Sunday, 28 June 2015

A little less conversation, please.

I always make it a rule not to get caught in a conversation with some one sitting next to me  during a long haul flight..  Firstly, how do you extricate yourself from listening to and coping with a fellow passenger who wants to keep on nattering for the duration of a 13-hour journey?  Secondly, you have to get through the usual rigmarole of  having to answer queries about  yourself, your career - almost your whole life  to a stranger...and what's more, you'll be talking within earshot of at least a dozen other passengers (assuming they're not wired up)!

Well, during the recent  MAS flight to KL, I found myself within earshot of a conversation between two passengers sitting to my left.

One was a young, yuppy Chinese lass who had earlier been told off  by another passenger for shouting at him over luggage space in the overhead compartment.   Tempers get frayed when passengers begin to arrange themselves and their hand paraphernalia as soon as they get to their seats.  Passengers nowadays do bring in more and bigger hand luggage  than stipulated by the airlines and this results in a scramble for space and 'invasions' into other overhead compartments which are not within their 'territory'.  It's the ultimate Kiasu in the air!

Her neighbour was a middle-aged Chinese man, a seasoned traveller on the route.  We had met him earlier when we were waiting to be herded into the plane.  The spouse noticed the boxes of Kelloggs cornflakes in his open paperbag.  "You've got the real thing in there - they are much nicer than the ones in KL", the spouse said to him with a smile. 

He returned the smile and wistfully replied, "I had to get this for my son - they were the last two boxes on the shelf !"

"How old is your son?".  I asked.

He replied, "32!"  and we all shared a good laugh.

As the journey began and all the passengers had  settled down,  the two passengers to my left  were going through the motion of getting to know each other.  She was Malaysian like him and had been working in the City in London for the past ten years and was now heading for KL to start a new job as a Financial/Investment  Officer with Khazanah.  She was asking him for tips about buying property in KL, about how she made a good  move in buying a 2-room apartment (not a flat) in the Docklands  and how property prices in London are going through the roof right now.  "Is it the same in KL?  Which condominiums would make the best buy and a remunerative investment?."

While drifting in and out of sleep I picked up ( I couldn't help it.  I was sitting and sleeping next to them!!!) more insights into the life and times and wealth-making tips from two obviously well-heeled, middle class Malaysian Chinese.  It seemed the middle-aged man flew frequently into London, where he and his sons owned a couple of properties.   He has been to Lisbon, Milan, Egypt etc etc.  And they both exchanged views about their visits to various cities in Europe and interestingly to some  mosques in Istanbul, Damascus and Cairo.  Good for them - they didn't travel just for the sake of shopping in pricey department stores.

But I wonder, would they be interested in visiting some of the old (and new) mosques in their own country?  Also, do mosques in Malaysia allow entry (of course not during prayer times) of non-Muslim visitors as in other countries in the Middle East?

When we were travelling in the Nilgiri Hills in India in the late 1980s, we visited an Adivasi village.  We approached their little temple, but because I was a female I was not allowed to enter.

The two priests are on the right.

I acknowledged and respected their belief and waited outside while the spouse went in accompanied by the priests,

(Which brings me to an amusing piece of news about the behaviour of  tourists in London.)

Read :

I think the insolent pup got what he deserved!

On arriving at KLIA we had a long long wait (over an hour) for our luggage to arrive on the carousel. With the delay, we worried about being able to get the right taxi - the last time we arrived at KLIA (November 2014) we could only get a taxi/van for 8 passengers because KLIA Taxi Service had run out of normal taxis!!   This time they ran out of the normal limo and so it had to be the  Luxury Limo which set us back by MYR 238.  ( One GBP = MYR 5.9)

Just to be bloody-minded, I decided to make a comparison of the cost of a taxi from Airport to home in KL and in Leicester.

1.  The distance between Leicester and Heathrow is 162 km, and it's 78.4 km between KLIA and Setiawangsa.

2.  The taxi fare to Heathrow from Leicester is GBP110 and it's GBP40 from KLIA to STW. Therefore per km you pay 51p in Malaysia and 67p in England.    So far, so good.

3.  BUT  petrol costs GBP 1.16 / litre in England.  In Malaysia it's 34p/ litre - just about 1/3 of the price in England!  

I suppose taxi operators in Leicester could pick up a few tips from their counterparts in Kuala Lumpur.  

But that's a digression.

The journey from KLIA to STW proved to be just as interesting as the flight from London.  We had a very helpful and courteous taxi driver.   When we got into his taxi, the driver just got on with his job while we sat back to admire the night lights of Sepang highway.    We like it when we can be left alone in the vehicle and not be interrogated about our marital status, our whereabouts, our number of children/grandchildren, our occupation and so on and so forth.   And our taxi driver did just that!

