Monday 29 June 2009

A History Lesson for Hana

When Hana was little - with Tok 'Mok in 1996

This is the proud heart-rending song that celebrated the heroism of The Battle of the Alamo. Ma'ngah was also quite taken when I first heard it in the 60s but then in the 1980s I believed that Ronald Reagan was a great President and that the Americans, in trying to 'save' us from Communism in Vietnam had been fighting a clean war against the barbaric Vietcong. Doesn't this sound like the war in Iraq and Afghanistan? When I was in school we read about ancient Greek and Roman myths. My favourite was "Jason and the Golden Fleece" and Horatius a 6th century Roman hero standing alone on a bridge fighting off the Etruscans.

There are, today, many modern myths created about war, genocides, the victims, the heroes and heroines - ultimately the bad guys always come from the non-Causasian, non-Christian stables. Because I was so taken in by the gallantry of David Crockett 'a la John Wayne', William Travis etc etc I was quite shocked to discover that the purveyors of American history have been quite economical with the truth. Richard D. Santos (see the first article below) did not deny the men of the Alamo garrison were heroic (and neither can we because they were heavily outnumbered). We should also regard the Iraqis and Afghanis and Palestinians in the same light but they are the wrong colour and the wrong religion although they are, therefore, the right enemy.
Check these two articles for the myths. You'll find no end of glorious stories of the brave Texans in Google.
1. Read

Sorry to land you with this reading list tho' I know how much work you've got at UM. Also I will give you a test when we get back next week. But also do not worry, ma'ngah's feeling quite fulfilled and satisfied doing this posting.

P.S. Thermopylae (seen in the video) refers to the battle in 450 BC between the Greeks and the Persian Empire. Some historians think this battle between the West as symbolized by Greece and the East as represented in Persia has never ever ended. Also the West preferred to call that part of the world Persia whilst the 'Persians' preferred Iran - just like Mumbai became Bombay and Tumasik became Singapura and then Singapore.

Thursday 25 June 2009

Tit for Tat for Tatty Tirades (Don't you just love alliterations?)

In the past week or so, I have been clearing out my collection of newspaper cuttings from 1988 to 2004. Unlike Ann Widdecombe MP, who spent £900 of taxpayer money on her own personal newspaper cuttings service, I did mine all on my own. During my rummaging, I came across this article in the Sunday Telegraph of Oct 19 2003.
See this

This chastisement of Dr Mahathir Mohamad was written by John Simpson CBE (Commander of the British Empire), the BBC's well-known World Affairs Editor. His resume is formidable. Read this report by Jessica Hodgson of MediaGuardian, Tuesday 13 November 2001.

"The BBC's John Simpson claimed the glory for the Northern Alliance's rout of the Taliban today in Kabul when he joined other BBC staff in the Afghan capital.
Simpson told Sue MacGregor on the BBC's Today programme: 'It was only BBC people who liberated this city. We got in ahead of Northern Alliance troops. I can't tell you what a joy it was. I felt very proud indeed to be part of an organisation that could push forward ahead of the rest.'
Simpson, the BBC's World Affairs editor and a veteran journalist who has covered most of the most significant world conflicts of the last 20 years, has a reputation for tenaciousness and bravery."

Firstly a caveat before I proceed. I am not writing this to champion and defend Dr Mahathir Mohamad, a former PM of Malaysia. The article by JS was written 6 years ago on the retirement of Dr Mahathir as PM of Malaysia. I am more interested in looking at the modus operandi of journalists and writers as they diminish and demolish someone's achievement and character, especially someone who does not sing from their hymn book.

To be accused of anti-Semitism or of saying anything critical about Jews and Israel is like being given the kiss of death. There are no holds barred on writing anything derogatory about any other nation, or people or their beliefs. No one says it is anti-Muslim to criticise, mock and denigrate Islam, its institutions and its followers. Of course there are strict rules too about comments on race, gender and sexual orientation. But in the eyes of the world, anti-Semitism - in whatever shape or form it is devised by the 'victims' and their adherents - is the most vile transgression, totally unacceptable.

