Tuesday 31 December 2013

Ilyas and Emir and the Archbishop

Got a much needed ray of sunshine when Abang Long, my brother-in law, sent me this photograph of his "Cucu No. 8 and 9" on their first day at school.

Ilyas (on the left) and his cousin Emir all geared up to face the world of learning - for the next  12-15 years.
I know my sister will  thump me for showing this : Tok Wan in Primary 1 circa 1949.

Maznah first went to St Anthony's Girls' School  (top photo) when we were living at Kampung Chantek, Dunearn Road. The family then moved to Kampung Abu Kassim at Pasir Panjang Road and she had to have a change of uniform for Pasir Panjang English School.

Though Tok Wan looked like a frightened rabbit during her first year in school, her grandsons are full of smiles and confidence.  Could it be because they are wearing long pants and not just shorts?  In the old days long trousers were only for the big boys in secondary school  (except for Jurong Secondary School, Singapore).  Little squirts in primary school were only allowed shorts!  But then little boys (and big ones) are good at hiding their fears and their mischief.  They may look like butter won't melt in  their mouths but they do have a remarkable, innate talent for driving you up the wall and round the bend.

It wasn't too long ago when they were just two little nuisances and a pain in the ears!

Dennis the Menace and Roger the Dodger in 2008
Thank you Bang Long (and Maria) for keeping me in the loop - and for giving me a kickstart to get on with writing.  Most of the time for the past few weeks my head had been feeling  like this spinning carousel at Leicester City Centre.

I put it down to these series of medication (not the book though) - three so far - for a geriatric blogger with a dodgy pulse rate.

On the other hand, the fatigue and breathlessness could be due to a deficiency of sunshine, blacan and sambal pedas petai/ikan bilis?

Elyas, his old man Nadzim, his big brother Ariff, and Emir are privileged to have attended  St. John's Institution or Sekolah  Kebangsaan St. John, one of the oldest schools in Malaysia which was opened by the La Salle Brothers in 1904.  For more information, check   http://malaysiafactbook.com/St._John's_Institution,_Kuala_Lumpur

This Catholic missionary institution has developed in tandem with the country's post-Independence education policy designating  itself as Sekolah Kebangsaan St. John without the letters 'Ç' and 'T' in brackets.  In 1969 St John took pride in organising the annual English and Bahasa Malaysia public speaking competition.  "Public speaking became part of the English and Bahasa Malaysia curriculum and was compulsory for all students".  St. John maintained its Christian heritage and autonomy in management even though it has become very popular with non-Christian students and their parents - making it a multi-ethnic and multi-religious Sekolah Kebangsaan.  "Though the school land is owned by the Roman Catholic Church .....  much of the school funding is received from the Government of Malaysia".

In May 2010 it was declared a National Heritage Site by the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage.  It was one of the first schools to be recognised as a Cluster School of Excellence where it was granted autonomy in   'administration and adequate funding to excel in specialised fields such as academic, sports and extra-curricular activities".  St. John can be proud of two other aspects of their CV.  They provide for visually-impaired students who attend normal classes like the other students.  They are taught by specialist teachers and given extra tuition by student-volunteers.  Also this school is blessed with generous contributions from former students and other benefactors together with a dedicated Staff and PIBG.  If only other Sekolah Kebangsaan in the country could replicate the dedication and standard  of Sekolah Kebangsaan St. John.

Like any other parents, Maria and Nadzim, Hidayah and Faiz - the parents of Ilyas and Emir respectively - wanted a school where their children could thrive and grow - in  Bahasa  Malaysia and English -  in both the academic and non-academic spheres.  Their other priority is that their children should study and grow up with other  (non-Malay) Malaysian children.  In the classroom, in the canteen, in the playing fields, their children together with others who make up the Malaysian rakyat will get the opportunity to work as a team, to quarrel and bicker as children do, to share and compete, to laugh and cry together and most important of all - despite their differences in skin and faith - they will  learn to respect - and not to just tolerate - one another

And so I was quite distressed when I read this in The Malaysian Insider on Christianity's most holy day.

See :   http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/archbishop-packiam-prays-that-the-pm-will-remember-where-he-came-from

Here's an extract with the most telling parts marked in green ......

And so it came to pass that on one Christmas Day, a day for "peace on earth and goodwill to all men", Archbisop Emeritus Murphy Packiam  decreed that .......

