Monday 29 December 2008

Thirteen Years Ago - Almost to the Day

Last night, two good friends, Shakila and Mus came to visit us with their son Shazwan, who is now a hulking young lad of 19 (?) 20 (?) but never mind his age - he still laughs like he did 13 years ago, except in a deep baritone range.

While we were talking about acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, deep laughter interfered with our serious discussion. Shazwan was reading :

Hempa'ti Dempa'ti dudok di-pagar
Hempa'ti Dempa'ti jatoh ta'sadar:
Semua kuda raja dengan semua orang gaji
Ta'dapat angkat Hempa'ti dan taroh balek lagi.

followed by :

Suleman Piatu, beranak hari satu,
Beri nama hari dua, kawin hari tiga,
Kena sakit hari ampat, terok pada jema'at,
Mati hari anam, di-tanam hari minggu,
Itu lah penghabis Suleman Piatu.

He was reading Haji's Book of Malayan Nursery Rhymes by A.W. Hamilton, first published in Australia, 1947. The Preface states these Nursery Rhymes were first published in pamphlet form at the time of the Malaya-Borneo Exhibition in 1922. Would anyone out there be able to offer the original English rhyme? ( Mum's the word Shazwan.) No prizes offered but this
precious book has both versions.

For this I am eternally grateful to Ruth, my mother-in-law. She collects junk like me. (Oh dear, that sentence has a very ambiguous meaning). What I mean is : Like me, she also collects junk but hers is top notch stuff.

'Twas wonderful to catch up with Shakila and her two boys .

If a man does not make new acquaintance as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair.
Samuel Johnson.

Maal Hijrah and Happy 2009 to All.

AND I WEEP FOR YOU, PALESTINE. May your sons and daughters keep the faith and the courage.

Saturday 27 December 2008

C. P. Lim's Lament

Thank you gosmusik for Gilbert O'Sullivan's Why Oh Why Oh Why.

One man's meat is another man's poison. One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist!!.. To the British, the IRA is a terrorist outfit but the Irish (at least the Catholics) have a different perspective on it. And by the way, the Irish troubles have always been dressed as sectarian violence, not religious, as between the Catholics and the Protestants. It's to do with the 'flexibility' of the English language.

Ong Boon Hwa, alias Lim Chin Peng, is a freedom fighter in the eyes of Western academics, old-fashioned Socialists, present day Liberals, chauvinists and self-loathing 'liberal' Malays. Let's chew on this a little:

The British Government, both Labour ( left-wing, so called) and Conservative (true blue right wing) were happy to bed with the Chinese Communists in Malaya when they were outclassed by the Japanese during the 2nd World War. It also became respectable for Winston Churchill, Roosevelt and de Gaulle to be holding hands with Stalin for the purpose of defeating Hitler. This is sleeping with the enemy under the 'selimut' (blanket) - cosying up before the knives are drawn once the alliance has outlived its usefulness. This was exactly what happened after the defeat of the Japanese in the Peninsula. The partners in this marriage of convenience parted and went on with their own agenda and guess who paid the price?
As early as 1943, MPAJA had drawn up a plan for a People's Republic of Malaya and it was endorsed by the international Communist setup. No Malay, be they the nobility or the rakyat, knew that their homeland had been given away without consultation or permission. And by the end of the war nearly 10,000 armed, trained and disciplined Chinese remained in the jungle.

