Saturday 28 July 2012

Far Away and Long Ago

We're moving into our second week of Ramadan.  It's a time for pondering about long-lost days, about how and whether I have put to good use my time on this earth.  Despite the advancing years I stll feel there's a lot more to be done and to be shared.

When the day gets hot and fasting becomes more and more challenging, I escape into my treasure room of books.  The act of opening a book and touching and turning the pages bring much more joy than clicking a keyboard.  You can flick back and forth through the pages while you're horizontal  or vertical. There's no need to plug it into a socket or fear the battery packing up.

I have this set of Malay story books, done in a very handy size of  5 inches x 6 inches.

Call me old-fashioned, brand me as a remnant from the dinosaur period!  I still prefer the old spelling with the e tanda and I detest bahasa baku.

I love the simple artwork in these books just as I remember with much affection the colour and art of my English textbooks from the 1950s.

Here are a couple of pages from Tiga Orang Sahabat.

The three good friends found themselves embroiled in helping a mother hen to save her chick from the wolf.
And it all ended happily with the help of the pelanduk, arnab and kura2.

And so, all's well that ends well.  Perhaps there's a lesson to be learned from this simple story.  Malaysians have to beware of the wolf and/or the wolf in sheep's clothing.   It would be wonderful too if as in this story there are warm and kind friends like the pelanduk, arnab and kura2 - all  amiable and peaceable creatures with no hidden agenda.

I guess in this holy month of Ramadan. one is allowed to dream - to wish for the good of all.

Selamat Berpuasa.

This is a truly groovy, jazzy version - full of vitality and warmth  ...... shooby, dooby dah!

Here's another version, the original one I grew up with  - from 50 years ago.  It turns on the tears when it's sung this way, just like 50 years ago.

The original lyrics before the creation of 'Malaysia' were -
Sungguh gemilang negri ku
Yang ku cinta oh Tanah Melayu
Di merata dunia harum semerbak nama mu oh Malaya.

Songs  like these fired the spirit and fervour of "Merdeka" before and after 1957.
For someone of that generation I do feel short changed  - that the name Malaya for the Peninsula (Tanah Melayu) had to be expunged,  when Sarawak and Sabah (British North Borneo) could maintain theirs.


 A rose by any other name smells just as sweet!

                                                T  A  M  A  T

Saturday 14 July 2012

MALAYSIA BOLEH tak bertimbang rasa?

What is the link between ikan bakar .......

....... the Euro 2012 mascots, Slavek and Slavko ..........

  and our venerable  Berita Harian ......

 More to the point - how does this affect peace and tranquility  for the benighted dwellers of Setiawangsa?   For three nights, in the early mornings of 28 June, 29 June and 2 July, from  0130 hours to almost 0400 hours they were assaulted  by the raucous screechings of the presenters .....

followed by the direct transmissions of the two semi-finals and Final of Euro 2012.        The noise would have reached many hundreds of homes in this residential area.

I'm no party pooper,  I support healthy sports and sporting activities, but this cacophony - emanating from an open 'hall'  ....

..... (which also served as a Wedding Hall for rent) -  ....

.... is beyond the pale and an affront to human decency.

Our neighbour was so frustrated,  and all he could do  was to yell pitiably at 2 am from his window against the infernal  noise - but who wanted to hear him?

Call the Police?  Ho hum!   How did they get the permit to conduct this racket in a residential area?  More hums and hahs!

While the cash tills at Ikan Bakar Sekinchan and Berita Harian keep on ringing, we small fish kena bakar, we were grilled to the bones.

The next time such culinary and national newspaper corporations  dream of opportunities to enhance the profit for themselves and their shareholders,  please conduct it around the plush residential  homes of the Senior Executives or in the padi fields of Sekinchan.

Monday 9 July 2012

Baby, It's a Jungle Out There

Tourism  has become, for most countries without resources, a most profitable industry.  This year the Olympics will bring to Britain, hopefully, a great deal of prestige and earnings.  But this 'sceptred isle' has no problem in touting her history and culture as a selling point to tourists from all over the world.

