Thursday, 15 March 2018

It has been an eyeful ......

There has been a long, long hiatus since my last posting. It's a silence due to a quandary of vision.  

Firstly there was the issue of a geriatric's eyesight.  An eye cataract is part of the baggage of old age.  The pre- and post operation frustration and discomfort stretched from over 6 months ago to March 2018.  But that's to be expected and AsH should not whinge too much - others from her peer group have it worse.  I was once asked, "Do you prefer to be deaf or blind?"   God's gift of vision is certainly uppermost in my decision. 

Secondly my ire with vision has more to do my weakness, with a failure to judge and discriminate about people who I regard as honourable friends.  One never stop learning, one cannot escape being (metaphorically) slapped in the face by "good friends" even at 74!!!  This time not by one, but by three mates. The scales have been removed from my eyes, so to speak. As my mother would put it: "seperti menelan hempedu".

Hempedu - a beautiful but bitter herb.

And now I am back home .....

Life with crumpets and tea.

 ........ in our other abode away from the sultry, torrid Tropics.  I can try and place my toe once again in the waters of my blog.

But every cloud has a silver lining,  My brother Mus and I were talking about cataracts and he remembered how it started with Mak's.  Too much reading and computer activity have not helped my eyes.  But with Mak, she only realized she had trouble with her vision when threading a needle became a sore problem.  We took her to hospital to remove the cataract in one eye in 1981 and the other one in 1989.  Following my mother's footsteps, I will have the other eye drained sometime. 

And during that conversation I realized what an avid and skilful seamstress she was.  She sewed ALL of our clothes including school uniforms.  She learned the art of tailoring men's outfit from Pakcik Rahim, a Minang tailor and a very good friend of my father.

Pakcik Rahim (right) with Mus circa 1947.  On the left was another family friend Pakcik Mat.

Wise words from Pakcik Rahim for my sister's autograph.

Too much reading and computer work did no favour for my eyes.  But as for Mak her eyes paid a price because she did too much sewing for her family.

I have stored very lovingly all the baju kurung she sewed for me.  They were all sewn by hand.  And most remarkable of all was her fine skills in embroidering the neck line with her tiny and delicate tulang belut.  No wonder she over strained her eyes.

About a month ago, I asked Mus to drop in at Setiawangsa to take these photographs.  Here are the results of that exciting rainy afternoon when Kamisah's son and daughter got to work and immortalised her loving craftsman(woman)ship.

She produced no dissertation, doctoral or otherwise.  But this was her contribution to Malay culture.  It is all the more poignant because I doubt if there are any of my generation or younger who can replicate what she has done.

Dear Mak, on that rainy afternoon Mus and I reminisced and celebrated your life.  We both acknowledged we took you for granted, we never really delved into the ways and purpose of our mother.  You were just and always there but we failed to appreciate your art, your loving gift - you are an artist in your own right.

Mak - always sewing away.

Mak and her brood.

Here are the results of your artistry,  stored in these pictures for posterity - for all of your surviving children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to treasure.

Every inch of my baju kurung was stitched by hand.

Note the very delicate tulang belut stitches on the neckline.

Mak only sewed Baju Kurung Teluk Belangah, which had a pocket on the left for tucking in a handkerchief, not tissue paper.

When we were in our early twenties Abah bought for his two daughters kain songket material, red for me and a gorgeous black for my sister Maznah for our baju kurung.  And of course Mak sewed it all!  We both have them in our keeping, 50 years hence!

I prefer this version by Rokiah Wanda because she kept to the lyrics "Kain songket buatan Malaya" and not turned into the politically correct "Kain songket pakaian budaya".

Here are more of my hand-sewn baju kurung.

The next is Mak's very own baju kurung which I often wear because it is very laboh  (spacious) and very comfortable for a geriatric who has developed a wider girth.

This 'silky' batik material was a present from my sister. It was not an easy material to sew because it is very floppy.  The stitches are not as fine because of her failing eyesight. It was the last baju kurung that Mak sewed for me.  I wore it for all the weddings of her grandchildren.

That's AsH (wearing the above baju kurung ) asking the cook for a plateful of his culinary delight during the double wedding for  Maria and Nadzim and her brother Mahzan and Sabrina at Jalan Jengkeng, Batu Pahat, 1996.