I then asked Iain about the time and as he was in the dark the driver very kindly looked at the clock on his dashboard to tell us the time.  He then, without sounding too quizzy enquired where we came from.  From then on, the conversation took on a very interesting turn.  David (the taxi driver) did most of the talking and we were given a fascinating insight into the head and heart of a working class Malaysian Chinese.

David had been driving his taxi for the past 5 years.  Prior to that he had been working in Hong Kong and China as a Sales Rep for a Hong Kong company.  He met his wife in Xichuan and his first child was born in China.  He decided to come home because of his father's failing health and as the only son he felt it was his duty to take over his father's job - as a taxi driver. Years ago, when he was working abroad, he was proud to call himself a Malaysian - those were the years when the Prime Minister of Malaysia was Dr Mahathir.    He now feels that so many things are going wrong in Malaysia and everything seem to be turning bad and so many Malaysians are feeling unhappy and angry - especially with corrupt shenanigans in high places.      1MDB figured prominently in his discontent.

He talked about the hassle he went through to get a Visa for his China-born wife.  When we told him how applicants for ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) in UK  - equivalent to a PR status in Malaysia - had to take an English Language Test and a "Life in UK" test (see sample questions at the end of this posting), he was quite surprised to learn how the rules in Malaysia are so undemanding.

He also talked about the rising cost of living in Malaysia .   We countered with some comments about the UK.   We told him what we had to pay for Council Tax (the equivalent of a house assessment tax in Malaysia), our water supply, gas, electricity and phone, and the cost of bus fare and fuel - he was quite shocked. When he asked about health facilities, we mentioned free health care provided by the NHS - but also told him how cutbacks and lack of funding for the NHS was becoming a great concern for the British public.  The elderly for instance had to wait on trolleys for hours before they could be given a bed in a ward.  Unless it's a dire emergency you had to wait 3-4 days before you could see your GP and even then the surgery would ask you to go straight to the A and E Unit at the hospital where you can expect to wait 5 hours or more before you get to see a doctor.

"Wow", he said.  "My father had to have a heart by-pass.  At a private hospital he would have to pay $36,000.  But the government hospital in Seremban sent him to IJN for the operation which came to just 1/6 of the cost at the private hospital."  He further added how IJN took good care of his father  during and after the operation.  He went on to describe  how the maternity unit of the Seremban Government Hospital (where his second child was born) was far, far superior to the private hospital in China where his first-born was delivered.  He was almost gushing about the postnatal services that his wife received.

To David, health and education facilities matter very much and on those two concerns he realised that Malaysians are very lucky.  But there was one thing that worried him.  His eldest son attends a Chinese medium Sekolah Kebangsaan.  He was concerned that the teaching of history is not up to par, not like what he received when he was studying at St Xavier in Seremban.  His son's history  (according to David) was mainly about   Twin Towers and Proton.  David exclaimed "What about 'Kesultanan Melaka" and Hang Tuah?'    And this from a young Chinese who had said, early in the conversation (and with no idea that I was Malay): "I am Chinese Malaysian, and I accept that we are a different case to Malay Malaysians - we should not expect the same rights."

Spoken like a true Malaysian !!!

What an experience for a grumpy-ole- Scottish/English-git and a moaning-ole-Malay-maverick-minnie.

What a difference from our last long haul flight on MAS.

Read :


Samples of questions for the compulsory Life in UK test - to qualify for Indefite Leave to Remain

1.  Which two names are given to the period before the Norman Conquest?
2.  Which of these statements about the Crimean War is correct?
3.  At what age did Queen Victoria become Queen of the United Kingdom?
4.  TRUE or FALSE :  Most paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland have now decommissioned their arms and are inactive.
4.  Why did the United States enter the Second World War in December 1941?

The passing mark for the tests must be at least 75%.

For your information the English Language Test includes  a speaking and listening qualification at B1 CEFR  (CEFR = Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) level AND even if you have GCSE in English, it is not recognised as it doesn't test speaking and listening skills.

And oh yes, you have to pay for each Test you take.  And if you fail, you just try and try and pay and pay again.

And that makes me wonder - during the pre-Independence period, what conditions and requirements were necessary to become a Malayan citizen?

Here's a little pome to end this posting :


'Why of the sheep do you not learn peace?'
'Because I don't want you to shear my fleece.'

William Blake (1757 - 1827)

Sunday, 14 June 2015

On Se Quitte Toujours - We always leave

The packing's done. The house has been put to bed.

In 4 hours' time Yasir (Wania's Baba) will  take us to Heathrow  to catch MAS at 2000 hours.

We always leave
And the page is turned
To new  familiar faces
We look in turn.

