off like that and had to write scripts when they first went on air. Some people have the flair for writing, but when it comes to giving a speech, there might be some problems. I need lots of speech training if I were ever to make it as a producer-presenter. That’s why I think I don’t quite fancy giving presentations.

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Stunning view…

We reached back the Superstar Virgo at about 7:30pm and after putting some of our stuff back, we headed for the Mediterranean again for dinner. There was a huge crowd but we managed to find a place for ourselves. I pressured Aida into having her dinner quickly as I was very sleepy and cannot afford to enjoy “Misteri Jam 12” later on at midnight with droopy eyes due to a lack of sleep. The moment we reached back to our room at 9pm, I was off to slumberland within fifteen minutes. I set the time to wake up at 11:10pm but when I woke up at the slated time, I went back to sleep again only to wake up twenty minutes later. Even then, my eyes just refused to open and the body was calling out for me to just sleep on. After a good shower, I was fresh enough to go through the night even if the eyes were feeling itchy and the sleepiness still had not gone away.

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The event that everyone had been waiting for was held at The Taverna, an open deck cafe situated at Deck 13. Supper was being served and it kinda woke me up from the groggy feeling I was experiencing. I ate the samosas to kill time and it was a drag waiting for the event to start, as technical glitches prevented the deejays from starting it as planned. In the end, what was planned to start at midnight, ended up starting at 1am. The deejays had disappeared prior to making a grand entrance wearing scary masks and they were joined by Kamal and Erliana who were dressed up as the extra “beings”. Instead of feeling scared, we were left laughing at the sight. Perhaps it was a way to diffuse the tension being felt as they had warned us beforehand that what we were about to experience would not be felt when we listen to the programme on a nightly basis.

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The deejays making their grand entrance…

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One for the cameras, can you guess who they are???

And how true it was!!! Brader Bo and RZ shared their personal experiences which for exclusivity sake I would not relate here. About two or three participants also came forward to share their personal experiences. I had actually planned to relate what my friends at SFOGS.com had experienced when they ventured the old Bidadari Christian cemetery in 2001, but I thought it was best that the rest relate their personal experiences first and for the audio clip that they had planned to air to take precedence. When no one else came forward, they aired the clip, which was a live recording of a lady being possessed by a being that was sent by her neighbour who was smittened with her and wanted to separate her from her husband.

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The audio clip was as real as one could get. We heard different voices coming from the lady who was possessed and everyone looked tensed listening to them. Some of the ladies in the audience and even the female deejays were seen covering their ears. My heart was pounding hard just listening to it and when it was all over, the programme ended as the general feeling was the rest were already too scared to continue listening further. Besides, we still had breakfast, a futsal and karaoke session planned in the morning, maybe that was why the show had to end off early.

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The newly married couple all glammed up as the extra “beings”…

Somehow I felt it was an anti-climatic ending and too short since it started late and ended at about 1:50am. I had been looking forward to KC sharing his experiences at the conty since I always hear a ghostly shriek every fortnight or so whenever he ends his programme. He had planned to share with the audience but I think he had forgotten about it accidentally and there went my chance to share my experiences with the audience as I had procrastinated all night long when to go forward to share. To tell you the truth, why I procrastinated was because, being the most prominent listener on the trip, I did not want to make it look as though I was crazy for the microphone and glamour time. Oh well, maybe I could relate it the next time I go on air during “Misteri Jam 12“.

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Yours truly getting in on the act…

We did not go back to our room straightaway. We walked around the ship and went back to The Gallery on the 8th floor to decide which photographs and mementos we would purchase the following day, along with Kamal and Erliana. It was only at 3am that we managed to call it a day, even then it took us about twenty minutes or so to sleep. Believe it or not, we spent those minutes watching Hannah Montana on television as it was the only interesting to watch at that time.

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The ship leaving a trail in its wake…

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The beautiful sunrise…

5th December 2008

I woke up at 6:30am with a massive headache and a stiff neck as I had woke up on the wrong side of bed. Fortunately I brought my painkillers with me, and I popped them just before we left the room for breakfast at about 7:30am. Funnily enough, the Mediterranean and Bella Vista restaurants that we were allowed to go only opened at 8am. So we spent the time walking round the ship and taking some last-minute photos of ourselves. I was not keen to have breakfast as the futsal session was due at 9am. I simply abhor eating less than two hours before I’m due for a workout. But I had to have something and the scrambled eggs were appetizers for me over at the Mediterranean. I did not eat as much as I would have loved to but at least I was satisfied I’ve had my fill. We then returned to our room to change into my gear.

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Killing some time whilst waiting to have breakfast…

When we reached the basketball court on Deck 13, RZ & Hassan Salleh, RIA‘s programme director, were already waiting for people to arrive and join in. The court was covered with nettings, resembling a cage. Soon we had enough to create two teams of three each. Naturally my team was made up of the Manchester United fans in RZ and Hanafiah, the winner of the “Impersonate Your Favourite Deejay” the previous day. Our team prevailed throughout and we only left the court because more people had come to join in and let them have the opportunity to play. We were unbeaten so to speak as we had the perfect combination of skills (Hanafiah), guile (RZ) and steel (me). My job was to destroy the opponents’ attacks and distribute to the other two to finish off the job and we did it with such finesse that the rest had no answer facing up to us, and I’m not blowing my own trumpet. It was a fact witnessed by many.

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We had a juggling session before we started the game proper…

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The session was also filled with fun and laughter as we poked fun at each other’s antics on the court. Later on, Brader Bo came to join us and he played in my team as we moved around, changing teams. The laughter reached its peak when Brader Bo accidentally kicked the ball and it went through a hole by the side of the nettings, resulting it to fly off the ship and into the waters. Everyone stopped to look out by the side and RZ lamented at how his son’s football was gone. It was an ammunition to use against him as the ball had the Manchester United crest on it and he being a staunch United fan had his nose rubbed by Hassan, an Arsenal fan. I’m sure this would be one of the highlights of this trip and one we would remember in time to come.