A year later Mak passed away peacefully.  Al Fatihah.

For the past six months, life could have been more peaceful.  But I was given the time to be philosophical and wistful and re-think about my incredible Mother.
Indeed it  had been an eyeful .........  and very, very heartfelt .

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Spot the Missing Word

Many, many yonks ago the newspapers inserted a little competition to promote their sales.  It was called Spot the Ball Contest.  The picture of a ball had been removed from a photograph of a football match.  All you had to do to win a prize was to locate the position  of the ball.

Now, on browsing through today's The Independent I noticed this headline :

From The Independent 7 January 2018

My heart sank.  Trump's acknowledgement of the Zionists' and Christian Zionists'  appetite and prayers for acquiring Jerusalem had angered, understandably, the Palestinians.  But
this 'attack' on the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church would not help their cause!!

So I clicked the item and this was the headline in the article written by Ali Sawafta and Nidal Almughrabi from Reuters.

In the eyes of the world,  Palestinians mean Muslims.  Palestinian Muslims are a violent lot of terrorists - like the 16 year old girl Ahed Tamimi who slapped an armed Israeli soldier just last week.

So, on the face of it, a headline like that suggests a certain very predictable chain reaction from the guardians of Christianity?  I am thinking of leading lights like ....

  • Donald Trump - the leader of the Free World, of the world's richest nation.

  • Charlie Hebdo, the rabidly islamophobic  French satirical weekly magazine - this should provide great fodder for their genius to work on.

  • Imagine the distress suffered by the Pope to see his fellow leader of the flock being hounded by such a rabble

  • Other voices from the milieu of the Christian evangelists would clasp their hands and say "I told you so!" - voices from nearer home like Henry Pillai, pastor from the Grace Assembly of God who can barely subdue his antipathy towards Islam in Malaysia.  Remember that celebrity American evangelist Billy Graham?  Well this is how Muslims should be treated according to his son Franklin Graham.

Our President Trump could be threatened like the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church!
That would certainly be the scenario if one only read the headline.  What is the purpose of a newspaper Headline? It is mainly to catch the attention of the readers.  It is also supposed to present the gist and the main thrust of the text to follow.

But this headline has failed miserably, whether by commission or omission  BECAUSE this is the actual content of the report  ......

...... that the "attack" was carried out by Christian Palestinians ( and with justification)!

The missing "ball", the missing word is Christian.  

This is not simply a matter of distinguishing a religious denomination.  If  a Malaysian commits a crime abroad it does not matter if that person is Chinese or Malay or Indian, or Muslim or Christian or Hindu or Buddhist - he is just another Malaysian, albeit a nasty piece of work who has brought shame to the country.
But in Palestine, the cradle of three monotheist religions and a killing field where the powerful perpetrators are labelled the victims (with the collaboration of an omnipotent Big Brother abroad), where blood and tears are cheap especially for the Palestinians -  religion matters especially in a world where violence is always attributed to one particular religion; to Islam.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Old Crime and New Year

And so the end of another year - the end of 2017, by the Gregorian Calendar.  "Gregorian what??"  you may ask.  There are many simple things in life, like a Calendar, whose history has been  taken for granted!!

There are as many types of calendars as there are religions and customs.  The Catholic Gregorian Calendar we are using came by courtesy of Christian British  Imperialism - for it was adopted by Protestant England only in 1752, and not without protests and dissensions because Protestantism has always been suspicious of the Papacy and Catholicism; not much different from the present disengagement between the Shias and Sunnis.

The present Gregorian calendar was introduced by Pope Gregory X11 in 1582 mainly so they say, to keep Easter, which is observed on March 21  in sync with the spring equinox, something which the former Julian Calendar (as in Julius Caesar) failed to maintain.

Later in the 19th century, Japan (1873), Egypt (1875) and Korea in 1896 adopted the Gregorian calendar.  This was followed by China (1912), USSR (1918), Greece (1923) and Turkey (1926).

