The year The Chemistry Department UKM Ended. Twenty nine years from 1970. Being reduced to a programme in a bigger School of Chemical Science and Food Technology in a re-bigger Faculty of Science and Technology.
Many events in 1999 were attributed to the imminent advent of the so-called Third Millennium. Arithmetically the new millennium year should begin on January 1, year 2001, i.e. the first year of the third millennium, not January 1, year 2000. The end of 1999 meant the end of the 999th year of the second millennium, one year short of a thousand year, and January 1, 2000 meant the new year of the 1000th year of the second millennium. So, unmistakably the new millennium should be from Jan 1, the year 2001. But the millennium bug scare known as Y2K was successfully unleashed, its sting was not so much of the change of the millennium, but the change of figure 1999 to 2000, the former was conventionally put as 99 in most computer which naturally change to 100 on January 1, 2000, thus falsely denoting the year column. The scare was so real that it cost many billions to computer consumers like developing nations in consultancy fees to supposedly overcome the ghostly millennium Y2K bug. Mid-night on Dec 31 (Friday) was phenomenally celebrated all over the world. Was it a new millennium celebration? Or just taking an advantage?
In the middle of March, Head of the Department entrusted me in designing and maintaining the dept's homepage. I spent a considerable time acquiring, processing and 'cooking' the materials for the pages. It was in between invisible (to me) steps taken for a major restructuring to occurr among science-based faculties in UKM. Four faculties, viz., Faculty of Physical and Applied Science (FSFG), Faculty of Life Sciences (FSH), Faculty of Science and Natural Resources (FSSA), and Faculty of Mathematical Science (FSM) were closed, officially on July 19, and in place, the departments in the faculties were rejumbled up in a new faculty called Faculty of Science and Technology (FST), lead by a dean and two deputy deans, assisted by three deputy registrars. Under the faculty, five schools were established, each lead by a chairman. In each school, several programmes were established, and lead by a head. The new faculty was launched on Wednesday, July 28 by the Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Dr Fong Chan On. Chemistry Department of FSFG and Food Science & Nutrition Dept of FSH were merged into a school called School of Chemical Science and Food Technology. The school also absorbed several chemistry-trained staff from the defunct Nuclear Science dept and from the FSSA. The former Chemistry exist as a Programme, along side Chemical Technology & Oleochemistry, Food Science, and Food Science & Administration programmes. The restructuring was rumoured as a beginning of a new UKM. It would be followed by other faculties the soonest possible. For FST, the progress since inception was in great speed indeed, alas, in repainting the deanery premises. The rest of the FST unfortunately were regressing at a faster speed. To the end of the year, the mood among academic staff was more of a regret due to an unforeseeable error rather than a rejuvenating one.
At about the same time Dr Osman asked me to join his team in IRPA 01-01-04-T004, a high-tech food-based project. I was more than delighted to accept the invitation. However, there was so much 'holes' in the chemistry lab that I could only give him a nil contribution out of what he needed from me.
Chito-Chem, even though still in red, made a considerable progress. Apart from many changes of directors due to Biro's top level reshuffling, the company has become a new baby to Mr Saw, the new GM of the newly ownership-restructured Eastern Global, one of the major share holder, unfortunately at the expense of dwindling function of PP. This year the board met twice only, on April 14, and on June 2 (both in Bangi), but the steering committee met almost every month. The first AGM was held on May 12 in Parit Buntar with a major decision adopted being the issuance of another one-third million of ordinary shares to current holders. The production line was renovated and improvised a lot to enhance efficiency. The same was also applied to the post-production. In between the many negotiations arrange with major bulk customers, a grinding machine was purchased, and by the year end the company almost close a deal to purchase an automatic capsuling machine by an invitation visit to the machine factory, on December 20, in Taipei and Taoyuan, Taiwan.
The UTM-DBP's Ensiklopedia Sains dan Teknologi, the chemistry volume, was given a final furnishing touch with the committee's own writing workshop on February 26 in PD, precedented by the success of the first one, on November 13 last year, also in PD. It was a 'rescue' step I suggested in a meeting last year to be taken when the inflow of the articles was very slow. It was then followed by the final finishing reading of the whole volume on April 30 (Air Keroh), June 11 (Air Keroh), July 16 (PD), and August 20 (Air Keroh) weekends. The volume was scheduled to be submitted in October for setting and finally for printing in DBP.
At home, Syarbini began his schooling on Monday Jan 4 in Year 1 in the schools all his elder brothers and sisters went to, i.e. SRK BBBangi Jln 2 (evening session), and SRA BBBangi Jln Kemajuan (morning session). It was not very hard to make him adapted to his new phase of life. In his sometimes moody days, he made himself noticeable to his 1J class teacher. Alya went to Year 5, both in SRK and SRA. But, as I observed that she was rather insufficient in self-confidence, by January end I signed the official letter requesting her teacher to return her back to Year 4C in order to preserve her onepieceness.
Rubi almost made up all what she had lost. She regained her grade in her final semester exams. Her CGPA took her to the University Senate and she was awarded University's Senior Scholarship for her faculty in the UKM's 27th Convocation on July 3. She attended the ceremony, nonetheless to accompany Pak Jo receiving his accountancy MA.
When we sent Malini back to KTJ on Sunday, Jan 3, for her last leg of the A-Level, she was soulless. Added by the Ramadan routines in the less-Muslim environment of KTJ, she suffered food-rejection syndrome, that we had to take her back home four days later for recovery. She was returned to College a few days before Eid 1419 break on Tuesday, Jan 19, as always, in my home town in Terengganu. In the mean time I wrote a very nasty letter to her sponsor, regretting very much for the change of rule in the middle of the game and the injustice done on her. KTJ's principle, Mr Briggs, incidently a Manchunian, also wrote an appeal letter, and so did parents of Malini's two colleagues. In April the sponsor finally reviewed its decision, and dicided to rehonour its promise, but on condition, only to Cambridge. That, in effect, put more pressure than before, on her since Cambridge required four clean A's to get matriculated at Newnahm. She composed herself well during the June A-Level final exam, and on August 18, Jawahir mistress rang to tell her that she had got through. The sponsor had no choice, but paid her tuition fees at Newnahm, signed a 3K+BP living allowance cheque, bought a return plane ticket, and eventually she took off on Sunday morning, September 26, on MH004. Before departure, I took her (on Sunday September 5, with Alya and Muzani only) to Terengganu to see relatives (I stole the days for a leisure time at sea, fishing) and threw a 'kenduri' on Saturday September 18. During this period Azizah went through a concieve (ninth) period which she noticed rather unusual, and turned up a painless miscarriage in early November. With all Malini's wishes blessed, I kept reminding her through ICQ right between my office and her college room, and later by phone, of the years to come, especially during her six weeks xmas break, at home, from Dec 6, in coincidence with Ramadan 1420 on Thursday Dec 9, and thus Eid on Saturday Jan 8, 2000.
Unmistakably, the event of the year began on Nov 10 when PM dissolved the 9th Parliament effective from the next day. SPR announced the 10th GE be on Monday Nov 29. Eclipsing by the ousting of DSAI as TPM on Nov 1998, and his subsequent six years jailing on April 14, PAS soared by resweeping Ktn (since 1990), regained Trg (swept clean), advanced in Kdh and Pls, and broke through in Phg, Prk and Sgr, and made appearance in NS, Mka and Jhr.
Edition dated Jan 2000