Saturday 29 October 2011

Between the Python and the Cobra (CsH)

This posting is dedicated to our Pahlawan,  past and present.

Ya Ilahi Tuhan-ku Rabi!
Pokok yang rendah menjadi tinggi!
Sa-lama kuching tidak bergigi,
Tikus tidak bersopan lagi.

Pileh2 melipat kain,
Jangan termasuk baju kemeja.
Pileh2 tempat bermain,
Jangan di-patok ular yang bisa.


54 years after Merdeka and 63 years after the declaration of insurrection by the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) we are once again being taunted - this time by a rising clamour from Friends of Chin Peng (FOCP) for the canonization of the terrorist Lim Chin Peng (LCP), the leader of the MCP since 1940.  Some of the voices are hesitant and timorous; others are loud and self-righteous.

The champions are both local and foreign.  Sharing the same bandwagon are academics, historians, Salon-Lefties, dinosaur Marxist-Leninists, 'radical' writers, young wannabe revolutionaries, slick journalists, opportunistic politicians and a motley crew of Political Fashionistas.

They have woven a fabric of myths around LCP and his Party.

1.  The first myth is that LCP, who led the bloody insurrection from 1948-1960 and again from 1967-1989 is a national hero who deserved the status of Malaya's foremost, if not the first freedom fighter, our liberator from British Imperialism.  Dr Chen Man Hin  (DAP Life Advisor)  for one, regards LCP  as a 'freedom fighter'.  LCP's champions all agree his return to Malaya should be granted and lauded.

Really?  Let's look a little more deeply into the matter.  Let's examine the context of that critical period after the Second World War.

In February 1946 Stalin declared that for as long as capitalist societies existed, wars were inevitable.  Then in March 1946 Churchill coined the term 'The Iron Curtain' and asked that all English speaking countries should stand together against Communism.

And Mao Tse-Tung, whose Chinese Communist Party  (CCP) did not gain victory until 1949 responded; "world war should be avoided but there should be no compromise towards internal conflicts". 

The Cold War had begun.

In Malaya, of course, 1946 also witnessed a huge protest by the Malays against MacMichael's Malayan Union, which would have reduced the Malays to a minority people in their homeland and lose them their political clout as well.  This period also saw the formation of UMNO.  As in other colonial territories, the worm was beginning to turn, but not without severe complications.

During WW2, LCP and the MCP fought with the British against the Japanese.  Their participation in the MPAJA  (Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army) has often been extolled as the Communists' unstinting loyalty and sacrifice in Malaya to expel the Japanese.  Indeed, after the War the British awarded medals to LCP and other CPM leaders for their services.

They were not of course the only ones who deserved such recognition for defending Malaya and Singapore: remember Lt. Adnan Saidi and his platoon from the Malay Regiment who paid a heavy price with their lives fighting the Japanese at Pasir Panjang Ridge, Singapore.  It took some time before history text books in Singapore were willing to acknowledge the Malay Regiment's ultimate sacrifice.

However, there is one difference between this and the MCP's commitment in the MPAJA.  The Malay Regiment were in battle for the sovereignty of their tanah air LCP was not fighting as a patriot of Malaya but as a revolutionary inspired by the wider world vision of Communism and by the humiliation that smaller Japan had inflicted on  larger China from the 1930s.

The MPAJA were motivated by their hatred of the Japanese and what they did to China after the 1937 invasion.  And when the Chinese in Singapore and Malaya were picked upon by the Japanese during Occupation, it was a continuation of the violence and hostility already evident in China.  The bitter enmity and violence of the Sino-Japanese War had been transplanted to Occupied Malaya, to Ma-Rai-Ee.

After all, the Nanyang (Overseas) Chinese had rallied to the call of the Motherland from both the nationalist Kuomintang and the CCP  for help and aid.  Anti-Japanese supporters ranged from ordinary people to millionaires like Tan Kah Kee, known as the Rubber King of Malaya and Singapore who managed to get enough funding for the Chinese Air Force to buy 13 fighter planes.  Incidentally, Tan departed for Indonesia to escape the wrath of the Japanese.  The Chinese in Singapore boycotted Japanese goods and even Chinese trishaw riders refused to accept Japanese passengers.  Committees like the China Salvation Movement were set up to collect donations from rich merchants and ordinary workers who were committed enough to give regular monthly contribution.  Some even volunteered to leave their jobs and families to serve as motor mechanics and drivers in transporting war materials.

