Monday, 27 February 2017

Rainy Days and Mondays

It's been a funny old day - pelting rain followed by the gentle drip, drip drip of a a smoochy lazy morning.

We ponteng  (played truant) our usual Monday appointment at Tung Shin Hospital because we could not bear to face KL traffic on a morning like this and it seemed like a better idea to go to Diva Restaurant up the hill for breakfast and watch the rain falling while scoffing our roti canai, roti telur, teh tarik and kopi susu.

Even our three cats chose to stay at home on this melancholy day.

A melancholy cat, TC (That Cat) passing the time of day on a melancholy morning

As kids, we used to hate rainy Monday mornings.  The bed says 'stay!' while Mak is yelling "Bangun, pegi sekolah!"    It's such a palaver getting to school - you have to keep your spanking clean and white Monday shoes in the school bag and trudge in squelching slippers for about half a mile to get to Pasir Panjang Primary School from Kampung Abu Kassim.

No rucksacks  during our school days! I do believe our right arms grew to be longer than the left because of the weight we carried.

On rainy days, - other than our reluctant selves - our shoes and schoolbag, have to be kept dry.  It was quite an acrobatic feat to tuck your schoolbag under your raincoat and carry on walking to school.  And so, your mind wanders to all the other wonderful fun you could have on such a rainy day.

.... you could play in it, if you wanted to, from morning to night.

No,we're both too old to play in the rain.  We could do it I suppose.  But we have just got over our infection and we'll be courting trouble if  we misbehave in this wonderful rain.

So we decided to do something daring.  We bought a newspaper!!  This news of a JOHOR HOUSING SCAM was on the front page.

However I would not describe this as simply a scam.  'SCAM' is such a lightweight word to describe  fraud, thievery, deceit , robbery, rapacity, swindle, dishonesty, cheating and larceny.   As a Malay, I would label the  participation of  the Malays in this crime as  treachery, betrayal, treason and downright DOSA.   Perhaps I should delete the last noun as I am just a former teacher and cannot claim sufficient knowledge of the definition and delineations of  DOSA ,  or PAHALA  - for that matter

Other than despairing at the fate of my Abah's Tanah Pusaka ;

..... perhaps I can contribute these little gems to illustrate the Malays' (some)  shameless Ways and Purpose  with the hope that in the future. the PAGAR will not MAKAN  the PADI.

Raffles had no doubt about the predicament of the Malays.  Being the "kind and urbane" man that he was, he made the Malays - who were like possums transfixed in the glare of a headlight - sign an affidavit validating the occupation of Singapura,  with their consent.  (Extract from Raffles of Singapore by Reginald  Coupland)

The consequence is this : -
Kata sahibu 'lhikayat, Singapura/Tumasik  menjadi Singapore.  And the anak Nusantara were re- categorised as immigrants.  Compare the spouse's England:it's the equivalent of labelling the English in Northumberland ( whose ancestors were Vikings) as immigrants - and no different from the Asian and the East European latecomers....

However, today's modern Malays are more sophisticated - just look at their spoils of treachery - fat bank accounts, Mercedes Benz, Bentleys, Porsches, property at home and overseas, luxury handbags and gold watches.  What can you get with an annual income of 5,000 Spanish dollars, at today's prices?  (Extract from Raffles of Singapore by Reginald Coupland) 

But no matter what shape it takes, this is still pork barrel for their benefit and their clients'.

At this present rate, it won't take too long ....

Spoilt for choice.  (From Punch Diary 1973)

.... for our elites, professionals, and ruling class to bleed this country dry and  turn the Malays into a bunch of Putras without the Bumi!

Drip, drip. drip.  It is a melancholy old day.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Hacking Away

Since we got back about 4 weeks ago, a persistent infection that we picked up on the plane has resulted in a hacking cough that could not be shifted, even after two bouts of antibiotics.  We have become as a result, quite antisocial and unproductive in Kuala Lumpur.

Under such circumstances I could only resort to my usual tactic of tidying and sorting out the junk in my work-room.  This never fails to bring some light - some discovery - to a hacker's life.

This I found, tucked in an old brown envelope - a set of sketches on paper now brittle with age - sketches drawn by the spouse in the mid-1970s - way,way before fate threw us together.

Cautious the Cat

This was part of a young dad's foray into story telling at bedtime for his young son.  Each night Keith would listen intently to the adventures of Cautious the Cat. It was not read from a book, his dad Iain would just create the stories as they come into his head.  Little Keith somehow managed to drift away into dreamland by the end of each adventure.  The next night, he would ask and get another exciting story of Cautious the Cat scouting the streets and dustbins, the riverbanks and food centres for food to feed his family.  Lucky Keith!

