This blogspot is a medium to share my thoughts and adventures apart from promoting my books. Below are the books which have been written or authored and published by myself.

"Berpetualang ke Aceh: Mencari Diri dan Erti".

ISBN 983-42031-0-1, Jun 2006

"Berpetualang ke Aceh: Membela Syiar yang Asal"

ISBN 983-42031-1-x, May 2007

"Berpetualang ke Aceh: Sirih Pulang ke Gagang?"

ISBN 978-983-42031-2-2, November 2007

It is interesting to note that while these books were written in Malay it has gained enough attention to merit being part of the collections of the American Library of Congress and National Library of Australia. Look here and here.

While the first three books were published by my own company, the fourth titled "Rumah Azan" was published in April 2009 by a company called Karnadya with the help of the Malaysian national literary body Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. It features beautiful pictures along with stories behind selected mosques which could be related to the history of Islam and the Malays alongside the formation of the Malaysian nation. Look at the article A collaboration of old collegemates - the book "Rumah Azan".

My fifth book "Ahlul Bait (Family) of Rasulullah SAW and Malay Sultanates", an English translation and adaptation of the Malay book "Ahlul Bait (Keluarga) Rasulullah SAW dan Kesultanan Melayu" authored by Hj Muzaffar Mohamad and Tun Suzana Othman was published early 2010. Look here... My 5th book is out! Ahlul Bait (Family) of Rasulullah SAW and the Malay Sultanates... . For more information check out my Malay blogspot CATATAN SI MERAH SILU.

Like my fourth book "Rumah Azan", the sixth book "Kereta Api Menuju Destinasi" is also a coffee-table book which is published by the company Karnadya with the cooperation of Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (the main Malay literary body in Malaysia). Coming out January 2011 it features pictures and stories on the adventure travelling by train to all of Peninsular Malaysia along with the interesting places which could be reached this way.

My seventh book "Jejak keluarga Yakin : Satu sketsa sejarah" in turn is a coffee-table book which is written, editted, designed and has pictures taken by me. Coming out of the factory October 2011, this book which combines family history with history of places such as Singapura, Johor, Batu Pahat, Muar and in fact the history of the island of Java and England has been reviewed with me interviewed live in the program Selamat Pagi Malaysia at RTM1. Look at the article Siaran langsung ulasan buku "Jejak keluarga Yakin : Satu sketsa sejarah" dan temu ramah di Selamat Pagi Malaysia. Some selected contents have been featured in Sneak peek "Jejak keluarga Yakin : Satu sketsa sejarah".


The "Berpetualang ke Aceh" series of novels could be obtained in e-book form. Enter http://www.e-sentral.com/, click general novel and go to page 4. You can also type the word "Aceh" at the search box. Or click straight Book 1, Book 2 and Book 3.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Equestrian again? Why not?

To cap my pitiful attempt at updating this blogspot with old articles let me just represent again this article made as a run-up the the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games 2001 OK... Cheerio!!!

Document 18 of 401 
Publication : NST 
Edition : 2* 
Date : 19/07/2001 
Page Number : 36 
Headline : `Looking better than Chiangmai' 
Words : 481 
Byline : By Radzi Sapiee 
Text : 

EQUESTRIAN sports were introduced at the Sea Games in Singapore in 1983. Back then, equestrian consists of combined training comprising both dressage and show-jumping, and polo. 

The host nation were clearly ahead in the first discipline to win both the team and individual gold while Malaysia, fielding what was essentially the Royal Pahang Polo Club team with Tengku Mahkota Pahang Tengku Abdullah among them, thrashed Singapore and the Philippines to win the polo gold. 

Malaysia also won the combined training team bronze through Datuk Awang Kamaruddin Abdul Ghani, a pioneer in the first equestrian Sea Games team and laid the foundation for the future. 

Since then, equestrian has not been competed in the Games until Chiangmai in 1995, where Malaysia won the showjumping gold and individual silver, three-day eventing individual silver and dressage team bronze. 

That was also the last time equestrian made the Games. Malaysia proved formidable in both disciplines and are now acknowledged as the showjumping and dressage powerhouses, having won the 1998 Asian Games showjumping individual bronze and dressage team silver in Bangkok ahead of other Asean nations. 

The only equestrian discipline that Malaysia are struggling to catch up is three-day eventing. Thailand won both team and individual gold when the sport was introduced at the Chiangmai Games and they beat all challengers at the Asian Games to emerge champions.

Then again, Malaysia never had a proper eventing team until the Gemilang 2001 squad were assembled last year for the KL Games in September. The sport involves dressage, cross-country riding and showjumping and the riders used to be assembled ad hoc from other disciplines but we still won an individual silver in Chiangmai. 

