Sunday, 30 November 2014

Petronas - Tabungkan lah duit kamu

When we got back to Leicester in August this year, we were so happy to discover that ......
.......... the price of our favourite frozen fast food had not gone up at all.

We took out a couple of packets to boil for our dinner.  The spouse also made mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.  We sat down, snipped the packet and what dropped out of it were indeed cod steaks in parsley sauce ... but much reduced in size - by nearly a quarter - compared to a few months ago.

Once back in Kuala Lumpur, we bought a fresh tank of gas - the price had gone up from MYR $25 to $29.  But who are we to grumble?  There are millions of others living under much more straitened circumstances, with children to feed, to clothe and to educate.

I cannot bear to think what our children from deprived families have to do without.  I can remember a time when we used to come home after school to a lunch of just rice, kicap and fried ikan bilis.  Our Abah was paying off a loan to our taukeh kedai because he had been diddled by his 'manager' and customers when he was running a a sundry shop - "Malay Trading" at 5 milestone Pasir Panjang Road.


And even when life got better, we had to limit our demands and desires for the fancy stuff of life. When I was in Secondary school, I insisted on getting a pair of  top of the range Bata Badminton Masters canvas shoes.  When the join between the rubber frontal end and the canvas fell apart, I dared not ask for a new pair.  So I sewed the two parts together - several times - as they kept on splitting apart.  I did not ask for a new pair until the soles got worn out as well.

A pair of  Bata Badminton Masters.  This image is taken from

When my Crescent Girls' School blouse became threadbare on the back - mainly because of heavy sweating - my mother sewed a light yellowish square patch on the inside to enable me to keep on wearing the blouse.  My sister and I were allowed only 2 blouses per year.  You see, that yellow cotton material could be bought from only one approved supplier - Heap Hin at Cecil Street I think. The material for both the peacock blue skirt and the yellow blouse were priced at $3.50 per yard - and that was a lot of money then!

The habit of savings was very much encouraged during our schooling days - by both our parents and our primary schools.

Report in the Co-Ed, Pasir Panjang English School 1956

Report in the Co-Ed, Pasir Panjang Primary School, 1955

At home, Abah would get us a cute little savings box, shaped like a house.

To retrieve your savings, simply twist and separate the house from the base!

The above image was not my original "National Savings Bank'.  I bought this from a car-boot sale at Saddington, Leicester about 15 years ago.  And it cost me all of 20p!  I was in ecstasy for days and days after that acquisition.  This phone-box savings tin was probably from the 1940s .  It was a treat for 10p.

My ten-pence box.

I wonder if  parents encourage and practise the art of savings for their children in this hi-tech 21st century.  Do the young ones physically place their coins in little savings boxes?  Maybe they do it online or perhaps their parents set up trusts in all kinds of funds and stocks and shares???

The fun in savings was to hear the rattle of the coins, to feel the growing weight and then to pour it all on a table, count them and take them to the Post Office Savings Counter to be transferred into your own account.  But of course there had to be the mandatory deduction for an ice cream - my favourite was an ice-cream tucked in a slice of bread!

"Tabungkan Duitmu " is taken from a 78 rpm record, probably during the 1940s/1950s. 

This song, like all the remembrances and values noted above, comes from a bygone age.   Of course, some may regard them as out-of-date and irrelevant.   In this age of excessive and almost obscene consumerism, I think people have to take a step back and re-evaluate the way they devour and squander the world's resources, and their own as well!  But I'm grumbling and I have to stop.


But now, let's come down to earth and ponder our present  and disquieting reality.

In today's NST
A few days ago Petronas warned about a 12% drop in net profit.  Malaysia has been riding on a wave of rising prices of gas and crude oil.   As a result,  Petronas  has been used and abused as  the 'goose that laid the golden eggs'  to subsidise and bail out  profligacy in Malaysia.


But the ways and purpose of the world's economy are never as straightforward as they are made out to be. You have to look beyond the  dollars and (non)sense.

Firstly the IMF regards this as good news.    Read ; about the view expressed  by Christine Lagarde , IMF's Managing Director at a conference of corporation chief executives sponsored by the Wall Street Journal.

Secondly I would suggest looking at another scenario.


Here's an exract.

USA, Israel, Saudi Arabia - strange bedfellows!

Also look at :

When the elephants fight, the grass gets trampled.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Lely - An Unconquerable Soul

On 4 March 2011 I wrote this posting for Lely's birthday - titled Lely - The Fish That Swims Upstream.
Lely, the intrepid camera girl.

