Thursday, 21 May 2015

Damned if you do, damned if you don't - Malaysia's dilemma.

The spectacle of  'boat-people' stranded in the Andaman Sea brought on a sense of deja vu from 40 years ago.

In 1975, the Viet Cong defeat of the Americans led to an exodus of South Vietnamese 'collaborators' and 'sympathizers' to the United  States - initially mainly the well-educated and wealthy Vietnamese - totaling about 125,000.

The second wave began in 1978.   These were the 'boat people' , who were poorer and not as well-educated as the first wave.  They were mainly Vietnam's Chinese, 'long distrusted by the native Vietnamese'.  They were under pressure  because they had to leave their urban homes to go into the rural 'new economic zones' as labourers - and they feared being drafted into the army.  When China attacked Vietnam in 1979, the pressure got even stronger.  The Government imposed 'exit permits' costing about $3000 for those who chose to leave.  But there were many others, both Chinese and Vietnamese, who left sans exit permits because they could not bear the food shortages and living under Communist rule.    [The same scenario if the Malayan Communist Party had 'won' in Malaya?]  

On that journey thousands died as a result of water and food shortage, of drowning and attacks from pirates.  The survivors landed in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Hong Kong. 

Malaysia bore the brunt, because the Peninsula was the boat people's 'first line of  approach'. The east coast states of Trengganu, Kelantan and Pahang, - the poorest states of the Peninsula -  were deluged by flotillas of 'boat-people' landing on their shores. The boat people were coming at the rate of 65,000 a month.    While Thailand was able to send Cambodian refugees escaping Pol Pot's regime back into their homeland,  Malaysia had no such option, she had no common land border with Vietnam or Cambodia.  

The boat people who first landed in 1978 created a 'crisis problem' of 20 years for Malaysia. Malaysia was designated as a 'nation of first asylum',  Refugee camps for Vietnamese and Cambodians were set up in Pulau Bidong  (with 42,000).   "By the time Bidong was closed as a refugee camp on 30 October 1991, about 250,000 Vietnamese had passed through or resided in the camp "  (Wikipedia). Other camps were located at Sungai Besi (1975-1996) and Pulau Tengah.  On the departure of the refugees in 1981, Pulau Tengah, - endowed with beautiful reefs and where leatherback turtles lay their eggs - was declared a marine park.

According to Bram Steen, UNHCR Malaysia, 240,000 Vietnamese refugees from Malaysia had been resettled in third countries and  9,000 others opted to return to Vietnam'.

Check :

While Malaysia was stretching over backwards to provide transit camps for the refugees, she also co-operated with the UNHCR to facilitate their repatriation to third countries like USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK and even Israel.  This task took nearly 20 years.  It was not smooth sailing for Malaysia. The bouquets went to the receiving Western countries.  The brickbats were reserved for Malaysia - and especially from Australia.  The latter even made a movie to castigate Malaysia's attitude towards the boat people.  I refer to the movie Turtle Beach (1992).
From Wikipedia
From Wikipedia

I suppose those who were still twinkles in their fathers' eyes during that period  know little or nowt about the social and political problems that Malaysia had to deal with in being the "nation of first asylum" -  including the self- righteous and hypocritical whining of the British and Australians.

When people  opt to migrate, to leave their homeland for another,  two factors are involved - "push" and "pull".     One could say that Chinese immigration from 150 years ago into Malaya and Singapore was based on the the push factor of escaping poverty and the aftermath of wars in China. Unlike present day refugees from Afghanistan, African states south of the Sahara, Iraq and Syria, immigrants from China had an easier rite of entry.  They were needed and welcomed by the British Imperial authority who enabled and encouraged them to start a new life in the Semenanjung and Singapore with the option of returning home whenever they felt like doing so.