But there is, to me, another great misdemeanour - that of ignoring the old proverb: "People who live in glass houses should not throw stones". When it comes to anti-Semitism no one can hold a candle to JS's Motherland's hero : Sir Winston Churchill. Like JS he was also a journalist writing about wars in foreign fields. Ex-PMs of Britain like Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair look on him as their mentor, their political idol. The neo-cons regard him in the highest esteem and the Washington Post in November 2001 said : "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to the words of Winston Churchill."


1. Francis Fukuyama was not the first voice to talk about the clash of civilization i.e. the clash between the progressive West and decadent Islam. In his book "The River War" Churchill wrote:
How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits,slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohamedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property - either as a child, a wife, or a concubine - must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die. But the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa; raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science - the science against which it had vainly struggled - the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.
John Simpson, Anthony Burgess, Christopher Hitchens, Martin Amis and even our coloured brother V.S. Naipaul were all suckled on this Churchillian milk. We are the 'retrograde force' that sticks in their throats.
2. On Eugenics: WC told Lord Asquith in 1910, "The unnatural and increasing rapid growth of the feeble-minded and insane classes, coupled.......with a steady restriction among the thrifty, energetic and superior stocks constitutes a national and race danger." It's hard to see any difference between this and Hitler's 'racial hygiene'.
3. To quote Michael Lind: Churchill, a lifelong supporter of Zionism, was a social Darwinist who preferred Jews to Arabs..........he wrote of the legitimacy of displacing 'the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. . I do not admit that a wrong has been done....... a stronger race, a higher grade race, a more worldly-wise race, has come in and taken their place.'
4. As regards that mother of all tyrants, Saddam Hussein, and his use of poison gas against the Kurds, perhaps he learned from the precedent set by WC when he was Colonial Secretary in 1919 - WC wanted to use gas against the stubborn Arabs and added 'I do not understand the squeamishness about the use of gas against uncivilized tribes.'
5. Here comes the piece de resistance - the mother and father of The Great Thoughts of Winston Churchill. In the Illustrated Sunday Herald in 1920 he wrote that 'Jews were behind world revolutions everywhere.' He added:
This movement among the Jews is not new. From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx, and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxemburg (Germany), and Emma Goldman (the United States) ..... this worldwide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality has been steadily growing.
If Jews who are the denizens of the underworld of the great cities of Europe and America could have their homeland , perhaps they would not conspire for the overthrow of civilization.
Dr Mahathir, President Mugabe, President Ahmedinejad - eat your heart out. In the accusations made against you for rabid anti-Semitism you have been outclassed by Sir Winston Churchill.
Thank you to Michael Lind for most of the details on the thoughts of Sir Winston Churchill
Mr John Simpson, do your homework.

Wednesday 24 June 2009

The Canker In The Rose (CsH)

Living for over 25 years in the belly of the whale that is Britain had taught me a real hard lesson - how to deal with bigotry and prejudice against my people, my history and my Faith. You faced this in the streets, in conversations with friends and acquaintances, in English literature both fiction and non-fiction but especially in that most potent medium - the print and electronic media.

I came to England in 1974 to start my post-graduate course at the Institute of Education, London University. On my arrival at Heathrow, I decided to stay overnight at a small hotel just outside of the Airport, before proceeding to London to begin my studies. Next morning, after breakfast I went for a little walk in what was a very suburban area. It was cool and refreshing and I felt a deep sense of adventure and perhaps a degree of fulfilment because this was my very first morning in a country that had been in my psyche for over 23 years. I had a feeling of deja vu like I had been here before. I attributed this to my colonial education in Singapore. It was England's literature, England's history, England's landscape and the English language that held me in awe.

On that walk, I saw my first rose, my first fragrant red rose in someone's garden and I just had to take a photograph of it. But I was to find out later that this rose, this symbol of England had a canker.

I enjoyed that period of learning and living in England. But one occasion really knocked me back. That experience removed the scales from my eyes.

I made two good friends in my class. There was a Greek girl married to an Englishman. There was also a young couple from Australia. She was a beautiful lass of Irish origin with blue eyes and golden hair. She was a Catholic and a second generation Aussie while her husband and his family had migrated to Australia from Germany in the 1940s. She volunteered the information that despite his Anglo-Saxon name her husband was a Jew. She said many Jewish immigrants had decided to anglicise their surnames so that they would not stand out as aliens in their new country. Braun became Brown, Grunfeld became Greenfield and Stein turned to Stone.