Lely or Mak Nyonya is a Pisces.  There are two parts to the Pisces.  One takes the easier option and swims downstream.  The other like Lely - lives the life of the other fish that swims upstream, the one that had to negotiate the boulders, the strong currents and rapids just to keep body and soul together.

She was  abandoned by her father even before she was born.  Her mother worked as a washerwoman to provide for herself and Lely.  Lely recalled the time when she was about 6/7 years old when she and a couple of her kampung friends rummaged through the dustbins of British Army personnel living in terrace houses near her kampung to look for all kinds of  goodies like toys and books.

When her mother found her out, she received such a caning with her mother crying,  " Tak cukup kah, apa mummy kasi lu?  Mummy kerja sana-sini cuci baju jadi tak payah lu bongkar orang punya tong sampah!"    That day, Lely learned that one does not need to be rich to keep one's pride and dignity.

Like all young girls, she fell in love.  But it was not to be because he died too soon - while at work - in a diving accident.  I recalled standing in Irene's kitchen holding her as her tears fell like rain - actually like a rainstorm - on my shoulder.  I knew how she felt.  I was the same when my brother passed away, too soon.  But that is no comfort at all for each loss and each grief is a very singular pain that cannot be shared.

Despite these trials and tribulations she never lost hope and maintained an immense joy for life and all of Allah's blessings.
She found room in her heart for little, young people ..
.....and tall, older people ....
...... and even Miss Hamid,  a very strict schoolmarm.
Her greatest happiness, I do believe, is to lose herself in the world of nature and "all its creatures, great and small."  All she needs is her camera.
She's happy here in a forest in New Zealand with her camera.  Lely  is the little red blob

Then on 15 January 2012 she suffered a stroke, caused by a very rare congenital illness in the brain.  It is called AVM (Arteriovenous Malformation) - a tangled web of arteries and veins in the brain where a lot of blood is pushed through a concentrated area building up a pressure causing a stroke, aneurism and haemorrhage.  See :

As a result it paralysed her left side and left a hole in her skull about 4 inches x 5 inches in size.  She was and is still dependent on a wheelchair  but her indomitable stubbornness and patience with acupuncture and massage has enabled her to be a little more mobile.

But the major problem was the hole in her head.  We often joked about how she may lose her brain if that hole is not covered up.  "What brain?", she laughed.  She went for two scans to check on the state of the AVM, one in 2012, another in 2013.  But no, - there was no change and it left her in more tears of disappointment.  She went for another one last week.  When I spoke to her on the phone two days ago, she said,  "Miss Hamid, this time I shall not expect too much.  Whatever happens, I shall not get upset."

Today (Thursday), she called to give us the result.

In January 2015, she will go for another scan - to measure the size of the cover for  the hole in the skull!!!!   That will be followed by another operation to complete the closure of the AVM. Syukur Alhamdulillah.

(That hole had to remain until the Specialist was certain that the clot caused by the  AVM had been cleared).

She still has a battle to get back the mobility in her left arm and leg - she still needs her wheelchair - but she has climbed over a helluva mountain.

Lely had had a lot of help and support from her friends, especially Oi Bek and others (See paragraphs 4 and 5).

But for most of 2012 and 2013 and 2014, she made it mainly on her own.

I believe this poem INVICTUS by William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) fits you like a glove.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole, 
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years 
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Lely, as Uncle Iain said,  "We're very proud of you."

Here's the song you wanted to hear when you were in the ICU!!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

From Leicester with Love

Returned to home from home late on Sunday 16 November.  It took 3 hours from Leicester to Heathrow, 16 hours (with transit at Dubai) to KLIA  and another two hours to get home to Setiawangsa.  We made it - physically intact - not bad for two septuagenarians.

Here I am at 4 am Wednesday morning, still wide awake.  Might as well look up my Picture Folder to kill time.  I might get so tired and fall asleep, face flat on the laptop.

My passport indicates my homeland is Malaysia but my spirit and my soul still revolves around these images of my life in Singapore and  Semenanjung Tanah Melayu.

From my PPES School Magazine 1956

From my PPES School Magazine 1956

Remembering Bagan Datoh 1993

Remembering the budlear thriving  in  a rubble heap - Leicester October 2014

It's now 5 am - might as well give up trying and get to work on breakfast.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

An Indulgence

Autumn's in full swing and winter will soon be upon us.

Early in September the leaves were beginning to turn brown and from this lime tree.....