But if loyalty to China was a matter of blood, it was also a matter of ideology.  And when LCP and MCP 'served' in the MPAJA and later turned to armed insurrection in 1948 to begin the People's Revolutionary War, he was fighting as a soldier in the service of both blood and ideology.

So, when the British decided to team up with the Communists in the MPAJA, they became in effect, the patron and godfather of the coming 1948 Emergency.  Both had the same war objectives but different post-war intentions.  By 1943, the MPAJA-cum-MCP already had a strategy to set up the People's Republic of Malaya; and by 1945 there were already 10,000 well-trained, well-armed and disciplined Chinese Communist soldiers in the Malayan jungle.

2. A second strand of myth claimed by the FOCPs is that the insurrection precipitated Malayan independence.  If it wasn't for the Emergency the British would not have given Malaya her independence in 1957!!  This was also LCP's adamant stand.  And so to that extent, they say LCP should be recognized as the father of Malayan independence.

Well, British interest in Malaya was part of a larger design than merely responding to Lim Chin Peng.

Britain may have won the Second World War but 1945 marked the start of the decline of "the Empire on which the sun never sets".  It had been bombed-out, the country's infrastructure was damaged, there was not much left in the coffers.  One by one the colonies got an independence of sorts: India/Pakistan in 1947, Ceylon in 1948, Malaya and Ghana in 1957, Tanzania in 1961, Uganda 1962.  Only Kenya's independence was preceded by rebellion, to thwart the agenda of the White Settlers.  The leader of the Mau Mau rebellion Kimathi, was captured, executed and buried in an unmarked grave.  That was how the British dealt with their coloured dissidents.  Even their home-grown traitor Lord Haw Haw was hung for his pro-German broadcasts during WW2 and buried in an unmarked grave.

But imagine, if the MCP had succeeded in establishing a People's Republic of Malaya - it would be similar to the American War of Independence when the non-indigenous white colonists fought the British for independence, to the considerable disadvantage of the Natives.  There would be one big difference of course; Malaya would become a dollar-earner satellite state (or another province) of the People's Republic of China.  We would have to practise the adulation of the great leader Lim Chin Peng and Lim's Little Red Book would be in every home.

3.  A third strand of the myth is that LCP and MCP had strong Malay support.  Few academics could deny that one major reason for the failure of the insurrection in Malaya was the refusal of the great majority of the Malays to participate, either physically or spiritually, with Communism and the MCP.  Even that pioneer of Indonesian Communism, Tan Malaka gve up trying to recruit the Malays in the 1920s.

Basically Malays do not relish being led by 'foreigners'.  British Colonial authority was tolerated only because the Council of Malay Rulers backed British Administration.  There were of course many Malay nationalists and leftists who were anti-British but they did not see the MCP as an ally.

The lack of Malay support is a weak link in the FOCP's attempt to legitimise LCP and the MCP.  They needed to find ways to suggest that the insurrection was multi-ethnic.  They wrote articles like........
...... to support their cynical agenda.  For every Abdullah CD one can easily locate thousands of  Malays whose fathers and brothers and husbands were killed fighting the Communists.

But there is one fact that LCP's champions are loathe to accept and expand.  Membership in the MCP and the Malayan Peoples Liberation Army (MPLA), the militant wing of the MCP was unquestionably over 90% Chinese.

So too was the Min Yuen (the People's Movement), a most potent wing of LCP's insurrection.  These were Commmunist soldiers without uniform and wages who played a crucial role as a support network, living and working for their ideology among the general populace.  Out of 30,000 to 40,000 members, 90% were Chinese, made up mainly of the labouring and squatter classes with the rest from Chinese school teachers and students and professionals.

The Chinese squatters played a decisive role during the Emergency.

At the beginning of the insurrection there were about 500,000 Chinese squatters (15% of the Peninsula's population in 1951) living on the fringes of the jungle, especially on the west coast states of the Peninsula.  In Johor for example, squatters occupied 40,000 acres of land growing vegetables for Johor and Singapore.
This is from my Primary School Malay Language textbook. What is most revealing are sentences 5, 6, 7 and 8..
These squatters  "established settlements on land not set aside for that purpose" and even in the Forest Reserves and Malay Reserve Land.  They came to the fringes of the forest during the post-1929 recession when unemployment was high.  During the Japanese Occupation they did the same to escape repression and also because of a dire shortage of food in the urban centres.