More interesting, Saudi Arabia also switched over in October 2016.  According to The Independent (Harry Cockburn, 4 October 2016) :

"The country had used the lunar-based Hijri Calendar since the Kingdom was founded in 1932, but has switched to the Gregorian calendar to pay civil servants."  As the Hijri calendar has 11 days shorter than the Gregorian 365 days, "the move will mean Saudi civil servants will lose 11 days of payment as salary days are cut.  It is one of many belt-tightening measure announced as the country seeks to reduce its high budget deficit".

Certainly we shall not see a clamour in Malaysia to switch to the Hijri calendar!!!

I do not want to be a wet blanket, but what is the relevance and meaning of  a "New Year" for many people in many parts of the world.  Discounting the annual fat bonuses for the fat cats, the latest revolution in mobile and car technology, the amazing radical changes in choices and of lifestyle for the ordinary folks-in-the-street like .......

........  what's more, 2017 has revealed the mother-of-all sexual predators in the shape of Harvey Weinstein seen here with two of the 21st century's most iconic personalities - Barack Obama and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Barack and Harvey - great political pals, then - to the tune of $600,000 according to UK's Daily Mail.
It's hard to keep in touch with the latest diktat of political correctness and when the former 44th President of the USA (and also the most popular head of state, as ranked in a survey by the International World Leader Index)  made this statement about his pal Harvey Weinstein .........

From the Daily Mail, 11 October 2017

..........  he erred in using such words as "girls" and "boys"  which, in this new "liberal" climate, will discourage children from recognising and acknowledging their sexual identities as being  neither fish nor fowl.

In the case of Gwyneth Paltrow, I am surprised at her ignorance of the politics of sex and success.

Gwyneth and Harvey

It's all old hat to this septuagenarian.  In my time at Singapore University and in the corridors of the teaching profession, we  girls were told, mainly by word of mouth, how to get on with getting good marks and special favours from the men-in-charge : from old and young men, ugly men, repulsive men, men of all shades of colour and religion and highly educated men especially.  They can be nasty, persuasive and wily so as to get what they want.

But then it works both ways.  For the fairer sex, sometimes, all they have to do is to give these predators a dose of manja-manja, feed their ego and more often than not it can bring some reward.  Furthermore there are women who have polished this to a fine art to get what they want and some foolish men fall for it, hook line and sinker!   But then a bigger harvest will require a great deal of 'investment' on the part of the female.

It all depends on how desperate you are to get ahead and to do so without too much effort. It also depends on how desperate you are to keep your dignity, self-pride and honour.

For women in any part of the world and from any culture who want fame and fortune in what is basically a male domain, this is the oldest game in the world!

I guess I was very fortunate because when I reached puberty, my Abah cautioned and warned me that "men are crocodiles".  That really prepared me for the rest of my post-puberty life!!

What can 2018 bring for the ordinary, quiet and decent people of the world?      I am thinking especially of the decent and suffering people of Palestine.

What is in store for their children?
More of the same in 2018?

How many more graves have to be dug?
More visits by The Grim Reaper from Israel?

How many more broken and bloody bodies in 2018?
More casualties to be treated in broken-down hospitals (not for the blues, only the reds)

The great and good of the world are mortified by the unequal distribution of wealth on this planet - how a great deal of fortune is held by a small percentage of the population.  ( In USA, 1% of families own 38.6% of the country's wealth).

So what can we make of this unequal distribution of deaths in Palestine and Israel.  In 2017 there are 8.3 million Israelis and 5 million Palestinians but which country takes the brunt of ending up as the victims, especially among the children of Palestine?

The unequal distribution of deaths.

So, roll on 2018.  Bring on the life and times of the powerful, the wealthy, the victors and the self-righteous.

Publicise the salacious and the banal.

Keep out and rationalise the violence inflicted by the powerful, and the sufferings and deaths of the powerless.


I have no greetings for a Happy New Year but do read some of these links.

But so as not to be a killjoy;  to "celebrate" 2018 with a big bang, look up the following link and watch the video.  (4video)

Furthermore, we are all aware of the norms of political correctness.  Anti-Semitism and any other antipathies must be reviled.  However compare the reaction of the authorities in France to Charlie Hebdo's anti-Islamic trash and to Youpi Bayard's omission.

BUT THEN, WHAT'S NEW ???? - in this new year or in previous old years and forever?

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Trump and Yerushalayim rule ok.

