07 December 2013


Moody Blues
The sea is restless. She heaves, she groans, she sighs temperamentally. Her swells rise to pensive peaks, then fall to inconsolable troughs. Then she begins again, as if in pursuit of an ever unanswerable question.
The winds are stronger. I hear of double digit wind speeds, coming from the North-East. I look at the velocity strip on my displays with mild suspicion, as I have to remove twenty, often thirty knots to the indicated air speed on any approach to a platform or deck so as to observe a decent closure rate to the waiting deck. Not two days ago, I executed a landing on FSO Abu, and her radio operator read out nonchalantly that the pitch and roll stood at 3 degrees. That's the maximum limitation for a landing upon any vessel for our operations.

As the prevailing winds favoured the left hand seat pilot, I placed the willing chopper on an alongside approach To FSO Abu's centrally located aft deck. FSO Abu is no yacht, and this was my first view of what such a large vessel looked like rolling at 3 degrees both port and starboard. The captain said it must have been due to the ship being demobilized, the reduced weight making it more susceptible to the sea state. On any other given day, you cannot tell that Abu is moving, till you look away from deck towards the superstructure and watch the horizon in the background rise and fall relatively like an Cartesian diver. I had the gait of a wino on deck, and as I waited for the passengers to board, I caught view of the undercarriage oleos compressing and extending against the deck netting. I appreciated the exacting specifications of the deck netting, being 20mm diameter, with a 200mm lattice mesh. Just thick enough to mildly chock the tyres, but with 2225 Newtons of tension at every 1.5 metres fastenings, not enough to snag upon the lift-off to a hover.

Picture gleaned off the web courtesy of MISC
The rigs have demobilised at random, the story being that the tempestuous seas have made it difficult for the food-laden supply boats to sail and berth in order deliver rations to the rigs. We seem to send less passengers than we retrieve, and it is no longer unusual to find that we are carrying a crate or two of condensed milk along with the luggage. Today, we received something unusual in the doggie bag from FSO Abu; Maggi instant noodles and mineral water. I mean, still in dry ration form in its packet. Gone the fried rice, beef rendang, the muffin or even the black bean bun at its most Spartan offerings from the rigs. This isn't a complaint, but after you have given the Helideck Officer the platform chit and you have relieved him of the doggie bag he proffers, you open it up expecting anything but this staring back at you.

Yeah??? You and whose army???
We are operating in one-kilometer visibility, with cloud base coming to 300 feet, arbitrarily at that. The canyon clouds of cumulonimbus that waited in defensive positions 30 miles from shore have assailed their fury upon the shoreline, unleashing their torrents tirelessly till spent breathless miles inland, swelling the rivers to the peril of all who are not on the sunset side of the Titiwangsa.

Coasting out via Lane 3 overlooking the TCOT
We are into the fourth day without mains water. We have seen the hoarders and the preppers in frenzied buying at the supermarkets. Courtesies have gone shallow, and the cars' headlights draw a long line like streetlamps all at the wrong height leading straight to the petrol kiosks. Our road away from Kerteh has been cut off at Kemaman and for all we know, the toll plaza at Jabor which was, could again be barred due to the waters. 

It's beginning to look a lot like what???
I do not compare myself to the many who have lost all that they have beneath the angry waters that seem to have nowhere to find a resting place. I do not know where their broken hearts will begin to step forward to splint the multiple fractures of their shattered lives. How deep the wounds of returning to a home that is all but gone, the cars that are rendered less than scrap metal, appliances that will serve their purpose no more. In view of how much has been lost, I wonder how the idea of banning vehicles past a convenient calendar date could ever have been proposed with any semblance of a conscience, let alone a clear one. For many even one of these items stands as a reminder of months of saving up, swept away without reason or ceremony.
I find it a very odd time for ministers and members of parliament to lay claim that matters would be so much worse for those so scourged were it not for their parent political party's intervention. How stark the difference to see one moment on broadcast, the utter destitution of those who would even seem forgotten by God, contrasted against those affluent who in vainglorious attempt at playing Him, strain their lungs to bellow in chauvinism about epidermal supremacy, buoyed upon the opulent infrastructure paid for by monies harvested from the blood, sweat and tears of the downtrodden.

How does the Speaker of Parliament decide, that such dire need does not warrant the declaration of an emergency in  order to render aid at utmost priority to those who merely want to live their lives, with or without such political glory-getting, on the unfathomable grounds that a 48-hour formality frame to table the motion was not observed by the member of parliament proposing said declaration. Surely the House has entertained the motions of fools over lesser things than these. Adding insult to injury with aplomb surely has to be the drama queen of Kinabatangan's rabid outburst at the Kuantan MP, and I dread to think that that time has not assured anyone of the last of his constituency's floods anyhow. To harvest airtime upon the backs of the downtrodden is far more obscene than poor taste at its most grotesque. In any other legitimate democracy surely this would not have been digestible.

I cannot claim that my opinion in this matter is humble by any yardstick, but it appears that these are the voices of those who have not suffered enough, not had enough taken away, not toiled enough. Had any of them walked even a fortnight as other mortals scratching up an honest day's wage, identifying readily with those whose time has come to wring their last drop of forbearance would be most natural. The lack of squaring up to adversity does not edify souls, and without delayed gratification in reaping the fruits of your own labour, you would not empathise with Lazarus, O Affluent One. Yet, retribution seems further delayed than their seemingly instant gratification would imply, considering the volume of vile rhetoric they spew in the nation's capitol building.
Delayed gratification. There's a thought isn't it? I too baulk at the idea of not being able to get what I want right away, but the reality of my means falling far short of my desires cuts me to where I belong. Indeed, delayed gratification is less than comforting.
However, I believe delayed retribution is far worse. Suddenly I feel rather sorry for the Affluent One.

What say you, Lazarus?



  1. Dear Jeff

    Reading your your words of sea condition during monsoon make my shiver stricken like an electric shock. I do admire all of you guys operating in the middle of nowhere. God bless all of you.

    On Malaysian politic, after 6 years as policy-man, I rest my case...

  2. Dear Major "David"
    I never expected to see you in these pages again, after your first greeting.
    I hope to see you face to face one day braving the offshore conditions with confidence.
    We both worked in offices of policy making sir, although my seat was below yours not merely because I was on the 10th floor as compared to your 19th but also our perspectives were diverse on the basis of our educational foundations on the same metaphorical comparisons. You in your own stead and flair would have had more strikes and me, more misses in our respective offices.
    I seek not to be a political writer. I am just sad that so many had to suffer on a scale that could have been mitigated. May His graces outdo the errors of those who wield power over us. My apologies if I had inadvertently scuffed your pedicure. But that is an achievement in itself, no? :P ;) :D

  3. When loneliness came creepin, I like to visit your site and read your journals. I find this one really entertaining. The tempetous sea, the flood,the attitude of some our representatives all these are like a playground for a person with a lazy mind like me. I am inspired to come and visit this wonderful site and I do hope that you will continue to share your insights on the issues of interests. Be save and may God bless you.

  4. Dear Anonymous. I welcome you here. But even better, I wish I knew who it is I am entertaining. Be my guest always.