The team are now fully dedicated to the job, having trained in New Zealand last year and they got five specially-trained horses from there to help them compete in KL with Chiangmai silver medallist Husref Abdul Malek to lead the charge. Thus, the Equestrian Association of Malaysia (EAM) have targetted an individual gold and a team silver this time.

For showjumping, EAM have targetted an individual gold but we still have Asian Games bronze medallist Quzeir Ambak Mahamad Fathil in the squad and younger brother Qabil, who has overtaken his sibling as the nation's best showjumper, to strengthen the team. 

For dressage, EAM have targetted both the team and individual gold. Qabil and his youngest sibling, sister Quzandria Nur, won the Asian Games team dressage silver and the team are still improving. 

Last but not least is endurance riding, which will make its Sea Games debut in KL. The sport is still an unknown quantity but we do have a world-class rider in Awang Kamaruddin, who have won international races since he took up the discipline in 1998. 

In total, Malaysia are targetting five of the seven equestrian gold medals on offer. 


EACH sport, except for endurance which only offers the individual gold, will have five competitors from each country. However, only four can fight for the team gold and only points from the best three counts. The fifth rider in each sport can still fight for the individual gold. 

Competitors for the individual titles are selected from the team events. 

For eventing, it runs concurrently, meaning the best person in the team event is the individual winner. For dressage, the best 10 riders in the team event will make the individual final while showjumping has an individual qualifying round combined with the first and second round of the team competition. The best 12 riders and any number of those who shared 12th place after that will battle for the individual gold. 

All equestrian sports will be held at the Selangor Turf Club, except for the cross-country section of eventing at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Serdang and endurance which will be held at a 105km course near Sg Labu and Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).


THE Sea Games event will be AM5 - there will be a first round where riders have to clear the course, about the size of a hockey field with about 12 obstacles comprising 130cm-tall single, double and triple bars within a stipulated time. 

Failure to clear a bar will result in a fault of four points and time penalty of a point per second will be given to those who exceed the time limit. 

A fault of four is also given for each refusal - after a horse refused to make a jump. The competitor will be disqualified if his horse refused twice. 

The best riders from the first round - those who made the least faults or none at all - will proceed to the jump-off where riders will repeat the whole process using half the obstacles. Unless there is a clear winner from the first round, for example, if one rider has a fault of four while the rest has more, there is no need for the jump-off. Otherwise, the winner is the person who completed the jump-off with the least fault and the fastest time, exactly in that order. 

Currently, there are six riders in the national squad fighting through the national circuit to make the squad of five. 


THIS is the most subjective of the equestrian sport as the points are mainly gathered in two parts - performance and appearance. 

One dressage rider said you could lose a competition simply because the judges don't like the way you look. The same applies to horses and dressage horses tended to be well-groomed with their hair often braided. So appearance matters. 

The main thing is to negotiate the horses through an outline of geometrical figures to be decided by the technical committee. 

Sometimes, the horses are made to walk and trot sideways, sometimes backward to follow lines or circles which only appear in the plan to be memorised by the riders and executed on the course. The idea is to get the horses to do it as daintily as possible, as if it was doing it on its own. 


AS the name implies, the event is held over three days starting with the dressage section, cross-country the next day and showjumping on the third. The rules for the first and third section is almost the same as regular dressage and showjumping except the points are converted to penalty points plus there is no disqualification for refusal in the last section.

The cross-country section involves galloping the horse on a 4km trail as fast as possible with minimum mistakes. The penalties from all sections are then added and the rider with the least is the winner. 


PERHAPS the most gruelling of the disciplines, the Sea Games event will be held over 105km in four stages of 40km, 35km, 20km and 10km. This is equivalent to the smallest endurance race staged in Europe under the FEI (world equestrian body), where first-class races are always above 130km. 

Then again, the sport is making its Sea Games debut and many are still learning the ropes.

So far, only one 105km race has been held in the Peninsular for the Sea Games qualifying at the same trail to be used for the Games, near Sg Labu and Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). 

Veterinarian checks are held at the start, finish and in-between stages and riders are required to submit their horses within 30 minutes of arriving at the check points. Horses found limp, dehydrated or those exceeding a certain heart-rate (normally 64 beats per minute) will be disqualified with the riders. 

radzisapiee@nstp.com.my (END)

Equestrian sports gaining ground?

This sports page article was written sometime after the equestrian trip to France of 2000. Some of us then were in the midst of promoting equestrian sports especially endurance riding in Malaysia. Hence that should explain my particular excitement in approaching the subject. 

Document 46 of 452 
Publication : NST 
Edition : 2* 
Date : 06/08/2001 
Page Number : 39 
Headline : Equestrian scene promises to get bigger 
Words : 609 
Byline : By Radzi Sapiee 
Column Name : Extra time 
Text : 

THE equestrian scene is literally on the move. After being hit by the Nipah virus scare two years ago, which restricted the movement of horses, and the economic problems of 1997, there has been a sudden emergence of national events this year which will culminate with the three big ones this month. 