There were also  Malay and Indian squatters among them but their numbers are negligible.  Of course, not all 500,000 were keen on aiding the insurrection but the 'strong-armed' tactics of Min Yuen in extracting food and money and information for the MPLA made certain that the squatters kept the guerillas ticking over.  Also these squatters were not sure that the British could win this 'war' and hence decided 'to go with the flow'.  So effective were the Min Yuen in sustaining the Revolution that by 1951, 200 police and civilians were killed each month - the authorities were fighting a war with shadows they could not pin down.

The Briggs plan to resettle such squatters into New Villages was a device to break the hold of the Communists on their major source of survival.  The objectives and implementation of this scheme make up another story.  Most versions relate to the ruthlessness of the scheme and the impositions on the squatters.  However, rural Malays of that period also had their woes but they were largely untold.

Why was membership in the MCP, the MPLA, the Min Yuen strongly Chinese dominated?  Perhaps we need to look into the cultural make-up of the emigrants.

Even before the 1920s and up to the present, the Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore and in the rest of Southeast Asia had  a remarkable and admirable (depending from which end of the telescope you're looking at) sense of oneness, of a common identity wherever they were in their 'diaspora'.  Only recently (1 Oct 2011) Joceline Tan wrote in The Star , " Chinese from Malaysia and Singapore may see themselves as cousins......"  in the wake of Lim Guan Eng's disparaging remarks in Singapore about another state (Johor) in his own country.

They regard one another as tong pao or 'of the same womb'.  And in that context, in Southeast Asia especially, the umbilical cord between the MCP, KMT, and CCP then, and the Nanyang Chinese and PRC  (Communist China) and ROC (Taiwan) today cannot be severed.

The economic prowess of the Nanyang Chinese and their kin connections in Southeast Asia are almost legendary.  This blood loyalty between colonial emigrants - and between colonial emigrants and mother-country - has been a strong factor in the economic success of the Nanyang Chinese.  But it was a matter of networks rather than genetics alone, as Joe Studwell suggests in his Asian Godfathers: Money and Power in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. He 'dismisses the common assertion that being Chinese confers an unusually high potential for economic success, showing that the predominance of ethnic Chinese among the godfathers devolves from the colonial era and emigration patterns rather than genetics'.


Lim Chin Peng as Malayan Hero :  A Malay View

In this crusade for the resurrection of LCP, his adherents are keen to quote past Malay PMs and other senior Malay voices to bolster their cause. These Malays speak for themselves.  Malays reckon they are being harried to adjust and change their opinions to fit into the FOCPs box  - to have to cut their coat according to other people's size and cloth.

Just think for a moment.  Malay feelings about the Chinese Communists and the insurrection have a lot in common with Chinese feelings about the Japanese in the 1920s and 1930s.

The ousting of the Communists cost the deaths of 1,346 Malayan troops and police (albeit including a minority of non-Malays).  In comparison,  British and Commonwealth fatalities were about 519.  The Malays were not incidental casualties - they enrolled in the Police Force, the Special Constabulary, the Home Guard, the Malay Regiment and as British Army Malayan Soldiers (BAMS), making a stand to defend the tanah pusaka.

All the insurrection did was to aggravate the tension between the two races and intensify the hostility and mistrust.  It is not up to only  the Malays, but also the Chinese and others to face and talk squarely about the causes, the effects and the repercussions of this dark, bloody history.
Promoting the wishes and woes of one man, without consideration of the wider tapestry of   lives blighted during the insurrection  aggravate the dissensions  and serves only to 'menanggok di air yang keroh'.

Malaysia's big neighbour Indonesia often scorns the way Malaya's/Malaysia's independence was seemingly handed on a silver platter.  They tend to ignore the bloody price paid by this country's people and especially the  Police and Armed Forces  to uphold its peace and sovereignty during the Emergency from 1948-1960, from 1967-1989 and during Konfrontasi.

My father and his students from the Malayan Police Force attending the Hygiene Assistant's Course at Nee Soon, Singapore, circa 1950s/early 1960s.

For the Malays in the Uniformed Forces, fighting the MCP during the Emergency was not a simple matter of taking sides.  It was a battle against two outrages in their land - by the Chinese Communists and the British Imperialists.