We were lucky too in our Abah.  In the late 1940s and 1950s, each evening after dinner we would gather in the sitting room (bilik depan)  under the light of a single pressure lamp (lampu pam), reading our books and comics that Abah had got together for us.  It was also the usual time for getting our homework done at the family dining table.  Abah would be reading the newspaper or a book,  Mak would be busy with her sewing and mending .  And in the background could be heard the dulcet voice of a singer on the radio.

Bedtime was at nine or half-past nine.  We would shuffle off into our beds and only the youngest Akim, would give a goodnight kiss to Abah.  There were times when Abah was entertaining visitors and Akim would be nodding his head, half awake and half in slumber waiting for Abah to appear for the  goodnight peck.  None of us dared to approach Abah to inform him that Akim was waiting.  Children were to be seen and not heard!!  It may sound strict, but it never hurt us - especially now when I observe the precocious and rude children that surround present day family life.

But for Keith and Cautious the Cat, dad's story was not just one of fun and games.  Life is more complicated than that and stories should always carry a meaning, a lesson or a moral for young and old alike.  But preaching and finger-pointing morality does not make for a good story either.

Cautious lived in a world where the cards are stacked against him - where the need to feed his family sometimes makes for a dangerous and frantic existence. But, he's cautious, hardworking and honest - traits that every child should be brought up with.

Cautious was a hungry cat, who lived at the bottom end of town.
.......... where even the dustbins were empty.
...... for at the bottom end of town, everyone was hungry
..... and dogs, too  -  just as hungry - and bigger ... and fiercer.

But Cautious and all his mates, who were facing the same fate as him, were aware of other dustbins, bins that were located in the upper end of town.
...... the dustbins must certainly be fuller at the top end of town.

I suppose this fictional representation of a cat's life sketched in a child's story in the 1970s is replicated today in the life of humans ...  some humans .... some humans from some countries.

And like in the nursery rhyme The Crooked Man - there are many out there, men and women who are crooked, who do not walk and live the straight and narrow ..... though they are not confined just to the mature and elderly.

The crooked (Malay) man and more especially after Merdeka in 1957.

But the poor and the destitute - and deplorables (according to Hilary Clinton) will always be with us.

In the same vein, the rich and liberals, the self-serving elites and others who are somehow not-so-deplorable will retain their secured places in society.  What hope is there as envisaged by Mrs Obama during her husband's presidency ....

..... when hope is but a rotting carrot dangled in the face of the deplorables as in Madrid ..

.... or in Obama's home patch in Chicago ..

..... while he cavorts with the super rich.

In our home patch, it has been reported that DBKL employees and Malaysian policemen are deeply in debt trying to emulate the lifestyle of those who can afford such indulgences ...

Would Cautious the Cat, if he lived in these times be able to maintain his probity and dignity?

When times were really hard at the bottom end of town, even the people looked through each other's dustbins .....

....... and Cautious got nothing, at all ...... nor did his friends, and nor did the dogs ......

You see, Cautious who dwells on the surface is quite ignorant about the wiles and connivings of those who live above the ground - those in the higher echelons.  Cats have nothing to do with the monkey business at the top end of the town.

NB  Why are the sketches peppered with copyright labels? Read

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Home Thoughts from a Broad ......

.... just a little play of words on Robert Browning's poem "Home Thoughts from Abroad".

Been back for nearly 2 weeks :  the moggies were happy to see us.

But the spouse was already showing signs of exhaustion.  He succumbed to the infections we picked up on the plane and it ended in this for both of us.

Through the haze of sniffles, sore throats, hacking coughs, fever and headache one's thoughts wander to Victoria Park where the spouse would wander almost every day to feed the gulls.

Walking back home from the Park we also noticed these 'leftovers' on the pavements.
Used capsules of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) - another form of recreational drug for 21st century young denizens.


The 'creativity' of the young in filling up their their hedonistic and high-tech lives are quite amazing -  makes my generation with their ciggies and rock 'n' roll very tame indeed.

But some things remain unchanged.
Hope springs eternal even in Leicester.  We get this through our letterbox very frequently.

This image below - up to 10-15 years ago - is not a typical scene, in where we live in this part of Leicester.
A car from Eastern Europe, all 4 tyres flattened and abandoned.  As it has an East European number plate, the owner /culprit would be very difficult to trace.  When and if it is finally towed away, the Council will have to pay for it.   As it is, this year our Council Tax will be upped by 10%.