I saved that cutting from a long time ago - to remind me why London has more tourists than natives, why you must avoid the Lake District in summer because it is Beatrix Potter country and Stratford-upon-Avon is a must for many Americans.
Sometime in May this year I saw this product for sale at our local Evington Road Co-Op, Leicester.  More than the product itself, it was the advertisement that caught my attention.

Buy Capri-Sun and you have the chance to win an all-expenses paid wildlife adventure.  This adventure promises :

Watching elephants batheing? breakfast with orang utans? fraternising with deers and lions and tigers??
Is this jungle deep in the Amazon forest, the jungles of Borneo or the Congo Equatorial Forest?

No, it's in a country that's just 682 sq. km in area but which has 3,000 km of roads.  It's the largest exporter of ornamental fish ( 25% of the world's market).  The highest man-made waterfall is located here and at 30 metres high it's about one-sixth of the country's highest natural point.  It boasts of having the largest fountain in the world.  All these in the second most densely populated country in the world  (after Monaco) and where 90% of the population live in high rise flats. 

It once described itself simply as an island, but now that teeny-weeny pockets of land and sand and reefs can be 'stitched' up to the mother island  (like the Southern Islands in the south-west) to create an extension - the existence of 63 other tiny islands have been included in the CV.

Well. this is the location of the Grand Prize.

Perhaps the most enticing part is the Night Safari, which has been well publicised in the brochures.


NB : Bukit Timah at 164 metres is the highest point, the waterfall is at Jurong Bird Park,  the fountain is at Suntec City,  SE Asia's largest gambling joint and the Night Safari is the pride of the Zoo, the first night zoo in the whole world!

The people who made all these wonders possible live here.

Thank you Lely for this photograph
I wish all the winners a great time prowling in this promised  jungle theme park.  I wonder if George in Leicester got the prize.   Perhaps I should have made an effort too!

Wednesday 4 July 2012

"The barbarians are copulating at the gates"

     Shocked?    Well, Tim Black from "Spiked" wrote the above when he reviewed Eric Kaufmann's  "Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?" in July 2010.  He summarised Kaufmann's well-regarded treatise as  " A new book (that)  hysterically imagines that the crisis of Western liberalism is being brought about by fecund foreign fundamentalists."

     Kaufmann is but one of many fearing the rise and rise of the poor, the coloured and non-western inhabitants of the world  - especially the Muslims. 

     These doom-mongers range from academics to environmentalists, to religious fundamentalists and even bankers from the Bundesbank.

1. Two highly regarded environmentalist-neoMalthusians, Paul and Anne Ehrlich, gave an urgency to the campaign of saving the planet from people in their 1968 best seller "The Population Bomb".  In their 1990  "The Population Explosion"  they claimed -  there are differences  "......... but the low status of women in Islamic societies caused high birth rates and infant mortality rates."  Although they conceded that it's "not Islam itself that causes high growth rates but poverty and inferior status of women."

2.  Of course, there are plenty of secular-liberal and Christian extremists hammering at the fecundity of Muslims.  But this one comes from the Anglican Establishment itself - from the Primate of Nigeria.  (A Primate, not primate, is the most important priest in a country especially in the Church of England)

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh - Primate of Nigeria
     In 2011, during a sermon in Kent, he voiced the threat of Muslims mass-producing children to take over Africa.  "If you have 4 wives four children, sixteen children, very soon you will be a village."  Indeed,
this would be a dire scenario for Christians in Africa.

    Although liberals (both secular and Christian) are embarrassed by such statements they are quick to point out that this concern has been swept under the carpet for too long and the taboo needed to be broken.  But like the old fear of the "Yellow Peril"  (the Chinese)  this is no taboo.   The fear of Islam is inherent in Judaeo-Christian culture - and today, that includes not just the whites but also the non-whites who are non-Muslims.