Turun ka-sawah memakai tudong,
Padi di-huma layu lengkesa;
Sa-ekor sawa (ular) sa-ekor tedong,
Bersama2 mengadu bisa.

Then of course, came the sequel, another insurrection between 1967-1989, (which had the encouragement and blessings of  the People's Republic of China's  Chairman Deng Xiaopeng) which was fought almost entirely by Malaysians.


This campaign to resurrect LCP, so that he can expire peacefully in his bed in his 'hometown' and be buried next to his father, will most certainly persist.  We are fed selective  pictures of a smiling, jolly-looking, rotund elderly man, looking like our taukeh kedai runcit who has been living just next door to us for the last 40 years.  How could anyone have the heart to deny this simple wish of a man who "at the tender age of 18"  (Susan Loone's paean to LCP) joined the CPM, conjuring an image of an innocent choir boy?

There are many men with fewer bloody culpabilities who would not dare to hope for such a benign end.

When the man finally meets his Maker, I predict Friends of Chin Peng and especially the Political Fashionistas will be parading in T-shirts, or ribbons or wrist bands or bandanas adorned with Lim Chin Peng's image and words like Che Chin Peng, a la Che Guevara.  Green caps decorated with a red star (or 3 red stars) will be the latest 'must-haves' to demonstrate solidarity with their cause celebre and to vaunt their liberal humanitarianism.

But then perhaps it is all to the good this way.  What an ignominious fate it would be for the man who wanted to be Chairman Lim Chin Peng of the People's Republic of Malaya - to end as a mere fashion statement.

NB:  All three pantun were taken from Kalong Bunga Buku 1, oleh Za'ba, 1964 (DBP) 

Sunday 23 October 2011

The Romance of History (CsH)

I hated History.  When you were in the Arts Stream, history was a must to make up the 8 subjects required for the Cambridge School Certificate and the 4 subjects for the Higher School Certificate.

This Examination Time Table shows the nature of the History Papers for the School Certificate. very telling of the times.  They were History of the British Empire and Commonwealth and History for Candidates in Malaya.

Earlier Primary School history was mainly made up of the history of English Kings and Queens and the achievers in the British Empire.   I recall how my my history and geography lessons throughout Primary and  Secondary School referred to the Peninsula -  what is now  West Malaysia -  as Malaya.

 It was in fact a term manufactured by the British to 'create' an image of  a single political entity of the Straits Settlements, the Federated Malay States and the Unfederated Malay States.  Malaya not only referred to the indigenous Malays but also the non-Malay immigrants.  In this way the British did not have to account for the  nefarious (or otherwise) tactics and subterfuge they employed to take over the Peninsula and its resources - in the guise of bringing peace and prosperity to the country.  The 'treaties' they made with the Malay Rulers in their bid to expand their political control became mere details in this larger picture of developing Malaya for the 'benefit' of all.  Also their cynical policy of promoting the entry of millions (from China and India) of what in today's terms would be described as 'foreign workers' to 'develop' and enhance the Imperial coffers would be rationalised and  legitimised.

If the climate had been agreeable to them as in Zimbabwe (the old Southern Rhodesia named after the arch-Imperialist Cecil Rhodes) they might have set up permanent settlements in all the choice spots on the hills, in the most fertile areas or by the seaside and renamed the Malay Peninsula Rafflesia  or  Edwardia!

I have spent all week reading and digging into versions of the History of 'Malaya' from the 1920s to post-World War Two.  What a minefield it was. 

The earlier narrators were mostly British and Australians; more recently they have included a number of non-Malays, some Malays, more Australians and now the addition of some colourful Malay fashionistas  (most  of them, it seems, emanating from institutions in Singapore).  With copious footnotes and citations and reference lists, they excel in presenting a linear history of pre-War and post-War British 'possessions' in the region.  Instead of Kings and Queens  it was all about Sultans ( emasculated and compromised - my description), Residents and Governors and High Commisioners.  There were the European Captains of Industry and Agriculture and Merchant Houses and their immigrant counterparts and the tale of how these were the people who made Malaya then and Malaysia what it is today. 

They hold the view that  'the Malays might have lived in it (the Peninsula) longer, but no one had done as much to develop it as the Chinese'.  This point however, has to be considered.  Although "the vast majority (the Chinese) arrived as labourers, many soon found in the stability and order of  Malaya opportunities for demonstrating their entrepreunerial talents.  Becoming the largest element first in the urban centres and then in the country as a whole,they came to dominate the retail and commercial life of Malaya".  There were no barriers, no competitors , no hazards - success was almost handed on a plate.