Let's now look at LCP's credentials before we anoint him as the Malay Peninsula's liberation fighter. Born in 1924 in Perak, educated in Chinese and English, he joined AEBUS (Anti-Enemy Backing Up Society) to send aid to China in response to Japanese aggression in China. It's equivalent today to joining a Muslim Organisation to liberate Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Palestine from the Alliance of Judaeo-Christian Nations! The MCP is not a Malay Peninsula political and national force . The leaders are Chinese with Chinese names. Albeit there are Malays in it, like the precursor of the Ali Baba Syndrome. However one only has to look at the table above and judge the involvement of the Malays in the MCP.
LCP and his setup are nothing like Gandhi's in India, Sukarno's in Indonesia, Ho Chi-Minh's in Vietnam or Garibaldi's in Italy.
It had no support from the Malay peasants - the proportion of Malay guerrillas was 1 in 20 and this figure does not indicate whether this was pre- or post-Japanese defeat. But certainly the MCP was supported by half a million Chinese squatters - and Chinese 'farmers' squatting in agriculture, of course, was rare before the Economic Slump of the 1930s.

We need to ask this question. When did the Chinese (or the Indians for that matter) begin to see the Malay Peninsula as 'home' - in the sentimental, spiritual and traditional sense? Or has it just been the Goose that laid the Golden Egg, a temporary accommodation for enterprise and profit, which by the way also benefitted the British. Again a flocking of similar birds of passage.
In fact in the 1950s the Chinese were claiming the right to be loyal to Malaya and China. The Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce petitioned the Colonial Government for status to give them full citizenship rights in Malaya while remaining citizens of China - good try but the Brits were not buying.
If there was a negligible number of Malays in the MCP, this was paralleled by the scanty existence of Chinese in the Security Forces.Up to 1952, 20 Chinese enlisted in the Federation Regiment. Between 1 April to October 1952 there were 505 Chinese in the Federation of Malaya Police Force which is 0.089% of male Chinese population of 19 years and over. Before the Emergency, one could describe the attitude of the Malays to the Chinese as derived from envy. But now there was the element of anger. They bore the brunt of defending their homeland and protecting the British and Chinese Corporations from the terrorists. They had to leave their kampungs and agriculture unattended and the economic boom of the 1950s brought no benefit to them.

We all know what transpired with LCP when the Emergency 'ended' in 1960. He travelled to China to get permission for ending the armed struggle but Deng Xiaoping told him that "South East Asia was ripe for Revolution" and so the CPM maintained the 'war' for decades after. Following the 1966 Cultural Revolution in China, a sort of "verification" programme for Mao to purge his rivals, LCP's CPM in 1968 split into 3 factions accompanied by similar purges, mass trials and executions. Even though he was by now living in Southern China, Communist insurgency did not end. When the Cold War ended, i.e when the free market and capitalism did not remain a dirty word in Russia and China, LCP returned to southern Thailand for the 1989 Agreement. He vowed he was still a Marxist-Leninist, a dying breed in the rest of the world. He could claim to be so because Malaysia does not force people to recant, and publicly apologise and purge themselves of their 'sins'. He also wanted to carry on with his party activities.

Why does he want to come back to Malaysia? Leon Comber who served with the Special Branch during the Emergency had this to say.

I met Chin Peng in 1999 at a conference at Canberra.....He was like a towkay...spoke English, Malay and Chinese ...seemed forthright but who knows what he held back. In retrospect he was probably gathering information for his history (Chin Peng's book, 'My side of the Story' was published in 2003)
The problem with him coming back is that he is still adamant that he is a Marxist and unapologetic over the Emergency. My own view is that he just wants a place in history.

In October 2oo4 LCP was invited for a 3-day conference at Singapore's Institute of South-east Asian Studies and in June 2008 he failed in his appeal to return to Malaysia.

In May of this year at the street near my home in Leicester, Lely and I were confronted by racist taunts from 12-13 year olds , yes they were that young. They were half-black, half-Asian and full Asian kids. They yelled from across the street very proudly that they were "born in England". I replied and yelled "so are monkeys". I felt no pride in saying that because I was old enough to be their grandmother. They start very young nowadays.

There is a marked difference between being a person of Malaysian origin and a Malaysian citizen. You may have all the documents at hand but those years of insurrection and treason against the Malay Peninsula together with the deaths of 12,000 (?) civilians should make you a pariah and a persona non grata in any self-respecting nation.