Is this payback time because a Muslim boy studied in a Catholic school?  What about non-Muslims who live and prosper in a Malay-Muslim Semenanjung and Southeast Asia?   In fact, Catholic and Protestant/Anglican/ Methodist Missionary schools, vernacular Chinese and Tamil schools  have thrived much more than Malay schools from the time of the invasion of the Malacca Sultanate by  the Catholic Alfonso de Albuqurque in the early part of the 16th century - through Dutch and especially British Imperialism and right up to 1957.  With such generous support and handouts from the Colonial Government it is rather the  Christian Mission schools who should show gratitude to the  natives for letting the Christian white overlords to act as they please in the Semenanjung for their benefit.

What can I say?  Big deal!  For this semi-divine favour, should Tun Rahah be obliged to instruct her PM son to forego his responsibilities to the rest of the country and give  Archbishop Packiam  his perceived "pound of flesh".   It seems that the Prime Minister of Malaysia owes him ( and his cronies) a helluva debt!  Does that also include all the Malay-Muslim children, past and present, who attended Catholic and other Christian schools?

O mighty Caesar! dost thou lie so low?
Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils
Shrunk to this little measure?     (Shakespeare : Julius Caesar , III. i. Ib.148 )

But I do believe that this school where my father's great-grandchildren will spend the next 12-15 years of their lives does not subscribe to the same ethos as the good Archbishop.

However I think we should also consider another aspect of the Malaysian Insider's title, "... that the PM will remember where he came from".  It is crucial that we must not forget to remember how we got to be Malaysians and how we got to be where we are now - and that includes Prime Ministers and Archbishops.


This song by that true-blue anak Malaysia Andre Goh,  has accompanied me (via a cassette tape) wherever I wandered away from my shores.  It kept me company when I was in Brunei, as an anak dagang mencari rezeki di negeri orang, as a student in London, Colchester and Leicester and as the spouse of Donald Iain Buchanan in Leicester.

Bahagia lah dikau di merata negeri,
Jangan lupa asal mu tetap sejati.

And so for Emir and Ilyas,  one day, perhaps in the 2060s when you will reach my age, you will remember to hold dear your family and especially the two lines above.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Foot in Mouth Disease - Part II

This posting is dedicated to each and everyone of my Followers - with much appreciation for your support.


Last night some one took a potshot at AsH.  Because it was located at a remote corner of my previous posting "Whither the Malays  and Wither the Malays?"  ( See the Sidebar)  I decided to do a posting and give this cyber-warrior the oxygen of publicity.

This was the comment from AK47.

   And this was my "response" - short and sweet compared to the first Foot in Mouth posting.

Read :  http://anaksihamid.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/foot-and-mouth-disease.html

To add meat to AK 47's angst over 'decapitated craniums of bovines'  I suggest he look up my posting "For Jagdish" 2 September 2009.
 Check   http://anaksihamid.blogspot.co.uk/2009/09/for-jagdish.html

Ahem.... sorry to be a bit finicky.  A cranium is just the bony framework.  Those idiots - in 2009- decapitated the head and the cranium within - of that innocent cow!

Bertepuk tangan, amboi tangan, tanda berani.
Tiada gentar, ala sayang, hai membela diri.

Sunday 8 December 2013


I do apologise.  For the moment, my posting of  "A Collective or a Cult?" has to be on the back burner - just for a while, as I have to publicise and thrash this little ignoramus.

The demise of one of the 20th century's bravest freedom fighters, Nelson Mandela, saw a great outpouring of love, sadness, sympathy and respect in the world's electronic and print media.  Today, I looked through the Daily Mail's article on the passing of Nelson Mandela ......

See :  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2519666/Nelson-Mandela-dead-95.html

and at the top of the Comment Section was this sordid piece by davidlee52, swanscombe, 15 hours ago (as of the time of this posting at 18.09,  7 Dec 2013).    The piece struck me as typical of an increasingly vocal campaign against Malaysia, now being waged (often by 'Malaysians") on the global Internet.

davidlee52 wrote:

The only country left in the world with its own version of apartheid is Malaysia and the country needs a great fair government and a leader that could walk in the shoes of Mr Nelson Mandela.

What magnanimity to utilise the passing of an African leader and freedom fighter to score points against Malays and Malaysia and to slag off his 'motherland" !!!   That's assuming that  (1) he is or was Malaysian, and (2)  that  as a Malaysian he is possessed of an undying loyalty to the land of his Passport.

Yes indeed. Malaysia needs a 'great fair government' especially  to balance the disparity of wealth between the Chinese of immigrant stock and the native Malays and Others.  This huge wealth gap in Malaysia - well institutionalised by historical, political, and cultural forces - is very similar to that  between the immigrant whites in South Africa and the indigenous blacks during and after the so-called end of Apartheid in South Africa.  Of course the political realities are different, but the skewing of wealth distribution is much the same. And remember, there are rich "natives" and poor "ïmmigrants" in both cases but they are few and far between.

