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Monday, 5 September 2011


I pray that this month of Syawal will be my last month with MGTF, as mentioned in my previous blog entry. So, I seek your 'doa' or prayers for a smooth transition into a new chapter of my life (and MGTF's life).

So transient life is, more like a beautiful cycle. Its like a generic theme - investing in something with so much love and passion, nurture it with great care, let it grow with the Will of Allah, enjoy its fruits, share it with the rest of the world, and then.....time to let it go to soar and fly on its own.  Moreover, love is not about 'ownership' or 'absolute control'. It is about 'submission' and 'being' (in love), which is beyond form after all. 

This may sound too simplistic, but sometimes, one can partly learn about an organization from the way the 'players' play as a team in a futsal game. Again, it is about 'submission' (to a game plan, and then to play/dance with the cosmic dance of the universe). In such a case, losing or winning is not an issue anymore. A team can still feel elevated because it any result was meant to 'be'. On the other hand, when each player is living in his/own quantum field (especially 'being' angry, envious, hateful, judgmental, selfish, egoistic, etc), not 'submitting' to the game plan or not dancing with the cosmic dance of the universe, then even winning will not bring any peace or real satisfaction.

Anyway, only Allah knows how much MGTF means to me (and how much I have invested in it mentally and emotionally for the past 6 years). But I have had similar experiences with several other 'places' (if not 'people') before, so I think I can manage.

As promised in the previous blog, this entry is dedicated to all the staff members of MGTF, some of whom have been working with me for the past 6 years. I do this partly as a way to share with everyone my 'secret vibes' that have been with me in running MGTF since 2005. 

They deserve more credits than what has been given to them (by USM and others). Most of the time, they have been sidelined by more pronounced, populist and immediate forms of institutional gratifications. I still feel that they have been a bit under-valued. Yes, I used the word 'feel', which can be a 'taboo' for a scientific-oriented, numbers-centered environment. Yet, I do in fact based the feelings on several facts. But then, dry facts and numbers have not been my priority (and perhaps MGTF as well). 

So here it is, my 'final review' (or revelation) of the special individuals that I have been working with in transforming MGTF into what it is today. I will be engaging with them in the future under my personal capacity as an academician or artist or simply as a friend, not a 'Director' anymore! Yippie!!!

Give our prayer and doa to them.

Zolkurnian will hopefully be our first in-house 'Dr.' We pray for a successful completion of his Phd. in Archaeology and History. He is our Senior Curator who has been very instrumental in keeping MGTF running. Cool guy and my 'encyclopedia' when it comes archaeology, history as well as to 'dasar, pekeliling, birokrasi/bio-tak-kasi gomen'.
Afzanizam, MGTF's Curator, is the 'creative, art and design' brain of MGTF, my partner in numerous design tasks and concepts for MGTF' activities. So, if u have anything to comment, complaint, suggest or to praise about MGTF's look, whack him!... He has been co-curating many shows with me for the past 3 years, my apprentice so-to-speak when it comes to curation and curatorial design (a privilege given to very few). He is also the designated pop-rock guitarist for MGTF's open-ended and audience-interactive Kebun Bunyi (Garden of Sound). Very humble, 'diam berisi' yet extremely efficient and sharp.
Firdaus, MGTF's Curator. Very down-to-earth and super kind but not without some wacky sense of humor (especially when I'm not around). He is in charge (or sometimes, being charged by me for not being in charge!) of MGTF's physical development, technical issues and maintenance. Its a tough job, considering the kind of major transformation MGTF has been undergoing for the past 6 years. The transformation is not just a buzzword, it has been massive, the galleries, the office block (from what was perceived as a haunted space), gardens, alarm system, and the list goes on. Always pro-active, ever supportive and willing to assist and offer his help. All despite the fact that he is still a 'pekerja sambilan, imagine that! So, please 'doa' for him to be given the mercy to be taken as a 'pekerja tetap'.
Laila, MGTF's Curator. Don't let the appearance fool you. She might look like a darling (to me, at least), but she is a tough subject. Heck, she is my right-hand person when it comes to MGTF's Research, Publication and Services. So, if for the past few years u have been witnessing a kind of 'renaisance' in regards to MGTF's collection and publication profiles, its because of her. This is not just a lame bragging, the numbers shot from zero book to 20 a year. The only thing that has halted future publication would be the cliche 'budget constrain', and certainly not because of her. She is my information manager, without which I will be at lost. She is the gatekeeper of MGTf's KPI (Key Performance indicator) and KIP (Key Intangible Performance). She has been one of my strong pillars at MGTF. Her KPI shots high up, but still, again, she is another 'pekerja sambilan' USM. Go figure, even I am dumbfounded. 'Doa' for her too.
Shikin is the 'face' and the 'voice' of MGTF. A supermother and superwife of some sort (donno how she handles it, but I salute her), Shikin is another X-factor (more like a magnet) for MGTF. She is MGTF's Curator handling all the PR, Marketing and Promotional activities, who has been responsible in elevating MGTF's profile for the past few years. Don't be mislead by her grace, beauty and demeanor, or by the expensive cars (merz, hybrid toyota etc...) that she drives to the office (she has a loving hubby who is a real gentleman). Her work is not a honeymoon for her, even though she could afford staying home comfortably. She is a cool and firm force to be recognized and acknowledged. She is here to stay, works tirelessly and professionally, despite me whacking her out of no where, here and there, now and a jealous overprotective brother. Well, what can u say, she is MGTF's important asset and I won't let anyone take that away from us!
Safina is MGTF's Assitant Curator and sweetheart. But she is more than just a label or title. Together with Laila, they have forged what I would fancy as the 'best working partnership' a boss would ever dream of. Other than Laila, she is another MGTF's 'X Factor', the intangible and tangible energy that make a particular place or organization excels. Safina is the eye that has checked through all our data, all our information, our publication or written materials. She's my 'correction' officer. She has been my patience sister (or co-partner and perhaps co-learner) when it comes to publishing. We went through the ebb and flow, the 'sepak terajang' of publishing for MGTF together. A very polite, soft and friendly personality. But those interested have to pass through me first!
Aahhhh...another 'sweetheart' of MGTF with a beautiful smile that can shine a day. Hafizah is an Assistant Curator who has been one of the hidden treasures of the Museum. Extremely soft, very humble, polite, at times timidity and lack of confidence took over her, despite her excellent job performance. She is currently our PR staff, but used to be MGTS's designated 'Batik Teacher' for our popular workshop program. A hidden talent and untapped creative force. Her recent output includes a very challenging design task for my recently published "Ripples in Fukuoka". The project took quite some time to complete, very taxing, but she was very patient along the way. Go Hafizah go, u soar higher my girl!