My Greek friend invited me to a party at her house and my Aussie friend and husband gave me a lift. I did not really want to go. I was no party animal and I knew I would be like a fish out of water. It was, as I had expected; an alcohol and ciggies party. My hostess friend was very sweet and made sure I had my supply of lemon juice drinks and pointed out the food that I could eat. I had my first encounter with the whiff of 'grass'. My Abah was a chain smoker and I could tell the difference - but that's just another experience to jot down.

As the party progressed, it became more and more raucous and people got more and more uninhibited - alcohol does that to you. The host then decided to entertain us with his ribald stories. But one (or two) stood out.

This was a period when gay ( at that time this word had not been appropriated yet - it simply meant bright and happy) and 'cute' jokes were going around about Asian immigrants from East Africa and India - just like the run of jokes about the Irish and the Scots. Till today, I cannot figure out why the local Brits turned to Paki jokes. There were no Indian jokes, or Punjabi jokes or Gujarati jokes, only the Paki ones. So-called Pakis faced the brunt of their mockings. But mind you, everyone who had the skin colour of people from the Indian sub-continent were called Pakis. In the wake of September 11, Punjabis were beaten up by angry whites because they were mistaken for Muslims. All because of their turbans!!

The host had a rollicking time with his Paki jokes - like how many Pakis can live in a broom cupboard! Then he went into genuflections and mumblings mimicking and making fun of the way his Paki friend did his prayer. I was not worldly-wise, I was no urbane jet-setter. I was just an ordinary Malay Muslim school teacher from the island of Singapore. I was aghast, upset and almost in tears. (I told you I was unsophisticated!!) I just could not believe what I was hearing and seeing. My Aussie friends, to their credit, could empathise with my discomfort and we left soon after.

The next day my Greek friend apologised most profusely. She confessed that as a Greek, she too had problems with English bigotry and parochialism and she confided that she didn't think her marriage would last much longer.

This episode was a forerunner of what life would be like when I came to "settle with spouse" in England in 1986. By then I was older, wiser, more street wise and bolshie. I could deal with racist taunts in the streets of Leicester giving back what they throw at me although my other half cautioned me because one day, I could get hurt. It was so very difficult because it was not the family habit to turn the other cheek. We had learned from the way Abah conducted his own life, that it was justice and dignity foremost. Abah had, for example, stood up to his British Commanding Officer (at the RAMC School of Health in Nee Soon) for not giving a fair deal to the Malay and the other non-English soldiers. And as we watched, we learned.

But now, as a resident in Britain, I was to discover a different kind of racist malice. It was cleverer, more sophisticated and the impact was instant and far ranging. Now the racist thugs and yobs from the streets have been transmogrified into the 'clever dicks' of the print and electronic media. It was more pernicious and manipulative with contributions from 'clever janes' like Fay Weldon, Julie Burchill and Melanie Phillips. Worse of all this bigotry was camouflaged and sheltered under the umbrella of freedom of expression and free speech.

Sometime in the late 1980's, during the Salman Rushdie brouhaha which was followed by Iran's fatwa against the author, the Iranian charge d'affaires was interviewed and hectored by Peter Sissons on Channel 4 about the Fatwa. Sissons was the then doyen of a new breed of newscaster cum opinion maker cum rotweiler of The System. He got so exasperated with the answers he was getting that he turned on the charge d'affaires and more or less howled; "We fought two world wars for this freedom!". "Oh yes", said I?

I used to rant at the news on TV and Radio whenever I encountered aggressive, ignorant attacks on Islam and my face must have turned as red as Peter Sissons (if it's possible for a brown face to turn red) in my anger. But now I would just laugh it off because I have read more, I know more (at least compared to the 70s) and I know how to handle the bias and crooked thinking.

The worm had turned. And this shall be seen in my next posting.

Thursday 18 June 2009

Naughty but Nice Day

Leicester City Centre (copyright Colin Smith)

We heard this song played by a violinist sited near the Clock Tower. The whole square echoed with this wistful tune - really beautiful.

