Saturday, December 31, 2011

Kena Put Airplane By The Minister

Not once, but we kena put airplane twice in one night hahaha!

So, the story goes like this. A group of Malaysian students in Tokyo were invited to attend a majlis ramah mesra, which in simple words, dinner with one of the Cabinet minister on Christmas Eve recently. However, there were no roast turkey or gingerbread on the night, because our dinner was authentic Malaysian food at Rasa Malaysia Cuisine Ginza in the middle of the shopping paradise in Ginza, Tokyo. I call this place the Japanese mamak because this is one of the few places where teh tarik can be found. Unfortunately, no roti canai or tosai though.

DSC_0138-1

The main table, where the minister was supposed to sit.

DSC_0135-1

Another corner of students on the main table. Cliff, why you always wear red whenever you go for a dinner with ministers haha!

DSC_0133-1

Here is where the rest of the students seated, together with some officers and staffs from the Embassy of Malaysia in Tokyo.

We were told to be at the restaurant by seven in the evening, but based on my past experiences, the "Malaysian time" mentality will always be the essence in any Malaysian event, even though we are living in oversea. Everyone will never be on time in most of the time. So, Kai Cung and I considered to wander around a few more shops at Ginza, although it was already almost seven. However, my instinct somehow told me to head straight to the restaurant, and I was glad I followed my instinct.

It was kind like a grand entrance by the two of us; we were almost like the minister, as everyone was already there when we entered the restaurant haha! I was kinda cuak already as I thought the minister was already there. Good thing that I later realised that only the students had arrived and we were still waiting for the VIP and his delegates. As we waited for them to arrived, we chit chatted and continued to wait.

And wait... and more waiting...

DSC_0116-1

Teh tarik on a cold winter night. Perfect way to start our dinner.

DSC_0118-1

Kajang satay with peanut sauce and cucumber. Onion is missing though.

DSC_0119-1

Alor Setar Tom Yam Kung. Correct me if I am wrong, but since when Alor Setar is famous for its tom yam kung?

One hour elapsed and finally the news came in that the minister was unable to make it to the dinner. So, he sent his representative to accompany and ramah mesra with us haha! By the way, the minister whom we were supposed to have dinner with was YB Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaacob, the Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism minister. Being a minster is not an easy task, as they have lots of commitments to attend to. That was what we thought, and we were told to carry on with the dinner, without the minister.

Nevertheless, it was a fun and entertaining session to share stories and experiences, especially with Mr Wan Yusri and Mr Syed Farizal Aminy, the First Secretary of the Embassy of Malaysia in Tokyo. Despite being among the people holding the highest posts in the embassy, they can really tell good stories and jokes, especially that "awak dok mana?" question.

The next time anyone asks you that question, just say "saya dok atas kerusi" haha wtf!

DSC_0120-1

Fish curry head with brinjals and ladies fingers.

DSC_0121-1

Sweet and sour chicken with capsicums.

DSC_0123-1

Sweet and sour soft crab. This was good and everyone loved it very much.

DSC_0126-1

Fried chicken. Looks kinda plain and sad, and I would say I prefer Japanese version of kara-age better.

DSC_0127-1

Stir fry mixed vegetable with scallops. Kinda like Chinese style dish, which reminds of me CNY reunion dinner.

DSC_0131-1

Longan juice. Don't know how many thousand years never tasted longan already haha!

As our dinner was heading towards the end, another news came in and there was another twist. Sounds like a reality game show pulak haha! Apparently, the minister wanted to see us in a short informal meeting at the hotel, as he couldn't join us at the dinner. Probably he felt bersalah for putting us airplane at the dinner lol! So, we were told to take a short walk from the restaurant to Imperial Hotel Tokyo to meet the minister.

Imperial Hotel; sounds quite grand, right? Apparently, this hotel is commonly used whenever a minister makes a visit to Tokyo, most probably because of its strategic location in the middle of Tokyo. Most of us spent our time taking photos at the hotel lobby, which was beautifully decorated to portray the Christmas atmosphere once we reached there, as the minister had yet to return to the hotel. 

DSC_0159-1

Beautiful Xmas decoration at the hotel.

DSC_0152-1

From left: Mr Muhammad Annizam Mohtar, the Second Secratary of the Human Resource Department of the Embassy of Malaysia in Tokyo (KBM), a representative 
from the ministry, Mr Wan Aznainizam Yusri Wan Abdul Rashid, the Head of Chancery of KBM, Mr Solehhuddin Ahmad, Deputy Director of Tourism Malaysia Tokyo.

DSC_0164-1

From left: Cliff, TJ, and Zack, who appears to be almost as tall as me haha wtf!

DSC_0165-1

From left: TJ, Kai Cung and Zack. Zack is his glamour name. Nama sebenar is Muhammad Iskandar haha! 