Aizuan is MGTF's Assistant Curator who handles our outreach programs. He has been very instrumental in elevating MGTF's public profile by his natural flair in 'making friends' with myriads of people from kampung folks, makciks and pakciks, rural schools, mosques to friends in government and private institutions, not just in Penang, but all over Malaysia. Of course, he is lousy when it comes to labor work (he will sneeze his way through). But he is very good in making connections. Aizuan has also been the key person in helping me to establish MGTF's Islamic Civilization Collection, which was non-existence before. He has also been instrumental in bringing the highly acclaimed (and popular or highly demanded) "Iqra'- The Garden of Wisdom" exhibition to so many places (including in Brunei), I lost count already. He has a hidden talent as well, silently(or more precisely, secretly and indirectly) learning the art of painting from me. It was a nice surprise to see his repertoire of large paintings in his house. Aizuan was also the key person during our recent artist-in-residence program, providing accommodation (his newly completed house actually, while he and his family stayed at his mother's) and playing a host to Najjar Musawwir, our resident artist then. USM should thank him for that.
Shamsul Ikhmal is an Assistant Curator cum video cameraman and editor; another major creative force of MGTF who has been churning out all the video documentation of MGTF activities both online and offline. He is one of the the silent voices behind MGTF's fb, website, blog, twitter etc. He has been my 'creative partner' in too many projects, I lost count already (including winning one national video award as well as the prestigious USM's Sanggar Sanjung Creative Award along the way!). His recent collaboration (with me and Anderson Ee) for an experimental documentary called "Still Water" is accessible online and is has been shown at MAP Publika, Dutamas, KL (Curated by Lisa Foo as a part of the Riverart Project). Shamsul is also MGTF's reliable goalkeeper for its futsal team (and doesn't mind people mistaken him for our Harimau Malaya keeper!). A very promising creative talent that has a love-hate relationship with the ritualistic MGTF's gomen punch-clock! (who is not?). Will shine if he keeps working in a creative field but will suffer like hell if is forced to succumb to certain archaic gomen office culture. Another 'pekerja sambilan' (temporary staff) who has been working like he is going to stay forever.
‎"Sir, please no go there" - MGTF's Assistant Curator who is not shy to speak in Manglish (Malay or Mangled English) to MGTF's visitors, if the need arises. Despite his occasional anti-establishment rantings and religious sermons, Nor Mohammad or Normad is an important MGTF's 'engine' and 'front-line'. His 'kampung' sensibility (as the unelected YB of Pulau Betong) makes him very easy to approach (no air). He is the most likely person who will greet you as you enter MGTF (of course if you had informed MGTF about your trip in advance). He is one of the most hardworking (like a dog!) staffs a boss could ask for. But he disappears and relaxes almost as much and hard too. Very 'conceptual thinker' too, despite his 'working class' posturing. Yes, he may claim to look a bit like Valencia, the MU player, but he can't claim to play like one (Normad plays more like a 'mad' hunter slashing feet). Certainly a very colorful character with his own type of charisma. Hopefully the charisma will help him to get a 'pekerja tetap' status in MGTF. Another obscured sad story behind the visible success of MGTF and USM as a gomen institution.......typical ha.