Lime Tree - Victoria Park, 4 September
 ...... the leaves began to fall.  I kept my eye on one falling leaf and voila! I got my photo of a freshly fallen lime leaf.

The biggest leaf in the centre, the freshly fallen.  One lime leaf down but not out because next spring,  young green leaves will take its place.

Came October and November and the trees in the Park kept on giving up their leaves.  This year, instead of scrunching them under my shoes, I decided to pick the leaves and take them home instead.

An assortment of autumn leaves from Victoria Park

Maple leaves, at various stages of turning to autumn.

The oak seems to get "browned off" earlier than the maple.

My years of living in England  has made me more aware (with a lot of tutoring from the spouse) of the beauty of nature around me.  I learned to recognise the trees (well, some), the leaves, the flowers and the berries - but don't ask me their botanical names.  It's something that most afficionados of trees and flowers like the spouse and Jack, who can reel off these names off the top of their heads.

Jack - in - the - Garden , 21 September 2014
I wish I had learned to be more appreciative of trees and flowers when I was growing up in Singapore in the 1950s.  My mother loved gardening and she had not one, but two green thumbs - a talent which she passed on to my sister Maznah.

This was all I could manage when I was working in Brunei .  It was my pride and joy.

But it's never too late.  I can identify my favourite wild flower - the Bunga Tahi Ayam (Camara Lantana).  They flourish in our garden at Setiawangsa.

The spouse even made me a hand-drawn picture of my favourite bloom.

But I have discovered a new love - the Senduduk - not the garden centre variety, but the wild Senduduk.

Lely's (Pickled Herring) picture of the wild Senduduk in our garden.
Another 'wild' interest of mine was my hunt for my favourite fruit tree.  The tree and fruits belonged to no one.  It grows free and happy anywhere in the kampung and brings so much joy to all the children who would climb all over its branches, pick its fruits and know that you will be safe from irate neighbours or their dogs.

I was absolutely delirious when - after endless searchings - I found my beautiful  and bountiful tree at Paya Jaras, Sungai Buloh a few years ago.

Pokok Ceri

That one red juicy wild cherry - how my brothers and I would scramble over each other just for a bite and a gulp.

Those were the days.  I hope that Pokok Ceri will still be there when we get back.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

453 (Great Britain) - 21,000 (Afghanistan)

21,000 Afghani civilians = Big Dark Square.  453 British service personnel = Small White Square.

Now that  Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, and Poppy Day  have been laid to rest - for this year - it's time for more reflections about invasions and killings post-1945.  The First and Second World Wars were basically tribal wars between Christian- European civilizations in their bid for supremacy,  not only in Europe, but in the rest of the world.

People from other non-Christian 'civilizations' were also dragged into this bloodshed - those from the British, French, Belgium, German, Italian and other Empires.  As for the involvement of the WASP  (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant)  USA, they chose to do so - and at the end of both world wars, they became - till today- the most powerful nation on earth.

The bloodshed of both world wars has been recorded in endless books, documentaries, videos and  movies.  This year marks the 100th anniversary of the First World War, a war that killed almost a whole generation of young men, a war aptly described as a "war fought by lions and led by donkeys".
People were more at ease when it came to remembering the dead of those two world wars. But the wars and deaths of post 1945 - the killings of the Vietnam War, the 'Troubles' in Ireland, and the invasions of the Middle East pre and post  September 11 were unpalatable.  The victims, overwhelmingly were not "us", and the commemoration of the perpetrators sticks like craw in the throats of the afflicted.

Note this 'protest' by Wigan Athletic's Republic of Ireland international winger James McClean.

McClean's letter to the Chairman of the Club

Read :

Harry Leslie Smith, a 90 year old survivor of the two world wars wrote in 2013

"...... it will be the last time that I bear witness to those soldiers, airmen and sailors who are no more, at my local cenotaph.  From now on, I will lament their passing in private because my despair is for those who live in this present world.  I will no longer allow my obligations as a veteran to remember those who died in the great wars to be co-opted by current or former politicians to justify our folly in Iraq, our morally dubious war on terror and our elimination of one's right to privacy."

Read  :

They are both brave and principled men.  If only Muslims in Britain are allowed to express their reservations and principles in the same way ;  " ..... for me to wear a poppy would be as much a gesture of disrespect for the innocent who lost their lives in the Troubles -..( James McClean) like on  the 'War on Terror' in the Middle East.