Zhonghandi - The late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's ancestral home in Guangdong Province built by his great-grandfather Li Muwen in 1884 with money he had earned in Singapore.
Read :
From Malayan Reader Book 3 - a scene from the 1920s to 1940s.
Because of the positive and profitable experience of life in the Malay States, the pull  factor further encouraged the migration from China

From Story of Malaya and her Neighbours by Philip Nazareth

The moral is obvious.     Malaya - and Malaysia - have an honourable history of taking in migrants.   Which brings us to the most recent case of "boat people" on Malaysian shores.   In this case, a clear demarcation must be made between economic migrants from Bangla Desh ("pull") and political refugees from Myanmar ("push"). According to a UNHCR statement on 17 May, only 400 of the 1,000 boat people who landed in Langkawi waters  were Rohingya refugees.  The status of the Rohingyas as political refugees is clear cut.  Boat people from Bangla Desh, however, are a very different matter.  If they want to work in Malaysia or Thailand or Indonesia they, unlike the Rohingyas, have the facility and the means to apply through the proper channels like many of their kinsmen in Malaysia.

According to an article in The Australian (11 May 2011) :  "The Rohingya ....  are the second largest group from Burma to flee to Malaysia.  Denied full citizenship, education and travel rights in their native state, where they are routinely harried and harassed, there is little they can do to improve their lot bar leaving their homes for an unsure reception elsewhere.
Refugees International claimed ..... the Rohingya were one of the most persecuted groups in the world.  At least 200,000 have fled from Burma to neighbouring Bangla Desh, where only about one-tenth are recognised as refugees by Bangladesh's government and where most live in squalor.

What are Malaysia's options?  Malaysia is  already  'home' to more than 90,000 refugees and asylum seekers, mostly the mistreated Christian Chins and the even more persecuted Muslim Rohingyas. There are the others like those from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Sri Lanka. Besides these numbers, there are an estimated (a conservative one) 1.5 million people who are "undocumented migrants" mainly labourers from Indonesia.

Most certainly, those stranded on board their boats must be given food and water and medical treatment.   As for landing .... well, that is the nub of the matter - as Australia knows only too well ....

Furthermore : "The Canberra government, which is determined to prevent asylum-seekers from arriving on its shores by boat after a hazardous journey across the Indian Ocean, has warned the protestors they will never be allowed to live in Australia.         Peter Dutton the new Australian Immigration Minister reiterated that there would be 'no softening of Australian policy', that the government maintains 'absolute resolve' that such refugees would 'never arrive in Australia'.

Read :

For Malaysia, then, it is a double damnation: damned if you do, damned if you don't.   The Malaysian dilemma needs to be analysed in terms of the larger context, of the global displacement of people by wars, poverty and extremism.

Malaysia only needs to observe how the Christian-Caucasian founts of human rights deal with the problem.     Our bleeding heart defenders of human rights - always so quick to follow Western strictures against Malaysia - could learn a little from European and North American policy and resolutions with regard to migrants - and especially the boat people problem.  They cannot expect Malaysia to be "whiter than white', so to speak.

BUT, there is one stark difference between the plight of the Mediterranean boat people and the one in Southeast Asia.  The former is almost entirely the making of the western world  - the political and economic breakdown of the African states, the War on Terror in the Muslim Middle East and  the pursuit of the Arab Spring in Libya.  It's a case of "the chickens coming home to roost".  However, the main perpetrator of this chaos, the USA has somehow been cushioned from facing culpability.

In the case of the Rohingyas,  Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia bear no responsibility.  The crisis is entirely the creation of Myanmar's extremist political and religious policy.  Those crusaders for elections and a government based on human rights in Myanmar, celebrities like Aung San Suu Kyi should be persuaded to now turn their liberal intentions to stopping the persecution of the Rohingyas.

As for El Dorado Europe, now facing daily the problem of poor and desperate people crossing the Mediterranean in their thousands trying to get in, is it any surprise that they are now turning to their kinsmen from down under for a solution? ....

One brain wave and trend setter from Australia

Another brain wave, this time from the European Union.

In the past week or so, the print and electronic media in UK have been giving a lot of publicity to the boat-people in the Andaman Sea, as they have with the situation in the Mediterranean.  But embedded in it is a touch of giving Malaysia a 'ticking off ' - almost a re-hash of the criticisms made by Malaysia's human rights brigade.