As for the natives,  left on their own, the Malays would have remained backward serfs - a sweet but sorry looking lot of  Mats and Minahs who would happily dive into the sea for coins thrown into the water by the wealthy and civilized Others.  The context of Malay culture, political suzerainty, economic activity and  sustenance -  the existence of  Malay peasants and fishermen, small Malay craftwork and industry as well as regional and localised forms of political organisations were marginalised and ignored.  It seemed that the  Malays contributed almost nothing except to allow all and sundry to exploit and profit from the resources in  their homeland while they remained protected  and 'nurtured on subsistence-level' paternalism. Keep them quiet and sedated - that was the ploy.

Words like immigrants, bandits, terrorists, Emergency, communists, nationalists, freedom fighters and liberators  pepper the texts.  The 'left-wing intelligentsia' have done a good job in questioning the choice of words used by the British to describe the post-war insurrection by the Communist Party of Malaysia. Terms like 'bandits' to describe the Communists were later discarded because they give the connotation of MCP guerillas as being 'small fry' like pesky flies that can be easily swatted and worse, that could make them seem almost semi- heroic, like the Robin Hoods of Malaya. Certainly the ambitions of the MCP were stronger than that.

Now the word 'Emergency" was regarded as a typical British understatement of a critical situation.  It's a nifty word because it promises only a temporary hiccup. It also enabled  the owners of the plantations and tin-mines  to claim insurance  for their temporary losses.

But, most of all, this word 'immigrant' fascinates me. Here are its various meanings.

1. a person who comes to a country where they were not born to settle there.
2. one who comes to a foreign country to live there permanently.
3. someone who leaves one country to settle permanently in another and
4. a plant or animal that establishes itself in an area where it previously did not exist.

But the term 'immigrant', as used in texts concerning the history of Malaysia from the 1920s, is a misnomer.

In the first place, the large scale movement of Chinese (and Indians) into Malaya and Singapore was orchestrated  by the imperialists' hunger for cheap labour to work the tin mines and plantations, to construct the buildings, roads, railways and ports, to clear the jungles and later to be the clerks and petty bureaucrats (after a good dose of education in schools run by missionaries) and more importantly to play the role of middlemen traders and conveyancers of lucrative exports (especially) and imports with the cosmopolitan hub, to lubricate the wheels of imperialism.

Secondly they came as transients.  They did not come to settle permanently and  were not, for the most part, immigrants. They were foreign workers allowed entry and permit to make a living and for some fortunate ones, a fortune, by the British Colonial Rulers.  They were sojourners - making a temporary stay in a foreign country amongst people who were not of their culture.  They came to escape  poverty and unrest in their own country.  To 'balek Tongsua ' was a common attribute of the Chinese attitude when I was growing up in the Fifties.

Throughout the 1920s to the 1950s, and even after Independence, the Chinese ( except for some of the Peranakan) did not regard these British outposts as home.  China was their Motherland.  Up to 1948, the 2 million Chinese, many second generation born in Malaya gave their loyalty to their family, their clan and to China. The land of the Malai Kwai  (Malay devil) had no significance for them except as the goose that laid the golden egg.  Furthermore, China allowed them Dual Nationality enabling them to eat their cake and keep it as well.

The concept of "Dimana bumi di pijak, disitu langit di junjung" remained primarily a Malay folly.

Given such a background, it would be very glib to suggest that racially based politics began with the Alliance of UMNO, MCA and the MIC as of the 1957 Independence.  One could safely claim that it started between the 1920s and 1950s when the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party competed for finance and support from Chinese coolies and taukehs and nationalists in Singapore, Penang and Malaya.

Among the notable personalities of this period was Sun  Yat Sen, memorialised as the Father of modern China in the Sun Yat Sen Museum at 65, Macalister Road, Penang and in the previously named Nanyang University at Wan Qing Yuan which 'has been preserved and renamed the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, and gazetted as a national monument of Singapore on October 28, 1994'.

Another notable personality is Lim Chin Peng.  Now there's a cry and a campaign to remember him as a kind of Father of Modern Malaya.