These are the Premier Cup final at Bukit Kiara Equestrian Resort this weekend, the Merdeka Masters at the 3QE Club in Kuang the following weekend and the Selangor Turf Club (STC) Equestrian Championship at Seri Kembangan at the end of the month. The Seri Kembangan event will be particularly interesting as Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad will be competing for the first time in the carriage endurance category. 

Two weeks ago, the equestrian scene became abuzz when the 76-year-old Prime Minister, who attended the TNB Equestrian International 2001 at the Selangor Polo and Riding Club (SPRC), declared Malaysia already have world-class riders and that he was glad with the pace of the development of the sport. He also announced that Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), a main sponsor for the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games, would hold a world-class endurance riding competition in Putrajaya. 

TNB chairman Datuk Jamaluddin Jarjis confirmed this will happen before the end of the year, adding they were working with the Police Mounted Unit and world-class endurance rider Datuk Awang Kamaruddin Abdul Ghani, who would engage other international top riders for the event. A week later, a Press conference was held to launch the KL International Showjumping (KLIS), which will be the first world Grand Prix event in Asia and outside the continents of America and Europe. The next day, Awang Kamaruddin, who last month was ranked sixth in the world, announced a team of 15 locals for the first Malaysia-Argentine friendly endurance competition near Buenos Aires (last weekend). 

He said among the main factors that have led to the growth was media interest, saying he kept a three-part feature on endurance riding which appeared in Timesport more than three months ago and the story had prompted Dr Mahathir to direct him to organise a world-class endurance event here. 

Timesport's coverage of the National Polo tournament at SPRC three weeks ago - the first such media coverage of the game in years - also contributed to the curent climate. Later, Dr Mahathir announced that another polo club would be opened soon. 

The Sea Games next month will also see the return of equestrian as a medal sport. Equestrian was included in the Games only twice before - 1983 in Singapore and 1995 in Chiangmai - but this time, endurance riding is included for the first time ever. 

But despite the rosy picture, National Equine Council secretary Malik Jeremiah cautioned against getting over-excited. "I am afraid the current euphoria won't last beyond the Sea Games. But I sincerely hope the scene would go on and grow," he said. 

Malik also advised organisers to pace their meets as too many, weekend after weekend, could `kill the horses.' 

"There are only so many riders and horses in the pool. Basically, we saw the same people at every meet because the organisers tend to concentrate on the high-end events," he said.

Malik suggested that the main events be spaced in between smaller events which should only cater to beginners and novices. There should be no Grand Prix class in these junior meets, he said. 

"That way, we can allow the top riders to rest their horses while giving the newcomers a chance to shine. This would increase our pool and make the sport's growth more meaningful," he said. 

radzisapiee@nstp.com.my (END)

Equestrian endurance in France

OK... Let me just post this article on equestrian some 7 years ago... You could say this was my introduction to the sports of endurance riding. Have a go! 

Publication : NST 
Edition : 2* 
Date : 15/11/2000 
Page Number : 41 
Headline : Wholesome family activity that captivates the heart 
Words : 891 
Byline : By Radzi Sapiee 
Text : 

CAMARADERIE is at the heart of equestrian sports in France, where horse-riding is a way of life enjoyed by all walks of life. This scribe recently followed Bukit Kiara equestrian resort executive director Datuk Kamaruddin Abdul Ghani to France and found a wholesome family activity that captivates the heart.

The stage was the FEI (world equestrian body) 2x100m equestrian endurance races at Montcuq, a small castle town at a hilly area some 200km north-east of the Spanish border. The participants, a mixture of blue blood horse-loving aristocrats, city slickers with penchant for the countryside, horse-breeders and even lowly farmers mingle with ease despite their different nationalities and upbringing. 

What was more astounding was the support they get from their kith and kin, nevermind that winter was close and temperature ranged from two degrees Celsius to a maximum of only 13 when the sun was up unhindered by the clouds. Many brought their spouses, kids and friends and toddlers were seen everywhere, playing with the family dogs that excitedly roamed the local fire department headquarters' ground, the makeshift centre for the event. 

Nearly 130 horse-riders came from as far as Australia and Brazil and the camaraderie of old opponents and friends making acquaintance with new ones was infectious as they settled their horses for the first of two-day races. 

"See, how friendly they are," said Kamaruddin as he waved to a few faces he'd met in other races. "If only our equestrian scene is like this." 

Having been on the FEI endurance circuit since 1998, the 55-year-old has become close buddies with the likes of veterinarian-turned-horse breeder Jack Begaud, who was last year's best European rider, and the Just family, who owns a 72-hectare farm with 75 horses near the Spanish border. Kamaruddin has used horses from Begaud's stable but this time, he decided to try Hose and wife Marie-Noelle's six-year-old Gusty De L'Aigual. 

