I keep remembering my stay at Pusat Serenti Gambang (PSG) (government one-stop drug rehabilitation centre) with a lot of fondness and sentimentality. “How could that be so?!”, many might ask. After all, it was “court-ordered” … “incarceration”. Nobody in their right mind would want to go there willingly.
You would be right about that one – I didn’t go willingly. After a dreary three-month at the horrendous Pengkalan Chepa prison, I had fought like hell at the magistrate’s court to be given a two-year supervision. But it was fated. And there’s nothing one could do about it if that was so. And it was just two days before Hari Raya too! Only God knows how I had felt then, spending Deepavali and Raya at a dank police lockup in Pasir Mas (31 Oct-6 Nov `05) while waiting to be sent to Gambang… (See this earlier account if you had missed it and click on the newspaper links) Caption: A newcomer to a pusat. Put glasses on them, slighly thinner hair and gaunt face, and that would be a picture of me:-)
But the strange thing was, by the Will of God; plus my attitude, and plus the morale help of those inside and outside the `pusat’, it became among the most memorable and pleasant period of my life! The magic given by God, when we redha (accept)! And I keep remembering and longing for that place even until now…
I’ll surely write more about PSG in the future, but today I’m just going to tell about a few things. First, if you are wondering what “cendana” and “287” mean, it is this: Cendana (“Sandalwood”) was my hostel, and 287 my Registration Number – 287/05 actually, with “05” being the year, of course.
So, who was “cendana286”? Mat Daud aka “Mat Tiger”, also from Pasir Mas. And “cendana288”? No one – that number belongs to Nik Haizuddin of Kuala Terengganu, but it would be “damar288”.
All `pusats’ follow this system of registration. At PSG, your RN will decide which hostel you go to – after a two-week stay in detox and 3-4 months at the “Orientasi” (either “A” or “B” hostel) when you are a `botak’ (baldie/newcomer) in red t-shirt. Numbers ending in 0-1 go to Meranti; 2-3 Jati; 4-5 Seraya; 6-7 Cendana; 8-9 Damar. And boy, were we competitive and `taksub’ when it comes to loyalty to our hostel and “brothers”!
Caption: A runaway from Pusat Serenti Jerantut this year. See the colour of his shirt. At PS Gambang during my time, 95% of runaways/escapees were the red-shirted Phase 1 trainee/inmate – people who could not/would not accept the court order. These guys risk getting a few whips of the rotan (three, if I’m not mistaken) and a few years in prison. I hope that guy had faked his IC…
Incidentally, out of these ten from 280-299; 281, 282 & 289 all ran away. 285 was transferred to Jerantut (disciplinary). 286 was released early for health reasons.
(Will be continued after `Buka Puasa’. Or `later’)
I found PSG in Google Maps despite my slow connection! Fascinating, and I’m getting all misty-eyed! It’s here: Will try to learn more and put a pin on Cendana.
For what it’s worth, I’ve added the pins. Don’t know how to add the link to it here, but I’ve made it public under my profile of cendana287ATgmail.com (the account that I use for “the other site”). The altitude/longitude (or should that be the other way?) is: 3.747056,103.14953 [18 Sept 2.15 AM Update: I’ve found out how. Here’s the map, plus the pins. It’ll help readers here understand and `feel’ the stories of Gambang. Try enlarging the image to two/three bars below the maximum.