LCP should just keep to writing and making speeches like ex-Prime Ministers and ex-Presidents do. He has a greater cache among the New Liberals and a more exciting tale to tell. If some Malaysians and Malaysian film makers are desperate in finding A LOCAL HERO, come and talk to Osman and Aisha.

Wednesday 24 December 2008

Three of the Best



Mary has the warmest and kindest heart. In her 4 room flat she gives shelter and succour to 40 (41?) moggies. They are picked up from the market, the bus stop, from the drain, at the car park, and some were dumped at her front door. Most of them were sick, mangy and emaciated but Mary, bless her, took them in.
She can only do this because her son and her daughter are paying the bills - all generous and noble souls.
So, Mary, have a happy Christmas and may 2009 bring you much joy and peace.

Aisha and 'Man , husband and wife, keep the estate clean and tidy. They both work very hard, toiling under the hot sun, travelling from Puchong to Setiawangsa every day to earn their living. They are the other face of the 'favoured and dominant' Malays. They are not lazy, contented layabouts waiting for handouts from the authorities. As Aisha has been feeling very poorly for the last month or so, 'Man has been doing two jobs, his and hers so that their income will not suffer.

A few months ago, they lost their 16 year old only daughter to cancer and they were given only a day's leave. Despite all this, these two courageous creations of Allah can find the room and the heart to feed the stray cats in the estate and also support several more which they rescued from the streets near their home.

I want to tell their story because we should all be ashamed of our grumblings about the rising costs of transport, of houses, of cars , of weddings, holidays and every other conceivable selfish moaning of our fate.

For Aisha and 'Man, may you have an easier and kinder 2009. We wish we could do more for you. But you have your dignity and you do not ask for any favours from anyone. You are the ultimate Malay Lady and Gentleman.

Monday 22 December 2008

The Ramblings of a Malay Malcontent (retired and retiring) - Part 1

This was scanned from my Pasir Panjang Primary School textbook titled Kitab Beneh Akal, published 1956 ( First Edition 1928 ) for The Department of Education, Federation of Malaya by Macmillan And Co. Limited, St Martin's Street , London. That should place me somewhere in the Mesozoic Era together with the dinosaurs! The kereta lereng is a bicycle - what do the Brits know in those days?

Thank you Kamikazepilze for this lovely song. Look out for the lady standing by the roadside with a baby in her arms at the part of "Badan pipis macam keropok...". That lady is Jai's grandmother (see my posting 28 November) and this whole scene was done in Kampong Tanjong Keling, Singapore. Thanks to P. Ramlee, the lost landscapes of Singapore are preserved in his movies. That's all that's left to us.

But we must be grateful because under Pax Britannica Malay society was preserved under the protectorate system. In fact in my Singapore Identity Card of 1956, I was registered as a BPP (British Protected Person) because I was born in Selangor. I still have that document. Also the feudal society was perpetuated. We , the noble savage needed to be preserved in our kampung, growing rice, vegetables, weaving baskets and mats and denied the education that the nobility and the immigrants in the urban areas were privileged to. Although now and then we have this strange desire to go amok, wielding parangs and sticks and threatening the the right of everybody else to make loadsa money. I suppose the Gulf Wars must be the Mother of all Amoks though the motives are a tat different - they are denying the poor Iraqis the
right to their own money.

But all was not lost for our great grandparents, or our great great grandparents because the nice 'orang putih' improved the irrigation and .. wait for this ... they even introduced cheap Japanese bicycles (hence the kereta lereng). But such high tech can have dire repercussions because the Japanese used precisely that vehicle to take over the Malay Peninsula.