Certainly, it will need more than the wisdom and fortitude of  a Mandela to sort out this economic injustice in Malaysia - as it clearly still does in South Africa!

 In many ways, davidlee52's  accusation  can be easily binned in the light of these statistics.

1.  According to Malaysia Today, reporting Nanyang Siang Pau's research; the 10 richest men in Malaysia are (in descending order)   T. Ananda Krishnan, Robert Kuok, Teh Hong Piow, Lee Shin Cheng, Lim Kok Thay, Quek Leng Chan, Yeoh Tiong Lay, Mokhtar al-Bukhary, Azman Hashim and Lee Oi Hian.  So the tally is : 1 Indian, 1 Arab, 1 Malay and 7 Chinese.  Doesn't this look like the list of South Africa's 10 richest men with the immigrant whites hogging the wealth?  Just as a matter of interest, in Apartheid South Africa, during the 1970s, the Chinese were classified as 'honorary whites' and by the 1980s , together with the Japanese they were treated as 'whites'.

If davidlee52 is calling Malaysia an Apartheid country, where one dominant non-indigenous group, the Chinese (like the whites in South Africa), control and  hold the reins of wealth  -  then there is Apartheid in Malaysia!   You see, you can't possibly make and accumulate such wealth and clout if you suffer discrimination and segregation like the blacks in the United States and in South Africa. But then , this domination and control also exist in Indonesia and the Philippines. So here are two more apartheid regimes in Southeast Asia!

2.  Let's look at Indonesia's Top Ten Croesus.  There's Budi Hartono (Oei Hwi Tjong), Eka Tjipta Widjaja (Oei Ek Thong), Anthony Salim and family (no Chinese name available), Susilo Wonowidjojo and family (Cai Doping) and two other Chinese as in Mochtar Riady and Sukanto Toto.  Chairul Tanjung  and Sri Prakash Lohia are certainly not of this tong pao.   As for Boenjamin Setiawan and Peter Sondakh - I cannot find the information.

3.  As for the Philippines, her Top Ten included amongst others, Henry Sy and family (No 1 - net worth $12,000million), Lucio Tan and family, Andrew Tan, George Ty and family.

You see, if people like davidlee and scores of others want to play the racial card about inequality and imbalances and democracy, I find no reason why I should not follow through their line of argument and look at the most crucial ingredient of power and justice and equality - namely wealth.

4.  Just to add grist to the mill, outside of China, Malaysia is the only country that caters for vernacular Chinese education.  Singapore, with a population of over 75% Chinese only gives room for the top flyers in vernacular Chinese education - in the SAP school where they are treated as anak mas..  Furthermore here are some  'enlightening' aspects of  "Apartheid Malaysia" from Wikipedia referring to a Chinese PI Cohort..  In terms of admission to post-secondary institutions the proportion of  Chinese rose from 65% (1990) to 96% in 2005.  Very interesting is the increase of ethnic Chinese in publicly funded tertiary institutions from 13% (1980) to 69% (2005).

I suppose davidlee52  could shrug this off as, "Well it's because you Malays (and Indians) are backward and lazy!"   Aaah, a tactic straight from the White Colonialists' hymn book..  My experience as a teacher in Singapore tells me that it takes more than colour and culture to excel in school.  Those from a comfortable middle-class background especially the ones who live in the urban areas have the right ingredients for educational success, not only in terms of motivation but also of health and facilities.  The Chinese have always, always been the denizens of mainly urban areas where the British provided the best facilities, services and infrastructure for education, employment and health - an enduring legacy of their built-in advantage.

For more statistical details about this urban-rural apartheid do look at :

5.  I think people who reckon that the Malays have an unfair placing in the power structure of the country should familiarise themselves with the matters that really count - wealth!  Malaysians of all shades of hue should be proud to know that in the list of the world's billionaires Robert Kuok is at number 33 ( though Ananda Krishnan may have topped him in 2013), Lee Shin Cheng (189), Quek Leng Chan (277), Teh Hong Piow (277) and Yeoh Tiong Lay (421).  So what are the Sino-cybertroopers whingeing about?

And while checking on the news of Malaysia a week ago I discovered this helluva codswallop - this time from the Kelantan Malay Datuk Zaid Ibrahim - about how the Chinese were the true patriots because they paid the most tax!!!!  Of course this silliness will be used by the likes of davidlee52 to show what good Malaysians they are .