And is believed to discover
The sun rises
And we see bloom again
The flowers of a new dream."

Farewell to Jack  and his garden and the heady days of summer.
Jack and spouse and Stanley

We'll be welcomed (I hope) with open paws by ...

TRUSTY RUSTY - who was warded again a month ago.
SHY AND RETICENT SOCKS (photo taken by my brother Mus)

.......  and in time for a peaceful Ramadan for all.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Kudos and Brickbats and Pontianak

KUDOS to Malaysia for taking immediate action against the  European showoffs  (even if it's only 4 out of 10) for their blatant display of arrogance and contempt for local beliefs and culture on Mount Kinabalu, Sabah.

 I wonder - what if some Malaysians  (male and female) peeled off their clothes and urinated  at .....

Petroglyphs Park Woodview, Ontario (Photo by Robin L. Lyke)

Maeshowe, Orkney Islands - part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site - just like Mount Kinabalu.

... and
Assen Megalithic Site (Netherlands) containing granite 5,500 year old burial mounds.

Do read

It seemed that Ms Eleanor Hawkins, aged 23,  a graduate in aeronautical engineering,  was quite 'upset' and 'distressed' , according to her father.  Being arrested is 'not a situation she's been in before'!. Oh dear, how many times have she and her 9 comrades  been in situations where they go starkers just for the hell of it!

Because this news item referred to Malaysia, I always get very curious about the comments contributed in The Independent.  This is because ....

Extract from MORI social research institute  "You are what you read" by Bobby Duffy and Laura Rowden
..... as seen from the research above, the readership of The Independent is not made up of the 'great unwashed'  and the hoi polloi.  The last-mentioned inhabit papers like The Sun and the Daily Star.  As for The Independent,  46% of the readers come from the top A/B class ( Higher, intermediate managerial administration, professional occupations who make up 22% of the population)  and 36% from the C1 class  (Supervisory, clerical and junior managerial, administrative, professional occupations making up 30.8% of UK's population).

Quite a number of the comments were quite sympathetic to the distress of the people in Sabah.  There were others who were simply bigoted and pig ignorant.

But , as I expected, any news pertaining to Malaysia never fail to bring out a good dose of  Malay-Muslim bashing, a favourite pre-occupation of the 'liberals' in UK's media.

The irony of it  - Malaysia  (a "muslim majority country notorious for discriminating against every other race and any other religion" ) -  is adamantly critical of the insult and distress heaped on her native and Christian  population in Sabah and took immediate action to bring these miscreants to justice.

 KUDOS to Singapore for taking swift action against 16 year-old Amos Yee ...

.... for 'crossing the line between freedom and offence' (Chia Boon Teck).  In March this year he was arrested - facing multiple criminal charges -  when on You Tube he called Lee Kuan Yew a "horrible person". made an offensive drawing of Lee Kuan Yew and Margaret Thatcher having sex and went on to describe Jesus and the late Lee Kuan Yew as both "power hungry and malicious'.

He's out on bail of GBP9,800 and faces a fine and up to three years jail if found guilty.

Check :

To quote a Singapore lawyer Chia Boon Teck, Amos Yee's "utterance against Christians amounted to a 'deliberate intent to wound religious feelings'  ".

BRICKBATS to Malaysia for allowing Alvin Tan and other mainly non-Malay and non-Muslim cybertroopers to get away with  'utterances' against Islam and Muslims  with a 'deliberate intent to wound religious feelings'.

Like the 16 year-old Amos Yee,  Alvin and the other hate-mongers were citizens of the country they deliberately offended.


As I finish this posting, Leicester time is 6.48 am.  I don't think I will find time to read up on Malaysian news.   I have to get on with preparations for another peregrination - to balek kampung - to my tanah air  riddled with Pontianaks!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Living and Laughing in Leicester

When I left  AsH.blogspot on Friday, I said I was going out to smell the roses. Well, I didn't have to step out of the house because ........

...... as is normal with Jack - when he comes for dinner - he always brings me a bunch of flowers from his garden and this time it's a posy of roses.  He must have been reading my mind.

That was a feast for my eyes and nose.

And here's the dessert for my eyes and ears.

When we got back to Leicester in March, little Wania had departed for Pakistan to visit her grandparents  with her Mum and Dad and little sister Iman.

This was Wania and Dadi in April 2013.

This is a video of Wania in Pakistan about a month ago - praying with her Mum.




Here's a lesson  for Wania and Iman about living and laughing in Leicester, their hometown.


Dint expect yer this early.

Come on in then.

D'yer wanna cob or oat?  (Would you like a roll or something?)

Pack it in!  (Stop doing that)

Giz it now!  ( Give me that, please!)