Today the Malays have their SUVs, air-conditioned houses, English wallpaper lining their rooms, Queen Anne and crystal crockery, Portmeirion plates that cost RM 130 each, I am told. But this is just bread and circus - because the Malays are still bonded to the liturgy of the past : The Malay is not industrious... they are an indolent, contented, thriftless unambitious.... The Chinese who are the mainstay of the commerce of the country are the most numerous of the foreigners. They are engaged in every kind of trade and business, and monopolise the tin mining industry. This is an extract from " A School Geography of the Malay Peninsula" by G.W. Hepponstall, late Assistant Master, Victoria Institution, printed at The Methodist Publishing House, 1911.

Victor Purcell wrote this for a self governing Malaya.

...........Yet time serves wherein you may redeem
Your banished honours, and restore yourselves,

but this also serves as a cautionary statement for the Malays and their future generations.

Jangan Naik Basikal semacam Beruk.

To my young commentator, Putrajaya-afath, I hope you approve of this posting.

Saturday 20 December 2008

Nothing Rhymed (CsH)

Got back about 4 hours ago after nearly a week in Singapore. Throughout the 6 hour journey my mind ranged over what I've been doing and am putting these thoughts down before I lose them in a much needed sleep.

Firstly , I had to undergo a medical test at a Government Polyclinic for the 'renewal' of my driving licence - which in itself is a good thing, before I celebrate the venerable age of 65 next year. Basically it's to certify that I am physically and mentally (?) fit. Come to think of it, the doctor was very chatty and engaging. She talked about her elderly patients who are short of money and short of care from their children. She believed that children nowadays have been spoiled and regard their parents' sacrifice as a right rather than a privilege. I couldn't help but agree and I did enjoy that little natter with her. And so , I guess I must have shown her that all my marbles are intact. There was also an amusing test where I had to walk by placing one foot in front of the other without looking down. And this had to be done forward and backward! And yippee I passed. There will be another test when I touch 68. I hope to do just as well, that is unless I get certified for something else.

Tuesday the 16th was the date given for the verification of my brother's and father's graves at Pusara Aman, Choa Chu Kang before the exhumation sometime in February. I acknowledge why this had to be done, but it doesn't make the procedure less painful.

The officers who were handling the procedure were efficient and sensitive. After the registration I was given a numbered badge to pin on my blouse and to await another officer who will accompany me to the said graves. At each grave an orange label was attached to the headstone with my name and the names of these two much loved and much missed men. And that was that!!!

I realised when I got back to Jai's flat that I had failed to carry out what I normally do when I visit the graves. That episode on Tuesday had left me with numbness and disbelief, in fact it was quite surreal, like I was having an out of the body experience. I went back to Pusara Aman the next day and said my prayers for both of them. I scattered a mixture of yellow and white and purple petals and a packet of bunga rampai which was a free gift from the flower lady. She had been selling flowers at Pusara Aman for as long as I can remember. I noticed how she had aged and in her I see a reflection of how time has taken its toll on me as well.

I told my abah not to worry for I will be there when they move him and I also said to Akim that all will be well because he will be at abah's side. It all sounds soppy because as a Muslim I should realise that the soul takes precedence over the corporeal. But since 1974, visiting these two little plots of earth keeps a physical link between them and us. You could touch them when you visit and when you say goodbye until the next time that is.

As a last act of defiance, I plucked 2 red leaves of the Daun Jenjuang (Cordyline Terminalis) from Akim's grave . It was planted by my late mother on her son's grave. I also picked from the side of my dad's grave 2 wildflowers - the Ketumbit Jantan (Cupid's Shaving Brush) and the Malu-malu (Mimosa Pudica). I took them back , lay them flat between layers of newspaper to dry and to store in my pirate's chest at home.

For the plaque, you were given 16 characters only including spaces. I had to abbreviate Abdul Hamid bin Jala to Abdul (space) Hamid (space) Jala, sum total 16. Wonderful!
Mustakim bin Abd Hamid was reduced to Mustakim (space) A. (space) Hamid, again a perfect 16.

