Wednesday, 7 August 2019


In the wake of the brouhaha over the introduction of teaching Khat or Jawi calligraphy as part of the BM curriculum for Year Four pupils,  I decided it's a good time to think and talk about a key aspect of the Malay Peninsula's culture, heritage and literary legacy which had been marginalised as a result of the policies and practices of our  previous "masters of our fate" during nearly 450 years of foreign colonisation and overlordship.

In introducing Khat, there is hardly any overtone of  pursuing a policy of  language exclusiveness and triumphalism like Singapore's  Mandarin language campaign.

To those who protest so adamantly about Khat and Jawi, people like .......

1.   Dong Zong and Jiao Zong ....

They do teach Chinese calligraphy in Chinese vernacular schools, don't they??

2.  DAP rabble rousers
DAP foot-soldiers

3.  Orang berkuasa baru
Teresa Kok is DAP's MP for Seputeh and Minister for Primary Industries.   What opinion does she hold today?  

4.  Si Bangsa/Anak Malaysia 
Apologies for this fuzzy image of  Lim Lip Eng, DAP MP for Kepong.  I find his purple Mandarin jacket very becoming.  For a moment I thought he was a rakyat of Taiwan or the PRC or Singapore(?).

When I was in Secondary School in Singapore during the late fifties/early sixties, we did not have a permanent Malay Language teacher although Malays made up nearly a quarter of Students for my Grade Level.  The school provided a Mandarin Language teacher and we Malay girls had to sit in during each Mandarin lesson after firstly standing up and making a greeting of  Sen sen chau an when Madam X entered the classroom.  Of course we (as most teenagers do) would natter out of sheer boredom.  Although the four of us were quite subdued in our chatter, Madam X would yell at us "Malay girl sitting at the back, listen to your book!".  Yez Ma'm, Yez Boss, Yez Guv!

In 1961, about a month or two before we sat for our Senior Cambridge School Certificate Examination and the  Federation of Malaya Certificate (FMC) Malay Language Paper, we were directed to Gan Eng Seng School for our Malay Language lessons on a Saturday afternoon.   What was my Grade ye may ask??  I did not fail but I did get an S7 - something I am not proud of.  BUT, the Singapore Government reckoned that was good enough for me to teach in Malay in Sekolah Menengah Yusof  Ishak when I graduated in Geography and Political Science in 1967!!!  Yes Sir, Yes Boss, Yes Guv!

 As I went through my twenties and thirties; and through the trauma of Singapore in and out of Malaysia, of the Race Riots in Singapore and the 1969 May 13 tragedy in Malaya, of watching the rising serpent of  racism-cum-discrimination which affected both myself and my pupils;  I had to do a re-think of who and what I am.

That was the beginning of my regret and shame in knowing and learning so little of my language (especially in Jawi), my Malay Literature and the history of the Malays from way before 1511 when Catholic Portugal subjugated the land of my forefathers (and foremothers).

I did try to make a beginning with teaching myself Jawi.  I bought several do-it-yourself books.  This is my most precious  and I shall extract parts from it to illustrate why Jawi is such a significant aspect of the identity of the Malay, an expression that has been so neglected for the past 60 years or more (unlike the Chinese and the Indians who are supported to maintain and foster the calligraphy of their mother tongue).

Here is that book.

What follows is extracted entirely from M. B. Lewis' book. I have learned a lot about Jawi calligraphy and somewhat unexpectedly, about a wide tapestry of Malay culture, literature, history, socio-economics and homely domestic settings.

1.  The Portuguese reach Malacca - from Sejarah Melayu

2.  Pantun

3.  A Trading Permit

4.  From a Newspaper

5.  Newspaper Titles


Finally, a word of caution when showing one's indignation.

When DAP MP  Lim Lip Eng wrote this in his Facebook  ------

------  is he aware of the implications of the term "cow manure"?

When he used the words 'cow manure', he is of course referring to cow dung which all Malaysians know is a good organic fertilizer, just like horse dung/horse manure.

