Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Here and now: Samo's tale

At the book launch on Nov 27
"We've come a long way.."
I once wrote for an intro of a feature story: "Hope is a powerful thing. It mends broken dreams and delivers opportunity.." This was made in reference to a community project which I had concluded in the upper reaches of the Nenggiri River in Southern Kelantan.

Such is still a phrase that I put in practice.
I also believe that respect is earned rather than commanded.
And in the pursuit of personal development, I decided to seek employment at my present workplace because I knew I could do better.
At the old workplace, I endured oppression and bigotry.

"You can never put a good man down.."
I clearly remembered a time when I had a conversation with the Editor of The Malay Mail over an issue of 'insubordination' with a middle-management staff.

I was accused of 'vandalizing' the duty roster.
The term 'graffiti' was used over a doodle.
I wrote on the sheet of paper: "Why?"
For six months in a year, I was put on night and afternoon shift.
In the News Editor's defence, he said: "I thought you would prefer to work nights.."
So, I told the bossman: "I believe in what I do. If you take that away, all is lost.."
What I found sad was the fact that the Chinese had victimised their own. Greed is the factor that contributed to abuse and discrimination in the newsroom. Well, those guys are not around anymore. Some died, others had moved on to 'greener pastures'.
And the old Mongol saying goes: "I will never forget you.."
That said, I endured seven more years in the organisation before moving on.
Today, The Malay Mail is a pale shadow of its former self.
In the New Straits Times, where I spent the remainder years, life was becoming really miserable.
It was managed by Monkeys and Gorillas. So, having seen its impending doom, I moved on.

The defining moment..
People doubted my ability to write.
I overcame my fears, learned to read, listen and eventually made a living out of writing.
With such an advantage, I had never forsaken my photographic skills.
Despite hanging up my big camera for a pocket point and shoot machine, I kept on recording my forays.
One of the conditions of my employment at The Star was to write a food column.
First, it was meant as a fortnightly piece.
Then, the frequency was increased to weekly.
So far, I have never failed in delivering the pieces to the desk. Its way before deadline and I am able to give a series of stories and maintain a healthy stockpile.
I have to thank the late Mr M.A. Razman for training me as a reporter.
Without his encouragement, I wouldn't have gone this far.
I July last year, I was given the task to compile the materials from my column into a book.
It took me three days to do so, and nearly a year to realize the project.

Signing an autograph for the Tourism Minister during the launch
Despite the shortcomings, I endured.
Rather than having a team to put together the book, I did it alone.
I had some help from Mr Tung Eng Hwa, the head of the editorial graphics department and a very talented artist.
And in the last three months, after being given the green light by the Ministry of Tourism, the book project went into full swing.

The communication barrier..
When the book was nearly completed, I had to deal with a few individuals.
They were old hands in the company.
One guy, an old-timer, had the experience with books. But he was the least helpful.
Then, there was a lady in the advertising department who is full of blame and loves to pass the buck.
Lucky for me, I used my experience. I told the printer that in order to get things done under a heap of bureaucracy, one has to give in.
That was me backing off and letting the old guy do his work.
And finally, the book was out on mid-November. I put to rest a year's worth of wait and a week's worth of work.
So, the end result? A book, fully paid by the Ministry of Tourism, officially launched by its Minister on November 27.

Paving the way for more things to come..
Well, that said, I gained plenty of knowledge and experience.
My next project would be in the pipeline.. I have some cycling to do and some bugs to shoot..
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