And this will be the subject of my next post.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Well Served

Sometime in the early half of the 1990s I had to travel alone to Kuala Lumpur because of a family emergency.  The spouse drove me to Heathrow but we were caught in a bad traffic jam because of an accident on the worst Ring Road in Britain, the M25.

I very almost missed the check-in at MAS counter and as a result I could only get one of the worst seats on the plane,  in the smoking area.  At that time they had the ridiculous idea that it was fine for non-smokers if the puffers were kept to the back of the plane.

When the passengers on either side of me started to light up their cigarettes, I found myself gasping for breath.  I had to ask the stewardess for a change of seat because I could not cope with this for the next  16 (?) hours.  I could see the plane was full and she would have a problem getting me another seat.  To get some respite from the smokers I had to get out of my seat and take a 'walk' away from the two and other chimneys in the rear of the plane.  Then about half an hour or so  I was informed that they had got a seat for me in the non-smoking zone.  I almost cried with relief.

As I packed my stuff I saw a young Malay man approaching to take over the infernal seat.  I realized then that he had responded to the stewardess's effort to help me by giving up his non-smoking seat.  As I left, I grasped his hand and said,  "Terima kasih 'nak.  Macik tak tahan asap rokok".  He smiled and said "Tak apa macik".

I was taken to a seat next to an aisle seat.  The young Malay man stood up to let me through, made sure I had settled down properly before he sat down.  He asked me in English,   "Auntie okay now?"  I smiled a grateful  'yes'.  I then informed him that I'm actually a macik, in other words a Malay.  He was taken aback and apologized for getting it wrong.  I assured him that this happened to me all the time.  After all I had a Chinese grandmother!  He nodded and smiled.

There were 6-8 other young Malays sitting nearby.  They all had the same haircut typical of men in the Services.  They were neatly dressed, long-sleeved shirts and slacks and neck ties.  I found out later they were ratings from TLDM  (Royal Malaysian Navy) and had just ended a training stint in a new Destroyer that had been purchased by the NAVY.

Their bearing and manners were immaculate and faultless.

 I smile whenever I recall this experience.  After the meals, my young neighbour would very kindly ask me if I needed to go for a 'comfort stop'.  I though that was so considerate of him.  Whenever I did, he would remove himself completely from his seat and stood to the side to let me through.  The whole scenario was repeated when I returned to my seat.

Much later, the young man who took over my seat from hell came to see me and inquired, "Macik selesa sekarang?"  I nodded my head, smiled and thanked him.

Bless them all, bless the training they had, bless TLDM for producing these kind and caring Malaysians.  And they did all this without bothering who they were doing it for.  That is Satu Malaysia from nearly 20 years ago!

Two weeks ago, when the spouse was resting in the Hospital, I would wander off to Mydin for a bit of shopping. Of course my 'bit' ended up with a full basket.  When it came to my turn to pay at the cashier, the young Malay man who was before me, lifted up my laden basket to place it on the counter. He had almost  exactly the same haircut and same straight bearing of those TLDM men on that MAS flight.

Yesterday, on my way home from Immigration Damansara the  meter on the taxi chalked up the lowest fare of all my six taxi trips.  The taxi driver had just started  his new occupation.  He told me he had only recently retired from the Army.

What training do they give to such members of the Armed Forces to make them a cut above the rest?  Can this be transferred to the other Government Departments, to the schools and Universities? Please????
A Malay Man from A.W. Hamilton's "Malay Proverbs"

I know I've been slagging off most things Malaysian.  We are not the most efficient and well-organized country but I believe there's a core of softness and decent flexibility which is absent in some robotically-efficient and many developed countries.  Malaysia has an accommodating heart - that is why those who originate from foreign shores can gain entry and gain a livelihood here , even though they now kick up such a stink about their  so-called plight.

Orang yang kenyang kalau di jamu, lauk yang sedap di-kata tawar.

A well-fed man if offered food
Will say nice dishes are no good.
Those who are with good things sated
Often call them over-rated.

From Malay Proverbs, Bidal Melayu, A.W.  Hamilton , 3rd Edition 1947 (First Edition 1937)

That last taxi driver who took me home yesterday by the shortest route reminded me of the generous and unsolicited kindness of some members of Malaysia's Defence Forces to a litle old lady.

 Now that we have the movie 'The Last Communist'.  Can we have another of  'The Last Pahlawan' ?

Oh yes, mission successful at Immigration Damansara yesterday.