Gerroff or else! (Get off or I'll call the police)

And here's Leicester folks having a good day out on 22 February 2015 watching the controlled demolition of the much-hated Leicester City Council Offices in the City Centre.

Do perk your ear for a bit of Leicester exclamation at 1.55 on the video.


Friday, 29 May 2015

FIFA - fo-fum, I smell the ...........

Remember the Giant's song in the fairy tale "Jack and the Beanstalk" ?

I smell the blood of an Englishman.
Be he alive , or be he dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread.


I'm sick and tired of the never-ending news in the print and electronic media - especially Channel 4 and ITV3 - revealing the financial shenanigans in FIFA .  As if there's no other significant news and grief affecting the world to report on.

Corruption in the world of sports is no gob-smacking issue.  FIFA has been the subject of scrutiny for years - though they seem to have a teflon-like skin.    And it's not so different to the powers-that-be turning a blind eye to other scandals and depravities, both financial and moral.

For instance, crimes like paedophilia have been swept under the carpet for yonks.  In the Catholic Church paedophiles have been tucked away and protected by the establishment for decades; and what about the 4,000 infants buried in unmarked and unconsecrated graves in a septic tank within the grounds of a home for unwed mothers run by Catholic nuns from 1925-1961?


Just yesterday, there came another revelation of institutional child sex abuse going back decades - this time in the Methodist Church.


Besides, secular institutions and non-religious characters are also capable of  "crimes of moral destruction"- especially in the entertainment media - Jimmy Saville, Rolf Harris, Gary Glitter, Dave Lee Travis, the list goes on.  Such perfidy has also touched those who were elected representatives and defenders of democracy in the British Houses of Parliament.  Names like Cyril Smith, Rhodes Boyson, and Leon Brittan have cropped up again and again, together with stories of cover-ups by their Parliamentary peers, and the wider establishment.

Here in my home patch in Leicester there's the case of the Labour MP for Leicester West, Lord Greville Janner.

Decades ago, Leicester folks knew "it was a matter of office gossip that he liked boys, or young men in their mid-20s".

Lord Greville Janner of Braunstone

Here's an outline of  Lord Janner's "crime that will not speak its name".

From Mail Online 26 April 2015
Twenty two offences, nine victims.   But Lord Greville Janner's dementia got him off the hook.   Well, here's a comment in one of the newspaper reports regarding Janner's disability to be charged in court for sex offences .......

Read more in :

Maybe Leicester needs an American style  FBI and State Department sponsored investigation???


And now we have the most recent knave of moral transgression - FIFA - as exposed by the FBI .


Here are four titillations to be considered.

1.  President Vladimir Putin argues that the criminal inquiry is aimed at ousting Sepp Blatter.... as punishment for continuing to support Russia as host for the 2018 World Cup.

2.  Why is the US policing  soccer,  ooops football?

Qatar beat US to the 2022 bid for the World Cup

Read :

 According to a BBC report: "The pantheon of world soccer  [ooops, that word again]  has a new hero".    And who is it?     It's US Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch


3.  Working in conjunction with US is Switzerland.   Switzerland has abandoned her banking secrecy provisions (now undertaken by Singapore and Hong Kong instead) and is no longer a heaven for tax evasion and money laundering; in addition, the Swiss Parliament recently classified heads of sporting associations as "politically exposed persons".     The Swiss now launch an investigation into Fifa over its "financial irregularities".   ("Traditionally," said The BBC, " Fifa has been subject to the vaguest legislation, its book-keeping standards needing to be no more rigorous than those of the village ski club" ).            

All well and good.     But ....what about that doyen of international banking, HSBC?  A report in February 2015 (in The Guardian) revealed how the Swiss failed to  supervise or control HSBC Swiss from hiding large sums of money paid in by drug runners, "politically exposed persons" like political figures and their relatives involved in corruption, money laundering, blood diamond trading, corrupt military sales and also the looters from the former Soviet Union.

Read :

And as for the fourth titillation:

4.  According to Jason Ditz, "Already we're seeing a dramatic shift in focus for the FIFA conference, and the planned vote on suspending Israel for the mistreatment of Palestinians seems almost certain to be delayed".

Read :


Predictable Postscript:

Heard the news an hour ago that Sepp Blatter was re-elected.  It does help when every country, however tiny or poor are given one vote each - just like USA or UK or Australia.

Also, as predicted, Israel was not kicked out of  FIFA.

Have a fragrant weekend.  I hope to go out and smell the roses.


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 shortages, of drownings 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 just  "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 Peninsula, 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, Australian 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.


POST SCRIPT :  (after my posting) referring to Aung San Suu Kyi

Take a look at :


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 in USA 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.