Do read this :

Hidup di dunia biar beradat,
Bahasa tidak berjual beli.   Please.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019


Two years ago, when I pulang ke Tanah Air from Leicester, the Malaysians I met were very voluble about the dire state of the country - what with rampant corruption, cronyism, racism, "Ketuanan Melayu",  the rising cost of living, the much-hated GST,  the kleptocrat leaders and of course Rosmah Mansor's shoes and pink diamonds: the country was going to the dogs!!!!

But what's new?  Other richer countries, with laudable records on freedom, equality, LGBT and human rights were also having problems especially those at the lower rungs of the ladder.  Low wages, benefit-cuts, a creaky NHS (National Health Service), high prices of food and other domestic goods, unaffordable houses, and 3 million immigrants from Eastern Europe  flooding their country.

We went to several Open Houses this Syawal and this time, no one wanted to talk about politics, the economy,  about life in Malaysia Baru: about unfulfilled promises, racism, "Shameless and lazy Melayu",  rising cost of food, petrol, transport etc; all the ills that plagued the people before GE 14.  We revisited the home of a Datuk, a highly-educated liberal, who, four years ago, declared that Najib Razak should be shot!  Today, he did not seem too elated and enamoured with  the downfall of his nemesis or the substitutes!   Some of those we met preferred to chat about their umrahs (past and future), about spending Ramadan in the Holy Land and of future group tours of Scandinavia to see the Aurora Borealis.  In fact the Orthodontist who was doing a root-canal job on the spouse, was telling Iain that Brexit is bad  - that Britain should remain in the European Union??!!?   Her main fear was for her property in Bayswater, London.  Tenants would be scarce (well, not as easy-peasy as before), property in London will not be able to maintain its mouth-watering prices and the Sterling is falling!  The same gripes that Malaysians were making before GE 14.

At 75, I have become even more cynical about people, politics, about my bangsa Melayu -  the nonagenarians, octogenarians, septuagenarians, sexagenarians, quinquagenarians, quadragenarians, tricenarians and vicenarians.  Even the denarians, busy with stuffing their mouths with junk food; their eyes and brains with their smartphones do not give much room for hope.  Or else I'm just an unabashed, old misanthropist - give me a a four-legged  creature or a feathered denizen of God's earth any day.

We septuagenarians tend to look back (sad and bad?) to happier days of bygone years when we had simple games to play, like collecting scraps of articles and pictures to make a scrapbook. Well, every Friday in Leicester the spouse would pop over to the Co-Op or One Stop Shop to buy the latest TV Weekly.  There are umpteen TV Channels on British TV but 80% of them are junk.

Here's a page to illustrate the 'range' of programmes.  I have specially boxed a programme from Channel 4 (which is a very liberal and 'radical' Station) which for an oldie like me I find quite repulsive and unnecessary.  But then this is what a society who spouts "Me, Me, Me " feel they have the right to express!   Malaysians too have absorbed these values and reckon that free expression is a valid human right and all barriers should be shunted aside.

Of course that programme was scheduled for way past the children's bed time.   But especially in Malay households, their children are still running around at 11 pm.

As for AsH, she  was only interested in  re-runs of Star Trek and old koboi  movies while the spouse was looking out for Documentaries and Gardening programmes.  One can see who is the more cerebral Buchanan!

But I do enjoy snipping and snapping the covers and the titles of my TV Weekly/TV Choice.  (Here I acknowledge TV Weekly/TV Choice as the sources of my Headline-captions).
Sometimes I would use some of them as a book cover for my Recipe Books.

 Book cover for my Recipe Book 8.

But I decided I could utilise some of the Headlines for illustrating postings in my Blog.


1.    Will there be any justice for Muhammad Adib bin Mohd Kassim?

Will this be the only justice that this young firefighter will get from Malaysia Baru ?   from his Tanah Air ?

This is not just a vandalism of a mural but a kick in the teeth for his death in the line of duty, his sacrifice and his family's grief and pain.  Has the untimely death of any other Malaysian, non-bumiputra or bumiputra been treated with such contempt?  Or is this a Signifier of the Brave New Malaysia?

Do you still hold to the belief that "Takkan melayu hilang dari dunia".  The Malays are too enthralled  in knocking the nails into their own coffin.  By the way the coffin was not made by Malays - they bought it from Malay dealers who were given a "special offer".





