Monday, 27 June 2022

FALLUJAH - 2007 : AnaksiHamid remembering a previous vicious war on and in the Middle East

 I was clearing a stack of old articles and drafts of our writing about a month ago ......

Seen in the square is just about a quarter of the total accumulation.

.........  when I picked up "Iraq Uncovered" in the New Statesmen of 5 November 2007.  One of us must have set it aside for further reading and reference.  We subscribed to the NS for a couple of years but stopped when we had to spend more and more time in Kuala Lumpur after 2007.

I leafed through it and with so much wall-to-wall coverage of the Russo-Ukraine War in the print and electronic media, I thought it might be interesting to compare the way the media, and the world for that matter treat another bloody war, but this time in the heartland of Europe - the land of blondes and  blue-eyes - after a series of wars against the darker-skinned "towel-heads ", and extremists, fanatics and jihadists of the Middle East.

This article covers the war in Fallujah, after Saddam Hussein had been defeated.

The names given to these wars in the Middle East - wars between Whisky Charlie Whisky or White Christian West and Delta Mike Tango or Dark Muslim Terrorists (I am resorting to the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, see key at end of posting )  never fail to amuse me.  Names such as Operation Phantom Fury and Operation Vigilant Resolve  sound  like a crusading and evangelistic clarion call - the stuff of Gothic comics and books!  But I digress.

The copy of the article in the New Statesmen (5 November 2007) was :

The Report consisted of a series of photographs and captions by Ashley Gilbertson,  an article by Dahr Jamail and another by Brian Cathcart.


See :

See :

Here's an overview of pages 29 - 36 of the NS Report.

Page 29 - 30

Page 31 - 32

Page 33 - 34

Page 35 - 36

Let's take a closer look

1. What did you do in the War, Daddy?


This was a campaign during the First World War to emotionally blackmail men into conscription for the War which had been described as a war where lions were led by donkeys.

This meme was used in  the 1966 comedy "Daddy, what did you do in the war?". Often it serves as a ploy to make fun of men who can't  refrain from  recalling and sometimes re-inventing their war experiences to their sometimes bored and long-suffering audience.

But, I cannot resist this either; using this same caption to American, British and their Allies' participation in the war in Fallujah, as revealed in these photos by Ashley Gilbertson.

What did you do in the war, Daddy/Mummy?  By the way, how do you say 'suntan' in Polish?  (Above photo and caption by Ashley Gilbertson)

What did you do in the war, Daddy?  I watched a recruitment campaign for the Klu Klux Klan.  Now buzz off and practise your hangman's knot.  (Above photo and caption by Ashley Gilbertson)

What did you do in the war, Daddy?  I'm trying to get him to say, "Please don't kill me" with sugar on it.  Daddy, what is Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot?  Go and practise your shooting with grand-dad!  (Above photo and caption by Ashley Gilbertson)

What did you do in the war, Daddy?  I was teaching TEFL or Teaching English as a Foreign Language.  By the way how are you getting on in your Spanish class?   (Above photo and caption by Ashley Gilbertson)

2.  Cultural Exchange between the United States of America and Iraq, post Saddam Hussein.

Welcome to Iraq, Yankee Brother!  (Above photo and caption by Ashley Gilbertson)

The Disneyfication and Anglification/Winnification/Poohification of Ramadan.   When will we imitate this for Ramadan in Malaysia?  As it is we are already going crackers over Firecrackers and fired up by Fireworks during Ramadan and Hari Raya!!!  (Above photo and caption by Ashley Gilbertson)

The above photographs are from Whiskey Tango Foxtrot : a Photographer's Chronicle of the Iraq War published by the University of Chicago Press.

3. What I saw in Fallujah by Dahr Jamail, a journalist not embedded with the US Army.


Here's the last page of Dahr Jamail's Report. 


Here's a quote by Dahr Jamail

"The story of the many oppressed peoples of the world is rarely recorded by the few who oppress.  We are taught that the truth is objective fact as written down by conquerors " -Dahr Jamail.

Has the standard of journalism and the nature of the truth changed at all?    Fast forward from 2007 to the reports on the Ukraine war of 2022.