The fun really began when the race started. All riders were flagged off simultaneously - each free to start from the front or behind according to their whims and tactics - at 8am from the town's main street before they head off to the twisting farm trail leading to the next stop at Caltenau Montratier. 

The town itself is just about 20km east of Montcuq but the trail which at certain points cut through the narrow country roads covered a distance of 35km. The points were where friends and family can help. They became the crewers - the support people who supplies food and drinks for both horse and rider. 

Some even came in as many as four cars for a rider with the richer ones bringing their own cobblers and equipment in mini-vans, making a cavalcade of more than 200 cars to inch up and down the winding roads. Traffic only eased up when the fast riders got separated from the slow ones whose crewers had to wait a while longer before springing into action. 

When the time came, kids from as young as 10 helped to pass bottles of water which the riders used to wash the horses from the neck up, a surprising new discovery for this scribe considering the chilly condition out there. 

"The horses are made for temperate climate and easily heats up after a run," explained Kamaruddin as he rested at the veterinarian checkpoint at Caltenau Montratier. "We use the water to cool it down." 

Hose and Marie-Noelle fed Gusty with hay, carrot and apples while daughter Celine and her friend Latitiea massaged the beast with lavender oil. 

Upon arrival there, each rider was given 30 minutes to calm the horse's heartbeat to below 64 beats per minute and do whatever necessary to ensure it can walk properly without limping or risk being disqualified. Free hands like mine (when Kamaruddin didn't request for assistance) walked about to see how the others were doing. 

The usual question: "Is your horse OK?", in French or otherwise, was answered by the universal `OK' with a thumbs-up or the other way around, meaning you are on the way out, binded even the most quite of strangers. 

The town square which became the checkpoint was abuzz with activity as every townsfolk and visitors converged to partake in the festive atmosphere. 

An hour later, Kamaruddin was ready to be flagged-off for the second stage, another 35km endurance ride to La Bastide Marnhac. Some riders had left earlier while others were still going through the veterinarian check. 

"Whoever completes the check early gets to continue sooner," he said. 

The official looked at his clock and began the countdown. Five, four, three, two, one and off he goes. Hose, his family, Latitie and myself who, by then have became Kamaruddin's fifth crewer, lunged to get our gear before we ran off for our two cars to catch our rider at the next point. 

By the time the race was done on the next day, we had virtually recognised every face on the field, never mind that some like me came with a limited French vocabulary of "Bon jour (good day)" and "Sava (ok?)". 

There is no doubt that camaraderie abounded there and newfound friends made the memory even sweeter, making me wish that we could have such an endurance race in Malaysia really soon. (END)

Hello again!!!

Well, look who's here! The Internet technology has grown by leaps and bounds since this blogspot was last updated that I almost didn't notice the face of you, reader (yes! you! The one reading this article with a quizzical look on your face)... Puzzled how I can see your face although your computer is not attached to any video recording and broadcast device? Well, that's the wonder of technology... Just kidding!!!
Don't worry, I can't really see you now except perhaps in my mind's eye... So feel free to touch any bodyparts you feel comfortable with... Ha! Ha!
Hmm... This whole idea of being able to see other people through your computer screen without the aid of video camera reminds me of a stupid joke some people on the Net pulled a few years back... A friend one day came excitedly to me telling they've just created a new software making a normal computer screen capable of catching what's outside, just like photography. And so there I was going through the webpage smiling for a picture before clicking the button which indicated my picture has just been taken. Then came the message: "Wait a while for the picture to be processed" (or something like that)... So I waited excitedly like a fool... For I used to be very very excited with new technologies... Surely a software which can turn a normal computer screen into a camera is worth getting wide-eyed for...
A few seconds later, the truth was revealed... Yes , a picture did came up and yes a nice smiling one too... That of a babboon... Hah! The software must be so advanced that it managed to catch the essence of my mood at that particular moment... Yep... A babboon so excited to be fooled...
Anyway, enough of this. Actually I just want to keep this blogspot updated after returning from travelling up north nearly a week ago - I've just spent almost a month backpacking in Pulau Pinang, Kedah, Langkawi and Perlis (the first week was actually spent at a nice hotel in Prai keeping a cousin who was outstationed company) and the trip including climbing Gunung Jerai alone at night... Malam Jumaat (Thursday night leading to Friday) some more if you know what I mean...
So here I am... With lots of stories to tell but too lazy to actually put it properly in words unless come the urge. Since leaving my job as a journalist writing in English at the New Straits Times in 2001, most of my writing has been in Malay, my mother tounge... Due to a renewed interest in anything Malay sparked by the personal search to understand my family roots.
Meanwhile let me update this blogspot with something else... Wait OK! Cheers! :]