Monday 10 October 2011

Moaning Minnie Back Again

Last week on Thursday I went to Immigration at Damansara to extend Iain's Visa.  They were good enough to accept his absence (with the help of the letter from the Specialist).  But to be on the safe side I brought along the marriage certificate in case they queried our liaison.

The office for Visa Application and Extension is well and truly a waiting room.  You must be prepared to wait and keep awake because the air-con has given up the ghost. Also the escalator doesn't work and this room is on the top fourth floor.  One good sign: the counters for "Social Visit Pass' were fully manned.

After submitting the form, I waited an hour before I heard the call for my number (4034) to report to Counter 7.  I was informed  very nicely that the application could not be processed that very day, that "Keputusan akan diketahui selepas 3 hari bekerja".   Fair enough I thought, because this was the second visa extension from this office.  We don't normally have to do this because we always travel to Singapore to visit the Rainbow Kids .  But this time Iain was just not fit enough to travel that distance.

This morning I got to the office by 9.30.  As I was queuing for my number, this mother and son (no, they're not Malaysians, they look like Central Europeans) tried to potong my jalan.  I spoke to them very nicely (through gritted teeth) and said that this was a queue.  The son, aged about 17, replied in a somewhat bolshie manner that it was only for one question.

So, I capitulated.  As I suspected, it was more than a question.  And  HOORAY, the officer behind the counter told them to go to the end of the line.  YAH, BOO, SUCKS!!!! 

There was still no air-con, the escalator was just as kaput as on Thursday.  I waited again (only standing room), and after an hour my number (4044) was called.  At  Counter 8, the young officer went through a pile of papers  to search for the spouse's application. Nothing. He tried again.  Still nothing.

Why?  I asked.
 "It's still waiting for the Director's signature."
When can I get it, because I was advised to come here today? 
"You could wait here".
For how long?
"I don't know - maybe all afternoon."
But my husband has just had an operation and I cannot leave him on his own all day.
"Then maybe you can come here tomorrow."

So, tomorrow it has to be, to wait for the pen-pushers to get going.

As I left that packed, sweaty and noisy office I looked at the patient, weary faces of the men , women, mothers and fathers, restless and crying children , toddlers,  babies in buggies or in their mothers' arms waiting and waiting.  What am I fretting about? 

Got back home at 11.30.  I vented my frustration at the spouse - he could not get away hee hee!  I grumbled a text message to Din.  He was as usual - cool and comforting.

But .... I am now conversant with the many ways of getting to Immigration Damansara and to our abode by taxi. They range from MR17 to MR20.  Who knows what route tomorrow will bring?  And as for the spouse's visa,  please, please be there!

I shall not fret.  I shall not get frustrated.  I must not be upset.  I must not be defeated.  I will be philosophical.  I will smile at this confounding circumstances and .....


When I was working at CPI in Leicester, the youngsters would nudge me to listen to this song whenever it was played on Radio 1 because they think I am too serious when I'm at work.

Aaaahh .......  now that I feel a wee bit better after that lovely reminiscence,  here's a rib tickler.
At the Immigration Office I saw this notice.

Petition Writers and Touts tidak dibenarkan Masuk

Years ago  when we were in Tawau, I took a photograph of this notice stuck to the door of the 'Ketua Pos Tawau'.
And I posted it to the spouse with this message.

Right! That's the end of the entertainment.

Wish me good tidings for tomorrow.

Saturday 8 October 2011

We're Blessed

Just been upstairs to give the spouse his bed-time mug of Milo and as I shut the bedroom door he said, "We're blessed".

Today's blessings came in the form of Lely and Oi Bek.
It had been a hectic morning sorting out the two workmen who were here to make cupboards and book shelves for the rooms upstairs.  The spouse had to be shunted from our bedroom to the guest room  and after taking him his breakfast upstairs I went down to the kitchen for my toast and coffee.

Then I heard Salam Alaikum through the din of the workmen's drilling?  Now who could that be at this time of morning?

I saw Lely with her face pressed against the French window and Oi Bek strolling in through the front door.  You could have knocked me down with a feather!!  Must admit I was a bit tearful when I saw them!

They had taken the 7.10 am flight from Singapore to give Unc and Teech  a surprise visit - to cheer up Uncle and to take over the cooking and the tea-making and  the washing up from Miss Hamid.  And for all of Saturday, until they left for the airport at 7.30 pm they did just that - and lots more.