People who are not rich enough to pay a lot of tax have other priorities to cater to, like paying their rent, the children's schooling and putting food on the table.  People who pay tax are exactly the sort who have more than they need and want for a good life.  In any country in the world these sorts have to fulfill their responsibilities to the country that made them what they are!    But then they also can afford accountants who can help them to siphon their extra dosh to escape the tax man!

So, is there another indicator of loyalty?  Will davidlee52 of Swanscombe and all the other cybertroopers of his ilk out there in the ether acknowledge and respect those who pay with their blood to protect the sovereignty of "Apartheid Malaysia"?    Is there any chance that one day, people like davidlee or his grandchildren and great grandchildren will be willing to reciprocate this sacrifice?   But maybe they might think, what for?  We've paid enough tax.

It is a shame that davidlee52  chose not to direct his comment in The Daily Mail to paying respect for a great son of Africa in the Mail's Mandela tribute.  Instead he used it as a platform to shout his chauvinism and slag off Malaysia.

I picked this beautiful flower from near Motherwell, a township where the blacks live.  I brought it home, dried it and preserved it in my special box to remind me of  the disparities of wealth and poverty - anywhere in the world.

In 2000, the spouse and I went on a little visit to South Africa.  In Port Elizabeth we were advised by our Boer host not to take the local Pawancha or Teksi Sapu to get into the City Centre because they were run and used by blacks.  We disregarded that advice and on both trips we were treated no different from the other 'local' passengers..  We got back to our host's house safe and sound, body and possessions intact.  Later we took a coach trip from Port Elizabeth to Capetown.  We shall never forget this.  On that coach, we observed a white woman giving a can of drink to a black South African - who obviously looked far far poorer - in the seat next to hers.  You would think, there's a good lady - she has shed her sense of superiority in a South Africa that has cast off the chains of Apartheid.

Well, she had 'donated' a can of drink which she herself could not finish - she gave away her leftovers.

The late Nelson Mandela pushed the door a little for justice for his people but his followers and the younger generation among his people will have to work even harder.  "Freedom and liberty" is not too hard a sacrifice to be given away by the powerful and the rich.   But giving the people Justice, - the opportunity to enable people to ' duduk sama rendah dan berdiri sama tegak', to redistribute the share of the pie, would be  anathema for those at the top.

Ditto Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.


Friday 6 December 2013

Siti Aishah and WIMLMZT

For the last ten days, the weather has been a wee bit chilly and insalubrious for a geriatric tropical flower like AsH.  I decided to do something unchallenging like tidying up the folders in My Document and My Pictures. But then the Brixton slavery case hit the headlines and when it was revealed that one of these women 'slaves' was a 69 year old Malaysian it became more interesting than reading 'Fictionalized History: Initiating Changes in the Malaysian Identitity' by Sim Chee Cheang.  And when the identity of the the Malaysian turned out to be Siti Aishah Bakar you could have knocked me down with a feather.  Here is someone the post-modernists would describe as a  'Malay-Muslim Woman Subaltern' who, for over 30 years, had lived a life in a 'Maoist' Collective in London with an agenda of subverting the  'authority and hegemony' of the existing power structure. (I do enjoy playing the post-modernist lingo!)  I am curious as to how our post-modernist critics, crypto-Marxists, liberal intellectuals and academics in the Talking Salons and Ivory Towers in Singapore and Malaysia will interpret this phenomenon.  I suppose one can expect a flood of papers, treatises, seminars  from our radicals and liberals and (male and female) feminists in the near future!

I have however  discovered two articles.  One is by Maria Begum from the Malaysia Chronicle: BIG SLAP FOR MALAYSIA : Siti Aishah REFUSES to return, STANDS by her Maoist mates. the words indicated in capital letters are the author's.   The other is  "Forgiving Siti Aishah'  by Jeswan Kaur of FMT news.  Both of them are  plying the same tired argument purveyed by  the cult-like Friends and Fans (FAF) of Lim Chin Peng - that this Malay, this member of the "Supreme Race" was not to be punished, that she is allowed to come home while the ashes of their Supreme Freedom Fighter was denied re-entry into the Peninsula's soil,  etc etc.  I think they are getting their  "knickers in a twist" -  when they chose to interpret this tragic-comical  'Singaporean-Malaysian Collective' in terms of their self-serving racial politics.

The CONTEXT - that is what I always get back to.  

Anak Md Deris in her comment on my previous posting, asked me if I knew anything about Siti Aishah as we were born in 1944 and were in London at about the same time.  Actually Siti Aishah came to do her degree in London in 1968.  In that year I was into my second year of teaching at Yusof Ishak Secondary School  and I did not pursue my postgraduate studies in London University till 1974.  What we had in common other than 1944 was our  urban Malay-Muslim background.  We were both single,  English educated, and had the privilege of a tertiary education.  That was all.