2.     This was the latest hot topic when I got back to my homeland.   "Takkan pisang berbuah dua kali!!"    Is this an example of what the Prime Minister describes as the shameless Malay (NST 13012018)  or the Malay who has no value system,  or the Malay who lacks honesty and integrity (Malaysian Insider 11092014)?




In the light of the Prime Minister's call for the Malays to unite and join PPBM - the Malays, who have had all kinds of brickbats thrown at them,  except for accusations of being gullible and self-serving - perhaps need some reminders and  context.

"Malays are not trustworthy"

b.     But I certainly agree with this view.


c.     Read:

d.     Read: 

Other than the evil of corruption, do think seriously about nepotism, monopoly (of power and wealth), re-distribution of the national wealth especially the gap between the rich and the poor, and the urban and rural denizens of Malaysia.  The issue of unity involves more than just the Malays.  The unity of Malays and non-Malays is just as crucial - a unity that is not fragmented by language and the varying facets of the education system. Simply adorning yourself with the title Anak  Malaysia or Bangsa Malaysia is a  mere cosmetic change -almost like emulating the Emperor's New Clothes.

Bersih 4 - 2015

e.    But Malays are never short of toadies or kuncu kuncu to broadcast HMV and beat the drums for Malay-bashing.

Look what the  CAT dragged in.


This time Malays (especially FELDA settlers) are compared to a 'lazy breed of cats'!   Our celebrity chef has really put a CAT among the pigeons, talking as if he is the CAT's PYJAMAS and a BARBER'S CAT to boot!

Like the Cat that just swallowed the Canary!

But never fear, there are cats and cats and cats!  There are  the PEDIGREE CATS and KUCING KURAP (ALLEY CAT) just like pedigree chefs and alley cooks.  Don't forget the various types and breed of predatory FAT CATS prowling and caterwauling in Kuala Lumpur, Georgetown and in the cities and big towns in Malaysia.

As for the rest of us benighted Malays which cat best describes us?  Is it the COPY CAT, COOL CAT, SCAREDY CAT, HELL CAT or CATTY CAT?  

HAS THE CAT GOT YOUR TONGUE?  I guess that is the plight for most of our Malays.  Harapkan pagar, pagar makan padi.

Nevertheless, do take comfort from this: A CAT MAY LOOK AT A KING.  A FELDA cat may have low standing but he still has his rights!

But breeding is something that other communities are very, very concerned about.

A lack of breeding!

If  Malaysia goes on having problems of breeding, too much or too little, then our TOM CATS and   KITTY CATS have to start showing more enterprise and imagination in Malaysia Baru.

Thank you IKON Chef  Wan for sounding this CAT's MEOW (which means excellent).



I don't really have much to say about Malaysia's Minister of Defence.  As an ex-teacher I would probably write the above in his Report Card.




I guess this is how a lot of (some) people feel for the Minister of Finance despite .....

But I shall always remember him for articulating such brave words in Brave New Malaysia.

WHAT YOU SEE (Malaysia's Finance Minister) IS WHAT YOU GET!  

We are indeed getting a bellyful of the MOF's 'truthful' shenanigans  with the aid of his lawyer ........

Mr T Thomas has been a busy bee, bending over backwards reforming "60 years of laws" supervising Malaysia's great REFORMATION.  Hallelujah.

Selamat pulang ke Tanah Air.

Start Yodelling Malaysians!

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

We always leave .......

The Two Idiots

We're Leaving Too Fast.

We always leave each other
We're leaving too fast
But when the heart hesitates
It's because love dies.

I leave my beautiful Welsh poppies.

I love poppies because they are not snobs - they will mix with all and sundry.

Poppies  are so open and friendly and here they keep the weedy ragged robin company even though the latter is living on such poor scraps of soil adjoining the shed.

The lavender is such a simple unadorned leafy plant but despite it's plainness it emits a most beautiful and unassuming scent - a favourite of mine and my mum and Zarina's mum as well.  

Despite it's gracious scent, the lavender is quite happy to keep an eye on the spider's babies, but then these little ones are well-behaved and well-disciplined.

If only there are more people like the poppies and lavender!!!!