Speaking as a non-white and a Muslim, I ask myself:  "If the media coverage of Ukraine is how White/Christian Culture deal with their Tribal/Ideological Wars, what hope is there for us "Others" to expect a fair deal?     And anyway, let's be realistic, why should they report any differently? "

Let's just remember:

There are many victims of war.  But some get a better script. 

But here's a powerful film,  "Fallujah, The Hidden Massacre" by Sigfrido Ranucci qnd Maurizio Torrealta (8 November 2005) .

This video is age-restricted.  You must sign in to confirm your age. No, you do not have to submit your birth certificate - just an email address and BOOM they get all your details.  The world is indeed getting smaller - in more (unacceptable) ways than one - despite Louis Armstrong's " What a wonderful world".


Appendix : The NATO Phonetic Alphabet

Whiskey Charlie Whiskey = White Christian West.  (AsH's version)

Delta Mike Tango = Dark Muslim Terrorists.  (AsH's version)

You can have a great time devising your own secret language.

As for Whiskey Tango Foxtrot : here is the original (military) meaning.

The above image is taken from -

But ....... Whiskey Tango Foxtrot  can also mean different things to different people!

But old ladies like me cannot divulge any of them.😈 

The young will have to do their own homework.😁

Thursday, 5 May 2022

My Solar System - an observation on Hari Raya Aidilfitri May 2022


We expected Eid on the third of May!  But the panic was felt most by all the Emak, Mama, Ibu, Mummy and Umi in Malaysia - the cooking, the children's outfits, the curtains and cushion covers to be changed, the sweeping and cleaning inside and outside the house, the cutlery, crockery, glasses, tablecloths to be laid out and on top of it all, the last minute shopping that had been planned for the last day of Ramadan.  

But we all know Mothers are superwomen!  They will see all this through no matter what.

I can recall two occasions when this happened - when Hari Raya fell on the day before the expected/scheduled date on the calendar.

It happened the first time when I was a young teacher in Sekolah Menengah Yusof Ishak / Yusof Ishak Secondary School, West Coast Road, Singapore during the late 1960s, sometime between 1967 and 1970.   On Hari Raya Day, all Malay and Muslim students (including those in the English medium) were allowed time to attend the Hari Raya prayers and they had then to report back to school as usual.  Their Hari Raya holiday would be officially celebrated on the second day of Hari Raya Aidil Fitri.

Well, the Malay-Muslim teachers in the school, all men, most of them older than this female in her early 20s turned to me and said, 

"Cikgu pergi lah jumpa Mr Lazaroo (the Principal) dan minta cuti satu hari untuk kita orang!" (Teacher, why don't you ask Mr Lazaroo (the Principal) for a day off (on Eid) for us?)

They forgot I am the bolshie/maverick AnaksiHamid and I replied very nicely, "Cikgu semua pergi lah sendiri minta rayuan Mr Lazaroo!"  (Teachers, why don't all of you make a plea to Mr Lazaroo?) That was the end of that.   Good try! To put my head on the block while they skulk in the background.   If it works, great for them.  If it doesn't, only Maznoor will be in the dog-house.  We shall just go home and and carry on, our record remains intact.  They would certainly say,  "Tak cuba, tak tahu" (If you don't ask, you will never know).   Except for my record, if it fails!!!!  Aaah, the early signs (for me) of Malay-Muslim-Males' strategy and tactics.   Hardly Malay Sun Tzu, but very typical.

So all we Malays and Muslims had to go by the book.  On Hari Raya all the teachers duly turned up after Prayers, but - bully for them - hardly any of the kids turned up at all.  They took the risk and were willing to face the consequences!  The bravery of youth - the young who are unaccountable to the boring mores and dregs of the old.

The second time occurred some ten years later in 1977 at the Chinese/English Integrated Jurong Secondary School, Corporation Road, Singapore.  I was as usual in the minority English stream.  But I was no pipsqueak!  I was now the Senior Assistant for the English Stream.  Mind you, it took me some years to get there.  Some or most of my peer group from Singapore University were Principals by now - despite my very extensive Curriculum Vitae and my post graduate qualification from London University.  But beggars can't be choosers, can they?