As a matter of interest, Christian Chins from Myanmar who are stuck in a "ghetto of sorts in Kuala Lumpur's Imbi district" can draw hope from the success of their fellow-Christian Myanmar refugees, the Karens. They (170 Karens ) are happily settled in a small town ( population 2,300) in Victoria (Australia) where they contribute $41m benefit to the local economy working at a local poultry producer Luv-a-Duck.

Australia has this warning for immigrant hopefuls from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Syria etc.

But there's hope for a select group of people.

From Reuters 7 August 2014

And the British Government (ever ready to learn from Australia?) has just announced exactly the same policy.
                                              *              *             *            *            *

Forty years ago, when Malaysia had to provide refugee camps for Vietnamese boat people, they fought and got the assurance from western countries that these refugees will be repatriated to third countries and/or return to Vietnam.  The Myanmar government have denied any responsibility.  It is obvious that 'third party' countries that are richer than Malaysia will not offer asylum to the Rohingyas.  They are all suffering from 'compassion fatigue' - they just have too much "collateral damage" to deal with - and the EC is well on the way to turning itself into Fortress Europe.

Above all, Malaysia still  has to sort out their present problem of over 1.5 million refugees, asylum seekers and  illegal migrant workers!!

Let the experts deal with the solution - people like Lilianne Fan (a Bangkok- based expert on humanitarian and conflict issues in Asia, research associate at the humanitarian policy group of the UK's Overseas Development Institute), Charles Santiago (Chair of Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights, a coalition of lawmakers advocating for fundamental rights in Southeast Asia), David Mane (Executive Director of the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre, Australia and principal solicitor and migration agent) and Jeff Labowitz ( Chief of mission, International Organisation for Migration, Thailand).  See :

Whatever suggestions are made by these experts and other pontificators;  some people, some organisations, some countries will have to put their money where their mouth is.


Friday, 8 May 2015

A-voting we will go, a-voting we will go .....

Just returned from doing my duty as a PR in the spouse's motherland.

The sky was  grey all day .......

....... not a good omen for getting a strong, gung-ho, no-nonsense government.

I did not do too well either at the polling station because I made a blunder .......


.............  trying to take a photo when the camera was set for movie mode.

This election is a three-in-one - you vote for your City Councillors, the City Mayor and your Member of Parliament.  The most important is the election of your MP - in this case -  for Leicester South.

PS.  Don't be confused by the 'Hadji' in the Conservative candidate's name.  He's of Greek-Cypriot origin - he's not a Muslim.

Of course the big boys (and girl as in SNP's Nicola Sturgeon) have been hogging our news on radio and TV - most of the time slinging mud at each other, telling porky pies and making promises they will not and cannot keep.

From "The Independent"

In this land which is reputed to be the 'Mother of all Parliaments',  and an important fount of democracy, the populace have no faith in, and no truck with, politicians and political parties.  The prediction is for a  'hung' Parliament because the big  Political Parties are equally trusted and mistrusted.

So what's so wonderful about Democracy?

For Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), democracy is  "Government of the people, by the people, for the people".  It begs the question - which people?  The establishment did not take long to indict and put on trial the "Boston Bomber".  What about the perpetrators of these "mistakes'  made by the forces of law and order in the USA?

For Britain's greatest war hero, Sir Winston Churchill  (1874-1965) :  " No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise.  Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time".

To quote the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew when he was the opposition leader  in 1955  " But we either believe in democracy or we do not.  If we do , then, we must say categorically without qualification, that no restraint from the any (sic)democratic processes, either than by the ordinary law of the land, should be allowed ..................  If you believe that men should be free, then, they should have the right of free association, of free speech, of free publication."  (From Lee Kuan Yew Watch)

Then in 1997, in The Man and His Ideas, 1997,  " You're talking about Rwanda or Bangla Desh, or Cambodia, or the Philippines.  They've got democracy, according to Freedom House.  But have you got a civilized life to lead?  People want economic development first and foremost.  The leaders may talk something else.  You take a poll of any people.  What is it they want?  The right to write an editorial as you like?  They want homes, medicine, jobs, schools."   (From Lee Kuan Yew Watch)

Unfortunately the first three countries mentioned above have not had a good stock of advantages to capitalise upon, like Singapore.  Unlike Singapore, they have been battered by long periods of bloody wars and and they did not inherit a substantial economic legacy like that bequeathed upon Singapore from UK, the island's former rulers.