Years ago we heard stories that Johor will find land for the burial of Singapore Muslims when the Republic runs out of space. It remains just a tale and anyway Malaysia has to take care of her own, allocating large tracts of land for the resting place of some of her multi-racial citizens. Maybe in a hundred years the same fate may fall upon my dad's motherland . I hope not because it's not nice. As for me and my family, the head has to accept but the heart rankles and grieves. Nothing's right, nothing makes sense, nothing rhymes.

Nothing physically, recklessly, hopelessly blind
Nothing I couldn't say
Nothing why 'cos today,
Nothing rhymed.

by Gilbert O' Sullivan

Thanks to hanselgretelhg for the video

Thank you Jai, Lely, Mary (Lely's mum) and Oi Bek for being steadfast and true.

Sunday 14 December 2008

Malay Gentlemen (CsH)

Maznah's Wedding Eve at 691, Pasir Panjang Road.

Front Row - left to right. Ma'Long Mahanum, Fauziah (Pa'Busu's daughter), 'Mak.
Middle Row - left to right . Sumijah (my school mate who makes lovely kuih lapis ), me,
Macik Soya (Mamak's wife), Zakiah (Mamak's daughter),
Macik Munah, the bride, my sister.
Back Row - left to right. Ayah Long Mahmud, Mustakim (my late brother, at 16)
Mamak Kassim, Mustapha ( me bro at 19 - keen member of a
pop band), Abah.

Also in the photograph, to the left is Mus's Lambretta, his magnificent fire-horse.If only that scooter could talk.

Mamak Kassim passed away on Sunday 28 May 2006 at the age of 93. He was the last one of my father's generation - the last for me, of the great Malay gentlemen. Pa'Tua Majid, Ayah Long Mahmud, Pa'Busu Kamarudin. Pa'Uda Shariff and of course my dad (he was called Pa'Anjang because of his height, although they were all tall men) were a breed of Malay men brought up with a unique mixture of Malay dignity and grace, flavoured with upright colonial style.

Born at the turn of the 20th century, they were western educated, schooled at Victoria Institution, although they had a sound Malay education at primary school. Ayah Long and Pa'Tua succeeded in getting their Cambridge Senior School Certificate - must have been quite an achievement for two boys from Setapak brought up by grandparents who came from Sumatra in the latter part of the 19th century. Their grandparents would be in the category of working class folks. My great-grandfather used to accompany the British map surveyors who were drawing up topographical maps of the Malay Peninsula. In fact Mamak followed his footsteps because he ended up drafting maps in the Land Survey Department.

As for my dad, all he got was a Junior School Certificate before he became a qualified Sanitary Health Inspector. Years later when I was chatting with Mamak (he was 90 then), he volunteered the information that "Hamid was very bright, the brightest among all of us. But he was too playful. He used to spend a lot of time with his favourite teacher, Mr. Lim who tried to guide him into pushing himself to do his best." This sounds too familiar to my ears. In all my teaching years, especially while teaching in Malay Secondary Schools and English Secondary Schools in Singapore, I encountered quite a number of pupils who in themselves were intelligent but could not realise their full potential. It's possibly due to the shortcomings of an educational system that gives no space for bright imaginative minds or because of family circumstances. For Abah, it was a combination of both.

Abah's mother died when he was about 6 months old, when she was still breastfeeding him. Naturally he was taken away from his dad who lived in Kuala Selangor and moved in with his maternal grandparents. At that time, his aunt was also breastfeeding a baby and so he had a share. The other baby was Ma'cik Munah, who became his 'saudara se-susu' (literally of one-milk relative ). She remained my dad's very loyal and kind sister right to the end of his life.