London in the 1960s and 70s was awash with revolutionary student activities and activists belonging to groups of Marxists, Marxist-Leninists, Trotskyites, Stalinists,  International Socialists, International Marxist Group (of Tariq Ali)  Communists and Maoists.  This was also the time of the Civil Rights Movement in the USA.  Also the Imperialists'  involvements in the Vietnam War were at its most ferocious and bloody.( USA ended its presence in 1975).  Anti-war protests in London, organised by the young revolutionaries was particularly regular and well-attended.  However another battle of resistance by Palestinians against Israeli Occupation remained somewhat invisible, even after the 1967 Six day War.  In fact Yasser Arafat's PLO was formed in 1964.

As for Britain, the 1970s were marked by industrial strikes by coal miners in 1972 (under the Conservative Government)  and a variety of other minor strikes.  I remembered the 'bread' strike in 1975 when all the shelves in the shops were emptied of bread.  There were also frequent and unannounced strikes on the London Underground and buses.  I recalled a group of students coming to our lecture room in 1975 asking us to leave the room and join their protest.  This was at the Institute of Education, Malet Street. There were about nine of us but we ignored their call.

In comparison to university students today, British university undergrads then were living the life of Larry.  They were given very generous student grants.  They could stop and start and change  their courses as they pleased without suffering any financial penalty.  During University vacations they were well taken care of by registering for the dole.  This was a grand time to be young and radical.

My father organized for me a college in the East.
But I went to California, the sun-shine and the beach.
My parents and lecturers could never understand,
Why I gave it up for music and the free electric band.

By the late 1960s the Communist Party of Great Britain  (CPGB)  was reckoned to be  too moderate by the young revolutionaries. Mao and Mao's China was regarded as the 'model for the socialist revolution'.  The 1966 Cultural Revolution in China  gave fire and spirit to these Maoist factions.  They were mainly small groups making inroads into student movements in the late 1960s.  Many were overseas students and according to Professor Steve Rayner of Oxford University they "refused to recognize the legitimacy of the state .... and maintained a hostile attitude towards the establishment and towards the rest of the far-left in Britain at that time.  Their ideology was profoundly detached from reality."

One of these 'Maoist' leaders, Aravindan Balakhrisnan  - who was arrested with his wife Chanda for holding the three women as slaves for 30 years - was reported to be a product of Raffles Institution, Singapore's pukka English school and an undergrad in Singapore University in 1960.  Some sources reported that he came to study at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), London University in the 60s.

As for Siti Aishah , according to her sister, she came to Britain on a Commonwealth Scholarship to study surveying in 1968 and  was "attracted by an organisation called the Malaysian and Singaporean Students Forum which had a reputation as one of the more extremist Maoist groups operating in London."

 Comrade Bala and his wife Chanda  organised many meetings and protests in the late 60s and early 70s - giving talks and distributing pamphlets in the streets and University Campuses.  Siti Aishah was so bowled over by Comrade Bala's charisma and ideology that she broke her engagement and steered her loyalty towards Chairman Ara or Comrade Bala.  She eventually moved in permanently with Comrade Bala's cell, turning her back on her family and dedicated her life to the Revolution

In 1974 Balakrishnan  broke away from the  CPGB and set up the Maoist splinter group WIMLMZT or Workers' Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought.  On Mao's death in 1976 the group erected a Mao Tse Tung Memorial Centre at 140 Acre Lane Brixton.  In 1978 the Centre was raided by the police and as a result, some students who had overstayed their visas were deported.  In the same year, Balakrishnan's cell, together with Siti Aishah and others went 'underground'.

By the 1980s Balakrishnan's  WIMLMZT went off the screen. They were regarded as non-violent and were simply maintaining a low profile, waiting for the Great Victory.   And in some ways the Maoism of the group is irrelevant: their key features are those of a cult rather than those of a Leninist party.  ( Lurdan  writes ....
"Looking at their writings now they seem to exhibit all the indicators of a classic millenarian sect based on an apparently literal belief in the immanence of global revolution.")

Whither the Revolution? 

My next posting :  "A Collective or a Cult? "

It is far from unprecedented to find people attracted to an individual who promises them a way to change the world  and add meaning to their own lives.  They are then encouraged to gradually increase their commitment to the group's activities. so that eventually it monopolises their time and their thinking.  This appalling example warns us all of the need to retain our ability to think for ourselves, and never to imagine that any one person or small group has all the answers to our problems.   -  Dennis Tourish, Professor of Leadership at the School of Management, Royal Holloway, University of London.