By the mid-1970s, the Malay (and Tamil) medium schools  in Singapore were dying out, as more and more parents decided to send their children to English schools.  The tail-end of the the Malay stream from Yusof Ishak Secondary were all shifted to Jurong - about 2-3 classes if my memory serves me well. When the Public holiday for Hari Raya Aidil Fitri (I cannot remember the exact year) fell on the second day of Hari Raya again, life and school went on as usual.  Hari Raya or no Hari Raya, Malays and Muslims reported for school after the Prayers.

In the next few days and a week or so after that, stories, snipings and grumbles were coming back to me, about how Miss Hamid (my nomenclature then in JSS, not Cikgu Maznoor as in Yusof Ishak), as a Muslim and the Senior Assistant, should have spoken up for them, especially the Malay medium section to give them concessions to celebrate Hari Raya in the full sense of the celebration - to grant them an additional 'Public Holiday' so to speak.  I left it alone until it became personal, very personal, and I feared a repetition of what happened to me in Yusof Ishak when they applied the tactic of "tak dapat dengan cara kasar, kita gunakan cara halus" (If we can't get you one way, we shall find a subtler way) 

I had to do what was then necessary to maintain the morale and administration of Jurong Secondary School- and with the permission of the Principal we had an emergency Staff Meeting to explain the policy of the School (and the Government ) about Hari Raya Public Holidays on the second day of Hari Raya.  I also asked that this should be explained to the pupils as well and that Miss Hamid does not have the power or the credentials to make adjustments to a government edict.

I had had enough of teaching in Singapore - whether in a Malay-English Integrated School (1967-1974) or in a Chinese-English Integrated School (1975-1977).  

I would soon have an interview for a teaching appointment in Brunei.   In February 1978, I left my Singapore teaching days for good.  Brunei was good to me (1978-1984) and by then Singapore had become merely a transit station for me.  By 1986 I had no more reasons to stay.

So Hari Raya 2022 brought back this septuagenarian's memorable moments of 'premature'  Hari Raya  days/daze!  


It also sets her thinking of more ethereal and astronomical things like the sun and the moon and the stars and loved ones.

The moon is such a crucial feature in the life of a Malay-Muslim.  One of his  most significant religious activities like Ramadan and the festival of Eid is determined by the sighting of the moon.  Even the  word for 'month' is 'Bulan' which is the Moon.  Endless love songs and music and poems and novels have been written in honour of the moon.  Even the word for madness is derived from  ' lunacy' , an ailment connected to the transits of the moon.

An old Malay school poem comes to mind.

This is from my Primary School Malay textbook. "Beneh Akal" ( The seed of wisdom) when I was attending Pasir Panjang English School.

I loved these lines :  Bulan tanya pada bintang, (The moon asks of the stars)

                                 Mana jatoh mata hari. (Where does the sun set.)

This Hari Raya, I remember my moon and my sun.  (The title of this love song from the 1960s is "The moon enclosed by the stars")

My mother the moon and my father the sun on Hari Raya 1950,  at 680 Pasir Panjang Road,  Singapore.


Malam terang, nampak bayang, (The night is bright, the shadows are visible.)

Banyak bintang kawan bulan. (So many stars, so many friends of the moon.)

Emak with her 3 stars - the 4th (Mustakim) was still an infant, having a snooze inside the house.   Abah made those Hari Raya Stars.


But their second star, is so happy (over the moon!) to have this picture in her keeping.

Maznoor Abd Hamid celebrating her third Hari Raya at Kampung Chantek, off Dunearn Road.
The two stars were made by Abah!


Umpteen years later - many, many moons later - about 480 months later  and more - came this shooting star into AsH's life.

The shooting star is a streak of light in the sky orbiting round the moon.  At times he can be an asteroid (a small rocky body orbiting the sun) or a meteor (a space rock that enters the earth's atmosphere). 

Whatever he turns into, even when he's howling at the moon - he still draws great pictures for AnaksiHamid.

Eccentrics Extraordinaire.


Selamat Hari Raya from long ago and far away.


PS :  Just a little reminder, just so that "pisang tidak berbuah dua kali"  or  "Once bitten, twice shy".