I will wait night and day
I will wait forever
For you to come back
I will wait.

We know Comot, Socks and Rusty have been spoiled rotten by Osman at Setiawangsa  but I hope they look forward to seeing us again.  Cats are such free spirits and they will happily accept and love anyone (well, most) that is caring and kind.  They will accept ......but, mind you, they will keep their wariness.      Oh yes, they won't be taken in.     Perhaps we Malays can learn something from cats!   

Sleepy heads Comot and Rusty

Day dreaming Socks.

The leaving is difficult but arriving can be good too.


As we're in Leicester, we wish all our brothers-and-sisters-in-Islam everywhere, Eid Mubarak.

Eid Mubarak at Victoria Park Leicester, Tuesday 4 May 2019.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

A Lefty Liberal's Lament

                                      A  LEFTY  LIBERAL'S  LAMENT

                                          (Musings from the Spouse, illustrated by AsH)

I am an old-fashioned lefty liberal.  At 76 years of age, I have clung all my adult life to a rag-bag of good intentions and easy theories, acquired mostly in the comfy sixties, about internationalism, socialism, multi-culturalism, and humanism.  Some of these ideas have been discarded by most of my world; others have been resurrected - usually in a modern, and barely recognizable, shape.

I have stuck to my guns.  I grew up in Africa (we had to leave South Africa because my father criticised apartheid); I married a Malay girl from Singapore/Malaysia, and my son is half-Chinese; I have good friends from a dozen cultures, four different religions, and four different races; and I enjoy music and food  from every continent.  I marched against apartheid in New Zealand, wrote against the Vietnam War in Singapore, and in London I marched against war in Palestine, Gaza, Bosnia and Iraq.

But nothing, absolutely nothing, prepared me for the Romanians.

Some said they were Roma; some said they were Muslims from Bosnia - because the women wore long skirts and scarves.    We noticed them begging in the streets - one woman, I remember, came up to me cradling a plastic doll wrapped in a shawl.  Then about five years ago, they started moving into our street.    Soon, there were five families along our stretch of road.  Perhaps these too were Roma, I thought: they were generally short and darker-skinned than most, and the women were all dressed alike - long skirts, scarves around their hair.

It was then the trouble started.  Children would come up to us demanding money.  The young woman next door came up to me asking for cigarettes.  At Halloween, we had Romanian children ringing our doorbell for "trick or treat" - the first time this had happened to us in the 40 years we'd lived in Leicester.  The doorbell would  be rung at all hours of the night - until we disconnected it - and footballs kept thumping against our front windows.  I was screamed at by one young boy when I asked him to stop kicking the ball at our house, and my wife had racist abuse hurled at her by two others.  Every evening, people young and old would gather outside our front window, and sit on our front steps, eating sunflower seeds and showering the pavement with the shucks.  And they never seemed to go to bed.

So the street manifestly suffered.  Within a couple of years, the corner house opposite us had all its ground floor windows boarded up.  Fly-tipping became a permanent feature: ransacked  (and pinched)  charity-shop bags of clothes, children's toys, old home appliances and packaging of new home appliances, bottles and drink cans, heaps of broken furniture, mountains of old carpet, paint tins, car parts, split bags of old food, and much else besides.  Further up the road, abandoned cars started appearing.

Romania joined the European Union in 2007 and in 2014, restrictions on Romanians' rights to work in UK were lifted. By 2017 there were 411,000 Romanians in Britain, a jump of 25% from 2016.  In 2015 the house opposite us had two glass ground floor windows - with the pavement beneath one of these a site for fly tipping by the new neighbours.

By 2018, both of the windows were boarded up.  It's easy to make a connection between the plight of the occupant of the corner house and the unsupervised football games on the street of our new neighbours' children.

So as not to make ourselves a hostage to fortune, we decided to change to stronger PVC double glazed windows in 2016 which set us back by £400.

Aaahh children, and our neighbours' children, what would our future be without them?  This is one solution suggested by a restaurant in Market Street, Leicester, 2017.