She could always turn to Abang Hamid (big brother Hamid) when she needed to and she was also close to my mother who she called Kakak (big sister) even though my mum was almost 12 years younger. Ma'cik Munah said to my mum. "Kalau ipar baik semua boleh baik". (If the in-law is good then all relationships will be well ), Other than my mother's eldest sister Wak Deng, Ma'cik Munah was the gentlest, kindest soul I know. She had a very difficult and troubled life but she remained patient and kind, almost saintly. I last saw her when we both went to Abah's grave just a day after his burial. We read the Fatihah and Surah Yassin together for her Abang Hamid. I'm tearful now, thinking of her, and regret so very much that I did not keep in touch with her. My siblings and I did try during the last 10 years or so but we met several dead ends. She passed away about 3 years ago.

Back to the Malay gentlemen. Though they had an English education ( my dad talked about their schoolmaster, not schoolteacher, who wore his robe and mortarboard in class ), their Malayness was never adulterated or diluted. They were never westernized or deracinated like the present younger generation Malays who ironically grew up in a Merdeka country, were given Malay education throughout primary and secondary school together with a strong Islamic ethos, but instead turned into moonlight Westerners or moonlight Arabs!

Malays in Malaysia have their acknowledged heroes, like the sasterawan, journalists, editors, politicians, novelists and artists and so on. There were however, the unmentioned heroes, men who were not rich enough, gifted enough, men with little influence and connections and power to design the rules and structure for the construction of a free Malaya. But these were the foot soldiers, who provided the backbone and infrastructure and kept the system and the transition running smooth, from being a land of British possession to a free nation.

These English/Malay educated Malays, in their quiet steadfast way guided their homeland through a difficult period for any newly independent and developing country. They worked in the Government departments, keeping the wheels of bureaucracy moving. Pa'Tua was in the Education Department, Ayah Long was the Chief Clerk in the District Office in Klang and Mamak was in the Land Survey Department in Kuala Lumpur while Pa'Busu joined the RAF and then transferred to TUDM.

What epitaph shall we give to men like these - and there must be thousands of them?

As their family, we keep their memory alive, we pass on their stories to the future generation. Isn't that so, Mahzan? No one wants to dramatise these plodders but their contribution speaks for itself.

Saturday 13 December 2008

The Language Ding-Dong (CsH)

I've just read Rockybru's blog 13 December. His article in mypaper gives a succinct review of the power, potential and actual, of the Chinese educationist movement Dongjiaozong which has threatened a mammoth protest concerning the state of Chinese schools in Malaysia.

I hated history when I was doing my A levels at Raffles Girls' School. Firstly my teacher, Miss Then, was the most uninterested and unprofessional teacher I have ever encountered. During her history class she remained seated and read out in the most deadpan voice her lesson for the day as we frantically copied our notes because she carried on like an express train. Secondly, Miss Then was also trying to convert me by passing on Christian books and tracts for me to read. I felt under pressure when this normally cold fish smiled at me and asked if I liked her 'literature'. And I had to lie - instead of snarling at her to leave me alone for I do have my own religion. Thanks,but no thanks.

Living in England as I did in my 40s I became more and more concerned about what's going on around me. Palestine, the Salman Rushdie affair, the Gulf Wars, visions of dead and dying children on the TV screen, racist taunts from whites, black/white teenagers and Indian bank officers all made me think. I realised how the hypocrisy, double standards, grief and injustice in this world require a comprehension of and an insight into History. I also learned that the History I was given in school was History written by the victors and the powerful, by Western academics and Orientalists , and pseudo and half-baked intellectuals whose only qualification is the Dr in front of their names or other letters after their names.

For most countries, the education system is a powerful agent for nation building and national unity. But not for Malaya/Malaysia. Why? Look at her history.

In her colonial march for profit, Perfidious Albion 'developed' and changed the face of the Malay Peninsula - creating "a political problem of the first order through the rivalry of numerically equal communities, the Malays and the Chinese" (Victor Purcell).