" I am not a warmonger, or anti-British, or a terrorist ....  I am a peaceful guy .. "

James McClean, you have taken the words right out of the mouths of many Muslims in Britain!

In a blaze of glory, the last remaining British troops left Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, Afghanistan on 26 October 2014.  Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan was supposedly to
"turf out al-Qaeda ....

 ........ and burn the poppy-crop; to protect an education policy for Afghan women....

... and finally to protect the streets of Britain from Islamist threats."


So what's the verdict now that the British troops are back home?  453 deaths of British personnel were recorded - from October 2001 to October 2014.  Their names and photographs were publicised by the British Government

UNAMA ( United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan) "estimate that 11,614 civilians died .... in Afghanistan.  However, ..... this figure - which only accounts for just over half the war - is likely to be an underestimate.
The Watson Institute of Brown University in the US, estimates that 21,000 civilians have died as of February this year, ..."

"Ultimately  we will probably never know exactly how many civilians died as a result of the conflict or what their names were."   (Note the use of the benign word 'conflict'.)

Read :


So, here's the background for the above diagram.  The large green square represents the 21,000  (underestimated) civilian Afghani deaths  and the white patch within illustrates the proportion of British fatalities.

When Christians moan the fate of Christians in the Middle East and turn to Princes and Patriots for succour -  the carnage of Muslim deaths in Afghanistan  (and Iraq and Libya and Palestine) provides the other side of the coin - the context so to speak.  Hallelujah!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Prince Charles - a prince among (some) men.

On BBC1 News two or three nights ago there was an item on the launch of a report by a Catholic charity.    Accompanying the launch was a statement  by His Royal Highness Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales, KG, KT, GCB, OM, AK, QSO, PC, ADC, Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.

In his video message HRH Prince Charles said,  " It is an indescribable tragedy that Christianity is now under such threat in the Middle East, an area where Christians have lived for 2000 years and across which Islam spread in 700 AD, with people of different faiths living together peaceably for centuries."

The report, by Aid to the Church in Need, claimed that "across the world, Christians remain the most persecuted religious minority, while Muslim countries predominate among states with the most serious violations of religious freedom."  (My emphasis in bold).

The report also said that "as Western Europe becomes more diverse, political and social tensions are rising between different faith and cultural groups".

John Pontifex, who compiled the religious freedom report, says "all faith communities need to work together to stand up for the right to worship in peace."

"We do not want to be alarmist but we do want to tell the truth in this report about the degrees to which minority groups - Yazidis, and indeed of course Christians, are being pushed out of their homelands."

"It is in effect a genocide.  What more evidence does one need to point to it being a genocide?"

Read :    (4 November 2014)

Also read:


On 18 December 2013, at a reception for Middle East Christians at Clarence House in London ...

Read :

......" I have for some time now been deeply troubled by the growing difficulties faced by Christian communities in various parts of the Middle East."

"It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are increasingly being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamic militants."

          Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgement ye
          judge, ye shall be judged:  and with what measure ye mete, it shall be
          measured to you again.  And why beholdest thou the mote in thy 
          brother's  eye, but considerest  not the beam that is in thine own eye?  
          Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of
          thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?  Thou hypocrite,
          first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see
         clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother's eye.
         (The Bible. Matthew 7:1-5)

HRH Prince Charles will one day - on the demise of his mother Queen Elizabeth II - ascend the
British throne.  Fidei Defensor or 'Defender of the Faith' will be one of his assignations.  He will be the 'Defender of the Anglican Faith' (as of 1544) and this signifies the British monarch's position as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, a position that is superior (formally) to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Another inherited title is  Dieu et mon droit - meaning God and my right - referring to the divine right of the king/queen to govern.

This you can observe in the British Passport

Note 'Dieu et mon droit' at the base of the logo

and the British coin.
The 50p coin.  FD stands for  'Fidei Defensor'.

In 1994 HRH did declare that "I personally would rather see (my future role) as Defender of Faith, not the Faith."

If that is HRH's desire then maybe he should be a bit more circumspect about apportioning blame to Islam for causing agony to the Middle Eastern Christians - in the same way that Catholics and other Christian groupings are doing.    Such people are merely 'menanggok di air yang keroh' .... or making hay while the sun shines and striking while the iron' s hot.

Let us remember: allegations that Islam and Muslims are more violent, than any other faith and groupings on this planet must always be seen in a context - and a context Westerners usually forget:

1.  Countries with the Christian heritage have killed off tens of millions of people in the wars of the twentieth century, 16 million in World War I, 60 million in World War II.  Some have attributed more deaths during WW II to "Buddhists in Asia" - because Buddhists in the Zen orders supported Japanese militarism.  And today you have the Buddhist monks of Myanmar pushing for the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas.