In UK the  practice of democracy does include a modicum of 'civilized life' and "the right to write an editorial as you like."

But the provision of "bread' alone is not enough.  An overall provision of a good life as in UK and Singapore does not bode well if there's  increasing inequality between the rich and the poor.

In Singapore, 11.4% of the population are millionaires - the highest concentration of millionaires in the world.  But , while the bottom 10% of the population had a monthly income of SGD1,400: those at the top 10% had an income of SGD23,684.
 See  :

In UK, according to a May 2014 report, the top 10% own 44% of household wealth, and five rich families in the country have the same wealth as 12 million people.
See :

So, what is an Election for?

Milliband (Labour) says  "Britain only succeeds when all its working people succeed."  Cameron (Conservative) declares  "The choice is clear. You can vote for a stable economy, or financial ruin."  As for Clegg (Liberal Democrat) he promises this platitude, "We will bring a heart to a Tory Government."

For AsH and spouse, who have a stake in this country, who pay our Income Tax and Council Tax, who are buffetted by the rising cost of water and electricity and gas and TV Licence and enduring the grief of living with 'new' (and very inconsiderate) East European immigrants as neighbours - who do we vote for?  Our choice is determined  by "who do we not vote for?"  That's not much of a choice, is it?

Have a good laugh .  The Election madness is over - for the next five years.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Akim - 29 April 1949 - 21 September 1982

Thirty three years ago  .........

..........  "you left me standing here".

When you were born at Pasir Panjang Road - on this day today -  sixty-six years ago .........

.......  the mak bidan said to Emak in a matter-of-fact way: budak 'ni tak panjang umur.  She had recognised the signs when she delivered you.  Emak told me this a few days after you passed away and never will I reveal the indicators of the prophecy.  Here's our brave mother holding the fourth joy of her life just a few days after you were born.

No wonder she was so protective over you.

Emak was just 59 when she lost you.  But even though she had very little asohan ugama her faith saw her through this ordeal until she passed away in 1997 when she was 74.

On this day I want to record my happy memories of you - so that cucusihamid and cicitsihamid  will get to know and remember you better.

Firstly, there was Akim, the artist.

I think this was where you began to show signs of your artistic streak.

The little house at 691 Pasir Panjang Road aka Akim's Art Gallery.
Whenever we made a (very necessary) visit to this mini abode we were presented with an exhibition of your art work on the inside door. When you ran out of space you tried to expand to the side walls - but we knew you would need some acrobatic skills to do so!

During primary school at Pasir Panjang English School - your talent was recognized.

An Art Prize for Mustakim bin Hamid of Primary IC (1956)

I also found this textbook of yours after you moved on to Pasir Panjang Secondary School.

In it was the usual proprietary marker ....

........ and an additional illustration which I discovered late last year at Setiawangsa when I was browsing through my collection of books.  What a joy it was!  You are a scalawag!

Mustakim wishing his textbook was on TV.

I think this was due to the influence of TV - we were all agog with the introduction of RTS  (Radio Television Singapore) in 1963.

Maznoor and Mustakim at 58, Jalan Mas Kuning,  transfixed :
 watching  Peyton Place on TV in 1967.
I still keep this 1969 psychedelic illustration you made for me on my YISS (Yusof Ishak Secondary School) file.

Here's another masterpiece which (I think) you made for Mus's hitch hike journey back to Hull from London  in 1982.  I'm so happy that you two found each other - as brothers - in a foreign country. This gave so much meaning and comfort to  Mus when you left us forever in  September1982.

Mustakim in his bedsitter at Kilburn.

You may be in the world's most exciting city .....

Akim's photograph of Nelson's Column, 1982.

........ but your heart longed for home in Boon Lay.

"If I could see B. Lay from the top , I'd climb the monument".

Our whole family adored cats - something we picked up from Abah's genes.  Two of our cats - Puss and Dajal - waited for Abah to come home from work before they took their last breath.  I can never forget how you put your head  on the kitchen floor in the Boon Lay kitchen, next to Kookie, and cried as you held him. I had to take Kookie to the Vet, to be put to 'sleep', to save him from more pain because of his renal failure.