The immigrants from China came in droves to partake of this lucrative opportunity. I can see this in the Asians in Leicester and now the East Europeans from the EC. They slog hard because as one Polish lass told me, what she earns in the factory in a week , is what her teacher-mother gets in a month. And so according to western capitalists, "by their labours" the Chinese added to the prosperity of the Peninsula. Hence the myth of the lazy Malay who prefers to live in his kampong and tend to a self sufficient life style. Why isn't there the myth of the lazy Brit - who, after all, living in the Motherland, understandably doesn't want to do overtime because, for him, money and its accumulation is not the be-all and end-all. He does not think he should leave a legacy of pots of money for his offspring. They will have to earn it like he did! That is what Kim, Mark, Rob and Stewart my white work mates, believe in.

Enterprising economic migrants need not show any generosity or loyalty to the 'goose', only the golden eggs. Basically the attitude ranges from pragmatism to opportunism. There are of course exceptions like the Peranakan but today they are being re-sinified.

Growing up in Singapore, we had to bear the scorn and barbs of the Chinese superiority complex and it irritates me when C. L. Sharma in her/his article "Ethnicity, Communal Relations and Education in Malaysia" (1979) described post-independence Malays as being "imbued with the 'we are the masters now' attitude which encourages them to display arrogance in their behaviour". This academic should be more objective and realise that Malays do not have a monopoly on arrogance.

Peter A. Busch's "Legitimacy and Ethnicity" - A Case Study of Singapore (1974) notes in his research that "increasing tenure in the Chinese stream classes produces the strongest tendency to believe that Malays are inferior." He adds that Mandarin in Singapore (and Malaysia ? ) is more symbolic than communicative. It's "a sign of being a cultured Chinese". Outside of the institution, most Chinese speak to each other in their dialects, especially in Malaysia. This may not be applicable to Singapore today. Although the Singapore Government has successfully de-emphasised Chinese schools, the status of Mandarin has been elevated and the dialects have been marginalised and have almost vanished. Only recently Lee Kuan Yew in 2004 commented "To ride on China's growth, Singapore needs a core group with a deep understanding of contemporary China. This means a bilingual as well as bicultural group of key players. Bilingualism gets us through the front door, but it is only through biculturalism that we can reach deep inside China and work with them." A few months later the Ministry of Education set up 3 Special Assistance Plan (SAP) schools. These schools have a strong Chinese tradition and are the only schools that offer the highest education stream.

In Malaysia, of course, bilingualism is a must. Biculturalism is a minefield.

Bausch added "having a proper Mandarin accent is a sign of prestige and good calligraphy is an art form and not just a matter of penmanship. Perhaps then it is not surprising that the ability to speak Mandarin well inclines the Chinese students to see their people as superior to the Malays." Well, that's 1974, you may say. But today, even if Singaporean Malays , the Malai-kwai (Malay devil) can speak Mandarin and there's a growing number of them : they are still third in line after the Indians , the Kaling-kwai.I think nuff's said. Hand on my heart, I know I'm colour blind. But the hypocrisy and selfish double standards I was subjected to brings out my bile and I do not want to re-trace that track.

I'll close this blog with this extract from Sterling Seagrave's Lords of the Rim (1996). "......the social atmosphere of Malaysia is more relaxed and wholesome, and its residents - regardless of ethnic ties - go to bed at night without dread. Mahathir's period in power has established Malay prestige without the stengun or the jackboot, in an atmosphere of civility that is remarkable for Asia and rare anywhere in the world."

Twice I saw my father's tears. The second time was on 31 August 1957. When I asked him why? He said, "I'm happy the British have gone but I have fears for my country." He went through the emergence of Malaysia, and the mantra for "Malaysian Malaysia" worried him for he knew what it implied. When the May 13 riots came , he was one of those in the kampung who rallied the various races to look after one another. It was centred at Seng Teow's kedai runcit. I'm glad he's spared from seeing what's taking place in his tanah air today.

P.S. "Get Back" refers to me only.

Thursday 11 December 2008

Who Will You Weep For?