After waiting for almost an hour, a second news came in. The minister appeared to be stuck in a traffic jam on his way back, and it would take some time until he reached the hotel. So, we were kinda "advised" to call it a day and meet the minister in other events in the future. We were slightly disappointed by the outcome, but well, we had great food and no complains from nobody I guess? So, that was the story about us being put airplane by the minister twice in a night haha! The end.

 P/S: "Put airplane" is a direct translation of the Mandarin term "放飞机" (fang fei ji), which literally means cancelling an appointment or promise at the very last minute.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Malaysian Night 2011

P1270209-1

The stylish poster of Malaysian Night 2011.

The Malaysian Students' Association in Japan (MSAJ) had one of its biggest event of the year - "Malaysian Night 2011" recently at Komaba International House in Tokyo. This event has become an annual year-ending event in MSAJ calendar for the past several years; however this is only my first time attending it and at the same time, being involved as one of the organizing committee members.

Organizing an event which involves hundreds of guests is never a simple task. Those of you who are fortunate enough to have involved in similar events will truly understand what I'm saying here. No matter how well the preparation is, there is always a slight uncertainty and worries that something might go wrong on the big day itself. The only thing you can hope for, is that the problems are minimal.

P1260793-1

Our two energetic MC for the evening, Kak Fiza and Kak Amy, who spoke in Japanese and English respectively.

P1260809-1

Puan Siti Zaharah Omar, the Counselor from the Education and Training of the Human Resource Department of the Embassy of Malaysia in Japan, 
officiated the night with a symbolic ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Malaysian Night is a unique event, as everyone including the non-Malaysian guests get to enjoy the colourful and rich culture of Malaysia. At the same time, it is a good opportunity to introduce our beautiful country to the non-Malaysian friends, and also to tighten the relationship among everyone. This event, held in collaboration with the Embassy of Malaysia in Japan, was fortunate to receive generous sponsorships from Air Asia X, Rasa Malaysia Cuisine Ginza and Tourism Malaysia for the first time ever.

The event kicked of with a couple of Malaysian traditional dances.

P1260835-1

Tarian canggung, which originated from Perlis, was led and choreographed by Ely Amylin from Tokai University.

P1260873-1

A Chinese traditional dance called the "Flag Dance" led by Tun Jie from Tokyo National College of Technology and choreographed by Amy Poh from Meiji University.

The performance of the night in my personal opinion, is undoubtedly the musical drama entitled "Hang Li Po Musical". This performance, which was led by Ely Amylin, tells the story about Hang Li Po, the daughter of then seventh Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Ming Jing Zong (1450-1465 A.D.), who was married of to the sixth Sultan of Malacca, Sultan Mansur Shah (1456-1477 A.D.). This is a diplomatic act to bridge a closer the relationship between China and Malacca, which also formed the "Peranakan", also known as the Baba and Nyonya.

Sultan Mansur Shah dispatched his trustee Tun Perpatih Putih to China, carrying a letter to the Chinese Emperor, in which it was mentioned that Hang Liu was sent to Malacca to be the bride of the Sultan. The envoy returned to Malacca with a group of 500 sons and ministers, and other female attendants, servants and troops, along with Princess Li Po in 1458.

P1260914-1

Puteri Hang Li Po, and her female attendant, making a grand entrance to the hall, greeted by a great applause from the guests.

P1260911-1

The princess looks anxious as she had just arrived at an unknown land.

P1260923-1

At the same time, the Sultan and his escorts graciously walked into the scene.

P1260926-1

The minister informing the Sultan about the news of the arrival of a princess from China.

After the marriage with the Sultan, the princess was awarded the title "Hang" and crowned as Puteri Hang Li Po and was made as the fifth wife of Sultan Mansur Shah. The Sultan then built a palace for Hang Li Po and her attendants were given a permanent home at Chinese Hill which serves as a cemetery for the local Chinese, which still exists until today.

That was the classic version of the famous tale during the Malacca Sultanate years, told from generation to generation. However, in the musical drama performed at the Malaysian Night 2011, the guests got a special treat as the story was revised slightly into a more modern version. Nevertheless, the general storyline of the story still remain the same - a Chinese princess who arrived in Malacca and discovered a land filled with wonders. The marriage between the princess with the Malacca Sultan is considered one of the first known inter-racial love stories in Malaysia.

P1260936-1

The princess and Sultan was finally united, as they sing along together.

P1260976-1

Miyadera-san and me managed to grab the princess to have a photo with her haha!

Almost the whole drama was done in English. However, what made this drama so interesting is that at some parts of the drama, there were Manglish and local jokes used, which indeed triggered laughter from the guests. It made the atmosphere nothing like being in Malaysia listening to the locals talking to each other with all those "-lah"and "-mah".

Another thing which deserves a mention is the choice of songs and music used throughout the drama, which just hit the right timing all the time. Guess what, even Disney songs, from Mulan and "Colours Of The Wind" from Pocahontas were played during the drama! Great stuff which I give double thumb-ups to the drama team, which had only three practice sessions prior to their performance.