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Discussing tactics with RZ

We ended our session at about 10:30am and made our way to the “Galaxy of the Stars“, a pub where the karaoke session was being held. Yours truly was having a hard time picking a suitable song to sing when KC came along and chose the song for me, an extremely challenging one for the vocal chords, especially when I was already tired from the futsal session. He picked Glenn Fredly‘s “Januari” and I told him he had better sing it with me as I could not sing it by myself. And so he did, which was a great help and it was an honour to sing a duet with him cos I feel that he has a good voice himself. Naturally my voice cracked during the first chorus due to my tiredness, but it actually went well then after. I thought of singing another duet with him, 2D‘s “Kerna Delylah“, but time was not on my side.

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The audience…

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Fiza O smiles for the camera, while Syah does his best Mas Idayu impression…

After singing, Aida said that she was unable to record a video recording of my performance from my camera phone. Upon checking, I realised that all the video clips that I had recorded throughout the trip were all gone, which was a complete waste as I had taken clips of Saerah and Indah Ruhaila singing the previous day, amongst others. I think something must be wrong with the memory card and to think I had bought it just a few days before the trip!!! It was simply a complete waste. If any of you out there who had gone on the trip and had recorded my duet with KC, please get in touch with me as I so would like to look at it again. Many thanks in advance!!!

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The karaoke session ended around 11:15am and there was still a matter of settling the outstanding bills before we could get our passports back. There was a long queue at The Lido, where Singaporeans were supposed to collect their passports. One of our fellow participants had complained that he had been waiting close to an hour. Upon hearing that, I decided to do it later and returned to our room to pack our luggage bag, but not before we went back to The Gallery to purchase our photographs and mementos, as well as a quick visit to the Duty Free shop to buy souvenirs for family members and colleagues.

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Outside the duty free shop…

The wife had wanted to have lunch first before doing the rest but I told her I was still full and that I hate to eat when there were still outstanding stuff to be done. At least when the bags have been packed, we could eat at ease. And so we only went out to have lunch at about 1pm. By then we could see that Singapore was just a distance away, the south coast and the all too familiar buildings in the Central Business District greeting us literally so to speak. It was nice to have lunch facing Sentosa Island and we could see how beautiful the island is, even if a large part of the island facing HarbourFront is under construction for the upcoming integrated resort.

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Singapore beckoning in the background… Spot the buildings in the Central Business District

Once we’ve had our fill, we went down to the 7th floor again where the main lobby was to settle the outstanding bills and collected our passports. It was quite a chaotic scene with so many people doing last minute settling of bills. I reckoned we waited about half an hour before we got our turn. At 2:05pm, we returned back to the room to collect our luggage and went back to the “Galaxy of the Stars” where we were supposed to converge one last time and disembark from the ship from then on. Due to the massive jam at the Immigrations‘ side, we purposedly stayed back awhile longer to take last minute photos and I didn’t wait to take another set of clone photos, much to KC‘s amusement as he was seated nearby and watching my antics.

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We were the last to leave along with the deejays since we had informed cousin Ezaad that we’ll only appear at the Arrival Hall around 3:15pm. Whilst taking the slow walk and queueing up, RZ stood behind us and gathered some feedback from us with regards to the trip. He acknowledged that certain things could have been better, especially the “Misteri Jam 12” programme, but from my observations and coinciding with his, certain things were out of their hands and solely lie at the fault of Star Cruises who had initially said certain things could be done but they could not live up to it came the day. The dimming of lights during the “Misteri Jam 12” programme for instance was unable to be done because the lights were controlled by the captain’s control room and not by the open deck cafe where the event was held. Once customs were cleared, we all said our goodbyes and thanks for the support and memories.

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Fort Siloso greeted our return…

Personally I felt that without the activities planned for us, the trip would have been a bit of a bore cos basically the facilities are normally what you would find at plush resorts and hotels, just that the difference is that this is onboard a cruise ship. Granted I did not get to use the gym facilities, plunged into the pool, nor immersed myself in the jacuzzi as time was so limited and we had so many things to do at such a short space of time. Coupled with the fact that we were shortchanged by Star Cruises, I think they need to change the policy and make it an afternoon embarkation next time so we would get our money’s worth, not to mention time as well. Oh and not forgetting the price for children should be lessened and not made to be paid the same price as adults if they have reached two years of age.

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HarbourFront beckons…

As for the treatment given by E-Ventions International & Travel, I must say it was first class treatment by Syah Ibrahim and his team of staff. They were always willing to lend a helping hand and listen to our whims and nuances. I would not hesitate to recommend you people out there to choose them as your travel agents or follow them on their future overseas trips. They really look after you and Syah as a guide is the best there is. He makes you feel extremely at home and at ease. Even if they might have jacked up the price of the trip in the process, and this is just a hypothetical wonder being posed, I would not mind paying slightly more for that service with a smile.

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Finally I would like to thank RIA 89.7FM for organising such a trip for the listeners. Maybe they could organise this another time but definitely not onboard a cruise ship as it’s quite expensive, I think even a short retreat at any of our local resorts would have been fun. I would also like to thank wifey for this trip as it is an advanced birthday gift from her to me and not forgetting, my cousin Ezaad and wife Julie for sending us off and fetching us home on the day we returned. Here’s wishing one and all Selamat Hari Raya Aidiladha. May this blessed day bring more blessings and sustenance into your lives and I hope you have enjoyed reading this record-breaking entry in Da’ KRUsader Manor‘s history…

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One last shot…