He may look like a simple guy. But he has more experience than most self-proclaimed theory-infested curators or any young snobs related to gallery work. Noordin Ban is our Senior Museum Assitant. He has been a part of MGTF since its inception (much like Ravi, Kak Idah and Rosli, part of MGTF's golden four). Noordin is our book-keeper, literally, professionally and metaphorically. He knows everything about our Collections, despite his 'offline' method of documentation. In fact, his manual 'record book' is still being used until today, if not celebrated as a part of MGTF's cherished tradition (or even collection). His chair used to be as seasoned as his experience. He is the walking History Channel of MGTF, including its ghost stories. He is our role model for 'alpha male' (he has 7 children, and perhaps more to come), never seems to grow old (as shown by his performance during marathon competition and futsal games). Of course, like what Afiq had mentioned, he played some old tricks here and there. Biasalah! Noordin has been my man, my advisor (yes, I do seek his opinions and valuable experience). He is one of the pillars of MGTF. So, do place some decent respect to him (sometimes I saw some young students and snob wannabe artists/curators/etc treated him like he was a typical lazy kampung gomen servant). Noordin of course, being his cool self, didn't bother. You are my man Noordin!
This is another iconic figure of MGTF. Rosli, our Technician/Carpenter, has been with MGTF since he was a very young man more than 25 years ago. More than just a McgGiver, he is an all-round man who knows MGTF inside-out. He is also respected by the other younger staffs. He may be small-built, but his energy, stamina, speed and spirit can beat any younger and bigger man anytime. In fact, he used to be the top 2 winners of the annual National Museum Day marathon competition for 3 successive years, including a champion in one (didn't manage to go last year and this year due to budget constrain!). His services even bleed beyond the wall of MGTF. He has helped students from the School of the Arts (and even their lecturers) for their projects, especially doing stretchers for canvas or constructions. More importantly, he has helped me many times beyond the call of duty, out of friendship and love. He is 50, but doesn't look like one.


A retired (hopefully) lady-killer, now a loving hubby and new daddy. Azdlan is our loyal PR man with a very jovial and cheerful attitude. His laugh is infectious. This handsome young man is our main front-line person. He is the one who has made MGTF's visitors happy with their visiting experiences. Since working with MGTF, and together with Shikin and Azizi, they have transformed the 'feel' of MGTF from a boring museum to an exciting and interesting one. No wonder that MGTF's visitors' statistic has soared from 20,000 a year to a whopping 70,000 thousand recently! But MGTF is not crazy with numbers. With Lan, MGTF is more interested in making the visitors feel at home during their visiting experience. Lan is MGTF's secret (or intangible) source of positive vibes. Plus, he is good in scoring beautiful goals for our futsal team too.
If you happened to see some of the best graphic works for MGTF's promo or other materials, chances are they were designed by Salim. He is our long-serving Museum Assistant who has largely been serving as the designated designer for MGTF. When it comes to design, I speak telepathically with Salim. With just my thumbnails and conceptual doodlings to rely on, he have managed to churn out eye-catching and efficient graphics for MGTF for the past 6 years, all of which have contributed significantly to MGTF's increased brand profile. Salim is also a super-cool badminton and ping-pong player to beat.
Azizi is probably the most well-known 'name without a face' amongst those in the MGTF's mailing list. Despite his position as our Museum Assistant, he used to steer and elevate MGTF's PR wing and profile alone on his own, a feat that not ma.ny people in his position have managed to do. If u happened to receive many information, updates, notifications, announcements, greetings, both online and offline from MGTF, that would be due to his effort. He knows MGTF's stakeholders by heart. He has been my key PR man and my apprentice for many projects. I am proud to claim that he has been one of my best students as far PR is concerned. Of course, we share similar passion in big bikes. The increased numbers of visitors to MGTF, and the increased profile as well as brand value of MGTF are all a part of his 'achievements' (mind u, we are talking about a museum assistant here, not a 'curator' of higher officer ok). More than that, Azizi is a true gentlemant, a great friend that one could ask for.