Today was a funny ole day for Darby and Joan (devoted old married couple). On the spur of the moment we made a detour from getting a loaf of bread at the local Co-op to doing a walkabout to the City Centre.
We decided on doing something naughty, especially at our age - like having CHIPS for lunch. My eye as usual was bigger than my mouth and I thought of buying a small bag of chips (£1.10)for myself. But sensible Darby says 'no' and so we shared a big bag of chips (£1.45) instead. We sat down on a bench not far from the market - under a tree that is now almost covered with summer leaves - and as we dipped into the bag of chips we observed the folks walking around us. They were mainly pensioners, women out doing the marketing. Not too many male pensioners because the law of averages work against them surviving their wives. Or maybe they preferred to stay at home.
Also there were many young women pushing prams and I reckoned that four out of ten were smoking. In my mind I was thinking about something I read yesterday : about how Britain's former PM David Lloyd George said in 1919 that Britain should be made a country "fit for heroes". He must have been thinking about the millions of young men slaughtered in that mother of all European Tribal Wars - the First World War
(1914-1918). After the Second World War, another European Tribal War that engulfed the rest of the world, Britain was blessed with the Welfare State which promised a cradle-to-grave security.
However, when I look at the feckless young and the dismemberment of family and family values, and the near demise of the work ethic, I would despair if this were my youngsters and my country. There aren't sufficient young people to provide the funding needed to maintain the welfare state. This country is top heavy - there are too many pensioners compared to the economically active younger generation. The pensioners of today have contributed from their taxes and national insurance to support their parents' generation but their own maintenance now cannot be guaranteed. There is simply not enough money in the pot. To make it worse, the Recession means almost 3 million unemployed, and few or no jobs for school leavers and graduates. I do feel sad for the English.
But, as we were walking to the bus stop - we bumped into two dear friends, Dorothy and Anne (see my posting of March 21). We were given the most wonderful news. After her operation Dot was given a clean bill of health - she's in real good nick!!! Hurray!!! To celebrate, I'm cooking them a slapdash (Anne laughed at that word - she preferred slapup) meal this Sunday.
This news made it a lovely day.

Sunday 14 June 2009

A Very Ordinary Day - for Two of Us (CsH)

It's such a lovely summer's day today. Am going to the park to play. Toodleoo everyone !!!
Maznah and Maznoor - Then and Now

Maria, the mother of Ariff, Tasha, Sarah Hana, Anis and the little bouncer Ilyas (no photo available)and ma'ngah at Lincoln's Inn

The Most Terrible Two - Cousins Hidayah and Shah

Mariam and Hana - in Strawberry Fields Forever

The Two Cousins - Nadia and Ariff (the latter is now a hockey monster)

Sarah Hana and Anis (Top Picture) and Auntie Lely and Tasha (Bottom Picture)

Bride and Graham Coe

Our Kith and Kin from Kiwiland - misbehaving at Kuala Kubu Bharu, my birthplace

Wednesday 10 June 2009

Noble Sorrows

Not a day passes over the earth, but men and women of no note do great deeds, speak great words and suffer noble sorrows. (Charles Reade 1814-1884)

As a product of a colonial education, we were instructed about one great heroine, other than Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria. She was Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), the "Lady with the Lamp",the angel who brought comfort and succour to wounded and dying soldiers during the Crimean War. She was the daughter of a wealthy landowner who claimed she was called by God to become a nurse.
However, much , much later in the 1980s I read about another lady illuminary, a peer of Florence Nightingale whose contribution and deeds were just as heroic. She was the forgotten Nightingale, a Jamaican-Scot called Mary Seacole, whose story was left untold.

But nowadays, western historians, biographers and especially the media jockeys are quite generous in parading various heroines, especially from the non-Western stables. There is of course the iconic Aung San Su Kyi, the world's most famous political prisoner. To quote someone who I cannot recall : "Her allure was underpinned by her beauty and post-colonial fairytale upbringing." Her plight so touched the conscience of world leaders that in 2003 Burma's EU assets were frozen, military assistance was suspended. Great Britain also showed the same outrage by freezing Burma's assets and called on British companies to cease trade with Burma. Such are our knights on white chargers! It also helps that Burma is a 'failed' and 'rogue' state and for decades has been keeping Western economic overtures at arm's length.