After a brief chit-chat to get over my shock, they prepared two trays.  One with coffee and tea, the other with Lely's home-made tuna sandwiches and then proceeded upstairs to give Iain a happy shock.  He was over the moon and their presence cheered him up no end.  We had been feeling a bit blue and worn-out during this period of recuperation.  Oi Bek and Lely brought the sunshine.

And we all sat around his bed eating up the  curry puffs (from Lely), and downing mugs of tea. I also encouraged them to nag him to behave, to reduce his speed while jogging on the Zimmer frame and to always listen to 'she who must be obeyed'.  I too got a dose of telling-off.  I was ordered to sit down and do absolutely nothing. Oh what joy! Later, when the sky brought down a little deluge of  rain and as the cool breeze blew into the room,  it felt like our cup of joy had runneth over.

They left him to rest later in the afternoon while they sorted out the clutter in the kitchen.  Lely bagged the rubbish and together they carried it to the bin outside.  Oi Bek did a smashing job of the washing up ( and she gets 8 out of 10 for that performance) while Lely cooked the rice for the cats' dinner, scrubbed the top of the stove and all the other nitty-gritty jobs in the kitchen.

We had  late tea of Oi Bek's apple pie and my custard, a must for the spouse whenever he has apple pie.  Time flies when you're having fun and all too soon the taxi came to pick them up to get them to KLIA.

Oi Bek and Lely, how can we thank you?  Words fail us.  What did we do to deserve this loving and selfless concern?  All I did was to have been your teacher for two years.

So thank you to our two angels.  Loads of love and kisses and God bless you.

Sunday 2 October 2011

I knew that one day it would come to this .........

Our car  after the accident on 26 Sept

On Monday 26 September  the spouse was driving to Tung Shin Hospital for his hip-replacement surgery.  We were on the main road at Jalan Jelatek maneuvering our way through the usual morning traffic jam when we heard a loud bang.  A car was coming from a minor road,  driven by a female Malay SYT ( sweet young thing) who had misjudged her sneaky attempt to 'celuk' into Jalan Jelatek and hit our car instead.

As I was the closest to her car, I could see this female Malay SYT gesticulating angrily at us from inside her car.  I signalled to her to stop a short distance away and both cars moved  ahead to park next to the kerb at Jalan Jelatek.
Now,  accidents happen and we all, young and old, male and female, Malay, Chinese, Indian and  also 'orang putih'  should be able to deal with the situation in a civilized manner. It's only a car, for heaven's sake.  There are no bad cars, only bad drivers with nasty attitudes.

We stepped out of our car and  the female Malay SYT driver walked towards us in a huff declaring in English,  "Why you do not stop?"  (quoted in verbatim)

The bloody cheek I thought!  She was the one who should stop, coming from a side road!  The spouse was livid when he heard this - and he was on his way to the Hospital for an operation!!

This was my retort in Malay,   "Mengapa  kurang ajar?  Siapa yang salah? Siapa yang cuba celuk? Siapa yang langgar siapa?  Tak lulus Highway Code kah?

She was taken aback because she did not expect me to tell her off in Malay.  And I was getting more and more concerned about the effect of this accident and the female Malay SYT's   insolence on Iain's stress level - he was due for a major operation in five hours' time!!

When I asked for her details, she resorted to the usual weapon of tears and said she would speak to her father.  To cut a long story short, her father called me and in a roundabout way asked that I make no police report and that he would pay for the repair. 

When I made this posting on 12 November 2009, "Beautiful Baby Driving a Car" ,
I did not expect to experience the full impact and reality of the female Malay SYT's stupid driving and arrogance.  We have had minor and bad  skirmishes on the road in England but these kapirs   never displayed such crassness and irresponsibility. 

For the rest of the journey to the Hospital we kept each other calm and yesterday, Syukur Alhamdulillah, we got home safe and sound.  Iain's operation was a success and for the next few weeks the cobalt-titanium man will spend his days adjusting to the new hip.  Hip, hip, hurray!

Here he is, showing off  to his  'nieces' like Lely, Oi Bek, Rohaya, Irene and Rukhsana and 'nephews' like Jai, Din and Yuwrajh to assure them  that he can still rock, sans Zimmer frame.  Sigh......!!!!

Finally, heaps of thanks for all the doa and prayers and good wishes from friends and relatives.