Fly tipping, of broken bits of furniture, mattresses, children's bicycles, broken plastic roofing, planks and all sorts of odds and ends have also blighted this residential area - again a recent introduction by our EU brethren.

Still, one has to ....

But bananas in Leicester are tasteless.

Back in Setiawangsa, we discovered a little stall that has a regular supply of my favourite pisang emas.

On the second day of Chinese New Year we decided to get our usual supply of bananas and papayas. But the shop was shut.  As I walked towards the stall selling my favourite pisang goring, I became aware of the openness of the little street and the peaceful, quiet surroundings because there were hardly any cars or motor-bikes.

It was just like walking along the lanes in Kampung Abu Kassim, Pasir Panjang, Singapore 60 years ago.  I felt a bit tearful but I can't blame it entirely on the impending cold. Time and tide can break many a heart!

I went back the next day to snap some pictures, hoping to recapture in Kramat, that bit of my past.

But it was just a wild fancy. This was all I could get. No more rose-coloured spectacles!
Jalan AU 3/12 at 0730.

Remembering a kampung wayside - minus the car and the atap genting.

The moral of my posting : for all those aged from 13 or thereabouts to 40, 50, 60 ; record and remember the scenes that make up the tapestry of your being before it's too late.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

To be or not to be - an Octopus?, a Frog? a Parrot?

While doing my spring cleaning (in winter) and ferreting through my books and files, I discovered a posting I had prepared in November 2015 but forgotten to publish.

I discovered it while leafing through an old notebook :


MY MISPLACED POSTING: Drafted on 15 November 2015.

Ringo Starr sang about wanting to be "in an octopus's garden in the shade .....

.... in a little hideaway beneath the waves.  We would be so happy you and me, no one there to tell us what to do".

For the past four weeks  I've been yearning for such a hideout.

Even if that is too much to ask for us two septuagenarians, we would be just as relieved to live the life of two frogs under a coconut shell - to be ignorant and unaffected by life outside the shell and its ensuing ordinances.

If I had been a frog :

I would be forever ignorant about the interplay of Man's Law and God's Law. Standing in the dock in front of where I was seated in the Syariah Court were a couple, aged in their late thirties or early forties, on trial for not registering their marriage in Malaysia.  She was a Malaysian and he was an Indonesian but also a Malaysian PR.  They were married according to God's Law in Central Java, but they failed to comply with Man's Law in Malaysia and so they were fined MYR 1000 each or face a jail sentence.  The husband made a plea for a reduction of his wife's fine and they were then given a discount of  MYR 50 each.  

From their demeanour and their dressing, they could easily be the husband and wife selling kuih kuih, nasi lemak and mee goring at a roadside stall in Setiawangsa, Wangsa Maju, or any KL suburb - eking out a meagre living in the 'grey' economy.

But Man's Law must take its course and this couple had to face the full brunt of the ruling of the Syariah  Court.  What if they were rich and well-connected?? I reckon, Man's Law will prevail again, this time on the side of the privileged.

When it was all over, the wife sat next to me in the women's section of the Court Room.  I was quite shattered at their plight and hesitated to give her a sympathetic glance - to let her know how I felt for her.  But she took the initiative and gave me a smile, a wan smile, but still a sweet smile despite her travail.

Days afterwards, whenever I recall the situation of that couple in the dock, it made my heart ache and it was so difficult to keep back the anger and tears - tears of sorrow for them, tears of shame for the religious diktat that imposed this punishment.

The spouse and I: we do not think fast enough on our feet - we berated ourselves for not catching up with them immediately to offer some kind of help. We were willing to part with MYR 990 to neuter a sick stray cat, to hospitalize him and cure his mange.  And yet we failed to extend a helping hand to a fellow human being!!  In my after-life, I will have to explain this grave oversight on my part!

(And, by the way, a khalwat offence would incur a fine of MYR 200 or 4 months jail!)

If I had been an Octopus:

I could carry on living in my cloud-cuckoo land "under the waves" where my conversations and contacts are far more limited.

But on Friday I took a taxi to the Singapore High Commission to get a certified copy of our Singapore Marriage Certificate for the purpose of verification (Pengesahan) of our marriage  by the Wilayah's Religious Authorities.  By the way, we have been living together (not in sin) for over 30 years.  

We had just passed Jelatek LRT Station when our Malay taxi driver pointed out a sad-looking middle-aged Malay lady resting on some sort of support in the middle of a grass patch, reading a newspaper.  He said. " Kesian, she's there most mornings.  I feel sorry for her.  And when she walks on the pavement with her head bent, you can see how unhappy she looks.  People say she's been told to get out of the house by either her children or her in-laws."