Then there came along Roxana Saberi, Miss North Dakota 1997, who played soccer for King's College, Cambridge University. She was painted as a possible scourge of the Islamic Republic of Iran and was imprisoned as a spy for the USA. The world heaved a sigh of relief when she was released. I guess Iran did not want a cause celebre on their hands. There were more urgent issues to be dealt with.
There are other Chosen Ones, heroines-cum-victims like the Somalian Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a self-styled female crusader against Islam who wrote the aptly titled "The Caged Virgin". Notice how books regarding Islam delight in such surreptitiously sexual words as 'virgin' and 'veiled'. It's like an amalgam of the novels of Barbara Cartland and Henry Miller. Of course they worry about her safety but she is now happily ensconced in the arms of the American Enterprise Institute, a neo-con high temple in Washington.
Another heroine-victim who has jumped on the bandwagon of demolishing Islam is Bengali Taslima Nasreen ; a sort of female version of Sir Salman Rushdie. For a non-Westerner to be famous and acceptable in the West as a writer, it helps no end if you are a Muslim or ex-Muslim female and rubbishing Islam is your theme.
I do not deny such women the rights and privileges to be anointed as heroines, victims and potential martyrs by the powers that be . But the media and their patrons prefer to personalize the pet causes of their heroines (or the causes of their pet heroines) and ignore or veil (if I may say so) the vast tapestry of anguish and sorrows of women who are victims of war and poverty. Such women do not look as heroic or attractive, especially as the reasons for their unrelenting suffering cuts too close to the bone - too close to the Judaeo-Christian agenda and culpability.

The trouble with people is not that they don't know, but they know so much that ain't so. Henry Wheeler Shaw 1818-1885

Saturday 6 June 2009

Mucking about - for Helas's Sir (CsH)

Helas's Sir aka Frankie - December 1946
Helas's Sir aka Frankie - front row, number 10 from left ,1955

Thursday 4 June 2009

Gaudeamus Igitur - PPES (CsH)

Mrs Tan is seated, fourth from the left. Isn't she gorgeous?

Remember your first day at school? Lucky me - I had two first days in 1951.

Sometime in January 1951, my dad enrolled me at Sekolah Melayu Pasir Panjang (Pasir Panjang Malay School), somewhere at 6 milestone Pasir Panjang Road. It was a homely little school, a school by the seaside - consisting of one longish building with 6-7 classes. There was a separate little store on the side. The schoolyard was snug and cosy, a mini field of grass tucked between the school building and the sea. During break time almost all the kids rushed to the edge of the playground to stare longingly at the shimmering sea. I can still remember it was high tide then.

In the classroom I sat on this chair which was attached to the desk and on that desk I recalled my first lesson. I wrote my first letters in Jawi : alif, ba, ta using white chalk on the desk itself. To this day I don't know what the desk was made of but I remember how we could easily erase our writing from the desk

On that first day, I wore a scarf. It wasn't because my dad was a strict orthodox Muslim. You see, my hair was just beginning to sprout and without that exquisite 1950s scarf my head looked like a porcupine! Of course I received a lot of odd and quizzical stares but that was all. Little children were not so mean and cruel in those days.

Why the camouflage? This much I can recall. I had measles and just as the spots were beginning to shrivel I had run out to play in the rain. Well, the measles recurred with a vengeance. This part was related by my sister. She said my temperature soared so high they had to strip me and wrap me up in layers of banana leaves . Remember this was in the very early fifties. She saw the leaves curling up and turning brown because of this hot little totty! But I survived and because the pistules had spread all over, my head had to be shaved and it left me as bald as a coot! Hence the scarf.

"Selamat Pagi Che'gu" were my very first words on my first day. There was no apprehension or nervousness, just a sense of being grown up at last! ( I prefer the spelling Che'gu because it spells what it means, Che Guru. I guess I'm just old-fashioned and stubborn ).

But the very next day I was chanting "Good Morning Teacher". For I had now moved to another school. I now found myself at Pasir Panjang English School, located at Yew Siang Road, which was much nearer to our house at Kampung Abu Kassim. This time I was wearing the school uniform made up of a light blue blouse and a dark blue pinafore. I could not remember my school bag but that symbol of schooldom, the blackboard, was a proud accessory. In a way the blackboard meant you had arrived - you were now a schoolgirl, not just a snotty kid with nothing to do but sit at home, helping with horrible domestic chores and minding your little bratty brothers. But , it also marked you as a greenhorn, a new kid on the block. So, after a few weeks the blackboard ceased to be a badge of adulthood because you stood out as the runt in the school.