Sunday, 17 April 2022

Belacan, Politicians and 'Otak Udang'



I was quite upset when I read the above headline yesterday.  It's not fair and it's tantamount to being racist.  In the first place,  using otak belacan  to denigrate the brain of PAP's P Ramasamy is not applicable.  After all,  he is a Malaysian Indian and certainly belacan is not his staple food seasoning.  It certainly can be applied to  a Malay like the author of this article,  unless he is of the elite Jawi Peranakan extraction, but now registered as Malay.

Secondly it is an insult to a staple Malay condiment like belacan.

In Indonesia the equivalent is trasi , mentioned in the ancient Sundanese scriptures.

 So as not to confuse the origin of trasi/belacan :

Zheng He (or Cheng Ho)  (1371 - 1433), diplomat-admiral from the Ming Dynasty even brought back this condiment to his homeland!   Although today, most of the producers and distributors of belacan in Malaysia are Chinese and the popularity of Chinese Peranakan Cuisine has elevated the status and glamour surrounding the humble belacan.  Growing up in the 50s, 60s and 70s, I recall how people turn up their noses (in more ways than one) at the taste, odour and purchase of belacan.  

In the early books on Malay/Indonesian/Southeast Asian cooking, there seemed to be a bit of 'shyness' in using the word belacan, instead it was described as shrimp paste.

As for the udang geragau, (Singapore Malays called it geragur), my Emak loved to make fritters, a mixture of the shrimps, flour, egg, onions and chillies.  It was not only tasty, but it was cheap and muai, which means just a little bit or expenditure goes a long way.

Nowadays you can't buy geragur for love or money.  But this Melayu belacan (Maznoor Hamid that is) stores a good stock of belacan in her larder to titillate the appetite of both herself and her Anglo-Scottish spouse who cannot get enough of sambal blacan and sambal pedas petai/ikan bilis.  

Ash's stock of belacan

It all started with my Emak's feeding of her skinny Mat Salleh son-in-law because she thinks her daughter is not cooking enough for him, like a typical loving and dutiful wife should.

The source of the addiction to chillie and belacan - my mother!

That is my paean to belacan, a traditional ingredient for traditional Malay cooking and should never ever be used to describe the cerebral failings of anyone, especially politicians - whatever shade of ethnicity - in Malaysia.  There are many other words to choose from, words like  dull, doltish, dim, idiotic, ignorant, asinine etc etc.

Whenever as children, we acted and said something stupid to Emak, she would just exclaim "Bodoh! Kepala Otak Udang!" (Stupid. Prawn-head brains!).  That is because the prawn's excreta is in the head.  That is the only asinine connection to belacan which is made from fermented prawns .  Still the Malays do have a refined alternative to the obscene use of the word "shit-head"!!!!!  

Here is the author of that article in Malaysia Today.

What is PEJUANG?

 May Allah keep our Tanah Air in excellent physical and spiritual health this Ramadan.

Thursday, 10 March 2022

NST Leader : My favourite cuppa Teh Tarik

 I have more or less given up reading The Guardian and The Independent on the internet.  Instead I now turn ( to the spouse's consternation!) to the Daily Mail where I can find snippets of common-sense material from writers like Peter Hitchens, Martin Robinson and Sarah Vine.  Now and then I click the  Leicester Mercury just to catch up on what's going on in the other half of our neck-of-the-woods.

 It's the same old stuff mostly.    During the winter of 2021/2022, news about Boris Johnson's Partygate and the political and hypocritical shenanigans of the ruling Conservative Party and the Labour Opposition recalled the odour of the political cesspit that had existed in Malaysia since 2018, and even before.  

I abandoned Malaysian newspapers like The Star and the Malay Mail years ago.    Their coy and self-righteous agenda stuck in the craw.    Now, sometimes, I look up Bebas News, Malaysia Now, and the New Straits Times.   And I have cause to be grateful for doing so.

Recently, I discovered the NST Leader page.    It perked up my interest and since then, more and more often I turned to this page for a dose of articulate, thoughtful and intelligent piece of writing - a rarity in the papers and portals of both local and overseas media.