I think I have written so much on Zionism, Israel and Palestine on this Blog that anymore would turn out to be a boring re-hash of old lecture notes.

But I feel the action of the 45th President of the United States in recognizing Jerusalem - Yerushalayim - Ursalim  (al-Quds)  as Israel's capital needs a new take.
The Holy City for Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
 I am thinking here of my father's grandchildren (who are caught up with earning their living and rearing their children) and great-grandchildren (presently tied up with schooling, ranging from pre-school to university).  I feel I have a duty  to inform and educate them on some very critical issues that will affect them as Muslim-Malays for the rest of the 21st century.  I owe it to my father, to give them what my he gave to me.

To understand the present we have to dig deep into the past.  "Who controls the past controls the future.  Who controls the present controls  the past" wrote George Orwell.  The plight and the future of ALL Muslims depend on them taking control of the agenda of their past.

After all, the rise of the omnipotent state of Judaic-Zionist Israel began with the Balfour Treaty of 1917 when Christian Zionists in Great Britain decided to supplant the remnants of the Ottoman Muslim Empire and fulfil their Biblical prophecy.

However the battle for overlordship over Jerusalem can be recorded from even further back in history -  from the early confrontation between Christianity and Islam which resulted in the Crusades.

Here are extracts from The Crusades by R.R. Selman, Methuen's Outlines, 1955 to highlight some important aspects of the Crusades.

The Christian world before Islam

The spread of Islam - mainly in The Middle East and North Africa and Spain in Europe.

Note the column under Conquest which annotates how Jerusalem was bounced back and forth between the Muslims and the Christians from the First to the Seventh Crusade.

However, it was not until the defeat of the Ottoman Empire - at the end of the First World War, when British forces entered Jerusalem in 1917 - that Jerusalem became Christian territory again. General Allenby became the first Christian to control Jerusalem after nearly 700 years!

The "creation" of Zionist Israel was not simply a result of the Holocaust - as a sort of compensation to the Jews by Christian Europe for the centuries of discrimination and pogroms they have endured for being the 'killers of Christ'.

The rationale behind the British initiated Balfour Treaty had much to do with  the Biblical prophecy upheld by fervent British Christian Zionists (and American evangelical Christian Zionists too).  They believe that the creation of Israel with Jerusalem as the capital marks the "End Times", a period of history which will end with the second coming of Christ.

In modern times the celebration of this coalition between Christianity and Zionism  is best illustrated by the "36th annual Feast of the Tabernacles conference and celebration hosted by the international Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) from Sept 27 - Oct 1."

But first let's scrutinise the maps that illustrate the series of events that took place between the Balfour Treaty and the baptism of Yerushalayim by the President of the United States, Donald Trump.

Palestine before the creation of Israel

Note Jerusalem as an International Zone

This is not the beginning of the Palestinian diaspora, but their Holocaust

When the British set up their Empire and ravaged the countries they occupied, it was done in the name of civilizing the natives with their language, their entrepreneurship and their Christian religion.

What about the Zionists-Israelis?  Here are some quotes. There are 11 samples here -maybe too many but it will help my Abah's grandchildren to focus on the Ways and Purpose of Israel.












What about the function and culpability of the United States of America?

Then there's Mark Twain.    Referring to the Palestinians,he said.;

As for the ruling elite of the USA, whether they are Republican or Democrat, antipathy to Islam and by association, the Palestinians (which includes Christians) and Gazans held them together.  But behind this scenario there are other players holding up the stage.

WHO PAYS THE PIPER in the world's wealthiest and most powerful nation?

In March 2016, Trump promised the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that he would "move" the American Embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem"  (From Four Things That Could Explain Trump's Jerusalem Embassy Decision by James Reine, 6 December 2017)

Democracy in America.

Now here's another sponsor that chooses Trump's tune.  

They are the Christian Zionists from American Christianity, especially the fundamentalist Protestants who subscribe to the Biblical prophecy on the creation of Israel.

"The Christian Zionist  community will not forget the president's bold actions.
President Trump will be honored and memorialized by Jews and Christians for all time."

Closer to home - there was this attempt by the Calvary Life Assembly Chinese Church in Melaka.

For the restoration of the "Christian Caliphate"????