September 11 revisited

Today, Pak Lah announced the first Budget under his administration. This is the first time in four years that I am not caught up in the Budget frenzy that I almost forgot about it.

Ok, back to the topic. Tomorrow, it will be three years after the horrible attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York as well on the Pentagon in Washington DC in 2001.

At the time the first tower of the WTC crashed, I was in my room at home, when my sister banged my door shouting for me to come out and watch the news. I was horrified. After coming back to my senses, the first thing I did was calling my office. My editor told me that they’ve heard the news and were making necessary changes to the next day’s line-up. The busiest person I think was BT’s correspondent in New York, who filed in several stories for the NST, BT as well as Malay Mail (translated versions appeared in the Malay papers BH and Metro).

I remembered how Jalan Riong was very busy with activities – the vendors waiting impatiently for the afternoon tabloids, reporters (including yours truly) spending lunch time reading their own copies, and my editors being worried about a colleague who was in DC on an official trip. He was unable to catch his flight back and was even questioned. And he’s Sikh, not even a Muslim.

September 12 2001 was a quiet day at the stock market as the KLSE shut down, afraid of a big scale crash to the indices. And I was on market report duty that week. The high for me would be writing a market story at midnight, when the US stock markets re-opened after the attacks.

I had planned to go to New York City at the end of 2001 but it was only in spring of 2002 that I finally made my way there. Ground Zero had a chilling air to it. I had always wanted to go to New York and I was really glad to make that trip but it was also a reality check on life.

Malaysia became host to the Asian Global Leadership Forum on September 6 to 8 2002, to commemorate the one year anniversary of the terrorist attacks. The weekend retreat was held at Pangkor Laut and I was the (un)lucky one picked to cover the event. I had to miss a friend’s wedding due to that.

There were politicians, corporate bigwigs, academicians and other professionals (not to mention a few socialites and artistes) at the forum. Of course, nothing much came out of it. Everyone wanted to show that they have an idea to make the world a better place but no action in the end. I did manage to interview Steve Forbes of Forbes magazine, to show that I actually worked that weekend.

Last year, September 11 fell on the Thursday before the Budget. I don’t think I did anything that reminded me of the anniversary.

And it is here again. Right on the heels of the hostage situation in Beslan and bombings in Jakarta. Whether Jemaah Islamiyah is responsible for the latter or not, it is too close to home for comfort.

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