" Dulu dulu, kita tak ada sekolah tinggi dan pelajaran ugama pun tak lengkap, tapi kita tak menyiksa ibu bapa seperti ini. Kita tidak buang bayi.  Kita tidak bunuh sesama Islam.  Korapsi dulu hanya beratus dan beribu, sekarang berjuta dan berbilion.  Orang Melayu sekarang hanya mementingkan kebendaan dan diri sendiri.  Semakin manusia maju, kuasa syaitan akan menambah."

What a social commentator and a thinker to boot!  And straight from the horse's mouth itself - not from some pompous social media prat.

When I mentioned about how Malays in Malaysia are more "alim"  and how "Ceramahs" in many surau and mesjid are so well attended, he replied,

"Dulu dulu kita bayar penceramah derma sedekah ikhlas.  Sekarang penceramah meminta sekurang kurang nya tiga ribu ringgit.  Dan yang sudah masuk TV dan Radio, mesti bayar sampai tujuh ribu. Dan tepat pada masa, dia akan berhenti - 5 minit tambahan pun tak boleh."

I was quite shocked.  Was our taxi driver stating a fact or merely rumours and grumbles?  But there's room for believing in some of his account. What does he gain by getting these complaints off his chest - he's just one of those thousands of Malays who work hard earning an honest day's living - driving endless hours in the hell-hole that best describes Kuala Lumpur's traffic.


It looks like I can't be either a frog or an octopus.  Maybe a parrot!!?

This blog and blogger, like the parrot in Monty Python's sketch below is not "quite dead, deceased, demised, passed on, ceased to be, expired, bereft of life, not quite pushing the daisies."   AsH is "resting, stunned and pining" - buffeted by the winds of a Kafkaesque drama in the land of my father, my grandfather, my great-grandfather et al.

So watch this space - you might just meet the ex-parrot again.


That posting was done in the midst of frustration and despair  dealing with JAWI and the Syariah Court and the Immigration Department.  Should I have buried it?  No way, every little anecdote of dealing with the Theory and Practice of  Authority in Malaysia  must see the light of day, even if you have to turn blue in the face.

The following posts (that means the ex-parrot is now a kicking Parrot) complement and illustrate the above posting.



But there's more to follow - our assignments with the Immigration Department.

Some day, maybe some day when I feel strong enough to spit at the sky.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Christmas - looking from the back of other eyeballs

Colin, photographer and photography-technician extraordinaire was coming for dinner on the 22nd.

so on the 21st, I took Bus  Number 22  into the city centre to do the shopping.  The bus stopped at the Railway Station to pick up a tall, strapping young man, somewhere in his mid-thirties.  He was carrying a big and heavy rucksack on his back.  He also had a name-tag on a string draped around his neck.

To put it simply: he looked absolutely knackered - but he also wore a grim and dignified countenance. From his build he could have been a policeman, a sports coach or even a British Airways pilot - of someone holding a job that required authority and responsibility.

As the bus approached the City Centre, a comfortably-dressed, middle-aged English lady proceeded to the front of the bus where the young man was sitting, as she was about to get off the bus.

As she went past, she gave him a nice smile and said  "Merry Christmas"

With a wan, worn smile, he replied, "Merry Christmas to you."

This was the rest of the conversation.   (W=English woman;  M=English man.)

W  Are you looking forward to Christmas?

M  Well ..... it's okay, I think ......

W  It's a happy time, isn't it - sharing with family and friends.....? (and she went on and on)

M  (He began to look fed-up as it was obvious he was not prepared to natter on about the joy of Christmas)  To hell with fucking Christmas.  All for one man's birthday.  What has he done for the world?

W  (gasping with shock) Oh .. oh ...

M  I'm sorry, please, I apologise.

The bus stopped and as the woman got down, he wished her, "You have a happy Christmas, love."  

He was a Big Issue vendor.    The Big Issue is a weekly current affairs and entertainment magazine - put out specially to help the homeless......And his rucksack was heavily laden with copies he was hoping to sell - and this he will do without a kiosk or a covered stand.   If it rains or snows, he will stand in the biting cold, for the sake of a tiny income.


Figure 1

Figure 2 - A homeless man sleeping outside a big department store House of Fraser

Figure 3

Figure 4 -The East London Mosque contributing to helping the homeless in London.

We Malay-Muslims in Malaysia, have a lot to learn from the Ummah  at the East London Mosque.

Remember these?