Husni Latiff is indeed MGTF's very own McGyver. A very forward-looking, extremely pro-active and innovative person who thrives in a creatively challenging MGTF environment. No creative and technical challenge is left unanswered by him. Always a ready handyman, he has been very instrumental in the transformation of MGTF, especially in regards to several innovative projects that MGTF has embarked to date. If u r amazed by some of the physical transformation, it was partly due to his contribution. He has also been the 'technical assistant' for my own creative projects. With him by my side, my confidence in 'getting crazy' with my ideas and taking up challenging projects soars higher. Certainly a great asset.

Yazdi is MGTF's Museum Assistant. Our fallen (pencen) soccer captain, easy-going and hard-working all-weather handyman. With him by your side, you can conquer anything. His mantra is "sempoi". Don't laugh at it, because that mantra was used when he was interviewed and reviewed for a permanent job at MGTF.....and he passed with flying colours. "How do you feel working in MGTF and with En. Hasnul?" asked the Registrar, "Sempoi" he answered!". He even escaped with his long hair during a 'confirmation interview', where the interviewer herself provided a justification, "Oh, he works with Hasnul at MGTF, they are creative bunch of people..." (Of course, he can't hide behind his boss's ass or the cliche of 'creative people grow long hair' forever). Anyway, he has been loyal to MGTF and always ready to help without any question whenever one asks for. A true friend indeed

This is another easy going fella. Izrul is a very adaptive Museum Assistant, flexible and can work according to the 'angin' of whoever is in charge. Always happy to smile, Izrul at times emit that lay-back, relaxed and cool 'kampung' wittiness (and sometimes sleaziness!) in the way he does things. Quite resourceful too.
Rashid may look like a bouncer but, in reality, he has a soft heart. He is our 'wired' (not weird) electro-man!, in charge with the technical part of installing an exhibition, lighting or running a museum building. In addition, he is also i.n charge with MGTF's plants, trees, garden. He is a team player who will never say no to a request for help. But when it comes to a futsal game, he will say more than no to any striker trying to pass his stone strong defense.

Our hero! What can I say.... Even though some of his younger colleagues would jokingly refer to him as a senior citizen, Ravi is really 'senior' when it comes to experience. He has been with MGTF more than 25 years, together with Rosli, Kak Idah and Noordin. He is a part of my (and MGTF's) "Golden Four". He has worked under 5 different MGTF's bosses, including the one who is writing this. Ravi has certainly contributed a lot to MGTF. He can sense the vibes of the Museum, an ability that most of the younger staffs still did not fully acquire yet. Ravi is our key reminder that we are serving the 'Rakyat Malaysia', and not just a particular group of people. Ravi is my all-round assistant who has been making my life bearable for the past 6 years. I am very thankful for all his help and support.
Soft spoken Salmiah is beyond me to write about. She is an enigma for me to figure out. I don't know whether she is afraid of me or respect me or both, or something else. I don't know how others look at her too. But don't get me wrong, and don't start imagining Kak Miah like that mysterious Mak Mah character that we used to see many times in the cliche cerita hantu. All I can say is that I am thankful to have her on board as our administrative assistant.

Yes, the definitive mother of MGTF, the lady, one of our cherished "Golden Four". Faridah or Kak Idah is not just a "Pembantu Tadbir", but also my mentor, my advisor, my pillar, my strength, my biggest supporter, motivator, protector, a tru.e sister that I have been blessed with. She is the person I will go to when it comes to unfamiliar faces during official functions (she knows everybody, especially senior USM staffs). She gives MGTF loving and caring vibes, not just 'business as usual'. She might have some idiosyncratic (I would call it unique) style of her own in dealing with people, but she is one tough yet very caring and loving kakak. She might at times seem to be 'annoying' to some (including me), but that comes with the package of being the mother of the MGTF family. I hope I have been a good brother (more than a 'boss') to her (notwithstanding my bad temperament). Kak Idah will stay forever in my heart.
Radhiyah has three beautiful kids (not to mention one handsome husband), including a new-born baby. But she is the baby of MGTF. She is my precious PA (Personal Assistant) who has been by my side along my blessed journey with MGTF. Without her, my job will be a miserable one. She has been my extra hands, my voice, my protector, keeper of my dignity (or even sanity). She makes sure that I'm ok, so that MGTF and the rest of the team is also ok. She stood by me in all weather, even when I lost myself in my fluctuating temperament. I am blessed. My doa for her always.

To all the above family members, I seek forgiveness for all the bad things that I have said and done (intentionally or unintentionally)throughout our 'journey' together. And yes, there are more than 50 'dalil' (reasons) why I should seek forgiveness.  No need to brag.

All of you will be forever etched in my heart.

Hasnul J Saidon
September 2011 

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