Kookie (on the left) and Suzie.

 Cats and cats - that was what we had in common.

Loving cats started early for Akim.

Mustakim's sister  (at16)  and Tina.

Mustakim's sister (at 71) and Stanley in Jack's garden 3 days ago.

And here's your collage (from the late '70s) to illustrate the power of women.  I somehow believe you did this tongue-in-cheek.  You've always had a wry sense of humour!

"The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world".

We had a good laugh - when you suggested how you could protect me from burglars at night - when we were sharing a 'flat' at  10, Royal Road.  You would place your shoes outside my door - to scare off possible intruders!!!

But someone else who is now my hero-protector - someone I dearly wish you could have met - your second brother-in-law added this for my self-defense.

What more could I ask?  A pair of men's shoes and a badge of  macho-femalehood!

Dear Akim,  you will always and forever be in my heart and in my prayers. On this day I write this little tribute for a beloved brother,  taken too soon but loved and remembered for always.

Al Fatihah.


A Brother Remembers

Mustapha & Mustakim - two nerdy brothers at 691, Pasir Panjang Road  1956(?)

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid at Singapore Botanical Garden  1954/1955 (?)

Thank you Mus.

                                               Terry Scott - My Brother

Friday, 24 April 2015

Alvin - A serenade for Ah Bin

This video I hope will bring a degree of  meaning and explanation to Ah Bin's and his cronies'  (the Ah Kows' ) raison d'etre.

Just to add a bit more punch, here's a little comment from Mah Lai Kwai.  (It is written mostly in Singlish - a hybrid language of Sino-Singapore-English.  It is also the 'lingua franca' in Malaysia).

Mah Lai Kwai says:

Aiyaah Ah Bin why you soo..  ah beng one?   Why this video show you topless - you a reel attention seeker.

You want people to see your body becos you tink you can look like Bruce Lee ah ....

  .... or mebbe now you run away to 'Melika you want to show off like the ang mo Aidan Turner - throbbing heart throb from Engerland.

You want to know how Aidan Turner got  that rippling muscles?  He say he use special " baby oil".  He no need go to gym - orso he never eat 'Bak Kut Teh.  You remember how you recommend this to Muslim?

You so terok, lah.  Muslim cannot eat pork, not like you, who can eat anything that got 4 legs ... and moves.

You know or not, when you pose with no shirt on, you don't show respect to your forefathers who come to Malay country from Tongsua, to work and make and save money.

 You know how your forefathers work so hard, and build up a prosperous life for your parents and you - so dat you can afford to escape and live in 'Melika?

Now you make fun of Muslim  Azan.  You forgot ah?  You so 'chickopet', so 'hamsab' you make  sexy video of you and your girlfriend  until Singapore government take away your scholarship.

Alvin Tan :  The former Asean Scholar was stripped of his scholarship after he posted sexually explicit photos of himself and his girlfriend in an online blog in October 2012.  The National University of Singapore (NUS) law student who is a Malaysian, also earned himself a semester's suspension for the brazen acts.  Mr Tan did not complete his law studies.

You really one kind - sooo typical - the kind my office people call the shit-stirrer.  Long ago, in Singapore, we have the night soil man who work clearing the 'jamban' .

The Jamban

The Night Soil Man - from Wikipedia

With you, only one difference - the night-soil man do public service and remove the shit.  You only stir and stir the same bucket of sai.  No wonder you cannot finish your law degree!

You tink you want to be 'hero' - like "Je suis Ah Bin" !!

I hope my Muslim friends in Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia 'boh chap' this sicko. 

Now you live in 'Melika you watch your step. You give dem trouble, where you want to run?  (Hey what passport you carry ah?)

 Remember how you so happy to go to 'melika, you publish picture of yourself, naked except for the red nappy  - like a selfie - next to Statue of Liberty?

Well, Alvin, be careful.... even 'melika not always so chin chai man!

A 19th century cartoon of a Chinaman with pigtail taking over the Statue of Liberty 

Kam sia,

L. K. Mah


Back to Ash

Thank you Mah Lai Kwai.