P1260884-1

There were several sessions of lucky draw in between the performances, with prizes including JCB gift cards and Brastel cards.

P1270116-1

This ang moh guy was one of the lucky ones on that evening, who won a 2,000 yen food voucher from Rasa Malaysia Cuisine Ginza.

P1260897-1

A band was invited to perform in between the intervals, led by the vocalist, Zeerah.

P1260959-1

She performed several evergreen hits such as "Kau Ilhamku" by Man Bai and "Standing In The Eyes Of The World", a song made famous by Ella.

P1260991-1

The night continued with a traditional dance performance from Malaysian Cultural Troupe Mekar Budaya from Tourism Malaysia.

P1270013-1

Tarian piring, or the "dish dance". Not UFO dish though haha!

P1270058-1

 Guess what, all the three dancers are Japanese, who did a great job to enliven the night and also to highlight the culture of Malaysia to the public. 
This is Joget Pahang, a popular traditional folk song arranged by Tan Sri P. Ramlee.

P1270002-1

Arai-san performing a Malay traditional martial art called silat. I gotta say I am very impressed with his style and movements.

P1270079-1

They wrapped their performance with the famous folk song, Rasa Sayang, which the guests sang along too.

P1270086-1

Ming Han, the talented harmonica player from Penang, performed several songs, which were mostly taken from anime.

Another highlight of the evening has to be none other than makan time. The main meal in the menu was nasi minyak and ayam masak merah with acar, which was prepared by the staffs from the Embassy of Malaysia in Japan. Desert were two giant cakes and drinks. Long queue was formed in a matter of seconds, right immediately the dinner time was announced.

The food must be super good as almost nobody managed to go for second serving.

P1270091-1

One of the two super-huge cakes, which weighs approximately three kilogrammes each!

P1270105-1

Super long bee-line waiting patiently to get their dinner.

As the guests enjoyed the sumptuous meal, they got to enjoy an entertaining fashion show, which showcased the colourful and unique costumes of the different ethnic in Malaysia. Even though baju kurung and baju Melayu might look very common among us Malaysians, they are something very unique in the eyes of the non-Malaysians. However, this fashion show was not only about baju kurung and baju Melayu, as the models came in other different costumes as well.

Another attraction is one of the couples were Japanese, who wore the Malay traditional costumes.

P1270134-1

The couple who acted as the princess and Sultan during the musical drama.

P1270125-1

A very typical kampung-ish style.

P1270130-1

This is the Japanese couple, who got the loudest cheer of all.

P1270136-1

Indian traditional costumes - Punjabi suit and kurta.

P1270138-1

The group of models who performed at the fashion show, in their colourful outfits.

The finale to the lucky draw was indeed something that everyone in the hall anticipated for that evening. The grand prize was sponsored by Air Asia X - a return ticket from Tokyo to Kuala Lumpur for two. It doesn't get any better than that, does it?

How we managed to convince Air Asia X to provide us with such a great sponsorship was actually a coincidence. It started with a short conversation with its General Manager, Mr. Shigeki Tsubokawa in a function a couple of months earlier, and the ex-President of MSAJ, Ben Foo who was there as well, suggested an idea of requesting for sponsorship from Air Asia X for Malaysian Night 2011. At the end of the function, we approached Mr. Tsubokawa and they agreed to provide us with two return tickets as the grand prize for the lucky draw.

P1270148-1

A token of appreciation to the sponsor, Air Asia X Japan.

P1270161-1

How I wish my number strike one of this envelope haha!

P1270169-1

Mr. Tsubokawa drawing the first of the two lucky numbers.

P1270194-1

Part of the guests who attended Malaysian Night 2011, checking out their numbers anxiously, in great hope that their number will strike.

Guess what? I won one of the prizes in the lucky draw! But unfortunately, it was not the grand prize. So, no trip back to home sweet home. *Awww* to myself haha wtf! It seems that not everyone in the hall on that evening can fly after all lol!

To wrap up this entry, here are some of the group photos taken after the event ended.

P1270196-1

With Gladys from the Philippines and Vanna from Cambodia, at the photo booth. They are among the friends I got to know through 
ASEAN Youth Network in Japan (AYNJ).

P1270215-1

Batchmates and seniors from PPKTJ, a nostalgic place place where we started learning Japanese once upon a time ago.

P1270224-1

This one also consists of batchmates, seniors and juniors from PPKTJ, plus Amy who jumped into the photo at the very last minute haha!

P1270223-1

Part of the organising committee and performers of the night.

P1270198-1

Another shot with the performers, including the three dancers from Mekar Budaya.

P1270208-1

A group photo of the organizing committee and the performers of the night.

P1270230-1

Last shot, and I finally managed to have a photo with the princess for the second time hahaha wtf!

That yellow umbrella by the way, according to her, was the transparent type, bought from 100 yen shop lol!