NY Times August 14, 1910. Copyright The New York Times.
(From   Imran Garda)

3. In January 2010 Miloslav Vlk, a Vatican Cardinal  (previously Archbishop of Prague from 1991) expressed a worry that Christians are allowing Europe to be Islamised - that immigration and the Muslims' high birth rates will take over  "the vacant space created as Europeans empty the Christian content of their lives".

     And this bogey of multiplying Muslim rabbits has also been analysed by rational, intelligent academics from pukka Western universities.

4. Eric Kaufmann (mentioned above) a Canadian reader in politics at Birkbeck College, London  noted "...the fecundity of fundamentalists from the Amish, Israel's ultra-Orthodox and the Mormons."  So far, so good.  But the most potent ingredient in his crucible of fecundity were the Muslims - a fecundity aggravated by their increased migration to the West.  He estimated that "Switzerland could be 25% Muslim by 2100 - Austria 36%."  These are alarmist figures - boosting the ridiculous belief of a "Eurabia" -  AND breeding more Breviks in Europe!

Although his thesis also took into account the rising birth rate of the non-Muslims,  and the fact that the increasing number of immigrants in Europe also includes Christians (60% of London's churchgoers, for example, are non-whites) - Kaufmann falls short of his liberal credentials as he believes that " in the future the rift will be between increasing numbers of Muslims and the rest of everybody else."

5.  American academic Jack Goldstone, in his "The New Population Bomb" (2010), puts a different slant on this population 'bomb'.  More crucial than the number of inhabitants in the world are the composition and distribution of this bomb and the movement of people across the globe.  He reckons this movement or 'forces of supply and demand' of labour  " will act strongly on the Muslim world where many economically weak countries will continue to experience dramatic population growth.  ....... By 2009,  (Bangla Desh, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria ) ... the most populous Muslim-majority countries  .... have a combined population of 886 million ........ expected to increase by 475 million between now and 2050 ... during which time the six  most populous developed (meaning white mainly) countries are projected to gain only 44 million.  Of the 48 fastest growing countries today - those with annual population growth of two percent or more - 28 are majority Muslim or have Muslim minorities of 33 percent or more."

In this conception of the West having an ageing population and a low reproductive rate and the Muslim world enjoying the opposite the threatening scenario will be no different from the one which the Archbishop, or Kaufman, or a dozen other doom-mongers are promoting.

6.   In August 2010, Thilo Sarrazin, a prominent board member of Germany's Bundesbank, published "Germany is Digging its Own Grave" where he expressed his fear that the immigrants are not integrating into German society, especially the Muslims.  They are blamed for 'dumbing down' society and he especially points out that at the rate Muslim women are reproducing, Germans may become 'strangers in their own country.'

There are however three facts that all these theorists have decided to play down :

Firstly, Muslim birthrates are falling worldwide.  According to the UN"s World Population Prospects, only two Arab countries, Yemen and the Palestinian territories, have high fertility rates.  In Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait and Lebanon, fertility rates have fallen to near-European levels, less than 2.2.  When the Shah of Iran was driven out in 1979,  the rate of reproduction was 6.5.  By 2000 it dropped to 2.2 and today it's 1.7.

The UN estimated that for the years 2010-2015, the fertility rate of Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim
 state will fall to 2.02, Bangla Desh to 2.2 and Pakistan will just reach replacement level at 2.1.
For more details read :

Secondly, Christianity is still the world's largest religion with one third stating Christianity as their religion.   The only change is that while the majority of Christians are still found in Europe and the Americas, their share has fallen from 93% in 1910 to 63% today.  Sub-Saharan Africa ( where Archbishop Nicholas Okoh is situated), which holds one quarter of the world's Christians, has seen the largest increase. In the Asia-Pacific region there were 17 million Christians in 1910; in 2010 that number grew to 285 million.  More astounding, Indonesia accounts for more Christians than all 20 countries in the Middle east and North Africa combined.  These shifts in the global Christian population have been the result of  zealous and successful  missionary work as well as the high birth rate of the local Christian communities.

So who's the Bogey?

Thirdly, while Muslims are accused of migrating in droves to populate the West,  the overwhelming proportion of  international migrants  are Christians.