Muslims in Malaysia  can expect many more wannabe  "Je suis Ah Bin" on You Tube and other websites.

Just keep calm, don't get yourself hyperventilated by jibes from this yellow culture.



boh chap  -  can't be bothered

angmo  -  caucasian

malaikwai  -  a pejorative term used by Chinese (in Singapore and Malaysia) for Malays.  There's also                        angmokwai (red face devil) for  Caucasians and kalingkwai for Indians.

ah beng  -  a stereotype of young Chinese men in Singapore and Malaysia.  It's like the term 'Mat' for                   young Malay men and 'chav' for the English.

chickopet and hamsab   -  a flirt and a dirty old/young man whose brain is located in the groin area.

kam sia  -  thank you

sai  -  faeces

cin cai  - relaxed and easy going

yellow culture  -   the late Lee Kuan Yew described any form of culture that is non-Asian as 'yellow'                                during the early days of Singapore's independence.  I remembered when the song                                  "Puff, the magic dragon"  by Peter, Paul, and Mary was banned as a result of Lee's                                 'cleansing'.  However the reference to 'yellow' has many other meanings.  It can                                     mean 'cowardly' or when used with the banana, it refers to a westernized                                              Chinese - yellow on the outside and white on the inside.

bak kut teh  -  pork bone tea soup

And talking of pork and pigs ......

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Musings - Melayu tidak memegang janji

 These images below explain the long hiatus in my postings.

My constant friend

My constant ( for the last six weeks) enabler.

From my constant spouse - comestibles like nasi goreng kampung.

But just as constant is the black news about the shenanigans of  Malaysian politics and of Malay politicians at home which only serve to cripple the rakyat, especially the Malays.  Harapkan pagar, pagar makan padi.  

It was my abah who, - when I was growing up in Singapore, often reminded me - "Orang Melayu kuat dengki sesama sendiri.   Rela naikkan lain bangsa untuk menurunkan bangsa sendiri.  I have lived and worked long enough in three Malay countries - Singapore, Brunei and Penang - to experience this foible.    No, 'foible'  is not a strong enough word - it should be 'sickness', a canker that eats at the heart and spirit of a people known to be gentle, easy-going and tolerant.  Our previous imperial masters regarded the Malays as backward and unambitious.  Today, after 58 years of  Merdeka, they have discarded  unambitious for greedy and envious: backward for  "progressive liberalism" ........

..... and  alim-ummah.

Now a septuagenarian, I look back and I reckon the most sincere and steadfast friend I ever had was......

My best friend Sim L.L. and AsH  stepping on Greenwich Meridian, 1975

............ my Chinese girl friend, Sim L. L.  She recognised my frustration and dissatisfaction as a Malay Graduate teacher in Singapore and she advised me to leave for Malaysia where I will have a better future.  She would do the same if she had been a Malay.  ( But I left for Brunei instead.).

Malays today - be they belacan Malays or mayonnaise Malays or tahini Malays must take heed of the sincere and honest voices of people like Helen Ang and Ridhuan Tee who are concerned enough for their country to remind the Malays that they must keep together.

Can our 21st century Malays learn from this simple gesture of unity that the Chinese uphold for their bangsa?

The Chinese in China, like Indians in India, or the Brits in UK will not cut themselves up - despite their political and social differences - in the way that the Malays are doing to themselves in their Tanah-Air.  One country, one culture, one religion and what keeps them apart is the loss of their sense of Malayness - greed, envy, conceit and self-righteousness have taken over asohan budi.

Asohan budi .... once upon a time, that had such meaning for the Malays.      And once upon a time, it seems, Malay parents forgot that meaning .... and forgot to pass it on.


The following aspects of 'Budi' are from my collection of dictionaries that hark back to the 1960s.

1. From

1963 - 5th Edition



What is missing among present-day Malays is " bangsa Melayu yang budiman".


Terang bulan dan bintang pun berchahaya.
Duduk termenung memikirkan kita.
Pikirkan tuan yang jauh di mata.
Sampai hati meninggalkan saya.

Translate kita as negara ku: tuan as tanah air and meninggalkan saya as membelot bangsa!!!