But the piece today in the NST Leader : Nato  was a real breath of fresh air, coming in the wake of the wall-to-wall images of the victims and gory destruction of Ukraine's infrastructure.  In the past few days, the handwringing and heartache of the war in Ukraine has spread all over the globe, accompanied by heart-wrenching scenes of bravery and donations from the rich and the poor - from little girls (usually blonde and blue-eyed) to super-rich celebrities like Posh and Becks!    Well ......



"Any death diminishes me."

What a shame.  She has the wrong hair and skin colour, and is too old.

Right age.  But not doe-eyed blondes.  Not heart-wrenching enough.

No!  A bunch of towelheads will not attract any funding and sympathy from the great and good in the Judaeo-Christian world.

What about this?  No pictures to deter the great and good.  Just a piece of graphics to highlight the real victims of the invasion of Afghanistan.

Okay, I get your message.  Can I persuade you with this image instead - made by a Western NGO?

"Sorry, mate.  The names are too foreign."

There are other victims too - who have been breathing, living and dying from invasions since 1948 to the present.  

"Now, don't press your luck too far."

Sorry Sir,  sorry Boss,  sorry Guv.

Top up this section of my posting with :



During the Iraq War, the US and the Western "Coalition" smashed an entire country, killed a million people, and destroyed an ancient heritage.    Apart from the US, the Coalition forces were mostly UK and other NATO forces.     And the third largest contingent in this coalition?      You guessed it.     It was the Ukrainians.      

Serving in the war on  Iraq - 5,000 troops and 5 years of service.

The Ukrainian flag of blue and yellow is located just above the town An Nasiriyah. (From Wiki)

Ukraine contributed 1650 troops.  Look for 3 Southeast Asian participating countries. (From Wiki)



What the NST Leader has done is to draw out the context of the War in Ukraine.  That context is located in the actions and policies of Nato.  Nato is not a defensive alliance.  Nato  smashed the Arab nations in the Middle East.  And now Nato is and has been manipulating the politics of the former communist states of Eastern Europe, along  Russia's borders. 

NST Leader - " Liberal imperialists dressed as humanitarians must be kept at a safe distance."

Remember the visit to Malaysia in 2014 by that much admired (young and attractive) President of the United States of America" and his pontifications about what is wrong with Malaysia (he means Malay-Muslims)?

Now that brings us to the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a creation of the CIA and quite well ensconced in Malaysia.  The good President's advice is very much in line with the objectives of this child of the CIA .  If Nato represents  the "armed missionaries" of western neo-liberalism (read that as neo-imperialism) then the NED is the "ideological guru".

In Malaysia ....

"Funding the Opposition".

.... and  contributing grants ...... 

.... to combat corruption ...

..... to empower youth and political parties to spread freedom, human rights and democracy - a most neo-evangelistic mission.

As for their project in Ukraine.....

But beyond Nato and the NED - we see the outing of the inherent bias and racism in the Western press and media - just like their prejudice and propaganda against Islam and the Middle East during western incursions into Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and of course in 😭.   

Read Scott Ritter's account of how "fact based arguments  ...... the case for war against Iraq were effectively silenced."

Putinism or Nato?

Censorship and freedom of information.

I shall leave with Vijay Prashad's ( a writer I admire - in the same box as my other favourite writers like Noam Chomsky, John Pilger and Edward Said )  view of the much-vaunted freedom of the press and the media.

In today's media culture,  feel free to spout your bigotry and prejudice.  When caught, make an apology of sorts and claim you 'misspoke' or were 'misquoted' or "it was taken out of context".  Whatever the shape of the apology, the deed (evil) and the damage is done!

Finally, the NST Leader may not be as wide ranging and deep in his/her analysis ( limited of course by the space allocated to an editorial).  But in that crisp article, he/she has managed to provoke the readers (including AsH) to view the Ukraine War not as a simplistic battle between good and  evil.  It has a longer and larger genesis than Putin and Saddam Hussain and Gaddafi put together.  

It has all the markings and making of Imperialism dressed in new clothes.  

What lesson can Malaysia learn from this War?  Beware of the Greek bearing gifts - of the Trojan Horse within our compound and the " musuh dalam selimut".