Hari Raya 2015
See  -

Eid in Gaza 2014  (see reference to the above image)

 And there are also the Syrians, Yemenis, Iraqis, Libyans and Rohingyas to remember in their dark days. 

Are the Muslims' pockets so shallow and our hearts so grudging?   

Finally, an anecdote from my childhood to close this post about Christmas.

Makcik Ayik was my mother's best friend (during the 1940s to 1960s) from their days of being neighbours at Kampung Chantek, Dunearn Road, Singapore,

Makcik Ayik and Pakcik Mat (late 1950s)

When I was about 10 years of age my mother would 'park' me at Makcik's  during the school holidays.  As Makcik had no children, my mother thought I would be good company for the dear lady.  Also it got me 'out of her hair' and gave her some peace with her other three brattages.

I quite enjoyed being the only child at her kampung house at Batu 10, Bukit Panjang.  I remembered walking along a rickety wooden bridge across a river  to get to the kampung from Bukit Panjang. Road.

That was over 60 years ago.  Today Batu 10 has been gentrified and un-Malaydified to  TEN MILE JUNCTION.

BATU  10  aka Ten Mile Junction

Just over 60 years ago, on the 25th day of December, I was chatting to Makcik Ayik and I said,

Makcik, hari 'ni hari Krismas.  (Auntie, today is Christmas Day)

She replied, with a quizzical look on her face.

Krismas 'tu apa 'nak??  (Child, what is Christmas?)

Looking back, I reckon my mum's good friend must be thinking what a weird Malay child I am - must be because of all that schooling!!  Christmas ??!?!!

Indeed, we have come a long, long way from those dark days of ignorance!!!!

However, we're no better or kinder than Makcik Ayik's generation.

May next year's winter be happier and more peaceful  than that of  2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 etc etc.


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Political Patchwork and Stitch-ups in Malaysia

I promised myself  I would undertake more postings in this blog of mine when I'm back in cooler climes in Leicester, when the septuagenarian-brain is not getting pickled in the heat of my tanah air.

I did quite fine in November.  But December has been taken up with cooking dinners for dear friends that we have not seen for 8 months - people like Ann and Dot, Jack, Colin and Doug.  The aroma of chicken cooked in spicy-serai sauce, tomato-apricot chutney, all sorts of spuds dishes (spicy, sauteed, boiled, mashed, roasted etc), curry mutton and chicken, grilled lamb chops and a vegetarian methi cake, filled the house for the past few weeks.  As for desserts - the spouse had his fill of Eve's Pudding, apple crumble, lemon layer pudding, Bramleys topped with custard sauce and the creme de la creme - a dessert he would cry for - bread and butter pudding!!   But I must also record the great evening we had at a pub, the Rose and Crown at Thurnby, with our mates from our favourite charity shop, Animal Rescue.  Iain and I learned that we could get just as heady (but not quite pickled) on plain Tonic Water (sans the Gin) !!!!   Of course a game of Skittles was on the menu and I have to report that AsH did win a prize - the wooden spoon.  I will never live this down for the rest of my days.

But one cannot avoid the antics of politics and politicians in Malaysia even in this little corner of England.  Why do I scare myself with reading Malaysia's online papers?   Sandiwara Malaysia goes on and on, with the same actors and actresses - roaring the same nefarious and hypocritical lines, this time with their eyes on the next General Election.

Indeed we are spoiled for choice.  It's like being in a sweet shop where the bottles are filled with multi-coloured sweeties but they all taste the same -leaving a nasty, bitter after-taste in the mouth. But to be fair to Malaysia the effect is the same in USA or Britain.  Maybe not so in Singapore where the political sweet shop has fewer flavours.

Still, I have been dipping my toes (freezing at times) into an interesting pursuit - dabbling in the art and artifices of  Photoscape.  People may pooh pooh at my venture, but try to do something new and hi-tech(?) when you get to 72!

It's like making a Patchwork Project.  I sewed two lovely (so I believe) patchwork bedspreads, made up of  Liberty of London fabric samplers, for Shah on his 21st birthday and Maria on her wedding day.

But this is still the most beautiful patchwork for me - made by my dear mum to take with me to my new home in England.

A patchwork bedspread made from batik remnants.

And so patchwork samplers lead me on to amalgamate this old hobby with my new techno-thingamajig undertaking.

1. A connection of people.


2.  A stitchup - by the mouse, the frog and the hawk.

3.   Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it.  (George Santayana 1863-1952)  

I guess that's as much mush as I can manage - technically and spiritually.

No skittles on this blog.  Let's just do the boogie woogie with Gitarzan, Jane and the Gorilla .... and the Yellow Bananas.