The blackboard was actually a board painted green on one side so that you could scribble on it with chalk. I loved drawing with the coloured chalk and my mother made sure I used it to the very last millimetre. However, one day, on my way home alone, from school I was chased by a dog. In terror I dropped my blackboard and after I retrieved it, I noticed one corner was chipped.

I received no sympathy from my mum and got an earful of chastisement from her. Another blackboard was out of the question and I had to live the rest of my Primary One days with a chipped blackboard and a dented pride.

And so for the second time Abah had to enrol me into another school, this time an English primary school. I remembered clutching his hand as we approached PPES. It was so, so much bigger than my one-day-school. The school building was cream and green in colour and about 5 times larger. It was double-storeyed, with huge staircases, big glass windows and a large tuck-shop. The school field was huge; you could put in it 3-4 football fields. As for that field, it became a place of fun and games for my brother Mus. He and his rascal sidekick Jeevan - when they were about 10 - used to raid the caretaker's garden at the edge of the field and stuffed themselves with roasted tapioca. As to his other antics at PPES I shall leave it to my scally-wag brother to recall.

This time I was really scared and when my dad left me to go back to work, I got misty-eyed as I waved him good-bye. BUT I was not like the other kids whose mums draped themselves at the class windows to make sure their offspring were fine. I remembered one girl who cried each time her mother disappeared from view.

I knew not a single word in English . My very first lesson was a nursery rhyme.

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick,
Jack jumped over the candlestick.
I hadn't the foggiest idea what it was all about. But we all enjoyed jumping when we got to the last line. My classmate who sat next to me was a boy named Tan Aik Chuan. We smiled shyly at each other and he gave me a present of his pencil. But it was a short affair because I discovered Geow Chwee Him who seemed a nicer boy. Oh, I was a hussy!! But I want to mention here Chia Tzu Tit - crippled, because one of his legs was shorter than the other and to compensate, one of his shoes had to have a very thick sole. Tzu Tit did his utmost to keep up with our pace during class assembly and we all made sure that he did not overstrain himself. Tzu Tit was a kind and helpful soul. We all would go to him whenever we had a problem with Arithmetic and he was always very obliging. The last I heard of him was he became a nuclear physics Professor in some American university - he deserved it.

Last but not least was my Primary One Class Teacher Mrs Tan Choon Lan - such an elegant lady in her cheongsam. She taught all four of Abdul Hamid's children when they were in Primary One. Mrs Tan was a warm and caring teacher, not in the touchy-feely way as with teachers in England. For she had the tough job of teaching in English to kids for whom English might as well be a language from another planet; but she was patience itself and she never ever made us think we were stupid or slow. She made us feel very secure, such a pre-requisite for learning. I don't think I will ever forget that picture of her bending over so delicately in her cheongsam just to help one of her pupils tie up his shoe lace. I believe if there were more Mrs Tan Choon Lans in the teaching profession, a lot more kids would not have fallen by the wayside.

Mrs Tan may be the first but not the last in this series of wonderful teachers at PPES. There were Mr Chong Khim Siong, Mr. Kempson Wong and Mr Chia Wai Chee. I owe them a lot. They were strict, at times funny but always committed to their pupils and their profession. When I became a teacher in 1967, they were my models. I hope that I have been able to light that same fire for learning in my students as they have done for me.

Wednesday 3 June 2009

A Tale of Two Tanks - China and Palestine (CsH)

Tonight the Western media is celebrating the eve of the anniversary of the 1989 military crackdown on Chinese dissidents at Tiananmen Square. The photo above has been wheeled out again and again as symbolic of the repression committed by a non-western country against the spirit and practice of democracy - western style.

But do give this picture of a brave Palestinian boy throwing stones at an Israeli tank during the latter's incursion (?), attack (?) on May 19 2003 at Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip a good look. Remember what happened to Gaza 5 years later? Shall the media remember to commemorate this photo 17 years from now? Already the horrific pictures of a bloodied Gaza are suffering a kind of amnesiac attack.
Twenty years from now, I will have departed this earth . But I hope my nieces and nephews, and their children will not forget to remember this great injustice committed by the Judaeo-Christian culture. Democracy, anyone ??