Am glad I'm not back in Leicester when the Mumbai "massacre" occurred. The agony and the handwringing and may I say the whingeing(?) that you get on the electronic and print media at another 'terrorist' attack on innocents leave me to say, "Oh no, not again". I'm not thinking of the incident but of the way the media circus replays the same self-righteous and hypocritical diatribe against terrorists aka jihadists aka muslims aka Islam.

What follows next is the same scenario. Muslims and Muslim organisations in USA, Europe and in other Western countries have to repeat the same mantra of condemnation and extension of sympathies, in other words apologising for the actions taken by 'jihadists' who number about 50,000 and make up less than one-thousandth of 1% of 1.4 billion Muslims in the world! In fact , it is reckoned that there are as many as 3 times more gang members in Los Angeles alone than there are jihadists and the Muslim population is 350 times larger than that of Los Angeles.

For my fellow Muslims who are facing the indignant wrath of the civilized West, let me quote this by William Blum, a very respectable freelance journalist and writer of numerous books , in the same league as John Pilger and Robert Fisk and Noam Chomsky.

The next time you encounter a defender of American foreign policy, someone insisting that Mumbai justifies Washington's rhetorical and military attacks against Islam, you might want to point out that the United States does the same thing on a regular basis. For seven years in Afghanistan, almost six in Iraq, to give only the two most obvious examples ...breaking down doors and machine-gunning strangers, infidels, traumatizing children for life, firing missiles into occupied houses, exploding bombs all over the place, pausing to torture ... every few days dropping bombs in Pakistan or Afghanistan, and still Iraq, claiming they've killed members of al-Qaeda, just as bad as Zionists, bombing wedding parties, one after another, 20 or 30 or 70 killed, all terrorists of course, often including top al-Qaeda leaders, the number one or number two man, so we're told; so not completely mindless, not totally random; the survivors say it was a wedding party, their brother or their nephew or their friend, mostly women and children dead; ....... Does any of that depress you like Mumbai? Sometimes they bomb Syria instead, or kill people in Iran or Somalia, all bad guys.

So at Mumbai, at least 172 were killed and about 300 were wounded on November 26 2008. What about these numbers?

Muslims are by far the most numerous victims. Since 1991 the total civilian death in Iraq from the Anglo-American invasion numbers 3 million . Post 2003 at least another million paid the price with their lives. The sanctions against Iraq in 1990 killed half a million infants.
In Afghanistan, the Americans make use of a thermobaric bomb designed to suck the air out of human beings (Pilger). The dead remain as just statistics.
Terrorists/jihadists/insurgents have killed about 5,000 western civilians over the last 20 years, mostly on 9/11.

who are the rogue states, the evil-doers, the bad guys?

Who shall you weep for?

Wednesday 3 December 2008

My Lovely Island Kids (CsH)

My Lovely Island Kids; Shame about the Teacher

So happy I found this photograph. There are 4 Chinese kids in the picture. One lass is standing just behind me. Her elder brother is at the right end of the same row. The third one is in the back row , just under the letter 'p'. The lad to his left with the head bent became a professional diver, working in Australia with his elder brother and the 4th Chinese pupil is to the left of the afore-mentioned. I often wonder about what they are doing now - has life been difficult for them? I hope not for they deserve more than the well-heeled and obnoxious middle class snobs I used to teach at Anglo-Chinese Junior College.

I disliked having my photograph taken because I always end up looking like a nerd! But I remembered one lecturer in Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Teachers' Training College in Brunei who insisted that only her left profile be photographed because that is her best side. For me , the back of my head will do!!

P.S. That settee in the earlier photograph was bought by my abah, second hand, from his Eurasian neighbor sometime in 1946. It had moved seven times, including journeys to Johor Baru, Batu Pahat and now happily ensconced in Kuala Lumpur. Three generations of kids have jumped up and down on it or fell asleep on it, including umpteen numbers of cats. Even Rocky had rested on it.

My spouse and I, we are indefatigable magpies. Watch this space to view our collection of junk.