And this was all just in front of the house.  Through the living room walls we had a never-ending chorus of shouting people, thumping feet, and slamming doors - I pitied the landlord when he discovered the damage.  Some (though not all) Sundays we had religious services, complete with a speaker system, going for an hour or two.  When Pope Francis was inaugurated, a three-hour long service went on into the early morning.  Such occasional piety I don't mind - but when the pattern of behaviour is frequent and unrelenting ... then I do mind.

But what about the back of the house?  Presumably to extend the living space, our neighbours built a lean-to kitchen in the back yard, covering the entire yard with bitumen sheeting and plastic - and from this, on many a weekend, would come a clatter of pots and pans well into the early morning.  Perhaps, because of this al fresco kitchen, rats started to appear in our backyard.

But the real problem at the back was that our neighbours no longer had a shed for their clutter.  Gradually, our private access path took on the role.  Soon, we were unable to open our back gate to put out our wheelie bin.  We asked our neighbours to remove their rubbish: initially, they demanded we put out our bin through the entry of our other neighbour - which would have involved lifting it over the party wall; they eventually agreed to clear things, and we had access for two months.  Then the rubbish started to reappear.  We asked again.  The same thing happened once more.  We gave up.

That was almost four years ago.

These photos, taken from the other side of our back gate were taken only because a neighbour two doors away was doing renovation work and had left the side door to the street unbolted.

The view in April 2018 from our side : before (image 3) and after (image 4).  Now our wheelie bin's freedom of movement has been restored!!

But our problems at the rear of the house were not just about access.  From our neighbour's upstairs window we have had a shower of lighted cigarette butts, drink containers, paper tissues and Pampers thrown in our direction.  Over the years, hundreds of cigarette butts have landed in our yard - we only need a long hot summer and some dead leaves against our garden shed ......

From the rear window (on the right), our back yard was peppered with cigarette butts and a paraphernalia of rubbish, including Pampers, by courtesy of our neighbours from the European Union.

And it's not only our immediate neighbour.  We have had three letters from the railway company demanding settlement of unpaid fares.  From the name, we know the Romanian culprit lives in number 57 - he gave our address to put the authorities off his scent.  


Lest I be accused of picking on Romanians, let me say two things very clearly.  Firstly, I am reporting my experience of every single Romanian I have ever met.  So perhaps there are nice Romanians, and one day I will meet them.  Secondly, no, it's not just Romanians.  For some years, our next door neighbours were Polish.  They were noisy and arrogant.  One wanted to buy our car, and soon after we said it was not for sale all four tyres were slashed.  On another occasion, I watched the same neighbour bring an old TV set to the front of our house and throw it bodily onto our front step.  We were terrified.  There was a time, too, when a walk down Evington Road risked bumping into drunk and thuggish East Europeans who certainly seemed to be Polish: I was accosted four times by such people, all demanding money, in the space of a year.  

So maybe it's just Eastern Europe.  And maybe Brexit is, for many people like me, an understandable gut reaction to foreign tyrants on our streets and in our midst.

One thing I am sure about: it is nothing to do with racism.  These thugs are all white, they are all European, they are all Christian.  I wish, I so wish, all my neighbours were Bangladeshi, Pakistani, or Indian.


 The week before last, a Mercedes SUV tore round a corner onto our road and landed on top of a neighbour's parked car.   The time was 8.50 on a Sunday (19 May) morning; the driver was the teenage son of one of our Romanian neighbours, well over the alcohol limit.

Pile up on the road.

Pile up from our window.

Five days later, on a road we can see from the window, a gang of men attacked a house with iron bars, planks, and bricks, smashing all the doors and windows.    A video of the event appeared in the local paper.   Three Romanians were arrested.    

We all voted the following day.                                                                                                                                                        ----------------------------------------------

The photographs and comments in blue are by courtesy of Mrs AsH Buchanan.

On 23 May 2019  Ash and her two favourite codgers, Iain and Jack went a-voting.

Note our choice: seventh from the top.  We have had enough!!!!

On Sunday 25 May came the denouement.

The Result

The reference to the different Political Parties.

But, being the wise, cynical old fogies that we are, we are aware that  the problems of living in our neighbourhood will not improve.  Fortunately we are from the baby boomers generation - our days are limited.


For more whys and wherefores, read ...;postID=4721777678333701863;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=73;src=postname