2.  Then there were those killed in the Colonial (Christian) wars against non-Christian natives. In India we have the Battle of Plassey,  the Indian Mutiny and other colonial 'skirmishes".  Belgium - a strongly Catholic country, - in its conquest over the Congo killed off half of the Congolese - at least 8 million.

3.  Does Christianity  want to be reminded of the Holocaust of over 6 million Jews - that Christianity thrived on the belief that Jews were the killers of Jesus Christ.  Who pays for this 'indescribable' crime?  They are mainly the Muslims in Palestine and by default the  Christians of the Christian Holy Land.

4.  Most recently, Christian civilization has surpassed itself in inflicting civilian deaths on Muslim populations in Bosnia, Iraq (twice), Afghanistan  - using the "official" excuse of a "War on Terror". Their direct involvement in 'wars of liberation' in Libya and Egypt, their support for Muslim radical/extremist groups like al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS is well-documented.   Of course you will not find such facts in documents and videos publicised  by Christian charity groups like  'Aid to the Church in Need'.

5.  If Muslims are slaughtering each other today, do take into account the inter-Christian butchery that took place during the Christian Reformation and Counter-Reformation.  And Christian civilization seems to have little stomach to analyze and discuss the "indescribable tragedy" of  the African Slave Trade that claimed 10 million African lives or the number of Native Americans in North, Central and South America hunted and massacred during Christian Colonial Conquests.


The killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby in May 2012 sparked off blood-curdling cries against Islam in Britain.  David Cameron regarded it as an "an attack on the British way of life".  One sane voice dared to differ.   Seumas Milne of the Guardian had this to say: "When Rigby became a target by Muslim extremists, it  was a predicted consequence of an avalanche of violence unleashed by the US, Britain and others in eight direct military interventions in Arab and Muslim countries that have left hundreds of thousands dead,  Only the wilfully blind or ignorant can be shocked when there is blowback from that onslaught at home.  The surprise should be that there haven't been more such atrocities."

Read :

When it comes to selecting victims, it seems that some victims, - especially Christians and Israelis - are more equal than others.  The Judaeo-Christians shield themselves, through their media machine, from the atrocities committed by their culture on others especially in  Muslim countries.

Other than perusing videos presented to him by sources related to his Faith - HRH might try to catch some of these .......

Bound and gagged: A Taliban insurgent in US custody in Afghanistan

A few days after the end of the Gulf ground war, an American soldier inspects the carbonized bodies of Iraqi soldiers killed when their convoy ... was bombed and strafed by Allied Aircraft.

Afghani children - victims of the War on Terror

More victims 

Victim of sanctions on Iraq

Victim of phosporus in Iraq - the very same 'weapon' used by Israel in Gaza.  With the phosporus bomb, "as the charge bursts, fragments of the white phosporus would be scattered ... at speed, and the particles spontaneously ignited on contact with the air.  They had a marked tendency to adhere to naked skin, where they would continue to burn and cause painful flesh wounds."  How different is this from ISIS's beheading??

Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before. 

Of course the minority Christians in the Middle East are victims of this terror war in their homeland but no more and no less than the majority who are Muslims.  To simply blame their plight on the Muslim extremists is mischievous - and perfidious.  For 2000 years these early Christians have lived in peace under Muslim rule.  Think: would they have survived the inter-Christianity wars in Europe in the Middle Ages, in the battle for supremacy between the Catholics and the Protestants? Think again - when did their world (and the Muslims too) began to fall apart.  Who made it difficult for Christians to make their pilgrimage to the Holy Land?

Perhaps HRH should also listen to other concerned voices like CAAT  (Campaign Against Arms Trade).

Prince Charles dressed up in the costume of a ceremonial sword dance in Saudi Arabia to "help enhance military links"

And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."  And they cast lots to divide his garments.  (Luke 23:34)


Dr Mahzan bin Haron, this posting is for you.  You (among a couple of others) nagged me incessantly to get to work on writing.  

Three days ago you wrote me  "If you stop, it's like a doctor who stops practicing because there's so much diseases and sick people around and it's only getting worse now."

I'm weary and the leaves are turning brown ...

Victoria Park - Our Haven.

.......  but you're making sense, just like my Abah, just like your Tok Antan.